Tuesday, 17 February 2009


Serves two – serve on a bed of green salad.

2 large Onions
3 fl oz Olive Oil
3 fl oz Chinese rice wine
1 tbsp Honey
Freshly ground black Pepper
4 sprigs fresh thyme leaves
4 oz fresh breadcrumbs
3 oz butter
3 oz flaked almonds
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 clove Garlic, finely chopped
Green salad to serve.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C

2. Remove the onion outer skins and cut each to half way with a sharp knife. Then cut again to half way at a right angle. You should now have a cross shape that goes half way down the onion. Then make another two cuts to a quarter of the way down forming eight divisions but not separating the onion at all.
3. Put the onions in a roasting tin and drizzle the olive oil over them. Season with salt and pepper and place the sprigs of Thyme across the top.
4. Cover the tray with foil and put in the oven for an hour.
5. Remove the onions from the oven and take the foil off. Drain away the olive oil and pour the rice wine and honey into the roasting tin. Return to the oven until nicely roasted – about 15 to 30 minutes.
6. In a dry frying pan, gently toast the almonds without burning them.
7. Pre-heat the grill. Put the breadcrumbs, butter, flaked almonds, parsley and garlic into a bowl and mix well.
8. Remove the onions from the oven. open out the leaves a bit and press the filling into all the spaces.
9. Grill under a hot grill for 3 to five minutes or until golden brown.
10. Serve on top of a bed of green salad.


I don’t like Monosodium glutamate. I have known for years that if I eat a dish (usually a take-away) that has too much MSG in it I get a migraine. I also get an upset stomach (not related to the migraine stomach). The potential ill-effects caused by MSG were first described in a medical journal as ‘Chinese Restaurant Syndrome'. Symptoms including numbness and palpitations were reported shortly after visiting a Chinese restaurant. Such claims have never been specifically linked to MSG however, and could be due to common allergies to ingredients like peanuts and shellfish. MSG has been linked to many conditions including migraines, asthma, depression and Alzheimer's, but has never been isolated as a cause. Huge amounts of MSG have been fed to humans without causing ill-effects, and MSG is considered a safe additive by every government which tests these things. For all its testing I’m pretty sure it has an adverse effect on me and interestingly I have a neurodegenerative disease and MSG has now been implicated in a number of neurodegenerative diseases, including ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and Huntington's disease.

I have now heard rumours that MSG lacerates your taste buds – that’s how it enhances flavours. The problem is that the taste buds then scar over and that reduces their effectiveness in the future. I don’t know if there is any truth in the rumours but it’s one more thing to put me of it.

All in all I think I shall continue to avoid it – after all, my cooking must be pretty poor if it needs a chemical additive to make it eatable.

Sunday, 15 February 2009


This creates about five medium sized rissoles.
As an alternative the tuna fish can be replaced by a tin of corned beef (chopped and broken into small pieces) or 6 to 8 oz of grated cheese (Cheddar or Double Gloucester preferred). I never weigh cheese so I hope I’ve got the amount right!
Serve with salad or baked beans.

Four large potatoes or the equivalent
3 oz butter
1 tbsp Olive Oil
1/3 cup plain white flour
Flour to cover lightly
2 tins of Tuna Fish (in oil or brine as preferred)
Fresh ground pepper

Boil the potatoes and mash well with 2oz butter.
Drain the oil or brine from the tuna fish.
Add the flour and tuna fish to the potato, season and stir well.
Cover your hands in flour and take a small handful of the mixture (ouch, hot!) and pat it into an oval about three quarters of an inch (2cm) thick, then add a sprinkling of flour to the surface.
Put the other 1oz of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan and heat it up.
Put the rissoles in the frying pan and turn occasionally until both sides are a crisp golden brown.
Serve with baked beans or a green salad.

Saturday, 14 February 2009


Don’t try doing this at a moment’s notice. It takes a fair while but hopefully you’ll find it’s worth it. It also sounds complicated but it is actually just a lot of easy stages. This serves four.

