thanks oh thanks oh thanks

Yes, I'm English and live in London... but I'm also in love with food, and I grew up in the States. Therefore I love Thanksgiving! It is a big, wonderful excuse to gather together with friends, force yourself to feel grateful for things, and eat stuff that is not at all savoury enough to be served as a main course.  My brother Xander or I often host a big get together, but this year I was asked to do a Thanksgiving pop up at the local pub by friends who run the E17 Pop Up Project. Kind of scary but a chance to learn some new cooking skills and get a bit of catering experience. I roped Xander in to help, and his wife Zara for decorating back-up, and we set about prepping Thanksgiving for FORTY TWO!


I have never been particularly keen on cooking turkey. They are MASSIVE! They take up entire ovens and never seem to cook properly and often end up dry and are regularly a huge disappointment. I had to find a way not to disappoint my 42 paying customers, though, and after extensive turkey research I found the most amazing recipe. I will never cook turkey another way again. It came out absolutely perfect, moist and scrumptious - and I don't even like turkey, as a general rule. Just in time for Christmas I've copied it out below. Seriously it's nuts how good - and easy - this is...

Malt-Beer-Brined Turkey with Malt Glaze

original recipe from

160ml barley malt syrup (can substitute black treacle or molasses)
60ml malt vinegar
6 fresh sage sprigs
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tbsp unsalted butter

4.5 litres water
400g coarse sea salt
3 x 340ml bottles/cans of stout 
1.5 cups barley malt syrup (can substitute black treacle or molasses)

This recipe will give you enough for a 14-16lb turkey/8-10 servings. Multiplying it for more was simple. Also we prepared two giant turkey crowns, not a whole turkey, but I can't see it making much difference.

Brining the turkey helps to infuse juiciness - there is a full on technical explanation of the whys here - and is crucial to the success of this recipe. I am never not brining a turkey again! You need to  brine the turkey for about 16-18 hours so start the day before. Pour the water into a non-reactive pot. Add the salt and stir to dissolve, then add the beer and malt syrup. The original recipe calls for you to then place two oven bags (one inside the other) into a large bowl, rinse the turkey inside and out, place in the bags (in the bowl) breast side down and pour in the brine. We had so much turkey I just brined it in one immense pot. Either way, chill the turkey in the brine for the aforementioned 16-18 hours. I chucked in some thyme sprigs for kicks, as I rather over-bought it. After brining dry the turkey and, if possible, return to the fridge to further air dry for an hour or so. 

Brining the night away

Brining the night away

You can make the glaze in advance too. Bring the malt syrup, vinegar, herbs and pepper to boil in a small saucepan. Stir occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer until the glaze coats the back of a spoon (5ish minutes). Mix in the butter. 

Cook your turkey at 170C for 20 mins/454g plus 20 additional mins. Add a couple of cups of water to the pan and keep topping it up if it dries out. For gravy purposes it is a good idea to add some celery, onion and garlic to roast with the turkey, but actually I didn't get round to it and the gravy was awesome regardless. Leave the turkey to cook for a couple of hours before opening the oven and brushing with the glaze. After that continue to brush with glaze every 20 mins until cooked. Remove the bird an hour before serving (ideally) and cover with foil to rest the meat. For gravy I poured the sauces from the roasting tin into a jug, separated the fat and returned it to the tin on the hob, added a handful of flour and made a roux, then slowly added the reserved juices plus about a bottle of red wine. it was DELICIOUS and took about five minutes... 

A big shout out to Smitten Kitchen whose faultless recipes I relied upon for sweet potato biscuits (which were un-be-lievable), the best homemade pumpkin pie I've ever tasted, and the best excuse to finally attempt homemade marshmallows - s'more pie. IT WAS EPIC. And it turns out marshmallows are not that difficult to make! An extra shout out to my brother, who lugged big tins of pumpkin and bottles of corn syrup over from a trip to New York so we could be as sickly sweet as we could. 

Now I never want to see another orange food again. Until next November, maybe...

leafy goodness

So pleased with how my Thanksgiving decorations have turned out... I've made a zillion chains for our pop up dinner. I drew a maple leaf onto some foam board and then cut out about 20 at a time from Pablo's IKEA drawing paper roll. After sewing together 40 per chain, I folded them back into a stack and dipped them in orange, pink, brown and green inks and popped them on the radiator to dry. So quick! What to do with them for the rest of the year...


Excuse for a party at Edie's...

sunday sunday

Overjoyed to be invited to a Mexican birthday brunch today, and commissioned to provide the cake! I spent the week constructing a rad sugar skull to go on top (another red velvet cake was requested). Felix & Catherine (the birthday girl) live in a big warehouse apartment built for parties, and had made a giant pot of hot chilli for us all. Pablo got stuck into the pinatas (multiple!) and thought all his Christmases had come at once. 

A highlight was Katie D's incredible margarita meringue cake, which I'm going to try and beg the recipe for. Watch this space...


Why is everyone born in October? The obvious answer is because we are all AWESOME, but either way I am struggling to cope with the amount of celebrating going on. It's just not possible to ever catch up on the sleep lost to a night of excessive prosecco and destroying Heart songs at Karaoke, all for the worthy cause of a birthday or ten. And then there are the cakes to be baked, decorations to do, gifts to forget, heart-to-hearts to cringe over the next day... My super soul sister Antonia's big fat 30th was particularly unmissable and especially messy. The theme was Brazil & samba and gorgeous Chris turned up topless and painted gold, there were lots of feathered headdresses and tons of lovely, loved up friends who are more like family. I made a giant red velvet two tier megacake topped with a feathered Carnivalesque Ryan Gosling (obvs), and many, many tassels and banners and sparkly things! This one was just about worth the suffering...

Happy birthday edie

Headed down to Countryside Live for some sheep shearing, beehive-gazing, falconry, ferret-racing, bat-watching and candyfloss to celebrate Edie's 3rd! Then back to hers for a proper pink fairy princess cake and prosecco.

Pablo had spent the morning insisting on making her some birthday cupcakes, and flicking through his favourite cupcake book to choose which. Vanilla with chocolate icing and pink sprinkles won.