Thursday 5 September 2019

Carrot and Cardamom Soup (V)

Carrot and cardamom soup with three olive bread
I've always loved carrot soup! One of the first recipes I ever tried was from a Marks & Spencer's cookbook and it was carrot and coriander soup. This was way back before it became popular and available ready made in every supermarket!  I loved it, and it's been a staple for the family ever since.  But I fancied a change from coriander, and having discovered that I can grind down the wondrous cardamom pods into cardamom powder, I wanted to try carrot soup with cardamom instead. It works so well!


280g carrot, thinly sliced (or you can use ready prepared baton carrots if you prefer)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
500 ml (½ litre) of vegetable stock
30g plant butter or dairy butter
1 tablespoon of flour
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
½ teaspoon of ground bay leaves
1 cup (½ pint) of plant based such as oat milk, or dairy milk
olive oil for frying
pinch of salt


Put olive oil into soup pan and heat up, add onion and carrot and cook until softened, adding cardamom and bay during the cooking. Add half the stock and simmer gently.

In a separate pan melt the butter and add the flour and make a roux, stirring continuously for 1-1½ mins. Don't overcook it or it will burn. Add the rest of the vegetable stock, a spoonful at a time, mixing well to avoid lumps, once it's pourable add it to the soup pan and mix well. Blend using a stick blender or similar.

Add the milk, do a taste test, add a pinch of salt if needed and simmer for another 3-5 minutes to make sure it's hot through. Serve hot with fresh bread.

Serves 3-4


If you use plant based butter and milk this is a great vegetarian soup.

Wednesday 4 September 2019

Late Night Baked Frittata


During one of those late-night mother and son conversations yesterday about how nice the frittata was at the Kendal People's Cafe / PopUp Repair Workshop at the Castle Street Centre in Kendal, the son grinned and said, "frittatas are easy" and promptly vanished into the kitchen to make one.

He normally makes them in a cast iron frying pan on the stove, but this time he wanted to try a baked in the oven version to see how it worked.

Mother was drafted in to help: chopping onion and long red pepper into small pieces ready for a quick softening fry in the pan, and to crack eggs into the bowl without dropping the shell in as well (she failed!)

Son tackled the potatoes - nice fresh redskins that were just washed and sliced thinly, no need to peel them.

The end result was very tasty and proved that, yes, you can make frittata in the oven! Here's how...


800g of potatoes, washed and thinly sliced
9 eggs
1 large onion, finely chopped
½ long red pepper, finely chopped
approx 10cm of Aldi spicy chorizo or equivalent
Olive oil to fry the onion, pepper and chorizo in to start with
A couple of dashes of Cholula Chipotle sauce
Salt and pepper (optional)


Firstly, put the olive oil into a frying pan and shallow fry the onion, pepper and chorizo for around 3 minutes or so, adding the cholula sauce and making sure everything is hot through.

Crack the eggs into a jug or bowl and lightly mix with a fork to break up the yolks.

In a large mixing bowl combine the sliced potatoes and the contents of the frying pan, pour mixture into a large baking dish (ours is approx 28cm x 17cm). Level it down, then pour the eggs over the mixture. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the top (only a little!).

Bake in oven on Gas Mark 4 for 100 minutes (1hr 20mins).  Remove from oven and lightly sprinkle a small amount of black pepper over the surface, cut into portions and serve hot.

Serves 4 as a main course or 8 as a side dish.

Friday 26 July 2019

Scrumpledumptious Herb & Spice Mixes: Italian Seasoning

We use loads of this as it's such a good mixture of herbs for pasta dishes, garlic and herb bread, and much more besides. Make it in a bowl then transfer to an air-tight jar for storage, use as required.

Scrumpledumptious Italian Seasoning


5 tablespoons of oregano
3 tablespoons of basil
2 tablespoons of marjoram
1 tablespoon of ground thyme
1½ tablespoons of garlic powder or garlic granules
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds


Measure all into a bowl and mix well, transfer to an air-tight jar. Shake well before use.

Scrumpledumptious Italian Seasoning

Asparagus, sweet red pepper and spicy chorizo soup

Having picked up some reduced-price asparagus in the supermarket and having not had this vegetable before (other than as instant packet soup) we needed a new way to use it. Asparagus soup is nice, so what if we could enhance it? A bit of experimentation, and this was the result!

