Cheese and onion pie

The lovely Abigail gave me this recipe last week and so I decided to make it on Saturday so that Neil and I could nibble on it over the weekend.

It’s a simple and tasty recipe. I’m not sure I’d call it a pie though – it’s really just a cheesy crust, covered in onions. Delicious though, although a bit slippery to eat as the onions keep threatening to slide off!

4 medium red onions
1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 tablespoon of butter
Leaves from 3-4 sprigs of thyme
150g of strong cheddar, grated
250g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
100ml of milk
40g of butter, melted
1 teaspoon of English mustard
1 large egg, beaten


Peel the onions. Cut each on in half and then cut each half into four segments

In a large frying pan heat the oil and butter. Add the onions and fry over a medium heat for about 30 minutes, stirring regularly, until slightly softened and coloured. Season with salt and pepper and then add the thyme leaves.

Preheat the oven to 200.

Place the cooked onions in a 20-25cm pie dish and scatter over 50g of the grated cheese.

Leave to one side whilst you make the dough.

Put the flour, baking powder, salt and the remaining 100g of cheese and stir well to combine.

Measure out the milk in a measuring jug and then add the melted butter, mustard and beaten egg, to the milk, and mix well to combine.

Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the milk mixture and mix well, with a fork initially, to make a soft, sticky dough.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured work surface and roll out into a circle, roughly the size of the pie dish.

Transfer the rolled dough onto the pie dish and press it down around the edges to seal it.

Place in the oven and cook for 15 minutes. Then turn the oven down to 180 and cook for a further 15 minutes. At the end of this the top should be crisp and golden.

Remove from the oven and allow to stand for a few minutes.
Place a large, flat plate over the top and then turn the whole thing over so that the plate is underneath.

Remove the dish and serve.



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Aromatic Thai green chicken and autumn vegetable curry

On Friday evening I fancied something a little spicy and that would help to use up some of the squash that I had in the fridge. I flicked around on the internet and found this tasty little recipe that I cooked for Neil and I. It came out rather well, although I increased the cooking time a little, as I was worried that the squash and sweet potato wouldn’t cook all the way though otherwise.

Serves 4

2 tablebspoons of olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh ginger, finely chopped
8 chicken thigh fillets, cut into 3cm chunks
100g of Thai green curry paste
½ a butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 3cm chunks
1 large sweet potato, peeled and cut into 3cm chunks
1 small aubergine, diced
1 courgette cut into 3cm chunks
200ml of coconut milk
200ml of chicken stock
100ml of double cream
100g of fine green beans, cut into 2cm lengths


Heat a large saucepan and, once hot, add the oil and then the onion, garlic and ginger. Cook for four minutes, until starting to colour.

Then add the chicken thighs and cook for a further 3-4 minutes, until browned. Stir in the Thai curry paste and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.

Add the squash, sweet potato, aubergine and courgette. Stir, then add the coconut milk and chicken stock.

Cook for 20 minutes, over a medium heat.

Then add the cream and beans, stir well to combine and cook for further 20 minutes.

Serve, with plain rice, garnished with a little chopped coriander and some sliced spring onion

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Slow-cooked beef and ale stew with dumplings

One of the things that I bought back from Christmas with my parents was my mother’s old slow cooker, so I’ve been trying out a couple of recipes with it. I fancied a beef stew on New Year’s Day and so I cobbled this together and experimented with the slow cooker.

You could easily adapt this for cooking on the hob, or even in the oven, but the instructions I’ll give here will be for doing it in a slow cooker. I was only cooking for me so this serves 1-2, (as there was enough left over for a second meal) scale it up if you want to serve more, and add more of both liquids if you’re cooking on the hob, not in a slow cooker.

Very tasty – and the long, slow cooking time means that the meat is very tender.

Serves 1-2

for the stew

50g of plain flour
400g of braising steak, trimmed and cut into 3-4cm chunks
2 tablespoon of olive oil
1 large onions, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced
200ml of beef stock
200ml of dark ale
1 bay leaf
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
1-2 tablespoons of tomato purée
1 tablespoon of Worcester Sauce
1 large carrots, cut into chunks
1 large parsnip, cut into chunks
1 large leek, cut into thick slices
½ a red pepper, de-seeded and diced

for the dumplings

50g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
25g of suet
1 teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves
30g of extra mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Dredge the beef in the flour until well coated, shake off any excess flour.

Heat half of the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the beef, until browned all over. Remove the beef from the pan and place it in the slow cooker.

You might need to use a little of the ale to deglaze the saucepan. Add the rest of the oil to the saucepan and fry the onions and garlic, over a medium heat, until starting to soften. Then add them to the beef already in the slow cooker.

Add the herbs, stock, ale, tomato purée and Worcester sauce to the slow cooker, place the lid on and cook for 3 hours on high.

After three hours add the leek, carrot, parsnip and diced pepper to the slow cooker. Season well with salt and pepper and cook for a further two hours on low.

To make the dumplings, rub together the flour, baking powder and suet until you get a breadcrumby consistency. Then add the cheese and thyme leaves, stirring well to combine.

Once the dry ingredients are well combined, gradually add cold water, a little at a time, mixing until a dough starts to form. It’s important not to add too much water as you don’t want the dough to be too damp or sticky.

Once your dough is the right consistency, shape it into balls – you should be able to make three or four – and then place them in the slow cooker, on top of the stew.

Cook on high for a further 40 minutes or so, until the dumplings are fluffy and cooked though.

Serve immediately with some steamed black cabbage.



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For quite a while now I’ve been meaning to have a go at making Latkas. This is mostly because there is a shop in town that sells them and they’re delicious – every time I go past I look at them and think ‘I must try making them’, so on Monday, I did!

They’re surprisingly easy to do and the end results are rather tasty. I think that, next time I’ll add a bit more spring onion and cheese though, as it was difficult to tell that it was there this time.

300g of peeled and grated potatoes
3-4 spring onions, finely sliced
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon of plain flour
1 ½ teaspoons of salt
30g of Parmiggiano
125ml vegetable oil

Place the grated potatoes in muslin or a cheesecloth and wring, extracting as much moisture as possible. (This is hard work, but the more liquid you can get out before cooking the better.) As I don’t have a cheesecloth or any muslin, I used kitchen roll initially, and then just squeezed the rest out by hand.

In a medium bowl, stir the potatoes, spring onion, eggs, flour, salt and cheese together.

In a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the oil until hot. Place 1 tablespoon of the potato mixture into the hot oil, pressing down on them to form 5mm-1cm thick patties. Continue until all the mixture is used up.

Brown each patty on one side, then turn over and brown on the other.

Drain on kitchen roll. Can be served hot or cold.


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Pork shoulder with lemon and garlic

I had the lovely Fig over last night for our final bout of Doctor Who this year – K-9 and Company, followed by The Horns of Nimon detail fans – and because I had the day off I thought I’d cook something that took a little bit longer than I’d normally be able to do. This recipe comes from the Great British Bake-Off Winter Cookbook and is utterly delicious. Take about 3½ hours, so it’s not a quick one, but it’s worth the wait. And once it’s actually in the oven it requires very little effort or attention. The long cooking time means that the meat is wonderfully tender and just falling apart when served.

As an added bonus, the shoulder joint I bought had a thick skin on it, which I removed, cut up into strips, salted and roasted to turn into home-made pork scratchings! Delicious!

Serves 6-8

A boned and rolled pork shoulder joint, approximately 2.5kg
2 red onions, peeled and finely sliced
20 fresh sage leaves
2 lemons
2 cloves of garlic, bulbs separated but unpeeled
1 tablespoon of olive oil
A knob of butter
400ml of dry cider
300ml of chicken stock
1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
A generous splash of double cream
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

This recipe uses a flameproof casserole dish – I don’t have one of those so it involved a bit of to-ing and fro-ing with a large saucepan and a casserole dish. Still, it was all fairly easy.

Heat the oven to 220.

Heat the oil and butter in a deep flameproof casserole dish and fry the onions until slightly softened. Add the thinly pared zest of one of the lemons and half the sage leaves and cook for a further minute.

Unroll the pork joint, season well with salt and pepper and add the remaining sage leaves. Re-roll and tie into shape.

Put the pork into the casserole dish, on top of the onion and lemon zest mixture, and transfer to the oven.

Roast uncovered for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and turn the heat down to 150.

Thickly slice the remaining lemon and add it to the casserole dish along with the garlic cloves, cider and stock.

