Renee's Recipes

Local Mum Renee Davis shares her very own, family-friendly recipes. Watch out for her delicious new recipes every month

Utterly fabulous beef stew 

(prep time: 10 mins, stove time: 10 mins, oven cooking time: 4 hours, easy/hard: EASY!)

I've been making this stew for a few years now, and it is without doubt the tastiest one pot dish in my collection. Beef shin is cheap (approx. £6.60 per kg), and easy to find. The chap or lady on the fresh meat counter at the supermarket will even cut it up into chunks for you if you ask them kindly enough. Kids and adults usually love this stew because the meat is so tender once it's been cooked for hours, it literally melts in the mouth. I often put it in the oven and go out to run errands while it's cooking.  You'll get 6-8 portions out of the recipe below, and it freezes really well. I always put some away for another time when I make it. 


1kg beef shin (cubed)

4 carrots (peeled & cubed)

3 large onions (peeled & quartered)

6 garlic cloves (crushed)

1litre stock (beef is good if you have it, but any will do)

large bottle or can of ale (whatever you have, it all works well)

Tbsp oil

50ml Thai fish sauce

50ml tomato ketchup

2 tbsp soya sauce

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 bay leaves

2 star anise




- put the oil in a large ovenproof pan and brown off the beef over a med-high heat. This should take a few minutes

- add the onion, garlic and carrots and stir well.  Pour in a little stock if you are concerned about things sticking to the bottom of the pan

- in a small bowl mix together the ketchup, fish sauce, soya sauce and tomato purée. Pour it all over the meat & veg, stirring well to ensure everything is coated

- add the bay leaf and star anise

- pour over the ale and stock so that everything is completely covered, and bring to the boil

- while this is happening, heat your oven to 160 degrees (155 for fan assisted)

- put your pot into the oven and cook with the lid on for three hours, and a further hour with the lid off

- your meat should fall apart and the sauce will have reduced to almost half looking something like the picture below after cooking for four hours. Serve with mash and loads of seasonal green veggies. For under £1.50 per serving, you really cannot go wrong!   


Roast turkey and all the trimmings

We had a lovely meal on Xmas day last year - I sourced a local free range bronze feathered bird which was utterly delicious. Although the gravy making was a little laborious, the flavour was amazing and worth every second. I kept starch to a minimum and felt full afterwards but not horribly bloated. We ate the meal around two hours after our starter and didn't even manage desert, which was a first in our house!

Ingredients - to serve a family of four and have two meals worth of meat leftovers:

(turkey) small sized bird - ours was 2.6kg

50g room-temp softened butter 

Small handful of fresh sage, finely chopped

Large rasher of cooked streaky bacon or pancetta, finely chopped

(gravy) 100ml stock

2 tbsp port

Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Stick of celery, finely chopped

Large shallot or small red onion, finely chopped

Turkey neck from the giblet bag

Tbsp olive oil

(veg) 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped into four

2 large parsnips, peeled and chopped into four

Decent chunk of pumpkin or squash, peeled and chopped as big as the parsnip and carrot

100g shredded sweetheart cabbage

Extra butter or olive oil to cook the cabbage

Salt & pepper to taste


- preheat the oven to 200C/425F

- while the oven is heating, prep your turkey by taking out the giblet bag and plucking any stray feathers. Pat it all over with kitchen towel and place on a large non-stick baking tray

- in a small bowl combine the butter, bacon/pancetta and sage. Using your hands spread the buttery mix between the skin and breast ensuring even coverage. Place the turkey in the oven and roast for 30 mins

- turn the temp down to 170C/350F and roast for a further 45 mins

- at this point add the root veg to the tray, reduce the oven temp again to 160C/320F and roast for another 45 mins

please note these times are accurate based on a 2.6kg turkey, you would need to work out appropriate times based on the size of your bird

- remove the turkey from the oven and allow up to an hour for it to rest. Cover in tin foil and place a tea towel over the top to keep it nice and warm. Let the veg slow roast in the oven in the delicious meat juices

- start making the gravy about halfway through cooking the turkey. Sweat the shallots/onion and celery in olive oil over a med heat until soft, then add the turkey neck and brown off on both sides. Add the port and balsamic vinegar, cook for a few mins, then cover with stock and allow to reduce on a very low heat for 60-90 mins. Pass through a sieve (saving the neck for another time), and pour into a gravy jug

- about ten mins before you are ready to serve, cook your cabbage in a knob of butter or glug of olive oil

- carve up your bird and serve when your veggies are ready to come out of the oven

Enjoy folks, have a fab Christmas xx

Thick end of pork with coffee-based barbecue sauce

I was asked recently what my signature dish is and chose this recipe which uses the thick end, or ribs attached belly joint. You don’t often see this wonderful and under-rated cut in the supermarket but any decent butcher will have it - in fact I bought some just this week from Scotts in Carshalton and it was £6.99 per kilo (not including our Local Mums discount). 

Another way to get your hands on rarer cuts is to animal share with friends. This is my favourite way to buy meat, and in our house we regularly buy a quarter of a pig from a Bushell’s farm shop. They do all the messy work, and it comes to us neatly bagged and clearly labelled ‘thick end’ ‘chops’ ‘leg’ etc. It’s a sight to behold on delivery day and the savings to be had are huge! 

