Thursday, 12 December 2013

Cranberry and Orange Meringue Pie

I said I was cranberry obsessed didn’t I!!  This is another in my repertoire of cranberry and orange dishes and uses the same base as my compote and, indeed, my cranberry sauce! 

I just made a small one, as it is for two of us and we really are trying to keep the calories down in the run up to Christmas.  
For two of us, in a 7" diameter quiche dish I used :
300g (10 to 12oz) of fresh cranberries
Juice and zest of a large orange
½ tsp of caster sugar (or more, to taste)
2 egg whites
2tb caster sugar
½ pack of shortcrust pastry

Firstly, pop a 300g (10/12oz) bag of cranberries into a saucepan with the zest and juice of an orange and ½ tsp of sugar (or more if you don’t like things as tart as I do!) and leave to simmer quietly until the cranberries pop and cook down. 

Line your dish with shortcrust pastry and bake blind for 25/30 minutes, until the pastry is cooked. * 

As soon as the pastry is cooked, add the cranberry compote to the dish. 

Beat two egg whites until they are stiff, add  2tb of caster sugar, 1tb at a time, until the egg whites are stiff and glossy.  Spoon onto the compote. 

Bake at 200oC (400oF / gas mark 6) for approximately 10 minutes, until the meringue is nicely browned.




I cant recommend ceramic baking beans enough here!  Over the years I have had many baking blind failures thanks to advice such as “use out of date dried beans, or rice”, so they are a sound investment.





Monday, 9 December 2013

Cranberry and Orange Compote

I had the inspiration for this from one of the lovely recipes I made over and over last summer, Summer Fruit Compote from Delia’s Summer Collection.  In truth, I owe my whole love affair with the cranberry to Delia!  The Winter Collection, published back in 1995 introduced me to the delights of Cranberry and Orange, and I haven’t looked back.  At the time, Delia was crowned the Cranberry Queen, but I think I could safely challenge her!  From the time the red berries appear in the supermarket, towards the end of November, until they disappear, around the end of December, I am obsessed!  My favourite way with them is simply to puree them in the blender with orange juice and enjoy them as a drink!  I think this is possibly an even better way of using them! 

In all honesty, this recipe is my cranberry sauce recipe, I simply added a dollop of cream and served it as a sweet course!  As simple as it is, I felt I had to share it with you all!  As always, you can increase the quantities to your needs and tastes.  I haven’t got much of a sweet tooth, and really enjoy the crisp tartness of cranberries so I have been very meagre with the sugar, do increase this if you don’t want to wince as you eat! 

For two people I used : 

10 to 12oz of fresh cranberries
Juice and zest of a large orange
½ tsp of caster sugar (or more, to taste)

Simply add all the ingredients to a small pan and cook over a low heat for a few minutes, until the cranberries pop and cook down. 

Leave to cool for 10 minutes or so, and then serve with either a dollop of cream, or thick Greek yoghurt.  

I found a lovely Mandarin and Valencia Orange extra thick cream with Grand Marnier at Sainsbury’s and this was perfect with the compote!

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Roast Lamb Chops with Diced Potatoes, Garlic and Rosemary

This is a lovely all-in-one dish, very quick to prepare and full of flavour!  All the pictures below show one serve, because my hubby won’t eat lamb!  Sometimes a girl’s got to do what a girl’s got to do and I had this while he had something he likes!! 

I can’t claim any credit for the potatoes, they are an old favourite of mine from Delia’s Summer Collection, I simply cooked the lamb chops in the tin with the potatoes!!

For two people you need :
2 large potatoes
2 cloves of garlic
1 generous sprig of rosemary 

4 lamb chops
1 clove of garlic
2 anchovies 

Appx 1tb olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste 

Firstly, lay your lamb chops on a chopping board and stab in several places with a good sharp knife.  Push slivers of garlic and pieces of anchovy into the stab holes.  Season on both sides with salt and pepper. 

Dice the potatoes and wrap in a tea-towel.  Dice the cloves of garlic and the rosemary. 

Heat 1tb of olive oil in a roasting pan on the hob, when the oil is hot sear the lamb chops on both sides and then add the diced potatoes, turn over and over in the hot oil.  Add the garlic and rosemary to the tin and toss around so that both the potatoes and lamb chops get a good share. 

Cook in a hot oven, I cooked mine at 200oC (400oF / gas mark 6) for 30 minutes.  The actual cooking time will vary and depend on your oven, the thickness of your chops, how you like them cooked (rare, well done etc), and the size of your potato dice! 

