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Roasted Beetroot and Rocket Salad
Beetroot salad
1 bunch fresh beets
olive oil
pinch salt
a large bunch rockets leaves
50gms goats cheese
half a lemon

Pre heat oven to 180 deg. Celsius

Wash and trim beets, then cut into large cubes and pat dry. Toss with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake in oven for 30 minutes. Set aside to cool

Assemble washed rocket on a serving plate with beets on top. Add crumbled goats cheese, a squeeze of lemon and a last sprinkle of olive oil

Sweet Shallot Tartin

This recipe makes a tart approximately 23cm in diameter. If possible use a cast iron pan with a handle that can go in the oven.

sweet shallot tartin700g small sweet shallots
125g butter
1 tblsp sugar
salt and pepper to season
250g butter puff pastry

pre heat oven to 200 deg. celsius

melt butter, sugar and salt and pepper
peel shallots and arrange on melted butter in pan
cook slowly for approximately 30 minutes or until the shallots are tender and the butter and sugar begins to caramelize. Do not cook over a high heat as the sugar will burn. Remove from the heat and set aside
Roll puff pastry until you have a thin circle 20% bigger than the pan. The pastry should be a few millimeters thick. Place the pastry over the shallots and tuck in around the sides. Cook the tart in the hot oven for 20 minutes. The pastry should be light brown and crisp.
Remove from oven, wait 5 minutes, cover with a plate and invert so the tart ends up on the plate shallot side up.

Serve warm with some crème fraiche and a green salad.

Aubergines with Miso Glaze
Aubergines with Miso Glaze
2 large aubergines
1 Tblsp olive oil
3 Tblsp miso paste
2 Tblsp Mirin
1 Tblsp sake or dry sherry
1 Tblsp sugar
1 Tsp Seasame Oil
1 tblsp seasame seeds
handful of sliced spring onions

Heat Oven to 180 degrees Celsius

Cut thick slices of aubergine, about 3cm. Score one side of the slice in a cris cross fashion. Lightly salt and leave for 30mins to an hour. Rinse well and pat dry. Brush both sides with olive oil and bake in oven for 20-30 minutes or until the aubergine is tender.

Mix the miso, mirin, sake, sugar and sesame oil together. Spread over the aubergine slices and place under a hot grill until the miso sauce bubbles and caramelizes. If you have extra sauce, reduce it slightly on the stove and pour over

Arrange aubergine on a serving plate and sprinkle with spring onions

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Hearty Lamb and Barley BrothLamb and Barley Broth

Perfect for a miserable winters day, this is an easy no fuss alternative to our delicious Chicken Barley Soup. A bigger hit with menfolk too!

3 lamb necks
3 tsps. Olive Oil
1 large onion cut into large squares
3 carrots peeled
2 leeks tops cut off
3 sticks celery
½ tsp. ground pepper
I bay leaf
I sprig rosemary
1.5 L chicken or beef stock
100g Pearl barley
Handful mint
Handful parsley
Zest of 1 lemon

Heat oil in large deep saucepan and add lamb necks. Lightly brown the meat all over and then add vegetables all roughly chopped, pepper and stock with a little salt for seasoning. Bring to the boil then add bay leaf and rosemary. Turn down to a simmer, cover and cook slowly for 2 hours. You can do this in the bottom oven of the Aga or on 120 degrees in a regular oven or on the stovetop.

Add barley and cook for another 30mins. Check liquid levels. The broth should almost be syrupy.

Serve with chopped mint, parsley and lemon zest

Chicken Barley Soup – with quick Asian alternative

I love to keep this soup in my refrigerator – it makes a terrific instant supper or yummy impromptu lunch for drop in visitors

1 free-range chicken
3 carrots peeled
5 sticks celery
1 large sweet potato
½ tsp. ground pepper
I bay leaf
1.5 L chicken or beef stock
100g Pearl barley
Handful parsley

Place the chicken in a large deep saucepan and cover with water. Add a pinch of salt and pepper and the bay leaf and cook slowly for 1 to 1 ½ hours or until chicken is cooked. Lift chicken from stock and leave to cool. Drain stock and return to saucepan. Pull chicken meat roughly from bones and set aside to add to the soup later.

Chop carrot, celery and sweet potato into similar sized small squares and add to stock with barley. Cook for 30minutes then add chicken meat to soup. Season to taste and to serve add a generous handful of chopped fresh parsley.

