Tag Archives: chilli

Variations on a theme…

So you may have seen my earlier post for Baked Ham with Flagolet Beans and Celeriac Mash … Well the combination worked so well I decided on a variation…

There are so many of my favourite earthy vegetables around at the moment that I decided to try out another ham stew but this time with a fresher more vibrant set of flavours.

I was also desperate to try out a celeriac gratin, as the traditional potato version is as close to perfection as a recipe can get and, in my eyes, celeriac is as close to perfection as a vegetable can get… I decided I couldn’t go wrong.

We also had some red peppers in the fridge that were starting to get a little wrinkly (I kept putting off stuffing them with left over butternut risotto) but despite wrinkles usually being the compost calling card for most vegetables peppers can actually improve with a little age, so we roasted them with olive oil until their skins were blackened and stored them in a jar in the fridge to add to soups or stews.. Delicious.

This stew wasn’t as successful as the first (I really missed the beans and the silky creaminess they add to the sauce) but the addition of pumpkin really worked. You also really need the chorizo here (optional in the earlier recipe)  as the whole thing has a peppery, firey, smoky thing going on which is ever so different to the earlier version.

Remember to pre-soak your ham overnight and then bring it up to the boil in clean water before starting.

Ham with Pumpkin, Carrot and Roasted Peppers and a Celeriac Gratin

1.2 kg unsmoked gammon

1 onion, diced

olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, whole

1tsb smoked paprika

4 carrots, sliced into chunks

1 very small pumpkin peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks

2-4 chorizo sausages sliced into chunks (the uncooked kind, not the pre-cooked slicing kind)

2 red bell peppers roasted in olive oil,  de-skinned and sliced

2 tins tomatoes

Serves 6

Remove the skin from the ham and discard it

Heat some olive oil in a large pan on a medium heat and put the ham in fat-side down and brown it lightly.

Now remove it from the pan and add your chopped onions, turn the heat down and sweat them with the lid on for around 5-10 minutes until soft

When the onions are soft, add the carrot, paprika, pumpkin and chorizo and sautee lightly for another 10 minutes

Make a gap in the vegetables to make room for the ham.

Put the ham in the pan so the fatty side is just poking out at the top and pour in the tomatoes around it.

Put it into the oven for around 45 minutes with the lid on, then another 35 with it off. (If you are making the gratin you’ll need to put this in when you have about 45-50 mins cooking time left)

Celeriac Gratin

2 medium potatoes peeled and sliced very thinly (aim for a 1p thickness)

1/2 a celeriac sliced to the same thickness

2 cloves of garlic also sliced thinly

1/2 tsp dried chilli flakes

A little butter

300ml double cream

Salt and Pepper


Serves 6 (you really don’t need a large portion, it’s pretty rich)

Butter an ovenproof dish around 20cm x 20cm (I used the circular one in the top picture)

Layer the potatoes, garlic, celeriac and chilli flakes until you have filled your dish or run out of ingredients

Now pour over the cream (you want it to be just underneath the top layer, you don’t want it boiling and bubling up over the edges when it’s in the oven),

Now grate over some parmesan and put in the oven with the stew for 45-50minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the top brown and bubbling

Serve the ham cut into slices with the gratin and stew on the side. I served the whole lot with some fresh spinach wilted in butter with a generous grating of nutmeg.



Filed under Baking, Meat, Recipes, Supper, vegetables

Linguini with Prawns

Another pasta supper, this one is Tom’s favourite so he was supposed to make it, but I took over. Typical.

We have an old friend staying with us for the night and this is a great pasta to entertain with; it’s very tasty and very quick.

It’s recipes like this one that make me realise I cook intuitively most of the time. There must be a thousand similar recipes around for this linguini all with their own additions or subtractions, if you’ve read a few, you can tinker all you like and make it your own. The basics are prawns, chilli and lemon, after that you’re free to experiment. I like to use dried chillies to add a kick and a fleck of colour, and white wine to make a loose sauce rather than make it heavy with cream. Sometimes I add a vegetable like savoy cabbage, leeks or courgettes but most of the time I keep it simple. It’s a clean tasting dish, perfect for summer or winter. Soothing, spicy and fresh.

Linguini with Prawns

300g linguini

100g king prawns

25g butter

4 cloves of garlic, chopped small

1tsp dried chilli flakes (more or less to taste)

1/2 a glass of wine

juice of 1 lemon

salt and Pepper

parsley, finely chopped

parmesan to serve

Serves 3 (2 boys and a girl) – 4 (normal portion eaters)

Get all your ingredients ready, this is a quick dish so you need everything to hand.

Cook your linguini in a large pan of boiling salted water.

When the pasta has 5 minutes cooking time left melt the butter over a low heat in a heavy bottomed pan (preferably bigger than your pasta pan).

Add the garlic and chilli and cook gently for a minute.

Turn the heat up and add the wine. It will bubble and reduce quite quickly, you want all the alcohol to burn off.

If you are using raw prawns add these with the wine and cook until pink and firm.

If you are using cooked prawns , add them just a minute before you add the pasta otherwise they will become rubbery

When the pasta is ready lift it straight out of the boiling water with tongs and into the sauce . Add parsley, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste, toss and serve with lots of parmesan and a tomato salad.

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Filed under Pasta, Prawns, Recipes, Supper


A glut of tomatoes has been sitting in the kitchen for a few days now while I gather up as many jars as I can find… I am determined to make a beautiful tomato chutney to heap on top of a strong cheddar cheese or to serve alongside cold meat.

I decided on a spicy Indian inspired recipe to get as much depth of flavour into the chutney as possible so combined these two recipes:

One, for spicy Indian chutney found on The Traveler’s Lunchbox and this simpler mustard version on Waitrose.com

Both use the lovely flavour combinations of ginger and spice but due to the fact that I only had an inch of ginger and a pot of mustard in the fridge I decided to experiment. All the lights have blown in the kitchen so I am making it in a romantic semi-darkness, getting up occasionally to stir and release the heady smells of vinegar and spice into the kitchen whilst enjoying a beautiful evening in one of the hottest Octobers on record.

Spicy Tomato Chutney

1kg ripe tomatoes roughly chopped

1 inch of ginger, peeled and julienned into very thin strips

4 cloves

250g light brown sugar

375ml malt vinegar

1tsb Cayenne pepper

6 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

Add all ingredients to your pan, and simmer on a low heat for around 2 hours. You need this to get to a jam-like consistency but it burns easily, keep the heat low, stir every so often and watch it isn’t catching. As mentioned on the The Traveler’s Lunchbox, you can speed things up by increasing the heat, but you’ll have to keep a much closer eye on it.

Once it is ready you can either leave it for a day or overnight for the flavours to develop or preserve it immediately. I pop my jars in the oven for 20 minutes after a hot soapy wash in the sink and boil my jar lids in water for about 5 minutes on the hob. No-one ever seems to mention how to sterilise lids, I find boiling works just fine. And after all that jar hunting, my sticky delicious chutney only filled two 280g jars!

Alternatives : use 2 fresh chillies in place of the cayenne and balsamic instead of the malt vinegar and whiz the whole lot in a mixer before heating: this will make a chilli jam!!


Last week it was plums, and a sweeter more delicate chutney was born. This one was a very simple classic chutney recipe and I made it as a thank you gift for a friend and her parents… Check  out my nifty home-made labels! Just wrapping paper and double sided sticky tape. I love the Obama paper “Yes we Jam!”

Plum Chutney

500 g dark red plums

2 small red onions chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

100 ml white wine vinegar

3 tbsp water

1 cinnamon stick

100 g demerara sugar

Chop plums into small chunks, add to a non-reactive preserving pan (you can buy these on ebay for minimal amounts and you really cannot beat a good old fashioned jam pan with sloping sides, a pouring lip and lovely long handle)

Add all other ingredients and simmer, stirring occasionally until chutney has a soft jam-like consistency (about 1hour). Chutney does not set like jam as you are not adding any pectin, so it has to reduce down quite far to get a good spreading consistency. This one was a little too loose (I hurried) but a couple of weeks in storage should sort that out and improve the flavour.


Filed under Fruit, Preserving, Recipes