Hassleback al Forno

In Britain we have a tradition of having a roast dinner on a Sunday. This consists of roast vegetables, meat, some gravy and potatoes in some form. Many families still do this but it does tend to use up every pot in the house which has put me off making it just for the two of us. These roasted vegetables with puy lentils cooked in red wine do a nice job of recreating that Sunday lunch feeling without all the extra washing up. Once again this recipe was in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’.

Serves 4


  • 2 large parsnips
  • 1/2 butternut squash
  • 1 onion
  • 4 carrots
  • 4 potatoes
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 15g thyme
  • olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 100ml red wine
  • 2 400g tins green lentils
  • 100g spinach
  • 4 tbsp yoghurt


1.) Heat the oven to 200 degrees C. Peel the parsnips, squash, onion, carrots and potatoes.

2.) Slice around all the veg but don’t go through the middle at 1/2 cm intervals.

3.) Peel and finely chop the garlic and add to a large bowl with 6 tbsp oil, vinegar and salt and pepper. Strip off and add the thyme leaves.

4.) Add the veg to the bowl and coat with all the ingredients.

5.) Pour everything into a roasting tin and roast for one hour.

6.) Once the veg are done, take them out the tin and set aside. Put the tray over the hob and pour in the wine and let it reduce. Then add the tins of lentils with the liquid and the spinach. Stir until the sauce is thick and the spinach has wilted then season.

7.) Serve some lentils with some roasted veg and a dollop of yoghurt.

Burns Night Stew

Here is another option for Burns night that doesn’t involve any vegetarian haggis like this: https://wordpress.com/post/catamongthepilchards.com/141 or this: https://wordpress.com/post/catamongthepilchards.com/204. The stew is served with dumplings which are cooked balls of butter and flour, an old British favourite and very comforting. It’s great to get so many veggies in whilst feeling indulgent. The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’.


  • 300g celeriac
  • 300g swede
  • 3 carrots
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 1 jar mini pickled onions
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 75g pearl barley
  • 330ml porter
  • 2 tsp blackcurrant jam
  • 1.5 litres veg stock
  • 300g self raising flour
  • 50g butter
  • 200g red cabbage
  • 1 apple
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp mustard


1.) Grind 5 cloves into a powder. Peel the celeriac, swede and carrots and chop into chunks. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.

2.) Fry in a casserole pan with a tbsp oil and the bay leaves. Add some salt and pepper, the cloves, the allspice and the drained pickled onions. Cook for 15 minutes and make up the stock.

3.) Add the porter and the pearl barley to the pan with the jam and leave to simmer.

4.) Make the dumplings by chopping up the butter and rubbing it into the flour. Add 100ml of water to make a dough then form 12 balls with the dough. Pop the balls into the stew and drizzle over a bit of oil.

5.) Cover the pan with the lid and cook in the oven for 45 minutes.

6.) Make a slaw to go with the stew by shredding the cabbage, chopping the apple into batons and tossing with the vinegar and mustard.

7.) Take the lid off the pan and continue to cook for another 15 minutes.

Polenta & Chicory

I’ve had a few chicory recipes that I’ve been wanting to try but I’d never been able to source the chicory. I started a subscription to Oddbox which delivers vegetables to your door that were otherwise unwanted and one week there was an add on for chicory. I fancied trying this recipe from Antonio Carluccio’s ‘The Collection’.

Serves 2


  • 6 tbsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tbsp capers
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6 chicories
  • 1 stock cube
  • 400g polenta (block)
  • salt and pepper


1.) Peel and finely chop the garlic. Heat up 1 tbsp oil in a saucepan and fry the garlic, chilli flakes and capers for 3 minutes.

2.) Add the chicory, 300ml water and the stock cube.

3.) Cover the pan and cook for 20 minutes.

4.) In the meantime, slice up the polenta and then in a frying pan, heat the rest of the oil and add the slices of polenta. Fry the slices until golden brown then flip over and do the other side.

5.) Serve the chicory with slices of the polenta.

Iced biscuits

Back in London when I used to have a job working as part of a team unlike today when teamwork is positively discouraged by my control-freak manager, I sometimes used to make biscuits to take into the office which were very well received. I no longer get to do that as no-one goes into the office but I had this cookie cutter of the queen from a long time ago and thought I should use it on the passing of Her Majesty. For the biscuit base, I used a recipe from Ottolenghi’s ‘Sweet’ and it’s a nicely spiced with orange and chinese 5 spice. The recipe actually contained anise but I didn’t have any so I thought 5 spice would work as anise is one of the components. I iced these with some royal icing, very appropriate.

Makes about 40 biscuits (using a 7 – 8cm cutter)


  • 360g 00 flour
  • 70g rice flour
  • 165g caster sugar
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp chinese 5 spice
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 orange
  • 1/2 vanilla pod
  • 250g butter
  • 4 large egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 460g icing sugar


1.) Zest the orange and scrape out the seeds from the vanilla pod.

2.) Sift the flours into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, baking powder, 5 spice, salt, orange zest and vanilla seeds to a bowl. Stir everything.

3.) Chop up the butter into cubes and add to the flour mixture. Rub in with your fingers so it becomes breadcrumbes.

