Category / Recipes

Recipe: Pimp Your Brussels Sprouts

Am I weird in loving Brussels Sprouts?  Miniature cabbages, either loved or hated, giver of flatulence but on the plus side, they come with plenty of health benefits.  They lower cholesterol, aid digestion and if you don’t cook them until they’re totally lifeless, tasty.  You’ve probably got memories of overcooked sprouts, served for days on end after Christmas but because we can’t eat, on the whole, eat seasonally in this country, they’re available most of the year around.  There are hundreds of recipes for them, but this is a little cracker from my lovely friends at Riverford.   Don’t be put off by the garlic, because it’s roasted and is not harsh in any way.

Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Brussels Sprout & Pancetta Pasta with Sage & Roast Garlic Cream


1 whole garlic bulb
200ml double cream
1tbsp Olive Oil
250g Pancetta (I used the ready-cubed from Waitrose which is excellent)
1 onion, finely sliced (I diced mine)
8 sage leaves, finely sliced
Small glass of white wine
400g pasta, I used penne
500g Brussels Sprouts (halved or quartered)
4 tbsp Parmesan, finely grated
Salt & black pepper to taste


Peel off the thick white coating on your bulb but make sure you don’t take off the core because you want the cloves to keep together.  Cut the tip of the head from your garlic bulb.  Expose the ends of the cloves and place on a square of foil.  Add a drizzle of olive oil and wrap up.  Bake in an oven at 180°C/Gas Mark 4 for about 50 minutes or until soft.  Once cooked, leave to cool and squeeze out the soft garlic from each housing.

Roasted garlic bulb

Their recipe says to save half, I used the whole thing, and add it to the cream.  I used my stick blender for this.

You’ll need two pans of salted water.  One for the pasta and another for your Brussels Sprouts, I always steam mine because you don’t stew or remove all the benefits of the vegetable.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan, I always use a wok, add the pancetta and fry until golden brown,  The pancetta should ooze quite a bit of oil so you should just use a slotted spoon to remove it and use this to cook your chopped onions.  You want a gentle heat under these because you’re aiming for translucent and soft rather than crisp and brown.  Add the pancetta and sliced Sage to the pan, turn up the heat and stir for 2 minutes.

Cream, Pancetta & Sage Sauce

Next, cook the pasta, according to the packet instructions.

Then add the wine and let it reduce for a few minutes, add your garlic cream and let it bubble away, again for a couple of minutes.

When the pasta is ready, drain and reserve some of the cooking water.

Meanwhile, blanch the sprouts in the other pan for 3/4 minutes, depending on the size.  You want them cooked with a slight bite.  Drain. Stir half the Parmesan into your cream sauce, then add the cooked pasta and sprouts.

Brussels Sprouts, Pancetta, Sage & Cream sauce

Adding the pasta water to loosen the mix, if you need it.  Season to taste.  Sprinkle the dish with the remaining Parmesan cheese.

Brussels Sprout & Pancetta Pasta with Sage & Roast Garlic Cream


A History of Royal Food & Feasting: Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

This Tudor Cheese tart recipe is remarkably easy to make and has so much more taste than I imagined.  It’s a result of a course I signed up for run jointly by University of Reading and Historic Royal Palaces. It’s called ‘A History of Royal Food and Feasting’.   The course will take place over a period of five weeks, each taking up three hours a week, will showcase the power and wealth through five generations of royalty and their Palaces.   I’ve just completed Week 1 which focuses on Hampton Court and Henry VIII.  Part of the coursework is exploring Tudor Food, and thankfully someone’s converted the English ingredients so I can make it and share the recipe and images with you.

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

I appreciate it’s nowhere near Lent, but this cheese tart contains all the things forbidden during the period – cheese, cream and eggs, encased in pastry.

Tarte Owt of Lente

Original recipe Gentyll manly Cokere (Manuscript Pepys 1047, c.1500).

‘Take neshe chese and pare hit and grynd hit yn A morter and breke egges and do ther to and then put yn buttur and creme and mell all well to gethur put not to moche butter ther yn if the chese be fatte make A coffyn of dowe and close hit a bove with dowe and collor hit a bove with the yolkes of eggs and bake hit well and serue hit furth.’

Adapting the recipe for modern use.


250g Quark soft cheese (or similar)
100g grated cheddar
150ml double cream
1 egg
Shortcrust or other pastry (I used a pre-made block of Puff pastry)
Egg yolk to glaze


Chop and pound cheese in a mortar.
With the modern technology available in my kitchen, I cheated and used a grater and a food processor.

Interesting Fact Alert: Men cooked and served in a Royal Household, or in most cases, any noble household, for three main reasons. Only having male staff living on site removes all relationship problems; large scale kitchen work is hard and heavy; and it shows that the head of the household is a man above all men, served by men. If a mixed staff served the nobleman, then he would be the same as a merchant in the city.

Add the other ingredients and make a spreadable paste. Make a pastry tart case, about 25cm (10″) diameter, you can use a pie tin if easier, and thin pastry lid.

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

I made a few crowns to top the cheese mixture, but you can make a full pastry lid.  Fill the case with cheese, cream, egg and butter mixture, then put on the pastry lid (or motifs) seal and glaze with egg.

Bake at 220°C/gas mark 6 for 40 minutes or until golden.

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

Tudor Cheese Tart Recipe

You could use any pre-1600 variety of cheese, such as Cheshire, Wensleydale, Roquefort, Gorgonzola, Parmesan, or Cheddar, but the original probably used curd cheese (the recipe specifies it should be neshe – soft), so ricotta or quark would also work well. The egg stops it curdling.

I wasn’t expecting this Tudor Cheese Tart to be quite so tasty and so I’ll try another, next time with shortcrust pastry.

Thanks to Future Learn who offer hundreds of free online courses from top universities and specialist organisations.