Party in the Park

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Get ready to Party in the Park in Woking on 6th July

This annual summertime celebration in Woking Park, which is free to attend, offers a packed programme of family entertainment and fun activities for children.

Attracting upwards of 10,000 visitors throughout the day, crowd-pullers include Wimbledon Championship action on the big screen, live music to swing along to, thirst-quenching craft beers, a sizzling hot food village and a carefully curated selection of street theatre and dance.

Entering its eighth year, Party in the Park provides a platform for local talent and aims to encourage participation by introducing partygoers to new activities and local groups. As well as parading around the park at midday with carnival band, UDM Samba, top of the list of things to try this year are slacklining (tightrope walking on a suspended line of webbing), and Tokyo 2020 Olympic sport, skateboarding! You can learn a kickturn or pop an ollie on a mobile mini-ramp with help from the pros at Mount Hawke – helmet and knee-pads provided!

Festival organiser, Riëtte Thomas, Celebrate Woking Manager at Woking Borough Council, said: “This year Party in the Park is going back to its roots. On 6th July, visitors can expect a celebration of all the things we love in Woking and are proud of, plus an eclectic mix of things to see and do across four distinct areas.

“Each year we add new content to the programme to keep the format fresh, to appeal to new audiences but most importantly, to ensure there’s something for everyone at Party in the Park so that we can bring communities together.

“The gravity-defying displays of urban sports will appeal to thrill-seekers young and old, we’re adding more music as requested, and there’s a particular focus on the environment this year. We’re also very excited to be working with one activity provider whose workshops we already know, will be the highlight of Party in the Park 2019.”

In a change to the usual line-up, this year the Main Stage will be dedicated to live performances from professional and big name acts. Headliners announced so far include Britain’s Got Talent finalists, Old Men Grooving, Glimmer Theatre’s raucous Cabareilidh, and singing sensation, Motown Gold Frontline. Local favourites, The Farleys, return to the park after their 2012 debut to fly the flag for home-grown talent.

With everything from Punch and Judy to a whirling urban astronaut floating 20ft up in the air, it’s easy to understand why Party in the Park was voted by Essential Surrey as one of the “best, unmissable events” of 2019. And for added feel good factor, this year’s event concludes with a free outdoor screening of everyone’s favourite, The Greatest Showman.

More info

For full details and latest line-up announcements

Picnic Month

Karen Neville


Celebrate National Picnic Month and dine al fresco. We’ve had some sunshine so what better way to make the most of it than buy getting out, with a picnic and friends and having a good time al fresco.

And there’s no time like the present, this month is National Picnic Month and while you might want to make a real party of it you can just get out in your garden and eat at the end of a busy day.

But where to start – whether you go grand with more fancy nibbles than are stocked in an upmarket deli or just grab a few sausage rolls and sarnies, pack up your picnic rug and enjoy!

There are a few things to consider, firstly make sure your containers are securely fastened, there’s nothing worse than a leaky bottle or a box that’s not properly sealed – you don’t want your salad to have exploded all over that fancy wicker basket.

Keeping cool

Cool boxes are a great way to store your goodies, not least if it’s a scorcher, and are easy to wipe clean just in case…

Paper cups and plates are always a good idea especially for younger ones (and some messy older ones) and make sure you’ve got a cork screw if needed – you don’t want to unpack, settle down and look forward to a nice cold glass only to find you can’t open the bottle.

When it comes to the food choose a main dish that can be easily divided, quiches and pies are great options as are snacks that can be picked up easily such as Scotch eggs or chicken drumsticks, go for elegant triangular sandwiches and try upping your game with gourmet choices such as smoked salmon Scotch eggs.

As a nod to your five a day how about taking along pasta or potato salads too, with the lighter array of summer veg to choose from you’ll be adding vibrant colour too with pinky red radishes, cucumber and cherry tomatoes.

When it comes to desserts, a picnic is one occasion when small is definitely better, try cupcakes, brownies, shortbread, mini cheesecakes and easily-cutable tray bakes.

However you pack your picnic hamper make sure you make the most of that one vital ingredient – the sun!

