Fresh Tomato Soup with Cheese Croutes

tomatosoup-pinTomato Season! Although it feels a bit like Autumn in Cornwall at the moment, there are tomatoes to be eaten ๐Ÿ™‚ When you have a great crop of tomatoes in the garden, they can be a bit overwhelming. I’ve frozen many a tub of tomato puree for a summer lift in mid-winter.

But for the here and now, a bowl of fresh tomato soup will lift your spirits and nourish your body.

I used a very simple recipe years ago – it’s actually included in the tomato growing guide (scroll down for tomatoes)

And this one is a definite must -try. Found it in my favourite book for busy people ’30 Minute Cookbook’ (I’ve put a link below if you aspire to be a 30 minute gourmet chef!)

I’m copying it. more or less word for word, because I haven’t tried this one yet and I don’t want to miss anything ๐Ÿ™‚

So, here we go…

Fresh Tomato Soup with Cheese Croutes

(On a hot day this fresh tomato soup can be served chilled)

(serves 6)

1.5kg/3-3.5lbs of ripe tomatoes
400mls/14fl.oz. chicken or vegetable stock (good quality if you can)
45mls/3 tablespoons sun-dried tomato paste
30-45mls/2-3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
10-15mls/2-3 teaspoons caster sugar
small handful of fresh basil leaves, plus a few extra to garnish
salt and ground black pepper
toasted cheese croutes and creme fraiche to serve.


1. Mark the tomatoes with a small cross at the base, plunge them into boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh in cold water. Peel away the skins and quarter the tomatoes.

2. Put them in a large saucepan and pour over the chicken or vegetable stock. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently for about 10 minutes or until all the tomatoes are pulpy.


3. Stir in the tomato paste, vinegar, sugar and basil. Season with salt and pepper, then cook gently, stirring for 2 minutes.

4. Process the soup in a blender or food processor, then return to the pan and reheat gently.

5. Serve in heated bowls. Top each portion with one or two toasted cheese croutes and a spoonful of creme fraiche. Garnish with basil leaves.

My notes:

“If you don’t have a blender or food processor, finely chop the basil leaves before adding to the pan, then after step 3, stir really well and maybe use a potato masher to get a smooth soup”

“Although it doesn’t say how to make cheese croutes, I would guess thinly slicing a baguette and sprinkling on some grated cheese before lightly toasting under a grill would probably work”

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. As promised the 30 Minute Cookbook details:




Amazon direct link to The 30 Minute Cookbook





Spicy Pretzels



(Found in the book ‘Cookies Galore’)

These look fun – haven’t tried them yet but it reads fairly easy, just the twisting into shapes could be tricky.

If I can get a reasonable batch together, I’ll take a picture and replace the professional version here ๐Ÿ™‚




(Makes 30)

200g plain flour
Half a teaspoon of baking powder
pinch of salt
6 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of curry paste
50mls boiling water
Beaten egg to glaze


1. Pre-heat oven to 180C / Gas mark 4. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl and blend in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.

3. Stir the curry paste into the boiling water, then add to the flour mixture and mix to form a soft dough.

4. Knead on a lightly floured surface until smooth.

5. Divide into 30 pieces and roll each piece into a strand about 20cm long. Twist into a pretzel shape by making a round, then twist the ends around each other to form a curved letter B. Press into position to secure and place on the prepared baking sheets.

6. Brush the pretzels with beaten egg. Bake until golden – about 18-20 minutes. carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool.

The pretzels can be stored in an airtight container for one to two weeks. Although I can’t imagine them lasting that long in my house ๐Ÿ™‚

Bon Apetit!
Linda x



1950s Pizza Recipe


Found a book online written by Bob Brown and published in 1955 called ‘The Complete Book of Cheese’. And believe me, for its time it had a lot to say about cheese. Possibly a lot of it would be discounted now.

We’ve come a long way in 60+ years …. or have we? Probably an argument for another time!

Anyway, there’s a fun looking pizza recipe I wanted to share. Copied exactly as written so it’s not my fault if you have to read it more than once ๐Ÿ™‚

Pizzaโ€”The Tomato Pie of Sicily


1 package yeast, dissolved in warm water
2 cups sifted flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons olive oil

Make dough of this. Knead 12 to 20 minutes. Pat into a ball, cover it tight and let stand 3 hours in warm place until twice the size.


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large onions, sliced thin
1 can Italian tomato paste
8 to 10 anchovy filets, cut small
ยฝ teaspoon oregano
Crushed chili pepper
2ยฝ cups water
In the oil fry onion tender but not too brown, stir in tomato paste and keep stirring 3 or 4 minutes. Season, pour water over and simmer slowly 25 to 30 minutes. Add anchovies when sauce is done.


