December 2011


Note: Use fir needles from the Fraser fir (Abies fraseri) or Norway Spruce (Picea abies.)

For the echinacea-infused rum:
15g fresh echinacea root (or 10g if using dried)
100ml white rum

For the hot toddy:
120ml fir needles
1 star anise
3 calamondin oranges or 1 lime, sliced
250ml boiling water
2 tbsp eucalyptus honey
Pinch of black pepper
1 shot (28ml) echinacea-infused rum (see ingredients above)
1 tsp unsalted butter

1. To make the echinacea-infused rum, combine the echinacea root and the rum and leave to steep in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks. Strain out the echinacea and bottle up. The mixture will keep in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.

2. To make the hot toddy, strip the needles from the fir branches until you have 120ml.

3. Put the needles in a teapot or bowl with the star anise and sliced calamondin oranges or lime, honey and black pepper. Pour over the freshly boiled water. Cover and leave to steep for 15 minutes.

4. Strain into a pan, and reheat on the stove.

5. Once reheated, add the echinacea-infused rum and butter until melted. Stir, then serve in a large cup.

USE: For adults, drink 1 cup only in the evening or before bedtime.
CAUTION: Contains alcohol. Consideration should be made when driving.
STORAGE: Best made fresh for use at once.


50g fresh rosehips
1 tsp Maldon salt
2 tsp dried ground ginger
1 tsp citric acid
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp glucose

1. Preheat the oven to 80°C (180°F), or its lowest setting.

2. Bash the rosehips in a mortar and pestle to break them up slightly. This will split the fruit – remove the seeds and discard.

3. Add the salt to the split hips and give them another quick bash with the pestle. The goal is just to break them up a little, not turn them into mush.

4. Scatter the rosehips on a baking tray and put in the oven at 80°C (180°F). Immediately turn off the heat and leave in the oven for half an hour or so until they are dried but not burnt.

5. Remove the dried hips from the oven and grind to a fine powder in a spice grinder. Mix with all other ingredients, then store in an airtight container.

USE: Add half of the sherbet to 1 litre of warm water. Stir and drink freely.
STORAGE: Provided it is completely dry, this will keep in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for up to 6 months.


2 medium dried chillies or ½ tsp ground chilli flakes
1 vanilla pod, split in half
1 whole allspice
3 tbsp eucalyptus honey
50g yerba mate (Ilex paraguariensis) tea leaves
1 litre boiling water
200g dark chocolate (85% cocoa solids)
3 tsp soft brown sugar
1 tsp cocoa powder

1. Mix the chilli, vanilla pod, allspice and honey together in a pan, then add the yerba mate and boiling water. Simmer until the liquid reduces to approximately 150ml – this will take about 45 minutes. Strain and leave to cool to room temperature.

2. Put the chocolate in a glass heat-proof bowl, and melt over a pan of hot water.

3. Stir the cooled mate mixture into the melted chocolate, then refrigerate until it takes on a fudge-like consistency (about 30 minutes).

4. Mix the soft brown sugar and cocoa powder in a shallow bowl. Scoop a teaspoon of the truffle mixture and roll into a small ball, then roll in the sugar/cocoa powder to coat. Place each coated truffle in a small paper case. Repeat until all the mixture is used.

5. Once reheated, add the echinacea-infused rum and butter until melted. Stir, then serve in a large cup.

USE: This one is mainly for adults, because of the caffeine, but you can let older children have one or two! Don’t eat more than 6 a day.
CAUTION: Contains caffeine.
STORAGE: Keep in the refrigerator. Eat within 1 week.


1 kg cranberries, fresh or frozen
1 Bramley apple, chopped
1 tsp mixed spice
100g unsalted butter
100ml maple syrup
300g soft brown sugar
3 tbsp dark rum or Cointreau
100g candied orange peel
Flour, for dusting
2 rolls ready-made shortcrust pastry
Icing sugar, to dredge

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

2. Distribute the cranberries and chopped apple between two roasting tins. Sprinkle over the mixed spice and fleck with the butter. Drizzle the maple syrup over. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until the fruit is slightly shrunken with a golden tan.

3. Remove the roasted cranberries from the oven and place in a bowl. Mix in the sugar, rum or Cointreau and candied orange peel.

4. Sprinkle flour onto a work surface and roll out the pastry to a thickness of about 3mm. Using a 7cm cookie-cutter, cut out discs of pastry and place into a greased mince pie tin. Prick the base of each pie with a fork and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven, and spoon the cranberry filling into each pastry cup. Return to the oven to cook for another 5 minutes.
6. Leave the pies to cool, then dredge with icing sugar.

USE: Eat 1 or 2 pies a day.
STORAGE: Store in an airtight container and eat within 1 week.


500ml whole milk
2 bay leaves
36 threads / 3 pinches saffron
2 strips orange rind
3 tbsp golden syrup
200ml single cream
3 eggs
150ml white rum

Grated fresh nutmeg, to serve

1. Pour the milk, bay leaves, saffron, orange rind, golden syrup and cream into a pan, and simmer gently for 10 minutes. Strain through a sieve.
2. Break the eggs into a glass heat-proof bowl, then slowly whisk in the hot milk mixture.
3. Place the bowl above a pan of boiling water and heat gently, stirring, until the mixture thickens to a custardy consistency. Then take it straight off the heat.
4. Whisk in the rum, then pour the mixture into a jug. Cool, then leave to stand in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours before serving.
5. Serve over ice with grated nutmeg.

USE: Drink no more than 1 wineglass a day.
CAUTION: Contains alcohol.
STORAGE: Keep in the refrigerator. Will last for 2 weeks.


The fragrance of Christmas – orange, cloves and exotic myrrh – in a bottle. This luxury body oil makes the most of myrrh’s anti-inflammatory properties: apply liberally to moisturize and nourish dry skin, or use as a sweet-smelling massage lotion.

Peel of 5 oranges or tangerines
4 tbsp cloves
400ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp myrrh resin

1. Put the orange peel, cloves and sunflower oil into a blender and whizz until smooth.
2. Pour the mixture into a glass heatproof bowl and place over a pan of boiling water. Add the myrrh, then cover and leave to simmer for 1 hour, making sure the pan does not boil dry.
3. Take off the heat and leave to cool. Strain the mixture and bottle up.

USE: Apply as needed to dry skin, or use for massage.

STORAGE: Will keep in a dark cool place for up to 3 months.