Friday, 12 August 2011

Pickled Courgettes

500g courgettes
2tbsp salt
1 sm onion

Pickling mix:
500ml cider vinegar
120g sugar
1&1/2 tsp dry mustard
1&1/2 tsp crushed yellow & brown mustard seed
1 tsp ground turmeric
Pinch of dried chilli flakes

Slice courgettes & onion very thinly into discs (easier with a mandoline!). Place in bowl, add salt & mix well. Cover with very cold water & stir to dissolve salt.

After 1hr drain & dry thoroughly, either in salad spinner or between towels.

Combine pickling mix in saucepan & simmer for 3 mins. Set aside until just warm.

Mix courgettes & onion with the cooled liquid. Transfer to sterilised jars. Cover & refrigerate for at least a day before eating.

Fab with cheese and biscuits; on sandwiches, or straight from the jar!

Red Plum & Cardamom Jelly

1.8kg plums (stoned/pitted)
10ml/2tsp crushed green cardamom pods
600ml red grape juice
150ml water
About 1.3kg preserving/granulated sugar

Put the plums, cardamom pods, grape juice and water in a large pan. Bring to boil, then cover and simmer gently for 1 hour. Leave to cool slightly, then pour into jelly bag, suspend above bowl and leave to drain overnight.

Measure strained juice into preserving pan. Add 450g sugar for every 600ml strained juice.

Heat the mixture over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved completely. Increase the heat and boil, without stirring for 10-15mins, or until setting point (105 degrees C)

Remove the pan from the heat and skim off any scum. Spoon into warmed sterilised jars, cover and seal.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Basic Arrabbiata Sauce

2 onions
6 cloves of garlic
1 large red chilli (at least)
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
700g passata/2 tins of tomatoes

Chuck the onions, chilli and garlic in a food processor and blend into small bits/paste. Heat some oil of your choice in a pan.

Add the paste to the pan, with the mixed herbs. Cook for 5 or so mins, then add the passata/tomatoes. Season to taste.

Stir and bring to the boil, then simmer for about 15 mins.

Can be frozen once cool. Use with pasta, roasted veggies, chicken, sausage, etc

You can add more chilli to taste, and it also depends on what type of chilli you're using as to how hot it is in the end. Arrabbiata is supposed to be noticeably hot/spicy, so if you can't taste the chilli, you've not got enough in!

Making the basics

If you're going to make good tasty meals from scratch, you need to know how to make some of the basics!

Stuff that you can make a job-lot of and use in different ways, or freeze and use later. For me, this usually means the stuff I used to buy in jars or tins.

Tomato sauces are usually the basics for me. They can be used fresh, or from frozen; used with pasta, vegetables or meat. The best ones can be whizzed up in a matter of half an hour or so, leaving you plenty of time for other stuff!

Recipes to follow!

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Lamb Dhansak


100g dried red lentils
500g carrots, peeled and in large chunks
2 onions, thinly sliced
400g can of chopped tomatoes
1tsp turmeric
1tbsp ground cumin
2tsp ground coriander
2tsp crushed cardamom seeds
Oil/cooking spray
596g diced lamb (or veggie equivalent)
2tsp ginger (finely grated or chopped)
6 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
3 red chillies, deseeded and finely sliced
2tsp garam masala
4tbsp chopped coriander


Put the lentils, carrots, onion and tomatoes in a pan with the turmeric, ground cumin, ground coriander and cardamom seeds. Add enough water to just cover the lentils and then gently simmer for about 25-30 mins or until the lentils are tender

In a separate pan, brown the lamb in batches. Add the garlic, ginger and chillies. Cook for a few mins and then add the lentil mixture, and 198ml water.

Cover and simmer for 1 ½ hours (remove cover for final 30mins), or until the lamb is tender and the sauce is thickened. Stir in the garam masala and chopped coriander and serve immediately.

Ginger Sponge Cake


200g/7oz self-raising flour
200g/7oz sugar
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
55g/2oz margarine, plus extra for greasing
1 free-range egg, beaten
2 tbsp golden syrup
240ml/9fl oz hot water


Preheat the oven to 180C/350FGas 4. Grease and line a 28cm x 18cm/11in x 7in baking tin with greaseproof paper.

Mix the flour, sugar, ginger and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl. Using your fingers, rub the margarine in until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the beaten egg, syrup and hot water and mix well with a wooden spoon until combined.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake in the middle of the oven for 35–40 minutes, or until golden-brown and the top is springy to the touch. Leave to cool in the tin. Once cool, cut into squares.

Can be eaten warm with custard, or cold with a cup of tea!

Friday, 3 September 2010

Inside Out Chicken Kiev


1 chicken breast per person
Garlic butter (I make mine with butter and garlic puree)
Parmesan cheese (optional)


Rub the chicken with a little of the garlic butter. Place in a shallow oven-proof dish or baking tray.

Grill for approx 15 mins, turning once

Meanwhile, mix the rest of the garlic butter and breadcrumbs together, adding the cheese if using.

Remove the chicken from under the grill and smear the butter/breadcrumb mixture on the top of each chicken breast.

Pop back under the grill for about 3-4 mins so the topping goes crunchy and lightly browned.