Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Bettys Hotpot from Coronation Street

I was asked to make Bettys Hotpot for the Coronation St 5oth anniversary for Radio Cumbria. Here is a link to the website and the recording. For the folks outside the UK Coronation St is a famous TV soap set in Lancashire and the folks visiting the Rovers Return pub always had this hot pot.

The receipe came from

1lb of lamb- I used shoulder cubed
1 onion sliced
1 tablespoon flour
1lb potatoes sliced in rounds thinly
3/4 pint stock and 2 lamb stock cubes
dripping to fry the meat about 1oz
1 tablsp Worcester sauce
1 bay leaf.
Fry the sliced onions in the dripping Move to the hot pot dish for the oven. Fry the sliced onions
until soft but not brown then add the flour. Stir well to blend in the flour. Add the stock and stir to make sure there are no lumps. Add the worcester souce and stock cubes.Put this on top of the meat with the bay leaf. Wash the sliced potato's and pat them dry. Layer them on top of the meat with salt and pepper in between the layers. Bake about gas 3/4 or 150c for about 2 hours.
I put a little water in the potato layers to make sure they did not dry out too much. It needs a bit more liquid in the pot to start off as it will boil down in the oven. I turned up the oven high for another 30mins to make sure the meat was really soft and the potato's really crunchy on top and not too liquid on the plate.
The recipe says serve with chips - I wouldn't. Pickled Red cabbage or beetroot.
The folks at Radio Cumbria said the recipe did not need any adjustments and it tasted very good. The lunchtime sandwiches took a back seat.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

New Website

Coming soon new website. I have discovered that with a google blog I dont own the name or the site contents. and it can be taken away if Google want the name back. I have a new website in hand and will post with details when it is ready.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Radio Cumbria 27/9/10

Cooking with Grannie took to the airwaves today. I was featured on Radio Cumbria with Fern on the wireless and my Vegetarian Chilli which he ate all up. Describing how to cut up an onion without visuals took a bit of thinking about but made it. Peeling like a banana came from that and I have included it in the post about onions. There is not a lot of room in a studio to put a chopping board.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Carrot and Coriander soup

Dry fry the coriander seeds until they just turn brown.
The second photo is before it is liquised.
Some friends of mine have been waiting a long time for this recipe so here it is. You need

3 fairly large carrots

1 onion

1 teaspoon of coriander seeds

2 vegetable stock cubes

2 tablespoons of cooking oil

Cut up the onion in to smallish pieces and peel and chop the carrots into smallish chunks. Large chunks just take longer to cook. Cook the onion in the oil until transparent. Make sure the heat is not too hot as you do not want the onions to go brown for this dish. Add the stock cubes and the carrots. While you are waiting for the onions to cook, dry fry the coriander seeds. Heat your frying pan and then put the seeds into it. Dry fry them for only a few minutes and they have changed colour slightly. Don't let them get really brown otherwise the soup will be bitter.

Add the seeds and water enought to just cover the vegetables. Cook with a lid on until the carrots are soft. About 20 mins. Either liquidise with a liquidiser or use a stick blender to smooth the soup. Dont use the soup while its hot in a liquidiser it will splash out of the top of it. Leave it to cool a bit or add cold water to it to liquidise. It will need more water to finish it anyway as this is too concentrated. This batch of soup measured 2 pints before it was liquidised and I added 1 more pint of cold water. Just keep tasting until you get the right amount of water.
Re-heat and serve with either some chopped chives or creme fraiche.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Peaches with almonds and vanilla

Peaches this time of year in the UK are delicious. Soft and juicy and the fragrance fills your nose when eating them. They are summer on a plate.
This dish is maximum nutrition and flavour for minimum effort which is what this blog is about.
Cut a peach in two and then slice it. Put the cut side down on the cutting board do not try and cut it towards you into your hand.
Put the slices on a plate. The photo on the left is half a peach. Drizzle over the top vanilla extract. Its brown and sticky and has the seeds in it. Vanilla essence is a substitute but is not quite the same. Top with ground almonds and serve with creme fraiche.
Coming soon.....a dish that can be a summer salad or main course

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

How to cut up an onion

There are many ways of cutting up an onion this is one of them that will produce small squares usually called dice.

1 There is a top and bottom to an onion. The bottom has roots on it and the top is like a daffodil bulb. Slice off the top and leave the bottom on with the roots.

2 Peel back the brown skin like peeling a banana
and leave it on. This and the roots will create a handle to hold.

3 Slice the onion down into the handle you have made but not all the way through. The closer the cuts the smaller the dice will be.

4 Then cut across the onion the other way to make small squares.

5 Finally hold the handle end, squeeze the cut sides together and cut down onto the board. Throw away the remaining brown leaves and root which is left.

Vegetarian Chilli

This vegetarian chilli takes about 20 minutes to make. The amount of chilli powder can vary depending how hot you like your chilli. If you like it fairly hot add a small fresh chilli. If you cut up a fresh chilli always wash your hands immediately. The juice burns your skin so do not touch your face or anywhere else.
I like to serve the meal with a spoon of plain yogurt or creme fraiche.


1 onion
1tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder
1 carrot
about 10 green beans
1 can of chopped tomatoes
half a can of red kidney beans
1 stock cube
to finish the dish
basil leaves from the supermarket plant on my windowsill
plain yogurt or creme fraiche


Cut up a small or medium onion fairly small and cook it on a low heat in a tablespoon of vegetable oil until it is transparent. About 5 minutes. Add the chilli powder and cook for a minute still on a low heat. Add a carrot cut up fairly small and some halved green beans then the can of tomato's and the stock cube.
Cook for 20 minutes on a low heat until the carrots are soft then add the red beans and heat through for 5 minutes.
Serve with cooked rice, some basil leaves on top and plain yoghourt.

coming soon to cut up an onion

Tomato and watercress salad

This very simple salad or side dish is packed with vitamins and takes minutes to prepare. Eat with crusty bread for a lunch dish or other salads for a main meal.

I like baby plum tomato's for this salad as the flavour is very sweet. They are packed with vitamin C. It is not usual for a green leafy vegetable to be packed with Vitamin C but Watercress is and iron.

The shavings of parmesan cheese look cheffy and all you do is put the blade of a heavy knife on a piece of hard salty cheese and pull the blade towards you. It will produce the shavings in the photo above.


Cut 6 baby plum tomatoes in two.
Tear in two about 6 black olives.
Add a bunch of watercress.
Drizzle french dressing on the tomatoes.
Top with a few shavings of parmesan or other hard salty cheese.

Radio Cumbria

Radio Cumbria are interested in what I have been doing recently and I have recorded five slots for their Little Cumbria session. It is broadcast between 17.45 and 1800 Monday 23 August to Friday 27 August. Cooking with Grannie is mentioned quite a lot.
Please do listen and leave a post what you think of it.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Aubergine with spring onions, pine nuts and goats cheese

This looks like an unlikely combination but tastes great, looks 'cheffy' and takes minutes.

DIY cooking at its best.

I use a cast iron ridged grill pan for lots of different types of cooking this is one of them.

If Augerbine is cooked fairly quickly it does not get mushy. The few minutes grill time is excellent for this recipe.

The full fat organic goats cheese which I thought might be a bit 'goaty' was not and was a pleasant surprise. It was soft, mild and creamy and the texture was ideal with the other ingredients. It was from my national chain local supermarket.


Cut an aubergine in two lengthwise. Cut into about 4 or 5 slices lengthwise. Sprinkle liberally with ordinary cooking oil making sure there are no dry spots. Put a ridged grill pan on to heat. Do not put oil into the grill pan. Grill the aubergine on both sides until soft. Turn over once. About 2 minutes should do it. Put onto a plate. Put into the pan a chopped up spring onion leave until still crunchy and add a few pine nuts until they are toasted. Put over the aubergine. Sprinke with lemon juice and salt and pepper. Drizzle some green olive oil round the edge of the plate. Top with crumbled goats cheese.

