Thursday, 30 December 2010

Dinner 29.12.2010


So last night I had dinner with my friend Aleks. We like to cook with a fishy theme, so after squid stews and salmon en croutes, I decided to go for the King of all fish dishes- a classic fish pie.
I particularly like this recipe as (Aleks look away) its so easy to do. There is no blanching, poaching, frying etc. It's a genuine one pot dish. Throw in the onions and broccoli alongside the prawns, salmon and cod and you're good to go.
I also made a massive wholegrain loaf to accompany it. Well... To be honest, I made the bread first and planned the fish pie entirely around that... As, unless you're a carb-o-phobe, fish pie is so much better with chunks of bread. Talking of carbs and the like... I have plenty of low fat, healthy versions- but like low fat cakes- they just aren't the same.

The pudding is another incredibly simple recipe. Puff pastry rolled with marzipan and topped with sliced nectarines, blueberries and a fruit glaze... It's actually one of my favourite desserts!

Thanks Aleks- for the Prosecco, clean and well stocked kitchen, squid themed movies and a lovely evening :)

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Food Fact of the Day Special

In France, Mince Pies are come to known as Tartlette de noel, translating as Christmas Tart. However, this is a recent term. The french have previously referred to the traditional Christmas tarts by the more long winded name of Une tartlette Anglais a la pate de fruits secs (An English tart with dried fruit paste).

... More of a mouthful than the little festive puddings themselves!

Happy Christmas, and thankyou all for following my blog. I hope you have a great day, and I'll be seeing you in the New Year, with updates on my culinary Christmas explorations.

xxx !

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Mate: A Time to Share

I am always keen to hear about food cultures and cuisines from around the Globe, with a personal passion for travel and street food. I am very fortunate to have recruited two LouLovesFood correspondents, Simon and Ayelen, in Buenos Aires, to report back on the food in a corner of the world I have yet to discover for myself.
I hope you enjoy their maiden post;

Christmas is a time for giving and sharing, and so it seems appropriate to open our blog with the ultimate communal drink- ‘mate’.

With 98% of Argentinean homes owning the necessary paraphernalia, mate is the traditional Argentinean drink of choice. But mate is not just a drink for the home. From offices to parks, and from businessmen to bus drivers, mate is an intrinsic part of Argentinean life.

Mate is a hot herbal infusion served in a gourd and drunk through a metal straw. The main ingredient of mate is the yerba (that’s sherba to us Gringos); small dry shreds of leaves from a tree principally found in Paraguay, Uruguay, the north of Argentina and the south of Brazil.

Ingredients required for mates
1 cebador (or server)
1 gourd
1 metal straw
Hot water (not boiling)
Group of friends and a few spare hours for talking (optional)

The cebador will prepare the mate, filling the gourd two-thirds full of yerba and any additional ingredients (more of that later). While the yerba is still dry the straw is positioned at an angle in the gourd, at which point the water is added. Some people add a little cold water first so as not to burn the leaves. When the gourd is full the cebador will take the first drink, something sometimes seen as an act of kindness due to the bitterness of the initial cup, before refilling it and passing it on to the right. Once drunk it will return to him for another refill and the process continues as the gourd makes its way around the circle, with the cebador changing a bit of the yerba every now and again so as to preserve the flavour.

Each cup should be drunk in its entirety and any English sensibilities must be resisted as regards thanking the cebador: you are not to say “thank you” until you don’t want any more! And if you get too caught up in the conversation and forget you are in possession of the precious mate, don’t be surprised to hear the words ‘no es un micrófono!’ (it’s not a microphone!)

Additional ingredients
Due to its bitter taste mate is often drunk with sugar, but that’s not the only way to have it…

Mate with orange or lemon: Warm the lemon or orange peel over direct heat and chop or grind it as best as possible, before adding to the gourd. In Paraguay it is often drunk cold with orange peel.
Mate with mountain herbs: Made of 95% yerba, 1.5% mint, 1.5% pennyroyal and 1% peppermint.
Mate with coffee: Add two teaspoons of sugar and a teaspoon of coffee to the yerba and mix.
Mate with milk: Replace the hot water with milk!

Mate language:
- indifference
Sweet- friendship
Very sweet- talk to my parents to ask for my hand
Very hot- I’m dying of love for you
Cool- contempt
Cinnamon- all I think about is you
Brown sugar- I sympathise with you
Orange peel- come find me
Coffee- offense forgiven
Milk- held in esteem
Boiling- marriage
Foamy- sweethearts

Classic accompaniments
Tortas fritas
Pastries (facturas)
Bizcochitos de grasa

I hope you've loved this post as much as I do! Thank you SO much to Ayelen and Simon for their time and knowledge, I can't wait to receive more.
If you are reading this from foreign climes and have any ideas for content that you would like to share, whether it be a national dish, recipe, tradition or local eatery, please get in touch to become a LLF correspondent too!


Sunday, 19 December 2010

Porridge of the Week # 23

Porridge of the Week #23
Blueberry Frangipane


Start by poaching a skinned and chopped pear in a little bit of water and sugar. When it is soft, break it down a bit with the back of a fork. Leave aside and soak the porridge in milk and add a drop of almond essence. As it heats through, add a tablespoon of ground almond and a handful of dried blueberries. Stir through. When the porridge is warm and at the desired consistency, tip in the pear, saving a little back for garnish.
Spoon into a bowl and top with a spoonful of pear and a sprinkling of blueberries.

