Beef and butternut squash khoresh

When I first made this, it was so delicious, I woke up the next day, still longing for it. The flavour is rich and comforting, sweet and sour. Cutting the beef into thin strips means that it cooks to tender morsels in a short time. We purchased the beef from Long Island Larder.  They were selling their produce at the Tagsa Saturday Market in Balivanich, but the’ll soon have a farm shop in Loch Skipport as well. The meat was delicious, excellent quality. Just a note, Tagsa will continue with their neighbour food project through the winter, but the fresh produce market is a summer/autumn thing. 

Here’s the recipe. 


  • 5 tbsp olive oil (or butter)
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • 500g beef, cut into thin strips
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 150g ready-to-eat prunes
  • 1 medium butternut squash (pick one that feels very heavy for its size)
  • 3 tbsp date syrup or brown sugar
  • Juice of 2 limes (about 60ml)
  • A large pinch of saffron, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water


  • In a medium casserole or large saucepan, heat about 2 tbsp oil over a medium heat, and fry the onion for around 5 minutes, so that it softens and becomes translucent. 
  • Add the beef and fry for another 15 minutes, stirring from time to time. 
  • Add the salt, pepper, cinnamon, prunes and around 600ml water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for a further 20 minutes. 
  • Meantime, peel and chop the squash into large chunks, coat with olive oil and roast in a hot oven (200C) for around 15 minutes. You could also fry the squash in olive oil, until the outside is browned.
  • Stir the date syrup, lime juice, saffron water into the stew, and then add the squash. Cover and simmer for a further 40 minutes. 
  • Serve with white rice, preferably saffron steamed rice. 

Grilled and buttered fennel bulbs

I grew bulb fennel this year with varying success. To get the fennel to make nice tight little bulbs, it needs to be well watered, well fed, not overcrowded or stressed at all. I feel very accomplished with each perfect bulb. This is an excellent way to prepare them. For each person, allow one small fennel bulb. 


  • 1 fennel bulb per person
  • 20g butter per person
  • 20g grated parmesan per person
  • salt and pepper


  • Put the fennel in a pan of boiling salted water and cook for 15 to 20 minutes. 
  • Cut the fennel bulbs in half, and place in an oven proof dish, cut sides up. 
  • Melt the butter and pour this over the fennel bulbs
  • Add a layer of grated parmesan to each fennel bulb, and grill under a hot grill until the cheese is browning and crisping up. 

That is all. I served as a side dish with a rich stew and potatoes. 

Venison Pörkölt (Hungarian venison and onion stew)

I have quite a bit of South Uist Venison in the freezer, so be prepared for some variations on this theme. I made this rich Hungarian stew last night, and it is delicious. It is usually served with dumplings. The key is to stew the onions very slowly, preferably in lard, and to add the paprika fairly late in the proceedings. There will seem to be an unfeasibly large quantity of onions, but don’t worry, this works. 


  • 60g lard
  • 900kg venison, cut into slabs about 1 inch thick, and about the size of half a postcard
  • salt and pepper
  • 4 onions, chopped (about 750g)
  • 2 tsp caraway seed
  • 2 tbsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tsp hot paprika 
  • 1 tsp dried marjoram
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 500ml beef stock or venison stock
  • 300ml red wine


  • Melt the large in a large casserole dish, and brown the venison in batches, and set aside on a dish. You can season the venison as it cooks
  • In the same pan, add the onions and caraway seeds, and cook over a medium heat. Stir often and cook until the onions are browned. This might take up to 30 minutes. 
  • Add the venison, and all of the other ingredients and bring back to a simmer. Cook in the oven at 140C for a couple of hours
  • Make your favourite dumplings, if this is your thing. I had mashed potato and celeriac. 
  • When the stew is done, break up the meat a bit with a pair of forks. Serve with the dumplings and sour cream for those that wish to add it. 

Sausages with a mushroom and red wine gravy

Another recipe for sausages, this is very tasty and it can be augmented by adding other ingredients, such as lightly fried liver or kidneys. 


  • 450g sausages
  • cooking fat or vegetable oil
  • 150g mushrooms
  • 1 scant tbsp flour
  • 300ml beef stock
  • 100ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree


  • Fry the sausages in a little oil for up to 20 minutes until they are cooked, and then set aside.
  • Meanwhile, slice the mushrooms coarsely, and add them to the pan and fry gently for 3 minutes or so. 
  • Stir in the flour and cook for another minute or two
  • Add the stock, wine and tomato puree, bring to the boil and then simmer for around 5 minutes. Season to taste.
  • Pour the sauce into a warm serving dish, add the sausages, any other ingredients as required, and garnish with chopped parsley. 

