Sunday, 17 July 2016

Beer Can Burgers

These can be cooked on the barbecue or in the oven: the barbecue is best as it gets a nice char on the bottom.


  • 500g minced beef, about 15% fat is best
  • 8 rashers of streaky bacon
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 or 5 medium sized mushrooms, cut in half and sliced
  • 1 beef stock cube
  • 1 red pepper, cut into small strips
  • 100g of finely grated Emmental (or other Swiss-style cheese)


  1. Season the mince with salt and pepper (the salt will help to keep the shape of the cup) and divide into quarters
  2. Take each quarter of the meat and shape around the bottom of a chilled, but unopened, beer can
  3. Wrap two strips of streaky bacon around the sides of the beef while it is still on the can
  4. Carefully slide the beef and bacon off the can and place carefully on a plate
  5. Repeat for the remaining three portions of mince
  6. Place the cups in the fridge and chill for at least an hour
  7. When you're ready to cook the burgers, heat your barbecue to a low setting or put the oven on to 150 degrees
  8. Fry the onion in the sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium heat for a couple of minutes
  9. Add the mushrooms and beef stock cube and fry for a couple more minutes
  10. Add the pepper and stir well, frying for a further couple of minutes
  11. Take the beef cups out of the fridge and distribute the vegetable mix between them
  12. Top each beef cup with the finely grated cheese
  13. Carefully place on the barbecue grill and close the lid (or on a baking tray in the oven)
  14. Cook for about 10 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and the beef and bacon look cooked
  15. Serve on burger buns with a dollop of tomato chutney

Serves 2

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Blue Cheese Crème Brûlée

This is surprisingly simple to make, but looks amazing when served up.
  • 100g stilton or other blue cheese, crumbled
  • 250ml double cream
  • 5 large egg yolks
  • 50g walnuts, finely chopped



  1. Gently grease 4 125ml ramekins (what I'd call normal size) with a tiny bit of butter
  2. Put the cheese and cream into a saucepan and heat on a gentle heat: you don't want it to boil
  3. Once the cheese has melted into the cream, take it off the heat and stir it well
  4. Put the yolks into a bowl and break up
  5. Pour the cream mixture into the bowl and yolks and mix well
  6. Split the egg, cheese and cream mix between the ramekins
  7. Cover the ramekins with cling film and refrigerate for at least 3 hours
  8. Place the chopped walnuts in a dry frying pan and put over a medium-low heat
  9. Toss the walnuts around the pan every couple of minutes until they have changed to a darker brown, then remove from the heat and place in a bowl to cool
  10. When ready to eat, pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees
  11. Place the ramekins in a high sided roasting tin and pour in about half an inch of boiling water before placing in the oven
  12. Cook for 15 minutes in the oven
  13. Top with the toasted walnuts and then serve with freshly cooked bread and a green salad

Makes 4 portions.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Butternut Squash and Potato Curry

This is a simple curry which can be left cooking in the slow cooker while you go to work.


  • 1tsp garam masala
  • one large onion
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tsp garlic
  • 2 tsp chilli (2 chillis)
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon (or two vegetable stock cubes)
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • 5 medium potatoes, peeled
  • 1 squash, cut into chunks
  • chopped tomatoes tin
  • 200ml water


  1. Place all the spices, onion, oil and bouillon powder (everything apart from the water, tomatoes, squash and potatoes) into a blender
  2. Blend into a smooth paste
  3. Fry the paste in a pan for 5 minutes
  4. Place the fried paste into a slow cooker and add the remaining ingredients
  5. Cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 5 hours)
  6. Serve with freshly cooked rice or naan
  7. Optionally you can add a couple of tablespoons (30ml) of double cream and 1 tsp of toasted (in a frying pan, not raw) garam masala, just before serving
  8. Garnish the curry with some freshly crushed coriander leaves and some pan fried paneer cheese cubes once you've served it on a plate

Serves 4 people.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Pork Bao

This filling is a nice mix of sweet and meaty flavours and goes wonderfully with some sweet chilli sauce to dip.


