Blog & Recipes

Gluten Free Teff Crackers for Cheese

gluten free Teff crackers

gluten free teff crackers & cheese

Free from eating out awards 2016 - shortlisted

Why Gluten free Teff Crackers?

As many of our diners and guests know I am a coeliac. Coeliac’s disease is an auto-immune condition and as any coeliac will tell you, eating a gluten-free diet is not a choice. Even a crumb of gluten can cause catastrophic damage so for this reason everything I serve at Knife & Fork is gluten free, such as the gluten free teff crackers for cheese,  as I need to be able to taste everything.

When I first set up Knife & Fork I didn’t advertise the fact that I only served gluten free food as I was not convinced that anyone other than coeliacs would come. I didn’t want to be a specialist/alternative restaurant, I wanted Knife & Fork to be somewhere everyone could come and relax, socialise and enjoy delicious food together, regardless of their dietary requirements. I did also want to dispel the belief that all gluten free food is inferior to the ‘normal’ stuff and show that gluten free (GF) food can be just as delicious as any other food; in fact it is normal food where just a few ingredients (wheat, barley & rye) are avoided. “Real food” like meat, fish, eggs, dairy, vegetables, fruits and nuts is, of course, naturally gluten-free!

garlic velouté with panfried chicken

One of the naturally gluten free main courses served at Knife & Fork, Deddington


Having said that, avoiding wheat, barley & rye does cause a bit of a problem when baking! If any baked goods are not delicious in their own right I don’t bother making or eating them. Poor substitutions are not worth bothering with in my opinion and also nutritionally are not usually any good for us anyway.

gluten free home made breakfast muffins

Gluten free breakfast muffin served with smoked salmon, poached egg & locally grown asparagus. A popular breakfast at our boutique bed & breakfast

As I tell all my guests, the wonderful Naomi Devlin is my gluten free baking guru as well as a friend. Any baking/patisserie is a skill in its own right but to create GF recipes that work and taste amazing really is a specialist area. To test and develop recipes and to make them nutritionally dense is a real skill, which requires patience and perseverance, and one that I prefer to leave to others. As much as I love baking I don’t have the time or the inclination to create my own recipes for bread, pastry and so on. I happily leave that to Naomi who is a self – proclaimed ‘nerd’ who just loves the scientific way these particular recipes have to be developed. All I can say is “thank heaven for Naomi”!

So, what has this got to do with eating at Knife & Fork?

Nearly every weekend I am asked for the recipe for the Teff crackers that we serve with cheese. I point everyone in Naomi’s direction and her lovely book River Cottage Gluten Free by Naomi Devlin. Finally I am sharing the recipe with you. Happy baking – enjoy!

Gluten free Teff Crackers

Teff cracker baking morning at Knife & Fork, Deddington.  Recipe courtesy of Naomi Devlin

 Gluten free teff crackers for cheese recipe (GF) 

When I make these crackers I use a GF sourdough starter but I do appreciate that not everyone wants to spend six days making the starter before making the first batch of crackers. Luckily, Naomi has an alternative method, which is the recipe below. Unfortunately, this does mean the crackers are not also dairy free – if you would like to make them GF/DF and/or would like to use a sourdough starter all the details are here on Naomi’s blog


For the sponge:

60g rice flour

80g live natural yogurt ( or 140g brown rice sourdough starter)

60g teff flour

90ml warm water

2 tablespoons ground linseed/flaxseed

For the crackers:

50ml olive oil

80g rice flour

60g tapioca flour

15g muscovado sugar

6g sea salt

2 teaspoons of psyllium husk

1beaten egg, for glazing

extra sea salt for sprinkling

2 large baking sheets

Parchment paper


For the sponge, mix all the ingredients together in a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, until all combined together.

Cover and set aside at room temperature for 3 – 6 hours.

Now add the olive oil, rice flour, tapioca flour, sugar, salt and psyllium to the sponge mix and mix well.

Knead to a firm dough, adding a little water to bring it all together if it is a little crumbly.

Leave to rest for one hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 200C/Fan180C/Gas 6.

Break the dough into 3 or 4 pieces.

