Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Anna's Spicy Sausages

Anna's Spicy Sausages

Our Anna, she loves her sausage she does...
This dish goes way back to when I lived in Barcelona and Anna came to visit. All Anna and I wanted to eat were sausages so we added the Mediterranean vegetables and a bit of spice. Of course the dish has expanded and changed many times over the years but the core ingredients have stuck - sausages and spice.
Now then, when I heard me good ol' chum Anna was coming to visit from Nottingham I quickly popped to the shop to get all the ingredients to make her favourite dish. Unfortunately Anna got sidetracked and didn’t make it in the end so I shared my dinner with the Vegetarian and my flat-mate instead...

Serves: 1 Vegetarian and 2 Meat-eaters

1 1/2 red onion, sliced
15 cherry tomatoes
3 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
1 red chili, deseeded and finely sliced
Handful green beans, sliced into three
Sea salt and black pepper
Olive oil
200g wild rice, long grain rice mix

V: 2 vegetarian sausages, sliced into three chunks each
M: 4 Cumberland sausages, sliced into three chunks each

Wild Rice with Green Beans

Cook the rice in salted water for the time recommended (approx 18 minutes). Drain.
In a separate pan cook the green beans in salted water for 4 minutes, drain.

Toss together the rice and green beans, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Spicy Vegetarian Sausage Mix


V:  Get a large frying pan/wok really hot, add a splash of olive oil and cook the vegetarian sausages. Turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add a third of the onion, garlic, chili, pepper, tomatoes and season. Cook for a further 3-5 minutes (or until the vegetables are cooked through but still have a bite to them).
Spicy Cumberland Sausage Mix
M: Get a pan really hot; add a splash of olive oil and toss in the sausages. After a minute turn down the heat and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the rest of the ingredients, season and cook for a further 3-5 minutes (or until the vegetables are cooked through but still have a bite to them).

Mix the spicy sausage with the wild rice and serve.
To make it extra spicy add some chili flakes to the cooking or serve with a hot sauce.

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Buffalo Mozzarella salad with Bresaola or Artichoke Hearts

Buffalo Mozzarella Salad with Bresaola

A summer salad for what should be a summer day (shame about this rainy weather, aye?). My aunt recently told me a story about when I was younger: my parents were away and she had offered to take me and a friend out for lunch. With McDonald's in mind she asked where I would like to go. I said I didn’t like McDonald's and wanted to go to Harvey Nichols to get a rare, cured beef called Bresaola. She couldn’t believe what a snobby daughter her sister had produced. I think I kicked up such a fuss that I got my own way in the end. It was such a pain that she never offered to take me out again.
Bresaola (for the meat-eaters) really is delicious. All you need is a drizzle of olive oil, squeeze of lemon and seasoning - I could snack on it every day.
Luckily, it’s not so rare any more, and most supermarkets and any good Italian deli will stock it.

Serves: 1 vegetarian and 1 meat-eater

1 small broccoli head, cut into florets
Buffalo Mozzarella, torn into chunks
20 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 lemon
Sprinkle of mixed seeds
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper
M: 5-10 slices of Bresaola (I would go closer to 10 slices because its so good!)
V: 5 marinated artichoke hearts, quartered

M: Place the bresaola in a bowl, squeeze over quarter of the lemon, drizzle with olive oil and season. Leave to marinade.

Boil the broccoli for a few minutes in salted water. Drain, refresh with cold water and leave to cool.

Divide the broccoli and tomatoes between two plates. Place the Buffalo Mozzarella on top and sprinkle with the mixed seeds.

M: Mix the Bresaola into the salad along with the marinade. Serve.

V:  Mix the artichoke hearts into the salad. Drizzle with olive oil, a squeeze of lemon and season to taste. Serve.

Buffalo Mozzarella salad with Bresaola

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Moroccan Eggs with Cubed Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Moroccan Eggs with Cubed Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

My recent move from North, via West and, finally, to East London left me little to no time for cooking. Changing jobs twice also added to the hectic life I’ve been living. At last, I’m starting to feel more settled. The Vegetarian has filled our tiny terrace with edible produce. Every morning we wake up and check the progress of the seeds we've planted; the pea shoots have been the most impressive so far.  I also now have my dream kitchen so it’s time to get cooking!

After a very long Jubilee weekend, full of socialising and dancing around the city, we were in need of a huge healthy breakfast. This Moroccan-influenced meal ticked all the boxes. It serves 2 but could easily serve 4: we were just being very greedy. It did keep us full for most of the day, though.

