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.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


This on a menu, with a few thin slices of proper jamon, makes me squeal with glee. If there were space, I'd make a vat-load to fill jars for every corner of the fridge, and dip in and out when I pleased.

Celeriac remoulade wins for its true rooty flavour; no ingredient is lost even though tossed through buckets of spicy mustard and soused in tart lemon juice. It's a frugal combination and is easy to make. It is bed-friend to my favourite things: slather it on good bread; spoon it into a jacket potato and eat with baked beans (yes); gobble fork-free with piggy bits.  


Serves 4-6
1 x 500g celeriac, peeled
olive oil, to drizzle
3 tbsp creme fraiche
1 tbsp grainy mustard
3 tbsp dijon mustard
juice of a lemon
freshly chopped parsley leaves, to serve

Coarsely grate the celeriac into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil.
In another bowl, mix the creme fraiche with the mustards then stir through the lemon juice. Taste then season with salt and pepper as you see fit. Mix through the celeriac and, just as you are about to serve, toss with the chopped parsley.
Serve a handful on salty jamon and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


There's no fuss with this recipe just simple, amazing flavour. Sage, lemon, butter, garlic. Oh, and a cracking gravy.

My nostrils are tickling. Let's have some chicken. 


serves 4-6

30g butter, softened
2 cloves garlic
1.5kg free-range chicken, giblets removed, room temperature
6 sage leaves
1/2 lemon
olive oil, for drizzling
1/2 tsp plain flour 
100ml white wine
200ml chicken stock or hot water

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 6. 
Mix the butter with the garlic in a bowl and season. Place the chicken on a roasting tray and loosen the skin from the neck. Gently push your fingers up and under the skin, taking care not to tear it. Slide up the softened butter and massage the skin to spread the butter across the breast. Then, slide the sage leave so that they sit flattened between the butter and flesh. When the skin crisps, the sage leaves will to. Tuck the skin under the bird.
Press the lemon into the chicken cavity. Drizzle the bird with olive oil and season with sea salt flakes. 
Put the chicken in the oven and roast at the high oven temperature for 10 minutes. Turn the oven down to 180C/fan160C/gas 4, roasting for a further 50 minutes until the juices from the chicken run clear.
Transfer the chook to a large board. Leave the chicken to rest, loosely covered with foil, while you make the gravy.
Pour the juices from the roasting tin into a small pan with the flour. Whisk the juices so the flour is soaked up, then add the wine. Turn up the heat and boil for 2 minutes before adding the stock/water. Simmer for 5 minutes, strain and serve. Perfect with mashed potato and buttery carrots. 

Friday, February 22, 2013



as a starter, Sunday supper, or brunch

knob butter for greasing
1tbsp olive oil
1 head red chicory, sliced
1/2 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp thyme leaves
60g soft crumbly cheese -I used Munster
2 medium free-range eggs

Preheat the oven to 200C/fan180C/gas 6. Butter 2 x 10cm ramekins.
Heat the olive oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Fry the chicory for 3 minutes until wilted, then add the garlic. Stir through and keep on the heat for another minute. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Distribute the chicory between the 2 ramekins and top with the crumbled cheese. Crack an egg on each and place in the oven for 5-7 minutes until the white of the egg has hardened and the cheese is bubbling. Remove from the oven and serve.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


I just had to....

Banana, date, caramel loaf

3 ripe bananas (250g), mashed
100g unsalted butter, melted
100g golden caster sugar
6 pitted dates, finely chopped
1 tbsp amaretto/ dark rum
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 free-range egg
150g plain flour
1 heaped tsp bicarbonate of soda

for the caramel:
50g golden caster sugar
1 tbsp creme fraiche
pinch salt

Preheat the oven to 180C/fan160C/gas 4. Grease and line a 1ltr loaf tin with baking parchment.
Mix the mashed bananas with the melted butter and golden caster sugar. Stir through the dates, the amaretto and vanilla then beat in the egg. Sift in the flour and bicarbonate of soda and gently fold through the banana mix with a metal spoon. 
Pour the mix into the loaf tin and place in the oven. Bake for 45 minutes - the cake should be dark on top with a soft, moist sponge. Check that it is done by poking a skewer through the centre - if it comes out clean it's ready.
Leave the loaf to cool completely in its tin while you make the caramel. Heat the sugar in a small pan with 1 tablespoon of water over a low heat. Without stirring, leave the sugar to melt and gently simmer until it turns a deep hazelnut colour. Remove from the heat and add the creme fraiche and salt and stir. It will splutter at first, then turn into a smooth caramel. 
Transfer the cake to a plate or platter and quickly pour the caramel over the loaf. It will immediately harden like toffee, giving a good snap when you slice through. Serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and a good cup of cha.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013


Typical, isn't it, that the night before mackerel makes top news - over-fished, just like that - I cook it for supper? Delicious it was, too, with its silvery skin still on and its blue, mottled sheen swimming through the soup. But no longer, and I will miss it, alas. A quick ode to the mackerel.

I'll say 'til when, to you, oh silvered jewel.

If you e'er come back in plentiful school
I will scoop you back with a fishy kiss, 
and stir you into this lovely dish.

This noodle broth welcomes other sustainable fish. Try it, instead, with herring, sardine or dab - or search here for help on which goodly water-creature to choose.


1 tbsp groundnut oil
1 shallot, finely sliced
1/2 red chilli, finely sliced
1/2 garlic clove, finely sliced
10 fennel seeds
700ml fresh fish stock
1 star anise
1 tbsp nam pla fish sauce
1/2 tbsp soy sauce
4 fillets of sea-fished sustainable fish (300g), pin-boned
200g ribbon rice noodles
200g kohlrabi, finely cut into matchsticks
Tsuru: eat the bits or chilli oil to serve (optional)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the shallot. Fry gently for 2 minutes until soft, then add the chilli, garlic and fennel seeds. Cook for another minute until fragrant. Pour in the fish stock and add the star anise with the nam pla and soy sauce. Simmer for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, soak the noodles in boiling water until tender, or according to packet instructions, then drain under cold water.
Slice the fish into chunks and add to the pan, along with the kohlrabi. The fish will instantly begin to poach and become flaky.
Stir the noodles into the broth to heat, then serve into deep bowls, dividing up the fish and noodles equally.

Spoon a little of the Tsuru chilli oil on top of the soup and slurp.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013




1 red onion, roughly chopped
2 sticks lemongrass, peeled of a layer
1 garlic clove
1-2 red chillies, roughly chopped
15g ginger, grated
1 tbsp light oil, for frying
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground turmeric
500g beef shin, bone in
400ml tin coconut milk
200ml water
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 cinnamon stick

In a food processor or pestle and mortar, blend the red onion, lemongrass, garlic, chillies and ginger together until you have a rough paste.
Heat the olive oil in a deep frying pan and add the paste. Stir in the ground spices and fry for 1 minute until fragrant. Add the beef shin and coat in the spiced paste. Fry for 2 minutes over a high heat so the beef begins to brown, then add the remaining 5 ingredients. Gently simmer for 2-3 hours until the beef is falling apart and the liquid has reduced. Serve with wilted greens and sticky rice.

Friday, January 4, 2013


Oh, hello you. It's been a while.

Time to bring in the New Year with some spice and some warmth. 

We're doing a whole month of it. Every night for the month of January my dear one and I are cooking Feel Good Food. Spicy broths, Asian salads, punchy curries and argy bhaji.  So, set the table, pull on your stocking socks, and tuck into a whole lotta love.

For this recipe: Start with a dal, change your mind and end with a soup.



250g red lentils, rinsed
3 tbsp sunflower oil
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 onion, finely chopped
2 whole red chillies, sliced down the side
2cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly cut into matchsticks
3 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground coriander
4 cooked beetroot, quartered
400ml good quality vegetable stock
natural yoghurt, to serve
handful chopped fresh coriander leaves, to serve

Cover the lentils with approximately 1 litre of water and bring to the boil, skimming any froth that comes to the top with a spoon. Cover the pan with a lid, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 20 minutes, stirring regularly, until the lentils are tender. When cooked, remove the pan from the heat and drain if necessary. Stir and set aside to cool. 

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat, then gently fry the cumin seeds until they are fragrant. Add the onion, ginger and whole chillies and fry until golden and slightly softened. Add the garlic and fry for another 30 seconds.

Pour in the chopped tomatoes, 100ml water with the ground spices and stir. Season. Bring to a gentle simmer and leave to cook, with the lid on, for 20 minutes. 

Stir in the lentils and transfer to a blender. Add the quartered beetroot and whiz until smooth. Slowly pour in the stock, pulsing the blender until you reach a thick soup consistency. You may not want to use all of the stock or you may want more depending on how you like it. 

If you're feeling fancy, push the soup through a sieve for extra smoothness. If not, give it a good old stir, season and garnish with a dollop of yoghurt and chopped coriander. 

If you've got leftovers, the soup will keep for a week in the fridge in a (preferably) sterilised container, or freeze it for up to 6 months.