Recipes from Gennaro’s new Verdure cookbook

Round & About


We’re sharing a taste of Gennaro’s Verdure: Big and bold recipes to pack your plate with veg by Gennaro Contaldo (Pavilion Books).

Arancini di funghi; filled mushroom balls

(makes eight)

These filled mushrooms may seem a little fiddly to make but, believe me, they are well worth the effort! Once filled, the mushrooms are pressed together to form a ball or, as I’ve called them in Italian, arancini (little oranges). I like to serve them with a selection of salads and pickles. You can easily make these vegetarian by omitting the pork and Parmesan by substituting with extra breadcrumbs and chopped mushrooms.


16 small-medium chestnut or white mushrooms (approx. 500g/1lb 2oz), wiped clean

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

knob of butter

100g (3½oz) minced pork

Two sage leaves, finely chopped

4 tsp white wine

50g (1¾oz) ricotta

30g (1oz) grated Parmesan

plain flour, for dusting

Three eggs, lightly beaten

abundant dried breadcrumbs, enough

to coat the mushrooms

abundant vegetable oil, for frying

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and, using a small spoon, very carefully remove as much of the interior (gills) as possible without tearing the mushrooms. Finely chop the stalks and combine with the gills.

Heat the olive oil and butter in a small frying pan, add the chopped mushrooms and stir-fry for a couple of minutes over a medium heat until softened. Remove from the pan and set aside.

Replace the frying pan on the heat, add the minced pork and sage and stir-fry until the meat is well sealed. Season with salt and pepper, then add the wine, stir and allow to evaporate. Add the cooked mushrooms to the pan and cook for a minute, then take off the heat, allow to cool, then stir through the ricotta and Parmesan.

Fill the mushrooms with this mixture. Join two mushrooms together, pressing well, then coat in flour, dip in beaten egg and repeat to double-coat. Finally, coat in breadcrumbs.

Heat plenty of vegetable oil in a deep, heavy-based pan over a medium/highheat until hot, then deep-fry the mushroom balls for about four minutes until golden brown. A deep-fat fryer is ideal for this if you have one!

Using a slotted spoon, lift the mushroom balls out of the oil, drain well on kitchen paper to soak up the excess oil and then serve immediately.

Recipe 2:

Torta di carote e mandorle – carrot & almond cake

(serves eight)

Delicately light and healthy, this easy carrot cake would be perfect with a morning coffee or at teatime. I like to use the Italian raising agent known as Paneangeli, with its delicate vanilla flavour, and it should be obtainable from Italian delis and international shops. Otherwise, regular baking powder will work just fine.


Four eggs, separated

225g (8oz) caster sugar

130g (4¾oz) plain flour, sifted

2 tsp Paneangeli baking powder, sifted

(or regular baking powder)

150g (51/2oz) ground almonds

275g (9¾oz) carrots, grated

a little icing sugar, sifted

handful of flaked almonds

Preheat the oven to 160°C fan/180°C/ gas mark 4. Grease a 20cm (8in.) round springform cake tin and line it with baking paper.

In a large bowl, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together for about 10 minutes, until nice and creamy.

In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until stiff. Fold the flour, Paneangeli (or baking powder), ground almonds and grated carrots into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the stiffened egg whites.

Pour the mixture into the lined cake tin and bake in the oven for 55–60 minutes, until risen and cooked through. If you insert a wooden skewer, it should come out clean.

Remove from the oven, then leave to cool completely before carefully removing it from the tin. Place on a plate and dust the top with icing sugar and a handful of flaked almonds, before serving.


This cake is best eaten fresh but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to three days.

Taken from Gennaro’s Verdure: Big and bold recipes to pack your plate with veg by Gennaro Contaldo (Pavilion Books). Images by David Loftus.

February recipes: Batch of the day!

Round & About


Here’s a taste of Suzanne Mulholland’s The Batch Lady: Cooking on a Budget, out now, published by HarperCollins

She says in the introduction to this book: “As I became a busy working wife and mum I realised that those skills are also very much needed in our home environment too. We’re constantly playing the juggling game that is modern day life, and it can be stressful as we try to manage budgets, feed our families well, and get nutritious meals on the table that offer variety and keep everyone happy. That, combined with trying to reduce packaging, reduce food waste and eat less meat, can have our brains spinning.

