Saturday, 3 February 2018

Chorizo, Beetroot & Ricotta Baguette

Another 'perfect for a weekend lunch' recipe idea here, again using produce sent to me for recipe ideas by Laverstoke Park Farm. I must say, I've really enjoyed eating cheese and black pudding for the last three days!

Chorizo, Beetroot & Ricotta Baguette


10-15 cm hard chorizo
half a red onion
three steamed beetroot - buy ready prepped, but not the vinegary ones!
handful baby spinach
black pepper
Laverstoke Park Farm Buffalo Ricotta
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
thyme leaves
extra virgin olive oil


Slice the chorizo at an oblique angle so you have ovals rather than rounds.
Fry it off in a little olive oil and add the sliced red onions. Fry until the chorizo is crispy and the onions are caramelised. They'll help each other out here!
Once ready, cube the pre-cooked beetroot and add to the pan. Heat through.
Grind over a little black pepper.
To serve, slice the baguette and add a handful of baby spinach.
Top with the chorizo, beetroot and onions.
Pour any remining pan oils and juices over the top.
Dollop ricotta across the mixture.
Now, this is the bit that brings it all together so don't leave it out...sprinkle fresh thyme leaves, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a grinding of black pepper over the top.

Thank you Laverstoke Park Farm...not just for the produce, but for getting me back in the kitchen and inventing! I've loved it. 

Disclaimer: The products I received were complimentary for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions given are my own, honest and truthful.

Friday, 2 February 2018

Black Pudding, Pear, Potato and Ricotta Salad

I say salad, but this is a full-on, whole hearted meal that not only will leave you full of food, but also full of flavour. My previous post told how I was enjoying trialling some produce from Laverstoke Park Farm, and the recipe today includes the Black Pudding and Buffalo Ricotta from there. I have added quantities for ingredients as a guide, but I'm one of those 'choose as much as whatever as you'd like' sort of people, so feel free to go ahead and change!

Black Pudding, Pear and Ricotta Salad

Ingredients: Makes one large salad - serves two happily.

For the salad:
Bag of rocket leaves
12 baby new potatoes, halved
2 large pears, cored and wedged
2 thick slices of Laverstoke Park Farm black pudding, cubed
leftover bread (nice crusty loaf works best) torn into chunks

For the dressing:
1/2 lemon, juiced and skin torn and squashed
1 garlic clove, crushed
black pepper
small handful roughly chopped fresh mint
several small whole mint leaves
extra virgin olive oil
red wine vinegar


Add the potatoes and all but one of the pear wedges to a roasting tin.
Make the dressing - combine the garlic, black pepper, lemon juice and skins, chopped mint, 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil and a splash of red wine vinegar.
Pour over the potatoes and pears and roast in a hot over until the potatoes are crispy and the pears are soft...around 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, fry the cubes of black pudding. Once beginning to crispen up, add the torn bread. The black pudding should produce enough oil to fry the bread in too without the need to add more.
Remove the potatoes and pears from the oven and drain off the juices and dressing into a small bowl. Add another 2 tbsp olive oil and a splash a red wine vinegar to the juices and stir to combine. Taste and adjust flavours as desired.
Once the bread has begun to turn to croutons, add the few whole mint leaves to the oil to crispen up.
Slice the remaining pear wedge thinly.
In a large serving bowl, combine the rocket, potatoes, pears, black pudding and croutons. Blob little bits of ricotta all over. Top with the crispy mint leaves, thinly sliced pear and drizzle over the new dressing from the small bowl. Grind some fresh black pepper over the top.
Eat warm.

I hope you like this - don't be put off by the long list of ingredients for the dressing - you'll have most in the store cupboard anyway. And once you've started the recipe, all else can be done whilst the potatoes and pears are in the oven.

Disclaimer: The products I received were complimentary for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions given are my own, honest and truthful.

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Black Pudding & Buffalo Cheeses!

