Blog Archive

Sunday, 5 October 2014

New website and blog

We have a new website : 

which includes all recipes from this blog and lots more.  Please check it out

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Sausage stuffed chicken breasts

Sausage-stuffed chicken breasts
For instructions on how to make a, cut and stuff your chicken place look at the short video on our website in the gallery.

Serves 4
 3 good pork sausages, about 200g (7oz)
 1 shallot, finely chopped
 1tbsp finely chopped fresh sage (or 1tsp dried sage)
 ½tsp English mustard
 1 small apple, finely diced
 4 skinless chicken breasts
 75g (3oz) pancetta slices or streaky bacon
25g / 1oz butter,
25g / 1oz plain flour
200ml / 7fl oz dry white wine
600ml / 1pint chicken stock
2-3 tbsp redcurrant jelly
2 tsp mushroom ketchup
1 tsp dijon mustard

Preheat oven to 200°C (180°C fan) mark 6. Peel off and discard sausage skins. Put sausage meat into a bowl; mix through the shallot, sage, mustard, apple and some freshly ground black pepper (there should be enough salt in mixture already).
Slice each chicken breast horizontally in half through one side, keeping opposite side attached (open out the meat like a book), you may need to place some Clingfilm over the breasts and use a rolling pin to flatten them a little more. Press a quarter of the sausage mixture over one side of an opened-out breast, then fold other side back over to cover stuffing. Repeat with remaining breasts and stuffing.

Wrap 2-3 slices of pancetta around each breast, securing the stuffing as much as you can. Put wrapped breasts in a heatproof dish. Cook for 30-35min until piping hot and cooked through and the bacon is crispy.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a small pan then add the flour and cook for 1 minute.  Add white wine and reduce by half, then add stock, redcurrant jelly, mushroom ketchup and mustard.  Simmer for 5 minutes, then season and serve spooned over the stuffed chicken .

To get ahead: The stuffed but uncooked chicken can be prepared ready to cook up to 2 days ahead.

To freeze: The uncooked prepped chicken can be frozen up to 1 month ahead. 

Saturday, 23 August 2014

Apricot Tart Tatin

Apricot Tart Tatin

I love apricots, probably because they are at their best for a short while during the height of the summer.  My classic dessert is to use them in a simple almond flavoured crumble for a lovely summer weekend pudding.  If you want to something a little bit more special the recipe below is perfect.  Just a tip though – I have just made the caramel with my daughter as she is helping me this week and it took about 20 minutes watching the sugar melt then change colour VERY slowly.   However it’s the trickiest bit of the recipe and once that’s done everything else is very straightforward.

Serves 4-6
Pkt of ready rolled puff pastry
100g / 3 ½ oz caster sugar
100g / 3 ½ oz unsalted butter, cubed
2 star anise, broken in half
700g / 1 ½ lb ripe apricots, halved and stoned
Ground star anise to sprinkle for serving

Preheat the oven to 200C / Fan 180C / Gas 6.  Open the pastry out and roll it a bit, then cut it into a 23cm / 9 inch circle and set aside until needed.

Sprinkle the caster sugar in to a 20cm / 8inch tatin tin or frying pan and place over a low heat, swirling the pan once the sugar starts to melt and caramelise.  When a deep golden caramel has formed, add the butter and star anise and whisk well.  I usually take the pan off the heat to do this this and then turn the heat to low if the caramel won’t mix in.  Arrange the apricots standing upright with their cut sides facing the same way in a spiral shape around the tin.

Place the pastry over the fruit, tucking it in over the edges of the outer apricots.  Pierce the pastry several times with a knife to allow steam to escape.  Place the tatin tin on a baking sheet and bake at 210C / Fan 190C / Gas 7 for 10 minutes before reducing the temperature to 190C / Fan 170C ./ gas 5 for a further 20-30 minutes, when the pastry should be a dark golden colour.  Remove from the oven and rest for 10 minutes, then carefully invert onto a serving plate.  Sprinkle over a little ground star anise and serve with thick cream or ice cream.

To get ahead: The tatin can be made up to 12 hours ahead and reheated in the tin for 10 minutes.
To freeze: Not suitable

Monday, 28 July 2014

Classic Lasagne

I think that this is possibly my family’s favourite recipe.  I have lost count how many times I make it, in the summer I just serve it with a Greek salad and in the winter I tend to use greens or cabbage.  Although it is a little time consuming to make, it can be done in stages and once completed can be chilled for a few days or frozen until needed.

