Monday, 20 September 2010

Moroccan Lamb Tagine
with Fresh Figs

Served with spicy cous cous and Moroccan flatbread


1 kg lamb shoulder, cubed
1 large onion, grated
10 shallots, peeled and left whole
2 tins chopped tomatoes
3tbsp tomato puree made up to 1 pint with water
3 clove garlic, crushed
3tbsp olive oil
115g dried apricots, halved
4 fresh figs, halved
50g sultanas
80g flaked almonds
1 pint of lamb or chicken stock
1tbsp clear honey

Herbs and Spices

1tsp Cayenne
2tsp black pepper
1 1/2tbsp Paprika
1 1/2tbsp ground Ginger
1 tbsp Turmeric
2tbsp ground Cinnamon
2tbsp fresh Coriander, chopped
2tbsp Parsley, chopped


Place the dried spices in a bowl and mix well to combine. Place the cubed lamb in a large bowl and add half the spice mix. Cover with clingfilm and leave in the fridge for 4 hours (or overnight).
Heat 2tbsp of olive oil in a large heatproof casserole dish, add the shallots and onions and cook gently for 10 minutes to soften the onion. Add garlic for the final 2 minutes.
In a separate pan, heat the remaining olive oil and brown the cubed lamb. Add the browned meat to the casserole. De-glaze the pan with half the tomato puree mixture. Add the remaining tomato puree mixture, chopped tomatoes, apricots, figs, sultanas, almonds, lamb stock and honey, to the casserole. Bring to the boil. Cover with a lid. Place in a preheated oven at 150C/300F/gas 2 and cook for 2-21/2 hours until the meat is tender.
To serve: Sprinkle on the flaked almonds and serve with cous-cous and Moroccan flat bread.

Cous Cous with Harissa and Pine Nuts

400g cous cous
500ml boiling water
1tbsp Harissa paste
Juice of 1 lemon
Small handful toasted pine nuts
Salt and freshly ground pepper

Soak the cous cous in the boiling water for 10 minutes.  By this time the water should be absorbed. Add the Harissa paste and lemon juice, stir to combine.  Stir in the pine nuts just before serving.
Serve warm.

Moroccan Flatbread

200g plain flour
1tsp ground Cumin
1tsp ground Coriander
1/2tsp ground Cinnamon
Pinch of salt
Water to bind

Mix the ingredients and add enough water to make a soft (but not wet) dough.
Divide into 6 pieces and roll out thinly.
Cook in a very hot, dry, griddle or frying pan for 1 minute each side until brown spots appear. Keep the cooked flatbread warm in the folds of a tea towel.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Plum and Apple Pie with Raspberry Ripple Ice-cream

Picked some plums and apples today to make chutney, don't know what happened but ended up with plum and apple pie, it just wasn't a chutney kind of day.  Maybe tomorrow.........

For the pie

Shortcrust Pastry

200g plain flour
50g unsalted butter
50g cooking fat
A little cold water to mix
1 tbsp caster sugar to sprinkle over the cooked pie
Lightly beaten egg

Rub the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles bread crumbs.  Add the water 1 tbsp at a time until the dough comes together but is not wet.  Rest the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling

200g cooking apple, cut into chunks
200g Victoria plums, stoned and quartered
100g granulated sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon

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

Place the apples, plums and sugar in a saucepan over a low heat and cook until the apples are tender but not breaking up, add the cinnamon and stir to combine.  Leave the fruit to cool.

Put the fruit in a large pie dish and roll the pastry out on a floured surface.  Place the pastry over the fruit, trim and seal the edges.  make a couple of small holes in the middle of the pie and brush all over with beaten egg.
Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sugar.

Serve with custard or ice-cream.

I made the Raspberry Ripple ice-cream last month when the raspberries were plentiful but I didn't follow a recipe just made it up as I went.  If it helps, it was delicious.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Minty Courgette and Pea Shoot Soup

The summer vegetable harvest is coming to an end, except for courgettes and a never ending supply of pea shoots.  They are very easy to grow and will sprout in almost any container, just fill with potting compost, scatter over some dried peas, cover with a little compost and water well.  I did this every 2 weeks over the summer so I always had a ready supply for salads, soups and garnishes.

Ingredients  Serves 4
5 courgettes, cut into chunks
1 bowl pea shoots, washed and threads trimmed
1 large potato, peeled and cut into chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp double cream
25 g Parmesan cheese, grated
Small handful of fresh mint, finely chopped ( if you don't have fresh mint use 1 tsp ready made mint sauce)
2 tbsp olive oil

Put the olive oil in a saucepan over a moderate heat, add the onion and cook for a few minutes until soft, but not coloured.  Add the courgettes and cook for 5 minutes until golden at the edges.  Pour over the stock and add the chopped potato and pea shoots then cook gently for 20 minutes (add the mint for the last couple of minutes).  Remove from the heat and cool slightly.

