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For those of you thinking of taking one of our cooking courses, we'd like to introduce you to your cookery trainer. Milly Rees moved to Shropshire in 1997 and runs workshops and demonstrations, caters, and cooks in our Cafe if we need a helping hand. Each Tuesday she will provide a recipe, cooking tip or introduce an ingredient which will hopefully fire your enthusiasm for cooking. Look within this section of our website for courses that you can take with her.

This is Milly's favourite lentil soup for flavour and also for its simplicity. She recently made it on her return from Devon as she had nothing in the fridge; a very satisfying bowlful after 2 weeks of scrappy holiday fare.

Lebanese lentil Soup

Nb. This time I used pickled lemons and frozen coriander in place of fresh

1 x 425g tine of plum tomatoes or 4 large fresh tomatoes, skinned, deseeded and chopped

2 onions, finely chopped                                                               5 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger                                                        1 lemon (or 2 sections of chopped preserved lemon, skin only)

1 tbsp. ground cumin                                                                    300g red lentils

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper                                                                1 litre veg or chicken stock

Salt                                                                                               fresh or frozen coriander (optional)

Heat a little oil in a large pan and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook gently for 5 minutes.

Add the cumin, cayenne and a good pinch of salt. Stir for a minute.

Add the lentils, tomatoes and 4 slices of lemon (or preserved lemon). Add the stock.
Stir and simmer with the lid on for about 30 minutes. Add more liquid as desired.
Stir in some chopped coriander and top with a slice or two of lemon.

 Click here to download this recipe.


Braised and barbequed short ribs

This is a great way of serving these meaty ribs but you need to know that they are cooked the day before you want to barbeque them. If the weather turns to rain, don’t worry as the ribs are delicious simply braised. In this case, make them the day before and let them cool over night so that you can skim off the fat and reduce the sauce a bit before adding the other ingredients.
Serves 6

6 short ribs (your butcher might cut them in half if you like)                 Butter/oil
Salt, pepper                                                                                          Dijon Mustard
2 red onions                                                                                         Tomato ketchup 
2 carrots                                                                                                Honey
1 fennel bulb                                                                                          Worcester sauce
A few sprigs of thyme
A bottle of ale

  • Season and brown the ribs in a large frying pan and set aside.
  • Chop up the veg and fry gently for a few minutes in some butter and oil. Transfer to a roasting pan or slow cooker. Top with the ribs and tuck some herbs around them.
  • Pour the bottle of ale into the pan and swirl it around. Scrape and pour it onto the ribs.
  • Cover tightly with foil if oven baking and cook at about 160 degrees for a minimum of 3 hours or let them gently cook in a slow cooker for up to 6 hours.
  • When they are nice and soft, lift out the ribs into a bowl and get them cool as quickly as possible and store in the fridge till the next day.
  • When the cooking liquid has cooled a little (or the next day) skim off some fat and then boil it up in a small pan. Reduce by half and add a squirt of ketchup, a spoon full of honey, a few dashes of Worcester and a good spoonful of mustard. This is the sauce you can baste the ribs with when you barbeque them. Taste the sauce to make sure it is flavoursome.

Click here to download this recipe.


Bubble Mixture and Wands

Yesterday the Centre was represented at the Craven Arms Play Day and we came with homemade bubble mixture and wands. As a quick start you can simply dilute washing up liquid. But if you want to make large bubbles and bubble films, here are two recipes.

Mixture 1. Put 200 ml of warm water into a measuring jug. Stir in a tablespoon of sugar until the sugar has dissolved. Add 50 ml of standard washing up liquid or 30 ml of more concentrated washing up liquid to the water. Stir in a tablespoon of glycerin. Finally, add 300ml of water into the mixture and stir well.

Mixture 2. Put 500ml water into a container. Add 50 ml of standard washing up liquid or 30 ml of more concentrated washing up liquid to the water to the container. Stir in a tablespoon of baking powder. If you keep this solution undisturbed for 24 hours, you will find it performs better.

Homemade Wands.

  • Take a small drinks/water bottle and unscrew the top and cut off the bottom. Dip the cut end in the bubble solution.
    • To get small bubbles stretch fruit/vegetable netting over the cut end before dipping and blowing.
  • Take a straw and cut it in half. Thread the two halves onto a piece of wool or string 50 cm long and tie the ends together. Dip it in your bubble solution, holding it by the straws, pull it through the air and form a big bubble; blow through to make smaller bubbles; have someone else blow a bubble and catch it and bounce it on the film of your string and straw wand.

Click here to download this recipe.


A tasty way to use up any that are still in your freezer since last July or perhaps you are lucky enough to have another bumper crop this summer. I’ve written the recipe in ‘Old Money’ as it looks better and makes more sense.

Gooseberry Chutney
Makes about 4lbs

3lbs gooseberries, topped and tailed
1 pint white vinegar
12oz mixed raisins and chopped dates
8oz onions chopped
8oz light brown sugar
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp ground ginger (or fresh)
1 tsp mixed spices
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped (optional)

Place gooseberries and onions into a heavy bottomed saucepan with just enough water to stop it burning.
Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally and boil for about 20 minutes.
Remove from the boil and add all the other ingredients. Stir the sugar until it has dissolved before returning to the heat.
Once it has returned to the boil, simmer until it has become thick, stirring as necessary. Pot it up and store for 3 weeks before using.

Click here to download this recipe.

There is lots of chard on my allotment - it is almost a weed there, so this recipe of Milly's is becoming one of my 'go to' recipes.

Spinach and walnut pasties

250g flour - plain or wholewheat.
175g butter or a mix of butter and veg lard, chilled and cut into cubes
Pinch of salt 1 beaten egg to glaze

700g spinach or chard or a mix of the two.
6 spring onions
75g walnuts
175g cottage cheese
50g grated parmesan
1 clove garlic, crushed
A little butter
Grated nutmeg
Juice of half a lemon
Salt and pepper

Make the pastry by rubbing the fat into the flour. Add the salt and then sprinkle on enough cold water to make a dough. Chill while you make the filling.
Turn the oven to 200 degrees.
Wash the spinach if necessary. Chop the onions and walnuts.
Wilt the spinach in a saucepan with no added water, turning the leaves occasionally. Drain in a colander and when cool enough squeeze out any excess water.
Chop and put in a bowl.
Melt the butter and gently fry the onion, garlic and walnuts. Put into the bowl with the spinach and stir in the cheeses. Add the nutmeg, lemon juice and seasoning.
Roll out the pastry and cut into 8 15cm rounds. Divide the filling between the rounds. Moisten the edges and fold into semi circles and firmly seal with your fingers or with the
     prongs of a fork.
Brush with the beaten egg and bake on greaseproof lines baking sheets for 20-25 minutes.

Click here to download this recipe.

Apricot and pistachio tart

This is a recipe taken from a wonderful entitled ‘Salt’ by Shaun Hill (of local fame) and he chose to
keep the imperial measurements so I have followed his example. No need for blind baking here but
keep the pastry thin and bake on the middle oven shelves.

1 x 11 inch tart tin lined with sweet shortcrust pastry
5 oz shelled pistachios – plus a few for scattering
3 oz blanched almonds
1 ½ ounces flour
8 oz butter (room temp)
8 oz caster sugar
4 eggs
About 10 ripe apricots

Blend the pistachios, almonds and flour in a food processor until like breadcrumbs.
Cream together the butter and sugar before beating in the eggs one at a time.
Add the nut mixture and mix well. Spoon the mixture into the unbaked pastry shell and chill for 2
Pre-heat oven to 175 degrees and arrange the apricot halves, cut side down on top of the mixture.
Scatter the remaining chopped nuts and bake for 40 minutes. Rest the tart for 20 minutes before

Click here to download this recipe


A great cold meal for the next time the temperatures peak.

Chilled Summer Kedgeree
This recipe works very well with left over scraps of salmon, trout or even smoked salmon if you happen to find yourself with some.
Serves 4

500g undyed smoked haddock (originally it would have been bright yellow!)
300g salmon (this is my addition as salmon was food for Kings back then)
175g long-grain rice or basmati (the old recipe used ‘patna’ rice)
3 hard boiled eggs, chopped
A couple of handfuls of prawns
Juice and rind of a lemon
200ml single cream
A bunch of parsley, chopped
A small bunch of chives, snipped small
Tin of anchovies (you may not want to use all)
Salt and pepper

Cook the fish by pouring a enough boiling water over it to cover and throw in a few parsley stalks and some pepper-corns. Simmer very gently for ten minutes and save the water for cooking the rice. Flake the fish into a bowl and leave to get cold. If your prawns are raw rather than pre-cooked you can cook them for five minutes along with the fish then remove the shells when cool enough to handle. Reserve the milk in case you want to moisten the dish at the end.

Cook the rice using 600ml water, adding more if necessary. Cool it quickly so as not to let it overcook. Mix together with all the other ingredients and chill. You can lay the anchovy fillets on top to get the retro 1970s feel or chop and mix in.

Click here to download the recipe.


Here is a summer recipe for a really juicy cut of lamb.

Rump of lamb

1 rump is usually a bit big for one (my husband disagrees!) so I would say that one rump would feed two as part of two or three course meal. Or you could say two rumps easily feeds a family of 2 adults and 2 children. You could dispense with the marinade stage but I like to give it at least a couple of hours sitting in a bath of flavour.

2 rumps of lamb
6 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced into slivers
Anchovy paste or 4 anchovy fillets from a tin cut into pieces  (you can freeze what you don’t use)
2 glasses of white wine
Salt and pepper
2 teaspoons of mild mustard
Redcurrant jelly

Plunge the point of a knife into the rumps a few times and force in some slivers of garlic and the anchovy. Put the rumps into a bowl or plastic bag with the wine and sprigs of rosemary. Leave in the fridge preferably overnight.

1 ½  hour before you want to eat take the rumps out to de-chill.

45 to an hour before you want to eat, turn on oven to 200 degrees.  Wipe the rumps with kitchen paper, (reserve the marinade) season with salt and pepper and sear in a hot frying pan, fat side first. You don’t need oil if you sear the fat side first. The searing will take about 15 minutes.

Put them in a roasting tin and roast for ½ an hour.  They might need a few minutes longer if they are particularly big. Cut a slice to check.  Wrap in foil and let them rest while you make a gravy in the frying pan you used. Use  the marinade and a little more liquid. Stir in the mustard and maybe some redcurrant jelly.

Slice the rumps thickly.

Click here to download this recipe.


In the Onny meadows and along most of the roads you can see elderflowers, here is a recipe for Elderflower cordial so that you can bottle some of the springtime.

Elderflower cordial

Collect your flowers on a fine day. Use scissors to snip the flower heads into a bag or basket and be careful not to knock off the pollen – It’s the pollen that has the fragrance.


  • 20 elderflower heads
  • 1.7litres/3 pints boiling water
  • 900g/2lb  sugar
  • 30g tartaric acid (available from our local Tuffins)
  • 2 unwaxed oranges, sliced
  • 3 unwaxed lemons, sliced


  1. Pour the boiling water over the sugar in a very large mixing    bowl. Stir well.
  2. Add the tartaric acid, the orange and lemon slices, and then snip  the flowers from the heads into the bowl. Stir then cover with  a tea towel.
  3. Leave in a cool place for 24 hours.
  4. Strain through some muslin and transfer to containers. I use plastic and freeze them, keeping one on the go in the fridge. Dilute to taste.  The cordial makes a lovely sorbet and is a delicious flavouring for cakes and puddings etc.

Click here to download this recipe.


Freaky Brownies

This recipe uses milled Freekeh instead of flour.  “Why?”  You might ask. Well, I had some left over from making a polenta style dish and thought it was worth experimenting.  The result is a batch of soft, brownie-ish squares which went down very well this weekend with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. So feel free to muck about with this recipe as it still a work in progress.

Freekeh is a wholewheat grain which due to its process, is high in protein and other good things. It has a comforting, malty taste.

250g ground freekeh grains                                                      100g white chocolate, chopped
600ml water                                                                             200g light brown sugar
½ tsp salt                                                                                1/2tsp cinnamon
1tbsp cocoa                                                                             ½ tsp baking powder
100g rolled oats or oat bran                                                       2 eggs, beaten
100g butter or coconut oil

Cook  the freekeh in a saucepan with the water and salt for 2 minutes until it feels soft and looks like porridge. Allow it to cool a little.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and line a brownie or Swiss Roll tin with baking paper.

Melt the butter with the brown sugar. Stir in the cocoa. Tip this into the freekeh pan with the cinnamon, eggs, oats, white chocolate and lastly the baking powder. The mixture should be sloppy.

Tip it into the tin and spread it around and bake for about 30 minutes. Leave to cool in the tin before cutting into squares. (That said, we cut it when it was still warm and ate the whole lot between the 6 of us)

Click here to download this recipe.



Makes 15

1Kg strong white flour

2tsp salt

7g dry yeast

2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp vegetable oil

500ml warm water

2 tbsp malt or sugar for poaching the bagels


1 Combine flour, salt. Mix yeast into water and whisk in the oil and sugar then add to flour and make a dough.

2 Knead the dough for up to 10 minutes. The stiffer it is the better. Put into an oiled warm bowl and cover with cling film.

3 After an hour punch it down and knead for a couple of minutes. Divide into three and roll into ropes. Cut each rope into 5 and roll each piece into a ball. Roll each ball into another rope and curl to form a ring. Pinch the overlapping ends.

4 Leave under a cloth for 20 mins.  Heat water in a frying pan and add the malt or sugar. Bring to the boil. Drop in 2 bagels and boil for 1 minute, turning once. Place back on an oiled baking sheet, well spaced and bake for 10-15 minutes.

Click here to down load recipe.


Roast Pepper Dip

This is a delicious way of using sweet peppers and you can make it as fiery or mild as you like. You could make it more substantial by adding chick peas or white beans but remember that this will dilute the flavours. Enjoy as a starter with plenty of pitta or think of it as a glorious relish to spice up pretty much anything. Goes very well with fried eggs!

4 large red peppers or a bag of mixed small peppers.
250ml olive oil
6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
75g walnuts, toasted or dry fried for a few minutes
75g breadcrumbs or crumbled bread without the crusts
Juice of 2 lemons
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp honey
1 tsp finely chopped red chilli (or less)
Salt and black pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Cut large peppers in half and remove the ribs and seed or leave smaller ones whole. Coat with a little of the oil. Bake until blackened and remove as much skin as possible.

Put everything in a food processor while the peppers are still warm and blitz until smooth. Taste and season.

Serve straight away or store in the fridge but it’s much better if you can take it out of the fridge to un-chill before eating.

Click here to download the recipe.


This tasty recipe is based on one of Nigella’ s and it knocks spots off bought brands.  If you want to increase the heat, use small red chillies or extra chilli powder instead if the long, mild red chillies. If you haven’t got red wine vinegar then just use whatever you have.

Rhubarb Ketchup

1 kg Rhubard                                                    1 tblsp ground ginger
5 small red onion, peeled and                             1 tblsp paprika
2 long red chillies, de-seeded                             200g sultanas
2 garlic cloves                                                  50ml red wine viegar
2 garlic cloves                                                  1 tblsp salt
2 apples, peeled and chopped                            1 kg brown sugar
1 thumb sized piece of ginger,
     peeled and chopped

Trim and roughly chop the rhubarb. Tip it into a large pan. Put the onions, apple and spices into a food processor and blend until finely chopped and mixed. Tip this along with everything else into the pan with the rhubarb. Simmer for at least 45 minutes to an hour until the pulp has stopped looking watery.

Let it cool for a while then blend with a stick blender or use your processor again.

Pour into warmed, sterilised jars or wide necked bottles. Best after a couple of weeks. Store in a cool place for months.

Click here to download this recipe.


An unusual recipe for this page but one that was in demand from our weekend at the Ludlow Food Festival. Hope you will enjoy trying this at home.


4 tablespoons of flour
2 tablespoons of salt
1 teaspoon of cream of tartar
1 teaspoon and a bit of oil
2.5 oz of water
drop or two of food dye (optional)
teaspoon of an aromatic spice (optional)

Heat on stove, stirring constantly, until looking like playdough, only takes a few minutes

Cool and kneed

Click here to download the recipe.


Why wait till the summer holidays to get a taste of the seaside? 

Mussels in minutes

Serves 2

1 bag of mussels
1 shallot or small red onion, finely chopped
2 glasses of white wine
Small bunch of chopped parsley
Black pepper
1 small clove garlic, crushed


Firstly, run a cold tap over the bag of mussels to blast them with water. Discard any that are broken or not closed after this.

Take a large pan and add the mussels, shallot, most of the parsley and put on the lid. Steam them over a high heat for 4 or 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, crush the garlic and mix with the mayonnaise.

When the mussels have opened, tip everything into a sieve over a bowl to catch the liquid. Ladle all but the last little bit (to avoid grit) back into the pan. Bubble for a minute and then stir in some small lumps of butter. Add a few twists of pepper and the rest of the parsley.

Share out the shell fish between two bowls, tip over the cooking liquid and serve with a spoonful of garlic mayonnaise and plenty of crusty bread.

NB To spice things up use coriander instead of parley and stir in a little curry paste with the mussels before they steam. Maybe crème fraiche or natural yogurt in place of the mayonnaise....

Click here to download this recipe.


A pesto which will have you out in nature. Taken from the Woodland Trust.

Wild Garlic Pesto

Always follow our sustainable foraging guidelines
Carefully pick the leaves from close to the ground being careful to leave the bulbs inthe soil for next year
Pick healthy leaves that are long and bright in colour!
he best way to check that what you’ve picked is wild garlic is to crush the leaves in your palm and take a good sniff. If it smells like garlic, then you’ve picked the right plant


100g wild garlic leaves
50g parmesan cheese
50g toasted pine nuts
1-2 tablespoons of olive oil
lemon juice
salt and Pepper


Wash wild garlic leaves thoroughly.

Place the leaves, parmesan, olive oil and nuts into a food processor and blitz. You could also do this with a pestle and mortar if you want to be more traditional.

Add further oil if you wish to have a thinner texture and mix.

Add in your salt, pepper, and lemon juice to taste.

Wild garlic pesto is fantastic mixed with fresh pasta for a simple dish but its great on its own for dipping your favourite nibbles into.

Click here to download this recipe.

Here is a fresh and healthy meal for Spring.

Turkey and lemongrass meatballs

Serves 4

500g turkey mince
4 spring onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed and finely chopped
1 tbsp grated ginger
2 lemon grass stems, outer leaves removed and central section finely chopped
1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped
1 tbsp soy sauce plus extra for serving.
½ tbsp runny honey
3 tbsp semolina
1 egg

Oil for frying

Juice of an orange plus a little water


If you have a food  processor then just blitz everything a couple of time. Otherwise, just make sure everything is finely chopped and thoroughly mixed.

Heat oven to 160 degrees and put a dish in to warm.

With wet hands form the turkey mixture into walnut size balls and chill for half an hour or until needed.

Shallow fry in small batches and keep warm in the oven until all the turkey balls are ready. 

Deglaze the pan with the orange juice and water and a good dash of soy sauce and tip this over the meatballs. Serve with rice or noodles and wilted greens.

Click here to download this recipe.


Shropshire asparagus is just breaking through now so here is a refreshing, post-chocolate salad for after Easter.

Asparagus salad with hazelnut and orange

Serves 6 

Can be a side salad or starter

2 handfuls of fine asparagus spears, 2 handfuls of mange tout, 2 handfuls of samphire or fine beans, a small bunch of tarragon
2 handfuls of baby new potatoes (optional)
70g unskinned hazelnuts
1 orange
Small handful of chives
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp nut oil
1tsp French mustard
Salt and pepper


Toast the hazelnuts and rub off the skins.

Boil the baby new potatoes with mint if using. Drain and cool.

Blanch the vegetables. Nb the mange tout only takes a minute. Refresh and drain.

Chop the nuts and zest the orange. Mix the dressing in a large bowl with the orange juice and mix in with the veg, potatoes and tarragon. Taste and season.  Quickly fry the croutons in a little olive oil and sprinkle on and serve.

Click here to download this recipe.


Another delicious recipe from Milly's Better Baking course.

