Turkey fajitas

I’ve been cooking with turkey for sometime now (this white chilli is a regular dish in our house). It’s too healthy a meat to be reserved just for Christmas. Not only is it low in fat but it contains many essential vitamins and minerals too (for more details on the nutritional benefits of turkey visit the British turkey website). Below is my entry in to their competition to create an all year round recipe using turkey and pappadew peppers.

I’ve cooked this recipe a number of times now. Not only is it delicious but it is also on the table in less than 30 minutes. Fajitas are also a really fun dish to share with friends. Simply put the turkey mixture in the centre of the table along with a plate of warm wraps, a pot of the yogurt mixture and a bowl of grated cheese and let everyone make their own fajitas. Continue reading



By now you may have already hear of Farmison, the new online store that launched Nationwide this month. If not let me tell you a bit about it. Farmison.com is short for ‘farm produce is on-line’. It is a new online food store delivering the finest British produce, directly from farmers across the country, who traditionally supply our great British chefs to UK homes.  They work with over 75 of the best independent British suppliers across butchery, fruit and vegetables, and farmhouse cheese – more than 60% of which are not available anywhere else online.

Continue reading

Peach, feta, proscuitto and rocket salad

We’ve enjoyed a gloriously hot and sunny weekend here, it made a very nice change. Yesterday after coming back from our local market with lots of seasonal fruit and veg at it’s best, we enjoyed a salad in the garden for lunch. Now any close friends and family of mine will be thinking “did she really just say salad and enjoy in the same sentence?” I’m not really a salad eater, I want to be but I just find them bland and boring. This salad was different. Every mouthful was different yet equally delicious. There is sweet (peaches), salty (feta and proscuitto), peppery flavour (from the rocket) and all topped off with the acidic tang of balsamic vinegar. This salad was inspired by a recipe on a food blog I follow (Gourmet chick) for proscuitto and squashed peach salad. I used standard peaches, added feta (as I had some that needed using in the fridge) and my dressing was simply a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Peach, feta, proscuitto and rocket salad
serves 2

1 bag of rocket
2 ripe peaches
50g feta
2 slices of proscuitto
Balsamic vinegar

  • Heat a griddle pan over a high heat.
  • Cut the peaches in to wedges. Put the peach wedges in a small bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil, a pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
  • Griddle the peach pieces until slightly charred (minute or so each side was all I needed).
  • Remove from the griddle pan and let the peaches cool slightly whilst you put together the rest of the salad.
  • Put the rocket in a bowl. Crumble over the feta. Tear the procuitto into small strips and add to the salad.
  • Add the peaches and finally drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

I’m linking this up to July’s Simple and in Season blogging event at Fabulicious Food!

Ham hock in cider recipe

We had a rare, weekend with no plans last week. The weather on saturday was gorgeous, so after a lazy start to the morning we took a walk in to town. We came home with a ham hock from the butchers and a dressed crab from the fishmongers along with a few bits of veg. Saturday evening I used the crab to make a crab linguine and set about preparing the ham hock for sunday lunch. I found a delicious sounding recipe using ham hocks in Nigella’s latest book Kitchen, in which she devotes 11 pages to it. There is the base recipe for ham hock in cider, a recipe for leeks in white sauce to serve along side it and lots of information and recipe ideas for the leftovers. These include using the stock to make a cidery pea soup, using any leftover ham and leeks to make pies or pasties and a ham hock and soya bean (or broad bean) salad. I love the fact that she has a whole chapter on cooking meat on the bone (and mostly the cheaper cuts) where the emphasis is on effortless, slow cooking and really making the most of the meat you buy.This recipe is a perfect example, the ham needs soaking overnight and then all the ingredients are combined and cooked on the hob for 2 hours whilst you’re free to read the sunday paper (or recipe books if you’re anything like me).

The ham hock we bought cost only £2.30 and produced easily enough meat for the two of us for sunday lunch. I served it with a leek and potato mash and some carrots. We both enjoyed our somewhat frugal sunday lunch. The meat was tender, falling easily off the bone and had bags of flavour.

