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Eynsham Parish Council

Dishes for January

  • Chocolate cake
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 15/01/2016

    There’s something quite indulgent about sitting by the fire on a chilly January evening with a plate of chocolate cake and a glass of cognac or brandy. Winter nights have to be respected for what they are - cold and dark. Rich chocolate is a perfect way of bringing cheer to such evenings. Try it, you won’t be disappointed, especially if you have scattered loads of chocolates on the top as a decoration.

    You will need:

    8oz / 250g plain flour

    8oz / 250g caster sugar

    1 ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda

    ½ tsp salt

    ¼ level tsp cream of tartar

    1 ½ ozs/ 35g cocoa

    5 oz / 125 soft margarine or butter

    8 fluid oz milk

    1 tsp vanilla essence

    2 eggs

    One bar of dark chocolate - 100g /3.5oz

    300ml single cream

    A lovely assortment of chocolates for garnish.


    Making this cake is so easy, all you have to do is place all ingredients into a large bowl and beat them together for a minute.

    Turn the oven to 350°F, 180°C or gas mark 4 for about one hour 20 minutes in an 8 inch cake tin.

    Decorate with a fancy collection of chocolates, having poured a mix of cream and chocolate that have been melted together onto the cake.

    Having arranged the chocolates on top, spoon a little more of the chocolate and cream mix onto the top so that they stay in place.

  • Bubble & squeak spiced cakes
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 12/01/2016

    Bubble and squeak is normally made from leftover mashed potatoes and vegetables and is a very tasty way of using up food that would otherwise go to waste. This dish, using seasonal kale and spinach, certainly makes a tasty supper dish.

    You will need:

    The amount of potato required depends on how large you want your cakes to be. Normally one small handful of mashed potato per person works.

    4oz/100g curly kale, chopped small, stalks removed

    4 oz/100g baby spinach leaves

    1 small onion chopped fine

    ½ tsp curry powder

    Little oil

    Flour to dust cakes as you shape them

    Sea salt and freshly ground black peppercorns (be careful not to add too much seasoning if the potatoes have already been seasoned first time round).


    Begin by gently cooking the kale and onion pieces in a little oil until they begin to soften.

    Add the curry powder.

    Place the leftover potato into the pan with the kale and onions and stir together, taste to check the seasoning.

    In floured hands form the mix into small cakes. Size depends on your taste and who you are cooking for.

    Fry the cakes a little oil until they firm up and begin to brown.

    Remove and top with spinach which has been wilted in boiling water for a few minutes.

    Poach an egg for each cake and add to the dish before serving.

  • Parsnip and sage bread
    Photo: Helen Peacocke, 19/01/2013

    To be honest, this bread has a very subtle parsnip flavour, but it is a lovely moist bread with hints of sage which go very well with parsnip soup and cheese.

    You will need:

    2 parsnips, cooked in salted water and mashed

    Enough strong white bread flour to weigh in at 500g (1lb 4oz) when mixed with the mashed parsnips.

    1 x 7g sachet of dried yeast

    1 tsp sugar

    1½ tsp salt

    300 ml warm water (can be made up with some of the water used to cook parsnips for extra flavour)

    Leaves from 2 or three pieces of sage - chopped fine - also oiled sage leaves to garnish.


    Warm the flour in a large bowl.

    Cook chopped parsnips until soft and mash then weigh and make up to 500 grams with flour.

    Place sugar, salt, yeast and chopped sage into the bowl too.

    Add warm water, and using your fingertips bind into a soft dough.

    Knead on a floured board for at least 10 minutes, then place back into the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and leave in a warm place (the airing cupboard is best) until the dough has doubled its size.

    Knock back and knead again for a further 10 minutes, then shape into a loaf, decorate with oiled sage leaves (as pictured) or place in a 1 lb loaf tin.

    Cover with a cloth and return the loaf to the airing cupboard until it has doubled in size and then bake at 230°C / 450°F or gas mark 8 for at least 20 minutes or until golden brown.

    To test that the loaf is done, turn over and knock the bottom, if you get a hollow sound it is ready.

  • Parsnip chips with maple syrup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 19/01/2013

    By brushing maple syrup onto parsnips once they have cooked, you not only add a glow to these lovely winter vegetables, but an extra layer of sweetness too. I often serve these hot along with canapés when offering pre-dinner drinks - they work well.

