I've been cooking on my tiny little barbecue in my tiny little back yard while I wait to move house. All my belongings are in storage. I have one frying pan, a handful of cooking tools and the smallest fridge you have ever seen, with a bloody stupid shelf at the bottom, where all the salad stuff is stored underneath meaning I have to move everything, everyday to get at a friggin' leaf of lettuce. I realise how spoilt I've been in the past in my beautiful kitchen BUT it hasn't stopped me! My local farm shop butchery has been providing me with the best ever flank steak and at about £7 a slab it's an economical steak meal for the three of us here in lockdown. So I've been making fajita's because my friend Nic Miller (follow her on Twitter @nicmillerstale or Insta @millerstale) shared her recipe for wheat tortillas and I wanted to make them. Mine came out square, I'm blaming the lack of a rolling pin. You'll find the recipe and instruction for my fajita seasoned flank steak here. Flank steak is often seen on a menu described as a bavette steak. This is not the cut to use if you don't 'do' rare. The flank has long muscle fibres and can be tough if overcooked, it's also very lean and best sliced thinly across the grain for optimum tenderness. Cook it on a very high heat for 2 or 3 minutes a side and then cover with foil and rest for 10 mins. I generally put mine in the oven after it has been turned off, so no heat, just warm surroundings. Slice and serve rolled in the tortilla with fried onions, peppers, tomato salsa, guacomole, grated cheese, sour cream and slobber your way through.
- Two lovely pieces of flank
- Seasoned and herbed up
- Freeze in bags for later
- Cook over a very high heat and only for a couple of minutes a side
- Slice across the grain once it has rested
- Add your own salsa, avocado and cheese
- they call me square
It's going to be hot this weekend so prepare for some al fresco fire cooking. Make yourselves a jar of dry rub ready for your beef. Spice blends, or dry rubs are rubbed into meat before cooking. Some say that salt should not be included in a rub as meat should be dry brined by rubbing in salt a day in advance, in order for the salt to penetrate the meat. The spices in a rub do not tend to penetrate the meat but will help form the delicious spicy crust (or bark). However as we are all so short of time in our busy lives, I make an all in one rub, mixing the salt into the rub and leaving it on the meat overnight in the fridge. Sugar is a matter of taste and needed to help caramelise the crust. I use just a little on beef. Experiment with your own spice blends and store in an airtight jar. Use on a whole joint of rib eye or sirloin for a real treat.
- Cooked on a high heat over the fire creates a good bark but still pink in the middle
- I had a joint of very lean sirloin which I rubbed and left for 24hrs
- Making the rub in a mini blender is easy
Fried aubergine ready for a Caponata salad as Lidl had aubergines for 49p each. Caponata originates from Sicily. Sicilians all have their own version of this slightly salt, piquant aubergine dish, with many variations depending on what vegetables are available. Fennel is very good in place of the celery. Serve hot or cold, but never straight from the fridge.
Here's a recipe for for our deliciously creamy ranch dip which is the perfect accompaniment to our southern fried chicken or for spooning onto a barbecued beef steak. It's good to serve as a dip with celery sticks, carrot batons and cucumber too. It's quick and easy to make and doesn't require exact measurements if you're in a hurry. Use any soft and creamy blue cheese for the dip with a more crumbly cheese to fold in for texture. You can thin it with a little milk if you fancy using it to dress a salad.
- Add all the ingredients except for the crumbly cheese into a bowl
- until as smooth as you fancy
- crumble more cheese in and leave chunky or blitz a little more
Treacle, Ginger and Orange Bundt Cake
200g/7oz dark muscovado sugar
175g/6oz black treacle
2 tbs ginger syrup from the jar of stem ginger
2 large eggs (beaten)
330g/12oz plain flour
1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tsp ground ginger
75g/2½ oz stem ginger (chopped)
zest of 1 orange
4tbs orange curd
for the icing
zest of 1 orange
4tbs orange juice
140g/5oz icing sugar
Preheat the oven to 160C/140C/Gas 3
Grease a 10” round Bundt tin and dust a little flour in to ensure a non stick finish.
Place the butter, sugar, treacle and ginger syrup in a saucepan and melt together over a very low heat, until the sugar has dissolved. Leave to cool.
Whisk the milk and the eggs together.
Weigh out the flour and add the bicarbonate of soda, ground ginger, stem ginger and orange zest.
Whisk the milk and eggs into the cooled butter, treacle and sugar mix, stirring well.
Now add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, a little at a time, mixing to a smooth batter.
Pour into the cake tine and bake for 45 mins, until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
Leave to cool a little in the tin then turn out onto a wire rack.
Slice the cooled cake into three layers and spread the orange curd between the layers and sandwich back again.
In a small bowl mix the orange zest and orange juice and heat in the microwave to warm.
Stir in the icing sugar (you may need to add more icing sugar or more orange juice) to get the right drizzling consistency.
