Category Archives: Recipes

Favorite recipes I’ve found out and about or my own made up ones

George’s ‘Pipi’ Fritters

To explain, George is the handsome cove who demonstrated this fabulous, fresh, seafood recipe to me. He (along with his wonderful wife Carol) had just happened to have built a stunning beach side villa in a place called Opoutere in The Coromandel area of New Zealand’s north island. I would urge anyone who hasn’t been to visit this incredible area of the world to do so forthwith. By some strange quirk of good fortune, I got to spend three days in this paradise.

Collecting on the beach, collecting in the bucket and hand

Paphies australis or pipi (from the Māori language) is a bivalve mollusc (so it says here!) which is endemic to New Zealand. The pipi is a shellfish with a solid white, elongated symmetrical shell with the apex at the middle. (To me it was a big clam).
The pipi is abundant on flat sandy beaches, where there is considerable water flow (or in other words just at the back of George’s beach villa!)
By releasing a thread of mucus, which makes them more buoyant, they can move about a bit by floating. They can get up to more than 1000 individuals per square metre. (I can vouch for that! There was loads of them just under us!). You simply rummage around in the sand with your hand at low tide and pick them out. Then throw into George’s bucket! (Mind you don’t get nipped by the crabs though! There’s tons of them too…)

Ingredients (makes around 12 fritters)

Half a bucket of freshly picked Pipis from the low outgoing tide of the Pacific Ocean, preferably in New Zealand. Ours weighed in at about 500g. I reckon you could use a ton of clams or even mussels instead.
2 eggs
Tablespoon of flour
Splash of fish sauce
Pinch of sugar
1/2 tsp curry powder and/or chilli powder (to taste. Chopped jalapenos could work well too I reckon)
Oil for frying

1) Leave overnight in clean water. The tentacles will come out and spit all the sand and waste out.
2) Clean and rinse.
3) In a shallow pan, bring an inch of water to a gentle boil. Place the Pipis in batches into the water and wait a few minutes for them to open. Remove with tongs as they open and place in a separate bowl. Repeat until all open.

The tentacles, steaming, opening up, removing the meat

4) Remove all the meat and discard the shells. This is easy using a your finger thumb. Take care not to eat too many while doing this. They taste wonderful and sweet even at this stage!
5) Finely chop, or ideally mince into a rough paste. (George has a fine old hand mincer)
6) Mix in a bowl with the eggs, flour, fish sauce, pepper, sugar and spices to create a sloppy paste

Mincing, mixing, dolloping in the pan

7) Cover the bottom of the pan with oil for shallow frying. Heat until smoking.
8) Spoon a good dollop into the pan and flatten down to create a patty around 6-8mm thick. You should be able to do 4 at a time. Fry 3-4 mins on one side until golden brown underneath. Flip carefully with a spatula and repeat.
9) Place on kitchen paper and keep warm.

We served with sweet chilli sauce, but I’m sure other dips would work too…
I ate mine with my hands.

Featherblade Steak Casserole – Hairy Bikers

”If youre looking for a decent cut of beef to make a great stew or casserole then look no further than this hunk of wonderfulness.”

Featherblade doesnt seem to be a well-known cut. It comes from the shoulder blade, so there are only two in every cow. I first stumbled on this in my local butchers cabinet. The glorious marbling of fat really caught my eye. My butcher at Red Bank Farm Shop reckons it flies out when he puts it out. Snatch it up when you see it. It cost me about £8 for the 1kg hunk you see here.

The recipe is based loosely on one I got off the Hairy Bikers.



1kg/2lb 2oz feather blade steak, trimmed and cut into big chunks
3 tbsp oil
3 bannana shallots or 1 medium onion, sliced
2 celery sticks, trimmed, sliced (I used a whole leek instead!)
2 carrots, thickly sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
250ml/10fl oz red wine
500ml/17fl oz beef stock
2 tbsp tomato purée
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme (I used a tsp of dried)
1 bay leaf
1 tsp English mustard
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Preheat the oven to 160C/320F/Gas 3.

2 Season the beef with salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Heat one tablespoon of the oil in a large heavy-based frying pan. I used my large stock pot. Fry the steak pieces over a medium-high heat for 2-3 minutes on each sides, or until browned. Transfer the beef pieces to a bowl. (You may need to do this in batches.)

3 Return the pan to the hob and reduce the heat. Add the remaining oil and gently fry the shallots, celery (leek) and carrots for 6-8 minutes or until golden-brown and softened. Stir in the garlic, cook for a further minute.


4 Deglaze the pan with wine and allow to bubble for a few seconds, stirring constantly. Stir in the tomato puree for a few mins and then add the stock. Strip the thyme leaves from the stalks and scatter into the pan, add the bay leaf and mustard and stir until well combined. Bring to the boil and remove the dish from the heat.

5 Add the meat back into the pot. Place a lid on top and cook in the oven for 3-3½ hours or until the beef is very tender. Skim any fat away from the surface that appears during cooking.

6 Transfer the meat to a plate. Strain the cooking liquor and vegetables through a sieve into a large non-stick frying pan. Press the vegetables with the bottom of a ladle to extract a rich purée and stir into the cooking liquor. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste.

Alternatibvely I kept it going for over 5 hours, (which did break it down a bit too much. Stick to the 4 hours to keep the big chunks). Removing the lid with an hour to go to help reduce the liquid. I kept all the veg in without straining. Therefore ignore the next step and serve with mashed potato.

7 Bring the mixture to a simmer for 3-5 minutes, or until the sauce is well reduced, thick and glossy. Add the beef to the liquid and heat through for 3-4 minutes, spooning over the sauce to glaze. Serve with some green vegetables and mashed potatoes.


The meat really is superb tasting and well worth seeking out.

Baked Crab – Sophie Michell

I absolutely love crab. Ive often dreamed that if I was on Saturday Kitchen then crab would be my heaven (beetroot my hell)! Whenever we go on holiday to the coast I live on crab sandwiches, it’s the law. So when watching a hidden away programme on Channel 4 called ‘Meet What You Eat,’ I was blown away by this dish, which was beautifully demonstrated by the rather striking and talented chef Sophie Michell. The ingredients and method below are from the show with small tweaks by me.


Ive included some images of the prep, which included disembowelling said crab and extracting the luscious bounty within. My crab although a fairly decent size (from the wonderful Lanigans in Lytham St Annes) was only 750g so I halved the ingredients listed.


1.5 kg crab, cooked and prepped (to make 250g white crab meat and 100g of brown meat approximately). Like I mentioned In had  750g crab.
1 tbsp of clarified butter
2 spring onions, finely sliced
1tbsp diced red chilli
2 garlic cloves
½ tsp celery salt (I didn’t have any!)
½ tsp of Espelette pepper (I used normal black pepper!)
½ tsp dried oregano
½ smoked paprika
Zest of 2 limes
1 tbsp fresh chopped flat leaf parsley
1 handful of dried breadcrumbs (preferably panko)
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons of hollandaise
1 tsp jalapeño hot sauce (I just used diced, from a jar)
1 tsp diced jalapeños


Remove the legs off the crab. They simply twist off. With the body upright and the shell towards you, prize the centre of the crab away from its shell with your thumbs. Takes a bit of effort. Remove the ‘dead mans fingers’ from the body. These are the tentacle like protrusions about an inch and half long.

imageKeep the main body shell for presentation purposes. Flick the oven on to 180 deg C.

Scoop out all the meat from inside the shell and place in a bowl. Scrape off the meat from the head you’ve extracted. Then break the claws with the back of a large knife and with a skewer scrape out the chunks of flesh (this is the main bit, don’t throw these away)!. Repeat with the legs (messy but worth doing).


Fry the onions, chilli and garlic in the butter, along with the paprika and oregano for a couple of minutes.

