Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Roast Asparagus with Sweet Pepper and Chorizo

I think asparagus is one of my favourite vegetables of all, and buy it as often as I can when it comes into season. We have wonderful local asparagus at Church Farm and Hawarden Estate.

Asparagus works well when it is cooked for a very small amount of time, so that it retains its crunch and vibrancy. I start to panic when I buy it, but don't get the chance to cook it so it sits in the fridge for a few days.

In this recipe, I've roasted it with wonderful sweet pointed peppers, complemented with the smokiness of chorizo sausage. The oil is released from the chorizo into the baking tray, and can be mopped up with potatoes, bread or pasta. The dish is incredibly easy to make, and would work well just on its own, or as a side with some grilled meat.



  • 250g asparagus
  • 1 sweet pointed red pepper
  • Approx. 10 thin slices of chorizo, sliced on the diagonal
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Some really good quality extra virgin olive oil
Serve 2 as a side, or 1 greedy asparagus lover


  • Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees fan
  • Wash the asparagus and trim the woody bases
  • Cut around the stalk of the sweet pepper, then pull out the stalk and seeds. Slice into thin rounds, on the diagonal
  • Lay the asparagus in a baking tray. Scatter over the slices of pepper, then tuck the chorizo slices in between.
  • Season with salt and pepper and pour over 2-3 generous glugs of best quality extra virgin olive oil
Tuck the chorizo slices between the pepper and the asparagus

  • Put the baking dish into the oven and roast for 8-10 minutes, until the chorizo is beginning to crisp up and the peppers have charred and softened
  • Remove from the oven and serve immediately
Roast asparagus with sweet pepper and chorizo

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Garlic and Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes

This accompaniment is very easy with practically no effort involved! You can use any waxy potato.


  • 3-5 new potatoes per person
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • 2-3 sprigs of rosemary, cut into 3cm lengths
  • 3-4 big glugs of olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Serves 4-6



  • Pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees
  • Wash and scrub the potatoes, and cut the larger ones in half (mine tend to be 3-4 cm across)
  • Using the flat of a cleaver or a rolling pin, bash the cloves of garlic once to break, but leave in the skin
  • Bash the rosemary springs to bruise them slightly
  • Add the potatoes, garlic and rosemary to a roasting dish and season generously with salt and ground black pepper (it doesn't matter if the potatoes are not all in a single layer). Pour over 3-4 big glugs of olive oil and stir to mix.
  • Roast the potatoes for 20-25 minutes depending on the size. Stir them periodically to brown evenly
Halfway through cooking, turn the potatoes
  • When the potatoes are cooked through, remove from the heat and serve immediately
Garlic and Rosemary Roasted New Potatoes

Slow-Cooker Chick Peas with Tomato and Chorizo

These chick peas were supposed to be part of a vegetable curry, but like most grand plans on this training year, fell by the wayside. This dish is a "chuck it all in and turn it on" type of meal, save for soaking and boiling the chick peas first. If you can't be bothered with that, then just buy a couple of tins and reduce the amount of cooking time (I'm guessing a couple of hours in the slow cooker would be enough).

I bought a tiny slow cooker from Lakeland Limited with some birthday vouchers, which is the perfect size for one meal and which I cooked this dish in. It could easily be done on the hob or in the oven as an alternative.


  • A very large handful of dried chick peas (I think this was about 600-700g when reconstituted)
  • 10 - 12 slices of chorizo
  • 6 ripe tomatoes (they must be ripe!)
  • 1 tablespoon of tomato puree
  • 2 shallots
  • 3-4 big glugs of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp Knorr chicken powder (optional)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp dried mixed herbs (rosemary, oregano, thyme, marjoram)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Fresh basil leaves to garnish
Serves 4-6 as an accompaniment


  • Soak the chick peas over night, then drain, place in a pan and cover with water. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 15 minutes
  • Peel the shallots and slice into thin rings
  • Score a cross in the bottom of each tomato and cover with boiling water, then leave for 5-10 minutes. Remove the tomatoes from the water, peel off the skin and dice the tomatoes
  • Add the chick peas, shallots, chorizo, mixed herbs, chicken powder, tomatoes, tomato puree, bay leaf, mixed herbs and 3 large glugs of olive oil to the slow cooker. Season generously with salt and ground black pepper and mix thoroughly
  • Switch the slow cooker onto high and cook for 4-5 hours, stirring occasionally

  • Remove from the heat, drizzle over some fresh olive oil, garnish with fresh basil leaves and serve immediately

Slow-Cooker Chick Peas with Tomato and Chorizo

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Lemon and Basil Griddled Sea Bream

Tonight my eldest asked me what was for dinner then sighed immediately, saying "let me guess.... rice, am I right?"

She would have been right, as I had been to the fishmonger in the morning and bought a sea bream, intending to steam it with dried lily flowers, cloud ear fungus and soy sauce, but following this little exchange, I decided to indulge her.

I remember many years ago going to a restaurant called Lemonia with my big sister, where we sat close to Bob Hoskins. We had a lovely dish of griddled sardines, fragrant with lemons and olive oil and I wanted to try and replicate this. In fact, I think there are few things in life nicer than tucking into a big plate of really fresh, griddled fish with a big wedge of lemon, some decent company and preferably a sea view.

We ended up sharing this dish of griddled sea bream, some slow-cooked chick peas with chorizo and tomato and garlic and rosemary roasted potatoes. The eldest made pizza using this Cook Italian pizza kit from Tesco, which was better than I had expected it to be!

Last year on our holiday to Tuscany, I visited a local producer (Novo Frantoio) and horrified my husband by returning with a 3 litre can of olive oil (I had packed light intentionally). Here it is:

Ridiculously tasty olive oil
Words cannot even begin to describe how delicious and beautiful this oil is! I am already starting to worry what I will do when it runs out!


  • 1 sea bream, gutted and scaled
  • 1/2 lemon, cut into slices
  • Grated zest of 1/2 a lemon
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh basil
  • Plenty of extra virgin olive oil
Serves 1, or can be shared as part of a bigger meal


  • Wash the bream and pat dry with kitchen towels. Using a sharp knife, slash each side three times, taking care not to cut through the bone
  • Sprinkle salt and pepper inside the cavity of the fish, then stuff with 3-4 slices of lemon and 2-3 sprigs of fresh basil leaves
  • Place the fish in a dish and pour over extra virgin olive oil to coat the fish. Sprinkle freshly ground black pepper on each side, then leave in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to marinate if you have time
  • Heat a griddle or frying pan until very hot. Remove the fish from the fridge and sprinkle salt over both sides, before adding to the griddle. Using a spatula, press down on the fish periodically and griddle for 6-7 minutes on one side

  • Carefully lift the fish with a spatula (I use two) and turn over. Griddle on a high heat for a further 6-7 minutes, or until the flesh turns opaque throughout
  • Remove the fish from the heat and place on a warmed serving dish. Add the freshly grated lemon zest to the fish and pour the oil from the pan over the fish. Add a little fresh olive oil, then garnish with a few fresh basil leaves
  • Serve immediately

Lemon and Basil Griddled Sea Bream