Tuesday, 9 June 2015



Ingredients (to feed 2):

1 large hake fillet or 2 small ones
1 Courgette cut into thick slices
2 Tomatoes, quartered and de-seeded
1 hand full of chopped thyme
Olive oil

For the sauce
2 small shallots finely chopped
1 Bay leaf
Small hand full of whole black pepper corns
1 Teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1/2  Glass of white wine
2 Tablespoons of double cream
50g unsalted butter cut into small cubes

The Preparation:

Begin by seasoning the courgette slices with salt and ground pepper, and fry in olive oil on a low to medium heat. Do not allow it to get too hot as Olive oil becomes carcinogenic if it stars to smoke. And as that can kill you best not to! Fry until is starts to turn colour then add in the tomatoes. Sprinkle the chopped thyme over the lot and stir it all in. Let that carry, turning them over occasionally until the courgettes and the tomatoes are browned and soft. All told,that should take about 10 minutes tops.

While the courgettes and tomatoes are cooking cut your fillet(s) into 4 roughly equally sized portions, and with a very sharp knife, score the skin with 2 or 3 slits on each and lay the fillet portions skin side up on a grill tray. Drop a teaspoon of olive oil onto each of them and massage it into the skin with your hands.Then season and put under a hot grill (220 degrees C) for 5 minutes or until the flesh of the fish has gone from translucent to white.

As that bit didn't take a lot of effort, while that's grilling, put the chopped shallots, wine, vinegar, bay leaf and pepper corns into a saucepan and put on a high heat so it starts bubbling and reducing down quickly. Once the liquid has reduced by half, turn down the heat and add the cream and stir it all in. Again, you are waiting for it to reduce down, Now turn the heat down lower again and start adding the butter you have prepared, just a couple of cubes at a time. Whisking everything together after each cube, and keep going until the sauce thickens. Then pour it through a sieve so the smooth sauce ends up in a jug without all the lumpy bits and pepper corns.

Now just bring it all together. One top tip, before plating up the fish, run a blow torch over it to make the skin really crispy. Do the same with the courgettes and the tomatoes too. I don't generally go in for burned food but with this dish it really woks. Serve with chips or some light greens such as asparagus or french beans. Great with a cold glass of Muscadet.



Ingredients (serves 4)

2 chicken breasts cut into 1" chunks
50g of bacon lardons
2 ripe avocados, peeled, stone removed and cut into chunks
2 table spoons of Mayonnaise
1 Frisse lettuce cut roughly
2 salad tomatoes de-seeded and cut into quarters
1 chicory (aka endive) cut into chunks
2 Thick slices of bread
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
25g unsalted butter - softened
1 teaspoon of capers
Sprinkling of pine nuts


If you want to make your own mayonnaise I've already posted a good recipe that would go well with this dish. Click on the hyper link to find it.

Start with the hot stuff: put the lardons into a baking tray and into an oven pre-heated to 200 degrees. Also fry the chicken chunks in some vegetable oil and butter until brown and crispy. While that is cooking away cut up the lettuce, chicory, tomato and lay it out in a dish and dizzle with olive oil.

After 10 minutes, your chicken and bacon should be done. Set them to one side in a paper kitchen towel to absorb off any surplus oil or greasiness and to cool. Next, take your bread slices (this is a great way of using up old, stale bread), spread them with butter on both sides, cut them into 1" chunks, sprinkle with your chopped garlic and fry until crispy all over to make croutons.

Finally, in a bowl, add the chicken, bacon, avocado, croutons and mayonnaise and mix thoroughly. Spoon it over the salad stuffs already in your dish. Sprinkle with some pine nuts and capers. Season well and serve. Makes a lovely light lunch.




2 egg yolks
2 teaspoons of french mustard
2 teaspoons of white wine vinegar
The juice of half a lemon
2 teaspoons of cream
Freshly ground salt and black pepper
Good quality vegetable or rape seed oil (not olive oil -  too strong)


This is a whole heap easier to do with a food processor or some kind of a mechanized whisk. It can be done in a bowl by hand but your wrists will be aching by the end of it. And I'm all for physical excersize, but if there's one part of my anatomy that doesn't need a work out its probably my wrists. ANYWAY! Separate the yolks from the whites of two eggs. Put yolks only into your bowl. Add the mustard and mix. Now start to add your oil. The technique for doing this effectively is to add a small stream then whisk it thoroughly in. Then another small stream, then whisk again and so on. I've seen celebrity chef's on the TV add a constant stream while the kitchen processor is left running. It may be the deign of my machine but when I tried to do it that way most of the oil got splashed around the side of the inside of my bowl rather than got added to the mixture it self. Then when I finished I had big oily reservoirs around my lovely mayonnaise when it started to settle.

