Tuesday, 5 May 2009

Seasonal Eatings


This months star guests are:

Broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, gooseberries, parsley, mint, broad beans, rhubarb, new carrots, samphire, asparagus
sea bass, lemon sole, sardines, duck, sea trout

Thursday, 30 April 2009

Lemon, Lamb & Mint Lasagne

INGREDIENTS: (4 people)

500 g Lamb Mince, 4 Shallots, 3 cloves of garlic, 1 tin chopped tomatoes, 150g grated cheese( Mozzarella, Cheddar), 4 tablespoon dried mint, 3 lasagne sheets, 3 lemons, 1 vegetable stock cube, 1 Small jar of white sauce. 3 beef tomatoes. Mixed salad leaves, Salad dressing.

Kitchen equipment you will need:
1 frying pan, 1 small lasagne dish


Chop the shallots and the garlic as fine as you can get. Take off just the yellow part of the rind of 1 lemon and chop finely, cut the lemon into quarters, take the other 2 lemons and squeeze the juice into a cup and remove any pips. Add 4 tablespoons of dried mint to the cup of lemon juice. Slice the beef tomatoes as thin as possible.


Gently fry the lamb mince in half a teaspoon of oil until golden brown, remove the lamb and leave in the lasagne dish for a moment and pour away any excess fat from the frying pan. Add half a teaspoon of oil and gently fry the shallots until softened, then add the mince into the pan, mix thoroughly with a crushed vegetable stock cube. Add the lemons and lemon and mint mix and stir through the mince until all the meat is coated. Add a teacup of water and simmer until the water has reduced to leave a fairly thick consistency ( this should take about 20 mins). Adjust seasoning to taste. At this point of tasting, you can decide if your lamb is lemony and minty enough for you and your guests. I have tried this recipe and the quantity of ingredients work for me.

Almost there:

Lasagne building time! Depending on the size of your lasagne dish you will have to bear in mind that you will have 4 layers to this lasagne and the top layer will be sliced beef tomatoes and cheese, the remaining layers will be lamb and white sauce combo, you will need to evenly portion the lamb between the layers.
Spoon into the lasagne dish the lamb followed by a quarter of a jar of white sauce, then 1 lasagne sheet. Repeat this step again and one more time. I you have any lamb or white sauce left over at this point then add this to the top layer. Place the thinly sliced beef tomatoes on top in rows to cover the whole lasagne. Sprinkle oodles of cheese on top. Bake in the oven at 180 C for 30 -45 mins until the cheese has melted and has turned golden brown.

Take your lasagne out of the oven after 30 – 45 mins. Spoon a generous portion on to your plates and serve with mixed salad leaves and salad dressing. Enjoy!!

Friday, 24 April 2009

Seasonal Eats

With the short window of oppotunity for decent English Aspargus, it got me thinking, what other tasty treats are on offer at this time of year.


Asparagus, broccoli, bananas, cabbage, cauliflower,Jersey Royal new potatoes, kiwi fruit, purple sprouting broccoli, morel mushrooms, wild garlic, radishes, rocket, rhubarb, carrots, kale, watercress, spinach, rosemary flowers, sorrel, spring onions, watercress

Dorest spring lamb, cockles, cod, crab, John Dory, salmon, sea bass, sea trout, wood pigeon.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Promoting local food shops - This month the Natural Larder, Westbourne

Found a lovely little deli in Westbourne (Dorset) located opposite Natwest bank, this weekend:

Visit them online here:

I was impressed with the selection of food in the Natural Larder, it was like a little Aladdin’s cave, providing a great array of those little finishing touches which will accompany any good meal.

I was only in the deli for about 10 minutes but I was impressed with the amount of stuff that was in there, including ingredients I haven’t used before. I picked up some multi coloured lasagne sheets, sun-blush tomatoes and baby bell peppers filled with feta cheese and Traffic Jam (you will have to visit the deli to find out more about that).

Will be back next week to sample some of their lovely chutneys and may even pick up one of their Bridport pasties (great to see promotion of local food). Also may try out the flower that you can drop in your champagne flute and it opens up (exciting stuff ).

