Breakfast egg and polenta and a new camera

When I made cheesy polenta  I made sure I had made enough for more delicious meals. My greediness makes sure I always make extra of everything. There’s something about leftovers that is so appealing….

I had plans for a small portion of it –  breakfast! I had a lot to do and I wanted a quick, really quick breakfast.

Apart from racing round the apartment to get everything looking lovely for the Bear’s return, I also wanted to play with my new camera, which arrived this week.

My lovely friend, L, suggested it for me and, on the grounds she has known me long enough to recognise just HOW inept I am at technical things and how much I need things to work properly and not torment me with wicked technical tricks, I bow to her superior wisdom and all round good taste.

She has had to put up with so much from me over the years, times  when I’d ring her wailing that the computer hated me and was deliberately ignoring me, me claiming that I was jinxed and that all computers and technical gadgets were only built to make my life a misery. There was one time she listened to me run over a particularly evil mobile phone…. I had been talking to her and was just enraged at what a rotten piece of equipment it was. It would cut out and refuse to do things, oh it was maddening. It wasn’t just me, mind you. These phones were notorious for being useless. Everyone who was unfortunate enough to have one hated them.

Because it was on a contract I had to keep it – unless it was broken beyond repair. I’d tried “dropping it” but it was always fine. It just carried on cutting in and out of conversations, driving me to distraction. That day it was particularly bad. In the end I pulled into a layby, jumped out of the car, put the phone under the wheel and drove back and forth over it. L was still on the other end…..I was certain this would kill the vile phone and then I could get another one…. but what happened? I got back out of the car, picked up the phone and heard L laughing.

Say what you like about that now-departed mobile phone manufacturer – the phones were rubbish, but by golly they were sturdy.

So, L knows I need something that will be kind to me and take pictures easily. She doesn’t want to have to go through the saga of me shrieking in temper as something goes wrong. She knows I need foolproof. It has to take close ups of food and it also has to take horizon shots. L said the Canon IXUS 200 would be the one for me and there are all sorts of options – even (and this is a real plus point) even an option for fireworks!  If you have read this blog in the past you will know that our wedding anniversary is on Bonfire Night and we like to toast each other with champagne as we watch the fireworks going off from the city below us. Try as I might I hadn’t been able to take pictures successfully.

So, I now have a super-duper camera that even I, with my fumble fingers and low tolerance level for fiddling about,  can operate with some degree of success – all I have to do is learn how to use it.

That’s why I am up so early. I need to get everything ready for the Bear, I need to have breakfast …. but first, I just had to try the sunset setting. OK, so it’s dawn but it’ll be all right, won’t it? Same sort of thing?


 Isn’t that pretty?

Now, I really must get on. I like a savoury brekkie, rather than a cold one and I didn’t have time to make breadbuns so I could have a fried egg sandwich. I always feel that a weekend breakfast should include eggs somewhere along the line. I like them boiled, scrambled, poached, baked and best of all, I like them fried. I love the way the yolk dribbles out when you cut into it, all deep gold and glistening.


All I had to do was heat, quickly, in the microwave, a few decent sized spoonfuls of the lovely cheesy polenta…. maybe a minute, if that. While that’s spinning round, I got out the frying pan and fried an egg.

The fastest cooked breakfast imaginable!

All it needed was a grinding of black pepper over it and a cup of strong black coffee to wash it down and I was in breakfast heaven.

Simple? Check.

Tasty? Oh yes.. oh very, very yes. Check.

Fast? Two minutes, so a definite check.

Economical? Oh, very much of a check.

Try it. It was delicious.

Cheesy Polenta

At the end of a long and tiring week, when it gets to Friday night, I really don’t have the energy to go gallivanting around town. I must be getting old, I suppose, or maybe it is that I really like my home… my sofas, the peace and quiet, the comfort…

I want to come home, sit down and pour a glass of wine, safe in the knowledge my alarm is NOT going to go off at 5.50 am.

