RECIPE: Ham and Cheese Macaroni

macaroni cheese

Whether you have some leftover ham from a gammon joint that you want to use up or you want a simple but tasty meal to make, ham and cheese macaroni is a fantastic choice. The addition of ham to a classic macaroni cheese dish completely transforms this meal. It is a great budget option and really easy to make. Furthermore, it will probably be a hit with all the family. Here is an easy recipe for ham and cheese macaroni.

Ingredients for Ham and Cheese Macaroni

  • 18 oz/ 500 g dried pasta (macaroni or a similar variety of pasta)
  • 3 slices of leftover ham
  • 1 oz/ 25 g butter
  • 1 oz/ 25 g plain flour
  • 3 oz/ 80 g cheese for the sauce
  • 2 oz/ 50g cheese for the topping
  • 600 ml/ 1-pint milk
  • 2 tsp English mustard (optional)
  • White pepper and salt

How to Make Ham and Cheese Macaroni 

  1. Measure your ingredients first and preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Cook the pasta in a saucepan according to pack instructions. I would remove a few minutes from the cooking time so it is al dente as the pasta will continue to cook in the cheese sauce. 
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. 
  4. Sieve the flour into the melted butter and stir.
  5. Cook for two minutes.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk a little at a time continuously stirring until you have created a smooth sauce.
  7. Season with the salt and white pepper, add the mustard (optional) and stir through.
  8. Simmer gently over a low heat for approximately eight minutes.
  9. Remove from the heat and stir in the grated cheese.
  10. Drain the pasta when cooked and transfer to either a large ovenproof dish or individual ovenproof dishes.
  11. Using a ladle, spoon over the cheese sauce evenly.
  12. Shred your ham and stir into the mixture.
  13. Sprinkle your remaining cheese over the top of the dishes. 
  14. Transfer to the oven and cook for approximately 15 minutes or until the cheese on top is golden and bubbling.
  15. If you have cooked one large macaroni cheese, spoon onto plates. If you have cooked individual portions, transfer the individual bowls to plates. 
  16. Serve with salad, vegetables, or garlic bread. 

RECIPE: Authentic Meat Kashmiri Rogan Josh

kash 5

Indian cuisine is one of my favourite types of food and I love to try new dishes all the time. I love rogan josh and usually make this with lots of onions and peppers. However, I recently came across this recipe for a Kashmiri rogan josh online and it is totally different. I adapted the original recipe to suit the spice-level preferences of my family, but the overall recipe is an authentic Indian dish. Here is a recipe for a meat Kashmiri rogan josh. 

Ingredients for Meat Kashmiri Rogan Josh

  • 800g diced lamb or beef
  • 300g full-fat natural yoghurt
  • 8 cloves of garlic
  • 2-inch chunk of peeled ginger, grated
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 3 chillies
  • 2 tsp cumin seed (or ground cumin)
  • 6 tbsp vegetable oil or ghee
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp ground almonds
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds or ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground fennel seeds
  • 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
  • Black pepper



How to Make Meat Kashmiri Rogan Josh

  1. Put the chillies, the garlic, the ginger and all the spices into a food processor with a little water and blitz into a paste.
  2. Add the oil to a large frying pan over a medium-high heat.
  3. When the oil is sizzling, add the meat and cook for six minutes until meat is browned.
  4. Add the paste to the pan and cook for a further five minutes, stirring occasionally to coat the meat.
  5. Add half the yoghurt to the pan and cook for five minutes stirring constantly so the meat absorbs the yoghurt.
  6. Add the second half of the yoghurt and allow to come to the boil before reducing the heat.
  7. Add black pepper and the ground almonds and stir into the sauce.
  8. Simmer until the sauce has reduced by approximately a third.
  9. Cover the pan with a lid and leave to cook on a low heat for approximately an hour.
  10. Sprinkle with fresh coriander and serve with pilau rice and naan bread.


Written in response to the Daily Prompt ‘Authentic’ on The Daily Post.

RECIPE: Burgers and Sweet Potato Skinny Fries


I am not a big fan of frozen or prepackaged burgers or of those made by fast food chains. However, I do like a decent homemade burger. They are far tastier when you make them yourself and they are really quick and easy to make. I recently served them with sweet potato skinny fries and a generous serving of my homemade funky red cabbage slaw. Here is how to make six burgers with sweet potato skinny fries.

Ingredients for the Burgers

  • 600g minced beef
  • 6 brioche buns
  • 2 oz cheese
  • 1/2 onion finely chopped
  • 1 clove of crushed garlic
  • 1 beaten egg
  • t tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Ingredients for Sweet Potato Skinny Fries

  • 2 sweet potatoes, peeled
  • 200 ml vegetable oil
  • Salt

How to Make Homemade Burgers

  1. Add the minced meat, the beaten egg, the chopped onion, and the crushed garlic into a large mixing bowl and combine with your hands. 
  2. Add the oil to a large frying pan and put over a medium heat.
  3. Separate the meat mixture into six balls and press into flat patties. 
  4. Put three of the burgers into the pan and cook for five minutes on each side or until browned and cooked through.
  5. Repeat with the remaining three burgers.
  6. While the remaining burgers are in the pan, butter the brioche buns and melt the cheese in a microwave for one minute. 
  7. When the burgers are all cooked, add them to the brioche buns and top with a little of the melted cheese.
  8. Serve with skinny fries and funky red cabbage slaw.

How to Make Skinny Fries

  1. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/ 180C. 
  2. Cut the sweet potatoes horizontally to give yourself a flat surface to stand the sweet potatoes.
  3. While they are stood on their flat end, slice them vertically to approximately 0.5 centimetres thickness.
  4. Lie each slice flat and slice again to create skinny fries that are approximately 0.5 cm thickness. 
  5. Add the oil to a saucepan and put over a high heat on the hob. 
  6. In batches, fry the sweet potato fries for a few minutes until beginning to go crisp before putting on kitchen paper to drain the excess fat.
  7. Transfer all the part-cooked skinny fries to a baking tray and sprinkle generously with salt.
  8. Put the baking tray in the oven and cook for a further ten minutes until the fries are crisp. 
  9. Serve with the burgers and funky red cabbage slaw. 

If you want to serve this with my funky red cabbage slaw, then use this recipe here.

RECIPE: Braised Steak in Onion Gravy

braising 6

Braising steak is usually one of the cheaper cuts of beef, so it is a fantastic choice for those on a budget. It is also a good choice if you are a fan of slow-cooking techniques and like to prepare a meal in the morning before leaving for work so that serving dinner takes very little effort when returning home. I made this delicious braising steak with onion gravy for tea yesterday and served it with potato gratin (recipe here), fine green beans, and julienne potatoes. Below is a picture of how much the boys in my house were enjoying eating their braised steak, which was literally falling apart because it was so tender. Here is an easy recipe for braised steak with onion gravy to serve 4 people. 

boys at tea

Ingredients for Braised Steak with Onion Gravy

  • 4 braising steaks
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 4 heaped tbsp gravy granules
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Braised Steak with Onion Gravy

  • Preheat the oven to a low setting.
  • Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat on the hob. 
  • Season the braising steaks on both sides with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  • Put two of the steaks in the pan and cook for a few minutes on each side to brown.
  • Transfer the steaks to an ovenproof dish.
  • Repeat with the two remaining steaks.
  • Add the onions to the pan and fry for approximately 3 minutes or until turning brown
  • Transfer the onions to the ovenproof dish with the braising steaks. 
  • Boil a kettle of water and pour enough over the steaks and onions to cover plus an extra inch.
  • Add a lid to the dish or cover with kitchen foil. 
  • Put in the oven and cook on a low heat for 4-5 hours. (If you are out of the house for longer, it is fine)
  • Remove from the oven and sprinkle over the gravy granules. Stir into the water and juices.
  • Turn the oven up to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  • Recover the dish and return to the oven for 30 minutes.
  • Remove from the oven and serve with your choice of potatoes and vegetables. 

RECIPE: Potato Gratin

pot 5

If you want an interesting way of serving potatoes as a side dish or you want a filling vegetarian option, then potato gratin is a delicious choice. It is a quick and simple to make. Here is a recipe for potato gratin.

