Recipes, food and family views from Beverley

  • Jelly Brains for Halloween

    I love my job, this is what I did yesterday in preparation for my Halloween Whizz Bang workshop tomorrow.  These take around 20 minutes to set due to use of Gellazoon or Gellan Gum, a molecular gastronomy powder which makes instant setting jelly.  If you don't have any of this in your kitchen (!) then you can use agar agar which sets pretty quickly or gelatine*.  If using gelatine you'll need to make these over 1-2 days to allow setting time.  The brain jelly moulds are bought from Amazon and they work really well.  The YouTube version is here.

    makes 4 jelly brains
    200ml strawberry milk
    4 flat scoops of gellazoon or 2g Gellan Gum
    raspberry jam

    Heat the milk and gellazoon or gellan in a saucepan, stirring constantly, until it boils.  Remove from the heat and half fill the brain moulds.  Leave for 5 minutes or so until set, keep the milk warm or it will set.  To set quicker place the moulds in ice water.


    Once set place half a teaspoon of raspberry jam in the centre of the jelly brains and carefully top up with the rest of the milk.  Leave for 10 minutes or so to set.

    brainjelly2sqsmallbrainjelly3sqsmallTurn out onto a plate, and brush with a little extra jam to create and gooey effect on the brain.

    * if using gelatine use half the quantity of milk. Dissolve the sheet gelatine (check instructions for correct quantities to use) in the strawberry milk and half fill the moulds as before. Leave overnight to set.  Add the jam and make up the rest of the milk and gelatine and fill up the mould. Leave to set overnight.


  • Roast tomato, chicken and lentil soup

    This soup was made up from leftovers in my fridge.  A few sad looking tomatoes and red peppers, left over chicken from a Sunday roast and some lentils to add extra protein.  It was delicious.

    4 large vine tomatoes, quartered
    1 red pepper, cut into 6-8 pieces
    2 red onions, quartered
    4 garlic cloves, skinned
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    1 tablespoon sunflower oil
    1 stick cinnamon
    1 teaspoon curry powder (korma, madras, whatever you prefer)
    120g red lentils, washed
    leftover chicken, diced
    500ml chicken stock
    knob of butter
    2 shallots, finely diced
    1 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped
    juice of lemon

    1. Preheat the oven to 220c/gas 8/AGA roasting oven.
    2. Lay the tomatoes, pepper, onions and garlic on a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and season, roast for 20-30 minutes until just starting to char at the edges
    3. Dry fry the cumin and coriander seeds until aromatic, roughly ground in a pestle and mortar.  In the  meantime add the sunflower oil to the pan, add the cinnamon stick, curry powder, cook for 1 minute and add the cumin and coriander mix.
    4. Add the roast veg along with the lentils, chicken and stock, season, bring to the boil and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked. (AGA: transfer to the simmering oven for 20 minutes)
    5. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, add the diced shallots and cook until crispy (AGA: transfer the trying pan to the floor of the roasting oven for around 5 minutes - keep checking them so they don't over cook and burn).
    6. Blitz the soup with a stick blender or food processor, stir in the chopped coriander and lemon juice and serve with some of the shallots sprinkled over.
  • Slow Roast Shoulder of Lamb with a Moroccan Twist

    This is a fabulously easy meal that is equally good for a midweek family meal, Sunday lunch or supper for friends.   Start cooking it in the morning and just leave it on a low heat for 6-10 hours so you could slam it in the oven at 7.30am and it would be ready to eat when the children come home from school.  Serve with baked potatoes, mash, roasties or spiced rice or jewelled couscous and some green veg.  It's equally good in the summer served with fatoush or other Middle Eastern salads

    Serves 6

    1 shoulder of lamb
    2 onions, thickly sliced
    8 garlic cloves, left in their skin
    1 lemon, thickly sliced
    1 tablespoon pomegranate molasses
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    1 teaspoon cumin seeds
    1 teaspoon coriander seeds
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1 teaspoon salt
    1 teaspoon fennel seeds

    Heat the oven to 220c/gas 8/AGA roasting oven.  Score the fat on the lamb crossways, drizzle a little olive oil into a large roasting tin, lay the onion slices, garlic and lemon slices in the bottom and lay the lamb over the top. Spoon the pomegranate molasses and olive oil over the lamb and rub into the cracks in the fat so the lamb is well covered.