And of course, any glass of wine that I pour will be much better than some extraordinarily priced glass bought in a bar, so the pleasure of that  is heightened as I sit there, relaxing. Of course, it is better when the Bear is at home because then we can sit together and talk about the week… but it is pretty darn good when it is just me!

I don’t just sit and drink wine though, I need to eat, too. I need something nice and easy… I need something that will restore me after a full week’s work …. the best option?  Something savoury and delicious… it could, occasionally, be a takeaway from our local Chinese, but tonight I fancy something  carb laden and heavy on the cheese.

Cheesy polenta, in fact!

I’ve been thinking of perfecting more gluten-free dishes – my brother is badly affected (though not coeliac) and one of my dearest friends was diagnosed relatively late in life (in her thirties!) as coeliac. As I adore both of them there’s every chance that they will come and stay, so I need to be up to the mark should they arrive. The fact that A, my friend, recently moved to the USA, means she is less likely to turn up on the doorstep  but you never know.

So, tonight is not just about sheer self-indulgence – it is about making sure I can make something for my darling brother and my dear friend. The fact that sheer indulgence and a full tummy are the results… well, that is just a bonus!

First, look through the fridge for any cheese that you have – I have some parmesan that could do with being used, some cheddar that needs some surgery (just cut off the mouldy bits, that’s fine) and a lovely bit of Italian Tallegio (all soft and rich and creamy)

Get  your polenta out, and a large pan.

I always have polenta in the house because apart from using it in a polenta recipe (obviously) it is also brilliant for using to dust the outside of the fabulous No-Knead Bread 

When you make polenta to eat, you will need one measure of polenta and four measures of liquid.

I’m just using a mug here – that’s going to make one big, gorgeous portion of polenta for me tonight… some for breakfast (don’t grimace like that, it doesn’t suit you!)  and enough to make a huge polenta flan. All of that will be revealed in posts to come. If you just want to make enough cheesy polenta for, say, four people, you will only need half a mug. (And, therefore, 2 mugs of liquid.)

Pour it into a large pan (this will need a large pan) and then add 4 cups of liquid… I am using half milk, half water. You can use plain water… but I am going all out for luscious comfort tonight.

Stir it round so it mixes smoothly and start heating it.

Polenta is rather lovely to make… I  stand there, quite calmly, stirring. It is almost a meditative experience.

Do be careful though – it is so thick that when it gets up to the boil it has a nasty habit of spitting violently at you, if you aren’t stirring it.

Grate your odds and ends of cheese. I dare say an Italian person might have ideas about what sort of cheese, but I am being very economical and using up all the bits and bobs in the fridge. There’s that cheddar I told you about and some parmesan…. you are looking for a huge mound of cheesy goodness.

By now, the polenta will have thickened beautifully and be glugging away – when you lift the spoon and drag it, it will leave trails behind it.

Now add handfuls of cheese

Stir it in… all of it

.. and watch it melt into the polenta.. becoming part of the polenta….

And, as I believe I may as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb, I drop in a chunk of butter and watch that melt into swirls…

Remember I said I had some Tallegio? It’s a beautifully soft cheese with a rind

I don’t want to stir that in but I do want it in there… so what I do is cut a slice

and after putting some hot and steaming polenta into a bowl… lay the slice on top and then cover it with more polenta.

Imagine that – a beautiful, creamy, extra cheesy surprise, melting secretly in your bowl….

Now, polenta by itself is a delicious supper, but I happen to have some roast pork with crackling left over… so a slice of that on the top will be perfect. Those that don’t eat meat will still be ecstatic at a bowl of polenta


And that Tallegio? Look how it has melted perfectly.

All you have to do now is return to the sofa, bowl in hand, and tuck in.

Friday nights, eh? Who needs to be rocketing about town, spending lots of money when you can be at home eating polenta?

Dorset Cereals Best Little Blog nomination!

I was nominated for The Best Little Blog Award at the beginning of the month – you have no idea how happy that made me. This little blog has only been going since October and to find that more than my immediate circle of friends are reading this has astounded me.

I think you must have noticed the little Dorset Cereals box at the top of the page, over there…. because I am doing very well in the voting!

