Tuesday 21 January 2014

roasted butternut squash soup with ras al hanout

well the rain and the cold is here, so soup time it is!  Also am feeling poorly and should probably supplement my diet with more than whisky hot toddies and Dairy Milk.  I love soup - so little effort for so much comforting goodness.  Here's one of my favourites - a simple roasted butternut squash soup that you can spice up in any number of ways.  This is so easy to make and pep up with your favourite spices.  I will often make this with curry powder instead of the ras al hanout.  

A simple and comforting soup - perfect for these colder evenings. 

top tip:  No need to peel the squash before cooking, as it's much easier after you have roasted it.

recipe author:  chip butties and noodle soup  
serves:  3-4 


1 butternut squash
1 large onion
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp ras al hanout (optional or you can use your spice of choice
coriander or parsley - chopped
1.5 litre good chicken or vegetable stock
2-3 tbs olive oil
salt and pepper to taste
  1. preheat the oven to 200c
  2. chop the butternut squash and onion into chunky pieces and put in a roasting tin and before mixing with the ras al hanout, olive oil, garlic cloves and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. roast for about 20-30 minutes until the veg is softened and slightly caramelised around the edges. 
  4. carefully peel the squash (you can scoop it easily with a spoon from the skin), then add with them rest of the ingredients to a large saucepan.
  5. Add the stock and simmer for about 5-10 minutes before removing from the heat and blending.
  6. add your fresh herbs if using and serve immediately.  


I have also entered this recipe onto the Four Seasons Food blog challenge for January.  Hosted by delicieux and Eat Your Veg.  The theme this month is virtuous food :-)

Thursday 16 January 2014

Polish Plum Cake

My Polish Plum cake - perfect for snowy days and homesickness

Well we're here!  The Limousin region of France if you were wondering.  A long, stressful, cramped journey with 2 cats and a camper van to our new abode in rural France.  A dream that has become a reality.  And what a shock it is!  Leaving friends and family, full time paid employment, and a daily routine we understood....also the reason I have been away from the blog for so long.   

We are working hard everyday, and sometimes it feels like wading through red tape in a big vat of treacle...while wearing wellies that keep falling off.  But we have faith and know we will get there in the end (wherever there may be).  Or understand that where we are is fine too.  That we can enjoy the moments and laugh at ourselves sometimes, and appreciate what we have: the opportunity and chance to follow our dreams. 

This is the first cake I have been inspired to bake in our new house.  I was looking for a taste of home, and memories of my Babcia's baking.  A simple cake with a few ingredients.  To make our house smell like home...I hope you enjoy.  Do let me know how you get on and what your favourite taste of home is?

2 cups plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter - at room temperature
2 eggs
1 cup milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon/orange
pinch of salt 
about 12 plums - halved and de-stoned
1/3 cup icing sugar

  • preheat your oven to a moderate heat - about 175C.
  • grease and line a baking tin - I used a 20x30cm size.
  • sieve the flour into a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients and mix for 3-4 minutes with an electric whisk.
  • pour half the batter into your tin then add the halved plums in a single layer before adding the rest of the batter on top
  • Bake for about 35-40 minutes - or until the cake is well risen and a skewer comes out clean.
  • remove from the tin after 10-15 minutes and leave to cool on a rack before sprinkling with icing sugar.  
  • Enjoy a nice big slice with a cup of tea - mine's an Earl Grey. 

Check out my other Polish inspired recipes:

Polish honey and spice gingerbread (piernik)

I have posted this recipe for Polish Plum Cake onto Javelin Warrior's Made with Love Mondays over at Cookin w/ Luv


Friday 13 September 2013

spiced blackberry and onion marmalade

I love preserving; both sweet and savoury.  It brings me comfort that I know I will have something delicious in the store cupboard to liven up a sandwich or meal at a moments notice.  My spiced blackberry and onion marmalade is great with sausages, hot or cold roast meats and cheese (it's awesome on cheese on toast!).  I am always on the look out for different flavour combinations and mixing up ingredients in ways that we would not normally expect.  I wasn't sure that blackberries would work in a savoury preserve but it was worth a go and I think it turned out well. Spicy and fruity with a lovely sticky onion marmalade.  I spiced my marmalade with chilli, cardamon, star anise and coriander.  The star anise adds a wonderful savoury depth to the caramelised onions (a good tip for any recipe that involves caramelised onions).  The cardamon and coriander add a wonderful fragrance and the dried chilli a little heat. I left the chillies whole so as not to overpower the marmalade, but you can use less or more, depending on your preference.  

