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.

Monday, 11 May 2015

Hot Water Pastry

Hot water pastry is really easy to make and, as long as you leave it to rest for the right length of time, very easy to work with.


  • 200g lard
  • 225ml water
  • 575g plain flour


  1. Put the lard and water into a sauce pan and heat over a medium heat until fully melted.
  2. Put the flour into a large heat proof bowl.
  3. Pour the liquid lard and water onto the flour and mix with a wooden spoon until it starts to lump together.
  4. Carefully (as it'll still be hot) use your hands to kneed the dough. You want to form a consistent ball of dough, which shouldn't take more than about a minute.
  5. Leave to rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Split the dough into a 3:1 split, using the smaller bit for the lid of a pie.
  7. Roll the dough out into roughly the shape of your pie dish (you won't need flour on the rolling surface) and then use your fingers to spread the dough into the pie dish.
  8. Stuff with your filling of choice.
  9. Roll out the remaining pastry for the lid and use your fingers to seal it to the base.
  10. Bake in an oven at 160 degrees Celsius for an hour and a half to two hours, depending on your filling.
  11. Leave for 10 minutes before serving after removing from the oven for the pastry and filling to rest.

Makes enough pastry for a 20cm wide pie that will be about 6 or 7 cms deep. Which is large enough for 8 people or so.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


This uses puff pastry rather than bread as a base, giving it a lighter crisper texture, even if it isn't entirely traditional.


  • 1 sheet of ready made puff pastry
  • 2 red onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 125g bacon lardons or 175g mushrooms in small cubes
  • 150g crème fraîche
  • 1 pinch of grated nutmeg
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 15g flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
  2. Place the puff pastry sheet onto a baking tray and put into the hot oven for 10 minutes.
  3. While pastry puffs up, put the onions and olive oil in a frying pan and fry for a few minutes.
  4. Add the bacon/mushrooms to the pan and fry until it's started to cook, but you don't want it to brown. If it does, just remove it from the heat.
  5. By now the 10 minutes on the puff pastry should be about done, so remove the pastry from the oven and spread the crème fraîche over it.
  6. Sprinkle the nutmeg over the pastry and then top with the onions and bacon/mushrooms.
  7. Season with salt and pepper and return to the oven for another 10 to 15 minutes.
  8. When the edge of the pastry is a nice crisp golden colour, remove it from the oven and garnish with the parsley.
  9. Cut into slices and serve with a leafy salad.

Serves 3 (or 5 if served with some boiled potatoes).

Monday, 30 March 2015

Tea Bread

This cake keeps for days and if you ask me is actually improved by giving it a couple of days (in an airtight container) to mature after baking.


  • 4 tea bags, I used English Breakfast
  • 300ml boiling water
  • 500g mixed dried fruit, choose your favourite, but I had 200g currants, 100g dried pineapple 100g dried papaya and 100g dried cranberries
  • 125g unrefined caster sugar
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1 egg


  • Pour the boiling water onto the tea bags and leave to brew for 15 minutes before removing the tea bags.
  • Put the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour the tea over it.
  • Leave the fruit overnight to soak up the tea.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.
  • Mix the sugar, flour, spice and egg into the fruit and stir until it's well mixed.
  • Put a loaf tin liner into a 2lb loaf tin and then pour the mixture into that.
  • Bake for 70 minutes in the oven.
  • Remove and leave to cool in the tin.

  • Makes a 1kg loaf.

    Thursday, 19 March 2015

    Caraway Seed Loaf Cake

    The taste of caraway has a slightly anise-like taste, but is also unique on it's own. As a flavour for a cake which it is a little unusual to see these days, but it's worth tracking down some caraway seeds.


    • 175g spreadable butter (vegetable fat blended with buttermilk or butter)
    • 175g caster sugar
    • 175g self-raising flour
    • 50g ground almonds
    • 3 tsp caraway seeds
    • 60ml milk
    • 3 eggs
    • 2 tbsp of unrefined granulated sugar
    • 10g (about 1 tbsp) flaked almonds


    1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.
    2. Put the butter and caster sugar in a bowl and cream together.
    3. Add the flour, ground almonds, caraway seeds, milk and eggs and mix together until a smooth batter is formed.
    4. Pour the batter into a lined 2lb loaf tin. It's easiest to get some of the pre-made liners rather than trying to cut greaseproof paper to fit.
    5. Use the back of a spoon to level off the batter. Sprinkle the granulated sugar followed by the flaked almonds over the top of the mixture.
    6. Place in the oven for an hour.
    7. Use a skewer to test that the cake is cooked in the centre (it should come out clean). You might need an extra 10 minutes, depending on how powerful your oven is.
    8. Remove from the oven and leave for 20 minutes in the tin.
    9. Lift the cake out of the tin and leave to cool on a rack.
    10. Once fully cool, store the cake in an airtight container and enjoy.

    Makes a 2lb loaf shaped cake.

    Monday, 9 March 2015

    Bacon Cauliflower

    This is so very simple but leads to a great tasting vegetable.


    • 1 medium sized cauliflower, all leaves removed
    • 16 slices of streaky bacon


    1. Preheat the oven to 170 degrees celsius.
    2. Carefully wrap the bacon around the cauliflower, starting at the top and tucking the edges in under it.
    3. Place into a large roasting tin.
    4. Bake in the oven for an hour and a half.
    5. Remove from the roasting tin and serve whole, slicing it at the table.

    Serves 6.

    Friday, 6 March 2015

    Slow Roasted Pork Belly

    The meat in this goes wonderfully soft and is self-basted by the fat of the belly. Serve it with some moist vegetables and an apple sauce, I prefer the softness of mashed potato to roast potatoes for this.


    • 5 large garlic bulbs, the tops sliced off
    • approx 1kg pork belly
    • 3 sprigs of fresh thyme
    • 1/2 tsp salt


    1. Preheat the oven to 220 degrees celsius.
    2. If using a butcher to buy the pork belly, ask them to score the skin on the top. If not then get your sharpest knife and score parallel lines in it, under 1cm apart.
    3. Place the garlic bulbs in a large roasting tin and then prop the pork belly, skin side up, on top of them.
    4. Rub the thyme over the top of the pork and then sprinkle the salt over it.
    5. Leave to rest for 15 minutes so that the salt can draw out some of the moisture.
    6. Put in the oven and roast for 25 minutes.
    7. Reduce the temperature to 160 and continue to cook for an hour.
    8. Finally reduce the temperature to 120 and cook for another four hours.
    9. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for at least 15 minutes before serving.

    Serves 4.

    Wednesday, 4 March 2015

    Eggy Bread

    Also called French toast, this is a quick snack which only takes minutes to make. Personally I love to spread a thin layer of Marmite on it before biting into it, but each to their own.


    • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
    • 4 slices of bread


    1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium heat.
    2. Put the eggs into a wide bowl and season to taste.
    3. Coat a couple of slices of the bread in the beaten egg and then into the hot frying pan.
    4. Cook for a couple of minutes and then turn over.
    5. Once the second side is done, remove from the pan and repeat for the remaining slices.
    6. Serve immediately, possibly with a little butter or a dusting of icing sugar.

    Makes 4 slices.

    Monday, 23 February 2015

    Lazy Fondant Potatoes

    This is a lazy form of fondant potatoes which doesn't even require the potatoes to be peeled.


    • 3 large potatoes, washed and any bad bits cut out
    • 25g butter
    • 1 chicken or vegetable stock cube
    • 200ml boiling water
    • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped in half


    1. Cut the potatoes into slices about an inch or an inch and a half in width.
    2. Melt the butter in a pan large enough to hold all the potatoes over a medium-high heat.
    3. When the butter starts to bubble, place the potatoes into the pan.
    4. Sear the first side of the potatoes for 3 or 4 minutes and then turn them over.
    5. Give the other side a further 3 or 4 minutes.
    6. Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water.
    7. Pour the stock water into the pan and add the garlic.
    8. Reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.
    9. Turn the potatoes again and give another 5 to 10 minutes. If the pan is starting to get dry add a bit more liquid, but remember that you want it to all be reduced down before serving.
    10. Remove the potatoes from the pan, serve as a side dish and drizzle any remaining liquid in the pan over the potatoes.

    Serves 2.