This dish is super simple to prepare and always provides a suitable amount of wow factor when guests come over. I like to place the meat in the centre of the table and let everyone carve off their own portion, caveman style. Served with a jug of my barbecue sauce, some homemade coleslaw and a big bowl of seasonal root veg fries I’ve not had a complaint yet. 

Preparation time: 10 minutes 

Cooking time: approx. 3 hours 

Serves: 6-8 


2-2.5kg thick end of pork

Tbsp freshly ground sea salt 

250ml water 


- preheat the oven to 200C fan assisted/220C non-fan/Gas Mark 7

- pour the water onto the bottom of large non-stick baking tray and place the pork on top (this will help to ensure the pan doesn’t burn)

- slash the skin several times each way making a criss-cross pattern and cover with the sea salt, this will make your crackling super crispy 

- roast for 30 mins then reduce the heat to 150C fan assisted/160C non-fan/Gas Mark 2 and continue cooking for three hours. Check each hour and top up the water if needs be

- allow to rest for 30 mins before serving  

Coffee barbecue sauce 

Although it sounds unconventional this bbq sauce really is fab, the coffee gives such a smoky depth of flavour you’ll want to pour it over everything. This recipe is easy to make, completely natural and doesn’t contain tons of added refined sugar. Why not give it a go and use in place of ketchup?  


Tin of tomatoes 

180ml freshly brewed coffee 

60ml soya sauce (or tamari for a gluten free option) 

60ml black treacle

60ml Dijon mustard 


- either whisk or blend together all the ingredients until smooth

- pour into a saucepan, bring to the boil then simmer over a low heat for 20-30 mins until the sauce has reduced to half

- serve immediately 

TIP: store leftovers in the fridge, this sauce will keep happily for a month 

Creamy Nutty Chicken (gluten and dairy free)


I roasted a chicken over the weekend and made this dish with some of the leftovers for tea last night. It only took about ten mins to make and to be honest I wasn't really expecting much, but it was so yummy I just had to share. Having wonderful seasonal veggies like asparagus, cauliflower and leeks readily available (and at their best right now) makes these types of meals really easy. I have a feeling this will end up becoming a regular mid-week feature for hubby and me over the coming months.

Ingredients (for two, could easily be doubled or tripled up for a bigger portion):

Handful of cooked chicken

Handful of cooked potatoes or root veg

Large leek or two small ones - chopped chunky

Leaves from a large cauliflower - thoroughly washed and chopped fairly small (cabbage would also work)

6 spears of cooked asparugus - chopped in half

Tbsp coconut oil

Tbsp tamari

2 tbsp Thai fish sauce

2 tbsp peanut butter (cashew or almond butter would also work)

160ml tin of coconut cream


- sauté the leek in coconut oil over a med-high heat until soft

- stir in the tamari, fish sauce and nut butter, mix well then add the cauliflower leaves/cabbage

- turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for about five minutes until the leaves are soft and flavours have mingled

- add the chicken, asparagus and potatoes, give it all a good stir then pour over the coconut cream. Cook for a further few minutes until piping hot, and serve immediately

Chocolate Orange Mousse


Preparation time: 10-15 minutes 

Chilling time: 4 hours+

Serves: 4


150g good quality dark chocolate - I like Green & Blacks 85%

125ml double cream - cows, goats, oat or soya all work superbly

3 eggs - separated

Tbsp orange oil


- melt your chocolate in a bowl set over a  pan of simmering water, ensuring the water isn't too hot otherwise the chocolate will start separating and you'll be left with an oily mess

- once the choc has melted remove from the heat and allow to cool for five mins, then slowly stir in the egg yolks one at a time

- now add the orange oil, then fold in the cream

- whisk your egg whites until stiff, then gently fold into your chocolate mixture one tablespoonful at a time. You want as much of the air in your eggs as possible to be transferred to the mousse 

- divide into small glasses or bowls and place in the fridge to set for at least four hours before serving

TIP: save time on the day by making this desert up to 24 hours in advance  

Burger trio with accompanying condiments  

With the horsemeat scandal still making the news, there has never been a better time to start making your own burgers. They are a great way to be creative in the kitchen, and can be so much more than just minced beef with chips on the side. Now the weather is finally on the up and the barbecue season is just around the corner, why not get a load of local mince, lots of lovely fresh herbs and make a big batch – some to eat now and some for the freezer.

I’m pretty confident that the recipes below will please any crowd. The quantities will make 2 massive burgers or 4 smaller ones. Making a burger could not be easier. All you need to do is combine the ingredients below in a large bowl, mix well with your hands and shape into however many patties you wish to. Heat a teaspoonful of oil in a non-stick frying pan or griddle, and fry them for however long you wish according to your taste. Or chuck them on the barbie.  I find 3 mins on either side usually suffices for smaller burgers and 5 mins on either side for big ones. 

Chutney and relish is a fab way of preserving fruit and veg when it’s at its very best. The shop bought variety can often be loaded with unnecessary amounts of salt, sugar and preservatives which is why it’s great to make your own. Always use sterilised jars to store them, and refrigerate once opened. Below are some simple ideas to accompany your burgers. 

