Tag Archives: Side Dishes

Hasselback Potatoes

We eat lots of jacket potatoes at home. Mainly because we are lazy and they can just be microwaved in 10 minutes and then instantly topped with something. But when we have time, an oven-baked potato is utterly scrumptious! I don’t think you can beat it. And it’s still minimal effort.

Hasselback potatoes are for when you have the energy to make a little bit of effort over your jacket! It’s actually how the Swedish bake their potatoes – each spud is sliced many times right along the length of the potato but only ¾ of the way through it until you end up with a kind of fanned potato. It’s then smothered in hot oil and topped with butter before baking to get lots of crispy edges.

I thought I’d see how it would work with a Sweet Potato as well, and the result was yum-my! So here you are – hassle-free hasselback potatoes. Spud-you-like!

Hasselback Potato with Lemon and Coriander Hummus
Serves 1

For the potato:
– 1 large King Edward/Baking Potato
– 50g salted butter
– 2 tbsps olive oil

For the lemon and coriander Hummus:
– 1 can of chickpeas, drained
– 30g fresh coriander
– Zest of 2 and juice of 1½ lemons
– 6 tbsps extra virgin olive oil
– 3 tbsps tahini
– Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 220°/Gas Mark 7. Drizzle 2 tbsps of olive oil and put 20g of the butter on a baking tray and place in the oven.

2. Place the potato on a wooden spoon before you start slicing, this will avoid you cutting through the whole potato. Now start slicing the potato right along the length of it but only cut ¾ of the way through it. Make slices about 3-5mm apart – so very thin slices!

3. Now carefully take the baking tray out of the oven and coat the potato all over in the hot butter and oil. Then place the potato slice side up, top with the remaining butter and a good pinch of sea salt and bake for 1 hour. Baste the potato every 15 minutes while it is cooking.

4. In the meantime, you can make the hummus which is also hassle free! Place all of the ingredients into a food processor and just give it a good whizz and it’s done! You might like to add the olive oil, lemon and tahini in stages until you get a hummus that tastes delicious to you! Season to taste too.

5. When the potato is done, take it out of the oven and let it cool before dolloping the hummus all over it. Dribble.

Hasselback Sweet Potato with Lemongrass Crème Fraîche
(Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty)
Serves 1

For the Potato: 
– 1 large, long Sweet Potato
– 50g salted butter
– 2 tbsps olive oil

For the Lemongrass Crème Fraîche
– ½ lemongrass stalk
– 200g Crème Fraîche
– Grated zest and juice of 2 limes
– 50g root ginger, peeled and grated
– ½ tsp sea salt
– Few coriander leaves

1. Prepare and cook your potato in exactly the same way as above and for the Crème Fraîche topping simply chop the lemongrass finely and mix well with the rest of the ingredients. Sprinkle with a few chopped coridander leaves before serving.




Filed under Recipes


I’ve seen Tabouleh on a lot of menus, but I’ve never made it. I don’t think I’ve ever tried it. I felt like I had to do something about this. I’m weird like that. So here is how I went about making it.

Tabouleh is a Middle Eastern grain salad and making it is really an assembly job. Anyone can do it. Apart from Mr B who can’t chop/use a knife. But besides him, anyone!

I served it as a starter (the main was a Middle Eastern lamb burger. Recipe online here if interested) but Tabouleh also works well as a buffet or lunch dish.

Making Tabouleh also seems to be a serious stuff. There’s a World Record for the largest that weighed in at 4,324 kg (9,532 lb 12 oz). Before that the previous record was held for a 2,559 kg (5,641 lb 6 oz) dish. My recipe here will feed just 6. I’m hoping that will be sufficient for most people!

Serves 6

– 200g bulgur wheat
– 6 spring onions, finely chopped
– 6 tomatoes, diced
– ½ cucumber peeled, deseeded and diced
– 2 bunches of flat leaf parsley, chopped very finely
– 2 bunches of mint, chopped very finely
– 8 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
– Juice of a lemon
– Salt
– Freshly ground black pepper

To serve:
– Mini pitta breads, warmed through

1. Put the bulgur wheat in a bowl and cover with boiling water from the kettle. Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for 30 minutes.

2. Chop all of the vegetables and herbs and place in a bowl. When the bulgur wheat is ready drain it and squeeze it a little to get rid of any excess water. Add it to the vegetables.

3. Give everything a good mix before adding the olive oil and lemon juice. Taste the Tabouleh and add more oil or lemon juice depending on your preference. All that’s left to do now is to give everything a really good season and a final taste.

