Category Archives: Recipes, cook books and how to…

Chillies Hanging On The Christmas Tree


I love this idea!!!

If you are trying to work out what colour scheme to go for on your christmas tree, or whether to have tinsel or baubles, or both – then how about hanging a selection of dried chillies on your tree, don’t they look amazing?!

There’s a wide variety available in all different colours, shapes and sizes at the South Devon Chilli Farm (buy online at


How to make the perfect Gin & Tonic… and how not to!



… and on that note, oooh will you look at the time, it’s four o’clock and Friday afternoon humn…? 😉

Making the most out of store cupboard olives – Top tips from Celeb Chef Omar Allibhoy


Olives from Spain has teamed up with celebrity chef Omar Allibhoy, as seen on This Morning and Gordon Ramsay’s Best Restaurant, to inspire us Brits to cook authentic Spanish dishes more often.  To help you experiment in the kitchen, Omar has kindly offered gastrogossip some top olive tips and a yummy recipe – enjoy!

Top tips from Omar Allibhoy on making the most of Spanish Olives:

  • Olives can be enjoyed at any time of the day
  • Use them to complement a glass of Sherry, a Dry Martini or any other dry cocktail
  • Have as a pre-dinner snack or an entrée
  • Olives are equally impressive served as part of a main meal in any hot dish – turkey, chicken, duck, rice, veal – as well as many other gastronomic specialities which are popular all around the world
  • Olives are a common salad ingredient because of their freshness and natural characteristics. They go especially well in Mediterranean-style salads with other flavoursome ingredients like tuna, onions, anchovies and capsicums
  • Cold meat selections are a favourite across the globe and olives are a great accompaniment because they bring out the flavour of the meats
  • Roasts / casseroles / tagines: These kinds of slow-cooked dishes are internationally popular and olives are frequently added to give them a touch of the Mediterranean!
  • Of course there are many other things that olives can be served with too, so why don’t you open a jar and experiment today!

Lubina a la sarten con aceitunas, piquillos y fino. (Pan fried sea bass with Spanish olives, piquillo peppers and dry Sherry wine)

4 pieces of seabass of 150g each.

1 tin of pitted purple Spanish olives

1 tin of piquillo pepers

1 handfull of Spanish Caperberries

100 ml of Spanish olive oil

4 garlic cloves

1 small glass of dry Fino wine

Some cracked black pepper

A pinch of salt

2 sprigs of flat parsley

Wash and pat dry your seabass fillets and put to one side to pan fry later. Open the tin of piquillo peppers, half them and remove any seeds. Drain the caperberries and olives put aside also.

Peel and thinly slice the garlic cloves, fry over a medium heat until golden with half of the olive oil. Add the piquillo peppers and sauté for 30 seconds. Add the purple Spanish olives and caperberries and sauté again. Season with salt and pepper and add a splash of Fino wine. Let the alcohol burn and sprinkle a bit of finely chopped parsley. Taste the seasoning and alter if needed.

Preheat a non stick pan over a high heat and pour a bit of Spanish olive oil. Pan fry the seabass fillets skin side down until ¾ done, turn over, season the skin with some salt flakes and cook for one more minute.

Serve a bed of the Spanish olives accompaniment and place the seabass on the top, drizzle a bit of olive oil to finish off.

Follow Spanish Olives on Twitter for all the latest news and ideas on how to incorporate them into your cooking @Taste_of_Spain or find them on Facebook

Guest recipes from Thomasina Miers; Poussin, fig and rocket salad & Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce


Former MasterChef winner Thomasina Miers has just created a range of recipes for the Travel Cookbook, and has kindly donated some to Gastro Gossip. The Travel Cookbook aims to inspire people who have taken a self-catered holiday home into immersing themselves and experimenting with local cuisine whilst away.

Thomasina, inspired from her travels around the Americas, has contributed six recipes to the online Travel Cookbook, all of which are easy to make at home, but of course, taste much better when created from locally sourced ingredients.

Thomasina Miers says, “Travelling and cooking are two of my biggest passions in life. There is nothing I enjoy more on holiday than exploring the local markets and trying local produce to find inspiration for my next family meal, so access to a kitchen is essential. Holiday home rentals are ideal, as they have all the space and facilities I need to store and experiment with my new-found ingredients. ”

All of Thomasina’s recipes are available at, along with hundreds of other recipes and tips that people have picked up on their travels around the world, but I have included my two favourite below to whet your apetite.

