Cauliflower, leek and chorizo gratin with a parmesan crumb topping.


So, this is my new blog. What do you think?

I thought what a better way to kick start it off but with a recipe that went out on last Friday for one of my regular shows I do for BBC Radio Leicester, “Food Friday” which I have done for a few years now. It’s on my friends show, that of course is the lovely Mr Ben Jackson. I love cooking on “Food Friday” as I love being able to help people think of ideas for the weekend. I normally do something seasonal, inexpensive, fridge raids/leftovers and family friendly recipes. You get the gist.

This dish is a simple recipe for a family of four all put together in one dish.It’s using seasonal ingredients at its best with a little something extra.

You could also have this as a side dish or starter in smaller sized dishes (how I have shown on the pictures). It’s a dish you really don’t need to be accurate with ingredients. You can play around with it a little, i.e if you don’t want to have the chorizo in it, its also great as that lovely parmesan crumb on top gives a special crunch. It would make a great dinner party dish that doesn’t have you slaving in the kitchen too.

It really is a super, simple supper that is inexpensive to make.

Click on this link to hear to me showing Ben and our listeners just how fabulous and easy it is to make.  


Half way point!


Depending on how big your dish is, this is based on serving 4 people in a 25cm gratin dish.

Gratin mix:

  •  1 whole head of cauliflower including using some of the leaves. Florets broken apart and sliced downwards to the stalks.
  • 1 leek sliced thinly
  • 1/2 chorizo ring ( approximately 100g ) chopped into smaller cubes
  • cheddar cheese grated, I used a mature British ( approximately 60-70g )
  • A sprig of thyme, if the leaves are quite large, chop them finely. My herbs are from my garden so I didn’t need to and just stripped off the leaves.
  • 300g carton of double cream ( you may not need to use it all, don’t cover the gratin mix with it )
  • 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • A few knobs of Unsalted butter
  • salt and cracked black pepper to season

Crumb topping:

  •  2 slices of bread ( a few days old ) I used wholemeal which gives more flavour
  • 2 spring onions chopped roughly
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season
  • 2-3 tbsp Parmesan ( Parmigiana reggiano ) grated some in the crumb mix and some for on top


At the finish, bubbling away nicely



  •  Preheat your oven to 180c fan.


  •  Blanch off your cauliflower until just starting to soften.


  • In the meantime, in a blender/processor blitz together the ingredients for your topping.


  • In your chosen dish place a layer of cauliflower at the bottom. Then layer up with your leeks, chorizo, garlic, cheese and thyme. Then finish with cauliflower again on top.


  • Pour over your double cream and place your knobs of butter on top. Pop in the oven for 15 mins until things are starting to bubble and brown. Take out and put your crumb topping on. Place back in the oven for another 10 mins.


  • When golden brown onto, serve with perhaps some crusty bread, a nice salad and a lovely red wine.



Diving in!



Wheres that red wine and crusty bread?


Summer roast vegetable salad

This may seem like JUST a Roasted vegetable salad to you, but to me it screams out a whole lot more. One might say this resembles a Panzanella, a Tuscan bread salad with tomatoes, olive oil and herbs served in summer, maybe it is?

  Throughout summer I always roast off a medley of these vegetables as the produce is pretty much all  in season now and to me its just like summer in a bowl. I love the colours it gives off and the flavours are just immense. Another great thing regarding this little dish is that if you are a Kitchen gardener like myself, at some point, such as now in summer some of your homegrown vegetables will be used in it if not all. Its great for a glut of tomatoes, courgettes or peppers.

  Roasting mediterranean vegetables can be the basis of creating so many other dishes from it. Here is just a short list of examples for you:
  • Use it as a topping for Pizza or on bruschetta’s 
  •   Turn into a gratin by adding cheese on top and placing back in the oven
  •   Make quiche or tarts
  •   Add chickpeas and some Moroccan spice or Indian spices to make a curry
  •   Also adding feta cheese and olives gives a greek feel
  •   Mix through Rice
  •   By adding it to Pasta, popping on a rich cheese sauce with some dijon mustard in will make an amazing Pasta Bake.
  • I could go on…
Or simply of course this dish can be the great accompaniment for barbecued/grilled meats or fish.
  However going back to the dish alone, Ive added fennel to mine and lots of herbs which give it that extra flavour. I personally love to sit outside with a big bowl of this and of course a large glass of wine to wash it down.  As I said…Summer in a bowl.

