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.


Parsnip Crisps

The second parsnip recipe for this week, are these absolutely delicious Parsnip Crisps. These make a great snack and since parsnips are really good for you – containing high levels of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous, zinc, and iron, in addition to an impressive range of vitamins, including vitamin B, vitamin C, vitamin E, and vitamin K, as well as high levels of fibre and some protein, this makes them sound a healthy alternative to potato crisps, so brilliant for the kids.

You could also try flavouring them. I always think parsnips go particularly well with curry spices, particularly chilli and cumin, so try adding a little spice to the salt when seasoning them, before cooking. If you want to impress, try garnishing a bowl of Curried Parsnip Soup with a few on top.


Parsnip Crisps  


Olive oil or sunflower oil

Spices if you like

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 160°C. Peel the parsnips and then either keep on peeling strips of parsnip with your potato peeler, or use a mandolin and place in a large bowl with the sunflower oil. Season with salt pepper and toss well.

Arrange the parsnip strips in single layers on large baking trays. Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes, turning halfway, until golden and crisp. Sprinkle with a little extra salt while warm and serve.


Parsnip, Potato and Thyme Gratin

I love parsnips and although they are a sign that winter is really here, the thought of Roast Beef, Yorkshire Pudding, Roast Potatoes, Brussel Sprouts , Roast Parsnips and lashings of home-made Horseradish Sauce, is so thrilling that I can almost excuse the short days and freezing weather.  But what else is there to do with a parsnip apart from roasting it? This week I check out two now parsnip recipes, the first – a warming Parsnip, Potato and Thyme Gratin. Really easy to make, really good to eat!


Parsnip, Potato and Thyme Gratin

700g parsnips, peeled and thinly sliced (use a mandolin or food processor)

300g potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced

400g double cream

100mls milk

Small bunch of thyme, tied with string into a bundle

3 cloves of garlic, peeled

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the cream and milk in a large saucepan. Add the garlic and thyme bundle. Reduce the cream slowly to cook the garlic and allow the thyme to infuse. Boil gently for about 30 minutes whilst you prep your potatoes and parsnips. Keep an eye that it does not boil over or stick. Pre-heat the oven to 170C. Layer the potatoes and parsnips in a gratin dish. Season the cream and squeeze out as much flavour from the thyme bundle as possible, into the cream. The cream should taste a little too salty.  Remember you are not only seasoning the cream, but the parsnips and potatoes as well. Pour the cream mixture over the potatoes and parsnips and cover with tin foil.  Cook in the oven for about an hour until a knife inserts easily into the middle. Remove the tinfoil and return to the oven for a final 10 minutes until golden brown.


Roast Aubergine and Cherry Tomato Pasta with Basil

Finally, for this week, a delicious pasta dish. When I was at then River Café (sorry, it is a week of name dropping) we often used to make this delicious Melanzane al Funghetto, which actually means aubergines cooked in the style of mushrooms, though I have no idea why! Anyway, I am sure that I will probably cook it on this blog very soon, but today I wasn’t looking for a side dish, I wanted a quick supper, so I decided to add some pasta.

Roast Aubergine and Tomatoes

I then thought that it might be nicer to roast the aubergine instead of frying it, to make it less oily and then I thought some little roast cherry tomatoes might be nice so I have called it Roast Aubergine and Cherry Tomato Pasta with Basil and I have to say, it was very nice.

Roast Aubergien and Cherry Tomato Pasta

Roast Aubergine and Cherry Tomato Pasta with Basil
Serves 2
1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
10 cherry tomatoes
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 fat garlic cloves, peeled
1 tin plum tomatoes
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pinch of chilli flakes
handful basil leaves, shredded or torn
handful of drained capers
200g pasta such as penne or fusilli
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat oven to 180C fan. Heat some of the olive oil in a large frying pan. Very thinly slice the garlic and fry until just golden brown. Add the tin of tomatoes, the balsamic vinegar, the chilli flakes and some salt and pepper. Let the sauce bubble away slowly on a low heat. If it gets too dry add a little water. Meanwhile toss the aubergine chunks with some of the olive oil, season well with salt and pepper and tip onto a roasting tray. Cut the cherry tomatoes in half and put them onto the roasting tray as well. Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for about 20-30 mins but check the aubergines regularly and move around to ensure even cooking. Meanwhile cook the pasta and drain. Tip the cooked aubergine, basil leaves and capers into the tomato sauce and stir gently. Check the seasoning and adjust. Tip in the pasta, stir and tip into serving bowls. Scatter with the roast tomatoes and serve straight away with parmesan if you like.

