With their wonderful, almost meaty flavour, walnuts are my favourite nut. I truly think they go well with everything. We have some really productive trees in Italy, and if Domenico hasn’t stripped them to make his walnut liqueur, then I get the kids to collect them all. 

  • 180g walnuts
  • 100g Parmesan, grated
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 60ml good olive oil
  • 250g ricotta (only use if you’re eating the pesto immediately) 

Serves 6–8

In a food processor, grind the walnuts, Parmesan and garlic to a paste. Add the olive oil and put the mixture into a jar, with a thin layer of oil over the top if you’re keeping the pesto for later.

If you’re eating it there and then, mix the ricotta into the pesto until it’s evenly distributed. This is great with gnocchi, or stirred into a plain risotto.

Buy Cookie Cooks by Melanie McCallum & Domenico Del Priore here

Amazing with our meringues, also good added to granola and yoghurt, spread on a warm scone or simply eaten on its own with a spoon…


  • 4 egg yolks
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 60g unsalted butter, cut into 1cm cubes
  • 100ml lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest (use unwaxed lemons)

Whisk the egg yolks and sugar together in a bowl until completely combined and foamy, then add the butter, lemon juice and zest. Set the bowl over a pan with about an inch of simmering water in it and stir continuously until the mixture thickens. This takes a bit of time, but don’t try to rush it and turn the temperature up too high or your curd will end up scrambling – not a good look.

Once it’s good and thick, pour into a sterilised jar and keep in the fridge.

Buy The Parlour Cafe Cookbook by Gillian Veal here.

Don’t you just love bones? I know I do. The shape, the feel… the sound! So much fun. And, guess what? You can also find them in some very tasty recipes. Here is one of my favourites. 

Short Ribs

Serves 4


1.8 kg beef short ribs, cut crosswise into pieces 6 – 8cm long

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 medium onions, chopped

2 tbsp plain flour

1 tbsp tomato puree

560ml dry red wine

1 tsp each dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, and sage, crushed

1 bay leaf

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

750ml beef stock

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 175°C

Salt and pepper the ribs. Heat the oil in a large casserole and brown the ribs slowly in batches so that they’re thoroughly browned. Set them aside.

Drain off most of the oil and drippings, leaving about three tablespoons in the pan. Brown the onions. Add the flour and tomato puree and cook, stirring constantly, for several minutes until uniform in texture.

Return the ribs (and any juices from plate) to the pan. Add the wine, bring to the boil and then lower the heat to simmer.

When the liquid is reduced to about half, add the herbs and garlic.

Add stock and bring to boil, then cover and transfer to the oven.

Bake until the ribs are very tender – about two and a half hours.

Take the ribs out of the pan and put on a serving plate.

Skim the fat from the remaining liquid and bring to a fast boil to thicken on the hob, then strain onto the ribs.


Buy The Killer Cookbook (ed. Caro Ramsay) here.

Human Black Pudding with Pan-Fried Scallops and Apple

No one who knows me will be remotely surprised that I’ve chosen a recipe with black pudding in it. I love the stuff and have travelled across Europe in search of the perfect plate of pud. I’ve seen it being made in Scotland, Ireland, France and Austria, and eaten it in Belgium, Germany, Italy, Spain and Slovakia.

It’s made from blood for goodness sake! What self-respecting crime writer couldn’t love a dish made from blood? For this particular recipe, I’ve chosen to go with black pudding made from human blood. I know what you’re thinking… too much effort. But it’s actually much simpler than you’d think.

The dish is very much like the classic French boudin noir – but with a twist. The French version is made of one third blood, one third fat, and one third onions. My version is more tartan noir than boudin noir, hence the human blood. Not human fat though, that would be disgusting.


You will need three plastic buckets, each containing equal portions of blood, fat and chopped onions, plus a funnel, a length of intestine and a large pot. Mix the blood, fat and onions together (a word of warning: human blood thickens slightly faster than pig’s blood so make sure you keep stirring it or else it will congeal and you don’t want that), season to taste, then pour the mixture through the funnel into the intestine. It is entirely a matter of personal choice whether you use human or animal intestine but the latter is generally easier to get hold off and much less fiddly.

Keep the intestine moving as the blood mix enters it to avoid lumps or twists, coiling it as you go. Once it is full, tie off the end and drop the coil into a pan of hot – not boiling – water and simmer for about twenty minutes. Et voila! Le boudin tartan noir.

If you are too lazy to bother making it from human blood then my recommendation would be either the fine ready-made black puddings of either MacLeod & MacLeod of Stornoway or Ramsay’s of Carluke.

For the rest of the dish, simply melt a little butter or oil in a medium-sized frying pan and flash fry the scallops for about a minute on each side. Grill or fry the black pudding for a similar amount of time; ideally it will be crispy on the outside and moist inside so that you can still savour the tang of the blood.

To serve, slice up a green apple, or perhaps a pink lady, and arrange on the plate. Place a piece of black pudding on the apple, then a scallop on top of that.

Here’s a bonus tip! Get an apple corer and carefully remove a small circle at the heart of one of the black pudding rings. Do the same with a slice of apple and pop the apple circle into the centre of the black pudding. You now have a rich, delicious piece of black pudding with a crisp, sweet heart. Do not discard the cored piece of black pudding as that would be a mortal sin, pop it on top of a scallop instead.

Every dish needs an accompaniment but personally I couldn’t recommend any of those vegetable things that I hear people are eating these days. Instead I would advocate a liberal, yet not excessive, pouring of HP Guinness Sauce. If you feel the need to drink, I’d suggest a glass of Shiraz or a pint of double chocolate stout would go with it nicely. Bon appétit!



Buy The Killer Cookbook (ed. Caro Ramsay) here.

A great time was had at our launch party for The Killer Cookbook at Dundee Literary Festival. Raising funds for the University of Dundee’s Million for a Morgue campaign, a packed house were there to hear the Killer Cookbook ringleader, Caro Ramsay, and her criminal co-horts Russel D. McLean, T. F. Muir  and Craig Robertson discuss food, killing and everything in between. Highlights? Caro Ramsay’s description of one of her villains watching TV eating chips, (it was all in the detail, you don’t want to know where he was keeping the salt) and Craig Robertson’s recipe for human blood pudding (it thickens faster than pigs blood, by the way). Professor Sue Black presented Caro with her very own mug shot courtesy of illustrator Steve Carroll, and then everyone turned to the buffet of sick snacks prepared from the book. Thanks to everyone who came along to make it such a great night.

What a motley crew of contributors we have for The Killer Cookbook, the motliest of whom Steve Carroll has captured in these frankly terrifying mug shots. Check out our rogues gallery…

The Gangland Queen

The Gangland Queen

The Launderer

The Launderer

The Henchman

The Henchman

The Undertaker

The Undertaker

The Hacker

The Hacker



Serves 4


  • 20g butter
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon allspice
  • 5cm piece of ginger, finely grated
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into 1cm dice
  • 3 apples, peeled, cored and roughly chopped
  • 1 1/2 litres vegetable stock
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper (pink peppercorns work particularly well)

Melt the butter in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic, frying them until they are translucent.

Add the allspice and ginger and fry for another couple of minutes, then the squash and apple and cook for about 10 minutes or until the squash starts to caramelise at the edges.

Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and simmer until the squash is absolutely soft – 20 minutes should do it. Blitz with your hand blender until smooth, and season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Buy The Parlour Cafe Cookbook by Gillian Veal here.

Serves 4


  • 200g Puy lentils
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 2 stalks of celery, chopped
  • a handful of fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 150ml extra virgin olive oil
  • 3-6 garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped (I use 6, but it all depends on how feisty you like it)
  • 50ml red wine vinegar
  • 100g goats cheese
  • a large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Cook the lentils in boiling water for 20 minutes until they are absolutely tender. Meanwhile, fry the onions, carrots, celery, thyme and the bay leaf in a couple of tablespoons of the olive oil until soft and lightly coloured.

In a food processor or with a hand blender, blend the garlic with the rest of the olive oil. With the motor still running, slowly pour in the vinegar and blend until it’s emulsified.

Drain the lentils and pour out onto a flattish dish. Smother in the garlicky dressing and turn gently so everything is glistening. Once the vegetables are cooked, gently mix them into the lentils and leave the salad to cool. Then toss gently with the goats cheese, torn into chunks, and the parsley. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper if you think it needs it.

Buy The Parlour Cafe Cookbook by Gillian Veal here.

Very easy and very delicious. Serves 4 as part of a big breakfast, 2 if you were just to put them on toast.


  • 4 ripe tomatoes, halved
  • 2 sprigs thyme
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 100ml olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon soft brown sugar
  • 30ml balsamic vinegar
  • 8 basil leaves
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C.

Put the halved tomatoes, cut side up, in a deep roasting tin.

Put all the other ingredients in a jug and blitz with a hand blender, then pour over the tomatoes and bake for 20 minutes until bubbling and starting to brown.

That’s it.

Buy The Parlour Cafe Cookbook by Gillian Veal here.

Parlour Cafe Cookbook invite


We’re delighted to be launching our new title The Parlour Cafe Cookbook at Dundee Literary Festival on October 29. There’ll be food, of course, and wine and music from Panda Su and the Autodisco DJs, as well as the opportunity to get a signed copy of the book straight from the box. Come along if you’re in town – email info@kitchenpress.co.uk for more info.