Pork meatballs

Enough for 4 people. I froze half of mine for a later meal.

  • 1 large slice of stale bread;Pork_meatballs
  • 1 large portobello mushroom;
  • 1 medium sized onion;
  • 1 clove garlic;
  • 1 small red chilli deseeded;
  • Small bunch of mixed herbs (eg parsley, rosemary & thyme);
  • 500g pork mince;
  • 1 tbsp tomato ketchup;
  • 3 ‘shakes’ of Worcester Sauce;
  • Black pepper;
  • 3 tsp tahini;
  • Oil;
  • Plain flour.

Finely chop the bread, mushroom, onion, garlic, chilli and herbs (I used my Cuisinart Mini-Processor).

Thoroughly mix the chopped ingredients with the pork in a large bowl. Mix in the ketchup, Worcester Sauce and black pepper.

In small bowl, gradually combine a small quantity of cold water with the tahini, until it becomes slightly runny. Thoroughly mix this into the pork mixture.

Using a plate of flour, take ping-pong ball sized piece of the mixture in your floured hands, and roll in the flour until ball shaped. Place on a flour tray. I made made 24 meatballs from this mixture.

Oil a baking sheet and place the balls on it, brushing or spraying them with more oil.

Bake at 200C (Gas Mark 6) for about 20 minutes, until they begin to brown.

I served twelve of my meatballs in a pasta bake, made with penne (3 ‘handfuls’ of dried penne (cooked)), 1 quantity of Tomato Sauce, topped with grated cheddar, and cooked in the oven for 20 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4). This will feed 2-3 people.


Green lentil stew


I made a large batch of this, which provided:

  • 1 portion with added kale (cooked for 3 minutes in the stew);
  • 2 portions of pancakes (with 4 large pancakes, bechamel sauce, and grated parmesan; baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4);
  • 2 portions of ‘shepherds’ pie (with mashed potato); baked for about 25 minutes at 180C (Gas Mark 4).


  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 large onion (chopped)
  • 1 large carrot (chopped)
  • 2 sticks celery (chopped)
  • 1 red pepper (cored, deseeded and chopped)
  • 150g mushrooms (chopped)
  • 2 cloves garlic (crushed)
  • A large pinch of dried oregano
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 120g green lentils
  • 400ml vegi-stock
  • Black pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan. Stir in the onion, carrot, celery and red pepper, and cook gently for 10 minutes. Turn up the heat, and stir in the mushrooms and garlic, and stir-cook for two minutes.

Stir in the oregano, tomatoes, lentils and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for about 40 minutes, until the lentils are cooked. Season with black pepper to taste.

If not all used immediately, allow to cool and store in the fridge (using within the next few days).

Mushroom and chick pea curry


This recipe is adapted from one which first appeared in Waitrose’s Kitchen magazine in March 2014. Enough for 2:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 200g closed mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 onion (chopped)
  • 2 tbsp curry powder (exact amount depends on its strength)
  • 400g tin of chick peas (drained)
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp mango chutney
  • A little fresh coriander

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large pan and fry the mushrooms for 1-2 minutes until just cooked. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

Turn down the heat and add the remaining oil.  Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes. Stir in the curry powder and
cook for 1 minute.

Stir in the chick peas and tomatoes, cover and simmer for 15 minutes.

Stir in the mango chutney and reserved mushrooms, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

I served mine sprinkled with torn coriander leaves, together with brown rice and some green beans.


Tarka dhal

I had some mushrooms, kale and half a can of chopped tomatoes in the fridge, so I made this warming, satisfying dhal. The recipe is based on one from My Goodness by Liz Nolan. Serves 2:


  • 175g yellow split peas
  • 475ml water
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 70g mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 small onion (finely chopped)
  • 2cm cube of fresh ginger (grated)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • A large pinch of chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp garam masala (ground)
  • 200g tinned chopped tomatoes (1/2 large can)
  • 90g chopped kale (washed and the stems removed)

Soak the split peas in cold water for 8 hours (or overnight).

Drain the split peas and put into a medium-sized saucepan with 400ml of water. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 40 minutes or until the split peas are cooked. Set aside in the cooking water.

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a large saucepan and stir-fry the mushrooms for 3 minutes. Transfer to a dish and set aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in the saucepan, add the onions and cook gently for 5 minutes. Then stir in the ginger, garlic, cumin, chilli, turmeric, coriander and garam masala. Cook for a further 2 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and 75 ml of water. Bring to the boil, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Add the split peas and the mushrooms. Bring to the boil, and cook for a further 5 minutes.

Add the kale. Bring to the boil, and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add more water if the dhal is too thick.

Serve with naans.

Moroccan mushrooms with couscous

This is based on a recipe I found on the BBC GoodFood website. Enough for 2:


  • Oil
  • 150g mushrooms (quartered)
  • 1 small onion (thinly sliced)
  • 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/crushed)
  • 1/3 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2/3 tsp ground cumin
  • A pinch of chilli flakes
  • ½ 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • ½ 410g tin chickpeas (drained)
  • 1 tsp clear honey
  • 90g couscous
  • ½ tsp harissa
  • 3 soft dried apricots (diced)
  • 20 raisins
  • 1 tbsp pine nuts
  • 130ml boiling water
  • Flat parsley (roughly chopped)

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a saucepan. Add the mushrooms and stir constantly over a high heat until they start to soften. Set aside.

