Seasonal delights: Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

You know how some people are just on top of their stuff or others aren't, but they are better at hiding it? Well, I am neither! And you know what. I don't mind.

It's a bit of an 'in' joke with a couple of mums at school, that I am likely to be the one to forget when it's dress down day or to not read to the end of the email that requests you bring in your bikes or scooters to school. Yes, it feels like a mummy fails when this happens, especially if it evokes tears: But I am coming from a place of authenticity, I am not trying to be something I am not, or be like anybody else. THIS IS ME!

My mind is constantly thinking about food at the moment, as you may well imagine! It is 7 years since I have focused on something that I am passionate about, apart from my kids. I feel the happiest and most content in all of this time, and a happy mummy outweighs the mess ups, I think.

So after troubleshooting the lack of scooter (lucky DS2 scoots to school!!), I could reflect back to this recipe which is from my archive. I have been cooking it for over a decade.

It's great because, with the current difficulties in vegetable growing, this uses the humble cabbage. This recipe calls for a January King cabbage, which is a cross between a Savoy and white cabbage, or just use a straight savoy cabbage. To mix it up sometimes I used a Hisbi cabbage, which at this time of year are normally grown in Spain, so just check to see what you can get at the time. British is best!

It's a really moreish soup, and very fuss free to make, so you may want to double the recipe, as it always seems to run out too quickly for my liking! It has a lovely saltiness of the bacon and a creaminess created by the collapsed red lentils, and if you have all your ingredients, it is easily made in 30-40 minutes!

Let us know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie Facebook group and don't forget to LIKE the Fuss Free Foodie page as the two are going to hold a different function in the next week or so. Also, see my fuss-free world in pictures on Instagram and what I tweet on Twitter! Lisa.x

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup
Serves 3-4

2 large onions, small dice
250g smoked back bacon, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
125g red split lentils washed
250g Savoy, January King or Hispi cabbage, shredded
1litre veg or chicken stock
200ml water
Salt and white pepper
3 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan or casserole dish. Fry the bacon until brown and the fat has rendered down.
  2. Add the onions and another 1-2 tbsps of oil and sweat the onions on a medium heat until soft and translucent. (About 6-7 mins).
  3. Add the garlic, lentils, stock and water. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add the cabbage, season with white pepper, not too much salt (bacon will add a salt element). Simmer for 5 more minutes, until the cabbage is tender and serve!

Cabbage, lentil and bacon soup

Broccoli and stilton soup

Leek and potato soup (Vegan)

Pea and ham soup

Minestrone soup (Vegan)

Chicky, leeky, mushy pie!

Chicken, leek and mushroom pie:

There are few things that hit the spot in Winter when your fingers are numb and your nose is red after a bracing Sunday walk, than a roast dinner.

I know they are not the most fuss free of meals (if you do them at home!) but as long as I have all the gear in the fridge by Sunday and help with the prep, the execution on Sunday is worth it. Least not because we all sit together and eat, which seldom happens in the week. Not only this, but the roast chicken is so generous it opens the door to stocks, soups and our all-time favourites: Chicken pie!

After a day or 2, I am ready for the chicken reincarnation. When I get 10 minutes in the kitchen, I strip the meat from the carcass and pop it back in the fridge for when I am ready. This just means when you are ready to prep your pie, it's 1 less job and it feels more fuss free.

At this point, I may consider making some stock. I put the chicken carcass in a large pan, with a carrot, celery stick, onion, halved (skin on), leek tops, parsley stalks, bay leaf and dozen peppercorns and cover with cold water. Bring it to the boil, skim off any scum on the top and then simmer for an hour. Strain and bosh: stock!

It really is that simple and fuss free, especially if you are hanging out in the kitchen anyway! If you are not in the right space to make stock, pop the carcass in the freezer until you are. Maybe even save up 2 or 3 and make a bigger, stronger batch, all in one go.

Next thing to consider is the pastry: Now the purist in me has made the pastry from scratch and that is a lovely thing, and in the blender is not too much bother. But recently in homage to spreading the fuss free word, I am actually enjoying it more with some ready made puff pastry or even filo pastry.

Bought puff pastry or filo is lighter and quicker; and I think if it means you are going to make something like this on a weeknight, it is OK to buy the best you can get your hands on! All butter pasty is best.

If I have any other leftovers from the roast on Sunday I will add them in too....any sausages and bacon, stuffing, are all little treasures to be found under the puff pastry pillow!! Even leftover gravy, I will add to the mix.

