Giselle’s Chilli Recipe

I use minced beef – good quality from the butchers. about 400g
1 onion chopped
several cloves of garlic crushed
1 tin chopped toms
1 big dollop tomato paste out the tube
Big glug of whatever red wine you have to hand
1 tin red kidney beans (Lidl) drained
Hot chilli powder about a teaspoon
Ground cumin about 2 teaspoons
Fresh coriander if you have it – I grow my own. Handful
If you have some unsweetened coco powder, a teaspoon of this is amazing!

Fry up the garlic and onion in olive oil until softened, but not browned.
Whack up the heat a bit and add the minced beef and break up, fry until meat is browned. 
Add all the other ingredients except the coriander if you have it.
Mix it up, bring it to the boil, turn it down to a bare simmer, cover and cook for at the very least 45 mins. Stir from time to time to stop it sticking.

Vic’s Delicious Pumpkin Soup

4 tbsp olive oil

4 large onions
3 cloves garlic
3 cm piece of fresh ginger (or a tbsp powdered if you don’t have any)
3 red chillies
salt & peper to taste
1 kg pumpkin or butternut squash cut into chunks
510 mls stock
1/2 block coconut cream or 1 can coconut milk
2 limes, juice and zest (I use lemons when I can’t get limes)
25g fresh corriander (I know a joke in Italy, so I use parsley when I have run out of the home-grown stuff, but no where near as good)1. Heat the oil and fry gently the onions, garlic, ginger & chillies for 5 mins
2. Add pumpkin/ squash, seasoning, stock, coconut & simmer partially covered for 25 mins
3. Puree with a blender, check seasoning and stir in chopped corriander & lime zest & juice. Yummy!

Sarah’s Naan Breads

  • 150ml hand-hot Milk
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp dried active Yeast
  • 450g plain flour plus extra for rolling out
  • 2 tsp Salt,  1 tbsp Nigella seeds
  • 1 tsp Baking powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra
  • 150ml natural Yogurt
  • 25g butter
  • 1 large Egg, lightly beaten

1. Dissolve yeast in warmed milk and let sit 5 – 10 minutes until frothy and doubled in size.

2. Add sugar, salt, nigella seeds and baking soda to the sieved flour and stir to incorporate well.

3. Add oil and yogurt to flour mixture.

3. Add yeast/milk mixture and knead gently for around 10 minutes to form a soft dough (note – dough will be quite sticky)

4. Place the dough in a large bowl which has been lightly greased with the olive oil. Cover the dough and leave to rest in warm place for 3-4 hours. The dough should double in volume.

5. Place a griddle pan over a hot heat and heat up.

6. Knead dough for a couple of minutes and divide into 12 equal parts or fewer or more, depending on the size of naan you wold like.

7. Roll each piece into classic oval shape (approx 1/4 inch thick). Dough is sticky, so use flour generously when rolling.

8. Wet your hands, pat the rolled out naan gently between both hands before placing on the stone. Cook for about 2 minutes to cook, turning once.

9. Add a dot of butter or ghee to Naan when it is still hot.

10. Keep in a towel lined basket, so they stay soft and warm.


Why not try adding chopped garlic for garlic naan or sultanas and almonds for Peshawari naan for a change?

Sarah & Karen’s Spiced Butternut Squash & Pear Soup

I have to admit I am cheating a little here. We had the most fantastic soup at our friend Karen’s the other day and as I loved it so much I am going to enter an adaptation of her recipe into the squash/ pumpkin competition (I’m sure Karen won’t mind!). We will certainly be making it many more times this autumn! It is delicious and light and creamy (even if you don’t put any cream in). Just amazing – and we would never have thought pears and squash go so well together!


908 g butternut squash
45 g unsalted butter
1 onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 g minced fresh ginger root
6 g curry powder
6 g salt
750 ml chicken broth
200 ml pear juice
2 firm ripe pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1 inch dice
120 ml cream (optional)DirectionsPreheat an oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

Cut squash in half lengthwise; discard seeds and membrane.

Place squash halves, cut sides down, on the prepared baking sheet.

Roast in preheated oven until very soft, about 45 minutes. Scoop the pulp from the peel, and reserve.

Melt butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.

Stir in the onion, garlic, ginger, curry powder, and salt.

Cook and stir until the onion is soft, about 10 minutes.

Pour the chicken broth and pear juice into the pot, and bring to a boil.

Stir in the pears and the reserved squash, and simmer until the pears are very soft, about 30 minutes.