Once the mixture has started to thicken add your vinegar (which will water it down a bit) then carry on  with the oil. Once it's started to thicken again add your lemon juice. Once that is fully mixed in then add your cream, salt and pepper. Then continue with the gradual oil adding ritual. Its difficult to tell you exactly how much oil to add. It depends how thick and gloopy you want your mayonnaise to be. The general rule is that the more oil you add the thicker it gets. My test to see if it's ready is to spoon out a little bit on a teaspoon. If it keeps its shape and wobbles if you give it a gentle shake then it's ready.

Once you've got the basic method for making mayonnaise you also have the bedrock for making salsa verde which is beautiful with meaty fish, also sauce marie rose and thousand island dressing and a lot of others.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Really Simple Cream & Mustard Sauce


I like a nice piquant pepper and brandy sauce with my steak or a cream and mustard sauce with a pork loin chop. Here is an in between sauce that's a good substitute for both. It goes perfectly with fried or griddled steak, pork loin, pork chops or chicken breast. And it's so simple its probably illegal!

Ingredients (for 2)

50-75ml of water
15-20g unsalted butter cut into small cubes.
2 or 3 heaped table spoons of creme fraiche
100g of Philadelphia cream cheese
1 teaspoon of french mustard

The cooking:

Fry your steak or chop as you like it in a pan. When you remove the meat, deglaze the meat juices and crispy bits from the base of the pan with 50 to 75ml of pre-boiled water over a low heat, stirring with a spatula or wooden spoon for about 1 minute or 2. Add the butter and continue stirring until it has melted. Then chuck in the rest of the ingredients and stir until they are all combined and you have a smooth sauce. You might have to break up the cream cheese a bit to achieve this. Finish by grinding in a generous seasoning of black pepper.

That's it! Honsetly, I am not kidding that is all that is needed. Nice touch is to fry up some sliced mushrooms in butter and add them to the sauce before you spoon it generously over your steaks.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Lamb Shanks In Red Wine and Summer Berries

Ingredients (to feed 2):

2 Lamb shanks on the bone
2 Banana shallots finely chopped
2 Cloves of garlic finely chopped
150g Mixed summer berries such as raspberries, blackberries, blue berries etc
(Waitrose sell packs of frozen summer berries)
Large glass of red wine
2 Carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
50g Small garden peas or petite pois
Handful of parsley (about 6-8 sprigs)
The same sized handful of thyme
1 Sprig of rosemary
1 Bay leaf

The cooking:

This dish is suitable for a slow cooker as well as a conventional oven. Start by seasoning your lamb shanks with plenty of freshly ground salt and pepper. Set aside for a few minutes. Then, melt a knob of butter in a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Lay the lamb shanks in and seal on all sides. Keep turning them every 2 minutes until they are golden/brown on all sides and underneath. Set aside in your slow cooked, or in a casserole dish. Next, de-glaze the frying pan by adding a small glass of water to it, and stirring it gently over the heat for a minute, to absorb all the meat juices and and bits from the pan. Pour over the shanks.

Next, add another knob of butter to the pan. Throw in the shallots and lightly fry for about 2 minutes. Add the garlic and the berries. Turn the heat up and stir. Then add your wine and cook on the high heat until it has reduced down (about 4 to 5 minutes). Then pour over the shanks. Add your chopped carrots and lace all the herbs on one side (to make them easy to pull out once cooked). Finally top it up with water from the kettle so it nearly covers everything (just islands of meat sticking out of the top).

If you are using a slow cooker, put the lid on and cook on the "low" setting all day (approx 6 to 8 hours). If you are using an oven, put the lid on your casserole dish and place in an oven at 120 degrees c for 5-6 hours. Check it every couple of hours to make sure it does not dry out.

