Saturday, 31 December 2011

Plum cobbler

I've been raiding the Christmas nut bowl again, like some kind of new year squirrel. The fridge rattles with "Class of Xmas '11" alumni - sprouts, cranberries, parsnips; the challenge is using them up and not letting anything go to waste. This cobbler went down a treat as part of our New Year's Eve supper; a few chopped dried figs would be great stirred into the fruit if you have any knocking around. Happy New Year you lot!

200g Self raising flour
150g Golden caster sugar
75g Unsalted butter
125ml Whole milk
About a dozen plums, cut in half and stoned
The zest of half a clementine
A good squeeze of honey
1/2Tsp Ground cinnamon
A handful of roughly chopped mixed nuts (I used brazil, hazel, almond and walnuts)

1 Heat the oven to 190C/fan 170C/gas 5. Tip the plums into an ovenproof dish, then cover with with the honey, zest, cinnamon and 50g sugar. Give it all a quick stir, then pop in the oven.
2 In a large bowl, mix together the flour and the remaining 100g of the sugar. Grate in the butter, then use your fingertips to gently rub everything together into a fine, breadcrumb-like mix. Stir in the milk to form a thick, doughy batter.
3 Take the fruit out of the oven. Spoon large blobs of the cobbler mix on top, scatter with nuts and bake for 30-40 minutes (or until browned and a skewer comes out of the topping clean).

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Jewelled dukkah crusted lamb shoulder

The ‘Danny Glover Quote Lexicon’ is far from being a tome, “I’m getting to old for this shit” being the only Glovernugget that I ever regularly paraphrase. “I just wanna fix mah boat and put mah kids through school Riggs” (something like that) doesn’t really bristle with many social applications. I’m embarrassed to say that three consecutive nights of festive revelry last week has left me gaunt, dishevelled and malnourished, like a poor Dickensian street urchin. This was compounded on Friday morning when we ran out of milk and honey for porridge, and I was forced to contemplate a bowl of thin oatmeal gruel for breakfast. It is my hope that this hearty roast went a little way towards righting the balance.

I first tried dukkah a couple of years ago. In that instance it played part of a Maria Elia recipe; juicy watermelon wedges plunged into a bowl of dukkah as a canape - very much a ‘YES’ moment. Traditionally hazelnuts are used in this Egyptian dip, but this morning I raided the Christmas nut bowl in a gesture of ‘Renegade spice assemblage’.

For a small jar of dukkah

2Tbsp Sesame seeds

2Tbsp Chopped mixed nuts (I used a blend of hazel, almond, walnut & brazil nuts)

1Tbsp Cumin seeds

1Tbsp Coriander seeds

1Tsp black peppercorns

1Tsp Sea salt

1/2Tsp Ground cinnamon

1/2Tsp dried mint

Toast the sesame seeds, nuts, cumin seeds and coriander seeds in heavy pan until they’ve toasted lightly. Allow to cool, then tip into a coffee grinder with the peppercorns, salt, cinnamon and mint. Blitz until fine.

Jewelled dukkah crusted lamb shoulder

(I used) 0.75kg Rolled lamb shoulder (cooking times will vary depending on the size of your meat)

2Tbsp Olive oil

6Tbsp Dukkah

1 Pomegranate

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Rub the lamb with olive oil, then place in an ovenproof dish. Gently sprinkle the dukkah over the meat (you may have to fill in gaps here and there with your fingers), then roast for just under an hour until the lamb is blushing. To serve, scatter pomegranate seeds over the meat (a good squeeze of juice over the top is a good thing too).

Friday, 16 December 2011


Gluten-free stollen

Shot for BBC Good Food magazine, December '11 issue
Recipe: Hannah Miles
Prop styling: Tony Hutchinson
Food Styling: Cassie Best

Monday, 12 December 2011

Rabbit, mushroom and ramson bulb pate

The Ramsons are so abundant along this riverbank during the spring; digging up a small handful of bulbs in the winter months won’t upset the balance in the slightest. A summer spent swelling gently in the soil leaves them plump and juicy - that garlic flavour is distinct as ever. If you'd prefer your pate to be really gamey just use rabbit; I like to tone down the strong flavour a touch though, so go 50/50 with chicken livers.

