Posts Tagged ‘Jamie Oliver’

This morning we came downstairs to see if the Easter Bunny had been while we slept and surprise, surprise he had! Last Easter was Izzy’s first proper taste of chocolate and I remember being astounded that following the Easter Egg hunt she knew exactly what to do with the wee foil wrapped eggs and was quickly well into her first chocolate buzz! She has never looked back. Of course chocolate is not an every day food and rather than label it as a ‘treat’ I prefer to say it is just something we have a small amount of every now and then. However ask Izzy at any time what she wants to eat and she will say one of two things – fish fingers or chocolate! It’s harder to keep a lid on the chocolate consumption at Easter!

The Easter Bunny had put together a wee basket that contained a couple of hollow eggs along with bunny hair accessories & jewellery, an egg cup, wind up bunny & chick, books……but Izzy goes straight for the larger hollow egg contained in the Peppa Pig mug and within 30 seconds of being downstairs (circa 7.30am) this was the scene……

No doubt there was a similar scene being played out in households around the world . Well if you can’t have chocolate  for breakfast at Easter when can you?!

Despite yet another rubbish weather forecast we decided to take a chance and take Izzy out to Xmas Tree Farm to feed the animals. Within a couple of minutes of arriving we were in the midst of a hail storm which luckily lasted only a few minutes.

Unfortunately Izzy is a complete wuss when it comes to animals – even the fluffy bunnies! She loves to look but no touching – also she didn’t like the sheep looking at her so James had to stand in front of them so she could walk past. We need to get her back to NZ quick – life would be a misery if you were scared to look at sheep there!!

As close as Izzy was getting!

Back home it was time to think about dinner and I had defrosted some lamb with the intention to make a Ragu I found in Jamie’s latest issue.  Nice and simple and tasty but not as thick as I expected a Ragu to be. This is probably my fault as I used 2 tins of tomatoes rather than 6 fresh – perhaps a little more juice than needed. I was also surprised that this recipe used white wine rather than red – next time I think I will try the red (its about as experimental as I get!!). Izzy certainly seemed to enjoy it although she has perfected the art of extracting the meat and pasta and consuming as little as possible of the sauce (aversion to tomatoes and onions!).

Ragu D’Agnello (courtesy of Jamie Magazine)


2 Tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

400g boneless lamb, finely diced

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

2 fresh bay leaves

1 Tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped

50g pancetta, finely diced (optional)

6 plum tomatoes, peeled, deseeded and chopped

200ml white wine

Macaroni, penne or other short pasta and grated pecorino cheese, to serve

Heat the oil in a saucepan over a medium heat and saute the onion for about 5 minutes, until softened. Add the lamb and cook for 8 minutes, or until browned. Add the garlic, bay leaves, rosemary and pancetta (if using), and cook for a few minutes, till the garlic is softened. Stir in the tomatoes and cook for 5 minutes. Add the wine, stir, and allow to evaporate, then season generously with sea salt & black pepper. Cover the pot and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 1 -1 1/2 hrs or until lamb is tender and sauce has thickened. Serve with short pasta and grated pecorino.

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One of the highlights of having Mum & Dad stay with us over the Christmas period was just doing the normal things together, like having a meal together. It’s the small things I miss about not living closer. The ability to go to your parent’s for Sunday dinner or have them over for a Saturday night takeaway is something that would be easy to take for granted but as we live many miles (and many $$$) apart it is something I will never take for granted.

I really enjoyed cooking for Mum & Dad while they were with us and as they were both laid up with injuries that was lucky!!

One chilly day Justine, Jon & Easton came to join us for lunch and so I needed to make something warming, meat free and enjoyable for adults and children alike. Macaroni Cheese seemed to tick all those boxes and so I turned to trusty reliable Jamie for a tasty recipe. I say this entry is ‘One for Dad’ as he seemed to particularly enjoy it and as he is at home now recuperating from knee surgery maybe Mum can make it for him…from me of course! Although I wish I could – another bummer about living so far away!

Another bonus of this dish is that it was a great way to get tomatoes into Izzy – no matter how we try she will not eat them in their natural form. Takes after her Uncle Dougie!!!

