Friday, 30 December 2011

Winter Warmers: Mincemeat and pear crumble pots

I bloody love Sainsbury's Magazine.I love the photography, the food styling, the glossiness- and of course, the recipes. My favourite time of year to buy it is always around Christmas and New Year, when everything seems a little glossier, a little more decadent and a little bit glitzy.

I've also really been craving mincemeat this year; as rich, sticky and boozy as possible! It would be a tragedy to condemn it to a life of mince pies alone, so if you aren't going to give a mincemeat tart a go, at least try out this little recipe- perfect for over the Christmas period.

I'm a sucker for anything that comes in individual pots; I have a collection of beautiful little lidded Le Crouset style mini casserole pots brought home from France, and it's so lovely to be able to provide little individual desserts in such beautiful kitchenware.

Combining it with pear not only sound delicious, but so warming and seasonal I had to post it as soon as possible...

Mincemeat and Pear Crumble Pots

3 ripe pears in chunks
125g mincemeat

Juice of 1/2 lemon
40g plain flour
40g Brazil nuts, chopped
25g cold butter, cubed
40g dark sugar
25g rolled oats

Preheat the oven to 180 fan. Mix together the chopped pear, mincemeat and lemon juice and divide between 4 ramekins on a baking tray.
In a food processor, blend the flour, nuts, butter and sugar until just combined and stir in the oats. Sprinkle evenly over the pear mixture. Bake for 25 minutes until the crumbs are golden and bubbling.

Simple as that!


Saturday, 24 December 2011

How to Make: Festive Biscuit Christmas Wreath

If you have a little spare time around Christmas, and like to give gifts that have the personal touch- or decorate your home your own way, give these super cute, super simple edible wreaths a go...

Simply make a biscuit mix (I've included a Nigella Christmas biscuit recipe below, but the possibilities are endless- I would definitely keep them seasonal though; even if you just add a little mixed spice, or use a ginger bread recipe.) and chill for half an hour or so before using.

Roll out, and using a cutter, stamp out the biscuit shapes. I used stars, but you could use a reindeer, holly, hearts... Be creative! I do like the pattern created by using a star, and it makes it nice and easy to decorate.

All you have to do is arrange the biscuits on a baking tray, overlapping very slightly- remember the biscuits will spread- though you will want it sturdy enough to hold together as these biscuits can be infuriatingly fragile. For this reason I recommend making plenty, as some as likely to break. I made lots of dough and froze any extra I had for another day- or to quickly whip up for any unexpected guests!

Bake the biscuits on a low heat. I tend to ignore the time given by recipes and almost always stick to under ten minutes. Remember to consider the thickness you cut them to. They really do take no time at all. The dough should be slightly golden and look cooked, but still be soft. They will harden once they have cooled! I like my biscuits to have a slightly chewy, soft centre.

Whilst the biscuits are still cool, use a skewer to pierce a hole (gently!) into the top of each biscuit, so thread can be run through it. Now your biscuit becomes a decoration, and can be hung on doors or trees, or even attached to presents!

Your wreaths will be all ready to decorate now. Leave them to cool completely, then mix up some royal icing with icing sugar, lemon juice and egg white. Using a piping bag and a small nozzle, pipe onto the biscuits. Use the spares to experiment- I like dotty biscuits, using the royal icing to adhere silver edible balls. They look so festive! I also experimented with edible glitter. The sparkliness looked really beautiful reflected against the baubles when I hung it on my Christmas tree.
There are plenty of design possibilities, play around and try them out!

I used a Nigella Lawson recipe- I recommend adding slightly more Cinnamon, just to give it a bit more of a Christmas-y taste.

  • 100 g unsalted butter softened
  • 100 grams soft dark sugar
  • 300 grams plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • Pinch salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground Cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 4 tablespoons clear honey

Place the butter and sugar in a clean bowl and mix together vigorously with a wooden spoon until the color and texture of the mixture becomes pale. Place the mixture into the bowl of a food processor and add the flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves and freshly ground black pepper. Blend the mixture. While the food processor is blending, gradually pour the eggs and honey down the funnel of the food processor's lid into the bowl until a dough has formed (you may not require all of the liquid if the dough has come together before it is used up). If the dough is too dry add a little water to the mixture. If the dough is too wet add a little flour.

Why not try...

Using a large star cutter, and piping people's names onto each biscuit. Thread a ribbon through the biscuit, and use to attach to gifts, or as place settings on the Christmas table.

* Wrapping in cellophane gift bags and tying with a silver or blue ribbon to present as a beautiful hand made gift

* Using different coloured icing to match the lights on your tree, or the decorations in your home.


Friday, 23 December 2011

Food Fact of the Day

For those of you city folk, who are probably sick to death of Christmas being rammed down your throats, here are some completely unseasonaly relevant Food Facts... About Tomato Ketchup.
Courtesy of The Metro!

* Originally, Ketchup didn't contain tomatoes at all- it was first made in China in the late 17th Century, from a mix of anchovies, walnuts, mushrooms and kidney beans.

* Heinz ketchup must leave the bottle at 0.028 mph- any faster and it won't be leaving the factory- at any speed.

* The fear of tomato ketchup is called Mortuusequusphobia.

650, 000 000 bottles of ketchup are sold around the world, in more than 110 countries. So if you want a change from cranberry sauce this Christmas...


Tuesday, 13 December 2011

One Pot Wednesday: Andrea's Stuffed Cabbage

Andrea's Stuffed Cabbage

Over the festive period, everyone gets busy with cooking and baking at home and I can guarantee you if you would get the chance to inspect any of my fellow Hungarian’s fridge (well I would love to have a nosy around anyway) they would have a massive pot of stuffed cabbage proudly taking the main position on the shelf between Christmas and New year’s eve.