Ingredients for Potato Gratin

  • 8 medium white potatoes
  • 1 onion
  • 100g soft cheese
  • 200g cheddar or similar cheese, grated
  • 50g butter
  • Salt and black pepper

How to Make Potato Gratin

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ gas mark 4.
  2. Peel the potatoes and then slice them thinly- approximately 3mm thickness.
  3. Layer the enough of the potatoes in an ovenproof dish to completely cover the bottom.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Top and tail an onion and remove the skin. Cut in half lengthways.
  6. Lie the onion on the flat side and slice thinly.
  7. Spread the onion slices over the potatoes. 
  8. Use two teaspoons to create small ‘dollops’ of soft cheese and dot these across the potatoes and onions.
  9. Layer more potatoes over the top, overlapping slightly to create a pattern, as in the photos.
  10. Cut the butter into small cubes and dot over the top of the potatoes.
  11. Season with salt and pepper.
  12. Put the dish in the oven and cook for 20 minutes.
  13. Remove from the oven and add the grated cheese.
  14. Return to the oven for 15 minutes or until the cheese is golden brown.

Here is the finished result with braising steak in onion gravy, fine beans, and julienne carrots.




RECIPE: Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges


If you are looking for an alternative to chips or mashed potatoes, then potato wedges are a great choice as they are crisp on the outside, fluffy on the inside and will give you your carbohydrate fix for the day. They are so easy to make that even those who claim not to be able to open a tin of soup can make potato wedges. This lightly spiced option gives an extra element of flavour to this delicious side dish. Here is how to make these with an easy recipe for lightly spiced potato wedges. 

Ingredients for Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges

  • 8 medium white potatoes
  • 4 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • Salt

How to Make Lightly Spiced Potato Wedges

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/ Gas Mark 4.
  2. Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil.
  3. Cut potatoes into wedges by first halving, then quartering, and then cutting the quartered pieces lengthways one final time. 
  4. Put potato wedges into the pan of boiling water to blanch for five minutes. 
  5. Drain the potatoes onto a sheet of kitchen paper to remove moisture.
  6. Transfer the potatoes to a baking tray and drizzle with the oil.
  7. Turn and rub the potatoes to make sure they are all coated with the oil. Add a little extra oil if necessary. 
  8. Sprinkle the potatoes with the salt and paprika.
  9. Put the tray in the oven and cook for 15 minutes.
  10. Remove from the oven and turn the potatoes to prevent cooking and make sure they are evenly cooked.
  11. Return to the oven for a further 15 minutes or until crisp and brown. 
  12. Remove from the oven and transfer potato wedges onto kitchen paper to remove excess grease before serving. 

RECIPE: Creamy Lemon Tart



This is one of the most delicious desserts that I have ever eaten. Unfortunately, I cannot take any credit for the recipe, the creation of the dish or the final results. This was made by my oldest son, Nathan, in his food technology lesson. When my daughter, Phoebe, was at high school, I avoided anything she had made in food tech like the plague. I just let my partner and my younger sons, Alfie and Freddie, eat the food for their tea. Some of the recipes were awful.

When my son started his food tech lessons, I expected the same scenario. To a certain extent, we have repeats of cooking disasters (see the macaroni cheese incident). However, there have also been some great results and this was one of them. I was treated by my son to this mouthwatering dessert and he said it was really easy to make. It has a crumbly biscuit base, similar to a cheesecake, and a creamy lemon flavoured topping. Here is how to make a creamy lemon tart.

Ingredients for Creamy Lemon Tart

  • 4 oz butter
  • 1 pack digestive biscuits
  • 1 tin condensed milk
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 250 ml double cream
  • 1 Cadbury’s Flake

How to Make a Creamy Lemon Tart

  1. Crush the digestive biscuits using either a food blender or by putting them in a carrier bag and smashing with a rolling pin. 
  2. Melt the butter over a low heat in a saucepan.
  3. Remove from the heat and stir in the crushed biscuits. 
  4. Transfer the butter and biscuit mix to a cake tin (preferably one with a push-up bottom).
  5. Press down using the back of a spoon to create a firm base.
  6. Put the cake tin in the refrigerator.
  7. Whip the cream using either a mixer or by hand with a whip.
  8. When the cream can form solid peaks, fold in the condensed milk.
  9. Add the lemon juice and lemon zest and stir through.
  10. Transfer the mixture onto the biscuit base and return the cake tin to the refrigerator for an hour to set.
  11. Before serving, crumble a Cadbury’s Flake over the top. Alternatively, grate milk or dark chocolate over the dessert.