Roast Garlic, Bread and Almond Soup

Got a cold yet? I have had a horrid one I caught off my daughter. Always seem inevitable. Garlic is proven to not only prevent colds but is thought to build up your immune system against getting them as well. So I thought this soup might help. You might think I am going completely mad with this recipe.


I know you don’t usually make soup by toasting unpeeled garlic cloves and bread in the oven. But trust me – it works.


Roasted Garlic, Bread and Almond Soup

2 large whole head of garlic – about 130g of unpeeled cloves

Extra virgin olive oil

130g good quality sourdough bread

85g whole almonds (I used flaked but just because I wanted to use them up)

2 pints chicken stock (you can use good quality stock cubes)

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pre-heat oven to 180C. Break up the garlic into cloves. Cut the bread into slices. Drizzle generously with olive oil. Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes. Add the almonds and return to the oven. Cook for about 15 minutes more  until the bread is golden brown toast, the almonds are toasted and the garlic is really soft.  When the garlic is cool enough to handle, tear the skins and squeeze  out the garlic  cloves. Heat the chicken stock in a saucepan and add the other ingredients. Puree with a hand blender of a liquidizer. Season with salt and pepper. Serve hot with a drizzle of olive oil.


Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

I make up batches of pizza dough and keep it in the freezer for a quick supper. You can top them with all sorts of vegetables. It is fun to think up new combinations. These sweet baby peppers which are in the boxes at the moment are particularly good!  If you can’t be bothered to make your own pizza dough then you can actually buy it ready made in the freezer section of Waitrose. They also do a ready baked pizza crust for those of you who are really pushed for time.


Sweet Baby Pepper, Mushroom, Red Onion, Goat’s Cheese and Olive Pizza

Pizza dough – follow link for my recipe

Tomato Pasata (I like Pizza Expresses)

Sweet baby peppers

A few mushrooms

1 red onion

200g of goat’s cheese, Chevre Blanc

Dried Oregano

A pinch of salt

Stoned black olives

Preheat the oven to 250C. Put a large baking sheet in the oven. Roll out the pizza dough as thin as possible, especially in the middle. Sprinkle some flour onto a completely flat baking sheet and place your dough on top. Shake to make sure it is not sticking. Spread some pasata on top. Go up to the edges but not over them. Slice the onion very finely with a mandolin. Slice the peppers through widthways. Slice the mushrooms very thinly. Scatter the onion, mushrooms and peppers all over the pasata. Be generous especially with the peppers. Top with a sprinkling of marjoram and salt. Top with slices of goat’s cheese and olives. Slide the whole pizza off the baking sheet, straight onto the hot baking sheet in the oven. Cook until golden brown. Serve straight away.


Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Spicy Lamb and Coriander

I have to say I am always a bit stuck with courgettes. They are a bit bland and always need that extra bit of help to make them really tasty. This is a great way of using them up. It maybe a little laborious but well worth the effort.


Baked Courgettes Stuffed with Spicy Lamb and Coriander

3 large courgettes, halved length-ways

For the stuffing

500g lean minced lamb

2 onions, finely chopped

4 garlic cloves, crushed

2 tsp each ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cinnamon

Pinch chilli flakes

1 400g can plum tomatoes

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Small bunch fresh coriander, chopped

Heat oven to 180C. Scoop out and discard the seeds of the courgettes with a teaspoon and lay them on a roasting tray lined with grease-proof, drizzle with olive oil and season. Bake for 30 mins until softened slightly.

Meanwhile, fry the lamb in a heavy bottomed saucepan. You should not need any oil as lamb is usually fatty. Brown over a high heat. Next turn down the heat and add the onions. Add a little oil if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and cook slowly for about 10 to 15 minutes. Next add the spices and garlic. Fry for a minute more and then add the tin of tomatoes. Rinse out the tin with a little water and add that too. Cook over a medium heat, breaking up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 15 minutes until the tomatoes have reduced and you have a thick sauce. Stir in the coriander. Check seasoning. When the courgettes are ready, pile the lamb into the cavities. Bake for 15-20 mins.


Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola

I never make stuffed mushrooms. I don’t know why. It is just one of those recipes which never springs to mind. But they are so quick and simple I thought I would give them a go. And they had to be filled with some of my favourite ingredients – bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola. This is my favourite Gorgonzola, as the cheese is layered with cream cheese, which makes it less strong, but twice as creamy. Most supermarkets sell it but if you can find any, trying cutting the amount of Gorgonzola, or any blue cheese with some cream cheese.

