A Collection of Recipes that have
become my favourites.


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Since 1986 I have earned my living as a professional Chef in various aspects of the catering industry. For a few glorious years my husband and I were the proud owners of a beautiful and well known restaurant in Northamptonshire. We then entered private service...yes, it's a long story! However it has been a happy and fulfilling experience, and sometimes an hilarious one.
These are some of my favourite recipes,
with a little anecdote to each for flavour.

In March 1994 we took our second plunge into private service, the first only lasted 3 months. This time for a Lebanese family, living in Marlow. They had a newly built house of vast proportions and it was far from finished when they had their first weekend guests. It was snowing quite heavily and the site outside the house was full of builder's rubble and equipment ….a Sea of freezing mud. At the very last minute we were informed that the food would be barbecued. They then produced a whole lamb to be cut up and skewered on kebab swords. Thinking that they had built an indoor barbecue somewhere, I deftly performed my most impressive butchery and presented the great silver trays of kebabs "where is the barbecue? "I inquired; the crestfallen faces made me realize that we were expected to light the only barbecue we had seen so far....300 yards away, on the building site........IN THE SNOW. My husband the butler, quickly dashed out to do this and in the meantime I set out to make a few canapés to fill the hungry whilst they that point one of the numerous Lebanese aunts produced some small frozen pastries on large square trays. "Here, cook these they wont mind waiting" she said sympathizing with my dilemma, after a few moments the most delicious smell came from the oven and shortly I had my first ever taste of LAHEM BIL-AJEEN. The Barbecue went well in the circumstances and we both did our best trudging back from the snow scene with large trays of cooked meat, trying to keep it hot, and then trying to look elegant whilst we served it wearing our ski suits. That is, it went well until the second trip where the building site opened up and a disused drain hole swallowed one of my legs and brought me crashing to the ground. It was ok though; I didn't drop the meat. Auntie gave us a whole plateful of her beautiful Lahem bil-Ageen and we went home to our little cottage after all the guests had left and pigged out in front of the fire.

Lahem bil-Ageen

makes about 20

You can be traditional and use bread dough but for convenience and time saving, puff pastry makes
a perfectly suitable substitute.

recipe page with stories and anecdotes about the life work of a personal chef in England. - Service , Butler

9oz 250g strong white bread flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon easy blend yeast
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 fl oz tepid water

Make a well in the centre of the sifted flour and salt on a pastry board and mix in the modern easy blend or fast action dried yeast (don't use active dried yeast) Add the oil and work in with your finger tips until completely blended. Add the water gradually while you kneed the dough with the palm of your hand pushing it into the board until it is smooth and elastic and has a slightly shiny surface. Leave covered in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour. (Better use a bowl unless you have a HUGE pastry
board). Divide the dough in two and flour well, then roll out on the board and cut as many circles as you need with a small round pastry cutter about jam tart size. Place on flat baking trays ready to add the filling.

Filling for Lahem bil-Ageen

1 medium white onion,very finely chopped
1 large tomato diced small
salt to taste
5 oz lean minced lamb
1/2 teaspoon finely chopped mint
9oz 250g strong white bread flour
/2 teaspoon finely chopped parsley
1 teaspoon lemon juice or to taste
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
pinch cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon pine nuts

Mix onions and tomatoes in a bowl and drain off any excess moisture add all the other ingredients and mix with your hands until well blended do NOT do this in a food processor. Place a teaspoon of the mixture on each bread or pastry round and press down into the dough slightly. Turn up the edges of the bread rounds with your fingers and pinch all around so they look like little tarts. Bake in a pre-heated oven (hot) 10- 12 minutes until the bread and nuts are golden brown. Serve hot or warm with a squeeze of lemon. You will probably have more yeast dough than filling but you can freeze it for next time.


 When I was a child growing up in an Essex village...
yeah!yeah!yeah! I'm blonde with big tits what! I was sent every Thursday afternoon to the bakers shop with a list of cakes that we were all allowed to choose for tea. My choice was always a Banbury cake because of the crumbly sugary pastry and the delicious rich filling. I have always loved these cakes and they are a wonderful way of using up the trimmings of wedding and other rich fruit cakes, or even leftover Christmas pudding.
Some people in the Banbury area think that these cakes were the original mince pies but that isn't true (the lahem-bil-ajeen were more likely to be). They were originally fertility cakes given away at weddings and springtime feasts and the cuts were not diagonal but a single one down the centre! The Victorians put paid to that about the time that Toll piddle had its name changed to Toll puddle. Oh well! Fun never lasts long.

Makes 12

1 Pack frozen unsweetened puff pastry (Saxby's preferably)
Leftover rich fruit cake, Christmas pudding or light fruit cake
and some mincemeat.
1. Egg yolk
Small glass milk
Small glass brandy or rum
Granulated sugar
Icing sugar

Wiz up the fruit cake egg yolk and brandy in a food processor until the consistency of mincemeat. Roll out the pastry on a floured board and cut 12 squares about 4ins x4ins and place a spoonful of the above mixture into the centre of each square. Fold the first two corners in slightly and the other two over each other and seal with milk or egg, making a torpedo shape as in the picture below. Turn the folded sides down on a greased baking tray. Paint all over with the milk and sprinkle the sugar liberally make three diagonal cuts on top. Bake in a hot oven until golden and slightly caramelised on the edges. Cool on a tray for about one hour then completely cover with a dusting of icing sugar, as illustrated.


