Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Delightful Christmas Carols

Carols by the Tree
Dates: From Monday 7th - 21st December
Times: evenings
Ages: all the family
Price: Free

Join in the crowds around the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree from nightfall every day from the 7th singing their heart out to all the old favourites. It'll warm the cockles for sure.

Venue Details:

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar SquareWC2N 5DN
Website: www.london.gov.uk/mayor/trafalgar_square/index.jsp

Christmas Carols at London Zoo
Dates: Wednesday 9th December
Times: 5.30-7.30pm
Ages: all the family
Price: Adult: £14. Children £10, under 3s free

Lull the lions to sleep with Oh Little Town of Bethlehem at the ever-popular Carols in the Zoo. Mince pies, mulled wine, hot chocolate and the New London Children's Choir will make this Carol concert pretty special. Book tickets now.

Venue Details:

London Zoo
Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY
Tel: 020 7722 3333
Website: www.londonzoo.co.uk

Hampton Court Carols
Dates: Sunday 20th December
Times: 6pm
Ages: all the family
Price: £3.50 for kids and £7 for adults

Join in the crowds singing in the palace's courtyard. Everyone gets their own song sheet. Wrap up warm and bring a torch. There will be a silver band and much festive merriment to get your Christmas week off with a bang. To book tickets call 0844 482 7795

Venue Details:

Hampton Court Palace
Surrey, England KT8 9AU
Tel: 0870 7515175 (general info); 0870 753 7777 (advance booking)
Website: www.hrp.org.uk

Christmas at the Horniman Museum
Dates: Sunday 13th December
Times: carols at 5pm, festive fun from 3pm
Ages: all the family
Price: Free

Roasted chesnuts, toy stalls and a Santa's grotto will keep the little ones entertained and there will be wonderful Christmas carols with the English Baroque Choir and the Crystal Palace Band.
Spirits don't get more festive than this.

Venue Details:

Horniman Museum
100 London Road, SE23 3PQ
Tel: 020 8699 1872
Website: www.horniman.ac.uk

Monday, December 7, 2009


...from SKYE GYNGELL, Petersham Nurseries Café

I love Brussels sprouts, but not when they are overcooked, soggy and bitter. They should have a slight bite and a vibrant colour.

Cook them simply by cutting a little cross in the base, removing any outer leaves that are bruised or damaged and putting them into boiling, well-salted water for 7 minutes.

Drain and refresh under the cold tap, then warm them through in a pan with a little unsalted butter, a good pinch of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. I also like a purée of sprouts with turkey or goose simply blitz cooked sprouts with a knob of butter and some crème fraîche and season well.

Ro’s Spicy Meatball Spaghetti

Serves 4 castaways, preparation time less than 30 mins, cooking time c.20 minutes


  • 2 x 400g/14oz cans tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 500g/1lb 2oz pork mince
  • 90g/3oz streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 300g/10½oz dried spaghetti

Heat a frying pan when hot add the tomatoes and olive oil and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the garlic, chilli and half of the basil and cook for 10 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a little sugar.

Place the pork mince, bacon, thyme and parsley into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the mixture into 16 and shape each portion into a small ball.

Place the meatballs into the tomato sauce and simmer for 5-8 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions.

Drain the spaghetti, then add to the tomato and meatball sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the remaining basil.

Ro’s Rock Pool Scallops with Chorizo

Serves 8 as a starter. Preparation time less than 20 minutes.

• 110g/4oz chorizo sausage
• 400g/1lb small scallops (or larger ones, halved across the middle), removed from their shells
• Juice of half a lemon
• 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• Slice the chorizo into rounds no more than 1cm thick.

Place a pan over a medium heat and fry the chorizo (without adding any oil, as the chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil) for about two minutes, or until crisp on both sides.

Remove the chorizo from the pan and transfer to a bowl. In the same pan, fry the scallops in the oil left by the chorizo for about a minute on each side.

Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let it bubble for a few seconds.

To serve, place the chorizo and scallops onto a serving plate and sprinkle over the parsley. Serves eight as a starter with a few salad leaves.

Getting Tacky... from Stephen

Could I please remind everyone that if you wish to put up posters around the building would you please use BLUE TAC rather than sellotape, available either from myself or ERM.   

Sellotape makes unsightly marks on the lift or even worse removes the paint from the walls!

Thank you!!

Like Batter in your Beer? by Jacqueline

A great new restaurant opened last week - Fish Kitchen, 170 Upper Richmond Road Sheen (020) 8878 1040. Part of the small chain owned by celebrity restaurateur, Tony Allan who has restaurants in Kingston and Borough Market, selling excellent fish and chips (for aficionados - the batter is beer based and made twice a day) for around £10.00, they also have posher nosh for up to £18.00 per dish. All fish and seafood is fresh and from sustainable sources. There's a small wine and pudding menu too. Buzzy atmosphere, and reasonably quick service (I went on the first night when they we cutting their teeth). A great alternative to your standard fare!

Ro's Banana-berry Crème Brulee

Serves 4 - preparation time less than 20 mins, cooking time c.1 hour


  • 250ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large banana, sliced thinly
  • small punnet raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
  • Preheat oven to 140C/285F/Gas 1.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling and turn off the heat.

Beat the egg yolks and half the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale.

Then slowly add small amounts of the warm milk, stirring occasionally, until all is incorporated.

Divide the banana and berries between four ramekin dishes, reserving 12 slices of banana and a few berries for garnish.

Pour the custard over the fruit and place in a deep-sized roasting tin, then add water to roughly halfway up the sides of each ramekin.

Bake for around an hour until just set with a golden top. Remove from the baking tray and allow to cool. When cool enough, transfer to the fridge until chilled through.

When ready to serve, top each dish with three slices of banana and then the remaining sugar. Melt the sugar under a hot grill or with a cook's blowtorch, leave to set for a few minutes then garnish with remaining berries and serve.

Anna's Chorizo Pasta at the Oasis

I ripped this recipe out of the London Paper one day and just love it. It’s very easy, and particularly useful if you forget you’ve invited friends round for a weeknight supper and have to grab ingredients quickly at the M&S at the station.

Serves 4 - ready in 10-15 minutes.


  • Enough penne pasta for 4 people
  • Half a large chorizo sausage or all of a small one, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes, havled
  • 2-3 tbsp of pesto OR tapernade - whichever you prefer
  • 1 bag of washed rocket - these are usually fairly small which is perfect
  • Parmesan and black olives to garnish

Put the penne on to boil in a large saucepan
. Fry the sliced chorizo in a non-stick saucepan on a low-medium heat so it cooks in its own oil, turning when slightly crisp on one side. When the chorizo is cooked, set aside and throw in the halved cherry tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar to the pan so they cook in the flavoured oil. Keep on a medium/low heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the saucepan. Then stir in the chorizo and tomatoes, quickly followed by the pesto or tapernade.

Next stir in your rocket, which will start to wilt, and you’re ready to serve onto plates, garnishing with plenty of parmesan and a few black olives