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Baked marrow

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Well I have been enjoying the weather so much this week I’ve hardly been in the kitchen let alone near my laptop! I ended up making baked marrow yesterday as we were in need of something filling after getting the garden nice and tidy again 🙂

This is a very satisfying dish and there are a few short cuts which is great as it can be a little time consuming if you make everything from scratch.

Firstly you will need to slice your marrow in half length-ways and scoop out the seeds in the middle. This will give you a nice hollow to fill with the meat and cheese sauces later on (I find one decent sized marrow does about four people). You can then pop the marrow on a baking sheet and wrap in tin foil so that it keeps the steam in while it is cooking. Put it into a moderate oven and cook for about 30 minutes while you prepare the two sauces. As an alternative you can parboil for 5-10 minutes or pop it in the microwave until it starts to soften if you don’t have much time but I find the oven gives a much better taste.

If you are like me and consistently make too much of every meal, you may well have some bolognese sauce in the freezer which will be perfect for this. If not, you can easily fry up some onions, garlic and minced beef. Once the meat is cooked through pop in a tin of chopped tomatoes and splash of red wine or beef stock and leave to simmer for a while.

For the cheese sauce you will need to make a simple roux. This is easily done by mixing  equal quantities of flour and butter in a saucepan over a low heat until a smooth paste is  formed. Keeping the pan on the heat, you should then add milk to this bit by bit, whisking all  the time, until you have a fairly thin sauce. Simmer the sauce for at least 5 minutes while the sauce gradually thickens to the desired consistency. You can then add grated cheese and black pepper to taste.


Take the marrow out of the oven and fill with the meat sauce then top with plenty of cheese sauce and some grated cheese to finish the dish off. As the two sauces are cooked already this will only need a further 5-10 minutes in the oven just to infuse all of the flavours and melt the cheese on top.

It is lovely served with steaming hot buttery new potatoes.


Chicken with leek & bacon sauce

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The leek & bacon sauce below is lovely with chicken, but can also be served with a white meaty fish or other meats such as pork or turkey. It even makes a good pasta sauce, so is a very versatile and simple sauce. On this occasion I served it with pan-fried chicken breast, runner beans and Marks & Spencer’s parmentier potatoes. They are wonderfully crisp cubes of potato covered in a shallot and garlic butter. Very satisfying for just 99 pence at the moment!

For the leek & bacon sauce you will need to pan-fry plenty of leeks with garlic, some shallots and spring onions for an extra oniony boost of flavour. Add in some chopped bacon. Shredded ham hock is a good alternative to this. Once everything is cooked through, remove from the heat and stir in some creme fraiche. This will thin as it heats through so the sauce will easily coat a piece of meat or fish, or bowl of pasta.

As for the parmentier potatoes, even at their full price of £1.99 they are a very nice accompaniment and great alternative to chips or wedges.


East Indian Salad

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Although the ingredients of this salad may sound like an odd combination the end result is lovely. It is very fresh and light and very simple to make. The dressing is a basic mayonnaise with seasoning, so if you do not wish to make your own you can add bought mayonnaise with some Worcestershire sauce and curry powder to taste. It is lovely as a main meal or a dish for a barbecue or buffet.


8oz cooked white rice

1 green pepper

2 celery sticks

6oz tinned pineapple

1 tbsp chives

1 avocado

8oz cooked prawns

Juice of 1 lemon


2 egg yolks

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 tsp dried mustard

white pepper

8 fl.oz. olive oil

1 tbsp. white wine vinegar

2 tsps. curry powder

2 level tsps. Worcestershire sauce (or to taste)

Salad: Slice the pepper, celery, avocado and chives. Brush the avocado with lemon juice. Chop the pineapple. Put everything into a salad bowl along with the rice and prawns.

Dressing: Place the egg yolks, salt, pepper and mustard into a mixing bowl and whisk until blended. Add the oil very gradually until the dressing has thickened. Stir in the vinegar, curry powder and Worcestershire sauce.

Add the dressing to the salad. Toss and chill for 30 minutes before serving.

Chicken and Bacon salad

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Here’s a nice healthy recipe and it is satisfyingly filling for a salad! It’s lovely with hot chicken, bacon and potatoes but you can add these cold if you prefer. If you are adding them hot you will need to make sure it’s eaten soon after so that the salad doesn’t wilt too much from the heat.

You can do any variation of the salad, but I like it as follows:

I make the salad up from various different types of lettuce, tomatoes, spring onions, spinach, watercress and avocado.  Then I add in hot new potatoes, bacon and diced chicken. I sometimes add quartered boiled eggs, hot asparagus, hot runner beans or sweet peppers too, depending on the ingredients I have to hand. As for a dressing I find a honey and wholegrain mustard one complements the bacon very well, but a French dressing or even salad cream will do the job. I love it with some white crusty bread and butter on the side.

Sausage and bean casserole

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If I want comfort food but don’t want to feel guilty afterwards, I always go for this recipe. You can make it with Quorn sausages if you want an even healthier meal or you’re vegetarian, but I didn’t find it anywhere near as tasty as having proper meat sausages cooked in it.

You will need various tins of beans (haricot, kidney, butter beans etc), several diced onions and tinned chopped tomatoes, a pint of stock and good quality sausages (so you don’t get too much fat leaking into the casserole).

Fry the onions until soft, add the beans, tomatoes and stock and simmer. Cook the sausages through (I usually grill them so the fat comes out) then put everything in a preheated casserole dish. Cook in the oven (about 180 degrees C) for about 20 minutes. All the ingredients will be cooked already, but this just makes sure the sausage flavour gets into the stew.

I love this served with baked potatoes and lashings of Branston


Tuck Box Cake

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This is probably my favourite cake. I remember Mum making it when I was little and I couldn’t wait for it to come out of the oven. It’s good cold but wonderful straight from the oven with some margarine on while it’s still warm 🙂 It’s ideal if you have a few bananas to use up too!

3oz margarine
6oz caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
3 soft bananas
4oz glace cherries, quartered
8oz. self raising flour
1 tbsp. Demerara

Wash and dry the cherries. Grease a 2 lb loaf tin and line with greased greaseproof paper. Cream margarine and sugar until light and fluffy. Gradually add the beaten eggs (incorporating a little flour) Mash bananas until smooth and add to mixture. Add half the cherries. Sift flour and stir in with a metal spoon. Turn mixture into tin and smooth the top. Arrange remaining cherries on top and sprinkle with sugar. Bake at 180 oC for one hour.

Homemade low-fat chips

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I always thought you had to have a deep fat fryer or pan full of hot oil to make good homemade chips. This recipe proved me wrong and it’s so much healthier too!

You can use any old potatoes that you have lying round but it also works well with sweet potatoes if you fancy a change.

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunky chips and boil for 5 minutes. Drain the pan and leave the chips to stand for a further 5 minutes. Shake the pan to fluff up the edges to make sure the chips hold the oil and crisp up beautifully (works wonders when you’re doing roast potatoes too!).

Spread the chips on a preheated baking tray and spray with oil to get a thin even coating. You can use olive oil or a low fat cooking spray, but I wouldn’t recommend using pouring oil as this will drench them.

Bake in the oven for 25 minutes at 230 degrees turning once to cook them through evenly. Sprinkle on a pinch of sea salt and tuck in!


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