Monday, 9 December 2013

Pork Baked with Potatoes and White Wine.

I had a browse through several cook books looking for a new way to cook pork with the few other ingredients I had to hand and came across a few versions of this recipe.
The first was called Farmer Wife's Pork in a book by Jenny Baker and was very similar to this except it had sliced apples on top sprinkled with cinnamon and used cider instead of wine.
The other variations used either thyme or rosemary instead of juniper berries, but all had the same basic potato and onion layers below and above the meat and emphasized long slow cooking at a low heat.
In the end i went for a version similar to Elisabeth David's in French Provincial Cooking.

Finely slice a potato or two and cover the bottom of a lidded oven proof dish.
Add a layer of sliced onion.
Colour your pork chops / steaks in a frying pan and place on top of the onions.
Deglaze the pan with a little white wine and pour over.
Add three or four slightly crushed juniper berries a couple of bay leaves and season.
Cover the pork with another layer of onions and top this with more sliced potato.
Dot with butter and season lightly, add a little more white wine and cover.
Place in a low oven around 120 -140 degrees and cook long and slow.
Serve with a sprinkling of fresh parsley and braised celery as it contrasts well with the sweetness of the meat.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Herb Encrusted Roast Pork Tenderloin.

For the herb crust I wizzed the only herbs still growing in the garden - rosemary, thyme, parsley, sage and a little tarragon in an old coffee grinder until is was very finely chopped.Any herb combination that takes your fancy will do.

Season your tenderloin and rub it in with some good oil and a dash of lemon juice. Then roll in the finely chopped herbs until the meat is covered. Leave to marinade.
Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees.
In a oven proof pan heat a mix of rape seed oil and butter. On a high heat colour the tenderloin on all sides then add tomatoes on the vine if you wish and coat with oil and place in the oven for 15-20mins depending on the thickness and size of the loin.
Remove from oven, cover with foil and rest in a warm oven for 5-10 mins.
Carve and spoon over any excess cooking juices and serve with mash and the tomatoes.

Chilli Con Carne

I like to get several layers of heat going in a Chilli so use chilli oil, dried chilli flakes, fresh chillies, cayanne pepper and paprika.
I know all this sounds a lot but they are used in very small amounts and off set by chocolate!

I also use my own chilli powder mix ;-
In a mortar and pestle grind down
Black pepper corns
Pimento pepper corns
Chilli flakes & seeds (dried)
Tumeric (just a small amount for colouring)
Cayanne pepper
They are all dry spices so you can make a jar full to keep.

First soften an onion or two in chilli oil and then add minced beef. When the meat is coloured add a couple of tea spoons of the chilli mix and a few chopped chillis.
Add a tin or two of tomatos and a tin of kidney or mixed beans at this point also add one square of good quality, at least 80% cocoa chocolate (do NOT use milk chocolate!).
Slow cook on a low heat for twenty mins or so.
Finaly add a chopped pepper or two and chopped mushrooms.
When the mushrooms and peppers have cooked through it is ready to serve.

For a meat free version just add more peppers and beans.

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Venison Braised in Red Wine.

Cut up your venison into bite sized chunks or strips and place in a ceramic bowl. Add a crushed garlic clove, 3 or 4 crushed juniper berries, a couple of bay leaves, some sprigs of thyme and cover with a glass of good red wine.
Cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge for at least a day.
Bring back up to room temperature and remove the venison, retaining the marinade liquid. Dry the meat thoroughly and lightly dust with flour and season.
In an oven proof dish soften some chopped shallots. Colour the venison in a pan and add to the shallots. Deglaze the frying pan with the marinade liquid and add to the meat and shallots.
Braise in a low oven for about 45 mins.
If need be thicken the liquid by adding a little corn flour and reducing before serving.

Sunday, 27 October 2013

Chicken in Tarragon and Mushroom Sauce.

Most of the garden herbs are now showing signs of dying back for the winter, the exception being parsley which is regrowing now the weather is cooler.
I decided I would pick most of the tarragon and dry it for use over winter as it was starting to yellow at the tips.

Marinade your chicken pieces in chopped tarragon, oil, seasoning and lemon juice for a good few hours or overnight.

