Recipe – Rose & Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I adapted this from a recipe that my sister gave me, which called for the finished cookies to be dunked in melted chocolate but I felt that was a bit like gilding the lily.

With or without a coating of chocolate, these rich, buttery cookies are simply delightful, perhaps with a nice cup of tea.

Rose & Lemon Shortbread Cookies


(Makes  approx 15 cookies)


7oz (200g) of butter at room temperature

3.5 oz (100g) of sugar

The finely shredded zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of rose syrup or rose water to taste

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

11 oz (300g) of plain all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

2 heaped tablespoons of dried edible rose petals


Start by beating the butter, sugar, rose syrup (or if you’re using rosewater, add a little at a time and check it for taste), lemon zest and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Carefully fold in the flour and rose petals, mixing together until you have a dough. Scrape the dough onto a flat surface and scoop into a ball then roll it out to about 9 inches (25cm) square or round. Transfer to a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 340F (170C)

Line a baking tray with parchment and cut the chilled dough with your favorite cookie cutter or into small rectangles. Prick the cookies with a fork and transfer them to the parchment lined baking tray.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool completely then dust the cookies with powdered sugar. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container but I doubt you’ll have them that long, they’re that good.

Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Desserts | Leave a comment

Recipe – Asian Pork & Eggplant Stir-Fry

A quick and tasty supper dish with lots of Asian flavors, this delicious bowl of spiced pork, chili, eggplant, ginger, garlic and rice will be on the table within 30 minutes. Even less if you used that quick-cook rice but I like the chewy nuttiness of the whole grain variety which can take 35-40 minutes, so just use whatever rice you prefer.

You can cook the eggplant ahead – just keep it covered at room temperature if you’re planning to make the dish the same day. You can also marinate the pork overnight if you prefer – keep it covered in the fridge and bring it back to room temp before you’re ready to assemble the meal.

Asian Pork & Eggplant Stir-Fry


(Enough for 4)

7oz (200g) of rice

2 medium-large eggplants (aubergines) trimmed and each cut into about 8 wedges of equal size, skins slashed and lightly seasoned

3 tablespoons of hi-temp cooking oil such as avocado or peanut

3 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce

Approx 9 oz (250g) of lean ground pork

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil

1 heaped teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice powder

1 teaspoon of corn starch

4-6 green onions (scallions/spring onions) sliced finely on the diagonal

1 red chili, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of honey

Fresh cilantro (coriander) to serve


Start by combining the pork with the sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of the tamari/soy sauce, ginger, garlic, Chinese 5-spice powder and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix well and set it aside (cover and chill if making ahead).

While the rice is cooking (according to packet instructions), heat the avocado or peanut oil in a large deep sauté pan or wok until it’s shimmering hot then cook the eggplant wedges, turning them once until they’re brown in patches on both sides and floppily soft. Transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce over them – giving it a bit of a stir. You can do this ahead, just cover with cling film and leave them at room temp.

Once the rice has cooked and is ‘resting’ for a few minutes and you’re ready to put everything together, pour half a tablespoon of oil in the pan/wok, turn the heat up and stir fry the pork along with any remaining marinade for about 4 minutes.

When the pork is cooked through, add the sliced green onions, chili, honey and eggplant. Stir fry for another 2-3 minutes then serve the pork mixture on top of rice in warm bowls, topped with a few cilantro leaves.

You could also make this with ground turkey or chicken.





Posted in Indian & Asian Cuisine, Made in Under 30 mins, Meat | 2 Comments

Recipe – Risotto with Saffron & Lemon Zest

What could be more comforting than a bowl of creamy risotto, scented with saffron and lemon?

‘Risotto Milanese’ is one of my favorites and like all risotto, it’s ready in under 30 minutes, making this a wonderful supper dish for those days when you’re feeling a bit lazy or perhaps slightly hung over. Vegetarians can replace the chicken stock with a good vegetable broth – and pass around some extra freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano for those that need it…

Risotto with Saffron & Lemon Zest

RISOTTO MILANESE (with Saffron & Lemon Zest)

(4 Servings)


A splash of olive oil

1 oz (30g) of butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

11 oz (300g) of Arborio (risotto) rice

A generous pinch of saffron, preferably La Mancha

7 fl oz (200ml) of dry white wine

1 pint (500ml) of organic chicken or vegetable broth combined with 1 pint (500ml) of water

Zest and juice of half a smallish lemon

2 oz (50g) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve


Bring the stock and water to a low simmer. Heat the oil and butter in a wide heavy sauté pan/skillet and gently cook the shallot until it’s translucent, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes then add the rice and saffron – give it a good stir to coat the rice and add the white wine. Turn up the heat and boil until all the wine is absorbed, then add two ladles-full of the very hot stock/water to the rice. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and repeat until you’ve used all the liquid, stirring regularly.

After about 20 minutes the rice should be ‘al dente’ that is, still very slightly firm. You don’t want mushy rice.

Take it off the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes then stir in the grated cheese, lemon zest and juice and if you’re feeling particularly naughty, some extra butter.

Serve immediately in warm bowls with extra cheese to pass around.


Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites

With ingredients such as mashed avocado, sweet potato, coconut milk and almond butter, you might be forgiven for thinking these might taste weird but in fact they’re intensely chocolaty, dense and moist. A perfect little dessert bite that’s gluten, dairy and sugar-free; although I suppose maple syrup is tree sugar  – but there’s no sugar of the regular kind to be found this recipe.

