Rhubarb and Ginger Queen of Puddings

It’s hard to think of a better pudding to have for Sunday Lunch.  Unashamedly old fashioned, Queen of Puddings here is given a seasonal twist by using fresh rhubarb and syrupy stem ginger instead of jam   There is something intensively satisfying about soft, creamy custard thickened with crumbs topped with rhubarb and ginger and finished off with toasty meringue  It has some of the best elements of favourite puddings – creme brûlée, iles flotantes, lemon meringue pie and rhubarb and custard  it’s a real winner

There seems to be various stories around how this pudding got its name. Perhaps it was because Queen Victoria remarked on it on a trip to Manchester (it was previously called Manchester pudding apparently). Maybe it’s because the meringue looked like a crown when piped on top. Nobody seems to know for sure so you can choose! Continue reading

Aubergine and Feta Involtini

Griddled aubergine wraps itself around salty feta spiked with mint, baked with tomatoes and topped with melted mozzarella  Yum!

Involtini just means little bundle in Italian; it can be used to describe meat wrapped variations too.  This vegetarian version is a simple dish to make but one I cook time and time again  I find that even people who have issues with the texture of aubergines like them cooked this way as the tomato and mint cut through it.   I particularly love the bursts of sweetness from the raisins and the creaminess of the pinenuts in the filling that are reminders to me of holidays in Sicily and Venice   Involtini makes a great comfort food dish for Meat Free Mondays  I also like the fact you can make it family sized by cooking it in a large dish or make it in individual dishes  – whichever suits Continue reading

Iced Stem Ginger Cake

I love ginger and this is one of my absolute favourite cakes alongside Grasmere Gingerbread (which is more of a cross between a cake and a biscuit) and Catherine’s Sticky Ginger Cake (which is dark and delicious).  This cake is wonderful in the run up to spring with its tangy lemon icing topping a soft spiced sponge studded with amber jewels of exotic stem ginger.  A piece of this cake – especially with a cup of tea – is guaranteed to make life seem better and fill you with thoughts of bright spring days to come.  I always think of a jug filled with daffodils and an old fashioned teapot sitting beside a plate of these on the kitchen table!

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Blood Orange Curd and Icecream

January/February is the time of year for blood oranges – so called because of the colour of their flesh.  The intensity of the colour when you cut into them varies greatly as you can see from the photo.  But no matter what the colour turns out to be blood oranges have a wonderfully concentrated vibrant flavour and are a joy to use in many different dishes

This particular recipe uses blood oranges as a seasonal variation to lemon curd.  It’s such a shame that fruit curds seem to have gone out of fashion – bring them back I say!  Curds are an easy thing to make and ideal for getting the kids involved  They taste great slathered on toast or used as a filling for a sponge cake or a topping for a cheesecake.  If you want to make lemon curd or passion fruit curd go to end of post to see the list of ingredients for these curds and follow the same method as below Continue reading

Oxtail Stew with Pappardelle and Parmesan

Oxtail Stew is lip-smackingly tasty. Rich, unctuous gravy and meat that has fallen off the bones.  It’s a dish that’s ideal to put together and leave simmering in a low oven or slow cooker in tomatoes and wine in the morning and come home to hours later.  The oven having done all the work needed to transform it.  This isn’t a fancy dish – it’s proper peasant food.

I love to serve the oxtail  tossed through thick ribbons of pappardelle (you could substitute tagliatelle if you prefer) and grate Parmesan over the top but it’s just as delicious with creamy mashed potato and spring greens.  Leftovers can be transformed into oxtail soup the next day with the addition of some more water to thin it to the right consistency.

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Minestrone Soup

On a cold, dull winters day this soup brings a welcome vibrant warmth. I seem to be in need of that at the moment as this follows on from my Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne.  I am obviously longing for blue skies and warm sunshine in my subconscious!    It reminds me of summer yet it’s base is the Italian combination of carrots, celery and onion known as sofrito that is available all year round. Add some red or yellow pepper, some frozen sweetcorn or peas and a jar of passata instead of fresh tomatoes, and you are immediately under summer skies again and you’ve banished any winter blues with yellows, reds and bright verdant green.


Vibrant Minestrone Soup

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Roasted Mediterranean Vegetable Lasagne

Italians will tell you that the best bit of a lasagne is the crispy edges. The bits of the pasta sheets you let overhang the sides and that go all brown and crunchy as the lasagne cooks.  Italian families fight about who gets them! For years I’d been dutifully tucking them all in – as I suspect most of us non-Italians do – until, by chance, I had lunch with some Italians.  I was converted, they were amazed that I didn’t know about it, and now I am sharing it with you.


Lasagne with pasta sheets overhanging sides prior to going in oven.


Crispy edges after baking

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