I really enjoy making porridges based on puddings. My equally geeky friend and I like to create pudding themed porridges and muffins when we are bored (did I really admit to that..?) and this is the fruit of one of these sessions. The sharpness of the blueberries is really complimentary against the sweetness of the pear.


Home made Christmas gifts

If you're expecting a Christmas gift from me this year, look away now!

These are great simple little gifts for friends and family this Christmas. It's so easy to do and I've yet to meet someone who doesn't like chocolate in one form or another! It's also really easy to make them super pretty with just a drizzle of chocolate or a dried cranberry, and a glass jar or little box is so much more appealing than packaging and uniform chocolates in vaccum packed pockets, don't you think..?

My boxes include;
Florentines made topped with dried cranberry, mixed chopped nuts, flaked marzipan and a little bit of orange peel. Finish with a flick of white chocolate.

Dark and Light Chocolate thins are made by dropping dark and white chocolate next to each other. With a cocktail stick, swirl the two together into a marbled circle and leave to dry.

Chocolate marzipans. Cut marzipan into cubes and soften the edges. Dip half into milk chocolate and then sprinkle a little grated marzipan on top. These are very cute!

Fruit and Nut Clusters are made by melting a large bowl of chocolate and when it is fully melted, tip in any dried fruit of your choice, mixed nuts, raisins, pieces of marzipan and chunks of ameretti biscuit. Stir it up and then spoon lumps onto baking parchment to dry.

Other Christmas gifts;

Cranberry and Orange Vodka;
asy! Prick 250g of fresh cranberries and drop into a litre bottle of vodka. Tip in 150-200g caster sugar and the zest of two oranges. Shake this up regularly for a week or two and the drain through a piece of muslin cloth. Pour back into an attractive bottle, tie a ribbon around the neck and give away! This goes down especially well..!

Hope you all have a great Christmas! We will be having an alternative Christmas this year, so make sure you come and check up on what we got up to in the New Year... Have fun!

Food Fact of the Day...


The word Cheese originally referred to anything wrapped up.

Thanks to Nat, my little fountain of knowledge, for this fact...


Wednesday, 1 December 2010

How to: Make Mulled Wine- by Fortnum and Mason !


Wow, the snow! Its kind of exciting..
The nights are getting longer; the days are getting considerably colder. Bonfire night has come and gone, and the Christmas lights are blinking on Oxford Street. There is no denying it; winter is upon us.
And with all this snow comes the inevitable thoughts of Mulled Wine...

I went to pick up some useful tips from Fortnum and Mason's Peter Casey, on how to create the perfect warming winter wine. And I couldn’t think of a nicer place to learn than Fortnum and Maison, bedecked with glittering boules and decadent Christmas decorations.

Mulled wine and Fortnum and Maison are both things that fill me with great joy- there is something about the smell of warm wine and spices that is incredibly comforting, and I have a soft spot for Fortnum and Maison anytime of the year. But around Christmas time it is even more quintessentially British and magical- I highly recommend it, even if you just take a look at their beautiful themed Christmas window displays as you pass by.

* Start with one litre of Orange Juice, diluted with water if you so wish.

* Add half a cup of sugar to this and let it dissolve in. Mulled wine can tend to be slightly bitter, so the sugar really is necessary to bring out the flavour and sweeten it a bit.

* When adding the sugar, Peter warns against using white sugar, but to instead recommends using Golden Caster Sugar. White sugar doesn’t dissolve in the same way and won’t give you the nice syrupy texture of Golden Caster.

* Start with just the juice/water and the sugar as you really wouldn’t want to add the wine too early in the mulling process and burn off the alcohol. Stir the liquid over a low heat until it begins to get syrupy. Mull for 15 minutes.

* Add the mulled wine bundles now. You can buy these almost anywhere! The amount you use depends on the wine you are using- if you are using a soft wine (A Cote de Rhône or Merlot make for a good wine for mulling) then you should use three bundles. For a stronger wine, use two.

* When adding the bundles, also add the cloves, lime and orange peel, fresh apple and orange slices and
* Stir for a while longer and allow to mull. You can leave this for as long as you like- it’s good for the flavours to infuse. If it starts to reduce too much, then simply add a bit of water.

* Now is a good time to add your wine. Pour in a full bottle and mull for at least fifteen more minutes. There is no maximum time for this- patience is a virtue- as long as the heat is turned down low enough for the wine to simmer without boiling. As I mentioned, it’s important to make sure you don’t boil away the alcohol!

* If you prefer a stronger, traditional mulled wine, you can also add a splash of Brandy to warm you up.

**I’ve noticed the past few years that mulled cider has been increasingly popular and is often now served in pubs and markets. If you’re more of a cider person then you may want to try this. The recipe is much the same, but instead of orange peel and lime, you may want to use chopped apple and extra cinnamon. Replace the Brandy with a generous splash of Calvados.

You can also make a non alcoholic mulled wine for children or non-drinkers using apple juice and non alcoholic ginger wine, following the same technique as the mlled cider. It’s pretty good! **

If you have any other tips and suggestions, or a different way of doing it- please share the wealth- Enjoy.

Thanks to Peter Casey for his time and advice, and also to Natalie, my research assistant, on this post!


Sunday, 28 November 2010

Food Fact of the Day...


A food fact for the party season!

It is dirt makes champagne fizz. Microscopic particles of dust in the glass allow bubbles to latch onto them. According to Moet and Chandon there are 250 million bubbles in the average bottle of Champagne...


Thursday, 25 November 2010

Lou en Bretagne


I love France, and naturally, I love French Food. I try and get over a few times a year to stock up on wine and tins of duck cassolet, almost always staying in my little house on the North Western coast of Brittany.
Right by the sea, I mostly eat at home, stocking up on wine from the Selier Goëlo and arrays of cheeses, salads potato croquettes and misshapen vegetables from the supermarkets of Plouzec. From time to time we eat out at the port side restaurants of Paimpol, taking advantage of the Fruits de Mer and Bretagne Tart- all the things that make me love the regional cuisine.

French Supermarkets are always exciting places from me. I run around gleefully, enjoying the packaging and reminiscing over the staples of my childhood- Cacolac and Madeline’s.
I like the little variations that differentiate them from their English counterparts. Frozen potato douphinoux are a novelty I would never buy in England, but always end up in the trolley in France.

Cheese is always bought in vast quantities- even pre-grated Ementhal, a supermarket classic that would seem lazy to me en Anglettere, but is somehow very acceptable over the channel.
I’ve yet to buy a ready-to-grill Croque Monsieur from the chilled cabinets, but seeing them always makes me laugh- especially coming from a nation that prides themselves on their cooking.

I love the Local Produce section, selling Bretagne tarts avec fourré a la crème Preneaux, and ‘Specialitie Brettagne Pur BeurreGateux Abricot. I somehow couldn’t imagine anything similar in Sutton…

Bread and cheese is one of the best things about being alive. There aren’t many people I know who have managed to escape one of my raptures on these simple pleasures. Honestly, with some oil, balsamic vinegar and olives- I could live on it.
Growing up, I used to bemoan my summers spent in France on a diet of French bread and cheeses with varying degrees of pungency and hardness.
Now, I consider it a wasted opportunity and take it as a very serious task to catch up on lost time. I have to admit- I’m not the biggest fan of French bread. I find it too dry and porous, paling in comparison to soft and doughy English bread. I even prefer English baguettes!
That said, I now adore my lunches of bread, tomatoes, brie and Saint Nectaire Laitier, or Camembert and Chevre. The staple lunch, day in day out, accompanied with cous cous salad and tomato salads with ground pepper and balsamic vinegar.

I have happy memories of the traditions that have become ingrained in our routine-Bouchee on the patio, with bottles of red wine and cards in the summer, Mulled wine up by the Moulin de Craca and duck cassolet in the winter. It won’t come as a surprise to you that food plays such a large part in many of my happiest memories, and France wouldn’t be the same for me without the food opportunities it has presented to me. It probably even plays a large part in the relationship I now have with cooking and eating.

My little house en France doesn’t have an oven, so we have to make do with a hob and a tiny microwave-grill. I tend to cook almost entirely with a hob anyway, so it isn’t too much of a problem. I enjoy having to make the most with what we have.
Here are a few of the typically French dishes we served up on our most recent trip to Bretagne, from which I have just returned.

Goats cheese Gallettes:
Gallettes are just so damn French. The savoury equivalent of a crepe, a thicker, wholemeal wheat is used. You can make these yourself following a basic Gallette recipe (look up?) or just buy a pre made pack. In France, these are in abundance. Gallettes are a great opportunity to make the most of the quintessentially French ingredients and quality and freshness of their cheese and vegetables.

In a pan, fry some chopped onion or shallots. When they are softened, tip in a bowl of chopped tomatoes. You can also use a tin, but the tomatoes in France are so big and beautiful I prefer to use them fresh. Add a big handful of spinach and stir until wilted. Stir in plenty of Herbes de Provence (When in France…) You can also add some finely diced mushroom.

Open the Gallette and place on the plate. Be careful, as they are fragile and prone to tearing. Tip the mixture into one of the perforated quarters. Top with some thin strips of ham, a classic ingredient in gallettes. Crumble in some goats cheese.
Fold in half so it forms a semi circle. Sprinkle with grated emmenthal cheese- there is not a supermarket in France that will not sell this. Fold in half again.

In a small pan, fry an egg. When it is cooked, but still soft, tip onto the triangle. Sprinkle again with grated emmenthal and place under the grill for a few minutes, remove from the heat, and serve.

Mulled Pineapple:
Alongside crème caramel and Tarte aux pommes, some kind of flambéed or alcohol soaked fruit is a staple on the menu of most French restaurants. My sister and I created this recipe using pineapple to recreate a similar dish at home. It is a real winter dish- warm and spicy. If you’re a fan of mulled wine, you should be a fan of this!

Chop a pineapple into slices, removing the skin. In a pan, caramelise some sugar by covering the base of a pan with caster sugar and heating without stirring until it melts into a golden caramel. Whilst this is happening, mix some honey in a bowl with cinnamon and some nutmeg. Brush this mixture over the slices of pineapple, coating them well. Once the caramel is ready, drop the slices into it and fry for a few minutes each side, turning them half way through. Remove the coated pineapple slices from the pan and drizzle with a splash of liqueur or spirit of your choice; Brandy is an obvious choice, but Rum or a fruit liqueur could also work.


