No. 111 - January/February 2013


Welcome to the January/February  2013 Newsletter. 


By way of a change, I have kept this issue really simple with no long editorials or special sections.... just recipes recipes recipes. Of course, they aren't  just any old recipes as they either feature foods in season,  are based on food celebration days/weeks/months which occur in January and February or are just great for winter eating and include soups, starters, main courses, accompaniments, desserts and cake/biscuits recipes. Better still, every recipe has a full colour picture.


Also departing from the usual format, the recipes are listed at the beginning of the page with all the titles having links to the recipes which are written out fully further down on this page so you can go straight to the recipes which take your fancy.


If you have any suggestions, additions or interesting questions for the newsletter, please write to me at .


Happy Cooking!





Florence Sandeman,



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Key:     Veg = Vegetarian      DF = Dairy Free    GF  = Gluten/Wheat Free 

HT = Hot        CD = Cold      SP = Soup      HD = Starter      MC = Main Course ACC = Accompaniment      DP = Dessert/Pudding     CBF = Cakes/Baked Fayre


NB Most of the following recipes have been submitted by various PR agencies so some will state specific brands of ingredients. As a courtesy to the agencies, I have left these brand names in the recipes (marked in red) however do use your imagination with regards to substitutes. E.g.  You can use your favourite brand of baked beans instead of Jo Blogg's baked beans.


Click the titles to go straight to the recipes on this page




Soups and Starters


Main Courses


Accompaniments & Side Dishes


Desserts, Cakes & Bakes

Food celebrations in January include:-


2nd National Buffet day
4th National Spaghetti Day
6th National Bean Day
6th National Shortbread Day
7th National Tempura Day
8th English Toffee Day
9th National Apricot Day
11th Milk Day
2nd Week National Pizza Week
20th Cheese Day
20th-26th Farmhouse Breakfast Week (UK)
24th Peanut Butter Day
26th Pistachio Day
29th National Potato Day (UK)
National Soup Month (US)






 Crab, Avocado & Potato Terrine
Serves 4 - 6    Prep Time: 40 minutes


8 medium sized potatoes
1 dressed crab
1 Hass avocado
1 hard boiled egg
1 large tomato
Dash of olive oil
Dash of aji amarillio chilli paste (or liquidized mild red chilli)
1 lime
Pinch of salt
2 tbsp fresh mayonnaise


1. Peel and boil the potatoes until they are tender and cooked through. Drain and set aside to cool. Once cool, mash them until smooth.

2. Stir in the oil, chilli paste, half the lime juice and salt. Line a terrine dish or deep oven dish (approx 5 x 10 inches x 4 inches deep) in cling film pressing it down to fit the dish.

3. Spread half the potatoes into the bottom of the dish (around 1 inch deep) and smooth out evenly.

4. Mix the crab with mayonnaise and the other half of the lime juice and spread this evenly over the potatoes.

5. Spread another layer of potatoes evenly over the filling. Then slice the avocados and coat with lime juice to stop browning and layer these over the potato. Spread the last later of potato to get to the top of the dish.

6. Chill for 10 minutes then take out of the fridge. Lay a serving platter upside-down over the top of the potato dish. Using both hands, flip the dish and platter over.

7. Remove and discard the cling film. Chop the tomato and boiled egg into cubes, season with salt and olive oil and use this to garnish the top.

Cod Rarebit with Edam

Serves 4   Prep & Cook  time: 15 minutes 


4 x 150g (5oz) cod loins or chunky cod fillets
300ml (½pt) semi- skimmed milk
4 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
50g (1¾oz) butter
50g (1¾oz) plain flour
125g (4½oz) Edam cheese, grated
5ml (1tsp) English mustard
2 egg yolks
10ml (2tsp) Worcestershire sauce
30ml (2tbsp) freshly chopped parsley



1. Place the milk in a large saucepan; add the peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the cod in a single layer, bring to the boil, cover and simmer gently for 2-3 minutes, until half cooked.


2. Carefully remove the cod with a fish slice, place in an ovenproof dish and keep warm. Reserve the milk.

3. Gently melt the butter in a medium pan and stir in the flour to make a paste.


4. Strain the milk and gradually add to the paste, whisking continuously until a smooth thick sauce is formed.


5. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheese, mustard, egg yolks, Worcestershire sauce and parsley.

6. Preheat the grill to high, top the fish with the mixture and grill for 4-6 minutes until bubbling and golden.


Cheddar & Haddock Fishcakes
Serves 4   Prep & cook time:  30 mins


35g salted butter
500g Mashed Potatoes
5g garlic, chopped
10g flat leaf parsley, chopped
80ml double cream
Pilgrims Choice smoked cheddar
250g poached smoked haddock, flaked
35g capers, chopped
60g egg, finely chopped
4 egg yolks
40g panko crumbs


1. Mix all the ingredients, apart from the panko crumbs and 20g of the butter, together and shape into 4 cakes

2. Coat the cakes in panko crumbs by pressing down hard into the cake

3. Heat a frying pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and pan fry the cakes until golden brown. Then add the remaining butter to the pan and finish sealing the cakes for a few minutes. Keep the cakes moving otherwise they will stick

4. To Serve: Remove the fish cakes from the pan and drain on kitchen towel, then serve with tartar sauce and a side salad of watercress



Lamb Rogan Josh
Serves 4          Prep & Cook time: 100 mins


450g/1lb lean lamb shoulder or leg cubes, cut into 2.5cm/1 inch cubes
15ml/1tbsp oil
2 medium onions, peeled and chopped or 1 500g pack prepared diced onions
5ml/1tsp garlic purée
1 x 420g  jar Rogan Josh sauce
6 small new potatoes, halved
100g/4oz prepared cauliflower florets (frozen are good too)
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
Natural yogurt, to garnish
Freshly chopped coriander leaves, to garnish


1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan and brown the lamb with the onion and garlic for 3-4 minutes.

2. Add the sauce, bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and cook for 1-1½ hours or according to the jar instructions.

3. 30 minutes before the end of the cooking time add the vegetables and continue to cook. Remove from the heat, season, if required and garnish with the yogurt and coriander.

4. Serve with prepared basmati rice and a selection of Indian relishes and poppadoms or naan bread.


Leek Dumplings

Makes 8         Prep & Cook time: 100 mins



1 tbsp olive oil
1 leek, finely chopped
200g self raising flour
100g vegetable suet
salt and freshly ground pepper


1. Mix together the flour and vegetable suet, add the leek, season well with salt and pepper and mix in enough water to form a soft dough. Shape into eight balls.


2. Place the dumplings on top of a casserole or stew spaced apart and bake uncovered for  30 minutes until the dumplings are puffed up.


Spiced red cabbage with apple

Serves 4       Prep & cook time: 30mins


400g/14oz Red Cabbage, finely shredded
2 Dessert Apples, quartered, cored and cut into 6mm/ ¼ - inch thick slices
1 Medium Red Onion, finely chopped
The Juice of ½ a large Orange
3 tbsp Cider Vinegar
1 teasp Ground Cinnamon or Allspice
4 tbsp Brown Sugar
2 tbsp. Water
Salt and Black Pepper


1. Place all the ingredients in a large microwaveable bowl and mix thoroughly to ensure the sugar and spices are well distributed throughout the mixture.

