Drinks and quick snacks...

Gazpacho Soup Print icon

One of our summer favourites, very quick and easy to make, although it does benefit from good quality tomatoes, and also it's important to leave it overnight for the flavours to combine and mellow. Serves 2 fairly generously.

Ingredients

  • 1 spring onion or shallot, trimmed and finely chopped
  • garlic clove, peeled and crushed
  • 1-1.5 tbsp sherry vinegar, or to taste
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 1/2 green pepper, deseeded and chopped
  • 500g ripe plum tomatoes, cored and chopped
  • 35g stale crusty white bread, chopped
  • Small bunch of basil (optional)
  • Small bunch of parsley (optional)
  • A good dash of tabasco sauce.

Instructions

  1. Place the onions and the garlic into a small bowl with the sherry vinegar to pickle/marinade and season well.
  2. Place the cucumber, peppers, tomatoes, stale bread, herbs & tabasco into a food processor along with a good glug of olive oil. Blitz until roughly chopped.
  3. Add the onion/garlic/vinegar mixture, stir well, and leave to marinade in a fridge overnight.
  4. Before serving, blitz until smooth, season and adjusting the vinegar as necessary. Add more olive oil to loosen and add richness to the dish.
Mushroom Pate Print icon

A quick and easy pate which can be made ahead of time. The trick is not to all too much tarragon, as the flavour develops significantly.

Ingredients

  • 250g mushrooms, either all chestnut or a mixture of white and chestnut
  • 30g butter
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped or minced
  • 200g cream cheese
  • 1 good tablespoon creme fraiche
  • a small sprig of tarragon, chopped
  • salt & pepper to season

Instructions

  1. Clean and trim the mushrooms then chop finely
  2. In a large frying pan melt the butter then fry the mushrooms and garlic until all the moisture has evaporated - about 10 mins - then set aside to cool
  3. Once cool, transfer to a food processor and blend the mushrooms until smooth.
  4. Add the cream cheese, crème fraîche, and tarragon and blend again until well mixed and smooth
  5. Season to taste and then transfer to a bowl and chill, covered, in the fridge for at least an hour before serving.
Lamb Kebabs & Tzatziki Print icon

These lamb kebabs are quick, easy, and great fried as mini-burgers or formed onto skewers and grilled. The recipe below makes quite spicy kebabs - adjust the amount of cayenne pepper to your personal taste (although the tzatziki does help to cool the taste buds). Personally I like to serve these on warm pita breads, for a light lunch or dinner.

Ingredients - Kebabs

  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp mixed herbs
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 medium onion
  • Breadcrumbs or flour to bind
  • 300g Lamb mince
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Pepper to season

Instructions - Kebabs

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl, mixing thoroughly
  2. If unsure of the spices or seasoning, fry a small amount of the mixture and taste.
  3. Divide the mixture into small balls, flatten slightly and fry, or form around skewers and grill under a hot grill until cooked

Ingredients - Tzatziki

  • 1 small tub yoghurt
  • 1/2 cucumber, deseeded and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp dried chopped mint
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt

Instructions - Tzatziki

  1. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl
  2. Adjust the salt and lemon juice according to taste
Soda Bread Print icon

This bread doesn't need to prove or rise and also needs much less kneading than leaven bread which makes it very quick and easy. It stays fresh for a couple of days, and can be toasted for a couple of days more.

Ingredients

  • 6oz self-raising wholemeal flour
  • 6oz plain flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • a small tub of yoghurt, mixed with an equal amount of milk, to make about ½ pint in total

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200°C
  2. Mix all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Add the yoghurt / milk mix and knead lightly to bring the mixture together. Add a little milk if the consistency is too thick.
  4. Shape into a round, cut a deep cross in the top and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes or until hollow sounding.
  5. Turn out onto a wire rack to cool before slicing.
Smoked Mackerel Pate Print icon

The horseradish and lemon juice really help to bring out the flavour of the smoked mackerel in this quick and easy pate. The key thing is to taste the pate and adjust the seasoning as necessary.

Ingredients

  • 2 smoked mackerel fillets
  • ½ tub Creme Fraiche
  • 1 tsp horseradish
  • 2 tbsp chopped chives
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice (to taste)

Instructions

  1. Flake the fish into a small bowl
  2. Add the horseradish and lemon juice and mix in the creme fraiche
  3. Add the chives and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  4. Serve on crackers or thin white toast or with home-made soda bread.
Flapjacks Print icon

Flapjacks are never exactly slimming, and these are no exception. I like to take these on outings, as they make a perfect afternoon snack for those days of strenuous exercise (where you feel like you've earned them).

