Tuesday, 28 April 2009

Obviously the only reason I got an AGA!

I'd like to introduce you to The Woozle and my AGA - the most expensive cat tummy warmer in the world.

Why else would you buy one?

It's a Fish Cake Frenzy!

Actually it's not really.

I just fancied fishcake the other day for lunch.

So I threw together a little smoked haddock with some mashed potato, added some capers and gherkin, tossed in some chopped red onion and leek, shaped and then rolled the little beggars in oatmeal.

I then fried them in some groundnut oil and we ate them in the sunshine with a little salad and a lot of wine.


Smoked Haddock Oatmeal Fishcakes
Serves 4

12oz (350g) smoked haddock - cooked
12oz (350g) cooked new potatoes in their skins
1 tablespoon of chopped gherkins
1 tablespoon of chopped capers
1 small red onion- chopped
1 small leek - chopped
1 heaped tsp of wholegrain mustard
2 eggs – beaten
6oz (175g) pin head oatmeal
6 tablespoon ground nut oil for frying (might need more if your pan is large)
Salt and pepper

1. Roughly mash the haddock with the potato, so it still has flakes in it. Stir in the gherkins and capers. Mix in the red onion, leek, mustard and season with black pepper.
2. Shape into 8 flat cakes. Place them on a plate, cover with cling film and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up. Can be over night. Make sure all the ingredients when mixed together though, are cold.
3. Tip the beaten eggs onto a large flat plate and spread out the oatmeal on another. Dip the fishcakes in the egg, covering well and then into the oatmeal
4. It is really important that you make sure the sides are well crumbed too.
5. Heat a shallow film of oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat. Add the fishcakes, in batches of 4 and fry for 4 minutes or so on each side until golden brown.

Saturday, 25 April 2009

Big Sausage Roll

Any of you taking advantage of this lovely weather and going on a picnic this weekend?

Is there anyone silly enough to fight with wasps, flies, rain or perhaps with each other to eat in the open air?

I do hope so, because I've just made this scrumptious Big Sausage Roll for a picnic I'm embarking on tomorrow, and I wanted to share it with you.

Cheap to make, lots of flavour, easy to wrap and eat on a walk, ride, punt or possibly in the car in a traffic jam on the M25!

I hope you have a lovely weekend, wherever you decide to go.

A Big Sausage Roll

12oz (350g) pork sausage meat
½ tsp cumin seeds
½ tsp dried chilli seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 dessert spoon of Oxford Sauce (or Worcestershire)
Salt and pepper
2 hard boiled eggs - chopped
½ small onion - finely chopped
1 small leek – finely chopped
8oz (225g) puff pastry
1 beaten egg to glaze

Preheat the Oven to Mk6 200C

1. Mix the sausage meat with the cumin seeds, chilli seeds, ground cumin and Oxford sauce. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Press the sausage meat on a floured surface until it is about ¼ inch thick.
3. Sprinkle over the chopped egg, onion and leek. Roll up like a Swiss roll.
4. Roll out the pastry and place the sausage in the middle of it. Brush the edges with some beaten egg.
5. Tuck the edges in at the side, and then roll the pastry up making sure you keep the sausage meat well tucked in
6. Place on a baking sheet, fold side down and then brush with some more egg.
7. Make diagonal slits across the pastry to decorate.
8. Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes until cooked through and golden brown. If it browns too quickly, cover with some tin foil and continue to cook for the required time.

By the way, the knife in the picture is from my Lotte Duncan cookware range available at QVC.

Thursday, 23 April 2009

For England and St George!

In honour of St George, I’ve written a lovely English recipe. I’ve called it a pottage, but it’s quite close to a risotto if I’m honest! However it’s an English day today, (although the Romans did influence our culinary heritage a great deal) so I’m going to break a rule or two.

Another rule I am taking enormous delight in breaking is the metric one. I’m an Imperial bird, always have been and always will be. I usually convert the measurements, because I have to and I don’t want to close the doors on metric cooks. But today if feels so good to be a little bit naughty and do what I want.
You’re just lucky I’m not using pecks and gills!

Nettles are easy to find (no problem in my garden!), but only pick the top leaves as they are young and not so stringy. I’m lucky to have wild garlic in my garden, straight to hand outside my kitchen, but you can usually find it in damp woodland – just be careful where you pick it and please make sure you have the right plant
(see my photo). If you can’t find any, replace with lots of fresh chives and some leaf spinach or sorrel.

Pearl Barley, reminiscent in winter stew makes a delicious and nutritious alternative to risotto rice and just feels that little more English. A pottage is a thick soup full of vegetables and often meat or bones and it was generally thickened with a grain of some description – hence my use of the term today.

Enjoy this dish and let’s hear it for old St George. Love him, what WAS he thinking with that Dragon!

