Abgoosht Bozbash – A Hearty Persian Soup with Lamb, Herbs & Black-Eye Beans

Persian Soup - Abgoosht Bozbash

Abgoosht, which literally translates as “meat-water” is one of the most popular Persian comfort meals. There are a few different variations of abgoosht but the meat used is always lamb and it always includes a pulse of some variety as well as potatoes. Traditionally abgoosht is served in two courses. The first course takes the form of a broth that is strained from the solid elements of the soup and the second course is served as a paste which is made by pounding the  meat, potatoes and pulses together. This thick savoury paste is served with flatbread, pickles, herbs and spring onions, it may sound unusual but it’s very delicious. I tend to served the first course with a little of the meat, pulses and potatoes included rather than just the broth as I love a hearty stew. The best known version of abgoosht is one that is tomato based and uses chickpeas as the pulse, this is the abgoosht that I grew up eating and which my mother still makes regularly. Abgoosht bozbash is very different and mimics in flavour the  very popular Persian meal Ghormeh Sabzi, which is one of my all time favourite khoresht (a Persian stew served over rice). Traditional accompaniments for abgoosht are very important and really bring the meal together – these include yogurt spiked with grated garlic, radishes, spring onions, fresh herbs such as basil and mint and Persian pickles (torshi). Whilst many people make abgoosht by simply adding all the ingredients to the pot at the same time I prefer to sauté the ingredients first which makes it a little more time consuming to prepare but the extra flavour and complexity it adds are worth the effort.

Ingredients – Serves 6 generously and reheats well

 4 lamb shanks – weighing about 1.2kg in total
400g lean lamb leg – I used lamb leg steaks
3 large onions, diced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
350g (2 cups) black eye beans
2 large bunches coriander, leaves removed from stems and washed well (about 2 cups)
2 tablespoons dried fenugreek leaves
1 large bunch parsley, leaves removed from stems and washed well (about 1½ cups)
3 large bunches of chives, finely sliced (about 1 cup)
5 dried Persian limes (available from Middle-Eastern food stores)
Neutral flavoured vegetable oil
4 medium size potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters

Season the lamb with a little of the salt and pepper. Heat a good splash of oil in a large heavy bottomed pan and when hot sear the lamb until lightly browned. Remove and set aside. To the same pan add the onions along with another pinch of salt and sauté until nicely golden, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. Add turmeric and stir through. Add the meat back to the pan along with the black eye beans and  8 cups of boiling water.  Season with the remaining salt and pepper and bring to the boil, skimming any scum that rises to the surface. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook covered for two hours.

Meat for Abgoosht  

Whilst the soup is cooking add a couple of tablespoons of  oil to a large skillet and gently sauté the fresh herbs and dried fenugreek until aromatic and softened, about 5 minutes. After the soup has cooked for two hours add the sautéed herbs, dried limes and potatoes to the soup and cook uncovered for a further 1½ hours. Taste for seasoning and add more salt if required.

 Abgoosht Bozbash Pounded Abgoosht Meat

To serve, strain the broth from the solid ingredients and keep warm (you can if you wish add a little of the meat, potatoes and beans to the broth as well, which is how I like my soup). Place the strained solids into a food processor and pulse until combined to a paste ( you can also mash it in a large bowl using a potato masher). Serve the broth in soup bowls and place the paste on a platter in the centre of the table with accompaniments of flatbread (I like Lebanese style lavash) garlic spiked yogurt, fresh basil and mint, red onions or spring onions and Persian pickles.

Meat Paste from Abgoosht Bozbash

Raspberry & Walnut Rugelach from Martha Stewart & Cookie Couture

Martha Stewart - Rugelach

Rugelach are a much loved Jewish sweet and they are utterly delicious. Traditional rugelach are made by rolling a triangle shaped piece of dough around a filling to form a crescent shaped cookie. The dough is enriched with cream cheese and the filling can be changed to suit your tastes, anything from chocolate, fruit or nuts being popular choices. The recipe below was featured on the Martha Stewart show a while ago and was created by New York company Cookie Couture. Martha tried these at a Milk and Cookies event she hosted for New York Food & Wine week and declared them some of the best rugelach she has ever tasted – high praise indeed coming from the doyenne of cookies, needless to say I couldn’t wait to try the recipe. I loved the raspberry and walnut combination and the way these rugelach are dipped in butter once they are rolled and then smothered in cinnamon sugar before being baked – you just know these are going to taste amazing!

Ingredients – Makes 32 rugelach   Adapted from Martha Stewart via Cookie Couture
It’s helpful to watch this video of from the Martha Stewart Show in which she makes and rolls the rugelach

For the coating:
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ cup (115g) unsalted butter, melted

For the Dough:
1 cup (230g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g cream cheese, at room temperature
½ teaspoon salt
2 cups plain flour, plus more for work surface

For the Filling:
2 cups premium raspberry jam
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped walnuts


Make the dough: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix together butter, cream cheese, and salt on low until well combined. Add flour and mix until a dough has formed. Turn out onto work surface and cut into 4 equal pieces; wrap each piece with plastic wrap and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a baking sheet with non stick baking paper. Unwrap one piece of dough and place on a floured work surface. Roll into  a 10-inch round and, using a pizza wheel, cut into 8 equal wedges. Repeat process with remaining pieces of dough.

Martha Stewart Rugelach Martha Stewart Rugelach

To Fill: Spread 1 tablespoon raspberry jam on each piece of dough; sprinkle 1 teaspoon nuts on the short side of each piece. Starting with the short side of the triangle, fold corners in toward the centre and roll up each piece to enclose filling. Repeat process with remaining dough, jam and nuts.

Martha Stewart Rugelach Martha Stewart Rugelach

Make the coating: In a small bowl, mix together sugar and cinnamon. Dip each rugelach first in melted butter, making sure all the sides are well coated and then in the sugar mixture to coat, pressing on open ends to enclose. Place on a baking sheet and bake until browned and caramelised, about 35 minutes. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Martha Stewart Raspberry & Walnut Rugelach

Beef, Onion & Guinness Pie

Beef Onion & Guinness Pie with Sour Cream Pastry

I made these pies in the depths of winter this year and whilst savoury meat pies are something I usually crave in the colder months, these beef and Guinness pies are so good I could eat them in any season. The recipe is from Gary Mehigan of Australian Masterchef and the filling is utterly delicious, so much nicer than anything store-bought. The pie is surrounded by one of my favourite pastries – Maggie Beer’s sour cream pastry which I used in this beef and red wine pie. Pies with meat fillings can be time consuming (but not difficult) to make due to the long braising time required for the meat to become tender, but the results are well worth the effort and they freeze well. It’s the sort of satisfying cooking project that’s prefect for the weekend.

Ingredients – makes 6 individual pies  Adapted from Gary Mehigan

100ml olive oil, plus extra for greasing
5 onions, sliced
4 cloves garlic, smashed and peeled
4 sprigs thyme
3 fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons plain flour
1.5 kg trimmed chuck steak, cut into 5cm pieces
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 carrots, cut into large chunks – if you cut them too small they will disintegrate during the long braising time
440ml can Guinness
4 cups best quality beef stock
1 egg, beaten
Tomato sauce, to serve

Maggie Beer’s Sour-Cream Pastry: Note – if your pie dishes are on the larger side you may want to make 1.5 times this recipe to ensure you have enough pastry
200g chilled unsalted butter, chopped
250g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
½ cup sour cream


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan-forced (200°C conventional). For the pies, add 40ml olive oil (I found I needed to use more than this) to an enamelled cast-iron casserole, then add the onion, garlic and thyme and cook over low heat (use a simmer mat, if necessary) for 40 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent, stirring occasionally. Increase the heat to medium-high, add bay leaves and cook until the onion is dark and caramelised. Add the flour and cook stirring often for 3-4 minutes.


Season the beef generously with salt and ground pepper. Heat remaining 60ml of the olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat, then cook the beef in 2 batches until well browned on all sides. Remove and add to the onions. Add the carrots to the frypan and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden. Add ¾ of the Guinness and cook for 5 minutes. Tip the carrots and Guinness into onions and beef. Use remaining Guinness in can to deglaze the beef pan, scraping all the brown bits from the bottom, add to the onions.

Pour enough beef stock to cover the beef and vegetables and bring to the boil. Cover with a tight fitting lid, then transfer to the oven and cook for 2-2.5 hours or until tender. Leave to cool to room temperature. Remove the chunks of beef and carrot to a board and chop into 1cm pieces, then return them to the onion gravy. Refrigerate until cold.

Meanwhile, to make the sour cream pastry, place the butter and flour and a pinch of salt in the bowl of an electric mixer with a paddle or food processor, then blend until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs. Gradually add the sour cream, mixing until the pastry just comes together. Shape into a disc, then wrap in plastic wrap then chill for at least 20 minutes.

Beef, Onion & Guinness Pie Filling Gary Mehigan Beef Onion & Guinness Pie 

Grease 6 small pie tins with a little olive oil. Roll out the pastry to 3-5mm thick, using a little extra flour for dusting. Cut out six rounds about 5cm bigger than the pie tin bases and six rounds 2cm bigger than the pie tin tops for the lids. Place a pie base pastry in each hole, then press in lightly with your fingers, and draw the pastry up the mould a little so the pastry is 1cm above the mould. Fill each hole with some of the beef mixture, brush edges with water, then top each with a pastry lid and crimp the edges to seal in the filling.

Brush the pastry tops with beaten egg, cut a small hole in the centre of each pie for steam to escape. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until pastry is golden. Remove from the oven and leave to stand for 5 minutes. Turn out and serve with tomato sauce, if desired.

Best Ever Meat Pie - Gary Mehigan Beef Onion & Guinness Pie

Mini Baked Cheese Soufflés – The Perfect Bite Size Canapé

Perfect Finger Food - Mini Twice Baked Cheese Souffle

I find I rarely do three course sit down dinners when we entertain and much prefer serving canapés with pre-dinner drinks before sitting down to a main meal. So I’m always on the lookout for new finger food ideas and these little bite size soufflés are totally delicious and you just can’t stop at one. They are airy and cheesy and go perfectly with a glass of champagne, and despite being made with cheese and eggs they are surprising light. These soufflés are great for entertaining as they can be made ahead of time and then reheated just before serving. They won’t rise like a traditional soufflé, and will deflate a little more once they have cooled, but they will puff up again slightly when re-heated. With Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year all around the corner these soufflés would make wonderful canapés for any party. They are especially handy for any last minute entertaining with all the ingredients being items you probably have in your pantry.

Ingredients – Makes 24 mini soufflés

30g (2 tablespoons) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the tins
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons plain flour
12 tablespoons  milk
½ cup grated Gruyère cheese – you can replace with cheddar or any other good melting cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1  teaspoon Dijon mustard
2 large egg, separated


Preheat the oven to 2o0C. Butter a nonstick mini-muffin tin with 24 wells and sprinkle some of the parmesan cheese into each well and shake it around to cover evenly.


Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Whisk in the milk and when it is smooth take it off the heat and add the cheese, salt, pepper, mustard, and egg yolk. Cool to room temperature.

  Perfect Finger Food - Mini Cheese Souufles

Beat the egg white until firm but not stiff. Stir a quarter of the white into the cheese sauce. Gently fold in the remaining white. Spoon into the prepared tins and bake until puffed and golden, 7 to 10 minutes. Cool for a few minutes in the tins on wire racks (the soufflés will fall as they cool). Run a small knife around the edge of each soufflé and serve whilst still warm.  They can be prepared up to a day in advance and refrigerated then re-baked in the muffin tins in a preheated 200C oven for 5 to 7 minutes before serving.

