Your recipe for a Valentine’s Day feast!

Your recipe for a Valentine’s Day feast!

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, and here at Bookends HQ we’ve been busy playing Cupid…

Whether you’re planning to celebrate with a romantic date night with that special someone, or a Galentine’s evening in with your best friends, we’ve pulled together all the ingredients you need for a Valentine’s Day feast!

For a wonderfully light starter, why not try Saliha Mahmood Ahmed’s Qubooli Rice Salad from her gorgeously vibrant cookbook Khazana. This dish is fresh, punchy, and packed full of Indo-Persian flavours!

Next up, we love Gino D’Acampo’s Farfalle with Clams, Mussels and Purple-Sprouting Broccoli from his latest cookbook, Gino’s Italian Adriatic Escape. The perfect dish to impress that special someone, or equally lovely as a tasty dinner for friends.

And if you’re after a vegetarian alternative that’s still packed full of flavours and Adriatic charm, Gino’s Aubergine and Caciocavallo Cheese Bake is a wonderfully simple dish that’s nonetheless sure to impress.

It wouldn’t be a Valentine’s Day menu without a serious serving of chocolately goodness, and The Brownie from Great British Bake Off contestant Liam CharlesLiam Charles Cheeky Treats delivers in a big way. The ultimate snack for a Valentine’s girls’ night in, or a sumptuous dessert to top off your romantic dinner, these brownies are sure to be a winner!

Cook a three-course-meal with Kirstie Allsopp

Cook a three-course-meal with Kirstie Allsopp

Looking for weekend cooking inspiration? Join Kirstie in the kitchen for a three-course meal! 

Photography by Rita Platts © Hodder & Stoughton 2017.

Starter: Tabbouleh

My first experience of Middle Eastern food was at Maroush in Beauchamp Place: their Jawaneh chicken wings are something else. When I did my history of art course at Christie’s, I used to go to a nearby Lebanese kebab shop every day for my lunch. That was when I fell in love with tabbouleh, an affair that continues.

Many recipes for tabbouleh use a Middle Eastern spice mix, such as baharat (which can include allspice, black pepper, cardamom, cassia, cloves, coriander, cumin, nutmeg and chilli), or Lebanese seven-spice mix (paprika, pepper, cumin, cassia, cloves, coriander, cardamom and nutmeg), but you can mix your own. Simply use a pinch each of coriander, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg, or any of the spices mentioned above, to make a teaspoonful of flavouring.


Serves 4

25g bulgur wheat

50 ml boiling water

300g ripe tomatoes

2 large bunches of flat-leaf parsley

small bunch of mint

6 spring onions

3 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tsp mixed ground spices (see introduction above)

salt and freshly ground black pepper



at least 8 small Romaine or Little Gem lettuce leaves

4 ready-made flatbreads


Put the bulgur wheat in a small bowl and add the boiling water. Stir, then set aside for 20 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed. Drain in a sieve to be sure.

Meanwhile, use a sharp knife to remove the calyx and hard core from the tomatoes. (You can also skin the tomatoes and remove the seeds if you like, but I don’t usually bother.) Quarter what’s left, then cut into dice and put into a large serving bowl.

Pick the parsley and mint leaves, discarding the stalks or saving them for a stock. Chop the leaves finely, and do the same to the spring onions. Add them all to the tomatoes and mix well. When the bulgur wheat has absorbed all the water, use a fork to fluff it up and separate the grains. Add it to the tomatoes.

Drizzle the lemon juice and olive oil into the tomato mixture and season to taste with salt, pepper and your chosen spices. Mix well.

To serve, arrange the lettuce and flatbreads on 4 serving plates. Offer the tabbouleh in its bowl and ask people to help themselves, scooping tabbouleh into the leaves.


Photography by Rita Platts © Hodder & Stoughton 2017

Main Course: Roast rib of beef with a mustard crust

This beef has been a winner in our family ever since James Mackenzie – of the Pipe & Glass Inn in East Yorkshire – cooked it for one of my TV series. He was also the one who famously taught me to cook the accompanying Yorkshire Puddings (see page 00). I have roasted this beef for Sunday lunch, and occasionally for Christmas Day lunch. It is an expensive cut, so you don’t want it to go wrong, and with this recipe, it won’t. I love the idea of a ‘trellis’ of vegetables keeping the meat above the surface of the pan and allowing air to flow around the joint. The vegetables add enormous flavour to the rich gravy as well.


