Chorizo style pork bites

Hello again

I wanted to write about rhubarb this week, but thanks to the lack of rain there just isn't enough yet to take from the plant. Then I thought I'd write about wild garlic, but haven't had time to go very far to forage, I could tell you all about how I made Panna Cotta out of seaweed this week, but have a feeling that it might not go down too well... so.... I decided I'd have a think about it whilst cooking tea. My mind was still blank as I was filling up my kitchen counter, and still blank as I started combining the ingredients for tonight's dinner. In fact it was still blank as I was stirring away and then my 3 year old came in and said "What's that yummy smell?" followed by my 11yr old pinching something out of the pan and saying "Wow, can I have some more?" ... always nice to hear!

I was making a bung it risotto, (Fairly standard, bung in whatever is in the fridge, and not worth writing down really) but the magic, lovely, smelling ingredient was something based on what I picked up at my trip to River cottage over the weekend. Chorizo style pork bites. They are easy, can be made in advance and can be added to pasta, rice, pizza, soup, you get the picture.


500g Pork Mince
40ml Red Wine (I used port as had no wine)
2 finely chopped garlic cloves
1 dst spoon sweet paprika
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 tsp fennel seeds (optional)
2 tsp salt
black pepper
Oil for frying


1  Apart from the oil combine all of the ingredients together in a bowl, mix really well.

2  Pop mixture into a clean bowl, cover and fridge for a  day to let the ingredients blend together better

3 ( I didn't wait, cooked half straight away and moulded and refridgerated half for tomorrow)

4  Make small balls of mixture, I think mine made 30

5 Fry the balls for a few minutes each, until cooked through

6  They are now ready to use in another dish or eat straight away

Hints and tips

Pork mince is used because it is the best at taking up other flavours and has a high fat content meaning it will hold together well

These can be kept in the fridge in an air tight container for a week

I think they would be really tasty with some fried potatoes and a poached egg

The tasty meat would also work well with spring greens

Please let me know what you think, and of any other recipes you would like to see

Purple sprouting, leek and cheese tarts for friday feasts

Dear all, and Tom (This one you should like and be able to bake Tom!)

One of the nicest types of cooking is the using seasonal ingredients sort, the grow it, pick it, cook it and eat it sort and at this time of year we are just going from the winter growing crops into the early spring ones.

Buds are shooting, nettles and other foragable bits appearing with fresh leaves (Foraging based recipes soon) but right now, one of the nicest seasonal cross over combinations has to be this one, putting together leeks that have been growing for ages, surviving the winter cold and now laid side by side with purple sprouting, I have been watching this plant and waiting...

The tips are tender, and just keep coming. If it is something you feel you don't like either because its greens or because its broccoli, give it a second chance, cooked in the right way (not boiled to bitterness and a soggy ending) it is lovely and so so healthy. As it is coming into season it is on offer in a couple of the supermarkets, so go on, give it a go.

Like I said earlier, I have teamed it up with leeks for his recipe. My leeks have done well this year, they may not have been of the prize winning size or looks, but they are garden heros, surviving when most other veg have died from cold! I have souped them, baked them, covered them in cheese sauce and put them with mash and cabbage in colcannon. But one of the nicest ways to eat them is sweated in butter (the leeks that is, not the eater.) That is how they have been treated for this recipe and having just polished of the tart I feel well rewarded.



1 quantity of short crust pastry made with 8oz of plain flour, 4 oz butter, a splash of water and a pinch of salt

10 small purple sprouting tips
1 small leek
A large knob of butter and a splash of oil for frying
4oz/100g Cheese - I used 75g mature Cheddar, 25g feta and then a crumbling over the top of Stilton
1/4 pint milk
2 eggs
salt, pepper


Oven on to Gas5/200'c
1  Make up pastry by rubbing the butter into the flour, and pinch of salt, to make a breadcrumb texture. then add cold water a dessert spoon at a time until you can combine the mixture into a dough. Remove from bowl, wrap in cling film and refrigerate to rest it for about 20 mins

