Champagne Recipes Rhubarb

Making rhubarb jam

Ok, so I’m giving the jam making a go. I’ve tried making jam in the past and it was ended up being a huge mistake. I made apple and marrow jam which turned into concrete, I think there’s still some of it under the stairs, which has the potential to be discovered by some kind of future civilisation.

This time, I’m making rhubarb jam and it’s a simple recipe that will appeal to the rhubarb puritans out there – it’s just sugar and rhubarb.

1 kg of rhubarb chopped into 1cm pieces, this will make around three to four jars
800 – 900g of jam sugar (sugar with added pectin)


1. Add together the sugar and the rhubarb and leave the mixture over night. When you open the lid in the morning, you’ll be greeted with a lovely, chunky, syrupy mixture.

2. Place a saucer in the fridge and let it cool. You’ll need this later to do the wrinkle test.

3. Gradually bring the mixture to the boil and then simmer until everything starts to break down, stirring regularly – this should take around 20 – 30 minutes or so.

4. Wash your jars and lids thoroughly in hot water and place in an oven on a low heat, this will sterilise the jars.

5. As you cook the jam, a white froth will appear, this is called the scum, take a spoon and gradually skim off the scum and disregard.

I’ve also heard that a knob of butter will also disolve the scum into the mixture.

5. When you think you’ve got the right consistancy, take a spoonful of jam and place it on the saucer that you placed into the fridge earlier on. Let the spoonful cool, and then push it with your finger, if you see wrinkles then your jam is at the right consistency.  If you don’t get that result, then keep simmering and repeat the wrinkle test every five minutes.

6. Turn off the heat and spoon into the jars, you may need a funnel for this to make life easier. When the jar is full, finish off with a waxy disc, which you’ll be able to get in any supermarket and then seal with the accompanying plastic disc, finish off the jar by screwing on the lid and then let it cool.

I’ve read that adding ginger or vanilla is a good move with rhubarb jam – what’s your twist?


Leek and potato soup

Leek and potato soup is a classic meal and is probably the easiest and quickest soup to make.


3oz Butter
1 onion
3 leeks
8oz of potatoes
950ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper


1. Finely chop the onion, dice the leeks and dice the potatoes and melt the butter in a saucepan.

2. Fry off the onions and leeks until soft and then add the potatoes.

3. Boil the kettle and dilute a cube of vegetable stock in boiling water. Gradually add the stock, bringing the mixture to the boil.

4. Simmer all of the ingredients together in the saucepan for around 20 – 30 minutes or until the potato is soft.  Depending on how chunky you like your leek and potato soup, put aside some of the mixture and blend the rest. Once it’s well blended, add the chunky bits to the mixture.

5. Garnish with freshly chopped chives or single cream.



Cauliflower Cheese

Whoever decided to put cheese and cauliflower together to make cauliflower cheese was an absolute genius…

Ingredients for cauliflower cheese

230ml milk
1/2 Bay leaf
2-3 Whole black peppercorns
Half a small onion
40g Butter
20g Plain flour
1 Small carrot (peeled and cut lengthways)
1 Small leak
1 Teaspoon of English mustard
2 Handfuls of cheddar cheese
1 Large to medium cauliflower head

Method for cauliflower cheese

1. First place the milk in a saucepan and add the bay leaf, peppercorns, carrot and onion.

2.Then place it over a low heat and keep it at simmering point, which will take around 5 minutes. Then remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the milk into a jug using a siv. The onion and carrot should par-boiled.

3. Wash the pan and melt the butter gently – don’t overheat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts – add the flour and, over a medium heat and using a small pointed wooden spoon, stir quite vigorously until you achieve a smooth paste.

4. Now begin adding the infused milk a little at a time – about 1fl oz/25ml first of all and stir again vigorously. Then, when this milk is incorporated, add the next amount and continue incorporating each bit of liquid before you add the next. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk and start adding large amounts of milk, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.

5. Add a teaspoon of English mustard and a handful of grated cheddar cheese.

6. Chop the cauliflower up and lay in a long dish, add a knob of butter and a splash of water and cover with cling film.   Microwave for 3 minutes until the cauliflower is soft.   Drain the dish of excess fluid if necessary.

