Category Archives: Recipes and good food ideas

Rustic food for food lovers

cooking today………..

Yes, another busy week looking after animals with the owners away all week, but I love being busy, but not so much love looking after a little Keeshond puppy!!!!  Ruffles the puppy is high maintenance, and I really don’t do high maintenance!!!!!  Anyhow, cooking was on the agenda today, along with cleaning all the floors downstairs from wet dog and puppy!  I have the weekend off, so I hold on to this wonderful thought!

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I prepared Lemon Sole bought fresh from the market in Shaftesbury for their dinner tonight and fresh squid for Saturday Eve…….with my special fried rice that Isabel loves……

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I also made a quiche and a curry beef pie for Sunday eve or a weekend lunch……for the freezer…..

cooking next door 013 - Copy cooking next door 002 - Copy Well, the weekend weather is looking quite appalling, so no chance of a long hike this weekend….I hate walking in soaking rain!!!  We are having lunch out tomorrow over in the village of Marnhull,  at The Crown Inn, a gorgeous old thatched pub with the finest Inglenook fireplace I have ever seen.  A wonderful lot of history in this place and I am certain the fires will be burning beautifully!  Glass art making in the afternoon will be wonderful when the weather is so bleak and I am cooking roast pheasant Saturday eve…….fantastic……..


A great Dorset Saturday in October……………

After an undisturbed lie in this morning and a magnificent brunch of local free range scrambled eggs and bacon, I rang my mum in Australia and got my walking gear on to climb Melbury Hill and the surrounding countryside.  It was magic up there today, clean sunny fresh air……everything I love about living here in Dorset.


Steve made his magnificent lattes then we did some shopping in town before a lovely drive in the countryside…….. stopping off at the village of Marnhull to ‘The Crown,’ a 16th century Thatched pub in the middle of the gorgeous countryside.

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We couldn’t believe our eyes, on the drive back through country lanes, to find a table on the side of the road selling punnets of all sorts of chilli peppers!  What!  Chilli crazy man Steve was in awe!  We bought 3 large punnets, for a pound each….what a steal!  Absolutely amazing and a great end to finish our drive in the countryside.  These chilies will freeze well….whew!!!!

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We’ve added a few of the larger, not so hot chilies to our meal tonight….oven baked organic pork sausages, with caramelised apple, onion, roasted pumpkin and garlic, served with cabbage, cauliflower mash and a wonderful sauce from the tray juices.  Fabulous and what an easy meal………before we are glued to watch ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ tonight!!!!

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Still BBQ weather in the UK….unreal!

Aussie out door lover me adores the sunshine and of course the good old BBQ.  We have had the most amazing mild/warm conditions here in the UK for September and it looks like it will continue until the end of November….what????  Unreal!  So we have a lot of gas left in our BBQ and it makes sense to make the most of these conditions before the cold snap eventually takes over…’s inevitable!

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Home made organic mini lamb burgers made with garlic, rosemary, onion, and spices are simple and quick to cook on the good old BBQ
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home made organic Greek style mini lamb burgers ready for the BBQ…….
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sliced capsicum and onions work wonderfully well with this Greek style BBQ, served with a decent Greek salad and a good dollop and Greek yoghurt…..yummy!
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A good Greek salad with top quality feta cheese……..this is my favourite salad
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Sizzling away happily……
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Thick and creamy Greek yoghurt is dreamy with these organic lamb burgers and my Greek salad


What’s cooking this morning ?

I have the kitchen to myself apart from Basil the lab who is sleeping soundly in front of the aga, after a morning walk and the ruffles the puppy has been put back to bed (whew!) so no interruptions while I get on with my cooking for the house for tonight and the weekend.

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Basil loves his bed near the warm aga….a dogs sleeping paradise in an English country kitchen!
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Beef and mushroom casserole ready for slow cooking in the aga…..

So, as I have been given no instructions again on what is to be cooked, I have taken the initiative and decided a beef casserole would be a good weekend dish and a pie for tonight and one for the freezer would be well recieved…..

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Chicken, leek and bacon pie mix cooling while the pastry is being made!
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Home made short crust pastry will line the pie bases and I will top them with bought puff pastry (too fiddly and time consuming to make my own puff pastry…I have so much ironing to do!!!!)
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pie tins are lined with pastry and puff is ready too…….damn the puppy has woken up and needs to get out for a toilet break!!!!!!
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casserole resting and the pies are out of the aga…….