Monday, 22 November 2010

Porridge of the Week #22

Porridge of the Week:
Fruity Vanilla and Raspberry

Category: Healthy/Flavour
In a pan, mix your oats with soya milk. I like to use soy for this recipe as it compliments the creamy texture. As it warms through, drop in a splash of vanilla essence. Tip in half a punnet of fresh raspberries and crush with your spurtle till the oats go a beautifully deep pink. As they thicken, loosen them up with a generous amount of pomegranate and grape juice. If this is a bit specific, you could use just pomegranate- or if you like, any other fruity berry juice, as long as it is red or pink!
Pour the contents into your bowl, and cool with a spoon of strawberry or raspberry yoghurt.

We may well and truly be into winter now, but this porridge reminds me of warmer, summery times. This was a work day recipe, but I wish I had a photo; as well as tasting really fruity and delicious, it’s really pretty to serve up- deep pink with swirls of red and a soft pink topping. It’s almost too pretty to eat…

Saturday, 20 November 2010

Food Fact of the Day


There are two root paths of the word ‘Booze.’
Similar vocabulary can be traced back to the 1320’s, when bous/bouse; meant to drink to excess, rooted in the Dutch, ‘busen’.
However, ‘booze’ itself became a common noun in the 1850s, when EG Booz of Philidelphia labelled his whiskey bottles with his name….


Friday, 19 November 2010

Autumn Eats

From knitwear and layers, to red hair and Bonfire Night, autumn is easily my favourite time of the year- fleeting as it is, I love it.
It is also my favourite time of the year for food. I absolutely adore root vegetables- Beetroot, Swede, and above all, the abundance of pumpkin and squash. I am a huge fan of pumpkin and tend to put it in everything whilst it’s about.
Being an intuitive cook, I throw together soups and experiment with casseroles, both of which lend themselves to the sturdy and comforting seasonal winter produce.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been cooking the last couple of weeks:

Yam and Sweet Potato Samosas

Having Brick Lane just down the road, I love to shop in the huge Bangla Cash and Carrys. I love the aisles upon aisles of spices, lentils and curry powders, as well as the stacks of plantains and nameless exotic vegetables.
On my last shopping trip I picked up and few yams and some samosa pads. They were surprisingly easy to do- I simply boiled the yam and sweet potato and then broke down into small chunks with chopped onion, chilli and curry powder. Its also good to add a few peas.
We then spooned a small amount of the mixture onto one end of the samosa tabs, folded into triangles and shallow fried for a few minutes each, draining on kitchen paper.

Pumpkin Curry

Not content with just getting yam and sweet potato into our meal, I made a pumpkin curry to go with the Samosas. This was a typical Lou-style throw everything into the pot; curry spices, pumpkin, coconut, baby thai apple aubergine and plenty of cumin seeds and turmeric.

White Fish Baby Squash Curry with lime, coconut and ginger

You may recognise this! For more details on this curry, made with white fish, yellow thai curry paste, fish sauce and a mix of lime, ginger, garlic and spices, check out

Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re making as many pumpkin based recipes as me, you’ll also have pleny of left over seeds. When you hollow out your pumpkin, set them aside on a piece of kitchen paper to drain. Once they have dried out, spread them on some kitchen foil on a baking tray and drizzle with oil. Give them a shake and sprinkle with chilli, powdered garlic and paprika. You can also use powdered cumin or any other spice that you fancy. Toast them in the oven for about ten or fifteen minutes- but keep an eye on them as they can burn fast! They should be slightly golden but not browned, and crunchy to chew on.

Butternut Squash, Chickpea and Chorizo Soup
This recipe has been the highlight of my autumn so far! Taken from the Cooking with Pumpkin and Squash by Brian Glover, it's really rich and flavoured. I high recommend it!
This soup involves roasting the butternut squash in oil and garlic whilst frying the chorizo with onion and then adding to chopped tomoatoes and stock. Only blending half of the this mixture with the squash ensures that it stays thick and chunky. It’s a perfect recipe for the miserable weather.

Homemade Rolls

If you’re going to be making this much soup, you will be wanting fresh bad to go with it. The highlight of the season for me has been learning to make bread- granary loafs, white rolls and herb or tomato bread. I love knotting them into a variety of plaits and twists.

A-ma-zing. Early in the season we went out and found our own in the woods. Its so easy to simply slash a cross in them and toast for about half an hour. They don’t need any flavouring- they’re perfect as they are.

Apple and Maple Cupcakes (with a maple glaze)
According to my sister, who I saved one back for, these are “the perfect muffin”; moist and soft and spicy. Apple and spices have a very autumnal flavour, and the maple glaze is lovely. They aren’t too sweet either, and the flour is mixed with oatmeal so they have a lovely thick texture.
The mix is a basic muffin mix, with half the flour being replaced with rolled oats. Simply tip in chopped and slightly stewed chunks of apple with a spoonful of cinnamon, a pinch of mixed spices and half a cup of maple syrup.
The glaze is made by drizzling icing sugar mixed with maple syrup over the muffins as they cool from the oven.


I hope you enjoy what’s left of autumn! If you have a recipes or autumnal ideas you would like to share than please do leave a comment and suggest it. If you have any recipes you would like me to try, or you have tried anything pretty special yourself and would like to send the recipe or some photos, just email them to



Thursday, 11 November 2010

Porridge of the Week #21

Porridge of the Week #21
Venison Sausage and Cherry Tomato Porridge:
Competition Winner.

Category: Evening

Prepare your porridge by soaking in water.