“This book was packed full of hearty recipes designed to fill your freezer (and your belly!) with tasty food that could be put on the table with little fuss. My second, The Batch Lady: Healthy Family Favourites, focussed on making the comforting family food we all love a little bit healthier.”

Roast butternut squash with a couscous crust

Prep: 10 minutes | Cooking: 70 minutes | Serves: Four


• Glug of olive or vegetable oil
• One large butternut squash, topped, tailed, cut into quarters and seeds removed
• ½ cup (100g) couscous
• ½ cup (120ml) boiling water
• 100g feta cheese
• Juice of one lemon
• Two heaped tbsp pesto
• Eight cherry tomatoes, cut into quarters
• Salt and freshly ground black pepper
• Olive oil, for roasting

Roasting butternut squash in this way brings out its natural sweetness and delicious earthy flavours. Bulked up with fluffy couscous this is substantial enough as a main meal, but would also work as a side dish or even a dinner party starter.


1. Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Add a glug of oil to a lipped baking sheet. Place in the oven to warm.
2. Once the oil is hot, add the butternut to the tray, turning to coat in the oil as you do. Bake for 40 minutes, turning halfway through, until the squash is golden and just tender.
3. Transfer the couscous to a large bowl and pour over half a cup (120ml) of boiling water. Cover and set aside for five minutes, then fluff the couscous up with a fork.
4. Crumble the feta into the bowl, then add the lemon juice, pesto, tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

If you’re cooking to eat now… Spoon the couscous mix over the roasted squash and return to the oven for another 30 minutes. Divide the wedges between serving plates and serve. Zhuzh it up with a good drizzle of balsamic glaze.

If you’re making ahead to freeze… Set the squash and couscous aside until cooled to room temperature, then transfer the squash wedges to a large freezer bag and the couscous to a smaller bag. Seal the couscous bag and then place inside the bag with the squash before sealing. Label and freeze flat for up to three months.

Then… Remove the squash and couscous from the freezer and place in the fridge to defrost, ideally overnight. Once defrosted lay the squash on a foil-lined baking sheet and spoon over the couscous. Transfer to an oven preheated to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4 and bake for 30 minutes, until piping hot all the way through. Serve as above.

Mexican beef nacho topper

Prep: 10 minutes | Cooking: 8-10 minutes | Serves: Four


• Splash of vegetable or olive oil
• One cup (115g) frozen chopped onions
• 1 tsp frozen chopped garlic
• 250g minced beef
• 1 x 30g packet taco seasoning
• 1 x 395g tin mixed beans in chilli sauce
• 2 tbsp tomato purée 
• One cup (175g) frozen sliced peppers

To serve:

• One 200g bag lightly salted tortilla chips
• One cup (90g) pre-grated Cheddar cheese
• MAKE IT Veggie! Replace the beef with a plant-based mince of your choice.

Cheesy, spicy and loaded with flavour, this is the ultimate sharing dish for when you have lots of hungry mouths to feed. If you’re feeding more than four, this is easy to scale up by simply doubling or tripling the ingredient amounts.


1. Heat a splash of oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add the onions, garlic and mince and cook, stirring, for about five minutes, until the onions are translucent and meat browned.
2. Drain any excess fat from the pan, then return to the heat and add the taco seasoning, beans, tomato puree and sliced peppers. Give everything another stir to combine, bring to the boil, then reduce to a simmer and leave to cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes. Remove from the heat.

If you’re serving now… Preheat the oven to 180˚C/350˚F/gas mark 4. Transfer the tortilla chips to a large baking dish and warm in the oven for five minutes, until crisp. Remove from the oven and ladle the chilli over the top. Scatter over the grated cheese then return the dish to the oven for 6-8 minutes, until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Put the dish in the middle of the table for everyone to enjoy. Zhuzh it up… Scatter over some fresh coriander and serve with guacamole and pickled jalapenos alongside.

If you’re making ahead to freeze… Leave the beef chilli to cool to room temperature, then transfer to a large, labelled freezer bag and freeze flat for up to three months.

Then… Remove the bag from the freezer and leave to defrost in the fridge, ideally overnight. Once defrosted, tip the beef chilli into a large saucepan over a medium heat and reheat, stirring occasionally, for 5-10 minutes, until piping hot. While the chilli is reheating, warm the tortilla chips then assemble the Mexican Nacho Topper as described above.

