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 Botanic Cottage is still closed due to 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 and have managed to avoid the rain! It’s been all change in my house as my children have gone back to school, it feels so strange after so many months with everyone at home. I’m not sure if it’s the weather or the new term, but certainly everything is starting to feel a bit autumnal. Today we’ve got recipes that are perfect for this change of seasons while still enjoying the late summer vegetables.

The breakfast recipe is a Shakshuka – varieties of which are eaten all over the Middle East and North Africa. It’s such a wonderful way to cook with the delicious British tomatoes we are enjoying this year. There’s a summery vegetable risotto that is also a great comforting meal on a cold day- you can change the vegetables as the season progresses. There’s also an aromatic fish curry recipe that I love and hope you will too. Finally, because we’re not quite finished with summer- an indulgent strawberry and cream sponge cake for spoiling your loved ones.

Take care and happy cooking!


A special brunch


Image shows a dish of bread, a fried egg and shakshuka a vegetarian dish made with tomaotes
Why not try this vegetarian dish this weekend?

This is a hearty vegetarian brunch dish and perfect for a weekend morning with some fresh bread and a cup of coffee. I also like to eat this with a simple garlic yogurt- simply crush a clove of garlic and add 3 tbsp greek yogurt, 1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil and a pinch of salt. Delicious!

A hearty lunch

Summer vegetable risotto

Image shows a large pan of risotto on the kitchen counter. this risotto uses summer vegetables.
Risotto takes time, but the results are worth it. Adapt this recipe to use up leftover veg in the fridge.

This is a really lovely risotto recipe, and one that you can easily adapt depending on what vegetables you have. I like to serve it with a salad too, and sometimes put some crunchy seeds on the top. Have a play and see how you like to eat yours.

A tasty weeknight supper

Coconut fish curry

Image shows a large bowl of curry topped with lots of fresh herbs
A quick mid-week dinner doesn’t need to be boring. Fish curry is a great option.

This is a great, simple curry recipe and a mid-week staple in my house. With rice on the side it’s on the table in thirty minutes and is much healthier than most take-away curries. I use frozen fish here but fresh is also lovely, just cook it for a little less time.

If you have a small food processor you can whizz your garlic, ginger and chilli together to save time. Also, remember to be very careful when using fresh chilli, wash your hands thoroughly and don’t touch your face!

Something sweet

Strawberry and cream sponge cake

Image shows a sponge cake that has been filled liberally with strawberries and cream
Enjoyed strawberries and cream this summer? Why not take it up a notch with this strawberry and cream sponge cake!

I’m not quite ready to give up on summer cooking, not while we still have Scottish strawberries around! To me this is the cake for a celebration, nobody can fail to be cheered by strawberries and cream. I made it to celebrate the first week back at school – and hope to make it to celebrate our return to the Botanic Cottage in the future.

Our Community Cook Clubs at the Botanic Cottage are kindly supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.