Mash Up Sausage Sunday

With a newborn in the house we are all snatching sleep when we can. A must on the menu is quick and easy comfort food. In the fridge stands a packet of sausages nearing their sell by date: sausage and chips, toad in the hole, sausage and mash. Out of eggs for toad in the hole, chips a no no – trying to shed a few pounds. Sausage and mash it is then.

Oh wait, the potatoes in the veg rack are growing new potatoes, and turning a shifty shade of green. The green is caused by chlorophyll a naturally occurring plant pigment. Chlorophyll is tasteless and harmless. But be aware not to consume to many green potatoes and their shoots, because it is a sign of another more sinister substance. Solanine begins to form once a potato is exposed to light. It is toxic with the sole purpose of protecting the potato from insects and other animals. With a bitter taste, it causes stomach pain and vomiting, if ingested in large quantities can even be fatal.

Now what?

Time for a little bit of creative food thought. Disposing of the inedible potatoes, I notice other vegetables starting to wither and look sorry for themselves. Keen to spare them from the compost heap I decide upon a vegetable stir fry. And tagliatelle with tomato and mascarpone sauce.

I begin by adding the sausages to cook in the oven, on a medium oven.

Vegetable Stir Fry


  • 1 Onion
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Yellow Bell Pepper
  • Mushrooms
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Handful of Kale
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1cm piece of Ginger
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Dash of Olive Oil
  • Dash of Balsamic Vinegar


Peel and slice the onion. Deseed and slice the peppers. Halve the cherry tomatoes, and slice the mushrooms. Peel and grate the ginger, and crush the garlic.

Add a dash of olive oil to a frying pan on a medium heat. Saute the onions until soft, but not brown. Add the peppers and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the rest of the veg and stir until softened. Season to taste and then add a generous dash of balsamic vinegar.

Turn off the heat.

Tomato and Mascarpone Sauce

Image by Olga Kropman from Pixabay


  • 1 Can Chopped Tomatoes
  • 1 heaped tablespoon Tomato Puree
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • 1 teaspoon Dried Oregano
  • handful fresh Basil
  • handful Parmesan
  • 125g Mascarpone Cheese
  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil


Over a medium heat fry the garlic in the olive oil until golden but not burnt (approximately 1 minute). Pour in the chopped tomatoes and half a can of water. Add the tomato puree, and oregano. Season to taste. Stir well and then turn down the heat. Simmer for 8 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering cook the tagliatelle according to packet instructions. When the pasta is al dente add a tablespoon of the cooking water to the mascarpone sauce, before draining the tagliatelle.

To complete the sauce stir in the mascarpone and add freshly chopped basil. Stir once more and switch off the heat.

Plate up the sausages, stir fry, tagliatelle and sauce. Add grated mozzarella or cheddar over the pasta.

Mushroom Stroganoff

I recently became a Grandma for the second time: a young mama I might add, not Nanny or Grandma. Baby is feeding well and mum is already back in size 14 clothes, enjoying food that previously gave her heartburn or made her sick. Wanting to pamper my youngest daughter, I made Mushroom Stroganoff, one of her favourites.



Peel and slice the onions. Bruise the cardamon pods with a pestle and mortar or rolling pin. Slice the mushrooms. Peel and crush the garlic.

Boil the rice using instructions on packet.

Add a dash of sunflower oil to a large pan and over a medium heat saute onions, garlic and cardamon until onion soft but not brown (approximately 5-7 minutes).

Add mushrooms to the pan and fry for a further 7-8 minutes.

Pour in brandy and stir until burnt off. Stir in the mustard.

Prepare a slurry by adding water to the cornflour and stirring until smooth. Add to the pan along with the cream. Season to taste.

Serve with the boiled rice, crusty bread and a side salad.

Quick and Easy Crossing Carbonara

Moving home and a stay in hospital, has had a profound effect on my cooking and eating habits. Time: I haven’t had any. Motivation: I haven’t had any. And appetite: I haven’t had any.

Crossing Carbonara came about as a pantry leftover meal. The unusual name is in reference to the red bell pepper, green courgette and pedestrian crossings.

Pasta versus rice: my daughter and I have always sat on different sides of the fence, but this meal bought us together, it was a hit.

Oh! The low fat creme fraiche makes it dieter friendly too.


