Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Christmas Starter idea

Goats cheese and spiced pear salad

I tasted this in a restaurant one night and thought ‘I have to make this’. It was first time I had tasted goat’s cheese… yum!! The dressing is as close as I could remember and after a few attempts this one worked best. I have put in recipe to use spices of your choice, I use whatever jumps out at me when I open the cupboard. You can simply use All Spice!

Serves 4:
Packet of filo pastry
2 tins of quartered pears
300g Goat's cheese
fresh rocket
Pine nuts
Sun dried tomatoes
All spice

50ml balsamic vinegar
Splash of soy sauce
Splash of oyster sauce
Tablespoon of honey
Sea salt & black pepper
Glass of red wine
Glug of olive oil


  1. Open and drain the pears, cut the quarters into half again and sprinkle well with spices. Place on an oiled baking tray and bung into a preheated oven of 180Âșc. They will take 30 mins or so to soften up and coloured.

  1. Take out the Filo Pastry and follow the instructions on the packet. Season the Goat's cheese with black pepper. You are looking to make parcels with a goat’s cheese filling. However you wish to parcel them up is up to you. Place in oven for 15 mins or until they are nice and golden and crispy.

  1. In the meantime making the dressing couldn’t be easier. Pour the glass of wine into a pan and boil until it has reduced by at least half, take of the heat. In a clean empty jam jar pour the rest of the ingredients in, season well and with the lid tightly on give a good shake. Add in the cooled, reduced wine and shake again. It will be ready to spoon over. Toast the pine nuts.

  1. To plate up, place a handful of washed rocket leaves on centre of plate with the goat’s cheese parcel on top. Place the spiced pears around in clock number fashion with the sun dried tomatoes. Sprinkle over with toasted pine nuts and spoon over some dressing.


Sunday, 4 December 2011

Smells Like Christmas

Mulled Wine

There is nothing like the smell of mulled wine about the house to really get me into a Christmas mood. It just fills the house with every scent that sums up this time of year. When the weather outside is frightful then a glass of this will warm the cockles of your heart. There is no point in boiling the life out of all your wine and boiling off the alcohol so that's why its best to make a syrup at the start then add the rest of the wine to it and just keep warm.

3-4 clementines
1 lemon
1 lime
1 cinnamon stick
1 nutmeg
2 star anise
3 cardamom pods
3 bay leaves
6 cloves
1teaspoon of vanilla essence 
275g caster sugar
2 bottles of good red wine


  • With a speedy peeler, peel large sections off the clementines, lemon and lime.
  • Add these to a large pot and squeeze out the juice of the clementines, lemon and lime with your hand. Add the sugar and a glass of red wine and turn up the heat. To this add the cloves, cinnamon, cardamom pods, bay leaves, 1 star anise and grate in the nutmeg.
  • Stir in well and bring to the boil and rapid boil for about 5 mins or until thickened then turn the heat down to half and add in the rest of the wine along with the 2nd star anise. 
  • When heated keep it warm and just ladle out into glasses to serve. (If topping up with more wine just add more sugar to taste)
Mulled Wine

And there we have it, a taste an smell of Christmas with this wonderful mulled wine

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