Beef & chorizo 

500g minced beef

2 inch piece of chorizo chopped into small chunks

Large clove of garlic – crushed 

Tbsp tomato purée

Tsp anchovy paste or a very finely chopped anchovy 

Free range egg yolk

Tbsp breadcrumbs or ground almonds for GF

Serve with Balsamic red onion chutney

Slice 500g red onions and cook for a few mins over a med-high heat in a large saucepan with a tsp of oil. Add 50ml balsamic vinegar and 50g dark muscovado sugar, stir well. Turn the heat down low and cook with the lid on for 15 mins, and for a further 15 mins with the lid off. Stir occasionally to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a jar once the sauce has reduced down to the point of just being a glaze over the onions. 

Pork, Leek & Sage

500g minced pork 

Tbsp finely chopped fresh leek

Tbsp finely chopped fresh or dried sage

Tsp tomato purée

Tsp anchovy paste or a very finely chopped anchovy

Serve with cauliflower & apple relish 

Sauté half a very finely chopped leek in a tsp of oil until soft, then add 100ml of fresh local sweet apple juice (Owlet Jangold is my favourite), 300g of cooked cauliflower cut into small florets and a tbsp of finely chopped fresh sage. Simmer over a low heat for 15 mins, and transfer to a jar once cooked.  

Herby Lamb

500g minced lamb

Large clove of garlic – crushed 

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaf -finely chopped

2 tbsp fresh mint leaf – finely chopped

2 dried apricots – finely chopped

Serve with fresh mint sauce  

Put a handful of fresh mint, 2 tbsp cold pressed oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp honey or sugar into a food processor or blender. Whiz on high for 15 seconds until completely combined – you are looking for the consistency of pesto. Pour into a jar and cover with another tbsp of oil.  

Roast Chicken

roast chicken LMOAPR13

Like some of the other Local Mums Online, one of my main food focuses so far this year has been to shop more locally, rather than in supermarkets. Since our delicious Christmas turkey from Yours Locally, I’ve bought all my family’s meat either from them, local butchers or farmers markets. I can safely say I’m a convert and won’t be going back.

A decent sized (1.5-1.8kg) farm assured chicken should cost around £10. I know the big chains flog them off for a fiver or less but those poor birds live in terrible conditions and are pumped full of water, growth hormones and antibiotics. Getting to know your food chain and buying from small local farms will mean knowing the animals lived a decent life before they ended up on your table.

Here’s my fail safe roast recipe - you don’t need any seasoning or extras and I promise you’ll be left with a stunning tasting bird. I have lots of ideas for what to do with the leftovers as well including Thai-style curry, Goan-style curry, creamy chicken & leeks over cauliflower mash, chick-cakes and more. Get in touch via Facebook if you would like me to send them to you J


- preheat your oven to 200C fan/220C non-fan/GM7

- remove the packaging and butchers string from the chicken, and pluck any stray feathers

- place on a large non-stick baking tray. Blast it in the oven for 20 mins if it’s under 1.3kg, and 30 mins if it’s over

- remove from the oven and flip the bird over in the tray so it’s breast side down

- place back in the oven and reduce the heat to 170C fan/180C non-fan/GM4

- continue roasting for 20 mins per 500g of meat. Add big chunks of root veg to the tray at this stage if you want, ensuring they are coated with the delicious chicken juices for fab roasties

- remove from the oven and allow to rest for 10 mins before serving 

Chuck Steak Stew


I am loving all the fantastic farmers markets we have on our doorstep these days - particularly the one by Herne Hill station every Sunday. It's a great alternative to going to a supermarket for grocery shopping, plus there are lots of other bits to be had such as handmade gifts, vintage bric a brac and some seriously delicious cake.

I wanted to try some different cuts of meat this week, so decided on chuck steak and pork knuckle (stay tuned for the latter!) as both cuts are as cheap as chips. The lady on the stall explained the effect the marbelling (fat) running through a piece of meat will have on the end result. Chuck steak has small streaks of fat running throughout and when it's been stewed for hours the fat disappears into the meat and sauce, literally making it melt in your mouth. 

With this dreadful weather we've needed comforting dinners, and this stew did not disappoint. After hours of cooking, the sauce had reduced way down with onions and garlic melted into it and the meat was beyond tender. Served yummy seasonal veggies, it certainly brightened up our evening. Please note, if you can't get hold of chuck steak, beef shin would work just as well with this recipe.

Ingredients (for two adults & two kids):

500g chuck steak (diced into thick chunks)

Large red onion (chopped chunky)

2 large carrots (peeled and chopped chunky)

2 large cloves garlic (crushed)

100g mushrooms (peeled and quartered)

500ml stock

200ml red wine

2 tbsp tomato purée

Large knob of butter (I use goats, oil would work just as well)


- preheat your oven to 160C fan/170C non-fan/GM3

- cook the onions in the butter over a med heat for a few mins until soft, add the mushrooms and cook with the lid on for another few mins

- take off the heat and stir in the tomato purée and garlic. Mix well, then pour over the wine and stock

- arrange your carrots at the bottom of a sturdy casserole pot, then arrange the steak on top

- pour the contents of the saucepan over the meat and carrots ensuring they are completely submerged in liquid

- cook with the lid on for two hours, then reduce the heat to 150C fan/160C non-fan/GM2 and cook for a further two hours

- serve with seasonal veg

Roast Pork


Thursday was a good day, we bought a quarter of a pig from Bushell's Farm Shop (near Oaks Par). They do all the butchering and bag it up for you ready for the freezer, so it couldn't be easier. It works out around £3 per kilo for the most amazing free range meat, I can't recommend animal sharing enough! This crackling joint has become a tried and tested roast in my house, loved by the adults and kiddies, perfect for Easter. 