Poussin, fig and rocket salad

Spatchcocking a bird means very simply cutting out its backbone and flattening it out so that you can grill it and get as much of the delicious, marinaded skin in contact with flame or heat to get gorgeous, crispy skin and masses of flavour.  Ask your butcher to do it or try it yourself, or just cut up the poussin in pieces before you cook it on the grill.  Salting the bird the day before improves the flavour hugely, giving you a juicy succulent bird.  This is a glorious salad for a sunny day.

Feeds 4

2 poussin

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 tbsp grappa, eau de vie or vin santo

A generous handful of thyme leaves

¼ loaf of country-style bread or sourdough, torn into roughly shaped, large crumbs

12 rashers of thinly sliced streaky bacon or pancetta

6 very ripe figs

Two large handfuls of rocket, washed

For the dressing

1 shallot, finely chopped

2-3 tbsp red wine vinegar/balsamic vinegar (or a mix of the two)

Extra virgin olive oil

1 very ripe fig

To spatchcock the bird, take a pair of sturdy scissors (meat scissors are designed for this job) and cut all along the length of the backbone on both sides to cut out.  Now place the bird on a chopping board and press down sharply and firmly onto the breastbone so that the bird flattens out.  Mix the sea salt, thyme leaves and black pepper together.  Sprinkle the bird with the alcohol, rub with the salt mix and leave to season overnight.

When you are ready to eat, make the dressing by mashing the fig up with the vinegar and mixing it in with the shallot and seasoning well with salt and pepper.  Heat a griddle-pan or barbeque and when either are hot enough, cook the poussin skin side down first until golden, about 10 minutes and then turn and cook on the other side until the breast is just cooked.  Take the bird off the heat to rest in a warm place and cut off the thighs and continue to cook them for another few minutes until the meat is no longer pink.  Meanwhile, toss the torn bread in olive oil, season with salt and pepper and fry, tossing frequently in a frying pan over a medium-low heat until golden and crunchy all over.  Fry the bacon until crisp.

Slice the figs.  Arrange the rocket leaves in a salad bowl and scatter with the breadcrumbs and fig slices.  Mix 4-5 tablespoons of olive oil into the vinegar.  Carve the chicken into nice big chunks and arrange over the salad with the crispy bacon.  Dress with the figgy vinaigrette and serve at once.

Grilled steak with chimichurri sauce

This is a great dish for the bbq or on a griddle pan if you’re cooking indoors.  The meat has a delicious charcoal-grilled flavour and is even better if you let it marinate for a bit to let those lovely garlicky, smoky flavours really penetrate the meat.  If you get the chance, buy the herbs in a local market where you’ll get huge fresh handfuls.

feeds 6-8

2kg piece of sirloin steak or T-bone steak

Fresh watercress or rocket

For the marinade

3 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed to release the skins

100ml extra virgin olive oil

2 hot red dried chillies, crumbled

A small handful of fresh thyme

½ teaspoon hot smoked paprika

1 lemon, squeezed

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the salsa

2 large bunches flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked

1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked

4 tablespoons sherry/red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2-3 garlic cloves, ground into a course paste

2 teaspoons ground cumin

2 teaspoon hot smoked paprika

150ml olive oil

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

In a pestle and mortar bask the garlic together with the salt, pepper, paprika, thyme and chillies until you have a rough paste.  Add the lemon juice and olive oil and rub well into the steak.  Refrigerate for up to 24 hours, the longer you can the more flavour you get in the steak.

For the sauce, coarsely chop the herbs, and pound together in a pestle and mortar until well mixed, with some of the olive oil to loosen.  Add the rest of the ingredients, including the rest of the oil and season well to taste.

Take the meat out of the fridge at least half an hour before cooking, to allow it to come back up to room temperature.  Wipe the excess marinade off the steak and bring the bbq or griddle pan to a smoking hot heat and cook to your liking.  If you were in Argentina, this would be rare!  Make sure you let the meat rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking, just on a chopping board, loosely covered in some foil.

Carve up thin slices and serve on a wooden board or heated plate, with the sauce and a peppery salad.  There will be lots to go around!  This is delicious with steamed potatoes and lots of crusty bread.

Cooking with potatoes: tips and advice from Jean-Christophe Novelli


As potatoes are the perfect base for any healthy and delicious meal, and are extremely quick and easy to cook, Jean-Christophe Novelli has been working with the Potato Council to create a selection of simple but delicious recipes; and to find them all you need to do is go to his Many faces of potatoes website.

The kind of recipes you can expect to find on the site include: Potato and red pepper frittata, potato and feta garlic bake, potato crusted pizza, easy peasy gratin potatoes, delicately spicy pekora and hundreds more!

