November Recipes


Serves 4

Salt and pepper
1kg. / 2lbs. 4ozs. silverside or topside of beef
1tbsp. oil
2 onions, halved and cut into crescent moons
3 garlic cloves, chopped
150mls. dry white or red wine
4 carrots halved lengthways
2 large tomatoes, quartered
3 thyme sprigs
3 bay leaves
300mls. / 10fl. ozs. chicken or beef stock 

  1. Preheat the oven to 140C / gas mark 1.  Season the beef and heat the oil in a large casserole.  Brown the joint all over.  Remove and put the onions in the pan and cook until golden.  Add the garlic for another couple of minutes, then add the wine and bring to the boil.  Return the beef to the casserole along with all the other vegetables and the herbs.
  2. Pour the hot stock over.  Season well, cover and cook in the oven for 2½ hours.


I cook this meal an awful lot and add other vegetables.  Yesterday it was leeks and parsnips as well as the carrots.  I serve it with mashed potato.  I also allow the meat to rest once it is cooked for a good 15 minutes.  I thicken the cooking juices by adding cornflour (do mix with cold water first) and bring to the boil.

The cookery writer had this dish in France where they serve it with either bread or a gratin of macaroni.  The macaroni was either moistened with juices from the pot roast or with cream, then topped with Parmesan or Gruyere cheese and baked or grilled.  I haven’t tried that version yet.


Serves 6

150g. / 5 ½ ozs. short grain rice
700mls. / 1¼ pints full fat milk
30g. / 1¼ ozs. caster sugar
75ml. / 2 ½fl. ozs. double cream
grated nutmeg or cinnamon

For the apple:

3 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and sliced
100mls. 3½fl. ozs. cider
caster sugar to taste

For the syrup:

150g. / 5½ ozs. caster sugar
To serve:

The remainder of your carton of cream

  1. Cover the rice with water in a saucepan and bring to the boil.  Boil for 4 minutes, drain and rinse.  Return the rice to the pan and add the milk and sugar.  Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cook for about 25 minutes, stirring from time to time.  You may need more milk.  You should end up with a sloppy mixture that still holds its shape.  Remember it will firm up as it cools.  Leave until cold.
  2. Put the apples in a pan with the cider and set over a medium heat.  Cover and cook until completely soft, stirring to break them down every so often.  Once cooked add sugar to taste.
  3. To make the syrup put the sugar into a pan with 100mls. / 3½ fl.ozs. water.  Heat slowly until the sugar has dissolved.  Then bring to the boil and watch until the syrup turns to caramel.  Swish the pan a bit.  Once it becomes caramel, you will know by the smell and colour, immediately add about 8 tbsps. water and wish around.  Stir so the caramel dissolves in the water.
  4. Layer the components up in glasses.  Start with some apple, then caramel, then rice pudding, then caramel.  Repeat.  Spoon whipped cream on top and drizzle with caramel.  Refrigerate until serving.


Do watch when adding the water to the caramel as it will spit and is very hot!!  You need to watch caramel very carefully as you do not want it to burn.  Stand by the saucepan and don’t answer the ‘phone.

If making caramel is a step too far for you you could just have a thin layer of chopped nuts or crushed ginger biscuits, which would add a contrast colour wise. I think ginger biscuits would be rather nice in fact. 

October Recipes


1 butternut squash, about 1kg., peeled and deseeded
2 tbsps. olive oil
1 tbsp.butter
2 onions, diced
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 mild red chillies, deseeded and finely chopped
850mls. hot vegetable stock
4 tbsps. creme fraiche, plus extra to serve

Heat the oven to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6.  Cut the squash into large chunks, deseed, then toss in a roasting tin with 1 tbsp.of the oil.

Roast for 30 minutes, until golden and soft.