Perfect Finger Food - Mini Baked Cheese Souffle

Warm Lentil Salad with Walnuts & Goats Cheese

Delia Smith Warm Lentil Salad

I’ve been making this Delia Smith lentil salad for a very long time. Remember Delia? She’s the no-nonsense English cook who taught a whole generation basic cookery skills. One doesn’t hear much about her these days and it’s been a while since Delia has written a cook book but her recipes are tried and tested and can always be relied upon. I remember years ago when her Summer & Winter Entertaining cook books were released and how excited I was as a novice cook by the recipes and how approachable they all were. I think I made just about every recipe in those books and some are dishes that I still make today, this lentil salad being one of them. There is enough going on in the salad to make it perfect for a light meal  but if you are serving it as a side dish, which I regularly do, it’s best to serve it with main dishes that are not too rich. It goes especially well with roast chicken and grilled fish.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish  Adapted from Delia Smith

225 g Puy lentils – these are the small green French lentils which hold their shape very well when cooked
40 g walnuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 small red onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 bay leaf
1 fat clove garlic, peeled and crushed
1 heaped teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped
salt and freshly milled black pepper

For the Dressing
110 g goats cheese
1 fat clove garlic, peeled
1 level teaspoon sea salt
1 rounded teaspoon powdered mustard – I prefer to use Dijon mustard
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons walnut oil – you can replace with extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
30 g baby rocket leaves
freshly milled black pepper


First you need to cook the lentils. To do this, heat the oil in a medium saucepan and when it’s hot, lightly fry the chopped walnuts for about 1 minute. Then remove them with a draining spoon to a plate and keep them aside for later.

Now to the oil left in the pan, add the onion and crushed garlic and let these cook and soften for about 5 minutes. After that, stir in the lentils, bay leaf and thyme and make sure they all get a good coating with oil. Next add 275 ml of boiling water, but don’t add any salt – just put a lid on, turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and let the lentils cook for about 30 minutes or until they’re just tender and all the liquid has been absorbed. You really need to bite one to test if they’re done.


While the lentils are cooking you can prepare the dressing. Use a pestle and mortar crush the garlic with the salt until it’s creamy, then add the mustard and work that into the garlic paste. After that, whisk in the balsamic vinegar, followed by the oils. Then season well with freshly milled black pepper.


As soon as the lentils are cooked, add salt to taste. Empty them into a warm serving bowl (if you feel that there is still some water left in the pan, drain the lentils first) and while they’re still hot, pour the dressing over. Give everything a good toss and stir, then crumble the goats’ cheese all over and add the rocket leaves. Give everything one more toss and stir, and serve straight away with the walnuts scattered over.

Delia Smith Warm Lentil Salad

Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

3 Layer Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Layer cakes make a fantastic celebration dessert. They not only look impressive but they’re delicious and can feed a large number of people. I made this three layer cake for a birthday dinner for 12 and there was still half a cake left over – which is not a bad thing! The batter for this cake is called yellow cake. It is well known and much used in the States but not something we’re very familiar with here in Australia. Yellow cake is denser than  sponge cakes and therefore holds up very well for layering. It has a great crumb and is lovely and moist – just a great, all round delicious vanilla cake. The frosting is the easiest frosting ever. It all goes into a food processor with no sifting of icing sugar required (my most dreaded task in the kitchen) and spreads like a dream.

Yellow Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

 Ingredients – Makes two 9 inch layers or 3 eight inch layers  Adapted from Mel’s Kitchen

1 cup butter (225g), softened to room temperature
1 ¾ cups sugar (368 grams)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 large eggs, room temperature
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 ¼ cups cake flour (255g), or make cake flour by sifting together 210g plain flour and 45g cornflour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup milk (1% or above), room temperature
½ cup sour cream (light or regular), room temperature

Instant Buttercream Frosting  Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
60g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2½ cups icing sugar  (no need to sift)
170g unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons whole milk
½ tablespoon vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 180C. Whisk together the milk and sour cream and let come to room temperature. In the bowl of an electric stand mixer or with a handheld electric mixer, whip the butter on medium speed for 1-2 minutes. Add the sugar and beat for 4-5 minutes on medium speed. Mix in the vanilla.

