Monday, 29 December 2008


This recipe used to be a favourite of mine for inflicting on guests


It is posted again todayin response to a fervent request.

2 lemons
8 Tbsp white wine
3 oz castor sugar
4 - 6 egg yolks
1/2 pt double cream

Grate lemon rind and put with juice and wine in a bowl and leave overnight

Strain liquid

Whisk cream until stiff, add sugar and rewhisk

Add strained liquid and rewhisk until stiff again

Monday, 1 December 2008

Beef Casserole.

Yesterday I took a pack of organic stewing beef which I had removed from the freezer the day before. So I made it into a casserole using what I had in the fridge.

First I cut each piece in two to make 1 inch cubes, then I put them into an empty freezer bag into which I had placed 2 Tbsps flour, tied the bag closed and tossed them around until all the pieces were thoroughly coated with flour.

Then I put some olive oil and a bit of butter, suffficient to cover my large saute pan, heated it a bit and tossed in the flour-coated meat.

While the meat was starting to brown I peeled and chopped two large onions and a carrot. Normally I would have used several carrots, but there was only one in the fridge so I peeled and cut up two potatoes. I also chopped two leeks.

With all these vegetables added to the meat, I stirred them constantly until all the meat was browned and the vegetables were coated with the butter/oil mix.

At this point I stirred in some defrosted mushrooms.

Finally I added some stock made with a beef stock cub and some red wine sufficient just to cover.

After the pan had come to the boil I turned the temperature down and left it to simmer for three hours.

Some I shall eat and some I shall freeze in single serving portions.

Saturday, 15 November 2008

Tomato and Rice Soup


1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
30g/1oz butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
85g/3oz long grain rice (basmati)
2 tins of chopped tomatoes
290ml/½ pint chicken or vegetable stock
small bunch parsley, chopped
season to taste.

1. Sauté the onion and garlic in the butter, stirring occasionally, until the onion is soft and translucent. Add the rice, tomatoes and stock and cook for about 10 minutes until the rice is cooked.
2. Add the parsley and season.
3. Ladle into warm bowls, drizzle with olive oil and serve.

NB If, like me you use what is to hand and this means a tin of tomatoes instead of chopped tomatoes so that you need to blend the soup before serving,


You will blend the rice and have to cook some separately to add to the soup!

Apple and Ginger Cake Bars

This is the recipe from TBSITW. It is delicious!


115g/1/2 cup soft sunflower margarine (we use a soft olive oil spread)
115g/1/2 cup fruit sugar
2 large eggs
225g/1 1/2 cups plain/all purpose wholemeal flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
2 medium sizedapples, cored and coarsely grated (we don’t peel them)
75g/1/2 cup raisins, sultanas or golden raisins
3 pieces stem ginger in syrup, drained & chopped
2 tsp demerara sugar


20cm (8 inch) shallow square baking tin

Oven 180C/350F/gas mark 4

Grease the baking tin and line the base with parchment or wax paper.

Put the margarine into a mixing bowl, add the fruit sugar and beat until smooth, creamy and fluffy, then gradually beat in the eggs. (I add a small amount of flour along with the eggs.)

In another bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and spices, then add this to the creamed mixture and fold together using a rubber spatula. Try not to over-mix (it says) or the cake could have a heavy texture.

Stir in the grated apple, sultanas or raisins and chopped stem ginger, then spoon into the prepared tin.

Level the surface, then sprinkle with the sugar.

Bake for about 35 mins until the top is golden. Gently press the surface, the cake should feel firm - test the centre with a cocktail stick or skewer inserted into the middle of the cake. If it comes out clean the cake is done.

Cool for 10 mins, then run a thin, flat-bladed knife around the edge of the cake and turn out onto a wire rack to cool. When completely cool, cut into 12 bars and store in an airtight container.

Friday, 7 November 2008

Stuffed Peppers


2 peppers (capsicums)
5 oz basmati rice
5 oz peeled tomatoes. chopped
1 large onion. chopped 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
1large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 oz butter
2 eggs, whisked
2 Tbsps parsley, chopped


Soak the rice for 30 minutes, then drain.
Place the rice in a large pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile saute the onion and garlic until just starting to brown.
Drain the cooked rice and place into a large bowl.
Place the sauteed onion and garlic on 2 sheets of kitchen roll on a plate to drain.
Add the onion and garlic to the rice.
Add the chopped tomatoes
Add the whisked eggs and stir well.
Add the chopped parsley and stir again.
Cut the tops off the peppers and remove the seeds and membrane.
Fill with the stuffing mix.
Replace the tops and spray with olive oil.
Heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Spray the peppers with olive oil or drizzle olive oil over.
Place in oven for 40 minutes.

I developed this recipe as I had 2 peppers from the organic veg box goodie bag delivery and also had skinned frozen fresh tomatoes in the freezer.

The above amount of stuffing would do at least 3 peppers.

I have frozen the balance.

Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Cream of Mushroom Soup


6 oz chestnut mushrooms, cut small
1 1/2 pints chicken stock (either real or made with a Kallo chicken stock cube)
3/4 pint milk
2 Tbsps dry white wine or 1 Tbsp dry sherry
1 Tbsp plain flour
3 Tbsp single cream
ground black pepper and salt to taste


Place the mushrooms and stock in a heavy bottomed sauce pan and bring to the boil.

Simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove 2 Tbsps milk and add the rest to the pan with the wine.

Mix the 2 Tbsps milk and the flour to a paste.

Bring the pan back to the boil and stir in the flour and water paste. To avoid lumps, it is better to use a balloon whisk at this time.

Simmer for 3 minutes until thickened.

Stir in the cream and bring gently back to the boil.

Serve with some fresh chopped parsley.

Bring the pan back to the boil again

Saturday, 1 November 2008

Spinach Soup


a good bunch of spinach leaves, shredded
2 oz butter
2 onions, chopped finely
3 medium potatoes, chopped
2 1/2 pints chicken stock (if I don't have any fresh, I use Kallo organic chicken stock cubes dissolved in 2 - 3 p0ints boiling water.


