Friday, 27 April 2012


Red Lentils

We all had that Friday feeling and so the unanimous verdict for supper was

“A Curry!”

 Rather than order out, it has been a busy week with me starting my new job, the following sweet potato and red lentil curry is so simple it’s actually quicker to make it, than phone the order and go out to pick one up!!

And a lot cheaper- Always a plus.

It’s an old favourite recipe that I’ve made many times. I recently took it to a friend’s birthday supper and it proved very popular.

It is great on its own or works well alongside meat curries.

Rather than endlessly extol its virtue I’ll just give you the recipe.

 So if you’re stuck for something for supper and have a variety of different appetites to cater for you can have a go!

Sweet potatoes


root veg and red lentil curry

Preparation time- 3-5 minutes chopping
Cooking time: 20 minutes
start to plate time: 30 minutes maximum

but don’t worry this is REALLY EASY as it’s just a quick bit of chopping and then  it  cooks on its own!

Pots and pans: large frying pan
Serves 4-6


Sunflower oil for frying approx 2 tbsp
1 medium onion sliced
4 carrots
500g sweet potato chopped
200 g potatoes -the smaller the pieces the quicker it cooks
150 g red lentils
2tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1tsp ground coriander
3 cloves of garlic
1 litre of Vegetable stock


1.     Peel the onion, potatoes, carrots and sweet potato and fry in oil with the chopped garlic until slightly golden.
2.     Add the curry powders to this and stir in well
3.     Next add the stock and boil well for a few minutes then add the lentils and cook until the potatoes are soft!
4.     Easy.. then make sure your rice is cooking so you can time it all to come together!!

Serve with rice, naam bread , mango chutney and some natural yogurt.

Red lentils

Thursday, 19 April 2012


Cow Pat Bread

Umm something smells delicious!” Sighed Teen V hungrily

“It’s Cow pat bread!”

“Seriously? Yuck!!!... Is there anything else?”

“No!” I replied quietly confident, and asked her to set the table.

For years I had heard rave reviews of this bread. Friends eyes lit up at the mention of it, taste buds of all ages were set off at the mere thought of it.

It's the signature of a wonderful lady called Judy, who very kindly shared it with me recently. Since then I have been keen to make it myself.

It’s a real no fuss recipe that you can bung in the bread maker, if you have one, or easily make by hand if you don’t. 

It's packed with goodness and doesn't disappoint. 

The kitchen was filled with the comforting aroma of fresh baking bread and homemade soup and everyone who ate was totally impressed.

The name cow pat bread comes from the shape of the dough, nothing more sinister than that. It tastes nothing like a cow pat looks and is light but wholesome!!

It’s a real gem and one that I will be adding to my bread repertoire!

Thank you Judy!!

Cow Pat Bread


Preparation time about 5 minutes with rising time of about 2 hours
Cooking time 30 minutes


1 and 2/3 cups of water
2 cups of strong white bread flour
2 cups of  Allinson wholemeal seed and grain flour- Judy said malted flour but I had this and it was delicious
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp soft brown sugar
3tbsp dried milk powder
1 tsp salt1tsp dried yeast


1.     If using a bread maker put in the water then add the dry ingredients and set to dough setting...and go to 3.

2.     If making it by hand mix all the dry ingredients and then add the water gradually and knead. Leave somewhere warm to rise for about an hour or until doubled in size.

3.     Turn it onto a non-stick baking sheet and shape into a “slipper shape ie twice as long as wide and about 5cm high". Now let it rest and rise somewhere warm for about ½ hour.

4.     Then cook in a pre heated oven at 180 degrees for about 30 minutes.

It is fab.

 I sprinkled dried herbs, sea salt and olive oil over it before I put it in the oven and it was great.

Judy recommends bunging a handful of sunflower seeds or linseeds in to the dough I think anything goes and it depends what you are serving it with. 

Bread and Olives

Cow Pat Bread and Pont L' Eveque

Spring pear blossom
Whilst the bread was rising I went outside, despite the rain, the blossom is looking beautiful. The greens so fresh, full of life. I thought I'd share these with you as well.

Pear blossom in the rain.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012



As you know one of the reasons I started this blog was to share recipes that made life easier when catering for vegetarians and meat eaters at the same time.

Offering two dishes in the time it takes to make one.

Along the way I have rediscovered my love of photography and have managed to encourage Teen Vegetarian to take more of an interest in what she eats.

So it is proving to be a very positive experience for all of us. The fact that so many of you lovely people are checking it out, reading and commenting, well that’s the icing on the cake for me. Thank you!

Do sign up to follow, comment and feedback, it is great to hear what you think.

Red Peppers


Yesterday we were all cold..AGAIN..the problem with the boiler continues and so yet again we had no heat or hot water, I am assured that the new boiler will be up and running tonight so hopefully this will be that last time I mention it!!  


As the day progressed I developed an urge for a warming chilli and once the idea took hold, all other plans went out the window.

My Mum, an excellent cook, made me a recipe book for Christmas a few years ago and this is one of her classic recipes.

