A dirty kebab


I managed to write two blog posts last year. Truly pathetic and when I look at what other people have accomplished pretty shaming.

But work has been busy, so busy I have failed to take even half my annual leave allowance. So I am going to manage some days off in the Spring, spend some time with Em and cook a new dish every week.

I started on New Years’ Eve, Nick was keen to have kebabs and I happily obliged , this was my version though a very long and slow cooked spiced lamb shoulder, crunchy kebab salad you can’t really mess with a classic and creamy crunchy mint yogurt.

Spice Mix

1 tbsp of whole coriander seeds
1 tbsp of garlic powder
1 tbsp of chilli flakes
1 tbsp of paprika
1 tbsp of sumac
1/2 preserved lemon finely chopped
2 tbsp of pomegranate molasses


1 large lamb shoulder
2 large onions roughly chopped


1. Toast all the dry spices
2. Mix with the preserved lemon and pomegranate molasses
3. Rub all over the lamb shoulder
4. Leave in the fridge overnight

Place in slow cooker on low for 8 hours you can leave it as long as 12 hours
Turn the lamb over halfway through.


You can pull the lamb apart with a fork, the onions will have practically dissolved into the juices.

Perfect for filling a warmed pitta bread, stuffed with kebab salad ( Shredded white cabbage mixed with shredded white onion, chopped tomato and dressed with lemon juice.) , topped with yogurt mixed with mint sauce and finely chopped cucumber.

Slow Cooked Spiced Lamb Shoulder

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Slow cooker Fennel Roasted Pork Ribs & a vote for Green Spaces.


Poor neglected blog. The truth is working full time and trying to cram in time with Toddler Em, cook food to eat and try to say more than 3 words a day to Nick, something had to give.

But I really do miss having a blog and a couple of things have conspired this week to make me want to blog again.

Firstly I work at Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, and this week Michelin starred chef Sat Bains observed a surgical op at the invitation of the surgeon who had previously visited his kitchen to . Both aimed to learn lessons about team working Obviously I was nowhere near the theatre at the time – operating theatres being even harder to get close to than Michelin starred restaurants.

Reading about the visit reminded me how writing the blog so different from my work I had always found writing the blog somehow helped to round me out.

In the Community Gardens

Then desperate to escape the heat this weekend. Toddler Em and I hit our local community gardens, just a few minutes walk from the house. Arkwright Community Gardens is a gorgeous space perfect for the urban toddler to get in touch with a greener world. Chickens, a greenhouse with peaches and bananas, the tandoor oven is lit once a week with cookery and gardening clubs in an area. The volunteers there are always helpful and smiling. It was heaven when Em was really tiny letting her crawl in the mud.

The Meadows is Nottingham that does not enjoy the best reputation plagued by dodgy 70s planning decisions .The gardens are just over a decade old , they sell affordable organic produce in season and a steady stream of locals drop by for bags of salad and veg. No soft fruit this week as someone had jumped the fence and helped themselves – probably just as well as Em can make short work of a patch of strawberries.


Last weekend during our visit we bought some massive bulbs of fennel,bulbs were larger than Em’s head and the fronds towered over her. It got me enthusiastic about cooking as only fresh food can do.

I cooked the fennel bulbs in the slow cooker along with with a rack of pork ribs, they meant for the BBQ but your just cannot get the weather , just lightly seasoned with salt and pepper cooked as a rack in the slow-cooker on low for 4 hours til the bones lift out of the meat. Served with a fresh fennel and carrot salad , fennel finely sliced and carrot grated with just a dash of white wine vinegar.

I am still working through the fennel leaves so far in a fish stew and bean salads.


If you could spare a vote for the Community Gardens they have put themselves for a Lottery Good Causes Award. It will only take a quick click here

Em in the Community Gardens

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Beef and Beetroot Curry


We are back to using a vegebox,this time from local Eden Farms, now a vegebox this time of year is pretty root-based the odd leafy cabbage. Beetroot feature heavily but once you have shredded them for salad , made some borscht even stuck them in the brownies you start to wonder, what else can I do with these things.

I was searching around and found a recipe for a beef and beetroot curry sounded a bit odd but we need to do something with them. I could’t find the recipe again but it had stuck in my head so this is a bit of a throw together

I used beef ribs but any slow cook stewing joint cut into cubes would work well , the cooked beetroot is nice and earthy and goes particularly with with a ind of mint-yogurt which I totally cheat when making and mix mint sauce with yogurt.