Place one piece on a sheet of parchment paper. Cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll out thinly – about the thickness of a penny. You can dust the dough and bottom sheet to help prevent from sticking.

Remove the top layer of parchment and place the dough and the bottom sheet of parchment onto a baking tray. Mark the dough into biscuits (or you can bake the sheet whole and break it into shards after it has been baked). Brush with beaten egg and sprinkle with sea salt.

Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until the crackers are crisp and golden. Check after about 8 minutes as it will depend on how thinly you have rolled the dough and also all ovens vary. Do keep an eye on them and check every few minutes.

Leave to cool. They do crisp up further as they cool down.

Repeat with all the remaining dough.

Store in airtight container and eat within a week or so.

Thank you to Naomi for this great recipe.

Gluten Free Baking Cookery Courses

Naomi runs gluten free baking courses at River Cottage, Dorset and also Otter Farm, Devon.  If you have seen the recent channel 4 Grand Designs episode  at Otter Farm with Mark Diacono – why not book a cookery course there?  You can learn some amazing GF baking skills with Naomi in the amazing kitchen “as seen on TV’!

I buy my vegetable seeds from Mark at Otter Farm and own both of his books too. He is my inspiration for developing a perennial vegetable garden sometime soon – much to John’s horror; he is not sure I have time to run a full size vegetable garden alongside the B&B and restaurant – I just say sleep is overrated – too many things to do and oh so little time …

Even so, I am definitely going to make sure I visit Otter Farm during 2017. I can enjoy another fabulous baking day or two with Naomi and to do it at Otter Farm would be perfect!

If you would like to know more about Naomi’s baking days at Otter Farm do click on this link. You can do all three days or any individual day.  Gluten free three day:

You can also book Naomi’s courses at River Cottage, Dorset directly via their website

For more of her baking recipes do take a look at her blog




Coconut & Apricot Granola

Coconut & apricot granola recipe

This granola is delicious not only as a breakfast cereal with milk but sprinkled over natural yogurt, fruit salad or poached fruit.

This has a much lower sugar content than most commercial granolas and also by using coconut oil it is far healthier.

Use guaranteed gluten free oats to make this a gluten free granola but do be aware some coeliacs cannot tolerate any oats so may not be able to eat any oat based granola.


3 tablespoons of coconut oil

250g rolled oats

50g desiccated coconut

50g dried apricots – cut into small pieces

50g sliced almonds

50g sunflower seeds

2 tablespoons of sesame seeds

1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup


  1. Heat the oven to 170c.
  2. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a big bowl.
  4. Add the maple syrup and vanilla extract into the coconut oil and whisk together thoroughly.
  5. Pour this over the dry ingredients and mix until it is all well covered.
  6. Line 2 baking trays with greaseproof paper and spread the mixture out on the trays.
  7. Bake for 5 minutes and then give it a stir.
  8. Put it back in the oven for another 5 minutes but do keep an eye on it as it can start to burn. I leave one half in a little longer then the other so half is nicely toasted but not burnt.
  9. Remove from oven and leave covered with clean tea towels to cool completely
  10. Transfer to an airtight jar or container. It should last for up to 4 weeks.


The taste of summer – Elderflower panna cotta

Elderflower panna cotta recipe

The elderflowers are going over and as I sit here writing this it looks more like March than June as it is pouring with rain and very grey outside. I have my fingers crossed for some lovely summer weather soon but in the meantime we can all enjoy the taste of summer even if the sun doesn’t appear! Here’s my recipe for elderflower panna cotta. This pudding is very much summer on a spoon to me; especially when eaten with beautiful English strawberries, which are at their very best during June.

Last summer I served this at Knife & Fork with a homemade strawberry jelly, fresh strawberry & mint salad & Prosecco cloud but at home I make it and serve it with fresh strawberries, raspberries or raspberry coulis on the side.  Slightly less formal but just as delicious.

Elderflower panna cotta recipe

Serves 8


300ml whole milk

500ml double cream

40g caster sugar

6 tablespoons of elderflower cordial *

5 sheets of gelatine

  1. Soak the gelatine sheets in a bowl of cold water for around 5 minutes – until it goes soft.
  2. Whilst the gelatine is rehydrating put the milk, cream, sugar and elderflower cordial into a saucepan. Place it on the hob and bring it up just to boil and then remove it from the heat.
  3. Squeeze out the water from the gelatine sheets and add them to the hot cream. Stir until they have dissolved. It’s OK to pop the pan back on the hob and heat it up a little if the gelatine doesn’t dissolve.
  4. Cover the pan with a clean tea towel and leave the mixture to cool to room temperature.
  5. Pour the mixture into 8 glasses or moulds such as ramekins.
  6. Chill in the fridge for at least 4 hours and preferably overnight until it is set.
  7. If you have made your panna cotta in moulds dip them into hot water very quickly and run a knife around the edge. Then turn it upside down onto the middle of a plate and give it a shake. It should come out of the mould and wobble on the plate!
  8. The easier option is to make panna cotta in a glass and it is ready to serve.

Here are a few photos of the panna cotta turned out of it’s mould and also served in a glass.

* I make my own elderflower cordial but you don’t need to. Shop bought cordial can be used instead.

Peanut Butter Fudge Truffle

Peanut Butter Fudge Truffle

At the moment I am serving peanut butter fudge truffles with the coffee and tea at Knife & Fork and the main reason is because I love them! Also, I trailed them one weekend and everyone else loved them too and since then many diners have asked me for the recipe.

Deciding what to put on the menu is one of the many things I enjoy about running my little home restaurant; usually it is based on what’s in season and what I fancy making and eating. But when it comes to petits fours, seasonality doesn’t really come into it and I go for the combinations that I love;  chocolate and orange for truffles, apricot & toasted almonds for marshmallows and so on to make a naughty nibble to round off the meal.


peanut fudge truffle

Any variety of peanut butter is fine by me but I do have to admit to liking the ‘cheap’ stuff made from peanuts and far too much added sugar and salt; it’s a childhood memory of peanut butter and jam sandwiches. I have, of course, become far more sophisticated over the years and I have moved onto almond butter and such like but good old Sunpat still has a place close to my heart and that is what I use in my peanut butter fudge truffles.

peanut truffle in glass

I am sure I will get round to substituting peanut butter for cashew or almond butter to make a slightly more sophisticated version one day. If anyone else has a go at this recipe and uses the posh stuff please let me know what they are like.

Peanut Butter Fudge Truffle Recipe

Makes approx 25


397g condensed milk

(or 250g ready bought caramel sauce such as Carnation caramel/dulce de leche – if using go straight to point 6)

170g smooth peanut butter

100g dark chocolate


  1. Pour the condensed milk into a glass Pyrex dish. Cover tightly with foil.
  2. Put this dish into a larger roasting tin and fill the outer tin with hot water so it comes to half way up the sides of Pyrex dish.
  3. Bake in the oven at 220c for 1 to 1 ¼ hours. Keep an eye on it and add more water if necessary – it will depend on the size of the outer container.
  4. Once the condensed milk is brown and caramelised let it cool.
  5. Once cooled – whisk it until it is nice and smooth. It is best to do all of the above a day before.
  6. Mix the condensed milk mixture or bought caramel, whichever you are using with the peanut butter in an electric mixer until all mixed together.
  7. Line a high-sided baking tray (a tray-bake tray is good) with cling film.
  8. Pour the mixture into the tin, level the top and pop it in the fridge for about two hours until set.
  9. Once set, take pieces of the mixture and roll into equal sized balls – you should be able to make about 25. Place on a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper and put in the freezer for an hour. This will make dipping the balls in chocolate much easier.
  10. Break the chocolate into a glass bowl and place it over a saucepan of hot water on a medium heat. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl or get into the bowl.
  11. Leave until the chocolate has melted.
  12. Take the peanut/caramel balls out of the freezer and dip them in the chocolate. I use two teaspoons to cover them and pick them back out of the chocolate.
  13. Place them back on the tray and once they are all covered put them in the fridge.
  14. Once set I transfer them to an airtight container and they will keep for 3 days – not that they last that long here!

