Monday, 30 November 2009

St Andrew's Day

Cock-a-Leekie Soup


1 boiling fowl, about 4lb, including legs and wings
1lb leeks (about 12) cleaned and cut into 1-inch pieces

4 pints stock or water

1oz long grained rice

One teaspoon brown sugar

Salt and pepper

Garni of bay leaf, parsley, thyme

Some recipes also have 3 chopped rashers of streaky bacon


Put the fowl and bacon in a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and remove any scum. Add three-quarters of the leeks, (green as well as white sections), herbs (tied together in a bundle), salt and pepper and return to the boil. Simmer gently for 2-3 hours, adding more water if necessary.

Remove the bird. Some thrifty chefs use the bird as another course, others cut the meat into small pieces and add them back to the soup (certainly it should have some pieces of chicken in it when served). Add the rice and the remaining leeks and simmer for another 30 minutes. Check for flavour and serve with a little chopped parsley.

Serves 6/8 people.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Happy Hour

If you are planning to entertain around Christmas time, cocktails are a fun way to welcome your guests and help break the ice (pardon the pun).

Christmas Cocktails

Winter Martini

Into a shaker two thirds filled with ice add a small (30ml) shot of apple schnapps, two and a half small shots of cognac and two dashes of sugar syrup. Shake and strain into a Martini glass. Garnish with a slice of apple.

Coral Reef

1 measure Advocaat--2 measures pineapple juice--1 measure lime juice
Shake with ice-cubes, serve in a highball glass and garnish with a slice of lemon.


1 measure Hendricks gin--1 measure white rum--1 measure Apricot brandy--1 large dash lime juice
Mix gently, serve in a Martini glass and garnish with a cherry.


1 measure Benedictine Dom--1 dash raspberry liqueur--Top up with Champagne
Serve in a flute glass and garnish with a few cranberries.

Black Magic

1.5 measures Vodka--1.5 measures Tia Maria--1 dash lemon juice
Shake together, strain over ice into a tumbler.

Brandy Blazer

2x30ml shots Cognac--1 sugar cube--1 orange twist--1 lemon twist
Mix in a heatproof container, flambe briefly and extinguish the flame. Stir well and serve in a small glass.

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Countdown to Christmas


Maple Roast Carrots and Parsnips

Sweet Potato Mash

Caramelised Sprouts with Sage Butter and Crispy Bacon

Crispy Roast Potatoes

Roasted Shallots with Rosemary and Chestnuts

Serves 6

Maple Roast Carrots and Parsnips

1 kg medium sized Carrots, peeled and cut lengthwise
1 kg medium sized Parsnips, peeled and cut lengthwise
3 tbsp vegetable oil
3 tbsp maple syrup
Salt and freshly ground pepper

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

Par-boil the carrots and parsnips in salted water for 5 minutes.

Drain and place in a roasting tin. Drizzle the oil and maple syrup over the parsnips and carrots and toss together.

Roast for 35-40 minutes until golden brown and tender.

Creamy Sweet Potato Mash

2 kg sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
25 g butter
2 tbsp soured cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
A good grating of fresh nutmeg

Boil the sweet potato in salted water for 10 minutes until tender.

Drain well. Add the butter and soured cream, mash, or blend with a hand held mixer until smooth. Season with a good grating of nutmeg and pepper.

Caramelised Sprouts with Sage Butter and Crispy Bacon

40 Brussel sprouts
225 g smoked streaky bacon rashers
6 fresh Sage leaves
50 g butter
Salt and pepper

Place the bacon rashers between 2 baking trays and place in a preheated moderate oven, bake until crisp (around 10 minutes) set aside.

Melt 25 g butter and gently fry the sage leaves for 5 minutes, remove the sage leaves and reserve the butter.

Blanche the sprouts in boiling salted water for 2 minutes.

Melt 25 g butter in a heavy frying pan and add the sprouts, cook, stirring occasionally until tender.

Drain and add the sage butter. Break up the bacon and stir it into the sprouts.

Crispy Roast Potatoes

2 kg King Edward potatoes, peeled and halved (or quartered depending on size)
4 tbsp goose fat

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

Parboil the potatoes in boiling salted water for 5 minutes.

Drain and toss around in the pan to roughen the edges.