I was lucky enough to have recently been sent some delicious goodies from Laverstoke Park Farm to try out and see what I could do with! If you don't already know, Laverstoke is "2,500 acres of bio-dynamic and organic farming in Hampshire ... owned and run by ex-racing driver and Formula One World Champion Jody Scheckter. He wanted to create a farming environment that would follow nature as closely as possible, combining 21st century science, together with the most environmentally friendly farming methods available," with a view to creating "Better tasting, healthy food.
Without compromise." 

The cheeses are all produced from the milk of the Asian water Buffalo herd who graze freely on organic pasture, full of 31 different herbs, grasses and clovers. Meanwhile, their kitchen is one of the few in the UK who use fresh pig’s blood in their black pudding. This is made using a rare Scottish Hebridian style recipe that uses medium sized oatmeal as opposed to fat additives and has no added nitrates, preservatives or colours. Even reminding my 6 year old it's prime ingredient was fresh pig's blood, didn't put her off - she just loves black pudding!

I began my recipe ideas by trawling the internet to see more traditional pairings and recipes for the cheeses I was sent: Buffalo Mozzarella and Buffalo Ricotta. And also for the Black Pudding. Then I narrowed down what I'd like to do with it and began devising my own! Obviously, crusty bread is a big winner with both cheese and the black pudding, so that features heavily, but also the freshness and cleanliness of ripe, crispy fruit, such as pears and apples works well with both and cuts through the creaminess of the cheese. I always feel ricotta needs a little help to encourage the flavours to come through and develop too, so tend to add black pepper, thyme, lemon juice and extra virgin olive oil to this. In fact, a very simple recipe is to do just that and smear onto hunks of sourdough!

A quick idea is to add a big dollop of the ricotta to tomato based stews. This was the first thing I did as I was part way through cooking a sausage, chorizo, mushroom and paprika stew type thing when the produce arrived and I just couldn't resist adding a mild creaminess to it. Simply fry off chopped sausages and chorizo with olive oil. Add mushrooms, smoked paprika and a tin of chopped tomatoes. And, as usual, a pinch of sugar to counteract the acidity form the tomatoes. Bubble until thickened. Take off the heat, season well and add a large spoonful of ricotta, stirring through before serving. 

Black Pudding Huevos Rancheros

This very British take on a classic Mexican egg dish is very quick and easy, especially for a weekend brunch. 

Ingredients: Serves 4 as a small brunch portion

Half a red onion, sliced
2 crushed garlic cloves
Small piece of chorizo - cubed
Small piece of Laverstoke Park Farm black pudding - cubed
flat tsp smoked paprika
Can of chopped tomatoes
half tsp dried oregano
pinch of sugar 
4 eggs


Fry black pudding and chorizo in a tiny little bit of olive oil over a high heat.
Sprinkle over smoked paprika and toss in the pan for half a minute.
Add sliced red onions and crushed garlic. Keep the ingredients moving and fry until beginning to soften. Turn heat down lower and leave.
Once softened, add can tomatoes and dried oregano and a pinch of sugar. Keep simmering to reduce liquid. 
Once at your desired consistency pour into one large of 4 individual oven dishes, top with egg and bake until white is cooked and the yolk still runny.

Serve with crispy dippable bread.

Disclaimer: The products I received were complimentary for review and recipe development purposes. All opinions given are my own, honest and truthful.

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

Family Times

I'm back to it...the blog! But in a more manageable way. So, I'd like to introduce you to my new venture: a family / lifestyle blog, The Chimney House. This new blog will feature a monthly round-up entitled 'Meet, Make & Munch' with a focus on what me and my family have been up to over the last few weeks, highlighting any, well highlights, and giving suggestions on where friends, family and people could meet; what you could make, either with your little ones, or for yourself or the house; and what or where to eat! The make could be a munch, or, indeed the munch a make! Other aspects of the new site include my musings as a sleep deprived mummy, and, of course, a link to here. I'll continue to post recipes and solely food based posts on here and link to them from the new site, but they probably won't be as frequent as before! More time to focus on these little poppets!

Please hop over to The Chimney House and have a look around. Subscribe if you think it's something you might be interested in and keep popping back here to find those favourite recipes and new ideas.
Thanks for staying with me over the years...I hope you continue to enjoy this slimlined site and the new ideas over on The Chimney House too.
Merlotti x

Monday, 6 February 2017

Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowls

I was asked for some slow cooker recipes that weren’t stew, so here’s the first. These may look like they have a lot of ingredients, but I think you should have most of the stuff to hand – and they’re really easy to put together. You can zshuz (?!) them up at the end however you like – I like to add grated cheese, chopped onions with coriander and homemade guacamole, then make wraps! But you can just as easily eat straight from the bowl.


Like many of my recipes, you can vary quantities, and ingredients to some extent, according to taste. And if you don’t have a slow cooker, you could do this in the oven in a lidded casserole. If you don’t have a can of corn, use frozen, or even peas. If you don’t have black beans, use kidney beans…it really doesn’t matter here if you switch things in and out.

This recipe makes 6 big portions.


4 chicken breasts

1 can chopped tomatoes (or two jars of salsa)

230ml chicken stock

4tsp taco/fajita seasoning packet – I base mine on this recipe or chilli powder, cumin, salt

CHEAT: 2 packets microwave brown + wild rice (at £1 each, I don’t think they’re bad value)

can of black beans or 250g dried black beans

can of sweetcorn or small mug of frozen corn

peppers and red onions (optional) CHEAT:  I used sliced frozen peppers and slice frozen red onions


If you’re using dried beans, rinse them well – I didn’t. It’s not a problem, but everything in the pot turns a purply brown if you don’t.

Put everything, apart from the rice, peppers and onions into the pot. Stir to combine and ensure chicken is covered. Turn onto low for 4 hours. Keep a check to ensure it doesn’t dry out and stick.

After 4 hours, the beans will probably still be hard and chewy on the inside…don’t worry.

Add frozen pepper and onions. Turn up to high for 2 hours.

Remove chicken and shred. Tip in rice. Stir together. Turn back to low for ten minutes to ensure rice is heated through.

This is a great ‘prep ahead’ meal. You can get everything out and bag it all up in one bag ready to tip in that morning. Easy! This recipe would also work really well in the Cook4Me although I’d definitely use tinned beans, not dried. I’d also only use half the stock. Since you’re using whole chicken breasts, I think about 15 minutes should do the trick, and you can always add more cooking time to get them to the shreddable stage!


I served it with soured cream, grated cheese and salsa and gave everyone warmed wraps to make their own burritos. Once the OH discovered they were actually very healthy, with beans, tomatoes, corn, peppers, chicken and ‘good for you’ rice, his rating of the dish climbed to an 8/10. And none of the goodness disappears from the slow cooker either.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Family Meals–Cheat’s Cottage Pie

So, after asking you what you’d like to see on the blog, several people asked for quick, tasty family meals that don’t use too many ingredients. So I’m starting you off with my own ‘cheats’ version of a cottage pie. The cheat aspect is to use frozen, pre chopped veg. Now, now…don’t scoff. This is one type of food I’ve started relying on. Firstly, the taste. It’s just the same as the fresh. The price? Well, maybe twice the price as buying individual pieces of fresh veg. but there’s no waste as it simply sits there waiting for the next use. One thing I have found is that once defrosted, the veg does become watery. Because of this, I wouldn’t use it for drier dishes where you want a thick sauce, but for stews and stir-fries, the extra water just becomes a part of the sauce.



beef mince

frozen chopped onions

frozen chopped carrots

crushed garlic

stock cube (I just used a little corner of one as was making for the kiddies)

hp brown sauce

red wine (notice, this didn’t bother me – for the kiddies!)

Worcestershire sauce



frozen mashed potato – yes, I know, but it only has in it the stuff you’d put in at home I promise!

