April Recipe – Slow Cooked Lamb With Beans

Here is a lovely recipe for Easter, or any weekend come to that:

 Serves 6

500g. dried white beans (I used cannellini from Handley Organics)
4 onions, about 750g. quartered
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 carrot, peeled and cut into chunks
1 shoulder or leg of lamb (about 2kgs. in weight)
1 tbsp. oil
250mls. white wine
3 large sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsps. chopped parsley

Soak the beans overnight in a bowl of cold water.

They need to be pre-cooked, so put them in a large saucepan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes.  Drain and reserve the water.

Heat the oven to gas mark 3/ 170C.  Either finely chop the onions, garlic and carrot or blitz them in a food processor.  Sear the lamb in a roasting pan, until it takes on some colour and then remove.  Add the onion mush to the tin, and fry gently for 5 minutes.  Add the beans, stirring them in well and then pour in the wine and 1 litre of the reserved bean liquid.  Tuck the rosemary sprigs in and then place the lamb back on top of the beans.  Season with plenty of salt and bring to the boil.  When it starts to bubble, cover the tin with foil, baggily but with sealed edges and place in the oven for 4 hours or turn down the oven to gas mark 1 / 140C after 3 hours and leave for up to 8 hours.  It will be fine to eat after 3.

Remove the tin from the oven and let it sit for 10 minutes, then remove the foil and transfer the lamb to a board.  Stir the beans and taste for  seasoning, then spoon into a large dish and carve the lamb into shreds and chunks and arrange on top.  sprinkle a little more salt over, scatter over the parsley and let people dig in.


There are so many beans in this that I do not think it needs any other vegetable,  Though Nigella, whose recipe it is, suggests a plain tomato salad to be served afterwards with a little Dijon mustard dressing.  Evidently she loves mustard with lamb!

I think some crusty bread might be nice myself.  Maybe even a green vegetable such as cabbage to go alongside.

I am cooking this myself on Easter Sunday. 

Happy Easter

February Recipes – Jane’s Borscht and Carrot Puree

Jane’s Borscht

Serves 6

500g. / 1lb. 2ozs. raw beetroot, peeled and grated (or finely chopped into small cubes)
500g. / 1lb. 2ozs. red cabbage, finely shredded
3 tbsps. tomato puree
2 tbsps. red wine vinegar
125g. / 4 1/2 ozs. butter
1.2 litres beef stock (use vegetable if preferred)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 carrot, grated
salt and pepper
1 tbsp. brown sugar

To garnish

275mls. / 1/2pt. soured cream

Put the beetroot and red cabbage into a large saucepan.  Stir in the tomato puree, vinegar, half the butter and the stock.  Cover, bring to the boil and simmer for 1 hour.

Melt the remaining butter and saute the onion and carrot until soft.  Add to the beetroot and red cabbage mixture, cover and simmer gently for a further 15 minutes.  Taste for seasoning and add the brown sugar.  Serve garnished with sour cream.

Carrot Puree

This works well as a sauce for lamb meatballs, but is also delicious as a dip with pitta bread or spread over barbecued kebabs.

4 large carrots
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 teaspoon caraway seeds
juice of 1/2 lemon
a few sprigs of fresh mint
4 tbsps. natural yoghurt
freshly ground black pepper, sea salt
2 garlic cloves

Peel and chop the carrots.  Place in a pan with water and bring to the boil.  Simmer until they are very tender.  Drain away the water and return to a low heat.

Add the olive oil and the caraway seeds and sweat for a moment.  Cool before blending with half the lemon juice and then add the mint leaves.  Add more oil if needed.  Turn into a bowl.

Beat the yogurt with some salt and pepper, remaining lemon juice and the crushed garlic.  Make a well in the centre of the carrot puree and put the yogurt mixture into this. 


I tried this puree without the mint leaves with beetroot and it was lovely but took longer to soften the beetroot than the carrots.

Caraway seeds can be found at Handley Organics, they have a very distinctive flavour which I really like.

January Recipe – Roots, Barley and Lamb Cawl with Cheddar Puffs

Serves 6


2 tbsps. olive oil
2 medium lamb shanks, about 425g. each
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 leek, trimmed, halved lengthways and chopped
2 medium parsnips, about 250g., chopped into 1cm. cubes
250g. peeled celeriac, chopped into 1cm. cubes
350g. carrots, chopped into 1cm. cubes
2 bay leaves
3 tbsps. thyme leaves
100g. pearl barley, rinsed
2 tbsps. tomato puree
1 x 500ml. bottle of ale
1.5ltr. vegetable, chicken or lamb stock
150g. shredded kale

For the cheddar puffs:

