Tag: Christmas

Good food should always be accompanied by good drink. And sometimes, good drink is a thing on its own. These next few weeks in the run-up to Christmas and New Years are peak party season, and whether you’re hosting a big group of friends and neighbours, or you’ve just got a few friends and family stopping in, the first thing you’ll do is probably offer them a drink. Nobody wants to have to dash out to the shops or garage to stock up at the last minute, so get yourself well set for this year and many more to come. A thoughtfully stocked cocktail cabinet or drinks trolley needn’t cost a great deal (it can be cheaper than a night out), and you can replenish or upgrade elements of it over time. It is an investment, and a work-in-progress, that with a few basic cocktail recipes will delight your guests and pay you back time and time again.

selection of bottles of spirits in a home bar
A very well stocked bar – you can start small and work up to this!

Home Bar – What and Why

You don’t need to be a bow-tied barman to mix a good cocktail. Most classic cocktails are remarkably simple, requiring very few ingredients and very little skill to mix. Commit a couple to memory or have the recipes written out in a kitchen drawer, and you’re good to go. I’d suggest offering your guests the following as a starter for 10:



G&T (alc or non-alc)



Old Fashioned

French 75

To make a Negroni, mix 25ml each of gin, Campari and vermouth rosso, pour over ice and garnish with orange.

Home Bar Basics – Alcohol

Just as with food, the quality of your ingredients is really important. That’s why less is more in terms of the spirits that you stock and what you offer. A decent bottle of juniper-forward gin (more versatile for cocktails) is essential; there are hundreds to choose from these days but I’d suggest a Cornish classic like Tarquin’s. It’s nice to cater for drivers and non-drinkers properly too, so a botanical non-alcoholic spirit such as Pentire (another Cornish brand) means you can offer a 0% G&T rather than a regular soft drink.

pentire non alcoholic spirit and tonic
Pentire and tonics for the drivers and non–drinkers.

A bottle of decent bourbon whiskey and a small bottle of bitters will allow you to offer Old Fashioneds, whilst a bottle of Campari and a nice vermouth rosso (check out Cornish vineyard Knightor’s fantastic vermouth) will put the ever-popular Negroni on your Christmas party cocktail menu.

bottle of angostura bitters
Angostura Bitters: A cocktail cabinet essential, just as salt is in the kitchen.

Home Bar Basics – Mixers, Garnishes and Ice

Ice is essential. I always say to make best use of your freezer by using it to store high value items, not filling it up with cheap bulky items like bread and ice and then spending all that money on electricity. But when it comes to Christmas parties, you don’t want to run out of ice. A bag of ice is a good idea if your party is planned, but for some cocktails it’s a great idea to make oversized ice-cubes by freezing water in old yoghurt pots (or similar).

When it comes to mixers, buying small cans or bottles of tonic water is a more expensive way of doing it than getting in big bottles, but big bottles go flat quickly and if you don’t need all of it then some wil go to waste compared to individual serves.

A couple of limes and lemons for garnisihing G&Ts and gin-based cocktails is a sensible addition to your fridge, as is an orange or two – sliced to serve in a Negroni, or a slither of peel as a garnish for an Old Fashioned.

French 75 cocktail
The French 75 is a Champagne cocktail that kicks like a canon: mix 15ml lemon juice and 30ml gin with a dash of sugar syrup over ice, strain into a chilled glass and top with 60ml Champagne.

Home Bar Basics – Equipment and Glassware

You don’t need a massive collection of fancy glassware, but you also don’t want to be serving drinks in a  random assortment of tumblers and mugs. Basic glassware like wine glasses, champagne flutes, high balls and short rocks tumblers are all available in supermakrets andhomewares stores for reasonable prices. If it’s a big party, then consider hiring!

You’ll need a sharp paring knife and choping board for preparing garnishes. You can buy a cocktail kit if you want to, but a long-handled teaspoon will make a perfeectly good substitute for a bar spoon, you can use a mason jar or jug instead of a Boston glass or tin (or cocktail shaker) and a small seive or tea strainer instead of a hawthorn strainer. Lots of cocktails can be mixed in the glass, such as a Negroni or Old Fashioned. What matters is the end-result, but you’re not a hotel bar and nobody will criticise a person who hands them a drink!

