Gardening On the Menu -Book Review


2QT Ltd (Publishing ) rrp £15.99 -or £12.95 plus £3.95 postage direct from Martin.

ISBN: 9781912014569

This week I made the most delicious chocolate cake I’ve ever tasted, and it had a surprising ingredient: Beetroot! You couldn’t taste the beetroot, but it created a really moist and flavoursome cake.

Here’s the recipe, taken from Martin and Jill Fish’s new book Gardening on the Menu.


30g cocoa powder

180g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

225g caster sugar

Pinch of salt

225g beetroot, boiled until tender and left to cool

200ml sunflower oil

1tsp vanilla essence

3 eggs, beaten

100g plain chocolate, chopped small in a food processor

2lb loaf tin, greased and lined.


Sieve the flour, salt and cocoa powder together in a bowl. Stir in sugar and chocolate.

Peel and finely grate the betteroot. I whizzed it in a food processor then added the oil, eggs and vanilla essence and whizzed some more.

Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients. Pour in the beetroot mixture. Fold in slowly and don’t over-work.

Pour the batter into a prepared loaf tin and cook at 180C, 160C (fan oven) gas 4 , for 1- 1 1/4 hours. It is cooked when a skewer comes out clean. I placed tin foil over the cake after 45 mins as it was burning on top. Leave to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn out on a wire rack to cool. Sprinkle top with icing sugar.

I found mine kept for 2 days – it was so tasty everyone dived in and ate it! I froze some to see if that worked, and it was fine.

Here I am adding the beetroot mixture to the dry ingredients.

Looks a lovely colour

lovely for a picnic in the garden. Travels well, wrapped in foil.

I’m going to try the next recipe in the book – beetroot chutney, which looks delicious.

Martin Fish, who ran his own nursery, and presents gardening programmes on tv and radio, gives talks all around the country on growing all kinds of fruit and vegetables. For the last few years, his wife Jill has joined him for a talk called Gardening on the Menu. The cookery and gardening book is based on their talk.

Martin has been growing vegetables since he was a teenager and he draws on his many years of practical experience to give easy-to-follow tips and advice on getting the best from your crops.

Jill shares her selection of family favourites with recipes including roasted feta stuffed onions, red onion marmalade, parsnip cake, chilli jam, apple flapjack trifle, and raspberry chocolate pots.

Strawberry and Chocolate Muffins with a Cheesecake Topping

Toffee Apple Pie

Tomato Soup

Martin gives expert advice on choosing the varieties to grow, and how to get the best crops. There’s useful advice on what to do when things go wrong including how to deal with pests and diseases.

Here they are, giving a growing/ cookery talk and demonstration. I met them last summer when they spoke at a Rainbows Hospice fund-raising festival lunch.

Photo credit: the last five photos are by Jill and Martin Fish.

A really useful book, helping you grow better crops and showing you what to do with bountiful harvests. Highly recommended.


E mail :

Martin was show director for Harrogate Flower Show for five years, and now writes for various publications including the weekly Garden News and broadcasts for the BBC Radio Nottingham and BBC Radio York.

I have one free copy to give away in a prize draw. Please leave a comment below to be included. Do also say if you don’t want to be included in the draw. All comments are welcome. Please feel free to share this post.

18 thoughts on “Gardening On the Menu -Book Review

  1. Karen the book seems very interesting, not only for its appetizing and wonderful recipes such as chocolate cake with beetroot or tomato soup, but also for how to care for plants. I do not want to enter the draw for the book, thank you. Take care that you are sick with your hand. A lot of love and health for your family and for you. Rest well. Affectionate greetings from your friend Margarita

    Liked by 1 person

      • Karen this afternoon I went to pick him up at the Post Office because the office is far away. At home I opened it and Karen I have no words to thank you for your wonderful gifts. Thank you a thousand times my dear friend. Laura Ashley’s Box I love it. A couple of gloves, not two, were drawn: they are perfect and fit me well, comfortable and warm, I love them and I love the tie they wore. Thank you very much Karen for your fantastic gifts. Every time I use one of them I will remember you, although I remember you many times when you see a flower in a book or when talking about friends or I just remember you. I was very excited, but you did not have to bother. The true friendship we had before the gifts, I love them, I love them and I love them! 🎁🎁🎁😘🌻🌻🌻🌷🍀💐 A hug, as is done in the Spanish way, and take care of your hand so that it is cured soon. Love and great health for all your family and for you. Very loving greetings from Margarita.


  2. Thank you for the recipe , I tasted beetroot chocolate cake in the States about 5 years ago, and I still remember it! So you’ll understand it was completely delicious. Sadly my hostess had forgotten where she found the recipe by the time I asked her for it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Looks and sounds like a really useful book. I have been a fan of Martin’s for years as a regular listener to the radio Nottingham gardening slot. He had a great double act partner in John, they would have me laughing from start to finish, I was so sad when John retired.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Jane. It’s true, they were a great team. I’m also a fan of Martin, and also Jill. They are a lovely, kind couple and very generous with their time and advice. Best wishes. Karen


  4. There’s a select stopping place we’ve used on our journeys for years. It introduced us to beetroot chocolate cake. It has great substance and a rich moistness that invades the mouth which can only be provided by this versatile root vegetable. I’m not a lover of chocolate cake, but this one is just one of two I would very happily eat.

    Please do include me in the draw for this one. Tomato soup is another favoiurite of mine. The interesting muffin combination would be on my list to try too,

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The beetroot chocolate cake looks wonderful. As a beetroot hater I might even be tempted to try it. I always grow beetroot on my allotment for my husband but never ever eat any myself. I look forward to your posts and really enjoy seeing your beautiful garden. You inspired me to make a wreath to hang on my greenhouse door, it convinced my allotment neighbour I had finally lost the plot.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That made me laugh Janet. I’m so pleased you made a wreath. I’m poorly today, so I’m just stuck in the shade thinking about making a small wreath to hang on the summerhouse. I’m glad you are growing beetroot. It’s so good for you. You’ll never be able to taste it in the chocolate cake. Even the children didn’t know. Thank you again. And thanks for reading! Karen x


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