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins

Makes about 6 large muffins

Finely grated zest and juice of 2 lemons
140g caster sugar
75ml sunflower oil
1 tbsp Greek yogurt
2 large eggs
1tbl poppy seeds
200g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the glaze
Juice from 2 lemons
100g icing sugar

Heat the oven to 180 degrees and place 6 paper cases into a muffin tray.

Using a whisk, beat the zest with the sugar, oil, yogurt and eggs until pale and thickish. Stir in the juice and poppy seeds. Sift in the flour and raising agents fold sparingly until barely combined.

Spoon into the cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Mix together the glaze and spoon over the muffins while still hot.

Let the muffins cool completely before eating.

Click here to download this recipe.


A rich creamy treat with which to impress.

Creme Brulee

The pots are made on day one and topped on the second day.

300ml double cream
60ml whole milk
1 heaped tblsp caster sugar
1 vanilla pod or 1 capful of essence
4 large egg yolks

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. You will need 4 or 5 ramekins and some extra caster sugar for the topping.

Warm the cream with the split vanilla pod until scalded but not boiling.

Meanwhile, whisk the sugar with yolks until pale and frothy.

Tip the hot cream on to the yolks and mix well.

Put the bowl in a pan of simmering water and stir continuously with a rubber spatula until the custard mixture begins to thicken. Scoop out the pod.  If you are using essence, add it now.

Pour into ramekins and put these into a dish. Surround with enough near-boiling water to come half way up the pots and put into the middle of  oven for 10 minutes. The mixture will still wobble but will have formed a skin.

Leave to cool and put in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the grill to top setting. Sieve a thin layer of caster sugar over the top and put under the grill to caramelise. Keep a close eye on things and turn the pots if necessary.

Click here to download this recipe.


Now here's a creative challenge for you - rough puff pastry which has so many delicious uses eg sausage rolls, tops for pies, apple turnovers etc.

Rough Puff Pastry

250g plain flour
250g butter or a mix of butter and vegetable shortening (chilled)
Good pinch of salt
Cold water and juice of half a lemon

Put the flour in a large bowl.

Put aside a generous1/3 of the fat then using a cheese grater, grate the rest of the fat onto the flour. Use a blunt knife to cut the fat in but don’t overdo it. You need to see lumps!

Add the lemon juice and enough water to bind it.

Roll out and use grater to grate ½ the remaining fat onto the top 2/3 of the rectangle then fold the dough to capture layers of fat.

Turn and roll out and grate on the rest of the fat. Turn and roll again. Wrap and put in fridge. When you want to use it roll out, fold and turn once more.

Click here to download the recipe. 


Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12

450g strong white flour                                               270ml milk
7 g sachet of fast action yeast                                   60g brown sugar
175g mixed dried fruit and peel                                   60g butter (softened)
1/2 tsp salt                                                               2tsp mixed spice
2 eggs

Use 2tbsp milk and 2 tbsp sugar for the glaze. A paste can be made for crosses by mixing 3 tblsp flour with a little butter and water.


1 Warm the milk to about body temperature.

2 Mix the flour in a bowl with the salt, yeast, sugar and spices.

3 Add the softened butter, eggs and milk and mix to a soft dough.

4 Add the fruit and mix well before covering with a cloth and leaving to settle for 10 minutes. Then scoop it out of the bowl and knead on a floury surface for 5 minutes. Clean and lightly oil the bowl. Form the dough into a ball. Return to the bowl and leave covered in a warm place for an hour.

5 Knock back the dough and form into balls. Place on a greased tray so that they are nearly touching. Leave for 40 minutes. Turn on the oven after half an hour. Mix the paste for the crosses.

6 When risen, use a skewer or knife to indent the shape of a cross and lay the paste into the indents.

7 Bake at 200 degrees for 15-20minutes. Just before the buns are cooked, boil up the glaze to make a syrup and brush over the buns twice.

Click here to download this recipe.

Olive Oil and Potato Focaccia

Don’t be alarmed to read that this very soft bread dough stays in the bowl, is stretched more than kneaded and has a grated potato in it. The result is moist and chewy with an open texture. Timings are a rough guide as you can make them fit around what you are doing at home

350g strong flour                                             275 ml warm water
1 tsp fine sea salt                                           Coarse sea sale
1 tsp easy blend yeast                                    Olive Oil
1 medium potato, peeled                                 Fresh rosemary or thyme

Scald a large bowl with boiling water and add flour, salt and yeast.

Grate in the potato and mix. Pour in the water until you have a very soft dough. Cover and leave for 10 mins.

Pour some olive oil over the dough and some on your hands.  Now while rotating the bowl lift the dough up 8 times to stretch it with your oily hand. Leave for half an hour or so (longer doesn’t matter, just make it fit in with your day) and repeat the stretching again. Do twice more over the next hour then leave covered for 30 mins.

Turn out on to an oiled surface and stretch it into a rough rectangle and fold it over like a business letter, then stretch it to form a rough rectangle again.

Place it in a well oiled rectangular baking tray and squash it down with your fingers and push little bits of rosemary into the dough. Leave for thirty mins in a warm place or for hours in the fridge.

 When ready to bake top with more oil, push the dimples where the rosemary (or thyme) has been place and sprinkle with salt crystals .