2. Cover with microwave clingfilm, pierce a few times with a small knife or fork and cook on high for 10 minutes.

3. Remove from the microwave, peel back the film, stir well, replace the clingfilm and continue cook on high for a further 10 minutes.

NB The exact timing will depend on how finely you shredded the cabbage and the wattage of your microwave. You may need an extra 5 minutes or so just bear in mind that the finished cabbage should be very soft.

4. After the complete cooking time, remove from the microwave, stir well, re-cover and allow to stand for five minutes before serving.

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20th January is Cheese Day


Sausage and Tomato pizza

Serves 4   Prep & Cook time: 35 minutes


275g strong plain bread flour
Pinch salt (optional)
1 sachet easy blend dried yeast
3 tbsp olive oil
150-160ml warm water
OR 2 ready prepared large pizza bases
6 tbsp ready prepared pizza topping sauce
Richmond thin sausages
½ green pepper, deseeded and finely diced
50g sweetcorn niblets
100g cheddar cheese, grated
125 g mini mozzarella balls


1. In a bowl mix together the flour, salt and yeast. Mix together the oil and water. Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the liquid. Bring the mixture together and knead on a lightly floured surface for 5 minutes. Roll the dough out to a 25 cm circle and line a pizza baking sheet. Set aside.

2. Pre heat the oven to 220 C, 425 F, gas mark 7. Cook the sausages in a roasting tin in the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and slice in half.

3. Spread the pizza topping sauce over the pizza dough and then arrange the sausages on top. Top with the remaining ingredients and bake in the oven for 12 minutes.

 Roasted Carrot & Feta Salad
Serves 4   Prep & Cook time 35mins

Veg  CD  MC  GF


450g/1lb carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
1 red onion, cut into wedges
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into wedges
60ml/4tbsp olive oil
2 whole cloves garlic
45ml/3tbsp pumpkin seeds
5ml/1tsp cumin seeds
juice half a lemon
1 tsp runny honey
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (100g) bag baby spinach leaves
100g/4oz feta cheese crumbled
30ml/2tbsp chopped fresh mint leaves




1. Preheat the oven to 220C/Fan 200C/Gas Mark 7. Place the carrots, onion, pepper and half the oil in a large roasting tin. Season well. Toss together until everything is coated in oil. Roast for 15 mins. Stir in the seeds and garlic and roast for a further 10 mins until the carrots are just tender but still have a bit of bite.

2. Remove the vegetables from the oven and remove the garlic cloves. On a chopping board, slip the garlic from the papery skin and using the blade of a knife work it to a smooth paste. Put the garlic paste in a small bowl with the remaining oil, lemon juice and honey and whisk together with a fork. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

3. Empty the spinach leaves into a large serving bowl, then add the roasted vegetables, feta cheese, chopped mint and pour over the dressing. Toss lightly together until mixed.

Chocolate Orange Cheesecake
Serves: 4-6      Prep Time: 1 hour plus chilling

Veg  CD  DP

1 x 150g pack Cadbury Fingers
50g butter, melted plus a little for greasing
1 orange
2 x 200g packs full fat soft and creamy cheese
397g can condensed milk
150g raspberries


1. Lightly butter and line the base of a 20cm round loose based cake tin

2. Put half the Cadbury Fingers in a freezer bag and crush with a  rolling pin until large crumbs. You can do this in a food processor.


3. Melt the butter in a saucepan, add the crumbs and mix together. Tip into the tin and press down with the back of a spoon to make a base. Chill

4. Keep 6 Cadbury Fingers to the side for decoration. Grate the orange zest into a large bowl. Add the soft cheese and condensed milk and beat until evenly mixed. Gradually whisk in the orange juice.

5. Roughly break the remaining Cadbury Fingers into about five pieces and fold into the mixture. Pour the cheesecake mix into the tin over the chocolate finger base and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight

When ready to serve, remove the cheesecake from the tin and decorate with the raspberries and the remaining Cadbury Fingers.


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20th-26th January is Farmhouse Breakfast Week (UK)

Honey Ham & Egg Bagel
Serves  4    Prep & Cook time: 10 mins

Mattessons Honey Roast Ham
4 Sesame Seed bagels
Butter or margarine for spreading
4 eggs
Handful of Rocket
1 teaspoon of mustard
3 tablespoons of mayonnaise
Salt and Pepper to taste



1. Poach the eggs directly into boiling water, or in a poached egg pan. Poach until yolk is set to preferred consistency.

2. Cut the four bagels in half and lightly toast under a grill. Spread with butter or margarine.

3. Arrange a slice of Honey Roast Ham on top of each of the bagels then add a few rocket leaves on top of the ham.

4. Place the poached egg on top of the rocket and drizzle with mustard mayonnaise.

Muesli porridge and strawberries
Serves 1   Prep & Cook time: 5 mins

25g/1oz jumbo oats
2 tbsp Swiss style muesli
200ml/7fl oz
Alpro soya Light  milk
1 tsp golden caster sugar
4 strawberries, hulled and sliced




1. Put the oats and muesli into a microwave-proof bowl. Pour over the milk and stir together.

2 Microwave on High 900w for 2½ minutes, stir and microwave for 30 seconds more until the oats are tender and the Alpro soya Light has absorbed. (Heat and stir through in a pan if you prefer.)

3 Add the golden caster sugar to sweeten, stir and top with strawberries


Eggs with Salmon
Serves 4      Prep & Cook time: 10 mins

8 slices brioche bread
8 large
Lion Quality eggs
4 tbsp milk or single cream
salt and freshly ground black pepper
knob of butter
4 slices smoked salmon
chopped fresh parsley to garnish



1. Toast the bread under the grill or in a toaster. Beat the eggs and milk or cream together with seasoning.

2. Melt the butter in a medium pan (non-stick makes cleaning easier!) add the egg mixture and cook, stirring, over a low heat for 4-5 mins or until the eggs are scrambled to your liking.

3. To serve, divide the eggs between the toast and top with the smoked salmon and parsley. Serve straight away.

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29th January is National Potato Day (UK)

MU Cottage pies
Serves 6     Prep & Cook time: 1 ½  hours


2 tbsp vegetable oil
450g minced beef
1 large onion
100g leek, diced
150g mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
200g swede, diced
200g carrots, diced
500ml beef stock
Salt and Pepper
For the mashed potato:
675g Maris piper potatoes, peeled
50g salted butter
6 tbsp milk
Sprinkle of pepper
MU Mature Cheddar, grated
1 egg yolk, beaten for brushing the top


1. First make the meat sauce. Take a large pan and place on the hob on a high heat. Heat the oil and fry the mince until golden then add the onion and diced carrot and cook for 10mins on a medium heat

2. Add the tomato puree and cook for a further 5mins. Then add the mushrooms, leeks, swede and seasoning and cook for a further 5mins

3. Add the stock and simmer for 20mins until the stock has reduced by half

4. While the meat is cooking boil the potatoes for the mash for 20mins. Preheat the oven to Oven temp 180°C / 350°F / Gas mark 4. Drain and mash the potato, then add the milk, butter, cheese and seasoning and beat the ingredients into the potato and set to one side

5. By this time the meat should be cooked. Add Worcestershire sauce and stir through

6. Place the meat sauce into an oven proof dish and pipe the potato on the top

7. Brush with the egg glaze and then bake in the pre-heated oven for 20-25mins until golden brown and crispy

Double Gloucester Shepherd’s Pie
Serves: 6     Cook & Prep time: 2½ hours


700g minced lamb
25g vegetable oil
25g butter
2 onions finely chopped
2 carrots cut into 1cm cubes
3 celery sticks cut into 1 cm cubes
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
30g tomato puree
30g tomato ketchup
3 glasses red wine (270g)
25g plain flour
200ml chicken stock
salt and pepper
2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
For the Potato Topping
900g peeled potatoes
25g butter
100g full fat milk
Pilgrims Choice Double Gloucester


1 Fry the lamb in the hot oil to seal the meat and colour it.

2 In a separate saucepan melt the butter and cook the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper. Add the cinnamon and chopped herbs. Cook until beginning to soften.

3 Add the lamb to the vegetables and continue to cook for a few minutes then a dd the tomato puree, ketchup, Worcestershire Sauce and red wine and cook until reduced.

5 Sprinkle the flour over the meat, stir constantly and cook for 2-3 minutes.

6 Add the stock and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally then leave to cook for 1 - 1 ½ hours adding a little water if required.

8 Meanwhile boil the potatoes until tender. Drain and mash with the butter, milk and black pepper. Add half of the cheese and return to the heat mixing well until melted.

9 Once the meat mixture is ready, spoon into an ovenproof serving dish. Spoon the potato over the meat and finish with the remaining half of grated cheese.

10 Place in a hot oven at 200c, 400f or gas 6 until the mash is crispy and the meat is piping hot.

Cottage Pie w/ Carrot Potato Mash

Serves: 4    Cook & Prep time: 60mins


500g extra-lean minced beef
1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, washed, trimmed and diced
2tbsp plain flour
500ml beef stock
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp tomato puree
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the mash
500g potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
225g carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
a knob of low-fat spread or butter


1. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and add the mince. Fry for 6mins, stirring occasionally, until browned. Add the garlic, onion and carrots and cook for a further 2mins. Stir in the flour and cook for 1min.

2. Add the stock to the pan, stirring, then add the Worcestershire sauce and tomato puree. Season with black pepper. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15mins, removing the lid for the final 5mins.

3. Meanwhile, cook the potatoes and carrots in a large pan of lightly salted water for 15mins or until both are tender. Drain well then mash with the low-fat spread or butter. Season with black pepper. Cover and set to one side.

4. Spoon the mince into a large shallow dish, then top with the carrot and potato mash, smoothing the surface. Place under a preheated grill for 4-5mins or until the top is golden brown. Serve hot with steamed vegetables.

Note: You can also freeze this dish in a suitable container for up to 3months. Thaw the dish thoroughly when you come to cooking and place in the oven at 200C/Fan 180C/Gas 6 for 25mins.


Potage Parmentier

Serves 2        Prep & Cook time: 30 mins


2 Medium sized Leeks, white parts only, washed and thinly sliced
1 large Potato, peeled and sliced
240ml/8fl.oz. Milk
240ml/8fl.oz Fresh Vegetable Stock
Salt and White Pepper
120ml/4fl.oz Double Cream
Fresh Chives or parsley to garnish




1. Place the leeks, potatoes, milk, stock, salt and white pepper in a medium saucepan. Bring to simmering point over a medium-high heat. Once at a rolling simmer, reduce the heat, cover and continue to cook gently for 15-20 minutes or until the potato is very tender.

2. Remove from the heat and allow it to cool, stirring for a couple of minutes then either transfer to a blender or purée in the saucepan using a hand held immersion blender.

3.Once it’s smooth, return to the saucepan, stir in the cream, taste and add more salt and pepper if necessary, then reheat gently without boiling.  If desired, thin the soup down a little more by adding a little more cream or milk.

To serve -  transfer to serving bowls and garnish with the snipped chives.


Fondant Garlic Potatoes

Prep and Cooking time:  40 minutes
Serves  2


2 Large Potatoes
25g/1oz Butter
1 teasp Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove, crushed
Approx. 240ml/8fl.oz. Chicken Stock
Salt and Black Pepper


1. Peel the potatoes, cut a thin slice from the top and the bottom of each - enough so it can stand upright on its own - then cut each potato in half widthways. The ideal size is around 5cm/2-inches deep but a little more or less won't matter so long as all the pieces are the same size.

2. If you want the traditional round sided barrel shape, use a plain dough cutter, around 5cm/2-inches in diameter depending on how large your potatoes are, to cut uniform shapes, then trim the sharp edges from the tops and bottoms to give a more rounded effect.

3. Heat the butter and olive oil over a medium heat in a small pan which has a close fitting lid. Once it starts to foam but not colour, add the potatoes, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently for around 5 minutes, basting from time to time, until golden brown.

4. Turn the potatoes over and continue to sauté for a further 5 minutes, basting once or twice, until golden brown.

5. Very carefully add the garlic and enough stock to come about one third up the sides of the potatoes. Take care as it will splutter fiercely. Bring to simmering point then cover with a lid, reduce the heat and cook very gently for around 20 minutes or until the potatoes are very very tender. Check half way through the cooking and add a little more stock if necessary to prevent it drying out and sticking.

Serve with any remaining liquid poured over the top of the potatoes.


For a vegetarian version, use a strong vegetable stock.


Glazed sausages w/ mushrooms & spring onion mash

Serves 4        Prep & Cook time: 45mins


Richmond thick sausages
2 tbsp instant gravy granules
150ml water
400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
For the mash:
800g potatoes, peeled and diced
3 tbsp milk
25g butter
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 tbsp parsley
To serve:
4 large flat mushrooms
Steamed baby carrots
Steamed baby sweet corn
Steamed green beans


1. Grill the sausages for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, mix together the granules and water in a frying pan. Add the chopped tomatoes and tomato puree. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring, then add the grilled sausages and simmer for a further 20 minutes.

2. Meanwhile Grill the mushrooms and boil the potatoes for 15 -20 minutes. Drain the potatoes and add the milk and butter mash well and fold in the spring onions and parsley.

3. Place the mushrooms on a plate and spoon the mash in the centre. Top with the sausages and drizzle with the glaze. Serve with the steamed vegetables.