The only problem with slow cookers, is that they tend to produce watery sauces. So if you have opted for this method of cooking, when you are ready to serve up, thicken up your sauce first. I would do this by putting a sieve over a large jug and pouring the contents of the slow cooker through it. All the juices will pass through. All the meat and veg gets left behind. Return the meat and veg to the slow cooker (but turn it off), just to keep it warm. In a pan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter and add to it 2 table spoons of cornflour and stir into a paste over a medium heat. Then, gradually add the juices from the jug to it. No more than a cup full at a time. Every time you add some sauce, stir it with a whisk until it is all absorbed and then add the next. Keep going until you have used all the sauce then turn up the heat and whisk continuously until you get the consistency you want. Like a gravy.

Serve up with fresh green savoy cabbage, fine beans and some creamy mash potato.

A couple of variations you may want to try. If you find this sauce too quite bitter, then 10 minutes before serving up, stir in a tablespoon of honey to make it a sweet sauce. You can also add mustard to it if you want a bit more bight. its up to you really.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Braised Neck of Lamb Casserole with Butter Beans

Braised Neck of Lamb Casserole with Butter Beans

A traditional Provencal farm house dish. Still often a favourite on rural cafe set menus in the South of France. Tastes amazing, doddle to cook and uses cheap ingredients. For best results use fresh herbs rather than dried ones. Feeds 4.


500 - 600g of lamb neck fillets
5 salad tomatoes, chopped roughly into chuncks
500mls boiled water
2 tins of butter beans
200g of smoked bacon lardons
1 large handful of curly leaf parsley (6 or 7 sprigs)
The same quantity of thyme (6 or 7 springs)
2 bay leafs
1 sprig of rosemary
25g unsalted butter
2 table spoons of olive oil
6 whole garlic cloves peeled

The cooking:

Preheat your oven to 150 degrees and prep your ingredients. In a frying pan, on a low to medium flame, heat your olive oil and butter until it starts to froth. Fry your lamb fillets in the butter and oil for 8 to 10 minutes, turning frequently and seasoning with freshly ground sea salt and black pepper as you go. You want them to end up browned all over.

Remove from the heat and transfer the neck fillets into a casserole dish. Spoon the excess fat out of your frying pan and then pour in 100ml of your boiled water, return to the heat and stir, to deglaze your pan. In effect what you are doing here is absorbing all the crispy brown bits and all the meat juices from the pan. You should achieve this in less than 2 minutes. Once done, pour this liquid over your lamb neck fillets in your casserole dish.

Now add to the casserole all your other ingredients except the lardons and the butter beans. Specifically, that is your 6 peeled but not chopped garlic cloves, your tomatoes, the parsley, thyme, rosemary and bay leafs and as much water as is required to cover your ingredients in the casserole. Cover with a lid and place into your preheated oven and cook for between 1 hour 30 and 2 hours.

An hour before the dish is ready, place your bacon lardons on a baking tin and place them onto a shelf in your oven to crisp up. Once they have browned and reached the desired degree of crispness use a slotted spoon to separate them from the fat that has been rendered from them cooking and place them and your butter beans into your casserole for the last 45 minutes of cooking.

Serve up in a bowl with some rice and a chunk of rustic bread.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Chicken in cream and tarragon


When we used to visit my family in France, this was a great signature dish that my Auntie Sophie used to do. And the great thing is, it is really easy to double up ingredients if you have more mouths to feed.

Ingredients (to feed 4)

4 chicken legs
1 pint of chicken stock
A decent hand full of fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
10 baby button mushrooms
50-80g of peas (up to you really)
1 teaspoon of mustard
4 tablespoons of creme fraiche
2 table spoons of finely chopped tarragon
1 tablespoon of corn flour
25g of unsalted butter
Half a glass of white wine
Freshly ground sea salt and black pepper

The Cooking:

Start by melting the butter over a medium heat in a large, deep frying pan. Once it is foaming, lay your chicken legs in and fry in butter on all sides until the skin is brown and starting to crisp. Approximately 6-7 minutes on each side. Increase the heat and before the butter gets a chance to burn, add your white wine and let the liquid reduce down to about half its original content. Then transfer everything to an oven proof dish. Add in the flour, thyme and bay leaf, pour over the liquid from your frying pan and your chicken stock (just enough to cover the chicken), then cover with a lid and place into an oven, preheated to 180 degrees C. Cook for approximately 2 hours, so that the chicken is virtually falling off the bone. Check it every 20 minutes or so, to make sure that the stock is not drying out (if it is add more wine or stock). Give it all a good stir every time. 30 minutes before the end of your cooking time, take your casserole dish out of the oven. Lift out the chicken legs and place them on a baking tray or roasting tin and return them into the oven.