Classic Lasagne

Serves 4-6
Olive oil for frying
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
100g / 3 ½ oz unsmoked streaky bacon, chopped or pancetta lardons
500g / 1lb 2oz minced beef
400g can chopped tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dried oregano
Salt & pepper
Fresh lasagne sheets
Parmesan cheese to grate

For the sauce
25g / 1oz butter
50g / 2oz flour
600ml / 1 pint milk
Pinch nutmeg
225g carton of cottage cheese

Heat a spoonful of oil in a large pan.  Add the onions, garlic and celery and fry until golden.  Add the chopped bacon and continue to fry until crisp.  Add the minced beef to the pan and fry until browned, stirring from time to time.  Stir in the tomatoes and ½ a can of water, tomato puree, sugar, oregano, salt and pepper.  Bring to a simmer, half cover and continue to cook gently for 30 minutes.

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan, stir in the flour and cook for 1-2 minutes.  Gradually add the milk, each time you add bring the sauce to the boil and then add some more until all the milk has been used and the sauce is thickened.  Remove from the heat and add nutmeg, seasoning and the cottage cheese. Use a stick blender to blend the cottage cheese into the sauce.

To make up the dish arrange the meat, pasta and sauce in 3 layers in a shallow ovenproof dish.  Finish with sauce then sprinkle the top with grated Parmesan.  Bake at 190C / Fan 170C / Gas 5 for 30 minutes or until browned and bubbling.

To get ahead: The dish can be made several days ahead and stored in the fridge.

To freeze: The dish can be frozen up to 1 month ahead.  Defrost before cooking as above. 

Monday, 30 June 2014

Smoked Haddock and Spinach fishcakes

Smoked Haddock, Spinach and Potato Cakes

Serves 4

350g / 12oz smoked haddock fillet
450g / 1lb floury potatoes
150ml / ¼ pint milk
25g / 1oz butter
1 onion, finely chopped
140g / 5oz baby spinach
Seasoned flour
1 egg, beaten
Bread crumbs for coating
Vegetable oil for frying
For the mustard mayonnaise
175g / 6oz mayonnaise (see below)
2-3tsp grainy mustard
2 tbsp double cream

For the mayonnaise
300ml / ½ pint sunflower oil
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg
Salt and white pepper

Peel and cut the potatoes into chunks then place in boiling salted water and cook until tender.  Meanwhile put the haddock in a pan with the milk, bring to the boil then turn the heat down.  Cover with a lid and poach for 3 minutes or until just cooked.  Set the haddock aside (reserving 2 tbsp of the milk), then remove the skin form the fish and fork the flesh into large flakes.


Fry the onion in the butter over a low heat until soft. Once the potatoes are tender drain well and put through a ricer into the buttery onion mixture.  Cook the spinach by placing in a colander and pouring over boiling water.  Cool with cold water then squeeze out excess fluid and chop.

Mix the spinach with the onion mash, then carefully fold in the fish – try to keep the flakes large.  Wet your hands and shape the mixture into 8 cakes, dust with seasoned flour.  Chill the cakes for 30 minutes.  Dip each cake in beaten egg, then breadcrumbs and fry in hot oil for 3-4 minutes on each side.  Serve with mustard mayonnaise and a green vegetable.

To make the mayonnaise place the egg, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper into a food processor.  Process until well combined, then slowly add the oil through the feeder tube in a drizzle.  The mayonnaise will get thicker with the more oil that’s added.  Adjust seasoning if needed then store in the fridge for up to 5 days.  To make mustard mayonnaise simply mix all the ingredients together.

To get ahead: The cakes can be assembled ready to cook and kept in the fridge for 2 days ahead.  The mayonnaise can be kept for 2 days in the fridge.

To freeze: The cakes can be assembled ready to cook, then frozen for up to 1 month ahead.  The cakes can be cooked from frozen by cooking for 5 minutes on each side.  The mayonnaise cannot be frozen. 

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Rhubarb, Strawberry & Vanilla Jam

This has been one of our most successful recipes from out Spring/summer cookery demonstrations.  The great news about this recipe is that you don’t need any specialist equipment - just a pan and wooden spoon.  You will make 2 large jars of delicious homemade jam, just enough for using with our homemade scones and another spare for use over the summer months.

