Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus marinating time
Rare: 20 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 20 minutes
Medium: 25 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 25 minutes
Well done: 30 minutes per 450g/1lb plus 30 minutes
1. Place the joint on a chopping board and make several slashes over the surface with a sharp knife, taking care not to cut any butcher's string or meat bands. Season on both sides and push the thyme and rosemary into the slits.
2. Place the beef in a strong, large double lined plastic freezer bag and add the cider and oil. Seal the bag, place on a large plate and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or if time allows, overnight, turning once.
3. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5, 180-190°C, 350-375°F.
4. Remove the beef from the marinade (reserve the marinade) and transfer to a rack in a large non-stick roasting tin. Pour over the marinade and open roast for the preferred, calculated cooking time, basting occasionally with any rich meat juices. Cover with foil if browning too quickly.
5. One hour before the end of the cooking time, remove the beef and rack from the
tin and add the fennel and onions. Position the beef on top of the vegetables without the rack and return to the oven for the remainder of the cooking time.
6. Transfer the beef to a large warm plate, cover and leave to rest for 20 minutes.
7. Slice the beef and serve with the pan juices, fennel, onions and a salad or beetroot and orange relish.
Beetroot, Apple and Orange Relish
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
15ml/1tbsp rapeseed or olive oil
2 small onions, peeled and finely chopped
5ml/1tsp ground allspice
2.5ml/½tsp ground cinnamon
2 medium cooked fresh beetroot, peeled and coarsely grated
2 sharp green apples, e.g Granny Smith, cored and grated
200g/7oz brown sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 large orange
250ml/9floz red wine vinegar
1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Cook the onions, spices and salt for 4-5 minutes or until soft, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the beetroot, apple, sugar, orange zest and vinegar. Cook uncovered for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
3. Sterilise a large empty jam jar in a preheat oven to Gas mark ¼ 110°C/225°F (wash the jar and lid first in hot soapy water then rinse thoroughly). Sterilise in the oven for 20 minutes. Fill the jar with the relish whilst the jar is still hot.
4. Serve the relish with the beef.
Once sealed the relish will keep in the fridge for up to 2 months and is great served with cold meats.
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
1. To prepare the piccalilli; mix together the gherkins, cucumber, cauliflower, green beans and red pepper. Add the vinegar, honey and mustard. Mix well, cover and leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, or overnight, if time allows for the flavours to infuse.
2. In a large bowl mix together the lamb, sultanas, onion, coriander, curry paste and seasoning.
3. Place each puff pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Cut into two long rectangles, lengthways. You should have four rectangles. Place a layer of the lamb mixture down the middle of each pastry rectangles in total.
4. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 6, 200°C/400°F. Brush one side of the pastry with the beaten egg, fold the other side of the pastry over to meet the egg washed side.
5. Seal the edges with a fork. Glaze the top of the pastry with the egg wash. Cut 6 rolls from each length.
6. Transfer the 24 rolls to 2 large non-stick baking trays, leaving plenty of room for each roll to rise. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.
7. Serve the lamb rolls with the piccalilli.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 4-6 minutes
1. To prepare the mint relish; in a small bowl mix all the ingredients together, cover and set aside.
2. Place the steaks on a chopping board. Season and sprinkle with the lemon zest on both sides then brush with the oil.
3. Cook on a prepared barbecue or under a preheated moderate grill for 2-3 minutes.
4. Transfer the lamb onto warm plates and top with the roasted peppers. Scatter the Feta on top and spoon over the relish.
5. Serve with a crisp green salad.
As an alternative replace the Feta with firm goat's cheese.
Preparation time: 30 minutes, plus marinating time
Cooking time: Under 25 minutes
1. In a shallow non-metallic dish mix the marinade ingredients together. Add the beef, stir gently, cover and marinate in the fridge for 2 hours, or if time allow overnight.
2. To prepare the sweetcorn fritters; in a small bowl mix all the ingredients together (except the oil), season well, cover and set aside.
3. Thread the beef onto 6 metal or wooden skewers (previously soaked in water), remove any excess marinade and cook on a prepared barbecue or under a preheated moderate grill for 12-16 minutes, turning occasionally.
4. Meanwhile, prepare the fritters, heat the oil in a large shallow non-stick frying pan and cook the fritters, a tablespoon at a time for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden. Remove and drain on absorbent kitchen paper.
