The Twelve Foods of Christmas by AGA


Some interesting facts to tell to your family at Christmas! Click here for more info.


Beer & caramelised shallot bread in the AGA

I recently named a new limited edition AGA beer and was inspired to create this recipe! You can really smell the beer when you cut into this loaf.... it would be nice with butter and cheese, though we have also enjoyed it with brisket cooked in the simmering oven for 18 hours (you could also use the beer for this!). I have an AGA Total Control at home; you will need its roasting and baking ovens on, but its plates off.

Ingredients (makes two loaves):

400g local stoneground strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting

100g local stoneground strong wholemeal bread flour

10g salt

10g instant dried yeast

30g unsalted butter, softened

290ml AGA Cast Iron Certainty Beer (or any craft beer - a nice honeyish one)

Five or six caramelised shallots (from a deli or caramelise yourself in the simmering oven), slice as finely as you can.

British Rapeseed oil for kneading

Tip the flours into a large mixing bowl. Put the salt on one side of the bowl and the yeast on the other (so they do not touch). Add the butter and three-quarters of the beer.  Move the flour etc around gently with your fingertips then continue to add the beer gradually, until you’ve picked up all the flour.  Your dough should be soft, but not soggy. 

Coat your work top with a little rapeseed oil, then tip the dough onto it and begin to knead.  Knead for 5-10 minutes.  Work through the initial wet stage until the dough starts to form a soft, smooth skin. You could do this part with a mixer and dough hook.

When your dough feels smooth and silky, put it into a lightly oiled large bowl (you can use your mixing bowl, just oil the inside).  Cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl on the top of your AGA Total Control (at the back behind the swicthed-off boiling plate not in the middle); the heat from the ovens will help it prove. If you have a classic AGA then don’t prove on top, perhaps position a foot or so away. Leave the dough to rise until at least doubled in size – two hours is fine.

Line a flat AGA baking tray with bake-o-glide.

Tip your dough onto a lightly floured surface.  Fold it inwards until all the air is knocked out and the dough is smooth. During this process, add the caramelised sliced shallots ensuring they are evenly dispersed. Divide into  two and form into round loaves.  Place on tray a good distance apart.

Put the tray into a clean plastic bag and leave to prove for about one hour on top of the switched-off simmering plate (or nearby if classic AGA). The dough will double in size. You may need to just tuck the bottom of the loaves under to perk up the shape.

Dust with flour then slash if you have a very sharp knife or better still, treat yourself to an inexpensive grignette! Dip blades in oil before using. Bake for twenty minutes on the lowest shelf in the roasting oven, then ten minutes on the lowest shelf in the baking oven. If you have a firm brown crust and a hollow tap on the bootom of the loaf, you’re done! Allow to cool on a wire rack before slicing. 




Quick meals with the AGA City 60


Free cookery demo Saturday 13 September, Lincoln AGA

I will be doing a couple of free cookery demos on Saturday 13 September in Lincoln - please do pop along if you can? Come for either or both... just turn up!

Locatioon -  AGA Lincoln (I will cover cooking methods for all types of oven, so don't worry if you're not an AGA owner).  Address:  Outer Circle Rd, Lincoln LN2 4HU. Telephone 01522 538745. 

11.30am - tapas

1.30pm - sweet treats & nibbles.

Each session will last about an hour, and it will be your job to polish off the dishes! Take home the recipes as well.

Here's what I will be cooking, including the recipes, if you want them in advance:



Mushrooms in Parsley Sauce

100ml/3.5 fl oz virgin olive oil

6 cloves garlic, minced

Half red chilli pepper or 2 dried cayenne peppers

1kg/2.25lb fresh white mushrooms, cleaned and

halved or quartered, depending on size

salt and pepper to taste

1 tbsp flour


For the Sauce

2 cloves garlic, minced

leaves from a small bunch of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

100ml/3.5 fl oz white wine

salt and pepper to taste



Mix the garlic, parsley, white wine, salt and pepper for the sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Pour the olive oil into a casserole, add the garlic and cook gently until tender.  Add the chilli pepper and mushrooms and increase the heat.  Cook, stirring constantly, until the juice has been drawn out of the mushrooms.  Season and continue to simmer over a moderately high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the juice has evaporated.

Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and stir to blend well.  Remove the pan from the heat and slowly add the sauce ingredients, making sure you incorporate them well.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring all the time.  Simmer for 5 minutes, until you have a fairly thick sauce; add a little water if you want to thin it down.  Serve hot.


