– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.
– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.
– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.
– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)
– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.
– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.
For a dish that bears my name this took me an embarrassingly long time to get right. I would have potatoes swimming in butter or too crisp to eat without worrying about your fillings. These little stacked Pommes Anna finally hit that sweet spot between buttery and crispy and look fab for what is actually minimal effort. You can do a lot of the prep beforehand in assembling the stacks in the muffin tin if you want to prepare these in advance and then just pop them in the oven when ready so good for dinner parties!
6-8 new potatoes (waxy)
125g unsalted butter
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp sea salt
Cracked black pepper
Fresh thyme sprigs
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6.
– Use a mandolin or very sharp knife to slice the potatoes into 1/8” slices. Put in a small mixing bowl.
– Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
– Brush the insides of six muffin tins with melted butter.
– Place a small sprig of thyme in the bottom of each muffin cup.
– Add the garlic to the melted butter and remove the leaves from the remaining thyme sprigs and add those too.
– Gently heat until fragrant.
– Pour the butter over the potatoes. Add salt and pepper to season and toss gently.
– Place the sliced potatoes carefully in the muffin tins. You want to arrange them so that they will look good when turned out. Press down firmly in the centre.
– Pour the remaining butter over the potatoes.
– Cover the muffin tray with foil and bake in the oven for 35 minutes.
– Place a large oven dish over the muffin tin and carefully flip over so that the potato stacks come out intact. If any fall apart you can push them back into shape.
– Place the oven dish back in the oven and bake for another 10 minutes until the stacks look nice and crispy on the edges.
If you’re quick you may just get to the last of the wild garlic in a shady spot. The distinctive smell should guide you!
This is a quick easy supper that takes advantage of the wild food available for such a short season. Although, I admit, I grow some ‘wild’ garlic in a container in my garden for convenience and I always find gnocchi very satisfying after a long day in the garden!
1 pack gnocchi (I use giant gnocchi here but regular ones work just as well)
200ml double cream
2 tbsp green pesto
a good handful of wild garlic leaves, washed and slices into ribbons
4 tbsp* freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano *at least
Cook the gnocchi according to the packet instructions.
Gently heat the cream and pesto in a small saucepan. Do not allow it to boil.
Add the garlic leaves and Parmigiano Reggiano and make sure it’s piping hot through.
Pour the sauce over the gnocchi in bowls.
Excellent with some crusty bread and a crisp Riesling after a long day in the garden!
This Christmas Tree Tear-and-Share Bread is the perfect side to any holiday meal, it’s cute, easy, and can be made ahead the night before for a low stress gathering all round! It’s not so garlicy or cheesy as to overwhelm, but feel free to dial it up!
Bread making doesn’t have to be hard, in fact this takes about 20 minutes hands on time, total! It’s a real crowd pleaser and could easily be scaled up to suit any size of gathering.
250g strong bread flour
4g fast action yeast
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil
150ml warm water
100g shredded mozzarella
1 tsp crushed garlic
small handful fresh parsley or basil, shredded
– Put the flour in a large mixing bowl, add the yeas to one side and the salt to the other.
– Mix to combine.
– Add the olive oil and most of the water, keep a little in reserve in case it’s too sticky.
– Start to bring the dough together in the bowl with your hand, or a dough hook attachment on a mixer.
– If using your hands, when the dough has formed tip out onto a worksurface and continue to knead by hand until the dough is soft, smooth and elastic. If using the dough hooks continue to knead in the bowl.
– Set in a clean, oiled bowl and cover. Leave in a warm, draft free place to rise for 1 hour, or until doubled in size.
– When the dough has risen add the cheese and garlic and knock it down. Knead in the bowl until the cheese and garlic are evenly distributed.
– Grease an oven proof dish.
– Pinch off small balls of dough, about the size of a walnut. I needed 23 balls.
– Roll them in your hands and arrange them in the dish to form a Christmas tree!
