Chestnut, cranberry and white chocolate biscotti

I was actually meant to post this before Christmas. I came up with this recipe for my weekly column as a great edible gift for Christmas. However if you are anything like me and enjoy the full 12 days of Christmas, you will still make these anyway. So why don’t you get some Sunday baking done tomorrow and keep it Festive! After all, today is still only the ninth day of Christmas! 

Below is what I wrote for my column:
It’s less than 2 weeks till Christmas now so I thought I’d share with you another  recipe of mine great for those edible gifts, an emergency sweet treat when guests suddenly turn up or even just great to eat at your leisure alone. 
 The great thing about biscotti is how long it lasts for so its perfect to be baking ahead now if you like. You can even freeze them down and cook when needed.
 Biscotti are so easy to make yet they look like you’ve spend hours on them.
 They look so pretty however you present them just Perfect with a mulled wine or Hot chocolate.

Chestnut, cranberry and white chocolate biscotti:

(Makes 16-18 biscotti)
  • 175g plain flour plus extra for dusting
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 125g light muscovado sugar 
  • 1 egg beaten 
  • 50g cranberries
  • 50g chestnuts ( cooked vacuum packed ones ) chopped roughly
  • sprinkle of cinnamon ( I use Spice Kitchen )
  • sprinkle of nutmeg
  • 75g white chocolate melted to drizzle

  • Heat your oven to 180c
  • Place your greaseproof baking paper onto a baking tray. Put your flour,baking powder, sugar and spice into a bowl and mix well.
  • Stir in your egg, mix well. It will start to the form clumps. Bring the dough together with your hands and knead a couple of times to bring mixture together.
  • Then add your chestnuts and cranberries and knead together.
  • Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured surface and make into a sausage shape. Place onto the baking tray and pop into the oven for 25 minutes.
  • At this stage it still will be slightly pale in colour. Take out of the oven, transfer onto a cooling rack until cool enough to handle. 
  • Using a bread knife cut into slices of about 1cm thick and lay individually back onto the baking tray. ( At this stage they can be cooled and popped into the freezer in bags) 
  • Turn down oven to 140c and then bake for 15 minutes, turn the biscotti and bake for a further 15 minutes until golden and dry.

* Pop onto a wire cooling rack to cool. Then drizzle with melted white chocolate. ( don’t be perfect with it ). Allow the chocolate to cool and then you are ready to eat.

Festive scallops

At Christmas time, scallops always make their way into my Kitchen. I don’t get chance to eat them very often because of their cost so they become an indulgent treat at Christmas. 
  I have done many starter recipes with scallops so I thought I would share one of my festive ones with you. 

 Scallops are a great starter for Christmas Day or anytime really over the festive period as they are so quick to cook plus they only need a few ingredients alongside as you don’t want to overpower their sweet subtle taste. Personally I find if you buy large scallops, 3 can be ample for each person but thats your choice. 

  This recipe you will be able to knock up in 15 minutes to impress your guests.  A festive, seafood, showstopper that really is simple to do.

My Festive Scallops:

serves 4
  • 1 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • a couple of knobs of unsalted butter
  • 12 Large scallops
  • 3 rashers of Smoked bacon trim most of the rind off but leave a little fat to give flavour
  • 150g frozen petit pois defrosted
  • 3 clementines segmented keep the rest for juice later.
  • small handful fresh mint chopped
  • a good splash of Prosecco or fruity sauvignon blanc
  • Chop your bacon into very small squares. Fry in a hot frying pan for a couple of minutes, just until starting to colour. Pop aside on a plate leaving the fat in the pan.
  • Pop some boiling water into a saucepan and empty in your peas. Boil for no more than 2 minutes as you want to keep their colour. Drain, add a knob of butter and your chopped mint, shake and cover with a lid. Set aside.
  • To cook the scallops, add a knob of butter and a splash of rapeseed oil to the frying pan and heat until hot but allowing not to burn. Place your scallops in the pan and cook for roughly 2 minutes, do not turn until caramelised on each side. Then do the other side.
  • Set your scallops aside onto a warm plate and then add your bacon back into the frying pan, deglaze with your wine and reduce down for about a minute. Add in your clementine segments and a little spritz of the juice. Once reduced to a syrup texture you are ready to plate up. 

*  Place pea mixture onto the plate, top with your scallops and pour over your bacon and clementine syrup.

Spiced Orange, oat and Chocolate chip cookies

I always bake a lot more at Christmas time, mainly because I make pretty much the majority of all my Christmas Presents.  I love giving edible gifts, always have done and I  always will.  It’s very personal and I think it shows a characteristic approach to whom gives you the Edible gift. 

  This recipe I came across developing today was something that I had been fancying all week and it’s strange as Im not one for liking specifically Chocolate with Orange, I feel its too powerful for me but certainly around Christmas time, my house is filled with the smell of oranges and clementines so its seems such a crime to not involve a hint in My food.

  If I am totally honest I get slightly bored with Chocolate chip cookies/biscuits so when I eat them I want something thats really going to excite me, and Boy did this today.  The recipe worked straight  off, which is always a blessing and I have to say, I think this one is going to have to go towards my Christmas edible gift list, which is getting longer and longer by the day!
 I love spices and in many different forms of cooking and I have experimented a few times in My baking also, but something that I do every year that I want to share with you is this:
  I make a Spiced Sugar so it’s infusing all the time and it can be used in all sorts which you will see later.