This is just a chutney by another name....I like the word marmalade...but then chutney is also good...I'll let you decide what to call it if you make it!  Do let me know how you get on and please do share your favourite chutney, marmalade or pickle recipes.  Your comments are always much appreciated and I look forward to chatting with you soon.   

recipe by:  chip butties and noodle soup
preparation time:  15 minutes
cooking time:  50-60 minutes

spiced blackberry and onion marmalade


250g blackberries
800g onions (peeled/prepared weight) finely sliced
350g sugar
350g cider/wine vinegar
2 garlic cloves - finely sliced
6 cardamon pods (cracked)
1 tbs coriander seeds
2 star anise
6 small dried red chillies (or to taste)
2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt (or to taste) 

makes about 1kg of spiced blackberry and onion marmalade

  1. roast the spices and dried chillies for a few minutes until they start to release their fragrance and essential oils - be careful they don't burn.
  2. add the oil and sliced onions and cook away until they are soft and caramelised.  This will take about 20 minutes over a low heat.
  3. add the blackberries, garlic, vinegar and sugar and stir until the sugar is dissolved
  4. bring to a boil and then gently simmer for about 30-40 minutes. However this time will depend on the moisture in your ingredients.
  5. the marmalade is cooked when thickened and a wooden spoon leaves a trail in the pan when its pulled through. 
  6. pour into hot sterilised jars.  You can remove the whole spices but I like to leave them in - just remember to warn people before they take a big mouthful!   
  7. store in a cool dark place and once opened store in the fridge. 
  8. can be eaten the next day but is much better if you can leave for at least a week or so for the flavours to mix and mellow.  

If you like this recipe you can check out my other preserves and sauces:

blackberry, lavender and orange blossom jam

rhubarb, rose and vanilla jam

hot and sweet chilli, garlic and ginger jam

rose harissa chilli sauce

Four Seasons Food

I have entered my spiced blackberry and onion marmalade onto Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and eat your veg

Wednesday 11 September 2013

onion, tomato, rosehip and aniseed soup

My onion soup with tomato, aniseed and rosehip.  A late Summer soup - inspired and adapted from onion, aniseed and tomato soup by Clarissa Dickson Wright from Clarissa's Comfort Food.  A good read, packed with delicious, comforting recipes.

Onion soup with tomato, aniseed and rosehip - an unusual and curious combination you may think - and I certainly did before I tried it, but it works.  The lovely aniseed bitterness with the sweet and caramelised onions mixed with the floral and tangy rosehip is an interesting and tasty combination.  The dried red chillies I leave whole so they just add a background heat and spice, rather than overpowering the dish.  The final addition of basil highlights the aniseed with it's similar flavour.  
As readers of my blog will know I love to experiment with herbs and spices and new flavour combinations. It's good to be out of our comfort zone every now and then...otherwise how else would we learn or try new things.  I am writing this at a time when my life is changing dramatically....with plans to move abroad to start a new way of life and business....exciting and terrifying in equal measure. I am trying more and more to become conscious to the idea that life really is short - I know we can all say it from time to time, but to understand it and feel it are different from just saying the words. 

I know this is only a blog about recipes and cooking, but for me cooking is not separate from my life. It is for my family and friends and it is a reflection of them and other influences all around me in the world, and a way I have of sharing and communicating this with others.  Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith and believe that you will be OK...so in the grand scheme of things a little bit of aniseed or rosehip in our tomato soup may not seem like much, but if we are stuck to our recipe books, and our fixed ways of doing things we will never discover the whole world of spice and flavour out there.  So here's to taking a leap of faith; both in and out of the kitchen.  Let me know how you get on and as always your comments are most welcomed and I look forward to hearing from you.  

onion, tomato, rosehip and aniseed soup

recipe by chip butties and noodle soup inspired and adapted from Clarissa Dickson Wright's onion, aniseed and tomato soup

preparation time:  5-10 minutes
cooking time:  20-30 minutes
serves 4 


3 large onions - thinly sliced
400g chopped tomatoes (tinned or fresh)
1 litre chicken/vegetable stock
2 garlic cloves - thinly sliced
1 tsp aniseed
1-2 dried red chillies
1 tbs rosehip preserve (I used rosehip preserve from rose cafe preserves)
2 tbs roughly torn basil
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

  1. heat up a pan before adding olive oil and your sliced onions.  Cook the onions gently until soft and caramelised - this will take about 15-20 minutes
  2. add the aniseed and dried red chillies and fry for a few minutes to help release the essential oils along with the sliced garlic
  3. add your tomatoes, stock and rosehip preserve and bring to a boil
  4. simmer for about 15 minutes 
  5. add your fresh basil, check for seasoning and serve.  Great with crusty bread and butter.

