Category Archives: Recipes

Festive Recipe – Spinach and Ricotta Christmas Tree

Put a Christmas tree on the table! This Christmas tree makes for a set of beautiful hors d’oeuvres. Wonderfully creamy and cheesy, these little bites of scrumptiousness will be beautiful for your stomach AND your eyes!

Ingredients:
1 tsp vegetable oil for frying
2 red onions, chopped
8 cups fresh spinach
Salt and ground black pepper
1 pinch ground nutmeg
255g fresh ricotta cheese
1 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 sheet ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg beaten
4 cherry tomatoes, halved

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a large pan over medium heat and sauté onions until soft and translucent.
  2. Add spinach, salt and pepper and cook until spinach is wilted, about 5-7 minutes. Remove lid after 5 minutes and allow cooking liquid to evaporate.
  3. Chop spinach mixture and combine with the ricotta and parmesan in a bowl and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
  4. Roll out puff pastry sheet and evenly cover with spinach-cheese mixture to within 1/2 inch of the edges. Tightly wrap and cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
  5. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C, Gas Mark 5/6 or 375-400 degrees F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Slice pastry log into 3/4” slices so you have 16-22 pinwheels. Lay pinwheels on baking sheet in the shape of a Christmas tree.
  7. Bake in the oven until lightly browned, 20-25 minutes. Decorate with the cherry tomatoes and serve.

Festive Recipe – Brie and Cranberry Bites

These fantastic, bite-sized scrumptious morsels make for perfect hors d’oeuvres. Smooth, creamy brie and tart cranberry in crisp pastry are a classic combination, and it’s very simple to make them. Try serving these fantastic bites at a party this festive season!

Ingredients
8 oz ready roll puff pastry
Cooking spray, for pan
Flour for rolling out
8oz Brie wheel
1/2 cup whole Berry Cranberry sauce
1/4 cup shopped pecans or walnuts
6 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 1” pieces.

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375 Degrees Fahrenheit / 190 Degrees C / Gas Mark 7 and grease a mini muffin tin with cooking spray.
2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out puff pastry and cut into 24 squares. Place into muffin tin slots.
3. Cut Brie into Small pieces and place inside the pastry. Top with a spoonful of cranberry sauce, some chopped pecans, add one little sprig of rosemary.
4. Bake until the pastry is golden (Roughly 15 minutes.) Serve while still hot!

Recipe of the Month – November – Pumpkin Soup

Do you still have leftover pumpkin from Halloween? Want to make use of this highly versatile squash but don’t know a good starting point? This cracking pumpkin soup is hearty and packed with a myriad of flavours. Give it a try!

Ingredients:
1 Large Pumpkin, peeled, deseeded and chopped into chunks
2 Onions, finely chopped
1 Large Potato, peeled and chopped
50g (2oz) Butter
2-3 cloves of Garlic, chopped
2 x 400g tins of Chopped Tomatoes
300ml Vegetable Stock
Chilli Powder (optional)
Ground Nutmeg (optional)
Seasoning

Method:
1. Melt butter in pan and add chopped onion and potato.  Gently cook until the onion is soft but not coloured.
2. Add pumpkin and garlic and cook until slightly soft. Add a little oil to prevent sticking if necessary.
3. Add tinned tomatoes, stock and pepper and bring to boil. Continue cooking until all the vegetables are soft.
4. Add chilli and nutmeg ( a little at a time) to taste if using.
5. Puree with a hand blender until smooth and serve.

 

Holiday Recipe – Halloween – Dragon’s Blood Soup

Dragon’s are large, serpent-like creatures found around the world, co-existing alongside and sometimes terrorising various communities. In the East, they are wingless and four-legged, but known for their intelligence. In the West, however, they are known for being winged and being able to breathe fire as well. From Asia to Scandinavia, these creatures are both respected and highly feared. However, some chosen warriors may choose to slay one such beast which is terrorising their community and use it to create a hearty dish.

Whilst we recommend using all parts of the dragon in a dish (The scales usually require roughly 48-72 hours of slow cooking to make palatable, so you may choose to use them in crafts instead), this soup makes particular use of the blood. Try and use fresh dragon’s blood in the soup: It gives a much better, spicier flavour.

(Okay, so this soup is actually Beetroot and Bramley Soup! It’s a hearty, earthy dish which is fantastic for those colder nights. Accompanied with sour cream and dill sprigs, it’s a wonderfully unique flavour that dwarfs more run-of-the-mill soups like cream of chicken and mushroom. No dragon’s were harmed in the making of this dish!)