A great morning, although very hectic and busy when the puppy woke up but I got there in the end!  I think this pie was one of my best yet, made with chicken thighs, leeks, thyme, bacon, white wine, chicken stock, crème fraiche and a little Dijon mustard, finished with freshly chopped parsley.  I was fasting today which made it very hard when I had to taste test this!!!!!

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Puff pastry needs a very hot oven to start with to puff up and start to become golden. I put it on the grid shelf of the aga roasting oven for the first 15 minutes, then placed it in to the baking oven, covered loosely with foil for another 30 minutes for the short crust pastry to cook through thoroughly.

These pies will freeze and reheat extremely well and children love them…..serve with peas and chunky buttered parsley carrots.

Greek Salad and Snags…..still great BBQ weather at the end of September in the UK…..unbelievable!

Well, unbelievable as it may seem the weather un the UK has remained unseasonably warm and there is still some heat in that sun, out of the north easterly winds that is!…….so we are making the most of it……bring on the Aussie BBQ!

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A good Greek Salad has to have great fetta cheese, olives, tomatoes, cucumber, onion and anchovies with a home made dressing of olive oil, lemon juice, mustard and wine vinegar
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Steve is quite the expert now!…..
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Organic sausages from Waitrose with peppers, onions and chilli….great with my Greek salad……
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….and the views are pretty good!……
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very simple but very yummy…..Greek salad with pork snags, peppers and onions……
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the dogs were good entertainment!


Sunday Roast? You bet!

The Autumnal winds and sun shining lower in the sky here in Britain, mid September is making my Aussie bones feel cold, so Sunday Roast Dinner tonight is definitely a warming thing to think about!

Steve halved a Guinea Fowl down the breast bone (put the other half in freezer as this bird easily will feed two souls)  We have some runner beans from The Paddocks in Melbury Abbas and organic carrots, cabbage and some wonderful garlic from the fantastic shop at Ludwell.  Unreal!  I must get cooking……….and time to open an Aussie bottle of red wine!

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Oven ready Guinea Fowl…..prepared with rosemary, garlic, organic west country butter and surrounded by onions, parsnips and Norfolk potatoes.
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This was a decent size Guinea Fowl Steve bought from Waitrose (he always chooses the birds with the bigger breasts! lol! so this one was a beauty, certainly enough to feed two.

Pheasant Pies for Sunday Supper……………..

I have been cooking all week for the ‘big house’ while the owners are away, along with looking after their difficult Keeshond puppy and the very placid Lab and lovely cat.  I picked and gathered plums, apples and pears from the orchard and picked rhubarb from the cutting garden that is growing like what we say in Australia, ‘growing like wildfire!’  Basil the Lab and I have been picking and eating (Basil eating!) blackberries from the village hedgerows.  So, yep, I have been very busy….just the way I like life to be.  I stewed all these ‘a la Jenny style!’ and put them into the freezer for the winter months ahead.  I made a blackberry, apple and rhubarb crumble for Sunday supper for the family when they return from up north.  I also made two pheasant pies, one for their Sunday supper and the other for the freezer.  These had a shortcrust base and a puff pastry top filled tender pheasant breasts, leeks, bacon, pear, juniper berries, thyme and white wine with a hint of single cream.  I hope they like them!

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Oven ready pheasant pies…..
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Basil the Lab was helping me with the washing up!!!
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Pheasant pies just out of the oven…..

Sunday Fish Pie? Why not?

Well, we enjoyed Roast Pheasant last night (the shooting season is almost over) so today a fish pie is on the menu for this evening, made with Haddock, Cod and Salmon.  Steve and I are still nursing colds, but on the improve and it didn’t stop us getting out late this morning for a great walk up Melbury Hill, down into Melbury Abbas and back through Fontmell Down.  It was extremely windy but the sun was shining and I loved all the fresh air and hills!

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We called in to the Talbert Inn which has reopened in a near by village for a drink this afternoon and the atmosphere was terrific.  I think we will return for a meal for sure as the menu and specials board sounded fantastic and the food we saw coming out looked very good.  We drove back to the barn to watch the rugby and to prepare the fish pie……and to pick some more fresh Daphne!!!!

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fish poaching in milk, lemon and spices….
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The sun was still shining and the view out of the kitchen window up to Compton Down was wonderful…..
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leeks, garlic, celery and parsley are sautéed in butter and pure coconut oil….
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Fish and fresh parsley are folded into the creamy leek sauce…….
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Then covered in a blanket of mash potatoes, ready for the oven……

Well, France beat Italy in the Rugby (Thrashed is a better word!!) and we have just opened a chilled bottle of Australian Sauvignon Blanc……this will team wonderfully well with my gluten free, organic fish pie!  It’s been a great Sunday and I feel our colds are turning the corner.  Steve’s cough is so much better…..I think we will be sleeping in the same bed tonight!