Then add the crab, zest, parsley and seasoning. Give it all a stir. Finally mix in the zest, breadcrumbs and egg yolk and give it another stir.

Spoon all the meat from the pan back into the shell pressing it fully in as you go. I then mixed the hollandaise with the jalapenos and topped the crab with it.

Pop in the oven and bake for 4 minutes. Serve with toasted bread and lime wedges. I served it with a bit of poncey garnish and some lovely, buttered granary bread.


I now have the confidence to dress my own crab. Reckon I will do a cold one with mayo next for those ultimate crab sandwiches……

Thanks to the original recipe here by Sophie Michell.

Egg Rougaille – Shelina Permalloo

“What a brilliant way to cook eggs! Even better as spicy as this!”

Shelina Permalloo made her first mark as a contestant and winner on Masterchef. Since then she has released two books ‘Sunshine On a Plate” (where this dish was first aired) and lately ‘The Sunshine Diet”.

Its an easy dish really, but with bags of flavour. It takes about 40 minutes all in to prepare and cook. Lovely with some crusty bread to mop up.



3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and grated
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 red bird’s eye chilli, finely chopped
4 sprigs of thyme
1 x 400g tin peeled plum tomatoes
2 tbsp freshly chopped coriander (the more the better for me!)
3 large eggs (I did 4 medium eggs)
freshly chopped flat leaf parsley, to garnish


Heat the vegetable oil in a large pan with a tight-fitting lid over a medium heat and fry the onion until just beginning to brown. Add the ginger, garlic, chilli and thyme and cook for 3–4 minutes, stirring occasionally


Add the tomatoes and cook for 20–25 minutes until the tomatoes are beginning to break down and the oil has started to rise to the top of the mixture. Season with salt, add the chopped coriander and stir

Crack the eggs into the pan, cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until he eggs are softly poached. Garnish with the parsley and serve.


For more of Shelina’s recipes go to

Bircher Muesli – Anna Jones and Jamie Oliver

I quite like a cereal type, healthy breakfast. Porridge is good, muesli, bran flakes all get an airing. I also have a go at the 5:2 diet (see here). I then look for a good low calorie, filling breakfast. This is where this Bircher muesli recipe comes into play. It’s basically porridge oats prepared the night before and soaked overnight in a suitable liquid (in this case milk, but I’ve come across apple juice) with some extras. Half this recipe provides a good, long lasting feed and comes in at about 400 calories.

Weighing up the night before.
Weighing up the night before.

This recipe adds chia seeds because they give a rich creaminess – if you don’t want to add chia, just don’t add as much milk. Chia seeds are little seeds that boost the nutritional value of the breakfast tenfold. They look a bit like poppy seeds and come in a variety of colours: black, white and grey. I use the white ones here. You’ll find them in health food shops and in big supermarkets beside the nuts and seeds. Chia seeds were the food of choice of Aztec and Mayan warriors, and a single tablespoon would keep them going for 24 hours. They are high in protein, so they’re perfect for breakfast time. You can use them in smoothies and in baking.

The night before, put the oats, chia seeds and pumpkin seeds into a bowl or container, pour over the milk, and add the maple syrup (or honey), vanilla and lemon juice. Mix well, then cover and pop into the fridge overnight. I won’t lie at this point it looks like the slurry you get when you unblock the sink! But next morning it all comes together as the seeds and oats soak up the milk. It then takes on a gloopier and altogether more appealing look.

The finished results
The finished results

In the morning, chop the pears into little chunks, sprinkle over the cinnamon and add the sour cherries. You can vary this bit really, grated apple works or a bit of banana. This recipe does two pretty big portions or could divide into three.


100g oats
2 tablespoons white chia seeds
1tablespoon pumpkin seeds
350ml milk (400ml for a sloppier mix) of your choice (I use almond or coconut)
1 tablespoon maple syrup (I use honey)
a dash of vanilla extract
a squeeze of lemon juice
2 ripe pears
1 pinch of ground cinnamon
a small handful of dried sour cherries, or cranberries

Recipe from ‘A modern way to eat’ by Anna Jones and then taken on by Jamie Oliver

Tomato, Asparagus, Cheese Tart

This is a brilliant, tasty and simple dish to make. I did it as a starter for six people. I just threw it in the middle and carved it up with a pizza wheel. Went down a storm. The recipe comes from the ever reliable Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall (River Cottage) and his equally reliable Veg book.   The basic ingredients are the puff pastry, some veg, some herbs and some cheese! You could apply some variations quite happily with equally good results. Ive done a few versions. They all work. The basic principle is the same: crisp pastry, soft caramelised tomato, tangy cheese.

ingredients, a bit of prep
ingredients, a bit of prep
  • A little sunflower oil
  • ½ teaspoon fine cornmeal or polenta (optional)
  • 375g all-butter, ready-made puff pastry
  • Beaten egg, for brushing
  • About 350g tomatoes (I used cherry tomatoes)
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • A little extra virgin olive or rapeseed oil
  • 100g rinded goat’s cheese (I used mozzarella)
  • 125g Asparagus (trimmed and sliced lengthways)
  • A handful of thyme sprigs, leaves only
  • Sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper


  • Preheat the oven to 190°C/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a baking sheet and scatter over a little fine cornmeal or polenta, if you have some – this helps to keep the pastry really crisp.
  • Roll out the pastry fairly thinly and trim to a rectangle about 30 x 25cm. Put it on the baking sheet. Cut a 1cm strip from each edge. Brush these strips with a little beaten egg, then stick on to the edges of the rectangle, to form a slightly raised border. Brush the edges with a little more egg.
  • Thinly slice the tomatoes across into 2–3mm slices; discard the stalky top and skinny bottom slices. Scatter the garlic over the pastry, then arrange the sliced tomatoes on top, overlapping them only slightly. I used cherry tomatoes on this occasion and simply scattered them over. Season with salt and pepper and trickle with a little oil. Bake for about 15 minutes, until the tomatoes are tender and lightly browned.
  • Take the tart out of the oven, scatter over the cheese and thyme, add another twist of pepper and a trickle of oil, and return to the oven. Bake for another 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and bubbly and the pastry golden brown. You can serve this hot, but I think it’s better half an hour or so after it comes out of the oven, with a green salad.image

VARIATIONS Basil and mozzarella tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with 1 ball of buffalo mozzarella (about 125g), torn into small pieces. Replace the thyme with a couple of tablespoons of shredded basil – but add this after the tart is cooked, not before.

Rosemary and pecorino tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with a generous grating of pecorino or Parmesan, and the thyme leaves with 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary.

Blue cheese and chives tart

  • Replace the goat’s cheese with crumbled blue cheese. Omit the thyme. Scatter a chopped handful of chives over the tart once it is cooked.


Beer Battered Fish with Tartar Sauce

It’s Good Friday, The Flame has left out a pretty decent piece of cod. “It’s fish for tea, we can have it steamed with some roasted veg”. I think not. Within seconds I have decided I’m doing my own chippy tea. A quick check reveals a worthy instruction from Hugh and his mates at River Cottage. It works a treat. Even done in a pan it cooked beautifully. Well worth a go. I knocked up a tartar sauce as well. That was a revelation.


He asks “What makes a good batter? What creates that crisp, savoury, golden coating that seals in all the moisture of the fish it covers?” The answer he reckons is beer. It not only adds lightness to the mixture but adds a nutty, wheaty edge of flavour to the crunch. Beer isn’t the only important element. A good batter needs to have the right consistency: too thick and floury and you’ll end up with a pancakey, chewy result; too thin and it won’t stick to the fish. He reckons the thickness of emulsion paint is what you are after! This recipe is useful because you can use it when you’re deep frying almost any fish or shellfish.

