Kitchen 5: Eton Mess

Did a dish ever have a more unpromising title! Do not be put off.

You will need

Half a pint of double cream ( that’s heavy cream in America I believe)

Some meringues. I see no point in standing and making them for this, you just end up trying to find a use for a couple of egg yolks and finally end up throwing them out, buy a box full instead!

A punnett of strawberries ( about half a pound)

Whip the cream to the floppy stage.

Put the meringues in a bag and thump them with something heavy until they are crushed. Don’t try to get a universal crumb, a mix of bit sizes is best.

Crush the strawberries. Don’t be tempted to put them in the blender or processor, you will get to much juice. Mash them with a fork, it takes a few minutes, but it’s worth it.

Now just combine everything, cream, meringue bits and strawberries.

Deadly fattening of course, but wonderful to eat.

And this will go around about 6 people…or it should go around 6! I notice that left alone in the fridge it rapidly only goes around 4 people and if you take your eyes off it all that is left can be scrapped out with a finger.

Kitchen 4: Pink Potatoes

Something really easy to liven up dinner and make the kids smile.

If you are roasting or sauteing potatoes, add a teaspoon of paprika either to the roasting oil or during the cooking.

It turns the spuds a lovely colour and adds an interesting flavour.

Go easy if you are using the hot or smoked stuff, they can make it a bit too exciting, but the sweet mild paprika is lovely.

Kitchen 3: Maid’s Mild Curry for the Fainthearted

Home cooked curry is one of those dishes that can be a real disappointment. To much chilli and not enough spice. It can certainly frighten off those curry novices who find they have a mouth on fire and wondering why they bothered.

This is totally phoney and no Indian in their right mind would give it houseroom, but as an introduction to the flavours and as a good dinner it takes some beating.

I large onion, peeled and sliced

2 cloves of garlic sliced

I small tub of greek style yoghurt ( the thick set stuff)

I can of coconut milk

Curry paste

Water or stock.

First fry the onion in some oil or oil and butter combination, once it begins to colour add the garlic. Don’t do it before or the garlic will burn and taste nasty.

When all that is nice and soft add as much curry paste as you think you will like. My lot like it hot, so I often add as much as half a jar, but novices might like to start with a couple of tablespoons.

Fry the curry paste, this is very important, you must cook the spices well to bring out the flavour.

Now the unsual bit, turn the heat down and start adding the yoghurt spoon by spoon. It shouldn’t curdle if you are careful, but don’t worry if it does, its not the end of the world.

Once all the yoghurt is in, dilute the mix with about half a pint of water or stock and add all the coconut milk.

This is your basic sauce, allow it to cook for a while to develop.

Now comes the fun!

You can cook lots of things in this sauce and have many variations.

For carnivores you can add chicken and allow it to cook in the mix and this will give you a lovely Chicken Korma style curry, mine like that best.

But for vegetarians, you can cook carrots and little florets of cauliflower for a good veggie curry. Potato and peas is another good combination.

You need to keep an eye on either version as it can catch at the bottom and burn. The liquid goes down very fast and there is nothing more off putting than black flecks in it.

I would avoid red meat cooked this way, for some reason it doesn’t really work.

What ever you decide, serve the result with plenty of rice and mango chutney if you’ve got it.

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Kitchen 2: English Summer Pudding

This is another of those recipes that is more guide lines than instruction. It may sound unpromising, but I assure you it is delicious.

You will need a generous selection of fresh summer berries, the choice is up to you, but you want at least half of them to be the sort that run with juice. I think redcurrants, raspberries and blackcurrants are my favourites.

Put them in a pan with just a hint of water to stop them burning and sugar to taste. Cook them lightly to make the juice run. Take them off the heat and leave to cool. If you want to use strawberries now is the time to add them, they are lovely in there, but don’t respond well too heat in my opinion.

Now find a good sized bowl, at least a two pint one and line it with slices of white bread, crusts removed. You don’t need to be artistic, but you do need to try and keep gaps to a minium. Save some slices for the lid.

Don’t be tempted to wholemeal bread or other healthy options, white is the only thing for this.

Once you have lined your basin spoon the fruit into the middle, reserving a little of the juices, and cover with the remaining slices of bread. Any left over fruit can be poured over ice cream for another dessert later on.

Put a small plate or saucer on the top and then a heavy weight to press it all down. if you don’t have anything suitable, a couple of full cans is usually enough.

Whatever you do, stand the bowl on something to catch any drips!

Into the fridge over night or for at least eight hours.

It should turn out, but just occasionally I’ve had one that sulked and wouldn’t play, it isn’t the end of the world if that happens, it just doesn’t look so pretty.

All the bread should be soaked with berry syrup, but just in case it isn’t, paint with your reserved juice.

Serve with thick cream….that isn’t an option by the way, it would be a crime not too!

If you like dainty puds or you are having a dinner party, it is worth doing individual ones in ramakins. Line them with cling film before you put the bread it, the smaller shape needs a bit of help to hold together.

Kitchen 1: Maid’s Mushroom Supper

This is not so much a recipe as an idea.

The big meaty mushrooms make this a meal that even the most hardened carnivores find satisfying.  For each person you will need

1 English muffin

1 leek

2 Portabello mushrooms

grated cheese of your choice




salt and pepper.

First finely slice the leek discarding the coarse end, but using as much of the green top as you can. Sweat it down in a hot pan with some butter. Don’t allow it to colour, you are looking for tenderness without browning. A tiny splash of water will help this is things look as if they are going to catch.

Add a spoonful of flour and allow it to cook for a while to remove the raw taste; then add the milk stirring all the time until you have a thick sauce. Season well with salt and pepper then set to one side.

Now cook the mushrooms. Don’t peel them, just wipe them clean with a damp towel, remove the stalk and discard. Fry them in a very small amount of butter, they should be done, but retain a good firm texture.

Now split the muffin in half and toast it on both sides.

Place a mushroom, gills up, on each muffin half and fill the cavities with the leek mixture. Generously sprinkle with the grated cheese, put them on a baking sheet and into a hot oven until the cheese has melted and golden.

Serve with a small green salad.

These are very filling and one each could be enough for a lot of people.

There are loads of delicious variations on this theme. Try filling the mushrooms with creamed spinach seasoned with freshly grated nutmeg. Or slip a poached egg in and coat with a good cheese sauce.

For those who don’t feel its a meal without some meat, add bits of chopped crisp bacon to the leek mix or slip a thick slice of ham under the mushroom before filling with your favourite mix.

There must be dozens of good things that can be used.