Blend the soup until smooth and return the pan to the heat.  Add the cream and Parmesan and stir.  Re-heat gently but don't let it boil.

Serve in warmed bowls with some crusty bread or toast.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Iced Biscuits

This recipe makes 40 biscuits and are great sandwiched together with seedless raspberry jam and decorated with glacĂ© icing.


100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
100g caster sugar
1 egg lightly beaten
2tsp vanilla extract
275g plain flour

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.

Mix the egg with the vanilla and add to the mix a little at a time until combined.

Stir in the flour and bring together to form a dough.

Pre-heat the oven to 190C

Roll out to 1/4" thick and cut into 2" rounds then bake in the oven for 4-5 minutes until pale golden.  Cool on a wire rack.

For the icing

Mix icing sugar with a little lemon juice until you get the consistency of thick syrup, if you want different colours separate the white icing accordingly and add a few drops of food colouring.  1 tsp of icing is enough for 1 biscuit.

Sandwich the biscuits together with jam, ice the top and decorate.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Seasonal recipe of the week

Leeks and Ham in Cheese and Mustard Sauce with a Cheesy Topping


3lb (1kg 350g) small leeks, trimmed and washed and cut in half
salt and pepper
2oz (50g) butter
170g Parma ham
3oz (50g) plain flour
¾ pint (425ml) milk
6oz (175g) cheddar cheese, grated
1oz (25g) Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tbsp (15g) wholegrain mustard
1 tbsp (15g)English mustard

For the topping

2 tbsp fresh white breadcrumbs
1oz (25g) grated cheddar cheese

Pre-heat oven to 200C / 400F / Gas 6.

Place the leeks in a pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes until just tender. Drain and put under cold water immediately to refresh and stop the cooking process.

Place the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan and slowly bring up to the boil and whisk all the time. Once it is up to the boil, reduce the heat and let it just simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the grated cheddar and parmesan and then the mustards. Season with salt and pepper.

Wrap the leeks in Parma ham put them into a shallow serving dish and pour over the sauce.

Mix the breadcrumbs and the cheese together and scatter over the top of the leeks.
Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the top is golden brown.

Go for small or medium size leeks; large leeks (more than about an inch in diameter) are likely to be tough and woody. Leaf tops should be fresh and green, the root end should be unblemished and yield very slightly to pressure. Buy more than needed (around double by weight) to allow for losses due to trimming.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010


A trip to Whitstable on the Kent coast, prompted this late summer Paella which made a great Sunday dinner served with warm crusty bread.

Below: Jessie waits dutifully outside The  Crab and Winkle


170g chorizo, cut into thin slices
110g pancetta, cut into small dice
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 large onion, finely diced
1 red pepper, thinly sliced
300g paella rice
1 tsp paprika
125ml dry white wine
2 pints chicken stock, heated with ¼ tsp saffron strands
8 chicken thighs, halved and browned 
12 fresh mussels                                                                                                                                 
2 large tomatoes, de-seeded and diced
125ml good olive oil
1 head garlic, cloves separated and peeled
12 large raw prawns
450g squid, cleaned and cut into rings
Handful of frozen peas
3 tbsp chopped flatleaf parsley
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat half the olive oil in a paella pan or heavy-based saucepan. Add the chorizo and pancetta and fry until crisp. Add the garlic and onion and heat until softened. Add the rice, and stir until all the grains of rice are nicely coated and glossy.

 Now add the paprika and dry white wine and when it is bubbling, pour in the hot chicken stock, add the chicken thighs and cook for 5-10 minutes.

Place the mussels into the pan, add the peas and tomatoes, continue to cook gently for another 10 minutes.  

Heat the remaining oil with the garlic cloves in a separate pan and add the prawns. Fry quickly for a minute or two then add them to the paella.  Now do the same with the squid and add them to the pan. Throw in the sliced pepper.

Scatter the chopped parsley over the paella and serve immediately with warm crusty bread.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Manchester Tart

This has got to be one of the loveliest desserts, the pastry is very short and biscuit like and the custard is very luxurious and creamy.  The tang of the fresh raspberries and the topping of toasted coconut make it very special.

For the pastry

50g lard
50g unsalted butter
225g plain flour
Pinch of salt

Rub the fats into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Add cold water 1 tsp at a time until a dough is formed.  Rest the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat the oven to 170C / 325F / gas 3

Roll out the pastry on a floured surface, line a 20cm flan tin and prick the base all over with a fork.  Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes then leave to cool.

For the filling

7oz raspberry jam
10oz fresh raspberries

For the custard

500ml full fat milk
400ml double cream, whisked to soft peaks
1 vanilla pod
5 egg yolks
125g caster sugar
4 heaped tsp cornflour
A little icing sugar
3 tbsp dessicated coconut, toasted in a dry frying pan

In a large bowl whisk the sugar and egg yolks until pale and fluffy.