All I have done is make it straightforward for the cook when catering for vegetarians and meat eaters at the same time. This way you make one big vegetable chilli that gets divided into a con carne pot and con vegetable pot.

Saving on time and agro. 

Two for one! My favourite type of recipe.

Unfortunately in the afternoon I got side tracked looking at some rather beautiful food blogs so ended up making this in a rush. The good news is, it tasted just as good even though I cooked it for the minimum time, not the normal hour plus.

Luckily I’d been to the market up the road and got some lovely looking peppers and other veg so could just throw it together.

Green peppers

Here is my version of my lovely Mum’s recipe.


This is an adaptation of my Mum’s delicious chilli con carne recipe that I have modified to make easy to prepare for meat eaters and vegetarians at the same time. Just make sure you have enough pans it is easy to make the two chilli’s simultaneously.

 Ideally you need 2 frying pans and 2 saucepans or casserole dishes.

Preparation time 10 minutes

Cooking time 45 minutes or longer if you have time! The ideal is 2hrs to develop a rich flavour but if you are in a hurry I have done it in 45 minutes and it was delicious

 It serves 4-6 people - 4 meat eaters and 2 veggies though this can be easily adapted!!


1 large red onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 large red pepper
1 green pepper
2 carrots
1 tin of red kidney beans
2 tins of tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato paste
11/2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp black treacle
500g pack of beef mince
1 handful of spinach and 2 florets of broccoli or cauliflower what ever you have.


1.     Slice the onions, peppers, garlic and carrots and fry in olive oil for about 3-5 minutes. At the same time gently fry the mince in A SEPERATE FRYING PAN.

2.     Add the cumin, chilli and treacle to the vegetable mixture and stir in well then add the tins of tomatoes, kidney beans and tomato paste and stir well.

3.     When the mince has browned transfer it into a casserole and add 2/3 of the vegetable tomato mixture, stir to combine it together and cover. Just make sure you have kept as much of the vegetable mixture as you need for your vegetarians.   Transfer this remaining vegetable chilli into a smaller casserole or saucepan. At this stage add the handful of spinach and the broccoli florets, cover and simmer gently.

4.     That’s it now just let it simmer, have a beer, if you are really going for it make some guacamole and cheese nachos if not set the timer and forget about it.

This fed 4 hungry people easily with rice and guacamole. With left over’s for lunch the next day.

Today I heated the leftovers, put them in an oven proof dish, sprinkled them with nachos and grated cheese and baked for 10 minutes until the cheese melted. More delicious food for no effort..

Chilli and nachos

 Quick, easy, delicious.

Sunday, 15 April 2012


Garlic and turmeric

“What’s for supper?” is a question that is well used in our house.

“Don’t know yet” I replied as I tipped compost into yet another plant pot.

The sun was out.

 The ground soft from all the rain and I was on a mission...

Potting on and planting out the seedlings that will, in a few months, give us crops of runner beans, green beans, broccoli and tomatoes.

In the crisp Spring sunshine it was all was very satisfying, especially when I thought of all the fresh veg we would harvest later in the year..umm

Runner bean plant

However after a busy morning outdoors it felt wrong to head down to the local supermarket, no matter how fresh its produce.


 I wanted something altogether earthier...

“Oh no!” sighed Teen V as I expressed the urge to go to one of the nearby farm shops.

“I suppose some fresh air and a break would be good.” She conceded as she agreed to join me on the trip.

Firstly we went to Sunnyfields organics

They stock a range of fresh organic vegetables, local organic meat and have a mini organic food supermarket also stocking ecover and other organic household ranges. We lingered over the hand crafted local organic New Forest soaps, which were so soft and aromatic and smelt lovely.

After this we headed on to Longdown Farm shop who also stock local vegetable and meat produce.

As an aside, they also have a children’s activity farm with lots of animal and interactive areas. The calves are particularly sweet at the moment!! I shouldn’t say that I know, but they look gorgeous.

Calves at Longdown Farm New Forest

Anyway back to the vegetables..

I had been hoping for some fresh spinach as it’s coming into season.  

There’s a great recipe that I wanted to make, but was told we were just that bit too early for the local spinach, hang on until May. 

So you’re going to have to wait a little longer for that treat.

They still had lots of cabbage and root vegetables for sale so I opted for some nice cabbage instead.

There’s a simple Leon recipe that I’ve used several times and is worth trying if you haven’t already. It’s called Jossy’s Burmese spicy cabbage and is taken from the Leon Naturally Fast Food Book 2. 

It does feel strange posting other people’s recipes as well as my own but it is a great one to have up your sleeve if you don’t know it.


 Jossy’s Burmese spicy cabbage

Preparation time about 10 minutes
Cooking time about 7 minutes
Feeds 4


400g green cabbage
2.5cm piece of ginger
3 large cloves of garlic
75g roasted peanuts
1 tsp turmeric
Juice of ½ lemon
1 tbsp fish sauce
2 tbsp peanut oil
Large handful of coriander leaves ripped.


