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A collection of recipes inspired by time spent in South West France, both holidaying and then building a home there (see house section)

All the recipes have been adapted and refined over time, tried and tested on many friends (both vegetarian and meat eating) and pulled together into a collection of quick suppers to dinner for many. Also my food reflects that, especially in South West France, the local markets and to a certain extent the shops really only sell what’s in season.

These 3 new recipes are the start of a new recipe project called ‘Mmmm that smells good’, inspired by my experience that every time you start a recipe by frying an onion in butter, someone walks into the kitchen and says ‘Mmmm that smells good’, even though its such a simple thing!

For 6

2 onions
Olive oil 
2 cloves garlic
3 teaspoons sweet paprika
1 lb chestnut mushrooms (about 20)
Small bunch of fresh leaf parsley
1 tablespoon of brandy
Salt and pepper
Medium tub of crème fraiche
Ready made puff pastry


  • Chop the onions roughly and fry slowly in olive oil and a little butter until just catching – about 20 minutes

  • Finely chop the garlic and add with the paprika to the onions – stir for a couple of minutes and set to one side

  • Halve the mushrooms and fry in a little oil and butter until soft and brown (you can use the same pan as the onions)

  • Add back the onion mix and add the chopped parsley, brandy, salt and pepper

  • Let the mixture bubble for a couple of minutes then stir in the crème fraiche and cook through for 5 minutes

  • Pour into a pie dish and cover with the rolled out pastry

  • Bake in the oven for 20 minutes until the pie crust is golden.

This is very rich so serve with something green and crunchy like French beans 

For 4

I butternut squash
1 tablespoon olive oil
Sea salt 
1 cm butter
1 small onion
2 cloves garlic
½ cup of dry white wine
2 cups of risotto rice (eg. Arborio)
1 ½ pints of vegetable stock, just off the boil
A handful of fresh sage 
½ cup roasted cashews
Ground black pepper
Fresh grated parmesan (about 2 tablespoons)
Gorgonzola (optional)


  • Peel and de-seed squash - I cut in half lengthways, then cut each half into 3, deseed and peel using a potato peeler then cut into 1 inch pieces

  • Roast in preheated oven at 200 for 20 minutes – I layer, sprinkled with sea salt and olive oil. When ready, the squash should still be resistant to a knife, not squishy

  • Fry the onion and garlic in the butter and a little olive oil, slowly for 15 minutes

  • Add the risotto rice and stir into the onion and garlic, coating each grain in the oil. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes

  • Add the white wine–it will simmer up

  • Make the stock using 1 teaspoon of marigold stock or 1 good veg stock cube in 1 ½ pints boiling water

  • When white wine is absorbed start adding the stock, a cup at a time.

  • After about 10 minutes add half of the squash (it should be ready by now)

  • Keep cooking the rice, stirring in the stock until its used up (more might be needed so keep a kettle just off the boil in case)

  • Start tasting the rice, checking until its just past al dente but not soggy

  • When it tastes nearly done add the rest of the squash, the cashews and the parmesan stir through, turn off the heat and replace the lid for about 5 minutes. If you want to stud with pieces of gorgonzola do so now

  • Meanwhile fry the butter until it just stops sizzling then add the sage leaves and fry till crisp – the butter can go brown but don’t cook for more than a couple of minutes

  • The risotto is now ready to assemble – spoon a couple of ladlefuls into bowls and pour over the butter/sage mixture

Good with a green salad – but filling so you wont need much else

For 6 

5 large onions (don’t use red onions)
1 cm slice of butter
Dash of olive oil
6 eggs
½ teaspoon of flour
Salt and pepper
Light sprinkle of nutmeg
2 tablespoons grated emmental or similar cheese
Pre-made shortcrust pastry or make your own!



  • Slice the onions (5mm max) and fry very slowly in a saucepan in the butter and olive oil. This should take at least 45 minutes until the onions are really soft and slightly catching on the bottom of the pan turning a little brown

  • Meanwhile roll out and blind bake the pastry for 10 – 15 minutes, making sure you grease the quiche dish

  • When the onions are ready stir in the flour to absorb the juice

  • Lightly beat the eggs, season with salt and pepper and add to the onions. Add a sprinkle of nutmeg at this point. Mix to even consistency

  • Pour into the pre-baked pastry base and sprinkle with an even layer of the grated cheese

  • Bake in a pre heated oven at 180 for about 30 mins until the top is golden. Test with a knife if unsure – it should come out of the egg clean

Good with rosemary potatoes and green beans, or a green salad

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