Tuesday 31 May 2016

Garlic Scape Pesto Pasta

Something I have been meaning to try for a long time now is a garlic scape. Scapes are the stalk and flower head of a garlic plant that growers chop off so the plant concentrates its efforts on growing the bulb instead of flowers. Cook them a bit like asparagus and they are delicious on their own but the internet is full of recipes for scape pesto so I just had to give it a go, especially as the Little Larry's love pesto. We had some parmesan cheese leftover in the fridge and some chickpeas so it all went in the food processor with a few additional ingredients and this is what we ended up with.


Pasta of choice
Parmesan cheese, 25g grated for the pesto with a bit left over to shave for topping
Chickpeas, half a tin
Basil leaves, a good handful
Flat leaf parsley, another good handful, leaves separated from stalks. Stalks are for the pesto, leaves for the garnish.
1/2 Lemon juice
3x Garlic scapes, chopped up
1/5 tbsp Cold pressed rape seed oil
Good pinch of salt and pepper


1. Cook the pasta as per packet instructions
2. To make the pesto simply bung all the remaining ingredients into a food processor and whiz it up.
3. When the pasta is cooked drain it but leave a little bit of water in the bottom of the pan. Mix through a good spoonful of the pesto then plate up. Top with parmesan shavings, parsley leaves, a dribble of rapeseed oil, some cracked black pepper and sea salt.

Garlic Scapes courtesy of The Garlic Farm

Isle of Wight Garlic Soup

I first experienced Spanish garlic soup at The Trinidad restaurant near Arboleas in Spain and I was amazed at its simplicity yet deliciousness. The fact that it had a poached egg in just made it even better, I had never seen anything like it before and I loved it. This version uses three types of Isle of Wight garlic, being the cloves, the scapes and fermented black garlic, however you can simply use plain old white garlic from the supermarket instead.

(serves 2)

4x Large cloves of garlic
2x Garlic scapes, thinly sliced
2x Cloves of black garlic, finely diced
2x Eggs
2x Thick slices of bread, for croutons
50g Chorizo, diced
700ml Chicken stock, hot
1tbsp Plain flour
1tbsp Parsley stalks, finely diced
Parsley leaves to garnish
Rapeseed oil
Black pepper
White vinegar to poach the eggs


1. Cut the bread into 1" cubes, place on a baking try and drizzle with oil. Bake on gas mark 6 for about 10-15 minutes until browned.
2. In a saucepan gently fry in oil the garlic cloves and chorizo for about 2 minutes.
3. Add the flour and cook for another 2 minutes, stirring all the time.
4. Pour in a little of the stock to dissolve the flour then pour the rest in and stir well.
5. Now chuck in the parsley stalks and allow to simmer.
6. Bring a separate pan 2/3rds full of water to just bubbling then pour in a good glug of vinegar and pop your eggs in to poach.
7. Now add your scapes to the soup and season if needed with salt and black pepper.
8. When the eggs are done (about 3 mins) plate up. Pour the soup into bowls, top with the croutons and poached egg then garnish with the parsley leaves, black garlic and a few drops of nice oil.

Tip: Use the leftover vinegar from your pickled eggs for poaching, it works a treat.

Monday 30 May 2016

Tomato Caprese

A typical tomato caprese consists of sliced tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil leaves and olive oil. The Isle of Wight is well known for growing good tomatoes so this is my IoW version using Isle of Wight soft cheese instead of mozzarella, British cold pressed rapeseed oil instead of olive oil, and I'm adding a spot of The Garlic Farm black garlic. As this holiday is all about garlic I steeped a clove of garlic in the rapeseed oil for half an hour beforehand, just to add an extra garlic kick.


Tomatoes (the bigger the better)
Soft cheese, sliced
Basil leaves, whole
Black garlic cloves, sliced
Cold pressed rapeseed oil, 1 tbsp
Small clove of garlic, snapped in half (optional)
Sea salt (I used the black stuff)


1. Steep the garlic clove in the oil for about half an hour.
2. Slice everything up and plate up.
3. Pour the garlic oil over the salad then sprinkle over the sea salt.

Now just pick up a piece of each ingredient between your thumb and forefinger and shove the lot in your mouth. Yum!

Tomato Soup

It is very easy to warm up a can of tomato soup in the caravan but why not try making your own. The vibrancy of the colour is a feast for your eyes, the alluring aroma tantalizes your taste buds and then, finally, that oh so fresh taste satisfies you in a way no tin of soup ever could.

As we were on the Isle of Wight, where arguably the best British tomatoes come from, we just had to make tomato soup (with maybe just a little bit of IoW garlic in it too). Little Larry and I made this one together as he loves tomato soup, it's such an easy recipe to get kids cooking and understanding the flavours that go into their food.


8x Tomatoes, quartered
1x Celery stick, chopeed
1x Small red onion, roughly chopped
1x Carrot, peeled and sliced
1x Garlic clove, crushed
1x Fresh basil stem
2tbsp Tomato puree
1tbsp Flour
700ml Hot water
1x Vegetable stock cube (or bouillon)
1/2 Lemon, juiced


1. In a saucepan gentle fry the onion until it is translucent.
2. Add the carrot, celery and garlic to the pan and stir well.
3. Add the tomato puree, stir well and cook for a minute.
4. Chop up the parsley stalk but retain the leaves. Chuck the chopped stalk into the pan.
5. In goes the flour, stir and cook for a minute.
6. Pour in about a quarter of the water.
7. Tomatoes time, in they go.
8. Pour in the rest of the water.
9. Crumble in the stock then simmer with a lid on for about 1 hour.
10. Whiz it all up with a hand blender then pass through a sieve into a clean pan.
11. Season with lemon juice, salt and pepper.
12. Serve! We made some cheese on toast croutons and topped with torn basil leaves and a splash of nice oil.

Tip: For a more intense flavour try roasting the tomatoes and garlic first. You can also add a chilli if you like it spicy.

Sunday 29 May 2016

Trio of Homemade Dips - Garlic, Guacamole and Hummus

Our first afternoon on holiday saw the Isle of Wight bathed in glorious sunshine so we immediately decided to fire up the coal barbecue. We must have had our Weber Go Anywhere portable barbecue for 10 years now and it has never let us down, and nor did it this afternoon with some simple sausages and steak from the local shop. Pre-BBQ it is customary in the Larry clan to pop open a bag of tortillas, tear into some pitta bread, chop up carrot and cucumber sticks and get dipping. Now shop bought dips are all right but you cannot beat the freshness of homemade, and as the Isle of Wight is known for growing good garlic I was keen to get stuck in with these garlicky dips.

Garlic Yoghurt Ingredients

1x Tub of Greek Yoghurt
1x Garlic clove, crushed or finely grated
1/4 Lemon, juiced
1x Tsp Greek basil
Sea salt

Garlic Yoghurt Method:

1. Mix the garlic, lemon juice and yoghurt together.
2. Top with Greek basil leaves and sea salt flakes.

Guacamole Ingredients:

3x Avocados
1x Tomato, deseeded and diced
1x Chilli, finely chopped (add more if you like it spicy)
1x Small garlic clove, crushed or grated
1x Lime, juiced
1x Handful of fresh coriander
Salt and Pepper

Guacamole Method:

1. Chop the avocados in half length-ways, pop out the stone then scoop the flesh into a bowl.
2. Pour in the juice of 1 lime.
3. Tear off the coriander leaves and set aside. Finely chop the stalks and add to the bowl.
4. Add the chilli, garlic and tomato then mix well with a fork.
5. Taste, season, top with the coriander leaves and serve.

Hummus Ingredients:

2x Garlic cloves, crushed or grated
1/2 Tin of chickpeas
4x tbsp Tahini
1x Lemon, juiced
1x tbsp Sour cream
Pinch of salt
1x tbsp Cold pressed rapeseed oil

Hummus Method:

1. Place all the ingredients except the oil into a food processor. Before you exclaim "a food processor in the van!", I use this mini Kenwood. Or you can get additions to a hand blender, which equally do the job.
2. Whiz up the ingredients to a paste.
3. Serve in a bowl with that lovely British oil poured over the top.

Saturday 7 May 2016

Homemade Pork Pie

Football fans the world over will be rejoicing today when Leicester City Football Club are presented with the Premier League trophy and are crowned champions of England. With odds of 5000-1 at the start of the season it has truly been an epic and historical journey, today is great day for English football. Coincidentally we are staying on a small CS site in Leicestershire so in celebration I have made a Pork Pie. The world-famous pork pie has it's home in Melton Mowbray in Leicestershire so I cannot think of a more apt celebration of Leicestershire's greatness.

I cannot take the credit for this recipe as it is taken from The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. Every year at Christmas my great mate Pete would make a batch of these pies and we would always look forward to sampling his creations on Pork Pie Day. Pete used to be a chef in the RAF and a lot of my inspirations to cook came from our long chats over a beer or two. Sadly Pete is no longer with us but I like to think he would be proud of my attempt at the humble Pork Pie, maybe I'll make one at Christmas.


1kg Pork shoulder, hand cut into small cubes
250g Sausage meat
250g Bacon, diced
12x Sage leaves, finely chopped
1tsp Thyme leaves, finely chopped
1tsp Salt
1tsp Black pepper
1tsp White pepper
1/2tsp Cayenne pepper
1/2tsp Mace powder
250ml Stock
2x Bottles of beer

For the pastry:
100g Lard
100g Butter
200ml Water
550g Plain flour
1tsp salt
3x Eggs, 2 for the pastry and 1 to glaze


1. In a saucepan warm the water, butter, lard and salt until it has all melted then take off the heat.
2. Put the flour and 2 beaten eggs into a mixing bowl and stir until combined.
3. Pour in the melted fatty water and mix then knead to make a warm soft dough. Cover in cling film and pop it in the fridge for an hour.
4. Sit down, put your feet up, enjoy drinking a bottle of beer.
5. In your mixing bowl add all the meat, herbs and seasonings and combine well.
6. Cut off 1/4 of your pastry and leave it in the fridge then with the remaining 3/4 line a cake tin (I used a 21cm tin). Simply work the pastry with your fingers, flattening it and poking into the edges until the tin is evenly lined.
7. Its not hard this bit, put the meat into the pie.
8. Brush the edges of the pastry with a bit of egg then roll out the remaining 1/4 of pastry and lay it on top of the pie. Crimp the edges with your fingertips and cut off any excess, also cut a small hole in the centre of the lid.
9. Bake in the oven on gas mark 4 for 30 minutes then turn down to gas mark 3 for a further 75 minutes.
10. Sit down again and have another beer.
11. Remove from the oven and remove the pie from the tin. Brush the beaten egg over the top and sides and pop it back in the oven for a further 15 minutes so the glaze sets.
12. Remove the pie from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
13. Warm your stock and gelatine in a saucepan then pour it into the small hole in the centre of the lid. Use a small funnel, turkey baster or flavour injector and slowly fill until the pie is full to the brim.
14. When cool put the pie in the fridge. Serve it cold with English mustard, it cannot be beat.