Friday, 27 April 2012

Baba ganoush - Aubergine puree

After securing a bargain of 2 large shiny glossy aubergines for £1 on my recent visit to the shops, I decided to give baba ganoush a whirl. The only problem being that I don't have any tahini in the store cupboard. So baba ganoush without tahini it is.
Baba ganoush originates from the near east, Turkey and Bulgaria and essentially is a roasted aubergine puree, enriched olive oil, garlic and lemon juice. Deliciously simple, its ideal served with crudites or bread sticks alongside drinks or as part of a mezze.

  • 2 large aubergines
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • garlic (to taste)
  • Lemon juice
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Puncture your aubergines, before roasting in a medium oven until softened and collasped
  • Allow to cool fully, then scrape out the aubergine flesh from the skin. Place the flesh in your food processor
  • Add your peeled garlic cloves, 2 tbsps olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice to the aubergine flesh
  • Blend until smooth and season to taste
  • Serve with your choice  of dippers

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Barlotto with wild greens and bacon

Barlotto is the english equivalent of risotto, using pearl barley instead of risotto rice and the perfect foil for wild greens.Our wild greens were collected from the local hedgerows, a delicious easy recipe.

  • 1 large shallot finely chopped
  • Bacon lardons / pancetta
  • Pearl barley
  • Chicken stock - keep hot on the hob
  • Wild greens ( nettles and wild garlic)
  • Parmesan to finish
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil olive / sunflower oil
  • Soften your shallot in a little oil in a large frying pan
  • Add your bacon lardons and fry until lightly golden
  • Now add a good handful of pearl barley per person
  • Stir so the barley is coated with the juices in the pan
  • Add some of the hot chicken stock to the pan and simmer, gently stirring until absorbed
  • Keep adding stock and stirring until the the pearl barley is soft and the barlotto is not too runny.
  • Taste and season
  • Serve finished with parmesan cheese

Friday, 20 April 2012

Chocolate & whiskey bundt cake

Last weekend I had a marathon baking session, to create some 'thank you' cakes for the care staff at my late Father in laws care home as way of a token of thanks. Amongst other cakes was this dark delight, with a more adult flavour. Dark and foreboding this is definately a cake I will be making again, drizzled with white chocoloate the contrast with the almost black cake is great. I am sure you could substitute other alcohol for the whiskey, maybe amaretto, rum or coffee liquer and it  would work as well.


  • 1 cup of cocoa , plus a couple of spoons for dusting your tin
  • 1 1/2 cups of freshly brewed coffee
  • 1/2 cup alcohol of your choice
  • 1 cup of butter
  • 2 cups of caster sugar
  • 2 cups of plain flour
  • 1 1/4 tsps of bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 2 eggs - free range
  • 1 tsp vanilla


  • Use will need a 10" bundt tin or a round cake tin of a similar size
  • Preheat the oven to 160c 
  • Oil spray your tin and then dust with cocoa powder
  • Combine the coffee, alcohol, butter and cup of cocoa in a saucepan, over a low heat melt and combine the ingredients
  • Take of the heat and add the sugar, stirring until dissolved
  • Allow to cool slighty
  • Now mix all the flour, bicarb and salt in a seperate bowl.
  • Whisk the eggs and vanilla together in a jug, then whisk into the cooled cocoa mix
  • Now whisk in the dry ingredients, until throughly mixed
  • Pour into your prepared tin
  • Bake in the oven for 40-50 mins, until tested cooked with a cocktail stick
  • Cool in the tin for a couple of hours before removing from tin
  • Once cooled drizzle with melted chocolate to decorate or sprinkle with icing sugar
  • The cake keeps well and the moisture level and flavour improves.
I am refreshing this post to take part in Baking with Spirits challenge hosted by Janine who blogs at Cakeoftheweek.


In celebration of the Bundt, this post is being linked to National Bundt Day UK with Dollybakes

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

The Hedgerow Handbook by Adele Nozedar

I decided recently to treat myself to a couple of new books, (another one of my addictions), I love a beautiful book and have quite an extensive library of cooking, baking and food related volumes. I also have over the years amassed quite a collection of gardening, flora and fauna books too.

I have always been interested in wild food and foraging and my latest purchase,a beautifully illustrated book from Adele Nozedar is no exception, a Wales based author with a fascination for all things mystic, herbs, plants and the seen and unseen worlds.