One at a time, add the eggs and egg yolks, mixing just until combined in between additions. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. Combine the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift them together through a fine mesh strainer. Add the dry ingredients, alternating with the milk/sour cream mixture, starting and ending with the flour. Make sure you don’t over mix, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Give the batter one good, final stir with a rubber spatula.


Butter and flour the cake tins  and line the bottoms with baking paper.  Divide the batter evenly between the pans. Drop each pan from about 3-inches onto the counter to minimize air bubbles while baking.

Bake for 30 minutes until lightly golden around the edges and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with moist crumbs. Resist the urge to open and close the oven to check on the cake – this can cause the center of the cake to fall. And as with all cakes, don’t over bake or the cake will be dry. Let the cakes rest in the pans for 5-10 minutes before gently turning them onto a cooling rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, place all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse to incorporate and then process until the frosting is smooth. To ice the cake: place a small amount of frosting on a cake stand and then for easy clean up, place strips of  baking paper around the edges of the stand . Place the first layer of cake on the stand on top of the blob of frosting – this ensures the cake doesn’t slide around.

Instant Chocolate Buttercream Frosting 
How to Frost a Layer Cake How to Frost a Layer Cake

Add a generous amount of frosting on the cake and using a pallet knife work it to the edges and smooth it so it is an even layer. Don’t worry about getting some on the sides of the cake. Place the next layer of cake on top and cover with frosting as before. For the final layer cover with frosting as before but this time add slightly more of the mixture and work some of the frosting down the sides of the cake.

How to Frost a Layer Cake How to Frost a Layer Cake
How to Frost a Layer Cake How to Frost a Layer Cake

To frost the sides, add frosting in even blobs around the cake and the turning the cake stand around and using your pallet knife smear the frosting to evenly cover. I find the easiest way to achieve a smooth finish is to use a bench scraper and slowly move it over the side of the cake as you turn the stand. Don’t be too concerned about achieving a perfectly smooth cake, keep it as rustic as you like, after all it is home-made and it will taste delicious regardless.

Yellow Layer Cake with Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

Ottolenghi’s Mejadra – Spiced Rice with Lentils & Caramelised Onions

Ottolenghi's Spiced Rice with Lentils & Caramelised Onions

Mejadra is an Arab comfort food that is widely eaten throughout the Middle East. It is a pilaf style rice dish that incorporates lentils and wonderful warming spices such as allspice, turmeric and  cinnamon. Ottolenghi says this is a childhood favourite of his and he gives his take on mejadra a typical Ottolenghi twist by topping it with crunchy caramelised onions. Mejadra can be eaten as a dish on its own with just some natural yogurt but it also works prefectly as part of a Middle Eastern dinner. I recently served it with two other Ottolenghi dishes, a marinated rack of lamb with coriander and honey as well as a chickpea and okra bake, both of which I’ll post shortly. As with most Ottolenghi recipes the process is rarely quick and easy but the effort is always well worth it and in this recipe it’s the onions which are a tad time consuming but the dish just wouldn’t be the same without them.

Ingredients – Serves 4-6  Adapted from Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem: A  Cookbook

250 g green or brown lentils
5 medium onions
3 tablespoons plain flour
about 1 cup sunflower oil
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1 ½ tablespoons coriander seeds
1 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoons olive oil
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 ½ teaspoons ground allspice
1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon sugar
1 ½ cups water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Place the lentils in a small saucepan, cover with plenty of water, bring to a boil, and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, until the lentils have softened but still have a little bite. Drain and set aside.

Peel the onions and slice thinly. Place on a large flat plate, sprinkle with the flour and 1 teaspoon salt, and mix well with your hands. Heat the sunflower oil in a heavy bottomed skillet or frypan (non stick is best) over high heat. Make sure the oil is hot by throwing in a small piece of onion; it should sizzle vigorously. Reduce the heat to medium-high and carefully (it may spit!) add one-third of the sliced onion. Fry for 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally with a slotted spoon, until the onion takes on a nice golden brown colour and turns crispy (adjust the temperature so the onion doesn’t fry too quickly and burn). Use the spoon to transfer the onion to a colander lined with paper towels and sprinkle with a little more salt. Do the same with the other two batches of onion; add a little extra oil if needed.

Onions for Ottolenghi's Mejadra

Put the cumin and coriander seeds in a good-sized saucepan which has a lid. Place over medium heat and toast the seeds for a minute or two. Add the rice, olive oil, turmeric, allspice, cinnamon, sugar, 1 teaspoon salt, and plenty of black pepper. Stir to coat the rice with the oil and then add the cooked lentils and the water. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, and simmer over very low heat for 20 minutes.


Remove from the heat, lift off the lid, and quickly cover the pan with a clean tea towel. Seal tightly with the lid and set aside for 15 minutes. Finally, add half the fried onion to the rice and lentils and stir gently with a fork. Pile the mixture in a shallow serving bowl and top with the rest of the onions.

Ottolenghi's Mejadra - Spiced Rice with Lentils & Caramelised Onions

Crab Pasta with Chilli, Garlic & Squid Ink Linguine

Crab Pasta with Chilli, Garlic & Squid Link Linguine

This is a very simple and quick pasta dish, the kind where the sauce can be made in as much time as it takes for the water to boil and the pasta to cook. The crab here is the star of the show and with only a handful of ingredients you need to use top quality fresh crab meat – the vacuum packed crab meat that you can buy in plastic tubs here in Australia won’t work well in this dish. Fresh crab meat can be expensive but it’s really worth the splurge for this pasta and you can readily purchase fresh picked and cleaned crab meat from most fish mongers. Unlike many Italian dishes this pasta sauce uses butter rather than olive oil, which gives a lovely richness and creaminess to the sauce that marries very well with the crab. As far as the pasta goes you can use normal linguine or spaghetti but I not only love how dramatic the glossy black strands look but the squid ink also adds wonderful umami flavour.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as a main dish

300g best quality fresh crab meat
50g butter
5 large cloves of garlic, crushed in a garlic press or finely minced
1 large red chilli, seeded and finely diced
10 cherry or grape tomatoes, cut in half
¼ cup finely chopped flat leaf parsley
250g squid ink linguine – you can use normal linguine or spaghetti


Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Whilst you’re waiting for the water to come to the boil, heat a skillet over medium heat and add the butter. As the butter is melting add the garlic, chilli and a pinch of salt and cook stirring constantly until the butter is very aromatic and the garlic has softened and is just starting to colour. Monitor your heat to make sure that the garlic and butter doesn’t burn. At this point add the tomatoes along with another pinch of salt and using the back of a spoon press on the tomatoes until they are flattened, this will help release their juices. Cook for a few minutes or until the tomatoes have broken down a little.


When the water has come to the boil add the pasta and cook until al dente. I like the pasta to be just slightly underdone as it will keep cooking when you add it to the sauce. A couple of minutes before the pasta is ready add the crab to the sauce and gently stir it through to warm up. When the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer the pasta to the skillet, taking with it some of the pasta cooking water which will help to thicken the sauce. Add the parsley to the pan and toss the pasta gently but throughly so as all the strands are coated in the butter garlic mixture and the crab is mixed through. If you feel the pasta is a little dry add a splash of the pasta water.  Serve immediately.

