Frittata with asparagus

There has been quite a lot of reduced asparagus in the co-op lately, and this is a quick meal to use it up. I made it with local free-range eggs. 


  • 1 pack of reduced asparagus, around 100g
  • 25g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • salt and pepper
  • finely chopped parsley
  • about 10g grated parmesan
  • about 10g crushed dried bread e.g. panko breadcrumbs (optional)


  • Wash and dry the asparagus, and chop into 2cm lengths
  • Prepare the egg mixture; beat together the four eggs, parsley, breadcrumbs, seasoning and cheese. 
  • Melt the butter in a small omlette pan, and fry the asparagus on a high setting for around three minutes
  • Pour the egg mixture over the asparagus, and reduce the heat. Once the frittata is almost set, turn it over and cook the other side. 

You can do this for other vegetables, for example try with little courgettes fried with onions in olive oil. I served this with brown toast. 

Mushroom and leek risotto

I had guests and a lot of leeks, so we made this as a quick after-work dish. It was delicious. The leeks were the end of season weeny ones left in the ground, we’d enough to make a substantial dish.


  • 1 litre marigold stock
  • 2 x 25g butter
  • 200g mushrooms (one punnet)
  • salt and pepper
  • Chopped fresh sage, thyme and parsley
  • 200g leeks, cleaned and chopped
  • 200g arborio rice
  • 100ml dry white wine 
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • Another 25g butter


  • Heat a large saucepan over a medium heat, and add the first 25g butter. Hwn it melts , add the chopped mushrooms, salt and pepper, and fry for around 4 minutes, until browned. Remove from the pan and set aside.
  • In the same pan, add another 25g butter, and add the leeks and herbs and saute for 2 minutes, until browning. 
  • Add the arborio rice and keep on cooking until the rice is glossy and coated in butter
  • Add the white wine and bring to a simmer, stirring until the liquid is absorbed
  • Add the hot stock a ladle-ful at a time, stirring until the liquid is absorbed, and then adding the next scoop. Kepp on with this with the mixture just about simmering. When the rice is tender and al dente, stop there, and add the cheese, 25g butter, mushrooms and stir. Check the seasoning and leave to rest for a couple of minutes 
  • Serve garrnished with herbs. 

Red lentil and coconut curry

    • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
    • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
    • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 tsp ground turmeric
    • 1-2 fresh green chili peppers (you can omit these, depending on how hot you like your food)
    • 1 tsp ground cumin
    • 1 tsp ground coriander
    • 1 tsp chili powder, according to taste. We had kashmir chili powder
    • 2 tsp Madras curry powder
    • 1 tsp garam masala
    • 1 tsp salt
    • Black pepper, to taste
    • 200g red lentils
    • 500ml vegetable stock
    • 1 tin of chopped tomatos
    • 1 tin of coconut milk
    • juice of half a lemon
    • chopped leaf coriander


  • Rinse the lentils in cold water
  • Heat the oil in a large pan over medium heat. Once it is hot, add the garlic, ginger, and chili pepper and cook for a couple of minutes. Stir to prevent the garlic from sticking and burning.
  • Add the other spices and stir for a minute, then pour in the stock, tomatoes and lentils, and stir to mix well. Make sure you mix in any spices that have stuck to the bottom of the pan. 
  • Bring to a simmer and reduce the heat to low. Cook for around 20 minutes, checking from time to time to ensure that the mixture is not sticking. You might need to add a little more water and cook for longer, to ensure that the lentils are nice and soft. 
  • Add the coconut milk, salt and pepper, and continue to cook for another 5 minutes or so, until the curry is thickened. 
  • Stir in the lemon juice and chopped coriander leaves, beat a little to break up the lentils slighty. 

Serve with rice, or a flatbread. You could serve this with a number of other Indian dishes with rice as part of a feast. 

Mushroom and leek orzotto

I have been in a fizz of pedantry. Why call a dish made with pearl barley a risotto. It isn’t a risotto, it is an orzotto, thanks to Wiki for sorting that one out. Risotto is made with rice. The italian for pearl barley is orzo (and hence why orzo pasta is so named as it has the same shape). And then – orzotto.

Now I have got over the nomenclature, I have made this delicious dish, using mushrooms from a mushroom kit and some leeks and thyme from the garden. 


  • 60g butter (2x30g)
  • 1 leek, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 250g mushrooms. cut into large pieces.
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme (or use rosemary)
  • black pepper
  • salt
  • 300g pearl barley
  • 150ml white wine
  • 1000ml stock (low salt if possible)
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 2 tbsp mascarpone – optional
  • squeeze of lemon juice – optional


  • Lightly toast the barley in a large pan, be very careful not to burn. This step is optional, but adds a lovely toasted flavour to the final dish. 
  • In a large saucepan, melt half the butter, and add the leeks and garlic, frying until soft.
  • Add the mushrooms and herbs, and season with pepper. Continue to fry for another five minutes. Keep stirring, so nothing sticks. Don’t add salt until the end, because the stock and the parmesan will alter the saltiness. 
  • Add the rest of the butter, and then the toasted barley. Cook for a minute and then pour in the glass of wine, and cook for another three minutes, so the barley absorbs the wine. 
  • Add a ladleful of stock. I used beef stock, other stocks also work. I also added a tablespoonful of mushroom ketchup. Bring to a simmer over a medium heat, and cook and stir until the broth is almost absorbed, before adding the next ladleful. Continue in this way, stirring and simmering gently, and adding the stock a bit at a time. Keep going until all of the stock is added. The barley should be tender to the bite, and you may need to add another little bit of boiling water or stock until it is to your liking. 
  • When you are ready, add the grated parmesan, and taste to see if you need to add any salt. You can also add the optional mascarpone or a squeeze of lemon juice. Leave to stand for a few minutes before serving. 

Chestnut Bourguignon pie

My lovely sister was making me jealous with tales of the lovely harvest of apples, pears and plums from the surrounding orchards, down in kent where she lives. She suprised me this weekend by sending me a box full of plump, shiny, perfect chestnuts – freshly picked of course.

I knew exactly what I was going to do with them – make my favourite vegetarian pie. If you don’t have a lovely sister to send you fresh chestnuts, then you can sometimes buy tinned or vacuum packed ones locally or alternatively, buy them dried online. This recipe is taken from the BBCGood Food magazine. It is wonderful with creamy mash and sweet potato.

To prepare the fresh chestnuts, snip of the tip of each nut, and bake at 200C for around 8 minutes. Let them sit for a couple of minutes until they can be handled, and peel.


  • 250g/8oz of fresh chestnuts OR 125g/4oz dried chestnuts, soaked for 6-8 hours
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary or 1 tsp/5ml dried rosemary
  • 210ml/7fl oz red wine
  • 300ml/10fl oz Marigold vegetable stock or water
  • 25g/1oz butter or soya margarine
  • 8 small pickling onions or shallots, peeled
  • 125g/4oz chestnut mushrooms, wiped
  • 125g/4oz button mushrooms, wiped
  • 2 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 2-3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 225g/8oz pastry. You could use Gluten Free Pastry.


  • Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  • Place the soaked chestnuts, herbs and 150ml/5fl oz of wine in a saucepan with vegetable stock to cover and cook until just tender – approximately 50-60 minutes.
  • Drain the chestnuts, reserving the liquid.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan and sauté the onions until slightly browned.Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 4-5 minutes.
  • Add the chestnuts, the remaining red wine and sufficient chestnut cooking liquor to cover. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20-30 minutes to reduce the liquid a little.
  • Stir in the mustard, tamari and black pepper to taste and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  • Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Spoon the mixture into a pie dish. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and place on top of filling. Bake for about 20 minutes until golden.

Tagliatelle with carrot and tarragon carbonara sauce

Trust me: this is good.


  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
  • 1 tbsp olive oil or butter
  • 250g tagliatelle
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 50g grated parmesan
  • 1 tbsp tarragon
  • salt and pepper


  • Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, put in the tagliatelle, and cook for 8 minutes.
  • While the tagliatelle is cooking, fry the onion and carrot in the olive oil or butter until cooked, about 6 minutes.
  • Mix the eggs, tarragon, salt and pepper and parmesan in a bowl.
  • When the pasta is cooked, drain it, and stir in the carrots, onions and egg mixture, and stir until the sauce is hot but still creamy; do not try to get the egg set, that is not the point
  • Serve quickly, while still good and hot, with pepper and more parmesan, to taste.

Pork and Saffron Risotto

This recipe comes from Valentia Harris’s excellent book on risotto, which I use frequently. This is the only recipe for risotto that I have found that uses pork. I used a piece of a hand of pork, and some dripping that Malcolm had clarified.


