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 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 this finds you all well. Happily, I know some of you will have had your vaccine by now. Hopefully it won’t be too long until we all can feel a bit safer.

It’s been wonderful to see the first signs of Spring around the city crocuses, daffodils and the increasingly light evenings. The woods smell of wild garlic and everything feels a bit brighter.

This time of year is actually quite a tricky one for seasonal produce, traditionally this is the ‘hungry gap’ when we’d be relying on depleting stores of winter vegetables and still waiting for spring produce. Our recipes this week include potatoes, parsnips, leeks, mushrooms and broccoli, all of which are grown in the UK.  I’ll make no apology for including some tomatoes and peppers too, thankfully our European friends keep us stocked in vitamins and colour!

We’re making tattie scones for breakfast, a brilliant way to use up leftover mashed potato. For lunch there’s a bright tomato and pepper soup. This freezes well so why not make a big batch and save some for another day? For supper we’re making a simple creamy gnocchi with broccoli and leeks. I’ve also found my new favourite way with parsnips baked into a cake with a gorgeous lemon cream cheese icing. Let me know what you think! It’s been very popular in this house.

Take care and keep cooking!


A hot breakfast

Tattie scones for breakfast

The first time I made tattie scones it was a revelation. They’re so easy and much tastier than shop bought ones.

For this recipe you need cold mashed potatoes. The best way to do this is to have mashed potatoes with your evening meal (I make mine with a little milk and butter) and make extra on purpose (This doesn’t always work out in my house but I try!) Kept in the fridge the mash will keep for a few days before you make your scones.

I’ve given measurements for 500g mash but really what matters is proportion, you want roughly 4 parts mashed potato to 1 part flour. You may have to alter this a little depending on how dry your mash is.

A white dish set with some round tattie scones fried eggs and fried mushrooms.
Tattie Scones

A tasty lunch

Tomato, pepper and basil soup 

Tomatoes and peppers aren’t seasonal in the UK at the moment but I love this soup too much to only eat it in the summer. Tomatoes and peppers are both packed with vitamins.

This is the perfect recipe to rescue a tasteless tomato, or one that is going a bit soft. All tomatoes are welcome here! The combination of fresh and tinned tomatoes works really well, but if you have no fresh then use 3 tins.

We like this soup with some cheese on toast on the side.

A pine table set with a dish of cheese on toast and a bowl of homemade tomato soup
Tomato, pepper and basil soup

A simple supper

Creamy broccoli and leek gnocchi with hazelnuts

This is a lovely quick meal that gives you a good hit of vegetables. Gnocchi is a great thing to have in your cupboard, it keeps for ages and is nice and filling too. I found a green spinach gnocchi when I was testing this recipe which made a fun change.

The gnocchi is quickly steeped in boiling water and then added to the sauce which will save time and pots and pans on the stove! In this recipe you’ll notice that I ask you to keep some of the cooking water and add it to the sauce. I also do this every time I make pasta. Pasta (or gnocchi) cooking water is perfect for thinning pasta sauces if needed. Here the cooking water blends with the cream cheese and the parmesan to make a smooth creamy sauce. Hazelnuts add a tasty crunch and give you extra protein.

A white dish serving Creamy broccoli and leek gnocchi with hazelnuts.
Creamy broccoli and leek gnocchi with hazelnuts

Something sweet

Parsnip and walnut cake

We all have our favourite vegetables and the ones we’re not crazy about. For me parsnips are in the latter category. If I bought my vegetables individually then I’d skip them, but as I get a veg box delivery they just keep coming so I have to find ways to use them up, and make them delicious. This is my newest kitchen ‘invention’ and I have to say, I’m pretty delighted with it!

If you don’t have parsnips then this recipe will work with carrots too. If you don’t have sultanas and walnuts you can add something similar (dried fruit, nuts, seeds) or leave them out. A simple white icing is also tasty if you don’t enjoy cream cheese icing.

The Edible Gardening Project is kindly supported by players of the People’s Postcode Lottery.