Also really happy with the helpfulness of the staff, the decor too was very fresh and clean, which is a big tick in my book, will be back.

Little tip for the Natural Larder they need to place a 301 redirect on your old web address to your new one, as had a little trouble finding you on line. For my readers, local to Bournemouth visit the natural larder shop, otherwise visit the Natural Larder online.

Thursday, 19 March 2009

2 Bean Chilli

Cooking Level

Easy. Need to start this 2 days before for the best results.


250g Beef mince, 60g Black Beans, 130g Red Kidney Beans, 2 Cloves Garlic, ½ large onion, 12 cherry toms, ½ red pepper, ½ green pepper, ½ yellow pepper,1 red chilli, 1 green chilli, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika,1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon mixed herbs,1 oxo beef cube, 2 bay leafs, ½ glass red wine, 2 splash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, 1 tin of chopped tomatoes, 1 tablespoon tomato puree, 1 cup of rice, Taco shells,1 pack cool doritos, 4 selection sauce dips.

Kitchen equipment you will need:

1 large saucepan
1 mixing bowl
1 medium saucepan


The black beans will need soaking over night in the mixing bowl in water.
Drain off any water from your black beans and wash thoroughly. Place into the medium pan and cover with water and bring to boil and let it simmer until the beans have just started to soften. Cool them down under cold water and drain off for later. Wash up and dry the bowl, you will need this for the mince in a minute. While you are waiting for the black beans to cook, this will give you time to cut the veg. Crush and chop as fine as you can the garlic, chop the onion into small pieces no bigger than the size of a 5p piece, cut the cherry toms in half, slice the red, green, and yellow peppers into strips about the width of a pencil, slice the chilli peppers lengthways and deseed, chop the chilli as fine as you can.


Fry the beef mince in half a teaspoon of olive oil until the meat is browned, add a good splash of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire sauce, then add salt and pepper to season and the sprinkle the oxo cube, fry this for a further minute and then add the half a glass of red wine, reduce the wine until all the liquid has almost gone. Take the pan of the heat and pour the contents of the pan into the mixing bowl. Place the pan back on the heat, add a teaspoon of olive oil and now fry the onions, the garlic, the cherry toms , the peppers for 4-5mins to get some colour into the veg. Now you need to add all the dry ingredients ( any order ), so 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon ginger, 1 teaspoon mixed herbs, 2 bay leafs,  all the chopped chilli, 2 teaspoons smoked paprika. Give this a good stir and work all the flavour around the veg, add the tin of chopped toms and the beef mince into the pan. Squeeze a tablespoon of tomato puree and add a cup of water. Turn the heat down on the pan to the lowest possible and really gently simmer the chilli for 2 hours. You need to get the temperature right for the 2 hour simmer so you can leave it for that time, but you may need to stir occasionally to prevent your chilli sticking to the pan.

Almost there:

Once you have simmered and stirred you need to cover the chilli and put into a fridge and leave it for 24 hours for best results.


Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Put the chilli back on the heat, add your black beans, red kidney, heat and stir thoroughly. This would be a good time taste your chilli for your own personnel taste. Season as required, add Tabasco sauce for more punch in the chilli or if the chilli is a little too much then add soured cream and stir thoroughly. Put a pan of water on to boil and cook your rice. Put 4 taco shells into the oven and warm through. When the rice is cooked, drain off and place a good spoonful into the centre of the plate. Arrange the taco shells on top of the rice and add a little more rice into the bottom of the taco shell. Now spoon a generous amount of chilli into the tacos. Arrange the Doritos around the plate and enjoy!

Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Sausage Pie

Cooking Level


INGREDIENTS: For 4 people

1 pack of Sausages(2 sausages per person), 1 Tin of chopped Toms, 1 large onion, 2-3 medium to large potatoes per person ( maris piper are best for mashing), 1large head of broccoli(any green vegetable will do, check season), dried mixed herbs, 2 cloves of garlic, 40g butter, splash of milk, Cheese(personal taste: cheddar, mozzarella, smoked cheese, or a mixture of all three). Dried smoked paprika.