Serves 8–10

2.5–2.6kg forerib of beef (about 2 ribs)

Rapeseed oil

2 carrots, washed and roughly chopped

1 onion, peeled and roughly chopped

1 leek, washed and roughly chopped

1 celery stick, washed and roughly chopped

2 tbsp English mustard paste

3 tbsp Dijon mustard

2 tbsp wholegrain mustard



rapeseed oil, for frying

2 large onions, peeled and sliced

500ml homemade mulled wine or red wine

red wine vinegar (optional)

2 tbsp plain flour

1 litre beef stock (a stock cube is fine)

2 tbsp redcurrant jelly

salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 220°C/Fan 200°C/Gas 7. Put a roasting tray inside to heat up.

Sear the joint in the hot roasting tray on top of the stove, using a little of the oil, until golden brown all over. Transfer the beef to a plate.

Make a criss-cross arrangement of the vegetables in the roasting tray – this ‘trellis’ will serve as a rack for the meat.

Mix the three different types of mustard in a bowl and rub all over the meat.

Cover the exposed bones with foil.

Place the beef on the vegetables, cover the whole tray with foil and roast for 20 minutes. Remove the foil, reduce the temperature to 180°C/Fan 160°C/Gas 4 and continue roasting for a further 1½ hours (the meat will be medium rare).

Meanwhile, start the gravy. Put a little rapeseed oil in a large saucepan and fry the onions over a medium heat until soft and caramelised (about 20–30 minutes).

Add the mulled wine and bring to the boil over a high heat. Taste and if you find it too sweet, add a touch of red wine vinegar. Lower the heat and simmer for another 30 minutes.

When the meat is ready, remove it from the tray and leave it to rest, covered loosely with foil, for at least 20 minutes.

Pour the excess fat out of the roasting tray, but keep the roasted veg in it. Place the tray over the heat, add the flour and cook, stirring for 2 minutes. Pour in the beef stock and stir well, scraping up any crusty bits from the tray. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3–4 minutes. It should thicken up a little. Strain through a sieve into the pan of cooked onion and mulled wine, using the back of a spoon to get out as much flavour as possible out of the vegetables.

Stir the redcurrant jelly into the oniony gravy and check the seasoning.

Carve the meat and serve with roast or mashed potatoes (see pages 00–00), a simple green veg and the delicious gravy.


Photography by Rita Platts © Hodder & Stoughton 2017

Dessert: Blood orange jelly

This is a blast from childhood, but I was recently reminded of the joys of jelly when my friend Magnus served me one for dinner. It’s so easy, and delicious.

That experience encouraged me to dig out my great-great granny’s recipe for jelly, which sounds so funny now: ‘Colour and flavour some common jelly with crème de menthe. When strawberries are in season, lay a foundation of big strawberries on a layer of strawberry ice. Cover with the jelly.’

In the old days, jelly would have been made in moulds, which I really love, but Ben says they don’t work, so I don’t buy them anymore. However, I do have an old plastic mould that used to belong to my mum. It is in the shape of a bunny rabbit – surely every household had one? – and jelly made in that is strictly for the family. For posher gatherings I make jelly in my vintage stemmed crystal bowls, which are perfect for lunch or dinner parties and fantastically kitsch.

The recipe below is completely straightforward, but you can add fruit if you like. Pour a little of the dissolved jelly into the dishes, let it set, then top with some chopped fruit and a little more dissolved jelly. Back in the fridge, and repeat this process until all the jelly and fruit are used up, and the dishes are full. Serve with ice cream or condensed milk. (The first time I gave my stepsons condensed milk, they told their mum they really liked the new kind of milk they’d had at Dad’s house, and she rang me to say she’d been trying for years to get them on to goat’s milk. I did eventually confess the truth.)



Serves 8

2 x 135g packets of orange jelly

450ml boiling water

600ml blood orange juice



Break the jelly into cubes and place in a large heatproof bowl. Pour in the boiling water and stir until the jelly has completely dissolved. (I use less water than suggested on the packet in order to make the blood orange flavour even stronger.) When the jelly is cold but not set, pour in the blood orange juice, give it a stir, then pour the mixture into your chosen mould(s). Put in the fridge or a cool place to set.