    Dry roast the cumin and coriander seeds in a dry frying pan until fragrant, roughly crush in a pestle and mortar.  Mix with the ground cinnamon, salt and fennel seeds and scatter over the lamb.  Cover with tin foil and roast for 20 minutes.  Turn the oven down to 150c/gas 3 or transfer to the oven floor of the simmering over of an AGA for 5-9 hours, basting occasionally to make sure it keeps moist.

    Lift the lamb onto a large plate and shred the meat from the bone, removing the fat. Spoon off most of the fat in the roasting tin and transfer the juices to a jug, the juice will be delicious as it is and you shouldn't need to thicken it.  Serve immediately with the roast onion and garlic on the side.

  • Chicken Tagine with Couscous and Harissa

    This makes a delicious family friendly midweek meal.  You can start making it the night before or in them morning and allow it to marinade, if you forget just leave it as long as possible, even 30 minutes will do. Those who like it spicy can pour over the harissa.  Serve it with couscous or rice.

    Ingredients for 4 people

    2 large brown onions, chopped
    5 cloves or garlic, chopped
    1 small bunch coriander, chopped
    pinch of sea salt
    1 tsp coriander seeds
    1 tsp cumin seeds
    1/2 tsp turmeric
    1 tsp rose harissa
    Juice of 1 lemon
    extra virgin olive oil

    4 chicken breasts, skinned and cut into 4 pieces each
    1 large brown onion, roughly chopped
    2 carrots, roughly copped
    chicken stock
    1 preserved lemon, finely chopped
    1 tbsp honey
    sunflower oil

    Juice of 2 lemons
    1 tsp rose harissa
    2 tbsp liquid from the tagine

    Blitz all the chermoula ingredients in a mini food processor.  Transfer to a bowl and add the chicken breasts.  Cover, put into the fridge and leave to marinade for 4-24 hours if possible.

    Heat a tablespoon of sunflower oil in a casserole, tip in the chicken and marinade and gently cook until the chicken is sealed.  Add all the other ingredients for the tagine and pour over sufficient chicken stock to cover the chicken and vegetables.  Bring the boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20-30 minutes until the chicken is cooked and the carrots are soft.  AGA transfer to the simmering oven for 45 minutes.

    To serve stir together 2 tablespoons of the tagine liquid with the lemon juice and rose harissa to make a thin sauce.  Steam some couscous, pile the tagine over the couscous and finish with a drizzle of harissa.

  • Halloween Recipe Development

    With only a couple of weeks to go I've been getting gruesomely creative in the Halloween department.  I'm running two workshops, Spooky Food which has been really popular over the years and is great for younger children and Whizz Bang Food.

    I created Whizz Bang Food an introduction to molecular gastronomy for teenagers.  The aim was to entice children who love science but maybe don't see cooking as cool to come along and try this alternative approach.  Heston Blumenthal for kids really.

    The workshop teaches spherification (caviar pearls), reverse spherification (blackcurrant bubbles), deconstruction (chocolate powder), gelification (instant setting spaghetti jelly) and some classic foodie science dishes such as making green fried eggs and setting off a bottle of pepsi with mentoes in the garden.  Plus making chocolates with popping candy.

    For Halloween I wanted to develop this into a gruesome version so here's what I came up with:

    • Reverse spherification - coconut panna cotta bubbles on a bed of raspberry coulis with green irises to look like eyeballs on blood.
    • Deconstruction and gelification - pink jelly worms on edible soil
    • popping candy skulls
    • plus skulls with raspberry jam goo inside.

    I had great fun playing with the skull chocolate moulds yesterday, they taste fantastic and received comments from the children -f

    "They are soo cool"

    "OMG they are awesome, are they ALL chocolate"

    Yeay, now to make up the eyeballs...

  • Ravioli and Victoria Sponge with the children at Saturday morning cooking club

    I had heaps of requests to make pasta, especially ravioli, from the children from my Saturday morning cooking club.  So today I kept my promise as we made cheese and ham ravioli with the option of turning this into tortellini.

    Audrey at Tring made Mini Victoria Sponges, which I think looked equally as good as the ones of the Great British Bake Off last week.   The difference being that the contestants on the GBBO were all over 10 years old and had a lot more experience than our children did, plus they had time to pipe the buttercream, we didn't.  All in all I think the children could give the contestants' Victoria Sponges a run for their money, don't you?


    Back in Princes Risborough with the help of Ruby and Chloe, my red and pink KitchenAids plus pasta rollers, the children made the pasta by hand then used the machines to roll the dough.  There were a number of requests of where to buy the KitchenAids as the pasta attachments make it so easy to roll out the dough, much easier than the hand machines.