Melt the butter with the remaining 1 tbsp. oil, add the onion, garlic and 3/4’s of the diced chilli.  Cook until the onions are soft.  Tip the squash into the pan, add the stock and 4 tbsps. creme fraiche and whizz with a stick blender, or in a liquidiser, until smooth.  Return to the pan and gently reheat, then season to taste.

Serve in bowls with swirls of creme fraiche and a scattering of the remaining chilli.  


Squash is much easier to peel after it has been roasted.  You can easily scrape it off the skin.  Jamie Oliver is a great one for eating the skin as well as it softens when cooked.  Give it a good scrub if you are planning to do that.




250g. plain flour
125g. cold, unsalted butter
50g. caster sugar
pinch of salt and cinnamon – optional


4 barely ripe pears
2 tbsps. soft brown sugar
50g. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. demerara sugar
1 tbsp. flaked almonds


75g. soft, unsalted butter
75g. caster sugar
1 large egg, beaten
20g. plain flour
75g. ground almonds
dash of vanilla extract

First make the pastry.  Rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  This can be done easily in a food processor.  Then add the sugar, cinnamon and salt if using. Mix together with cold water (about 50mls.) until you have a dough.  Pat into a round, wrap in clingfilm and put in the fridge to rest for about 30 minutes.

Peel, quarter and core the pears and cut the quarters into 2.  Heat the butter and sugar and cook gently for a few minutes, until the pears soften,  Drain in a sieve, retaining all the sauce.  Cool the sauce in the fridge for later.

To make the frangipane cream the butter and sugar and add the egg, flour, almonds and vanilla.  Beat well until fluffy.

Roll out the pastry to a large circle, no bigger than 4 mm. and put on a greased baking sheet.  Set the oven at 200C / gas mark 6.  Spread the frangipane on the pastry leaving a 2cm. border.  Arrange the pears on top and sprinkle with the demerara sugar and almonds.  Bake for 20 minutes and allow to cool for 10 – 15 minutes.  Serve trickled with some of the sauce and with cream or ice cream.. 



You can buy your pastry if you do not wish to make it but make sure you get all butter shortcrust, it is so much better.  If you make your own pastry make sure the butter is really cold.  I would turn the edge of the pastry circle over slightly to form a rim and stop any juice making the bottom of the pastry soggy.  Drain the pears well.  You could always cook the pears the day before and make the pastry, but let it come to room temperature before cooking if you have done so.   

Recipes for September

Venison and Apple Casserole

1lb./ 450g. cubed venison, dusted in flour
2 tbsps. oil
8ozs. / 225g. shallots, peeled
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
8ozs. / 225g. diced bacon
2 carrots, peeled and chopped and 2 leeks, chopped
small tin chopped tomatoes
3 tbsps. brandy
3/4 pt. / 15fl. ozs. good beef stock
desert spoon tomato puree
1 desert spoon juniper berries
2 – 3 Bramley or Cox’s Orange Pippins cut into chunks
Pepper and salt to taste

Heat the oil in a pan and fry the venison until well browned, remove to a plate. Add diced bacon to the pan along with the shallots and garlic. Crush the juniper berries just enough to release their flavour and add to the pan.

Return the venison to the pan, add the vegetables, tomato puree, tin of tomatoes, stock and brandy. Bring to a gentle simmer, put on a lid and cook for 1 1/2 hours. Add the apples to the pan and simmer for a further 30 minutes. If the sauce needs thickening mix some cornflour with cold water and add, stirring all the time. You could cook this in the oven on a low heat if you would prefer to do so.

Fresh Plum Cake

225g. / 8ozs. self raising flour
1 tsp. gd. cinnamon
100g. / 4ozs. hard margarine or butter
50g. / 2ozs. sultanas
50g. / 2ozs. soft brown sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 large eggs
4 tbsps. golden syrup
225. / 8ozs. plum, stoned and chopped

Preheat oven to 160 / Gas Mark 3.

