Chilli and Apple Jelly 
Great with cheese, with couscous salads, on jacket spuds. It’s seriously addictive so I generally make one and a half times the recipe. It depends on the size of your biggest pan. A useful recipe if you can get hold of free apples.


1.4kg. cooking apples
600ml. water
300ml. cider vinegar
100g. red chillies

Chop the apples without peeling or coring them. Put in big pan with water and vinegar. Bring mixture to boil and simmer for 20 mins. till very soft.
Pour pulp into a scalded jelly bag or muslin over a large bowl and stain for a few hours or overnight. Don’t be tempted to squeeze the bag as the jelly will be cloudy.
Measure the strained juice, for every 600ml. juice add 450g. sugar.
Heat up slowly in pan with chopped red chillies, when sugar dissolved can turn up heat and boil rapidly till reaches setting point.(Anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes)
To test for setting either use a sugar thermometer which should read 104 degrees C, or place a saucer in the fridge, put a teaspoon of mix on plate chill for a min. If it forms a skin and wrinkles when pushed with a finger then it should be set.
Pour jelly into warm sterilised jars. ( To sterilise wash jars in hot soapy water, dry, then put in a oven Gas 3 , 160 C for 10 mins)

Blackberry Sorbet
The recipe may seem like a bit of a faff if you don’t have an ice-cream maker but don’t be put off if you don’t . It’s worth making it once if only because the flavour is so intense you can’t believe it came from such humble beginnings. Also a good way to use wild blackberries once you have made the usual crumble etc. Also in honour of the Margarita queen I invented the Blackberry Paradys, which is one dessertspoon of blackberry sorbet in a flute, add a short measure of tequila give a quick stir and top up with sparkling white wine.


1 kg.ish blackberries
juice of half a lemon
250g caster sugar

Place blackberries in pan with lemon juice , half small glass of water, and sugar.
Heat gently to dissolve sugar and to make juices run. Simmer for a few mins to extract flavour from berries.
Rub mix through a sieve and discard seeds.
Leave to cool and place in ice-cream maker, or put in a tupperware and put in freezer, when starting to freeze, take out and whisk to a slush and re-freeze, you may want to do this maybe 3 times as it is freezing to obtain a 
smooth sorbet.

Green Lentil Salad
Useful store cupboard standby, healthy but with robust flavours .


About 250g. half a pack green lentils
Jar of roasted peppers, or fresh if you have them.
1 chorizo sausage (200gish)
1 Red onion or scallions sliced
Fresh chopped herbs 2 Tbs in total, ie. parsley, basil, chives.
olive oil 2 T
balsamic vinegar 1T
soy sauce 1T.
Dijon mustard 2 tsp.

Cook lentils as instructed on packet. ie. boil for 10 mins. then simmer for about another 20 mins till tender. I add a bayleaf to the pot but no salt as it can stop the softening process.
Drain, whilst hot add the olive oil, vinegar, soy sauce and mustard to lentils, stir to combine.
If using fresh peppers slice and gently fry with the onion till soft, season to taste.
Slice chorizo and add to peppers to heat through. If using peppers in jar , fry chorizo first then add sliced onion followed by the peppers.
Stir in most of herbs into the lentils save a bit to sprinkle on top.
Place lentils in a flattish dish or bowl add the chorizo and peppers on top, with the remaining herbs.
If you are vegetarian you can omit the chorizo and crumble some feta cheese on top.
Chilli and apple jelly is good with this salad.

Couscous and Chickpea Salad
Makes couscous a bit more interesting and another dish using mainly store cupboard stuff, although I realise that my idea of staples might not be yours – especially on a boat. The herbs are just a guideline.


225g. couscous
260ml. boiling water
veg or chicken  bouillon 1 tsp.
1 tin chickpeas,drained.
handful raisins or cranberries
handful chopped apricots or dates
2 scallions chopped
2 Tbs. chopped coriander
2 Tbs. chopped parsley
2 Tbs. chopped mint
grated zest and juice 1 lemon
1 garlic clove crushed.
3T olive oil 
2 handful cashew nuts or peanuts

Put the couscous into a bowl with the bouillon, add the boiling water, wrap in cling-film and set aside for 15 mins. Fluff up with a fork.
In a large bowl combine all the ingredients, can serve straight away or will sit in the fridge for a day quite happily.

