Thursday, 11 October 2018

Meatballs with Rioja Sauce

Meatballs with Rioja Sauce
An absolutely scrumptious meatball dish, perfect for any occasion.  This dish is best served with crusty bread or your favourite pasta and of course a large glass of Rioja!

Serves 4
Prep time:  20 minutes
Cooking time:  45 minutes

For the meatballs
500g lean beef mince
1 onion, very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
50g black olives, stoned and chopped
50g breadcrumbs
25g manchego cheese, grated
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 long chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
2-3 tbsp parsley, chopped
Freshly ground salt & pepper

For the sauce
1 tbsp olive oil
250ml Beronia Crianza Rioja
2 x 400g chopped tomatoes
2 tsp caster sugar

To serve
Crusty Bread
Rigatoni, Penne or Spaghetti Pasta cooked as per packet instructions
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Manchego cheese, shavings


1.  Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C/425°F/Gas 7.

2.  To make the meatballs, place all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix with your hands.  Divide the mixture into about 20 balls.

3.  Place the meatballs into a large roasting tin and toss in the olive oil.  Bake in the oven for 10 minutes and then pour the Rioja over the meatballs making sure to turn the meatballs so that they are fully coated in the wine.

4.  Place back in the oven for a further 10 minutes and the add the tomatoes and sugar.  Return to the oven for 25 minutes until the sauce has thickened.  Season to taste.

5.  Serve with bread or pasta, manchego, parsley and of course a large glass of Rioja - Delicious!

Wednesday, 10 October 2018

The Ultimate Banoffee Pie

The Ultimate Banoffee Pie
With the fantastic combination of banana, dulce de leche and chocolate oaty biscuits this banoffee pie is hard to beat!  Truly delicious and very easy to make!!

Serves 16
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Chilling time: 2 hours


400g dark chocolate oat biscuits (I used dark chocolate hobnobs)
100g butter, melted
4 overripe bananas, sliced
450g jar of Dulce de Leche
500ml double cream
50g milk chocolate, melted


1.          To make the biscuit base, whizz the biscuits in a food processor.  Add the melted butter and whizz again and then tip the buttery crumbs into a 25cm fluted tart tin.  Use the back of a spoon the biscuit into the tin and up the sides until the whole case is lined.  Chill the base in the fridge for at least 15 minutes.
2.          Now line the biscuit base evenly with sliced bananas and then tip nearly all of the Dulce de Leche (leaving some left for the topping).  Spread the caramel over the banana layer and place back in the fridge for at least one hour.
3.          For the topping whisk the cream until it just holds its shape and then top the tart.  Now drizzle over the melted chocolate and remaining Dulce de Leche, gently mix through with a fork to create a ripple effect and serve.  Enjoy!

·         Dulce de leche is a traditional Latin American jam made from milk and sugar. It is gluten free, palm oil free and has 30% less calories than other cocoa spreads. It is perfect to enjoy with fruit, waffles, crepes, puddings, toast, yogurt and all kinds of desserts.
·         Dulce De Leche Márdel is available at Sainsburys.

For further information: 

Sunday, 30 September 2018

The Ultimate Lasagne with Extra Mature Cheddar Sauce

The Ultimate Lasagne with Extra Mature Cheddar Sauce
Delicious - what more can I say!

Serves 6
Prep time: 45 minutes
Cooking time:  50-60 minutes

For the tomato sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed
Pinch of caster sugar
1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves only, chopped
1 bay leaf
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper

For the meat sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 shallots, peeled & finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled & finely chopped
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
500g lean minced beef
1 sprig fresh thyme, stalks removed
2 bay leaves
5 basil leaves, torn
375ml red wine, Chianti or merlot
Pinch of caster sugar
2 tsp tomato puree

For the cheese sauce:
600ml milk
1 bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
Slice of onion
60g butter
60g plain flour
2 tsp Dijon Mustard
200g Pilgrims Choice Extra Mature Cheddar cheese, grated
Salt & pepper

12 pre-cooked lasagne sheets
75g Pilgrims Choice Extra Mature Cheddar cheese, grated

Preparation method

1.  To make the tomato sauce, heat the oil in a pan and add the tomatoes and garlic for 3-4 minutes.  Now add the sugar, thyme, bay leaf and seasoning. Cook over a gentle heat for 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes have reduced.

