April – usually the month of Easter, family get-togethers, spring lambs and school holidays.

When I started writing recipes for April we were in lock down with the Covid19 pandemic. Certain foods and ingredients became hard to find or non-existent.

Toilet roll and hand sanitiser were the first to disappear from supermarket shelves, followed by tinned fruit and veg, flour of any kind and yeast. Initially vegetables and fruit were scarce, but as time went on limited supplies started to re-appear.

My recipes therefore became slightly random depending on what I had to work with. The more unusual ingredients were the ones that were left on the shelves, so I made use of them.  The weather was also good – sunny and warm, so lighter meals became more inspiring at the beginning of the month.

A dish of liver strganoff

Lamb’s Liver Stroganoff

The great thing about liver is that is so quick to cook. I’ve used a basic stroganoff recipe here and served it with rice.

Serves 1


150g lambs liver, membrane removed, sliced into thin strips

½ onion, finely sliced

4 mushrooms, sliced

5g butter

1 tsp oil

Splash of sherry

1 heaped tablespoon ½ fat crème fraiche

¼ tsp French mustard

½ tsp tomato puree

1 tbsp tarragon & parsley, mixed

Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the butter in a small frying pan, add the sliced onion and fry gently to soften for a few minutes. Add the mushroom slices and fry for a few minutes, remove from the heat and set aside.
  2. Clean the pan and add a teaspoon of oil. Heat on medium high until just smoking, add the liver and stir fry quickly for about 30 seconds. Add the sherry, bubble and add the cooked onions and mushrooms back to the pan.
  3. Stir through the crème fraiche, French mustard, tomato puree and most of the herbs.
  4. Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary. Pile onto a plate, sprinkle with the remaining herbs.
A pan of baked eggs with spicy chorizo, mushrooms and kale

Baked Eggs with Spicy Chorizo, Mushrooms & Kale

A great one pan supper dish use plain chorizo if you don’t like spicy. The number of eggs depends on your appetite and size of eggs you have.

Serves 1


1 sm onion, sliced

1 tsp oil

¼ spicy chorizo, chopped

Handful of mushrooms, sliced

Handful of kale, stalks removed & roughly chopped

½ tsp snipped chives

  1. Heat the oil in a small frying pan, add the chorizo and when it starts to sizzle and release it’s juices, add the sliced onion. Fry for a few minutes to soften.
  2. Add the mushrooms and kale, fry to soften, stir, then depending on whether you are using 2 or 3 eggs, make a nest for each one within the ingredients in the pan. Crack an egg into each nest, cover the pan with a lid, reduce the heat to low and cook gently for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked to your liking.
  3. Remove from the heat, sprinkle over the chives and serve.
A dish of spicy Chinese style mussels

Spicy Chinese Mussels

These are a delicious alternative to the usual moules mariniere.

Serves 2


1kg mussels, cleaned

3 spring onions, finely sliced

2 tsp grated root ginger

2 cloves garlic, grated

2 tbsp black bean sauce

1 tsp sesame oil

1 red chilli, finely sliced (optional)

Sprinkle of sesame seeds

  1. Heat a large, lidded pot on a medium high heat, add the sesame oil, most of the spring onions, keeping some of the dark green ends for garnish. Add the ginger, garlic and black bean sauce.
  2. Stir well, tip in the mussels and stir through the sauce. Turn the heat up, put the lid on the pan and cook for a few minutes until the mussel shells have opened. Shake the pan from time to time.
  3. Divide the mussels between two bowls, pour over the broth, sprinkle over the chilli, sesame seeds and reserved spring onions. Serve immediately.
An image of a dish of dauphinoise potatoes

Skinny Dauphinoise Potatoes

There’s nothing more delicious than garlicky, creamy dauphinoise potatoes. I’ve tweeked them here to make them less calorific & faster to cook but no less delicious.