Portobello Mushrooms stuffed with Bacon and Torta di Gorgonzola

1 large onion, finely chopped onion

5 to 6 slices bacon, finely chopped

70 g Torta di Gorgonzola, cut into small cubes

70 g freshly made breadcrumbs

Sea Salt and Freshly ground black pepper

4 large Portobello mushrooms

Preheat the oven to 180 C.  Remove the stems from the mushrooms and chop them finely, leaving the mushrooms whole. In a large frying pan fry the bacon in a little oil until really crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on some kitchen paper. Add a large knob of butter to the pan and cook the onions gently until really soft. Add the mushroom stalks and cook on for another 5 minutes or so. Add the breadcrumbs and season well with salt and pepper and mix together. Stir in the cheese.

Spoon the mixture into the mushroom caps and place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Bake until the mushrooms are tender, 25 to 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.



Pepper’s Piedmontese

I can’t remember where this recipe first came from. Maybe Elizabeth David, but I remember serving it as a starter at the first restaurant I ever worked in, The Brackenbury in Hammersmith. In January and February, we did a set lunch with The Times, which was something ridiculous like £10 for three courses, so you can imagine, it was fabulously busy. Maybe up to 90 lunches a day in a little 50 seater restaurant with a tiny kitchen. It was hot, long hours and hard work and I made one hell of a lot of Pepper’s Piedmontese.


Peppers Piedmontese

For vegetarians, remove the anchovy.

Serves 4 as a starer and  2 as a main.

6 ripe plum tomatoes

2 red peppers, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced

Small bunch of basil, shredded

4 good-quality anchovies in oil

Freshly ground black pepper

4 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

Cut your peepers in half through the stem. Then cut across the stem with a knife to remove the seeds but leave the stem attached. Chop your tomatoes into 8ths and toss in a bowl with plenty of olive oil, salt, pepper and the basil. Heat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas4. Slice the garlic as thinly as you can (a mandolin is good for this.) Put some slithers of garlic into each half of the peppers. Next add an anchovy fillet into each one. Pile in the chopped tomatoes. Place on the middle shelf of the oven and roast for 30 to 40 minutes. The flesh of the pepper should be soft but not falling apart, steaming just slightly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature, when the flavour of the peppers is at its very best. Before serving, drizzle over the olive oil and serve.


Leek and Parmesan Tart

I made a Squash, Red Onion and Goat’s Cheese Tart a few weeks ago and it reminded me of another, in fact my favourite tart, which I often used to cook for supperclubs in the early days. This Leek and Parmesan Tart is really easy to make and great as a starter at a dinner party when you want everything to be prepared in advance. But it also makes a lovely lunch. Serve it very slightly warm with a crisp salad on the side.


Leek and Parmesan Tart

Serves 6

Tart tin 10” / 25cm

For the pastry

175g plain flour

80g butter, cold and cubed

Pinch of salt if using unsalted butter

1 egg

For the filling

2 large or 3 small leeks

Olive oil


Small bunch of thyme, very finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

½ pt double cream

3 egg yolks

80g grated parmesan

Put the flour and butter for the pastry, and salt if using, in a food processor. Mix until you have breadcrumbs. Add the egg and just mix enough for the pastry to come together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 180C.  Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Get a round piece of greaseproof paper and carefully cover the pasty with it. Folding it down over the top edge. Blind bake for about 15 minutes or until the pasty is very light golden brown. Meanwhile sweat the leeks gently in a heavy bottomed saucepan, with some butter, a glug of olive oil, the thyme and some salt and pepper. Cover and cook very slowly for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the lid and continue to cook until beginning to caramelise. Remove from the heat and add the cream and the yolks and the grated parmesan cheese. Season to taste. Pour into the tart case. Turn the oven down to 170C and cook the tart for about 20-30 minutes, until set and lightly golden brown.


Crispy Fried Leeks

Here is an interesting thing to do with leeks. Deep-fry them. May sound strange but I’m sure you have all had fried onions before and know how delicious they are. Well, leeks are even easier, due to their lower water content, they crisp up nicely and I think they might be rather nice as an addition to a winter salad.



Crispy Fried Leeks

vegetable oil for deep-frying

1 large leek


Fine sea salt

In a medium saucepan heat oil to 180C/350F. Use a thermometer.

Julienne leeks by cutting the leek in half lengthways and then in half cross ways. Finely shred the leek lengthways into thin strips.  Don’t worry too much about them being perfect, just try and keep them even sized. Dust the leeks in cornflour and fry until golden brown, about 30 seconds to a minute. Drain on a paper towel, season with salt.


