Friends of mine are constantly sending me pictures of the delicious meals that they have been cooking. I do the same. There is a real sense of pride and achievement when you cook something which tastes and looks wonderful. Unfortunately, a lot of the time there is no one around to fully appreciate it! This blog is for people who want to share their culinary triumphs with everyone else. Email me the recipe and a photo of the finished product on

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Beetroot, Goats Cheese and Honey Salad

Serves 2/3 (as a side):

2 cooked beetroot
2 tbsp of crumbled goats cheese
1 tsp of honey
2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

1. Slice the beetroot and place it in a bowl.
2. Crumble the goats cheese on top of the beetroot
3. Mix the honey, olive oil, salt and pepper and drizzle it on top of the beetroot.

Having recently been criticised for my shocking overuse of the phrase "simple and delicious", I am willing to take the hit and use it once more...

This dish is SO simple and SO delicious. It's true.

Serve with herb crusted cold roast beef (leftovers from Sunday lunch) and a cherry tomato and avocado salad.

Friday, 9 March 2012

DESERT ISLAND MEAL. It's a pretty big deal...

Big Portions Strong Flavours brings you the much acclaimed Sausage Sauce Pasta. A VERY naughty sauce packed full of delicious sausage meat, double cream and red wine. Do not eat this if you are on a diet. Sausage sauce has no time for diets. Only for greedy piggies such as myself and Hannah Weiland - a greedy piggy extroadinaire when it comes to this sauce. Adapted from a River Cafe recipe, Cherry (aka my dad's bird) has changed my whole pasta sauce outlook. Nothing compares. Tasting this sauce is like being slapped round the face with yumminess. Just see for yourselves...

Oh.. and a warning... fights may break out over sausage sauce. There have been many in our family over the years when some of us ate more than their fair share.

"Whenever I know for sure that we will all be together, it is fennel and sausages I buy." Cherry Wellesley, 2011.

Serves 10:

4 glugs of olive oil
20 sausages - Italian pork with a good fennel content is perfect. However you can use any good sausage and add a good spoon of fennel seeds. ALSO if you use 10 Italian sausages and 10 chorizo sausages it is really quite special.
3 small red onions, chopped
4-5 small red dried chillies, crumbled
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 Bay leaves
4 sprigs of rosemary, chopped
1/3 bottle of red italian wine
400g tin of peeled plum tomatoes X4
1 grated nutmeg
Parmesan, grated (lots)
Double cream - enough so that the sauce has a creamy quality to it, but not so much so that it dilutes the flavour too much.

1. Heat the oil in a pan on a medium heat. Skin the sausages and crumble them into the pan.
2. As the sausage fat begins to run add the onions, garlic, chilli, rosemary and bay leaves.
3. Cook on a medium heat for about 30 minutes. Pour in the wine and turn the heat up.
4. Once most of the wine has evaporated add the tinned tomatoes. Simmer gently for 1 hour.
5. Take the sauce off the heat and season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
6. Add the porky cream and fatty parmesan.


Make enough to have in a sandwich the next day... if possible it gets even more delicious over night.

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Fancy Pants Canapes

I have landed myself a preeetty sweet position as recipe tester for my lovely mother's next cook book, The Busy Mum's Vegetarian Cookbook (which I will be shamelessly plugging on this blog).
Last night Kate Towers and I, following Mary Gwynn's (aka my mum) recipe, embarked upon a canape extravaganza, and produced some incredibly tasty little morsels.

Minted Pea and Polenta Pieces

For the polenta
175g (6oz) instant polenta
25g (1oz) butter
25g (1oz) freshly grated Parmesan
large pinch dried chillies
1-2 large free-range egg, beaten
100g (4oz) dried white breadcrumbs
salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the topping
200g (4oz) frozen peas
4 cloves garlic
sunflower oil for deep frying
juice of 1 lemon
mint leaves and pecorino shavings to finish

1 To make the polenta bring 750ml (1 ¼ pint) water to the boil, add a generous pinch of salt and the chillies then pour in the polenta, whisking continuously to prevent lumps forming. Lower the heat and simmer for 2-3 minutes until the polenta is thick and leaves the sides of the pan.

2 Off the heat, beat in the butter and grated parmesan to give a glossy thick paste. Season to taste. Pour the mixture into a lightly oiled shallow baking tin and spread to a thickness of about 1.5cm ( ½ in). Allow to cool and set. Cut out rounds using a 2.5cm (1in) plain round cutter and dip into the egg and breadcrumbs to coat. Cover and chill until needed.

3 For the pea puree cook the frozen peas into boiling water with four peeled cloves of garlic for 2 -3 minutes. Drain well and run under cold water to cool. Drain again. Pulse quickly in a blender with seasoning form a coarse puree.

4 When ready to serve, heat the oil in a deep heavy based pan or fryer to 190C and fry the polenta in batches for 2 -3 minutes each until crisp and golden. Drain on kitchen paper. Use a teaspoon or piping bag to pipe on the puree. Top with a mint leaf, squeeze of lemon juice and shaving of pecorino.

Caponata Filo Cups

3 large aubergines, cut into 1.5cm ( ½ in) cubes
4 – 6 tbsp olive oil
1 large red onion, finely chopped
2 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
small handful flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp tarragon vinegar
400g can Italian tomatoes
2 tbsp dark muscovado sugar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp capers, roughly chopped
1/2 jar stoned green olives, roughly chopped
100g (4oz) pine nuts
4 sheets filo pastry
50g (2oz) butter, melted
100g (4oz) dolcelate or similar soft blue cheese (optional)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
chopped chives to finish

1 Sprinkle the aubergine with a little salt and leave to stand in a colander for 10 minutes. Rinse under running water then pat dry with kitchen paper. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and fry the aubergine in batches till golden. Drain on kitchen paper.