Melt the goose fat in a roasting tin in the oven, add the potatoes and shake the tin to cover the potatoes with the fat. Roast for 40-45 minutes until crisp and golden.

Drain on kitchen paper and serve immediately.

Roast Shallots with Rosemary and Chestnuts

1 vacuum pack chestnuts
500 g large shallots, peeled
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 sprigs Rosemary
3 tbsp olive oil

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

Blanche the shallots in boiling salted water for 2 minutes.

Drain and place in a roasting tin. Sprinkle over the Rosemary leaves and olive oil, toss around to cover.

Sprinkle over the sugar and roast for 40 minutes until tender. Add the chestnuts after 30 minutes, stir to combine.

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

If you like cauliflower cheese you will love this delicious warming soup. It's very filling, so makes an ideal mid-week main course accompanied by hot buttered toast.


1 medium onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
40g butter
1 large cauliflower
1 tablespoon grain mustard
900 ml boiling water
50 ml double cream
50 g (2oz) grated cheddar cheese
Fresh flat leaf parsley to garnish


Heat the butter in a large pan. Add the onion and the garlic and leave on a medium heat for 2 - 3 minutes, until they are soft and clear.

Whilst the onion and garlic are softening, chop the cauliflower as fine as possible. Add the cauliflower into the onion mix then stir in the boiling water. Bring back to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes. Stir the soup well and add the grain mustard and the grated cheese. Adjust seasoning to taste.

Blend the soup with the cream in a liquidiser.

Garnish with a sprinkle of chopped parsley.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Traditional Scottish Recipes
Ecclefechan Butter Tart

When travel writer Bruce Stannard from Heritage magazine was staying at Coul House Hotel in Strathpeffer, he was so impressed by the Ecclefechan Butter Tart that he asked for the recipe. Here it is. The result is a beautiful crisp shortcrust pastry filled with succulent fruit and nuts. As for Ecclefechan, that's a small town in Dunfries and Galloway.

2 Beaten eggs
200 g soft brown sugar
1 tbsp vinegar
250 g mixed dried fruit
50 g chopped walnuts
125 g melted butter
For the pastry
75g unsalted butter
75g white cooking fat
300g plain flour
25g icing sugar
3tbsp cold water
Cut the fats into small pieces and place in a bowl with the flour and a pinch of salt.
Rub the fat into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs.
Stir in the icing sugar.
Add the water and bring together first with a fork and then using your hands.
Wrap the dough in cling film and rest it in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Roll out to the thickness of a £1 coin, cut out rounds to fit a bun tin.


Mix the sugar, butter and beaten eggs together.

Stir in the vinegar, then add mixed fruit and nuts.

Line patty tins with pastry and put a spoonful of the mixture into each.

Bake in a fairly hot oven (190C/375F/Gas Mark 5) for 20-25 minutes.

Serve with chilled double cream.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Cheese Potato Puffs
with Grilled Sausages


450g mashed potatoes
4 spring onions, finely shredded
50g mature cheddar cheese, finely grated
3 tbsp milk
25g butter
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Freshly grated nutmeg
2 eggs, separated


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

Butter a non-stick bun tin, or 6 ramekins

Mix the mashed potato, spring onions and cheese in a bowl.

Warm the milk and butter with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Heat to just below boiling point, then beat the milk into the potato mixture and beat in the egg yolks.

Whisk the egg whites to form soft peaks, mix a spoonful into the potato mixture to loosen it then gently fold in the rest.

Spoon the mixture into the bun tins, or small ramekins and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and well risen.

Serve with grilled sausages.

Queen of Puddings

Serves 4


300ml milk
2 strips lemon peel
25g unsalted butter
100g caster sugar
50g white breadcrumbs, use fresh bread
3 eggs, separated
3 tbsp raspberry jam


Heat the milk with the lemon peel, bring to the boil and turn off the heat, cover the pan and let it stand for 10 minutes.

Heat the oven to 160C/ 325F /gas 3

Discard the lemon peel and put the milk back on the heat. Add the butter and 25g sugar, stir until melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the breadcrumbs.

Cool for 10 minutes then stir in the lightly beaten egg yolks.

Pour into a buttered pudding dish and bake for 30 minutes. Take out of the oven and leave to cool.

