Monthly Archives: July 2012

I just had to try this one out! Ours was served with a ‘coleslaw’ of shredded red cabbage, carrot, courgette and celeriac dressed with lemon juice rather than mayonnaise. It was rather yummy! According to A Man, he “wouldn’t complain” if I made it again and he’s already declared that he’s commandeering the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch. A success, methinks!


Spicy Sausage Bolognese


In case you haven’t noticed, we appear to have summer this week!  Because of this I’ve been trying to avoid being in the kitchen for too long; for one thing it gets too warm and for another I’d much rather be outside.  Meals have tended towards the quick and simple and haven’t exactly been blog-worthy.

Last night I had karate and A Man went to kickboxing and I swear I very nearly passed out from the heat.  I really didn’t feel like making tea when I got home, but realised I probably ought to have something before bed or I’d wake up starving in the middle of the night.  I had planned our go-to easy meal of sausage pasta but realised we had very little in the way of salad to go with it, hence the development of this little dish.

It’s not difficult to make, and is pretty light for a pasta dish making it great for the summer.  It’s definitely one I’ll keep on the books.

Love love

Gemma xx

Spicy Sausage Bolognese

Good quality, highly seasoned sausages or chipolatas
Red onion
Garlic cloves
Red chilli
Yellow pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Fresh basil
Tinned tomatoes
Rocket and grated parmesan or grana padano to serve


  1. Remove the sausagemeat from the skins and shape into balls.  Set aside.
  2. Heat some olive oil on a medium-high hob.  Chop the onion into small dice and chop the chilli and garlic finely.  Fry in the olive oil for a few minutes, until starting to soften.
  3. Chop the pepper into thin strips and the apple into fairly chunky pieces (you can leave the skin on).  Add to the onion and fry for a couple of more minutes.  Add a fairly large glug of balsamic vinegar to the pan.
  4. Add the sausage balls to the pan and shake around to cook the outside of each meatball.  Add the basil to the pan, followed by the tinned tomatoes.  Turn the heat down slightly.
  5. Cook the spaghetti according to the packet’s instructions.  Season the tomato sauce to taste with a pinch of sugar, salt, pepper, dried herbs and chilli flakes.
  6. Serve as soon as the pasta is cooked.  Top the bolognese with a handful of fresh rocket and lots of grated cheese.

Restaurant Review – The Pulpit Inn, Portland Bill


On Saturday, A Man and I had a date to celebrate our anniversary.  We went to Weymouth for the day and ended up at Portland Bill in the evening, having planned to eat at the Pulpit Inn just as we did 6 years ago when we got engaged.  I remembered the pub being friendly and the food being fantastic and reasonably priced, and was a little concerned that I was viewing the evening through rose-tinted specs.  However, I was absolutely not disappointed.

Being right on the coast, the Pulpit serves a variety of super-fresh fish and seafood and I took full advantage of this by choosing a half lobster, cooked with garlic.  It arrived looking beautiful in its shell with a nicely varied mixed salad and new potatoes.  I must admit I couldn’t finish my salad as I was so full up (but needless to say, I absolutely demolished that lobster)!

A Man chose duck breast with mixed veg and new potatoes.  The duck breast was large and absolutely perfectly cooked – beautifully pink in the middle with crispy crunchy skin.  A Man declared it to have been the best duck breast he’d ever eaten.  Yum yum yum yum yum!

I was too full up to have a dessert (and was quite pleased I hadn’t had a starter) but did have a coffee.  My one complaint would be that my coffee came with those little cartons of UHT milk rather than a small jug of fresh milk, but it’s quite a small criticism in the grand scheme of things.  Our two main meals, two pints of Coke, two white wine and sodas and a cup of coffee came to around £45; money very well spent as far as I’m concerned.  I would fully recommend the Pulpit and intend to return there, hopefully fairly soon!

A meal fit to make you explode

Hi there!

Yesterday was A Man and my anniversary.  It’s now 6 years since we’ve been engaged, and our wedding is finally less than a year away! As I had the day off and he was working I decided to cook a yummy 3 course dinner, complete with actually setting the table nicely, with a tablecloth.  I must admit to going a little over the top.  I bought fillet steak when rump would have done the trick, but the steak was short-date so substantially reduced.  There was also no need to make quite such an enormous dessert, but I’ve only got one spring-form tin and it’s that big.  It’ll hopefully get eaten during the week.

I set the table before A Man got home and then banned him from the kitchen 🙂

My menu was:

Starter Home-made duck liver parfait with a side salad and herb ciabatta toasts
Main Peppered fillet steak with baked potato wedges, tomatoes and flat mushrooms, served with a peppercorn sauce
Dessert Vanilla cheesecake with fresh raspberries, blueberries and mango

Yum!  The starter and main turned out very well.  The dessert, though tasty, looked like an absolute unmitigated disaster.  I shan’t be following that recipe again!  And I’m determined not to think about how many weeks’ calories must have been involved in this single meal.