Four Seasons Food

I have entered my onion, tomato, rosehip and aniseed soup onto Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti
Cooking with Herbs

I have also entered this recipe into 

Thursday 5 September 2013

crab and fennel pasta with chilli, anchovy and lemon pangrattato

A beautiful taste of late Summer.  Crab and fennel are a perfect match and great with pasta.  Top this with a lovely chilli, anchovy and lemon pangrattato and a scattering of herbs and you have a dish ideal for alfresco dining enjoying the last of the Summer sun.  

Pangrattato is Italian for breadcrumbs - fried up with a bit of olive oil to top your pasta or risotto dishes - and a much cheaper alternative to Parmesan.  Crab and any kind of fishy pasta does not work with Parmesan anyway it just seems to 'clash' and become a bit cloying.  The pangrattato adds a crunchy, spicy bit of texture which works well against the soft, delicate pasta flavours.  

Let me know how you get on - I hope you enjoy - this is one of my favourite pasta dishes.  

preparation time:  10 minutes
cooking time:  15-20 minutes
serves 2-3 

recipe by:  chip butties and noodle soup 

crab and fennel pasta with chilli and lemon pangrattato


100-170g cooked white crab meat - I used fresh Cornish white crab meat, but tinned is also fine.
1 fennel bulb - chopped/sliced - I cut my in chunky, lengthways slices
1 clove garlic - crushed
400g chopped tinned tomatoes
1 tsp fennel seeds
2 tbs olive oil 
200g dried pasta - I used spaghetti 
handful of chopped fresh herbs - a mix of basil and parsley works really well here
salt and pepper to taste

for the pangrattato:

100g white breadcrumbs (whizz up in food processor or tear/chop up - I left mine quite chunky)
2 tbs olive oil
3-4 anchovies
1 tsp chilli flakes
zest of 1 lemon 


  1. heat 2 tbs of olive oil in a pan, add your fennel seeds and garlic and fry for a minute or two before adding your chopped fennel.  
  2. cook for about 5 minutes until your fennel has softened then add your tinned tomatoes.
  3. simmer and let your sauce reduce for about 10 minutes or so to make sure the fennel has softened well.  Add a splash of water if it looks like it may be drying out.
  4. add your pasta to a large, salted pot of boiling water and cook until al dente (about 10 minutes but check by tasting a bit to see if it's ready).  
  5. while the pasta and sauce are cooking fry off your breadcrumbs/pangrattato with 2 tbs olive oil, anchovies, lemon zest and chilli flakes until crisped up and lightly golden.  
  6. when the pasta is done, drain and add to the pasta sauce along with your cooked crab meat - stir until well mixed - this also helps the sauce stick to the pasta as the starches are released from the stirring.  
  7. check for seasoning and finish off with the chopped fresh basil and parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice and a large sprinkling of the pangrattato.  Enjoy! Preferably outside, in the late Summer sun :-) 

As always your comments are most welcomed.  I would love to know your thoughts and if you try any of my recipes.  Happy cooking, and thanks for stopping by.  

Cooking with Herbs

I have entered this recipe into 


Four Seasons Food

and Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti

Tuesday 3 September 2013

celeriac salad with panch phoran

celeriac salad with panch phoran
My recipe for a quick and simple celeriac salad with panch phoran. Celeriac is a much maligned vegetable in the UK, maybe due to its off-putting appearance; all muddy roots and jagged bits - but what lies beneath is worth the work involved in peeling and cleaning it.  Beautiful creamy coloured flesh with a nutty taste and full of crunch.  It's great raw in salads like this, but also delicious cooked in soups, mashed or baked.  It's popular in France and served simply grated like this with a mayonnaise dressing.  We often buy it ready made when we're over there and have it with lunch or a BBQ.  This is my homemade version with a little pinch of panch phoran to spice it up a little bit.  

