Pork Pies with Chilli


Pork Pies with Chilli

During a recent trip to the North of England, my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend a very pleasant day with my in-laws, meandering through the streets of York. It has been many years since my last visit, but we were not disappointed. The famous Shambles provided a fantastic place to stroll and we came across so many interesting shops and eateries. Henshelwoods Delecatessen was a particular treat and I couldn’t resist having a mooch around the shop. Customers were queuing out of the door to order lunch from the deli counter and there must have been over 80 different varieties of cheese on display. I came away with Pop Notch Fancy Salty Caramel Popcorn, Truede Mixed Flavour Turkish Delight and a jar of Rosebud Preserves Wild Rowan Jelly which I plan to use with a pigeon breast recipe. Feeling pleased with my purchases I was greeted by a very excited husband as I exited the shop, because lo and behold he had found a delightful looking hostelry named Pivni. The selection of ales available was huge, but I couldn’t resist opting for a beer from my old childhood stomping ground, so I plumped for a glass of Pennine Pale Ale brewed by the Allendale Brewery in Northumberland. The ale may have been from the wrong end of the Pennines from where I grew up, but boy was it good. It was probably one of the smoothest pale ales I have tasted for many years and the fruity citrus overtones were delicious. By now we were having an attack of the munchies,  so we decided to sample The Pivni Chilli Pork Pie. The pie certainly delivered and it packed a punch with the hint of chilli in the middle, and the crumbly hot water pastry was fantastic. A chilli Pork Pie is a first for me, and so on my return home I was determined to master the art of making hot water pastry and secondly, to make a Pork Pie with a chilli filling.

I didn’t have a recipe but my mother-in-law kindly gave me her well worn Home Recipes Book for Be-Ro flour which contained a family favourite recipe for Pork Pies. I also had a quick look on the internet and found various recipes and methods to make Pork Pies, but I took the lead from the following two recipes.  The Chilli Fennel Seed Pork Pie on Joseph Piper website appealed to me as it did not require the addition of jelly to be poured into the pie after cooking. Mr Vikkis Chilli Jam Pork Pies also caught my eye as I really wanted to ensure the pies had a chilli centre. My final recipe for the pies is therefore based on the pastry recipe from Joseph Piper and the filling from ideas gleaned from Mr Vikki’s recipe. The result was extremely pleasing and received my husbands royal approval. However, as we all know Pork Pies are highly calorific, but a little bit of ‘naughty but nice‘ doesn’t hurt once in a while. Just be sure you have some friends round to eat them with you, with a cold beer or cider on hand, because they are at their best when they are still a little warm, crumbly and extremely moreish.

Pork Pies with Chilli

Prep 30 mins

Cooking 45 mins (Gas mark 6 for 10 mins and then gas mark 4 for 35mins)

(makes 9 – 3″ x 1″depth pies)

Equipment – Muffin Tin, greaseproof paper and food processor


For the Pastry

75g (2.6oz) Unsalted Butter

75g Lard

300g (10.5oz) Plain Flour

135ml of water

1/4 tsp of salt

pinch of cayenne

For the Filling

400g (14.1 oz)  Minced Pork (lean)

150g (5.2oz) smoked lardons or baon

1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper

salt to taste

Chilli jam (1 x tsp per pie) in my recipe I used Veeraswamy Lime Chilli Chutney from Waitrose as I couldn’t find any Chilli jam at the time.


Tip – use a food processor to make the pastry and mix the filling

1. Grease a Muffin tin and just to be sure the pies don not stick line each ring with greaseproof paper.

2. Put the water on to boil and add to it the lard.

3. Mix the flour, cayenne and butter in the food processor. Turn on until the mixture is a consistency of fine bread crumbs.

4. Once the lard has melted turn the heat off under the water and then slowly pour the liquid into the processor and mix with the flour. Do this a little at a time and check that the pastry does not get too sloppy. (I had a little water left over when I made my pies).

5. Once the pastry has come together, remove from the processor and knead gently on a floured surface for just a few seconds and then place in a bowl to once side to rest and to allow th pastry to come to room temperature.

6. Mix the pork mince the lardons, cayenne pepper and seasoning in the food processor and set to one side.

7. Take 2/3 of the pastry and roll out thinly and then cut out approximately 5″ circles from the pastry. Place each circle in a muffin slot in the tin, ensuring that not air is trapped and the pastry over hangs the top edge. If you have to re-roll the pastry to ensure you have enough circles only re-roll the pastry once as it will become too dry and crack.

8. Once the pastry is in position in the muffin tin, spoon a dessert spoon of pork filling into each pie (this should fill the pie up to no more than half way)

9. Add a small teaspoon of Chilli Jam on top of the pork in each pie case, then fill to the top with the rest of the pork filling.

