Recipe: Watermelon cooler


It’s been a beautiful day here and when we got back after Woodcraft Folk I decided I needed to use the aging watermelon to make a cocktail.

3 measures vodka
1 measure sugar syrup
Half a watermelon, thoroughly muddled.

Mix these in a cocktail shaker (I was given one as a present for my 30th birthday) over a fair amount of ice.  Strain into glasses over ice if you don’t have pink elephants. Top up with either sparkling elderflower (me) or tonic water (the other half). Drink slowly while watching Nashville.

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Recipe: Peach Cobbler

Really, a cobbler is for later on in the summer, when the fruit is getting a bit old and past it, not now when they are just starting to appear in the shops.  But I foolishly left the peaches in a bag with potatoes so by the time we were home they were only good for cooking.  I read a Jamie Oliver recipe on his website, but it ended up quite different, so let’s call it inspired by Jamie

If eldest asks, this didn’t have any alcohol in them.

Peach Cobbler

Some bruised peaches – 8 or so.

Vanilla sugar (ordinary sugar will be fine, but I have vanilla sugar in our larder so used it)

White port – a good glug.

50g ground almond

100g self raising flour

50g sugar

100g cold block margarine


Put the chopped fruit, sugar and alcohol in a pan and cook it for about 10 minutes – just long enough to warm the fruit through and soften it (the port helps with that.)

Turn the oven on at 190C.

Mix the ground almonds, flour and sugar together, chop the block marg into the mixture and rub them together gently with your fingers as though you were making pastry.  You’ll probably find it pretty sticky, thanks to the almonds, but you will need to add a tiny amount of water it turn it fully into a dough.

Then put the fruit in a dish and spread the dough on top – it is too sticky to roll, so I flattened it with my hands until it was about the right shape.  Cook for 15 to 20 minutes – until it is starting to darken on top.

Eaten with fake or real ice-cream, depending on your diet.

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Leftover pork tacos


I roasted some pork shoulder last week. And have had lots of leftovers. Yesterday’s soup wasn’t documented but I remembered to take this snap before eating tonight.

I fried some onions,  added garlic and sliced chilli once the onion was soft and then left it on lowish heat while I sliced the pork.

I then added the pork to the onions and fried it until it was heated through.

I had it on a flour tortilla (it’s a wrap mum! Said younger in her best long suffering 4 year old tone) with salsa and some avocado pieces. The lime juice cuts the pork fattiness.

I had 3. She had wraps with nothing inside. Her loss.

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Reuse – Peanut sauce

One of the things that makes me feel good as a household cook is when I am organised enough to use something for several different meals over the course of a week. First because it makes the prep for the additional meals easier and secondly because it saves waste and means I’m not chucking food away uneaten.

The peanut sauce I blogged last week has done particularly good service – as a dip for raw vegetables for several meals, including a sunny picnic at the local city farm and finally today to add flavour to the reheated chicken and rice I had for my lunch.  If I was a little more organised I’d try to have some in the fridge at all times, though I suppose in a month or two I might tire of peanutty umami.  Right now that seems hard to believe, though.

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Peanut Sauce


The advantage of feeding the kids early on a Tuesday is I get to have this for dinner. Noodles, sliced veg and peanut sauce. Tasty vegan goodness.

The recipe came from a relative so I’m not sure where it originated.

Peanut Sauce

Crushed garlic
Grated ginger
Juice of a lemon
100 ml sunflower oil
25 ml soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
2 tablespoons peanut butter
25 ml water

Blend together, pour over the veg and noodles or use as a dip.

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2 Ways to Use Roast Vegetables

Sometimes it can feel like post December winter veg is just a succession of bland mash, especially if you don’t cook with butter.  But this week I’ve been on a roasting kick and it has significantly improved my opinion of swede, parsnip and butternut squash.

Winter Veg Stew with Lamb

One of the differences between myself and 18saughtonmains is our view of winter stew. I like stew to be meat heavy, with vegetables for taste and texture but the meat definitely the star of the show.  He likes lots of vegetables and the meat to provide flavour.  This week he made sure the stew was his style by only buying a small amount of lamb and I have to admit the end result was lovely.

