Saturday, 31 October 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Bread Sauce
Cranberry Sauce

Bread Sauce

1 pint milk
1 large onion, studded with 8 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 bay leaf
100g white breadcrumbs
1tbsp butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 tbsp double cream

Put the milk in a saucepan with the clove studded onion, peppercorns and bay leaf. Bring very slowly to boiling point, then remove from the heat and set aside for 30 minutes.

Strain the milk into a bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs and butter, season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer on a very gentle heat for 10 minutes, add a good grating of nutmeg and just before you serve, add the cream.

Cranberry Sauce

225g cranberries
150g granulated sugar

Put the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan, add 125ml of water. Stir over a gentle heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the cranberries and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the cranberries are tender and beginning to burst. Spoon into a bowl and leave to cool.


For a richer sauce, add 1 tbsp ruby port before cooling.

Friday, 30 October 2009

Carrot Coriander and Parsley Soup
with Cheese Straws

450g carrots, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp crushed Coriander seeds
1 tsp ground Coriander
900ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp chopped flat leaf Parsley
Flat leaf Parsley leaves to decorate

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the onion and garlic until softened. Add the carrots and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the crushed Coriander seeds and ground Coriander, cook for a further 2 minutes. Pour in the vegetable stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Puree the soup with a blender or processor, then season with salt and pepper. Reheat gently and pour into warmed bowls. Garnish with Parsley leaves and serve with cheese straws.

Cheese Straws

Preheat the oven to200C/400F/gas 6

125g ready made puff pastry
1 egg yolk
50g medium strength Cheddar, finely grated
25g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)

On a lightly floured surface roll out the pastry to 1/8" thick. Brush the pastry with egg yolk, sprinkle with the grated cheeses, press the cheese onto the pastry. Cut into strips 10cm long and 1cm wide. Twist each strip to form a coil. Place the strips on a greased baking tray, sprinkle over sesame seeds if using them. Bake for 6 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.

Thursday, 29 October 2009

A Sweet Treat For Halloween

Chocolate Fudge

50g butter
100g granulated sugar
50g dark chocolate
1 large tin condensed milk
2 tbsp golden syrup
75g fondant icing

Put butter, sugar, condensed milk, chocolate and syrup in a large saucepan and melt gently over a low heat, stirring until sugar has dissolved.

Bring to the boil and boil gently, stirring constantly until it reaches soft ball stage 116C/240F.
(Test for soft ball stage by dropping a teaspoonful of the mixture into a cup of cold water, remove it and press between forefinger and thumb, it should feel like a soft ball).

Remove the pan from the heat and mix in fondant , stir gently until melted. Pour into a buttered 18cm tin.

Cut into cubes when cold.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Seasonal Recipes


Originally posted early October but definitely worth another look with the addition of a pumpkin curry recipe.

With Autumn comes the pumpkin season and this great, fat, spherical gem deserves more than being sculpted into a lantern for Halloween. You will find there is a lot of mileage in one modestly priced pumpkin.

Don't throw away the seeds. Clean them and lay them on an oiled baking tray, in a single layer, sprinkle with salt and roast for 20-25 minutes, they can be scattered on top of your soup, added to salads, eaten as healthy snacks or stored in an airtight container to use at a later date.

After the flesh has been scooped out , why not use it for some of these tempting dishes.

Pumpkin and Apple Soup with Pumpkin Crisps V
Pumpkin Risotto V
Pasta Pumpkin and Bacon with Pumpkin Sauce
Pumpkin Curry V

Pumpkin and Apple Soup


2 onions, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
500g Pumpkin
2 cooking apples, peeled, cored and sliced
300ml dry cider
570ml vegetable stock
2 tbsp olive oil
Freshly grated nutmeg

For the Pumpkin crisps

Thin shavings of Pumpkin
Vegetable oil for frying

Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan and add the onions and garlic. Fry for 2 minutes to soften. Add the pumpkin and apple and fry for a further 5 minutes, stirring continuously. Add the cider and cook for 1 minute. Add the vegetable stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 minutes.

