A winner from Allegra McEvedy – this dish is so tasty and could easily be made without the chicken using vegetable stock for those who prefer. If you don’t have time (or the forethought!) to soak the borlotti beans and marinade the chicken overnight, it still works beautifully using a can of beans and cooking the chicken straight away. Serve with rice or couscous to soak up the delicious sauce.

Serves 4


2 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
1½ tbsp clear honey
½ teaspoon dried chilli flakes
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
¾ tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 tsp extra virgin olive oil
500g boneless chicken thighs, cut into large dice
120g dried borlotti beans (or 1 x 400g tin, drained, added at the same point in the recipe)
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 medium leek, thickly sliced and washed well
500ml chicken stock
1 heaped tbsp chopped sage
250g pumpkin, peeled and cut into 4cm dice
salt and pepper

Put the vinegar, mustard, honey, chilli, garlic, fennel seed, oregano, bay leaves and olive oil into a dish and roll the chicken around in it Put into the fridge to marinade overnight.(or prepare ready to cook immediately) At the same time, soak the borlotti beans overnight in plenty of cold water.

Next day, drain the borlotti, cover with fresh water and simmer until cooked – about 1½ hours. (or get your can of beans open and ready!)

When the beans are pretty much cooked, fry the chicken with the marinade in a dry, medium hot, heavy-bottomed saucepan – you don’t need any oil as it’s already in the marinade.

Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally; be careful about it catching on the bottom of the pan – caramelising good, burning bad.

Preheat the oven to 210C.

Add the tomatoes, leek, cooked drained beans, stock and sage to the chicken, stir well and simmer for about half an hour.

Roll the pumpkin cubes in a little olive oil and some seasoning, lay them out on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, shuffling them once – you want them to have a bit of colour.

Once the pumpkin is done turn the chicken off and stir the pumpkin into it. Add a generous splosh of great olive oil to finish – it’s even better the next day.


A delicious Maggie Beer recipe to slow cook on a wet afternoon, enjoying the cooking aromas and heat from the oven before eating  for dinner. I serve this with a green bean, pistachio cous cous, but mashed potatoes would be just as tasty.

Serves 4


17 cloves garlic
8 milk-fed lamb shanks
12 sprigs rosemary
Extra-virgin olive oil
5 quarters preserved lemon
8 bay leaves
500 ml verjuice
1 teaspoon peppercorns
1 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat the oven to 120C.

Finely chop 3 of the garlic cloves and put them into a heavy-based non-reactive pot with the shanks, rosemary and a splash of olive oil.

Brown the meat on the stove over a low heat, turning it regularly.

Remove the pulp from the preserved lemons, then rinse the rind and cut each piece in half.

Put the preserved lemon and remaining ingredients into the pot with the shanks and stir to mix.

Cover the pot with a lid, then bake very slowly or 4 hours.

Sausage rolls

April 25, 2011

Yummy for a cool Autumn lunch or perfect party food, this Masterchef recipe is delicious, even with the ‘hidden’ vegetables!


1 tbs unsalted butter
1 large carrot, peeled, grated
1 tbs olive oil
1 small brown onion, finely chopped
4 thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 garlic cloves, crushed
350g beef mince
350g pork mince
1 tbs wild oregano
2 cups fresh breadcrumbs
2 x 375g packers Careme frozen puff pastry, thawed, halved
3 egg yolks, lightly whisked
Poppy and sesame seeds, to garnish
tomato or BBQ sauce, to serve


Preheat oven to 180°C.

Heat butter in a saucepan over medium heat, add grated carrot and cook for until carrot starts to soften. Cover with a lid and cook for 4-5 minutes until very soft. Puree carrot mixture in a blender until smooth (or mash with a fork for slightly lumpier version). Season to taste. Set aside to cool completely.

Heat oil in frying pan over medium-high heat, then add onion, thyme, bay leaf, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook for 4-6 minutes or until onion has softened. Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaf and set aside to cool completely.

Combine minces, ¼ cup of the carrot puree, oregano, onion mixture and breadcrumbs in a large bowl. Season with salt. Divide the mince mixture into 4 portions and shape into a 25cm log. Place pastry sheet onto a floured work surface and roll to about 4mm thick. Slice each pastry sheet in half lengthways. Place the sausage log across the closest edge of a pastry sheet. Roll to enclose mixture until the two edges of the pastry meet, trim and discard excess pastry. Brush a little egg wash on the join to secure.

Place sausage rolls on a lined baking rack, brush with egg wash and sprinkle evenly with seeds. Repeat with remaining pastry. Cook in the oven for about 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through.

Slice rolls on an angle, about 2cm wide. Serve with either tomato or BBQ sauce.

From one of my favourite books, A Year in My Kitchen,  Petersham Nurseries’ Skye Gyngell’s recipe is the perfect salad for a lazy lunch where you can prepare the elements the day before, or morning of in my case! Don’t be put off by the different components, it’s worth the effort! Everything can be done ready before guests arrive and then assembled at the last minute. Cook the beef 10 minutes longer if you prefer medium rare.