The great thing about having a properly stocked and ready-to-go home bar set-up is that it doesn’t expire. Once you’ve got yourself started, after that initial outlay, you can maintain and add to it for very little as your cocktail repertoire grows, and it will be there to delight next December, and the December after that, and on any occasion in between. Enjoy!

*If you don’t want to serve a solely liquid diet, then our recipe for Festive Bar Nuts will come in handy. They’ll keep in a sealed jar, although it’s unlikely they’ll last that long.

If you’re looking for ideas for Christmas gifts for foodie friends or family, or if you’ve got a large group of people who you want to give Christmas gifts to, such as colleagues or team members, then biscotti is the perfect answer. Biscotti are twice baked almond biscuits that are dry and crunchy, often served with sweet wine or coffee to dunk in. They’re popular as a Christmas gift because of their festive flavours and the fact that they keep well for up to a month after baking. Biscotti originate from the Tuscan city of Prato (back in the 14th century), and the name means “twice baked”, but in Italy these biscuits are also often known as “cantuccini”. The dough is first baked as a log and then sliced up to make the oval biscuits, that are baked again to make them crunchy.
Whether included as part of a festive hamper or given as small gifts to colleagues, nothing shows that you care like baking, and nothing’s easier to bake and gift at this time of year than biscotti. Give it a go, and get ahead for Christmas!



350g plain flour, plus extra for rolling
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g golden caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
1 orange, coarsely zested
85g sultanas
50g blanched almonds
50g your choice of other nuts

chef rupert cooper demonstrating how to make biscotti during a tuscan cookery course at philleigh way cookery school


Heat your oven to 180C, 160C fan or gas mark 4, and line two baking sheets with baking paper.
In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, mixed spice and sugar.
Stir in the eggs and zest until the mixture starts forming clumps, then bring the dough together with your hands – it will seem dry at first but keep kneading until no floury patches remain.
Add the fruit and nuts, then work them into the dough until evenly distributed throughout.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and divide into four pieces.Roll each piece into a thick sausage about 30cm long. Place two on each tray, spaced well apart as they will increase in size as they bake.
Bake for 25-30 minutes until the dough has risen and spread, and feels firm. It should still look pale. Remove from the oven and turn it down to 140C, and place the baked dough on a wire rack until cool enough to handle.
Use a bread knife to cut the dough on the diagonal into 1cm thick slices, then lay the slices flat on the baking sheets.
Bake for another 30 minutes, turning them over half way through, until dry and golden. Remove from the oven and tip out on to a wire rack to cool completely, then bundle up and gift wrap, or enjoy a few yourself with a coffee or glass of desert wine to dunk in.

laying slices of biscotti on a baking tray for the second bake

It’s turned out to be another “dynamic” Christmas party season, but regardless of whether and how your plans have changed, you should still be able to enjoy some canapés and drinks over the festive period – even if it is just at home with your nearest and dearest.   Whenever we serve canapés at an event, this one is always so popular, and the one that the most people ask me for the recipe for.  And, it’s so simple and quick to make, which means less time in the kitchen and more time enjoying those Christmas drinks.

smoked mackerel pate canapés


4 x smoked mackerel fillets

1 tbsp dijon

4 tbsp creme fraiche (sour cream or cream cheese instead)

Handful of dill, finely chopped

1 tbsp horseradish cream

Lemon zested and juiced

3 tbsp capers

Crusty bread to serve/pickled shallots


1. Remove skin from fillets and place them into a bowl.

2. Zest the lemon and then squeeze half the juice in. Save the other half to adjust seasoning later.

3. Add the rest of the ingredients. Mix together thoroughly with a fork try not to use a blender or food-processor as you’ll get a much better consistency by hand.

4. Taste, then add black pepper and more lemon juice if required.

5. Serve with pickled shallots and crusty bread. Perfect as a starter, light meal, or canapé!

smoked mackerel pate

Enjoy a Christmas party with a difference at Philleigh Way this year, spending some time together as a team socialising, cooking and eating, instead of just working. 

No set dates, no set menus, no set itineraries.  Let’s work out what works for you.

You can bring your team along to do a half day cookery course together, or let us do the cooking and simply book a long lunch with a menu of your choosing.  Or, combine the two in an afternoon of eating, drinking, demos and some hands on cooking all based around the chef’s table.

We can host you inside the cookery school or roll the canvas sides down on our outside cookery.  We can light up the woodfired oven and do a short pizza course and dinner for you all, or if there’s a cuisine that you’d all like to learn more about then we can build a bespoke Christmas party course around that – sushi, pasta, live-fire cooking, vegan food, baking; you name it, we can do it. 

