Jess Cantoni

Recipes, reviews & lifestyle

Thursday, 1 December 2016

How to Make Mincemeat | BLOGMAS DAY 2 2016

Mincemeat is so simple to make. End of. I really didn't believe it at first as I've always seen it as some sort of a hassle. Either that or I've thought, why not just buy it from the supermarket? Well the answer to that question is: everything tastes better when you make it yourself! The only faff is sterilising the jars, but that's pretty simple once you get the hang of it. 

This mincemeat recipe is traditional and fruity; full of cranberries, apple and ginger to add that extra boost of Christmassy flavour. Also a hint* of cointreau to give it a kick. 

*or maybe more than a hint... 

Firstly, here's how to sterilise your jars. You will need 3 Kilner jars like mine for this recipe. 

How to Sterilise your Jars
1. Pre-heat the oven to 100 degrees. Wash all jars and lids (apart from the seal) in some warm, soap water. 
2. Boil a small pot of water and add in your seal to sterilise for 10 minutes. 

3. Once the jars and lids are washed, place in the oven on a baking tray, for 15 minutes, or until dry. If you're not ready to use them, turn off the oven but keep them inside to stay warm.

Now onto the recipe!


1 Bramley apple, peeled and grated
450g mixed fruit with peel
150g dried cranberries
50g stem ginger, finely chopped + 2 tbsp syrup
75g Mixed peel
300g vegetarian suet
250g dark muscovado sugar
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon 
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 lemon, zest and juice
150ml Cointreau 


1. Sterilise your jars. Leave in oven to stay warm.

2. In a large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients, until the sugar looks like it has dissolved. 

3. Take the warm jars out of the oven, and the seal from the pot of water. Spoon into the jars, without leaving a gap and place on the seal and lid. You need to give it a few seconds to see if the seal has been made. You can tell if it's been made by pressing the top, if it clicks, you need to do it again. 

4. Store your jars in the fridge for 2 weeks, or 3 freeze for up to 3 months.

If you think you think the seal hasn't worked, take it off again and re-try. You need to make sure the lid is on securely for it to work. All the air needs to have been pushed out. If it doesn't work again, you will need to re-sterilise your jars and try again. 

Thank you for reading! This year I have taken on the challenge to do Blogmas, where I will be blogging everyday up until Christmas day. Follow me on Twitter @fessjarmer to keep up to date with my posts.

Keep an eye out for my next post on my favourite Bloggers and vloggers to watch this month! 

Please share this if you have enjoyed it! It would be much appreciated.


Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Buttery Rum Christmas Cake | BLOGMAS DAY 1 2016

It's the 1st of December and and Christmas is dawning upon us quicker than we like to believe! It's also the beginning of Blogmas! I'm super excited to be apart of it - i'm certainly challenging myself this year. Let's start it off with something that will help you prepare for Christmas day.

I know you probably have a million and one things to do, but perhaps one of those things is to finally let this be the year you make your own Christmas cake? 
If it's not, then maybe you can add it on to your list -to do? I recommend it, as this cake is worth it. It's buttery and laced with rum - like a hot, warm drink in cake form! 
You still have time to make this and feed it for a week and ice it before Christmas - and fear not - there will be a post going up later this week about how to ice your Christmas cake. 

Let this be the year you start a new tradition!

Bits and bobs needed:
20cm round, deep cake tin
Baking parchment

Warning - this recipe contains overnight prep.

225g unsalted butter, softened
225g light muscovado sugar
4 large eggs, beaten
225g plain flour
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cinammon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground coriander
1 small orange, zested
85g chopped walnuts

Fruit soaking ingredients
150ml cloudy apple juice
50g unsalted butter
2 tbsp maple syrup
5 tbsp dark rum
800g mixed dried fruit with peel
175g dried cranberries

Feeding the cake
2 tbsp dark rum
1 tbsp maple syrup


Overnight soaking prep

1. Pour the juice into a saucepan and simmer. Add the butter and let it melt. Take off heat and add rum and syrup.

2. Put the mixed fruit and cranberries into a large bowl and pour over the rum. Cover tightly with cling film and leave overnight to soak. 

