Unique moment of time

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Professor Stephen Hawking had a fascinating relationship with time and this year Bremont are marking that and honouring the eminent scientist with the launch of its Bremont Hawking watch collection.

The brand has worked with the Hawking family to create something unique and special dedicated to the British scientist whose stud of time enhanced our understanding of the universe and beyond.

The classically styled Bremont Hawking Limited Edition watch features a retrograde seconds hand and grand date and contains four wooden discs inlaid into the back of the watch taken from the desk at which Hawking contemplated the mysteries of the universe.

Only a limited number of watches will be made and all with unique features setting them apart as a truly stunning timepiece.

To complement the men’s watch, Bremont is also releasing a limited edition number of women’s watches, the first it has produced and around the face lies a bezel of diamonds – another first for Bremont.

Bremont co-founder Nick English said of the collection: “Professor Stephen Hawking was arguably one of the most pre-eminent scientists of the last hundred years. We wanted to celebrate this incredible man’s life and his fascinating relationship with time.”

Bremont is an award-winning British company producing beautifully engineered chronometers at their headquarters in Henley.

Win! case of Champagne from Majestic

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Enter our competition to win a case of six bottles of Champagne from Majestic

There’s no better way to celebrate the festive season than with a glass or two of fizz and we’re offering you the chance to win a case of six bottles of Champagne courtesy of wine retailer Majestic.

And if you’re not sure about what to pair with your turkey or Christmas pud call or email to chat to one of their friendly team of in-store wine experts or come in and browse the specialist range of wines, beers and spirits, selected by their award-winning buyers, at your local Majestic store.

With free delivery when you buy six bottles or more, a free order and collect service and a money-back guarantee, they can help you celebrate however you’re spending it.

To enter, fill in the form below before 12pm on Friday 25th December

Visit www.majestic.co.uk/stores to find your nearest store.

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Win! goodies from Lottie Lane’s collection

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Enter our competition to win £100 of gorgeous goodies from designer Lottie Lane’s unique collection

Charlotte ‘Lottie’ Lane’s designs are bright, playful, fun and energising. All are hand drawn with minimal use of technology to focus on original and authentic design and backing up Lottie’s love of the natural world all products are eco-conscious and sourced in the UK.

From sloths to dinosaurs, her cheerful and inventive designs are sure to put a smile on your face and none more so than the blue and purple giraffes which feature on everything from aprons and cushions to mugs and notebooks.

You can discover her African safari inspired collection of giraffes yourself with the chance to win £100 worth of products from the giraffe collection.

To enter, fill in the form below before 12pm on Friday 25th December

Visit www.lottielane.co.uk to see the full range.

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December recipes: The main event

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The festive period isn’t normally associated with healthy eating, but Dr Michelle Braude of nutrition practice The Food Effect, says it doesn’t have to be this way and that many of the foods we often associate with Christmas and New Year are actually very healthy if used in the right way.

Grilled Salmon & Baby Potatoes on a Bed of Greens & Barley

A showstopper of a dish that will leave your guests asking for more.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)
• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 40 minutes

SERVES: 4-6

Method:

For the salmon:

Heat oven to 200°C.

Toss baby potatoes with 2 tablespoons olive oil, rosemary, salt and black pepper. Cut a 1/4 off the head of garlic horizontally, and wrap it in foil.

Place potatoes and garlic on a parchment lined baking tray and roast in the oven for 40 minutes.

Coat the salmon with 2 tablespoons olive oil, soy sauce, dried mixed herbs and pepper. Place on another parchment lined baking sheet and place in the oven 20 minutes before the potatoes are ready. Roast salmon for 18-20 minutes.

For the dressing:

Blend together the balsamic vinegar, remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, salt and pepper, and squeezed out roasted garlic. If too thick add a bit of water.

Complete the dish:

Combine a few tablespoons of dressing with the cooked barley, and the rest with the mixed greens. Arrange greens on a platter. Sprinkle the barley over the greens. With a large spatula place the salmon on the greens and barley and place the baby potatoes all the way around the salmon. Drizzle balsamic vinegar over the salmon to decorate.