In a frying pan heat some oil and colour the chicken breasts on both sides. Add finely chopped mushrooms and chopped tarragon, season and soften the mushrooms. Add a splash of white wine and burn off the alcohol.
Place in a preheated oven at 180 -200 degrees and cook until the breasts atre cooked through.

Plate the chicken and return the pan with the mushrooms to the hob. Add a knob of butter and some creme fresh and cook down into a sauce.
Serve on the chicken breast.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Herb Meatballs in Tomato Sauce.

For a quick tomato sauce soften a chopped clove of garlic or two and a finely chopped onion in a sauce pan. Add a tin of  chopped tomatoes a tea spoon of sugar, half a finely chopped small red chilli and a small dash of good vinegar. Let it cook down on a low heat for an hour or so to thicken - this also gets rid of the tinny taste to the tomatoes. Add a good handful of chopped basil and cook on.

For the meatballs place your minced beef in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper add chopped herbs and lots of them - I used savory, rosemary, thyme, parsley and a little mint.
Comibine well to mix the herbs into the meat and roll out small balls on a floured surface.

Cook the meatballs in oil until lightly coloured all over and then add a good helping of the tomato sauce and cook through in the sauce.

Serve with spaghetti or linguine and parmesan cheese.

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Rhubarb Crumble.

I must say this was a revaluation just by adding two ingredients that I would not normally use!
Having found lots of hazelnuts in the local lanes this year I thought I would find a way of using them in a recipe rather than just eating them.
Toasting them is easy just place the shelled nuts into a dry frying pan on a medium heat and keep them moving until nicely toasted.

For the crumble -
75g unsalted butter, diced
160g plain flour
125g caster sugar
Toasted hazel nuts

Put all the ingredients into a bowl and rub together with your fingers until combined into a crumble texture.

Cut the rhubarb into pieces about three inches long and place into a sauce pan with a little water, sugar and some vanilla essence (you can use fresh vanilla if you want to posh it up a bit!).
Cook on a low heat for  8-10mins until the sugar has dissolved.
Do not over cook it as it will be cooked again in the oven later.
When cooled place the rhubarb into an ovenproof dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture over the top completely covering.
Place into an oven at  180 degrees and cook until the crumble is starting to turn golden, around 20-30mins.
Serve with cream or icecream.

Friday, 18 October 2013

Garlic Mushrooms on Toast.

The last of my wild garlic butter (see previous recipe) went into this, but its just as easy with ordinary garlic.
In a sauce pan heat a little oil and wild garlic butter (or butter and finely chopped garlic).
Cook chopped mushrooms (wild ones are best if you can get them), as slowly as possible in the butter with a little chopped parsley and seasoning.
When cooked through serve on toast - no butter needed as the mushrooms release so many juices -  with a sprinkling of chopped parsley on top.

Chestnut and Parsnip Soup.

In a large saucepan sweat down a chopped leek, peeled and chopped parsnips and finely chopped parsley stalks with seasoning until soft.
Add veg stock and cooked (either roasted or boiled and peeled) chestnuts and cokk through until all the veg is soft.
Blitz in a blender adjust seasoning if needed and reheat.
Serve with a scattering of chopped parsley leaves.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Smoked Trout with Watercress, Beetroot and Horseradish.

The taste of Hampshire on a plate - locally grown watercress and locally smoked trout.
Both these things rely on the purity of chalk streams for their quality and clean taste, and Hampshire has them in abundance.
First top and tail your beetroots and boil, just above a simmer until cooked. this will depend on the size of the beets and can be anything from 15 to 45mins. They are ready when a knife can be pushed into them with little resistance, but be careful not to over cook you want them with a little bite.
Drain and leave to cool before peeling. The skin will come off very easily after cooking.
If you are using horseradish from a jar make up a dressing by thinning some of it with a good quality oil and some lemon juice and season.
If using fresh horseradish you just need to dress the watercress with oil and lemon juice and seasoning and grate over the horseradish at the end.
When the beet has cooled chop into wedges.
Arrange your smoked trout and beets on top of the watercress - I used cold smoked but hot smoked works just as well - dress and serve.

Sunday, 6 October 2013

Tarte Tatin with Blackberry Syrup.