Wild Garlic and Nettle Pearl Barley Pottage
Lotte Duncan 2009

Serves 2

1oz butter
1 small leek – sliced, including the green bit
4oz pearl barley
¼ pint dry cider
1 ½ pints hot vegetable stock
15 nettle tops (pick the top five leaves with gloves on!) - slice the leaves only
A large handful of wild garlic leaves - sliced
2oz freshly grated parmesan or a hard English cheese like Spenwood
1 heaped tablespoon of crème fraiche
White wild garlic flowers to sprinkle
Salt and Pepper

1. Melt the butter in a large deep frying pan and add the leek. Cook gently over a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the pearl barley and stir into the butter and cook for another minute.
2. Add the cider, turn the heat up and cook rapidly for 1 minute.
3. Now, reduce the heat again and slowly add the vegetable stock, ladle by ladle stirring all the time until it has been soaked in by the pearly barley. This can take up to 40 minutes. (So, enough time to consume a large glass of wine!) You want the barley to be creamy and soft, but still with a slight bite to it.
4. Now stir in the nettle and wild garlic leaves until they have wilted well. You especially want the nettle to wilt because this removes the sting!
5. Add half the parmesan and the crème fraiche. Season with salt and pepper.
6. Serve. Sprinkle the rest of the parmesan on top and then decorate with the wild garlic flowers.

Wednesday, 22 April 2009


No real reason to blog, nothing exceptional has happened. I just wanted to show you my current view. The one from my outside desk.

This April weather is stunning; the sky is clear, the breeze is warm, I can't hear anything except the birdies and my cat is still fat. As I said nothing exceptional!

At ten o'clock this morning, I took my computer outside, plugged it in, placed in on my garden table under the parasol and set to work. Sitting in my office just wasn't an option. One of the perks of being self-employed and working from home.
(We won't mention the non-perks of working out your own tax, chasing payments and no holiday or sick pay!!)

I have written seven recipes for my cookery school today - planned menus for my demonstrations and worked on my book.

Only problem - and this is a big one.
The hammock is taunting me for a little lie down under the blossomed apple tree and the wretched lawn needs mowing... and the weeds....oh the weeds are multiplying before my very eyes!
I can see them sneaking up through my sweet rocket and lupins. They are visibly writhing in ecstasy as the sun evaporates the nightime dew. I'm trying to keep my eyes firmly on the screen, doing my best not to get up and start plucking the little beggars out.

I wonder if I should cut the lawn just a bit shorter this week, and perhaps I'll give the edges their bi-weekly trim. Should I dead-head some daffs? Cut some old wood out of the large shrub roses? I'm sure my Rambling Rector needs some help climbing the old damson tree.

Oh,I don't know, this outside desk lark really does ask for a lot of discipline. Not entirely sure I'm cut out for it...perhaps I'll just have a wee rock in the hammock and plan my next recipe instead...

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Eye Eye!

On Sunday I, like the most of the population stuffed a chicken, roasted it and then devoured it alongside sausages, bacon, cauli cheese and many vegetables.

I'm wondering however, if anyone else had the same incident filled, accident prone lunch as me.

Forgive me for saying 'paxo' in a food blog - but my daughter loves a bit of paxo sage and onion stuffing - as do I!
I know, I'm sorry.

Unfortunately we didn't have our usual dusty box at the back of the larder, which is bought out on feast days and holidays. So, I with great confidence told Daisy that because I was a fabulous cook, in the business for twenty-five years and capable at turning my hand to anything - I would make her some proper stuffing. It would only involve onion, sage, bread, egg and some seasoning. It was time Daisy, to be bold and take on the stuffing big boys..

I found a little sage in my garden, gathered in the onion and egg, but couldn't find any bread. Ping! Remembered there was some crusts in the freezer - always keep them for breadcrumbs.

So, I popped them in my food processor - having forgotten that the day before the lid had split a little. (on the list of super glue to do's).

Full force whizzing was put into action and within seconds the lid had ripped apart and lumps of frozen bread were attacking me from all angles.

I didn't think bread could be quite so aggressive.

I tried to fend them off as best I could, but suddenly one piece of particularly accurate b******d bread got me in the eye. Smack on the eye ball.
I yelped, clutching my eye with one hand, still trying to ricochet other pieces away from me with the other.
Daisy heard my panic, came to the rescue and managed, through the snowstorm of frozen crumbs to turn the food processor off.
In the nick of time, because quite soon I think the blade may also have tried to escape from it's plastic bowl.
Gawd bless her.

The rest of lunch did pass off without too much incident - although after a couple of Gin and Tonics (purely medicinal you understand) I may have forgotten the steaming vegetables and let them boil dry.

It was the shock you see!