Hot Toddy for a cold

There’s a reason for me being so quiet over the past few days… I have had a cold that has made me feel dreadful.

A rattling cough, a pounding head and aches all over made me feel so bad that I actually came home from work.

I knew what I had to do, of course.

The best cure for a cold is to go to bed, clutching a hot toddy and try and sleep.

So, first of all, a spoonful of lovely honey in a mug

The juice of half a lemon and a slice of lemon go in next, topped up with hot (but not boiling) water

Then stir it round to make a hot, sweetly-sharp mix

Then, to help those poor, tired muscles relax and the pounding head to ease…. find a bottle of whiskey.

This is Redbreast, a gorgeous Irish pot still whiskey (there’s a difference, you know – Scotch whisky is classed by some as the only true whisky and it is spelled without the ‘e’. Irish whiskey has the extra ‘e’ and gets an extra distillation. Three as opposed to Scotch’s two) It doesn’t matter what you use – that was just at the front of the drinks cupboard.

Just a drop or so adds a deep, soothing, rounded flavour to the hot honey and lemon… and with a couple of cold cure capsules is the ideal medicine for a rotten cold.

The next step is the most important – get off to bed and curl up while you sip your hot toddy. Cocooned in a duvet and propped up on pillows, the delicious hot toddy soothes and relaxes….

Sleep really is the best medicine, you know.

After a couple of hours of sleep I felt so much better.

Just remember that, next time you have a dreadful cold!


It’s Friday.

The end of another working week and I have been promising myself a treat for when I get in… when I get in and change from work clothes into my jeans and a jumper.

….. for when I go upstairs and  lounge on the sofa with my feet up.

I can picture it now. I can imagine the comfort of putting my tired feet up…. and I can see, in my mind’s eye

I have a bottle of my favourite gin, Tanqueray and some Fever Tree Tonic and a lemon that is just asking to be sliced….

I’d like to think I lived an elegant lifestyle with cocktails at 6… but the truth of the matter is, I will be sitting, not in an elegant cocktail dress, with a cigarette in a long, slender  holder, looking impossibly elegant and oh-so-well groomed, making light and amusing conversation, no, I will instead be wearing old and faded jeans, warm socks and a rather happily smug expression….

The glass will, however,  still have 1 measure of Tanqueray to 3 measures of tonic, over lots of ice and a slice of lemon.

The glass will still bead with condensation and the ice will still clink in that lovely way…


I deserve it…. and so, maybe do you.

Welcome to the weekend.

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


Tandoori Pheasant

 As you may know (if you read my post about Game) I do tend to get my hands on a variety of game birds. The latest to turn up was pheasant.

One of the luxuries of having a ready supply of game is that you can experiment more readily than you would if you can only get  the occasional bird.

About a year ago, I scrawled some notes about a recipe for Partridge Tandoori. I know it was Valentine Warner but when I searched for it online, I couldn’t find it, so I can’t link to it. You’ll have to take my word on it. He had worked out the calorie count as coming in around 329 calories per serving. Well, pheasant would do instead of partridge and it would still be able to feature in the 400 and Under section.

You don’t need a tandoor oven to cook it on – you could use a barbecue, but I think in this weather, it is appropriate to stay indoors and use a griddle pan.

The trick with any tandoori dish is the marinade. The meat (whatever sort you are using) goes into that and stays overnight to absorb the flavour.  If you want this you need to start a day ahead . The only reason it is red is because of red food dye so we can miss that out, I think. So… start with making the marinade

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 033

You’ll need 2 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of turmeric

1 and a half teaspoons of ground coriander

1 tbsp of garam masala

Nutmeg – a good grating

1 tsp salt flakes

6 garlic cloves, peeled

Half a small onion

1 red chilli, de seeded

Half a juiced lemon

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 035

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 036

Blitz them all into a fine paste

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 037

Then  add 250 ml yoghurt  – I was using the Total Greek Yoghurt 0%

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 038

and give it a quick blitz but don’t over process it – see it has some texture?