2.  For the meat sauce, heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the shallots, carrots and celery for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.  Add the mince and cook for 5-8 minutes until the meat is browned.  Add the thyme, bay leaves, basil and red wine.  Reduce slowly over a gentle heat until thick.  Season to taste, and add the sugar to taste, now stir in the tomato puree and take out the bay leaves.

3.  To make the cheese sauce, pour the milk into a saucepan and add the bay leaf peppercorns and onion.  Heat gently to just below boiling point, then remove from the heat, cover and allow to infuse for 10 minutes.  Strain the milk into a jug.  In a separate pan melt the butter and sprinkle in the flour and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Remove from the heat and gradually stir in the warm milk.  Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring.  Cook, stirring until thickened and smooth.  Stir in the mustard and cheese, then season to taste with salt and pepper.

4.  Remove the bay leaf from the tomato sauce and combine this with the meat sauce.  Combine the meat sauce with a quarter of the cheese sauce.

5.  Preheat the oven to 160°C/140°C/Gas mark 3.

6.  To assemble the lasagne, grease an oven proof dish, spread a spoonful of meat sauce over the base of the dish. Add a layer of lasagne sheets and top with one third of the meat sauce, then drizzle over some cheese sauce.  Repeat this and top with a final layer of lasagne sheets and cover with the cheese sauce.  Sprinkle over the cheese and place in the oven for 35-45 minutes until golden brown.

Thursday, 27 September 2018

Chicken & Chorizo Pie

Chicken & Chorizo Pie
One of my all-time favourites, a truly delicious & flavoursome pie – comfort food at its best!

Serves 4-6
Prep time:  15 minutes (plus cooling time)
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

50g butter
1 onion, peeled & finely chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled & finely chopped
250g chestnut mushrooms, halved
6 skinless & boneless chicken thighs, cut into bite sized pieces
200g chorizo, sliced and halved
50g plain flour
200ml chicken stock
150ml white wine
150ml double cream
Small handful fresh parsley, chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground pepper
375g ready-rolled short crust pastry
375g ready rolled puff pastry
1 egg beaten

To serve
Seasonal vegetables


1.    For the filling, melt the butter in a large frying pan on a medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and mushrooms – fry for 5 minutes until lightly browned.
2.    Season the chicken and add to the pan with the chorizo and cook everything for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.
3.    Stir in the flour to the chicken mixture then gradually add the stock and bring to a simmer.  Cook for 2 minutes until the sauce is smooth and thick then pour in the wine and cream.  Bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer for 15 minutes.  Season generously and sprinkle with parsley.  Remove from the heat, cover and allow to cool.
4.    Preheat the oven to 190°C/Fan assisted 170°C/Gas mark 5.
5.    Roll out the short crust pastry to 4mm thick and line a 1.2 litre pie dish, leave the excess pastry hanging over the edge.  Spoon the cooled chicken mixture into the dish and brush the edge of the pastry with the beaten egg.
6.    Roll out the puff pastry to 4mm thick and large enough to cover the pie.  Place the pastry over the pie and press the edges firmly together to seal and trim neatly.  Brush the top of the pastry with the beaten egg.  Decorate with trimmings and brush with more egg to glaze.  
7.    Bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes until the pastry has puffed and is golden brown.  Serve with seasonal vegetables.  Enjoy!

Monday, 24 September 2018

Stir-Fried Beef Noodles with Black Bean Garlic Sauce

Stir-Fried Beef Noodles with Black Bean Garlic Sauce
This is an incredibly tasty, healthy and easy stir-fry that can be made in minutes - a delicious mid-week meal. 
Lee Kum Kee’s Black Bean Garlic Stir-Fry sauce makes this dish!

