Sunday 5 January 2014

Chorizo & Sweet Potato Stew

I created this delicious, rustic dish by accident by throwing a few things together that I had to hand in my kitchen. The complimenting flavours and textures of robust chorizo, chickpeas, tender sweet potato and the subtle fragrant spice of cinnamon and smoked paprika make this dish a real winner.

I'd never written down the recipe before but my friend Emily has requested it. So Emily for you (and my work colleagues who always covet my lunch), here its is!

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • Olive oil
  • 225g chorizo ring, finely sliced
  • 6 new potatoes, sliced
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 green pepper, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 150g easy cook long grain rice
  • 1 can chickpeas, with juice
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • 1 large sweet potato, cubed into bite sized pieces

  1. Put a good glug of olive oil into a hot non stick pan and fry the chorizo and new potatoes for a few minutes until the juices from the chorizo are released and both are getting browned.
  2. Add the onions and peppers and cook for  few minutes more until soft. 
  3. Add the thyme, coriander, cinnamon, and paprika and stir well (at this point it will start to smell fantastic!)
  4. Stir in the rice to make sure it is well coated with all the flavours, before adding the chickpeas (with the juice from the can) the tinned tomatoes (refill the can 3 times with water and add this too), the tomato puree, cider vinegar, worcestershire sauce and the stock cube. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Finally add the sweet potato, stir well, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes until the rice is cooked and sweet potato is soft.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes and then serve in shallow bowls topped with freshly chopped parsley.

Great served with crusty bread and a few spiky hits of Tabasco sauce. 

Sunday 12 May 2013

The Ultimate Sausage Roll

Let me be clear, this is no ordinary sausage roll. I've been perfecting the details for a few years now and I am finally happy that this IS the best ever. It's practically a meal in itself and people will bite your hand off for the recipe so here it is...

Ingredients (makes 12)

The pastry
  • 500g pack ready-made puff pastry (Plus a little plain flour for dusting)
  • 8 Parma ham slices
  • 65g freshly grated extra mature cheddar
  • 1 egg, beaten                                                                                                                                    
The filling     
    500g best quality sausage meat (I buy good sausages and remove the skins)
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 25g raw carrot, very finely diced
  • 25g raw swede, very finely diced
  • Large bunch fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used flat leaf parsley & sage)
  • 2 tsp Colman's English mustard
  • 1/4 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • a good pinch of white pepper
  1. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface into a 60cm x 24cm rectangle. Lay the Parma ham slices over one half, overlapping them slightly, and sprinkle with the cheddar. Fold the uncovered pastry over to sandwich the ham and cheese, then press down around the edges to seal
  2. Roll out the pastry parcel to form a slightly larger rectangle, about 33cm x 28cm. Slice in half to make two 33cm x 14cm strips.
  3. Mix the filling ingredients in a large bowl and season with salt and black pepper. Divide in half, then roll each half into a 33cm log using damp hands. Lay a log along the middle of each pastry strip. Brush the pastry edges with a little beaten egg, then fold over to enclose the meat (with the join underneath). Seal well and either leave to cook as it is or using a sharp floured knife, cut each log into 6 rolls, each about 5.5cm long. Brush with more beaten egg, then chill for 20 minutes. 
  4. Cover a baking sheet with grease proof paper and put it in the oven and preheat to 220c  or 200c fan assisted/gas 7.
  5. Lightly score the tops of the rolls with a sharp knife, then transfer to the hot baking sheet. Bake for 15-18 minutes (may take a little longer if you're cooking the logs whole)  until golden, risen and piping hot. Cool a little and serve warm, or allow to cool completely.

Don't take my word for it, this is the feedback from some of the girls at work:

Amy: "I have died and gone to sausage roll heaven!"
Lynne: "AMAZING sausage rolls... can you send me the recipe unless its a secret?"
Ndiana: "The sausage roll is heavenly!!!"

Sunday 7 April 2013

Poached Egg Rarebit (v)

This is a cracking weekend brunch dish. Simple but delicious and perfect for a sunny spring morning.

