Category Archives: Beside the side

Side dishes or small courses

Frijoles Negros

Frijoles Negros con chorizo y queso

There are many different Frijoles recipes using different beans, Kidney, Pinto, Black eyed and Black beans and range from Frijoles Charros (Cowboy Beans) to the Tex-Mex staple of Frijoles Refritos (Refried Beans), however I like the Frijoles Negros that I always order at Wahcha (a Mexican restaurant chain here in the UK).

It has a smooth consistency that you can dip nachos and bread in and makes a great side or a base for a Conchita Pibil taco.


400g cooked black beans
½ red chilli, finely chopped
50g butter ( some more is better )
1 small onion, grated or finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, grated or finely chopped

For the topping (optional)

½ red chilli, finely chopped.
2 stems of coriander, torn.
1 banana shallot, finely sliced.
100g of cubed or crumbled Chorizo.
grated Lancashire or crumbled Feta cheese to taste.

If you want a vegetarian version, leave out the Chorizo obviously!


  1. Cook the onion in the butter until soft then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further minute then add to a food processor.
  2. Drain the beans reserving the cooking liquid. Add the cooked beans with a little of their cooking liquid to the food processor.
  3. Whiz the mixture until you get a smooth, tomato ketchup consistency (add a little more of the liquid if it’s too thick)
  4. Remove to a bowl and season to taste with a little salt and pepper and allow to cool.

For the topping.

  1. Add the Chorizo to a tablespoon of Olive Oil and fry until toasted and the oil is coloured red.

Allow to cool and add to the Frijoles with finely chopped shallots and chilli, a garnish of coriander, the chorizo (and oil) and Lancashire cheese.

They’re perfect with a bowl of tortilla chips and an ice-cold beer.

Pork and Pancetta Stuffing

Pork Pancetta Stuffing Balls
Pork Pancetta Stuffing Balls

It’s that time of year when the Turkey needs stuffing! This year I’ve gone for a  Butterfly Turkey Crown, which I’ll spread the stuffing over before I fold back together and roast. I’ve plumped for this slightly smoky Pork and Pancetta stuffing which should keep the breast moist and flavourful.

If you don’t have a bird to stuff just roll it into balls and cook  for 20 mins or so until they are cooked though and browned.


  • 2 onions, chopped
  • 1/3 lb (150 g) mild pancetta, cut into fine dice
  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil
  • 8 oz (227 g) white button mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 lb (454 g) pork sausage meat
  • 3 cups (750 ml) bread cubes, without the crust
  • Zest of 1 unwaxed Lemon
  • 1 tsp Dried Thyme
  • 1 tsp Dried Oregano
  • Salt and pepper


1.In a large saucepan, soften the onions and pancetta in the oil. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook for about 5 minutes, then leave to cool.

2. Add the sausage meat, cooled onion mixture, breadcrumbs and lemon zest along with the herbs and seasoning to a large bowl and mix thoroughly.

Use to stuff the bird of your choice or roll into balls and cook separately and serve……..

Paul Hollywood’s Pain De Campagne

Pain De Champagne
Pain De Campagne

I’ve been watching last year Oregano grow like mad this year and needed to cut it back before it went to seed. I was wondering what to do with leaves rather than just dump them in the compost when I remembered this recipe in Paul Hollywood’s Bread
book, that Kimbob’s bought me for Valentine’s

Makes: 1 loaf

Tip: I use dried yeast when making wholemeal bread as the re-activation in warm water gives the heavier wholemeal flour a helping hand to rise. Feel free to use easy bake dried yeast or fresh if you want. You don’t need to activate the Easy Bake yeast just add it to the flour and stir in.


  • 400 g strong bread flour
  • 100 g rye flour
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp dried yeast (or 7g easy bake dried yeast\20g fresh yeast)
  • 50 g butter, diced and softened to room temperature
  • 1 large bunch of oregano, de-stalked and finely chopped
  • 300 ml water


  1. Activate the dried yeast by whisking the sugar into 160 ml of the water until dissolved, then add the yeast and whisk again. Leave in a warm place for 10 – 15 mins or until 2cms of froth covers the surface, whisk again and use (Not required for Easy Bake yeast)
  2. Add the flour, salt and chopped herbs into a bowl and mix thoroughly
  3. Add the butter and rub completely into the flour mix
  4. Slowly add the yeast and water and mix in with your hands until all the flour from the side of the bowl, has been incorporated.
  5. Transfer the dough to a floured surface and knead for 6 minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl and leave to rise for 2 to 2.5 hours until doubled in size.
  6. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Return the dough to the floured surface and shape into a ball, then slightly flatten with your hands and dust with some rye flour. Using a sharp knife, mark out  the traditional square shape on top of the dough, pop onto a baking tray and leave to rise for 1 hour.
  7. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas 8. Bake for 30 minutes until until the bread is risen, the crust is golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom and transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Enjoy with butter, or as the base for a slice or two of Mature Cheddar Cheese on toast or dunked in a bowl of my Bacon and Lentil or  Minestrone Soup




Classic Roast Potatoes

Roast Potatoes

The best roast spud are crisp and crunchy on the outside while being soft and fluffy on the inside. They are the classic side to any roasted meat. Adding semolina just before roasting adds extra crispiness to the spud too!

