Vegetarian Parmigiana

Cheap, Tasty and easy to prepare.

This meal is not only cheap and easy to prepare it will also feed at least four people for approximately 50p each, depending on the quantities you add to the dish.

I have cooked this meal for me, and my wife, with the ingredients listed below and it has lasted for two days. On the second day you can always add a touch of chilli and some extra cheese or yoghurt. The basic ingredients look amazing when fresh and the preparation is so simple.



The best way to get the most flavour from your ingredients is to not over cook them.

  • 1 large aubergine
  • 2 medium potatoes
  • olive oil
  • 1 onion , peeled and finely chopped
  • ½ bulb spring garlic , or 1 clove of regular garlic, peeled and finely sliced
  • 1 heaped teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1×400 g good-quality tinned plum tomatoes
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large handful fresh basil
  • 3 large handfuls Parmesan cheese , freshly grated
  • a little fresh oregano , leaves chopped finely

White Sauce

  • 50 grams plain white flour
  • 50 grams butter
  • milk 200-300 ml


Start by frying the aubergines in a little oil with some thin slices of garlic, slice them into 1cm thick slices, and put to one side once light brown in colour. Whether you’re using a griddle pan or a barbecue, get it really hot. Meanwhile, put 2 or 3 glugs of olive oil into a large pan on a medium heat. Add onion, garlic and dried oregano and cook for 10 minutes, until the onion is soft and the garlic has some colour. If you’re using tinned tomatoes try to buy chopped if not break them up. Add the tinned tomatoes to the onion, garlic and oregano. Give the mixture a good stir, then put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly.

Once the mixture has cooked, I prefer to simmer for as long as possible. But if you’re in a rush you can just heat for 10 to 15 mins and put to one side ready to add to the main dish.

Simple white sauce

To make enough white sauce to cover the top of the dish, add 50 grams of plain flour to 50 grams of melted butter in a saucepan. Stir vigorously for 2 minutes until the mixture has cooked, you can then slowly add milk until you have a sauce that is the texture of thick cream. Once you have the non lumpy sauce you can slowly add some Parmesan cheese, to taste.

Potato base

If I’m having problems with cash I sometimes pad the dish out with a single layer of potatoes, that have been sliced and brought to the boil or blanched for two minutes at the base of the dish. Preferably on the bottom of the buttered dish.


Use an earthenware dish (25 x 12–15cm). Put in a small layer of potato, then a thin scattering of Parmesan, followed by a single layer of tomato sauce and then a layer of aubergine. Repeat these layers until you’ve used all the ingredients up, finishing with a little white sauce and another good sprinkling of Parmesan. I sometimes add breadcrumbs with a little freshly chopped oregano and sprinkle them on top of the Parmesan. Sometimes the dish is served with torn-up mozzarella on top and some halved cherry tomatoes.

Layer the Aubergine.


Adding the tomato sauce.


Place the dish in the oven and bake at 190°C/375°F/gas 5 for half an hour until golden, crisp and bubbly. It’s best eaten straight away, but it can also be served cold. You can use the same method substituting courgettes or fennel for the aubergines – both are delicious. But do try making it with aubergines – you’ll love it!

The finished meal with a white sauce topping and Parmesan cheese.

20160830_174216I hope you enjoy this meal and if you need any hints just ask.


Fighting with the snails!

I was so looking forward to that strawberry.

A meal with garlic, but not fruit.

I’ve been waiting all winter for my home grown herbs and fruit to be ready for picking, but oh no, that would be too much to ask for! Pesky critters such as snails are allowed to live, but not in my special herb garden. The problem is I don’t like killing the annoying little buggers. The worst I can do is liberally sprinkle a little salt here and there. Probably not very kind, but would you like to be sucked dry of all your bodily fluids. Not nice. Ehh! Another technique I have discovered to protect my plant’s, is to surround them with Garlic piece’s or their leaves. This seems to be the best way of stopping the slimy buggers from attacking ones herbs, flowers or vegetables. Good luck with this thankless task. You could always go shopping. HA!


A bed of Oregano with a sprig of Chocolate Mint in the top left.

One good thing about the mild winter is that my Oregano has started to grow in abundance. One can never have too much of this aromatic and sweet smelling herb. I am at present experimenting with various herbs, spices, and home grown garlic and oils, to make different and tasty emulsions to sprinkle over ones favorite dish or snack. I will post the recipes soon. It’s not hard to make an infusion of oil and herbs and is safer than just adding herbs to oil. The reason for this is that when infusing the mixture you have to heat it to 80 Degrees Centigrade which will kill off any bugs or germs.

