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Vanilla and Cinnamon Marrow Cake/Spicy Marrow Fritters

I was given a home-grown marrow by a friend this week and my first thought was 'how kind.' My second thought was 'what the heck will I do with that?' After a bit of experimenting I produced this recipe for a loaf cake and used the leftover marrow to make fritters. Marrows are just overgrown courgettes so you could use either for these recipes especially as there seems to be a glut of them just now. Thank you Tricia McDougal for your lovely home-grown marrow. Without it I would have never invented these recipes!









  • 3 eggs
  • 225ml sunflower oil
  • 400g soft brown sugar
  • 3 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 375g self-raising flour
  • 250g peeled, deseeded and grated marrow

Beat the eggs and stir in the oil, sugar and vanilla. Beat well. Gradually stir in the cinnamon, flour and bicarb and mix well. Fold in the grated marrow. Butter 2 loaf tins and line the bases with baking paper. Halve the mixture between the tins and bake at 170C/Gas3 until risen and firm. (About 40mins)








  • 100g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 6 spring onions, chopped
  • 2 chillies, chopped
  • 400g peeled, deseeded and grated marrow
  • oil for frying
  • sweet chilli sauce to serve

Put the flour and salt in a bowl, make a well and break in the eggs and add the milk. Stir slowly to form a batter. Stir in the spring onions, chillies and grated marrow. Heat an oiled pan and drop teaspoons of the mixture into the pan. Cook on a low heat, turning, until crisp and brown on both sides. Serve hot or cold with chilli sauce. (The fritters are best made small and thin as they are crispier this way.)





Bean and Cheese Quesadillas

The other day I found myself with hungry students to feed so put together this quick storecupboard supper using ingredients I found in the kitchen and coriander/salad leaves from the garden. You can add extra chilli powder and/or tabasco to the bean mix if you like a hotter taste.


  • 2 cans refried beans
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 150g Red Leicester cheese, grated
  • 8 flour tortillas

Put the refried beans in a bowl. Add the coriander, half of the cheese and chilli powder/tabasco if using and mash well. Lay out 4 tortillas and divide bean mixture between them then top with the last of the cheese then another tortilla. Press them firmly together. Griddle the tortillas on each side for a couple of minutes until golden and charred. Cut into quarters and keep warm until the rest are cooked. Serve four quarters of tortilla per person with salad for a tasty supper, or do as I did and add potato wedges if you are feeding hungry guests!


Rosti with eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes

Probably the most frequent question I am asked about being vegetarian is whether I miss bacon sandwiches. Admittedly, when we are off in our motorhome, the smell of bacon and eggs wafting across the campsite each morning is very appealing, so I often cook this breakfast for us which is much tastier (and kinder to pigs) as we all know bacon smells so much better than it tastes!


Per person:

  • 1 large potato
  • 2 large flat mushrooms
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 large tomato

To cook: salt and pepper/dried basil/sunflower or rapeseed oil

Peel the potatoes and grate them. Wrap in a clean tea towel and squeeze tightly to remove as much liquid as possible. Put into a bowl and sprinkle with a little salt and plenty of black pepper.

Meanwhile trim and wipe the mushrooms and halve the tomatoes and put on a non-stick baking tray. Spray with a little oil and sprinkle the tomatoes with basil.Put into a medium oven.

Heat an oiled frying pan, put in 2 chef's rings and fill with grated potato. Press down firmly and cook on a medium heat until crisp and browned on the bottom. Remove rings, turn rosti over and cook the other sides. (Do not be tempted to use too much oil or the potato will soak it up making the rosti soggy.) When they are cooked, slip them into the oven to keep warm while you use the rings to fry the eggs.

Serve the rosti topped with the mushrooms, eggs and tomatoes.



Roast Vegetable Cous Cous with Halloumi

Summertime is eating outside time! This recipe combines some of my favourite flavours and is delicious with crusty bread and chilled wine.









  • 1 red onion, cut into wedges
  • 2 peppers, chopped
  • half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 350g cous cous
  • half teaspoon ground cumin
  • salt and pepper
  • 400ml hot vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh herbs (parsely and mint are good)
  • juice and zest of a lemon
  • 50g cashews or pine nuts, toasted
  • small pack halloumi, thickly sliced

Heat oven to 200C/Gas 6. Put onion, peppers and squash in a roasting pan, sprinkle with garlic oil and thyme and roast for 20 - 25 minutes. Put cous cous in a bowl with cumin and salt and pepper and mix well. Add hot vegetable stock, stir and cover with clingfilm until stock is absorbed. Fluff up cous cous with a fork and add roast vegetables, herbs and lemon juice. Cook halloumi slices on both sides in a hot griddle pan or frying pan until golden. Serve the cous cous sprinkled with the toasted nuts and topped with halloumi slices.