1 x 320g. sheet ready rolled puff pastry
100g. mature cheddar, grated
3 tbsps. milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 150C / fan 130C / gas mark 2. Heat 1 tbsp. of the oil in a large, heavy based casserole.  Season the lamb shanks, brown them all over on a high heat and remove to a plate.
  2. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil to the pan with the onion and leek and cook for 4 – 5 minutes until starting to soften. Tip in the parsnips, celeriac, carrots, bay leaves and thyme with some seasoning and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.
  3. Add the pearl barley and tomato puree and cook for 1 minute, stirring. Pour in the ale and the stock and return the lamb to the pan,  The pearl barley will absorb a lot of the liquid.  Bring to the boil, then cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours.  The vegetables, barley and lamb should all be tender, with the meat coming off the bone easily.  Cook for another 15 – 30 minutes if necessary.  Remove the bay leaves, check the seasoning and add the kale and stir through.  Return to the oven for another 5 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, unroll the pastry sheet and give it another roll with a rolling pin until it is quite thin. Cut the pastry in half, scatter most of the cheese over one piece, and put the other piece on top.  Roll together to seal in the cheese and using a 6cm. cutter stamp out 18 or so rounds and place on a lined baking tray.  Brush with the milk and sprinkle the tops with the rest of the cheese.
  5. Remove the casserole from the oven and increase the temperature to 200C / fan 180C / gas mark 6. Bake the puffs for 12 – 15 minutes until crisp and golden.
  6. Lift the lamb shanks out on to a board and use 2 forks to pull the meat apart into large shreds. Stir back through the casserole.  Ladle into bowls and serve topped with the cheddar puffs.


You can vary the vegetables used e.g. use swede instead of celeriac if preferred.  Portions can be adjusted if cooking for less than 6.  I would just use one lamb shank if I was feeding 4 but probably stick to the same number of vegetables, stock etc . as it could always be eaten the following day as a hearty soup.

Christmas Recipies

I have spoilt you and given you two recipes this month, one sweet one savoury!


Makes one 20cm. panforte

100g. plain flour
40g. cocoa powder
good pinch of salt
1 tbsp. gd. cinnamon
2 tsps. gd. ginger
1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. freshly gd. black pepper (optional but gives good heat)
300g. assorted whole nuts (I used almonds and hazelnuts)
100g. candied peel
100g. dark chocolate buttons, or dark chocolate chopped
200g. caster sugar
100g. runny honey
200g. mincemeat

Preheat the oven to 170C / 150C fan / Gas 3 1/2 and line a 21cm. round, loose-bottomed or springform tin with baking parchment.

In a large mixing bowl, add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, spices, nuts and candied peel.  Mix to combine.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water or use a microwave set to low-medium, giving the chocolate short, sharp bursts until melted.

Heat the sugar and honey in a small pan over a moderate heat, stirring to help the sugar dissolve, then rapidly boil for 45 to 60 seconds.

Remove from the heat, stir in the mincemeat and pour this mixture over the melted chocolate, stirring to combine.

Pour the mixture into the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  The mixture should be very sticky and dense.  Tip into the prepared tin and press to flatten it out (use wet hands if you like).

Bake for 35 to 40 minutes until the top is firm to the touch and no traces of chocolate are left on your hand when you touch it.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely before removing from the tin.  It will keep for a month in an air tight container.  Wrap whole or in wedges to give as a gift. 


A good way to use left over turkey.  Marinate it for up to 24 hours before cooking.

about 700g. cooked turkey, cut into thin strips
juice of 2 limes
a dash of Tabasco
2 tbsps. olive oil, plus a little extra
salt and pepper
12 fajitas or tortillas
8 spring onions, finely sliced on the diagonal
1 large red pepper thinly sliced
3/4 tsp. each of gd. coriander, turmeric and paprika

To serve:

soured cream or creme fraiche, romaine or Cos lettuce, mango chutney

Preheat oven to 160C / 140C fan / gas 3.

Marinate the turkey with the lime juice, Tabasco, olive oil, salt and pepper, for at least 30 minutes.  Wrap the 12 fajitas or tortillas in foil and heat for 5 minutes in the oven.

Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry the spring onions and pepper until cooked.  Add the turkey to the pan with the spices and fry for a further few minutes.  Pour over any remaining marinade and cook for a further minute.

Put the soured cream or creme fraiche, lettuce and mango chutney in 3 separate bowls.  Transfer the fajitas to a basket and spoon the meat into a warm serving dish.  Everybody helps themselves.  Spread half the fajita with mango chutney, sour cream, lettuce and turkey and vegetables.  Roll up and enjoy. 

Here’s wishing you all a happy Christmas and good cooking.

Best Wishes,


Pear, Marsala, Coffee and Chocolate Trifle

Serves 8


125g. raisins
275mls. Marsala
150mls. strong black coffee
1 tbsp. soft light brown sugar
145g. sponge fingers
15g. hazelnuts, toasted and very roughly chopped
6 tbsps. cocoa powder
300mls. double or whipping cream
2 tbsps. caster sugar

For the custard:

4 large egg yolks
65g. caster sugar
2 1/2 tbsps. cornflour
250mls. whole milk
300mls. double cream
1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract

For the pears:

300mls. dry white wine or cider
125g. granulated sugar
2 strips of lemon rind
2 tsps. vanilla extract
4 Williams pears, peeled, halved and cored


