After more cancellations from folks coming over for dinner, we ended up with just six people and enough food to feed about 30!  The evening was so much fun and I think everyone had a wonderful time.  The 2010 Blizzard did not affect anyone’s good spirits.  At least not any of the people who came over for dinner.

Prep mode

Enjoying dinner


I have to say the food was fabulous, except for the Toad on the Hole.  I feel it was a whole timing issue as I wasn’t going to make it due to so many people cancelling, and then a fellow Brit, my friend Andy, pouted and cried “wah wah wah, but I want Yorkshire pudding.”  Toad in the Hole is basically sausages surrounded by Yorkshire Pudding mix and baked in the oven.  So, at the last minute I tried to make it and it didn’t work out quite as well as I would have liked.  It was okay the Shepherd’s Pie and Chicken Pot Pie was more than enough to feed all of us, and me for the next week or four.  For some reason I didn’t take photos of my food so it’s difficult to write about what I made without showing you – duh, what an idiot.

I will talk you through it.  We started with lots of cheese, pate, champagne and wine.  We then moved to the dining table for Avocado Stuffed Prawn Cocktail with a green salad.  The “Marie Rose” sauce is super easy to make and very tasty. (see below for Recipes but no photos, sadly).

We then moved on to the main courses of Shepherd’s Pie, Chicken Pot Pie and Toad in the Hole, which was a disaster, although the sausages were very good.  The sides were cauliflower cheese – so yummy, and honey glazed carrots and my mum’s homemade gravy.  For dessert we had Trifle and King of Puddings –quite delicious.  The Trifle was better I think.  Food coma for all followed.  I will go on a diet in the New Year :).

In between our main and dessert we did the “Yankee Swap” which was hysterical and I have to say lowered the tone of my elegant dinner party to all time low – especially because one of the gifts was a toy speculum… I am not kidding. 

Good friends, lots of food, 13 bottle of wines and hysterical conversation.  All in all a Boxing Day success.

Now I have to clean up :(.

Yankee Swap Gift


Happy Boxing Day!




Prawn Cocktail


6 ripe avocados
1lb small prawns/shrimp – cooked
4 tbsp good mayonnaise
3 tbsp tomato paste
Pinch of coriander
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper


Cut the avocados in half and remove pip
Mix the mayo, tomato paste, coriander, salt and pepper together to make the Marie Rose sauce
Pour sauce over the prawns and mix thoroughly
Scoop portions into each of the Avocados and serve on a bed of lettuce

Shepherd’s Pie


2 tbsp of olive oil
1lb ground (good) lamb
1lb mushrooms
2 cups of garden peas
1 medium onion
2 packs of brown gravy seasoning mix
1.5 cups of water
4 tbsp of fresh chopped parsley
3lbs of potatoes
Half & Half


Preheat oven to 375.  Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium heat.  Add mushrooms and onion and sauté until mushrooms are brown (about 8 minutes).  Using slotted spoon, transfer mushrooms and onion to a separate bowl.  Add lamb to same skillet.  Sauté over medium-high heat until lamb is no longer pink, about 10 minutes.  Return mushroom mixture to skillet.  Mix in gravy seasoning and 1.5 cups of water.  Reduce heat and simmer until mixture thickens, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.  Add peas; simmer until just tender, about 5 minutes.  Mix in 3 tbsp of parsley; season generously with salt and ground pepper.  Pour into glass baking dish.

Cook potatoes in boiling water until soft.  Add enough butter and half and half to make creamy whipped potatoes.  Spoon whipped potatoes over meat mixture and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.  Sprinkle remaining parsley over the top of the potatoes.  I have on occasion sprinkled grated strong cheddar cheese over the potatoes and baked for another 5 minutes.  This can add a little more flavor and texture to your dish. 

Chicken Pot Pie


2 TBS oil
2 TBS plain flour
1.5lbs boneless, skinless chicken
1 medium cooking onion, peeled and diced small
2 large rib of celery, cut into small dice
4 carrots, peeled and cut into small dice
2 chicken stock cubes (I use Bisto Chicken Gravy)
1 1/2 cups hot water
salt and black pepper to taste
1/2 tsp dried sage
2 cups frozen peas
1 TBS chopped fresh parsley.
1.2 of a (17 ounce)
1 beaten egg yolk


Cut chicken into small cubes. Toss with the flour. Add the oil to a large skillet. Heat over medium heat. Add the floured chicken and brown, stirring until it is cooked all the way through, and no pink remains. Add the onion, garlic, celery and carrot. Cook, slowly, stirring from time to time until almost tender. Crumble the stock cubes over all and stir in the hot water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes. Stir in the peas and parsley. Place into a pie dish. Top with the puff pastry. Crimp the edges and vent. Brush with some beaten egg yolk.

Pre-heat the oven to 205*C/425*.  Place pie on baking tray and bake for approximately 30-35 minutes, until the pastry is crisp and browned.  I actually made some pretty flowers to go on top of the pie just for Laurie. 

Cauliflower Cheese


1 large cauliflower, broken into florets.  I also added broccoli
1-1/4 cups milk
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
8 ounces quality cheddar cheese, grated and divided
1/2 cup breadcrumbs


Preheat oven to 450F.  Boil cauliflower in salted water until just tender, 10-15 minutes.  Drain well in colander and place in a buttered baking dish.

In a saucepan add the milk, butter, and flour and while whisking continuously heat until mixture is smooth, thickens, and comes to a boil.  When mixture boils continue to cook and whisk for an additional two minutes.  Remove from heat and add mustard powder, nutmeg, salt, pepper and roughly two thirds of the grated cheese, stirring until smooth.

Pour sauce over cauliflower.  Mix breadcrumbs with remaining cheese and sprinkle over the top.

Bake 25 minutes until golden brown and bubbly

Glazed Carrots


1 pint (2 cups) chicken broth
1/2 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. butter
1 tsp. fresh parsley, minced (optional)
seasoning, to taste


In a medium saucepan combine broth and butter and honey.  Add carrots. Over medium heat cook, uncovered, until all of the broth has evaporated and the carrots are covered with a light glaze. When broth has evaporated, increase heat slightly to glaze.

Season to taste with salt and pepper before serving as a side dish.



10 lady fingers
3 tbsp of Cointreau
2 boxes of strawberry jelly (Jell-o)
Bird’s Custard Powder (Bird’s is just the best I think)
1 pint of whole Milk
Whipping Cream
Punnet of strawberries
3 mandarins for decorations


Soak lady fingers in cointreau for about 4 hours
Make jelly with hot water
Add a layer of fresh strawberries and pour over jelly
Allow to set for a few hours or overnight
Make custard per instructions with whole milk and pour over set jelly
Allow to set for a few hours
Whip cream and layer on top of custard
Use remaining strawberries and mandarins to decorate


King of Puddings (Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef Cook Book)


4 eggs, preferably free-range or organic
1 pint of whole milk
4oz fine breadcrumbs
9oz sugar (preferably vanilla sugar). I just added a splash of vanilla essence
4 level tablespoons jam – I used strawberry jam


Preheat the oven to 150ºC/300ºF/gas 2. Separate 3 of the eggs. Put the yolks into a bowl with the remaining whole egg and beat together. Add the milk, breadcrumbs and 85g of the sugar. Put the jam on the bottom of a pie dish and spread it evenly. Pour the custardy egg and milk mixture over the jam. Bake in your preheated oven for 1 hour or until set.

Whisk the remaining 3 egg whites until stiff, then slowly add the remaining sugar until it is all mixed in. Pile it on top of the custard, then bake in the oven for a further 15–20 minutes until the meringue is set and lightly browned.