What's your favourite pie filling and pastry? Let us all know in the comments on FB!

Lisa.

Chicken, leek and mushroom pie
Serves 2 greedy adults or family of 4

Approx 1litre pie dish, 22cm diameter or similar

Preheat the oven 180 degrees c

3 leeks, washed, whites sliced, green tops saved for stock (or compost!)
250g box of mushrooms (I use whole brown button)
150g bacon, thinly sliced
250g leftover roast chicken, chunks
500ml chicken stock, fresh or stock cube
320g roll of puff pastry
3 heaped tbsp of plain flour
Few sprigs of thyme
Large knob of butter
Trickle of oil
1 egg to glaze
Any leftovers: gravy, stuffing, sausages and bacon

  1. Add the oil to a large, hot pan and fry the bacon until brown (not burnt!) and the fat has rendered down.
  2. Remove out of the pan, leaving a little fat and add a knob of butter. When melted, add the leeks and sweat on a low heat for 5 minutes until they are soft and lost their shape.
  3. Add the mushrooms and turn up the heat to get all the water out of the mushrooms and stir occasionally so that the leeks can't stick. When the water has evaporated after 5 minutes, brown slightly, then add the bacon back to the pan.
  4. Add the flour, stir, and cook out for a few minutes. Add the stock and stir to make a lovely gravy. Add the thyme, chicken and any other leftovers bits and simmer for 10-15 minutes until thick and heated through.
  5. Place a sieve over a medium pan and place the chicken mixture into the sieve, so as to extract the gravy into the pan. Lightly press your chicken mixture to get most of the gravy out, so that it isn't too wet and make the pastry soggy.
  6. Move the chicken mixture to your pie dish. Leave to cool slightly or completely if you are preparing ahead of time.
  7. Take the pastry out of the fridge and lay it out. Cut a few strips of 1cm thick pieces of pastry off the edges of the pastry sheet. Wet the edge of the pie dish with water and stick the strands to the dish as a base to set the lid on. Press gently to fix.
  8. Brush these bits of pastry on the dish with water and place the whole piece of pastry on top. Press down gently. Use a knife to cut off the excess pastry and if you want, save the extra bits to make jam tarts!!
  9. Crimp the edge of the pie with the end of the knife. Brush with beaten egg, and poke 2 holes in the top to let the stream out.
  10. Place in a preheated oven (180 degrees) for about 25 minutes, being careful that the top doesn't brown too quickly. It will sit quite happily for 10 minutes on the work surface when cooked.
  11. Reheat the gravy, dish up the pie with seasonal greens. Enjoy!

If you want to use filo pastry, scrunch 4 pieces of filo on top of the pie. Drizzle with oil and herbs and bake for 25-30 mins.....

Forget the fuss.
No bacon? Use pancetta
No thyme? Sprinkle in dried oregano
No leftover roast chicken?! Use boneless chicken thighs, diced or roast 2 whole chicken thighs, and pick off the meat when roasted and it is falling off the bone
Prepare the pie up to the point of needing to put on the pastry lid, to make it easy when you get in

Breakfast of champions: Pancakes

Breakfast of Champions: Pancakes

We all express our love in different ways, and it will be no surprise the way I do it is through food! Getting no mother of the year awards during the week (getting 2 boys ready for school each day) I often feel in the quiet backwaters of the weekend, Sunday morning is a great time to express my love in a relaxed, non-shouty, hanging out in our dressing gowns type of way!

This Hugh F-W pancake recipe is my go-to recipe. I have tried others but always come back to this one as its reliable, tastes good and definitely fuss-free as it's prepped in 5 mins. It uses wholemeal self-raising flour, so they feel almost healthy (!), so pop to your local health food shop (I get my flour in Bristol from Wild Oats or The Better Food Company) or to keep it fuss-free and use normal self-raising flour. I serve these pancakes with thick Greek yoghurt and any fruit I have, blueberries, raspberries or chopped apple...whatever I have and the kids fancy.

Pancakes with cream cheese and blueberries

Last weekend, I wanted to use up a pot of cream cheese in the fridge, so I popped the 250g of cream cheese in a bowl, added 4 tablespoons of maple syrup and mixed until light and smooth. This made a mellow but slightly sweet topping for the pancakes was a nice change to yoghurt and was pleasantly surprised as both boys enjoyed it, even though they wouldn't normally eat cream cheese. Equally, if you wanted to serve the pancakes with some bacon, I can confirm this works too!

So, on these wet and wild days, why not haul up and give it a try....get the ingredients in and have a go! It will make a wonderful breakfast on the weekend!

