The Basics, Veggie mains

Fresh tomato sauce for pasta



If you grow your own tomatoes, or come across really good in season tomatoes in the market, then this is a great simple meal that really lets the flavour of the tomatoes shine. The flavour of the sauce will depend on the quality of the tomatoes you use as they are the basis of the dish. This will make a large bowl of pasta to serve 4- 5 people.

So what do you need?

  • 1.5kg tomatoes
  • An medium- sized onion
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Herbs (bay leaves / a bouquet garni, a handful of fresh basil)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 dried chillies (optional)

So what do I do?

If you’d rather not have the tomato skills in your sauce then peel them by either steaming them or blanching them in boiling water for a couple of minutes, until you see splits appear in their skin. Let them cool for a while so you can peel them. Meanwhile chop the onion finely and fry it in in the olive oil in a thick bottomed pan, as it begins to soften add the garlic (crushed) and peel the tomatoes. Then chop the tomatoes into chunks, keeping any juice from them. Add the chopped tomatoes to the pan and 3 or 4 bay leaves (or a bouquet garni) and add about 1/2 a tsp salt and some freshly ground pepper, if you want an arrabiata sauce then add the chillies at this point too.

Once the tomatoes have heated through simmer on a low heat stirring occasionally. The time this it takes to cook will vary depending on how juicy your tomatoes are but don’t rush this it’ll take about an hour. The sauce will thicken up as the tomatoes cook and the liquid evaporates. As the sauce reduces the flavours will intensify. Once the sauce seems almost done, taste it and season as necessary and add  most of the basil leaves, roughly torn and simmer for a few more minutes. Meanwhile cook your pasta. You will have enough sauce to go with 400 a 500g pasta, depending how much sauce you like with your pasta. Once the pasta is done drain it and then either in the pan or in a large bowl thoroughly coat the pasta in tomatoe sauce and serve with some Parmesan cheese (optional) and garnish with basil leaves.


Veggie mains

Beetroot risotto with vodka & goat’s cheese


This makes a beautiful vibrant risotto. The original recipe I used for beetroot risotto was from Dennis Cotter’s ‘The love of food’ I’ve adapted it a bit and today made it with vodka instead of red wine. This will make four servings.

So what do you need?

  • 600g beetroot
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 4  tbsp olive oil
  • 75 ml vodka
  • 1.3 liters of vegetable stock
  • 300g risotto rice (I use Japanese short grain rice)
  • 100g fresh goat’s cheese
  • 40g of butter
  • 4 radishes
  • handful of dill
  • salt & pepper

So what do you do?

Start by making a vegetable stock, if you don’t have any. I always make pretty big batches that I can use for a few recipes. Then roast the beets in their skins in the oven at 200 degrees C / 400 F. They will take about 45 mins Allow them to cool and in the meantime .

Peel the beets and liquidize half of them and add these to the stock. Chop the rest into cubes and pop them back in the oven with a little olive oil drizzled on them to caramelize while you cook the risotto.

Now make a dill oil to drizzle on the risotto. In a mortar put about 1 tbsp. of chopped dill and a pinch of salt and crush it add 1 1/2 tbsp. of olive oil and 2 tsp. vodka.

Then pour about 2 tbsp. of olive oil in a wide thick based frying pan and heat it up. Chop the onion and slice the garlic and fry for a few mins until it starts to brown, then lower the heat and add the rice and let this toast for a few mins stirring occasionally until it becomes translucent then add the remaining vodka and stir until evaporated. Meanwhile heat up your stock and add a couple of ladles of stock and cook the risotto stirring regularly. As the rice cooks it will absorbed the stock so add a ladle full at a time and cook for about 20mins. Once the rice seems almost cooked, it should retain a little bite allow it to dry out. Then stir in the butter,  roasted beetroot and a tbsp. of chopped dill and season with salt and pepper.

Divide into four bowls and spoon on the goats cheese , scatter with sliced radishes and drizzle with the dill oil and garnish with some dill leaves and ground black pepper. Serve with a green salad of some steam green beans.

