Thursday, 11 December 2014

Venison Steak with Red Wine and Juniper Sauce.

Season your steak and rub in with a little oil.
Add thyme, 3/4 crushed juniper berries, a squeeze of lemon juice and marinade.
Bring the steak up to room temperature
Heat a little oil in a oven proof frying and cook the steak on one side for 3-4 mins (this depends on the thickness of the steak and how you like it cooked) turn and place the pan in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees.
Remove the steak from the oven and rest under foil in a warm place.
Return the pan to the hob and deglaze with a small glass of red wine.
Add a knob of butter and the thyme and juniper from the marinade.
Reduce to a sauce and sieve over the rested steak.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Roast Beetroot and Goats Cheese Salad with Honey & Dill Dressing.

Wrap your beetroots in foil with a little oil poured over them and roast in a medium oven. The timing will depend on the size of the beets but they are ready when you can push a sharp knife into them.
Leave to cool.
For the dressing mix some good quality oil with a squeeze of lemon juice, honey, a pinch of salt and chopped dill.
When the beets have cooled rub off the skin and slice.
Crumble your goats cheese onto a bed of watercress or other leaves, arrange the beets on top and dress & serve.

Onion and Cider Soup.

Finely slice a large onion and put in a sauce pan with a good knob of butter and some oil on a low heat.
Let the onion slowly sweat down and caramelize, you want it soft and translucent but not coloured.
Add fresh chopped thyme, seasoning, cider and some veg stock, bring to a simmer and cook on for 30-45 mins.
Adjust the seasoning if you need to and serve.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Beef Bourguignon.

A good sized piece of topside beef was going for half price so i made the most of it by making chilli and this recipe.
Cut your beef into slices, reserving any fat and add a little oil. Season and massage the salt and pepper into the meat.
Place into a ceramic bowl with a sliced onion, thyme, bay and parsley and cover with a glass of red wine.
Cover and leave to marinade overnight.
Remove from the fridge and strain the marinade from the beef, cover and allow the meat to come to room temperature.
Discard the herbs and onion and reserve the wine.
Chop a rasher of two of streaky bacon and the reserved fat from the beef.
Add the chopped beef fat to a saucepan with a little oil and heat until it releases its fat. Remove the pieces of fat and discard.
Add the chopped bacon and cook for a few minutes then add peeled shallots.
Colour the shallots and remove them along with the bacon, reserve.
Add the strip of beef and colour.
Sprinkle the meat with a table spoon of plain flour and mix in.
Add a little of the wine at a time stirring in to avoid making the flour lumpy.
Bubble for for 30 seconds or so and then add some beef or veg stock, a whole clove or two of garlic and a bouquet garni of bay, thyme and parsley.
Bring to barley a simmer, cover and cook long and slow for at least an hour.
In a separate pan soften some button or sliced mushrooms in butter.
Add to the beef and wine along with the reserved shallots and bacon.
Simmer until the mushrooms are cooked through.

Monday, 27 October 2014

Chicken Escalope with Cobnut, Rosemary and Parmesan Crust.

The first time I cooked this I used pheasant breast and thyme even though the original recipe was chicken and thyme.
This time I used chicken, but with rosemary - you can use any combination of bird or herb.

First shell and lightly toast your cobnuts (hazel work just as well) in a dry pan. When cooled give a light crush in a mortar and pestle.
Put into a blender with broken up stale bread which is totally dry, finely chopped rosemary and the zest from a lemon.
Blitz then mix in finely grated Parmesan and set aside.
Between two pieces of greaseproof paper use a rolling pin to roll out the chicken breasts to thin escalopes.
Season and squeeze over some lemon juice. Leave to marinade.
Beat an egg in a bowl.
Place some plain flour in another bowl.
On a plate spread out the breadcrumb mixture.
Place the escalope in the flour and cover. Shake off any access flour.
Then transfer to the egg and cover.
Finally dip in the breadcrumbs patting them onto the chicken until it is covered.
Cook on a med heat in a frying pan and remember to reduce the cooking time as the chicken is so thin.
If using pheasant or other game cook in lots of melted butter to stop it drying out.