ยฝ cup grated Italian, Parmesan, Romano or Pecorino, depending on your pocketbook

Procure a low, wide and handsome tin pizza pan, or reasonable substitute, and grease well before spreading the well-raised dough ยฝ to ยพ inch thick. Poke your finger tips haphazardly into the dough to make marks that will catch the sauce when you pour it on generously. Shake on Parmesan or Parmesan-type cheese and bake in hot oven ยฝ hour, then ยผ hour more at lower heat until the pizza is golden-brown. Cut in wedges like any other pie and serve.

The proper pans come all tin and a yard wide, down to regular apple-pie size, but twelve-inch pans are the most popular.


Not exactly written as our recipes are today although a lot more coherent than Victorian times, when half the ingredients don’t seem to exist anymore and everything took hours.

Let me know if you try this one. I’d love to know how you get on – Did you find a ‘handsome tin’? ๐Ÿ˜€

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

Broccoli and Cauliflower Gratin



Goodness knows why I haven’t discovered this recipe before but it looks so much easier than cauliflower cheese which involves stirring a white sauce for ages. Must give it a try.

This is another recipe from ’30 minute cookbook’.

(serves 4)
1 small cauliflower (about 250g./9oz.)
1 small head of broccoli (about 250g./9oz.)
150mls/quarter of a pint of natural yoghurt
115g./4oz. grated cheddar or red leicester cheese
1 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
2 tablespoons wholemeal breadcrumbs
salt and ground black pepper


1. Break the cauliflower and broccoli into small florets and cook in salted boiling water for about 8 minutes, or until tender. Drain well and transfer to a flameproof dish.

2. While the broccoli and cauliflower is cooking, mix together the mustard, cheese and yoghurt. Season with pepper.

3. Spoon cheese mixture over the vegetables. Preheat the grill

4. Sprinkle the breadcrumbs over the top of the sauced vegetables and heat under the preheated grill until golden brown. Serve hot

NB: If the broccoli stems are young and tender, slice them fairly thinly and use rather than discarding them.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x


Garlic Baked Tomatoes


I tend to chop up a tomato and throw it on the plate but this looks a lot more appealing, especially if you’re putting the oven on anyway.

Found in 30 minute cooking – My go-to at the moment!

Prep time: just a few minutes
Cooking time – 15-25 minutes



(serves 4)

2 large beefsteak tomatoes (or equivalent smaller ones)
1 large garlic clove, crushed.
1 teaspoon of finely grated orange rind
40g. (1.5oz) unsalted butter
salt and ground black pepper
basil leaves to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 200C or Ga mark 6.

2. Soften the butter and blend with crushed garlic, grated orange rind and seasoning. Chill for a few minutes

3. Cut tomatoes in half crossways and place in an ovenproof dish.

4. Spread the butter evenly over each tomato half.

5. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes, depending on the size of the tomatoes, until just tender.

6. Serve hot, sprinkled with basil leaves.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. I’ve just finished updating all the Growing Guides so if you’re growing your own tomatoes, there may be a few helpful hints – as well as some more recipe ideas – to find.

P.P.S. The 30 minute cookbook (new edition) is on Amazon


Bonoffee Coffee


Okay,ย  hotting up for weekend treats today!

Found this recipe in a little book called Spices – now, I’m not really sure why this fits into a ‘spices’ theme but the book was published nearly 30 years ago and this recipe looks so delicious, they are completely forgiven!

You’ll need to be a grown-up with a food processor or blender and a sweet tooth! And it’s just perfect if you’ve got some posh glasses as well. ๐Ÿ™‚


Ingredients (serves 4-6)

3 teaspoons instant coffee granules
5fl.oz/155mls boiling water
16fl.oz/500mls vanilla ice cream
1 large banana
10fl.oz/315mls milk
3fl.oz/90mls Tia Maria (or other coffee liqueur)
few drops of vanilla essence

2 teaspoons drinking chocolate powder
chocolate flakes to serve (optional)


1. Mix together the coffee and boiling water and leave to cool

2. When cooled, place all ingredients, except the chocolate powder and flakes, in a blender or food processor and blend until smooth.

3. Pour into tall glasses and sprinkle the chocolate powder over the top. Serve with chocolate flakes.

Enjoy your weekend ๐Ÿ™‚

Linda x


Courgette Puffs


…. with Mixed Leaf Salad

Quick, easy and meat-free recipe from 30 Minute Cookbook

Whether you call them zucchini or courgettes, these puffs will make a marvelous meal.

According to the recipe, preparation time is 5 minutes and cooking time 6 minutes – Sounds good to me ๐Ÿ™‚



(serves 2-3)

450g/1lb courgettes
75g/3oz. fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg
pinch of cayenne pepper
1 tablespoon of chopped fresh mint
oil for deep frying
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
200g/7oz. mixed salad leaves
salt and ground black pepper


1. Top and tail the courgettes. Coarsely grate them and put them into a colander. Squeeze out the excess water and put the courgettes into a bowl.

