Recipes for June 2022

GREEN LENTILS, ASPARAGUS AND WATERCRESS

200g. green lentils
120g. watercress, thick stalks removed
40g. parsley
150mls. light olive oil
400g. asparagus spears
100g. pecorino cheese
4 lemon wedges,
salt and black pepper

Wash the lentils in cold water, then place in a saucepan with plenty of fresh water and bring to the boil.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until the lentils are just cooked.

While the lentils are cooking, put half of the watercress, the parsley, olive oil, vinegar, garlic and some salt into a food processor.  Blitz until smooth and pour into a bowl.

As soon as the lentils are cooked drain them well and mix them while still hot with the watercress dressing.  Taste and adjust the seasoning.

Break off the end of the asparagus spears and discard.  Cook the asparagus in simmering salted water for 2 – 3 minutes, drain and cut the spears into roughly 6cm. long segments.

You can serve the salad warm or at room temperature.  Toss together the lentils, asparagus and most of the remaining watercress.  Add pieces of cheese as you plate up and garnish with the reserved watercress.  Serve with wedges of lemon.

NOTES

I think this salad would be lovely served with a piece of roast chicken or salmon with a salsa verde sauce for the chicken or salmon.  To make a salsa verde sauce you need 1 large bunch of mixed herbs (parsley, basil and mint say), 1 clove of garlic, 2 tbsps. of capers, 3 gherkins, 2 – 3 anchovy fillets, 1 heaped tbsp. of french mustard, 4 tbsps. olive oil, 1 – 2 tbsps. red wine vinegar and salt and pepper.  Chop all the herbs, capers, gherkins and mix with the rest of the ingredients.

Alternatively, you could add a cooked breast of chicken or salmon to the salad, omit the cheese, and make it a more substantial dish.

STRAWBERRY LABNEH

500g. thick (not low fat) Greek yogurt
400g. strawberries
1 ½  tsp. caster sugar
2 tsps.rosewater
3 tbsps. good honey

Mix yogurt and 50g. of icing sugar and set over a basin lined with muslin or a clean J-cloth.  Put in the fridge and leave to drain overnight (12 hours is best).

Hull and quarter the strawberries and mix with the sugar and rosewater and leave to macerate for a few hours.

Gently fold the honey into the labneh which, by now, will resemble cream cheese.  Puree a quarter of the strawberries, pile the rest on top of the labneh and drizzle with the pureed strawberries.

NOTES

This can be served with poached fruits such as plums or rhubarb, or raspberries rather than strawberries.

To make savoury labneh mix 500g. of thick Greek yogurt with 1/2 tsp. of salt and leave to drain overnight as before.

Make the labneh into balls by rolling between your hands to shape them and then leaving on a clean cloth lined tray.  They can be marinated in olive oil (4 tbsps. for this quantity), some dried oregano or fresh thyme leaves (about 1 tbsp.), the zest of a lemon and a few chilli flakes.  Store in the fridge and serve with flatbreads as a starter or nibble. 

Recipes for May 2022

Quick Rhubarb Chutney with Cardamom

Makes 2 x 500g. jars

200mls. cider vinegar
400g. soft light brown sugar
100g. raisins
2 red onions, chopped
2cm. piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
seeds from 20 cardamom pods
4 – 5 star anise
grated zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp. salt
1kg. rhubarb, cut into 3cm. lengths

Put all the ingredients except the rhubarb into a large, heavy based pan, bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes.  Add the rhubarb and bring back to the boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Cool slightly and spoon into dry, warm, sterilised jars, (you can sterilise them in a very hot dishwasher, or boil them in a pan of water for 10 minutes.  Cover with a wax disc, then seal and label with the date.  This chutney can be eaten straight away.  Once opened it is best stored in the fridge, and will keep for up to a month.

TIPS

You can use this chutney in the usual way with bread and cheese, or alongside cottage pie, but it is also good heated through and served with roast pork, duck or grilled mackerel. 

I sterilise my jars in the oven, at a low temperature, for about 15 minutes.

Fillet of Salmon with Sweet-Sour Beetroot and Dill Crème Fraiche – Serves 6

For the dill crème fraiche:

200g. / 7ozs. crème fraiche
2 tbsps. grain mustard
1 ½ tbsps. chopped dill

For the beetroot:

500g. / 1lb. cooked beetroot
50g. / 2ozs. unsalted butter
½ tbsp. oil
2 red onions, finely sliced
2 tbsps. caster sugar
1 ½ tbsps. red wine vinegar
salt and pepper

For the salmon:

30g. / 1¼ozs. unsalted butter
1 tbsp. oil
6 x 175g. (6oz.) salmon fillets
good squeeze of lemon juice

 

To make the dill crème fraiche simply mix the crème fraiche, mustard and dill together and refrigerate until you need it.