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What a great Sunday supper dish….my organic, gluten free fish pie

What’s Cooking?…..Lamb and Rosemary Pie with Organic Rye Pastry……

I have the night off cooking in the big house (just wonderful)  I went over and closed all the necessary curtains before dark, turned down her ladyships bed, put on lights and lit the coal oven burner and stoked it up until no attention was needed.  So, it’s quite nice to cook and have a meal together tonight with my lovely husband!  So what’s cooking?  Well, a lamb and rosemary pie, made with a healthy pastry of half organic rye and white organic flour.  Unreal….walked up and down hills this morning dog walking, so no guilt eating pastry tonight really!

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Oven ready…lamb and rosemary pies made with my special organic rye pastry, made with flour from the local Cann Mill, just out of Shaftesbury in wonderful Dorset.  Steve walked the hills this morning with me and Basil and did the usual impressive rowing workout today, so he is definitely up for this pie!

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home baked lamb and rosemary pies ready to eat!

What’s Cooking?……..

What a fine pair of partridges!!
OK, great…..good start really! Just chop off the head!
So far, so good…..but have to get rid of the cat to another room as he is looking at the feathers with keen interest!
yes, well, this part is ughhh! really quite yucky!!
What a miracle……dressed partridges oven ready…. whew!!
Pumpkin and potato ready to be roasted and served with cabbage and a red wine juniper jus…….a great accompaniment to these beautiful! little partridges.
The Partridges were covered with a Juniper berry and thyme butter then the breasts were covered in bacon and roasted in a hot oven for 22 minutes………


Scottish Venison Pie

Steve came back from the Market Place in Shaftesbury on Thursday with goodies galore! (again)  He bought the usual magnificent organic vegetables, local cheese from ‘The cheese man’ and gorgeous Cod from the fish monger…..along with some wild Venison!  I love Venison… lean, rich and wonderful!  (like an ideal husband!!)   I found a great recipe on the internet for ‘Scottish Venison Pie.’  As it turned out, the flavours in this pie are dreamy, perfect for a late Sunday lunch in Autumn.  I’ll make my own short crust pastry, made with Stoates’s Stoneground Organic Rye Flour from Cann Mills down the road and the wonderful Organic Butter with Anglesey Sea Salt from Brue Valley Farm in Somerset, part of Dutchy Originals range.  I’ll post some more pictures tomorrow………

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What’s cooking?

Well, with cold and flu under control!  (just!) I had an early start next door cooking for tomorrow’s Birthday celebration.  I made a good start, baking away happily…..a spinach and ricotta quiche for a quick light lunch and the the Birthday Cake…..a chocolate and raspberry layer cake.  This will be decorated tomorrow.  How I love Birthdays!  For the Birthday dinner I am cooking Roast Beef with all the trimmings.  Wonderful!

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Just out of the oven….spinach and ricotta cheese quiche
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Home made short crust pastry makes this quiche perfect for a light lunch with salad
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chocolate sponge cakes ready for the oven
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four layers of chocolate sponge are filled with layers of fresh raspberry and Grande Marnier mixture and layers of chocolate ganache, then covered entirely with chocolate ganache……ready to be decorated tomorrow.

My sister Fiona would have a lovely smile on her face looking at my rough attempt at this choc cake! (she is the most divine cake maker on this planet!)   Anyway, it’s made with good intentions and I am sure the lady of the house will love my efforts.

Thank God for You Tube………

You Tube has done me another favour again!  I have never cleaned and prepared squid before, so the only solution for me was to find how on You Tube.  I wasn’t looking forward to this pretty messy task, but I was up for it!

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I’m just cooking for Isabel tonight and she absolutely adores fried squid.  I wonder if she would love it as much if she had to do what I just managed?  I managed very well indeed, I have to say with a smile!

Perfect Poached Eggs……..

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Mat Follas’s Asparagus and Poached Egg Salad


Thank you Mat Follas for sharing your trick to cook the perfect poached egg.  This months issue of the Marshwood Vale Magazine, Mat has this lovely recipe for an Asparagus and Poached Eggs Salad that serves two.  His trick to hold the egg together while cooking, is to place the egg (the whole egg…with shell on) into a pot of simmering water for ten seconds, then in cold water to cool a little for handling.  He then cracks the egg into simmering water for three minutes.  He suggests adding vinegar to the water, but my egg turned out perfectly without this. Absolutely brilliant tip!

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My ‘no fail’ poached egg, thanks to Mat Follas


Chicken, Leek and Mushroom Pie – The Zone Diet by Dr. Barry Sears, PH.D.

The Zone Diet, by Dr. Barry Sears is all about balancing the ratio of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat in our diets.  By achieving this correct balance in each of of daily meals, we enter The Zone,  where our body and mind work together at their ultimate state.  Dr. Barry Sears, a pioneer in biotechnology, has scientifically researched The Zone eating plan and it has been extremely beneficial for elite athletes as it provides a metabolic state in which the body works at peak efficiency.  Dr. Barry Sears has discovered that by eating this balanced ratio of Carbohydrates, Protein and Fat in our diet, our hormone and insulin levels become normal, creating significant health benefits.

So, complicated as it seems, once put into practice, it is quite an easy plan to follow.  This pie recipe has followed all the rules…..measuring all the carbs, proteins and fats in all the ingredients used and of course in the correct ratio….Carbohydrate 4g, Protein 3g and fat 1.5g.

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I use skinless roasted chicken meat in this pie and stir it through the sauce at the end so it remains lovely and moist. Parsley and a little lemon juice is added at this stage too.

I use wholemeal pastry (125 grams) with only a tablespoon of oil, along with some chilled water, it makes a pretty good pastry, following the rules of The Zone.

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The Zone chicken, leek and mushrooms pie mix waiting to be covered by a blanket of pastry.

This is a pretty healthy dish that is really quick and easy to make.  Just cover with pastry and cook on a medium heat in the oven antil well browned.  I will serve this with some steamed broccoli.  Yummy….we have created a perfect in The Zone meal!!!!

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The Zone, chicken, leek and mushroom pie with wholemeal pastry…..yummy!


Steak and Guinness Pie on Saint Patrick’s Day? Why not………….

I am a great baker and St Patrick’s Day is looming….and the weather is still as horrible and depressing as ever!….so what better meal is there, than a traditional Irish stew or pie, after a couple of pints with friends at the local?  Comfort food heaven!

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This is a recipe that I have adapted over the years, made with Guinness or Stout, along with some top quality stewing beef, decent beef stock, garlic, onion and fresh rosemary.  I use root vegetables such as parsnips and carrots as they add an earthy, almost sweet quality to this dish.  A good dash of Worcestershire sauce, tomato puree and a tiny spoon of honey complete this sensational, flavoursome pie.  It can be eaten as a delicious stew, or top it with some pastry to transform it  into a stunning hearty pie.  I will make rough puff pastry, made with wholemeal flour to top this luscious mix with and serve accompanied with  seasonal steamed greens.

Farmhouse Pork Sausages, Asian Style with Onions, Mushrooms and Garlic.

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For a very quick, delicious meal this recipe is a winner.  Good quality pork sausages are a must, (we have the best butcher here in Nether Stowey, Somerset)  along with some decent mushrooms, onions and garlic.  Everything is oven baked in the same dish with a drizzle of olive oil, soy sauce, oyster sauce, chili and coriander or parsley.  A squeeze of fresh lemon juice towards the end adds another dimension.  Serve with rice and perhaps some wilted greens, this is a very satisfying simple dish.

Shortcrust Cornish Pasties

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My home made Cornish Pasties, just out of the oven

These wonderful pasties are made with my own shortcrust pastry.  They are ideal to take on a long hike as they carry very well.  Whether served with a crisp green salad in the warmer months or some lovely steamed greens in the winter, they are an easy and satisfying meal.  I will post the recipe soon!

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Shortcrust Cornish Pasties cooling on a baking rack


Home Baked Granary Loaf with Sunflower Seeds


This is one of my favourite loaves of bread to make, Granary bread with sunflower seeds.  The addition of sunflower seeds gives the bread a lovely nutty finish and it toasts beautifully.  The best granary flour I have ever used was from the gorgeous little bakery at Maiden Newton, Dorset.  This place, sadly has closed down, but we have great memories of this little shop.

Winter Root Vegetable Soup with Crusty Home Baked Wholemeal Rolls


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Two of the three gorgeous horses at Pear Tree Farm, Over Stowey, Somerset. Viv looks after them so well!