Roast Aubergine Pasta Sauce

Sweet Potato and Leek Pasties

Maybe it was memories of Mussels down in Padstow, but I suddenly got a massive craving for a Cornish Pasty. Cornish pasties date back to the 13th Century, during the reign of Henry III. They were eaten by poorer working families who could only afford cheap ingredients such as potatoes, swede and onion. Meat was added later. Miners and farm workers took this portable and easy to eat convenience food with them to work because it was so well suited to the purpose. Its size and shape made it easy to carry, its pastry case insulated the contents and was durable enough to survive, while its wholesome ingredients provided enough sustenance to see the workers through their long and arduous working days. The crust (crimped edge) was used as a handle which was then discarded due to the high levels of arsenic in many of the tin mines. Luckily, now a days we can eat all the pastry and they are great in the kids lunch box, but the classic mix of beef, swede, onion and potato is set in stone and it would be considered sacrilege to modify these ingredients in any way.

But your pasty does not have to be Cornish. In fact, it could come from almost anywhere and contain whatever you like or have to hand. It is a fabulous way of using up left over root vegetables which is always helpful with a veg box in the winter; carrots, celeriac, parsnips, turnips, sweet potatoes and squashes all work fantastically well. It could be meat free but it certainly makes a little meat go a long way. Just remember whatever you put in your pasty, it must be cut pretty small and must all cook in the same time. I always worry with pies when the ingredients go in raw, that the filling won’t cook or I will end up with soggy pastry, but as long as the pieces in your filling are never any larger than about 1cm, and the pastry is sealed well, the pasty acts like a little steamer and they always turn out great.

My next top tip for busy cooks, is ready made, ready rolled shortcrust pasty. The supermarkets have really got their acts together on the pastry front and you can find a good selection of all-butter pastries in the chilled or freezer section. Check the ingredients and make sure that they contain little more than butter and flour and you can guarantee that they will be good.

So here is a vegetarian version with nothing more than sweet potato and leek. I haven’t called them Cornish as they have no meat or swede, but you can add whatever you like and call it whatever you like too.

Pasty on a plate

Sweet Potato and Leek Pasties
1 large sweet potato, peeled
2 leeks, shredded, washed well and drained well
salt and freshly ground black pepper
knob of butter
2 packets of ready rolled all-butter shortcrust pasty
1 egg, lightly whisked

Chop the sweet potatoes into cubes, no bigger than 1 cms and mix together with the leeks, plenty of salt and freshly ground black pepper. Lightly grease a baking tray with butter or line with baking or silicone paper. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Cut your pasty in to discs roughly 15cms wide. I use a small bowl to cut round. Spoon some mixture into the middle of each disk (be generous, you can get in more than you think) and top with a large knob of butter. Then bring the pastry around and crimp together. I find the ready rolled pastry stick fine but they are best if you turn the pastry over before filling. The down side sticks best. Do not get the pastry wet or that will stop is sealing. A genuine Cornish pasty has a distinctive ‘D’ shape and is crimped on one side, never on top but I like mine the other way. It is up to you. Just make sure it is well sealed and has plenty of filling. Put the pasties onto the baking tray and brush the top of each pasty with the egg. Bake on the middle shelf of the oven for about 30 minutes or until the pasties are golden-brown.

pasty being made

Moules Mouclade

This week I went for a medium veg box original. At this time of year leeks often replace onions in the boxes for a few weeks and I always get caught out, because I just expect onions to be in the fridge at all times. I am constantly surprised to find that there are none there. Recipes are easily adapted to the leek instead, but the substitution of leek often results in me changing the recipe altogether.
Mussels are in season now and make a lovely, simple and quick supper. I can’t quite remember where I first came across this recipe for Moules Mouclade although I suspect it was when I did a stage at Rick Steins, down in Padstow, many moons ago. Leeks replace the shallots in its more famous variation of Moules Mariniere and its mild curry sauce is especially good moped up with a piece of bread.

Moules Mouclade

Moules Mouclade
2 kilo mussels
2 leeks, shredded. washed well and drained well
2 cloves garlic (peeled and finely sliced)
500 ml white wine
1 teaspoons Madras curry powder (medium strength)
1 teaspoon cumin
125 ml double cream or crème fraiche
Small bunch fresh coriander

Soak the mussels in some clean, cold water and – if they haven’t been dealt with in the shop – sort through them, de-bearding, and knocking off any barnacles with the back of a small knife. Tip the mussels into a colander, discarding any that haven’t closed.

Take a large pan with a lid. Add a large knob of butter and the sweat the leeks for about 10 minutes, stirring often to avoid catching. Add the sliced garlic, the curry powder and cumin and fry for a moment more. Next add the mussels and the white wine, put on the lid and cook on a high heat for about 3 minutes. Shake the pan around as they are cooking. When you lift the lid, the mussels should have opened. Discard any that haven’t. Add the double cream or crème fraiche and the freshly chopped coriander. Taste the sauce, adjust to taste and serve.

Leeks cut

Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake

Finally, for this week, another one of my recipes from Riverford’s “Autumn and Winter Veg”. This is simply a basic Bubble and Squeak with a few extras thrown in. I always think it is better made with left over veg from Sunday lunch, than made to order, but it makes a great brunch either way. The combination of parsnips, Brussel sprouts and bacon is a particular favourite of mine, but you can throw in any cooked veg. If you have left over roast potatoes, you can use them instead of mash but you need to chop them up small and mush them up so your cakes stick together. I have even used up left over baked potatoes, scraping them out of their skins and mashing them up. Serve with a fried or poached egg and a couple of sausages would be nice too.