Cut the beetroot into small pieces.  Season and taste for sweet/sour balance, you may want more sugar or vinegar.  Set aside and reheat before serving.  Heat the butter and oil in a frying pan and cook the onions until soft.  Add the beetroot and increase the heat.  Cook for 2 minutes, then add the sugar and stir until beginning to caramelize.  Add the vinegar and let it bubble.

Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan.  Season the salmon on both sides and cook over a medium heat, flesh side down, for 1½ – 2 minutes or until golden.  Turn over and cook for 1½ – 2 minutes.  Reduce the heat and cook until done but still moist.  Squeeze on some lemon juice.  Serve with the beetroot and dill crème fraiche.

TIPS

We had this dish for lunch and I used vacuum packed beetroot which worked well.  Just pat it dry before cooking.  I also used dried dill, about 1 tsp., as fresh dill is often hard to come by.

I served it with new potatoes.

April 2022 Recipes

EASY LEMON TART – Serves 6

Pastry:

125g. plain flour
100g. melted butter
3 tbsps. icing sugar, sieved

Lemon Filling:

150mls. whipping or double cream, not single
50g. caster sugar
2 large eggs
2 large lemons, juiced and the rind of 1

  1. Mix the flour and sieved icing sugar in a bowl.  Melt the butter and press the dough into the base and sides of a 7 inch / 18cm. diameter pie tin (I used a sponge tin with a loose base).  Bake blind for 20 minutes at 190 degrees.  Cool.  Reduce oven temperature to 150.
  2. Whisk all the filling ingredients together and pour into the pastry lined tin.  Bake for another 35 – 40 minutes until set.  Allow to cool before slicing.  This would be lovely served with some raspberries / blueberries and some coulis.  It does not require more cream in my opinion.

TIPS

Baking blind stops you getting a soggy bottom.  I have special baking (ceramic beans) but you can use rice or any dried beans.  Just line the tin with baking parchment so that the base is weighed down.

I didn’t refrigerate my tart and it lasted for 3 days.  Keeping it out of the fridge stopped the pastry going soggy.  It was beautifully crisp the first day, not quite so crisp the following day but still very good.

Pour the filling into the tin whilst it is in the oven and on a baking tray then you won’t have to carry it across the kitchen – use a jug for the purpose.

SLOW COOKED SHOULDER OF LAMB WITH ROSEMARY AND ONION SAUCE – Serves 4 – 6

 

6 garlic cloves
5 sprigs of fresh rosemary
10 bay leaves
2 – 2.2kg. shoulder of lamb
salt & pepper
250mls. red wine

For the rosemary and onion sauce

50g. butter
1 onion (about 200g. finely sliced)
2 tbsps. plain flour
500mls. milk
2 tbsps. cream or creme fraiche
1 tbsp. finely chopped rosemary

Preheat the oven to 160/ gas mark 2-3.  Place the unpeeled garlic in the bottom of a large roasting tin with the rosemary and bay leaves.  Sit the lamb on top and sprinkle with a little salt and pepper.  Roast in the oven for 2 hours, then pour in the wine and roast for a further hour.

To make the sauce, melt the butter over a low heat, add the onion and saute until soft.  Stir in the flour and then add the milk gradually, stirring all the time.  Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes, add the cream and rosemary and cook for another 5 minutes, again stirring all the time.  The sauce should not be too thick so add the little more milk if necessary.  Season with salt and pepper.

Take the lamb out of the oven and transfer to a warm plate.  Cover in foil whilst you make the gravy.  Discard the rosemary, bay leaves and garlic and spoon off all the fat.  Put the tin over a medium heat and add a little water (or vegetable water) and bring to the boil, stirring to make a gravy.  Arrange the lamb meat in chunks on a serving plate, pour over the gravy and serve with the rosemary and onion sauce.

March 2022 Recipes

FAST CHEESY HERB MUFFINS – Makes 12

Good with soup, salads or for eating on the go!

