The Spice Trail: your favourite chilli recipes

Chilli Collage

Well, I have to say, if you’re looking for a new chilli recipe, this surely has to be the place to come.

When I first launched The Spice Trail challenge, I wasn’t sure what take-up would be like. I know how much I adore cooking with spices, but what about the rest of the blogosphere? The answer, it seems, is just as much as me. If not more.

This round-up of the first challenge in The Spice Trail is an incredible celebration of cooking with chilli, taking us all over the globe. From tagines and tarts, pies and pasta, to sweets, soups and salads – it’s all here.

So let’s hit the road on this month’s Spice Trail…

Slow cooked beef chilli

Slow Cooked Mexican Style Beef from Mamacook

Slow cooked beef brisket with garlic, chilli, pepper, tomatoes and paprika. You can just tell that meat is going to melt in your mouth, can’t you?

Vietnamese chicken salad

Kinda Vietnamese Chicken Salad from Mamacook

A fresh and tasty oriental salad featuring chicken thighs, fish sauce, garlic, chilli and lime, plus lots of crunch raw veggies, peanuts and coriander. A wonderful combination of flavours and textures.

pineapple cinnamon red chilli frozen yoghurt

Pineapple, Cinnamon & Red Chilli Frozen Yoghurt from Deena Kakaya

Just like Diwali, this frozen yoghurt is a feast for the senses, combining sweet with sour, chilli heat with chiller cool, and a touch of cinnamon perfume. And it looks pretty as a picture too.

sweet chilli and lychee dipping sauce

Sweet Lychee and Hot Chilli Dipping Sauce from Deena Kakaya

According to Deena, her dipping sauce is as good with chips as it is spring rolls and “carries an exotic aroma, has a zesty and hot kick and is cheekily sticky.”  If you like it hot and sweet, this is the sauce for you.

chilli oil

Chilli Oil with an Indian Accent from Deena Kakaya

So what’s a chilli oil with an Indian accent? Think garam masala and you’ve got the spice mix right there, giving this oil a wonderful aroma and gentle heat with just the right level of sweetness. Truly inspired.

lamb apricot tagine

Lamb, Butternut & Apricot Tagine from Eat Your Veg

This tasty slow cooked tagine is perfect for cheaper cuts of meat and a great way to ‘sneak’ vegetables passed unsuspecting little ones. And what’s more, it’s absolutely packed full of rich, intense flavours for a different take on the traditional Sunday lunch.

homemade harissa

Homemade Harissa from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

Harissa is a versatile chilli and garlic paste originating from North America, ideal for spicing up soups, stews, cous cous and rice dishes. When you’ve seen Chef Mireille’s homemade version, you won’t want to buy shop-bought again!

Persimmon Chilli Tart

Chilli, Ginger & Persimmon Tarts from Chocolate Log Blog

Having never eaten persimmons, I am intrigued by these beautiful tarts, particularly as they also feature white chocolate flavoured with naga chilli. I am a big fan of chilli chocolate but generally find the flavouring is a little on the timid side. Naga chilli chocolate sounds right up my street, providing the perfect foil for the gingery persimmon custard in these tarts.

coconut lentil curry

Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry from Recipes from a Pantry

When you take a look at this curry, you just know it’s going to taste good and make you feel good. Simple lentils with exciting flavours: coconut, garam masala, curry powder, ginger, garlic and, of course, chilli. Plus it’s so incredibly easy to make; it’s one of those pop everything in the slow cooker numbers and simply leave for a few hours. “Now repeat after me,” Bintu instructs us. “I will go shove everything into my slow cooker and then make time for me, four whole hours for me, me, me…” You have been told!


Lamb Curry from My Golden Pear

Here’s a gorgeous “no-nonsense” lamb curry originating from South Africa, just like its creator Angela from The Golden Pear. It’s a sweet and spicy combination of punchy flavours – garlic, ginger, curry powder, chilli, apricot and cinnamon. Lamb with fruit and cinnamon is a fantastic combination – I really look forward to trying this one out on my family.

