Pepper & Bean Soup

  • I made this soup when I have several red peppers that needed using and added the butter beans from my store cupboard.
  • The addition of charred onions as a garnish is a good final touch.


  • 2 red or orange peppers
  • 1 red chilli (optional)
  • 2 onions
  • 1 tin of butter beans – drained 
  • 1½ litres of vegetable or chicken stock
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Put the stock into a large saucepan.
  • Chop the peppers and chilli into small pieces and add to the pan.
  • Chop one of the onions into small pieces and add to the pan.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer until the peppers are soft.
  • Add the butter beans and simmer for around 20 minutes until the butter beans are very soft.
  • Melt the butter in a frying pan.
  • Chop the other onion into small pieces.
  • Fry the onion in the butter till dark brown and nearly charred.
  • Season the soup.
  • Add the fried onions to the soup and stir, just before serving.
Royal Doulton – Burgundy Soup Plate – 1959 – 1981

Pêche Melba

  • A Polish lady that I had not seen for many years came to visit me.
  • We sat in the garden chatting over coffee and cake.
  • She mentioned a cake she had not had for ages  – Tort Melba.
  • She told me it was based around  Pêche Melba – Peach Melba 
  • However she could not remember the recipe.
  • I said I would look the recipe up and make it for her.
  • I have done and tried several different versions, which will be posted soon.
  • *
  • First here is a little history about Peach Melba.
  • *
  • Dame Nellie Melba (1861–1931) – born Helen Porter Mitchell – was an Australian operatic soprano.
  • She became one of the most famous singers of the late Victorian era and the early 20th century.
  • She took the pseudonym “Melba” from Melbourne, her home town.
  • In 1892 Nellie Melba was performing in Wagner’s opera Lohengrin at Covent Gardens.
  • The Duke of Orléans gave a dinner party at the Savoy Hotel in London to celebrate her triumph.
  • For the occasion, Escoffier created a new dessert Pêche Melba – Peach Melba.
  • He used an ice sculpture of a swan, which carried peaches resting on a bed of vanilla ice cream and these were topped with spun sugar.
  • In 1900, he created a new version of the dessert at the opening of the Carlton Hotel where he was head chef.
  • The ice swan was not used and the ice cream and peaches were now topped with a purée of sugared raspberries.
  • *
  • Below is an easy recipe for Peach Melba using tinned peaches.


  • Tinned peach halves – 2 per serving
  • Vanilla ice cream – 2 scoops per serving
  • Raspberry sauce – made from raspberry jam
  • Lemon juice – optional


  • An easy raspberry sauce can be made from good (home-made) raspberry jam.
  • Put around 4 to 5 tablespoons of raspberry jam and 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan.
  • Heat gently, stirring with a wooden spoon, until you have a pouring sauce.
  • If your jam is very sweet and a little lemon juice.
  • Leave to cool.
  • Allow two peach halves per serving and arrange these on a flat plate.
  • Add two scoops of vanilla ice cream next to the peaches.
  • Pour some raspberry sauce over the ice cream and peaches.
  • Serve any remaining sauce in a little jug.

Hasselback Potatoes

  • Leif Elisson in 1953 was a trainee chef at the Hasselbacken restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden and invented these potatoes à la Hasselbacken.
  • I first came across them about two years ago on a stitching/craft week.
  • One of the ladies there made these for dinner.


  • 2 medium sized starchy potatoes per person
  • 2-3 tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil
  • 1 tablespoon of salt – flakes are good
  • 1 tablespoon of butter


  • Pre-heat the oven to GM6 – 200°C.
  • Have a baking tray ready.
  • Keep the skins on the potatoes, remove any blemishes.
  • Place the potato in the bowl of a large wooden spoon.
  • With a sharp knife cut even slits in the potato.
  • The side of the wooden spoon prevents cutting all the way through.
  • Place the potatoes on the baking tray.
  • Open up the fan a little.
  • Brush lightly with the oil.
  • Sprinkle on the salt.
  • Bake for 45 – 50 minutes.
  • Spoon any oil on the tray back over the potatoes.
  • Add a dab of butter onto each potato.
  • Cook for another 8 to 10 minutes.

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  • You could microwave larger potatoes for around 10 minutes before cutting.
  • You can sprinkle the cut potatoes with dried herbs.
  • You could use spray oil.

Szarlotka with Apples & Red Fruits

  • Szarlotka is the word my mother used for (apple) crumble.
  • In some parts of Poland szarlotka is the word used for an apple cake.
  • This cake is a cross between a cake and a crumble and is based around my previous szarlotka recipe.
  • Apples are mixed with bottled blackcurrants – but you can use any red fruits such as raspberries, blackberries, whinberries and so on.
  • The red fruits can be bottled, fresh or frozen.

Ingredients – Filling

  • 4 Bramley Apples
  • Granulated Sugar to taste – keep it slightly tart
  • A little water
  • Around 350g of bottled blackcurrants – drained

Method – Filling

  • Make the filling first, even the day beforehand as it needs to be cold before you use it.
  • Peel and core the apples and cut them into thick slices.
  • Stew the apples gently with some sugar and very little water. You can make this in a saucepan on the stove or place the apples and sugar in a dish in the oven.
  • Do not add a lot of sugar at the beginning as it does not want to be too sweet, you can adjust the sweetness at the end.
  • Do not make it too much of a purée, cook it so that you have some soft apples but with some harder less cooked chunks as well.
  • Leave this to be completely cool.
  • Mix in the blackcurrants.
  • Adjust sweetness is necessary – but keep it fairy tart.

Ingredients – Base

  • 150g  plain flour
  • 2 teaspoons of baking powder
  • 100g butter
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of lemon juice or water.

Ingredients – Topping (kruszonka)

  • 120g plain flour
  • 60g butter
  • 60g granulated sugar

Method – Base

  • You have to use a loose bottom or spring-form tin or you will not be able to get the cake out.
  • I use a loose bottomed anodised aluminium cake tin which is 22cm in diameter and 8cm deep.
  • Grease the tin well.
  • First make the cake base by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs, then stir in the sugar.
  • Add the yolk and lemon juice and bring the ingredients together to form a soft dough – do not handle the dough too much.
  • Cover and leave in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Pre heat the oven to GM 4 – 180ºC.
  • Make the dough into a rough flat circle and press it into the base of the tin.

Method – Topping

  • Make the topping by rubbing the butter into the flour to make crumbs and then stir in the sugar.
  • Put the  apple & blackcurrant mixture on top of the base – it wants to be quite a thick layer.
  • Sprinkle the topping crumbs over the apple & blackcurrant mixture.
  • Bake in the oven for around 75minutes.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Use a long metal spatula to ease the cake from the side of the tin, then place the cake onto the top of a tin can and slide the side down.

Tea plates – Aynsley – Las Palmas from the 1960s