In any event, they’re really easy to make and you don’t have to be a raving vegan to enjoy them!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites


(Makes approx 20 small bites)


1/2 cup (120ml measure) of mashed ripe avocado

1/2 cup (120ml) of cooked sweet potato, mashed

1/2 cup (120ml) of almond butter

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/4 cup (60ml) of coconut milk

3 tablespoons of organic cacao powder

1/2 cup (120ml) of organic dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup (60ml) of flaked almonds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325F (160C)

Line the bottom of a 9 x 4 inch (23cm x 10cm) loaf pan with baking parchment and spray the pain with cooking oil.

Put all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips and almonds (if using) into a food processor and pulse until well blended, then fold in the chocolate chips and almonds.

Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes – remove  from the oven and cool it in the pan before turning out and cutting into small squares.

These will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.




Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts, Vegan | Leave a comment

Recipe – Moroccan Spiced Salmon

Full of aromatic, vibrant Mediterranean flavors, this recipe transforms a simple salmon fillet into something a bit special without much effort – and couscous takes care of itself once you’ve added the hot water. The whole thing takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare.

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous


(Enough for Two)


3.5oz (100g) of couscous

Small bunch of mint, chopped

Small bunch of cilantro (coriander leaf) chopped

1 teaspoon of preserved lemon finely chopped (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3 medium tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of honey

A few thin slices of lemon plus the juice of half a lemon

Two 6 oz (170g) fillets of salmon, skin removed


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid, add the spices and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, honey, lemon juice and about 3 tablespoons of water. Season and simmer until the tomatoes soften (approx 6 minutes).

Meanwhile, pour 4 fl oz (100 ml) of boiling water over the couscous and minced preserved lemon (if using) in a bowl,  then cover it with cling film and set aside.

Add the salmon to the tomato mixture, then cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through. Add a little more water if needed and remove from the heat.

Fluff the couscous with a fork, add the chopped mint and cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil, tossing to combine well. Check the seasoning and pile it into warmed serving bowls.

Top with salmon and the tomato mixture to serve.




Posted in Fish | 3 Comments

Recipe – Potato & Apple Cake

What do you do when the weather is dreadful, you can’t be tempted outside to shop for groceries and you need to make a dessert?

Well you’ll probably make something with what you already have – and in my case, it didn’t amount to much; a few potatoes, a jar of organic unsweetened apple sauce and a tub of crème fraîche.

The end result is an unusual and surprisingly good cake that’s not too sweet and should be eaten while still warm, with a dollop of buttery-rich crème fraîche (or vanilla ice cream). A rather nostalgic cake for me, as the taste and texture reminds me of the wonderful steamed apple dumplings that Mum used to make.

Best of all, it’s ridiculously easy.

Potato & Apple Cake


(Serves 4-6)


1lb (450g) of red-skinned potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks

1 oz (28g) of butter

1 teaspoon of sugar

A pinch of sea salt

4 oz (113g) of plain flour

Approx 3/4 pint (350ml) of unsweetened apple sauce or stewed apple

Cinnamon sugar to serve


Butter a smallish loose-based cake pan and preheat the oven to 350F.

Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until cooked then drain and mash with the butter.

While the mash is still warm, gradually sift in the flour, sugar and a pinch of salt and beat it with a wooden spoon until you have a stiff dough.

Knead the dough lightly until smooth then divide it in half.

Roll half into a circle to fit the base of the buttered pan. Top with the apple sauce, being careful not to get it too close to the edge.

Roll out the remaining dough into another circle, place on top of the apple and press down the edge carefully. Bake for 50 minutes.

Remove it from the oven, release the springform pan and sprinkle the cake with cinnamon sugar.

Let it sit for a couple of minutes to cool before slicing and serving.



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Recipe – Kale & Brie Mash

Vegetarians can ignore the sausages because kale and brie mash is deeply satisfying and makes a perfect supper on a chilly winter evening, sausage or no sausage. I just happened to have some locally made duck sausages that I wanted to serve with something a bit special.

You could even throw in a pork or lamb chop but why bother? They won’t be missed unless you’re  a strict carnivore.

Kale & Brie Mash


(Enough for 4 people, or 6 as a side dish)


7fl oz (200ml) of milk

3 small sprigs of fresh thyme

2lbs (1kg) of russet potatoes, peeled and cut into smallish chunks of equal size

3 bay leaves

2 large cloves of garlic, peeled

1 oz (30g) of butter

7 oz (200g) of ready to eat baby kale

A bunch of scallions/spring onions sliced into 1 inch (2cm) pieces

3.5 – 4 oz (100g) of Brie, thinly sliced

1 oz (30g) of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Cover the potatoes with water, add the garlic, bay leaves and a good pinch of salt and bring it to the boil. Simmer for 10-15 minutes until tender then drain, discarding the bay leaves but keeping the garlic.  Return the potatoes and garlic to the pan and shake around to steam away any remaining water.

While the potatoes are cooking, bring the milk and thyme leaves to almost boiling point then remove from the heat and allow to infuse. Once the potatoes have dried off  in their pan,  add half of the butter, the thyme-infused milk (discarding the thyme) and a good grind of black pepper. Mash together, adding more butter if you think it needs it, adjust the seasoning, cover and set it aside to keep warm while you prepare the kale.

Heat the remaining butter in a wide pan, add the kale and onions, and sauté for a couple of minutes until they’re soft and wilted.

Mix the greens and both cheeses into the warm mash, adding more black pepper and sea salt if you think it needs it.

Pile everything into a warmed bowl to serve, perhaps  with a scattering of extra Parmesan on top.

Keep any leftovers covered in the fridge. They can be gently warmed through, covered with foil and dotted with a little extra butter.









Posted in Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment