Attempting to make it as a writer

Archive for the ‘starter’ Category

Leek and Potato Soup

There is nothing more warming after a day cheering the children from the sidelines in the cold wind and pouring rain than a steaming bowl of soup. To serve with warm crusty homemade bread you either neither to be ultra efficient or have a partner in crime to put in the oven as you are on your way home.   These days lots of places sell freshly baked so I am guilty of resorting to picking up a loaf on the way.

Many soups need to be made  early on and left to cook but this one I can get away with making and serving once all the potatoes are soft and falling apart.  Just time enough for them to get out of the shower as I throw the ingredients together and then I can shower and warm whilst it cooks.

Onions chopped
Leeks sliced  lots I like it thick and warming
Potatoes cut into small pieces – again lots 
Sherry  – a good splash of this
Chicken stock
Cream and parsley for decoration

Heat the oil gently then add the onions and leeks .  Let them soften rather than fry.  It will not take long so be careful to keep an eye as they can turn quickly.

Add the potatoes.   Stir well then add the good splash of sherry – this is of course optional but the alcohol cooks off and the piquancy of the sherry brings out a fresh depth of flavour in the potatoes.   

Add the chicken stock and bring it to the boil.  If there is not enough liquid, water can be added or if you have some vegetable water add this.  Once boiling turn it to simmer and allow the potatoes to soften and fall apart when touched with a knife probably about 20 minutes.
I use my hand blender in the pan but some people prefer to liquidise and place in a fresh pan.   Serve it from the pan or add to your soup tureen and decorate with the cream and parsley.  Serve with a warm crusty bed and feel the warmth radiate from your insides.   Windy wet sports pitches will be a distant memory in no time.

Enjoy,  let me know what you do to your soups to enhance them. When do you enjoy a bowl of steaming soup?

I always try to make extra for the week ahead, unfortunately one bowl is never enough so there is never any left for my weekday lunches.


Have a look at what I have been up to on my other blog  Tiggy Hayes

Stuffed Avocado

Avocados are such a strange ingredient – I often buy them when they are on offer and they sit in the fridge never actually getting used.   That is exactly how this dish was created.  We were looking for something to use up what I had in the cupboard and initially I threw this together.  Although we have now had it a few times, having bought the ingredients or saved them on purpose.

So what did I have in my fridge:

2 Avocados
1/2 a large aubergine chopped to bite sized chunks
chilli  chopped finely 
onions chopped finely
garlic chopped finely
red pepper chopped in to slices

Fry the onions and as they soften add the garlic and chilli

Add in the aubergines and maybe a touch more oil followed by the peppers.  Allow all the vegetables to cook through particularly the aubergines.

Mean while  cut the avocados in half and take out the stone.  Place on a baking tray.

When the stirred vegetables are ready, fill the avocados with the mix and sprinkle liberally with cheese.  I used cheddar but stilton would go well with its strong taste.  Feta or even parmisan would both be good. 

Cook for about 20 minutes in a hot oven – if you cook straight from the preparation you could grill these but I prefer the Avocados to be piping hot all the way through.   

Bring to the table and serve.  We eat this as a complete meal; two half avocados each with a watercress salad.  You could serve just one as a starter or even as an accompaniment to cold meats and pickle.

Try it with your cupboard ingredients and see how it turns out like.



see what I have been up to on my other blog Tiggy Hayes

Minestrone Soup

Weekend lunches are always a bit hit and miss.  As the children grow they have different activities.  A formal lunchtime is no longer an option, so I try to create lunches which can be eaten as they and their extra friends pass through the house.

Soups are warming, welcoming and they can be as hearty and cleverly filled with vegetables without the children realising.   Minestrone is a particular favourite.  It takes a little more preparation but is definitely worth the extra effort.  The earlier you prepare it in the day the better the flavours blend and the richer the soup tastes.

onions finely chopped 
bacon small lardons
leeks finely chopped 
carrots finely chopped
other vegetables you wish to use up – chop finely
splash of sherry
tinned tomatoes 
chicken stock
spaghetti  chopped into tiny pieces
grated parmesan or cheddar to garnish

Heat the oil and add the onions and begin to soften

Add the bacon lardons and let them start to cook.

Add the other vegetables depending on how long they need cooking carrots should be early on with green beans if you are using followed by softer vegetables like leeks.

