St-Émilion au Chocolat

January 5th, 2014

choc pot 4

I do not have a very sweet tooth. When it comes to puddings, all I want is a few mouthfuls to round off a meal. A delightful morsel will suffice, such as the Earl Grey Ganache with Caraway Biscuit that ended (unsurprisingly) a superb lunch at Dinner recently. As with most things, simple is best, which is why this easy, five-ingredient dessert made it onto the menu of my most recent Supper Club.

Traditionally, St-Emilion au Chocolat is served on a base of crushed amoretti biscuits doused in brandy, but as all I really wanted was a more decadent and less fluffy version of a chocolate mousse, I skipped this part. That’s not to say that the recipe is any less indulgent, an espresso cup is plenty but a larger ramekin to ‘share’ is also a possibility.

I added an apple eau-de-vie soaked cherry and a sprig of thyme to get a balanced aromatic kick but equally, a tablespoon or so of rum in the mix would work well too, it is nice to have something to compete with the richness.

Perhaps subconsciously influenced by Nigella’s ordeals, this is my tribute to naughtiness and a two-fingers up at any media guff about being healthier this month.

choc pot 1




serves about 8


100g unsalted butter, softened

100g golden caster sugar

1 egg yolk

200g 70% dark chocolate, broken into small bits

100ml whole milk


  1. Beat the butter and sugar with an electric whisk, or if you’re planning on justifying this recipe with a bit of arm work, use a wooden spoon. I go for the former.
  2. Beat until very pale and fluffy (a good three minutes)
  3. Add the egg yolk and whisk a little more.
  4. Put this mix to one side, and gently heat the milk in a small pan.
  5. As soon as you see a wisp of steam, take off the heat and making sure it’s not too hot, add the chocolate.
  6. Stir gently to dissolve the chocolate and when silky smooth, add to the butter mix.
  7. It’s important to do this quickly whilst the milk is still warm so that the butter gets thoroughly mixed in and you’re not left with creamy lumps in your mix.
  8. Split between the cups. I think it makes about 8 but it’s difficult to remember how much successfully made it to the fridge…
  9. You might need to give them a wipe with some kitchen towel to neaten them up, this my least favourite part.
  10. Garnish, cover with cling and chill in the fridge overnight (or at least a couple of hours if you want a less solid dessert).
  11. Serve at the dinner table or in bed.

 choc pot 3

Sweet Squash Curry

November 7th, 2013

squash 3

Inspired by a recent trip to Dishoom (24 hour daal to die for) I thought it was about time I shared my favourite curry recipe. The list of ingredients is a little long, but it’s worth it. Here is where it came from…


Every week I head down to The Russet in Hackney to pick up my sack of organic vegetables from Growing Communities. I wax lyrical about it to my friends and colleagues about how environmentally friendly I am, how conscientious I am, indeed, how ethical I am. I have become one of those people and I irritate myself.


The only way I know how to make up for it, is by cooking for people where hopefully they are too busy eating to listen to what I am saying.


I love getting a different variety each week (the tomatoes were glorious) and especially now the fruits of harvest-time are being reaped by the bucket load, there is always something new to try.


Squash and pumpkins come in all sorts of varieties. We’re used to our hourglass Butternut and Halloween carvers but what about the lesser known Kabocha or Turban squash. A few weeks ago, I was faced with a Delicata and Buttercup squash to deal with. I decided to make a sweet and gentle curry to transport me to an Indian Summer, away from drizzly Dalston.


I made this recipe because I get upset by recipes such as this one, which just calls for a couple of spoons of curry paste. My recipe is accidentally vegan and doesn’t take as long as a normal curry because you don’t have to wait for the meat to become tender. As with all curries, it is best eaten the day after it is made.

squash 1




Serves at least four people


Spice mix

1 heaped tspn mustard seed

1 heaped tspn coriander seed

1 tspn cumin seed

1 tspn black peppercorns

1 tspn hot chilli powder

1 tspn cinnamon

½ tspn ground nutmeg

½ tspn ground ginger

1 heaped tspn turmeric

5 large cardamom pods, seeds only, crushed

2 large star anise

1 heaped tspn sea salt


100ml ground nut oil

1 large white onion

5 large garlic cloves

1 large thumb ginger

½ red chilli

zest and juice of 2 limes

1 400g can of good chopped tomatoes

75g of creamed coconut

2 large cooking apples

5 tbspn of red lentils

¼ Buttercup squash

½ Delicata Squash

1 tbspn aubergine pickle

Lots of fresh coriander

squash 2


-       As with a lot of Asian recipes, it’s best to get all the ingredients prepared before the cooking begins. Start with the spice mix.

