The Month of May – We’re nearly half way through the year!

When I think of May, I conjure images of fresh green leaves on trees, bulbs replaced with summer bedding, new season strawberries, asparagus, gooseberries, herbs and Jersey Royal potatoes!

It’s the beginning of abundance in the garden with everything growing furiously (including the weeds).

Nights can still be cold with a touch of frost and there is often a stiff east wind to keep everyone cool.

‘Ne’er cast a clout til May is oot’ rings true on many levels.

You’ll see dishes lightening up this month with lots of salads, lemons and other spring vegetables.

This is what I’ve been making in May, enjoy!

A bowl of roast gingered rhubarb served with ice cream

Baked Gingered Rhubarb

Rhubarb and ginger go perfectly together in this super easy pudding to have with ice cream or yogurt.

Serves 4

500g rhubarb

50g caster sugar

1 tsp ground ginger

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Cut the rhubarb into finger length pieces, put into an oven proof dish with the sugar and ground ginger. Toss everything together and spread the rhubarb out in a single layer.
  3. Cover the dish with foil and roast in the oven for 10 to 15 minutes or until just starting to soften.
  4. Remove the foil, turn the pieces of rhubarb over and return to the oven to bake for a further 5 minutes or until the rhubarb is tender and the juices are beginning to run.
  5. Divide into bowls and serve with ice cream or yogurt.

Leek & Arbroath Smokie Soup

Arbroath smokies are delicious, use undyed smoked haddock if you can’t get them.

Serves 6

400g potatoes

2 large leeks

2 Arbroath smokies

15g butter

1 ½ ltrs whole milk

2 tsp vegetable stock powder

Handful of parsley, chopped

  1. Clean and cut the leeks into 5mm slices, cut the potatoes into 1cm cubes.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy based pot and add the leeks and potatoes. Fry gently to soften, stirring from time to time.
  3. Pour the milk into the pan, add the stock powder and bring to a simmer. Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 20mins.
  4. Remove the meat from the smokies, pick through it carefully to remove the bones, trying to keep the fish flesh in bite size chunks. Set aside the flesh and discard the skin and bones.
  5. Once the soup has simmered for 20 mins, mash well with a potato masher, or blitz to smooth with a blender.
  6. Add the smokie flesh to the pan and simmer on a low heat for 10 mins.
  7. Taste and add salt & pepper if needed. Stir through the chopped parsley.
an image of butternut squash hummus with seeded flatbread

Butternut Squash Hummus

I had a butternut squash in the fridge and wanted to make a change from soup for lunch. This is a winner!

Serves 4

600g butternut squash

2 tbsp olive oil

½ tsp ground cinnamon

Salt & pepper

2 tsp harissa paste

40g tahini

70g Greek yogurt

1 clove garlic, smashed & peeled

50g feta cheese

Coriander leaves to garnish

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Peel, deseed and dice the squash into approx 2cm pieces. Put into a roasting tin, sprinkle over the ground cinnamon, season with salt & pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and toss everything together well. Put into the oven and roast for 30mins.
  3. Remove from the oven and tip the roasted squash into a food processor, add the harissa paste, tahini, yogurt and garlic. Pulse until you have a coarse puree. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.
  4. Tip onto a serving plate, swirl with the back of a spoon, crumble over the feta cheese & finish with a few coriander leaves. Serve with flat bread, vegetable sticks or savoury biscuits.
Salmon fillet marinated in hoisin sauce served on edamame rice

Hoisin Marinated Salmon with Edamame Rice

This is delicious, the hoisin sauce is slightly sweet, while the lime adds a sour note.

Serves 1

1 salmon fillet

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

1 tbsp sweet chilli sauce

Zest & juice of 1 lime


¼ mug fragrant or basmati rice

¼ mug water

½ mug edamame beans

1 spring onion

¼ tsp salt

¼ tsp black onion seeds

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Mix the hoisin & sweet chilli sauces with the zest & juice of the lime. Put the salmon into an oven proof dish, brush or smear the marinade all over the salmon. Set aside for 10 minutes.
  3. Wash the rice, put into a small pan with the water, cover with a tight fitting lid, bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and cook for 10minutes.
  4. Boil a kettle and pour boiling water over the edamame beans. Drain and set aside. Slice the spring onion finely.
  5. Once the rice is cooked, put the edamame beans, spring onion, salt and black onion seeds into the pan. Stir well, then cover with a lid and allow to sit.
  6. Put the salmon into the oven and roast for 10 to 12 minutes.
  7. Remove from the oven, pile the rice onto a plate, top with the salmon and serve.
A bowl of Cream of Squash & Carrot Soup

Cream of Roasted Squash, Carrot & Rosemary Soup

I don’t often make a cream soup, but sometimes carrots need something to give them body and make them less ‘carroty’. I don’t particularly like carrot & orange or carrot & coriander soup, so I cooked them here with squash to give thickness and rosemary for flavour. The cream just finishes the soup nicely.