Asian alternative;

Replace uncooked chicken with bought BBQ chicken
Delete sweet potato, carrot and celery
5 medium chestnut mushrooms sliced
2 handfuls of interesting mushrooms
a bunch of bok choy chopped into four pieces each
1L chicken stock

Put chicken stock on stove to boil and add barley, cook for 30mins
Remove meat from chicken and chop roughly, set aside
Pan fry chestnut mushrooms and add to barley and stock mix, then add chicken, bok choy and finally interesting mushrooms. Do not overcook bok choy.

Serve arranging soup in base of bowl with bok choy and pretty mushrooms on the top.

Green Soup

This is my standard feel good soup. Like the chicken barley I keep it in Green Soupthe fridge and just have a cup whenever I am peckish. An excellent winter warming snack.

3 brown onions
40g butter and a tsp. olive oil
pinch each salt and pepper
1 head broccoli
5 courgettes (zucchini to us Aussies)
1- 2 cups frozen peas
1 bunch chopped spinach
1.5L chicken stock

Sauté onions in butter and oil for 5-10 mins or until they are clear. Add stock to saucepan and bring to the boil. Add roughly chopped courgette and broccoli and cook until greens are bright and slightly soft. Do not overcook at this stage. Immediately remove from heat and add peas and spinach.
Blend with a stick blender until the soup is smooth. You may need to remove a little liquid before you do this step so soup does not become too thin. I remove almost a cup of stock and then add it back to get the right consistency.
Finished soup should be thick. Serve with a slice of goats cheese and fresh bread.


Luxury no bake chocolate slice that keeps well in the fridge;Hedgehog

6oz butter
6oz sugar
2 small eggs
3 Tablespoons cocoa
¾ packet Rich Tea or 1 packet Arrowroot biscuits (crumbed)
1 ½ cups sultanas and chopped apricots
½ tsp. vanilla
1 packet (120gms) dark chocolate bits

Melt butter and sugar over low heat then stir in beaten egg, fruit and vanilla. Once this is mixed add chocolate bits and finally biscuit crumbs. Press into a slice tin 20x25cm or similar and refrigerate

Leave for several hours or overnight and then cut into 2cm squares.
Hedgehog will keep in the fridge for two weeks.

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Steak with Cauliflower Puree

Recipe DecThe cauliflower puree in this recipe is a fabulous low carb alternative to mashed potato, more delicious and perfect for a dinner party, serves 4.

1 medium sized cauliflower
2 to 3 cups of milk
3 bay leaves
1.4 tsp nutmeg
¼ to ½ cup cream
4 thick cut beef fillets
4 handfuls delicate and interesting mushrooms
2 bunches asparagus
4 warm plates (puree is horrible cold)

1 carrot finely diced
1 stick celery finely diced
2 chestnut mushrooms finely diced
30g butter
red wine
1 desert spoon cream thickest cream
2 tbs of any sweet chutney or marmalade, spicy plum sauce is also good!

To start have the beef cut to size, lightly seasoned with salt and sitting in the refrigerator.

Place milk in a shallow saucepan with bay leaves and nutmeg. Slowly bring to boil. Chop the cauliflower roughly and add to the milk. Cook until the cauliflower is soft but not falling apart. Drain and throw away the milk and bay leaves. Blend cauliflower with the cream to obtain a smooth consistency, season with salt and pepper to taste. You need to judge the amount of cream so the puree is not too runny or stodgy. Set this aside covered keeping warm.

In a saucepan, sauté the carrot, celery and mushrooms until very soft. Add ¾ cup red wine and chutney and reduce for several minutes. Add pepper to taste. You shouldn’t need salt as the celery is naturally salty. Now add the cream and bubble until the sauce runs clear. Strain the solids from the sauce and set aside keeping warm. Always taste a sauce to make sure you are happy!

Lightly pan fry the mushrooms and set aside. In the same pan, cook the beef as preferred – preferably medium rare with a nice crust on one side.

Arrange puree, then steak and mushrooms on plate. Add any leftover beef juice to the sauce and pour a little over the steak. Serve with lightly cooked asparagus.

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downloadA tasty and simple dish to cook for a mid week kitchen supper. This recipe serves four ….

