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There is always something happening in supermarkets - new products, product demonstrations, shelves reorganised so you can't find anything. Not always interesting, quite often boring and sometimes a chore but just occasionally something catches your eye, something is interesting . . .

Stuffed peppers anyone?

When I was in my early teens my mother discovered the recipe for stuffed peppers . . . many was the time I wished she hadn't! Horrible! Green peppers stuffed with a rice and minced beef mixture – tasteless except for the bitterness of the green pepper. Why do I tell you this? Because I have come up with a quick recipe for a great veg dish for when you are in a hurry.

During the week when everyone is working cooking needs to be quick and, if not quick, it needs to be easy. One of my easy meals is pork chops done in the oven for about an hour and served with a veg and some sort of potatoes (I am a great fan of the chip pan).

Anyway to make a long story even longer, the day after my birthday I didn't feel like cooking. All the kids had gone to the local firework display so my wife and I thought it would make a nice change to nip to the local Pizza Hut – the thought was fine but the reality a bit less so but one bright spot was my starter . . . stuffed pepper!

It was quite tasty and the idea seemed simple enough. Half a red pepper stuffed with risotto and covered in a crisp herb and cheese crust. Now you could make your own risotto to do this but we are trying to make a quick and simple veg so let's not get carried away. This is about using your supermarket to make quick tasty meals.

For the crust I used Swiss Emmental cheese finely grated and one of Jamie Oliver's Herb Crusts. There are four herb crusts in the range:

  • Lemon Herb Crust – with zingy lemon and garlic
  • Piri Piri Herb Crust – with chilli, paprika and kibbled chillies
  • Rosemary, Chilli & Garlic Herb Crust - with kibbled chillies and spices
  • Moroccan Herb Crust – with herbs, spices and spices of apricot

I chose the Rosemary, Chilli & Garlic but go with whatever works for you. According to his web site the crusts are available in UK from Booths, Morrisons and Tescos.

You will require:

2 x sweet red peppers
Jamie Oliver's Herb Crust
Emmental Cheese, grated
1 x pack Uncle Ben's microwave risotto

Uncle Ben's microwave risottoTo prepare:

  • Cut the peppers in half lengthways and remove seeds and pith.
  • Microwave the risotto as per instructions.
  • Fill each pepper with risotto so that it fills the hollow.
  • Sprinkle cheese on top followed by the herb crust.
  • I put mine in a roasting tray covered with tin foil. Crinkle the tin foil and it stops the peppers from rolling. It also means that you haven't got a pan with baked on cheese to wash! I also put the peppers in the pan before sprinkling on the cheese and the crust . . . just less mess.
  • How long to cook for? When I am doing pork chops I usually put the chops in for an hour in the top half of the oven on Gas 5 and then put the peppers in on a lower shelf for 45 minutes. I will then switch them round so the peppers are on the top shelf for the last 5 or 10 minutes.

Don't like peppers?

Just do the same with large mushrooms but you only need to cook then for about 30 minutes. I also do two mushrooms per person!

Editorial note: This site is not paid to promote Jamie Oliver products nor Uncle Ben's. They are just an example and you can use whatever takes your fancy.


What is Iberico Ham? (part 2)

Iberico HamBuying Iberico ham – which one to choose? Firstly we have to look at the regions where these hams are produced. There are four recognised regions in Spain, these are: Salamanca, Extremadura, Huelva and Cordoba. There are also some famous names attached to these regions such as Jabugo, Guijuelo and Los Pedroches.
A seasoned connoisseur will be able to tell the subtle differences between hams from each area but for simply choosing a quality Iberian ham all produce prime examples. So what about flavour? This will depend on the grade of ham you require, pigs are fed on different diets, some not on acorns at all so it pays to understand the terminology.

  • Bellota: Free range pigs that feed on acorns and grass, curing time is a minimum of 30 months. Puro bellota hams account for a very low percentage of 100% breed Iberian pigs.
  • Recebo: Free range pigs that are fed on a mixed diet of acorns and compound feed. Curing time is a minimum of 24 months.
  • Cebo: Iberian pigs (not free range) fed solely on compound feed. Curing time is a minimum of 24 months.
  • Cebo de Campo: Iberian pigs fed on a compound diet but which are also free range. Curing time is a minimum of 24 months.

Bellota hams are the most expensive, a Recebo ham can be significantly more economical but those nutty flavours, supreme texture and aroma will be less evident. Cebo hams are still very good, cheaper still and having all the traits of Iberico but without the bellota (acorn) flavour characteristics. Compared to Serrano hams from the white pig Iberian hams have a moderately higher fat content which is marbled throughout the meat, the leg is also a different shape being longer and much slimmer. It is worth noting that the term “puro” is occasionally used, a good example of such a ham would be the “5J” or “Cinco Jotas” from the town of Jabugo, these hams command a price higher than most due to their relative rarity coming from 100% pure Iberian hogs.