Let me know how you get on at The Fuss Free Foodie FB group. Lisa x

Wholemeal drop scones
Makes 20-30

250g self-raising wholemeal flour (available at Health Food shops or use normal self-raising flour)
Pinch of baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
25g caster sugar
2 medium eggs
275ml milk
50g butter, melted
Oil

  1. Place all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.
  2. Add all the wet ingredients into the well, retaining 10-15mls of milk as you aim to get a slightly thicker than double cream consistency.
  3. Mix by hand with a whisk, and if too thick add the milk bit by bit until desired consistency.
  4. On a medium heat in a frying pan, drop a teaspoon of oil, and then remove it by rubbing the bottom of the pan with kitchen roll (use this oily kitchen roll each time you cook a batch). I use 2 frying pans at once to keep up with demand!
  5. Spoon a tablespoon of mixture into the pan (about digestive biscuit sized) and wait for bubbles to show on the top of the pancake and flip over and cook for another minute on the other side.
  6. The first batch can stick, so stay with it, re-oil the pan and keep going! Adjust the heat if browning too quickly.
  7. Place on a warm plate, covered with a tea towel, or hand them straight to the hungry hoards!

A hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss…..

Leek and Potato Soup

When the days can be lacking in light, warmth and sunshine, I seek comfort and positivity elsewhere....and quite often by lunchtime the thought of tucking into a lovely bowl of hearty, comforting, and of course, fuss free soup is a positive pique on my emotional stance for the day!

I feel at this time of year I've got to take my wins where I can get them and park up with a hug in a bowl with a sourdough kiss is where it's at for me. Plus its a healthy and portable lunch for my husband to take into work the next day, so cue self-bestowed brownie points, wife of the year awards and domestic goddess status!

The great thing about this soup is that the ingredients can be picked up absolutely anywhere from farm shop to the corner shop. Obviously, the fresher the ingredients the better the soup will taste, and where a recipe is so simple and stripped back, it's best to get the freshest you can.

I try and get them from a veg shop, pick the freshest I can see and get some tasty potatoes like King Edwards or Marfona to add flavour; But honestly, I made this the other day with some leeks kicking around from Xmas (what better way to have a veg drawer clear out than to make a soup!) and it was amazing!

I was quite prepared as well to whack some cream into this to give it that luscious, silky feel that works so well with soup, but I found that blitzing half the soup in the food processor and leaving the rest chunky resulted in a delightfully creamy taste without the cream! I was generous with the butter at the start of the recipe as this adds a rich flavour when you wilt the leeks and to keep it fuss-free I used Kallo stock cubes and was more than happy with the result!

Let me know how you get on in the Fuss Free Foodie FB group. Lisa x

Leek and potato soup

Generous tbsp butter or oil
1 onion, diced, 1cm square
4 potatoes (approx 650g) peeled and diced, 1cm square
4 leeks, cleaned and slice into in rings, white and light green parts only
1.2L vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper
Optional thyme, chives for garnish

    1. Add the butter or oil to a large pan, medium heat, melt and add the onions.
    2. Soften the onions for 5 minutes, then add the leeks, and cook for 5-10 minutes until softened and wilted.
    3. Add the potatoes, stir through so coated in butter. Season with salt and pepper and add the stock and bay leaves.
    4. Once the potatoes are soft, take off the heat, remove the bay leaves and blitz half the soup smooth in a blender, then add back to the pan. Check the seasoning.
    5. Alternatively, use a stick blender to puree half the soup in the pan.
      Serve with delicious bread!

Fuss Free tip.

For me, there is nothing less satisfying than runny soup, so I always air on the side of caution and add 1L of stock to start with and keep the last bit to one side. Generally, the liquid should comfortably cover the veg. You can add it in later to alter the consistency but you sure can't take it out!! x

Pea and Ham HO HO HOCK soup….

Pea and Ham Soup

New Years Eve Eve: sugar hangover for me, husband sleeping off daytime drinking in bed and kids arguing over the bug in the kitchen. The house smells of boiling ham hock and in my mind's eye I am fast forwarding a week to when the house will be quiet and it's just me again and certainly not in my dressing gown at 10 am......I'm going to enjoy the last of the craziness and then look forward to regaining my house again!

A week ago my fridge was filled with 10kgs of Christmas meat, and the ham hock that had been patiently waiting in the fridge was turfed out.....no room at the inn and sent to sleep in the freezer with the lowly loaves!!

