Heather's Boutique, picture from Getty Images

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Happy Christmas

I'm very pleased to see that my ideas are helping you with your Christmas shopping.

One reader emailed me to say that he has enjoyed his wife running round the bedroom in pink frilly knickers for many years. However, is there anywhere he could purchase a pair with penguins on them, to remind his wife of their honeymoon in the South Pole?

How sweet and romantic, a little too much information for my liking Grandad, but all readers welcome here, even family.

Anyway back to the second most important thing on Christmas Day, roast potatoes.

Like most women there is nothing I enjoy more than slaving over a hot stove all day, only for everything I have lovingly prepared to be troughed down in about 2 minutes 50 seconds.

This year my Uncle Chav is hoping to beat that astounding time and actually fit himself with a nosebag.

"It's all food to me" he chortles, which any cook will tell you is a compliment indeed.

Crunchy Roast Potatoes

Serves 8
  • 1 kg (4 lb) potatoes
  • 6 tablespoons of fat, can be goose fat, or a 50/50 mix of sunflower and walnut oil. Walnut oil adds a nice nutty flavour.
  • 2 teaspoons of "Season All" by Schwartz, available from supermarkets in the herbs and spices area.
  • Pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of Cornmeal/Polenta. Available from supermarkets in packets near the pasta or flour section. Looks like a coarser yellow flour. You don't want the wet variety of polenta also sold in packets.
  • 2 tablespoons of flour.
Roast potatoes take about an hour in the oven at a high temperature. If you have a double oven use it, as this temperature is too hot for the turkey and will dry it out. Failing that you will have to allow longer for the potatoes to cook.
  • Pre heat the oven to 220 C (425 F Gas mark 7)
  • Peel and chop up the potatoes into chunks.
  • Put the fat in an oven proof dish, you may need 2. Do not forget to pre heat the fat it needs to be very hot for roast potatoes.
  • Steam potatoes for about 7 minutes, I have found this holds in more flavour than boiling them to death. If you don't have a steamer, boil potatoes for 5 mins.
  • Whilst waiting for them to steam. In a large bowl mix together the "Season All," flour, pepper and cornmeal/polenta.
  • When they are steamed, put the potatoes into another bowl. Sprinkle on the dry mixture using a large spoon to cover them. You may need to do this in a couple of batches. Try and ensure they are all evenly coated. The cornmeal will add a lovely crunchiness to your pots. All the other stuff just gives them a wonderful flavour.
  • Take out the roasting dish with the fat in it.
  • Carefully put the potatoes into the fat, watch for splashes obviously extremely hot. Potatoes should start sizzling when you put them in.
  • Return your pots to the oven.
  • Turn them over and spoon a bit of their fat over, this will get them nice and golden.
They should take between 50 to 60 mins, depending on how golden you like them. Oven temperatures do vary so keep an eye on them.

Once the potatoes are ready you need to eat them as they don't keep well. So if you haven't quite got the rest of the meal ready, remember that you can always turn the temperature for the pots down a bit to slow the cooking, then boost it up last minute.

They are absolutely delicious and I have already had loads of positive feedback about this recipe.

By pure chance I happened to be in Petrus for a slap up meal. During dinner I had the good fortune to meet the lovely charming head chef, Marcus Wareing. Always keen to swap recipes with a fellow cook, I offered to show him my roast potato recipe.

He listened to me without taking notes. Then in return gave me a tour of his kitchen, and offered to show me a new exciting way of washing up and mopping floors. I politely declined of course, but offered to help taste test chocolate petit fours.

Waving goodbye and thank you, I assured him I would be returning to his gastronomic heaven along with my darling record breaking Uncle.

Everyone have an amazing Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Lots of love Heather and the bears xx

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas for her

Women are so easy to buy for, perfume chocolates etc. But here's some help with the trickiest of all.


Make sure you get the right size. If you're "generous"with your sizing and buy say a size 14 when she's really a size 12. She'll think, you think she's fat. Then you'll be spending all evening trying to convince her that she's not. Instead of the other thing you wanted to do, (the washing up).

Also make sure it's doesn't look too cheap and tacky. She could take it back to the shop and exchange it for something sensible. Remember if you bought it from Marks and Spencers that could mean she trades your sexy underwear for a non stick frying pan and a prawn sandwich.

Good places to shop are

Marks and Spencer
Figleaves - the selection is a bit overwhelming, good brands are Aubade and Lejaby.

For larger sizes Bravissimo

Get her correct size by checking the label of her bra, or asking her friend.

My next post will be a failsafe recipe for the most important thing on Christmas day, apart from presents obviously, Roast Potatoes. Also a ridiculously festive twee photo of Grizzle and Fluffy.

Heather x

Monday, December 04, 2006

Christmas for him

Thank you for all your kind words of encouragement regarding my shopping problem. As I mentioned I had a very intensive workshop with Marks and Spencer at the weekend.

They taught me a brilliant new technique that most of us can easily put into practice. Take an item that you really love and purchase lots of them in different colours, genius.

M & S were so generous they even suggested that I could help myself to free water from the water fountain. They also offered me a wide selection of sandwiches and cakes. So after a ham roll and a small donation of £3.95 towards the cost of the ingredients, packaging, staff, shopfittings and their new Christmas advert, I was feeling much better.

Anyway with that in mind, here are a few ideas for Christmas presents for the man in your life.

A Book - "Girl with a one Track Mind" by Abby Lee.

Feisty Abby tells us all about her adventures month by month.

Beautifully written through the seasons and paying particular attention to the spring time mating season. Don't miss her Top 10 winter warmers.

Abby has also been on the BBC Radio 4 woman's hour, so she is nice and polite. This book is probably a good gift for your grandad, dad or brother if they like nature. Take a look at her popular blog.

Correction: This gift is only suitable for your boyfriend.

A Football shirt

We all know how much men love their football, unless of course they like rugby or cricket.

But what better way to say "Happy Christmas darling, thank you for doing the washing up" than giving him his favourite team's shirt?

Please note girls that my earlier point about buying things that you like in every colour, does not apply to this. Even if his team play in something woeful like red and blue, remember, football is never about style.

If you are a little embarrassed about buying a football shirt in broad daylight, try alternatives.

Look for an old strip from the years when his team were really good. Be understanding, in some cases this could be before David Beckham was invented or the wheel.

Just remember....

Scrawny old football shirt = A "fashionable" vintage gift from ebay.

I hope you like my ideas, and are looking forward to Christmas.

Heather x