Hello – a little housekeeping message from me – you may be aware that on May 25th 2018 new Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) are coming into force so I need to check that you still wish to receive recipes and chat from me (I hope so!). If you wish to keep them coming then do nothing otherwise use the unsubscribe button below.
Thank you, Anna x
PS As there isn’t a recipe here I’m giving you a photograph of a delicious cake instead, its my Beetroot and Carrot cake (February 2016) why not make one today?
A few of you may recognise this as one of my earliest recipes on these pages. So long ago in fact that it doesn’t even have a photograph. Although I cook my recipes over and over again this is the first time I’ve duplicated one here. The reason being I felt it lacked fanfare originally and is such a reliable and delicious lunch or supper that I thought it deserved a shout out, as they say. Also and somewhat inevitably, I have tinkered with it adding potatoes to the original to make it a complete one pan meal.
It is this sort of dish that I find an absolute Godsend on weekdays when I’m frazzled and need to think of (yet another) family supper that is quick, easy, undemanding, not too expensive and above all delicious – clean plates after all are what we want to see. This ticks all those boxes, cooked in one pan which you can bring to the table, incorporates potatoes, meat and veg along with a super easy spice addition by way of the harissa. I refer you here to a comment I made about the original which still stands – “Crisp skinned chicken sliding off the bone in a spicy red jacket with crunchy greens to give verdant vigour!”
Chicken with Harissa and Broccolini
If you like things a little spicier feel free to add more harissa and if you want it a little saucier, add a glug of white wine with the final teaspoon of harissa.
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 chicken thighs, bone in and skin on
8 waxy potatoes, halved
5 teaspoons harissa paste
1 pack tenderstem broccolini
Chopped parsley (optional)
Preheat the oven to 190. Put the potatoes and oil in a large baking pan and turn to coat. Put half a teaspoon of harissa under the skin of each thigh and squidge a bit to spread. Put the chicken in with the potatoes, season and roast 30 minutes. Towards the end of this cooking time blanch the broccolini in boiling water for 1 minute and drain. Remove the chicken from the oven, stir the last teaspoon of harissa into the cooking juices and then fit the broccoli in and around the chicken and potatoes (put some of the chicken on the potatoes if that helps). Return to the oven for 10 minutes. Season, sprinkle with parsley if you like and serve, this is enough for 2 adults and 2 children but you can multiply it at will.
I adore rhubarb – its sprightly pinkness brings cheer to the sometimes dreary late winter and early spring table. When there isn’t much in the way of home grown fruit around, robust rhubarb persists in growing regardless of the cold, its brave stalks standing proud whatever the weather. Technically of course rhubarb is a vegetable and can be used in savoury applications but this recipe is unashamedly a pud, sweet and lip smacking.
Meringues with their crisp carapace and yielding chewy middles topped with poached rhubarb scented with a hint of orange and finished off with billowing clouds of whipped cream studded with preserved ginger. Properly good. I make this pudding a lot when rhubarb is around – it is a dream of a make ahead and as such I couldn’t recommend it more highly for entertaining. The meringues can be made days if not weeks ahead as long as they are stored in an airtight container. The rhubarb can be cooked a couple of days in advance and kept in the fridge and the cream whipped with the ginger a couple of hours before you need it. You could omit the ginger if it is not your thing and add some vanilla to the cream instead. Finally, baked plums are also delicious when rhubarb is not around and go very well with the ginger.
Meringues with rhubarb and ginger cream
Ideally I prefer to roast rhubarb but in this case your oven is busy with the meringues so I’ve given a stovetop method. If you have done the meringues ahead of time or have two ovens heat the other to 190 and put the rhubarb in a shallow dish with the sugar, orange zest and juice and bake for 15 minutes (see photograph below).
2 egg whites
100g caster sugar
Drop of oil
400g rhubarb, chopped into short pieces
40g caster sugar
1 orange, zest and juice (remember to zest before you juice!)