Sobell House cookbook Matt Allwright Q&A

Liz Nicholls


Matt Allwright, one of the stars whose recipes are featured in Food & Wellness: The Sobell House Vegetarian Cook Book, shares his thoughts about local life, good causes and consumer rights…

Q. Hi Matt. It’s great that you’ve been involved in the new Sobell House cookbook. What’s your recipe? “It’s the chilli jam I make every year. I grow my own chillis and I never know quite how hot it’s going to be until its done. Last year it was so hot that you just had to show the jar to a piece of cheese, and that was enough, even with the lid on…”

Q. Is there anything you eat or don’t eat? “I eat everything. Not a massive fan of avocado, but I’ll cope. I’m a grateful diner, and I eat with gusto. I had a real problem with beetroot for years, and now it’s one of my favourite things, so it just goes to show nothing’s really off-limits. Christmas is traditional. There is too much at stake to mess with the formula.”

Q. Why is Sobell House a great charity, deserving of support, including yours? “My good friend Tom is the music therapist at Sobell House. They don’t see our last days and weeks as a waiting game. They see it as an opportunity to help find meaning, to tell a story to heal the spirit and calm the mind. I would love to think that when the time comes, we could all have someone to help us write songs, to tend gardens, to do whatever we think is significant, and to give us the chance to share important ideas and feelings with our loved ones. That’s proper work.”

Q. You’re familiar to millions as a defender of consumer rights… Do rogue traders really make your blood boil? “We always start the process by meeting someone who has been affected by the actions of the trader. You can’t ignore that face-to-face experience. From that point the whole team knows it’s their job to confront the rogue to get answers. I don’t’ feel anger, more a sense of duty to hold to account and bring change. I don’t like letting people down, especially when they’ve taken a risk to talk to us. Also: if you are born with the annoying ability to ask questions when running backwards or being jet washed, you’d better use that power for good.” 

Q.  Do you feel that as a nation we’re bad at fighting for our rights or complaining? “Not everyone feels they can speak out enough when things aren’t right. When someone tries to impose a way of life on us, or harms with their actions, we can be submissive, or worry about the consequences of standing up for ourselves or others. That’s how bullies get their way, and I’ve always grown up hating bullying. Sometimes you need someone to point out what’s wrong, even if they risk being unpopular by doing so. I try to make my point firmly but politely, bearing in mind that my view is not the only one. You’re much better off if you can find middle ground, but with some people that’s just not possible.” 

Growing up

Q. How was your experience of growing up in Berkshire? “Berkshire was always good to me. I was lucky to have a comfortable home in a fun town full of music and friends supported by parents who loved me. I met my wife on the streets of Reading when we were both at school. That’s the most important thing that’s ever happened to me, so thank you, Berkshire.”  

Q. What are your favourite aspects of life in Berkshire, and where are your favourite haunts? “I’m lucky that I meet a lot of volunteers through the Pride of Reading Awards and the other organisations I work with. There are so many people who help others because it’s right – not seeking recognition or advancement. These people see the instinctively try to fill the gaps left by society, and they far outweigh the rogues and bullies. Haunts? I love the river. The slipway at Aston near Henley on a spring morning is hard to beat.”  

Q. Your dog Ozzy looks cute! Is he? What’s been the most rewarding, and most frustrating, aspect of being a dog owner? “Ozzy is my first dog, and I could never have imagined how wonderful he’d be. He’s transformed family life. Dogs are the greatest gift, like someone decided to parcel up the best bits of humans: loyalty, playfulness and enthusiasm, and then cover them in fur. He barks far too much, eats anything and smells dreadful.”  

Q. We’re also supporting Launchpad Reading this month. Why do local heroes working to prevent homelessness also deserve our support, especially at this time of year? “I’ve been a patron of Launchpad for years. The work they do, to help people find homes, and then support them in those homes, is incredible. All charities, particularly local ones, are struggling right now, due to the cost of living crisis. Anything we can do to help Launchpad and others continue and extend their work, will have a huge effect on someone, somewhere, who doesn’t live that far away, and has had some bad luck. So please, donate, volunteer and spread the word.” 

Q. Who is your favourite author? “George Orwell. Most people think of the darkness and dystopia of 1984. They don’t always see the humour or the love of nature in his writing which stems from his childhood in Henley and Shiplake. Everywhere tries to lay claim to Orwell, but from clues in his writing it seems to me that Berkshire was where he was happiest, fishing in the river, walking alone through the woods and fields, identifying birds and plants.”  

