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.