A place where I spread the word if it needs spreading and give away my trade secrets on request!
Pottage or what remains of it here is a stove-top stew that would have been eaten by the majority of people in the Britain and Northern Europe for centuries. It is the ultimate one pot meal that would have kept going all week. Traditionally it would have made use of what was obtainable at the time and would have been added to as the week went on. If there was any meat available, most likely a rabbit, this would have been chucked in too. The recipe here aims to keep within those past traditions, potatoes didn't arrive into Europe until the latter part of the 16th Century.
Ingredients (serves 10-20)
A knob of butter/Or 2 tbs of oil to keep it vegan.
1-2 large onions
2 celery sticks
4 large carrots
1 swede (or 2-3 turnips)
1/2 a cup of porridge oats
A few sprigs of wild garlic
A handful of fresh mixed herbs, sage, thyme, rosemary or whatever is available.
Heat the butter/oil in a large stock pot/Dutch oven over a low-medium flame.
Once the oil is warm, add the sliced/diced onions, leeks and celery to the pot and stir before covering over with the lid to soften for approx ten minutes.
Then add the chopped root vegetables, stir and leave for a few minutes to soften and take on the flavour of the onions and leeks.
Add at least enough water to cover the vegetables, more if you want to thin it out and make it go further, increase the heat and bring to the boil.
Then reduce the heat so it is just simmering and add the oats to thicken and herbs for flavour. Top up with more water if necessary.
Leave to simmer for about an hour, then taste!
4 peeled, cored and sliced firm dessert apples.
50g salted butter
1 tbs corn flour
60g dark soft brown sugar
2 tsp of cinnamon or mixed spices of your choice.
I was asked to cook up some of the lovely apples at Brogdale Collection's National Apple Festival in Faversham. I had a few initial ideas, then decided to get a few fresh tasty apples, caramelise in a pan over open fire and serve with a fresh flat bread. These turned out to be a real winner over the weekend. It is a simple dessert that I will definitely be cooking up again!
Please note: When I cook this, I add the ingredients by sight, so the measurements are just approximations!
1. Heat a large deep based saucepan or pan over a medium heat, before adding the butter to slowly melt.
2. Once the butter has melted, pour in the peeled and cored apples to soften and cook, stirring and turning occasionally.
3. While the apples are cooking, mix the cornflour with the water.
4. After 8-10 minutes of cooking the apples should have softened, but still hold their shape, pour in enough of the cornflour mix to just cover the base of the pan before adding the sugar and spice.
5. Mix everything together in the pan until the sugar/cornflour mix start to thicken and caramelise, producing a sweet treacle-like texture.
6. Remove from the heat and serve, with a fresh flatbread or in a bowl with custard!
Easy Chinese Stir Fry
This is the first of three recipes, I was asked to cook at a local primary school with their younger children- some as young as four! I wanted them to do as much of the work possible, and then to enjoy eating it. This is essentially a simple vegetable stir-fry using vegetables and flavours that the children should recognise and can be done in less than 30 minutes, depending on how fast your children work!
1 Pack of dried noodles
For the sauce
Juice of 1 lemon
1 white cabbage
5-6 spring onions
2 garlic cloves
100g green beans
150g mushrooms (oyster or shiitake work well)
1 packet of beanshoots
1.First boil some water to re-hydrate the noodles, tend to do this over the fire as it heats up the dutch oven, otherwise a kettle will do! Place the noodles in a suitable bowl or pan then pour the boiling water over so it just covers them. Leave.
2. Now make the sauce.
In small bowl or jug, squirt/ squeeze an equal amount of honey and ketchup, followed by a couple of generous splashes of Soy Sauce, add the lemon juice before whisking this all together to make your stir-fry sauce!
3.Grate the carrots and cabbage, crush the garlic, slice the mushrooms (if large), and cut the onions and beans into 1 cm long pieces (scissors work really well for little hands doing this!
4. Check on the noodles, they should now be fully re-hydrated and taken up a lot of the water.
Drain and put to one side.
5. Heat the oil in the Dutch oven if outside, otherwise a deep frying pan or wok will do.
6. Once the oil is hot, fry the chopped vegetables and bean shoots, stirring for no more than 2-3 minutes.
7. Add the sauce and stir for another minute covering the veg.
8. Finally add the noodles into the pan again stirring to soak up the sauce and flavour.
Pour straight into bowls and enjoy!
Mexican chilli with flatbreads
Ingredients (serves 4)
For the flatbread (makes about 8)
500g minced beef (or alternative)
1tsp of chilli powder
1 can of red kidney beans
1 lettuce or 2-3 little gem type
1 bunch of spring onions
1 tub of creme fraiche
This is a dead simple meal that I first cooked up with some primary pupils studying Mexico as a topic.
It's my take on beef chilli (although other meat and vegetarian alternatives could be used) It is quick to make and provides a fantastic flavoursome meal that people of any age can cook to fill hungry mouths.
You can buy wraps, but it is dead easy to make your own just using a bit of plain flour and water, while outside you can then cook the flatbread on the embers of the fire too!
Please note that, like the meat, beans can be substituted for what you have in stock, haricot, cannelloni, borlotti or even fresh broad beans work well too!
1. First of all make the flatbread dough by mixing the flour and water together, firstly by spoon, then by hand forming a smooth round dough.
Knead briefly and cover in the bowl with a damp cloth.
2. If cooking outside make sure the Dutch oven is hot by pouring a dash of oil into the pan, otherwise do the same for a large casserole pan or wok.
3. Brown the mince meat off, using its own fat to cook it, stirring thoroughly, breaking up any clumps of meat that stick together.
4. Once the meat is browned off pour in the passata, and then pour a little water into the bottle or carton to rinse out any remaining bits to add to the pan.
5. Add as much or little chilli powder as you like to the pan, again stir to mix, before leaving to simmer for 10 minutes or so.
6. Once the mix has started to thicken up, drain the beans and add them too the mixture, again stirring thoroughly. Leave to simmer.
7. Meanwhile, divide the dough into about 8 balls slightly bigger than a golf ball, before stretching or rolling- the thinner the better!
8. To cook the flat breads either put them on a bed of hot embers, or a very hot skillet or large frying pan, they should take 20-30 seconds to cook, turning half way through
9..Finally spoon the chilli on to the flat breads and top with spring onions, lettuce and creme fraiche- with extra chilli powder if needed!
Apple and Pea soup
Ingredients (serves 4-6)
6 apples peeled ,cored and chopped
(dessert or cooking)
50g salted butter
500g frozen peas
750ml vegetable stock
A few leaves of fresh mint, chopped..
I first tried Apple and Pea soup while on holiday in South West Scotland, and while it is not a flavour we would usually find on the supermarket shelves, this sweet, fresh soup really does work!
Living in the Garden of England (Kent) and having the opportunity to work with the finest apples grown at Brogdale, this was the perfect recipe to cook during their Heritage Orchard Walk days. A few people asked for the recipe, so here it is!
1. Heat a large stock pot or Dutch oven and melt the butter on a medium heat before adding the onions to soften.
2. Then add the apples to the pan and mix with the onions and melted butter.
3.Now add the frozen peas before pouring in the vegetable stock and half of the mint.
4. Bring to a boil before leaving to simmer for 30 minutes.
5. Blend with a stick blender before serving with a garnish of mint