Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Day 41

Turnip 'Risotto' (Serves 4 as main course)

I've often thought that the turnip gets a bit a raw deal. This dish comes from Simple Italian Cooking by Mario Batali and turns this neglected vegetable into the star of the show.


500ml vegetable stock

90ml olive oil

1 medium red onion (finely diced)

700g turnips (peeled and diced into 4-5mm pieces)

30g unsalted butter

20g Parmesan (grated)

Small handful of parsley leaves



1. Heat the stock to a simmer and keep hot. Warm the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed frying pan. Toss in the onion and heat for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the turnips and cook for 2 minutes.

3. Ladle in some of the stock and cook until absorbed, stirring occasionally. Continue until the stock added (about 10-15 minutes).

4. Season with salt and pepper. Stir in the butter and Parmesan. 

5. Remove from heat, scatter with chopped parsley leaves and serve.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Day 40

 Huevos Rancheros

I do like the occasional cooked breakfast, especially if I feel I need a bit of a kick to get me going. This is a delicious Mexican dish that can be eaten at any time. It's just that I've had it for breakfast and it was lovely.


1 tbsp olive oil

1 onion (chopped)

1 green pepper (deseeded and sliced)

1 garlic clove (sliced)

½ tsp crushed chilli flakes

2 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes

salt and black pepper

6 eggs

100g feta cheese or Greek-style cheese (crumbled)


1. Heat a wide, heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the olive oil and, once hot, gently fry the onion with a pinch of salt until softened and translucent. Add the green pepper, cover with a lid and gently fry for further five minutes, or until soft.

2. Once the pepper is softened, add the garlic. Cook for two minutes, then sprinkle in the chilli flakes and add the chopped tomatoes. Season with a little salt and pepper and cook over a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes, or until the sauce is rich and flavoursome. Taste and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

3. Make six wells in the tomato mixture and break an egg into each. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 3-4 minutes, or until the whites are set (cook for a further 2-3 minutes if you like your yolks set).

4. Sprinkle with cheese and serve. 

This dish goes well with flatbreads like pitta bread or Naans.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Day 39

Apple, Oat and Pecan Bars (Makes 12)

I've been reading Michael Pollan's Food Rules: An Eater's Manual. At it's core are three simple rules: eat natural food, not too much and mostly plants. Outside of that there are lots of other guidelines for eating well without being too faddy or obsessive. One of them was that if you have to east snacks between meals then it's probably best to eat ones that you've made yourself. This is one of my favourites.


2 eating apples (cored, roughly chopped but not peeled)

150g butter (softened)

150g soft brown sugar

50g porridge oats

2 eggs

200g self-raising flour

50g pecans (plus 12 for topping)


1. Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease the sides of a Swiss roll tin (23 x 30cm) with butter and line the base with baking paper.

2. Place the apples in a food processor and briefly pulse until in small bits (or just cut into very small bits with a knife/herb chopper).

3. Pour apples into a bowl. Add the sugar and butter and cream together until well mixed. Add rest of the ingredients and mix well.

4. Tip the mixture into the tin and place the pecans put aside on top in an even grid.

5. Bake for 25-30 minutes until risen and golden. Remove from oven to leave to cool completely.

6. When cool, cut into 12 bars (each with a pecan on top) and remove from tin.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

Day 38

Traditional Scottish Shortbread

A few weeks ago I was flipping through the cookbooks in my local Oxfam shop when I came across this.

It was only 49p so it joined my ever-growing shelf of cookbooks. This is the first recipe I made from it.


50g caster sugar

125g unsalted butter (softened)

150g plain flour

25g fine semolina

Caster sugar for dusting


1. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale, light and fluffy.

2. Stir in the flour and semolina using a fork. 

3. Press the mixture into an 18cm sandwich tin. Smooth the surface and then prick the surface with a fork. Sprinkle with caster sugar.

4. Bake at 160C for about an hour. It should be pale but just starting to colour. 

5. Cool in the tin and then cut into 8 wedges. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Day 37

Norfolk Vinegar Cake

This is a local recipe for a simple fruit cake. There are no eggs as traditionally it was made when hens were not laying. It keeps of about a week and improves in flavour all the time.