Serves: 2 greedy people.

500 g cherry tomatoes, halved
4 spring onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1tsp cumin seeds
1tsp chilli flakes
½ tsp caster sugar
4 medium organic eggs
Handful parsley, chopped
Bunch of asparagus, trimmed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and cubed
1 bay leaf
Sprig of rosemary
Sprig of thyme
Olive oil
Sea salt and black pepper

M: Chunk of chorizo, sliced

Cubed Sweet Potatoes
Heat the oven to 180 degrees. Drizzle an oven dish with olive oil and place in the oven for a few minutes. Toss the sweet potato cubes in the hot olive oil with the thyme, rosemary, bay leaf, crushed garlic cloves and seasoning. Cook in the oven for 30 minutes, turning occasionally.

Moroccan Eggs
Meanwhile, heat a little olive oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the cumin, spring onion and finely chopped garlic for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes, chilli flakes and sugar, and season with salt and pepper. Simmer for 10-15 minutes. Use a wooden to spoon to break up some of the tomatoes.
Make four wells in the sauce and break an egg into each. Ruffle the egg whites as they start to solidify in the sauce. Cook for two minutes and cover for a further minute to cook the tops of the eggs. Sprinkle with parsley. 

M: Fry the chorizo for a minute.

While the eggs are cooking, place the asparagus in a pan of salted water for 3 minutes. Drain and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Serve the Moroccan eggs with the sweet potato cubes and asparagus on the side.

M: Add the chorizo to the meat-eaters plate.

Moroccan Eggs with Cubed Sweet Potatoes and Asparagus

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Hello Fresh Vegetarian Box

Hello Fresh Vegetarian Box
Following my recent blog post about Hello Fresh, they contacted me to say they were now adding vegetarian options to their delivery service. The Vegetarian and I were delighted when they offered to send us a box to sample.

Last week was so hectic for me (moving house and busy working late) that I really did appreciate the Hello Fresh concept. It was a blessing to know that I had a delicious dinner waiting for me to put together at home – especially as each meal was hassle free and ready within 30 minutes. The six-step recipe was simple to follow, and each dish was full of fresh ingredients.

Roasted Aubergine, Peppers and Couscous

My favourite of the three was the baked aubergine with roasted Romano peppers and couscous. A squeeze of limejuice was added to the couscous at the end, bringing the flavours together.

Warm Mushroom Salad with Avocado and Croutons

I was also very impressed with the ripe avocado I received for the salad option as I have had a real trouble locating good avocados recently.
Wild Mushroom Risotto

I’m not a huge mushroom fan so I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the wild mushroom risotto. I am happy to have discovered a liking for an ingredient that I wouldn’t usually buy.

Of course, the Vegetarian was over the moon: there were no meaty smells filling the house and he got to eat three very satisfying meals.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Hello Fresh - Food and Recipes Delivered to your Door

I love both cooking and food shopping but today I was introduced to Hello Fresh, a new way to combine both.  Intrigued by the idea of a simpler life, I was ready to give it a go.

Each week Hello Fresh can send you a box of recipes, together with all the ingredients you need to prepare them, straight to your door. They promise that each dish will take less than 30 minutes to prepare.

The concept is brilliant for anyone who usually buys ready meals but would like to cook, if only they had the time to shop and the necessary ingredients at home. Each recipe uses fresh produce from local suppliers and the recipe cards are simple to follow with pictures and instructions to help you along the way. 

Vegetarian Warning  
Currently, Hello Fresh says it offers a vegetarian option in the box but I didn’t receive one so the Vegetarian was unable to fully sample the recipe. He popped out for some quorn instead. I hope they  extend their vegetarian option soon or their healthy speedy recipes may not prove healthy for our relationship.

Baby Asparagus Salad

This evening I tried out the Baby Asparagus Salad with Chicken, Pea shoots and Smoked Paprika.
The balance of flavours was good: the refreshing Greek yoghurt dressing with a hint of parmesan and smoked paprika was exactly what I wanted, having eaten way too many bagels today!

Unfortunately I was let down by the tomatoes and asparagus – neither is in season and both lacked flavour. Having said that, the ingredients used are clearly much healthier than the average ready meal from the local supermarket. The box arrived just as I’d returned home after a busy day. It was like receiving a surprise birthday present – a box of beautifully presented goodies to play around with over the stove and enjoy with a glass of wine.

At £39 for three meals for two people it’s not a bad deal, especially on a busy working week when you just don’t have time to think about shopping and cooking.