– Now you can cover the dish with clingfilm and keep in the fridge overnight, or you can set aside at room temperature for another 30 minute rise.
– When you are ready for your bread get the dough out of the fridge and heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C or higher.
– Bake for 25 minutes until golden brown on top.
– Immediately upon removing from the oven, dot the bread with butter.
– Scatter the parsley on top for a green Christmas tree!
Falafel is something I have had a troubled relationship with. For years I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t! Everything was ether too bland or too spicy or too mushy or just not right! However, with this recipe I really feel like I’ve cracked it. And I feel that the key is to really amp up the spices. Not too much chili, but spices, the cumin and coriander, and a good dash of salt and pepper, are what are going to make your falafel sing!
It helps if you think of your falafel as portable hummous. Just as a bland humous is nobody’s friend, so too for falafel so even if you look at these quantities and think I’m crazy, remember, chickpeas are delicious but only with the proper accessories!
The wonderful thing about this falafel recipe is that it healthy and simple. You basically put everything in a food processor and blitz it up! Simple! And to keep the calorie count down on these falafel I oven bake them rather than frying them. Would frying them make them tastier… well, yeah, probably! But I can’t afford those calories so oven baking it is! That’s why we amp up the spices, what you lose in fat you can make up in flavour!
Makes ~15 falafel balls
2 x 400g tins of chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 LARGE cloves of garlic, peeled
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
2 tbsp fresh coriander
2 tbsp plain flour
~ 2 tbsp water if necessary
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6/200C.
– Put everything except the water in the food processor.
– Blitz, scrape down the bowl, blitz again. You want to keep blitzing until you have about half coarse mix, half smooth paste in there. You don’t want to keep going until you get hummous!
– If it’s just not coming together into a paste at all then you might just need a little extra moisture to bind it so gradually add a little water at a time until it just comes together. You don’t want to add too much or you get a soft, sticky falafel!
– Using your hands (or if you’re weird about these things feel free to use spoons/a small ice cream scoop) grab a ping pong ball sized amount of mixture and gently shape it into a nice round ball.
– Place on a very lightly greased baking tray (a quick spray with olive oil will do) and repeat until your mixture is all gone.
– Give all of your falafel a light spritz with an olive oil spray.
– Place in the top of the oven and bake for 30 minutes. The falafel should just be turning brown in places and should be crisp to the touch.
– Serve with salad, pita and haydari… or whatever else takes your fancy!
My mum LOVES sweet chilli sauce. I honestly think she’d have it on everything if she could. So I found this recipe for sweet chilli jam and knew I had to make it for her for Christmas. It’s got a bit of a kick to it but if you’re not keen on spicy then just don’t use so many chillies. I used a really big deep saute pan much wider than it is tall, which is a really useful pan to have around but any really large pan will do. If the pan is deep rather than wide the jam will take longer to reach setting point.
Makes about 4 small (~250ml) jars.
8 red peppers, chopped (I used 4 long sweet ones and 4 bell as the supermarket didn’t have 8) < would you look at that, didn’t know I could do that I meant 8 then)!
6 large red chillies, sliced
about 2 1/2″ root ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves garlic, finely chopped
400g tin cherry or plain chopped tomatoes
750g granulated sugar
250ml red wine vinegar
– Put the peppers, chillies, ginger and garlic in a food processor and whizz until finely chopped and pulpy. You may have to do this in two batches.
– Put this into your pan and add the tomatoes, sugar and vinegar.
– Bring to the boil and then simmer at a rapid pace for about 45 minutes. Keep stirring to keep it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
– When there is a texture change and it goes very thick and sticky give it 5 minutes more while stirring.
– Put into sterilised jars while still hot and screw the lids on immediately.
I christen this dish French Chicken as I saw it on a French food blog A Foodie Froggy in Paris and it is full of French flavours. The other qualifier is that it is needessly complicated in places as all great French food should be! I tweaked the recipe here and there subsituting ingredients for things I had and were cheap rather than the more expensive options of porcini and fois gras.