  • 1 tablespoon Olive Oil
  • 8 rashers Streaky Bacon
  • 1 Courgette
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 2 Cloves Garlic
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano (Parmesan Cheese)
  • 330g Tagliatelle
  • 200g Low-Fat Creme Fraiche


Deseed and dice the red bell pepper, grate the courgette and peel and crush the garlic.

Add the olive oil to a large frying pan. Dice the bacon and fry until brown. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

Bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the tagliatelle. Simmer for 7 minutes or until the pasta is al dente (still slightly firm). Drain and set aside.

Sauté the red bell pepper and courgette in the bacon fat for approximately 5 minutes, or until softened. Add the crushed garlic to the pan and after a minute stir in the tub of creme fraiche. Season to taste.

Add the tagliatelle to the frying pan and coat with the sauce. Grate over the desired amount of pasta and taste. Season accordingly.

Serve with a simple salad and crusty bread.

Lemon and Walnut Cake

Let them eat cake.

Marie Antoinette

Birthdays without cake are like Christmas without turkey, Easter without chocolate, pantomime without tights. Whether it be rich and gooey chocolate cake or sponge filled with jam and loaded with sweet, fluffy frosting; design and flavour in the eye of the one blowing out the candles.

The sharpness of this lemon cake filled with lemon curd and smothered in lemon butter cream is offset wonderfully with smooth, mellow walnuts.


Cake Batter

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 2 cups caster sugar
  • 4 large eggs (room temperature)
  • 3 cups self raising flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 cup of milk
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon curd for filling

Lemon Butter Icing

  • 1 cup butter (room temperature)
  • 3 cups of icing sugar
  • Rind and juice 1 lemon
  • 12 walnut halves to decorate


Preheat oven to moderate: 350° Fahrenheit, 180° Celsius, Gas Mark 4.

Grease 2 (8×8) baking tins and dust with flour.

Add room temperature butter and sugar to a mixing bowl. Cream together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until white and soft. Add the eggs, one at a time to the creamed butter and sugar, stirring until incorporated.

Blend the chopped walnuts in a food processor. Add to a bowl with the flour and baking powder.

Gradually fold the dry ingredients and the milk into the batter. When combined mix in the lemon juice.

Divide the batter evenly between the 2 cake tins and smooth with a palette knife.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes. Cake is ready when an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Leave to cool for 20 minutes before turning onto a cooling rack.

Only decorate once cake completely cold.

Lemon Butter Icing Method

Beat the butter until white and fluffy, before gradually adding the icing sugar, once smooth mix in the lemon juice.

Spread one half of the cake with lemon curd and place the other half on top.

Pile lemon butter icing on top of the cake, smooth with a palette knife until none of the cake is visible. Decorate with the walnut halves.

Three Berry Mess

Not Ready to Say Goodbye to Summer

Dawn prises its way through the gap in my curtain considerably later now. Dusk settles a little earlier. Department stores no longer drip with breezy silks and cotton, instead heavy with the weight of wool. Christmas is cropping up in pubs and restaurants: book your party now.

Summer has been one of extremes. Record breaking temperatures interrupted by dark skies and prolonged periods of pounding rain. Bram Stokers Dracula arriving en masse in gangs of bloodthirsty midge.

A Saturday – central Manchester. Damp hair growing frizzy; sitting in a café surrounded by customers seeking shelter from the barrage of umbrellas. Spying a misty impression of a rainbow, parting clouds lure me home: for something vibrant, something sweet, a nugget of evening summer sunshine.

Inspired by a traditional Eton Mess: my Three Berry Mass


  • 200mls Double Cream
  • 4 Meringue Nests
  • Small Punnet of Strawberries
  • Small Punnet of Raspberries
  • Small Punnet of Blueberries
  • 1tbsp Granulated Sugar
  • tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1tbsp Icing/Confectionary sugar


Hull the strawberries and slice in half and half again. Add to a bowl with the raspberries, blueberries and granulated sugar.

In a large mixing bowl add the cream, confectionary sugar and vanilla extract. Whisk until it forms soft peaks.

Spoon in half the fruit and three crumbled meringue nests. Stir gently.

Fold in the last of the fruit and spoon mixture into a serving dish. Top with the last meringue nest crumbled and a dash of strawberry syrup.

(If counting calories, replace the cream with low fat crème fraiche or low fat natural yoghurt. Use sweetener instead of sugar. And replace confectionary sugar with honey.)

Sunshine in a dish.

