big ideas from a little garden

tales and stories of how we make the most of our garden and our terraced house.

Savory recipies from the tiny budget.

tonight's delight was
Roast pepper and beef pasta.
A filling and rustic way to use up leftover roast beef.

2 red peppers
1 green pepper
1 red onion
4-5 cloves garlic
6 tomatoes
olive oil
balsamic vinegar
hand full of chopped fresh basil
chopped left over beef


put the pasta on to boil in lightly salted water with a dash of oil, to stop it sticking.

roughly chop the veg and place in a roasting tin with a splash of olive oil and a good glug of balsamic vinegar. season to taste and mix in the chopped herbs.
roast for around 30 mins at approx 150 deg.
remove from the tin into a pan and blitz with a stick blender.
put in the chopped beef and reheat.
drain the pasta and fold the sauce into it.
serve from the pan (use a nice rustic looking one)

Leeks, bacon and mushroom in cheese sauce

3-4 Leeks
12 mushrooms
3-4 rashers bacon
1 tbs butter
1 tbs flour plain
1/2 pt milk
6 oz cheese (strong cheddar will do)

Fry the leeks in butter
add the bacon cut into strips
add the sliced mushrooms
if at this point they seem a little dry add more butter
stir in the flour
Cook this for a minute or so to make a roux
start to add the milk little by little to make a sauce, stirring continuously
Stir in most of the grated cheese
transfer to a baking dish
sprinkle cheese over the top and finish in the oven until golden

Best loved in the tinyholding serve with a roast dinner. Also makes a wonderful accompaniment to fish.
Personally I love it served on it's own with thick buttered crusty bread.

Mediterranean balsamic spuds

this is a great accompaniment to both meat and fish dishes. It make a change from boring boiled spuds.

A pile of new potatoes
A punnet of cherry toms
a glug of olive oil
fresh herbs
balsamic vinegar

simple throw all this together in a dish and put in the oven for around 30 mins on a medium heat.

By adding red onion, red peppers, courgettes, any other veg you fancy you can turn this into a main meal to be served with crusty bread. The sweet tomato, vinegar, olive oil juice is wonderful and demands a hefty mopping piece!

One pot, whole chicken curry

 Many years ago I was given a recipe for this by my oldest friend.
I made it quite a few times (in fact I even bought a pot especially for it)
The problem is, it has been some years since I have made it and I never wrote the recipe down.
So here is the recipe from memory (I also changed it a bit over the years). If it lacks something later, I'll let you know.


One whole free range chicken
two cups of rice
two large onions
a couple of sticks of celery
Half a dozen mushrooms
2 heaped table spoons of curry paste of you choice
a couple of chillies
salt & pepper
a gloop of olive oil
(a cup of water to be added as it's cooking if needed, I never have)


First cook the rice until it is al dente with plenty of salt (if you don't season the rice quite well it can taste quite bland) Don't over cook it or you will end up with mush and don't be tempted to not cook it because this doesn't work
Add finely chopped mushrooms and chilli and 1 spoon of curry paste. (I used to use my own blend of herbs and spices but it is so much easier to use pre-made paste and I can't remember the mix I used)
Stuff the chicken with this mixture when it is cool enough to handle.
Slice the onions into rounds and chop the celery. Pile these on the bottom of a large casserole dish.
Place the stuffed chicken on top. If you have any rice left you can put it around the bottom of the chicken so it ends up cooked in the juices.
Rub the remaining paste over the chicken and pour over the glug of oil.
Cover and cook in the oven at around 150 deg for at least three hours.
Uncover the chicken, if it is a very dry mixture (I've never found it to be) you can spoon over some around the bottom mix of onions and rice.
Put it back in the oven for around 10 mins and turn up the heat to 200 deg. This will simply crisp the skin of the chicken.

Serve it directly from the casserole, spooning the aromatic flavoursome rice out of the chicken (It will have cook fully in the chicken juices and taken on so many good flavours.
The chicken will simply fall apart upon carving.
Yum yum yum....

I suppose it should be served with naan to soak up the juices but I'm a philistine and prefer good old crusty bread.

Smoked Haddock and Cheese Tart 


1 sheet of ready roll puff pastry (life is too short to make your own puff pastry)
1 large fillet of undyed smocked haddock
100g strong cheese
extra cheese for grating
1/3 pt milk
tablespoon flour
tablespoon butter
4 hard boiled free range eggs


roll our the sheet of pastry onto a greased baking sheet. Turn up the edges to prevent overflow.
Poach the fish in the milk.
Remove the fish, retain the milk and pick out any skin and/or bones.
Flake the fish evenly over the pastry.
Melt a tablespoon of butter into a large bottomed pan.
Stir in the flour to make a roux.
Slowly add the milk while stirring continually to make a thick white sauce. Add the 100g of cheese and stir it in.
Quarter the eggs length wise and dot them evenly around the tart. Dribble the thick cheese sauce over the top. Grate more cheese over the top and pop into the oven on 180 deg for around 10 minutes. It is cooked when the top is golden and the edges of the pastry have puffed up around the fishy mixture creating a lip.

Served with fresh green salad and potato salad.

Potato Salad with a Slight Twist. 


