Edible gifts, Preserves, Something sweet

Homomade lemon curd

lemon curdLemon curd is much easier and quicker than you might think to make and makes a great change from jam on your toast and can be used as a filling for cakes too. I can remember making it at school so that proves how simple it is. This recipe will make 2 small jars double the quantities to make more, it makes a great gift. You can substitute the lemons for limes if they are easier to come by, you’ll probably need 3 or 4 limes, depending on their size.

So what do you need?

  • 2 lemons
  • 2 large free-range eggs
  • 80 g sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter
  • 2 tsp corn flour

So what do you do?

In a thick bottomed saucepan beat the eggs with a balloon whisk. Then add the sugar, butter and corn flour. Grate the zest of the lemons into the pan and then squeeze the lemons and add the juice to the pan to. Then on medium heat bring the mixture to a boil whisking all the time to stop it catching. Then reduce the heat and simmer for a minute, continuing whisking. Turn off the heat and immediately pout into two warm sterilized jam jars. Put a disc of baking parchment on top of the curd to seal it and then put the lids on. Label and keep in the fridge It’s probably best to eat it within a month, which shouldn’t be a problem.


Beetroot soup

beet soup

This makes a lovely colourful and healthy soup, a great lunch, starter, or light meal served with some fresh bread. This will make 4-6 portions and can be served hot or chilled.


I started by frying a chopped red onion in olive oil and then I added 3 cloves of crushed garlic and some salt and ground pepper. If you want some extra zing add some crushed, or grated, fresh ginger too about an equal quantity to the garlic. When they were softened I added 800g of grated (peeled) beetroot and 200g of grated radish. I have grown hybrid radishes by accident a cross between small salad radishes a large white daikon radishes, so I used these. They add a peppery sweetness to the soup.

I then added 1 liter of homemade vegetable stock, some chopped dill and a few bay leaves. I brought the soup to the boil and simmered for about 20 mins and allowed to cool a bit before taking out the bay leaves and blending it with a stick blender. You can use a liquidizer but just do a little at a time to avoid it splashing out. I then heated the soup through and tasted it. At this point season to your taste and add more stock if necessary. I served the soup with a dollop of sour cream (you can use yoghurt instead). I added a crushed clove of garlic, some chopped dill and a little salt and freshly grown pepper to a small (150g) pot of sour cream. I served it with onion focaccia bread.

Baking, Veggie mains

Veggie shepherd’s pie

shep pieThis makes a great colourful and wholesome meal with rich earthy flavours from the beetroot and the lentils. If you don’t have / like beetroot add more of the other veg. or substitute it for finely chopped aubergine instead. This recipe will serve four people.

I started by boiling a kilo of potatoes in salted hot water to make the mash. I also separately boiled about a cup (or just under) of brown lentils, both will take 15-20 mins to cook. If you prefer use a tin of pre-cooked lentils.

While they are cooking, in a deep casserole pot (mine is 20 cm diameter) I fried a medium-sized finely chopped onion in some olive oil and then I added a couple of cloves of crushed garlic and a out 200g of finely chopped mushrooms and half a tsp of salt and sautéed this while I chopped a courgette into small cubes and added this to the pot (if you want you can grate it and add it at the next stage). Next I grated a peeled raw beetroot (or a couple if they are small) and a smallish peeled carrot and added them to the pot along with a few chopped porcini mushrooms (optional), a few bay leaves, some ground black pepper, half a teaspoon of marmite (yeast extract), and a splash of water, or red wine if you have some open. This will help bring the juices out of the veg. you shouldn’t need to add too much extra liquid. I then covered the casserole dish and simmered it on a low heat for about 10 mins. stirring occasionally.

At this point you can pre-heat your oven to about 190 degrees C / 375 F. I strained the lentils and added them to the casserole and continued to simmer everything, covered, for a few minutes while I mashed the potatoes with a clove of crushed garlic, some pepper and some milk and butter until they were light and fluffy. Next I mixed a couple of tsp of veggie gravy thickener (or you can use cornflour) with some water and added this to the casserole and heated it through. This will thicken the veggie mixture, you don’t want too much liquid but you do want some gravy. I then spooned the mashed potatoes on top and spread them out, with a fork, to seal the pie. The fork ‘lines’ will make the mash nice and crispy on top when it’s cooked. This can then go in the oven for about 25 minutes until golden brown on top. If you make the pie in advance it will probably need an extra 10-15 mins in the oven to heat through.