Saute the onions and potatoes in the butter until onions are soft but not brown
Add the spinach and toss until wilted (At this point the only water you need is the water left on the leaves after washing.)
Add the stock, bring to the boil and cook ffor 30 minutes.

Remove from the heat and blend until smoothe

This soup benefits from a swirl of cream on serving.

Thursday, 16 October 2008

Shin of Beef

Yesterday I cooked a shin of beef, bought from a farmers market. The ingredients depend on what you have in the house (or choose to buy in advance)


1 shin of beef of a size to fit into your pan
3 potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 carrot, peeled and cubed (I only had one)
2 leeks, cleaned, with dark green bits removed, and the rest sliced into narrow rounds
1 celery (small) or 2 or 3 stems from a large one sliced thinly
1 large onion chopped finely
2 Kallo Just Bouillon beef stock cubes dissolved in a pint of boiling water


Put all the vegetables into a stockpot
Add bouillon mix until vegetables are just covered
Place shin on top
Bring to the boil then simmer gently for about 4 hours
Leave all in the pan until cooled.

I have an induction hob (boast, boast) and usually simmer vegetables at setting 2, but for this I turned it down after about half an hour to 1 so that it was barely bubbling.

Remove the meat to a plate and slice. (or just divide up as it is meltingly soft) The fat round the outside is so easy to remove and discard.

I had a small shin and divided the meat into enough for two meals with the rest cut up into the beef and vegetable soup, which is what is left in the pot.

Eat some of the soup over a day or two and leave the rest for later.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Pumpkin Terrine

Serves 4 – 6


1 pumpkin (6 or 7 lb, 8 in diameter)
1 cup finely diced onion
2 slices rye bread, diced
½ cup(packed) grated Swiss cheese
2 tsp prepared horseradish
1 ½ cup milk
1 – 2 cups vegetable stock
salt, black pepper, cayenne, nutmeg to taste

Optional rye croutons
2 tsp Dijon mustard


Preheat oven to 350 F

Prepare the pumpkin as though you were going to make a lantern, but stop short of carving the face, cut off the top, remove the seeds and stringy stuff

Place onion, bread, cheese, horseradish and mustard inside the pumpkin, mix with your hands until well combined
Add milk and stock (as much as you can fit in) along with the seasoning, stir it up

Line the pumpkin lid with a piece of foil, place it on top, place the filled pumpkin on an ungreased baking tin.

Bake until the pumpkin is tender (about 2 hours or so).

To test for tenderness, remove the lid and gently stick a fork into the side, it should go in easily

To serve, scoop deeply to bring some pumpkin pieces from the sides and bottom along with the soup. If desired top with croutons.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Leek and Potato Soup

I had been planning on making some tomato soup after I found 2 tins of tomatoes lurking at the back of the cupboard, but when I got my organic veg box delivery yesterday I found it contained 4 leeks, so reckoned it was better to make leek and potato soup just now and the tomato soup can wait.

Leek and Potato Soup


4 small or 2 large leeks
3/4 lb (350g) potatoes
1 large or 2 smaller onions
2 small garlic cloves, sliced
1 oz (30g) butter
1 pint water
4 heaped Tbsps Greek style yogurt
Make yogurt up to 1 3/4 pint (100 ml) with milk
A bouquet garni
Chopped chives or parsley to decorate
Salt and Pepper to taste


Trim and slice the leeks, rinse if necessary by cutting in almost half lengthwise and fanning out each side under a cold tap.
Peel and cut into chunks the potatoes
Melt the butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan and fry the onions and garlic gently for a few minutes until softened but not brown.
Add the leek and potatoes and bouquet garni.

(I always remember Gordon Ramsay showing a would be chef the best way to make a bouquet garni - by taking a thick green leaf from the top of the leek and putting the herbs (bay leaf, thyme, etc to taste) into it, fold the top half over the bottom part of the leaf containing the herbs, then tie with a piece of thread to hold it together)

Add salt and pepper to taste
Add the water, bring to the boil and boil for 20 minutes until the veg are cooked.
Remove the bouquet garni
Using a hand blender, whiz until not quite smooth.
Add the milk and yogurt and and whisk in to the soup.

This is a rather pale soup so it is improved in the presentation by sprinkling on some chopped parsley or chives.


I have been caught out once again. Since I had gallstones removed I cannot tolerate too much fat. I forgot that Greek style yogurt cntains just as much fat as double cream. Next time I would use 1 3/4 pint water or vegetable stock and just swirl a little yogurt or cream and a few sliced chives or chopped parsley to decorate, to serve.

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks Cheddar and Boursin

I receive regular updates from and tonight tried this recipe found by following a link to what turned out to be Delia online at the following link

I have never (funnily enough) tried stuffing any vegetable, so this was a big adventure. It was deicious.

In case the link does not work, here is Delia's recipe;

Stuffed Jacket Potatoes with Leeks, Cheddar and Boursin
In this recipe the potato is scooped out, mixed with soft cheese and topped with leeks and melted cheese.

Serves 2


2 large baked potatoes
1 leek about 4 inches long, trimmed and cleaned
1 ½ oz mature Cheddar, coarsely grated
1 x 80g pack ail et fines herbes Boursin
1 Tbsp single cream
salt and freshly milled black pepper


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

To prepare the leek, slice it almost in half lengthways, then fan it out under a running tap to wash away any trapped dirt.

Now slice each half into four lengthways, then into ¼ inch (5 mm) slices.

After that, put the Boursin into a medium-sized bowl and cut the potatoes in half lengthways.

Protecting your hands with a cloth, scoop out the centres of the potatoes into the bowl containing the Boursin, add the milk or cream and season well with salt and freshly milled black pepper.

Now quickly mash or whisk everything together, then pile the whole lot back into the potato skins.

