Tagliatelle with Fresh Chanterelles & Pancetta

The chanterelle season seems longer this year and my local Coscto has had boxes and boxes of them for the past 6 weeks – picked then shipped from the wildest wilds of Oregon. I’m not complaining but I am running out of room in my freezer (they freeze brilliantly when sautéed in butter until golden).

So…I feel I have no other choice but to eat a lot of them for as long as they’re available!

If you can’t find chanterelles, use any old ‘shroom.

Fresh Tagliatelle with Chanterelles & Pancetta


(Enough for 4)


2 tablespoons of olive oil

3 oz of pancetta, finely chopped

5-6 fat shallots, minced

1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary, chopped

1-1.5lbs (454 – 680g) of fresh chanterelles, wiped clean of forest debris and cut into similar sized pieces

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.5 cups (300ml) of good chicken stock

1lb (454g) of fresh tagliatelle or pappardelle

Lots of freshly grated parmigiano reggiano cheese – at least a big handful

A scattering of Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped


Heat the olive oil in a wide, deep sauté pan and cook the pancetta until golden. Add the chopped rosemary and shallots and continue to cook, stirring, until the shallots are soft, then add the chanterelles.

Give everything a good grind of salt and black pepper and continue to sauté until the mushrooms are soft, then add the stock – simmer for about 5 minutes while you cook the pasta as directed (fresh pasta only takes about 4 minutes).

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it very quickly and tip it into the pan with the mushrooms; toss thoroughly to combine, then add the grated Parmesan and more black pepper if you like. 

Pile the pasta into a large warmed bowl, scatter parsley on the top and serve with extra Parmesan to go around.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta | 2 Comments

Coconut Rice with Lime and Another Comforting Rice Pudding

A completely gluten, sugar and dairy-free dessert, this soothing rice dish would normally be referred to in the UK as  ‘rice pudding’ but the word ‘pudding’ doesn’t have the same comforting connotation in the US as it does back home. So I won’t call it that.

I used my favorite recent discovery – calorie-free monk fruit sugar, plus a combination of coconut and macadamia nut milks, making this almost entirely guilt free, that is if you don’t count the carbs. Carb-guilt notwithstanding, it’s absolutely delicious.

You can make it in under 30 minutes (not counting 30 minutes to  soak the rice) – and I like to serve it chilled, so make it a day or two ahead and keep it in the fridge, covered with cling film.

I’m including a second recipe for a rice ‘dessert’; this time made with risotto (Arborio) rice and it’s completely fat free, although you’d never know it.

The rice isn’t soaked so the natural rice starch creates a very creamy pudding  that’s sweetened with maple syrup, dotted with plump golden raisins and fragrant with cinnamon and vanilla – its one of the nicest rice puddings I’ve ever tasted. Perfect for fall or winter when you want something to make you feel cozy.

So here they are.

Coconut Rice with Lime Zest


(Serves 4)


1/2 cup (120ml measure) of white Basmati rice

One 14 oz (400ml) can of unsweetened coconut milk

1 1/4 cups (300ml) of unsweetened nut milk (almond or macadamia)

1/3 cup (80ml)  of monk fruit sugar – or 1/2 cup (120ml measure) of regular white sugar

2 heaped teaspoons of finely grated lime zest, chopped

Pinch of salt


Put the rice in a bowl and cover with cold water to soak for 30 minutes – drain.

In a heavy based pan, bring the milk, coconut milk, rice, sugar and a pinch of salt to the boil.

Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally and more frequently towards the end.

Take it off the heat and add the lime zest.

Serve while still warm or better still, make it a couple of days ahead – cover and chill.

And now for the other comfort food recipe:


(Serves 4)


4 cups (960ml) of skim milk (or your favorite unsweetened nut milk)

2/3 cup (160ml measure) of Arborio rice, unwashed

2/3 cup (160ml) of pure maple syrup

1/4 cup (60ml measure) of golden raisins/sultanas

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

1/4 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon and nutmeg


Combine the first four ingredients in a heavy pan and bring to the boil over medium heat, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to a very low simmer, cover with a lid and cook for 50 minutes until creamy, stirring occasionally.

Remove from the heat and stir in the remaining ingredients.

I like this one served warm.

Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts, Made in Under 30 mins, Vegan | Leave a comment

Plum & Almond Custard Tart

I would normally make a tart like this with summer berries, but these late summer plums were so ripe and juicy that I thought I try something different. The result was proclaimed absolutely delicious.

I make pastry from scratch and freeze it in double quantities; likewise the creme patissiere (pastry cream custard filling) so that I can whip up desserts like this with little effort.

If you don’t own a rolling pin, a red wine bottle will do. And don’t be deterred from taking the extra step of making pastry from scratch; its dead easy if you have a food processor and the end result is well worth it!

You’ll need a fluted, loose-based tart tin that’s 1 inch (2cm) deep and 10 inches (25 cm) across.

Note: As an experiment, I made this entirely with monk fruit sugar – a natural calorie-free alternative to regular sugar. Despite feeling mildly anxious, nobody could tell the difference.

Monk fruit sugar is sweeter than regular sugar, so you may want to cut back slightly on the quantities listed here.

Plum & Almond Custard Tart


(Serves 8-10)


1lb (454g) stoned-weight of very ripe plums, peaches or apricots

A small handful of flaked almonds, lightly toasted

For the pastry:

8 oz (227g) of all-purpose (plain) flour

2 tablespoons of fine white sugar

Pinch of salt

6 oz (142g) of chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

Approx 3 tablespoons of iced water

1 large egg yolk

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

For the almond pastry cream filling:

2  cups (500ml) of full cream milk or half & half

A vanilla bean, split lengthwise

2.3oz (66g) of white sugar

1.5oz (40g) of all-purpose/plain flour

2 large eggs

1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract


Make the pastry 24 hrs ahead if you can.

Start by combining the flour, sugar and salt in a processor. Pulse a few times the add the butter pieces. Continue to pulse until it has a fine breadcrumb consistency. Add the egg yolk, vanilla and 3 tablespoons of ice-cold water. Pulse again until you have large clumps, adding a little more water at a time if necessary,  until you do. Scoop the pastry into a ball and flatten it into a disc. Wrap it with cling film and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or preferably overnight.

Make the custard filling next:

In a heavy based saucepan, whisk together the flour, eggs and sugar until it’s pale and a bit voluminous.

In a separate saucepan, heat the milk slowly. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla pod into the milk and the moment it comes to a simmer, take it off the heat and pour a little into the flour and egg mixture, whisking as you go. Add a little more, whisking all the time until you’ve added it all. Put the pan back on the heat and stir continuously until it thickens – take it off the heat the moment it boils. Stir in the almond extract and transfer the custard to a bowl. Drape a sheet of cling film over the top surface to prevent a skin from forming. Chill it completely.

To make the pastry base:

Preheat the oven to 375F/190C. Bring the pastry to room temperature. Roll it out (I like to roll it between two sheets of cling film so I don’t need to flour the board)  and carefully transfer it to the tart pan, pushing it gently into place.  Leave about 1/4 inch (1/2cm) overhanging the top of the pan. Using a fork, prick the base all over, then stick it in the freezer for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, bake it in the preheated oven for 15 minutes. Check to see if the pastry is shrinking from the sides of the tart tin – if it is, just push it gently back in place with a fork. Bake for another 12-15 minutes, remove it from the oven and allow to cool.

To assemble the tart:

Spread the pastry cream into the pastry case. Slice the plums into quarters, toss them in half a teaspoon of sugar and arrange on top of the pastry cream. Flash it under a hot grill for a couple of minutes (watching very carefully as you don’t want the pastry to burn). Scatter the top with flaked almonds.

This tart is best served chilled.


Posted in Desserts | 1 Comment

Jackfruit Curry

I was recently persuaded to try a vegan alternative to meat, chicken and fish in a curry and the alternative was jackfruit, which I’m told is a good meat substitute.

I did a bit of investigating and learned that ripe jackfruit is stickily sweet and dessert-like;  not suitable for savory dishes. However, canned young jackfruit in brine apparently  does the trick.

Keen to see it au-naturel, I ventured into an Asian supermarket in Leeds but found myself reeling at the door due to the most horrific smell I’d ever been assaulted by. It was explained that the malodorous whiff came from a nearby display of a rather similar looking ‘fruit’, the durian. How anyone gets past that awful pong to prep it for eating is beyond me and I staggered away with the smell lingering in my nostrils for several minutes.