This can be quite a rich meal, with the meat juices cooking into the potatoes, so you might want to serve a nice crunchy green salad alongside, or a nice sharp fruit salad afterwards!

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

Sausage, Bacon and Black Pudding Terrine

I came up with this idea for those of us who love an occasional treat of a Full English breakfast, but who just can’t face all the cooking and frying on a Sunday morning, not to mention all the washing up afterwards! 

Just prepare and cook this terrine on a Saturday afternoon, leave to cool and slice up ready for the morning.  Leftovers can be frozen and simply need defrosting before reheating on a griddle when you want a good breakfast. 

All you need with this are some grilled tomatoes, maybe a fried or scrambled egg and a piece of toast. 

I used : 

1 ½ x 450g packs of Cumberland sausages
250g whole black sausage (cut to fit your tin)
10 medium thickness rashers of bacon 

2lb loaf tin


Firstly line your loaf tin with the rashers (slices) of bacon, overlapping one another and overhanging the sides of the loaf tin. 

Skin the sausages and place in a basin, season to taste with a little salt and black pepper (and some fresh sage if you have some to hand), and then mix to form a large ball of sausage meat. 

Take half of the sausage meat and layer in the bottom of the loaf tin, on top of the bacon.  Cut the black pudding to fit your loaf tin and place that on top of the bottom layer of sausage meat.  Take the remainder of the sausage meat and form it around, and on top of the black pudding, encasing it completely. 

Finally, fold over the overhanging bacon to cover the sausage meat. 

Bake at 190oC  / 375oF  /  gas mark 5 for 45 minutes.  Turn out of the loaf tin and place on an oven proof plate or tray and pop back into the oven to brown the sides and (now) top of the terrine.


You can eat it straight away, or you can leave to cool and slice up, reheating in a griddle pan, under the grill or in the oven when you are ready.


Monday, 22 July 2013


Another of my Greek favourites!  We used to order this lovely stew in Corfu, and I have some very happy memories of that holiday so I had to recreate it at home. 

This is another simple assembly job on these hot summer days. 
If weather is more favourable to standing at the hob then by all means brown the shallots and beef before continuing.  

For two of us I used : 

1 ½ lb diced casserole beef
7 or 8 medium shallots
4 large cloves of garlic
1tb olive oil
1 generous sprig of rosemary, and the same of fresh oregano or marjoram
2 bay leaves
1 x 450g tin chopped plum tomatoes
1tb tomato puree
½ bottle of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste 

Simply add the olive oil to a medium casserole, peel the shallots and garlic cloves and add whole to the pan, add the diced beef and chopped herbs.  Give everything a stir and then add the tomatoes, tomato puree and red wine, season to taste and pop a lid on the pan. 

Pop into the oven and leave to cook quietly.  I cooked mine at 150oC / 275 o F / gas mark 2 for 3 hours.
Serve with chips (French fries) or sauté potatoes,with a Greek salad on the side.  Some crusty bread for mopping up the lovely sauce wouldn’t go amiss either!
* if you have some black olives to hand, a few of those added before cooking makes a nice addition too.


Sunday, 21 July 2013


Continuing the Greek theme, and because it’s simply too hot to be cooking at the moment I thought I’d share this little beauty with you. 

It does need two and a half hours in the oven, but you aren’t required to spend any time at the hob before it goes in!  This is nothing more than an assembly job. 

The recipe given below will serve two, with lots of crusty bread on the side, but you can very easily adjust the quantities to serve more.  You could replace the diced lamb with lamb chops, lamb steaks, lamb shanks or even a whole leg or shoulder depending on the numbers you want to feed.  It’s perfect one pot cooking and will happily cook away quietly leaving you to enjoy the sunshine and the company! 

For two of us I used : 

1tb diced lamb
8 baby new potatoes (two large ones would do too)
4 cloves of garlic
Sprigs of mint, marjoram and rosemary
¼ pint of lamb stock
½ lemon

Salt and pepper to taste
1tb olive oil

In a medium casserole add the olive oil, lamb, baby potatoes and whole peeled garlic cloves.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Either finely chop the rosemary and mint or, pop the large mint leaves and rosemary in a muslin square and tie into a little package.  Bruise the little parcel before adding it to the pan if you do this.  Add the leaves of marjoram and the small mint leaves. 

Halve the lemon and gently squeeze some of the juice from one half over the meat mixture, quarter it and add to the casserole.  Pour over the stock and stir well to combine. 

