Category Archives: ALL Recipes

Spiced Chick Peas and Basmati Rice

DSCN5847 This is another family favourite, for several reasons. This is student food (or harassed parent food) at its very best. It is very quick to put a nourishing and filling meal on the table. It is dead easy to put together. It is one of those forgiving recipes that you can tinker with to produce different flavours, and it always comes out just hitting the spot. This is a store cupboard special, where the hardest part is chopping up an onion and squashing a clove of garlic.

The recipe is for 4 people, but it is very easy to scale up to account for how many people you are serving.

Time to prepare and cook about 25 – 45 minutes, dependent on the time it takes to cook your rice.



per person 80/100 gm basmati rice

1 large onion, sliced

1 clove of garlic

1 -2 tablespoons olive oil

1 x 454 gm/1 lb tin of chick peas

1 x 454 gm/1 lb tin of chopped tomatoes

1 level teaspoon curry powder/paste or to taste

2 cups frozen peas (optional)

salt and pepper to taste


Put a pan of salted water on to boil for the rice.

Meanwhile slice the onion and put it in to a saucepan with the oil and saute gently for 5 minutes.

As soon as the rice water boils, add the rice, bring back up to the boil and simmer to cook (this is how much time you have left to cook the chick peas and tomatoes!). If you have ample time you can save some money by looking at my suggestions for ‘slow’ cooking here .

Meanwhile add the minced garlic to the onions and saute for another 2 minutes.


Add the chick peas, tomatoes and frozen peas.  Increase the heat to bring to a boil. reduce the heat to simmer.

Add the curry powder and season to taste.

As soon as the rice is cooked, serve everything on hot plates.


Here I have served it with Stir Fried Cabbage (the recipe here) as well as the basmati rice.







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Stir Fried Cabbage


We grow and eat a lot of cabbage, and we use many different recipes in order to vary the way we eat them. This is one such way, which is quick, economical and also tasty. As with a lot of our recipes this is one that can be adjusted to suit the style of cuisine that it is accompanying.

This serves 4. Preparation 10 – 15 minutes. Cooking 10 minutes


1 medium cabbage

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 cloves of garlic

1 dessert spoon caraway seeds or fennel seeds


Wash the cabbage leaves and then steam or boil them for 5 minutes.

Drain the leaves.


Shred or slice them finely

In a wok heat the oil, and add the seeds and garlic, cook for 1 minute.


Add the cabbage leaves and cook for a further 3 or 4 minutes.

Season and serve immediately.

And if you are thinking, that is not much cabbage for 4 people, you are correct. I was doing and photographing a half recipe.

If you wanted to liven up the visual aspect of the cabbage you could add a finely chopped red, orange or yellow pepper, which takes little or no time to cook, before you add the cabbage to the wok.



Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Side Dishes, Spicy, Student Food, Student Food, Vegetables

Pizza Dough


DSCN5768An Italian pizza is a thin crust confection, that follows the mantra ‘less is more’ when it comes to the toppings, and that is because the the wood fired ovens used all over Italy are fiercely hot and cook the pizza in about 5 minutes or so. Too much topping and the crust would be overdone by the time the topping is cooked. I don’t think it is possible to buy a deep pan pizza in Italy, but then why would you?

At our local pizzeria, they don’t use rolling pins to create a disc of dough. Upon receipt of your order they take a ball of dough, from a batch quietly rising, and pull and stretch it over the curved edge of a marble topped work surface, using one hand to turn the ball/disc of dough around and the heel of the other hand to form it, constantly turning a few degrees at a time and forming. Their circles of dough are almost perfectly round and achieved in just 1 or 2 minutes to the correct diameter. Wonderful to watch their dexterity.

I have been using this recipe for making my own pizze (Italian plural of pizza, so no apologies) for about 20 years, and I have never given it much thought until my friend Helen reminded me that I gave her the recipe several years ago and because it is so reliable that I should share it. So here it is. I usually make my dough using a bread machine, so that I can be doing other things while it is working, but the dough is just as good if you kneed it by hand.

The quantities below yield sufficient dough to make 2 pizze of 30 cm/ 12 inches diameter, which is what I usually make for 2 or 3 people.

Preparation time:  between 1 and 2 hours depending on the rising of the dough and the dough cycle of your bread machine


325 gm/11 1/2 oz/ strong white bread flour

225 ml/7 1/2 fluid oz hand hot water

15 gm/ 1/2 oz butter melted

1 teaspoon salt

4 teaspoons sugar

1 teaspoon dried yeast

a little olive oil for greasing the pizza pans


It is important to be accurate when measuring out the ingredients so that the finished dough is pliable and does not stick to your hand. Having said that if your dough does seem a little sticky just add a little more flour.

If using a bread machine pour the water into the bread pan, then add the melted butter. Sprinkle the flour over the water, and then put the salt and the sugar into opposite corners. Finally sprinkle the yeast over the top of the flour. Put the bread machine onto a dough cycle and wait for it to complete.

Making it by hand, dissolve the sugar in the water and then add the yeast and give it 30 minutes or so, to start bubbling. Then you put the flour into a large mixing bowl, stirring in the salt. Add the melted butter to the yeast mixture and the stir into the flour. Work the mixture together with your hands until it comes together as a ball of dough. Kneed and work the dough for 5 minutes and form into a ball. Cover and allow it to rise for 45 minutes.


Knock back the dough for a few minutes and then divide it into two. Taking each piece of dough in turn, form into a ball, then flattening it with your hand.


Then taking a rolling pin, roll out on a floured surface until it reaches about 30 cm/12 inches in diameter.


Transfer to a greased pizza pan, by winding it onto your rolling pin and unrolling it onto your dish or tin.




Push the dough, with your fingers, into the corners

Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise for 15 minutes.

When putting your desired topping on, remember that ‘less is more’ and then bake in a pre-heated oven set at 220 c/425 F/Gas 7/Hot for 20 minutes or until golden and sizzling.

Serve immediately.


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Lentil Loaf


This is a family favourite and also quick to prepare. I have for years been making this without reference to the original recipe, that started it all off for me. I looked again in Sarah Brown’s Vegetarian Cookery, as much as anything to see what I am doing differently now. Not too much it would seem. The original recipe called for 3 tablespoons of cream to be stirred into the mix before baking, which I do not do.

Anyway here is my take on it, and I don’t recall too many complaints along the way.

Serves 4. Preparation 10 minutes. Cooking 1 hour


175 gm/6 oz/1 cup  red lentils

350 ml/12 fl oz  water

110 gm/4 oz/ 2/3rds cup cheddar or parmesan, grated, saving a little for the topping

1 medium/large  onion finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

1 rounded teaspoon mixed dried herbs

1 level teaspoon dried chili flakes

1 large egg beaten

Salt and pepper

1 dessertspoon lemon juice (optional)



Put the lentils (see Cooking to save Money and Time tips) and about ¾ of the water into a pan, cover and boil gently for about 10 minutes, check and add more water if needed. Boil,covered, for a further 5 minutes on a much reduced heat. You should finish with a stiff puree.

Remove from the heat and add the cheese, onion, garlic, herbs, chilli flakes and lemon. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Now add the egg and stir in to the mix.

Turn this mix into a greased and lined 450 gm/1 lb loaf tin, pressing down to fill the corners.

Sprinkle the remaining cheese on the top.

Put into a pre-heated oven set at 190 C/375 F/Gas 5/moderate hot, middle shelf for about 45 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and the mixture is firm.

Remove from the oven and allow it to stand for 10 minutes, before turning it out onto a serving plate.

Serve with a tomato based sauce (see my recipe for this) and steamed broccoli or vegetables of your choice. This is just as good eaten cold with a salad, and it freezes well.







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Cooking to Save Money and Time


There are times when cooking, that with a little forethought and planning it is possible to save cooking time and also some money. I am not talking just about making sure that the oven is full when you are cooking or that one dish comes out and another goes straight in. That is a given in my book. even though I find it difficult to achieve at times, especially when where bread or rolls are concerned.

No, what I am talking about are the little shortcuts that I have come to use over the years, and what I thought everyone knew about. I recall many years ago when I was a boy scout that one of the cooking tips was, at breakfast time,  to put potatoes in a vacuum flask, filled with boiling water, and come dinner time they would be cooked. To the best of my knowledge and memory no one did it. What follows is a logical extension of that and  will probably horrify the purists and food fascists, but who pays my, and your, energy bills anyway? So here goes.

Rice is added to boiling water and brought back up to the boil, a lid put on and the heat turned off . Then I set the timer for not quite double the cooking time. For 12 minute rice I would ‘slow’ cook it for 20 minutes, then put the heat on again and bring it back up to the boil, drain and serve. For wholemeal or brown rice which has a much longer cooking time it would be to a similar formula. You would have to experiment with your favourite brand of rice to establish the ideal time, but that would be no big deal.

Pasta can be ‘slow’cooked the same as with rice.