Now scatter the leeks on top, followed by the grated Cheddar – pressing it down lightly with your hand – then place on the baking sheet and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the leeks are golden brown at the edges and the cheese is bubbling.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

Buttery Kedgeree

long grain rice measured up to the 8 fl oz mark in a measuring jug
16 fl ozs boiling liquid (see method)
1 ½ lb smoked fish fillets (haddock, cod or mackerel)
4 oz butter
1 onion chopped
1 tsp Madras curry powder
3 hard-boiled eggs chopped
3 heaped Tbsps chopped fresh parsley
1 Tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper
Parmesan on top

Place the fish in a saucepan and cover with 1 pint cold water.
Bring to the boil, put on a lid and simmer gently for about 8 minutes.
Then drain off the water into a measuring jug.
Transfer the fish to a dish, cover with foil and keep warm.
Using the same pan, melt half the butter and soften the onion in it for about 5 mins.
Next stir in the curry powder, cook for ½ min, then stir in the rice and add 16 fl oz of the fish cooking water.,
When it comes up to simmering point, cover tightly with lid, and cook very gently for 15 mins or until the rice is tender.
When the rice has been cooking for 10 mins, remove skins from fish and flake it.
Then, when rice is ready, fork in fish, eggs parsley, lemon juice and butter.

I used Basmati rice.

Sadly I could find no curry powder as I make most of my curries from scratch.

Still yummy.
Then cover pan with a folded tea towel and replace it on a very gentle heat for 5 mins.
Fork again and serve.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Mother's other Meat Loaf

1 lb round or shoulder steak minced
½ lb lean ham minced
1 teacup (or more) breadcrumbs
salt and pepper
good dessertspoon Ketchup
2 (or 3) eggs (whisked)
Add: -
½ beef cube dissolved or sauce

Steam for 2 hours at least

This is the recipe I made today (20/8/08)

I used 3 small slices of bread, and a good brown sauce instead of ketchup (as I had none)

I used 3 local free range eggs and half an organic beef cube.

I found this recipe was too much for my mother's stone jar (which holds 1 1/2 pints), so I made one lot and then a second lot.

I reckon the quantity of loaf mix was about one and a third times the quantity the jar would hold.

Have a look at the other recipe as that looks more likely to fit the jar.

Thursday, 31 July 2008

Cabbage with Potato, Feta and Cheddar Cheese

In response to a plea, here is the recipe before I have tried it, although I shall soon!


450g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
25g butter
4 Tbsp milk
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
450g cabbage cut into thin strips
Fresh ground pepper
125g cheddar cheese
75g feta cheese
½ tsp paprika


1. Put potatoes into salted water, bring to the boil and simmer until tender, about 15 minutes, drain and mash with butter and milk, season to taste.

2. In a pan, heat the olive oil and sauté the garlic for 1 – 2 minutes, or until just browned.

3. Add the cabbage and sauté until just wilted, not soft, add lots of black pepper.

4. Grease a baking dish and cover with the mashed potato.

5. Cover with the cabbage, add the cheddar and feta cheese, sprinkle the top with paprika.

6. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes in oven at 180 degrees until the cheese has melted.

Monday, 7 July 2008

Chicken with Yogurt and Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup

This evening, after bridge and a cup of tea with the Scrabble people, I made a different evening meal. When I looked yesterday, I found a vacuum bag of 4 very large chicken thighs (corn fed and free range from the Farmers’ Market), so I took it out of the freezer.

Today, after the Scrabble cup of tea, I made a recipe which I picked up from elder son last week. I think the recipe may have originated in a Milk Marketing Board recipe book, but I have changed it to suit what I have.

One of the ingredients is a tin of Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup!

Umm, this is something I never have in my store cupboard – the only tins are Italian Tomatoes (much better than watery British ones in cooking) and Baked Beans (a childhood throwback!)


4 chicken portions
Most of a large carton of organic Greek style yoghurt (I had no cream).
1 tin of condensed cream of mushroom soup.
(3 smoked garlic cloves, chopped finely – if you can lay your hands on them. they are less strong than ordinary garlic, so you can use more.
Seasoning to taste
Some paprika


Mix the ingredients (apart from the chicken) in a large bowl.
Lay the chicken portions on a flat dish (I use a lasagne dish)
Spoon the mix over the top.

Cook uncovered in the oven at 180 degrees for 45 - 75 minutes, depending on the size of your joints. (I found the 45 minutes suggested, not nearly long enough.)

I am not going to mention the blood blister caused by pushing the two arms of the can opener together when part of my palm was still caught in between!


I used rather large Farmer' Market chicken thighs for this recipe, and they were not cooked through at the end of the cooking time, so I had to put them back in the oven for almost half an hour.

By this time, of course, the coating was browning somewhat and drying out.

Also I found that, although smoked garlic is sweeter than usual garlic, it still benefits from frying before eating, so I shall make changes before the next time I cook this dish.

Any suggestions gratefully received!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Bombe Surprise

After making the mini pavlovas, I remembered this recipe from many moons ago. (I think The Frolicking Foodie has posted a similar recipe recently, but this is all my own!)

The reason for the name of the dish goes back to the film "Diamonds are Forever" - you will, of course, remember the Bombe Surprise scene.

As I said in my last post, I don't make meringues, but if you do, it takes:

Ingredients for Meringues

3 egg whites
3 oz caster sugar

Make meringues

Whisk egg whites till stiff. Add half the sugar and continue beating for 1 minute. Fold in the rest of the sugar with a fork.

Well oil a baking sheet with olive oil. Drop meringue mixture onto the sheet, 1 Tbsp at a time.
Bake in a slow oven for 2 hours. Turn off heat and dry meringues for 10 minutes. Remove from baking sheet with a spatula, and when cool break into small pieces.

Ingredients for Bombe

Meringues, as above, or bought ones to a similar weight
grated rind of 1 orange
3/4 pint double cream
3 Tbsps Grand Marnier, or other orange flavoured liqueur.***
caster sugar to taste

To prepare bombe

Whisk cream until stiff. Flavour cream with sugar, grated orange rind and Grand Marnier. Fold in broken meringues.