While it’s in the oven you can cook some greens, or other veggies of your choice, to go with it. If you like gravy then make some extra gravy to serve with it too. If you don’t have an oven then you can finish the pie off under a grill instead.

Something fruity, Something sweet

Black forest trifle


The last time I tried to make a Black Forest Gateaux it turned into an avalanche cake, it cracked and fell apart, so I thought that making it in the confines of a bowl as a trifle might be a safer bet. It worked really well and looked so much more pretty!

So what will you need?

  • plain chocolate sponge
  • half a jar (or a bit more) of morello cherry jam
  • a cup (or more) of pitted dark cherries in light syrup / juice
  • 4 (or more) tbsp. of kirsch
  • 500ml whipping cream
  • some dark chocolate to decorate

so what do you do?

I made a simple chocolate sponge in two cake tins, you can use shop bought sponge if you prefer. Ideally you’ll need at least 3 layers of sponge so if to make a them yourself you can either make three thin ones or cut thicker ones in half. First I put a layer of sponge in the bottom of my trifle bowl. Then I mixed some of the juice from the cherries and the kirsch with the jam to make it runny and smeared a third of it over the sponge and then sprinkled over a third of the cherries. I then spread over about a quarter of the whipped cream and repeated this two more times, keeping more cream for the topping. I then grated some dark chocolate on the top and covered it in cling film  put it in the fridge of a few hours before serving. It’s delicious and can be made a day ahead if you prefer.


Colourful, crunchy coleslaw

cloeslawI love homemade coleslaw and normally make quite a simple one but this is a more colourful version with more of a variety of veggies in it and has extra crunch from peanuts and sesame seeds. I also added some toasted cumin seeds too which brought a great deeper flavour to the coleslaw. I use half mayo and half natural yoghurt to make it a bit healthier too.

I started by toasting  a couple of handfuls of unsalted  & uncooked peanuts in a dry pan as they began to brown I added a tsp of cumin seeds (optional) and a couple of tablespoons of sesame seeds and lowered the heat a little and roasted these until the sesame seeds went golden and then I put these to one side to cool. Next I finely chopped half a red cabbage, half a white cabbage, a red onion and a bulb of fennel and put them all in a large mixing bowl, then I used a feeler to shave a carrot into strips (you can grate it if you prefer). I also added the nuts and seeds, some dill and the put in about 3 heaped tablespoons of mayonnaise and the same of plain yoghurt and a little squeeze of lime and a pinch of two of salt and mixed it together. I don’t like my coleslaw to be swimming in mayonnaise so add as much mayo & yoghurt as you like. I often serve coleslaw with homemade pizzas.

Any leftover veggies will make a nice stir fry another day.

stir fry

Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet, Tarts

Lemon / lime cheese tart


This makes a beautiful dessert. It’s a tart tart with, nice and lemony but also creamy. It can be made with a lemon or a couple of limes depending what you have available.

So what do you need?

For the pastry

  • 250g sifted plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1tbsp icing sugar
  • 125g unsalted butter
  • pinch salt
  • the yolk of a free range egg
  • a few tbsp cold water

For the filling

  • 75g caster sugar
  • 1 lemon / 2 limes
  • 350g cream cheese
  • 1 egg and the yolks of 3 more free range eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence

So what do you do?

Start by making the pastry. I put the butter, salt, sugar and flour in my food processor and blended it together to form breadcrumbs then I added the egg yolk and blended again it should start to come together but may need a tbsp. or two of cold water to come together into a ball. Then put this in a plastic bag / cling film and allow to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Then grease a 23/24cm loose leaf tart tin. Take the pastry out of the fridge and allow if to come to soften for a few minutes and then roll it out so that it will cover your tart tin. Line the tart tin with the pastry, prick the bottom of the pastry in a few places with a fork, and put it in the fridge for about 10 mins while your oven heats up to 200 degrees F / 400C. Then cover the pastry with foil pushed down into the tin and fill it with dried beans, this will stop the pastry rising, and blind bake it in the oven for 10 mins. then remove the lining and put back in the oven to dry out. You can then ‘paint’ the pastry case with egg white and put it back in the oven for about 3 mins to seal it. Then take the pastry case out of the oven.

