Thursday, 9 February 2017


Healthy, dirty lentil burger.

I know that nowadays there are numerous burger places with hand reared, home made options but to be really honest, I’ve never been a huge burger fan, unlike the rest of my family. Mainly because I don't like huge chunks of unidentified meat, however I do like the whole layering, the combination of different flavours and textures that you get with a good rustic burger.

Over the last few years Teen V and I struggled to find tasty vegetarian burgers. We tried lots of gloopy bean burgers, and tasteless cardboard-like veggie things, but nothing came close to replicating that juicy, tasty feel you get with a proper handmade meat burger! OK so I do like a proper one occasionally! We got very fed up with mushed vegetables, pretending to be a burger…really? 

I’ve experimented with a variety of options, but the most interesting is the lentil burger… Bare with me here, I know lentils don't sound like a good alternative, however, even the traditional meat eating burger lovers in the family have approved this alternative!!

So maybe you don't like the sound of a wholesome burger, just trust me, these are good and don't feel like a second best.

Lentil, sun-dried tomato and watercress burgers warming with ciabatta rolls


Prep time and cooking time 35 minutes
Chilling time 15 minutes
Serves 3-4 depending on the size burger you want! 
The mixture can be doubled easily for a crowd- or v hungry family.

120g puy lentils
1/2 medium sized onion
2 cloves of garlic
20g sun-dried tomatoes 
1Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried oregano 
300ml good vegetable stock 
20g watercress
1/2 Packet of mozzarella
1tbsp wholemeal plain flour

I like Ciabatta rolls, but if you want to be hip, use brioche buns, I think the crisp crust of the ciabatta works better. Then just add any other bits you like to build up your perfect burger. 
A few suggestions are: Slices of tomato, lettuce if you can actually find some..see my previous post re lettuce shortage!!or watercress if you are being really healthy, mayonnaise, slices of avocado, gerkin, cheese - the list is endless..

  1. Finely chop the garlic and onions, then fry in the olive oil in a saucepan for about 5 minutes or until soft. 
  2. Slice, or snip up with scissors, the sun-dried tomatoes and add them and the oregano to the pan to soften for a few minutes.
  3. Add the dried lentils and stir for about a minute until coated in the mixture then add a third of the stock and simmer. Keep adding the remaining stock as it reduces down and the lentils cook. This process should take about 25 minutes. Whilst this is cooking roughly chop the watercress and mozzarella and leave for later.
  4. Try the lentils to ensure they are soft and cooked, they should have a rich dense flavour and have soaked up all the liquid. Obviously don't let them burn, but it is important that there isn't any liquid left as it’ll be harder to keep the burger shape later. Let them cool for a few minutes.
  5. Add the watercress and mozzarella to the mixture and stir in well. Stir in the flour, this should help keep the mixture together. At this point you can shape the mixture into rough patty, burger shapes. I would put them on baking paper and let them cool a bit in the fridge.  
  6. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large frying pan and then gently place the patties to fry for a couple of minutes on each side. Whilst this is happening prepare your bun. I only like half a bun but I appreciate this is light weight, so obviously prepare what you need. If you have a griddle then lightly grease and warm the bun then start to assemble your dream burger, mine includes mayonnaise, avocado, watercress and tomato…yum…get creative!

Lentil burger with topped with avocado, tomato and watercress

Saturday, 4 February 2017


Lettuce free salad- advocate, watercress, mint, cucumber and spring onion

Yesterdays headlines and radio news bulletins here in England seemed rather comic after the recent few weeks, no months, of world craziness..

“Salad crisis!” 
“Supermarkets limit customers to three iceberg lettuces!”

The reality of farmers in Europe loosing entire crops is sadly anything but comic, however, the reports do explain the distinct lack of spinach in my favourite supermarket in recent weeks. 

To counteract this lack of spinach, and the fact that it’s winter so there’s no rocket or salad leaves in my garden, except a few herbs, I’ve been improvising some great green salads.

As some of you are aware I have been ill for many months, hence no blog posts for such a long time, there were weeks, well months when I struggled to eat however thanks to wonderful care and some incredible immunotherapy drugs, I have my appetite back and am now even more conscious of what I put in my body.

Hampshire watercress

Watercress features even more highly in my diet, (I will do another post about this) I’m having it in smoothies every morning as well as any other opportunity.