Well oil a cake tin or bombe mould. Pour in cream mix and cover with tin foil.

To freeze, pack in a polythene bag.

To serve

10 minutes before serving, dip mould in hot water and turn out.

Serve with fresh raspberries or strawberries.

There are, of course, absolutely no calories in this!

*** I don't drink liqueurs, so find that buying them in miniatures - usually round about Christmas when they are more plentiful - is better.

Mini Pavlovas

As you will know, I bought 2 punnets of strawberries on Saturday. They are still doing fine. I had strawberries with a dusting of sugar on two days, so when I saw small meringue nests on Tuesday at the farm shop, I bought a set of four. I have never been able to make meringues (they always end up like toffee), and I am deeply envious of my elder son's mother-in-law who makes pavlovas at the drop of a hat (and swears that they are so easy, grr).

Anyway, back to the meringue nests...

I took half of a small carton of double cream and whisked it till thick, whisking in some pomegranate seeds (following advice from daughter) and filled two nests with the cream mix. I then sliced a couple of strawberries on top of each and left them for a while for the meringue to soften a little.

Scrummy and so easy.

PS, of course I ate both!

Monday, 30 June 2008


Someone asked for a recipe for this and I promised to post my mother's recipe, however I cannot find it, so this is one that I have made.

Many recipes call for corned beef, but I don't think that is nearly so good as beef (roast, pot roast or even boiled)

I love onions, so have put in two, although I know my mother would have put in only one, whole, to be removed when the stovies were cooked; this was because my father could not eat onions.

As for the dripping, if you have roasted the beef, you will have your own, but many butchers (if you can find one that is not a supermarket) will sell dripping for stovies. This often has a layer of lovely beef jelly underneath, in which case you will not need beef stock, just a little water added to the cooking stovies.

I never give seasoning as I use very little and if you use the butcher's dripping with jelly you will probably need none.

I have vivid memories of going to Hunt Balls in my young married days and having stovies served up at about 6am before you went home.

Anyway, enough of this blethering - here is the recipe.


2 lb potatoes
2 onions
2 oz dripping left over from roast beef
½ pint water or beef stock
Left over beef, cut up


Melt the dripping in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over a low heat
Add the onions and increase heat to medium
Stir until all are browned
Turn down heat to very low
Peel and slice potatoes into pan
Add a little of the water or gravy
Cook over a very low heat until potatoes are soft and breaking, stirring every 10 minutes or so, and adding a little stock when necessary to prevent sticking.
Add the meat, stirring until hot through.

Easy peasy!

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Kohl Rabi

Someone left a comment on my blog about kohl rabi, wondering how to cook it.

If you do a Google search, you will come up with several recipes.

One says that it is something that often turns up in organic vegetable boxes and then lies lurking in a corner of the fridge until it is thrown out.

However, I reckon that all these new experiences are a challenge to be tried at least once.

The one I had was a purple one and instead of doing anything fancy, I served it up with a cauliflower cheese this evening. I cut off all the extraneous bits, then peeled it. The flesh is white.

I chopped it and put it in the pan with the potatoes, with the greens steaming on the top.

It tastes somewhat like turnip (a cross between white turnip and Swede). I would certainly welcome it again.

I think I have probably said before that the organic vegetable box has changed my eating habits - and very much for the better.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Smoked Trout Pate

I bought some beautiful smoked flakes of trout at the Farmers Market and made this pate to take to elder son next week - after making it I froze it.


125g/4½oz smoked trout
100g/3½oz crème fraîche or soft cream cheese
2 tsp horseradish sauce
juice of ½ lemon
To serve

slice lemon, sprig flat-leaf parsley, brown bread or toast


Place all the ingredients into a food processor and whiz until smooth.
Divide between four small ramekins and decorate with a slice of lemon and flat-leaf parsley. Serve with thin brown bread or toast.

I am not a great fan of horseradish, so I stick with the lemon and add a little paprika.

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Salmon Steak

This is hardly worth calling a recipe, but at the Farmers' Market today I bought a salmon steak from Loch Duar and served it obviously for tonight's meal.

I dipped it in seasoned flour and fried it in butter while the potatoes boiled. In fact along with the potatoes I boiled some white turnip and above that I steamed some flat beans.

I served it with a nice Claret (a bargain from Tesco) and kept remembering the scene in Moonraker where the two villains came in with the dinner trolley, and a bombe surprise on the bottom shelf. They produced a nice claret (emphasis on the second syllable) and James Bond exclaimed "A claret - with fish?", so of course he was on to them and pulled the villain's hands down between his legs and hooked the bombe surprise onto them before tossing the two of them overboard. Of course it really was a bomb without the e!

Always makes me laugh, that scene, but I think a nice Claret goes well with poached salmon.

After I had raspberries with Greek style yoghurt.

I think I could besaid to be 'stappit fu'

We got the best of the weather this morning as later it has rained intermittently.

Saturday, 31 May 2008

Pea Shoots and Smoked Pancetta Soup

I shamelessly acknowledge that I got the inspiration for this from The Frolicking Foodie. Until I read that post I had never heard of pea shoots, so when I saw them in Marks and Spencer yesterday I had to buy them to make the soup.

I have made a few changes (as you do!), such as using lovely Italian Pancetta instead of bacon and using a chicken stock as I had some, and didn’t have ham stock. I was also a bit concerned that the ham might overwhelm the taste of the pea shoots.


2 Tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, diced
1 medium potato, diced
120g Smoked Italian pancetta***
1 pint chicken stock


Fry the shallots in the oil for about 5 minutes until soft, but not brown.
Add the pancetta and potatoes and continue to fry for another 5 minutes.
Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 15 minutes until the potatoes are soft.

Leave to cool a little, add the pea shoots then blend.

As frolicking foodie noted, they do try to fight their way up out of the soup, but I kept pushing them down with the hand blender (known in my family as the "feersum enjin").

