Essentials 1 – vermouth and port

So many recipes call for red or white wine, but opening a whole bottle for a gravy or sauce is madness as you may not want to finish the rest of the bottle. Since I cooked a Jamie Oliver recipe for baked fennel that suggested dry white vermouth as an alternative to white wine, I’ve kept a bottle for when I need only a small amount of white wine. It’s a great alternative that works in just about any recipe that doesn’t rely on the wine as the primary flavour. I also keep a bottle of ruby port open for...

It’s winter, says the veg box

Our vegetable box really reflects the seasons. This week, the preponderance of root vegetables – celeriac, swede, sweet potatoes and large maincrop carrots – plus a cauliflower, tells me it’s winter. I love this seasonal thing. It’s constantly prodding me to rethink what I’m cooking, rather than letting me settle gently into a rut.

Pan-fried breast of chicken on creamy leeks with black pudding

Last week I promised some more about what I did with a couple of our purchases from the market. The black pudding – which was really good, so good that the man had run out when we returned on Sunday to get some more – was used in this recipe from The Gastro Pub Cookbook. Apologies for the picture quality – I’m still getting the hang of the new digi. I’m not going to reproduce the whole recipe here, as for once, I pretty much stuck to the one in the book, except for halving the quantities (for two instead...


Actually, nothing at all to do with market, but a general grumble about my inability to get the stone out of a mango without dragging half the flesh with it. How do they do it in restaurants? Or is it a variety thing like the strawberries we get these days in the shops that never give up their hulls cleanly? I remember the days… Any suggestions, oh knowledgeable reader?