Canapes Dinner Lunch Starters and Salads Uncategorized Vegetarian

Confit of Aubergine & Tomato

Make this to go with lamb, chicken or just have with bruschetta and minted yoghurt. It is best made the day before (or longer) so that the flavours can mingle and make friends but that is all to the better as so useful to have ready in advance.

Serves four to six

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 large or two small aubergine (approx 350g in weight)
1 onion, finely chopped
1 or 2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 stick celery, finely chopped
300g cherry tomatoes or ripe red tomatoes
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 dessertspoon capers, chopped
1 dessertspoon balsamic vinegar
1 dessertspoon light brown sugar
Pinch dried chilli (optional)
A few olives
Fresh basil and parsley
Salt & pepper

First brush the peppers with a little oil and put into a hot oven for about half an hour until well roasted. Put into a plastic bag and leave for ten minutes to loosen the skin.

Cut up the aubergine quite small (about 1cm pieces). Heat three tablespoons of the oil in a pan and fry the aubergine until golden and cooked through. (about 10 mins). Remove from the pan and add another tablespoon of oil. Fry the onion, garlic and celery until very soft and tinged golden and then return the aubergine to the pan. Season well and add the tomatoes, cut in half if they are cherry or skinned and chopped if they are vine tomatoes. Add the chopped capers, the vinegar and the sugar (be a bit sparing at first with these). Also the chilli. Skin and deseed the peppers in a sieve so that you can catch any juice. Chop up the flesh and add to the pan along with the saved juices. Add half the basil, chopped and simmer the whole thing for about forty minutes or until nicely reduced and rich. About half way through add some roughly chopped olives, if you are using them. Check the seasoning and stir through the rest of the basil and finely chopped parsley. Serve hot, warm or cold.

Very good on bruschetta or with a dollop of greek yoghurt and a sprinkling of mint.


Canapes Uncategorized


When the weather is hot but you need a little canape to enjoy with a glass of something chilled, this is a great alternative to the more traditional smoked salmon on brown bread. Certainly a little lighter, very pretty in pink with a sprinkling of green chives and quick to make. Just the thing as the temperature rises and you want to keep kitchen time to a minimum. Of course you could use green chicory if red isn’t available.

Makes about 30

200g packet of good quality smoked salmon
Rind and juice of a lemon
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 large shallot, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped chives
Freshly ground black pepper
pinch maldon sea salt
4 small heads of red chicory, leaves separated

Chop the salmon up into small pieces and put into a bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the chicory, reserving a few chives and mix well. Check the seasoning and adjust, adding a little more lemon or oil if you think it needs it.

Divide the chicory up into individual leaves. If they are very long then cut the wider end off. Fill with a teaspoon of salmon and place onto a nice serving plate. Sprinkle with the remaining chives.

Canapes Lunch Starters and Salads Uncategorized Vegetarian


City v Country….I love both. But it is the arrival of Spring that reminds me how very lucky I am to live in a beautiful part of Wiltshire. The air is heady with the scent and promise of bounty bursting forth and the first tentative shoots are gathering confidence. Everywhere the hedges, verges, woods and fields are springing into life and nothing is more rampant than that foragers’ favourite, wild garlic.

Be absolutely sure of what you are picking – don’t confuse the poisonous leaves of lily of the valley which can look alarmingly similar. The smell is the first sign you should look for – it really is pungently garlicky. Wild garlic first appears at the end of March and by April it has really gathered pace and tends to be prolific, so you needn’t worry about picking a bunch or two. If you don’t have any in your garden you are likely to find it in local woods where it will carpet vast swathes of the ground, much like its friend and neighbour the bluebell. Pick the young and tender leaves, keeping a long stalk if you plan on popping them in a jar of water to keep them fresh for a day or two. You can also freeze the leaves – just wash, dry well and pop them in a freezer bag. Then use straight from frozen later in the year to jazz up a risotto, pasta dish or stirfry.

Once the pretty, edibile white flowers appear they are a lovely addition to salads or warm new potatoes.

Make sure you wash the leaves well before you use them. I love them as here in a simple pesto (also great to freeze – put into an ice cube tray and then turn the cubes out and store in a freezer bag). Or wilt the leaves as you would spinach, add to a frittata, make a wild garlic and potato cake or a delicious soup (you will find a recipe for that on this website).

When I make this pesto I tend to add other herbs in just to temper the strong flavour of these leaves but you may prefer to go for the full hit and leave the parsley/basil out. If I am making the pesto to use with fish I often add in a handful of dill. Any soft herb is great and just use this recipe as a guide.