The stock left over from cooking the ham was put to good use following Nigella’s recipe for cidery pea soup producing 4 good-sized portions. The soup is too simple to even require a true recipe. Sunday afternoon, once the stock was cooled, I strained the stock in to a large container and left it in the fridge overnight. The following lunch time I removed the stock from the fridge (to satisfyingly find a jellified stock), scraped the fatty layer off the top and heated the remaining stock on the hob. Added a 900g pack of frozen peas and boiled until the peas were cooked (approximately 5 minutes). I then blitzed the soup, seasoned to taste and served. Nigella also adds the juice of a lime but since we didn’t have one in I didn’t bother. The soup was full of flavour, with subtle hints of ham & cider coming through, not sure how we’ll go back to this pea soup made with vegetable of chicken stock cubes!

Ham hocks in cider
Serves 6 (we only used 1 ham hock and I halved all the other ingredients and it comfortably served 2)

2 ham hocks (just over 1.5kg each – didn’t weigh mine so I can’t tell you how this compared to Nigella’s recommendation)
1 litre dry cider
2 sticks celery, halved
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 2 or 3
4 small onions, halved, skin left on
stalks from fat bunch flat-leaf parsley
1 x 15ml tbsp black peppercorns
1 x 15ml tbsp fennel seeds
3 cloves
1 x 15ml tbsp dark muscovado sugar

  • Soak the hocks overnight in cold water in a cool place, to de-salt them. Alternatively just under an hour before you plan to cook them, put the hocks in a pan, cover with cold water, bring to the boil, drain and then proceed normally with the next step.
  • Drain and rinse the hocks, then put them in to a pan with all the other ingredients, add cold water to cover the hocks, and bring to the boil.
  • Simmer the hocks for about 2 hours, partially covered with a lid, by which time the meat should be tender and coming away from the bone. Take the hocks out of the stock and let them cool a little on a carving board before you slice or chunk up the meat, discarding fat, skin, cartilage and bones. Leave the stock to cool in the pan while you eat.

First catch your pig – Book review

You might remember The Milestone as winning the British round of Gordon Ramsay’s best restaurant 2010. The Milestone is a gastropub based in Sheffield who last year won Yorkshire pub of the year (White Rose Awards 2010) and were runners-up in The Observer food monthly 2010 awards in the best sunday lunch category. They are passionate about food and in sourcing good quality food locally where ever possible and if they can make it themselves instead of buying it they will. They even rear their own rare breed of pigs and accept local produce from local allotment keepers in exchange for bar tabs. When I was contacted and offered the chance to review their first cookbook I jumped at the chance. Firstly because I’m originally from Yorkshire and secondly because of their passion for using local ingredients and making everything they can themselves (bread, pasta, ice cream, chutney etc).

The book is first catch your pig, a phrase borrowed from Mrs Beeston. First impressions of the book were good and their passion food, locally sourced, seasonal and of good quality is evident throughout. They believe in nose to tail eating so not ever recipe will appeal to everyone (there are recipes using pigs trotters, sweetbreads, pigs head and ox tongue). Perhaps not the cookbook for vegetarians but even for those meat eaters that don’t want to cook pigs head etc there are still lots of delicious sounding dishes to try. Double eggs Benedict (with a recipe for homemade muffins),  mackerel cooked in a bag with aromatics, The Milestones ploughman and Yorkshire pudding, braised shin beef and root vegetable to name just a few. The deserts section is full of stunning looking and delicious sounding desserts which I can’t imagine would fail to impress.

The book is full of stunning photos of not only all the recipes but also the pub/kitchen and their herd of pigs. The recipes are well laid out each over two pages, with clear, detailed directions and mouth watering images of the final dish. The dishes are presented on the plate impressively through out, as you would expect them to look in a gastropub. My first thought was that this cookbook was perhaps not the book for everyday cooking, perhaps more suited for cooking to impress such as dinner parties or special occasions. However once I read the recipes it was clear that many of the recipes are very straight forward to cook. In addition, the chef’s enthusiasm and passion for food is infectious and can’t fail to inspire you. After reading the book, I would certainly like to visit the pub if I’m ever near Sheffield and the website talks of a cookery school which I imagine would be very inspiring.

First catch your pig is out now. You can see sample pages from the book and order your copy on their website.

Thank you to The Milestone for sending me a copy for this review.

Davidstow Cheddar cheese – cheese bisuits

Appologies for another review so soon but I promise this one includes a delicious recipe for you all to try at home. The recipe is for classic cheddar cheese biscuits created by a Michelin starred Cornish chef, Nathan Outlaw. The biscuits are delicious, flaky and packed with the flavour of strong cheddar cheese. The recipe is designed to show off the flavours of Davidstow Cornish cheddar which I was sent samples of to try.