You could up the chilli contents but for me this was perfect meaning I could taste the beef and the beetroot , it didn’t not go any kind of scary luminous purple either

Beef and Beetroot Curry

Serves 2

200g of stewing beef 2cm cubes
100g of beetroot, scrubbed I dind’t bother peeking it cos the slow
cook should take care of any tough skin , these we quite small cut
into quarters but should be about the same size as the beef.
1 large onion peeled and cut quarters
2 garlic cloves peeled and roughly chopped
1 tbsp of garam masala
1 tsp of turmeric
1 green chilli roughly chopped
1 tsp of mustard seeds.

Mix all the ingredients and place in the slow cooker on LOW for six hours

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Spiced Beef Brisket – Slow Cooker


Madhur Jaffrey’s Curry Made easy contains a recipe for a Sri Lankan Beef Smore , a spiced brasied beef dish,  she suggests using a beef shoulder meat tied, chuck or brisket.

I am always looking for new recipes for brisket definitely one of my favourite cuts of beef.  Curried brisket sounded to great to pass up, as usual I messed with the recipe, the original spices were coriander cumin, fennel , fenugreek and cinamon)

This is not a hot curry , mildly spiced tender meat, with just enough slightly chewy crusty bits.  Since I first made it , I have probably cooked it three or four times.

Spiced Braised Beef Brisket

1kg of rolled beef brisket
2 tbsp of garam masala (mine is a mixture of black peppercorns, fennel seeds, cinamon, cloves green cardamon )
2 tbsp of coconut milk powder if using slow cooker, if not 250ml of coconut milk + 200ml of chicken stock)
1 tsp of freshly ground black pepper
1 thumb of ginger finely grated
1 stick of cinammon
1 tsp of tumeric
1 tsp of black mustard seeds
2 cloves of garlic
2 medium onions rouhgly chopped
1 tsp of sunflower oil

In a frying pan, toast the spices in the sunflower oil
Roll the brisket in the hot pan with the spices to sear. Do not worry about browning too much
Place everything except the coconut powder into the slow cooker
Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 1 hour then low for 3 hours.
Add the coconut powder at the end .

Without a slow cooker , after searing the meat put everything in a lidded cassrole dish and place in a medium over 160deg for 2hrs, basting turning halfway through.

To serve slice the brisket and serve on top of steamed white rice, with a little of the sauce poured over.

Beef Brisket with vegetables


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Sustainable Sushi – Mackerel Sashimi and Smoked Mackerel Sushi Rolls


This week Nick was sitting his first exam in more than 20 years. When I asked what he wanted to eat to celebrate the end he said sushi. Visits to conveyor belt restaurants are definitely out with Em – pretty certain moving food would be way too exciting a challenge. But we have often made sushi at home.

Fresh fish sushi and sashimi tend towards the un-sustainable end of the fishmarket and I wanted to try to find something a bit more sustainable without missing the protein hit. The fishmongers had some spankingly fresh mackerel and some quick research showed Mackerel sashimi to be favourite dish.  Rather than simply cutting the fresh mackerel recipes ( as Hugh F-W suggests) most included a cure

Methods varied in the amount of cure , and wether it was salt sugar or vinegar but this method worked well to produce something where there was still a good taste of fresh mackerel.

We also made a few rolls with smoked mackerel, cucumber and spring onion, which Em happily tucked into the next day fun to see a toddler decimate a sushi roll.



Mackerel Sashimi

200g of salt
200g of caster sugar
100ml of rice wine vinegar

  1. Remove the head from the mackerel.
  2. Remove fillets from each side of the fish to the tail, leaving the skin on
  3. Remove all the pin-bones, I use tweezers
  4. Place the mackerel flesh side into a layer of sugar for an hour
  5. Then brush off the sugar and replace with salt and leave for at least 4 hours
  6. To make the marinade warm the rice vinegar with half the sugar (the rest can be disgarded), leave to cool.
  7. Once the mackerel has cured pull off the skin, this should leave some of the blue/silver pattern on the flesh.
  8. Put the fillets into the marinade for 30 minutes, slice into pieces.
  9. Serve with soy sauce and wasabi.
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Chicken and Barberry Rice


Whenever I see a bag of strange ingredients I am compelled to buy them , this time barberries, small sour berries a traditional Iranian ingredient for a classic dish Zereshk Polow (Barberry Rice with Chicken)  I was dubious that a dish with so few ingredients would taste very good.

Original recipes involve cooking the chicken and rice seperately then combining them for a one hour bake, the closest I could think a biryani. But obsessed as I am with the pressure cooker I thought I would make up my own method

It worked perfectly the chicken juices absorbed and coating with the rice. Slightly caramalised barberries adding a sweet sour taste. These are definitely going to become one of my favourite ingredients.