2  Roll dough and either use the whole amount to make one large tart or divide between four tartlet cases. Prick the bases a few times using a fork. Don't worry about neat edges, you can sort it out afterwards, or just go for the more rustic look and enjoy the extra pastry :)

3  Bake blind in an oven for about 15 minutes, until dried a little but not browned

4 Whilst it is baking, chop your leeks and sweat them until soft in a frying pan with your oil and butter.
Don't let them brown or that is all you will taste in your tart

5  When your tart case(s) have baked, add the leeks to them

6  Then add your purple sprouting (Note-If the stems of your spouting are much thicker than the tips it may be worth cutting them off and boiling them for a couple of minutes first so that they cook through properly)

7  Then add your cheese

8  Whisk your eggs into your milk, add the seasonings and the carefully pour into the tart case over the top of the other ingredients

9 Bake in the oven for about 20-25 minutes for small tarts or 35-40 minutes for a large one. You will know that it is cooked when it is golden brown and if you very gently wobble your tart dish the contents stay put and don't run

10  When cooked , leave to cool for 10 minutes before serving, they hold heir heat quite well and the resting period allows for a better set on your tart. Plus, to be fair, who is going to be able to see what it tastes like if you are to busy burning your mouth.

11  Serve with a green salad

Hints and Tips

Obviously the variations of ingredients you could use for fillings would make for an encyclopedia sized list, however trying to keep things seasonal means that you won't be eating the same thing time and again.

The pastry cases could be made and baked blind the day before needed and then cooled and put into an air tight container.

Baking blind - This is when you bake the empty pastry cases to dry them out and ensure the pastry cooks and doesn't go soggy, some people uses baking beans to do this, but I never bother.

If time is tight, a shop bought pastry would be fine, in fact you could abandon the short crust type and pop it all onto a puff pastry instead.

The feta cheese worked well because different cheeses have different melting points, the feta softens, but holds its shape, and adds a lovely salty hit which goes fantastically well with the purple sprouting.

This tart would be nice with bacon too

I was going to do two tarts this week, one savoury and one sweet with my Rhubarb, but that will have to wait until next week as the rhubarb isn't quite ready :)

I hope you enjoy this recipe, I would love some comments...

Yours, proud to be tarty,


Not quite a piece of cake

Dear Ruth, 

Below is my attempt at making your lemon iced fingers. I shall call mine fingers.

You see, I got to the icing stage and realised that, not being a regular baker, the sugar I thought was icing sugar was in fact caster sugar. In my time cooking, I've got hold of normal sugar, light brown sugar, caster sugar... just how many sugars are there?

One thing that was really encouraging though was just how tasty it is without icing, and just how easy it was to make. I mean, ridiculously easy, if a bit messy (below is the tidied up table after measuring the ingredients.

 So, thankfully I had some self raising flour and a lemon to hand, plus normal sugar. It truly is scary how much sugar goes into this. Beating time, was a challenge at first, what with the butter sticking to the whisk and the need for measured use of the balloon to stop the flour flying all over the kitchen. 

I actually found it tough! I had to put all the power of my right arm into it, but after a minute it started to come together and get a lot easier. I suddenly felt like a baker!

Definitely recommend this recipe to others. I started it at 9:15pm. By 10 I was devouring it! In the time it was in the oven I ironed my shirts for the week, and did the washing up, so the cake and dollop of ice cream with it was thoroughly deserved don't you think?

So below is photographic proof that even if I didn't manage your icing, I did manage to put the cake in the oven properly, and of course take it out. Without burning (I'm so proud).

And boy did it taste good.

Yours with a little squeeze (of lemon)


Lemon Cake Fingers

Dear #thebreakfastclub

Here is your Friday feasts recipe for this week, by request I am giving you a lemon cake recipe to try. I have done a fingers version, rather than a whole cake, but it could be cooked and served how you like it.

The best sorts of cakes are the simple ones, and this is a easy recipe.


5oz/145g Soft margarine
5oz/145g Sugar
5.5oz/155g self raising flour
3 eggs
Zest of one lemon

Topping -
200g icing sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
A little water


Oven on to Gas 4, 180' and prepare a rectangular baking tin, lining with grease proof paper.