Ditch the plastic

Unfortunately picnic food tends to be wrapped in plastic in the supermarket. Ways to avoid using this is making your food and investing in reusable food wraps such as Beeswax Wraps. Find out more…

Plan your picnic

Have a look through our recipes pages to find some picnic inspiration and start planning your outdoor feast!

July’s recipes: Thrills & grills

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We’ve teamed up with the team behind ZIGZAG to bring you the perfect recipes to rustle up on the grill this summer!


(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)


for the lamb:
• French trim lamb chops – allow three per person
• Garlic
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Fresh thyme leaves
• Rosemary
• Balsamic glaze


• Marinade lamb in oil garlic and thyme for 2 hours prior to cooking
• Heat up pan in the oven,
• Roast lamb chops for 3-4 minutes on both sides,
• Serve with fresh rosemary leaves.
• Drizzle with balsamic reduction for extra sweetness

Roast asparagus

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)


And for roast asparagus:
• Bunch of fresh British Asparagus
• Olive oil
• Lemon wedge
• Rock salt
• Black pepper
• Parmigianino Reggiano


• Drizzle olive oil over the asparagus
• Place into the oven on a baking tray or metal handled pan.
• Remove from oven when soft and golden brown,
• Serve hot with slice of lemon, rock salt, pepper and a few  shavings of parmesan.


(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)


for the aubergine:
• Two large aubergines, cut into disks around 1cm
• Extra virgin olive oil
• Tahini
• One pomegranate, cut in half and with seeds removed
• Fresh oregano


• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano


(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)


And for roast fish:
• Whole seabass – around 35cm long scaled and gutted
• Potatoes, sliced 1cm think and par-boiled to soften
• Lemon
• Sunblush tomatoes,
• Fresh dill & parsley
• 2oz of fish stock


• Lay out cut aubergines face down in a pan or baking tray
• Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper
• Roast until golden brown
• To serve overlap aubergine, drizzle with tahini and sprinkle with fresh pomegranate seeds.
• Garnish with oregano

June’s recipe: Fiery & fresh

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Star chef Kay Plunkett-Hogge shares two recipes from her new book Baan: Recipes & Stories From My Thai Home

Gaeng keow wan gai

A classic green chicken curry

(Prep: 15 mins – Cooking: 12-15 mins – Serves: 4)


for the paste
• ½tsp coriander seeds
• ½tsp cumin seeds
• 1 tsp white peppercorns
• A good pinch of salt
• 1 tbsp finely chopped & 1 tbsp finely chopped lemongrass
• Two Thai shallots or one regular, peeled and finely chopped
• 12 green Thai bird’s eye chillies, de-stemmed and chopped
• Two long green chillies,
destemmed and finely chopped
• 4 tbsp finely chopped fresh coriander (cilantro) root, with some stem attached
• One garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
• 2cm / ¾-inch piece of fresh turmeric, finely chopped
• zest of one kaffir lime
• 1 tsp kapi (shrimp paste)

And for the curry
• 2 tbsp vegetable oil
• One 400ml / 14fl oz can of coconut milk
• 350g / 12oz chicken thighs, cut into 2cm / ¾inch dice
• 1–2 tbsp nam pla (fish sauce)
• a pinch of caster (superfine) sugar (optional)
• 65g/2¼ oz pea aubergines (eggplants)
• Two Thai round aubergines (eggplants), cut into quarters
• 100 g/3½ oz bamboo shoots, chopped
• Two long red chillies, diagonally sliced into three pieces
• Large handful Thai sweet basil
• One long orange chilli (optional)


Pound all the paste ingredients in a pestle and mortar (hardest first, as listed, working down to the softest), until you have a uniform, close-textured paste. If it’s not completely smooth, don’t worry. If you prefer to use a food processor or a blender, again work from hardest to softest, and add about 1 tablespoon water or more to bring the paste together. Heat the oil in a wok or saucepan and fry the paste until it smells fragrant (about a minute). Add half the coconut milk, bring to the boil slowly, stirring to dissolve the paste. Let the coconut milk simmer a little until you see oil appear on the surface. Then add 200 ml/7 fl oz/a cup of water and bring to the boil.

