Ploughman’s cheese and pickle tart

I saw this recipe in the Radio Times the other week and thought I’d give it a go on Friday afternoon. It’s easy to do and very tasty. (a good, strong cheddar is essential.) It makes a nice snacky alternative to the more usual quiche.

350g of shortcrust pastry
1 tablespoon of paprika
Plain flour for dusting
4 large eggs
150ml of milk
200g of Branston pickle (small chunks version)
250g of mature cheddar, grated

Roll out the pastry a little, sprinkle over the paprika and then knead for a couple of minutes, until the paprika is incorporated into the pastry.

Set the pastry aside in the fridge to chill for 15 minutes or so.

Pre-heat the oven to 180.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the pastry out to a thickness of about 5mm, and large enough to line a quiche or flan tin.

Line the tin with the pastry and roughly trim the excess off from the edge.

Prick the pastry a few times with a fork – this will prevent it from rising whilst baking. Then line the pastry with greaseproof paper and fill the dish with baking beads.

Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove from the oven and take out the baking beads and greaseproof paper. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Whilst this is cooking whisk the eggs together with the milk and season well with salt and black pepper.

Once the pastry shell is out of the oven spread a layer of the Branston pickle evenly over the base of the shell. Then sprinkle the grated cheese over the pickle, again, ensuring that all of th pickle is evenly covered/

Pour the egg and milk mixture over the cheese and then place the tart in the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the filling is golden and just set.


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Singapore noodles

Last night I fancied some sort of tir-fry and so I flicked through my Big Book of Wok and Stir-Fry cookbook and found this tasty dish. It’s a nice recipe with plenty of flavour and you can vary the levels of spiciness by changing the curry paste that you use, and if you want it really spicy by bunging in more bird’s-eye chillies. The recipe calls for prawns, which I’m not that keen on, so I bought a couple of scallops from the fish counter in Sainsbury’s, roughly chopped them and used them instead.

Serves 4

200g of find rice noodles
1 tablespoon of curry paste, mild, medium or hot, to taste. (I used a Balti paste as that’s what I had to hand.)
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
6 tablespoons of water
2 tablespoons of groundnut oil
1 onion, thinly sliced
2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
85g of tenderstem broccoli, cut into small florets
85g of fine green beams, cut into 1-inch lengths
100g of pork fillet, cut into thin strips
85g of cooked, peeled prawns
55g of Chinese leaves, or romaine lettuce, thinly shredded
2 spring onions, white parts only, thinly shredded
1 fresh bird’s eye chill, deseeded and thinly sliced
Sprig of coriander to garnish

Cook the noodles according to the packet instructions, drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix the curry paste, turmeric and 4 tablespoons of water, then set aside/

Heat a wok over a high heat and then add the oil. Add the onions and garlic and stir-fry for a couple of minutes, until the onion starts to soften.

Add the broccoli, beans and remaining 2 tablespoons of water to the wok and continue to stir-fry for a further 2-3 minutes.

Add the pork slices and cook for 2 minutes. Then add the prawns, Chinese leaves and chillies and continute to stir-fry for a further 2 minutes until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables and tender but still slightly al dente. Remove the meat and vegetables from the wok and keep warm.

Add the spring onions, curry paste mixture and noodles to the wok. Use two forks to mix the noodles and onions well together and cook for 2 minutes untile the noodles are hot and a dark golden colour. Returm the meat and vegetables to th wok, stir well to combine and cook for a further minute.

Serve immediately, garnished with a sprig of coriander.

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Navarin of Lamb with flageolet beans

On Saturday evening I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who, (we watched the series finale for the current season and then followed up with the special, feature-length edition of the Arthurian-themed Sylvester McCoy story Battlefield.) and so I flicked through the Rick Stein cookbook, Long Weekends, and found this tasty recipe. It takes about an hour and a half to cook, so it takes a while, but once it’s simmering in the pan you don’t need to do much to it, apart from the occasional stir to prevent sticking, until you have to add the potatoes and beans near the end.