While the porridge is soaking grill your sausages. You could use any type of sausage but it should be something special such as Wild Boar, Leek and Herbs. I'm using Venison Sausages from Borough Market.

Put your porridge on to cook, adding a pinch of salt, plenty of freshly ground black pepper and a heaped tablespoon of fresh chopped thyme.

When the sausages are nearly cooked put cherry tomatoes under the grill and sear till they are slightly browned and visibly sagging.

Chop the sausages into 1 inch slices.

Serve out the porridge. Drop 3 or 4 cherry tomatoes into each bowl and crown with a generous portion of sliced sausage.

Et voila!
Thankyou so much for all your competition entries. And a particular thankyou to my little winner. I am a big fan of savoury porridges, and an even bigger fan of Borough Market, so this had great appeal to me. This would make a lovely dinner now the nights are getting longer- and a whole lot colder. Enjoy.


Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Food News: Bompas and Parr Gum Factory


Last week I was fortunate to attend the launch of the new Bompas and Parr event; The Artisanal Gum Factory.

In the 'factory', based in Whiteley's Shopping Centre, you are invited to create your own gum; picking from 400 flavour combinations and mixing, rolling and cutting the gum yourself.

If you are (like me) indecisive, choosing from over 200 flavours and 40,000 gum combinations can be a dizzying prospect. That said- some flavours are more appealing than others. To make the selection process easier, glass jars of scent cover pillar like tables in a small and dark room.

Each jar is labelled with the scent it contains- It's like a sensory Russian Roulette.

Lilac is soft and lovely, the fruits are sweet and sickly, the herbs delicate. My favourites are the 'burnt' flavours- burnt orange and burnt sugar.
Others are less lovely. Sea Urchin, for example, is 'like death in a jar'. Shrimp is equally stomach turning. (As a general rule, I would avoid any sea-based flavoured gum.)
Scents that catch the eye of the public a little more than the generic strawberry and cherry include lobster, black truffle, chilli or ale yeast.

Once you have made your selection, you take it to the next door lab, where you are guided through making your own gum, mixing the melted down latex-y gum mix with the scent, stirring vigorously with icing sugar and food dye and kneading like dough till you have stretchy gum. Roll this out, cut it up and store away in your little Bompas and Parr box.

It's true, things are more exciting when they let you do it yourself.

I left my flavour selection down to the professional expertise of Chef Andrew. Returning from the store room of flavour, I was presented with pine- and though it genuinely did taste of pine, it was surprisingly appetising. Who knew having a mouth like a new car would taste so appealing. It's a more original oral freshener than Spearmint!

LouLovesFood Combos:
Lou is now the proud owner of the Flavour Thesaurus- It couldn't have come at a better time really! Maybe I should have taken it with me, and tried some of these combinations...

Coffee and Cigarettes: I read about this flavour prior to attending the factory and was keen to try it, despite being a non smoker, and therefore dubious of whether I would actually like it. But as my sister says, you should try everything twice.
As it was, it was actually an enjoyable chew. Apparently dealing twice the caffeine fix of a traditional cup of coffee, it had more coffee flavour to it than cigarette- though it resembled one of those rich filter coffees that are so strong they actually have that slightly ashy morning-after-a-night-in-a-pool-house taste. It was rich and enjoyable.

Chilli and coconut: I'm a sucker for anything with chilli in it. The classic chilli and chocolate may be a bit obvious, but how about coconut with chilli? According to Niki Segent, coconut 'soothes the heat of chilli, whose active component capsaicin is soluble in fat, but not water.' Beats coconut and rum in my book...

Strawberry and Black Pepper: You know, like strawberries and black pepper. Sweet, with a little kick.

Coffee and Cardamom: I've long been a fan of this Turkish inspired coffee combination. I tried the cardamom and it was pretty similar to the pine- Combined with coffee, and it would be like sitting in a blue tiled Brick Lane Turkish coffee shop. My happy place in my mouth.

Beer and Curry: Don't you be turning your noses up, as far as I'm concerned, that's pretty unappealing anyway... But you know, as my sister says...

Greek Yoghurt and Honey: Not especially creative, but I think I would enjoy it.

Rose and Cucumber: One for summer- or for the girls!

What combinations would you try? I'd love to know! Go forth and masticate...


Monday, 1 November 2010

Dinner: Squash bowl Curry


It's Autumn! My favourite time of the year for food. I love casseroles, soups and root vegetables and in autumn I have these in abundance. Ever since pumpkins and squash started to sneak into every market and shop in London I've wanted to try using them to make a good squash curry, and serving them in their shells.

This curry was squash, carrots, onions and lentils, with coconut milk, yellow thai curry paste and plenty of lime, ginger, lemon grass and garlic.

I made the bowls by hollowing the squash and rubbing with oil and salt before baking in the oven for half an hour. After taking it out, I scooped out some of the softened flesh and added it to the curry, then ladled the curry into it.

I saved the seeds, which I then dried out and rubbed with olive oil, paprika, chilli and curry powder. These were roasted and served alongside the curry!

These curries taste gorgeous and also look so pretty! You can break up the shell as you eat and scoop out the flesh on the skin so nothing is wasted... Waste not, want not.


Cheap Eats: Lou Loves Moolis

(or, Mooli's: Roti vs. Buritto)

Anyone who knows me well, knows that I seem to spend half my life in Shoreditch and half in Soho. I just love Soho- it's where life seems to happen. It's the little beating heart in the centre of London, pumping life into the city.
Naturally, it's unlikely I would spend long in somewhere without a great variety of food- Shoreditch has its big Bangla Cash and Carrys, Soho has its huge array of cafes, restaurants and bakeries. (Not to mention China Town... )
You may remember my 'Focus On... Wardour Street'; One road alone that could feed me for a month.

So it came as no surprise to me that the cafe that seems to be on every one's lips right now- Mooli's- was to be found on Frith Street. I had heard about it from a number of food bloggers and friends so it seemed natural that when I found myself aimless in Soho one lunch time I should drag myself away from my usual haunts and try it out.
Photography by Mowie, from

Stepping in (and they will hate me for this) my first impression was how similar it was to it's Mexican counterpart Benito's Hat. The walls were painted cheerful colours, the tables flanked with high stools and the serving counter squatting at the back. But in the design stakes, Mooli's wins out. Bright patterns, blossom and birds designed by Rachel Mikulsky adorn the walls, one of which is dedicated to a series of bold statements- "Not to be consumed with low grain cocaine" and "This is not a f**king Burrito".

... You understand my reticence in name dropping Benito's Hat now?

It's very simple. Mooli's serves mooli's. And not a lot else. But really, who needs anything else from a place like this?
The premise of these mooli's are filling home made roti (Indian flat bread) with meat, veg or paneer and plenty of additional flavours; in the forms of sharp salsas, fruity chutneys and spicy potatoes.

They may have a limited menu, but the mooli's do come in six flavours- Chicken with a mint and coriander dressing and apple, spicy beef with coconut and cucumber raita, and Pork with pomegranate salsa (oooh!). The most popular flavour seems to be the Goat, spiced with cumin, coriander cloves, chilli's and Cinnamon and accompanied by potatoes sautéed with dry mango, red onion and lime.
There are also vegetarian options; Asparagus with potatoes, roasted cumin seeds, dried mango, yoghurt and tamarind or Paneer; Indian cheese scrambled in spices with tomato chutney and grated carrot.

Ok, so it doesn't look *quite* like this when it's served up... But considering how completely impossible it is not to make a mess of anything that comes in a wrap, does it really matter..?
Photography again, by
Mowie. I am a big fan of his beaauutiful work!

It was, based on this, tough to choose. I went with the chicken, though in retrospect I'm now fantasising about the paneer... Though I do love the sound of the potato and cumin... And the pomegranate salsa... and the coconut with the beef... Oh dear.
We also bowed to pressure and got the goat.

They were both gorgeous! (£4.45) The sheer quantity of ingredients they crammed in all complimented and contrasted each other nicely. The cinnamon, cloves and cumin gave them a distinctively Indian taste without in any way resembling your local generic Indian restaurant.
Chunky, flavoursome and compact, these Mooli's makes for a great lunch break pit-stop. Amazingly, although they aren't in any way obscenely over-sized, I remained so full all day that even by the end of the night (I would say we had lunch about 2 o clock) I still wasn't hungry, and ate nothing more than an apple that day. That's value for money, right?
I don't want for burritos to keep rearing their ugly heads, but you do get more from your money with a mooli. Instead of chicken with salsa, guacamole and soured cream, beef with salsa, guacamole and soured cream or vegetables with salsa, guacamole and soured cream, you do get a lot more carefully considered ingredients rammed in. Don't get me wrong, I love a burrito... But in this race (for me) there can only be one winner.

So if you're looking for somewhere new to eat in the West End, or you want a food lovers variation on the (pale by comparison) Burrito, check out Mooli's.

50 Frith St
Westminster, London W1D 4
020 7494 9075


Food Fact of the Day..


It takes 85,000- 140,000 crocuses to make a kilo of saffron.
Alexander the Great washed his hair in saffron- at a time when it was more expensive than gold.
In 15th Century Nurenburg, it was a capital offence to mix saffron- culprits were burnt at the steak or buried alive...

That is dediation to food, and I approve.


Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Porridge of the Week #20: Special Edition!


Porridge of the Week: #20
Thousand Treasure Porridge

Category: Flavoured/ healthy

The night before making, take the Thousand Treasure beans and soak overnight in water. By the morning, the water should be absorbed and the beans swollen. Rinse and drain, then tip into a pan and cover with a suitable quantity of water or sweetened soya milk. Once heated through and at a good consistency, stir in a spoonful of sugar and a generous heap of desiccated coconut, to taste. I also added dried mango and cranberry.
Serve, and top with another tiny shake of sugar and a sprinkle of coconut.

For the 20th of edition I wanted to do a special porridge to commemorate the occasion, which is why I chose Thousand Island Porridge, made with sticky rice, crushed corn, red bean, mung bean, kidney bean, black rice, red jujube, hushed buckwheat, peanut and lotus seed.. My sister got it for me, but you can source it in most Chinese supermarkets. I was a little unsure of how it would turn out, but it was rather lovely- a distinct Chinese blend of savoury and sweet. It's also very nutritious and full of good morning protein.

Porridge of the Week: The 20th Edition Competition!

As this is the 20th ever Porridge of the Week, I wanted to celebrate with a competition! To win, simply send me your favourite or most creative porridge recipe! (Hint: photos or anecdotes may help your chances...)
The recipe that most inspires me will become the 21st Porridge of the Week and the winner will recieve some luxury Fortnum and Mason Porridge and a spurtle.
To enter, simply email me at
Please include your name, porridge recipe, and address.
Goodluck, and thankyou for getting involved!

The winner will be announced next week alongside Porridge of the Week #21, and the prize will be sent out via post.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

(Thai) dinner: 19.10.2010


My friend Charlie went travelling round Asia recently. He's one of those people that also geeks out over dishes so I was simultaneously insanely jealous and impressed that he kept a food journal and did a few classes whilst he travelled.
He gave me this recipe for Green Papaya salad and I promised I would try it as soon as possible, so here it is... It's really gorgeous and the flavours are amazing.

Green Papaya Salad

Here's how you do it-
Tip a handful of peanuts, about 3 chopped tomatoes, 2 chopped birds eye chillis (or thai chillis, if you can get them) a chopped garlic clove, a handful of cut green beans and a heap of crushed cashew nuts into a mortar and pestle. Crush the mixture together. If you can get your hands on green papaya, julienne them and crush with the rest if not, then like us, use julienned carrots. It works, and stills still lovely!
It'll get messy, but that's okay...

I used peanuts from the Chinese Supermarkets- vacuum packed with dried chilli- super spicy!

Add a tablespoon of dark soy and another of light soy, a teaspoon of sugar dissolved in water and the juice of a lime. You can tweak this to taste- I like it with lots of chilli and lime. Serve up and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

On the Side:

Thai bay scented prawns with basil lime mayonaise

This one is really easy! I was searching for a side to make this meal more substantial, without moving away from the Asian vibe. I got this from the GoodFood 101 fish and seafood dishes, which I love!

Boil the basil leaves in a pan for a minute and then put into cold water. Drain and tip into a food processor with 6 tablespoons of olive oil. Whizz into a fine paste. Add the mayonnaise and a squeeze of lime juice. Make sure you reserve the skins.
Blend again, then tip into a bowl and chill.
Thread the bay leaves and prawns onto a skewer or wooden stick. Brush with oil and grill for 4 or 5 minutes. Spoon the mix into the lime skins and serve with the prawns.


Food Fact of the Day


The hottest chilli in the world is from Dorset, and measures 92,3000 Scoville Heat Units (A jalapeno has 4,500... ) Pure capsicum powder delivers 15-16 million SHU.
Pharmacists who experiment with it must work in a filtered 'toxic room' wearing a full protective body suit with a closed hood to prevent inhalation.

There are around 3,510 varieties of chilli.

Thanks to John for finding this fact for me, and all his research!


Saturday, 16 October 2010

Chocolate Week: London's Best Chocolatiers


William Curley

A pattissier chocolatier, William Curley has a vast array of both chocolates and patitissier. Teaming up with the equally award winning pattissier Suzue Curley, many of the chocolates have an Asian twist- Szechuan Pepper, Green Tea and Japanese Black Vinegar all grace the extensive menu, alongside more British flavours like Mulled Wine and Thyme and Scottish Heather Honey.
With beautiful and elegant shops in the beautiful and elegant Richmond and Belgravia, William Curley is the place to go for extravagance- with a £15 Dessert Bar set menu that boasts Basil infused icecream, Green tea Creme Brulee and Yuzu Jelly.
LouLovesFood recommends the hot chocolate (the time of year for it!) - The Aztec Hot Chocolate and Gianduja are renowned.
To celebrate National Chocolate Week, William Curley will be collaborating with Claridge's for exclusive Chocolate Afternoon Teas and with Michelin-starred The Bingham, creating a unique Chocolate Lover's menu... Time is running out!

Theobroma Cocoa

My research of the Theobrama Cocoa shop in Chiswick is nothing if not extensive... A sign in itself that the chocolates are good! In contrast to many of their counterparts like Melt... Theobroma chocolates are distinctively light and understated- the Champagne and Lavender Hearts don't try hard to get your attention. They have a strong lavender perfume but are summery, fresh and delicately infused. Even the Caramelised Almond chocolate is light- filled with a fine dry marzipan as opposed to a crunchy praline that I suppose I had expected.
The Assam Tea is a little richer, deep and rich with charcoal flavours. The taste of tea leaves is well balanced against the strong truffle. Other chocolates that pack more of a punch is the Stuffed Fig- with almond, walnuts, orange peel, Cinnamon, French Bourbon Vanilla and Grand Marnier. Phew! The result is sweet and textured, crunchy with strong infusions of flavour and the distinct taste of alcohol.


Looking adorable and classically 'chocolate shop' (or at least the Notting Hill equivelant) Melt... is lined with bowls of chocolates, their flavours written in chalk on blackboards mounted onto the walls. Unlike so many of the other chocolate shops that have to cope with the demand of large scale orders, Melt... restrict their stock so that all their chocolate is still home made- you can see it being created, in fact, in their tiny kitchen at the back of the shop. I truly believe you can taste the love and attention.
Their salted caramels (including Olive caramel) are also beautiful enough to rival Artisan Du Chocolat. No mean feat!
Other flavours worth a go are Peanut Butter and Raspberry jam, Chilli Cube and Coffee and Cardamom Cup. Nice.
I can honestly say I've eaten about half the flavours Melt... stocks, and there are none I wouldn't recommend. The Burnt Orange is a personal favourite, the kind of chocolate you have to stop all else whilst you eat itArtisan Du Chocolat

Artisan Du Chocolat

Cross the road from Melt... and you will find yourself at Artisan Du Chocolat, flanked by tables resembling slabs of chocolate. This is an elegant chocolate boutique selling silver coated chocolate moulded stilettos and their famous liquid salted caramels. With chic Chanel-esque branding, these little round chocolates come in a range of experimental flavours, from Sage and Thyme (No.15) to Madagascan Pink Peppercorns (No.4).

LouLovesFood recommends Red Fruits and Violets O and No.7 Liquid salted caramel. I won't say which flavour it is- why take the fun out of it..?
Artisan also a fantastic cafe menu of coffees, hot chocolates, and amazingly, cocktails.
Chocolate cocktails.
Oh yes.
The cocktail options are stunning and the pudding menu really gets your pulse racing- the Chocolate and Salted Caramel Tart (below), a rich, oily, salty melting goo of beauty- and well worth the £5 price tag.

Paul A Young

Nestled away amongst backstreets and antique clothing is the magical shop of Paul A Young. Tiny, dark and tucked away, it's like something out of a novel- and being hand made each morning in the shop's chocolate kitchen, his range is renowned. Favourites include Pimms truffle, Chocolate Cheesecake truffle, but there are also some other surprising flavours, including Marmite and Port and Stilton. I wish I could tell you how this one tastes, I'm desperate to try it!
Chocolate Week may come a bit late, but if you find yourself in Angel over the summer, expect to see streams of beaming chocolate smudged faces, home made ice cream gripped in sticky hands. The ice creams are topped with cocoa nibs and molten chocolate, and flavours include white chocolate and raspberry or sea-salted caramel (with 85 per cent dark chocolate).
With a clear passion for his work and a beautiful range of flavours, Paul A Young is one of my chocolate week highlights!

Another area like Notting Hill with a duo of chocolate aristocracies would be Marylebone, home of both Coco Maya and Rococo...

Located in Marylebone, Chelsea and Belgravia, Rococo has made a base in all of London's high end boroughs.
Selling a vast array of chocolate bars including Orange and Cardamom, Rose and Earl Grey, their packaging is as delicate, beautiful and elegant as the chocolate themselves. If you really want to make a feature of chocolate week, they also do chocolate classes, kids parties and (oh my gosh!) chocolate sleepovers.

Coco Maya

Set up by three of London's big fashion players, including founder of Agent Provocateur, Serena Rees, I had expected Coco Maya to follow along similar themes- after all, I'm sure the women folk would agree that chocolate and Agent Provocateur style decadence go hand in hand. So I have to admit I was expecting sumptuous surroundings; rich colours, low lighting and lace... Sexy and sleek. Instead, the tiny Chocolatier and Artisan Bakery "one of London's hippest hangouts" is kitsch and classically English, verging on twee, with decor reminiscent of an English tea party- with gold trimmed bone china tea cup and lace doilies. No less gorgeous, but a little surprising.
I tried the interesting Blackberry and Lime. The first bite oozed an amazing tangy liquid- but the chocolate itself was bland and lacking in any character strong enough to compliment its lovely fruity filling.
I followed with a classic truffle to test this further and found that despite it's soft, rich texture, the chocolate didn't pull through, lacking any punch. Not cool, Coco Maya.
Instead, I recommend nipping in for a peek- and if you do feel tempted, go next door to the Bakery...

Unfortunately, I'm only one girl, and hard as I try, I can't eat everywhere! If you know of any places that the world should really know about, please please leave a comment and let us know! Enjoy Chocolate Week!


Friday, 15 October 2010

Chocolate Week: Chocolate Cupcakes


Here are a range of chocolate cupcakes I was comissioned to make in celebration of Chocolate Week... Om nom.

Banana and chocolate cupcakes with vanilla buttercream and a topping inspired by Cupcake Junkie.

Double chocolate chip, with chocolate buttercream and hot chocolate drizzle

Double chocolate chip with caramel shapes

Chocolate Irish Cream with white chocolate spiders web- design taken from BBC Good Food

Monday, 11 October 2010

Food Fact : It's Chocolate Week!

The average Swiss person eats 19lbs of chocolate a year.

Hmm. That doesn't sound like all that much to me...
It's Chocolate Week! And whilst it's Chocolate Week, expect a series of Chocolate themed LouLovesFood posts...

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Porridge of the Week # 19

Porridge of the Week # 19
Egg and Bacon Porridge

This is a kind of tough one to get right, so there are a couple of ways of doing it. Start by soaking the oats in water and a sprinkle of salt. Warm it through, so it gets properly hot. Whilst this is on the go, grill four rashers of bacon and scramble one egg in a seperate pan. Get the oats to just before the ideal consistency- but a little extra runny.
When it is ready and the egg and bacon is prepped, get a second egg and crack into the centre of the porridge. Leave it to warm for a minute. Stir the edges of the porridge, leaving the egg in the centre. Continue to do this until the egg begins to cook, then stir in. Tip in the scrambled egg and mosr of the bacon, chopped into pieces, leaving some aside, and stir just enough to mix in.
Divide the porridge between two bowls. Top with the remaining bacon and crack black pepper over. Serve.

This is a good porridge for those who don't like sweet things in the morning. It's tough to gt right as the egg can disappear into the oats if added or stirred too early- hence adding a bit of scrambled! You could also chop in a poached egg. I drizzled with a bit of brown sauce, which went down well.
I'm not sure I would do it regularly, but these things have to be tried! It's fun to serve up, at least.