Add the chicken and bring back to the boil, then add the rest of the coconut milk. Bring back to the boil and simmer for about six minutes. Add the nam pla and the sugar, if using. Taste and adjust the seasoning. If it seems a little thick, add a little more water – you want a soupiness, not a thick gravy. Add the aubergines, the bamboo shoots and one of the long red chillies. Simmer for another three minutes or so. Taste – you want this to taste vibrant, hot, salty and herbaceous. Add the basil, the remaining red chilli and the whole orange chilli if you have one, and serve with some jasmine rice and nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Khao pad goong

Fried rice with prawns


Heat the wok or frying pan (skillet) until it’s very hot. Add the oil, then the garlic and stir-fry until golden. Add the prawns and the chillies, and carry on stirring, adding the nam pla, soy sauce and sugar, until the prawns are cooked. Add the cooked rice and stir through well, breaking up any clumps. Add the onion and the spring onion and incorporate well.

Season with white pepper, then turn on to plates and serve sprinkled with coriander and with the cucumber slices and lime wedges on the side.

Fried rice is one of the great comfort dishes – it’s filling, soothing and satisfying. I’ve used prawns in this version, but you can use slivered beef, pork, chicken, tofu, whatever. Feel free to pull back the chilli, too, if you like. You can always add extra heat later with some nam pla prik (fish sauce with chillies).

Three words of cooking caution: firstly, when you add the rice, you may be tempted to add more oil… Don’t do it! It will make the dish claggy. Keep breaking up the rice as you stir it through the wok, and work through it. Secondly, if you want to make this for more than two, by all means do. But don’t double up all the ingredients and throw it all into one wok. Make the dish once, wipe out your wok, and go again with the second batch. Thirdly, make sure the cooked rice is at room temperature when you make this. If it’s too warm and steamy, it will clump and stick. If it’s too cold, it will turn out as hard as a rock.

Abingdon’s big party

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Hundreds will be looking forward to enjoying the popular Fun and Music in the Park on 1st June

Abingdon’s popular Fun and Music in the Park returns to the historic Abbey Gardens on Saturday, 1st June with a variety of entertainment for the whole family.

The grounds will be full with rides, stalls, face painting, street food, live music and dance, bouncy inflatables and loads more free activities to keep you enthralled all day.

Fun in the park is a free walk-in event from 10.30am to 3pm and open to all.

It’s also a great opportunity to find out about some of the wide range of local societies and community groups in and around Abingdon and they amazing work they do and how you can get involved.

From 5pm until 10pm, Music in the Park takes over with some fab local bands including Jake in the Duke Box, Nevada, Fallen Angels, The Voodoo Penguins and Hope and Glory, taking to the stage.

Take along a picnic and enjoy dancing on the grass before a proms style concert by Abingdon Town Band accompanied by fireworks to make the evening finish in a very special way.

Music in the Park is entry via wristband only with sales online and over the counter at Roysse Court from 1st May. On this day too, there will be an early morning celebration of May Day in the Abbey Grounds.

Abingdon Town Council, which organises the event is reminding revellers to take all litter home with them after the fun ends.

For more information contact the council on 01235 522642 or visit

Big lunch: The perfect ingredients

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Add a handful of community spirit, a sprinkling of food and a big dose of fun to create The Big Lunch on 1st and 2nd June

ll together now, “Neighbours, everybody needs good neighbours…” – that’s got you humming away I’ll bet, but it’s very much the key idea behind The Big Lunch.

The scheme launched in 2009 by the Eden Project to bring people together celebrates its 10th anniversary this year and hopes to get even more involved in the simple act of fun and friendship through having lunch with your neighbours.

From that first event which began as one day for people to meet, greet, share, swap, sing, play and laugh, it grew to more than 9.3million people taking part in over 90,000 events all round the country in 2017.

More than just bringing communities together, The Big Lunch, this year on 1st and 2nd June, wants to improve the happiness and wellbeing of people by encouraging them to make positive changes where they live, working with each other and nature, towards a better future.

