Crispy Potato Skins

Crispy potato skins

These super tasty bacon & blue cheese stuffed potato skins work well as a starter or a side dish. Probably best not to count the calories!

Cheesy Baked Potato Skins – serves 4

  • 4 baking potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 8 rashers of thick-cut pancetta
  • 2 cos lettuces, leaves separated and roughly chopped
  • 4 celery sticks, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp chopped celery leaves
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • smoked paprika for dusting (optional)


  • 250g crème fraîche
  • 200g Roquefort cheese, crumbled
  • 100g mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • few splashes of Tabasco sauce

Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas Mark 4.

Put the potatoes on a baking sheet and bake for around 1 hour 15 minutes or until soft in the middle and nice and crispy on the outside.

When the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them in half lengthways and scoop out the flesh but be careful not to break the skins. Keep the scooped out potato to make something else with.

Put the potato skins back onto the baking tray, drizzle with oil and put back in the oven for another 15-20 minutes or until really crisp and brown.

Meanwhile, gently fold the crème fraîche, Roquefort and mayonnaise together for the dressing. Stir in the mustard and Tabasco and season.

Cook the pancetta slices under a hot grill until crispy.

Mix the lettuce and celery together in a large bowl then add the cheesy dressing. Put the bacon rashers into the baked potato skins and spoon the cheesy stuffing over the top. Garnish each one with some of the chopped celery leaves and chives and dust with paprika.

(Original recipe from Tom Kerridge’s Best Ever Dishes, Absolute Press, 2014.)


Courgette Carbonara

Courgette Carbonara

We are getting close to the last courgettes for the season and what a way to celebrate this humble vegetable … delicious!

Wine Suggestion: We drank an Aligote from Jean Fournier in Burgundy. Aligote is completely underrated and we don’t see it often, but this example shows why we should: fresh, rich and full of fruit but with a core of crisp acidity and earthiness that makes it sing alongside the eggy cream, add layers to the pancetta and parmesan and make the courgettes even more silky.

Courgette Carbonara – serves 6 generously

  • 6 medium green & yellow courgettes
  • 500g penne pasta
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 100ml double cream
  • 2 big handfuls of freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • olive oil
  • 12 thick slices of pancetta or smoked streaky bacon, cut into chunky lardons
  • small bunch of fresh thyme, leaves picked and chopped

Bring a large pan of water to the boil.

Halve and quarter the courgettes lengthways. Discard any fluffy bits from the middle and slice at an angle into similar sized shapes to the penne. If you have small courgettes you can just slice them finely.

Cook the penne according to the pack instructions.

While the pasta is cooking, put the egg yolks into a bowl and add the cream and half the Parmesan. Mix with a fork. Season lightly and set aside.

Heat a very large frying pan, add a splash of olive oil and fry the pancetta/bacon until dark brown & crispy. Add the courgette slices and a very generous grind of black pepper. Add the thyme leaves, and stir to make sure the courgettes are well coated with the bacony oil, then fry until turning lightly golden and starting to soften.

Drain the pasta and reserve the cooking water. Immediately toss the pasta into the courgette pan, then take off the heat and add a ladleful of the reserved pasta water and your creamy sauce. Stir together quickly but don’t put back on the heat.

Add the rest of the Parmesan, and a bit more cooking water if needed, to give you a silky sauce. Taste for seasoning and serve immediately.

(Original recipe from Jamie at Home by Jamie Oliver, Penguin, 2007.)

Courgette & Haloumi Kebabs

There’s still a few courgettes left in the shops and there is just enough warmth left in the air to brave one last barbecue. We had these as a main course with a couscous salad. If that’s a step too far you could treat this as a side and barbecue some bangers or burgers for Halloween.

Courgette & Halloumi Kebabs – serves 4

  • ½tsp chilli powder
  • small handful mint, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced and zested
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 courgettes, cut into 1 cm rounds
  • 225g pack halloumi cheese, cut into large cubes

Mix the chilli, half the mint, lemon zest and juice, olive oil, courgettes and halloumi together in a bowl. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.

Thread the marinated courgettes and halloumi cubes onto skewers (soak them first if you’re using wooden ones). Cook on a preheated barbecue for 7-8 minutes, turning and basting with any leftover marinade.