There are people from all over the world coming and reading about my attempts to make my Bear into a truly Omnivorous Bear – take a look at the Feedjit box… click on Options at the bottom of the box and then on the Live Traffic Map.

All those flags show the most recent visitors… HELLLOOOOO everyone!

Please say hello and tell me about yourselves – have you cooked anything? Has it inspired you to cook?

Thank you, those of you who have voted.. it means so much to think that people have liked what I have been cooking and writing about. And if you haven’t voted yet… well……

If you want a recipe that has Dorset Cereals in it.. look at Bone Idle Bread, possibly the world’s easiest to make and tastiest, fruity and nutty bread. Just try it. You will be glad you did.

So, whatever happens in the voting contest, I am just pleased that so far, this month, more than 760 people have popped in here to see what is going on.

Thank you for reading so far. I hope you come back … but most of all I hope you cook something!

Broccoli Bliss

Sometimes, the way to brighten a dull day is to imagine a treat. Something to look forward to when you get in from work. Something that probably you can only get away with when your significant other is away.

Well, the Bear is away…and that means I can indulge myself. I can go wild and he won’t look at me with a slightly anxious expression, worried that I will force him into joining me in my chosen delights.

It’s not drink…. or illicit substances… or even some strange practice… it’s…..


Beautiful, bold brassica.. the bright green and slightly bitter broccoli. I love it.

And when I can, I come home to a huge bowlful of it. One of my favourite ways to eat it is with a pseudo-Thai green curry sort of sauce, except it is not a sauce, it is a fragrant and sweetly spiced cooking liquid.

It’s quick to make and incredibly low calorie and oh-so-good for you.

I always have the ingredients for the Thai green curry sort of sauce in my cupboards because you never know when you may be able to get away with making broccoli, just broccoli, for supper. They also come in handy for when I want to make Thai Green Curry soup.

Onion, ginger and garlic. Some coriander.

Some green Thai curry paste

Thai basil, if you can get it

and kaffir lime leaves.

You will also need coconut milk – either a tin of it, or coconut milk powder that you can make up – and some stock granules.

Start by chopping some onion into  decent sized pieces and start to saute them in a large pan.

Chop your broccoli  stem into pieces and separate the florets.

Add the stem to the pan with half a cup, say, or water so it doesn’t burn and and a quarter inch of peeled and finely chopped ginger, and a clove of garlic, also finely chopped.

Add a heaped teaspoon of Thai green curry paste, the same of kaffir lime leaves and Thai basil. Stir it round and smell that gorgeous, aromatic spicy steam billowing up.

Let the stem and the onion soften slightly then add the florets.

Give them all a stir and let them steam for a couple of minutes

Mix three heaped dessertspoonsful of coconut milk powder (or a can of reduced fat coconut milk) and add a teaspoonful of vegetable stock granules, mixing it round well

Pour that delicious mix over the broccoli and let it steam through for another couple of minutes….

And then?

Dish it up, my darlings!

A beautiful bowl of broccoli… think of it as thai green broccoli soup… without much soup.

Packed full of goodness…. and that, well, that is one of my secret delights.

Pappardelle with mushrooms, lemon and sage

“99, column 2”

As statements go, that has to be, when taken out of context, one of the most random and mysterious comments ever.

If you had been following our adventures in Cookery Lotto, you would have known instantly that this was the answer we had been waiting for.  We had (great team effort there, everybody) managed to get a number that led us to finding the cookery book that I was to cook from, but to make sure I couldn’t deliberately pick something that I knew I liked, or that was easy to do, someone had to suggest a page and column number.

I said at the time I was glad it was column 2 – column 1 involved making a ragu from a kid goat’s shoulder. I would have tried, of course, but I was almost certain that Mick, our butcher, didn’t have any on his meat counter.

Luckily Caron picked column 2, which led to me making pasta yesterday with two little girls.

It  just goes to show that if we three could make pasta successfully in less than an hour then anyone could do it.

The girls set off home with their tagliatelle and I was left with, as instructed by the rules of Cookery Lotto, a bowl of pappardelle.