Asparagus, sweet red pepper and spicy chorizo soup

130g-150g asparagus spears cut into small pieces (young thin shoots are best but if yours are thicker and older see notes below) *
enough boiling water to cover asparagus in a pan

1 medium sized capsicum/sweet red pepper, finely chopped (orange or yellow will do if you can't find a red one)
1 medium onion, finely chopped
Oil to cover base of small pan/skillet

60g-70g spicy chorizo chopped into small pieces (we use the Aldi one but any make will do)
1 vegetable stock cube
1 teaspoon of Italian Seasoning **
¼ teaspoon of ground Star Anise
pinch of salt
¼ pint of milk (dairy, soya or oat milk all work equally well)
¼ pint of boiling water
1 tablespoon of plain flour
50g butter or margarine


Put the chopped asparagus, the pinch of salt and the stock cube into a big pan and cover with the boiling water and cook for approx 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, fry the capsicum and onion in the small pan or skillet for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chorizo to the asparagus pan along with the onion and capsicum and add the Italian Seasoning and Star Anise. Leave it to simmer gently.

In the small pan or skillet put the butter/margarine and melt over a medium heat. Add the flour and mix to form a roux. Cook for 1-2 minutes to make sure the flour is cooked properly. Add the ¼ pint of boiling water to the roux and stir well to avoid lumps. Continue to heat through stirring all the time, the mixture will thicken to make a thick sauce.

Add the roux mixture to the asparagus pan stirring continuously, add the ¼ pint of milk. The soup liquid should be a thick runny consistency like honey.

Turn off the heat, cover the pan and leave the soup to stand for approx 2 hours.  Or make the day before and leave to stand in the fridge overnight if you prefer.

Reheat after standing, add more hot water to thin the soup if needed. Do a taste test and add a wee bit more salt if needed.

Serve with fresh bread. The loaf in the photo is one of the Co-operative's loaves which we love!


*  For the thicker older asparagus stalks we found that laying them on a plate and popping them into the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes softens them enough for soup making and makes them easier to cut into smaller pieces.

** We now make our own Italian Seasoning but you can buy similar in most supermarkets.

To make this into a vegetarian soup leave out the chorizo and use a vegetarian / vegan stock cube, vegetarian margarine such as Flora 100% plant based spread, and one of the dairy free milks or coconut milk.

Wednesday 12 June 2019

Tipsy on Cheese - hic! (Adventures in Cheese)

Have you ever opened something which says it includes wine or spirit, only to find it smells of the drink but there's no taste of it at all? Isn't it disappointing?!

We picked up a piece of Belton Port Wine Derby and wondered if the same would happen: it didn't!

Unwrapping the beautifully veined cheese from its case, the aroma of port wine was strong enough to make my mouth water. Slicing off a piece I tentatively popped it in my mouth and immediately enjoyed the wonderful sweetness of port and the wine flavour along with the traditional Derby cheese texture. Wow! It was good!  The wine gave the cheese a fruitiness, described by its maker as "real blackcurrant undertones." 

Belton Farm, in Shropshire,  has been a cheese-making farm for more than a century, surely one of the great British cheesemakers! 

"Honestly h'officer, I've h'only been eating cheese... hic!"

PS It's also suitable for vegetarians!

Tuesday 11 June 2019

Fettled in Yorkshire (Adventures in Cheese)

Our latest Adventure in Cheese is Yorkshire Fettle, a superb substitute for Greek Feta in recipes that call for it.  Made by Shepherd's Purse near Thirsk, in North Yorkshire, this is a Mediterranean salad-style cheese, which is made with milk from English ewes and its slightly tart creaminess is perfect with olives, tomatoes and lovely fresh bread.

The Shepherd's Purse website has this to say about Yorkshire Fettle,
This is Yorkshire's version of feta. Made with whole ewes’ milk, we handmake and hand-salt each cheese to encourage the piquant, lemony flavour and slightly crumbly texture. Matured over a minimum of two weeks, the salt infuses the whole cheese. We then hand-wax each truckle to lock in the fresh flavour and creamy texture. Originally called Yorkshire Feta, we renamed it Yorkshire Fettle in 2008 due to Greece being awarded the PDO (Protected Designation of Origin). This was Judy Bell’s very first cheese, produced in 1989. It’s won international awards, and was featured on Paul Hollywood's BBC One cooking program, Pies & Puds.
All I have to add is, it's yummy, try it and see for yourself!

Chocolate Topped Flapjack

You'll know this family loves flapjack by our previous posts, and the boy keeps trying out new ideas... this time it was, "Do you think chocolate covered flapjack would work?" I said, "Try it and see!", so he did, and this is how it came out...

It tasted good too, slightly softer than our usual flapjack, so if you'd like to try it for yourself, here is how he did it...

550g oats
250g block margarine
140g sugar
1 tablespoon of Meridian organic molasses*
4 tablespoons of golden syrup
300g dark cooking chocolate
2 teaspoons of vanilla essence (use an alcohol based type not a syrup based one of the chocolate will seize when melted.)

Put the oats into a large mixing bowl. Prepare an oven proof dish or deep baking tray by greasing and lining it with baking parchment.

Put all the other ingredients into a heavy saucepan and heat until all is melted and starting to bubble. Pour the mixture carefully into the oats (it will be very hot so take care!) and mix thoroughly.
Pour the mixture into the baking dish and put it into the centre of the oven at Gas Mark 4 for 30 - 40 minutes.  When cooked remove from oven and allow to cool.

For the chocolate topping melt the dark chocolate into a bowl or jug, add the vanilla essence, and pour over the cooled flapjack in the baking dish. Leave to set before removing the flapjack from the baking dish. Cut into squares with a warm knife (it will cut easier if it's warm!)


*Meridian organic molasses can be found in ASDA, Holland & Barrett, and in other healthfood shops. Other supermarkets may have them too but we buy ours from the fabulous Waterside Cafe in Kendal.

Monday 10 June 2019

Truffly cheese: Villa Truffo (Adventures in Cheese)

If you love cheese and you love truffles, this is the cheese for you!

Treur'Villa Truffo is a delicious creamy Dutch farmhouse cheese made with unpasteurised milk and traditional rennet, with the addition of  Black Italian Truffles. Known as Truffle Gouda, it is ripened on wooden planks for only 8 weeks, and comes sealed in a black wax coating.  It is perfect with rosemary crackers or fresh bread. Mmmm!

Villa Truffo won two Gold Stars at the 2013 Great Taste Awards. The Judge's comment was: "A special
farmhouse cheese with a beautiful look and a nice creamy texture. The aroma of truffle is amazing!"

Thursday 24 January 2019

Leftover Mash Frittata (V)

We had some leftover mashed potatoes and didn't fancy potato cakes, so how to use them up?  The Son disappeared into the kitchen, followed by lots of rattling and clinking noises, and reappeared half an hour later with a plate, a fork, and the instructions to "try this Mum", so I did and it was very tasty!

This is how he made it:

Leftover Mash Frittata


4 medium eggs
1 cup leftover mashed potato (you can also use instant mash instead)
4 green olives mashed
1 cm salami cut into small cubes (optional)
2 green chillies - remove any stalk and finely mash with seeds

Put all ingredients except eggs into a bowl and mix well. Crack eggs into same bowl and mix well.  Put a little olive oil into an omelette or frying pan to prevent sticking. Pour in egg/mash mixture when pan is very hot. Cook on low heat for 20-30 minutes. Serves 2-4.

If you leave out the salami it is a vegetarian frittata.

Wednesday 23 January 2019

Salmon and Courgette Rice

Another of our experimental recipes, this was very tasty, and by not over-cooking the vegetables they don't go soggy. The secret is to cook them quickly in very hot oil to retain their crispness and individual flavours.

Salmon and Courgette Rice  Serves up to 4


1 cup (250g) Arborio or Risotto rice
1 medium sized courgette, sliced
1 stick celery, sliced into small pieces
4 round radishes
1 red  Jalapeño or Anaheim pepper, sliced in to rings (discard seeds if you don't like it too hot)
1 cup sliced fresh or frozen green beans
1 small onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 green OXO cube
6 black olives, halved
1 small salmon steak
1 sachet of Oyster and Spring onion sauce (Aldi or Blue Dragon)
Boiling water as needed for stock
A little olive oil for the wok / frying pan to prevent sticking

All in one pan method: 
Put oil into wok and heat quickly, add onion, garlic, pepper and green beans and cook for 2-3 minutes, add olives, cougette, radishes  and celery and cook for further 2 minutes, add rice and sufficient water to cover rice plus the OXO cube, cook for 10 minutes or until the rice has absorbed most of the liquid. Make sure it doesn't start to stick. (Tip: don't over-stir the rice, it tends to start to break down and go very starchy if you do.) Once the rice is cooked mix in the oyster and spring onion sauce (rinse sachet out with a little boiling water) and flake in the salmon steak (Tip: pop the steak into a bowl and break it up with a fork until it makes small pieces.)  Once salmon and sauce is heated through serve in bowls. Enjoy!

Two-pan method:
If you don't have a large enough wok to cook this as we did above you can steam or boil the rice in a separate pan, cook everything else as above, and then combine the rice at the end. Alternatively, you can serve it so the rice forms a bed on which the salmon and courgette mix sits. Whichever suits you best - it's not cast in stone!