Bubble adn Squeak 2

Parsnip, Brussel Sprout and Bacon Potato Cake
Sometimes I add a teaspoon of mustard or horseradish sauce to the mix.
300-400g potatoes, peeled + cut into even sized pieces
200g Brussel sprouts, trimmed of the outer leaves
200g parsnips
8 rashers of smoked streaky bacon
3 tbsp oil
salt + pepper
Fine polenta

Cook the potatoes in salted water until soft. Drain well and mash while still warm. (You need to keep your mash as dry as possible so that the cakes hold together.) While the potatoes are cooking, cook the Brussel sprouts in plenty of salted boiling water. Drain well. Cut in half if large. Peel and cut the parsnips into even pieces, toss with salt, freshly ground black pepper and some good olive oil. Roast in a hot oven until soft and beginning to caramelize. Allow to cool and roughly chop the parsnips. Cut the bacon into fine lardons and fry in a little oil until really crispy. Drain. (Keep the oil to fry the cakes.) Mix the vegetables together with the mash and bacon, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper. Mould the mixture into little cakes. You can use polenta flour to help them not stick.
Heat some oil in a large, preferably non-stick, frying pan and cook the cakes until they are golden brown on each side. Finish them in the oven until hot all the way through.

parsnips 2

Parsnip & maple syrup cake

This week, I am still experimenting with my “cakes with vegetables in them.” I went to do a Riverford lunch last week and put one of my old favourites on the menu – Parsnip & Maple Syrup Cake but then I was a little concerned as I realised that although I have made it many times in the last few years, I hadn’t actually tried it in ages. Unfortunately, due to often having to make a dash for it at the end of my lunches, for the school run, I am rarely around to get to try the dessert. So I thought I had better test it out at home, just to see if it was up to scratch. And now sitting here, at my computer and just finishing off my third slice, I can happily say, “It is!”

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

Parsnip & maple syrup cake
175g butter, plus extra for greasing
250g Demerara sugar
100ml maple syrup
3 large eggs
250g self-raising flour
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp mixed spice
250g parsnips, peeled and grated
1 medium eating apple, peeled, cored and grated
50g pecans, roughly chopped
Zest and juice 1 small orange
Icing sugar, to serve

250g tub mascarpone
Maple syrup

Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Grease a large loaf tin. Line with greaseproof paper. (I used a silicone one which did not need lining.) Melt butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over gentle heat, then cool slightly. Whisk the eggs into this mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder and mixed spice, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice. Pour into the tin, then bake for 25-30 mins until the top spring back when pressed lightly and a skewer comes out clean.

Cool the cake slightly in the tin before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Just before serving, mix together the mascarpone with just enough maple syrup to sweeten. Spread over the top of the loaf. If you like, dust with icing sugar just before serving.

Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake Crumbs

Baked Eggs with Kale and Cream

It is not every day that I get invited to a book launch, let alone have my name on the cover of the book (albeit along with a few others names.) So, I thought I would spend a little time telling you about Riverford’s latest book, in their range of Riverford Companions “Autumn and Winter.”

No prejudice here of course, but this is a really nicely produced book packed with seasonal recipes to make right now. The emphasis was on quick and easy. It is meant to be a helpful guide to assist and support you to get your vegetables out the box and on the table fast.

The funny thing is that I actually wrote the recipes for the book nearly two years ago now so although it is still seasonal, it is a bit on the late side. I wondered whether I was even going to remember which recipes were mine but I am pleased to say that I did, and a few of them I just wanted to make again right now.

Ever since the weather turned colder, I have had a craving for all sorts of kale, cabbage and leeks but they have to be with cream. I have no idea what this yearning denotes – a lack of vitamin K and a need to fatten up for the winter? A prime instinct, that this is what I am going to need, to get me through the long, hard months ahead. I don’t know, but if it is true, this recipe is the one to satisfy on all counts.

Baked Eggs with Kale 1

Baked Eggs with Kale and Cream
Delicious with spinach as well.
300g curly kale or cavolo nero, stripped from its stems
1 tbsp olive oil
2 garlic cloves, very finely sliced
300ml double cream
1 pinch chilli flakes
4 eggs
120g gruyere or parmesan, grated
toast, to serve

Heat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/ gas mark 4.
Blanch the kale in a pan of boiling water (1–2 mins for curly, 2–3 mins for cavolo nero). Drain and squeeze out excess water once cool.
Fry the garlic in the oil for 1–2 mins. Add the kale and season. Stir in the cream and chilli and bubble for 3–5 mins, until thickened slightly.
Divide the kale between four ramekins, making a small well in the centre of each. Break an egg into each and sprinkle a little grated cheese on top.
Bake for 8–10 mins, until golden. Cook for less time if you like your yolk runny.