300ml double cream
1 globe and 1 tablespoon syrup preserved ginger, finely chopped
Preheat the oven to 140 and very lightly brush a parchment lined baking sheet with oil. Whisk the egg whites until stiff (like shaving foam) then add the sugar spoonful by spoonful until satiny. Divide into four blobs on the parchment and fashion into rough nests. Put in the oven, turn down to 120 and leave for 2 hours. They should be spot on but if they are still a tiny bit soft leave in the turned off oven until its cool and they are dry. Meanwhile cook the rhubarb very gently in a pan with the sugar, orange zest and juice until the sugar is dissolved and the rhubarb soft but hasn’t fallen apart. When you are ready to serve whip the cream with the ginger syrup until just holding its shape then fold through the chopped ginger. Put a meringue of a plate, pile on the rhubarb followed by the cream. If you are keen on ginger you can trickle a little more ginger syrup over or grate some orange zest over for prettiness. Serves 4.
Could this be the most useful recipe ever? These flatbreads certainly have the power to transform and are quite delicious. I am not a huge fan of those frisbee like flatbreads or tortillas available in most shops. Flimmy flammy in texture, always rather chewy and disappointing – definitely the single reason I never buy filled wraps. If you are lucky enough to live near a Middle Eastern shop you will probably be able to lay your hands on top notch authentic flatbreads which are an absolute treat. Failing that, make these – they are utterly delicious, soft and pliable, completely moreish – perfect to step in when you may need a pita, wrap or bread roll.
Fajitas in these flatbreads are sensational, try Camp Fajitas, (July 2016) or the Lamb Meatballs (October 2012). Wrap one around a sausage with slow cooked onions or Firecracker Red Cabbage (November 2013) for a Bonfire night treat. If I want to serve these alongside a curry, say the Prawn Curry (November 2012) I will add a scattering of nigella/black onion seeds when rolling out for that naan bread vibe. Use them to dip into hummus or any other dips, Cannellini Bean, Parsley and Lemon dip, (April 2015) or with leftover chilli to fashion an unconventional burrito. If serving them simply torn to go with a stew or dips then roll in whatever you like, finely chopped rosemary or thyme, a sprinkle of oregano, chilli flakes or cumin seeds…. Customise them at your will.
I have tried many, many different recipes for flatbreads and still love those made with a yeast risen dough but these are the ones to turn to in a hurry. I always have yogurt in the fridge and flour in the cupboard – these are super quick, just the mixing of a few ingredients, rolling out and cooking in a hot pan. Life changing.
Quick and Easy Flatbreads
As you can imagine these are at their best when just cooked – this shouldn’t be a problem as they are so good they often don’t make it to the table in our house. If you want to make ahead I recommend you mix the dough whenever it suits and then wrap in clingfilm until you are ready to cook the flatbreads. I often put the dough together in the morning when I have 5 spare minutes ready to whip up the flatbreads later in the day but it will happily sit in the fridge for day if that suits you better. I’ve used most kinds of yogurt and they all work, earlier this week I used a mix of both Greek and natural because I wanted to finish one pot before I opened the other and the flatbreads were perfect. You may need a drop more yogurt or a sprinkle more flour sometimes as flours can behave differently but 200/200 is usually right. I can’t recommend them highly enough!
200g self-raising flour
Large pinch of fine salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus a little extra for brushing the flatbreads for cooking
200g yogurt, any kind will do, I’ve used both Greek and regular natural yogurt or even a mix (see introduction).
Sea salt (optional)
Mix the flour, salt, baking powder, oil and yogurt to a dough. Form into a ball, flatten and divide into 6 (or 4 if you want larger flatbreads). Roll these out on a floured surface until the size of a side plate (now is the time to add any flavourings such as nigella seeds – see introduction). Heat a frying pan over a medium heat, brush one side of the flatbread and put it oiled side down in the pan, cook for a few minutes until turning golden then brush the uppermost side with oil and turn to cook that side. This whole process with take a matter of minutes. Repeat with the remaining dough. Sprinkle with a little salt when warm but I warn you this makes them irresistable…. Makes 6.
When I was working in the City I had a supper that I enjoyed with almost obsessive regularity. There are two reasons for this. Firstly as I got up at 5.30am to get to work, there were no slow braises for me in the evening and secondly it had to be easy to shop for. These days I think nothing of a wander around the shops, market and farmstall seeing what is in season and looks good. Those days I was a single gal enjoying London and perusing the supermarket shelves at a weekend was just not happening. A savoy cabbage which cuts neatly into 4; those little duo packs of pancetta that have the perfect amount in each half, a large pot of creme fraiche and a good bunch of parsley were all I needed. So you see, a short and snappy shopping list and I was set for a weeks worth of suppers.