Peanut Plantain Soup

Plantain Peanut Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

This soup has gone right to the top of my ‘must make’ list. It originates from Africa and wherever African slaves were transported, you’ll find a version of this peanut soup. As well as plantain, it also features okra and green beans and a whole heap of tasty spices, and looks like the perfect dish to warm you up on a chilly night.

sicillian style spicy beef pasta

Sicilian Style Beef Chilli Pasta from Spurs Cook

How about this for a hearty pasta supper, with big chunks of tender, melt-in-the-mouth beef and packed full of spicy flavours? An easy-to-cook, one pot wonder you can stick in the slow cooker in the morning for a wonderfully satisfying meal all ready and waiting for you when you get back from work in the evening. Sounds good to me!


Cheryl’s Paella from Bangers & Mash

Here’s my mum’s take on a Spanish paella. It’s incredibly moreish and very, very tasty with an extra kick from some fiery red chilli. It’s not exactly a traditional paella, but completely gorgeous nonetheless.

chocolate chestnut spiced loaf

Chocolate & Chestnut Spiced Loaf from Blue Kitchen Bakes

While I’ve seen chocolate and chilli come together in all kinds of dishes, I’ve never seen them together in a bread, and a savoury bread and that. But I am completely intrigued by the idea and will definitely have to give this bread recipe from Jen at Blue Kitchen Bakes a whirl very soon.

vegan spiced parsnip samosa pies

Vegan Spiced Parsnip Samosa Pies from Allotment 2 Kitchen

If you ask me, parsnips and spices are a match made in heaven, and these cute little samosa pies look absolutely heavenly. These would be lovely for lunchboxes or picnics (dreaming of warmer weather) and I think they’d make a splendid addition to any buffet table this Christmas time.


Pork Meatballs and Pasta from Searching for Spice

Pasta with meatballs is my idea of the perfect comfort food, especially with the addition of a little chilli to heat things up a bit. And this entry from Corina at Searching for Spice looks like just the kind of bowl of meatball loveliness I could dive straight into.

Creamy Vegetable Soup

Creamy Vegetable Soup from Chef Mireille’s Global Creations

Here’s another beautifully spiced soup, this time from Chef Mireille in New York. It’s a delicious way to use up vegetables lurking in the fridge, and using crispy fried slices of sweet potato as a garnish is an excellent finishing touch.

Tagliatelle with liver text web

Tagliatelle with Lamb’s Liver from Bangers & Mash

My next offering is another spicy pasta dish, which I came up with for the £3 Cooking Challenge in support of the food charity The Trussell Trust. Chillies are a great way to add flavour to a dish when you’re on a tight budget.

smoked mozzarella and chipotle cornbread

Smoked Mozzarella & Chipotle Cornbread from Fromage Homage

This is such a fantastically evocative entry, with its talk of campfires and cowboys. While I’m not much of a camper, I can quite easily imagine sitting beneath the stars beside a roaring bonfire, tucking into this scrummy, cheesy cornbread as someone serenades me on a ukulele!

chilli con carne

Chilli con Carne from Jibber Jabber UK

I was hoping someone would enter a chilli con carne this month, as it’s one of my all-time favourite chilli dishes, and Ness from Jibber Jabber UK has come up trumps. She describes it as the perfect Friday night meal for sharing with friends and family: “big bowls and happy memories.” Serve me a big bowlful of this chilli con carne and I’d be very happy indeed.


Luchito Honey Glazed Ham from Eat Your Veg

There is something just so satisfying about baking and glazing your own ham, and the idea of using a chilli-flavoured honey for the glaze has me practically drooling. I tried Luchito Honey recently in a fruit crumble and can vouch for the fact it is quite delicious. This would be a great way to prepare your ham this Christmas.


Winter Root Soup with Spiced Tadka from Cook Eat Write

Stacey’s spicy soup looks like a hug in a bowl but it is the spiced tadka, with caraway, paprika, garlic, parsley and chilli, that I really want to try. Next time I make a soup, I’ll definitely be preparing some tadka to drizzle on top. Oh yes!

chilli beef pie

Chilli Beef Pie with Spicy Potato Wedges from Bangers & Mash

I recently got my mitts on a copy of the Higgidy Cookbook and this chilli beef pie was the first recipe I tried. It is absolutely delicious and the idea of topping a stew with crispy wedges is truly inspired. I can’t wait to work my way through the other dishes in this book.