I wanted to make something delicious with this, my beautifully soft and silky, hand-cut pasta ribbons. And I didn’t have any part of a goat at hand.

I did, however have mushrooms, a lemon , some garlic and sage.

Which, as Good Food pointed out, was exactly what I needed for a “light but filling Italian supper, ready in just 20 minutes”

And even better, delicious though this sounded, gave me just 386 calories per serving. That meant it could be included in my 400 and Under category – diet food that tastes divine but with minimal calories. Things were just getting better and better.

On with a large pan of well salted water to get it to a brisk boil, while I chopped 250g of mushrooms.

They needed to saute in 25g of butter and after a couple of minutes, stir in a crushed clove of garlic

Squeeze a lemon and chop a handful of sage

Stir in the sage and add the lemon juice.

Check the papparedelle – as it is fresh pasta it will only need a couple of minutes cooking – drain it but leave a tablespoon or so of water in there.

And then toss it in the delicious lemon and garlic sage-scented buttery mushrooms



Last week, bored with the usual choices and needing inspiration, we played Cookery Lotto, a game guaranteed to introduce an element of randomness into the proceedings. Anything could have been chosen but the rules are that once chosen, it had to be cooked.

We ended up with a pasta dish from the Australian Gourmet Traveller Cookbook of 2008.

But this wasn’t going to be pasta from a packet – this was start from the beginning and make it from scratch pasta.

And I was glad because I knew how easy it was to do and this was my chance to show you.

The Bear and I have a pasta machine  and we love making pasta. It wasn’t expensive at all (under £10 in a famous designer clothes, shoes and houseware clearance shop…it had been £29,99 . Look there in the kitchen section – I’ve seen them lots of times. Failing that you can get them for under £20 on Amazon)

The first time we did it we were carried away with the idea that we could produce perfect pasta. The pasta was fine…. it was the ravioli we attempted to make that were an utter disaster. Perhaps more skill was required for that. Perhaps we should have read a recipe properly. Anyway, the ravioli burst open and the fillings weren’t so great.

Straight forward pasta was fine though. Good, even. We have made tagliatelle and lasagne sheets and today we are making papardelle.  When I say we, it is not me and my partner in life and crime, the Bear. He’s off travelling again and is on the other side of the world so he won’t be here to help.

We, today, are me, my friend M and her daughters. OK so the nearly-two year old won’t be much good, but I have high hopes of  training the ten year old to be a willing kitchen slave.

I have looked at the recipe and it says 4 eggs and 560g of flour…. seems a lot I thought, and then I realised it was to make enough pasta for 8. Time to scale down. My amazing mathematical skills come to the fore as I rapidly divide everything by two… then thought I’d better divide again.

How much pasta do I need? I’m not intending to feed everyone I know. We shall use one egg and 140g of flour. That will be enough for us.

You do your own maths to work out how  much you will need.

And…. off we go.

Weigh 140g of “00” Italian flour and lightly whisk one egg.

Put that in a bowl and add 3 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt  and 15 ml of water.

Then start to mix it. I’m using my KitchenAid mixer because I can. (And every use of it makes the overall cost per use drop. Use that argument when you are plea bargaining for one of your own) If you haven’t got an electric mixer, then you will have to stir it all by hand.

This is no bad thing – after all people were making pasta by hand for centuries before electric mixers were developed.

It will all come together quite easily and form a coherent dough. Now because eggs come in different sizes, you may need to add more flour to the mix if it looks too wet. We had to because we used an extra large egg.

You will need to knead it now – just put it on a floured board and stretch and pull and roll and knead until you feel it becoming smooth and springy. L, who is ten, really took to stretching and pulling the dough.

The girls had a great time helping to knead it. That’s the two of them, sharing the job. The nearly-two year old loved getting her hands on to the dough because she saw her big sister doing it. That’s the best way to get children to enjoy cooking… letting them get their hands in to it. It’s not the best way to keep the kitchen clean and tidy but it is the best way to have fun.

