Happy Christmas to all

Wishing you all peaceful and relaxing holidays.

In the photo: my father-in-law lighting brandy on top of a Christmas pudding. A delicious British Christmas tradition.

Melting Chocolate Puddings with Cherry Brandy


I’d like to share with you one of my favourite chocolate desserts of all time: a soft chocolate pudding with a warm and melting chocolate centre that oozes out as you put a spoon through it. It’s warm, it’s gooey, and incredibly chocolatey. In short, all that a good, nay perfect, chocolate dessert must be! (At least for me, of course.) When this is paired with some boozy cherry, life can only get better. Serve with some chilled single cream and enjoy!

Not only is this dessert wonderful in itself, but it also works well as a basis for other flavourings. This time I added the cherry brandy that my mum brought over from Croatia. You can add any brandy or liquor that you think would go well with chocolate. Cinnamon would also work, and I’ve been meaning to add cardamom powder, too.

I find I need to two things to get the melting effect. 1) Take it out of the oven earlier than what Delia says. This for me is after 10 min, she says 12. I have a Siemens fan oven, and did use 200C. 2) Don’t let it stand around for too long after baking because it continues cooking in the middle.

You may find that your oven works differently. Basically, if you don’t get the melting effect, try and reduce your baking time, e.g. try baking it in 9 or 10 min. You’ll just get more gooey stuff (which I personally love)! If you find it too goey, give it another minute or two in the oven.  Practice. All that can happen is that you get a tasty chocolate cake instead of the melting pudding, so no loss either way!

One other thing. It’s worth mentioning that these little dark beauties freeze well, so you can whip up some in advance and cook them after you serve your main course. Dinner party perfection!

 Melting Chocolate pudding

Melting Chocolate Puddings with

Cherry Brandy and Cream


SOURCE:  Galton Blackiston at Morston Hall Hotel in Norfolk, via Delia Smith. I got the recipe from her How to Cook Book Two, and adapted it.

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 20 min


CUISINE: British



100 g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken into pieces

100 g butter, diced

2 tbsp cherry brandy

55 g caster sugar

2 large eggs, plus 2 large egg yolks

1 tsp vanilla extract

30 g plain flour

Single cream, to serve


EQUIPMENT NOTE:  You will also need 4 mini pudding basins or ramekins, each with a capacity of 6 fl oz (175 ml), generously brushed with melted butter.


1. Melt the chocolate, either in the microwave or by placing it in a large heatproof bowl, which should be sitting over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water. I put it on for 1 min 30 s on 360 W, then another min, after which I added the butter and cherry brandy, and gave it another 1 min 30 s. Anyway you do it, it’s important to allow the chocolate and butter to melt slowly. When it’s done, give it a good stir until it’s smooth and glossy.

2. In the meanwhile, place the sugar, whole eggs, yolks and vanilla extract in a large mixing bowl (“place it on a tea towel to steady it,” says Delia, but I find I don’t need to), then whisk on a high speed with an electric hand whisk until the mixture has doubled in volume and became paler  – this will take between 5 and 10 minutes, depending on the power of your whisk. What you need to end up with is a thick, mousse-like mixture that, when you stop the motor and lift the whisk, leaves a trail like a piece of ribbon.

3. Now pour the chocolate mixture around the edge of the bowl (“it’s easier to fold it in from the edges”, says Delia) and then sift the flour over the mixture. Using a large metal spoon, carefully but thoroughly fold everything together. Again, Delia says: “Patience is needed here; don’t be tempted to hurry it, as careful folding and cutting movements are needed, and this will take 3-4 minutes.”

4. Now divide the mixture between the pudding basins or ramekins, filling them just below the top, and place them on a baking tray. The puddings can be made in advance, in which case you can cover them with clingfilm and keep in the fridge or freezer until you need them ( I often do this, as I find they freeze well).

5. When you’re ready to bake the puddings, pre-heat the oven to 200°C (gas mark 6, 400°F). Bake the puddings on the centre shelf of the oven for 13 minutes if they have been chilled first, but only 10 if not. After that time the puddings should have risen and feel slightly firm to the touch, although the insides will still be melting. (Delia gives her puddings 12 minutes, but I find 10 or 11 works well for me.) Remember they keep on cooking in their own heat, and the heat of the container, so don’t let them stand around too much otherwise you’ll loose all the gooey goodness which makes them so special. (Yes, I learnt the hard way.) If you’re cooking these puddings from frozen, give them about 15 minutes’ cooking time and allow them to stand for 2 minutes before turning out.

6. You can serve the puddings in the ramekins if that’s what you used, or invert them onto the plate. If you’re doing the latter, leave to stand for 1 minute before sliding a palette knife around each pudding and turning out on to individual serving plates. Serve absolutely immediately, with some chilled single cream to pour over. Enjoy!



Digg This

Celeriac soup

Eating seasonally, and especially shopping at my favourite farmers’ market, has opened up to me new horizons when it comes to varieties of fruit and veg available here in Britain. It would have been so easy sticking to my favourites. And oh so dull! I would have never fallen in love with kale, or got into the whole pumpkin thing. But I ventured out of my vegetable comfort zone and decided to challenge my tastes and explore the seasons. This is how I faced this delicious monster – the celeriac, or celery root (which is basically what it is). I don’t have a picture, but take a look here, or here and you’ll see what I mean. It certainly wouldn’t win the vegetable beauty contest, to put it charitably. Some say ‘ugly duckling of the vegetable world’, but it’s more of a Quasimodo of the vegetable world, if you ask me. Nevertheless, this hideous exterior hides delicately flavoured and silky interior very similar to fennel in flavour, but slightly nuttier. It can be eaten raw, roasted, mashed or turned into a soup. Its crunchy silky flesh is excellent in salads, for example. I even sautéed it with garlic and olive oil, and had it with pasta, sprinkled with some parmesan. Delicious, I tell you! But still, my favourite way so far is a celeriac soup. That’s actually how I had it one of the first times I tried it. It was in a lovely delicate soup that I’ve since wanted to recreate at home. And I did. Tonight. So here’s the recipe, and my entry for Eating with the Seasons: February.




 Celeriac Soup


 SOURCE:  inspired by a dish I had at a restaurant

PREPARATION TIME: about 10 – 15 min

COOKING TIME: about 20 min

CUISINE: British?

SERVES: 3 – 4



1 celeriac, peeled and chopped, weighing about 1 kg

chicken stock, enough to cover the celeriac

1 bay leaf

1 bouquet garni (or a few sprigs of thyme)

1 tsp olive oil

one tsp butter

a handful of almonds and hazelnuts

2 leeks, chopped

2 large cloves of garlic, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

150 ml of crème fraiche, or to taste

1/2 tsp chili powder, optional

a handful of grated parmesan

a pinch of nutmeg, optional



I. First, bring the celeriac to boil with the stock and the herbs. Cook until soft.

II. Meanwhile, heat the oil and butter in a pan, and add the nuts, garlic and leek. Sauté until the leeks are soft, and the nuts are starting to brown a bit. Remove from the heat when done.

III. Puree the celeriac and the leek mixture until silky and smooth. Add the chili powder and nutmeg, if using, and the crème fraiche. I’d start by adding a few tablespoons at a time and then tasting it to see what it’s like. Stop when you think it’s enough. I like it mildly sour from the crème fraiche, but still with the strong celeriac flavour.  Just before serving, mix in some grated parmesan and stir. Put a bit more on top, for a good measure, and enjoy with some lovely bread.



Other soup recipes at Maninas:

Creamy carrot soup with rose harissa

Dalmatian fish soup

Fragrant and aromatic salmon soup with noodles


Digg This

Test run: Smoked Haddock and Potato Bake

Let me warn you: thought tasty, this is a test recipe. I’m trying to recreate a wonderful dish we had at the restaurant at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool. As it stands, it’s tasty, but it’s not the dish we had in Liverpool. That’s why I’m putting it forward to you: asking for your judgement, and advice. What I’m looking for is a wonderfully creamy, slightly cheesy sauce, with soft pieces of smoked fish, a bit of peas, and leeks, topped with baby potatoes. The potatoes were quite long, so I think they might have been Charlotte potatoes. They were slightly browned on the top.

As I said, this recipe is not as good as it can be. So please take a minute to look at the recipe and the notes at the end of the recipe, and let me know if you have any suggestions on how to make it better. Much appreciated!


Smoked Haddock and Potato Bake


SOURCE: Reconstruction of a meal we had at the restaurant at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool



CUISINE: British

SERVES: 2 – 3



400 g baby new potatoes, sliced longitudinally



1 dessert spoon butter

1 medium leek

360 g smoked haddock

150 g peas

1 bay leaf

milk (enough to cover the fish)

freshly ground pepper


Cheese sauce

1 tbsp butter

1 tbsp flour

2 dl milk (can use the milk that the fish cooked in)

150 g cheddar cheese



I. Preparation

It’s worth to prepare everything in the beginning, because everything happens pretty quickly here.

II. Filling

1. Gently saute the leek in butter until soft. This will take about 5 minutes.

2. Add fish, peas, bay leaf and milk. Cover and bring to boil, then simmer gently until the fish is nearly cooked.

III. Cheese sauce

1. Mix the same amount of flour and butter together in a pan. Then, put the pan on the hob and stir until the butter is melted, creating a paste of flour and butter. (This way, it will not turn into a lumpy mess. Don’t worry, the flour won’t burn. Your pan is not hot enough yet, and when it does get hot, the butter will have melted and that will stop it from burning.)

2. Add milk, and let it heat. (I re-used the milk in which the fish cooked, which made for a fantastic cheese sauce!) Then, add the cheese, Keep stirring, and cook until you get the desired consistency. Mine was quite runny.

IV. Assembling

Put a row of sliced potatoes at the bottom of an ovenproof dish, and pour some cheese sauce over it. Put some filling over the potatoes, then another layer of potatoes, etc. until you’ve used up all the ingredients. Finish with a layer of potatoes, and pour the cheese sauce over it.

V. Serving suggestion

Serve with some steamed cauliflower, green beans or/and some crusty bread to mop up the juices.



Tasty, BUT. But that’s not IT. Definitely needs more work. See notes.



Not creamy enough. Maybe use a mixture of cream and cheese sauce, or cream only.

Fish dry. – Try and buy better fish, or/and cook it for less time. Since it will cook in the oven, it doesn’t need to be fully cooked before goes into the bake. I think.

Use less leek.

Use less peas.

Use less cheese.

Less liquid.

New baby potatoes are not the correct potatoes. Seek out Charlotte potatoes, and parboil them for a few minutes before assembling the bake.


Sunday Roast Special!

Let me tell you about George. George is a funky, chunky kind of guy. A guy every girl likes having around the house. Especially around the kitchen. Or in the kitchen! 😉 You see, our George makes one mean Sunday roast! Chicken is his speciality – succulent, delicious, with golden crispy skin. Simply to die for. Leaves us breathless every time. And very very happy.

And the best of all is – every girl/boy can have a George! You see, George is our – rotisserie! 😀

He he! I bet you all thought George is my new heartthrob! Well maybe he is… This is one hell of a roast we’re talking about here!

I’m giving you three recipes in one tonight, three recipes for fantastic British-style Sunday roasts: Chicken with tarragon, and Lamb with rosemary + gravy. The first roast is made with our George’s help, and the other in the oven. Actually, both can be successfully made in the oven, so don’t worry if you don’t have a George. The gravy recipe may not be traditional, but it’s definitely tasty!

Which one do I prefer? Oh no, don’t make me chooose….. I love both!



Recipe 1


Roast Chicken with Tarragon Rub


SOURCE: Our George’s Owner Manual



CUISINE: British

SERVES: 3 – 4



1 whole chicken  (ours was 1 kg)

2 -3 tsp dried tarragon

1- 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 – 2 tsp salt


1.  First, make a rub of equal quantities of dried tarragon, pepper and salt. Make about 2 – 3 tbsp in total. We went for extra super herby – delish!

   NOTE: It is suggested that you make 1 – 2 tbsp of rub per 500 g of meat.


2. Next rub the mixture into the chicken.

3. Then, put the chicken into the rotisserie, or onto a baking tray and into the oven.

4. How long you will roast it for depends on the size of your chicken. See below for suggestions.

  ROASTING TIMES: According to Delia, it’s 20 min per lb (450 g),   plus 10 –  20 min extra, at 190 C/Gas mark 5/375 F.


5. We did ours in George, so that made it really easy. We just shoved it in, and went off to do sth else. Minimum effort. That’s why we like our George! 😀 The only thing we did was to collect the juices at some point towards the end, which we used to make gravy!

6. When the chicken is done, take it out of the rotisserie/oven and leave for at least 15 min to stand before carving it. This is absolutely vital. This way, the juices will not evaporate as you cut the chicken, but they will stay inside, so your bird will remain juicy and succulent! While the chicken is roasting, you can make the gravy! See below for details.

Serve with roast potatoes and a few other vegetables (boiled broccoli, peas, carrots, corn, etc). Pour over some gravy. Take a forkful and put it in your mouth. Close your eyes and go mmmmmm! 🙂

Roast chicken



Recipe 2


Roast Lamb with Rosemary


SOURCE: My husband taught me this 🙂


COOKING TIME: 1 h 15 min min

CUISINE: British

SERVES: 3 – 4



1 kg lamb shoulder

a few sprigs of rosemary

freshly ground black pepper



1.  Preheat your oven to 190 C. Make incisions in the meat, and put pieces of rosemary in them. 

2. Wrap the lamb in aluminium foil and put on a roasting rack, placed in a roasting tray. This will keep the juices in the foil, and the meat will be lovely and tender.

3. Roast the meat 25 min per lb (454 g), plus 25 extra. In our case, that was 1 h 25 min. 15 minutes before the end of cooking, take out the lamb out of the oven. Carefully peel the foil, and let the juices out. Reserve the juices. You will need them to make gravy. Then, return the lamb to the oven, uncovered, so it browns nicely on the outside. You can whack the temperature up a bit now.

4. When the lamb is done, leave it to rest for 15 min before cutting. Meanwhile, make the gravy! 🙂





SOURCE: A friend



CUISINE: British

SERVES: 3 – 4





a glug of wine (red for the lamb, and white for the chicken)

meat juices from the roast

(if you don’t have enough juices, add some chicken/lamb/beef stock, too)


1.  Put the same amount of flour and butter together in a pan (make it non-stick, it will make your life easier).  

2. Put it on the hob and stir. The butter will start melting incorporating the flour into it, forming a thick past.

3. Slowly add other liquids, keep stirring!

4. Boil for a few minutes until the flour is cooked (you can’t taste it as much). Reduce to the pouring consistency. Serve warm.


For more British recipes on this blog, click here.


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