Somewhat thwarted, I later checked on Amazon and found that they sell canned young jackfruit in brine and it’s totally odor-free. Success!

I can now confirm that jackfruit does indeed have a wonderful meaty texture and takes on the flavors of whatever it’s cooked with, which in this case is a combination of ginger*, garlic, onion, chili, cumin, garam-masala and tomatoes  – and meat eaters won’t feel deprived.

This is one of those dishes that you need to hover over and attend to – but it doesn’t take that long to make. Vegans can substitute coconut milk for the cream.

*Keep fresh gingerroot in the freezer – no need to peel it as the peel is edible. Frozen ginger is very easy to grate and there’s little to no waste.

Jackfruit Curry


(Serves 4)


10 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

3/4 ounce (20g) of fresh ginger, finely grated*

3 tablespoons of hi-temp vegetable oil

2 red onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon of chili powder (adjust to taste)

3 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped

2 heaped teaspoons of tomato paste

1 teaspoon of garam masala

1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin

10 oz (280g) of young jackfruit, drained weight

2 tablespoons of cream or coconut milk

4 oz (120g) of frozen peas, defrosted

1 teaspoon of runny honey

A handful of fresh cilantro (coriander) leaves, roughly chopped


Heat the oil in a deep sauté pan over a medium heat and  cook the onion until its softened and translucent. Add the ginger, garlic and chili and a good pinch of sea salt and cook, stirring for about 5 minutes.

Add the chopped tomatoes, half of the tomato paste and the drained jackfruit; stir and cook for a couple more minutes, then add 6 fl oz (178ml) of water. Bring it to a simmer and cook for a few more minutes.

Add the garam-masala, cumin and the remaining tomato paste, cook for 3 more minutes stirring occasionally, then add half the cream (or coconut milk). You may need to add more water at this point so keep some hot water on the side in case you need it  – you don’t want the curry to be too dry.

Continue to cook for another 5-10 minutes, allowing all the flavors to combine. You need the jackfruit to be tender so test it with a knife (Jackfruit also shreds like pork, so shred it a bit with two forks if you prefer that type of end result). If it’s not quite tender, keep it simmering, adding more water as needed.

Finally add the peas. Simmer for another 4 minutes then add the honey and remaining cream or coconut milk. Stir well – simmer for a couple more minutes then scatter with chopped cilantro (coriander) to serve.



Posted in Indian & Asian Cuisine, Vegan, Vegetables / Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Recipe – Greek Salad with Watermelon & Grilled Halloumi

Having just returned from a trip to Jolly Olde England where the weather was scorching, I was looking forward to some cooling Colorado mountain breezes; no so. Equally scorching here.

Grilled halloumi cheese (the squeakiest cheese on the planet) is a very popular vegetarian option in the UK and given the current heat on both sides of the Atlantic, chilled watermelon has to be the fruit of choice right now.

Greek salad has always been a favorite of mine so here’s a high-summery version that replaces the  tomatoes with watermelon and feta with grilled halloumi.

Absolutely delicious!

Greek Salad with Watermelon & Grilled Halloumi Cheese


(4 servings)


2 good handfuls of crisp lettuce, shredded

1 small red onion, sliced very thinly

1/2 a seedless watermelon cut into 1″ (2cm) chunks

1 English hot house cucumber

A handful of pitted kalamata olives, rinsed and halved

A block of halloumi cheese – drained, sliced thinly and patted dry

4 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

4 tablespoons of wine vinegar

A few fresh mint leaves, torn into pieces

A few fresh oregano leaves, chopped

Freshly ground black pepper


Heat a heavy, ridge-based pan (preferably cast iron) and when it’s hot pour in a little high-temp cooking oil (such as avocado, grapeseed, coconut). Sear the halloumi slices until they’re scored golden brown, about 2 minutes each side – set aside.

Slice the cucumber in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds with a spoon – cut it into smallish slices.

Toss everything together, except for the grilled cheese and fresh herbs. Arrange the cheese on top and scatter the mint and oregano over everything.

Serve right away.


Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Salads & Appetizers, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Pasta with Shrimp, Lemon & Beet Greens

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve discarded beet greens because they looked like they barely survived a hurricane but when fresh and perky, they’re earthily sweet and delicious.

I particularly love those golden beets that come in tight little bunches, just aching to be baked. The greens that came with them were in perfect condition for once, so I chopped them up and added them to pasta with fresh lemon and some lovely plump, wild-caught shrimp from the south Atlantic.

A quick, fresh-tasting pasta supper.

Pasta with Shrimp, Lemon & Beet Greens


(Enough for 4-6)


2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 fat cloves of garlic, minced

1/4 cup (80ml) of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1.5 teaspoons of finely grated lemon zest

2 good bunches of fresh baby beet greens, washed and chopped

1lb of cleaned raw shrimp

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

A few chili pepper flakes, to taste


Start by lightly steaming the beet greens until just tender, then set them aside.

Cook the pasta according to instructions and while it’s cooking, heat the butter and olive oil in a wide sauté pan and cook the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and sauté for 2 more minutes, then add the lemon juice, zest and a few pepper flakes.  Once the shrimp is opaque, season with sea salt and a grind of black pepper. Add the steamed beet greens.

Drain the pasta quickly and tip it into the pan with the shrimp. Toss everything together well, add a splash of extra virgin olive oil if you like and serve immediately in warmed bowls.


Posted in Fish & Seafood, Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta | Leave a comment

Recipe – Gluten-Free Almond & Berry Cheesecake

Ground almonds are my favorite go-to alternative to regular flour as they create such a moist and dense cake with a lovely nutty flavor. In this case I also experimented with calorie-free *Monkfruit sugar and the result was pretty amazing. Not your usual type of cheesecake but every bit as good.

 An utterly luscious, rich and more-ish dessert cake and best of all, it’s totally sugar and gluten-free – and really easy to make.

*Monkfruit sugar is available at Costco (best value), specialty food stores and online at Amazon.

Almond & Berry Cheesecake


(Serves 6-8)


4 oz (114g) of butter at room temp

2/3 cup (160ml measure) of zero calorie Monkfruit sugar (or regular sugar if you prefer)

3 large eggs at room temp, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla

1/2 teaspoon of finely shredded lemon zest

2 cups (480 ml measure) of ground almonds/almond flour

2 level teaspoons of baking powder

4 fl oz (240ml) of whole milk

A pinch of sea salt

4-6 oz (114-170g) of berries (raspberries, blackberries, blueberries, or all three)

For the cream cheese layer:

8oz (228g) of light cream cheese at room temp

1/2 cup (120ml measure) of zero calorie Monkfruit sugar (or regular)

1/2 teaspoon of pure vanilla

1 egg at room temp, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon of finely grated lemon zest

Flaked almonds to decorate


Grease a 9″ x 9″ (23 x 23 cm) square baking pan. Pre-heat the oven to 325F (163C).

Make the cake layer by creaming the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the lemon zest, vanilla and eggs, a little at a time. Fold in the ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Finally add the milk and set it aside while you make the cream cheese layer. The batter will be rather thick.

Beat the cream cheese then add the sugar, lightly beaten egg, vanilla and lemon zest.

Spread approx 2/3rds of the cake batter into the bottom of the pan, smoothing it over. Now spread the cream cheese all over the batter. Stick the berries evenly into the cream cheese and dollop the remaining batter randomly over the berries – don’t smooth it over. Scatter flaked almonds over the top and bake for 40 minutes.

The cake is ready when the top is golden but the center still wobbles a bit.

Cool the cake completely in the pan then chill it in the fridge for a couple of hours or overnight.




Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts | 2 Comments

Recipe – Hot Smoked Salmon, Roast Baby Potatoes & Dill

Another wonderful yet simple recipe from Nigel Slater that takes no time at all to whip up.

Roast baby potatoes infused with dill and topped with a slab of hot smoked salmon is deeply satisfying and absolutely delicious.

Serving hot smoked salmon this way makes a lovely change from serving it cold as an hors d’oeuvres snack with crackers – especially on a chilly spring evening.

Hot Smoked Salmon with Roast Baby Potatoes & Dill


(Enough for two)


11-12 oz (300g) of baby (new) potatoes, washed and halved lengthways

2 heaped tablespoons of fresh dill fronds, snipped from the stalks plus extra to serve

2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar

4 tablespoons of olive oil

2 pieces of hot smoked salmon weighing about 7 oz (200g) each

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 400F (200C). Bring a large pan of water to the boil, add salt followed by  the potatoes and cook for 15 minutes until just tender. Drain.