Perhaps I should explain the reason for this:

Younger son and daughter in law gave me a hand blender as a housewarming present some years ago. When I was asked what I had been given, on a couple of occasions (obviously suffering from early alzheimers) I said it was an um.... And so it was christened an "Um". Later I had to buy another one, which was rather more powerful, so I christened it the "FeersUM Enjin".

Fans of Iain M Banks will understand the allusion, the rest of you will just have to scratch your heads and say "She's at it again!"


*** I think that 60g would be enough of the pancetta, and would also be inclined to try unsmoked. I would love to hear how anyone else got on with this recipe.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Risotto with Peas

This is one of my favourite risottos, as it is so easy and uses very readily available ingredients.

Daughter telephoned me for the recipe this week, so I shall share it with you.

Basically all risottos are the more or less the same, and it is worth trying out variations on the theme.

Serves 4


1 litre chicken or vegetable stock
85g / 3oz butter
3 shallots, chopped finely
115g / 4oz pancetta diced (or bacon bits)
280g /10oz Arborio rice
150ml / ¼ pint dry white wine
225g / 8 oz fresh peas
Salt and pepper
Parmesan cheese to garnish

Pour the stock into a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer gently.

Melt 55g / 2oz of the butter in another large, heavy-based saucepan. Add the shallots and pancetta and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally until the shallots are softened.

Add the rice and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-3 minutes, until all the grains are thoroughly coated and glistening.

Pour in the wine and cook, stirring constantly, until it has almost completely evaporated.

Add a ladleful of hot stock and cook, stirring constantly, until all the stock has been absorbed. Continue cooking and adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, for about 20 minutes.

Add the peas, then continue adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, for about a further 10 minutes, or until the rice is tender and the liquid has been absorbed*.

Stir in the remaining butter and season to taste with salt and pepper. Transfer the risotto to a warmed serving dish, garnish with Parmesan and serve immediately.

* I often find that it takes longer than 10 minutes for all the rice to be absorbed

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

Liver and Onions

Yesterday, on my way home from my physiotherapy, I called in at the big garden centre. Amongst other things, I bought 2 slices of lambs liver. I don't remember the last time I had that - and the butcher said that it is not always available.

So tonight, that was what was on the menu - no liver and bacon (as I had no bacon!), so just liver and onions. This is a very easy recipe.

First, toss the liver in seasoned flour.

While potatoes were boiling, I added a sliced onion to a reasonably large frying pan with olive oil and fried it for about 10 minutes.

Greens need to be cooked for an appropriate time to suit.

I remembered to turn the potatoes down (!)

After 4 minutes, I pulled the onions to the outside of the pan and added the liver, cooking it for about 3 minutes on each side.

Just before the potatoes were ready, I removed the liver and placed it and the onions on a heated plate.

At that point I added some red wine to the frying pan and raised the heat to leave it to reduce and thicken.

Serve all on a heated plate.

I use microwave plate warmers, which are the best thing since sliced bread. I bought them from Lakeland limited, but don't know if they are still available.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008


Last night I removed a single serving of cooked mince from the freezer ready for me to heat it through for my meal tonight. (I have posted several recipes for mince, the latest being on May 1st.)

With the mince, I shall serve organic potatoes and carrots, together with steamed white sprouting broccoli and a chopped leek.

White sprouting broccoli does not really look just like purple sprouting broccoli only white. In fact it is a bulkier plant and has more leaves on it as well as a more defined head. I prepare it by chopping off the end of the stem and then cutting it across in the same way as I would with spring greens. You eat the leaves as well as the flower.

The organic potatoes are reaching the end of their time, but still cook fine after peeling and removing a few "bits". I think the addition of chopped carrot gives a better flavour to the potato.

However, I have cheated today and ordered some Jersey Royal potatoes as they are so good and last for such a short time.

In fact, I think that I might just cook the Jersey Royals with some greens and never mind the meat tomorrow.

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Creamy Spinach Soup


2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
440g/16oz spinach
2 large or 3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped to half inch cubes
600ml/20fl oz double cream
or 600ml/20fl oz semi skimmed milk
1200ml/42fl oz hot water
2 vegetable stock cube
4 garlic clove,
crushedtoasted bread, to serve


1. In a saucepan heat the oil and add the chopped onion, garlic and potato for five minutes to soften.
2. Add the spinach, hot water, vegetable stock cube and garlic and bring to the boil.
3. Cook for 20 minutes.
4. Blend the soup, together with most of the cream or milk, with a hand-held blender and serve with fresh brown bread.
5. Add a swirl of cream to each bowl.

Later: I found this soup too creamy, so I have postedd my usual spinach soup recipe.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Macaroni Cheese

This is comfort food.


1 mug short cut macaroni
2 oz butter
2 oz flour
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 pint milk
1/2 lb cheddar cheese, grated

a handful of lardons, fried, then drained of fat on kitchen roll
1 onion, fried in butter, drained on kitchen roll


Bring a pan of water with a little salt and little oil to the boil, then add the macaroni and boil for 10 minutes (or till al dente).

Drain and place in a casserole dish.

For the sauce:

Melt the butter in a heavy based pan, then stir in the mustard and flour.
Keep stirring until all the flour is taken up by the melted butter.

Take pan off the heat and add a pint of milk, by adding a little at a time and stirring all the time so that it does not go 'lumpy' Do this slowly and carefully until the mixture is liquid, then you can add the rest of the milk more quickly. To rescue "lumps", remove pan from the heat and whisk thoroughly.

Bring to the boil slowly stirring all the time until the sauce thickens.

Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese until it has melted.

Add to the macaroni in the casserole dish.

If you like, you can then add the extra ingredients and stir them in with a fork.

Sprinkle some more grated Cheddar over the top (or alternatively a mixture of grated cheddar and breadcrumbs for a crispier top.)

Place in the oven at 180Celcius or until mixture is bubbling and cheese topping is browning.

I should have said that this probably serves 2 hungry young people, but it does 4 meals for me!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Left - Over Mince

Today, I was still rather tired and sore, so I looked at what was left in the fridge.

1 serving of mince, onions and baked beans ( beanz meanz fartz).

1 serving of mashed potato, carrot and turnip (Swede).

Easy Peasy.

Put the mince mixture into a pan on top of the stove, brought it to the boil then lowered the heat to keep it bubbling.

Heated a plate in the microwave (using rubber - or something like it -warmer)

Then heated freezer container of veg in microwave for about 3 mins till hot.

Served the lot onto hot plate.

This is as easy as Dr and Mrs Jobbing Doctor's Pizza

Thursday, 1 May 2008


Today I was so tired after what I had got up to this morning that I wanted a really easy, soothing meal tonight.

I had taken a pack of (about 1 lb) mince from the freezer yesterday, and so I looked in the fridge. I found 2 onions, 1 rather small turnip (Swede), a few carrots, and no potatoes. Fortunately there were still some potatoes left from my visit to the (not organic) farm shop.

So I peeled and chopped two onions and added them to the pan with the mince.

I browned the mince and onions in the little fat from the meat, then thickened it.

To thicken, I used 2 teaspoons of cornflour and 1 teaspoon Bisto, draked with a little water and made up to a mugful, added to the mince and brought to the boil, stirring all the time.

After that I turned the heat down and left it to cook for about two hours.

Normally I would have added mushrooms, but I didn't have any and I didn't have the energy to go and get any.

Meantime I chopped up the vegetables remaining in my fridge.

1 very small turnip (Swede), 2 "dirty" carrots and some potatoes.

Cooked the vegetables, mashed them and served.

Tomorrow I shall have left-over mince and left-over vegetables and shall update this post.

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Poached Eggs

I admit to my shame that I have just found out how to make proper poached eggs, I often cook 2 at time, so they often got kind of mixed up with each other, at least the whites did.. Even 1 egg got into a bit of a mess in the pan.

Then the best sister in the world made breakfast for 3 and produced beautiful eggs with 'puffed up' whites, and each egg separate.

So today I had a go and this is what I did:

I put on a (non-stick) pan of water with the addition of a small quantity of vinegar. I hate any malt vinegar, so it was balsamic vinegar.

I brought this to the boil, while in the meantime cracking 2 eggs into a mug each.

I turned the heat down so that the pan was on a rolling boil, and slid in the eggs.

I cooked them till they looked ready (sorry this is no use, so I think it was about 4 minutes) I always find it strange that a poached egg takes virtually the same time as a boiled egg to cook.

While they were cooking, I split a roll, buttered both sides and made my cup of tea.


Not quite as pretty as the best sister in the world's ones as they did not really puff up,

But success! they kept themselves to themselves, so to speak, and there was no taste of vinegar.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Pot Roast

Today I made a very easy recipe which uses cuts of beef that are not tender enough for roasting. I used a topside of beef.

It is an infinitely variable recipe and depends on what you have in the house.

The principle is that you make a bed of vegetables, place the joint of beef on top , cover the vegetables (not the beef) with water ( salt to taste after adding the water), and give the whole thing a long slow cook.

Today, I looked in the fridge and took:

1 small turnip (Swede)
2 large carrots (1 red, 1 white)
2 onions
1 leek.

All were washed, chopped and added to my stock pot, then the meat placed on top.

(I had to make a bit of a well in the vegetables to hold the meat as the pan was not otherwise tall enough.)

I then added water to the top of the vegetables, salted it and brought it to the boil.

I love my hob as I was able to turn it down to the usual 2 setting and after about an hour was able to turn it down to 1 and it continued to simmer.

What a good meal it made.

I think that even a relatively small joint will make enough meat for 3 meals.


I have whizzed the stock and vegetables and so have a good soup as well as cold meat for at least 2 more meals.

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Cauliflower Gratin


1 onion, diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 small cauliflower
1oz plain flour
1oz butter
little butter for frying
½ pint skimmed milk
3 oz Scottish mature cheddar, grated


Place the onion and garlic in a heavy based pan and sauté in a little butter for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Break the cauliflower into florets and add to the pan, continue cooking with a lid on, so the vegetables cook partially in their own steam while you make the sauce.

Place the flour and butter in a saucepan over a moderate heat to make a roux, gradually add the milk, stirring between additions.

Remove from the heat and add the cheese. You can also add mustard and black pepper to give it a nice kick. (I always add 1 tsp Dijon mustard for every pint of cheese sauce.)

Place the cauliflower mixture in an ovenproof dish and cover with the sauce, sprinkle more cheese over the top and bake for about 20 minutes until the cheese is golden brown.

Friday, 4 April 2008

Lamb Curry

This recipe is also shamelessly stolen, but this time from younger son. I prefer coconut milk rather than stock.

Serves 4


Cooked Lamb
Fat from roasting lamb
2 onions
2 carrots
1 green pepper
2 green chillies
1 tin tomatoes
½ Tbsp ground cumin
½ Tbsp ground fenugreek
½ Tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp cardamom seeds
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground ginger
1 Tbsp ground turmeric
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cloves garlic.
½ pt stock ( may be worth trying coconut milk instead)
1 glass red wine
1 tsp mustard
1 Tbsp mango chutney


Fry onions. Add spices, chillies and garlic and continue to fry gently.

Throw in tinned tomatoes, vegetables and meat. Add Stock, red wine, mustard and mango chutney.

Cook for at least an hour on a very low temperature.

Indonesian Chicken Curry

This is a recipe I have shamelessly stolen from elder son and daughter-in-law. It is absolutely delicious and can be made to suit a variety of tastes as to heat of a curry by adding more or less cayenne pepper.

