My day always kicks off with a strong cup of coffee, it is my one vice that I simply can’t do without. I love the ritual of making it, packing the coffee grounds into my percolator and then waiting the five minutes for it to brew whilst the blissful aroma fills my kitchen. The only downside is that I have a tendency to gulp the coffee down in a matter of minutes before dashing out of the door to catch the train to work.
At the weekend when time is not of the essence a lazy brunch with lots of coffee is how I like to start my day before heading out to walk Oscar up on Wimbledon Common. The recipe below is a fantastic brunch option that is very simple to make and absolutely scrummy. If you are efficient it can be prepped and on your plate in under 10 minutes.
The key to this recipe is not over cooking your poached eggs so that the yolk is still runny when you cut into it and creates a beautifully rich sauce. In essence poaching an egg is very straight forward, however sometimes it takes a couple of tries to work out the timings. My tip for poaching an egg is to put a ¼ teaspoon of vinegar in the poaching water and make sure that the water is simmering whilst the egg is cooking not boiling.
This is a fantastic recipe full of vibrant colours that is a great way to start your weekend. Enjoy!
Christmas is well and truly on its way with Christmas parties happening left, right and centre! Lately I have been making a lot of mince pies and whilst I like them I have to admit I am more of a savoury person, so last weekend I decided to try out a new recipe more in line with an open topped pork pie.
I have to give credit to Cockburns of Bedale who are the real inspiration for this recipe – for many years when I visited my eldest brother up in Yorkshire we would go to this butchers early on a Saturday morning to buy their open topped pork pies still warm from the oven for lunch (that is if they lasted that long…). If you are ever on the on the A1 heading through Yorkshire, I highly recommend that you make a little detour via Bedale and visit this butchers to try one of their pies, I promise you will not regret it!
Whilst the pies have similarities to a pork pie they are not made using hot water crust pastry. Instead this pie recipe uses a shortcrust pastry made with beef suet, the pastry case is then filled with spiced pork meat and topped with homemade cranberry sauce – delicious savoury sweet goodness! The pies make great canapes at a drinks party as they are surprisingly light but absolutely moreish.
The recipe below does have a lot of steps, however if time is not on your side and you need a quicker option, then simply follow the cheat options below.
Cheats option / time saver:
Use shop bought pastry.
Replace the pork mixture with some festive flavoured sausages instead and simply remove the meat from the skins.
Use shop bought cranberry sauce preferably containing whole berries.
Molten cheese oozing between layers of potatoes and smoky crispy bacon pieces – do I really need to say any more? As I write this recipe I am sorely tempted to sneak out to the shops an buy another Reblochon as I adore this recipe (my waistline less so…)
If you like cheese, but haven’t tried Reblochon before I implore you to try this Tartiflette recipe. However be warned this little number is not for the faint-hearted. It incredibly rich and will require you to have worked up an appetite, or to have a lazy afternoon ahead of you so that you may quietly slip into what I like to consider a ‘food coma’ (an afternoon of dozing in front of a fire).
Reblochon is an unpasteurised mountain cheese that comes from the Haute-Savoie in France – it has a soft rind that you can eat and a gooey middle. It has quite a strong smell so if you aren’t cooking with it straight away I would keep it in a Tupperware box in the fridge. That being said its taste is surprisingly delicate and nutty which matched with the waxy buttery potatoes and the saltiness of the lardons is absolutely scrummy. Definitely one to try this winter – Bon Appétit!
I’m back to cooking low and slow – as I’ve mentioned before it is a very simple way of cooking in terms of effort. The key is to ensure that you have plenty of time to let the meat gently cook, it should not be rushed and don’t be tempted to turn up the heat to speed up the process. By cooking the meat low and for a long period of time the meat will become beautifully tender and become infused by flavours of the herbs and spices.
The dry rub has a slight warmth to it from the combination of chillies used and cayenne pepper however it is not over powering. The smoked paprika and chipotle chilli flakes give the dry rub a wonderful aroma of barbecues and bonfires which adds to the overall flavour of the pork. If you don’t have smoked paprika in your spice cupboard at home I would strongly recommend getting some and giving it a try – it is great in soups, chilli con carne and hummus.
I cooked the pulled pork in my slow cooker on the lowest setting. If you don’t have a slow cooker then cook it in a heavy casserole (with lid) and cook in the over at 120°C for 6-8 hours.
serve as you would fajitas with homemade salsa, grated cheese, sour cream and guacamole. If you are looking to be slightly healthier then replace the tortilla wraps with lettuce leaves; or
serve in brioche buns with barbecue sauce, coleslaw and chips.