275g. / 10ozs. self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
50g. / 2ozs. butter, melted
1 large egg, beaten
250mls. / 9fl. ozs. milk
75g. / 3ozs. cheddar, grated
leaves of 1 bunch of basil, chopped
75g. / 3ozs. pitted black olives, chopped
2 tbsps. sun-dried tomato paste

  1. You will need a 12 hole muffin tin and 12 muffin cases.  Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas mark 6.
  2. Measure the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.  Mix the butter, egg and milk together in a jug.
  3. Add the cheese, basil and olives to the bowl of dry ingredients and mix well.  Pour in the wet ingredients and gently stir everything together using a fork.  Mix in the sun-dried tomato paste right at the end to give a rippled effect through the batter.
  4. Divide the mixture between the cases and bake in the oven for 18 – 20 minutes until well risen and lightly golden brown.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.  Serve warm or cold.

TIPS

These are best made and eaten on the day but will keep for 2 days in the fridge in an airtight container.  They freeze well for up to a month.  Defrost and warm through at a low heat in the oven to refresh.

If you can’t find muffin cases you could use cupcake cases, they are larger than fairy cake cases but not quite as deep as muffin cases, so the mixture may stretch to a few extra muffins.  Gently swirl in the sun-dried tomato paste, without stirring it in completely, as this gives a lovely hit of tomato when you eat the muffin.

CHICKEN AND LEEK SUET CRUST PIE – Serves 6

2 tbsps. oil
4 slim, small leeks or 2 fat ones, trimmed and sliced
3 carrots, peeled and cut fairly small
4 skinless and boneless chicken breasts (about 450g. in weight)
1 onion, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
2 tbsps. plain flour
150mls. (5fl. ozs.) Marsala or sherry
200g. / 7ozs. full-fat creme fraiche
2 tbsps. chopped parsley

For the pastry:

150g. / 6ozs. self raising flour
75g. / 3ozs. suet
1/4 tsp. salt
1 egg, beaten

  1. You will need a 26cm. / 10 1/2 inch pie dish that can hold about 1.2 litres (2 pints).  Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/ gas mark 7.
  2. Heat half the oil in a large frying pan.  Add the leeks, carrots and onion and fry until soft.  Add the garlic and cook for a further minute.  Remove from the pan and set aside.
  3. Heat the remaining oil, season the chicken and fry over a high heat until browned.  Remove from the heat and set aside.
  4. Whisk the flour and Marsala / sherry in a bowl until smooth then tip into the pan.  Add the crème fraiche and stir until thickened and combined.  Add back in the leeks, chicken etc.  Add the parsley, season, spoon into the pie dish and allow to cool.  You could do this step the day before.
  5. To make the pastry, measure the flour, suet and salt into a large bowl and pour in enough water (about 100mls. / 3fl. ozs.) to make a soft dough.  Add the water gradually, do not tip it all in at once, and stir with a knife as you go.  Bring together with your hands and lightly knead.  Roll out on a floured surface to about 1cm. / 1/2 inch thick and large enough to cover the top of the pie dish.
  6. Brush the edge of the dish with a little of the beaten egg, then carefully lay the pastry over the filling.  Trim the edges and press to seal.  Brush with more beaten egg and make a small hole in the middle of the pastry to allow steam to escape.  Place on a baking sheet and cook for about 25 – 30 minutes until lightly golden.
  7. Serve with boiled or mashed potatoes and a green vegetable.

TIPS

I had a pie dish of exactly the right dimension, but I also have 2 that are deep and oval, so if you can get the filling in, a dish of that type would be fine.  You wouldn’t need as much pastry for covering the top with a dish of that shape.

If you have a pie funnel (I have 2) I suggest you use one as it keeps the lid from getting soggy on the bottom by holding it up.  You can still buy pie funnels in a good kitchen shop (I have seen them in the one in Ledbury).

The pie can be totally assembled up to 6 hours ahead and baked to serve.  The pre-baked pie freezes well.  Bake straight from frozen for 40 – 45 minutes.

Recipes for February 2022

CAULIFLOWER AND WALNUT CREAM

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower
1 medium onion, roughly chopped
450mls. / 3/4 pint chicken or vegetable stock
450mls. / 3/4 pint milk
45ms. / 3 tbsps. walnut pieces
salt and pepper
paprika and chopped walnuts to garnish

1. Trim the cauliflower of outer leaves and break into small florets. Place the cauliflower, onion and stock in a large saucepan.

2. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. Add the milk and walnut pieces, then puree in a blender or food processor until smooth.

3. Season the soup to taste with salt and pepper, then reheat. Serve sprinkled with a dusting of paprika and chopped walnuts.

MARMALADE QUEEN OF PUDDINGS

Serves 4 – 6

10g. butter, plus extra for greasing
565mls. full fat milk
100g. breadcrumbs
zest of 1 lemon
50g. caster sugar
3 medium eggs
2 generous tbsps. thick cut marmalade

1.Heat the oven to 150 C/ gas mark 2. Butter a medium baking dish. Heat the milk until it just reaches the boil. Remove from the heat and add the butter, breadcrumbs, lemon zest and 25g. of the sugar. Thoroughly mix so that the butter really melts.

2. Set this aside for 15 minutes to swell and melge. When it is a little cooler separate the eggs and add the yolks to the custard. Use a small hand whisk to amalgamate. Pour this mixture into the buttered dish and place in the oven for about 30 – 35 minutes until just set.

3. Meanwhile melt the marmalade in a saucepan and spoon over the baked custard base.

4, Beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Whisk in the remaining sugar and spoon this on top of the pudding. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until the soft meringue is beginning to turn golden. Wait for about 15 minutes before eating.

TIPS

1. You will always get a smoother soup with a blender than with a food processor.

2. You can make Queen of Puddings with a jam rather than marmalade. I have used this recipe as it is the marmalade making season. I used brioche bread to make my breadcrumbs and cut it into slices the night before, spreading it on a rack so that it was stale by the time I used it. Do not use ready made breadcrumbs.

3. We ate the leftovers cold and still liked it. If you try heating meringue in a microwave it will disintegrate. I used to volunteer in a Lunch Club for older people and would watch them asking for lemon meringue pie to be heated in the microwave, The meringue would virtually disappear.

January 2022 Recipes

CHICKEN AND BACON PUCHERO – Serves 4

1 tbsp. oil plus a little extra
1 yellow pepper, deseeded and cut into bite size chunks
2 carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
200g. baby potatoes, halved or quartered
2 onions, chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
700g. skinless and boneless chicken thigs cut into bite size pieces
200g. back bacon rashers, visible fat removed and sliced
900mls. boiling chicken stock
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. mild or medium curry powder
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
4 tomatoes, deseeded and roughly chopped
400g. can chickpeas, drained
200g. green cabbage leaves, roughly chopped

  1. In a lidded non stick pan heat 1 tbsp. oil.  Add the pepper, carrots and potatoes and fry for 6 – 8 minutes, until lightly browned.  Transfer to a plate.
  1. Add a little more oil and the onions, chilli and garlic and stir fry for 6 – 8 minutes until softened.  Add the chicken and bacon, season to taste and stir fry for 10 – 15 minutes.
  1. Pour in the stock and add the bay leaves, curry powder and vinegar.  Bring to a simmer and let it cook for 12 – 15 minutes, then add the tomatoes, cover and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  1. Stir in the pepper, carrots and potatoes, chickpeas and cabbage.  Cover and cook for 10 – 12 minutes or until the cabbage has wilted and the other vegetables are tender.  Serve hot in bowls with rice if you prefer.

TIPS

This is a Spanish slow-cooked stew (the name means stewpot) and it can be found with different ingredients and spices throughout the Spanish speaking world.  This is a version from the Philippines and the curry replaces smoked paprika.

There is quite a lot of liquid with this dish. When I made it I did not bother with rice as I didn’t think it needed it. 

SPICED BEETROOT AND CARROT CURRY – Serves 4

1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. black mustard seeds
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2 green chillies, deseeded and chopped
1 tsp. curry powder
2 tsps. cumin seeds
1 cinnamon stick
400g. beetroot, peeled and cut into batons
2 potatoes, peeled and cut into batons
2 carrots, peeled and cut into batons
2 tomatoes, roughly chopped
600mls. boiling vegetable stock
100mls. reduced fat coconut milk
juice of 1 lime
chopped fresh coriander to serve

  1. In a wide non stick frying pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds and as soon as they begin to pop, add the onion, garlic and chillies and stir fry for 3 – 4 minutes or until the onion has started to soften.
  2. Add the curry powder, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, beetroot, potatoes and carrots and stir fry for 2 – 3 minutes.  Add the tomatoes and stock and season to taste.  Turn the heat to low and simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in the coconut milk and let the curry bubble nicely for another 5 – 6 minutes or until the sauce has thickened slightly.  Remove from the heat, stir in the lime juice and check the seasoning.  Scatter over the coriander and serve hot with rice.

