Asparagus Tart

This recipe is a bit of a cheat. It uses 6 ingredients – if you don’t count salt and pepper – is incredibly easy and I think looks quite impressive.   Also, from my point of view, it uses, and showcases, asparagus and when you’ve got a glut of it growing in the garden you need ideas as to how to use it!  Do be warned a big fat bunch of asparagus recipes will be coming your way.  You can scale this up or down quite easily.  Just bake more or less.  I like it in two person sized tarts aesthetically, and so that’s the recipe I’ve given here,  but it’s up to you. Continue reading

Parmesan and Herb Shortbread Nibbles

Every so often it is good to look at a loved recipe with new eyes and adapt it to suit you.   I had been looking at a clump of lovage that was growing happily away in my garden and wondering what I could do with it.   You may feel the same about those chives, parsley, dill, fennel etc you have in your fridge or growing in your garden.  All would work in this recipe.

I decided to try lovage in these light, cheesy, herby, buttery little biscuits that are ever so moor-ish and perfect with a glass of wine or whatever before you eat your meal.   I often serve them with radishes dipped in butter and salt and marinated olives (the list is endless) and don’t bother with a starter, but the truth is I could eat them at anytime and, because you keep the dough rolled and in the fridge ready for slicing and baking, I often do! 
Continue reading

Rhubarb and Almond Galette

This recipe uses a bought in, ready rolled, puff pastry as its base.  On top of that is an almondy frangipane and this is piled with glorious, red rhubarb glistening with apricot jam and guilded with toasted almond flakes.  It tastes wonderful, particularly warm with ice-cream or cream, but it tastes equally as delicious the next day,  straight from the fridge in slices and eaten as you would a danish with a cup of coffee or tea.  It’s not a recipe that is complicated to make, nor does it need lots of difficult ingredients.   If you have rhubarb in your (or a friends garden) it’s a wonderful way to use it as is the Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble with Oats and Hazelnuts or, the real favourites in this household, the Rhubarb Gin and Rhubarb And Redcurrant Jam  We have both of these recipes on the go at the moment – we have one for breakfast and one in the evening.   I will leave you to guess which one is for when!

Chopped Rhubarb

Rhubarb, ready for the galette, chopped into 5cm/2” pieces, then halved.

You can make this vegan by buying the green packeted puff pastry which isn’t made with butter, and making the frangipane with a vegan butter and aquafaba and that works beautifully.  As Chloe isn’t staying with us at the moment I’ve gone all out with the all butter version here but don’t let that put you off if you are non dairy as those two substitutions make it so easy to adapt.
Continue reading

Sourdough

With COVID-19 still imposing restrictions on movement, many people have had the time to try new things.   Sourdough seems to be having a moment with lots of you making (or getting hold of) a starter.  As someone who has been making sourdough for more years than I care to remember,  I have been asked by a few people just how to keep a starter going once past the initial week of growing it.

Despite the rumours, sourdough is not difficult.   When you are used to it it fits around you.   It is a different process from other bread and I think that is why people are a bit confused. Continue reading

Vegan Winter Vegetable Lasagne

Spring either started on the 1st March or won’t begin until the 20th!  It all depends on whether you prefer the astronomical or meteorological way of looking at things.  The whites of the snowdrops are definitely giving way to the cheerful yellows of the daffodils and the paler primroses.   The birds are starting to sing in the mornings and look sleek again rather than looking dishevelled having puffed their feathers out in the bird equivalent of a quilted coat two sizes too big.  The hens are starting to lay again and the first few buds are starting to unfurl on our apricot trees.  Just as I get hopeful that winter is over we get hit my a hard frost and howling winds.

On my veg patch, just as I have begun sowing in earnest ready for the new season, there is very little left to harvest.  A few leeks and carrots, stored onions, some spinach and kale and maybe the odd cauliflower.  More excitingly the bright pink rhubarb is showing underneath the upturned bin,  and the sprouting broccoli, both white and purple,  is having its moment.  I can think of recipes galore for the rhubarb and broccoli but for the leeks, carrots and onions not so many!

Continue reading

Rhubarb and Raspberry Crumble with Oats and Hazelnuts

Another crumble recipe? Really?  Well, yes!    I just couldn’t resist the wonderful combination of the first of the forced pink rhubarb and some of the last of the frozen autumn raspberries.  That and a topping of an oaty and nutty biscuity crumble, well, who could resist?
I am a recent convert to crumble as too often I find the topping a bit too claggy and the fruit underneath sparse.

