Sunday, 12 September 2021

It's Harvest Time - Summer Minestrone Soup


You go away for a week and let the garden get on with doing what it does best and this is the result!

No photo description available.

Actually this is just one part of it! There is plenty more chard, more apples, potatoes and some aubergines ready to harvest! After a mixed start we have had a good crop of most things this year. Apples, chard and courgettes  have done very well. Sweetcorn has done well and the leeks will be ready soon. No plums at all due to a badly time frost, runner beans took a while to get going but are now cropping nicely. Tomatoes have been a mixed back, those in the greenhouse and at the back of the garden have done well but those in the main planters by the house less so. We grew them from seed this year and will do so again. Onions vanished - we planted a couple of rows of red ones but no sign of them!

Anyway when you have a harvest like that a summer minestrone is the order of the day.


Serves 4 for lunch with some soda bread

An assortment of fresh vegetables for example:

  • One sweetcorn cob (corn sliced off the cob)
  • One courgette (diced)
  • Half an onion (diced)
  • Two small carrots (diced)
  • A handful of runner beans (sliced)
  • A handful of very ripe cherry tomatoes and a few green ones (halved) 
  • A small bunch of chard (stems sliced and leaves chopped)
  • 2tsp rapeseed oil 
  • 1 clove of garlic (crashed)
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 1ltr veg or chicken stock 
  • 1tsp mixed herbs
  • Ground black pepper
  • Handful of small pasta such as orzo

Heat the oil, fry the onion and garlic till softened. 

Add the carrot, beans, chard stems and courgette. Fry for a few minutes then add the bay leaves, herbs and tomatoes and again fry for a few minutes. Add the stock and orzo, simmer until the veg and pasta is coked. Add the chard leaves and simmer for a minute or two more. 

Serve with crusty bread. 

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Monday, 22 February 2021

Chicken, Squash and Chickpea Traybake

I fancied making something quick and simple for tea tonight, and something that would provide a simple lunch for tomorrow into the bargain. This certainly fitted the bill.

Serves two for supper and two for lunch the following day.


300g of diced Chicken Breasts

1 Large Butternut Squash peeled, de-seeded and chopped into 1cm dice

1 Green Pepper chopped into 2cm chunks

1 400g can of Chickpeas, drained

Handful of Cherry Tomatoes or 3 larger tomatoes, diced

1 medium sized onion (red would be best) sliced into half-rounds

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 sprigs of rosemary

2 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

Salt and Pepper


Put everything into a roasting tray, as large as possible you want to have everything in a single layer if possible.

Put roasting tray into an over 180C for 40 minutes, give everything a toss and turn after 20 minutes.

Serve with a minty yoghurt dressing, or just lemon juice. A green salad would be a nice addition as well.

Tuesday, 13 October 2020

Goat and Chickpea Stew

The second in a series of recipes invented to use up a small glut of under ripe tomatoes from the garden. In this case we had had a very tasty half-leg of goat slow roasted after being rubbed with a paste of garlic, pepper and rosemary and had some left over. Goat is like lean lamb and I could have made a curry, or shredded it for wraps but instead decided on this ragu which was very nice with saffron rice.

Serves 3-4


A generous pile of left over roast goat (or lamb or beef) cubed.
1 400g can of chickpeas, drained
250g of unripe tomatoes (you could use ripe ones but you would then need the juice of a lemon at the end to balance the flavours) diced.
2 medium onions thinly sliced into half moon rings
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 stick of cinnamon 
500ml of stock (I used mushroom as that was the cube that came to hand)

Preheat the over to 160c
Fry the onions and garlic in a splash of oil in a over proof casserole dish. A the tomatoes and fry for a few minutes. Add the cubed meat and fry for a few more minutes. Then add the spices, the chickpeas and the stock. Bring to the boil, cover the casserole with foil. This will keep the steam in. Put in the oven and bake for an hour and a half.

A Simple Fish Traybake

It's Autumn and we pulled up the last of the tomato plants at the weekend. We had a good crop of small cherry tomatoes (Gardener's Delight) and larger salad tomatoes (Black Russian) but the weather has changed and the fruit still left on the trusses won't ripen so I picked about a kilo of them in various states of ripeness.

Now there are only so many fried breakfasts you can have and I'm not a chutney maker so this week has involved some experimentation, one of those is this simple traybake.

Serves 2


2 medium size potatoes sliced into 4mm slices
2 medium sized green tomatoes (or half a lemon sliced thinly
2 fillets of sea bass or sea bream
A small bunch of parsley
Olive or Rape Seed Oil


 Preheat the oven to 180c. Scatter the sliced potatoes and tomatoes on a baking sheet, season with salt and pepper then drizzle with a little oil. Bake in the oven for 20 mins. Pinch and slash the skin side of the fish a couple of times rub on a little oil and season with salt and pepper. Place on top of the potatoes and bake for 10-15 minutes depending on how thick the fish is.

