Archive | May, 2011

Lime friand recipe

31 May

I have two sources of inspiration for this recipe. The first is 15 year old Conor McLean who beat me to win Britain’s Best Dish. He made a fantastic vanilla friand dessert and during the process, I realised that I had never made one. The second inspiration is The Flavour Thesaurus by Nikki Segnit. This book gave me the idea for my dessert on Britain’s Best Dish. I love it. Literally weeks before it was released, I was wishing that I could have a book that would tell me what flavours go together. Then, voila, it appeared.

The complete idea for my dessert was lime friand with lemon and ginger sorbet, candied ginger and a tuille biscuit. In reality, making such a dish for two people isn’t really worth it but its an idea that i’ll hold onto for future dinner parties!

I started making the elements of the dessert about a month ago. First was the candied ginger, then the lemon and ginger sorbet. I never got around to making the friand, much to my boyfriends annoyance – he has asked me at least twice a week over the last month where his friand is. I couldn’t make any more excuses so I set to work in the kitchen and I’m so glad to say that it was easier and took less time than expected. It was one of the best things I have baked in a long time!

Unfortunately, I didn’t store the candied ginger in a good enough air tight container so I had to throw it away and I didn’t make the tuille biscuit. But, the friand and sorbet dessert was a delicious end to dinner.

Lime Friand

Lime friand

Ingredients (Makes 6)

2 egg whites
60g butter, melted
65g ground almond
40g icing sugar
20g plain flour
1 tsp lime zest
1 tsp lime juice
6 blanched almonds


Pre heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a small cupcake pan

1. Whisk the egg whites until slightly stiff and foamy
2. Add melted butter and ground almonds
Sift the icing sugar and flour into the bowl, add the lime juice and zest and mix until just combined
3. Pour the mixture into the moulds and place an almond on the top of each cake
4. Bake in the oven for 15 minutes, or until the top has browned. Make sure that a skewer comes out clean when inserted

Small plates – lamb and pearl barley, tomato salad and roasties

30 May

Small plates are all the rage at the moment. Some of my favourite London restaurants are serving them and those restaurants have become extremely popular over the last year. Take Polpo as an example. The small Beak Street Venetian restaurant did so well that owner Russell Norman quickly opened a sister restaurant, Polpetto on Dean Street above the infamous a French House watering hole. This was followed by Spuntino, a scarily cool American diner set in downtown New York in the prohibition era. This week he is also due to open his fourth, no doubt fabulous restaurant in Covent Garden, Da Polpo. I can’t wait.

So my Sunday dinner this week was mostly inspired by a few dishes that I have recently had at Polpo. Roast shoulder of Lamb with pearl barley and pan fried mushrooms, vine ripened and Golden Beauty plum tomatoes with marinated red onion, basil and radish and a simple plate of rosemary roast potatoes.

For some reason, food seems more satisfying when sharing with your fellow diners and I much prefer this to being restricted to one dish.

Serves 2 with left overs.

Lamb with pearl barley, pan fried mushrooms and British tenderheart cabbage

There was something missing with the Lamb dish. I substituted the faro for pearl barley and I think that this may have been the problem. Maybe I could have added a bit more seasoning to the pearl barley but next time, I think I will use puy lentils instead. There is quite a bit left over and I’m going to have a go at making a stew with it – I think that pearl barley is better suited for this!



800g shoulder of lamb joint
5 cloves garlic
2 sprigs rosemary
Sea salt
Black pepper
150g pearl barley
6 mushrooms
3 leaves British tenderheart cabbage
4tbsp rapeseed oil


1. Place the room temperature lamb into a dish and season with salt and pepper. Rub with 2tbsp rapeseed oil and place rosemary sprigs on top.

2. Place in the oven and let roast for 1 hour 10 minutes. The amount of time you roast the lamb for corresponds to how heavy the joint is. Allow 25 minutes for each 500g plus an extra 25 minutes.

3. Rinse the pearl barley well. Place in a pan of cold water and bring to the boil. Let boil for 10 minutes and then reduce to a simmer for 1 hour.

