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Spinach, Courgette, Lemon and Feta Soup

Posted on August 5, 2011 by     Leave a comment

This is a pleasant summery soup – very healthy and quite light. Doesn’t really need bread but can be served with some if a more filling lunch is needed. And it’s very, very green!

Ingredients (serves 2-4):

  • 2 courgettes
  • 1 bag spinach
  • 1/4 of a good stock cube
  • feta cheese
  • one small preserved lemon
  • 3/4 pint of water


Top and tail the courgettes and chop into chunks.
Remove any rough stalks or bad leaves from the spinach then roughly chop.
Dice feta into small cubes; finely dice the lemon.


Place some olive oil in the base of a large pan (it only needs to be large to get the spinach in at the start!), add the courgette and season with black pepper. Cook until sizzling and slightly softened, then add the spinach, stock cube and water. Place a lid on the pan and leave to simmer for about 5 or 6 minutes.

Either transfer to a blender or, for a rougher texture, hand blend for a couple of minutes. Place back on a very low heat and, once hot, turn off heat and add the lemon and feta cheese. Leave for a minute, then serve. Drizzle a little yoghurt over the top, if wished.


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It’s Just an Ingredient

Posted on July 13, 2011 by     Leave a comment

Some years ago I was mildly ridiculed for commenting on part of a dish at a friend’s dinner party being the best thing on the plate. I was ridiculed because this was a bought item; a mushroom “casserole” of sorts and absolutely delicious; the attitude ranged from humour to mild, snobbish sneer (this was, after all, a jar of pre-cooked goodness picked up from Milan airport, the provenance and cosmopolitan nature of which acquisition was quite enough to impress me).

I was rattled, not knowing some of the people there so didn’t persist as I usually would.

The point being, I didn’t say “this thing you cooked is lovely”, I commented on the thing itself being lovely, which is perhaps where the detail was missed. As much as sourcing a good lamb steak, succulent tomatoes or fresh scallops is a thing that cooks enjoy so that they can then cook, so is sometimes realising that all the hard work has already been done, and done well, so why bother. Like croissants. Worth making once just so you know exactly why you’ll never bother again.

Tonight was of that ilk: bought pasta cooked and then just rolled with some tomatoes, chopped celery leaf and a dash of cheap truffle oil. Served with courgettes cooked with butter, garlic and black pepper – I like courgettes cooked like this so that they, like the pasta are almost al dente – the outer edges get a little translucent and they burst with moisture. Yummy.

Cooking time for two: 12 minutes from arriving home to sat on lap.

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Crottin with Red Pepper and Fig Salad

Posted on July 3, 2011 by     Leave a comment

Ingredients (serves 8):

  • 8 crottin de chavignol or other small, whole goats cheese (full rind)
  • 1 bag of lamb’s lettuce (or rocket)
  • 1 large red pepper
  • 2 or 3 ripe, fresh figs
  • 8-10 slices of serrano ham
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • fresh black pepper


Place red pepper in oven at 190C for 15-30 minutes until blackened on the outside to some degree; remove, place in a bowl, clingfilm and leave to one side.

Slice each piece of ham, carefully, lengthways and use each strip to wrap around the cheese first over the top, then around the side. Press together in hands, wipe with olive oil and reserve in fridge (note: if using something a little larger than crottin de chavignol, you may need more ham and perhaps not slice it up first!).  When the pepper has coooled for a little while, remove clingfilm and run under a cold tap, peeling away the skin. It should come away easily. Place the skinned pepper in a tupperware tub and leave, also fridged.



When ready to make the starter, remove the prepared ingredients from the fridge. Turn oven to 140C. Lightly oil a tray and place cheeses on, then place in oven.

Meanwhile, share the lamb’s lettuce around the plates, arranged in a ring, slice the pepper into strips and add three to each plate (odd numbers always look better!), then chop the figs and do the same.

Check the cheese: it may take anywhere between 5 and 10 minutes or a little longer. The aim is to get it softened (check by pressing a finger) and gooey but not bubble out into a flat mess. If any cheese is leaking after 5 minutes, turn down the heat and keep a close eye on it. If it continues, remove and serve.

Drizzle the salad with oil and vinegar. Place the cheese in the centre of the ring. Crack pepper over the top and serve immediately.

Crottin with Red Pepper and Fig Salad


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Pork Tenderloin and Veg

Posted on June 7, 2011 by     Leave a comment

Finally got some vegetables back in from Riverford so had to make something vaguely reasonable, although no real options on the meat front. In the end, wrapped some pork tenderloin in proscuitto, lightly stuffed with some slices of olives and preserved lemon then baked in oven for 20 minutes.

Carrots, celery and apple to go with it, pan-fries in stages, with a touch of chilli oil and celery leaf garnish.

Surprisingly yummy!








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