Heat the milk in a saucepan over a medium heat, scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod and add, along with the pod, to the milk.  Heat until almost boiling, remove the vanilla pod and whisk the milk into the egg and sugar.

Return the mixture to the pan, gradually add the cornflour, 1 tsp at a time, stirring continuously, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the spoon.

Transfer to a bowl to cool.  Sprinkle with icing sugar (to prevent a skin forming) and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Spread the raspberry jam over the base of the pastry case and place the raspberries evenly over the base.

Fold the whipped cream into the chilled custard until well combined and spoon this mixture over the raspberries.  Top with toasted coconut and refrigerate until serving.

Monday, 6 September 2010

Parmesan and Lemon Chicken Escalopes


For 4 people

4 chicken breasts
1 lemon, zest only, finely grated
100g Parmesan cheese, grated
Breadcrumbs from 2 slices seeded bread
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp flour, lightly seasoned
2 eggs, beaten
vegetable oil for frying

In a bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, Parmesan and lemon zest, season with salt and pepper.

Place the chicken breasts, one at a time between 2 pieces of cling film and flatten with a rolling pin.

Dip the chicken pieces first into the flour (shake off any excess)  then into the beaten egg and finally into the breadcrumbs.

Heat the oil in a large heavy based frying pan at a moderate temperature and fry the chicken breasts for 5 minutes each side until golden brown and cooked through.

Serve with a little mayonnaise, chipped or boiled potatoes, corn niblets or salad and a wedge of lemon.

If you like spicy chicken add a few chilli flakes to the breadcrumbs.

Friday, 3 September 2010

Lamb Keema

Many thanks to Alipa patel for the recipe for this delicious Keema curry.  It's definitely on the menu for future curry nights


Serves 4

500 g Lamb mince
3Tbsp vegetable or rape seed oil
2 Bay leaves
4 green Cardamom pods
1/2 cinnamon stick
1 large onion chopped
2 cloves garlic minced
3 green chillies, left whole
1 1/2 inches root ginger peeled and cut to thin strips
1 1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp Garam masala
2 tsp ground coriander
3 tomatoes chopped
1 cup peas, frozen are fine

Place a large pan over a medium/high heat, add the oil and when it is hot add the Bay leaves, Cardamom pods and cinnamon.  Stir fry for two minutes to release the flavours.

Add the onion, garlic and whole chillies and cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion starts to caramelise.  Add the ginger , stir to combine and continue to cook for 4-5 minutes

Turn the heat down to med/low.  Add the salt the the lamb mince. Stir fry the mince until it has browned  and has started to release juices.

Add chilli, curry, garam masala and coriander powder.  Combine and stir fry for 1-2 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, cook for 2-3 minutes.

At this stage it will look quite dry.  Cover around 75% of the keema with water and cook for 12-15 minutes until it is almost dry.

Add the peas and cook for a further 2 minutes.

This is served quite dry and goes well with chapatis.  You can , however cut down on the reduction time if you prefer it with a bit more sauce.

Thursday, 2 September 2010

Blueberry Muffins and the best laid plans

Having planned the Blueberry Muffin post and promised the family them for the past two weeks I find my blueberries are still green, so I felt compelled to buy some if only to keep everyone happy.  The good news is. when my blueberries are ready there will be more blueberry treats.


280g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
110g granulated sugar
1 egg
8 fl oz milk
3 fl oz rape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
170g fresh blueberries

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

Sieve the dry ingredients together in a bowl.  In a small bowl, beat the egg then stir in the milk and oil.

Pour the egg mixture into the dry ingredients and gently mix, the mixture should be lumpy but have no  dry flour.  Gently fold in the blueberries.

Transfer the mix into 12 large muffin cases and bake on the centre shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes until they are golden brown and spongy.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Spaghetti with Meatballs

Fresh tomato sauce

1 onion, finely chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed and chopped
600g fresh tomatoes (I used home grown cherry tomatoes)
1 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree, in 1/2 pint water
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tsp sugar
1 small bunch Thyme and 6 sage leaves, tied together

Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, add the onions and fry gently for 4-5 minutes until tender but not browned.  Add the garlic and stir fry for 1 minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients and season with salt and pepper.  Cook gently, covered for 1  hour, remove the herb bundle then cook (lid off) for a further 15 minutes.

For the meatballs

500g lean beef mince
500g lean pork mince
100g grated parmesan cheese
1 large onion, grated
3 cloves garlic, grated
2 slices seeded bread, made into breadcrumbs
Salt and pepper1 egg
Olive oil to fry

Mix all the ingredients together and add the egg to bind together.  Form the mixture into small balls and fry them in batches for 2 minutes each side.  Transfer them to the tomato sauce and simmer for 15 minutes.

Serve with spaghetti and baked garlic bread and sprinkle with grated parmesan cheese

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...