Serves 4


1 Tbsps sunflower oil
1½ lb (675g) chicken breasts, skinned, boned and cut into pieces (I use them already boned - skinning and cutting are easy)
6 oz (175g) onions peeled and sliced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
3 tsp (15ml) ground coriander
2 tsp (10ml) ground cumin
2 tsp (10ml) ground lemon grass (or Bart’s lemon grass in sunflower oil)
6 whole green cardamoms
¼ tsp (1.25ml) cayenne pepper (I use a bit more)
½ pint (300ml) chicken stock
¼ pint (150ml) single cream
3oz (75g) creamed coconut (in pieces)
1 Tbsp (15ml) light soy sauce
1 Tbsp tomato puree
4 tsp (20ml) soft light brown sugar
15oz (425g) tin mango slices rinsed and drained (or peach slices if you can’t find mango)


Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok and fry the garlic and onions until golden.
Sprinkle over the coriander, cumin, lemon grass, cardamoms and cayenne pepper
Fry gently for 2 or 3 minutes.
Add the chicken pieces a fry for about 10 minutes.
Stir in the stock, cream, coconut, tomato puree, soy sauce and brown sugar.
Slowly bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until the chicken is tender and the sauce has thickened to a coating consistency.
Stir in the mango slices.

This looks complicated but in fact it is really easy. I always have my ingredients laid out ready before I start cooking, with the spices measured onto one plate.

When eating, watch out for the whole cardamoms!

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Casserole of Pork Cheeks

I bought the pork cheeks at the Farmers' Market, even though I had never heard of them, never mind tried them, before. In my family I was always known as the casserole queen, so here goes with another one.

To cook this recipe I use a large saute pan on my induction hob. The lid is so well fitting and the hob so controllable that no liquid is lost during the cook. In the absence of something similar, I would do all the frying in a large frying pan, then transfer to a casserole dish and put in the oven for a long slow cook

3 pork cheeks, cut into bite sized pieces (a sharp knife is the easiest way)
3 onions, chopped finely
3 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Half of each of a red pepper, a green pepper and a yellow pepper, chopped
3 tomatoes, skinned, cored and chopped finely
about 8 good sized closed cup mushrooms, chopped
Left overs from a bottle of light beer.

Fry the onions and garlic in a herb infused oil (or other oil - I am just boasting here - in fact it was a gift from Le Chef) - until soft.
Add the peppers and fry till soft.
Add pork cheeks and fry until brown.Add mushrooms and stir through.
Add tomatoes and beer
Stir through and bring to the boil.
Cook slowly with the lid on until tender

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Elaine's Famous Potato Salad

Potatoes (peeled if old, scrubbed if new) boiled and sliced - leave to cool.
I usually boil about 20 baby new potatoes or 20 pieces of other sizes.

Pancetta or bacon bits fried (good handful), or crispy bacon crushed - leave to cool.

Shallot or two, diced small.

Parsley (handful), chopped.

Chives (handful), chopped.

Mix all together with Helmanns mayonnaise sufficient to coat.

Extremely moreish

Place in bowl covered with clingfilm and put in fridge. It will last for a few days - if you give it the chance!

Tinker's Casserole

I was intrigued to find this recipe in my recipe book* as I have not made it for years; it was a staple part of my repertoire in the 70s.

1lb chuck steak cut into 1” cubes
1 oz seasoned flour
4 oz bacon trimmings, chopped
2 carrots, sliced
1/2 pint light ale
2 Tbsps Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp thyme
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
4 oz sliced mushrooms

Toss steak in seasoned flour
Fry bacon in large pan without fat until golden
Add steak and fry quickly until golden
Add remaining ingredients except mushrooms and bring to boiling point

Turn into a 2 1/2 pint casserole and cook at 325F or 170C for 1 1/2 hours. Add mushrooms and cook for another 30 minutes

* later: To avoid confusion here, I should add that my "recipe book" is a collection of recipes made over a number of years, originally in a ring back folder, but now on my computer

Meat Loaf

This was my mother's recipe. She never bought mince (and this was long before BSE scares or the horrifying discovery of mechanically recovered meat), she always used round, or rump steak. She used to ask the butcher to mince together the meat steak and the ham. If he was given advance notice, he would do it before closing so that any left over ham did not contaminate other mince meat for other customers.

¾ lb mince )
¼ lb ham ) minced together
crumbs from 3 slices of bread
salt and pepper
1 beaten egg
little milk
little tomato ketchup
few drops Worcestershire sauce

Mix together and place in greased bowl

Cover with greaseproof paper

Instead of a greased bowl, my mother used to use a cylindrical earthenware dish, which made the meat loaf easy to slice.

Steam for 2 hours

Pheasant Stroganoff and Basmati Rice

This serves one

butter for frying
½ onion, finely chopped
2 oz button mushrooms, sliced
1 pheasant breast, cut into thin strips (check for shot / feather bits)
¼ teaspoon Dijon mustard
salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 dessertspoon brandy
50 mls (minimum) crème fraiche or soured cream
freshly chopped parsley

Melt butter in large frying pan. Add the onion and fry gently till soft.
Add the mushrooms and fry for two minutes.
Add the pheasant to the pan, season well and stir in the mustard.
Fry briskly for 5 mins, turning the meat frequently.
Stir in the brandy and crème fraiche. If using soured cream don’t boil or the cream will curdle.
Check the seasoning and serve with parsley.

This is of course based on a Beef Stroganoff recipe, but works very well with pheasant.

I am very lucky to get some game from time to time.

Basmati rice has a much better texture than long grain.

Monday, 31 March 2008

Aunt Lily's Chocolate Balls

This recipe was handed down by my late Aunt Lily (bet she'd have loved the internet had she lived long enough. She was a very intelligent lady who was born before the 20th century opened and even went to University to graduate MA, before it was normal for women to graduate.

12 Digestive biscuits (crushed)
4 oz butter
3 Tbsps coconut
2 Tbsps drinking chocolate
1 small tin Nestle’s milk
2 Tbsps sherry (rum is better, or Tia Maria) Chocolate vermicelli

Melt milk and butter DO NOT BOIL

Add other ingredients, then sherry, rum or Tia Maria

Leave overnight to harden. Roll into balls and coat with chocolate vermicelli.