Elderflower Cordial
Great with sparkling water, gin and tonic, poached gooseberries or rhubarb and cream in a fool. Flowers around late May and into June.
You may get some funny looks when asking for citric acid in Pharmacies as apparently it’s used to cut ClassA drugs…


20 heads elderflower 
1.8kg. granulated sugar
1.2litres/2 pints water
Zest of 3 lemons pared into wide strips( use a veg. peeler) then sliced
75g citric acid

Shake the heads ( of elderflower not your loved ones) to remove any little insects, put in a large bowl with the lemon.
Place in pan with sugar and water. Bring to boil , stirring to help dissolve sugar. When boiled stir in citric acid and pour over elderflowers.
Cover and leave for 24 hours.
Sterilize some glass bottles with screw tops or stoppers. (Wash in hot water and put in a warm oven for 10 mins.)
Strain the cordial through muslin or a new J-cloth and pour into the bottles.
Keep in fridge or somewhere cool and will last for a few weeks.

Ginger Beer
Good fun making it with kids as it sounds like you are producing alcohol and there is always the possibility that the bottle can explode, mine hasn’t yet but you have been warned!


1 cup sugar
11/2-2 tablespoons finely grated fresh ginger
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 tsp. dried yeast

In a clean 2 litre plastic bottle with lid, or glass bottles with good stoppers, add all the above ingredients, if you have a funnel it’s a lot easier, just add sugar first.
Add enough water to 3/4 fill the bottle. Shake like mad to dissolve the sugar. Add a little more water but leave a 4 cm. gap to allow for gas build up.
Seal the bottle well, and leave somewhere warm for 24 to 48 hours. Check after a day, if the plastic bottle is rock hard to touch then it’s done – get it in the fridge to stop the fermenting process.
To check the glass bottles I take a deep breath and open one , if you can sense it about to erupt like a geyser, get the top back on quick and chill.
May need to pour through a tea strainer into glasses unless you like your ginger beer with bits in.

Banoffi Muffins
Adapted from the Carnation condensed milk website, a real crowd pleaser.


275g. Self raising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
50g. light brown sugar
100g. dark chocolate in gravel sized pieces.(optional…yeah right)
50g. chopped pecans for topping muffins.
2 eggs
5 Tbs. vegetable or sunflower oil
3 mashed bananas
150ml. milk
397g. can caramel condensed milk

Preheat oven to Gas 5, 180 C
Line muffin tins with 12 paper cases.
Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl.
Mix all wet ingredients together except the condensed milk.
Gently fold in wet ingredients into dry, carefully not overmixing as the mix can toughen up when cooked.
Swirl through half the caramel condensed milk into the mix.
Half fill the muffin cases, put a teaspoon of caramel condensed on top then add the rest of mix to cover.
Sprinkle on nuts.
Bake for 20 mins till just firm to touch.

Chocolate and Marmalade Tart

You can use other fillings apart from marmalade as long as it has a bit of twang to to contrast with the chocolate, such as sour cherry conserve, blackcurrant conserve, etc. The pastry recipe is almost like shortbread so you can be as cack handed as you want it will always turn out biscuity.


Pastry: 115g cold, diced butter
             175g plain flour
               50g castor sugar

100g butter
100g 70% cocoa plain chocolate
1 egg
3 egg yolks
25 g caster sugar
200g marmalade or conserve.


Preheat oven to 180C/gas mark 5. Butter an 8”/20cm round loose bottomed baking tin 5, or so, cm deep.

To make the pastry rub the butter into the flour, add sugar and combine the pastry into a ball. It will not need any liquid. Knead briefly. Pastry ca be used immediately or kept in the fridge until needed.

Line the baking tin, there is no need to roll the pastry, press into the the base and sides by hand till you have an even lining of pastry with no gaps. Cover the pastry with greaseproof/parchment paper and put in baking beads or some rice to stop the pasty puffing whilst baking blind. Cook for 15 mins with the paper on, then 5 minutes without. If you have a particularly powerful oven you may want to bake blind at 170C.

For the filling melt the butter over a low heat. Remove from heat, break up chocolate and melt it into the butter.

