Meatfree Monday – Puy Lentil and Pumpkin Soup

At this time of year, the shops start to fill with pumpkins. Halloween is not far off and millions of pumpkins will be bought to make into Jack O’Lanterns.

You can’t just buy a pumpkin and carve it… you have to DO something with it. Last year I made Pumpkin Soup, flavoured with smoked sweet paprika and drizzled with Chilli Oil

I separated the seeds from the fibrous middle and roasted them with jerk seasoning to make a tasty roasted pumpkin seed snack

This time, though, I wanted to make a soup that would be a meal in itself.

I had a small pumpkin that would be ideal for soup. I also had a craving for something with a bit of spice because I had a cold that was dragging on. I needed a burst of heat in that soup to burn through the fogginess that an autumn cold makes you feel.

I remembered a soup I had seen in the Australian Gourmet Traveller for Green Lentil Soup with Pumpkin and Harissa that would be perfect. My little sister lives in Australia and sends me (if I’m not there to buy a copy) the Gourmet Traveller Annual Cookbook as my Christmas present… the fact it costs way more in postage to send than it costs to buy is neither here nor there – it truly is the magazine I most look forward to getting.

It looked a fabulous recipe. I knew that adding my favourite Puy lentils would add heft to the soup and jazzing it up with Moroccan spices would enliven the whole bowlful.

I chopped two sweet white onions, then put them in a pan to soften with a teaspoon of Maldon Sea Salt.

While they were cooking I halved the small pumpkin I had and scooped out the seeds.

Don’t throw the seeds away, because you can roast them later for a lovely, healthy snack.

I roughly measured half a mug of Puy lentils – now, this is one of my Starbucks City Mugs that roughly hold 20 fl.oz, so the equivalent measurement will be 10 fl oz if you use a Pyrex jug… or, about a full normal coffee mug size. Me? I like coffee so I have a very big mug!

Once the onion has softened and looks translucent, add the lentils and then pour in a mug and a half of water (that’s roughly a pint and a half) and let the onion and lentil mix slowly cook.

Add in a vegetable stock cube for flavour.

While that is gently cooking, start preparing the pumpkin.

The rind of the pumpkin in very hard and I have found that the best way to peel it is to cut the pumpkin into segments and then slice off the rind.

By the time you have it all segmented, the lentils will have started to soften and the colour will have leached out into the water and stock.

Now add in the segmented pumpkin

And then add a tin of chopped plum tomatoes.

Stir it all round and let it simmer gently.

I wanted a bit of heat in the soup and a Moroccan feel so Rose Harissa paste was the obvious choice. You can buy Harissa paste in most supermarkets now – this one has rose petals in it and a deep and complex flavour. It is essentially a chilli paste so add it according to your preference. A teaspoon full will not make it too hot – if you want more heat (and I do) add another.

Stir it in so it blends with the lentils, pumpkin and tomatoes.

I also have some Belazu Pickled Lemons which will add a marvellously sharp-sour element to the rich and earthy soup.

A quick scoop out of the middle of the lemon and the rind is ready for slicing then adding to the soup. I used two small lemons.

And then stir it all round… the pumpkin should have softened, the lentils will be tender and the flavours will have come together to make a deep, rich, spicy soup with sharp overtones

Serve it in a bowl with a spoonful of natural thick yoghurt and a sprinkling of coriander.

And there it was. Steaming perfection in a bowl.

Meatfree and delicious.

5-a-day fruit smoothie

The Met Office is amazing, I’m sure. And if I was out at sea I would value their shipping forecasts… actually, I love them when I am at home – there’s something so soothing about listening to the litany….

“Forties Cromarty:
Mainly north or northwest 3 or 4, increasing 5 or 6 later. slight, increasing moderate later. Occasional rain. Good becoming moderate or poor.

Forth Tyne:
North or northeast backing northwest 3 or 4, increasing 5 at times. smooth or slight, occasionally moderate later. Occasional rain. moderate or good”

What it actually means, of course, I suppose I could puzzle out but it’s enough for me to hear it. Good work, men at the Met.

 But what about yesterday’s forecast? What about all the warnings of minus three degrees? Freezing fog and bitter cold and ice? Reports of road gritters on standby?

I went to bed, thinking about what to cook today, anticipating there would be a need for warming and sustaining food, maybe porridge first thing and something with dumplings later on… and got up to this…

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 033

That’s not freezing fog. Nor is the temperature below freezing. Looks quite bright, actually.

Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 034

So, I think,  we will have a fruit smoothie for breakfast.

I love to give the Bear a smoothie to start his day with – it’s a brilliant way to get extra fruit and vegetables into his diet. I always have a bag of frozen fruit in the freezer, either for putting in his porridge as a treat or for making desserts or smoothies with. We always have banana and yoghurt… and there’s always juice…

I started off making his smoothie with fruit juice to loosen it and then discovered that vegetable juice was a brilliant way to get more of his 5-a-day in… and V8 has just so many things that a Bear would balk at… look at them all

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 045

And do you know what? He doesn’t even notice!

So first of all, get some frozen fruit… half a glass full is about right.

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 038

You’ll need yoghurt, a banana and some juice

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 040

Put the fruit into the blending jug and add a couple of spoonsful of yoghurt

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 042

and a good sloosh of V8

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 043

Then blend….

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 046

Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 047

….. look at how it all goes together…..

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 048

Then pour.

 Pea and ham, fruit smoothie 051

And does he know he is drinking spinach and carrots and tomato with his fruit smoothie? No, he doesn’t. Everything blends together beautifully – the fruit and yoghurt are all he can taste. The V8 stops it being too sweet, really. It is a great improvement on the days when I added fruit juice.

Has he got his fair share of  his 5-a-day? Yes, he has. 

And does he  enjoy it? Yes, he does.

Tandoori Pheasant

 As you may know (if you read my post about Game) I do tend to get my hands on a variety of game birds. The latest to turn up was pheasant.

One of the luxuries of having a ready supply of game is that you can experiment more readily than you would if you can only get  the occasional bird.

About a year ago, I scrawled some notes about a recipe for Partridge Tandoori. I know it was Valentine Warner but when I searched for it online, I couldn’t find it, so I can’t link to it. You’ll have to take my word on it. He had worked out the calorie count as coming in around 329 calories per serving. Well, pheasant would do instead of partridge and it would still be able to feature in the 400 and Under section.

You don’t need a tandoor oven to cook it on – you could use a barbecue, but I think in this weather, it is appropriate to stay indoors and use a griddle pan.

The trick with any tandoori dish is the marinade. The meat (whatever sort you are using) goes into that and stays overnight to absorb the flavour.  If you want this you need to start a day ahead . The only reason it is red is because of red food dye so we can miss that out, I think. So… start with making the marinade

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 033

You’ll need 2 tsp of ground cumin

2 tsp of turmeric

1 and a half teaspoons of ground coriander

1 tbsp of garam masala

Nutmeg – a good grating

1 tsp salt flakes

6 garlic cloves, peeled

Half a small onion

1 red chilli, de seeded

Half a juiced lemon

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 035

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 036

Blitz them all into a fine paste

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 037

Then  add 250 ml yoghurt  – I was using the Total Greek Yoghurt 0%

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 038

and give it a quick blitz but don’t over process it – see it has some texture?

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 041


Put it all into a large bowl. It needs to be large because you are going to put your pheasant in there.

And now for the fun bit. I have some poultry shears, which are big, strong scissors that can snip their way through any bird… if you are going to be doing this sort of thing a lot then it would be a good idea to get some. If not then have at the carcass with a sharp knife – but watch your fingers

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 057

You need to cut the bird, first down the breast bone

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 044

so you have two bits

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 046

and then separate the legs and thighs

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 050


Then, take the skin off… the skin of game birds is not like the sweetly savoury crispy skin you can get on a roasted chicken, so just stick your fingers in there and rip it off. It’s quite easy, really… and besides the skin is already torn from where it was shot.

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 047

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 052


Now then.. you have a plate of naked pheasant, cut neatly (or not)  into pieces.

 Because you are going to marinade the pieces overnight, you want that spicy, yoghurty mix to get into the flesh. Score the breasts and thighs with a sharp knife so that the marinade can get into the flesh.