2kg (ish) pork roasting joint with a good layer of fat at the top - blade end of shoulder is my favourite 

4 carrots

4 sticks of celery

2 red onions

300ml stock

50ml white wine vinegar

Tbsp honey

Tbsp tomato purée

Tsp olive oil 


- preheat the oven to 200C/GM7 and grease a large baking tray with the olive oil

- peel your veg and place on the baking tray whole

- score the fat on the meat, and place on top of the veg

- in a small bowl mix together 100ml of stock, the white wine vinegar, honey and tomato purée then massage into the meat 

- cook for 30 mins, then turn the oven down to 150C/GM2 and cook for a further three hours

- check each hour to ensure that nothing is burning, and use the rest of the stock to top up the liquid at the bottom of the tray each time you check

- take out of the oven and put the meat into a casserole pot with the lid on to rest. It will keep warm for hours, and the longer you leave it to rest the more melt in the mouth it will be when it comes to eating

- to make the gravy scrape the meat juices and veg from the baking tray into your blender or food processor and whiz on the highest setting until combined. Add more stock according to how thin you would like it

- serve with seasonal veggies 

Really easy chicken nuggets


We had a delicious roast chicken for dinner the other night, and there was lots leftover. A moment of inspiration led me to give this a try, and you know what? It really worked. Such a simple way of creating a much loved favourite, it will definitely be my go-to recipe in the future. Served up with home made chips and another favourite in our house - peas - this meal got the seal of approval from both my girls. Who needs McD's or 'Shergar King'?!

Ingredients (for 2 little people):

12x 1inch sized pieces of skinless, boneless cooked chicken

3 gluten free oatcakes (I like Nairns)

Free range egg

2 tbsp light olive oil

Tsp tamari

Med sized potato


- preheat the oven to 190C fan/200C non-fan/400F/GM8

- peel the potato and cut into thin chips. Coat in one tbsp olive oil and the tamari then arrange on a small non-stick baking tray. Roast for 20 mins

- when your chips have had ten mins, beat the egg lightly in a bowl, add the chicken and mix well to ensure each piece of chicken is covered with egg

- in a pestle & mortar or bowl using the end of a rolling pin, crunch up the oatcakes until they resemble breadcrumbs. Lay them out flat on a plate

- at this point put a large non-stick frying pan on the hob, and start warming the other tbsp of olive oil over a med-high heat

- coat each side of the chicken pieces in the oatcake crumbs, then add to the pan

- cook for 2-3 mins on either side until nice and golden in colour

- leave to cool before serving with the peas and chips (which should be ready to come out of the oven the same time as the chicken comes out of the pan)

Roasted beetroot and goats cheese quiche


We had some delicious beetroot in our Vegbag from Sutton Community Farm this week, and what better way to enjoy it than in a quiche. This is a nice simple recipe that should only take you about 15 minutes to prepare and of course the beauty of a quiche is that you can eat it over several days. Fab for all you busy mums that have stuck to new year’s resolutions of eating healthier. I also have a great gluten free crust recipe for anyone that is gluten free. Get in touch via Facebook if you would like me to send it to you.  

Ingredients (for 6 decent slices)

(pastry) 200g plain wholemeal flour

80ml olive oil

80ml water

(filling) 3 free range eggs

200ml milk - any will work well, I have used rice milk, soya, goats and cows before

Tbsp dijon mustard

Half a leek, cooked until soft in a little olive oil or butter 

Few glugs of olive oil

Salt & pepper

200g beetroot (peeled and cut into little discs)

Tbsp dried mixed herbs

100g goats cheese (cut into little discs)


- coat the prepared beetroot in a tbsp of olive oil, mixed herbs and a little salt & pepper then roast on a non-stick baking tray in a preheated oven for 40 mins. Temp needs to be 180C/GM4 (170C if you have a fan assisted oven). When cooked allow to cool, but leave the oven on

- when the beetroot is almost ready, grease a flan dish well with olive oil

- place the flour in a large bowl, mix the olive oil and water into a cup together and slowly pour over the flour. Stir continuously with a tablespoon until a firm ball forms. Place the ball in the centre of the greased dish and flatten down with your hands until the bottom and sides of the dish have a thin even layer of pastry over them

- if you have a powerful blender or food processor whiz up the eggs, milk and mustard for about 20 seconds until you have a frothy milkshake consistency

- if you are mixing by hand, whisk  your eggs for a good minute to get them nice and fluffy, then gradually add the milk then the mustard last

- spoon the leeks over the bottom of the pastry, and arrange your beetroot on top.  Scatter the goats cheese over the top of the beets, then pour the egg mixture all over

- bake for 30 mins, allow to cool and serve with a huge salad

Bacon wrapped meatloaf


As family life gets busier, my ability to spend hours in the kitchen lessens. Making food as simple as possible, without negotiating on flavour, has become my new mission. This meatloaf takes about ten minutes to prepare, and the veg is cooked on the same tray meaning less washing up. Hurrah, task for the day accomplished! I bought my mince, eggs and bacon from Yours Locally today, and can safely say I won't be going back to their supermarket counterparts. 

