Tuesday 1 March 2022

Mexican Bean Soup

Ingredients - Feeds 4

2 tbsp olive oil
4 spring onions, sliced
2 sticks of celery, diced
1 red pepper, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, sliced
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp cocoa powder
Half tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of dried chilli flakes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tin each of kidney beans and haricot beans
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
400ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

To serve
A handful of chopped fresh coriander
3 spring onions, sliced
Lime wedges
Tortilla chips

1 - Heat the oil in a large pan. Add the spring onions and celery and soften without colouring.
2 - Add the garlic, spices, cocoa and tomato puree, stir in and cook for 1 minute.
3 - Tip in the beans, tomatoes and stock, bring to the boil then simmer with the lid slightly off for 20 minutes.
4 - Taste for seasoning then serve with fresh coriander, spring onions, lime wedges and tortilla chips.

Roast Tomato, Garlic and Basil Soup

Ingredients - Feeds 4

3 tbsp olive oil
2kg fresh tomatoes
2 red onions
4 whole garlic cloves
Salt and pepper
1 tbsp tomato puree
A handful of fresh basil
200ml vegetable stock
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 - Pre-heat oven 200C/GM6. Line an oven tray.
2 - Chop 2 red onions into chunks and scatter in the tray along with 4 whole cloves garlic. Halve the fresh tomatoes (the cheap anaemic tomatoes are good as the flavour comes from the cooking) and place cut side up amongst the onions and garlic. 3 - Drizzle all over with a little olive oil, season and place on a high shelf for 40-50 minutes until caramelised. 4 - Remove the garlic cloves then tip everything into a pan. Squeeze the garlic cloves in, the fresh basil and tomato purée. 5 - Pour in 200ml vegetable stock then blend with a hand blender. If it’s too thick pour in more stock. Splash in a little red wine vinegar and taste for seasoning.

Sunday 29 November 2020

Christmas Pavlova

I’ve invented a twist on a traditional Pavlova, a meringue, cream and fruit-based dessert. Made to resemble a Festive wreath, it not only looks impressive, it is also incredibly light and therefore a sensible way to end your Christmas lunch. Or any time for that matter!

Ingredients - serves 8-10 

6 egg whites, separated from 6 large eggs
1 tsp ground cinnamon
300g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1 tsp white wine vinegar

280ml double cream
2 tsp vanilla paste or scrape the seeds from one vanilla pod
A combination of fruit such as strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, pomegranates or grapes
A handful of toasted hazelnuts or almonds, roughly chopped
Fresh mint leaves
A few chunks of 70-80% chocolate, melted

1 – Pre-heat the oven to 140C/Fan 120C/GM1.

2 – Take a piece of baking paper large enough to cover a baking tray. Using an average dinner plate (approximately 30 cm), draw a circle thick enough to see if the paper is flipped over. Flip the paper.

3 – Take a large mixing bowl and using a piece of kitchen towel, wash the bowl out with a splash of vinegar (this will remove any oil or grease that may be present, essential for a good meringue).

4 – Using an electric whisk, begin to whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks, then beat in the cinnamon. Add the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, beating all of the time, until the mixture is soft and glossy and will not tip out if held aloft. Add the vinegar and cornflour and beat in thoroughly.

5 – Using a large serving spoon, add large mounds of the meringue mixture, moving around the circle (aim to keep the meringue inside the circle and use it as a guide). If there is any mixture left, just evenly top up the mounds.

6 – Place the meringue onto the middle shelf and then turn the oven down to 120C/Fan 100C/GM Half. Cook for 1 hour and 10 minutes then switch the oven off and leave the meringue to cool in the oven (you can leave it overnight so great to do the night before for less work on the day itself). This is essential to create a chewy interior to the meringue.

7 – Whisk the cream together with the vanilla until it forms soft peaks. Do not over whisk it. You can also add a couple of tbsp icing sugar too but we think the meringue and fruit are sweet enough.

8 – Put the pavlova onto your serving dish. Begin to place mounds of the whipped cream all around the meringue.

9 – Cut large fruit such as strawberries into quarters then start to decorate the pavlova in any way that you want.

10 – Sprinkle over the toasted nuts, add a few small mint leaves then finally drizzle with the dark chocolate. Pile any leftover fruit and nuts into the centre of the pavlova and serve.

Saturday 31 October 2020

Pumpkin Pie

When you're carving out those pumpkins this Halloween, never throw away that flesh. Sweet and veratile, it can be used in so many dishes, from curries and tagine to soups and cakes.

This is very much a classic pumpkin pie, beloved of all Americans at this time of the year. It's a bit like a custard tart with that lovely, earthy and sweet pumpkin flavour in the background.