1  Put all of the cake ingredients into a mixing bowl and beat for a few minutes until well mixed (Or until your arm aches too much to mix anymore!) You could pop it into an electric food mixer for ease, just mix for a couple of minutes

2  Spread mixture into cake tin and put into the oven for about 30 minutes

3  Transfer on to a wire cooling rack and whilst cooling make the topping.

4 Mix the icing sugar,, lemon juice and water together and then spread evenly over your cooled cake

5  When the icing is firm cut your cake into fingers and enjoy :)

Hints and tips

~You could make this cake with orange or lime instead
~ Change the icing for a butter icing with lemon zest, or mix the lemon juice with granulated sugar instead to make a crunchy topping

Let me know how you get on and what kind of recipes you would like to see on the blog

Hopefully next week will be a seasonal recipe, Rhubarb based, if the chickens don't demolish the plants first


I don't know what to do with you

Dear Tom

I don't know what to do with you, simply put, but really, honestly, short of coming over there and filling your freezers myself, ordering in a super market delivery on your behalf or batch cooking for you...

You manage to organise yourself enough to go skiing, to do a difficult/stressful job, to turn up for rowing competitions and to go out at the weekends but you still can't remember to get in bread and ham to make a simple sandwich or to make a pot of something tasty for the rest of the week!

One of the answers has to be that cooking midweek meals doesn't need a Jamie Oliver mentality or Gordan Ramsey skills, it just needs a little effort. On Monday I popped into shop and whilst there saw a couple of bags of reduced price casserole vegetables, a quick mental scan of my week showed that come Wednesday I wasn't going to have time to cook, so I popped them in the basket. When I got home I took a bag of stewing steak out of the freezer and  put that to defrost in the fridge. So, Wednesday morning comes, 5 children up, dressed, 5 breakfasts, 5 packed lunches, one hair wash, one load of testing spellings, one flute practise to listen to, on guitar and books to pack, 2 lots of swimming kit ready for after school, when I leave at 8.15 I know I won't be back until 5.15 so..... in 51 seconds I put tea on. 51 seconds included getting out pot, opening veg, meat, adding herbs bay leaf, stock, cold water, putting it in the oven on really really low to cook all day whilst I was too busy to be there!

What I am trying to say is that cooing doesn't have to be a performance, it doesn't have to look like art work or be full of fancy ingredients, save that for when you do have dinner parties, you just need to get some basic bung it together cooking going on. The kind that requires little thought and virtually no effort.

Maybe readers could give an example of their midweek no time to cook meals, maybe we could draw up a basic meal plan for you for a week including lunches, taking into account your rowing and other commitments....

Yours, with only a small hint of dearie me,


Guilt, shame and all manner of apologies

Dear Ruth, 

Yes I still exist. I can only admire your tenacity to keep putting up recipes that it seems I never get round to trying. Perhaps I need to invite people over to dinner regularly so that I'm forced to practice and pull out the stops?

These last few weeks have been rotten, food wise. I have been a slave to the processed food industry, with pizzas, frozen fish and chips, or just soups forming my staple. For lunch, the canteen sandwiches. I can't even make my own damn sandwiches anymore. Even my trusty bowl of porridge has gone wanting in favour of a banana and pastry with my regular coffee.

In some ways I regret you being so far away that you can only keep trying. In other ways, it spares me the kick up the a*** that I have no doubt you'd powerfully deliver. In my defence, I have been poorly, and my appetite has seemingly vanished. I wrote about my appetite returning after I potted peas the other day and thought back to their instant health kick, but alas it was a false dawn. 