We’ll create a comfortable environment for your team, feed and water them well, and ensure that you can all forget about work for a few hours and simply enjoy each others’ company.

Get in touch with your ideas, or to ask us for our ideas.  We can work to budgets, diaries and dietary requirements.

info@philleighway.co.uk or call 01872 580893

The Christmas and New Year Holidays are a period full of great food – with lots of eating up of leftovers in between and afterwards!  Last year I shared some delicious and different ways to use up cooked leftovers; this year, I’m going to share a recipe to use up leftover veg that maybe didn’t even make it on to the dining table in the first place: Brussel sprouts. I love sprouts… I once ate 132 in one sitting (true story).  If you do too and like a little spice, then try this recipe.

Brussel Sprouts and Christmas

Brussel sprouts are a type of cabbage (we eat the buds) and a Christmas staple, but they often divide opinion.  If you’ve bought in a load of sprouts but don’t know that you’re going to cook them all on Christmas Day, then why not try making kimchi with whatever you have left?

What is Kimchi?

Kimchi is a traditional Korean side dish of salted and fermented vegetables dating back two thousand years.  It’s most commonly made with one or a mix of cabbage, Korean radish, carrot and onion with a blend of seasoning.  Before refrigeration, it was the main way of preserving vegetables in Korea, where large earthenware jars were buried in the ground to prevent the kimchi from getting too cold in the winter and too warm in the summer.  While there are countless variations, it’s general a spicy and sour flavour, and is eaten as a condiment or side dish or added to stews.

Fermenting Food And Its Benefits

Some people shy away from the idea of eating fermented food, but lots of our everyday staples, such as bread, cheese, wine and tea are all made using fermentation.  In kimchi, the good bacteria that are found on the outside of vegetables are encouraged to grow, and in doing so they break down the natural sugars into lactic acid (creating kimchi’s tangy sour flavour).  

Good bacteria, known a ‘probiotics’, are good for our digestive health helping with the absorption of nutrients and contributing to the strength of our immune system.

Step One: Sterilising Your Jars

You only want GOOD bacteria to develop in your kimchi, so sterilize your jars first:

  • Wash your jars and lids in warm soapy water and leave to dry on a draining rack – don’t touch the insides!  You can dry the lids with a clean, dry, tea towel.
  • Place the jars and lids in a prehreated oven at 180C/160C fan/gas 4 for fifteen minutes. 
  • Remove, allow to cool, and use!



  • 1kg brussels sprouts, sliced or 1/4s depends if you like it chunky
  • 1 Daikon (oriental or winter radish), cut into strips or sliced
  • 1 Chinese cabbage, sliced
  • 2 heads garlic, cloves peeled
  • 1/2 cup Korean chilli flakes
  • 2 inches ginger, peeled sliced
  • 3 tablespoons white miso
  • 2 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • Fish sauce to taste


  • Place the shredded sprouts, daikon and Chinese cabbage in a bowl with a good handful of fine salt and mix well – don’t worry about the quantity because you’ll rinse a lot of it off afterwards. Squeeze it with your hands until some juice forms, then top it up with enough water to cover it. Weight it down with something heavy-ish like a sturdy pan. Cover and leave overnight.
  • Blend the garlic, ginger, miso, gochuiang, vinegar, chilli and splash of fish sauce into a blender.
  • Rinse the veg then mix with the garlic paste and pack into the jar, pressing it down firmly with your fist. I cover my ferments with a zip lock bag filled with water because it moulds to the shape of the ingredients and jar nicely, making sure it’s all submerged – a small dish or ramekin would be a non-plastic alternative.
  • Leave 4 days then taste… Adjust heat and fish sauce. Then after 10 days you’re ready to rock…

Something Different, And Suitably Distanced.

It’s not going to be a “normal” Christmas this year, and that means no work Christmas parties. Or does it? If you are a small business or a tight-knight team within a larger organisation and there are six of you or less, then why not mark Christmas and the end of a strange year with a course at Philleigh Way?