    You will need:

    Half a medium parsnip per person

    Sunflower oil to fry

    Maple syrup

    Sea salt to season.


    Cut the parsnips into chips, removing the woody bit in the centre.

    Heat oil in a frying pan, adding the parsnip chips once the fat has reached a high heat.

    Cook until golden brown and crisp, turning frequently, then having removed the parsnip chips from the pan, drain on kitchen paper.

    Paint with maple syrup, sprinkle with salt and serve while hot.

  • Parsnip and apple soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 19/01/2013

    The sweetness of the parsnips and sharp edge to the Bramley apples combine perfectly to provide a nutritious and balanced winter soup that is just right for this time of the year. Not only is this soup really easy to make, but it costs very little to produce and is perfect when served with parsnip bread.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    4 large parsnips - peeled and chopped into small pieces

    1 Bramley apple - cored and cut into slices (skin still on)

    1 medium onion - chopped fine

    1 clove garlic - chopped fine

    Piece of butter size of a walnut

    Dash vegetable oil

    1 litre / 1¾ pts vegetable stock

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper corns to season.


    Peel and cut the parsnips, slice the apple, chop the onion and garlic clove.

    Heat the oil and butter in large pan and add parsnip, onion and apple pieces and cook over a gentle heat until the parsnips begin to soften and brown slightly.

    Stir in the chopped garlic and cook until the garlic gives off its aroma, stir and then add the stock and bring to the boil.

    Simmer for about 10 moments, then remove from the heat.

    Allow to cool a little then pour in the liquidizer and zap into a purée.

    Taste and season, then strain through a sieve for an extra smooth finish (optional).

    Fry a few slithers of parsnip in oil until brown and crisp for garnish.

    NOTE: Should you wish for a creamy finish, stir in a generous dash of milk to the soup at the end, or add a swirl of cream.

  • Goat’s cheese tart & tomatoes with rosemary
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 16/01/2013

    Delia Smith flavours her goat’s cheese tart with chopped thyme, which tastes great, but it tastes just as good when flavoured with fresh rosemary. This is one of those really easy to make dishes that can be a starter or main meal that can be served either warm or hot straight out of the oven with salad leaves such as rocket or watercress.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    1 x 375g pack fresh ready rolled puff pastry

    5 oz (150g) soft goat’s cheese

    4 large ripe tomatoes

    2 sprigs rosemary-chopped fine

    2 cloves garlic-chopped fine

    1 tablespoon olive oil

    1 egg-beaten for egg wash

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Turn the oven to 190°C, 375°F or gas mark 5.

    Using a sharp knife carefully score a line on the puff pastry about ½ inch (1cm) in from the edge all the way round.

    Mix the goat’s cheese with the garlic, chopped rosemary, salt and black pepper, then carefully spread the mix over the surface of the pastry right up to the line.

    Slice the tomatoes and arrange on top of the cheese, in an overlapping pattern.

    Brush the pastry edges with egg wash and drizzle oil over tomatoes.

    Bake for about 45 minutes or until the pastry has puffed up all round the edges and turned a golden brown.

  • Roasted pepper soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 29/12/2011

    While cold winds rattle the window panes and we have to put on an extra layer of thermal clothing when walking the dog, it’s time to consider ways of keeping warm from the inside. Nourishing hot soups are so easy to make and provide such a great way of keeping the family warm, it is well worth conjuring some up.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    4 red peppers

    2 carrots

    2 sticks celery

    1 medium onion

    1 clove of garlic

    1 medium potato

    2 dspns tomato purée

    1½ pts (850ml) vegetable stock

    Oil to brush peppers

    Few sprigs of thyme

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper corns to season.


    First cut the peppers into quarters, remove the seeds and roast in a hot oven, having brushed them with oil. Allow them to cook until the skins begin to char.

    Remove peppers from oven and place them in a sealed plastic bag until they have cooled, this will loosen their skins.

    While the peppers are cooling, roughly chop all vegetables, remove thyme leaves from their sprigs and fine-chop the garlic.

    Place all vegetables, herbs, garlic and tomato paste into a saucepan, heat the stock and pour into the pan, allow to cook on hot heat while you peel off the pepper skins. Add peppers to the pan, season and continue to cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft.

    Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then zap through the food processor to obtain a purée.

    Taste and adjust seasoning, and sieve if you want a really smooth finish.

    The croutons are made by dicing 4 slices of bread and gently browning in hot oil.

