Honey and balsamic sausage tray bake

This is a one tray wonder that requires very little time and attention so it is perfect for a midweek meal. Choose good quality sausages that are well seasoned and remember sausages don’t always have to be pork- I used zebra sausages from Oslinc: www.oslinc.co.uk.


Ingredients- serves 4
8- 10 good quality sausages
2 garlic cloves- crushed
Sprigs of fresh rosemary
1 large sweet potato- cut into cubes
2 red onions- cut into wedges
2 large beetroots- cut into cubes
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp runny honey
Sprinkling of chilli flakes

1. Get going by preheating the oven to 180c/ 160 fan. Take a large pan and add a drizzle of vegetables oil before heating. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and cook until the sausages are turning golden. Remove and set aside.

2. For the vegetables, take a roasting tray and add a little oil so the veggies don’t stick. Add in the vegetables and pour over the honey and balsamic vinegar with a good crack of pepper and salt. Sprinkle over some chilli flakes and toss again. Add in the sausages, garlic and rosemary and give another toss before covering with foil and cooking in the oven for around 35-45 minutes. The sausages should be cooked through so the juices run clear and the vegetables will be tender when tested. Just before its ready you can remove the foil and cook for the last few minutes uncovered to get an extra bit of colour.

Honey and balsamic sausage and vegetable tray bake- a midweek winner that is short on time and big on taste!

Chilli sesame crusted tofu

Time for another tofu post I feel in an effort to get this bean curd beauty back in vogue! This gives the tofu such a savoury hit that it goes well in rice and noodle dishes so be as creative as you want. I like to use smoked tofu to add an extra flavour dimension but plain tofu is just as delicious.


Ingredients- serves 2
1 block of firm tofu- plain or smoked
1 egg
4 tbsp sesame seeds
2 tbsp red chilli flakes
Small pack of panko crumbs

1. Start off by blotting the tofu with kitchen towel to remove any excess moisture before cutting into bite sized pieces.

2. Crack an egg into a bowl, whisk lightly and set aside. Combine a mixture of panko crumbs, chilli and sesame and lay out on a plate. The quantities of sesame and chilli can be altered depending on your tastes but try to get a balance between the heat of the chilli, savouriness of the sesame and crunch of the crumb.

3. When you are ready, drop the tofu chunks in the egg before rolling each piece in the crumb mix. Make sure each side is well coated. Meanwhile, heat vegetable oil in a pan so it is around 3cm deep (now is not the time to walk away and leave this!) and heat. When the oil is hot enough, shallow fry the tofu in small batches so it is golden and crisp. Remove the tofu with a slotted spoon and blot on kitchen roll.

Serve immediately with your choice of rice or noodle dish.

Crispy chilli sesame tofu- a crunchy new way of trying tofu!

Sweet roasted tomato, asparagus and Carmarthen ham spaghetti

This is the perfect pasta that can be thrown together when time is short and hunger levels are high. Raid your fridge for seasonal treats and get cooking! Carmarthen ham is a Welsh delicacy that can be ordered online but you can use Parma ham instead.


Ingredients-serves 2
Glug of oil
1 garlic clove- crushed
1 small red chilli- finely chopped
Handfuls baby plum or cherry tomatoes- halved lengthways
4 slices of Carmarthen ham or Parma ham- cut into pieces
Small pack of asparagus tips- cut into thirds
Handful of basil
150g dried spaghetti

1. Get started by pre using the oven to 160c/ 140 fan. Take the halved tomatoes and lay on a baking tray cut side up. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt, pepper and some chopped basil. Roast for a few minutes until softened and smelling wonderful. Cover and set aside. If you like, you can also roast the asparagus with the tomatoes by I like to quickly pan fry to keep a bit of crunch to them.

2. Boil a large pan of water ready to cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Meanwhile take a large frying pan and heat a glug of oil over a medium heat before adding the garlic and chilli. Throw in the asparagus and cook together for a couple of minutes. Next up goes the sliced ham to cook for a further couple of minutes.