4.) In another bowl, crack in the egg and beat with a fork. Tip the egg into the flour and mix until a dough is formed. Form a disc shape, wrap in cling film and leave in the fridge for an hour.

5.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Cut the dough into 4. Roll out each piece to about 0.5cm. Use your cutter to cut out as many biscuits as possible. Line a couple of large baking trays with baking paper and place the biscuits on. Bake in batches for 16 – 17 minutes ( I think mine took a little less so keep an eye on them) . Leave to cool on a cooling rack and once they’ve set enough to move you can run the baking tray under cold water to cool down and reuse.

6.) Once the biscuits have fully cooled, make the icing. Whisk up the whites of the other 3 eggs until frothy. I used a stand mixer. Add the vanilla essence and the icing sugar. Carry on mixing until a thick icing is formed. It should be thick enough that it won’t run off when you use it for icing. If it doesn’t seem thick enough, add more icing sugar.

7.) Get a piping bag with a thin nozzle and pipe around the outside of all of the biscuits. Add some water to the icing to loosen it a little. Pipe this into the biscuits and tip the biscuits very gently to move the icing around the inside of the outline. Use a cocktail stick to pop any air bubbles and leave the biscuits to set.

Wonton Noodle Soup

Wonton noodle soup has always been a great comfort food to me. Generally I’m disappointed by vegetarian dumplings so I was happy to find such a great recipe for them in Jamie Oliver’s ‘Veg’. I have probably made about 2/3 of the recipes in this book and the only one that hasn’t worked was the scotch eggs – I was hugely disappointed with this as I wanted to share one of the few aspects of British food culture that’s actually good. The wontons use butternut squash as the base and miso to flavour it. Depending on what size wonton wrappers you have you will get more or less dumplings. I think I had more than the 24 stated in the recipe using 10cm wrappers.

Serves 4


  • 500g butternut squash
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 6cm ginger
  • 80g broccoli
  • 1 tsp miso paste (the recipe recommends red but I can only ever find brown)
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • wonton wrappers
  • massel chicken flavoured stock
  • 4 spring onions
  • 4 nests noodles
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 250g tofu


1.) Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C

2.) Cut off the skin of the squash, cut into chunks. Put into a lined baking tray, sprinkle over some salt and pepper and drizzle over a little oil. Roast the squash for 1 hour.

3.) Peel the garlic and ginger and in a food processor, add the broccoli, miso, vinegar, 1 clove of garlic and the ginger. Blitz until fine. Once the squash is roasted, add this to the food processor and blitz to combine. Set aside to cool down.

4.) Once the mixture is cool, you can start to put together the wontons. Get a bowl and fill with water. Get a pastry brush. Put each wonton wrapper on a work surface and put 1 heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the middle. Brush around the filling and then gather up the wrapper around the sides. Pinch together to seal.

5.) At this point, you can either steam the dumplings as is or cook them in a soup. To steam, place a bamboo steamer over a pan of boiling water and steam for about 4 minutes.

6.) To carry on making the soup, finely dice the other clove of garlic. Fill a large pan with about 500ml of water and a tbsp of chicken flavoured stock. Bring to the boil.

7.) Add the noodles and cook for a couple of minutes and in this team finely slice the spring onion.

8.) Add the wontons to the pan and continue to cook for a couple more minutes. Cube the tofu and add this to the pan. Cook for two more minutes then add the soy sauce and sesame oil. Garnish with the spring onion and serve.

Tteokbokki (Korean spicy rice cakes)

I loooove Korean food and tteokbokki is my favourite Korean food of all and the dish I will always order at a Korean restaurant. Tteokbokki is rice cakes served with fish cake and a spicy barbecue sauce. The fish used seems kind of processed but I love it anyway though I’ve used tinned banana blossom because you just can’t get the fish cakes unless you go to an Oriental supermarket. I think tempeh would work well too. In London, there’s several Korean karaoke places where you can eat, then they’ll come and take away the tables and you can sing your heart out. I love a little pre-karaoke tteokbokki washed down with some plum flavoured soju. I think it’s good for the pipes. I got this recipe from the blog ‘My Korean Kitchen’ and I ordered the delicious chewy rice sticks from Amazon.

Serves 2


  • 350g rice cakes
  • 1 tin banana blossom
  • 2 cups dashi stock
  • 60g onion
  • 3 tbsp gochujang
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic /3 cloves finely chopped
  • 1 tsp gochugaru (or chilli flakes)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 100g broccoli


1.) The rice cakes all come stuck together so separate these into sticks and soak them in warm water for 10 minutes.

2.) Make the tteokbokki sauce. Take a bowl and combine the gochujang, sugar, soy, garlic and gochugaru. Mix everything well.

3.) In a wok, add the stock and tip in the gochujang mixture. Stir to combine and bring to the boil.

5.) Peel and chop up the onion and add to the stock.

4.) Add the rice cakes and cook for a few minutes. Trim the broccoli, cut into florets and add to the wok.

5.) Drain the banana blossom and cut into chunks, add to the wok.

6.) Cook for a few minutes until the sauce thickens. Stir in the sesame oil at the end.