Ingredients (to serve 4-6):

(meatloaf) 500g beef mince

500g pork mince 

4-6 rashers of bacon 

Small red onion or large shallot (very finely diced)

Free range egg 

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 tbsp balsamic vinegar 

2 tbsp ground almonds

(fries) med sized swede 

Tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper 

(veg) large bag of greens or kale

Handful of cauliflower or broccoli cut into small florets

image copy


- preheat the oven to 180C/365F

- in a large bowl combine all the meatloaf ingredients, except bacon, and mix together with your hands 

- place in the centre of a large non-stick baking tray, shape into a big square, wrap in bacon and place in the oven  

- while it's cooking, peel your swede and cut into thin matchsticks. Put them in a Tupperware box, drizzle over the olive oil and season to taste. Put the lid to the box on and give it a good shake 

- when the meatloaf has been cooking for 20 mins, add the swede. Cook for another 20 mins, remove and allow to rest

- add the veg to the tray, incorporating well with the swede and meat juices

- cook for a final 10 mins and serve immediately with thick slices of meatloaf 

Coconut pancakes


Our almost three year old discovered the wondrous delights of pancakes around a year ago via her best friend's granny, and I often make them for her tea as a treat after she has been to nursery these days. I must  say I’ve become rather partial to them myself, they’re great as a little pick me up snackette or served for desert.

Ingredients (for 8 small but filling pancakes):

4 eggs

2 heaped tbsps coconut flour

2 heaped tbsps ground almonds

60ml coconut milk

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp baking powder

Butter to grease the frying pan


- combine the almonds, flour and baking powder in a bowl

- in a separate bowl whisk together the eggs, coconut milk, vanilla and honey

- slowly incorporate the flour into the eggs and mix well (note this batter is slightly thicker than a wheat based version)

- melt a teaspoon of butter in a non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat

- spoon two large dollops of batter into the pan at a time and cook for a few mins on each side until golden brown (turning them over when the first side starts bubbling)

- I like to serve these up with lashings of butter and rainforest honey

Coconut & Date Cookies (gluten, dairy & refined sugar free)


These little cookies were created one wet afternoon, as an activity to keep my three year old entertained, and have become a family staple ever since. With no refined sugar added they’re a much healthier way of having a sweet treat – although you wouldn’t realise this as they taste so yummy! The addition of coconut oil also brings tons of health benefits which can include aiding digestion, maintaining cholesterol levels, weight loss and relief from illness. Check out this article if you’re keen to learn more.

Ingredients (yields 8)

Large free range egg

(can we say this:) 75ml coconut oil - check out our local international shop for very reasonably priced coconut products

60g desiccated coconut

75g dates

75g pecans

75g cashews


- preheat your oven to 180/GM 5 (GM4/170 if you have a fan assisted oven)

- either put all ingredients into a high powered blender or food processor and whiz until a dough forms, OR

- whisk the egg and oil together in a large bowl until nice and fluffy

- chop the nuts and dates finely, add the coconut and mix into the bowl with the egg and oil. Combine well with a spoon

- divide into little rounds and arrange on a non-stick baking tray. A fair amount of oil will be released from the ingredients so there’s no need to grease the tray first

- bake for 8 minutes, and keep leftovers in the fridge

White fish and chorizo stew


I was fortunate enough to be given half a dozen whiting this week that a friend caught on a fishing trip. There is nothing like eating fish fresh from the sea, and for me chorizo is the perfect flavour to compliment white fish. This is another quick and easy, but nutrient dense meal, what a way to start the New Year! Of course I’ll not always be so fortunate to happen across freebies in this way, and next time I’ll use something more readily available such as Pollock. An ideal side would be a large hunk of crusty bread and lashings of butter, but for those watching their carb intake after Xmas youcould serve up as I do, with a nice chunk of goats cheese on the top.

Ingredients (for 4 portions)

500g skinless, boneless white fish (cubed)

100g chorizo – I cannot get enough of this stuff

100g kale (washed and finely sliced)

Large red onion (finely sliced)

3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

50ml balsamic vinegar

50g tomato puree

50g capers

Tin of chopped tomatoes

Tbsp olive oil

(optional) goats cheese topper

(optional) Crusty bread & butter to serve 


- gently heat the olive oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions until soft. Add the garlic, stir well and cook for a minute


- add the balsamic vinegar, tomato puree, capers and tinned tomatoes, mix well and simmer for 10-15 mins until you have a nice rich sauce


- remove the outer casing from the corizo, and chop into small chunks. Add to the sauce, along with the cubed fish and kale. Cook with the lid on for a further 10-15 mins and serve immediately

Nut Roast (gluten free, egg free, optional dairy free)


I’ve been making this super easy, super tasty nut roast for several years now and always get asked for the recipe around Christmas time. It’s the type of dish that sounds more complicated than it actually is, which means brownie points for the cook and happy guests all round. It lends itself well as a side dish or as the main attraction, and if you don’t have the nuts below you could substitute them for any others you have in your cupboard (except peanuts). It’s a great Xmas dish, but also a great way to use up leftover nuts after the big day.

Ingredients (for 4 decent portions)

150g cooked rice 

100g brazil nuts

100g pecan nuts

100g walnuts

100g grated mature cheddar (optional - I use goats due to dairy intolerance)  

100ml vegetable stock

50g finely chopped shallots 

50g chopped sundried tomatoes 

Tbsp dried mixed herbs 

Tbsp dried sage

Large knob of butter or 2-3 Tbsp olive oil (again I use goats butter) 


- preheat your oven to 180C/Gas Mark 4, and prepare a 20cm cake tin [note: you must grease your cooking tin really well using butter or olive oil, I find a loose bottomed non-stick square tin is best for this recipe] 

- either grind your nuts in a food processor or chop them finely by hand and combine in a large bowl, then add all the other ingredients except the butter. Pour the stock over last and mix well

- press the mixture into your prepared tin, ensuring it is nice and compact. Brush the top with melted butter or olive oil, and bake for 40 mins. If you are serving more people, double up the recipe and bake for an hour

Roasted whole side of salmon with veggies


I’m a huge fan of one tray cooking, and if you marry up the main ingredient with the right veg then you will have a winning formula. Timing is everything as you need all the components to be ready together. With this fab side of salmon you need veggies that don’t take up too much oven time. I like to use wild Alaskan salmon and try to stock up when it’s on offer around this time of year. I find this dish is best served for lunch or as a lighter evening meal.

Ingredients (to serve 4-6);

Large skin on salmon fillet weighing around 1kg

2 unwaxed lemons

2 one inch pieces of freshly peeled ginger

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 tbsp soya sauce (tamari for GF)

Tbsp honey

Small handful of finely chopped coriander

2 aubergines (peeled and cut into 16 pieces each)

2 red onions (peeled and quartered)

6 peppers (deseeded and cut into chunky strips)


- start with making the marinade for the fish. Finely grate one of the pieces of ginger into a small bowl, and mix it together with the juice and zest of one lemon, soya sauce/tamari, honey and coriander

- give the salmon  a wash under the cold tap, then pat it dry with kitchen towel and place in a large Tupperware box. Pour over ¾ of the marinade and refrigerate for at least an hour. Store the other ¼ in a jar or pot for later. Cut the second lemon and piece of ginger into three each and store separately in the fridge

- when it’s time to start cooking, preheat your oven to 190C/Gas Mark 5*

- scatter all the veggies onto a large non-stick baking tray and drizzle over the sesame oil

- place the salmon on top of the veg. Make three deep slashes across the skin, and insert a chunk of lemon  and ginger into each one. Pour all the marinade from the Tupperware over the top

- roast for 20 mins if you want the salmon cooked through, and 15 if you want it rare

- I like to serve this dish with a simple green salad. Mix together the other ¼ marinade from the salmon and 1-2 tbsp of sesame oil for a delicious dressing

*if you are cooking in a non fan assisted oven, or an old model you will need to cook this dish at a higher temperature. Adjust accordingly - all mums know their own kitchen equipment. 

 November 16, 2012

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Five ways to eat the seasons

1) Melt a large knob of butter or tbsp of olive oil over a med high heat in a large saucepan. Sauté half a finely chopped leek until soft, then add a handful each of shredded cabbage and kale, season to taste. Reduce the heat to med-low and cook with the lid on for 5-10 mins. Great accompaniment to any veggie, meat or fish dish.


2) For a delicious alternative to potato fries try using swedeinstead. Peel and wash the swede, then cut into inch thick matchsticks. Coat generously with olive oil, salt and pepper and bake in a hot oven (180-190 degrees) for half an hour. If you are watching your salt and pepper intake season with dried mixed herbs instead.


3) Although more labour intensive than opening a bag of mixed leaves, for a fab winter salad or coleslaw base usetwo parts grated beetroot, to one part celeriac and pear.Wash, peel and grate your fruit and veg, then top with good quality balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and a handful of mixed seeds.


4) Give field mushrooms a good clean, then cut into large chunky strips and coat generously with equal parts sesame oil, soya sauce (tamari for gluten free) and honey. Fry over a med heat for 5-10 mins and use as a meat substitute.


5) Get prepared for Christmas! Melt a large knob of butter or tbsp of olive oil over a med high heat and sauté half a finely chopped leek until soft. Add a handful of shreddedred cabbage, a tbsp of mulled wine spices, the zest of a clementine and a large glass of red wine. Simmer on a low heat with the lid to the saucepan gently resting on the top but not fully closed until all the alcohol has evaporated. Store in the freezer and use on Xmas day.

For a great source of local seasonal veg check out Sutton Community Farm

Boozy Bangers


I think it's essential to make your life in the kitchen as simple as possible, without compromising the quality of food you're serving. Now that the weather is getting colder I'm mostly turning to my comforting slow cooked recipes. This old faithful is perfect for feeding the family with lots of leftovers. Or taking to a bonfire party, which is what I’ll be doing this weekend. 