2 Clean the pan, add a tablespoon of oil and cook the onion and garlic over a lowe heat for 3 -4 minutes until softened. Return the aubergine to the pan and add the tarragon vinegar. Stir in the tinned tomatoes and add 1 tbsp brown sugar. Simmer for 15 - 20 minutes until the aubergine is cooked through and the sauce thickened. Stir in the remaining sugar, balsamic vinegar, capers, olives, oregano, parsley and seasoning and simmer for a further minute or two. Add the pine nuts right at the end then cool, cover and store in the fridge. The flavours will develop and the pine nuts will soak up the excess oil and give a good extra texture to the caponata.

3 Preheat the oven to 170C/fan oven 160C/gas mark 3. Lay out a sheet of filo pastry on a chopping board and brush liberally with melted butter then gently lay another piece of filo over the top. Brush again and then use a large knife or cutter to cut the sheet into squares roughly 4cm (1 ½ in) square. Do the same once more. Push the squares into mini muffin tins and bake for 8 – 10 minutes until golden. Turn out onto a baking sheet to cool. Store in airtight containers.

4To assemble, use a teaspoon to fill each case with a little of the caponata mixture then top with a teaspoon of dolcelate if using. Sprinkle chives over the top. Arrange on a plate, slate or tray.


Firstly, I love the word 'platter'. Secondly, WHY are they so delicious!? People often underestimate the power of a very well put together platter. I think an important (but not essential) element for me is the combination of hot and cold. A warm Reblochon cheese tart with a selection of cold cured meats, gherkins, salad and more cheese. Honestly it makes me salivate just picturing it. Not only does it taste sensationally good but it looks beautiful too.

This is one of the finest platters I have ever had the pleasure of tasting, at L’Edelweiss, a mountain restaurant on a run down to Le Fornet in Val d'Isere. That white thing which looks like a dead mouse in the middle of the board was a mini saucisson. Very tough but very delicious.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Kate's Chorizo and Bean Stewy Soup

1 carrot
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 celery stick
400g tin tomatoes
Vegetable stock
Cooking chorizo
400g tin of cannellini beans
1 tsp fennel seeds
3/4 bay leaves
1 tsp paprika

Finely chop the garlic and thinly slice the carrot, celery and onion. Heat some oil in a pan and cook the garlic, onion, celery and carrot until softened. Add the tomatoes, half a small jug of vegetable stock and the spices and bay leaves. Whilst simmering, fry the chorizo in a separate pan and then add it (with yummy chorizo juices) to the stew with the cannellini beans. Simmer and reduce until thickened (I think kate left it simmering for about 2 hours on a very low heat).
This was made in Kate's new Le Crueset which, according to Kate, hugs the dish and makes it feel happy and tasty.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Suckling Piggies and Other Thingies

Saturday night was the culmination of 21 years of devout piggy worship. It took place at St. John restaurant in Smithfield. A Curtis family celebration is first and foremost about one thing... Food. You have to order the pig a month in advance, which my sister took upon herself to do. I should clarify that I come from a family of complete pork fanatics. From the sweet little piggies running around in a pen to the scrumptious meat, I can safely say the Curtis family love everything about pigs. We love pigs so much that we found a pet that is as close to a pig in appearance as possible (Agnes, an english bull terrier. We have often talked about which part of Agnes would taste the most delicious).

My sister Lucy instructed me to visit the St. John's website and help her choose the starters for the night. The menu on the restaurant's site was titled 'Feasting', a great start. We ended up choosing Roast bone marrow & parsley salad and Whole crab & mayonnaise. They brought the bone marrow and crab out on huge platters (why does food look infinitely yummier on a platter?). Before the meal I had in my mind an image of literally picking marrow from a cows bones... And that is exactly what we did. It turns out bone marrow spread on toast with a sprinkling of salt is quite the most delicious thing. The crab was equally yummy. It was served whole which meant a considerable amount of snapping and cracking and picking and, at one point, actually sucking crab flesh from a claw, the whole messy process making it even more tasty.
The suckling pig was then brought in to loud cheers and much drooling. It was when I thought how delicious the pig's head looked that I realised I really do have no qualms when it comes to eating pigs, however sweet they might be. The head was cut off and placed ceremoniously in front of my sister, far better than any birthday cake I've ever seen. No one seemed particularly surprised when Lucy started nibbling the ears as we sang happy birthday... The look of pride on my father's face was immense.

Unsurprisingly, a whole pig which has been roasting for 10 hours is completely delicious. Thank god for my supreme gift of a second 'pudding' stomach. A gift I know many of my friends are blessed with. After the pig had been demolished and swept away to be wrapped up into a mouthwatering doggy bag, the waitress brought in the puddings on yet more platters. Sticky toffee pudding and profiteroles. Too much? Almost. There was a considerable lull in conversation after a few minutes as people realised the extremity of what we had taken on. Bone marrow, crab, a whole pig and two puddings. Greediness is a trait which is prided in our family. Holding back is frowned upon. It is safe to say I am very proud to call myself a Curtis.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Chicken Pie (Flora Davidson)

1 chicken
720ml chicken stock
125ml cream
1 onion, sliced
1 carrot, sliced
100g smoked streaky bacon
50g butter
75g flour
packet of puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
salt and pepper

Poach chicken in 1 litre of water. Add carrot and onion and bring to the boil and then simmer for 45 minutes. Take the chicken off the bone and break it up into fork size pieces. Sweat onion and bacon until soft, then add flour and cook for 2 minutes. Gradually stir in 750ml of poaching liquid (stock) and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in cream and season. Fold in chicken pieces and pour into pie dish. When cool, cover with puff pastry and glaze with the egg. Cook for 30 minutes until pastry is golden.