10. Roll the final 1/3 of the pastry and cut out a lid for each pie (make sure the lid is a little wider than the actual width of the pie) and don’t forget to make a couple of slits or a hole in the pastry lid to let the steam out whilst cooking.

11. Brush a little drop of water round the top of the pastry cases and then place on the lid. Squeeze the lid round the edge and decorate by crimping. I simply used a back of a fork.

12. Brush the pies with egg wash before placing them in the oven, 10 mins at gas mark 6 and then turn down to gas mark 4 for 35 minutes.

Scrambled Egg with Avocado

Scrambled Egg adn Avocado

Scrambled Egg with Avocado

I’ve recently subscribed to a new app on my iPhone which is another great idea to promote healthy living from Jamie Oliver. The YOU-app is about making simple micro-actions each day to create a better you, in order to live a happy, healthy life. I know we all try to do this but sometimes our best intentions don’t always happen. The YOU-app gives you one micro-action each day which you complete by taking a picture. So for example my action for today was to ‘Pimp my Breakfast’.  I have been aware of the health benefits of eating avocados for quite some time and have been thinking about ways to incorporate this fruit into my diet, so today was the day to try something new. Originally I was simply going to slice a boiled egg and the avocado on toast but after a quick search I came across the website thekitchn.com which listed 10 Ways to Eat and Avocado for Breakfast. However, it was the suggestion to use the avocado with scrambled eggs which caught my eye and I was intrigued to find out whether these two ingredients would work together. I started to prepare the breakfast and immediately my hubby asked what I was making and no surprise  he wanted in on the experiment. The result was eye-opening and absolutely delicious (we both agreed). The the combination of the avocado with the scrambled eggs made the dish even creamier and if you are an egg lover I recommend you give this a try. I wondered if Jamie Oliver would agree that I had managed to ‘Pimp my Breakfast’, so just to be sure I decided to add just a few dashes of Tabasco to my eggs to give a little kick to whole dish and my metabolism. A great start to the day, so thank you very much to Jamie Oliver for the inspiration.

Scrambled Egg with Avocado (Tabasco optional)

Prep – 5mins Cooking 3-5mins I


2 Eggs (I used Old Cotswold Legbar from Waitrose)

1 tbsp Semi-skimmed Milk

1 medium Avocado

1 – 2 slices of Granary bread

Salt and pepper

Tomatoes and cucumber to garnish Tabasco (optional)

Method Beat the eggs and milk and then add to a pan over a low heat. Prepare a simple salad garnish and pop the bread in to toast. When the eggs are barely set, and still soft, scoop out the avocado in small junks and add straight to the pan with the eggs. Stir in, gently cooking until warmed through. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately! If you are feeling daring and understand the health benefits of spicy kick, then add a few drops of Tabasco before tucking in!

Spring Tasting at Trencherman’s of Dorset April 2015

imageI’ve been visiting Trencherman’s of Dorset for many years and have always come away with something delicious to eat or cook. Their wine selection is also an important part of their business and they are one of the larger independent wine merchants in the area. They buy the majority of the wines direct from small producers, so their wines are very competitive.

So when the opportunity arose to attend one of their famous Tasting Events my husband and I couldn’t resist popping along with a couple of friends. These events are always a sociable occasion and Steve Goodden, Ethne Waltham and the team are always on hand to welcome you and offer advice on anything, from stocking wine cellars to planning parties.

The evening didn’t disappoint, as we were delighted to discover a delicious array of food and wine to tickle our taste buds. We worked our way through the food tasting area, and tasted sumptuous Spanish Gordal Green Olives flavoured with extra virgin olive oil, fleur de sel and freshly ground pepper. All I needed was a glass of Rosé, and I could really begin to imagine myself sitting under the Mediterranean sunshine….bliss! We then moved on to try delicious Normandy Ham, Salted Bacalao mixed with potato, garlic, oil and cream served as a canapé on toast and a surprisingly light and fluffy Spanish Pork Scratching. We also discovered a new Toast for Cheese biscuit produced by the The Fine Cheese Company in Bath. This toast biscuit was flavoured with apricots, pistachios and sunflower seeds and was absolute heaven when accompanied with delicious melting Brie.

Equally the wine selection did not disappoint. Vin Mousseux Pierre de Chanvigné Rosé Brut Excellence, was not only wonderfully fragrant, dry and crisp but it is a fine mousse at a great price. We shall definitely be ordering a case for the summer evenings.

The wine selection was plentiful but my favourite white for price and taste was Château la Bastide Corbieres blanc. Favourite reds included the lovely smooth and rounded Passitivo di Puglia, the tremendous Beaujolais from Laurent Guillet which was packed with cherries and finally the Miguel Merino Rioja Reserve 2005. This wine is rich, complex and has a long finish; a wine to be savoured rather than quaffed!