Q. Can you tell us a bit about your love for Bracknell Bees? “The day the ice rink closed was terrible for the community. We loved watching the team play, and being part of the wonderful world of hockey. The players were rough and tough on the ice, but patient and thoughtful with the kids who were learning the game. I imagine they’ll build flats on the site at some point, but the families that live in them won’t have anything as great as the rink to keep them happy.”  

Q. Finally, if you could make one wish for the world, what would it be? “Just tolerance, really. Understanding that just because someone doesn’t think, sound or look like you, or come from where you do, it doesn’t make them some sort of threat. We might have lost a bit of that.” 

The Sobell House Vegetarian Cook Book is out on 8th November. To buy a copy of this 128-page paperback for £17.50 visit Sobell House or buy from Waterstones and Amazon.

November recipes: French Kiss

Round & About


Cathy Gayner’s Recipes from Le Rouzet – An English Cook in France, is out now, in aid of Age Unlimited. Here’s a taster…

Walnut tart

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: Four generously


For the pastry:
• 110g butter
• 140g flour
• 30g icing sugar
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:
• 20g butter
• 200g golden syrup
• 100g walnut halves
• A pinch of mixed spice
• 100g mixed peel
• Four madeleines (or soft amaretti), crumbled
• One egg, beaten


This is very much part of Le Rouzet menus in the early autumn, when our walnuts are beginning to ripen and every tree seems to have a red squirrel perched in it, noisily eating our supply. It’s like a sophisticated treacle tart, but not heavy, and is really worth making, even if you don’t have large quantities of walnuts to use up.

Put all the ingredients for the pastry into a food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. Press the dough into a 20cm tart tin with a removable base. Prick the pastry all over really thoroughly, even up the sides (this will prevent shrinkage), then chill in the fridge.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180C/ fan 160/ gas 4 until golden.

Melt the butter and syrup in a pan and stir in all the other ingredients. Pour into the pastry case and cook at 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 for 15 minutes.

Cool in the tin but as soon as you can, loosen the edges of the tart or it will get stuck. Serve with crème fraiche.

Cheese biscuits

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Makes: 40


• 250g extra-mature Cheddar, cut into chunks
• 250g salted butter, straight from the fridge, cut into chunks
• 250g plain flour
• Tabasco
• Dijon mustard
• Salt & pepper


I have dozens of recipes for cheese biscuits, but these are the ones the family insist on and I always have some in the freezer, ready to bake.

These amounts fit into my food processor perfectly; don’t be tempted to do more in one go, as it just won’t mix properly.

Put the cheese, butter and flour into the food processor and add 12 shakes of Tobasco, a heaped tablespoon of mustard, 25 grinds of pepper and two teaspoons of salt. (This is just a guide!).

Whizz all this up in the food processor and, as soon as the mixture forms a ball, stop and divide it into three parts.

Lay out three large bits of cling film and put a ball of cheese mixture on to each. With damp hands, roughly shape each ball into a sausage. Then roll up each parcel in the cling film and holding one end tightly, with the other hand, the thumb and first finger forming a circle, ease the dough along
the cling film, so you have a long, even sausage measuring about 30cm long
and 5cm across.

Freeze these parcels until you’re ready to use them (don’t attempt to cut them unless they are very cold; they will end up squashy). When you’re ready to cook, take the parcels out of the freezer and heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. By the time they have reached the right temperature, the cheese sausages will have thawed enough to cut into 2cm slices.

Line a tray with baking parchment and arrange the slices on it. Cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown; you can move them on to a serving plate straight from the oven without them coming to any harm.

They are best eaten on the day they are cooked, but if you have any left over, they freeze beautifully.

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Join Tom Kerridge’s Pirate Ship

Round & About


There’s working in the hospitality industry and then there’s working for Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge in the hospitality industry, if you’re looking for an opportunity to work alongside one of the best in the business then hop aboard the pirate ship!

The Tom Kerridge Group includes The Hand & Flowers, The Coach, Lush by Tom Kerridge and The Butcher’s Tap & Grill all in Marlow, as well as Kerridge’s Bar & Grill and Kerridge’s Fish & Chips (both London) and The Bull & Bear (Manchester), and with vacancies ranging from bartender through to front of house and all manner of chef and kitchen roles available you’re sure to find one that will help you in your career.

