Boxing Day Red Cabbage

You need:

  • One red cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • Few cloves
  • 2 eating apples
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tbsp sugar

Quarter the cabbage, remove the core and slice thinly. Fill a large saucepan with enough water to almost cover the cabbage, but don’t add the cabbage yet. Bring to the boil, and add the vinegar (helps the cabbage keep its colour), cabbage and cloves. Cover, bring to the boil again, then simmer until the cabbage is cooked (around 20 minutes). Unlike most leafy veg, which need a small amount of water and quick cooking to preserve nutrients and taste, and avoid being reduced to a pulpy mess, red cabbage is quite tough and needs the extra water and cooking time.

While the cabbage is cooking, quarter and core the apples, and slice them. Heat the oil in a large wok and stir fry the apples until they turn golden.

When the cabbage is cooked, drain well, add to the wok with the sugar and stir-fry for a few minutes. If you see any of the cloves while doing this, remove them. If you don’t get them all (you did count them in, didn’t you?), just warn your guests that if they think they have found a clove, they are probably correct.

If you don’t eat it all on Boxing Day, this keeps well in the fridge, and reheats well in the microwave too.

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January 1, 2014 · 4:33 pm

Friday Pasta

It’s Friday and time to use up the left-overs in the fridge. In my case, that’s some cold roast chicken breast, a red pepper and some salad leaves. Here’s what I did.

Ingredients (for four)

8oz pasta
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red pepper, chopped
cold chicken, diced
1 jar Pesto (I used Roasted Pepper, but another flavour would do)
grated parmesan
any other leftovers to serve


Bring a large pan of water to the boil. When it’s boiling well, add the pasta. Keep the lid off the pan until it comes back to the boil, then replace the lid and turn down the heat.

While the pasta is cooking, heat the olive oil in a frying pan, add the chopped pepper and chopped chicken, and fry lightly to heat through and add a bit of colour .

When the pasta is done (about 5 minutes from the time it came back to the boil), drain it, then return it to the pan, and mix in the fried pepper and chicken, and the jar of pesto. Serve with grated parmesan, lots of black pepper and anything else you need to use up. In my case, I made a salad with the leaves, a few halved plum tomatoes, and some cucumber.

You can be creative with this, depending on what is in the fridge. You could chop and fry other meat, fish or vegetables, for example, bacon, courgettes, carrots, depending on what needs using up. If you have other vegetables that need a good home too,  you could serve them instead of a salad with the pasta.

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Filed under Food, Pasta, Recipes

Something Crumble

This delicious variant on a fruit crumble was named by my husband when he asked me what was for pudding, and got a rather vague reply. My mind was elsewhere, and I probably said “Oh, something”. The crumble topping is my standard recipe (slightly crispy and slightly chewy and very satisfying), but I fancied something a bit different for the filling this time. When I make a crumble, I usually make the topping in bulk as it keeps well in the fridge for a few weeks. Then I’ve got a quick and easy pudding option for later in the week.

Ingredients (for four)


2 large cooking apples
2 tbsps lemon juice
1 oz sugar
2 oz sultanas
1 oz flaked almonds
4 tbsp Drambuie or other liqueur (try Cointreau, Southern Comfort or Amaretto, perhaps?)


3 oz butter
3 oz plain flour
3 oz porridge oats
1 oz Demerara sugar


Peel, core and slice the apples. Place them in an ovenproof dish, add the lemon juice, sugar and sultanas and stir to mix everything together and coat the apples with the lemon juice. Cover with foil and put in a moderate over (around 160-180 degrees) for 20 minutes or so while you make the crumble.

For the crumble, rub the flour into the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Because of the fat to flour ratio here, the result will tend to be clumpy, rather than being fine and separate as you would expect when making shortcrust pastry. I use a hand mixer to do this – you don’t need to be too worried about a light hand here. You’re looking to mix the flour and butter together, but stop before you get a solid doughy lump. Next, mix in the oats and sugar.  I do this with a few more whizzes of the hand mixer.

Remove the apples from the oven, stir in the flaked almonds and the liqueur of your choice. Top with the crumble mix, and return to the oven, uncovered, for 20 minutes, or until the crumble topping is golden brown.

I like to serve this with a scoop of good quality vanilla ice cream, as I think that works well with the fruity, nutty filling, and the oaty crumble, but you could serve with cream or custard if you like, or even cream and custard as a friend of mine likes to choose if possible.

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Filed under Food, Puddings, Recipes

Pork with Chilli and Basil

This week’s veggie box contained a big bunch of fragrant basil, and the fridge contained some pork escalopes. I’d planned to cook pork with paprika, but kept thinking about the wonderful basil in a jug of water on the kitchen window sill. So this is what I did.

You need:

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 red chillies, deseeded (unless you like a real kick) and chopped finely
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped, or 1 tsp garlic purée
  • 400g pork escalopes, cut into thin strips, then into pieces around 1 to 2 inches long
  • 4 heaped tbsp (or more) chopped fresh basil
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 4 tbsp cream (optional)

In a wok or frying pan, heat the olive oil, and add the chopped chillies and garlic. Fry on a high heat for 2 minutes. Add the pork, and stir fry till no longer pink. Add the chopped basil, and stir well. Add the chopped tomatoes and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the pork is cooked and the sauce has thickened a bit. Add black pepper, and the cream, if using. Eat and enjoy!

I served with jacket potatoes, and steamed vegetables, but this would also go well with pasta and a salad.

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Quick freezer dessert

Last night’s dessert challenge was to make something quick and “healthy” from the contents of the freezer, ideally using up the remains of the jar of chocolate sauce that was sitting in the fridge waiting for just this moment. Fortunately I have a well stocked freezer, which almost always contains ice cream and some sort of frozen fruit (as well as enough food to feed the whole road for a week or so, in case of emergency, my husband says). The ice cream was Carte D’Or Vanilla Light “with 50% less fat and 30% fewer calories than classic Vanilla”, so with the addition of a bit of fruit, that’s dealt adequately with “healthy”. The chocolate sauce was “Heston from Waitrose”, which is probably not terribly healthy but does deal with the chocolate fix.

You need:

    Frozen raspberries
    Chocolate sauce
    Vanilla ice cream

Put the raspberries in a colander, rinse them under cold water to remove any ice crystals, and to start the defrosting process. Drain, then put in a dish to finish thawing. Get on with cooking and eating the main course.

Retrieve half used jar of chocolate sauce from back of fridge. Scoop contents into microwavable bowl and microwave on full power for around 20 to 30 seconds to soften and warm.

Place scoops of healthy ice cream into serving dishes, add the equally healthy raspberries, and any juice. Spoon a generous helping of chocolate sauce over everything.

Eat, and enjoy the flavour of the tart raspberries with the rich chocolate, and the texture of the melting ice cream combining with the raspberry juices and chocolate sauce.

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Filed under Chocolate, Food, Recipes, Uncategorized

Use that orange! Sunday chocolate and orange sponge.

I wanted a quick and easy pudding to follow Sunday lunch. I had a juicy orange to use up, and, as always, a well-stocked store cupboard. At first I was going to do my usual fruit salad, with secret ingredient (Southern Comfort), but I was bored with that. I figured that any combination that involved chocolate and ice cream wouldn’t be too inedible, so thought I’d risk an experiment. Anyway, my family and friends are used to experiments, and still keep coming back.

This is what I did. This serves four quite hungry people (or three quite greedy ones).

  • 4 oz good quality dark chocolate (I used a well-known supermarket’s own brand 70% chocolate)
  • 1 orange
  • 2 1/2 oz sugar
  • 4 oz butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 4 oz self-raising flour (or plain flour with 1 tsp baking powder), sifted

Grate the orange zest, then peel the orange and separate into segments, removing any pith and stringy bits. You can remove the segments from the membranes if you like, for a slightly less chewy end-result, but I didn’t bother. With a sharp knife, chop each segment into four or five chunks.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, and melt over a bowl of hot water.

Cream the butter, sugar and grated zest until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, adding a little sifted flour with each. Fold in the rest of the flour, then the melted chocolate, chopped orange segments, and any juice from the chopped orange.

Turn into a greased dish, and bake for 30 minutes, at 180 degrees (170 for fan ovens). The sponge should be cooked, but the inside will probably still be slightly gooey. That’s just how you want it to be.

Serve warm with ice-cream.

Next time, I’d like to try replacing 2 oz of the flour with the same amount of ground almonds. I would have tried that this time, except that I knew that one of my Sunday lunch guests today didn’t like anything that contained nuts.

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Filed under Chocolate, Food, Recipes

Squash for Supper

What do I do with three red onion squash in this week’s veggie box from our local organic farm? Well, this is what I did.

You need

  • squash
  • an onion
  • olive oil
  • garlic clove or garlic puree
  • 4 oz wholewheat pasta
  • 2 courgettes
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche or thick yoghurt
  • grated cheese and black pepper to serve

Chop the squash into wedges, then remove the seeds and peel it. I find that’s the best order to attack the squash. Peeling a whole squash is almost impossible, and even this way, it will take as long as all the rest of the recipe together. Chop into bite sized chunks.

Peel and chop the onion into wedges.

Place squash and onion in a baking tin with some olive oil, garlic, and a few herbs if you like (I used fresh rosemary). Mix together and bake, turning occasionally (around 30-40 minutes).

Meanwhile, bring some water to the boil and cook the pasta. Slice the courgettes and add them to the pasta water about 5 minutes before the pasta is cooked.

Drain pasta and mix in roasted squash. Add creme fraiche to roasting pan with a few tablespoons of water (or white wine if you prefer), and stir to scrape up roasting juices. Add to pasta mixture, and serve with grated cheese and lots of black pepper. Yum!

Serves 4.

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Filed under Food, Recipes, Veggie


Well, that’s it. I have a blog at last. Although I spend my working day crafting words to make them represent complex ideas in a precise, intelligible  and unambiguous way, for some reason, I have decided that it would be fun to spend some of my leisure time crafting words too.  It isn’t even as if I’m short of things to do outside work.

I guess words, and the ideas they convey, are under my skin and burrowing around in my brain all the time, reorganising themselves into sentences and phrases and participles and tenses and parts of speech and subordinate clauses. So this is their chance to show their shape and become my commentary on stuff. Let’s go!

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