Thursday, 31 October 2013



Post storm here in the South of England everything is looking a bit battered. Leaves and branches everywhere, luckily we have electricity and very little real damage unlike lots of people.

After the storm

The weather is getting colder though and we all want warming comfort food that is healthy. This roasted butternut squash soup is delicious and easy to make as you just prepare the vegetables which takes a few minutes and then blend  a bit later which isn’t difficult either!

Garlic and onions

The black olives add a saltiness and provide a good contrast to the smooth soup. The garlic and ginger just give a hint of warmth and don’t over power the overall taste.

So if you need a warming easy supper this Halloween I can thoroughly recommend this warming soup served with a red onion and olive focaccia.

Roasted butternut squash and onion soup

Roasted Butternut Squash Soup
Serves 4-6
Cooking time 40 minutes
Preparation time 5 minutes

1Butternut squash
2 red onions
3 cloves of garlic
1 ½ inch piece of ginger peeled
Splash of olive oil for roasting.
Handful of fresh rosemary
1.5 pints of vegetable stock
A few dollops of crème fraiche to serve and 10 black olives chopped to garnish.

1.     Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Wash then slice the butternut squash into rings about 1cm deep and place in a roasting tin. Peel and quarter the onion, peel the ginger and garlic, squash the cloves of garlic with a knife and add all to the roasting dish.  
2.     Coat the vegetables with a good slug of olive oil through in the rosemary sprigs and place in the middle of the oven for 35 minutes.
3.     When the vegetables are soft remove from the oven and transfer to a saucepan. Add the stock and let simmer for 10 minutes, and then blend.
4.     Serve with a dollop of crème fraiche and chopped black olives.

Butternut squash

 Happy Healthy Halloween.

Sunday, 22 September 2013



I am relatively new to the gardening lark. I tend to throw a few seeds or plants in the ground in the spring and hope for the best. Low maintenance plants are my ideal, as long as they offer something edible at the end.
Lack of time comes into this and so although I hanker after fresh broccoli, spinach and salad the slugs tend to eat more than we do.

I know experienced gardeners talk of gluts of vegetables in the garden after the summer however this year I didn’t get a single courgette, only had a few tidily little tomatoes, and not one stalk of broccoli.

We have had great handfuls of runner beans, which we all love, ad so I have been making pots of runner bean and anchovy stew, which incidentally freezes well, see my post from last August
 if you haven’t checked it out already.

The real surprise has been the rhubarb.

I thought Rhubarb was a spring thing.

Not in our garden.

Unless it thinks it’s Spring now?


So I have been cooking up pots of rhubarb. We have made delicious individual tarts, which all got eaten before I could photograph them, sorry.  There has been bowls of rhubarb lightly stewed with orange juice and sugar, another great combo, and lastly my biggest achievement rhubarb and vanilla jam.

Yes jam.

Rhubarb jam making

Not something I would normally post here, but it’s delicious so think I will share the recipe in case anyone else has an abundance of rhubarb. Advance warning, it requires marinating overnight , so don’t do what I did the first time, and think you can make it in a hurry. It is easy, as most of recipes are and quick once you have left it over night. Kind of low maintenance jam!


Preparation time 5 minutes to cut up and over night to marinate
Cooking time 15 minutes
Serves lots and makes 3small kilner jars full


1.2kg rhubarb cut into chunks
2 vanilla pods
700g jam sugar
The juice of one orange


1.      Wash and chop the rhubarb and place in a large preserving pan. Layering the rhubarb with the sugar, orange juice and the vanilla pods, cover with a clean tea towel and leave over night.
2.      The next day put a couple of saucers in the freezer ready for testing the hot jam, remove the vanilla pods from the sticky mixture and scrape out the seeds, stir them in with 120 ml water then turn on the heat.
3.      Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and bring to the boil.
4.      Boil for 10 minutes until the bubbles get bigger, or if you have a sugar thermometer until it reaches 105 degrees. I bought a thermometer this year but actually think the best way to tell is by the bubbles and then dip a spoon into the mixture and put a dollop of the mixture on the freezing saucer. You have to freeze it for 30 seconds and then if a slight skin forms it is ready.
5.      Don’t over boil as it becomes more like toffee- not as nice as it sounds believe me. Let it cool for 10 minutes and then pour into warm sterilized jars. You can put them in the dish washer or just heat them with steam from the kettle to ensure they are clean.
6.      Seal the jars and keep in the fridge is my advice. The jam last up to a year if kept un opened and refrigerated.  


Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes
Makes a pot full!!


