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!