Cover with a lid, or foil, and return to the over for 2½ – 3 hours, basting the pork regularly with the cooking liquid.

Once the cooking time has elsapsed, lift the pork out of the dish and set it aside on a plate, covered with foil, to rest.

Skim any fat from the surface of the cooking liquid then return to the hob and start to simmer. Stir in the mustard, doubkle cream and a squeeze of lemon juice, season to taste.

Cut the pork into thick slices (it’s so tender that rough chunks are more likely) and serve with the sauce.



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Creamy petits pois with shallots and bacon

I found this tasty recipe in the Radio Times the other week. It’s suggested as a side-dish to accompany a roast, and it says that it will serve 4. I reduced the amounts slightly for just me, and had it with a couple of roasted chicken thighs and some steamed greens. Very tasty.

The recipe said to roast the shallots for 45 minutes to an hour – I found this a bit too long and the outsides of the shallots were burnt. I might just stick to 45 minutes next time. I also used smoked pancetta lardons rather than smoked bacon.

400g of small shallots, peeled and halved
6 smoked bacon rashers, chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Leaves from a few sprigs of thyme
250ml of white wine
250ml of double cream
400g of petits pois
Zest of ½ a lemon

Pre-heat the oven to 200

Roast the shalots in the oven, with a little olive oil, for 45 minutes to an hour until golden and softened.

In a large frying pan cook the bacon pieces for 5 minutes or so, until crispy. Mix in the garlic and thyme leaves in the last minute of cooking.

Add the white wine and bubble for a few minutes, until reduced by two thirds.

Add the cream and bubble for five minutes or so, until slightly thickened. Add the roasted shallots and petits pois. Mix well and cook for a further five minutes, until thickened further.

Season with salt and pepper and stir through the lemon zest.

Serve immediately.

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Slow cooked oxtail with chicken livers and red wine

I had the lovely Phil over for dinner and Doctor Who on Friday – we opted for the wonderfully dark Vengeance on Varos – and, as it was a cold and distinctly wintery evening, I decided to cook this lovely, tasty stew recipe that I saw in The Guardian a couple of weeks ago.

It’s an enjoyable dish, full of lovely flavours, although with a three hour cooking time, it’s not a recipe that you can knock off spontanously. The chicken livers give the dish a tasty extra flavour, we well as an interesting texture/.

Serves 4

1.5kg of oxtail, a mixture of meaty bits and bony bits
2 onions, peeled and chopped
4 garlic cloves, chopped
½ a teaspoon of sea salt
½ a teaspoon of black pepper
½ a bottle of red wine
2 tins of chopped plum tomatoes
200g of chicken livers
2 aubergines
3 large tablespoons of Greek yoghurt
2 teaspoons of Dijon mustard

In a large saucepan heat some olive oil and then brown the pieces of oxtail, turning regularly to ensure even browning. Once browned remove them from the dish and set aside.

Add a little more oil to the saucepan and add the onions and garlic, seasoning well with the salt and pepper. Cook over a medium heat until browned.

Return the meat to the dish. Add the tomatoes and stir well to combine.

Finely chop the chicken livers and add them to the dish. Pour over the wine, stir, and then cover and simmer for two hours, stirring occasionally.

Peel the aubergines, and then chop them into spears, about as long as your thumb, but slightly thicker.

After two hours add the aubergine spears to the dish, re-cover and cook for a further hour.

Just before serving stir in the yoghurt and mustard. At the end of the cooking the aubergines will have virtually disintegrated and soaked up the juices, and the meat will be falling off the bone.

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Chicken and butternut squash stew

I had the lovely Fig over for dinner, and The Satanic Rites of Dracula, last night and so I decided to cook this for the two of us, and Neil. It’s a tasty recipe that Abigail cooked for me last Friday. The recipe is originally for a slow cooker, but I don’t have one so, as per the suggestion at the bottom of the recipe, I simply cooked it for an hour on the hob instead.

Lovely and tasty, and appropriate for a cold winter night.

100g of plain flour
4 tablespoons of sunflower oil
500g of boneless, skinless chicken thigh, chopped into 1” pieces
1 onion, chopped
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 chillies, finely chopped
175ml of white wine
½ a butternut squash, peeled, chopped into 1” pieces
300ml of chicken stock
5 sprigs of fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
4 tablespoons of crème fraîche
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A small handful chopped fresh parsley

Sprinkle the flour onto a plate and dredge the chicken pieces in the flour.

