lovely leeks.

February 25, 2010

celebrate seasonal veg

The 1st of March is St Davids day, other saints days are often overlooked because they don’t centre so much on alcohol. Well maybe you would favour a ‘pint o the black stuff’ over a leek. Lets celebrate all our saints days with a good supper and a drink, there’s four a year and its a great excuse to get friends round the table to celebrate the diverse culture of the Isles. Leeks are in season at the moment, they are abundant and cheap in the grocers of Southsea and on the market.

In the local fruit and veg shop they have lovely local leeks in stock, picked just over Portsdown hill, their huge too so plenty to go round. Make sure they get a good wash because they are pretty muddy!

I found this recipe on Good Food, I’m a huge fan of risotto anyway as it has endless possibilities and you can interchange ingredients for whats in season. It’s also cheap to make and really warming, comforting and yummy.

Leek and parmesan risotto.

  1. Bring the stock to a simmer. Heat a large wide pan and add half the butter and the olive oil. Add the spring onions, leeks and garlic and cook for 5 minutes until softened. Add the rice and stir to coat then tip in the wine and bubble until reduced. Add the stock a little at a time, stirring until the rice is tender with a little bite and oozy.
  2. Stir in the parmesan and the rest of butter and season.

Serves 2, ready in 30 mins.

(this dish is great as a veggie option and GF diets)


todays recipes.

February 23, 2010

I have already received some readers recipes, thank you very much!

These  come from Sarah Dobinson and I particularly like the gluten-free cake recipe as my autistic son was on a GF diet for a long time. I still cook a lot of GF food especially flourless chocolate brownies which are awesome, because they are so moist and sticky thanks to the absence of flour.  So her cake recipe is sure to be a winner!

Courgette, lemon, capers & parmesan spaghetti – serves two / three

4 large courgettes
1 garlic clove
1 small onion
grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
1 tbsp of capers, chopped
handful of chopped flat leaf parsley
as much grated parmesan / pecorino as you fancy!
spaghetti or pasta of your choice

Finely chop the onion and garlic, fry on a low heat for 5 mins.
Grate the courgettes and add to the onion & garlic.  Cook for a further 5 mins (or until the courgettes are soft) with the lid on the pan.
Add the grated lemon zest, parsley and capers and cook for a further 3/4 mins.
Add the parmesan / pecorino, then stir into the cooked spaghetti.
Yummy on it’s own or with fish.

This one is a really good cake for those with gluten or wheat intolerance, as it has no flour.  Make sure the dates are soft before you start trying to make the cake mix, i nearly broke my food mixer using dates from Holland and Barrett that were a bit hard (i had to soak them in water for a while to get them in a state where they would blend properly)!  The cake is very rich and moist but great if you can’t have ‘normal’ cakes and always miss out on the fun!

Chocolate & date cake

500g soft dates
250g ground almonds
100g dark chocolate
6 eggs
1 lemon (juice and peel) or 1 orange
0.5 tbsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp cocoa powder
4 tbsp coconut oil (i think sunflower oil will do if you can’t find coconut oil)

Mix the dates and ground almonds together in a food mixer or blender.
Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together smooth-ish (the mix will always be a bit lumpy cos of the dates).
Pour the mix in a cake tin with parchment paper.
Bake for 40-50 minutes at 160°c.

Gluten free chocolate cake

And this is a really quick and easy cupcake recipe

115g butter
115g caster sugar
115g self-raising flour
2 eggs

and either –
grated zest of two unwaxed lemons

or –

1tbsp of cocoa powder
2tbsp aero drinking chocolate
2 tsp of vanilla extract

Topping: optional if having the lemon cakes
Icing sugar and juice of one lemon – as much icing sugar as you like to achieve the required consistency.

Makes 12 cupcakes or 6 muffins.
Using a food mixer mix together the butter and sugar, add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of flour, then add the flour.
Bake for around 20 mins at 180°c.

My biscotti are ready!

December 10, 2009

Pistachio, almond and chocolate biscotti.

Yesterday I went out on my mission to find pretty boxes to hold my biscotti. These are the home-made Christmas gifts I will be giving to my family this year. I found these lovely medium size take away style polka dot boxes in John Lewis for £1.50 each. I also purchased some cream tissue paper to wrap the biscuits in which cost pennies. So its easy to make your home-made presents look  beautiful!

On with my recipe.

After a bit of experimenting this is what I came up with and its delicious!