Hot Stuff!

Whilst People starve in Ethiopia this recipe has become a favourite at many dinner parties.

Funnily enough it gets people talking and helps us to all understand what happens in these countries when governments allow dubious agricultural practises to jeopardise the people's health and well being. I know several lovely kind Ethiopian people and can see how easily they can be exploited so unscrupulously. No country should be allowed to grow crops for sale to the rest of the world unless it's own citizens are fully catered for first. Teff grass, which grows in drought or rain, provides the staple bread of Ethiopia, yet it is eradicated as a weed for the production of coffee and other luxury goods for the West. Coffee won't sustain you in a drought, Teff will.
You can feel the warmth and love that goes into the preparation of Ethiopian Chicken Stew with your first few mouthfuls. I guarantee it will become a favourite. Just think of all those poor mum's who would love to be dolloping out this stew to their families right now and empathise with them. They are real people in a real and terrible plight!

6 servings
3 lb Chicken
2 large Onions chopped
2 Tblsp Garlic; minced
2 Tblsp Lemon juice
2 tsp Salt
2 tsp Ginger, fresh; chopped
1/2 tsp Fenugreek
1/2 tsp Cardamom
1/4 tsp Nutmeg
2oz Butter or Ghee
Scant ½pint Water
2oz Wine, white, dry
2oz Berbere sauce *
2 Tblsp Paprika
4 Eggs hard boiled

Ethiopian Chicken Stew

Cut chicken into serving pieces and pat dry. Combine onion, garlic, lemon juice, salt, ginger, fenugreek, cardamom, nutmeg, and butter or Ghee in a saucepan. Simmer two to three minutes. Add the water, wine, berbere sauce, and paprika. Cook briskly for three to five minutes or until sauce is the consistency of cream. Add the chicken pieces. Cover tightly and simmer 15 minutes. Gash the eggs with a sharp knife without cutting to the yolk and add to the pan. Cover and cook 15 minutes more, or until chicken is tender.
This will keep in the fridge for several days or can be frozen and reheated.
Cut the eggs in half to garnish the stew when served
Serve with Teff Bread as described below.
2 Tsp Cumin Seed
4 Whole Cloves
1/2 Tsp Cardamom Seeds
1/2 Tsp Black Peppercorns
1/4 Tsp Whole Allspice
1 Tsp Whole Fenugreek Seeds
2 oz Dried Onion Flakes
3 Oz Red New Mexican Chiles -- Stemmed and Seeded
3 Small Dried Long Hot Red Chiles -- Seeded
1/2 Tsp Ground Ginger
1/2 Tsp Freshly Ground Nutmeg
1/4 Tsp Ground Turmeric
1 Tsp Garlic Powder
2 Tsp Salt
¼pnt Omega Oil (J Sainsbury's) or Olive Oil
¼pnt Dry Red Wine
Cayenne to taste

Berbere Sauce (Ethiopian)

Mix together the cumin, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns, allspice and Fenugreek seeds. Place in a small frying pan over medium heat. Stir constantly until they release their fragrance, about 1-2 minutes. Do not burn or discolour the seeds. Cool completely.
Combine the toasted spices and all the other ingredients except the oil and wine in a spice grinder or electric coffee grinder in several batches.
(I use an old coffee grinder) and grind to fine consistency. Place the spice blend in a bowl and add the oil and wine. Add cayenne to taste (Start with a small spoonful and add more as you become accustomed). I have actually used smoked chilli paste in this sauce instead of cayenne, very successfully! Stir until thick and store in a covered plastic container in the refrigerator.

These are modified ingredients for making Injera as purchasing Teff flour in England is near impossible unless you are in Central London. This is a close runner and is more palatable to Western tastes. Not quite so sour!

12 oz Self-Rising Flour
2 oz Buckwheat Flour
2 oz fine ground millet or cornmeal
1 Tbsp Fast action Dry Yeast -- (one package)
14 oz Warm Water


Ethiopian Flat Bread

Injera, a spongy crepe-like bread (slightly sour), is almost always eaten with Ethiopian stews.

Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl. Cover and leave for 1 hour or more until Foamy. Wisk in more water to make a thin batter, like pancake mix. Cook in non-stick frying pan WITHOUT OIL over medium or medium-high heat. Use 2 oz batter per Injera for a 12-inchpan or 1½ oz batter for a 10-inch pan.
Pour batter in heated pan and quickly swirl pan to spread batter as thin as possible. Batter should be no thicker than 1/8-inch. Do not turn over. It should look a bit like a thin crumpet when done.
Injera does not easily stick or burn. It is cooked through when bubbles appear all over the top. Lay each Injera on a clean towel for a minute or two, then stack in covered dish to keep warm. Finished Injera will be thicker than a crepe, but thinner than a pancake.
To serve, overlap a few Injera on a platter and place stews on top (I think most kinds of spicy bean or veggie stews/curries would be great with this. For Ethiopian food, the spicier the better). Or lay one Injera on each dinner plate, and ladle stew servings on top. Give each person two or more Injera rolled up or folded in quarters, to use for scooping up the stews.
I calculated that if you make 15 12-inch Injera, each would be about 120 calories.