Cover with a lid and pop into the oven and leave to cook quietly until the lamb is cooked and falling apart.  I cooked mine at 150oC / 275 o F / gas mark 2 for 2 ½ hours, uncovering for the last half an hour.
note : the lemon flavour is quite strong so omit the quarters if you prefer a less lemony flavour.  There will be pips in the finished dish, so take care when eating.

Saturday, 20 July 2013


The recent hot spell, and swim in the sea has reminded me of happy holidays taken in the Med many years ago (when weather like this was commonplace!); and in particular two very happy holidays spent in Greece.  Sidari in Corfu, and Hanioti in Halkidiki specifically! 

For lunch we would take off for the shops and pick up a loaf of fresh bread, a lump of Feta cheese and a big pot of tzatziki.  The four of us would then tear into the bread and cheese and slather it with tzatziki. 

For a recent beach visit I couldn’t resist whipping up a batch of tzatziki for our picnic! 

For two to four people : 

200g Greek yoghurt (I like Total best)
2tb  extra virgin olive oil
1tsp white wine vinegar
2 cloves of garlic, very finely chopped
1” of cucumber, deseeded and diced small
Generous sprig of mint, chopped
Black pepper to taste 

This really couldn’t be simpler, simply whisk the oil and vinegar into the yoghurt, season to taste with black pepper, add the garlic, cucumber, mint and stir well together.  Set aside for half an hour or so for the flavours to develop. 

Serve with warm crusty bread for dipping, and feta cheese on the side. 

Best enjoyed in glorious sunshine, with maybe a bottle of Retsina on the side!

Monday, 3 June 2013

Linguine with Bacon, Parsley and Garlic Oil

I cannot claim any authenticity for this recipe, it must be in almost every cookbook ever written.  Nonetheless, I thought it was worth sharing with you all because it is simply so quick and easy to put together, and absolutely delicious! 

Hubby is off playing cricket today so I was looking for something low effort.  It is much too sunny and warm to be spending time in the kitchen! 

For two people you need : 

200g linguine or spaghetti
6 rashers of bacon (smoked preferably)
1 tb or so of chopped flatleaf parsley
1tsp garlic olive oil 

Cook the pasta according to packet directions. 

While the pasta is cooking, slice up the bacon into strips and brown gently in the olive oil.  Wash and chop the parsley. 

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the pan, then add the contents of the bacon pan.  Add another drizzle of garlic oil if needed.  Add the parsley and mix everything together. 

Season with ground black pepper and an avalanche of grated parmesan cheese.

Friday, 31 May 2013

Holly's First Year

This is the little sweetheart who’s been taking up all of my time these last several months! 

Holly came to us in August last year, at nine weeks of age.  The months since have been occasionally chaotic, very rarely frustrating, frequently funny and always rewarding.  The time I’ve spent buried in dog training, dog behaviour and dog psych books has paid off in spades.  At almost a year old, Holly is a delight.  Full of beans and with a huge personality, she is constantly entertaining and can be playful yet  still gentle.  My 89 year old father adores her, and she him.  She is incredibly gentle and patient with him and loves nothing more than to sit at his side. 

The biggest, and most unexpected bonus, to having Holly join the household is the amount of time we’ve been spending at the beach.  I have long maintained that I have mermaid blood, and Holly was born within earshot of the waves; an afternoon at the beach is the perfect excursion for both of us.  Throughout the winter months there weren’t many weeks where we didn’t pay a visit to the coast.  On one or two occasions these were very fleeting visits, but we got there nonetheless! 

Life around the old homestead has changed significantly too.  From being quite houseproud, I can now often be seen sitting with a cuppa while chaos reigns around me.  My motto these days is “it’s a house where a dog lives”!!  It only takes five minutes to do a quick tidy up, and another five with the vacuum cleaner to restore some order! Holly favours an outside feel to the living room so I am constantly picking up bits of stick, leaves, moss and occasionally muddy grassy clumps where she’s strewn them around.   

The best part of my day now are our walks.  It’s come as quite a surprise how bonding these walks are.  We wander along with me encouraging and praising her while she’s on the lead, calling her and keeping her close-by when she’s off the lead and playing with her when we get to the field.  Despite the mess it makes, and the time it takes to clean her off afterwards; watching her splashing and racing through muddy puddles and getting filthy just reduces me to laughter.  The look of utter joy and delight on her face is impossible to deny! 