Ingredients
65 grams of Butter
2 Onions, chopped
2 Carrots, chopped
2 Celery Sticks, chopped
6 Garlic Cloves, chopped
1 Small Bramley Apple
800 grams of Beetroot, trimmed and sliced (No need to peel) or pre-cooked vacuum packed.
1.5 litres of Chicken Stock, hot

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-based pan over a low heat. Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic and a splash of water. Cover and sweat for 15 minutes. Stir occasionally, until the onions are soft.
  2. Peel, core and slice the apple before adding it to the pan alongside the beetroot. Cover and sweat for a further 15 minutes.
  3. Pour in the stock, season and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer,  uncovered, for one hour until the beetroot is tender. If using pre-cooked beetroot, reduce the cooking time accordingly.
  4. Cool slightly, then puree with a hand-held blender, or in batches with a food processor, until smooth. Season and set aside to cool until just warm.
  5. Divide the soup between bowls, season and top with dollops of soured cream and fresh dill sprigs.

Recipe of the Month – October – Minced Beef Cobbler

The cobbler: A hearty, filling dish that is perfect for Autumn. A filling topped with dumplings (or, in America where the cobbler is common, biscuits, referring to the American unsweetened bread that resembles a scone) and usually served out of its baking dish. The humble cobbler has its origins in the British American colonies, where a lack of suitable ingredients and cookware to create  the much-favoured suet puddings led to the need to improvise. This need to improvise led to covering the traditional stewed filling with a later of plain biscuits/dumplings, often fitted together in a circular shape.

Similar but distinct to crumbles, the cobbler (Believed to derive from the 14th century word cobeler, meaning wooden bowl/dish, or the appearance of a cobblestone) is a hearty dish enjoyed extensively across the United Kingdom and the United States (Where one can find over a hundred varieties and variations on cobbler, from the dump cake using dumpling mix over a stewed filling to the Brown Betty. In the UK, the cobbler enjoyed popularity through the wartime years, where it was promoted by the Ministry of Food due to being able to be made with margarine and being a hearty dish that makes a lot of a few ingredients.

Ingredients

  • 500g pack extra-lean beef mince
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 140g mushrooms, halved
  • 500ml beef stock
  • few shakes Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 carrots peeled and diced
  • 140g frozen peas
  • 125g plain flour
  • 25g sunflower margarine
  • 1 heaped tablespoon baking powder
  • 25ml milk
  • 1 tsp dried thyme

Method

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees (fan)/Gas Mark 6 .
  2. Dry-fry the mince and onion in a large non-stick frying pan over a high heat. Stir frequently to break up the mince, until well browned. Add the mushrooms and plain flour, followed by the stock and Worcestershire sauce. Bring to a simmer, then gently cook for 10 mins.
  3. Make the cobbler by sifting the flour, thyme and baking powder into a bowl and rubbing in the margarine, or blitz in a mini processor. Add the milk and stir with a knife until a dough is formed.
  4. Roll out the dough to 1/2 inch thickness and cut into rounds.
  5. Stir the peas into the mince mixture, then transfer to a baking dish. Randomly place the cobbles on top of the mince to cover the filling, then bake for 20-25 mins, until cobbles are risen and golden brown.

Tips

Add any herbs you’d like to the cobbler to add a dynamic touch of flavour. You can even add cheese (or top the cobbler with cheese) if you wish to add something extra to the cobbler.

Recipe of the Month – September – Gingerbread Cake

Gingerbread: A fantastic Autumn recipe. A soft, warming cake: Good gingerbread  is an absolute delight to eat, particularly as the colder months begin to set in.

Gingerbread was brought to Europe in 992 by Armenian monk Gregory of Nicopolis from Greece, who taught French Christians in Bondaroy how to bake it. Since then, gingerbread spread across Europe and, subsequently during the Age of Discovery, the world, and remains a highly popular treat in many countries. Gingerbread biscuits would develop later, believed to be around the 17th century.

There are a dizzying array of gingerbread and forms of gingerbread, and to make matters more confusing, it can refer to both the cake or a type of biscuit in England. Variants on gingerbread include peperkoek, a soft and crumbly gingerbread served thickly sliced with butter in the Netherlands and Belgium; Lebkuchen, from Germany, which comes in either soft or hard form and takes a number of shapes, often with a fruity filling and Parkin, a more local delight which adds black treacle and oatmeal to create a heartier cake!

There are an incredible amount of different varieties of gingerbread, but this recipe, courtesy of Joyce, is for the traditional gingerbread cake: Soft, fluffy, sweet and spicy, everything you look for when Autumn rolls around!

This recipe is for filling 2 loaf tins.