One of our family favourite foods (including the adopted German relatives) would be the stuffed cabbage.

40dg. Pork mince (we always try to buy good quality meat and minced it ourselves)
1 pack of Smoked bacon (this is my thing, I think it gives the filing a more interesting flavour)
30 dg. Smoked ribs (you need to slice them beside each bone that you can divide them when cooking)
1 normal sized white cabbage
60 dg. Sauerkraut
1 normal sized onion
10 dg. rice
2 cloves of Garlic
Salt and ground black pepper
1 spoon of tomato puree
1 teaspoon of Paprika powder
3 tablespoons of cooking oil
3 dg. Flour
Some Sour cream – to serve

*dg is dekagram- 10 grams.

Start by getting the cabbage and cutting out the hard bit in the middle.
Then cook it or steam it approx. 10 min. until the cabbage softens up a little bit. (This makes it easier for later when you will have to wrap the filing inside it, but please don’t overcook it!).

While the cabbage is cooking, heat one spoonful of olive oil and fry the dry rice until it turns nice golden-brown, then pour some water over it; just enough to half cook the rice.
When the water begins to boil add some salt and b. pepper to it. Take the rice off when it is HALF cooked (make sure no excess water left on it).

When the cabbage and rice is finished put them aside to cool them down a little bit- since no one likes burnt fingers!
Get the pork, bacon, half of the onion and the garlic and mince them together.
Put them in a bowl with the cooled and half cooked rice add some more salt and b. pepper and the tomato puree and mix them well together.

Get the cabbage and carefully start to peel each leaf off- we always thin off the thick bottom of the leaf with a knife, again it will make it easier to roll up the leaves.

Get one of the leaves in the palm of your hand and fill it with some of the mixture until you run out of leaves. If there is some left-over from the meaty mix, roll them up into little balls.
Cut up the small unusable leaves from the cabbage and mix them with the Sauerkraut then half them. Put the first half to the bottom of the pot with half of the smoked ribs evenly spread around. Put all the stuffed cabbage leaves neatly over it and spread the other half of the Sauerkraut and smoked ribs over the top of the stuffed cabbage.
Fill the pot with water until it covers the food, put a lid on it and let it slowly cook for about 2 hours.

After the cabbage has been cooked for 2 hours get 2 spoonful of cooking oil and heat it up in a separate dish. Slice the other half of the onion to small fine pieces and add it to the oil then add the flour and fry them until they have a nice colour. Whilst constantly stirring add the paprika powder to the fried onion and flour and very quickly add a little bit of the juice from the cabbage, don’t let it get lumpy (you do this to thicken up the liquid around the cabbage). Put this floury mixture straight into the pot and let it cook for another 10 minutes.

And then you are ready to eat, you can serve and eat everything from the pot. Bon appetite!!!




Thankyou Andrea, for this great post! I know my Papa would love it... If anyone else has any recipes for One Pot Wednesday, Slow cook Sunday or Winter Warmers, then please do get in touch, I love contributor posts!

Porridge of the Week #31

Porridge of the Week #31
Raspberry and Honey with granola

Category: Flavour

With the swirls of pink running through the oats, this is a beautiful porridge to serve, as well as being healthy and very delicious. I find the colours really cheer me up in the morning- the aesthetic is real important to my porridge eating!
Porridges using fresh berries can be hard to get right. Fresh blueberry alone has very little flavour once mixed into the oats, and raspberries can be sharp and a bitter. The honey works perfectly with it to sweeten it up and make it a little more comforting. This is a really great, simple recipe. As I love texture and a bit of crunch, I like to add the granola to give it a slight 'crumble' effect.

Start by placing the raspberries in a bowl and pouring in a drizzle of milk- about enought o half cover them. In the microwave or on the hob, warm the raspberries til the milk has gone pink and is warmed through, looking like a hit raspberry milkshake. Warm the porridge with plenty of milk and allow to heat through. As it heats and starts to thicken, loosen it by pouring in the slightly crushed raspberries and milk mixture and stir with your spurtle until they begin to break down into the porridge. Add a squeeze of honey and serve up once warm. Top with a few whole raspberries and a little drizzle of honey and then scatter over a small amount of granola. You can actually use frozen raspberries for this if needs be as they will break down well into the mix.

I WILL add a photo of this porridge when I have one. it's too pretty not to!


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Food Fact of the Day

In Chinese, a person who eats a lot is called 'da wei wang' (pronounced: "dar way wung") - this literally translates as a 'big stomach king- 大胃王

I am, most certainly, a big stomach king.


Thankyou to my sister, living in Beijing, for this brilliant food fact!

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Winter Warmers: Goan Tomato and lentil Soup

Goan Tomato and Lentil Soup

This soup recipe is something I created based on one I saw in the supermarket. I liked the sound of it, but always one to make from scratch over buying in, the flavours inspired me to go home and create it myself. The mix of lentil and tomato makes it not only super healthy (A much needed boost of immunity in these winter months!) but also gives it a really lovely, thick texture. It looks like a standard winter soup, but the spices give it an more fragrant and unusual flavour than your standard winter vegetable soup.