When you join the ‘pirate ship’ you’ll be joining a band of pirates all contributing to the success and growth of the Tom Kerridge Group. Clear lines of progression mean some of the team have forged thriving careers over 20 years and with a policy of promoting from within and nurturing talent you can be assured you’ll get all the support you need.

Tom says: “Working in hospitality is a way of life. At the top level it’s hard work, but the rewards you can get out of it are huge. It’s not just a job, but the chance to learn new skills, travel the world, meet amazing people and be involved in amazing events, for us, it’s a long-term career. Come and join our pirate ship!”

To find out more about the opportunities on offer visit

October recipes: Rice up your life!

Round & About


We’ve teamed up with The Rice Association to offer you some seasonal inspiration to jazz up a store-cupboard ingredient.

National Rice Week is back this September (12-18th September), and to help you Rice Up Your Life we have some delicious and easy new recipes to tempt you to try a new rice dish.

From bomba rice in Arroz De Marisco, Basmati rice in Turmeric Garlic Rice, long-grain rice in Middle Eastern Green Rice with Tofu Kebabs, risotto rice in Risotto Soup and to using leftover rice in Vegan Rice Pudding with Roasted Plums, there’s a new recipe that everyone can enjoy.

All types of rice offer equally good value as they are convenient, full of nutrients, easy to cook and versatile. In fact, rice is one of the few foods that can be enjoyed sweet or savoury, hot or cold and for every meal of the day, even snacks.

To find out more ways to make the most of rice and to discover what’s happening during the week this National Rice Week, visit and for even more tasty rice recipes, visit

Vegan Rice Pudding with Roasted Plums by Samantha Hadadi

Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins | Serves: 2

For the plums:

• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 300g ripe plums, stoned and sliced
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the rice pudding:

• 180g cooked leftover cooked or pouched Basmati rice
• 180-250ml plant-based milk e.g. cashew
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• Pinch ground nutmeg
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 2-4 tbsp plant-based cream
• Optional: Flaked almonds to serve


Start by preheating your oven to 180C / gas mark four and then prepare the plums. Whisk together the vanilla and maple syrup. Arrange your sliced plums on a lined baking tray, then drizzle with the maple syrup. Sprinkle over ground cinnamon, then toss to coat. Roast until juicy and oozing (around 15 minutes but check at 12 minutes). Set aside.

In the meantime, make your rice pudding. Add the cooked rice to a medium pan, then pour in 180ml of milk, as well as the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and 2 tbsp of maple syrup. Stir well, then heat (on a low to medium heat) until thickened, creamy and the rice is soft (around 10 minutes) – add a splash more milk, if needed. Stir in the plant-based cream until you achieve texture desired.

Serve warm with flaked almonds and the plums and their juices.

Turmeric Garlic Pilaf by Your Food Fantasy


• 350g Basmati rice
• 2 tsp turmeric
• Two star anise seeds
• Five or six black peppercorns
• Two or three cloves
• 1 inch cinnamon stick
• Two black cardamom
• 4 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• Two bay leaves
• Six or seven cloves garlic (sliced/chopped)
• Large onion (thinly sliced)
• 20g cashews
• 45g green peas
• 15g raisins

Prep time: 5 minutes | Soaking time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serving: 4


Wash and soak rice in water for minimum 30 minutes. Bring 1.2L of water to boil in a large saucepan, add soaked rice, turmeric powder, star anise seeds, black peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Gently stir, then let the rice boil for 5-7 minutes.

Once rice is cooked (rice should soft) switch off the heat and drain in a colander. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, bay leaves and stir. Add sliced garlic and onion to it and sauté till they are golden in colour. Add cashews and sauté again.

Now add peas and sauté again. Cover the pan with lid and let peas cook for 3-4 minutes. Add raisins and sauté. Add cooked rice and mix well. Cover the pan again and let rice steam for 3-4 minutes.

Switch off the heat and serve the rice hot. Enjoy!

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September recipes: Good Mood Food

Round & About


Ainsley Harriott shares two ideas from his newest cookbook.