  • Mulled wine
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 06/01/2010

    With the snow lying deep on the ground and the temperature falling well below zero - it’s time to start thinking ‘mulled wine’.

    It is warming and delicious and hits the spot perfectly when the snow lies thick on the ground. If you have a few demijohns of home-made wine in the cellar, do use one of them to make up this recipe and help keep out the cold - there’s nothing better than a mulled country fruit wine (I made this one from last year’s raspberries).

    All you need to do is heat up a bottle of red wine (or cider), toss in a half a dozen cloves, a cinnamon stick and a few slices of orange.

    If you have some fresh ginger root in the house, cut a few slices of that too and add to the pot along with a handful of raisins.

    Should you want a sweet drink, then toss in a spoonful of soft brown sugar.

    Let the mix come gently towards the boil, but if you wish to retain the alcohol of the wine, do not let it boil as the alcohol will vanish as it bubbles. Let it simmer for about 20 minutes.


  • Cock-a-leekie soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 11/01/2013

    Cock-a-leekie soup is a Scottish soup traditionally made with an old cockerel or boiling fowl that comes complete with giblets. Prunes are added for extra flavour. However on a day when you need an easy-to-make nourishing hot soup to keep out the cold, short cuts are permissible. It can be made with chicken breasts and a chicken stock cube to add the extra flavour that a whole chicken and giblets would have provided. Chopped potatoes can be added to pad it out a little, too.

    I made enough for four from one large chicken breast purchased at our local butcher’s - it was warming and nutritious. Exactly what’s needed when the white stuff covers the earth and the family need something tasty that will warm them up after walking the dog.

    You will need:

    1 large chicken breast

    4 leeks - sliced

    1 large potato, cut into small cubes

    1 small handful long grain rice

    2 ½ pints water mixed with a chicken stock cube

    A little oil to fry chicken breast

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season

    Chopped parsley to garnish


    Fry the chicken breast in a little oil until it begins to brown.

    Chop the chicken into bite sized pieces, place in large saucepan with the leeks, rice and potato then cover with the chicken stock, season and bring to the boil.

    Once it has reached boiling point, turn down the heat and allow to simmer until the leeks and potatoes are cooked.

    Taste, adjust seasoning, toss in some chopped parsley and serve with crusty bread.

  • Home made bread
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 12/01/2010

    During the past week, with snow lying thick on the ground, I have been surprised to discover how many shoppers got into a real panic when they discovered there was no bread in the shops.

    One customer was standing right next to the flour section in the Co-op when she expressed her alarm at not finding bread on the shelves.
    Making bread is easy and although the process takes a couple of hours from start to finish, during most of that time the yeast and sugar is doing all the work, leaving the cook free to do something else.

    One of the most important things to remember is that bread dough responds best when made in warm conditions. By warming the flour and the bowl before you begin adding the other ingredients you are already off to a great start. And while it is proving, try placing it in the airing cupboard if you have one, or above a radiator or one of the hot spots in your house.

    Home made bread not only tastes good but fills the house with the most glorious aroma while baking - for that fact alone it is worth the effort of making it yourself.

    For two medium sized loaves you will need:

    1lb 7oz (60g) strong bread flour

    2 tsp salt

    1 tsp sugar

    1 tbspn olive or vegetable oil

    7g sachet of easy bake yeast

    14 fl oz (400ml) warm water

    Flour to dust during the kneading process.


    Place the flour in the mixing bowl and place it in a moderate oven to remove any chill and warm it up.

    Preheat the oven to 230°C / 450°F or gas mark 8.

    To the flour add the sugar, salt, oil and yeast and then add the warm water gradually as you mix the ingredients into a soft dough.

    Knead for about 10 minutes on floured surface, then return to the bowl, cover with a clean cloth and place it in the airing cupboard for about 30 minutes or until it has doubled in size.

    Remove and knock back, kneading for a further 10 minutes, then shape into two loaves which can be placed into greased bread tins or shaped as you wish.

    Cover with a cloth again, and place back in the airing cupboard until the loaves have doubled in size, then place in the preheated oven and bake for about half an hour.

    Remove from the tins and place back onto a rack in the oven for a moment or two to crisp up the sides.

    Enjoy eating it warm with lashings of soft butter and honey for a real treat while the snow remains on the ground.