Turn down the oven temperature to 120C/ 250F/ gas 1/2

Warm the jam and spread it over the pudding. Beat the egg whites until firm, fold in the remaining 75g caster sugar to make a meringue mixture. Spread the mixture over the jam, return to the oven and bake for 30 minutes until the meringue is firm and golden.

Serve hot or cooled but do not refrigerate.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Wholemeal Pancakes
with Chicken Bacon and Leek


250 g chicken, cut to 1" pieces
125 g smoked streaky bacon rashers, chopped
3 medium sized leeks, trimmed, washed and chopped to 1" rounds
25 ml water
50 ml double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based frying pan , over a moderate heat. Add the smoked bacon and cook, stirring for 2 minutes.

Add the chicken pieces and stir and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the leeks and cook for a further 5 minutes. Add the water and simmer for 15-20 minutes (last 10 minutes without a lid). Taste and season as necessary (depending how salty the bacon is).

Add the cream and stir through for a few minutes.

For the pancakes

170 g wholemeal flour
2 eggs
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp finely chopped chives
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping 75 g cheddar cheese, finely grated

Add the eggs and a little milk to the flour with a little salt and pepper, whisk until smooth and add enough milk to reach the consistency of double cream. Stir in the chopped chives.

Heat a heavy based frying pan over a high heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add a little batter and swirl it round to cover the base of the pan after 30 seconds turn the pancake and cook for 15 seconds more. Set aside and continue to cook the pancakes until all the batter is used

Fill the pancakes with the chicken, bacon and leek mixture and place them in an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle the grated cheese over the top and finish under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

Sunday, 22 November 2009

Olive Oil Cake
with Fruits of the Forest Frozen Yoghurt


3 large eggs
300g caster sugar
300g plain flour
165ml milk
165ml extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp grated lemon zest
1 tsp grated orange zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp baking powder

Butter and flour a 25cm cake tin.

Beat the sugar and the eggs until they are pale and creamy.

Stir in the remaining ingredients and bake the cake for 30-40 minutes at 180C ( 350F / Gas Mark until it is golden brown.

Allow it to cool a little in the tin and then turn it out onto a rack.

For the frozen yoghurt

250g/9oz frozen mixed redcurrants, blackberries and raspberries
110g/4oz icing sugar
100g/3½oz Greek-style yoghurt

For the frozen yoghurt, blend the frozen yoghurt ingredients in a food processor until smooth and well combined. Transfer to a dish, cover ,place in the freezer for 25-30 minutes until frozen.

Serve warm as a dessert with Frozen yoghurt, or cool completely and store in an airtight tin. Serve sliced with tea or coffee.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Countdown to Christmas

Christmas Pudding


275 g currants
110 g sultanas
110 g raisins
25 g candied peel
1 apple, cored and chopped
25 g chopped almonds
50 g Brazil nuts, roughly chopped
1 orange, grated zest only
1 lemon, grated zest only
50 g self raising flour
2 eggs
110 g suet
110 g brown breadcrumbs
225 g dark brown sugar
2 tbsp dark rum
2 tbsp brandy
100 ml stout
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp mixed spice
1/4 tsp cinnamon

Start preparation the day before

Put the suet, breadcrumbs, spices and sugar in a large bowl, stir to combine then add the dried fruit, apple, nuts, peel and orange and lemon zest. Mix well.

Measure out the rum, brandy and stout, add the eggs and beat well. Add the liquid to the fruit mixture and stir well. cover the bowl and leave to soak overnight.

Next day stir in the flour and spoon the mixture into a greased 1.2 lt pudding basin. Cover with a double layer of greaseproof paper and then tin foil, tie with string.

Place the pudding in a steamer over a pan of simmering water and steam for 8 hours. Check the water level every now and then and add some boiling water as necessary.

When the pudding is cooked, cool it completely and remove the foil and greaseproof paper, replace with fresh greaseproof paper and store in a cool dark place.

To reheat:
Steam for 2 hours over simmering water or microwave for 41/2 minutes.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Something for the Freezer

Onion Bhajis
with Cucumber and Mango Raita


4 large onions, chopped (use a processor if you have one)
225g gram flour, (chick pea flour)
2 tsp ground Cumin
2 tsp ground Coriander
1/2 tsp Turmeric
1 tsp chilli powder
2 tsp salt
150 ml water
Small bunch Coriander, chopped
1 litre vegetable oil for deep frying


Place the spices, water, flour and salt in a blender or processor and blend to a smooth paste, add to the onions add the Coriander and mix well.

