Black pudding and sausage pasta




This is a richly satisfying, luxurious pasta dish and a great way to eat the mighty black pudding. I adore the stuff. It goes well with the pasta and the sausages and looks velvety dark on the plate. Be bold and brave – give it a go as soon as possible!

You will be glad you did!


2 tbsps Olive oil
4 Italian fresh pork sausages, meat removed from skins and crumbled (if you can’t get them easily – just use good quality pork sausages)
100 gm of a good black pudding sliced
1 small  onion peeled and chopped.
Good pinch of dried red chillies
2 bay leaves
Small handful of fresh rosemary or tbsp of dried
Half a glass of red wine
500 gm passata
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
500 gm rigatoni

Parmesan to serve


Heat the oil in a large pan, and fry the sausage meat, stirring and breaking up the pieces.
After the juice from the meat has evaporated and the fat begins to run, add the onion, garlic, chilli, rosemary bay leaves and a little grind of sea salt and black pepper.

Cook gently for almost 30 mins until the onions are browning. Add the black pudding. Stir for about five minutes to let the black pudding cook and crumble slightly with the sausage mixture.

Pour in the wine, increase the heat and cook until the wine evaporates. Now add the passata, lower the heat, and simmer gently for about 30 minutes.

Cook the pasta and  drain well. Add the pasta back to its pan and stir in the sauce mix then serve to a hushed reverence!

Morcilla Puttanesca…hot stuff


Morcilla stuff

Tonight was a time for a store cupboard piece of magic. And it happened. We all fancied something with bite, something with a kick…but the cupboards seemed bare. So…imagination kicked in…ingenuity….and I came up with this dish…which I will definitely make again.

For 4

Half a black pudding
400gm tin chopped tomatoes
1 red chilli, deseeded and chopped
Pinch of dried chilli seeds
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
1 red pepper cut into strips
2 slices smoked bacon cut into small pieces
Small bunch of coriander chopped
Mix of borlotti beans, cannellini beans, kidney beans
Olive oil

In a wok, heat the olive oil and add the red pepper and garlic. Fry for about 2 minutes then add the red chilli, chill seeds and the bacon. Fry for a further 4 to 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, beans and coriander. Simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce is nice and thick. Pan fry separately the black pudding and then crumble into the sauce.

Serve with steamed saffron rice. This is a winner of a dish. Simple, fragrant, tasty and rich. And cheap too!

My perfect late night snack…


My perfect late night snack...

Just a quick post as I did not want this one to escape…I popped all this perfection into a pan the other night when I came home late famished and in need of instant sustenance. A little butter and olive oil into the pan and a cored and sliced apple – pan fried for five minutes then I added slices of black gold – black pudding – possibly one of my oldest comfort foods – I was eating this when I was 8 or 9 years old and it still brings back so many good memories of eating with my parents. I am sure this is a dish everyone does now and then – but if not – you must – served on a plate with a dash of dijon mustard it is paradise on a plate.

Best laid plans of mice and butchers….


Best laid plans of mice and butchers....

Ok…where was I? Tuesday I went shopping for the rest of the week’s meals and went to a mighty fine establishment in Windermere called Booth’s. Normally, it stocks a fine range of food, especially the butchers…but my plans went awry when I heard the butcher say in a rather too casual way for my liking, ‘sorry, we have no pork tenderloin.’ That scuppered Wednesday’s fare. And it got worse….they no longer stock ham shanks…the reason was fairly bizarre but seemed to be along the lines that they did not keep long enough. I was left speechless. I have never heard such a ridiculous  excuse for not having an item! Hey ho! So, I had to alter Tuesday’s meal, which is what you see part compiled above – here are the ingredients for 4 – see May 9th for recipe.

60 gm of lardons or cubed smoky bacon – or pancetta even
340 gm Puy lentils – or any green ones if not
Some chopped fresh rosemary but you’d be fine with dried
A large red onion chopped finely – or white if no reds handy!
2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
800 ml of chicken stock
red wine vinegar
olive oil

I used a kilo of lentils for 15 of us and 3 litres of stock. I also added to the pan for the last half an hour – a small smoked gammon joint cut into cubes (I had boiled it gently for an hour beforehand), 12 fabulous pork and black pudding sausages pan fried and cut in half – the butcher partly salvaged his reputation here, they were fabulous – chorizo sausage sliced and pan fried, and several slices of pan fried pork belly cut into bite sized chunks. I served it with copious baskets of rustic bread and ficelles. And it all disappeared! I had served a large garden mushroom to each person as a starter baked in the oven with fresh oregano, garlic and butter on a bed of salad leaves. We finished off with pan fried nectarines in brandy with cream.

Last night we had meatballs and pasta – I got up early and made 70 or so of them – beef mince with cumin, rosemary and thyme and some dried crushed chilli. We went for a stonkingly long walk yesterday to Blea Tarn– well it felt like forever – it was only 3 miles there and back – but as it rained most of the way there it took the edge of it a tad. I felt like Noah who realised he forgot to anchor the ark down. I did dry out on the way back though and I also got to the pub by 6pm for an hour before cooking. So all was dandy in the end.

Tonight it is salmon steaks with a lime and mayo sauce and salted crushed new potatoes. And for those of you who are interested sufficiently to scroll further, here are a few more pics, including the house we are residing in for the week. Keep well!

IMG_4088Birch House…sleeps 15 and comfortably too!

IMG_4080Blea Tarn arising from the mist and rain…

IMG_0583The younger members of our group! My two are far left and 3rd from the left….

IMG_4066Little Langdale….saw kites several times sweeping overhead.

IMG_4071Canopy of forest up by the tarn where we took shelter and had a soggy picnic!

Pudding on the style…a great start to a Sunday…


Pudding on the style...a great start to a Sunday...

Being Lancastrian by birth, black pudding is in my DNA. I have tasted many varieties from our own northern prize winning Bury Black pudding to plasticky almost inedible supermarket varieties to the fabulously sexy morcilla of my beloved Spain. But I have now come across one to rival the best – made by Clonakilty from Ireland. It is a stunner – a real mouthful of bp heaven. It is unctuous, a word I know I use a lot – but I love it and it was. And it awakens tastebuds in a way that leaves you thinking – hmmm…I’m in black pud paradise! I cannot recommend it highly enough if you are a fan of such fare – and if you are not, then you should be…and you will be if you give this baby a go. With a once in a blue moon fried egg (I’m more of a poached man – but somehow it just felt right this dank, drear morn to fry the free range meal in a shell) this was a fine way to start the day.

Oh…and as the plate said….it did all melt in the mouth!

Bits and bobs May round up….aubergines, Noah, rhubarb and Eggs Warhol…etc!


Bits and bobs May round up....

Well. you can tell it is half term because I am eating breakfast! And so far, despite the Noah style rainfall yesterday, it has been very pleasant thank you for asking. This is a sort of catch all post – I have been experimenting a little and eating out a little and shopping a lot. Ok…this pic


is this morning’s breakfast. It scores little, if anything, on looks… I agree…but the flavour was bang spot on.
2 eggs lightly scrambled with a slice of black pudding pan fried and then crumbled through the egg mix midway through scrambling. It mellows out the pud flavour and is immensely filling in a nice way! Anyway – there you go – it had a sort of Andy Warhol look – a good name maybe for it – Eggs Warhol.

At the weekend I marinated slashed chicken thighs in sloe gin, slivers of garlic and bay leaves for an hour. Then roasted them for about 40 minutes til crisping.


I served them with courgettes oven baked ( I had pan fried them lightly first) with snowfalls of parmesan, drizzles of olive oil, garlic and a handful of Greek Basil – I love those gorgeously aromatic tiny leaves. Oh and I also did Jersey Royal new potatoes in butter and coriander on the side too. Got to make the most of these beauties whilst they visit!