Ingredients

  • 200g demerara or raw cane sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 200g honey (or any combination of honey, maple syrup and golden syrup)
  • 400g porridge oats
  • ½ tsp vanilla paste (optional)
  • 50g dark chocolate broken into small pieces (optional)

Instructions

  1. If you're using cane sugar then melt the sugar in a heavy bottomed pan and heat until it begins to caramelise taking care not to burn it. If you're using demerara sugar then omit this step, and simply add the demerara to the pan place on the heat and proceed to the next step.
  2. Add the honey and stir over heat until well mixed.
  3. Add butter mix well, and heat until melted.
  4. Add the porridge oats & vanilla paste and stir until mixed
  5. If using chocolate then remove from the heat, add in the chocolate and stir quickly to mix a little before the chocolate melts.
  6. Turn out into a greased, lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes at 160 °C (fan assisted).
  7. Turn out onto a rack to cool, and cut into 3 cm squares once cold.
Ian's Real Lemonade Print icon

Ian's quick and easy recipe for a delicious, real, lemonade. Great served over ice, or as a mixer for Vodka or Rum... If the amount of sugar in the recipe scares you (as it does me) then this turns out fairly well using an artificial sweetener, but be careful not to add too much - I find the manufacturers equivalent measurements a little too generous.

Ingredients

  • 4 lemons + zest of one
  • 120g sugar (or slightly more, to taste)
  • water

Instructions

  1. Weigh the sugar in a 1 litre measuring jug
  2. Add the juice and zest from the lemons
  3. Make up to 1 litre with water, and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Scones & Jam Print icon

Classic scones, with a quick and easy jam - ones that keeps the fruit fresh and light. If using baking powder (rather than self-raising flour) then be sure to pre-heat the oven, and be prepared to move fairly quickly once the ingredients are mixed - the scones will start to rise as soon as the wet ingredients meet the baking powder. To make cheese scones, replace half the butter with 50g grated mature cheddar, and top with more finely grated cheese

Ingredients - Scones

  • 225g/8oz plain flour
  • 4 tsp baking powder
  • pinch of salt
  • 55g/2oz butter
  • 25g/1oz caster sugar
  • 100ml/5fl oz milk
  • 1 free-range egg, beaten

Instructions - Scones

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
  2. Mix together the flour, salt, sugar and baking powder and rub in the butter.
  3. Add the egg and then the milk and mix to get a soft dough.
  4. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2 cm thick. Use a 5 cm cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet.
  5. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
  6. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.
  7. Cool on a wire rack and serve with butter and good jam (like the one below) and maybe some clotted cream.

Ingredients - Jam

  • 500 g strawberries
  • 250g pectin Sugar
  • Vanilla essence
  • Juice of half a lemon

Instructions - Jam

  1. Mix up the fruit, sugar and vanilla essence in a bowl, using your hands to scrunch the fruit a little, until the fruit has become shiny with the dissolved sugar
  2. Boil hard for about 4-5 minutes
  3. Remove from heat and spoon off any scum which has formed
Iced Green Tea Print icon

Classic Iced Tea, made with green tea leaves instead of the usual black. I find this makes a more fragrant, lighter tea, with less tannin. The preparation time is pretty short, but it takes a while for the tea to cool down and chill. The recipe below is for a large tea-pot, with its own leaf strainer.

Ingredients

  • 3 heaped teaspoons green leaf tea
  • 5 heaped teaspoons caster sugar
  • Juice of one lemon

Instructions

  1. Boil a kettle and warm the tea pot
  2. Put the sugar in the pot, and the tea leaves in the strainer.
  3. Pour over the boiling water, cover with a tea cosy and leave to brew for 5 minutes.
  4. Remove the leaf strainer, add lemon juice, stir and taste - adjust sugar and lemon juice for a slightly too sweet, slightly too lemony tea (the flavours will be less strong when cold)
  5. Leave to cool to room temperature (ca. 2 hours)
  6. Place in the fridge until chilled (ca. 2 hours)
  7. Serve in a glass, over ice.