Roast Butternut Squash Quesadillas

It is difficult to think up new, quick and easy meals, especially for the kids. I often turn to Mexican with its enticing variety of different wraps – Taco shells or just tortilla chips are also popular with my kids and can be piled high with healthy vegetables to counteract the sour cream and cheese. Then there are either corn or flour tortillas which can be transformed into Burritos, Enchiladas or Quesadillas. The whole concept of all these recipes is pretty much the same. They are really flexible with your choice of vegetable, they are all super quick and easy to make and as long as you pile enough salsa or guacamole on top, usually everyone is happy.


Roast Butternut Squash Quesadillas

1 small butternut squash, diced into 1 cm squares

1 tsp smoked paprika

4 corn flour tortillas

Olive oil

6 spring onions, finely sliced

½ pack fresh coriander, roughly chopped

125g (4½oz) mozzarella, torn

100g (4oz) cheddar cheese, grated

To serve -salad, Guacamole, salsa or sour cream

Preheat the oven to 180C. Toss the butternut with oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Place on a lined baking tray and roast for 25-30 minutes until beginning to caramelise.

Heat a non-stick frying pan over a medium heat. Place a tortilla in the pan and over half of the butternut squash. Scatter over some of the spring onions, coriander and both cheeses.  Cover with another tortilla and heat for 1 ½ minutes before carefully flipping over and frying for a further 1 ½ minutes. Chop into wedges and serve with salad.


Cauliflower Korma

I’m kicking this week off with a Cauliflower Korma. I have tried this with parsnips before, with great success. You could try it out with what ever you have to hand, and would compliment well with this  mild, nutty and creamy curry.


I like to roast the vegetables for the curry, whilst I prepare the base. This saves time, but also keeps the texture of the vegetables better.

The freshly ground cardomon is super important and if you dont want to spend hours picking the seeds out of the pods yourself, look out for the seeds only in good Indian Supermarkets. Try Spiceway in Kingston Road. It may look unpromising from the outside but it has a really good selection of Indian ingredients.

Cauliflower Korma

1 large cauliflower, broken into even sized, bite size florets

Coconut oil

2 medium onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, peeled and grated

Large knob of ginger, scraped and grated

1 fresh red chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground cardamom seeds (you can find these in a good Indian food shop. Try Spiceway)

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground fennel seeds

1 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1 tin coconut milk

2 tbsp ground almonds

2 tbsp flaked almonds

Bunch of fresh coriander, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 180C. Toss the cauliflower with coconut oil and season with sea salt.  Spread out on a large lined roasting tray and roast in the oven for about 30 minutes until the florets are tender and turning golden brown.  Meanwhile, in a heavy bottomed saucepan, fry the onions gently in some coconut oil. Sweat for 10 minutes or so until just beginning to turn light brown. Add the chill, garlic and ginger and fry for a minute more. Add the spices and fry for a minute more. Add the coconut milk and simmer gently until you have the consistency of single cream. Season with salt and stir in the ground almonds and chopped coriander. Check seasoning and adjust to taste. Stir in the roast cauliflower and sprinkle with toasted almonds and serve with rice or naan.


Braised Red Cabbage

Finally, for this week, I tackled a red cabbage. I make lots of slaws with red cabbage but obviously the most traditional way of cooking is braising it. I don’t know why this method, has got so complex, incorporating such a wide array of fruit and spices from oranges to sultanas to cranberries, cinnamon to all-spice. Maybe because it is associated with Christmas dinner that everyone feels they have to out do each other with over complicating a very simple recipe. I have left it plain, so feel free to add your own twist if you wish. But what I will implore you, is do not feel the necessity to cook your cabbage for hours until it turns from red to brown. Cooking less time, not only keeps its colour but ensures it retains a little texture and more flavour too.


Braised Red Cabbage

Serves 4. Red cabbage, once cooked, can be kept warm. It re-heats well and can also be frozen.

550g red cabbage

1 large or 2 small onions, chopped small

2 large) cooking apples, peeled, cored and chopped small

1 clove garlic, chopped very small

3 level tablespoons brown sugar

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

½ oz (15 g) butter (omit for vegans or dairy-free)


First discard the tough outer leaves of the cabbage, cut it into quarters and remove the hard stalk.

Then shred the rest of the cabbage finely, using your sharpest knife (although you can shred it in a food processor or use a mandolin).  In a fairly large casserole, add some olive oil and sweat the onion for about 10 minutes until soft. Add the cabbage, salt and pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes to allow the cabbage to wilt. Add the apple, sugar and vinegar and 2 tablespoons of water. Cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes. Remove lid and check seasoning. Stir in the butter and serve.