Ingredients
10 ounces Plain Flour
2.5 teaspoons of Ground Ginger
1.25 teaspoons of Mixed Spice.
1.25 teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda
2.5 ounces of Soft Brown Sugar
5 ounces of margarine
10 ounces of Golden Syrup
1/2 a pint of milk
2 eggs, beaten

Method

  1. Grease and line your baking tins.
  2. Melt the margarine, syrup and sugar together, mix well and set to one side.
  3. In a mixing bowl, sieve together the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda.
  4. Add the milk to the melted syrup mixture to cool slightly before adding the beaten eggs, and stir well.
  5. Add the wet mixture to the dry ingredients and mix with a whisk. At this point, the mixture will be quite runny: Don’t worry, this is to be expected!
  6. Pour the mixture into your lined tins and bake at 150 Celsius/300 Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 2 for 1 hour to 1 hour 15 minutes.

Recipe of the Month – August – Scone-Based Pizza

A vegetable pizza using a scone base

The Pizza is one of the oldest and most beloved comfort foods available to us. First referenced specifically in 997 AD, the Pizza is believed to go back even further. One early example is the Persian soldiers of the Achaemenid Empire, who baked flatbreads topped with cheese and dates on their shields.

Modern pizza itself evolved from similar dishes in Naples in the 18th or early 19th century, when tomatoes were added to create the pizza as we know it. The archetypical pizza margherita, made of tomato, basil and mozzarella, was created, or so the legend attests, by Raffaele Esposito who created it in honour of Queen Margherita as she visited the Royal Palace of Capodimonte.

From there, the pizza spread, thanks largely in part to Italian emigration across the world (Mostly the United Kingdom and United States), and continues to evolve to this day. The archetypical pizza remains as cheese on a base of tomato, layered on a bread-like dough, but from humble beginnings it has become a dish that can be created in a staggering variety of ways. From the pizza bianca which foregoes tomato sauce for olive oil, salt and herbs, to the New York-style pizza known for its huge slices, eaten folded in half, pizza has a huge number of variations. One such variation is this one: The scone-based pizza, which foregoes the traditional, bread-like pizza base for a base that is based on a baked scone.

So, why go for an admittedly less traditional pizza base? Convenience is one point: They are very quick to make. If you’re making an ordinary bread-based pizza base from scratched, you generally need to wait an hour just for the dough to rise.  These pizzas bake in just 20-40 minutes. The scone base also makes for a crispier, heartier base, and absorbs the tomato topping extraordinarily well.

Try it for yourself. Who knows? It may even replace your takeaway. It’s certainly something everybody should try at least once!

Ingredients

225g (8oz) Self-Raising Flour
Pinch of Salt
50g (2oz) Butter or Margarine
150ml (1/4 Pint) of Milk
4 Tbsp Passata Sauce/Tomato Puree/Pesto
8 Slices Chorizo/Pepperoni/Salami/Ham (Or any mixture of the four)
1/2 Small Red Onion, Sliced
1/2 Green Pepper, Sliced or Diced
2 Mushrooms, Thinly Sliced
2 Small Tomatoes, Sliced or Diced
4 Tablespoons Grated Mozzarella (Or Cheese of Choice)

Method
1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees (Fan)/200 degrees (Conventional)/Gas Mark 6
2. Grease 2 baking sheets
3. Mix flour and salt then rub in butter or margarine. Add the milk gradually, to create a soft and pliable dough.
4. Knead lightly on a floured surface.
5. Divide into 4 balls and roll each ball into a 6 inch circle, about 1cm thick
6. Place the dough onto the greased baking sheets
7. Spread the dough with the chosen sauce topping.
8. Add your favourite toppings!
9. Sprinkle with chosen cheese.
10. Bake for 20 to 40 minutes, until the base and cheese are golden brown.

Recipe of the Month – July – Nyama Stew (Zimbabwean Beef Stew)

In Zimbabwe, this beef stew is practically a staple of the national diet. It’s a common, A warming plate of stew, served with pap/maize porridgeuncomplicated dish that is served at a number of events including during festivities, weddings and funerals. It includes a number of improvements over your standard beef stew, including garlic, all spice and curry powder.

Nyama translates to ‘meat’, but in this context refers to beef stew. It may be uncomplicated and relatively easy to make, but it packs a wonderful punch of flavour. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables, cuts of beef etc; to make the stew unique to you and your own clan!