This is good with mashed potatoes, or potato scones. 

Hereford Sausages

I have no idea where I got ‘The Complete Farmhouse Kitchen Cookbook‘  from, but it is now quite battered, and I use it every week. It has a lot of basic recipes, many of which I have used more than once. Every so often, I find another corner I have never visited and there are new treasures. 

This time, I was looking to try out recipes for the large numbers of sausages we seem to have stashed in the freezer. I sometimes buy them when they are reduced, freeze them and then forget.


  • 450g sausaages
  • 25g vegetable oil or cooking fat
  • 2 onoins, finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon, cut into strips
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of plain flour
  • 3 tbsp cider
  • 300ml stock
  • 1 bayleaf
  • salt and pepper
  • 150g chopped mushrooms
  • Chopped parsley to serve

Serve with mashed potatoes and celeriac


  • Fry the sausages in cooking fat until they are properly cooked, up to about 20 minutes. Set aside
  • In the pan, add the onion and bacon and cook gently for around 5 minutes
  • Sprinkle in the flour and stir it in, cooking for another 2 minutes
  • Pour in the stock and cider, stir it in and bring it to a simmer. 
  • Add the bayleaf and sausages, and simmer for around 10 minutes
  • Add the chopped mushrooms and simmer for a further 10 minutes. 

Serve on a bed of mashed potatoes and celeriac, garnished with chopped parsley

Minestrone 1

I’ve marked it as number 1, because I know that there will be variants and I might post some more minestrone recipes. I’ve previously done a summer vegetable version as well. 

This is a more solid affair, this soup. As usual, after making the broth, you add the vegetables in the order in which they will cook, saving those with the shortest cooking time until the end. You can vary the vegetables in season, to include chopped beetroot, celeriac, fennel, peas, leeks, kohl rabi, or substitute rice or barley for the pasta. 


  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 rashers of bacon or 100g pancetta, or more if you wish
  • 2 tsp marjoram or mixed herbs
  • a can of chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml red wine
  • 1 can of haricot beans, drained. 
  • 1.7 litres of boiling water or stock
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 small potatoes, such as charlottes, peeled and diced
  • About the same volume of turnip, peeled and diced
  • 1 stick of celery, chopped
  • half a small cabbage, shredded
  • salt and pepper
  • 50g small pasta
  • Parmesan cheese


  • Heat the olive oil in a very large soup pan, and cook the onions very slowly for 5 minutes so that they soften. Add in the chopped garlic and cook for another couple of minutes before adding the bacon and herbs. You can actually use just about any herb; thyme, basil, marjoram all work well. 
  • Once the bacon is cooked and the mixture is hot through, add the chopped tomatoes, red wine and haricot beans. Bring this to a simmer and then add the boiling water or stock. Bring to a simmer and cook very very slowly for the flavour to develop, and for the beans to be hot and cooked through. 
  • You can pause at this stage, and then finish the soup off when you are ready, about 45 minutes before serving, to ensure that all of the vegetables are perfect. 
  • Add the carrots, simmer for 15 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and turnip, simmer for 15 minutes
  • Add the celery, cabbage and pasta, season with salt and pepper, simmer for 10 minutes
  • Stir in 2 tbsp grated parmesan, and serve with more parmesan. 

Rabbit with green olives and wine (Ligurian rabbit cacciatore)

I saw this dish being served on Stanley Tucci’s fantastic series on Italian food. I’ve been trying to recreate it, and it is easy and delicious.

It is well worth watching both series of this program, the joy of good food shines through, from the program makers, the food producers to the presenters. The Ligurian program is the episode which inspired this recipe. 


  •  One wild rabbit, jointed into 6 pieces
  • 60ml olive oil
  •  3 medium garlic cloves, peeled and roughly chopped
  • Approx 40g stoned green olives
  • 1 tsp dried thyme, or a sprig of thyme (you could also use rosemary)
  • 200ml medium dry white wine, or 50/50 wine and chicken stock
  • salt and pepper


  • Put all of the ingredients except the olives, stock and seasoning into a plastic box with a lid, and marinade the rabbit overnight. 
  • The next day, put all of the ingredients including the olives, stock and seasoning, into a casserole dish.
  • Cook in the oven at 170C for an hour and a half, or until the rabbit is tender

I served this with grilled bulb fennel and a few small potatoes

Lamb hot-pot with dumplings

I’ve made this recipe a few times, and it is very tasty. It is a useful one-pot meal, and uses some of the less tender cuts of lamb or mutton. 



  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 sticks of celery, chopped
  • 25g lard, dripping or olive oil
  • 8 best end or middle neck lamb chops, trimmed of excess fat
  • 2 tsp flour
  • salt and pepper
  • 200ml water
  • 1 tsp rosemary (or similar fragrant herbs – try Italian herbs for meat)
  • 125g self-raising flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 40g suet
  • 1 tbsp chopped parsley
  • a little cold water


  • Heat half the fat in a frying pan, and brown the carrots, onions and celery, and put them in the bottom of a casserole dish
  • Coat the chops in seasoned flour, and brown in the rest of the fat, and put them on top of the vegetables
  • In the frying pan, pour away any excess fat, and then add the tomatoes, water, herbs and salt and pepper, and bring to the boil, scraping in any sticky goodness from the bottom of the pan. Pour this over the meat. 
  • Cover the casserole, and cook at 180C for 1 1/2 hours
  • Make the dumplings. Sift the self-raising flour and salt into a bow, and mix in the shredded suet and parsley. Add cold water very slowly, until you have a soft but not sticky dough. 
  • Roll the dough into 8 balls. Put them over the top of the hotpot, and cook without a lid for a further 20 minutes until the dumplings are cooked. 

If you have a lot of potatoes, this is fine without the dumplings, and served with mash. Next time, I may try slicing potatoes over the top  at the start and cooking the whole thing together. 

An alternative way of preparing the dumplings: use 125g self raising flour, 125g wholewheat flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 125g shredded suet, 1/4 tsp salt, 7 tbsp mil. Mix together as above, make dumpling balls, and simmer in water or stock, instead of cooking in the stew. 

Pork cooked in milk (Maiale al latte)

We tried this recipe from Elizabeth David. It is a little tricky, and needs watching at the end. But it was fabulous


  • About 900g pork, preferably loin or boned leg, without the rind
  • For each 450g of meat, allow 550ml of milk, 25g butter and 25g of pancetta
  • Salt and pepper
  • An onion, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp marjoram, basil or fennel


  • In a pan that fits the meat neatly, melt the butter and brown the onion in it: the onion should be well cooked.
  • Add the pancetta to the onion and fry until the fat is browned.
  • Stick a clove of garlic inside the rolled meat, along with the coriander seeds and herbs. Rub the pork with salt and pepper and then brown it off in the butter along with the onion and ham.
  • In the meantime, heat the milk to boiling in a separate pan. When the meat is browned and heated up, pour the boiling milk gently over the top. Do not add any more salt and pepper from here on in
  • Keep the pan simmering at a moderate pace on the stove top, uncovered. Gradually the milk will form a skin over the meat, and the milk may curdle to make a grainy broth. Do not disutrb this until it has been simmering for a good hour.
  • After an hour or so, break the skin round the meat and scrape the sides of the pan, and stir it all in. The sauce should be beginning to thicken and reduce down at this stage. Keep a close eye on it to make sure it doesn’t burn or start to stick. The sauce will reduce down to a very thick, granular texture, full of bits of onion and ham, like a tasty ricotta. The meat will be encased in a fine crust formed from the milk.
  • to serve, pour the sauce over the meat, and then slice it. It is divine hot or cold

We served it with leeks, broccoli and potatoes.

Curried Pumpkin Soup


  • 30 g butter
  • 25 g plain flour
  • 15 g curry powder
  • 950 ml vegetable broth such as marigold
  • 900g cooked pumpkin
  • 355 ml single cream
  • 30 ml soy sauce
  • 10 g sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • Preheat oven to 190C.
  • Cut thepumpkin into wedges, remove seeds and then bake, skin side down, for approx 1 hour. Allow to cool then remove skin and mash pumpkin flesh.
  • Arrange pumpkin seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in preheated oven for about 10 minutes, or until seeds begin to brown (I cheated and used prepared pumpkin seeds, because I hate shelling them.)
  • Melt butter in a large pot over medium heat, then stir in flour and curry powder until smooth. Cook, stirring, until mixture begins to bubble.
  • Gradually whisk in the broth, and cook until thickened.
  • Stir in the cooked pumpkin and cream. Season with soy sauce, sugar, salt, and pepper to taste. Bring just to a boil, then remove from heat.
  • Garnish each serving with roasted pumpkin seeds.