Variation: You can also decorate with pomegranate seeds, flaked almonds or chopped spring onion

Christmas is not quite the same without homemade warm mince pies to enjoy. This granola inspired delicious recipe is bound to keep everyone happy using granola from Lizi’s Breakfast Range available from Waitrose, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Ocado, Asda, Morrisons, Whole Foods, Co-Op, Booths and all good health stores.

Christmas Mince Pies with Lizi’s Original Granola Topping

These mince pies are a fun treat for all the family.

Ingredients:

• 1 whole side of salmon fillet (around 1kg), with skin removed
• 1kg baby potatoes, washed and cut in halves
• 8 cups mixed greens
• 250g cooked barley (or brown rice)• 1 head of garlic
• 6 tablespoons olive oil divided
• ½ teaspoon dried rosemary
• ½ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
• ½ teaspoon dried mixed herbs
• A third of a cup of balsamic vinegar
• Salt & pepper, to taste
• Balsamic glaze – for drizzling

PREP: 30 minutes

COOKING: 20 minutes

MAKES: 18

Method:

To make the pastry, rub together the diced vegan butter into the plain flour. Once they are mixed together, mix in the golden caster sugar and a pinch of salt.

Combine the pastry into a ball – don’t add any liquids – and knead it briefly. The dough will be fairly firm, like a shortbread dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C/gas 6/fan 180C.

Line 18 tin holes of two 12-hole shallow baking tins, pressing small (approximately walnut-sized) balls of pastry into each hole. Keep some of the pastry aside for the lids. Spread the pastry balls to make pie shaped cases and spoon the vegan mincemeat into the cases.

Roll out the remaining pastry for the lids. Use your star cutter (which has to be big enough to reach the sides of the pie cases) to create the pastry lids. If you’d rather use a different shaped cutter, ensure that the shapes reach the sides of the pie cases again.

Place the pastry lids on the pies, ensuring that they fit. Bake for 20 minutes until the pies are golden.

Leave the mince pies to cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then remove and cool on a wire rack. To serve, lightly dust with some icing sugar. The mince pies will keep for 3 to 4 days in an airtight container.

See our other recipes

Star Q&A: Andrea Bocelli

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Liz Nicholls asks Italian opera singer, tenor & record producer, 62, some questions for our bumper Christmas edition.

Q. What was it like to sing in the empty Duomo di Milano on Easter Sunday? “Each church is the house of God and inside it you can feel the comfort of His supernatural presence, which fills the place with beneficial energy where you are never alone. The fact that the Duomo was empty didn’t cause me any apprehension. From the beginning, I intended the event to be an opportunity to be joined in prayer by an unseen audience. I pictured a vast, interconnected crowd, united by that thin thread which is faith, and which is stronger than any physical distance. I was happy to be able to experience Easter in Milan, which was at the time one of the cities most affected by the COVID-19 virus, precisely on the day of a celebration which symbolises the celebration of life and the strength of the Christian message.”

Q. How important is your faith to you in your work, and this year especially? “It is the centre of gravity of my life, a gift that I cherish and that keeps me going me day after day. I think it is a crucial topic for everyone and I am happy to testify to its importance whenever the opportunity arises. Faith is not something to hold on to in difficult times. Nonetheless, it puts earthly events into perspective, even the most dramatic ones, and helps us overcome them. This year, the health emergency has led us to reflect on the fragility of our environment and on the arrogance with which we too often comprehend nature. However, I believe that, in the face of every unforeseen event, the challenge is always to keep calm and engage a heightened sense of responsibility and carefulness, without giving way to anxiety and losing our positivity and optimism.”

