Monthly Archives: November 2011

Prawn and Crab Bisque

Prawn and Crab Bisque with sourdough bread and homemade fish stock

Serves 8 starters / 4 main meals

Reference: Good Housekeeping, December 2011, page 203

For the stock
:  Fish heads and various discarded fish items Left over veg: Leek, onion, carrot, a few chillies, boiling water.
800g Raw Prawns
1tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion
3 celery sticks
4 large carrots, chopped
200ml white wine
1tsp paprika
2 x 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
3 pints of fish stock
300ml double cream
100g White crab meat

You will need:
Wooden spoon
Food processor
Slotted spoon

We created our own fish stock before starting the bisque. I had asked at Haymans Fisheries if they sold fish stock, they didn’t however they gave me a bag of fish bits: heads/tails etc. making my own stock was a first for me, and it was worth it. I put the fish bits into a pan, and added some root vegetables that were left over from the week, including: leek, green pepper, carrot, small chunk of swede and chilli. Topping the pan up with boiling water and allowed to simmer for an hour. This could have taken longer, for more depth in flavour but an hour was all the time I had spare.

Peel the prawns, de-vein and put them in the fridge to chill. line the plate with kitchen paper to take the excess water away.

Taking the shells, heads and legs of the prawns, put them into a large saucepan. add the oil to the pan, and put the pan over a medium heat. Fry for 5mins crushing the shells/heads/legs with a wooden spoon. Add the chopped celery, onion and carrots to the pan, fry for 10mins stirring occasionally.

Pour in the wine and leave bubbling to awaken the alcohol. Add the paprika and cook for 1min. Now add the tomatoes and stock, leave to simmer for 30mins.


Blend the contents of the pan, shells included until it’s smooth, as smooth as possible any way. Now pour the soup through a fine sieve, discarding the pulp that won’t go through the sieve. Rinse the food processor, but don’t pack it away, you’ll need it in a few mins.

Put the pan back on the heat and add the raw peeled prawns, leave out 2 prawns per person bring the soup up to a simmer and bubble for 5mins. Using the slotted spoon take the prawns out and add to the food processor, along with a few ladlefuls of the soup. Blend the prawns and then return to the pan.

Add the cream and most of the crab into the pan, make sure the soup is piping hot, check the seasoning and then serve into your bowls, scatter the remaining crab, a drizzle of oil.

It took just over an hour from start to finish, not including the time taken to create the stock.

The recipe suggests serving with rosemary croutes, but earlier in the day I had purchased sourdough bread, which was great to have with the soup. It reminded me of Lobster Bisque from Boston, USA.


Jude the Obscure, Jericho


After a bit of Oxford shopping at the weekend we found ourselves over by The Randolph hotel, so decided to keep walking and head on into Jericho, as we had an afternoon with no great plans, which is rare! We turned into Little Clarenden Street, which is a lovely narrow one way street always decorated with white lights, criss crossing down the street, so no need for christmas decorations. This one street is packed with multiple restaurants, a wine shop, a hairdressers, a variety of unique shops from kitchen appliances to wedding dresses and a cocktail bar to complete the street.

Turning onto Walton street, the main street in Jericho, you will find a couple of cocktail bars, Raouls is a personal favourite of mine. Sadly  over the road from Raouls, several shops/restaurants were recently closed down, due to the ‘need’ of using the building for another use, so across the street is looking quite different from how it had done previously.

Jude the Obscure

Previously I’d only ever sat in the side garden of this pub, which has a great sun spot on a sunny day, there is also some seating at the front, either side of the entrance. Last weekend it was a ‘sit inside day’, although sunny it was certainly not warm! The pub wasn’t full but there were several large groups in the pub ready to eat after their day shopping in the city Centre. The curved steps leading into arched doorway make for a unique and attractive entrance. As you walk in, the bar is in front of you in the middle of the pub.