Now the Christmas meat leftovers have now been turned over to the freezer having had three roast dinners in as many days; (awaiting further inspiration) But in the meantime, out comes the ham hock, released from its humble Christmas lodgings.....as the call for a tasty, hearty, fuss-free soup is needed!

This is an absolute beauty. If you can get the hock in the fridge and waiting, it can be cooked whilst you are doing other things, and then the pea soup is easily made in 20 mins, as it uses fresh rather than split peas. Doing this in stages makes it more fuss-free I think.

There is normally enough hock leftover to freeze for more pea and ham soup or to pimp up a lovely fuss-free veg soup. Cooking the hock in a big enough pan is also a must, as this will make plenty of stock to use for the soup and to freeze. It really makes the fresh pea soup.

This would be great as a starter, could be served in small Chinese rice bowls, canape style or as a hearty lunch after a New Years day walk. At £3.50 a hock.....it's a fuss-free price too, and a little goes a long way. Equally, if you still have some Xmas ham left, skip the hock bit and just make the pea soup and warm through the ham when ready to serve!! The true Fuss Free way!!

Pea and Ham Soup
Serves 4

To cook the hock. (Can be done a day or 2 in advance)

1 ham hock
2 onions
1-2 sticks celery
1 leek
2 bay leafs
1 tsp peppercorns
2-3 litres of cold water

1. Put all the ingredients in your largest pan or stockpot. Making sure the ham is mostly covered by water. Top this up as it cooks if needs be.

2. Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer. Skim off any scum on the top of the pan as it arises and discard.

4. Cook the hock for up to 3 hours (depending on the size of hock) until the ham is easily pulled off the bone and or pulls apart when pinched. I prefer to leave mine longer (sometimes 3 1/2)

5. Strain and keep the stock. Take off the fatty layer of the hock, and then pull the meat off the bone and reserve. Discard the bone and the vegetables.

To make the pea soup.

Knob of butter
1 onion, diced
1 medium potato, approx 200g diced or grated (for speed!)
500g frozen peas or petit pois
1L of ham hock stock

BBC Good Food Pea and Ham Soup

1. Melt the butter in the pan, and add the onion. Cook on a medium heat until soft and translucent.

2. Add the potato, coat in the butter and then add your stock and simmer for 5 minutes until the potato soft.

3. Add the peas, bring back to the boil and simmer for 2 minutes, then blend until smooth.

4. I add the meat to the top of the soup....about 50g per serving. It's your personal preference, my husband likes less and chopped/shredded fine. I am less fussy 😉

Wishing you all a very happy new year and the very best in 2017! Why not come join the Fuss Free Foodie FB group and let us know where you are and what fuss-free recipes you would like to see next year! Lisa. x

Chicken Pate with Marsala

Chicken Liver Pate

In a photo album 20 years old full of recipe clippings from Pru Leith, Sainsbury's magazines and my time at Bordeaux Quay cookery school sits this classic recipe from 2007.

I kid you not it is scribbled on the back of a sheet of NHS instructions for how to give a 'sample'.....(now that made me smile last night when I unfolded the sheet!) It was copied down from a Christmas cookery programme as it seemed very simple and wanted to give it a try.

Before Kids (yes the tests came back fine!!) this was always on our Christmas menu, but as you know these little things get lost along the way when there are other things to do. But in the last couple of years it has reappeared and always gets the thumbs up whether it appears on Xmas day, impromptu friends visit or as a New Years Eve starter.

I serve it simply with melba style toast...basically a piece of brown bread half toasted, then taken out sliced in half and re-toasted, being careful not to burn it! Its a job for one person with a glass of something fizzy and to not move from the toaster. It's great with an onion marmalade too, I find shop bought from a deli, or this year we have a specially selected one from Aldi.

If you don't have any Marsala, forget the fuss and use Port or Madeira as an alternative! This recipe is easily doubled to make party sizes. Merry Christmas!

Not going to blog until next Friday now, but feel free to join me in posting up any Christmas delights you are proud of and say hi! The Fuss Free Foodie FB group

Chicken Liver Pate with Marsala
Serves 4-8

50g butter, melted (30g extra, melted)
150g Chicken livers, left whole, trimmed of any sinew
4 cloves of garlic, crushed or chopped finely
75ml Marsala (or alternative)
1 onion, coarsely grated
15g thyme leaves pulled off the tough stalk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg or pepper

1. Put the chicken livers, garlic, marsala, onion, thyme, salt, pepper or nutmeg in a frying pan.

2. Simmer on a gentle heat for 4-5 minutes, until the livers are slightly pink in the middle.

2. Take the pan off the heat straight away and cool over iced water to stop the cooking process.

3. Put in a food processor with the melted butter. Pulse until smooth. Spoon into molds. Set in the fridge.

4. Melt the extra butter. Scoop off the white milk and leave the clarified butter behind. Tilt your pot and gently pour on the butter and leave to set. Put a piece of thyme in the butter to set for decoration!