Joe’s Homemade Baked Beans from Eat Your Veg

Don’t you think these wholesome baked beans, flavoured with honey and a generous pinch of chilli flakes, would make a marvellous accompaniment to Fromage Homage’s cornbread above? I’ve wanted to make my own baked beans for ages, and now I think I’ve found the perfect recipe.

chilli with black bean sauce

Chilli Con Carne with Black Bean Sauce from Reluctant Housedad’s Recipe Shed

Here’s another take on one of my favourite dishes. Keith, aka the Reluctant Housedad, has come up with not one, not two but three twists on the classic chilli con carne. He has used chunks of meat instead of the more familiar mince, a spiced butter at the end of cooking, and the unusual addition of Chinese black bean sauce; not an ingredient I’d have thought of using myself but I can imagine it works well. Very well indeed.


Peri Peri Sauce from My Golden Pear

Every food fair I go to I seem to end up with another bottle of chilli sauce to add to my ever-expanding collection at home. But no more. I have decided the next bottle of chilli sauce that makes it into my kitchen will be the homemade variety, and I now have two very tempting recipes to test out, starting with this vibrant peri peri sauce from My Golden Pear featuring no less than 20 hot chillies. My tongue is tingling in anticipation!


Scotch Bonnet Sauce from Tales from the Kitchen Shed

And here’s the other chilli sauce I can’t wait to cook up myself – this time a scotch bonnet sauce from Sarah’s Kitchen Shed, which she made with her own homegrown chillies. My husband is also a keen chilli grower so we have a regular stock of chillies here at Chez Bangers, and what better way to make the most of a chilli glut? Sarah used to sell her sauces to a local Mexican restaurant, so her recipe comes highly recommended!

And the winner is…

I have been enormously impressed by the sheer range and diversity of chilli recipes entered into this first month of The Spice Trail, providing so many hot and spicy dishes to satisfy my chilli addiction for quite some time to come. But there can be only one winner, and I’m very glad it’s not down to me to choose. That unenviable task went to Bryn Davies, one of the directors of Kitchen Nomad.

Over to Bryn…

It was a tough decision but I think the lamb curry from My Golden Pear has to win – it looks delicious!  – closely followed by the honey glazed ham by Eat Your Veg.

So congratulations to Angela at My Golden Pear for winning the inaugural Spice Trail challenge. Drop me a line as soon as you can so we can arrange for your fantastic prize of a Mexican Kitchen Nomad recipe box to be sent out to you. And congratulations also to Lou at Eat Your Veg for coming in a very close second.

The Kitchen Nomad Mexican recipe box

Thank you to everyone that took part this month in the chilli challenge. The theme for December’s Spice Trail challenge will be announced very soon so watch this space!

Round Up: June’s Recipes for Life challenge

June’s Recipes for Life challenge has been making me very hungry. All month long, tempting images of delicious pasta dishes have been popping up on my Twitter timeline or arriving in my inbox.

The challenge this month was to cook simple, healthy dishes with salmon, courgette (zucchini) and pasta. So what did you come up with?


Martin, aka Spurs Cook, kicked things off with his attractive Salmon and Prawn Fishballs in a Tomato and Courgette Sauce The fish balls are served in a rich tomato sauce, flavoured with basil and garlic, giving the salmon and courgettes some ‘show time’.

shetland salmon orzo
As ever the photography from Elizabeth’s Kitchen is just exquisite, and these pictures of her Foil-baked Shetland Salmon with Orzo & Courgette Ribbons are no exception. The courgette ribbons are a simple way to create a very sophisticated and elegant looking dish.

While it might feature smoked salmon, normally considered a bit of a luxury treat, Blue Kitchen Bakes’ Smoked Salmon, Courgette (Zucchini) & Dill Pasta is an economical and satisfying dish, featuring value brand smoked salmon trimmings which totally suit Jen’s student budget.