With a husband who simply loves crumble it took years for me to get the balance right so we could both enjoy what seems like the quintessential classic British pudding.
What’s more this is an adaptable recipe.  It can be vegan by using a butter replacement (I used the vegan flora) and there are such good vegan cream/custard/icecream available that no one need miss out.  If you have someone who has a nut allergy up the flour and oats to replace that 100g of hazelnuts or add some mixed seeds instead.  Gluten free flour can be easily substituted for those with an intolerance or coeliac.  Everyone gets a look in.

Cut rhubarb

Continue reading

Spiced Parsnip Soup

On a raw February day when the wind is like an absolute knife cutting through you with bitter cold, lunch cries out for soup.  Have it in a mug and warm your hands as well or, show it off in a beautiful bowl!  The blue bowl here just set off the golden turmeric colour of this parsnip soup perfectly though its delicious taste would be the same whatever you served it in!  Parsnips somehow manage to be sweet yet earthy and this soup with its spicing makes them (and me!) sing.

This is a simple soup to make and uses a mild curry powder though you could always blend your own if you wanted to experiment.  A good basic blend is to use equal quantities of ground cumin, coriander, turmeric, fenugreek with as much or as little chill powder as you like.   Have fun experimenting by varying the proportions or adding a favourite spice – I promise that the parsnip can take it. Continue reading

Beef, Red Wine and Mushroom Casserole

I don’t know about you but these grey February days which are often wet and blustery to boot, make me want to huddle down.   I long for warming comfort food that makes little demand on my time and is waiting for me, filling the kitchen with delicious smells when I come back in from the cold.  Whether you call this recipe a casserole or a stew I will leave up to you.  My Mum always called it a casserole and I still make it in her old Le Creuset casserole that’s decades old!

But don’t let the intricacies of the name cause you any pause because it can also can be used as the base for so many different dishes when cooked.  To get you started try spooning some of it into a deep pie dish and, when the filling is cold top it with puff pastry or mashed potato and pop it back in the oven for a pie.   If you take the lid off the casserole for the last hour it will reduce slowly and then you can use it as you would a ragu (I like to shred the meat a little at this point) to accompany tagliatelle.  My favourite way is to add large 2cm cubes of celariac and/or potato for the last hour and serve it in a bowl with a hunk of bread on the side. Continue reading

Chunky Moroccan Vegetable Soup

I seem to have developed a bit of a yearning for clean flavours in 2020.  In particular I’ve gone from despising preserved lemons to having a bit of a “moment” with them!  Maybe unusually this soup makes use of them to great effect combining them with tomatoes, cumin, turmeric, chilli and a little cinnamon.  It brings the sunshine of North Africa to what is turning out to be rather a wet and grey January in the UK.

Morrocan Market

The other good news for those who are trying to see off the extra pounds that Christmas invariably means is this soup is actually quite low in calories as well as being a real comfort food.  Add a little less liquid and you could eat it as a stew so it’s quite versatile too.  Make a batch and use extras to have as lunch during the week and bring warmth to January. Continue reading

Roast Squash and Chickpeas with Spicy Apricot Sauce

Surprise – I got new cookery books for Christmas! As usual this means I read through the recipes excitedly and have to cook something straight away.  Being that it’s January I dived into Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstalls book “More Veg” first and decided to cook this vegan dish.  Tbh I might have been a bit influenced by my friend Mags (whose an amazing cook and recommended this) but I am so glad I went with it as it’s delicious.  

The recipe itself is straightforward.   It roasts the squash, adding the chickpeas for a final 10 mins at the end, and serves them with the spicy fruity sauce!    Needless to say I like to adapt things slightly (to suit my taste) so I have cut down on the preserved lemons and upped the apricots in the sauce.  Although I used butternut squash this time I can see it would work swapping the squash out for aubergines, pumpkin, courgettes or even fennel (adjusting cooking times if needs be) and of course you can use any other canned bean you fancied or had in the cupboard.

If you want to get ahead roast the squash and make the sauce up to the end of stage 7.   This will then keep for a couple of days.   Do remember if you do choose the get ahead option to add a little extra heating time in the following stages

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: