eggs, chorizo, tomatoes, thyme, pitta bread

Made in only five minutes – take that toast!

I watched an episode of Come Dine With Me the other day (don’t judge me, we all do it) and a contestant’s top three favourite foods of all time included sausages, sliced cheese and toast. It got me thinking: am I normal? You see, I’ve never, ever, liked toast. It’s dry, bland and abrasive in the mouth. I don’t even like cereal. I admit I dabbled with porridge and had a few experimental years at university with Weetabix but nothing has ever really stuck. My breakfast ritual consists of homemade carrot, ginger and apple juice (if I can be bothered). Except, that is, for the weekend.
On the weekend I celebrate the gift of time. Most often I’ll make eggs Benedict (our favourite breakfast) but if I need to crack on I’ll make a breakfast that is almost as quick to make as toast. And here it is. It’s a very quick and simple version of huevos rancheros but I am not apologising for that! It is packed with flavour even though it is made with only five ingredients and it takes only five minutes to make.
Let me know what you make for breakfast on the weekend and if you try out my recipe below!

Five-minute, five-ingredient Spanish eggs
(serves two)

2 pitta breads (I toast mine straight from the freezer)
4 tbsps diced chorizo
8 tbsps tinned chopped tomatoes
4 stalks of thyme
2 eggs

1. Turn on the grill and let the pitta breads toast. Place a frying pan over a high heat until it is smoking, then add the chorizo. Toss until the amber oils are released from the sausage and it starts to crisp. Add the tomatoes and thyme (I used some from my garden) and bubble on the high heat until it reduces and goes thick (this will take 2 mins). You can add broad beans now if you still have any left but mine aren’t quite ready in the garden yet.

2. Turn over the pitta breads over under the grill and make two wells in the tomato, chorizo sauce and crack in the eggs. When the white starts to lose its translucency, season with salt and pepper and then place the pan under the grill for a further minute until the egg white is set and the yolk is still runny.

3. Place the pan on a wooden board and dunk in the toasted pittas to your heart’s content. Enjoy!

The secrets of my satay sauce

The secrets of my satay sauce

As regular readers (all two of you – hi mum, hi dad!) will now know about my cooking, I tend to use whatever I have to hand. I’m not the sort of cook who will go out shopping especially for a recipe. I look in the cupboards, I look in the fridge, and I cook with my wares. I suppose I am like a traditional hunter gatherer in that respect – except my hunting ground extends from my kitchen to my patio.

And so it was with this in mind that I came up with this gorgeous satay recipe. It’s not remotely authentic but it does taste really good and can be adapted to whatever you manage to hunt down. As this was an (admittedly successful) experiment my measurements are very loose. Perhaps don’t follow the recipe verbatim but use it as a rough guide, inspiration for your own take on the sauce. Let me know what you think and if you manage to come up with something better from your kitchen bounty!

Speedy pork satay with broad beans
(serves two)

2 pork rib steaks (mine were from my meat box from Riverford this week)
Handful of blanched almonds
Handful of sesame seeds
1 tbsp creamed coconut
2 tbsps tahini
2 tbsps Thai Taste Chilli and Garlic Dressing (this is delicious just poured over noodles)
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp Discovery Green Jalapeño Relish
1 large red chilli
Water, to loosen
1 tbsp vegetable oil
2 handfuls of freshly podded broad beans (again I used ones from my Riverford veg box – hopefully my garden will have its own bounty soon!)

1. Slice the pork steaks into thin, bite-size pieces and place in a bowl.

2. Place the rest of the ingredients, except for the broad beans, into a food processor. I’ve just got a shiny new Magimix and used the ‘mini bowl’ but a hand-held blender will work just as well. Blend and add enough water to make the mix go thick and creamy. Check the mixture is to your taste – i.e. it might need some salt, or an acid like lime juice, or even some sugar – mine, said Goldilocks, was just right though.

3. Add the mix to the pork slices and marinade for at least 30 mins to 1 hr (but the longer the better). When ready to serve, cook the noodles in boiling water, according to packet instructions. Meanwhile heat the vegetable oil in a wok and add the pork pieces and fry over a hot heat. When the meat is sealed add any remaining marinade and the broad beans and half a cup of water to loosen the sauce to the consistency of pouring cream.

4. Reduce the heat to medium and let the sauce blip away until the pork is cooked and tender and the sauce thickened and intensified in flavour. Drain the noodles and serve with the delicious satay pork! Enjoy.

Spiced goujons

Murray the cat likes the look of the goujons

I am sure I am not the only woman whose partner fails to eat actual food when left to their own devices. My other half is quite content to ignore a fridge full of vegetables or fresh meat and will instead take the time, effort and expense to go to the local supermarket to buy ready-cooked cocktail sausages and maybe a Yop, if he’s feeling fruity. Oh the glamour. And so, with a night out on the cards planned, I felt it my wifely duty to cook him a ready made supper for tomorrow. As usual it is a meal thrown together with whatever I have lying around and, as such, it can be completely adapted to your larder and taste.