-       Dry fry the peppercorns, mustard, cumin and coriander seed. When they start hopping about the pan and smell fragrant, take off the heat and either grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder, depending on how fancy you are.

-       Add the chilli powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground ginger, turmeric, and seeds from the cardomom pods and give an extra blast so you have a mind-blowing mix.

-       Roughly chop the onion

-       Mince the garlic

-       Grate the ginger

-       Finely chop the chilli

-       Zest and juice the limes

-       Make the creamed coconut into coconut milk by adding enough boiling water to it so you have a little over a pint and stir well.

-       Peel and chop the apples but keep them in cold water to stop them going brown from oxidisation.

-       Peel and chop the squash into a bit larger than bite-size pieces.

-       Now it’s time.

-       Heat the oil in the largest pan you have.

-       Test to see if it’s hot enough by getting a little water on your fingers and flick into the oil. If it even hints at sizzling, the oil is hot enough.

-       Add the onions and turn the heat down. Sweat them for a good ten minutes and don’t be tempted to skimp on this bit.

-       Turn the heat up a touch and add the garlic, ginger, chilli and lime zest.

-       Stir for one minute.

-       Add your spices and fry for about three minutes.

-       Add the squash, star anise and salt.

-       Give everything a good stir.

-       When sizzling nicely, add the lentils. They make it thick and silky smooth.

-       Stir again and add the tomatoes, coconut milk and aubergine pickle.

-       Bring to a simmer and put the lid on the pan.

-       Check every ten minutes or so to make sure the curry isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pan.

-       After twenty minutes, add the apple chunks.

-       Cook for another fifteen minutes or so, or until the squash is tender to your liking.

-       If eating immediately, serve with some rice or bulgur wheat.

-       Either way, add the lime juice and fresh coriander moments before eating.

-       Sit back and enjoy this gentle, yet filling autumn warmer.







Fennel Coleslaw

May 15th, 2013



I remember reading once that the recommended daily allowance of fibre is 18g.


18g. No more. No less.


Nowadays, the Food and Drink Federation are a little more lax and a range is offered: 18-30g. Despite the 12g scope for variation, we are still expected to eat what can only be considered as, a lot of bran flakes.


Having left the classroom behind, I tend to be less concerned with numbers but the principle of a hearty, nutritious diet has stuck with me. A friend and I invented this coleslaw over a Scandinavian inspired lunch and were very pleased with the results. Heaped on top of rye bread and oily fish this is a very tasty smørrebrød.

fennel 1

Fennel Coleslaw


Serves 3 (or 2 greedy people)


1 head of fennel

1 big carrot

5 little gherkins

1 tbspn capers

½ small clove garlic

1 tbspn sunflower seeds

½ tbspn sesame seeds

½ tbspn golden linseed

¼ tspn fennel seed

1 splosh of extra virgin olive oil

1 splosh of rice wine vinegar

½ tsp light brown sugar

lots of sea salt and cracked black pepper


-       Start by grating the carrots.

-       Then grate the fennel, releasing the wonderful aniseed aroma.

-       Put the grated vegetables into a large bowl.

-       Finely chop the gherkins, capers and garlic. Add these to the bowl.

-       Gently toast your fennel seed and grind them in a pestle and mortar.

-       Add to the mix along with the other seeds.

-       Add the remaining ingredients and stir gently but thoroughly.

-       Wait 10 minutes before serving to give the flavours a chance to meddle.

-       Use this time to lay the table with pieces of toasted rye bread and mashed mackerel.

-       Gobble

fennel 2






Broadway Market and London Fields

April 25th, 2013



These past few Saturdays have had a bit of a pattern to them. I’ve found myself dropping off the supply of my stews and soups for the weekend at London Fields Brewery, then proceeding to mindlessly dribble over the delicious fare at Broadway market. After a good Climpson’s to inject some pep, it’s on to the monster task of lunch. I think Hannah and I made some pretty good selections, so here are my recommendations:

  • Roasted Onion Rye Bread from Degustibus
  • Harissa Olives from Borough Olives
  • Little yellow and red tomatoes from The Tomato Stall 
  • Lovely ripe brie, but I’m not sure where from and ditto for the
  • Red Pepper and Goat’s Cheese Tart

I can’t wait to see what’s on offer this week.

Chocolate Porridge and more

April 1st, 2013



I’ve recently gone dairy-free which, over Easter, has been a bit of a struggle. A struggle that I have not always survived (read: damn you Creme Eggs!) but before I was bombarded with such outrageous temptations, I was actually quite enjoying the lactose-free life. Here is a simple breakfast recipe that is great for this bastard cold:

 Ingredients – serves 1

45g porridge oats

250ml almond milk

¾ tspn good cocoa

1 tspn brown sugar


1 small banana


1 tsp honey


  • Place oats and almond milk in a pan on medium heat.
  • Stir occasionally and as the milk starts to steam, stir in the cocoa, sugar and a pinch of salt.
  • Reduce the heat and stir gently for five minutes, until the porridge is good and gloopy.
  • Serve in a bowl and choose your toppings, I enjoyed banana, cinnamon and honey but you may prefer some red berries, sunflower or pumpkin seeds or peanut butter, if the dairy-free thing is freaking you out.

porridge 1


In other news, I’ve been cooking for the lovely lot at London Fields Brewery Tap Room again. This week’s menu was


-       Spanish style Guinea Fowl and Chorizo Stew

-       Ratatouille

-       Spring Pea and Mint Soup


It meant not cooking one bird…



Not three birds…



But a LOT of birds…



Never seen so many birds. Except for when I went to Flamingoland, but I was about six then so can’t really remember it.

Let’s see what next week has in store.


Fennel and Yellow Pepper Risotto

March 26th, 2013

fennel risotto

This is a recipe inspired by the Dean and De Luca Cookbook which I bought after a trip to New York last November, sorry, Fall. The cookbook is my new Bible. Rosengarten’s recipes are so detailed and thorough, you automatically feel safe in his big warm hands.

I’m still quite a risotto novice; so I may be over explaining some of the finer points of risotto-making, please bear with me. I have learnt much along the way; for example, the general rule that ‘more wine makes everything better’ does not apply here. It’s a case of balancing, play with the flavours: the sweet pepper, sharp lemon and fragrant herbs. It is time consuming but it’s worth the wait, for this beautifully light Spring-time (pahahahaha, what Spring?) risotto.

 Ingredients – serves 4

Good olive oil

3 yellow peppers

1 litre chicken stock (roughly)

Lots of fresh mint

Lots of fresh parsley

1 sprig fresh rosemary

¾ tspn ground coriander

1 large white onion, finely chopped

3 large cloves garlic, crushed

1 large fennel bulb

250g Superfino rice such as Arborio

150ml dry white wine

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of 1 lemon

Hunk of unsalted butter

Freshly grated Parmesan

Freshly ground salt and black pepper


-       Chop the peppers into thumb-sized pieces and place them in a saucepan. Just about cover with some of the stock, put a lid on the pan and cook on a low heat until the peppers are really soft, about 20 mins.

-       Meanwhile, put the rest of the stock in a pan and bring to a low simmer with half quantities of the fresh herbs: mint, parsley and rosemary.

-       Heat the oil and half the butter in a heavy bottomed pan, Le Creuset’s are perfect for this, and gently, I mean really gently, sweat the onion for a good 15 mins on a low heat.

-       Put the oven on to 190°C.

-       While the onion is doing its thing, puree and season the peppers really well, add a bit of butter if you like. Put to one side.

-       Stir in the garlic, rice and coriander to the onion and keep stirring for a couple of minutes until everything is glossy and smelling amazing.

-       Add the wine and lemon zest. Stir gently until it is all soaked up and the alcohol has boiled off.

-       Remove the herbs from the stock infusion and add to the rice, bit by bit. Very important. I repeat, bit by bit, splosh by splosh just, for heaven’s sake, don’t add it all at once as the flavoursome liquid is supposed to quietly permeate each grain of rice before it really knows what’s going on.

-       As this stock/stir ritual carries on, put the fennel (tops removed, thinly sliced, oiled and seasoned) into the oven.