Potatoes as I alluded to above can be put into a vacuum flask, however my 1/2 litre/16 fl oz vacuum flask only has an opening of 3 cm/ 1 1/2 inches, but I cut a potato to roughly 3 cm/ 1 1/2 inch chunks, put them in the flask, half filling it. I then filled it with freshly boiled water and set a timer. After 6 hours they were firm but edible. Another hour and they were perfect. So 7 hours and done, but I would struggle to put a meal on the table with the contents of a small vacuum flask. You would need to experiment because different flasks have different rates of heat loss etc and different potatoes would cook faster or slower, but you probably get the idea.


Red Lentils take about 15 minutes to cook, but this can be reduced to 5 minutes by covering with cold water an hour and a half before hand, bring up to the boil and simmer to complete. Care needs to be taken as some recipes specify an exact quantity of water that will be totally absorbed during the cooking cycle, in which case add the specified amount of water.

Green or Brown lentils take about 35 to 40 minutes to cook and soften, but by covering with cold water the night before they will absorb water and soften. At 12 hours they will have swollen and absorbed a lot of water, and they will be soft enough to eat, requiring only sufficient energy to heat them up.

Dried Beans can be soaked in plenty of cold water for 24 hours at least before cooking and reduce the cooking time. Their volume will increase by about 3 times so make sure there is plenty of water. Drain and refill with fresh water for cooking. It is well to note here that the older the beans, the longer they take to cook, so eat your old stock on a regular basis to save cooking time. Also remember that only add salt once the beans have softened to the required degree. If you add salt before they have softened they will never soften by boiling.

Advantages to cooking this way. What this has meant for me is that in some instances I have had to adjust some of my cooking procedures to take into account the lengthened cooking times. So that sometimes I now start with rice instead of the accompanying vegetables, but this is an adjustment that takes very little getting used to. But my actual use of energy has gone down, and I quite like that.

As Kryten, the mechanoid, (see here for explanation of Kryten) in Red Dwarf occasionally said – smug mode!


Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Recipes, Rice, Vegetables

Sweetheart Jammy Dodgers


I don’t make many sweet foods, but every now and again, the occasion arises that compels me to get baking. February 14th is a good enough occasion for me and also my wife likes them. They are easy to make and take little time anyway.


250 gm butter, softened

150 gm caster sugar

1 medium egg separated

½ tsp vanilla extract

300 g plain flour

6 tbsp  raspberry jam


Cube the softened  butter. I microwave a whole 250 gm stick of butter fresh from the fridge for about 40 seconds.


In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter and sugar.

Stir in the egg yoke, the vanilla extract and then the flour. Bring together everything, using your hands and needing for about 5 minutes. Wrap in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 minutes.


Roughly divide the dough  into  two pieces. Taking one piece, roll out the dough to about 5 mm/ 1/4 inch thick.


Cut out the bottom shapes, placing them on a baking sheet with baking paper on it.

Cut out the top shapes, placing them on top of the bottom shapes with egg white brushed on the bottom shape.

Continue with the remaining piece of dough.

Carefully place a teaspoon of raspberry jam in the centre of each biscuit.

Bake for about 10 to 12 minutes in a pre heated oven set to 180 C/350 F/ Gas 4/ Moderate. or until they take on a golden colour.

Cool on a wire rack


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Lemon Curd


Of all the jams that I make, this is the only one that I do not treat as seasonal, and is also the only jam that I make for special occasions. It does not keep particularly well, lasting in the store cupboard for a maximum of 3 months, and once open lasting in the fridge for no more than a week. For those reasons I make only small quantities. The making of it is fairly straightforward, and the fact that it has a large number eggs means that you never have to worry about a set to thicken the final result.

This recipe makes about 450 gm/ 1 lb and takes about 45 minutes start to finish


3 lemons

200 gm/7 oz/1 cup sugar

115 gm/ 4 oz/ 8 tablespoons unsalted butter

4 large eggs


Place a mixing bowl into a large saucepan, which has been partially filled with hot water from the tap. Heat up the water so that is gently simmering.

Put the butter and sugar into the bowl to slowly melt.


Meanwhile wash the lemons, grate them, cut them in half  and squeeze the lemon juice from them. Put the rind and juice into the bowl.

Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon.


DSCN5734Crack the eggs and beat them in a cup. Then pour the eggs through a sieve into the bowl. Do this to ensure that you remove any eggshell or little chickens.

Now stir continually until the lemon curd has thickened enough to coat the back of the wooden spoon, or sets when put on a saucer kept in a freezer for 10 minutes or so.


Pot up immediately in small warm sterilized jars and screw the lids down tight.


When cool, keep in a cool dark place for up to 3 months, and when opened keep in a fridge for no more than a week.

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Filed under ALL Recipes, All Year, Jams, Jellies and Preserves