Bake for 20 mins at 220 degrees then turn down heat to 200 degrees for a further 10 mins

Click here to download this recipe.


One of the things that come with the spring is lovely pink rhubard.

Rhubarb, cardamom and ginger parfait

You will only need 500g rhubarb for the parfait but do make extra and put it on your pancakes or yogurt.

For the rhubarb compote

800g trimmed rhubarb
1 inch ginger, peeled and finely chopped
250g caster sugar

Put everything in an oven proof dish and cover loosely with foil. Bake at 180 degrees for about half an hour or until just nicely soft and juicy. Allow to cool completely and chill ready to use in the parfait.

To make the parfait

110ml milk
200ml double cream
4 cardamom pods
6 egg yolks

120g sugar
3 egg whites
½ tsp vinegar or lemon juice

Heat the milk, cream and cardamom pods together until scalded but not boiling. Leave to infuse for 10 minutes.

Beat the yolks with 60g of the sugar until creamy. Add the creamy milk to the eggs and stir well. Return to the pan and gently reheat until it begins to thicken. Be very careful not to let it get too hot. It should not be allowed to boil or you will find you have scrambled the eggs.

Strain through a sieve and let the custard cool in a bowl.  Transfer to the fridge as soon as possible to chill it well.

When the custard is really cold, whisk the egg whites with the vinegar until stiff. Add the rest of the sugar and whisk again.

Click here to download the recipe. 


Something tangy for a 'Cooking Tuesday'.

Pickled lemons

This is a favourite ingredient of many North African and Middle Eastern dishes. I like to make a batch at this time of year while lemons are cheap and the pickle will be ready to kick start Spring dishes and salads.  After it has been stored for a month, rinse the lemon wedges as needed and scrape off the pulp so that only the rind is used. A little goes a long way as the flavour is good and punchy.

Sterilise a bottling jar and tip a little salt into the base. Partly quarter as many lemons as you think you can fit into the jar but don’t cut them all the way through. They should look a little like tulips. Cram salt into the middle of each lemon (about 1 ½ tsp each) and squash into the jar, packing them down.

Cut two batons from wooden skewers or orange sticks and make a cross that just fits under the neck of the jar. This is a bit of a fiddle but it keeps the fruit submerged. Fill the jar with lemon juice or cold brine, made by dissolving 30g of salt in 300ml of boiling water then left to cool.

Fill the jar and close the lid. Once opened, store in the fridge. Seems to keep for months.

Click here to download this recipe.

Do something creative and enjoyable with your children this half-term and make Butter in a Jar.

Fill a sterile  jar half full with room temperature double cream.

Put the lid on tight.

Start to shake. First the cream will cover the sides of the jar; in a little while you will no longer be able to feel or hear the liquid sloshing in the jar, keep shaking. Finally after about 5 miutes you will feel the ‘thunk’ of the butter hitting the sides of the jar and the sides of the jar will clear.

Keep the buttermilk  for baking you are now going to pour off and then spoon out the butter. Rinse your butter under cold water, knead it a little as you rinse it.   This will remove the last of the buttermilk and will prevent your butter from going rancid quickly.

Your butter is ready, enjoy!

Click here to download this recipe.


This recipe fits the bill for Valentines Day and gluten free cookery. 
Feel the love...

Gluten Free Chocolate Muffins

These muffins are full of loveliness whether you use a heart shaped case or not – which is an important message I think!

Makes 8

50g cornflour
3 tablespoons g/f cocoa
100g dark brown sugar
225ml water
125g  dark chocolate
75g butter
75ml sunflower oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
125g caster sugar
125g rice flour plus 1tsp g/f baking powder (or g/f self raising flour)

Heat oven to 180 degrees

Place the cornflour, cocoa, brown sugar and water in a saucepan and whisk over a medium heat until boiling.

Remove from heat and beat in the butter and chocolate until smooth. Add the oil, vanilla and one of the eggs. Beat again. Add the other egg with the caster sugar. Beat again then sift in the flour. Combine thoroughly.

Spoon or pour the mixture into muffin cases and bake for 20-25 minutes.

Click here to download this recipe.

Chicken Chasseur

This is such a classic dish and straightforward to produce. But the success of it depends on how well you have softened your onions and reduced the liquid. The tarragon makes it special so accept no substitutes!

6 skin-on chicken thighs (or use breast fillets)
200g mushrooms
1 onion
100ml white wine
350ml stock
2 tomatoes
Small bunch tarragon
Oil/butter for frying
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 100 degrees

Saute the chicken pieces until golden. Place on a dish. Cover and place in the oven until needed.

Peel and finely dice the onion and slice the mushrooms.

Sweat the onion until soft then add the mushrooms. Cook gently for a few minutes.

Add the wine and then the stock. Reduce by half.

Meanwhile blanche, skin and deseed the tomatoes. Chop them then add to the onions. Add the tarragon leaves.

Check for seasoning. Remove the chicken from the oven and serve with the sauce.

Click here to download this recipe.