Cool the soup down a little before blending. Return the soup to the pan add freshly grated nutmeg and heat through without boiling.

Fry the Pumpkin shaving in hot vegetable oil until golden, drain onto kitchen paper and serve on top of the soup.

Pumpkin Risotto

1 large Pumpkin, quartered
3tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 stick celery, finely chopped
400g risotto rice
1.5 Lt's vegetable stock
150g grated Parmesan
60g butter
1 tbsp finely chopped sage leaves

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6

Drizzle the Pumpkin quarters with 1 tbsp olive oil and roast in the oven for 45 minutes until soft. (This will give the soup a nice nutty flavour). Scoop out the flesh, season with salt and pepper and set aside.

Add 2 tbsp olive oil to a heated pan and sweat the onions, garlic and celery for 1-2 minutes, add a pinch of salt then the risotto rice, stir for 1 minute.

Add the stock and cooked, chopped Pumpkin and keep stirring for 12-15 minutes.

Test the rice by squeezing a grain between your thumb and index finger, if there is a white line running through the centre of the grain, it is ready.

Add the grated Parmesan, butter and Sage, stir gently to combine.

Rest the risotto for a couple of minutes and serve in warm bowls.

Pasta Pumpkin and Bacon with Pumpkin Sauce


500g Macaroni
200g smoked bacon lardons
200g Pumpkin, diced
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil

For the sauce

2 shallots, chopped
30g butter
75ml sherry
200ml sweet white wine
1 garlic clove, chopped
250ml vegetable stock
50ml double cream
1/2 tsp Cayenne pepper
2 sage leaves, finely chopped
500g Pumpkin, roughly chopped

To make the sauce

Melt the butter and soften the onion and garlic, add the chopped Pumpkin and cook for 5 minutes to soften the Pumpkin. Remove the vegetables and de-glaze the pan with the sherry and wine. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring continually.

Add the stock and return the vegetables to the pan, add the chopped Sage, cook for 20 minutes until the liquid is reduced by half.

Cook the Macaroni, drain and set aside

Fry the bacon, onion and diced Pumpkin in olive oil until soft.

Add the bacon mixture and cooked Macaroni to the sauce, stir to combine.

Serve with a crispy green salad dressed with a little extra virgin olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Tip: If you are roasting your Pumpkin seeds to use as snacks try replacing the salt with garlic salt or adding Cayenne pepper or herbs.

Pumpkin Curry V


500g pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1" root ginger, peeled and grated
1 green chilli, deseeded and chopped
2 tsp ground Coriander
1 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp ground Cumin
1 dessertspoon Garam Masala
1 400g tin coconut milk
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Coriander leaves and dessicated coconut to garnish

Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan, over a moderate heat. Add the onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add ginger and chilli and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring continuously add all the spices except Garam Masala and cook for 1 minute. Add the pumpkin and stir to coat.
Pour over the coconut milk, turn down the heat and simmer, without a lid until the pumpkin is tender, taste and season, turn off the heat and sprinkle over the Garam Masala leave to stand for 5 minutes. Serve on a bed of brown rice, garnished with coriander leaves and a little dessicated coconut.


An ideal supper for bonfire night or Halloween. Make it the night before and the flavours will really come through. Leave the Garam Masala and garnishes until just before serving.

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Toad in the Hole
with Onion Gravy

This has got to be one of the most inexpensive comfort foods and a real treat for a midweek meal.

What could be nicer on a wet miserable day than a piping hot Toad in the hole, straight from the oven, served with onion gravy, creamy mashed potatoes and peas?


For the batter

75g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
75ml milk
55ml cold water
1 egg

Sift the flour and salt and pepper into a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and break in the egg. Mix the water and milk together and add a little to the flour and egg. Beat together, adding a little milk at a time until you have a smooth batter.

500g good quality pork sausages

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/gas 7

Heat 1 tsp oil in a roasting tin (23x15cm) over the hob, add the sausages and brown them at a high heat. When the tin is very hot, almost smoking, add the batter and put straight into the oven. Cook for 30 minutes until puffy and golden.

