This was a top recipe when I ran an outside catering business; it’s very different! You need to be bold to give it a go, but it really is delicious. Try it cold with a potato salad and green leaves, and with a peppery watercress mayo on the side. The broadcaster Bill Buckley cites this as one of his favourite party dishes - thanks Bill!
3 tbsp white wine
1 tbsp caster sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp white wine vinegar
1 Hull and roughly chop the strawberries. Heat them with the wine for about 1 minute, until the wine is bubbling and the strawberries have just lost their ‘polished’ look.
2 Add the sugar, then leave to cool.
3 Blend the sauce until smooth, then season to taste with a little salt, plenty of pepper and the vinegar. Add 1 tbsp tarragon leaves too, if you like a slightly aniseed flavour.
4 Serve the sauce with hot or cold salmon, garnished with tarragon.
Makes 2 large loaves
There is such an interest in bread making right now. The Chief Taster bakes most of ours, despite Chichester now being a centre of Baking Excellence! This is the recipe that we have used for years, and which has helped many people to make their own gorgeous loaves.
800ml/4 cups tepid water
2 x 7g sachets fast-action dried yeast
1kg wholewheat flour (approx)
1 tbsp fine sea salt
3 tbsp olive oil
500g strong white bread flour
1 Measure the water into a large mixing bowl, then stir in the yeast and 500g of wholewheat flour. This will give a thick liquid of about the same consistency as unwhipped cream or natural yogurt. Rinse a clean tea-towel in hot water and wring it out, then cover the bowl with it and leave in a warm place for 20 minutes (in this weather just on the side in the kitchen is fine, but not by an open window).
2 The liquid should be starting to ferment or bubble (this is called a flying ferment) - it won’t be dramatic but there should be bubbles on the surface. If not, leave for a further 10 minutes.
3 Stir in the salt and olive oil with the white flour. Scatter wholewheat flour on the worktop, then turn the mixture out of the bowl. Scatter more wholewheat over, and then start kneading, adding more flour as necessary. Kneading means to work the dough into a manageable state whilst developing the gluten, the protein in the flour, to give the bread its shape. Hold the back of the dough with one hand, stretch the front away from you with the other and then fold the dough back on itself. Keep repeating, for up to 10 minutes, for a good aerobic workout and until the dough is smooth and elastic. You will feel it changing in your hands. Keep adding wholewheat flour as required, keeping the dough just slightly on the sticky side of dry. Use a dough scraper, icing spatula or palette knife to scrape up from the worksurface.
4 Return the dough to the bowl, cover again and leave for about an hour, until doubled in size. Pull the dough out onto a very lightly floured surface and knead it again gently to punch out the air - this is called knocking back. Divide the dough into 2 (even after 30 years of bread making we don’t always get that perfectly even, as you can see from the main picture!) and shape it to go into 2 large (2lb) oiled loaf tins. The most professional loaves have the dough slightly rolled so that you see a spiral in the baked loaf.
5 Cover with the damp towel again and leave for about 45 minutes until well risen. Sprinkle a little extra flour over the risen dough.
6 To bake. For a gas or electric oven, place the bread on a shelf just below the centre in a COLD oven. Set the temperature to gas mark 7, 220C or 425F and bake for 45 minutes. Turn the loaves out of the tins and tap the bases - if they sound hollow the bread is cooked. If not, pop the loaves back into the oven, not in the tins and just on the shelf, for a further 5 minutes or so. In an Aga, place a wire shelf on the floor of the Roasting Oven and then bake the loaves for 25 minutes. Insert the cold shelf (which should be cold and not stored in the Aga!) on the top set of runners and bake for a further 20 minutes.
7 Turn the bread out of the tins and cool on a wire rack. Aga owners - remember to remove the cold shelf and cool it down again. Keep tins just for bread and do not wash them - the high heat and a little oil each time you bake will season the surface and make them ideal for bread.
I went through a phase of thinking that pesto had been done to death and I didn’t want to eat it ever again - silly me! It is just the most versatile of relishes to keep in the fridge but the secret is to make it fresh and use it quickly. It must also be made with top quality ingredients - beware those containing apple juice, peanuts and oils that don’t come from olives. I ring the changes by using a combination of lovage and parsley instead of basil , or watercress, parsley and wild garlic (which is what I am using right now) - and in this version I have added a chilli too. For the taste of tradition, just use all basil and forget the chilli. Use with mackerel, pasta or any fish in season.
1 large handful of wild garlic, watercress or lovage leaves, or a combination
1 large handful of parsley
1-2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
40g pine nuts or walnuts (which are cheaper and fine with anything other than basil)
Fruity extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Wash, shake dry and roughly chop the herbs and place them in a blender. Peel the garlic, seed the chilli then roughly chop both. Grate the Parmesan.
2 Add all the ingredients to the blender with sufficient oil to allow everything to blend to a thick paste. Season to taste. Keep refrigerated and use as required.
When the wild garlic appears we eat this. Often. It’s all about the first flavours of spring.
250g red lentils
1 onion, finely chopped
4 green cardamoms
2 tbsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
a handful of wild garlic leaves, garlic chives or chives
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 Wash the lentils in a sieve and shake dry. Finely chop the onion and crush the cardamom pods lightly.
2 Heat a pan, add the oil with the cardamom, cloves and cumin and cook for a few seconds until fragrant, then add the onion. Cook, covered, over a low heat for 5 minutes, until the onion is softened.
3 Add the lentils with sufficient water to cover them by about 1cm. Bring to the boil, then cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Add a little more water during cooking if necessary.
4 Wash the garlic leaves and shred them finely. Beat the lentils, add the garlic then season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with curries, or simply with freshly cooked vegetables in season.
This is a fun recipe to make and one which can just be left to 'do its own thing' for hours so it's great for mid-week or the weekend. Ground ginger is one of the spices that is widely available as a Fairtrade spice from Bart in many supermarkets and delis, and also from Seasoned Pioneers. If your casserole is too large you will need 2 cans of ginger beer, and it will take ages to reduce the sauce down. But don’t let any of that stop you from making this fabulous recipe!
1-2 cloves garlic
4 lamb shanks
1tsp ground ginger
150ml/2/3 cup Aspall’s Apple balsamic vinegar
250ml/1.25 cups ginger beer
Salt and pepper
12 mint humbugs
Freshly chopped parsley
1 Preheat the oven to gas mark 3, 160C, 325F.
2 Crush the garlic. Dust the lamb shanks with the ground ginger then brown them in an flameproof casserole into which the only just fit – only add oil if absolutely necessary and use a frying pan if your small casserole dish is not suitable for the hob.
3 Add the garlic, then apple balsamic with the ginger beer and a little water, if necessary, to cover the meat. Have the shanks sitting upright on the thickest part of the meat. Bring to the boil, then cover and cook slowly in the oven for 2 hours, or until completely cooked through and meltingly tender – you can leave them in the oven for 3-4 hours or longer if you wish.
4 Remove the shanks to a plate and keep warm. Boil the sauce rapidly until reduced by about half, then add the peeled humbugs and stir until melted. Season to taste and spoon the sauce over the lamb shanks. Serve garnished with chopped parsley.