Earthy beetroot works so well with salty and creamy goat’s cheese. I’ve used different coloured beetroot, which looks pretty on the plate, and cooked and raw beets for added texture, but you can stick with purple. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Roasted beetroot, candied walnut & goat’s cheese salad

Prep time: 60 minutes including marinating | Cooking time: 45-50 mins | Serves: 4

HyperFocal: 0


• Four to six medium purple beetroot, scrubbed & trimmed
• Two to four medium heritage or candy beetroot, trimmed & peeled
• 25g caster sugar
• 1tsp butter
• Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
• 60g walnut halves, toasted
• 150g goat’s cheese, crumbled
• Six to eight mint leaves, shredded a handful of lamb’s lettuce or watercress
• Zest of ½ orange
• Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

• 2 tbsp walnut oil
• 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1½ tbsp sherry/red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard/horseradish
• 2 tsp runny honey
• Zest and juice of ½ orange


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Place the purple beetroot in a roasting tin and add about a 6mm depth of water. Cover the tin tightly with foil and roast for 40–50 minutes or until tender. Leave to cool, then use your fingers (you may want to wear gloves!) or kitchen paper to rub the skins from the beetroot. Cut into wedges.

Meanwhile, cut the heritage or candy beetroot into very thin slices, using either a mandolin or a very sharp knife. Put into a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Lightly season and pour half over the raw beetroot. Leave to marinate 30 minutes while the purple beetroot is roasting.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the sugar, butter and chilli flakes in a small non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the butter and sugar have melted and turned golden. Stir in the walnuts for a minute until the nuts are nicely coated. Pour out on to the baking sheet and use two forks to quickly separate the nuts.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and leave to cool completely.

To serve, arrange the marinated beetroot on a plate then pile the wedges of roasted beetroot on top. Scatter over the cheese, mint and candied walnuts and top with salad leaves. Sprinkle over orange zest, drizzle over the remaining dressing and season with a little flaky sea salt.

Blueberry & almond clafoutis with cardamom cream


• Small knob of butter
• 100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 250g fresh blueberries
• Zest of one lemon
• 125ml whole milk
• 150ml double cream
• ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Three large eggs
• 30g plain flour
• 40g ground almonds
• 1 tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt

For the cardamom cream:

• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
• Seeds of four or five cardamon pods, crushed

Prep time: 10 minutes  | Cooking time: 40 minutes | Serving: 4-6

HyperFocal: 0


traditional French clafoutis is made with cherries but I love the unique, perfumed sweet sourness of blueberries, and they go so well with almond. The ground almonds make this slightly less custard-like than a typical clafoutis. Instead, it has more texture and flavour, like a deliciously light cake batter. Serving with a cardamom cream may sound peculiar, yet the combination of the citrusy, aromatic spice with the vanilla notes in the sweet berries really does work. I like to call this bluefoutis, but maybe that’s just me!

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease a 20cm ovenproof baking or pie dish with the butter and sprinkle with two tablespoons of caster sugar to coat the inside. Put the blueberries in the bottom of the dish and scatter over the lemon zest.

Mix together the milk, cream and almond extract.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and frothy, then stir in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Gradually pour the milk mixture on to the eggs, whisking all the time, until the batter is smooth and creamy, but being careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter over the blueberries and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffy, golden and just set with a slight wobble in the middle.

Meanwhile, whisk the double cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Fold in the cardamon until well combined. Chill until needed.

Remove the clafoutis from the oven and transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5–10 minutes. The clafoutis will deflate a little as it cools, but don’t worry! Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature, topped with a spoonful of the cardamom cream.

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Thame Food Festival bursary winner announced

Karen Neville


Popular food festival runs on September 24th & 25th and this year more than 180 artisan producers are set to take part

Hartley’s Cookery School, based in Haddenham, has been awarded the Thame Food Festival bursary for 2022.

The bursary, reinstalled after sponsorship by Pinkster Gin, was established a few years ago to celebrate and promote newly-formed artisan food business within a 30-mile radius of Thame.

Hartley’s Cookery School aims to offer cookery class and chef table experiences which explore food, why certain ingredients or techniques are used and how to prepare and cook it. While also creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone – whatever their ability.

