Dried Herbs

Having moved to our wonderful new home in March of this year, I haven’t been trying out many new recipes lately but sticking to my tried and trusted favourites. We are having such an exciting time sorting everything out and my collection of “must try” recipes is getting bigger and bigger by the week.

We are very lucky to have four raised beds down one side of our garden (south facing as well) and I was determined to get my herbs under way as soon as the undergrowth was removed. I don’t think there is anything nicer than using fresh herbs from your own garden and when they grow in abundance, then is the time to dry them.

I love having a walk-in larder now and it is the perfect place to dry herbs.  An old extending curtain rail was a perfect fit for one end of the room.

So far, I have dried mint, sage and parsley and they easily crumble into the large cup of a Nutribullet and a very quick burst breaks them down.  I’ve been saving my glass jars for just this purpose.

It’s been a wonderful summer for herbs and I have masses of coriander, fennel, basil, thyme and rosemary growing away as well as the mint, sage and parsley.  My coriander has done so well that I am leaving some flowering so that I can collect the seeds.   Perhaps it is the dry summer, or maybe it is where I am living now, but my basil is doing exceptionally well and I haven’t yet seen a slug.  Back on the mainland I had to grow basil in hanging baskets and even then the snails and slugs managed to reach it.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Plum Almond Honey Torte

I bought a punnet of plums intending to make a plum crumble but the very same evening I spotted this recipe from Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures (adapted from Erin Scott Yummy Supper Cookbook) and decided straight away that I just had to try out this Torte as it looked so tasty.

With so few ingredients, and easy to make, this Torte looked and tasted absolutely delicious.  I used a loose-bottomed 8″ tin rather than a spring-form cake tin and the torte slipped out perfectly.  The difficult part was leaving it to cool enough to try a slice.

The following evening, my grand-daughter, who is one of our main testers, announced that it was one of her favourite desserts.   At just 8 years old (8 years and 1 day to be exact) she happily tries anything I put in front of her attempting to list the ingredients I have used, and she is getting very clever at picking out the correct ones.

This is a decidedly rich dessert with the combination of almond, butter and eggs so it would probably serve 12 people.


165g salted butter plus a pinch of salt
330g ground almonds
180mls honey
3 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla essence (or almond extract for a frangipane taste)
3 plums, sliced


Line the bottom of a loose-bottomed 8” or 9” cake tin with parchment paper and grease the sides.

Melt the butter in a saucepan until it starts to go golden brown.   For a deeper taste, leave to go further as in a beurre noisette.

Leave to cool for a few minutes before adding the honey and stirring until well mixed.

Allow to cool further before adding the egg yolks and vanilla, stirring very well until combined.

Add the ground almonds, pinch of salt and mix well until it forms a thick paste.   Spoon this mixture into the prepared cake tin, smoothing the top with the back of a spoon or your fingers.

Arrange the plum slices decoratively on the top and pop the tin in the freezer for 30 minutes.   This stops the butter melting before the rest of the cake cooks.

Bake for approximately 30 minutes at 150°C until the edges have cooked and the top lightly browned.  This can be finished off under the grill if the centre is taking longer than the edges.

Remove from the oven and when completely cooled, from the cake tin.  Chill but remove from the fridge about 30 minutes before you are ready to eat it.  Slice into portions with a sharp knife.

Plum Almond Honey Torte

This torte keeps for a few days in the fridge.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Chicken Chow Mein

I absolutely love this recipe as it can be adapted to use up almost any vegetable in the kitchen: instead of using bok choy, sugar snap peas could be used or green beans, cabbage, spinach or broccoli. Prawns instead of chicken. Make it a little more ‘tangy’ by adding some crushed chilli flakes or a little more Sriracha. The noodles could be fresh or dried – egg or ramen or even spiralized vegetables. The list is endless.

This is a quick 20 minute recipe which can be cooked in just one pan. Leftovers will keep perfectly in the fridge and will quickly stir-fry for another meal.

Cooking the chicken thighs underneath the weight of a large pan stops them spitting, but also produces the wonderful crispy skin which adds so much to the flavour.



Vegetables cut ready for use

250g fresh rice noodles (or noodles of choice)
1 cup bean sprouts
2 boneless skin-on chicken thighs
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 cup shredded bok choy (or mixed cabbage)
½ cup carrot matchsticks
1 green pepper, cut into thin slices
Bunch of Spring onions, cut into thin lengths
Sea salt and pepper to taste
Toasted sesame seeds


2 tablespoons oyster sauce (gluten free)
3 tablespoons tamari
1 teaspoon honey
1 tablespoon arrowroot
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice wine
Good pinch of ground black pepper
2 teaspoons Sriracha


Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large wok or fry pan and place the chicken thighs, skin side down in the pan. Cover with a sheet of baking parchment and rest a heavy saucepan on top of them. Leave on a medium/high heat for three to four minutes or until the skin is browned and crispy. Turn over and continue cooking until done. Remove from pan;  allow to sit for a few minutes then cut into slices with a sharp knife.   Leave to one side.

