Category Archives: tom kerridge

Creamy butternut squash pasta bake


I’ve never been fond of Macaroni Cheese, I’m not sure why, but this dish has never appealed to me, but after mooching through Tom Kerridge’s book, A Fresh Start, I saw this recipe for Creamy Butternut Squash pasta bake. I like butternut squash, so I thought I would give it a go.



575 calories per serving

  • 1kg butternut squash, cut into chunks (about 2 cm)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 500g macaroni
  • Sea salt and fresh ground black pepper

For the cheese sauce

  • 60g butter
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 60g Parmesan, finely grated
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the topping

  • A handful of sage leaves
  • 40g sun-blushed tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin oil (or use olive oil)
  • 2 tbsp pumpkin seeds

How did I get on?

The first thing that needed to be done was to cut the butternut squash into chunks. So for that, I called upon my husband, or rather my husband volunteered as he didn’t want to see me chop my fingers off!  Here’s how he got on:

After he had cut up the butternut squash, not quite as fast as in the video, we put it on a roasting tray, drizzled it with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper, where it cooked on the top shelf for 25 minutes at 220ºC/Gas 7.

Once it was cooked and cooled, then comes my favourite part, you put three quarters into a blender and blitz it together.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the macaroni until al dente.

For the sauce, melt the better, add the floured stir for one minute. Then add the milk and whisk until it thickens slightly. Then add the Parmesan and nutmeg and stir until the cheese has melted. Grab your butternut squash puree and stir it through. That’s the most difficult part over with!


Drain the macaroni, add to the sauce and stir well. Tip into a deep baking dish and scatter over the rest of the butternut squash, sage, sun-blushed tomatoes and breadcrumbs. Drizzle with the oil.

This is placed in the middle shelf of the one, turning on the oven grill at the same time (I have to admit, I forgot to do this!).

Bake for ten minutes and then take out and scatter the pumpkins seeds evenly over the surface and return to the oven for a further five minutes.


The finished dish

This dish was very tasty, a change from your normal macaroni cheese dish. It wasn’t hard to prepare, the most tricky bit being the sauce. There wasn’t much preparation apart from the butternut squash, so once you had prepared and roasted this, the rest didn’t take very long at all.

This makes enough for six people, so if that’s too much, you can freeze it and just defrost it and put it in the oven for about 30 minutes.





Five-spiced Duck Salad



This is probably the simplest recipe that we have tried so far…  Again, it’s from his Fresh Start recipe book.



  • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 4 duck breasts, skin on

For the salad

  • 100g watercress, any tough stems removed
  • 2 little gem lettuces, trimmed and leaves separated
  • ½ cucumber, halved and sliced at an angle
  • 12 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 handfuls of beansprouts
  • 1 long red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
  • 4 ripe plums or peaches, stoned and cut into slim wedges

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp. light soy sauce
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • 1 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp. light olive oil
  • Juice of 1/2 lime.

How did I get on?

The first thing to do was to mix salt and the Chinese five-spice powder together in a small bowl, pat the skin dry with a paper towel and score with a sharp knife and rub in the spiced salt.

duck2The next step was to cook the duck, skin side down, in an ovenproof frying pan on a medium to low heat for about 10 to 15 minutes.

There should be an app whereby you can smell photographs  because this smelt so good!

Whilst this was cooking, you can make the salad, which is literally putting all the ingredients, sliced and trimmed, for the salad in a large bowl.

You can then make the dressing, again, mixing all the sauces and oils together in a bowl until well combined.

Then you put the duck into an oven at 200 degrees for about 3 to 4 minutes.

Divide the salad between the serving plates and scatter with mint and coriander leaves, carve the duck into thick pieces and lay on top of the salad.


Another simple dish, not unlike the Tamarind Chicken skewers, the dressing for this dish tasted superb, poured over the duck and the salad, plus with the plums, gave this dish a sweet taste to it.  Another variation on a green salad, which was very tasty, I’m loving the addition of fruit to these salads and will be making these in the summer rather than our normal green salad.

Below is a video of this recipe being prepared, very quickly, my husband doesn’t normally work this speedily!!

Tamarind Chicken Skewers with Green Mango Salad

Following on from my Beef Biryani recipe last week, this is again from Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start: How to cook amazing food at home.


750g skinless, boneless chicken thighs
5 tbsp. tamarind paste
3 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. fish sauce
Juice of 1 lime
5 tbsp. brown sugar
4cm piece of fresh ginger, finely grated

For the green mango salad:
750g firm green (unripe) mangoes, peeled
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1-2 long red chillies, thinly sliced
1 1/2 tsp light brown sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. fish sauce
A large handful of coriander leaves: roughly chopped

How did I get on?


