Mrs Portly’s Panzanella

Panzanella is one of those excellent Italian recipes where frugality transcends virtue to become something greater. It marries stale bread with sweet, juicy tomatoes to give you the perfect summer salad, one with flavour and a bit of heft. Continue reading

Griddled Courgette Rolls

I really felt for Kathy Slack when I read about her tomato disaster, her lovingly nurtured seedlings run over and crushed by a Range Rover in a Cotswold lane. It wasn’t entirely the driver’s fault but anyone who grows their own will feel Kathy’s pain.

It’s one of the anecdotes in her new book, From The Veg Patch, published by Ebury Press. Full disclosure: Kathy is a friend and Guild of Food Writers colleague, but I wouldn’t be writing about the book if I didn’t rate it highly. She takes ten vegetables or fruits and gives ten recipes for each, along with bonus cooking ideas and growing tips. (Getting your seedlings run over is more of a cautionary tale.) Continue reading

Asparagus with Goat’s Cheese Cream

Anyone who has a passing acquaintance with me knows how fond I am of asparagus. My Instagram pal @stephencooksfrench (he makes good food and bad puns) even put it into verse: Linda loved asparagus/She thought it was so yummy/She slathered it with Hollandaise/And put it in her tummy.

And I cannot lie to you, I do love it served that way, but sometimes you want to ring the changes. Continue reading

The Winter Garden

King Henry I is said to have died from a surfeit of lampreys. I can’t eel out of the fact that I’m suffering from an overdose of Christmas. Delicious though the mince pies, clotted cream and chocolates were, I’m beginning to look like a galleon in full sail. Continue reading

Mushroom and Chestnut Strudel

Crammed with mushrooms, chestnuts and festive cranberries and wrapped in shatteringly crisp filo, this works as the centrepiece for a vegan or vegetarian Christmas dinner. It’s also a useful addition to a bigger spread if you’re trying to cater both for omnivores and those who prefer a plant-based diet. Continue reading

Tudor Quince Pie

This pie is my interpretation of one in Thomas Dawson’s The Good Housewife’s Jewel, first published at the end of the 16th century, and the latest in my new series of historical recipes. I’ve followed his suggestions for both pastry and filling as faithfully as I can, because although Dawson gave more detail than many of his contemporaries, there’s still plenty of room for guesswork and because I’ve adapted it to modern tastes. Continue reading

Plum and Ginger Chutney

It’s been a phenomenal year for plums here in our part of Suffolk and we’ve been in a race with the wasps to see who can get there first. Luckily, we have so much fruit, there’s plenty left for wildlife of all sorts.

The last to ripen have been the black bullace and damsons. The bullace tree in particular is so laden, the plums are hanging like bunches of grapes. As the jam cupboard is already full, we opted for a chutney and I honestly think it’s one of the best we’ve ever made. Continue reading

Bigod, That’s Tasty!

Well, Mrs Portly’s only had one week off, but I wanted to share these frankly fabulous little filo pies while redcurrants are still in season.

Crisp, buttery pastry oozing with melty Baron Bigod cheese and redcurrant jelly, offset by the sharp tang of fresh redcurrants. They’re rich but they’re tiny, just a few bites, so they’re perfect as a starter with a few salad leaves or as a warm canape. Continue reading