5. Serve the skewers with the fritters and a salad garnish.
Preparation time: 25 minutes, plus marinating time
Cooking time: (Based on a 2cm/¾in thick steak)
Rare: 2½ minutes on each side
Medium: 4 minutes on each side
Well done: 6 minutes on each side
1. To prepare the marinade; in a shallow non metallic dish mix all the ingredients together.
2. Add the steaks, cover and marinate in the fridge for up to 2 hours, or if time allows, overnight.
3. To prepare the noodle salad; put all the ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the dressing ingredients together, pour over the salad and toss gently. Season.
4. Remove the steaks from the marinade and cook according to your preference on a prepared barbecue or under a moderate preheated grill.
5. Serve the steaks with the salad.
*For flat iron steaks follow the cooking times below:
Rare - 2 minutes on each side
Medium Rare - 3-4 minutes on each side
Medium - 5-7 minutes on each side
For best results cover with foil and rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
Preparation time: 25 minutes
Cooking time: 4 hours
1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3, 170°C, 325°F. To prepare the spiced rub; in a small bowl mix all the ingredients together, except the grape juice.
2. Place the joint in a non-stick roasting tin and coat on both sides with the rub. Pour the grape juice around the lamb, cover with baking parchment then foil. Roast for 4 hours, turning half way during cooking.
3. Meanwhile, to prepare the fennel and chilli slaw; in a large bowl mix together the ingredients and set aside.
4. Remove the lamb from the tin and finish on a medium prepared barbecue for 10 minutes on each side (optional).
5. Place the joint on a chopping board and 'pull' the cooked lamb apart by securing the joint with a fork and shredding the meat with another fork.
6. Serve the lamb in flatbreads or pitta breads with the coleslaw.
This is a foolproof recipe from Grandma Abson's Traditional Baking collection which I make every Christmas. There is rarely a piece of it left by 1 January! Grandma would make Christmas Cakes well in advance in late October or early November. This allows time to prick the cake all over the top once it's cool and pour a tablespoonful of brandy on it. You can do this two or three times before putting on the Almond paste and icing to keep it moist.
Heat the oven to 325F, Mark 3, 170C. Line an 8inch/21cms cake tin – either round or square with greaseproof or baking paper or use a cake liner. Cream the butter and sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. You can do this in a food mixer. Add the warmed treacle and golden syrup to the mixture. Add the beaten eggs gradually and half of the flour and spices (cinnamon and mixed spice). Mix well. Stir in the nuts/almonds and cherries and then the rest of the flour , dried fruit and mixed peel. Add the stout at the end. Put the mixture into the cake tin and smooth over the top , making a slight indent in the middle - this stops the cake from rising too much in the middle and cracking. Bake for 3 – 3½ hours. Start with the oven fairly warm for 30 minutes at 325F, Mark 3, 170C and then gradually reduce over the time to finish in a slow oven at 250F, Mark ½, 130C.
Grandma's Tips : Wrap several layers of brown paper or newspaper around the cake tin and tie it with string before putting the cake into the oven to prevent burning.
Grandma made strict use of a thin cake skewer or cake tester to stick in the cake and check if it was thoroughly cooked. If it was cooked, there should be no trace of the mixture when the skewer is taken out, but if traces of the mixture remain on the skewer, then it needs further cooking time.
Ready for the oven A Perfect bake!
PUTTING THE ICING ON THE CAKE
Grandma would put the finishing touches to her cake a couple of weeks or so before Christmas.
You need to first cover the Fruit Cake with a layer of Almond Paste (or marzipan). Grandma always made her own Almond Paste (or marzipan). It's really easy. Grandma also sometimes used to add a little sherry or brandy to the mixture for an even stronger kick.
Mix the almonds and sugar together. Add sufficient lemon juice and/or water to make a stiff paste. First of all spread a thin layer of Apricot jam over the cake before placing the layer of rolled out Almond paste (usually about 3/8 inch /1 cm thick) on the top and sides.
You can always put dried fruit, nuts and glace cherries which have been folded in a redcurrant jelly and apricot jam glaze to make a jewel of a topping.
Sieve the icing sugar and add a little lemon juice and enough whites of the eggs to make it like the consistency of whipped cream. Beat for 15 minutes or until it will adhere to the spoon when held up. Do not beat too long. It may be necessary to add a little more sugar.
Grandma's Tip : Add a teaspoonful of glycerine to the mixture and this will stop the icing drying out.
Meryl's Tips : Use Ready to Roll icing to spread over the cake. A Cake smoother is really useful to get a perfect finish. Or, if you do make the icing yourself, use a fork to make peaks in the icing to simulate a snow scene.