Christmas shopping for foodies with Sous Chef

A mexican hot chocolate and molinillo stirrer


If you’re Christmas shopping for a foodie then Sous Chef is a good place to start. If you’ve never got lost in their pages of ingredients and kitchen kit, then clear your schedule and jump in! You can shop by ingredients, cookware, tableware, techniques or cuisine. For an early festive treat, courtesy of Sous Chef I headed to the Mexican cuisine section.

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Thai cookery class at Food Sorcery, Manchester

Chef plating up Thai food at cookery school

Hands on learning, delicious fresh food


I adore Thai food – it is fresh, fragrant and full of textures. I eat it a lot, but I don’t really cook it. With the exception of pad Thai or satay chicken, I have always steered clear of cooking Thai, for fear of messing it up. So when I was offered the chance to take a Thai cookery class at Food Sorcery, I bit their hand off!

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Recipe: Maltesers brownies

tray of brownies made with Maltesters

Sometimes, less is more. Today is not one of those times. These Maltesers brownies are more, with more on top too!

I defy anyone to dislike Maltesers. You get crunch, you get chocolate, you get to eat a whole bag without feeling like a pig! Plus, Maltesers have moved on since the days of getting a box was considered to be such a special treat. Now buttons come in bags, share bags, boxes. There are truffles, there are bars. And there is a Maltesers spread which is frankly obscene. Go away, spread it on crumpets then report back to me and tell me what you thought!

Malteser brownie on a plate

Given that I love dark chocolate so much, I am shocked that I have only just realised that I love Maltesers this much! Honestly they are just so moreish, which is why I had to cut these brownies into tiny bite sized pieces because I could eat them the whole day long!

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2019 festive cookie swap launch

Christmas themed cookies

I’ve seen enough Hallmark Christmas films (thanks to channel 5 in 2017) to know that cookie swaps are the sweetest way to celebrate the festive spirit. I also know from Pinterest that cookie swap parties are forever popular in America and look like the most calorific fun! So, what with the world going to hell in a handcart at the moment, I’ve decided that I want in. I want to spread a little light and happiness through baked goods. I’m asking you today to join me and #bakelove for the festive season.

The idea is simple: sign up now, bake early December and be assigned a stranger to give your baked goods to. Receive baked goods. Emit a warm glow as you a) eat something delicious and b) realise that there are some jolly good people in the world. Pretty simple eh?

Sign up
Plate of cookies

Ok so of course this cookie swap will have to happen by post – I’ve not got it in me to organise a giant baking party (more’s the pity). But that would still be fun, right? Over in America, Food52 have been organising something like this for a few years so it can be done. I am suggesting that we keep this open to people in the British Isles in order to keep postage logistics as simple as possible. Start small and let’s see how it goes.

Sign up

I don’t know why, but I’m really excited by the idea of meeting new people through their food. Am I being sentimental and crazy? Or greedy and nosey?!

Key dates

  • 15 September: sign up is open
  • 21 November: sign up closes. Don’t be late to the party!
  • 22-24 November: all bakers will receive details of who they will be sending bakes to
  • 2-15 December: send your bakes out at any time during this period
  • Dig in and enjoy!
  • What do I need to know?

    • Cookies of course, but include what you like. Make a good Christmas cake? Bake a miniature! Mincemeat? Jar it up!
    • It’s not a beauty contest. Don’t worry about making pretty bakes if decoration isn’t your thing. We’re looking for tasty treats
    • Let’s celebrate love and goodness in all forms – keep it non-religious please
    • There is no set amount to send, but think about what you would like to receive
    Sign up

    Ready to get involved? Sign up and start planning your bakes. Let’s #BakeLove this winter 💛💛💛

    PInterest image for Great British cookie swap 2019

    Recipe: peach semifreddo

    A semifreddo on a plate with a slice removed

    An easy, creamy peach of a dessert!


    A few years ago, I thought that ice cream was going to be the new rock and roll – or at least the new cupcake. There is no denying that ice cream quality and flavours have gone through the roof in the past few years, but it can let you down when it comes to presentation: too hard to scoop, splodged on the plate. That is where semifreddo comes in. Ice cream’s foxy, insta-ready cousin is rich and creamy, looks great on the plate and, vitally, can be made well in advance without the need of an ice cream maker.

    That last point is key, because I looked at my ice cream bowl last week (it attaches to my beloved Kitchen Aid) and it has blue goo coming out of it, a bit like the robots in that series, Humans. I have a strong suspicion it is no longer safe to use…

    A peach semifreddo with peaches around it on a pretty serving plate
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    Recipe: caramel chocolate brownies

    A plate full of caramel brownies and serving forks

    Caramel chocolate brownies are a proper classic, and I must have made them about six times already this year!

    Half the size, all the flavour!

    I have a confession. When I make these brownies, I actually make them HALF the size of a normal one – because otherwise I find them a little too much *shock face*. I know I’m not losing my sweet tooth, so maybe it is something to do with hitting middle age! With caramel sauce blobbed through the centre and Rolos on top, they give an extra layer of flavour and texture. They are so satisfying that a little does go a long way! Don’t worry, it is still a normal batch size, you just cut them as big or as small as you fancy.

    Gooey caramel chocolate brownie on a plate
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