Vegetable Risotto

1 finely diced onion

2 ribs of diced celery (optional)

1 diced carrot (optional)

2 cloves of garlic

400g arborio rice

1 small glass of wine (about 120ml)

1.5 litres stock (My favourite is Marigold Bouillion)

2 tablespoons butter


freshly grated parmesan, to taste

salt and pepper



This is a great base recipe and can be adapted to lots of different flavours. The carrot and celery is optional, but does up the vegetable quotient. I have added roasted veg, a blob of pesto, pancetta, frozen peas and sweetcorn, leftover roast chicken, prawns or even a poached egg. The combinations are endless. It’s also lovely just as is.


Firstly, boil your kettle. You will make the stock (either homemade or with a cube or boullion) and leave it simmering in a pot on the hob, beside your risotto pan.

Melt the butter and a teaspoon of oil in a large wide bottomed pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium low heat until gently softened.

Now turn the heat up a little and stir in the rice, letting it cook for a minute.

Now add the wine and cook for one to two minutes – the alcohol will cook off.  Next, turn the heat down a little and add the stock, ladle by ladle slowly stirring until each ladle is absorbed into the rice. You’ll want to let the rice gently break down and soften. This will take about 20-25 minutes.

The risotto will be ready when it is al dente and the stock has been absorbed – Note you may not need all the stock, this is about knowing by eye when you have used enough.

Now add the second spoon of butter and stir into the risotto. Serve with lots of grated parmesan.

Mushroom and vegetable risotto, with rocket

Leftover chicken and chorizo risotto

Roast mixed veg and pancetta

Simple pea and sweetcorn, with optional roast mushrooms!

Finely diced veg and pancetta – the ultimate fave in our house


Chicken with tarragon and sundried tomatoes



This is an old favourite of ours and one we ate all the time pre-children! It was fast to make coming in from work and yielded a speedy tasty bite (in front of an episode of the Sopranos, glass of wine in hand – how times have changed!) Be sure to marinate the chicken first though, so that you are ready to go.

The following feeds two generously:-


2-3 chicken breasts, sliced

2 tablespoons paprika

1-2 lemons juiced (depending on the yield, usually  one and half – enough for around 5 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

100g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

salt and pepper

some reserved pasta water

200g pasta (tagliatelle or pappardelle are nice here; any will do!)

Mix the lemon juice, garlic paprika and tarragon in a (non metallic) bowl, then add in the chicken and some seasoning and mix well to coat. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (this can be done up to the day before.

When ready to cook, put your pasta on.  You will need to reserve some of the cooking water, I usually scoop out 200 mls towards the end of cooking (just shy of a cup) but rarely use it all. Don’t forget to do this before the pasta is drained! (this has happened)

Heat a spoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later. Fry this off sealing it well. Because the meat is quite finely sliced, it won’t take long to cook through.

Now add the reserved marinade, plus a bit of the pasta water and stir to make a bit of a sauce, enough that will coat the pasta.

Follow by adding the tomatoes and creme fraiche and allow this to heat through, stirring gently to incorporate.

Now add the cooked drained pasta and mix gently to coat in the sauce and serve. 


Italian style shakshuka or eggs and beans

Hello lovely people 😉 I haven’t done a post in an age, even though there are quite a few drafts just waiting here for my attention – oops! This one is a very handy and tasty one pot wonder which is enough for four for a light lunch or brunch or two hungry people for dinner!

2 tblsp olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red pepper, chopped

2 portobello mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp italian dried herb mix

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tins cherry tomatoes

2 tins cannellini beans, drained

handful of baby spinach leaves

4 large eggs

salt pepper and grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a large shallow pan – I love using my cast iron 30cm pan which comes with a lid and is probably my favourite piece of kitchen equipment. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, pepper and season, allowing the veg to soften but not colour too fast.

Add the dried herbs, puree, tinned tomatoes and beans and stir to combine, allowing them to simmer for a few minutes. Follow by adding the spinach, more than you think you need as it shrinks to nothing! Once the veg base has reduced a small bit and is looking good – about five minutes, make 4 wells and crack an egg into each. Season and let this gently simmer with the lid on (use a baking tin if your pan doesn’t have a lid) until the eggs are set – about five minutes.

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with toast.

or bacon on the side 🙂

Super Easy Satay Drizzle


I wondered what else I could title this post to convince you all to make this sauce! It is really easy and can be used for lots of things. A drizzle over grilled  chicken, a dip for satay sticks, a salad dressing or to finish off a stir fry. Even use it to dip vegetable sticks or a spoon 😊 – you will find no judgement here!


The recipe below makes about 150-200ml depending on how you thin it out and since it will last in the fridge you can certainly double it.