Make the sauce by whisking all the ingredients together.   If the sauce seems a little thick, add a dash of water.

Add the chopped garlic and grated ginger to the fat in the pan and saute for about 1 minute.  Add the bok choy, carrot sticks, green pepper and onions and cook, tossing frequently, for 1 to 2 minutes until lightly cooked but still crispy.  Season then add the noodles and beansprouts and toss well.  Pour the sauce over the vegetables and add the chicken. Toss well for another minute until heated through and the sauce is mixed in well.

Pile into bowls and top with toasted sesame seeds.

Delicious Chicken Chow Mein

Ring the changes with shredded beef, prawns or meat of choice.   Make this a vegetarian meal by using just vegetables.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Broccoli Rice

I read an interesting article in the newspaper earlier this week about broccoli and the healthiest way to eat it.  As I had a large head of broccoli in my fridge I decided to experiment with it as I was cooking Sticky Salmon for our meal in the evening and instead of making Coconut Rice as was usual, I used the broccoli, a small wedge of red cabbage which happened to be left-over, some onions, garlic and a handful of flaked almonds.

The result was absolutely delicious and so tasty.  The rice was full of flavours and perfectly complimented the sticky, spicy salmon.  The cabbage was still a little crispy and there were a few slightly crunchy pieces of broccoli which I hadn’t chopped as small, but the taste of broccoli shone through and really lifted the rice.  This dish will most definitely be made again, and quite soon.

Chopped broccoli and red cabbage

Chopping broccoli into 2mm pieces and letting them ‘sit’ for 90 minutes before gently stir-frying increases their sulforaphane levels by 2.8 times, research suggests.   Previous studies show the compound sulforaphane helps to maintain people’s blood sugar levels and may even have anti-cancer properties.   Although unclear exactly why this occurs, researchers from Zhejiang University in China believe waiting before cooking chopped broccoli may allow sulforaphane to ‘develop’.    They add 30 minutes of sitting time may be sufficient.    It is important to chop broccoli as sulforaphane can only be absorbed if the vegetable is ‘damaged’. 

Full article in the Daily Mail

INGREDIENTS: to serve 2 to 4
2 onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Handful of flaked almonds
Large head of Broccoli, finely chopped
¼ wedge of red cabbage, finely sliced
Cooked Basmati Rice
Olive oil or coconut oil (or oil of choice)


Leave the finely chopped Broccoli to sit for about 90 minutes.

Heat a little oil in a large wok and add the onions and garlic. Stir fry over a high heat tossing them continuously until translucent and starting to brown.

Add a handful of flaked almonds together with the broccoli and red cabbage. Stir fry quickly, tossing to make sure the almonds don’t burn.  Cook for about 1 minute.


Add the cooked rice and mix well, tossing until the rice is heated through.

Serve with Sticky Salmon and a little of the left-over marinade which can be heated in a saucepan, simmered until thick.

Broccoli Fried Rice

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Been quiet for a while…….

I’ve definitely been quiet for a while now and have posted very few recipes on my blog.

Last August, we made the decision to move permanently from the mainland to our beloved Isle of Wight and we put things in motion to sell our home in Camberley.

Strangely enough, the first consideration was our tortoise, Tolly. He is almost my age (rising 70) and hibernates underground every year, emerging late February bleary eyed to welcome a new Spring.    I’ve had him for over 40 years so he really is a member of our family.  Our problem was that if he started to hibernate early, we would never find him as he goes so deep that we cannot dig him out. This was solved almost immediately when we realised two of our friends already had 22 tortoises and they would never notice one more!   Tolly must have thought he had died and gone to heaven when he arrived at his new home late August. He straight away shoved all the males out of the way and had his way with most of the ladies. We won’t need to worry about him having to hibernate in a large wooden crate as I think he will sleep his way through winter.

Tolly meeting some of his new friends

They say moving house is one of the top stressors of all time so we decided to try and reduce this a bit by selling our house in Camberley and moving into our friend’s “shed” before trying to find a new home!   It really is called The Shed but it is so warm and comfortable and snug that it is great.  Not only does it have beautiful views, but a lovely log burner to keep us warm on cold days.

View from our “Shed”


Mishka and Joseph

Our two cats settled in immediately and straight away told the resident 4 cats (through the windows) that the shed was ‘theirs’ and totally off limits for the duration of their stay. To see this huge black cat called Freddy backing away from the window whilst my tiny little fur ball Mishka stands with her front feet on the glass is quite hilarious.