I used tinned flageolet beans rather than dried, so they only had to be added near the end, and didn’t need the two hours pre-soaking.

Serves 4

225g of dried flageolet beans, or a 400g tin of beans
1kg of lamb shoulder, cut into 3-4cm cubes
2 tablespoons of olive oil
50g of butter
2 onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
3 carrots, cut into thick slices
1 tablespoon of tomato purée
2 tablespoons of plain flour
600ml of chicken stock
3-4 sprigs of thyme
1 sprig of rosemary
1½ teaspoons of fine salt
6 turns of black pepper
12 small new potatoes, scrubbed
Chopped fresh parsley leaves, to serve

If using dried flageolet beans then soak them in cold water overnight. Then, before cooking place in a saucepan of water, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, then simmer for a further 30, before draining and setting aside.

In a large saucepan heat the oil and butter and brown the lamb pieces. (You may need to do this in batches, if so, use a little of the oil and butter for each batch. Also, you may need to deglaze the pan, with a little water or red wine, between batches. If so retain the deglazing liquid for use in the cooking.) Once all of the lamb is browned, remove it from the pan and set aside.

Reduce the heat to medium, add any remaining oil and butter to the pan and fry the onions until soft and golden. Then add the garlic, carrots, tomato purée and flour, stir well to combine and fry for another minute.

Return the lamb, and any deglazing liquid, to the pan and add the chicken stock. If using dried flageolet beans then add them now.

Add the thyme and rosemary and season well with the salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently, for an hour and a quarter, stirring occasionally.

Whilst the dish is cooking, boil the new potatoes for about 5 minutes or so, and then drain and set aside.

After 1¼ hours and the potatoes . If you are using tinned flageolet beans then add them now. Stir well to combine and cook for a further 15 minutes, until the potatoes, lamb and beans are all tender.

Remove the thyme and rosemary sprigs scatter with the choped parsley and serve.

I served this with wilted spinach.

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Duck legs with orange and mustard

Last night I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and a plethora of Doctor Who (the latest new series episode, the final episode of The Romans and the first three episodes of The Web Planet) and so I had a qick flick through y recipe books to see what I could find. Nothing really took my fancy, so I decided to cobble this recipe together myself. Nd very well it came out too!

Serves 2

2 duck legs
1 duck breast (skin on), cut into thin strips
4 shallots, peeled and quartered
3 preserved lemons, quartered
3-4 cloves of garlic, peeled but left whole
100ml of white wine
1 teaspoon of English mustard
Juice and zest of half an orange.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3-4 sprigs of thyme

Place the duck legs, and strips of breast, in an ovenproof dish and scatter over the shallots, preserved lemons, garlic and thyme sprigs.

Mix together the wine, mustard, orange juice and orange zest and season with salt and pepper. Whisk to combine.

Pour the mixture over the duck, shallots and lemons and leave to marinte for at least half an hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200.

Roast the duck in the oven for 45 minutes.

When cooked, serve immediately with the breast strips, shallots, garlic and lemons and with the remains of the marinade drizzled over.


I served this with a rocket and pomegranate salad and golden potatoes

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Drunken chicken with Lemon, Garlic and Herb Roast Potatoes and Boureki

Yesterday Neil and I had our friend David over for dinner and a film. (A View To A Kill, fact fans!) Rather than a heavy Sunday roast on what was the hottest day of the year so far, I flicked through my The Islands of Greece cookbook and found three tasty recipes that complimented each other well. The recipes are all light, flavoursome and summery. They work well together, although, I must say, all three recipes contain quite a bit of garlic, so I left the garlic out of the Boureki.