10 or so cherry/plum tomatoes
1 tin chopped tomato
4 carrots
2 cups red lentils
2 medium onions
cumin seeds
1/2 fresh chopped chilli
Ground coriander
Ground cumin
Ground turmeric
Garlic bulb
A thumb sized piece of ginger
Black pepper
Goan potato curry spices (see recipe)

Start by soaking the lentils for ten minutes, in a few changes of water. Put in a pan and boil for twenty minutes of half an hour, until soft.
Heat a large pan and when it is warm add the cumin seeds. Gently heat until they begin to pop and jump about. Add a drizzle of oil and a small knob of butter (to prevent browning) and tip in the chopped onion. Once they are soft, add the garlic and all the spices, stirring so they create a sticky coating over the onions. Add a small amount of chopped fresh chilli and the ginger, grated- You can also use ginger powder.

At this point I should mention I also added some nameless spices in my cupboard, brought back from Goa, Ghana, etc. I believe the ones I used were for a potato curry- the scent was quite sweet. If you also have intrepid relatives, feel free to experiment at this point. If you don't, I would recommend heading to an Indian or African supermarket and seeing what spices you can find.

After five minutes, tip in the chopped carrot and pour in a cup of water, bringing to the boil. Place in the cherry tomatoes, whole. Reduce to a simmer, cover and leave for twenty minutes. At this point, add the tin of chopped tomatoes and the cooked lentils. Grind in the pepper. On the lowest heat, leave the soup to simmer for another fifteen minutes or so, then season with a little salt and a lot more cumin (according to taste!), puree, leaving thick chunks, and serve.


Friday, 2 December 2011

One Pot Wednesday: Octopus

exciting new feature for Lou Loves Food!
One cold winter Wednesday in East London a few weeks back, I cooked a warming one pot dish. It was a success, and decided that the format should be repeated again the next week. Before long a seed of genius was planted within one bright little mind (Ican't claim it was mine, I don't remember who first noticed the alliterative potential of 'one pot' and 'wednesday') and from that seed One Pot Wednesday was born.
As we work our way through a wide range of dishes that can be created with minimum complexity- minimum washing up- I will upload them for you to try. The first to make its debut is Octopus Stew...

Octopus Stew

This is a lovely dish, though a little nerve wracking the first time you give it a go, as octopus is notoriously temperamental. Don't be put off by assuming it is either tough or chewy, this needn't be the case and I'll give you comprehensive instructions to avoiding it. It's so worth doing if you get it right- and I'm confident you will. The little tightly curled pink tentacles that nestle amongst the translucent stock and onion are so delicate and beautiful, especially pitted against the greens of the parsley and celery. I find it impossible to work with octopus without going into a rapture over their aesthetic.

1 large octopus, cleaned and frozen
1 bulb of Fennel
4 stalks of celery
2 white onions

1 jug fish stock
2 cups white wine
2 bulbs garlic

Large handful parsley

Plenty of cracked black pepper

Start by warming a large pan with a generous amount of olive and preparing your octopus if it hasn't already been done. It's important to freeze your octopus as it tenderizes it, and prevents you having to give it a good beating with a rolling pin before cooking.
Place the octopus (whole and unchopped) into the pan and add the garlic. Leave for a couple of minutes for the octopus to release its natural juices into the oil and then add a cup of white wine and the chopped onion.
Add the fish stock (I like to use the jelly stock) and bring to the boil, reducing immediately to a simmer. Whilst this simmers, chop the celery and fennel into slices. Add to the pan with the chopped parsley, reserving a little.

Now leave! With octopus and squid there is a cardinal rule you must abide by- never cook between 4 and 45 minutes! For a soft and tender squid (a chewy, rubbery texture is the main reason most people dislike this maligned creature. It is not in fact an accurate description and it is easily avoided, as long as you cook it correctly.) you should either fry it gently for less than four minutes, or stew it for over forty five. Anything on either side or between this tricky times can be disastrous.

After about forty minutes, remove your octopus with a slatted spoon. Slice up thickly and return to the pan, checking the texture. You should be able to slide a knife into it to gage its tenderness, but I like to taste test it! It may need an extra five or ten minutes- don't be afraid of going with your instinct. After about 55 minutes, my octopus went from being ever so slightly al dente to perfectly smooth and soft.

When its ready, add another cup of white wine and plenty of cracked pepper. Stir, and remove from the heat. The fish stock should make the stew nice and salty, but if you do like to season you're dishes, don;t do it till this point- adding salt any earlier to seafood will dry it out and toughen it up- don't do it!

Dish the stew into bowls and top with extra pepper (you can never have too much pepper in my book- the same applies to onion) and a second handful of parsley.


Winter Warmers: Dishoom Chai

This week has seen a fog descend over London and the temperatures drop. Perfect time for the epicurean explorers to don their knit wear (another silver lining on the snow cloud) and head out to explore what the city has to offer.

If like me, tired old identi-kit pub Christmas menus just don’t leave you feeling festive, and your mulled wine soaked liver is calling for some excitement, don’t think of passing through Covent Garden without dipping into Disoom on Upper St Martin’s Lane, where nothing will warm you from the inside out like a Dishoom naughty Chai. Cosy into a booth and order one of their Dishoom Chai’s with a twist… They are, according to the Dishoom Wallahs themselves like a warm hug from a familiar friend. Who you suddenly realise is really pretty sexy.”

Photo courtesy of

For those of you truly chilled to the bone, I recommend the lethally strong Cognac Chai; Chai with Christmas spices and a powerful kick of Hennessy VSOP. (A couple of these makes a delightful- and this is tried and tested- booze jacket.) Or if you need your chocolate fix (and I know there are those of you are out there) there is the Chocolate Chai, a decadent cupful of dark chocolate liqueur, Chai and Bourbon, topped with chocolate shavings.