Unfortunately with the majority of my furniture in storage, I have a very limited range of cooking utensils, pots and pans so I’m keeping my cooking to tried and trusted favourite meals and delicious salads. I did manage to cook an enormous Ham at Christmas with the most delicious glaze of cranberry and orange but it took over an hour to come to a simmer! Tasted great though once boiled and roasted and didn’t last long when shared with friends.

We are in the process of buying a beautiful new home just five miles from where we are staying and only ten minutes walk from a little village and sandy beach. Unfortunately the process of buying or selling a property in this country always seems to take forever but we hope to be moved in for Spring.   Our new home has a walled garden and has raised beds which will be ideal for my new collection of fresh herbs.  I can’t wait.

I have so many recipes waiting to be tried out; five new cookbooks all of which look amazing and I hope to be back up and cooking new things in the not too distant future and sharing them with all of you.



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Sardine Bread (Omega Paleo Bread)

I was amazed when I saw the recipe for this bread which included a tin of sardines.  Sardines are one of the highest sources of essential omega-3 fatty acids and even if you don’t like sardines, this bread really does go down a treat and I can’t wait to try it out on my grandkids when they next come up.

I served it with sliced mozzarella and baby tomatoes and my husband loved it.  It’s moist, tasty and makes a really lovely lunch or snack.  It’s also perfect for serving with a bowlful of soup.

I have to thank Assunta of Nourishing Lola and Sage for inventing this delicious bread for her two little girls, and for sharing the recipe.

6 eggs
106g can Sardines in Olive oil (my can was 120g so I drained a little oil off)
2 tablespoons ghee or softened butter
¾ cup Tapioca starch (flour)
¼ cup Psyllium husk
½ teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons mixed dried herbs
1 tablespoon chia seeds
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar


Line a bread tin with parchment.  The base of mine was 20cm x 9cm and this was perfect.

In a food processor, blitz the eggs, sardines (with oil) and butter or ghee until well combined.

Add the dry ingredients plus the apple cider vinegar and mix until well incorporated.

Pour into the lined baking tin and bake at 180°C for approximately 35 minutes or until cooked through.   Leave the bread, covered with a clean tea towel, to sit for about 30 minutes before turning out and slicing.

Lovely moist Omega Bread

Serve with tomato and mozzarella, avocado or your favourite choice of savoury topping.

Topped with tomato and mozzarella

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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Traditional Christmas Cake (Gluten-Free)

My husband does really well on his gluten-free diet and doesn’t stray as he has learned from experience of just how dire the consequences are.  Anyone who has a gluten intolerance will understand this.  One small slip can lead to a week of great discomfort and pain.

Just occasionally, however, at times like Christmas, he really does miss the traditional fare and a couple of years ago he attended two functions with buffet food where there was not a single item he could eat.   I now always send him with a supply of Christmas goodies which are gluten and refined sugar free.

Last year, I managed to find a recipe for some delicious mince pies, a Christmas Mince Slab Pie and a fantastic one for a Christmas Pudding which made his day.

I was so pleased therefore when I spotted this Traditional Christmas Cake recipe from Ceri Jones and the same evening, I had the fruit soaking ready for baking the next day.

This amazing cake is made from all natural ingredients and is gluten-free as it uses ground almonds and buckwheat flour; uses molasses and unrefined sugar and is truly decadent.
Many thanks to Ceri Jones of Natural Kitchen Adventures for sharing this superb recipe. The only alteration I made was that I used brandy instead of amaretto; everything else I had in the store cupboard and fruit bowl.

450g currants
175g sultanas
175g raisins
50g dried cranberries (make sure they are not sweetened)
50g dried apricots, diced
100mls amaretto (I used brandy)
100g ground almonds
100g buckwheat flour
25g tapioca flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon ground mixed spice
175g coconut palm sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon molasses, warmed
225g unsalted butter
50g chopped almonds
Zest of 1 orange and 1 lemon
To top the cake:
50g whole blanched almonds

Place the dried fruit in a large bowl and pour over the brandy.  Mix well and cover with either cling film or a tea towel and leave overnight.

Line the base and sides of a 20cm cake tin with baking parchment.

Easy way to line a baking tin

Preheat oven to 140°C

Sift the flours, spices and salt together then add the eggs, warmed molasses and butter. Beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Fold in the dried fruit mixture, chopped nuts and grated orange and lemon zest.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared cake tin; smooth the top and decorate with the whole blanched almonds.

Cut out a circle of parchment with a small hole in the middle (about the size of a 50p piece) and place this over the top of the cake.

Bake in the oven (lowest shelf) for 4 hours. The cake will be done when it feels springy to touch.   Cool in the tin for 30 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack. Cool fully before covering and storing.

NB:  All photographs used in this blog have been taken by me, and are of food I have prepared and served myself.

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