Monday, 30 November 2009

Beetroot brownies and veggy Christmas casserole

I spent quite a bit of time cooking this weekend: used up my veggy box beetroots with chocolate and beetroot brownies a la Hugh F-W (see recipe in the Guardian here); and made my usual veggy option for Christmas dinner to freeze ready to take along on the day. I've been making the same recipe for a few years now: mushroom and chestnut bourguignon from Rachel Demuth's Green Seasons cookbook. I like this because it's rich and hearty and the chestnuts add a bit of Christmassy flavour. And you can make a big batch to test it out, then freeze a bit for Christmas day. As it has it's own gravy it means you can join in with all of the usual trimmings - roast parsnips, potatoes, sprouts - and it goes well with mash too! Much more satisfying than a nut roast! The recipe isn't available online but essentially you roast shallots, garlic and peppers, then put in casserole or pot with the mushrooms, cooked chestnuts, herbs, red wine, stock etc. and then just simmer away until done. Lovely!

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Soup and celebrities!

Since my last post I've discovered a new soup success - leek and chickpea from Jamie Oliver's first book. And I spent a day at the Masterchef Live (aka Good Food Show) in London. Tasted lots of cheese, chilli sauces and wine; ate some signature dishes from the Boxwood cafe and Urban Caprice; picked up lots of free magazines and recipes to try; and watched a cook off hosted by Greg and John! A great day out. Now need to try some of the recipes from the programme and magazines.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Pepper soup and lemon posset

Success! Two new recipes today, and both worked! First up red pepper and sweetcorn soup. Had a surplus of veggie box peppers so tried out this soup. Lovely!

Also, I had been meaning to try for months a Hugh F-W recipe from the Guardian for lemon posset, mainly because he claimed it was so easy. It was remarkable simple - just cream, sugar and lemon juice, a bit of heating and whisking, then a few hours in the fridge. See the recipe on the Guardian website. It was a hit! Not sure if we'll get through the whole batch this week though! But they look pretty, so one to remember for a dinner party.

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Parsnips and pears!

First parsnips of the season in the veggie box this week! I love parsnips. A definite sign winter is coming though.

I've not done so well on the blog posts but have been trying some new recipes. Last week I was inspired by watching Masterchef: the Professionals to try and create something with a few more interesting flavours. I had a recipe I'd cut out of the paper last year for a warm salad of beetroots roasted with olive oil, garlic and rosemary (thyme too but didn't have any), served with pear and blue cheese, drizzled with honey. That was gorgeous. My favourite salad ingredients right now are pears - salad leaves, pears, walnuts and blue cheese is a quick and easy one. And it goes well with a dressing made of wholegrain mustard, olive oil and cider vinegar.

But tonight it's got to be roast parsnips!

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Cavolo Nero and Cannellini beans

I realise I've not done so well at my resolution to cook a new recipe each week - as promised in 25th July post! I have cooked a few new dishes but certainly not once a week and I've failed to document any in the blog! Well, I'm going to have another go. I'm inspired partly by the new film Julie & Julia (though I've not actually seen it yet) and by my boyfriend complaining that I keep on cutting out recipes from the paper but have a stack of recipe books in the cupboard that I don't use enough!

So, last night, I had a look to see what we had from this week's veggie box and consulted the cookbooks for a new recipe. We had some Cavolo Nero (black cabbage) a bunch of dark and bumpy leaves I've had before but didn't really know how to cook. I went first for Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Italy mega- hardback and found a recipe for Pork fillet with black cabbage and cannellini beans. It gave great advice on how to cook the cabbage - with onion and for 40 minutes to bring out the flavour and reduce the bitterness, whereas my first reaction would be to cook it fast like spinach. My boyfriend cooked the pork as instructed (while I had a quorn substitute) and I cheated on the beans by using a can but cooked them with garlic and olive oil as in the recipe. We didn't have any sage so used rosemary with the beans, and no pancetta for the pork, but our Locatelli-ish dinner was fantastic. The beans were good with the garlic and rosemary, and the cabbage was really tasty. Definitely one I'd cook again. And leftover beans made a great spread for snacking today!

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Holiday plans

Off work for 2 weeks so planning some gastro-trips. Also going to try to do more home cooking - a holiday resolution to start cooking a new recipe each week .... let's see how it goes.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Dinner in Chinnor.... Sir Charles Napier

Latest recommendation for a special lunch or dinner - the Sir Charles Napier gastropub at Sprigg's Alley near Chinnor. Bit pricey but lovely for a special meal. Really good food, lovely views from the garden top of a hill in the Chilterns, and quirky sculptures inside and outside. Probably all the better for being that extra bit difficult to find. Highly recommended.

Friday, 12 June 2009

Dinner at The Black Boy, Headington

Had a lovely dinner at The Black Boy pub in Headington, Oxford on Tuesday. Forgot about the place as it's only recently been made over and turned from a pub you would avoid to a dining pub that's getting some really good reviews. Check out the website at

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Soda bread attempt

Today I tried Matthew Fort's "foolproof" soda bread recipe from last Saturday's Guardian magazine - recipe at Food for Fort. After tracking down some buttermilk in the new Waitrose, I only bought one pot, worried that I wouldn't get round to making the bread and would waste 2 pots if I bought the 2 the recipe actually required! So when I came to make it I had to halve the ingredients and guess the cooking time. Still the mixture looked too much for my small loaf tin so I used a bigger cake tin. Consequently it was a bit flat!
It actually tastes pretty good - nutty with a sort of chewy, crispy crust. But I think a smaller tin would have produced a slightly deeper result more worthy of the terms "bread" or "loaf".

Thursday, 14 May 2009

Asparagus season

My first blog posting! Another first for today .... first local asparagus of the season. Ate it steamed with lots of butter, salt and pepper. All you need!