Toulouse Sausage

Fantastic flavours are the order of the day here. Sausage flavoured with wine and garlic – what’s not to like?

I’d love to try the real thing one day but these supermarket versions were ‘created’ by Pierre Koffmann apparently. That’s a good thing. To be fair, they tasted pretty good too.

I served them up with a kind of speedy butter bean stew for a nice, quick and easy bistro-style dinner:

(Serves 2)


  • 4 Toulouse sausages
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 large tin of butter beans, drained and rinsed (which I used for speed) or 150g dried butter beans soaked overnight
  • Half a green and half a red pepper, chopped
  • Two large tomatoes, seeds removed and diced
  • 250ml chicken stock
  • Sprig of thyme, leaves only
  • Chopped basil leaves
  • Salt & Pepper
For the butter beans stew:
If using dried beans (having been soaked overnight), gently simmer in water for around 30 minutes first until softened and tender. Heat the oil in a small pan and add the tomatoes, peppers and a good pinch of salt. Saute for a little while then add the beans, stock and thyme.

Simmer gently for 10-15 minutes to heat through and absorb the flavours, but be careful not to overdo it, especially if using tinned beans. Add chopped basil and season with the pepper.

Whilst simmering, grill the sausages as instructed, but for about 10-15 minutes. Alternatively, fry them!
In hindsight, some French beans or buttered spinach would have been a good accompaniment. Next time……

Down Under

Two good friends of mine were lucky enough to spend an entire MONTH travelling across Australia recently. I asked them to send me pictures of anything interesting they sampled en route. I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what constitutes Australian food other than the stereotypes of barbecue, Vegemite and seafood, but that’s my ignorance. It seems, like the UK, they’ve adopted a lot of other cultural cuisines. But, from what I can see, light and fresh seems to be way of things. I guess this goes for most countries which, very much unlike the UK, are bathed in sunshine!

So, on their behalf here are some of the highlights!


Pork belly sandwich. Mouth watering and yet, literally, heart-stopping….


Gourmet crepes with kangaroo (yes, kangaroo) prosciutto, bush tomato chutney, egg cheese and baby spinach


Crushed avocado, feta and lemon juice focaccia


Mushrooms with balsamic reduction, feta and wilted spinach on sour dough bread.

Chilli Basil Chicken Burger

A nice quick one tonight!

Sometimes, (but only sometimes!) like most people,  I can’t really be bothered to spend an hour or so in the kitchen after a long day at work. This takes 15 minutes tops, if you have everything ready.

Chicken, the blank canvas that it is, means these burger are completely customisable too. I was thinking of using some coriander, fish sauce and lime for a Thai flavour. Or, you could throw in some curry spices or cajun spices of course and change the condiments to match.

I went for chilli and basil with a little garlic oil here though.

Ingredients and method:

Simplicity itself really –  just blitz two chicken breasts in a food processor with a whole (mild-ish) red chilli, a handful of basil leaves, two good sized pinches of salt and a glug of garlic infused oil.

Wet your hands and scoop out the mixture, forming into two burger-patty shapes.

Heat a griddle pan until you’re on the verge of setting off the smoke and alarms and add the patties. Once you start to see the sides colouring all the way up (5-6 mins or so), flip them over for another 5 mins or until cooked through.

Try not to overcook them or they will dry out, so a temperature probe is useful here (insert it at a low angle though to get the centre).

Set the cooked patties aside and char the buns a little on the griddle. Serve it up with salad leaves, tomato and some cracked black pepper mayo.

Smoked Salmon and Leek Quiche

I thought I’d try out a quiche this afternoon. Not words I thought I’d be saying as a younger man, but then I suppose things change as one, err, ‘matures’.

Besides, quiche is a kind of Gallic pizza. Working from a base of shortcrust, and unsweetened custard you can go on to produce all manner of combinations to taste. I thought I’d try smoked salmon and leek, mainly as that was what I found rummaging through the fridge.

Sorry, salmon is featuring a lot on this blog I know, but I did have a fair bit left over from the party last week. That’s mainly because, I’d forgotten all about it and left it in the fridge. For the record, I do recognise that other fish species exist and are edible….


  • 225-250g shortcrust pastry (the BBC do a recipe here that always delivers for me)
  • 200ml double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 100g smoked salmon, chopped into small pieces.
  • 1 medium sized leek, finely sliced
  • Small knob of butter and 2 tsp oil for frying
  • Handful grated parmesan cheese
  • Handful of grated cheddar cheese
  • tsp of chopped dill (optional)
  • Salt and pepper


Start by softening the leek: add the oil and butter to a small frying pan and gently fry with a pinch of salt until softened. Turn off the heat and leave to cool whilst you get on with the next stages.

Very lightly butter or oil a smallish circular baking tin (if using a solid one). You won’t need to if using a loose base version, but I don’t have any.

Roll the pastry into a large circle so that it fits into the tin with plenty overhanging (4 or 5cm). This extra will help ward off shrinkage in the oven.

Gently press the pastry into the sides of the tin and use a fork create small holes to ensure the base doesn’t puff up. To be sure, I lined the top of the pastry with baking parchment and baking beads (courtesy of my friend Sarah). I used a tip flying around at the moment which is to screw up the paper first so it’s flexible and doesn’t need to be cut to fit.

Blind bake the pastry at 190ºC (Gas 5) for 25 minutes or until golden. I removed the parchment for the last 10 minutes to help it crisp up better.

Whilst that’s baking, you can make the filling:

Whisk the eggs in a bowl and simply combine all the remaining ingredients, including the now cooled leeks. Season with salt and pepper (I tasted the mixture at this point in case something was needed, but just to point out, there is raw egg in there….)

Once the pastry case is ready take out the oven and allow to cool for a little while on a stand. Leave the oven on though as it won’t be too long until it goes back in. When cooled enough to do so, neatly trim off the excess pastry from the edge with a sharp (but not your best) knife.

Pour in the mixture and return to the oven for around 30 minutes, or until the top has started to brown and the middle is ‘springy’.

Leave to cool, again, and serve it up still warm if you can. Just as nice cold though of course…..

Party time!

To celebrate my wife’s 40th we held a party, for the first time really, since our kitchen ‘upgrade’ last year.

I took on the challenge of making the food (with the help of our friend Sarah) including the bread and was therefore pretty much at it from 09:00 until the guests began arriving. Never the less, I thoroughly enjoyed it and hopefully it went down well with everyone. And stayed down of course….

Having been on a relatively healthy food spree recently I went for an American theme for the evening – big flavours and plenty of it.

Centre piece was the pulled pork, which I put in the oven 130c for about 8 hours. Low and slow as I believe Heston Blumenthal put it, or maybe someone was trying to insult me, but whatever, it’s a long time. Served up in homemade bread buns, with homemade coleslaw, itself made with homemade mayonnaise it was pretty good. I think you can see why it took me all day now….


I also made corn dogs, which I first tried on a trip to Vegas. Great for parties, but wasn’t sure they were quite so good after keeping in a warm oven for an hour or so.

What else? Burgers on the barbecue of course, some southern part-fried chicken which I started in the fryer and finished in the oven and a chilli using aforementioned Heston Blumenthal’s spiced butter, which I think worked well.

Vic again made a fabulous ganache based cake and we got Helen’s colleague’s wife to knock up some great cup-cakes.

All finished off with a barrel of award winning Workie Ticket (complete with hand pull courtesy of Geoff and Catherine) and Vic’s extensive cocktail range!

A great day, or technically, two days. Salad for week now though.