Homemade Jam is always best

Strawberry, Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam

250g / 9oz rhubarb, washed and trimmed weight
250g / 9oz strawberries, hulled weight
450g (1lb) jam sugar or preserving sugar
1 ½ tbsp. lemon juice
1 vanilla pod
2 medium-sized jam jars, sterilised and warmed

Cut the rhubarb into short lengths and put in a large pan with the strawberries, sugar and lemon juice. Cook slowly over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add the seeds and pod of the vanilla, turn the heat up and bring to the boil, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t stick. Boil until setting point is reached, about 5-15 minutes.  Test the setting point by way of any of the following methods;

Temperature test:
Stir the jam and immerse a sugar thermometer in the jam up to the stem.  When the temperature reaches 104 C, setting point has been reached.
The wrinkle test
Plate test:
Place a saucer in the fridge to chill.  Pour a tsp of jam on to the cold saucer and allow the jam to cool.  When cool push the edge of the jam with your finger.  If the skin wrinkles, setting point has been reached.  If the jam has not set return to the heat and re-test.

Leave the jam for 10 mins, scoop off any scum and pour in the jars while it is still warm. Put a waxed disc on top, then cover and label. Store in a cool, dry place.   Serve with scones and lashings of clotted cream.

To get ahead: The jam will keep for 6 months

Note: Strawberries and rhubarb are low pectin fruits which give a poor set.  Using lemon juice or commercially prepared pectin will give a good set.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

Pitta Bread

Pitta bread

Freshly baked pittas are far superior to shop-bought and are amazingly simple to make. Try them stuffed with souvlaki or dipped into hummus or with my griddled halloumi and watermelon salsa.
Baked pitta
250g/9oz strong white flour, plus extra for dusting
1 x 7g sachet instant yeast
20g/oz nigella seeds or black onion seeds (optional)
1 tsp salt
160ml/5½fl oz tepid water
2 tsp olive oil, plus extra for kneading

In a bowl, mix together the flour, yeast, nigella seeds and salt. Add 120ml/4fl oz of the water and 1½ teaspoons of oil. Using your fingers mix the ingredients together. Gradually add the remaining water and oil until all the flour has come away from the sides and you have a soft dough. (You may not need all the water; the dough should be soft and not sticky.)
Pour a little oil onto your work top. Place the dough on top and knead for 5-10 minutes. The dough will be wet in the beginning but will form a smooth dough once kneaded. Once a smooth dough is achieved, place it into a clean, oiled bowl. Cover and leave to prove until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 250C/475F/Gas 9 and place a clean baking tray or baking stone on the middle shelf.
When the dough has doubled in size, tip it out onto a work surface dusted with flour. Knock the dough back by folding it inwards over and over again until all the air is knocked out. Split the dough into 4-6 equally sized balls. Roll each ball into an oval shape 3-5mm thick.

Remove the hot tray from the oven, dust with flour and place the pitta breads on it. You may have to cook them in batches.
Bake for 5-10 minutes, or until they just start to colour. Remove them from the oven and cover with a clean cloth until they are cool.

Spiced Halloumi with Watermelon Salsa

Serves 4 as a starter
½ tsp cumin seed
½ tsp coriander seed
200g /7oz block halloumi cheese
a little olive oil
2 handfuls mixed salad leaves
small handful flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
2 mint sprigs, leaves picked
2 large pitta breads, quartered
For the salsa
175g / 6oz pack watermelon chunks, or equivalent whole chunk), chopped into small pieces
1-2 tbsp lime juice
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped

Using a pestle and mortar, crush the cumin and coriander seeds with a coarse grinding of pepper. Slice the halloumi and place on a chopping board, Brush with olive oil and sprinkle over the spice mix, turn over and repeat – Set aside.

Mix the salsa ingredients together and season with salt, pepper and sugar. Mix together the salad leaves, parsley and mint with a little olive oil. Heat a frying pan, and when hot fry the halloumi for 1-2 minutes on each side.  At the same time warm the pitta in the oven.

To serve cut the pitta bread in half and divide them and the cheese between 4 plates plates, and serve with a spoonful of salsa and salad.

To get ahead: The salsa can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Christmas Demonstrations Book Now

Jane and Judy are taking bookings for our Christmas demonstration mornings.

We have two centres one in Bromley in Kent and one in Southend in Essex.

