The idea of this blog is to share ideas for using hand-made pots to serve good food.

Eating with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures. I hope to show how the warmth and character of hand made ceramics can really enhance the pleasure of cooking, serving and eating food.

This blog will include pots from other potters as well as my own and recipes for the food which I enjoy, hoping that you will like it too.

Sunday, 26 February 2012

Venison Casserole

When I was thinking about starting this blog, I was wondering what to call it and nearly went for the name, CASSEROLE, as it is both a pot and a kind of food or cooking method.  In the end, I thought that 'pots and food' was simpler and might catch more interest.
  I have been making some casseroles of the pot variety, which I am quite pleased with and have been trying out some recipes to cook in them.  I like using game, such as venison, as I like the idea that the animals I eat have had the chance to roam free. This is my favourite recipe to date.   

 Venison Casserole 
This is a hearty meat casserole which also includes a fair amount of vegetables.  It needs a long, slow cook, so not a good recipe if you are in a hurry.  I have made this with chestnuts instead of the butternut squash, which was delicious, but chestnuts are not always easy to find.  The quantities given are really just a guide and can be adjusted to what you have or what you like.  The prunes add a fruity sweetness which complements the meat very well.  You could omit them and serve with a redcurrant jelly on the side instead.

500 g / 1 lb diced venison
200 g / 8oz shallots
100 g / 4oz button mushrooms
200 g / 8oz butternut squash
1or 2 sticks of celery
100 g / 4oz prunes
thyme - a couple of sprigs
or 1 tsp dried thyme
bay leaf
1 large glass red wine
beef stock or water
oil - about 2 tablespoons
salt and pepper

  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C/400°F/ Gas 6
  • Dice the venison into pieces about 2-3 cms sq and roll in seasoned flour
  • Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan and brown the meat in batches
  • Put the browned meat on one side and fry the shallots (peeled and whole, or cut in half if they are large) in the same pan, until they begin to colour.
  • Add the finely chopped celery and the button mushrooms and fry for a couple of minutes.
  • Add the meat back into the pan with the other ingredients and add the red wine. Let it simmer a little and then add the butternut squash, peeled and diced, the herbs and the prunes.
  • Add enough beef stock or water to cover. 
  • Put in an ovenproof casserole and place in the pre-heated oven.
  • Cook at 200°C for half an hour and then turn the heat down to 180°C /350°F Gas 4 and cook for a further one and a half hours or more.  Check to see if the casserole needs more liquid every half hour or so.  The sauce should thicken up into a delicious gravy. Taste to see if more seasoning is needed and add salt and pepper as required.
  • Serve with mashed potato, polenta or anything which will absorb the gravy. 

I have been having trouble getting a decent photo of the casseroles (as in pots) which I have made, as they are very reflective, but I will have another go and post a photo soon.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Butternut Squash and Carrot Soup

This is the recipe for the soup which I posted about in my search for the perfect soup bowl.

Butternut squash and carrot soup
This soup is the ideal autumn and winter comfort food, with its sweetness and creamy texture.  You could give it extra warmth by the addition of spices, such as roasted and ground cumin and half a fresh chilli added when the onions are frying. 
It can be also made richer by a spoonful of cream stirred in at the end.

Half a medium sized butternut squash
3 – 4 carrots
I medium sized potato
I onion
I stick of celery
2 tablespoons of olive oil
500 ml Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Cream and parsley to garnish

  • Roughly chop the onion. 
  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed saucepan and add the chopped onion.  Fry over a gentle heat until lightly browned.
  • Meanwhile chop the celery, peel and chop the carrots, potato and butternut squash into small chunks.  
  • Add the chopped vegetables and stock, plus enough water to cover the vegetables comfortably.
  • Season with a generous pinch of salt and freshly ground pepper.
  • Bring to the boil and then simmer, covered, for about 30 minutes until the vegetables are soft. Liquidize the soup to a smooth consistency and serve with a swirl of cream and a sprinkling of finely chopped parsley.

I hope you enjoy this soup as much as I do.  

Monday, 6 February 2012

A Meal with Sandy Brown

Yesterday evening I went to have a meal with Sandy Brown at her home in Appledore.  The meal was prepared by Shun, a young Japanese potter who had been working with me last December and is now helping Sandy.  My present apprentice, Curtis, also lent a hand.  Shun had cooked some delicious 'takekomi-gohan' - rice cooked with small pieces of chicken and vegetables flavoured with soy sauce - and then made tempura of vegetables and prawns.

 The food was served on pots made by Sandy.  The overall feeling of the pots and food was one of generosity.  The pots are generous in size, accommodating generous amounts of food and giving the food plenty of room, so that it is easy to appreciate both the food and the pot it is served in.

The tea cups shown here were used for a dipping sauce and the tempura was laid on the large slab platter as it was cooked.


Sandy's pots have vitality and strength, as well as a feeling of playfulness and joy, which make eating a pleasure and give a sense of occasion to the simplest of dishes.  The meal was a great example of how much hand-made pots can contribute to the enjoyment of food.  They also look great on the shelf when not in use.

Friday, 3 February 2012

The Search for the Perfect Soup Bowl

  Today as I discovered that the water pipes in both the workshop and the house had frozen, I was happy to take comfort from a bowl of butternut squash and carrot soup which I had made earlier when the water was still running.  Nothing is as restorative in these cold winter days as a lunchtime bowl of soup with some home made bread and cheese.

Over the years I have tried several different shapes for soup bowls.  I think that the inspiration for this shape comes from French soup bowls and has evolved along the way.  This shape seems to hug the soup to keep it warm.  The handles add a tactile something and are satisfying to make.
The handles are made from a ball of clay, flattened into a disc, cut in half and then impressed with a flat, round-ended wooden tool, fanning out from the centre.  The slip pools in the cracks, emphasising the design, and I rub back the slip to show the clay which gives it extra depth.  The rich green copper glaze teams up easily with most soups in terms of colour.

When I trained at Dartington, we made 'GP' bowls - that is 'general purpose', soup/cereal bowls.  My current GP bowl is also good for soup.  This is it with the soup I had today.  I will post the recipe soon, when I have written it down and tested it again.

I also make a soup bowl with little rolled textured handles.  Because of their shape, the portions tend to look smaller, though they hold as much as the GP bowl.  They are also good for serving individual gratins and starters.

At the other end of the scale, I make soup/pasta bowls with wide rims, which although the capacity is not that much bigger, have a much more generous feel. They are the kind of bowl to use if you are serving soup as the main part of a lunch, giving the feeling that you are having a 'proper meal'.

As they say on The Apprentice, the search............. continues.