Whether that be with a few sandwiches in your front garden, a traditional street party or a big community bash, holding a Big Lunch is simple – the main ingredient is you and your neighbours.

The Eden Project has some top tips for planning your Big Lunch:

Choose a venue

Remember if you are planning a street party you’ll need to ask permission from your local council to have the road closed

Pick a date

Most lunches will be held the first weekend in June but you can choose one to suit you

Consider your invites

Think about who you want to ask

Plan the food

Keep it simple, don’t make too much work for yourself, perhaps make it a shared picnic, get everyone to bring a dish and contribute

Make some decorations

This can all be part of the fun of coming together, make bunting out of scraps of material, plastic bags and other bits and pieces

Play music

A simple idea is to get some background music going with a few radios on the same station or if you’re lucky enough to have a musician in your street make the most of it

Get local support

Don’t be afraid to ask local business for help with chairs or even prizes for a raffle and let your local media know too

Fundraise at your Big Lunch

Getting everyone together can be the ideal opportunity to help a cause close to your heart or a local asset such as a children’s play area

And after the event don’t forget to share your story…

There’s an opportunity to come together before that with The Big Lunch Community Walk from 17th to 31st May when a group of people will be visiting community projects in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England.

There may already be a lunch in your street or area but if not then “carpe diem” and start organising one today!

To find out how you can get involved in The Big Lunch, please visit Eden Project Communities

National BBQ week

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Get the grill out it’s time for national barbecue week

You know it’s summer when you can smell the distant whiff of charcoal burning and hear the cry of “burgers are ready”.

But barbequing has come such a long way since its traditional image of a group – usually men – stood huddled around a grill trying to keep it alight and judge the fine line between serving up raw sausages and burning them to a cinder.

Last year it is estimated the UK held around a staggering 135million BBQs; hooded BBQs are the most popular, closely followed by flat grills with rotary grills and smokers increasing in popularity.

When it comes to what we cook on them now it seems that while the humble burger and sausage are still favourites, our tastes are more eclectic now to include swordfish and more ‘exotic’ vegetables.

There are some great tips and advice available and whoever you ask will tell how they do it and what’s best but a few good ‘rules’ to follow are:

Marinated food tastes and grills better, as well as the taste, food is protected against the high grill temperatures. The longer you can marinate for the better but place food in a sealed bag in the fridge to improve the flavour

Temperature-wise, try the hand test – hold you hand around 6 inches from the grill, if you can hold it in place for around 2-3 minutes, that’s ideal

Don’t grill too quickly or on too high a heat – this will burn meat on the outside and leave it undercooked inside. The way to cook? Sear high and then low and slow

Safety first always – make sure your BBQ is well away from a hedge, fence or shrubbery; use only proper BBQ lighter fuel; if using a gas BBQ and it fails to light immediately, turn it off, leave for a while and try again.

Whatever you decide to cook on your BBQ, enjoy it and keep your fingers crossed for good weather!

Find our ideas and inspiration for barbecue sides here

May’s recipe: Egg custard tart

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Egg custard tart with roasted rhubarb

Artisan baker Paul Barlow-Heal, dessert devotee and founder of Cotswold Baking, shares special recipe for gluten free sweet pastry, roasted rhubarb and egg custard, making this gorgeous egg custard tart!

(Prep: 30 mins [see pastry] – Cooking: 55 mins – Makes: one large tart)

Gluten Free sweet pastry (always make 24hrs before needed)


• 500 grms gluten free plain flour ( I use doves)
• 225 grms diced unsalted butter
• 110 grms caster sugar
• 1.5 tsp xantham gum
• 2 large eggs
• 75 mls milk
• ¼ tsp Vanilla extract
• Good pinch sea salt
• 1 egg for sealing


1. Place flour, xantham gum, caster sugar and diced butter into a machine mixing bowl and blend until mix resembles fine breadcrumbs and butter is incorporated.

2. Whisk eggs and milk together with salt and vanilla. Pour onto the flour and butter and mix on slow speed until the dough comes together. The mix will seem wet, this is normal.