Another dish to make the most of these supermarket trimmings is this Smoked Salmon and Courgette (Zucchini) Pasta from JibberJabberUK. It’s a lovely light and summery pasta dish and I do like the idea of grating the courgette. Will be trying that tip very soon…

salmon cannelloni
Helen from The Crazy Kitchen created these simply gorgeous Salmon Canneloni, despite not being much of a fan of fish herself. Helen’s husband was rather happy with the choice of ingredients though, and I’d be more than happy if this was served up for me!

Party nibbles weren’t really something I expected to see this month, but these Smoked Salmon, Raw Courgette (Zucchini) and Spearmint Cannelloni Bites from On Top of Spaghetti were a very welcome surprise entry. They formed part of an amazing birthday party spread prepared by Eleni for the The Mister, and I love the sound of the minty, lemony flavour combination.

Carbonaras are rather popular at Chez Foti. Here at Bangers & Mash, we’re rather partial to Louisa’s sausage and courgette carbonara. For this challenge, Louisa has come up with a Smoked Salmon and Courgette Carbonara, which looks all set to become another family favourite for us too.

Spurs Cook delivered another very tasty looking dish with his Angel Hair Pasta with Salmon and Courgettes. I like the idea of the salmon with the smoky pancetta – yum!

Next is this wonderful Warm Pasta Salad with Courgette & Herbs from Sarah at The Garden Deli. Now as you probably know, Sarah is vegetarian so salmon isn’t an ideal ingredient for her. So we agreed she could enter her salad featuring the other two ingredients, and I’d have a go at making it to ensure it worked with salmon too. And indeed it did. It’s a great mix of flavours, especially with all those fresh herbs. Above you’ll see Sarah’s version sans salmon, and mine below avec.

warm pasta and salmon salad

I had to play a little with the ingredients for my take on The Garden Deli’s pasta salad, as I’m allergic to avocado and my friend’s son, who was over for lunch, doesn’t like cheese, so I tried disguising it by grating it and letting it melt in, rather than serve as shavings on top. I also left out the chilli as I was cooking for kids, but next time it’s definitely staying in!

This Smoked Salmon & Courgette Orzotto from Claire at Under The Blue Gum Tree really looks as pretty as a picture, and having made several of her dishes in the past, I know it will taste every bit as good as it looks. Risottos are usually fairly time-consuming, with all that stirring required, but Claire has used orzo pasta for a much speedier alternative. A beautifully delicious and healthy dish – I can’t wait to make it for my family.

salmon and courgette raviolli
Here’s another stunning plate, this time from Rich in Flavour with his Salmon and Courgette Ravioli. I’ve never made my own pasta before, but I think dish might just have inspired me. According to Rich, it’s not all that difficult and is really rather satisfying, plus he didn’t need a special pasta maker either – just a rolling pin. With its creamy salmon filling, this is one I’m definitely bookmarking.

salmon croquettes
Finally, I thought I’d better bring something to the table. So here are my Simple Salmon Croquettes with Courgette & Baby Leek Hollandaise. They really are very easy to make and a great one to get the children involved in making. They love rolling the little fish balls, and their hands are the perfect size. The main ingredient of the balls is tinned salmon, so it’s a fairly cheap and cheerful recipe too.

So who takes the winner’s medal this month? It was no easy task to select a winner this time and as ever I was grateful the decision wasn’t up to me. Tracey and the cookery club at SWALLOW had that unenviable task. So who did they choose…?

Well, they simply couldn’t decide between Blue Kitchen Bakes’ Smoked Salmon, Courgette and Dill Pasta and Spurs Cooks’ Salmon & Prawn Fishballs in Tomato and Courgette Sauce. Tracey and the team at SWALLOW loved both dishes and thought they’d make perfect meals for the group to have a go at in their cookery lessons. So well done to both Jen and Martin – some little prizes will be coming your way in the post very soon!

The three ingredients for July’s Recipes for Life will be announced very soon. In the meantime, if you’d like to find out more about the challenge and the work of SWALLOW take a look here.

Around the world in six suppers

… my big plan is to cook six meals inspired by some of my favourite holiday destinations from years gone by, and share those recipes with you here on the blog. I have some ideas already for dishes I’d like to cook, but if  you have any suggestions for recipes I should try I would love to hear them…

If I’m honest, the idea of a ‘staycation’ has never appealed much to me. For a holiday to be a proper holiday you really need to get away from it all, don’t you?