Gently fry your button mushrooms in butter. Be generous with plenty of ground pepper. While they are browning, add the creme fraiche and the tarragon to the liquid in the casserole dish and with a  wooden spoon, give it all a good stir until all the liquids are combined into one smooth sauce. If you are using a heavy dish like mine (rather than a glass one) best results are achieved if you do this bit over a hob on  a low heat, as it thickens the sauce nicely. Add the mushrooms and the peas into the sauce. Retrieve the chicken legs and put them back in the dish with everything else, season with salt and pepper, pop the lid back on and return to the oven for the final 30 minutes of cooking. Giving you the perfect amount of time to do any accompaniment you may fancy.

Serve up on a bed of rice and may be some vegetables Julienne.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Tuna Steak Salad with Chili Jam

Tuna Steak Salad with Chili Jam

A super lunch or light supper. Really tasty, very healthy and no carbs.

Ingredients (for 2)

2 Fresh Tuna Steaks
1 Teaspoon of Paprika
1 Little Gem Lettuce, shredded
2 Spring Onions, peeled and chopped
6 Whole Cherry Tomatoes
A Handful of Black Pitted Olives
4 Artichoke Hearts (You can buy jars of them on the Antipasti shelf of most supermarkets)
Roughly 3 inches of cucumber, peeled and diced (rather than sliced)
1 Red Pepper Chopped
A few chunks of feta cheese
1 Table Spoon of Dried Oregano
Olive Oil,
A Small Jar of Chili Jam

The cooking

Start with the salad as that takes the most time. Wash everything you are going to use in cold water, and peel and chop to your heart's desire. Then in a bowl mix your lettuce, red pepper, spring onion, artichoke hearts, cucumber, olives and feta cheese. Sprinkle over it the oregano, season with salt and pepper then drizzle generously with sweet, extra virgin olive oil. Make sure its all been mixed thoroughly so all the leaves have a coating of herbs and oil.

Warm a skillet (or small frying pan) over a medium to high heat. Lay out your raw tuna steaks, rub olive oil into both sides, season with salt, pepper and paprika on both sides and then pop into your frying pan. When the steaks have been frying for 1 minute, turn them over. After both sides have had their minute, remove from the heat and place on a chopping board.

Dish up your mixed salad onto 2 plates, slice your tuna steaks (hopefully revealing a pink interior) and lay on top of the salad. To give it some sweet heat, serve with a dollop of chili jam on each. Enjoy with a crisp white wine (eg pinot grigio)

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Salsa Verde - The Perfect Accompaniment For White Fish

Salsa Verde - The Perfect Accompaniment For Any White Fish

I first came across this on a holiday in the Canary Islands. This was 1991 so way before the one we were on had been developed. The place we ate in was in a village at the end of an unmade up road. Just a few fisherman's cottages and a restaurant. You ate what ever had been caught that day. This is one of their sauces and with fish that fresh, it tastes absolutely incredible. Hopefully, like everything on this blog, this is a great example of how to create the most amazing taste with very little time or effort.

Ingredients (enough to accompany 2 fillets of fish) :

The yolk of 1 fresh egg
1 teaspoon of lemon juice
1 teaspoon of powdered mustard
100ml of olive oil
1 crushed clove of garlic
A hand full of the following fresh herbs in equal proportion; Chives, Dill and Parsley (Chervil if you can get it)
2 fillets of fresh fish cooked your way. 

The work:

Start by separating the yolk from the whites in an egg. Put the yolk into a mixing bowl. Add your lemon juice and mustard and whisk gently together until combined. Step up the pace with your whisking, and while doing it, pour a thin, steady stream of the olive oil. Make sure it is all being thoroughly combined as you go. If need be, pause your pouring to allow you to catch up. You do not want globules of oil in the middle of this. You will find the consistency will begin to thicken. Congratulations! You have just made mayonnaise!

To finish its transformation into Salsa Verde, rinse your fresh herbs in some cold water and finely chop them up. Stir the herbs and the finely chopped garlic into the mayonnaise and it's done. You can refrigerate it and it will keep for up to a day if you want to prepare it in advance of using it. If you do this and find when you come back to it the oil has started to separate from the egg, that's nothing a brisk stir with a fork can't put right.