Sunday, 26 October 2014


A very quick and simple mid-week supper packed with flavour.
First par boil some fairly large potatoes in salted water - traditionally it seems to be red potatoes, but any are fine. Leave to cool.
Soften some chopped onion in oil or butter and scatter with finely chopped thyme.
Transfer to the bottom of an oven proof dish.
Arrange a layer of bacon rashers over the onions.
When the potatoes are cool enough rub off the skins and slice about 1/2 a cm thick.
Arrange the sliced potatoes on top of the bacon and season.
Dot with small pieces of butter.
On the very top its traditional to place a Reblochon cheese with the bottom and side skin trimmed off (any soft and runny cheese will do though).
Place in an oven at 180 degrees and cook until the potatoes are cooked through and the chesse has melted into and across the dish.
Serve with seasonal green veg.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Chicken, Leek and Tarragon Pie.

I used skinless chicken breast for this but you can use any cut you like.
Cut the chicken into bite size chunks and colour in a sauce pan. add the chopped leeks and sweat for three to four mins.
Add chopped tarragon and a splash of white wine and simmer on a low heat.
I another saucepan melt a knob of butter - take off the heat and add two teaspoons of flour and stir in.
return to the heat and add a dash of milk stirring it in. Keep adding milk a bit at a time and stirring in.
After ten mins or so the sauce should thicken.
Add to the chicken and leeks and simmer until the chicken is cooked through.
Add to a pie dish and allow to cool - top with pastry of choice and brush with milk.
Place in an oven at  180 degrees for 35 to 40 mins or until the pastry has cooked.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

Cauliflower Cheese.

Place your cauliflower (cut up if not using baby caulis) in a pan of salted boiling water and cook for 10-15 mins or until just tender - be careful not to over cook as it will be cooked for a second time in the oven.
Melt a good knob of butter in a saucepan and remove from the heat.
Stir in plain flour and add a little milk and return to the heat adding more milk a little at a time, constantly stirring.
When the sauce has thickened add cheese - I used Lincolnshire Poacher but any good quality English hard / cheddar like cheese will suffice.
Remove from the heat and keep stirring until the cheese has melted, then stir in a teaspoon or two of mustard and a grating of nutmeg.
Place your cauliflower in to an oven proof dish and pour the sauce over and place in an oven at 180 degrees for twenty minutes or so.
You can also place under the grill for a further five mins to give it more colour if you wish.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Lamb and Cous-Cous Salad with Pomegranate.

A nice and easy salad made from leftover lamb.
Add your couscous to a bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 20mins or so season well and fluff up with a fork.
Finely slice a spring onion or two and leave to soak in lemon juice for ten or fifteen mins.
Add the spring onion, lemon juice, plenty of shredded parsley and mint, pieces of left over lamb to the couscous and mix thoroughly.
Taste and adjust the seasoning if needed.
Serve scattered with pomegranate seeds.

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Barnsley Chop with Parsley and Roasted Parsnip.

A Barnsley Chop is a double sided chop taken from across the loin. It's sometimes referred to as a saddle chop, and is thought to have originated at the Brooklands hotel in Barnsley though the Kings Head pub also lays claim to it!
Season the chop with salt and pepper and a little oil rubbing in the seasoning, drizzle over a little lemon juice and leave, covered,  to come up to room temperature before cooking.
Meanwhile prepare your parsnips by peeling and slicing length ways ( I also used carrots).
Roll in oil and seasoning and put in the oven at 180 degrees to roast tossing occasionally.
When the veg is ready heat an oven proof pan with a little oil.
Add the chop and cook for a few minutes on one side, turn the chop and transfer to the oven for 7-10mins depending on the thickness and how you like it cooked.
Remove the pan and put the chop somewhere warm and covered with foil to rest.
Return the pan to the hob add a little butter. when it has melted add a half a small cup of water to deglaze the pan.
Reduce to a sauce take of the heat and add freshly chopped parsley.
Serve with the veg and the sauce poured over the chop.

Sunday, 7 September 2014


Chop up approx eight tomatoes, 3/4 of a cucumber, a green pepper and blitz in a blender.
Place three peeled garlic cloves in a mortar and pestle with a little salt and reduce to a paste. Add this to the blender and blitz again.
Sieve the mixture and discard the pulp and seeds.
Add three tablespoons of olive oil, a tablespoon of sherry vinegar and a small hand full of bread crumbs or a slice of semi-stale white bread, crust removed, torn up into pieces.
Season and add a couple of ice cubes and leave to stand in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Serve with some diced cumber on top.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Raspberries in Vodka Jelly with Lime Syrup.

