I imagine that as you read sage and black pudding pasta you’ll fall into one of two camps of people; either the ‘a full English isn’t the same without it’ camp or the ‘I don’t like it’ camp. If you know what goes into making a black pudding I can understand that it doesn’t really help to sell itself: pork blood, pork fat, oatmeal and spices. The spices vary between producers so try out a local one if you can get your hands on it, it’s definitely worth it. Black pudding is such a polarising ingredient but it’s actually pretty cheap meaning it’s perfect for cooking on a budget.
I have made these black bean quesadillas a few times and I am always surprised how filling they are! They are deliciously full of black beans, spices and cheese and are really simple to make. You could add different beans, leftover chilli (or maybe leftover vegan chilli) and serve with your favourite dips. I love scooping up a big load of guacamole; but then I am a guacaholic. Sour cream, chilli sauce, salsa or whatever you like would be amazing on the side of these. One quesadilla each might not sound like a lot, but they are seriously filling.
There’s ragu, and then there’s proper ragu. You know the two kinds I mean; the quick one that we Brits chuck on top of a pile of spaghetti and the one that takes time, effort, care and attention to make. Don’t get me wrong, the former has its place but this recipe is for the latter; which incidentally freezes very well meaning it is perfect for cooking up a big batch and then reaping the rewards in the weeks to come. It has taken a long time to get this recipe to be my version of a perfect ragu so I hope you enjoy it.
I’m not sure these Peanut Butter and Raspberry Brownies need an introduction; just the name gets my mouth watering and a hankering for a piece with a coffee shortly follows. I’ll be honest from the outset, these are not exactly what you’d call healthy. They are full fat, properly indulgent, to-hell-with-it brownies. And frankly, when you’ve been working hard all day coming home to one of these and a cuppa is like a hug for the soul. A gooey, chocolatey, nutty…stop it…slice of comfort.
I made my quince gin as a way to use some of those delicious fuzzy fruits that grow in the garden. The gin has come out a wonderful, pale canary yellow colour and makes a divine gin and tonic. It is in fact so delicious that it deserved a mix up of its own, something to complement the quince’s distinctive flavour. I love using herbs in drinks and puddings and I wanted to add a botanical twang to this drink. A Lime, Thyme and Quince Gin Cocktail is the way forward. Trust me.
You will need (per drink):
When I’m thinking of ways to treat myself in the middle of the week I like to try and make my life as easy as possible. I prefer to make things where everything is cooked together, or use the same tools. For example I would always try to steam any vegetables over potatoes or pasta that I’m cooking, or if I’m roasting something I try to put everything in the oven. That’s what this meal is all about; grabbing a few bits and bobs from around the kitchen and lifting a meal into something delicious. So, instead of going for a standard fillet of fish, I tried the Lemon and Cracked Black Pepper Lightly Dusted Cod from the Birds Eye ‘Inspirations’ range and works so well with sticky balsamic roasted veggies.
Having put quinces through their baking paces (adding them to crumbles or baking them with honey) I wanted to see how else I could use them. Steeping them with gin seemed like a logical step; the unique flavour of quince I thought would work really well, and it does. I set about making some quince gin and I made a little film about it too. It’s the first film I’ve made and I have a new YouTube channel too, check it out below!
I love the light golden colour that the finished gin has and the delicious, almost tropical taste, the quince gives. This is just the tipple for cold, dark nights with your thickest slippers and a cosy blanket.
I live in a village and on first appearances it has all the qualities of somewhere straight out of Call The Midwife. Actually living there is quite different; people don’t know each others names, good luck trying to get them to take your bins in for you and there’s so much material competition it’s like a car forecourt out there. Of course there are exceptions; one of which is the white house on the corner. They have a Bramley apple tree and although (this year especially) they don’t get many apples from it they always put a box of windfalls outside their gate for people to take. I helped myself to one of their apples and set about making some Bramley apple and nut flapjacks.
You will need (for 8 big flapjacks):
- 200g butter
- 175g light muscovado sugar
- 70g golden syrup
- 70g honey
- 350g rolled oats
- 1 Bramley apple, grated
- 75g mixed nuts, roughly chopped
Melt the butter, sugar, syrup and honey together in a large pan over a low heat. Make sure it’s all mixed together well.
Add the oats, apple and nuts to the butter mix and stir together to ensure everything is coated in the butter and syrup.
Preheat an oven to 160C. Tip the flapjack mix into a tin.
Note – I used a round, silicone ‘tin’ so I didn’t need to grease it but if you’re using a metal one you might want to lightly grease it before adding the flapjack mix. The larger the tin you use, the crunchier the finished flapjack so choose your tin on your flapjack preference!
Bake the flapjack for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and mark into pieces. Leave to cool before removing from the tin.
Originally I wanted to make these flapjacks with cobnuts (wild hazelnuts) but there don’t seem to be many around this year, or the squirrels have got to them all. If you do have some of your own I think they’d be fantastic added to this mix. These flapjacks are perfect at this time of year; they are so autumnal I couldn’t imagine making them in any other month. The Bramley apple adds a little bit of sharpness and a slight cakey texture and the mixed nuts bring a delicious crunch; the ones on the top get lovely and toasted during baking too. If you don’t have a village supply of Bramleys to help yourself to, there are plenty of wild apples around at the moment which would certainly be worth a try.
There’s always a pack of lentils in my kitchen cupboards. Sometimes more than one; the quick cooking red variety to throw into soups, the big fat yellow ones for making dahl and the more elegant puy for making a wholesome side dish or salad. The mealy, earthy taste and texture that comes from a lentil is part of its charm; the fact that they are so humble but so versatile and filling is why I always find myself with lentils on my plate at least once a week. This dish of lentils and chard was served alongside some simply griddled chicken but it was so good that I think it’s perfect as a meal on its own.
Sometimes I make something for the first time and I wonder why it’s taken me so long to get round to it. Iced tea is one of my favourite drinks, especially lemon iced tea, but other than a passion fruit and jasmine version I concocted a few years ago I’ve not made my own since. I wanted to make some to take on a recent picnic as I thought it would be nice and refreshing in the late summer sun. Considering this only uses three ingredients, I used the very best ones I could: all organic and the tea I used had the wonderfully, British, charming name ‘Georgian Old Gentleman’.
You will need (for around 500ml):
- 3 tsp loose tea leaves
- 3 thick slices of lemon (organic if you can, otherwise you get a faint oiliness on the top of the tea when the wax melts off the lemon rind)
- 2 dsp caster sugar (organic if you can so it’s unrefined for a delicious caramel taste)
Start by making the tea. Put three nice big teaspoons of tea into a pot (or heatproof jug) and add 500ml boiling water. Leave to steep for around five minutes before removing the tea leaves.
I have a snazzy teapot which makes the above stage very easy: I simply remove the middle of the teapot which contains the tea leaves. If you don’t have one of these just strain the tea through a sieve or tea strainer into another jug or teapot.
Add the lemon and leave everything until it has cooled.
Remove the lemon slices then stir in the sugar until it’s dissolved.
Cool in the fridge and then serve over ice. Or, as I did, pour it into a Thermos to keep cool and take it on a picnic.It was as refreshing as I hoped it would be and it had the most fantastic unique twang because of the tea that I had used. Just the ticket to sip while sat on a log enjoying a picnic. I’ll definitely be playing around with different fruits and teas to experiment with lots of different flavours. I can’t believe how ridiculously simple it was to make; why has it taken me so long to make it again? I love that you can add the amount of lemon, tea and sugar that suits you. The recipe above is much less sweet than ready made iced teas that you can by, and that’s how I like it.