It’s hard to resist the Bailey’s Chai- the new kid on the block that could give White Russians and Irish Coffees a run for their money. Smooth and comforting, it is topped with a cool layer of fresh cream, which cuts through the warmth and richness of the Bailey’s/Chai combo.
My personal favourite, which somewhat caught me by surprise, was the Egg Nog Chai. If you’re less of a lush than me and only drop in for one cup to warm the cockles of your heart, than this is the one I would recommend. The classically festive Egg Nog is mixed with Chai and Hennessy VS before being dusted with cinnamon for an ultimately Christmas-y Chai. Whichever you choose, you are guaranteed to leave feeling warm bellied and full of Christmas ‘cheer’.


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Winter Warmers

Oh the excitement, boys and girls! I have a few new regular features lined up for you here at LouLovesFood…
The best place to begin would be with Winter Warmers- tips and guides to the best cafes, bars and outings to keep you fed, warm and perky through the long cold winter season. And with Christmas creeping onto the horizon, infiltrating its way into every shop window and restaurant menu, now seems like the time to start.

If you have any recommendations of places to eat, or things to see and do which you would like to share with the world and see featured, please feel free to get in touch!


Monday, 17 October 2011

Porridge of the Week SPECIAL

Porridge of the Week
Fruity crumble porridge

The other night, whilst mindlessly surfing the internet, I was hit suddenly with an exciting fact- that tomorrow (Monday, 10th October) was World Porridge Day. After my initial amazement that this event had somehow escaped my discovery until this point, I gathered myself together and began feverishly planning a recipe for the morning that was worthy of the occasion. I decided the recipe should involve a certain degree of preparation and should ideally use some seasonal or hand made ingredients. Having a box full of harvested apples from a friends garden, I decided on Apple Crumble Porridge, a deconstruction of the classic British pudding, using home made compote and granola. I set about cooking it up immediately.

This recipe involves more preparation than the average porridge, but it's worth the extra effort, and has a luxury finish that I think is worthy of the occasion. The blackberries give it a really rustic homely touch.


The night before you will be eating the porridge, start by making the apple compote. Peel and chop cooking apples. In a pan, melt some butter and the apples with a dash of hot water and four tablespoons of brown sugar, a sprinkling of cinnamon and a vanilla pod. Simmer until the apples break down and thicken. This should take about half an hour. Keep it thick and chunky, or puree with a hand blender if you wish.

Make the granola- the recipe for which can be found here.

Leave the compote in the pan overnight for the vanilla to infuse. In the morning, heat up your porridge and add a small sprinkling of nutmeg. Remove from the heat and spoon in a spoonful of compote and a handful of fresh blackberries, and blueberries if you wish. Tip into a bowl and top with extra compote. Sprinkle generously with granola and serve!

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Dinner: Bengali Salmon Parcels

Bengali Salmon Parcels
With broad beans and cumin carrots

I was cooking with Simon tonight and he introduced me to this recipe. It was beautiful- I love salmon as it is, but this was delicate with a real kick, and also took almost no time at all to prepare and cook. Whilst mixing the yoghurt with the freshly blended spices I had a feeling it was going to be a bit special, so I grabbed my camera and paid attention...

Here be the recipe:

salmon fillets
1 tsp each ground cumin and turmeric
1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
3cm piece root ginger
1 garlic clove , peeled
small bunch coriander , chopped
2 green chillies , seeded and sliced
200ml Greek yogurt

1.Rub the salmon with the turmeric, cuminand mustard. Put the ginger, garlic, coriander and most the chillies in a food processor and whizz together. Add the yoghurt and some salt and whizz again.
2. Spread most of the yoghurt mixture over both sides of each piece of salmon (keep back a couple of tbsp). Take 4 sheets of foil, then sit a salmon fillet in the middle of each. Seal to make parcels, leaving a bit of room for air to circulate. Cook in the oven at 220C/ fan 200C/gas 7 for 8 minutes.
I served it with broad beans and cumin carrots- made simply by tossing cumin seeds in butter in a pan with a little sugar, and stirring through carrots as they steam- and the remaining yoghurt on the side.

Food Fact of the Day

In accordance to people's changing tastes, Cheddar is getting sweeter, becoming less dry and nutty, and more sweet and smooth.
This is not done by adding sugar or anything as unappealing, but simply by using a different type of bacteria .

Cheddar Cheese was discovered 800 years ago, by accident, in Cheddar- giving it its name.

Thursday, 15 September 2011

Argentinian Travel Journal

Argentinian Food Journal

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?
Well here are a few sketchbook pages from my trip to Argentina, home to coffee, wine, chocolate, pastries and red wine. All the good good bad things...


Porridge of the Week # 30

Porridge of the Week #30
Lemon Curd and Strawberry

Category: Flavour
In a pan, simmer the oats in milk. When they have reached your desired consistency, stir in a spoonful of lemon curd. Tip into a bowl and top with another dollop of lemon curd and a handful of chopped fresh strawberries.

Lemon curd and strawberries- A classic combination! This is an interpretation of a porridge created by Simon. Not only is it pretty to look at, it has a really sweet, light summer pudding feel to it. A very different affair from the heavy, spicy winter feeling that porridge is usually associated with. Simon, I am impressed...


Monday, 12 September 2011

Student Special: Tomato Sauce 101

Tomato sauces are a classic staple in student cuisine- ideal for thin wallets and fussy eaters. Making the tomato base couldn’t be simpler and it’s a lot more satisfying than hitting up the condiment aisles in the supermarket. Once you’ve got your head round this, you can use the recipe for a huge range of simple suppers.