Add chopped red pepper if you like it or if you like hot dishes add a chopped up chilli.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

I want to let you into a secret.....

For anyone who does not cook much or does not know how to tackle a recipe there is a secret I want to share with you.

Top chefs and the people who publish recipes try them a lot before they publish them. So what ever is published has been practised and practised, modified and worked out how to do it. All my recipes have pencil notes at the side - 'needs lemon' says one. A favourite for bonfire night, treacle toffee recipe says 120 degrees ( on a sugar thermometer) a bit soft and chewy at first but sets harder overnight.

It matters how accurate your oven is, if it's hotter at the top or in the middle. That means that if you try to cook a pastry dish or cake, it will brown too much on the top before the middle is done. What type of tray you use to cook a pie matters. Metal or ceramic will produce a different result. Metal is a better conductor of heat and will produce a more even result. Ceramic is thicker and sometimes the cooking time is longer. What shape are the bun tins for the muffins, straight sided or wider at the top.

How old are your pans? How thick or thin are the bottoms of them? If they are uneven (old) on the bottom they will produce uneven results. It even matters if your pan is the same diameter as the gas flame or the electric ring. If it is bigger than the flame or base you will have the food not being cooked round the edge of the pan.

I used to know of a top chef that always took a sugar thermometer with him to check the temperature of unknown ovens he was using. Even if an oven door does not shut properly the temperature of the oven is not going to be the same.

Microwave ovens can have a place in today's kitchen of busy families but they do not do what an oven does or produce the same results.

So if your recipe does not turn out how you thought it would have a look at how your equipment is working - or not.

Just try a recipe out, keep practising it until it comes out how you want it to. That's what top chefs do. Everyone starts at the beginning. Try it out, have some fun and then OH YES eat it!

Thursday, 29 July 2010

DIY Coleslaw

For DIY coleslaw you require

1/2 cabbage, a firm cabbage not a savoy
1 carrot peeled and grated
1/2 an onion grated
salad cream or mayonnaise

Cut a cabbage into two down the middle with a big knife.

Cut a v shape out of the core and discard it.

Cut the cabbage in two.
Put half the cabbage cut flat side down on the cutting board. Cut into several lengths.

Squeeze the lengths together with one hand. Chop across the lengths to make shorter pieces.

Grate carrot and onion to add to it.

Add salad cream or mayonnaise to bind it all together. Mayonnaise is thick and coleslaw works better with thinner salad cream.

Top with your favourites, Nuts, Cheese, or Pumpkin seeds. Goes well with baked potatoes, cold meats and in sandwiches.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Food producers and suppliers

I would like to have a section of Cumbrian suppliers of food on my blog as the quality of the meats and cheeses in this area is superb. In researching this piece I was delighted to have found a local supplier of Willie's Cacao. Willi Harcourt made a BBC programme about his mammoth task over about 15 years to grow and produce his own cacao and produce chocolate products from it in the UK. is a deli in a larger garden centre. They have meat from local and scottish farms and cheese from award winning Thornby Moor at Wiggonby near Carlisle.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Heston Blumenthal does Willy Wonka

I think this channel 4 item was first broadcast in April 2010. It is amazing. It even has an edible golden ticket as well as a chocolate fountain. How Heston thinks it all up is stunning.

Blackcurrant jam

This is a family favourite and and annual event when it happens. With lots of looking at the bushes to see if the currants are ready and a scramble to pick them when its not raining. The recipe is from a battered WI cookbook that has a rubber band around it to stop the pages falling out. It comes under something worth making yourself as the taste is sooooo good.

1350g blackcurrants
1.7 litres water
2250g white sugar

Picking the stalks off is messy and sticky. keep running your hands underneath the tap to keep them wet and the currants will not stick to your hands.

Clean the currants and put into the jam pan with the water. Cook until soft. Add the sugar, stir until disolved before boiling on a full rolling boil to set. Keep testing a drop on a plate every 5 minutes to see if the jam wrinkles. Pot and seal while hot.