Heat the oil in a wok or deep fat fryer, to 190C or until it just begins to smoke ( test with a drop of the mixture it should immediately float to the top and brown). Lower the temperature a bit if you are using a wok, an electric deep fat fryer will maintain the correct temperature.

Fry a few bhajis at a time, turning them occasionally when they turn brown. Drain on kitchen paper and serve them hot with the raita.

For the raita

1/2 cucumber, grated
250g natural yoghurt
small bunch fresh mint, chopped
Pinch of salt
2 tsp mango chutney

Mix all the ingredients together and keep cool in the fridge until needed.

Freeze the cooled onion bhajis in plastic containers, for up to 2 months

Defrost at room temperature and reheat, for 7 minutes at a moderate temperature in the oven.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Chicken and Potato Pies


2 large chicken breasts, boned and cut into very thin strips

400g peeled potatoes, thinly sliced

130g butter

2 shallots, finely

2 tbsp tarragon leaves roughly chopped

2 tbsp chives, chopped

450g puff pastry

2 egg yolks, lightly beaten

150ml double cream

Salt and pepper


1. Turn the potatoes in half the butter over a gentle heat until they are just tender – don’t let them brown. Remove them from the pan and allow them to cool in a large bowl.

2. Meanwhile, soften the shallot in the remaining butter and add the herbs and chicken, turning it over a steady heat for a few minutes until it is partially cooked. Mix it all carefully with the potatoes, season to taste and again, allow it to cool.

3. Divide the pastry into 4. Roll half the pastry into 8 circles about 16 cm. in diameter and put them straight onto a lightly buttered baking tray. Brush the edges with egg-yolk then pile the mixture in the middle.

4. Roll the rest of the pastry into slightly larger circles and cover the pies with then, sealing and crimping the edges. Cut a little circle in the tops (about 5cm in diameter) to make a lid, leaving it in place. Brush the whole surface with the rest of the egg-yolk.

5. Bake the pies for about 20 / 25 minutes, checking that they are not too brown – in which case turn the oven down slightly.

6. Then take them out, remove the lids and pour in the boiling cream, lifting the mixture gently to allow it to permeate the pies. Return them to the oven for ten minutes.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

A Sweet Treat

Cappuccino Mousse

Serves 6


175g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
50g caster sugar
5 egg whites
2 egg yolks
150ml double cream, whipped
3 tbsp strong black coffee

Melt 150g of the chocolate in a bowl, along with the coffee, over a pan of simmering water.

Beat the egg whites and the sugar until you reach a meringue consistency with soft peaks.

Slightly cool the melted chocolate and fold in the egg yolks. Take about 1/3 of the meringue mixture and whisk it into the chocolate.

Gently fold in the rest of the egg white and half of the whipped cream.

Pour the mixture into small coffee cups and set in the fridge for 3-4 hours.

To serve:
Spoon the rest of the cream over the mousse and finish with finely grated chocolate.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Something special

Scallops with Creamed Shallots and Pork Crackling

If you are entertaining friends or having a family celebration dinner this recipe makes an excellent starter. The creamed shallots can be made earlier and reheated but leave the cooking of the scallops and crackling until just before serving.

Serves 6

For the Creamed Shallots

325g shallots, peeled and finely chopped
60ml double cream
2tbsp olive oil
knob of butter
Salt and white ground pepper

Put the oil and butter in a pot and heat until bubbling. Add the shallots, cover and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 15 minutes, don't let them colour. Add the cream and cook for a further 5 minutes. Season and blend until smooth. For pre-cooking, cool and refrigerate until needed. Reheat gently.

Pork Crackling

1 x 125g belly pork skin, , cut into strips
Vegetable oil for deep frying
Coarse salt

Heat the oil to a high temperature and deep fry the crackling for 2-3 minutes, until crisp and golden.

For the Scallops

18 fresh king scallops, coral removed
1 tbsp olive oil
25g butter
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat a griddle or frying pan and add the olive oil cook the scallops for 60-90 seconds each side until golden. Add the butter and seasoning and serve immediately.

To Serve

Place 3 separate teaspoons of creamed shallots on a long plate, add a scallop to the top of each pile, top each scallop with a small strip of crackling.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Cullen Skink

A traditional Scottish fish soup, Cullen Skink is very thick and warming. Try to use undyed smoked haddock it tastes so much better. The addition of mashed potato makes it a meal on it's own but a small bowlful would make a lovely starter.


900g smoked haddock, with bones if you can
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, white only, finely chopped
900ml milk
25g butter
250g mashed potato
1 tbsp chopped Parsley
Salt and freshly ground pepper


Place the fish in a pan with just enough water to cover it. Bring to the boil and add the onion and leek, simmer until the fish is cooked, remove from the pan and flake the fish into a dish. Put the bones into the pot of stock and cook , covered for 1 hour. Strain and return to the pan.

Boil the milk and add to the stock along with the fish cook for several minutes. Gradually add the mashed potato until the soup is thick enough. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Finish with the butter and chopped Parsley and serve in warmed bowls.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Happy Christmas

A book review

For Delia's many, loyal disciples, (of which I am one) Christmas has come early in more ways than one.

Delia has come up trumps again with the publication of her new book, Delia's Happy Christmas.

I bought Delia's original Christmas recipe book in 1990 and since then have used it every Christmas without fail and definitely without disappointment. Her Christmas cakes and puddings have adorned my table (and the tables of the many people I have gifted them to) and her chutney cheered up many a leftover turkey and ham sandwich.

I really thought the original book couldn't be beaten. I now find out that it has been thoroughly thrashed by 'Delia's Happy Christmas' , which contains all the old favourites, (unchanged, thankfully) and many new recipes, (we may have to eat Christmas dinner 2 or 3 times a year now ,such is the cooking frenzy in our house)

The layout of the recipes and the beautiful pictures are really inspiring, there is even a list of suppliers to deliver your poultry, meat, fish etc, straight to your door.

It covers everything from planning, parties, drinks, leftovers, pickles and chutneys, alternatives to turkey, vegetarian and snacks and much much more, right up to new years day dinner.

The tips for making ahead, storing and freezing, are invaluable and the planning impeccable. Delia's lists for what to buy, and when to buy it, leaves no stone unturned.

Favourite recipes, of the ones I have tried so far,are:

Christmas Chutney Make 1 month ahead to let it mature but it lasts for years.

Arbroath Smokie Mousse. My Arbroath Smokies came all the way from Scotland and the mousse was delicious.

Irish Soda Bread. Got to be the easiest and one of the most scrumptious recipes.

Mini Tarts with 3 toppings. A drinks party must.

This book, like most of Delia's books, is a definite 'stayer' and, for those of us who like a very traditional Christmas, will be used for many years to come.

I was going to recommend that you put it on your Christmas list, but, what the hell! go and buy it now, start on your lists and planning and as Delia says:

"Have a very happy time preparing and cooking for Christmas, an even happier time enjoying the feast".

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Christmas Countdown

Baked Ham with Spiced Pears


4.5-5.5kg/10-12lb gammon joint - unsmoked
1 pint of dry cider
2 carrots, chopped into chunky pieces
2 onions, peeled and studded with cloves
4 bay leaves
2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp brown sugar
12 peppercorns

For the glaze:
cloves for spiking
8 tbsp shredless orange marmalade
juice of half a lemon


1. Soak the gammon joint overnight.
2. Drain and discard the water and pat the gammon dry. Place the gammon in a large pan and then pour over the cider and enough water to cover the joint.
3. Add all the other ingredients to the pan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and gently simmer for 3 - 3 ½ hours. Skim off any scum during the cooking.
4. When cooked, remove the ham from the pan and place in a roasting tin. Let it cool slightly and then peel away the skin.
5. Preheat the oven 190C/375 F / Gas 5.
6. Score diamond shapes on the fat and stud each diamond with a clove.
7. Heat the marmalade and lemon juice in a pan for a few minutes until it thickens to a sticky glaze. Brush the marmalade glaze over the surface of the ham.
8. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes until the glaze has set.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Toffee and Banana Crumble

A very easy and delicious dessert


1 200g tin ready made caramel
225g sweet pastry
225g plain flour
100g unsalted butter
100g golden caster sugar
4 medium bananas
cream or custard to serve

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

Lightly butter a 10" flan tin

Roll out the pastry and line the flan tin, prick the pastry at the bottom of the flan tin with a fork. Bake blind in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until pale golden. Remove from the oven and cool.