The funny thing about this advice is that I only realised a couple of years ago that it could be life threatening to infuse oil cold. Would you like E-Coli?

My first growth of Tarragon

My Garden on the verge of blossom.

I’ve been waiting and preparing all winter to make my garden look as confused and disorganised as possible. This involved looking out of my bedroom window and thinking about what I should be doing, but not actually doing anything about it. The result should be stunning because the so called weeds look amazing and the Bee’s love them. Good fun!


The Garden including the small but productive herb bed.

 I love my garden, miss my parents and need to appreciate what I have.

Even though I come from the East End of London, I’m lucky enough to have grown up in a house that had a very large garden. My parents were passionate about growing beautiful flowers, tasty tomatoes and watching the comings and goings of some very erratic and strange birds.

I moved to Norwich in the late 90s and thought that Norwich would just be a passing phase, but 16 years later I’m married, cooking for a living and acting middle aged. Ohh dear! What happened and when?

It’s summer – time for soup

Try something different

Contrary to popular belief soup doesn’t always denote cold winter evenings in front of a blazing fire – or the central heating. Oh no, there’s nothing more refreshing than a deliciously tasty summer soup – yup – a chilled or cold soup.

These soups can be eaten as a complete meal accompanied with some delicious home baked bread. If you haven’t time to make your own bread – and let’s face it with all of that proving, waiting and more proving who on earth has the will – you can cheat. Either make the delicious and simple recipe from Nigel Slater’s Lazy Loaf (only an hour out of your life) or simply grab one of the heat up in the oven baguette thingy’s – job done!

Hungarian Chilled Cherry Soup – Meggleves

Summers in central Europe can become extraordinarily hot – hence the origins of this dish. I first came across this soup in a wonderful Hungarian restaurant in Soho – sadly defunct –where with the artistic tempers and bizarre publishing anecdotes on display, a chilled soup was a sublime answer to so many heated debates.



Jar of cherries – or fresh morellos

Pinch of salt

Cinnamon – a stick

Lemon slice


Slowly simmer the cherries and their juice (you can add some water to dilute the stickiness) and all of the other ingredients (except for the yoghurt) in a saucepan. When melted down allow to cool and then add a small amount of the cherry liquid to the yoghurt. Add this concoction to the cooled ingredients in the pan and that’s it. Sugar is optional, as is whisking it further in a blender – just remember to leave some whole cherries for decoration. Once chilled either freeze or leave in the fridge for a few days.

Nettle and mint soup

Thanks to Sam for this.


Foraging is bang on trend, as those marketing types like to say. Rather than annihilate the English language, go out and pick some nettles.


4 – Nettle bunches

Spinach leaves (optional)

Spring onions

Dried mint leaves

Olive oil


Pinch of salt and black pepper

Lemon juice

Place all of the ingredients in a saucepan except for the ricotta – add a litre of water. Once the leaves are all cooked allow to cool. At this stage the mixture can be pureed with half of the ricotta and then placed in a fridge. Taste the soup throughout. If you think it tastes bland add some extra pepper or lemon juice. Once you’re ready to serve the soup add the remaining ricotta.

Chlodnik – Cold beetroot soup

Scratch most people with Eastern or Central European origins and they’ll probably bleed beetroot. I grew up in a European family and this recipe was served at most summer dinner parties.


3 beetroots with leaves


Dill (essential)

Spring onions

Sour cream / yogurt

Hard-boiled eggs for decoration

Place beetroot into a saucepan, and bring to boil, simmer for 20 minutes, or until beetroot is tender. Add stock. Vegetarians can use mushroom stock cubes or any other vegetable derivative; omnivores can use chicken stock. Mix up the hard-boiled egg with the dill and spring onion and then add to the sour cream. Allow soup to cool and then add the sour cream mixture to the beetroot.

This is one of those soups that taste so much more pleasant than it sounds. Go on – be adventurous. So many cultures use yogurt or sour cream to dishes to make them cooler and easier on the palate, that you’ll soon understand the logic of this dish.


I would never presume to place my recipe ideas for this fantastic dish when so many of the world’s greatest chefs have created the classic vichyssoise. Look up the Roux et al for excellence. Suffice it to say that if you have some leeks, potatoes, cream and stock in your larder or fridge – you can create this divine concoction. Sounds like a peasant soup – of course it is, though it has been elevated to new heights by some rather amazing chefs.


Simple Potatoes on a beautiful plate

It’s amazing what you can produce from simple ingredients. It doesn’t have to cost you a fortune to eat like a god.

Enjoy your summer chilling out with some delicious soup and maybe a glass of your favorite tipple.

Thanks to:-  Celina Bledowska


My Journey

Where it all Began

Flourish Employment Academy graduate Daryl Colley has had an eventful journey with LEAP and The Feed, resulting in a truly inspirational outcome. Through his own determination and hard work, and support from the team here, Daryl has made some astonishing achievements and continues to be a positive force helping others. Daryl picks up the story…

“After volunteering for The Feed for six months, I am finally employed in the catering industry, receive a pay packet and use my skills. With greater confidence and self-belief, as well as the support of those at LEAP and The Feed, my very long gap in between jobs is finally over!

Conquering the condition

One of the reasons that I applied to volunteer was because I have epilepsy (I was diagnosed in the 1990s) and for many years the idea of getting a job and holding on to that position seemed impossible. I could get a medal for involuntary break-dancing as a result of seizures, and I was great at staring into space – a sort of ‘lights on no-one home’ state, courtesy of epileptic absences – none of which made me employable.

My confidence was shattered and all the trials with the different powerful medicines to control my condition weren’t a walk in the park. Temporary blindness was one side effect, another was involuntary weeping and overwhelming tiredness.

Volunteering builds skills

Finally my epilepsy is under control and has been for several years, but with a spotty employment record, no recent work experience and low self-esteem, finding an employer was always going to be a problem. Volunteering seemed to be the answer.

I have volunteered as chair of a Norwich based social enterprise, Not About The Bike; the problem is that I can’t actually ride a bike, as I don’t have the best sense of balance in the world. Helping out at the Norwich and Norfolk Arts Festival was a blast – meeting new people, seeing some fantastic shows and art installations – and finally I heard about The Feed.

The will to succeed

Years ago I had trained as the manager of a gastro pub. I had learned how to cook, select fish and meat at Billingsgate and Smithfield, as well as run a busy kitchen and restaurant. I needed to refresh my skills and learn more. I have also been homeless in the past as a result of my epilepsy, so the idea of volunteering with an enterprise that not only helped the homeless in a practical way but also trained people to work in kitchens seemed a fantastic way forward, for them and also me.

Boosting the spirit

For one thing the team at LEAP’s offices always responded with alacrity and charm. On my first phone call to the office, Barry answered the phone and asked about my housing situation. I assured him that I was fine, but appreciated the concern. I mentioned that I could cook, but had problems finding work and Barry thought The Feed would be a great fit for me. Other team members soon contacted me; in a bid to see how they could help me and vice-versa.

Talk about being plunged in at the deep end! My first event was helping Head Chef Andy Baker and the Flourish Employment Academy team at a Norfolk Food & Wine event at the Norfolk showground. I came home revived and invigorated. People were kind; I had to work hard but I loved the experience and I found that I could cope with the hours and the stresses. I took part in various courses, such as butchery, barista coffee making and production and the all important GOALS course. These were provided by The Feed to train me as a mentor for the Flourish Employment Academy members – more strings to my bow.

Food really does connect people

From being part of the team catering for private parties or large events The Feed’s Head Chef Andy Baker has been kind and generous with his talents and made me see that I could do whatever I wanted to. He also listens, whether it’s fascinating conversation about the merits of garlic and certain spices, or conversations about employment agencies and how the catering industry can be brutal but also rewarding. Andy will always give you time and attention, and is very understanding.

I still volunteer for The Feed, but now juggle this work with my paid employment – a result!

Thanks to everyone at Upper Goat Lane, also everyone at OPEN, Norfolk Food & Drink, Charlie Hodson, (the patron of The Feed) and of course, Head Chef Andy Baker and Founder & Director Barry Allard. Thank you for everything and I look forward to future events.”

An Amazing Crunchy Mess

A Sumptuous Feast.

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One of the golden rules of meringue making is that all of your equipment should be scrupulously clean, without a speck of grease, or it will be much more difficult to produce the perfect meringue. If you do have any oil or grease in the bowl or blender this can affect the setting of the egg whites. If you are in any doubt you can clean the surfaces with lemon juice, which will kill any oily residues.

Start by using the whites of 3 large eggs, whisked to soft peaks in the food mixer (unless you’re mad and want to beat them by hand). Meringues can be beaten the way you feel comfortable, machine or whisk. Slowly add 200g caster sugar, in spoonfuls to the whipped egg whites, between the soft and stiff peak stage. You can add a pinch of cream of tartar to help keep the mixture firm.

Place in lined baking trays, and put into the oven at 100-150 centigrade for an hour and a half, until crisp and golden brown. Leave them in the oven for as long as possible so that they don’t soften. The cream of tartar meringues seem to have slightly stiffer peaks, and when cooked, are more uniformly crunchy. You hope!

Adding Fruit or toppings

Once you have left your meringue to set and cool down you can then start to add your toppings. Whipped cream and fruit is the norm, but you can add anything you wish. This is the same for any recipe. Do what you want with your meal and make it your own. Then sit down with some friends and gain some weight.

Growing Herbs and Chocolate Mint Ice-Cream

Growing Herbs

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These amazing and hardy plants can not only keep you going with a constant supply of fragrant dried herbs during the winter months. They can also give you a constant supply of aromatic delights for your dinner plates and salads during the summer. You can even use the beautiful flowers on your dish or you can leave them for the birds and the bees.

Why trudge down to your local supermarket, when you can grow your own amazing herbs.


There are many plants used for food, flavouring, medicine, perfume. Culinary use typically distinguishes herbs from spices. Herbs refer to the leafy green parts of a plant (either fresh or dried), while a “spice” is a product from another part of the plant (usually dried), including seeds, berries, bark, roots or fruits.

Return of your summer Herbs

Now that spring has arrived you will start to see your herbs come back to life, even though some of the hardier varieties have kept you going through the winter, such as thyme, marjoram or chives and many others. There is nothing better than strolling out into the garden and picking some fresh and beautifully scented leaves to add to your cooking.


Fresh is best

Fresh is always best, and growing your own will not only save you money, but will also give the local bees some much needed pollen. Plants such as Marjoram and Garlic Chives are adored by these creatures and it is a pleasure to watch them collecting as much pollen as they can. There’s nothing funnier than watching a honey bee with a fully laden bum covered in yellow pollen. It always makes me laugh.

I Haven’t got a Garden

If you don’t have the pleasure of owning a garden, don’t despair. There are many herbs that can be grown indoors; basically herbs are some of the easiest plants to grow. Similar to pleasant weeds such as stinging nettles and wild garlic, which many don’t know are edible, or where to find them. But they are delicious in salads and soups. If you check out the Royal Horticultural Society (RHS) website, you will get some great ideas how to grow various plants and herbs and also where to find them.

What to do

All you have to do is buy some medium sized pots’s and fill them with good quality growing compost. I’ve even used soil from the garden or from a friend. You can buy most herbs from local supermarkets, but you could also go to a local garden centre. There you will have more choice and they will have come from a better source.

It doesn’t matter whether you’ve only got a small concrete patch outside your back door or have only got access to a window box or indoor pot’s, you can plant anything you want. You can try basil, mint, oregano and a wide variety of other plants.

Infusing herbs

I grow chocolate mint which is unbelievable if you turn it into ice-cream which I have just started experimenting with. It’s great, just infuse the leaves in the milk, instead of vanilla and continue with the standard recipe for ice-cream, sorbets or even in panna cotta.

Ingredients: For the Panna Cotta and Cherry Sauce

3 Gelatine leaves

250ml/9fl oz milk

250ml/9fl oz double cream

4/6 leaves from the Chocolate Mint (Experimenting)

25g/1oz sugar

To serve

4 sprigs fresh Chocolate Mint,

Icing sugar, to dust


For the panna cotta, soak the gelatine leaves in a little cold water until soft.

Place the milk, cream, chocolate mint leaves, and sugar into a pan then simmer. (Do not boil the cream and milk). Remove the chocolate mint and discard.

Squeeze the water out of the gelatine leaves, then add to the pan and take off the heat. Stir until the gelatine has dissolved.

Divide the mixture among four ramekins and leave to cool. Place into the fridge for at least an hour, until set.

The Sauce

For the sauce, place the sugar, water and cherry liqueur into a pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until the sugar has dissolved.

Take the pan off the heat and add half the raspberries. Using a hand blender, blend the sauce until smooth.

Pass the sauce through a sieve into a bowl and stir in the remaining fruit.

To serve, turn each panna cotta out onto a serving plate. You should then spoon over the sauce and garnish with a sprig of mint, or anything else you desire. Dust with icing sugar.


You must remember when cooking that you don’t have to stick to the recipe. As long as you follow the basics you can experiment until you achieve something truly amazing and something to be proud of.