Serve with peas or runner beans or a green salad.


Sunday, 12 April 2020

Chicken & Kale Curry

Our vegetable and meat boxes from bel & Cole are great but at the moment due to the pressure they are under there is no opportunity to swap any of the contents. This has meant that I have a glut of potatoes and kale at the moment and quite a bit of chicken in the freezer. How to combine the two in a tasty way led to this quick but rich curry.

Serves 2

1 onion finely sliced
2 fat cloves of garlic
1 thumb-sized lump of ginger - peeled
1 tsp ground turmeric
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground fenugreek
1/4 tsp chilli powder
250ml coconut milk
1 chicken thigh diced
1 medium potato peeled and diced
1 good handful of kale stripped from the stem and sliced up
6 ripe cherry tomatoes
Small bunch of coriander

Fry the onion in a little oil until softened and starting to colour. Mince the garlic and ginger together and add to the onion. Fry for a few minutes. Add the chicken and potato and fry for a few minutes. Add the spices and a splash of water to stop them burning. Add the tomatoes and kale and again fry for a couple of minutes. Add the coconut milk and simmer until the chicken and vegetables are cooked.

Serve with rice and chopped coriander. 

Seven Vegetable Soup

Crumbs it has been a very long time since my last blog entry! I've not stopped cooking - or eating, but work and a long commute have kept me very busy. However, the lockdown has given me the opportunity to experiment a bit with food again and the time to think and write about food again.
First of all, I know Liz and I have been very lucky. Both of us are able to work from home and so far none of us have contracted the virus. Secondly, we are still getting our regular organic fruit and veg box from Abel & Cole supplemented with an organic meat box from the same company which I subscribed too literally the week before the crisis hit. This has meant that our fridge has been full. Sometimes overfull as our last supermarket delivery from Ocado also came with some fruit and veg from someone else's order by accident (which they couldn't recollect so we suddenly had extra soft fruit and a lot of eggs!).

Anyway on to today's soup which combined a lot of the veg that we had collected in the fridge and 'needed using up. It's simple and hearty and went well with some of the bread I baked the previous day and a slice of cheese. The trick here is to use a mix of veg all cut up so as to cook at the same time.

Serves 3-4

1 tablespoon oil
1 rasher smoked bacon - finely diced
1 large leek - sliced
1 medium potato - diced
1 carrot - diced
2 small parsnips - peeled and diced
1/2 sweetcorn cob - kernels sliced from the cob
2 sticks of celery - diced
1/4 cauliflower - broken into florets, stems sliced
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp turmeric
1.5 ltr stock (veg or chicken)
Small bunch of parsley

Fry the bacon until crisp. Scoop out and keep for later as a garnish. Fry the leeks until softened then add the remainder of the vegetables. Stir in the oil until coated then add the turmeric and bay leaf. Stir again then add the stock. Bring to the boil then simmer for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked. Blend with a stick blender. If the soup is too thick add more stock or possibly milk to dilute. Taste and season. Serve in bowls with chopped parsley and the crispy bacon and possibly a swirl of yogurt or cream if you are feeling fancy.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Stir-Fried Kale with Mushrooms, Garlic and Ginger

Yes, it's been a while since my last blog post. I've not stopped cooking or eating but lots of other things have happened over the last 18 months. First I was made redundant from my IT job of 23 years and then at the start of this year I was diagnosed with Type-2 diabetes which has meant that I have had to modify my diet a bit. I now have a new job (5 days a week rather than 4 (boo) but it is at a great institution (the National Archives at Kew) so I'm very busy so quick and easy food is the way to go. I'm no Jamie Oliver but one can try! This serves two and can be on the table in 20 minutes.


300g of kale (or savoy cabbage) stems removed and shredded into bite sized pieces
1 small onion finely sliced
50g of chestnut mushrooms sliced
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and shredded
3 cloves of garlic finely sliced
one dried chilli (optional)
2 tablespoons of rape seed oil
2 tablespoons of oyster sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
6 tablespoons of water


Get your wok heating while you shred the kale, garlic, mushrooms, onion and garlic.
Heat the oil in the wok then add the onions garlic chilli (if using) and ginger. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes over a high heat then add the mushrooms. Keep stir frying for a minute then add the kale. Stir fry for 3 minutes until the kale has wilted then add the oyster sauce, soy sauce and water. Stir fry for a minute then put a lid on and turn the heat down for 5 minutes until the kale is cooked.

Serve with noodles of boiled rice.


If you have some cold roast meat, shred it and add along with the kale.
Some toasted cashews or peanuts would add an extra crunch if tossed in at the end of the cooking.