What knife to use for what job

Looking at a knife to buy for your kitchen can be a bewildering experience. There are many different types of knives to buy from the supermarket or specialist kitchen shop and what knife to buy for what job is essential knowledge.
The blades should not bend or flex or they will not be rigid enough to get through hard food to chop it up.

I would like to first talk to anyone who has tried to cut up a turnip which is hard, large root vegetable with a small vegetable knife, the green handled one in the pic. Which is the type of knife most folks would have in their kitchen. The larger of the two orange handled knives would be the one to use to cut a hard root vegetable in two or four pieces, then peel it with the small knife. What larger knives do is use the weight of the knife for the cutting. Like cutting anything up you have to be careful it does not skid and the knife will go into your hand. Find a flat piece of the vegetable you are cutting up and put that on the flat side of the cutting board. If your work surface is smooth put a damp cloth underneath the chopping board to stop it slipping.
The serrated riveted handled knife is a bread knife and is good for crusty bread.
Do not ever store sharp knives in a drawer. Its easy to put your hand in and get hold of the blade. Use a knife block with slots for the blades. Do not put knives in the sink with the other washing up for the same reason, wash separately. Blunt blades skid as the pressure you have to put on them is hard and either the blades or the food being cut up skids.
Below is a link to a site that sells kitchen equipment including knives.

Friday, 23 July 2010

coming soon

on their way soon

* how to sharpen knives

* carrot and coriander soup for some friends of mine who like it.

Food from Amazon

There was a report on UK TV this morning saying that online retailer Amazon were doing food deliveries. Mainly for items hard to get out of London. My local supermarket which is a national chain have not heard of pomegranate molasses. Has anyone experience of buying from Amazon food?

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort-pasta, Pecorino cheese and grilled juicy baby plum tomato's

This is no ordinary cheese. Sometimes a small portion of cheese that tastes great is worth it.

Pecorino Romano is a hard salty cheese from sheeps milk. In the UK readily available from supermarkets. It is perfect in salads and sauces.

It taste great with pasta and tomatoes and mixes in well. It is the quality of the ingredients that gives the fantastic taste.

Cook as much pasta as you need for the people you are serving. Grill tomatoes until they are soft. My pic is 4 for one person. These are baby plum tomatoes and great for taste. This cooking time is about 10 minutes for pasta and grilling.

Put the cooked pasta on a plate. Put grated Pecorino cheese over the top and then the soft grilled tomatoes. Tear some basil leaves over the top and grind some black pepper to finish. I added a sprinkling of green olive oil as well.

Storing food - fridge thermometers then lettuce

Storing food is a big subject. If you are throwing food away you are throwing money down the drain, in the dustbin or garbage. In the worlds current climate money is tight and most people do not have money to throw away. Anything therefore that can save waste, food miles and money is therefore worth considering. The first item in this series about storing food is a fridge thermometer which hangs on a shelf with a hook. Unless your fridge is running at the right temperature food will deteriorate more quickly than it should. The pic of the thermometer shows a small blue block half way along which is the right temperature for your fridge, 0-5C degrees as recommended by the UK food standards agency. It will save you money.
Only a couple of days after I wrote this I looked at my fridge thermometer and lo and behold the little red line had not gone down to the little blue block and my milk was turning sour. My old and trusty fridge had given up and I could not get it mended as it was too old. What was interesting was the fridge felt cold.
The new one has glass shelves that get quite cold and I can understand they will keep food chilled. I was interested in if the settings of 1 2 3 4 took the temperture down to where it should be. The factory setting was 2. I tried 2 and a half, it was still 10 degrees above after 1 hour. I have ended up running it at 3 to get it down to 5 degrees. It is July in the UK and should be hot air but being the UK its only about 18C. So the ingoing air was not hot.
Please be aware that the temperatures as quoted in the food agency standards are too cold for tender items like lettuce. They are better kept in the salad drawer so they are protected.
However I thought you might like the story of keeping lettuce ' before fridges.' Which seems unthinkable now.
Wrap a lettuce in newspaper. Wet the newspaper all over until quite damp. Store in a pan with the lid on. As the newspaper dries out re wet the newspaper. It really does work and I have kept a lettuce in a pan for a week and it was quite fresh. Let me know if you try it.

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort-cauliflower

Cauliflower only takes a few minutes to boil to a stage where it's still firm and tastes nutty. The yoghourt and tahini dressing on the side for this dish is courtesy of Otam Ottolenghi although this is a simple version. The dish is dressed with toasted hazlenuts and toasted pine nuts. Dry frying them adds to the depth of flavour and is worth doing. The tahini and yoghourt dressing thickens when mixed so put the yoghourt in the dish first then add the tahini to make sure the dressing is not too thick. Chop the nuts with a knife. The electric chopper will make them too fine.

1 boil half a cauliflower in salted water until the stalks are still firm but soft, and drain well.
2 Mix 2 tablespoons of plain yoghourt with 2 teaspoons of tahini.
3 In a frying pan dry toast hazelnuts and pine nuts. Sometimes UK supermarkets sell already toasted chopped ones in a packet. Chop whole hazelnuts with a knife.
3 Put the warm or cold cauliflower on your plate and scatter the toasted chopped hazelnuts on top. Top the dressing with the pine nuts.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Maximum nutrition for minimum effort -green bean salad

This is a very simple dish and fits in with DIY cooking and little effort. French Beans, herbs, french dressing and peanuts.

The pic on the left shows morjoram and chives from the supermarket now in my garden in pots.

Cook the sliced french beans in boiling salted water. While they are still warm toss them in french dressing. Mine has grainy mustard in it. Top with chopped chives marjoram and peanuts.

This can be part of a buffet or a main meal.
Eat with crusty bread or a rice salad.

Still doing red currants

Fresh from the garden.

This is the easiest way to take the redcurrants from the stalk. Hold them lightly between right hand thumb and forefinger and pull the stalk away from you with the left hand. Cook the red currants with just enough water to cover them. When soft they have to drain in a jelly bag overnight to extract the juice. Measure the amount of juice and for every 600ml of juice 450g white sugar. Dissolve the sugar in the hot juice in the jam pan and boil until set and then put into pots.
The finished jelly.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Red Currant Jelly

It's that time of year when the berries and currants are ready to make into jam. What is not clear from this photo is how much plastic netting is round the bushes to stop the birds eating them.

In my walled garden I have red and blackcurrants. Victoria Plums, Damsons, Conference pears and James Grieve apples. To day the red currants are ready to pick and are to be made into jelly.

Good for glazing or even on toast.

I bought a new jam pan last year which fits my cooker ring exactly. If the jam pan does not fit there are parts of the pan contents which do not boil and the jam does not get to a full rolling boil to enable it to set.
When I work out how to get more than one pic on a blog in the right place this will carry on a bit longer.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Food Writing in Devon

Hi Everyone

here in Devon with a great group of writers and Chefs Peter Gordon and
Yotam Ottolenghi with Arvon Foundation Food writing course at Totleigh Barton.

The evening meal has turned into quite a competition between the course members with bigger and more elaborate dishes each night. Peter and Yotam cannot resist passing through the kitchen to see if they can help. They are fabulous Tutors and are accessable all the time to ask questions of any kind. It's great being with like minded people with such a wide range of talents and experience.

Groups of four people cook each night and here are some sample menus created out the ingredients on hand.

This is beef day Menu.

Mossaman Potato and sping onion curry
Vietmanese Braised beef with hot and sour salad
Gado Gado
Sweetcorn and spinach fritters with sweet chilli raita
pack choi with soy and roasted peanuts
Pineapple carpacoo with mint and sugar
the ginger taramisu was so authentic as it was mad by an Italian lady. Yum

Fish day menu

macarel sashimi
scollops with charizo chips
grilled seabass with lemon tomato and bay leaves
courgette frittata with blue cheese
Linguine with chilli,crab, grilled squid and mushrooms
stuffed courgettes with cous cous
tomato salad green herb salad
beans and raddish butter and herb potato salad
rhubarb charlotte
gooseberry fool

More Menus and photos to follow