Easy Portuguese-style sardine pâté

Fish paste in a bowl decorated with fish, and also spread on bread.On their ‘Iberian’ weeks, Lidl often sell little cartons of Portuguese sardine pate that remind me of summer holidays long since passed. They’ve not had any for a while, so I decided to make my own. Turned out nice.

You will need:

  • tin of sardines in spring water
  • tablespoon tomato puree
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons of very finely chopped or minced onion
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of finely chopped parsley
  • half a tablespoon of tomato sauce
  • half a tablespoon of olive oil, unless you’re John Paul Getty in which case go for it and use more
  • squeeze of lemon juice
  • half a teaspoon of chilli powder
  • salt and pepper

Strain the sardines and combine all the ingredients. You could whizz it up in a blender but I just mashed it with a fork in a bowl and spread it on crusty bread with cucumber. Delicious!

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Best fish pie yet

We’ve been making Jamie Oliver’s Fantastic Fish Pie for years, and I see Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall has a similar recipe in his new comfort food book. But tonight I decided not to look at that, and busked my own new twist on the humble fish pie, that was by far the best yet.

Serves 4


  • 1 onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 big carrot
  • 7 potatoes
  • 4 fillets of frozen suspiciously generic white fish (don’t ask)
  • 4 fillets of frozen smoked fish e.g. haddock
  • A splash of milk
  • Approx 150ml double cream, possibly slightly old
  • Approx 100-200g cheddar cheese, no idea how much really
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 nuggets of frozen spinach
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon plain flour
  • pinch of mixed herbs
  • pinch of smoked paprika
  • Optional: few fennel seeds, a very few threads of saffron
  • Butter, olive oil, salt, pepper, smooth mustard, grain mustard
  • Optional tomato ketchup

For the sides

  • A bowl of frozen peas
  • 10 leaves of cavolo nero
  • 1 spring onion
  • lemon juice


Put the oven on 200C, fan 180C

If the cavolo nero has just been picked from the allotment, as ours had, put the leaves in a bowl of salted cold water.

Peel and dice the potatoes, boil with salt and the eggs until the potatoes are soft and the eggs are hard.

Meanwhile, finely chop or food process the onion, celery, carrot. Fry in oil in an oven-proof pan until soft. Add the fish, spinach, black pepper, bay leaf, smooth mustard and a splash of milk. Put the lid on and simmer until the fish is cooked and falling apart.

Then take the lid off, sprinkle in the flour, herbs, paprika, any other spices and add the cream. Reduce the mix by stirring and simmering with the lid off.

When the mix looks gloopy, remove the bay leaf. Mix in the diced cheese. Halve the peeled eggs and place 4 halves in a cross so everyone gets half an egg.

Drain and mash the potatoes with a knob of butter, pepper and a large teaspoon of grain mustard.

Spread the potato on top of the fish mix, put lines in it with a fork and bake in the oven for half an hour or so until it starts going crispy.

Slice the spring onion into chunky diagonals and fry in olive oil, butter and pepper. When they are soft at the sliced cavolo nero. Slice the stems thinner than the leaves. Fry until wilted, add a squeeze of lemon juice.

Zap the frozen peas for around 3 or 4 minutes in the microwave, drain and serve.

Dish up the pie, cavolo nero and peas with a squirt of ketchup and a glass of white wine.

Comfort bliss.

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Post-roast chicken soup

bowl of chicken soup Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s new cook book River Cottage Good Comfort is a treasure trove of simple, tasty recipes – just the sort of thing we love here at Suppertime!

I won’t spoil his sales by repeating the recipe, but this is a great use of left-over roast chicken meat with stock made from the carcass, finely-chopped carrot and leak, peas, plus small pasta stars and onion. Instead of using olive oil, I fried the veg in the schmaltz, the chicken fat scraped off the stock once it had solidified in the fridge. Full of golden flavour.

page from the recipe book

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Retro recipe cards

I did a bit of graphic design noodling at the weekend and made a faux-old Suppertime book from the 1960s and some 60s/70s style recipe cards too. What do you think?