The book features an illustrated section for all the most commonly found hedgerow forage edibles, each plant is stunningly illustrated to ease identification and some lovely anecdotes and stories are shared, along with simple home remedies. Each plant has several recipes suggested for it, some more unusual than your run of the mill foraging book. This book would be a great addition to your rucksack when out for a walk and equally at home on your cook book shelf in your kitchen. 

The book is an absolute joy and I can't wait to try some of the recipes in the book with some great local sustainable ingredients. 

Monday, 9 April 2012

Baked Bean Chilli - frugal food for all the family

Its been a pretty bad weekend in our household , so I have turned to trusty beef mince for this weekends recipe and the store cupboard. I normally have some mince stashed in the freezer for an economical supper dish which I am sure would be popular with the whole family in your household. Its appeal is that it features the humble baked bean, for the vegeterians just substitute the mince for more vegetables such as courgettes and celery.
Serve accompanied with the usual trimmings, rice, tacos, tortillas, salad or a jacket spud or even chips, sour cream and guacoamole are also options.

  • Minced beef
  • Onion - chopped finely
  • Red pepper - deseeded and sliced
  • Can of tomatoes - chopped
  • Tomato puree
  • pinch of sugar
  • Beef stock
  • Chilli spice mix - I use Fox's Herbs and Spices
  • Can of baked beans
  • Clove of garlic - peeled and crushed
  • Splash of worcestershire sauce
  • Soften the onion and garlic in a little oil in a large pan
  • Soften the red pepper in the same manner
  • Now add the mince to the pan and cook until coloured
  • Add the chilli spice mix to taste
  • Add the tomato puree, pinch of sugar and worcestershire sauce
  • Now add the can of tomatoes and the beef stock, careful not to add too much liquid
  • Simmer until the sauce starts to reduce and the meat is cooked
  • Add the baked beans and continue to simmer to thicken the sauce further
  • Serve accompanied by rice 

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Rhubarb, tonka bean and yoghurt fool

I have been intrigued for several weeks with the Tonka bean after coming across them on the Steenbergs website. Originally originating from the Orinoco area of South American the tonka bean is a member of the pea family, the tonka bean is used in food and cosmetics. Its flavours and fragrance is a mix of vanilla, cloves, cinnamon and bitter almonds, it also has pagan and mystical associations. I plan to experiment with the tonka bean more as the season progresses.

I have choosen to use the tonka bean in a simple fruit fool layer using seasonal rhubarb from the garden. I have utilised Rhubarb compote from my earlier post but with the addition of a grating of tonka bean, this is then topped with crushed digestive biscuits ( you could use amaretti, shortbread or ginger nuts) and the a layer of yoghurt with a grating of the bean on top. If you want a more decadent finish you could use cream or custard of you wish.

I am entering this post in to the #oneingredient cooking challenge hosted by Working London Mummy.

Chicken with Leeks, wild garlic and creamy mustard sauce

I really enjoy foraging and seasonal food, spring has really sprung in Lancashire and in the countryside the wild garlic (ramsoms) is rampaging in the damp shady areas and hedgerow bottoms in the countryside. Wild garlic is a great wild food but is highly seasonal and available for only about a month to 6 weeks so cook with it while you can. I love using the juicy leaves and flowers in cooking and salads to impart a mild spicy garlic flavour. So that I am sure of supply I grow a couple of clumps in the garden , that way I can ensure that its not polluted with weedkiller, car fumes or dog pee.


  • chicken breast fillets 
  • Leeks - cleaned for grit and chopped into rings
  • Wild garlic leaves - handful
  • Grain mustard - about a tablespoon per 2 chicken breasts
  • Double cream
  • White wine 
  • Chicken stock powder 
  • Honey
  • Black pepper - freshly ground
  • Rosemary - finely chopped
  • Preheat your oven to 180c
  • I used a heavy cast iron casserole dish, you could use a ceramic dish and a frying pan.
  • Using a tiny amount of olive oil or butter, softened your leeks and wild garlic and rosemary
  • Now gently colour your chicken breasts without burning the leek mixture
  • Once golden , add your mustard, honey and chicken stock powder, stir and then add enough wine to come up to the chicken breasts
  • Add cream until the chicken breasts are just covered, add some black pepper
  • Bring to a gently simmer and stir to ensure all mixed
  • Cover the dish with the lid or foil 
  • Place in the oven for approx 30 mins until your chicken breasts and the sauce slightly reduced.
  • Serve with seasonal vegetables, I used crushed potatoes, but rice or orzo pasta would be nice.

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