Now you just cover it with a damp tea towel and leave it to rest for a while. Ten minutes or so if you are wanting to get a move on, and hour or thereabouts if you have the time to wait.

Time for a nice cup of tea and teach young kitchen slaves how easy it is to wipe down the benches.

Now for the fun bit – cut the dough into two or three pieces and, having made sure your pasta machine is firmly screwed onto the bench, start feeding the first bit through. Give each piece a light sprinkling of flour so it doesn’t stick.

(If you haven’t got a pasta machine, don’t worry, just get ready to start rolling it out with a rolling pin. Make sure you have divided it out, though, before you start rolling it. Just dust it lightly and get cracking.)

You start off on the widest setting, and fold the first piece over on itself so it gets a really good pressing. Think Grandma’s mangle… you just turn the handle and the pasta goes through.

Got to the next notch sprinkle lightly, very lightly with flour and put the pasta through again. The girls loved this and took turns winding the handle.

Keep going until you have gone through all the settings and are down the last one.

Now my machine has setting for cutting pasta so I can either use them, feeding the thin sheets of pasta through the cutting attachments to make tagliatelle or cut the sheets free hand.

If you are cutting free hand, dust the surface lightly and roll the flattened sheets of pasta up like a giant swiss roll. Then simply cut down through the roll to get your pasta strips. Easy, huh? 

Now, if I were going to be making pasta all the time, and I wanted to make it in advance of cooking it,  then I would buy one of those pasta drying racks, but I’m not, so I haven’t. You can dangle it from clothes racks to let it air off or you can simply dust lightly with flour again or maybe fine polenta and start getting the pan ready to cook it in.

See? Within ten minutes we had a huge mound of tagliatelle for the girls to take home to their brothers to have for their supper

.. and some hand cut, broader strips of pappardelle for me.

We all sat around, gazing with pride at our beautiful  pasta – a few minutes work and a huge amount of fun and laughter.

It was a wonderful afternoon’s work and at the end of it we had made food for everyone. It wasn’t difficult and it cost pennies to make. Some flour, an egg, a pinch of salt and some oil all came together to make delicious home made pasta. And two little girls now think they want to cook again… and again… and again!

My cunning plan will work – give them a few years and I can spend my time lolling on the sofa while my willing kitchen slaves toil for me.

Another success chalked up to the random selection of Cookery Lotto.

Cookery Lotto – we’re making pasta!

Caron was first to pick a number and a column…

Page 99 of Australian Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook, 2008 is in the pasta section and the second column  is papardelle.

We’re making pasta!  And the only ingredients are 4 eggs, 1 tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil and 560gm “00” durum wheat flour.

Pappardelle is broad flat strips of pasta. Broader than fettucine.

All I can say is thank goodness she didn’t choose column 1… because we’d have been searching for  a kid’s shoulder on the bone to make a ragu with.

That’s a goat’s kid’s shoulder, obviously.

So, this weekend is pasta time! Goodness knows what sauce I will make to serve with it – I shall cross that bridge when I get to it.

Cookery Lotto – and the book is….

In my attempt to widen the variety of dishes I cook and also to introduce an element of randomness, I thought of the weirdly wonderful Cookery Lotto. I have lots of cookery books that I might read but really need to start cooking from.

Thing is, I hadn’t really got round to doing anything – I just chose what I fancied. The one time I let the Bear choose something he picked a dish, Pork and Pepper Goulash   which was something I would never have chosen. Turned out to be absolutely fabulous!  Just goes to show that I need to be nudged along a bit.

So, I told you all how many books were on the bookshelf next to me. If you remember, everyone had a chance to pick a number and the plan was that we would get the average from those numbers. That would determine which of the books on the bookshelf would be picked.

I used my incredibly advanced mathematical skills to work out the average

See that? That was 6 am this morning as I added everything up.

And then I divided by the number of people who had put numbers in.

It came to 57.2222.

So I thought 57 would do.

I scurried along to the bookshelf and started counting.

And this is what came out.

The Australian Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook. I bought it last year in Melbourne as we sat around the airport waiting for a hugely delayed flight to Hobart, Tasmania.

The interesting thing is, though, see that first picture where I am dragging it out of the shelf? You can see index tabs.

That’s what I do when I see recipes I would like to cook.

Notice, I said “when I see”

I haven’t actually done them!

So, it looks like a very good book to pick. There are recipes in there that took my fancy…. now all I have to do is cook them!

The next part of Cookery Lotto is picking the recipe.

The recipes start on page 16 and go right through to 236.

There are three columns.

So… first one to pick a number between 16 – 236 picks the recipe page!

Then pick either 1,2 or 3 to get the column and the recipe.

First answer wins!

(Oh and be very grateful – the next book along was this

I have a feeling that any recipe from there might not be as exciting as one from the Gourmet Traveller!)

Time for Cookery Lotto…. again!

Right back in the beginning, when this blog started out, I knew that I would have to stretch myself. 

It’s easy, so very easy, to just stick to cooking what I normally cook when what I wanted was to see if I could do something different most days of the week. I thought that taking pictures and telling  you all what I was doing, would make me too embarrassed to repeat  myself. I have lots of cookery books so there had to be thousands of recipes close at hand… just waiting to be chosen.

I needed to work out how I picked the recipes I was going to make. The difficulty was that I might just go along with whatever I fancied, when what I needed to do was to cook things completely randomly.

Could I be trusted to pick randomly? Probably not. I’d probably choose what I quite liked the look of and reject the tricky or the not immediately likeable recipes.

And then I came up with Cookery Lotto. I had lots of cookery books  and I have lots of friends. Put the two together I thought……

The basic idea was that one of them chose a random number and, in a very scientific fashion, a cookery book was chosen.

The technical explanation of this method? I counted along the bookshelves until I got to the number that was chosen.

Then… and this was the cunning bit… I told them how many pages there were in the book and someone else picked a page number!

I had nothing to do other than cook what they came up with.

On the first go, Looby picked “The Prawn Cocktail Years” and Els picked page number 49… and the result was Creamed Spinach. A resounding success in my eyes, but there again, I do so love spinach.

The poor Bear isn’t such a fan but as I am training him to be truly omnivorous then he does what he is told and he eats what he is given. He sort of liked it.

He’s really hoping that this time he gets something he would really want to eat.

So… Cookery Lotto, Part Two!

New rules though….. what we do this time is that everyone who wants to join in just picks a number… then one day later I see how many answers there are and divide the sum of the numbers by the amount of people picking them… that gives answer number one, which is, the cookery book we are working from.

Once we know that, we will know how many pages are in the book and we do the same thing for the recipe.

I have just gone and counted along the bookshelves…in this apartment  there are 156 books close to hand. That should give us something to go at.

They range from cookery books bought in Bangalore for a few rupees to books bought in specialist book stores costing over £50. There are thick books, thin books, old books and new books… There’s books on there that I adore and there are, I have to say, books I have never ever cooked from.

So…. the game is on.

Pick a number from 1 to 156.  It’s not too much to ask is it? Just pick a number and tell me what it is….

Haggis and Black Pudding on apple mash

Robert Burns, the Scottish poet, is known throughout all of the UK but it is in Scotland and the far north that his life and works have been celebrated on  Burns Night  for well over 200 years. That means haggis.

If you don’t know what is in haggis and you look it up, you might, perhaps, feel just tad nervous about eating it…..if you just eat it first then you may well be pleasantly surprised. There’s a lovely deep meatiness there, balanced with a richness from the oatmeal and suet and spices that, well, you wouldn’t believe came from a mixture of sheep’s innards.

Maybe it is best that I leave the description at innards. Click on the link if you want to know exactly WHAT innards.

I was given haggis from an early age, served with the traditional accompaniments of mashed potato and turnip or swede, so I was never fazed by it. That is probably how it ought to be done.

If you are an adult coming to haggis for the first time, do try it.

At a Burns Supper you will be served haggis with neeps and tatties (that’s the mashed turnip and mashed potatoes)  and a dram of whisky. Now, that resonates with me…. any meal where whisky is served as an integral part of the menu gets my vote.

Thing is, there are other ways to serve haggis and the other ways tend to be more friendly, say, to those who have never eaten it before. The Bear for example, being a Cockney,  probably thought that haggis was foreign food, beloved of savage Northerners and Scots and wasn’t something a boy from London should eat.  Mind you, I think much the same of jellied eels, which is a favourite, apparently, of those from the East End of London.

A good way to introduce haggis to innocents is to serve it with something to perhaps soften the effect…… and I thought that sweetening things up might help. I had some delicious black pudding and adding apples to that is always good… so I came up with haggis with black pudding and apple mash… and  a creamy, sweetly sharp sauce to go over it.

Haggis is easy enough to cook… you can poach it gently for an hour or so, or roast it in the oven, if you wrap it in tin foil to protect it, or, if you are pushed for time, you can cut it open and slice it, then put it in the microwave for 8 or so minutes, maybe breaking it up with a fork to make sure it is evenly cooked.

I like roasting it – there’s always the danger that you might burst the haggis if it boils… and then you will have ruined it beyond any chance of saving. The whole point of a haggis is that all those spices and meat and oats are bound together tightly – it’s already cooked, of course, you are just heating it up properly – and if it bursts open then unwanted water gets in and it turns into a dissolving mush.

I started roasting my haggis and while that was in the oven (175 degrees, wrapped in tin foil and placed in a casserole dish with some water to keep it moist) and got on with the other stuff… that was going to be in the oven for an hour and a quarter, or thereabouts, so that gave me plenty of time.

I had a lovely sharp Braeburn apple which needed peeling, coring and cubing.

I wanted it to keep its shape and sharpness but not to be too raw… so quickly tossing it through  butter and a pinch of sugar would do that. I scooped out the apple from the pan, leaving the appley, buttery juices behind – I was going to use them in the whisky cream sauce later.

I chose red skinned potatoes as they always make a great, fluffy mash, and used a potato ricer  to make sure there were no lumps. I know it seems more effort than using a masher, but the result? Ohhh… the difference is incredible… beautifully light and fluffy potato that you can beat your butter into…

That’s not a great photograph, I know, but you can get the gist of it. I was trying to get a shot with one hand as I squeezed the ricer with the other. The potato is forced out of the little holes and there are no lumps. Not one. Just oodles of beautifully riced potato.

Use a wooden spoon to beat in a big knob of butter, you’re looking for a gorgeous creamy mash.

Add those slightly softened cubes of apple – they make a lovely contrast to the smooth and creamy mash.

The black pudding needs to be gently fried. You’ll need a slice per person.

You’ll see the change from that dark red colour, to a glassy black – just keep the heat gentle so it cooks slowly.

Oh and remember that covering needs to be peeled off….

The haggis should be coming along nicely – that darkens down .

If you have decided to poach it, be careful when you cut into it – it is going to be very hot when that outer skin is cut.

I made a little whisky cream sauce… but forgot to take photographs. 

What I did was make a cream sauce (a couple of teaspoons of butter, a couple of teaspoons of flour, a pinch of salt, mixed and cooked through, then single cream stirred in until all the lumps disappear and it becomes a glossy smooth sauce… ) then thinned slightly with the apple juices and some whisky and heated through until the alcohol has cooked off. This is not an overtly sweet sauce but a savoury , fruity fresh one – you have sweetness with the nuggets of apple in the mash.

I wanted to make this look, if not glamorous, then at least vaguely presentable.  I was thinking of the round slice of black pudding and I wanted to get away from the normal haggis, neeps and tatties look of just everything spooned on the plate.

So I made a stack. Black pudding on the bottom. Then apple mash.

Then I pulled up the ring and spooned haggis in.

A spoonful of the whisky cream over the top and then served it.

I have to say this is probably not the best way of doing it, but it was what I did.

I won’t do it like this again because at the end of it, it didn’t look so great. Far too monochrome.

Tasted fantastic though, so I am not upset.

Still, as my mother always consoled me, looks aren’t everything.