3. Transfer the dough to a container, cover with clingfilm and store overnight in the fridge

4. Remove the dough from the fridge and on a lightly floured surface gently knead the dough to make it pliable. Don’t worry about over working it. There is no gluten in it so this will not happen.  The enemy of gluten free pastry is warmth, because it is soft it will become very difficult to work with quite quickly.

5. Roll out the dough using gluten flour or rice flour as a dusting, and roll to about 3ml thick, then line your 10” loose bottom tart case making sure the pastry is tucked nicely into the edges of your tart case, and trim away the overlapping pastry, but don’t throw this away. You can reuse as it will not get tough.

6. Prick the bottom of the pastry case with a fork then place in the fridge for 20 mins to firm up.

7. Line the pastry case with a circle of baking parchment and baking beans ( I use uncooked rice) and bake in a pre-heated oven at 160 C for about 20 mins then remove the parchment and bake for a further 10 mins.

8. Gluten free pastry does not take on a golden colour like normal pastry, it does stay quite pale. Remove from the oven, leave to cool slightly then brush the inside of the case with some of the 1 remaining beaten egg ensuring it is nicely sealed then bake for a further 2/3 mins to cook the egg glaze. Leave to cool

roasted rhubarb


• 500 grms rhubarb
• 80 grms light soft brown sugar
• Zest of 1 lemon


1. Wash and trim the ends of the rhubarb, then cut into 2” lengths. Place the rhubarb in a bowl and add the zest and the sugar. Toss the ingredients together.

2. Place the rhubarb onto a shallow baking tray lined with two layers of baking parchment then cover with another piece of parchment and place in a preheated oven at 180c and cook for 15 mins.

3. Remove the parchment and check the rhubarb, it should be tender, but not mushy. If it needs more cooking, place back in the oven for a further 5 mins. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

egg custard


• 10 Egg Yolks
• 3 whole eggs
• 425 mls double cream
• 425 mls milk
• 160 grms caster sugar
• 1 vanilla pod
• Nutmeg for grating


1. Place the cream and milk with half the sugar and split vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring slowly to a boil.

2. Whisk the egg yolks and whole eggs together with the remaining sugar. When the cream mix has come to the boil pour a third onto the egg mix whilst whisking in, then finally add the rest of the liquid stirring until all incorporated.

3. Pass the mix through a fine sieve.

4. Place the tart case into a preheated oven at 140c for a couple of minutes then leaving the tart case in the oven slowly pour your egg mix into the case, taking care not to over fill the case or spill any.

5. Once the tartf case is completely full ,grate some fresh nutmeg on top and bake for about 30/40 mins, (this can vary depending on your oven.

6. If the mix starts to bubble around the edges turn down your oven until there is a slight wobble in the centre of the tart. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin on a wire rack.

7. When completely cool place the tart in the fridge and chill to set.

To serve, cut a nice slice of the tart and serve with some roasted rhubarb and its cooking liquor and a spoonful of full fat crème fraiche.


Reading beer & cider festival

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We’re here for the beer and much, much more at Reading Beer & Cider Festival

It’s summer – well the sun’s out at least or trying its best – and one of the best ways to celebrate is at the ever-popular Reading Beer & Cider Festival.

Located in Christchurch Meadows, its fully accessible and home to one of the largest beer festivals in the country from 2nd to 5th May.

Visitors can enjoy more than 450 real ales as well as a large range of ciders, perries, foreign beers, UK wines and mead, many from local breweries – a full list can be found online and during the festival a live beer list will offer an up-to-the-minute update on what’s available.

In addition to the great range of drinks there are a variety of food vendors – some newcomers and some returning favourites with everything from Cornish pasties, curry and kebabs and a hog roast to German bratwurst and olives and chocolates and truffles for the sweeter toothed.

It’s not all about the beer though – ok, it is mainly all about the beer – but starting on Thursday and throughout the festival there’ll be a range of traditional pub games to enjoy. Long alley skittles, shuttleboard, table skittles and toad in the hole are on offer for £1 a go or enjoy six for £5.