Enough potatoes to feed the amount you are catering for. I find 1.5 medium sized potatoes are sufficient.
1 egg
a cup of sunflower oil
chopped spring onions (or chives)
a tea spoon of curry paste
salt pepper and lemon juice


chop the potatoes into bite sized pieces and boil them with their skins still on
chop the spring onions
crack the egg into the food mixer
turn the food mixer on to medium
poor the oil into the egg, slowly but in a constant stream. You will see it start to emulsify.
Add salt, pepper, lemon juice to taste.
pop in the tea spoon of curry paste. You can also use garam massala, whole grain mustard, herbs, well pretty much anything to enhance the dish it is accompanying.

Creamy Bacon and Wild Mushroom Pasta


6 slices of thick smoked bacon

A generous amount of wild mushrooms (foraged or bought) NB. Do take care with foraged mushrooms and always make sure you have a correct identification.
1 onion
1 clove of garlic
A generous pinch of thyme (fresh is nicer but dried will do)
A teaspoon of flour
A medium pot of single cream

Enough pasta to feed 4.


Dry fry the sliced bacon in a large bottomed pan.
Add the onions and garlic and cook over a low heat.
Add the mushrooms until they are cooked.
Sprinkle over a pinch of thyme.
Sprinkle over the flour and coat the ingredients.
Add the cream bit by bit while continually stirring.

Cook enough pasta to feed four in well seasoned water. Drain the pasta and retain a small amount of the cooking water.

Toss the whole lot together into a large serving bowl.
Serve with crusty bread and a generous twist of pepper. 

Sweet and Sour Sauce.

This fed a fair few and is intended to make around 15 portions. It freezes well.


One bottle of white wine vinegar
Half a bag of light brown muscavado sugar
Around 5-8 tablespoons of honey.
A large dollop of crushed ginger (to your own preference but there was quite a bit in the Skill share sauce)
Either one whole pineapple chopped or two large tins of pineapple chunks.
about half a cup of tomato sauce
a slosh of light soy sauce


Add the sugar and vinegar to a pan and warm to dissolve the sugar. Bung the rest in and simmer for around 15 mins.
That's it!

You can either slow cook whatever meat/fish/veg in it or you can pour it over after cooking.

Spanish Style Fish Stew


A couple of fillets of white fish. (We used halibut)
A bag of prawns
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 courgette
1 small onion
1 tin chopped toms
2 tsps (or more if you like it stronger" paprika
2 large glasses of dry white wine


Open the wine and pour yourself 1 large glass to be sipped while cooking.
Slice the onion and peppers lengthwise and add them to the pan (I used the slow cooker and it worked well)
Chop the courgette into matchsticks and add it to the pan.
Cut the white fish into chunks and add it to the pan.
Pour over the tomatoes and 1 glass of wine.
Add the paprika and season to taste.
Simmer until cooked (usually about 30-45 mins)
About five mins from the end add the prawns (if you put them in at the beginning they go a bit tough)

Ideally serve steaming hot with lots of thick cut buttered bread.

Emergency Roast Lamb Risotto

 Last night we were planning a roast. However, in my dimness I put the wrong joint in the oven and there was not enough on it for our hungry hoards.

So I quickly cobbled together this risotto (Then I realised I didn't have any stock). As is often the case it was possibly one of the best I had ever improvised so here it is.


A heap of roast lamb (we ended up with shoulder)
2-3 onions
2-3 cloves of garlic
1 large courgette
1 small bag of risotto rice
boiling water
S&P to taste
grated cheddar to taste. 


Sweat a few onions and a large amount of garlic with a about a fifth of a block of salted butter in a large pan (this was to accommodate the lack of flavoursome stock)
Add a finely chopped courgette.
Soften slightly and then add the rice.
Cook the mixture in the butter for around 10 mins over a low heat.
Begin to add the water a bit by bit. Allowing the rice to absorb the water before adding more.
When the rice is slightly al dente take off the heat, stir in the cheese and lamb and leave to stand for a further 10 mins.
Season to taste.

Serve with the roast potatoes you had already cooked.

Mild pumpkin curry


One gourd of your choice (I used a butternut squash this time)
two onions
six toms
a couple of tbs of mild curry paste
a pint of veg stock
a yellow pepper
a tin of chickpeas
a handful of chopped coriander
2-3 tbs greek yoghurt.


chop the onion and the pumpkin and place in a hot pan to brown. Soften for around ten mins. Add the pepper and the curry paste and cook for a further couple of mins.
Pour over the stock. Simmer for a further 5-10 mins until the pumpkin is soft. Add the chickpeas and tomatoes and cook for a further ten mins of a gentle simmer. Stir through the coriander and yoghurt.
Serve with accompaniment of your own choice. We had rice.
It is also low fat.
It makes 4 generous portions.

One Pot Roast Chicken and Pumpkin


1 pumpkin
6-7 shallots
1 tbs dried sage
3 carrot
1 swede
1 parsnip
1/2 pt chicken stock

1 whole free range chicken.


peel and chop all the veg, halve the onions and lay on the bottom of a chicken roaster or a deep baking dish.
sprinkle over half the sage.
Add about 1/2 pt of stock
Pop the chicken on the top and rub in salt & pepper and the rest of the sage.
Cover with the roaster lid or foil and cook in a moderate oven (150 deg) for 2-3 hours.
Take the cover off for the last 20 mins and turn up the oven to crisp the chicken skin.

When it is cooked the veg should be a lovely infused mess. Serve it with a spoon of the veg and slices of the chicken on top.
It's quite a sweet dish so I like to serve it with garlic mash and some sort of dark green veg.

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