A quick meander around the shop resulted in a small haul of goodies including Pigeon Breasts, Spanish Pork Scratchings, a packet of ‘Toast for Cheese’ and a large slab of Brie. My pal bought delicious duck breasts and some scrummy chocolate bites to have with coffee when she got home. My husband and I opted for a more indulgent repaste and opened a bottle of red on our arrival back at base to accompany the Brie and Toast I had purchased which was a fitting end to an extremely enjoyable evening.

Well done to all at Trencherman’s of Dorset

Next Event – Summer Wine Tasting, Saturday 4th & Sunday 5th July. Check their website for details. http://www.trenchermans.com

Confit of Duck with Oranges and Pomegranate Dressing


Confit of Duck with Oranges and Pomegranate Dressing

This recipe was inspired by a starter dish I tasted at The Green Restaurant in Sherborne, Dorset. I didn’t really have a recipe I just based my idea on their design and flavour of the dish. However I did base the confit of duck on a recipe I found on the Gressingham Duck website

Confit of duck with oranges and pomegranate dressing (serves 6)

        Prep – 20 mins 

        Cooking 3h 30mins

        Gas mark 1/2, 125C, 105C (Fan)


        4 Duck legs

        800g – 1kg Duck or Goose fat (or 4 x 200g jars)

        6 tbsp Coarse Rock Salt

        Few sprigs Rosemary & Thyme (or dried)

        1 garlic bulb, cloves separated, skins on and  flattened with a knife

        1 tsp of whole black peppercorns

        Zest of orange

       2 Bay Leaves


       1 pomegranate

       1 – 2 tsp of Redcurrant or Cranberry jelly

       Orange Sauce 

       1 Orange (squeezed)

       Drop of olive oil to taste

       1 tbsp runny honey

       salt and pepper to taste


       2 Medium sized oranges

       2 Ruby oranges

       Pea shoots or lambs lettuce leaves


1. I suggest you start the confit the day before or at least 12 hours in advance of cooking.

2. In a baking tray/dish scatter a 1/4 of the salt in the base which is deep enough to hold 4 legs. the duck legs should be placed skin side down and then the rest of the salt, herbs and peppercorns can be added. Finally grate some orange zest over the duck legs.

3. Cover and place in the fridge until you are ready to cook.

4. (On the day)  Pre-heat your oven to the required temperature (Gas mark 1/2 etc)

5. In a large casserole dish or saucepan melt your duck or goose fat on a very low heat. Once the fat is melted place your duck legs into the fat ensuring the fat covers the duck legs and bring to a gentle simmer.

6. Place the lid on the casserole dish and put in the oven. Cook for 2 1/2 hours until tender. At the end of the cooking time the meat should be very tender, but test this with a skewer. If the skewer goes through the meat easily it is cooked if it doesn’t leave it in the oven for up to another 30 mins.

7. Whilst the duck is cooking prepare the oranges. Peel the Ruby and regular oranges using a sharp knife. Once the oranges are without their peel, slice the ruby oranges to create discs (see photo) and remove the orange segments from their skins. If you are unsure of this technique check out this YouTube clip How to segment an orange, by FineCooking.com. Once the oranges are prepared cover in a container and place in the fridge until required.

8. You can now prepare the pomegranate and orange dressings. For the pomegranate dressing remove all the seeds from one pomegranate and place in a sieve. Collect the just into a small pan and add a very small teaspoon of redcurrant jelly or cranberry sauce. Heat over a low light until bubbling and simmer until the sauce thickens slightly. This will produce no more than 1-2 tablespoons on dressing which I then pour into a plastic sauce bottle until later. You could leave in a cup at room temperature if you do not have a sauce bottle.

9. For the orange dressing squeeze the juice of one orange into  a pan and add a drop of olive oil and a squeeze of honey. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper and heat gently. Once the sauce thickens slightly pour into your second plastic sauce bottle or another cup and set aside until required.

10. When the meat is ready leave to cool for 10mins and then take the duck legs out of the fat.

11. Shred the duck legs into a container and store until you are ready to assemble your starter.

12. When you are ready to assemble your starter place a mould ring on the centre of your plate and fill the round with the shredded duck. Then place three orange segments and the ruby orange on the plate. Finally add the drops of both the pomegranate sauce and the orange sauce around the duck stack and top with pea shoots or some equivalent decoration.


Sea Bass with Spring Greens and Champagne Cream Sauce


Sea Bass with spring greens and Champagne cream sauce

This dish is based on Fred Forster’s recipe for Sea Bass and Champagne Sauce. Fred is Head Chef at the Boundary Restaurant in Shoreditch, London. The main tweak that I made was that I added brown shrimps. The preparation took time, but the cooking and plating of the food at the end was quite frenetic. However, the taste and approval from my guests made it extremely worthwhile.