Davidstow have been making cheddar for sixty years in Cornwall. They have two cheddars for sale Cornish classic (mature, aged for 14 months) and Cornish crackler (extra mature, aged for 20 months). We started by trying both the cheeses straight from the packet. Both cheeses had a delicious flavour, perfect for a cheese sandwich or cheese on toast. Then it was on to the cooking/baking with cheddar. I chose the recipe for classic cheddar biscuits but I was also tempted by the recipe for classic cheddar, red onion and basil brioche rolls.

If this review has inspired you to try more recipes using cheddar created by Nathan Outlaw head over to Davidstows website and find more recipes here.

Classic cheddar cheese biscuits
Makes 25-30 biscuits

300g Davidstow Classic cheddar cheese, grated (I actually used the extra mature Cornish crackle as we like our cheddar strong)
200g Unsalted butter, diced
200g Plain flour
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 free range egg yolks

  • Put the grated cheese, butter, flour, cayenne pepper and salt in a food mixer and blend to a crumb.  (I halved the recipe and used a food processor).
  • Add the egg yolks and mix until the mixture comes together in a ball then wrap in cling film and rest in the fridge for 2 hours.
  • Preheat the oven to Gas Mark 4, 180C (350F). Lightly grease 2-3 baking sheets with butter and line with non-stick baking paper.
  • Place the dough on a floured work surface and roll out to 5mm thick and cut into 7 cm rounds (or any shape you like if you’re like me). Place them spaced a little apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  • Re-knead and roll the trimmings once or twice to make more biscuits.
  • Chill for 30 minutes then bake the biscuits for about 15-20 mins until slightly golden.
  • Remove and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
  • Serve immediately or keep for up to 3 days in a plastic tub with a tight fitting lid.

Yorkshire sculpture park restaurant

I can’t believe it’s a week tomorrow that I sat my final exam, marking the end of two years of studying. I’ve done so much in the last six days. I’ve walked on the beach, cooked, visited family, read (for pleasure), eaten out and taken lots of photos. I’m loving all the free time I have now, even though I’ve been back at work for the last two days. One of the things I’ve decided I want to do now I have more time (as well as get back in the kitchen and of course back to regular blogging) is to improve my photography. We got our canon EOS 400D last december and I still have no idea how to use it other than the basic automatic modes. I’ve got a couple of books to read, bookmarked a few online tutorials/websites and dug out the manual but the main thing I plan to do is practice. So with this in mind I have challenged myself to take a photo every day for the next year (a project 365). You can follow my progress here.

Day 1 of 365 photo

The day after the exam we were staying with my family in Yorkshire and  spent the day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park. Every summer when I was growing up we would visit YSP and it is still somewhere I love to visit. This was my first trip back since I moved to Cheshire 3 years ago and we had a great day. It was day 1 of my 365 and what a place to take photos, so inspiring. Anyway since this is a food blog I’ll move on to the food.

So often when you eat out in tourist spots the food is a disappointment and an over priced disappointment at that. For this reason when I come across anywhere where this isn’t the case I like to tell you all about it. The restaurant at YSP is one such place. The restaurant is on the top floor of the visitors center (a stunning modern building in its own right) and has a balcony area with stunning views over the park. The food is freshly prepared, using locally sourced produce. We both had the hot baguette with roast pork loin, crackling, warm apple source, gravy and homemade chips (£5.95). The portions were generous, the pork and homemade chips delicious and the gravy had so much flavour. There were also a good selection of cold sandwiches available as well as some hot dishes and a variety of homemade cakes and pastries. Hopefully it won’t be another three years before we visit the park again and we’ll definitely be going back to the restaurant.

Left over roast lamb shepherd’s pie

So life got in the way again and this recipe is later than planned. It’s worth the wait though, as it is a delicious use for left over roast lamb. I’ve made shepherd’s pie a number of times before but always with minced lamb. This recipe uses left over roast lamb (in my case it was slow roast shoulder of lamb but roast leg would work equally well) and was a delicious alternative.

Shepherd’s pie
Serves 2

1 tbsp oil
1 onions, finely chopped
2 carrots, chopped into discs around 1cm thick,
Leftover roast lamb, chopped in to bite size pieces
1 tbsp plain flour
Handful of frozen peas
200ml lamb stock
1 tsp tomato puree
Good splash of Worcestershire sauce
Mashed potato to top (For two I use two good-sized baking potatoes and prepared in the usual way)
Salt and pepper

  • Pre heat the oven to 200C (180 fan).
  • Heat the oil in a large frying pan. Once hot add the onions and carrots and saute until the onions are soft and the carrots have softened.
  • Add the lamb and cook for a few minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir through.
  • Add the stock, peas, tomato e, Worcestershire sauce and seasoning. Allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Add a little more water if the mixture is too dry or flour if the gravy needs thickening. Taste for seasoning and adjust as desired.
  • Transfer the mixture in to an oven proof dish and spread the mash potato on top. Scratch the surface of the potato with a fork.
  • Bake until the potato is browned and the gravy is bubbling round the edges (around 30 minutes).

Homemade baked beans recipe

A couple of weeks back I got a phone call from my boyfriend whilst he was at work. Nothing unusual there you might think but he was ringing to tell me he had bought half a lamb from a work colleague and could I find room in the freezer for it. His colleagues brother has his own farm only 30 minutes from where we live and was selling half lambs and with the memory of the Lancashire hotpot still fresh in his mind my boyfriend jumped at the chance. You can’t get much more local!

Now we don’t have a chest freezer or anything like that, just your average tall fridge/freezer, so creating room for a half a lamb would be no easy task. We decided the best thing would be to split it with his parents, leaving us each with a quarter of a lamb. I set about sorting through our well packed, mostly unlabelled freezer (I know, I know I should label things but only one mystery item was unearthed). I managed to empty one and a half drawers and luckily it all fitted in one draw in the end. The only problem we had when the meat arrived was that none of it was labelled with the cut! Thankfully my boyfriends mum was able to identify it all and we labelled it all up and split the lamb between us. So expect plenty of lamb recipes over the coming months.

First up I decided to slow roast the shoulder of lamb over the Easter weekend. During the week leading up to Easter I saw an episode of Market kitchen where they cooked Sheppard’s pie with homemade baked beans. The baked beans looked really easy to make and from the comments the dinners were making they sounded delicious. I’ve been meaning to make my own bake beans for some time but never quiet got round to it and on top of that I had an unopened bottle of pomegranate molasses waiting to be put to good use. The recipe was easy, the beans were delicious (perhaps a little too sweet for my liking so will tweak the recipe a little next time) and worked perfectly with the slow roast lamb and crusty baguettes still warm from the oven. If you thought there was no point making baked beans think again! these have a million times more flavour than any you can find in a tin.

Homemade baked beans
serves 4

100g lardons bacon
2 shallots, chopped
150ml tomato ketchup
100ml beer
50ml pomegranate molasses
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 x 400g cans haricot beans, drained and rinsed

  • Fry the bacon and shallots in a large pan over a medium heat for 3-4 minutes, or until golden-brown.
  • Add all of the remaining baked bean ingredients and bring to a simmer.
  • Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and bake for 1 hour, or until the mixture is thickened.

Lancashire hotpot recipe

I’ve been full of cold and generally feeling under the weather for the past week or so (hence the lack of posts on either of my blogs). I haven’t felt up to cooking much but once I started to feel better this weekend I have been planning what to cook and craving good homely comfort food. This dish fitted the bill perfectly. Lancashire hotpot is a traditional British dish which is essentially a lamb stew topped with sliced potatoes on top. Its simple to prepare and the flavours are delicious. But not the easiest dish to make look pretty!

Lancashire hotpot

Serves 4
1-2tbsp olive oil
500g Lamb neck fillet, diced
4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 1cm thick discs
1 onion, diced
1tbsp plain flour
250ml lamb stock
1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1tbsp dried thyme (or a couple of sprigs of fresh thyme)
2 bay leaves
4 baking potatoes, peeled and cut into thin slices
few small cubes of butter (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 170C.
  • Heat the olive oil in a cast iron casserole dish over a medium heat.
  • Add the lamb and carrots. Stir occasionally until the meat has browned and the carrots softened slightly. Set aside on a plate.
  • Sweat the onion in the meat juices (add more oil if necessary) for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the flour and stir well.
  • Add the stock, Worcestershire sauce, thyme and bay leaves and stir until the flour mixes into the gravy.
  • Make a layer of potatoes under the gravy (place in the gravy and use your wooden spoon to push them under the surface. Add the meat and carrots back to the gravy.
  • Arrange the remaining potatoes over the top. Add some small butter cubes around the top.
  • Put the lid on and cook in the oven for 1 hour with the lid on and 20-30 minutes at the end without the lid until the potatoes are golden.