Grease and line an 8 inch square baking tin. Rub the flour, half the cinnamon and the margarine together. Add the sultanas and 50g. / 2ozs. soft brown sugar and stir. Beat eggs and syrup together in a separate bowl, add plums, then stir into the flour mixture.

Transfer to tin and level surface. Mix the rest of the brown sugar and the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the cake. Cook in the centre of the oven for 45 – 50 minutes and then test. It should be risen and just firm to the touch.

Cut into squares to eat. This is best eaten warm with ice cream though you can eat it cold. It works just as well with apples and rhubarb.

Recipes for August


Serves 4

8 good quality pork sausages
1 tsp. fennel seeds
pinch dried chilli flakes
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsps. mayonnaise
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 bulb fennel, sliced or chopped
4 rolls, split in half

  1. Heat the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6.  Snip the tops off the sausages and squeeze out the meat.  Stir in the fennel seeds, chilli flakes and half the zest, then shape into 4 patties.  Place the burgers on a greased baking sheet and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until golden and cooked through. 
  2. Meanwhile, mix the remaining zest and juice with the mayonnaise and seasoning, then stir in the onion and fennel.  Leave to stand while the burgers finish cooking.
  3. Place a burger in each roll with some slaw, serving any extra on the side


Makes 16 squares

150g. butter, unsalted
150g. dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
3 medium eggs
100g. caster sugar
100g. light brown soft sugar
30g. cocoa powder
75g. plain flour

For the topping:

125g. soft cheese i.e. cream cheese, full fat
1 medium egg
50g. caster sugar
150g. pack raspberries

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4 and line a 20cm. by 20cm. square baking tin with baking parchment.
  2. Melt the butter and chocolate in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water, or use the microwave in short bursts, stirring until smooth.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk the eggs and both sugars with an electric whisk until the mixture is thick and foamy (about 5 minutes).
  4. Pour the melted chocolate into the whisked eggs and fold until carefully combined, using either a spatula or metal spoon.  Sieve the cocoa powder and flour over the top and fold again to make a smooth batter.
  5. For the topping, beat the soft cheese, egg and caster sugar together.  Scrape most of the brownie batter into the cake tin, reserving 2 tbsps. to make the swirl top.  Smooth the batter.  Press in half the raspberries.
  6. Pour the cheesecake mixture into the tin and tilt to create an even layer.  Add 2 tsps water to the remaining brownie batter to loosen it then dollop teaspoon sized amounts over the top of the cheesecake layer.  Swirl gently using a skewer.
  7. Scatter over the remaining raspberries and bake for 30 – 35 minutes – the top should still have a slight wobble.  Allow to cool completely in the tin before slicing and serving.  These will keep for up to 4 days covered in the fridge.  


If you wanted to cut down on the amount of sugar in the brownies, you could use 100g. of light brown sugar and 50g. of caster sugar.  It is all a question of personal taste but that should be fine.

Be careful if melting your chocolate in the microwave, do it in slow bursts.

Make sure the fennel is well covered with the lemon juice.  I wouldn’t make the slaw until the last minute, otherwise it could discolour.

July Recipes


1 large onion, chopped
5 tbsps. olive oil
3 crushed garlic cloves
2 tbsps. tomato puree
500mls. tomato passata
400g. tin chopped tomatoes
2 1/2 tsps. dried oregano
1 tsp. caster sugar
large pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
2 large aubergines
50g. grated Parmesan
1 mozzarella ball
30g. dried breadcrumbs
small handful fresh basil