Sea Bass with spring greens and Champagne cream sauce (serves 6)

Prep – 20 mins

Cooking – 30 mins


6 fillets of Sea Bass (although I used two small fillets per person as I couldn’t find very thick pieces)

Vegetable oil

Olive Oil

Salt and pepper


400g Asparagus tips (2 packets)

12 baby leeks

2.5kg New Potatoes

230g bag of Spinach


1 shallot

250ml White Wine (dry)

300ml of double cream

1 pint of vegetable or fish stock

175ml  Champagne

90g pot of brown shrimps

50g jar of lumpfish caviar


1. Clean and pat dry the Sea Bass and store in the fridge until ready to cook.

2. Clean and slice the new potatoes in half (lengthways) and place in slated water. Bring to the boil and cook for 15 mins or until soft. set aside until required.

3. Clean and prepare the asparagus tips and baby leeks and blanch for 3-4 minutes. Cool down immediately in iced water, remove and set aside until required.

4. Finely chop 1 x shallot and simmer in 250ml of white wine. Bubble and reduce the liquid to half and then add the double cream and reduce to half again, then strain the liquid through a sieve and cook for a further 10 minutes until thickened. Pour in the champagne and then set aside until you are ready to serve.

5. Put your vegetable or fish stock (I used a combination of both in my recipe – I bought the fish stock but made my own vegetable stock) on to simmer as this will be used to reheat your new potatoes and sling greens. Set a large wok or casserole dish on the hob ready to hold and reheat your vegetables.

6.. Place 1-2 frying pans on your hob and add a drop of vegetable and olive oil. When the oil is smoking, hold your fish skin side down in the oil to ensure it is crispy and browned (2-3mins). Flip the fish over for no more than a minute and then place the fish skin side down in the oven for 1 minute and then remove to rest. Ensure your pans are non stick or the skin will come off.

7. Place the required amount of new potatoes and spring greens in the wok and ladle over 1 -2 ladle spoons of stock and reheat. Add a knob of butter towards the end and taste for seasoning.

8. Reheat the sauce gently and add the brown shrimps. Taste and season as required.

9..At the same time heat a knob of butter in a pan, season and cook until wilted.

10. Ensure your serving plates/dishes are warm. Place the sea bass (skin side up)on a portion of spinach and then place the vegetables and potatoes around the fish. Drizzle the cream sauce over the vegetables and finally add a small spoonful of caviar on top of the fish.

Rhubarb and Ginger Dessert


Rhubarb and Ginger Dessert

When something is in season I always think I should make the most of the opportunity. I recently spotted a display of delicious looking rhubarb in my local shop and I knew I had in mind a recipe I wanted to try. Only a few nights ago I watched an old episode of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall cooking with fruit and he inspired me with the various combinations of fruit, creams, custards and toppings. So with this in mind I decided to experiment and make my own variation on this theme. The result is delicious and has been a hit with both family and friends and I imagine it will be a favourite recipe for many years to come.

Rhubarb and Ginger Dessert

Prep 15 mins

Cooking 15mins


600g Rhubarb

1 tbsp water

2oz castor sugar (sweeten to your own taste)

2 Star Anise

1 Cinnamon stick

Creme fraiche (large tub)


6-8 Ginger Nut biscuits

1 ox butter

Crystallised ginger


  1. Wash, clean and chop the rhubarb into 2-3 inch pieces.
  2. Place the rhubarb in a pan and add the water, sugar, star anise and cinnamon stick. Cover and cook over a low heat for 10 mins, but check after 5 mins to see how the rhubarb is softening. The aim is to ensure the rhubarb is soft but is still holding its shape.
  3. Whilst the rhubarb is cooking place the butter in a pan to melt and then crush the  ginger nuts in a plastic bag with a rolling-pin. The ginger nuts should resemble crumbs. Add the butter to the biscuits but ensure the crumbs stay loose. Chop pieces of crystallised ginger and add to the crumb mixture. Set aside and cool in the fridge.
  4. When the rhubarb is cooked, check the sweetness and add more sugar if required. Remove the Star Anise and Cinnamon stick and place the rhubarb in the bottom of 6 glasses or dessert dishes. Or if you are preparing this ahead keep in a container in the fridge until required.
  5. Spoon two 2-3 dessert spoons of creme fraiche over the rhubarb.
  6. Sprinkle the ginger crumb topping over the creme fraiche and serve.

Let the journey begin

Well, after many years of procrastinating I have at last  begun my food blogging journey and I am really excited to finally have a creative outlet I can share with others. I hope that this venture will enable me to develop my culinary expertise, photography and writing skills. I’m sure I will make mistakes along the way, but ultimately I will have the pleasure of learning even more about cooking as I travel through taste.