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Christmas Blog Party: Harri Atkins

This author malarkey can sometimes feel like quite a lonesome experience so it's always a real joy to meet other local writers. I met the lovely Harri last month at the launch for 'Second Helpings' through a mutual friend. Like me, her debut novel, 'Inside The Cuckoo's Nest' was published earlier in the year. It's a thrilling, taut tale of the dysfunctional O'Rourke family - a really well-crafted novel that I'd truly recommend you put on your Christmas wish lists. Very happy to welcome Harri here today....

More Turkey with your Stuffing, Sir?

Years ago, my Grandmother worked as a waitress in the House of Commons, and when serving the more difficult MPs their roast of the day, she used to enquire ‘Would Sir like stuffing?’ This has now become a long-standing quip, always delivered at some stage during our family’s Sunday roast. So perhaps the irony wouldn’t be lost on my Nanna’s ‘Cor blimey’ Cockney soul, that the shiniest of any Christmas star, for our family, is in fact the gingerbread stuffing I serve with our turkey on Christmas day.

Admittedly this dish is a recent tradition as far as traditions go. So not a dish that I can claim has been passed down lovingly through the generations, hand written, dog eared and with smears of suet and raisins. But one I have adapted from 'Nigella Lawson’s Christmas' cook book. It also seemed fitting for this blog that there should be a nod to the original domestic goddess who introduced us to Maldon salt, lavender cupcakes and for me, the phenomenon of larder envy.

But now to the stuffing. Nothing shouts ‘holidays are coming’ more loudly than this dish cooking in your oven. It has become such a show stopper on the big day the family joke is now ‘more turkey with your stuffing?’ So, enjoy hot with all the trimmings, next day with bubble and squeak, but most importantly with family and friends and lashings of good cheer.

Merry Christmas

Harri

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Gingerbread Stuffing

Serves 8 – 10

500g finely chopped red onions

2 finely chopped red apples

45g of butter

10ml of vegetable oil

500g of streaky bacon

Zest of two oranges

2 x 400g of gingerbread loaves ( I use Mcvities Jamaica ginger cake) loosely crumbled.

2 eggs beaten

Approx. ½ teaspoon of freshly ground pepper

  1. Put the butter and oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and fry the chopped oinions and apples until soft (aprox 10 – 15 minutes)

  2. Finely chop the bacon and add this to the softenend onion and apple mixture.Cook everything, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.

  3. Add the zest of the oranges.

  4. Take the pan of the heat and let it cool before adding the gingerbread crumbs.If you add it too soon the gingerbread dissolves so, do make sure the mixture is cool.

  5. Add the eggs and pepper.

  6. At this stage, you can stuff the cavity of your bird with it but I prefer to serve it in its own dish.In this case use a 25 cm x 9cm x 7cm deep dish or most average sized loaf tins will do.

  7. Bake in a hot oven (200 degrees) for 45 minutes. If it starts to catch, cover with foil.

  8. Let the stuffing rest for 10 minutes before serving.

  9. This dish also freezes well, so can be made in advance, just defrost thoroughly before cooking.

I love this Harri! Thanks for contributing! Have a fab Xmas!! xx

About the Author:

Harri Atkins spent many years working in corporate training and development, before qualifying as a psychotherapist and setting up her practice.It was during a workshop as a trainee that she rediscovered her love of creative writing.

Harri lives in Surrey with her husband and two children. Inside the Cuckoo’s Nest is her first novel, she is currently working on her second.

Follow Harri on social media;

Facebook: Harri Atkins Author

Twitter: @harriatkins

About Inside the Cuckoo’s Nest:

Brendan O’Rourke grew up feeling he was different from his family. So, when he meets the love of his life he’s determined to keep his past and present as far apart as possible.

However, the O’Rourke’s are a formidable force that exist against a backdrop of petty crime, family feuds and violence.

Despite Brendan’s best intentions, his family has other plans…plans that involve using any means to get what they want.

Can Brendan keep his past hidden in order to protect the future he’s always wanted?

Inside The Cuckoo’s Nest is available from Amazon here.

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