The Cake

1. Pre-heat oven to 160 degrees/140 fan/gas mark 3. Grease and double line a 20cm round cake tin with baking parchment. 

How to double line a tin: 

1. Grease all around.
2. Draw around the bottom of your tin on the paper and cut out. Stick to the bottom of the pan.
3. Cut a long strip of baking parchment and stick around the sides - it doesn't matter if it's too high.
4. Grease on top of this layer of paper.
5. Do the same again, on top of this layer. Trim down any paper sticking up the sides.

2. Beat the butter and sugar together until smooth and creamy. Gradually add the beaten eggs. If the mix splits, add a tsp of flour and mix in. 

3. Sift in the flour and spices and fold in. Add the orange zest, chopped nuts, soaked fruit and any liquid from the soaking. Fold in.

4. Add the batter to the tin and level off. Make a dimple in the middle of the cake, using your finger. Bake for 1 hour and 30 minutes, then reduce your oven to 140/120/ gas 1 for 1 hour and 45 minutes. If it starts to brown quickly, add some foil on top to stop further browning. Keep checking with a skewer - if it comes out clean, it's ready. Cool on a wire rack. When warm, do the first feed...

5. Feeding the cake: poke the cake with a cocktail stick. Mix the rum and syrup, and pour slowly over the warm cake. Leave to cool and then store in a tin. 

6. Continuous feeding: The week after, remove the parchment and wrap in some clean parchment. Feed again. Continue doing this every week (no need to change the parchment again though).

Thank you for reading! This year I have taken on the challenge to do Blogmas, where I will be blogging everyday up until Christmas day. 
Follow me on Twitter @fessjarmer to keep up to date with my posts.

Keep an eye out for my next post on something that isn't all what it seems... all is revealed tomorrow. 

Please share this if you have enjoyed it! It would be much appreciated.


Sunday, 27 November 2016

Korean Fried Chicken

If you're going to be gorging on calorific foods at Christmas, why not add some more into the mix and try these super tasty Korean fried chicken wings?!

So what if it's unhealthy if it tastes good, right? Who's with me!?

These fried chicken wings are different in the way that the coating is made from potato starch and rice flour: two common ingredients in Asian cooking. This combination creates a crispy coating akin to a well-known joint.. K.F..what was it again??? Oh well, you don't need to know as these are JUST as good, and I also made my own Korean sweet chilli sauce, although I could have done with more (it was that good), so I recommend you double or triple my quantities. 

You could eat these when it's Chinese New Year as a Chinese alternative.. ? Just trying to think of excuses to get you to eat these, as you haaaaave to try them!! 

Oh and I also brined the chicken to give it that extra juicy flavour. You're welcome. 

Cook your way to food heaven...


1kg chicken wings
vegetable oil- enough for deep-frying
3 eggs, beaten


180g Potato starch 
60g sweet rice flour
80g self-raising flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/2 tbsp salt


3 Red chillies, trimmed and halved lengthways
12 garlic cloves, crushed
5cm piece of ginger, peeled and crushed
1 1/2 tbsp salt
125ml fish sauce


Vegetable oil
6 garlic cloves, crushed
30g tomato ketchup
30g Gochujang (Korean red chilli paste - see below)
60ml maple syrup
1 1/2 tbsp Gochugaru (Korean red chilli powder - see below)
1 1/2 tbsp cider vinegar


I found the Gochujang paste on the sous chef website £2.50 for the classic style (the one I bought)

I also found the gochugaru powder on the Sous Chef website. £4.00 for 227g.


BRINING THE CHICKEN (One hour pre-prep)

1. Get all the brining ingredients and mix them altogether in a bowl and add 1 litre of water. Place the chicken wings in the bowl and chill for 1 hour.

2. Drain the chicken wings and pat dry with kitchen towels. 


1. Heat 1/2 tbsp oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the garlic and fry for 2-3 minutes until soft. 

2. Add the rest of the ingredients and cook for 5 minutes, until it begins to bubble. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. If there's extra (only if you double or triple this recipe) pour into a sterilised jar and store in the fridge for up to a month.