3. When the spaghetti is ready, drain well and add to the frying pan. Pop in the roasted tomatoes and toss the asparagus mix through the pasta to heat. Add an extra glug of oil if it looks a little dry but the tomatoes should add an extra bit of moisture.

Serve with some additional basil stirred through it if you like and a good grate of fresh parmesan cheese. Dish up into warm bowls and dig in.

Roasted tomato, fresh asparagus and ham spaghetti- your answer to a midweek dinner dilemma!

Greek style shoulder of lamb with foolproof lemon and caper roasted potatoes

Spring has sprung which means that British lamb is in season so get it while you can. I chose to use half a  lamb shoulder but this would work with leg as well. If you are serving a large crowd then simply double the marinade ingredients and use a whole shoulder. If the idea of roast potatoes gives you cold sweats then look no further- these work every time! I served the meat with a red wine, balsamic and shallot sauce which you must try- find the recipe here: http://whatchloecooked.co.uk/2015/04/04/golden-artichoke-and-spinach-gratin/.


Ingredients- serves 4
For the lamb
Half a lamb shoulder- approx. 800g
3 garlic cloves
2 tsps dried oregano
Small handful rosemary- finely chopped
Zest of one small lemon
3 anchovy fillets
Good glug of olive oil


For the roasted potatoes

Maris Piper potatoes (or similar)- enough for 4
Good glug of vegetable oil
Small handful of non- pareille capers
Juice from half a lemon
Salt to season

1. Start off by marinating the lamb well in advance- the morning does the trick but you may want to do it the night before. Simply add all the marinade ingredients into a pestle and mortar and give it a good old bash until you have a thick paste. Rub the paste into the lamb, cover well with foil and pop in the fridge until you are ready to cook it.

2. To cook the lamb, preheat the oven to 150c/ 130 fan. I set the lamb on a trestle of cut onion segments and a little water (100ml will do) to give the lamb a nice steamy environment. Pop the lamb joint on the top and roast for around 2 and a half hours until juicy and tender. Some ovens will vary so do check from time to time and baste the lamb.

3. For the potatoes, parboil halved potatoes in a large pan of lightly salted boiling water and drain well. Some recipes suggest you give the potatoes a shake to mess up the edges however I find that the act of tipping the potatoes in the colander during the draining process is enough. Heat a decent glug of oil in roasting tray and pop in the oven until hot. Add in the potato halves and turn in the oil. Roast with the lamb for around an hour until golden on the outside and fluffy in the centre.

When they are ready, blot them quickly onto kitchen roll to remove any excess oil before squeezing over the lemon juice and sprinkling over the capers. I also like adding a few flakes of sea salt for a bit of extra seasoning. If you are like me, most capers end up being eaten before they make it anywhere near the potatoes so a few extra ones never go amiss!

4. When the lamb is nearly ready, remove the foil for around 10 minutes and finish off to give it a lovely colour before resting for 10 minutes.

Irresistible Greek style spring lamb with crunchy lemon and caper potatoes- a winner this season!

Speedy togarashi salmon

What on earth is togarashi I hear you cry? It’s a Japanese combination of spices which is warming with a citrus note so it is perfect with salmon and chicken. This recipe allows the togarashi to speak for itself so keep it simple, there’s no point using such a great ingredient if you can’t taste it! I bought the mix at http://www.souschef.co.uk so give it a go and keep in the cupboard for a quick dinner fix.


Ingredients- serves 2
2 boneless salmon fillets
1 tbsp dark soy
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp togarashi

1. Start off by lining a baking try with foil and drizzling a small amount of vegetable oil over it to prevent the salmon from sticking. Nobody wants salmon that’s been wrenched off the tray! Combine the soy, mirin and honey in a small bowl and marinade the salmon for between 20- 30 minutes.