Serves 4

800g floury potatoes – I used Maris Piper

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced

300ml chicken stock

100ml double cream

½ tsp grated nutmeg

50g strong cheese, Gruyere or cheddar

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
  2. Slice the potatoes into 5mm slices. Put into a pan with the stock, cream, sliced onion and garlic. Grate in the nutmeg and bring to the boil. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring now and again,
  3. Spoon into an oven proof dish, being careful not to break up the potatoes too much and trying to arrange them in an even layer.
  4. Season the liquid left in the pan with salt and pepper to taste, then pour over the potatoes.
  5. Sprinkle over the cheese, put into the oven and bake uncovered for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The creamy liquid in the potatoes should reduce and thicken, but not go dry.
An image of roasted chermoula cauliflower wedges with kale and green mango salad

Chermoula Cauliflower Wedges with Kale & Mango Salad

There was a craze for cauliflower steaks, but you only get about 2 good slices from the middle of a cauliflower, so I’ve done wedges instead. A lovely supper for a warm spring day.

Serves 4

1 medium cauliflower

4 tbsp chermoula paste (I used Belazu)

1 tbsp oil

½ bag shredded kale

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp wine vinegar

¼ tsp Dijon mustard

pinch dried mixed herbs

1 little gem lettuce, sliced

1 unripe mango

100g feta cheese, sliced into 8 pieces

1 small red onion, finely sliced

2 tbsp red wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7.
  2. Finely slice the red onion, mix with the red wine vinegar and sugar, set aside
  3. Cut through the stem of the cauliflower to make 8 wedges. Mix the chermoula paste with the oil and rub over the wedges. Put into a baking tin in a single layer and put into the oven for 15 mins.
  4. Mix the olive oil, wine vinegar, Dijon mustard & mixed herbs together to make a dressing. Pick over the kale, removing any large pieces of stalk. Drizzle over the dressing and massage it well into the kale for 30 seconds to help it soften.
  5. Peel the mango and slice the flesh into matchsticks, mix into the kale.
  6. Once the cauliflower has baked for 15 mins, remove from the oven, lay the feta slices over the wedges and return to the oven for 3 minutes.
  7. To serve, mix the little gem lettuce into the kale and mango salad, divide onto 4 plates.
  8. Remove the cauliflower from the oven and place 2 wedges on top of the salad on each plate.
  9. Drain and discard the vinegar from the red onion, garnish each plate with a few onion slices.

Nettle Soup

Butter beans give this soup a lovely smooth creaminess, you could also use a couple of potatoes, just cook for a little longer.

2 cupped handfuls nettle tips, washed & drained

2 cans butterbeans or 375g dried beans, soaked and cooked.

1 large onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, skinned

Chicken or vegetable stock to cover

1 tbsp oil

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot, fry the chopped onion & garlic for a few minutes to soften.
  2. Add the nettles and butter beans, stir and add the stock.
  3. Bring to the boil, simmer for 10 mins, then blend to smooth.
  4. Season to taste and serve.
An image of liver served with mash, roast veg and greens

Lamb’s Liver with Chilli Oil, Mash, Roasted Vegetables and Greens

Liver tends to get forgotten about, a lot of people are squeamish about it, but it’s highly nutritious, very quick to cook and makes a lighter change to steak or chops. Mash is a great accompaniment.

Serves 1


150g lamb’s liver, membrane removed

1 medium potato, peeled & cubed

50g celeriac, peeled & cubed

1 tsp chilli oil

1 medium beetroot, cut into wedges

1 medium carrot, cut into chunky slices

Small bunch of greens or kale, sliced

1 tbsp flour

Salt & pepper

2 tsp oil

5g butter

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Toss the beetroot and carrot in a little oil with salt & pepper put into a roasting tin and roast in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes.
  3. Put the potato and celeriac into a pan with a lid, add enough water to just cover, bring to the boil and simmer until tender. Remove from the heat, drain, mash, season and keep warm.
  4. Steam the greens, then mix with the butter. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. On a plate, mix salt and pepper into the flour, dust the liver slices in the flour.
  6. Heat a small frying pan with a little oil, when just smoking, add the liver and fry for about 30 seconds to 1 minute each side. The liver should still be pink. Drizzle over the chilli oil. Remove from the heat.
  7. To serve, put a spoonful of mash onto a plate with the roasted vegetables, arrange the liver slices on top of the mash and top with the greens.
An image of fillet of salmon cooked in a parcel with pistachio & lime couscous

Salmon Parcels with Pistachio & Lime Couscous

Cooking the fish in a parcel seals in all the juices and aromas which in turn flavours the couscous.