Well the sun is shining and the snow is starting to melt away…….. and it’s perfect weather for soup.  This is a wonderful, quick and delicious soup of mine.  Just chop us some good fresh winter vegetables (I use parsnip, swede, carrot, a small potato, along with onion and garlic)  Season and let simmer away in some decent chicken stock until tender, then blend up and serve piping hot!

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I made a batch of wholemeal rolls up this morning which will go beautifully with the soup for lunch.  These rolls freeze well and will be great to take on our road trip on Sunday to The Cotswolds.


Dorset Blue Vinny Pasta Bake……….

Well weather conditions remain bleak here in England, but hey at least all the flooding has stopped…..snow isn’t so bad!  I ordered some Dorset Blue Vinny cheese from our local butchers, Faun and Co. in Nether Stowey.  This low cal, unpasteurised blue cheese is made from skim milk at Woodbridge Farm in Dorset and it is absolutely gorgeous.  Tonight I’ll make a pasta dish fit for any restaurant!  Locally grown leeks team well with this blue cheese and the addition of mushrooms make it quite a substantial meal without meat.

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Start by sauteing off some sliced mushrooms and leeks in a little olive oil and season with cracked pepper and a little sea salt.  Add a little fresh garlic and stir for another minute.  Crumble some Dorset Blue Vinny cheese into this pan (not too much as this is quite a powerful flavoured cheese)  let the cheese melt into the leek and mushrooms gently, adding a little milk, a bit at a time to create a wonderful, creamy sauce.  If you really want to be decadent, double cream instead of milk would work well here too, but we don’t want a calorie blowout here! so we use skim milk which does a wonderful job.  Now stir in some freshly chopped parsley….this is essential as it freshens up  the sauce and compliments the richness of the cheese.  Taste and season if required.

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I toss some cooked wholewheat Penne through this sauce and transfer to an ovenproof dish then top with a mix of breadcrumbs, parsley and a little grated cheddar.  Cook in a medium oven until just browned.

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This is an extremely quick and easy dish to make and can be made well in advance to just cook in the oven to serve.  A side serve of green peas works well with this dish, but any green veg would too and even a crisp green salad would be nice too.

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Welsh Dragon Sausages with Caramelised Onion Gravy, Parsley Mash Potato and Winter Cabbage

Yes, January in Britain can be very miserable, but winter is all about making the most of all that lovely comfort food and if you make the most of local winter greens and support your village butcher, food is heavenly in this climate.  Our butcher Faun and Co. in Nether Stowey, Somerset, makes some really decent sausages.  This week we are trying their Welsh Dragon Sausages, made with a hint of the good old chili along with some other secret ingredients they wouldn’t divulge, but none the less, they will make a wonderful heart warming, healthy meal served with some great veg and decent gravy.

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Ready to cook……Welsh Dragon Snags cooked with onions, garlic and chili……wonderful thank you, Faun and Co. butchers, Nether Stowey
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Ready to eat….Welsh Dragon Sausages, gravy and parsley mash. We’ll serve this with winter cabbage and peas.

The Granary Roast Pork………….. Roasted Pork Shoulder with Crackling, Garlic Potatoes, Parsnips, Savoy Cabbage and Peas.

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One of the well looked after horses at the stables outside The Granary, Pear Tree Farm, Over Sowey, Somerset

It’s a bitterly cold Sunday early eve, the snow outside is sitting there, still frozen and what better time than this to divulge a well cooked Sunday Roast Dinner for two, with candles and a decent red wine!

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We haven’t had roast pork for so long, and I think British pork is excellent.  Sadly for the farming community, it’s not a popular choice in this country and although a cheaper alternative to my most favoured roast lamb, if sourced well and cooked correctly, served with some good vegetable accompaniments, it can be a delicious, sensational meal.

I rub the meat all over with olive oil, cracked pepper and a little sea salt.  I lay the meat on a bed of thickly sliced onion and wedge some garlic cloves in there to add flavour.  Fresh sage leaves would be a great addition to this cozy bed for the pork…..but not too many, as sage has a very strong flavour.  I make the fat, which will transform into crackling, as dry as possible then massage salt into the slits I have made.  This will dry it out even more and give it extra crunch in the oven.

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British pork roasting happily away on a delicious bed of sage, onions and garlic, with potatoes and parsnip.

I’m serving this roast with cabbage and peas and a good tasty gravy….wonderful, simple and extremely satisfying……just wish we had completed one of our 20km hikes today as we feel we would deserve this fine meal!  Bon appetite!

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Granary Roast Pork with crackling on a bed of roasted onions and garlic, finished with a flavoursome gravy.