Ingredients (serves 2)
  • 2 good quality English breakfast muffins
  • 4 free range eggs
  • 200ml milk
  • 50g fresh spinach
  • 120g mature cheddar, grated
  • 1tsp English mustard (always Colmans)
  • 2 tsp Worcester sauce
  • 2 tsp cornflour mixed with a little of the milk
  1. Preheat the grill to high and put on a large pan of water to poach the eggs
  2. Wilt the spinach in a dry non-stick pan or microwave it for 30 seconds. Once cool, squeeze out the excess water with your hands and finely chop
  3. Heat the milk in a small non-stick pan together with the mustard and Worcester sauce
  4. Stir in the cornflour mix and stir until bubbling before adding the grated cheese
  5. Split your muffins and place under the grill to toast
  6. Gently crack your eggs into the pan and poach them until just done (approx 3 minutes)
  7. Stir the spinach into the mix and season with salt and plenty of black pepper
  8. Turn your muffins to toast the other side
  9. Remove the eggs from the pan with a draining spoon and very gently place on kitchen roll to soak up any water
  10. Make sure your muffins are cut side up and then top carefully with a  poached egg and then the cheesy Rarebit mix
  11. Place them under the grill to brown for a couple of minutes while you pour a coffee and grab the newspaper. Weekend heaven.

Monday 23 April 2012

Toad in the Hole with onion ale gravy

There is no better way to celebrate St George's Day than with this comforting classic. I have packed in plenty of English ingredients to add extra flavour and patriotism.

My overseas visitors need not worry, no amphibians were harmed in the making of this dish although a few sausages did fall upon St George's sword.

Ingredients (serves 2)

6 good quality pork sausages (the toads)
vegetable oil

Batter (The hole):
  • 75g plain flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 75ml milk
  • 55ml ale (I used Spitfire)
  • 1tsp chopped fresh rosemary
  • salt and white pepper

Onion gravy:
  • knob of butter
  • 225g onion, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1tsp HP sauce
  • 1/2tsp Marmite
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 300ml stock (beef, chicken or vegetable)
  • 125ml ale 
  • 2 tsp cornflour


  1. Preheat the oven to 220c and add enough vegetable oil to two oven proof dishes (approx 15cm x 10 cm) to cover the bottom about 0.5cm deep.
  2. Place these on a tray in the oven to heat
  3. Add about a tbsp of oil to a non stick pan and fry the sausages over a high heat to colour on all sides
  4. Once they have a good colour, remove, cut in half widthwise and set aside (they do not need to be cooked through)
  5. Sieve the flour, salt, pepper and mustard powder high over a large bowl to allow it access to plenty of air, then add the chopped rosemary
  6. Measure 55ml ale in a measuring jug then add the milk so that the total liquid is 130ml
  7. Make a well in the flour and crack the egg into the centre and whisk, slowly pouring in the liquid (An electric hand whisk is best for this) making sure no dry ingredients are left around the sides of the bowl
  8. Remove the dishes from the oven, which should now be piping hot. Quickly but carefully place the sausages in the hot oil. Top up each with the batter mix and cook in the oven for 30 minutes (DO NOT open the oven door during this time)
  9. Add the knob of butter to the pan that the sausages were cooked in, season and gently fry the onions for 10 minutes
  10. Stir in the sugar and cook for a further 5 minutes
  11. Add the HP sauce, Marmite, ale and stock and bring to the boil, stirring well
  12. Mix the cornflour with a little water or ales and stir this in. Simmer gently on a low heat until the rest is cooked.
Place your Toad in the Hole on a plate, top with the onion gravy and serve with some peas (English of course)

Tally Ho!

Sunday 22 April 2012

Vegetable Tagine with nutty fruit couscous (v)

This richly flavoured spicy recipe is my interpretation of the classic Moroccan Berber dish. Guaranteed to convert those who don't like fruit in savoury dishes, or those who find couscous "bland"

Tagine is from North Africa and is named after the special earthenware pot in which it is cooked.  It consists of two parts: a base unit that is flat and circular with low sides, and a large cone or dome-shaped cover that sits on the base during cooking. The cover is so designed to promote the return of all condensation to the bottom to keep the dish moist during cooking. With the cover removed, the base can be taken to the table for serving. These are available from most good cook shops or you can just use a large pan.

Recipe (Serves 4)


  • good glug olive oil
  • 1 onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and chopped thickly
  • 1 yellow pepper, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 potato, peeled and cut into large cubes
  • 1 sweet potato, peeled and chopped into large cubes
  • 1 parsnip, peeled and chopped thickly
  • 150g chickpeas (tinned or frozen)
  • 2tsp rose harissa paste (see note below)
  • 2 preserved lemons, finely chopped and seeds removed (see note below)
  • 1tsp chopped fresh ginger
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 25g fresh parsley, chopped (use the stalks ad a few leaves in the tagine and save the rest for the couscous)
  • 25g sultanas
  • 1 tbsp orange juice (or if you have a satsuma, just squeeze that in)
  • 200g passata 
  • good glug olive oil
  • 400g couscous
  • 30g pine nuts
  • 30g flaked almonds
  • 2tsp poppy seeds
  • 30g sultanas
  • 20g dried cranberries
  • rest of the parsley
  • grated zest 1/2 lemon
  • 2tsp vegetable stock powder (I use Marigold)
  • knob of butter
  1. Heat the olive oil in the pan and then cook the onions for 5 minutes until soft
  2. Add the ginger, cinnamon, turmeric and coriander and stir for a minute
  3. Add the carrot, potato and peppers and cook for a further 2 minutes
  4. Add the rose harissa, parsley, preserved lemons, chickpeas, parsnip and sweet potato. Season and stir well
  5. Add the passata, orange juice and 300ml water, stir well
  6. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer on a very low heat for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally
  7. Heat some olive oil in a large saucepan and then add the pine nuts, almonds and poppy seeds 
  8. Stir until lightly browned and then turn off the heat
  9. Finely chop together the parsley, sultanas and cranberries then add them to the pan with the couscous, lemon zest and stock powder. Stir well.
  10. Once the tagine is ready, turn off the heat and allow to rest while you cook the couscous
  11. Pour just enough boiling water onto the couscous to cover it and about a cm above, no more. Stir once then place a lid on the pan and allow it to cook for 5mins (No hob heat is necessary!)
  12. Stir the couscous with a fork to separate the grains and add a generous knob of butter.

Tip: You can use any vegetables you like and can use a mixture of fresh coriander and mint in the couscous if you prefer.

Rose petals are one of over forty spices added to give this paste its complex and spicy taste. Harissa was originally a staple of Tunisian cooking but is used throughout North Africa as a seasoning. It has a hot kick to it but the rose petals in the sauce provide a unique balance to the chilli heat.

Preserved lemons can be used in stews and sauces.The flavour is mildly tart but intensely lemony.

Preserved lemons can be used in stews and sauces.The flavor is mildly tart but intensely lemony.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

The Best Burger

This juicy bad boy is a chunk of half pound hamburger heaven. Thick moist beef topped with the crispiest bacon, soft melted cheese, bitter rocket and a simple burger sauce.
Best not eaten every day unless you want to head the way of Elvis, but it ticks every burger box you could want and then some...

If made, pressed and chilled well a good burger needs no extra ingredients such as egg or breadcrumbs to bind the mix. These just detract from the taste.

If like me you have a bread maker then go the whole hog and make your own fresh buns, it really makes a difference to this special treat.

Recipe (Serves 2):



  • 1lb minced beef, don't get lean mince it will be dry, aim for something approx 23% fat. 
  • good pinch, chilli flakes
  • generous amount of salt and pepper

Crispy Bacon:

  • 2 rashers streaky bacon
  • olive oil

Burger Sauce:

  • 3 tsp tomato ketchup
  • 1 tsp mayonaise
  • 1 tsp mustard


  • 350g OO flour, this is super fine pizza flour and will give you a very light fluffy bun
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp chopped rosemary, this adds a lovely delicate savoury flavour
  • handful of sesame seeds
  • 8fl oz water

To Top:
  • mature cheddar or blue cheese
  • very finely sliced raw onion
  • handful of rocket or watercress which will balance the richness of the burger

                                                    Crispy bacon


  1. Preheat the oven to 160f
  2. If you are making your own buns, place all the ingredients in the bread machine and set to a 45 minute dough programme.
  3. Wipe the streaky bacon with olive oil and wrap in foil. Place it between two baking trays to keep it flat and place in the oven for 25 minutes until super crisp as pictured, then turn the oven up to full.
  4. Mix the beef, chilli flakes and plenty of salt and pepper, divide into two patties and press well. Place them in the fridge to chill.
  5. Mix together all the sauce ingredients and place with the rocket, onion and cheese for later.
  6. Once the dough is ready make use enough to make two buns the same diameter as your patties and use the rest for spares and freeze them for another time.
  7. Leave to rest for 10 minutes then mix a little salt and sugar with warm water and brush the tops before sprinkling on the sesame seeds.
  8. Bake in the hot oven for 10 minutes or until golden and the bottoms sound hollow when tapped. Turn the oven down to 150f.
  9. Heat a non-stick pan to medium high then remove the patties from the fridge, brush with a little oil and place carefully in the pan. Ensure both sides are well charred and the place them in the oven for 10 minutes to finish cooking.
  10. Remove from the oven, turn off the heat then top with the sliced onion, your cheese of choice and pop back in for a couple of minutes for the cheese to melt and the burger to rest a little.
  11. Half your buns, spread both sides with the burger sauce then top with the burgers and leaves.

Serve with a cold beer and chips (If you can manage them!)

Tip: If you have a burger press this will help you to create a better shaped burger. I got mine from Crate & Barrel in the States but they are readily available online.