Ingredients
2.5kg lean stewing beef
2 tins chopped tomatoes
3 onions, chopped
2 red peppers, chopped
Green cabbage or kale, chopped
3 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp All Spice seasoning
1 tbsp South African curry powder
2 beef stock cubes dissolved in water
Vegetable oil

Method

  1. Brown the beef in a little oil.
  2. Add about 1tbsp of All Spice and the curry powder. Stir until the liquid reduces by half.
  3. Add the onions, peppers and garlic. Cook until softened.
  4. Add thge chopped tomatoes, cabbage and stock.
  5. Simmer until the meat is cooked and tender.
  6. Serve and enjoy!

Tips:

In Zimbabwe, this hearty stew often uses every part of the animal. These are prized in Zimbabwean cuisine and, once you have tasted the beauty of ox tail, you will certainly know why! Experiment with different cuts of meat, add as many or as little as you desire, and include offal if you want.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different vegetables either. For an African twist, try adding plantains: These close relatives of the banana are starchier but are fantastic for adding a new dimension of flavour to the stew, whilst also making it heartier.

The stew can be served on its own or with rice. Alternatively, for another African twist, serve it with pap (Maize porridge)

RECIPE OF THE MONTH – JUNE – CHICKEN AND CHORIZO PAELLA

Paella is a Spanish, specifically Valencian, dish. Paella itself simply translates to “pan”, with Valencians using the word to describe all pans, with paellera describing the specific pan used for paella. Indeed, it is this large, steel double-handled pan which makes paella appear so inviting, particularly for large groups.

As with other recipes around the world, paella has expanded past its regional beginnings in Valencia and has become a wonderfully global dish, including a wide variety of meats (Although the classic Valencian paella only includes seafood), vegetables and other ingredients.

This recipe includes chicken and chorizo, as well as paprika, for a hearty Iberian flavour. This
dish is certainly a popular one in summer, and its flavours will take you to the sun-drenched shores of Spain. Take it to a party or share it with your family with some cold drinks on a hot summer’s evening: There’s little better in life than this!

As a last note, do not worry if a crust forms beneath the paella during cooking: This layer of toasted rice is, in fact, a delicacy! It’s referred to as socarrat in Catalan and some even consider it essential to a good paella! Just don’t let it burn!

Ingredients
2 cloves of garlic
1 onion
1 carrot
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley (15g)
70g chorizo
2 chicken thighs skin of bone out
Olive oil
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 red pepper
1 tbs Tomato puree
1 chicken stock cube
300g paella rice
100g frozen peas
200g frozen peeled cooked prawns
1 lemon

Method

  1. Peel and finely slice the garlic, peel and roughly chop the onion and carrot. Finely chop the parsley stalks, then roughly chop the chorizo and chicken thighs.
  2. Put a lug of oil into a large lidded shallow casserole or paella pan on a medium heat, add the garlic, onion, carrot, parsley stalks, chorizo, chicken and paprika, and fry for around 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  3. Deseed and chop the pepper, then add to the pan for a further 5 minutes.
  4. Stir through the tomato purée and crumble in the stock cube, then add the rice and stir for a couple of minutes so it starts to suck up all that lovely flavour.
  5. Pour in 750ml of boiling water and add a pinch of sea salt and black pepper. Pop the lid on and bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes, stirring regularly from the outside in and from the inside out, and adding a splash of water if needed.
  6. Stir in the peas and prawns, replace the lid, and cook for a further 5 minutes, or until hot through.
  7. Season to perfection, then chop the parsley leaves, scatter them over the paella, and serve with lemon wedges on the side for squeezing over.

Tips:

If you’re feeling a bit flush, adding six mussels, six clams and any extra bits of fish you can afford is only going to make it even more of a celebration.

RECIPE OF THE MONTH – MAY MIXED-BEAN CHILLI

Ingredients:

4 tsp vegetable oil

1 red onion, roughly chopped

1 pack mixed peppers chopped

3 or 4 decent sized carrots cut into small chunks

3 cloves garlic  finely chopped

Alternatively you can add

1 butternut squash or 1  large sweet potato or

2 decent size parsnips

1tbsp Cajun spice mix

2 x 410g mixed pulses in water, rinsed and drained ie kidney beans and chickpeas

1 or 2 tins baked beans

2 x 400g can chopped tomatoes

150ml vegetable stock

1 tbsp dark chocolate, chopped

soured cream

Method:

Fry onions and carrots for 3 mins, then if using other hard vegetables add this tio the pan and cook for a further 4—5 mins add the  peppers and garlic in the pan for 5mins.

Add Cajun spice, pulses, tomatoes and stock. Cover and simmer for 15-20 mins.

Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until melted.

Server topped with sour cream and serve with rice, potato wedges or pita bread