Recipe: Roast Butternut Squash, Mozzarella & Hazelnut Salad

Is there anything better to eat in the summer than a salad made with ripe, sweet tomatoes, handfuls of fragrant, aniseedy basil and good quality creamy mozzarella? It is perfect alongside hunks of rich olive oil focaccia as an al fresco lunch. As the days shorten and autumn rolls into winter it is impossible to get delicious tomatoes. Our homegrown tomatoes are long gone and the supermarkets have reverted to selling the watery ones that are available out of season.

If you get hold of good quality mozzarella it seems a shame to cook it (except perhaps on top of a wood-fired pizza) so I developed this mozzarella salad for the winter months; it is a celebration of the flavours of autumn – the sweet, nuttiness of roasted squash and creamy, crunchy hazelnuts paired with the soft, lactic acidity the mozzarella. Continue reading

Recipe: Mushroom, Rosemary & Pearl Barley Broth

I developed this recipe for a lovely couple who are getting married in Autumn 2018 and wanted a simple seasonal start the meal before a magnificent spread of sharing platters to be served as the main course. It reminds me of the beautiful broths we ate in Ukraine earlier in the year; there they are always finished with a dollop of smetana (a rich sour cream), so I’ve added some as a garnish to finish this dish. Sometimes a simple but delicious starter like this is the perfect complement to a dramatic and colourful main course. Continue reading

Recipe: Pad Thai

It’s a cliche, but I first ate this dish from a street vendor on the Khao San Road (the infamous backpacker district in Bangkok) when I was a student. I was travelling on a shoestring, I’d landed in Asia for the first time having been brought up in the not very adventurous food scene of Northern Ireland in the 1980s & 90s. I was totally blown away! What was this salty, spicy, sour and sweet concoction? Slippery noodles, fiery chilli, soft tofu, chicken or prawns and crunchy peanuts on top and all cooked in less than two minutes and for a cost of about 25p. Continue reading

Recipe: Wilted Greens with Garlic & Soy

This is hardly a recipe at all but is something I cook all the time, perfect when I crave the clean, slightly bitter taste of greens. It is a brilliant way of using up leftover greens that are slightly past their best and that half cabbage that is lurking at the bottom of the fridge, though it is also amazing with fresh greens straight from the garden. It can be made in a matter of minutes and is great for a hit of vegetables alongside a curry or as a main course with some steamed rice and crispy tofu.  Continue reading

Recipe: Mexican Squash & Tortilla Soup

Corn tortillas are a staple food in Mexico – in every neighbourhood in every town or city you will find a tortilleria, a shop or sometimes just a local house where the tortilla makers will be soaking and grinding the corn to make masa and then transforming the masa into fresh corn tortillas. Customers buy dozens fresh every day, as they feature in almost every meal. Masa (the ground corn dough) and tortillas are considered so important to the stability of Mexico that the price of both is controlled by the Government.  Continue reading

Recipe: Warm Roasted Beets & Shallots with Goat’s Cheese & Za’atar

This was our first full year of growing at our smallholding on Middle Road. When we first moved in last October we hired a turf cutter and basically decimated one half of the front garden, cutting out six 9×3 metre vegetable beds. This allows us to have a six year crop rotation – so my life will now be divided up into six year chunks and by the time the alliums are in the bed nearest the house again I’ll be 41! We’ve chosen to grow all our vegetables organically using the no-dig method, which means we don’t dig down into the soil but instead allow the plants roots and the activity of the worms and other creepy crawlies to gently create an aerated soil structure over time.

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