Serves 2
Prep time:  5-7 minutes
Cooking time:  5-7 minutes

250g lean beef steak, cut into thin strips
1 garlic clove, peeled & crushed
½ tbsp fresh root ginger, peeled and finely grated
1 tbsp Lee Kum Kee Premium Dark Soy Sauce
Toasted Sesame oil
Freshly ground salt & pepper
1 tbsp vegetable oil
½ red pepper, deseeded & cut into thin strips
3 spring onions, sliced
100g bean sprout & stir fry vegetable mix
150g medium egg noodles
Lee Kum Kee Black Bean Garlic Stir-fry Sauce


1. Bring a pan of salted water to the boil for the noodles.
2. Place the thinly sliced steak into a bowl and toss with 1 tablespoon of soy sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Crush in the garlic, add the grated ginger and mix well. Leave to marinade for a few minutes while you prepare the rest of the vegetables.
3. Heat a wok or a large frying pan until hot then add 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, and a touch of sesame oil, swirling the wok to coat the surface evenly. Add the beef strips and stir-fry for a couple of minutes until nicely browned.
4. Now add the red pepper and spring onions and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the bean sprouts for the last 30 seconds.
5. Blanch the noodles in the boiling water for about 3-4 minutes, until tender but still retaining a slight bite, then drain and immediately toss with the beef and vegetables.  Now add the Black Bean Garlic sauce and stir until warmed through.
6. Divide between bowls and serve, enjoy!

Why takeaway when you can fakeaway
We’re a time-strapped nation in need of quick and tasty meal ideas. Leading Chinese sauce company, Lee Kum Kee, has the answer in the form of a new collection of stir-fry sauces - so you can make a delicious dinner in a dash.
The stir-fry has long been a quick mid-week favourite and these little packets of joy can be paired perfectly with a variety of ingredients including: chicken, tofu, prawns and vegetables – giving you a tasty meal in minutes.

The stir-fry sauces include classic and regional Chinese flavour options like Black Bean Garlic and Kung Pao Chicken as well as flavoursome favourites Tomato & Garlic and Honey & Soy, providing an authentic taste of the East. The sauces provide inspiration in a packet - giving you a quicker, healthier and more wallet-friendly option than ordering a takeaway.

Not only is Lee Kum Kee the most used sauce brand in Hong Kong households but it also has over 130 years’ experience in sauce making. All Lee Kum Kee products are made to the highest quality, using only the best ingredients and with careful attention to detail at every stage of production. So we say kick back, reclaim your evenings and enjoy a Chinese dinner where there’s maximum flavour and minimum fuss. 

The stir-fry sauces are available from September in Tesco, Asda and Ocado RRP 85p.


For further information 

Monday, 10 September 2018

Thai Fishcakes with Cucumber Dipping Sauce

Thai Fishcakes with Cucumber Dipping Sauce
Hot, spicy and wonderfully moreish - these delicious fish cakes make a fabulous first course, especially if the rest of the meal has a spicy theme.

Makes 6-8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes


For the curry paste:
4-6 green chillies, de-seeded and roughly chopped
2 shallots, roughly chopped
5cm/2in of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Small bunch of fresh coriander
2 lemongrass stalks, chopped
1 lime, grated zest & juice
8 kaffir leaves, torn into pieces
1 tbsp coriander seeds, crushed
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp black peppercorns, crushed
2 tsp Thai fish sauce or light soy sauce
3 tbsp olive oil

For the fish cakes:
2 tbsp Thai Green Curry Paste
1 free range egg
300g white fish, skin removed, cut into chunks
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp cornflour
3 kaffir lime leaves, thinly sliced
1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped
10 green beans, finely chopped
Flour, for dusting
Vegetable oil for deep frying