Q. How do you take care of your voice? Is there anything you do or don’t eat or drink (for this reason or otherwise)? “Studying is a fundamental factor and training must be undertaken daily. I remember that my great teacher, Franco Corelli, used to say: ‘Even the precious Stradivarius violin, if you break it, you can always hope to buy a new one. But you only have one voice and once damaged, you will never be able to buy another one.’ I have always tried to respect my voice, by studying constantly without overworking it. As for my diet, I think that eating healthy and moderately is a useful rule for everyone! A singer – just like an athlete – should follow a more rigorous training when a musical event approaches: in the days before a concert or a recording, I lead an almost monastic life, forgetting about wine, coffee, pasta and other important joys.”

Q. Have you always loved Christmas? What’s your favourite way to spend it and your favourite indulgences? “I have always loved it. After all, our childhood Christmas is a great treasure of emotions that we carry around with us for life. We all waited for its arrival, experiencing that magical scent of mystery that spreads throughout the house, waiting for the gifts that will materialise under the tree while we sleep. This sweet promise is kept and renewed every year, for those like me who are believers in the festivities: even into adulthood, albeit with different nuances. I love spending Christmas at home, with my family. The Christmas tree and Nativity scene are both heartwarming traditions that and which cannot be missing in the Bocelli household! We inaugurate the holidays by celebrating with our extended family and going to the Holy Mass together. Once back home, we take turns opening our presents and wait eagerly for lunchtime.”

Q. If you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “I hope for a world without any wars, where people can live peacefully and are able to defeat pain through medical advances. We all try to do our part, within our means. I’m aware that even if good news stories rarely make headlines, those that do represent for humanity the only path that can really be followed.”

Andrea Bocelli’s new album Believe is out now. For details & the trailer visit andreabocelli.com/believe

Win! OGGLIO’s Extra Virgin Olive Oil

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Enter our competition to win a bottle of OGGLIO’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil.

OGGLIO’s Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil is produced in the Belice Valley in Sicily from olives grown, harvested, and pressed locally, on the same day of picking, within a five-mile radius from the grove.

The olive trees are of the Nocellara cultivar, arguably one of the world’s finest varieties, and were planted more than a century ago. They are still tended organically today without the use of any pesticides or artificial irrigation systems.

Every year, the olives are harvested entirely by hand and collected early in the picking season when they are greener and not fully ripe, thus yielding a smaller quantity of oil, which as a result is more intense in flavour. The October 2020 harvest has just arrived and it’s deliciously healthy: imagine squeezing a bunch of olives in your hands.

Currently, the 500ml bottle is £15.00 and the 3 litres tin is £45.00 including FREE delivery anywhere in the UK.

To buy or for more information go to www.ogglio.org

We’ve teamed up with OGGLIO to offer a special Christmas Edition bottle. To enter, fill in the form below before 23:59 on Thursday 10th December 2020.

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Foster care in lockdown

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Lockdown has been challenging for many of us, for lots of different reasons, and none more so than for Sarah and Darren who are Oxfordshire County Council foster carers, who were staying at home with five children.

They were home schooling all of them as well as keeping them safe and well and happy! As with many foster children they all have specific emotional needs and two of the children have ADHD and are on the autistic spectrum.

We all know that children manage better with routine and for many foster children change is something they find scary and confusing, so to suddenly find their lives changed overnight to not being allowed out, no school, and so many other changes that happened they would have been extremely anxious and unsettled.

You might wonder what lockdown would look like with such a busy household.

The children were kept busy, Sarah is very creative and knows the children are happier when busy. They have fun, they bake, create and paint and garden!

Sarah says, “We do so many things including foam painting the french doors, obstacle course in the back garden and we have planted runner beans, tomatoes and many herbs. We have really enjoyed learning with the children along the way”.

Sarah and Darren were also home schooling so became teachers too, but they obviously did a marvellous job as one of the children got “star pupil of the week”! In total the two younger children have 35 rewards from their school!

It is truly amazing and inspiring to see what they have achieved as a family.

Our foster carers do amazing things and rarely want us to give them any kind of shoutout because, its just what they do. But I think you will all agree that they very much do deserve our thanks and recognition. Throughout these unprecedented times they have given these children everything they need and deserve which is to feel, safe, loved, cared for and to have fun!!

