This is yum! Allegra Mcevedy’s Economy Gastronomy has some great recipes and this is such a healthy delcious soup/stew, perfect for warming up on these chilly days. You can vary the vegetables depending on what’s in the fridge, and could add some pancetta or streaky bacon if you need more protein. I used fennel, carrot, leek and celery and borlotti beans which was delicious.

Serves 4


90ml extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to serve
1 onion, peeled, chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
½ tsp dried chilli flakes
600g mixed vegetables (such as courgette, fennel, swede, potato, sweet potato, leek, celery, carrot or peas), chopped into 1cm cubes
3-4 pinches dried mixed herbs (such as rosemary, oregano and thyme)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 litre chicken or vegetable stock, preferably home-made
80g dried pasta, such as penne
1 x 400g can beans (such as cannellini, borlotti, haricot or chickpeas), drained and rinsed
2 fresh bay leaves
50g freshly grated parmesan
1 large or 2 small very ripe tomatoes, finely chopped


Heat 60ml of the oil in a heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, garlic and chilli flakes and fry for 2-3 minutes, or until softened.

Add all of the mixed vegetables (except the peas, if using) and the dried mixed herbs to the pan. Season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fry for 2-3 minutes, or until the vegetables have softened.

Reduce the heat to medium, cover the pan with a lid and continue to fry for 10-15 minutes, stirring regularly, or until the vegetables have softened and are pale golden-brown.

Add the stock, pasta, beans, bay leaves and peas (if using), then bring the mixture to the boil. Return the mixture to a simmer and continue to simmer, covered, for 20-25 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender and the pasta has absorbed some of the liquid and is tender. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly before serving.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix together the parmesan, chopped tomatoes and the remaining 30ml of olive oil until well combined.

To serve, spoon the pasta e fagioli into four serving bowls. Spoon over the parmesan and tomato mixture. Season, to taste, with freshly ground black pepper. Drizzle a splash of olive oil over each serving.


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.

French onion soup

May 8, 2011

An adaptation of Skye Gyngell’s ‘Panade of slow-cooked onions with Gruyere’, this is a simple, tasty soup. I replace apple brandy with brandy or you could use white wine.  A good quality (or homemade) vegetable stock works just as well as chicken stock.

Serves 4

50g unsalted butter
4 brown onions, peeled and very finely sliced
1 1/2 tsp caster sugar
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
50ml apple brandy
1 bay leaf
4 thyme sprigs
750ml chicken or vegetable stock

to serve –

4 slices of good quality white bread
1 garlic clove, halved
120g Gruyere, grated
handful of curly parsley very finely chopped

Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat. Add the onions, sprinkle with the sugar and add a pinch of salt. Sweat gently for 20 minutes until very soft. The onions will deepen in colour as the sugar and butter begin to caramelise.

When the onions are really soft, add the brandy and increase the heat to reduce the liquor, cooking off the alcohol. Add the herbs and pour in the stock.

Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 10 minutes or so, or until the stock has reduced slightly and the flavour is deep and intense. Discard the herbs.

Toast the slices of bread until golden brown on both sides. Rub with the cut garlic clove while still hot and place one slice in each warm soup plate. Ladle over the onion broth and sprinkle with the Gruyere. Finish with a grinding of pepper and a sprinkling of parsley if you like.

As I chopped these ingredients to make a soup I decided they would make a delicious pastie instead! Serve with some Persian feta and leafy green salad.

Makes 4-6 pasties


for the pastry –

250g plain flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
125g cold butter, cubed
iced water

for the filling –

1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
extra virgin olive oil
1 brown onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 carrot, finely chopped
500g butternut pumpkin, peeled, seeded and cut into 1.5cm cubes
250g dried small green lentils
1 sprig thyme
1 bay leaf


To make the pastry, Place the cumin and fennel seeds in a small frying pan and stir over a low heat until fragrant. Cool and finely chop with a knife.

To make the filling, rinse the lentils and put in a saucepan covered with water. Simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils are cooked (make sure they aren’t too soft). Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large sauce pan over a medium heat. Add onion, carrot, garlic, bay leaf, thyme and pumpkin and the spice mixture and cook, stirring frequently, until the vegetables soften slightly.

Remove the thyme stalks and bay leaf. Add the lentils to the vegetables and mix gently to combine. Season to taste.