Serves 6

600g squash, peeled & cubed

600g carrots, scrubbed & sliced

1 onion, roughly chopped

1 ltr vegetable or chicken stock

10g rosemary leaves, chopped

100ml double cream

Salt & pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Put the onion, squash & carrots into a roasting tin, drizzle with oil, sprinkle over salt & pepper and toss to coat everything. Put into the oven and roast for 20mins. Remove stir everything round and roast for another 10mins.
  3. Tip the roasted vegetables into a large pot, add the stock and rosemary. Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 mins.
  4. Puree with a blender, add the cream, bring back to the boil and check the seasoning before serving.
An image of steam fried cabbage with quinoa

Steamed Cabbage & Quinoa

Very quick and easy to make a nice accompaniment to the Spice Crusted Chicken

Serves 4

1 mug quinoa

1 mug water

1 tsp vegetable bouillon

1 medium onion, sliced

½ cabbage or spring greens, sliced

1 tbsp oil

  1. Put the quinoa, water and vegetable stock powder into a small pan with a lid. Bring to the boil, turn down to a low simmer and cook for 10mins. Once time is up, allow to sit with the lid on the pan until needed.
  2. Heat the oil in a large frying pan, add the onion and fry gently to soften and brown a little. Add the cabbage or spring greens, mix the with onions and add a splash of water. Put a lid on the frying pan and steam for 2 – 4 mins, just until the cabbage is tender but still bright green.
  3. Tip the quinoa into the cabbage mixture. Mix everything well, adjust the seasoning and serve.
An image of Greek Style cod fillet

Greek Style Cod Fillets

This is a great way to cook cod or any thick fish fillets. A delicious, summery main course.

Serves 4

4 fillets of cod

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

Juice of 1 lemon

5 tbsp olive oil + 2 Tbsp for frying

15g butter, melted

60g plain flour

2 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp salt

1 tsp pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Mix the lemon juice, olive oil & melted butter together.
  3. Mix the flour, spices, salt & pepper together.
  4. Pat the cod dry with kitchen paper, dip in the lemon & oil mixture, then roll in the spiced flour.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan and when shimmering hot (not smoking), add the fish fillets and fry gently for 2 to 3 minutes each side.
  6. Mix the garlic and parsley into the remaining lemon and oil.
  7. Remove the cod fillets from the pan onto a baking sheet with sides, drizzle over the lemon, oil, garlic & parsley mixture and put into the oven for 10 minutes.
  8. When ready, remove from the oven and serve with potatoes and vegetables or salad.
A bowl of Kerelan spiced vegetables with poached eggs

Kerelan Vegetables

This is a delicious way to jazz up cabbage or any vegetables, I like mine with poached eggs on top.

Serves 1

1 tbsp oil

1 tsp black mustard seed

½ tsp cumin seed

Pinch chilli flakes

1 tbsp root ginger, finely grated

¼ tsp ground turmeric

125g cabbage, sliced

1 med carrot, cut into 5mm dice

50g fresh or frozen grated coconut

1 green chilli, sliced (optional)

Salt & pepper

2 – 3 poached eggs (optional)

  1. Heat the oil in a heavy based frying pan on a medium high heat. Add the mustard seed & when it starts to pop, add the cumin seed and chilli flakes.
  2. Reduce the heat a little, add the ginger & turmeric.
  3. Stir, then add the sliced cabbage and diced carrot.
  4. Stir & mix everything well, add a splash of water to the pan, put a lid on the pan and leave to steam for 5mins.
  5. Stir through the green chilli and coconut, taste for seasoning and serve.
A plate of pork, leek & apple pie

Pork, Leek & Apple Pie

I wasn’t going to include this recipe, because I was using a lot of ingredients up, but the result was really good, so here it is!

Serves 4

500g minced pork

1 tbsp oil

2 medium leeks, cleaned & sliced

1 dessert apple, cored & diced

2 medium fresh tomatoes, diced

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)

Salt & pepper

1 tsp cornflour

4 medium floury potatoes, peeled & cubed

5g butter

Splash of milk

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Boil the potatoes, once tender, mash with the butter, splash of milk, salt & pepper.
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a heavy based pan over a high heat. Fry the pork mince, mashing with a fork to remove any lumps.
  4. Add the leeks, apple and tomatoes, simmer for 10 minutes to soften.
  5. Add the garlic and chilli flakes, mix the cornflour with a tablespoon on water and stir through. Season well with salt & pepper.
  6. Tip the mince into an oven proof dish, top with the mashed potato and put into the oven for about 20 minutes to heat everything through and crisp up the potato top.
  7. Serve with vegetables or on its own.
A salad of Seared Scallops with Watercress dressing

Salad of Seared Scallops with Watercress Dressing & Crispy Sage

I treated myself to scallops one night, they were huge, so I only needed 3!

Serves 1

Good handful salad leaves

½ small avocado

6 cherry tomatoes

3 – 5 scallops depending on their size

4 sage leaves

Big handful of watercress

Olive oil as needed

Salt & pepper

Juice of ½ lemon

  1. Put the watercress into a blender and blend to smooth, adding olive oil as you go to make a dressing consistency. Season with salt & pepper, set aside.
  2. Put the salad leaves on a plate, cut the avocado into chunks and scatter over.
  3. Halve the cherry tomatoes.
  4. Pat the scallops dry with kitchen paper, if they are very big, remove any roe and halve them across the middle. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small frying pan, add the cherry tomatoes and sizzle for a minute. Add the sage leaves and fry gently on both sides. Spoon the tomatoes out of the pan and arrange over the salad leaves. Remove the sage from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
  6. Put in the scallops in to the pan and cook for 1 minute on each side, squeeze over the lemon juice and allow it to bubble and make a sauce with the other pan juices. Remove from the heat, arrange the scallops over the salad, drizzle over the pan juices, crumble over the sage leaves. Drizzle with a few spoonfuls of watercress dressing and serve.
An image of peanut butter biscuits on a black slate

Peanut Butter Biscuits

These are really easy to make & didn’t hang around for long!

Makes about 15

85g butter

110g soft light brown sugar

1 egg

225g plain flour

½ tsp baking powder

140g crunchy peanut butter

  1. Heat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas5
  2. Cream the butter and peanut butter together, beat in the sugar, then the egg.
  3. Stir through the flour & baking powder to make a soft dough.
  4. Line a baking sheet with non-stick parchment. Use a dessert spoon to measure spoonfuls of dough, roll into balls and place on the baking sheet.
  5. With damp fingers, press each ball flat, then go over the middle of each biscuit with the back of the prongs of a fork, pressing into the dough to make lines.
  6. Put into the oven and bake for 12 – 15 minutes or until the biscuits are golden top and bottom.
  7. Cool an a cooling rack and eat when cold.
An image of sliced breast of chicken with lemon & tarragon sauce

Lemon & Tarragon Roast Chicken

Roast chicken is one of those comfort foods that never fail. I roasted this one with lemon & garden tarragon. Don’t forget to keep the bones and any left over scraps to make delicious stock for soup!

Serves 4

1 large chicken

1 chicken stock cube

1 lemon

30g tarragon

150ml white wine

150ml water

Black pepper

  1. Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas4.
  2. Put the chicken breast side down in a roasting tin or high sided pot with a lid (I have a Le Creuset casserole which I use).
  3. Cut the lemon into quarters, squeeze the juice over the chicken and use 2 to stuff into the cavity and 2 to sit in the roasting tin or pot.
  4. Stuff half of the tarragon into the chicken’s cavity and scatter the remainder into the roasting tin or pot.
  5. Crumble the stock cube around the chicken, pour over the glasses of wine and water. Grind over some black pepper.
  6. Cover the roasting tin with foil or put the lid on the pot and put into the oven. Depending on the size of your chicken, roast for 40mins per kilo or the amount specified on the chicken’s packaging.
  7. Once time is up, remove the chicken from the oven and allow to rest in a warm place for 15 to 20 minutes.
  8. Strain off the cooking juices into a small pan, bring back to the boil, removing any fat that rises to the surface. Thicken with a little cornflour if necessary, taste for seasoning and keep warm while you portion the chicken onto plates. Serve with the gravy either on the side or poured over the top.
A bowl of spring sweet potato & ginger soup

Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

A beautiful light and flavoursome soup for a cool spring day.