Roast pork w/ warm plum & ginger chutney
Serves 4       Prep & cook time 90 minutes


500g Pork loin
4 Garlic cloves
250g New potatoes
25ml Olive oil
450g Red plums
1 Medium shallot
1-inch piece fresh ginger
100ml Cider vinegar
75g Brown sugar
1 Medium Savoy cabbage
Pinch of sea salt and pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/350F.

2. Wash and halve the potatoes and lay in a large roasting tray. Scatter over the garlic, drizzle with olive oil and season. Also season the pork and lay the whole loin on top of the potatoes in the roasting tray. Place in the oven and cook for around 45-60 minutes.

3. Peel and finely slice the shallot and ginger. Stone the plums and cut into 8 segments, add to a saucepan along with the sugar and vinegar. Bring to the boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes, until cooked down and until the vinegar smell has completely cooked out.

4. Then trim the ends and any torn leaves off the cabbage, cut out the core and finely slice. Heat up a little oil in a saucepan, add the cabbage, season and sweat down with a splash of water.

5. When the pork is cooked, rest for 20 minutes and then serve with the chutney and cabbage.

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January is Soup Month

Haddock, Mussel and Bacon Chowder
Serves 4-6    Prep & Cook time:  35 minutes


150ml/¼ pint wine (or water if preferred)
500g/1lb 2oz fresh mussels, cleaned
1tbsp olive oil
115g/4oz rindless, streaky bacon, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
600ml/1 pint vegetable stock
500g/1lb 2oz potatoes, peeled and cubed
350g boneless, skinless haddock fillet, cut into small chunks
75ml/3 fl oz double cream
150g/5 ½ oz frozen peas or petit pois
115g/4oz Edam cheese, cut into small cubes
3tbsp fresh chives, chopped


1. Place the mussels in a large pan, pour over the wine (or water if preferred), cover and cook for approximately 4 minutes until all the mussels are open. Drain and reserve the liquid. When cool enough to handle remove the mussels from their shells.

2. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and cook the bacon for 3 minutes. Add the onion and cook until softened, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic and cook for a further minute.

3. Pour in the stock and reserved mussel liquid and bring to the boil. Add the potatoes and simmer for 8 minutes. Stir in the haddock and cook for a further 3 minutes.

4. Pour in the cream, petit pois, mussels and warm through.

5. Stir in the Edam and chives and season to taste. Pour into warm serving bowls and serve with crusty bread.

English Tomato


Serves 8  Cook & Prep time:  See recipe

Veg  HT  MC  GF  DF

1 ½ kg tomatoes – cut into pieces
1 potato peeled and cut into pieces
2 leeks washed and cut into pieces
 2 tbsp rice
 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp sugar

To finish:
8 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Garnish with green salad leaves – optional



1. Wash the tomatoes, leeks and potatoes and cut them into pieces.

* 2. Place them into a pressure cooker along with the olive oil, sugar, salt, and the rice

3.Cover up with water, put the lid on the pressure-cooker and place it over high heat.

4. When it starts blowing, lower the heat and cook for 20 minutes. ALTERNATIVELY, using a “traditional” saucepan, bring the liquid to bubbling point and reduce immediately to a simmer for 50/60 minutes with the lid on – stir occasionally.

5. Let the steam go out completely, open the cooker, pour the soup through the crushing-machine and then strain it through a colander.

6. All tomato skins and seeds should be removed so all what remains is a smooth, creamy consommé.

7. Heat it up again to regain its colour, check the seasoning, rectify if necessary and add the olive oil.  Simmer to incorporate and smoother. Serve hot.


Spicy Squash and Cauliflower Soup
Serves 4      Prep & Cook time 55 mins
Veg  HT  MC  GF  DF


1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 medium  cauliflower, broken into florets
1kg butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 litre veg stock
salt and freshly ground pepper to serve


1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, cook over a low heat until softened

2. Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 1 minute, add spices and cook for a further minute.

3. Add the cauliflower and squash and toss to coat in spices then add the stock bring to the boil then simmer over a gentle heat for 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft.

4. Remove from the heat and puree in a blender until smooth, reheat if necessary and serve with a swirl of sour cream.

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February is Sweet Potato Month


Food celebrations in February include:-


3rd National Carrot Day
3rd – 9th National Dairy Week
3rd British Yorkshire Pudding Day

4th Homemade Soup Day
4th Stuffed Mushroom Day
5 – 12
Bramley Apple Week

10th Chinese New Year

12th Pancake Day
13th National Tortellini Day
Valentines Day
National Almond Day
National Cabbage Day
National Chip Week
20th Collop Day (Shrove Monday)

23rd National Banana Bread Day

25th National Chilli Day

26th National Pistachio Month
Sweet Potato Month



Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breast with Bean Casserole

Serves 4      Prep & Cook time 50 mins


4 chicken breasts
60g sliced chorizo
60g Pilgrims Choice cheddar
20g grated Mozzarella
1 red pepper, cut into eighths and char grilled
120g diced roasted sweet potato
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the bean casserole:
40ml olive oil
100g carrot, diced
100g onion, diced
80g celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed and chopped
500ml chicken stock
200g chopped tomatoes
80ml dry white wine
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
20g tomato puree

1 can of 300g mixed beans


1. For the bean casserole: Heat a saucepan, add oil and sauté the vegetables. Then add the garlic and cook until tender

2. Add the tomato puree and cook until the oil is released then de glaze the pan with white wine

3. Add the stock and reduce by a third, add the tomatoes and chilli and simmer for 20 minutes. Then add the beans and cook for 10 minutes. Season to taste and reduce further if too watery

4. For the stuffed chicken: Butterfly the chicken and lay the sliced chorizo inside. Place the Pilgrims Choice cheese on the top of this, roll the chicken up and season

5. Heat a frying pan and seal the chicken on all sides. Place in the oven 180 c and cook for 12 minutes, then leave to rest

6. To serve: Slice the chicken into 3 pieces widthways, serve on top of the casserole and garnish with the char grilled red pepper and roasted sweet potato


Warm Mushroom & Sweet Potato Salad
Serves 4      Prep & Cook time: 40mins


500g/1lb sweet potatoes, peeled
250g pack large flat mushrooms, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded, cut into chunks
1 red onion, sliced
2 unpeeled garlic cloves
45ml/3tbsp pine nuts
30ml/2tbsp olive oil
the juice of 1 lemon
2.5ml/½tsp Dijon mustard
a pinch of sugar
1 (95g) bag baby salad leaves
salt and ground black pepper


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas Mark 6. Cut the sweet potatoes into evenly sized large chunks. Place in a large roasting tin and drizzle over half the oil. Roast for 10 mins or until just tender.

2. Add the mushrooms, pepper, onion, garlic and pine nuts to the roasting tin. Toss well to coat in oil, season with a little salt and plenty of ground black pepper and roast for a further 15-20 mins. The potatoes and mushrooms should be tender.

3. Remove the tray from the oven and take the garlic out of the tray. Slip the papery skin from the garlic and crush to a pulp with the back of a spoon. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining oil, garlic pulp, lemon juice, mustard and sugar to make a dressing. Season to taste.

4. Empty the salad leaves onto a large platter, top with the roasted vegetables then drizzle over the dressing. Serve warm.


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February is Pistachio Month

ClemenGold with Caramel and Pistachios
Serves 4      Prep & Cook time 25 mins

150g caster sugar
25ml water
100g pistachio slivers
8 ClemenGold,  Mandarins, Tangerines or Clemantines
Small handful of mint


1. Peel the ClemenGolds carefully, removing as much pith as possible. Then slice the fruit whole into 1/2cm slices and arrange on a platter.

2. Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan (try not to have any sugar crystals on the sides of the saucepan, as it will crystallise) and then place on a high heat. Bring to the boil, and keep on a rolling simmer until it turns a medium golden brown. Do not stir the pan; just swill it around now and again to spread the colour.

3. When it has reached its golden hues, take off the heat and cool for 3 minutes. Please note that when it starts changing colour it will go hard really quickly, so watch it. It will also be incredibly hot, so be careful!

4. When it has cooled off a little, drizzle it over the ClemenGolds and let it set, then sprinkle with mint and pistachios and serve.

Pork, nectarine and pistachio terrine
Serves 10    Prep & Cook time: 90 minutes (marinate overnight)


300g pork fillet, trimmed and diced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 sprigs thyme
2 tbsp brandy
250g dry-cured streaky bacon
750g good quality sausage meat or skinned sausages
Small bunch parsley, chopped
Small bunch chives, chopped
100g pack shelled pistachios
2 South African nectarines, stoned and sliced


1. Put the pork fillet, garlic, the leaves from a thyme sprig and the brandy in a bowl, cover and leave to marinate overnight in the fridge

2. Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Line a 1kg terrine mould or loaf tin with tinfoil, put another sprig of thyme in the bottom and then line it with overlapping strips of bacon, leaving any extra hanging over the edge

3. Loosen the sausage meat with a fork, add it to the marinated pork and mix well. Stir through the parsley, chives and pistachios and season.

4. Pack the terrine with half the pork and lay the nectarine slices in a row down the center. Pack the remaining pork on top, flatten and stretch over the bacon. Cover with buttered foil and wrap the whole terrine in a double layer of clingfilm

5. Put the terrine in a roasting tin, half fill with boiling water and bake for 1 hour. Remove from the oven, cool and chill overnight in the fridge. For a firmer texture, place a board and a couple of tins on top

6. Remove the foil from the top and flip the terrine out onto a serving platter, removing the foil from the outside. There will be some jelly around the terrine, which can be scraped off

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3rd February is British Yorkshire Pudding Day

Sage Yorkshire Puddings

Serves 4-6      Prep Time: 10 mins - Cook Time: see instructions


2 Eggs
Approx 180ml/6fl.oz. Milk
100g/4oz Plain Flour
½ level teasp Salt
1 heaped teasp Dried Sage
Vegetable Oil


1. Preheat the oven to 220C, 425F, Gas mark 7. Put enough vegetable oil in a shallow baking tin (approx 20cm x 25cm/ 8x10-inches) or a 4-hole Yorkshire pudding tin or a 12-hole roasting tin to cover the base to a depth of approx 3mm/1/8 inch and place in the oven to get very hot.

2. Meanwhile, break the eggs into measuring jug, add enough milk to make it up to 300ml/10fl.oz. and whisk together.

3. Add the flour, salt and dried sage and whisk until very smooth with no lumps.

4. Carefully remove the tin(s) from the oven, making sure the fat is very hot and fill as follows:-

Large single Yorkshire or 4-hole tin - pour the batter into the centre of the tin, filling to 2/3rds

Popovers - pour the batter into the centre of the holes, filling to half

5. Return to the hot oven straight away and bake until well risen and golden as follows:-

Large Yorkshire - 30-40 minutes
4-hole individual Yorkshires - 20-25 minutes
Popovers - 15-20 minutes

Serve hot with roast meats, in particular pork or even roast chicken.

Apple & Blueberry Yorkshires
Serves 4     Cook & Prep Time: 35mins


Vegetable Oil
2 small Apples
25g/1oz Butter
50g/2oz Sugar (Granulated, brown or caster)
150ml/5fl.oz. Milk
1 Egg
75g/3oz Plain Flour
2 tbsp Maple Syrup plus extra for serving
75g/3oz Frozen or Fresh Blueberries


1. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6. Place about 25mm/¼-inch of oil in the bottom of 4 of the holes of a 6-hole deep muffin tin and place in the oven whilst it's pre-heating.

2. Peel and core the apples then cut into small dice (no larger than 1cm/½-inch.

3. Melt the butter in a small frying pan stir in the sugar then add the apple and cook over a medium heat for 4-5 minutes, turning and stirring frequently, until just softened.

4. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the apple mixture to a large plate, spread out and place in the fridge whilst you make the batter.

5. Meanwhile, place the milk, egg, flour and maple syrup in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand or electric whisk until well blended and smooth.

6. Add the cooled apple to the batter and mix well.

7. Make sure the oil in the muffin tin is very very hot. If it's not sizzling, then heat on the hob. Once sizzling, divide the apple/batter mixture between the four holes then sprinkle the fresh or frozen blueberries on top.

8. Place in the oven immediately and bake for 15 minutes until golden brown and slightly risen.

Best served hot with ice cream and drizzled with extra maple syrup or serve at room temperature.


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3rd February is Carrot Day

Bean & Carrot Patties

Serves 6     Prep + Cook time: 55 mins


1 onion, finely chopped
15ml/1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, crushed
450g/1lb carrots,  washed and chopped
5ml/1tsp ground cumin
5ml/1tsp ground coriander
200ml/7floz vegetable stock
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (400g) can mixed or red kidney beans, drained
75g/3oz fresh Wholewheat breadcrumbs
45ml/3tbsp chopped fresh coriander
A little olive oil
Guilt-free Slaw
225g/8oz white cabbage, stalk removed
225g/8oz carrots, washed
half a small onion, finely chopped
60ml/4tbsp virtually fat-free mayonnaise
60ml/4tbsp low fat natural yogurt
10ml/2tsp Dijon mustard




1. Heat the oil in a large pan, add the onion and sauté for 2 mins. Add the garlic, carrots, cumin and coriander and stir for 1 minute. Pour in the stock, season well and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 10-15 mins or until the carrots are tender. Leave to cool.

2. Drain the liquid from the carrots. Then use a potato masher to mash them until lump free. Add the drained beans and mash again until a rough mash is formed. Stir in the breadcrumbs and coriander. Mix well and adjust the seasoning to taste.

3. When cold, divide the mixture into six then use wet hands to shape each piece into a round pattie about 2.5cm/1in thick. The patties can be chilled at this point if you’re not serving them straight away.

4. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/ Gas Mark 7 and put a large baking sheet in to preheat. Spray or brush a little oil on both sides of the patties then place them on the hot baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 mins or until pale golden.

