Mulled Wine

The easy way. Modern. Heated in the microwave. If microwaves had been invented when mulled wine was, this is how it would have been made.

I use wine that I buy in a cask at twelve dollars for four point four litres. I know – call me crazy – but I think it’s worth paying that much, just to get the good stuff.

Orange essential oil provides the zest flavour without the bother of finding a clean orange and grating it. I use real orange juice, but any will do, or none at all. I often leave it out completely and add more wine. Brandy or orange liqueur can be substituted, or added, at Christmas.

The star anise and orange juice are optional. Well, it all is really. Except the wine. It would be silly to leave that out.


  • Red wine
  • Orange juice
  • Orange essential oil
  • Raw or brown Sugar
  • Powdered cloves
  • Powdered cinnamon (NOT cassia)
  • Powdered star anise

  1. Pour 200 ml red wine into a 300 ml tumbler
  2. Add 2 tsp sugar and mix
  3. Add 2 drops orange oil, a pinch each of cloves and star anise and a more generous pinch of cinnamon
  4. Nuke the wine for 2 minutes
  5. Add 50 to 75 ml fresh orange juice and stir
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At Last! Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I have always been a follower of the “milk in scramble, water in omelette” school of culinary thought. But today, acting on a tip from the Internet, I discovered that the perfect scrambled eggs is made with lemon juice.

That’s parsley from my flower pot completing the taste bud rhapsody.

  • 3 eggs
  • 1Tbsp lemon juice
  • Salt
  • White pepper
  • Lots of parsley
  • Butter in the pan
  • Buttered Toast

Chop the parsley, whisk eggs and lemon juice, season. Add the parsley.

Melt butter in pan over moderate heat

Cook the scrambled egg in the butter, moving it gently as it sets. Turn off the heat well before the egg is fully set. Let it set slowly until it is creamy and moist but not overdone.

Serve on buttered toast.

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Caravan Slow Cooked Guinness Steak and Kidney Cottage Pie.

My electric wok thermostat allows me to set it 80C, which means I can use it as a slow cooker. This means I can make a one pot recipe. No need to fry and transfer to a slow cooker. Less to clean up.

This is a near traditional recipe almost just like my grandmother made. Except she would use water rather than Guinness. Also it was my idea to make it a cottage pie with potato on top instead of pastry.

The problem with preparing something like steak and kidney is that it is virtually impossible to make a reasonable amount for a single serving for one person. Therefore I need to make a lot and freeze some for another day. I don’t want steak and kidney every day for a week.


  • 1kg lean stewing or chuck steak cut into 25mm cubes
  • 500g lambs kidney, or ox kidney, cleaned and chopped.
  • 2 cups Guinness
  • 2 beef Oxo cubes, crumbled
  • 2 anchovies
  • 1Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp thick soy sauce, or mushroom soy
  • 2 cups chopped carrot
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup flour (I prefer wholemeal).
  • Black pepper
  • White pepper
  • 1/2 tsp mustard
  • 1 tsp mixed herbs (thyme, sage rosemary)
  • Oil for frying
  • Mashed potato
  • Your favourite cheese(s)


  1. Mix the steak, sauces, anchovy, crumbled oxo and mustard
  2. Marinate in a covered container in the fridge at least 1 hour
  3. Roll the meat cubes in flour and coat well
  4. Fry onions in oil until browned and put aside
  5. Fry the floured meat in oil, in batches until well browned on all sides
  6. Add the kidneys and fry until they are browned
  7. Rinse out the container used to marinate the meat with Guinness
  8. Mix the Guinness with the remaining flour and add to the wok with all other ingredients. (Not the potato and cheese).
  9. Bring to a simmer than turn down to slow cooking mode (or transfer to a slow cooker)
  10. Cook 4 to 6 hours until steak is tender and gravy is thick.
  11. Eat some for dinner, leave the rest to cool.
  12. Place in pie dishes or foil trays and top with mashed potato.
  13. Wrap in cling film and freeze until needed
  14. Reheat when thawed in an oven (or BBQ) at 180 for 30 minutes
Posted in barbecue, Beef, cheese, comfort food, Cottage, Irish, pies, sacred food, Steak & Kidney, Stew, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Spaghetti and Meatballs in Creamy Pumpkin Sauce

This is really good! Even if I say so myself. The photos do not do it justice. It would be perfect for vegetarians without the meatballs and speck.

I had some leftover roast pumpkin that I had cooked with chicken and with maple syrup. (Incidentally, do try this. The combination of pumpkin and maple is divine. Also you must try the toffee that forms when the syrup pools and hardens in the baking dish).

