Thursday, 28 February 2013


One of the great tricks we've learnt over the years is how to adapt recipes according to our current level of poverty. Finances in the creative sphere are unpredictable, and when payments are overdue it's great to be able to whip up a healthy meal from what's lurking in the back of the cupboard.  

It's safe to say that this is the only recipe I can think of where ketchup can stand in for chilli peppers and coriander without the result being total carnage.  In fact, if you're looking for sweetness instead of heat it's actually a far better option.  This is a real 'dress it up / dress it down' recipe, and either way it tastes great.  I know, it's culinary blasphemy, but it seems to work.

Seriously.  Try it.


1-2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped finely
2-4 peppers (any colour) deseeded and cut into strips
400g tin plum tomatoes, chopped
4 eggs
Freshly ground black pepper

2 mild green chillis, deseeded and finely chopped
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
2 tablespoons Heinz Tomato Ketchup
1 mild green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (optional)


1. Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium to high heat and cook the onion, garlic, pepper strips and chilli pepper(s) until the onion is golden but not brown.  This should take 10-15 minutes.

2. Add the tinned tomatoes and ketchup (if using) and simmer until the sauce begins to thicken and the peppers are soft but not soggy.  

3. Stir in the chopped coriander, if using.

4. Make four small dips in the sauce and break in your eggs.  Cook over a medium heat until the whites are set but the yolks remain soft (the best part of this meal is the egg yolk running into the vegetables when you cut them...yum).  If you like life a little more predictable, you can stick them in a preheated oven at 180C (350F, Gas Mark 4) for 12-14 minutes.

5. Serve on their own or with warmed pitta.  Fabulous, easy, cheap.

Thursday, 7 February 2013


In all honesty, this didn't start out as a Pac-Man tribute cake.  The fact is I had two overripe bananas and the ingredients for a Victoria sponge, but the cake smelt so fabulous coming out of the oven that by the time I'd located my camera it looked like this.

The brilliant thing about this recipe (apart from the smell) is that it works equally well with yellow bananas or those black ones that are way past their best.  Cooking time varies according to the size of the fruit and your cake tin, and you can adjust the cinnamon to taste.  Today though, this is what I did...


175g butter (softened)
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
175g self-raising white flour
2 medium bananas (ripe or overripe)
2 generous teaspoons of cinnamon


1. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake tin.  Preheat the oven to 180C (350F, Gas Mk 4).  

2. Beat the butter and sugar together.  Normally, I avoid hand blenders like the plague, but it really makes a difference here so is well worth the moral compromise.

3. Add the eggs gradually and mix well.

4. Fold in the flour, avoiding the compulsion to sieve (not necessary).

5. Chop and add the bananas.  Mix using the hand blender.  Your mixture should be smooth and moist, and will rise to form a lovely sweet, dense cake.

6. Add the cinnamon and mix well.

7. Tip the mixture into the cake tin and bake for 20 mins.  Check the cake every 5 minutes from this point on (today's cake took 35 minutes).  It is ready when it is golden on top and shrunk slightly from the edges.  

8. Hide cake from family and eat in private.

Friday, 1 February 2013


After the thigh deep snow of last week, the weather here has adjusted itself to normal.  As befits horizontal rain and hurricane force gales, today's recipe is a cheap and comforting curry.  It's chunky, nourishing, and (as we discovered) lovely with wine by torchlight during a power cut.   Even better, the leftovers keep well in a fridge and can be bulked out with more stir fried veg to make it stretch further. What's not to like?


2 tablespoons olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped finely
1 onion, cut into wedges
7-8 cardomom pods, split and husks removed
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon caster sugar
half a teaspoon salt
2 small chillies, red or green, deseeded and finely chopped
1 pepper (any colour) deseeded and cut into strips
2 tomatoes, quartered
4 chicken breasts (skinless and boneless)
400g tin plum tomatoes, chopped
2 tablespoons low fat natural yoghurt or creme fraiche

Rice or toasted pitta bread to serve


2 teaspoons cornflour
1 tablespoon water


1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan over a medium to high heat.  Add the chopped chillies, garlic, spices, sugar and salt, and the tinned tomatoes.  Stir fry for 3-4 minutes.

2. Chop the chicken and add to the sauce.  Cook for another few minutes, turning the chicken regularly until its outside surfaces are no longer raw.  Add the yoghurt or creme fraiche, and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Cover and cook for 7-8 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through.  

3. In a separate pan, heat the second tablespoon of olive oil over a high heat.  Add the chopped onion and peppers, and cook until they are lightly browned but not soft.  Add the quartered tomatoes, and fry for a couple more minutes.

4. If you would like your sauce thicker, mix the cornflour and water into a smooth paste add to the chicken mixture and stir.  

5. Add the stir fried vegetables, mix well, and serve with rice or pitta bread.