I’ve decorated mine by sprinkling pralines over the top.







Gluten Free chocolate brownies



As many people know I am actually a coeliac and have to follow a gluten free diet for medical reasons, which most people think must be really restrictive for me as a chef.  I actually think it makes me far more creative as I love food and only want to eat something if it is at least a 8/10 – anything that scores below that is a waste of calories!

Rather than trying to emulate a ‘normal’ diet containing gluten, which I find produces a lot of inferior dishes I take my inspiration from dishes and cuisines that are naturally gluten free.  I then have a few very good, tried and tested recipes so I can have my cake/pudding/bread/cracker fix every once in awhile.

My gluten free recipe is actually my original brownie recipe, which happened to work when I  substituted gluten free flour.  This is not often the case when it comes to cakes etc but I was very pleased to find it worked as this is a fab recipe.

I think the secret to making great brownies is all to do with timing but unfortunately every oven is different so it is tricky to give an exact cooking time. But, the good news is you are looking for an undercooked cake so just check it before you think it will be cooked and follow the instructions below:

Stick a skewer in the brownies -you want the skewer to have some sticky cake mix on it – not too much though – thats just uncooked.  You do not want it to come out clean as you would if you were baking a cake – it’s the opposite for brownies. You want them to be nearly cooked!

At this point take them out of the oven and leave them to cool completely in the tin (overnight if possible). You should be able to cut them easily but they should still be quite soft and moist in the middle.

It might take a bit of practise to perfect them and know the cooking time in your oven but eating imperfect brownies has never been a problem in our house!

Also, they freeze really well and I was in serious need of a brownie fix one day and discovered they could be eaten whilst frozen – mmm, maybe I shouldn’t admit that …




To make them non gluten free – just substitute plain flour!


100g Plain chocolate finely chopped

125g butter – room temperature

275g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 beaten eggs

85g gluten free plain flour (I use Dove)

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

pinch of salt

20cm square greased and lined tin



  1. Melt the chocolate and leave to cool.
  2. Beat butter until soft and creamy, add sugar, vanilla and beat until soft and fluffy.
  3. Beat in the eggs.
  4. Sift flour, cocoa and salt into the mixture and then the melted chocolate. Stir until thoroughly blended.
  5. Pour into the tin and level off.
  6. Bake at 180c for about 30 – 35 mings.
  7. Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Sweet potato, coconut & Chicken soup and the SAS

soup bowl large

I love this time of year, as the nights start to draw in and the weather gets colder; I start thinking up soup recipes or remembering old favourites that we haven’t eaten for a while. I just love soup – eating it and making it; it’s so easy to make and you get a disproportionate return on your effort, which is a result in my mind.

This recipe is a family favourite and also one I often put on my menu for my pop up home restaurant Knife & Fork. It was on the menu this week and it got lots of compliments and requests for the recipe so I said I would blog it for everyone. Some people don’t like to give their recipes away and like to keep them secret but personally I am very happy to share and I take it as a huge compliment if someone wants one of my recipes. I am very shallow – I do like a compliment!

soup small and veg background

I also find that when I chat to my guests many people think they can’t cook or they don’t like cooking, which is such a shame when they obviously love food. Unfortunately cooking is one of those skills (a bit like parenting?!) where we are all somehow are meant to ‘just know’ how to do it. Why? Most people can drive a car, which is far more complicated, but that’s because they’ve been taught how. If you have never been taught a few cookery basics how can you know what to do? And I do believe a few skills go a very long way and transform your food and your stress levels!

When my children were getting ready to go off to university everyone kept saying to me “Oh, I bet you’ve taught them how to cook loads of recipes” and the answer was “no”. I didn’t teach them how to cook recipes as I worked on the basis they could read – I taught them that a few years previously! What I did do was teach them a few very simple cooking skills so they could follow recipes and get results. There is nothing worse than reading a recipe and being completely confused and made to feel inadequate just because you don’t know what the terms mean. Like any skill there is vocabulary to go with it and it’s not helped when half of it is in French! Another skill we Brits are not good at – learning a foreign language.

soup ingres close up  aromats

The problem is then compounded when inadvertently you haven’t actually followed the instructions properly because you don’t know what they mean. All that time and effort and you are left with something that makes road kill look tasty. And, of course, there is always the added problem that it wasn’t you at all – some recipes don’t actually work but without a certain level of knowledge you can’t read it and know that…

With all the cooking/baking programmes and chefs being TV stars I think it has made people even more paranoid about their cooking abilities rather than encouraging them to give it a go. Cooking is becoming a spectator sport, which is dreadful as we all need to eat at least twice a day if not three times or more?

I am not suggesting, of course, that everyone should be as obsessed as me – I do realise that I am not ‘normal’. When I am not cooking, eating or reading or talking about food, I can usually be found watching it. I confess – it is my obsession and has been since my mid teens. But I do excuse myself by trying to convince everyone around me that it is actually work/research and so on!

However, I do think that the veil of mystery and magic surrounding cooking needs to be lifted. Yes, I am a qualified chef but I started cooking in my teens so I had a lot of practice before I went off and trained just 18 months ago; it was a lifetime dream to learn the secrets of the trade and also have an excuse to cook for 8 hours a day, five days a week – my idea of heaven but I appreciate it would be most people’s idea of hell.

The biggest ‘secret’ was the same as it is for all skills – do the basics really well. I once asked an SAS officer what made the SAS so exceptional and he said “we concentrate on and perfect basic soldiering skills and we do them really well”. I have to admit I was a bit disappointed by his reply as it wasn’t very exciting but I didn’t argue with him as he’s a lot bigger than me!

I am pretty sure if you asked Raymond Blanc, Michael Caines, Nathan Outlaw or James Martin (a few of my favourites) the same question they would not spout on about spherification and all things molecular or talk about ‘deconstructing’ anything – they would talk about knife skills and how the simplest food is the hardest to perfect. In cookery so often less really is more. But showing someone how to chop an onion does not make great TV.

soup - small crisps sweet pot

So, back to soup – no fancy equipment required apart from some form of blender, which is essential if you want to be a soup maker. I use a stick blender as it cuts down the washing up as you can blend it in the pan – result. You can also pick one up pretty cheaply; I bought my children one each for university and I think it was a budget range item from a supermarket.

You then just need a sharp knife and chopping board – I do joke that a sharp knife and a pile of carrots is therapy for me. I’m not fussy what the vegetable is so here we have a few different ones but it’s still therapy as I chop and sing along to the radio. Not so therapeutic for anyone in earshot but hey, they get to eat the soup and I didn’t say this was paradise!

My top tip of the day is simply to cut the vegetables approximately the same size (with practice you will actually be quicker than cutting them in random sizes) so they will all be cooked at the same time. That way you avoid getting burnt bits alongside a raw lump of onion for instance – not nice and it won’t improve the taste.

Gather all your ingredients and equipment together and turn the radio on – it’s therapy time!

Sweet potato and coconut soup

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

2 carrots – peeled & sliced

2 or 3 celery stalks – sliced

2 onions – chopped

1 red chilli – finely chopped

1 inch piece of ginger – finely chopped

3 cloves of garlic – finely chopped

1.25 litres water

3 large sweet potatoes – peel and cut into cubes of equal size

2 chicken breasts

1 tablespoon chopped coriander

3 or 4 spring onions – finely sliced

soy sauce to taste

400g tin of coconut milk

  1. Heat the coconut oil in a large saucepan and add all the vegetables (apart from the sweet potato) including chillies, garlic and ginger. Cook on a medium heat so they soften but do not colour. This should take about 5 to 10 minutes.
  1. Add the cubed sweet potato and water (I use water but you could add a chicken stock cube to it).
  1. Bring to boil and simmer until potato is cooked. This doesn’t take very long – perhaps 10 to 15 minutes.
  1. Blend the soup until smooth using a stick blender or in a food processor/blender and put it back into saucepan.
  1. Thinly slice the chicken into strips (as if you were going to use it for a stir fry) and add to soup and simmer until the chicken in cooked. This will only take a few minutes.
  1. Add the coconut milk and heat through.
  1. Serve with coriander & spring onions on top and soy sauce to taste.


Gluten Free

Use gluten free soy sauce and don’t use a stock cube unless you know it’s gluten free too. If you don’t have GF soy sauce use Thai fish sauce to season or just salt & pepper

Dairy Free

It is dairy free as long as you use another oil not butter instead of coconut oil as stated in the recipe.


Don’t put the chicken in it and use a vegetarian stock cube or just water.


Chocolates or Marshmallow? Raspberry & pistachio marshmallow recipe

marshmallow close up 1

I struggle with the term ‘petits fours’; I really dislike it & all those other terms used for dining such as amuse bouche and canapé – it all sounds very formal & terribly 70’s to me!

It just doesn’t convey the relaxed way I like to enjoy food or the atmosphere at Knife & Fork – but I can’t think of a better way of describing that little sweet treat at the end of a meal.

Whatever they are described as, I am always amazed how, after a large meal, I can still squeeze in just one more bite (or two…) with my coffee. A perfect end to a good meal & the sweeter the better! But having always thought you can’t go wrong with something chocolatey I am now undecided having made raspberry & pistachio marshmallows and served them last week – I am now not sure. They went down a storm – everyone loved them, even those who thought they didn’t like marshmallows; one guest describing them as “soft puffs of marshmallow heaven”.

I have served mini raspberry meringue pies (bit of a raspberry theme going on here), chocolate florentines, mini treacle tarts & marshmallows amongst other things but I do keep coming back to the good old favourite – truffles; in many guises admittedly, chocolate orange, mocha, chocolate & hazelnut, white chocolate or just plain simple dark chocolate ones. All have been enjoyed but the marshmallows now have me wondering – are marshmallows the new ‘truffle’?

Truffle (13 of 14)

We can all enjoy chocolate everyday but there is something about a homemade chocolate truffle – but does the homemade marshmallow beat it? Or is it just a new trend that will fade?

Plate (13 of 20)

Here’s my recipe for raspberry & pistachio marshmallows. You do need a thermometer (a jam thermometer will do) but don’t be put off – they are very easy to make assuming you have a food mixer of some description. No doubt everyone has one thanks to Mary Berry and The Great British Bake Off – it starts this Wednesday (can’t wait); when I am not cooking I relax by watching others doing it instead!

This is the recipe I use. I’ve used others but this one seems to give consistent and very good results. It originates from a James Martin recipe – I did not think this one up think but I have adapted it.

Raspberry & Pistachio Marshmallow Recipe



  • 455g granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp liquid glucose
  • 200ml water
  • 2 large free-range egg whites
  • 9 sheets gelatine soaked in 140ml water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • icing sugar for dusting and coating
  • cornflour for dusting and coating
  • 125g pistachio nuts
  • 125g fresh raspberries
  1. Pre- heat oven to 180C. Place the nuts on a baking tray & place in oven for approx. 5-8 minutes until they are toasted. Do keep an eye on them though as they do brown suddenly and it is very easy to burn them. Once they are lightly browned take them out and leave them to cool. Once cooled chop roughly and leave to one side.
  1. Place the sugar, glucose & water in a heavy-based pan. Bring to the boil and continue cooking over a high heat until it reaches 127C on a sugar/jam thermometer – take care as the mixture is very hot.
  1. Meanwhile, beat the egg whites with an electric whisk until stiff peaks form when the whisk is removed.
  1. When the syrup is up to temperature, remove from the heat & carefully slide in the softened gelatine sheets and their soaking water.
  1. Continue to beat the egg whites while slowly pouring in the hot syrup. The mixture will become shiny & start to thicken. Add the vanilla extract and continue whisking for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture is stiff and thick enough to hold its shape on the whisk.
  1. Lightly oil a 30cm x 20cm shallow baking tray. Dust the tray with sieved icing sugar & cornflour & then spoon half the marshmallow mixture over & smooth it with a wet palette knife.
  1. Coat the raspberries with a mixture of icing sugar & cornflour, & lay over the top of the marshmallow mixture. Sprinkle the chopped pistachio nuts over the top them. Cover the raspberries & the nuts with the remaining marshmallow mixture & leave for at least an hour to set.
  1. Dust a work surface with more icing sugar & cornflour. Loosen the marshmallow around the sides of the tray with a palette knife & turn it out on to the dusted surface. Cut into squares & roll in the sugar & cornflour.
  1. Leave to dry a little on a wire rack before packing into an airtight box. I store mine in the fridge



