Mini Picnic Calzones

Recipe: Mini Picnic Calzones

I love pasties, and I love pizza, so in my books you can’t get much better than a calzone.  If you’ve not tried one before, then give these a try – a calzone is basically a folded-over pizza, and these are stuffed with mozzarella, olives, capers, courgette, chilli and sun-dried tomatoes, in a light and crispy bread dough.

I’ve made full-sized calzones before (see post here) but these little bite-sized picnic versions are super-cute. They are a bit more sturdy than flaky pastry pasties, (though I do love a good cheese & onion pasty or three on a picnic too!), so are great for packing away in a tupperware box and traipsing off to your preferred picnic spot.  Read more

Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes

Recipe: Cherry Cheesecake Cupcakes

I first tried making ‘cheesecake cupcakes’ a few years ago using an excellent recipe from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook* – they were fabulous.  As there are cherries-a-plenty going cheap on every market stall and supermarket at the moment, I wanted to come up with a picnic-friendly cherry-themed dessert and remembered the idea.

Instead of the original Strawberry Cheesecake Cupcake* recipe, I used my favourite fairy cake recipe for the sponge – it includes yoghurt which gives the cake a lovely tang and makes them as light as air.  The cakes are baked with some fresh chopped cherries at the bottom of the case, then Read more

Mini Picnic Quiche Bites

Recipe: Mini Picnic Quiche Bites

We were supposed to be having a picnic with friends today.  With the British weather being true to form, however, rain stopped play and we ended up picnicking on the living room floor instead.  Typical!

I love picnic food – little bite-sized morsels neatly packed in tupperware boxes.  Eating outside somehow makes everything taste lovelier, (though even picnicking in the living room is a treat!).

Over the next week I’ll post a few of my favourite picnic recipes, starting with these Mini Picnic Quiche Bites.  These are so quick and easy to make – simply line a large baking tray with shop-bought pastry, pop in your quiche fillings of choice, bake, then slice Read more

Chard & New Potato Dhal web

Recipe: Swiss Chard & New Potato Dhal

Swiss Chard is one of those funny vegetables that lots of people grow in their veg patches or allotments, but then don’t really know what to do with.  I’ve had a bumper crop this year of a lovely variety called “Bright Lights” rainbow chard, which really is as pretty as it sounds.  Chard is fairly easy to find in supermarkets and greengrocers, but if you can’t get hold of it, any other green leafy vegetable like kale or spinach would work equally well here.

This dish is not just delicious but also insanely good for you – plenty of protein from lots of lentils, iron and vitamins from leafy green chard,  and fibre and vitamins from the skin-on new potatoes.  Serve with brown rice and this is a nutritionist’s dream!  Read more

Morello Cherry & Raspberry Jam

Recipe: Morello Cherry & Raspberry Jam

We have a shamefully neglected morello cherry tree in a pot outside our front door, and last winter I was 100% sure it had kicked the bucket.  I intended to take it to the dump, but thankfully never got around to it, and lo and behold, it sprung back into life and for the last few weeks has been drooping under the weight of a huge crop of great big juicy morello cherries.  There’s probably a moral in that somewhere.

This jam began as a thank-you present for some lovely ladies who have been helping with childcare over the last term, but in order to make enough pots I bulked out our cherries with some raspberries.  Both are fairly sour so this is a jam with some ‘zing’ to it, which I love, but if you prefer you jam super-sweet you could use eating cherries and perhaps strawberries in place of the raspberries.  Read more

Green Goddess Lunch Bowl 2

Recipe: Green Goddess Lunch Bowl

People seem to think that all vegetarians love salad.  Not me.  The word “salad” conjures up images of a bowl of limp lettuce and dried out cucumber slices slathered in oily dressing, with not a chocolate teapot’s chance of staving off hunger until dinnertime.

So this isn’t a salad, but a “lunch bowl” – something filling and delicious to take to work in a tupperware, or ‘fork food’ for your patio or balcony on a sunny weekend. It is an easy and speedy assembly-job, as let’s face it, no one wants to be slaving away in the kitchen whilst the sun is shining. Read more

Minted Bulgur Wheat with Fennel & Apple

Recipe: Minted Bulgur Wheat with Fennel & Apple

I’ve been a fennel-hater for as long as I can remember.  In fact anything with a vaguely aniseed/anise flavour is completely off the menu as far as I’m concerned – liquorice, sambuca, tarragon, ouzo, pernod…. a sad state of affairs.

However, I had a bit of a fennel revelation whilst on a ‘Flavours of Sicily’ cookery course at the Vegetarian Society some years ago.  We braised fennel slowly in stock with onions, garlic and all sorts of other lovely things and somehow it ended up being absolutely delicious and not overpoweringly aniseed-y. Read more

Sicilian Orzo with Cauliflower & Saffron

Recipe: Sicilian Orzo with Cauliflower & Saffron

I tend to think of cauliflower as a wintry vegetable, so thought twice about posting this in the middle of a heatwave here in the UK.  But in fact it’s in season almost all year round and used a lot in the Mediterranean and Middle East in light and summery dishes served in even more blisteringly hot temperatures than ours!

Orzo is a short-cut pasta shape which resembles grains of rice, and I think of this as a cross between a pasta dish and a risotto.  Here it is combined with the finest flavours of Sicilian cuisine – saffron-roasted cauliflower and courgettes, zingy lemon, toasted pine nuts, sozzled sultanas and fresh parsley, to create a warm, summery supper.  Perfect for eating outside with a glass of chilled white wine!  Read more

Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin

Recipe: Cherry Tomato Tarte Tatin

There are a plethora (love that word) of recipes out there for tomato tartes tatin, and they are surprisingly different. Many look prettier than mine, in that the tomatoes remain plump and neat as they are cooked for a much shorter time.  However after a few experiments I found that they just spurt their juice everywhere when sliced and are disappointingly watery.

So here I pre-cook the tomatoes, and deliberately give them a bit of a squash with a fork so the juices run into the pan.  These juices are then cooked down with some sugar and balsamic vinegar to make a sticky glaze which gives some real ‘oomph’ to the tomatoes and a deep savoury-ness to what could otherwise be a bit of a bland tart.  Read more