Save yourself a bit of effort by using tinned tomatoes. Budget friendly and available all year round (as well as deceptively healthy for food that comes out of a can) they should be a welcome addition to any kitchen. Unlike that rogue cucumber, it’s impossible to find a tin of tomatoes in a furry soup like state, hidden in the back corner of the fridge four weeks down the line. I call it an Apocalypse food- and apocalypse foods (hint- anything with a life expectancy longer than yours) can be considered a student’s culinary best friend.

Classic Tomato Pasta Sauce

You will need…

• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 garlic cloves, crushed
• 1 medium onion, chopped
• 2 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
• 1 tsp sugar (optional)
• A little salt and ground black pepper

In a sauce pan, fry the onion till softened and clear before adding the garlic. Fry for a minute or so then tip in the chopped tomatoes. Add the sugar. (With tomatoes, sugar works in the same way as salt- drawing out and enhancing the flavour.) Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer for five minutes before removing from the heat. At this point, if you prefer it smoother, you could give it a quick blitz in a food processor or using a hand blender. You’re tomato sauce is now ready to go!


Spagetti Bolognese

Spaghetti Bolognese is as much a quintessential part of student life as Neighbours and Pot Noodle- without the shame and inevitable regret. Cheap and easy to cook, it makes for a great pre night out stomach-liner as well as a quick and hearty mid-week dinner during revision, or throw together feast for friends.
Turn this sauce into a meal by frying 200g minced beef in a pan until browned. Pour in a half glass of red wine. (This is a great way to use up that left over party wine- cheap enough to make you buy it, too cheap to want to drink…) Simmer until the wine has reduced by about two thirds. Stir in your tomato sauce and sprinkle with dried oregano. Leave to thicken on the lowest flame, stirring occasionally, whilst you cook your spaghetti according to the packet.
When the pasta is done, pile it onto a plate and top generously with pasta sauce, adding a few fresh basil leaves before serving.

Homemade pizzas
Cooking should be an enjoyable and social activity. And when so much of student socialising takes place in the kitchen (It’s the room where the beers kept, boys…) it can be a great way spend an evening with friends. One of my favourite communal cooking experiences is making your own pizza.
Simply reduce the sauce into a thick paste by leaving to simmer away for an hour or so. Add a little tomato puree and dried oregano and spread onto a pre-bought pizza base- you can get these in sets of 2 for £1 from Asda.
And then you have the fun bit; topping with whatever takes your fancy. Mozzarella, tuna, pineapple or mushrooms are all popular options, but you can keep it as simple or make it as creative as you like- or dare!

Chicken Parmesan
Spoon your tomato sauce generously over cooked breaded chicken cutlets (You can by these pre-cooked and coated in supermarkets). Top with slices of mozzarella (approximately half to a whole 125g packet) and bake until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbling. Serve with spaghetti or a green leafy salad. It’s as simple as that!



- Cooking the onions in butter instead of oil will prevent them from burning.

- Make your sauce richer by adding a squeeze of tomato puree, or for a slight kick, tomato puree with chilli.
- Why not transform your sauce into something new by adding a few basic other ingredients? Try stirring some spinach into the sauce till wilted then pile onto your pasta and scatter with some chunks of feta cheese. For a Mediterranean vibe, top with chopped black olives and pine nuts.
- For meat lovers (and red blooded males) fry some chopped up pieces of bacon in with the garlic and onions whilst making the sauce, for a smokier, meatier finish.


Monday, 15 August 2011

South Indian Crab Curry

Helena has arrived in Europe, and we followed a traditional reunion trip to Foxcroft with a reunion home cooked meal for the weary traveller. The unanimous choice with my co-host was South Indian Crab Curry, a dish that I had tried a few months back and had intermittently dreamt of since.

Fairly typical in East Asian cooking, I hadn't really experienced crab in Indian cooking before. (Not that I claim to be an officionado!)

Crab meat in a curry. Who'd-a thought it?

Everyone I mention this recipe to seemed a bit quizzical, but whilst white crab meat is fairly delicate, the brown crab meat is more, well... meaty- and substantial. Together, it has a really interesting thick consistency, and with the mass of spices, ends up a beautiful dish with really beautiful texture and depth of flavour.

As I mentioned, this is the second time I've cooked it, and it actually tasted better than I had remembered. Don't be daunted by the long list of ingredients (I often am!) as most of them are standard store cupboard spices. I find that curries are one dish whereby a long list of ingredients can hint at a really good finished product.

I've done the ingredients here for roughly 2-3 people.

1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 green cardamom pods
1 tsp cumin seeds
thumb sized piece of ginger, finely chopped
1 large clove of garlic
1 onion
1-2 red chillis, deseeded and finely sliced
1 tsp turmeric
125g brown crab meat
200ml coconut milk
juice of a lemon
250g white crab meat
A generous bunch of fresh coriander

Roughly, (it's a curry, how much precision do you really need..?) you start by frying the chilli, ginger, garlic and onion in the spices. When they're sticky and softened, add the brown crab meat with some butter and cook for a minute. Then add the coconut milk and about half a glass or so of water.
Leave to simmer for a while so the flavours infuse then add the lemon juice and simmer til its the consistency of double cream.

At the end, stir in the white crab meat and half the coriander. Season and serve on a bed of white rice, then top with the rest of the coriander.

Totally lovely!


Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Dinner 27.06.11

Griddled Courgette and Aubergine
With butterbeans, red onion and tomato


Opening my fridge tonight, I was faced with a slightly sad looking aubergine, and, as usual, an abundance of tomatoes and courgette. Deciding they needed using, I spent a while flicking through the nearest cookbooks I had to hand before giving up and doing what I always do: winging it.

The result got the job done. A healthy pile of butter beans, tomato and griddled veg, the smoked paprika and garlic I through in gave it a smokey, rich flavour.
This took no time at all. Fry two small red onions with some crushed garlic and a little freshly chopped chilli. Once they are soft, tip in four or five chopped tomatoes and simmer, seasoning with salt, pepper, and a teaspoon of smoked paprika. Finally, tip a tin of butter beans into the pan and mix in.
Whilst this is reducing slightly, slice your aubergine and courgette and griddle till cooked through and nicely scored.
Spoon the tomato and bean base onto a plate and top with the grilled vegetables.

This is a nice summery recipe, not only rich in vitamins but won't leave you feeling heavy or sluggish. Perfect with a glass of white wine and a sun lounge!


Friday, 22 July 2011

How to: Make home made falafel and hummus


I love Middle Eastern food- it's a real influence on the way I cook. Its light, fresh tapas style is especially perfect for the summer.
Any of you who follow my blog will know that I regularly turn to Ottolenghi for ideas when cooking, but if you want to start with the basics, you can't go wrong with falafel and hummus.
I made it a little more interesting by substituting the chickpeas that you traditionally use in falafel for sweet potato... It results in a beautiful coloured ball, and is a little sweeter.

This makes for a really lovely lunch or light supper. Serve it with warm pitta bread (gorgeous) or in wraps with the lettuce and hummus for something simple you can eat on the go.

Sweet Potato Falafel

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C and roast two large sweet potatoes whole until just tender - This will take about 45 to an hour. Turn off the oven, leave the potatoes to cool, then peel. (Not wanting to waste anything, I save the skin and chew on them later. Remember- this is where all the goodness lives!)

Put the sweet potatoes into a large bowl with a teaspoon and a half of cumin and ground coriander, two cloves of crushed garlic, a good splash of lemon juice and a small cup of gram/chickpea flour. Add this a little at a time as you stir it all together- you don't want too much. The first time I tried this it was a little heavy and dry. You want the mix to be sticky, but not too sloppy. But remember that when you chill it, it will set a bit more!

When it is fairly smooth season well and stick in the fridge to firm up for an hour, or the freezer for 20-30 minutes. When you take it out, your mix should be sticky rather than really wet. You can add a tablespoon or so more of chickpea flour if necessary at this stage if you think it still needs it.

Reheat the oven to 180C. (My directions are for a fan assisted oven.) Scoop up handfuls of the mix roll into falafel shaped balls- about an inch in diameter, and put them on an oiled tray. Sprinkle sesame seeds on top and bake in the oven for around 15 minutes, until the bases are golden brown.


This is an insanely quick and easy recipe! (Let's be honest- if it wasn't I probably wouldn't be doing it...) Just drain a tin of chickpeas and rinse, reserve a handful of whole chick peas for serving. Combine the chickpeas with four tablespoons of lemon juice, two cloves of crushed garlic, a tsp of cumin, salt, and 100ml tahini, with a few tablespoons of water in a food processor, and blend to a purée. Add more lemon juice, garlic, cumin or salt to taste.

Spoon out into a bowl- ideally something Middle Eastern, blue in tone and beautiful! Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and scatter with the reserved chickpeas. Finally, sprinkle on a bit of paprika. Serve with pitta bread.


Thursday, 21 July 2011

Recipe: Baked Ricotta Cakes with Red Sauce

Rumour has it it's summer- although I wouldn't blame you if you weren't convinced! Looking outside at the heavy clouds and perpetual drizzle, I'm not either.
But if there's one thing we English do with the same skill as complain about the frequently erratic weather, it is maintain a stiff upper lip. So I recommend defying the climate with a summery dinner party, and while you're at it, make the most of summer's fresh produce.

I cooked this pudding for some dinner guests and managed to feel distinctly summer-y. It's a really quick, simple pudding which makes the most of the summer fruits. Best of all, it looks deceptively elegant and has minimal ingredients. I always find this to be benefitial when I'm totting up my dinner party shopping list! So here it is- Baked Ricotta Cakes with Red Sauce...

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Place 250g ricotta cheese in a bowl and break it up. Add two beaten egg whites and 4tbsp honey, mixing thoroughly until completely combined.

Grease four ramekins. Spoon in the ricotta mix, making sure the tops are level. Bake for twenty minutes.

Whilst you are doing this, make the fruit sauce by placing 450g mixed fruit (You can either use fresh raspberries, blackberries strawberries, cherries etc or you can buy a bag of frozen. They're a lot cheaper and just as good for this purpose! Reserve a quarter or so to decorate, and heat the rest in a pan until soft. (Add a little water if the fruit is fresh).

Press the fruit through a sieve and sweeten with honey if it's a little too tart. When the cakes are baked, removed them from the oven and turn them onto plates. Gently tap the base of the ramekin to release it. It should drop out into a soft, beautiful dome. Drizzle over with the red sauce and top with the remaining fruit.

Ideally, serve on large, white simple plates, pooled in the fruit juices!
Happy "summer" !

Monday, 13 June 2011

Porridge of the Week #29

Porridge of the Week #29
Cherry and Acai Berry

Category: Healthy

In a pan, mix your oats (I use the Waitrose oats with wheatbran) with a large spoonful of milled flaxseed. Pour in two tablespoons of blended Acai Berry. Taking a handful of fresh cherries, remove the stone and chop into large chunks. Tip into the pan with a some berry smoothie or a red fruit juice and top up to the consistency you prefer with water. Warm the pan, stirring throughout.

I love this porridge! With the wheatbran, flax and Acai berry, it's a great healthy start as well as being really warm and fruity. Not hard work at all!
Acai is one of the top Super Foods, high in
antioxidents, packed with vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E. As well as this, it is good for the heart, immune system, energy levels, whilst encouraging healthy hair and skin. You cannot get enough of this berry!


Sunday, 29 May 2011

FOOD NEWS: Rumpus!


Hey Kids!
On friday June 10th, Rumpus will be holding their first birthday party! To celebrate this occasion, there will be a big old party at Electrowerkz, Angel Tube.

The Rumpus Folk say;

"We’re going all out on this one. We’ve called in Alejandro Toledo and the Magic Tombolinos, which is about as high octane as any live band can get without setting themselves on fire. We’ve got the Cut A Shine guys for a proper Old Skool Ceilidh with dosie dos and stripping the willow and all that kinda jazz. We’ve got a Hoe Down, with a whole night of bluegrass that’ll keep you stomping. The London Digital Circus, them guys what did that thing with the Rabbits, are back.

On top of all that we’ve got the Supatronix guys coming down to give you a whole night’s worth of sublime breaks and beats. These guys have been winning awards for years for their breakbeat night, and they’re coming out to play with us this time.

And of course, we’ve got 6 rooms filled to the brim. DJs playing the best in Ska, BalaknBeats, Electroswing, DnB, Dubstep. Live acts and secret performances waiting for you to find them. Art exhibitions and the Rumpus Cinema.

And, most importantly of all, CAKE!!!

Put yer glad rags on and come join us for the Birthday Party to end all Birthday Parties. Expect Clowns, Fairy Princesses, Cowboys, Pirates, Monsters, Wild Creatures and Cuddly Creatures.


There will indeed be cake! My sister project, Cake-Tease will be exhibiting and providing cake for the occasion (because what is a birthday party without cake..?) including chilli chocolate and popping candy cupcakes!

Please please, feel free to come by, have fun and show your support.



Tickets are available on the door, or at :
Elektrowerkz, Torrenz Street, Angel Tube

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Dinner: 27/05

Whilst lolling about in a friends kitchen recently, I sauntered past an open cookbook. It was one of Jamie Oliver's, open on the page below; and on the page were scallops, asparagus and lentils- displayed together with a glossy full page photo.

I adore lentils. I love how comforting they are, and so rich in flavour, even when just boiled with pepper. I could only imagine how this would be intensified by the pancetta and asparagus.
I also love scallops, but couldn't imagine such a delicate meat combined with an otherwise heavy and robust combination of ingredients.

I waited for two long weeks before the opportunity to try it presented itself, and when it did, it entirely lived up to my expectations- warming and hearty. The bay and sage leaves really make this recipe, so if you try it (and I suggest you do) please don't leave them out!


■10 1/2 Puy lentils
■1 bay leaf (dried ok)
■2 cloves of garlic
■1 potato, peeled
■1 tomato
■a small handful of fresh flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and finely chopped
■herb or red wine vinegar
■good-quality extra virgin olive oil
■sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
■5 heaped tbsp creme fraiche or thick, natural plain yogurt (full fat yogurt worked great)
■juice of 1 lemon
■2 handfuls of asparagus
■12 slices of pancetta or bacon (I vote for pancetta!)
■olive oil
■12 large or 16 small scallops, shelled and trimmed (large worked better for me)
■24 sage leaves


In a saucepan, cover the lentils with water and, to give them great flavor, add the bay leaf, garlic cloves, potato and tomato. Bring to the boil and simmer for around 20-25 minutes (topping up with water if necessary) until the lentils are tender but holding their shape (i.e. not mushy). Drain off 90% of the water, discard the bay leaf, tomato skin and garlic skin and mash the potato, tomato and garlic into the lentils with a fork. Add the parsley and around 2 tbsp of vinegar and 4 tbsp of olive oil. Mix into the lentils and season carefully to taste.

Season the creme fraiche or yogurt with salt, pepper and just enough lemon juice to give it a twang – the juice of 1 lemon will probably be enough.

Trim the asparagus to remove fibrous ends. Drizzle a little olive oil into a pan, and fry the pancetta or bacon until crisp and golden brown. Remove and place into a separate platter. Add asparagus into the ‘pancetta pan’ along with seasoned scallops and cook over a high heat until the scallops are golden on both sides. Remove these to the platter too. Finally drizzle int a little more olive oil and lay in your sage leaves. Fry on both sides for 40 seconds or so until crisp and remove to the platter.

Plate with lentils at the bottom, topped with scallops, pancetta, asparagus, sage and a dollop of yogurt.

Try it and enjoy!

Monday, 16 May 2011

Recipe: White Chocolate and Rosewater Cake


Pistachio and Rosewater: This is my absolute favourite cake! I always forget till I'm shelling them and sneaking them into my mouth just how good pistachios are... Rosewater, pistachio and white chocolate are a perfect combination- unlike many cakes, it isn't too sweet- instead it is musky, with a Middle Eastern flavour, and with the green and purple of the pistachio against the white buttercream, it's absolutely stunning to serve up. Perfect for a summer afternoon tea party!

So here we go...


75g / 3 oz whole shelled pistachios, finely chopped
225g / 8 oz caster sugar
225g / 8 oz unsalted butter
4 large eggs
225g / 8 oz self raising flour, sieved
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 level tbsp rose water

For decorating the cake

125g / 4 oz unsalted butter
225g / 8 oz icing sugar
1 tsp rose water
200g / 7 oz Belgian white chocolate, broken into pieces
25g / 1 oz pistachios, slightly crushed

Start by beating the sugar and butter til light and fluffy and white in colour. Then beat some more. The more effort you put in here, the lighter the resulting cake will be. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the eggs and then add spoonful at a time into the mix, beating well between each addition.

