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!
I am going through a phase of trying to use up leftovers and empty my freezer which is no mean feat. As a family we are notorious for hunting down a bargain and raiding the reduced aisle for tasty goodies. In fact there have been several occasions of late where certain members of the family have bragged about stocking up their freezer with organic meat that has been reduced to quite frankly a silly price.
So why pork belly and cranberry I hear you ask, well quite simply a month or so ago I picked up a decent piece of belly pork that had been reduced and it has been sitting in the freezer waiting to be used along with half a bag of frozen cranberries that I bought for Christmas. In the interests of trying to be somewhat more frugal this month I decided to knock to together Sunday lunch using up these ‘scraps’ and I have to say that I was very pleased with the outcome! A beautifully tender piece of pork, crackling, topped with a sticky sharp cranberry sauce – YUM!
Now, whilst I made my cranberry sauce, if you are looking to cheat then just use shop bought cranberry sauce. In all seriousness there isn’t much to this recipe so do give it try, if you don’t make the cranberry sauce then there are really only two steps – how much more simple can you get?! Enjoy.
I have decided to share a recipe that helps to use up one ingredient that has a tendency to be leftover after Christmas – mincemeat. The recipe below is super easy and can be eaten either hot for pudding with a little cream, or is great served cold as a topping for porridge in the morning for breakfast.
The inspiration for this dish came after a visit to East Sussex to see some of my friends who swear by a bowl porridge for breakfast, topped with fresh apple, yogurt, seeds, nuts and honey before a days hunting, shooting or fishing. Not being one for porridge normally, I am well and truly converted and the recipe below is my take on their porridge toppings.
The simplicity of this recipe makes it an absolute gem, it takes a matter of minutes to prepare, the key really to this recipe is about how well you core the apple as you want to create a cavity that is large enough to pack all of the mincemeat in. As the apple cooks it becomes beautifully soft and infuses with the spices and flavours of the mincemeat.
This is definitely a recipe to try and is absolutely fantastic on these chilly winter days. Enjoy!
I was chatting to my housemate about making pastry the other day and she was telling me of a Hawksmoor pie recipe that used both eggs and suet in the recipe and it dawned on me that this would be a great way to make sweet shortcrust. By making the pastry with suet it made the pastry beautifully light and more flaky than crumbly.
The concept of using two types of fat to make the pastry is not a new one, growing up the Delia Smith recipe that I used to follow for mince pies used equal amounts of butter and to make the recipe. However I have found the in using suet you get a far better distribution of fat throughout the pastry which gives it a marbled look when rolled out and it helps to turn the pies a beautiful golden brown colour during cooking.
Now to the mincemeat aspect of this pie – there is absolutely nothing wrong with using shop bought mincemeat! This is exactly what I do however I like to ‘pimp’ it up a bit by adding chopped walnuts, cranberries, glace cherries, plump sultanas and brandy. So if you have some dried fruit or nuts in you cupboard that you would work chuck it in, not only will it add to the flavour it will add to the texture of your pies. Enjoy!
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!
If you are having friends over for brunch, or if you are looking for something simple to cook with your kids for breakfast that is simple and tasty then this is a great little recipe! Cooking pancakes should be straightforward and fun – if a little messy…
These pancakes are very similar to drop scones, they should be relatively small, about 10 cm in diameter making them very quick to cook. I would highly recommend using a non-stick frying pan that has been lightly oiled when making this recipe. If you use too much oil the pancakes will simply absorb the oil as they cook. My tip for oiling the pan is to pour a little vegetable oil onto a piece of kitchen towel and then grease the pan all over, rather than pouring the oil directly into the pan. Also it is always worth doing a small tester pancake to make sure that you pan is hot enough before starting to cooking the pancakes in batches.
The ‘filling’ of the pancakes is a classic combination of apple and cinnamon. As they cook your kitchen will be filled with the a lovely fragrance that I always associate with autumn and crumbles. The syrup adds a sweet and sharp element to the dish that makes the pancakes particularly moreish as they soak up the juices. These pancakes are best served straight from the pan – if left too long they will start to dry out.
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.
Pumpkins and squashes come in all manner of shapes and sizes and in my opinion they are one of the most versatile vegetables that you can cook with. The good news is right now they are in season and fairly cheap to buy! For today’s recipe I have decided to keep things simple and turn butternut squash into a wonderfully velvety soup which is perfect served in a mug for bonfire night or as a starter for a dinner party with crusty French bread on the side.
The vibrant orange colour of this soup is hugely inviting and has the effect of making you warmer simply by looking at it. However, it is the paprika in this recipe transforms this soup – turning it from the sweet delicate taste of the squash into a rich smoky flavour that makes you want to keep going back for more.
This is definitely a recipe to try this autumn/winter whilst butternut squash is in season and at its best. The soup freezes well so can be made up in large quantities and squirrelled away until you need it. Enjoy!
As the dark evenings draw in and the temperature starts to drop off rich stews and casseroles come into their own. The recipe below is a fine example of cooking ‘low and slow’ which results in the meat becoming mouth-wateringly tender and falls off the bone.
Whilst I was in France a couple of weeks ago with some of my school friends, a debate started over what is the difference between a stew and a casserole. After a lengthy discussion and a bit of googling we learnt that stewing is done on the top of a cooker with heat being applied directly to the underneath of the pot; while casseroling takes place inside the oven with heat circulating all around the pot. In both cases the meat is cut up fairly small and cooked in a liquid (stock, wine, water, cider, etc). So it transpires that I have been using the terminology wrongly for many years – whoops.
The recipe below is for oxtail casserole which uses Guinness as a substitute for tomatoes and stock on the basis that it has a lovely earthy and almost bitter flavour which combined with the red currant jelly becomes beautifully mellow. Whilst I cooked this in a cast iron casserole dish this recipe would work really well in a slow cooker, however make sure that you cook it on a low setting for around 6-7 hours.
For presentation purposes I took the oxtail off the bone and served in a roasted squash, which looked lovely. However I have a confession to make, after decanting the casserole into the squash is dawned on me that whilst pretty it was highly impractical, so I ended up tipping it back into the pot before serving and it saved me from one heck of a mess. In hindsight I should have served the oxtail on the bone (2 per person is about right) with wedges of roasted squash and green vegetables on the side. As they say “you live and learn”… Enjoy!