In a bowl, whisk the egg and egg yolks with the sugar until the mixture leaves a ribbon trail when the whisk is lifted. Fold into the chocolate and butter mix.

Spread the marmalade or conserve over the bottom of the pastry case. Then spread the chocolate evenly on top.

Cook for 15 minutes. The filling will have a slight wobble underneath the thin crust on top. Cool in tin before removing and serve chilled with cream or Greek yoghurt.

Brown Soda Bread

I can’t believe that I’ve been asked for an Irish recipe but there you go. I cook in a Rayburn oven over winter  and temperatures aren’t an exact science :I have found that the bread seems to cook ok as long as it is a  medium heat  around gas 5 to 6, 170-190 C just start checking after 35 minutes.


250g. plain flour

250g. wholemeal flour

100g. oats

1 tsp. salt

2 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

2 tsp. soft brown sugar

500ml. buttermilk


Preheat oven to temps. above. Grease and flour an 8 inch cake tin with removeable bottom, or use baking sheet. ( The tin keeps the bread in shape better)

Place all dry ingredients in a large bowl, mix in most of buttermilk gently just to combine ingredients, depending on the flour, the mix may or may not need the final couple of tablespoons of buttermilk. It will be a fairly stiff dough but light in texture.

Place into tin, or shape roughly into a circle on the sheet, make a cross with a knife and can sprinkle on a few oats.

Bake for 35-45 minutes, check after 35mins. a skewer put into the middle should come out clean. Cool for a few minutes then take out of tin and wrap in a damp tea towel as this helps keep the bread moist.

Cheats Naan Bread

This is a great store cupboard standby and alot easier than making a yeast based dough and firing up the tandoor oven.


8 heaped tablespoons plain flour

3 flat tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

about 3/4 pint natural yogurt

sunflower or vegetable oil


Heat up a frying pan over a medium to high setting.

Place dry ingredients in a bowl, add the yogurt to make a soft dough. Mix gently so as not to overwork the dough.

On a floured board take 1/3 of the mix and flatten with your (floured)hand to make a flat circle about 1- 1.5 centimetes thick.

Put a couple of tsp. of oil in the pan and place in the naan dough. It will need a couple of minutes each side till you get brown hot spots.

Repeat twice with remaining mix.

Fruity Soda Bread

A friend recently arrived with a loaf of this stuff and it was so more-ish I copied down the ingredient list and worked out the proportions.  Unlike other soda breads it seems to stay moist for three days.


200g. (8 heaped tblspn) plain flour
200g.                                  wholemeal flour
50g.    (2 heaped tablespoon) porridge oats ( can also use wheatgerm or bran but the mix is a little heavier)
1 heaped Tblspn chopped  dried apricots
  ”       ”            ”        raisins or sultanas
  ”       ”            ”       desiccated coconut
2 tblspn mix of any of the following  sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, linseeds, sesame seeds
1 1/4 tsp. salt 
1 1/2 tsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda
1/4 tsp. mixed spice
half a 1 litre container buttermilk
1 1/2 Tblspn black treacle


Preheat oven to Gas 5, 170 C, medium rayburn. Grease and flour an 8″ round , loose bottomed baking tin.

In a large bowl sift in the flours, followed by all the other dry ingredients. Mix the treacle into the buttermilk then add to the bowl.
Mix all just to combine everything ( overmixing can toughen the mix ) Place into tin and cook for 45 mins. Check the bread is cooked by putting a skewer through to the middle if it comes out clean its done otherwise give it another 10 mins.
Turn out and wrap in a slightly damp tea towel  whilst hot as this helps to keep the bread longer.

Sticky Gingerbread

Went down very happily with a  cup of coffee and a Samba band playing on 72M, although you may not find it so easy to have a Samba band to hand.
Keeps very well for a couple of weeks wrapped in baking paper and stored in an airtight tin. This recipe is adapted from Nigella Lawson.