Even better, to help you on your way to potato heaven, Noveli has also put together a few helpful potato cooking tips:

  • To cut down on cooking time for jacket potatoes, microwave them before you put them in the oven
  • You can shave 15-20 minutes off the time that it takes to bake a potato in the oven by inserting a metal skewer or baking prong through the centre of the potato
  • To make the ultimate light and fluffy mash, heat the milk before adding it to your potatoes – delicious! (This one I am less sure of, as I am against adding milk to mash, but who am I to argue with such a potato don?!…)
  • Leave the skin on your potatoes wherever possible as they contain lots of flavour and goodness, but if you have to peel them, don’t throw the peelings away; toss them in a little olive oil and roast in the oven for delicious crisps that are perfect for dipping!

“Potatoes are such a versatile ingredient – I use them very frequently in so many of my recipes. Food trends come and go but potatoes are an important part of british life”, comments Novelli.  “An average serving of potatoes contains less than 1% fat, and many potato dishes take only 20 minutes to prepare and cook – making them perfect for busy mums and professionals,” adds Novelli.

To whet your appetite, here’s a quick recipe, courtesy of JCN himself :

Potato Salad with Pan Seared Tuna (Serves 4)

50g of Tuna Steak per Person  
12 Baby New potatoes 
300g Green Beans 
2 Tomatoes
4 Eggs (hard-boiled) 
½ Pepper 
4 Baby Gem Lettuces 
16 Black Olives 
8 Anchovy Fillets 
Good French vinaigrette to dress

To make your own dressing: 
10ml White Wine Vinegar 
100ml of Olive Oil or Rapeseed
1 tsp of Dijon Mustard 
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
Sea Salt & Cayenne Pepper 

To Dress: 
Chervil (chopped) 


·        Wash the baby potatoes and cook in salted water for 10 minutes and check they’re ready with a paring knife. Prepare the green beans and cook to al-dente in boiling water, cut out the green stalk from the tomatoes and chop each into six pieces 
·        Deseed and slice the pepper, shell the hard-boiled eggs and halve lengthways, and chop the anchovies.  If the olives have stones, halve and remove, and then mix the salad ingredients together. 
·        Heat a skillet (griddle pan) until very hot – season the tuna steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Cook on the skillet to mark the flesh for approx. 2 minutes on both sides (longer if you prefer your tuna well-cooked).  Remove the tuna from the skillet and arrange on the top of the salad
·        To make the dressing, pour the vinegar into a bowl and add the salt, cayenne pepper, Dijon Mustard and gradually add the olive oil with a little whisk. Check seasoning before dressing the salad

Annabel Karmel launches iPhone cookery app


Annabel Karmel, expert in feeding babies and toddlers, is launching her first iPhone app this month, just in time for Christmas.

The app, which I am sure will sell like wildfire, is a simple guide that will help parents make nutritious and delicious meals for their babies, from six months through to toddlers.  It provides helpful videos illustrating cooking techniques and offers informative tips and advice on preparing your baby’s first foods.

It has voice activated page turning, important to avoid sticky fingers on your pride and joy, an interactive meal planner and the option to create a shopping list with the ability to delete items that you already have in your kitchen.  You will also be able to search through recipes by criteria, such as the age of your child or the ingredients you would like to cook with.

Annabel Karmel comments: “This App will be bringing my recipes to life. Not only will it offer parents 70 of my favourite recipes but also advice and guidance on simple cooking techniques to help make their lives easier and provide good, nutritious food for their babies and toddlers.”

As soon as it launches, you will be able to download it from your iPhone App Store for just £4.99.

Fish crisis? Guest recipes from James Martin: It’s Tuna Tuesday…


Despite the well-known tradition for eating fish on a Friday, a whopping 15.4million Brits who used to eat fish on a Friday no longer do so.  According to a poll by John West, confusion around cooking times and techniques, and a fear of choking on bones are contributing factors to this decline.

With this in mind, the tuna brand has kick-started a new initiative dubbed Tuna Tuesday, to encourage Brits to eat more fish, which will be  fronted by Chef James Martin.  “The UK Food Standards Authority suggests we should all be eating two fish meals a week for our health. But with the decline of the Friday fish supper, and fears about how to cook fish correctly, many of us are failing to meet this target”, stated James.

