Kitchen Garden Update: Peas, Beans and Some Teeny Weeny Leeks

July 23, 2015

My garden has been growing!

All this summer weather and a serious watering schedule has resulted in some actual real vegetables I can pick and eat.. I know!

So far the peas have been the stars of the show, those fat little pods are just bursting with sweet summer goodness (which are going to be part of a delicious summer pasta recipe on the blog shortly!)

The beans are taking notes from their prolific pea neighbours and starting to look like real, actual beans... which is nice.

I think I'll be sauteing these up with some panchetta and serving them warm with salad when they are ready to pick.

My leeks are looking lovely and orderly if a little small. I'm hoping they will get a little bigger but even if I end up with baby leeks they will be very happy tucked up with some strong cheddar in a flaky pastry tart!


Video Tip: How to Peel an Avocado

July 12, 2015

Avocados, they may be delicious but they can be fiddly little blighters when it come to cutting, de-stoning and scooping.

Scooping also means you may loose out on optimal nutrition from the very dark green flesh nearest the skin, which is often what gets left behind if a spoon is your avocado de-bagging weapon of choice.

Find more helpful kitchen tips and tricks over on my YouTube Channel!


4th of July Shortbread Star Cookies- With Strawberry and Blueberry Jam Filling

July 04, 2015

Whilst I get the irony of a Brit making a British inspire recipe to celebrate the July 4th, I wanted to make something that honored the stars and stripes as my adopted homestead.

Shortbread is really easy to make and exceptionally delicious. Traditionally Scottish rather than English, I am borrowing this tasty treat from my Celtic neighbours and filling it with the jammy colours of America.

Ingredients: Makes 16 stars

For the shortbread-
1 1/2 cups of salted butter
1 1/2 cups of white granulated (US)/ caster (UK) sugar
3/ 12 cups all purpose (US/ plain (UK) flour
cold water

For the filling:
Use this fresh jam recipe or your favourite jam


Make sure that your butter is well chilled and very hard before starting to make shortbread. The key to a good short bread is that is it 'short', which in real money means crumbly and not chewy. This crumbly texture is gained by not overworking the dough and keeping the mixture as cold as possible. If the butter melt and 'soaks' into the flour it becomes a bit paste like and does not make for good shortbread.

Chop the butter into half inch cubes and tumble into the sifted flour, shake over the sugar then use your finger to rub the butter into the flour to make breadcrumbs. If you are making these on a hot day or you have particularly warm hand, it's a good idea to run your hand under a cold tap for a few moments prior to starting this, though make sure you dry them really well. Another tip is to pop the mixture into the fridge every few minutes to re-chill the butter if it starts getting a bit melty.

When you have fine bread crumbs that resemble the texture of wet sand, trickle a very small amount of water into the centre of your crumbs and work together to form a dough. You want to use as little water as possible and work the dough as little as possible. The amount of water you use will depend on so many factors including the climate, flour type and temperature but it's usually no more than a couple of table spoons.
Again, be sure to use cold water so that it doesn't melt the butter.

When you have your dough, roll it out on a lightly floured surface to about 1/2 inch or 1cm thick. Cut circles in the pastry that are about 3 1/2 inches or 10cm in diameter, I used a martini glass for lack of a suitable cutter!

To make the stars, pinch the side of the circle together at 5 equal point around the rim of the pastry circle. Dab a little water on the dough to help them stick well.

Transfer your stars onto a well greased baking tray and fill each one with about a table spoon of your jam.

When this is done, pop the trays into the fridge. Further setting the butter will help the stars keep their shape when they are baked in the hot oven.

Bake in a preheated oven at about 320F for 10-15 minutes, you wanted them to be a pale golden colour but not brown.

As I said in the jam recipe instructions, the jam will become richer and stickier in the heat. Let the stars cool after baking and serve up as part of a 4th of July picnic!

(or scoff them all in the safety of your kitchen where no one else can get them!)


Linguica Bean Salad with Lemon and Herb Dressing

July 03, 2015

If you are looking to up your protein intake, beans are definitely your friends. 

100g/3.5oz of black beans delivers around 22g/ .8oz of protein, which is comparable to 100g/3.5oz of chicken delivering 25g/.9oz of protein. Whilst beans don't contain the amino acids present in meat, they are a great way of including a decent portion of protein for meals where meat is not the star of the show.

Aside from the healthy stuff, they are also delicious, have a great hearty texture and can be coaxed into pretty much any kind of recipe or flavour profile.

This salad can be served freshly made and warm, or cold from the fridge so is great for to-go lunches, or served alongside a green salad and topped with an egg for a tasty dinner.


15oz/425g can pinto beans
2oz/60g linguica or chorizo
2 tablespoons chopped parsley
2 tablespoons chopped mint
Juice of a whole lemon
3 tablespoons good olive oil- that tastes great and isn't just for cooking
Salt and pepper


Drain the beans and rinse them of any sugar water they've been preserved in.

Finely dice the linguica or chorizo, removing any skin or casing. Fry the meat on a gentle heat, if you're using a raw sausage continue until the meat is cooked throughly and a little browned. If your using a fully cured or cooked sausage, just heat until it's a little browned and the flavouring oils are released.

Turn out the heat then pour over the olive oil. You want the oil to infuse with the chorizo/linguica spices, not for the meat to fry in the oil. The residual warmth of the pan will help with the flavouring, the cold oil stopping the cooking process.

In a separate bowl, mix the lemon juice, chopped herbs, salt and pepper. Scoop in the sausage and oil whilst it's still warmish, then tumble in the beans and mix well before serving.

The salad will keep in the fridge for a couple of days and is also a delicious base to a roasted loin of cod!