  • One quantity of bao dough
  • 500g cooked pork, finely chopped
  • 3 spring onions, washed and finely sliced
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 2 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp Chinese five space
  • 5 tsp hoisin sauce
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients (other than the dough) together in a large bowl and let it rest at room temperature.
  2. Make the dough.
  3. Form the boa, taking care not to over fill them and don't let the filling dirty the very edge of the pastry when you pinch it together at the top (if it does get dirty then it won't stick as well).
  4. Place on baking parchment and steam to 10 to 12 minutes.

Fills 28 to 30 bao.

Bao Dumpling Dough

This dough is fun to work with and build the little parcels. The slightly sweet dough goes well with savoury or sweet fillings.


  • 7g quick action yeast
  • 350g plain flour (not strong)
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tbsp dried milk powder
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 200ml warm water


  1. Cut 32 squares of greaseproof paper, about a couple of cm on each side.
  2. Place all the ingredients in a bread maker and put onto the pizza dough setting. If you don't have a bread maker then mix all the dry ingredients be fore slowly adding the liquid, then work the dough until it stops being incredibly sticky and finally leave to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes (a bread maker does make things far easier).
  3. Dust a surface with a bit of plain flour and use some to coat your hands.
  4. Divide the dough into 32 balls and lay out on a surface.
  5. Leave to rise for a couple of minutes (but not too long as then they'll dry out).
  6. Use your fingertips to press each ball into a 3 inch wide circle.
  7. Place the circle on a square of paper and then place about a tablespoon of filling in the middle.
  8. Use your fingertips to draw the edges up to the middle and pinch together.
  9. Transfer to a tray and leave to rise for 30 minutes while you make the others.
  10. When ready to eat, steam for 10 to 12 minutes. You don't have to remove the paper before placing in the steamer.

Make 32 bao.

Friday, 15 May 2015

Roasted Butternut Squash and Goats Cheese Pie

If you're making this for a vegetarian meal then make sure to use a vegetarian hard cheese instead of the Parmesan and use instead of lard use a pure vegetable fat (you should be able to find an 80% white block of vegetable fat in most large supermarkets).


  • 1/2 a large butternut squash, peeled and cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 150 fresh spinach
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 125g soft goats cheese
  • Hot water pastry made with 175g flour, 60g lard and 70ml water
  • 25g grated Parmesan cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees
  2. Place the butternut squash into a roasting dish and roast for 45 minutes.
  3. Put the onion in a large saucepan with the olive oil and fry over a medium heat for a few minutes.
  4. Add the spinach to the saucepan, turn the heat down and then cover with a lid.
  5. Leave the spinach to slowly reduce down, stirring every 5 minutes or so. It'll probably take 20 minutes to reduce down to a green mush.
  6. Remove from the heat and start to make the pastry.
  7. While the pastry is resting, mix the onion and spinach with the butternut squash, cumin and goats cheese. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  8. Line a pie dish with the pastry.
  9. Bake the pastry on it's own in the oven for 30 minutes.
  10. Put the filling into the half-baked pastry and return to the oven for another 30 minutes.
  11. Sprinkle the Parmesan cheese over the top of the pie and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.
  12. Optionally, 10 minutes from the end, you can brush the exposed crust with some milk to bring out a better colour in it.
  13. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving.

Makes enough to fill a 23cm low pie/flan dish, serving about 5 people.

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Chicken and Ham Pie

These pies can be made ahead of time and left in the fridge after they've cooled: ideal for a picnic lunch.


  • 125g bacon lardons
  • 250g minced pork
  • 200g chicken breasts, diced
  • 1 tsp all spice
  • a generous pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp of dried sage
  • Hot water pastry made with 400g flour, 140g lard and 155ml water


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees Celsius
  2. Put the water on for the pastry.
  3. Fry the lardons over a medium heat until they just start to brown, stirring every minute or so to ensure even cooking.
  4. Tip the lardons into a mixing bowl and add the minced pork, chicken and spices. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix well.
  6. Line the pie dish(es) with the three quarters of the pastry.
  7. Fill the pastry with the filling and then use the remaining pastry to make a lid.
  8. Puncture holes in the lid after attaching it to the base with a bit of pressure between your fingers.
  9. Bake in the oven for 2 hours.
  10. 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time you can optionally brush some milk onto the top of the pie to give it a good brown colour.
  11. Leave to stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Makes enough filling for two 10cm pie tins or a single 14cm tin, serving about 5 people.