Don't waste the flesh of your pumpkins this Halloween. Chop the flesh into chunks along with onions and carrots cut to the same size. Add some crushed garlic, salt and pepper and a few sage leaves. Splash a little olive oil over and mix well before roasting in a hot oven for about 30/40 minutes until soft but not charred. Use to make Roasted Pumpkin Soup or a delicious and colourful Roasted Squash and Blue Cheese Pizza.
I've been cooking on my tiny little barbecue in my tiny little back yard while I wait to move house. All my belongings are in storage. I have one frying pan, a handful of cooking tools and the smallest fridge you have ever seen, with a bloody stupid shelf at the bottom, where all the salad stuff is stored underneath meaning I have to move everything, everyday to get at a friggin' leaf of lettuce. I realise how spoilt I've been in the past in my beautiful kitchen BUT it hasn't stopped me! My local farm shop butchery has been providing me with the best ever flank steak and at about £7 a slab it's an economical steak meal for the three of us here in lockdown. So I've been making fajita's because my friend Nic Miller (follow her on Twitter @nicmillerstale or Insta @millerstale) shared her recipe for wheat tortillas and I wanted to make them. Mine came out square, I'm blaming the lack of a rolling pin. You'll find the recipe and instruction for my fajita seasoned flank steak here. Flank steak is often seen on a menu described as a bavette steak. This is not the cut to use if you don't 'do' rare. The flank has long muscle fibres and can be tough if overcooked, it's also very lean and best sliced thinly across the grain for optimum tenderness. Cook it on a very high heat for 2 or 3 minutes a side and then cover with foil and rest for 10 mins. I generally put mine in the oven after it has been turned off, so no heat, just warm surroundings. Slice and serve rolled in the tortilla with fried onions, peppers, tomato salsa, guacomole, grated cheese, sour cream and slobber your way through.
- Two lovely pieces of flank
- Seasoned and herbed up
- Freeze in bags for later
- Cook over a very high heat and only for a couple of minutes a side
- Slice across the grain once it has rested
- Add your own salsa, avocado and cheese
- they call me square
It's going to be hot this weekend so prepare for some al fresco fire cooking. Make yourselves a jar of dry rub ready for your beef. Spice blends, or dry rubs are rubbed into meat before cooking. Some say that salt should not be included in a rub as meat should be dry brined by rubbing in salt a day in advance, in order for the salt to penetrate the meat. The spices in a rub do not tend to penetrate the meat but will help form the delicious spicy crust (or bark). However as we are all so short of time in our busy lives, I make an all in one rub, mixing the salt into the rub and leaving it on the meat overnight in the fridge. Sugar is a matter of taste and needed to help caramelise the crust. I use just a little on beef. Experiment with your own spice blends and store in an airtight jar. Use on a whole joint of rib eye or sirloin for a real treat.
- Cooked on a high heat over the fire creates a good bark but still pink in the middle
- I had a joint of very lean sirloin which I rubbed and left for 24hrs
- Making the rub in a mini blender is easy
The lockdown and subsequent closure of restaurants has proved a big problem for suppliers to the industry. Creedy Carver duck is just one that has found itself with a surplus stock and limited outlets. It's a superb free range product that generally only the Chefs get their hands on. I got mine from Field and Flower and ate duck breast with my spiced plum sauce made with plums from the freezer.
I never need an excuse to light a fire outside and cook ‘al fresco’ and now it’s officially barbecue season that’s where I’ll be. The golden rule of cooking on a barbecue, or wood fire, is to cook over embers, not flames and to distinguish whether you are cooking something that requires searing rather than slow cooking. So, it’s always best to cook meats that require a fierce heat as soon as the flames have died down, and the embers are still glowing. Then grill ingredients such as fish, which require slower cooking, as the temperature of the fire drops. By mid-summer the herbs in my garden are at their best and plentiful so can be used liberally on barbecued food. Gutsy herbs indigenous/native of the Mediterranean and Middle East work very well in barbecues and include rosemary which adds an aromatic and resinous flavour working very well with fatty and rich meats such as lamb. I like to use the straight, small woody branches for my lamb, onion and rosemary skewers. Oregano and marjoram are both closely related and I still struggle to identify between the two growing in my garden. Oregano has a more pungent and domineering flavour whereas marjoram is slightly more delicate, also faintly savoury and lightly sweet scented. If using oregano then use a little more sparingly. It has a special affinity with tomato based dishes and sauces and works very well when put with lemon and garlic in a marinade. Coriander can be chopped and mixed into natural yoghurt with Indian spices to create a delicious marinade for both chicken and fish. The pungent, slightly citrus flavour marries well with lime zest and juice to make a herb butter which is delicious served on seafood cooked on a barbecue. Dill is often associated with Nordic or Russian cuisine and is used extensively in Persian cuisine. I love it with fish, particularly salmon which barbecues very well. Combined with sumac a Middle Eastern spice which adds tartness and astringency to food it makes a perfect marinade for salmon. Mint adds another dimension to whole grilled courgettes that have been allowed to cool a little and then drizzled with oil, salt and pepper and chopped mint. The same combination is also delicious on grilled halloumi cheese.