For the Dipping Sauce:
60ml water
75ml rice vinegar
50g sugar
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
4 shallots, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger
Watercress, to serve


1.    To make the curry paste, Place all the ingredients into a food processor and blitz to a paste.  You can use the paste straight away or store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 weeks.
2.    For the dipping sauce, put the water, vinegar and sugar into a pan and place over a medium heat, bring to the boil.  Stir until the sugar had dissolved, remove from the heat and allow to cool.
3.    When cool add the garlic, cucumber, shallots and ginger.  Mix together then pour into a serving bowl.
4.    Put 2 tbsp of curry paste, egg and fish into a food processor and pulse until smooth.  Place the fish mixture into a bowl and mix in the fish sauce, sugar, cornflour, lime leaves, coriander and green beans. 
5.    Mould the mixture into fish cakes (approx 7.5cm/3in in diameter) with floured hands, you should be able to make 6-8.
6.    Half fill a deep heavy based pan with the oil, test the oil is ready by dropping in a breadcrumb – it is ready when it sizzles and turns brown.  Add the fishcakes in batches and fry for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden brown.  Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
7.    To serve, place the watercress on a large serving plate and top with the fishcakes.  Serve the dipping sauce alongside.

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Chilli Con Carne

Chilli Con Carne
There are so many variations of Chilli Con Carne but this has to be one of the BEST!  It takes a while to make so pour yourself a glass of red... the wait is most definitely worth it!

Serves 4
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 2 ½ hours


For the Braised Mince
1½ tbsp vegetable oil
2 small onions, peeled, chopped
3 garlic cloves, peeled, chopped
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary
500g beef mince
200g canned chopped tomatoes
½ tbsp Worcestershire sauce
500ml beef stock

For the chilli con carne
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 onion, peeled, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp smoked paprika
350ml red wine
1 x 400g can of chopped tomatoes
splash of Worcestershire sauce
2 red chillies, finely chopped
Braised mince (see above)
250g mushrooms, thickly sliced
1 x 400g can red kidney beans, rinsed, drained
250ml beef stock

To serve
300g long-grain rice, cooked according to packet instructions, drained
4 warmed tortilla wraps
1 x 150ml pot soured cream
100g mature cheddar, grated
Small bunch fresh coriander, finely chopped


1.      To make the braised mince, heat half of the vegetable oil in a large pan over a high heat.  Add the onions, garlic and herbs and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and golden-brown. Turn off the heat and set the pan aside.
2.         Heat the remaining oil in a separate pan over a medium heat. Add a third of the beef mince and fry for 4-5 minutes, or until browned.
3.          Transfer the browned mince to the pan containing the onions, garlic and herbs.
4.          Repeat the process twice more, overloading the pan will not speed things up because the pan will lose heat, so take your time.
5.          Return the pan containing the cooked mince and vegetables to a medium heat. Add the canned tomatoes and Worcestershire sauce and stir the mixture well to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
6.          Add the stock to the beef and tomatoes mixture and bring to a simmer. Simmer for one hour, uncovered, or until the volume of liquid has reduced slightly and the sauce has thickened. Set aside to cool. Now pour yourself a glass of red and prepare the ingredients for the Chilli Con Carne.
7.          For the chilli con carne, heat the oil in a large heavy-based pan over a medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and fry for 3-4 minutes, or until softened and slightly browned.
8.          Stir in all the ground spices until they coat the onions and garlic, then pour in the red wine and bring the mixture to a simmer, stirring occasionally.  Simmer for 6-8 minutes, or until the volume of liquid has reduced by half.
9.          Add the chopped tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce and chopped red chillies and continue to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened slightly.
10.       Add the braised mince, mushrooms, kidney beans and beef stock, stir well, then simmer over a low heat, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the sauce has thickened and the flavours have intensified.
11.       To serve, divide the rice equally among four serving plates. Spoon over the chilli con carne. Place one tortilla alongside each serving. Place the soured cream and cheese into small bowls and serve alongside.