I adore exploring new destinations as well as returning to much loved haunts; sampling the local cuisine, relaxing by a pool with a good book or acting like a Japanese tourist and fitting in as many sights as I can in a single day.

On holiday in France with Jess and Mia

Admittedly, holidays have changed quite a bit since having children. We’ve been forced to slow down and plan ahead much more carefully.

I remember our first holiday abroad with Jessie when she was just learning to walk. With another couple and their young daughter we rented a beautiful villa in Tuscany. It would have been amazing, if it hadn’t been for the unfenced pool and marble staircases and sheer drop down what seemed like a mini cliff face at the bottom of the garden, oh and all the prickly rose bushes scattered around the stunning garden. Nansi and I were having near heart attacks every five minutes as our plucky girls explored and stumbled their way around the place. Not a relaxing holiday. But a massive lesson learned on the need to check out how family-friendly your holiday accommodation will be.

Sadly it looks increasingly likely we won’t be having a family holiday this year. My husband has quit his job and is retraining in IT, and I’m freelancing part-time on a couple of projects but the income is very up-and-down. And we’ve just been stung by some rather steep vets’ bills. So a staycation it might just have to be.

But I’m not going to let that get me down. Oh no, not me. So while I might read about other’s plans to fly off to far-flung foreign destinations, I won’t get jealous. We live in lovely Somerset after all. There’s so much to do right here on our doorstep, isn’t there? How many tourists flock to this part of the world every year to get away from it all, and here we are already!

And if I can’t go off to see the world this year, well I’ll just have to bring the world to our corner of Somerset.

Over the six weeks of the school holidays, my big plan is to cook six meals inspired by some of my favourite holiday destinations from years gone by, and share those recipes with you here on the blog. I have some ideas already for dishes I’d like to cook, but if  you have any suggestions for recipes I should try I would love to hear them. Even better if they appear on your blog as then I can easily link up with them too.

In no particular order, the places I’ll be visiting on my culinary world tour are:

Barcelona: when I went inter-railing with my best friend Ruth after our A-levels, this had to be my favourite city. The food, the beer, the Gaudi, the boys…

New York: I have very fond memories of visiting New York with my Mum and sister Elly when I was about 12 years old. I remember Mum bartering with a bloke on a street corner selling bangles and an Italian waiter chasing us down the street as we hadn’t left a tip!

Northumberland: I spent some of my childhood just outside Newcastle and enjoyed many an idyllic day out playing on the beautiful beaches, visiting the spooky castles and wandering along Hadrian’s Wall. I can’t wait to take my husband and children there sometime soon.

Penang: My Mum was born on the Malaysian island of Penang and I think it is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. And the food isn’t bad either!

Rio de Janeiro: one of my jammiest PR jollies ever was to take a group of journalists to Brazil for a tour of an aircraft factory. The tour lasted half a day but we had to stay a week because of flight availability. What a shame! We had a fantastic time in Rio and Sao Paulo and I’m desperate to get back there again one day.

Mystery destination: I haven’t quite decided on my final destination. I’ve been considering Turkey and Italy, or perhaps Bordeaux or Greece. Or how about Norway or Sweden? I’ve had wonderful times in each of these countries but whose food should I try to recreate in the final week of my staycation? Please let me know where you think I should head to!

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 2

I’m so happy to report a fortnight of consistent highs in the Bangers & Mash kitchen. I think I’m getting better at tackling more adventurous dishes at the weekend when I have more time, and keeping things very, very simple on the more hectic week days.

There was an almost-low at the weekend when my butternut squash gnocchi threatened to go pear-shaped at the last-minute. I’d spent an age preparing the squash and potato: first baking the veggies; passing it through a sieve before making the dumplings; gently simmering; and finally frying off. Of course when it came to the frying stage, my non-stick frying pan was in the dishwasher so I resorted to the non-non-stick pan.  And my gorgeous little dumplings instantly stuck to the pan and turned to mush. Quite infuriating. However, I don’t give in that easily.