Try adding different vegetables such as sliced courgettes, cubed aubergine, halved mushrooms etc.



Goat's Cheese, Tomato and Lentil Salad

I love salads in the summertime. There are so many delicious ingredients that can be easily thrown into the salad bowl, drizzled with dressing that there is no excuse for the bland old lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo! Try experimenting with different varieties of lentils and beans, grains, pastas, vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, cheeses....whatever you have in the fridge.

This is a salad I first made when we were on our travels in our motorhome, which we ate outdoors with fresh crusty bread and a bottle of chilled wine. Delicious!











  • can of green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 250g baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • 100g goat's cheese, crumbled
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • salt and pepper
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • handful of fresh coriander, chopped

Put the lentils, onion, carrot and tomatoes in a large bowl. Mix together the lemon juice, olive oil and garlic and season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and mix to coat the vegetables. Sprinkle with the goat's cheese and coriander.





Asparagus and Cheddar Tart, Beetroot and Feta Salad, Poached Cherries


This is my new laminated 'Seasonal Fruit and Vegetable Chart' that I bought from from Liz Cook Charts in Brighton. ( The chart is displayed in my kitchen and is a great reminder of which produce is in season during each month. Eating seasonally means that fruit and vegetables tend to be fresher and cheaper and have optimum flavour and nutrients. On the chart for June are asparagus, beetroot and cherries, so this weekend I included them in my cooking.



This tart is delicious with salad and steamed new potatoes. The pastry can catch very easily (as you can see from my photo!) so keep checking and turn down the temprature if necessary.

  • 250g asparagus
  • sheet ready rolled puff pastry
  • 4 egg yolks (ust the whites to make meringues or a super healthy egg white omlette)
  • 300ml low fat creme fraiche
  • 2 tablespoons grated extra mature cheddar
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Heat the oven to 220C/Gas7. Place the pastry on a baking sheet and score a line about 1cm inside the edge all the way around. Prick the centre of the pastry with a fork. Clean the asparagus and trim the ends then lay on the centre rectangle of the pastry, keeping inside the border. Mix together the creme fraiche, egg yolks, chives and mustard. Season then spread over the asparagus. Sprinkle with cheddar. Bake for 35 - 40 mins.


This may seem like a strange mix of ingredients but the flavours work really well together. Toasting the walnuts improves the flavour. You could use goats cheese instead of feta.

  • 600g fresh baby beetroots, trimmed and washed but unpeeled
  • 1 red onion, sliced very thinly
  • crisp salad leaves such as Romaine lettuce
  • 2 oranges, peel and pith removed and segmented
  • 100g walnuts, toasted
  • 200g feta cheese, cubed
  • small bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped

For the dressing:

  • 1 tablespoon runny honey
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • salt and white pepper

Bake beetroots at 180C/Gas 4 until tender - about 35mins. Allow to cool then slice thickly. Line a large bowl with salad leaves then arrange beetroot, onion, orange segments, and walnuts on top. Mix dressing ingredients together and pour over salad. Top with feta and parsley and serve with crusty bread.










I used sweet cherries for this recipe which meant I didn't have to add much sugar. We ate it spooned over Cornish icecream but next time I am going to try it in pancakes with whipped cream.

Wash and stone a large punnet of cherries. Put just enough water in a small pan to cover the base. Add the cherries and a couple of teaspoons of sugar to taste, depending how sweet the cherries are. Heat gently until cherries are soft. Turn off heat and add a good splash of Kirsch, Cherry Brandy or Amaretto and leave to cool.





Dessert Overload!

Had a lovely evening cooking with my daughter, Rose, experimenting with dessert recipes for our next family dinner party. All of these recipes are very rich, so small portions are fine. Of course we had to sample each of them, so will be cutting down on calories for he rest of the week! In the end we couldn't decide which we preferred, so we are going to make them all and let our guests choose.










  • 100g butter
  • 200g ginger biscuits, crushed
  • 125ml double cream
  • 150g condensed milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon (approx 5 tablespoons)
  • Grated rind of 1 lemon

Melt the butter and add the biscuits. Stir well and press mixture into the bottom of a buttered loose-bottom tin. (or you can use small indvidual pots if you prefer.) Refrigerate the base, then make the filling by whisking together condensed milk, double cream, lemon juice and rind for 1 minute. Spoon onto base and chill until firm.