4. 10 minutes before the lamb is ready, fry your mushrooms in 2tbsp rapeseed oil. Season with salt and pepper.

5. 5 minutes into cooking your mushrooms, place the cabbage into a pan of boiling water and boil for 4 minutes.

6. When the cabbage is tender, drain and add to the mushroom pan. Fry for one minute before serving.

Vine ripened tomato salad

This salad is utterly delicious – my local supermarket only had two varieties of tomatoes but I would recommend using as many different varieties that you can get your hands on. The raw red onion and radishes give the salad a welcome crunch, while the red wine vinegar provides a fantastic taste.


3 large vine ripened tomatoes
6 Golden Beauty plum tomatoes, halved
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 red onion
Sea Salt
Black pepper
2 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 radishes
Handful of torn basil


1. Chop all tomatoes and place in a large salad bowl.

2. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and add black pepper.

3. Chop radishes finely and add.

4. Chop red onion finely and marinate in red wine vinegar for 20 minutes. Add to the salad, along with the torn basil just before serving.

Roast potatoes with rosemary

Despite this being a pretty standard dish, it is delicious and one of my favourites. My potatoes may look a little pale but they were crispy and oily, just how I like them!



3 large potatoes
5 garlic cloves
Sea salt
Black pepper
3 tbsp rapeseed oil


1. Peel and chop potatoes. Place in pan of boiling water and boil for 15 minutes (or until they have just started to go soft)

2. Drain and shake in the pan. Place in a roasting dish and season with salt and pepper.

3. Drizzle over the rapeseed oil and place rosemary on top.

4. Roast in the oven for 45 minutes – 1 hour, or until crispy.

Serve on small plates and enjoy your feast!

Sin free granola recipe

26 May

A pot of fat free apple and mango yoghurt landed on my doormat last week. I wasn’t particularly sure that I was going to like the flavour combination but it gave me an excuse to buy some luscious blueberries and make some healthy granola.

I love quick and easy recipes and this definitely falls into that category. Simply mix all of the ingredients in a big bowl and then bake in the oven.

A bowl of this granola makes for a very healthy breakfast. The sugar is substituted for maple syrup and honey, and, because there is no butter, it’s vegan too.


150g whole rolled oats
80ml maple syrup
1 tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp sesame seeds
25g sunflower seeds
25g pumpkin seeds
60ml vegetable oil


Pre heat the oven to 160 degrees c

1. Mix all ingredients in a large bowl until well combined
2. Place on a lined baking tray and bake for 25 – 30 minutes, tossing it every 10 minutes to prevent the edges from burning
3. To enjoy as a delicious healthy breakfast, layer the granola in a bowl or small glass with blueberries and fat free apple and mango yogurt (I used Onken)


Baked eggs with ibérico ham and parmesan

24 May

Most of you will know that we got three beautiful hens a few weeks ago. Only one of them is laying so far and the eggs have been quite sporadic, until recently when we’ve been getting one every day.

Although we currently have 5 Bantam eggs sitting in our egg rack, I have to admit that the eggs in this recipe aren’t from our hens, they are from my boyfriends parents hens down in Chichester. We had some ibérico ham in the fridge that needed eating so I made a delicious dish of baked eggs with ibérico ham and parmesan for dinner.

This dish is exceptionally easy and fast – it only takes about 15 minutes from start to finish, if that! Serve with a couple of slices of bread drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt.


2 large cloves garlic
6 slices of ibérico ham (or enough to cover the pan that you want to use)
4 large free range eggs
sprinkle of curly leaf parsley – about 4 tsp
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper to season
a grating of parmesan cheese


Pre heat the grill to the highest setting

1. Heat the oil in a pan. Add the garlic and fry for one minute. Season with salt and pepper
2. Add the ibérico ham and fry for one minute
3. Make a space for each of the eggs and crack in. Fry for a further minute or until they start to go white
4. Grate over the parmesan and then place the pan under the grill for 2-3 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked
5. Take out of the oven, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy with your delicious bread

Riverford Oraganic Farm trip

20 May

Veg boxes delivered to your door. Some people love them, others think they’re a bit of a waste of money. I’m going on various conversations that I’ve had with people over the last couple of years. Yes – that’s how long I’ve been ‘thinking’ about getting one but I hadn’t managed to get around to it. Until now. Until I took a visit to Riverford Organic Farm in Devon.