I thought it was time to come up with a different sauce to use with spaghetti. This experiment came out so very, very well. The sauce is a bright yellow colour that is not very photogenic in artificial light, but looks really good in person. It tastes superb!

I could have made the sauce very smooth and creamy using a blender wand, but I went for the rustic look. In retrospect it might have been prettier blended.

I made meatballs using my current favourite meatloaf recipe, excluding the boiled eggs and tomato, of course. I rolled them in a mixture of panko and my home made breadcrumbs and shallow fried them in olive oil. These may be the best meatballs I ever made too. Fitting for the sauce.

The final touch is some toasted pine nuts.


Amounts in proportion to the amount of pumpkin and number of servings intended. Cooking is an art. Be creative.

  • Pine nuts, lightly toasted in a hint of olive oil
  • Meatballs, shallow fried in oil and kept warm
  • Breadcrumbs/Panko to roll the meatballs in before frying.
  • Spaghetti cooked al dente and kept warm
  • Roast butternut pumpkin pieces , mashed
  • Speck, chopped
  • A drizzle of Maple syrup
  • chicken or vegetable stock.
  • A hint of garlic
  • Turmeric
  • Salt and pepper
  • Cream
  • Toasted pine nuts


  1. Cook the spaghetti
  2. Cook the meatballs
  3. Toast the pine nuts
  4. Chop and fry the speck.
  5. Keep the spaghetti and meatballs warm,
  6. Put the speck aside if intending to blend the sauce.
  7. Heat the pumpkin, seasoning, garlic and turmeric with the stock and bring to a simmer
  8. At this stage blend to a smooth purée if desired
  9. Reintroduce the speck after blending
  10. Simmer on low heat until reduced to a thick sauce that piles and slumps rather than flow.
  11. Add the cream and a dash of maple syrup and gently reheat without boiling.
  12. The sauce should be a thick creamy pouring consistency.
  13. Assemble the pasta and meatballs and pour the sauce over.
  14. Top with pine nuts.
Posted in Bacon, comfort food, Con-fusion cooking, Pasta, sauce, slow cooker | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pumpkin Cashew Korma

  • Having just discovered the delightful combination of butternut pumpkin and maple syrup, I wondered how it might go in a korma. It was going to be vegetarian, but then I remembered I had some leftover roast lamb. This experiment came out really well. So well I decided to blog it.
  • Ingredients. (vegetarian option)

    • Pumpkin – about 600g
    • Red lentils 1/4 cup
    • 1 Onion, chopped
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Cashews
    • Coconut cream
    • Grd coriander
    • Grd cumin
    • Chilli
    • Turmeric
    • Water or vegetable stock
    • Maple syrup 1 Tbsp
    • Garam Masala
    • Salt and pepper
    • Oil or ghee
    • Sunflower seeds
    • Rice

    Amounts not definitive. Work out how much you want to make.

    Meat option:

    As above but with added cubes of chicken, goat or lamb. ( i added some leftover cooked lamb) It would good too marinate raw meat a while in yoghurt, garlic and ginger (next time).


    • Cook the lentils in water as per packet instructions until tender, transfer to slow cooker.
    • Steam cubes of pumpkin until cooked
    • Transfer half the pumpkin pieces to the slow cooker
    • mash the remaining half with a Tbsp of of maple syrup and transfer to slow cooker
    • Fry chopped onion in ghee or oil, add cumin and mustard seeds
    • Add ginger, garlic, turmeric, chilli, ground coriander and fry a few minutes
    • If including meat, add now.
    • Put half a can of thick coconut cream in a blender with a generous handful of cashews ( I use salted roasted-no need to add more salt unless you want to). Add water or stock and blend to a smooth creamy consistency
    • Add to the onion and spices, bring to a simmer then transfer everything to the slow cooker.
    • Everything should by now already be cooked, so just add the Garam Masala, mix, and simmer until all flavours are melded. Add more seasoning if necessary.
    • Serve with rice and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds.


    I think this would work with mashed kumara and cubed potato.

    Posted in coconut, comfort food, curry, fusion, sauce, slow cooker, Vegetarian | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

    Roast Lamb Dinner

    Dinner for four, me and my three imaginary friends. (One of us doesn’t like potato). Half a leg of boneless lamb, and vegetables. The pumpkin is stuffed with sunflower seeds and maple syrup. The hasselback potatoes are stuffed with garlic butter. There’s garlic on the lamb. Everything has been sprayed with olive oil. Bisto gravy made separately

    No instructions, this is all freehand.

    The combination of pumpkin and maple syrup is amazingly delicious.

    Posted in accompaniment, barbecue, comfort food, potato, Roast, vegetables | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment