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 well and staying cosy this month. We were delighted to get snow last week as it provided instant half-term entertainment! The Botanic Gardens also looked ever so beautiful covered in snow.

This month feels like a bit of a transition month in the kitchen for me. I want bright, fresh spring-like flavours like the leek, pea and feta frittata we’re making for lunch, and the avocado toast for breakfast. However the nights are still chilly, so cosy, comfort foods are definitely still very welcome. The creamy butternut squash and kale pasta is just right for a dark night, add some garlic bread if you’re really hungry.

Homeschooling is continuing here so the baking idea is one for a wet afternoon- gingerbread people, hearts, or whatever you choose. The ones in the picture were baked and decorated by my partner’s 5 year old, so hopefully that will convince you that they’re pretty easy and fun! A full biscuit tin and a large pot of coffee certainly helps with homeschooling and working from home too.

I hope you enjoy trying these recipes, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Take care,


A simple breakfast

Avocado toast with poached egg and seeds

Avocados are a bit of a treat, we don’t grow them in the UK so when I do have one I want to make it a bit special.  They’re a bit of a pain to ripen, but when they’re ready this is one of my favourite ways to enjoy them. I’ll suggest a few more alternative toppings underneath the recipe.

This recipe includes instructions on poaching eggs, but feel free to use your own method instead. The biggest help for poached eggs regardless of method is to use the freshest, best eggs that you can. Keep older eggs for omelettes or frittatas, they just won’t hold together for poaching.

A white plate with a slice of toast topped with bright green avacadoa, a split poached egg garnished with smoked paprika
Avocado toast with poached egg and seeds

A tasty lunch

Leek, pea and feta frittata

This frittata makes a great lunch and is good hot or cold. The peas and mint in this recipe give it a spring-like flavour, new potatoes are really good in this recipe too if you have them. You can also use this recipe as a base to use up odds and ends of vegetables in your fridge, if you have eggs and potatoes then a frittata is your versatile fridge friend!

A white dish serving Leek, pea and feta frittata with a green salad
Leek, pea and feta frittata

A cosy supper

Creamy butternut squash and kale pasta

This is a lovely vegetable-packed pasta recipe that I really hope you’ll enjoy.

A table set for dinner with a black cooking pot, a candle and a white dish serving Creamy butternut squash and kale pasta
Creamy butternut squash and kale pasta

Something sweet

Gingerbread biscuits

Whatever shape you like your gingerbread, these are so tasty. If you have small people at home then this is a great rainy day project. If not then they will probably look more professional than mine! This recipe makes a lot of biscuits so for a smaller household, you may want to freeze some of the dough. Simply roll into a ball, wrap in cling film or a freezer bag and freeze. Thaw overnight when you want to use the other half.

A table set for decorating some ginger bread biscuits with a cooling tray of biscuits, bowl of white icing and small bowls of sweets
Gingerbread biscuits

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