Dressing up and dressing down

It was “pop up” night last Saturday and because of the sudden heat wave I decided I would go all out for ‘summer eating’.

gleneagles chicken plate

Gleneagles Chicken family style

I decided to base the main course around a delicious smoked paprika marinade known as “Gleneagles” in our house but not after a stay at the famous golf course & hotel with resident chef Andrew Fairlie & his two Michelin Stars. My 14 night ‘Gleneagles’ experience was in a much hotter and sunnier climate than Scotland.  I am sure if I had told my diners beforehand that it was actually inspired by hospital food, they would have quietly found excuses to cancel their reservations, which is why I am only now exposing my food sources!

So for all of those present on Saturday evening – yes the pork dish was inspired by a 14 day stay in The Gleneagles Hospital, Singapore! As a coeliac, when I was admitted to hospital with a pulmonary embolism, the chef visited me to ensure I would be properly fed because of coeliac disease as well as the PE. I had eaten a delicious chicken dish that day and for ease and to avoid adding to my problems with accidental gluten poisoning I said I was very happy to eat that dish twice a day every day – that’s how good it was – and that’s what I did!

gleneagles chicken

Gleneagles family style


It was actually so good when I was finally well again I played around until I was happy with my own version and I have been making it ever since. That’s what I love about cooking – it’s all about ingredients, flavours and being creative. I don’t buy into food trends and what’s in fashion.  If something tastes good I want to eat it regardless of whether or not it is “on trend”.   Even if I get my inspiration from hospital food?!

So, on Saturday evening as part of my five course taster menu I prepared pork tenderloin with the Gleneagles marinade, roasted it and then served it with a red pepper coulis, chargrilled courgettes and a warm broad bean and radish salad. But come Sunday when I was feeding the family it was a far more relaxed affair; I used the same marinade on chicken thighs and roasted them in the time it took me to throw a salad together and boil some new potatoes. The sort of fast food I love.


strawberry parma ham salad in bowl

Summer salad with strawberries, parma ham, red onion and cucumber

Which just goes to show if you’ve got a favourite recipe, with a bit of thought you can dress it up or down to suit the occasion.

So, here is my recipe for Gleneagles marinade – perhaps not quite hospital food after all!

Gleneagles Marinade

1 tablespoon of sweet smoked paprika

1 teaspoon Maldon sea salt

1 teaspoon of ground black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder (not garlic salt)

½ teaspoon dried oregano

3 tablespoons olive oil

8 boned chicken thighs – skinned

  1. Mix all the dry ingredients together (not the chicken) and then stir in the oil.
  2. Add the chicken thighs and rub the marinade into the meat and leave to marinade for 20 minutes or overnight in the fridge.
  3. Pre heat the oven to 200c.
  4. Put the chicken pieces into a roasting tin and roast for ten minutes or until the chicken is cooked; this will depend on the size of the chicken pieces.
  5. Garnish with chopped coriander, spring onions and finely diced red chilli if you like a bit of spice!

A really useful marinade – I make up a whole batch of the dry ingredients and keep it in a jar in my spice cupboard; that way I always have some to hand.

I skin the thighs so more of the marinade flavours gets into the meat.

You could use thighs on the bone – – it will just take longer to cook.

I have said use Maldon sea salt as that’s what I use; as it comes in flakes a teaspoon is a lot less salt compared to fine table salt.  If using a fine salt add it according to taste – I would not recommend a teaspoon!




Elderflowers and summer



Elderflowers and summer


It’s that lovely time of year when the elderflowers are out and at the moment, anyway, the sun is out too!

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Training at chef school

There are just so many stories to tell from chef school – we had an incredible time.

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