Something fruity, Something sweet

Rum laced tropical fruit salad and syllabub

Syllabub is an English dessert made from a mixture of cream and alcohol that’s about 500 years old, so can’t be bad. I remember as a child on holidays in Devon going to a local farm to buy fresh produce, my parents would get themselves syllabub but we had alcohol free yoghurt instead. We were allowed to taste the forbidden fruit and it was delicious! Traditionally it’s made with cider or sweet wine but this version is made with a great locally made, small batch rum called ‘Three Monkeys’ which I thought would work better with my tropical fruit salad. It’s a boozy dessert, your sweet and after dinner drink all in one!  This will make 10 – 12 servings.

You need to start by infusing the alcohol with citrus fruit and sugar. I used a lemon (you can use a couple of lines) and grated the zest of both into a bowl to which I added the juice and 5 tbsp. of sugar I mixed these up and then added 200ml of rum and covered it. (If you don’t want it so strong just reduce the rum to 150mls.)  I left it for a few hours stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolved. You can leave it overnight if you prefer. I then made some roasted coconut to sprinkle on top of the desserts. I grated about 100g of coconut flesh and put it in the sun for a few hours to dry out then sprinkled it with a tsp. of icing sugar and toasted it in the oven  at 125 degrees C / 250 F until it started to go golden brown. You can do the whole process in the oven adding the sugar one it starts drying out, or buy some desiccated coconut but it will be finer and sweeter.

The next step is making the fruit salad use whatever fruit you have in season. Here in Thailand we are coming into a great time of year for fruit so in a bowl I chopped 2 mangos, 3 bananas,  a bowl of strawberries, 6 sapodillas to this I added the pulp of 6 passion fruit, 100ml of rum and 2 tbsp. of muscovado sugar and a grating of fresh ginger (about a tbsp.) and mixed everything together. I put the fruit salad in a container in the fridge for an hour while I made the syllabub. Simply mix the infused rum with 700mls of whipping cream and beat with an electric whisk until it reaches soft peaks. Assemble the dessert by spooning fruit salad and it’s juice into glasses, you want this to make up about half, or just over, the quantity of the dessert. Then spoon on the syllabub. You can now sprinkle on some toasted coconut and  garnish with a couple of mint leaves and serve immediately, or cover the glasses with clingfilm and put them in the fridge and then top them with the coconut and mint just before serving. You might have some syllabub left, it’s also good with baked bananas or caramelised pineapple too.





Veggie mains

Curried pumpkin pasta


This makes a very quick and filling meal, so easy you can even make it for one! The recipe below is for one so multiply as necessary.

So what do you need?

  • 2 tbs coconut oil
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • Pinch of cumin seeds
  • A couple of curry leaves (optional)
  • 1 heaped tsp. curry powder
  • 200g pumpkins flesh
  • 2 spring onions
  • A few coriander leaves
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 100g pasta (spaghetti or fettuccine work well)

So what do you do?

First put on a pan of salted water for the pasta. Then chop the pumpkin flesh into cubes about 2-3 cms in size and steam them for about 5 mins until they start to soften, don’t overlook them. Meanwhile put the pasta on. Next crush the garlic and fry it in the coconut oil, add the curry leaves and then the curry powder and fry until the garlic begins to brown.Then add the steamed pumpkin and the while parts of your spring onion, sliced, and fry for a couple of minutes. Next drain your pasta and add it to the pumpkin along with some of the pasta water just enough to make a bit of a sauce. Then add the chopped greens of your spring onions, a few coriander leaves and crack in the egg. Stir everything together until the egg cooks, don’t let it dry our too much, add a little more pasta water if necessary. Enjoy!

Brunch, Drinks, Something fruity, The Basics

Fruit lassi / smoothie


This is basically breakfast in a glass. It’s a great way to start the day and get plenty of seasonal fruit. I wasn’t going to post this as it’s so simple but whenever I put a smoothie / lassi on Instagram it seems to get lots of attention!