Wednesday 11 April 2012

Views from 53 Countries: mattbslovefood has gone global!

A big thank you to my visitors from the United Kingdom, United States, Russia, Canada, Australia, Netherlands, Germany, Palestinian Territories, Malta, Georgia, Mauritius, Ireland, Israel, France, Indonesia, Gabon, Trinidad, Columbia, Norway, Poland, Ukraine, Singapore, Greece, Switzerland, Belgium, Mexico, Albania, Romania, Venezuela, Barbados, Cyprus, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, Brazil, Kenya, Thailand, Italy, Puerto Rico, Guyana, Malaysia, Denmark, India, Japan, Hungary, South Korea, Lebanon, Argentina, Czech Republic, Serbia, Vietnam, China, Azerbaijan and Iraq!

You are all very welcome, I will post some new recipes soon and if you have any requests, suggestions or feedback do let me know.


Monday 13 February 2012

Jerk chicken with rice & peas and mango salsa

The term 'jerk' comes from 'jerky' which refers to the Spanish word of 'charqui' - meat cooked over a slow wood fire. On a barbecue this would be great, but as we're in the depths of winter I'm cooking mine in the oven and hoping to release some much needed Caribbean sunshine into North London!

If you have time the chicken will benefit from a few hours in the marinade or even overnight.

The first accompaniment of rice & peas is more usually made with kidney beans although pigeon peas (gungo beans) can be used too. It's a creamy delicate foil to the charred spiciness of the meat.
The second accompaniment is mango salsa which I created to bring a bit of colour and freshness to the plate.

Recipe (Serves 2)


Jerk chicken
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 tbsp jerk seasoning (I use Dunns River)
  • 2 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 red chilled, roughly chopped
  • good handful fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tbsp water
  1. Combine all the marinade ingredients in a pestle & mortar or a blender and tip into a small bag
  2. Put the chicken in the bag and massage it to get the flavours all over
  3. Place in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight if you have time
Mango salsa
  • 1/2 ripe mango, finely diced
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • tbsp flat leaved parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, finely chopped
  • juice 1/2 time

  1. Preheat the oven to 190c for the chicken
  2. Combine all the ingredients and set aside

Rice & peas
  • 1/2 onion, finely diced
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 150ml long grain or basmati rice
  • 200ml water
  • 200ml coconut milk
  • 200g tinned kidney beans
  • 1/2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
  • glug of vegetable oil
  1. Gently fry the onion and garlic in the oil until translucent
  2. In a separate pan quickly seal the chicken over a high heat in a little oil
  3. Place the chicken in an oven proof dish in the oven for about 15-20 minutes
  4. Add the rice to the onion and garlic and stir well to coat the rice with the oil
  5. Add the rice and stir well to coat with the oil
  6. Add the water and coconut milk and bring to the boil
  7. Add the kidney beans and thyme
  8. Cook for 15 minutes until the rice is tender and the liquid absorbed
Serve with a cold can of Red Stripe and and large speakerful of Bob Marley.

Powdered jerk seasoning

Orecchiette with tenderstem broccoli and breadcrumbs (v)

Orecchiette (singular: orecchietta) pasta is typical of the Puglia region of Southern Italy. The name comes from its shape, which reminds one of a small ear.
In this recipe I have taken inspiration from peasant dishes where breadcrumbs were often used in place of more expensive ingredients such as cheese. I've mixed mine with cheese to provide an irresistible savoury crunch.

Recipe (Serves 2)

  • 200g orecchiette pasta (or any other kind)
  • 1 pack tenderstem broccoli, roughly chopped
  • 8 or 9 cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 25g breadcrumbs
  • 15g parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 1 dried chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • olive oil

  1. Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta as per the packet instructions
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a non-stick pan
  3. Combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan with a little salt and pepper
  4. Add to the pan and fry until crisp
  5. Remove onto a chopping board and run a knife through them to ensure that are still crumb-like
  6. Pour some more olive oil into the pan and gently fry the chilli and garlic
  7. A minute before the pasta is ready add the broccoli
  8. When cooked add, the pasta and broccoli to the pan and combine with the garlic and chilli and stir in the tomatoes.
  9. Serve in bowls topped with the crunchy breadcrumbs. Utterly delicious.

I always blitz the crusts from loaves of bread and keep a bag of breadcrumbs in the freezer. They can be used straight from frozen and are really handy to have.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Gingerbread with Guinness & chocolate

The Guinness in this spicy gingerbread adds a real depth to the recipe and brings out the flavour of the ginger. The pieces of chocolate provide a little luxurious treat.