Theresa Sampson

Jazz Up the Jar

I wouldn’t say that processed food, ready meals and even takeaways aren’t relevant to modern life, it’s just that over the past 40 years there are three generations of people who have come out of school and gone through their home life without ever being shown how to cook properly.

Jamie Oliver

Load the compost heap with peelings, not the recycle bin with plastic. Dieticians and health fanatics take an aggressive, no-give approach to processed foods, and pretty much anything out of a packet. But for the humble eater seeking sustenance, many factors affect what they put in their mouths: time, availability, knowledge and price to name just a few.

This August bank holiday 28° plus temperatures saw many pink, part roasted beings grab the phone for a takeaway, or shuffle to the supermarket aisle stocked with jars of processed sauces, prepared to sacrifice the beauty of a steaming plate of home cooked food in favour quick and ease.

Here is a meal out of a jar, perked up with a slice of moderation and a sprinkle of compromise.

This principle is a great way of using up odds and ends from the fridge, to jazz up pretty much any processed jar of cooking sauce.

Cheats Sweet and Sour Chicken with a Twist


  • 1 Packet of Chicken Breast Goujons
  • 1 Diced Onion
  • 6 Mushrooms sliced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic crushed
  • Handful of Spinach
  • Juice of one lime
  • Packet of Gnocchi
  • Handful of Chopped Coriander
  • Jar of Sweet and Sour Sauce
  • Salt and Pepper to Season


Gently fry the chicken breast in a dash of olive oil, until white all over but not brown. Squeeze over the juice of 1 lime and continue to stir for another minute. Remove from the frying pan and set aside in a casserole dish.

Meanwhile add a little more olive oil and soften the onion and mushrooms. Add the garlic and spinach and stir until the spinach wilts.

Add the contents of the frying pan to the chicken, season with salt and pepper. Pour in the sweet and sour sauce and stir.

Cook in a pre heated moderate oven for 40-50 minutes.

Five minutes before ready to serve, bring a seasoned pan full of water to the boil. Add a handful of chopped coriander and a packet of gnocchi. Simmer for 3-4 minutes or until the gnocchi floats to the surface.

Serve with the sweet and sour chicken and a side salad and crusty bread.

Excessive sorrow laughs. Excessive joy weeps

William Blake

Prawn Coconut Curry with Honey and Lime

A light citrusy curry with a handful of flavours that compliment each other. Perfect for a warm summers evening.


  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 1/2 lb of cooked prawns
  • 1 onion diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic minced
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger crushed
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 lime juiced
  • A handful of baby leaf spinach
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander
  • salt and pepper to taste


Melt butter in a heavy based frying pan, over a medium heat and saute the diced onion until opaque. Add the garlic and ginger to the pan and stir through.

Sprinkle over the curry powder and pour in the coconut milk. Stir gently and bring to a simmer. Add the honey and lime juice and season to taste.

Stir in the spinach and allow to wilt before adding the prawns and coriander.

Simmer for a further 5 minutes until prawns heated through. If necessary season once more.

Serve with a choice of rice or noodles.

Pork Shoulder Steaks in Honey and Mustard Sauce

A hearty and comforting pork dish, with a blend of honey, mustard and lime. Serve with choice of potatoes and seasonal vegetables.


  • 4 Pork Shoulder Steaks
  • Dash of Olive Oil
  • 1 0nion
  • 1 Gala Apple
  • 4 Medium Size Mushrooms
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic
  • 1 Chicken Stock Cube
  • 1tsp Dijon Mustard
  • 1tbsp honey
  • 1 tbsp low fat fromage frais
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1tbsp of Cornflour
  • Quarter Pint of Water
  • Salt and Pepper to season


Pre heat oven to moderate, 180ºC, 356ºF, Gas Mark 4.

Add a dash of olive oil to a hot heavy based frying pan. Fry pork steaks until brown on both sides. Place browned pork on an oven tray and pop in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Dice onion, apple and mushrooms and crush garlic cloves. On a moderate heat, add to the frying pan used to brown the pork. Saute gently with a wooden spatula until soft and translucent.

Add honey, mustard and lime juice, plus quarter of a pint of water and stock cube. Simmer for ten minutes allowing liquid to reduce.

Meanwhile mix the cornflour with a little water to make a slurry. Add to the frying pan and stir until thickened.

Finally add fromage frais, simmer for five minutes and season to taste

Serve with the pork shoulder steaks and choice of potatoes and veg.