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Sunday, 23 December 2012

Christmas part 3 - Pork pie and chocolate terrine.

Now we’re only a couple of days off Christmas day, today has been an active day in the Hanson kitchen. My mine responsibilities this year are the Christmas day deserts and also a contribution to the Boxing Day get together at my mum and dads.

After minutes flicking through some of my numerous cook books I opted for a delicious sounding chocolate terrine recipe from ‘Bouchon’ by the legendary chef Thomas Keller and for my mums on boxing day I opted to have a go at making my own pork pie, using a Gary Rhodes recipe from his book ‘New British Classics’. This book was the first ever cook book I bought and although the recipes aren’t that new anymore, they are all of the highest quality.

Pork Pie

For me, a well-made pork pie is one of the finest things to eat and will be ideal for Boxing Day. I did tweak the recipe slightly from Gary Rhodes, using slightly different seasonings to flavour the pie and make it unique to me, however the quantity of meat and the pastry recipe used the recipe from the book. I also decided against including a traditional jelly on my wife’s request.


You need the following ingredients for the filling -

1kg of pork, chopped into ½ cm pieces – my preference is for pork shoulder. If my family were slightly more adventurous I would have included 200g of diced black pudding or chorizo and just used 800g of pork.

200g smoked streaky bacon – the saltiness and fat content in the  bacon will help ensure a moist pie.
Rosemary – a few sprigs, finely chopped.  You could use thyme and sage if you wanted too.
2 onions, diced.
1 tsp mustard
1 tsp mixed spice
A few gratings of Nutmeg
Salt and pepper
25g butter

1.       Start by melting the butter in a pan, add the onion and soften without colouring for 5 minutes. Add the rosemary and a generous pinch of salt and pepper.

2.       Mix the onion with the pork, followed by the remaining ingredients. But the filling in the fridge while you make the pastry.

3.       At this point turn your oven onto gas 7 / 220c and grease a deep pie or cake tin with either butter or lard.


Pork pies are traditionally made with a hot water pastry, which I love. This is how you make it.  

You’ll need-
675g plain flour
150ml milk
150 ml water
175g lard
Pinch of salt
1 beaten egg.


1.       Boil the water, milk and lard in a pan.

2.       Put your flour and salt in a large mixing bowl and stir in the liquid till you have a smooth dough.

3.       Roll out ¾ of the dough for the base of the pie and place the pastry into your tin.

4.       Once the pastry is lining the tin, place your pork mixture in and press down well.

5.       Roll out the remaining pastry for your pie lid, stick to the bottom with the beaten egg. Crimp round the side, cut a hole in the top and brush with more beaten egg.

6.       Cook the pie for 30 minutes at gas 7 / 220c before turning the oven down to gas 5 / 190c for another hour.

7.       The pie is cooked when the pastry is golden brown and a skewer comes out of the pie clean and is hot when you put it on your lip.

8.       Leave the pie to cool and give it a couple of days in the fridge to mature before eating. I like my pork pie with either brown sauce or a nice chutney.


Chocolate terrine.

A lot of my family like there chocolate, so I thought I’d do something chocolaty for Christmas day instead of the traditional pudding. I’ve decided that I’m going to use the classic chocolate and cherry combo and serve the chocolate terrine with some stewed cherries.


To make the terrine you’ll need;-

12oz of dark chocolate
8 ½ oz butter
4 eggs separated + 4 additional egg yolks.
Caster sugar, 1 ½ cups
Cocoa powder ½ cup
Double cream ½ cup
Granulated sugar 2 tbsp.



1.       Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl set above a pan of simmering water. When melted and cooled slightly, stir in the egg yolks.

2.       Whisk the cream till it stands up when you take the whisk out.

3.       Whisk the egg whites, when stiff whisk in the granulated sugar.

4.       Mix the caster sugar and the cocoa powder into the chocolate mixture. Next fold in the egg whites and then fold in the whipped cream.

5.       Pour the chocolate mixture into a loaf tin lined with cling film and put into the fridge to set for a minimum of 12 hours.

6.       Heat some frozen cherries with some caster sugar till they are nice and syrupy and leave to cool before serving with slices of the terrine.





Monday, 17 December 2012

Christmas part 2 - The vegetarian

For most, the Christmas dinner menu is based around a giant piece of meat large enough to sink the titanic. However, I feel the need to spend some time writing on behalf of vegetarians as they so often miss out ending up with some crap after thought from the host. For me, December is still an exciting time when it comes to interesting, seasonal vegetables that can be used for either a main course or to accompany the traditional roast.

I’m going to give you a couple of simple, tasty vegetarian alternatives we’ve cooked at some Blend events this year that fit the bill. The first one is a great burger, made with mushroom, spinach, walnut and some cheese.

Mushroom, spinach and walnut burger

These burgers are really tasty and will put a smile on the face of most vegetarians. You can make them the day before and take no more than 15 minutes to prep and cook.

Ingredients – 200g mixed mushrooms, handful of spinach, clove of garlic, 2 sage leaves (chopped), 1 sprig of rosemary, handful of walnuts, 1 cup of polenta, 1 cup vegetable stock and about 100g of parmesan cheese.

Method –Fry the mushrooms, herbs and garlic in a little oil till they soften. Chop the nuts and add along with the spinach. Cook till the spinach is wilted, season generously with salt and pepper and leave to cool.

Make the polenta by boiling 1 cup of vegetable stock, adding the polenta and mixing well till you have a smooth paste. Cook the polenta for 5 minutes over a low heat, grating in the parmesan and adding salt, pepper and an optional knob of butter. Mix the cooked mushroom mix and polenta together, taste and season really well again and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Shape the cooled polenta mixture into burgers, pan fry for 3 minutes on each side or till they are golden brown and heated all the way through. I like to serve them with a nice tomato sauce with some chilli through it.

Beetroot tarte tatin

Tarte tatin doesn’t always need to be a dessert. This dish is another one you can prepare ahead of time and is something a bit different for the vegetarians in our lives. The finished dish is pretty stunning when you turn it out too.

Ingredients – puff pastry, sugar, vinegar (balsamic or red wine are good options here), cooked beetroot, beaten egg, knob of butter.

Method – roll out the pastry to the size of a frying pan and put to one side. Heat the sugar with a splash of water in a pan till you have a light caramel, then add a good splash of the vinegar and the butter. Make sure you don’t stir the caramel or it will go grainy. Arrange the beetroot in the caramel and place the pastry over the top. Brush the pastry with beaten egg and bake in the oven at gas 6 / 190c for about 20 mins till the pastry is cooked through. Flip the tart out and you can crumble some nice cheese over at this stage if you want too.

Please think about vegetarians this Christmas, we carnivores often disregard them serving them some pretty awful food.