Dish up a big dollop of it on some pan fried or baked cod loins or salmon steaks. Or a nice fillet of mullet, sea bass or monk fish. Just a salad and some new potatoes on the side. That is all you need.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Chili Con Carne

Chili Con Carne

Ingredients (feeds 6)

800g of steak mince
1 stalk of celery finely sliced
1 Onion finely chopped
3-4 Garlic cloves crushed and finely chopped
1 Green pepper with core and seeds removed cut into slices
A handful of mushrooms sliced
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A fresh salad tomato cut into chunks
1 tin of kidney beans in water
100g of bacon lardons
1 or 2 chilis chopped (depending on personal preference for heat)
Half a glass of red wine
Quarter of a pint of beef stock
2 teaspoons of chili powder (hot or mild - again according to personal taste)
1 table spoon of paprika
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
1 teaspoon of marjoram

Accompany with: boiled rice or baked potatoes, refried beans, sour cream, guacamole and grated mild cheese.

The cooking:

Before you start, season your raw steak mince with plenty of salt and pepper and set aside for about 5 minutes. Fry ingredients off in a pan then transfer to an over proof dish for baking as you go along. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C and prepare your ingredients. 

Start by browning your mince. This is a recipe where you do not necessarily need premium quality mince to get the best out of it. In fact fatty mince gives it a better flavour. Once it is browned, it is inevitable that a certain amount of watery liquid will have been rendered off. Decant it away (as it tastes terrible) and put your mince into an oven proof casserole dish big enough to take all these ingredients. Rinse and wipe the pan (no need to be fastidious about it) then add a few drops of olive oil and over a medium heat,  fry up your celery, peppers, onion, mushrooms and garlic together. While they are in the pan, put your lardons onto a tray and into the oven and crisp them up. Once the vegetables are softened and golden add them to the casserole dish as well. Now using the same pan, turn up the heat and reduce down your wine till the liquid roughly halves in volume. Add that to the dish and by now your lardons should be crispy so add them too.

Into the casserole dish pour the stock, the chopped tomatoes (tinned and fresh), the cumin, the marjoram, chilli powder and paprika. If you have elected to use them also at this point add the chopped fresh chillis. Now here is as good a point as any to bring this topic up. Personally I like my chilli to have more of a "smokey" flavour than anything else. But I know there are people out there who are not satisfied until they break out in a sweat. It's up to you. Without the fresh chillis this will be a mild, smokey dish with a small hint of heat.With them added, make sure you have some water on hand when you eat it. Especially if you use the seeds as well as the flesh.

You should by now have used all your ingredients except the kidney beans. Give the whole lot a good stir so it is thoroughly mixed, then put a lid on the dish and bake in the oven for 2-3 hours, The longer the better. In fact if you have the time, drop the temperature to 170 and cook it all day. Check it every now and again and give all the ingredients a good stir. If it starts to dry out then add more wine. If it starts to resemble soup then pour off the surplus liquid. Good chilli needs to be the consistency of unset concrete in my view. Add the beans for the last 20 minutes of cooking.

Serve up with rice or on a baked potatoe with a side of refried beans. Give your guests a selection of toppings to add, preferably soured cream, grated mild cheese and guacamole. This is a good dish for a buffet at a party.

Friday, 13 February 2015

Chicken And Chorizo Casserole

Chicken And Chorizo Casserole

Ingredients (to serve 4):

4 Chicken legs separated into thighs and drumsticks (skin on)
A Whole Chorizo, peeled and cut into chunks
1 Sweet white onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 Garlic cloves peeled, crushed and finely chopped
A small handful of fresh thyme, chopped
2 Teaspoons of dried sage
3 Red peppers cut into 1 inch chunks
50g of Bacon lardons
6 Cherry tomatoes halved
100g of butter beans
3 cubes of dehydrated/powdered chicken stock
Olive oil, salt and pepper
Quarter of a glass of red wine
Quarter of a pint of chicken stock
A small hand full of black olives
An optional extra; a few slices of black pudding if you wish

The cooking:

Begin by crumbling the stock cubes into 4 tablespoons of warmed olive oil (warm your olive oil by popping it into an oven proof jug or bowl and heat at 150 degrees for about 2-3 minutes - do not use a microwave). Stir until thoroughly mixed into a paste then liberally baste over the chicken pieces and season with salt and pepper. Fry the chicken peices on a medium heat in a pan for about 5 minutes each side, until the chicken turns golden, then set aside in an oven proof casserole dish.