The Boureki, which is listed in the book as being ‘Chania style’ as the recipe comes from Chania in Crete, contains potatoes and, as I was already cooking a potato dish, I decided to substitute aubergine instead and that worked rather well. It’s more Boureki Neil Style

For the chicken:

Serves 3

3 chicken leg portions
2 tablespoons of ouzo or other aniseed liquor (I used Pastis as the lovely Vanessa had brought me some the last time she came to visit for just such an eventuality)
60ml of olive oil
60ml of white wine
2 tablespoons of lemon juice
½ a teaspoon of clear honey
6 round shallots, peeled and quartered
3 garlic cloves, peeled and cut into chunks
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Leaves from 3 sprigs of thyme
Chopped parsley to serve

Place all the ingredients, except for the parsley, in an ovenproof baking dish, mix well and leave to marinate for an hour, stiring occasionally.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the baking dish in the oven and cook for 45 minutes, basing once during the cooking time. (If the dish is in danger of drying out add a couple of tablespoons of water.)

Once cooked allow to rest, in the pan, for 5 minutes, and then serve the chicken and shallots with a little of the pan juices and scattered with the parsley.

For the potatoes:

Serves 4

800g of roasting potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 whole head of garlic, cloves divided and peeled
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of dried oregano, preferably Greek
½ a teaspoon of salt
½ a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
90ml of olive oil
150ml of chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the potato chunks and garlic in a large baking tray in a single layer.

Add the lemon juice, oregano, salt, pepper and olive oil. Toss to ensure that all the potatoes are well coated and seasoned.

Pour the stock into the tray and roast in the oven for 45 minutes. (Keep an eye on the garlic – you don’t want it to burn. If the cloves look like they’re going to brown too much remove them and set them aside. You can re-add them later.)

After 45 minutes turn the potatoes, gently so that they don’t fall apart, and then cook for another 10-15 minutes. (If you removed the garlic earlier then return it to the pan now.)

Once they are golden all over and crisp on the underside, serve immediately.

For the Boureki:

Serves 4 as a main, or 6 as a side (I scaled it down a bit for just the three of us.)

500g of courgettes, sliced 3mm thick
500g of potatoes, sliced 3mm thick (I used a large aubergine, sliced similarly.)
75g of plain flour
100g of ricotta
300g of crumbled feta
90ml of olive oil
½ a teaspoon of dried mint
2 teaspoons of finely chopped fresh mint
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 180

Place the courgette and potato (or aubergine) slices in a large bowl and sprinkle over the flour, tossing to ensure that everythingh is well coated.

Mix together the two cheese in a bowl and then divide the mixture into three.

Pour a quarter of the oil into an ovenproof baking dish and completely coat the base.

Arrange one third of the courgettes and potatoes/aubergines over the base of the dish, pressing the slices down firmly. Scatter over one third of the cheese mixture.

Add half of the dried and fresh mint and half the garlic, then drizzle over another third of the olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Repeat the layering for a second layer of courgettes and potato/aubergine, cheese and mint, drizle with olive oil.

Finally, add the last layer of courgettes, top with cheese and season.

Bake in the oven for 1 hour (slightly less if using aubergines instead of potato)

Once cooked through, allow to rest for five minutes, and then serve.

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Lamb, ginger and broccoli stir-fry

Last night I fancied a quick stir fry before heading off to Abigail’s for The Rescue, so I pottered around on the BBC website and found this tasty little recipe. The chilli, sweet chilli and ginger give the dish some lovely flavours and combine well with the taste of the lamb. My only problem with the recipe is that the cooking time doesn’t really allow the broccoli to cook all the way through, unless the stems are very thin, and so they end up being a bit al dente. Next time I might try steaming them for five minutes first.

A tasty recipe, quick and easy to do. I’ll definitely be cooking this one again.

Serves 2

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
600g of lamb leg steaks, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and finely sliced into very thin strips
6 spring onions, shredded
3 level tablespoon of sweet chilli sauce
1 level tablespoon of tomato ketchup
3 tablespoon of light soy sauce
A pinch of dried red chilli flakes
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into very thin strips
200g tenderstem broccoli
100ml of water

Place the vegetable oil in a wok and place over a high heat.

Add the lamb and stir-fry for 3 minutes. (you might need to do this in batches if there’s a lot of lamb.)

Remove the lamb with a slotted spoon, set aside and keep warm.

Add the garlic, ginger and spring onions and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Then add the sweet chilli sauce, tomato ketchup, soy sauce, chilli flakes and water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes.

