A Birthday Meal/Thank you

This meal had been organised for a month but it wasn’t until the end of the week that I made my mind up on what I was going to make.

The meal was to celebrate my Dad’s birthday & also thank them for looking after my invalid cat when I went away in the summer. Yes, a bit behind I know but be rest assured my Dad kept reminding me.

The first course was decided for me by my favourite cousin – Charlotte (she’d kill me if I didn’t say that). She brought me a load of carrots in as her rabbit Larry only likes the green tops. So I decided on soup. I went with:

Roasted Carrot, Cashew & Chilli Soup.

This was inspired by a few carrot soup recipes I looked at online for inspiration.

Preheat the oven to 200ºC (fan).

Put roughly chopped carrots on a baking tray & toss in olive oil & seasoning. Roast for about 30 minutes.

Toast 50g(ish) of cashew nuts for a few minutes then whizz in a processor.

In a large pan, fry onion & garlic with a bay leaf until soft. I did slip at this stage and throw quite a lot of chilli powder into the pan. It didn’t spoil the flavour, it had plenty of heat but I had intended it to be subtle.

Add the carrots & about a litre of stock (your choice, mine was chicken). Bring to the boil & simmer for about 20 minutes.

Throw in the cashews, give it a stir then blend thoroughly, You could pass it through a seive but I liked the rustic-ness.

Leave it to one side then when everyone is ready heat it through. Add more water as required, about 200ml of crème fraîche & some seasoning.


I had some stale bread left so I cut it up into squares, drizzled them with olive oil and bunged them in the oven for 10 minutes.

Whilst I had been searching around for brisket ideas I came across a recipe for pickled cabbage. It looked a bit of a faff considering I was doing 3 courses but I like a challenge. As luck would have it there was a Tom Kerridge recipe in the Christmas edition of BBC Good Food so I did that one instead as it looked quicker.

Pickled Red Cabbage

Thinly slice a red cabbage, I used my mandolin. Cover it with about 50g of salt, giving it a good mix & leave for about 30 minutes. Wash off the salt.

Put 300ml of white wine, 140ml of Sherry Vinegar, 140g of demerara sugar, a cinnamon stick, a nutmeg, 1 tsp of ground mace, 2 bay leaves & 1tbs of peppercorns (Tom uses white, I had some pink ones in so used them instead) into a pan & bring to the boil. Remove from the heat & leave to infuse for 30 minutes.

Strain it then mix it with the cabbage. This will last up to 3 weeks in the fridge apparently. It didn’t last 2 days in ours.

I got that out of the way early to let the flavours infuse.

It was time to get on with the pie. Using my brisket from last weeks stew I went with:

Steak, Guinness & Cheese Pie with a Puff Pastry Lid

I picked this from the Jamie at Home book. I wouldn’t really say I adjusted it much considering my brisket was already cooked.

Gently fry a couple of chopped red onions in oil for about 10 minutes. Turn up the heat & add chopped garlic, butter, chopped carrots & celery. Add 4 large chopped field mushrooms.

Give everything a stir then add rosemary, a pinch of salt & some pepper. Fast fry it for a few minutes then chop up the cooked brisket & add it to the pan. Stir in some plain flour then add a large bottle of Guinness. There’s no danger of me stealing any for chef’s treat, I don’t like it.

Add water to cover it all & bring to a simmer then stick it in a 180º oven. I didn’t really watch the time but cooked it for just under 2 hours I think. It was dark & sticky, just what I was hoping for. Season it & add cheddar, give it a stir.

If there is too much liquid you could stick it back on the hob to reduce but when I transferred mine to the pie dish I kept some liquid back to make an additional gravy as I am Northern.

Put it all in a big pie dish & sprinkle over a layer of cheese. Then around the edge of the dish, place a cm rim of pastry. Pop your pastry lid on, seal it then brush with egg & stick a couple of holes in. Bake it for another 45 minutes.


I slow baked some halved red potatoes (tossed in olive oil & packed into a small roasting dish) for 2 hours on 140ºc (fan). You can take them out until about 40 minutes before you want to eat them. Squash them down a bit with a potato masher then pop them back in at 190ºc (fan) with a little more oil & some seasoning for 30-40 minutes.


I also added peas.

I’d been looking for a ‘hearty’ pie recipe, I got one. I think this might have replaced the beef bourguignon I made for mum & dad many years ago as my mum’s favourite.

For dessert I wanted to make a cherry pie that I had seen on a recent Hugh FW but as cherries aren’t in season I had to come up with another idea. As luck would have it, Tom Kerridge came to the rescue again!

He made an apple crumble pie on his last episode of the Pub Food series. I normally avoid anything apply pie-y. That was my Nan’s domain but the time had come to do her apple legacy proud.

Tom Kerridge’s Apple & Toffee Crumble Pie Pudding

Now it should have been pie but my 2 attempts at sweet shortcrust were a disaster. Short on time, I changed mine from pie to pudding.


Make the apple mixture by putting sugar & orange zest in a pan & heating until melted.

Add peeled & diced bramley apples & a cinnamon stick & cook until it is almost purèed. Add peeled & diced gala (or cox) apples & cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat & leave to cool. Tom strains his but I  forgot was happy with the consistency of mine. It didn’t affect it at all.

Whilst it cools, mix plain flour, caster sugar, ground almonds, flaked almonds & butter to a crumble consistency. Place on a baking tray & pop in a 170º(fan) oven. Cook it for 20 minutes, stirring regularly then let it cool. This apparently gives your crumble its crumble. I can confirm I had no soggy bits.

Put the apple mixture into a baking dish & dot bits of toffee around it. Cover with the crumble & more bits of toffee. I didn’t bother with my own, I bought a bag from the market instead.

Bake for 12 minutes in a 170ºc(fan) oven.


We served it with clotted cream ice cream.

The plan had been to sit outside & eat. Watching the fireworks & taking in that Bonfire night smell. Mr S had put the fire on and everything but the British weather just laughed at us. I’m not sure whether the wind or the rain killed the fire.  No mind, all in all it was a successful evening but it had been a very long day, I was ready for my bed.

This was dinner… 2nd November 2013.


4 thoughts on “A Birthday Meal/Thank you

  1. I taped that and saw it last night, I know Mr 5 would like that, and ironically he needs puddings like this to help him gain weight when he comes home, so I shall have to make it..

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