For the onion gravy

200g onions, sliced
Good pinch of sugar
1 heaped dessertspoon plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 tsp mustard powder
50ml red wine
375ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp olive oil

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan, over a medium heat, add the onions and sugar and fry until beginning to caramelise. Stir in the flour and mustard powder and cook for 1 minute. Add the red wine and stock, season with salt and pepper and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes.

Serve the toad in the hole straight from the oven with mashed potato, peas and onion gravy.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Thai-Style Chicken Noodle Soup

Try this warming chicken noodle soup, its a perfect meal for the long autumnal days.

Serves 4

225g dried egg noodles
2 tsp sesame oil
225 g boned chicken breast
2 stalks lemongrass
1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp crushed garlic
1.2 lts chicken stock
400 ml tinned coconut milk
2 small chillies. deseeded and finely sliced
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp sugar
2tsp Thai green curry paste
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp lime juice

Coriander leaves to garnish

Cook the noodles, drain and plunge into cold water. Drain and toss them in sesame oil. Shred the chicken. Crush the white part of the lemongrass with the edge of a knife and cut into 3 inch pieces. Heat a large pot over a high heat, add the groundnut oil then the onion, garlic and lemongrass and stir fry for a few minutes. Stir in the stock and coconut milk and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the chicken, fish sauce, soy sauce, sugar curry paste, salt and pepper. Add the noodles, cover and cook for another 5 minutes. Remove the lemongrass, stir in the lime juice.

Serve in warm bowls and garnish with Coriander leaves.

Sunday, 25 October 2009

Dundee Cake

200g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
150g butter
150g caster sugar
4 eggs, beaten
100g glace cherries, quartered
150g currants
150g sultanas
100g seedless raisins
50g chopped mixed peel
50g ground almonds
grated rind of 1 lemon
50g split almonds

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4

Line and grease an 18cm round cake tin. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl cream the butter and sugar till pale, beat in the eggs and fold the flour mixture, cherries, dried fruit, peel and ground almonds into the creamed mixture. Add the lemon rind and mix well.

Spoon into the prepared tin and make a slight hollow in the centre. Bake for 20 minutes, by which time the hollow should have filled in. Arrange the split almonds on top.

Bake the cake for a further 40-45 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 160C/325F gas 3 and bake for 1 hour more. Cool on a wire rack.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Mushroom Fritters V

Mushrooms must be the most versatile of foods and almost every country include them in their cuisine in some form or other.

Although we can now eat cultivated mushrooms all year round I still think Autumn mushrooms taste the best, especially local field mushrooms (if you can get them).

Mushroom fritters can be eaten as a starter, an accompaniment to a main course or for a simple supper, with poached eggs (my personal favourite).


115g plain flour
Pinch of salt
75ml lukewarm water
30ml olive oil
1 egg white
225g large mushrooms
oil for frying


Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and pour in the olive oil. Mix to a smooth batter. Let it stand for an hour or two if you can. Just before using, fold in a stiffly beaten egg white.

Dip the mushrooms in the batter and fry in very hot oil until puffy and golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

Serve as a starter with Tartare sauce.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Vintage Recipe

As it was written in the 1930 s

Mint Sauce

1 teaspoon sugar
1 dessertspoon boiling water
3 tablespoons of mint
Up to 6 tablespoons vinegar

Put the sugar in a sauce boat and add the boiling water to dissolve the sugar, let it cool then add the finely chopped mint. Mix together and add enough vinegar to dilute the taste. It is then ready to serve.
Note: Mint sauce can also be made in the following way. Chop a little mint finely add a little sugar to taste and add the juice of a lemon instead of vinegar.

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Chicken and Sage Wrapped in Prosciuttio
With Jacket Potato and Salad


4 chicken breasts
4 fresh sage leaves
4 slices Prosciuttio ham
25g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil


Slightly flatten the chicken breasts between cling film, using a rolling pin. Place 1/4 of the butter and 1 sage leaf inside each chicken breast, lightly season, roll up and wrap in the Prosciuttio ham, sealing with a cocktail stick.

Preheat the oven to 180C/355F/gas4

Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan and sear the chicken on all sides. Transfer to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with Jacket potato and a crisp green salad.

Fresh Lemon Curd

This will keep in the fridge for 1 week and can be used for sponge cakes, sandwiches and believe it or not, 1 tbsp added to chicken stir fry at the end of cooking is delicious.


Grated rind and juice of 1 large lemon
75g caster sugar
2 large eggs
50g unsalted butter

Place the grated rind and sugar in a bowl. In another bowl whisk the lemon juice with the eggs, then pour this mixture over the sugar. Add the butter cut into little pieces, and place the bowl over a pan of barely simmering water. Stir frequently until thickened, about 20 minutes. Then cool the curd and use it to sandwich together a lemon sponge cake

Monday, 19 October 2009

Vintage Recipe

As it was written in 1926

Yorkshire Rarebit

1/4 lb ham or bacon
2 eggs
Pepper and salt
1/2 lb shortcrust

Line a dinner plate with shortcrust, placing a narrow strip of pastry round the edge.

Cut the bacon up and spread over the pastry.

Beat the egg, add seasoning and pour over the bacon.

Damp the edges and cover with a round of pastry.

Bake for 10 minutes in a quick oven and then remove to a cooler part of the oven to finish, for about half an hour.

Note,- May be eaten hot or cold.
Can be cooked without the top layer of pastry.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Noisettes of Lamb
with Thyme and Red Wine Sauce
and Shallots


2 large lamb fillets
Groundnut oil for brushing
6 Thyme sprigs
25g butter
30ml olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
150ml red wine
300ml lamb stock
12 shallots, peeled

Rub the lamb fillets with groundnut oil and Thyme. Place in a shallow dish and leave to marinate for 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4

Heat half of the butter and oil in a heavy based frying pan. Add the shallots and pan fry until golden remove from the pan and keep hot in the oven. Lightly season the lamb and fry, turning frequently, for 5-6 minutes. Remove from the pan and lower the oven temperature to 140C/275F/ gas 1. Rest the meat in the oven while you make the sauce.

Deglaze the pan with the red wine, add the Thyme sprigs. Add the lamb stock and reduce until syrupy. Stir in the remaining butter and strain through a fine sieve.

To serve: Cut the lamb into noisettes (thick horizontal slices) the meat should be pink inside. Spoon the sauce around the lamb, top with shallots and serve with roast or mashed potatoes and glazed carrots.

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Mince Pies

Makes 12


For the pastry

250g plain flour
40g chilled white margarine
90g chilled butter
2 tbsp icing sugar
cold water to mix

1 jar luxury mincemeat


Rub the fats into the flour using your fingertips. Stir in the icing sugar and bind together with a little cold water to form a medium firm dough. Rest the pastry in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Roll out the pastry to the thickness of a pound coin. Press out pastry discs, using a 3" round cutter. Line a bun tin with the circles of pastry, fill with approx 1 dessertspoon of mincemeat, brush the edges with a little milk and place on the lid on top. Gently press down the edges to seal.

Prick the centre of each pie with a fork and brush with milk.

Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and dust with icing sugar.

When cool store in an airtight container.

To freeze: Open freeze on a tray, when firm place the pies in a poly box.
Defrost at room temperature and warm in a preheated moderate oven for 5 minutes.

Serve with brandy butter or whipped cream.

Before filling, mix 2 tbsp brandy or whisky into the mincemeat and stir to combine.

Friday, 16 October 2009

Seasonal Recipe of the Week

Stir-fried Curly Kale
with Garlic and Chilli

Kale has become fashionable as a 'superfood' and it's nutritional value is astounding. It's packed with beta-carotene, folate and vitamin C, in fact 17 times more vitamin C than carrots and 4 times more than spinach.

Stir-frying or steaming are ideal ways to keep the nutrients.


200g curly kale
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red chilli, deseeded and sliced thinly
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a wok until very hot, add the kale and stir-fry for around 6 minutes, add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper and serve.

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Parsnip and Carrot Soup
with Spicy Croutons

Serves 4-6


1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
1 onion, chopped
1 stick celery, chopped
350g carrots
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped
1.2 litres vegetable stock
Pinch of sugar
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Soured cream to serve

Spicy Croutons

4 slices seeded brown bread
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp curry paste


Heat the oil and butter in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook for 10 minutes until tender. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.

Add the parsnips, stock and sugar, season well and bring to the boil. Simmer with the lid half on for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Switch off the heat and cool for 5 minutes before blending till smooth. Place the blended soup back in the pan, check the seasoning, and heat very gently, being careful not to boil it.

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

Mix the curry paste into the oil. Cube the bread, add to the oil mixture and mix well. Place the croutons on a large baking tray and spread them out. Bake for 10 minutes until golden and crisp.
Drain the croutons on kitchen paper.

Serve the soup in warm bowls with a drizzle of soured cream and scatter some croutons over.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Yorkshire Cheese Tarts
with Apple


200g shortcrust pastry
50g butter, softened
225g cottage cheese
Pinch of salt
4 eating apples, peeled, cored and cut into slices
125g sugar
25g cake crumbs
50g currants
Grated rind of 1/2 lemon
3 egg-yolks

For the topping

1tbsp butter, melted
1 tbsp sugar


Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas 6

Line 24 tartlet tins with pastry.

Cream the butter.

Sieve cottage cheese into a large bowl.

Add salt, sugar, cake crumbs, currants and lemon rind and mix well. Add the creamed butter.

Beat the egg yolks and mix well into the cheese mixture.

Spoon the mixture into pastry cases and top with apple slices, brush with melted butter and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve warm or cold.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Catalan Fish Stew

The traditional zarzuela de mariscos a la catalana, (Catalan fish stew), a wonderful, colourful stew full of fish and seafood, cooked in white wine, sherry vinegar, tomatoes, fresh herbs, garlic, chilli and toasted almonds. Best eaten with lots of crusty bread to mop all the delicious juices.


Serves 6

6 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp smoked Paprika
1 tbsp fresh Thyme leaves
1 tsp Saffron strands
3 Bay leaves
200g chorizo, chopped
3 large tomatoes
75ml fish stock
250ml white wine
A dash of sherry vinegar
500g mussels, cleaned
2 squid tubes, cleaned and cut into rings
750g cod or other white fish
100g toasted almonds, ground


Heat the olive oil in a large pan and saute the garlic, onion, chilli and chorizo for a few minutes.

Add the Paprika, Thyme, Saffron, Bay leaves and tomatoes and cook until the sauce is thickened.

Add the fish stock, white wine and vinegar and bring to a simmer. Add the mussels and cook until they all open, discarding any that have not opened.

Add the squid and fish to the stew. Stir in the almonds. Cook gently for 5-6 minutes until the squid is tender and the fish is cooked through.

Serve immediately with crusty bread.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Spinach and Bacon Flan
with Goats Cheese


175g shortcrust pastry
450g fresh spinach
115g lean bacon, cooked and chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs
4 tbsp double cream
115g goats cheese

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/gas 5


Line a flan tin with the shortcrust pastry, slightly overlapping the edge of the tin.

Blanch the spinach in boiling water for 1 minute, drain well and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Put a layer of bacon at the bottom of the flan tin followed by a layer of spinach.

Beat the eggs with the cream and pour the mixture over the spinach.

Layer the top with thin slices of goats cheese.

Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Serve warm.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Teatime Crumpets

Just the thing for Sunday teatime, warm crumpets with butter and jam or grated cheddar cheese and ham. Also great made into a small pizza with tomato, ham and cheese.


200g strong white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 sachet easy blend yeast
100ml milk
Pinch of bicarbonate of soda
oil for frying

Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl. Stir in the yeast and make a well in the centre. Heat the milk with 125ml of water until hand hot. Pour the mixture into the dry ingredients. Beat to make a smooth batter. Cover with cling film and leave in a warm place for 45 minutes.

Dissolve the bicarb in 45ml warm water. Beat into the batter. Heat a griddle over a medium heat, then grease it when hot.

Place 1 tbsp at a time of batter onto the griddle pan, cook until the bubbles have burst and the top is set. Turn the crumpets over.

Cook for 2-3 minutes until firm but barely coloured. Cool on a wire rack and serve toasted.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Vintage Recipe

As it was written in 1926

Brandy Wafers

Vintage recipes are really good fun to try, some surprise you with their excellent results and others you have to modify to make them edible and retain good health.

I didn't quite understand why the following recipe was called Brandy Wafers as it contained no brandy. but I have tried them and was surprised how good they were. A bit like brandy snaps (without the brandy) and great with ice cream.

1/4lb sugar
1/4lb syrup
3oz flour
2oz butter

Put butter, sugar and syrup in a dish to warm in the oven.

Mix flour slowly into it.

Drop in small pieces onto a baking sheet and bake in a slow oven until firm.

Remove from tin with a knife and twist into any shape desired while hot.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Orange Muffins


280g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2-3 tsp grated orange zest
85-110g caster sugar
1 egg
juice of 2 oranges, add water to make up to 250ml
90ml vegetable oil

Preheat oven to 190C/375F/ gas 5

Add the dry ingredients to a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, orange juice with added water, orange zest and oil.

Pour all the wet mixture into the bowl containing the dry ingredients. Stir to combine but don't mix too much the mixture should be quite lumpy.

Bake in muffin cases or a muffin tin for 20-25 minutes until lightly browned.

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Soup of the Day


This version of the refreshing, lemony, Greek soup has Bulgar Wheat rather than rice. It is very nutritious and makes a great midweek meal served with crusty bread.


1 medium onion, chopped
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp olive oil
3 sticks celery
1 carrot, diced
2 tsp Coriander seeds, crushed
12 peppercorns
1/2 tsp fennel seeds
100 ml lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 litre chicken stock
50g Bulgar Wheat
3 egg yolks
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper
Parsley to garnish, finely chopped

Saute the onion, in olive oil, in a heavy based pan, for 4-5 minutes until soft.

Add the chicken, celery, carrot and spices. Stir to combine. Add the lemon juice and stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.

Remove the chicken and set aside. Strain the stock and return it to a clean pan. Add the Bulgar Wheat. Reheat gently, for 5 minutes, but do not boil.

Beat the egg yolks and juice of 1 lemon together in a bowl and mix in a tbsp or two of the stock. Gradually add this mixture to the pan, Dice the chicken and add to the pan heating gently until the soup thickens. It should be the consistency of single cream. Dice the chicken and add to the pan.

Season to taste and serve immediately with warm crusty bread.

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Vintage Recipe
From The Kendal Cookery Book 1926

Fig Pudding As it was written

1/4lb Flour
1/4lb Bread Crumbs
1/4lb Figs
2oz Sugar
4oz Suet
1/4 pint Milk
1/2 teaspoon Carbonate Soda
1/2 teaspoon Allspice


Shred and chop suet finely.

Wash and chop the figs.

Mix together all dry ingredients.

Add milk and mix thoroughly.

Turn into greased basin.

Cover with greased paper and steam for 2 1/2 hours.

Note-If liked richer, 1 egg, well beaten, may be added, and less milk used.

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Lamb Goulash

A warming dish for the weekend. Excellent if you are entertaining guests as it can be made beforehand and heated up at the last minute. No need to buy an expensive cut of lamb, cooked slowly, at a low temperature, it should be succulent and tender.

Goulash is traditionally eaten with rice but if you fancy something different it is great with mashed potato and buttered cabbage.


1 green pepper
750g lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into 4cm cubes
150ml soured cream
1 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2 large onions, roughly chopped
1 x 400g tinned tomatoes
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp Paprika
1 tbsp plain flour

Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas1

Heat the oil in an ovenproof casserole and brown the cubed lamb, remove the meat and set aside.