1 kg washed rhubarb chopped into chunks
I glass of orange juice approximately 150 ml
2tbsp soft brown sugar


1.      Chop the rhubarb and place in a large saucepan.
2.      Pour on the sugar and orange juice, if the base of the pan is not covered with liquid add a little cold water, then simmer slowly for 10 minutes.
The rhubarb should melt down into a delicious soft sweet compote that is perfect for breakfast with yoghurt or in crumbles or fools.

Summer fruits from the garden

Well that’s a first, two recipes in one post hope you have some rhubarb to try them with!

Sunday, 8 September 2013


Moules de Mer- Mussels in French Market 

Everywhere we went on our recent trip to France mussels or Moules were on the menu.


Each place offered their own slightly different versions; there were mussels with cream, mussels with curry..not something I tried I have to admit. In St Malo we had delicious mussels with a lovely creamy, fishy, chorizo sauce, sounds awful but they were gorgeous but not great for a vegetarian food blog and of course the traditional moules marinere- the classic mussels with garlic and white wine.

Some were better than others of course.  

Garlic stall at a market in France

One of the best things about the house swap this summer was just having the time and space to stop. It also allowed me the chance to sit and look through my friends cook books. It was interesting looking at French vegetarian recipe books on Mediterranean cooking, which were extolling the virtues of the Mediterranean diet and with its simple vegetable based structure supplemented with small quantities of fish, meat and cheese. Sometimes it is easy to forget that the simple recipes can be the tastiest. You realize we do tend to over complicate food at home sometimes.

Gruissan Plage, France

Not Just For Rabbits has always been about taste and simple economical food. Food that is suitable for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike and that doesn’t take hours to prepare. So here is my simple recipe for Moules Mariniere.

Kilo's of cooked mussels


Serves 4
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes

2 Cloves of garlic
1 Large white onion
A dash of olive oil for frying
A glass of white wine about 8 fl oz or 220 ml  more if you want. A little tip don’t panic if you don’t have any white wine, rose does work as well if you have drunk all the white!
1.5-2 kg of fresh mussels, scrubbed and de bearded!!
Pepper to season.

1.     Chop the onion and garlic into small pieces, put a good slug of olive oil in a deep saucepan with a lid and then fry them gently until they are soft.
2.     Whilst this cooks wash the mussels, pull off all the bits of weed etc that are attached. Discard any broken or open shells at this stage.
3.     When they are all clean and the onions are soft add the wine to the saucepan and stir for a few seconds allowing it to warm, then gently tip in the mussels and cover with a lid for about five to seven minutes.
4.     This allows the mussels to steam open gently in the wine vapour cooking them properly. When they have opened and have changed to a light colour serve them in big bowls spooning over the wine juices to give a soup like liquid, serve with plenty of fresh bread.

Moules Mariniere and crusty bread

This is such an easy economical supper. The fish monger in France reckoned you needed 1kg of mussels per person, but we found ½ kilo more than enough, in England the fishmonger said one pint person was enough. One pint to ½ kilo is good especially if you have other courses –like cheese and crème Catalan. Now that is what I have to have a go at making next I think.

For other updates, news and recipes see the Not Just For Rabbits Facebook page.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Melons in S France

This summer we're doing a house swap in the South of France which has been fantastic. It meant a lot of tidying and organising before we left home so our house was ready for another family to use, not easy after a month of non-stop exchanges, friends and visitors, however, it has been worth it. It is lovely to move into a proper home, so to speak, not a holiday cottage in a real village.
The village itself is tiny with an epicerie, butchers and tabac, everthing you need on a day to day basis, with the usual rash of hypermarkets not far away.

Market day at Céret

On a recent daytrip to Perpignan, a very pretty town in the south west France one hour from the Spanish border, I had a salad in a restaurant that was really good.
Tasty and so easy to do, and unlike a lot of salads here there wasn’t an onion or egg in sight.

It had charenten melon, kiwi, water melon, lettuce and tomatoes with a fine dressing and was one of the most refreshing things I’ve eaten in a while.

Charenten meons

Needless to say we have had our own version many times since, always with slight variations, depending on what is in the fridge, but the essence is the same.


Serves 4 people
Preparation time 5 minutes
No cooking required!


¼ of a charenten melon cut into cubes about 1cm in size
2 kiwi’s cut into cubes
4 tomatoes roughly chopped
1 fresh green lettuce, washed and roughly torn into bite size pieces.
1 Slice of watermelon again cubed

For the dressing mix 1 part white wine vinegar to 4 parts olive oil with a pinch of mixed herbs, half a tsp of French mustard and half a tsp of honey and mix well.

tomato,melon and kiwi salad

It sounds like a cross between a fruit salad and green salad but really is gorgeous. Even those who aren’t normally particularly keen on melon in our family like it, that’s saying something. We had it with fresh prawns and crusty french bread which was gorgeous but it would go equally well with roast chicken.....