Butternut squash gnocchi – so nearly a disaster but turned out quite gorgeous in the end

I retrieved the expensive frying pan and started again, and all the effort was worth it. A beautiful dish but quite a faff! I’ll post the recipe soon, but make sure you have a whole afternoon free if you fancy trying it out.

So on to singling out some of the highs. First up was a Thai-style cauliflower soup with coriander garlic bread. This made a perfect easy supper for a Meat Free Monday. It’s not one of the prettiest dishes I’ve ever come across but it tasted so good. My Mum wants the recipe, so I’m under orders to post it very soon on the blog.

Thai-style cauliflower soup with coriander and garlic bread

My Dad and Step-Mum came to stay for the weekend so I cooked wild garlic risotto again, after making them forage for the ingredients with the kids en route to a spot of Pooh Sticks. It seemed to go down very well. I followed it up with a simple plum and stem ginger fool, using Greek yoghurt instead of double cream, and it was absolutely delicious.

Plum and stem ginger fool, made with Greek yoghurt instead of double cream

A perfect dish for a busy week night is this grilled chicken parmesan from Karista’s Kitchen. Very simple grilled chicken breast with mozzarella (slightly confused about where the parmesan was though), which I served with steamed rice and stir-fried spring greens. I think this one could become a bit of a staple mid-week supper.

Grilled chicken parmesan (or should that be mozzarella?) from Karista’s Kitchen

Then there was the fantastically easy asparagus with poached eggs. What more need I say? New season asparagus with dippy eggs. Perfect.

A super speedy mid-week supper: asparagus with poached egg

Although this blog is called Bangers & Mash, I’m conscious I haven’t posted nearly enough sausage-related recipes, despite them being fairly fundamental to our family food. This week I made two very tasty but very different banger-based meals, showing the brilliant versatility of the humble sausage. The first was a quick and easy sausage and fennel bake, and the second was an indulgent slow-cooked spicy sausage penne, which I cooked when friends came over for dinner on Saturday night. Very good with a couple of bottles of red wine.

Sausage and fennel bake
Slow-cooked spicy sausage penne

Now, over to the last fortnight’s meal plans…

Monday 16 April
Lunch: rice salad
Dinner: kids – ratatouille and rice (F) adults – Thai-style cauliflower soup and coriander garlic bread 

Tuesday 17 April
Lunch: tarragon chicken pasta (F)
Dinner: kids – fish fingers, chips and peas (F) adults – purple sprouting broccoli with Thai dressing

Wednesday 18 April
Lunch: sweet pepper and mushroom cous cous 
Dinner: kids – salmon fish cakes (F) adults – Chinese sausage and noodle soup

Thursday 19 April
Lunch: salad wraps
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice (F) adults – steamed asparagus and dippy poached eggs

Friday 20 April
Lunch: pasta salad
Dinner: cottage pie

Saturday 21 April
Lunch: bread and cheese
Dinner: wild garlic risotto and salad; plum and stem ginger fool

Sunday 22 April
Lunch: spaghetti carbonara and salad 
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 23 April
Lunch: cheese and chutney rolls
Dinner: cottage pie (leftovers from Friday)

Tuesday 24 April
Lunch: red slaw (recipe to follow)
Dinner: kids – ratatouille and rice adults – grilled chicken parmesan

Wednesday 25 April
Lunch: rice and chicken salad
Dinner: pork, black pudding and apple pie (F)

Thursday 26 April
Lunch: ham and salad rolls
Dinner: baked sausages and fennel

Friday 27 April
Lunch: carrot and coriander soup
Dinner: spicy spinach and potato, chapatis and raita

Saturday 28 April
Lunch: falafels, pitta bread, tzatsiki and salad
Dinner: slow-cooked spicy sausage penne; rhubarb and stem ginger fool

Sunday 29 April
Lunch: butternut squash gnocchi with garlic butter
Dinner: bread and cheese

F = from freezer

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 1

There have been lots of highs and not too many lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen in recent weeks.

I’ll get the lows out of the way first.

The first  was a dish that really should have been too easy to mess up: a simple Swiss chard and potato tortilla. Then I went and left it in the oven just a tad too long and the egg turned to dry rubber. Not nice. But lesson learned for next time.