When ready, you could decorate each serving with a swirl of whipped cream, a spoonful of condensed milk and a pretty sweet biscuit stuck on top. If serving from a large mould, a scoop of ice cream would go well beside a spoonful or two of jelly.


Extracted from Kirstie’s Real Kitchen by Kirstie Allsopp, published by Hodder & Stoughton on 7th September, £25. Photography by Rita Platts © Hodder & Stoughton 2017.

Recipe: Deliciously Ella's Frozen Raspberry, Peach and Orange Smoothie

Recipe: Deliciously Ella's Frozen Raspberry, Peach and Orange Smoothie

Frozen raspberry and peach smoothie
It’s Feel-Good Week at bookends, and what better to way to kick things off than with a smoothie from from Delicioulsy Ella’s new book? Deliciously Ella: Smoothies and Juices is the first book in Ella’s new ‘bite-size’ collection – celebrating the delicious, nutritious and super speedy smoothies and juices that Ella loves.

Serves: 1

2 oranges (300g)
1 ripe peach (140g)
handful of frozen raspberries (70g)
1/2 ripe banana, peeled and frozen (50g), or a second peach, if you prefer
1 tablespoon oats


Squeeze the juice out of the oranges using a citrus press (you should get about 200ml), and pour it into a blender. Cut the peach into the blender around the stone, discarding the stone (you can keep the skin on, as it’s so thin it blends well). Add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth and creamy.

Ella’s new book is out September 22nd and is available to pre-order now.

Deliciously Ella: Smoothies & Juices

Enjoyed this recipe? Why not try: 

Recipes from First Frost

5 Delicious Stories for Great British Bake Off Lovers

Recipe: make your own chocolate Easter egg

Recipe: make your own chocolate Easter egg

Here’s an Easter recipe from the chocolate instalment of the Great British Back Off’s Bake It Better series. You know, just in case you needed another excuse to stuff your face with chocolate this weekend. 

The secret to making chocolate Easter eggs and shapes that will last is to ensure the chocolate is properly tempered. However if you know you are going to eat the chocolate shapes straight away, and just want to have some fun with the moulds, have a go at making the shapes by just melting the chocolate and using that instead. Chocolate moulds come in every possible shape and size. You’ll need to temper at least 300g of chocolate as it is difficult to work with smaller amounts – this will give you enough to make one large hollow Easter egg and several small chocolates.

GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: BAKE IT BETTER (NO. 6): CHOCOLATE by Cat Black. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

Hands-on Time: 1 hour

Hands-off Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour setting

Special equipment:
chocolate moulds
kitchen thermometer
palette knife or scraper

To fill the moulds:
300g white chocolate
300g dark chocolate

To decorate:
about 50g contrasting chocolate (optional)
Sweets or small chocolates to fill the egg (optional)

GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: BAKE IT BETTER (NO. 6): CHOCOLATE by Cat Black. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

    1. Before you start to fill your moulds you can decorate them. Firstly, ensure that they are spotlessly clean, as anything on their surface will come off on your finished chocolates.The high shine on the chocolates made by top patissiers comes from the mirror-like surface of the insides of their moulds. Melt a small amount of contrasting chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, and then paint or pipe that carefully into a pattern on the inside of the moulds. Allow any pattern you create to set fully before you fill the moulds with your chocolate.
    2. Temper your white chocolate, place 210g of it in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of barely simmering water. Using your kitchen thermometer, measure the temperature of the chocolate as it melts. Stir it to ensure the heat is evenly distributed and do not allow it to get above 40–45°C (104–113°F).
    3. Just before it reaches temperature (as it is likely to continue to rise for a little while after you remove the heat source), take the bowl off the heat, and continue to stir to melt any visible pieces of chocolate.Then add in the remaining 90g chocolate and stir this into the melted chocolate. Keep stirring, as the newly added chocolate melts and the temperature comes down. Keep checking the temperature of the chocolate; you want it to reach 27°C (80.6°F).
    4. GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: BAKE IT BETTER (NO. 6): CHOCOLATE by Cat Black. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016When it has come down to the correct temperature, place the bowl back over the simmering water very briefly, keeping a watchful eye on the temperature.You want it to come back up to 30°C (86°F), but no higher. Bear in mind that the temperature will rise quickly, and continue to rise once you have removed the heat source.
    5. When the white chocolate is at 30°C (86°F) leave the bowl off the heat, dip a knife into the molten chocolate and scrape off one side on the edge of the bowl. Allow the remaining chocolate on the knife to set to test if it has been successfully tempered. Pop the knife in the fridge to allow the remaining chocolate on the knife to set.Touch the set chocolate very lightly – if it feels smooth and dry and doesn’t take the impression of your finger tip then it is tempered.
    6. If you just want to melt the chocolate without tempering, place the 300g chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
    7. When you have a bowl of melted or tempered chocolate you need to work quickly, as the longer you take the thicker the chocolate will become as it cools.To fill a hollow Easter egg mould, fill the mould with enough chocolate to fill to the brim.
    8. Wait for a moment, and then turn the mould upside down over your bowl of molten chocolate and allow all but a fine coating of chocolate to pour back out. Repeat to make the second half. Then scrape the surface of the mould clean with a palette knife or scraper.
    9. If you want you can fill your hollow Easter egg with sweets or small chocolates. Place a few sweets in one chocolate egg half. Press the other half onto the base of a hot pan for a few seconds before holding both halves together. Allow to set fully.GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF: BAKE IT BETTER (NO. 6): CHOCOLATE by Cat Black. Hodder & Stoughton Publishers 2016

Enjoyed this recipe? Why not try: 

Recipes from First Frost

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Recipes from First Frost

Recipes from First Frost

Some of our (many!) favourite things about Sarah Addison Allen’s delicious new novel First Frost are the magical dishes cooked up by Claire Waverley. Since Sarah has handily included the step-by-step recipes in the book, we thought we’d share these winter warmers with you here. Do show us pictures of the finished product if you give any of these a go!

Fig and Pepper Bread

2 cups wholegrain spelt flour
2 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 tsp sea salt
2 tsp coarse black pepper
1 dry yeast packet
2 tbsp olive oil
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped figs

1. Whisk flour, salt, pepper, and yeast until blended (by hand or with mixer’s whisk attachment).
2. Add olive oil and warm water. Knead for 10 minutes or use hook attachment of mixer for 5 minutes, until dough is smooth and springy.
3. Oil a large bowl, place dough inside, and cover bowl with a damp hand towel. Let sit in a warm place for approximately 1 hour, or until dough has doubled in size.
4. Softly knead in the chopped figs and evenly distribute throughout the dough (lightly flouring your hands can make handling the dough easier), shape into an oval, then place on a baking sheet.
5. Snip three shallow lines into top of the dough with scissors, then lightly dust the dough with flour.
6. Let rise, uncovered, until dough swells a little more, 10–15 minutes, or longer if the kitchen isn’t warm.
7. Place tray in 350 °F oven for 40–45 minutes until crust is slightly brown and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the underside.
8. Cool on a wire rack.

Roasted Red Pepper Soup

1 large sweet onion, chopped
2 tsp butter
1 tsp minced garlic
2 jars (15 1/2 oz.) roasted sweet red peppers, drained
2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup half-and-half

1. In a large saucepan, sauté onion in butter for 2–3 minutes until tender. Add garlic and mix well. Stir in red peppers, broth, basil, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Cool slightly.
2. In a blender, cover and process soup in batches until smooth. Remove 1 cup to a small bowl; stir in half-and-half. Return remaining purée to pan. Stir in the half-and-half mixture; heat thoroughly (do not boil).

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/8 tsp fine sea salt
3/4 cup raw green (shelled) pumpkin seeds (not toasted; 4 oz.)

1. Bring sugar, water, and salt to a boil in a heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Let boil until soft-ball stage (238°F on a candy thermometer), approximately 10 minutes.
2. Remove from heat and stir in seeds with a wooden spoon, then continue stirring until syrup crystallizes, 3–4 minutes.
3. Return pan to medium heat, this time stirring constantly until sugar melts completely and turns a deep caramel color, 4–5 minutes more (seeds will be toasted).
4. Carefully pour hot caramel mixture onto a large sheet of parchment paper and cover with another sheet. Immediately roll out (between sheets of parchment) as thinly as possible with a rolling pin, pressing firmly.
5. Remove top sheet of parchment and immediately cut brittle into pieces with a heavy knife or pizza wheel. Cool brittle completely, then peel paper from bottom. (Alternately, break brittle into pieces once cool.)