Add the red pepper and broccoli to the sauce and stir-fry for 3 minutes. Then return the lamb to the wok and cook for a further 2-3 minutes to heat through before serving.

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Harissa and Preserved Lemon Roasted Poussins

Last night I had the lovely Phil Dukes over for dinner and Doctor Who (first the latest episode of the current series, then the 4 part Peter Davison story Frontios.) and so I decided to cook this from the cookbook Persiana. The poussins were only £3 each in Sainsbury’s so it was a fairy reasonably priced dinner. And, as it took 45 minutes to cook the poussins I could put them in the oven just as Doctor Who started and they were ready just as it finished! Good timing!

Serves 4

8 preserved lemons
3 tablespoons of olive oil
3 teaspoons of sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
90g of rose harissa
4 poussins

Using a food processor of hand blender, blitz the preserved lemons, olive oil, salt, pepper and rose harissa together until you achieve a smooth mixture.

Pour this over the poussins and rub the mixture in with your hands.

Ppre-heat the oven to 220.

Place the poussins in a roasting tray and roast in the oven for 45-50 minutes, until cooked through and nicely browned on top.

I served this with Golden potatoes:

and a tomato pomegranate and sumac salad:


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Turkish Adana Köfte Kebabs, served with a Chicken Liver, Potato and Chilli Salad

I cooked these two lovely recipes for myself on Thursday evening. The Kebab recipe is from Persiana by Sabrina Ghayour, whilst the Chicken Liver Salad recipe is from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe. Both are great books full of tasty Middle Eastern recipes.

I love a tasty kebab, and the salad seemed like a suitable side dish, with flavours that complimented the main dish.

For the Kebabs:

(Serves 4)

500g of lamb mince
1 large onion, minced or very finely chopped
3 teaspoons of dried chilli flakes
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 small bunch of flat leaf parsely leaves, finely chopped
½ a red pepper, deseeded and very finely chopped
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons of sea salt flakes
Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:

Flour tortilla wraps
Sliced red onion
Chopped parsley
Greek yoghurt (I mixed the Greek Yoghurt with some rose harissa, for a bit more punch.)

Put all of the kebab ingredients into a large bowl and mix together well. You need to really work the ingredients together with your hands, squeezing and pummelling the ingredients until the texture has broken down and the herbs and other ingredients are even distributed throughout the mixture.

Oonce mixed, divide the meat evenly and shape into kebabs. There are loads of different options – sausage shapes, meatball style, or, as I opted for, long, flat patties.

I made the kebabs in a long, flat, patty shapes and then threaded them on to bamboo skewers.

Once the kebabs are formed you can either fry them, or, with the shape I opted for, grill them, under a medium/high grill, for 6-8 minutes each side, until browned and cooked through.

Serve with the tortillas, sliced red onion Greek yoghurt and chopped parsely. (I also added a handful of rocket leaves)

For the Salad:

Serves 4

2 large potatoes, peeled (or 4 new potatoes)
4 tablespoons of lolive oil
400g of chicken livers
Zest and juice of 1 lemon
8 spring onions, finely sliced
½ a bunch of parsley leaves
1 teaspoon of chilli flakes
2 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

Boil the potatoes until just cooked, then drain and leave to cool Once cool cut into cubes.

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the chicken livers until cooked through and golden brown. Season, allow to cool and then roughly chop.

Place the diced potatoes, chicken livers, lemon zest, lemon juice, spring onions and parsley in a large bowl and toss gently to combine. Drizzle with olive oil and spinkle over the chilli flakes.

Serve with the slices of egg arranged on top.

I also served it with a tomato and pomegranate salad and some sliced of fried halloumi.

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Yiahni (slow cooked lamb) with a saffron and nut pilaf

Last night I had the lovely Abigail over for dinner and Doctor Who (The first three episodes of The Dalek Invasion of Earth.) and so I had a flick through my cookbooks to find something tasty to eat. This recipe comes from Purple Citrus and Sweet Perfume by Silvena Rowe and it looked lovely, so I though I’d give it a go. (Actually, I thought I’d blogged it before, but I can’t find it anywhere on my blog, so I obviously haven’t!) It’s a light Turkish stew and the combination of the lamb and the lemon flavours work really well.

