Thursday, 17 December 2015


Good Morning to you,

Do you remember when  I wrote Is age a barrier when it comes to fulfilling your dreams? at the beginning of October.

Well, I have news. It is time for me to tell you what all the excitement was about. I'm just sorry I couldn't tell you before, but the time was not right.

Now firstly, if  you  have been  reading  my blog for a little while,  you  will know why I  started writing Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  but if  you  are a  new reader, I  will explain what motivated me to begin writing my blog. 

You see, I wanted a place to save all our family recipes, so that our girls could dip in and out of them as and when they wanted and so Ivy, Phyllis and Me! was born. In truth, I needed a lot of encouragement from our daughter Natasha, because without her I don't think I would have started Ivy, Phyllis and Me! I prevaricated for quite a long time and even on the day I wrote my first post, I dilly dallied. I was so nervous, but I shouldn't have been, because once I started, I really enjoyed the experience.

I really enjoy sharing my family recipes with you, but over time Ivy, Phyllis and Me! grew to become more than our family recipes. I began sharing recipes with you, which I cooked during the week and Ivy, Phyllis and Me!  evolved even further, as I began sharing snippets from our daily life. 

I pootled along, writing Ivy, Phyllis and Me! knowing that my lovely friends were reading my blog and I love the fact, that you take the time to leave me lovely comments.... but I never imagined, for one moment, that my blog would catch the eye of a production company.... but catch their eye it did.

The amazing day happened when we were visiting Danielle. I received an email from a lovely lady called Sophie. Sophie is a researcher for a well known production company and in her email she asked me to contact her. I read the email and of course, the first thing I thought was,  someone was 'pulling my leg'.   I then received another email from the Assistant Producer, Jonathan, who also wanted to speak to me.  Well, if you could have seen me.... I had a smile on my face, which went from ear to ear, honestly, I was smiling like a Cheshire cat, thinking, oh my word, this must be real. 

Danielle saw my smile and asked why I was smiling. I told her about the emails. She read them, then looked at me and we both screamed, not an hysterical scream, but an excited scream, which brought George into the kitchen to find out what was going on. I told George about the emails, while Danielle and I were dancing around the kitchen, with me saying, 'I can't believe it, I really can't believe it'. 

... but I really needed to compose myself, which I have to say, took quite a long time.  Danielle in the meantime, researched the production company for me and what did she discover....well you'll never believe it, on the board of Senior Management was the one and only Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.... well you could have knocked me down with a feather. 

So what to do first, well of course, I should have contacted the production company, but I was in such a state of excitement, that Danielle said, 'Right, we need to skype Natasha, right now and share the news... this is too important'. While we were talking to Natasha, halfway through the conversation, Danielle had to leave the room, because we were all excitedly talking to each other, and no one could hear what was being said....yes, that is how great the excitement was. Everyone was thrilled for me and no one was surprised, that this had happened.... well apart from me.  My family are so lovely, as they always believed that I would do well with my blog. Both Natasha and Danielle said 'Mum it's true, we told you, you are amazing'... sorry, I am blowing my own trumpet just a little.... and I have to tell you, that is so uncharacteristic of me. 

I calmed myself and I text Sophie who said that Jonathan wanted to speak to me.  We fixed a date and time and when we spoke, Jonathan said he loved my blog. We then talked about the programme he wanted me to be a part of.

Texts then went backwards and forwards, plans were made, dates were made, then changed. Cakes and pies were baked and then changed.... but I really didn't mind, because this was all so exciting.... I mean me, appearing on the television, yes me. What a wonderful, unexpected opportunity and something I could not imagine happening to me in a hundred years. I thought the pinnacle of my success was the fact that I had been interviewed for The Woman's Weekly magazine.... which I was thrilled about.

Everything was moving along splendidly and according to plan, when something very unexpected happened. I received the news that the programmes edit had been brought forward and that scuppered our filming date.

I have to be honest, I had gone from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows.... well not quite, as that is a bit of an exaggeration.... but I have to say, I was disappointed. The experience had been such an emotional roller coaster, but I have to tell you, I would not have changed the experience for the world, because what it made me realise, is, you just don't know who is reading your blog.  The words are typed, the pictures are taken and they are sent out into the big wide world, for people to read and hopefully enjoy, and I for one, never imagined Ivy, Phyllis and Me! would catch the eye of a production company.... but do you know what, it did and I feel so very proud of that fact and I also feel very proud of myself.