225g butter (softened)

450g flour

225g sugar

225g raisins 

225g sultanas

250ml milk

2 tbsps wine or cider vinegar

1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda mixed with 1 tbsp of milk


1. Rub the butter and flour together so that it resembles breadcrumbs.

2. Then mix in the sugar and the fruit.

3. Put the milk in a large bowl and add the vinegar. Pour in the bicarbonate/milk mixture carefully and mix together.

4. Pour into a greased 23cm (9 inch) cake tin,

5. Bake for 30 minutes at 180C. Reduce the heat to 150C and bake for another 1 1/4 hours. Cover the top of the cake with foil if it starts to darken.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Day 36


I did a Trade School Norwich class last year on Victorian Parlour Games (It was more popular than you might think). Trade School operates on a barter system. Students pay for classes with bartered items requested by the teacher. No money changes hands. For me, this is truly part of the Sharing Economy. I asked for several things including fresh nuts, clothes for an 11 year old boy and for students' favourite recipes. This is one of them and thank you to the student who painstakingly wrote out the recipe in lovely copperplate writing and richly decorated. I love Falafels and they go really well with the Rice and Kale dish I noted down in Day 2. 


1 can of chickpeas

1 large chopped onion

2 chopped cloves of garlic

3 tbsps chopped fresh parsley

1 tsp of ground coriander

1 tsp of ground cumin

2 tbsps of flour


Oil for frying


1. Place the chickpeas in a pan with some water and bring to the boil for 5 minutes. Then simmer on a low heat for one hour.

2. Drain and cool for 15 minutes.

3. Mix the chickpeas with the garlic, onion, coriander, cumin, flour seasoning (to taste) in a medium bowl.

4. Mash the chickpeas thoroughly. The result should be a thick paste.

5. Form the mixture into small balls (about the size of ping pong balls). Slightly flatten.

6. Fry in 3-4cm of oil. Turn so that both sides are golden brown.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Day 35

Bun and Butter Pudding

We've all used slightly stale bread to make bread and butter pudding. Here's a lovely recipe that uses spare hot cross buns.


300ml pot double cream

600ml milk

4 eggs

100g golden caster sugar

1½ tsp vanilla essence

8 hot cross buns

40g soft butter

100g marzipan, cubed

3 tbsp chunky marmalade

icing sugar, for dusting


1. Heat oven to 170C (150C fan in a fan oven). Warm the cream and milk in a pan over a gentle heat. Whisk the eggs, sugar and vanilla together with a fork in a large bowl, then gradually add the warm cream mixture.

2. Halve the buns and spread with the butter. Arrange in a large shallow ovenproof dish (approx 25 x 32cm), dot with the marzipan and brush the marmalade on top.

3. Pour over the cream mixture and set aside to soak for 15 mins. Press the buns down into the custard mixture as they soften.

4. Bake for 50 mins until set, then remove and allow to stand for 10 mins. Dust lightly with icing sugar and serve while still warm.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Day 34

Carrot, Cumin and Kidney Bean Burgers (Makes 4)

I've already included one recipe I've used from 'A Girl Called Jack'. This is another one and is the recipe that kicked off her life as a food writer/blogger. Everybody in the house loves these - although my daughter does insist on smothering it in ketchup. It's tasty, easy to make, very nutritious and very cheap.


1 x 400g tin of kidney beans, 30p

1 onion (finely chopped)

1 large carrot (grated)

1 tsp ground cumin, 4p

1 tbsp vegetable oil, plus 2 tablespoons to fry the burgers

1 heaped tsp flour, plus more to shape the burgers


1. Drain the kidney beans and rinse. Put into a saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 10 minutes to soften.

2. Put the onion, carrot and cumin into a frying pan. Add the splash of oil and cook on a low heat to soften. When the kidney beans have softened, drain well and add to the frying pan. Remove from the heat and mash together until it looks smooth. Stir in the flour to stiffen.

3. Heat the remaining oil in the frying pan on a medium heat. With floured hands, take a quarter of the burger mixture and roll it into a ball. Make three more balls with the remaining mixture. Place one in the oil and flatten gently with a fork to make the burger shape. 

4. Cook for a few minutes on one side, before turning. The burgers need to be handled with care as they can be quite fragile before they’re done! When cooked and slightly crisp on both sides, remove from the pan and serve.

If you have some fresh coriander then chop some up and add at stage 2.

Monday, 23 March 2015

Day 33

Shredded Wheat Nests (Makes 12) 

In the run-up to Easter I thought I would include a couple of Easter recipes. This is a very simple one that can be made by small children (obviously with adult supervision). I made this years ago and they disappeared pretty rapidly. 

Yes, I know that Shredded Wheat is made by Nestle but supermarket own brands are just as good and that's what I used.