300g lamb pieces
Assorted winter veg – this time I used half a butternut squash, a swede, a sweet potato, 4 carrots and a parsnip, but whatever is around will work – chopped into approximately even pieces
2 onions
minced garlic
some flour
glass of red wine
herbs – thyme and rosemary
a tin of tomatoes
tomato puree
Worcestershire Sauce
half a cup of pearl barley

Heat the oven to 180 C and put the vegetables in to roast. You want them to soften and sweeten, but not soften all the way through, so about twenty minutes should do it. Which is about how long the rest should take, luckily.

Slice and fry the onions until they are translucent. Add the garlic and stir for a minute Add the meat and brown.  Once the pieces are nicely coloured, chuck in some flour, stir until all the pieces are covered, then add the glass of wine.  Stir to get the flavours well melded. Add the herbs, tomato puree and Worcestershire sauce.  Pour in the tomatoes and about a tin full of water (you could use stock but I didn’t have suitable stock about – if you used stock, you could probably skip the Worcestershire sauce).  Add the roasted vegetables.  Finally, pour in the pearl barley and bring the mixture to the boil. Season with salt and pepper.

Move to the oven and cook for an hour and a half or so. You’ll be able to tell when it is done as the barley will suddenly suck all the liquid up.

Eat with baked potatoes. Or by itself, to be honest – with that much veg you don’t really need much additional starch.

Roast butternut squash and tomato soup

Slightly old tomatoes found in the veg drawer
The other half of the butternut squash
Herbs – rosemary and thyme
5 garlic cloves
stock – chicken or veg

Heat the oven to 200 C.

Quarter the tomatoes, peel the garlic cloves and chop the squash.  Pour some oil over them and roast for 45 or so minutes – this time you want them to be soft and almost burnt.  Once they are ready, take the pan out of the oven, pour the stock into the pan and use a stick blender to gently blend the soup.  I like it with lots of squash pieces, but go with your preference.  Also, this time I put loads of stock in to make a tasty thin soup with chunks, but if you used less stock and blended it more it would be beautifully thick.

I think this was the tastiest soup I’ve ever made. The vegetables’ taste stayed sweet and distinct.

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Recipe: Tomato Tarte Tatin


The recipe is from Design Sponge and I loved how it turned out. The tomatoes turned sweet, intense and concentrated in the oven and the pastry was a crumbly contrast note.

But enough of talking like a Masterchef judge, as eldest calls it. My absolute favourite part of this recipe is this – while I prepped the tomatoes, eldest made the pastry by herself, following my directions. I almost didn’t notice it had happened, it felt natural to direct her while doing the tomatoes but I think turning marg, flour and an egg into pastry all by yourself counts as actual solo cooking rather than helping. I am so proud. I’m also planning to get her making an evening meal a week by the time she is 8.

Tomato Tatin

100g marg
200g plain flour
1 egg

Tomatoes, ideally ripe late summer ones, but I’m sure this will make the best of winter tomatoes too. I used a mix of cherry and large because that’s what we had. Enough to cover your dish. I wish I’d used a little more, but as long as it covers your dish you’ll be fine.
A large onion, finely slices
Mixed dried herbs
Olive oil

Make the pastry by chopping the marg into small pieces, then rubbing it into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Beat the egg to break up the yoke and then mix it into the flour mixture until it comes together. If the egg isn’t quite enough to do this, add water teaspoon by teaspoon. If you want vegan pastry, don’t use the egg at all. Put in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Cut the tomatoes in half and deseed them. Place them skin side down in your dish, add salt and pepper and the mixed herbs and drizzle over some olive oil. Roast in a 175 C oven for about 30 minutes or until they are soft and melty.

Fry the sliced onions on a low heat until they are caramelised and put aside until the tomatoes are ready.

Roll the pastry to approximately the size of your dish. Take the tomatoes out of the oven, place the pastry over the top and pick with a fork to let steam out. Put back in the oven for another 30 minutes or so, until the pastry is done.

Eat hot with salad and cold out of the fridge the next day if you manage to leave leftovers.

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