I would not recommend that you try wrapping the chicken in spiraled strips of pastry as I did. I will give a different idea in the recipe that should give you a pretty sort of plaited effect and be a hell of a lot easier. While I was wrapping these up I swore like a trooper, they were HARD! But if Gordon Ramsey is anything to judge by may be the swearing makes food taste better because these were delicious!
For the mushroom pate:
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tbsp dried or fresh parsley
– Put the mushrooms and onion in a large pan and fry until just soft.
– Add the garlic and parsley and stir well.
– Transfer to a food processor and pulse until coarsely chopped.
– Heat the oven to gas mark 6 and have a large ovenproof dish ready, you may need 2 as the chicken breasts cannot touch.
– Split the chicken breasts on the top down the centre to create ‘boats’. First cut a line straight down then widen the pouch by cutting out to the sides, like an inverted T.
– Roll out the pastry and cut out 4 squares just larger than twice the size of the chicken breasts.
– Place the chicken in the centre of the square.
– Put a large spoonful of pate in the chicken ‘boat’ and smooth down.
– Top this with the mushroom pate to make a small mound.
– Cut strips in the pastry either side of the chicken then start at one end and fold the two strips on opposite sides over towards the other end of the chicken in a V shape.
– Repeat this all along the chicken breast to create a plait effect making sure the whole thing is covered.
– Brush with egg, place in the dish and cook for 30 minutes. If not quite browning turn up to gas 7 for the last 10 minutes.
– Serve with whatever vegetables you like. A simple mushroom cream sauce makes a nice addition but its moist enough to eat without if you wish.
This was the veggie option for the party. I made it in the slow cooker so that I could throw it together and leave it and then serve from the slow cooker and it would still be hot. It could easily become non-veggie by using minced beef instead of veggie mince but brown it in a frying pan first then proceed as below. Essentially this is just my chilli con carne recipe done a bit differently.
500g veggie mince
2 onions, chopped
2x400g tins chopped tomatoes
2x400g tins red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
3 tbsp tomato puree
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tbsp chilli powder
2 tbsp bisto granules made up with 200ml water
1 tbsp sugar
– Basically throw everything but the kidney beans into the slow cooker.
– Give it a stir to mix it up well.
– Add the beans and stir gently.
– Put the lid on and cook in the slow cooker for 8 hours on low.
At least I think that’s what the recipe called it. I kept the name but altered the recipe a fair bit. The idea of it was basically summery flavours in the depths of winter but these days that’s not so odd I guess! Who knows what you call it in the summer! It made a delicious dinner anyway and only took about 30 minutes to make. It even kept warm very well as dinner was delayed by another 30 minutes. I had everything ready by 8pm then kept the pasta covered with a tea towel in a warm oven and reheated the sauce and put it together when everyone was there.
4 chicken breasts either whole or in strips*
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
~200g baby plum tomatoes, halved
200g soft cheese
~400ml creme fraiche
1 tbsp grated hard cheese/parmesan
~6 fresh basil leaves, shredded
2 salad tomatoes, sliced
pasta to serve
– Heat a little oil in a large frying pan and cook the chicken until just browned.
– Get your pasta going.
– Push the chicken to one side and add the garlic, fry in the space for a minute then stir through the chicken.
– Add the halved tomatoes and cook for one minute.
– Add the soft cheese, creme fraiche, hard cheese and parmesan.
– Stir until combined. If it seems a little thick add a little water from the pasta.
– Grill the tomato slices until just starting to blacken in places.
– Serve on top of pasta garnishing with the sliced tomatoes.
Hi, I'm Anna and this is what's going on in my kitchen and growing in my garden.
Everything you see here is how it looked as I cooked and ate it. I don't like to make things too fussy. I want you to know that if you try one of my recipes what you see is what you'll get.
Don't forget to leave a comment, I love to know what you're thinking and if you do try out a recipe then let me know how it worked for you. Happy cooking!