Ingredients (for 6-8 large portions)

1kg good quality high pork content sausages 

2 bottles of ale 

2 large sweet potatoes

2 large carrots 

Small swede 

Large leek 

Tin of chopped tomatoes 

Tin of baked beans (optional) 

Tbsp olive oil

Tbsp butter (optional - I use goats butter due to dairy intolerance) 

Tbsp sage 


- preheat your oven to 160C/Gas Mark 3

- wash your leek and chop into large rings. Melt the butter and oil in a saucepan over a med-high heat and cook the leek for 3-5 mins until soft, adding the sage at the end. Remove from the heat and leave to one side 

- peel your veg and chop chunky, then lay them at the bottom of a large casserole dish 

- cut your sausages into three pieces each and place over the top of the veg

- pour the leek and buttery juices over the top of the sausages, then slowly pour the ale over the top until everything is submerged in liquid

- cook with the lid on for two hours, at which point most if not all the alcohol should have been cooked away

- add the tomatoes, stir well, and cook for a further hour with the lid off

- after three hours you will be left with a thick, rich sauce. The sweet potatoes will have melted giving a unique flavour combined with the pork, ale and a subtle hint of sage in the background

- if you want the casserole to go further add a tin of baked beans just before serving 

- this dish goes well with rice, mashed potatoes, crusty bread or lots of green veggies

Ultimate ‘free from’ chocolate brownies


In 2006 I was diagnosed with polycystic ovaries and after lots of research discovered that if I didn’t start watching my sugar intake I would likely end up with diabetes by the age of 40. Fast forward several years and I feel I’ve become fairly adept at making treats using natural sweeteners. Friends are always amazed that my deserts do not contain refined sugar. These fudgey chocolatey brownies are also gluten and dairy free, and are loaded with vitamin D and iron. Next time you’re in the mood for something sweet try them out, I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Ingredients (for 12 generous squares):

4 free range eggs

400ml tin of coconut milk  

200g dates

150g ground almonds

150g pecan nuts  

75g cocoa powder  


-        preheat the oven to 170C/350F/GM4 and grease a 20cm cake tin

-        if you have a fairly powerful blender or food processor grind up the pecans and dates, then add the rest of the ingredients and whiz on the highest setting for about ten seconds until you have the consistency of a thick shake

-        if you do not have a powerful mixer chop the pecans and dates finely by hand and mix in the ground almonds 

-        in a separate bowl whisk the eggs for a full minute to get lots of air into them, whisk in the cocoa incorporating well, then slowly add the coconut milk. Tip your bowl of nuts and dates into this bowl and mix together with a spoon

-        pour your batter into the prepared tin and bake for 30 mins

-        leave to cool, cut into squares and store in the fridge for maximum fudge-like consistency

-        for a smaller batch halve the ingredients, bake in a loaf tin and cook for just 20 mins 

Puttanesca Pasta

Pasta is a quick and simple midweek meal for most busy mums, and this super easy puttanesca is no exception. The last thing most of us want to do after putting the kids to bed is stand in the kitchen cooking, and the great news about this dish is from thinking of eating to serving up it you’re only looking at 15-20 minutes. It’s a very versatile sauce that lends itself well to any leftover meat you’d like to add to the mix, but is also fab as is. It also freezes great, so why not double up the recipe and make a batch for another time.


Ingredients (to serve 2):

Med sized red onion – finely diced

2 cloves of garlic – crushed

Small red chili

50g pitted black olives – halved

50g large capers – drained

50g anchovies tinned in olive oil

Tin of chopped tomatoes

Tbsp olive oil

Fresh spaghetti or cauliflower to serve


Method :

-       finely dice the onion and gently fry in olive oil over a med-high heat until translucent, stirring constantly to ensure nothing sticks to the bottom of the pan.


-        at this stage add the crushed garlic and red chili. If you like your food hot then take the stalk off the chili, chop it up chunky and chuck in the whole thing seeds as well. If you prefer a milder flavour then deseed it first and chop finely before adding.



-       once you have something resembling the photo above add the anchovies including the oil from the tin, olives and capers. Give everything a good stir and cook for one minute to ensure all the flavours mingle together.


-       now add the tomatoes and any meat you wish to include. Turn the heat down low and simmer for ten mins.


-       your sauce is now ready to serve over freshly cooked spaghetti or tagliatelle. 



for a low carb option try serving your puttanesca with finely chopped cauliflower instead of pasta. Wash a small head of cauliflower and chop it finely (as pictured below) then add it to the sauce at the simmering stage.


Lamb Pot Roast

Roast dinners can be very stressful to cook, however on the flip side there are fewer meals as simple as a one pot roast. All you need to do is peel and chop your root veg, place the meat on top and voila a tasty roast without the new grey hairs.

The recipe below is for the meal I cooked last weekend which fed 2 adults, a toddler and a baby with enough leftover meat for two of the sample dishes at the end of this post.