  • 225g plain chocolate
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 6 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Amaretto liqueuer
  • 4 tablespoons double cream
  • Whipped cream to decorate

Melt the chocolate and leave to cool slightly. Meanwhile, whisk the egg yolks and caster sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the melted chocolate to the mixture and fold in carefully with the liqueuer and the cream. Whisk the egg whites until stiff then carefully fold into the chocolate mixture. Pour mixture into glasses/small cups and chill until set. Decorate with whipped cream.


  • Large bag of Maltesers
  • 4 Mars bars
  • 150ml condensed milk
  • 250g shortbread biscuits
  • 250g milk chocolate
  • 100g unsalted butter

Line a small baking tin (approx 18 x 20cm) with baking paper. Finely crush the biscuits and roughly crush the maltesers, reserving 12 for decoration. Dice the Mars bars. Gently melt the butter and condensed milk together, stirring well. Add the crushed Maltesers, biscuit crumbs and chopped Mars bars and mix well. Pour into the tin and refrigerate until set. Melt the chocolate and use to cover the base. Decorate with the reserved Maltesers. Put back into fridge to set, remembering to mark into portions before chocolate fully hardens.





Broccoli Quiche

I was sent this recipe and as it has been such a glorious spring day here, it seemed a perfect time to try it. I served it with salad and coleslaw and my family loved it, especially my daughter Anna who has already asked me to make it again!

Broccoli Quiche

  • Sheet of ready made shortcrust pastry
  • 30g parmesan, grated
  • 175g broccoli, well chopped
  • 100g cheese, grated
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 vegetable stock cube,crumbled, or 1 level teaspoon Marigold Boullion Powder
  • 150ml double cream
  • ¼ teaspoon Tabasco

Use the pastry to line a buttered quiche dish (approx 24cm). Prick the base with a fork and bake at 200C for 10mins. Remove from oven, sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the parmesan and increase the oven temperature to 230C.

Layer half of the broccoli, cheese and onion in the pastry case. Repeat the layers reserving a little of the cheese.

Beat the eggs with the the cream, stock powder and Tabasco and pour over the broccoli. Sprinkle with the reserved cheese.

Bake for 10minutes then reduce the heat to 160C and bake for a further 20mins.

Many thanks to Sharon Scott Bennett from Portland, Oregon, USA for the delicious recipe and apologies for changing it slightly to accomodate British weights and measures etc.



Rosie's Chilli Beans

 This is one of Rose's recipes that she made as part of a surprise Mexican meal she and Anna cooked for me. You can add more chilli if you like and you can serve it with rice or baked potatoes or wrapped in warmed tortillas with soured cream, grated cheese, crisp lettuce and sliced tomato. Cheap, easy and versatile - perfect student food! 


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 red pepper, diced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vinegar
  • 1 level teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 level teapoon paprika
  • 1 can can kidney beans (or mixed beans)
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes

Cook the pepper in half of the olive oil until softened. Remove from pan and add rest of oil, onion and sugar. Cook until the onions are softened. Put the pepper back in the pan with the vinegar, chilli powder, paprika, beans and tomatoes. Bring to boil then cover and simmer for 10 - 15 mins.


Easy Lentil Bake

Lentils have a bit of a boring reputation synonymous with hippies, sandals and bland cooking but actually they are cheap, nutritious and versatile and can be used in many delicious recipes. They are ideal for including in a vegetarian diet as they are a good source of protein, B-vitamins and iron and contain virtually no fat.

I often make this lentil bake, (especially if I haven't been shopping and the cupboards are bare!) and it is now a favourite of my daughter Rose, who loves it with roast potatoes, gravy and vegetables.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1 parsnip, diced
  • 500ml vegetable stock (I use Marigold boullion powder dissolved in boiling water)
  • 1 teaspoon marmite
  • 200g red lentils
  • 4 tablespoons wholemeal breadcrumbs
  • 40g grated cheese
  • 1 tablespoon sesame/sunflower seeds

Gently cook the vegetables in the olive oil for about 10 minutes until softened but not browned. Meanwhile make up 500ml vegetable stock and add the marmite, stirring until it dissolves. Add the stock and lentils to the pan. Bring to the boil then turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes until the liquid is absorbed and the lentils are cooked. Stir occasionally and add a little water if necessary. Turn into a buttered ovenproof dish. Mix together the crumbs, cheese and seeds and sprinkle over the top. Brown under a hot grill until cheese is melted and topping is crisp.



