A monocrome bold illustration of the georgian building the Botanic Cottage. A central house image with 3 upper windows a central door and two adjacent windows. At the sides are two matching walled door entrance wings the doors are same style as the central entrance. They are topped with triangular pediments.
Botanic Cottage logo

Once a fortnight we hold a cook club at the Botanic Cottage. Anyone is welcome to join us to learn new cooking skills and to enjoy a healthy meal that’s been freshly prepared by the group. Sadly, the garden is now closed to the public during the Covid-19 pandemic, but we won’t let that stop us! Cottage Cook Club tutor Ailsa has prepared some great recipes from store cupboard ingredients to encourage us to keep home cooking and keep eating right. Over to Ailsa…

Hello everyone, I hope you’re keeping well, getting out for a daily walk and eating good food. This week I have been trying, and mostly failing, to learn how to make sourdough bread. Even though I didn’t quite get the results I was aiming for, I really enjoyed feeling like a beginner and trying something new. I hope that you too can find joy in trying some new things in the kitchen.

A fun weekend breakfast

A wooden dining table near a bright window set with red tulips in a vase, some jams, 3 stacked blue ceramic bowls, stacked white side plates, some cutlery and a white serving dish with a tower of bananna pancakes.
Breakfast Banana Pancakes

This is my family pancake recipe, refined over the last decade of making pancakes for my children. It’s a really adaptable recipe, plant milks can be substituted, and you can leave out the banana if you don’t have any. If you don’t have bicarbonate of soda, increase the baking powder to 1 tsp. No need to get the scales out, an ordinary coffee mug is all you need to measure. We like to make a pile of small pancakes (I cook 4 in a frying pan at a time) but feel free to make yours larger.

A healthy lunch

You just can’t go wrong with a bowl of soup at any time of year. At the moment leeks are sweet and plentiful so it’s a great time to make leek and tattie soup, but this method can be adapted to any vegetables you have.

Leek and tattie soup

 A lunch table set with a white table cloth and a laid out bowl of creamy leek & potato soup in a white bowl, a silver spoon and side plate of crusty bread. There is also a linen lined basket of crusty bread and duck egg blue ceramic bowl.
Leek & Potato Soup

For this recipe you can leave out the butter and milk to make it suitable for vegan diets- or just if you don’t have any! The quantities of vegetables can be adjusted to what you have, aim for about double the volume of leeks to potatoes if you can.

Leeks can be gritty, so to clean them well – first chop off the thicker green ends and the stalk end too, slice the leek half way through lengthways, and then clean under running water so you can wash out any soil from between the layers of the leek.

You will need a large saucepan, a chopping board, a sharp knife, a wooden spoon and a hand-blender if you want to make your soup smooth.

A colourful supper

This bright pink risotto is sure to cheer up a dull day!

A white ceramic bowl containing a vibrant red beetroot risotto meal topped with walnuts and parmesan cheese
Beetroot & Feta Risotto

Risotto has a reputation for being difficult and requiring hours of work. By following this recipe, hopefully you will realise it’s easier than you think. Yes, it requires a bit of attention and frequent stirring, but personally I find it a very relaxing dish to cook. It is worth getting everything prepared before you start, the first time you make it anyway.

This recipe uses pre-cooked beetroot which is easy to find and lasts for ages in the fridge. Be sure to buy the ones not in vinegar. If you have fresh beetroot instead, roast them for around an hour at 180 degrees until a knife meets little resistance (like baking a potato). Allow to cool a little then the skins should easily slip off.

Something sweet

A wooden kitchen surface with a blue kettle, two filled cups of tea & victoria cake sponge on a white cake plate decorated with white icing and colourful hundreds & thousands sugar sprinkles. There are a row of colourful mugs hanging on the wll above a white tiled wall.
Victoria Sponge for tea!

Many of us will have a family member celebrate a birthday or other occasion when we are at home, so having an easy cake recipe will serve you well. You don’t need to wait for a special day though, we made this one simply because we really fancied cake.

This recipe has been handed down my family for generations, and I learned it as 6,6,6 and 3 – as in 6oz of butter, sugar and flour and three eggs. The same recipe is baked by my extended family across the world, so hopefully it will earn a place in your kitchen. To this day it is the only recipe I use imperial measurements for, just for tradition, but I’ll give you metric measurements too so don’t worry!

This weekend would have been our Spring into Edible Gardening Event keep an eye on our Twitter feeds for more Spring Gardening content…@Edible Garden1, @Botanic Cottage.