It takes about an hour and a half, but it’s worth the wait and the flavours, although simple, are delicious. The recipe says to accompany it with ‘a simple pilaf’, so I had a look around on the BBC Website and found the pilaf recipe that I’ve done here, which complimented the flavours of the stew rather well.

Serves 4

For the Yiahni:

4 tablespoons of olive oil
800g of lamb shoulder, diced
24 spring onions, finely sliced
Zest and juice of two lemons
300ml of lamb stock
3 tablespoons of dry cherries
½ a large bunch of parsley, finely chopped
2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts for garnish (I left these out as I’d included toasted pine nuts in the pilaf.)

For the pilaf:

250g of basmati rice
½ a teaspoon of saffron strands
2 tablespoon of orange flower water
25g of unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
4 small shallots, trimmed and finely sliced
1 cinnamon stick
6 green cardamom pods
6 cloves
4 dried bay leaves
1 tablespoon of pine nuts
1 tablespoon of unsalted pistachios
1 tablespoon of unsalted cashews, halved
salt, to taste
1 litre of water

To make the Yiahni:

Heat the olive oil in a large non-stick pan. Brown the lamb for 3-5 minutes, turning regularly to ensure even cooking.

Then add the spring onions and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, zest and stock. Stir well to combine and then cover and simmer, on a very low heat, until the meat is tender.

Finally add the dry cherries and stir in the parsley.

Serve, topped with toasted pine nuts.

To make the pilaf:

Wash the rice in several changes of water to remove the excess starch until the water runs clear. Cover with fresh water and set aside to soak.

Lightly crush the saffron in a pestle and mortar, then pour over the orange flower water and set aside to soak.

Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan and fry the shallots over a high heat until dark brown and crisp. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.

Lower the heat and fry the spices and nuts in the remaining fat for a few minutes until they begin to change colour.

Drain the rice and add to the pan along with the salt, saffron and orange flower water. Cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes.

Pour in the water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, cover with a tight-fitting lid and simmer for 15 minutes, or until the rice is tender. Allow to cool slightly.

To serve, fluff up the grains of rice with a fork and sprinkle over the shallots. Remove the whole spices before eating.


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Safavid-style beef pastries

Sorry it has taken me so long to update this blog – it has been a busy month!

This recipe is something that I cooked for this year’s annual Eurovision party on the 15th. Most of the stuff I made I’ve made before, but this was a new one. The recipe is from the book Persiana, typically for that book, is full of spices and flavours. They came out well, although a little mis-shapen, and were tasty. I’d certainly make them again.

Makes 10-12

Vegetable oil
200g of minced beef
½ a teaspoon of ground turmeric
½ a teaspoon of ground cumin
½ a teaspoon of paprika
¼ of a teaspoon of cinnamon
A couple of pinches of ground nutmeg
¼ of a teaspoon of chilli powder
1 tablespoon of edible dried rose petals
1 small red onion, very finely chopped
A handful of parsley leaves, finely chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
40g of melted butter
1 sheet of puff pastry, approximately 14” x 10”

Pre-heat a large frying pan over a medium-high heat, add a little oil and, fry the minced beef, keeping it moving, until it is browned all over. Once browned, add the spices and the rose petals and mix them well into the beef.

Season with salt and pepper and continue to cook until the micture becomes dry and there is no moisture still in the pan.

Remove the beef mixture from the pan and allow to cool.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Once the spiced mince mixture has cooled, stir in the chopped red onion and parsley and mix in well.

Cut the puff pastry sheet into 12 squares.

Take a generous tablespoon of the beef mixture and place in the centre of each pastry square, then fold the square into a triangle, pressing the edges together tightly to seal.

Repeat until all the meat mixture is used up. Place the triangles of filled pastry onto a paper0lined baking sheet, spacing them about 2cm apart.

Brush the tops with melted butter and then bake for 20 minutes until golden and puffed up.


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