400g shortcrust pastry (To make your own, mix 200g plain flour and 20g margarine or butter together in a bowl using your fingertips until they resemble breadcrumbs. Beat two eggs and then gradually add and stir until it all comes together. Roll into a disc and place in the fridge for an hour or two).
500g pumpkin flesh, roughly chopped
100g soft brown sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
2 eggs, beaten
30g melted butter or margarine
150ml whole milk (nut or soya milk will work too)

1 - Place the pumpkin flesh either into a steamer or in a pan with a little water. Boil/steam for 15 minutes until soft. Drain then blend into a fine puree.
2 - Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C Fan/GM4.
3 - Grease a springform flan dish. Roll out the chilled pastry and then line the flan dish, pressing firmly into the corners. Cut off any excess but leave a little for shrinkage, then prick a few times with a fork. Line with greaseproof paper, fill with baking beans and blindbake for 15 minutes. Remove the paper and beans and then bake for a further 10 minutes. Remove and then neaten off the edges with a sharp knife.
4 - In a large mixing bowl, add the pumpkin puree, sugar, mixed spice, eggs, melted butter and mil. Whisk together thoroughly then carefuly pour into the cooked pastry. Cook on the middle shelf for 40-50 minutes, until golden brown and still retaining a very slight wobble in the middle. Remove and allow to cool.
5 - Mix together a little icing sugar and cinnamon and then sieve over the top before serving.

Sunday 18 October 2020

Sticky Toffee Apple Cake


200g dates

200 milk

4 large apples, peeled, cored and sliced into chunks

75g butter

100g muscovado sugar

100g golden syrup

Pinch of salt

250g self-raising flour

250g butter or margarine

200g caster sugar or soft brown sugar

3 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp mixed spiced

1 - Pre-heat oven to 180C/Fan 160C/GM4. Grease and line a 20cm spring-form cake tin.

2 - In a small pan, add the dates and milk. Bring to the boil then simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and using a stick blender, blitz into a purée. Add to a large mixing bowl.

3 - In a non-stick pan, add the apples, butter, muscovado sugar, syrup and a pinch of salt. Bring to the boil and fast boil for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool slightly. 

4 - In the mixing bowl where you have the date purée, add the flour, butter or margarine, sugar, eggs, mixed spice and vanilla extract. Thoroughly mix together using an electric or hand whisk. 

5 - Pour the apples and toffee sauce into the lined spring-form tin. Pour over the cake mixture then place on the middle shelf and bake for 40-50 minutes. Check on the half hour that the top isn’t catching and if so, add a circle of double foil.

6 - To check it is cooked, insert a skewer or a small knife and it should come out clean. If not, place back in for 5 minute intervals until it is.

7 - Remove and allow to cool on a rack before turning out. Serve with double cream.

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Sticky Pork Ribs

The easiest Chinese-style takeaway that you can make in your own home. It's cheaper and tastier too!

Feeds 2
8 large pork ribs, separated
2 tbsp groundnut oil
1 tbsp Mirin rice wine (available in any superstore or Chinese supermarket)
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp honey
4 tbsp soy sauce
5 tbsp water
6 cloves garlic, peeled

1 - Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the pork ribs and cook for a few minutes on each side until golden brown.
2 - Quickly add the rest of the ingredients, stirring thoroughly (remove the ribs first if you are struggling for room but it all sorts itself out, honest).
3 - Place a lid (or foil if no lid) on the pan and simmer for 1 hour (keep checking it to check it isn't drying out. If so, add a little more water).
4 - Remove and serve with sticky jasmine rice, optional simple stir-fried vegetables and a sprinkling of fresh coriander and sesame seeds.

Tuesday 6 October 2020

Kejriwal (Indian Chilli Eggs and Cheese)

Ingredients - Feeds 2

150g Cheddar cheese, grated
2 thick slices of bread (rye or sourdough is great here)
4 spring onions, sliced
1 red chilli, sliced
Olive oil
2 eggs
Salt and pepper

1 - Pre-heat your grill and lightly toast the bread on both sides. Reserve around a third of grated cheese, spring onions and chilli.
2 - In a bowl, mash the cheese together until it forms a paste (you may want to leave it to warm up a little). Mix in the remaining spring onion and chilli.
3 - Spread evenly onto the toast and cook under the grill.
4 - Whilst the cheese is grilling, heat the oil in a pan and add the eggs. Cook until the bottom begins to go golden and crispy.
5 - When the cheese is melted, place the eggs on top and sprinkle on the reserved cheese, spring onion and chilli. Grill for a further minute.
6 - Serve with a grating of freshly ground pepper and salt.

Mexican Bean Soup

Ingredients - Feeds 4 2 tbsp olive oil 4 spring onions, sliced 2 sticks of celery, diced 1 red pepper, chopped 2 cloves of garlic, sliced 2 ...