2. When you are ready to cook the salmon, simply remove the fillets from the bowl and place on the tray. Sprinkle over the togarashi before popping in the oven on a 180c/ 160 fan heat for 15-18 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.

Serve with noodles or rice and a side dish of your choice. Asian greens that have been lightly stir fried and finished with a little sesame oil are delicious here.

Togarashi salmon- quick, easy and a great introduction to a new combination of flavours!

English pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto

This risotto uses an unusual combination of ingredients but it’s a marriage made in heaven; the slightly bitter edge of radicchio, the smoky pancetta and the caramelised finish of the balsamic. I used sliced English pancetta from a Hampshire butchers but use whatever you can get your hands on.


Ingredients-serves 2
Knob of butter
Olive oil
1 banana shallot- finely diced
1 garlic clove- finely chopped
100g radicchio- shredded
200g arborio rice
600ml chicken stock
4 slices of pancetta diced and 2 cut into thirds
2 tbsp low fat creme fraiche
1 tsp good quality balsamic vinegar- I used a caramelised one
Parmesan to serve

1. Get going by melting a knob of butter and a glug of oil in a wide pan before adding the shallot and garlic. Cook until softened. Next up goes the diced pancetta and cook until nearly crisped.

2. Pop in the rice and stir well so each gratin is coated with the butter. Add the radicchio and a ladleful of stock. Bring to a gentle simmer and stir from time to time, remembering to add in more stock as the rice absorbs each lot.

3. Just before the risotto is ready, heat a frying pan and dry fry the pancetta slices which you have cut into thirds. As the slices turn golden, remove them from the pan and set aside.

4. When your risotto is ready to serve simply take the pan off the heat and stir in the creme fraiche, balsamic, a small amount of extra butter and some of the parmesan and leave to sit covered for a few moments. Pile high onto warmed bowls and top with the crispy slices of pancetta.

Pancetta, radicchio and balsamic laced risotto- a new twist on a classic that you won’t regret!

Golden artichoke and spinach gratin

This little number is simple, delicious and so easy so you have no excuse but to give this a try. Usually jarred artichokes are associated with antipasti but use them in a different way and let them speak for themselves.

I served it with roasted garlic and thyme new potatoes which were finished off with garlic sea salt alongside a beautiful fillet steak with a red wine, aged balsamic and shallot reduction (recipe below). Unfortunately only a photo of the gratin and spuds made it- the rest disappeared before my very eyes (I hate it when food does that!!!).


Artichoke gratin- serves 2
Half a jar of artichoke hearts- drained and blotted on kitchen roll
Two good handfuls of baby spinach- washed and roughly chopped
1/2 banana shallot- finely sliced
1 small garlic clove- crushed
80ml cream
Handful of panko crumbs

1. Preheat the oven to 180c/ 160 fan ready to receive the gratin. In the meantime, heat a little knob of butter in a frying pan and cook the crumbs for a minute- remove and set aside. Clean out the pan and add a little oil and soften the shallot and garlic. Pop in the artichoke and spinach and cook for a further couple of minutes until the leaves are wilting. Drizzle over the cream and season before simmering for a minute. Place the mixture into an ovenproof dish, top with the panko crumbs and bake for 10-15 minutes until golden and bubbling.

Red wine reduction
1 garlic clove- crushed under the blade of a knife
1/2 banana shallot- finely chopped
2-3 sprigs of thyme
1 tbsp good balsamic vinegar
100ml red wine
100ml beef stock
Knob of butter

1. Take the frying pan again and pop in the garlic clove, shallot and thyme and cook until turning lightly golden. Next in goes the balsamic vinegar and simmer for a minute until reduced and sticky. Pop in the red wine and reduce by half before adding the stock and reducing by around just over half again. When the reduction is ready simply finish off with a small know of unsalted butter and swirl in the pan. You will be rewarded with a deep, luscious and glossy sauce ready for the fillet steak.