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Making Pizzas for 13 people


Our New Year’s Eve tradition is to have a meal with our hosts friends and watch Jules Holland’s Hootenanny on BBC2. Not thinking what was actually involved I suggested making pizzas – I’d make the dough bases and let everyone create their own toppings. I soon realised that would mean making 13 bases which equated to 3kg of dough! Fortunately our friends have a big kitchen and a newly installed Corian work surface which turned out to be perfect for kneading dough on – wish I had the same space at home!

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Making Jam – Part 3


Having successfully made my first lot of jam I was keen to label it up, being a graphic designer meant of course I would have to design my own! I’m a great fan of those 1950s fruit crate labels and so tracked down some inspiration. I’d taken a digital pic of a hastily arranged basket of apricots before I made the jam, so using the Watercolour filter in Photoshop I quickly turned it into an illustration before adding some period type, Underground font from P22 along with a really nice script font Liorah. Think I’ll use the design as a templte for all my other jams, just change the image each time.

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Cooking with Leiths


Leiths Vegetarian Bible is the only cookbook you’ll ever need, having aquired over the years a large collection of vegetarian cookbooks I constantly find myself reaching for this meaty (pardon the pun?!) volume (it is the size of a bible) for inspiration. As my paents were coming around for tea I thought I’d stick with an old favourite – Green Olive and Artichoke pie – made with pre made puff pastry and can artichokes it is a doodle to make and is delious hot or cold – one Christmas meal down, 2 to go!

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Enjoying a home grown salad


All the hard work in the veg plot has started being fruit, or in this case salad! An equivalent to buying a bag of herb salad from Tescos and the like, except ours was picked and eaten in the space of quarter of hour! A mix of sorrel, corn vit, basil, chervil rocket and 3 kinds of lettuce – delicious!

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Finding a use for sage


Our herb garden is almost complete, with over 20 different types it’s starting to look really good, positioned just outside the French doors, so it’s handy for the kitchen. One of the herbs, Sage, planted last year has grown really well, so well in fact that it’s taking over! The traditional use I know is of course for Sage and Onion stuffing – not much use as we’re vegetarian! So I was glad to discover another recipe on the BBC Food website for Roasted Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto with Pinenuts – simple to make, great tasting and it uses 15 sage leaves in it! Could become a weekly favourite.

1 large butternut squash
2 garlic cloves, peeled
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
about 15 sage leaves, chopped
flaked sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
3 large knobs of butter
1 large onion, chopped
400g/14oz arborio or other Italian risotto rice
2 glasses white wine
1 litre/1¾ pint hot chicken or vegetable stock
good handful of freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus extra to serve
75g/3oz pinenuts, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
2. Cut the butternut squash into 6-8 wedges, remove the seeds and place in a roasting tray. Pound or chop the garlic and add a generous glug of olive oil, half the sage leaves, sea salt and pepper. Tip into the tray and rub over the butternut squash with your hands. Roast in the oven for 40-50 minutes until softened and becoming golden in colour.
3. Once the squash has cooked, cool slightly, then scrape the soft flesh away from the skin into a bowl. Lightly mash with a fork or potato masher until it is fairly chunky in texture. Scrape any sticky juices left in the roasting tray into the bowl and keep warm while making the risotto.
4. Heat the olive oil and a good knob of butter in a deep, heavy-based frying pan or saute pan. Gently fry the onion until softened. Add the rice and stir for about a minute until the grains are coated with the oil and butter. Pour in the wine and stir continuously until it has cooked into the rice. Add a good ladle of hot stock and the remaining sage and season well with salt and pepper. Turn the heat down so the stock is simmering gently. Keep adding ladles of stock as it cooks into the rice, stirring and moving the rice around in the pan. After about 15-20 minutes the rice should be soft but still have a bit of bite left in it. The texture of the risotto should be thick and creamy, but not too loose. Add extra stock if necessary. It may seem tedious standing and stirring but the end result will be worth it.
5. Remove the pan from the heat and gently stir the roasted butternut squash into the risotto with the parmesan, the remaining butter and seasoning to taste. Add any extra stock if the risotto seems particularly thick. Cover with a lid for a couple of minutes as this will give the risotto an even creamier texture.
6. During this time, place the pinenuts in a fairly hot frying pan and toss around until golden. Spoon the risotto into warmed bowls and scatter with the pinenuts and extra parmesan.

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Having lunch at Wagamamas


London Day 5 – The other thing my daughter enjoys is noodles, so where better to have lunch than Wagamamas – if you don’t mind the office lunchtime rush, or sitting canteen style on benches in rows, it is great – delicious food – I had the Amai Udon – “the flavour of this dish is both sweet and sour. udon noodles teppan-fried egg, fried tofu, prawns, leeks and beansprounts. served with crushed peanuts and lime. squeeze the lime over the noodles for extra flavour”. They even had a kids menu.

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Being horrified by Sudan 1


If there was ever a reason not to eat junk food here it is!

Thanks to some dodgy goings on in India a red dye called Sudan 1,used for colouring solvents, oils, waxes, petrol, and shoe and floor polishes, has been found in some chilli powder imported from India. They have also been found in a number of food products containing this chilli powder.

Having look at the list of products affected it look like McDonalds (ha ha) is one of the worst effected – who would have thought you’d find chilli powder in Dijon Mustard Mayo – would have thought it would have mustard in?! And stay clear of all Pot Noodles if I were you!

I love cooking and apart from pizza avoid ready meals, but I’m still going to check the pantry!

Food Standards Agency Chief Executive Dr Jon Bell said: ‘The list of products will continue to be updated and put in the public domain. There is no risk of immediate illness and the health risk generally is likely to be very small.

‘But if you have any of these products at home it’s sensible not to eat them.’

Dr Bell added: ‘The food companies involved are legally responsible for notifying us, removing the affected products and informing consumers. We expect remaining product information to be provided by Thursday and that food businesses remove any remaining affected products as soon as they can.’

The Agency has reminded food companies of their legal responsibility to ensure that food sold is fit for purpose and that they should check that any remaining stock of chilli powder or products made from chilli powder is free from Sudan I. Investigations continue into this incident.

Sudan I can contribute to an increased risk of cancer but at the levels present the risk is likely to be very small. There is no risk of immediate ill health but it is sensible to avoid eating any more.

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