  • Butternut squash soup with pasta shells
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 29/12/2009

    One of the great things about butternut squash is that, although they have their own sweet taste, they are also capable of taking up and enhancing all the flavours that are in the pot. They respond particularly well when a slice of apple is added to the mix, absorb spices perfectly and taste great when a dash of cream is stirred into a soup or casserole. Add a handful of pasta to a buttenut squash soup and you are adding a thickening agent and turning into a perfect cold-weather soup.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    One medium butternut squash - peeled and rough chopped

    One medium onion - rough chopped

    2 fat cloves of garlic – chopped very fine

    Half a Bramley apple - peeled and rough chopped

    Olive oil

    Bunch fresh herbs - chopped fine, to include thyme, marjoram and parsley

    One bay leaf

    2oz (50g) dry pasta shells

    1.2 litres chicken or vegetable stock

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season


    Prepare squash, onion, garlic, apple and herbs.

    In a large heavy-bottomed pan, add enough olive oil to cover the bottom, bring to full heat and toss in the chopped squash.

    Cook over a reasonably high heat until the squash begins to soften, then add the onions, garlic apple and herbs and allow to cook further until the onion becomes soft and the aroma of garlic fills the kitchen.

    Pour in the stock, add bay leaf and chopped herbs – place a lid on the pan and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes to or until the squash is really soft.

    Allow to cool until safe to handle, then remove the bay leaf and zap the mix in the liquidizer. If you are looking for a really smooth soup, then it can be strained too.

    Return to the pan, taste and adjust seasoning, and toss in the pasta shells. As they cook they will fatten up and the soup will begin to thicken. At this point you may wish to adjust consistency by adding a little more stock or a dash of water.

    When the pasta shells are done, so is the soup. Serve with crusty warm bread and serve.

    Note: You can add a swirl or two of cream to the soup if you happen to have some handy, but it is not essential.

  • Celery and celeriac soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 03/01/2011

    Because the flavour of celery and celeriac are so similar, they combine perfectly when cooked together and turned into a very satisfying winter soup, that is so easy to make it can be cooked up in less than half an hour.

    Many people shun celeriac as it is such an ugly vegetable and the skin is so thick it is difficult to peel. But with a sharp knife and patience this is a job can be completed quite easily. Try cutting the celeriac in half, and then quarters, before peeling. This works well for me despite having arthritic hands.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    1 small celeriac root

    1 head of celery

    1 medium floury potato

    1¼ pints (1 litre) vegetable or chicken stock

    1 tbspn sunflower oil

    1oz (25g) butter

    4 streaky rashers of bacon for garnish

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Peel the celeriac and potato and rough chop, rough chop the celery too.

    Heat together the oil and the butter and add celeriac, potato and celery and cook together for a few moments.

    Add about three tablespoons of water to the mix and leave to cook gently with a lid on the pan, stirring every so often until the vegetables are soft enough to purée.

    Remove from the heat, allow to cool a little, then zap in a food processor to produce a purée.

    Return the mix to the saucepan, add the stock, stir together and season.

    Simmer for about 15 minutes, adjust seasoning and serve garnished with the bacon slices that have been grilled until crisp and then chopped.

  • Winter salad
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 30/12/2009

    This is the time of the year when you can turn your back on lettuce and think ‘cabbages’ when making a salad. By combining shreds of red and green cabbage you get a great colour contrast to which all sorts of other ingredients can be added.

    To serve 4 to 6 as a side dish you will need:

    Half a small red cabbage

    Half a green cabbage

    One conference pear

    Handful of mixed nuts

    One orange

    Olive oil

    Dry mustard powder

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Using a sharp knife cut the cabbages into thin shreds and mix together in a bowl.

    Slice the pear as thin as possible and add half the slices to the cabbage – the other half can be used as a garnish on which to place the salad.

    Toss the nuts into the cabbage, breaking any large ones into pieces.

    Squeeze the juice of one orange into the mix and then the same amount of olive oil.

    Sprinkle a pinch of dry mustard powder into the bowl and season the mix with salt and freshly ground black peppercorns.

    Stir together and serve on a bed of sliced pear as a side dish, or a supper dish to be enjoyed as it is with warm crusty bread.

    Note: Other ingredients can be added to the salad. Try tossing some grated carrot, small cubes of Stilton cheese, or a handful of seedless grapes that have been cut in half. Chopped parsley and chives can be added too, and if you wish you can use the juice of one lemon rather than an orange.

    Actually, what you add is up to you - this is just a basic recipe that can be adapted to suit your needs.

  • Brussels sprouts mash
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 02/01/2010

    For many years Brussels sprouts had a bad press, due mainly to the fact that people boiled them to death and then kept them warm while other vegetables were cooking.

    If placed in cold salted water, which is then brought to a gentle boil without a lid for no more than 10 minutes and eaten immediately, they are transformed into a delightful vegetable, which will complement any meal.

    There are loads of fancy things you can do with them, but most cooks recognise the need to do very little and allow their natural flavour to dominate. This recipe is one that works - but as with unadorned sprouts, do serve it immediately to save that stale sprout flavour creeping in.

    To serve 2 people you will need:

    2 medium potatoes peeled and sliced

    2 medium parsnips peeled and sliced

    4oz (125g) Brussels sprouts rough chopped

    2 oz (50g) butter

    1 dspn whole grain mustard

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Place the potatoes and parsnips into a pan of cold salted water, bring to the boil and cook for about 10 minutes or until they turn soft.

    Add the shredded Brussels sprouts to the pot and allow to cook for a further 3 or four minutes, or until the chopped sprouts begin to soften.

    Remove from the heat, drain the water add the butter and the whole grain mustard, along with a pinch of salt and a pinch of freshly ground black peppercorns.

    Mash together and serve immediately with cold meats, chops or sausages.

  • Beef stew and dumplings
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 08/01/2010

    Meals don’t have to be stuffed with fancy ingredients to stimulate the appetite at this time of the year, particularly when snow lays thick on the ground, and the temperature continues to fall. You don’t have to spend long preparing them either if you are prepared to go for a simple stew which doesn’t even call for the meat to be fried and sealed before putting it into the pot.

    This is the stew my mother used to make to keep out the cold when I was a child. When she had no suet in the house for the dumplings she used margarine instead and it never seemed to make much difference to their taste or texture.

    To serve 4 people you will need:

    Approximately 1½ lb (750g) braising steak

    2 medium onions, rough chopped

    4 carrots sliced

    2 medium potatoes peeled and diced

    1 bay leaf

    Handful fresh herbs such as parsley and marjoram chopped

    1 tbsp tomato paste

    1 ½pts (900ml) hot water

    2 beef stock cubes

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.

    Note: If you have other vegetables that need to be used up such as celery, mushrooms and tomatoes, they can be chopped and thrown into the pot too.

    For the dumplings:

    6oz (175g) self-raising flour

    3oz (75g) shredded suet or margarine

    1 tsp fresh chopped parsley if available

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Turn the oven to medium heat 200°C / 400°F Gas mark 6.

    Trim excess fat from braising steak and cut into one inch cubes

    Prepare all the vegetables, place in a large pot along with the herbs, beef, tomato paste, water and stock cubes, give the mix a stir, season and place a lid on the pot and cook gently in the oven for about an hour and a quarter.

    Make the dumplings by placing suet (or marge) into a bowl with the flour a little seasoning and chopped parsley if available. Mix together (rubbing the margarine into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs if using), then add enough water to make up a soft (but not sticky dough). About 3 tablespoons should do.

    Remove the stew from the oven, taste and adjust seasoning, then lightly flour your hands and break the dumpling mix into about eight balls, tossing them onto the top of the stew as you make them.

    Place the lid back on put and return the pot back into the oven to cook for a further 15 to 20 minutes or until the dumplings have doubled in size.

    I placed my beef stew in the oven before taking the dog for a nice long walk round the Fishponds when the snow lay crisp on the ground. The delicious meaty smell of this homely dish was a wonderful welcome when we returned home.

  • Beef Wellington
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 29/01/2009

    This is a party dish, something to cook when you have special friends for dinner or want to spoil yourself. It’s thought to have acquired its name because it was the Duke of Wellington’s favourite, though some believe it was named after one of his brown shiny military boots.

    Unfortunately it contains no ingredients from your garden or allotment except an onion, but you do need to visit Eynsham’s family Butcher Richard Golsby if you want a juicy beef fillet to go inside the puff pastry. He will provide the perfect steak, trimmed and ready to cook.

    Don’t be fooled into thinking you can get away with a cheaper cut - you can’t. Fillet steak is the most tender of all cuts and the only meat that will guarantee this dish works for you. Yes - it’s expensive - but now and again we all deserve a treat.