Spiced lemon sole goujons
(serves one)

1 lemon sole fillet (it would work just as well with any other firm white fish)
1/3 teacup polenta
2-3 tbsps of your favourite spices (I used Rump Rub by California Rancher)
1 tsp ground black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 teacup of natural yoghurt
Handful of anya potatoes
2 tbsps olive oil
Vegetable oil
1 lime
2 tbsps mayonnaise

1. Remove the skin from the fillet of fish and slice into bite-size pieces. Mix together the polenta, the spices (the rump rub I used includes a mix of mustard powder, celery salt, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, garlic and onion powder, oregano, paprika and cumin), salt and pepper and place in a shallow dish. Place the yoghurt in another shallow dish.
2. Dunk the sole mini fillets in the yoghurt so they are lightly covered and then coat in the spiced polenta mix.
3. Place the potatoes in a roasting dish with the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and roast in an oven for 15-20 mins until golden and tender.
3. Heat up an inch of vegetable oil in a pan – test with a breadcrumb and when it turns golden when placed in the pan the oil is ready – and then shallow-fry the goujons for a minute each side.
4. Drain the goujons on kitchen paper. Meanwhile, cut a cheek off the lime to serve with the goujons and squeeze the remainder of the lime into the mayonnaise and combine.
5. Serve the goujons alongside the limey mayo, lime cheek and roasted anya potatoes. YUM.

So, there’s no excuses Mr Cotswoldcapers. The goujons and potatoes can be reheated in a hot oven and the mayo will keep nicely in the fridge. Cocktail sausages EAT MY DUST.

Spring chicken and chard risotto

Spring chicken and chard risotto

It seemed only fitting after a whole NINE MONTHS (yes, it’s been a painful gestation) of Cotswoldcapers that I write about the very first dish I shared with you, risotto. Funnily enough, The Other Half (TOH) was out, as before, and so I indulged in one of my favourite meals. Risotto is proper comfort food and yet takes minutes to make (albeit minutes religiously dedicated to the stove). Here’s a really lovely, early summer version using the sort of ingredients we all have in our fridge/ store cupboard. I hope you like it.

Spring chicken and chard risotto
(serves two)

Butter/ olive oil
1 bunch spring onions
200g vialone risotto rice (arborio or carnaroli would work just as well)
500ml boiling water
Handful of chard
150g Graviera (I used Yamas Graviera but mozzarella would work if you can’t find this)
100g Feta
Leftover roasted chicken

  1. Melt a knob of butter in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over a medium heat until the butter is foaming. Snip in the spring onions with scissors and sauté until just wilted. Add the rice and stir to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. When the rice is hot and covered in the oil and onions, add the first ladleful of boiling water and stir, making sure you catch every corner of the pan (odd expression, I know, but you know what I mean). Stir until the liquid is absorbed and repeat the process, a ladleful at a time, until you’ve used all the water and the rice is thick and creamy. The rice should be plump but al dente (not chalky). If you need more water, be sure to add it.
  3. Meanwhile, steam the chard until just tender.
  4. Grate 100g of the Graviera or mozzarella and stir into the rice until completely combined. Crumble the feta and add along with the roasted chicken until the feta just begins to melt and the chicken is heated through. The Graviera will give the risotto a lovely oozing stringiness, while the feta will add little pockets of sharp, salty creaminess.
  5. Spoon into a bowl (it should still be creamy and soupy, rather than a solid mass of rice) and top with the steamed chard (which has a deliciously fresh iron-y, taste), drizzle with olive oil and grate over the remaining Graviera. This should take no more than 20 minutes from start to finish. Enjoy.
Pomegranate seeds salad herbs

Pomegranate made easy

One of the great things about having a blog, I reckon, is being able to convey little pearls of wisdom that those closest to me (i.e. The Other Half and the cat) couldn’t really care less about but my dedicated followers (i.e. my Mum and Dad) might actually appreciate. And so, here you go followers. My top tip for the day (and a cheeky recipe, too)…

How to deseeded a pomegranate
Much debate (in the foodie world at least – I’m not suggesting Parliament here) has been given over deseeding a pomegranate. Traditionalists call for a pin, to gently and painstakingly prize out each precious gem. More modern writers, in so many words, ask for a swift smack on the bottom with a spoon with the hope that seeds will romantically rain out upon a suitably middle class salad (see such a recipe below). I however, think I have cracked it. It’s definitely the cleanest (no massacre like blood-red spray from the smacking) and it’s definitely the quickest (no pins required).
Simply cut the pomegranate in half. Observant cooks will notice that the pomegranate is a fruit of compartments. Using the best tool in the kitchen, your hands, gently break away a quarter of the fruit. The pretty seeds will start to naturally break away. Using your fingers, help the seeds along. Continue this process, breaking another quarter of fruit away, easing the seeds out, discarding any bit of white, bitter membrane. See, simples. Then, when you’ve done that, make my delicious salad. It might look like a lot of ingredients but there isn’t anything too exotic in there and it is very low maintenance. Just let the bulgur wheat soak while the veggies are roasting and put on a brew and read Cotswoldcapers while you wait!

