Isla’s Birthday Cake


I have not got around to posting anything for a while but I thought I should share a photo of the cake my husband Alex decorated for our daughter’s birthday last month. She planned to have friends old and new come to her flat for tea and cakes.

When I mentioned making a cake, Isla said that her real favourite was gingerbread so I made an iced gingerbread cake for her.

Then Alex got in on the act. Isla is a great Studio Ghibli fan and has some Totoro cushions. So Alex painted the cake with an image based on the film “My Neighbour Totoro”.

The cake was a surprise and went down well with all her friends. So much so that it very quickly disappeared!


Christmas meal with friends

Here are some photographs of a meal I recently hosted for a few of my friends. I normally do a post connected with my Christmas meal or cakes but this year I will be away for the holiday season, so this is serving as a substitute.


My Xmas bread with tomato

I regularly have a few friends round on a Friday evening for some wine a chat and perhaps a few nibbles. For Christmas I decided to do something a little fancier with a variety of tasty dishes.


Adding some finishing touches


Just a few dishes to go!


Barbecue chicken with Chinese spice marinade


Sliced steak with asparagus and roast pepper


Deep-fried chicken balls with apricot, shallot and sesame seeds, served with mushroom and pepper


Pan-fried lamb with plum stuffing


The meal also featured smoked salmon with herb cheese bites and Shanghai dumplings


Ready to start eating!

In addition to the food, wine and chatter, we also spent our time doing some felting.

Sorry about the image quality – just quick pics on a phone!

Christmas Boned Turkey

Merry Christmas everyone!
Normally at this time of year I post some pictures of our Christmas cake decorations but this year our main culinary effort has been to make a boned and stuffed turkey for the main course of Christmas dinner. This involved removing the bones from the body of the turkey and stuffing the cavity with a duck, pork and apricot filling (apologies to all vegetarians!)


Turkey 3

Turkey stuffed with duck, pork sausage meat and apricot stuffing

When I have boned a turkey in the past I have always removed all the bones. This time my son Gregor suggested that we should leave the leg and wing bones in place so that the end result still looked like a regular turkey.

Turkey 5

The stuffing ingredients were – onions, chopped apricots and celery, duck breast and pork sausage meat with minced pork shoulder added.

Gregor did all the hard work of boning, and we then stuffed the bird with the blended filling (testing out a teaspoon in the microwave beforehand to check the flavour), and then stitched everything in place.

Turkey 1

Greg busy filling the bird

Turkey 2

The finished turkey, ready for roasting

Turkey 4

The finished bird being sliced for serving

Our verdict – very nice indeed, though perhaps the duck meat was rather overcooked by the time the turkey was done.

One other dish we like at this time of year is paté – perfect for lunches and snacking, and pretty simple to make. Here are links to two paté recipes that we’ve been enjoying this year:

This one  is a chicken and pork recipe from the BBC – Chicken and pork paté with pistachios

This one is a paté de campangne recipe from Raymond Blanc – paté de campagne

Turkey 6

Chicken and pork paté on the left, paté de campagne on the right



A Discworld Cake

Creating a cake based on the late Terry Pratchett’s Discworld has been the latest creative effort from Alex and myself. Greg and Isla, our two children, decided to have a joint birthday party this year, with fancy dress themed on Discworld characters. We took on the challenge of providing a cake to match the theme.

Discworld cake 13

A turtle with four giant elephants on its back supporting the Discworld

Discworld cake 1

Sculpting the cake was the first step

Discworld cake 2

Next a head was added

Discworld cake 3

More cake was cut to make the forelimbs and to represent the elephant bodies

Discworld cake 4

Fondant icing was rolled out and used to cover the pieces

Discworld cake 5

A first check on how the parts will fit together

Discworld cake 7

Eyes were added and the shell pattern was marked out

Discworld cake 8

The turtle was painted using cake decorating colours

Discworld cake 6

Prototype elephant heads

Discworld cake 9

The completed cake

Discworld cake 11

The Discworld

Discworld cake 12

The cake packed up for transport to Southampton for the party

Discworld cake 10

The demolition of the cake begins