So, whilst we await new crops from Europe, I wish the farmers good luck and good growing weather, and hope the following salad should help keep you healthy. 

It’ s very green, delicious (in my opinion), fresh, easy to throw together and packed full of goodness.     



Serves 2
Time- a few minutes to chop

2 spring onions,
I ripe avocado chopped into small cubes
A large handful/bunch of watercress and fresh mint both roughly chopped
Half a cucumber chopped into small cubes
The juice of a whole lemon, salt and pepper to season and a drizzle of olive oil if you like that.

Assemble all the above chopped ingredients, then squeeze over the juice of the lemon, season with a few twists of  salt and pepper and splash a tiny bit of olive oil over and you are ready to eat.

Watercress and mint

Thank you to the kind friends, you know who you are, who have encouraged me to return here, and to all of you for checking this out after such a long pause in posts. I look forward to sharing more tasty ideas and recipes with you again soon.

Enjoy the salad..

Fresh dill and mint.

Sunday, 17 May 2015


Watercress Festival bowl by Richard Bramble

It’s three years since I last went to the Alresford Watercress Festival in Hampshire and it was just as charming, even if it has doubled in size. As well as the endless supplies of local fresh watercress on sale for charity, there were lots of other delicious foods to sample, which of course I did.

basket of watercress at the Alresford Watercress Festival 2015

A few that caught my fancy were the watercress hummus, the arancini with watercress pesto and mozzarella, and the watercress cupcakes...

Arancini the watercress way

Some of the many delicious cakes at the watercress festival


It was lovely to catch up with our friend Richard Bramble who had a stall with all his foodie ceramics; I particularly liked his watercress 2015 bowl. 

Richard Bramble at Alresford Watercress Festival 2015

Another company who caught my eye were catch, a company who makes fish cakes from the Isle of Wight. Their crab cakes were truly delicious; we had some for supper with local watercress and Isle of Wight tomatoes.

Catch fishcakes at the Alresford Watercress Festival 2015

No recipe today, I am just too tired. I bought a couple of watercress cookbooks so will search for some tasty uber-healthy new recipes for another day.  


tomatoes from the Isle of Wight at the Alresford Watercress Festival.

Friday, 15 May 2015


Hazelnut and cranberry biscuits

I am sorry for the long absence; life has been rather complicated for the last few months. Lots of health issues that meant I wasn’t cooking much. Luckily things are progressing well and I am now even more conscious of healthy eating and on the constant look out for immune boosting foods. Do message me of any you would recommend.

We have entered the “Exam Zone” again, the joys of the British Education system that exams our children every summer from the age of 15-18. So we have stressed teens that need healthy after school snacks.

These Hazelnut and Cranberry biscuits were very popular and barely lasted long enough to be photographed so I thought I would share the recipe with you, as it offers a tasty change, is easy to make and is a good healthy..ish option for everyone.

Star and heart biscuits


Preparation time 10 minutes
Cooking time 10-12 minutes
Makes 20 -30 biscuits depending on how you cut them


6 oz -175g plain flour
3 oz -75g soft light brown sugar
4oz- 100g soft butter
The zest of half a lemon
1 oz -25g hazelnuts roughly chopped or bashed
1oz- 25g dried cranberries chopped


1.      Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees C and put baking parchment on two or three baking trays.
2.      Sift the flour into a large bowl, add the sugar and butter and then rub them altogether to form breadcrumb like mixture. 
3.      Add in the hazelnuts, cranberries and lemon zest to the mixture and squeeze into a dough, if it is still crumbly then add a tiny squeeze of lemon juice to help bind it together.
4.      Take half the mixture and squeeze into a flatish shape, then with a rolling pin (or bottle if you don’t have a rolling pin) roll it on a very lightly floured surface, making sure to move the dough after each roll so it doesn’t stick. Using a cutter of your choice, I used hearts and stars as they are cute, cut out as many biscuits and repeat until you have used up all the dough.
5.      Put the baking trays in the pre heated oven and check after 10 minutes. The biscuits should look slightly golden. Remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Healthy tasty snack

Hazelnut and cranberry hearts

ENJOY. I will be back soon with more easy healthy food.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014


Peppers roasting in the street in Avola, Sicily

This has been the summer of BBQ’s both at home and away. We went back to Sicily and loved it just as much the second time.