Did I mind having the same thing every night? No, not only for all the reasons above but mainly because it is so exceptionally delicious. This dish has come back into play because adding a little bacon/pancetta, chorizo or similar often helps with my brassica phobic daughter and this is no exception. Whilst she is still of course aware there is cabbage lurking in this dish, its inherent bitter edge is offset by the creme fraiche, salty savoury pancetta and the generous hit of parsley.
You can serve this with a stew (we had it yesterday with a pot roast of local silverside – heaven), it is perfect with a roast chicken and also works an absolute treat with a piece of white fish. Or do what I did all those years ago, enjoy it in solitary splendour (the cabbage that is, not you) it is a highly satisfying one pot supper.
Savoy Cabbage with Pancetta and Creme Fraiche
You can of course use smoky bacon, it is a matter of history that I use those little packs of pancetta although I have on occasion used a piece of pancetta when I can get hold of it. The nutmeg adds a delicious note of its own making this taste rather like Carbonara with cabbage as my son described it.
65g (or thereabouts) chopped pancetta or bacon
1 teaspoon olive oil
1/2 small (or quarter of a large) savoy cabbage, chopped
1 tablespoon creme fraiche
1/2 small pack parsley, chopped
A little grated nutmeg
Salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a pan with the pancetta and cook done but not quite crispy. Add the chopped cabbage and give it a good stir and let it begin to wilt. Put a tablespoon of water into the pan, stir and put a lid on for 2 minutes. Remove the lid, give it a good stir getting any bits of pancetta off the bottom, add the creme fraiche and a grating of nutmeg and black pepper. You may need a little salt but taste it first as pancetta is salty. Finally stir in the parsley and serve. This is enough for 1 or two as a side but, clearly, easily doubled or tripled.
I am very keen that the recipes I post here are useful to you. They are usually quick and certainly easy, delicious and hopefully ones you will make a mental note to cook again and again. At the same time I am a little wary of offering up recipes you may have made a million times or, worse, telling Granny how to suck eggs….. This had presented me with something of a dilemma. There are, of course, recipes that I have struggled with but after much repetition, tinkering, trial and error I feel I’ve cracked – the question is has anyone else struggled with these so called classics and would you want said recipes?
What persuaded me to feature this Yorkshire Pudding recipe today is that I have a friend who struggles with them. There are two reasons why this shouldn’t be the case, firstly she is an excellent baker, which after all is what you are doing here and secondly, she is from Yorkshire. Both these reasons mean she should be able to whip up a batch of Yorkies without breaking a sweat and yet she tells me they continue to give her gip.
So here are they are, the Yorkshire puds I make. I have tried many different recipes and styles to finally arrive at these. I’ve used a blender for the batter and also mixed by hand. The batter has been rested overnight in the fridge and also used immediately. I’ve tried self raising and plain flour, honestly I’ve done my homework. This is what works for me and I hope will work for you (and especially you Hayley).
I usually give this batter about 20 minutes to rest, mainly because I need to find the muffin tin I cook them in, put the oil in, heat it etc.
200g plain flour
3 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon salt
Preheat your oven to 210 and make sure a rack is in the top third. Put the flour and salt into a bowl and whisk in the eggs one at a time followed by the milk a little at a time beating as you go. If there are any lumps give it a really good whisk and this should get rid of them. I now pour the batter into a jug as it is so much easier to then pour it into the muffin tin. Put the oil into a 12 hole muffin tin, you need enough to cover the base of each hole and put this into the oven to heat up for about 5 minutes. Extremely carefully remove the tin from the oven and pour the batter into each hole. Return to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes. Check after 15 as you may need to move the shelf down to the middle of the oven if they are browning too quickly. This obviously makes 12 but its up to you how many it serves, we (as a family of 4) happily have 2 or 3 each…
Christmas is such a fun yet hectic time and it is all to easy to get overwhelmed with to-do lists (I know this all too well!). I have tried to help myself over the years by getting a few things made ahead and stashed away in the freezer and would refer you to some of the tips in my November 2013 post. I’ve been a bit slow to follow my own advice this year but my Christmas day potatoes are par boiled and waiting for us in the icy depths of the freezer shortly to be followed by some Cheese Gougeres (November 2016) and Cheese Sables (December 2013) which are so handy to be able to whip out and serve with drinks along with the Spiced Cherries in Bacon (November 2013) you see in the picture above.
It wouldn’t be Christmas without a Buche de Noel (December 2014) and I do find it difficult to deviate from my Tiramisu version which we usually have for lunch on Christmas Eve – light yet rich enough to be a treat, creamy and boozy – it is delicious and, I promise, so easy.
A Chocolate Peppermint Tart would definitely not go amiss (December 2014) or perhaps a Chocolate Pudding Cake (December 2012) which you could make today and freeze if that makes life easier for you.
It is not just puddings around here and we won’t go more than a couple of days without a crunchy, fresh salad gracing the May table – two favourites at this time of the year are, appropriately enough my Christmas Salad (September 2013) – an absolute winner with cold meats or cheese, crunchy and full of flavour. My other can’t-do-without salad right now is Celeriac Remoulade (January 2016) – this funny looking vegetable is pretty underrated but this salad is a knock out.
Finally, it wouldn’t be Christmas without mincemeat making an appearance and I find these Oaty Mincemeat Shortbreads (December 2015) the most delicious and easiest version of mince pies. A matter of minutes to rustle up a tray of them and they usually take about the same length of time to disappear.
I feel I’ve neglected these pages over the last few months due to a lot of building work and decorating going on. I intend to be back in full force with an array of delicious, everyday family food to excite you with. Happy Christmas and here’s to a fabulous New Year.
There is a definite nip in the air this morning and I feel we are now fully enveloped in Autumn and the treats it brings. There is bonfire night to look forward to which always reminds me of those when I was a child. Nibbling enthusiastically on a toffee apple but shamefully becoming bored once past the sugar and faced with the apple. Hot dogs which inevitably leaked ketchup onto my woolly gloves and the glowing face that comes from a huge bonfire.
It is then a speedy tumble towards Christmas but I don’t want to become distracted by this end of the year fiesta and rather enjoy now. Frosty mornings which lead to sunny but cold days, leaves changing colour then falling and the sparse bleakness of the garden. On the flip side there is sloe gin to be made and stashed away, fires to be lit and all those culinary delights that were cast aside somewhere around early April. Stews, hearty gratins and bakes, crumbles and cobblers filled with all manner of orchard fruits. Rib sticking food to keep out the cold and to enjoy around the table with family and friends as the daylight fades.
My previous recipe for a galette was a nectarine and cherry one (August 2013) and it seemed long overdue to offer a more autumnal version, this fits the bill perfectly. Unlike that summer version which suggested using bought pastry for speed (summer holidays and all) this time I make the pastry but you should do whichever works for you (I won’t judge). I have used plums here because I can’t resist their juicy tartness, the perfect foil to crisp sweet pastry but you can just as easily use a few crispy apples (eaters not cookers here) perhaps adding a little cinnamon along with the lemon juice. We have enjoyed this two or three times over the last week or so, my children love it with ice cream, I prefer it with cold pouring cream but can’t help thinking a really good vanilla custard would probably bring the house down.
The amount below is just right for the four of us, a generous quarter each but then none left winking at me from the counter begging me to finish it (for which I am grateful). The one in the photograph is simply this amount doubled and it happily served seven. You only need a teaspoon of beaten egg for the glaze so take it from another egg that is being cracked for another purpose if possible otherwise use milk.
100g plain flour plus a heaped teaspoon extra
60g cold butter, cubed or grated
A good pinch of fine salt
60g caster sugar, divided in two
30ml cold water
6 plums stoned and each cut into sixths
Squeeze of lemon juice
A teaspoon or so of beaten egg (see introduction)
A dessertspoon of demerara or caster sugar
Preheat the oven to 190. Put the flour and butter into a medium size bowl and rub together with your fingers. There isn’t really enough to justify getting a food processor out. When it looks like breadcrumbs add the salt and 30g of sugar followed by the water, bring it together into a ball, wrap in clingfilm and leave somewhere cool for half an hour. Mix the plums with the teaspoon of flour, remaining 30g of sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. Roll out the flour to a rough 30cm circle and place on a parchment lined baking sheet, tumble the plums onto the pastry leaving a good gap and turn this pastry edge over the plums. Brush with your glaze, egg or milk and sprinkle with the dessertspoon of sugar. Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown on top and crisp underneath.
I have a feeling these greens could be magic. My daughter really doesn’t like broccoli, in fact she has an aversion to most green veggies, however not only will she happily help herself to these without encouragement (bribery) but will have seconds. Unbelievable. I’ve mentioned before that its one of my life’s works to find a way my children will enjoy all, or most, vegetables and this is one of those successes. I imagine the garlic and soy sauce go a long way towards making these so ridiculously delicious. Whatever it is, I maximise the advantage and these are served regularly at my table alongside all manner of stir fries or anything with an Asian note.
Quick, healthy, cheap, delicious – what is not to like about this dish. I am happy to tuck into these for a lone lunch and indeed ate, or rather greedily scoffed, the greens you see in the picture for lunch today. A side of rice would have worked well to soak up the delicious sauce but I didn’t even get round to that. We had something like this at Wagamama and loved the simplicity and crunch so couldn’t wait to have a go making it myself. I suspect the original may have some additional ingredients but I couldn’t suss them and regardless love the pared down ingredients in the recipe below as much as the flavour. You could add a pinch of chilli flakes if you want or a squirt of Sriracha to the greens but honestly, they don’t need it.
Greens with Garlic and Soy
Use any crunchy greens that catch your eye. I always use broccolini and pak choi as that was what I had first had. This time I’ve added the last of the green beans from the garden and you could use regular broccoli if that is what you have. Going completely off piste, carrots work well in this application although they take longer to lose their raw crunch so bear this in mind before you add the garlic and soy. Just thought you should know.
1 tablespoon oil
1 head of pak choi cut into sixths lengthwise
A handful of broccolini (around 8 stalks)
A handful of green beans, topped, tailed and halved
1 clove garlic, finely sliced
1 teaspoon sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce or tamari if you prefer
Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the vegetables and stir fry for 4-5 minutes until just losing their rawness and gaining a little colour. Put in the garlic and stir quickly so it doesn’t burn followed by the sugar and soy sauce. Cook for a further minute stirring all the time and then serve. This is enough for 2 with rice for lunch or 4 as a side.
We have had masses of building work done over the summer, hence my silence on these pages. Some days I had a kitchen to use, other days not so much. Once the Aga was decommissioned I moved onto a two ring gas hob (no oven) and once that was a goner it was braais or picnics. There have certainly been some stressful moments and I have deposited more money in the swear box than I care to think about. My poor husband and children have had to put up with a lot of unusual suppers from a rather mad-eyed cook but it was worth it and we now have a fabulous new kitchen.
The thing about being put on the spot kit wise is that it really focuses the mind. If all the gadgetry has been boxed up (or just covered in dust) and there is only a pan to hand then one must make do. One such recipe that came into play was this pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley. Comprising of store cupboard and garden ingredients this can be reliably whipped up with the minimum of equipment, time or energy. On one occasion I also added a pile of halved cherry tomatoes because I had some that needed using up. It is certainly just as good without and I wouldn’t use tasteless winter (or jetset) tomatoes for the sake of it.
I highly recommend making this whether you are enjoying building works or not – it is cheap, very cheerful and everyone, particularly the children love it – what could be better (apart from a new kitchen).
Pasta with bacon, garlic, chilli and parsley
As with many of my recipes this is open to interpretation – if you adore bacon then add more; if your children can’t bear chilli then leave it out. The parsley is very much an ingredient here rather than merely a garnish but if the green stuff horrifies your little ones……
6 good fat rashers of smoked streaky bacon
2 large cloves of garlic
1/4 teaspoon dried chilli flakes
1/2 bunch parsley
300g pasta of your choice
Get your pasta cooking in a large pan of generously salted water. Put a tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and snip (I find scissors easiest here) the bacon into it. Cook until just turning crispy then add the garlic and chilli, stir it around over a gentle heat ensuring the garlic doesn’t brown. When the pasta is done, drain it retaining a little of the cooking water. Tumble the pasta into the frying pan and mix well with the bacon, garlic and chilli adding a splash or two of cooking water to keep the whole thing quite slippery. Chop the parsley over the top, season well and serve with parmesan if you like. This amount is enough for two adults and two children.