We can host your small-group socially distanced Christmas party in the cookery school or roll the canvas sides down on our outside cookery area, and run your session within government guidelines. We can light up the woodfired oven and do a short pizza course and dinner for you all, or if there’s a cuisine that you’d all like to learn more about then we can create a bespoke Christmas party course around that – sushi, pasta, woodfired cooking, vegan food, baking; you name it, we can do it.

woodfired pizza oven at Philleigh Way cookery school in cornwall

Take your pick from the following dates, or get in touch if there’s another date that works better for you and your colleagues and we can make that happen.

  • Wednesday 3rd November
  • Thursday 4th November
  • Wednesday 25th November
  • Thursday 26th November
  • Wednesday 9th December
  • Thursday 10th December
  • Wednesday 16th December
  • Thursday 17th December

Drop us a line on 01872 580893 or e-mail info@philleighway.co.uk and let’s hammer out some details, so we can make sure that you get to spend a bit of time together as a team socialising and not just working or staring at zoom meetings.

Festive entertaining doesn’t finish on Christmas Day; most of us have family and friends visiting through the Crimbo-limbo of “Betwixtmas” and through to New Years. If you’ve got leftovers from Christmas Day, you can easily use them to make light meal and “nibbles” options that your guests will love, without having to resort to cold meats and bubble and squeak. Here’s how, with our Christmas leftovers recipes for meat eaters, vegetarians and vegans:

boxing day turkey bhan mi

Boxing Day Bhan Mi (Meat)


  • 2 small baguettes
  • 50g pâté
  • ¼ cucumber, thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 140g cooked turkey sliced/shredded
  • 1 tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 red chilli, ½ finely chopped, ½ finely sliced
  • Sriracha
  • For the pickled slaw
  • 2 small carrots coarsely grated or julienne
  • ¼ tsp grated ginger
  • ½ tbsp rice vinegar
  • ½ tsp golden caster sugar


To make the pickled slaw, tip the carrots and cabbage into a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine the ginger, rice vinegar, sugar and a few pinches of salt. Pour over the vegetables and toss together. Set aside for at least 15 mins.

Halve the baguettes lengthways and spread the pâté over the bottom half. Top with the pickled slaw, cucumber and turkey. Mix the mayonnaise with the chopped chilli and dollop over the top.

Scatter over the mint leaves and sliced chilli. Sandwich together and dig in.

festive bar nuts

Festive Bar Nuts (Vegan Nibbles)


  • 500g nuts (cashews, pecans, peanuts, macadamia almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts and Brazil nuts)
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped rosemary
  • 1 tsps of sweet smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp dark muscavado sugar or 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF.

Place a medium pan on a medium heat, add the butter and sugar/honey and heat for 3-4 minutes until the butter has melted and stir to combine.

If using Brazil nuts, roughly chop some of them up into halves and quarters to make them more bite size.

Place all the nuts onto two large roasting trays, then carefully divide the melted butter and honey mix between the two, then scatter over the paprika and rosemary. Toss to coat all the nuts, then cook for 20-30 minutes, or until golden all over, carefully shaking the tray every 10-15 minutes to make sure they cook evenly.

Season with a little salt and leave to cool.

Leftover Root Veg Gnocchi (Vegetarian)


  • 400g parsnip peeled and cut into chunks or leftovers
  • 600g potatoes peeled and cut into chunks or leftovers
  • 60ml olive oil plus a drizzle to serve
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg (around 1 clove)
  • 100g ‘00’ strong white flour
  • 1 egg
  • ½ small pack thyme leaves picked, to serve
  • 30g walnuts toasted and chopped, to serve


If you’ve not got leftover roast root veg, then heat your oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Toss the parsnips and potatoes in 2 tbsp of the olive oil and tip into a roasting tin along with the garlic cloves. Roast for 40 mins or until the veg is completely soft. Remove from the oven and leave to cool a little. Or in a microwave heat up gently the leftovers and then mash, then add to a bowl along with the flour, egg & nutmeg. Begin to knead the dough mix until it becomes pliable.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface, cut into four chunks and roll each into a sausage about 35cm long and 2.5cm wide. Use the back of a table knife to cut each sausage into small pillow-shaped gnocchi, each around 2cm long.

Heat a frying pan with a tablespoon of rapeseed oil.

Add half the gnocchi and fry until lightly golden on each side, around 3-4 mins. Transfer them to a tray using a slotted spoon while you cook the second batch. When all the gnocchi are golden, return them all to the pan to warm through before dividing between four plates. Sprinkle over some black pepper, then top with the thyme leaves, toasted walnuts and a drizzle of olive oil, if you like.

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