In a teaspoon of olive oil, and on a medium heat, fry the onion until softened, then add the chorizo to the same pan. After 2 to 3 minutes add the red wine and turn up the heat to reduce down so the liquid content roughly halves. Then add the peppers, sage, garlic, thyme and lardons (and black pudding too if you are using it). Once golden, add it all to the casserole dish, pour over the stock. Give it all a big stir and pop it into an oven pre-heated at 180 degrees and cook for about an hour and a half to two hours (or until the chicken is starting to come away from the bone). If it starts to dry out, add more wine. Half an hour before the end, add the tomatoes and the butter beans and mix thoroughly.

Great on its own. If you want it to go futher then serve with rice to pad it out. Deserves a full bodied red Rioja or Ribera del Duero.

Harissa Lamb, Merguez and Couscous

Harissa Lamb, Merguez and Couscous (Serves 4)


4 Lamb Chump or Loin Chops
4 Table spoons of Harissa Paste
1 Teaspoon of Cumin
4 Merguez Sausages
Some Good Olive Oil
100g of Dried Couscous
300ml of Boiling Water
Half a Cucumber, Peeled and Cut Into Chunks
Handful of Chopped, Fresh Coriander
1 White or Red Chicory (also called "endives") Cut Into Chunks
Cherry Tomatoes Halved
A Handfull of Black Olives
30g of Pui Lentils
4 Sundried Tomatoes sliced
Juice from a quarter of a lemon
3 to 4 Tablespoons of Greek Yogurt

The Cooking:

A couple of hours before cooking, make a marinade using the Harissa, cumin and 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Prod your lamb chops all over with a pointed knife and liberally coat with the combined paste, covering on both sides and put to one side in a covered dish.

Make your salad by combining the cucumber, coriander, chicory, cherry tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, lentils and olives in a bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice, then cover with yogurt and stir well until all is covered.

Fry your marinated lamb chops in a tea spoon of olive oil for approximately 8 minutes each side on a medium heat to leave it nicely pink in the middle, or 10 minutes each side if you prefer it more cooked. You can cook the merguez along side the lamb, and frying for 5 minutes each side until browned and cooked through. Alternatively you can bake both in an oven at 190 degrees. The lamb for 30 minutes, the merguez for 20. Turning regularly so they cook on both sides.

Prepare your bed of couscous by boiling 300ml of water and pouring over 100g of couscous in a pot and cooking on a high heat until the moisture has all been absorbed (about 7-8 minutes). Then serve up. Nice and spicy without being hot. Serve with a dollop of yogurt and a dollop of sweet chili jam if you have it, This would also be great for a summer barbecue.

Monday, 26 January 2015

Luxurious Chicken, Gammon and Leek Pie

Luxurious Chicken, Gammon and Leek Pie

Great idea to plan this as part of a 3 day menu, where you have gammon on day 1, roast chicken dinner on day 2 and use the left overs to make this delicious pie on day 3. Failing that, boil 3 chicken breasts in chicken stock in a covered pan for 10 minutes and roast a joint of gammon and use what you need to for this recipe and keep the rest back for another day.


Approximately 300g of cooked chicken, skinned and cubed
Approximately 300g of cooked gammon, with surplus fat cut off and cut into cubes
2 Leeks cut into slices
1 Onion finely chopped
250ml of Chicken Stock
200ml of milk
150ml Double Cream
75g on Unsalted Butter
Half a Glass of White Wine
50g Grated Mild Cheddar
2 Cloves of Garlic, Crushed and Chopped
2 Table Spoons of Plain Flour
Puff pastry to cover the dish your pie is in

The Cooking:

Lightly fry your leeks and onion on a low heat, using 25g of your butter. When softened, add your garlic and fry for a minute, then the wine. Increase the heat and reduce the wine down. Once the quantity of liquid has halved, reduce the heat, add the rest of the butter and once melted, add the flour. Keep stirring to form a goo, then gradually start adding and stirring in the milk a few drops at a time. Once all the milk has been added, continue to add the stock in the same way. Turn up the heat to allow to thicken. Finally add the cream and grated cheeses, stir it in then remove from the heat once the cheese has melted and let the mixture cool. When I do this, I usually do this preparation in the morning. Then I leave the mixture in the saucepan with a lid on through the day, until I am ready to do the final prep (below) before serving, as it only takes 30 minutes it can be done in tandem with mash and veg prep.

For the final stage, preheat an oven to 190 degrees C. Add the chicken, gammon and cooled mixture to an oven proof dish. Stir it all together. Cover with a puff pastry lid. Peirce with holes to let the steam out while cooking, and brush with a beaten egg to create a glaze. Place into the oven for 30 minutes or until the pastry is crisp and golden.