Love love

Gemma xx

I prepped as much as I could before-hand, so the actual cooking primarily consisted of ‘turn oven on’

Duck Liver Parfait with a side salad and herb ciabatta toasts

Duck livers (or chicken livers if you can’t find duck)
Red onion
Ciabatta roll
Pine nuts
Grana Padano cheese
Pine nuts
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar

We actually shared one ramekin of parfait rather than having one each. I think I succeeded in actually plating up an attractive starter!

  1. I made the parfait more or less like this, but without the port and cranberries and with a splash of brandy to deglaze the pan after cooking everything off.
  2. Take a herb and onion ciabatta roll and slice it as thinly as possible.  Place the slices on an oven tray and bake in a medium-high oven for a few minutes until they are crispy.  Be careful not to overdo it or they’ll burn.
  3. Plate up some rocket leaves.  Toast some pine nuts in a dry frying pan until they start to darken (be careful, they burn very easily) and sprinkle over the leaves.  Use a vegetable peeler to get some shards of cheese and sprinkle over the top.  Dress the salad with a small amount of olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Peppered fillet steak with baked potato wedges, tomatoes and flat mushrooms, served with a peppercorn sauce

Black peppercorns, salt and sugar
Tomatoes on the vine
Flat mushrooms
Red onion
Olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Crème fraîche

The peppercorn sauce was in a jug. I decided it would make a better photo before it has been poured on.

  1. Remove the steak from its packaging and dry the surfaces with kitchen roll or a teatowel.  Coat both sides liberally with freshly ground black pepper and season with a little salt.  Leave to come up to room temperature.
  2. Slice the potatoes into wedges (leaving the skin on) and boil until soft.  Remove from the pan and arrange on an oven tray, cut sides facing up.  If you like you can season them with your chosen flavour, an cook them in oil or fat to make the crispier.  I decided that with all the other calories in this dish, just baking them au naturel made the most sense!
  3. Place the tomatoes and mushrooms on an oven tray.  Cut the onion into quarters and add to the veg.  Season well with salt, pepper and a little sugar on the tomatoes.  Drizzle with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  4. Cook the potatoes and veg in a hot oven for around 30 minutes, or until the wedges are browned and the veg is soft.  Turn the oven off and place some plates to warm.
  5. Melt some butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat.  When it is bubbling and starting to brown, add the steaks to the pan with a few peppercorns.  Cook them on both sides until they are cooked as desired.  I only cooked mine for a minute or two on each side, as we like ours very rare.  Scrape some of the pepper off of the steak into the butter and remove the meat from the pan, placing it on the warmed plates.
  6. Deglaze the pan with a couple of tablespoons of brandy, scraping up any crispy bits on the bottom of the pan.  Add a spoon or two of crème fraîche and cook for a couple of minutes until the sauce has reduced.  Serve as quickly as possible, to ensure the steak is still warm.

Vanilla cheesecake with fresh raspberries, blueberries and mango

I used a Jamie Oliver recipe and followed it to the letter.  It ought to have been beautiful but somehow the cream cheese seemed to melt everywhere as soon as I topped the cheesecake with the raspberry sauce.  Sadface.  At least it tasted good!  And I suppose there had to be a disaster somewhere…

Perhaps there was too much raspberry sauce? I don’t know, except that it made a huge mess!

Pea and Mint Soup

Hi there

Yesterday after work, I bought a couple of kg of fresh pod peas which were seriously reduced.  I then sat on the sofa and shelled them over a couple of episodes of Don’t Tell the Bride.  Totally intended to tidy the house.  Didn’t.  Never mind!

This soup is seriously easy and very pretty too!  If you’re feeling extreme, you can strain it after it’s been blended to ensure it’s super-smooth, but I didn’t bother.  It can be served hot or cold, and the addition of a little cream or yoghurt can make it really special.

You can of course use frozen peas if you  prefer.  With fresh peas, you end up with tons and tons of pods – I chucked mine in the slow cooker to make an easy veggie stock.  I also had too many peas to blend so removed some of them from the stock and chilled them for use later in the week.

Much love

Gemma xx

Pea and Mint Soup

It’s so greeeen! A Man seasoned his with lots of black pepper.