I made this recipe in October 2008 and added half a cherry in the middle of each ball. I think that a whole cherry could be even better.

Chocolate Balls

4 oz butter
4 oz syrup
10 Tbsp porage
10 Tbsp coconut
4 Tbsp drinking chocolate Chocolate vermicelli

Melt butter and syrup
Mix well
When cool, form into balls and coat with chocolate vermicelli

Small Buns

I made these buns today (22 May) and have updated the recipe a bit.

This recipe was always one of my favourites when I had other mothers round for tea as you could make so many varieties from one basic recipe.

4 oz butter
4 oz caster sugar
2 eggs
4 oz self-raising flour
little milk

Cream the butter and sugar together until it is soft and thoroughly mixed. If you are using the butter from the fridge, better to leave it to soften for a while (I didn't and it was very hard work).

Add the flour and eggs in two amounts to make sure the mix doesn't curdle.

Place a good teaspoon in each baking case in a bun tin (makes sure they will turn out fine!)

You should get about 18 buns.

Place in an oven at 160 Celcius for 20 mins (until ready)

For variety you can add to basic mix

mixed fruit
Drinking chocolate

You can ice them with plain icing or cut the top off and then cover the new top with butter icing. You then cut the cut off part in half and place them on top of the butter icing to make fairy cakes.

You could use butter icing or chocolate icing or chocolate butter icing, the permutations go on.

With mincemeat I always liked to use icing sugar made to a coating consistency with lemon juice.

For the butter icing, I find it helps to add a teaspoon or so of water to the icing sugar before creaming as this prevents clouds of icing sugar flying all over the place.

For the icing, I used a few drops of lemon juice to give a bit of flavour.

Crunchy Chocolate Truffle Cake

3 crushed Crunchie chocolate bars
600g dark chocolate (50-60%cocoa solids)
140g liquid glucose
600ml double cream, lightly whipped
sifted cocoa to serve

Melt the chocolate and glucose together (? use microwave) then cool for 5 minutes. Tip in the crushed Crunchies, stir, then fold in the cream.

Once blended, tip into prepared tin (23 cm loose-bottomed cake tin, lined with baking parchment and lightly oiled). Tap the tin to level the surface.

Cover and chill overnight - or for a couple of days. Dust with cocoa and serve in wedges with pouring cream


This recipe also goes back many years and may have been my mother's.

4 oz plain flour
2 oz cornflour
2 oz icing sugar
4 oz butter

Cream butter and sugar
Add flour and butter, folding in with a metal spoon
Press into a 7” sponge tin
Prick well
Bake on a middle shelf at 300 for 45 minutes until light brown

Mark for cutting when hot
Remove from tin when cold

Chocolate Squares

These recipes go back to when my children were small and were passed on by a friend. I am pretty sure Royal Scot biscuits no longer exist, but I am sure digestive biscuits would do fine (although Royal Scot were a kind of half way house between digestive and shorbread).

1 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp golden syrup
2 Tbsp drinking chocolate
1/4 lb butter
1/2 lb Royal Scot biscuits
8 - 10 squares chocolate

Melt sugar with syrup, drinking chocolate and chocolate (it is always important to use good quality chocolate).

Add melted ingredients to crushed biscuits
Mix well and press into baking tin
Leave overnight
Coat with melted chocolate and sprinkle with vermicelli, then cut with a knife into serving portions.

Golden Krispies

4 oz toffee )
4 oz marshmallows ) Melt slowly stirring all the time
4 oz butter )

When all melted add:

6 oz Rice Krispies

Mix well. Press into patty tins and remove when cold

Or you can form them roughly and put them into paper cases.

I wish I hadn't talked about this with daughter at the weekend, as I can just envisage the taste!

They are a bit addictive.

I made some this morning, April 3rd, using 200gms marshmallow, 200gms toffee (a fairly hard one is best) and 200 gms butter with 300 gms Rice Krispies. This quantity made about 30 Krisppie cakes. Wonder how long they will last!

Cottage Pie

Inspired by frolicking foodie, I have decided to set up a new blog with just recipes. Many of them have been handed down in my family and some have been invented. As you will see, many of them are very simple, but none the worse for that.

Today I made what my family called shepherd's pie, although it ought more accurately to be called cottage pie.

I got 4 x 1lb packs of Limousin mince from the farm shop (it was one of their beasts which they sent to the local abatoire). I had a further small turnip (swede) from my organic vegetable box, so when I went to the farm shop today, I bought another turnip (and also some potatoes, as I could see I would run low.) The total shop included 1 lb mushrooms, 1 cauliflower, some yellow and some purple carrots, some beautiful tomatoes, 2 plums and 1 pack of grapes.

So, yesterday, I browned 1lb of mince with 2 onions, then added some browning and some cornflour mixed to a paste with water and then thinned down a bit with water.

So, this was brought to the boil until it thickened.

Then I added the mushrooms and stirred them well in.

I have wonderful pans which do not lose the liquid, so I left them to simmer at 2 on my induction hob for about an hour.

At this point you can add seasoning to taste (such as Worcestershire Sauce or HP Sauce). I tend to use very little salt in any of my recipes as I like to taste the food..

Once the mince was cooked (after about 40 minutes or so) I spooned it in to a small oblong (or oval would do) casserole dish.

Today, I peeled and chopped 1 large turnip (Swede) and cooked it for 40 minutes.

I then mashed it with some butter and spooned it over the mince, flattening it till it was level.

I also peeled, chopped and cooked some potatoes (to make about 16 pieces when chopped), then mashed them with some butter.

This also got spooned over the mince and spread about with a fork till level. After that I drag the fork over the surface of the potato to roughen it.

Then I grated some cheese over the top and placed the dish in the oven for about 40 minutes at 180 celcius.

It is worth noting that any left over mashed swede or potato can be frozen for future use.

They can also be reheated in a microwave to give 2 vegetables with another meal (if, like me you want to cut down on work)