200g Rabbit livers

200g Chicken livers

100g Chestnut mushrooms, roughly torn

100g butter

3 bacon rashers, chopped

4 Large ramson bulbs

Fresh thyme leaves

Bay leaves

A splash of sherry

Salt and pepper

Fry the bacon in an oiled pan until crispy, then add the mushrooms to soften. Stir in the livers, brown for a few minutes (try not to cook them all the way through) then add the thyme, bay, chopped garlic and butter. Season, get a splash of sherry on the scene and stir through until the butter has melted. Spoon into a food processor, give it a brief blitz (I don’t like it too smooth), then spoon into ramekins. Create a seal with some clarified butter and a couple of bay leaves.

Monday, 5 December 2011


There’s a surplus of membrillo in fridge. Slabs of the stuff; I could probably tile the utility room with this year’s batch alone. Perhaps I could use that spare jar of damson jam as grout? Anyway, i’m saving a good wedge for the Christmas cheeseboard, but a simple cocktail made from membrillo, clementine juice and fizz is a great seasonal twist on the classic Bellini.


2 sugar cube-sized chunks of membrillo

The juice of 1 clementine


Mash the membrillo and clementine juice together, then pour the syrup into the bottom of a champagne flute. Top up with prosecco, then "Quaff" (as they say in Farnborough's sultry nightspots).

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Gingerbread houses

Recipe >>> here <<<

Shot for BBC Good Food Magazine, December '11 issue
Recipe/food styling: Sarah Cook
Prop styling: Tony Hutchinson

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Roast guinea fowl, chicory and walnut salad

Winter’s boney fingers have felt their way through the garden. Mint’s on its last legs; the chives look set to follow suit in due course. Parsley that once spilled out of the herb beds onto the lawn looks austere, albeit with small flickers of new growth next to the wall. I’ll be damned if I won’t get one last hurrah out of these chaps, whether it’s a mixed herb pesto (see here), or this simple salad using the least-crestfallen of the remaining leaves.

1 Guinea fowl

Garlic cloves

4 Chicory heads (I used a mixture of red and green)

A handful of flat leaf parsley leaves

A bunch of chives, finely snipped

A handful of de-shelled walnuts

About 100ml sherry or port

A small handful of raisins

Olive oil

1 Large lemon

Salt and pepper

1 The night before, leave the raisins to soak and plump up in the sherry. Preheat the oven to 180c/fan160c/gas 4. Brush the guinea fowl with olive oil, then season. Use a knife to make a few holes in the breast and legs, then wedge in some garlic cloves. Cover with baking foil and roast for one hour (remove the foil 45 mins in to let the bird go golden). Allow to cool for a bit, then remove the meat with a pair of forks.

2 Pour 6tbsp olive oil into a jam jar, then squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Season well, pop the lid on and shake. Arrange the chicken and chicory on a large plate or platter. Scatter over parsley, chives and walnuts. Drizzle the dressing over the salad, then spoon over the swollen raisins.


Wild walnut, stilton and honey foccacia

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Monday, 17 October 2011

Pumpkiny chilli with saffron rice

If you’re holding a Halloween party or heading out to watch some fireworks, it’s nice to make this chilli ahead, spoon into small, scooped out pumpkins and place in a low oven to warm until you’re ready to eat. Make sure that the pumpkins are sitting on trays, just in case they bubble over. Serves 4.


A small piece of root ginger, grated

3 Garlic cloves, chopped

1 Red chilli, chopped (remove seeds if you don’t want it too hot)

1 Star anise

1 Large onion, finely chopped

1tsp Fennel seeds

500g Minced beef

1 Tin of chopped tomatoes

400ml Beef stock

2tsp Paprika

1tsp Ground cumin

1 Tin of kidney beans

A large handful of chopped mushrooms

200g pumpkin, cut into small cubes

Cayenne pepper

Chopped parsley

Feta cheese, to serve


240g Basmati rice

A pinch of saffron strands

1 Soften the ginger, garlic and chilli in a pan with the star anise, then stir in the onion and fennel seeds. After a few minutes add the mince; once it has browned get the mushrooms on the scene.

2 Pour in the chopped tomatoes and stock, then stir in the pumpkin and kidney beans. Season, then finally add the paprika and cumin before simmering for a good 20-25 minutes. If your chilli’s a bit on the mild side sprinkle some Cayenne in for extra fire.