My favourite variety of potato to use is Desirée, but Romano and King Edward are also good for roasting


  • 1.5kg Potatoes
  • 100g fat or any oil with a high smoke point. Goose or duck fat is perfect as it has a high smoking point (reserved from the Two Fat Ladies Roasted Goose recipe is best)
  • 1 heaped tbsp of Semolina (optional)


  1. Pre heat the oven to 220°C/200°C fan/425°. Put the fat or oil into a heavy based roasting tin, and pop into the oven to melt and heat.
  2. Thinly peel the potatoes using a potato peeler and cut in fairly even sized pieces , lengthways is best as it give you more edges to crisp up.
  3. Pop them into a pan, cover with cold water and a pinch of salt and bring to the boil. Leave to simmer for around 10 mins until they fare starting to go fluffy. To test this lift one of the potatoes, and scrape the edge with a fork, if it’s still smooth then cook for a minute or tw longer.
  4. Drain the potatoes using a colander, and put back into the hot pan, placing it back on the heat for a moment to dry the potatoes off.
  5. Put the semolina on top of the potatoes and pop a lid onto the pan and give them a quick shake, this will distribute the semolina and rough up the edges of the potatoes too.
  6. Remove the roasting tin from the oven and place on the hob on a high heat, 
  7. Put the potatoes into the pan a few at a time and using a spoon baste them with the hot fat\oil (this seals them and stops them from being greasy). Be careful not to burn yourself with the sizzling fat.
  8. Put the tray back into the top of the oven for 40 to 50 mins, until they are  golden brown.

Serve with your favourite roast meat, like my classic Roast Leg of Spring Lamb or “Two Fat Ladies” Roasted Goose

Apple Scone

Apple Scone
Apple Scone

There are some recipes that always remind me of being a child and a Sunday evening wasn’t complete if Mum hadn’t made an Apple Scone. She had (and still has) an old Hamlyn All Colour Cook Book (Hamlyn All Colour Cookbook) and the recipe originally came from there.

Makes 12 wedges


Scone mix

  • 250g Self Raising Flour
  • 4 tbls caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 0.5 tsp salt
  • 50g butter, chilled
  • 1 cooking apple – peeled, cored and grated
  • 125ml milk


  • 1 tbls tablespoons milk
  • 2 tbls demerara sugar
  • 0.5 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees C.
  2. Sift flour into a large bowl and add sugar, baking powder and salt
  3. Rub in butter until crumbly.
  4. Add grated apple and milk and stir to form a soft dough.
  5. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, then knead gently 8 to 10 times.
  6. Pat into two 15cm (6-inch) circles and place on greased baking tray.
  7. Brush tops with milk, and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon.
  8. Score each round into 6 wedges or stamp out into round scones.
  9. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes, or until browned and risen.

Serve warm with butter (some good strong Chedder Cheese works well with it too).

Lyonnaise Potatoes

Lyonnaise Potatoes
Lyonnaise Potatoes

So much more delicious than plain boiled or sauteed potatoes, Lyonnaise Potatoes add a touch of class to so many main dishes especially a good steak.

If you include some chopped ham and some red pepper when you fry off the potatoes and top off with some grated Gruyère cheese then place under the grill for four minutes it makes a meal in itself.

Serves 2-4 – Gluten Free*


  • 500g new potatoes, halved
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2tbs Olive Oil
  • 1tsp butter


  1. Pop the potatoes into a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook for 20 mins or until just tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. Heat a heavy based frying pan and add oil and onions and fry until translucent. 
  3. Add the potatoes, garlic and butter and fry until onions have browned and the potatoes crispy at the edges
  4. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt (if required).

Serve, with sausages, steak or just about anything

Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise Sauce
Bearnaise Sauce

Bearnaise sauce is a derivation of the classic Hollandaise sauce, the difference is that it’s flavoured with Tarragon. Bearnaise is my favourite sauce to accompany a good pan seared steak (preferably a big old lump of well aged Rib Eye).