Crab Pasta with Chilli, Garlic & Squid Ink Linguini

Tom Kerridge’s Amazing Christmas Carrots – But Don’t Wait Til Christmas to Make Them

Tom Kerridge - Star Anise Braised Carrots

It’s hard to make a plate of carrots look enticing but believe me these are incredible tasting carrots. Tom Kerridge is a British chef who owns the Hand & Flowers pub,  the only 2 Michelin starred pub in the UK. This recipe featured on one of his recent television programmes and whilst these carrots are indeed worthy of the holiday table they’re too good to keep for just once a year. These have become my go to vegetable for any roast dinner, in fact for any grilled meat or poultry, hell I’d have them on their own and make a meal of it! This dish is a little more time consuming than most side dishes with the carrots braising for a good 45 minutes in a rich, buttery, star anise flavoured sauce. The long cooking time allows the carrots to soak up all the flavour from the cooking liquid and become incredibly tender. One change I do make from the original is the amount of butter. Tom calls for a whopping 250g which I find very excessive – I cut the butter down by more than half and it’s  just as good.

Ingredients – Serves 4 as a side dish  Adapted from Tom Kerridge

6 large or 9 medium carrots peeled, topped and tailed
100g butter (original recipe calls for 250g)
100g sugar (original recipe calls for 150g)
2 teaspoons salt (original recipe calls for 3 teaspoons)
4 star anise


Use a clean scourer to smooth the carrots and remove any peel marks (optional). In a pan combine 300ml of water, the butter, sugar, salt and star anise. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer and add the carrots.

Tom Kerridge's Amazing Carrots Tom Kerridge's Amazing Carrots Tom Kerridge's Amazing Carrots

Cook until the carrots are tender (approximately 45 minutes) and the volume of liquid has reduced by half. Carefully remove the carrots to a serving platter, they are very tender and can fall apart easily, and serve with the reduced cooking liquid poured over.

Tom Keridge's Star Anise Braised Carrots

Sausage Hot-Pot

Perfect Winter Meal - Sausage Hot Pot

This may not be the most glamorous of dishes but it’s certainly one of the most comforting, especially on  cold winter nights when you really crave something hearty for dinner. A sausage hot-pot, or any hot-pot for that matter, is basically a one dish casserole of sorts and they’re extremely easy to throw together which makes them great for busy mid-week meals. Using good quality sausages is essential but the type of sausage meat you choose is up to you. I prefer organic beef sausages but in this instance I used a mixture of organic beef and free range pork as that’s what I had on hand. You can accompany this meal with just some crusty bread or really go to town and serve it with mashed potatoes. If you have any leftovers they make great sandwiches the next day.

Ingredients – Serves 2-3, with enough left over for sandwiches

6-7 best quality beef or pork sausages – organic if possible
1 red pepper, cut into long strips
3 red onions, sliced
3 large flat cap mushrooms, halved and cut into thick slices
Olive oil
1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Scant teaspoon plain flour
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
2 cups best quality beef stock
Salt & pepper


Pre-heat oven to 180C. Heat a large non stick fry pan over medium heat and add a little olive oil. When the oil is hot add the sausages and cook until browned on all sides, they don’t need to be cooked through at this stage. Remove and place into a shallow oven proof baking dish or tray that is just large enough to hold the sausages snuggly.


To the same fry pan add the red pepper along with a pinch of salt and a little more oil, if required, and cook until softened. Set aside with the sausages. Cook the onions in the same way until very soft, again adding more oil as needed. Add these to the sausages and cook the mushrooms until they are nicely browned and add to the other vegetables.


Reduce the heat slightly and add the tomato paste and flour to the pan and let it cook and caramelise for a couple of minutes then add the thyme, bay leaves, a pinch of salt, some ground black pepper, Worcestershire sauce and stock. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly, then simmer uncovered for about 10 minutes until it is reduced by about a third. Add the sauce to the sausages and move everything around so as the sausages are siting on top and evenly spaced out. Bake for 30-40 minutes and serve with crusty bread or mash.

Perfect Winter Meal - Sausage Hop Pot