Sprinkle the rest of the mint over before serving.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Courgette & Haloumi Kebabs with couscous

Beef shin braised in Chianti

Take a shin of beef and braise it for hours in a bottle of Chianti until it can be carved with a spoon … what’s not to like!

Wine Suggestion: the obvious choice is Chianti but given the richness and depth in the food make sure it is one with a bit of depth; younger, or more basic Chianti is just too light. We tried one by Tenuta Sant’Alfonso which comes from a specific vineyard with clay-rich soils which was opulent and fuller structured. It had licorice, dark cherry and mocha flavours which was a great match.

Tuscan slow-cooked shin of beef with Chianti – serves 6

  • 1kg beef shin, off the bone
  • olive oil
  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely sliced
  • 750ml Chianti or other robust red wine
  • 4 tbsp tomato purée
  • 4 bay leaves
  • 150ml beef stock

Heat the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4.

Season the meat, then brown in a large casserole with a little olive oil.

Remove the meat and cook the onions, celery, carrot and garlic until softened, adding a bit more oil if needed.

Pour in the wine and bring to the boil before adding the tomato purée, bay leaves & beef stock.

Return the beef to the pan and bring to a simmer.

Cover with a lid and cook in the oven for 4 hours or until the meat falls apart.

When ready, pull the meat into chunks and stir through the sauces.

Serve with mash or fresh pappardelle pasta.

(Original recipe from BBC Olive Magazine, September 2015.)

Hot & Sour Aubergine

This photo is a bit dark in colour but the flavours are vibrant and delicious and we’re now converts to soaking aubergine in brine before stir-frying to give a soft, velvety texture.

Hot & Sour Aubergine – serves 2

  • 1 large or 2 medium aubergines, cut into long batons
  • 100g green beans, halved
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 large onion, thickly sliced
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced


  • 2 tbsp light soy sace
  • 2 tbsp dark soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tbsp Chinese black vinegar or balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • 1 tsp cornflour dissolved in 2 tbsp water
  • cooked rice, to serve

Put the aubergine slices into a bowl of lightly salted water and leave to soak for 30 minutes, then drain and pat dry.

Blanch the green beans in boiling water for a minute, then rinse in cold water and drain.

Combine all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan or wok over a medium-high heat, then cook the aubergine until well browned on all sides. When the aubergine is starting to take on a good colour, add the onion and chilli and continue to stir-fry for 4 minutes or until soft.

Add the sauce and green beans, cover with a lid, then turn down the heat and simmer for 2 minutes or until the aubergine is soft. Serve with rice.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)

Honey-roasted cherry tomatoes

From our own tomato plants that were torturing us with green fruit to the point we were thinking we’d only make green tomato chutney this year and are now flooding us with ripe red tomatoes every day; famine or flood.

Honey Roasted Cherry Tomatoes – serves 4 as a starter

  • 500g cherry tomatoes
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • flaky sea salt

Preheat the oven to 190ºC/Gas Mark 5. Lightly oil a medium-sized roasting dish.

Halve the tomatoes and put them, cut side up, in the dish so they fit snugly.

Crush the garlic with a pinch of salt, then beat it with the honey, olive oil and a generous grinding of black pepper. Spoon this sticky mixture over the tomatoes, then roast for about 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.

Serve piled on toast with a sprinkling of sea salt flakes on the top.

(Original recipe from River Cottage Veg Everyday! by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Bloomsbury, 2011.)

Haloumi with spiced chickpeas & spinach

This is a super simple and fresh weeknight meal for two. Halloumi cheese always feels like a bit of a treat.

Spiced Chickpeas with Halloumi – serves 2

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped or ½tsp chilli powder
  • 2 tsp finely chopped fresh root ginger
  • 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 200g bag baby spinach
  • 3 roasted red peppers from a jar
  • half a 250g pack of halloumi cheese, drained
  • juice of 1 lemon

Heat the oil in a pan and gently fry the chilli and ginger for 1 minute. Stir in the chickpeas, spinach and peppers, then season. Cover and cook gently for a few minutes, stirring not and then, until the spinach has wilted and the chickpeas are warmed through.

Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan until very hot. Cut the halloumi into 6 slices and fry quickly for a minute or 2 on each side. Stir the lemon juice into the chickpeas and divide between 2 plates. Top with the halloumi and serve.

(Original recipe from BBC Good Food)


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