Food & Drink

Rib of Beef with Thyme Butter,Caramelised Shallots and Madeira Gravy

Rib of Beef with Thyme Butter,Caramelised Shallots and Madeira GravyA celebratory or festive centre piece with a 5 rib or sirloin joint, Cranberry and Parmesan Stuffing with roasted shallots and Madeira gravy.

The third in our series of alternative Christmas dishes. You can find the previous suggestions here


 1.3kg-1.8kg/3-4lb 5 rib or sirloin joint

 75g/3oz butter, softened

 1 large bunch fresh thyme leaves

 Salt and freshly milled black pepper

 20-25 shallots, peeled and left whole

 30-60ml/2-4tbsp good, aged, balsamic vinegar

 15ml/1tbsp plain flour

 300ml/½ pint hot, good beef stock

 150ml/¼ pint Madeira or Port

For the Cranberry and Parmesan Stuffing:-

 175g/6oz fresh white or wholemeal breadcrumbs

 45ml/3tbsp dried cranberries or raisins

 30ml/2tbsp pinenuts

 75g/3oz grated Parmesan cheese

 30ml/2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley

 2 large eggs, beaten

 50g/2oz butter, melted

 Salt and freshly milled black pepper


(1) Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4-5, 180-190°C, 350-375°F.

(2) Prepare the thyme butter: In a small bowl mix together the butter, thyme leaves and seasoning.

(3) Place the joint on a chopping board and spread generously with the thyme butter.

(4) Place on a metal rack in a large non-stick roasting tin and open roast for the preferred, calculated cooking time, basting occasionally with any beef juices.

(5) 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time, remove the joint from the tin with the rack, add the shallots to the pan with the balsamic vinegar, and gently shake. Place the joint directly on top of the shallots, and return to the oven.

(6) When the beef is ready remove the joint from the tin with the vegetables and transfer to a warmed plate, cover and set aside to rest.

(7) Prepare the gravy; Spoon off any excess fat from the roasting tin and discard. Place the tin over a medium heat and sprinkle over the flour. Stir well with a small whisk or spoon, add a little stock and stir again, scraping the base of the pan to release any rich, beefy sediment.

(8) Add the remaining stock, Madeira or Port and any meat juices from the platter, adjust the seasoning, if required and simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until reduced to a well-flavoured gravy. Strain before serving.

(9) Serve with roast potatoes, roasted parsnips, cranberry and parmesan stuffing and the gravy

Cranberry & Parmesan Stuffing:-

(1) Preheat the oven to Gas mark 5, 190°C, 375°F.

(2) Line a 450g/1lb loaf tin with baking parchment or greaseproof paper.

(3) In a small bowl mix together the remaining ingredients.

(4) Lightly spoon the stuffing into the loaf tin and bake for 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly, then remove the stuffing from tin and slice into portions.

Asian style Honey & Lemon glazed Goose

Northern Living - Asian style honey & Lemon glazed Goose recipe. An alternative to turkeyThe second in our series of alternative Christmas recipes, Asian style Honey & Lemon glazed Goose. As with the Spiced quince Pork recipe the main absent ingredient is the turkey....


1 whole goose

Honey Syrup Mixture

1 lemon

4 cups water

3 tablespoons honey

3 tablespoons dark soy sauce

2/3 cup rice wine or dry sherry

To Garnish

Sliced orange and fresh bay leaves


(1) If the goose is frozen, thaw it thoroughly. Rinse the goose well and blot it completely dry with paper towels. 

(2) Using a sharp knife, cut the lemon into 1/4-inch slices, leaving the rind on. Combine the lemon slices with the rest of the honey syrup ingredients in a large pot and bring the mixture to a boil. Turn the heat to low and simmer for about 20 minutes. 

(3) Using a large ladle or spoon, pour half of this mixture over the goose, until all of the skin is completely coated with the mixture. 

(4) Preheat the oven to 475F, 240C. 

(5) Meanwhile, place the goose on a rack in a roasting pan, breast side up. Put the goose into the oven and roast it for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F, 180C and continue to roast for 2 to 3 hours depending on the size of the bird.

(6) At half hour intervals baste the goose with the remaining syrup. On the last occasion place the sliced orange and bay leaves on the crown of the breast and pour the remaining syrup over them.

(7) Remove the goose from the oven and let it sit for at least 10 minutes before you carve it.

You can extend the cooking time to 4 to 5 hours, if you wish by slightly reducing the cooking temperature. This will result in the meat being cooked to the point where to can shred it between a couple of forks, crispy duck style. 

Spiced Quince Pork Recipe

Northern Living - alternative Christmas recipes - Spiced Quince PorkIf you are looking for an alternative to the traditional Christmas turkey this year, we'll be adding a few suggested recipes as December progresses. Christmas ham with a mustard crust is traditional in Scandinavia, but this pork and quince version is just as good.


For the Pork

3 star anise

2 red chillies, chopped

2 tbsp black peppercorns

1 head of garlic

2 onions, halved

300g root ginger, chopped

3 tbsp coarse sea salt

5kg piece leg of pork, bone in

For the glaze:-

100–200ml Quince Syrup

10 star anise


1. Mix all the ingredients for the pork in a very large pot, adding enough water to cover. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for two to two and a half hours, or until the temperature in the centre of the pork reads 55°C on a meat thermometer. Leave the ham in the liquid until it has cooled completely, then take it out and set aside for up to two days, covered and chilled, until you want to roast it.

2. On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.

3. Remove the rind from the ham, leaving the fat behind, and cut a diamond pattern in the fat. Brush the quince syrup over the ham and press a star anise into 10 of the diamonds. Place in a roasting tray and roast for 20–25 minutes, until golden. 

Kaczka z jabłkami - Roast Duck with Apples

Northern Living - Kaczka z jabłkami - Roast Duck with Apples recipeWe had an email from a Polish gentleman saying he loved the site, but struggles with English. So we've added multi-lingual support. So here is a Polish Sunday lunch classic.

This is as simple and easy to roast a duck at home as a chicken. This popular, traditional Polish dish goes down nicely with a bottle of dry red wine 


2 kg (4½ lb) duck

2 medium sized apples

2 tablespoons chopped fresh marjoram

3 cloves garlic, crushed

1kg (2lb 3oz) small potatoes 

1 tablespoon caraway seeds 


(1) Preheat the oven to 240C (475F).

(2) Rinse the duck with water and pat dry. Wash, peel, core and chop the apples into small chunks and stuff the cavity of the duck. Rub the skin well with the marjoram, the garlic, and salt and pepper. Place on a large plate, cover, and leave to stand for 45 minutes to marinate.

(3) Place the duck in a roasting tray. Collect any marinade left in the plate, and add some more water to make up one cup of liquid. Pour this liquid around the duck in the roasting tray.

(4) Roast the duck uncovered for 10 minutes, then reduce the heat to 160°C (325°F) and cook for 2 hours. Every half an hour or so use a fine skewer to pierce the duck skin with holes to release its juices and then baste the duck with the liquid that collects in the bottom of the pan.

(5) Clean the potatoes and cut into halves or quarters (there is no need to peel them). When the duck still has about an hour to cook, salt the potatoes, place them in the tray with the duck and sprinkle with caraway seeds. They should start to fry gently in the duck fat. When you next baste the duck, turn the potatoes, making sure they are well covered with the duck juices. Add another sprinkle of caraway seeds if you like.

The duck should be so well cooked that it can be easily pulled apart and served in chunks. 

Moist sweet carrot cake recipe

Northern Living - Moist sweet carrot cake recipeThis is a basic carrot cake recipe that is easy to make. It calls for self-raising flour, carrots, walnuts and cinnamon - no other spices, pineapple, raisins, etc. The Cream cheese icing is also easy to make and really delicious. Feel free to reduce the amount of sugar in the cake if you prefer your cakes less sweet. Because carrot has a naturally firm texture and very high water content adding grated carrot to a cake mix guarantees a moist light texture with the added bonus that the carrot contains natural sugars. 

Ingredients (Cake):

250g self-raising flour

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

400g caster sugar

350ml vegetable oil

4 eggs

350g grated carrots

120g chopped walnuts

Ingredients (Cream cheese icing)

225g cream cheese

110g margarine, softened

450g icing sugar

120g chopped walnuts

1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180 C / Gas 4. Grease two 23cm round cake tins.

1. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon and sugar. Add the oil and eggs, mix until blended, then stir in the carrots and nuts. Divide the cake mixture evenly between the two prepared tins.

2. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes in the preheated oven. A skewer inserted into the cake should come out clean. Cool cakes on wire racks before removing from tins.

3. To make the icing: In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and cream cheese, add the sugar and cream well. Stir in the nuts and vanilla. Use to fill and ice the cooled cake layers.



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