Chocoholic Cake!

My youngest daughter Anna celebrated her 18th birthday this weekend so Rose and I decided to make her an extra special cake. As she loves chocolate we decided to go overboard and decorate a chocolate cake with all her favourite treats.

It took me years to perfect my basic cake recipe. After trying many recipes and producing an assortment of failures, I eventually decided to ask friends for their tips on producing the perfect cake and combine them into one recipe! Tips included using plenty of eggs, sifting the flour carefully, and a trick involving bicarb and boiling water. You can use margarine for the cake mix but but in my opinion only good quality butter will do for the butter icing. Use vanilla extract rather than vanilla essence, and good quality chocolate on the top makes all the difference!


  • 200g caster sugar
  • 200g butter or margarine
  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 200g self-raising flour
  • 1 level tablespoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon bicarb of soda
  • 2 tablespoons boiling water

For the butter icing:

  • 100g butter, at room temperature
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 50g chocolate
  • 2 drops vanilla extract

To decorate:

  • 200g chocolate
  • selection of chocolate treats (we used white and milk chocolate buttons, minstrels, smarties, maltesers, chocolate mini eggs and chocolate fingers)

Heat oven to 190C and line two 20cm loose-bottom cake tins with parchment. Using a food mixer or wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugar together. Sift the flour and cocoa powder together and gradually add to the butter mix with the beaten eggs. Mix well. Place a level teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda in the centre of the mix and pour two tablespoons of boiling water on top. As soon as the bicarb froths up, gently mix it through the rest of the mixture. Divide between two tins and bake for about 20 mins until risen and golden. Leave to cool for a few minutes then remove from tins and leave on wire rack to cool thoroughly.

To make the butter icing, sift the icing sugar and beat with the butter and vanilla extract. Melt the chocolate and allow it to cool enough so that it will not melt the butter but not so cool that it starts to harden. Mix it into the butter icing and use to sandwich the two cooled cakes together.

To decorate, melt the chocolate and use to cover the cake and then get creative with your choice of chocolates.




Nutella Tarts












Another Malta inspired recipe! Each afternoon, before returning to our hotel after sightseeing, we had Nutella filled pastries with coffee. My version are smaller, so slightly less naughty and I have cut down the amount of sugar in the pastry, although you could add more if you wish.


For the pastry cases:

  • 250g plain flour
  • pinch salt
  • 25g caster sugar
  • 100g butter, cubed (room temp)
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 50ml water

Mix together flour, salt and sugar. Rub in the butter then add yolk and water and knead gently to form dough. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for about an hour. Roll out and us to line 24 patty tins. Prick the base of each pastry case with a fork then place a circle of baking paper in each and fill with dried beans. (This known as 'baking blind' and prevents the bases of the pastry cases from bubbling up. The dried beans can be kept and reused for baking blind another time.) Bake the cases for about 15minutes at 180C until browned. Allow to cool slightly before removing them from tins, then leave to cool completely.

Fill the cases with Nutella and top each one with a few toasted almonds or hazelnuts. Chill before serving.



Maltese inspired baked pasta!

  No blog update last week as Peter and I had a few days away in Malta. It was great to feel the sun and we had a lovely relaxing time just wandering about exploring the island.















Maltese cooking is very seasonal depending on fresh ingredients available. There are influences from other Mediterranean cuisine, especially Silcily, which is only 60 miles away. Although rabbit, seafood and octopus are favourites in Malta, we did find plenty of vegetarian dishes such as Balbuljata (scrambled eggs made with tomatoes and onion), Pastizzo (boat shaped pasties filled with ricotta and egg or the famous pea filling), filled pasta of all kinds, and pies with fillings such as rice and pumpkin or spinach and ricotta. The Maltese wines we sampled were very good, as was ftira, the delicious Maltese bread.

This filled pasta recipe was inspired by a dish we had in Gzira. I changed the filling and I also baked the pasta rather than frying in an attempt to keep the calories down! The recipe is a bit fiddly without a food mixer and pasta machine, but is worth the effort.









  • 300g '00' grade flour
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

If you have a food mixer, place the flour, eggs and olive oil in the mixer. Mix slowly with the flat beater until mixture begins to form a dough. Change to the dough hook and increase the speed slightly. Knead for about 10mins until smooth. Wrap in clingfilm and chill for an hour before using.

