Lights, Camera , wheres the photographer gone…..

Great day yesterday and brilliant to finally be doing a photo shoot in the new space. Photographer Craig Robertson loving the space and fab to try out the new Fisher and Pykel hobs. It was always the plan to use the building for photography shoots as well as cookery classes and events so great to see it in action. The high pitched roof means there is plenty of room to move about he loves getting up high on the ladder to do some overhead shots. Typical though it was a gorgeous day with lovely daylight coming into the building and he goes and decides to block the window and set up all his lights !!

For the love of Crabeye beans….

I picked these beautiful looking dried beans up from my favourite food shop in Manchester called Venus Food . It is is a Turkish, Greek , Mediteranean Supermarket full of fabulous ingredients and I could spend hours browsing the aisles. Crab eye beans may be more known as borlotti beans but also Rosecoco, Saluggia and Roman beans. They have a delicious creaminess and perfect in soups and stews. Cooking dried beans is a lot simpler than you think it just requires a bit of pre planning. They need soaking overnight and so as long as you remember to get them soaking then the cooking part is pretty easy and straight forward. I encourage you to give them a go as they are a lot cheaper than the canned and a small amount of dried beans once soaked goes a long way.

A bit of sun has not only finally encouraged the blossom out but everything else has just come out to play too. The morning dog walk is a great excuse for a bit of foraging and I have been waiting for the wild garlic to finally get underway . Just a modest handful (lets not over harvest it ) is all you need to add to an omelette or stir into a soup. It lends itself to making a brilliant pesto which I added walnuts to instead of pine nuts as they give a real creaminess to the finished pesto. Its delicious stirred into this hearty soup/stew and just looks so goddam good .

Crabeye Bean, Red lentil and Pancetta Soup

Serves 4

100g dried beans such as crabeye, pinto or red kidney beans

2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

70g cubed smoked pancetta

pinch chilli flakes or 1 fresh chilli, finely chopped

1 tsp sweet paprika

350g carrots, (peeled weight) diced

200g red lentils

500g passata

1 tsp runny honey

600ml vegetable stock

For the pesto

Large Handful wild garlic leaves (about 50g)

30g walnuts

glug extra virgin olive oil

3tbsp fresh parmesan

1 Place the beans in a bowl and cover with cold water and leave to soak, covered , over night.

2 Drain the beans and place in a saucepan covered with fresh water about 6 cm above the beans and bring to a simmer and cook for 11/2 hours . Keep an eye on the water level and top up with extra water as you go to stop it drying out .

3 Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion gently for 5 minutes until beginning to soften. Stir in the pancetta and cook for a further 3 – 4 minutes .

4 Add the chilli, paprika and carrots and toss all together. Stir through the red lentils then pour in the passata, honey and stock and stir together well. Simmer gently for 25 – 30 minutes until all very tender .

5 Whilst this is cooking make the pesto – place the wild garlic and walnuts in a  food processor and whiz until you have a coarse paste. Tip out into a bowl and stir in the olive oil and parmesan and a pinch of salt.

6 Drain the cooked beans and stir into the soup then simmer for a further 5 minutes then test for seasoning and add a pinch of salt and some ground black pepper. Serve in bowls with a spoonful of the pesto .


Vegetarian and Vegan Cookery Classes

We are really busy putting together some great classes and events and wanted to let you know about a class I am really excited about. The first of our Vegetarian and Vegan classes starts on Saturday 12th May 10am – 3.30pm and am so thrilled to have on board chef Bex Shindler from The Mindful Kitchen.

The day will be filled with great inspirational vegetarian and vegan recipes packed with fresh seasonal ingredients. Whether it’s a creamy tart or a flavour packed curry we have plenty of ideas, hints, tips and advice for eating a plant based diet.  Bex will be joining us in sharing her wealth of knowledge and experience for truly vibrant, nourishing and delicious food. The Mindful Kitchen is a plant based Catering Service which offers menu development plus public and private events . I can’t wait to do this class with Bex its going to be really interesting and great fun, you will love it! Look forward to seeing you on the 12th.

To book onto the class go to

To read more about Bex and The Mindful Kitchen go to

Something for the Weekend

Friday at last and looking forward to the weekend, but its not all rest and play, we have a  busy week ahead of us, so as I’m getting prepped for next weeks classes i thought i would get you in the mood for the Pie and Tarts class. Hope you enjoy

Spiced Sweet Potato and Tomato pasties

The pastry for these patties is so simple to prepare and the result is a delicous crispy light pastry perfect with the spiced filling.

Makes 6

Prep 25 minutes
Cook 40 minutes

For the pastry

  • 175g butter
  • 300g plain flour

For the filling

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1tsp ground turmeric
  • 1tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • 1/2tsp cayenne pepper
  • 250g sweet potato, cut into 1.5 cm cubes
  • 1tbsp tomato puree
  • 300g tomatoes, chopped roughly
  • small bunch coriander, roughly chopped
  • 4tbsp ricotta
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 2tsp Black onion seeds

1 For the pastry place the butter in the freezer for about 20 minutes until it is very hard. Sift the flour and a pinch of  salt into a mixing bowl. Hold the butter using a piece of parchment paper and coarsley grate it into the flour working quickly. Stir the butter and flour together , sprinkle with about 6 tablespoons of very cold water and mix to make a dough adding a little more water if needed. Wrap in cling film and chill for about 30 minutes.

2 Make the filling by heating the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onion for about 6 – 8 minutes until really softened . Add the garlic and cook for a minute longer.  Stir in the spices and stir well then tip in the sweet potato.

3 Add the tomato puree and cook for a minute before adding the chopped tomatoes and about 150ml of water  and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook for about 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened and the sweet potatoes are softened but still holding there shape. Set aside to cool.

4 When ready to make the pasties roll out half of the pastry (easier to handle if you do it half at a time) and using a  saucer cut out a disc measuring 18cm. Repeat with the remaining pastry until you have 6 discs.

5 Stir the coriander into the sweet potato mixture. Spoon a heaped tablespoon of the mixture onto one side of the pastry disc and top with a tablespoon of the ricotta cheese. Brush the edges of the pastry with a little beaten egg and then fold over the pastry to make a half moon shape sealing the edges either with a fork or pinching the pastry with your finger and thumb. Place on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.

6 Brush the tops of each pastie with a little more beaten egg and sprinkle withonion seeds. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and crispy.