150 g. butter
125g dark brown sugar
200g. golden syrup
200g. treacle
2 balls of stem ginger finely chopped
1 tsp ground ginger 
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
250 ml whole milk
2 beaten eggs
1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda dissolved in 2 Tablspn hot water
300g. plain flour

Preheat the oven to 160 C, Fan 140 C, Gas 3.  Line a baking tin approx. 20 x 30 cm by 5cm deep with greaseproof paper or parchment.
In a saucepan melt the butter, sugar, syrup, treacle and spices over a low heat until butter just melted. ( If you boil it make sure you cool it done enough before adding the milk and eggs otherwise it scrambles. I speak from experience)
Take off the heat and add the milk, eggs and soda solution.
Into a bowl sift the flour and add the liquid ingredients, it will be a wet batter. Make sure you mix until the there aren’t any flour lumps left, (again I speak from experience as you are left with little white bits on the surface of the cake).
Pour into the tin and cook for 45-50 mins until just firm on top. It will carry on cooking slightly as it cools and the stickier the better. Let the gingerbread cool before cutting into squares.

Spiced Apple Cake

A different type of cake which has a flapjack base and the fruit layered through the cake batter. It can easily double up as  dessert, warmed, served with cream or custard. I’ve also made this cake wheat and dairy free. Substitute dairy free spread for the butter, and 100g of wheat free flour plus 1 1/4 tsp. wheat free baking powder  for the 125g of self raising flour. 


175 g. butter
175 g. soft light brown sugar
75 g. porridge oats
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
450g. cooking apples
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 eggs, beaten
125 g. self-raising flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice


Grease an 8″ round, loose bottomed cake tin. Preheat the oven to Gas 4, 170 C.
In a saucepan melt 75g.of the butter along with 75g. of sugar add the oats and cinnamon and cook , stirring gently until golden. Spoon mix into tin and press down to form base.
Peel, core and thinly slice the apples. Stir in the lemon rind and juice. Set aside.
Put remaining butter and sugar in a large bowl, cream using a wooden spoon or electric mixer until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg gradually. Sift in the flour and mixed spice and mix gently to combine ingredients. Mix in the apples.
Spoon mix onto oats and cook for approx. 40-45 mins. 
Nice eaten warm or if cooled can sift in some icing sugar to decorate.

Cream of Onion Soup

Elevates the humble onion into something rather luxurious.


3 large or 4 medium onions peeled and thinly sliced

50g. butter

2 Tbspn white wine vinegar

wine glass dry white wine

600 ml/1 pint chicken or vegetable stock ( cube or bouillon)

1 tbspn plain flour (optional)

300ml / ½ pint double cream ( needs to be double as single/normal cream doesn’t have enough fat content so may well curdle when added to the slightly acidic soup)

salt, white pepper

sprig rosemary very finely chopped. ( can leave out if you want the purity of colour and flavour)


Sweat the onions and rosemary if using with the butter in a pan with a lid on a low heat till soft and mushy( can take up to an hour)

Add the vinegar and wine and evaporate with the lid off until most of the liquid is gone.

Add the stock and simmer for 20-30 mins.

Liquidise or stick blend till smooth add the cream and season to taste. Gently reheat.

Brisket of Beef with orange, red wine and rosemary

A treat. Still got the Rayburn on the go so I bung it in and the usual magic happens. Serves four to five.


1kg. rolled piece of brisket.

4 or 5 carrots cut along their length and in half again if huge.

4 red onions quartered

Baby potatoes-allow 5ish per person.

½ bottle red wine

3 tbspn soy sauce

1 tbspn sugar or redcurrant jelly

1 tbspn chopped fresh rosemary

Zest 1 orange

2 Tbspoon grain mustard


Preheat oven to 140C , Gas 1. In a hob proof casserole pan heat 2 tbs oil , add the seasoned brisket and fry so coloured on all sides. Remove from pan and add onion and carrots and fry to give a little colour. Remove from pan.

Pour wine , soy sauce and sugar into casserole , bring to boil and reduce by 2/3 rds.

Return veg to pan plus the spuds, place brisket on top.

Sprinkle over rosemary and half orange zest plus a bit more seasoning.

Cover leaving the lid slightly ajar and cook for 3 ½ to 4 hours.

Take out beef and veg and keep warm on a serving dish

Add mustard and remaining zest and reduce to get a sauce consistency.

Remove string on brisket and slice, place over veg and pour over sauce.

Good with some greens and a smug sense of satisfaction.