1.     Slice the cabbage thinly. Peel the ginger and garlic and slice them as thin as possible. Bash the peanuts up- the easiest way is to put them in a strong plastic bag and hit them hard with a rolling pin or something strong!
2.     Put 100ml of hot water in a measuring jug add the turmeric and stir until smooth adding the lemon juice and fish sauce
3.     In a wok or large frying pan heat the peanut oil then add the cabbage and stir until it softens.
4.     Add the garlic, ginger and peanuts and continue stirring for another 2-3 minutes
5.     Pour the liquid over the cabbage and stir it for another few minutes until it reduces down and the cabbage is soft.
6.     Throw over the chopped coriander leaves before you serve.


We have had it as a lunch on its own, but it would be great with chicken or pork.


I haven’t taken any pictures of the final dish, as it is essentially strips of yellow cabbage..and if I’m honest, it got eaten before I could get creative!

Don’t worry it looks bright and cheery and is simple, tasty and cheap to make.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Easter cupcakes and eggs

What a few days, yes, it’s been chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate here.

All interspersed with beautiful music at Winchester Cathedral and lots of food and fun with family and friends.

Not sure if I’m knackered from the entertaining or just from the over indulgence of too much cake and chocolate.


I had intended to post our Easter nest recipe pre the weekend but hey, I ran out of time, and let’s face it, Easter nests are so easy to make, I felt there was no great loss!!

Instead I’ve decided to share a few ideas and pictures of our Easter cakes. Rather than the classic simnel cake, everyone wanted a selection of cupcakes and Easter nests.

Easter cupcakes

Fine by me.

They’re easy to make and there are always volunteers to decorate them.
They were enjoyed by all the young cousins as well as the adults.

I was having a coffee with a friend the other day and as we munched another Easter nest we somehow ended up talking about what we have used the odd stray egg or bunny for.

Easter nests

She confessed to smashing the head of a bunny, to decorate the tiramisu on Easter Sunday. Much to the horror of her daughter!

“I grated the bottom of a chocolate reindeer to decorate a torte!” I added

It reminded me of a Mum I met at a playgroup years ago. She melted her children’s Easter eggs down to make crispy cakes without them knowing.

She’d got fed up with the boxes hanging around and wanted to remove the temptation to raid them!!

Chicks and eggs!

Something healthy and savoury to follow soon,
 I promise.

Just need to help finish these eggs...

Thursday, 5 April 2012


Frozen Peas

If I thought catering for one vegetarian was occasionally tricky, the forthcoming family party this weekend has proved a bit of a challenge.

 Not just because I had hoped we’d be outside in the garden, bathed in the sunshine of the previous weeks, with tables draped with white clothes and huge pots of camellias... you get where I’m coming from?

However the reality is the temperature has dropped at least 10 degrees and the only people likely to venture outside will be the under 10’s who need to let off steam. 


Anyway back to the food. 

Amongst our lovely friends and family there are a healthy collection of vegetarians, vegans, and some who are lactose intolerant, as well as the meat eaters.

This got me racking my brains and researching.

I need canapé/ nibbles and main courses that can cater for all, be low maintenance enough to allow me to escape the kitchen and socialize a bit.

 I love a party in the kitchen, but not if I am stirring pots and straining rice and veg.

Something easy...and what is easier than frozen peas???...
Before you press delete and never return, I haven't lost the plot.

 Read on...
Last weekend I used some friends as guinea pigs and tested pea and mint brushetta’s on them. It uses frozen peas and is SO SIMPLE it's not true.

The original Mint and Pea bruschetta recipe by Sophie Bruce, came from Olive magazine and was made with crème fraiche.


I made 2 batches one with crème fraiche and one without and we all preferred it  without.

 It also means it's great for the vegans and lactose intolerant.


If you are looking for something easy, tasty and economical to serve up pre lunch or dinner or just a quick snack, that suits everyone...even fruitarians.. it uses uncooked peas..(luckily I haven’t got any of them coming!!)

Try this.

Pea and Mint bruschetta


Preparation time under 5 minutes
This doesn’t need cooking..just blitzing.


150 g frozen peas
Handful of mint leaves
Olive oil
1tbsp water

Slices of ciabatta or mini Panini rolls toasted lightly


1.     Let the peas thaw slightly then blitz in a blender with the mint, water and ½ tbsp olive oil. Don’t overdo it as you want a nice lumpy consistency .

2.     Toast the ciabtta or panni until golden. Spoon on the pea mixture and arrange on plate to serve. Drizzle with olive oil to serve....

Pea and mint and Parma ham and olive bruschetta

The picture above shows the pea mixture with added crème fraiche, if you want to use this put 2 tbsp instead of olive oil and water in before you blitz the peas. 
If you want a fresher healthier flavour go with my recipe. 

You can see how different the colour of the mixture is. 

Nothing like as vibrant and fresh looking as the pure pea mixture.

As you can see I served it alongside bruschetta with Parma ham and olives all drizzled with olive oil and scattered rocket.