900g/2lb chuck steak, cut into 5cm/2in cubes
500ml/17½fl oz red wine
100g/3½oz bacon lardons
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
30g/1oz plain flour
30g/1oz tomato purée
250ml/9fl oz chicken stock
16 small shallots
300g/10½oz button mushrooms
50g/2oz butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme
1 bay leaf
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
fresh parsley, chopped
rice or boiled potatoes

1. Place the beef, red wine, thyme, bay leaf and garlic into a large bowl. Cover and marinate in the fridge for at least two hours, preferably overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/Gas 3.
3. Heat the vegetable oil in a pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon lardons and fry until crisp and golden-brown.
4. Remove the beef from the marinade. Reserve the marinade liquid for later. Add the beef to the pan and cook until brown on all sides. Remove the beef from the pan.
5. Add the onion and carrot to the same pan and fry for 5-6 minutes, until softened.
6. Return the beef to the pan and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
7. Sprinkle with the flour, stir well and cook for a further two minutes.
8. Add the tomato purée, stir to combine and cook for four minutes.
9. Add the wine marinade and the chicken stock and bring to the boil.
10. Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for two hours.
11. Towards the end of the cooking time, melt half of the butter in a frying pan over a low heat. Add the shallots and fry for 10-12 minutes, until golden-brown all over.
12. In a separate frying pan, melt the remaining butter and fry the mushrooms until golden-brown all over.
13. Remove the beef casserole from the oven and carefully strain the sauce into a clean pan. Reserve the beef and vegetables. Bring the sauce to the boil and cook to reduce the volume by half.
14. Return the reserved beef and vegetables to the pan of reduced sauce and add the cooked shallots and mushrooms. Simmer for three minutes, stirring occasionally.
15. To serve, spoon equal portions of the beef bourguignon onto warmed plates. Garnish with parsley and serve with rice or boiled potatoes.

Thursday, 12 February 2009


This is a simple way to use any vegetables that are getting past their best. The end result can be frozen in portions and brought out whenever you fancy some soup.

1 Leek
5 medium Potatoes
5 Carrots
1 tin Chopped Tomatoes
5 teaspoons Bouillon
2 tbsp Pearl Barley
2 tbsp Red Lentils
½ tbsp Mixed Herbs
1 Clove of Garlic
Any other vegetables you want to use – for example, Green Beans, Broccoli, Onion, Peas, or Cabbage – but, in my experience not Swede, Parsnip or Brussels Sprouts as they seem to ‘turn’ the flavour.
Note you can get Vegan Bouillon so this can be a real vegetarian recipe.

Peel and chop the vegetables fairly finely.
Bring to the boil 3 pints water.
Add the Bouillon and stir.
Add the tin of tomatoes (or rather the contents of the tin!) and some freshly ground pepper.
Chop the Garlic clove finely and add to the water.
Add the Pearl Barley and Lentils and simmer for ten minutes.
Add the remainder of the vegetables.
Simmer for 20 minutes.
Remove from the heat and test for taste. Bouillon is salty so it is doubtful that you will need to add salt.
Using as hand blender, thin the soup to your own preference. Be CAREFUL – remember that the soup is almost at boiling point so do not splash your hand. Note that the soup will thicken as it cools so you may want to add a bit more boiling water at this stage. So long as you don’t add too much water it should not alter the taste too drastically.

This shows two different thicknesses of soup according to the amount of blending and additional water.

Sunday, 8 February 2009


A simple recipe that gives you plenty of exercise preparing the meat and jiggling the frying pan.

3 skinless chicken breasts – around 150 g each
2 tbsp plain flour
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp butter
1 garlic clove, crushed
4 bay leaves
2 tbsp capers, well rinsed
125ml dry white wine
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
(To serve, green salad)

Place each chicken breast between two sheets of cling film or greaseproof paper and bash flat with a meat mallet or rolling pin. Make it as thin as possible, almost breaking up.
Tear the chicken into little rags with your fingers, and toss lightly in the flour, seasoned with salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil and butter in a large, heavy-based frying pan. When hot, add the chicken, scattering the pieces so they don’t clump together. Instead of stirring, move the pan on the heat and flip the chicken pieces until lightly golden, so they jump in the pan.
Add the garlic, bay leaves, capers, sea salt and pepper. Remove the pan from the heat, add the wine, and return to a high heat. Let the wine bubble away, again jiggling the pan like crazy.
When there is only a little wine left, add the lemon juice and parsley leaves, and jiggle the pan until the sauce comes together and looks creamy. Serve immediately.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Bacon and Garlic Pasta

I have been reminded that it is a while since I inputted any recipes so here’s a quick pasta meal to be going on with

8 oz smoked bacon
4 oz garlic cream cheese (such as Boursin)
5 fl oz single cream
4 oz frozen peas (defrosted)
12 oz pasta such as penne
olive oil
salt and pepper


Cook the pasta in boiling salted water; drain and drizzle over a little olive oil to stop it from sticking together.
While the pasta is cooking, grill or fry the bacon until crispy, then drain on kitchen towel and cut into very small pieces.
Melt the cream cheese in a saucepan with the cream and keep stirring until smooth.
Add the peas and baocn to the sauce and mix well.
Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Add the pasts to the saucepan and continue to heat and stir over a low heat until the mixture is thoroughly hot again.
Hey presto, that’s it...