Fry a chopped onion with a crushed clove of garlic in some oil for 2-3 minutes.  Add a carrot (sliced paper-thin), about 100g quartered mushrooms, half a red pepper (diced), 2 sliced green chillis and a dessertspoon of grated ginger.  Sprinkle over some sea salt and soften for a further 5 minutes, adding more oil if necessary.

After 5 minutes, stir in a teaspoon of turmeric and half a pint of boiling water.  Place 2 smoked haddock fillets* over the top and sprinkle them with black pepper; pop the lid on.  Set the timer for 10 minutes and allow the water to simmer gently and the fish to steam.  At the same time, put the basmati rice (about a mugful) on to cook.  When the rice is five minutes away from ready, add a small cupful of peas to the rice pan, and start boiling 3-4 eggs.

When the haddock is starting to break up, take it out of the pan with a fish slice and  break it into large flakes.

Add the drained, rinsed rice and peas to the onion pan, and stir through a tablespoon of cream and a knob of butter.  Add more salt and pepper if necessary. Stir in most of the haddock and some fresh coriander, saving a little back as a garnish.  Boiled eggs placed decoratively on top, a careless scattering of haddock and coriander, and you’re done. Serve with a lemon, or – if you have no shame – some HP Sauce.

* I would only cook the haddock in with the onions if I was pretty sure that there were no bones.  If you’re not sure, it would be better to cook it separately.


Stuffed Roast Chicken with Pasta a Riso and Spring Vegetables


This recipe is more than just a nod in Nigella’s direction – it is just a more vegetable-heavy version of her Pasta Risotto with Peas and Pancetta (from her book ‘Nigellissima’).  But more about the vegetables later:  let’s start with the chicken.

Get the biggest chicken you can find and rinse it inside and out.  Whizz up a small handful of sage, parsley and thyme in the processor with a shallot and a clove of garlic.  Squeeze the sausage meat out of three large sausages, then mix this with the shallot mix and some freshly grated nutmeg.  Stuff this into your chicken, then place in a large ovenproof, lidded dish.  Drizzle the skin with olive oil, then sprinkle with sea salt and black pepper.  Pour in a glass of white wine and half a pint of water.

Put in the oven (170 – 180 degrees, lid on) for about two hours.  Give it a really good basting after an hour and add another half pint of water for the remaining hour.  When the legs wobble readily and the juices run clear, it’s probably done (unless your oven isn’t an even cooker, then eek!  Proceed with caution!)


And now for the vegetables and pasta.  You want the pasta that looks like rice:  if it says ‘pasta a riso’ on the packet, you’re in business.

Fry 2 finely sliced leeks in olive oil with a crushed garlic clove until quite soft.  Add four slices of streaky bacon, diced, and fry for a further five minutes.  Add 2 sliced courgettes, a little salt and pepper, and fry for a further couple of minutes.  Trim about 200g of tenderstem broccoli – slice up half of the stalk, and leave the rest looking pretty.  Add the stalky bits to the pan.  Now add a small cup of peas and about 350g of pasta a riso.  Stir well, then add about 800ml water.  Throw in a chicken stock cube.  Stir well, place the broccoli heads on top and nudge the bottom of the pan from time to time to check that the pasta is not sticking.  Lid on, ten minutes, or according to the instructions on the packet.

When time’s up, add a couple of tablespoons of parmesan and flat leaf parsley.

If you fancy a bit of sauce with your chicken, boil up the liquid that the chicken cooked in with a teaspoonful of mustard, whisking as you go.  Add a couple of spoonfuls of double cream if you want.  It will separate, so keep stirring.

Plum and Stem Ginger Pudding with Custard


It’s a bit of a cheat, putting this recipe in, because it is in fact Andrea’s Steamed Ginger Pudding again, only with a couple of sliced plums arranged artistically at the bottom of the bowl.  To compensate, however, I will include a foolproof recipe for homemade custard.

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175g soft butter

175g self-raising flour

175g caster sugar

3 large eggs

a teaspoonful of ground ginger

3-4 tablespoons milk

stem ginger in syrup

150g golden syrup

Put the kettle on to boil and butter a pudding bowl.  A bowl which is purpose built with its own lid is handy here.  I used these ones:

Put the first six ingredients plus four balls of stem ginger into the food processor and whoosh up until smooth.  Add a little more milk if necessary to make it a pourable mixture.

Put the boiling water into a large, lidded saucepan and turn on the heat.

Slice a couple of plums and layer them over the bottom of the basin.  Pour about 50g stem ginger syrup and 150g golden syrup over the plums.  Pour the sponge mixture over the syrups.  Put the buttered lid on top, then pop it into the pan of hot water.  Keep it boiling, but not ferociously and keep the pan lid on.  Keep topping up the hot water; it should more than half fill the pan.

