Tag Archives: vegetarian

Peyton & Byrne “British Brownies”

From Peyton & Byrne: British Baking by Oliver Peyton (Square Peg, 2011)

Although most of my jubilee weekend was given over to the Stoke Newington Literary Festival (as mentioned in my previous post), I couldn’t resist fitting in a bit of bank holiday baking. I took the easy/occasion appropriate route and opted for some British Brownies. The rationale for including these in the British Baking book is laughably weak – “brownies have long been a favourite in Britain” – but they hit the spot on a grey day off. How could they not – they contain three, yes three, bars of dark chocolate…


300g dark chocolate, chopped

100g unsalted butter

1/2 tsp sea salt

3 eggs

50g light brown sugar

150g caster sugar

1tsp vanilla extract

100g plain flour

100g chopped walnuts (I didn’t have any so substituted with macadamias, but they were somewhat overpowered by the chocolate)








Preheat oven to 180 oC. Butter 20cm square baking tin, line with baking paper.

Place chocolate and butter in heatproof bowl, add salt and melt over pan of barely simmering water.

In another bowl, break up eggs, add sugars and vanilla until incorporated.

Whisk egg mixture into melted chocolate, then gently fold in flour and walnuts until just mixed.

Pour into baking tin.

Bake for 25 mins or until set. Leave to cool completely in tin before cutting into squares (I totally ate one before it had completely cooled).








Verdict: Quick, easy, delicious and kept well. Will bake again.

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River Cottage “Magic Bread Dough”

From River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, 2011)

Same basic recipe and method as this








There’s no way around it – homemaking bread takes effort. But some recipes take far more effort than others and this one is a winner, balancing energy expenditure, time and results.

The above link to Hugh’s pizza dough recipe uses the same method and ingredients, in the same quantities as the flatbreads from the book. This basic dough can be adapted to pizza bases, pitta breads, breadsticks and rolls as well. It can also be scaled up and frozen for future use, which I’ve tried and tested and it’s just as good as freshly made. Magical.

To turn the dough into flatbreads, after knocking back, divide the basic quantity of dough into 8, roll into circles a few mm thick, rest for a few minutes and then cook in a very hot pan for a few minutes on each side.

I’ve been using these for mexican inspired burrito-type meals. Below with River Cottage Veg Every Day! Refried Beans recipe, which has been one of the least successful things I’ve tried from the book.


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River Cottage “Leek and Cheese Toastie”

From River Cottage Veg Every Day! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Bloomsbury, 2011)

Of all the cookbooks I have ever bought, which isn’t an astounding number but is steadily growing, none has found the instant acclaim in my kitchen of the latest Hugh F-W volume.

Full of simple, tasty and more often than not quick recipes that sate even the carnivore in my household.

Having made this cheese and leek number one Saturday, it is now a weekend regular and I can never go back to plain old cheese on toast ever again. Yes, it takes a bit longer and marginally more effort than directly grating some cheddar onto a bit of bread, but the result is well worth it. In fact, it’s quite astounding what a difference the addition of a bit of cream and some sweaty leeks can make to this humble dish.

See here for an almost identical version of this recipe. In this case, cheddar was used instead of blue and marginally smaller quantities of butter and cream. 

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The River Cafe’s “Conchiglie al Pomodoro e Porcini Secchi”

From The River Cafe Cook Book by Rose Gray & Ruth Rogers (Ebury Press, 1995)









Serves 6

75g dried porcini mushrooms, reconstituted

4 tbsp olive oil

3 garlic cloves, peeled & sliced

1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 dried chilli, crumbled

juice of 1 lemon

800g tinned plum tomatoes, drained of juices

120ml double cream

120g Parmesan, freshly grated

250g conchiglie

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

extra virgin olive oil

Heat the olive oil in a pan and fry the garlic gently for a few minutes with the thyme leaves, most of the parsley and the chilli. Add the porcini and cook for a few more minutes to combine the flavours. Add the porcini liquid a little at a time – it will be absorbed very quickly – and continue simmering until the porcini are tender, approximately 20 minutes.

Add the lemon juice, then the tomatoes. Cook together gently until the tomatoes have thickened and become a sauce, about 30 minutes. Add the cream and reduce very briefly by boiling. Season, then remove from the heat and stir in half the Parmesan.

Cook the conchiglie in a generous amount of boiling salted water, then drain thoroughly. Add to the sauce with most of the remaining Parmesan and stir well. Serve sprinkled with the remaining parsley and Parmesan and a dribble of extra virgin olive oil.

Before rushing out of the door for work this morning, I had a quick browse of The River Cafe Cook Book to find a quickish pasta dish for dinner, jotted down the shopping list and was on my way. What I had failed to clock was a) the volumes of oil, cream and Parmesan involved for a Wednesday night supper and b) the cooking time.

Whilst certainly indulgent, it filled the hole created by a day out and about in London. The cooking time wasn’t unbearable, especially when accompanied by a cold glass of white, but wasn’t the speedy dish I had hoped for. Well worth it though – the dried porcini mushrooms were extremely tender, where with minimal cooking time I often find them chewy.

Not being able to lay my hands on any whole chilli, I substitued with a little too much dried crushed chilli (1 tsp when probably 1/2 tsp would have sufficed) and felt that perhaps the juice of half a lemon would have done the job. Being in a bit of a rush I poured the whole lot in, where a more patient cook may have added a little at a time, tasting along the way. The acidic lemon and pungent chilli ended up masking the earthy mushroom flavour somewhat, and were certainly the first hit of flavour with each fork, which was a bit of a shame.

I had my doubts about this stretching to 6 servings, with only 250g of pasta in the ingredients list. I upped this to 300g and there was a generous amount of sauce to go around still. As a main dish, rather than as a pasta course in an Italian meal, I would say this serves 4-5, with the amended amount of pasta. Feeling slightly ashamed at the amount of grated Parmesan that went in, I also omitted the final sprinkling of extra virgin olive oil.

Verdict: a hearty and tasty pasta dish – when cooked exactly by the book I’m sure it would be an excellent addition to anyone’s pasta repertoire.

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Yotam Ottolenghi’s “Mixed Bean Salad”

From The Guardian Weekend Magazine (30.07.11)

Click here for recipe

This colourful summer salad caught my eye and wanting to expand my salad repetoire away from the failsafe leaves/tomato/cucumber combination I was keen to try. With doubts about being able to source the yellow beans required a) easily and b) at a reasonable price, I had sort of forgotten about the recipe.

Fate jogged my memory when perusing the Farm Direct website and low and behold I had ordered the beans. Chervil is another ingredient that doesn’t usually come to hand easily, but having a boyfriend who works across the road from Borough Market has its advantages and he dutifully returned home with said chervil and an unwaxed lemon.

Sadly, this coming together of the ingredients wasn’t replicated in the finished dish. Perhaps my palate isn’t sophisticated enough, but the combination of cumin seeds, coriander seeds, tarragon, chervil and lemon zest was heady to say the least and became quite hard going.

Verdict: easy on the eye, not so much on the tastebuds. Probably a once off, but herbs/spices could be adjusted to taste.

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