Fuss free and TASTY!!

Br-ilton soup!

Broccoli and Stilton soup

Tuesday morning, T-5 and the Christmas countdown checklist has been verified, computed and coordinated with DH. Kids clubs are carefully sprinkled through the week to allow me to keep on track with the shopping, wrapping and cooking, and to be honest try and keep the stress levels down and the potential for pre-Christmas beer up!

With school holidays here, I am thinking about food even more than normal, mainly because I have two purple minions asking to devour something at any given opportunity....snack, snack, snack. It's a challenge even for me in the holidays with no break from school dinners, to find something for them to eat (I have one fusspot and one fuss free eater!); But feeding kids is another blog for another person....not fuss free at all, so not for me!

Christmas excess is a well-documented issue, and for me, I try (as always) at Xmas to reduce the amount of food being wasted and try and make great meals from leftovers. I don't know whether its the frustrated ready, steady, cook competitor inside of me, but I do love the challenge of making something from nothing. The reason I love soups so much is because they use up those slightly older bits and pieces and are reinvented into something beautiful.

Like any great super couple, I have given Broccoli and Stilton soup a new hybrid name...Br-ilton! With a new fuss free name, this soup which is certainly fuss free to make and delightful to eat. It uses any leftover Stilton from your cheese board (Fuss Free Foodie Christmas cheese board), and if you have it, leftover cooked broccoli from Xmas day or just use a fresh head of broccoli which you can buy everywhere. When I made this soup, my Stilton was SO old I should've thrown it away weeks ago...but trimmed off the edges and all was good! Hopefully, you will give this crowd-pleaser a try.

Come join the fuss free discussion and let me know what you think and what you would like to see!

Fuss Free Foodie on FB or Like the Fuss Free Foodie page on FB

Br-ilton Soup (Broccoli and Stilton Soup)

Serves 4

1 medium onion, diced
1 tbsp butter
splash of olive oil
1 head of broccoli (hand sized!) separated into small florets ,
stem more finely chopped
1 leek, sliced or 5-7 spring onions, chopped
1 medium potato (250-300g), peeled and small dice
1L veg stock (I use Kallo organic)
120-150g Stilton, crumbled
Salt and Pepper
Optional, swirl of cream or olive oil

1. Put the butter and splash of oil in a pan (the oil will stop the butter burning) and sweat the onions for 3 minutes, let them have a head start then add the leeks or spring onions for 5 minutes until they are all translucent and soft.

2. (If using cooked broccoli skip this, and go to 3.) Add the chopped raw broccoli stalks and cook them for a few minutes. Season with a couple of twists of salt and pepper.

3. Add the broccoli florets, potatoes and stock. Simmer for 5-7 minutes until the broccoli is tender and the potatoes are soft. If they are not cooked, test every minute or two until soft. Keep the vibrant colour by not overcooking.

4. If using cooked broccoli, add to the pot once the potatoes are soft, warm it through for a minute or 2.

4. Use a stick blender to blitz the soup, then add the Stilton, stir and serve. Alternatively, put in a food blender and pour back into the pan, and add the Stilton and stir.

5. Serve into a bowl, with a swirl of cream or olive oil. Enjoy with a lovely sourdough, or artisan bread or whatever you can get your hands on over Xmas!

Tis the season….

Christmas pudding making....

In sub-zero temperatures at the end of November; armed with an apron, bowl and wooden spoon, I bravely left my toasty warm house to embark on my first steps towards Christmas 2016. For me it's as symbolic as the lighting of the first candle of Advent, marking the start of the new festive season. Arriving inside the beautiful City Church in Redland, you are hit by warmth (physically and metaphorically speaking!), Christmas carols, fairy lights and the heady smell of spices, dried fruit, mince pies and mulled wine all mixed together! This amazingly well run event, of which this is my third year of attending, makes for a wonderful evening, but with the best gift at the end...a handmade Christmas pudding, made with love!

It really is child's play. 8 tables full of catering sized quantities of ingredients with cups and spoons with marks on, so you don't even have to weigh anything. Just scoop, pour, mix and keep on adding and mixing as you go around like a classroom carousel! Simple!

Well, yes it is....but not without its rookie errors! On my first year, I think the mulled wine hit me as I arrived at the 'alcohol' table. The smell of brandy and stout got me a little excited and whilst chatting poured in my cup of mulled wine instead of the brandy, that I had duly measured out! At least I didn't neck the brandy I suppose! The extra alcohol certainly didn't impair the taste or flavour that year, in fact, the more senior end of the Christmas table (all who were in-laws of my in-laws!) hailed it as the best Christmas pudding they had had since childhood. After such high praise, and as we had Christmas in Bristol on our own last year, I felt duty bound to send them last years offering as it had evoked such strong memories.

This year, I am in the driving seat and hosting Christmas here for the first time. Eeeeek! I felt this evening was symbolic at the start of advent to spend time with friends, chatting and making our puddings that were to be enjoyed around the table in 24 days time with my husbands family. I look forward to hearing their thoughts....my 7-year-old son is a big Christmas pud fan, I wonder what he will think of this year's efforts!

SO ....do you fancy having a go?! Look...I know we can buy Christmas puddings quite easily and they will taste good and Christmas is a busy time. But why not gather a few friends, multiply the recipe quantities by the number of friends that are coming/how many puds you want to make. One person could buy all the ingredients or divide them out and everyone brings a few ingredients and make an evening of it! If you all weighed out the big ingredients ahead of time, it will be quicker.....but maybe some mulled wine and a leisurely evening is what you need! You can get 3 x 1.2 litre steamed pudding bowl from Lakeland for just £5.99! And the difference will be amazing...homemade is always the tastiest...and this is my most fuss-free way! If that's not for you, whizz to the bottom to find out how you could win an extra one that I made!!!

Ingredients you will need to make a 1 litre/2 pint Christmas Pudding.

110g Vegetarian Suet
110g Wholemeal breadcrumbs
50g Wholemeal self-raising flour
1/2 tsp Mixed spice
1/4 tsp Ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp Ground cinnamon
160g Muscovado sugar
225g Sultanas
225g Raisins
75g Glace cherries, chopped in half
(or leave them out if you don't like them!)
160ml Stout
30ml Brandy or Rum
2 Eggs
1/2 Orange-grated rind
1/2 Lemon-grated rind
1/2 Apple-remove core and grate

1. Place the measured suet, breadcrumbs and flour into a large mixing bowl.
2. Add the spice, nutmeg, cinnamon and sugar in the bowl, and mix together thoroughly.
3. Add the dried fruit and stir.
4. Measure the brandy and stout and add into the bowl and mix in.
5. Add the 2 eggs. Stir and combine.
6. Add the grated half apple, and zest of lemon and orange.
7. Now mix, stir, stir and mix. It should be a 'dropping' consistency.
8. Thoroughly grease your pudding bowl with butter (or it won't come out on Xmas day!)
9. Pour your mixture into the bowl, leaving about a 1-inch gap from the top. Cover with a disc of greaseproof paper (just cut it 1cm bigger than the diameter of the bowl) and on top of the pudding.
10. Get a piece of tin foil with 2 inches bigger than the diameter of the bowl. Fold a pleat across the middle of the foil. Place over the top of the pudding and secure with string tightly. Do not use the lid of the pudding bowl until the pudding is cooked and cooled and ready for storing.

So once you have made your pud, you need to steam it within 48 hours. You can do this either in a slow cooker or just in a saucepan. Whichever method you use, make sure you remove the plastic lid, you will need this to store the pud once its cooked. Leave the foil in place for steaming and ensure its a tight fit!

In the slow cooker, place the pudding on an upturned saucer in the bottom of the slow cooker. Pour boiling water 2/3 of the way up the side of the basin. Switch your slow cooker to high and leave on for 13 hours. For peace of mind, check the water level on the odd occasion throughout the process. Best to be safe than sorry!

Similarly, in a saucepan, put the pudding on an upturned saucer in a deep saucepan, and fill the pan almost to the top of the pudding basin. Bring the water to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. Leave to simmer for 8 hours. Make sure the water is just simmering.....this can take a little bit of tinkering with to get the bubbling right! Check the pudding every hour to make sure the water doesn't boil away and top it up with boiling water from the kettle if it does.

If that's all a bit too much, click on this link to be entered into my Christmas pud giveaway, as a thank you for reading my blog!

I'm happy to post the pud out before Christmas, so be sure to share my posts with your friends too around the UK too! Good Luck....and Merry Christmas! X