Quick and easy recipes 2

Fake old recipe card

Fake old recipe card 2

Faux old recipe card 3

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Roast tray with hoummmmous

roast veg tray with houmousMy daughter made this tonight and it was utterly delicious – the photo doesn’t do it justice. Also, the best houmous  I have ever tasted!

Serves 2


  • 1/2 can of chickpeas
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon smoked paprika
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 and a half heaped tablespoons of tahini
  • 2 tablespoons of cold water
  • 1 large clove of garlic

Place all the ingredients in a food processor and smoosh. (Our food processor is called Brian.)

Roast tray

  • tablespoon olive oil
  • seeds of half a butternut squash
  • the other half of the can of chickpeas
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 clove of garlic, skin-on but pricked all over
  • half a red onion
  • half a butternut squash, peeled and cubed
  • half a small cauliflower in florets
  • juice of the other half of the lemon
  • handful of fresh coriander leaves
  • salt & pepper

Mix the oil in a baking tray with the spices and seeds and chickpeas, and roast in an oven at 180C fan for 20 minutes.

Whilst that’s roasting, boil or steam the butternut squash and cauliflower until soft. Drain and add to the oven tray mix with red onion and garlic. Place back in oven for 20 minutes.

Serve with lemon juice and fresh coriander leaves and a side dish of slaw.




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Hot dog stroganoff

hot dog stroganoffToo many sausages! I made this for 3, scaled down… but didn’t scale it down quite enough. Burp! It is quick, easy and delicious, though. And it doesn’t have any dill in it.

This should feed 5 people easily. Adapted from The Little Swedish Kitchen by Rachel Khoo – I highly recommend the book and TV series.

  • 500g tagliatelle pasta
  • 350g hot dogs, chopped into small chunks
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 100ml double cream
  • knob of butter or slash of oil
  • splash of milk
  • 2 tablespoons of capers, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • heaped teaspoon of paprika (not smoked)
  • 2 spring onions, finely chopped
  • salt & pepper

Get a big pan of salted boiling water and get the pasta on.

Fry the onion and sausages in the butter or oil until the onion starts to brown. Add the cream, paprika and tomato puree. Simmer for a few minutes. Loosen the sauce with the milk and some of the pasta water if you think it needs it. Mix in the capers and spring onions. Serve.

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Chicken in cider

Chicken in ciderWe’ve had Claudia Roden’s beautiful book Food from Spain on our bookshelves (not, note, in the kitchen) for a long time and we have hardly cooked anything from it. That changed last night when we made two dishes, both delicious and simple. Yes, some of the recipes in the book require rabbit or venison, but there are also gems like this that use cheap ingredients, are quick and easy. They both passed what I have previously called ‘the Frank Bath Alchemy test’ with flying colours.

I was lucky enough to meet Claudia Roden in 1997 when I was working for NPR and I am pleased to report that she was charming, gracious, and chatted to me for way longer than she needed to.

This is a simplified version of Claudia’s recipe. Fed 2 hungry boys and their dad.

  • pack of 4 chicken thighs (I used fillets but this would be even better with skin-on unfilleted chicken)
  • 1 onion
  • half a big pack of smoked bacon lardons
  • 2 fat cloves of garlic
  • 500ml apple cider
  • as many salad / waxy potatoes as you want, halved
  • 2 handfuls of frozen peas
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

Chop & gently fry the onion in a casserole dish until it starts to go soft, then add the lardons and then the chicken on a higher hear. Season well with salt & pepper. When the chicken is browning nicely, add the chopped garlic and continue to fry. Before the garlic can burn, add the cider, and the peas. We cooked the potatoes separately but I would suggest adding them to the pot now. Reduce heat to a simmer and put a lid on.