Other reasons cited for the steady decline in Fish Friday are confusion over how to prepare it and fear of injury.  Worryingly, the research revealed some shocking findings:

  • 2.7 million Brits don’t eat fish because they are scared they will choke on the bones
  • 2.4 million don’t eat fish because they don’t like the eyes
  • 1.8 million don’t eat fish because they are worried they won’t cook it properly
  • And incredibly, more than 400,000 don’t eat fish because they or their kids have seen Finding Nemo!

If you are one of the many that is worried about how to prepare fish, then buy it from a fish mongers and ask them to prepare it for you; if you are worried about not cooking your fish properly, just think of sushi –  it’s fine to eat it raw, so as long as your fish is super fresh, you will be fine however you cook it.

If you can’t be sure how fresh your fish is, then you can always try canned fish – John West has in fact just extended its successful range of No Drain Less Mess tuna to include Tuna Chunks and individual portioned snack packs.

To help inspire you to go out and cook more fish, James Martin has devised some great recipes using canned tuna, two of which I have included below – so enjoy.

Potato and Crème Fraiche Rosti with Tuna and Goat’s Cheese

Makes: 4 Rostis


2 x 130g John West No Drain Tuna Steaks with a little spring water

1 large baking potato (about 400g)

4 tablespoons thick crème fraiche

2 egg yolks

40g Butter

300g goats cheese log sliced into 12 (3 per portion).


  • Peel, wash and dry the potato and grate into a bowl. Place on a clean tea towel and squeeze out the water.
  • Put into a bowl with the crème fraiche, egg yolks and seasoning and mix well.
  • Melt the butter in a pan, divide the mixture into 4 flat cakes and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side.
  • Top with the John West Tuna and slices of goat’s cheese and place under the grill to brown.
  • Remove from the grill and serve on its own or with a dressed green salad.

Tuna with watercress, asparagus and crispy onions

Serves 4


2 x 130g John West Tuna Steaks with a little olive oil

2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 onion, peeled and thinly sliced into rings

4 medium sized eggs

2 heads baby little gem lettuce, stalk removed

50g fresh watercress

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cooked

For the dressing

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

8 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


  • Place a sauté pan on a medium heat and add the olive oil and sauté the onion slices until golden brown and crispy. Put onto kitchen paper and allow to cool.
  • To make the dressing, place all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk well, season to taste and set aside.
  • Bring a pan of salted boiling water to the boil, break the egg into a cup, whisk the water to a whirlpool and lower the egg into the middle and poach for 3 to 4 minutes or until cooked. Repeat this process for all the eggs.
  • Separate the leaves of the little gem lettuce, put into a bowl with the watercress and drizzle with half the dressing. Add the John West Tuna and toss lightly together.
  • Place the warm asparagus on the plate. Put the mixed tuna salad on top then add the poached egg.
  • Pile the onion rings on the plate and drizzle with the remaining dressing and serve.

Guest recipe Levi Roots: reggae reggae mango nut bread


Not content with the success of his reggae reggae sauce, Dragons den chef and entrepreneur, Levi Roots has recently launched a new range of snacks.  Reggae reggae peanuts and cashews are now available to buy nationwide in Tesco and ASDA, priced at £1.29 for a 90g bag and in Holland & Barrett stores priced at £1.39.

Highlighting that nuts are not only great for snacking but can also be used as an ingredient in Caribbean Cuisine, Levi Roots has created a mango nut bread recipe using the reggae reggae nuts and has donated the recipe to Goodwins Gastro Gossip, so please let me know what you think if you try it!

Levi Roots Mango Nut Bread

Preparation Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 8-10

  • 1/2 can margarine, melted
  • 6 oz sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp. lime juice
  • 16 oz all purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 6 oz mango, cubed
  • 4 oz Reggae Reggae Peanuts & Cashews, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 375° F/190°C.
  2. Mix margarine, sugar, eggs and lime juice. Combine thoroughly with dry ingredients.
  3. Stir in mango and peanuts.
  4. Scrape batter into a 20cm x 10cm x 7cm / 8″ x 4″ x 3″ loaf pan.
  5. Bake until done or when a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean

The Levi Roots product range includes his famous Reggae Reggae sauce, ketchup, cooking sauces, flavoured chicken and cookery books including ‘Caribbean Cuisine Made Easy’.  Levi also recently presented a BBC TV series on Caribbean Cooking.


Guest recipe: Leiths Meat Bible – Ox cheek daube


Leiths’ Max Clark, who co-compiled the recently launched Meat Bible, has very kindly donated a delicious recipe from the book.  When asked which she would recommend for my readers, Max suggested; “Ox cheek daube, as it’s coming up to that time of year when a warming bowl of a deep, rich stew is the order of the day.”

Ox Cheek Daube

The word daube means ‘stew’ or ‘casserole’.  If a tight-fitting lid is not available, a paste of flour and water (called repère or luting paste) can be placed around the edge of the dish to create a seal.  It is chipped off and discarded when the stew is ready.


900 g ox cheek or veal cheek, cut into large pieces, excess sinews removed

1 bottle of red wine

2 tablespoons oil

2 onions, finely sliced

2 carrots, cut into 3cm chunks

2 sticks of celery, finely sliced

6 shallots, quartered

600 ml brown stock

1 small handful of parsley stalks

6 sprigs of fresh thyme

1 tablespoon tomato purée

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

½ tablespoon soft dark brown sugar

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crisp pancetta, to garnish (see below)

1. Put the cheek meat into a large, non-metallic bowl and pour over the red wine. Leave to marinate for 24 hours.

2. Drain the meat, reserving the wine.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a large, flameproof casserole and brown the meat a few pieces at a time. Transfer to a plate and set aside.

4. Add the remaining oil to the pan and brown the onions, carrots, celery and shallots. Pour in the reserved wine and the stock and bring to the boil.

5. Return the meat to the pan and add the parsley stalks, thyme, tomato purée, vinegar and sugar. Season with salt and pepper. Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and simmer very gently for 3–4 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling apart.

6. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the meat to a warmed serving dish and keep warm. Strain the liquid and discard the vegetables.

7. Return the liquid to the pan and boil rapidly until it is reduced by two-thirds, tastes strong and looks glossy. Season to taste, pour the sauce over the meat and garnish with the pancetta.. Serve immediately.

Crisp pancetta

8 slices of smoked pancetta

1. Heat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas mark 6.

2. Lay the pancetta on a baking sheet and place a second baking sheet on top (this keeps it flat and prevents shrinkage). Place in the highest part of the oven for 5–7 minutes.

3. Carefully remove the top baking sheet and transfer the hot pancetta to a sheet of absorbent kitchen paper and allow to cool.

Wine recommendation: Chateâuneuf-du-pape, new world Pinot Noir or Merlot

Guest Recipe: Antony Worrall Thomson… It’s National Gut Week!


It’s Gut Week!

The annual event is all about raising awareness and helping people to understand the importance of good digestive health by providing free advice on how to achieve a healthy gut.  The microsite has been set up which includes lots of useful nuggets of information and digestive advice.

Commenting on Gut Week Tom Smith, chief executive at charity, Core, states; ‘We are, as they say, quite literally, what we eat, so need to be careful about our choices of food and drinks. In the summer months, we’re often tempted by pub meals or BBQs but starchy snacks like chips and crisps can be hard to digest.  As the season changes, how about a change of eating habits too? Eat more lean meat or fish and try steaming or grilling, rather than frying. Try to have more fruit and vegetables for their fibre content too as they provide the bulk your insides need for good digestion.’

Supporting the cause, Antony Worrall Thomson has donated a recipe that is not only delicious, but healthy and gut friendly.  He comments; “This is one of my favourite recipes, full of colour and flavour.  Harissa and pickled lemons are an integral part of North African cooking and are a perfect foil for lamb in this satisfying dish. Serve with bulgur wheat or warmed flatbread.”

Moroccan lamb stew with pumpkin and pickled lemon

Courtesy of Steve Lee


450g (1lb) lean leg of lamb, cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes

11/2 teaspoons ground black pepper

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 large onion, roughly diced

4 garlic cloves, crushed

4 tomatoes, skinned and diced

1 tablespoon harissa or hot pepper paste

400g (14oz) tin of chickpeas in water, drained and rinsed

350g (12oz) trimmed and peeled pumpkin, cut into 2.5cm (1in) cubes 1 pickled lemon, finely diced 2 tablespoons chopped mint 1 tablespoon chopped coriander

1  Coat the lamb in the black pepper

2  Heat the oil in a large non-stick saucepan, add the lamb and cook until it has browned all over. Add the onion and garlic and cook until the onion is soft and is slightly brown, adding a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking

3  Add the tomatoes, harissa and 425ml (3/4 pint) water. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook over a medium heat for 11/4­11/2 hours, topping up with water as necessary, until the lamb is almost tender

4  Add the chickpeas and pumpkin and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the pumpkin is tender. Add the lemon, mint and coriander. Serve immediately

Per portion: 357 kcal, 18g fat, 6.6g sat fat, 0.28g sodium