  •   2 tbsp Rapeseed oil or Olive
  •   2 Cloves of Garlic roughly chopped
  • 1 small courgette trimmed
  • 1 red pepper and yellow pepper 
  • 1 Baby fennel trimmed , cut through the middle into 4-5 pieces 
  • 2 handfuls of cherry/baby plum/piccolo tomatoes halved, I used British Vittoria ones
  • 1/2 Aubergine trimmed
  • 1-2 red onions
  • Handful of fresh herbs finely chopped: Oregano, Lemon thyme or normal thyme, Basil, parsley
( If you don’t have Lemon thyme, use normal and then grate about a 1/4 of lemon zest)
–   Sea salt and cracked black pepper to season
Croutons for the Salad
  • 2 Slices of Bread ( couple of days old) chopped into squares
  • 1-2 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  • 1 clove of garlic bashed
  • Salt and cracked black pepper to season
  •   Sprig of Rosemary finely chopped
  • Preheat oven to 200c 
  • Chop all vegetables into similar size chunks, 2-3 cm
  • Place all vegetables ( not tomatoes )into an oven proof dish add the oil, garlic and season. mix through with your hands
  • Pop into the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Drizzle oil over croutons, season and coat with the rosemary. Dry fry in a pan until golden brown.
  • After 15 minutes add your most of your fresh herbs and tomatoes and pop back in the oven for approximately 30 minutes or until cooked through.
*  Toss the croutons through, add the rest of your herbs, a good drizzle of oil and serve in a large bowl.


Indian spiced warm cauliflower and chickpea salad with homemade tortilla chips

I won’t be sharing all of my recipes I do for my column and other work on here all of the time but I felt I had to with this one.  It has proven to be very popular, more than I thought.  I had one young lady ask me in my local supermarket about it so I felt I should share it on here also. 
  Before though I wasn’t sure wether people would like this?  I know that sounds strange but just in the fact of it being quite a fusion style dish of Mexico meets India.  However Im so pleased to say I have no worries of that now. 

  So, you may wonder why there are tortilla chips on this dish being an Indian inspired one but the main reason for it is to show how easy you can use up different types of flatbreads you may have that need using up, such as Chapatti’s from the night before or pitta breads. I know for sure whenever I open a pack of tortillas or make homemade chapatti’s, Ive always got some left, hence why I used the tortilla wraps in this one. The young lady that asked me about this recipe, loved this part of the recipe.  You may recall I mentioned about doing this on Rupal Rajani’s show talking about Leftovers on BBC Radio Leicester last year.

  This recipe is a lovely spiced mix and match dish, the idea is to get a bit of each and the flavours will burst in your mouth together. Serve this with your favourite chutneys and pickles.  It is great for a Lunch, a picnic or even watching a film and if you have any left over you can use it again the day after in a wrap, with rice or as a cold salad.

Warm Indian spiced Cauliflower and chickpea salad with homemade Spicy Tortilla chips:


( Serves 2 people as a sharing dish)

Warm dish:

  • 1/2 small cauliflower ( slice down the florets ) plus use the green part too, adds great flavour
  • 1/2 400g tin of chickpeas drained and rinsed 
  • small red onion sliced
  • Handful of fresh spinach or frozen
  • 1-2 tbsp of Rapeseed oil or any oil of your choice
  • thumbnail size of grated fresh Ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 thin green indian chilli chopped finely
  •   1 tsp  cumin ( All ground spices from Spice Kitchen)
  •   1 tsp  turmeric 
  •   1 tsp  ground coriander
  •   1 tsp  chilli powder
  •   1 tsp garam masala  

Cold mixed salad:

  • Good handful of fresh Spinach leaves or any leaf of your choice
  •   Chopped fresh tomatoes
  •   Cucumber sliced
  •   Red onion sliced
  •   Carrot thinly sliced 
  •   Radish sliced lengthways
  •   Fresh coriander 
  •   Fresh mint 
  •   Cracked Black pepper to season and a squeeze of lemon
Tortilla Chips:

  • Tortilla wraps cut into triangles
  •   3 tbsp of rapeseed oil
  •   1 tsp Garam masala ( Spice Kitchen )
  •   1 tsp Chilli powder ( Spice Kitchen )
  •   sprinkle of sea salt to season


Warm Salad:

  • Blanch off your chickpeas and your cauliflower in slated boiling water for about 3-4 minutes.

  • fry your red onion, garlic, ginger and spices for a couple of minutes on a medium heat.

  • Drain your Cauliflower and chickpeas and add to the frying pan. Cook fro another 2 minutes, stirring so all is coated in the lovely spices

  • Add your Spinach to the mix and cook for another minute or two.

Tortilla Chips:

  • Preheat oven to 190c

  • Place all triangles on a baking tray and drizzle with oil

  • Add your spices to it

  • Pop in the oven for approximately 7 minutes or until starting to turn golden brown.

* Assemble all salad together, serve in separate bowls, add your chutneys and pickles and you’re done.


Talking Leftovers on Rupal Rajani’s show for BBC Radio leicester

Back in October, I was asked by the lovely Rupal Rajani to appear on her Lunchtime show on BBC Radio Leicester. I regular already appear on BBC Radio Leicester as a Food Friday cook on Ben Jackson’s show.  However, Rupal was doing a Food Waste Challenge for a national campaign called Love Food Hate Waste. This is supported by our Leicestershire County Council. 
Matt Copley had contacted her about this.  They teach people how to make their food last longer through leftovers, storage and saving money on their food shopping Bills.  Rupal was doing really well but wanted to find out more of how herself and her listeners could make their leftovers go that bit further. So I was thoroughly pleased and honoured to help Rupal and appear on her show.

  I had heard a lady previously on the show who was on the challenge also chatting about the fact that she was throwing away bread crusts as her children didn’t like them.  Immediately my head was bouncing with ideas and I wanted to shout out above the rooftops to people on how they could use them. I decided that I would talk about Leftover Bread and give my routine of what I do at home…

You can hear Rupal and I here on this link:

   I assumed that most people acted the same way I do with saving leftovers but it appeared I had inherited the name of being a bit of a, and I quote, from Mr Ben Jackson “A Leftover Queen”!  I quite liked that title, I knew then, that maybe I was doing a bit more than others and once I had been on the show, I knew I could help people with my background, especially from being a Chef.  We are always taught to never throw things away. Of course using things in a safe and correct manner I must add though.  I suppose my knowledge of this always started from being a young child. My Grandma did it, My Mum and Dad did it and as I am a miners daughter, throughout the miners strike in the early eighties I saw my mum always trying to make meals stretch for us. 


I had taken in Arancini, which is leftover Risotto rolled into balls, stuffed with Mozzarella, covered in breadcrumbs (Leftover bread) and deep fried. Well, they went down so well, I didn’t have chance to even take a photo of them! The Staff at BBC Radio Leicester Woofed them down! I was thoroughly pleased.  I can always do another version again as whenever I make risotto I purposely do a little more so I can have these for lunch the next day.

Another thing I talk about is making your own tortilla chips which is so unbelievably easy! So I thought I’d share this with you:

*  If you have any Tortilla wraps leftover from such as making fajitas, cut them into triangles, pop onto a baking tray like so:

*  Drizzle with Rapeseed/olive oil and pop what ever seasoning you want, I.E Chilli, Garlic, Paprika or even just sea salt and cracked black pepper! I used a moroccan spice named Ras el hanout on mine. You could even do 5 spice, jerk and even a cinnamon sweet one with Christmas round the corner!

*  Pop in an oven that has been heated to 190c and cook for about 5-8 minutes.  You can deep fry them, but this is healthier alternative.

There you have it… A Homemade snack for film night! 

 Rupal did really well on her challenge, I think overall she saved about £5-6 a week and continues to do it now. If you need any help, tips or advice on this just let me know? as I’d Love to hear from you.  You will also see other leftover recipes appearing soon on here as usual and I will be including lots of Christmas leftover recipes also which I will be sharing some of my personal recipes of which I have been doing for years.

I shall finish off with showing you this Bread Loaf which I haven’t used so it is going in my freezer as if friends/family are coming round for a tipple and I like to put out some nibbles, then this is great to slice into Crostini’s / Bruschetta’s , pop on whatever you have in the fridge in terms of Meats, chutneys and cheese and there you have a cheap and easy Canapé.


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!