To make by hand, put flour on worksurface and make a well. Add eggs and oil and use the handle of a wooden spoon to draw the flour into the liquid. Once the mixture becomes crumbly, knead into a dough. Continue kneading for about 10mins then chill for an hour before using.


  • 12 - 15 basil leaves
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 8 - 10 sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and finely chopped
  • 300g ricotta cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten (keep the whites for the parmesan crust)

Grind the leaves with  the garlic, salt and olive oil in a pestle and mortar. Mix into the cheese with the tomatoes and egg yolks and season with pepper.


  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil and cook the onion and garlic for about 3mins. Add the tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. Leave to simmer for about 15mins.

Use the pasta machine to roll out the pasta on the thinnest setting or roll by hand with a rolling pin as thin as possible. Cut the pasta into rectangles, place on a teaspoon of filling, brush edges of pasta with water and seal. You can make parcels about the size of ravioli, or make them larger and serve 3 or 4 per person.

Parmesan Crust:

  • 2 egg whites
  • 6 tablespoons grated parmesan
  • olive oil spray

Put the egg whites in a small bowl and the parmesan in another. Dip the parcels in the egg white, then the parmesan. Spray both sides with oil, place on baking tray and bake at 180C for 15mins or until golden and crispy.

Serve with the sauce.






Sunday Lunch - Chestnut and Mushroom Pie

My youngest daughter Anna is visiting New York this week as part of her A Level Media course. Due to the wonders of the internet we have been able to keep in touch and she is having a fabulous, although very cold, time.

This recipe is one of my favourites for a winter's Sunday lunch. The addition of red wine and allspice makes a really rich sauce, and of course you can drink the rest of the wine with the finished dish!


  • 1 sheet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 beaten egg
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 350g baby mushrooms or quartered closed cup mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 240g can whole chestnuts
  • half level teaspoon allspice
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 150ml vegetable stock
  • 4 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 250ml red wine
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 teaspoons cornflour

Heat the oven to 220C/Gas7. Cut 4 circles from the pastry sheet, flute the edges with a fork and use the scraps to make leaves to decorate. Brush with the beaten egg and bake on an oiled baking tray for 15 minutes or until risen and golden.

Cook the onion in the olive oil for about 4 minutes then add the mushrooms and garlic and cook until mushrooms are browned. Add chestnuts, allspice, bay leaves, stock, tomato puree, red wine and salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for ten minutes. To thicken the sauce, mix the cornflour with a little cold water and add to the pan slowly while stirring. Serve with the pastry 'lids'.



Hummus - The Nut Shop way!

One of our most popular sandwich fillings at The Nut Shop was hummus with grated carrot and cress in seeded rolls. Our recipe is easy and quick, and contains less salt and fat than many shop-bought varieties. The recipe makes a large batch so that you can fill some small tubs and freeze ready for packed lunches. You can adjust the amount of garlic and lemon juice to suit your taste, and make it as smooth or coarse as you wish. (Tahini is a paste made from ground sesame seeds and can be found in health food shops and some supermarkets)


  • 2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed                                  
  • 60ml water
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • half teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons tahini
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil.

Place all ingredients in a blender and blend until texture is 'grainy'. Use a sandwich filling or serve with raw vegetables and oatcakes/crackers.


Quorn and Vegetable Stir Fry


My veggie stir fry recipe to celebrate Chinese New Year! I have used Quorn to add protein but you could substitute tofu or cashew nuts and of course you can use different vegetables if you prefer.


  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 200g brussels sprouts, shredded
  • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
  • 1 yellow pepper, thinly sliced
  • 150g sugar snap peas
  • 150g baby button mushrooms                              
  • 400g cooked noodles
  • 200g quorn pieces, defrosted
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds

For the sauce:

  • 5 tablespoons hot vegetable stock (I made this by adding Marigold Boullion Powder to boiling water)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • pinch ground ginger
  • pinch Chinese 5-spice
  • pinch sugar

Heat a tablespoon of the oil in a large wok and stirfry the quorn until cooked through and browned. (about 5 - 8 mins) Remove from pan and keep warm. Add the rest of the oil to the pan and stirfry the vegetables for 5 - 10 mins, depending on how crunchy you like them to be. Meanwhile, combine the sauce ingredients. Add the quorn and cooked noodles to the pan, then pour over the sauce and stir for a minute until everything is well mixed and heated through. Serve sprinkled with sesame seeds.




Pasta with green vegetables.

