Bacon & Mixed Root Vegetable Rosti

Serves: 4; Prep: 15 mins; Cook: 20 mins

Adapted from a traditional Swiss recipe based on potatoes, this variation can be eaten as a meal in itself.

Ingredients: 1 lb /450g potatoes; 8oz/225g parsnips; 8oz/225g carrots, peeled and grated; 4 rashers smoked back bacon, diced; salt and fresh ground black pepper; 4 tbsp/60ml chopped fresh chives; 1oz/25g butter; 2 tblsp/30ml olive oil.

  • Cook the potatoes in their skins in boiling salted water for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to cool.
  • Cook parsnips in the same way until tender, drain and leave to cool. Peel both the vegetables, coarsely grate them and mix with the carrots.
  • Fry the bacon until crisp and mix with the grated vegetables. Season well and mix in the chives.
  • Heat the butter and half the oil in a 23cm;/9in heavy based (preferably non-stock) frying pan. When hot, spread the vegetable mixture evenly into the pan. Lower the heat and cook for 10 minutes. To turn the rosti over, place a plate that fits snugly over it. Turn the rosti out onto the plate.
  • Add the remaining oil to the pan and, when it’s sizzling, slide the rosti back into the pan, cooked side uppermost.
    Cook for a further 10 minutes, adding the remaining oil to the pan. Turn out onto a plate and serve hot.

Tip: The rosti can be cooked in the oven in which case you don’t have to reverse it onto a plate. Simply cook as described for the first 10 minutes, then put in a hot oven for 10-15 minutes, until golden.

Courgette and Bacon Calzoni

Courgettes, basil and smoked streaky bacon make a really delicious filling for this Italian pasty known as calzone.

Serves: 4; Prep: 15 mins plus proving time; Cook: 15 mins; Cals per portion: 617

Ingredients: 30ml ( 2tbsp) olive oil; 2 cloves of garlic, crushed; 350g (12oz) courgettes, thinly sliced; 15ml (1 tbsp) white wine vinegar; 30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh basil; 280g (10 ½ oz) wholemeal pizza base mix; 225g (8oz) streaky bacon, crisply grilled and roughly chopped; 175g (6oz) gruyere cheese, thinly sliced.

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the garlic and courgettes until tender. Add the white wine vinegar and chopped basil and cook for a further 1-2 minutes until all the excess moisture has evaporated. Remove from the heat.
2. Make up pizza dough according to the instructions. Divide into four and roll into circles measuring 15cm (6in) in diameter.
3. Preheat the oven to Mark 6 (200oC/400oF). Place the courgette mixture on half of each base. Top with 175g (6oz) bacon and gruyere cheese. Wet the edge of the base with water, fold over and seal together.
4. Place on a greased baking tray and cover with greased clingfilm. Leave in a warm place for 20-30 minutes to prove.
5. Cook for 10 minutes and remove from the oven. Place the remaining bacon on top of each calzone. Return to the oven and cook for 5 minutes until piping hot and golden brown.

Baked Cod Fillet with Vegetables

If you’re planning a buffet and would like to offer your guests one hot dish, this recipe works just as well hot or cold. Simply add the chickpeas, oregano and wine vinegar to the vegetable mixture while it’s still hot.

Serves: 12; Prep: 3 mins; Cook: 30 mins; Cals: 154

Ingredients: approximately 4 tsp salt for the aubergines; 2 aubergines, diced into 1 cm / 1/2 in cubes; 120ml / 4 fl oz virgin olive oil; 1.8kg/4lb thick cod fillets, skinned; 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped; 6 courgettes, diced into 1cm / 1/2 in cubes; 2 x 400g cans whole peeled plum tomatoes, drained, seeded and roughly chopped; 1 x 420g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed; 1 x 15g pack fresh oregano leaves only, chopped; 75ml/3 fl oz red wine vinegar; salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • Preheat the oven to Mark 4/350oF/180oC. Lightly salt the aubergines, put into a colander set over a bowl and leave for about an hour. Discard any juices and gently squeeze the aubergines with kitchen paper to soak up any excess liquid.
  • Oil a roasting tin with 25ml/1 fl oz of the olive oil. Cut the cod into 7.5cm / 3in pieces, removing any bones, and place in the tin. Cover with foil and bake for about 20 mins or until the fish is just cooked. Using a fish slice, carefully transfer the fish to a serving dish. Drain off and discard any excess liquid.
  • Heat 50ml/2 fl oz olive oil in a large frying pan and add the garlic. Sauté over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes, then add the aubergines and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Remove aubergines from pan, add remaining oil and courgettes and sauté for about 2 minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Cool mixture slightly, then stir in chickpeas and oregano. Add the vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Spoon the vegetable mixture over the fish and serve hot or just at room temperature.

Beef and Mushroom Stew

This stew really does look after itself. The beef is simmered slowly to produce the most delicious stock, which gives a really glossy, well-flavoured sauce. If using a pressure cooker, cook the stew for 50 minutes. You can also add a bay leaf, orange peel, fresh thyme or Worcester sauce to help liven up the other flavours.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients: Cooking oil; 2lb (900g) stewing steak, cut into 1 1/2 in (4cm) cubes; 3 onions, sliced; 1 garlic clove, crushed; 2 glasses red wine (about 8 fl oz/250ml); 1 lb (450g) button mushrooms; 1· packet Crosse & Blackwell Bonne Cuisine Madeira Wine Gravy or White wine Gravy; Salt and pepper

* Heat a little oil in a frying pan and fry half the steak for a few minutes to seal. Repeat with the rest and set aside.
* Place the onions, garlic and red wine in a large pan and boil until reduced by half. Add the sautéed steak and 2 pints (1.2 litres) water, bring to a gentle simmer, then cover and cook for 1 hour. Add the mushrooms and cook for a further 30-40 minutes. You could also add some sliced carrot and celery to the stew at this stage.
* When beef is tender, mix gravy powder with a little water until smooth. Stir in and simmer for 5 minutes. If sauce is too thin, boil and reduce. Season to taste and serve.

Banoffee Pie

A crisp biscuit base filled with the delicious combination of chewy toffee, bananas, cream and chocolate, this pudding is a real winner! The filling takes a little time and attention to make – it needs to be stirred continuously to prevent it from burning – but it’s well worth the effort.

Serves: 10; Cost: £3.20; Time to prepare: 20 mins; Time to cook: 23-33 mins; Cals per portion: 510

Ingredients: Base: 225g (8oz) oaty biscuits like hobnobs crushed; 75g (3oz) butter, melted
Filling and Topping: 405g can skimmed sweetened condensed milk; 100g (4oz) butter; 45ml (3 tbsp) maple syrup; 300ml (1/2 pt) double cream; 2 small bananas, peeled and sliced; 15ml (1 tbsp) lemon juice; cocoa powder and chocolate curls

1. To make the base, place the crushed biscuits in a large bowl and stir in the melted butter. Mix thoroughly then press mixture into the base and up the sides of a 20cm (8in) greased loosed-based fluted flan tin. Chill while making the pie filling.
2. To make the filling, place the condensed milk and the butter in a heavy-based pan and heat, stirring all the time, until the butter has melted. Simmer very gently, stirring all the time for 20-30 mins until the mixture thickens and turns a caramel colour.
3. Stir the maple syrup and 30ml (2 tbsp) of the double cream into the mixture and leave to cool for 10 mins, stirring occasionally. Then spread the cooled mixture into the prepared biscuit case and level the surface. Leave to cool completely.
4. Toss the banana slices in the lemon juice then arrange them over the cooled filling. Whip the rest of the cream until softly peaking, then spoon in large swirls over the bananas. Dust thickly with the cocoa powder and decorate with the chocolate curls.

Tortiglioni with Tuna

Serves:  4;  Prep:  5 mins;  Cook:  15 mins

Ingredients:  1 red pepper; 335g/12oz Buitoni Tortiglioni; 1 x 15ml tbsp olive oil; 2 x 200g cans tuna, drained; 1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes; 1 x 50g can anchovies, drained and chopped; 50g/2oz pitted black olives, halved; 25g /1oz sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped; large sprig basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; large sprig of basil to serve

  • Quarter and de-seed the red pepper and place skin-side up under a preheated hot grill.
  • Grill pepper for 10-15 mins until the skin starts to blacken, remove from grill and place in a clean plastic bag and leave to cool down.
  • Peel the pepper quarters, throw away the skin and then cut into slices.
  • Cook the pasta according to pack instructions.
  • Meanwhile heat the olive oil in a large frying pan, add the remaining ingredient, along with the grilled pepper, and simmer gently together for 5 mins until piping hot.
  • Drain the pasta and return to the pan.  Toss in the hot sauce, garnish with the sprig of basil, and serve immediately with some ciabatta bread and a sprinkling of fresh Parmesan cheese, if desired.

Creamy Pasta with Prawns

Serves:  4

Ingredients:  8oz/225g pasta spirals; 1 tblsp vegetable oil; 3oz/75g spring onions, sliced; one garlic clove, crushed; 1 tsp tomato puree; 6 tblsp fromage frais or single cream; 4oz/100g cooked, peeled prawns; 7oz/200g tuna in brine, drained and flaked; small bunch of fresh basil, chopped; salt and freshly ground black pepper; fresh bay leaf or finely shredded spring onion, to garnish

  • Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling water for 10-12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onions and garlic and fry for one minute, stirring.  Stir in the tomato puree, fromage frais, prawns and tuna.  Add the basil and 4 tblsp water.  Simmer for 2-3 minutes.
  • Drain the pasta then return it to the pan.  Pour the sauce over the pasta, mixing it in well.  Warm together gently and season to taste.  Serve garnished with the bay leaf or shredded spring onion.

Mustard Seed, Inverness

I had a wonderful lunch today at the Mustard Seed in Inverness.   Situated right on the river in Inverness town centre.  Very reasonably priced at £6.95 for two courses.  I had the Smoked Salmon tart to start followed by Chicken in a coconutty sauce with mashed potato.  Dishes of accompanying vegetables came free of charge as well.   Also on the menu posh chicken goujons with garlic sauce, Broccoli and blue cheese soup for starters.  Roast pork, beef steak with peppercorn sauce and sea bass.  Didn’t try the desserts this visit but definitely will next time.  We were a party of 18 and the food was served quickly and hot!  The restaurant is spread over 2 floors, has a wood burner in the downstairs part of the restaurant and has as a lovely balcony upstairs as well for al fresco dining during the summer months.    Well worth a visit if you are ever in Inverness.