Pour the soup into a blender, filling the pitcher no more than halfway full.

Puree in batches until smooth. Return the soup to the pot, stir in the cream (if used), and reheat gently.

Mexican Salsa by Kim

Mexican Salsa by Kim

This was great even though it is better with in season tomatoes.


Grilled/Roasted whole long dolce green peppers (where not out yet so I used bell)
yellow onion
lime zest and juice of one lime
chopped cilantro
toasted spices (1 T cumin, 1 T chili powder, 1 T garlic powder, 1/2 T paprika)
dash of Green Tabasco sauce (more or less depending on your desire for heat)
Salt and pepper to taste

chop up the tomotes, peppers, onions. Add the lime juice and zest, cilantro, Tabasco, and spices. Salt and pepper to taste. Let sit at room temp for an hour or more. Mix and serve with chips or on top of salad, burritos etc. Soooo Good.

Giselle’s take on Huevos Rancheros! by Giselle Stafford

Giselle’s take on Huevos Rancheros!

I had Huevos Rancheros in Berkeley, California a few years back in a cute little hippy style cafe – they were awesome!  All I really remember was there were refried beans underneath the tomatoey sauce and black bean sauce may have been involved!

So … I hunted around in the fridge and cupboards and came up with this recipe – it really is my own, and this is definitely not traditional – but we scarfed them down for lunch yesterday and we both say YEAY!! It’s a winner in the Stafford house!



What you need 

1 red onion cut into wedges

6 large ripe tomatoes – the vine ones have great taste.

(chop 4 of them and cut 2 of them into wedges)

2 tsp black bean sauce (that’s all I had left!)

Half tsp sambal oelek (I think green chilli is more traditional, but I didn’t have any!)

1 tsp ground cumin

Handful of fresh chopped parsley (or coriander if you have it – mine is still in the seedling stage!)

Refried beans – I had a 400g tin, used half of it, but I think they come in smaller tins too.

Melty cheese, grated – I used some of our precious cheddar stash.

4 eggs

Salt (optional)

Tortillas for dipping and mopping up the sauce – as many as you feel you need!


What to do …..

Heat up the oil in a wide frying pan or wok type pan.  Add the onion and gently fry until softened and a little translucent.

Add the chopped tomatoes, reserving the tomato wedges until a little later.

Add the black bean sauce, sambal oelek, cumin and most of the chopped parsley (save a sprinkle for the finish)

Cook on a med high heat and reduce the liquid, it should start to thicken.

When the mix is thick enough for you, give it a little taste and maybe add some salt if you feel it needs it.

Add the tomato wedges and stir through.

Make 4 dents in the mix, and drop an egg in each one – so make the dents evenly spaced!

(My mix was a little too liquid, so it was difficult to make the dents, however, the result was still great!)

Turn the heat down a notch to a medium heat.

Cover the pan with a lid for a few minutes to help cook the eggs.

In the meantime, warm some refried beans spread on the bottom of a grill/oven proof dish (I used a terracotta one).

Heat the grill.

When the whites have, well, turned white, with a large spoon, carefully – CAREFULLY transfer the mix and hopefully unbroken eggs on top of the refried beans.

Sprinkle with the cheese and pop it all under a grill until it’s all bubbly and there are patches of brown on the cheese.

Sprinkle the remaining parsley on top and serve with the warmed tortillas.

You can put the pot between you and just share directly out the serving dish or serve up into warmed wide bowls!

This serves 2 hungry folk!


Thai Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry by Giselle Stafford

Thai Sweet Potato and Chicken Curry by Giselle Stafford

We ate this tonight and I can say that it was really good with a nice but not too powerful kick.  Omit the chopped chilli if you want this milder.

Serves 3 or 4 (or a couple of hungry’ns!)


What to get

1 good sized skinless, boneless chicken breast sliced or cubed


1 large red onion, cut in half then sliced with the rings, not against them.


1 small birds-eye chilli, seeds removed and finely chopped


1 stalk lemon grass, finely chopped


1 small nugget of ginger finely chopped.


1 large sweet potato, peeled and cubed


Teaspoon red (or green) thai curry paste


Couple of Kafir lime leaves


Few shakes of fish sauce.


1 sachet creamed coconut with about 150 ml water or half a tin of coconut milk (shake 1st)


Chopped fresh coriander (1st choice) or fresh parsley (2nd choice!)



Serve with either Jasmine or Basmati rice & Raita.