Thursday, 16 February 2012

Spiced Tomato and Potato Stew: Salmon or Butterbean

Salmon Stew

I was on my way to my mum’s house this evening expecting a night off from cooking and looking forward to a feast. I called on my way to check if I could pick anything up.  It turns out she wasn’t home yet, was exhausted after a stressful day and hadn’t even thought about cooking. I let myself in with the spare key and had a rummage in the fridge. I saw two lightly smoked salmon fillets, tomatoes and a sack of potatoes on the side. A quick trip to the local shop for a few more ingredients and I had everything I needed for this stew. The Vegetarian soon arrived asking what was on the menu. After locating a tin of butterbeans in the cupboard I adapted the recipe for him too (he eats more than the average person so this would normally serve two vegetarians).

Serves: 2 vegetarians, 2 pescatarians

1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 large potatoes, peeled and cut into thick slices
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and quartered
Juice of half lemon
Handful parsley, chopped
Handful coriander, chopped
Olive oil

P: 2 salmon fillets, skin removed, cut into large chunks
V: 1 tin of butterbeans, drained

In a large pan heat the cayenne pepper, cumin and paprika in a little olive oil for a minute or until fragrant. Add the potatoes, garlic, tomatoes, lemon juice and cover with water (about 2 litres). Bring to the boil, cover and turn down to simmer for 20 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Divide between two pans.

P: Add the salmon to one pan and simmer for 10 minutes.
V: Add the butterbeans to the other pan and simmer for 10 minutes.

Sprinkle with coriander and parsley before serving.

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Mishkin's, Covent Garden

The menu I didn't get to sample
After calling and calling I didn't manage to book a table. I decided to take the risk and turn up. BIG mistake. It was a freezing cold Wednesday night and yet the queue went out the door of Mishkins in Covent garden. A minimum hour and a half wait! I was tempted but the snow flakes started to fall and my belly began to rumble. We opted for sagar - the vegetarian Indian next door. The theatre menu was very reasonable at just £5.99 for tali but actually it wasn't worth much more. The Dahl was watery, the cauliflower and potato curry was bland and the raita was a distant memory to what it once was. We regretfully also ordered starters that were dry and lacked flavour. Our wine choice was an extreme let down too. Sagar used to be good. What has happened?

Aware of the delicious food being eaten next door we ran into Mishkins before our long journey home to book a table for 2 weeks time. Unfortunately due to its popularity it only does bookings a week in advance. So.. Lessoned learned, and alarm set, I must get a table there soon. All this waiting is making me hungry (or is that the lack of food I ate at sagar?) and i now want to eat at Mishkins even more.

If you get there before I do, let me know how it is.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Yotam Ottolenghi's Suprise Tatin

Yotam Ottolenghi's Suprise Tatin
Yotam Ottolenghi's Suprise Tatin

Yotam Ottolenghi's cooking never fails to excite me. I look forward to reading his recipes in the Guardian each week and I have used his cookbook ‘Plenty’ for want of a better word, plenty of times!

Ottolenghi inspires me in the kitchen and has helped me be more and more creative with vegetarian food. The Vegetarian of course gives him credit too as he has had the pleasure of eating his dishes along the way.

This savoury Surprise Tatin is another great creation. The tomatoes are oven baked at a low heat giving the dish a sweet but slightly sour taste. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly this time, caramelising the onions separately instead of making a caramel base first. I also added capers for a salty crunch.

Not only does it look great but it tastes delicious too. Today I served it as the vegetarian option at a family party and was surprised to see that all the meat-eaters decided to have a slice  – good job I made double as everyone came back for seconds.

I managed to locate the recipe online and you can view it on the Telegraph website here. The recipe notes that you can use sun-blushed tomatoes but I really would recommend that you oven bake the tomatoes yourself.

Monday, 23 January 2012

It’s Farmhouse Breakfast Week – Shake Up Your Wake Up!

Spanish Tortilla

It’s Farmhouse Breakfast Week so Shake Up Your Wake Up! This campaign is all about showcasing the most important meal of the day to raise awareness of the health and nutritional benefits of breakfast.  The aim is to encourage consumers to enjoy a healthy balanced breakfast every day. 

Celebrating Farmhouse Breakfast Week is easy, there are events happening all across the country.  Why not visit your local Farmers’ Market, attend an open day at your local farm, or enjoy an all-day breakfast at your local café?

Farmhouse Breakfast Week provides a perfect opportunity to promote the wealth of wonderful breakfast produce on offer around the UK.  From butchers style bacon and sausages to speciality bread and cereals, there is a fantastic choice for everyone.