Pistachio, Almond and Chocolate Biscotti.


makes about 20

175g Plain Flour

1tsp baking powder

125g Caster Sugar

2 eggs

25g Pistachios

25g Almonds

25g Milk Chocolate

a few drops of Almond essence

  • Pre heat the oven to 160c/gas mark 3
  • grease an oven tray with butter or line with baking parchment.
  • Mix the flour, sugar and baking powder in a bowl.
  • Stir in the beaten eggs and almond essence until the mixture looks clumpy.
  • Now knead together till all the flour disappears, if its too sticky flour your hands and the dough.
  • Pour over the chopped nuts and chopped chocolate, kneed it into your dough evenly.
  • Divide the dough into 2 pieces and roll them into sausage shapes about 20cm long and place on the baking tray with a good distance between them (this is because the dough melts and spreads out).
  • Bake for 25 mins, the dough will still look pale. Gently place the 2 pieces on a cooling rack till they are cool enough to handle.
  • With a serated knife carve into the dough at an angle to make chunky little biscuit slices.
  • Place all your pieces back on the baking tray and return to the oven for 10-15mins or until golden.

The biscotti will be nice and crunchy, they will keep for 3 weeks in a sealed container, ready to be given away (or eaten at home with a cup of tea).

The finished gift will probably cost no more than £2.50 including the box containing about 15 biscuits. I saw a similar box in the shops for about £6.00 or £10.00 for a large box. If you can get hold of a tin then the tin can be kept after all the biscuits are eaten.

Happy biscuit making and eating.

Making your gifts yummy!

December 9, 2009

After an unsuccessful Christmas shopping trip to Palmerston Road yesterday I returned empty handed. I did however return with lots of ideas, Knight and Lee department store was filled with lots of beautiful things but all too expensive. Its only half way through December and we are on our weekly budget of benefits.  My husband works full time but his wages cover our mortgage and bills and my carers benefits see us through week to week so we are on a pretty tight budget! If I had the money I would love to bestow all my family with beautiful things.

I saw some pretty tins of Italian Biscotti, hard sweet dipping biscuits, I received some last Christmas from a family member who was living near Milan at the time. I was won ever and couldnt beleive I had gone 25 years without having a biscotti before! They all came wrapped like little sweets in a bright red tin. I spotted some yesterday but £10 for a tin was way out of my price range. Well I could make them I decided and buy pretty boxes to package them for half the price, so thats what I’m up too. Everyone (um me) loves foodie gifts and biscotti due to being a very hard biscuit keep for a few weeks and go very well with a coffee, perfect. I also have heaps of Almonds left that my parents collected from the fields near there Andalucian home.

Making light work of the Almonds!

Almonds are a key ingredient to biscotti. You can probably find a better way of breaking the shells than us or you can buy them de shelled quite easily. I gratefully received the carrier bag of Spanish almonds I was given, never turn down free food!

So im off out to get all the things I need to make my homemade gifts. I also picked up some good real ale from Aldi and whiskey minitures for the men in our family so I can make up a hamper of food and drink for the family. Also some good ground coffee to accompany the biscotti!

Off to the shops, again!

Cold days, hot food.

December 8, 2009

Yesterday was very windy and after a hard slog on the bike along the promenade (made it as far as Southsea Castle!) my thoughts turned to what to cook this week to keep everybody warm.

This recipe is one of my own and enjoyed by everybody, it has plenty of warmth courtesy of the cumin and ginger but isnt spicy hot so its ideal for children. Although you can add chilli if you like. It’s a Moroccan style Shepherd’s Pie with a sweet potato, squash and mash potato topping.


serves 4-6

For the topping you will need,

Small Butternut Squash

2 Sweet Potatoes

5 Lge Potatoes (I like Maris Piper’s)

For the filling you will need

300g of Lamb mince

1 medium onion

1 teaspoon of ginger

a small bunch of chopped mint

1 teaspoon of cumin

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

1 tin chopped tomatoes

250ml beef stock from cube

1 green pepper and 1 small augergine

  • Pre heat oven to 220c, gas mark 8
  • Chop and peel your potoes and squash and add them to a pan of boiling salted water, cook for 8-10mins or until soft.
  • Drain and mash, you can add some butter, milk and seasoning if you wish. Set your mash aside.
  • Heat a pan and add your mince plus a finely chopped onion (you wont need any oil as the fat from the lamb will cook your onion). When the onion is going translucent add the cumin and ginger, keep stirring to coat the meat in spice, do this for 2-3mins.
  • Now its time to add the liquid, pour in your tomatoes, beek stock and stir. Sprinkle over the sugar and chopped mint, keep stirring till the mixture bubbles.
  • Finely add the chopped pepper and aubergine, turn the heat down so the mixture is simmering and pop a lid on the pan for 10 mins or until the vegtables are cooked.
  • Pour the lamb and sauce into an oven proof dish, top with your mash and place in the pre heated oven for 25 mins or until the top is browning nicely.

You can serve the pie on its own or with a salad.  A glass of Rioja goes well with it too!