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My partner Jim grew up on a mushroom farm, and I remember when I first met his family I wondered if they were lovers or haters of mushrooms after so many years of growing and picking them (they are still lovers!), I was surprised at how fast they grew (from a pinprick to fully opened – 3 days!), and I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw these massive long dark tunnels in which they grew. It never occurred to me that mushrooms grow better in the dark, I totally expected to visit and see a huge field of white button mushrooms staring back at me. It was hard graft, early starts, labour intensive, but I always thought how wonderful it was that the whole family got involved from the three boys (Jim’s brothers) to the amazing Grandma Grace who was still picking mushrooms well into her 80’s. I’m also a mushroom fan, my favourite mushroom dish of all time happens to be Vanessa’s Balsamic Mushrooms. However, I’ve never made mushroom soup – no idea why – just haven’t, so this was a great opportunity to try my hand at modernising the Edmonds Cookery Book’s Mushroom Soup recipe. This is super quick, no tricks, blending or special skills required, so a perfect dish for slap up lunch on a wintery day.

Ingrid’s Creamy toasty mushroom soup
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A winter warmer
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4

What you need
  • 3 Tbsp butter
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 500gm mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 Tbsp flour
  • 2 Cups milk
  • 1 Cup chicken stock
  • ½ tsp salt
  • white pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • chopped parsley/chives

How to make
  1. Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and mushrooms. Cook until onion is clear.
  2. Stir in the flour. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
  3. Gradually add milk and stock, stirring constantly.
  4. Bring to the boil. Cook for 5 minutes or until soup thickens slightly.
  5. Add salt, pepper and lemon juice.
  6. Serve garnished with parsley.

Notes + adaptations

I added 100 grams of saute shitake mushrooms (fried in a splash of olive oil until golden) piled high on the top of each bowl of soup. I also add a teaspoon of cream cheese to each bowl just prior to serving. It’s looks good, as well as adds  flavour and thickness to the soup when mixed through. I served each bowl of soup with a toasted slice of heavy rye bread spread with butter.


I love soup, I have even been known to order it in the scorching hot summer. My ultimate soup would have to be a seafood chowder but a close second and a totally different soup that I totally love is the Thai Tom Yum Goong and Gai. I chose to make spinach soup this week as it was really a matter of what I had in the fridge. I didnt have fresh spinach but a bag of frozen. This soup is super easy to make and can be bumped up with cream, milk or  even sour-cream/creme fraiche. To add a bit of fancy pants garnish to my soup I topped it with toasted almonds rough garlic croutons. These croutons really added texture to the soup. I highly recommend them. Serve them on the side so your guests can keep adding them. They go soggy pretty quickly so add and eat and then add some more.

Vanessa’s Spinach and celery soup
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According to Edmonds it serves 4-5, I think its more like 2 for a hearty meal or 4 small entrees.
Recipe type: Soup
Serves: 4

What you need
  • 50g butter
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 500g spinach washed and stems removed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • pinch nutmeg
  • sour cream or unsweetened yoghurt

How to make
  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Add onion and garlic and cook until the onion is clear.
  3. Add spinach, stock, salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring to the boil, cover and leave to simmer for 10-15 minutes or until the spinach is limp but still very green.
  5. Add sugar.
  6. Puree in a blender until smooth.
  7. Add nutmeg.
  8. Serve garnished with a swirl of sour cream.

Notes + adaptations

I used 300g frozen spinach and about 5 stems of chopped celery. I added the celery to the onion and garlic mix. I omitted the sugar and nutmeg. I didn’t have any fresh stock so used stock cubes – one per cup of water.

Croutons  – all I did was combine roughly chop sliced white bread, crusts and all, a few garlic cloves chopped up and slivered almonds. I added salt and pepper and a splash or two of olive oil and grilled it in a baking tray for about 5 minutes or until golden. Check frequently and give the tray a shake. These are totally worth making – better than regular croutons!!!


asian slaw


{VANESSA} This is a fresh, healthy and tasty coleslaw to take to your next BBQ. It uses daikon (sometimes called Chinese radish) a vegetable you have probably seen especially if you shop at Asian vegetable shops but never had the guts to try. It’s super easy to prepare, just peel and  grate or finely shred and has  great crunch and a mild taste. The dressing for this slaw is based on the expensive and delicious Japanese sesame dressing that’s often served on your salad in a bento box lunch or in the International aisle of the supermarket. It’s a great idea to make extra dressing to keep in the fridge to dress any salad greens. This salad looks vibrant, it’s good added to a wrap or a crusty roll, served alongside any meat or even taken to work and eaten with a tin of salmon or tuna. PS if you prefer the creamy style dressing and aren’t on any New Year diet, add more mayonnaise and  less vinegar. The dressing can be adapted to suit your tastes. If your in the mood for more easy salad combinations try the Red cabbage and Apple Slaw.