I peel and chop the fruit I am using into my blender. Today I used 1 smallish mango, two small bananas, 3 passion fruit, two in the smoothie and one on top and the juice of some strawberries I’d stewed the other day. I also often put in avocado ( the one I planned to used today had gone off!). Then I put in two heaped tbsp. natural yoghurt. If there is any whey (liquid) on the top of the yoghurt I pour that in first. Then I cover the fruit in liquid either milk, fruit juice or coconut water and blend it. I don’t measure things but it always fills a big 500ml glass. Most blenders have a measure on the jug so you can use this. I then put the pulp of a passion fruit and some of the strawberry juice on top. If I’m using less sweet fruit I sometimes drizzle some honey on top.

Veggie mains

Veggie hotpot

This is a great one-pot meal full of veggie goodness. It’s not really that different from a Shepherd’s pie but instead of mashed potatoes you use sliced one which go lovely a crisp. It’s a traditional dish from Lancashire and reminds me of the TV series Coronation Street where this always seemed the most popular dish in the local pub. This will serve 4 people.

So what do you need?

  • 3-4  tbsp. vegetable / olive oil
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 4 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 250g sliced mushrooms
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 parsnip or 1/2 daikon radish
  • 100g brown lentils
  • 100g pearl barley
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 1 cup peas / chopped green beans
  • 10g porcini mushrooms (optional)
  • 1 tsp. of marmite / 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. dried herbs
  • 1 tbsp. fresh dill (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp. (celery) salt
  • 2 tsp. gravy powder (Bisto) or corn flour
  • 1 tsp. freshly ground pepper
  • 2 large potatoes

So what do you do?

In a 20 – 25cm casserole dish heat up 2 about 2 tbsp. of oil and add the onion and fry for a few minutes then add the garlic, mushrooms and celery salt and fry for a few more minutes. Meanwhile peel and cube the carrot and parsnip / daikon radish and then add these to the pot. Next add the lentils and barley and cover well with stock add the dried herbs, pepper and marmite / soy sauce and cover. Simmer for 30 mins. Check after about 20 mins and stir, and add more stock / water if necessary you want to keep the vegetables just covered in liquid. At this point add the peas / beans, dill and porcini mushrooms and cook for another 10 mins. Mix the gravy powder with a little water and mix it into the veggies, again make sure that there is enough liquid to just cover the veggies. Pre-heat your oven to 200 degrees C / 4000 F. Slice the potatoes thinly and blanch in boiling water for a minute or two and the drain them and toss them in a little oil (or melted butter if you prefer) and a pinch of salt and pepper. Place the potato slices overlapping in layers on top of the casserole and put in the oven for about 45 mins until the potatoes are golden on top. It goes well with some mustard on the side!


Baking, Something sweet

Bread & butter pudding

This is a great way to use up leftover / stale bread and make yourself a delicious pudding with a lovely contrast of textures, soft custardy bread at the bottom and crispy sugary bread on top. It’s a great pudding to make if you have the oven on. This will serve four people.

Pre-heat your oven to 175 degrees C / 350 F. Take eight thin slices of bread and make four marmalade sandwiches with them, buttering the bread and spreading marmalade on them. Then place the sandwiches flat on a bread board and butter the top side and cut the sandwiches diagonally into quarters. Next grease a 2 pint baking dish or 4 ramekins (if you want to make individual puddings) and arrange the sandwiches in the dish with the buttered side and triangle tops facing up. Sprinkle over a handful of sultanas or raisins. Then in a measuring jug mix together 250ml milk, 50ml of cream and two large free-range eggs and beat them together, add 1 tbsp. sugar and a good grating of nutmeg and mix in. Next slowly pour this custard mixture over the sandwiches, the bread will absorb it. Finally, grate some more nutmeg on top and sprinkle a tbsp. of sugar over the top. Bake for about 30 mins until the bread tops are golden brown. (Individual portions will cook a little quicker.) Serve while hot, you can pour some cream over the top if you want to be extra indulgent.