I found this recipe in a newspaper cutting and have fallen in love with the sweet spice mix. I make double quantities so I have plenty for other baking days and it has found its way into cookies, custards tarts and eggnogs! Of course you could just use bought mixed spice but it misses the cardamom I think

Figgy Loaf with sweet spice

For the spice mix

10 cardamom pods                                             1 tsp coriander seeds
8 cloves                                                            3 tsp ground ginger
½ nutmeg                                                          4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp fennel seeds

For the loaf

120ml milk                                                          4 tsp sweet spice or bought mixed spice
120g honey                                                         ½ tsp salt
50g butter                                                           80g walnuts, chopped
80g caster sugar                                                 80g chopped figs
80g Muscovado sugar                                         80g candied peel         
250g spelt flour                                                   Zest of half an orange
1 tsp baking powder                                             2 eggs, beaten
Demerara sugar for sprinkling

To make the sweet spice, put the whole spices into a dry frying pan and gently toast before grinding to a powder. When cool, add the other ground spices and store in an air tight container.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Line a loaf tin.

Warm the milk, honey, sugars and butter in a large pan until the sugars are dissolved.

Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and baking powder. Add 4 tsp of the spice mix and salt.

Add the candied peel, walnuts, figs and orange zest. Add the egg and pour the batter into the loaf tin.

Sprinkle with Demerara sugar and bake for about an hour, turning half way through to bake evenly.

Allow the cake to cool in the tin. Serve it sliced thickly with butter or toast thick slices and eat it with butter and marmalade. (look one recipe down for the marmalade recipe!)

Click here to download this recipe.

Assuming you have the spices to hand, seafood and fish curries are so much quicker to make than meat versions. Although I do love rice, if you just wilt some spinach in less than a minute in the microwave or in a pan you get a carb-free, super healthy dish on your plate in less than 15 minutes. Feel free to add some prawns!

Fish Curry

1 fresh green chilli                                1 tin of cherry tomatoes (or use fresh)
1 thumb size piece of ginger, peeled      1/2 tine full fat coconut milk
1 onion                                                1/2 tsp sea salt
Vegetable or coconut oil                       400g firm, white fish, no skin
2 tsp mustard seeds                            1 heaped tbslp tamarind paste
1 tsp fenugreek seeds                         1 bag baby spinach
1 tsp chilli powder                               Coriander leaves
1 tsp turmeric

Deseed and slice the chilli. Finely chop or grate the ginger. Finely chop the onion.

Heat a good glug of oil and drop in the mustard seeds. When you can hear them pop, add the fenugreek, chilli and ginger.

Fry for a minute and then add the onion. Stir and fry for 5 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the chilli and turmeric and then the tomatoes.

Bring back to simmering before pouring in the coconut milk. (the leftover coconut milk will freeze for another time)

Bring the sauce back to heat before adding the fish, tamarind and sea salt.  Simmer for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked. Either stir in the spinach or cook this separately to make a bed for the curry.

When the fish is cooked, serve with a sprinkling of coriander leaves.

Click here to download this recipe.


Back by popular demand, Milly's whole orange marmalade

Whole Orange Marmalade

Personal tastes dictate which recipe you end up using year after year. I  am a bit of a Goldilocks about it all as I like my shred not too chunky but not too fine. I want the jelly not too dark but not too light and I want it not too firm but not too runny.

Whatever recipe you use, I would say the most important aspect is getting the shred really soft in the first place. Tough or rubbery shred is very disappointing. Also, do not think you can get away with less sugar than your recipe suggests. You can’t! And I speak as one who has tried in the past and regretted it.

I like to boil the oranges whole rather than cut them up first. If you haven’t got quite enough Seville oranges there is no harm in making up the weight with sweet oranges, lemons or grapefruit.

NB Seville oranges freeze so if you see bargain bags do snap them up for later.

You ideally need a preserving pan but don’t despair.  Better to use two pans than try to cram it all in your biggest pan. Or do it in two batches.

3 ¼ litres water

3 kg sugar

1 ½ kg Seville oranges

Sterilised jars (I run them through the dishwasher and warm them in the oven)


Simmer the whole oranges in water for at least 1 ½ hours until the skin is really tender. Remove and keep oranges in a bowl until cool enough to cut into quarters. The water you boiled them in should stay in the pan. A slow cooker or alternatively a pressure cooker will do the job with different timings of course.

Scrape the mush and pips from the inside of the oranges into muslin or a jelly bag and put into the water along with any liquid that might be in the bowl.

Cut up the peel as you like it and add to the pan. Put a plate in the fridge to use as a setting test. Warm your clean jars in an oven set to 100 degrees. Turn off oven as they need to be warm but not scalding when you fill them.

It’s a good idea to warm the sugar in a microwave or low oven before adding to the pan. Stir until dissolved then turn up heat and boil the marmalade until a drop of the liquid sets enough to form a skin when you push it on the cold plate. This process can take from ½ an hour to an hour depending on the size of your pan. Keep pushing the juices out of the muslin from time to time to help it set.

When your marmalade has reached a setting point, let it stand for 15 minutes to avoid the shred rising to the top of the jars. Carefully fill your jars and seal tightly with the lids. I never bother with cellophane.

Click here to download this recipe


Noodle Salad

This is a crunchy, light but filling way to get a dose of vitamins into you at this time of year. Make plenty so that you can use it for packed lunches and double up the dressing ingredients so that you have some to keep in the fridge.

