Stuffed mushrooms with red rice and lentils

Mushrooms cooked with soy sauce – a combination recommended by the mushroom man at Bath’s Saturday farmers’ market – make a great base for this wholesome veggie recipe.

It’s a loose, fresh sort of stuffing rather than a dense one with breadcrumbs. Capers and a splash of vinegar give it a zingy lift (you could use lemon juice instead) and mirin Japanese rice wine adds a depth of flavour that goes brilliantly with the soy sauce.
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How to poach an egg


You know those neat round eggs you see in cookbooks? The ones that look like little balls of mozzarella. I’ve followed so many different instructions to try to make those, with little consistency.

Cracking the egg into a whirlpool of boiling water works maybe one time in three. Sometimes you get so much white spinning off it, there’s hardly anything left at the end.

Adding vinegar to the water – great if you like your eggs to taste pickled.

Cracking them into a non-swirling pan – no, they just sink to the bottom and go flat. How about a poaching pan, or one of those floating silicon pods that look like they’ve been pulled out of a padded bra? This time the egg goes flat on top.

So how is it done? Here’s the answer…
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Courgette and sweetcorn vegetarian fajitas with guacamole and pico de gallo


What’s the difference between a fajita and a burrito? I’m not entirely sure, except one tends to be served in restaurants and the other is fast food. I think this is the former, but forgive me if I’m wrong. To convert it definitively into a burrito, wrap it in tin foil and eat noisily on a bus, depositing any leftovers on the floor for other passengers to slip on.

You need several components for this, and the idea is that everybody wraps the bits they want in their own tortilla and turns their nose up at the rest. Great if you’re catering for fussy eaters.

This recipe makes 6-8 fajitas, depending on how full you stuff them. I know it’s quite a long list of stuff but none of it is any hassle at all.
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All Day Breakfast pizza


If the Bell can do it with nachos, what else could make an unexpectedly excellent pizza topping? This is Sarah’s suggestion, which I cooked up last night and, well… it’s actually pretty good.

It has all the major food groups – sausages, beans, cheese, eggs and bread – so I can assure you that despite appearances to the contrary it’s totally healthy and nutritious. What more could you want?
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The Bell’s unconventional pizzas


Having had a bit of a moan about poor pub food, it’s only right I should mention what is, as far as I’m concerned, the best pub food in Bath.

The Bell on Walcot Street serves four different flatbread pizzas. Two of them are pretty much what you’d expect – the Spanish one has artichoke hearts, the Italian one has olives, and while they’re both very good, you’ve probably had similar elsewhere.

The other two are out of this world. The Turkish one is a cheeseless concoction of tapenade and houmous, served warm, and the Mexican is topped with refried beans and guacamole. Pizza meets nachos. I love it!
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Mushroom, chard and mascarpone crêpes


I sort of accidentally bought a crêpe pan at the weekend. It was an impulse buy (10% off – bargain!) and while I’m sure it’ll come in handy on pancake day, I’d better get some use out of it to justify the expense.

Today was its first outing, and this recipe is designed to make use of some random stuff I found in the fridge. Plus some mascarpone, which I had to buy specially. More expense, but it’s so tasty that I might even make it again tomorrow, if I hadn’t just used up all the chard and mushrooms.
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Mushroom and asparagus pie with roasted carrots and sautéed potatoes


According to the financial experts on this year’s The Apprentice, people won’t eat pies when it’s sunny. Judging by the queues of hungry sunburned people outside the Pieminister stalls at Glastonbury and the scorching Bristol Harbour Festival, those experts were out of touch with today’s all-weather pie-munching Britain.

In this recipe I’ve cheated with a couple of ready-made ingredients, because a) life’s too short to make pastry on a weeknight, and b) a proper chef informed me that Bisto was his restaurant’s secret ingredient, so I’m only doing what bigger boys told me.
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Perfect nachos


Does anybody actually need a recipe for nachos? Judging by the state of what passes for nachos in the average English pub, I’d say perhaps a little re-education is in order.

I went to the Porter recently, a pub in Bath that used to be known for its excellent (and cheap) vegetarian food. A few years ago they did great nachos, with a big pile of soya mince chilli in the middle. It was unsophisticated but it really hit the spot.

Lately, though, the Porter has gone the way of the countless lesser pubs that consider a bag of Doritos with some microwaved cheese on top to be an acceptable substitute for nachos. Okay, so there was a little more to it than that, in the form of a blob of chive-speckled sour cream and a spoonful of watery, metallic ‘chilli’ that tasted exactly like tinned tomatoes. Compared to the nachos of old, it’s pretty awful, and at six quid per portion it’s poor value.

So here’s how to make a superior version using basic supermarket ingredients, with very little effort and almost no cooking required.
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