  • 110g softened butter, plus a little extra for greasing
  • 250g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 50g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
  • 225g black treacle
  • 125ml Guinness or other stout
  • 1/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 180c (gas mark 4)
  2. Grease a 23cm10cm loaf tin and line with baking parchment
  3. Sift the flour, baking powder and spices together into a bowl and set aside
  4. Heat the Guinness and black treacle in a medium saucepan until it reaches boiling point then turn off the heat and carefully stir in the bicarbonate of soda. (Be careful as it with foam up!)
  5. In a medium bowl whisk the eggs and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the butter and whisk to combine.
  6. Whisk the Guinness mixture into the eggs
  7. Finally sift the flour mixture into the rest of the ingredients and add the chocolate pieces then gently fold together until combined.
  8. Pour into the prepared tin and bake for an hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out. Great served warm with ice cream or allowed to cool completely.

Monday 23 January 2012

Authentic spaghetti alla carbonara

Despite what is served up in most Italian restaurants in the UK, a true carbonara contains no cream. The consistency comes simply from the beaten egg and finely grated cheese which is cooked through in seconds by the heat of the pasta.

Recipe (Serves 2)


  • 200g good spaghetti
  • 4 eggs (2 whole and two yolks only)
  • 140g diced pancetta
  • 40g parmesan or pecorino, finely grated
  • 1 clove garlic, halved
  • glug olive oil
  • good handful of finely chopped parsley
  • salt and plenty of freshly milled black pepper


  1. Boil the spaghetti in plenty of salted boiling water as per the pack instructions
  2. Turn the heat on a pan and warm the garlic and olive oil to infuse
  3. Remove the garlic and discard, add the pancetta and fry until crisp
  4. Beat the eggs and yolks together in a large bowl then whisk in the cheese, half the parsley and add a little salt (Not too much as the pancetta is quite salty) and plenty of black pepper
  5. When the pasta is cooked, drain it but reserve a few tablespoons of the cooking water
  6. Tip the pasta and a little water into the pancetta and heat through
  7. Tip the pasta and pancetta into the egg mixture and stir through thoroughly (Never subject the egg mixture to direct heat i.e. in the pan as it will over cook and you'll find yourself with scrambled eggs)
  8. Top with more black pepper and the rest of the parsley 
Even without the cream this is still quite a rich dish so serve with a simple tomato and rocket salad and a chilled glass of crisp Italian white such as pinot grigio. Delicious.

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Luxurious fish pie

Tender chunks of delicate fish, juicy prawns, and quail's eggs in a creamy sauce with a cheesy mash topping. This has it all...

Recipe (Serves 2-3)

  • 350g mixed fish (I used salmon, haddock and smoked Alaskan pollock)
  • 8 raw prawns
  • 6 quail's eggs, boiled, shelled and halved lengthways
  • 1 leek, finely sliced
  • 25g fresh spinach, roughly chopped
  • 700g potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 50g cheddar, grated 
  • 2 tbsp crème fraîche
  • 2 tbsp vermouth
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp stock powder (I used Marigold Swiss vegetable bouillon)
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • 300ml milk, plus a little extra for the potatoes
  • 3 tsp cornflower, mixed with a little milk
  • 2 good knobs, butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 200c
  2. Boil the potatoes in salted water until soft
  3. Soften the leeks in a knob of butter for 5 minutes, then add the spinach and tarragon and stir until the spinach has just wilted
  4. Remove from the pan and put into a small baking dish
  5. Heat the milk, vermouth and stock powder then add the cornflour paste and stir until bubbling
  6. Lightly drop in the fish and poach for two minutes
  7. Return the leeks and spinach to the pan and stir in the crème fraîche, season to taste.
  8. Pour the mixture into the baking dish and add the raw prawns and quail's eggs
  9. Drain the potatoes, and mash with the milk and the second knob of butter
  10. Drop the mash in pieces on top of the fish mixture but do it as loosely as possible to achieve lots of rough edges that will crisp up in the oven.
  11. Top with the grated cheddar and bake for 20 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Serve with some steamed broccoli and a chilled glass of sauvigion blanc.

Tip: Many supermarkets sell a fish in a fish pie mix which is perfect for this recipe.

Saturday 14 January 2012

Healing soup (v)

Oof. Well I had planned to blog my healing hangover soup today anyway and it turns out that I'm 'method cooking' with a slightly sore head so I certainly need a bowlful of noodley goodness.

This soup is a well known hangover cure amongst my friends and I always ensure that I have the ingredients to hand before a big night out.
It packs a powerful chilli hit to sweat out the demon drink and also has lots of ginger and garlic to help with digestion and combat nausea. It tastes great and cooks in 5 minutes.

Recipe (Serves 2)

  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 thumb sized pieces of ginger, peeled, half chopped, half matchsticked
  • 4 small hot dried chillies (more if you can take it)
  • 2 tsp sugar (palm is best)
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine (or dry sherry)
  • 2 tsp corn flour, mixed with a little water
  • approx 1 litre of stock (vegetable or chicken)
  • approx 250g mixed chopped vegetables (I used broccoli, sugarsnaps, carrot, spring onion, peppers)
  • handful of cashew nuts
  • 2 portions of medium dried egg noodles

  1. Heat the stock in a pan and add the garlic, ginger, chillies, sugar, soy sauce, rice wine, and cornflour and simmer while you prep the vegetables
  2. Add the noodles and cook for 4 minutes
  3. Add the vegetables, stir and cook for 1 minute
  4. Serve in deep bowls topped with the cashew nuts and extra soy sauce for those that want it.


A handful of herbs or spinach are good in this too. Go for fresh mint, basil or coriander and put in the bottom of the bowl to wilt under the hot soup.

I usually make this a vegetarian dish but its good with prawns, or shredded chicken or cooked omlette too.

Delicious, I'm feeling better already! Drink anyone?

Monday 9 January 2012

Zesty lemon linguine with veal meatballs

A quick satisfying dish to liven up a dull winter evening.

Recipe (Serves 4)

  • 450g pack veal mince
  • finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, and juice of half
  • 4tbsp  crème fraîche
  • 50g bag wild rocket
  • 400g dried linguine
  • generous pinch dried thyme
  • glug of olive oil

  1. Squeeze together the veal with the thyme, lemon zest and plenty of seasoning
  2. Shape into balls roughly the size of a walnut
  3. Fry them for 12-15 minutes in the olive oil
  4. Meanwhile boil the linguine in plenty of salted water as per the pack instructions
  5. Drain and add the lemon juice, crème fraîche and rocket
  6. Stir until combined and the rocket leaves have wilted
  7. Serve in a bowl topped with the veal meatballs
Serve with a fresh salad and a glass of crisp pinot grigio.

Sunday 8 January 2012

Chorizo & chickpea soup

I spent the afternoon outside mending guttering and gardening so I needed something hearty and satisfying to warm my cockles. This soup is quick and simple to make and really delicious. Most of the flavour comes from the rich paprika infused chorizo sausage.

Recipe (serves 2)


  • 1 400g tin of chickpeas
  • 100g chorizo sausage, chopped
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 small potato, peeled and chopped
  • 1 small red chilli, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tbsp dry sherry
  • 1/2 litre stock
  • glug of olive oil


  1. Soften the chorizo, onion, chilli and pepper on the oil for 5 minutes
  2. Add the potato and sherry and cook for a further 2 minutes
  3. Add the chickpeas and the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes
  4. Add seasoning to taste then using a slotted spoon remove half the chunky mixture
  5. Blend the rest until smooth (easiest done with a stick blender in the pan)
  6. Return the mixture to the blended soup and heat through
  7. Serve topped with freshly chopped parsley and a dusting of paprika
Best eaten with some chunky bread and a cold Spanish lager such as Estrella

Monday 12 December 2011

Lasagne al forno

A good lasagne, made well is an absolute classic and guaranteed to please. It's rich so serve it with a clean, crisp rocket salad.

Recipe (serves 4)


  • Meat ragu (see previous post)
  • Pack lasagne sheets
  • Pint milk
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 4 tbsp plain flour
  • 50g grated cheddar
  • Generous handful grated parmesan
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Pinch nutmeg

  1. Pre heat the oven to 180c
  2. Melt the butter in a non stick pan and add the flour and a little of the milk to form a paste, stirring constantly
  3. Add the rest of the milk and the bay leaf  and continue to stir until you have a smooth thick sauce. Let it bubble for a few minutes to cook out the flour (If it's lumpy use a hand blender toblitz the lumps!)
  4. Add the nutmeg, some seasoning and the cheddar, stir through to melt the cheese
  5. Lightly oil a shallow oven proof dish and line with a layer of lasagne sheets, cover with a layer of ragu, a little of the sauce then repeat until the dish is full.  The top layer should be pasta sheets covered with w generous quantity of the sauce.
  6. Sprinkle on the parmesan and bake for approx 40 minutes until golden and bubbling
  7. Let it rest for 5 minutes and enjoy with a nice chianti

Rich meat ragu

This is a rich meaty treat. Perfect on it's own stirred through cooked pasta or as a base for a really good lasagne. It's worth making a large batch and freezing it ready to use for a quick dinner with friends. I use a mixture of meats for a good depth of flavour but you can use all beef if you prefer.