Serves 4

100g nuts eg hazelnuts and cashews            200g fine egg noodles
150g fine beans/sugarsnaps, cut in half         Small head of broccoli, broken into florets
A packet of mini sweetcorn, chopped            6 spring onions
Small bunch of coriander and some mint if you can find it


2 tbsp white wine or rice vinegar                    1 tblsp tahini
Grated zest and juice of a lime                      1 mild red chilli, deseeded and chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed                                  1 tsp honey or brown sugar
1 tsp sesame oil                                           2 tblsp soy sauce
A splash of water

Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a screw topped jar and shake till mixed.

Toast the nuts in a dry frying pan if they are not already roasted.

Blanch the beans for 3  minutes in a large pan pf boiling salted water then add the sugarsnaps, sweetcorn and broccoli and cook on for another 2 minutes.

Drain the veg and refresh with lots of cold water. Drain thoroughly so that it is as dry as possible.

Cook the noodles according to the instructions, refresh and drain.

Cut the spring onions on the diagonal. Put all the salad ingredients into a large bowl with the nuts and dressing. Add the mint and coriander and mix well.

Note you could add some smoked tofu, shredded chicken or cooked fish to this to ring the changes.

Click here to download this recipe.


Just to prove going gluten free doesn’t mean baking has to be joyless, try these! The only fiddly bit is spreading the mixture as thinly as you can but still so the pieces of almond touch. Thanks to Yotam for the recipe.

Almond Wafers

2 egg whites

100g icing sugar

250g flaked almonds

Grated zest of an orange

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees. Line a couple of baking trays with non-stick parchment and brush lightly with vegetable oil.

Put the egg whites into a bowl and beat with a fork until loose but not frothy. Mix in the icing sugar, almonds and grated zest.

Using a fork, scoop up little mounds of the mixture and place on the tray with plenty of space around each one. Dip the fork into a bowl of water and use the back of it to flatten the almonds as much as possible to make rough disc shapes.

Bake in batches for about 12 minutes each batch but keep an eye on them. They should be golden and crisp on the base. When cool, store in an airtight tin.

I like to serve these with ice cream or pannacotta but they also make great little biscuits to enjoy with a cup of tea or coffee after a meal.

Click here to download this recipe.


During the holidays, something that the family can make together.

Golden Flapjacks

Makes 16

300g unsalted butter, plus extra to grease
75g demerara or brown) sugar
120g golden syrup (6 tablespoons)
200g jumbo rolled oats
200g quick-cook oats
50g crunchy nut cornflakes

1. Preheat the oven to 190C / 375F / gas 5 (150C / 300F / gas 2 if you prefer them chewy rather than crispy). Line a 30 x 20cm baking tin with baking parchment, cutting slits in each corner so it fits more neatly.

2. Melt the butter in a small pan with the sugar, syrup and a pinch of salt. Stir well to combine, then take off the heat and stir in the oats and cornflakes. Press evenly into the tin and bake for 25 minutes for chewy, 30 minutes for crunchy, until set and golden. Allow to cool completely in the tin, but cut into squares a few minutes after they come out of the oven, before they harden.

Click here to download the recipe.


Here, from Milly Rees, is an interesting twist to a classic Christmas recipe. May this become part of a happy Christmas and prehaps a new family tradition.

Rocky road Yule Log

This is a rough guide. Like all good Christmas recipes it likes to please so feel free to tweak!

2 large bars of dark chocolate (or 1 dark and 1 milk)

100g butter

2 tbsp golden syrup

1 cup toasted hazelnuts

1 cup mini marshmallows

4 chunks of stem ginger, roughly chopped

200g glace cherries

300g ginger biscuits, bashed into pieces

Icing sugar

Melt the chocolate with the butter and syrup in a microwave or in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.

Stir in the other ingredients and tip out onto a sheet of greaseproof paper. Form into a log shape and roll up in the paper.

Wrap tightly in cling film or foil and chill overnight.

Unwrap and dust with icing sugar.

Click here to download a copy of this recipe.


Here is part of what we made on Saturday during our family activity 'Christmas Truffles and Sweet Treats'. Could be for sharing or for a treat with a cup of coffee when your energy is flagging!

Popcorn Boulders

150g popping corn
150g roasted cashews, roughly chopped
250g caster sugar
25g muscovado sugar
1 tbsp golden syrup
1 tblsp condensed milk
25g butter
75ml water
Large pinch of salt

Butter 2 mini muffin trays

Pop the corn in batched in a pan or microwave. Put into a large bowl being careful to remove any un popped corn. Mix in the cashews.

Put everything else into a pan and stir over a low heat to start to melt the sugar. Bring to the boil and boil until thick and caramel like. Stir into the corn. Do this as quickly as poss.

With two spoons, pile the mixture into the tins and press down. Leave to cool.

Note (if you find you have undercooked the caramel then you can crisp it up by putting the tray into a hot oven for a few minutes until brown – be careful not to burn it)

Click here to download the recipe.


We made the patties at the autumn veg session and they might well crop up again...... These make great starters or with drinks and the sauces are good with so many things.

Beetroot Patties with tahini and sweet chilli sauce

200g roasted beetroot                                  1 tblsp tahini
100g chick peas                                          2 spring onions                      &nb

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