Spiced Sugar:

All you do is take a jar full of Caster sugar and I infused mine with:

*  Vanilla pod

*  Ground Nutmeg
*  Cloves-  Spice Kitchen
*  Cinnamon Bark- Spice Kitchen
*  Cardamon pods – Spice Kitchen
*  Orange Peel

You don’t need a lot as these Spices are very strong.
Once you have this another tip would be to sprinkle over Popcorn. It’s great to eat whilst watching those Christmas films.

Spiced Orange, Oat and Chocolate Chip Cookies:


(Makes approximately 36-40 small sized cookies)

–  150g Vegetable Fat spread ( I used Stork )

–  220g Plain Flour
–  75g Spiced Sugar (As above) Remember to sieve this!
–  75g Light Muscovado Sugar 
–  1 Egg
–  Zest of 1 Orange plus a little spritz of the Juice to add extra zing
–  1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of soda
–  50g Ground almonds
–  100g Milk chocolate chips
–  50g Jumbo Rolled Oats


*  Preheat Oven to 160-170c

*  Cream together with a Wooden spoon or mixer the Spread, Sugar, egg, Zest and juice.

*  Add the Bicarb and flour and mix together well.

*  Then add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. I found better at this stage with a wooden spoon as the cookie dough will be quite tough.

*  Roll a Small ball of the mixture 2-3 cm wide and place onto a baking tray with greaseproof paper and make sure to leave a few cm’s space in-between like so above.

*  Place in the oven for approximately 13 minutes or until starting to brown at the edges.

*  Allow to cool on a rack before serving.

And there you go, A great tasting, frugal recipe for Christmas Presents or just eating.

Talking Leftovers on Rupal Rajani’s show for BBC Radio leicester

Back in October, I was asked by the lovely Rupal Rajani to appear on her Lunchtime show on BBC Radio Leicester. I regular already appear on BBC Radio Leicester as a Food Friday cook on Ben Jackson’s show.  However, Rupal was doing a Food Waste Challenge for a national campaign called Love Food Hate Waste. This is supported by our Leicestershire County Council. 
Matt Copley had contacted her about this.  They teach people how to make their food last longer through leftovers, storage and saving money on their food shopping Bills.  Rupal was doing really well but wanted to find out more of how herself and her listeners could make their leftovers go that bit further. So I was thoroughly pleased and honoured to help Rupal and appear on her show.

  I had heard a lady previously on the show who was on the challenge also chatting about the fact that she was throwing away bread crusts as her children didn’t like them.  Immediately my head was bouncing with ideas and I wanted to shout out above the rooftops to people on how they could use them. I decided that I would talk about Leftover Bread and give my routine of what I do at home…

You can hear Rupal and I here on this link:

   I assumed that most people acted the same way I do with saving leftovers but it appeared I had inherited the name of being a bit of a, and I quote, from Mr Ben Jackson “A Leftover Queen”!  I quite liked that title, I knew then, that maybe I was doing a bit more than others and once I had been on the show, I knew I could help people with my background, especially from being a Chef.  We are always taught to never throw things away. Of course using things in a safe and correct manner I must add though.  I suppose my knowledge of this always started from being a young child. My Grandma did it, My Mum and Dad did it and as I am a miners daughter, throughout the miners strike in the early eighties I saw my mum always trying to make meals stretch for us. 


I had taken in Arancini, which is leftover Risotto rolled into balls, stuffed with Mozzarella, covered in breadcrumbs (Leftover bread) and deep fried. Well, they went down so well, I didn’t have chance to even take a photo of them! The Staff at BBC Radio Leicester Woofed them down! I was thoroughly pleased.  I can always do another version again as whenever I make risotto I purposely do a little more so I can have these for lunch the next day.

Another thing I talk about is making your own tortilla chips which is so unbelievably easy! So I thought I’d share this with you:

*  If you have any Tortilla wraps leftover from such as making fajitas, cut them into triangles, pop onto a baking tray like so:

*  Drizzle with Rapeseed/olive oil and pop what ever seasoning you want, I.E Chilli, Garlic, Paprika or even just sea salt and cracked black pepper! I used a moroccan spice named Ras el hanout on mine. You could even do 5 spice, jerk and even a cinnamon sweet one with Christmas round the corner!

*  Pop in an oven that has been heated to 190c and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  You can deep fry them, but this is healthier alternative.

There you have it… A Homemade snack for film night! 

 Rupal did really well on her challenge, I think overall she saved about £5-6 a week and continues to do it now. If you need any help, tips or advice on this just let me know? as I’d Love to hear from you.  You will also see other leftover recipes appearing soon on here as usual and I will be including lots of Christmas leftover recipes also which I will be sharing some of my personal recipes of which I have been doing for years.

I shall finish off with showing you this Bread Loaf which I haven’t used so it is going in my freezer as if friends/family are coming round for a tipple and I like to put out some nibbles, then this is great to slice into Crostini’s / Bruschetta’s , pop on whatever you have in the fridge in terms of Meats, chutneys and cheese and there you have a cheap and easy Canapé.