    For 4 people you will need:

    1 lb (450g) beef fillet - whole and trimmed

    1oz (25g) butter

    8oz (250g) mushrooms - chopped very fine

    1small onion - chopped very fine

    12oz (340g) puff pastry

    1 free range egg - beaten

    Salt and freshly ground black pepper to season


    Trim the beef, season.

    Heat the butter in a large frying pan, add the beef and seal on all sides until brown but not cooked through. Set to one side while you prepare mushrooms.

    Using the butter remaining in the pan, add the finely chopped mushrooms and onion, season and fry gently for at least five minutes, or until all the moisture has evaporated. Set to one side to cool.

    Turn the oven to 200°C / 400°F or gas Mark 6.

    Roll out the pastry until you have a rectangle large enough to cover the fillet.

    When the mushroom mix is cool, spread over the puff pastry, brushing egg wash round the edges.

    Place fillet on top of the mushrooms and carefully roll the pastry round the fillet until you have a neat parcel. Tuck in the ends.

    Place fillet join-side down on baking tray and score lines in the pastry, brush with egg-wash and sprinkle with a little salt.

    Cook for 20 minutes or until the pastry is a delicious golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least ten minutes before cutting into thick slices and serving with a Madeira sauce.

  • Spiced parsnip & apple
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 01/01/2009

    Parsnips are at their best at this time of the year and should be used and enjoyed while they are in season. By mixing sliced parsnips with slices of Bramley apples, this recipe provide a delightful winter vegetable dish that goes particularly well with cold meat and jacket potatoes.

    For 2 people you will need:

    One very large parsnip or two small ones

    Half Bramley apple

    One clove garlic - chopped fine

    One tspn of your favourite curry spice mix

    A little sunflower oil to fry parsnips

    A couple of sprigs fresh coriander leaves - chopped

    Salt to season.


    Prepare the parsnips by cutting into wedges, having removed the peel and the woody bit in the centre.

    Chop garlic fine and slice the apple, leaving on the peel.

    Pour enough sunflower oil into a small heavy frying pan to cover the bottom, heat and add the parsnips. Place a lid on the pan and allow to cook until they begin to soften and brown.

    Add the apple slices and chopped garlic, place the lid back on and cook for a couple of minutes more, or until the apple begins to soften.

    Sprinkle the curry powder over the top and stir in gently, before adding the chopped coriander.

    Check seasoning, adding salt if needed and serve as an extra vegetable.

  • Creamed cauliflower soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 08/01/2010

    Don’t overlook cauliflower at this time of the year. If you are lucky enough to grow your own, you will know just how versatile this superb winter vegetable can be. If you don’t, then it’s worth popping into the Co-op where you may find some great British cauliflower in the vegetable section.

    This soup will cost you less than £2 to make and will undoubtedly provide a warm nourishing meal for the whole family.

    To serve 4-6 people you will need:

    1 cauliflower

    1 pt (16 fl oz) milk

    ½ pt (8 fl oz) chicken stock (or water)

    1 medium onion, rough chopped

    1 medium potato, peeled and rough chopped

    1 clove garlic chopped fine (optional but nice)

    1oz (25g) butter

    Dash of vegetable oil

    1 tbsp flour

    4 slices bacon - grilled crisp and chopped

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorn to season.


    Cut the cauliflower in half and then, having removed the stalk, chop all florets reasonably small, retaining a handful which can be brought to the boil in a small pan of salted water, then drained and used as a crunchy garnish.

    Melt the butter and a dash of vegetable oil in a heavy bottomed pan, and add chopped onion, garlic, potato and cauliflower and cook gently over a moderate heat until the potato and cauliflower begins to soften but not brown. This will only take about 5 minutes.

    Now stir a dessert-spoon of flour into the pot and, after stirring the flour well in, add the stock or water. Season, place the lid on the pan and allow to simmer for about ten minutes, or until the cauliflower and potato has softened.

    Add the milk and bring back to full heat, then remove from the heat and zap through the liquidizer. If you want really smooth soup, you can pass it through a fine sieve too, but this isn’t really necessary.

    Reheat the soup, adjust seasoning and if the consistency is too thick stir in a little more milk or water, and serve garnished with the reserved florets and several pieces of crunchy grilled bacon.

    Note: To add a little green colour to this soup, chopped parsley can be stirred in before serving and before you add the garnish.