4 tblsp peanut butter (I use one without added salt, sugar or oil)

2tblsp rice wine vinegar

2 tblsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tblsp maple syrup

2 tblsp sriracha

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

pinch sea salt

warm water to thin, as required

Mix all ingredients carefully in a bowl until well combined and voila! Add water spoon by spoon until you get your desired consistency. I usually add 3-4 tablespoons, which thins it out nicely.

To make the chicken skewers, I marinated some fillets cut into strips lengthwise in some sriracha and soy. I then threaded them onto presoaked wooden skewers and grilled them until cooked through. Beware packing the chicken on to tightly or it will take longer to cook!


Kimchi Pancakes


Kimchi is a fabulously tasty Korean staple made from fermented salted vegetables, usually chinese cabbage. It has hugely grown in popularity since the discovery of the benefits of fermented foods, so that it’s very easy to buy a jar (no I will not force you to make your own!) It is traditionally served alongside Korean dishes and rice bowls and in pancakes but now finds its way in lots of  dishes including scrambled eggs, pimping a fried-egg-on-rice, salads, burgers, cheese toasties but here today is my simple version of a kimchi pancake.

100g kimchi, chopped

200g finely chopped/grated vegetables – I used peppers, scallions, courgettes and carrots, sometimes a little coriander

3 tblsp kimchi juice

120g flour

2 eggs

1-2 tsp sesame seeds

Oil for frying the pancakes

First of all get to chopping and grating your vegetables and mix them in a medium sized bowl. I grate the courgette and carrot and finely chop the peppers as grating peppers grates on my sanity quite literally. Chop the kimchi and mix it together with the vegetables.

Now beat the two eggs together with the kimchi juice.

Mix into the vegetables, until combined.

Now add in the flour and mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and spoon mounds of the mix into the hot pan (careful!) they take two to three minutes each side or so to cook through and colour so keep an eye.


This pancake can also be cooked whole in one go and then sliced into wedges – it is more difficult to flip!


Serve with a dipping sauce, something like soy with a dash of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil works well here with some sesame seeds (toasted or otherwise) for good measure



Mini Strawberry Bakewells

These little beauties are a sort-of version of something I remember baking with my Nana when I was really tiny. She called them chelsea buns but I don’t think they were. We would bake treacle bread, buns, soda bread and cakes in her red formica kitchen and I can remember so clearly her hands deftly forming the pastry and making it look like the easiest thing in the world.

I have taken a short cut here by using a roll of ready made pastry – this means you can have these babies in the oven in about six or seven minutes flat! It’s also a handy solution to the request to bake something from the kids as they can throw it together before they lose interest in the process!

I packet of shortcrust pastry – 320g sheet works well here (there will be a bit leftover)

100g ground almonds

100g butter, softened

1 large egg

100g caster sugar

1.5 tblsp plain flour (and some extra to roll out the pastry)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

A small handful of berries (vague but look at the pictures, you need less than 100g of berries to fill these bun tins!)

1 tblsp flaked almonds

I roll out the sheet, sprinkling a little flour to prevent sticking and stamp out 12 discs using a 9cm cutter, placing them in a good old fashioned bun tray. A handy tip – roll out the sheet using the paper underneath and a touch of flour on top, then when you cut out the discs place them upside down in the tray (flour side down) so there will be no sticking. This will make them easy to take out.

Now beat the egg, caster sugar, flour, vanilla and ground almonds together until smooth and spoon into each of the cases – don’t worry too much about smoothing it out, it will all be grand.

Add your chopped fruit of choice – I have used chopped strawberries here, but blackberries, raspberries, blueberries (no real need to shop these) or a mix of berries are all fantastic. You really don’t need that many and it’s a great use of a few lonely ones in your fridge.

Sprinkle with a few flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool for a moment in the tray before removing carefully to a rack. They are pretty fantastic warm too. They freeze well and so can be made in advance and thawed and reheated for a few minutes in the oven to revive.

Chipotle Salmon Fishcakes

These little beauties came about from an ostensibly long list of ingredients – but bear with me! Most of them are storecupboard and then you really just need a pack of salmon darnes. I’ll even wager one of those packs of precooked hotsmoked salmon fillets  wouldn’t be the worst to use in a pinch either. The recipe will make about eight to ten  6 – 8cm cakes. The first time I made them we ate them in the small size with a dip and a beer, the second time I made them slightly larger with a salad for dinner. You can exchange the lime for lemon or use a mix of the two.  The recipe would feed approx three adults with sides.

2 salmon darnes (240-250g total)
1 shallot finely diced
a three finger pinch of dried chipotle chilli flakes
fresh basil and dill, finely chopped – a nice handful 😉
2 tblsp chopped capers
50g mayo
1 tsp lime zest
1 tblsp lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 heaped tsp dijon mustard
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
50g panko breadcrumbs and more for coating the cakes
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
oil for frying

creme fraiche mixed with lime zest and chopped fresh basil to dip

Begin by preheating your oven to 180c and lining a small tin with foil and a slick of oil. Season the darnes and lay them on the foil. Roast in the oven until just cooked, then set aside to cool.