Fried aubergine ready for a Caponata salad as Lidl had aubergines for 49p each. Caponata originates from Sicily. Sicilians all have their own version of this slightly salt, piquant aubergine dish, with many variations depending on what vegetables are available. Fennel is very good in place of the celery. Serve hot or cold, but never straight from the fridge.
I made these succulent chicken kebabs, marinated in Indian spices and yoghurt for a budget saving barbecue supper last night. I used chicken thigh meat which is tastier and more succulent than the breast. Use less chilli powder or cayenne pepper if you prefer less kick, although the amount in this recipe won't have you gasping for water! If you do not have all the spices in your store cupboard, don't worry, just substitute all of the spices with curry powder.
Here's a recipe for for our deliciously creamy ranch dip which is the perfect accompaniment to our southern fried chicken or for spooning onto a barbecued beef steak. It's good to serve as a dip with celery sticks, carrot batons and cucumber too. It's quick and easy to make and doesn't require exact measurements if you're in a hurry. Use any soft and creamy blue cheese for the dip with a more crumbly cheese to fold in for texture. You can thin it with a little milk if you fancy using it to dress a salad.
- Add all the ingredients except for the crumbly cheese into a bowl
- until as smooth as you fancy
- crumble more cheese in and leave chunky or blitz a little more
Treacle, Ginger and Orange Bundt Cake
200g/7oz dark muscovado sugar
175g/6oz black treacle
2 tbs ginger syrup from the jar of stem ginger
2 large eggs (beaten)
330g/12oz plain flour
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
75g/2½ oz stem ginger (chopped)
zest of 1 orange
4tbs orange curd
for the icing
zest of 1 orange
4tbs orange juice
140g/5oz icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C/Gas 3
Grease a 10” round Bundt tin and dust a little flour in to ensure a non stick finish.
Place the butter, sugar, treacle and ginger syrup in a saucepan and melt together over a very low heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
Whisk the milk and the eggs together.
Weigh out the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, stem ginger and orange zest.
Whisk the milk and eggs into the cooled butter, treacle and sugar mix, stirring well.
Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing to a smooth batter.
Pour into the cake tine and bake for 45 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool a little in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.
Slice the cooled cake into three layers and spread the orange curd between the layers and sandwich back again.
In a small bowl mix the orange zest and orange juice and heat in the microwave to warm.
Stir in the icing sugar (you may need to add more icing sugar or more orange juice) to get the right drizzling consistency.
Drizzle over the cake and decorate with stem ginger or crushed sugar crystals.
These savoury muffins are an all year round favourite. We like to experiment with different fillings and toppings, these are topped with pesto. Here is the link for our Feta and Peppadew Muffins. Have fun adapting the recipe!
This rice pudding is a little healthier and lower in fat than our other full cream recipe. You bake it in the oven - it takes minutes to prepare and two hours to cook. Well worth the wait.
- 100g short grain/ pudding rice
- 50g caster sugar
- 700ml semi-skimmed milk
- freshly grated nutmeg
- (1 bay leaf, or strip lemon zest for a different flavour)
- Heat oven to 130C/Gas 2.
Butter an 850ml heatproof ovenproof dish.
Pour the rice and sugar into the dish and stir in the milk.
Sprinkle the freshly grated nutmeg over and top.
(Add lemon zest or bay leaf into the milk if using)
Cook for 2 hrs or until the pudding has a brown skin and the rice is slightly wobbly.
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Delicious Indian snacks which are vegan/vegetarian and gluten free.
6 tbs cold water
- large pinch ground cumin
- large pinch of ground coriander
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 4 handfuls of spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh coriander chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp chopped green chilli ( optional)
- good pinch salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- Prepare all of the vegetables. Substitute any vegetables that you don't have with an alternative of your choice. Just about all types of vegetable work.
- Starting at the top of the list of ingredients add all to a large mixing bowl, everything except the oil which is required for frying.
- Mix very well making sure that the vegetables are all coated with a thin layer of batter.
Heat oil in a wok or use a deep fat fryer and drop spoonfools of the vegetables (coated in batter)into the hot oil.
- Cook until browned and the pakora holds its' shape.
- Turn to cook the other side.
- Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
A perfect way to use up all those leftover pieces of cheese in your fridge. All types of cheese can be used. It will keep for a week in the fridge and is a good vegetarian recipe.
225g grated cheese ( chop up cheeses that are hard to grate i.e Brie/Camembert
170g (small tin) evaporated milk
1 very small onion or 3 spring onions finely diced
1 tsp chopped chives
pinch of mustard powder
a little oil or butter for fying the onion
Heat a small knob of butter or splash of oil in a saucepan and soften the chopped onion
Pour in the evaporated milk
Add the grated cheese, mustard powder and a little ground pepper
Stir well until the cheese has melted
Stir in the chopped chives
Pour into ramekins and leave to set in the fridge
Eat spread on toast or with a baked potato