You could also make a pea pesto and add the wild garlic into that, or kale, or spinach….the possibilities are endless!!

Two big handfuls wild garlic, washed
1 small bunch flat leaf parsley
Handful of fresh basil leaves (Or any soft herbs you have to hand)
60g freshly grated parmesan
60g pinenuts, walnuts or almonds
Approx 200ml extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
Sea salt
Black pepper
Squeeze lemon juice

I use a mini chopper or processor to make my pesto but a big pestle and mortar and some elbow grease is fine.

Put the herbs, parmesan and nuts into your chopper. Add a good teaspoon of salt and a glug of oil. Whizz for a few seconds and then add more oil until you have a consistency you are happy with. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, more salt and black pepper to taste. Keep in a jam jar with a layer of oil poured protectively over the top and refrigerate.

Lovely with goats cheese on crostini, stirred through pasta or risotto, stuffed into a chicken breast, swirled onto a soup…….


Canapes Lunch Starters and Salads Uncategorized Vegetarian


Surely the prettiest of the bean family, these Italian supermodels of the veg patch provides stunning colour and if growing conditions are right, an endless supply of beans that are so versatile in the kitchen. Add to salads, soups, stews or ratatouille or simply boil until tender and toss in oil, lemon, salt & pepper and enjoy just on their own. I think this hummus recip is a great way to us them. It is so simple – like any hummus it’s just a case of blending the cooked tender beans with your chosen flavourings and keeping it as smooth or chunky as you like. I think borlotti go wonderfully with sage so I have added a little here, but parsley would do as well.

Serves Four

150g fresh borlotti beans, prodded weight
Fresh sage leaves
One lemon
Natural yoghurt (Yeo valley is my top favourite, green pot)
Clove garlic (optional)
Sea salt
Black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

Simmer the beans in enough cold water to cover them with a bay leaf, sprig of sage and some salt until tender. This could be twenty to forty minutes depending on how big the beans are. I tend to go for medium sized ones that are a lovely pistachio green colour. Try to keep them evenly sized and reserve any tiny ones for decoration.

Drain the beans, discard the herbs and reserve the cooking liquid. Put the beans into a small food processor or mini chopper. Add a spoonful of tahini, the same of natural yoghurt, the rind of the lemon and juice of half, some finely shredded young sage (about a teaspoon), lots of sea salt and black pepper and the garlic if using. Blend until smooth. Add either some of the cooking liquid or some cold water to help soften the texture. You will need at least two or three tablespoons. Add a tablespoon of the oil and more lemon juice as required. Check the seasoning.

Turn into a bowl and add a few very tiny borlotti beans if you have any, along with more shredded sage and a drizzle of extra virgin oil.


Canapes Starters and Salads


Makes about 30 canapes

350g Maris Piper potato
2 balls\300g beetroot
100g butter, clarified
Fresh thyme
Salt & Pepper
Tub crème fraiche
Jar of horseradish sauce
One pack of smoked venison/beef/hot smoked salmon
Herbs to garnish (thyme, dill, parsley, chervil, chives)

Mix a couple of teaspoons of horseradish into the crème fraiche and season. Put back in the fridge to firm up for a few hours.

Peel and grate the beetroot, using a coarse grater.

Grate the potato using the same coarse grater into a clean tea towel and squeeze out the moisture. Put your potato into a bowl and add two good tablespoons of the clarified butter. Mix well and season. Add the beetroot and season again. Add some finely chopped thyme. Heat the oven to 180c.

Heat a non stick pan over a medium heat. Add a couple of tablespoons of the clarified butter. Take, if you have one, a 1.5 inch cutter. Put in the pan and half fill with your potato mixture. Start at 12.00 in the pan and work round, filling the cutter, pressing the potato down and then pulling the cutter off. Once you have filled the pan start turning the rosti over with a pallet knife, making sure they are turning golden brown underneath. Once you have browned them on both sides remove to a baking tray until you have cooked all the rosti. Keep an eye as they do burn!

Bake in the oven for about ten minutes or until tender all the way through. Remove from the oven and cool for a few minutes.

Top the rosti with some horseradish crème fraiche and a piece of smoked venison/beef/salmon. Garnish with herbs.

You can make the potato mixture the day before and the rosti can be made in advance and then refreshed in the oven if you think they need it. The raw mixture will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.