Foster carers offer a safe environment for children who are not able to live at home for however long that might be. We need more carers in Oxfordshire and would welcome to hear form you if you are interested to find out more.


Get in touch with Oxfordshire County Council by email: [email protected]
Call: 0800 783 5724

Or visit their website

LEGOLAND®’s World of Mythical Creatures

Round & About

The World of Mythical Creatures is coming to The LEGOLAND® Windsor Resort in spring 2021 with the opening of a multi-million-pound new land where mythical LEGO® creatures come to life.

LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will feature thrilling new attractions and experiences, including a never-before-seen UK ride.

Created for kids by kids, the parallel universe of LEGO MYTHICA marks the Resort’s single biggest investment since it opened 25 years ago and will see children’s imaginations and creativity run wild as mythical LEGO creatures come to life in front of their eyes.

Revealed in a video on LEGOLAND Windsor’s social media channels, you’ll be teased into a mythical portal to another world opening for the first time. In a hint to the creatures that families may find in this parallel universe, huge footprints shake the Resort, a winged shadow flies overhead and the 30 second film ends with an ice storm engulfing LEGOLAND Windsor’s entrance.

Working in partnership with Kids Industries, the LEGOLAND Windsor team behind the new the land spent a year discussing and testing ideas and concepts with seven to 11-year olds and their parents who influenced everything from the final ride experiences, names and characters.

Thomas Jellum, Divisional Director at the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, said:

“What better way to celebrate our 25th birthday than by unveiling a completely unique experience like nothing else we have launched at the Resort since we opened.

“At the heart of LEGO MYTHICA: World of Mythical Creatures will be epic rides, including a UK first, and breath-taking mythical creatures designed to capture children’s imaginations and inspire them to build and play.

“Our new land has been two years in the making and co-created with families to make sure it delivers what children and their parents want from a theme park in 2021.”

 

LEGO MYTHICA World of Mythical Creatures is currently under construction at the Resort and is set to open in spring 2021. The new land will be found between Heartlake City and the Resort’s LEGO-themed hotels.

For more details and to book tickets to the LEGOLAND Windsor Resort, visit www.legoland.co.uk/mythica

Win! A Giggling Squid meal

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Enter our competition to win a meal at a Giggling Squid That restaurant near you or a takeaway.

Liz Nicholls has lunch & a few extras at Giggling Squid in Jericho & offers you the chance to win a meal for yourself

I’m writing this from my bed, where I have just gobbled my third bowlful of piping hot chicken Paneang with jasmine rice scooped up with lacy, crunchy prawn crackers.

This particular “bed picnic” – a scene of pure, indulgent daylight slobbery – represents my third Giggling Squid meal in as many weeks. And I’m encouraging you to indulge in the same without shame or judgement, in your PJs or your glad rags – whatever you prefer.

I’d heard so many fellow Asian food obsessives rave about how Giggling Squid’s informal, friendly “Thai tapas” concept always made for a reliably good meal out. But, seeing as I don’t go out much, and have a little black book of local Thai food favourites on speed-dial (east Oxford is spoilt for choice), I’d never ventured out west to seek it out… Until earlier this month when I was invited to lunch at the Jericho branch (on the site of the old Loch Fyne restaurant). And what a breath of fresh air amid these weird, stultified times. Exotic blooms cheer you up from all angles in this eclectic, airy space, where the waltzer-style banquette booths make socially distanced dining feel luxurious, alongside the warmest Thai welcome. The hospitality industry has taken such a battering lately so when you’re dazzled by smiley, sunny service you feel you notice this more – or is that just me? I was the World’s Worst Waitress in my youth (I even slopped soup down someone’s back once) so respect is due to those who manage to do it well, especially now.