Cook for 30 min and serve on soup plates with crusty bread to mop up the sublime juice.



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Flatbreads and hummous

Tragically no photos of these, they all got eaten too quickly to snap. But once you’ve made your own hummous and flat breads you’ll never go back to shop-bought.


This is adapted from Jersualem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi to make it quicker and easier with tinned chickpeas. It came as a revelation to me that it tastes better without oil.


  • 400g tin of chickpeas
  • About 150g of tahini
  • Half a big lemon
  • Ice cold water from the fridge
  • A huge clove of garlic

Drain the chickpeas and put in a food processor. Chop and pound the garlic in a pestle & mortar and add to the chickpeas with the lemon juice. Do not add any salt if the chickpeas were in salted water. Add about half the amount of tahini compared with the amount of chickpeas. Whizz up and slowly add iced water until it becomes a smooth paste. Add more lemon juice or other flavourings to taste – smoked paprika and cumin are big favourites here but this is so simple and delicious it really doesn’t need anything else.


Adapted from the superb River Cottage Handbook No.3: Bread by Daniel Stevens.

  • 200g plain flour
  • 300g strong white bread flour
  • 5g powdered yeast
  • 10g fine salt
  • 325ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

Put all the dry ingredients in a food mixer with a dough-hook attached. On a slow speed, add the oil and gradually add the milk. Knead for about 10 minutes and cover the bowl with clingfilm and leave in a warm place for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

Knock the dough back and on a well-flowered worktop roll out shapes that are big enough to fit in your frying pan – any size will do, about 4mm thick. Heat a dry pan as hot as you can get it, open doors & windows to temporarily quieten the smoke alarms with a juicy bone.

When the pan is really hot, pop a rolled-out piece of dough in. It will start to bubble and when slightly charred onderneath, flip it over until cooked on both sides. (Daniel Stevens uses the stove and a grill for the tops but I found this too much bother, and indeed I was getting too hot!). Serve with the hummous you made above. This is a half-quantity from the original recipe but it still made about 10 small flatbreads, plenty to feed all 5 of us.


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Pork ramen

Adapted from a BBC Good Food recipe when I realised that most recipes in a certain ramen cookbook required 8 other things you had to make and about a month of spare time. Serves 4.


  • 1 chicken stock cube
  • a handful of frozen stir-fry veg, quickly fried
  • 1 far garlic clove, thinly chopped
  • 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
  • a few good slugs of soy sauce
  • a few shakes of Worcester sauce
  • thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger root, thinly sliced – it’s always a ‘thumb-sized’ piece of ginger. Perhaps because ginger looks like thumbs.
  • 1 teaspoon Chinese five spice
  • pinch of chilli powder
  • some sugar or sweetener, e.g. honey or agave nectar
  • 2 packets of thick easy-cook ramen / udon noodles – the moist ones.
  • 8 strips of pork belly
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • vegetable oil
  • sesame seeds
  • spring onion, chopped
  • some baby spinach leaves
  • a sheet of nori / dried seaweed


Rub the pork belly strips with Chinese 5 spice and set aside.

Quickly fry a few handfuls of frozen stir-fry veg in some vegetable oil and set aside.

Add some sesame oil to the pan and turn up the heat. Sear the pork belly strips until they are brown on each side and set aside. Pour off any excess fat.

In the same pan, with all the caramelised porky bits, combine the chicken stock cube, sauces, sweetener, 750ml hot water, garlic, ginger, fresh chilli, a pinch of chilli powder and a pinch more 5 spice. Bring to the boil and simmer for a while. Add more water if required. Add the noodles and veg.

Slice the pork belly in the opposite direction to the strips so each porky chunk has a strip of meat and fat and add to the pot. Simmer gently until pork and noodles are cooked, add the spinach and put the lid on until it has wilted.

Serve and garnish with sesame seeds, spring onion and shredded nori.



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