Really give it a good covering, squishing it about….

lemon glazed cake, tandoori pheasant, toffee vodka 055

and then cover the bowl with cling film and leave overnight.

The next day, wipe your griddle with a piece of kitchen roll and vegetable oil then get it hot. Lift out each piece of pheasant at a time, shaking off the excess marinade and lie it down in the pan.

Tandoori Pheasant 001

Don’t move the pieces around too much because you want them to get a lovely. slightly charred crust…

Tandoori Pheasant 005

It will take maybe 8 or so minutes on each side…..

Tandoori Pheasant 006

Just check that you are happy with the amount of cooking… I quite like it just cooked and tender but you may be different.

All you need to serve it with are some lemon quarters and maybe some naan braed on the side

Tandoori Pheasant 013

That was delicious … and perhaps one of the tastiest ways of eating pheasant.

All that and under 400 calories…. oooh, I feel thinner already!

Chicken Jalfrezi

We have decided on a new regime. We seem, somehow, to have become rounder.

Somewhat stout, actually. We are going to have to go on a diet. Only thing is, we aren’t very good at diets … well we aren’t very good at chewing on celery and raw carrots.

What we thought we could do is eat as if we weren’t on diets but make sure what we do eat is low calorie.

I started to go through magazines looking for recipes that came in at under 400 calories a serving. My thinking behind this was that if we ate sensibly at breakfast and lunch then we could look forward to something nice at supper.

But supper had to be low calorie….. I wanted proper food not some kind of packet.

You can buy packets of ready meals that have the calories counted for you but that wasn’t the way I was going to go.  If I could make sure that each serving was low calorie but still home made and tasty.. well that was the answer.

If it was only 400 calories a serving then that would mean there was still room to bring in a side dish… we could diet and feel as if we were still enjoying ourselves! All I had to do was find some recipes

One of the first recipes I found was Chicken Jalfrezi in Olive magazine, October 2008.

And it was only 250 calories per serving!

That had to be a winner. So, what did we need?

Chicken Jalfrezi 001

A large onion, sliced,

3 cloves of garlic

2-3 green chillies, sliced

Ginger grated

Chicken thighs – 6 cut into chunks

Tomatoes, 5, roughly chopped

Green pepper, chopped into pieces

Coriander – small bunch with the leaves picked off

Yoghurt – small pot

Spice mix

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 cloves , ground
  • Well, you can see in the picture that it is, first and foremost, rather dark. That’s because I was late in from work and despite all the lights being on, it still looks dark.

    You can also see a tin of tomatoes – I forgot to get fresh. Just as I forgot to get fresh garlic and ginger, hence the tubes of puree. Oh, and the pepper is not green but orange.

    Still… everything else is OK……

    Chicken Jalfrezi 002

    First thing.. heat 2 tablespoons of  oil in a pan and add the onion and a good pinch of salt and fry until it is soft and golden, then add the chillies, garlic and ginger and cook for another couple of minutes

    Chicken Jalfrezi 003

    Make the spice mix

    Chicken Jalfrezi 004

    And add it.. I had also put in the stalks of the coriander (they can’t contain many calories, can they? And they do taste nice)

    Chicken Jalfrezi 006

    Cook it all for a couple of minutes to round out the flavour..

    Chicken Jalfrezi 011

    Add the chicken pieces

    Chicken Jalfrezi 012

    And stir round

    Chicken Jalfrezi 013

    Then add a splash of water, the tomatoes and the pepper

    Chicken Jalfrezi 014

    Chicken Jalfrezi 015

    You can now cover the pan and let it cook gently for 30 minutes or so.

    That gives you enough time to go and settle yourself for a while… it had been a long day for me and I was tired. Even so, that wasn’t a lot of work and was surprisingly quick to do….

    The sauce will have started to thicken up by now.. if not then take the lid off for the last ten minutes. If you are using the yoghurt, add it now and stir it in for a creamier sauce. I still had plenty left from the Total Great Greek Yoghurt Experiment, so this was an ideal dish to try it in.

    Chicken Jalfrezi 017

    Chicken Jalfrezi 019

    and add the coriander leaves

    Chicken Jalfrezi 021

    Chicken Jalfrezi 022

    I made steamed basmati rice to go with it….and served it up.