Heat half of the oil in a large saucepan and fry the chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes, or until browned all over.

Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside.

(You may need to clean out the saucepan if the excess flour from the chicken pieces has made a mess in the pan.)

Heat the remaining oil in a frying pan and fry the onion for five minutes. Then add the garlic and chilli and fry for another 2-3 minutes.

Add the wine and continue to cook for another few minutes, or until the volume of the liquid is reduced by half.

Return the chicken to the saucepan. Then add the butternut squash, chicken stock, thyme and bay leaves to the pan. Stir well to combine and ensure that everything is covered by the liquid.

Cover and cook for 45-50 minutes over a medium heat, stirring occasionally top prevent sticking.

After 50 minutes stir in the crème fraîche and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Cook for a further 10 minutes, then serve, garnished with the parsley.

Tasty. Can be accompanied by either rice or mash.

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Ginger biscuit sandwiches

I came across this tasty little recipe on Facebook and so I decided to make some on Friday to take to my friend Abigail’s for us to nibble. I was making them in a bit of a hurry and accidentally forgot to put any sugar in, although with the syrup and the very sweet lemon icing, it didn’t actually matter too much and the biscuits were tasty without.

I made a second batch for my colleagues on Sunday and I did add sugar to those, although I did reduce the amount somewhat, seeing as the first batch had been fine without.

Makes about 50 biscuits, or 25 sandwiches

For the biscuits:

350g of plain flour
1 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
2 teaspoons of ground ginger
½ a teaspoon of mixed spice
100g of unsalted butter
175g of light brown sugar
3 tablespoons of golden syrup
1 large egg, beaten

For the icing:

225g of icing sugar (plus extra for dusting)
125g of unsalted butter, softened
½-1 teaspoon of Sicilian lemon extract


Preheat the oven to 190°C

Line 2-3 large baking trays with greaseproof paper

Sift the flour, bicarb, ginger and mixed spice into a bowl. Then rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.

Stir in the sugar, and make a well in the centre.

Add the syrup and egg and carefully combine the wet and dry ingredients together until well mixed.

Bring the mixture together to form a firm dough.

Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and pliable.

Roll out the dough to a thickness no greater than 5mm.

Using a 5.5cm diameter circular cutter – cut out approximately 50 biscuits, re-rolling the dough as necessary.

Place on the baking trays and prick lightly with a fork.

Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden and firm. Allow to cool

To make the buttercream, place the butter in a mixing bowl and beat until soft. Gradually sieve in the icing sugar, beating well after each addition, to make a smooth, spreadable icing. Add the lemon extract and mix well.

Sandwich the biscuits together with the lemon buttercream. Dust with icing sugar before serving if desired.

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Beef, chickpea and sweet potato tagine, with oxtail

I fancied a Friday evening tagine and so I cobbled this together out of some suitably tagine-y ingredients.

Serves 2

3 teaspoons of ghee
400-450g of braising steak, diced
1 large brown onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1cm of fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
2 small-ish pieces of oxtail on the bone
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
10 cherry tomatoes, halved
225g tin of chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced into bite-sized pieces
350ml of beef stock
1 tablespoon of honey
2 teaspoons of ras-el-hanout
1 teaspoon of ground turmeric
1 teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of ground cumin
1 cinnamon stick
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 180

In a large saucepan, heat the ghee over a medium-high heat until melted.

Add the ginger, crushed garlic and chopped onion, and fry until the onion starts to soften.

Add the beef, and pieces of oxtail and cook until browned.

Once browned, add the dried spices and stir well to combine so that all the meat is well covered.

Add the chopped tomatoes, beef stock, cinnamon stick and halved cherry tomatoes and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer.

Transfer the meat and sauce to the tagine, pop the lid on and cook in the oven for an hour.

After an hour, add the honey, diced sweet potato and chick peas. Stir well. Season with salt and pepper. Ensure that the sweet potato chunks are submerged in the sauce and then pop the lid back on. (add the little more stock, or some water, if it looks to be drying out too much.)

Return to the oven and cook for a further 30 minutes

Serve immediately, with cous cous if required.

Rather tasty, if I do say so myself! A little bit spicy, but not too hot and the oxtail adds an extra depth to the flavour.


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