So for a taste of the South of France, those fields of sunflowers and road side stalls stacked with melons try this.

A simple supper

Sunday, 28 July 2013


Eastbourne Pier and beach

A few weeks ago we went to Eastbourne for the Wedding of an old friend.

The sun shone, the sea sparkled and love was definitely in the air as they made their vows in the bandstand.

Bandstand Eastbourne 

In between celebrating and catching up with old friends we strolled along the seafront.  Enjoying an ice cream from the delicious Italian ice cream parlour and cafe Fusciardi’s which was so good we went back for breakfast the next day!!

...and having a swim like true holiday makers.

For those of you who don’t know Eastbourne it is a Victorian Seaside town with a lovely seafront and wonderful pier. It is so traditional in a very British way.

Deckchairs, Ice-cream huts, seafood stalls, shops selling buckets and spades and fish and chips.

Great British Seaside

seafood stalls Eastbourne, Sussex

As much as I love a decent portion of good old fish and chips, in the recent heat deep fried batter did not appeal.

Fish and chips on Eastbourne pier 

Instead I was inspired to cook “a little fillet of plaice” as my Granny used to say.

Plaice and lemon sole have been in season recently and so are reasonably priced and extra fresh. The other good thing about plaice, for those of you who haven’t cooked much fish, is that it’s not a strong tasting fish like mackerel, so if cooking for fussy eaters it's generally well received, and a good fish to start children off on.  

Here then is my fuss free, easy, but tasty recipe for plaice and capers.
Simple, tasty and economical.

Plaice and capers served with spinach and sweet potato chips


Serves 2
Preparation time 2 minutes
Cooking time 10 minutes


2 fillets of plaice
Juice of half a lemon
1tbsp of capers
Slug of olive oil, pepper to season.


1.     Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line an oven proof dish with aluminium foil making sure you have enough foil to make into a parcel over the fish.
2.     Put the slug of oil in the bottom and then lay the fillets on top, squeeze the lemon juice over and throw over the capers. Season with black pepper.
3.     Close the foil over the fish like a parcel leaving enough space for air to circulate around and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
4.     When cooked the fish is a lovely white colour.

Plaice and capers before cooking

Plaice and capers after cooking

Serve on a bed of wilted spinach and homemade sweet potato chips or whatever takes your fancy.

Deck chairs Eastbourne seafront

Saturday, 27 July 2013


Vegetarian alternative to chicken and grape salad with home made bread

When I started this Blog a year and a half ago one of my main purposes was to share recipes that catered for both vegetarians and meat eaters without providing the chef with double amount of cooking.

It was designed to make my life easier. However over the months there have been a range of recipes sweet and savoury, usually using seasonal ingredients most are healthy and several to help boost tired teens especially those post viral and glandular fever. The thing they all have in common is they are recipes that we all find delicious here in Not Just For Rabbits family!!

Chicken and grape salad is a real family favourite, my Mother makes it and we all love it so the challenge was to find a way to make it for both chicken lovers and the veggies.

 This adaptation is great as it is easy to make and suitable if you have a large crowd. I have substituted mozzarella for chicken and it works really well as it combines that classic mozzarella basil combination. I think it would also work with lightly grilled halloumi, however the rest of the family aren’t that keen on it so have stuck to mozzarella.

 The brilliant thing about this is you can easily make 2 versions with NO EXTRA FUSS... simple divide the dressing over two separate bowls. The main picture shows the salad served with home made cow pat bread, see recipe from last year for that. 

Picnic by the river

Boo's flowers


Serves 4-6
Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time none if you use pre cooked chicken or mozzarella


450 g green seeded grapes halved
450 g cooked cold chicken or mozzarella chopped into bite size chunks
5 tbsp crème fraiche
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp green pesto
1 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and pepper to taste and handful if basil leaves and pine nuts to garnish!


1.      Mix the crème fraiche, pesto, lemon juice, pesto and olive oil in a bowl and whisk together until smoothly mixed.
2.      Chop the mozzarella, or chicken and grapes then cover with the delicious dressing.
3.      Serve with a crisp green salad topped with fresh basil leaves and a sprinkling of pine nuts.

eating outdoors..

This is such an easy fuss free recipe for sunny summer eating.

Fields of Poppies

So whether you’re at home, or out having a picnic, enjoy the salad and sunshine.