  • Rabbit pie
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 09/01/2010

    Even the friend who didn’t think she would like rabbit accepted my lunch invitation when she saw the rabbit pie I had just taken out of the oven. And the cats, who had spent most of the morning in their favourite ‘hot spots above the radiators’, ventured down to the kitchen to see if the delicious aroma meant food for them too.

    I purchased the rabbit from our family butcher Richard Golsby, who supplies only wild rabbits caught locally.

    Look up rabbit pie in most cookery books and you will find instructions to place the rabbit joints into the pie dish just as they are. Because rabbit bones are sharp little things that lurk amongst the meat, the method I adopt when cooking this dish calls for the rabbit to be cooked first, so the meat can be pulled off the bones easily before placing it in the pie dish.

    Yes this takes a few moments to complete, but if this job has been undertaken with care, it stops people choking on their meal.

    To serve 4-6 people you will need:

    One rabbit cut into joints

    8oz (225g) piece of streaky bacon - diced

    2 medium onions - chopped small

    4oz (100g) mushrooms

    One cooking apple - peeled and sliced thin

    ¾pt (425 ml) chicken stock or water

    ½ pt (275ml) dry cider

    1 bay leaf

    Bunch of fresh herbs to include parsley, marjoram and thyme

    8 oz (225g) shortcrust pastry

    1 beaten egg to wash pastry

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Turn the oven to 200°C / 400°F or gas mark 6.

    Wash the rabbit joints and place in large cooking pot, along with chopped onion, bay leaf and the fresh herbs that have been tied into a bunch with string.

    Add the cider and stock to a casserole dish with a lid, and bring to the boil.

    Once boiling, season, and place it in the oven for about an hour or until the rabbit is so tender it is falling off the bone.

    Remove from the oven, strain off the liquid and retain. The bay leaf, chopped onions and the herbs can be thrown out.

    When the rabbit begins to cool, carefully pull the meat off the bone and place it into a large pie dish. This is a job that has to be done carefully as the bones really are sharp and sometimes easily overlooked if you work too quickly.

    Add the diced bacon to the dish, and tuck in the mushrooms and apple slices between the meat.

    Adjust the seasoning of the retained cooking liquid and pour into the dish.

    Roll out the pastry and place over the dish, trimming the edges and adding decoration if you wish.

    Brush the pastry top with the egg wash and bake in the oven for about half an hour or until the pastry has turned a delicious golden brown.

  • Cream of Jerusalem artichoke soup
    Photo: Helen Peacocke 17/01/2010

    Jerusalem artichokes are knobbly little winter root vegetables that are very difficult to peel without waste because of their shape. This problem can be overcome by scrubbing them vigorously and leaving their skins on. Alternatively, cut off all the knobbly bits before peeling.

    Those who know this vegetable sometimes tend to avoid it as this is one food that can have anti social wind-producing effect if eaten in any quantity. However, if you mix them with other vegetables when turning them into soup you can dilute this problem without loosing that sweet nutty flavour for which it is famed.

    If you don’t grow your own Jerusalem artichokes, you can buy them freshly dug from the soil, from Lucy and Jonathan Bowden of Millwood Market Gardens, who have a stall outside the Emporium on Saturdays from 9.30am to 2pm. They have a fine selection of seasonal vegetables, most of which they have grown themselves.

    To serve 6 people you will need:

    1lb (450g) Jerusalem artichokes - scrubbed and rough chopped

    ½ lb (225g) carrots - washed and rough chopped

    ½ lb leeks - washed and fine sliced

    1 medium potato - peeled and rough chopped

    1 medium onion - rough chopped

    2 cloves garlic - chopped fine

    1.5 litres vegetable stock

    100 ml double cream

    2oz (50g) butter

    Salt and freshly ground black peppercorns to season.


    Melt the butter gently in a large saucepan, and add all the vegetables, keeping the heat low so that they can sweat gently. Stir now and again to avoid any burning on the bottom of the pan. This process will take about 20 minutes.

    Add the stock, bring to the boil, them lower the heat so that the soup is just simmering.

    When all the vegetables are really soft, which should take another 20 minutes, remove from the heat and allow to cool a little before zapping them through the liquidizer to obtain a purée.

    Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and adjust consistency if too thick by adding a little more stock.

    Return to the saucepan, whisk in the cream and gently bring back to full heat before serving with hot crusty bread.

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