A bejewelled bulgur wheat salad
(serves 8-10)

1 medium butternut squash
A punnet of cherry tomatoes (about 350g)
2 bundles of asparagus (about 12 stalks)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 bunch of spring onions
1 bulb of garlic
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
Olive oil
500g bulgur wheat
2 lemons
A handful of parsley
A handful of mint
2 tbsps chopped dill
1 pomegranate
100g pumpkin seeds
100g sunflower seeds
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
100ml cider vinegar
200ml hemp oil
400g feta cheese (optional)

  1. Peel and chop the butternut squash into rough cubes and throw in a large roasting tray with the cherry tomatoes. Snap the woody ends off the asparagus (I love that sound) and chop in half, deseeded the peppers and roughly slice. Peel and chop the spring onions in half, too, and add them all to the pan. You can, of course, use whatever veggies you like – we also regularly throw in some courgettes, aubergines, mushrooms, etc. Smash a bulb of garlic, but leave the individual cloves in their cases, and add to the pan with the dried chilli flakes, salt and pepper, and a good glug of olive oil. Don’t bother with the really expensive stuff, a good medium all-rounder will do. Place in a hot oven (around 200ºC) for 30-45 minutes until all of the veg is tender and lightly charred. Check every so often, and have a quick toss of the veg, to make sure nothing is catching.
  2. Meanwhile, pour the bulgur wheat into a large bowl and pour over boiling water so it covers by about an inch. Chop the two lemons in half, squeeze over the juice and throw them in with the soaking bulgur wheat, and cover with clingfilm. Leave to soak.
  3. Roughly chop the parsley, finely chop the mint and dill and deseed the pomegranate (see the tip above). Chop the feta into rough chunks.
  4. Dry fry the sunflower seeds until lightly browned and toasted, and the pumpkin seeds until the pop and crack.
  5. When the veggies are well roasted, remove the garlic and squeeze the soft, sweet garlic from two of the cloves into a mortar. Add the mustard, a pinch of sea salt, and pound together with a pestle until smooth. Add the vinegar and hemp oil (I am using hemp at the moment as that is what I have in the cupboard but olive or rapeseed would do) and using a whisk, combine until emulsified.
  6. When the bulgur wheat is completely soaked and dry (i.e. there shouldn’t be any residual liquid – drain if necessary) remove the lemon halves and fold in the veggies, herbs, pomegranate and toasted seeds and pour over the dressing while everything is still warm. If you like feta, serve it over the top. Enjoy – it’s delicious with lamb steaks or on its own in the lunchbox. Serve warm or cold.
pasta homemade ravioli ricotta cheese herbs

Herb and ricotta ravioli – the filling

There’s nothing like a spot of spanking on a Friday night. And by spanking, I of course mean spanking of dough. Pasta dough to be precise.
I had decided, thanks to an unexpected abundance of eggs delivered by our landlord/farmer (laid a mere 100m away from our front door) and a severe shortage of meat and veg, to make fresh pasta. Making it is simple enough – after all, it literally is just eggs and flour – but the kneading to make it smooth and silky is hard, physical labour. And, with The Other Half cruelly shunning his manly responsibilities, I was left with the job.
Now, I could have cheated and used the beautiful piece of machinery that is my Kitchen Aid to bind and knead the dough but I had plans for that later. And, after a hard week at the coalface of Fabulous Food I thought a small release of pent-up aggression was just what I needed. And so, I spanked. For a good 10 minutes I tried traditional kneading, the stretching and folding of dough, and then I spanked. I smacked the dough onto the work top, beating it into submission until it was perfectly smooth. How satisfying.
And so, should you need a similar release, here’s the recipe for my ravioli, complete with a delicious ricotta and herb filling with a secret kick. Adjust the seasonings and spice to taste, but I rather like it as it is.