Apples from the garden and blackberries from the local hedgerows make this a very cheap dessert.
Peel and core the apples then cut into wedges.
Heat some unsalted butter in a frying pan and cook the wedges wirh a sprinkling of suger on a high heat until they start to caramelise.
Be careful not to over cook as they are going in the oven later.

Arrange the wedges in lightly buttered oven proof dishes if making individual ones. Place black berries in the centre.
Roll out your pastry (I used shop bought puff pastry, but you can use any type) and place over the dishes. lift the pastry at the edges so it sinks onto the apples and cut the excess off and bake in the oven until the pastry is cooked.
If you are doing one large tart just arrange the apple wedges in the frying pan and roll the pastry on top and place the pan straight into the oven.
To make the syrup place a few hand fulls of blackberries with sugar and a small dash of water in a pan and cook covered on a low heat until the fruits release all their juices.
Push through a sieve and discard the pulp. return the mixture to the pan and keep warm.
when the tarts are cooked place a plate over the dishes and turn them out.
Serve with the syrup and ice cream.

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Squid with Fennel and Tomatoes.

Made with home grown tomatoes and the last few fennel fronds left it tastes far better than it looks!
Pre-heat your oven on a very low temperature 100 - 120 degrees.
In an oven proof pan soften  a chopped onion in some oil. Add a finely sliced clove or two of garlic, some crushed fennel seeds and a few slithers of chopped chilli. Season and then add your cleaned and chopped squid. Cook for a few seconds and then add a splash of white or rose wine. Cook off the alcohol, and then add chopped tomatoes.
Put on the lid and cook in  the oven for about an hour.
Serve with boiled potatoes or rice with a sprinkling of chopped fennel fronds.
As an alternative to the crushed fennel seeds and a more substantial dish you can add chopped florence fennel before you add the squid.

Saturday, 28 September 2013

Roast Partridge with Kale and Cobnuts.

Very seasonal this one - Kentish cobnuts are wonderful and in season now as is all game - they are larger than hazel nuts and have a wonderful flavour and creamy texture.
Pre heat your oven to 220 degrees. Place a bay leaf and a knob of butter inside the partridge. smear the breast with butter and season. Place in a roasting tin and roast for 15minutes.
While the partridge is roasting steam the kale and cobnuts.
Place the cooked kale and nuts into an oven proof dish place the cooked partridges on top - upside down so all the butter goes back into the breasts and rest in a warm oven for five or six minutes and then serve.

Friday, 27 September 2013

Spiced Rum Poached Figs.

Pour enough rum to nearly cover your figs into a saucepan. Add brown sugar to taste, a squeeze of lime juice, cassia bark (cinnamon), a couple of cardmon pods and some all spice. Heat to just before boiling (you can boil off the alcohol if you wish) turn off the heat, place your figs in the sauce pan, put on a tight fitting lid and leave to poach for 7-10mins.
Remove the figs and reduce the cooking liquor to a syrup.
Remove the spices and pour over the figs and serve.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Spinach Soup.

A quick and easy soup made from a whole bag of spinach that was in need of using.
Melt some butter in a large saucepan and add your spinach.
Wilt down the spinach on a very low heat constantly turning with a wooden spoon.
Eventually you end up with a ball, keep working this until it starts to break up into a paste.
Add a good veg stock and cook through. Season and wizz in a blender until smooth.
Serve with a sprinkling of nutmeg.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

From The Archive : Pontack Sauce.

Last weeks walk and seeing the Elderberries reminded me of this great seasonal sauce.
Place a pint of elderberries in a casserole dish and then bring a pint of claret to the boil in a sauce pan and pour over the berries.
Cover and place in an oven on the lowest possible setting overnight.
Pour off the resulting liquid into a sauce pan and add 1teaspoon of salt, a blade of mace, 40 peppercorns, 12 cloves, a finely chopped onion and 1 teaspoon of ginger. Bring to the boil and boil for ten mins.
Bottle - unsieved.
It will keep for up to a year and the flavour improves with age.
I find it goes very well with lamb and venison, if fact most red meats and game.

A short walk around Upham.

Entrance to the holloway at Street End.
This was a short walk I did the other sunday around the village of Upham in Hampshire.
I started the walk at Street End, which is no more than a farm and a few houses! There is a holloway that starts there and heads north west towards Bigpath Farm.
 Its a short lane that dips down and rises again giving wonderful views over the south downs and surrounding countryside.

Views over the downs.
You eventually emerge from the lane at Bigpath farm, and the hedge row here was full of purple elderberries and draped with Traveller's Joy (Wild Clemetis) which when it goes to seed in the autumn is called Old Man's Beard.
Traveller's Joy.


Cross the road and head along bigpath, which is a wide chalk track that brings you to Woodcote Farm.
Turn left onto the road and after a very short walk along the road to the left is Woodcote Lane.
 Lots of Speckled Wood butterflies along the first part of this lane, but they never stayed still long enough to get a photo!
This lane takes you up the side of the hill into Upham and give great views to the right over Blackdown.
Woodcote Lane.

View from Woodcote Lane over Blackdown.
Woodcote lane emerges onto the road at the top of White Hill and you turn left into Upham.
Pass through the village, which has a very good pub the Brushmakers Arms (, which can be found on Shoe Lane and serves local brews and very good food.
Turn left past the duck pond and can take the Monarchs Way back over the downs or if you prefer to walk on the road  Peak Lane, both which lead you back to Street End.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Potato Gratin with Sage & Onion.

Easy and quick to make and very tasty!
Slice a potato or three as finely as possible and place a layer of them at the bottom of an oven proof dish.
Then add a layer of sliced onion and a sage leaf.
Keep layering the potato, onion and sage - occasionally adding a bit of butter and a light sprinkling of seasoning.
Grate some good cheese on top - I used Lincolnshire Poacher - and pour a little cup of milk over to.
Place in an oven at 180 degrees for about 35-40 mins until the potato has cooked through.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Cottage Pie.

An unseasonaly cold sunday put me in the mood for this great traditional comfort food.
First cook your minced beef in oil until coloured then add and soften a chopped onion.
Next comes finely chopped celery and carrots.
When the carrot has softened season with salt & pepper and add good glugg of red wine - raise the heat slightly and cook off the alcohol. Add a cup of water or veg stock and on a slightly lower heat reduce the liquid by half.
Reduce the heat and add chopped herbs and a few bay leaves - i used a mix of rosemary, thyme and marjoram. Add a good dollop of english mustard and stir in.
Now add any other veg you are using - anything seasonal is good- think cottage garden - courgettes, dwarf beans, peas etc etc.
Cook through and then transfer into your pie dish to cool.
Peel and boil potatoes and mash with butter and a little milk until creamy.
Spread the mash over the top of the beef and vegatables and put in a oven on 180 degrees to cook through.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Poached Rhubarb with Pomegranate Syrup.

Cut your rhubarb into pieces and place into a oven proof dish. Sprinkle with sugar and half cover with pomegranate juice.
Place in an oven on 180 degrees for around 10 mins (you want the rhubarb to cook through but keep its shape and some firmness).
Drain the liquid into a sauce pan and keep the rhubarb warm.
Add extra sugar to the juice and reduce on the hob until it is a syrup.
Pour over the rhubarb and serve with ice cream - I used ginger and vanilla as both these flavours go really well with rhubarb.

Saturday, 31 August 2013

Blackberry Whisky.

Do not use a single malt or even a good quality blended whisky for this - it is a waste of good whisky - the cheaper brands that you probably would not usualy buy are perfect for it.
First you have to make room in the whisky bottle for the blackberries so this is best made in the evening!
After you have had your drink add blackberries to the whisky and add sugar to taste.
The amount of blackberries and sugar is entirely personal - I usually use about two dozen black berries and a couple of teaspoons of sugar, but if you like a sweeter drink add more sugar or indeed do not use any.
Give the bottle a shake to disolve the sugar and place on a shelf in a store cuboard or pantry (in the dark). shake every day for the first few days.
Then turn the bottle every week or so and after a month or two strain and discard the blackberries.
It is now ready too drink, but the flavour improves with age.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Purslane, Tomato and Cucumber Salad.

Purslane is a very easy plant to grow and has a wonderful flavour.
I didn't sew any at all this year, but still had it popping up in lots of other pots with tomatoes, lettuce etc
It is the type of plant you only have to really sew once and just let it go to seed. It will then pop up the following years where ever it is happy.
It can also be used in soups and stews.