I got home with a punnet of raspberries and a lime, in the fridge was the remains of a bottle of vodka that my flatmates friend had left from the night before. The following day I saw a James Martin recipe for this in a magazine - sorted!
Bring a saucepan of water to the boil and add sugar to make a syrup.
While the Syrup is cooling soak gelatine leaves in cold water and add to the syrup, when cooler add vodka to taste.
Line a mould with a little olive oil and then clingfilm. Pour in some of the syrup as it begins to set. Leave in the fridge until set enough to support the raspberries.
Add more syrup and repeat until the mould is full.
Leave in the fridge to set.
For the Lime syrup zest and juice several limes into a sauce pan and add sugar to taste. Bring to a simmer.
Add a teaspoon of arrowroot disolved in a small cup of water and add.
Pass through a sieve and allow to cool.
Turn the jelly and raspberries out of the terrine mould and remove the cling film.
Slice and serve with the lime syrup.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Mushroom Bolognese with Tagliatelle.

This is a traditional bolognese sauce with the addition of mushrooms because I just happened to have a lot the needed using up.
For a more traditional sauce just leave out the mushrooms and serve with spaghetti rather than tagliatelle.
Some traditional recipes are  vegetarian and I have also read that if meat is included its was usually pork knuckle - so plenty of room for variation and experiment with this one.

Finely chop carrot, onion and celery, season and soften in olive oil for a few minutes.
Add minced beef and colour, breaking up the meat.
Add a glass of red wine and cook off the alcohol.
Then add a can of chopped tomatoes (fresh are just as good!).
Add a small amount of chopped chilli and a teaspoon of good vinegar (both optional) and leave on a low heat to slowly cook down to a thick sauce.
Add chopped mushrooms while the sauce is cooking down if you decide to use them.
Serve with pasta of choice and grated Parmesan and a sprinkling of chopped parsley or basil.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Radish Soup.

A very quick and easy soup made from the leaves of the radish which usually end up in the compost or bin the taste will surprise you!
Soften a small onion or a shallot, carrot and a stick of celery in oil. Season.
Add a knob of butter and a good hand full of washed radish leaves - wilt down the leaves on a low heat.
Add veg stock, bring to the boil and simmer.
Blitz and strain through a sieve.
Reheat and serve with a chopped radish or two.

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Bacon, Broad Bean and Mint Risotto.

Warm a saucepan of chicken stock on the hob.
In a large frying pan soften a chopped onion and a sliced garlic clove in olive oil.
Add a couple of rashers of chopped bacon and colour.
Add a cup full of risotto rice and stir around to coat the rice.
Add half a glass of white wine raise the heat and cook off the alcohol - season.
Adjust the heat and ladle in a small amount of the warm stock, stirring the rice to let it absorb the stock. Keep adding small amounts of stock as the rice cooks stirring regularly.
While the rice is cooking blanch a saucepan full of broad beans.
When they are cool enough to peel take off the tough outer shells.
A couple of mins before the rice is cooked add the shelled beans.
When the rice is cooked through and the last of the stock is just absorbed take off the heat and mix in the chopped mint.
Stir in grated Parmesan and allow to rest in a warm place before serving.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Lamb Shank Braised in Red Wine.

Season the shank and rub with oil.
In a pan colour the shank on all sides on a med/high heat and transfer to an oven proof casserole.
Lower the heat slightly and add some oil.
Colour the whole peeled shallots, transfer to the casserole. Add the baby carrots and do the same.
Melt a knob of butter in the pan and deglaze with a glass of red wine. Add to the casserole.
Season  the veg in the casserole and add thyme.
Cover and place in  low oven - around 140 degrees for an hour or so until the shank is cooked through.
Rest the lamb and remove the veg from the sauce and keep warm.
Reduce the sauce if needed and serve with creamy mash to soak up all the sauce.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Rib Eye Steak with Oven Chips and French Beans.

For the chips par boil a couple of large peeled potatoes for 3/4 mins, drain and allow to cool.
Cut into big wedges, season, roll in oil and place in a hot oven (180 degrees) - give them a shake or two while cooking to stop them sticking to the dish.
Season the steak (bought up to room temp) with salt and pepper, add a little rape seed oil and rub in the seasoning.
Five mins or so before the chips are ready heat an oven proof frying pan to a high heat.
Place the steak in the pan and cook for 3/4 mins depending on the thickness of the steak, turn and place in the oven for 5 mins.
Bring a pan of hot salted water to the boil and add the topped and tailed beans. Cook for 4 mins.
Remove the steak from the oven and rest for 4-5 mins under foil in a warm place.
Return the steak pan to a hot hob and add a knob of butter. when the butter has melted add 1/4 of a cup full of boiling water, deglaze the pan and reduce to a sauce.
Drain the beans and add a teaspoon of mint sauce and some oil, dress.
Plate up the steak, chips and beans, add any resting juices to the sauce and pour over the steak. Serve.

Monday, 7 July 2014

Lamb Tagine with Cous-Cous.

Pre heat your oven to 120/140 degrees.
In an oven proof pan soften a chopped onion or two, add a knob of grated or chopped ginger, a couple of teaspoons of crushed coriander seeds, a teaspoon of cinnamon, half a chopped chilli (optional) and season.
Add diced lamb - I used neck fillet, but any cut is ok especially those cheaper ones that lend themselves to slow cooking - colour and add a good squeeze of tomato puree, half a dozen chopped tomotoes and a teaspoon of honey.
Bring to a simmer place in oven with the lid on for around 1hr 20mins (remove the lid for the last half an hour of cooking).
Place the cous cous in a bowl add the juice of half a lemon and season well.
Add hot chicken stock - leave in a warm place for 5 mins and stir well - add more stock if needed.
Stir in chopped mint or parsley and serve with pomegranate seeds.

Fattoush (Lebanese Salad).

Make the dressing a few hours in advance to let the flavours merge.
Mix together olive oil, lemon juice, a quarter of a chopped chilli (do not over do it as you will be using other chilli's in the salad!) and a little salt & pepper.
Toast some pitta bead.
In a large salad bowl add shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes, chopped cucumber, finely sliced spring onion, sliced radishes and a few chopped pickled chilli's.
Add chopped parsley, mint and the pitta bread ripped into pieces.
Dress and serve.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Braised Duck Leg with Peas, Lettuce and Mint.

The trick with duck is to prick the skin with a sharp knife all over before cooking and then (if not roasting) to pour off the fat as often as possible through out cooking.
Heat some oil and a small knob of butter in a pan.
Add chopped bacon and a chopped onion, cook until onion has softened and the bacon has started to colour.
Add the duck leg skin side down and cook for five mins to colour the skin.
Turn the leg and pour off all the fat.
Add some warm veg or chicken stock, season with pepper only, add a bay leaf and some thyme sprigs.
Cover and braise in the oven gas mark 3 for around 3/4 of an hour depending on the size and amount of duck legs you are cooking.
Pour off most of the stock and reserve.
Remove the skin from the leg bone and cut the bone below the knuckle to give a nice presentation.
Return to the oven - uncovered - to crisp the skin (about 15 mins).
Gently fry a quartered little gem lettuce in a pan. add some of the reserved cooking stock, with the fat skimmed off, and frozen peas and cook through.
Strain off any excess liquid and add chopped mint and serve with the duck leg.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Strawberry and Raspberry Mousse Cake.

To make the base crush enough digestive buscuits to cover the base of your dish.
Add lemon zest and a couple of tablespoons of melted unsalted butter, a few tablespoons of caster sugar (optional), and a few tablespoons of juice from the fruit.
Mix well and press into the base of the dish. Place in the fridge to set.
For the raspberry layer place a punnet or two of raspberries in a saucepan with a tablespoon of lemon juice over a very low heat.
When the raspberries have collapsed and released all their juices add caster sugar to taste (some like it more tart and less sweet) and a some gelatine.
Leave to cool and then spread on to the buscuit base and return to the fridge.
For the mousse hull and chop your strawberries. Place in a pan with a tablespoon of lemmon juice and a dash of water. Put on a low heat until the fruit has collapsed and push through a sieve.
Soften gelatin leaves in water and a little of the strawberry juice for a few mins.
Return to strawberry juices to the pan  and add the gelatine and caster sugar to taste. Heat gently until all the sugar and gelatin has disovled. Place in the fridge to cool.
When cooled mix greek yoghurt, creme fraiche and the strawberry mixture together and spread over the top of the rasperry and buscuit mix.
Return to fridge to set.
Decorate with extra fruit.

Saturday, 10 May 2014

Minted Asparagus with Palma Ham and Comte.

Break off the woody ends of the asparagus and place into oven proof dish.
Roll in rapeseed or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and dot with small pieces of butter.
Place in a pre-heatd oven at 180 degrees for 8-12 mins depending on thickness of the stalks.
Place you slices of parma ham on a plate.
When the asparagus is cooked sprinkle it with finely chopped mint and place on top of the ham, drizzling with the cooking oil/butter.
Place cheese shavings on top - I used comte but others such as parmesan work well too.

Poule Au Vin (Coq Au Van)

Surely Coq Au Van  should be a cockerel? These days its usually chicken rather than cockerel as its easier to get hold of and easier to cook with, which i guess makes it chicken in (red) wine.
This method is roughly based on Elisabeth David's in French Provincal Cooking and what ever you decide to call it, it's very good and like a lot of slow cooked dishes is even better if cooked the day before.

First empty enough wine to cover your chicken into a sauce pan with a cup full of chicken or veg stock, a couple of crushed garlic cloves, bay leaves and a few sprigs of thyme.
Simmer until reduced by half, add botton mushrooms for the last five minutes, strain and discard the garlic, bay and thyme and reserve the mushrooms.
Fry some chopped bacon in a mix of oil and butter.
Add baby carrots and shallots either whole or halved and colour slightly.
Remove from pan and add to a casserole.
Raise the heat slightly and add seasoned chicken pieces skin side down and colour. Flambe in brandy (optional) and remove to the casserole.
Deglaze the pan with some of the wine mixture and add to the casserole with the rest of the wine reduction, a bay leaf and some fresh sprigs of thyme.
Cook on a medium low heat or in the oven until the chicken is cooked through.
Five minutes before the end of cooking return the mushrooms to the pan.
Traditionaly its served with fried bread, but rice or mash work well too.
Another alternative as suggested by E.D. is to serve a bowl of pasta after the chicken and veg for all the sauce.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

Winchester - Morestead - Cheesefoot Head - Twyford -Winchester & Cheriton's green lanes.

A nice couple of days spent back in Hampshire over the easter holidays walking in some of my favorite areas.
The first walk was with a walking group I have joined and started in Winchester from Bar End near to St. Catherine's Hill.
We followed a footpath that ran parallel to the old roman road to Morestead, crossing the road at Morstead Down and joining Fawley Lane before walking up and over Fawley Down to Cheesefoot Head. This is a great place to see Skylarks and there is a very healthy population on this part of the downs. I also saw my first Swallow of the year as we were passing over Morestead Down.
View from Cheesefoot Head looking south west.
From Cheesfoot Head we descended Warren Lane before turning right into Honeyman Lane. The banks of these old drovers lanes were covered with wild garlic, just coming into flower, a few handfuls went into my pockets.
We crossed the road at Bottom Pond Farm and continued along Stags Lane before joining up with the Monarch's Way and Love Lane which led us into Twyford. This partof the walk was covered in an earlier walk on this blog.
After a very welcome lunch break in the Pheonix Inn, Twyford we followed the river Itchen back into Winchester, taking a slight detour after passing under the M3 to walk along the now restored viaduct at the Hockley Link.
We then followed the Itchen Way back into Wichester, passing the foot of St. Catherines Hill, an ancient hill fort where we were treated to one of the best displays of Cowslips I have ever seen.

The following monday I explored the old droves and green lanes around Cheriton - these are a net work of tracks to the east of the village, which is also where the source of the River Itchen is situated.

Alresford Lane
We strated on Alresfrod Lane before crossing to Broad Lane via a footpath.
When Broad Lane merged with Hinton Lane we headed back south before turning into Cheriton Lane which led us back past the Long Barrow to our starting point.

Hinton Lane
There are lots of these old droves cris-crossing Cheriton and the surrounding area and they make for very good walks avoiding most roads.

Cheriton Lane

Friday, 11 April 2014

Balsamic Roasted Strawberries.

A delicious and simple way to serve strawberries!
Hull your strawberries and sprinkle with a dessert spoon of sugar.
Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Melt a knob of unsalted butter in a non stick pan and add the strawberries.
Cook for a few minutes making sure all the strawbs are coated with butter, add a good dash of quality balsamic vinegar and transfer to the oven.
Cook for five to ten minutes depending on the size and ripeness of the strawbs.
Remove from the oven and let cool, basting with the cooking juices every so often.
Reserve the best half of the strawbs and place the rest in a blender with the cooking juices and a good dash of lemon juice.
Blitz to a puree and taste. Add more balsamic and sugar if needed and blitz again.
Serve with whipped or clotted cream.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pigs Cheeks with Perry and Mustard.

I was delighted to find pigs cheeks in my local supermarket and as I had not cooked them before looked up a couple of recipes for them.
This was the second time I cooked them after a trial run and they are delicious, but need a long slow cook at a low temperature to tenderize them.
Perry is a drink similar to cider, but made from pears. Cider works just as well too.
Season the cheeks with salt and paper rub in a little oil and some lemon juice and leave to marinade overnight.
Add a knob of butter to a frying pan and colour the cheeks on both sides.
Transfer to an oven proof dish with a lid.
In the same pan soften a chopped onion with some chopped thyme, deglaze with enough perry to nearly cover the cheeks and add a good dollop of english mustard and a squeeze of tomato puree.
Cover the cheeks with the onions and sauce and transfer to a low oven (100-120 degrees) and cook for at least an hour - longer on a lower heat is better.
Serve with mash and seasonal veg.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Chicken Provencal.

I used chicken thighs for this but you can use breast or drumsticks or even buy a whole chicken and joint it.
First cut the aubergine in to cubes, place into a colander salt and place a small plate and weight on top. Leave for at least a few hours preferably longer until most of the water has been drawn out.
Wash the salt off and quickly dry with a clean tea towel.
Season the thighs and colour in a pan with some olive oil and transfer to an oven proof casserole or similar.
In the same pan soften a chopped onion, a diced courgette or two, de-seeded and chopped tomatoes the aubergine and a chopped pepper.
Add a bay leaf or two and chopped parsley or basil, cover with a good glug of oilive oil and a generous squeeze of tomato puree.
Cover the chicken pieces with the vegatables, cover and place in a low oven for 50 mins to an hour or until the chicken is cooked through.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Traditional English Mint Sauce.

This is the last post of things I made while still at Ladysmock Cottage and was made in mid March just before leaving.
All the herbs were starting to grow again after the winter and mint was plentiful.
This recipe is almost exactly the same as the one passed down to me from my mother, who taught me in the seventies to make mint sauce - the only difference being I now use white wine or cider vinegar rather than malt.
I have toyed with the idea of changing the name of the blog now i have no connection at all with Ladysmock, but until I think of a better name will continue with the existing one!

First remove most of the stalks from the mint and place on a chopping board. sprinkle with a tea spoon or two of sugar.
Holding a knife in with the fingertips of both hands chop the mint until it is very fine - you end up with a mush as the sugar gets chopped into it.

Transfer to a small bowl or ramekin and just cover with boiling water.
Leave to infuse and cool then add white wine or cider vinegar (or malt if you prefer) to the desired consistency.
It will keep for weeks, if not months in sterilised jars.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Clams in Cider with Parsley.

A delicious and very simple supper that only takes a few minutes to cook.
First clean your clams and discard any that don't close.
Finely chop a shallot, a couple of sticks of celery and half a bulb of fennel.
Soften in butter in a pan large enough to hold all the clams comfortably.
Add a bottle of good quality cider and boil off the alcohol.
Add the clams give the pan a shake and steam for 3-4mins or until they are fully opened.
Ladle into bowls and scatter with freshly chopped parsley.
Serve with good crusty bread for the juices.
this also works very well with muscles and cockles just adjust the cooking times.

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Lamb and Mushroom Hotpot.

A quick and easy one pot supper.
Cut your lamb into chunks roughly 2cm square.
Season and dust with flour. cook in hot oil until the outside is coloured and set aside.
Add more oil to the pan and soften a chopped onion and sliced carrot with thyme.
To create the hotpot add a layer of the onion and carrot mixture to an oven proof pot, then add a layer of the lamb and finally a layer of uncooked sliced mushrooms.
Continue doing this until you have used up all the ingredients and add a layer of sliced potatoes to the top, arranging them in an overlap.
Add a small cup full of veg or lamb stock and dot the top with butter and season.
Place in a med- low oven and cook for about 40-50mins or until the potatoes are cooked through and serve.

Friday, 14 March 2014

Partridge Salad with Apple, Celery and Celeriac Remoulade.

For the Remoulade peel and shred some celariac.
Core and finely slice the apple into battens then finely chop the celery and mix all of them together in a bowl.
Add good quality mayonaise, a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, a sqeeze of lemon juice, a grind or two of black pepper and a little salt - combine until all the mixture is coated.
This is best made fresh and served straight away.
Oil and season the partridge breasts.
Pan fry for 2 mins on each side then place in an oven at 180 degrees for 3-4 mins.
Rest under foil for 3 mins or so and then carve and place on a bed of mixed lightly dressed leaves.
Pour over any juices from the breasts and serve with the remoulade.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Cheddar, Onion and Sage Stuffed Potato Cake.