Iberico ham is a real delicacy and as such needs be enjoyed to the full, you won’t find anywhere near as many recipes for Iberian ham compared to Serrano ham, particularly regarding bellota examples the ham is the star of the show with such a unique flavour that any food pairings should remain simple with mild flavours – let the ham do the work. Slicing the ham itself will determine fine textures and aromas, slices should be short, rectangular and wafer thin before being left to breath until they almost “sweat”. It is at this point that you can truly savour one of the finest flavours in the world.

To view Iberico hams:



It's that time of year again so something a bit seasonal is in order.

Christmas Eve Pie


8oz short crust pastry
1 large cooking apple, peeled, cored and sliced
1 onion - sliced
2 large tomatoes, skinned & sliced
Pinch sage
Pinch garlic salt
Pinch mixed herbs
3/4lb sausage meat

How to make:

  • You will need a deep 8 inch pie dish.
  • Line the pie dish with three-quarters of the pastry.
  • Fill with layers of tomatoes, apple, onion.
  • Mix sausage meat with herbs and spread on top.
  • Cover with pastry and decorate with pastry holly leaves or Christmas tree
  • Brush with milk and bake at 425° for 15 minutes.
  • Reduce the oven temperature to 375° and bake for a further 40 minutes until golden.
  • Serve either hot or cold.

Serves 4 to 6


French Onion Soup


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large onion, finely sliced
1/2 glass white wine
3/4 pint of hot Chicken stock (2 OXO)
1/4 pint Beef stock (1 OXO)
Garlic to taste
Tablespoon of Sugar
35ml Martell Cognac
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the topping:
Sliced French Stick Bread (4 slices)
1 tsp olive oil
50g / 2oz gruyere cheese or cheddar cheese, grated
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

How to make:

  • To make the soup, melt the butter in a medium saucepan over a low heat.
  • Add the sliced onion, cover and gently cook until softened. Adding the Sugar half way through to caramelise.
  • Increase the heat, add the wine and stock and garlic and simmer until reduced by a third (20 -30 minutes).
  • Add the cognac after 20 minutes.
  • Cut and lightly toast the bread.
  • Drizzle the bread with the olive oil and season, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper, add the cheese and grill until brown.
  • To serve pour the soup into a large brown bowl and place 2 pieces of toasted cheese bread on top.

Serves 2

3rd-5th Taste of Christmas

Taste of Christmas is the perfect recipe for gourmet glamour, entertaining and inspiration.

Fill your stockings early at the boutique market and source those essential ingredients for your festive table before settling down to a fine wine, rich coffee, quality cheese or chocolate tasting.

Visit the Taste Theatres, where top chefs like Heston Blumenthal, Antony Worrall Thompson and Jean-Christophe Novelli share their kitchen secrets!

12 of London’s top restaurants will be serving up seasonal menus of everything from traditional classics to cutting-edge cuisine - plenty to fire up the imagination, and your tastebuds.

Eat, drink and be merry in style this year and prepare for the Christmas countdown.

Click for more

  4th-5th Festive Food Fair The Chilli Company Festive Food Fair is on each day from 10.00am to 4.00pm. Held under cover in a huge marquee the fair includes:
  • Local producers
  • Outdoor bar
  • BBQ
  • Hot dogs & burgers
  • Kids entertainment
  • Victorian swing boats
  • Hoopla Stall

Sponsored by Taste of Anglia in support of the East Anglian Air Ambulance.

Click for more

This recipe comes form a little cookery book entitled The "AL" County Cookery Book compiled by a County Education Secretary and Domestic Subjects Staff. The book was actually my wife's grandmother's from when she left school in 1913.

Bread Pudding


1lb bread scraps (stale bread)
3 ozs currants
1 tbsp flour
3 ozs sugar
Pinch of salt
3 ozs suet
1 oz candied peel
1/2 tsp mixed spice (or cinnamon)
1 tsp baking powder
Milk (for mixing)


  • Soak the bread in cold water until it is quite soft then squeeze all the water away. Beat the bread with a fork to remove any lumps.
  • Chop the suet and prepare the fruit.
  • Mix all the ingredients together, adding the milk to them.
  • Pour the whole into a greased basin and then boil (or steam) for from one and a half to two hours.
  • Serve the bread pudding with custard sauce.


  • The bread pudding may be baked in a dripping tin until it becomes nicely browned. Then cut it into squares and sift with sugar before serving.

Cooking brussel sprouts

Cutting the X into the brussel sprouts will allow the heat to penetrate to the centre and cook them evenly, so the deeper the cut the better the cooking process.

Need help with cooking the turkey?

There is a page dedicated to the very subject "How to cook a roast turkey" <click here>

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