Keep stirring occasionally to stop it sticking.

Add a splash of Sherry or sometimes I use Masala if I have no Sherry.  Stir well.

Stir in the tinned tomatoes and then add the chicken stock. bring to the boil.  Allow it to boil well for a few minutes.

Keeping it boiling add the broken up pasta, allowing it to continue cooking for long enough to cook the pasta “al dente”.  Add extra water if required.

Keep cooking this for as long as required on a low heat, remembering to stir occaisionally.

When the time comes serve with the grated cheese and with warm crusty bread of your choice. warming, popular and great to stretch for unexpected guests.

Enjoy and let me have your soup recipes to try out.


take a look at my complex and busy life in my other blog Tiggy Hayes

Caramelised Onion and Tomato Tart

Some times you have a glut of something left in the fridge and nothing seems to use these particular ingredients so they sit around waiting to go off.   That is when I try to create something and regular dishes find themselves having added ingredients.

We had a surplus of tomatoes and onions having been given a whole load of each.    I was not going to waste them. In this instance I had made my own pastry but bought would work just as well.

Onions lots and lots sliced thinly
butter (butter is best for caramelising but you could use oil if necessary)
brown sugar – I use muscavado and probably not as much
Spinach – I always have this in the fridge and it lines the dish giving it a rich colour but you don’t have to use it.
Tomatoes – lots again sliced 
Mozerella cheese –  roughly  torn into small chunks 

Melt the butter and fry the onions very gently, stirring often so they don’t burn.

when they are really soft add the brown sugar and stir in well.

initially it will liquify but keep stirring to coat the onions really well and continue on a really gentle heat. 

When the sugar has all evaporated and the onions are almost golden in colour take it from the heat and allow to cool slightly.   We are now ready to put it all together.

Roll out your pastry and line your dish

you can build your layers however you want; I like spinach on the base, onions in the middle with the tomatoes spread over the top.  This could be repeated if you had enough of the fillings.

It was after the tomato layer I threw in some salt and a good helping of pepper but that is a matter of choice

a good covering of mozzerella cheese and the tart is ready for the oven.

A hot oven for 20 minutes or until the cheese is melting, bubbling and turning golden.  The smell of fresh tomatoes wafts through the house and the children miraculously appear demanding food.

This makes a great lunch dish or if you have to take a dish to some buffet event, you don’t have to eat it hot.   

Enjoy and let me know if you have any recipes for using up extra.


Check out my other blog at Tiggy Hayes

Potato and Leek Soup

Saturday lunchtime during the cold miserable winter will find me at home having made a pot of warming soup with some home made bread to complement it.  I have a huge repertoire of differing soups but we always come back to the family favourite; Potato (and leek).    With three fussy boys and an abhorrence of any kind of green vegetables the soup soon became just Potato; I get away with it as the veg is all puréed at the time of serving.

This is quick and simple to make, but like most good soups does benefit for leaving to simmer for an hour or so.  I like the ease of hardly chopping the vegetables and just throwing them in the pot.

butter /oil
onion skinned and chopped roughly 
leeks (top and tailed) then roughly chopped
potatoes – lots peeled and chopped into large chunks
cream to serve 
parsley to serve

Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan
Turn the heat down and add the onions and leeks 
Fry gently

Add the potatoes and toss well 

Add the sherry (my secret ingredient that gives depth to the soup).  I add a good slug and mix the veg well so they are all coated.  

Let the veg cook very gently (low heat) in the sherry till it has all gone and appears almost caramalised.

Add your stock.  Use plenty and you can top up with water if you do not have enough.  (I use my own stock – ham water, chicken bones and veg boiled up – this makes the soup  already quite salty but a stock cube works just as well)

Bring the soup to the boil and turn the heat down again allowing the soup to simmer.   This can be served after the potatoes are soft enough to begin to break down, however the longer the soup is left the deeper the taste.

When you are ready to serve the soup, put it in the blender and liquidise it.  It should be thick and warming, rather than liquid.

Serve with a spiral of cream, a parsley garnish for the more discerning and home made bread still warm from the oven (Middle Son made these delicious cheese buns)

Enjoy.  Let me know your secret ingredient and what it brings to a simple bowl of soup


Find out what I am up to in my other blog

Tag Cloud