Add the onions to the pot and cook for around 5 minutes until they are golden.

Add the garlic and stir to combine. Return the meat to the pot. Add the flour and paprika and stir well.

Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and place on the lid.
Transfer to the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 2 hours.

Cut the green pepper into 2in strips and add to the casserole. Replace the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes.

Just before serving add the soured cream.

Countdown to Christmas

The Cake

This weekend marks the start of my Christmas baking, it's time to make the Christmas cake.

You may think it's a bit early but I start this time every year and feed my cake with brandy every week (just a little). The finished cake is amazing and lasts for ages (if only brandy had that effect on me).

I have used this recipe for the past 15 years and have never been disappointed.

Leave the icing of the cake until a few days before Christmas. Alternatively leave it plain. I have friends from Yorkshire who eat it with cheese and its actually very nice.

You will need to start the cake the night before you bake it, to marinate the fruit in the Brandy.

I shall post a picture of my finished cake nearer Christmas.


450 currants
1 granny smith apple, peeled, cored and grated
175g sultanas
175g raisins
4 eggs
225g Muscavado sugar
50g glace cherries, chopped
225g unsalted butter
1/2 tsp mixed spice
3 tbsp brandy
1/2 tsp grated nutmeg
225g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
50g Almonds, chopped
50g Brazil nuts, chopped
1 dessertspoon treacle
Grated zest of 1 orange
Grated zest of 1 lemon

20cm round cake tin
18cm square tin
lined with parchment paper

Place the dried fruit and grated apple in a large mixing bowl, add the brandy and mix thoroughly. Cover and leave overnight.

The following day

Preheat the oven to 140C/275F/gas1

Sift the flour, salt and spiced into a large mixing bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat the eggs and gradually add them to the mixture a little at a time.

Gently fold in the flour and spices.

Fold in the dried fruit, chopped nuts and treacle (use a spoon which has been standing in hot water to measure the treacle) then fold in the orange and lemon zests.

Transfer the mixture to the cake tin, cover with parchment paper and cut a cross in the middle, and bake, on the bottom shelf for 4 3/4 - 5 hrs. Check after 4hrs.

Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 30 minutes. Remove and cool completely on a wire rack.

Wrap in two layers of greaseproof paper and 1 layer of foil and place in an airtight tin, in a cool place. Feed regularly with Brandy.

Friday, 2 October 2009

Chicken with Cream and Mustard

4 Chicken legs
150ml double cream
3 cloves garlic, peeled
2 tbsp Dijon mustard
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp flat leaf Parsley, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas 5

Mash together the garlic, mustard, salt and pepper and enough olive oil to make a thin paste.

Rub the mixture over the chicken, place in a baking dish and bake for 25 minutes. Reserve the rest of the mixture.

Remove from the oven and add the cream and the last of the mustard mixture. Bake for a further 20 minutes. Until golden brown.

Sprinkle with chopped Parsley.

Serve with mashed potatoes and green beans.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Creamy Baked Rice Pudding
with Honey Plums

Just the recipe to use up the plum tree harvest, and with the autumnal weather, baked rice pudding is the perfect accompaniment. Real comfort food with the lingering taste of Summer.

For the rice pudding

110g pudding rice
450ml single cream
450ml full fat milk
55g caster sugar
freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp vanilla extract
25g unsalted butter


Grease a 2pt ovenproof dish with butter.

Wash the rice under cold, running water, strain and place in the ovenproof dish.

Warm the milk, cream, sugar, vanilla and a few gratings of nutmeg, in a saucepan.

When the sugar has dissolved pour the mixture over the rice and bake in the oven for 1 1/2 hrs,
stirring after 30 minutes.

The rice should be golden on top and creamy. Give it a final grating of nutmeg when you remove it from the oven.

For the Honey Plums

4 tbsp clear honey
10 plums, washed, halved and stones removed

Heat the honey in a heavy based frying pan, add the plum halves, flesh side down and simmer for 6 minutes, turn the plum halves and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Serve with the baked rice pudding.

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