Pasta is a great standby for a quick family supper when you are tired and hungry. This was our throw-together pasta dish after spending an evening painting the dining room! Chilled white wine and garlic bread completed the meal beautifully.


  • 400g pasta
  • 1 head broccoli, broken into florets
  • 150g frozen peas, defrosted
  • 2 leeks, sliced
  • 200ml low-fat creme fraiche
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • handful chopped parsley
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan to serve
  • Cook the pasta in boiling water as directed on packet. Meanwhile, cook the broccoli in boiling water for 2 - 3 minutes then drain and rinse in cold water. Saute the leeks in the oil for 2 minutes then add the broccoli and peas. Cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in the creme fraiche, paprika, parsely and season to taste. Drain the pasta and mix with the sauce. Serve sprinkled with grated parmesan.





Broad Bean and Feta Salad

Had a lovely Friday evening with my daughter Rose in the kitchen. Music on, wine flowing, we set about making tapas from ingredients we found in the fridge - probably not very authentic but all very tasty! We put together this tangy salad using leftover feta and broad beans from the freezer.


  • 300g frozen broad beans
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 50g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard

Cook the beans and put in a colander under a cold tap to cool. Drain and put in a serving bowl with tomatoes, red onion and feta. For the dressing mix together olive oil, lime juice and wholegrain mustard and pour over salad.



Cauliflower Rosti Pie

After a family get-together this weekend to celebrate my sister-in-law's birthday, I have resolved to make time to have family and friends over more often. It is easy to get caught up in work and everyday routines and rely on quick texts and internet messages to keep in touch. When I was a child, our whole family gathered at my Grandma's each Saturday afternoon where she would produce a huge array of home cooked food. It was an open house and we would take our friends along and the neighbours would come in and one week even the Provy man found himself sitting down to tea when he came to collect his money. Don't think I'll go that far though.

Apparently, the good old cauliflower is going out of fashion. Over the last ten years sales have declined as cauli has been labelled as 'untrendy' compared to vegetables such as broccoli and as having the 'unappetising look of a dalek's brain'. Cauli is one of my favourite vegetables and as a gesture from saving it from becoming an endangered species here is my recipe for a cross between cauliflower cheese and potato rosti.


For the base:

  • 500g potatoes, grated
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 onion, grated
  • 1 egg, beaten

For the filling:

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and chopped
  • 1 cauliflower, broken into florets
  • half teaspoon dried basil
  • 100g mature cheddar, grated
  • 50ml milk
  • 1 egg beaten
  • salt and pepper

For the base, put the grated potatoes into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 5 mins then rinse well under a cold tap and squeeze dry. Put into a mixing bowl and add grated onion and beaten egg. Mix well. Season and press into a buttered 23cm quiche dish. Bake at 190C/Gas5 for about 20 mins or until cooked and beginning to crisp.

Meanwhile, for the filling, cook onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft. Add cauliflower florets and basil. Cook for ten mins.

Sprinkle half of the cheese into the potato case then add the cauliflower. Mix together milk and beaten egg and pour over the cauliflower. Sprinkle with the rest of the cheese and bake until set. (about 12 - 15 mins)




Cereal bars with linseed

My Dad's anniversary this week so went for my annual walk by the river at Warkworth where he loved to canoe and where his ashes are scattered. I always find winter walks invigorating, especially in my beautiful home county of Northumberland. There is something very evocative about the starkness of nature as it waits for spring. It is true that time heals - no tears this year, I returned feeling uplifted and grateful that I had such a lovely Dad.







After over-indulging during the holidays, my 'healthy' shopping basket this week included Harvest Morn Linseed with Sesame, Blueberries and Raspberries. (Aldi 1.99/225g). I used them to make these cereal bars ready for the back-to-school lunch boxes.


  • 50g butter or spread
  • 150g mixed seeds (sunflower and pumpkin)
  • 100g porridge oats
  • 50g linseed mix
  • 50g dried apricots, chopped
  • half teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • 3 tablespoons honey, maple syrup or golden syrup

Melt the butter in a large pan. Add the seeds, porridge oats, linseed mix, apricots, cinnamon, bananas and honey or syrup.Mix well, press into a non-stick tin and bake at 200C/Gas 6 until golden on the top. (about 15 - 20mins). Leave to cool before cutting into squares.


Happy New Year!

Welcome to my new website! Thank you to everyone who has read 'The Nut Shop' - I would love to read your comments about it on my Guest Book page. If you haven't read the book, it is available at Amazon  where you can also leave a review. Wishing you all health, love and happiness for 2014 x


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