  1. Heat the oven to 200C fan / gas mark 7.  In a large frying pan heat 1 tbsp. of the oil and fry the onion for 5 minutes.  Add garlic fry for one more minute.  Then add the tomato puree and fry for a further minute.
  2. Pour in the passata, chopped tomatoes, 2 tsps. dried oregano, the caster sugar and chilli if using.  Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes until slightly reduced.  Pour the sauce into your baking dish.
  3. Take the aubergines and make widthways cuts at 1cm. intervals, three quarters of the way through, so the slices are still attached at the bottom.  Drizzle with 3 tbsps. olive oil, getting into the cuts.  Spoon a little tomato sauce into the cuts, along with 30g. grated Parmesan.  Arrange the aubergines in the baking dish on top of the sauce and bake for 30 minutes or until the aubergines are slightly charred.
  4. Cut the mozzarella ball into 6 – 8 pieces then dot over the aubergines.  In a small bowl mix the dried breadcrumbs with 20g. grated Parmesan, 1 tbsp. olive oil and 1/2 tsp. dried oregano.  Sprinkle over the aubergines and bake for a further 20 – 30 minutes until the cheese is golden and the aubergines are tender.  Top with fresh basil and serve with crusty bread and a green salad.  



2 medium beetroot
dash olive oil
20g. blanched almonds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1 red eating apple cut into 2cm cubes
1 green eating apple cut into 2cm. cubes
1/2 small red onion sliced
handful fresh herbs
salt and pepper


150g. plain yogurt
1 lime, zest and juice
2 tsps. runny honey

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6.
  2. Line a baking tray with kitchen foil and place the beetroot in the middle.  Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil.  Wrap the foil around the beetroots, seal and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Place a small frying pan over a low heat and toast the nuts and cumin seeds for 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  4. Peel and cut the beetroot into 2cm. cubes and place in a large, glass bow.  Stir in the apple, nuts, seeds and herbs.
  5. To make the dressing mix the ingredients together in a bowl.  Just before serving dress the salad and mix well. 


The best Mozzarella is buffalo mozzarella.  You could use Parmigiano Reggiano rather than Parmesan, or even a strong Cheddar if you wished.

Do not prepare the beetroot salad too much in advance as the apple will discolour.  If preparing it slightly in advance toss the apple in lemon juice which will stop them going brown.

When toasting the nuts and seeds do be careful as they burn very easily.  Do not have your heat too high.

June Recipes – Spring Pea Dip and Strawberry Cake


250g. frozen peas or petit pois
a large knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
1 x 100g. bag watercress, spinach and rocket
25g. hard cheese finely grated
1 tbsps. chopped mint leaves
2 tbsps. olive oil
Extra mint leaves and cheese shavings to decorate

This can be made up to 2 days ahead and chilled.  Remove from the fridge 2 hours before serving.  It can also be frozen but leave out the mint.  Defrost and allow to come to room temperature before adding the mint, finely chopped.

Put the peas in a large bowl and cover with just boiled water.  Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then drain in a sieve, and run under cold water.

Meanwhile, heat the butter in a frying pan, add the shallot and cook gently for 5minutes, stir in the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes.  Add the salad leaves plus 1 tbsp. water and cover with a lid.  Cook gently for 2 – 3 minutes until wilted.  Stir in the peas and remove from the heat.

Transfer to a food processor with the grated cheese, mint and olive oil.  Whizz briefly to a chunky puree.  Season, transfer to a serving bowl and decorate with cheese shavings and mint leaves.  Serve with bread, toasted or otherwise. 


250g. plain flour
1 1/2 tsps. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
85g. unsalted butter, softened, plus more for greasing the pan
225g. caster sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp.vanilla extract
120mls. milk
About 340g. strawberries (see below), hulled and halved (but quarter if large)

Preheat the oven to 180.  You will cook the cake for 10 minutes at this temperature and then reduce to 165 for about 35 minutes.

Butter a 9 inch deep dish or a 9 inch square cake tin.  In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Set aside.

In another bowl beat the butter and all the sugar apart from 2 tbsps. until pale and fluffy, about 3minutes.  Add the egg and vanilla extract and beat again until well combined.  Gradually add the flour mixture, alternating with the milk, and beat on low speed until smooth.  It will be like a thick batter.

Transfer the batter to the prepared dish / tin and smooth with a spatula.  Arrange the strawberries on top, cut side down, so that they completely cover the batter (use more or less if necessary).  Sprinkle with the remaining 2 tbsps. sugar.

Bake until the cake is lightly golden and a tester comes out clean.  It can take up to another 35 – 50 minutes.  Let the cake cool in the dish / tin and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.  The cake can be stored loosely covered for several days at room temperature.


I thought the dip would be nice to serve with drinks in the garden, always providing the weather holds and felt a strawberry recipe was called for at this time of year.  The chef baked his cake in an earthenware dish.  I would serve it directly from the dish.  If you use a tin instead I would line it.  I am a great one for lining tins, even when the instructions do not tell you to.  It just makes life so much easier.

May Recipe – Spring Veg Spelt Pizza

Serves 2 – 4

For the dough:

250g. wholemeal or white spelt flour
1 tsp. dried active yeast (I used easy blend)
1 tsp. fine sea salt
1 tsp. honey
1 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for greasing the bowl

For the beetroot chutney:

1 x 250g. pack cooked beetroot in natural juices, drained
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 small red apple, peeled, cored and finely chopped (I actually didn’t peel mine)
75mls. red wine vinegar
100g. light brown soft sugar
1 tbsp. thyme leaves

For the topping:

125g. ricotta (I would actually use more of the 250g. tub)
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 tbsps. finely grated Parmesan
6 tbsps. olive oil
6 stalks broccoli (cut in half if large)
50g. frozen peas
a handful of rocket, plus extra to serve
2 tbsps. toasted pine nuts

For the dough, mix the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl.  Dissolve the honey in 125mls. warm water and add to the bowl with the olive oil.  Mix to make a rough dough, tip on to a floured work surface and knead for 5 minutes until smooth.  Transfer to a clean, oiled bowl and cover with clingfilm.  Leave to rise for 1 hour or until doubled in size.  I use my airing cupboard for dough rising.

For the chutney, reserve a small beat for the topping, chop the rest into 5mm. dice and put in a saucepan with the remaining ingredients.  Simmer uncovered for 35 minutes, stirring often, until the beets break down a little and the chutney is sticky.  Transfer to a bowl or sterilised jar.  The leftovers will keep in the fridge for at least 2 weeks.

Preheat the oven to 240, fan 220, gas mark 9.  Mix the ricotta, garlic, 3 tbsps. of the Parmesan, 1 tbsp. olive oil and some crushed black pepper.  Finely slice the reserved beetroot.  Knock the dough back, turn out on to a lightly floured surface, cut in half and roll each piece to make a thin base about 18cm. x 30cm.  Transfer to separate floured baking sheets and spread half the ricotta mixture over each base, leaving a 1cm. border.

Boil the broccoli for 2 – 3 minutes and pat dry on kitchen paper.  Top each pizza with the broccoli and sliced beetroot, then add dollops of beetroot chutney and scatter over the rest of the Parmesan, drizzle with 1/2 tbsps. olive oil and cook for 15 minutes until the base is crisp.

Meanwhile, add the peas to a pan of boiling water and cook for 2 – 3 minute until tender.  Put the rocket, peas, pine nuts and 4 tbsps. olive oil in a blender and blend until finely chopped.  Drizzle over the pizzas and scatter with a handful of rocket.


  1. I made this last night and it was very nice but quite a lot of work.  You could easily use ready made beetroot chutney, or some other form of chutney (e.g. caramelised onion) instead of making your own.   
  2. The pea mixture which is added at the end is just like pesto so, again, instead of making your own, you could use a jar of ready made pesto and thus save time and trouble.
  3. You could obviously use frozen broccoli if you don’t have any fresh to hand.  This would stretch to feed 4 if you accompanied it with garlic bread and a salad.  If you are not a vegetarian you can, of course, use some meat on the topping.  I leave that up to you.
  4. It was a nice dough to handle, kneaded well but I did add slightly more water than the recipe said, not too much!  Spelt flour is considered to be easier to digest and I use it a lot.