Stovetop Method:

1 - Brown mince, onions, garlic and carrots in a little olive oil

2 - Whilst browning, make your stock – combine a large glug of brown sauce, small glug of Worcestershire sauce, half glass or so or red wine, beef stock cube, ground pepper and enough water to just cover your mince – add a little. You can always top up the pan later if there’s not enough. I used around 300g mince and made about 300ml stock.

3 - Sprinkle the mince mix with a spoon of plain flour, mix in.

4 - Pour your stock mix over the top, stir and let bubble down until the mince and veg are cooked and the liquid is reduced so you have a thick gooey sauce.

5 - Pour into an ovenproof dish, top with frozen pellets of mash, Grate cheese over the top and bake as usual – about 35 minutes on 180 should do. You just need to cook the mash and brown the top really.

Cook4Me Method:

Manual mode – browning, 3 minutes.

See 1 and 2 above.

Once browned, see 3 and 4 above.

Manual mode – quick cook, 7 minutes.

Once finished, see 5 above

So, hopefully that’s one to get you started, even if you already make a version of this, try with the pre chopped frozen veg…it honestly is so much faster!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Tefal Cook4Me


I've been experimenting with my new Christmas present over the last few weeks and am pleased to say, I'm definitely getting the hang of it! I used it last week, and this week in fact, for a healthy and hearty bean stew, which cooked in just 7-10 minutes. I also made a new years chilli, (10 mins) chicken sambal curry (4 mins) and monkfish with peppers (6 mins).

Image result for tefal cook4me

You may have guessed from these cooking times that my new toy is a pressure cooker. Yes, that's right, but not one of those 80s Prestige huge pans with a scary lid that went on the hob. No. An electric one. All shiny and new. A Tefal Cook 4 Me. And I may be a little bit in love. Yes, you still have all the prep. to do, and that adds more time. And you have to wait for it to preheat. But unlike my slow cooker, I can brown meats in the cooker itself, then go straight onto cooking in there, even tho it has to preheat again.


There is, however, a time and a place for it. If you want a really rich, flavoursome, homemade ragu, this machine will not give you that. If you already have amazing flavours ready to go in the pot, for example, a Thai spiced paste, it's perfect. Equally, if you cook things like bolognaise from a jar, it would dramatically speed up your dinner times.
The machine has several recipes pre-programmed into it, so you turn it on, find the recipe and the little screen guides you through what to do when. It's normally a case of prepping the ingredients, browning meat then throwing it all in to cook. The app, which is only available in the U.K. at present, has many more recipes to use and you can just follow the recipe on there and use the manual mode on the machine brown and cook. There is a new Connect model just released over here, and the app is designed to run alongside that and send the recipe direct to your machine. But I can't really see the point. For a start, it's much more expensive. And there's no extra effort or difficulty involved in using the manual mode on the machine. In fact, it’s slightly easier as the browning mode on manual starts a timer so you know how long you’ve been browning for, although I usually go on the look of it.


You can even use it to cook desserts, but I haven't braved those yet. I also don't think I've actually followed the recipes on the machine. For a start, I only use pastes for curries and everything else, like bolognaise, I make my own tomato sauce. I tend to make something I would usually make, find a similar cut of meat recipe on the machine and use that preset! So for my chicken sambal, I chop chicken, find the green Thai curry recipe as it also uses chopped chicken and coconut milk, brown meat and onions, tip my paste, coconut milk and green beans in, then use the preset time. For my chilli, I again used the chilli preset but used my own recipe. Occasionally with the chilli, the sauce is too thick for the machine to create the steam and pressure needed, so just give it a stir, try again, and add a bit more water if needed to help it on its way!


Even if I use this machine once a week, it certainly does save time and was worth the money. When F asks when her dinner is ready, I can say ‘in about three minutes’, rather than telling her we just have to wait for the oven to heat up, etc. etc. It also means I can tip everything in and leave it rather than stand at the hob and try to stop CC emptying the cupboards at the same time as juggling a hot pan … never a good idea.

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