I am smiling as I write to you, because I know the opportunity will arise again, if not with this production company, then with another.

So, who knows what will be around the corner for me.... I for one, cannot wait to find out.

With a smile firmly fixed on my face, I think it is time for me to share what we are making today.

Another version of Christmas mince pies, but this time with frangipane.  I love almonds and the mix of mince meat and frangipane makes a lovely mince pie.  What you will discover is that because the mince pies are topped with frangipane, you need much less mincemeat in the pies, so the mince pies are not so sweet.

So it's on with the pinnie and the music I am listening to is,

The beautiful Christmas carol Stille Nacht sung by The King's Singers  (Silent Night).

There are so many different genres of music which I enjoy.  There is music  which makes me happy. There is music which makes me sad... but there  are hymns and carols, which open the door to my heart, and allows a rush of warmth to flow through... and this is one such carol.... please enjoy.

I have not added another piece of music, because I love this so much and so I am listening to it again. No singing this time, just listening while I gather my ingredients.



340g plain flour
85g unsalted butter
85g Trex 
pinch of salt
1-2 tablespoons cold water

To make the pastry we are using the same method as we did for the apple pie. The only thing we will not be adding, is the sugar.


100g unsalted butter
100g sugar
2 eggs
75g self raising flour
75g ground almonds
1 teaspoon of almond extract
1 egg for brushing the pastry


1 450g jar of sweet mincemeat

Pre-heat the oven to 180C or 160C fan


Butter your baking tin.
Remove the pastry from the fridge and cut a third of the pastry.  Put the third back into the fridge to use for the pastry lids.  Roll out the two thirds.
Cut out the pastry cases with a pastry cutter.
The size depends on the size of your baking tins.
Place in the fridge to keep cold.

Next make the pastry tops

I discovered these lovely cutters in a shop called Lakeland... I must admit I love visiting this shop. The cutters remind me of snowflakes, but you can use your normal pastry cutters to cut out the lids.

Remove the third of pastry from the fridge and roll
it out. Cut out the pastry tops. Place them on a baking sheet and pop them into the fridge to keep cold, while you make the frangipane.


Cube the butter
place into a mixing bowl.

Add the sugar
whisk until light and fluffy.

Sieve the flour
Set aside for the moment.

Whisk the eggs together

almond extract and mix together.
Add a tablespoon of egg into the bowl with the beaten butter and sugar and whisk together.
Repeat until the egg is incorporated.
If you find the mixture starts to curdle, add a tablespoon of flour to the mixture.

When all the eggs have been added, 
fold in the 

sifted flour

the almonds.


Place a dessert spoonful of mince meat
into the pastry cases.
If your pastry tins are shallow, you will need to
use less.

a heaped teaspoon
of frangipane.
Do not be tempted to add more, 
otherwise the frangipane will over flow.

Remove the pastry lids from the
fridge and place on top of the frangipane.
Press down lightly.

Brush with beaten egg.

Bake in the pre-heated oven
for 25 minutes or until golden.  
Use a cake skewer to make sure the frangipane 
has baked thoroughly.

Allow to cool for a couple of minutes, then remove the mince pies from the baking tin
 and place on a cooling tray.

and if the fancy takes you.
Place one mince pie in a dish, 
cut it in half
drizzle with brandy cream
enjoy..... as we did.... well I had to make sure they tasted nice, didn't I.

You will find that the mince pie is not as sweet, because there is not as much mincemeat added as in normal mince pies.  Some years I make normal mince pies and other years I ring the changes and make frangipane mince pies, as they make a nice change.

As always, I did have some pastry and mincemeat left over.  Sometimes I freeze the pastry and mincemeat, but sometimes I make a turnover as I did here.

I love the Lakeland pastry cutters which I bought and I love the effect they gave to the mince pies and if I like something, I will always tell you.... and if I don't, well I will never mention it.

What I would say is, if you decide to buy them, I found I needed to use my cake prodder to gently ease the pastry from the snowflake cutters, as they did not release by themselves. I didn't mind doing this as the overall effect was lovely.

Take care and I will see you next Thursday, on Christmas Eve.

This week I will be joining,


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