Sunday, 18 January 2015



Ingredients (to serve 6):

200g of Brioche Fingers
60g of Dried Sweet Cranberries
300ml of Double Cream
300ml of Milk
50g Unaslted Butter (Softened)
2 Whole Eggs
2 egg Yolks
40g Castor Sugar
4 Tablespoonfuls of Warmed Apricot Jam
3 Teaspoons of Brown Sugar
20ml of Grand Marnier

The Cooking:

Grease the inside of an oven proof dish with a generous knob of butter, then follow up with 2 table spoons of the jam, spread all over. Butter the edges of the brioche fingers and arrange them in the dish, tightly packed together with the butter acting as a cement between each, and a sprinkling of cranberries between each layer. Sprinkle what's left over the top.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks together with the castor sugar. Once fully combined, add the milk, cream and Grand Marnier and whisk to a cream (by hand). Pour the mixture over the brioches. Press them down firmly to ensure they fully absorb it, and are submerged below the surface of it. Leave for 20 minutes to continue absorbing.

Place the dish inside a roasting tin, and pour water into the tin so it comes approximately 1/2 of the way up the sides of the dish. Sprinkle with brown sugar. Place into an oven, preheated to 180 degrees C and bake for 45-50 minutes.

When you pull it out of the oven, glaze with the remaining apricot jam. Leave to stand for 10-15 minutes.

Serve warm with double cream. 

Duck in Port and Berry Sauce with Pack Choi and Mash

Duck in Port and Berry Sauce with Pack Choi and Mash

Ingredients (to serve 4):

4 Greshingham Duck Breasts
70g of Dried Cherries and Berries
300ml of Port
200 ml of Chicken Stock
50g of Unsalted Butter Cut into Cubes and Softened
Small Handful of Fresh Thyme
2 Pack Choi
2 Garlic Cloves Crushed and Finely Chopped
Olive Oil
3 Tea Spoons of Soy Sauce
4 Maris Piper Potatoes
50ml of Creme Fraiche
100ml of Milk

The Cooking:

Before you start cooking, score slashes into the duck skin and sprinkle coarse sea salt over it and rub in. Leave to one side for 30 minutes. The pack choi will also need to be halved length ways (from top to bottom), laid in a bowl, sprinkled with the crushed garlic, the soy sauce and a drizzle of olive oil, and tossed so the whole of the greenery is covered in the garlicy, sticky mixture. Leave it to soak it up. You will also need to pre-heat an oven to 180 degrees C. 

In a large pan, fry your duck breasts, skin side down over a medium heat for about 12-14 minutes. Once the fat from the skin has all rendered and the skin is left golden and crispy, turn them over to gently fry on the other side for about 2-3 minutes, then transfer into the oven for no more than 20 minutes. Unlike chicken, duck is meant to be served a bit pink in the middle so no need to leave any longer than this. Take 2 teaspoons of the duck fat and put in a separate pan to fry the Pack Choi in. Then disregard all bar 1 tablespoon full of fat which you will use to make the sauce. You don't need any more than that. In the interests of not blocking drains with fat or wasting good food in general, I recommend what you take out of the pan, you pour into a container and keep until the next time you want to make roast potatoes. Roasties cooked in duck fat are awesome!

To make the sauce, add the port to the hot duck fat on a medium heat and stir with a whisk until it deglazes. Add your thyme, cherries and berries and chicken stock, turn the heat up to bring to a bubble, stirring all the while. Once it starts bubbling add half your butter cubes (25g) and continue to stir in. When the sauce has reached it optimum temperature, it will start to thicken. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer, retrieve your duck breasts and add them flesh side down, to the pan with the sauce in it. Pour any juices in there as well.

Make you mash by peeling and slicing your potatoes and boiling them in a pan with half water and half milk in it and a dash of salt. After 15-20 minutes or so, the potatoes should be soft enough for you to push a fork through without much effort. At this point, drain and mash. Add the rest of your butter, your cream and your milk and with a whisk, stir into a light, fluffy puree. Season generously with black pepper and salt.

Finally, take your marinated pack choi and fry for 2 minutes each side in the duck fat you set aside in a separate pan. Once it has started to wilt it is ready to serve up.

Make a bed with the mash, lay your duck breasts on top and a pack choi half next to it on each plate. Strain your sauce from the pan into a jug or grave boat. Finishing touch, spoon a coupe of cherries and berries onto your duck and serve. Good dinner party staple this. Simple to do but looks impressive and tastes supreme.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Curried Parsnip Soup

Curried Parsnip Soup

Ingredients (serves 3):

1 Large parsnip, peeled and chopped
2 Onions, peeled and chopped
3 Cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
2 Maris Piper potatoes peeled and sliced
1 Table spoon of mild curry powder
1 Tea spoon of chili flakes
1.3 Litres of vegetable (or chicken) stock
1 Tea spoon of cumin
A pinch of paprika
A dollop of creme fraiche
Salt & pepper to season

The Cooking:

Melt the butter in a large pot over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and lightly fry for 5 minutes. Add the potato, parsnips, curry powder, cumin and chili flakes, stirring so all the vegetables are coated. Pour in the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before the end seasons well. Then Blitz in a blender until smooth.

Serve with a powdering of paprika and a dollop of creme fraiche with some rustic, crusty bread. Possibly the best tasting soup in the world. It also works with  pumpkin flesh if you want to substitue the parsnip. You will need about 150g of it.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

Blue Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms with Caramelised Red Onion Chutney

Ingredients (serves 2):

4 big, flat mushroom (preferably Portabello)
200g of Blue Cheese cut into small cubes (St Agur or Roquefort are best but I used Stilton in this one as I had some left over from Christmas)
3 sprigs of fresh thyme
25g unsalted butter
20ml of cold water
1 tablespoon of crushed walnuts
2 teaspoons of finely chopped parsley
A jar of good, caramelised, red onion chutney
A salad to accompany (I used dandelion leaves, rocket, olives and capers drizzled with balsamic vinegar)

The Cooking:

Cut your butter up into chunks (so it melts quicker), and place in a large pan (which has a lid). Turn on a medium heat. Pour in your water, and add the thyme. Place your mushrooms in flat side up (so the cup cooks first) and cook with the lid on the pan for about 10 minutes. Season well. Once they are softened and browned, turn the mushrooms over and cook (with the lid on again) for a further 2 minutes while you cut your blue cheese into chunks. Sprinkle the chunks of blue cheese into the upturned cup of the mushrooms and cover and cook for a further 2-3 minutes or until the cheese melts (or if you prefer, you can place under a grill). Sprinkle with crushed walnuts, finely chopped parsley and a big dollop of caramelised red onion chutney. Not forgetting some of the juice from the pan.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Vegetable Soup

Vegetable Soup

My "Granny Caerphilly" was a prolific soup maker. And the concept of a "recipe" would have had her scratching her head, as she just used what ever was hanging around in the fridge/larder. So in other words, if there is anything in this you don't like, just substitute it for something else you do. And it'll be fine! Also, this recipe makes 3 Litres of soup. enough for 10 servings. Obviously if you don't want that much soup, reduce ingredients proportionately. However, it keeps for up to a week in the fridge and you can freeze it.


1 Carrot, peeled and sliced
1 Leek, Sliced
1 Turnip, peeled and sliced
2 Celery Stalks sliced
1 Onion, peeled and sliced
(All the above vegetables should add up to about 1kg)
1kg of Potatoes, Peeled and Sliced (or the same weight of potatoes as you have veg)
3 Litres of Vegetable or Chicken Stock
3 Bay Leaves finely chopped
The leaves from a sprig of Thyme
1/2 a handful of Parsley, finely chopped
4 Basil Leaves, finely chopped

The Cooking:

After you've done all your peeling, slicing and chopping, put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the bottom of a pot big enough to take all this lot. Then add your vegetables and potatoes and fry them over a medium heat, stirring as you go. Once it has started to brown and soften add the 3 litres of stock (if you are using stock cubes/pots that equates to 4 dissolved in 3 Litres of boiling water) along with your fresh, chopped herbs. Cover it with a lid and bring to the boil. Then let it simmer for 20 minutes. 5 minutes before the end, season with freshly ground salt and black pepper. Finally, blitz it in a blender to your desired consistency (I like it really smooth, some prefer it more chunky - follow your preference on amount of blitzing).

Serve up with a dolop of creme fraiche and some freshly torn parsley leaves.

This is a very simple and quick recipe that makes delicious soup. It is also incredibly good for you. It contains 5 portions of veg, it is very low in both calories and fat and (thanks to the spuds) is also filling.