4 courgettes or 6 if they are small. I like the small very green ones the best
1 small red hot chili
3 cloves garlic
4 tblsps olive oil
Spaghetti No. 5
4 pieces fresh salmon skin off
1 lemon to squeeze over on presentation
fresh parmesan optional

Set a large pot of water on to boil for the spaghetti with a pinch of salt.

Put plates in low oven to warm.
Finely chop the chili and garlic and sauté gently with a pinch of salt and pepper and the olive oil. Set pan off the heat and grate courgettes with a coarse cheese grater.
Have spaghetti cooking before you cook the fish.

Add courgettes to oil, garlic and chili and sweat down until they are slightly cooked but still a lovely green colour. Again set aside.
Heat another pan and add a very small quantity of olive oil so the fish will not stick. If you have a griddle pan use this as the fish cooks very well on it and it looks lovely on presentation. Cook the fish for a four minutes and only turn when a crust has formed. The fish will only need 6 or 7 minutes cooking. This should leave it slightly pink in the middle.

Once the spaghetti is cooked, drain it leaving a very small quantity of water with it and add this to the courgettes. Toss well. The courgettes do not mix all that well but the moisture and oil in the mix coats the spaghetti nicely.

Arrange the pasta on plates, then the courgette mix and finally the salmon on top of this. Squeeze some lemon on each piece of salmon and serve immediately.

Some people like to add freshly grated parmesan to the dish but I prefer not to.

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Coconut Macaroons

Coconut Macaroons4 large egg whites
3 ½ cups unsweetened dried flaked coconut ( not shredded) or
3 cups dried shredded coconut
¾ cup castor sugar
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp salt
200gms dark cooking chocolate ( optional)
1 tblsp butter to add to chocolate as it is melting

Combine all the ingredients in a large heatproof bowl or saucepan. Stainless steel is better than glass as it conducts the heat better. Set the bowl over a pan of boiling water and stir the mixture constantly until the egg white starts very slightly to turn opaque, approx.. 5-7 minutes. The mixture should be be very hot to touch but not cooking the egg white. Take off the heat and set aside to allow the coconut to absorb the egg white – 10 minutes.

Pregheat the oven to 170 deg. C and line cookie trays with baking paper

Using two tablespoons, make attractive heaps of mixture 2 inches apart. Bake for 5 minutes and then turn the heat down 5 or 10 degress and cook for another 10 minutes. The macaroons should be a creamy golden colour with deeper brown crispy tips. Rotate the trays as necessary if the cookies are browning unevenly.

Cool the cookies completely on the tray before removing.

If desired you can coat the underside of the cookies with melted chocolate. Melt the chococlate in a double boiler with the butter and use a spatula or blunt knife to spread the chcoclate. Place in the refrigerator for 5 minutes to set the chocolate properly.

Store in a completely airtight container. They are best on the day of coking but do keep well if tin is airtight.

This recipe comes from a fab book – Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy by Alice Medrich

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Crusted Lamb3 thick slices sough dough bread (Use good quality breadcrumbs if short of time)
¼ cup chopped parsley
Zest of 1 lemon
1 garlic clove chopped
60ml Olive Oil
Freshly ground pepper
2 Tblsp Dijon mustard
2 x 8 trimmed lamb racks
500gms Cherry tomatoes
4 cloves garlic

For the lamb, preheat the oven to 180 Degrees C or gas mark 4. Place sough dough on baking try and toast for 20minutes or until lightly golden. Leave to cool them crumble in your hands or whizz in a food processor to get medium sized bread crumbs. Mix the breadcrumbs with the parsley, lemon, garlic, oil and pepper in a bowl.

Trim the lamb racks to remove any sinew then spread with Dijon mustard. Press the breadcrumb mixture firmly onto the racks in generous quantities. I always have a little left over with this recipe. The lamb can be prepared the day before like this and it enhances the flavours beautifully as well as leaving you more time on the day.

To cook, place cherry tomatoes on a tray, sprinkle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and bake slowly in oven on 160 degrees C for 50minutes. If you have time, these tomatoes are actually better baked at 150 Deg. C for an hour and a half. Remove from Oven and set aside to cool

Remove Lamb from fridge until it is at room temperature. Have oven pre heated to 190 deg. C and place racks interlocked with each other so they stand up and bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove and leave to rest. Simply put the tomatoes back into the cooling oven to heat again and serve as follows;

Cut each rack into half or thirds depending on the appetites of your guests and serve with green beans and tomatoes

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