Tomato Macaroni Cheese (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s Dinners)


340g macaroni

200g bread, preferably stale, for making breadcrumbs

800g super ripe tomatoes

1 clove of garlic, peeled

2 large handfuls of fresh basil

55g sun dried tomatoes, chopped

2 anchovies

3 handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

565ml single cream

1 Tbsp red wine vinegar

1/2 a nutmeg, grated

400g cows milk mozzarella, broken up

a handful of fresh thyme, leaves picked

extra virgin olive oil

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Preheat your oven to 200C. Get a pan of salted boiling water going and cook your macaroni according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile, break your bread up, place it in the food processor and whizz up to form breadcrumbs. Set aside. Wash your tomatoes and place them in the food processor with the garlic, basil, sun-dried tomatoes, anchovies and a good pinch of salt & pepper. Whizz up for 30 seconds. Then add 2 handfuls of the Parmesan, the cream, vinegar and grated nutmeg. Whizz until smooth and season carefully to taste so it’s really yummy!

By this time your macaroni will probably be cooked, so drain it in a colander, saving some of the cooking water. Place the pasta back into the pan and pour over every last bit of the cheesy sauce. You want it to be quite loose because you’ll be surprised how quickly the sauce will disappear inside the macaroni and will look dry. So add a few spoonfuls of the reserved cooking water. Now you need to get yourself a baking dish about 8-10 cm / 3 or 4 inches deep – this could be an earthenware dish or even a shallow ovenproof pan. Pour the pasta straight into your baking dish and break the mozzarella into little pieces over the top. Mix the last handful of Parmesan with the thyme leaves and breadcrumbs and sprinkle evenly over the top of the dish. Drizzle generously with good extra virgin olive oil – this will give you a lovely crunchy topping.

Place in the preheated oven for around 15 minutes until bubbly and crispy and golden on top. Serve straight away, sprinkled with a little extra Parmesan. Best eaten with a nice salad – and you’ll love it.

Now I didn’t take any pics of this meal but I can share a pic of Nana & Poppa’s visit and also one of Easton modelling the apron and chef’s hat Mum made for him – love it!

My future son in law!!

Lastly, we also swung by Primrose Bakery and picked up a selection of cupcakes – they were better second time around. I love the Lime & Coconut and I will definitely be whipping up a batch in the not too distant future. As the Primrose Bakery cookbook now adorns my bookshelf I love tasting how it is supposed to taste – sort of like a try before you buy/ bake!

Primrose Bakery Cupcakes

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Come Sunday and I still had a cabbage in the fridge from our last PYO session and in the spirit of waste not, want not I needed to find a recipe that would incorporate this into our dinner. To me cabbage screams coleslaw but the main problem with coleslaw is that it is usually drowning in mayonnaise – yuck!

So a quick scour through a couple of cookbooks and I found Jamie’s Winter Veg Coleslaw and the dressing is yoghurt instead of mayonnaise so big plus! Another bonus is that we got to put our Mandoline to good use – I hate chopping and knowing this Mer bought me one for my birthday. They are a god send when it comes to dishes like this!!

We also had some Hake fillets in the fridge and I made a tartare sauce and a crumb topping (as instructed by Delia) and served the grilled fish alongside the coleslaw. I will share the Fish recipe at another time. I did open up the River Cottage Fish book but no recipes from Hugh although there was a very interesting section about the different fish species and the threats facing them. It was the first time I had read up on this and was surprised to find that Hake is a fish best avoided (due to extensive over fishing by Spain in particular) as stocks are so low and it has been rated by the Marine Conservation as ‘5’ – Don’t Eat! However the South African Hake Trawl Fishery is fishing Cape Hake in a sustainable way so the Southern stocks are doing much better than the Northern. I was very relieved to find that the fillets I had purchased from Sainsburys were in fact from South Africa and approved by the Marine Stewardship Council. Will definitely be taking more notice of which fish is sustainable and which is not.

According to Hugh F-W (The River Cottage Fish Book) the ten fish to avoid are as follows:-

1. Whitebait

2. Cod from the UK unless MSC certified or organically farmed

3. Hake

4. Bluefin tuna

5. Sharks and Huss, all types except dogfish

6. Skate and rays, unless one of the 3 sustainable species

7. Wild Halibut

8. Sea bass

9. Wild salmon

10. Eel

So, back to the Coleslaw. We have had this over 2 dinners now and still have a big bowl left!

The Best Winter Veg Coleslaw (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie at Home)


2 carrots, different colours if you can find them, peeled

1 bulb of fennel, trimmed

Use at least 2 of the following: 3-4 radishes; 1 light coloured beetroot, peeled; 1 turnip, peeled; 1/2 a small celeriac, peeled

400g red and white cabbage, outer leaves removed

1/2 a red onion, peeled

1 shallot, peeled

1 lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

A handful of fresh soft herbs – mint, fennel, dill, parsley, chervil

250ml yoghurt

2 Tbsp mustard

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Shred the carrot, fennel and your choice of radishes, beetroot, turnip or celeriac on a mandoline, or use the julienne slicer in your food processor. Put the veg in a mixing bowl. Slice the cabbage, onion and shallot as finely as you can and add to the bowl.

in a separate bowl, mix half the lemon juice, a glug of EVOO, the chopped herbs, yoghurt and mustard. Pour this dressing over the veg and mix well to coat everything. Season to taste with S & P and the rest of he lemon juice if you like.

Really delicious served with thinly sliced leftover roast lamb, pork or rare roast beef, drizzled with EVOO.


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Once kids are in the picture dinner parties become a thing of the past, or should I say civilised dinner parties become a thing of the past!  Now we opt for dinner with friends that everyone can take part in – including the kids! Over the summer we had a couple of pizza nights – having made the dough and sauce – everyone makes up their own pizzas with whatever toppings they fancy. James and I have developed a good system – I prepare the dough and James rolls it out. Works great, and I have to say that they taste so much better then store bought versions. Maybe part of that is the taste of satisfaction when you are feeling all Nigella like for having prepared everything from scratch! I expected it all to be more complicated but it is simple! Make sure you buy a pizza stone – definitely worth it.

This weekend our good buddies the Rhule’s (Jon, Justine & Easton) came over for a spot of face painting and pizza making. All done just in time to settle down in front of X Factor!

A couple of very funny Clowns!!

A couple of very funny Clowns!!

Could there be a cook book more appropriate than ‘Jamie’s Italy’ to turn to in search of a recipe for pizza dough??

Basic Pizza dough (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s Italy)


800g strong white bread flour

200g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour

1 level Tbsp fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast

1 Tbsp golden caster sugar

around 650ml / just over 1 pint lukewarm water

Pile the flours and salt on to a clean surface and make an 18cm well in the centre. Add your yeast and sugar to the tepid water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well (or just chuck it all in the electric mixer like I do!). Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like stodgy porridge – continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat into a ball. Knead the dough by rolling it backwards and forwards, using your left hand to stretch the dough towards you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes until you have a smooth springy soft dough.

Flour the top of the dough, cover it with clingfilm and let it rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. This will make it easier to roll it thinly. Now divide the dough into as many balls as you want to make pizzas i.e. lots of small ones or a few larger ones, but 6 is a good quantity for the dough.

Timing-wise it’s nice to roll the pizzas out 15 to 30 minutes before you start to cook them. If you want to work more in advance, it’s better to keep the dough in clingfilm in the fridge. Take a piece of dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour, and roll it out into a rough circle about 1/2 cm thick. Tear off an approximately sized piece of tin foil and rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour and place the pizza base on top. Continue doing the same with another piece and then if you dust with a little flour you can pile them up into a stack, cover them with clingfilm and put them in the fridge.

When you are ready to cook them, preheat your oven to 250C. At this stage you can apply your toppings. Remember, less is more. If you can, cook the pizza’s on a piece of granite in a conventional oven, if not, do them one by one on the bars of the oven shelf towards the bottom of the oven. (If you are going to cook your pizza’s on the bars of the oven, make sure they are not too big – otherwise they will be difficult to manoeuvre). Cook for 7-10 mins until the pizza’s are golden and crispy.


Family fun

I like to put out a variety of toppings and let everyone just go for it. Some suggestions are:-

Salami, Pepperoni, Chorizo, Ham, Chicken, Turkey, Anchovies

Courgettes, Corn, Pine nuts, Mushrooms, Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Pineapple, Olives, Capers, Jalapeno, Chilli

Grated Mozzarella, Goats Cheese, Brie, Blue Cheese…..basically any sort of cheese


Justine's turn...the vegetarian version!


Jon's up...

Try not to overload too much – I like a good selection but just little bits of this and that. If you overload it the base can go a bit soggy. Being proper pizza rather than a pan base they are not as sturdy for huge amounts of topping.

Of course, a good pizza needs a good tomato sauce……

Tomato Sauce (a la Jamie of course)

Note: I double up on this and find it makes the right amount for 6 pizzas. Always better to have too much than not enough plus you can always throw leftovers in the freezer .


Extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

bunch of fresh bail, leaves picked

1 x 400g of good quality plum tomatoes

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saucepan, add a splash of oil and the sliced garlic and cook gently. When the garlic has turned light golden, add half the basil, the tomatoes and a few pinches of S & P. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, mashing the tomatoes until smooth, then taste, season again and put to one side.

There is a small mystery to Jamie’s recipe….where does the rest of the basil go???

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I Love Sunday

What is there not to love about Sunday, especially when nothing is planned and you have the whole day stretched out before you. It’s even better when Izzy sleeps a little longer than her usual 6am  – last week it was 8.30 – awesome!

James & Izzy headed out for a swim and Mummy got a lie in – bliss! A lovely peaceful morning. I started off flicking through my new Jamie Magazine which only arrived yesterday. I really enjoyed Jamie’s America and this edition of the mag follows on from that. There is a really interesting article that goes behind the scenes of the Wild West episode – I didn’t realise quite what goes into making a series like this!

So I made it to page 38 (of 138) and then found the Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins – straight down to the kitchen to get these in the oven ready for James and Izzy’s return!  Super easy and really really good – perfect Sunday morning muffins!!! Another triumph for Jamie!!

Banana & Coconut Breakfast Muffins (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie Magazine, Issue 6)


100g melted butter

250g self raising flour

1 level tsp baking powder

1 tsp cinnamon

100g honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 large ripe bananas, chopped

2 large eggs

150g plain yoghurt

4 heaped Tbsp desiccated coconut

Vegetable oil for greasing

Preheat the oven to 190C. Bung the ingredients into a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse for the minimum amount of time it takes to get a paste. Don’t over mix it or the muffins won’t be light.

If using paper cases, put those into your muffin tin, if not grease the tin with a little oil and spoon in the mixture. If you want, you can top them with a slice of banana, a raspberry or a sprinkle of desiccated coconut.


Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lovely and golden. Check that the muffins come away from the side of the tin when touched, Let them cool for 10 minutes before scoffing.


These are definitely going to be a more regular feature in our household. Izzy also took a couple over to our lovely neighbour, Sam.


The rest of the day was about left overs and using up what was in the house already. Izzy enjoyed the last of the Celeriac Soup and finished the lot without too much coaxing and then headed off for an afternoon nap (2 days in a row and no grumbles going down – yay!). There was a little bit of bribery of watching Annie and Daddy making popcorn when she woke up – it worked.

Looking in the vege bin we had a build up of odds and ends again and that calls for another batch of Pasta e fagoli. This time made with celeriac, pumpkin (surprise, surprise!), a baby turnip, a few new potatoes, mushrooms, celery, corn and asparagus. Yum yum!!

We still had an abundance of apples left from last week (despite my best intentions of making apple butter) and so James whipped up an apple crumble (no – we do not make desserts every day, or even every week!) and juiced the remaining apples. The crumble was delicious – great way to finish the weekend!

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Well another sunny weekend meant another PYO and we came home with a boot full of pears, eating apples, cooking apples, plums, french beans and sweetcorn – I am going to be busy and I really need to get cracking as I am half way through the week already!!! It would be criminal to let any of this lovely produce spoil!




We have never really been into Sunday roasts (but that could change this winter!) but I do like to make a good meal on a Sunday – feels like you are starting the week on the right foot.  When we were in Scotland I was flicking through Laura’s copy of Happy Days with the Naked Chef and  came across tray baked pork chops with pears, so on the way home from the PYO we stopped in at Drings (our Greenwich butcher) and bought some lush pork chops. The only problem with stopping at Drings is the fact that The Cheeseboard resides next door….so a delicious cheddar and blue cheese later…….

I had also bought some beetroot at the farm shop and so a roasted beetroot and blue cheese salad sounded great! And it was as we had it for dinner last night (I am a bit behind on the blogs)!!!! But for now, back to Sunday…..

Tray baked pork chops with herby potatoes, parsnips, pears and minted bread sauce (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Happy Days with the Naked Chef)


8 pork chops, or 4 double pork chops (I used 6 from the butchers and this was more than enough for 4 people and an Izzy!)

3 parsnips

3 smooth skinned pears

680g potatoes, scrubbed

salt & freshly ground black pepper

For the marinade:-

2 good handfuls of rosemary, pounded (what a smell this creates – amazing!!)

6 cloves of garlic, crushed

10 lugs of olive oil

3 lemons, halved, juiced and skin squashed

freshly ground black pepper

For the minted bread sauce:-

3 handfuls of fresh mint

1 handful of chopped bread

extra virgin OO

salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 teaspoons mustard

red wine vinegar

Make marinade by mixing everything together and then rub and massage pork chops with the marinade and ideally leave for 1-6 hours for maximum flavour.

Pre oven


Preheat the oven to 220C. Wash the parsnips and pears and slice into quarters lengthwise, removing the cores from the pears, then cut the potatoes into 0.5 cm thick pieces. Dry them with kitchen paper, then put them into an appropriately sized roasting tray with the parsnips, pears, pork chops and the marinade. Toss over to lightly coat everything then season and roast in the oven for 45 mins to an hour, depending on the size of the chops.

While the chops and veg are cooking, make the minted bread sauce. It’s great smeared all over the pork.

Finely chop the mint and bread and stir in some olive oil until the mix has ‘loosened’. Then balance the flavours by carefully seasoning, adding the mustard and splashing in some vinegar to taste. The flavour improves with time.

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

We must be on a run at the moment because I was really pleased with how this turned out!. I was not too sure of the potatoes at first as I had failed to toss them while cooking and so had sat in the marinade at the bottom and failed to brown & crisp up but they turned out delicious as they were infused with lemon and lovely and soft. I really enjoyed having the roast pear in the mix too. I know many people who don’t have ‘afters with your dinner’ but I am a big fan of adding this sweetness (no surprise from the lady who loves Moroccan food!) – makes it much more interesting. I remember my Mum always serving friend bananas with schnitzel – don’t know where this comes from or whether it is just a ‘Di’ thing but it works and is such a treat! Of course pork works so well with apple sauce that pear is a natural too.

This was my first attempt at a bread sauce too and it was nice but I must say I do prefer the mint on lamb although that’s not to say I would not make it again with pork. Next time we have lamb I will certainly make the bread sauce rather than have a mint jelly.

This dish can possibly be made mid week too as once it has sat in the marinade, and this could be done the night before, then it is just a matter of putting the tray in the oven.  It is a great result for such little work!!

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I have been very excited about 1st Sept and the release of Jamie’s new book. As I have said before I am a big Jamie fan – I just like his style, his personality and his attitude to food & cooking. He may not have 6 Michelin stars, or even 1 but he has made food exciting for the masses, from the kids at school to pensioners – not just for those that can afford to frequent Le Gavroche or Claridges!

So I was very excited to shoot down to my closest Waterstones and pick up Jamie’s America on Tuesday. Needed it on hand for the start of the accompanying TV series on Tuesday night!!! So, how is Jamie going to cover the whole of America???…well, he’s not really……This new series visits LA, NYC, Louisiana, Arizona, Georgia and the Wild West (Wyoming & Montana). Looking forward to it – especially the time with the Navajo people in Arizona.

The first episode is in LA and thank goodness it’s more than a macrobiotic lettuce leaf. Jamie heads to East LA and spends time with Mexican families and learns about Mexican food (no Taco Bell in sight!). It all looked so blimmin good. There were actually many delicious Mexican salads and I just cannot wait to make some – need to be brave with the chillies though!

Back to Jamie’s book – first page, first recipe!! Burgers!! Although were only using the recipe for the burger mix as I had a jar of freshly made sweetcorn relish beckoning. James actually did all the work this time and then cooked them on the BBQ – delicious! Just a good basic burger mix! According to James this was super simple and quick – just keep in mind that they need to go into the fridge for about an hour before cooking so that they firm up.

Burgers (courtesy of Jamie’s America – Jamie Oliver)


Olive oil

2 medium red onions, peeled and finely chopped

6 Jacob’s crackers or 4 slices of bread, crusts removed

500g good-quality lean minced beef

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic, beaten

a handful of freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put a splash of olive oil into a large frying pan on a low heat and add you chopped onions. Fry for 10 minutes or until the onions have softened, then put to one side to cool completely. Blitz your crackers or bread in a food processor until you get a fine consistency. Oil a clean baking tray and put aside. Put the cooled onions into a large bowl with the rest of the burger ingredients. Use clean hands to scrunch the mixture together really well, then divide into 6 equal balls. Wet your hands and roll the balls into burger-shaped patties about 2cm thick. Place your burgers on the oiled tray and pat with a little olive oil. Cover them with clingfilm and put the try into the fridge for at least an hour, or until the patties firm up.

Open burgers - James' patties and Brodie's relish!

Open burgers - James' patties and Brodie's relish!

On another note, today was the Adidas Women’s 5km challenge in Hyde Park and Izzy & I both managed to come home with a medal. A great day – 17,000 women running & walking for a vast number of charities. This was the 3rd event I have taken part in this summer and as always it was a lot of fun. This time I walked with Justine and raised some money for The Ectopic Pregnancy Trust (every penny helps!) – http://www.ectopic.org.uk

There was also a Kid’s challenge – it was so cute. A 30m race for kids of all ages which was sensor timed – even with the chips tied into their shoe laces. All the kids received a medal and key ring – what a great event. The kid’s were loving it. We were very proud of Izzy – she was awesome!!





Medals for Mummy & Izzy :-)

Medals for Mummy & Izzy 🙂

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My friend Louise has recently bought a house with Adam and as happens when you leave your parents home she is tasked with the joy (or chore, depending on your perspective!) of learning to cook. She has been doing great and this week was very proud of her efforts – even taking a picture to show me. Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of Food is a great cook book to start with as has a good range of dishes for both the beginner and the more experienced cook, for two people or for a family.

I thought Louise’s efforts were definitely worth a blog and so here are the pics and the recipe!! Well done mate!

Minced Beef Wellington (courtesy of Jamie Oliver’s ‘Ministry of Food’)


1 medium onion

1 carrot

1 stick of celery

1 potato

2 cloves of garlic

2 large field or portobello mushrooms

olive oil

4 sprigs of fresh rosemary

a big handful of frozen peas

1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic

500g good-quality minced beef

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

plain flour, for dusting

500g puff pastry, chilled

Preheat the oven to 180C. Peel and chop the onion, carrot, celery and potato into 1cm sized dice. Finely grate the garlic. Clean and roughly chop the mushrooms so they’re about the same size as the other veg. Place all the veg into a large frying pan on a medium low heat with 2 lugs of olive oil. Pick the rosemary off the woody stalks, finely chop them and add to the pan. Fry and stir for around 8 minutes or until the veg soften and colour lightly. Add the frozen peas and cook for another minute. Put the vegetable mixture into a large bowl to cool completely. Crack the egg into a cup and beat it up. Add the minced beef to the bowl with a good pinch of salt and pepper and half the beaten egg. With clean hands, scrunch and mix up well.

Lightly dust your clean work surface and rolling pin with flour and roll out the puff pastry so it is roughly the size and shape of a small tea towel. Dust with flour as you go. Turn your pastry so you have a long edge in front of you and place the mince mixture along this edge. Mould into an even, long sausage shape. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg. Roll the mince up in the pastry until it’s covered completely. Squeeze the ends together – it will look like a big Christmas cracker! Dust a baking tray with flour and place your Wellington on top. Brush all over with the rest of the beaten egg. Bake in the preheated oven for an hour until golden.



Looks like it was big hit with Adam! Delicious!!

Looks like it was big hit with Adam! Delicious!!

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We very rarely buy steak and so when I did this week I decided to go for the good stuff and buy fillets. To accompany this I chose new potatoes, buttered spinach and salsa verde.

I referred to Jamie for buttered spinach but not surprisingly (given the name) it contained a bit much butter for us. I would definitely make it again but only with a small knob of butter. I left James to cook the steak, that is always his job (so I cannot comment on the actual cooking process) and he came up trumps!

To accompany I went back to Jamie’s first book ‘The Naked Chef’ and dug out the recipe for Salsa verde. Meredith makes a great salsa verde with steak and now nothing else is an option! I do not like cream sauces at all and salsa verde is such a contrast to this as is vibrant, tangy & fresh. It is supposed to be hand chopped finely but to be honest I just do not have the time for that sort of malarkey (as my knife skills are pretty poor!) and so into the Magimix it all went. I only had a run of the mill olive oil to hand too and I think a good quality one would have made a difference. It came out tasty but doesn’t match up to Mer’s! Because I had chucked it into the Magimix it came out more of a pesto texture and the balance was not quite right as it was also a bit vinegary (I realise that is not a word but you know what I mean!). I think it needs some further practice.


Salsa Verde (courtesy of Jamie Oliver, The Naked Chef)


1 1/2 – 2 cloves of garlic

1 small handful of capers

1 small handful of pickled gherkins (the ones in sweet vinegar)

6 anchovy fillets

2 large handfuls of fresh flat leaf parsley, picked

1 bunch of fresh basil, picked

1 handful of fresh pint, picked

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Approx 8 tablespoons your best olive oil

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Finely chop all the ingredients (preferably by hand unless you aiming for the pesto texture!!). Put this mixture into a bowl and add the mustard and red wine vinegar. Slowly stir in the olive oil until you achieve the consistency you are looking for, and balance the flavours with freshly ground black pepper, and if necessary, sea salt and red wine vinegar.

We ended up having to bribe Izzy with jelly to get her to even try the spinach and salsa verde. The good news is that she surprised herself and ended up having a couple of mouthfuls of spinach. She was not taken with the S.V but is probably too strong for her taste buds yet.

The jelly went down a treat and was gobbled up at lightning speed!


Overall I found that this created a bit too many pots and pans for a week night and we ended up running late for bath and bed which meant a few tears from an over tired Izzy.

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I am a big fan of Jamie Oliver, get past all the ‘pukka’ and the media image and you have someone who loves food and knows how to get us excited about producing healthy and delicious meals. I have all his cook books and refer to them all the time for family meals & dinner parties as well as breads, pasta and pizza dough.

Lately I have been regularly referring to ‘Jamie’s Ministry of Food’ as there are some great quick recipes which are perfect for mid week meals.  Tonight I made the ‘Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous’. It is the second time I have made it and seriously, it just could not be easier. I left out the chilli and just added a wee bit of mild chilli powder as I didn’t want to lose the taste but needed to keep the heat down for Izzy. It was a success for James & I and a semi success for Izzy – she ate quite a bit but without her usual gusto. The recipe says serves 2 but it was enough for James, Izzy and I and there is still a portion leftover.

The recipe is as follows:-

Spicy Moroccan Stewed Fish with Couscous (courtesy of Jamie Oliver ‘Ministry of Food’)


150g couscous

olive oil

2 lemons

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

2 cloves of garlic

1 fresh red chilli

a bunch of basil

1 teaspoon of whole cumin seeds

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 x 150g white fish fillets, skin off and bones removed

200g king prawns, raw & peeled (I used ready cooked)

1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 handfuls of fresh & frozen peas, broad beans or green beans (or use a mixture)

Put the couscous into a bowl and add a couple of tablespoons of olive oil. Halve the lemons and squeeze in the juice from two of the halves. Add a pinch of salt & pepper. Pour in just enough boiling water to cover the couscous, then cover the bowl with a plate or clingfilm. Let the couscous soak up the water for 10 minutes.

Get a large saucepan on a medium heat. Peel & finely slice garlic. Finely slice your chilli. Pick the bail leaves off the stalks. Put the smaller ones to one side and roughly chop the larger ones. Add a couple of lugs of olive oil to the hot pan. Add the garlic, chilli, basil, cumin seeds and cinnamon. Give it all a stir and put the fish fillets on top. Scatter over the prawns. Add the tinned tomatoes and the peas and beans. Squeeze in the juice from the two remaining lemon halves. Put a lid on the pan. Bring to the boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer and cook for about 8 minutes, or unti the fish is cooked through, and flakes easily. Taste, and season with salt & pepper.

By the time the fish is cooked, the couscous should have sucked up all the water and be ready to serve. Spoon the couscous into a large serving bowl and give it a stir with a fork to help it fluff up. Top with the fish, vegetables and juices from the pan, sprinkle with the reserved basil leaves and tuck in!

Couscous topped with.......

Couscous topped with.......

.....spicy Moroccan stewed fish.

.....spicy Moroccan stewed fish.

I have also put some jelly in the fridge to set for Izzy. I have done these a few times and most of the time they have been a success. Just once they refused to set. I didn’t have quite enough gelatine so reduced the liquid as well. It is so easy and has to better than jelly packets!

Home-Made Fruit Jelly (courtesy of Annabel Karmel, New Complete Baby and Toddler Meal Planner)


600ml cranberry & raspberry juice (or any other raspberry juice)

4 sheets of gelatine

2 Tbsp caster sugar

125g fresh raspberries

Place half of the juice in a small saucepan and heat until just at boiling point. Remove from the heat and stir in the gelatine and caster sugar until dissolved. If not completely dissolved, stir over a low heat but do not boil. Pour this into the remaining cold juice and then pour into a serving dish and stir in the raspberries. Refrigerate until set.


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