Tag Archives: recipe

Unfashionable Cauliflower – a retrospective (plus a recipe for Aloo Gobi)

Yet again, the subject of the poor, ganged-up-on, unpopular cauliflower has reared its curly head on the telly.  It always makes me really cross when people talk about unpopular foodstuffs.  Would the average shopper be happier if it had ‘Louis Vuitton’ stamped on every floret?  Or perhaps the Nike Turnip would prove to be a hit?  Fendi Fennel… stop me now – I’m only pretending that I know some designers.

Cauliflower is lovely and I shall prove it.  Read this article wot I wrote in May last year.

Now go and buy a cauliflower.

Than, if you want to be exotic, try this quick and delicious recipe for Aloo Gobi, a North Indian/Pakistani dish  made with cauliflower, potatoes and Indian spices.  My friend Ila also puts a handful of frozen peas in it at the potato stage.


1 x large saucepan
1 x vegetable peeler

3 tablespoons oil
1 medium onion – finely chopped
1 clove garlic – chopped
1 green chilli – chopped
1 inch / 2.5cm ginger peeled and finely chopped
2 medium potatoes – peeled and cut into smallish chunks
1 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 medium cauliflower cut into florets
a dash of lemon juice
a little salt
½ tsp garam masala

Heat the oil and fry the onion, garlic, chillis and ginger until just tender.
Add the potatoes and fry for another 2-3 minutes
Add the spices except for the garam masala, and mix well
Add a tablespoon of water, cover the pot and cook
When the potatoes are al dente add in the cauliflower.
Replace the lid and cook until the cauliflower is just soft
Add a sprinkle of lemon juice, salt and garam masala and stir well
Serve with naan or parathas


Filed under Food, Recipes, Regional

Easy cupcakes for any occasion

I’m not one for jumping on fashion bandwagons of any kind and I’m sure many of us having been making cupcakes or fairy cakes for as long as we can remember; what’s the big deal?

Of course, there isn’t one.  Cupcakes are simply 4442 sponge mixture with the decoration of your choice on the top.  You can take a week making sugar flowers or you can go to a decent kitchen shop and buy some, it all depends on the occasion.  Cookshops usually have a fabulous selection of ready-made decorations, food colourings, edible glitter and pearls.  You can have such fun and don’t need to be a skilled cake decorator to produce something lovely.

Boy the Younger will be 8 tomorrow, so I am sending him in with a tray of simple cupcakes to share with his school friends as he won’t be having a proper celebration until next month.  I’m going to do the same thing that I did for Boy the Elder’s birthday and take him and his chums to an English Heritage property and take a picnic.

  • I trebled the amount of mixture, doing 12 12 12 6 quantities which made 36 cakes
  • I trebled the quantities for the mock cream for the top. 
  • I tinted the mock cream with a tiny bit of pink food colouring – pastes are better than the cheap liquid stuff you get in the supermarket
  • I piped it through a wide serrated icing nozzle such as one might use to pipe mashed potato
  • I bought the sugar flowers and edible pearls from the Kitchen Range shop in Market Harborough
  • I used co-ordinating paper cases for the type of decoration I was doing

I was really pleased with these.  Unused as I am to blowing my own trumpet, I have a duty to let you know that I have a trumpet, so that you can have a go at making these yourselves.


Filed under Children, Family and Friends, Food, Food Presents, Recipes, Storecupboard

Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding has been around since the 11th century and is an excellent way of using up stale bread.  Nowadays, shop bought bread doesn’t go stale in the same way as home-made bread, because of the preservatives, but crusts or loaf ends sometimes get left behind, so you can use those.  I had a bag of white rolls which Boy the Elder brought back from Scout camp.  We ate a couple, but we’re not really white bread people, so they went into the bowl with some seeded, wholemeal crusts which were on the turn.

I made this yesterday evening and we had it hot for pudding with cream and then we all had a slice, cold, for breakfast.  And very nourishing it was too; bread, milk, eggs, dried fruit and not too much sugar – that’ll stick ‘em to the ground.


1 x large mixing bowl
1 x grater
1 x pair of freshly washed hands
1 x oven-proof dish, about 8×10” – buttered

8oz / 240g bread
10oz / 300g dried fruit (I used raisins)
2 teaspoons mixed spice (pumpkin spice for the Colonies…)
½ pint / 300ml milk
1 large egg (or 2 bantam eggs)
3oz / 90g dark brown sugar
the grated zest of 1 orange OR lemon
3oz / 90g butter – melted
2 tablespoons demerara sugar*
a little nutmeg to taste

Pre-heat the oven to 160 / 3 / 325
Tear the bread into pieces and place in the large bowl with all the other ingredients except the butter and demerara sugar
Leave to soak for 20 minutes
Mash it all up together with your hands, squeezing and squelching until it’s well mixed
Add the melted butter and stir in well
Pour the mixture into the ovenproof dish
Sprinkle with the demerara sugar and a little nutmeg
Bake for 1 ½ hours, covering with foil for the last half hour to stop it browning too much
Cut into squares and serve hot or cold

* If you haven’t got Demerara sugar, mix 1 tablespoon of white and 1 tablespoon of dark brown sugar together


Filed under Food, Leftovers, Recipes, Storecupboard

Nettles – the free alternative to Spinach

In which the Wartime Housewife points out that nettles gathered from the hedgerow are free whilst spinach costs over £1 per bag.  Plus a recipe for Egg Florentine Au Naturel.