Serves 4

4 salmon fillets

1 mug couscous

1 mug water

1 tsp vegetable stock powder

4 spring onions, finely sliced

Rind and juice of 1 lime

50g pistachio nuts

2 tbsp olive oil

Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas7
  2. Bring the water to boiling in a pan with a lid, add the vegetable stock powder, stir and add the couscous. Stir again, put the lid onto the pan and remove from the heat. Allow to sit for 10 minutes.
  3. Remove the lid from the pan, add the sliced spring onions, pistachio nuts, lime rind and juice and olive oil. Stir to combine and season to taste with salt & pepper.
  4. Cut 4 large squares of non stick baking parchment or foil, divide the couscous onto the middle of each square.
  5. Place a piece of salmon on top of each pile of couscous, season well with salt & pepper and fold the edges of the paper together to make sealed parcels.
  6. Place the parcels onto a baking sheet and put into the oven for 10 – 12 mins. Remove from the oven and serve in the parcels.
An image of a pan of butterless butter chicken

Butterless Butter Chicken

I wanted to make butter chicken, but wanted to cut down the calories as recipes usually contain a lot of butter and cream. I used full fat Greek yogurt instead and although it’s probably not authentic, it got the thumbs up and ‘please make this again’ from family.

Serves 4


4 garlic cloves

5cm piece root ginger

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp ground turmeric

½ tsp chilli powder

1 tsp ground cumin

½ tsp salt

75g full fat Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lime

800g boneless, skinless chicken thighs (2 each)

  1. Finely grate the ginger and garlic into a large bowl, mix with the spices, yogurt & lime juice. Add the chicken and mix well so that all the surfaces are covered with the marinade. Cover and marinate for up to 4 hours.


2 cloves garlic

2 cm piece of root ginger

1 tbsp oil

1 tin of tomatoes, pureed

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp garam masala

½ tsp chilli powder

¼ tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground turmeric

1 tbsp desiccated coconut

100g full fat Greek yogurt

Juice of ½ lemon

Salt & pepper

2 tbsp coriander leaves roughly chopped

  1. Finely grate the garlic and root ginger. Heat the oil in a wide based pan and fry gently for a couple of minutes. Add the spices, stir them round and add the pureed tomatoes. Simmer for 10 minutes.
  2. Heat the grill to high, lay the pieces of chicken on a baking sheet or roasting tin and grill for a few minutes each side until the marinade has started to brown around the edges and char a little.
  3. Transfer the chicken to the sauce, along with any excess marinade left on the baking sheet. Stir well, put a lid on the pan and simmer gently for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through.
  4. Stir through the yogurt, lemon juice and most of the coriander. Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary. Serve with rice, sprinkle over the remaining coriander leaves as a garnish.
A bowl of beetroot and ginger soup

Beetroot & Ginger Soup

This is a lighter soup for those spring days that are on the chilly side.

Serves 6

450g raw beetroot, topped, tailed & chopped

2 carrots, roughly chopped

2 small onions, roughly chopped

2 sticks celery, roughly chopped

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 tbsp grated root ginger

2 tsp ground ginger

1 ltr chicken or vegetable stock

150ml half fat crème fraiche or double cream

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp oil

  1. Put the chopped beetroot, onion, carrot, celery & potatoes into a heavy based pan with the oil and fry gently for a few minutes to soften and start to colour.
  2. Add the grated & ground ginger, stir and pour over the stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 20 mins.
  3. Blend with a stick blender or liquidiser, stir in most of the crème fraiche or cream, keeping a little back for garnish and adjust the seasoning.
  4. Ladle into bowls, swirl through an extra teaspoon of cream and sprinkle with a few chopped chives.
A dish of lemon & dill stuffed squid

Lemon & Dill Stuffed Squid

Squid is in season April/May time, it’s caught locally and is a welcome springtime change to casserole.

Serves 4


4 squid bodies approx. 20cm long

1 large onion, finely chopped

3 dessert spoons breadcrumbs

2 tbsp chopped dill

Rind of 1 lemon

Salt & pepper

1 tbsp oil

  1. Clean the squid if necessary, reserve the bodies and chop the wings and tentacles.
  2. Heat the oil in a heavy based pan, fry the onion gently for a few minutes until soft. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Mix the cooled onion with the chopped squid, breadcrumbs, dill, lemon rind, salt & pepper.
  4. Spoon into the squid body cavities and secure the open ends with a cocktail stick. Set aside.


1 small onion, finely chopped

12 – 15 cherry tomatoes, halved

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tbsp capers

1 tbsp gherkins, chopped

1 glass white wine

Juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp oil

1 tbsp dill

Sprinkling of paprika

  1. Heat the oil in a large frying pan or sautee pan with a lid, fry the onion for a few minutes until softened and beginning to colour.
  2. Add the halved cherry tomatoes and cook again for a few minutes, then stir in the capers and gherkins.
  3. Move the contents of the pan to one side, increase the heat a little and add the squid to the pan. Fry for a few minutes either side to colour and cook.
  4. Pour the wine into the pan, bubble, stir in the tomato puree then reduce the heat to a simmer, put the lid on the pan and cook gently for 20 minutes, turning the squid half way through.
  5. Once time is up, remove the squid from the sauce and keep warm. Turn the heat up, add the lemon juice to the pan and bubble the sauce to thicken it a little. Season with salt, pepper and half of the dill.
  6. To serve, slice the squid at a 45 degree angle into about 5 slices, arrange on plates with a spoonful of sauce. Sprinkle over the remaining dill and a little paprika to finish.
A bowl of mussel & sweetcorn chowder

Mussel & Sweetcorn Chowder

I made this at the end of week 2 of the Covid19 lockdown. I was finding it difficult to get vegetables and although the fishmonger was open, he only had salmon & mussels. So this was what I had to work with!

Serves 4


1 onion, chopped

70g chorizo sausage, chopped

2 sticks celery, chopped

2 cobs of sweetcorn, kernals removed

2 large potatoes, peeled & chopped

1 tbsp oil

500g mussels, cleaned

Salt & pepper

  1. Put 5mm water in the bottom of a large pan with a lid. Add the mussels, put onto a high heat and steam until cooked. Remove from the heat, allow to cool, then remove the mussel meat from the shells and chop, reserving a few whole ones for garnish. Reserve the cooking liquid.
  2. Heat the oil in another pot, add the onion and celery, fry for a few minutes to soften. Add the chorizo and fry for a few minutes more.
  3. Add the sweetcorn and potatoes, stir in the cooking liquid from the mussels and top up with water to just cover the vegetables if necessary. Bring to the boil, simmer for 20 minutes, then add the chopped mussels.
  4. Season to taste and serve with crusty bread.
A dish of roasted vegetables with red pepper sauce

Roasted Vegetables with Red Pepper Sauce

Give your vegetables a lift with this sauce which reduces and flavours the vegetables as it cooks.

Serves 2


160g squash, cut into cubes or slices

230g cauliflower, cut into large florets

160g broccoli, cut into large florets

1 small onion, cut into wedges

1 red pepper

20ml oil

2 cloves garlic

½ tsp chilli flakes

½ tsp smoked paprika

Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6.
  2. Puree the red pepper, garlic and oil together in a food processor or blender.
  3. Mix well with the vegetables, sprinkle over the smoked paprika, chilli flakes, salt & pepper.
  4. Bake for 30mins, stirring everything round after 15 mins. The vegetables should be tender with crispy, browned edges.
A bowl of butterbean soup with chorizo gremolata

Butterbean Soup with Chorizo Gremolata

I used to hate butter beans with a passion, we used to have them for school lunch – a big dish of flavourless white beans. I now love them, they give soup a beautiful creamy texture. Gremolata is an Italian garnish, stirred in at the last moment.

Serves 4

250g dried butter beans, soaked & cooked or 2 tins, drained

100g chorizo sausage, chopped. I like the spicy one

2 small onions, roughly chopped

2 cloves garlic, skinned & left whole

¼ tsp ground turmeric

2 tsp harissa paste, or 1 tsp chilli flakes

½ tsp ground cumin

2 tbsp olive oil

Rind & juice of 1 lemon

Handful of parsley, chopped

500ml chicken stock

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based pot, add the chopped onions & whole cloves of garlic. Fry for a few minutes to soften and colour slightly.
  2. Add the harissa paste, turmeric & cumin, stir everything together and add the butter beans and stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.
  3. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat, add the chorizo and fry until crispy. Remove from the heat and strain off as much of the oil as possible. Stir through the lemon rind, juice and parsley.
  4. Blend the soup with a stick blender or liquidiser until smooth. Season to taste, then ladle into bowls and top with the chorizo gremolata.