So Breast Cancer Awareness Month is on again and the time is right to celebrate the wonderful strong women who suffer through breast cancer, some to survive and sadly some not.

I have some experience of both sides of this coin with a mother in law who is a breast cancer survivor and a mother who was not. The three years that my mother fought her cancer were some of the most astonishing of my life, once the initial shock and horror had diminished what I saw was an incredibly strong woman with an enormous love of life. Through her treatment I had the opportunity to meet many cancer patients and cancer survivors and a recurring theme became obvious, that being unbelievable strength and as the French say “Joie de Vivre”.

One little story for you, this happened early in my mothers’ cancer journey, I was waiting to take her home after a treatment and had an hour to kill, so I wandered into the Marie Curie centre in the hospital in Edinburgh. I must have been looking a bit lost as I was approached by an old lady to see if I was OK. She had realised straight away that I was a cancer patient relative that was struggling to find perspective; she knew instinctively that I wandered in to find answers to impossible questions.

“You don’t know what to do, do you?” I must have nodded.

“Let me put it this way, if you mother wants to strip naked and run down Princes Street your job is not to stop her or strip down and join in but to hold her clothes and cheer her every step of the way. This is her journey and you’re a passenger”

That wonderful cancer survivor started me on a three-year journey that certainly had its low points but on the whole the tears were of joy and laughter.

To all those that are on their own personal journey, good luck, and to the passengers, make sure you enjoy the ride and celebrate everything that you can. To that end this weeks recipe is one that my mother loved because it is fun, a little childish and with the Pink Champagne, just a little bit naughty.

You’ll notice that the recipe doesn’t use the full bottle of pink champagne, use the rest to toast the incredible women (and men) who confront their journey through Breast Cancer with such fortitude, and cheer them every single step of the way.

Sparkling Berry Fruit Jelly

Who doesn’t love jelly? In this case a fruity and alcoholic adult version!

Serves 8

425ml Pink Champagne

6 leaves gelatine

50g caster sugar

1 tablespoon fresh lime juice

350g strawberries, hulled and halved

225g fresh raspberries

200g fresh blueberries

2 x 900g loaf tins (one to be used as a weight)

  1. Line one loaf tin with Glad Wrap.
  2. Mix fruits gently together in a large bowl.
  3. Soak gelatine sheets in water until soft.
  4. Heat half the wine till it begins to simmer, then whisk sugar into it.
  5. Squeeze out gelatine and whisk into wine mix until dissolved.
  6. Add remaining wine and lime juice, pour liquid into a jug and allow to cool.
  7. Meanwhile, lay mixed fruit into lined loaf tin, arranging bottom layer decoratively as this will be the top when turned out.
  8. Pour all but 150ml of the liquid over the fruit.
  9. Lay a sheet of Glad Wrap over the tin, place the other loaf tin directly on top, then weigh down with heavy tins and refrigerate for about 1 hour until set.
  10. Reheat remaining 150ml wine mixture and pour over surface of the jelly.
  11. Re-cover with Glad Wrap and refrigerate overnight until set firm.
  12. Turn out by dipping tin in hot water and inverting over a plate.
  13. Cut into slices with a sharp knife dipped into hot water. Serve with cream, yoghurt or fruit coulis.

The pink Champagne that I’ve used here is the Little Rosie from Mills Reef, that cheeky little number that is just itching to be quaffed.

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With the Rugby World Cup rapidly progressing into the later stages, I thought I’d share what we do as a family on Test Match nights. Burgers in front of the TV while the All Blacks chase the dream.

Yes I know what you’re thinking, burgers are fast food and what is he going there for? Well it’s simple really they taste great and are a load of fun. In some ways this is the problem with modern food, the fast food industry gets hold of a good idea and then cheapens it to the point of extinction. Where the reality is that, made well, burgers are really good for you, especially if you sneakily pack as much vegetable content into them as you can get away with. It’s all about knowing what’s in you’re food, especially the fun food.

As a chef I spend most of my time trying to dream up recipes using the most elaborate ingredients possible and then attempting to come up with new and innovative ways to cook and present them. This is all great fun and is a major part of cooking these days, but sometimes food just needs to be there for the family in a fun and nutritious way while the rugby is on. So go on, forget the fast food, and make your own.

Over the coming months I’ll be at Mills Reef Winery for a series of cook schools in the glorious Vintage Wine Cellar, I look forward to seeing some of you there.

Easy Burgers

500g minced beef or lamb

2 onion, diced finely

3 clove garlic, chopped

Salt & pepper

Chopped fresh herbs or dried herbs

2 tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten

Avocado oil

Optional additions:

2 red capsicum, diced finely

150g mushrooms, diced finely

1 courgette, grated

1 carrot, grated

1 teaspoon fresh Thyme, chopped

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


Mix all ingredients together well.  Take large spoonfuls of mixture, shape into balls, place on a floured surface and flatten with your hand.  Heat avocado oil in a frying pan and add 2 or 3 burgers at a time.  Cook both sides until crisp and brown.  Alternatively, the burgers can be cooked on a BBQ or finished off in the oven at 180°C.

Split the hamburger buns, place the burger inside with lettuce, tomato, avocado salsa (see below), cottage cheese and serve.

Avocado Salsa

2 ripe avocado, diced

2 de-seeded and finely chopped red chillies

2tsp chopped fresh coriander

4 tomatoes de-skinned, deseeded and diced

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

Pinch salt

Zest & juice 1 lime


Place all ingredients in a bowl, mix well and leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes to let the flavours develop.

Burger Buns


500g strong white bread flour

20g instant yeast

20g sugar

10g salt

60g unsalted butter

280ml warm water


2 egg white

4 teaspoons of sesame seeds


Weigh out the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large mixing bowl. (If your yeast needs activating in water, follow the instructions on the packet and subtract whatever water you need to use from the 280ml water listed above.) Mix them together so that they are evenly distributed.

Heat the butter (either in the microwave or in a pan) so that it has just melted, it should be just warm, not hot. Weigh the water into the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients, pour in the melted butter and mix it all together (using your hands) to form a dough.

Tip the dough out on to a floured work surface and knead it until it has formed a smooth, elastic dough. It will be sticky at first but will become smooth as you knead it. Form the dough into a ball, lightly oil the inside of the mixing bowl and put the ball of dough back into the mixing bowl. Cover the bowl with a piece of cling-film/plastic-wrap, put the bowl somewhere warm and leave it to prove until it has doubled in size (it depends on how warm it is but this usually takes 1 – 2 hours).

When the dough has doubled in size, tip the dough out of the bowl, cut it into eight and shape each into a ball. Leave the balls of dough on the work-top, cover them with a piece of lightly oiled cling-film/plastic-wrap and leave them to prove for a second time until they have doubled in size.

When the balls of dough have doubled in size, put them onto a lightly oiled baking tray and gently press them down to form the burger bun shape. Optionally, brush the top of each disk of dough with some egg white and sprinkle each with ½ teaspoon of sesame seeds.

Heat the oven to 170°c.

Leave the buns to rise for the final time until they have puffed up (not necessarily doubled in size but close).

When they are cooked, take the burger buns out of the oven and leave them on the tray until they have cooled to room temperature (when they come out of the oven they will feel very firm but leaving them to cool on the tray greatly softens the crust).

When they are cooled, cook

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