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After the very successful and jolly wine tasting evening in November, I have been asked by several satisfied tasters for the ‘bowl food’ recipes that were served that evening. Following the wine tasting, hot food was served in bowls which not only made it easier to serve and eat but also made for a relaxed and casual atmosphere (which I’m sure had nothing to do with the preceding wine tasting).
The Irish Stew recipe can be found at
here. This recipe uses lamb neck fillet, however, because we were cooking for a crowd, we used a mixture of lamb neck fillets and shoulder of lamb and this worked equally well. The Pilaf recipe is suitable for vegetarians and vegans, so may be useful over Christmas when you have visitors, or simply when you want a change from turkey! Happy Cooking! E.L.
Broccoli, Coconut and Wild Rice Pilaf (Serves 6-8)

3 tblsps coconut oil
1 tsp each, ground ginger, cinnamon and coriander
2 small onions, peeled and sliced finely, lengthways
125g mixed wild rice
125g black venus rice (* see note opposite)
400ml can coconut milk
150ml vegetable stock, plus extra for the white rice
1 red pepper, de-seeded and finely sliced
1 orange or yellow pepper, de-seeded and finely sliced
225g ‘easy-cook’ white long grain rice
60g whole almonds, toasted
20g raw coconut chips, toasted
1 x 350g head broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
1 red chilli, de-seeded and cut into thin strips
fresh coriander, chopped
salt and black pepper, to taste


Heat 2 tablespoons of the coconut oil in a large, deep skillet or frying pan. Gently fry the spices for a minute, then add the sliced onions and continue frying until they are soft but not browned. Stir in the wild and black rice followed by the coconut milk and 150ml stock. Season with a little black pepper then cover and cook very gently for 25 - 35 minutes, or until the rice has cooked.
In the meantime, heat the remaining coconut oil in a frying pan and fry the sliced pepper until they are just beginning to brown. Set aside. Toast the almonds (*see below) and coconut (carefully, just a minute or two as it will easily burn) and set aside.

Cook the white rice in plenty of vegetable stock (or boiling water) until it is just cooked. Drain well, rinse with hot water then mix into the black rice mixture. Season with salt and pepper, as needed and return to a low heat.

Steam the broccoli until just cooked, then gently stir the broccoli, peppers and almonds into the rice mixture. Serve in warmed bowls and top with strips of chilli, toasted coconut and fresh coriander.
Parmesan and Rosemary Coins (Makes approx. 70 biscuits)

100g butter, softened
100g plain flour
50g strong cheddar, finely grated
20g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tsps finely chopped fresh rosemary


Place all the ingredients in a food processor and process until the mixture almost comes together into a dough. Tip into a bowl and using your fingertips gently bring it all together into a smooth ball, kneading lightly.

Cut the mixture into quarters and roll each quarter in to a sausage shape approx. 3cm in diameter. Wrap each roll in cling film and chill for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Heat the oven to 180ºC / Gas 4. Line a large baking tray with greaseproof paper. Cut the dough into discs twice the thickness of a one pound coin and arrange on the baking tray, leaving about 1.5cm between discs.
Bake for 13-14 minutes or until light brown and crisp. Transfer the biscuits to a cooling tray. Store in an airtight container.
Toasted Almonds make a excellent accompaniment to drinks or just a tasty (healthy) snack at any time. To simply toast them, spread them on a baking tray and bake in a hot oven (200ºC / Gas 6) for 8 minutes, shaking the tray well halfway through cooking.
Pomegranate and Rose Fizz

Mix together 500ml pomegranate juice, 100ml elderflower cordial and 1-2 teaspoons of rosewater. When ready to serve, pour a little of the mix (about 50ml) into champagne flutes and dilute with sparkling mineral water. To make an alcoholic fizz, use less of the pomegranate mix and dilute with champagne or prosecco to taste. Serve immediately. *The strength of rosewater can vary, so start by adding 1 tsp and add more if necessary. The taste should be subtle.
* Black Venus or Venere Nero is a whole-grain rice with an unmistakable natural black colour that, while cooking, releases the characteristic scent of sandal wood and freshly baked bread. Originating from China, it is also currently cultivated in the Lombardy and Piedmont areas of Italy.

It is known as the "Forbidden Rice of the Emperor", as it is said to have been eaten only by him for its nutritional and aphrodisiac properties. This rice has a high content of minerals, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Selenium, which are beneficial to our health.
Ready made cheese biscuits and salted snacks are so expensive to buy and surprisingly easy to make, so I have included a few of my favourites here. They can all be made in advance of Christmas and either stored in airtight containers or, in the case of the cheese biscuits, frozen until ready to use. [Or stolen when the maker isn't looking! - Webmaster]
Cheese Straws (makes approx. 140 straws)

375g self raising flour
225g cold butter, diced
150g mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
50g freshly grated parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tsps English mustard powder
2 free-range egg yolks


Sift the flour into a large bowl and rub in the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. (Or do this step in a food processor.) Stir in the grated cheeses and the mustard powder. Mix the egg yolks with 4 tablespoons of cold water and add to the other ingredients, mixing it all quickly with a fork to bring the dough together. Add an extra tablespoon of water if necessary. Using your hands gently knead the dough to form a ball then cut into two and wrap each piece of dough in clingfilm.
Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC / Gas 6. Line two baking trays with baking parchment. Taking one of the pieces of dough, roll it out on a floured surface to an oblong approx. 29cm x 21cm – using an A4 sheet of paper as a template. The dough should be about 1 cm thick. Fold the paper template into two, lengthways, then use as a template to cut the sheet of dough in half, so that you have two long oblongs. Cut each oblong into 1 cm strips. Carefully transfer the strips to the lined baking trays and chill in the fridge for 5 -10 minutes before baking.

Bake for 8 minutes, turning the trays halfway through the cooking time. When crisp and light golden brown, remove from the oven and transfer the cheese straws to a cooling tray.

Repeat with the second piece of dough.

Store in an airtight box or freeze until ready to serve.
Walnut and Apple and Cranberry Crumble (Serves 6)

120g self raising flour
90g butter, cold and diced
3 tblsps light muscovado sugar
60g walnuts, finely chopped
750g eating apples, peeled and cored
1 tblsp butter
50g dried cranberries
zest and juice of ½ orange
clotted cream, to serve

Process the flour and butter together – in short bursts - until it is a rough, crumbley mixture. If you process too finely, the mixture will make a cakey topping, you are aiming to still see small nuggets of butter. Stir in the sugar and walnuts and store in the freezer until ready to use.

Cut the apples into chunks and toss them with a tablespoon of butter in a pan, for a minute or two over moderate heat. Stir in the dried cranberries, orange zest and juice. Place a little of the fruit in the base of 6 large ramekin dishes and top with the crumble mixture. Bake for approx. 10 minutes in a hot oven (200º C / Gas 6). Serve with a spoonful of clotted cream.
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