2 red onions
Several fat cloves of garlic
Butter and olive oil
Dried and fresh mint
1 – 2 pints vegetable stock
Lots of peas
Salt, pepper and brown sugar to taste
Cream or natural yoghurt (optional)

  1. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry in some butter and olive oil until starting to soften.  Add the dried and fresh mint.
  2. Add enough stock to cover the onion by about an inch and simmer for a couple of minutes.  Add the peas and more stock if necessary to ensure they are covered by an inch or two.  Simmer for around 5 minutes.
  3. Remove from the heat and whiz with a hand blender until smooth, adding more liquid as necessary.  Strain if desired.  Season well with salt, pepper and a couple of teaspoons of brown sugar to taste.  If serving chilled, leave to cool and then chill in the fridge – it may thicken as it cools, so add more liquid if necessary.
  4. Add the cream or yoghurt if desired and serve with toasted pitta bread.

Lamb Ribs with Apricot-Onion Jam

Well hullo there!

I’ve been away for the week in rainy rainy Brittany, staying with friends, talking lots of French, eating ridiculous amounts of bread and walking lots when I ought to have been resting my damaged foot 🙂  I didn’t want to make anything which was going to be too high maintenance yesterday, as I had to do the food shopping and then go to work, so I decided to make this easy lamb recipe, which was pretty yummy.  The lamb is cooked on a bed of fruit and onions, which then mush down to create a sticky jammy sauce.  Yum!  I roasted some red pepper, sweet potato and aubergine to go with it.

Love love

Gemma xx

Lamb Ribs with Apricot-Onion Jam

Lamb ribs
1 and a half punnets of fresh apricots
Ginger wine
1 red onion
Onion granules
Salt and Pepper

  1. Half and stone the apricots and place them in an ovenproof dish.  Peel and slice the onion and add it to the apricot.  Pour over a good slug of ginger wine.
  2. Place the ribs, skin side up, on top of the fruit.  Season very well with the herbs and spices.  Place in a medium-low oven for a couple of hours, until the meat is well cooked through.
  3. Remove the ribs from the dish and place somewhere to keep warm.  Skim off some of the fat from the dish, if desired.  Mash the apricots together with the onion and juices from the lamb.
  4. Serve the ribs with roasted vegetables, cous cous and the sauce.  Leftover jam makes a fantastic addition to meaty or cheesy sandwiches.

Cheeky Leek Casserole

Hullo hullo

Well, if you’ve ever spent more than 2 minutes with me you’ll most likely be well aware of how clumsy I am.  I’m currently sitting on the sofa with my ankle iced and elevated after coming off of my bike earlier today.  I still  pushed through an hour of karate (granted I probably oughtn’t to have) but had to pass up A Man’s request to go roller skating.  He looked very sad.  I felt very guilty.

Luckily for both of us, I made dinner yesterday in the slow cooker.  I had to pop to the supermarket and came across some reduced price pork cheeks.  I’ve seen them come through my till several times but had never bought them before.  They’re kindof hard to come across usually as it’s the kind of meat that tends to be made into sausages, but Morrisons stocks them (as, apparently do Waitrose) and you might be able to get hold of some from a decent butcher.  Even at full price, they’re only £5 per kilo and have no bones, gristle or much fat (if they’re trimmed as mine were) so they’re really good value for money.

They can apparently be a bit on the tough side, but you just wouldn’t know it from tonight’s dinner.  It was some of the tastiest, most tender pork I’ve eaten in a long time.  Really to be highly recommended!  I also only used the dark green ends of my leeks (I had used the paler bits last night, in leeks in cheese sauce) which stand up better to the long slow cooking and might otherwise have been thrown away.  Overall, I’d thoroughly recommend this dish.  Even if you’re a bit squeamish about eating cheeks, you really can’t tell when you just have the meat, and the end result is so worth it!  No photo I’m afraid – I was feeling lazy.

Love love


Cheeky Leek Casserole

2 or 3 pork cheeks per person (depending on size and how greedy you’re feeling)
Dark green ends of leeks, cut into chunky pieces
Half an onion, chopped
1 large or a couple of small apples, cored and chopped into chunky pieces (skin left on)
About a pint of chicken stock
Heaped teaspoon wholegrain mustard
Teaspoon honey
Some white sauce (or cheese sauce – I used the leftovers from the leeks in cheese sauce)
Fresh tarragon
Mushrooms, chopped into chunks

  1. Chop the pork cheeks into 3 or 4 chunky pieces.  Place in slow cooker.
  2. Add the leeks, onion and apple.  Stir together well to distribute.
  3. Mix the mustard and honey with the chicken stock.  Make up the white or cheese sauce if necessary and stir into the stock.  Pour over the pork and vegetables.  Ad more water if necessary to cover.  Add fresh tarragon.
  4. Cook in slow cooker on low (or in a casserole dish in a low oven) for around 4-5 hours.  Fish out the tarragon and stir through the mushrooms.  Cook for another hour or so.
  5. Taste and season if necessary.  Serve with rice, pasta or mashed potatoes (we had rice) and a glass of cider.  Thank me later for just how tender the meat is.