Pick the purslane leaves from the stalks - wash and dry.
Half your cucumber cut out the seeds and discard slice.
Place the purslane and cucumber in a bowl and dress with extra virgin oilive oil, lemon juice and season.
Add chopped tomotoes and a little chopped parsley and serve.

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Burger and Chips.

Place your minced beef in a bowl and season well with salt and pepper.
Add a large dollop of english mustard and also of horseraddish sauce or a grated fresh horseraddish.
Mix well and shape into patties. Leave in the fridge to cool and firm up.
For the oven chips peel and half a large potato.
Par boil in salted water for about 10 mins and leave to cool.
Cut into large chip wedges and roll in a little oil, season and add a little finely chopped chilli.
Cook in the oven tossing regularly at 180 - 200 degrees until coloured.
Cook the burgers in a frying pan and serve in a good quality bun - cheese optional!


I do two versions of this that are made at the same time.
The first is a conventional one and the other is made with all the veg very finely chopped and a lot less olive oil, which is served cold like a tapenade.

Slice your aubergines and place in a colader and sprinkle with salt on both sides. place a saucer on top and weight down with a large tin. leave in the fridge or somewhere cool and covered for a few hours.
The salt draws all the water out of the aubergines. If you do not do this your ratatouille will be very very watery and thin.
Give the aubergine slices a squeeze and wash off all the salt drying imediately so none of the water is absorbed back into the aubergine. It is very important you wash all the salt off otherwise you will end up with a very salty stew!
Chop into chuncks and place in a large saucepan with a cup of good quality olive oil (NOT extra virgin).
Put on a very low heat. the idea is to very slowly stew the veg in the oil preventing in from falling apart and turning into a mush.
Add chopped onion, courgette and herbs - I usually use basil and / or parsley as both work well.
Add a good grind of pepper, but at this stage no salt (its best to season with salt after it has cooked on and been tasted as you can never tell how much salt was left on the aubergines).
After cooking through these vegatable add chopped red pepper and cook through.
Taste and add salt if needed.
Serve with rice, boiled potatoes or pasta.

This is a dish that is better the following day - I usually let it cool off the heat a few times while cooking as the stop / start seems to improve the flavour and stops the vegatables disitergrating into mush.

Saturday, 3 August 2013

Apple and Celery Coleslaw.

An accompaniment to barbecue sausages, but would work well with pork, chicken etc.
Finley slice a small onion and place in a bowl. Cover with lemon juice and leave to soke.
Grate a carrot and place on top.
Chop a stick of celery and add to the bowl.
Chop an apple into matchsticks and roll in lemon juice to stop it discolouring and add to the bowl.
Add a generous dollop of mayonaise and some oil.
Season with salt and pepper and combine.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Broad Beans with Bacon, Parsley and Chervil.

this is a great starter, tapas or side dish.
Pod the beans and put in a steamer.
While the broad beans are steaming slice a rasher of bacon  and fry until crispy.
Take off the heat and drain off any exccess fat. Add the steamed beans and chopped herbs. Dress with a little oil and some good quality vinegar and serve.

I usually use mint in this recipe, but thought I would give parsley and chervil a try - I think the mint works slightly better (see older post).

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Linguine with Herbs and Black Olives.

A very simple lunch from a quick walk around the garden collecting herbs.
I used marjoram, basil, sorrel, fennel, mint, thyme, rocket, rosemary, savory and tarragon, but any combinations of what is to hand works well.
With the stronger flavoured herbs such as tarragon and mint i use a little less so as not to over power the others and the tender softer tops of herbs like rosemary and thyme.
While your linguine is cooking finely chop a small onion and soften in a good glug of olive oil.
Add half a small finely chopped chilli and some chopped black olives.
As they are cooking spoon in some water from the cooking pasta and stir in.
Finally add the chopped herbs a minute before the pasta is ready.
Drain the linguine stir in the herb sauce and sprinkle with parmesan and serve.

The Big Butterfly Count.

A very important study of one of our best loved insects and all it takes is 15 minutes of your time between now and Sunday the 11th August.
Please take part.

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Barbecue Spare Ribs.

A barbecue sauce is one of the easiest and most fun things you can do in the kitchen.
There are four elements to it - heat, acid, sour and sweet!
For the heat think chilli, mustard, tobassco, horseraddish etc. For the sweet think sugar, honey, mint, tomoato, basil etc. For the sour think worcester sauce, soy etc, and for the acid think citrus juice, vinegars, balsamic etc
This recipe is for pork but you can swap and change ingredients to match beef, chicken or lamb etc.

For the basis of the sauce I always use a small onion chopped, tomato puree (or fresh skinned and de-seeded) and rapeseed oil.
As for the other elements its a quick wizz around the kitchen, pantry, cupboards, fridge and garden to match the meat I am cooking and what season of the year it is.
For these pork ribs i used garlic, honey, fennel fronds, worcester sauce, chilli, thyme leaves and lemon juice. All the ingredients are wizzed together in blender til smooth and then the pork is marinaded - best over night - turning occasionally.
For spare ribs cook in oven on a low heat until the meat is very tender - 100 degrees for a few hours and then crisp up the ribs on the barbecue before serving.

 Experiment and have fun with it! you could go oriental - lime juice, soy, chilli, corriander etc. or hot - chilli, tobassco, cracked pepper etc. there are endless combinations.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

Lamb with Three Mustards and Tarragon.

Mix English, Mallie (French) and whole grain mustard together with some oil, chopped tarragon and seasoning.
Spread over your lamb (chops, steak etc) and leave to marinade for a few hours.
Cook at a med temperature so as not to burn the mustard.
Rest and Serve.
A real revelation this one.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Summer Pudding.

Another british summer classic for that glut of soft fruits, and a great way of using up old bread.
I used strawberries (alpine, wild and maincrop), rasperries, cherries, red currants and gooseberries, but any combination of summer fruit works as does autum fruits like blackberries later in the year.
Cut the crusts off the bread slices (it doesn't matter if they are stale!) and line a pudding basin with the bread being careful to overlap the pieces.
Reserve enough bread to cover the top.
Place about two thirds of the smaller more delicate fruits like red currants, raspberries and wild straw berries into the lined basin.
If using cherries half and stone them, slice the strawberries and place in a saucepan with the other reserved fruits.
Sprinkle with sugar, to taste, and heat until the fruits release their juices - this tends to disintergrate the smaller fruits.
Pour the contents of the sauce pan while still very hot into the pudding.
Top with excess bread and place a saucer that is slightly smaller than the basin on top. Weight with a tin can and place in the fridge over night.
The following day place a plate over the top of the pudding basin and turn over - turning out the pudding.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Summer Fruits in Lemon Verbena Jelly.

An abundance of fruit in the garden at present - lots of strawberries - main crop, alpine and wild, also the first raspberries and still a lot of goosberries and red currents - add to that a few wild cherry trees about 20 mins walk away and all the summer fruit you could need.

For the jelly put a 50/50 mix of white wine and water into a saucepan. Add sugar and / or honey to taste and bring to the boil to dislove the sugar. Take off the heat and add lemon verbena leaves (lemon balm works just as well). Leave to infuse for at least an hour.
Strain the liquid and re heat slightly if cooled too much and add your gelitine.
Arrange a small amount of fruit in the bottom of a glass or bowl and add enough liquid to slightly cover.
Place in the fridge to set.
When this first layer has set add a bit more fruit and liquid. Repeat until all your fruit and liquid is used up. Doing it in layers like this will prevent all the fruit floating to the top, giving you an even spread of fruit through the jelly.

Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad with Balsamic Dressing.

Another classic flavour combination!
Firstly roast the beetroot - clean the beet and top and tail it then place on tin foil and pour over a splash of rapeseed oil and a splash of balsamic. Wrap place on a baking tray and roast in the oven at 180 degrees. This will take 25 - 45 mins depending on the size of the beets - they are done when a sharpe knife can be easily pushed into them. Underdone is better than over done as they will continue to cook wrapped in the foil after they come out of the oven.
Leave to cool and then drain the cook juices from the beats to use as the dressing. You will probably need to add some more olive oil, balsamic and seasoning to it.
Skin the beets and slice.
Arrange on top of shreded beet leaves (use the young and tender leaves) and other mixed salad leaves.
Crumble over some good goats cheese - I used a french crottin, dress and serve.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Tomato Salad.