Creating an environment that is fun and appealing for everyone

Simon Hartley, Chef and owner of Hartley’s Cookery School said of the win: “I am delighted to be receiving this bursary and the support of the team at Thame Food Festival. Since opening our doors at Bradmoor Farm in January it’s been amazing to welcome and cook with our first guests at the school. We want to be a community-led business and have so enjoyed building relationships with other food producers and suppliers. Our vision for the school is to share my knowledge and passion for food in a relaxed environment, offering fun-filled courses for all abilities. Whether you’ve never picked up a knife or are a seasoned foodie, there’s something for everyone!”

The bursary includes an award of £1,000, a free pitch at this year’s Thame Food Festival, content in the festival programme, the opportunity to have an interview in the Food Glorious Food marquee and help with PR and social media.

Previous winners have included Ozi Lala, who has gone on to win Great Taste awards for his unique food products and the original winner was Lisa Hartwright of Tess’ Brilliant Bakes. Both of whom are going from strength to strength and still play an active part in the food festival too.

Supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do

Patron and event co-ordinator Lotte Duncan said: “We are delighted to be in a position to offer a bursary again – thanks to Pinkster Gin. As a Community Interest Company, supporting young businesses that have the same ethics as the festival is an important part of what we try to do. It was such a pleasure to meet Simon and his partner and hear what they are trying to achieve by giving people friendly, fun cookery courses while learning about the provenance of their food.”

What will he spend the bursary on? Simon said: “As we have only been trading for just over five months, we are looking to use the bursary to invest in upgrading our website, signage and professional photography. Plus, use the support of the judges to broaden awareness of us and explore how we can potentially look at supporting initiatives in the community too.”

Find out more about them at Hartley’s Cookery School and to book tickets for the festival go to Thame Food Festival

August recipes: Feast of fun

Round & About


Ching He Huang & Lizzie Acker are two of the chefs on the sizzling line-up for the Big Feastival in Oxfordshire, 26th-28th August, so they’ve served up these summer tasters…

Lizzie Acker’s fruit tart

Prep: 65 minutes, Cooking: 50 minutes, Serves: Four

• 250g unsalted butter
• 2 eggs
• 350g plain flour
• 250g icing sugar
• Small pinch of salt

• 3 eggs
• 30g melted browned butter
• 50g ground almonds
• 150g double cream
• 150g light brown sugar
• 1tbsp flour
• 50g sliced almonds
• 1tsp vanilla bean paste
• 200g berries


Beat the butter and sugar until mixed together. Add the beaten eggs and then add the flour and icing sugar mix until it forms a dough.

Squash the pastry into a round disc, shape with cling film and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Add 30g of butter to a hard-based pan and place on a hob to melt and brown.

Beat the eggs and then add the sugar, double cream, ground almonds, vanilla paste and flour.

Once the butter has cooled slightly, add to the egg mixture and chill in the fridge. Set the oven to 175°c.

Roll out the pastry on to a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a tin and trim the edges with a knife. Prick the tart base.

Fill the tart with the filling mixture. Sprinkle in the berries and sliced almonds.

Bake for 50 minutes and then serve with cream and a dusting of icing sugar.

Ching’s waikiki bowl

Prep: 15 minutes, Cooking: 18-23 minutes, Serves: Three

• 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
• 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
• 200g (7oz) jasmine rice
• 50ml (2fl oz) coconut milk (see tip)
• 1 tbsp toasted coconut flakes
• 1 tsp rapeseed oil
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
• 200g (7oz) smoked tofu, drained, rinsed in cold water and diced into 1.5cm (¾ in) cubes
• 2 tbsp mirin
• 2 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
• 1 tbsp golden syrup
• kiwi, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm (¼ in) rounds, then each round into 8 wedges
• 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and diced into 0.5cm (¼ in) cubes
• 1 whole mango, peeled, stoned and diced into 0.5cm (¼ in) cubes
• A handful of roasted salted cashew nuts
• A handful of edamame, blanched from frozen, ready to eat
• 50g (1 ¾ oz) red cabbage, shredded
• Fried crispy salted seaweed, two or three pieces of hand-torn, crispy fried ready-to-eat nori, fried shallots and toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

In a small bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes with the tamari or light soy sauce and chopped chives and set aside.

Place the jasmine rice in a saucepan with the coconut milk and 350ml (12fl oz) water. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low to bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15–20 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Sprinkle over the toasted coconut flakes and set aside.

Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking, and add the rapeseed oil. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger. Toss for a few seconds, then add the smoked tofu and cook, tossing, for five seconds.