The winter months brought their own joys for Holly; Autumn leaves to be chased along, and brought inside endlessly!  For one glorious week in January we had snow.  Proper snow, disruptive snow, drifts of snow, the snow I remember from my childhood.  Holly LOVED it!  I would find her lying outside, flat out on the snow all day, and all night if I’d let her!  She used to love running and jumping through it, catching snowballs and looking to see where they’d disappeared to, but most of all rolling and rolling around in it, making snow dogs!  Another bonus to the winter months were cosy early nights.  Holly and I would often take off for an early night, she curled up asleep at my side, I with my nose buried in a book!

At nearly a year old now she is pretty much fully grown, and is a lovely petite little lady.  She has a beautiful fine coat, with white ‘angels wings’ on her shoulders, white pants and mane.  She has a lovely sweet nature, loving and gentle, she is still full of mischief from time to time and has a huge personality.  For all of that, she is incredibly well behaved and loves to please. 

We’ve been on an incredible journey over the last ten months, and I have loved every minute of it.  Life now is very, very different – but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Holly my darling, here’s to many, many, many more years of chaos xxx

Tuna and Pasta Salad

Almost unbelievably, I’ve managed to get my puppy addled brain into gear, stumble into the kitchen and cook up a new recipe to share with you! 

Waking to a surprisingly warm and summery morning, I wanted something nice, light and summery for lunch.  This tuna and pasta salad fit the bill perfectly. 

It’s based around a recipe from the lovely Bill Grainger, but adjusted to suit my tastes, and what I had to hand at such short notice this morning!  This is a lovely flexible dish, and you can add whatever you have to hand, or whatever you want to.  You can increase or decrease the quantities, depending on how many you are feeding.  It also makes a lovely working lunch; made the evening before, popped into a plastic box and stored in the fridge at work until lunchtime. 

For two of us, this was what I used : 

1 small tin of tuna
1 ripe tomato
3 small spring onions
Zest and juice of a lemon
Appx 1tb of chopped flatleaf parsley
Ground black pepper to taste
½ tb of extra virgin olive oil
120g of penne pasta (or whatever you have to hand).


First drain the tuna and tip into a bowl.  Deseed and slice up the tomato and add to the tuna, cut the spring onions into generous pieces, grate the zest of the lemon and then the chopped parsley.  Add the lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil, season to taste and give everything a good stir and set aside. 

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the packet.  Drain and add to the pasta.  Combine everything well and serve.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Turkey Tetrazzini

I have long been a huge fan of American comedies, and one of my favourites is Everybody Loves Raymond.  We first came across this television gem on our second holiday to the US, back in 2003 and I was entranced.   I loved the food that Marie Barone produced, and a lot of it was unheard of in my little world.  Hubby and I set about finding out about, and trying, as many of these new dishes as possible on our subsequent holidays and at home. 

Current re-runs of the show have reminded me that there are still some we haven’t tried yet.  I had some leftover Christmas turkey in the freezer so Turkey Tettrazini is on the menu!

From what I can see, the original dish is heavy with cream.  My little digestive system won’t cope with that so I’ve given the recipe my own twist and lightened it.  Apologies to my American friends for this! 

For two of us I used : 

100g of linguini, cooked for half of its cooking time and set aside 

1 stick of celery
1 shallot
1 clove of garlic
3 small mushrooms
2oz butter
2tb of flour
1 pint of chicken stock
1 small pot of single cream (150ml)
1oz grated parmesan

Salt and pepper to taste 

About 1 cup of leftover cooked turkey, or chicken

2 or 3 medium mushrooms 

* this sauce will make enough for two dishes, one for now and one for the freezer.  If you prefer not to freeze the sauce, use half of the quantity. 

Finely chop the cleaned celery, garlic, shallot and small mushrooms.  Melt the butter in your pan and sweat the vegetables for 10 minutes. 

Add the flour and stir in until it has all been absorbed in the buttery juices.  Slowly add the chicken stock, a little at a time and stir in well until it is all absorbed and there are no lumps.  Season to taste and cook the sauce over a low heat for 5 minutes, until the rawness of the flour is cooked out.  Add the single cream and the grated parmesan. 

While the sauce is cooking, assemble in a buttered dish the cooked linguini, sliced mushrooms and torn cooked chicken.  When the sauce is cooked ladle half of it over the contents of your dish and set the rest aside to freezer for another time. 

Add a grating of parmesan cheese to the dish and pop into a heated oven (200oC / 400oF / gas mark 6) for 30 minutes or so, until piping hot through. 

Friday, 8 February 2013

Moose Pasta Bake

I found Moose steaks at my local Lidl just before Christmas and I was very keen to try them out.  I already had dried moose shaped pasta (from Ikea) and so this dish was born!  You could, of course, replace the moose steaks with venison or beef, and any pasta shape would do for the bake.  Penne would probably be best. 

In keeping with my belief that life is too short to make pasta bakes on the day, and especially life with a dog (!), I made the meat sauce the day before I wanted the pasta bake.  Meat sauces are always so much better for a day or two sitting around.  I cooked the pasta in the morning and assembled the pasta bake ready to be cooked in the evening. 

To serve two, with another two for the freezer (or four!) I used : 

500g Moose steaks (or diced casserole beef, or venison)
1 large onion
1 stick of celery
2 cloves garlic
2 anchovies
1 sprig rosemary
1 450g  tin of chopped plum tomatoes
750ml bottle of red wine
Salt and pepper to taste 

1 bunch of basil 

200g of dried pasta 
1 or 2 oz of grated cheese

Wash the basil and separate the leaves from the stalks.  Keep the leaves in a bowl of water until later and finely chop the stalks.  Peel and coarsely chop the onion, finely chop the celery and garlic and sweat in 1tb of olive oil for 10 minutes or so, with the chopped basil stalks..  Add the anchovies and push them around the pan until they melt.  Then add the diced meat and brown in the pan.  Finely chop the sprig of rosemary and add that to the pan too. 

Add the tin of tomatoes to the pan and stir, then gently pour in the bottle of red wine and season to taste.  Bring to a simmer on the hob and then pop the lid on the pan and pop it into the oven.  Because you want to keep the lovely rich sauce, I covered the pan with a sheet of foil before putting the lid on. 

Cook in a low oven (140oC / 275oF / gas mark 1) for three and a to four half hours.  You want the meat to be meltingly tender, but not over cooked and a dry sauce so adjust the cooking time accordingly. 

Cook the pasta for half of its cooking time and then set aside.  If you are making the sauce the day before, and pre-cooking the pasta, ensure that the pasta is cold before you add it to the meat sauce. 

Tear the set aside basil leaves and add to the meat sauce, and then add the pasta. Turn into an oven proof dish.  Add a generous grating of cheese and then cook at 200oC / 400oF / gas mark 6 for 30 to 40 minutes, until the dish is piping hot (depending on the dish and your oven).

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Broccoli, Leek & Stilton Gratin

This is another dish to use up the leftover Christmas Stilton!  You could use any cheese you have to hand though. 

The cheese sauce is based on my Grandmother’s recipe (such as it was) and method – i.e. some milk, some flour, some butter and some cheese!  I’ve attempted to quantify it for you though!! 

The recipe for two as a side, or one as a main dish with some ham or bacon as a side is: 

1 head of broccoli
1 small leek
1oz butter 

½ pint of cold milk
1oz butter
1tb flour
1 or 2oz of cheese (to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Prepare the broccoli by cutting into florets and cook in boiling water, then leave to drain. 

While the broccoli is draining, slice the leek and sweat gently in the melted butter for appx 10 minutes.
When the leek is softened arrange on the base of a gratin dish (or shallow oven proof dish).  Arrange the broccoli on the top of the bed of leeks. 

Make the cheese sauce by adding the cold milk, butter and flour to the cooled pan.  Turn on the heat and cook, stirring continuously until the sauce thickens (I use a small hand held wire whisk for this).  Providing the milk was cold you won’t have any problems with lumps in the sauce.  Season to taste, take off the heat and then add the cheese. 

Pour the sauce over the broccoli.  You could add a little grated cheese at this point if you wish, and a sprinkling of cayenne pepper. 

Pop under the grill until the cheese sauce is bubbling.

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Stilton Stuffed Chicken Breasts Wrapped in Pancetta

I came up with this to use up some of the Stilton that was leftover in the fridge from Christmas.  I love Stilton cheese and only ever have it at Christmas, but I went a little overboard this year!  This is a lovely way to use some of it up. 

For two people I used: 

2 chicken breasts
4 slices parma ham
Stilton cheese, to taste (I used appx 1tsp per breast)*
Freshly milled black pepper to taste 

To stuff the chicken, simply butterfly the chicken breasts, season with pepper and dot each with some stilton cheese.  Fold over the top flap of the breasts, wrap in the pancetta and place in a baking dish.  Drizzle them with a little olive oil and give another seasoning of ground black pepper.

Bake in a hot oven (190oC / 375oF / Gas Mark 5) for 30 minutes or so, until the chicken is cooked through.  If any juices accumulate in the dish you can baste the breasts as they cook. 

I served this with some small pasta shapes (orzo) and cooked broccoli.

*You could of course use any blue cheese of choice