Ingredients – could halve this for two, I had quite a bit over.

200g plain flour
Groundnut oil, including plenty for deep frying. (I used vegetable oil)
About 250ml good beer –- anything really, including stout, but preferably not cheap lager. I used a nice Staffordshire IPA
Mixed fish of your choice. I had a nice piece of cod.
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

Prep 30 mins
Cook 5 mins
Serves 4


To make the batter, sift the flour into a bowl, or put it in a bowl and whisk it (which is almost as effective a way to aerate the flour and remove lumps). Add 2 tablespoons of groundnut oil, then gradually whisk in the beer, stopping when you have a batter with the consistency of thick emulsion paint. Beat it well to get rid of any lumps, season generously, then leave to rest for 30 minutes or so.


Heat the oil in a large, deep, heavy-based pan until it reaches 160°C, or until a cube of bread dropped into it turns golden brown in 1-1½ minutes. I used my digital thermometer. It seemed to work a treat.

Dip your chosen piece of fish into the batter so it is thoroughly immersed, then lift it out and hold it over the bowl for a few seconds so any excess batter drops back in. Now lower the battered fish into the hot oil. Do this one piece at a time, if using large portions, or in small batches for smaller pieces, so as not to crowd the pan.

Fry large pieces of fish for 4–5 minutes, and smaller items, such as squid rings, for 2 minutes or so, until golden brown and crisp. Scoop them out with a wire basket, or ‘spider’, and transfer to a warm dish lined with kitchen paper. Keep them warm while you fry the remaining fish, then serve straight away, with your homemade tartare sauce. (See below)

As well as the obvious fillets of white fish, such as plaice, pollack, coley, cod, haddock and whiting, we’ve had great success with beer-battered dogfish goujons, squid rings, even scallops.

Quick tartare sauce (by Jo Pratt)
200ml/7fl oz mayonnaise
3 tbsp capers, drained and chopped
3 tbsp gherkins, drained and chopped
1 small shallot, finely chopped
squeeze of lemon juice
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

The finished result
The finished result

Preparation method
Mix together all of the ingredients in a small bowl and serve straight away or store in the fridge until needed.

Raised Game Pies – Gordon Ramsay

“Add game to your repertoire and you will open up a whole new world of delicious recipes”

The ingredients (without the eggs, sage & a few other bits)
The ingredients (without the eggs, sage & a few other bits)

I copied this recipe from a Sunday Times magazine years ago. The recipe was by one time golden boy Gordon Ramsay. He’s seems to have had a bit of a rough time of it lately but I reckon he’s still got it. I’ve made these pies a few times and they never fail. As he says in the opening spiel above, mastering game really does open up the flavour stakes. As he also says water crust pastry is easy to make and work with and mastering these pies will ensure you never have a supermarket pork pie ever again!


makes 4

250g mixture of game, such as loin of venison, partridge, pheasant or guinea fowl breasts (I got a tray of mixed game from my local butcher Red Bank Farm)
60g smoked bacon, chopped
200g sausage meat
2 eggs, beaten
1-2 tsp each freshly chopped parsley and sage
Grated zest of half a lemon
5 juniper berries, finely ground
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

for the water crust pastry
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ tsp fine sea salt
1 egg
50g unsalted butter
50g lard
85ml water

Begin by making the pastry. Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl and make a well in the middle. Crack the egg into the middle and sprinkle over some of the flour to cover. Put the butter, lard and water in a small pan over a gentle heat. Once the butter and lard have melted, increase the heat and bring to the boil.

Mixing everything up!
Mixing everything up!

Pour the boiling water and fat around the edge of the bowl and quickly stir in using a palette knife. Knead the dough lightly until smooth, then wrap in clingfilm. Rest in the fridge for at least 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the filling. Trim the game meat of any fat or sinew, then cut into 1cm cubes. Mix with the bacon, sausage meat, one of the beaten eggs, herbs, lemon zest and crushed juniper berries, and season with salt and pepper. Divide into 4 portions and roll into balls.