Add the mirin, tamari or light soy sauce and golden syrup and cook for two or three minutes until the sauce is reduced and the tofu is sticky. Set aside.

When you’re ready to serve, divide the rice between three bowls. Working in sections (like slices of a pizza) add the various toppings to the rice: the tamari-chive tomatoes, the teriyaki tofu, the kiwi, the pineapple, the mango, the cashew nuts, the edamame and the red cabbage.

Garnish with crushed crispy fried salted seaweed, nori flakes, fried shallots and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Ching’s tip — If the coconut milk has separated in the can, stir the milk to bring it back together before using.

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July recipes: Blooming Great Tea Party

Round & About


Tea parties have been a real feature of the summer so far after June’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations so carry on with a Blooming Great Tea Party in aid of Marie Curie

Invite your friends, family or colleagues to join you for tea and cake, and don’t forget to price your slice! Find out more about the work of Marie Curie and ideas to help you throw a tea party

Fiona Cairns’ strawberry & elderflower cake

For the cake:
• 450g unsalted butter, really soft, diced, plus more for the tins
• 450g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 8 eggs, lightly beaten
• Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
• 450g golden caster sugar
• 4 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the elderflower cream:
• 1.2kg ripe, even-sized
• strawberries, cleaned, dried and hulled
• 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 600ml double cream
• 8 tbsp elderflower cordial

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/350°F/gas mark 4. To make the three-tiered cake, take three 20cm round sandwich tins. Butter the tins and line the bases with baking parchment. If you have only two tins, then make the cake mixture and divide it evenly into three batches, baking the third as soon as a tin becomes free.

For this cake, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but you can use a food processor, or a bowl, add the butter, eggs, lemon zest and sugar, and beat well, adding the cordial towards the end. Be careful not to over-mix, as you want a light cake.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. (To halve the recipe, bake in two 20cm tins for 20-25 minutes.) Remove from the oven, leaves for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the rim to loosen the cakes from the tins and turn out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave to cool completely. Trim the cakes flat.

For the filling and decoration:
Slice 400g of the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla, leave all the flavours to mingle for 30 minutes.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, adding the cordial slowly just as it begins to thicken. Place one cake on a cake stand and spread with a layer of cream and half the slice strawberries. Repeat with another cake, a layer of cream and the remaining sliced strawberries. Top with the last cake. Spread the remaining cream all over the top and sides.

Take the best-shaped strawberries and cut 10-12 in half. Place the halved strawberries, cut side up in a circle around the edge of the cake, and pile up the rest in the centre. Cut the remaining strawberries into slices – or in half – and press into the cream all around the sides.

For the cake:
• 200ml soya or almond milk
• 20ml cider vinegar
• 180g self-raising flour
• 20g ground almonds
• 200g caster sugar
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• 80ml vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

For decoration:
• Raspberry Jam
• Toasted almond flakes
• Glacé or fresh cherries
• Almond icing.

Makes: 12 large cupcakes, about 24 fairy cakes or 48 mini ones

Ms Cupcake’s vegan Bakewell tart cupcakes

Mix the soya milk and vinegar together and leave to sit for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line your muffin tray with muffin cases.

In a bowl mix by hand the dry ingredients until fully combined. Add to the bowl the soya milk mixture, oil, vanilla and extract. Using a metal spoon quickly mix together until just combined (about 10 seconds). The mixture should still be a bit lumpy, so be careful to not over-mix! Tap the bowl onto the work surface to halt the raising agents from working too quickly (you will see the bubbles pop.)

Using an ice-cream scoop or a spoon, evenly place the batter into the lined muffin tray and tap the filled muffin tray on the work surface to pop the bubbles again.

Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack in the muffin tray for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the muffin tray and finish cooling them on the wire rack until room temperature.

Once your cupcakes are cooled, spread a big dollop of jam on top of the cupcake and then pipe your almond buttercream on top to hide the jam below. Decorate using toasted almond flakes and top it all off with either a fresh or glace cherry.

Almond icing:
Using an electric mixer (or a handheld mixer), whip together the margarine, vegetable fat and vanilla until creamy (about 1 minute). Add half of the icing sugar and continue mixing (slowly at first and then bringing up to speed). Mix until combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix while dripping in the soya or almond milk until it is a smooth consistency. If the icing is too firm, then add a bit more milk and mix again.

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