I have now chomped my way through a lot of the dishes on the menu (or at least those on the spicier end of the spectrum) & can report my tried & trusted favourites. The Hawker-style Moo Ping (marinated pork skewers with tamarind sauce, £5.95) are joyful, juicy & addictive, bringing back memories of Bangkok jaunts. The pork dumplings (also £5.95) are steamed plump parcels of rich, meaty joy, with a nice kick of ginger in the dip. I am somewhat obsessed with pork dumplings & was very impressed by these, in their little wicker basket; in fact my pal & I bartered favours to nab the last one. For nutritious, mineral-rich cruciferous vegetables that actually feel like a treat, I absolutely love the Giggling Squid incarnation of the old classic chilli basil Gra Po (£9.50 for the vegetable). The pot of Home Comfort minced beef & aubergine (£10.50) blew both of our minds slightly, too – we asked for it extra spicy & it was a cracker. I’m mad for Paneang, too, and the aforementioned chicken version gained top marks from me, for its tender strips of meat and the zesty zang of the lime leaves.

Portions are generous, prices are reasonable, in my opinion, and the vital extra ingredient is the love that’s gone into this building this brand, created by Thai-born Pranee Laurillard and her husband Andrew and named after the nickname for one of their children. Lots of the dishes have little notes from Pranee (the Gra Pho, for example, is her go-to dish for when she doesn’t know what else to rustle up for her family, which makes me wish I was married to her, if I’m honest) which make you feel even more hungry. If you do book a meal in-house do treat yourself to a cocktail or two, such as the Thai Sambai (Mekhong rum and lime juice infused with Thai basil, £7.25) which really puts a pep in your step & adds to the “occasion” feel of Giggling Squid that’s lacking in some of the smaller indies. There are great “box” deals and if you have a doggie bag to take home, or order a Deliveroo, as I did that marvellous hungover Sunday, it arrives in a gorgeous floral bag, as if you’ve been to a swish boutique. How you consume the contents, and whether or not you even bother to get cutlery, is your call.

There are 36 Giggling Squid restaurants, including in Beaconsfield, Esher, Henley, Marlow, Windsor & Wokingham. We’ve teamed up with the Giggling Squid team to offer one lucky winner a £50 voucher to enjoy a takeaway or meal out. Please enter before Tuesday, 15th December.

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November recipes: food with heart

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A new cook book Food & Kindness is raising funds for Oxfordshire’s Sobell House hospice with help from local restaurants

Two of those featured are Oli’s Thai in Magdalen Road, Oxford and The White Hart in Fyfield.

Oli’s Thai is a neighbourhood restaurant with a well-deserved reputation for fantastic food, the Aubergine Curry has become the most popular dish in the restaurant and they say, don’t be scared to burn the edges, that’s where the flavour is

Aubergine Curry

from Oli’s Thai

Ingredients:

For the paste
• 1 tbsp coriander seeds
• Small pinch of cumin seeds
• 1 tbsp dried Dutch chillies, some seeds removed
• 75g lemongrass, cut thinly across
• 25g galangal, cut thinly across
• 1 tbsp table salt
• 1 tsp ground white pepper
• 35g garlic, peeled
• 25g shallots, roughly chopped
• 40g big red chillies

For the curry
• 2 aubergines
• 8 tbsp vegetable oil
• 190ml coconut milk
• 30ml water or stock
• 80g fine green beans, halved
• 2 spring onions, cut into 3cm chucks
• Handful of Thai basil
• 3 lime leaves, torn up
• 20g caster sugar
• 80ml coconut cream
• 50ml soy sauce

PREP: 15 minutes

COOKING: 30 minutes

SERVES: 4

Method:

For the paste
Toast the coriander and cumin seeds in a frying pan over a low heat until golden. Once cool, put them in a spice grinder with the dried Dutch chillies and blitz to a fine consistency. With a pestle and mortar, pound a small quantity of the lemongrass and galangal together until smooth, adding more until you have used them all. Add the salt and pepper, then the other ingredients one at a time, pounding the mixture to a fine consistency before adding the next. Finally, add the blitzed dry spices and mix well. If you are using a blender to make the paste, add all the fresh ingredients and blitz until fine. Then add the coriander and cumin seeds, chillies, salt and pepper.