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 300g clarifed butter or ghee, melted and kept warm
  • 4 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 4 shallots, finely chopped
  • 3 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon stalks, plus 2 tbsp whole tarragon leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 meduim free-range egg yolks
  • 1 tsp lemon juice



  1. Pour the vinegar into a non-reactive saucepan. 
  2. Add the shallots, chopped tarragon stalks and salt, to taste. 
  3. Heat gently over a medium heat until the volume of liquid has reduced by more than half. 
  4. Strain and set aside until completely cooled.
  5. Lightly beat egg yolks with one teaspoon of water. Stir the egg yolk mixture into the cooled vinegar, then add the lemon juice.
  6. Pour the mixture into a bowl suspended over a pan of simmering water (do not allow base of the bowl to touch the water). 
  7. With an electric whisk, whisk constantly until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon and has increased in volume.
  8. Remove the bowl from the heat and slowly pour in the clarified butter in a steady stream, continuing to whisk, until the mixture is thick and smooth.
  9. Fold in the tarragon leaves and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Pop the bowl back over the water (off the heat) to keep warm until ready to use, then pour over your best grilled steak or some poached Salmon.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients listed are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Whisky Cream Sauce

Whisky Cream Sauce
Whisky Cream Sauce

This rich sauce, made with cream and Scotch Whisky is the prefect companion to Haggis and Clapshot on Burns Night. The subtle smoky notes from the Whisky are perfect with the richness of Haggis.

Serves 4 – 6 Gluten Free*


  • 500ml/17fl oz double cream
  • 2 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp whisky
  • sea salt and freshly ground white pepper
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
  • ½ lemon, juice only


  1. Heat the double cream in a pan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the wholegrain mustard, Dijon mustard and whisky and stir to combine.
  3. Increase the heat until the mixture is simmering and continue to cook for 1-2 minutes.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground white pepper.
  5. Stir in the tablespoon of chives, then whisk in the lemon juice.

Serve drizzled over slices of Haggis, with a mound of Orkney Clapshot for that perfect Burns Night meal on the 25th January

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Orkney Clapshot

Orkney Clapshot
Orkney Clapshot

Burns night is fast approaching and thoughts turn to Haggis. Although the regular accompaniment to this is ‘tatties and neeps’ I prefer Calpshot. I was introduced to this during a visit to the cafe at the top of Cairngorm Mountain a good few years ago. The chef was from the Orkney’s and this was was their staple addition to the Burns Night Meal.

Serves 4 – Gluten Free*


  • 400g floury white potatoes such as Maris Piper, peeled and diced
  • 400g carrots, diced
  • 400g swede (The Scots know this as yellow turnip)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced
  • 50g butter
  • 100 ml double cream
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste


  1. Put the potatoes, swede, carrot and onion into a pan of boiling water and cook until tender.
  2. Drain and mash
  3. Stir in the butter and cream along with the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

Serve, with Haggis and a splash of whisky cream sauce.

*Gluten Free – Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change their base ingredients frequently

Jewelled Pumpkin Rice

Jewelled Pumpkin Rice
Jewelled Pumpkin Rice

We were sorting through the freezer this weekend working out what was stored in there and doing a bit of a rationalisation. I saw a bag of raw Pumpkin that had been saved this years Halloween ‘Jack O Lantern’. and wondered what I could do with it, maybe a Spiced Pumpkin soup or something more exotic. Sam and Sam Clarke at Moro, a Southern Mediterranean restaurant in London’s East End had a recipe for Jewelled Pumpkin Rice in their Moro East Cookbook, which looked stunning and defiantly one to try. The muted golds and yellow with the warming middle eastern spices are evocative of holidays in the North African side of the Med.

Serves 4 – 6 Gluten Free*


  • 500g peeled and seeded Pumpkin, butternut, or other winter squash, cut into dice
  • 1 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • big pinch of saffron (about 50 strands)
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • cinnamon stick about 5 cms long
  • 4 allspice berries, crushed
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced across the grain
  • 15g dried barberrys (or currants)
  • 50g shelled pistachios
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (freshly podded and ground if possible)
  • 300g basmati rice, soaked in tepid, salted water for 1 hour
  • 450ml vegetable/bouillon stock (use a Gluten Free stock for a Gluten Free recipe)


Preheat the oven to 230 degrees centigrade/Gas 8. Toss the squash with half of the salt and the olive oil. Spread in a baking tray, and roast for 30 minutes. Mix the saffron with 3 tbsp boiling water, and add 25g of the butter. Set aside.

Heat the remaining butter in a medium pan with the cinnamon and allspice until it foams, then add the onion and remaining 1/2 tsp of salt. Fry over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until soft and starting to colour. Add the barberries (or currants), pistachios, and cardamom, and cook for 10 minutes more, until the onion is golden and sweet.

Drain the rice and add it to the pan, stirring for a minute or two before pouring in the stock. Taste for seasoning, scatter with the roasted squash, cover with greaseproof paper and a tight-fitting lid, and cook over a high heat for 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low and simmer for a final 5 minutes. Remove the lid and greaseproof paper, and drizzle with the buttery saffron water. Replace the lid and leave to rest, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.


It can be served as a vegetarian main or as a spiced side dish to a Tagine.

*Gluten Free - Although I make every effort to ensure that the ingredients list 
are gluten free, you should double check at the time of using as products change 
their base ingredients frequently.