While you are blind baking the pastry  you can make the filling. Put the sugar and the grated zest of the lemon or limes in your food processor (or a bowl) and blend together until the zest dissolves and the sugar becomes damp. Then add the vanilla essence and the juice of the lemon / limes and mix together. Next add cream cheese and eggs and mix everything together to a smooth batter and then pout this into the pastry case  and put it back in the oven to bake for about 25 minutes until set and golden on top. Keep an eye on it as a couple of minutes can make the difference from golden to burnt. Allow to cool and serve with a dusting of icing sugar.

This is from a recipe in


Thai Food, Veggie mains

Mushroom “Tom Kha” risotto

risottoTom Kha is a delicious Thai soup flavoured with galangal, lemon grass, chilli, lime and coconut milk. It’s a mild creamy version of “Tom Yam” and is normally made with chicken and mushrooms. I’ve used these flavours to make a risotto, I first had something similar to this at Chiang Dao Nest, great food in the mountains in Chiang Dao! I’ve taken the risotto one step closer to a Thai dish by topping it with crispy Thai herbs and spices, inspired by Café de Nimman Restaurant in Chiang Mai. It’s really tasty and healthier than a butter, cheesy risotto, I’d highly recommend giving it a go. This will make 3-4 portions depending how much you eat.

I started by making my “Tom Kha” stock. In a pan I put a small onion, the trimmings from my mushrooms, a few coriander roots,, a few cloves of crushed garlic, three crushed lemongrass stems, a crushed piece if galngal, a few torn kaffir lime leaves and a couple of (not too spicy) chillies and a tsp of light (mushroom) soy sauce. I added over a liter of water and brought this to the boil and then simmered it for 30 mins. The stock will give off a great fragrance.

Next in a thick-bottomed, deep-sided frying pan (with a lid preferably) I fried a medium sized chopped onion in some coconut oil for a couple of minutes then added a couple of cloves of crushed garlic, a sliced large red chilli (or two), and 300g of mushrooms (I use eryncii & buna shimeji but other mushrooms such as oyster mushrooms would work well too). I fried these all together for a few minutes then added a splash of light (mushroom) soy sauce. Then I added 200g of rice (I use Japanese rice for risottos as it’s easier to find, and cheaper, than Italian rice here in Thailand.  I (fried the rice until it became translucent and then I poured in some of my hot stock to cover the rice completely and then added 150 mls of coconut milk. I brought this to the boil then covered it with a lid and simmered it stirring every 5 minutes and adding more hot stock. Traditionally with risotto you don’t cover it and stir in more or less constantly I think this is to release as much starch from the rice as possible, but for this dish I don’t find that necessary. It will take about 20 minutes for the rice to cook. In the meantime I prepared some Thai herbs and spices to garnish my dish and steamed some green beans, the beans add a nice crunch to the dish. I finely sliced the more tender insides of three lemongrass stems lengthways, julienned a large red chilli, sliced 3 cloves of garlic and tore a few kaffir lime leaves.Thai herbsIn a wok with some hot oil I started by frying the lemon grass and kaffir lime leaves, as they take a little longer, after about a minute I added the chilli, garlic and a couple of handfuls of cashew nuts and fried everything until it was golden and crisp and then drained them. You can use large dried chillis instead, of the fresh one, which will go crisp and can be crumbled on the risotto for an extra kick of spiciness (these don’t take long to cook so add them near the end of the frying process.)

When the risotto rice is cooked and most of the liquid has evaporated I added a couple of chopped spring onions and some chopped coriander and the juice of a lime and turned off the heat and stirred this in. Add half the lime and taste it before adding it all, at this point you add a bit more lime or more soy sauce if necessary. Try to get a balance of flavours it should be fragrant from the herbs with a mild taste of chilli and not be too sweet (from the coconut) or sour (from the lime).

I put the green beans in the bottom of my serving bowls and then put the risotto on top and then garnished with the crispy herbs and nuts, you can also sprinkle some coriander on top too if you like.