Banana Bread

This is a wheat/gluten and dairy free cake, it took a few attempts but it seems to come out moist and tasty, unlike most other cake recipes I try to make wheat free. 


100g. sultanas

3 tablespooons dark rum or apple juice

175g. wheat/gluten free plain flour eg Doves

2 tsp. baking powder ( check wheat free on ingredient list)

1 tsp. bicarbonate of soda

1/2 tsp. salt

125g. coconut oil  ( solid white at room temp, sold in baking sections in supermarkets, health food shops or Asian shops)gently melted if solid.

150g. light brown sugar

2 eggs

350g mashed banana

1tsp. vanilla extract


 Soak sultanas in rum or juice for 30 mins. or so.

Grease with oil and base line a 2lb. loaf tin

Preheat oven to gas 3, 150/160 C

Sieve flour baking powder, bicarb, and salt into bowl.

Add sugar.

In separate bowl mix banana, coconut oil, vanilla, eggs, and add to flour mix along with sultanas. Mix to combine and place in tin.

Cook for 45 mins. Check cooked using a skewer into middle of cake which should come out clean. If not give another 10 mins.

Chocolate and beetroot cake

 This is another adapted recipe which is both wheat free and dairy free. Don’t be put off with using beetroot you will be barely able to discern it.


225g. cooked beetroot (the stuff in vac-packs is fine)blitzed or finely grated

180g. wheat free plain flour, eg Doves

100g. cocoa powder

3 tsp. wheat free baking powder

250g. soft light brown sugar

3 eggs

2 tsp. vanilla extract

200ml sunflower oil

100g plain chocolate roughly chopped

Syrup; 2 heaped tsp. coffee granules and 2 tsp. sugar dissolved in 1/2 mug hot water

Icing; 40g dairy free spread

           200g sieved icing sugar

           125g dairy free cream cheese

           100g. plain chocolate melted ( in a bowl over a pan of simmering water)


 Base line and oil either 1x 10 inch tin or 2x 8 inch round cake tins.

Preheat oven to gas 4, 160 C.

In a large bowl place all dry cake ingredients, make a well and mix eggs beated with the beetroot then add oil in a steady stream till combined.

Cook for 30 mins in smaller tins and about 40 mins in larger. A skewer should come out just clean.

Whilst the cake is till warm skewer the cake and spoon over the coffee syrup till used up.

When cake is cool can be iced. Beat the spread with the icing sugar, mix in the d-free cream cheese then the melted chocolate. The icing can be made while the cake is cooking and kept in the fridge, this will firm up the texture.

If not eaten on day of making it would be wise to keep it in the fridge because of the  cream cheese in the icing and slices brought out to room temp. before eating.

Banana, rum and raisin ice-cream (dairy free)

Tried a few no dairy ice-creams and this one is faff free and tastes as hedonistic as the real stuff.


6 bananas cut into 1 cm. slices

135g. light brown sugar

1 can coconut milk

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

juice 1/2 lemon ( or lime juice for a change)

75g. raisins

2 to 3 tbs dark rum


 Soak the raisins in the rum, cover and set aside.

In a frying pan place the sugar and approx. 1/4 can of coconut cream, heat till sugar melted and bubbling.

Add the bananas and cook for 5 mins. or so till very soft add remaining ingredients apart from raisins and give a quick whizz with a stick blender. Check for flavour, with ice-cream the intensity is muted so should be slighty too sweet with the lemon and salt  in the background for balance.

 Pour into a bowl or tupperware that can put a stick blender into. Freeze, giving a quick whizz with the blender as it starts to freeze. (Timing depends on your freezer). Give it another whizz when half frozen to give a smooth and creamy mouth feel. Stir in the raisins at this point.

Gluten Free White Bread Rolls

 At last g-free bread that doesn’t taste of cardboard with a texture of sand! This is taken from the internet from the USA so the recipe has been tweaked for measurements and availablity of flours.


 2 sachets dry yeast

450g. warm water

60g. caster sugar

75ml. oil (sunflower, vegetable etc.)

1 beaten egg

1 tsp. salt

2 dessertspoons. xanthan gum

100g potato starch (available from asian shops)

350g. Doves plain four mix


 Place water in bowl, add yeast and sugar , stir and leave for a few mins.

