Sunday, 13 April 2014

Almond and Lemon Biscuits

Almond and Lemon Biscuits
Makes a dozen (depending on size)

170g self raising flour
50g ground almonds
75g caster sugar
A pinch of salt
Zest of one lemon
A squeeze of the juice
170g softened butter or margarine
A few drops of almond essence
Sliced almonds

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 - In a large mixing bowl combine the flour, ground almonds, sugar and salt.
3 - Grate in the zest of the lemon, a squeeze of juice, margarine or butter and almond essence. Combine into a dough with your hands then form into a ball.
4 - Roll out onto a floured surface to approximately 1cm thickness. Cut out using any shaped biscuit cutter according to preference.
5 - Line a baking tray with baking paper. Place the biscuits on, scatter with sliced almonds and bake on the middle tray for 15-20 minutes until golden brown.
6 - Remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Sausage and Puy Lentil Onepot

Cheap, sustaining, healthy and tasty. This is proper family food which everybody will enjoy. Serve it with plenty of green vegetables and perhaps some buttery, crusty bread to mop up the juices.

Sausage and Puy Lentil Onepot
Feeds 4

1 tbsp olive oil
A dozen good quality sausages (I used Gordon's of East Boldon gluten free chilli sausages, amazing)
1 onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 small or 1 large sweet potato, cubed
A handful of mushrooms, roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic
A tbsp of fresh of dried thyme leaves, rosemary works too
200g puy lentils
1 tbsp Dijon or Wholegrain mustard
1 litre beef stock
400g chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
A handful of sun dried tomatoes, chopped
Salt and pepper

1 - In a large non-stick deep pan, heat up the oil and add the sausages. Cook for 5 minutes, browning all over, then remove with a slotted spoon or tongs.
2 - Add the onion, carrot, sweet potato and mushrooms. Cook for 5 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
3 - Add the sausages, thyme or rosemary, lentils, mustard, stock, chopped and sun dried tomatoes and vinegar. Bring to the boil then reduce to a simmer. Cook on the hob for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked and the liquid reduced.
4 - Taste for seasoning and scatter with torn fresh basil or parsley.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Smoked Mackerel and Pea Kedgeree


Smoked Mackerel and Pea Kedgeree
Feeds 4

Prep time – 15 minutes
Cook Time – 10 minutes

4 eggs, boiled for 5 minutes then left to cool in cold water
50g butter
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
A pinch of cayenne pepper
200g basmati rice, cooked and drained
100g frozen peas
1 pack of smoked mackerel
Salt and pepper
A handful of fresh dill, parsley or coriander, roughly chopped
2 lemons, halved

1 – Heat a non-stick pan and melt the butter. Add the oil then stir in the onion. Cook for 5 minutes until softened.
2 – Add the spices and combine thoroughly. Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
3 – Stir in the cooked rice and peas and heat through for 5 minutes, stirring all of the time until piping hot.
4 – Flake in the fish and stir in the fresh herbs. Taste for seasoning.
5 – Plate up and decorate with the boiled eggs – food faces optional. Serve with a wedge of fresh lemon.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Pistachio, Almond and Orange Syrup Cake

Pistachio, Almond and Orange Syrup Cake

200g soft brown sugar or caster sugar
150g butter or margarine
3 eggs
100g shelled pistachios, blitzed until course in a food processor
50g ground almonds
200g self raising flour (I used Dove's Gluten Free)
100ml orange juice
Zest of one orange

To glaze
100ml orange juice
100g soft brown sugar

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 - In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one by one until thoroughly combined.
3 - Tip in the nuts and flour and fold in followed by the orange juice and zest.
4 - Grease and line a 23cm spring form tin. Tip in the cake mixture and bake on the middle shelf for 35-45 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
5 - In  small pan, add the orange juice and sugar and bring to the boil. Poke the cake in several places with a skewer and slowly pour over the glaze until it soaks into the sponge. Sprinkle over a few chopped pistachios and allow to cool in the tin.
6 - Serve in its own or with whipped cream or Greek yoghurt.


Wednesday, 26 March 2014

The Best Banana and Walnut Loaf Cake

I'm not sure how something so simple to make can taste so delicious, but it does. Serve it warm with butter on and things get even better...

The Best Banana and Walnut Loaf Cake

4 ripe bananas, mashed
200g soft brown sugar
100g soft butter or margarine
1 egg
A pinch of salt
75g walnuts
180g self raising flour (I used Dove's Gluten Free for this one)

1 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/GM4.
2 - In a large bowl, tip in the mashed bananas, sugar, butter, egg and salt. Mix thoroughly with a wooden spoon.
3 - Fold in the flour and finally the walnuts.
4 - Tip into a greased loaf tin and cook on the middle shelf for 45-50 minutes.


Monday, 24 March 2014

Mackerel and Chive Potato Cake

This one is a bit of an alternative to a traditional fish cake. Rather than peel and boil your potatoes, wait for them to steam and cool, mash then mix with fish, you simply grate, mix and slow fry, a bit like a huge rosti. It all becomes so much easier and just as delicious.

Experiment with the fish, even mix in some leftover meat. Either way, it makes for a lovely side dish or a main course in its own right, served with a green salad. Simple, unfussy and frugal.

