Cook Dorset with Lesley Waters

You’ll find more of Lesley’s Bonfire favourites at

I can’t believe that it’s a year, almost to the day, since we started on one of the biggest building projects of our life – the restoration of Abbotts Hill Farm in Dorset.

For those Dorset readers who know me it’s no secret that it’s been a challenging time. Watching the skill and hard graft of the builders, electricians and thatchers as they coped with the wind, rain, snow and mud has been quite an education. I have never made so many pots of tea in my life!

This time last year we had just begun the build, now we are nearly finished. A feeling of excitement is in the air. My husband, Tim, who is project-managing the whole thing, is looking remarkably calm and this makes me very nervous indeed. But for me, as the evenings get longer and the temperature drops, I’m longing to get in my new kitchen and start cooking dishes to keep out the first winter chill.

Bonfire Night, being an outdoor autumn celebration, will come in very handy indeed, as entertaining my large extended family is a little on the cramped side until the building work is finished.

As a child I loved Bonfire Night – eating outside when it was cold, wrapped to within a inch of my life, red nosed, tucking into hot food and slurping down warm mugs of hot chocolate with my family in the glow of the bonfire.

Food always tastes better outdoors, even if there’s a real nip in the air. So this month I’m going to give you our Guy Fawkes family favourite in the form of a heart-warming vegetable broth serve with rustic garlic toasts. Hopefully this should keep everyone stoked up and able to survive a nippy November night in the great outdoors.

Most Read

Bonfire Barley Broth with Garlic Bread

This hearty broth of root vegetables is thickened with pearl barley, which has a lovely, nutty flavour and almost creamy texture when used in soups and stews

Serves 4 

For the broth:

1½ litres (2½ pints) chicken or vegetable stock

100g (3½ oz) pearl barley

5 tbsp white wine

1 leek, finely chopped

2 sticks celery, finely chopped

2 large carrots, peeled and finely chopped

1 medium parsnip, peeled and finely chopped

2 tbsp sun-dried tomato purée

2 bay leaves

2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

For the garlic toasts

1 rustic loaf, sliced

1 garlic clove, peeled

Extra virgin olive oil for drizzling


1. Pour the stock into a pan, add the pearl barley and gently boil for 10 minutes.

2. Pour the wine into a large pan, add the leek, cover and steam-fry for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

3. Add the remaining vegetables and cook for a further 5 minutes. Stir in tomato purée, bay leaves, stock and pearl barley, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, toast bread on both sides. Rub toasts with garlic clove and drizzle with olive oil.

5. Season soup to taste with freshly ground black pepper and stir in parsley. Pour into large warm mugs and serve.

Spicy Sausage Pasties

These quick to make pasties are best served warm

Makes 8

15ml (1tbsp) olive oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

75g (2 3/4oz) red lentils

30ml (2tbsp) mild curry paste

300ml (1/2 pint) vegetable stock

55g (2oz) frozen peas or petit pois

4 good quality sausages, skins removed

375g pack organic, pure butter Dorset shortcrust pastry

1 egg, beaten


1. In a pan, heat the oil. Add the onion and fry for 5 minutes until softened. Add the lentils and curry paste and cook for 2 minutes.

2. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until most of the stock has been absorbed.

3. Meanwhile, heat a non-stick frying pan. Fry the sausages over a moderate heat, breaking them up with a wooden spoon. Cook for 6-8 minutes. Remove from pan and set to one side to cool.

4. Add the peas to the lentils and season to taste. Set aside to cool. Mix together the sausage and lentil mixture.

5. Roll out the pastry into 8 saucer sized circles. Pile the sausage and lentil mixture onto half of each pastry disc.

6. Brush the edges with beaten egg and fold the pastry over to form a seal. Crimp the edges then brush well with beaten egg. Chill for 15 minutes.

7. Preheat the oven to 200C, 400F, gas Mark 6. Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden.

Hot Chocolate 

Serves 1

225ml / 8 fl oz milk

45g / 1 ½ oz chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids), finely grated

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons brandy, optional

lightly whipped double cream to serve (optional)

baby marshmallows


1. Heat the milk to just below boiling point. Add the chocolate and sugar and stir over a very low heat until the chocolate has melted. Stir in the brandy and then pour into a mug. If you are feeling indulgent finish with a spoonful of whipped Dorset cream and top with some marsh mellows.