Asian Slaw
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This is a fresh, healthy and tasty coleslaw to take to your next BBQ.
Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 4-6

What you need
  • Slaw
  • 1 cup shredded white cabbage
  • 1 cup shredded red cabbage
  • 2 carrots peeled and grated
  • 1 raw beetroot peeled and grated
  • ½ daikon (or 4 radishes) peeled and grated (daikon is sometimes called a Chinese radish)
  • Toasted sesame seeds for garnish
  • 1 finely chopped spring onion or finely chopped mint for garnish
  • Sesame Dressing
  • 6 Tbsp roasted sesame seeds (place in a non-stick pan and toast on a low heat until they start to colour)
  • 4 Tbsp mayonaise
  • 4 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Pince of salt

How to make
  1. Using a food processor (easy) or a hand grater prepare the Slaw ingredients and mix in a large bowl.
  2. Dressing
  3. Place seasame seeds in a non-stick pan and toast on a low heat until they start to colour.
  4. Set a few seeds aside as garnish. Using a mortar and pestle grind the warm sesame seeds to a coarse consistency.
  5. Combine all ingredients including the seeds in a food processor and blitz until combined. (Or shaking it in a tightly sealed jar will work too)
  6. Pour over the coleslaw and mix well.
  7. Garnish with finely chopped spring onion or mint and toasted sesame seeds.




{INGRID} Post New Year’s Resolutions – So who’s on a diet? and who is still sticking to it? Mine is the ‘Get Real’, or the ‘Be Honest’ diet which is basically mind games I play with myself, saying ‘Seriously you really don’t need that…or quite often it’s ‘ treat your body with respect…don’t shovel that beautifully crafted custard square into your gob – it can wait till another day when you didn’t already eat that brioche. I’ve also started planking, signed up by Vanessa to the 30 day challenge, and boy it’s a challenge. I’m up to 1.30sec and I’m a shaking like a saggy baggy leaf, but as I’m signed up and accountable to all the others that are planking, I’m on my way to 6 pack town. Yah….diet or no diet, this salad is a summer stunner. Full of colour and big hearty vegetables that will fill you up and make you not feel like your not missing out on anything. If you want to make it your main meal – add some crumbled feta. Enjoy x  This Warm lentil and tomato salad will also fill you up.

Summer ratatouille
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Recipe type: Salad
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Serves: 4-6

What you need
  • 2 large red peppers
  • 2 yellow or green peppers
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 1 aubergine (eggplant), diced
  • 2 punnets cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • Basil leaves, torn
  • Olive oil for cooking
  • Dressing – Garlic vinaigrette‎
  • 6 garlic bulbs
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ Tbsp sugar
  • Salt and pepper to taste

How to make
  1. Place the garlic bulbs with skin on, diced aubergine and diced courgette in a frypan with a dash of oil and saute on low until soft – this will take about 20 minutes.
  2. Place the peppers under a hot grill and grill until the skin has blackened and separated from the flesh of the peppers. (This is an optional step – having them with the skin on is totally fine too). When cool peel off the outer skin, discard stalks and seeds and roughly chop .
  3. In a bowl add the cooked aubergine and courgette, finely diced onion, halved cherry tomatoes, roughly chopped peppers and torn basil leaves and combine. Add a few grinds of salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Dressing
  5. In a food processor squeeze the soft garlic out of its skin, add the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, sugar and salt/pepper.
  6. Blitz until smooth. Taste – and add more sugar if you like a sweeter dressing or more lemon juice if you like it tarty and sour.
  7. Arrange the summer ratatouille on a large platter/bowl and pour the dressing over and garnish with more torn basil leaves and extra cracked pepper.