Whipped & Charred: The Launch Of A Cook Book

If a new cook book could be released at the perfect time of year, it would be Whipped & Charred. A collection of cosy homely recipes, from the Thomas Curtis, Head Chef of ‘The Best Traditional Pub in Oxfordshire’, the White Heart, Witney. Thomas’ recipes reflect his family roots and celebrate really good food, but in an accessible way, that home cooks can enjoy too. He describes the book in his own words:

“I have lovingly put this book together as a tribute to my late father, Ian Curtis, who sadly passed away at Christmas in 2014. It is full of rich, homely content and a few memories and insights into my personal life and time working as a chef,” he says.

A wonderful idea of sharing homely and comforting recipes, whilst supporting and raising awareness of two charities; the British Heart Foundation; a charity which deals with one of the UKs biggest killers, heart disease; and secondly MIND, a charity for better mental health.

Choosing a favourite recipe from the book which includes so many favourite pub classics such as steak and onion pot pie, herby sausage rolls and an indulgent cauliflower cheese would be an almost impossible task. At this time of year, I could happily cook and enjoy one of the book’s recipes every evening! One recipe that really caught my eye though was the Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread, which sounds like a lovely twist on a traditional classic. Thomas has very kindly shared the recipe:

Earl Grey panna cotta with lavender shortbread and fresh raspberries

Preparation time: 4 hours 10 minutes (including cooling time) | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serves 6

A very quirky twist on tea and biscuits. We have substituted a small amount of the full fat milk for evaporated milk to really bring out a lovely malty flavour that goes so well with tea.


100g unsalted butter
50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
160g plain flour
1 tbsp lavender flowers
500ml full fat milk
100ml evaporated milk
60g caster sugar
6 Earl Grey teabags
3 sheets leaf gelatine
36 fresh raspberries


Preheat the oven to 190°c/170°c fan.

Beat the butter and 50g sugar together in a mixing bowl, until smooth.

Fold in the flour and lavender flowers to get a smooth and soft dough. Turn on to a work surface and gently roll out until the dough is 1cm thick.

Cut into 12 fingers and place onto a baking tray. Prick with a fork and sprinkle with caster sugar, chill and rest in the fridge for 20 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until a pale golden brown colour. Set aside to cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container until ready to serve.
  • In a heavy based saucepan heat up the full fat milk, evaporated milk and 60g caster sugar over a medium high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar until it just comes to the boil. Turn off the heat and add the tea bags. Allow to infuse for 20 minutes then remove the teabags, giving them a little squeeze to get the maximum flavour.
    Place the gelatine sheets into a bowl of cold water for 5 minutes until they are soft and pliable.
  • Take them from the bowl and squeeze away any excess water, then gently stir into the warm milk and tea mixture until the gelatine fully dissolves.
  • Pour the mixture into six 100ml pudding moulds and place in the fridge to set for at least 4 hours.
    To serve, fill a shallow dish with very hot water and submerge each panna cotta in for a few seconds to loosen up. Turn each one out onto the centre of a serving dish and garnish each with six fresh raspberries and two lavender biscuits.

I think this recipe would be so much fun to make for a family gathering, and it looks pretty impressive…plus anything involving tea and biscuits has to be a winner as far as I’m concerned!

Whipped and Charred retails at £20 and to ensure your money goes towards a good cause, buy a copy from the man himself at [email protected] or pop into the restaurant. It will be also be available to purchase from Amazon, book shops including Waterstones and online from www.mezepublishing.co.uk.


This post is not sponsored, but I am always delighted to support exciting local businesses and good causes


BEAR’s Paws Outdoors – Summer Holiday Garden Games

How was your summer? The holidays here just seemed to whizz by in a happy blur this year! A lot of the summer break was grey and rainy, but luckily the August bank holiday was just perfect gorgeous weather – much needed before the return to school (and the start of proper school for Joe!) As always, we have been getting outdoors as much as possible and making the most of the full range of all the summer weather.

We were recently sent some fun wildlife adventure kits by BEAR, who are teaming up with Wildlife Trusts again this year to work together with the aim of getting more ‘Paws Outdoors’, or little ones outside in the wild! With one activity for every letter of the alphabet there was plenty to keep my little bear cubs busy!

The clear first choice for both of them was the apple game! We carefully threaded string through an apple and attached it to our washing line! Doesn’t this sound like basis of a good old-fashioned summer holiday game? Using a stopwatch to ensure fairness, Mia and Joe took it in turns to see who could take the most bites of the apple. Much more difficult than they had both expected, and almost impossible once they got the giggles!

Joe’s little face says it all, as he turned around and got bumped on the head by an apple. They played the game for ages, which was lovely to see. It can be a bit of battle some days to persuade them outdoors and away from the screens of tv and computer games. Especially over the summer holidays it’s always great for them to have some new games and plenty of outdoors time.

You might see the passion flower in our garden blooming in the background of some of the pictures. I couldn’t resist sharing a close up, as it really is glorious. Such a wonderful plant to have inherited with our new garden and quite a surprise when it started growing in early summer.

As well as a few bites of apple from the game, Mia and Joe always rely on BEAR’s fruity snacks for a healthy tummy-filler between meals. After all of that running around the garden their choice was Arctic Paws in raspberry and blueberry flavour. All BEAR Paws are made with 100% pure fruit and are baked into delicious (and very cute!) paw shapes. With no-added nonsense, no added sugars or preservatives they are an excellent healthy option.

Mia and Joe are always changing their minds about which are their favourite BEAR Paw flavours – they love them all, but I think their current winners are the Dino Paws in strawberry and apple flavour for Joe and the Safari Paws in mango and strawberry flavour for Mia! There is a good range of BEAR Paw flavours, which also includes Jungle Paws (apple and blackcurrant) as well as the Arctic Paws they are snacking through here!

Always up for a nature challenge, Joe chose another activity to follow the apple game. Using a collection of leaves, pebbles, sticks and other findings from the garden, he made some lovely rubbings with crayons onto white paper. Having made something similar at nursery a few weeks ago, he decided he was quite the expert at this, and was bossing Mia around (for a change!) with instructions on how to colour the leaves and paper properly.

They both got really involved with the outdoor activities in the wildlife adventure kits. Although our fun afternoon was eventually rained off, they happily retreated indoors with their leaf pictures to stick on the kitchen fridge, and Wildlife Trust reward stickers for doing so well!

The fun alphabet BEAR cards can be collected in every multipack of BEAR Paws. Perfect for little ones making up their own alphabet-themed outdoor activities.

For more BEAR fun take a look at:


BEAR Nibbles on Facebook


As part of the BEAR Happy by Nature team we are happy to work with them on this collaborative post.