Charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese

charred lettuce spring onions

This is what loving food is all about – making discoveries like this. Who knew that lettuce can be enjoyed not raw? I have had high expectations of this recipe, based on one from River Cottage Everyday, ever since I book marked it years ago.

You can cook the lettuce on a bbq or indoors like me on a very hot griddle or frying pan (although a frying pan will lack the charred lines effect!) It only takes a few minutes to cook the lettuce and spring onions until they are brown and softened, then top them with olive oil and goats cheese. I have added a little balsamic vinegar to give a slight sweetness to the bitter/salty combination. If you leave the lettuce stalks on you can easily load the other ingredients on top then pick it up and greedily eat it all together with your hands! Hugh (Fearnley-Whittingstall) says that lettuce is also delicious braised in stock and wilted in a risotto.

This dish is pretty substantial on it’s own but would also impress as a side dish or starter.

I excitedly bought River Cottage Everyday at a jumble sale and it is a lovely cookbook – full of homely veg, fish and meat recipes and dessert, breakfast and packed lunch ideas. It’s booster bar recipe (basically fancy flapjacks – see recipe here are a staple in our house – kids and adults love ’em!

Ok, I will stop banging on. Here is today’s recpe:

Charred lettuce and spring onions with goats cheese (serves 2 as a main)

2 little gem lettuces, chopped in half lengthways and stalks left on
10 spring onions, trimmed
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Small goats cheese
Salt and pepper

Brush the lettuces and spring onions with olive oil and place on a VERY HOT bbq/griddle/frying pan. After a few minutes turn them over, ensuring each side is browned and softened. 30 seconds before they are done, pour a little balsamic vinegar on the cut sides and turn over to finish off.

Put the lettuce and spring onions on a plate and top with shaved/thinly cut goats cheese, olive oil, salt and pepper. Eat greedily with hands!

Based on a recipe from River Cottage Everyday


Seasonal rhubarb and vanilla jam (10 mins prep/30 mins stirring)

easy rhubarb vanilla jam

I wanted to make an unusual seasonal jam so was instantly keen to try out this fuss free recipe from . The subtlety of the vanilla alongside the sharp sweetness of the rhubarb, lemon juice and sugar is delicious. Have it on toast or spoon it on to yoghurt and welcome in the spring!

You can recycle old jam jars but make sure you sterilise them first by washing them in soapy water then popping the jars and lids in the oven for approx. 10 mins at gas mark 1/140 degrees (or a dishwasher cycle should do it).

The jam takes 10 mins to prepare and 20-30 mins to cook. Don’t worry if it all looks dry when you put it in the pan – after a few minutes it will become wet and sticky.

easy rhubarb vanilla jam

For alternative preserves recipes (marmalade, spiced apple chutney and chilli jam) click here

Rhubarb and vanilla jam (makes 5-6 jars)

1kg rhubarb, weighed after trimming, cut in to 3cm chunks
1kg jam sugar (or 1kg caster sugar plus 1 x 8g sachet pectin)
2 vanilla pods, halved lengthways
Juice of 1 lemon

Put the rhubarb in to a large saucepan along with the sugar and halved vanilla pods. Heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved, then stir in the lemon juice. Keep the lid off to help the mixture reduce down, and boil for 10-20 mins, until the jam is sticky. Don’t worry if it seems a little thinner than normal as it thickens as it cools.

Once the jam is ready let it cool for 15 mins before ladling it in to the warm sterilised jars and sealing. Will keep for 6 months in a cool, dark place.

Cooking with kids – cheesy caterpillars and snakes

cheesy snake biscuits cooking with kids

Here is a fun, simple cooking activity to do with kids that produces tasty caterpillar and snake shaped cheesy biscuits. The recipe uses raisins for eyes and involves some great skills for kids to learn e.g. grating, rolling out pastry, cutting, sprinkling, and brushing on egg. And of course breaking an egg, which my son relishes. Hopefully the resulting mess won’t overwhelm you as much as it did my boyfriend, who described it as ‘a tragedy’.

cheesy snake biscuits cooking with kids

cheesy snake biscuits cooking with kids

The recipe is from a lovely kids activity book called ‘What Shall I Do Now?’ by Usborne, the kind of old fashioned, appealing book that only seems to exist in charity shops or the library.

For more ideas for cooking with kids check out the category on the right of the page!

Ingredients for cheesy snakes and caterpillars
(makes about 8 snakes and 4 caterpillars)

150g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp salt
25g margarine/butter, softened or melted
75g cheddar cheese, grated
1 egg and 2 tbsp milk, beaten together
Raisins for eyes
A bottle top

Mix together the flour, margarine and salt. Leave a tbsp cheese on a plate and add the rest to the flour, margarine and salt mixture. Put a tbsp of the egg mixture in a cup and add the rest to the flour mixture. Mix to make a dough.

Roll out the dough on a floured surface until it is as thick as your little finger. Use a blunt knife to cut eight strips as wide as two fingers. Bend the strips in to wiggles to make a snake. To make a caterpillar, cut out circles of dough with a bottle top and lay them overlapping each other in a wiggly line. Press them together.

Brush the shapes with the egg mixture and sprinkle with the remaining cheese. Firmly add raisins for eyes.

Use a slice to lift the shapes on to a non-stick or greased tray. Bake at gas mark 6/200 degrees for approx. 15 mins, until golden.

Recipe from What Shall I Do Now? by Usborne