Drizzle over the cake and decorate with stem ginger or crushed sugar crystals.
This rice pudding is a little healthier and lower in fat than our other full cream recipe. You bake it in the oven - it takes minutes to prepare and two hours to cook. Well worth the wait.
- 100g short grain/ pudding rice
- 50g caster sugar
- 700ml semi-skimmed milk
- freshly grated nutmeg
- (1 bay leaf, or strip lemon zest for a different flavour)
- Heat oven to 130C/Gas 2.
Butter an 850ml heatproof ovenproof dish.
Pour the rice and sugar into the dish and stir in the milk.
Sprinkle the freshly grated nutmeg over and top.
(Add lemon zest or bay leaf into the milk if using)
Cook for 2 hrs or until the pudding has a brown skin and the rice is slightly wobbly.
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Delicious Indian snacks which are vegan/vegetarian and gluten free.
6 tbs cold water
- large pinch ground cumin
- large pinch of ground coriander
- 1 small onion finely sliced
- 4 handfuls of spinach leaves roughly chopped
- 1 handful fresh coriander chopped (optional)
- 1 tsp chopped green chilli ( optional)
- good pinch salt
- vegetable oil for frying
- Prepare all of the vegetables. Substitute any vegetables that you don't have with an alternative of your choice. Just about all types of vegetable work.
- Starting at the top of the list of ingredients add all to a large mixing bowl, everything except the oil which is required for frying.
- Mix very well making sure that the vegetables are all coated with a thin layer of batter.
Heat oil in a wok or use a deep fat fryer and drop spoonfools of the vegetables (coated in batter)into the hot oil.
- Cook until browned and the pakora holds its' shape.
- Turn to cook the other side.
- Remove from the oil and drain on kitchen paper.
A perfect way to use up all those leftover pieces of cheese in your fridge. All types of cheese can be used. It will keep for a week in the fridge and is a good vegetarian recipe.
225g grated cheese ( chop up cheeses that are hard to grate i.e Brie/Camembert
170g (small tin) evaporated milk
1 very small onion or 3 spring onions finely diced
1 tsp chopped chives
pinch of mustard powder
a little oil or butter for fying the onion
Heat a small knob of butter or splash of oil in a saucepan and soften the chopped onion
Pour in the evaporated milk
Add the grated cheese, mustard powder and a little ground pepper
Stir well until the cheese has melted
Stir in the chopped chives
Pour into ramekins and leave to set in the fridge
Eat spread on toast or with a baked potato
A favourite Winter soup which is vegetarian. Serves 6 - 8 people
- 1kg g (2 lb) Jerusalem Artichokes
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 450 g (1 lb) carrots ( peeled and sliced)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 75 g (3 oz) butter
- 1.5 L (3 pints) vegetable stock
- salt and freshly ground pepper
Peel and slice artichokes then put them into a bowl of cold water to prevent them from discolouring. ( add a slice of lemon)
Melt the butter in a cooking pot and soften the onion, celery, carrots and artichokes.
Put the lid on the pan and let the vegetables sweat for 5 minutes on a low heat.
Stir from time to time.
Pour in the stock, stir well, put the lid back on and simmer for a further 20 minutes or until the vegetables are soft. Liquidise the soup and season to taste.
A quick and easy crab recipe which serves eight as a starter, or four as a large main course.
2 dressed crabs ( I use brown and white meat, some prefer just the white meat)
10 tbsp very good olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp finely chopped fresh red chilli
75ml dry white wine
3 tbsp chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp chopped basil
Juice and grated zest of ½ lemon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the linguine for 9-11 minutes, or according to packet instructions, until al dente.
Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large, deep frying pan and add the garlic and chilli.
Fry lightly without colouring for about one minute.
Stir in the crabmeat and heat through for another minute.
Add the wine to the pan and let it bubble and reduce a little.
Drain the linguine and add to the crab mixture.
Stir in the parsley and basil and toss everything together to coat evenly.
Finish with the lemon juice and grated zest.
Season to taste and serve immediately
Allow three hours to include rising time. Makes 16 buns.
1.5 tsp dried yeast
5 fl oz warm milk
1 oz caster sugar
12 oz strong white flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp ground or grated cinnamon
1 tsp ground or grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
3 oz currants or mixed fruit – chopped a bit finer
Grated zest of one lemon
2 oz butter, diced
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp flour and 1 tsp water mixed to form a paste - for the cross
1 tbsp brown sugar and 1 tsp boiling water mixed - to glaze
Stir together the warmed milk, the sugar and yeast in a small jug or bowl.
Warm a large metal bowl gently for a few minutes on a low heat or in the oven, then put in the flour. Mix in the other dry ingredients – the spices, fruit, salt and lemon zest and rub in the butter.
