Month: October 2011

Mulled Cider

Mulled cider is the new mulled wine and it’s not just for Christmas; it’s light enough to enjoy on any cold evening when you fancy a warm, comforting tipple.







Serves 4

1 litre/2 pints dry, still cider

300ml apple juice

1 10cm cinnamon stick

3 cloves

1 star anise/3 all-spice berries (optional)

zest of an orange

grating of nutmeg

apple slices

brown sugar to taste

50ml Somerset cider brandy

Pour all ingredients, except the brandy, into a saucepan and simmer gently for 30 minutes, do not boil. Pour into mugs/glasses and add a dram of brandy to each.


Apple and quince crumble






Serves 4


4 Bramley apples

2 quinces

25g butter

50g dark brown sugar

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon (or a 5cm stick of cinnamon)

25ml Somerset cider brandy

Crumble topping;

50g butter

50g demerara sugar

75g plain flour

25g oats

25g roughly chopped hazelnuts

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

First, place the whole quinces in a saucepan, cover with water and poach until tender. Leave to cool and then peel, core and chop into large chunks. Peel, core and chop the apples into large chunks. Heat the butter, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan, add 1/3 of the apples and cook for 5 minutes, add another 1/3 of the apples and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the last 1/3 of the apples and continue to cook until they are just tender, by this point you should have a mixture of slightly mushy and some firm apples. Remove from the heat and stir in the quinces and brandy.

For the crumble topping rub together the flour, butter and sugar to resemble breadcrumbs. Add the chopped hazelnuts, oats and cinnamon and stir in.

Sprinkle over the top of the apple/quince filling in an ovenproof dish and bake at 180c for 20 mins, or until golden and crispy on top.

Serve with double cream, ice cream or custard.



I know it’s scary to start thinking about Christmas in October but mincemeat benefits from a month or so resting period for the flavours to develop so it is best to get it done around about now to be ready to use in December.

This recipe is adapted from Delia Smith’s version, I’m not a big fan of currants and mixed peel so I’ve substituted dried apricots and cranberries which are more expensive but tastier in my opinion. In her recipe, Delia recommends warming the mixture (before adding the brandy) to melt the suet so that, as it cools, it coats the pieces of fruit and prevents excess juice leaking out, which can lead to fermentation if stored for a while.

Makes 3 x 1lb jars

225g Bramley apples, peeled and finely chopped/grated

110g suet

175g sultanas

110g raisins

110g dried apricots, chopped

110g dried cranberries

175g dark brown sugar

1 orange and 1 lemon, zest and juice

25g almonds, chopped

2 tsp mixed spice

1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

pinch of nutmeg

3 tablespoons Somerset cider brandy

Mix all the ingredients (except the brandy) together in a bowl, cover loosely with foil and warm in the oven at about 120c for 2-3 hours to melt the suet. Stir from time to time while cooling. When cool, stir in the cider brandy and pot in sterilised jars. For best results, store for about a month before using. Will keep for about a year if kept unopened in a cool place.


Cassoulet is a traditional Southern French peasant dish. The name is a derivative of casserole and refers to the name of the pot it’s cooked in. There seems to be many differences of opinion over what makes a good cassoulet, try it for yourself and see what you think.

What I love about this dish, other than that it is delicious, comforting and simple, is that you can use up pretty much any leftover meat that you have at hand. You can vary the meats used but pork works well so should be included in some form. You can confit the duck leg yourself (ask me for a recipe) or buy ready-prepared in specialist shops (such as Castellano’s). Toulouse sausages are, arguably, an essential addition and I like the inclusion of braised lamb shoulder. I don’t think there are many things more satisfying than a big pot of Cassoulet replete with meaty goodness with a glass of robust red, especially when coordinated with cold, dreary weather outside.

This recipe for Cassoulet is just a suggestion and not intended to be authentic (I’m not French after all) but I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Serves 4-6

1 confit duck, goose or rabbit leg

250g lamb shoulder

250g pork belly, or shoulder

300g Toulouse sausages

2 medium onions

3-4 cloves of garlic

1-2 cloves

bay leaf, thyme & parsley, tied into a bouquet garni

100g pork rind

1 tin of chopped tomatoes (or fresh, skinned and de-seeded)

About 75g breadcrumbs

salt and pepper

450g dried white haricot beans, soaked overnight

Drain the soaked beans, place in a saucepan and cover with cold water. Add a peeled onion studded with the cloves, peeled garlic, pork rind and the bouquet garni. Bring to the boil, skim any scum that comes to the surface, and simmer until the beans are tender. Season well and discard the onion, pork rind and herbs. Cut the sausages, and pork belly into chunks and brown in a pan in batches, preferably in a little duck fat. If using cooked/confit duck, rabbit, lamb shoulder, flake into large chunks and brown in the pan too. Leave on the bone if you like but remember to warn your guests. Dice the remaining onion and garlic and sweat off in a pan until softened. Add the tomatoes and simmer until thick and saucy, season. Stir the beans into the tomato sauce and then assemble in an earthenware dish with the browned meats. Top with breadcrumbs and bake at 150-160c for 1-2 hours until piping hot with a golden crust on top.

Wine match from Grape & Grind:

Cassoulet is a big fave of  mine and I like to go quite rustic and chewy for
the wine to go with it.
Domaine Berthoumieu Madiran 2007 £10.75 – From the grapes Tannat and
Cabernet Sauvignon, Madiran is a full-bodied and full flavoured to match the
rich food of SW France. Perfect for Cassoulet.