    Even with the rice that had to be less than 500 calories.

    A bowl of ice cream is 500 calories.. and that’s a small bowl. I know what I prefer.

    The Chicken Jalfrezi  was quick and easy to prepare (there was a half hour break in the middle while it cooked) and it was ready and served within the hour. It felt like we were having a real meal….. it certainly didn’t feel like any kind of diet I had been on before. The yoghurt made the sauce taste rich and creamy so there was a definite level of luxury about it all.

    Chicken Jalfrezi 023

    There you go. A way forward out of the diet doldrums. I made that after a long day and it certainly wasn’t difficult but it certainly was delicious.

    400 and Under is the way forward!

    Blueberry yoghurt cake

     I am back at work again, in an office with people I have worked with before. It’s good to work together and I am enjoying myself, even with the large amount of work that we have to get through. There’s laughter and friendliness and they have made me so welcome … so what better way to show them I appreciate them than to bake a cake? We could all have a slice with our coffee or tea and share it with anyone else who comes into our office. (And  maybe I could fatten them up a bit? They are all very slender and I am getting very stout. I need to even things up a bit)

    As I am in the middle of the Great Greek Yoghurt Experiment I could make a cake involving yoghurt! I once had a marvellous recipe for a cake that involved either sour cream or yoghurt and blueberries but I had  let a friend have my copy and it has disappeared for good now. Drat. Let that be a lesson to you – if you ever find a really great recipe, make sure you don’t let someone have your only copy.

    I had to start searching for something similar and found something on one of my favourite blogs, Chocolate & Zucchini, a recipe for a Blueberry Yoghurt Cake. In fact, it wasn’t that similar but it sounded good. Well, it had blueberries in it so it was vaguely similar to the other cake…..this was going to be a light, not overly sugary or sticky cake. Just something that would go well with a cup of tea. There’s a place for over indulgent cakes and sitting at our desks probably isn’t it. A plain cake, as my Granny would call it. Light and moist with blueberries popping up throughout to give a little sharpness and a light crunchy topping of sugar…. that should work for our elevenses.

    Get your cake tin ready – I am using a springform lined with those brilliant paper liners. Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 022

    Then, ingredients  –  yoghurt – about 250 ml (that was most of these two pots and the rest could be eaten later…. 😉 )

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 025

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 027

    200g of sugar

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 026

    2 eggs

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 028

    80 ml of sunflower oil

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 033

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 032
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla paste extract

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 036

    A sloosh of cognac… the recipe said rum but we didn’t have any, so it was either cognac or gin. As I feel gin is necessary as a medicinal measure every now and then, I thought I would use the cognac.

    I’d have to use cognac.

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 038

    That had to be combined gently – no furious beating.

    In the meantime, in a bowl, combine

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 051

    2 cups – (which actually weighed out as 300 g) of plain flour. (I like to use the Italian ’00’ flour as it is ground extra fine and makes beautifully fine and light cakes and smooth sauces as well as marvellous pasta)

    1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and  1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda.

    Make sure they are well mixed together then add that to the cake batter.

    Again, don’t over stir it.

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 044

    Next, frozen blueberries – just before you pour the cake mixture into the cake tin, throw a handful or so of the frozen berries in (if you don’t like blueberries try raspberries)

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 045

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 047

    Then put it all into the cake tin and put that into your oven.

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 062

    Thirty five minutes or so later, have a look  – is it browning nicely?

    Does a skewer come out clean? If not then put it back in for a few more minutes

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 068

    And so… we have a cake.

    woodpigeon, Christmas pud stuffing, blueberryyoghurt cake 090

    Most of it was taken to work, and none of it came home. Make of that what you will.

    Well, make it, will you?

    Fresh Cheese

    When I was young my mother would sometimes make cheese if milk had started to sour. Not a matured cheddar cheese or anything like that but a simple, home-made, fresh cheese, just as people have done all over the world whenever they have had spare or spoiling or leftover dairy products.

    It’s easy enough – all you need is some milk or yoghurt, a sieve, a jug, some salt and some muslin. If you want to flavour it, you can mix in some chopped herbs say, or lemon zest, or garlic.. maybe crushed black peppercorns….. anything at all.

    As part of the Great Greek Yoghurt Experiment I thought I would use some of the yoghurt to make cheese as I need some for another recipe.

    You do need to allow some time for this but don’t worry, it’s not as if you have to be busy with it, hour after hour. Like much else we do, it is a case of starting it off and then leaving it to do its business until we wander back to it.

    So, first of all, get your yoghurt

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 012

    ………and think about what you want your cheese for.

    I want to use it in a recipe that will involve roasted game, thyme and lemon so I will add lemon zest and thyme to it. If you want plain cheese then you make plain cheese – if you want something else then you add it. It really is as simple as that.

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 038

    My balcony herb box is looking a bit battered now but there’s still plenty of thyme.

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 029

    Strip the leaves from it and chop it finely.

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 022

    Get a lemon (make sure that you wash it properly – especially if it is a waxed one. You certainly don’t want wax in your lovely fresh cheese! If it is unwaxed then scrub it just as carefully because you certainly don’t want people’s dirty fingers in your cheese either)

    Get a lemon zester and get some lemon zest (that was a difficult photo to take… clutching the lemon and the zester in one hand as I leant over to take a shot with the other) and then chop the zest finely

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 027

    And now for the important bit – using the yoghurt. This will make lovely, thick, smooth cheese. (If you are using sour milk it will be an awful lot thinner and more lumpy, more like cottage cheese.)

    Total Greek Yoghurt is already strained so it is, to start with, thick and smooth.. look at it….

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 017

    it’s so thick you almost need to cut it.

    Get it into a bowl and then add a pinch or two of salt and the finely chopped thyme and lemon zest

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 031

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 033

    Mix it all together and then….

    …….Get your high tech cheese making equipment together

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 009

    You need a sieve and a jug and some muslin, if you have any

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 008

    I can’t find mine so I bought some new dishcloths – they are tightly woven and at 3 for 25p, a bit of a bargain. Give them a good wash in plenty of hot water, rinsing well to make sure they are clean

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 010

    and line the sieve, which is now placed over the jug

    Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 018

    and then scoop your yoghurty, herby, lemony mix in there.

    Technical, huh?


    Then you put it in the fridge and leave it. You’ll need at least a day, preferably two. I put it in on Friday night and now, Sunday lunchtime, it is perfectly drained. The Total site has a recipe for making much the same cheese – except they add mint and  call it Labna. Just goes to show that wherever you go people make the same food using the same ingredients.

     cheese 016

    Even though it is strained, some whey can still come out… there’ll not be much, though and you will see the yoghurt is becoming more dense. More cream cheese like…

    cheese 017

    cheese 018

    See? It is so dense you can just lift it out of the draining cloth.

    And that’s it… you’ve done it. Perfect cream cheese, flavoured exactly as you want it, made with the simplest ingredients.

    cheese 020

    It’s ready for you to eat now, just as it is. What could be simpler?

    I am going to use this in a couple of things I am making……. and I bet you will want to make them too, so start on your fresh cheese now and catch up with me later!

    The Great Greek Yoghurt Experiment

    Those lovely people at Total Greek Yoghurt sent me a big delivery of yoghurt so that I could try out recipes…..

     Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 006Yoghurt, cheese and chilli oil 012

    Yoghurt has been made for over 4,500 years and is eaten all over the world  – for many adults, milk is hard to digest and yoghurt is perhaps the only way that milk can be consumed. It is only really the North European who generally escape the problems of lactose intolerance and can drink milk with impunity.

    When yoghurt is made, the bacteria in live yoghurt, by breaking down the sugar into lactic acid, makes it easier to digest and even those with lactose intolerance can sometimes eat yoghurt. It’s worth a try if you do suffer….

    And there are so many things you can do with yoghurt  – apart from eating it with honey or fruit and nuts, it makes beautiful moist cakes; it can be used in savoury dishes instead of cream… and it is my mission to work my way through  a variety of recipes and really extend my repertoire.

    Phase one of my first recipe has already been started and tomorrow, all will be revealed. Then of course there are the other things….