Breakfast is definitely my favourite meal of the day. On the weekend I always take time to prepare something delicious. This week I will set my alarm that little bit earlier and make the effort to fill my tummy before work.

Now then, I did cheat a little this morning (can anyone really get out of bed early on a Monday?), as I made this Spanish Tortilla yesterday. It was even tastier eating the left-overs and gave me the energy I needed to get through the usual Monday blues.
I used free-range oraganic eggs from TheGinger Pig and the potatoes are from a farm in Norfolk. 
Click here for my Spanish Tortilla recipe.
For more information on Farmhouse Breakfast Week click here.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

Spinach and Chickpea Curry

With spinach and chickpeas as the main ingredient - this is a very nutritious curry. It is also extremely quick and easy to make.

Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side

400g cooked chickpeas
1 onion, grated
1inch ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, thinly sliced
1tsp cumin
1tsp ground coriander
300g spinach
Groundnut oil

Fry the onion, ginger, garlic in a little oil for a few minutes. Add the cumin and coriander for another minute.
Add the chickpeas and spinach to the pan with a splash of water. Season and cook until the spinach wilts.

Red Lentil Dhal

Red Lentil Dhal

This is a very simple dahl recipe that’s cheap and doesn’t take long to cook. The garam masala adds a delicious sweet taste to the red lentils. Dahl is a great accompaniment to most curries but can be eaten as a main too.

Serves: 2 as a main, 4 as a side

250g red lentils

1tsp turmeric

1 onion, grated

2 garlic cloves, grated

1cm ginger, grated

1tsp chilli flakes

1tsp garam masala

Groundnut oil

Put the lentils and turmeric in a pan and add water to cover with about an inch of water. Season and simmer for about 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. The lentils soak up the water quite quickly so keep an eye on them and add more water if necessary.

Meanwhile, heat a little oil in a pan and cook the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes. Add the garam masala, and cook for a minute.

Stir the onion mix into the cooked lentils.

Serve with lemon rice and raita.

Lemon rice

Lemon Rice

Why have plain boiled basmati rice when you can have lemon rice instead?
Lemon rice is a delicious south Indian dish. The lemon zest gives a very refreshing and tangy flavour while the mustard seeds and cardamom pods add fragrance to the rice.

Serves: 2
200g basmati rice
400ml water
1tsp mustard seeds
4 cardamom pods, crushed
Zest of 1 lemon, juice of half
Groundnut oil
1tsp table salt

Heat a little oil in a pan, add the lemon zest, mustard seeds, cardamom pods and cook for a minute or until fragrant.

Stir in the rice, pour over the water and add the salt. Bring to the boil, stir well, turn down the heat and cover tightly. I usually use tin foil, a lid and if it still doesn’t seem secure enough I put weights on top too!

Cook on a low heat for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave to stand for 5 minutes.

Serve with a wedge of lemon each.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Fruit Slice – Bande Aux Fruits

Fruit Slice - Bande Aux Fruits

My mid-week treat. Why not treat yourself too?

Serves: 4

2 eggs
100g caster sugar
50g plain flour
10g custard powder
½ litre whole milk
A few drops vanilla essence
250g puff pastry
1tbsp apricot jam
Fruit topping of your choice

For the pastry:
Roll out the pastry until its about 1/2 cm thick and 35cm long.
Cut the pastry into a strip that’s about 12cm wide.
Place the pastry on a lightly oil baking tin.
Moisten the two edges with egg wash and lay two strips of 2cm wide pastry on top. Seal firmly and mark with the back of a knife.
Prick the base of the pastry all over with a fork to stop it from rising in the oven.
Place in the fridge for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the oven to 215 degrees.
Bake in the oven for 12-15minutes. Check the pastry half way and if the base has risen use a spatula to gently press it back down.
Remove from the oven and leave to cool.

For the Pastry Crème:
Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together until almost white. Mix in the flour, custard powder and vanilla essence.
Carefully heat the milk in a pan until a few bubbles rise to the surface then mix the milk into egg and flour mixture.
Return the mix to a clean pan and carefully heat stirring constantly until it turns into a thick custard.
Leave to cool slightly before spreading the pastry crème over the base of the puff pastry. Decorate with the fruits of your choice.

Finally, to seal everything together, make an apricot glaze by bringing to the boil the apricot jam and a little water to cover. Whilst still hot, brush the apricot glaze over the top of the fruit.