3 To make the saffron rice, first rinse the rice a few times in luke warm water to get rid of some of the starch. Cover the rice in a pan with cold water (so that the level is approximately 1cm above the rice), sprinkle in the saffron and place on a medium heat. Avoid the temptation to stir. When the water has reached a fast bubble, turn down to low for 5 minutes. You’re on the right track if little holes start appearing on the surface of the rice. Kill the heat and put a lid on the pan; fluff the rice occasionally with a fork.

4 Just before serving, stir some chopped parsley into the chilli. Serve with feta cheese crumbled on top.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Quinces roasted in Pineau des Charentes

Remember the opening credits to Quincy M.E.? A recurrent clip is interspersed throughout episode footage (mostly snippets of Quincy in a blind rage, shouting at someone); we’re led to believe that it shows him inspecting a dead body on a post-mortem table. But wait! The camera zooms out to reveal our hero ‘examining’ a bikini-clad lady’s shoulder on a yacht, moored up in a posh harbour! The cad! They toast a pair of gin & tonics - I swear that hers is laced with anaesthetic snaffled from the lab though. He’s not quite right that Quincy is he?

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here

Reader, I apologise. I feel that I’ve lured you here under the pretence of offering warming autumnal sustenance, only to digress with talk of a 1970s American TV series*. Many thanks to the lovely Silvana de Soissons for a bagful of gorgeous Quinces - I plan on making a batch of membrillo with the remaining fruit, but couldn’t resist roasting a few up on Sunday for dessert. It’s really worth trying to track down a bottle of Pineau (to drink as well as to cook with); I had the good fortune to visit the Charente Valley in the summer, but Oddbins stock it. Serves 4.

*Which was never a patch on Columbo, I might add.

4 Quinces, quartered and cored

1 Wine glass of Pineau des Charentes (use port or sherry if you can’t get hold of this)

Zest and juice of 1 orange

4Tbsp Honey

6 Cloves

2 Star anise

1 Cinnamon stick, broken up

Vanilla ice cream, to serve

Heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. Arrange the quinces in a large baking dish, then add the remaining ingredients. Cook in the oven for about an hour, turning the quinces regularly and spooning the juice over the softening fruit. Serve with scoops of vanilla ice cream.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Chunky root vegetable soup with cheesy pesto toasts

Recipe: James Martin
Prop Styling: Arabella McNie
Food Styling: Lizzie Harris

Shot for BBC Good Food magazine, November 2011

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

Mushrooming at Ardanaiseig

For more information on Ardanaiseig hotel visit:

Here's a quick wild mushroom recipe:

Monday, 12 September 2011

Five spice duck with damson relish

Autumn abounds; sepia tendrills creep through trees and hedgerows. The dichroic blur of a dragonfly glances across river surface as I fill the basket with damsons, wild carrot heads twisting themselves into forlorn curls along the muddy track. The countryside is contemplating the onset of winter. Serves 4.

4 Duck breasts, skin on

Chinese five spice powder

200g Damsons

A small piece of fresh root ginger, grated

1/2 Red onion, thinly sliced

4Tbsp Caster sugar

A splash of rosehip vinegar

The zest and juice of 1 orange

1 Star anise

Groundnut oil

1 Gently soften the ginger, onion and orange zest in a small pan while you de-stone the damsons. Stir in the fruit, sugar, star anise, orange juice and vinegar, then cook for a further 10 minutes (if your damsons are a touch astringent you may have to add a little extra sugar along the way). Leave to cool.

2 Spoon 3 tablespoons of five spice onto a large plate, then add salt and pepper. Roll each breast in the powder, then put to one side. If you like your duck skin extra crispy, score a criss-cross pattern into the skin with a sharp knife before seasoning.

3 Fry the duck breasts skin side down for 7-10 minutes until the skin is crispy. Turn the breasts over and cook for a further 5-7 minutes. Rest (the duck breasts - not you), slice, then serve in warm tortillas with spring onions and a good dollop of the relish.


Sloe gin

Monday, 5 September 2011

Beetroot crisps with fennel salt

I’m a great fan of beetroot, but sometimes tire of the way it compels full-on culinary and visual commitment. Many of the other vegetables in the garden are happy to play part of an ensemble performance - Bulb Fennel turns in a fine Gloucester on a good day. Beetroot refuses to play any role but Lear, then goes all method in your kitchen, like Christian Bale. “Chide not fool; this is what I do!” it bellows; scarlet juices pluming through your meal. Simply does it here; thinly slice Pablo and Barbabietola Di Chioggia beets, deep-fry in Groundnut oil and serve with a scattering of ground fennel seeds and sea salt. Tasty stuff - not a tantrum in sight.


Baba Ganoush

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Ossobuco alla Milanese

Shot for BBC Good Food Magazine October 2011 issue
Recipe: Anna del Conte
Food styling: Lizzie Harris
Prop styling: Arabella McNie

Blackberry ice cream

Sunday, 28 August 2011

Green tomato ketchup

Over past two years I’ve become increasingly aware of a small child living in our house; a cheeky red haired girl who spoke very little until recently, but has begun to refer to me as “Da-da”. While not particularly forthcoming with rent, she has proved a welcome and enthusiastic companion in the garden - perhaps a little too so at times. Handfuls of green tomatoes are cast before me like jade marbles; I’ve learnt to dispel my horror at the premature harvest, and have whole heartedly embraced the concept of unripedom.

700g Green tomatoes
1 Green pepper
A small piece of root ginger, grated
2 Large garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 Onion, finely sliced
A small handful of chopped carrot tops (optional)
100ml White wine vinegar
75g Light muscovado sugar
1Tsp Cumin seeds
Cayenne pepper (optional)
Groundnut oil
Salt and pepper

1 Finely chop the tomatoes and green pepper. Simmer the garlic, ginger, onion and cumin seeds in a shallow pan with some oil, then stir in the toms and pepper. Keep on the simmer for 10 minutes or so, stirring regularly.
2 Pour in the vinegar, then add the sugar, carrot tops, cayenne and some seasoning. Keep on the heat until everything has become soft and pulpy, then blitz in a food processor and squash through a sieve into a bowl. Pour the ketchup into sterilised bottles.

Monday, 15 August 2011

Blackberry cheesecake mini-pots

An orange sun slumped sulkily in the sky as I left the house, dipping quickly towards the horizon as I gathered a bowlful of blackberries in the fading light. In accordance to tradition I was consumed by mosquitos with great abandon; dessert was sorted though, which was ideal. Makes 4 - 6 pots, dependant on size of receptacles.

6 Hobnob biscuits, crushed

20g Melted unsalted butter

150g Blackberries

2Tbsp Caster sugar

A squeeze of orange juice

250g Mascarpone cheese

6Tbsp Double cream

4Tbsp Icing sugar

1 Crush the biscuits with a rolling pin, pour the crumbs into a bowl and stir in the the melted butter. Divide and squash the mixture into the bottom of each pot. Place in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

2 Heat the Blackberries, caster sugar and orange juice in a pan for a few minutes; until the sugar has dissolved and the berries have softened and released some of their juices.

3 Whisk the cream until it starts to thicken, then fold in the mascarpone and icing sugar.

4 Add a layer of blackberries to the bottom of each pot, then fill with the creamy cheesecake mix. Top with more blackberries and a drizzle of juice.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Feral fruit pastilles

I find these make for an ideal lure when tempting deer out of thickets.

2lb mixed wild fruit (I used a combination of wild cherry plums, blackberries, elderberries, Oregon grapes, rowan berries and 2 scrumped discovery apples)

Caster sugar (the amount you need may vary, in this instance I needed 1lb)

The juice of 1 orange

1 Put the fruit into a large pan. Squeeze in the orange juice and pop on a low heat; stirring with a wooden spoon as the berries start to soften. When the fruit has totally broken down (20 minutes or so), take off the heat and carefully squash the pulpy liquid through a sieve into a bowl.

2 Weigh the mixture in the bowl (subtract the weight of the bowl), then measure out an equal amount of sugar. Pour the hot liquid back into the pan with the sugar and bring to a quick bubble. Keep on the heat for a good 30 minutes (at least - it takes a while). You’ll know when it’s ready when you push a wooden spoon through the thick mixture, the bottom of the pan is revealed, but it’s slow running back into the furrow. Testing to see if a dollop sets firmly on a plate is a good backup.

3 Line a small baking tray with greaseproof paper, pour in the mixture and allow to set. Once firm, lift the slab onto a board, cut into small squares and roll in caster sugar.

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Good Food September '11 In Season Special

Recipes: The Good Food Team
Food styling: Lizzie Harris
Prop styling: Jo Harris
Feature design: Todd Slaughter