Chickpeas with Black Pudding in garlic and parsley

Olive oil

Half large onion, thinly sliced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley

25g/1oz sultanas, soaked in hot water for 15 minutes and drained

10g/0.25oz pine nuts

150g/5.5oz black pudding, fried and coarsely chopped

1 x 400g cooked chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Salt and pepper to taste



Put 2 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over a low heat, then sauté the onion until it is just tender.

Add the garlic, parsley, sultanas and pine nuts and mix.

Add the black pudding and chickpeas and heat through, stirring all the time.

Season with salt and pepper

Transfer to a serving platter, drizzle with olive oil and serve immediately.


Lentil and Chorizo Stew


225g/8oz green or brown lentils, soaked overnight

75ml/2.5 fl oz virgin olive oil

1.5 tsp Spanish paprika

1 small green pepper, diced

1 small onion, peeled and diced

1 small ripe tomato, peeled and diced

1 bay leaf

3 cloves garlic

100g/3.5oz chorizo, or other spicy sausage, sliced

100g/3.5oz black pudding, sliced

1 small carrot, peeled and sliced

200g/7oz potatoes, peeled and sliced



Combine all the ingredients, except for the potatoes, in a heavy saucepan.  Cover with cold water and bring to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Add the potatoes and continue to simmer for a further 20 minutes, or until the potatoes and lentils are tender.

Serve hot in individual earthenware dishes.





225ml water                                                                                      

1tsp vanilla extract

Rind of one lemon                                                                          

3 free range eggs

6 tbsp butter                                                                                     

Veg oil, for frying

Quarter tsp salt                                                                                

Caster sugar, for dusting

125g plain flour

Quarter tsp cinnamon (plus extra for dusting)



Place the water and the lemon rind in a heavy based saucepan and bring to the boil.  Add the butter, salt and cook until the butter melts. Add the flour all at once with the cinnamon and vanilla, then remove the pan from the heat and stir rapidly until it forms the consistency of mashed potatoes. Beat in the eggs one by one using a wooden spoon. Mix until smooth. Heat oil (safely) until hot enough to brown a cube of bread in 30 seconds. Place batter in an icing bag with a wide star-shaped nozzle. Squeeze out 5 inch lengths directly into the oil.  Make sure churros are 3-4 inches apart.  You will need to fry in batches; don’t overload the oil. Cook until golden. You may need to turn. Drain on kitchen paper. Serve with sugar and cinnamon dusted over.





4 or 5 rhubarb stalks                                                      

Approx 300 mls double cream

Rose sugar  – 3 or 4 tbsp                                              



Gently poach the chopped rhubarb in a little water. Meanwhile make the mint sugar by blitzing both mint and sugar together until the sugar is evenly green. Add to the stewing rhubarb. When the rhubarb is soft, set aside to cool. Gently whip the cream and then fold in the cooled rhubarb. Spoon into dishes. This pud improves with a little chill in the fridge.



110g/4oz caster sugar

110g/4oz plain flour,  extra to dust

1 tsp baking powder

1 lemon, zest only

55g/2oz flaked almonds 

1 free-range egg



Place all of the ingredients ingredients into a bowl and mix together well with floured hands.  Form into a long cylinder 5cm/2in wide. Place the cylinder onto a baking sheet and place into the oven to bake for 15 minutes, or until golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and, when it is cool enough to handle, slice into 1cm/½in rounds.







Judging preserves at Heckington then a perfect North Norfolk wedding

I had a brilliant day judging preserves at the Heckington Show on the last Saturday of July.

Yet again, the turn out of preserve entries was AMAZING and it was a real privilege to try each one but it was so tricky to pick the winners! If you haven't entered, you really should as you are taking part in a brilliant tradition which is fun to enter, and fun to look at as well when you are going round the show.

I had the help of a lovely steward (so lovely I have forgotten her name which is unforgiveable!) and between us we whizzed through the entrants in around two hours. The overall winner was difficult but in the end it went to a really well balanced rhubarb and ginger jam.

Then I had to hot foot it to North Norfolk to see my lovely friend Trish get married! It was a really long, but very happy and sweet day...


Here's Steve in his flowery shirt : )

I ADORED the bride's evening outfit which really suited her free-spirited personality! Such a perfect day - from judging preserves to a totally dreamy wedding...