1. Fill a large pot with the oil(third full), ready for frying. Heat to 180 degrees (use a thermometer) or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. 

2. Place the chicken into a large bowl and pour in the beaten egg. Rub in using your hands. 

3. In another bowl, mix the coating ingredients together and then pour over the chicken; massage in using your hands. Make sure the chicken is evenly coated.

4. I recommend doing this part in stages of maybe 3 or 4 wings at a time: lower into the hot oil and fry for 4 minutes until you begin to see colour. Lift out and drain on a plate with kitchen towels.

5. Once you have done this for all the wings, make sure the oil is back up to temperature, and repeat by frying again, until golden. 

6. Drain on more towels and once left to rest for a minute, brush with the chilli sauce. Serve. 


Saturday, 26 November 2016

Pear and Cardamon Loaf Cake

There are a lot of fruity, gingerbread-y, and spicy flavours floating around the internet at the moment, which has probably got something to do with the fact that Christmas is coming up... This recipe does fit into the spice and wintery category, but it's slightly different as it's spiced with cardamon; a seed that is usually seem in Indian cooking. I've paired these pungent seeds with some sweet conference pears - the perfect match. 

This cake will have you coming back for more - my Husband was a big fan of this one, which is rare as he's not a cake fan(I know...!)


175g unsalted butter, softened + extra for greasing
2 tsp cardamon pods
175g light brown soft sugar
3 conference pears
1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
A handful of flaked almonds
Icing sugar for dusting


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees/ 160 fan/ gas mark 4. Grease a 900g loaf tin. Butter the insides of the tin and pour in some flour - tip flour around to the edges and then pour out, so the tin is covered with flour inside.

2. In a pestle and mortar, crush the cardamon seeds and discard the pods. Peel and cut the pears lengthways. 

3. Melt 25g of the butter in a pan and add 25g of the sugar - heat until bubbling. Add the pears and cook for 5 minutes until soft, turning often. Remove pears but leave the butter in the pan. 

4. Pour the melted butter from the pan and into a bowl. Add the cardamon, lemon zest and remaining sugar and butter. Beat until smooth and then gradually add in the eggs. Add the flour and baking powder, folding in carefully until well-combined. 

5. Chop half of the pears into small pieces and add into the mix. Stir in. Pour the mix into the tin and smooth the top.

6. Top the cake with the remaining pears and then scatter the almonds. Bake for 50 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean. Cover with foil halfway through if the cake begins to get too dark. 

7. Cool in tin for a few minutes and then on a wire rack. Once cold, dust on some icing sugar to give a nice finish. 


Sunday, 20 November 2016

Learning with Larousse: Aboukir Cake?

I'm currently sat on my sofa and my feet feel like they're about to freeze off! The weather has become a lot colder these past few days, and i'm starting to think that I need our central heating on in the day now too. Anyways...

This cake is a bit of a strange one (what a way to persuade you to make it!) but I'm being honest. It's one that perhaps needs a bit of development, hence the name having a '?'.

Aboukir cake is meant to be a French dessert make with sponge cake in a charlotte mould, topped with coffee fondant and filled with chestnut cream. I have changed it slightly as I decided to fill and top mine with cream as to to be honest, I thought it would look prettier. I tried to research about this cake but there's little to be found on it on the interwebs. No recipe to follow; nothing! 
So, for the sponge I used a normal sponge cake recipe. It was the cream that ended up being a bit of a faff. It's really hard to get chestnut puree to actually become thinner and fold into cream. 

Despite this, I think this aboukir cake (mark I) is still tasty and is perfect for the season as chestnuts are one of the main features. 

125g unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
125g self-raising flour
300ml whipping cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
150g sweetened chestnut puree
Golden stars as decoration (I found mine at Sainsbury's)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees/160 fan. Grease a 19cm Charlotte mould and pour in a small handful of flour. Shake it around the pan so it sticks on all the sides, and the pour the excess out.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and then gradually beat in the eggs.

3. Sift in the flour and fold in with a spoon. The mixture should be of dropping consistency. 

4. Pour into the mould and level off with a spatula. Bake in the oven for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean. All ovens vary. 

5. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out to cool completely on a wire rack. Slice the cake in half horizontally.

6. Once the cake has cooled, start to make the cream. Beat the chestnut puree (leaving 20g aside) until smooth. Whisk the cream until it reaches medium peak, and then add in the puree and mix in. Be careful at this point, as you don't want the cream to become over-whipped (this almost happened to me). There may be some lumps in the cream, but don't worry about - it gives the cake more character!

7. Spread a thin layer of the leftover puree on the cake and then top with a layer of cream.

8. Sandwich the two pieces of cake together and begin to roughly smooth the cream around the outside and on top of the cake. It doesn't matter if there's sponge showing, as this cake has been given the 'naked', rustic look.

9. Sprinkle with golden stars and then serve! Eat on the same day as the cream will start to go a bit weird looking. 

Have you ever made an Aboukir cake before? If so, please enlighten me as to the proper way to make it!


Friday, 18 November 2016

Rustic Vegetable and Guinea Fowl Soup

This is the type of soup that you want to come home to on a winters eve. It's healthy, it's not too laborious, and it uses leftovers from my roasted guinea fowl recipe from last week - so an opportunity for 2 meals with one bird! 

Filled with superfood kale, onions, carrots, courgette and cauliflower, you're surely getting your five-a-day. Bonus!

It's obviously a very broth-y soup, but I love my soups like this. I'm not a massive fan of thick, pureed soups. 

Like I said, it also doesn't take too long to cook. I mean, I managed to make this after work, after a 40 minute commute on the train, so you can too!

Let's get down to the important stuff...

Serves 4

1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 litres of vegetable bouillon
1 large onion, chopped
2 carrot,chopped
2 celery sticks, chopped
50g dried red lentils
2 tbsp tomato puree
A handful of chopped fresh thyme
150g cauliflower florets, chopped
1 courgette, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 large handfuls of kale
1 tbsp basil, chopped
Leftover guinea fowl meat


1. Heat the oil in a large pot with a lid and fry the onions, carrots and celery for 10 minutes.

2. Stir in the lentils and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Pour in the stock, tomato puree and thyme. Stir and season. Add the cauliflower, courgette and garlic and bring to a boil. Simmer for 15 minutes.

4. Add the guinea fowl meat and cook for a further 5 minutes.

5. Add the kale and basil, and cook for 5 minutes until all veg are tender. Season and serve.

What do you prefer: thick, pureed soups or broth soups with pieces of meat/vegetables?


Thursday, 17 November 2016

Crispy, Breaded Halloumi + Sweet Potato Fries

This dinner is a real treat. It's also a great vegetarian mid-week meal option; the halloumi is a wonderful meat alternative as it has a similar meaty texture and is also very filling.
The addition of the fried egg is very much needed - it the creaminess of the yolk works well with the crispy halloumi and the sweetness of the fries (omg I could eat a mountain of these!)

It's also a really quick meal - don't let the whole breading process put you off; it takes less than 5 minutes to do prepare. 
I would say the whole dinner takes about 40 mins with preparation included. 

You'll also see in the picture that I clearly couldn't help myself, as I have taken a bite out of one of the halloumi slices! 

Serves 2
3 large eggs
A small bowlful of plain flour
50g of panko breadcrumns
1 block of halloumi
2 sweet potatoes
Olive oil for drizzling


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Cut the potatoes into wedges. Place in a baking trap, drizzle with oil and roast for 25 minutes, turning every so often.

2. Beat 1 egg and pour into a bowl. Pour the breadcrumbs also into a bowl.

3. Slice your halloumi into thick slices (you should get about 7). 

4. Dip the halloumi slices into the flour, then the egg and then the breadcrumbs, ensuring to coat evenly. 

5. When the fries have about 5 minutes left, heat a small amount of oil in a frying pan and fry the halloumi slices for about 3 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve on the plates.

6 In the last minute, in the same pan, fry the 2 eggs and serve next to the halloumi, along with the fries. Serve and enjoy!

How do you like your halloumi? What do you pair yours with?

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