The first thing was to cut each of the thighs into quarters and place in a bowl along with the tamarind, soy sauce, fish sauce, lime juice, brown sugar and ginger. (Again I cheated with the ginger and used ginger paste). I mixed it with the chicken and left to marinate in a bowl. It says to marinate for 20 minutes, but I took the dog for a walk whilst it marinated and so it was in for about an hour.

When I got back from the walk, I made the mango salad:

Mango Salad

after cutting the mango flesh away from the stone, I sliced it into strips, put in a bowl, added the shallot, chillies (I used one), brown sugar, juice of a lime and fish sauce – I didn’t add much fish sauce as I’m not a huge fan of the taste. Then I added the coriander, which gave the salad a wonderful boost of flavour.

I then retrieved the chicken pieces out of the marinade and threaded the chunks onto a skewer.

Chicken skewers ready to go in the oven


Tom’s recipe says to griddle them over a medium heat, but we don’t possess one, so instead we put them in the oven. I know you don’t get the charring in the oven, but we didn’t have a choice.

They were in the oven for about 25 minutes at 180 degrees.

Ready to eat!


Once out of the oven, plate them on a warm dish, serve with lime wedges for squeezing over and the mango salad alongside.






Tamarind chicken skewers and mango salad plated up

A very simple dish to make and there’s not a huge list of ingredients. The mango salad was delicious, it tasted very refreshing and a nice change from our normal green salad that usually accompanies something like this. I think it would be a great addition to a barbecue and we are definitely going to do this when the sun decides to shine and we can dust off the barbecue. This recipe serves six, but we didn’t use as much chicken as was listed, but we polished off what we did have.

A definite firm favourite in our household!






Beef Biryani

For those of you who have read my blog: My Cooking Background, you will know that my cooking experience is very limited, so here is my step by step account of making Tom Kerridge’s Beef Biryani proving that if a novice like me can make it, anyone can! This is from his book: Tom Kerridge’s Fresh Start: How to cook amazing food at home.


  • 1kg/2lb 4 oz beef mince (10% fat)
  • 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 5cm/2in piece fresh root ginger, finely grated
  • 200g/70ozm madras curry paste
  • 1 tsp hot chilli powder (optional)
  • 500 g/1lb 20z basmati rice
  • 1.5 litres/2 1/2 pints beef stock
  • 200g/7oz courgettes, finely chopped
  • 200g/7oz green beans, cut into 2.5cm/1in lengths
  • 200g/7oz broccoli, cut into very small florets
  • 200g/70z frozen peas


How Did I Get On?

IMG_1525The very first thing I had to do was to put the minced beef on a baking tray and place in the oven for 40 minutes, breaking it up with a wooden spoon every ten minutes, so you need to factor that time in for when you want to eat it.

Whilst the mince is cooking, you can use the time to chop up all the ingredients and as you can see there were quite a few, so that takes a little bit of time.

IMG_1527Once that is all done you can then start on the recipe.  You put the onions into a pan (it says to use a saucepan but I used a large non-stick frying pan) and fry them off until they soften. I put the pan of beef stock (1 1/2 litres) for the basmati rice on at this time as well.

You then add the carrots and after that, the garlic and ginger. I cheated and didn’t use a garlic clove or ginger root, but used the paste instead.  You then add in the Madras curry paste.

IMG_1533Time to add the roasted mince, courgettes, green beans, cauliflower and broccoli. Tom doesn’t mention putting the rice in at this stage, but the clue is when he says, ” Put a lid on the pan and simmer for 8–10 minutes, until the rice and veg are cooked and the liquid is all absorbed.”  So I guessed it must go into the frying pan at this stage.

My mince was a little bit well done, maybe because I have a fan oven it didn’t need to be in there for the full 40 minutes?

IMG_1536I didn’t make the raita from the recipe, instead my husband made his own version with Greek yoghurt, mint and cucumber. The final stage was to add the peas and cook until they were tender.


And there you have it, a homemade beef biryani – with shop bought naan bread, onion bhajis and samosas and of course, no Indian meal is complete without a Cobra to drink!





This was a tasty meal and very filling. The recipe was enough for four people, but I think  it would easily feed more than four, especially if you have naan bread, etc., like we did and if there are any leftovers this meal can be frozen and enjoyed another time:

To freeze, allow to cool, then freeze. Before cooking, defrost fully in the fridge overnight. Add a splash of water and cover loosely with foil, then reheat in an oven preheated to 200C/180C Fan/Gas 6 for 30 minutes, or until hot right through.

There is some preparation to do before you get to the cooking, (cooking the mince and chopping the vegetables) but once this is done, the actual cooking of the meal takes about half an hour.