Nettles - free food

While Boy the Elder was tramping through the Brecon Beacons this weekend, Boy the Younger and I decided to strike out into the countryside ourselves.  When BTY fell off his scooter for the 3rd time, he got, complaining miserably that he had been stung.  And so he had.  The very first nettles were peeping through the brown, sodden remains of last year’s foliage, vivid green and packed full of venom.

It won’t be long before we can start having Nettle Soup again! we cheered.  But nettles are a perfectly good vegetable in their own right.  The other dish I really like to make is Egg Florentine which is usually made with spinach (which is the ‘Florentine’ bit) but can be made equally well with nettles. It would make an incredibly nourishing breakfast dish as well as a light lunch.

How to prepare nettles for eating

I’m sure I don’t need to tell you to wear rubber or thick gardening gloves when harvesting nettles.  Always use the young tender leaves or the tender tops off older plants.  Get rid of any tough stalks and give them a good wash to get rid of any insects or anything else you wouldn’t want to eat.  Then treat them just like fresh spinach.


Rubber gloves
1 x small saucepan or poaching pan
2 x medium saucepan

½ carrier bag of nettles
4 eggs
1 knob of butter
1  quantity of cheese sauce – see below
a little paprika

Make the cheese sauce and keep it warm
Place the nettles into a medium saucepan with a little water and a knob of butter
Cover and steam until tender
Soft boil or poach the eggs
Drain the nettles and divide between 4 plates
Place one egg onto the top of each pile of nettles
Pour cheese sauce over the top of each
Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve immediately

Cheese sauce
2oz / 60g butter
2oz / 60g wholemeal flour (or 2 really heaped tablespoons)
4oz / 120g cheese – grated
½ pint / 300ml milk
1 pinch mustard power / ¼  teaspoon ready made mustard

Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan then slowly
Stir in the flour and mustard powder to make thick paste (a roux)
Add the milk a bit at a time, stirring constantly
Simmer gently until the sauce has thickened slightly and then stir in the cheese

The sauce can also be done in a bowl in the microwave.  Follow the steps above but instead of simmering in a pan, pop the bowl in the microwave for about 3 minutes, taking it out to stir occasionally.


Filed under Food, Hedgerows, Nutrition & Sensible Eating, Recipes, Seasonal

WH’s own Fish Pie

I was astounded to note the other day that I have never given you my top notch recipe for fish pie.  Weep no longer. 

I like to have a mixture of fish in a fish pie – white, oily and a bit of shellfish, but see what’s on offer at the fishmonger or use what you have in the freezer/larder. Don’t be afraid of adding tinned fish such as mackerel as long as it’s in brine or oil.   Also you can chuck in any nice leftovers such as peas, peppers, bits of courgette.  Go wild.


1 x large casserole dish suitable for hob and oven
1 x large saucepan
1 x grater
1 x potato masher

1 ½ lb / 720g assorted fish – cod, haddock, tuna, prawns, basa, trout etc cut into medium chunks
1 large or 2 medium carrots – grated
1 small tin of sweetcorn
1 medium onion – finely chopped
5oz / 150g butter
4oz / 120g wholemeal flour (or 4 really heaped tablespoons)
1 pint / 600ml milk
1 pinch mustard power / ¼  teaspoon ready made mustard
1 x bayleaf
1 sprig fresh parsley – finely chopped or 1 tblspn dried parsley
2lb / 1kg potatoes
4oz / 120g of hard cheese – grated

Pre-heat the oven to 190 / 375 / 5
Melt 4oz / 120g of the butter in the casserole over a medium heat
Add the onion and cook until soft and translucent
Remove from the heat and stir in the flour and mustard
Stirring continually in a figure of eight, gradually add the milk
Return to the heat and, still stirring, add the bayleaf and parsley – it should all be thickening nicely
Add the fish, carrots and sweetcorn
Season as you wish
Cover the pan and leave on a very low heat while you’re making the mash
Peel the potatoes and cut into chunks and boil in some water until just soft
Drain and mash with the remaining butter
Remove the fish mixture from the heat and pile the mashed potatoes on top
Sprinkle grated cheese on the top
Place in the oven for about half an hour until golden brown on top
Serve with an assortment of vegetables


Filed under Food, Recipes


Flapjacks 01.08.09These are the stickiest, most delicious flapjacks you will ever eat.  They are also quite rich so I would only advise small pieces (ha ha).  The recipe below is for a standard flapjack but you can add sunflower seeds, chocolate drops, pine nuts, raisins, nuts or anything you like to ring the changes.  Add them with the oats if you do this.


1 x large saucepan
1 x 7″ x 11″ (18cm x 28cm) baking tin
1 x cooling rack (the insert from a grill pan will do if you don’t have one)

1 x 12″ square flat baking sheet if you have one to catch the drips and save you having to clean your oven!


9oz  (250g)  butter
6 tablespoons golden syrup
9oz (250g) dark brown sugar
12 oz (360g) rolled oats
1 pinch salt


1.     Preheat the oven to 180oC / gas mark 5 / 360oF

2.     Melt the butter in the saucepan on a moderate heat

3.     Add the golden syrup and stir in

4.     Add the dark brown sugar and stir until they are all dissolved     together.

5.     Add the oats and salt and stir until completely combined.

6.     Pour the mixture into the baking tin

7.     If you have a baking sheet put the tin on it to catch any drips

8.     Place the tins in the centre of the oven and bake for 25 minutes

Check that it is forming a golden brown crust all over, if not give it another 5 minutes

Remember that as you are using dark sugar, the flapjacks will be darker than shop bought

9.     Remove from the oven and place on a cooling rack for 10 minutes

10.   Cut into 12 square in the tin then leave until completely cool

11.   Remove from the tin and try not to eat them all at once

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Filed under Food, Recipes