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’.