Mackerel and Chive Potato Cake
Feeds 3-4

3-4 medium potatoes
1 onion
A handful of fresh chopped chives
A couple of fillets of smoked mackerel
1 egg
A tbsp plain flour
Salt and pepper
A little grated Cheddar cheese
2 tbsp olive oil

1 - In a large mixing bowl, grate the potatoes and onion. Break up the fish and add to the potato and onion.
2 - Add the chives, egg, flour and seasoning and with your hands, scrunch together until well mixed.
3 - In a large frying pan, add the olive oil and heat up. Spread the mixture around and flatten with your hand to form one large 'cake'. Cook on a low hob for 10 minutes. Pre-heat your grill to a medium setting.
4 - Spread over the grated cheese then place under the grill. Cook for a further 10 minutes, ensuring that it is not catching. You need to cook slowly otherwise the potato will be raw.
5 - Once golden and crispy, cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Spring Lamb with Thyme, Lemon and Garlic


Last night it was back down to earth with the remnants of the week’s leftover vegetables and our favourite, 'bubble and squeak'. A few spring lamb chops left to soak in thyme, garlic and lemon are the perfect lip smacking accompaniment. It has everything that easy, no fuss cooking should have and the key to making the most of a simple yet special thing.

Spring Lamb with Thyme, Lemon and Garlic
Feeds 3

6 lamb loin chops

For the marinade
2 cloves of garlic
10 sprigs of thyme, leaves stripped
Juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the 'bubble and squeak'
Any leftover vegetables such as potatoes, carrots and cabbage.
Salt and pepper

1 - To make the marinade, crush the garlic and thyme in a pestle and mortar or a food processor with a good grinding of salt and pepper until you have a green sludge. Mix in the lemon juice and olive oil.
2 - Put the chops into a bowl and pour over the marinade. Rub in and leave to sit for at least 1 hour.
3 - Heat up a frying pan until smoking, or heat up a grill to its highest setting. Cook the lamb chops without moving for 2 minutes each side until char-grilled but still pink inside. Leave to rest for 2 minutes.
4 - To make the bubble and squeak, simply mash all of your leftovers together with seasoning and form into little 'cakes'. Pan fry until crisp and golden.
4 - Serve with bubble and squeak or boiled potatoes and a simple salad, ensuring that you drizzle over the pan juices.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Chocolate, Whisky and Hazelnut Mousse

The best thing about a mousse is that if you are cooking for loads of people, you can make lots, tip it into some nice glasses and after a few hours chilling, you will be guaranteed a whole load of 'oohs' and 'aahs' from your mates. Great! This one is a bit of an adult mousse, one that I had to hide from my daughter (sorry Cerys). With a punch of whisky, not too much sweetness and a crunch of roast hazelnut, it just takes that already impressive blend of airy chocolate and cream into another dimension. An absolute doddle of a dessert, give it a go choc lovers.

Chocolate, Whisky and Hazelnut Mousse
Makes 4

300ml double cream
200g 70% proof chocolate
50g soft brown sugar
2 eggs, separated
2 tbsp whisky
2 handfuls of hazelnuts, toasted in a dry pan and roughly chopped

1 - Heat up the double cream in a thick bottomed pan along with 1 handful of the hazelnuts. Break up the chocolate and add to the cream along with the sugar. Stir until completely dissolved then pour through a sieve into a separate bowl.
2 - Allow to cool slightly. Stir in the whisky and egg yolks thoroughly.
3 - Whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Beat in roughly one third of the egg whites, and then gently fold in the remaining.
4 - Tip into your glass of choice. Cover with foil or shrink-wrap and allow to set in the fridge for at least 2 hours. They will keep for a couple of days.
5 - When ready to serve, sprinkle with a few of the chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup with Black Bream


Wild Mushroom and Thyme Soup with Black Bream
Serves 4

1kg wild mushrooms, either single variety or mixed
4 tbsp olive or rapeseed oil
1 onion, peeled and sliced
1 whole clove of garlic, unpeeled
2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 litre vegetable stock
150ml single cream or crème fraiche
2 fillets of black bream
Salt and pepper

1 – Roughly chop up the mushrooms. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the mushrooms, onion, garlic clove, thyme and a good grinding of fresh black pepper. Cook off until the water has evaporated and the mushrooms are beginning to caramelise.
2 – Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the garlic clove.
3 – Pour into a blender and puree until you have a smooth consistency.
4 – Return to a clean pan and pour in the cream or crème fraiche. Bring to the simmer and stir thoroughly. Taste for seasoning.
5 – Slice the fillets into 2 pieces. Season. Heat up a little olive oil in a pan and add the fish skin side down. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the skin is golden. Turn and cook for a further minute. Place a piece of fish into the soup and serve.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Ham Hock, Borlotti Bean and Kale Soup

Ham Hock, Borlotti Bean and Kale Soup
Feeds 4

For the ham and stock
1 ham hock
1 carrot
1 onion
A few black peppercorns
2 or 3 bay leaves

3 large floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
3 carrots, peeled and sliced
2 stalks of celery, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
A good pinch of saffron
A pinch of cayenne pepper
750ml of ham stock
Ham from your cooked hock
250g of cooked borlotti beans
A few handfuls of sliced kale

1 - To cook your ham and make stock, put all of the ham and stock ingredients into a pot. Cover with water, bring to the boil and simmer for 2-2 and a half hours. The meat will be cooked when it falls from the bone.
2 - Remove the ham and leave to cool. Remove the fat and then peel off the chunks of delicious, gelatinous ham.
3 - Pour the stock through a sieve and reserve. You can freeze what you don't use.
4 - To make the soup, heat up the oil in a pan. Add the onion, celery, carrot and potato and cook for 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne and saffron and stir for 1 minute.
5 - Pour in the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20 minutes, or until the carrot and potato have softened.
6 - Add the beans and kale. Simmer for a further 10 minutes.
7 - Finally, stir in the ham and heat through. Taste for seasoning then serve in large bowls with good, crusty bread.