First Frost is out now in paperback and ebook.

Why I love the eighteenth century by Martine Bailey

Why I love the eighteenth century by Martine Bailey

It was no surprise to me that BBC’s Poldark was a huge success. The 18th-century is an age that casts a glamour of high romance over any story. I have chosen five reasons why the Georgian era is so thrilling to read — and in my case — write about.

It resonates with now

Eighteenth-century Britain reveals a strange but familiar landscape of intelligent, pleasure loving beings who revel in fashion, gossip and the good life. It reads as us, but dressed in romantic clothes, communicating with fluttering fans instead of facebook. Objects were designed to be beautiful and housed in Palladian mansions built to display glorious crystal, silver and porcelain. An inspiring band of low born people, from Emma Hamilton (celebrity beauty) to Elizabeth Raffald (cookbook writer) made their fortunes through guile, talent and determination. Yet like today it was an age of slippery snakes and steep ladders: from Ross Poldark to Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire, fortunes were won and lost on the turn of a playing card or price of a stock certificate.


The best clothes ever

The classic Georgian gown has the tight waist and flowing skirts celebrated in countless Fairy Tales. Not only princesses but princes too, are de rigueur Georgians, dressed in periwigs, ruffles and buckled shoes. The wealthy wore their money on their backs, their gold thread, glass spangles and Belgian lace have never been surpassed. By the end of the century, women’s waistlines had risen as gowns evolved into the Classical style beloved of Jane Austen fans. For men, the braided and buttoned uniforms of Sharpe or Master and Commander epitomise style and panache. And surely some of the appeal of Mr Darcy stripping off to bathe in his lake, was that eternally seductive garment, the loose ruffled undershirt?


A New World of Travel

Remember that image of Ross Poldark galloping back and forth across the Cornish Headland? To me it sums up a freedom from cars and a connection with animals and the land that few of our imaginations can resist. In a Georgian village there were more horses than people, and just as we might hanker after a sporty car, the Georgian buck dreamed of overtaking ‘slow coaches’ in his one-horse phaeton. While those with money toured Italy on the Grand Tour (described in my first novel, An Appetite for Violets) the entire globe was opening up to discovery, thanks in part to Captain Cook (the son of a labourer) whose accounts of exotic locations were as newsworthy as our moon landings.


Martine decorating Twelfth Cake at

Fabulous Food

Once upon a time Britain did have fine regional food, especially cakes and puddings — from fruit cakes, Yule cakes, Madeiras, ginger, chocolate and cherry cakes to Christmas puddings. Confectionary reached its peak in sugar work, as I learned when decorating a Twelfth Night cake as finely ornamented as any Wedgewood vase. Temples and gardens, in fact whole classical cities were made of sugarpaste to form the centrepiece of astonishing meals.

Yet it was the quality of spit-roasted beef alongside colonially influenced curry, pilau rice and pickles that Britons loved. Followed by another new invention, ice cream, few of us would have been unhappy with the dinner served on our Chippendale tables.


The Life of Crime

The dark side to all this shopping and consuming was an underclass that wanted its own share of all the shiny new goods. When writing The Penny Heart, it was a revelation to discover the vibrant criminals who spoke a secret thieves’ cant and tattooed their skins with secret signs. Nothing, it seems, is new: ‘screeve-faking’, or false-letter writing, was little different to our own internet phishing scams. ‘Personation’, or identity theft, short-changing and sleight of hand were commonplace. By the 1780s the government decided to ship convicts to Botany Bay, now Sydney, Australia. My novel begins when Mary, a confidence trickster, sends a vengeful message engraved on a penny heart token to the man who sealed her fate. So begins a chain of events that took me on a journey from a lonely Hall in northern England to the wild shores of the Antipodes and culminates in revenge and murder.


Penny Heart Hodder final

THE PENNY HEART by Martine Bailey, a historical novel of suspense, will be published by Hodder & Stoughton on 21 May. Inspired by eighteenth-century recipes, Martine lives in Cheshire, England, after spending 20 months house-swapping and researching in New Zealand and Australia. THE PENNY HEART is her second novel after AN APPETITE FOR VIOLETS, about a cook taken on a murderous journey to Italy.