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24 December 2012

Have a great Christmas!

We would like to wish all our Artisan Food Trail members, food lovers and friends a very Merry Christmas.

We're looking forward to the New Year and what 2013 may bring.

18 December 2012

Stuffing your Turkey

You can make your turkey even more special with some tasty stuffing by stuffing the neck end of the bird right before cooking and seal by tucking in the skin. Make sure you weigh the turkey after stuffing to calculate the correct cooking time. Alternatively spoon into a dish and cook separately.

Here are some tips and recipes for great homemade stuffing:
  1. You can prepare the stuffing a few weeks beforehand and freeze, and then allow to thaw completely before using. Or prepare on Christmas Eve, allow to cool and store covered in the fridge. Always allow the stuffing to come back to room temperature before using to ensure the cooking times are not affected.
  2. Turkeys should be stuffed just before cooking. Do not stuff the night before as this can be a breeding ground for bacteria.
  3. Only stuff the neck cavity – never the body cavity – the body cavity can have sliced onion or lemon or orange and fresh herbs placed to infuse the meat with additional flavours.
  4. Spoon stuffing into the neck cavity and seal the end by tucking in the skin and securing with cocktail sticks or darning needle and thread. Bread based stuffings tend to swell up slightly so do not pack in too tightly. Generally 350g will be enough for a 4.5-5kg bird.
  5. Weigh the turkey after stuffing to calculate cooking time. If the bird is under 4kg allow 20 minutes per kg + 70 minutes. If the bird is over 4kg allow 20 minutes per kg + 90 minutes.
  6. If you do not want to stuff the bird or have leftover stuffing mixture simply roll into little balls (use wet hands to make this easier). Brush with oil and bake for 20-30 minutes at the end of the turkey cooking time. Alternatively, spread stuffing mixture in a baking dish, bake for 30 minutes and serve cut into squares.

Green Herb, Lemon & Onion Stuffing


  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 250g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
  • 125g shredded suet
  • 2 lemons, grated rind of one and juice of two
  • 4 tbsp fresh chopped parsley
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped marjoram, or 1 tbsp dried
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped dill, or 1 tsp dried
  • 75g chopped walnuts, optional
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • stock or white wine to mix
  • salt and ground black pepper

Boil the onions in a little stock or water for 5 minutes, then chop, reserving the liquid for use later.
Mix with all the other ingredients until you have a firm, moist mixture, using the reserved liquid or wine to moisten if necessary. Season well and chill until required.

Fruit & Roasted Nut Stuffing


  • 125g dried, stoned prunes
  • 75g dried apricots
  • 1 stick of celery, finely chopped
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • 1 medium cooking apple, peeled and grated
  • 50g butter
  • liver of turkey, finely chopped
  • 125g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
  • 50g roasted chopped hazelnuts or almonds
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • salt and ground black pepper

Chop prunes and apricots finely and soak for at least an hour in hot water, then drain, reserving some of the liquid. Fry celery, onion and apple in the butter for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally then add liver and fry for a further 3 minutes until firm and cooked.
Put crumbs and nuts in large bowl and stir in fried mixture together with fruit, egg and seasoning, moistening with some reserved liquid, if necessary. Allow to cool before using.

Mushroom & Bacon Stuffing


  • 175g mushrooms, wiped and chopped
  • 175g streaky bacon, de-rinded and chopped
  • 175g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 small onion, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tsp mixed dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp freshly chopped parsley
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50-75g butter or margarine, melted
  • 2 medium eggs

Mix the mushrooms, bacon, breadcrumbs, onions, herbs and seasoning together in a bowl
Stir in the melted butter or margarine and sufficient egg to bind the mixture together.
Use to stuff the neck cavity only. Cook any remaining stuffing separately.

Oatey Apple & Cranberry Stuffing


  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 rashers smoked streaky bacon, diced
  • 450g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and grated
  • zest and juice 1 lemon
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 175g fine oatmeal
  • 175g fresh white breadcrumbs
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh sage
  • 75g dried cranberries
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and bacon and sauté for 5 mins until pale golden. Transfer to a bowl and cool slightly.
Add the remaining ingredients and mix well. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper.
You can make this stuffing the day before required if liked. Simply cover the bowl with clear film and refrigerate until required.
Use the stuffing to fill the neck of turkey. Roll the remainder into balls and roast in the oven alongside the turkey for 20 mins or until golden.
Makes enough to fill the neck cavity of a 2.2kg (10lb) turkey.

