Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale


An Autumnal risotto that is a lovely alternative recipe for when you want to do something a little more sophisticated but yet its still a great frugal “fridge raid” recipe.
 Risottos are a great way of using up what veg you need to. Plus with this dish you are using up any Pumpkin you may still have lying around as many just get thrown away or not bought at all throughout their season. Many just used for decoration. 
  You can even get the children involved in helping squeezing out all the orange coloured flesh.
 Use the Seeds by roasting them in the oven as a tasty snack and if you have any Risotto leftover, make Arancini the next day.
  Leeks and Kale are also in season at this time of year so if you like to cook along with them like me, this is the perfect dish for you.

 I did this recipe first for BBC Radio Leicester on my regular cooking slot for Ben Jackson’s show.  However this time, Ed Stagg was filling in for him. You can hear me showing Ed here how to make it.

 It was so popular, I decided to then do it for my weekly column.

Pumpkin risotto with pearl barley, leeks and bacon topped with crispy kale:


1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil

2-3 handfuls of Carnaroli risotto rice
a good splash of dry white wine
a handful of pearl barley cooked in a little chicken stock 
1 clove of garlic finely chopped
1 medium sized onion diced finely
1/4 leek sliced
1/4 small farmed pumpkin peeled and diced. Plus use some of the flesh inside to squeeze out the orange juice. ( I bought mine from a local Farm called Cattow’s Farm)
800ml homemade chicken stock or 1 gel pot chicken stock to 800ml water, can use veg stock if keeping vegetarian
2 rashers of smoked bacon sliced
Few gratings of parmesan cheese ( parmigiano reggiano )
handful of unsalted butter cold and diced
cracked black pepper to season 

Crispy Kale: 

A few handfuls of Curly kale

2 tbsp rapeseed oil
sprinkle of sea salt to season and sugar


*  Cook off pearl barley to packet instructions.

*  Sweat off chopped onion in a pan and cook until starting to go translucent 

*  Add garlic, stir and then pop in your rice. Stir but not too much.Then de glaze your pan with wine.Cook until starting to reduce.

*  Add in hot Chicken stock then ladle by ladle for about 10 minutes, not allowing to stick, but not string too much as this will make the rice glutinous

*  pop in your Kale in the oven on 200c or 190 fan for 5 minutes.

*  Add in your chopped pumpkin to the risotto and cook for further 5 minutes, then add your leek and cook for a further 3 minutes.

*  Fry off your bacon in a separate pan till it goes crispy on the edges

*  Then add in your cooked pearl barley and stir only a little. Here you can squeeze the inside bright coloured flesh into the risotto to make an orange colour

*  Add your butter to the risotto, plus a little parmesan and cracked black pepper,  turn the heat off and cover with a lid.

*  Serve in large bowls, top with the bacon, then kale and a snow of parmesan.


Sausage, vegetable and apple traybake

This oven-roasted meal really is incredibly easy to make. Not to mention how inexpensive it is also.
 After a long day the last thing you need is to be slaving over the oven or even waiting a long time for something to cook. Plus, now that Autumn is making more of an appearance and becoming darker in the evenings this is the perfect comfort, pick me up food and with a little cheekiness from the cider I’ve popped in there.
 Ive used apples in this recipe as it just adds an extra burst of sweetness against the sausages and sage in there. Plus lots of people are giving them away due to bumper crops this year. 
  If you have a family get-together coming up or you just want to do a Sunday lunch thats a little easier, this is a perfect choice for that. Leftovers can be chopped up and put into a spicy tomato pasta bake.
 With the lovely colours it gives off, it truly is Autumn in one dish really.

Sausage, vegetable and apple traybake:

(Serves 2)
–    1-2 tbsp Rapeseed oil
  • 6 British sausages ( I used a Pork and chive variety)
  • 2 red onions sliced into wedges
  • 2 garlic cloves crushed and roughly chopped
  • 1 chicken stock cube crumbled over or half a gel pot
  • 1-2 parsnips roughly diced
  • 1 red pepper roughly diced
  • 1 orange pepper or yellow diced roughly
  • 2 apples, something like a British cox 
  • 2-3 potatoes peeled and chopped into inch size chunks
  • a good sprig of thyme
  • a few fresh sage leaves
  • 200ml Apple cider
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp honey 
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • Preheat oven to 190c. In a frying pan, brown off the sausages.
  • Coat all vegetables in oil, ( not the peppers or apples yet )and pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
  •   After 15 minutes coat the vegetables with the honey and mustard, add the peppers, thyme, garlic, stock and seasoning.
  • Place the sausages in between the veg and pour into your frying pan the cider to get all the sticky juice from the sausages.then pour that into your traybake.

*  Pop back into the oven for a further 15 minutes. After that put your apples and sage in-between the sausages and veg and pop back into the oven for approximately another 15 minutes or when all golden and cooked.

I couldn’t help diving in with a knife and fork before even serving it up, it was THAT nice!


Pork and Apple Burgers with Oozing Mozzarella for Food Friday on BBC Radio Leicester

For “Food Friday” On BBC Radio Leicester Last Friday, I decided that I would do a recipe that people could get their children involved with.  As you are all aware of by now I do this with Ben Jackson on his show and Seeing as it was Half term and also with Halloween just around the corner,  I began to think about what children would like to make and eat around this time of the year.  Ben has Children also, so I was hoping that they could have a go at this with Ben over the weekend.

Click on this Link to Hear me on the show with Ben making them! 

  I realise it doesn’t look spooky or comical for Halloween (the oozing-ness maybe?) But this recipe will go down a storm if you have children and Adults coming round. I am definitely making more of these possibly again this weekend. I loved the alternative of using Pork and Apple. I might even try different cheeses inside, but it can’t be too strong as it will just overpower the meat. 
   This recipe has been a winner with my Fiancé too and he normally loves a big fat juicy Beef burger, so If he likes it, that’s good enough for me! 

Pork and Apple Burgers with Oozing Mozzarella:


(Makes Approximately 5-6 burgers)

–  Approximately 500g of Pork Mince
–  2 Tbsp of Rapeseed Oil
–  1 large onion diced finely 
–  1 Clove of Garlic finely chopped 
– Half of one side of an Apple Grated ( I used English Gala )
–  1 Level Tbsp of Sage 
– 1 Level Tbsp of Fresh Parsley
–  Salt and Cracked Black Pepper to season
–  1 Tsp of Dijon Mustard
–  1 Tbsp of Tomato Puree
–  1 1/2 slice of White bread into Breadcrumbs
–  1 Ball of Mozzarella
– BreadBuns
– Salad= I used Iceberg lettuce, Round lettuce, tomato, onion and cucumber


–  Preheat Oven at 190c,

–  Fry off your chopped Onion and Garlic in a splash of Rapeseed oil in a Frying Pan until Golden brown,

–  Mix all ingredients together (minus oil) into a mixing bowl with your Hands,

–  Roll a small handful of the mixture into a ball, Press an inch sized ball of the Mozzarella into the middle, roll back into a ball and flatten into a burger.

– Repeat process for how many burgers you need.

–  Fry off Burgers into a separate frying pan 3-4 minutes each side and then place onto a baking tray for about 12 minutes.

–  In the meantime Prepare your Salad and Buns and a minute or two before the burgers are done, Place Buns open on a tray to toast slightly.

–  Assemble and tuck in!