Wednesday, 31 December 2008

Blue Cheese and Smash Crockettes with Tomato Sauce


  • 1 tin of tomatoes

  • 1 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 tbsp balsamic vingear

  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed or finely chopped

  • 1 chili (optional), chopped

  • 1 220g packet of Smash or other instant mashed potato

  • Boiling water

  • 300g block of blue cheese such as Stilton or Danish Blue

  • A little oil or butter for frying


  1. Place the tomatoes, olive oil, the optional chili, vinegar and garlic in a pan and bring to the boil and simmer for about 30 minutes.

  2. While the tomato mix is cooking make up the smash/instant mashed potato using three quarter of the water specified on the packet (this is to make it thicker and drier than usual)

  3. Slice the blue cheese up into blocks about 1 to 2 cm square.

  4. Using your hands make balls of smash with the blue cheese blocks in the center. About 8 to 10 balls is what you should aim for.

  5. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and then gently fry the potato balls in a little oil. Turn them every couple of minutes to ensure that they are not sticking. After about 10 minutes they should be a nice golden brown colour.

  6. Blend the tomato mix (or mash it with a fork) to make a tomato sauce.

Serves 3 to 4. Nice Served with a green salad.

Friday, 26 December 2008

Roast Vegetables and Brie Burgers

A quick and simple way of making 'healthy' vegetable burgers.


  • 3 aubergines, thickly sliced

  • 6 carrots, sliced vertically and head and tail removed

  • 3 red peppers, sliced

  • salt and pepper to taste

  • 3 tbsp olive oil

  • 1 wedge of brie, sliced

  • 8 burger buns


  1. Pre-heat oven to 220 degrees.

  2. Place sliced vegetables into a roasting tin and toss in the olive oil, salt and pepper, ensuring the vegetables get evenly coated.

  3. Place in oven for 30 minutes, turning vegetables after 15 minutes.

  4. Toast the sides of the burger buns in a toaster or under the grill.

  5. Serve direct to the table, letting people build their own burgers.

Serves 4.

Wednesday, 24 December 2008

Spaghetti al Aglio

This is a nice and simple pasta dish which tastes delightful.


  • 4 large bulbs of garlic

  • 50g pine nuts

  • some olive oil to drizzle

  • 400g spaghetti

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil

  • 2 tsp. lemon juice

  • 2 chillies, finely chopped

  • salt and black pepper to taste


  1. Chop the tops off of the bulbs of garlic but keep them mostly in-tact.

  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.

  3. Place the garlic in an oven proof dish and drizzle olive oil over the top of the garlic and then place in the oven for 30 minutes.

  4. Remove the garlic from the oven and leave to cool.

  5. Cook spaghetti as per instructions on the packet, retaining some of the cooking water.

  6. While the spaghetti is cooking mix squeeze the roasted garlic out of the bulbs into a blender and add the olive oil, lemon juice and blend.

  7. Place the pine nuts in a frying pan and fry on a low heat, turning and stirring frequently, until all the nuts are gently toasted.

  8. Mix the chopped chillies and pine nuts into the blended garlic and add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the water the pasta was cooked in.

  9. Stir the garlic mixture into the pasta and serve immediately.

Serves 4.

This is nice to serve with lightly cooked cherry tomatoes. To do this place cherry tomatoes in a frying pan and gently heat for 5 minutes, rolling the tomatoes around every minute to make sure they get heated evenly on all sides.

Sunday, 21 December 2008

Depressed Pirate

A simple shooter for a Sunday night.



  1. Put the Curaçao into the bottom of a large shot glass

  2. Carefully pour in the lemon juice over the back of a spoon

  3. Carefully pour in the rum over the back of a clean spoon

  4. Enjoy

Friday, 19 December 2008

Cool Parsley and Cucumber Soup

This recipe can also be made with coriander instead of the parsley. It's amazingly good, especially for something which doesn't have any actual cooking involved.