I feel like I'm playing catch up. Never the food in the flat, never the time to cook it. I need to wrest back control and start eating properly again. Have faith in me and keep up the recipes as the way you approach food does inspire me, and I'm sure others. If you're not convinced, watch this. You may or may not like Jamie Oliver, but this speech below did get me thinking seriously about my own diet and then I also thought about you and your 5 boys who have probably had the best upbringing in Dorset

Yours sheepishly


Chickpea Burgers ( #fridayfeasts at #thebreakfastclub)

Hello everyone

I thought for this week's Friday feast I would share a family favourite with you. Chickpea burgers. Very easy to make, nutritious, nice hot or cold, can be made in advance and fridged, work well as a veggie option on the barbeque and take hardly anytime to prepare or cook, can be made from store cupboard staples and so are great when you are in a hurry.


1 can chickpeas (400g ish) drained
1 medium onion
3 slices of bread (Gluten free would work too)
large pinch salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground coriander
2 tsp ground cumin (or 1 of  ground, 1 of seeds)
1 egg
1 tbsp oil for frying


1  Peel and finely cop the onion, then saute until cooked, but not coloured

2  In a food processor, whizz up the chick peas until they look like this...

3  Add slices of bread and re blend

4  Add all of the spices, salt, egg and onions and whizz up some more

   Now for the messy part, making your burgers.

5  Firstly put a frying pan on to a medium heat with the oil, and wet your hands (this helps to stop the mixture sticking to you)

6  Now take egg sized amounts of the mixture and make into patties, they should be about the size of jam tart and about 1-2 cm thick

7  You will probably have about 10 burgers. If you don't need them straight away, cover them and fridge them, otherwise fry them in two batches. A couple of minutes on each side should be enough to brown them and heat them through

8  Serve straight away in a pitta bread or tortilla wraps with salad, or in a roll with sauce, or on their own with a chutney or sweet chilli sauce. OR let them cool and pack them up for lunch boxes or picnics 

Hints, tips and ideas

These burgers would taste nice with some fresh coriander in the mixture, or a bit of chilli if you like heat.

For a fresh taste add chopped spring onions or chives.

Serve them up with a yoghurt and mint sauce or with sweet chilli and salads.

Work well in pitta breads for lunch boxes.

Let us know what you think.



This is a very cheap meal, you can use stale bread, a can of chick peas is roughly 50p and 1 egg, then you have enough to feed 4 people.

I have used tinned chickpeas because re hydrating the dried ones never quite gets them to the same texture, I save the dried ones for casseroles, Moroccan stews and hummous

All scone!

Dear Tom

Glad you enjoyed your weekend away, fab scenery, and no injuries skiing either!

Pleased you got chance to make pancakes, although with no photographic proof, do we believe it?? You can make up a batch, and keep them in the fridge for a week, not that we ever have any left over batter.

I thought for the next cookery challenge I would try and combine some basic baking with your need to cook meat.

Cheese and bacon scones, lovely to look at, lovely to smell cooking and who wouldn't like a freshly baked still warm scone?

They are easy to make, mine were done from ingredients to cooling rack in 15 minutes, so hardly time consuming either.

Cheese and Bacon Scones


8oz/225g Self Raising Flour
2oz/50g Butter
2oz Mature Cheddar cheese, grated
1/4 pint milk
2 rashers of bacon, fried and cut into very small pieces
1 teaspoon of dried mustard powder (optional, and you could add herbs or normal mustard instead)
Pinch of salt

1 Put the flour, salt and mustard powder into a bowl, add butter and rub together until it looks like breadcrumbs.

2 Mix in the bacon pieces

3 Add the milk in one go, mix with a metal spoon to make a dough

4 Lightly flour your work surface and roll out the dough to a depth of 1inch, it may look too thick, but any thinner and you'll have biscuits not scones and you won't be able to slice them through the middle

5 Cut into rounds, my dough made 8

6 Pop onto a baking tray, either sprinkle with a little more cheese, or milk wash the tops and then put them into the oven for 10-12 minutes, until golden and hollow sounding when you tap the bottoms

7 Cool on a wire rack, but not completely as they are best eaten warm, sliced through the middle, and buttered


Omit bacon and add some finely chopped chives

Add Blue cheese instead of Cheddar

Omit cheese and bacon, and add dried fruit instead, then slice and top with jam and clotted cream

I would love to hear about other people's alternatives, so please leave your tips in the comments box

Yours, scones all scone,