The tables and chairs are scattered throughout the pub, leaving the bar as a centre-piece. The venue has a mix of dark wood paneling and light walls, which are covered in brightly coloured old posters advertising various plays, films and musicals. We took a window seat, to watch the world go by, the seating was comfortable and had a homely feel to it. The large mirrors on the walls make the pub feel light, despite the dark wood. There was only one member of staff on the bar in the middle of a weekend lunch service, apparently the number 2 had not turned up. But the staff member that was on her own kept her cool and did a great job juggling the drinks orders as well as keeping an ear out for the kitchen food to be ready for service.


What we ate:

Hand-battered Halloumi Fries With red pepper and chilli dip. (v) £2.95
Middle Eastern Hummus With flatbread and crudités. (v) £3.95

This was ideal for the nibble that we wanted on that afternoon. Had we wanted a larger meal there was plenty to choose from, as well as some good meal deals and offers for those on a budget on the run up to Christmas.

With my nibble I had a lovely glass of New Zealand white wine. The name escapes me, however it was not your average plonk that you may sometimes happily have in a pub on a Saturday. The variety of beer, ale and cider would also suit anyone that gets bored with the standard stuff.

Overall this pub was well priced, good service (considering the staff situation), and generally a nice atmosphere, in the peaceful suburb of Jericho, if you’ve not been for a while pop in, I think the mulled wine will be up and running by now.

Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie with Goats’ Cheese Mash

This weekend I was looking for recipes to make and store in my freezer. As the nights are becoming darker, I find that after a hard day at work it can be tempting  not to make too much effort in the kitchen, which invariably leads to takeaways and similar dinners Mon – Fri.
The other week I made the Vegetarian chilli, so if I can add a few more different dishes into the freezer, this will be good for the waistline and the wallet.

I’ve had Delia’s Vegetarian Collection book for a number of years and despite there being over 250 recipes to go through I’m not sure I’ve made the most of them all yet.

This recipe is from ‘Delia’s Vegetarian Collection’. Chapter Seven Food For Friends, Page 155

110 g dried black-eyed beans, pre-soaked and drained (alternatively buy the carton, so no need to pre soak)
75 g green split peas (no need to soak), rinsed
75 g green lentils (no need to soak), rinsed
50 g peeled carrots
50 g peeled swede
50 g peeled celeriac (otherwise refered to by my other half as the Ood, see photo!)
1 large onion, peeled
1 small green pepper, deseeded
50 g butter, plus a little extra for greasing
225 g tomatoes
1 heaped tablespoon chopped mixed fresh herbs, such as sage, rosemary, thyme and parsley
¼ level teaspoon ground mace
¼ level teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
salt and freshly milled black pepper

Topping – (To be added later if you are freezing like me!)
4 oz (110 g) soft goats’ cheese
1 lb 8 oz (700 g) potatoes, peeled
2 oz (50 g) butter
2 tablespoons milk
1 oz (25 g) Pecorino cheese, grated
salt and freshly milled black pepper

First sort your lentils, beans and peas…
If you need to soak the black-eyed beans. Wash them under cold, running water and discard any broken ones. Soak them overnight in 2 pints (1.2 litres) cold water.If you have black-eyed beans in a carton there is no need to pre soak.

Put the drained beans into a saucepan with the split peas and lentils, add 1¼ pints boiling water and some salt, cover and simmer gently for 50-60 minutes, don’t let the pulses go dry. Then remove them from the heat and mash them just a little with a large fork.

If you are making this meal for now, start steaming your potatoes: Now pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), and put the potatoes on to steam.  (If not leave this until you are ready to eat it, so as not to freeze mashed potato)

 ‘The Ood!’

Roughly chop all the vegetables, or pour the veg into a food processor and whizz until chopped small. Next, melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat, add the vegetables and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, stirring now and then until they’re softened and golden at the edges.

Meanwhile, skin the tomatoes. Place them in a heatproof bowl and pour boiling water on to them.
After exactly a minute remove them, I poured out the hot water first, alternatively use a slotted spoon.
I normally find skinning a tomato impossible/messy or both, this time I took the point of a knife and pierced the top where the stem comes out, the skin peeled away easily!

