Sunday, 29 November 2015


I decided I needed a bit of a challenge in the cookery department and choux pastry is something  I've rarely tried to make. So I was inspired to make a Croquembouche the other evening. I followed Delia Smiths recipe, as I always find her recipes very reliable and successful. The choux buns turned out incredibly well and they weren't as difficult as I had imagined. They were light and airy inside and crisp on the outside. The filling was easy to make, the only bit I found challenging was dipping the buns into scalding hot caramel, which resulted in a few burnt fingers.  The caramel starts  to set quite quickly so you need to work efficiently to assemble your creation. The finished result looks very special, and would look even more so, if the amount was doubled to make a very high tower. 

Her is the link to the recipe, Croquembouche 

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Spicy tomato soup

I made this on Monday which was probably the coldest day we have had in a long while. It was so delicious and warming, and what was great about it was, making it with odds and ends of veggies that I would normally have thrown away.  Carrots I found lurking in the bottom drawer of the fridge, very floppy celery, a wrinkly old red chilli and tomatoes that had been on the bench, growing soft for a couple of weeks. Of course any tired vegetables can be added to stock to make a hearty soup, so this is just a rough guide. 

Serves 4
1 tbsp Sunflower oil for frying
1 medium onion, sliced
2 sticks and the heart of the celery, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
A pack of fresh tomatoes (skins removed by placing in boiling water)
1 pint Vegetable stock ( bouillon is my favourite)

Fry the onion in the sunflower oil until golden and soft, add the celery, chilli and carrots and fry for a few minutes. All the fresh tomatoes and tinned tomatoes along with the stock. Cover and cook until the carrots are cooked and tender. Give the soup a good blitz or leave a bit chunkier if you prefer. Add a bit of Greek yoghurt to cool the heat of the chilli if you don't want it too spicy. 

Friday, 20 November 2015

Ginger cake Trifle

Here's a great recipe from the December issue of Olive Magazine. It's incredibly quick to make, ideal for entertaining and impressing last minute guests over the Christmas period. I think I'll keep the ingredients at hand especially for those occasions. I have made it using fresh and tinned pineapple, both versions are lovely. 

ginger cake 1 small loaf, cubed
pineapple 2 rings, finely chopped
stem ginger 3 balls, cut into shards, plus 4 tbsp syrup
ginger cordial or wine 4 tbsp
mascarpone 250g
ready-made custard 500g
double cream 300ml

Sprinkle the cake cubes into a trifle bowl and then add the pineapple. Add some ginger pieces and spoon over 2 tbsp syrup and the ginger cordial or wine.Whisk the mascarpone with the custard, spoon it over the ginger base and chill for 30 minutes.Whisk the
cream until it is thick and floppy, then whisk in the remaining ginger syrup. Carefully spoon this on top. Cover with clingfilm and chill until you want to serve it.Arrange the remaining ginger on top.

Monday, 16 November 2015

Jamie Oliver's Chicken and Squash Cacciatore

This is a great one pot recipe from Jamie's new cookbook 'Superfood'. It's perfect for a wintery evening meal and great for feeding a crowd. I assume it would adapt well to a slow cooker recipe, though the vegetables may get a bit soft, they could be added after a few hours of cooking. I have a huge amount of sauce left over, so tonight I'm going to add some stock and blitz it up and I think it'll make a delicious soup.  

1 onion
1 leek
4 cloves of garlic
2 rashers of smoked pancetta
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
olive oil
2 fresh bay leaves
½ a butternut squash or sweet potatoes , (600g)
100 g chestnut mushrooms
2 x 400 g tins of plum tomatoes
250 ml Chianti , or other good red wine
4 free-range chicken thighs, bone in
8 black olives (stone in)
200 g seeded wholemeal bread


Preheat the oven to 190°C. Peel the onion and cut into eighths, trim, wash and slice the leek, peel and slice the garlic. Place a large ovenproof casserole pan on a medium heat. Finely slice the pancetta, pick and finely chop the rosemary leaves, then place both in the pan with 1 tablespoon of oil and the bay leaves. Stir regularly for 2 minutes, then add the garlic, followed by the onion and leek. Cook for 10 minutes, stirring regularly.

Meanwhile, chop the squash or sweet potato (wash first) into bite-sized chunks, leaving the skin on and discarding any squash seeds. Add the mushrooms and chopped squash or sweet potato to the pan. Remove and discard the chicken skin and add the chicken to the pan. Pour in the wine and let it reduce slightly, then add the tomatoes and break them up with a wooden spoon. Half-fill each tin with water, swirl about, pour into the pan and mix it all together. Destone the olives, then poke them into the stew. Bring to a gentle simmer, then transfer to the oven to cook for 1 hour, or until thick, delicious, the chicken falls off the bone and the squash or sweet potato is lovely and tender. Season to perfection, then serve with bread to mop up that tasty sauce.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

Linguine with garlic mushrooms and sage

A simple midweek dinner from Olive Magazine tonight, using some of the sage from my garden that looks like it's seen better days. Be sure to sprinkle on lots of parmesan and black pepper .

Serves 2

linguine 150g
butter 25g
chestnut mushrooms 250g, sliced
garlic 1 clove, crushed
chilli flakes a good pinch
sage a handful of leaves, chopped
lemon ½, juiced
parmesan or grano padano (or veggie alternative) 50g, finely grated

Cook the linguine. Heat the butter in a frying pan, add the mushrooms and fry until really soft and golden and any liquid has reduced to almost nothing.Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2-3 minutes, then stir in the sage and cook for another minute. Season really well.
Drain the pasta but keep a teacupful of the cooking water. Add the linguine to the mushroom pan with the lemon juice, parmesan and enough pasta water to make a light sauce. Toss everything together until the pasta is coated then serve.