For the curry
Preheat the oven to 180°c. Prepare the aubergines, cutting each one lengthways into 10 or 12 wedges. For each wedge, cut along the flesh making a deep incision nearly reaching the skin and repeat, leaving 1 to 2cm gaps between each cut. Put them onto a baking tray and drizzle with five tablespoons of the vegetable oil. Roast for 25 to 30 minutes until soft but still holding their shape. Don’t be alarmed if the edges burn slightly, this will give the finished curry extra flavour.

Put the remaining vegetable oil into a large pan on a low heat and add the curry paste. Cook the paste for a couple of minutes until you see the oil separate. Increase the heat and add the coconut milk, stock, green beans, spring onion, basil, lime leaves and sugar then cook for about 2 to 3 minutes while stirring continuously. Turn the heat down low, add the coconut cream and soy sauce, then simmer gently until the beans are cooked, which should take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Place the roasted aubergine wedges in a bowl and pour over the sauce. Garnish with basil leaves.

The White Hart in Fyfield is a charming country dining pub that puts great food and hospitality at its heart and what could be better than trying their Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote and if you’re feeling adventurous try the doughnuts too

Elderflower Crème Brûlée with Gooseberry Compote

from The White Hart, Fyfield

Ingredients:

For the crème brûlée
• 400ml double cream
• 35g caster sugar, plus a little extra to brûlée
• 120ml elderflower cordial
• 6 egg yolks

For the gooseberry compote
• 400g gooseberries
• 6 tbsp caster sugar
• 2 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the doughnuts (optional)
• 210ml tepid milk
• 50g unsalted butter, softened
• 2 eggs, beaten
• 100g caster sugar
• 10g fresh yeast (or 5g dried)
• 300g plain flour
• ½ tsp salt
• Vegetable oil, for frying

PREP: 15 minutes (plus 2hrs prooving)

COOKING: 30-40 minutes

SERVES: 6

Method:

For the crème brûlée
Preheat the oven to 150°c. Place the cream, sugar and cordial in a pan. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Briefly beat the egg yolks in a bowl, then pour in the cream mixture while still beating. Pass through a sieve into a jug. Pour the mixture into ramekins (approx. 70ml in each) and place in a deep roasting tin. Fill the roasting tin with boiling water halfway up the ramekins. Place on the bottom shelf of the oven and cook for 30 to 40 minutes until just set. Remove from the oven and let the ramekins stand in the water for 10 minutes, then take them out and leave to cool.

For the gooseberry compote
Place the gooseberries, sugar and elderflower cordial in a pan and heat gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 3 minutes, just until the gooseberries start to soften. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the doughnuts (optional)
Combine the milk, butter, eggs and 40g of the sugar. Place the yeast in a small bowl, then add a little of the milk mixture to form a smooth paste. Add this paste to the remaining milk mixture and whisk to combine. Place the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Gradually pour in the milk mixture, whisking until smooth. Cover the bowl with cling film and place the dough in a warm spot to prove for approximately 1 hour or until doubled in size. Take the dough out and knock it back to remove the air, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge until cold. Roll the cold dough into 15g balls and place them on greaseproof paper squares to prove for a final 30 minutes.

Place a large saucepan, one third filled with vegetable oil, over a medium heat until the oil reaches 170°c. Place the dough balls in the oil and cook for about 4 minutes, turning often, until golden brown and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towels. Once cooled slightly, roll the doughnuts in the remaining caster sugar.

To serve
Sprinkle a little caster sugar over the brûlée then heat with a blowtorch (or place under a hot grill) until the sugar bubbles and forms a caramel. Arrange the compote and the doughnuts artistically on the plate and we serve ours with raspberry ripple ice cream and fresh raspberries. Enjoy!

Food & Kindness, £15, and is available from Amazon, Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk

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