  • 1 very large cucumber, cubed

  • A large bunch of flat-leaved parsley, coarsely chopped leaves, discard the stalks

  • 500ml vegetable stock (or water and 2 stock cubes)

  • 250ml milk

  • Juice of 3 lemons (about 150ml)

  • Salt


  1. Mix everything together in a blender

  2. Add salt to taste

  3. Leave to chill in the fridge overnight

Serves 4 for a starter or two for a main course.

Wednesday, 17 December 2008

Brie, Red Onion and Tomato Pie

This recipe is a quick pie that's really easy to make. It doesn't take more than an hour from starting cooking to eating pie, and half of that time is with the pie cooking in the oven.


  • 3 red onions, finely chopped

  • 30g butter

  • 1 ready rolled sheet of pastry

  • 300g cherry tomatoes, whole

  • 2 tablespoons flour

  • 1 tablespoon basil

  • 250g (one triangular piece) brie, chopped in to half inch cubes


  1. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees

  2. Use some of the butter to grease a ovenproof pie dish

  3. Put the remaining butter into a pan and melt it

  4. Add the red onions and fry with the lid on the pan for 3 minutes or until soft

  5. Add the flour, cherry tomatoes and basil to the pan, turn the heat down and stir every couple of minutes

  6. Put half the pre-rolled pastry into the pie dish and carefully manipulate it so that if covers the bottom and sides of the dish

  7. Place in oven for 8 minutes to partially cook the pastry

  8. Remove pie dish from oven and mix the brie into the tomato and onion mixture

  9. Put the brie and tomato mixture into the pie dish and cover the top with the remaining pastry

  10. Cut off any pastry hanging over the edge and use to decorate the top of the pie (I did tomatoes, onions and a slice of cheese shapes... yes that is what the pie in the photo is supposed to have on the top of it)

  11. Bake pie in oven for 30 minutes or until the top is golden brown

Serves 3 to 4. More if served with potatoes.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Mum's Brains (Halloumi and Tomato Pasta Bake)

This recipe was made up by my mother many years ago. We could never think of a good name for it so after a while when asked what was going to be for dinner she'd reply 'brains'.


  • 450g Pasta, fusilli works well

  • 2 blocks of halloumi cheese

  • 1 onion, pealed and chopped

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 courgette, sliced with both ends removed

  • 250g mushrooms, sliced

  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced

  • 2 tins of tomatoes

  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

  • 2 vegetable stock cubes

  • 1 tablespoon of thyme

  • 50g cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Put on a large pot of water to boil and add some salt and some oil if desired

  2. Place onion and olive oil in a pan and 'sweat' by heating on a medium heat with the lid on for 5 minutes

  3. Add the mushrooms and courgette to the onion and again cover with the lid for 5 minutes, stir and then cook for another couple of minutes

  4. While this is happening break the halloumi up with your fingers into small chunks, about an inch square or less

  5. Heat a frying pan on a moderate heat and add about half the halloumi chunks

  6. While the halloumi heats, add the tomatoes, garlic, vinegar, stock and thyme to the onion and mushroom mix and cover with a lid after stiring

  7. Turn the halloumi around in the pan every few minutes until it is golden brown on one or two of the sides of each piece

  8. Empty the halloumi into a large overproof dish and repeat the same process on the remaining halloumi, if you don't have a large ovenproof dish then two smaller ones works just as well

  9. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees

  10. Stir the tomato and mushroom mixture

  11. The water for the pasta should hopefully be boiling, so add the pasta and start a timer for the time specified on the packet

  12. Check that the halloumi hasn't burnt and transfer it to the overproof dish when it seems done

  13. Stir the tomato and mushroom mixture

  14. When the pasta is done, drain it and mix it with the tomato and mushroom sauce in the overproof dish with the halloumi and stir well

  15. Top with the grated cheese and place in the oven for 10 minutes or until the top is melted and nicely browned off.

Serves 4 hungry people.

Wednesday, 10 December 2008

Beetroot and Chilli Chutney

This is an unusual jam which works well on it's own with bread, in a cheese sandwich or as a dipping sauce for other meals.


  • 4 beetroots, peeled and chopped into thin strips

  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and chopped into 1/4 inch chunks

  • 4 tablespoons vinegar

  • 4 tablespoons sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 chili finely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon corn flour


  1. Mix all the ingredients together in a pan.

  2. Simmer for 2 hours stirring frequently or use 'Jam' setting on your bread maker. If the bread maker 'Jam' program doesn't last for 2 hours, repeat it once it has run once.

  3. Heat the jam jars in an oven at 120 degrees for 5 minutes to steralise them.

  4. Use oven gloves to remove jam jars from oven and fill with the marmalade.

  5. Leave to cool with the lids just resting on the top. When cool, tighten the lids and you're done.

Makes 500g (just over a jam jar)

Friday, 5 December 2008

Penne Cheese with Tomato Ketchup

This is really a variant on macaroni and cheese or 'mac + cheese', but I never have macaroni pasta in, so I always end up using different pasta types.


Penne Cheese

  • 400g penne pasta

  • 1 large pot of boiling water

  • 2 teaspoons mustard powder(optional)

  • 25g cheddar cheese, finely grated

  • 40g breadcrumbs

  • 1.5 pints milk

  • 3 tablespoons plain flour

  • 25g butter

  • 200g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated

Tomato Ketchup

  • 2 tins chopped tomatoes

  • 1 tablespoon mustard or mustard powder

  • 2 tablespoons vinegar

  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon corn flour


Penne Cheese

  1. Put the pasta in the pan of boiling water and start timing it for the length of time written on the packet

  2. Mix the 25g of cheese with one teaspoon of mustard and the breadcrumbs; this will be the topping for the penne cheese

  3. Mix the milk, flour, remaining teaspoon of mustard and butter in a pan

  4. Heat the milk and flour mixture on a moderate heat, stirring every minute

  5. After 7 or 8 minutes the milk and flour mixture should have started to thicken, if it hasn't then wait until it has

  6. Once the mixture has thickened turn the heat right down to the lowest setting under the pan

  7. When the pasta is ready, before draining the pasta place the remaining cheese into the thick flour and milk sauce

  8. Drain the pasta and mix in with the cheese (flour and milk) sauce

  9. Sprinkle the breadcrumb mixture over the top of the pasta and sauce

  10. Place under a high grill for 5 minutes or until the top has started to brown off

Tomato Ketchup

  1. Place all the ingredients in a pan and mix well

  2. Either use the 'jam' setting on a bread maker or simmer gently for an hour, stirring every 5 minutes

  3. Leave to cool for at least 30 minutes, preferably in the fridge

Serves 4.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008


This is a recipe for a simple cheese and tomato pizza. Feel free to add other toppings with the cheese. For a more interesting pizza substitute 100g of the strong plain flour for strong brown flour or add some herbs, such as 1 teaspoon of oregano, to the dough.


  • 1 tube of tomato puree

  • 1 teaspoon oregano

  • 3 cloves chopped garlic or garlic puree

  • 1 teaspoon basil

  • 290ml water

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 teaspoon caster sugar

  • 500g strong plain flour

  • 2 teaspoons (one packet) quick bake/fast action yeast

  • 100g grated mozzarella

  • 250g grated cheddar

  • olive oil


  1. Mix the tomato puree, oregano, garlic and basil in a small bowl

  2. Make the dough by mixing the water, salt, olive oil, sugar, flour and yeast together. If you have a bread maker, use it's dough setting and skip to step 6.

  3. Place the dough in a warm place for 30 minutes

  4. Kneed the dough for a few minutes

  5. Place the dough in a warm place for another 30 minutes

  6. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees

  7. Roll the dough out with plenty of flour to keep it from sticking

  8. Grease up a large baking tray, or two smaller baking trays with olive oil

  9. Place the dough on the baking tray(s)

  10. Spread the tomato puree mixture out over the top of the dough

  11. Sprinkle the cheese evenly over all of the tomato puree on the dough

  12. Cook on the top shelf of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the cheese is golden brown

  13. If you're using two baking trays then swap the two trays over in the oven about 10 minutes into cooking

Serves 4