Chicken and Barberry Rice

Serves 4

8 pieces of chicken (legs and drumsticks)skin removed
250g of basmatic rice
1 large onion peeled and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic peeled

1/2 pint of hot (just boiled)water
8 strands of saffron
1 large handful of dried barberries

  1. Soak the saffron and the barberries in the water for 5 minutes
  2. Place the chicken in the pressure cooker with the onions and garlic
  3. Pour over the water
  4. Bring the pressure cooker up steam on the highest setting
  5. Turn the heat down and cook for 10 minutes
  6. Release the pressure, add the rice
  7. Bring back up the steam , turn down the heat, cook for 2 minutes.
  8. Remove from the heat, release the pressure
  9. Serve
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Fish Tagine (Pressure Cooker)


Tagine are traditionally slow-braised at low temperature, ate mounds of them during a holiday in Marrakech , usually I will cook a tagine in the slow cooker, usually using something that favours a long cook, mutton or rabbit.

But this was a change cooked in just 20 mins in the pressure cooker but the spices combined with pressure cooking give a depth of flavour that suggests a lot longer cooking.  I used some not very special fish from the freezer , but the whole dish was filling , felt light and fragrant

Em certainly liked it the next day but then she licked a slug the other day so probably not the best indicator.

Preserved Lemons

But for this I was late getting ingredients together
Fish Tagine

3 pieces of white fish ( pollock , cod etc) cut into large pieces
100g of fresh tomatoes ( tinned would be fine) roughly chopped
2 sticks of celery finely diced
2 carrots finely diced
1 clove of garlic
1 large onion finely sliced
200g of waxy potatoes cut into inch cubed pieces
2 tbsp of ras al hanout ( a spice blend of cardamon , cloves , cinammon , chilli peppers coriander cumin pepercorn tumeric)
1/2 a preserved lemon finely chopped
1/2 tbsp of fresh mint
1/4 pint of water
1 handful of green olives

  1. Place all the ingredients except the fish and mint in the pressure cooker on the highest pressure.
  2. Once it is up to heat turn it down , cook for 20 minutes
  3. Release the pressure and add the fish
  4. Stir in the fish, it should cook in the heat of the pan, turning opaque but you could just bring the sauce up to a gentle simmer
  5. Serve scattering over the fresh mint

Jerk Mutton StewMutton Tagine

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Celebrating a Year
















That was quite a year , sorry it’s been pretty quiet on the blogging front but Em really has been taking up a lot of time. If I sit down to try and type when she is around she wants to help.

In the evenings I just try to get us all fed and restore some semblance of order to the house, try and remember to say hello to my lovely partner, who knows maybe a bit more than hello.
















I wrote months ago now to say Em had started sleeping through. Well I am never typing that again .

Parenthood 101 : Never talk about your child doing something good, because they will immediately stop.  with an additional

With an additional Part B :Never listen to anyone describe some horrendous thing their child has got up to and think, “Oh God , please don’t let my child do that.” or worse “Well my child will never do that.”

Because they will and the correct response is always. “How did you get them to stop?”, listen hard and file it away for future reference.

To celebrate her first year I did make not one but two cakes , the first incorporating two of her favourite foods cheese and strawberries.

Food continues to be a fun challenge  now  refusing spoons, watching her eat her cheesecake dantily plucking chunks from the lump held in her tight little fist was something to behold.

Strawberry Cheescake (No Bake)


250g digestive biscuits
100g unsalted butter , melted
1 vanilla pod (seeds scraped), 1tsp of vanilla paste
600g soft cheese
300ml greek yogurt

400g punnet strawberries , halved
50g of caster sugar

  1. Line the edge of of a 23cm springform cake tin with greaseproof paper
  2. Take 1/3 of the strawberries and roughly chopped
  3. Place in a saucepan with a dash of water and the caster sugar
  4. Warm to a very gentle simmer and cook until the strawberries have begun to break down.
  5. Meanwhile warm the butter until melted either in a pan or the microwave
  6. Place the biscuits into a plastic bag and bash the bag with a rolling pin until fine ( you can use a food processor) but Em definitely preffered watching the manual approach.
  7. Mix together the biscuit crumbs and the butter and press into the bottom of the cake tin.
  8. Place in fridge for at least an hour.
  9. Beat the soft cheese until smooth with the vanilla seeds, Stir in the greek yogurt
  10. after the digestive biscuits have set , layer over half the cream cheese/yogurt mix , pour over the strawberry puree, then add the other half of the cream cheese , allowing the puree to mix in.
  11. Refridgerate overnight.
  12. Before serving top with the halfed strawberries , and slip from the sprung tin.