Half a leg of lamb (1.2kg)

3 carrots

3 parsnips

½  a swede

2 red onions

2 large sprigs of rosemary

2 cloves of garlic

Tsp olive oil

Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Salt & pepper


-        Prepare your lamb in advance, using either the plastic supermarket container it came in or a Tupperware box. Rub the olive oil over the skin of the lamb and season with salt and pepper. Chop up the garlic, remove the rosemary from its stalks, sprinkle both all over the lamb and finally, drizzle over the balsamic vinegar. Cover with cling film (or the Tupperware lid) and leave to marinade in the fridge for up to 24 hours




-         When you are ready to start cooking preheat your oven to 200 degrees*

-        Peel and chop your veg into bite sized chunks and place at the bottom of a large pot or casserole dish

-        Place your lamb on top of the veg, along with all the juices from the marinade

-        Cook for 30 mins, after which time take out of the oven and check all is well (see pic below)



-        Place the lid on top of the pot and cook for a further 2 hours on 150 degrees*

-        Remove from the oven and leave everything to rest with the lid on for at least half an hour, and up to three hours

-        This will create a lovely gravy at the bottom of the pot

-        Serve with green veggies and said gravy



Suggestions with what to do with the leftovers

-        Roast an aubergine (cut in half), 2 red peppers (deseeded and cut in half) and a red onion (cut in half) in a drizzle of olive oil, salt & pepper for 20 mins on 170 degrees. At this point take out of the oven and place large chunks of lamb on top of the aubergine halves, then top again with thick slices of goats cheese. Pour over a tin of tomatoes and put back in the oven for 10-15 mins until the cheese has melted. Serve with a green salad.

-        Stir fry large chunks of lamb in a tbsp of sesame oil, with 3 chopped up spring onions, 2 crushed cloves of garlic, tbsp of fresh ginger, handful of broccoli florets and 2 courgettes (chopped small) until all the veg is cooked. Add a tsp of soya sauce, tbsp of fish sauce, handful of coriander and half a tin of coconut milk. Serve with rice or noodles.

-        Melt a knob of butter in a pan over a med-high heat. Sauté half a finely chopped leek, 6 quartered mushrooms, 2 courgettes (chopped small), a handful of cauliflower florets and a handful of lamb. Add a tbsp of balsamic vinegar, tsp of smoked paprika and a tin of tomatoes. Turn the heat down and cook with the lid on for ten mins. Serve as a jacket potato filling or with buttered mashed potatoes and green veg.


*these temperatures are for a fan assisted electric oven - for a non fan assisted oven please increase by 10 degrees 

Thai Stir Fry

My husband and I travelled South East Asia in our younger days and have been obsessed with Thai food ever since. There are four distinct flavours that go into all its cuisine: salty, sweet, sour and bitter which often come from fish sauce, soya sauce and coconut. Once you have these essentials, as well as a few other fresh ingredients, you'll be able to knock up Thai style food quickly and effortlessly. If you're in the Wallington area check out TFX International ( just before the train station for very reasonably priced sauces and coconut milk saving quite a bit on supermarket prices. A good cheat of mine is buying freshly frozen herbs, which saves so much time. I always have garlic, ginger, coriander and shallots in my freezer. Here goes, a super-fast and easy Thai stir fry. You could always add chilli if it's just for grown-ups and you want some spice.


Tsp sesame oil 

Tbsp fresh ginger

3 cloves crushed garlic

2 tbsp fish sauce 

Tbsp soya sauce

Tbsp almond or peanut butter 

Tsp honey 

1/2 tin coconut milk

6 mushrooms

3 spring onions 

2 carrots

2 courgettes 

handful of fresh coriander 

optional handful of meat (I used leftover chicken from a roast, but you can use anything you have - even sausages would be good in this!)


- heat the sesame oil in a wok or large pan over a med-high heat. Chop the spring onions into one inch chunks, and peel and quarter the mushrooms, add to the oil.  Cook for a few mins, then add the ginger, garlic, soya & fish sauces, nut butter, honey, coconut milk and meat if you are using it. You can add any other veg lurking in your fridge that you want to use up at this point too 

- turn the heat down to med-low and cook for five mins, allowing the flavours to infuse 

- while this is happening top, tail and peel your carrots and courgettes. Then using your peeler, make fine strips of these veggies as pictured below 


- add to your wok and give everything a good mix

- turn the heat back up to med-high and cook for 3-5 mins until your strips are nice and tender


- add the coriander and serve immediately

- this recipe feeds my hubby and I without the need for rice, but if you are serving with rice you'll get about four portions 


Polly-friendly chocolate cupcakes3JUN

Since being diagnosed with various food intolerances my daughter's ‘treat list’ has dwindled massively. Shop bought cakes are now completely out of the question, and most of my recipes contain an ingredient or two she can’t have any more. It was time to start experimenting, and after a couple of batches I think I came up with something rather fab. These choccy little sponge cakes are gluten and dairy free, very light and fluffy, and only have 2.5g of sugar in each one. Perfect for all the lovely picnics we have planned this summer.

Ingredients (for 12):
75g ground almonds
60ml almond oil
2 eggs
Ripe pear
2 tbsp cocoa powder
2 tbsp dark muscavado sugar
Tsp baking powder

- preheat the oven to 175 degrees and prepare a 12 hole cupcake tin with cases

- whiz all the ingredients except the almonds in the blender until smooth

- put the almonds in a bowl and pour the blended mixture over. Stir well and divide into the cases

- bake for 15 minutes…leave to cool and try not to scoff the lot!

Renee Davis, Cookery Editor

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Reneé Davis is a Sutton Mum, a full time wife and mum of two young girls, part time City PA and self-proclaimed food fanatic. She became really interested in cooking after her first trip to Asia ten years ago, and the passion has grown daily since then. She takes every opportunity she can get to experiment in the kitchen, and loves cooking for family and friends. She also loves sharing her recipes with us!

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