Festive Family Feasts from Lavender and Lovage

Our series of festive indulgence continues with the help of Lavender and Lovage. This time we are back with the perfect warming winter dish; Beef & Barley Braise. Just the kind of hearty and welcoming meal to come back to after a cold winter's walk.

Beef & Barley Braise

Serves 4
Prep time 15 minutes
Cook time 2 hours
Total time 2 hours, 15 minutes


• 675g lean stewing beef (trimmed of fat and cubed)
• 2 tablespoons plain flour
• 25g butter
• Salt & black pepper
• 2 medium onions, peeled and chopped
• 2 - 4 garlic cloves, peeled and finely diced
• 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
• 225g chopped plum tomatoes
• 300ml beef stock ( made up with half water and beer or beef stock, made up with half water and wine)
• 50g pearl barley
• 225g self raising flour
• 1 teaspoon dried herbs (such as parsley, sage, thyme, majoram and rosemary)
• 110g shredded vegetable suet (Or, grated frozen butter)
• water, to mix
• 2 small turnips (peeled and finey diced)
• 2 small swedes (peeled and finey diced


Step 1: Toss the meat in the flour that has been seasoned with salt and pepper.
Fry the meat in the butter (over a medium to high heat) in a large roomy frying pan or skillet until browned, turning constantly. Remove the sealed browned meat and set aside.

Step 2: Add the onions, garlic and carrots (and optional vegetables) to the same pan and fry for 5 to 7 minutes or until golden and coloured.

Step 3: Put the meat in to a suitable sized oven proof casserole dish or dutch oven, such as a Le Creuset. Add the fried vegetables, tinned chopped tomatoes, the beef stock and the pearl barley - mix well, cover with a lid and place into a pre-heated oven 170C/325F/Gas Mark 3 for 2 hours.

Step 4: Twenty minutes before the end of the 2 hours cooking time, take the stew out of the oven, remove the lid and add the dumplings, drop them on top of the stew. Do NOT replace the lid, continue to bake uncovered for a further 20 to 25 minutes or until dumplings have risen and are crusty, crispy and golden brown.

Step 5: Serve immediately with steamed cabbage, greens and baby potatoes.


The dumplings are baked for the last 20 minutes on top of the stew and are deliciously crisp and golden, but still fluffy and light underneath, ready to enjoy:

  • Mix the flour with the salt, pepper and herbs in a mixing bowl
  • Stir in the suet or grated frozen butter and then add water VERY carefully and slowly - mixing in between, until the dumpling dough is soft, but not sticky
  • Shape the dough into 8 round dumplings, and drop them on top of the beef stew 20 minutes before the end of the cooking time

And of course, we couldn’t leave you wondering what to create for dessert….

Karen’s Microwave Mincemeat Christmas Pudding!

This is such an easy to make pudding, and one that Karen discovered around 30 years ago on a Stork margarine recipe leaflet! However, Karen prefers to always use butter, and although this does not need to be made weeks before Christmas, the taste and flavour is still rich with a lovely fruitiness. If you do prefer to make ahead of your gathering, just keep the pudding in the fridge until Christmas day, and then re-heat it in the microwave again. (Recipe makes one 2-pint pudding).


Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes


  • 300g/10ozs high quality mincemeat (home-made is always best)
  • 140g/5 oz currants
  • 225g/8 oz soft light brown sugar
  • 115g/4 oz self-raising flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 115g/4 oz fresh white bread crumbs
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons mixed spice
  • 2 free-range eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon black treacle
  • 4 tablespoons whisky, rum or brandy
  • 100mls stout or dark beer
  • 115g/4 oz frozen butter, grated or chopped to fine pieces
  • half a Bramley apple, cut into small pieces, no need to peel
  • Grated zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon


Step 1: Grease with butter and the line a 2 pint pudding basin with greaseproof paper.

Step 2: Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together in a bowl.

Step 3: Spoon the mixture into the greased bowl and cover it with some cling-film, with holes punctured to allow the steam to escape.

Step 4: Put the pudding bowl on an upturned plate and cook in microwave on medium power for 20 - 25 minutes. (Medium is about 500 watts.)

Step 5: Test it with a skewer - if it is done the skewer will come out clean. Leave to rest for 5 minutes.

Step 6: Carefully turn on to serving plate and decorate with holly. Serve with brandy butter, rum butter or rum sauce, custard or cream.

Step 7: NB: If making ahead – store covered in the fridge, and re-heat on Christmas Day for 3 to 4 minutes on high power. Allow to rest for 2 to 3 minutes before serving as before.

Step 8: Steaming instructions: This pudding can also be steamed; cover the pudding with greaseproof paper and then some foil, and tie a string handle around it. Steam over a pan of boiling water, making sure you top the water up regularly, for 3 hours.

Are you looking for more inspiration from Burleigh this Christmas? Click here for more inspo on gifting, festive tablescapes and decking the halls. Make Christmas magical this year, with Burleigh.


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