After that, add the vegetables to the pulses mixture, along with the herbs, spices and salt and freshly milled black
pepper to taste. Then spoon the mixture into the baking dish and arrange the tomatoes in overlapping
slices on the top. I put my mixture into two dishes, so that they each serve two people.
At this point I covered my dish, allowed it to cool and have put it in the freezer for later this week.

If you freeze the ‘base’  follow the next step when you are ready:

Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 5, 375°F (190°C), and put the potatoes on to steam. As soon as the potatoes are cooked, place them in a bowl, add the butter, milk and goats’ cheese, whisk to a smooth purée, season with salt and freshly milled black pepper and spread the potato over the rest of the ingredients in the dish.

Finally, sprinkle over the Pecorino and bake the pie on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes,
or until the top is lightly browned. If you want to prepare this in advance, it will need about 40 minutes in the oven.

The Bat and Ball

The Bat and Ball is situated in Cuddesdon a short drive out from Oxford city centre. The fields and footpaths are great for ramblers and dog walkers especially in the knowledge that there is an open fire as well as good food and drink not too far away. When you arrive into the car park, you will see that the views surrounding the restaurant are beautiful.

Inside you will find exposed beams throughout the restaurant and bar. The stone floor mixed with the leather furnishings gives The Bat and Ball an inviting touch to all visitors, even more so if the fire has been lit! Wickets and bats are mounted on the beams throughout the bar and restaurant. It’s certainly worth a good look when you are inside as there is plenty of cricket memorabilia for fans and non fans.

The venue is relaxed but smart and welcomes families of all ages into both its bar and restaurant. The same menu choice can be had in both seating areas, so you can still have a special meal even if you opt to sit in the bar instead of the restaurant.
On Sundays they have a choice of two roasts as well as the main menu; which included a variety of fish, meat, lighter bites and starters. From Monday to Saturday they have an alternative menu which can be found on their website.

When we arrived at 1pm the restaurant was full although not heaving. It was clear that others knew this was a good place to go for lunch with parents and or friends.

The service was attentive and the staff were friendly, we were given a nice amount of time to peruse the menu.
Our drinks order was taken and served in good time too.
The specials board was up when we arrived, we managed to have a quick glance before the waitress removed it.

Our Food

Bat Burger

This was a good thick meaty burger, and looked like a good quality meat, the home-made coleslaw was ‘delicious’.

Roast Pork

Both the men had the Roast Pork, both were happy with their meal but would have enjoyed some crackling with the pork. They said that it missed the home cooked feel and it would have been nice to have a slice more meat. The yorkshire pudding was very much enjoyed and was a sizeable yorkie at that!

Winter Vegetable Casserole with vegetarian dumplings

This was a hearty bowl of beans, sweet potato and other root vegetables,
with tasty dumplings. This was served with half a baguette which was great for dunking.


Chocolate cake

This caught my other halfs’ eye, he’s not normally a chocolate lover but he said that the cake was ‘gorgeous’ (I’m sure he’ll love me for quoting that!) It was moist and had a good creamy icing it wasn’t thick and claggy.

Orange and Quantro Cheesecake

The quantro gave this a good punch apparently, I thought the presentation looked great!

Creme brulee

This was served in a coffee cup, the top had a good firm top which you could crack through satisfyingly!

We all left happy and full. I think polishing off the yummy mints that came with the bill helped with this too! If you are looking for somewhere slightly out of Oxford city centre for a change, give The Bat and Ball a try. It’s less than 5 miles away and in a beautiful village, there is also car parking available in the restaurants car park and some on the roadside.

Reggae Reggae beef rib

The Covered Market in Oxford is like a city within a city it includes clothes shops, shoe shops, a barbers, cafes, and many food stalls.  MFeller, Son & Daughter has a variety of meats on the outside of their shop. My other half picked up a pack of 4 Beef Ribs for about £7 the other weekend, the size of each rib has ment that he is having one a week, a great price for making 4 meals. This week he created a Reggae Reggae beef rib, it was slowly cooked for 3 1/2 hours.

Beef rib
Reggae Reggae Sauce
Large glass of red wine
Pint of Stock


Select an ovenproof dish that your beef will sit well in, if you have one with a lid use this, alternatively you’ll need to cover this with tinfoil.
Pre-heat the oven to 165C
Cover your beef with a good helping of Reggae Reggae Sauce, roll the beef in the sauce for maximum coverage, this could be done in the morning to marinade.
Add a glass of red wine into your ovenproof dish and a pint of stock, we used a vegetable stock cube, make sure your meat is covered with the liquid, add a bit more stock if necessary.
Cover the dish with your lid or tinfoil and put into the oven for 3 1/2 hours, allow to rest for about 20mins.
The beef should fall off the bone with ease. Serve this with your roast veg and greens and enjoy!

Fish Souffle

This dish is ideal if you fancy something light yet slightly ‘posh’. I would describe it as being, one up from an omlette. The souffle takes about 45 mins in total,  15mins to prep then only 30mins in the oven.

Although it’s a simplistic dish you need to make sure your plates are warm when served and that you and your guests will be ready to eat it once it’s out of the oven.

For your utensil use a wooden spoon throughout, a metal spoon will kill the air that you need to make it a souffle.

12g butter
12g flour
75ml milk
50g of Cheddar cheese, grated (I included Saint Agur to top up the weight)
110g haddock or cod (I used undyed smoked haddock)
1 egg separated
salt & pepper
squeeze of lemon juice
1tsp dry mustard powder

Saucepan over heat
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add in the flour, stir for a minute
Keeping the pan over the heat, gradually pour in the milk and cheese, continue to stir making a thick sauce but make sure it still has movement

Remove from the heat
Add the fish, and mix well.
Beat in the egg yolk, salt, pepper, lemon and mustard powder
Whisk the egg whites until stiff

The egg whites into the mixture

Into a greased ovenproof dish with straight sides (if possible!)
Cook in a hot oven 190 – 200C for 30 mins

Immediately on to hot plates with green veg or salad for colour!



Vegi Lentil Chilli

I first made this chilli about 2 or 3 years ago and I must say it’s a winter staple, that can always be found in my freezer at this time of year. It should serve about 8 people.

In my experience meat-eaters won’t miss the meat in this chilli and there is no Quorn to kid them either. It’s a simple one pot dish which you can make at any time, it really wont take long. It’s also easy to adapt this to your own preferences or  in my case, whatever is in your fridge and cupboards.
Serve with rice, JP’s (jacket potato) or simply have on its own.

The Ingredients:
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tsp chilli powder
1 tsp cumin seeds
175g/6oz green lentils
2 peppers, any colour you like! stalk and seeds removed, and chopped
2 carrots or parsnips peeled and chopped
2 x 400g/14oz cans chopped tomatoes
1 tbsp tomato purée
½ pint vegetable stock
100g green beans or frozen peas
175g/6oz mushrooms, wiped and quartered
2 handfuls of spinach
Freshly ground black pepper
1 can kidney beans, drained and cooked

For this recipe prep everything first, then it’s just a case of adding the ingredients in at the right time.

To Start:

Soften your onion and garlic in a large saucepan with the olive oil
Add the chilli powder and cumin seeds to the pan and mix
Once softened and mixed well add your peppers, green lentils, and Carrots (or Parsnips) to the pan.



 The Juicy part:
Add the tomatoes, tomato puree and Vegetable stock to the pan and allow to simmer for 5 mins
Now add the green beans or peas, mushrooms, spinach and ground black pepper, mix well.





To End:

Finally add the kidney beans and allow to simmer until the dish is piping hot.
I tend to put a chili pepper in the chilli to give it an extra kick.