Seasonal Recipes from The Olive Hill

As you read, you will notice that my recipes use the terms “about”, “chuck” and “bung” quite a lot. I am a bit of a “whatever” cook, and tend to make recipes up according to what I find in the fridge or store cupboard. None of these recipes needs to be followed religiously, if a recipe calls for very specific ingredients, weighed out in absolutely precise quantities, I don’t cook it.

Except for Yorkshire puddings …

Covid Cooking, Spring 2020

I know that sourdough starter needs regular feeding, but I really can’t bear throwing away the discarded portion. Here’s a selection of the things I’ve been using it for

Original Blog Post Here:

Bastion Biscuits with Lockdown Jam

Cheesey Oatcakes with tomato jam

For the oatcakes (makes around 24 with a 5cm diameter):

  • 150g porridge oats
  • 150g sourdough starter discard (the portion that you remove when feeding your starter)
  • 4 tablespoons of melted butter
  • 150g strong cheese – grated. I use parmesan, but cheddar would also be delicious
  • half a teaspoon of mustard powder
  • pinch of salt

Heat the oven to 190 degrees (mine is a fan oven)

Place the dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. Fold in the sourdough starter, then butter, and finally the cheese.

Knead the mixture into a ball, place on a floured surface, and roll out to a thickness of approximately half a centimetre. Cut into cookie shapes, and place on a baking tray. I always use floured baking parchment too. Place in the oven for 15 minutes, or until they are golden brown, and smell delicious. Allow to cool on a cooling rack (if you can wait that long), and place in an airtight container. They will last for several weeks.

For the Lockdown Jam:

  • One can of chopped tomatoes (even better with fresh tomatoes, but you do need to peel and chop them!)
  • 3 tablespons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 1 heaped tablespoon of dark brown sugar
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar

Put the olive oil in a medium saucepan, and fry off the onion until it’s translucent. Add the sugar, and fry for a further minute. Chuck everything else in, stir well, and bring to the boil. Lower the heat, and simmer for 15 minutes.

Sourdough Starter Flat-breads

A really quick and easy lunch bread, delicious with “leftover soup”!

  • 150g sourdough start discard
  • 150g stoneground flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • a pinch of salt

Basically, bung all the ingredients into a mixing bowl, and mix with a spoon to form a rough dough. Tip out onto a floured board, and knead for around 5 minutes until the dough is smooth and elastic. You may need to add a little extra water to get a decent consistency.

Pop the dough into a bowl, cover with a tea towel, and rest it for half an hour or so, longer is also fine.

Divide into four balls, and roll each ball out as thin as you dare. Cook each bread over a medium heat in a frying pan, turning once. Eat while warm.

Sourdough Cheese and Bacon Muffins

  • 100g cubed pancetta, cooked
  • 1 cup strong cheese, grated (I use parmesan, but cheddar would be good too)
  • 1 cup sourdough starter
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).

Sift the flour and other dry ingredients into a mixing bowl. In a second bowl, combine the sourdough starter, egg and oil, then tip into the bowl of dry ingredients. Mix, then add the pancetta and cheese. Stir until combined into a gloopy, messy dough.

Fill 12 muffin cases (in a muffin tin), and bake for 20 to 25 minutes


Stringozzi al’ Olive Hill (Serves four)

Original Blog Post Here

For the pasta:

  • 400g type 00 flour
  • 1 free range egg
  • water – approximately 250 ml
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the sauce:

  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • 150g mushrooms, chopped
  • four high quality sausages, removed from their skins and cubed
  • 100g of cubed pancetta
  • 50g of black pitted olives, halved
  • one can of chopped tomatoes
  • good quality vegetable stock
  • salt, pepper

To make the pasta (with credit to Darling Daughter, who made this batch for the photos!) :

Measure out your flour, and put it straight onto the surface which you plan to use for kneading.  Make a hole in the centre, and break an egg into it.  With a fork, gently beat the egg, and add a half of your water.  With the fork, gently start to combine the flour into your liquid centre.  Now it’s time to get your hands dirty.  Roll up your sleeves, and get working the dough!  Gradually combine all the ingredients, adding more water as necessary, until you have a soft dough.  Knead until it becomes soft and elastic.  This will take a good 10 minutes, and you will need to add water, and occasionally flour as necessary.

Once the dough is elastic and pliable, roll into a ball, wrap, and set aside to rest for at least an hour.

Cut your dough into four, evenly sized portions, then roll each into a ball.  Coat your hands with olive oil.  With your first dough ball, make a hole in the middle, so that it resembles a doughnut.  Using a kneading and stretching motion (as per the youtube clip), gradually work your “doughnut” into something that vaguely resembles a deflated inner tube of a bicycle tyre.  Place it back on the table and gently open it up, creating circular pasta that resembles shoe laces.

Repeat with the other three portions.  Once complete, coat all of your “shoelaces” with flour, and if not cooking immediately, set aside, covered with a clean tea towel, until you are ready to cook.


For the sauce:

In a large pan, heat a couple of tablespoons of quality extra virgin olive oil.  Add the onions and fry until translucent.  Add the chilli and mushrooms, and fry until they soften.  Remove from the pan and set aside.  Add the sausages to the pan, and fry for three to four minutes, then add the pancetta, and continue frying for a further three or four minutes.  Put the vegetables back into the pan, then add the tomatoes, olives, salt and pepper, then bring to the boil.

Once boiling, add stock, and cover.  Cook for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of well salted water to the boil.  Add your stringozzi, and stir once.  Boil for two to three minutes, then remove from the heat and drain well.

Serve immediately, and rather than parmesan cheese, try serving with grated pecorino cheese instead.


Hearthy Beef Casserole (serves six)

original blog post here

  •  A slosh of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • One large onion, roughly chopped
  • 250g squash or pumpkin, chopped into one inch cubes
  • Two cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 kg stewing beef, in large chunks
  • Three table spoons of plain / 00 / general purpose flour
  • salt and pepper
  • Three large tomatoes, roughly chopped
  • 500 ml red wine
  • 250ml beef stock
  • a bouquet garnis

In a very heavy (I used cast iron) pan, fry off the onion in the olive oil, until it just begins to change colour.  Add the squash, and fry gently until it just begins to brown.  Add the garlic, and fry for a further two minutes.  Remove from the pan.

While the veg are frying, put the flour into a bowl, and season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper.  Toss the beef chunks in the flour, coating them with a thin layer of the flour.  Keep the left over flour for later, as you will use it to thicken your casserole.

Add another slosh of oil to your empty pan, and fry off the beef chunks, turning them frequently to prevent them from sticking.  Once all the beef is browned, return the onion and squash to the pan, and give the mixture a good mix, before adding the tomatoes, and frying them off for a couple of minutes.

Add the red wine, and allow it to boil for three or four minutes, before adding the beef stock.  Bring to the boil, and put the lid on.


For me, this is where the fun began.  I had lit the fire several hours previously, making sure that I had left space on the grate to place my casserole dish (a whole new take on “flame proof dish”).  I put a large, thick olive wood log onto the grate to keep the flames away from my stew, placed my pot onto the grate away from the fire itself, and simply left it sitting there for the next five hours.

If you don’t have a large, open fire to hand, cook in a warm (around 140 degrees) oven for as long as you can – at least 3 hours.  This dish would also work well in a “crock pot” style slow cooker, or in the simmering oven of an Aga.

Around half an hour before you plan to eat, remove the pan from whatever heat source you are using, and stir in the flour you set aside earlier.  Pop the lid back on, and cook for another half hour.

Eat with baked potatoes, and friends.

Vegan Squash and Tomato Soup (serves six)

Original Blog Post here

  • three tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • three medium onions, finely chopped
  • A medium sized squash, de-seeded and peeled, cut into chunks
  • 1.5kg of tomatoes (ours were a mixture of under and over-ripe as the tomato season is nearly over), roughly chopped
  • half a red chilli pepper, de-seeded and finely chopped
  • Vegetable Stock to cover
  • salt and pepper to season
  1. Gently fry the onions in a large saucepan, until they turn opaque.
  2. Add the squash, and continue to fry off over a gently heat.
  3. Add the chilli pepper, fry for one minute
  4. Add the tomatoes, and fry until they start to bubble, and release their juices.
  5. Throughout this phase, keep turning the vegetables, in order that they cook evenly, and don’t stick to the pan.
  6. Bring the mixture to a slurpy boil, then add your stock so that the mixture is covered.
  7. Bring to the boil, season, cover, and simmer gently for 45 minutes to one hour, by which time the squash should be thoroughly tender.
  8. Remove from the hear, and either eat immediately, or, according to your preference, liquidise, whizz up in a food processor, or mash the mixture to a chunky soup.

East with crusty bread, and enjoy the view …


Vegan Tomato Soup (Serves six)

You can find the blog post about this recipe here


  • 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, chopped
  • 1 kg over ripe tomatoes (I used coeur de boeuf from the garden)
  • 1 litre good vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 100g pasta – a small variety such as stelle or midolline is ideal
  1. In a large pan, fry the onion and pepper in the olive oil for 3 to 5 minutes, until they are just starting to brown.
  2. Add the tomatoes, and continue to fry until the tomatoes start to give off their juice.
  3. Add the stock, and bring to the boil.  Simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes.
  4. Push all of the soup through a sieve, or put through a mouli, into a second saucepan.  When you are left with the “mush” of the vegetables, add this to the clear liquid, and reheat gently to boiling, stirring gently to prevent it from sticking to the pan.
  5. Once boiling, season to taste with salt and pepper, then simmer for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Add the pasta, and boil for another 10 minutes.

Serve with lightly toasted crusty bread, drizzled with a little extra virgin olive oil.


Frittata with Courgette Flowers

Serves two hungry farmers

original blog post: Lunch in a Hurry: Frittata with Courgette Flowers

  • A slug of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • One large onion, finely diced
  • 3 small (ours were tiny) courgettes, finely diced – one normal sized one would suffice
  • 2 tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 6 courgette flowers, prepared as below, and chopped
  • 6 fresh, free range eggs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

In a large, deep frying pan, heat the oil and add the diced onion.  Fry gently until it begins to sweat.  Add the courgette, and continue to fry for a couple of minutes.  Add the tomato, and fry for a further couple of minutes.

Meanwhile, crack the eggs into a large bowl, and prepare the courgette flowers.  Wash them thoroughly, then remove the stem, the little green leaves at the base of the flower, and the stamen.  Chop roughly, then add to the eggs, and beat the mixture gently until it is thoroughly mixed.  I like to season this mixture with salt and a little pepper.

Once the tomatoes are starting to give off their juice, pour the egg and flower mixture into the pan, and lower the heat.  As the mixture starts to thicken, pull it back from the sides, and allow further mixture to seep into the gaps you create.  Once cooked thoroughly, pop under a pre-heated grill, then once lightly browned on top, cut in two, and serve immediately.