Serves 4


800g piece fillet of beef
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
600g little new potatoes
300g fine green beans, topped but not tailed
grated zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp EV olive oil
handful of mixed salad leaves
1 tbsp freshly grated parmesan

Slow roasted tomatoes
6 roma or plum tomatoes
10g/2 tsp caster sugar
10g/2 tsp sea salt
10g/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Roasted red onions
5 medium red onions, peeled
100g caster sugar
seal salt and freshly ground black pepper
200g balsamic vinegar
50ml extra virgin olive oil

Basil oil
2-3 bunches of basil
1 garlic clove, peeled
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
200ml extra virgin olive oil

Horseradish cream
200ml creme fraiche
3 tbsp freshly grated horseradish
1 tbs Dijon mustard

for the tomatoes –
Turn your oven to the lowest possible setting – probably 100C. Halve the tomatoes lengthways and lay them, cut side up, in a single layer on a large baking tray. In a small bowl, mix together the sugar, salt and pepper, then sprinkle all over the cut surface of the tomatoes. Roast, undisturbed, for 3-4 hours until they shrivel up. Remove and set aside.

for the red onions –
Preheat the oven to 180C. Slice the onions into pinwheels about 3mm thick, and spread out on a baking tray. Sprinkle with the sugar and a generous pinch each of salt and pepper. Pour over the balsamic vinegar and olive oil and mix together lightly with your hands. Roast for 30 minutes or so, turning them and basting halfway through cooking. The onions will be deep purple when ready.

for the basil oil – 
Pull the basil leaves from their stalks and put them into a food processor with the garlic and a good pinch each of salt and pepper. Process until the basil is finely chopped. With the motor running, slowly trickle in the extra virgin olive oil and continue to blend until you have a beautiful moss green puree. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Pour into a jar, cover and refrigerate until ready to use. This basil oil will keep in a fridge for up to a week.

for the horseradish cream – 
Put the creme fraiche in a bowl and add the grated horseradish and  mustard. Stir to combine and season with salt.

for the salad –
Preheat the oven to 200C. Trim the meat of any sinew and fat, then season generously all over with salt and pepper. Heat a heavy-based ovenproof frying pan over a high heat, then add 1 tbsp olive oil. When smoking, add the beef and sear to colour on all sides. Transfer the pan to the oven and roast for 12 minutes. Cover loosely with foil and seat aside to rest for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, cook the potatoes in salted water until tender, about 10-15 minutes. Bring another pan of  salted water to the boil and add the green beans and blanch for 2 minutes. Drain and reresh in cold water, then pat dry with a clean cloth. Drain the potatoes as soon as they are cooked and cut in half lengthways.

Pu the warm potatoes in a bowl, season with a little salt and pepper and dress with the lemon zest, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil. Allow to cool, then add the salad leaves and green beans. Toss lightly and sprinkle with the Parmesan.

Slice the beef into 5mm thick slices. Layer the beef slices and salad on serving plates, piling it high and adding 2 or 3 roasted tomato halves, some roasted red onions and a spoonful of horseradish cream to each plate. Finally, drizzle the basil oil over the top and serve!

Salsa verde

November 2, 2010

I make this (or a variation of depending on herbs I have at home) to serve with eye fillet steak or fish done on the barbeque. You could also stir it through pasta for a quick sauce – add a squeeze of lemon and grate some parmesan on top.

Makes approx 1 cup


2 large handfuls flat leaf parsley,
1 large handful coriander
1 tablespoon capers
1-2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 piece bread (can be stale), torn into small pieces
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Add all ingredients to a small food processor and blitz (or you could use a handheld blender). Start with a good drizzle of olive oil and add more to get the desired consistency: you want the salsa to hold together enough to put into a bowl and serve, and not be too oily. Season to taste.

Duck breasts with Puy lentils

September 15, 2010

This is a Valentine Warner recipe that uses duck breasts. You could use chicken breasts if you prefer, but the duck is delicious! If you are pushed for time you can use a tin of cooked green lentils, omitting the first step below.

Serves 4


175g/6oz Puy lentils
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
10 rashers smoked bacon, rind removed, finely chopped
3 shallots, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 small celery sticks, finely chopped
2 large handfuls fresh mushrooms, wiped clean
sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper
dash red wine vinegar
extra virgin olive oil
small handful fresh parsley, chopped

For the duck

4 duck breasts
knob of butter

Place the lentils and the bay leaves into a pan and cover with cold water. Bring them to the boil, then drain. Refill the pan with cold water to just above the level of the lentils. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes, or until tender. Add more water if the level falls below the lentils.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the bacon and fry until just beginning to colour.

Add the shallots, carrots, garlic and celery and fry until the vegetables are soft and the shallots are golden-brown.

Add the mushrooms and cook for one minute.

Drain the cooked lentils, then return to the pan they were cooked in. Add the bacon and mushroom mixture and stir to combine. Season, to taste, with sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper.

Add a dash of red wine vinegar and cook over a low heat for five minutes.

Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and stir in the chopped parsley.

For the duck, using a sharp knife, finely score the skin of duck breasts in parallel lines, then season well with salt.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add the duck breasts skin-side down and place a small plate on top so the breasts stay flat and cook evenly. Cook for 5-6 minutes, or until golden-brown, then turn the duck breasts over and cook for a further 1-2 minutes, or until cooked to your liking. Remove from the pan and leave to rest for five minutes.

To serve, spoon equal portions of the lentils onto four plates. Slice each duck breast and arrange over each portion of lentils.

This is a variation on a recipe for which I no longer have the original. It varies every time I make it anyway, so don’t be too precious with the measurements! This is great served with couscous,  and salad or roast pumpkin. This works well cooked on the bbq too, when weather is warmer.

Serves 3-4

6 chicken thigh fillets
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tbsp cumin
salt and pepper
handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped roughly

1 cup natural yoghurt
2 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp honey
salt and pepper

Add oil and cumin to the chicken, mix, season and refrigerate for a few hours (if you have time, otherwise don’t worry!).

To make the dressing, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. Leave at room temperature for serving.

Cook chicken thighs over a medium to high heat until golden brown and cooked.

Slice chicken thighs and serve with couscous, salad/roast pumpkin. Drizzle the yoghurt dressing and sprinkle the parsley over the top.