Serves 6

1 kg sweet potatoes, peeled & roughly chopped

1 large onion, roughly chopped

1 tin coconut milk

1 ltr chicken or vegetable stock

1 clove garlic

2 tbsp fresh ginger, finely grated

¼ tsp turmeric

¼ tsp chilli flakes

1 tsp paprika

2 tsp ground ginger

  1. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a heavy based pot, add the onion and sweet potato & fry gently for a few minutes, stirring now and again.
  2. Add the fresh ginger & garlic, turmeric, chilli flakes, paprika & ground ginger, stir well, making sure all the vegetables are coated, then add the stock and coconut milk.
  3. Bring to the boil, put a lid on the pan and simmer for 20 mins.
  4. Blitz with a blender, season with salt & pepper, serve.
an image of seeded flat bread

Seeded Flatbread

The onion & sesame seeds in this flatbread make the flavour. Don’t scrimp on the salt either

Makes 6

200g self-raising flour

200g natural yogurt

1 tbsp black onion seeds

1 tbsp sesame seeds

½ tsp salt

  1. Mix the flour, yogurt and salt and seeds together to a soft dough, add a little water if it’s too dry.
  2. Knead lightly and divide into 6 pieces.
  3. Heat a heavy based frying pan over a medium heat.
  4. Roll out each ball of dough on a lightly floured surface to a round approx. the same diameter as the base of the frying pan.
  5. Remove excess flour from the dough by flapping the rolled-out disk between your hands a couple of times, then flip it into the bottom of the frying pan. Cook for 1 ½ to 2 minutes each side.
  6. Remove and wrap in a cloth to keep warm while you make the remaining bread.
A dish of Spice crusted chicken breast

Spice Crusted Chicken Breast

Sometimes you just want a piece of roasted meat without a sauce. Adding a rub to chicken breasts gives them flavour without the surface drying out too much. I served mine with steamed quinoa cabbage.

Serves 4

4 chicken breasts, each approx. 150g in weight

1 tsp fennel seed

1 tsp cumin seed

1 tsp coriander seed

2 cloves

1 tsp fenugreek seed

1 tsp black peppercorns

½ tsp salt

Drizzle of olive oil

  1. Heat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas6
  2. Toast the spices in a dry frying pan for a few seconds until the aromas are released. Tip them into a mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Once cool, grind to a rough powder.
  3. Slash the chicken breasts a couple of times with a knife, drizzle over the olive oil and rub over the chicken.
  4. Sprinkle over the spices, getting it into the slashes in the chicken.
  5. Put into the oven and roast for 20mins. Remove and allow the chicken to sit for 10 mins before slicing and serving with vegetables or salad.

Seabass, Caper, Preserved Lemon & Chilli Salsa Dressing

I made this as a dressing for barbecued seabass. They fell to pieces a bit taking them off the barbecue, but tasted delicious! If it’s not barbecue weather, cook the fish under a grill.

Serves 4


1 tbsp capers, drained & chopped

Juice of ½ lemon

1 red chilli, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

2 tbsp olive oil

5g mint leaves, finely shredded

1 tbsp preserved lemon, finely chopped

1 tsp chives

12 – 16 new potatoes, boiled

4 large ripe tomatoes

4 fillets of seabass

  1. Put all the dressing ingredients into a bowl and mix well.
  2. Soak 3 or 4 bamboo skewers and thread the potatoes onto them. Brush with a little oil.
  3. Slice the tomatoes and arrange on a large platter. Drizzle over half of the dressing.
  4. Cook the potatoes for 2 – 3 minutes each side on the barbecue or under the grill, turning to stop them getting too brown.
  5. Rub the fish with a little oil and put them skin down onto the barbecue, cook for about 1 minute, or until you start to see the flesh around the edges start to go opaque. Carefully turn over, cook for another 30 seconds, then lift off, put onto the tomatoes and drizzle with the remaining dressing.
  6. Serve each person some slice tomatoes with a fillet of fish and 3 or 4 potatoes.