Sausage, Chestnut & Bacon Stuffing

50g streaky bacon, chopped
1 small onion, chopped
1 tbsp dry sherry
250g good sausagemeat
1 tbsp fresh chopped sage or 1 tsp dried
75g fresh white or brown breadcrumbs
125g canned chestnuts, drained and chopped
grated rind 1 lemon
salt and ground black pepper

Dry fry bacon in a small frying pan until the fat runs, then fry the onion in the juices for about 3 minutes.
Add sherry and cook until evaporated. Remove, tip into a big bowl and allow to cool. Mix in sausagemeat, sage, breadcrumbs, chestnuts, lemon rind and seasoning.
Chill and stuff before roasting.

Tips, photos and recipes reproduced
with kind permission of British Turkey

How to carve a turkey

So you've bought the best turkey and cooked it to perfection, so what's the best way to carve it?
This step-by-step guide should put you on the right track to getting those lovely slices of meat off the bird that you'll be proud to serve to your family and guests.
Step one
With a sharp knife, cut the skin between leg and breast.
Bend leg outwards and cut straight through the joint, removing the whole leg. Repeat on the other side. If the turkey is properly cooked, the legs will fall away easily. Do the same with each wing, leaving the breast meat intact.

Step two
With the legs removed, slice horizontally at the base of the breast until your knife reaches the carcass. Do this on both sides. Then, slice downwards in neat, even slices.

Step three
Slice the dark meat off the legs (hold the drumstick with a piece of kitchen paper if this makes it easier). Arrange round the edge of the serving platter. Pile the slices of white meat in the centre and carry into the dining room.

Step-by-step, photos and illustrations reproduced
with kind permission of British Turkey

6 December 2012

Tea gifts all wrapped up

If you're looking for the perfect gift for a tea lover, The Kandula Tea Company has something for everyone.

Pink Ceylon Tea Gift Set
Award winning Pink Ceylon Tea, a unique Single Estate 
green tea blended with hibiscus for a beautiful pink 
cuppa, with a bespoke pink batik print tea towel and 
pink elephant tea saucer.

Ebony Ceylon Tea Gift Set
Classic Orange Pekoe tea, especially blended to enjoy
black, it makes a bright and refreshing cuppa, with a
bespoke black & white batik print tea towel and batik
tea saucer.
Their beautifully packaged whole leaf teas and bespoke tea time accessories make the perfect Christmas gifts for tea devotees and elephant lovers alike.

Choose from a lovely selection of gift ideas from their online tea and gift shop – or put together your own ideal Christmas presents – and they will gift wrap for free! Visit the online shop to order here

Last order date: 
17th December

3 December 2012

10 tips for a healthier Christmas

With all the edible temptations on offer it’s all too easy to over indulge during the festive season. We asked Priya Tew of Dietitian UK what she would suggest to avoid some of the ‘bad’ things but also not miss out on a delicious Christmas and importantly to feel good.

On average people eat 6,000 kcals a day on Christmas day, that’s three times the recommended daily intake for a woman and over twice that for a man! It’s no wonder people gain an average of 2kgs over the festive season.

Here are my top tips on a healthier Christmas:

On the day
  • Keep breakfasts healthy and start the day right. Choose special but lower fat treats like currant buns, fruit bread, your favourite fruit and greek yoghurt, scrambled eggs and smoked salmon on a wholegrain bagel or wholemeal toast and chocolate spread. This will help keep you full and mean you are less likely to snack throughout the morning. Steer away from the pastries and save yourself for treats later in the day.
  • Choose smoked salmon, a soup or melon as a starter.
  • Turkey is low in fat and high in protein, so a great food to be eating. However watch those portion sizes! Have plenty of vegetables and don’t eat the skin.
  • Those roasties may be delicious but stick to just a few. Cut them into large chunks so they absorb less fat. Use a vegetable oil instead of goose fat, if you want to support local producers look for a UK rapeseed oil.
  • Christmas pudding is quite low in fat, but cream and brandy butter aren’t! Watch those portions and have a low fat custard or low fat creme fraiche as an option.