In large bowl place in all dry ingredients, give a quick mix.

Add the egg and oil to the water mix then stir into flour till combined.( Its a fairy sticky mix but will hold it’s shape)

 Spoon( using an ice-cream scoop if you have one) 12 balls onto a greased baking tray with a fair bit of space between. Lightly cover with clingfilm and allow to prove for 1 to 11/2 hours in a warm place till doubled in size.

Bake for 20mins in a medium to hot oven 200c. gas 6. Check hollow sounding underneath when tapped.

Cool on wire rack.

Keeps for a couple of days in a bag, nice reheated for 5 mins to refresh.

 The Reed Warbler

 This cocktail was invented for the book launch of Reedbound-I’ve never seen so many men with pink drinks in their hands! Its adapted from a Guardian recipe on-line.I added half a jar of whizzed marmalade to some of the rhubarb mixes which adds to the flavour combo but you lose the bright pink hue.


 For the Syrup

In a pan put 350ml. water with 350g. sugar. Heat to dissolve.

Add bunch of rhubarb (700-900g) cut into 2cmish slices. Bring to boil and turn down to a simmer until the rhubarb is very soft. Sit a fine sieve over a jug or bowl and let rhubarb mix drip through for 1-2 hours. Bottle and keep in fridge. The rhubarb left in the sieve is good for breakfast just store in a non-metallic container.

The cocktail is equal measures of rhubarb syrup and gin topped with tonic and ice to suit.

 Chocolate and Prune Ice-cream 

 Another dairy-free dessert, beyond rich even for me. So small portions recommended- you can always come back for more….


200g. chopped prunes

300g. hot water

30g. brandy

200g. 70% dark chocolate

80ml sunflower oil

4Tbs. golden syrup

2 Tbs. brandy


 Soak the prunes in the hot water and brandy for a couple of hours then blitz together.

Melt 120g of chocolate in a bowl over a simmering pan of water, add to prune mix.

Slowly add the oil until combined then add all other  ingredients and remaining chocolate grated.

Freeze in a lidded tupperware allowing a bit of room so you can beat or stick blend the ice-cream once it’s half frozen .

Cucumber Pickle

 A useful recipe for a glut of cucumbers, great with smoked mackerel pate.


 2 or 3 cucumbers, peeled, middle seedy bit removed and thinly sliced

3 white onions, halved and thinly sliced

55g salt

340g. soft brown sugar

425ml. cider vinegar

1/2 tsp. ground tumeric

6 cloves (ground if preferred)

1 TBs. yellow mustard seeds (I’ve used chunky wholegrain mustard before)

1/2 tsp. celery seeds


 Mix cucumber, onion and salt in a large bowl. Cover and set aside for 3 hours.

Put remaining ingredients in a large pan and slowly bring to boil stirring to dissolve sugar.

Sterilise 5 or 6 glass jars by washing in hot soapy water, rinse and place in a lowish oven till ready to use.

Drain the veg and rinse under cold water . Leave to drain in a colander for a few minutes.

Add veg. to the hot syrup and heat to just under boiling point, stirring occasionally.

Remove jars from oven and leave to cool for a few mins. Spoon , seal ,cool and label.

Can be eaten straight away or kept for up to a year in a cool, dark place. (In the bilges are great as long as they are dry!)

 Chocolate and Orange Cake

Many thanks to a friend ‘E’ who served up a lovely version of a Sicilian orange cake that is both gluten and dairy free. I fettled with it a bit but it eats as well as ‘normal’ cake.


 2 oranges

6 eggs

200g. ground almonds

50g. cocoa

200g. caster sugar

1 tsp. baking powder ( check g-free)

pinch salt


Grease with oil and base line a 20cm round tin. Preheat your oven to a medium temp. 170/180 C, gas 4.

Place the oranges in a pan, cover with water , bring to the boil then simmer for up to 2 hours until soft. Drain, half, remove seeds and blitz  with a stick blender to a puree.

In a bowl break in the 6 eggs blitz with blender to whisk briefly, add the sugar, mix, then add all remaining ingredients including the orange puree. Mix till even.

Cook for 40/45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean.