Taking Stock!

I have a very good friend who has had what can only be described as a truly “crappy year”. Marion has been off work since this March with terrible symptoms of a disease which was only diagnosed in the second half of Summer. The diagnosis finally came in after many months of debilitating pain and it was determined that she had Lyme’s Disease.

The short-term solution was a course of antibiotics to kick the disease into touch, but there is a further 6 months of drugs required; if you go down the route of traditional medicine. The alternative was described to her as a “really strict diet” and I have to agree that it is quite limited. Essentially Marion has to train her body to accept foods in the same way you would when weaning a baby onto solids. Before this process can begin though it is essential to pack meal times with minerals, and these come from stock! Read the rest of this entry


Suffolk Winter Fair Recipes

This weekend I am demonstrating and leading workshops at the Suffolk Christmas Fair, Trinity Hall, Ipswich. I will be demonstrating oak plank salmon and pecan pie on both days of the show and leading a workshop on how to make your own homemade Christmas pudding with rum sauce. Below are the recipes for the 2 sweet dishes. I hope you’re tempted to give them a try and would love to hear your comments on what you thought.

Pecan Pie
Makes 1 x 10′ pie



  • 80g softened butter
  • 40g caster sugar
  • 20g cold water
  • 160g plain (all-purpose) flour


  • Place the butter, sugar and water in a bowl and whisk by hand until the water and sugar have been incorporated into the butter
  • Add in the flour and mix to combine. The mixture should become a paste that will clean out the bowl and transfer easily to the work counter for a quick knead
  • This dough can be rolled out straight away as it does not require time to rest in a fridge
  • Roll to the thickness of a pound coin before transferring to the tart case. Make sure to shape the pastry into the flutes for a crisp finish once baked. To prevent the pastry sticking to you, take a small ball of dough dab it in flour and use this to shape the dough into the flutes.



  • 50g unsalted butter
  • 85g light muscovado sugar
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 2tbsp brandy
  • 4 large eggs
  • 150g pecan halves


  • Preheat your oven to 190c/170c fan/ gas 5 with a baking sheet on the middle shelf.
  • Gently melt the butter in a saucepan. Once melted add in the sugar, golden syrup, vanilla extract and eggs. Stir vigorously to fully incorporate the mixture.
  • Reserve a quarter of the pecans for decoration and roughly chop the remainder of the packet. Stir the chopped nuts into the filling and transfer to the prepared pastry case.
  • Decorate the top of the tart with the reserved pecans and transfer to preheated baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and set.
  • The filling will rise as  it bakes but will settle as the tart cools.

This dish can be made a couple of days ahead, or frozen for up to 2 months.

Traditional Christmas Pudding

Makes 1 x 500ml pudding bowl


  • 85g sultanas
  • 85g currants
  • 25g raisins
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 15g sliced almonds
  • 40g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 75g suet
  • 1/4tsp mixed spice
  • 1/4tsp nutmeg (can substitute freshly grated of course)
  • zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1tbsp kirsch
  • 1tbsp brandy
  • 1/2tbsp whisky
  • 75ml cheery beer
  • 25g plain (all-purpose)flour
  • 40g white breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg


  • Place all dry ingredients (with the exception of the breadcrumbs and flour) into a bowl and add the alcohol. Stir through and leave for 24 hours to soak in.
  • Lightly beat the egg before adding to the other ingredients with the flour and breadcrumbs.
  • Lightly butter the pudding bowl and place a disc of baking paper in the bottom. Fill the bowl with the filling and cover with another disc of lightly buttered baking paper.
  • Cover the bowl with a double layer of baking paper and foil with a pleat across the centre of the basin to allow for expansion. Secure around the rim of the basin with kitchen string and keep 1 end long to create a handle. This will help to move the pudding around especially in and out of the hot water.
  • Trim the excess baking paper and foil before planing the basin in a saucepan deep enough to have a lid on it. You can either boil in water that comes half way up the side of the bowl, or steam by placing an upturned saucepan in the bottom of the pan and pour water to cover the plate.  Boil for 6 hours or steam for 8.
  • The pudding will keep for up to 3 months in a cool dark place. On the day of serving, boil or steam the pudding for 2 hours or heat in a microwave on full power for 6 minutes. Turn the pudding out onto a hot serving dish and ‘flame’ with brandy or rum. Serve with rum sauce.

These 2 recipes are really quite simple and I urge you to give them a go. I especially suggest making your own Christmas pudding if you’ve never particularly liked those puddings available for purchase from the supermarkets. It’s not too difficult, I think one of the biggest turn offs could be buying so many ingredients if you don’t have a reasonably stocked baking cupboard. If you do have to buy everything why not think about making more than you need yourself so you can give the others away as a wonderful homemade Christmas present for family and friends.

Happy Thanksgiving & Merry early Christmas with these 2 recipes 🙂

Thinking outside the bun…

Think Outside The Bun Indeed! 🙂

Tante Marie Culinary Academy

My name is Richard Holden (Tante Marie graduate March 2012) and I work for Weber Barbecues as a Chef Instructor Demonstrator. I am based at Weber’s Grill Academy in Oxfordshire, but when I’m not teaching there I am touring the UK and Republic of Ireland with the Weber Experience doing pop-up demonstrations.

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what foods can be cooked on the barbecue and one of the biggest is that you have to have a hot, sunny day. We always cook with the lid on at Weber and this turns the average grill into an outside oven. Anything you roast or bake in a conventional oven can be produced outside on the barbecue. We don’t stand by the oven as our food cooks, so it’s not necessary to stand by the barbecue if it’s raining. Roasting or baking outside produces food that is…

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Profile of a Tante Marie Graduate… part 5

Very nice to be featured in a Graduate profile by Tante Marie Culinary Academy

Tante Marie Culinary Academy

Richard Graduated from Tante Marie just last year and hit the ground running. After graduation he started working at Absolute Taste, the outside catering company, working at the Olympic Park in Stratford in one of the many Olympic Corporate Pavilions. He is currently working for one of the biggest names in BBQ, Weber, which includes teaching at their Grill Academy, and public cookery demonstrations on their touring trailer.

Name: Richard Holden

Job Title: Grill Academy Experience Chef

Year Graduated Tante Marie: 2012

What have you been up to since you left Tante Marie?

Immediately after graduation I moved up to London and started work with Absolute Taste as part of their London 2012 recruitment drive. I spent about a month in their base kitchen at Wandsworth getting to know the ropes with tasting menus for prospective Olympic clients, as well as some of their regular business customers.

Once the Olympics…

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Apple Tarte Frangpiane Recipes

I am very fortunate to have been invited to demonstrate at Weald Park Game & Country Show, Essex this weekend. Find below the recipes for the 2 dishes I will be creating as part of my sets this weekend. If you were there, I hope you enjoyed it, if you are reading having found it some other way then enjoy 🙂

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Obesity – When Will The UK Wake Up From Its Food Induced Coma??

Hitting the news this week was a story about 30% of all two-to-15-years-olds being overweight, while 14-20% are obese. The news item was accompanied by a photo of a glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut and had a tone of resignation, rather than outright alarm!

Are we in the eye of a perfect storm that has been 20 years in the making? Why are TV cooking programs full of Chefs making over-fussy food instead of programs that actually show people how to make day-to-day basics that are healthy, nutritious and straight-forward? Why do we have people in their mid-thirties uncomfortable with making the food they eat from scratch? Read the rest of this entry

Thinking outside the bun…

I have been very fortunate to be able to give back to Tante Marie in a number of ways since graduating and the most recent was to write a blog post for their school site. I received a call from Andrew, School Principle, saying that their social media agency wanted to do a Summer blog about the different foods that go well on a BBQ, but to also include some items that may not automatically be top of people’s list. That’s where I came in 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

My Return to Tante Marie

A little over 1 year after graduating from Tante Marie I received a request to return and give a cooking demonstration to the current intake of budding chefs. When Andrew (school Principle) asked me I was naturally very honoured and also a little nervous! I remember having a conversation with him shortly after graduation saying how I thought part of the testing procedure should be for students to give a dem in-front of the group; now my reckoning hour had arrived 🙂 Read the rest of this entry

Barbecue Cheat Sheet

A friend of mine recently bought a new barbecue and asked if I’d help him and his wife learn some of the basics for successful cooking. I was happy to help and we shared a very pleasant and enjoyable afternoon playing around with some great produce and cooking up some tasty treats. I showed them how to look after their new purchase and how they can cook anything successfully on their new 3 burner barbecue. Read the rest of this entry

Cooking Turkey This Easter?

Then you need to check out the instructional video I put together at Christmas for how to prepare, cook and carve the perfect bird for you and your guests 🙂 Read the rest of this entry