  • 75g pork dripping, lard or pork belly fat
  • 1 finely chopped onion
  • 300g finely cubed pork, eg from shoulder or hand of pork
  • 1/2 glass dry white wine
  • 1 tin organic chopped tomatoes
  • pinch of safron strands soaked in a little warm water
  • 500g organic risotto rice
  • 1.5 litres hot stock
  • 50g freshly grated pecorino/parmesan cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • Fry the onion in the pork dripping slowly so that it softens, then add the cubes of pork
  • Cook together and add the dry white wine, until the pork is browned.
  • Add the tomatoes and mix well, then add the saffron and the water in which it soaked, and bring to the simmer.
  • Continue to simmer gently for about an hour, adding water if required to keep the mixture moist. At the end of the cooking, the pork should be almost falling apart.
  • Add all the rice, and stir until it is heated through and well coated.
  • Start adding the hot stock a little at a time, stiring it in as you go. Make sure that all the liquid is absorbed before adding the next bit of stock.
  • When the rice is cooked, firm, yet velvety and the sauce is creamy, take the risotto off the heat and add the cheese, salt and pepper. Let it sit for a few minutes and stir before serving from a warmed platter.

Truffle Risotto

Mm. A recipe to start early, it doesn’t take 20 minutes, more like 3 to 4 hours. It involves making a mega rich stock, and then adding the rice. This is from one of my favourite recipe books, ‘Risotto Risotto’ by Valentia Harris.


  • 40g pork fat or lard
  • 40g prosciutto crudo
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely sliced
  • 1 celery stick chopped well
  • 400g beef offcuts or skirt
  • 1.5 litres boiling water
  • salt and peppper
  • 400g risotto rice
  • 75g butter (
  • 75g grated parmesan
  • white truffles, preferably fresh, but can be bought as a paste or in oil


  • Put the pork fat, onion and prosciutto in a blender and whiz to make a thick paste.
  • Put the paste in a large and heavy pan, and fry until soft and golden, at least five minutes, then add the carrot and celery and fry for another five minutes.
  • Add the beef and brown on all sides. Cover with the boiling water, season with salt and pepper and put a lid over the pot. Simmer for three hours.
  • Remove the meat and set aside. If you have used a very rough cut like the skirt, then discard this. We used left-overs, which we shredded and added back later.
  • Put the remaining stock through the food processer so that it is really smooth, and add boiling water to make up to 1.2 litres.
  • Bring the smooth stock to the boil, add all the rice and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until there is no free fluid
  • Add the butter and cheese and any reserved beef that is tender enough to eat. Stir and leave to relax for five minutes.
  • Cover the risotto with shaved truffles, or stir in the white truffle paste, and serve.

Sweet and easy tomato sauce

‘The Moro Cookbook’ by Sam and Sam Clark is one of my favourinte cookbooks. They have also written Moro Easy, and Morito (tapas).

This particular recipe is from their first book, and was a revelation. Until now, if I wanted to make a tomato sauce, for example to pour on meatballs, I would have added all kinds of things, and certainly started with an onion. This recipe is easier and better.


  • 1 tin organic tomatoes (or 500g fresh tomatoes with the skins removed).
  • 2 tbsp organic olive oil
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • salt and pepper


  • If you are using fresh tomatoes, chop them finely. If you are using tinned tomatoes, put them in a bowl and squish them up with your hands
  • In a medium saucepan, heat up the olive oil. When hot but not smoking, add the finely sliced garlic and fry until the garlic is beginning to turn brown
  • Add the tomatoes and a pinch of salt. Cover and cook over a low heat until a lot of the liquid has evaporated, a least 30 minutes. You can also leave this in a slow oven for 30 minutes or more, until the sauce is at the right consistency.

If you wish, add cinnamon or chilli with the garlic at the start.


Honey is one of the foods that I can remember eating when I was very young. I can remember eating comb honey when we lived in New Zealand; I must have been aged about four. Later, when we lived in the middle east, we used to buy honey from the people living in the Alburz mountains; we called in bees-foot honey, as it sometimes contained small fragments of the poor bees that made it. In Nigeria, honey was rare and costly, and sold wrapped in leaves by tribesmen sitting at the edge of the market place.

In all these parts of the world and more, and going back through the millennia, honey has been eaten. There are Mesolithic cave paintings in Spain, showing women collecting honey. It has value as a food, and as a medicine. The ancient Egyptians new of its healing powers and used it to dress wounds, and to embalm the dead. In the bronze-age, in Britain, honeyed breads were made for festivals.

Honey has value as a food, and also has medical uses. These are still being researched, and include measuring the medicinal value of honey to help with oral infections, reducing cough in children, and in the management of chronic wounds and acute burns. The use of some types of honey for wound management is already part of mainstream practice in the UK. There seems to be variation between types of honey when it comes to how well they work; Manuka honey is the most widely know therapeutic honey, made from nectar collected by bees from the Manuka tree in Australia and New Zealand. There seems to be several different ways in which the honey works to treat and prevent infections in wounds.


Honey is made from the nectar of flowers, which collected by honey bees. Bees manufacture honey as a stable, high-energy food for their young. They collect nectar from plants that are in bloom. Flying back to the hive, the bees then transfer the nectar into six-sided wax cells. They then flap their wings to help water to evaporate from the nectar, and condensing it into honey. Once the honey is ready, the bees seal each cell with wax, storing it for when it is to be consumed.

When it comes to harvesting the honey, the beekeeper removes the combs of honey from the hive, cuts off the wax caps and spins the come to get the honey out. The honey is then strained and bottled. Only honeybees make large enough colonies in hives for this to work; bumblebees do not live in large colonies, and honeybees are not native to the islands.


The colour and flavour of honeys differ depending on which flowers have been visited by the honey bees. The colour ranges from nearly colourless to dark brown, and the flavour varies from mild to distinctive and bold, depending on where the honey bees buzzed. Honey from different flowers has a distinctive flavour and colour due to differences in the nectar

As a general rule, the flavour of lighter coloured honeys is milder, and the flavour of darker coloured honeys is stronger. Darker honeys have more nutrients than light ones. Vitamin and mineral content also depend on the floral source of the honey. Below is a list of some of the more commonly available types of honey in the UK and in the wholefood catalogue.

Acacia honey: A light mild clear honey produced from Acacia and a blend of other flower nectars.

Chilean ulmo honey: Growing along the coastal areas of southern Chile, ulmo trees produce a white blossom in February and March. This honey has a delightful flavour reminiscent of aniseed and parma violets.

Greek honey: A strong rich dark clear honey produced from pine, wild rose and other flower nectars.

Clover Honey: Usually a pale set honey, it has a smooth texture and a deliciously mild buttery flavour.

Orange blossom honey: This clear honey is collected from hives sited in orange groves. It has a deliciously distinctive orange flavour and a light amber colour.

Turkish pine honey: From the pine forests of western Turkey, south east of Izmir, this dark, clear honey comes from hives managed to organic standards. It has a rich, full-bodied flavour reminiscent of sweet molasses.

Scottish heather honey: This is a dark, set honey, usually gathered from the moorlands around the Grampian mountains during August and September. Heather honey has a distinctive thick consistency with a rich flavour – slightly bitter with a pleasing aftertaste of burnt caramel. Some find it too strong.


There is an art to cooking with honey; as well as being very sweet, some honeys have quite a strong flavour, while others lose their floral taste in the process of cooking. In addition, honey includes water, so adjustments need to be made to recipes when substituting honey for sugar.

There are some combinations that blend well with the texture and flavour of honey; my favourite is Greek yoghurt with honey and nuts. A similar classic combination is icecream and heather honey; the neutral ice cream showcases the strong flavour of heather honey . Another classic combination is pecorino cheese with walnuts and comb honey.

When it comes to baking, most recipes work best with a blended wildflower honey, whose flavour is not too cloying or assertive. If you substitute all the sugar for honey, the texture of the finished cake or biscuit can be a bit chewy. Instead, use a mixture. The suggested substitution method is to use about 1/3 honey, 2/3 sugar. Use an equivalent weight, for example for a recipe asking for 100g sugar, you would substitute 30g of the sugar for 30g of honey.

If you are using a lot of honey, you should also subtract about 100ml of liquid from a recipe for every 250ml honey used and some sources suggest adding 1/4 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda to a recipe to counteract honey’s acidic nature, which can affect other ingredients.


Lemon soother:

  • Juice of 2 lemons, plus 2 thin slices
  • 1cm piece fresh root ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 2 tsp Honey
  • 4 tbsp whisky (optional)

Pour the lemon juice into a measuring jug and add the sliced ginger and honey. Add enough boiling water to the jug to measure 300ml and stir. Pour into 2 heatproof glasses, add the whisky if desired and serve immediately, garnished with a thin slice of lemon.

Banana Honey and Cinnamon Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 150ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 150g Natural Yogurt
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1 large pinch ground cinnamon

Chop a banana into large chunks and place in a blender. Pour in 150ml semi-skimmed milk and add a 150g pot Natural Yogurt with 1 tsp clear honey and a large pinch of ground cinnamon. Blend until smooth, pour into a glass and serve, sprinkled with a little more ground cinnamon.