Tom Cooks! Top 5 of 2020


Slow Roasted LambTom’s Food! will be celebrating its first birthday in a few short weeks. Now if you feel you’ve been reading my reviews and recipes for a lot longer, worry not. You’re not in an early Alzheimer’s stage (just yet). The very first review was written in October 2014 and the first recipe just over a year later. But the biggest leap forward was the creation of the Tom’s Food! site, with its more attractive layout and search facility.

The biggest difference is one which you can’t see, something called Google Analytics. I can see it, but I’m not at all sure I understand it; however, by playing about with it over the last few weeks I have been able to establish the most read recipes. Any previous review of the year has been based on my scoring of restaurants. This one is based on readers’ choice. Interestingly, with the exception of the tortilla, they are all winter warmers, so it’s appropriate that they should reappear now. It would take up far too much space to repeat them at length, so I’ve provided the link to take you there. Incidentally, don’t write in to complain that some are dated 2019. When I started the site, I had to give you more than one article to read, did I not?

Thanks to everyone who contributed or commented in 2020 – please keep them coming – and, of course, thanks to all of you for following.

5   Pheasant Crumble by Royal Appointment

This recipe came to me via Nigel and Andrew, collectively The Nosey Chef. They are two university pals who spend much of their time researching and cooking fine food. Find their excellent website here. They were good enough to pass on this recipe which HRH Prince Charles shared when he was guest editor of Country Life. It is incredibly rich, but very tasty, and pheasant is in season for another month.

Pheasant Crumble

Photo courtesy of The Nosey Chef

4   Spanish Tortilla

The popularity of this one took me by surprise. Having said that, I had always quite enjoyed tortilla in my visits to Spain, but had no idea how it stayed so moist when cold. The answer is due in no small measure to the truly vast amount of oil used in its manufacture. The following week’s article on its Italian sister, frittata, was also well received.


3   Chicken, Leek and Red Pepper Pie

I confess to being quite chuffed that this is in at number 3, as it’s an invention of my own. Not all that innovative, I grant you, but one of the problems about a typical Scottish pie is that, no matter how good it tastes, it generally looks like s***. And for obvious reason – steak, kidney, mutton and the like just look brown. A combination of chicken and leek is a classic, but the addition of glistening little jewels of red pepper and flecks of tarragon make this a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

Chicken and leek pie
2   Meg Johnston’s Scotch Broth

Well, all in the family. My ma’s recipe for a Scottish classic. Any fool can make a vegetable broth, but this has many extra dimensions, and few get it right. I have to confess that it’s not a favourite of mine: if I want to do a hearty, multi-veg soup/stew I tend to go for a minestrone. But if you want to make this properly, find out how here.

Scotch Broth
1   Lamb Shoulder with Leeks, Potatoes and Onions

So many people have come back to me and said how much they enjoyed this recipe, so I’m not surprised to see it at number one. With shoulder it has to be a slow cook, but try it with hogget or mutton for even more flavour. The timing can vary quite a bit. When you take the lamb off during the last phase, you may need to cook the veg for longer to reduce the liquid to a sticky brown consistency.

Slow Roasted Lamb



  1. LJ on 31st December 2020 at 11:50 am

    Well done – seems like more than a year of fascinating facts.

  2. Irene Hunter on 31st December 2020 at 5:40 pm

    Thank you, once again, for all your hard work, especially throughout this year of all years, Tom!
    “Good riddance” indeed to 2020! Roll out the vaccine! Roll on Spring! Better times to come!
    Taking this opportunity to wish you and L. and all your readers all the very best for 2021! Happy New Year! Cheers!
    Irene + John

    • Tom Johnston on 2nd January 2021 at 10:45 am

      I second all of that. All the best.

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