A bacon burger without the burger

Sometimes I have a craving for a real nice burger. The kind of burger that seems too big to be able to bite into. The kind of burger that leaves you with meat juices and ketchup running down your hands. The kind of burger that makes your mouth fill with saliva just by looking at it. I don’t always have fresh minced meat at home or the typical sesame burger buns. So I cheat. I use bacon instead of ground meat. The rest really remains the same, a nice roll (in this case ciabatta), mayo, mustard, ketchup, fresh onions, tomatoes and gherkins.

Bacon burger without the bacon


Pulled lamb shoulder with sticky pomegranate glaze

I came across this recipe in an old magazine at my Doctor’s surgery and thanks to 21st century technology I didn’t have to sit there and carefully try to rip out that page without making any noise but I could simply search for it on my iPhone!

I decided to make this yesterday and luckily I looked up the recipe on Saturday morning and saw that I had to marinate the lamb for 24 hours! The recipe is really easy and takes no effort whatsoever and it turns out beautifully sticky, moist, tender and oh so delicious!


The only thing I changed was I added chilli flakes into the glaze and extra stock as we like sauce on our meat. And next time I make this again, I will add fresh chilli peppers into the marinade and add more cumin and cinnamon, it can do with a bit more flavour. Not that there wasn’t enough, it was just a bit on the quiet side I thought.

Overall a fantastic recipe. I made potato wedges with it, green beans and of course the yogurt dip as mentioned in the recipe. Go and make this recipe, I can totally recommend it.

And aren’t I lucky? I get to eat this again tonight as there was enough leftover!

Thai Meatball Coconut Curry

I tried out this recipe from the delicious magazine website for a thai meatball coconut curry and while I will make this again I also have to say not without the addition of several things. I followed the recipe (for half the amount) and I found it bland. The taste was overwhelmingly coconut and it was very mild, there were hardly any flavours left of the spices that went in. So I spiced it up with several more chillis, more of the curry paste and I also added tamarind chutney. The red peppers were paired up with a bok choi as I felt there was a green missing. The meatballs however were amazing. The lime zest made all the difference. I used half pork half beef mince for the meatballs, simply because I had some minced beef in the fridge that needed to be used up. The meatballs tasted light and fresh, so different to the meatballs that go with pasta.

There is a lot of chopping going on, it takes a while to prepare all the ingredients but that’s by no means a criticism. Quite the opposite, I find the methodical approach calms me down and chills me out.

Quick and easy sausage rolls

In 1946 George Orwell described the bar food in his ideal pub in the essay, The Moon Under Water: “You cannot get dinner at the Moon Under Water, but there is always the snack counter where you can get liver-sausage sandwiches, mussels (a speciality of the house), cheese, pickles and those large biscuits with caraway seeds in them which only seem to exist in public-houses.”

I’m not offering mussels to my local pub but I seem to be doing well with my other savoury snacks… like the pork pies or scotch eggs I made a few weeks ago and the sausage rolls that I baked last Saturday.

They are really easy to make and take hardly any time:

You will need:

ready rolled puff pastry sheet
Cumberland chipolatas
fresh thyme leaves, salt and black pepper
beaten egg yolks

How many of the above you’ll need depends entirely on how many sausage rolls you want to make. One sheet of puff pastry is enough for 10 rolls.
Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas 6.
Unroll the sheet and put on a floured surface. Slightly roll the pastry with a rolling pin into a bigger rectangle. Cut it once in the middle lengthwise, then cut both smaller rectangles into five equal sections. You now have 10 rectangles in total. Brush one end of each rectangle with a little of the beaten egg, lay a sausage at the other end, then season the sausage with salt and freshly ground black pepper and sprinkle with thyme leaves.
Roll the sausage up in the pastry to enclose and repeat with all the sausages.
Put the sausage rolls in the fridge for 20 minutes for the pastry to harden. Once the pastry is hard, remove the sausage rolls from the fridge and score the tops with a sharp knife for decoration. Brush well all over with the the beaten egg yolks and bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until the pastry has turned golden-brown and looks crisp. Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly before serving.

Hung Shao Pork

I adapted this from Delia Smith’s recipe. The recipe calls for a fireproof casserole dish which I don’t have, mine are only good for the oven but not for the hob (I cook with gas) so I had to think outside the box!

450g belly pork, including the skin (buy it as a whole piece)

for the marinade:
6 tbsp dark soy sauce
½ cup of hot water
1 tsp Chinese five spice
2 tsp brown sugar
a thumb size piece of finely chopped fresh ginger
1 red chilli finely chopped.

You will also need
a handful of dried porcini mushrooms

green vegetable selection
(1 leek, 2 salad onions, small savoy cabbage, all finely shredded)


First I cut the skin of the belly pork with a sharp knife in a crisscross pattern so it would be easier to cut the pork into cubes once it’s cooked. Rub some salt into the skin.

Put the kettle on and boil some water. Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water while you prepare the marinade/sauce. Marinate the meat in the sauce, then place the meat with the marinade in an ovenproof casserole dish. Add the porcini mushrooms (without the water!), then stick the dish in a preheated oven (gasmark 4) and cook for about 90 minutes.
Once the 90 minutes are over crank the oven up to a high temperature to get a nice crackling on the pork and put the water on for your rice. When the water for your rice boils, take the pork out of the oven and let it rest in the sauce.
Boil the rice and steam your vegetables (I did buy the green vegetable selection that was on offer)
Take the pork out of the sauce and cut it into cubes. Taste the sauce and if needed season it. Dish up by putting the rice into the middle of a plate, the vegetables on top and finally the pork cubes. Spoon the sauce with the mushrooms over it! This tasted absolutely delicious and was so easy to cook!

Simple tomato and chorizo spaghetti

I first wanted to have a meat free evening meal but then I spotted a chorizo in my fridge and thought it’s perfect for spicing up my tomato sauce!


2 chorizo sausages cut lengthwise and then sliced
1 yellow or red onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
a healthy glug of olive oil
1 tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp dried mixed Italian herbs
1 tsp sugar
½ tsp of cayenne pepper
½ a pint of tomato juice
a few drops of Worcester sauce
salt and pepper for seasoning
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
freshly chopped basil

Put a deep pan on the stove, turn the heat on and slowly fry the chorizo, onions and chilli in the olive oil. Once the onions turn a bit softer add the garlic. Then add the rest of the ingredients and bring to the boil. Turn the heat down and let it simmer until your noodles are ready. Plate up and sprinkle with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese.

Lentil Soup with Frankfurters

Tonight we’re having lentil soup with Frankfurters. The weather is exactly right for it. Cold, damp, foggy … simply horrible but perfect for being indoors with a nice, hot soup!


1 pound Puy lentils
olive oil
3 chopped onions
2 chopped leeks (leave the dark bit out!)
2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 chopped bunch of celery (about 8 stalks)
4 chopped carrots
¾ litre of chicken stock
1/2 small tin of tomato puree
2 tbsp. malt vinegar
1 pack of Frankfurters cut into bite size pieces
freshly grated parmesan
1 bunch of chopped fresh parsley

Soak the lentils in boiling water for about 15 minutes. If you can’t get dried lentils, use the ones from a tin, they are just as good. I like green lentils, they have a peppery flavour and keep a firm texture after cooking.
Heat the olive oil in a big pot over medium heat and sauté the onions, leeks, garlic, salt and pepper, thyme and cumin for about 20 minutes until the vegetables are soft and almost translucent. Add the celery and carrots and sauté for another ten minutes. Add the stock, tomato puree and the drained lentils. Stir, cover and bring to a boil. Now reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for a good hour. Taste to see if you need more seasoning. Add the vinegar, Frankfurters and the parsley. Once the sausages are heated through (they change shape once they’re hot) the soup is ready. Sprinkle with some freshly grated parmesan once you’ve ladled the soup into bowls.
This makes a lot of soup. If you don’t want to feed the army, just take half of the ingredients. I like making lots as I freeze some of it to have “for a rainy day” 😉

Sunday Roast: Lamb

Now that the weather is colder and you have to think about turning on the heating when you come home (and I’ve turned it on already because I refuse to sit in my own home and freeze to death) my mind wanders to homely dishes like stews and roasts … comfort food as my husband would call it. So yesterday I made a nice roast lamb. I bought a carvery lamb leg and a couple of lamb shanks as I wasn’t quite sure how many people we would be and I thought, if we don’t eat all on Sunday we’ll have leftovers for Monday, so either way I wasn’t bothered about having a lot of meat.
I salted and peppered my lamb, then seared the shanks and the leg on all sides in a hot pan before I took it all out to put it in my roasting tin. I also roasted some vegetables in the same pan (onions, garlic, leeks, carrots) to go in with the meat. I added some fresh rosemary and filled up the roasting tin with good homemade lamb stock (previously made and frozen). Up into the oven for a good couple of hours and then served with roasted potatoes, green beans and Brussels sprouts.
While I just about remembered to take a picture of the lamb before I put it in the oven I forgot to take a picture when I took it out. I was too busy making my gravy, dishing up and then eating! It’s not important I think. Everyone knows what roast lamb looks like 😉

Beef and Ale Stew

I am sure you do the same, when you cook something that you’ve made many times before you just throw the things together and ignore the original recipe and the listed amounts of ingredients.
Same with this beef and ale stew… I’ve made it many times before but every time it tastes different. Last time I used the wrong ale, it tasted too bitter. So this time I opted for an ale that was described to have “fruity and nutty flavour”, the Double Dragon Ale. It was also on offer 😉

Here is my recipe (for 4-6 people):

500 gram diced lean beef (stewing beef for example)
5 carrots (chopped coarsely into chunks)
half a parsnip (cut into small chunks, I use them only for flavour in this recipe
about 10 peeled shallots (depends on the size, I used the long ones not the round ones)
1 pack of brown mushrooms (cleaned and left whole)
1 table spoon of brown sugar
1 table spoon of concentrated tomatoes
1 bottle of ale
about 1 pint of vegetable stock
freshly ground pepper
1 dried chilli
3 cloves of garlic
1 bay leaf
a good handful of small new potatoes
potato flour for thickening
bunch of flat parsley

Brown the beef in a big pot (I use my pressure cooker) in some olive oil (or vegetable oil, it doesn’t matter), add the carrots, shallots, mushrooms and potatoes. Add the brown sugar and tomato mark as well as the garlic cloves and the bay leaf. Season with salt and pepper; add the bottle of ale and the vegetable stock.
Since I cook my stew in a pressure cooker it doesn’t take long to cook it. Once the little “nipple” is up, I turn the cooker down to the lowest heat and let it simmer for about half an hour.
Once it is ready just thicken it to your liking. Dish up and sprinkle some chopped parsley over it. We like our stew quite hot so I also serve sour cream with my stew.