Increase the oven temperature to 220C/425F/ gas 7

To make the crumble, rub the butter into the flour till the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, add the sugar.

Chop the bananas and place in the flan case. Top with the tinned caramel and sprinkle with the crumble.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.

Serve with fresh double cream or custard.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Spanish Rice
With Lemon and Tarragon Chicken Thighs

Spanish Rice
Serves 6


300g long grain white rice
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
2 cloves garlic. finely chopped
200g peas, (frozen are fine)
1 onion, chopped
450ml vegetable stock
Freshly ground pepper
Pinch of Saffron
6 green olives, stoned and chopped (optional)
2 tbsp olive oil
Few drops of Tabasco sauce (optional)

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based pan and add the onion, stir over a medium heat until the onion is softened.

Add the garlic and stir in for a further minute. Add the rice, peas and peppers and stir to combine.

Pour over the stock and add the saffron. Cook over a medium heat for 10-12 minutes until the stock has been absorbed and the rice is tender but still has a bite, add the chopped olives.

Taste and add a little salt if necessary, season with pepper. Add a few drops of Tabasco sauce if want a slight heat to the rice.

For the Chicken Thighs

2 medium sized chicken thighs per person
Juice and zest of 1 lemon (enough for 6 thighs)
Large pinch brown sugar
Coarse salt
1 tsp dried Tarragon per 6 thighs

In a bowl, mix the lemon zest, lemon juice Tarragon and sugar.

Lay the chicken thighs in a roasting tin and drizzle over the mixture.

Roast in the oven for 25-35 minutes until the chicken is tender and golden.

Sprinkle with course salt and serve with the Spanish rice.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Thai style Pork Cakes

500g minced pork
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 " piece of ginger, peeled and finely chopped
3 spring onions, finely chopped
A good handful coriander leaves and stalks, finely chopped
1 tbsp fish sauce (Nam Pla)
1 tsp sesame oil
100ml vegetable oil
4 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
4 tbsp roasted salted peanuts, chopped
12 large iceberg lettuce leaves
2 limes, cut into wedges

Put the spring onions, ginger, chilli and coriander into a food processor and pound to a paste, add a little water if necessary.

Put the pork into a mixing bowl, add the pork, fish sauce and sesame oil, mix well. Add 50ml cold water and beat thoroughly to blend together. Chill for 10 minutes.

Shape the mixture into 12 patties, about 3/4" thick.

Heat the vegetable oil in a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat. Put the patties in the hot oil and fry gently for 3-4 minutes each side, until well coloured. Drain on kitchen paper.

Put the sweet chilli sauce in a small bowl and the chopped peanuts in another. Serve the patties on a large platter with the chilli sauce, peanuts, lettuce leaves and lime wedges.

Put a pork patty on a lettuce leaf and sprinkle on some chopped peanuts followed by a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce and lime juice, then wrap the leaf around the patty.

Monday, 9 November 2009

Spaghetti Carbonara

A quick and easy weekday meal, Spaghetti Carbonara always tastes as though a lot of time has been spent in the preparation and cooking when, in fact it only takes 5 minutes to prepare. Put the spaghetti on to cook and there is more than enough time to assemble the rest of the ingredients and make a crisp green salad with salad leaves and chopped parsley. Dress the salad at the last minute with a drizzle of good olive oil.


225g smoked streaky bacon, cut into strips
25g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 onion, chopped
3 eggs
300ml double cream
75g freshly grated Parmesan
Salt and freshly ground pepper
575g spaghetti

Heat the oil and butter in a large frying pan. Saute the onions until soft and golden, add the bacon strips and cook until crisp. Add the garlic and cook gently for 1 minute.

Cook the spaghetti according to instructions on the packet, drain and keep hot.

Add the spaghetti to the onion, garlic and bacon, mix in the cream, eggs and cheese.

