Saturday, January 25, 2014


Bergamots - pale fleshed, pale skinned (though some are green) and petite like a blood orange - have the most extraordinary flavour. Their juice is full of perfume and fresh, fresh citrus, and smells like a cup of the best Earl Grey tea imaginable.

Halved bergamots

Eating this sorbet was a perfect antidote to a cripplingly heavy lunch (mini pizzette with smoked provola, then sausages in red wine with parmesan polenta and pink radicchio, and more cheese after that); just tangy enough that you can get a full dose of bergamot, but not so much that your eyes start to water.

Bergamo sorbet
350g caster sugar
4 unwaxed bergamots, zested and juiced

1. Gently heat the sugar with 600ml water in a pan until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to the boil and simmer for 3 minutes then remove from the heat and stir in the bergamot zest. Allow to infuse and cool completely.
2. Stir in the juice and strain into the bowl of an ice cream machine and churn the machine until almost frozen then transfer to the freezer to set. Alternatively pour the cooled syrup into a large, shallow, freezeproof tub and freeze. Fluff up the sorbet with a fork every hour, then after 4 hours, leave to freeze. Keep it covered in the freezer for up to 3 months. 

Next time I might drizzle it in dark honey to serve, or infuse the syrup with pieces of ginger.

James Ramsden: "spectac"
[Must admit, bergamots aren't the easiest things to get you paws on but you can buy them here at Natoora. Now is when their at their best.]

Monday, January 13, 2014


Cavolo nero and hazelnut pesto

200g cavolo nero, trimmed of thick stems, washed and chopped
3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts
3 anchovies in oil
1 fat garlic clove
good handful of watercress leaves
juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
25g parmesan, grated
100ml olive oil
salt and pepper

Whiz all but the olive oil in a food processor then, still whizzing, gradually pour in the olive oil until you have a thick pesto. Season generously.

Stir through pasta, scoop up with crisps, dollop onto soup.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Brown sugar pear cake (for pudding)

for the pears
2 large ripe pears (such as comice) peeled
juice of a lemon
100g caster sugar
2 slices of fresh ginger
splash of brandy

for the cake
100g golden caster sugar
100g light brown sugar
1 tsp sea salt
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground ginger
100g ground almonds
100g semolina
1 tsp vanilla extract
zest of a lemon
4 medium free range eggs, lightly beaten
200ml olive oil

1. Place the pears in a deep saucepan with 300ml water or just enough to cover. Add the lemon juice, sugar, ginger and brandy and bring to simmer. Simmer over a medium-low heat for 10-15 minutes until just beginning to soften and the poaching liquid has taken on some of the flavour. Remove the pears with a slotted spoon and allow to cool. Don't worry if they start to brown.
2. Vigorously simmer the juices for 20 minutes so they reduce into roughly 75ml of golden, caramel-like syrup. Pour almost all of the syrup in the bottom of a lightly greased 20cm springform cake tin and swirl to cover a bit. Slice the pears in half, remove the core and thinly slice. Layer onto the caramel base in a spiral shape, overlapping slightly and covering entirely.
3. Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4. In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Stir through the eggs and olive oil to make a wet batter. Pour the batter over the pears and slide the cake tin, on a baking sheet, into the oven. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour until golden and a skewer comes out clean.
4. Leave the cake to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before turning it out onto a wire rack. While still warm, brush the remaining syrup onto the pears. Best served warm (not hot) with a drizzle of cream.

Saturday, October 5, 2013


Something for the weekend

Serves 2 with a jacket potato and salad

knob of butter, plus extra for greasing
1 onion, grated or finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
Splosh of brandy
1 1/2 tsp plain flour
150ml whole milk
1 tsp English mustard
1/2 wholegrain mustard
1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
pinch nutmeg
200g mix brown and white crab meat
small handful of tarragon and/or parsley leaves, chopped
75g brown shrimp
lemon juice to taste
50g breadcrumbs, from a coarse, stale loaf
1 tbsp chopped hazelnuts (optional)
20g parmesan
olive oil for drizzling

Heat the oven to 180C/fan160/gas mark 4. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium-low heat. Fry the onion for 10 minutes, covered, until softened then add the garlic. Pour in the brandy, increase the heat and bubble for a couple of minutes. Stir in the flour and fry for a further 2 minutes. Gradually incorporate the milk, stirring, to thicken. Stir through the mustards, Worcestershire sauce and nutmeg, adding more to taste, if you like. 

Fold the brown and white crab, herbs and half the shrimp into the sauce. Season well with salt, pepper and the lemon juice to taste, then pour into a small ovenproof dish or two ramekins. Mix the breadcrumbs and hazelnuts, if using, with the cheese and the remaining brown shrimp and sprinkle onto the crab. Drizzle generously with olive oil, then slide into the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden and bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve immediately.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


Lemongrass and coconut pork larb with rice

Serves 4

240g basmati rice
1 tsp sesame oil
1 red onion, very finely chopped
2 sticks lemongrass, tough outer layers removed, grated
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 thai red chilli, sliced, plus extra to serve
500g free-range pork mince
1 tbsp fish sauce
1/2 tsp palm sugar
1/2 tbsp Mirin rice wine
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
2 tbsp creamed coconut
small handful Thai basil, torn
small handful coriander, chopped
4 spring onions, sliced, to serve
2 limes, quartered, to serve

1. Soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes then drain and rinse. Add it to a small saucepan with 300ml water, and cover. Bring to the boil, then leave on a very low heat, tightly covered, for 20 minutes, without checking.
2. Meanwhile, heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the onion, lemongrass, ginger and chilli. Fry for 5 minutes, then add the pork mince. Cook for 10 minutes, breaking up with a wooden spoon until browned. Drizzle in the fish sauce, palm sugar, Mirin wine, vinegar and creamed coconut and stir. Fry for another 5 minutes.
3. Remove the lid from the rice pan and fluff the rice with a fork. Spoon onto a platter and top with the pork larb. Scatter with the Thai basil, coriander, extra red chillies, if you like, and spring onions. Serve with the lime wedges and crunchy, sesame dressed, gem lettuce leaves.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


On a day when weather is heavy, hot and bright - and after months of book writing and recipe testing - the only thing called for in my kitchen is a little light relief (and a burst of sharp citrus). Lemon tagliatelli is recipe that is understated, painless to produce and refreshingly clean tasting. A good squeeze of lemon juice and a scattering of zest, in all their simplicity, do just enough to seep into and coat long strands of taglatelli, and impart a clear, fresh and fragrant flavour. The dish needs little else, other than plump, unwaxed lemons and a few salty morsels to balance, to produce the most simple and elegant of suppers.

Lemon tagliatelli
Serves 2
Ready in 15

200g tagliatelli
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
1 large garlic clove, crushed
2 anchovy fillets in oil, finely chopped
zest of 1 unwaxed lemon, juice of 3, plus extra zest to serve
parmesan, freshly grated, to serve
handful fresh basil leaves

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the tagliatelli and boil for 8 minutes, or according to pack instructions, until al dente. Drain, reserving 2 tbsp of the pasta water, and refresh under cold water. Toss through a little olive oil to prevent the pasta sticking.
Meanwhile, heat the 2 tbsp of olive oil in a wide, deep frying pan over a medium-low heat. Add the garlic and anchovy and stir for 2 minutes until the anchovy begins to melt into the oil. Add the lemon zest and juice with the pasta water and season generously. Bring to a simmer.
Add the drained tagliatelli to the pan and toss through the lemon sauce until warmed through and completely coated in the sauce. Dish into bowls with a little more zest. Top with plenty of parmesan, a drizzle of best extra virgin olive oil and basil leaves to serve.

Thursday, April 4, 2013




1/2 tbsp olive oil
small knob of butter
1 shallot, very finely chopped
1 stick celery, very finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
3 free-range pork sausages
8 chilli blush tomatoes (Sacla do a good version), chopped
4 tbsp chicken stock or water, hot
1 tbsp tomato puree
100g ricotta
150g amori pasta
handful chopped parsley leaves

Heat the olive oil and butter in a pan over a medium-low heat. When the butter has melted, add the shallot, celery and garlic and sweat, covered, for 5 minutes until soft but not coloured. 
Remove the meat from the sausages and add to the pan, breaking up lumps with the back of a wooden spoon. Fry gently for 10 minutes until browned and starting to caramelise. Then, stir in the chopped chilli tomato, hot chicken stock/water and tomato puree. Season with salt and black pepper and cook for 5 minutes. 
Meanwhile, bring a pan of salted water to the boil and add the pasta. Cook for 8 minutes until al dente or according to according to pack instructions. Drain, reserving 1 tbsp of the pasta water and stir through the sausage sauce. 
Stir the ricotta and the chopped parsley through the pasta and season again to taste. Serve with a crunchy salad and bread for mopping.