Let it cook for at least two hours.

When you’re ready to serve it, make the custard.

Bring 300ml double cream gently to a simmer with a vanilla pod (cut open along its length).

Meanwhile, whisk 3 egg yolks with a dessertspoon of sugar.

Just as the cream is starting to wrinkle, pour it into the eggs, whisking all the time.  If it looks right, serve immediately; if you want it thicker, pour it back into the pan through a sieve and warm it a bit more, whisking all the time.  This will probably take no longer than 30 seconds.  If you do get a few lumps, pour it into your jug via the sieve again!

Veal Liver with Onions and Marsala

I’ve reblogged this recipe because I didn’t have a decent camera when I first made it. It really is totally delicious!

Salutation Recipes


I know.  Many people feel about liver the same way as I feel about mayonnaise.  Look away now if you do; there’s no recipe to cure that sort of loathing.

However, if you’re even slightly ambivalent, try this.  It’s delicious, sweet, and very quick to make.

Fry 2 onions in some butter, oil and salt until very soft.  It’s fine if it browns a little.  Take about 4 – 6 thin slices of veal liver (Pittaway’s in Darlington sell it at a decent price, and it’s a great butcher’s); put them on a big plate and sprinkle with paprika, black pepper and some plain flour.  Just sprinkle.  One side is fine.

Wait until your potatoes and green beans are almost done before going beyond the frying onions phase.

Turn the heat up on your onions and add about 6 sage leaves.  Then, shove the onions to one side and…

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Fromage du Moment


My favourite cheese at the moment just has to be Blacksticks Blue.  Absolutely delicious with oatcakes and quince jelly.

This is the second Get Healthy resolution.  Only consume the treats if they have an acceptable calories:enjoyment ratio.

The second favourite cheese is – I’m afraid – also the choice of Daily Telegraph readers:  Chaource.  It’s soft and chalky.  I know that’s not normally considered a good thing, but I love it.


Spiced Chicken with Prunes


Start this the night before by sprinkling 3 chicken breasts (each one cut into 3 pieces) with a chopped up garlic clove, a scant tablespoon of chopped fresh mint and parsley, 2 tablespoons of olive oil, a teaspoon each of dried ginger, ground coriander and cinnamon, half a teaspoon each of turmeric and chilli flakes and the juice of half a lemon.  Put this in the fridge, covered.

At the same time, steep 200g prunes in 2 teaspoons of honey and enough boiling water to cover.  Leave this at room temperature.

The next day, preheat your oven to 180 degrees, then fry 2 sliced onions with 2 crushed cloves of garlic in some olive oil and a little salt.  Use a hob-friendly, ovenproof pan for this.  When the onion is soft, add the chicken breasts to the pan, and turn the heat up to colour.  Add a little more oil if necessary.  Sprinkle with a some nutmeg and black pepper.  Once both sides of the chicken breasts are golden, add a sliced red pepper and a sliced yellow pepper.  Stir well, then add half a pint of chicken stock (from a stock cube is fine).  Bring to the boil, then put a lid on and pop the casserole into a medium oven (180 degrees) for half an hour.

After 30 minutes, add the zest of a lemon and and the prunes.  Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.  After that, stir in some fresh mint, parsley and a couple of handfuls of chopped spinach.  Leave it to sit for a couple of minutes, stir again and check for salt and then serve with couscous or rice and a further sprinkling of zest and parsley.


Pasta with Asparagus, Mint and Parsley


What can I say?  Lent didn’t quite go according to plan.  The scales this morning have convinced me that I need to go back to the healthier version of me.  This recipe kickstarts my first resolution, which is to eat meat just a couple of times a week.

1.  Prepare your vegetables.  Slice up the white of a leek,  a clove of garlic, 3 smallish courgettes and 200g mushrooms.  Prepare about 8 asparagus stalks and have a couple of tablespoons of peas at the ready.

2.  Fry your leek and garlic in 3 tablespoons of good olive oil.  Add some salt.  Meanwhile, pop your pasta on to cook, presuming that you’re using dried pasta which takes 9 – 10 minutes.

3.  Once the leek is nicely softened, add the mushrooms and courgettes and turn the heat up.  Stir and allow to colour slightly.  Meanwhile, grate the zest of a lemon, and chop about 6 mint leaves and a handful of fresh parsley.

4.  When the pasta is 4 minutes from ready, add the asparagus and the peas to the pan, along with the juice of a lemon and some black pepper.  Reduce the heat and pop a lid on.

5.  When the pasta is ready and drained, add it to the vegetable pan with the fresh herbs, lemon zest and a good sprinkle of parmesan.

Feel free to suggest some more healthy recipes below.