The first basil of the season is ready for picking so couldn't resist this great combination to serve with a barbecued rib-eye steak.

Slice the tomato and arrange on a plate.
Rip the basil leaves and place under and on the tomato.
Season and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and a slash of white wine vinegar.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Artichoke with Parsley and Mint.

The Chokes in the garden are now ready for eating - bit late this year, but well worth waiting for.

Cut the stem of the choke and a little of the base. Peel off the tough lower leaves and place in a pan with about an inch of salted water.
Bring to the boil and turn the heat down low and steam for 8-15 mins depending on the size of your choke. Its done when a sharpe knife can slide through it easily.
Remove the choke from the pan and drain most of the water leaving a little in the bottom. To this hot water add a knob of butter, a splash of rapeseed or olive oil and chopped parsley and mint. Mix together and when the butter has melted pour over the choke.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Fettuccine with Garlic, Chilli, Rocket, Tomatoes and Parmesan.

Firstly slow roast your tomatoes for 30-35 mins at about 180 degrees.
As your pasta is cooking heat a good glug of olive oil in a separate pan and add finely chopped garlic and half a small red chilli.
Add a finely chopped onion and soften.
Loosen the sauce with some of the boiling water from the pasta pan.
Add the roasted tomatoes and finally the rocket.
When the rocket has wilted down and the pasta is cooked drain the pasta and combine with the sauce.
Serve with Parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Cucumber and Melon Salad with Parma Ham.

A great summer salad and works just as well without the ham.
De-seed the mellon and remove the flesh from the skin cutting into chunks.
Remove  the skin from the cucumber with a potato peeler (i leave some on as it looks better!), cut in half remove the seeds (they just taster bitter and watery) and cut into wedges.
Place into a salad bowl and tear the ham into strips on top.
Season with salt and pepper, dress with extra virgin olive oil and a good white wine vinegar and tear a hand full of mint leaves over the top.
Mix and serve.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Gooseberry Fool with Elderflower Jelly.

For the elderflower jelly pour half a glass of white wine and half a glass of water into a saucepan with sugar and / or honey to taste.
Bring to the boil and cook off the alcohol. Take off the heat and place half a dozen or so elderflower rosettes into the liquid and leave to cool and infuse.
When the liquid is cool discard the flowers and strain the liquid.
Reheat and add glelatin (i used powdered but you can get sheets too - just follow the instructions on the packet).
Allow to cool again and pour into glasses or a bowl and place in the fridge to set.
For the fool place your gooseberries in ina  sauce pan with a splash of water and sugar.
Cook through until the gooseberries collapse (I remove a few before they do for decorating the top).
Push through a sieve and allow to cool.
Whip double cream until it is thick  and fold in the gooseberry puree and custard.
Spoon onto the top of the set jelly and decorate with the reserved gooseberries.

*When elderflowers are out of season you could use elderflower cordial rather than infusing the flowers.

Sunday, 30 June 2013

Asparagus, Pea and Mint Salad.

A wonderful summer lunch or strater, but use very fresh ingredients esp the asparagus as its used raw.
First make the mint dressing.
Finely chop a small bunch of mint leaves and add to extra virgin olive oil, a splash of cider vingar, a tea spoon of french mustard and a grind of black pepper and a little salt. Mix thoroughly.
Thaw out some frozen peas or cook in advance and allow to cool.
Finely as you can slice the asparagus and place in a bowl with a dash of lemon juice.
Arrange  some letuce or other salad leaves on a plate.
Mix the peas in with the asparagus and dress with the mint dressing.
Mix with the leaves and serve.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Honey and Mustard Glazed Pork.

For the glaze (for aporox four chops / small steaks) mix a table spoon of honey, a table spoon of whole grain mustard, chopped thyme, rape seed oil, a squeeze of lemon juice and pepper together (you can add a pinch of salt but there should be enough in the mustard).
Coat the pork and marinade for a few hours or over night.
Bring the meat back to room temp before cooking (this applies to all meat - stops it toughening when it is cooked)
Cook the steak on a very hot griddle or on the barbecue spooning over any excess glaze as you turn the meat.
Let it rest in a warm place for 3/4mins and serve.