I was invited on a press trip along with a group of bloggers and journalists. The email landed in my inbox entitled ’24 hours of wild garlic’ and before I even opened the email, I knew that whatever greatness lay inside the body of the email was going to appeal to me. And it sure did. The email was aptly titled, we were to leave London at 7pm on Friday evening and return at 8pm on Saturday evening. OK, so maybe we were away for 25 hours but I’ll blame that on the delayed train.

The lovely ladies at Story PR provided us with an astounding train ‘packed dinner’. It was so good that an unknown walked past and congratulated us on the marvelous pack up that we had in front of us. A humongous Scrimshaw’s pork pie was accompanied by a wedge of Manchego cheese from John Lewis food hall, vine ripened cherry tomatoes, a bread roll and a small jar of port jelly. All washed down with Sipsmith Gin and tonic, followed by Sipsmith Vodka and tonic. Wowsers. No wonder the 3 hour journey down to Devon flew past.

We arrived at the B&B, which was a very comfortable grade 2 listed 14th century former Wool Mill. We retreated to the living room for a couple more drinks and topped the night off with La Fée absinthe. Each one of us ambled up the stairs and crashed out before rising for an early full English breakfast to cure the mild hangover. The taxi picked us up at 9.45am and we were off to the farm.

We were greeted by Guy Watson, founder and farmer extraordinaire, his sister Rachel and Ed the farm manager. We dropped our bags off in the Field Kitchen and hopped into two deliciously red but old as your grandmother vans. One of my fellow companions, Douglas Blyde even got to drive after joking about it at the breakfast table. His wish certainly came true. We crashed, banged and walloped down the country lanes. First stop was the broad beans.

These deliciously sweet beans will be, we were told, ready for picking in a couple of weeks – lucky customers who get these babies in their box! Never before had I ever considered eating the whole shoot but I popped one in my mouth, chewed and marveled at how tender they were. I overheard someone saying that you can make a lovely stock out of broad beans to make a delicious bechamel. That’s new to me and sounds like something I need to try.

Having finished picking and demolishing broad beans, we hopped back into the muddy van (which I was starting to be ever so fond of) and drove to the asparagus field, which Guy described as ‘dreadful’. I hadn’t really seen a vast asparagus field before and was surprised to see long, curly, out of control asparagus plants. We did, however, manage to find some small stalks to pick and eat raw. I never realised that asparagus could be so sweet. The problem seemed to be the slug damage, creeping thistle and buttercup choking weed and I understand that they have pretty much given up with it this season.

A few sweet asparagus sticks later and it was onto the next stop, the wet garlic field. It was vast and a nice surprise as I’d never seen wet garlic before. Guy pulled one up out of the ground and cut the end off to show us and let us smell. I adore garlic and it smelt so good. We picked some ourselves and the satisfaction of pulling them out of the ground was immense. We put what we gathered in a plastic bag to take back home with us and drove to the next stop. The vans didn’t make it up the hill so we had to walk. Now, it’s not everyday that a man on crutches sporting a large leg brace can beat you walking up a hill but this was exactly what Guy managed to do. A very stylish friend of Guy’s stood waiting for us at the top of the hill right next to a make shift stove that had been set up for our visit.

After picking a few wild garlic leaves of our own in the beautiful woodland, we were treated to a rather special fritatta, cooked by Guy’s friend using dried, wet and wild garlic. We (or I did anyway) oohed and aaahhed at the aromas of the three types of garlic sizzling away and when it was ready we were all treated to a slice of the creamy, cheesy, garlicy fritatta and it has completely left a lasting memory. I have never tasted a fritatta so GOOD! The location helped a bit too. The view over to the other veg fields was fantastic.