Kindly pepper roaster

On every street corner in Sicily there seemed to be someone with a little BBQ roasting peppers or fish. We stopped here in Avola to buy some aubergines and peppers and the man above gave me a bag of cherries as a present when I took his picture.

In Palermo the men in via Butera spent the whole day preparing the charcoal and fish in the street before doing a roaring trade in the evening with crowds sitting at their rough tables on miss matched chairs, eating freshly caught fish.

Roasted aubergines in Sicily

Elsewhere round the island people roasted what they had on homemade BBQ grills in the street. Aubergines, peppers, onions. The smells tempt you as you walk past. Unlike here in the UK no one is quoting health and safety regulations at them, so they grow their veg or buy it from the local van that drives around the street and roast it. Other people buy it. Simple.  

Seafront near Avola,Sicily

We spent a week on the coast outside Noto, the gorgeous baroque town I have posted about before and home to the wonderful Caffe Sicilia- more about that later, and I went to Pescheria FLLI SPUGNETTI fishmongers in Avola, with my friend Ernesto.

Pescheria, near Avola, Sicily

The locals go as much for a chat as to buy their fish. Each visit includes handshakes, pats on the back and lots of banter. 

Fresh swordfish, Sicily

Catch of the day, Sicily

Chatting with the customers, Pescheria Avola

Banter on the shop floor! Sicily

One of the best things we ate was from them was local dentice, which looks a bit like a sea bream but apparently isn’t. It was quite simply delicious.

Fresh Sicilian Dentice, ready to BBQ.

Back at home, keen to prolong the holiday spirit and fight the creeping autumnal chill, we have continued to BBQ. The best thing has been local Hampshire trout, simply seasoned and with wedges of lemon. We might have to wear jumpers and sometimes due to rain, sit indoors but it tasted fantastic. 

Which sort of makes up for the cold!  

Hampshire Trout ready to BBQ


1.     Keep it simple.
2.     Buy some fresh fish. Easier said than done here, where there aren’t many fishmongers. But supermarkets are fine.
3.     Heat the BBQ and make sure you have a wire rack that the fish can’t fall through.
4.     Wash the fish in cold water. Some suggestions for serving
Trout – stuff wedges of lemon in the sides two per fish
Dentice- sea bream or snapper stuff with herbs like basil, parsley and bay then drizzle with olive oil and lemon
Prawns- as they are. Serve with a garlic butter or mayonnaise
Sword fish- drizzle with lemon and olive oil

 Cooking time varies but is always quick, about 7 minutes per side for the trout and slightly more for the larger fish.

BBQ prawns in San Vito, Sicily

Monday, 11 August 2014

A TASTE OF SUMMER- Rhubarb and Orange Swiss Roll- Inspired by the Great British Bake Off

GBBO inspired Swiss Roll

As we returned a few days ago into a grey and gloomy Britain after a few weeks away, I could feel our spirits sink, all except one daughter.

“Hey, The Great British Bake Off starts again today, so it’s not all bad!” She said enthusiastically.

However the following day whilst I tackled the washing then the overgrown and somewhat dead plants in the garden, typical we go away when there is a heat wave and so all the tomatoes and most of the beans I have nurtured are totally dried up and shrivelled..the Not Just For Rabbits Teens got creative  inspired by their viewing.

Using left over rhubarb jam made last summer, see post ...for September 2013...and oranges they created a light delicious cake that has all the reminders of warm summer sunshine that you need.

Food from the garden

Using left over rhubarb jam made last summer, see post for September 2013 for the recipe

..and oranges they created a light delicious cake that has all the reminders of warm summer sunshine that you need.


Serves 4 plus

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 8 minutes


3 eggs

3 oz caster sugar

3 oz plain flour

Zest of an orange and juice of half 

4 TBSP Rhubarb and vanilla jam


1.      Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees

2.      Whisk the eggs and sugar until light and fluffy.

3.      Gently fold in the flour and orange zest.

4.      Pour into a lined tin (around 28x18cm) and cook for 8 minutes

5.      Remove from the oven turn out onto a sheet of baking paper dusted with sugar, then peel off the paper and score gently at 1 inch along one shorter side.
6.       Roll gently up as tightly as you can without the cake cracking, then when cooler squeeze over a little orange juice then smoother with rhubarb jam and re-roll
7.      When totally cool dust with icing sugar and eat!!

This is very light and the rhubarb and orange just give it a really different taste 

Rhubarb and orange swiss roll