Using forks, lift and mix the spaghetti to cook the eggs. Serve immediately with a crisp green salad.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Fruit Tea Bread

This delicious tea bread can be frozen for up to 1 month so why not double the recipe and keep 1 in the freezer. When it has completely cooled, wrap in cling film and freeze. Defrost at room temperature. It's also great for breakfast, toasted and buttered while it's still warm, a bit indulgent, I know, but a real treat.


1/2 pint strong cold tea
12oz mixed dried fruit
6oz soft brown sugar
2-4 tbsp whisky (optional)
8oz plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2oz butter, cut small
1 egg, beaten

Soak the dried fruit and sugar overnight in the cold tea add the whisky if using.

Next day, heat the oven to 150C/300F/ gas 2

Sift the flour, salt and baking powder into a large bowl. Rub in the butter then stir in the egg.

Stir in the dried fruit and add the tea, gradually stopping when you have a slackish dough. You may not need it all.

Line a loaf tin with non stick paper, tip in the dough and bake for 1 1/2 hours. Turn out on a wire rack to cool.

When completely cool serve slices spread with unsalted butter.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Bean Casserole

This is a slow cooked casserole (5 hours) ideal for a weekend dish and well worth the wait.

Serve with a dollop of soured cream and some fresh crusty bread.

450g Dried Cannellini beans
225g smoked streaky bacon rashers
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
100ml red wine
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp Paprika
2 tbsp tomato puree, mixed with 100 ml water
400g tin chopped tomatoes
Small bunch Parsley, leaves only
2 sprigs Thyme, leaves only
Soured cream to serve

Soak the beans overnight in plenty of cold water.

Preheat the oven to 150C/300F/gas 2

Drain the beans and line a casserole with the bacon rashers. Tip the drained beans on top, lay the vegetables, herbs (apart from the Parsley) and spices over the beans. Don't add any salt at this stage.

Add the wine, tomatoes, tomato puree mixture and 100ml water.

Cover and cook in the oven for 5 hours, by which time most of the liquid will have been absorbed.

Remove the Thyme and Bay leaf, taste and season. Leave to stand for 15 minutes.

Garnish with chopped Parsley, serve with a dollop of soured cream and fresh crusty bread.

Wednesday, 4 November 2009

Chocolate Orange Cake

This cake is deliciously moist and the combination of chocolate and orange go together perfectly.

The cake is flour free but it does contain fresh bread crumbs, making it unsuitable for a wheat free diet.

175g white chocolate
250g dark chocolate
6 eggs, separated
175g butter, softened
175g brown sugar
175g ground almonds
75g fresh breadcrumbs
3tbsp cocoa powder
Rind and juice of 1 orange


175g plain chocolate
175ml double cream
Zest of 2 oranges

Butter and line a 20cm cake tin with greaseproof paper.

Grate the white chocolate. Melt the dark chocolate over a pan of simmering water and set to one side.

Whisk the egg whites. Beat the butter and sugar together and stir in the melted chocolate, almonds, egg yolks, breadcrumbs, cocoa powder, orange juice, rind and grated white chocolate. Gently fold in the egg whites,

Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 40 minutes. Turn out and cool.

When completely cool melt the remaining chocolate over a pan of simmering water, stir in the cream and orange zest and spread the mixture over the cake.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Olive Bread

A very moist, delicious olive bread. Eaten with pasta or an accompaniment to roasted Mediterranean vegetables, perfect on its own without butter, but particularly nice spread with warm goats cheese and chutney.

15g dried yeast (not the easy blend kind)
2 tsp salt
500g strong white flour
5tbsp extra virgin olive oil
12 Calamata olives, stoned and quartered

Dissolve the yeast in 300ml lukewarm warm water. Mix the salt with the flour, make a well in the centre and add the yeasty water and 4 tbsp of the olive oil. Knead until the dough is smooth and elastic, 5-10 minutes. This can also be done in a food processor. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a large polythene bag and leave in a warm place until more than doubled in size.

Knock the dough down and knead again, this time adding the olives. Shape the dough into a flattish circle about 12" in diameter and leave to rise again.

Place a baking tray in the oven and preheat to c00C/400F/gas 6

Dimple the surface of the dough with your finger and drizzle the remaining olive oil over it.

Carefully place the dough on the hot tray in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until deep golden brown.

Cool the bread on a wire rack and store in an airtight container. If you prefer it hot : reheat in a hot oven for 10 minutes.

Seafood Paella

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