After a final stop at the polytunnels, which were built when Riverford started the veg box scheme, we piled into the vans one last time to head back to the Field Kitchen. Ah, the Field Kitchen, the part that I was most looking forward to. After reading that Giles Coren had pronounced his lunch there are the ‘lunch of his life’, anticipation was high.

The concept of the restaurant is simple. Delicious home cooked food, using vegetables grown in the fields, of course with added meat and fish to share around a large communal table. This is a concept that I’m sure some people have found it hard to grasp, but one that I love. Food is for sharing and bringing people together. What better way than enjoying a delicious (and boy was it delicious) lunch whilst getting to know the person next to you.

The chef, Jane Baxter has been working in the Riverford kitchen since it opened and was previously at River Cafe.

Out came the food. My mouth is watering just now thinking about the food that we ate (and no, that’s nothing to do with the fact that I’m starving and just about to eat dinner). My eyes lit up when I read the blackboard at the side of the room to see what we would be eating. Roast and confit duck with turnips, new potatoes cooked in a bag with wet garlic and thyme, roast asparagus, rocket, pistachio and orange salad, spinach gratin, spring onions with red pepper dressing and broad beans, lentils and spring onions. The portions are large too so there is NO worry of missing out due to sharing with diners around you.

The duck was so tender, so flavour packed and the turnip was astoundingly soft whilst being crunchy at the same time. An absolute winner.

The new potatoes were heavenly, moist, buttery, rich and tender. Cooking in a bag isn’t something I’ve tried before but again, something I’d like to do.

The asparagus salad was also a treat. Stems of chargrilled tender asparagus, crunchy radish and edible flowers didn’t just look fantastic on the plate, the flavours all married so well together.

The spinach gratin was to die for. Utterly creamy, rich and let’s face it, very bad for you.

The spring onions with a red pepper dressing didn’t stand out for me as much BUT that is because, unlinke some people, I don’t go mad for red pepper.

The broad bean dish was a star. Any salad with lentils in it is welcome on my plate!

I read the menu before we started eating and it warned me to save room for pudding. So I did, just. I had no idea that what I was about to eat would nearly reduce me to tears – in a good way of course.

The dessert range was incredible, despite us being the last table to go up and choose. Every service, a range of desserts are made and if they run out, they run out. So it’s probably best to get up there quick. On display was a rhubarb crumble, sticky toffee pudding, custard tart, baked chocolate mousse cake, rhubarb and cinnamon sponge and pavlova, plus a couple of others. The decision was hard. Very hard. But in the end the sticky toffee pudding won out. And I can’t tell you how glad I am that it did. Teamed with a vanilla packed custard, the sponge was light and airy, whilsy being rich at the same time. The sticky toffee sauce the perfect sweet and gooey consistency. I was in pudding heaven. Absolute pudding heaven.

We were treated to the new ‘Everyday and Sunday recipes’ cookbook before we left and I had a quick flick through to see if the sticky toffee pudding recipe was in it. I almost choked when I saw that it was. The best news. Also in the book was the garlic fritatta, which I made the day after I got back. Unfortunately my attempt wasn’t quite as good but I’m determined to get it right and practice makes perfect.

This short but utterly sweet trip has definitely inspired me to place that all important first order for my very own seasonal veg box. It’s arriving next Wednesday and I can’t wait.

Food For Think was a guest at Riverford Organic Farm and The Field Kitchen. Fellow guests included Qin, Douglas, Joshua, Dan and Elly

Mooli’s summer menu

16 May

Mooli’s opened nearly two years ago on Frith Street in Soho, one of London’s busiest restaurant areas. Born out of a passion and a pining for good Indian street food, founders Sam and Mathew traveled around India for months for recipe inspiration.

I live in an area with a large Indian community and while fantastic authentic food is plentiful at cheap restaurants nearby, I have noticed that these are somewhat lacking in Central London. The only other good value (and by this I mean cheap) Indian restaurant (apart from Mooli’s) that I could recommend is Dishoom, who, by the way, has a pop up restaurant on the Southbank this summer.

However, Mooli’s isn’t your typical curry house. They serve a range of Indian wraps, which they call Mooli’s. Also on the menu are a fantastic range of side dishes, plus delicious lassi. They even have an alcohol license so you can enjoy a nice cold bottle of beer or a crisp glass of wine with your dinner, or lunch if you like that kind of thing. All food is freshly made on site – even the bread in a machine that they call their ‘Moolita’, which is basically a roti making machine. It is fired up every morning to create fresh, delicious roti breads that do not contain any nasties.

I have dined at Mooli’s many times and recommended it to many friends but last week I was invited to try their new menu, which was created to reflect the recent spate of sunshine that we have been having and celebrate the warm (hopefully) months ahead.

It’s a good job that I turned up hungry. I was greeted by Mathew who told me that he wanted me to try everything. So I sat down on my own and was stared at by the lunch customers behind me queuing to get their lunch time fix. On my tray was a mini pork Mooli (this is not new but is my favourite so Mathew threw one into the mix), a new chicken Mooli, a superfood salad, cool cucumber Raita, a superfood salad and a rose and cinnamon lassi.

The new chicken Mooli was delicious. The chicken is cooked with herby and aromatic fenugreek leaves and lentils. I particularly enjoted the crunchy pickled turnips. All of this is joined by a tangy and cooling yoghurt raita. This is replacement for the old chicken Mooli and although I never tried to old one, I’m hoping this one is around to stay.

I was also lucky enough to get a portion of the aloo papdi chaat, which isn’t usually available until after 3pm. I love potato curries so this dish went down very well, even more so because it contained chick peas. This is a slight change from their old potato and chick pea side and is topped off with crisp papdi and ruby red pomegranate seeds.

Also on the side was the cooling cucumber raita. Now, I don’t think that any of Mooli’s dishes are too spicy so I didn’t exactly NEED the raita. But want and need are two different things and I definitely wanted it. Cucumber is one of my favourite foods (I have taken a stick and peeled it with a knife in my hand to eat it as a snack for as long as I can remember) and teamed with yoghurt makes for a cooling, refreshing side dish.

The rose and cinnamon lassi was utterly delicious. Unfortunately, I just couldn’t finish it off due to the amount of food on my tray. I am not one to EVER leave food on my plate so was disappointed when I took my last mouthful – the food had defeated me.

I love this place. It has great food at fantastic prices, a good array of music blares out and every customer looks as though they are thoroughly enjoying what they are putting in their mouths.

50 Frith Street

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Easy wholemeal seed and nut loaf

12 May

This recipe is adapted from a fantastic Delia Smith recipe. It is incredibly easy and tastes delicious warm from the oven, smothered with salted butter.

I made this to accompany a fantastic BBQ that we had over the ferociously hot Easter weekend.


285g wholemeal flour, plus a little extra for the top of the bread
1 tsp salt
1 tsp light muscovado sugar
1tsp easy bake yeast (this is half of an easy bake yeast sachet)
200ml tepid water
100g mixed nuts and seeds (save some to sprinkle on the top)

Pre-heat the oven to it’s lowest setting

1. Warm the flour in the oven for about 10 minutes, then turn the oven off.

2. Put the warm flour into a large mixing bowl and sprinkle the salt, sugar and yeast over the top. Mix thoroughly.

3. Make a well in the center and pour in the tepid water. Take a wooden spoon and mix the water into the flour gradually to form a dough.

4. Mix with your hands until you have a smooth dough that leaves the bowl clean – there should be no bits of flour or dough remaining on the sides of the bowl.

5. Transfer the dough to a flat surface and stretch it out into a square. Scatter the nut and seed mixture over the top and fold the corners of the bread in so that the nuts and seeds are covered. You may need to fold it a few times.

6. Place the dough into a large bowl, sprinkle with flour and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 30-40 minutes.

7. Pre heat the oven to 200degrees and when the dough has risen, place on a baking tray and sprinkle with nut and seen mixture. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes. You can tell if the bread is cooked by tapping it on the bottom – there will be a hollow sound.

8. Leave the bread to cool on a wire rack and enjoy with a big slather of butter or a glug of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar!


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