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Amazing pickled and marinated veg

makes about 2 quarts

for the pickling liquid
1 quart cider or white wine vinegar
1 quart water
2 tablespoons sea salt

for the pickling marinade
2 cups extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
1 fresh red chilli, deseeded and chopped

choose one of the following veg and herb options:
• 2 pounds mixed mushrooms and a few sprigs of fresh thyme, rosemary and sage
• 2 pounds firm eggplant and 2 tablespoons dried oregano
• 2 pounds firm zucchini and 6 sprigs of fresh mint
• 2 pounds fennel bulbs and their herby tops
• 2 pounds small onions and 4 bay leaves
• 2 pounds red and yellow peppers and a few sprigs of fresh thyme

Pickled veg taste totally delicious. I’m going to give you my personal favorite veg and herb combinations — damn simple and they make great presents. Much cooler than turning up with a bottle of wine. Once you’ve had success with them, have a go at your own variations. You can use one large jar or lots of smaller ones (I prefer smaller ones because once a jar’s been opened it will only last for a week or so in the fridge).

Make sure you have some small sterilized jars ready to go (see page 324). Bring the pickling liquid ingredients to the boil in a big pan. Put the pickling marinade ingredients into a large bowl with your chosen herbs and mix well. Slice up your chosen vegetable any way you like, but if it’s a larger vegetable try to get the pieces around ½ inch in thickness. This way, the flavors and pickling liquid will penetrate sufficiently. Smaller veg, like mushrooms or very small onions, can be left whole.

Place the sliced veg in the boiling pickling liquid and leave for around 3 minutes — they’ll probably rise to the surface, so keep pushing them down to ensure they are all immersed. Lift the pieces out with a slotted spoon and place them into your bowl of pickling marinade. Toss together — it will smell fantastic.

Pretty much straightaway, put the hot veg and pickling marinade into your sterilized jars, filling them to the very top. Cover the veg completely with the marinade and put the lids on tightly. Put the jars to one side until they’re cool. Clean the jars, attach sticky labels and write the date and the contents on them. Store the jars somewhere cool and dark — it’s best to leave them for about two weeks before opening so the veg really gets to marinate well, but if you absolutely cannot wait, you can eat them sooner. They’ll keep for about three months — but they’re so bloody good I’m lucky if the jars last for a couple of weeks in our house!



Plum Bakewell Tart

makes a 10-inch tart


a knob of butter
½ x sweet shortcrust pastry recipe (see below)
2.2 pounds mixed plums
½ cup vanilla sugar
½ teaspoon mixed spice
1 teaspoon cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water 2 ounces flaked almonds icing sugar
for the frangipane
10 ounces blanched whole almonds
6 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 vanilla bean
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
¾ cup sugar
3 large free-range or organic eggs,lightly beaten

The thing I love about this tart is that it keeps really well, so you can enjoy a nice slice in your lunchbox or with your afternoon tea for a few days! If you think you like Bakewell tart but you’ve only ever eaten factory versions, have a go at making this. You’ll be blown away by a homemade one. Whether your plums are perfectly ripe or slightly sour they’ll work a treat in this tart. It will also look a real picture if you use some different colored ones.

Grease a 10-inch tart pan with a removable bottom with a little butter and make your pastry. When you have your ball of dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and place it in the fridge to rest for at least half an hour. Then remove it and roll it out on a floured surface. Line the tart pan with your rolled-out pastry, easing it into the ridges at the side. Place in the freezer for an hour.

Meanwhile, make the frangipane. Blitz the blanched whole almonds in a food processor until you have a fine powder and transfer this to a bowl with the flour. Halve your vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, using the back of your knife. Now blitz the butter, sugar and vanilla seeds until light and creamy. Put the almond mixture back into the food processor with your lightly beaten eggs and whiz until completely mixed and smooth. Place in the fridge to firm up for at least half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350°F and bake the pastry crust for around 10 minutes, or until lightly golden. Remove from the oven, leaving the oven on.

Halve the plums and remove the pits. Finely chop half of them and place in a saucepan with the vanilla sugar and the mixed spice. Cook gently until softened, with a jammy consistency, then stir in the cornstarch and simmer until thickened.

While the plums are cooking, out the remaining plum halves into quarters and macerate them for 5 minutes by sprinkling them with icing sugar - this will make them juicy, shiny and delicious. Carefully spoon your plum jam into the pastry crust and smooth it out across the bottom. Spread the frangipane over the plum jam. Arrange the plums on the surface of the frangipane, pressing them in lightly. Scatter the flaked almonds over the top. Bake the tart in the preheated oven for about an hour, placing a baking sheet on the shelf under the tart, just in case it bubbles over. Once cooked through and golden brown on top, remove the tart from the oven and leave it to cool.