I suspect that you will be somewhat surprised to hear that the inspiration for this pie recipe was ‘Beef Wellington’- well to be more specific the mushroom duxelle and the pastry elements of it. There is nothing complicated about this recipe, it is just simple ingredients cooked well and left to speak for themselves.
“Tender chicken in a silky mushroom sauce topped off with crunchy flaky pastry – comfort food at its best!”
The filling can be made up in advance kept in the fridge for 1-2 days until it is needed which makes it a fantastic option for mid-week entertaining or to have in reserve if life is particularly busy – if you are doing this then cover with the pastry just before putting in the oven otherwise the pastry may dry out in the fridge.
The recipe below is a little gem as it can be prepped and ready to eat in just over 20 minutes and works well both as a main meal or starter. It is packed full of veggies meaning that you are well on your way to meeting your “5-A-Day”. I am not really the type of person to talk about ‘clean eating’ as I am of the view that if you make something from scratch more often than not it falls into that category – that being said, for those of you that are looking for a healthy option for supper this recipe is right up there!
There is no denying that this is a ‘rustic’ recipe – in other words the presentation lacks finesse. However, the variety of vegetables used in this dish means that your plate is filled with vibrant colours making it draw the eye and entice the eater. The flavours complement one another giving a delicate balance between sweet, salty and creamy. Ladies and Gents, if you like mushrooms then this is one to try as it is tasty no nonsense cooking. Enjoy!
Last Easter my brothers and I met up in Yorkshire for a weekend of walking, eating and sampling one or two of the local drinks… Unbeknownst to my brothers I decided that we needed to balance out the gluttony of the weekend with a healthy meal. Now, for those of you that know my brothers you will appreciate that a mackerel salad would not be their first choice, so much so that when I first told them that mackerel salad was on the menu for Sunday lunch they quickly suggested a walk to the pub for a pre-lunch beer, which then led to another and another … it is safe to say that the mackerel salad did not happen that day.
However the following day there was no escaping the Mackerel salad as I prepared it before the boys were up. I suppose you are wondering why I persisted with the Mackerel salad, well first up despite the boys protests I was pretty sure they would like it. Secondly, I wanted to see if it was enough of a meal to stop them feeling hungry. The good news is that the boys were both pleasantly surprised and full, thanks to this protein rich salad. Win!
The recipe below, serves one person, but can easily be multiplied to cater for more. As with any salad you can chop and change the ingredients according to what you have available. If you are entertaining / hosting a dinner party then I would suggest serving as a starter and reducing the quantities by half. If however you are having friends over for lunch then adapt the recipe to cater of the right number of people and present on a large platter so that people may help themselves.
Alternatively if you are looking for a packed lunch ideas, this salad can be made up the night before and stored in a Tupperware. My only advice if you do this: (1) do not quarter the boiled egg until you are ready to eat; and (2) keep the vinaigrette separate in a little jar to prevent the salad going soggy overnight.
Preparation time: 10 mins
1 smoked mackerel fillet
1 handful of mixed salad leaves
¼ avocado (diced into cubes)
5-6 cherry tomatoes (halved)
1 small piece of carrot (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of cucumber (peeled and cut into strips using a potato peeler)
1 small piece of red pepper (thinly sliced)
5 black olives (stoned and halved)
2 slices of stale baguette
Juice of 1/2 a lemon
1tsp fresh dill (chopped)
salt and pepper
Note: the quantities for the vinaigrette will be enough for 4 people.
First prepare your croutons: slice the stale baguette into cubes, place in a baking tray and drizzle over a little olive oil (roughly 1 tablespoon) – make sure that each side of the bread has a little oil on it. Place in a preheated oven on at 190°C and bake for roughly 7- 10 minutes or until golden brown.
Next prepare the soft boiled egg: place an egg in a saucepan with a little salt and cover the egg with boiling water. Boil the egg on a medium heat for 6 minutes, then pour away the boiling water and fill the saucepan with cold, set to one side and leave to cool for a couple of minutes.
Whilst the egg and croutons are cooking prepare your salad: place the salad leaves on a plate to form a base, add the carrot, cucumber, red pepper, cherry tomatoes, avocado and olives.
Remove the skin from the smoked mackerel and place on top of the salad and scatter over the croutons.
Prepare your vinaigrette: pour the lemon juice into a jam-jar, add an equal amount of olive oil, the dill and salt and pepper. Shake well.
Finally peel your egg and carefully cut into quarters (the yolk will be runny) add it to the salad, before pouring over a little of the dressing. Serve immediately. Enjoy!