What to do

Heat up some ordinary oil (ground nut, sunflower or similar) in a wok or largish frying pan.

Throw in the onion and chicken and cook until the chicken has sealed and the onion is slightly softened.

Add the chilli , ginger and lemon grass.

Add the sweet potato.

Mix all well and stir fry for a few minutes, not letting anything burn.

Add the curry paste, and stir through.

Add lime leaves and fish sauce, stir.

Add the coconut and water and stir well.  Add a little more water if necessary.

Turn down the heat and cover.  Simmer for about 30 mins or so or until the sweet potato is cooked through and the coconut milk has thickened.

Sprinkle with the coriander or parsley and serve with rice and raita.


SHU MAI by Amber

SHU MAI by Amber


250 grams shrimp, peeled, cleaned and chopped
200 grams of ground pork
1-2 green onions if you are in Italy, more if you are not. Chopped
½ inch piece of ginger peeled and chopped
Handful of button mushrooms chopped
Dash of soy sauce
Dash of sesame oil
Sprinkle of Salt
Peas for garnish
1-2 tablespoons of corn starch

2 cups flour and more for dusting
½ cup water

Dipping Sauce
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 table spoon of rice wine vinegar
Chopped green onion to taste
Chopped ginger to taste

To make Filling: Add all vegetable ingredients (except peas) to food processor and grind until fine then add proteins and combine well by pulsing food processor. Refrigerate until ready to use.

Make dough using warm-hot water and flour. About 2 cups of flour to a ½ cup to a cup of water . Prepare as you would any pasta. Let rest for a 10 minutes and roll our long cylinders as you would gnocchi. Cut, disks as you would gnocchi, but flatten them into large-ish disks. **********
To fill, put a dollop of filling in the middle and close pasta around the sides. Put a pea on top as a garnish.

Dumplings need to be steamed in a steamer, but don’t forget to line your steamer with lettuce leaves or the dumplings will stick. I used a basic market steamer insert in a big soup pot. Worked fine for me.

*********The above has been adapted from Use Real Butter. Please visit for better instructions for the dough and some wonderful dumpling recipes!!!!!

Stir-Fried Cashew Nuts & Chicken by Tina Ferrari

Stir-Fried Cashew Nuts & Chicken by Tina Ferrari

I also learned this at Basil Cookery School in Chiang Mai. I made a few of my own changes (for example, this is for 2 – the recipe she gave me was for 1).



100 g. sliced chicken
100 g. roasted cashew nuts
1/2 cup of jelly mushrooms (not found in Italy – just use your favorite mushroom)
1/2 onion, sliced
4 baby corns if you can find them
1 or 2 tbsp chopped garlic (depends on how much you like garlic)
1 or 2 large red dried chilis (chopped into 1/2″ length) – or use peperoncino if you’re in Italy
2 spring onions
1/2 cup chicken stock
1 tbsp. fish sauce
3 or 4 tbsp. oyster sauce
2 tsp. sugar
vegetable oil

1. In the wok, fry garlic in the oil over low heat until brown. Add chicken and keep stirring until the chicken is cooked through.
2. Add onion, baby corns, mushrooms, chili and stir continuously until done.
3. Add chicken stock, fish sauce, oyster sauce, sugar and stir well to combine.
4. Add cashews and spring onions, stir quickly and then remove from heat.

Enjoy with some rice!

* for vegetarians, use tofu or seitan instead of chicken, and soy sauce or salt instead of the fish & oyster sauce.

Singapore Noodles….sort of…. by Amber

Singapore Noodles….sort of…. by Amber

Adapted from Ching-He Huang’s Chinese Food Made Easy.



Oil for sauteing
1 minced clove of garlic
1 tablespoon of freshly grated ginger
1 small red chili (or more, your choice)
10 white mushrooms, sliced
1 large or two small zucchinis, julienned
1 small red pepper, sliced thin
1 carrot, julienned
200 grams chicken, diced, and coated in flour
100 grams of rice vermicelli
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
1 tablespoons of oyster sauce
1 egg, beaten
2 large spring onions, chopped
2 tsp tumeric
dash of sesame oil.

Cook pasta according to package directions and set aside.
Heat oil in a large wok and add red chili, garlic and ginger. Let cook until it is fragrant. Add Tumeric and combine. Add vegetables and cook for one minute. Add chicken and cook through. Add noodles and combine, then add soy and oyster sauce.
Push everything aside and cook egg. Combine, remove from heat, add spring onions and a dash of sesame oil.