I don’t always do this, but if you’re feeling creative, before, serving mix a few tablespoons of icing sugar with a little warm water and drizzle over the top of the cooked tart — Jackson Pollock style! Lovely served with a dollop of crème fraîche.


Old-fashioned Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

makes about 2 pounds


3½ cups organic all- purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1 cup icing sugar, sifted
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons good-quality cold butter, cut into small cubes
zest of 1 lemon
2 large free-range or organic eggs, beaten
a splash of milk
flour, for dusting

This pastry is perfect for making apple and other sweet pies. Even if you’ve never made pastry before, as long as you stick to the correct measurements for the ingredients and you follow the method exactly, you’ll be laughing. The one place where you can experiment is with flavoring. If you don’t fancy using lemon zest, try another dry ingredient like orange zest instead. Or a pinch of cinnamon, nutmeg or cocoa powder. Vanilla seeds are great too. Just remember to be subtle and don’t go overboard with any of these flavors!

Try to be confident and bring the pastry together as quickly as you can — don’t knead it too much or the heat from your hands will melt the butter. A good tip is to hold your hands under cold running water beforehand to make them as cold as possible. That way you’ll end up with a delicate, flaky pastry every time.

PS - You can also make this pastry using a food processor

Sift the flour from a height onto a clean work surface and sift the icing sugar over the top. Using your hands, work the cubes of butter into the flour and sugar by rubbing your thumbs against your fingers until you end up with a fine, crumbly mixture. This is the point where you can spike the mixture with interesting flavors, so mix in your lemon zest.

Add the eggs and milk to the mixture and gently work it together till you have a ball of dough. Flour it lightly. Don’t work the pastry too much at this stage or it will become elastic and chewy, not crumbly and short. Flour your work surface and place the dough on top. Pat it into a flat round, flour it lightly, wrap it in plastic wrap and put it into the fridge to rest for at least half an hour.



Roasted carrots and beets with the juiciest pork chops

Serves 4

1 ½ pounds carrots, mixed colors if available, peeled

1 ½ pounds beets, different sizes and colors if available
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 bulb of garlic, broken apart, half the cloves smashed, half left whole
extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 orange
a few sprigs of fresh thyme, leaves picked
a few sprigs of fresh rosemary, leaves picked
5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 thick organic pork loin chops, skin on
8 fresh sage leaves
1 lemon

Carrots and beets are particularly good when roasted as it brings out their natural sugars. The best advice I can give you is about flavoring them. A few smashed garlic cloves, a woody herb like rosemary, thyme, sage or bay, and a splash of vinegar, or squeezed lemon or orange juice, can accentuate their natural flavor.

Preheat the oven to 425˚F. Put your carrots into a large pot and your beets into another, and add enough water to cover them. Season with salt and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until just tender, then drain and place in separate bowls. Peel your beets, and cut any larger carrots and beets in half or into quarters. Smaller ones can stay whole.

Now add your flavorings while the veg are still hot. Toss the carrots with half the smashed garlic and a glug of olive oil, then lightly season. Add the orange juice and the thyme leaves and toss again. Mix the beets with the rest of the garlic, the rosemary, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper. You can now put the veg either into separate ovenproof dishes, or together on a large roasting pan with the carrots in one half of the pan and the beets in the other. Place in the middle of the preheated oven and roast for around half an hour or until golden.

While the carrots and beets are cooking, lay the chops on a board and score through the skin and the streaky-looking part of the meat. This will give you lovely crackling. Look at the picture – you’ll see what I mean. Firmly press a sage leaf onto the eye meat on both sides of each chop. Season with salt and pepper.

When the vegetables start to color, heat a large ovenproof frying pan or small roasting pan on the burner, add a good glug of olive oil and put in the chops. As soon as you’ve got nice color on one side, turn the chops over and place the pan in the oven for 10 minutes, or until the chops are crisp on the outside and just cooked through and juicy in the middle. Remove the chops to a warmed plate. Pour most of the fat away from the pan and add a squeeze of lemon juice to it. Stir and scrape the lovely sticky bits off the bottom and drizzle all over the chops. Remove the carrots and beets from the oven – they should be nice and sticky by now. Serve them with the chops and a glass of wine.