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 041


Put it all into a large bowl. It needs to be large because you are going to put your pheasant in there.

And now for the fun bit. I have some poultry shears, which are big, strong scissors that can snip their way through any bird… if you are going to be doing this sort of thing a lot then it would be a good idea to get some. If not then have at the carcass with a sharp knife – but watch your fingers

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 057

You need to cut the bird, first down the breast bone

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 044

so you have two bits

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 046

and then separate the legs and thighs

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 050


Then, take the skin off… the skin of game birds is not like the sweetly savoury crispy skin you can get on a roasted chicken, so just stick your fingers in there and rip it off. It’s quite easy, really… and besides the skin is already torn from where it was shot.

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 047

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 052


Now then.. you have a plate of naked pheasant, cut neatly (or not)  into pieces.

 Because you are going to marinade the pieces overnight, you want that spicy, yoghurty mix to get into the flesh. Score the breasts and thighs with a sharp knife so that the marinade can get into the flesh.

Really give it a good covering, squishing it about….

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 055

and then cover the bowl with cling film and leave overnight.

The next day, wipe your griddle with a piece of kitchen roll and vegetable oil then get it hot. Lift out each piece of pheasant at a time, shaking off the excess marinade and lie it down in the pan.

Tandoori Pheasant 001

Don’t move the pieces around too much because you want them to get a lovely. slightly charred crust…

Tandoori Pheasant 005

It will take maybe 8 or so minutes on each side…..

Tandoori Pheasant 006

Just check that you are happy with the amount of cooking… I quite like it just cooked and tender but you may be different.

All you need to serve it with are some lemon quarters and maybe some naan braed on the side

Tandoori Pheasant 013

That was delicious … and perhaps one of the tastiest ways of eating pheasant.

All that and under 400 calories…. oooh, I feel thinner already!

Lemon glazed cake

There’s something very nice about a plain cake to have with a cup of coffee or tea. A plain and simple cake with a single flavour… no huge amounts of whipped cream and jam… just something to have with a hot drink. Something to change a snatched drink and a quick pause from work into a relaxing break.

Easy enough to make, as well…. I had an old recipe that I thought I might do – hence the measurements being in ounces… I have converted them because I can’t, for the life of me, work out how to get my digital scales to switch from grams to ounces.

I thought a nice plain cake with perhaps a lemon glaze would be good…

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 002

 Start off by heating the oven to 180 degrees then mix

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 003

310g /11 oz caster sugar

56g/2 oz butter

3 egg yolks (you use the whites later)

Get everything mixed together

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 004

See, it is still grainy here… keep going until it is smooth.. then add  225g/8 oz of yoghurt –

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 005

Zest a lemon and add that to the mix

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 006

Stir it in gently – don’t overbeat things at this stage, then fold in 170g/6 oz self raising flour

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 010

Then whisk the egg whites

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 013

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 014

And carefully fold them into the cake mix… start with a spoonful first to get the mix broken up slightly and then add more

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 015

There you are, done.

All you have to do now is pour that into a cake tin – a springform is best as you can get the cake out easily afterwards, and popping in a paper cakeliner makes it the easiest job in the world.

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 017

Into the oven with it for maybe 35 minutes.

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 020

You can occupy yourself by making the lemon glaze….remember you zested a lemon for the cake mix? Squeeze it now

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 022

and add it to some icing sugar  in a pan and heat it through, making a lovely syrup

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 026

.. which needs to cool.

You can relax now until the cake is ready to come out… stick a skewer in to make sure it is cooked and then get it out to cool

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 028

Once everything has settled… stick holes in the cake and then pour over the syrup to make a lovely glaze

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 030

It is a really rather lovely cake, you know. Light and moist and beautifully tangy.. just the thing for a mid afternoon boost.

My boss, who doesn’t normally like cake, ate two slices and would perhaps have eaten more… but for the fact the whole thing had been polished off already. I suppose that is as good a rating as you will get for a cake.