More disappointing though was the fact I messed up my husband’s birthday cake. He requested a boston creme pie from Nigella’s How to be a Domestic Goddess. I’ve had a few baking successes recently and so perhaps I got a little cocky and over-ambitious.

Boston creme pie – but where did all the filling go?!

Well, the cake and ganache were delicious, but the creme anglaise filling was an absolute disaster. I should have known it wasn’t thick enough but I was in a rush and used it anyway. So when I put the second tier on top, it all slowly spilled out to leave a dry cake. Ah well, another lesson learned.

But let’s forget about those blips and move on to the  highlights. First on the list is a lovely springtime dish using ingredients foraged from the local hedges – wild garlic risotto. This was so good I’m making it again this weekend when my Dad and Step-Mum come to stay.

Wild and free – wild garlic risotto!

Who doesn’t love a good Sunday roast? Especially when it’s delicious free range pork with proper salty crackling, lashings of apple sauce and a cheesy leek bake on the side. This is what I made for my husband’s birthday meal on Easter Sunday. So although I ruined the pudding, he couldn’t complain too much because the main course had been so tasty!

Roast pork and crackling

Sometimes it’s the most basic meals that turn out be the tastiest. One Monday evening I cooked us all a super speedy supper of stir-fried spring greens with noodles. Something seemingly worthy and virtuous was also exceptionally appetising, thanks to lots of ginger, garlic, Chinese rice wine, black vinegar and soy sauce.

Stir-fried spring greens with noodles

Tarragon is fast becoming one of my favourite herbs. I really like it in chicken dishes, such as the scrummy chicken pasta I made when my good friend Sarah came over during the Easter holidays with her kids. It’s an easy meal which also includes leeks, purple sprouting broccoli and cream cheese.

Tarragon chicken pasta with purple sprouting broccoli and leeks

When a recipe featuring black pudding appeared on my Twitter timeline recently I just had to try it. It was a pork, apple and black pudding pie and the perfect way to use up the leftover roast pork from Sunday lunch. Black pudding is a real guilty pleasure for me. Maybe it’s down to my Dad’s side of the family coming from Lancashire. Anyway the pie was absolutely delicious served with onion gravy and wild garlic mashed potato.

Pork, apple and black pudding pie

Finally to the spicy lamb meatballs. My family adores meatballs but I’ve only ever made them with beef or pork mince. I’ll definitely make this lamb version again, complemented so well by the spices, apricot and fresh mint. Next time I might serve them in warmed pitta bread with salad and tzatsiki.

Spicy lamb meatballs – a firm family favourite

Now onto the meal plans for the last fortnight in full detail…

Monday 2 April
Lunch: rice salad
Dinner: noodles and stir-fried spring greens (recipe coming soon)

Tuesday 3 April
Lunch: baked potatoes
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice (F) adults – chard and potato tortilla

Wednesday 4 April
Lunch: brie and salad rolls 
Dinner: kids – beef casserole and rice (F) adults – bacon and tomato pasta

Thursday 5 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: broccoli, potato and walnut salad with homemade garlic bread

Friday 6 April
Lunch: grilled chicken breast wrapped in garlic with beetroot and nectarine salad
Dinner: carrot and coriander soup

Saturday 7 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: OUT

Sunday 8 April
Lunch: roast pork with apple sauce, roast potatoes and vegetables
Dinner: bread and cheese

Monday 9 April
Lunch: wild garlic risotto and salad
Dinner: sandwiches

Tuesday 10 April
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: kids – tasty chicken rice adults – leek and cheese bake with rosemary crumbs

Wednesday 11 April
Lunch: baked potatoes
Dinner: chicken and mushrooms in cream with rice and steamed broccoli

Thursday 12 April
Lunch: tarragon chicken pasta (recipe to follow)
Dinner: kids – fish fingers, chips and peas adults – garlic mushroom omelette and salad

Friday 13 April
Lunch: cheese rolls
Dinner: spicy lamb meatballs with rice

Saturday 14 April
Lunch: pork, apple and black pudding pie
Dinner: bread and cheese

Sunday 15 April
Lunch: picnic
Dinner: OUT

= from freezer