4. Tabouleh is served cold so just pop this in the fridge until you’re ready to serve. Simples!


Filed under Recipes

Stuffed Mushrooms

Love mushrooms, love cheese, love this! These little stuffed mushrooms go well with steak or chicken and are equally delicious just on their own as a starter.

Dolcelatte cheese is used to stuff these mushrooms; it’s lovely and creamy and packs just the right amount of punch. Dolcelatte was actually made up for the British market as a sweeter tasting and milder smelling alternative to Gorgonzola. There you go, a cheesy fact for the day!

Mushrooms stuffed with Dolcelatte
Serves 2

– 4 Portabella mushrooms
– Olive oil
– 75g Dolcelatte
– 25g breadcrumbs
– Small handful of spinach, chopped very finely
– Extra virgin olive oil
– 20g Parmesan

To serve:
– Handful of rocket
– Drizzle of extra virgin olive oil

1. Preheat your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Destalk the mushrooms and brush them lightly all over with olive oil.

2. In a bowl combine the Dolcelatte, breadcrumbs and spinach. Use a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to make a paste.

3. Stuff the mushrooms with the mixture before topping with a fine grating of Parmesan. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes and they’re done! Serve with some rocket and another drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.


Filed under Recipes

Tried and Tasted: Canapé 101

As part of my life long mission to become hostess with the mostess I am throwing a couple of parties over Christmas. In collecting my canapé recipes, I thought I’d share what I’ve already tried, tasted and bookmarked along with a few tips.

Canapé Do’s
– Pass them around. You’ve made them so don’t leave them sitting in the corner!
– Use labels or tell friends what each canapé is as you’re passing them around. People get surprisingly polite once you start serving posh snackettes and don’t just throw anything into their gobs like they do usually!
– Have a mix of meaty, fishy and veggie canapés. Something bready also goes down well along with one or two dips. Carrot/celery sticks or homemade vegetable chips (parsnips, sweet potato and beetroot) make good dippers. You can also serve dips in hollowed out peppers (less washing up and looks fab!).
– Offer friends a napkin! This means less hung-over hoovering the next day.

Canapé Don’t’s
– Eat them all before your guests arrive.

I think that’s it! So here’s my pick of the web for canapé recipes (some tried and tasted, some waiting to be), along with a couple of recipes of my own.


Chorizo, Manchego and Quince Cocktail Bites pictured above. I’ve made these for a while now, and they go down really well. Buy Delicias Dona Natalia Quince Paste from the Waitrose deli counter – it keeps it’s shape well and is of good-quality. Make plenty.

Mini Yorkshire Puddings with Rare Beef and Horseradish and Mustard Crème Fraiche Sauce men love these. Meat and Yorkshire puddings, I don’t think they’ve ever wanted anything more.

Parma Ham, Mozzarella, Pesto and Fig Parcels these are really easy to make and have a great flavour. Take a slice of the ham and place a quarter of a fig, a pea size blob of pesto and a mozzarella pearl at one end. Wrap up into a little parcel and secure with a cocktail stick or a sprig of rosemary if needed. As Gordon would say DONE.


Smoked Salmon and Cream Cheese Blinis with Dill just take a blini or make your own and pile a square of smoked salmon, blob of cream cheese and a sprinkle of dill on top. If you’re feeling flash then whack some caviar on there too. Serve with a wedge of lemon on the side. Simples.

Prawns with Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce marinate prawns in garlic infused oil for a couple of hours in the fridge before frying them and serving with some sweet chilli dipping sauce. Mix 100ml of water will 60g of sugar and 4 tablespoons of rice vinegar in a pan on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved at which point just turn up the heat and boil for a few minutes before mixing in a couple of chopped red chillies, a couple of tablespoons crushed, roasted peanuts and 30g each of thinly sliced cucumbers and shallots.

Thai Fish Cakes these Rick Stein ones are really easy to make and are full of flavour.

Baked New Potato and Smoked Salmon with Dill Cream this is from The Six Senses cookbook, details on where to purchase can be found on this previous post. Roast new potatoes in a 180 degree oven for 30 minutes and when cool, cut off the tops and then concertina a strip of smoked salmon on top and secure with a skewer. For a dill cream dip on the side, mix together 200mls of whipping cream with 5tsp lime juice, 8 dill sprigs, 2 chopped spring onions and a tsp of salt.


Aubergine Dip when you’re making this yummy dip, make sure you pierce the aubergine well. I once opened the oven and an aubergine exploded in my face.