Panch phoran (or Indian 5 spice as it is also known) is a blend of cumin, brown mustard seeds, fenugreek, nigella seeds and fennel. You can buy it ready blended but you can easily make your own with equal quantities of each spice.  

preparation time:  5-10 minutes

recipe by:  chip butties and noodle soup

celeriac salad with panch phoran


1 celeriac
1 tsp panch phoran
juice and zest of 1 lemon
2 tbs mayonnaise or Greek yogurt
salt and pepper to taste

  • roast the panch phoran in a dry pan until the essential oils are released and the spices become fragrant
  • wash, peel and finely grate your celeriac
  • add the panch phoran to the celeriac, with the zest and juice of a lemon, 2 tbs of mayonnaise or Greek yogurt and then salt and pepper to taste
Enjoy as an interesting, spicy alternative to coleslaw. Great as a side dish at a late Summer BBQ or a light lunch. 

Your comments are most welcomed and thanks as always for stopping by.  

Four Seasons Food

I have entered my celeriac salad with panch phoran onto Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti

I am also entering this onto Turquoise Lemon's September No Waste Challenge this month hosted by Elizabeth's Kitchen Diary

Courgette, cardamon and rosehip cake with mascarpone icing

courgette, cardamon and rosehip cake

It's time for a bit more baking I feel.  Inspired by the welcome return of The Great British Bake Off and my love of cardamom, rosehip and seasonal courgettes it was time to put these flavours together in a big cake.  I am all for a bit of kitchen flavour experimentation and being creative in your cooking.  Recipes for me are only the starting point - it's much more fun to play around with flavours and add your own twist.  

Carrot cake has always been a family favourite and courgette cake is a close relative, and although it's been around for ages, is new to my baking repertoire. The courgette acts in a similar way to carrot; adding moisture and sweetness to the cake, and works really well with the fragrant cardamon and rosehip syrup.  The mascarpone icing is the perfect topping and completes this cake - the zesty orange complementing the fragrant cardamon and rose flavours.  

I was sent this delicious rosehip syrup by rose cafĂ©.  It's packed with vitamin C, sharp and tangy with a lovely soft rose flavour.  I remember my Polish gran collecting bags of rosehips to make bottles of this pink, flowery syrup that we drank as a cordial in our childhood.  I wasn't a huge fan of floral flavours when I was younger but my taste buds have changed and I now often love using rosewater and orange blossom water in sweet and savoury dishes. I find there is often a sense of remembrance and nostalgia in our home comfort cooking.  When I think about why I like certain flavours or ingredients I am often brought back to tastes of my childhood.  

I hope you give this cake a try and let me know what you think.  Your comments and thoughts are always most welcomed.  Happy baking!  

preparation time:  10-15 minutes
cooking time:  50-60 minutes

recipe by:  chip butties and noodle soup 

Courgette, cardamon and rosehip cake with mascarpone icing 


300g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
200-250g grated courgette
4 eggs
250ml sunflower oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
crushed seeds of 5-6 cardamon pods or 1/2 tsp of ground cardamon
zest of 1 orange
pinch salt 

mascarpone icing:

200g mascarpone cheese
2 tbs icing sugar
zest of 1 orange

cardamon pods to garnish (remove before eating!) 

  1. preheat the oven to 150C and grease and line a 20cm deep cake tin
  2. whisk the eggs, oil and sugar together until light and airy 
  3. add the rosehip syrup, vanilla extract, orange zest and cardamon and mix
  4. sieve in the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and salt and fold in gently
  5. next stir in your grated courgette until just combined - don't over mix!
  6. pour the cake into your prepared tin and bake for about 45-60 minutes
  7. it is ready when lightly golden and a skewer comes out clean
  8. leave in the tin for about 5 minutes before removing to a cooling rack
  9. while the cake is cooling whisk up the mascarpone icing ingredients until well combined.  
  10. when the cake is fully cooled top with the lovely mascarpone icing, cut yourself a slice and enjoy with a big mug of tea.  

If you like this recipe check out my carrot, orange and caraway cake - my cross between a traditional seed cake and a carrot cake. 

I have entered my courgette, cardamon and rosehip cake with mascarpone icing onto Love Food Hate Waste and NEFF's Unusual Baking Challenge 

Four Seasons Food

I have also entered this recipe onto Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti