Lamb Sweetbreads and Early Summer Veg with Sheep’s Curd

Despite telling her many times, Glen’s mum still insists that sweetbreads are lamb’s bollocks, they’re not. Sweetbreads are the thymus or pancreatic glands from lambs and calves. This recipe uses the thymus glands from the neck of Spring lambs, their season is short so as soon as they start to arrive in my butchers I stock up the freezer.

They take a little bit of preparation but they really are worth it. Sweetbreads have a wonderfully creamy texture and delicate lamb flavour. Being quite fatty I tend to serve them with a squeeze of lemon if cooking them on the BBQ or like this dish, I make a zesty green sauce. The sheep’s curd is from Homewood Cheeses and it’s light creamy saltiness really makes the dish.


  • lamb sweetbreads
  • unsalted butter
  • 2 shallots
  • good stock, I use veg or a very light chicken stock (Essential Cuisine is perfect as its powdered so you can control exactly how concentrated it is)
  • young veg such as baby new potatoes, chanternay carrots, asparagus, peas, lettuce, broad beans
  • dried sliced garlic (or fresh)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh sheep’s curd, fennel fronds and pea shoots to serve

For the green sauce:

  • parsley
  • mint
  • juice and zest of 1 lemon
  • olive oil
  • 1/4 finely chopped red chilli
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped capers
  • salt and pepper


  1. To prepare the sweetbreads soak them for a few hours in cold water, changing it a couple of times to remove any blood. Then peel away the membrane surrounding the sweetbread and discard.
  2. Finely chop your shallots and gently sweat off on the butter. Add your stock, garlic slivers and the sturdier veg such as the new potatoes followed by the carrots etc. You want all your veg to be just cooked and still with a bit of bite to your carrots and pop to your peas. Depending on the size of your sweetbreads they should take about 7 minutes to poach so pop them in too. Check for seasoning.
  3. Whilst your sweetbreads are poaching prepare your sauce. Finely chop everything and combine.
  4. Serve the poached sweetbreads and veg in their own broth, scatter with fennel fronds, pea shoots and dollops of green sauce.

I also made a liquorice foam to place on the sweetbreads which you can just about make out in the photo but I preferred it with the mint foam that I made for the second time I made this, not essential but just added another layer of delicate flavour.

BBC Radio Leicester: I take Ben Jackson to Melton Farmer’s Market

A few of the things you will find at the market during the course of the year

There is SO much more to Melton Mowbray than pork pies and stilton cheese, not that you  ever hear about all the other wonderful producers around here.  The town’s PR people concentrate so heavily on these 2 products and just seem to ignore the rest, and for me it’s “the rest” that actually makes Melton so special. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good pork pie (preferably with lots of trotter jelly, a good crust and plenty of black pepper) but you only hear about one shop that sells them in a town where actually, each different butchers sells a different pie.  My Butchers (Derek Jones) sell Baileys pies who were featured in Jamie Oliver’s Channel 4 show Great Britiain which highlighted Britain’s best producers. Another butcher sells Walkers pies who actually won the best Melton Mowbray Pork Pie category at the 2012 British Pie Awards (also held in Melton Mowbray).

I took Ben Jackson from BBC Radio Leicester along to the farmer’s market near my cottage to show him how fantastic not only the food scene in Melton is but also how vibrant and wonderful our Tuesday market is. Its’s a real farmer’s market where you can buy a herd of cattle, a flock of sheep, some wild boar and pheasants along side your bread, home-made butter, veg plants for the garden, home cured bacon and antique furniture!

Maria’s butter and boxes of local mushrooms and game birds

You can hear our trip around the market here, it is 1 hr 39mins in from the start of the programme *WARNING: a courgette plant was harmed in the recording of this broadcast*

Bidding at the game auction and my partridges and pheasants from earlier in the year

I then took him down through the town market to the Fish Man who travels from the Grimsby fish market every Tuesday morning and has the freshest, most beautiful array of fish and shell fish. He had some wonderful wild sea trout from Scotland and plenty of bright green salty samphire which just had to be bought!

I then took Ben to Coco Cakes to meet “the Cake Lady” (also known as Jane) who makes the best chocolate fudge you will EVER taste, sadly she didn’t have any ready though as she had literally just popped it in the fridge to set – sad times.  Luckily her shop is about 20 seconds from the end of my lane though so fudge crisis averted.

A trip to my favourite butchers Derek Jones for some of their incredible home cured and smoked bacon and a few slices of their own haslet and it was time for me to head to work for a day in the kitchen, and Ben to head back to BBC Radio Leicester fully laden with wonderful food goodies, and not a pork pie or piece of stilton in sight.

Smoked Butter and Chicken Risotto

Mondays are usually risotto days at Wyldelight Cottage as we tend to have roast rooster for Sunday lunch. Tonight I tried something a little different and it was bloody lovely so thought I’d do a quick post.

I love smoked Welsh butter. Caernarfon Butter is lovely and salty and when smoked at the Derimon smokehouse on Anglesey it produces the most wonderful creamy, smoky butter that is invaluable in my kitchen. Now I know this is no traditional Italian risotto but it’s delicious never the less as the sweet nutty sherry, smoky salty butter and cheese and fresh lemon and fennel just make my mouth all happy.


  • smoked Welsh butter
  • 1 small onion finely chopped
  • teaspoon fennel seeds
  • Carnaroli rice
  • wineglass of cream sherry
  • homemade chicken stock
  • dried garlic slivers
  • leftover roast rooster
  • chopped fennel fronds
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • freshly ground pepper and sea salt
  • Grana Padano cheese


  1. Have your stock simmering away in a big saucepan. Melt a big knob of smoked butter in a pan, add your fennel seeds then soften your onion.
  2. Add your rice, stir to coat in the butter and gently fry until the rice grains start to crack then add your sherry and give a good stir.  This will quickly be absorbed by the rice.
  3. Start adding your hot stock a ladle full at a time and storing until it is absorbed before adding the next.
  4. When nearly done add your cooked rooster and garlic slivers and stir.
  5. Continue to add the hot stock until the risotto is creamy but still has a bit of bite to it then add another knob of smoked butter and a handful of grated Grana Padano, taste and season before covering and letting it sit for 5 minutes.
  6. Chop some fennel fronds and stir through the risotto just before serving. Plate up, zest the lemon over the top, sprinkle with more fennel, some more Grana Padano and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Radio Leicester food friday: ginger and caramel trifle

The lovely Ben Jackson from BBC Leicester in my kitchen

So every month the wonderful Ben Jackson heads out to my cottage in Melton Mowbray to record a cooking session.  Last time we made my divine Melton Mess which went down a storm with the radio team and listeners so this time I made another really simple dessert, in real time, for people to make this weekend:  I made a rum, ginger, chocolate trifle….yum!

What happens each time is that Ben arrives, we spend about an hour and a half catching up, geeking out about food and inevitably about knives! I was at the BBC Good Food Show on Wednesday and saw the gorgeous Natalie from I.O.Shen knives and came home with the most beautiful new Sahm Khom knife. Now Ben loves a good knife just as much as I do so when he felt it slice through a potato using just it’s own weight it really was love at first slice!

This link will take you to the recording, I am 1hr:42 into the show .Now I’ve just listened to it again as lots of people have sent me messages saying how rude it sounds! Yes, I *may* have sniggered at the name “Willy” but it would seem the whole 10 mins is all a bit naughty…something to do with the sounds of the cream and custard being whipped and our noises….

The mini version with oozy caramel filling

  • 1 x Jamaican Ginger Cake
  • 35-100ml Golden or dark rum (depending on how boozy you like it, obviously I used 100ml!) or for non  alcoholic version use stem ginger syrup.
  • 100g milk/dark chocolate
  • 1 x 500g pot fresh custard
  • 1 x capful vanilla extract
  • 300ml pot whipping cream
  • 1 x 400g tin dulche du leche/tinned caramel (or make your own from a tin of  sweetened evaporated milk)
  • buttons/grated chocolate to garnish
Slice your ginger cake and lay it on the bottom of your trifle dish and pour over your rum and spoon over a layer of dulce du leche. Melt the chocolate, add your vanilla extract then whisk in your pot of custard.  Allow the custard to cool then layer it over the caramel. Whip your cream, spoon it over the chocolate custard and garnish with your grated chocolate/chocolate buttons. See, dead easy!

I always open my cupboards and introduce him to fab food products that I come across and send him home with a bit of a goody bag! We spent a long time talking BBQs, Ben has just acquired his first Weber and so I introduced him to the wonderful Laissez Chef new Orleans spice blend, yep he fell in love with that too! Her is now also a new convert to Essential Cuisine powdered stocks having tried their powdered veal and Little Doone Ginger Balsamic which I discovered at the show which also blew me away.

So I will be cooking again in 4 weeks time with Ben but in a couple of weeks I am taking him around my local Farmer’s Market so he can meet my favourite producers. Ahhh we can geek out about food all morning!

Hollingshead Menu – June

**I am no longer at the Hollingshead in Melton Mowbray, see update at bottom of post.

So tomorrow I start work as head chef for evenings at the Hollingshead in Melton Mowbray. Keeping the menu simple (it’s just little *ahem* old me in the kitchen) and using plenty of local produce.  If you are local and have an allotment or garden full of lovely veg or edible flowers please drop me an email at, if you are a producer, local or not, and have something that you think I may like then drop me an email.

We are open for dinner Thursday, Friday, Saturday nights 6pm – 9pm service and only 20 covers.

This week’s menu:

Grilled peach and goat’s cheese salad with edible flowers


  • Seasonal soup of the day served with local bread and homemade butter
  • Grilled peach and goat’s cheese salad with blackberry dressing, watercress, red onion, balsamic glaze, violet flowers.
  • Whole Camembert baked with wine, garlic and fresh herbs, served with homemade red onion and thyme chutney,thyme flowers and local bread
  • Chicken liver parfait, toasted brioche, homemade chutney crispy fried sage leaf
  • Smoked mackerel pate, watercress salad, toasted local bread

Slow roast pork belly on celeriac mash& cheesy leeks with apple, elderflower and lemon thyme jellies, crackling, crispy sage leaf and cider gravy


  • Ballotine of free range chicken breast stuffed with wild mushrooms and garlic served with buttery mash and porcini sherry sauce
  • Local sausages and buttery mash with red wine and onion gravy and crispy fried sage leaf
  • 28 day dry aged Sirloin steak, handcut fat chips, watercress, confit tomato (served with choice of garlic or tarragon butter, peppercorn or stilton sauce).
  • Wild mushroom pasta drizzled with truffle oil and aged parmesan
  • Rutland trout baked in white wine with new potatoes, watercress and tarragon butter sauce
  • Slow roast pork belly with celeriac mash, cheesy leeks, apple elderflower and lemon thyme jelly, cider gravy, crackling


  • Fat chips
  • Seasonal salad
  • baby leaf spinach and peas

Seriously sexy freshly made scratchings and fresh salsas: fennel and zingy chilli

** An update. So having had nothing but great feedback from everyone who ate my food and the owners telling me that they were so excited that they now wanted to turn the upstairs of the bar into a separate dining space with lovely white linen sheets because they loved the menu so much I went in the following day to be told “Melton people don’t want real food, they want frozen crap and thats how we make our money. Sorry we have changed our mind and we have no money.” 

Well to say I was shocked is a bit of an understatement, particularly as I had only just emailed that morning to let them know I had bought some bits so not to worry about picking them up and was told that’s all fine. 4 hours later I was told they now had no money (despite upon interview being told they were financially in a great position and had a big budget and they wanted to really go to town).

Just a couple of days previously they had told me to quit my other cooking job and come and do more hours with them, thank god I felt they were a bit dodgy so didn’t! The fact that they point blank refused to pay me for the 30mins after the kitchen closed to clean down the grills, label and put away food, do all the fridge checks, sweep and mop the floor etc rang huge alarm bells, well that and the fact they thought it fine to pay a head chef £6.08/hour! “Oh don’t worry”, they said, “tips will make it up a bit” Yes tips paid at the end of the month once the boss has taken £150 out of it to pay for accidental breakages the previous month! Well employers that use tips to pay wages really can’t be trusted.  The customer tips because they have had good service and want the tips to go to those that made that happen.  The fact that the staff don’t even receive them is appalling.

So yes, I picked up my things from the kitchen and left (although I was given the option to stay on to cook crap frozen rubbish…mm microwave ribs I wouldn’t even feed my dog, tasty!). I wouldn’t even trust that though as when I bought local cider for the “local cider gravy” on my menu I was told to just use the Somerset cider they had. Fine I said, you just need to take the word “local” off the menu. To which I was told “no, Somerset is kind of local”. Yes if that local is a 4 hour drive away, sure! Integrity is important in whatever it is that you do.  People will lie to you so they can charge you more for words like : local, organic and free range, but trust me, not all of these places will actually be using that, particularly not the Hollingshead in Melton Mowbray.

Fiery Carrot and Beetroot Slaw

The beetroots that I planted this time last year are still providing me with plenty of leaves and veg but I need to make space for this year’s planting so I’m eating a lot of them at the moment*.  I also have a massive amount of carrots at the moment so this coleslaw was thrown together to tackle the bounty.  Beetroot has a really earthy flavour so it can take other strong ingredients being thrown at it so the dressing has a big kick.


  • 1 large beetroot, peeled and V-Sliced into matchsticks
  • 6 carrots, prepared as above.
  • 1 finely sliced red onion
  • poppy seeds (blue and white)


  • 1 heaped tablespoon hot english mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Ikea Dill sauce
  • juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons mirin
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground pepper

Make your dressing, pour it over the rest of the ingredients, mix and eat, simples.

*Eating beetroot can give you a bit of a fright when you go to the loo, your poo is purple! Don’t panic, it literally  scares the crap out of me every time!

Lychee Limoncello Martini for World Gin Day!

As “World Days” go, World Gin Day has got to be one of the best, well, up there with World Wine Day, Fish & Chips Day, Staying in Bed til 3pm Day (also falls on World Breakfast in Bed Day.) OK so not all of those are actual Days but there should definitely be a world Breakfast in Bed Day.

Lychees are one of my favourite fruits, with their heady scent and tropical flavour they transform this cocktail into an exotic sherbet lemon glass of heaven!  Canned lychees are perfect for this as they are ready prepped and you can use the syrup (much cheaper than buying a lychee liquor. You don’t have to use the popping candy, I know it isn’t the height of sophistication, but then again neither am I!


  • 50ml of your favourite gin (Sipsmith is perfect)
  • 50ml Lychee syrup (from the can)
  • 25ml Limoncello
  • Lychee to garnish.
  • Popping candy
  • Ice cubes

Put your ice in a cocktail shaker with the gin, syrup and Limoncello.  Shake until the outside of the shaker goes frosty.  Put a couple of pieces of popping candy inside the lychee then put it in a chilled martini glass and pour over your cocktail.

Now if you love gin how about entering a competition to win a bottle?

Sexy Summer Fennel Salad

Bad salads are boring and depressing, great salads on the other hand make me feel happy and energised just by looking at them.  I feel that I absorb health just by being in the presence of a sexy salad, so actually eating it makes me feel positively saintly.  In fact it’s my duty to accompany such a virtuous dish with some seriously awesome sticky ribs and crispy chicken wings just to redress the cosmic balance (well, thats my excuse anyway).

I was passing my greengrocer’s when I spotted a big bulb of fennel perched plumply on top of a pile of celery, yeah, I wanted that bad boy and 70p later he was mine.  The fridge was raided and this salad thrown together.  The salad itself was fab but the star of the show was the dressing.  I had a bit of fiery honey and balsamic mustard left in the jar from my Good Fork delivery and a bit of Womersley Foods Lime Black Pepper and Lavender Vinegar left that was screaming out for a bit of fennel action.

Salad ingredients:

  • 1 fennel bulb and fennel fronds
  • 1 large apple
  • 8 radishes
  • 1 stick celery
  • fresh parsley, chopped
  • fresh ginger mint, chopped
  • poppy seeds


  • Mustard with honey and balsamic vinegar (needs to be a really hot mustard)
  • Womersley Lime, Black Pepper and Lavender vinegar
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • glug of lemon infused rapeseed oil
  • sea salt flakes and freshly ground black pepper

My trusty V-Slicer mandolin comes into it’s own for dishes like this, it’s my favourite bit of kitchen kit and I picked it up from a car boot sale for £1 about 7 years ago.  Just finely slice and julienne all the salad ingredients. Put all your dressing ingredients together and mix well then coat your salad in the dressing.

Jubilee Choc Pops!

Ready and set in about 20 minutes

In the run up to this Jubilee weekend I have seen dozens of Jubilee Battenburgs and Union Jack cupcakes on Twitter and glossy magazines. My nod to the red white and blue mania that’s so abundant at the moment are these Choc Pops that I made for Domestic Sluttery.  If you haven’t visited the Sluttery website then you really are missing out on a whole host of awesomeness that covers food, travel, fashion, homewares and booze, yes, there is lots of booze.

Because chocolate can always be naughtier

You should most definitely check out the naughty bunting that caused a bit of a fuss the other day then buy some and make some of these naked chocolate people and head off to the village Jubilee tea party….