5. To make the coleslaw, finely shred the cabbage, coarsely grate the carrots and mix together in a large bowl with the onion. Add the mayonnaise, yogurt and mustard and mix thoroughly. Chill until required. If liked serve patties in a toasted bun with the coleslaw.


Honey and Thyme Roasted Carrots

Serves: 4    Prep and Cooking time: 35 mins


450g/1lb carrots, washed and trimmed
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp runny honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and freshly ground black pepper
a few fresh thyme leaves or pinch of dried


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C/ 400F/Gas 6. Cut the carrots into thick batons - try and make them similar sizes and then they will cook evenly. Place in a roasting tin, add the oil, honey and lemon juice and seasoning and toss well to mix.

2. Roast the carrots for 20-25mins, stirring halfway through this time, until the carrots are golden and tender. Scatter over the herbs and serve warm.

As well as being naturally delicious carrots are also low in calories, fat, saturates and salt but packed with the important antioxidant beta-carotene, which when converted into Vitamin A, is vital for eye health, keeps your skin healthy and elastic, and is essential for the proper functioning of the immune system.


Oaty Carrot & Thyme Muffins
Makes 12      Prep & Cook time: 35mins



175g/6oz plain flour
50g/2oz porridge oats
7.5ml/1 1/2tsp baking powder
2.5ml/1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
10ml/2tsp mustard powder
5ml/1tsp dried thyme
salt and ground black pepper
225g/8oz carrots, washed, and coarsely grated
100g/4oz Mature Cheddar cheese, grated
100ml/4 fl.oz vegetable oil
100ml/4 fl.oz milk
2 large eggs


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Fan 160°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line a 12 hole (45ml/3tbsp capacity) patty tin with paper cases.


2. Mix the flour, oats, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, mustard and thyme together in a large bowl. Season with plenty of ground black pepper and a good pinch of salt.

3.  Stir in the carrots and ¾s of the cheese. Mix together the oil, milk and egg. Add to the dry ingredients and mix together briefly.


4.  Spoon the mixture into the paper cases, sprinkle over the remaining cheese. Bake for 20-25 mins or until risen and golden brown on top.


Cool in the tin for 5 mins before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. Best served


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5-12th February is Bramley Apple Week


Eve’s Pudding w/ Almond topping

Serves  3- 4   Prep and Cook time 65 mins

675g/1 ½ lb Cooking Apples such as Bramleys
75g/3oz Granulated Sugar
120ml/4 fl.oz. Water
For the topping
50g/2oz Butter
75g/3oz Caster Sugar
2 Eggs
100g/4oz Self-Raising Flour
3 tbsp Toasted flaked Almonds

1. Preheat the oven to 190C, 375F, Gas mark 5 and grease a shallow ovenproof dish with some of the butter.
2. Peel and core the apples then cut into 1cm/½-inch cubes. Place in a saucepan together with the sugar and water and cook over a medium heat, stirring from time to time, for 5-10 minutes until the apple begins to soften.
3. Meanwhile, cream together the butter and sugar then gradually beat in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour and beat well with a wooden spoon.
4. Transfer the apples to the greased ovenproof dish then spread the cake mixture over the hot apples, spreading evenly.
5. Sprinkle the flaked almonds evenly over the cake mixture and bake for about 35 minutes until risen, golden brown and firm to the touch.
Great served with lashings of custard.


Apple, Pear and Cinnamon Cake
Prep and Cook time:  90mins

225g butter, softened
225g soft light brown sugar
4 eggs, lightly beaten
225g self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
350g Bramley apples, peeled and grated
1 tsp cinnamon
1 Conference pear, thinly sliced
2 tbsp apricot jam to glaze


1. Preheat the oven to 180C or gas mark 4, and grease and line the base of a 20cm deep spring form tin.

2. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale and creamy, gradually add the eggs a little at a time, beating well after each addition.

3. Fold in the flour, baking powder and cinnamon, stir to combine then stir in the apple. Spoon into the tin then arrange the pear slices on the top.

4. Place in the oven and bake for about 1 hour and until a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.

5. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before removing, then place on a cooling rack. Gently heat the apricot jam until melted then brush over the pear slices to glaze and leave to cool completely.

Apple and Ginger Pancakes
Serves 2   Cook & Prep time

1 large Bramley Apple peeled and sliced
1 tbsp Caster Sugar
1 teasp finely chopped Stem Ginger


1. Place apples in a saucepan with 2 tbsp of water and sugar and cook over a gently heat for about 10mins, stirring occasionally.


2. When the apples are soft and reduced to a pulp stir in chopped stem ginger.

3. Lay one pancakes on a plate, spoon half the apple over half then fold the other half over. Repeat the process with the second pancake.


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10th February is Chinese New Year

(Year of the Snake)


Mushroom & Ginger Stir Fry
Serves 4   Prep & Cook time: 25 mins


15ml/1tbsp groundnut oil
1 red pepper, deseeded and sliced
2 carrots, peeled and cut into fine sticks
100g/4oz broccoli florets
250g white closed cup mushrooms, sliced
4 spring onions, trimmed and sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1tbsp finely chopped fresh ginger
300ml/½pt Vegetable or chicken stock
30ml/2tbsp rice wine vinegar
30ml/2tbsp rice wine
15ml/1tbsp light soy sauce
15ml/1tbsp tomato purée
10ml/2tsp cornflour, blended to a paste with a little water
100g/4oz oyster mushrooms, torn in half
thread egg noodles to serve


1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok. When hot add the pepper, carrots and broccoli and stir fry for 2 mins. Add the closed cup mushrooms, spring onions, garlic and ginger and continue to stir fry for 3-4 mins over a high heat until all the vegetables have taken on some golden colour.
2. Mix the stock, vinegar, wine, soy sauce, tomato puree and cornflour together. Add the oyster mushrooms to the wok, stir well, then pour over the liquid and bring to the boil. As soon as the sauce has boiled and thickened, remove from the heat and serve hot with 45-60ml/3-4tbsp thread egg noodles.


Beefy Spring Stir-Fry
Serves 4    Prep & Cook time: 30 mins


450g/1lb sirloin steak, cut into strips
15ml/1tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
1 small red onion, peeled and finely sliced
175g/6oz broccoli florets
100g/4oz mangetout
100g/4oz button mushrooms, halved
1 bok choi or pak choi, halved
75ml/5tbsp good, hot beef stock
30ml/2tbsp horseradish sauce
15-30ml/1-2tbsp light soy sauce
15-30ml/1-2tbsp sherry vinegar


1. Heat the oil in a large non-stick wok until really hot. Season the beef then add to the wok and cook for 1 minute until browned, but only just cooked. Remove from the wok with a slotted spoon and place on a plate.

2. Add the onion to the wok and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add the broccoli, mangetout, mushrooms and bok or pak choi. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes then add the stock and horseradish. Stir to combine.

3. Return the beef to the wok with any meat juices from the plate and add the soy sauce and sherry vinegar.

4. Serve the stir-fry with plain boiled rice.


Oriental Sticky Pork Ribs
Serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a starter 90mins plus marinating

675g/1 ½ lb Pork Ribs, separated
For the marinade
1 tbsp freshly grated Root Ginger
2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
4 tbsp (2fl.oz.) Soy Sauce
6 tbsp (3fl.oz.) Honey
4 tbsp (2fl.oz.) Hoisin Sauce
4 tbsp (2fl.oz.) Sweet Chilli Sauce


1. Place the ribs in a shallow non-metallic container large enough to take the ribs in one layer. To save on washing up, you can use the plastic packaging the ribs came in, an ovenproof dish or a large sealable plastic food bag.

2. Combine all the marinade ingredients then pour over the ribs and turn to coat. Cover with clingfilm then refrigerate and leave to marinate for 2-12 hours., turning 2 or 3 times during the marinating time if possible.

3. Preheat the oven to 170°C, 325F, Gas Mark 3. If you didn’t use an oven proof dish, transfer the ribs and marinade to a roasting tin large enough to take the ribs in one layer, cover well with aluminium foil then bake for 1 ½ hours, turning occasionally and adding a little boiling water if it dries out too. Prepare in advance - This can be done a couple of hours before serving.

4. After the cooking time increase the oven temperature to very hot 200C , 400F, Gas Mark 7, uncover the ribs and turn to coat, then and roast for a further 20 minutes, or until well browned and sticky.

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12th February is Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday)


Persimon pancake stack
Serves 4 


135g/4¾oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
130ml/4½fl oz milk
1 large egg, lightly beaten
2 tbsp melted butter or olive oil, plus extra for cooking
2 Spanish Persimon, thinly sliced
50g pomegranate seeds
Yoghurt and maple syrup or honey to serve


1. Sift the flour, baking powder, salt and caster sugar into a large bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, lightly whisk together the milk and egg, then whisk in the melted butter.

3. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and, using a fork, beat until you have a smooth batter. Let the batter stand for a few minutes.

4. Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat and add a knob of butter. When it's melted, add a ladle of batter (or two if your frying pan is big enough to cook two pancakes at the same time). It will seem very thick but this is how it should be.

5. Wait until the top of the pancake begins to bubble, then turn it over and cook until both sides are golden brown and the pancake has risen to about 1cm (½in) thick.

6. Repeat until all the batter is used up.

7. Place the pancakes on a plate and layer the persimmon slices in between each pancake

8. Finish with a scatter of pomegranate seeds, a dollop of yoghurt and a drizzle of maple syrup or honey

Ratatouille filled pancakes
Serves 2


4 pancakes
1 tbsp of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 red pepper, deseeded and diced
1 small aubergine, diced
1 courgette, sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato puree
Green salad, to serve


1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add onion and cook for 5mins. Add pepper, aubergine, garlic and courgette and cook for a further 5mins.

2. Add chopped tomatoes and tomato puree and cook over a medium heat for 15mins.

3. Lay one pancake on a plate, spoon a quarter of the ratatouille mixture over one half of the pancake, then fold over other half over. Repeat the process with the remaining pancakes.

4. Transfer pancakes to an oven proof dish and cook in a preheated over at 200C for 10mins.


Tuna, sweetcorn & red pepper
Serves 2


cheese sauce
200g tin tuna in water
½ diced red pepper
3 tbsp sweetcorn kernels
Green salad to serve


1. Place cheese sauce and tuna in a saucepan and gently heat. Stir in red pepper and sweetcorn.

2. Lay one pancake on a plate, spoon a quarter of the cheese mixture over one half of the pancake, and then fold over other half over. Repeat the process with the remaining pancakes.

3. Transfer pancakes to an oven proof fish and cook in a preheated over at 200C for 10mins. Serve with a green salad.

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14th February is Valentine's Day

Stuffed braised lamb’s heart

Serves 4-6      Prep & Cook time: 160 minutes 


4 prepared lamb’s hearts
8 streaky bacon rashers
For the onion and mushroom stuffing:
40g/1½oz butter
1 small onion, peeled and chopped
50g/2oz mushrooms, chopped
75g/3oz sausagemeat
15ml/1tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley
15ml/1tbsp freshly chopped tarragon
Salt and freshly milled black pepper
2.5ml/½tsp ground mace
1 small egg, beaten
For the braising sauce:
15ml/1tbsp olive oil
15ml/1tbsp plain flour
200ml/7fl.oz good, hot beef stock
1 x 200g can chopped tomatoes with garlic
Dash Tabasco sauce, optional
100ml/3½fl.oz red wine
30ml/2tbsp freshly chopped flat-leaf parsley


1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4, 180C, 350F.

2. Prepare the stuffing, heat half the butter in a large non-stick pan and cook the onion and mushrooms. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the remaining ingredients.

3. To make the braising sauce, heat the oil in the same frying pan, add the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes. Gradually add the stock, tomatoes Tabasco (if used) and wine. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, season and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the parsley, cover and set aside.

4. Season the hearts and spoon the stuffing mixture into the cavity of each. Wrap with the bacon and secure with butcher’s string. Heat the remaining butter in the same frying pan and brown the hearts on both sides. Transfer to a roasting dish.

5. Pour over the sauce, cover and cook for 2 hours, or until the hearts are tender.

6. Remove the butcher’s string, slice and serve with creamy mash and seasonal vegetables.

Share my Heart Galette

Serves 2    Prep and cooking time:  40mins plus cooling



1 Orange

100g/4oz Sugar

240ml/8fl.oz. Water plus extra

1/2  Vanilla Bean, cut open

1 x 5cm/2-inch stick Cinnamon

1 large Pear, peeled and halved lengthways

150g/+5oz Puff or Flaky Pastry

1 Egg, beaten

100g/4oz Dark Chocolate

A large knob of Butter

1 tbsp Water

Whipped Cream to serve (Optional)




1.  Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, Gas Mark 6.


2. Meanwhile, cut one thin slice from the middle of the orange and set aside.  Squeeze the juice from the remainder of the orange into a small saucepan then pare thick strips of peel from the remaining orange shells and add them to the saucepan together with the sugar, water, vanilla and cinnamon. Place the saucepan over a medium heat and bring to the boil, stirring.


3. Once the sugar has melted, add the pear halves and, if necessary  enough extra water to just cover. Reduce the heat, partially cover and simmer for 15-25 minutes or until the pears are just tender. Don't overcook or you will find it difficult to slice them.


4.  Meanwhile, roll the pastry out to a thickness no less than 5mm/1/4 inch then cut into a heart shape.  Using a sharp knife, make a very shallow cut around the edge to form a border about 12mm/ 1/2- inch wide, making sure not to cut all the way through. Place the on a baking sheet which ahs been lined with parchment paper then brush the surface with a little beaten egg. Bake at the tope of the preheated over for 10-15  minutes until risen and golden.


5. Once cooked, remove the saucepan containing the pears from the heat and allow to cool.


6. Once cooked, remove the pastry from the oven. Very gently remove the centre heart from the case. You may have to carefully run over the cuts with the tip of a sharp knife. Cool  on a wire rack.


7. Once the pears and pastry are cold, make the chocolate sauce by placing a small heatproof mixing bowl over a pan of boiling water. Break the chocolate into small pieces and place in the bowl together with the butter and water. Stir until the chocolate melts and the mixture is well combined.


8. To assemble the dish: Remove the pears from the poaching liquid, remove the cores and thickly slice lengthways. Pour 3/4 of the chocolate sauce into the pastry case then arrange the pear slices over the top. Drizzle the remaining chocolate over the pears (best done using a piping bag) then garnish with the peel of the slice of orange. Serve at room temperature with whipped cream if desired.

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16th February is National Almond Day

Almond Berry lime drizzle cake
Serves 12 slices
Prep & cook time: 80 minutes

 225g softened butter, plus extra for greasing
 225g golden caster sugar
 4 medium eggs
 2 limes, grated zest and juice
 250g self-raising flour, plus extra

A pinch of salt
 25g ground almonds
 100g each blueberries & blackberries
 8 tbsp lime juice (about 4 limes)
 1 lime, grated zest
 140g golden caster sugar


 1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4/fan oven 160C. Line the base and sides of a 20cm/8in square cake tin (not loose-based) with greaseproof paper and butter the paper.

 2. Cream the butter and sugar together until light. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a little flour towards the end to prevent curdling. Beat in the lime zest, then fold in the flour, salt and almonds. Fold in enough lime juice - about 3 tablespoons - to give you a good dropping consistency (the mixture should drop easily from the spoon when tapped).

 3. Fold in three quarters of the blueberries and blackberries and turn into the prepared tin. Smooth the surface, then scatter the remaining fruit on top - it will sink as the cake rises.

 4. Bake for about 1 hour (cover with foil if beginning to brown too much), or until firm to a gentle prod in the centre. A skewer pushed into the centre should be clean when removed.

 5. Meanwhile make the syrup: put the lime juice, zest and sugar in a small saucepan. Put over a gentle heat and stir, without allowing to bubble. The sugar should dissolve a little. As soon as the cake comes out of the oven, prick all over with a skewer then spoon the syrup over it. To store, cool before wrapping in paper and/or foil.

 6. Carefully remove the cake from the tin, discard the lining paper and cut into 12 pieces to serve.

Almond fruit mince tart
Serves 8-10
Prep & Cook time: 70 minutes (plus chilling)

100g icing sugar
90g unsalted butter
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
300g plain flour
50g ground almonds
300g dried cherries
165g chopped South African plums
125g currants
200ml water
50g butter, chopped
1 egg
60g brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, scraped, seeds only
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
¼ tsp each mixed spice, ground cloves, ground cinnamon
50g plain flour


1. For the pastry, beat the sugar, butter and cinnamon in an electric mixer (2-3 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, beat well to combine. Sift in flour, fold in the ground almonds, add a pinch of sea salt, turn onto a lightly floured work surface and knead lightly until smooth. Wrap pastry in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes

2. Roll 1/3 of the pastry on a lightly floured work surface to 2mm thick, refrigerate on a baking tray and set aside

3. Roll remaining to line a 28cm x 20cm (11 x 8 inch) baking tin and place tin on an oven tray. Refrigerate for 20 minutes

4. Preheat oven to 160ºC, fan 140ºC, gas mark 3. Combine fruit and water in a saucepan, stir over medium heat until all the liquid is absorbed. Cool

5. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat then cool. Whisk egg, sugar, vanilla seeds and spices until thick and pale. Fold in the melted butter and flour, fold in the fruit, spoon into baking tin and decorate the top with the remaining pastry in a lattice pattern. Bake until firm (18-20 minutes)

Gold Top Milk Biscuit Stars
Makes approx 12 
Prep & Cook Time: 20 mins

150g plain flour, sifted
100g plain wholemeal flour, sifted
50g ground almonds
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp salt
60g caster sugar
50g Gold Top slightly salted butter, diced
1 tsp vanilla essence
approx 200ml Gold Top Milk


1. Pre heat the oven to 200C, 180 C fan, 400 F, gas Mark 6

2. Sift the flours, ground almonds, baking powder, salt and 50g sugar into a food processor bowl.

3. Add the diced butter and pulse the processor until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

4. Mix together the vanilla essence and milk. Gradually add the milk until a soft dough is formed. You may not need all the milk. Turn out on a slightly floured board and lightly "knead" for 30 seconds,

5. Roll to about 3mm thickness and cut with a floured star-shaped cutter.

6. Place on a baking sheet lined with non-stick parchment. Brush the biscuits with the remaining milk and sprinkle with the remaining caster sugar.

7. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.


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23rd February  is National Banana Bread Day


Iced Banana Bread Ring

Prep and Cooking time:  60 minutes plus cooling
Makes 1 x 23cm/10-inch Ring Cake

275g/10oz (3 medium) over ripe Bananas, mashed
2 Eggs
150g/+5oz Caster Sugar
150g/+5oz Softened Butter
300g/11oz Self Raising Flour
A Pinch of Salt
For the Glace Icing Drizzle
100g/4oz Icing (confectioners) Sugar - sieved
Approx 30ml/2 tbsp Fresh Lemon Juice


1. Preheat the oven to 180C, 350, Gas mark 4 and lightly grease a 23cm/10-inch Bundt tin or ring mould.

2. Place the peeled bananas in a large mixing bowl, mash well then add the eggs, sugar and butter and beat together with a wooden spoon or an electric mixer until well blended.

3. Add the flour and salt and fold in with a spatula until just mixed. Do not over-mix.

4. Pour mixture into prepared tin and bake for 40-45 minutes, until a wooden toothpick or knife inserted into centre comes out clean. Allow to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes, before turning out onto a wire rack. Allow to cool completely.

5. Place the icing sugar in a mixing bowl, add the lemon juice and mix until well blended and smooth then drizzle over the cake so the icing runs down the sides. Allow the icing to completely set before serving.

National Chilli Day 25th February


Spicy Mushroom and Bean Chilli
Serves 4     Prep & Cook time: 40 mins


15ml/1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 green pepper, roughly chopped
200g pack button mushrooms, halved
15ml/1tbsp ground paprika
10ml/2tsp ground cumin
5ml/1tsp chilli powder (more if liked)
1 (400g) can chopped tomatoes
15ml/1tbsp tomato puree
1 (400g) can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
a pinch of sugar
salt and ground black pepper
brown rice to serve


1. Heat the oil and sauté the onion for 3 mins until soft. Add the garlic, pepper and mushrooms and sauté for a further 3 mins until the mushrooms are tinged brown.


2. Add the spices and cook, stirring for 30 secs.

3. Add the tomatoes, puree, beans and sugar, then bring to the boil.


4. Season to taste, turn down to simmer and cook gently for 20 mins or until thickened and reduced. Serve hot with a 45-60ml/3-4tbsp brown rice.


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