How to make sloe gin
Recipes for sloe gin or vodka ask for each sloe to be pricked with a pin. Frankly this is an unnecessary labour. A night in the freezer has the same effect, splitting the skin.
Sloe gin or vodka is a wonderful Christmas drink and it could be argued that any other use of the mighty sloe is a sin. Even if you don't like gin, it is worth making as it tastes more like a liqueur, as you can make it as sweet as you like.
sloe gin
For every pound of fruit add 8oz of sugar and a pint or so of gin or vodka (don't worry too much about the proportions as you can add more sugar or spirit later). Leave it until Christmas, shaking the bottle every couple of days.
After a few months (the longer the better, although it tends never lasts long enough to test this theory!) strain off the sloes and bottle the gin. The sloes can be stoned and made into wonderful liquor chocolates.
Sloes also make a lovely tart jelly to go with game or with your Christmas dinner as an alternative to cranberry. They can also be used in autumn pudding or jam, but do need quite a bit of sugar due to their bitterness.
(Words: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall)

Chocolate, pear and chilli crumble cake

Makes 1 x 20cm cake
  • 3 conference pears
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 170g light muscovado sugar
  • butter for the tin
  • 170ml groundnut or vegetable oil
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 70ml smooth orange juice
  • ½ tsp-1 tsp Tabasco
  • 200g plain flour
  • 30g cocoa
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 50g dark chocolate chips
  • 50g unsalted butter diced plus extra butter for the tin
  • 80g plain flour
  • 80g light muscovado sugar

Peel, quarter and core the pears and thinly slice across. Toss these in a large bowl with the lemon juice and 2 tbsp of the sugar and set aside for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6 and butter a 20cm loose-bottom cake tin about 7cm deep. Whisk the oil, eggs and orange juice in a large bowl with ½-1 tsp Tabasco, depending on taste, and with any juices given out by the pears. Whisk in the remaining sugar.
Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder together and whisk into the mixture, then stir in the pears and chocolate chips. Transfer the mixture to the cake tin.
Place the ingredients for the crumble in a food processor and whiz until the mixture resembles fine crumbs. Scatter this over the surface of the cake and bake for 50-60 minutes until golden and risen, and a knife inserted at the centre comes out clean or with no more than a smear of chocolate on it. Run a knife around the edge and leave to cool. If wished, serve with a teaspoon of chilli syrup.
FOR THE CHILLI SYRUP Slice 1 medium-hot red chilli into fine 1cm-2cm lengths, discarding the core and seeds. Place the chilli in a small pan with 50ml smooth orange juice and 50g caster sugar. Bring gently to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and leave to cool.
Pear, Caramelised Onion and Stilton Pastry Triangles 

Prep:35min › Cook:55min › Extra time:30min › Ready in:2hr

Serves : 36


  • 50g butter
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 red onions, thinly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 (375g) packets ready rolled puff pastry
  • 2 firm pears - peeled, quartered and sliced
  • 100g crumbled Stilton


Preheat oven to 190 C / Gas mark 5. Line two baking trays with parchment.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a frying pan over medium-low heat. Stir the onions into the butter, and cook until the onions have softened and caramelised to a deep, golden brown, 30 to 40 minutes. Stir frequently as the onions cook to keep them from burning. Once done, season with salt and pepper, and set aside to cool.
Use a sharp knife to cut each sheet of puff pastry into 9 squares. Cut each square in half diagonally to yield 36 triangles. Place the triangles onto the prepared baking trays, and top with the caramelised onions, pears and 1 teaspoon of crumbled Stilton.
Bake in the preheated oven until the pastry is puffed and golden brown, 20 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature before serving.



800g soften blackberries
400g apples (blitzed in blender almost to a puree)
550g sugar
1 tablespoon of cinnamon powder
Pinch of salt


Put all the ingredients into a large saucepan,  as jam sometimes spits its best to use the biggest pan you have.

While the mixture is heating,  put a saucer or small plate in the freezer. You will need this to test the jam later.

I recommend using a jam thermometer,  but I know not everyone owns one. 
If you do, you probably don't need the rest of this recipe,  but for people who dont have a thermometer,  or are new to jam making, you need to bring the mixed ingredients to the boil and 
boil hard for about 4 minutes after which you can turn down the heat and do a set test.

Once your jam is ready, pour immediately in warmed sterile jars (ensure rim is clean), secure lid 

and leave to cool before adding labels.

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