200g milk chocolate (broken into pieces)

85g Shredded Wheat (crushed in a plastic bag)

2 x 100g bags mini chocolate eggs


1. Melt the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of lightly simmering water. Stir until melted.

2. Tip in the crushed Shredded Wheat bits and stir to combine.

3. Spoon the mixture into 12 cupcake cases. Press in the middle with the back of a spoon to create a nest.

4. Place the chocolate eggs on top of each nest.

5. Set aside to cool.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Day 32

Date and Toffee Pudding (Serves 6)

One of the Two Fat Ladies, Clarissa Dickson Wright, was a big fan of puddings and once said that she had never met a man who said 'no' to a pudding. If it's this particular pudding then I wouldn't say no either. The calorie count must be pretty high but it is delicious.


175g dates (chopped)

125g maragarine

150g demerara sugar

1 tsp vanilla essence

1 egg

125g self-raising flour

125g wholemeal flour

1 tsp baking powder

For the toffee sauce

75g margarine

150g soft brown sugar

2 tbsps whipped cream


1. Pour 1/2 pint of water over the dates and leave to stand for about an hour.

2. Cream together the margarine and sugar, then add the egg and vanilla and beat well.

3. Add the two flours and the baking powder. This will make a rather stiff mixture.

4. Add the dates and water and mix well. It now looks like a thin batter.

5. Pour into a greased dish and bake at 180C for 45 minutes.

6. Make the sauce by melting the margarine with the sugar. Add the whipped cream, stir well and do not boil. Pour the sauce over the pudding and return to the oven for 15 minutes.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Day 31

Creamy Parsnip and Squash Bake (Serves 8)

This is an inexpensive and tasty meal. It's nice in the late autumn when parsnips and squashes are in season. I've also used as a Boxing Day meal along with leftovers from Christmas Day.


284ml pot and a 142ml pot double cream

1 small onion (finely chopped)

2 thyme sprigs, 1 stripped of leaves

500g parsnips (about 4 large)

500g butternut squash (about 1⁄2 a large one)

25g Cheddar cheese (grated)


1. Place the cream, onion or shallot and the thyme sprig into a small pan. Slowly heat to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat and leave to cool. Strain, discarding the onion and thyme. I actually retrieved the onion and put them back in at stage 3. 

2. Heat oven to 160C. Rub the bottom and sides of a gratin dish measuring about 20 x 30cm with butter. Peel the parsnips and trim the ends. Peel and scoop the seeds out of the squash. Thinly slice both of them.

3. Layer the parsnip and squash in the dish, pour over the infused cream, then scatter with the thyme leaves and cheese. 

4. Bake for 1 hour until golden and a fork slides easily into the veg.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Day 30

Welsh Cakes

We had a holiday in Wales a few years ago. Beaches, castles, mountains and museums. My daughter only really liked one of those. Anyway, when we got back home I tried a few Welsh recipes. Welsh cakes are delicious warm by themselves or with butter.


225g self raising flour

110g butter (diced)

85g caster sugar

Handful of sultanas

1 egg (beaten)

Milk, if needed


1. Rub the flour and butter together until they resemble breadcrumbs.

2. Add the sugar, sultanas and egg and mix together to form a ball of dough. If it's too dry then add a little milk.

3. Roll the dough out to a thickness of about 5mm.

4. Cut into rounds with a 7.5-10mm cutter.

5. Rub a griddle with some butter. If you don't have a griddle then a heavy-bottomed frying pan does the trick. Heat the griddle/frying pan

6. Cook the rounds a few at a time 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown.

7. Remove from the griddle/frying pan and dust with caster sugar.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Day 29

Dampers (makes 6 pieces)

I've had the pleasure of making these several times on camping trips with the Woodcraft Folk. A Damper is a simple bread wrapped around a stick and cooked over a fire. You'll need six long sticks. If you gather them from the woods then please don't cut them off trees, but make sure that the stick is not too dry. You can use a penknife to strip off the bark.


250g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

150ml of water


1. In a bowl combine the flour and baking powder with the water. Mix thoroughly.

2. Knead lightly into a ball and divide into six pieces. Roll each into a sausage about 20cm long and wrap around a stick. Make sure it's secure.

3. Cook the damper on the edge of the fire (or over embers of a fire), making sure the dough is not in any flame. Turn round for about 10 minutes. The Damper should increase in size and crisp all over. Leave to cool for a bit and then tear into bits and eat.