Kitchen equipment you will need:

1 saucepan
2 frying pans
Casserole Dish (no need to have a cover on it)
Potato masher
Cheese grater


Open the tin of chopped toms, crush and chop the garlic cloves. Skin, halve and slice both halves of the onion length ways as thin as you can without hurting yourself (it’s not a race).Peel the potatoes and cut them into cubes about the size of a standard stock cube.


Place the potatoes into a pan of water and boil until potatoes are soft (about 15- 20 mins). Prick your sausages and gently fry in a pan with half a teaspoon of oil, till they turn a light brown colour. While your sausages are sizzling, in another pan fry the onions in half a teaspoon of oil until softened, at this point add the chopped garlic and the tin of chopped toms. Add a generous sprinkle of mixed herbs (about a tablespoon and a half), season with salt and pepper and a good squeeze of Heinz tomato ketchup.

Almost there:

Pre-heat your oven to 170C. Get a casserole dish and pour the tomato mix into the bottom of the dish, then arrange your sausages into the dish in such away you could easily portion the pie later for serving (place two sausages closer together for each portion). Mash up the potatoes, add the butter, splash of milk and seasoning. If you had a piping bag and were feeling adventurous then you could pipe the potato into the dish making a nice even pattern, otherwise spread your mash potato evenly over the sausage and tomato mix and create small sharp peaks using a fork. Grate enough cheese to cover your pie, sprinkle cheese over and finish with a pinches of smoked paprika all over the pie. Place the dish into the oven and wait about twenty minutes for the cheese and potato to go golden brown. When you have placed the pie in the oven get a pan of boiling water on the go and cook you broccoli.


As an option you might want to serve your pie and broccoli with some gravy and mop up after with some crusty bread. Take the pie out of the oven, portion onto the plate with a few florets of broccoli. Gravy optional and enjoy.

Monday, 9 March 2009

Plaice Parma Parcels

Cooking level:


Ingredients: (for 2 people)

5 new potatoes, 2 plaice fillets (skinned by fishmonger at supermarket), 2 slices of parma ham, 1 large onion, 8 fresh basil leaves, couple of cloves of garlic, 14 cherry tomatoes, 8 slices of Chorizo sausage, heinz tomato ketchup, smoked paprika (you can get this from the herb aisle), 24 green beans (fine ones the fresher the better), Splash of red wine.

Kitchen equipment you need:

  • Baking Tray
  • Frying pan
  • 2 Saucepans
  • Skewer

Halve the cherry tomatoes, dice the onion into tiny pieces, crush and dice the garlic and slice the chorizo sausage into thin strips. Pre-heat oven to 180C.

Place a pan of water onto boil and cook the new potatoes ( about 15mins). Gently fry the onion and the garlic until softened. Remove half of the onion and garlic mix and place in a bowl for later. Lay 1 of your palma ham slices onto a chopping board and lay the plaice fillet on top of that. Now take 4 fresh basil leaves and rip them on top of the plaice. Mix the chorizo and the onion and garlic mix in the bowl you left aside. Place half of this mix into the centre of plaice. Roll the palma ham to create a big fat cigar with all the onion, basil and plaice inside with the join being at the bottom facing the chopping board. Stick a skewer through to hold everything in place. Repeat the process to create another parcel.

Almost there:

Lightly oil the baking tray and place your parcels in the centre and bake for 15-20 mins. Put another pan of water on to boil for your green beans. The potaotes should be done by now. With the onion and garlic mix left in the frying pan add the cherry tomatoes, a teaspoon of smoked paprika and cook until soft. Add a splash of red wine and a squeeze of Heinz tomato ketchup. Adjust your seasoning to suit.

Take the parcels out of the oven when cooked, half the new potatoes(mind your fingers, their hot). Spoon a generous amount of tomato onto the centre of your plate and arrange the potatoes around the outer edge of the sauce. Gently place your parcels on top of the sauce. Drain of any excess water of your green beans and place these between each of your potato halves. Enjoy!

Fish in Filo

Cooking experience needed:  

Low to Medium


Pre-made filo pastry, Fish?( salmon, cod, haddock, trout) ask a local fishmonger for best priced fish and to prepare the fish for cooking, leeks 1 medium leek for 3 people, pine nuts (handful per 2 people), butter (you decide), single cream (half a cup per 2 people), new potatoes ( 4 per person), parsley, dill, 1 egg.

Kitchen equipment needed:

  • Cup (for whisking egg)
  • Baking Tray
  • Pan (for the potatoes)
  • Frying pan


Wash, top and tail leeks, finely slice leeks and mix with a generous handful of crushed pine nuts. Chop up dill ( 2-3 tablespoons per person) and finely chop parsley( 4-5 tablespoons per person)


You will need to portion the fish into equal amounts depending on the size of the plates and how many people you will be serving. Your local fishmonger would be able to guide you on portion sizes (probably 4-6oz per person). When you have this established, follow the instructions of the filo pastry (2 sheets) and cut the pastry into a square and make sure the square you cut is bigger than that of your fish. You should be able to place the fish into the centre of your pastry, season with salt and pepper and wrap it in such a way that all the corners meet in the middle (if the pastry doesn’t meet into the middle then trim a little bit of the fish to make the pastry fit). Whisk the egg and use this to stick and egg wash pastry so no fish can be seen. Place on a baking tray and bake in the oven for 20-25mins @ 170C or until pastry is golden brown. Put the potatoes on to boil.

Almost there: 

Just 10 mins before the potatoes and the fish is ready, place a frying pan on a med to high heat and melt some butter and stir fry the leeks and pine nuts until soft and slightly browned, at this point and the chopped dill and half a cup of cream, reduce the cream down by half and adjust the seasoning. Drain the potatoes and mix with butter and chopped parsley.


Take your fish out of the oven, spoon the leek mix onto the centre of the plate and gently place the pastry on top of the leeks, scatter the new potatoes around the plate, sprinkle the plate with any leftover chopped herbs and enjoy.

Chicken Chasseur

Cooking experience needed: 



Chicken Thighs (1 per person), Baby onions (3 per person), Chopped Toms (1 tin per 4 people), Baby Button Mushrooms (4 per person), Garlic ( 1 clove per 3 depending on size of garlic), Smoked Back Bacon( 1 rasher per 2 people), Tarragon (dried or fresh -2tbsp per 4 people), Bay Leaf (1 bay leaf per 4 people) Red Wine(1 glass per 4 people), Olive oil.

Kitchen Equipment you will need:


Firstly prepare each of the ingredients, top and tail and peel the baby onions. Open tin of chopped toms, wash and destalk mushrooms, crush and chop garlic, slice bacon into thin strips to about the size of a 10p piece.  

Little tip:  Ideally you want to keep everything around about the same size, so that the flavour is absorbed equally, so if you have a large mushroom quarter it.


Gently fry the chicken thighs in olive oil until all the outside of the chicken is a golden brown colour. Remove the chicken and place on a plate for later. Place the onions, mushrooms, smoked bacon into the same pan and fry gently until golden brown, then add the garlic, the bay leaf and the tarragon(only if you are using dried). Add the wine to the pan and increase the heat, stir occasionally and reduce the wine by half, now add the chopped toms.

Almost There: 

Place cooked chicken thighs into a roasting tin and pour the contents of the pan over the chicken. This would be the point when you add fresh chopped tarragon if you weren’t using dried. Pour enough water over the top of the chicken to ¾ cover the chicken. Add salt and pepper. Cover the roasting dish with tin foil and bake in the oven for 45 mins @ 200 C.


Check your roasting dish after 30 mins. Now put on what you will be serving with the chicken. You could serve this with rice, new potatoes or roasted vegetables. When your veg is almost ready take the chicken out of the oven and adjust the flavour and consistency of the sauce. Flavour- salt and pepper to taste, tom ketchup for added sweet tom flavour, add fresh chopped tarragon. Consistency- Add more water if sauce is too thick, if sauce is too sloppy then thicken using chicken gravy granuals. Taste, adjust seasoning if required, Serve and enjoy!