There are a variety of dishes for you to try accompanied by the recipes and photographs. 
Tasters of all 5 courses as well as tea and coffee will be provided along with invaluable tips and practical advice.

Dates available
For Bromley
November 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8th then 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25 and 26th
Call Jane on 020 8467 7917 mob 07850257456
Or email or via our blog

For Southend
November 11, 12, 13, 14 and 15th then 27,28 and 29th
Call Judy on 01702-467502 mob 07796691183
Or email or via our blog

Cost £35.00 per head
Time 10am-1pm

Places are limited so to avoid disappointment please secure your place by contacting us and we can then give you our addresses and answer any questions about the morning.

These classes are great fun and we look forward to cooking for you

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Lemon Sole with Pancetta Pockets

I'm always looking for fish recipes that can be prepared in advance, are easy to prepare and yet look and taste great.  This recipe does all the above - I have served it during the week and at smart dinner parties.  You can replace the lemon sole in the recipe with plaice or even Dover sole if you want to.

Lemon Sole with Pancetta pockets

Serves 4

Butter for the dish
1 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion,  finely chopped
4 rashers of pancetta or streaky bacon
2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
1 tsp anchovy sauce
4 large lemon sole fillets, skinned
A little melted butter
Pinch of paprika
Lemon wedges to serve
To Finish
50g/ 2oz unsalted butter
Juice ½ lemon
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley 

Butter and season the base of an ovenproof dish large enough to take the sole in a single layer
Heat the oil in a frying pan, add the onion and cook gently over a low heat for about 15 mins until tender.

Snip the pancetta  into small pieces, add to the onion, increase the heat and fry until crisp.  Transfer to a plate and leave to cool, then stir in the parsley, anchovy sauce and black pepper.
Arrange the fillets in the buttered dish, skinned side up.  Season and then divide the stuffing into four, then spoon in the centre of the fillets.  Hold each end of the fillets and twist them in opposite directions to form a pocket showing the stuffing, like a straight croissant.  Brush the fillets with melted butter and sprinkle with paprika. ###

Bake in a preheated oven 180c/fan 160c/gas 4 for 12-15 mins until the fish is just cooked through.

To finish; melt the butter in a saucepan, then add the lemon juice and parsley.  To serve place the fish in the centre of a warm plate, drizzle over the lemon butter sauce and serve with the lemon wedges 

To get ahead; get to ### then cover the fish with cling film and keep in the fridge for up to 12 hours.       

To freeze; not suitable

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Key Lime Pie

Key Lime Pie

I spent most of July in Florida with my cookery books and ipad on our family holiday.  I soon found myself caught up with American cuisine, Caroline had made this recipe last year when we were there - so this year we tried to perfect the recipe. I then had the problem coming home of translating it into metric and imperial measures for everyone to enjoy.  This is the result - an authentic Key Lime Pie which we all loved with fresh raspberries on the side.  The photography was all done in Florida, so I had to end the recipe with my favourite photo of the holiday.

I used real key limes (they are tiny), but you can use ordinary ones and get the same result

Serves 8


For the crust
150g /5 1/2 oz graham cracker crumbs or rich tea biscuits, crushed
60g / 2oz golden caster sugar
3-g / 1oz finely chopped almonds
60g / 2oz melted butter

For the filling
6 large egg yolks
2 large egg whites
200ml / 7fl oz lime juice plus 2 tsp of zest
400g / 14oz tin of sweetened condensed milk

We had to use a disposable foil tart case, but it still tasted delicious

Preheat the oven to 190C / fan 170C / Gas 5.  To make the crust combine the crumbs, sugar, almonds and butter in a bowl and mix well.  Use the mixture to line the bottom and side of a 23cm / 9inch loose bottomed tart tin.  Press firmly for the crumbs to stick and bake for 8-10 minutes.  remove the crust to a rack and leave to cool.

Reduce the oven to 180C / Fan 160C / Gas 4.  Beat the yolks with the condensed milk in a mixing bowl, then add the lime juice and rind.  Whisk the egg whites to soft [peaks the fold through the mixture.  Pour the filling into the crumb crust and bake in the oven for 15 minutes, transfer to a rack and cool, then chill.

Once chilled, served with whipped cream and fresh fruit.

To get ahead: The pie can be made up to a day ahead and stored in the fridge.  It will keep for 2-3 days, but on holiday it never lasted that long!!