Meanwhile mix the egg, breadcrumbs, capers, garlic, fresh herbs, mayo, lime zest and juice, spices and dijon together with some seasoning in a bowl. Add the cooled salmon in flakes and mix until combined.

Now shape them into cakes, they can be stored covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

When you are ready to cook, heat a few spoon of oil in a large frying pan until medium hot (not mad not or the cakes will scorch) place the remaining panko breadcrumbs on a plate and briefly turn each cake in the crumbs, pressing gently, before adding to the pan – you may have to do this in batches.

They should take a few minutes each side depending on the thickness – you can press each cake down slightly if you like. Keep them warm in the oven while you cook the rest and then serve with the dip and a cold beer!


Slow Cooker Spaghetti Bolognese

So we did eventually get through January  but yet I can’t quite see the end of cold weather.  That does not seem fair, right?! Life is picking up pace and dinners are a little more, well dull and while it’s too difficult to heave oneself onto the saintly side of the table (well me anyway) during the week I am looking for simple and comforting, but not at the expense of time and labour. I know the title probably excited nobody, but bear with me. This gem yields stealthy reward for little or no early-in-the-day effort. All it asks is that you give it five minutes of your time and that glass of wine that you are NOT having till Friday right?! My kids love spag bol and this makes a nice big double portion -one for now, one for the freezer. Win win.

800g mince beef – I use the the 5% fat for this one (Aldi 380g packs of organic lean mince are spot on)
1 large onion, diced (Or cheat and use your eye to measure the same quantity of frozen diced onions!)
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
130g pack of diced pancetta
2 tblsp dried oregano
1 tblsp dried marjoram
1 tsp brown sugar
1 tblsp balsamic vinegar
1 x150g tin tomato puree

2 tins of  diced tomato
150ml red wine

salt and pepper to season

Panfry the pancetta in a small pan – briefly – it does not have to be cooked through. Mix remaining ingredients in the slow cooker and then add in the pancetta.

Set on low for 8 hours.

Serve with spaghetti and oodles of freshly grated parmesan.

Butterbean and Rosemary Soup

I am a sucker for a bowl of homemade soup and this is a fantastic solution for when you truly think you have nothing in your cupboard. You do! It’s ready in minutes and is so warming.

1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tblsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
knob of butter and a dash of oil
2 tins of butter beans, drained
1 litre of stock (I love Marigold boullion and always have it in my larder)

Melt the butter and oil in a medium pot and slowly saute the garlic and onions for a few minutes, without colouring them.

Now add in the rosemary (doesn’t it smell lovely?!) Add in the drained beans and stir, then follow with the stock. Allow to simmer for 10-15 minutes, then blitz to a smooth velvety consistency.


I sometimes swirl a teaspoon of fresh pesto on top if I have some which adds a little color and a nice extra dimension, but it’s perfectly delicious on its own.

Home made Hamburgers with Bacon Jam

We have been feasting on yummy bacon jam this week. On our burgers, on a fried egg, on an open goat cheese sandwich, on a spoon (hmm) It’s quite the friend to lots of things. The following recipe is dead easy and requires just a gentle eye and slow cooking and bubbling. The reward is great and it measures a decent jar, which keeps for about a week in the fridge, theoretically.  I’ve included a recipe for homemade hamburgers too, one of the ways of channelling said jam to your belly!

Homemade Bacon Jam

260g pancetta (basically two of the double packs from the supermarket)

1 large onion, diced

2 tsp liquid smoke (if you don’t have this you can use the smoked pancetta – it does add a lovely flavour)

2 tblsp dark brown sugar

3 tblsp maple syrup

3 tblsp cider vinegar

3 tblsp strong coffee

water, as needed throughout

In a heavy pot, begin by frying the pancetta until it begins to crisp, remove to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Add the onion and garlic and gently soften until they being to soften.

Add the bacon back in and all the other ingredients except the water. Cook up until the onions are very soft and simmer on a low head for 90 minutes or so, stirring every so often.

Check every 15 minutes or so and add a few tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture, stirring it in again. It will smell gorgeous!

When it is rendered, glossy and jammy looking, let it cool and then decant into a food processor where you can pulse it a few times – I liked mine with a bit of texture but you can of course make it smoother if you like. Jam will keep in a clean jar for about a week in the fridge.


Homemade Hamburgers (makes 6)

600g mince beef

1 shallot, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 egg

30g breadcrumbs

1 tsp dijon mustard

1 tsp tomato puree

salt and pepper to season

I mix all the ingredients in a large bowl until well combined. Form into patties and chill, covered in the fridge until ready to cook.

Pan fry or grill until cooked through and serve in a bun (toasted or heated if that is your preference) Dill pickles are mandatory in this house, but the choice of toppings are endless.