    The filling was made with or without sun dried tomatoes, this week it was the younger children who were more fussy re the filling than the older ones, which is unusual.  Usually the littler ones go for it and will try most things, whereas the teenagers are the ones who need coaxing into trying new foods so that made a nice change.

    Here's the video on YouTube so you can see the reaction to sun dried tomatoes.

    Making tortellini was a little more fiddly to make, making sure you didn't put too much filling in the centre and then wrapping it around a finger while attempting to stick it together with the other hand was great fun.

    At the end of the morning the children all had a selection of ravioli and tortellini to take home, cook and share with their family, I await feedback next week when we're making eclairs.ravioli1sqsmall ravioli3sqsmall

  • Cheese and Ham Ravioli

    Homemade pasta is really easy to make, you can mix it in a food processor or mixer using a dough hook. ‘OO’ flour gives the best results, if you can’t get hold of this then use a strong plain flour recommended for bread making.

    Ingredients: for around 500g dough

    400g semolina or ‘OO’ flour
    4 medium eggs
    1 x tablespoon olive oil
    Semolina for dusting

    Ingredients: for the filling
    150g mozzarella, (one ball) drained and finely chopped
    50g Parmesan, finely grated
    50g Parma ham or cooked ham, roughly torn
    4-5 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped (optional)
    handful of fresh basil leaves, finely torn

    How to make ravioli... WASH YOUR HANDS

    1. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Using your fingers make a well in the centre of the mound of flour.
    2. Break the eggs into the small bowl (to make sure that you can scoop out any eggshell if you need to) and then pour the eggs into the well in the centre of the flour. Add a tablespoon of olive oil.
    3. Using your fingertips, gradually mix the flour into the eggs, stirring the ingredients together until they form a dough.
    4. Using both hands, knead the dough (to knead, use the ‘heel’ of your hands and push the dough away from you with one hand whilst turning it a quarter turn with the other). Knead for approximately 10 minutes until it is smooth and not sticky.
    5. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge to ‘rest’ for 30 minutes.
    6. Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour. Split the dough into two balls, cover one ball in cling film and pop it back in the fridge. Roll out the dough ball very, very thinly. Place the pasta sheet on a clean piece of baking parchment, sprinkle with semolina and cover with cling film to prevent it drying out. Repeat with the second ball of dough.
    7. Make the ravioli filling: Mix together all the ingredients, cover and set aside.
    8. To cut into ravioli - wait until pasta is no longer very sticky, transfer one sheet to a piece of baking parchment or work surface dusted with semolina. Dust the sheet with semolina and place teaspoonfuls of filling on the sheet, making sure there is space between them. Dampen the bare areas of pasta with water and lay a second sheet on top.
    9. Press down gently between the mounds of filling sticking the sheets together and squeezing out any air bubbles. Use a round bladed knife or cookie cutter to carefully cut the ravioli shapes, making sure that the edges are securely stuck together. Dust with semolina and cover with clingfilm, repeat with the rest of the pasta sheets. (Alternatively you can keep the pasta for a couple of hours in an airtight container in the fridge.)
    10. To cook the ravioli; bring a large pan of salted water to the boil, reduce to a simmer and gently plunge the ravioli into it and cook for around 4-6 minutes until the pasta is ‘al dente’.   Drain, drizzle over some olive oil and serve with freshly ground black pepper, a scattering of basil leaves and some parmesan shavings.

    To make Tortellini:

    Cut discs out of the sheets of pasta with an 8cm round cookie cutter, place teaspoonfuls of the filling in the centre of each disc, wet the edges with a little water and fold the pasta over to make a semicircle. Squeeze out any air bubbles. Dab one end of the semicircle with a little water, wrap it around your finger, or borrow someone else's, and press the edges together to stick. Take it off your (or their) finger and place it on a baking tray, sprinkle with semolina. Cook as before.

  • Bean Burgers with homemade slaw

    These are not your average boring bean burgers; these are packed with flavour and taste fabulous, serve them with homemade coleslaw and if you don’t have time to make the curry paste then use some from a jar.

    Ingredients: serves 4-6

    2 x 400g jars mixed beans or kidney and black beans, drained and rinsed
    125g breadcrumbs
    1 tablespoon Beverley's curry paste
    1 egg, beaten
    Bunch fresh coriander, chopped
    1 apple
    1 carrot
    half a red cabbage
    150g plain yoghurt
    2 teaspoon black mustard seeds
    Juice of 1 lemon or lime
    Wholemeal burger buns to serve
    Sea salt and black pepper

    How to make bean burgers and slaw...WASH YOUR HANDS

    1. Roughly mash the beans and add the breadcrumbs, curry paste, egg and coriander. Season with sea salt and pepper and stir well to amalgamate all the ingredients.
    2. Wet your hands (stops the mixture sticking) and split the mixture into 4 or 6 balls (depending how big you want the burgers to be), flatten them gently. Line a baking tray with foil, heat the grill to high, transfer the burgers to the tray and cook under the hot grill for 10-15 minutes turning them frequently. They should be crisp and golden.
    3. To make the slaw; peel and grate the apple and carrot then either grate or very thinly slice the red cabbage. Mix together the yoghurt, mustard seeds and lemon or lime juice. Pour over the grated veg and stir to mix.
    4. To serve, split and toast the burger buns, fill with a burger and top with slaw.

    The burgers freeze well, freeze at point 3 just after you’ve flattened the balls, to cook from frozen; bake at 200c/gas 6/AGA roasting oven, shelf on bottom set of runners for 20-30 minutes.


    English – substitute the curry paste with tomato puree, top with homemade ketchup, slices of red onion and a smear of English mustard

    Mexican - substitute the curry paste with 2 teaspoons chipotle paste, use lime juice in the slaw and top with a slice of avocado and some tomato salsa.

    Italian – substitute the curry paste for a handful of shopped basil, add a finely chopped red pepper or 1-2 from a jar, drained and finely chopped, top with a slice of mozzarella and a smear of fresh pesto.

  • Ginger Snaps with spelt flour

    One of my favourite classic English biscuits, ideal for dunking into tea or coffee and super quick and easy to make.  This version uses wholemeal spelt flour and my children didn't notice - result

    For approximately 16-18 biscuits

    50g butter
    50g light muscovado sugar
    50g golden syrup
    110g wholemeal spelt flour
    1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
    1 teaspoon ground ginger

    1. Preheat the oven to 180c/gas 4/ AGA roasting oven third set of runners.
    2. Place the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan over a low heat and stir until melted.
    3. Mix together the flour, bicarbonate of soda and ginger, pour in the melted ingredients and stir to form a dough.
    4. Place teaspoonfuls of mixture on a greased and lined baking tray, making sure they have plenty of room to spread, you will probably only get 9-12 biscuits on one tray.
    5. Bake for 8-12 minutes until deep golden brown (AGA 6-7 minutes), leave on the tray for 15-20 minutes until cool and hardened then transfer to a cooling rack to crisp up.
  • Elderberry Cordial

    It's glorious weather at the moment to get outside, drag the kids and dogs with you and get picking some of those gorgeous ripe elderberries.  They make the most wonderful winter cordial and with the addition of the cloves the finished drink is lovely and soothing for winter sore throats.  Top the cordial up with hot water and enjoy the deep autumnal flavours.

    2kg elderberry heads (this means the whole fruit spray)
    25g sugar per 100ml of strained juice (add up to 50g of sugar if you like it sweeter but taste it first)
    5 cloves per 100ml strained juice

    1. First gather the children together and hunt for elderberries in the hedgerows. Take a pair of scissors in case they are difficult to pick, then bring them back home and carry on with the recipe.
    2. Wash the fruit thoroughly, there’s no need to remove it from the stalks. Place the heads into a large, stainless steel saucepan (NOT aluminium). Just cover with cold water, bring to the boil and simmer for 25 minutes. Stir occasionally and once the fruit starts to soften press the bunches against the side of the pan.
    3. Line a sieve with muslin or a tea towel and pour the fruit mixture in. You may to do this in batches. Use a wooden spoon to press the fruit against the muslin to extract as much juice as possible – this is a great one for children to do as they are much more patient than grown ups. Don't wear light coloured clothes as the juice stains.
    4. Measure the liquid when you’ve finished and pour into a clean saucepan, add the sugar and cloves, bring the mixture to the boil and boil for 10 minutes. Remove the cloves and pour into clean, sterilized bottles with 4-5 cloves. Store in a cool, dark place. It should keep for 3 months, once you open a bottle store it in the fridge and use within a week.

    To Serve: Dilute with hot water and a squeeze of lemon for a soothing winter drink or for adults it’s lovely with champagne as a winter Kir Royale. Drizzle over apples in apple crumble or pie before putting the topping on.

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