TIPS

  1. This dish too has quite a bit of liquid.  You could try reducing the amount of stock used in both recipes by at least 100 mls.
  2. Do wear thin rubber gloves when chopping the chillies and beetroot, or make sure you do not touch your eyes, or any part of your face after touching the chillies.
  3. Both these recipes come from a Slimming World book so are good if you have over indulged at Christmas.  You could always use full fat coconut milk if you are not worried about calories.  Give the tin a good shake before using.  Handley Organics do a very good range of spices upstairs.
  4. Any leftover coconut milk can be used when making a rice pudding or cooking rice.

Happy New Year,

December Recipes

STOLLEN TRAYBAKE

stollen traybakeMakes 24 squares

175g. golden marzipan
125g. mixed dried fruit
275g. self raising flour
225g. soft unsalted butter
125g. caster sugar
100g. light brown sugar
zest of 1 orange, plus 1 tbsp. juice
75g. ground almonds
2 tsps. baking powder
seeds from 8 cardamom pods, ground
1 1/2 tsps. gd. mixed spice
1/2 tsp. gd. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
5 large eggs
30g. flaked almonds
icing sugar to dust

  1. Chop the marzipan into small dice then spread out on a plate and put in the freezer to chill – this stops it melting in the oven when baked.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 4.  Grease a 20 x 30cm. traybake tin and line with baking parchment.
  3. Toss the mixed fruit in 1 tbsp. of the flour and set it aside.  This helps to prevent the fruit sinking through the cake batter.
  4. Place the remaining ingredients, except for the flakes and icing sugar, in a large bowl.  Beat for 2 – 3 minutes until combined.
  5. Add the cold diced marzipan to the bowl of mixed dried fruit and toss to combine before folding it all into the cake mixture.  Spoon into the prepared tin, level it out and scatter with the flaked almonds.  
  6. Bake for 35 – 40 minutes until golden brown and springy to the touch.  Leave to cool completely in the tin.  Carefully remove, dust with icing sugar and cut into squares.  

CHEESE AND PARSNIP ROULADE

For the roulade:

40g. butter
25g. plain flour
275mls. cold milk
110g. Sage Derby cheese, grated or alternative cheese
49g. hazelnuts, chopped and toasted
1 tbsp. Parmesan cheese, grated
3 large eggs, separated
salt and pepper

For the stuffing:

225g. onions, chopped
40g. butter
3 level tsps. dried sage
1 tbsps. chopped fresh parsley
75g. white breadcrumbs
salt and pepper

For the filling:

350g. parsnips (prepared weight)
25g. butter
2 tbsps. double cream
freshly grated nutmeg
salt and pepper

You will need a Swiss roll tin 32 x 23 cm. lined with baking parchment

 

  1. First make the stuffing by melting the butter in a pan, adding the onions and cooking them for about 6 minutes or until transparent.  Add the herbs, breadcrumbs and seasoning, stir well to combine then sprinkle evenly over the silicone lined tin.
  2. Now for the roulade, place the butter, flour and milk in a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until thickened.  Season well and leave to cook over the gentlest possible heat for 3 minutes.  Draw the pan off the heat to cool slightly, add the egg yolks, whisking them really well in.  Add the grated Sage Derby, or alternative, and check seasoning.
  3. In a large bowl and with a spanking clean whisk beat the egg whites until they form soft peaks.  Gently fold one spoonful into the mixture to loosen it then spoon a little at a time into cheese mixture.  Now spread the whole lot evenly over the stuffing mixture in the tin and bake on the top shelf for 20 – 25 minutes until it feels springy and firm in the centre.
  4. Meanwhile cook the parsnips in a steamer for 10 – 15 minutes until they are soft, then cream them together with the butter, double cream and seasoning.  A food processor is easiest for this.  Keep them warm.  Lay a sheet of baking parchment (slightly larger than the roulade) on a work surface and sprinkle the hazelnuts all over.
  5. Turn out the roulade on to the hazelnuts and carefully peel off the base paper.  Spread the creamed parsnip evenly over the sage and onion stuffing.  Roll up the roulade along the longest side, using the baking parchment to help you pull it into a round.  Transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle with a dusting of grated Parmesan.

TIPS

With the traybake you can chop and freeze the marzipan the night before to save time if necessary.

The roulade recipe is an old one of Delia Smith’s, hence the Sage Derby.  You can still sometimes buy this but it is not easy to get hold of.  You could try the cheese man in the Saturday market.  I think Cheddar would be a quite acceptable alternative but you could always seek advice from someone who knows about cheese.

The first time you make a roulade is quite daunting but it usually works well, give it a go!!