The Cottage Smallholder


stumbling self sufficiency in a small space


Our best bolognaise sauce recipe

Posted in Rice and Pasta, Sauces Gravy Dressings | 14 comments

Our best bolognaise sauce recipe

I love pasta. Danny was so so for years. When we visit Italy I am keen to sample as many of their sauces and starters as possible – looking for secrets and hints for the ultimate pasta sauce recipe. Danny sticks to steaks and puds. “They’re the same price and I love steak.” Danny is Chief Taster back home so he leaves the R and D to me when we are on holiday. We haven’t eaten spaghetti bolognaise for ages.  So yesterday I thought I’d try and make a sauce with less meat. Cheaper? Yes. But I was aiming to create something that was...

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The mayonnaise obsession

Posted in Basics, Sauces Gravy Dressings | 14 comments

The mayonnaise obsession

It started last year. I sampled some homemade mayo at a client’s house. I was making a chicken salad lunch for a golf widower. Their homemade mayo was stunning. Light, tasty and sublime. He liked it too. The next week it was the same menu with a pivotal difference. “It will have to be the bottled stuff, Fiona. It’s in the door of the fridge.” I discovered that it was Hellmann’s, full fat. I could tell from his plate he wasn’t so keen on this one. Since then the thought of that first homemade mayo has stayed...

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Coriander and lime juice pesto recipe – inspired by Bill Granger

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings | 4 comments

Coriander and lime juice pesto recipe – inspired by Bill Granger

Our old friend Richard introduced us to Bill Granger. We didn’t actually meet Bill but tasted his recipes and were instantly drawn to his books. Seductive photography and great copy. Sometimes Bill hovers behind a dish, looking calm and relaxed with just the right amount of sun. There is never a hint of a chilly English winter – it’s Australia after all and Bill doesn’t need to pull on a double knit. These are the perfect books to turn to if the weather is too warm for wintry food but too brisk for a chilled...

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Olive oil and walnut vinegar dressing recipe

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings | 6 comments

Olive oil and walnut vinegar dressing recipe

I’m working for my American friend Mike, down in Saffron Walden. We’re both busy so lunch is brief but always interesting. A couple of days ago he opened a can of tuna, mixed it with lashings of black pepper and a couple of tablespoons of mayo. He spread this on elegant crackers, put a thin slice of giant tomato on top and drizzled it with some homemade dressing that he grabbed from the fridge. Watching anyone prepare food is always interesting. If I am hungry, the process has an extra allure. Meanwhile I was heating up some...

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Simple homemade bread sauce recipe

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings | 19 comments

Simple homemade bread sauce recipe

I got up quite early this morning to check the washing machine and dishwasher. One or other was leaking massively. It looked like both but discovered that it was the dishwasher and put a load of clothes on to wash while I did the big shop. I like shopping (don’t get out much at the moment) and had taken up Amanda’s idea of a meal plan. My list shimmered with an orchestra of relevant ingredients. Although I was tempted by a prima donna, not on the list. I signed her up on the spot. Spinach, in case you are wondering.. Rushing off to...

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Boxing day lunch: smoked ham with a fresh parsley sauce recipe

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings, Snacks Breakfast Lunch | 5 comments

Boxing day lunch: smoked ham with a fresh parsley sauce recipe

We always buy a ham at Christmas to keep the goose company in the fridge and provide us with endless meals. Starting with ham sandwiches on Christmas day and hot ham with a fresh parsley sauce on Boxing Day. The latter is eaten on trays as we indulge in an afternoon of horse racing on the telly. Danny and my mum sit watching the racing whilst I put on my pinny and provide the maid service end of things. Homemade parsley sauce is a cinch to make. A basic Béchamel with parsley lemon and quite a bit of freshly ground white pepper makes a good...

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Cranberry and clementine sauce recipe

Posted in Christmas, Sauces Gravy Dressings | 14 comments

Cranberry and clementine sauce recipe

I finally found cranberries in the Cambridge Sainsbury’s store on Friday. I wanted to whoop with joy and run around the store waving them over my head. Instead I quickly grabbed two packs and quietly popped them into my basket. I’ve been looking for cranberries for weeks and was beginning to worry that we wouldn’t have homemade cranberry sauce with our Christmas goose this year. We have a great cranberry sauce recipe here. Reading the comments on that article prompted me to give our sauce a new twist this year. Why not...

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Blackberry and plum sauce recipe

Posted in Sauces Gravy Dressings | 2 comments

Blackberry and plum sauce recipe

I decided to cook us a treat of pot roast pork. All was well when I checked the joint after an hour and a half. It was simmering gently. I secured the foil under the lid again and popped the pot into the oven for the final ninety minutes. When the timer pinged I was horrified to find that the gorgeous juices had reduced to nothing. “Never mind. I’ll make an apricot sauce,” I thought as I poked about in the larder for a tin. All I could find was a tin of pineapple chunks donated by a generous client who had got fed up with...

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