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April 2014 Archives

cooking bacon buttered crumpets

April 29, 2014



Baking things like bread often fills me with dread – bread dread. You’ve got to wait for the yeast, then kneed it, then wait for the oven, wait, wait, wait, wait, wait and usually it comes out not resembling bread, but a small hard stone. Crumpets on the other hand are much more straightforward. They aren’t baked, but cooked on the top stove, which means that they don’t take long to cook and they don’t need to be kneeded.

In fact the most difficult thing about making crumpets is deciding what to have on them. Bacon butter with maple syrup is the one. There, I’ve decided for you.



Find the recipe here

cooking asparagus with roast garlic aioli and pangrattato

April 24, 2014


There was a Facebook group page a few years back that allowed you to take a test to see which vegetable represents your personality best. My friend Natasha proudly told me that she had been deemed ‘an asparagus’. I remember nodding in approval. Natasha is pretty a pretty classy lass, and there’s nowt classier than these ‘ol green fellas.


Asparagus doesn’t stick around for long, so you want to appreciate it, nice and simple. Buttery hollandaise is the obvious pairing, but I think this cheats roast garlic aioli is better because you are at no risk of anything splitting. The crispy breadcrumb element comes from the Italian garnish known as pangrattato, which translates as ‘poor mans parmesan’.The Italians like to sprinkle this seasoned breadcrumb mix over pasta for a bit of crunch, but you can use it in anything. It also looks like sand, so the asparagus look like they’ve just been dug up - something I find thrilling.

If your not mad about asparagus you could serve most vegetables this way, as well as raw crudités.




The recipe in the link is designed for people who don’t have a lot of time, hence the aioli is cheats (mayonnaise mixed with roast garlic). If you want to make your own, put the following in a food processor:

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 egg

  • a big pinch of sugar

  • a big pinch of salt

  • the juice of a whole lemon

  • 1 head of roasted garlic (squeezed out)

  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard

  • 1 raw garlic clove, grated

Whiz it up, then gradually add:

  • about 200ml sunflower or veg oil very slowly, while it’s still blitzing

  • 200ml olive oil

  • a couple of tbsp of boiling water

Taste and see if it needs more lemon juice or seasoning, otherwise you’re done!

Find the recipe here


cooking coconut nests

April 24, 2014


There are some people that don’t like chocolate. There are also people who eat too much chocolate over the Easter period and never want to look at chocolate again until…the following week. These little coconut nests are the antidote to all that Easter chocolate.

If I had it my way I’d have pudding after every meal. But we’re not really allowed to do that are we, being, you know, responsible adults n all. Shame. Tiny little coconut nests aren’t really pudding though are they? They’re just incredibly delicious, bite size coconut morsels of joy – crunchy on the outside with soft and pillowy innards. They are embarrassingly easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients other than desiccated coconut and I’m pretty sure my local corner shop does that. Oh and they’re also gluten free!


Find the recipe here


cooking Pulled Lamb with spring slaw

April 17, 2014


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I quite like Easter. None of the faff of Christmas – no presents to buy that people don’t like, no presents that you don’t like. It’s straightforward – eggs, chocolate, T.V. and maybe a family ritual thrown in. Mine involves my father (err, I mean the Easter bunny) hiding mini eggs around the garden in the most obscure places he can, while my sister and I go on a frenzied rampage to find them. Someone always gets hurt.

But what does one cook for Easter lunch? I’ve got it covered and tied up with a big Easter bow. This ‘pulled lamb’ is a more casual way of enjoying the traditional roast lamb, and it’s much cheaper than buying the leg. It can be piled into burgers, you can go Moroccan and team it with apricot couscous and toasted almonds, or serve it with typical roast dinner accoutrements. It has a spicy crust and is meltingly tender inside, so much so that you can pull it apart with forks rather than slicing it. It takes a day worth of cooking time, so I suggest putting it the oven when you go to bed. There’s no better alarm clock than the smell of pulled lamb. I made a spring slaw to go with mine which is nice because it’s pretty and feels fresh in contrast to the lamb.


Find the recipe here


cooking Roast Purple Sprouting Broccoli Quiche

April 15, 2014


My Riverford veg. box has supplied me with a steady supply of seasonal leafy purple sprouting broccoli these last few weeks and rather than have them as a side, I decided it was time for them to take centre stage and be baked into a quiche.

Essentially this is quiche Lorraine, with the addition of broccoli. But rather than the standard boiling of the broccoli –roasting it gives a more intense flavour, as well as lovely burnished frilly bits that poke out of the top. Of course, this can also be done with normal broccoli, but P.S.B. is much more interesting taste and texture wise, and only in season for about a month longer.


Find the full recipe here


cooking Melty baked Avocado

April 10, 2014


You can feel the love for avocados the world over. I haven’t yet met anyone who doesn’t at least like little green fellas. Megaphone announcement ‘Is there anyone out there??” The benefits to the hair, skin, eyes, nails and general all-round human needs are staggering.

But buying these ‘alligator pears’ can be problematic. Once too often I’ve found them to be either rock hard and neither ‘ripe nor ready’. When you want avocado and you WANT IT NOW– try baking ‘em. The idea of cooking one seems a bit odd at first, but it’s delicious, it’s I hear that it was popular in the seventies, and who doesn’t love a seventies revival. Hello prawn cocktail!

Works nicely with both hard and softer avos, can be baked naked or filled with whatever you like. I went for Italian pizza topping stuffs for the melt factor. If you want to add a bit of crunch, add breadcrumbs to the top.



Find the recipe here


cooking Potted Shrimps with Wholemeal Pita Chips

April 08, 2014



Potted shrimps are an old Lancashire delicacy. The sort of thing you come across in posh hotels and top notch seafood restaurants. Shrimps suspended in butter – what’s not to love? Easy to make – foolproof. I made mine and had them with these pita chips, but they’re also good spread over crumpets or stirred through hot pasta. The butter then melts away, leaving soft, almost confit-ed seasoned shrimps. The butter also seals in the air and preserves them so they keep in the fridge for the best part of a week. If you can’t get brown shrimps, use prawns instead.


For the full recipe go here


cooking Fig and Black Pepper Baked Ham

April 02, 2014

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I had a strong urge to bake a ham this past week. Why is it that ham only gets thought about around Christmas when there’s shitloads of food around then anyway? A home-made ham does take a bit of hob and oven time but it’s minimal effort to prepare and maximum outcome. Make it at the weekend and you are set up for the week. I’m talking sandwiches, soup, lentils, salads or just cut thick and had with whatever is in the fridge.

My ham glaze was improvised, and after a few google searches and cupboard rummaging I decided upon the following. Fig relish (if you can’t get this then ginger jam or any fruit chutney), maple syrup, soy sauce, mustard, crushed black peppercorns and a shot of whiskey. It created a warm sticky slightly fruity coating.



I have concluded that ham is not just for Christmas, it’s for (an easy) life.



baked fin

Find the full recipe here


cooking Flour-less Grapefruit & Almond Pudding

April 01, 2014



Baked puddings can be stodgy. This one ain’t – it’s a summery, light, damp and spongy. I have made these little pudding-like cakes before, but with orange rather than grapefruit. What I love about this recipe is that you don’t waste anything, it uses the the peel, the pips, the pith, the lot.


Using the whole fruit gives the cake a slight bitterness and stickiness, that makes it amazingly moist. It also doesn’t use any flour OR dairy. It’s eggs and ground almonds that do the magic. This is such a simple recipe that I’m pretty sure even my dad could do it and that’s really saying something. My dad hasn’t made a cake since 1976 and uses saucepans for painting brushes.

Find the recipe here