My first real challenge: Mary Berry’s treacle tart with woven lattice top

The History Treacle Tart is odd.  It doesn’t have any treacle in it! Treacle Tart’s key ingredient is actually Golden Syrup, which makes this delightfully British desert, fairly young, as it was only “invented” with the advent of the gold … Continue reading

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories

Winter must be cold for those with no warm memories. – From the movie An Affair to Remember I cannot believe that a year ago I started this little blog of mine.  So much has happened, and yet in comparison to … Continue reading

Celebrating the twelfth night (or not)

I can’t think of anything more depressing.  Some people like returning their house to normal.  Me – I love Christmas.  I love twinkle lights and pretty trees.  Tonight, I’d much rather be eating minced pies, drinking mulled wine and admiring the beautiful baubles I hunt tirelessly for every year. Instead I’m taking down all of our Christmas decorations and packing them carefully away for the rest of the year and dreading what comes next. 

The diets. The workouts.I used to be a gym addict. 5 times a week. Some times three hours a day. Buns of steel. Well nearly. Then I met Andy and instead it was cinnamon buns and three hour stews! Since we married I’ve put one a whole stone. But I’ve so enjoyed putting it on. The baking.  The roasting.  The glazing.  But apparently Andy’s put on a whopping two stone. All from my addiction to cooking rich French food. So alas. It’s coming to an end. Not only Christmas but my addiction. Bring on the healthy cook books. Sob sob.

So January.  What else do we have to look forward to?

Apparently from the 8th of January it’s Universal Letter Writing week, so I’m going to put pen to paper and say thanks to all those who were kind enough to send me nice Christmas presents.  Plus, I honestly feel these days people don’t even bother to check their mail.  Either they get everything by email or in the post it’s just junk mail or bills.  So once in a while it’s nice to see something land on your doorstep nicely hand written and with some positive words enclosed.  I’m not saying what I’ll be sending will be anything special, I’m not into all that handmade card business – I did that for our wedding and it was quite frankly painful, but maybe I might learn one day, at least for special birthdays or occasions – we’ll see where this perfect housewife road will take me.

From the 23-27th it’s Clean out your inbox week.  My work inbox isn’t too bad really, I have on average 45 emails in there a day which need answering.  I know the status on all of them.  My personal inbox though, oh my days.  8126 emails.  Can you believe that?  So, this year.  I will be celebrating this new international holiday and will be determined to deal with at least half of them. 

(It’s January 27th – just spent the whole night going through my emails and got them down to 555 – I’m so proud.  My husband thinks I’m silly!)

29th January – 2nd February is Meat week – and I will be looking forward to that.  A brisket perhaps.  Or some duck.  I will be sure to post some inspirational recipes for you all.

And then, back in the homestead, Hubby will be fitting us a new downstairs toilet.  Since we moved in, this poor loo has featured a leopard skin cover fitted by his ex.  I cannot say I will be sad to see this go.  It’s bloody hideous.  I will need to take a photo before it’s taken away to help expose its vulgarity.  So, that will be nice.  More dust to look forward to as walls are ripped apart and I’m sure there will be plumbing episode or two, but at the end of it, we will have a nicely working toilet downstairs for any visitor to frequent – currently they are banished to the upstairs loo as no one is allowed to use the vulgar “builder’s loo” except builders and people who stand to pee.

Then, I think, this will be the month we may finally finish the kitchen.  After months of searching for suitable tiles, we have officially given up and decided to just paint the backs of the kitchen units, covered by a piece of glass or Perspex above the cooker to aid cleaning.  I can’t wait for this to be finally finished.  My kitchen is my joy.  When I moved into Andy’s house, this was where all my money went from my flat sale.  It was what made the house ours. We knocked down walls, put in a brand new kitchen and added a conservatory.  Andy has done a wonderful job decorating.  It really looks beautiful.  And I love cooking in there.  I feel like a cross between Nigella and Julia Child! 

And lastly, I will be hosting my first ever baby shower for my work colleague who’s baby is due in March.  I will be sure to post any successful game ideas, food thoughts, and gifts to help any others who maybe planning similar events.  It seems everyone is having babies at the moment. 

Apart from that, January is the month for hibernation.  So I will be mostly staying at home, developing my mind . . . watching TV box sets and snuggled up on the sofa drinking cocoa.

Leftover Christmas ham and pea tagliatelle


It’s January 4 and we still have ham leftover from Christmas dinner.  Ham recipe is being kept top-secret until official ham baking day on Christmas Eve!  But it will be worth it.

Obviously you don’t need leftover ham for this, or perhaps you have ham left over from a normal roast or similar.  But this quick evening tea takes about 20 minutes, and is only 500 calories.

Serves 4
Cost: approx. £2 per serving
300g Tagliatelle
325g frozen peas (optional)
1tbsp olive oil
250g mushrooms slice (optional*)
2tbsp fresh chives (chopped)
140g of thickly carved roast ham, trimmed of fat and chopped into bite-size pieces
200g reduced-fat crème fraiche
1tbsp Dijon Mustard
25 Parmesan (grated)

1.       Add the pasta to a pan of boiling water.  Bring back to the boil and simmer as per the packet instructions (approx. 9minutes).  Add the peas for the last 5 minutes.  Drain and reserve 4tbsp cooking water.  Return to the pan.

2.       While the pasta is cooking, heat the oil and cook the mushrooms (optional).  If not, just add the crème fraiche straight to a small pan, plus the ham, chives and mustard and heat until simmering.

3.       Season with pepper.  Add the sauce to the pasta with the reserved cooking water and toss together.  Serve immediately with grated Parmesan and ground black pepper.




*you’ll notice I always say mushrooms are optional.  It’s the only vegetable I cannot stand.  But I do recognise others love them and when a recipe probably would taste better with them – in which this one is the case.  But it does work without too.  Peas are also optional, this dish works with and without.