  1. Put the raisins in a saucepan and add 200mls. of Marsala.  Bring to just under the boil, remove from the heat and leave the raisins to plump up.
  2. For the custard, Put the egg yolks, sugar and cornflour in a large bowl and mix well.  Heat the milk, cream and vanilla in a large pan until just below boiling, then take off the heat and slowly pour over the sugar and egg mixture, whisking continuously.
  3. Clean the pan, put the egg and cream mixture into it and whisk over a medium heat for 2 – 3 minutes until thickened.  If any lumps appear whisk the mixture or beat hard with a wooden spoon.  Pour into a large bowl, cover with greaseproof paper or baking parchment and leave to cool completely.
  4. Put the wine, 200mls. water, the sugar and lemon rind into a saucepan and heat, stirring to get the sugar to dissolve.  Add the vanilla and pears and cook gently until the pears are just soft.  Leave the pears in the liquid until they are cool.
  5. Put the hot coffee into a dish and add the light brown sugar and the rest of the Marsala.  Dip the sponge fingers in the coffee mixture and lay 2 for every portion in the bottom of eight glasses or bowls (each with a volume of about 250mls.), breaking them up if necessary.
  6. Spoon the raisins on top of the sponge, scatter on the nuts and sift some of the cocoa powder over the top.  Slice the pears thickly and divide between the glasses, then add the custard.
  7. Put the glasses / bowls in a roasting tin, or something similar, cover with clingfilm and put in the fridge for 2 hours.
  8. Before you serve sift some cocoa powder on top of the custard.  Whip the cream and add the caster sugar and spoon this on top of each trifle.  Sprinkle the rest of the cocoa powder on top and serve.


You can use tinned pears in a natural juice, not syrup, if you do not want to poach your own.  Fresh pears are, of course, in season this month.

If you do not want to make fresh custard you could use custard powder at a push.  If you make fresh custard you do not have to use cream.  I make mine with all milk but I use gold top.  Do not have the heat too high when you have mixed in the eggs as otherwise you will end up with scrambled egg.  You can buy fresh custard in the chiller cabinet also if you wish.

You could replace the Marsala with sweet sherry if you do not have Marsala or wish to buy it.

I use Greek yoghurt on top of my trifles as it is less sweet.  I also use Greek yoghurt on my pavlovas as it adds a bit of tartness.  I can also kid myself that I am being healthier by not using cream!!

I thought this might be a nice recipe for Christmas.  You could always make it in one large bowl if you preferred or didn’t have the glasses to make individual ones.

October Recipe – Cabbage and Sausage Hotpot

(Serves four)

A really easy recipe this month:-


2 tbsps. olive oil
12 sausages (that allows for 3 each so you might want less!)
2 tsps. fennel seeds
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cayenne or mild chilli pepper
1 white cabbage (weighing about 1.5kg.)
1 large glass of wine (about 200mls.)
1 large pear
black pepper and salt
1 tsp. brown sugar


  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on a medium flame.  Add the sausages for a few minutes with the fennel and mustard seeds and the cayenne pepper.  Allow them to become a little brown and then remove from the pan.
  2. Finely slice the cabbage.  Then add the cabbage and wine to the saucepan and core and roughly chop the pear and add this.
  3. Place the lid on the saucepan, or hob proof casserole, and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Turn down to a low flame and return the sausages to the pot, along with salt, pepper and the sugar and simmer with the lid on for a further 20 minutes.

This was, I thought, a good recipe for this time of year and we are lucky to have good butchers in Ledbury who make a large variety of excellent sausages!

September Recipe – Blackberry Bakewell Pudding


225g. / 8ozs. blackberries
50g. / 2ozs. blackberry jam
175g. / 6ozs. softened butter
75g. / 3ozs. caster sugar
3 large eggs, beaten
175g. / 6ozs. ground almonds
40g. / 1 1/2ozs. plain flour
50g. / 2ozs. icing sugar
juice of 1/2 a lemon
2 tbsps. flaked almonds, toasted


  1. Preheat oven to 180C / fan 160C gas mark 4.  In a medium bowl mix together the blackberries and jam.  Spread evenly over the bottom of a 1 litre / 1 3/4pt. baking dish.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Gradually beat in the eggs, then gently fold in the ground almonds and flour.  Spoon mixture over the blackberries and smooth the surface.  Bake for 45 minutes.
  3. Sieve the icing sugar into a small bowl and whisk with just enough lemon juice for a runny yet thick icing.  Top the pudding with the toasted flaked almonds and the, using a teaspoon, drizzle over the icing.


If you are avoiding gluten make this with a gluten-free flour.

It can be frozen ahead.  Bake up to the end of step 2, cool completely, wrap well in clingfilm and freeze.  Defrost thoroughly at room temperature overnight.  It can be  enjoyed at room temperature or, to serve warm, preheat oven to 180C, 160C fan, gas mark 4 and bake on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.  Decorate before serving.

You can use different fruit in this recipe of course, plums are still in season as are damsons (use the appropriate jam), or pears, chopped small with a ginger jam or marmalade would be lovely, although obviously a different colour from the traditional bakewell. I have a lot of blackcurrants in the freezer and intend to use those.  Even apple, stewed first, would work, although it would be a pale colour.