Thursday, 29 July 2010

Summer Harvest

After a week in Scotland I came home to a bumper crop of courgettes, Charlotte potatoes, tomatoes, spring onions and runner beans galore, not to mention the salad leaves which are sprouting up all over the garden.  Food definitely tastes better when you grow it yourself.

The following recipe was made from early windfall apples from my Bramley tree and blackberries which belong to my neighbour but trail over to my garden, my crop are not quite ready.  

Apple and Blackberry Almond Sponge Pudding


100 g soft margarine
100 g brown caster sugar
100 g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
50 g ground almonds
2 drops almond essence
Flaked almonds to decorate

For the filling

4 medium size apples, I used early Bramleys, peeled and cut into chunks
Small bowl of fresh blackberries, washed
75 g Brown sugar

Place all the filling ingredients in a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until the apples are just tender.  Leave to cool.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C / 375F / gas 5

Place all the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and blend together with a hand-held electric mixer until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Put the filling into an oven-proof dish and spoon over the sponge mixture.  Sprinkle the flaked almonds over the top and place on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes or until the sponge is golden and springy to the touch.

Serve with a dollop of chilled crème fraiche.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Chicken Curry
with spiced onion

For the chicken curry

4 chicken breasts, cut into cubes
250g onion, finely sliced
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground black cardamom
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp medium chilli powder
3 cloves
1" cinnamon stick
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper
3 tbsp ghee or butter
300ml chicken stock
3 tbsp yoghurt
1 tbsp tomato puree
Pinch sugar

Melt the ghee or butter, add the turmeric, cloves, cardamom, cumin, chilli powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Fry for several minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add the onions and garlic and continue cooking over a gentle heat, stirring frequently for 10 minutes.

Place the chicken  in the pan and fry for 5-7 minutes.  Add the yoghurt, tomato puree, sugar and stock and mix well.

Cover the pan and simmer gently for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and tender.  Remove from the heat and let it stand for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with Basmati rice and spiced onion.

For the spiced onion

250g finely sliced onion
2 1/2 tbsp tomato sauce
2 tsp tomato purée
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Salt to taste

Mix together the tomato sauce, tomato purée, chilli powder and salt.  Add the onion and mix into the sauce.  Cover and leave for 30 minutes before serving.

Monday, 19 July 2010

Grilled Salmon with New Potato Salad


4 pieces salmon
1 lemon
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Salad leaves
Olive oil to dress

For the potato salad

1 lb new potatoes, gently boiled or steamed
1 tbsp finely chopped spring onion
3 tbsp mayonnaise mixed with 1 tbsp crème fraiche
1/2 tsp brown sugar
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp chopped mint
1 tbsp chopped parsley

Slice or roughly chop the cooled potatoes, place in a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients.  Mix well and refrigerate until needed.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper and place under a pre-heated grill and cook for approx 4 minutes each side depending on the thickness of the fish.  The flesh should be soft and opaque in the centre.

Serve warm or cold with potato salad and a crisp salad dressed with lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper.  Garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Jerk Chicken
with a dipping sauce

10 chicken portions
Juice of 1 lime

For the marinade

50 ml vegetable oil
10 spring onions, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tbsp dried thyme
2 scotch bonnet chillies, de-seeded and chopped
4 tsp ground allspice
4 tsp cinnamon
2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp salt
2 tsp freshly milled pepper
2 tsp dark brown sugar

Place the chicken portions in a large bowl and pour over the lime juice.

Place the marinade ingredients in a blender and mix until smooth.

Rub the blended mix all over the chicken.  Cover the bowl with cling film and refrigerate for 3-4 hours or overnight.

To cook,  place the chicken portions, skin side down, under a hot grill until cooked through, turn the chicken portions 2 or 3 times during grilling.

Serve with dipping sauce or rice.

For the dipping sauce

4 tbsp smooth peanut butter
2 tbsp warm water
2 tsp low salt soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp cider vinegar
1 tsp grated orange zest
2 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl, mix until smooth.

Thursday, 15 July 2010


German coffee cake with nuts 

100g butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
50g toasted Hazelnuts, chopped
1 heaped tsp instant coffee
1 tbsp warm milk
100g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt

Grease and flour a 9" loaf tin.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C / gas 5

Beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.

Separate the eggs add the yolks and beat into the mixture.  Stir in the nuts.

Mix the instant coffee with the warm milk.  Sift together the flour and salt.  Whisk the egg whites to stiff peaks.

Fold the flour into the mixture then stir in the coffee mix.  Gently fold in the egg whites.

Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 25 minutes until firm to touch and coming away slightly from the edges.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Serve with a little chilled cream.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Vegetarian food

Mushroom pie


For the pastry

200g plain flour
100g cold butter, cubed
100g cold , white cooking fat, cubed
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp cold water

Rub the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Mix to a firm dough with the cold water.  Knead lightly until smooth, wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.


200g chestnut mushrooms
100g cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 fresh sage leaves, chopped
2 eggs, lightly beaten

Grease an 8" pie dish and line with pastry.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C / gas 6

Line the base of the pastry case with the grated cheese, fill up with sliced seasoned mushrooms and the sage.  Pour the beaten eggs over the mushrooms and cover with a pastry lid.

Brush the pie with beaten egg and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 1 hour reducing the oven temperature to 180C after 30 minutes.

Serve warm with mashed potato and corn niblets.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Tea-time Treat

This gingerbread tastes even better if you wrap it in greaseproof paper when it is cool and store it in an airtight tin for a couple of days.  This intensifies the flavour and the top becomes very sticky.

Soft Sticky Gingerbread

100g butter
100g golden syrup
125g black treacle
100g granulated sugar
275g plain flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 level tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp cinnamon
1 egg, lightly beaten
225 ml whole milk

Grease a 9" square cake tin and line with greaseproof paper.

Pre-heat the oven to 160C / 325F / gas3

Melt butter, syrup, treacle and sugar gently in a pan over a moderate heat, then allow to cool.

Sieve together salt, flour, ginger, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda then pour the contents of the pan into the flour mixture.

Beat in the egg and milk and mix well.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 1 hour.

Turn onto a wire rack to cool.

Monday, 12 July 2010

Spicy Lamb Roll
With Raita and Mango salad

Lean minced lamb, onion, diced potato, garlic and spices rolled in shortcrust pastry, served hot with cool raita and salad, something very different for a midweek meal. If you like very spicy food add some chopped chilli during cooking.

This recipe can also be made using Filo pastry but you will be surprised just how nice it is made with shortcrust. Don't expect any leftovers.

Serves 4


225 g lean minced lamb
3 small potatoes
340 g shortcrust pastry
1 large onion , finely chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1tsp ground Coriander
1tsp Turmeric
1tsp ground Cumin
2tsp freshly grated root Ginger
2tbsp tomato puree
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2tbsp olive oil
115 g frozen peas (optional)

Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan and add the onion, cook until softened. Add the ginger and spices and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the minced lamb and potatoes, brown the meat, stirring continuously. If using, add peas now.

Add the tomato puree and cook for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas 5

Roll the pastry to an oblong shape around 1/8in thick. Place the cooled spicy lamb in the middle along the length of the pastry and roll to a log shape.

Brush with milk or beaten egg and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Serve hot with the Raita and salad.

For the Raita

6tbsp natural yoghurt
3tbsp mayonnaise
10-12 fresh mint leaves, finely chopped, or 2 tsp mint sauce

Combine all the ingredients and leave in the fridge to cool

For the salad

1 mango, diced
1 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 cucumber, peeled and diced
2 heads baby gem lettuce


Juice of 1 lemon
2tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2tbsp Raita

Toss the salad ingredients together and add the dressing just before serving.

Spicy lamb roll is also good served with new potatoes and Raita coleslaw.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Stuffed Tomatoes

Whether you grow your own tomatoes or buy them this is a great recipe for a quick mid-week meal.

Stuffed tomatoes make a great starter or a light dinner served with cheese on toast, they can be prepared earlier and reheated in the oven for 5-6 minutes.

Serves 4

8 large firm tomatoes
100g brown rice
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted
1 tbsp sultanas
1 small onion, chopped
10 fl oz chicken stock
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and freshly milled pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas 4

Heat the olive oil in a heavy based sauté pan over a moderate heat.  Cook gently for 5 minutes then add the rice, cinnamon, thyme, pine nuts and sultanas.  Stir until the oil is completely absorbed then season with salt and pepper.

Pour on the stock, stir once and put the lid on the sauté pan, simmer gently for 30 minutes until all the liquid has gone.  Taste to check the seasoning.

Cut a small lid from each tomato and set aside, scoop out the seeds, put a pinch of sugar in each tomato and fill with the rice mixture, replace the tomato lid.

Place the stuffed tomatoes in a roasting tin with a little water in the bottom and drizzle a few drops of olive oil  over each tomato.  Bake in the oven for 30 minutes and serve warm.

Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Strawberry Sorbet


900g fresh strawberries
125g icing sugar, sifted
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp Grand Marnier 

Hull the strawberries, halve them and purée in a food processor or blender with the icing sugar and lemon juice.  Add the Grand Marnier

If you do not have an ice cream maker, transfer the mixture to a stainless steel or enamel bowl and freeze for 1 hour or until the mixture begins to freeze around the edges.

Whisk well to break down the ice crystal evenly.  Return to freezer and freeze for a further 11/2-2 hours, whisking every 30 minutes, until firm.

Transfer the sorbet to a plastic container, cover and store in the freezer until ready to serve.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Thai Prawn Curry

Serves 4

For the paste

1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
2 green chillies, de-seeded
3 tsp grated fresh ginger
3 cloves garlic
3 stalks lemongrass, finely chopped
Large bunch coriander
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 2 limes
2 tbsp sunflower oil

Other ingredients

2 tbsp sunflower oil
200g green beans
400ml coconut milk
3tbsp soy sauce
300g raw prawns, peeled and de-veined

Add all the paste ingredients to a food processor and blend to a thick smooth paste.

Heat the oil in a wok until it is very hot then add the beans and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the curry paste and coconut milk and bring to the boil.  Lower the heat and simmer for 6 minutes to reduce and thicken the sauce.

Add the prawns and stir for 4-6 minutes.  If the sauce is too thick add a little water.  If it is too thin reduce it over a moderate heat for a couple of minutes.

Serve with Basmati rice.

Monday, 5 July 2010

Queen of Puddings


4 eggs
300ml milk
300ml double cream
100g white bread crumbs
2 tbsp raspberry jam
75g caster sugar

Separate 3 of the eggs and put the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another, add the last egg to the bowl with the yolks, add milk and cream and beat together.  Stir in the breadcrumbs.

Spread the jam over the bottom of an oven-proof dish and pour the mixture on top, leave to stand for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 150C / 300F / gas 2

Bake in the oven for 1 hour.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff, fold in the sugar and spoon over the top of the pudding, sprinkle over some sugar and put the pudding back in the oven for 15 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Stuffed Red Peppers

3tbsp olive oil
4 large red peppers
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
100g risotto rice
75g chestnut mushrooms, roughly chopped
salt and freshly ground black pepper
500ml chicken stock
4tbsp double cream
2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese

For the peppers

Slice the top from the peppers and set it aside. Scoop out the seeds and any white membrane, using a spoon, be careful not to pierce the peppers. Lightly coat the outside of the peppers with olive oil.

For the filling

Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a saucepan, add the onion and fry gently for 1-2 minutes to soften. Add the rice and garlic and cook for 2 minutes stirring continuously to coat the rice. Then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

Add the stock gradually, a little at a time and when it has been absorbed add some more, stirring continuously between each addition. This should take about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 190C/ gas 5

Fill each red pepper with the mushroom risotto and replace the lid of the pepper.

Place in an oven proof dish and bake for 30-35 minutes until the pepper is tender and slightly scorched.

To serve. Remove the lids from the peppers, pour 1tbsp double cream into each pepper, sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Replace the lids and serve immediately with a crispy salad.

Thursday, 1 July 2010

All-in-one Sponge Cake with Strawberries and Cream


For the sponge

6oz self raising flour
1tsp baking powder
6oz butter, softened
6oz caster sugar
3 large eggs
2tsp vanilla extract

Place all the sponge ingredients in a large bowl and mix with a hand held electric whisk until light and fluffy.

Divide the mixture between 2 x 8in sponge tins, lined with parchment paper.

Bake at 190C/375F/ gas 5 for 20-25 minutes until light golden brown. Test with a skewer inserted in the middle of the sponge, if the skewer comes out clean the sponge is ready.

Remove from the oven and leave in the tin for 5 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.

For the filling

1 large punnet fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/2 pint fresh double cream
3tbsp strawberry jam (shop bought is good)
1tbsp warm water

Icing sugar to decorate

Beat the strawberry jam and water together with a wooden spoon, to make it more spreadable.

Spread the jam on the flat side of each sponge cake, this will prevent the cream soaking into the sponge.

Layer sliced strawberries over the jam, on both halves.

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks, be very careful not to over whip it or it will separate.

Spoon the cream onto 1 half of the sponge and carefully place the other half on top. (The strawberries should be stuck to the jam and wont fall out when doing this.)

Sprinkle the top of the sponge with icing sugar and decorate with a few strawberry slices.

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan. I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but i...