You can have it with jam, honey or, if you're feeling a bit posh, some olive oil.

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Day 28

Guinness Chocolate Brownies (makes 24)

This seems way too indulgent to make during Lent but I haven't given up either chocolate or alcohol (although the alcohol would mostly be cooked out). I got the recipe from Jack Monroe ('A Girl Called Jack') who has recently moved from the Labour Party to the Greens. That seems like a natural move to me.


250ml Guinness

200g dark chocolate (broken into bits)

100g milk chocolate (broken into bits)

200g butter

300g sugar

3 eggs

150g flour


1. Put the over on at 180C and line a small roasting tray with baking paper.

2. Pour the Guinness into a small saucepan over a low/medium heat. Put a mixing bowl on top (to act as a bain marie) and put in the dark chocolate and the butter. Occasionally stir until melted and mixed.

3. Meanwhile, beat together the eggs and sugar and beat until combined. Gradually add the flour and beat in before adding the next batch.

4. Gradually add the chocolate/butter mix. Do this in small batches and make sure all is mixed up before adding more.

5. The Guinness should have reduced to about 125ml by now. If not then allow it is slowly boil for a while longer. Don't worry if this is not exact. Round about 125ml is good enough.

6. Pour the whole lot into the roasting tray. It will look pretty runny but that's okay.

7. Put on the middle tray of the oven and cook for 40 minutes. Do not open the over door at all during this time.

8. Take out of the oven and leave to cool for at least an hour. The cooking process is still going on.

9. Slice into 24 bits and leave to cool completely.

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Day 27

White Bean and Tomato Soup (Serves 4)

This is a delicious soup and very easy (and cheap) to make. Some grated Parmesan cheese and posh bread just rounds it off nicely.


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion (sliced)

1 garlic clove (crushed

800g tinned chopped tomatoes

2x420g tins cannellini beans

1 tbsp tomato puree

600ml vegetable stock

15g fresh basil leaves (torn into bits)

1 tsp caster sugar


1. Heat the oil in a large pan. Fry the onions and garlic for about 8-10 minutes.

2. Stir in the tomatoes, puree and stock. Stir and simmer for 10 minutes.

3. Add the cannellini beans and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the basil and sugar. Add seasoning to taste.

Monday, 16 March 2015

Day 26

Homemade Tomato Ketchup

In a few months time I shall be overwhelmed with fresh produce both from the back garden and the allotment. I tried this with surplus tomatoes and it's delicious.


1kg of ripe tomatoes (roughly chopped)

1 carrot (chopped)

1 small onion (chopped)

1 celery stick (chopped)

Pinch of ground cloves

1 bay leaf

2 mace blades

150ml red wine vinegar

60g light soft brown sugar


1. Put all the ingredients except the sugar in a heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Discard the mace and bay leaf. Puree the mixture and then rub through a nylon sieve back into the rinsed-out pan.

3. Stir in the sugar, bring back to the boil and boil for 5 minutes, stirring all the time, until the mixture has the thickness of thick cream.

4. Pour into warm, steralized jars with vinegar-proof lids but first cover with a waxed disc, then seal up and cool.

The ketchup can be kept in a dark, cool place for about 3 months. Once opened it should be kept in the fridge and be used within 2 weeks. Shake before use.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Day 25

Tuscan Kale Soup (Serves 4-5)

Here's a recipe that use both barley and kale - which has featured in earlier recipes. My son is a big soup  fan at the moment (he managed to polish off a bowl of carrot and coriander yesterday after having a pizza for lunch) so I'll be making quite a lot in the future. 


2 tbsp of olive oil
1-2 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
1 onion (finely chopped)
100g of barley (thoroughly rinsed)
2 pints of water (filtered is best)
4-5 leaves of fresh kale (chopped into small bits)
1 red pepper (roasted, peeled, de-seeded and chopped)


1. Put the olive oil in a pan and heat. Add the garlic and onions and cook until translucent.

2. Stir in the barley until coated and then add the water.

3. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-25 minutes. 

4. Add the kale and peppers and cook for another 3 minutes before serving.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Day 24

Lemon Barley Water (serves 10)

We're lucky enough to have a herb and spice stall on Norwich market that sells all sorts of things that are normally quite hard to come by. Vanilla pods, dried peaches, just about every nut you can think of...and big bags of barley at a very cheap price. I bought some a couple of years ago and since then I've made on a pretty regular basis.