    Victora Sandwich

    I used double the quantity of my standard 175 cake recipe with just a dash of vanilla paste
    350g of self raising flour
    350g of unsalted butter
    350g of golden caster sugar
    6 eggs
    1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
    1 tsp of vanilla paste

    1. Blend together the butter , sugar and vanilla
    2. Mix in the eggs
    3. Mix the flour with the bicardbonate of soda add to the mix
    4. Pour into a round 25cm cake tin (lined with baking paper)
    5. Bake at 175degC for 40 minutes until golden and firm to touch
    6. Meanwhile make some strawberry purree

    400g of strawberries sliced
    50g of caster sugar

    200ml of double cream whipped until stiff

    1. Warm 100g of strawberry halves with a dash of water, puree with a stick blenderuntil some chunks remanin, you can do this by mashing chuinks with a spoon , it will take a bit longer
    2. Add the caster sugar , stir until dissolved and leave to cool
    3. Whip the double cream until stiff
    4. Once the cake is cooked , put half the cream onto the firt half of the cake , pour over the strawberry puree, sandwich with the second hal which shuld then be topped with the remaining cream and sliced strawberries
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Gnocchi with Broad Beans Bacon and Pea Pesto


This is the time of year when my food photostream turns green , peas and beans.

Pea Pesto so deliciously sweet you think you must have added some sugar, add a dash of goats cheese,  lemon and mint to the recipe below and it’s lovely on some toasted french beans.

Here it add some extra green zing as a vegetable pesto. Topped here with some foraged tri-corned garlic but some purple chive or garlic flowers would be lovely too.

Gnocchi with Broad Beans Bacon and Pea Pesto

200g of potato gnocchi (recipe below)
2 rashers of thick cut smoked bacon
200g of broad beans
2tbsp of greek yoghurt
200g Pea Pesto (recipe below)

  1. Cook the gnocchi til soft add the broad beans for the last few minutes (fresh will take double the length of frozen)
  2. Fry the bacon til crispy, stir in the broad beans.
  3. Add the cooked gnocchi and quickly stir in the pesto and yoghurt
  4. Taste and season with extra black pepper
If you want to make this vegetarian skip the bacon and add some crumbled goats cheese to the pesto.

Pea Pesto
200g of peas
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of salt and pepper

  1. Puree together the peas, garlic , oil
  2. Taste and season with salt and pepper


Makes enough for 4 people ( so you can freeze half for the above recipe)

1kg of potatoes
400g of flour ( but you may not need it all)
1 egg
Pinch of salt

  1. Peel the potatoes, cut into quarter a place in a pan of boiling salted water.
  2. Simmer until the potatoes are softened.
  3. Mash until fine , or use a food processor or ricer
  4. Add the egg salt and slowly add the flour.
  5. You want a bread dough texture but depending on the wetness of potatoes you may not need all the flour.
  6. Remove a golf ball size of dough, roll into a sausage shape on a lightly floured surface.
  7. Cut into 1.5cm sized pieces with a fork roll it over.
  8. Place well spaced on a tray or baking sheet before cooking


  1. You can cook the gnocchi immediately by cooking it in boiling salted water until the gnocchi rise to the top . This usually takes just a few minutes
  2. To freeze place on a baking tray and place in the freezer, once frozen they can be placed in a freezer bag and will keep for months and can be cooked as above straight from frozen.
Homemade Cheese , Homegrown Salad dressed with Rape Seed Oil and  Blackberry Vinegar
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Lamb and Broad Bean Curry

A quick post to show I am still around and eating. Friday night curry , Lamb with fresh broad beans.  Broad Beans are one of my favourite vegetables, and they are just beggining to come into season now, though I have to confess like peas and I think broad beans are pretty good frozen vegetables. The dried one’s would work well in this recipe too.
This dish was inspired by Keema Currys often served with peas but broad beans work really well sweet like peas but they also absorb the spiced sauce.
Lamb and Broad Bean Curry
2 tbsp of sunflower oil
4 tbsp of garam masala
1tsp of mustard seeds
1tsp of tumeric
1 thumb of ginger peeled and finely chopped
500g of shoulder or leg of lamb cut into bitesized
100g of red lentils
1/2 pint of vegetable stock
500ml of plain yogurt
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 large onion thickly sliced
500g of fresh broad beans
Heat the oil and fry the garam masala, tumeric , ginger, chillis and mustard seeds
Stir in the meat and allow it to brown , once browned remove and add the onions and garlic
Fry until softened then return the meat to the dish, add the lentils and stock
Simmer for 3 hours on a low heat ( check occassionally that it has not boiled dry and add extra water accordingly) or place in the slow cooker on low for 5 hours
The meat will be tender and falling apart, add the beans and yogurt for the last 15 minutes ( or 30 minutes for slow cooker)
Serve with rice
Salmon in Prosciutto with Broad Bean, Courgette and Fennel Salad by you. photophoto
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