Create a well in the flour and add the milk mixture, then the beaten egg. Mix the ingredients until well incorporated. Knead for ten minutes until a good smooth dough is formed. Cover with greased cling film or a clean damp cloth and leave until double in size (usually about two hours depending on room temperature)
When risen knock back the dough and knead for a further two minutes. Cut into sixteen equal pieces and roll into bun shapes. Put on baking parchment on a metal baking sheet a few cm apart and cut a cross into the top with a sharp knife. Leave covered to double in size.
Preheat oven to 375/190 Gas Mark 5. Just before cooking dribble the flour and water paste across the cut. Cook in centre of oven for 15 – 20 minutes until the buns are golden brown. Remove from oven and glaze immediately with the sugar water glaze.
Granola - a toasted muesli, nice with fresh fruit and yoghurt for a vegetarian breakfast, this is a very adaptable recipe using any grains, seeds and nuts that you fancy.
- 12 oz / 300g rolled oats, wheat flakes, rolled barley or any other rolled grains
- 4oz / 100g chopped hazelnuts, pecans, almonds or any other nuts
- 2oz/50g pumpkin, flax, sunflower seeds or seeds of your choice
- 2oz/50g desiccated coconut
- 4 fl oz Hill Farm rapeseed oil or sunflower oil
- 4 fl oz Suffolk honey
- 6oz/150g raisins or sultanas
Preheat the oven to 130c/Gas 2 ( a cool setting)
Place the rolled oats in a bowl and mix in the nuts, seeds and coconut. ( not the raisins yet!) Stir well.
Warm the honey and oil together in a small pan and pour onto the dry mixture.
Coat all the nuts, oats, seeds etc in the honey and oil.
Spread the mixture onto a baking tin and place in the oven for 40 mins. You will need to move the granola around a little from time to time to ensure that it crisps all over.
Remove from the oven and mix in the raisins. Leave to cool and store in an airtight container. where it will keep for several weeks.
Vanilla, Orange and Mascarpone Cheesecake
Makes a 7in/18cm cheesecake to serve 8
For the base
- 50g/2oz butter
- 175g/7oz digestive biscuits
- Half a tablespoon honey
Melt the butter and honey over a very low heat.
Crush the digestive biscuits and stir into the melted butter until well mixed.
Press the rubble-like mixture in a loose bottomed 7in/18cm tin and place in the fridge to chill.
For the cheesecake topping
- 200g/8oz cream cheese
- 200g/8oz mascarpone
- 75g/3oz caster sugar
- Rind and juice of 1 orange
- 200ml/8floz double cream ( whipped into soft peaks)
- 1 vanilla pod or a drop of vanilla essence
Beat the cream cheese, mascarpone, sugar, orange rind and juice together in a bowl.
Fold in the whipped cream and the seeds scraped from the vanilla pod. Mix well.
Spread the cheesecake mixture onto the biscuit base and chill.
Serve with the Roasted Rhubarb and Orange compote.
This recipe can be easily adapted - if you add lime or lemon to the mixture instead of orange, and it can be served in summer with a raspberry coulis.
Roasted rhubarb and orange compote
- 700g/1.5lb rhubarb
- 150g/5oz caster sugar
- Juice and zest of one orange
Wash and chop the rhubarb into 2in/5cm lengths and place in an ovenproof dish with the sugar, orange zest and juice.
Bake in a preheated oven 375F/190C Gas 5 for about 25 minutes or until soft. Stir gently to release the juices, trying not to lose the shape of the rhubarb. Cool and serve.
(Italian Spinach and Ricotta stuffed, vegetarian pancakes)
Make up a batch of pancakes, either plain or Buckwheat, using the pancake batter recipe
For the filling:
- 500g/1lb ( raw weight) of spinach leaves
- 500g/ 1lb Ricotta cheese
- Salt and pepper to taste
Steam the spinach until tender (microwaving in a cling filmed container works very well for spinach, don’t add water)
Drain any excess liquid from the spinach and add the Ricotta cheese, salt and pepper to taste, mix well.
Divide the mixture between the cooked pancakes and roll up. Place the pancakes in a single layer in an ovenproof dish.
For the Béchamel sauce
- 600ml/1.5 pints milk
- 1 onion
- 1 bay leaf
- 2 cloves
- 6 black peppercorns
- 50g/2oz butter
- 50g/2oz plain flour
- Pinch grated nutmeg (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 100g/4oz Parmesan Cheese
(for those of you in a real hurry, forget the onion, cloves, bay leaf and peppercorns and just go ahead making the sauce with the butter, flour and milk)
Impale the onion with the cloves and place in a saucepan with the bay leaves, peppercorns and milk.
Bring to a simmer and then leave to stand
Melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour, cook over a low heat for a couple of minutes
Strain the milk into the flour and butter and stir well (a whisk is best to avoid lumps)
Cook for a few minutes and add the grated nutmeg if using.
Pour the sauce over the pancakes and sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese.
Bake in a preheated oven 190C/380C Gas 4 for 30 – 40 minutes, or microwave, and grill the top.