Herb and ricotta ravioli
(Serves 4)

500g ’00’ flour (I used Tesco Ingredients Pasta Flour because it was on special offer – it comes in 500g packs)
6 eggs (as my eggs were straight from the farm they ranged in sizes but I would advise using medium, free-range eggs)
50g polenta (optional)
Hemp, rapeseed or olive oil, to serve

250g ricotta
75g Grana Padano, finely grated, plus extra to serve
Zest of 1 lemon
1 tbsp lemon juice
Pinch of sea salt
Generous pinch of freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp dried chilli flakes
2 tbsps fresh parsley, chopped (I used curly parsley as that is what I have growing in my garden)
1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped

  1. To make the pasta put the majority of the flour into a bowl (reserving a handful for dusting the worksurface, etc) and make a well. Crack in the eggs and whisk with a fork. Using your hands slowly work the flour into the eggs until combined.
  2. Dust the worksurface with the remaining flour and turn the mixture out onto it. Knead the dough. You can do this by pushing the dough forwards with the heal of your hand. This stretches the glutens in the flour and will make for a beautifully textured pasta. This will take time and I can thoroughly recommend my spanking technique to hurry things along. You want the dough smooth and silky, and not grainy. When it’s ready (this should take around 20 mins) wrap completely in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 30 mins or longer.
  3. Meanwhile, make your filling. Place all of the filling ingredients into a bowl and mix with a fork until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary. The chilli and pepper should provide a welcome kick, the herbs and lemon will give a fresh, grassy taste, while the two cheeses should be deliciously mellow. Place in the fridge until ready.
  4. Cut the dough in half, wrapping the unused half in clingfilm and place in the freezer for another occasion. Roll the other half out and feed through a pasta machine. I took my dough to notch 5 for a medium to thin pasta. If you don’t have pasta machine you have some serious rolling out to do. It wants to be so thin it is almost transparent.

    Homemade pasta ravioli Kitchen Aid

    Work that pasta

  5. Flour the worksurface and lay the pasta out. Using your hand as a measure, cut down the pasta at a hand’s width and horizontally half way along that (i.e. make squares) – you should have about 80 in total.
  6. Add a generous tsp of the filling to the middle of 40 of the squares. Have a little bowl of water on standby, wet your finger and then draw a circle around the filling. Place the remaining pasta squares on top and seal down, making sure there is no air inside the ravioli. I used a cutter to make them into neat little sombreros but they will work just as well as squares, as long as they are properly sealed. Dust with a combination of flour and the polenta, if you are using, to stop them from sticking.

    Homemade pasta ravioli ricotta

    Add the filling to the pasta sheets

  7. Bring a pan of water to the boil, season with a pinch of salt, and cook the pasta in batches of 10 (unless you have a huge pan) for around 6 mins.
  8. Drain gently, reserving 2 or 3 tbsps of the cooking water, drizzle with hemp oil (I used this because I happened to have some, but an extra virgin rapeseed or olive oil would work just as well) and grate over some Grana Padano to taste. Toss gently to combine and serve. Bloody yum.

    Homemade ravioli pasta

    My beautiful little sombreros


This week has been an odd one in our household. Good and bad news. Good and bad weather. But always good food. I needed to test some Unearthed Cooking Chorizo for work and raiding my fridge decided to cook one of my all-time favourite recipes – baked chicken and chorizo. 

    Like most of my recipes, it has been cooked in various guises over the years. Sometimes with a whole portioned chicken, many times with chicken thighs. Sometimes with new potatoes, many times with bog-standard bakers. But that is the beauty of cooking, isn’t it. Experimentation, interpretation and adaptation! (See below for recipe). 

    On Saturday morning we also got the first glimpse of the sun in a long while. We certainly made the most of it and completely transformed the garden over the weekend. Andy’s lobster-red arms will certainly testify to that! We got rid of all the long grass growing beneath our border bushes – during which we found 1000s of woodlice, 100s of earwigs, 10s of millipedes, 2 toads and 1 caterpillar – laid some bark, and mowed the lawn. I also revved up the Rowe kitchen garden. I’ve now got tomatoes, courgettes, peppers, six different types of chillies, 4 varieties of strawberries, peaches, parsley, chives, mixed leaves, wild rocket, mustard leaves, petit pois and broad beans. I’ll keep you posted with the results as they start to fruit (along with recipes on how to use up the glut) but here’s what it looks like now.





Baked chicken and chorizo

2 chicken quarters (skin on, bone in)
250g cooking chorizo
2 baking potatoes, sliced into 5mm slices
1 white onion, cut into rough chunks
1 large glass prosecco
2 tbsps olive oil

Season the chicken quarters with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the oil to a heavy-bottomed pan and seal the chicken quarters over a high heat. Remove from the pan and add the potato slices, onion chunks and chorizo. Pour over the glass of prosecco (or a glass of sherry would work just as well) and position the sealed chicken quarters on top. Place in the oven at a medium-high heat and roast until the chicken is cooked through and the potato slices are tender. Serve with a fresh green salad.