2. Add the white breadcrumbs, egg, cayenne pepper and chopped fresh mint, with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well with a spoon or clean hands.

3. Shape the mixture into balls about the size of walnuts.

4. Heat the oil for deep frying to 180C, or when a cube of bread, when added to the oil, browns in 30-40 seconds.

5. Deep fry the courgette balls in batches for 2 minutes. Drain on kitchen paper.

6. Whisk the vinegar and olive oil together and season well.

7. Put the salad leaves in a bowl and pour over the vinegar and oil dressing. Toss lightly to coat the leaves evenly.

8. Add the courgette puffs and toss lightly together. Serve at once while the courgette puffs are still crisp.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x


Pasta with Spring Vegetables


This is another speedy recipe – 20 minutes to prepare and cook. (Found in 30 Minute Cookbook)

NB: Leeks aren’t always available but I think perhaps mild spring onions would work well.

Strong onions may be a little overwhelming.


(serves 4)

115g/4oz. broccoli florets
115g/4oz. baby leeks
225g/8oz. asparagus, trimmed
115g/4oz. frozen peas
1 small fennel bulb
1 shallot, chopped
40g/1.5oz. butter
3 tablespoons chopped fresh mixed herbs, such as parsley, thyme and sage.
300mls/half a pint of double cream
350g/12oz. dried penne pasta
salt and ground black pepper
freshly grated parmesan cheese to serve.


1. Divide the broccoli florets into tiny sprigs. Cut the asparagus and leeks diagonally into 5cm (2in) lengths. Trim the fennel bulb and cut into wedges.

2. Cook the vegetables in boiling salted water until just tender. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep hot.

3. Melt the butter in a separate pan, add the chopped shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned.

4. Stir in the herbs and cream and cook for a few minutes until slightly thickened.

5. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until just tender. Drain well and add to the sauce with the vegetables.

6. Toss gently and season with black pepper.

7. Serve the pasta at once with a generous sprinkling of freshly grated parmesan.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. Growing fresh herbs at home is so easy and will save you tons of cash. Check out the popular herb books here



Rocky Road Cookies



Another not-so-healthy recipe but a delicious afternoon tea treat. Copied from ‘Cookies Galore’




(makes 20)

225g. plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
125g. butter
100g. sugar
1 egg
half a teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the topping:
50g. mini marshmallows
75g. chopped walnuts
50g. plain chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 180C/ Gas mark 4. Lightly grease two baking sheets.

2. Sift the flour and baking powder together in a mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Beat in the egg and vanilla, then work in the flour mixture to form a soft dough.

3. Take small amounts of the dough, each about the size of a walnut and roll into balls. Space well apart on the baking sheets and flatten slightly. Bake until just golden, about 12 minutes.

4. Remove from oven and reduce oven heat to 160C/ Gas mark 3.

5. To make the topping: mix together the marshmallows and walnuts. Then melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a saucepan of gently simmering water, making sure the base of the bowl is not touching the water. Spread a little chocolate on top of each cookie and top with the marshmallows and nut mixture.

6. Return the cookies to the reduced heat oven and bake for 1-2 minutes until marshmallow softens.

7. Cool on the baking sheets for 2-3 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

8. Drizzle or pipe the remaining chocolate over the cookies.

Bon Appetit!

Linda Gray x

P.S. This downloadable book is a great start to creating your own Afternoon Tea fit for royalty! Choose your favourite supplier

Afternoon Tea



Amazon US , Amazon UK , Barnes & Noble , iTunes , Kobo , Google Play , Payhip ,

Walnut Tart



I really shouldn’t be putting this up – it definitely doesn’t come under the ‘healthy living’ theme!

But honestly this looks so delicious I couldn’t resist sharing. Lots of sugar eggs and calories but what a treat for afternoon tea this weekend.

Found the recipe in a book called ‘Grandma’s 500 recipes’.



400g./ 14oz. dark brown sugar
200g. / 7oz. golden syrup
200g. / 7oz. butter
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
6 large eggs, beaten
300g. /10-11oz walnut halves

For the pastry:

150g. / 5.5oz. butter, cubed and chilled
300g. / 10.5oz. plain (all purpose) flour

1. First make the pastry; Rub the butter into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs. Then add just enough cold water to bind the mixture together into a pliable dough.

2. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface and use it to line a large rectangular tart dish. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.

3. Preheat the oven to 180F (160Fan) or Gas mark 4.

4. Put the sugar, golden syrup, butter and vanilla extract in a saucepan and stir it over a low heat to dissolve the sugar.

5. Leave to cool for at least 10 minutes then beat in the eggs.

6. Pour the mixture into the pastry case and arrange the walnut halves on top. Bake for 45-50 minutes.

Bon Appetit!

Linda x

P.S. There’s aย  handy little download with lots of afternoon tea ideas over on The Good Life page.ย  Treat yourself to a Sunday afternoon garden party!.