The outdoor games area will be back with great prizes to be won and if you’re feeling lucky have a go at the tombola for the chance to win beer and pub-oriented prizes.

Ticket prices vary depending on day and session required. Sunday is the family day and you can buy a season ticket for access to all festival sessions over the four days.

Posted by Reading Beer and Cider Festival on Saturday, 12 January 2019

For more details, the list of beers and to buy tickets visit the Reading Beer Festival website

Green party: April recipes

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Watercress & cheese scones

Ahead of Alresford Watercress Festival on Sunday, 19th May, The Watercress Company has teamed up with chef Keri Astill Frew. Watercress, which grows in the flowing spring waters of Hampshire and Dorset, is one of the healthiest plants known to man and has been revered since ancient times. It contains more than 50 vital vitamins and minerals and, gram for gram, even contains more calcium than milk, more folate than banana, more vitamin C than oranges and more vitamin E than broccoli. Watercress has been scientifically proven to help prevent cancer and other diseases.

(Prep: 10 mins – Cooking: 15-20 mins – Makes: 9)


100g watercress
• 225g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 1 tsp mustard powder (optional)
• A pinch of salt
• 50g butter, cubed
• 75g mature Cheddar cheese, grated
• 200ml buttermilk plus a little for brushing the tops
• A pinch or two of cayenne pepper


A tangy alternative to the traditional sweet scone, these are delicious with butter or perhaps topped with a cream cheese.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/fan 200°C/gas mark 7.

Reserve a few small sprigs of watercress (to decorate the tops) and finely chop the rest.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and mustard into a large bowl. Add the salt and butter; rub into dry ingredients with your fingers. Stir in watercress and two thirds of the cheese, mix well.

3. Make a well in the centre, add buttermilk and mix with a round bladed knife into soft dough.

4. Very lightly knead on a floured surface, then use a floured rolling pin to roll dough to a thickness of 2.5cm. Use a 6cm plain round cutter to press out circles of the dough, rerolling lightly, as necessary. The mix should make nine scones.

5. Place the scones on an oiled large baking sheet. Brush each with a little buttermilk (or milk), top with a sprig of watercress, then scatter the remaining cheese on. Dust with a pinch of cayenne if liked, then bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 mins or until golden on top. Leave to cool for five mins before serving warm.

Chocolate, orange & watercress brownies

…with chocolate ganache topping

Chocolate, orange and watercress may not seem the most obvious combination but by golly, it works! The sharp pepper of the watercress contrasts deliciously with the citrus flavours and bitterness of the chocolate to make a truly mouth-watering treat.

(Prep: 40 mins, Cooking: 40 mins, Makes: 16 squares)


• 300g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 200g unsalted butter
• Zest of one orange
• 350g caster sugar
• Four large eggs
• 100g plain flour, sieved
• 50g cocoa powder, sieved
• 50g watercress, finely chopped

For the topping:

• 250g good quality dark chocolate, chopped
• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp Cointreau (optional)


1. Pre-heat oven to 180°C and line a square tin with greaseproof paper. Place 200g chocolate, all the butter and orange zest in a heatproof bowl and microwave, full power for 30 seconds at a time, stirring and repeating. Be careful the chocolate doesn’t get too hot and burn.

2. Use an electric whisk, or stand mixer with whisk attachment, to beat the eggs and sugar until pale and fluffy. Leave the chocolate mix to cool for at least five minutes before stirring in, then mix in the flour and cocoa. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate and watercress, then pour into the tin. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes, using a skewer or knife to test it’s cooked. Remove and cool completely.

3. Bring the cream to the boil in a saucepan, being careful it doesn’t boil over. Remove from heat, then stir in the chocolate, stirring until melted and mixed. Finally, stir in the Cointreau if using.

4. Allow the ganache to cool a bit, then pour on the brownies in the tin. Smooth using a palette knife or spatula, then leave for 30 minutes before cutting into squares.

5. The brownies can be kept for three-to-five days in an airtight tin or frozen (up to three months).

Visit for more recipes. For details about Alresford Watercress Festival visit