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Fabulous Baker Brothers

The Fabulous Baker Brothers

The Fabulous Baker Brothers, Tom and Henry Herbert, are in high demand after their TV debut on Channel 4 last week.  Trending on twitter, and with articles popping up all over the web, everyone wants to know the secrets of the Fabulous Baker Brothers’ family, hidden at Hobbs House, Chipping Sodbury for the last five generations. 

And last night I managed to catch up with Tom Herbert, the baker, - in between his meetings in London and feeding his four hungry children at home.

The Fabulous Baker Brother Cookbook is due out this month and, in celebration, Tom is taking the kids to visit Headline publishing house, where all the magic happened. 

 “We’re even more excited about the book than the TV programme. Making the  show was fun - a lot was crammed in to a 30-minute slot. The book is much more our own. It’s essentially a baking book with the history of Hobbs House, my best baking recipes over the last ten years, and Henry’s eight years of cooking and butchery.”

Did the brothers argue about what to put in the book? “Surprisingly not! Everything happened so quickly, with the show being filmed at the same time. We actually worked well together.  I think it would have been more difficult to work with someone else.”

Tom’s baking career began at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath, where he went on to teach bread-making. “I always wanted to convey what I was taught to others, show how it could be done in the home.” After many years working in the family business in Chipping Sodbury, Tom branched out with his bakery/bistro/café by the stream in Nailsworth, to help spread the message and teach people about bread.

“I wanted everything to centre round the dough table, with the kitchen and shop on either side. There are baking classes every few months when the whole place springs into life.”

What does he think about the mass-produced loaf and the rise in people avoiding bread altogether, claiming it makes them bloated?
“It’s no surprise that commercially produced bread can cause irritation. Cheap bread holds water, doesn’t cut well and shatters when it’s toasted. Bread has been devalued by this mechanical process. But avoiding a food type completely just makes no sense. Everyone should slow down, take their time and make their own. Freshly made bread tastes better, naturally keeps for longer and is easier to digest.”

And the Real Bread Campaign? Had he heard about that? “Yes I have! In fact I’m an ambassador for it.”
I told him that my father, Michael Bateman, started the original Sunday Times Real Bread Campaign in the 80s. And it turns out that Tom’s father, Trevor Herbert, baked the loaves that are pictured on the cover of the book!

At Hobbs House, what’s the most popular loaf? “The same as it’s always been - The Sherston Overnight loaf, a white bread with a crust that makes the best toast in the world. It’s been made the same since the 1920s, when yeast was so expensive, my great grandfather used half the amount  and left the dough to rise overnight. There’s a story about him sleeping on the dough bin and how it would wake him up when it was ready. They say that’s why there are so many of us!”

With time running out, there was one important question on my mind: What options are there for a vegetarian at The Fabulous Baker Brothers Bistro?
“All the breads are vegetarian, there are vegetarian sandwich options and always a vegetarian soup.” - prepared by Tom’s wife Anna (food editor, chef and blogger at She Shops Local).

But there’s no mention of vegetarian dishes on the Bistro’s main menu. A little embarrassed, Tom explains, “The Bistro is small with a simple menu of 3-4 starters and mains. So far we haven’t had a high demand for vegetarian options. In fact when there were vegetarian options on the menu they ended up going to waste.”
He quickly adds, “We’ll happily accommodate any vegetarian so please let us know when you book the table. We have a fantastic chef who will happily rustle up a veggie option. As the Bistro grows, so will the menu.”

I think, perhaps, I’ll go visit with the Vegetarian soon.

In the meantime, second installment on TV tomorrow night – can’t wait. Even more excited about having the book of their recipes in my kitchen!

And here are some Fabulous Baker Brother bread-making tips:

Knead the dough for 5 extra minutes. Bread needs energy to develop the gluten. The better it rises, the better the loaf – with no cracks and crumble.

Use a shower cap or similar to cover the dough tightly while it’s rising.

Keep the oven really hot to make an excellent loaf.  It varies with the loaf you are making but as a general rule, heat the oven to 240 degrees.

Add a cup of cold water to the hot oven as soon as the loaf goes in, creating steam like a sauna to get the crust really crunchy.

Use a baking stone to create better crust, lift and jump. It just makes it 5% better but you can really tell the difference.

Above all, use really good flour.

At this, Tom’s 5-year old daughter Josephine shouts out her favourite line from the TV show: “The better the flour, the better the loaf!”

The Fabulous Baker Brothers Cookbook: in trade on 19th January 2012, £20

The Fabulous Baker Brothers TV Programme:, airs Wednesday 8.30pm, Channel 4