7. Pour the sauce over the cauliflower evenly and top with healthy clumps of grated cheddar cheese, place under the grill at a high heat or in the oven at 180°C until golden brown.

Great with some roast potatoes!



How to cook the perfect roast potatoes

I’m sure if you Google “how to cook roast potatoes” there’ll be hundreds of results.  So this is my contribution, passed down from my dear old dad! And nothing beats fresh roast potatoes straight from the allotment.  The secret to a good roast potato is in the variety of potato, I’d recommend using Maris Piper or Desiree as they crisp up beautifully on the outside and stay lovely and fluffy on the side.


Potatoes peeled and chopped, 1 potato chopped into three chunks will feed 1 person

Tablespoon of vegetable oil

Tablespoon of olive oil

Sprinkling of salt


Method for cooking roast potatoes

1. First pre-heat the oven to 190C/gas mark 5ish.. and cover the bottom of the base baking tray with the oil.  Once the oven has heated, put the tray, with the oil into the oven and heat.  We have to get it piping hot!

2.  Wash out the starch in the potatoes – to do this, place the potatoes  in a colander and rinse until the water runs clear.  This will literally take a few moments.

3.  Place the potatoes in a saucepan of water, add a sprinkle of salt and bring to the boil on the hob.  Once it’s at boiling point, let it cool naturally and then drain off the water.

4. The above is known as par-boiled. Fresh potatoes will be soft on the outside, but not really that cooked on the inside.  Place the par-boiled potatoes into the baking tray of hot oil, be careful, they’ll sizzle! Also don’t be alarmed should you open the oven and a big waft of steam comes rushing out.  Cook for 20 minutes.

4. After 20 minutes, bring out the potatoes and give them a turn so that the other sides get cooked.  Cook for another 20 minutes or until golden brown.




Mashed potato with wholegrain mustard

Mashed potato with wholegrain mustard is a recipe that’s been done countless times – and if you’re an avid foodie you’ll probably say, “oh that’s nothing new!” The truth is, you’re right.

Adding wholegrain mustard to your mash can add a pleasant twist to an otherwise mundane side dish. During the winter months the sharpness of the mustard can add a real warming texture to the mash. Obviously your mustard tolerance will dictate how much mustard you use, but for good measure I recommend adding a minimum of two teaspoons the mix – if you overdo it, add creme fraiche to the pain to tone the mustard.


Potatoes – judge the amount based on how many people you’re catering for

A sprinkle of salt

2 Teaspoons of wholegrain mustard

1 knob of butter

Mashed potato with whole grain mustard : Method

1. Peel the potatoes and place into a saucepan of water. Once they’re all peeled, run the saucepan under the tap to wash the starch out of the potato – the water will eventually run clear and this makes for a much more solid consistency when you mash the potato.  Add a sprinkle of salt to the pan to taste.

2. Bring the pan to the boil and cook the potatoes until they are soft – you should be able to go through the whole chunks of potato with a knife.

3.  Drain the potatoes and add a decent knob of butter and start mashing, when all of the potatoes are mashed – add the wholegrain mustard.  I recommend two teaspoons, but if you like more of a kick then feel free to add more.

4. Serve with a pie and gravy – (or anything you like!)

The secret to making good mashed potato is down to the variety of potato that use. Each spud has it’s own quality and some make for better mash than others.


Cabbage and broccoli soup with a kick

Not for the faint hearted…


1 Broccoli

1/2 cabbage

2 pints of vegetable stock

1 crushed garlic clove

1 teaspoon of curry powder

1/2 chili powder

Cheese/Creme Fraiche for cooling


1. Cut up the broccoli and dice the cabbage and place into a large saucepan with all of the other ingredients.

2. Mix the stock with boiling water and add the saucepan.

3. Bring to the boil, and then simmer for 15 minutes or until the the broccoli is soft.

4. Blend the mixture and serve with grated cheese or a dollop of creme fraiche.