Divide the pastry into 4-6 round discs and roll our roughly. Put a good few spoonfuls of the vegetable and lentil mixture into one half of the pastry. Brush the edge with a little beaten egg and fold the pastry over so you encase the filling. Crimp the rimmed edge by pinching it together. Repeat the process with the remaining pastry discs and filling.

Put the pasties on a tray lined with baking paper. Brush with beaten egg and cook in the oven for 20 minutes.

Drizzle with Persian feta or home made chutney and serve with a green salad.

Incredibly easy these Masterchef cupcakes are light and fluffy. The orange flavour is subtle and delicate so even the children will like them!

Makes 12 cupcakes


1 1/2 cups self-raising flour, sifted
1 cup caster sugar
125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 orange, zested
2 eggs
2 tbsp milk
Silver balls and Smarties (optional), to decorate

for the cream cheese icing –

125g unsalted butter, softened and chopped
250g cream cheese, softened and chopped
1 orange, zested
2 cups icing sugar, sifted


Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 12-hole muffin pan with 12 paper cases.

Using an electric mixer, beat flour, sugar, butter, vanilla, orange zest, eggs and milk on low speed until combined.

Increase speed to medium-high and beat for a further 5 minutes or until light and fluffy.

Divide batter among paper cases and bake for 20 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Stand for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make cream cheese icing –

Using an electric mixer, beat butter, cheese and orange zest until pale and doubled in volume, then, while beating, gradually add sugar.

If icing is a little soft, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm. Spread on icing; decorate with balls and Smarties.

A cross between a tart and a pie, another Susie Theodorou recipe. The lemon curd filling can be made the 2-3 days before and stored in the fridge until ready to use.

Serves 8


for the filling –

finely grated rind and juice of 4 lemons
9 medium eggs
350g (1 1/2 cups) caster sugar
250ml (1 cup) double (thick) cream

for the pastry –

300g (2 3/4 cups) plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
100g (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
115g (1/2 cup) caster sugar
25g (2 tablspoons) vanilla sugar
2 small eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons water

to finish –

1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
3 tablespoons pine nuts
icing sugar to dust


Preheat the oven to 180C.

Start by making the filling. Put all the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Cook for 1 hour, stirring frequently until thick. Remove the bowl from the pan and allow to cool. (Nb. you can strain the curd if a little lumpy or stringy)

For the pastry, sift the flour, and baking powder into a bowl. Rub in the butter (or use a food processor) until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the caster sugar and vanilla sugar.  Mix the eggs with the water, then combine them with the dry ingredients until large clumps form. Bring the mixture together with your hand, to form a dough. Knead gently for 1-2 minutes on a lightly floured surface until smooth. Press to a thick disc, cover with cling film, and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll out two-thirds of the pastry and use to line a lightly greased 23cm fluted, loose-based tart tin 3.5cm deep. Spoon in and spread the filling. Roll out the remaining pastry and use to cover the filling, pressing the edges to seal.

Beat the egg yolk with the milk and brush over the pastry top. Sprinkle over the pine nuts. Bake for 40 minutes until well risen and golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and leave to cool completely for the filling to set.

Spaghetti puttanesca

April 25, 2011

Another ’30 Minute Meal’ from Jamie Oliver, this puttanesca sauce is great because you can vary it to your liking or if you haven’t certain ingredients in your store cupboard.

Serves 4


500g dried spaghetti
1 x 225g tin of tuna in olive oil
1 x 30g tin of anchovies in olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs capers, drained
1-2 fresh red chillies
1 700g jar of passata or 2 400g tins of tomatoes
a small bunch of fresh flat leaf parsley
handful of pitted black olives
ground cinnamon
1 lemon


Place a large frying pan on a low heat and fill a saucepan with the boiled water and a pinch of salt.

Put the spaghetti into the saucepan and cook it according to the instructions on the packet. Pour the oil from the tuna into the frying pan, keeping the tuna in the tin. Crush in 2 unpeeled cloves of garlic and add the capers, anchovies and their oil.

Finely chop the chillies and parsley stalks and add them to the pan.

Roughly chop the parsley leaves and put them to one side. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring well, then add the tuna, breaking it up as you go and the black olives. Stir in a large pinch of ground cinnamon and the passata or tinned tomatoes.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it and reserve some of the water. Add the pasta to the frying pan, then squeeze over the juice of a lemon, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and add most of the parsley, mixing well. If the sauce feels very thick add some of the reserved spaghetti water to loosen it up. Pour the spaghetti into a large bowl and finish with the remaining parsley.