Recipe (serves 6 as a pasta sauce or 4 in a lasagne)

  • 500g minced beef
  • 250g minced veal
  • 250g minced pork
  • 100g cubed pancetta
  • 4 cloves crushed garlic
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • a few good handful mixed fresh herbs, bay, rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley
  • 1 bottle red wine
  • 500g pasata
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • Good glug olive oil
  1. In a very large heavy based pan gently fry the onion, garlic and carrot for 5 minutes until soft
  2. Remove from the pan, turn up the heat and cook the pancetta until really crisp
  3. Remove the pancetta and add the minced beef. Spread it across the pan and then leave it for a few minutes without stirring to get a good brown crust on it.
  4. Turn and repeat then remove and do the same with the minced pork and veal.
  5. Return all the ingredients to the pan then add the bottle of red wine, the herbs, (chopped except the bay) 
  6. Let it bubble swiftly for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol then add the pasata. Fill the empty pasata carton with water and add that and the sugar and milk.
  7. Turn down the heat and gently simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally until the liquid has reduced right down and the meat is very tender.
Serve as it is for the best spaghetti bolognese or for the following lasagne recipe.

Sunday 4 December 2011

The ULTIMATE bacon sandwich

Probably the best bacon sandwich in the world. Crisp dry cured back and streaky bacon sandwiched between two layers of bacon flecked sour dough bread and served with a spicy Bloody Mary ketchup. This should consign the chewy pink bacon in cotton wool bread to the pages of history.

You've been surviving on breakfast cereal all week so this is your weekend reward. Enjoy it with the Sunday papers and a strong coffee.

You will need one sour dough loaf. This easy to make but you will need to invest a little time during the week to prepare it.

I found this recipe online and it makes a superb loaf with a good chewy crust and a great flavour:
It make look daunting but it just requires a few simple tasks and some patience.

(Simply fold in five rashers of finely chopped crisp streaky bacon in the final stage of kneading)

If you don't want to make your own, just buy a decent crusty loaf from the shop but you'll be missing a treat.



  • pack of good dry cured back bacon
  • pack of good dry cured streaky bacon
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 1/2 tsp Tabasco sauce
  • 1/2 tsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp vodka
  1. Fry 2 rashers of back and two rashers of streaky bacon per person until crisp and golden
  2. Mix together the ketchup, Tabasco, worcestershire sauce and vodka
  3. Remove the bacon from the pan and gently fry 2 slices of the bread in the bacon juices for a minute or two on one side only
  4. Place dry side down on a place., load with the bacon and a dollop of sauce then top with the second slice of bread, juice side down.

Grab the paper, get comfy and get ready for the ULTIMATE bacon sandwich!

Monday 21 November 2011

Cottage pie topped with horseradish & cheddar mash

A classic winter warmer with a tasty twist.

Recipe (serves 2-3)


For the meat base:

  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Good handful of chopped mixed herbs (I used parsley, sage, rosemary & thyme)
  • 450ml beef or vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp mushroom ketchup
  • 2 tsp brown sauce
  • 1 tsp ketchup
  • 1 tsp gravy browning
  • 2 heaped tsp cornflower mixed with a little milk
For the topping
  • 1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 tbsp horsradish sauce
  • 30g grated cheddar, plus extra to sprinkle on top
  • good knob butter

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 175f/gas mark 4
  2. Soften the onion and carrot in a little oil until soft
  3. Remove from the pan and set aside
  4. Turn the heat up and add the mince, spreading it across the pan. Leave for 4 minutes until the underside is brown and crisp (do not be tempted to stir)
  5. Flip over for another 4 minutes and brown the other side
  6. Return the onion and carrot to the pan with the beef and add the mushroom a& tomato ketchups, the brown sauce and the herbs.
  7. Stir to break down the mince then add the beef or vegetable stock and the gravy browning
  8. Simmer for 20 minutes on a low heat and season to taste
  9. Meanwhile boil the potatoes for 10-15 minutes until soft and ready to mash
  10. Drain the potatoes and add the butter, cheddar and horsradish and mash thoroughly
  11. Pour the mince mixture into an overproof dish and then top with the mash. Don't spread it on, drop pieces of the mash all over to give it a rugged top that will provide lots of brown crispy bits.
  12. Top with the remaining cheddar and place in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the top is crisp and the sauce is bubbling around the edges
Serve with steamed broccoli or cabbage

Thursday 17 November 2011

Veggie Thai green curry (v)

I created this recipe for a vegetarian lady very close to my heart. It will probably make the purists balk at the lack of fish sauce but this is a clean zesty treat for all lovers of Thai flavours. As with a lot of my recipes its  easy and versatile with not too much stress about quantities. Just use your favourite green vegetables.


Ingredients (serves 2)

  • bunch of spring onions (one finely chopped and set aside) chopped coarsely at an angle
  • 2 sticks lemongrass bashed with the outer skins removed and finely chopped
  • 3 green chillies roughly chopped (leave the seeds in if you like it spicy)
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • generous thumb sized piece of ginger
  • handful of fresh coriander
  • a few fresh basil leaves
  • tiny pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 tsp frozen lime leaves (available from Waitrose)
  • juice and zest of a lime
  • 1 tsp palm sugar
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 1 tsp stock powder
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 courgette, sliced in half length ways and sliced into pieces
  • 1/2 head of broccoli cut into florets and the stalk chopped too, its sweet and delicious
  • 1/3 green pepper, sliced 
  • handful of sugar snap peas
  • handful of frozen peas or petit pois
  • good handful cashew nuts
  • handful of fresh spinach

Broccoli stalk

  1. Place the garlic, ginger, chillies, lemongrass, half the spring onions, coriander, lime leaves, palm sugar, half the basil leaves, cloves and half the basil leaves in a pestle and mortar and pound to a vibrant green aromatic pulp.
  2. Scrape the paste into a saucepan and cook through on a low heat before adding the coconut milk, soy sauce and stock powder and simmer for 5 minutes
  3. Bring to a rapid boil and add the vegetables, cooking for 1 minute only
  4. Place the spinach, the rest of the basil and half the cashew nuts in a deep serving bowl
  5. Pour the curry on top and garnish with the finely chopped spring onion, the rest of the cashews and a few coriander leaves.
Serve with some Thai fragrant rice and an ice cold Singha beer.

Sunday 6 November 2011

New recipe M*rs Bar on the way?

I am currently blind tasting a chocolate bar each day as part of a new consumer survey. There are nine versions to try but so far they are all suspiciously like a certain chocolate bar that used to "Help us work, rest and play".

There are slight differences in texture and substantialness, with the heavier versions much more satisfying than the fluffily whipped one currently on sale.

It was made considerably lighter a few years ago to appeal to the female market but I have a sneaky feeling they may be returning to the original recipe.

Keep an eye out for new advertising in the coming months. If I'm right, you heard it here first...

Saturday 5 November 2011

Bonfire night banger casserole

Remember, remember the 5th November with bangers crisping on the bonfire embers.

This is a hearty meal to warm the cockles before heading out to watch the Guy Fawkes fireworks.

Recipe (Serves 4)
  • 6 good quality sausages (I used Sainsburys Toulouse style)
  • 50g cubed pancetta
  • 200g lentils (I used a mix of puy and green)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 2 pickled onions, sliced
  • 1 carrot cubed into 1 cm pieces
  • 50g suede or parsnip cubed into 1cm pieces
  • 2tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1tsp tomato puree
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 good handful of chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme, rosemary and sage
  • 1 large glass of red wine
  • 1 litre of hot stock, whichever you have to hand
  • olive or vegetable oil

  1. Heat a glug of oil in a pan and fry the sausages until browned and cooked through, remove and put to one side
  2. Add the pancetta and cook until browned and crisp, remove add put with the sausages
  3. Add the onions and garlic and soften on a low heat in the juices from the sausages and pancetta for 5-10 minutes
  4. Add the carrot, suede or parsnip and sugar, cook for another 5 minutes stirring from time to time
  5. Add the lentils, mixed herbs and bayleaf. Stir combine then add the red wine, mustard and tomato puree
  6. Simmer rapidly until the wine has been absorbed and the alcohol burnt off
  7. Add the stock, bring to the boil and then simmer for 30 minutes
  8. Heat some more oil in another pan
  9. Slice the cooked sausages diagonally and fry until crisp all over
  10. Add to the casserole with the pancetta, stir and serve with a generous dollop of creamy mashed potato.

Monday 31 October 2011

Spiced squash Halloween soup (v)

A winter warmer with a spicy glow. Perfect after a night of trick or treats!


  • 1 small butternut squash (approx 750g)
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried rosemary
  • good glug of olive oil
  • 1 litre of hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp cream cheese


  1. Combine all the ingredients except the stock and cream cheese in a roasting tray and place in a preheated oven at 200c/390f /gas mark 4 for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally
  2. After 30 minutes check that the squash is soft with a sharp knife. If it is still firm give it a few minutes more
  3. Stip the contents into a saucepan, rinse out the tray with some of the stock and then ad it all to the pan
  4. Heat through and blend until smooth
  5. Add the cream cheese and blend again to combine
  6. Top with a drizzle of olive oil and dust with paprika
Serve with warm crusty rolls