Next, with a metal spoon, fold in the flour, baking powder, rose water and pistachios until just combined. It's kind of as simple as that. Spoon the mixture into a prepared cake tin and bake for an hour at 140C. You can also do these as cupcakes- I do regularly and they're fantastic. For this, simply spoon the mix into cupcake cases using an ice cream scoop and bake at 180C for 18 minutes.

When the cake is cooked, leave to cool completely. Whilst you are doing this, prepare the buttercream simply by creaming together the butter and icing sugar. Add 1 tbsp boiling water and 1 tsp rose water. I would test it at this point and check it. You may want it a little stronger if you prefer, but be careful as it can be a little overpowering!

Spoon the buttercream onto the cake and roughly smooth over to completely cover. Blitz the pistachios and white chocolate until rough then sprinkle over the top of the cake. The cake is now ready to serve!

Enjoy :)


Monday, 9 May 2011

Dinner: 09/05/2011


So tonight I was meant to be doing a chicken satay salad, but it wasn't til after the chicken was grilling away and the salad was prepared that we realised we not only didn't have lime, but we didn't have red Thai paste after.

We decided the only solution was to abandon ship and attempt to try and create a sauce ourselves. I based it on typical cold noodle salads, using Asian ingredients to complement the peanut. As it turns out, I'm glad we didn't have the paste- this dressing was lovely, and a really nice introduction to summer cooking!

In a bowl, toss bean sprouts, thinly sliced lengthways spring onion, red onion, thinly sliced, 1/2 cucumber sliced lengthways with two tablespoons of olive oil.
Grill some chicken breasts and slice diagonally.

Spoon 5 tablespoons of peanut butter (crunchy please, ladies and gentlemen!) into a jug and mix with the juice of a lime (If you actually have one...) then add a tablespoon of cider vinegar, a good shake of soy sauce and a tablespoon of honey with some garlic and chili. In a recipe like this, I use Very Lazy.
These quantities are just rough guides- I would recommend testing them, and adjusting accordingly. To get a more dressing like consistency, stir hot water into the mixture until it is like a lumpy, crunchy double cream.

Finally, top the salad with the chicken and drizzle over the sauce. Stir through. I saved a little aside so I could drizzle over if needed.

Strangely, the cider vinegar did a lot of leg work in this recipe and despite being a salad, it was substantial enough to keep the men folk satisfied. A very happy accident.


Thursday, 21 April 2011

Porridge of the Week #28 ARGENTINA SPECIAL!

Porridge of the Week #28
Dulce de Leche and Banana

Category: Flavour

Start by soaking the oats in milk. Chop up a banana (saving three slices) and mash- you could put it in a dribble of milk and quickly heat if that helps to break it down. Stir this into the porridge and then, in a ramekin or bowl, heat 3 tablespoons of Dulce de Leche- although this can be varied to taste.
Spoon the dulce de leche into the porridge whilst heating through, leaving half aside.
Finally, serve up, Top with the banana and a drizzle of leftover Dulce de Leche.

Dulce de leche (dulce- sweet, leche- milk) is a caramelised milk dessert 'sauce' that I have become addicted to whilst in Argentina. It appears the Argentinians share this passion, as they put it in most of their confectionary and puddings. I knew instantly that it would make an incredible porridge. Combined with banana, it is one of my all time favourites. (Yeah, I know...)

The amount I use is only a guide, add it to taste. You may find you too become addicted and need a lot more! I tried this porridge on a non porridge eating Argentinian local and it got the thumbs up! If you like this recipe (I cannot recommend it enough) check back for other dulce de leche themed porridge of the week ideas that I have been concocting...


Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Argentinian Curanto


If you aren't following my steady stream of excited food chatter on Twitter , then you may not realise I am currently doing some extensive food research in the land of wine, coffee, red meat, chocolate and all things toxic- I am eating in Argentina, and I thoroughly approve.

A few days ago I took a 20 hour bus from the capital of Buenos Aires to Bariloche, in the Patagonian Andes where today, I tried Caranto.

Caranto is made by cooking meat and vegetables under ground (The name Calanto comes from the type of rock on which the meat is cooked.) Pits are dug into the soil and wood is placed in them, onto which a fire is built. The fire is layered over with rocks, which are heated by the flames. It takes a few hours for the fire to heat the rocks through, after which leaves are piled onto the hot rocks to trap in the smoke and absorb the fat whilst the meat, which is placed on top, is cooked through from the heat.

My only previous experience of Caranto has been on survival documentaries, and it is something I've been keen to try, so we found ourselves a restaurant where caranto meat was being carried on trays from table to table, distributed by waitresses onto waiting plates. We arrive, and a man pulls back a heavy blanket which covers the pit of leaves, revealing a deep pit filled with whole chickens, piles of apples and lumps of blackened steaks, smoke billowing out from the piles of leaves covering the pit.

A scruffy little caranto pit.
Not a great photo! I will replace it when I get the opportunity so you can get a better idea...

Typically, you are served 5 portions of vegetables and meat- sausage, beef, chicken, lamb and my favourite (unusually) pork; with a soft, wrinkled whole baked apple. Each meat came with a variety of squash mashes and baked sweet potato, brought to the table one at a time. The meat and vegetables (and the very air of the restaurant) smells and tastes distinctly smokey, yet different -more earthy- than typical barbeque'd meat.

I'm not especially a fan of red meat or BBQ food (you may wonder what I'm doing in Argentina... Did I mention the chocolate and the wine..?) but it was nonetheless a good meal, and well worth the very traditionally South American experience.

Please check back for more Argentina posts, including recipes, experimentations with South American cuisine and illustrated gourmet guides!