Fresh salmon nicoise
‘White Lady’ runner beans looking good in my late summer potager

My veg patch is still producing salad leaves, spicy rocket, peppery mustard and frilly lettuce. Plus the  beans are just starting to produce, picked when tiny-an ‘unbuyable’ late summer treat. These ‘White Lady’ runner beans are delicious and the white flowers very pretty, behind them you can just catch a glimpse of the sultry, dark ‘Purple Cascade’ French beans. Another good looker for the plot. what to make?

This fresh salmon nicoise would be lovely for a late summer evening perfect eaten in the garden with a glass of something cold and fizzy. Ok I know I’m getting carried away here. It is highly unlikely that this will take place in Cumbria in September but perhaps we really will get an Indian summer.

This is easily put together and then whipped out to impress.




Serves 4 as a starter or 2 as main course with crusty bread.

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Creamy leeks with a lemon crust

I like this family friendly, thrifty, and easy to make dish. There are a few, simple ingredients and you may have most of them already. It is much better with fresh thyme but you could use dried. Unfortunately this quickly loses it’s flavour as you only use a little at a time and the little jars can be hanging around in the kitchen for…a very long time!. Try growing your own. Thyme, like lots of herbs from warmer climes such as rosemary and sage ( I feel I should burst into song at this point),  are very happy in pots. Buy small plants from a garden centre, which are cheap in summer, add some extra grit to make the compost free draining and site your pot in a sunny place-not too far from your door. Now you can pick as much as you need -fresh herbs make all the difference to your cooking.

I digress……the leeks, cooked slowly, go nice and creamy, make sure you keep stirring as leeks burn easily. I always make a white sauce in the microwave, I can hear ‘proper’ chefs tut, tutting but i find it a palaver making a proper roux with flour and butter etc etc. Not to mention the possible lumpiness, this way is so much easier and with the addition of some butter at the end I certainly can’t tell the difference. Add the cooked leeks and cheese and top with the breadcrumbs, thyme and grated lemon. I make the breadcrumbs from left over crusts of bread, if you have some and don’t want to use them straight away they freeze well.

Try this on a ‘Meat Free Monday’ – I’m sure you will want to make it any day of the week.





The best ever chunky guacamole!

False modesty has never been my strong point so I can say, hand on heart, that this is really the best ever chunky guacamole ever! I’m a bit of a nibbler and dipper and would happily forgo any ‘proper’ meals for a life of nibbling and dipping. This guacamole is one of my favourites with a homemade hummus coming a very close second (recipe to come), perfect for sharing with friends (as long as they are not too hungry and leave me with none ) and for casual eating.The only slight problem is the general state of avocados available to buy-they tend to be rock hard so you need to plan ahead, buy them hard and leave them to ripen on a sunny window sill. I suppose I can see the supermarket’s dilemma (although I am not generally sympathetic to them) the problem is that you wait and wait for them to ripen and then they do and very quickly go over and spoil, blacken and strangely fibrous inside.

Here is my recipe for…





Black Kale ‘Cavalo Nero’

Well obviously this is not ALL about Kale…but it is something delicious.  If you are a gardener cook like me the pickings in the vegetable garden are a bit lean at this time of year but  this morning I found  a dark and  handsome stranger standing nearly 1m high with a jaunty cap of snow.  This is the lovely Italian kale ‘Cavalo Nero’.  The beautiful crinkly leaves can be a tad on the tough side so try to pick only the younger leaves. If you need to use the older parts then  then tear the leaf from the woody mid rib and banish it to the compost heap pronto.  Once you have the leaves wash  carefully and then shred them.  It is easy to find bags of shredded green kale in any supermarket if you can’t get your hands on the real thing. If you are that way inclined have a go at growing your own-they are easy to get going but you will have to take precautions against pesky cabbage whites and pigeons.  I am going to cook them with the spicy Spanish sausage Chorizo. This is strongly flavoured with garlic and paprika and a good match for the hearty kale. You can buy the sausage  sliced but chunks of whole Chorizo are best for cooking.



Winter Kale with Chorizo
A very good way to eat up your greens!

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