Peel and boil some good mashing potatoes in salted water until just soft.
Mash, but do not add any butter or milk.
Soften some chopped onion and sage in a little butter or oil with seasoning.
When cooled mix with gratted cheddar cheese.
When the potato has cooled mix in three teaspoons of plain flour and a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda.
Mix thoroughly until it resembles a dough like texture.
Form a dollop of the mixture into a rough disc, and using your thumb make an indent in the centre.
Place a ball of the onion, sage and cheese mixture into it.
Place more potato on top and form into a cake shape.
Sprinkle a dry, non stick frying pan with plain flour (do not use oil or butter at this stage) and place on a low heat.
Place the cakes into the pan and dry cook for about five mins or until the flour starts to colour the underside of the cake.
Flip the cake and do the same on the otherside, this will give the finished cake a wonderful colour.
Remove the cakes from the pan and discard the flour place the cakes back in the hot pan and add a knob of butter.
Cook the cakes for a few mins on each side until golden and serve.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Smoked Mackerel Pate with Steeped Cherries.

Cherries going cheap at the market and chives growing once again in the garden inspired this one.
The steeped cherries are good with ham's and other smoked meats as well as cheese, smoked trout and especialy duck.
You can also use other vinegars, wines or spirts to steep cherries.

Half and stone the cheeries. Place in a bowl and cover with a good quality vinegar (Iused sherry vingar), cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
To make the pate remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and shred into a bowl.
Loosen with some olive oil, sour cream or mayo and lemon juice.
Add chopped chives and mix together.
Leave for a hour or two for the flavours to infuse together and serve with toast.

The steeped cherries will last for a few days, but remember they are not pickled!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Scotch Broth.

A great winter warmer made with left over roast lamb.
It's traditionally made with pearl barley, but you can use split peas or both instead.
Softena chopped onion, chopped celery and carrot in some butter or oil.
Add some veg stock or water with shredded leftover lamb.
You can also add other veg - cubed potatoes, turnip or swede.
Season, bring to the boil and lower the heat to a simmer.
Add you pearl barley and / or split peas and simmer until cooked through.
Serve with a good scattering of  fresh parsley.

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Partridge Breast with Red Wine Sauce.

A very nice Sunday evening supper.
First make the sauce.
Soften a finely chopped shallot in a good knob of butter.
Sprinkle in a teaspoon of flour (best done off the heat). Slowly add a glass of red wine stirring in all the time to prevent any lumps. Season and take off the heat.
Oil and season your partridge breasts, rubbing in all over.
Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees.
Pan fry the breasts in butter for a few minutes on each side to colour, then transfer the oven for 8-10 mins.
While the breasts are in the oven strain the sauce discarding the shallots and reduce to correct consistency. Check the seasoning and adjust if needed - you can also add more butter if desired.
Rest the partridge breasts for a few minutes, adding any juices to the sauce and serve on a bed of mash or celeriac mash with seasonal veg.

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Pea, Parsley and Watercress Soup.

A delicious soup using up left over watercress stalks and leaves.
Soften a chopped shallot, a peeled and diced potato, a chopped stick of celery and the parsley stalks with half the chopped leaves in some oil.
Season and add water or stock and the chopped up watercress and simmer for half an hour or so until all cooked through adding some frozen peas after fifteen mins.
Blitz in a food processor and push through a sieve to remove all the pulp.
Return to the pan and add the reserved parsley chopped up.
Warm through and serve.

Roast Leg of Lamb with Rosemary and Garlic.

A very welcome roast lunch on a cold wet Sunday in February.
Firstly marinade your lamb for a day or so by smothering with rapeseed oil and seasoning. Then using a sharp knife cut slits into the flesh and insert slithers (or whole cloves) of garlic and rosemary into them.
I use the soft tips of the rosemary, which at this time of year is handy as its one of the few herbs to be putting on new growth at this time of year. The tougher woody stalks flavour the meat, but do not soften enough during roasting to be edible so have to be removed when carving.
After inserting the garlic and herbs in both sides squeeze over the juice of half a lemon, place on some bay leaves, cover and leave to marinade in the fridge overnight.
Remove the joint a good few hours in advance of cooking to allow it to come up to room temperature before roasting. The rosemary may also need pushing back into the slits in the meat.
Place roughly chopped carrot, celery, onion (skin on), the bay leaves from the marinade, and any other veg trimmings into a roasting dish with a cup full of water and place the joint on a grill above it.
The water will form a delicious stock as the joint roasts and will be the basis for your gravy and the steam will crispen the outside of the joint.
If the roasting tray looks like drying out just top it up with some more water during cooking.
I find roasting times vary from oven to oven, so its best to use a roasting guide - I always start a joint off at 220 degrees for half and hour then reduce the temp to 140 -160 degrees and cook for the recommended time approx 25 mins per kilo for medium rare.
Remember a bone in joint like this will also cook from the inside as the bone transfer the heat into the centre of the meat.
While the meat rests use the stock from the pan to make gravy.
Put the tray on the hob over a medium heat and add a knob of butter, half a glass a red wine, a dash of Worcester sauce and a little flour to thicken. stir as it boils to deglaze the tray.
Strain the liquid into a sauce pan and reduce to the desired consistency.

Sunday, 9 February 2014

Steak, Beetroot, Watercress and Horseradish.

A seriously nice weekend supper.
First cover the beetroot in some olive oil and season. Wrap in foil and raost in an oven at 180 degrees for 45 mins depending on the size of the beet.
It is cooked when you can push a knife in with little resistance.
Bring your steak up to room temp before cooking - this stops it going tough.
Rub in a little oil and seasoning into both sides and heat a little oil in an oven proof frying pan.
Cook the steak on one side on a high heat for 3-4 mins depending on the thickness.
Turn the steak and put the pan in the oven - remove the beetroot.
While the steak is cooking for another 8- 10 mins in the oven remove the beetroot from the foil to cool a little.
Dress your watercress with a little olive oil and lemon juice.
Slice the beet and add to the watercress. Remove the steak from the oven and rest for a few mins under foil.
Slice and place on the watercress.
Add a dollop or two of horseraddish sauce and serve.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Walnut and Stilton Salad.

Walnuts from a friends garden in France and a gift of Stilton for xmas resulted in this tasty salad.
Shell the walnuts and soak in rapeseed or walnut oil for half an hour or so.
Drain the nuts and place on a bed of salad leaves with crumbled Stilton.
Add some Stilton to the oil,season and add a dash of good vinegar.
Mix all the ingredients together dress the salad and serve.
You could also add apple cut into matchsticks and rolled in lemon juice to stop it discolouring.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

All the birds seen at Ladysmock.

As I am no longer at Ladysmock and back in London one of the first things I have noticed is the lack of birds.
It got me thinking about all the species I saw in the four and a half years spent there.
I will add to this list as I recall them!

Seen in the garden -

Great Tit
Blue Tit
Coal Tit
Long Tailed Tit

Song Thrush
Mistle Thrush
Field Fair

House Sparrow
Dunnock (Hedge Sparrow)
Garden Warbler


Great Spotted Woodpecker
Green Woodpecker
Tree Creeper

Little Owl
Sparrow Hawk


Wood Pigeon
Collard Dove
Stock Dove


Seen (over) and heard from the garden
Tawny Owl
House Marten

Other animals seen in the garden

Badger (while watching little owls at dusk one appeared three feet away from me).
Grey Squirrel
Deer (not sure what type - two walked up the drive one evening!)
Toad (a regular in the greenhouse during winter)
Snake - moved too quickly to see but most likely a Grass Snake.
Wood Mice

Friday, 10 January 2014

Game Pie.

A boxing day supper with the game marrinaded in Port, but you could use red wine instead.
Place the pieces of mixed game (I bought a mixed pack from the butcher) in a ceramic bowl with a few sprigs of thyme, a couple of bay leaves, three or four crushed juniper berries and a clove of crushed garlic and cover with port.
Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for a couple of days.
Drain the pieces of meat and reserve the liquid.
Dry the game thoroughly, season and dust with flour.
Colour the game pieces in a frying pan transfering to a sauce pan as you cook them. Deglaze the frying pan with the marinade and add to the sauce pan. Cook on a low heat until the game is cook through and transfer to a pie dish and allow to cool.
Top the pie with slices of potato, season and add a few dabs of butter and cook in an oven until the slices are cooked through - around 35 - 40 mins.
You could top the pie with pastry or even mash like a cottage pie.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Pigeon Breast with Sloe Gin Vinaigrette.

A nice starter - I like to cook them rare, but if you like medium just extend the cooking times slightly.
Season and pan fry your pigeon breasts in an oven proof pan for two - three minutes on each side and then place in a pre heated oven on 180 degrees for ten minutes.
Prepare a plate of mixed salad leaves.
remove the breasts from the oven and transfer to a warm plate cover with foil and leave to rest.
While they are resting deglaze the pan over a medium heat with sloe gin.
Reduce to a syrup and remove from the heat.
Add rape seed oil to form a dressing.
Slice the pigeon and place on top of the salad leaves.
Add any juices to the dressing.
Dress and serve.