Hummus I remember serving hummus to my Granddad once. I explained to him what hummus was but then had to tell him what a chickpea was too! Serve with strips of pitta bread or veggie dippers.

Walnut, Watercress and Ricotta Pesto a yummy, chunky pesto which you can also use as a pasta sauce.


Goat’s Cheese Truffles I haven’t made these yet, but a ball of goat’s cheese in various coatings sounds good to me. I’ll tweet a finished picture.

Red Onion and Brie Tartlettes these look Christmassy and taste delicious too! 

Courgette Polpette really easy to make – Hugh even roped in his young son to make these on TV so I might even delegate this task to Mr. B. Then again…

Fried Halloumi and Chilli Bites speedy and cheesy, make lots as they’re popular too.

Arancini Mafioso guests LOVE these ;-)

Peppadew Peppers – so many things you can do with these. Stuff them with cheese and/or olives!


Two ideas for homemade or bought puff pastry – Prosciutto Dijon Gruyere Puffs and/or Sun Dried Tomato and Rosemary Palmiers you can create your own flavours by following one of these basic recipes. You could try prosciutto or Parma ham with mozzarella, sundried tomatoes and feta or red and green pesto for something Christmassy.

Parmesan and Poppy Seed Lollipops another Lorraine Pascale inventive gem of a recipe! Yet to enjoy, will tweet a pic when I do!

Big Fat Salt and Pepper Breadsticks my sycophantism of all things Lorraine Pascale continues here. Who doesn’t love a breadstick?!

Whole Wheat Garlic Knots I’ve been bursting for an occasion to make these!

I hope you have an army to feed! Happy entertaining!

Leave a comment

Filed under Recipes, Tried and Tasted

Totally Retro Ratatouille

I remember first having ratatouille as a teenager. It was from a tin, but it was delicious. I love squishy squashy Mediterranean vegetables like aubergines and courgettes, I think because of the way they eat up olive oil which then squirts out when you’re eating them. Mmmmm.

As much as I enjoy tinned ratatouille (occasionally cold and straight from the can), the tomato sauce is artificial in taste because it’s been sweetened. My recipe below will produce a thinner sauce but it will taste more wholesome. You have to cook the vegetables separately, which takes time, but this way the individual vegetables keep their taste instead of you getting a mushy stew of veg.

When buying aubergines, it’s so tempting to go for the big and bulbous ones. Trick is though, to go for the slender and tall ones. These are the male vegetables and are naturally less bitter than the female because they have fewer seeds.

Oh, and it’ retro because once a 1980s dinner-party favourite, ratatouille isn’t served much nowadays. I keep the ratatouille flame alive! Serve it up as a side dish to chicken or fish or simply with an oven roasted jacket potato and lashings of Parmesan.

Serves 4 well as a side dish

– 6 tbsp olive oil
– 4 onions, sliced
– 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
– 2 large aubergines, thickly sliced width-ways
– 2 courgettes, sliced width-ways
– 2 red peppers
– 4 plum tomatoes
– Few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
– Handful of fresh basil
– 1 fresh bay leaf (or dried will do)
– Salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 200°/Gas Mark 6. Lightly brush your sliced aubergines on both sides with olive oil. Place on a foiled roasting tray and roast for 20 minutes or so until they are golden and tender.

2. Now prepare your peppers. Take the core and seeds out by cutting open the top of the pepper and shaking out the seeds. Quarter the peppers and brush lightly with oil. Roast for 20-25 minutes.

3. When your aubergines and peppers have roasted, just set aside for the time being and turn the oven down to 180°/ Gas Mark 4. Warm 1 tbsp of oil in a deep frying pan and cook your sliced onions until soft. Add your thinly sliced garlic cloves and mix in with the onions. Now add your thyme leaves, bay and a little salt and pepper. Finally, add your sliced courgettes and cook all together until your courgettes are soft. You might need to add a little more oil part-way through.

4. Now add your sliced plum tomatoes along with the oven roasted aubergines and peppers. Cook all together for 10 minutes.

5. Now transfer all of your ingredients to an oven proof dish and roast for 45 minutes. If you have time on your hands, you can turn the oven down to 150°/Gas Mark 2 after this cooking time and leave it for a little longer.

When ready, tear and stir in your handful of fresh basil.

And all of a sudden it’s like you’re actually in Provence. Oui Oui it will. If you have leftovers, just place in sandwich bags and freeze. Or leave it in the fridge and eat cold on toast!

Ratatouille with a Jacket Potato and Parmesan

1 Comment

Filed under Recipes