Reserve one third of the pastry for making the pie lids, wrapped in clingfilm in the fridge. Roll the remaining pastry out on a lightly floured work surface to a 2-3mm thickness. Cut out 4 circles, 14cm in diameter, using a saucer as a template., (I use a cereal bowl) Place a ball of stuffing in the middle of each pastry disc. Press the stuffing gently to flatten at the base slightly.

Making the pies. They might look a mess but they taste awesome!
Making the pies. They might look a mess but they taste awesome!

Roll the reserved pastry to the same thickness as before and cut out 4 lids, 7cm in diameter (I use a cup)  Place a lid over the top of the stuffing. Wet the rim of the larger pastry disc, then mould it up and around the filling to meet the lid. Curl the edge of the lid up to meet the top inside edge of the pie case and press together to seal. Repeat with the others, then chill for about 30 minutes until the pastry feels firm.

A final brush with egg wash.
A final brush with egg wash.

Preheat the oven to 190C/Gas 5. Make a neat steam hole in the centre of each pie lid with a skewer. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the pies from the oven and reduce the temperature to 170C/Gas 3. Brush the pies evenly with the remaining beaten egg, then bake for a further 20-30 minutes until the pastry is cooked and the centre of the pie is piping hot. Allow the pies to cool on a wire rack. Serve warm or at room temperature with piccalilli.


Osso Buco – Braised Veal Shin by Jamie Oliver

Saw this dish first done by Jamie Oliver on his Comfort food programme. I know quite a few serious foodies don’t seem to rate Jamie as a serious chef, but I don’t mind the lad. He knocks out a decent feed, and he doesn’t seem to say ‘pucka’ anymore.

This dish’s primary ingredient, veal shank, is common, relatively cheap and flavorful. Although tough, braising makes it tender. The cut traditionally used for this dish comes from the top of the thigh which has a higher proportion of bone to meat than other meaty cuts of beef. The shank is then cross-cut into sections about 3 cm thick.
Ossobuco or osso buco translates (rather unflatteringly) in Italian for “bone with a hole” (osso bone, buco hole), a reference to the marrow hole at the centre of the cross-cut veal shank.

Two slices fresh from the butcher
Two slices fresh from the butcher

I got two big slices from my local butcher (Nicola at Red Bank Farm Shop) for just under £8.

Although recipes vary, most start by browning the veal shanks in butter after dredging them in flour, while others recommend vegetable oil or lard.The braising liquid is usually a combination of white wine and meat broth flavoured with vegetables.
The traditional accompaniment for the great ossobuco is risotto alla Milanese, commonly known in Italy as risotto allo zafferano – that brilliant yellow saffron risotto. But I couldn’t be bothered doing that and had mashed spuds instead. To be fair this or polenta is a still pretty good as a simple serving suggestion.

Ingredients to serve 4

4 ossobuco, (cross-cut veal shanks, bone in, roughly 1.5kg in total – order in advance from your butcher)
1 whole nutmeg, for grating
plain flour, for dusting
2 knobs of unsalted butter
olive oil
2 onions
2 small carrots
2 cloves of garlic
2 sticks of celery
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary
200 ml Pinot Bianco , or Verdicchio (white wine!)
1 tablespoon tomato purée
1 litre chicken stock
For the gremolata:
2 small cloves of garlic
30 g fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas 4. Season the ossobuco lightly with sea salt, pepper and a grating of nutmeg, then dust them in flour, shaking off any excess. Put your widest ovenproof pan on a medium heat with the butter and a really good lug of oil, then add the ossobuco, making sure they’re not touching each other. Fry for 10 to 15 minutes, or until nicely golden, turning halfway – the more care you put into building up good colour now, the better the depth of flavour will be later.

fry first and get a good colour
fry first and get a good colour

While they’re cooking, peel the onions, carrots and garlic, trim the celery, then finely chop it all with the rosemary leaves. When the veal has browned nicely, remove it to a plate. Drain away most of the fat from the pan, then add all the chopped veg and rosemary and cook for 15 minutes, stirring regularly.

chopping and sweating the veg
chopping and sweating the veg

Pour in the wine and cook it away, then stir in the tomato purée and stock. Bring to the boil, using a wooden spoon to pick up all the sticky goodness from the bottom of the pan, then turn the heat off. Return the meat to the pan, cover with a damp sheet of greaseproof paper and tin foil, then carefully transfer to the middle of the oven. Cook for 2 hours, or until the meat is tender and falling apart – check on it halfway, adding a splash of water, if needed. If there is a lot of liquid I just put back on the hob and reduced it down, keeping the meat warm on a plate in the oven.

The result with the gremolata and the hole in the bone
The result with the gremolata and the hole in the bone

With about 30 minutes to go on the ossobuco, you could start your risotto allo zafferano (or your mashed spuds!) When that’s done, to make a quick gremolata, peel and roughly chop the garlic with the parsley leaves, finely grate over the lemon zest, then chop and mix together until fine. Divide the risotto or mashed potatoes between warm bowls, then place the ossobuco on top. Season the cooking liquor to perfection (loosening with a few splashes of boiling water if needed) and spoon over the top, then scatter over the gremolata – as soon as it hits the heat of the meat it will explode with wonderful fragrant flavour. It’s well worth doing the gremolata, it’s easy to do and gives a real burst. Enjoy

I based my recipe on Jamies link below

Plum Jam – A Sweet Treat

“Hold your Plums…….. And make some Jam”

I came home last week to a rather handsome but somewhat surprising sight. A huge soggy cardboard box of what turned out to be Victoria Plums. Evidently during a recent alcohol infused camping trip I had egged on fellow outdoor chum Keith that I would have all the plums he could muster from his new back garden. So of I went, a plum crumble, stewed plums and cream and finally a couple of batches of plum jam. I’ve only ever made marmalade (see link) but never made jam so the challenge was set. A quick flick on the Country Life website sent me to the following instructions. The result was rather wonderful. 1kg of fruit produced about four jars of the jewelled stickiness. The process is simple and the results seemingly easy to replicate. As a bonus it goes great with my soda bread recipe here.

  •  Ingredients
  • 1 kilo freshly picked plums (halved and stoned)
  • 225 mls water
  • 700 grams caster sugar


Simmer the plums over a mid heat for 20 minutes until the plums are soft and the skin has started to loosen. Make sure you put the water in as well. You don’t want your plums to catch on the hot pan. You’ll end up scraping them with a Brillo pad or the back of a knife!

The plums getting stoned and halved

The plums getting stoned and halved

Whilst this is simmering pop the sugar into the oven to heat up, this will prevent it from crystallising when you add it to the plums. I missed this step one time and it didn’t seem to have any noticeable effect.

After simmering add the caster sugar and cook on a low heat for 15 minutes or until the sugar has dissolved completely. It is very important that no sugar crystals are left in the jam. You can test this by coating the back of a wooden spoon with the mixture, you will be able to see if the sugar has not dissolved.

Turn the heat up and boil rapidly for 10 minutes. I had it on a ‘rolling boil’ so,it wouldn’t boil over. Spoon a little jam onto a cold plate and when the jam cools, push with your finger to see if a crinkly skin has formed, this means it has set, if not, just continue boiling.

Whilst the jam is boiling, don’t be put off by the scum which may appear, a small amount of butter added to the cooling mixture will get rid of most of it. You can skim any remaining off with a spoon.

Testing testing

Testing testing

Leave to cool for 15minutes and pour into hot sterilised jars. Cover with a waxed disk and screw the lid on tightly.

Tip: a simple way to sterilise jars, pour a small amount of water into the jars and boil in the microwave for a couple of minutes.

Place your jams in the larder for a taste of summer on a winter morning.

The final result

The final result