2 unwaxed lemons
50g caster sugar
125g pearl barley
1.2 litres boiling water


1. Finely grate the zest of the lemons and place in a large bowl with the sugar. 

2. Thoroughly rinse the barley and add to the bowl with the boiling water. Stir well and leave to cool.

3. Squeeze the juice from the lemons into the cooled barley water. Strain through a sieve into a jug and chill in the fridge.

4. Serve with ice and maybe some sprigs of mint.

Friday, 13 March 2015

Day 23

Crystallised Primroses

For a long time my foraging bible was Richard Mabey's "Food for Free". It's still a fantastic book and I still occasionally dip into it. However, last year it was usurped by "The Hedgerow Handbook" by Adele Nozedar. 

In the run-up to spring I thought I'd share this with you. Primroses (and cowslips) appear in April. Freshly picked leaves and flowers can be eaten in salads or can be used as an infusion to make a tea (I've never tried that so if you do, let me know what it's like). If you do pick them please make sure you don't pull them up by the roots!


3-4 primroses (flowers and leaves)
1 egg white
Drop of rose water
Caster sugar


1. Beat the egg white with the rose water.

2. Paint on the flowers and leaves with a paintbrush.

3. Dip in the sugar, making sure they are well covered.

4. Leave in a dry place overnight.

Use them to decorate cakes, biscuits etc.

Thursday, 12 March 2015

Day 22

Norfolk Fair Buttons (makes loads)

I'm pretty sure that this is not just a Norfolk tradition but it's the one that I know about. In days long past towns and villages throughout the county would hold fairs. It was a time to celebrate the ending of Lent, the arrival of spring and the chance to buy stuff that was needed for the rest of the year. Fair buttons were made and sold at many of these gatherings. As you can see they are very simple to make.


225g plain flour
225g granulated sugar
150g butter
1 egg (beaten)


1. Stir together the flour and sugar until evenly mixed.  

2. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  Beat the egg lightly and work into the mixture to form a stiff pastry.

3. Roll out thinly and cut into rounds.  Bake at 180C on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper for 10 minutes.  

4. Lift on a wire rack to cool. 

You can flavour them with a few drops of lemon essence or 1/2 tsp of ground ginger.

Wednesday, 11 March 2015

Day 21

Rosehip Syrup (makes about 1.5 litres)

I know that it's many months until rosehips are ready to be picked but this is really one of my favourite foraging recipes. I knew that rosehip syrup was taken by children during the Second World War because it's packed with Vitamin C. I later found out that children in the countryside (including evacuees) were sent out in groups to harvest rosehips on a massive scale.


1kg rosehips
Juice of 2 lemons
400g granulated sugar
1.5 litres of water


1. Wash the rosehips and roughly chop them (this can be done in a food processor). Put them in a heavy saucepan with the water and simmer until the rosehips are very soft. Remove from the heat and leave to stand for 15 minutes.

2. Tip the mixture into a jelly bag or a sieve lined with muslin (I use two pieces of muslin as an extra layer) and leave to drip into a large bowl for at last one hour.

3. Rinse out the pan and return the syrup to the pan. Add the lemon juice and sugar. Stir on a low heat until the sugar is dissolved. Increase the heat and boil rapidly for a 3-4 minutes.

4. Pour into warm, sterilized bottles and seal. 

The syrup will keep for about 4 months. 

Not only will it be a great cordial drink, it can be poured direct onto ice cream. If you mix it 50:50 with water then they can be frozen as lollipops. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Day 20

Eve's Pudding (Serves 4)

There was a time when my daughter was continually bringing friends for tea. Many of them requested this pudding and I remember making this many times for groups of enthusiastic kids. Serve with custard or cream.


For the filling

500g cooking apples
1 tbsp of lemon juice
2 tbsp of water
20g butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

For the topping

75g butter
100g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
2 eggs (lightly beaten)
1 tbsp boiling water


1. Preheat the oven to 180C.

2. Peel, core and chop the apples

3. Add the apples, lemon juice and water to saucepan. Stir and cook briskly for 5 minutes until apples are soft.

4. Add butter, caster sugar and stir.

5. Transfer to a gratin dish (900ml capacity one) and leave to cool.

6. For the topping, cream together butter and caster sugar.

7. Fold in the flour and egg in alternate spoonfuls. Be careful just to fold in rather than stirring.

8. Add spoonful of boiling water to the mix.

9. Spoon the mixture over the apples. Cook in over for about 30-35 minutes.