Finely mince the dill and in a small bowl, whisk in the olive oil, wine vinegar, a dash of sea salt and a good grind of black pepper. Toss the drained potatoes in the dressing and tip everything into a roasting pan, scraping all the dressing into the pan.

Roast for 15 minutes until tinged golden around the edges, then put the salmon pieces on top, spooning some of the dressing over the fish.

Stick it back in the oven for another 10 minutes to allow the salmon to heat through.

Sprinkle with a little more fresh dill to serve.



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Recipe – Carrot Halva

Making Indian desserts can be a bit time consuming but they aren’t complicated and don’t require special skills or equipment. They are however, totally worth it.

The milk-based varieties are notoriously rich and make an elegant dinner party sweetmeat; a lovely alternative to the ubiquitous slab of American pie or cake. They will also pique people’s curiosity leading to lively conversation, in the event you’re running out of things to talk about.

I love the idea of making a sticky-sweet dessert out of a vegetable. Carrot Halva is dense and rich-tasting, as the slow cooking process concentrates the natural sweetness of the carrots.

The only effort required is your willingness to stir the contents of the pan every now and then, for up to an hour.

This is a delicious, fragrant pudding that’s best served warm or at room temperature, topped with a blob of crème fraîche.

Carrot Halva – an Indian Dessert

CARROT HALVA (Adapted from a Madhur Jaffrey recipe)

(Serves 4)


1lb (450g) of organic carrots, washed and trimmed (buy them ready-washed in a bag)

1 1/4 pints (700ml) of full fat milk

8 whole green cardamom pods, very slightly cracked open

5 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter), coconut or canola oil

5 tablespoons of fine white sugar

2 tablespoons of golden raisins or sultanas

1 heaped tablespoon of pine nuts, lightly toasted

A good pinch of saffron

crème fraîche or clotted cream to serve (optional)


Pulse the carrots in a food processor until very finely chopped. In a heavy-based saucepan, combine the milk, saffron, cardamom and carrots and bring the mixture to a boil.

Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer, stirring every 5 minutes or so, until all the liquid has evaporated. This will take 40-60 minutes.

Once all the liquid has boiled off, heat the oil over medium heat in a separate non-stick pan. Transfer the carrot mixture to the pan and stir fry until it becomes a rich, deep orange color, about 5 minutes.

Add the sugar, raisins and pine nuts and continue to stir-fry for a couple of minutes until everything is well combined and the sugar has dissolved.

Once the sugar has completely melted, divide the halva between 4 small dishes or bowls and shape it into small mounds.

Allow it to cool slightly if serving it warm, or to room temperature. Just before serving, top the halva with a dollop of crème fraîche, heavy cream or clotted cream.

Posted in Gluten Free Desserts, Indian & Asian Cuisine | Leave a comment

Recipe – Mushrooms on Toast

Here’s something simple yet satisfying when faced with a carton of fresh mushrooms and not much else. A few sprigs of rosemary, a scattering of parsley and the rest you probably already have in your fridge or cupboard. 

Use any mushrooms you like; they don’t have to be of the fancy, wild edible variety – but I don’t recommend shiitake; too chewy, too fusty-smelling.

A deliciously simple vegetarian  lunch or appetizer dish – served on hot, lightly-toasted baguette.

Mushrooms on Toast


(Serves 4 as an appetizer or two for lunch)


1 tablespoon of extra-v olive oil

2 tablespoons of cold butter – separated

2 tablespoons of sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 cup (240ml) of vegetable or chicken stock

a pinch of fresh rosemary, finely minced

1 heaped tablespoon of chopped flat leaf parsley

A grind of sea salt and black pepper to taste

Shaved Parmigiano Reggiano to serve


Wipe the mushrooms clean and cut into quarters, chunks, or leave whole if very small, or of the floppy wild variety.

Heat a large saute pan then add the olive oil and half of the butter. Once the butter is foaming, add the mushrooms and cook for 4-5 minutes.

Add the sherry vinegar and lemon juice; toss around and cook until it reduces, then add the stock and reduce again by half. Toss in the fresh herbs (save some parsley to scatter over the mushroom toasts), followed by the remaining chilled butter – stir everything together well.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste and pile the mushroom mixture onto hot, toasted bread, topped with shaved Parmesan and a scattering of parsley.

Serve immediately.

Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Salads & Appetizers, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment