Copy Cook's blog

Copy Cook

Professional writer, amateur gardener, experimental cook


As a keen gardener, I grow a lot of my own produce. I've written extensively on the subject of gardening and nature for My Weekly magazine.

Gardening is a constant battle against flooding, claggy soil, blackfly, slugs and snails. (It is for me, anyway!)

Sweet Potato Chips with Cayenne Pepper

Sweet Potato PlantThe sweet potato is native to the tropical regions of the Americas and is only distantly related to the potato family. Therefore, it’s not the easiest plant to grow in our climate!

Sweet potatoes will not survive in cold temperatures. If you attempt to grow them outdoors in the UK, you’ll need moisture-retentive, free-draining soil and a sheltered, sunny spot.

How to grow sweet potatoes

Salt and Pepper Squid

I’ve recently been experimenting with salt and pepper squid. I’ve practised a few times now, and I’m starting to get the hang of it. I used prepared squid from the fishmonger as it’s much easier than having to get rid of all the membrane yourself. If you do want to use whole unprepared squid, here’s a link to a useful short video on its preparation:

How to clean, prepare and cook squid

Hot and Sour Soup

Hot and Sour SoupAfter preparing an oriental feast last night to celebrate Chinese New Year, here’s a rough guide to making hot and sour soup – and cheating by using a soup paste sachet. I make this soup differently every time, depending on what ingredients are available.

Ingredients

1 litre chicken stock
1 sachet of hot and sour soup paste
Shitake mushrooms
Cubes of tofu
Sliced bamboo shoots
Garden peas
Prawns (optional)
A few chopped finger chillies if you like it hot
Couple of cloves of finely chopped fresh garlic

Eggs or Anarchy

A book I’d recommend is Eggs or Anarchy by William Sitwell. It tells the story of how Lord Woolton, Minister for Food, kept Britain fed during the Second World War.

With the public having to manage on limited rations, it was Lord Woolton’s job to use his wits to stop black market profiteering and bring food to shelves of the country’s larders. One of Lord Woolton’s initiatives was to create recipes to help people maintain a nutritious diet, despite the shortages of many foods, particularly meat.

Woolton Pie

Fleet Food Festival: Roasting a Goat

Fleet Food FestivalThe third Fleet Food Festival was another success with over 7000 visitors. The sun shone, the live music was great and the food fabulous.

Last year, you may remember, I came away from the Festival with a joint of wild boar to roast. This year we purchased a saddle of goat.

Whole Roasted Garlic

Whole Roasted GarlicApparently 19th April is National Garlic Day, so let’s celebrate by roasting a whole garlic.

Allium sativum, commonly known as garlic, is a species in the onion genus, Allium. It’s native to central Asia and has been used for both culinary and medicinal purposes for over 7000 years.

These are just a few of the claims made about the supposed health benefits of consuming garlic:
 

Steak and Kidney Hot Pot with Crusted Dumplings

Steak and Kidney Hot PotBack in September last year, I rashly proposed to attempt more Fanny Cradock recipes following my success with Fanny’s Shrimp Cocktail.

I was planning to recreate Menu One from Ten Classic Dishes (with a menu for each) by Fanny Cradock. Menu One consists of Shrimp Cocktail, followed by Beefsteak and Kidney Pudding and Pie, with Mum’s Trifle to finish.

Imperfect Parsnips

ParsnipMy parsnips definitely wouldn’t pass muster in a supermarket beauty parade. In Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s series, War on Waste, he highlights the huge amount of produce our supermarkets reject, particularly when it comes to imperfect veg.

This article in The Guardian: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall rejects Morrisons' 'pathetic' wonky veg trial reveals the plight of ugly vegetables.

Cheesy Christmas Trees

Cheesy Christmas TreesThanks to my friend, Mandy, for this festive recipe. These are very moreish and make a nice change from all the sweet snacks around at Christmas.

Ingredients for cheese pastry

113g (4oz) plain flour
85g (3oz) butter
85g (3oz) cheddar or parmesan cheese
Pinch of dry mustard
Pinch of salt
Sprinkle of cayenne pepper
1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons cold water

Method

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