Popped into Morrison’s near Basingstoke – as it is to me – one of-if not the best – supermarkets in this whole area. Nearest I have been to a French or Spanish affair. The veg counter is a work of art and has a huge variety of veg not normally seen anywhere unless you live in Brixton or some other marvellously multi-cultural spot. Everything from these gorgeous Graffiti Aubergines at the top of the page, to eddoes, fresh turmeric rhizomes, several different varieties of chard, cassava, different gourd, about 10 different types of chillies, elephant and rose garlic, hundreds of fresh herbs – all being sprayed gently with cold air. All fresh – nothing in plastic bags! The fruit counter is equally as fascinating – plus they have a phenomenal fish counter and a butchery populated by guys who are ACTUALLY butchers and know what they are talking about! If you have to shop in a supermarket then this slice of paradise is it.


Right, enough sales talk – and I won’t even get commission!

Yesterday’s lunch was lemon sole in lemon beurre blanc sauce with spinach and new pots- again!

Not a great shot of it this – does not do it justice – still…


Last night’s supper was a version of a Keith Floyd dish that I only seem to ever cook about once a year but I love it – it is simple and has a sort of Turkish / Greek feel to it.

He just calls it Minced Beef and Spinach – but I often miss out the spinach and I also like using minced lamb, which I did last night. Being someone who can’t just follow a recipe – I have to fiddle. But is that not what it is all about?

Anyway – I did. Fiddle on!


3 spring onions finely chopped
12 okra trimmed
2 cloves of garlic chopped
1 tbsp smoked paprika
500 gm minced lamb
1 cinnamon stick
1 chopped and deseeded red chilli – or you could use dried chilli flakes
2 large tomatoes deseeded and sliced
basmati rice

Stir fry the okra, onions and half the garlic for about 2 minutes in olive oil. Set to one side.

Next, in a mix of butter and olive oil, fry the minced lamb for about 5 minutes. Then add the cinnamon stick, the paprika and the rest of the garlic plus the chilli. Sprinkle in some black pepper too and a grind or two of sea salt.

I add a splash, no more of water, once the lamb is browned ( If you chose to add fresh spinach – about a half a kilo – at this point – no need for the water.)

Add in the tomatoes and the okra, onion mix. Continue to cook – it will be about 30 minutes in all. Adjust the seasoning to taste.


I then cooked basmati rice – enough for 4 – and stirred it into the lamb dish. You could serve it separately if you wish with some plain yoghurt – I like the buttery texture of stirring it all together though.


Simple and summery and perfect for supper. Right – out now to pick some rhubarb as the Ark appears to have docked for a while and the sun is considering making an appearance.

English: depiction of Noah's ark landing on th...

English: depiction of Noah’s ark landing on the “mountains of Ararat” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Now there’s a surprise from Nigel….


Now there's a surprise from Nigel....

I am very fortunate to have the mighty and magnificent Nigel Slater following me on Twitter – I was chatting with him this morning re my breakfast – see previous piece – when he replied as above – and he does not like eggs! How about that! But he did like my photo which made me feel ten foot tall…but clearly can’t tempt him with an oeuf of any kind. But he is a black pud guy which is ok with me – and he did remind me later of his excellent recipe in Kitchen Diaries Volume 2 P 146 (if you have not got this for goodness sake why not – go and buy it now! ) for black pudding in pastry with a mustard sauce. It looks and sounds fab. Right – that’s enough twittering from me for a while. Off to enjoy bank holiday Monday. Out for lunch – then back home to experiment with home grown rhubarb and strawberry vodka for dessert this evening!

Loving Black Pudding….


Loving Black pudding....

This is on here for no other reason than my breakfast this morning was delicious and a firm favourite of mine!

A slice of pan fried Bury black pudding on rye bread topped with a poached egg.

Breakfast does not get much better than this!

Top Tapas Types and Tips…and an Olé to Olives!


 “Eat when you drink, drink when you eat” is the Spanish philosophy. Spanish men traditionally drink outside the home and rarely alone. Tapas are not meant to be a meal (although a racion is a substantial portion). One tapa per person and a different one with each drink is the idea, then everyone enjoys tasting and sharing. Tapas food is real food – good local ingredients presented with flair. I adore morcilla, a Spanish version of black pudding (and being Lancastrian by birth black pudding is in my DNA !), frequently served as a tapa. The morcilla of Burgos is the most renowned. I love wafer like slithers of manchego cheese served in a little olive oil, cubes of tortilla, patatas bravas, pan fried chorizo, slices of bread rubbed with tomato with a slice of serrano ham on top, garlicky prawns. Where ever you go there are different ideas and combinations; they are never boring. The name changes from region to region. Montaditos, pinchos (pintxos in Basque), banderillas, raciones, cazuelitas, pulguitas – all are variations on the same theme.  Chiefly though, there are three main types according to how easy they are to eat: cosas de picar, pinchos and cazuelas. Cosas de picar – meaning ‘things to nibble’ basically refers to finger food- in other words anything that can be easily picked up with fingers and thumb alone.


(above) Ornate ceiling of a favourite tapas bar in Barcelona…

The supreme example of this is I guess, the mighty olive. They are so Spanish. They even look Spanish! Spain offers the punter an estimated 260 different varieties of olive, from the shimmering olive groves that spread over a considerable sweep of the country. While many of these varieties are grown for olive oil there is still a huge selection grown for the table, to be enjoyed as plain black or green olives or stuffed with a variety of tasty fillings as part of a tapas selection. Here are the key varieties that you will come across.

The Manzanilla olive is perhaps one of the best known Spanish olives. From the small town in Andalusia also famed for its sherry, this is a juicy green olive that is often pitted and stuffed with anchovies, pimento or garlic. This is also the olive most often used in martinis.

The Arbequina olive is a small earthy green olive grown predominantly in Catalonia with a delicate, mild, smoky flavour, very popular as a table olive. Then we have the Empeltre olive – a medium sized Spanish olive of a purplish black colour and elongated shape. It is often served soaked in sherry as a special tapas dish. It is also a popular olive for making a black olive spread (tapenade) with a wonderful deep flavour.

The Sevillano or Queen olive has large, plump, round fruit. It is mostly grown for the table rather than for oil and is generally brine cured and stuffed with a variety of fillings.

The Picual olive tree is the predominant variety for olive oil production in many areas of Southern Spain. The large black olives of the younger trees are excellent for curing as table olives with a peppery, firm flesh.

The Hojiblanca olive is mostly used for oil, but has an intense flavour as a table olive, with fruity and peppery overtones and a hint of nuttiness.

The Picolimon olive is round and juicy with a fresh citrus flavour that goes well with many other foods and is great in salads.

The Verdial olive is a large dark olive with a robust flavour, perfect for olive lovers who like a full spicy taste. These are just a very few of the amazing types on offer.

Today Spain is the world’s biggest producer of olives and olive oil, with vast swathes of olive groves spreading over southern Spain, especially Andalusia. It was the Phoenicians who first brought the olive tree to Spain, but the Ancient Romans are credited with establishing vast farms of olives, often owned by absentee landlords who lived back in Rome. Although Italy produced its own olives, the Romans relied on Spain as a major supplier of olive oil to the Empire. The Moorish invasion of Spain in the 8th century AD developed and sustained the olive industry in Southern Spain, as it declined in many other parts of the former Roman Empire, introducing new varieties and production methods. 800 years later when the last of the Moors left Spain and it was ruled by Catholic kings, a taste for olive oil was considered to indicate suspicious sympathies for the old regime and believe it or not, lard was re-established as the principle cooking fat in all but the southern regions of Spain. As a Mancunian raised with lard in his diet I can only admire the idea, but today, give me olive oil every time!


(above) A favourite tapas bar of ours in Zaragoza…