    Celeriac gratin

    Celeriac always reminds me of weirdly tentacled aliens from Dr Who. I’m sure there was an alien looking much like this on there once

    vegetables salt and pepper prawns 001

    vegetables salt and pepper prawns 004

    Anyway, it is a tasty old vegetable and makes a good change from potato all the time. It does smell of celery but the taste is more subtle. I mash it sometimes but tonight I am making a quick gratin.

    First of all peel it. I’m usually very strict about using a peeler to take off the bare minimum of skin because that is where so many of the nutrients lie but in the case of gnarly skinned celeriac, well, I am prepared to make an exception.

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 041

    I take a knife and just slice at it. One thing to know about celeriac is that it needs to be cooked, if you are boiling it,  in acidulated water (that is, water that has lemon juice in or, as I tend to do, the squeezed out half of a lemon… moneysaving, eh?) otherwise it starts to blacken. If you are making it into a gratin then just work quickly and expect to see it browning if you aren’t moving fast enough. Get it peeled and slice it….

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 042

    Anyway, lightly butter a baking dish and place the slices of celeriac in – half of them at first

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 043

    I like to add a thinly sliced onion. It adds to the flavour, I think

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 044

    Scatter some salt and a knob of butter, cut into cubes over the slices then add another layer of slices on top

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 045

    More onion and then pour some milk over it all – not much, you don’t want to cover the celeriac, just enough to cook it

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 046

    I would have used cream but I didn’t have any and that was skimmed milk so I added some Greek yoghurt to give it some richness

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 047

    (I make it with EasiYo which is, as the name suggests, an easy way to make yoghurt. I always make the Greek yoghurt with acidopholous in and use it in smoothies and as toppings)

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 048

    A quick shake of white pepper and it is ready for the oven. Cover it with tin foil to keep the moisture in on the first half of the cooking process – that will concentrate the flavour

    noodle prawns, red cabbage, lamb, celeriac 059

    After half an hour take a look – you will see the celeriac has started to soften. Give it a jab with a knife and you will feel the difference

    Rack of lamb, finished celeriac and red cabbage 004

    and after another hour or so? Looking good. It would have been a lot smoother with cream but as we all know, needs must when the devil drives and the important factor is what does it taste like?

    Rack of lamb, finished celeriac and red cabbage 006

    It tasted delicious. And with a lovely bit of rack of lamb? Well, all I can say is that there was nothing left over.

    Breakfast for a Bear

    I do my best to make sure that Bear is fed properly and the most important meal of the day, as my Granny always said, is breakfast.

    What else would I make The Bear, then, but porridge? But it is no good just making him healthy food – it has to be delicious as well….. so here is how to make Porridge for a (sometimes) Grizzly Bear!  This sweetens an early morning start and makes sure he starts the day properly, because boys and mornings aren’t always the best mix

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 002

    First, get your oats….. and your spurtle.

    A spurtle is, as I am sure you are aware, a porridge stirring stick. Surely you have one? And if not, surely you are now inspired to get one? It makes the porridge smooth and creamy…. There’s even a porridge making championship where the winner of the most delicious porridge is awarded The Golden Spurtle.

    Porridge 002

    A tiny pinch of salt added when you put the milk in rounds out the flavour.

    Porridge is all well and good but to make it delicious then you have to add good things to it

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 003

    At the moment, one of the Bear’s favourite things to have in there are sweened, dried cranberries

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 004

    And I always have frozen fruit in the freezer so as the porridge nears the end of the cooking I add a handful of cherries, blueberries, raspberries and redcurrants to the bubbling mix… the heat from the porridge thaws out the fruit to perfection

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 006

    Another gentle stir with the spurtle and you are ready to put it in a bowl

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 007

    … but not quite ready to serve…..

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 008

    A dollop of yoghurt on the top

    And then the finishing touch

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 012

    I used to put syrup on his porridge but I have started using Agave Nectar, which a natural sweetener from the Agave cactus… less calories but really, really gorgeous, rich and deep, sweet and delicious

    Bear's breakfast, slow roast pork 010

    So there you have it.. healthy and delicious. Guaranteed to feed even the hungriest Bear and keep him going for hours.

    And it takes maybe 5 minutes to make. Oh the brownie points you can score with this…..