Heat a 1 tbsp oil in another saucepan. Gently cook the onion 5 minutes. Stir in the garlic, cinnamon, cumin and chilli flakes, and cook for 1 min. Then stir in the tomatoes, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix ½ tbsp. of oil and the harissa and stir into the couscous (in a bowl). Stir in the dried apricots, raisins and pin nuts. Pour over the boiling water, stir and then cover. Leave to stand for 7 minutes or until the liquid has been absorbed.

When the tomato mixture has simmered for 15 minutes, stir in the mushrooms, the chickpeas and honey. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.

To serve, fluff up the couscous with a fork, and serve with the mushroom mixture, scattered with parsley.

I served this with some green beans.


Pizza – make it crisp!


I quite often make pizza, but I was getting fed up with the crust being soggy in the middle. I wanted to replicate the effect of putting a pizza onto a shelf in one of those very hot ovens you get in places like Pizza Express or Zizzi’s. So I decided to try laying the pizza on pieces of backing parchment and then placing the pizza (on the baking parchment) on top of an already very hot baking sheet.

Makes 2 25cm pizzas:

  • 100ml milk
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried active yeast
  • 250g strong white flour
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • A little luke warm water
  • 200ml tomato sauce
  • 5 chestnut mushrooms (thinly sliced)
  • 1/2 large green pepper (cored, deseeded and sliced)
  • 125g mozzarella ball (cut into small cubes)
  • 12 black olives (stoned and halved)

Heat the milk (in a measuring jug in the microwave) to blood heat (c. 37C – or when you put your finger in it and it’s neither hot nor cold). About 350W for 10 seconds may achieve this, but it’s a bit hit and miss, and depends on the starting temperature for the milk. If it’s too hot allow to cool for a bit to avoid killing the yeast.

Stir the sugar into the milk and then sprinkle the yeast on top and stir. Leave covered in a warm place (eg airing cupboard) for about 15 minutes.

Sift the flour into a large bowl. Warm this up a bit (say microwave at 350W for 10 seconds). Mix the olive oil with the yeasty milk and mix in with the flour (use your hands). Wipe the dough round the edge of the bowl to incorporate all the flour.  You want quite a dry dough, but not too dry (ie you don’t want it to crack), so if it’s too dry add a little luke warm water (if you add too much you can always add some more flour). Take the dough out of the bowl and place on a floured surface. Knead until the dough is smooth (demo video here – although this small quantity will not require kneading for 10 minutes!).

Place the dough ball back in the bowl, cover (I find those charity clothes collection bags really useful here!) and place somewhere warm. You don’t need to use an airing cupboard, the dough will rise at any reasonable room temperature, but it will take longer. In an airing cupboard the dough should be ready within an hour.

When the dough has risen. Divide in to two balls. Flatten them out, and roll each on a floured surface until they are the size and shape of a large plate. Transfer to sheets of baking parchment.

Set the oven as hot as it will go (mine does 260C (Gas Mark 9)). Place two metal baking sheets on the oven shelves.

Smear tomato sauce generously on each pizza. Arrange the sliced mushroom and pepper on top, and then sprinkle with cheese and olives.

Leave for about 15 minutes, and then place each of the pieces of baking parchment (with the pizza on them) on top of a very hot baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200C (Gas Mark 6) and cook for a further 8 minutes (or until the cheese is just starting to brown). Enjoy!



Beef casserole


This is good on an autumn/winter day. Enough for 2-3 but could be padded out with more mashed potato.

  • 2 tbsp oil or fat (I used some fat that remained after grilling some bacon)
  • 400g beef shin (I bought some on special offer at Waitrose together with slices of marrow bone), cut in to pieces about 2cm square
  • 1 large onion (roughly sliced)
  • 1 large carrot (cut into 3cm lengths, halved/quartered lengthways where necessary)
  • 1 large parsnip (cut into 3cm lengths, halved/quartered lengthways where necessary)
  • 1 stick celery (sliced into 2cm lengths)
  • 1 leek (the white part sliced into 2cm lengths) – I saved the green bits to cook with a bacon joint later in the week
  • 1 portabello mushroom (or 3 smaller mushrooms) diced
  • A few tomatoes, skinned and chopped (I found some late ripening ones in the garden) or 2 tspn tomato purée
  • 1/2 beef stock cube
  • Bouquet garni (a few sprigs of parsley and thyme, tied up with a clove of garlic and two bay leaves) or a pinch or 2 of mixed herbs
  • Black pepper to taste
  • Hot water
  • Chopped parsley (optional)

Heat the oil in a large thick bottomed pan. When smoking add the meat pieces (I also added the bone slices at this point). Stir until browned. Remove onto a plate. Add the onion, carrot, parsnip, celery and leek. Stir well and turn down the heat and allow to ‘sweat’ for about 5 minutes.

Add the mushroom and tomatoes and stir well. Return the meat to the pan. Add the crumbled stock cube (and the mixed herbs (if using)), and black pepper, and add sufficient hot water to just cover the contents of the pan. Stir well. If using the bouquet garni place it in the middle of the meat/vegetable mixture. Bring to the boil and simmer very gently for 2.5 to 3 hours (or use a slow cooker).

Remove the bouquet garni (if using). Check seasoning, and serve with mashed potato and chopped parsley (optional).