Through the festive season:
  • It’s often the extras that cause the weight gain. Plan your treats in and don’t over buy. The supermarket bargains are tempting, but if you always know you have too many sweet treats around buy less this year.
  • Snacks are tempting! Get some yummy olives, dried fruit and chestnuts instead of crisps, chocolate coated nuts and too much cheese. Try rice cakes, breadsticks, carrot sticks and homemade vegetable crisps with salsa instead of crisps and dips.
  • Make your own open top mince pies, less pastry = lower fat. Have a fruit salad to hand as an option too.
  • Alcohol contains calories! Get in some tasty no alcohol drinks in, make non alcoholic cocktails and use these to alternate drinks.
  • Stay active. It’s so easy to stay indoors especially when it’s cold, but make a plan to stay active. Walks, bike rides, trips to the park with the children – it all counts.

Priya Tew is a registered dietitian who runs her own nutrition consultancy business, Dietitian UK.
As a mum and food lover she is passionate about helping people to discover good quality food and to show them how healthy eating is not just tasty but vitally important.

Stay food safe this Christmas

Christmas is a time when a lot of food is bought and consumed, sometimes rather too much of it too. We're often faced with the prospect of cooking unfamiliar things, after all it's not everyday we cook a huge turkey or rib of beef. And then there's the issue of all the surplus - what to do with all the leftovers.

Ultimately there is pressure on us to become the ultimate domestic goddess or even god – but what food safety issues do we need to think about?

Sarah Daniels of The Red Cat Partnership has given us a few simple tips to follow to ensure your Christmas is a merry one.

Buying and storing food
Firstly do not buy or prepare food too far in advance.
When buying food you must consider the use by date – this is the date the manufacturer/ producer can guarantee that if we have stored it correctly
(in the fridge) that it is safe to eat.

Do not buy food that you cannot eat before the end of this use by period.
You will also need to be mindful of the ‘once open consume within’ guidance given – this will over ride the shelf life and may only be 2 days.
So do not buy your perishable foods too far in advance. If you need to buy early then freeze as soon as you can after purchasing – more on defrosting later.

Best before dates are just that. The food tastes best before that date – it won’t harm you afterwards, though it may not taste as good as it should.

Keep perishable foods in the fridge and do not overload the fridge.
I know we want a chilled beer or glass of wine, but the foodstuffs that support nasty bacteria growing need to be kept refrigerated to ensure the food is safe to eat.

Also we should not overload our fridges – if air cannot circulate this can cause a rise in temperature which can cause a dangerous growth of bacteria.

Also we need to keep raw and ready-to-eat foods apart.
Keep raw meats/ fish/ eggs and veg, particularly soily veg at the bottom of the fridge.

Preparing food
When preparing foods, this too, must not be done too far in advance.
If you're still eating the turkey on New Year’s day it is pushing it from a food safety perspective – prepare what you can eat within 2 –3 days.

If you are not going to eat it, portion it up and freeze as soon after cooking as you can.
Do cool foods quickly by portioning them, or taking them out of their cooking container as this will prevent nasty poisons / toxins developing.

Preparing the festive bird
There is no need to wash the bird – this can cause bacteria to be splashed and therefore spread around the kitchen. Those stomach upsetting bugs will be killed if the bird is cooked thoroughly.

Cooking and defrosting
If you need to defrost foods, do it in the fridge. This will take longer but it is safer. If there is no room in the fridge do it overnight whilst the central heating is off.
Ensure that all foods are thoroughly defrosted before cooking, otherwise the oven temperature will just defrost the meat and not cook it thoroughly.

Allow enough time for the cooking process.
Be mindful of how much food you need to cook at once and the order it needs to be cooked in. Most shops and magazines have countdown guides.
I would rather have a delayed festive meal than food poisoning, or a hard potato rather than an undercooked pink turkey!

Always check that poultry is cooked thoroughly – you do not need a probe – but pierce the bird/dish at the thickest point and ensure that juices are clear and the food is piping hot.

And lastly enjoy without the fear of a festive food poisoning!

Sarah Daniels is director of The Red Cat Partnership a health and safety consultancy based in Norwich.
Courses are available covering food safety with a team of chartered environmental health practitioners.