-       After 20 mins, the rice should have absorbed all the stock and so all is left to do is stir into the risotto: the pepper puree, the rest of the fresh herbs (finely chopped) and butter, a few tablespoons of finely grated Parmesan, lemon juice and probably some more seasoning. But of course, taste first.

-       Serve in warm bowls, topped with the crispy roasted fennel and more Parmesan. Lovely.

The Simple Things

March 17th, 2013

malt rye



I’m a simple gal. I like simple things. Like bread. Sometimes there is nothing better than sitting down on a Saturday morning,  with good juice, good jam and good bread. The one pictured above is a Malt Rye, chocolate in colour, almost cakey in texture with subtle caraway running all the way through. Beautiful.

I bought this loaf at Broadway Market in Hackney after popping in to see the guys at London Fields Brewery. This weekend I provided the food for the Tap Room attached to the brewery, there might be some left so if you’re at a loose end today, waddle down. The menu is as follows:

Thick Carrot, Orange and Ginger Soup

Seasonal Root Vegetable Stew

Rich Venison Bourguignon with Crushed, Mustard Potatoes

I’ll be doing this for the next five weeks, so feel free to pop down and grab yourself a brew and a stew any weekend until the end of April.

Thanks Janice

February 10th, 2013

It was my birthday last week and I really love birthdays. I mean, really. A lot of people seem apprehensive about making a big fuss about their birth, but it’s not really about that. It’s about having a good excuse to get the best people in one place and do some really great, or in hindsight not so great, dancing. Birthdays also mean presents, and in my goodie bag from my best friend were two foil wrapped gems. Two perfectly ripe avocados. I’m not sure her mother knew how much these would be appreciated. But they were.




Baby Plum Tomatoes

Fresh Coriander



Smush the avo on the toast and arrange as depicted. Eat in bed with a TV show such as Arrested Development or Girls. Follow up with some strong black coffee and an attempt at productivity.


January 25th, 2013

Ok, so, 2012 was a really good year for me. In fact, I would go so far to say, it was my best year yet. There weren’t high expectations for it, but it surpassed any I had. For years I had been convinced that my peak at nine years old was it (you can’t blame me, being Jesus and doing the coming back from the dead thing was pretty cool) but, my problem is I think I have peaked again, and all of the insecurities of my ten year-old self have returned as I head in to what could potentially be a very mediocre year.

I already wish I hadn’t been so productive in 2012 for now the precedent has been set so high for 2013 that I cannot possibly match it. Don’t ask me how, when or why but I came to the conclusion that in order to get 2013 in with a chance of comparing with 2012 I should do something challenging. Something I would never think to do. Something outrageous and stimulating… I should become a vegan. For January. And I should call it Veganuary. Pronounced Vaganuary, much to the disgust and amusement of various house-mates and friends.

As I enter the last week of this experiment, I have been reflecting on what kind of a month it has been, edibly speaking. Being vegan has taught me to search harder for good recipes, to be more inventive and really think about why we choose to eat what we do. I have come to the conclusion that ethical eating can only be local and local eating is actually quite hard. Even when shopping at local markets, the food hasn’t always come from round the corner. But I have not been deterred and have indeed had many an enjoyable meal both in and out.

I came across this blog, which has some great ideas, and provided the inspiration for the recipe below.


Serves 4


1 butternut squash

1 large red onion

1 large white onion

6 medium cloves garlic

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

lots of fresh lemon thyme

4 fresh sage leaves

1 lemon

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Freshly ground salt and pepper

250g couscous

50g walnut pieces

30g Sunflower seeds

4 stems of celery


2 tspn wholegrain mustard

2 tbspn white-wine vinegar

3 tbspn extra virgin olive oil

Freshly ground salt

2 tspn maple syrup

Good splosh Vegan Ale such as Bateman’s XXXB


-Heat the oven to 220°C.

- Peel and slice the squash and arrange on the baking tray.

-Peel and quarter the onions and add those.

- Smash the garlic cloves and add those but don’t bother peeling them.

-Quarter the lemon, squeeze the juice over everything and pop the quarters in too.

-Bruise the herbs and add them.

-Season very well, add 2 tablespoons of Extra Virgin and give everything a good toss. With your hands. Get in there.

- When the oven is at temperature put the tray in the middle of the oven for around 45 minutes, taking out and mixing about half way through (but not with your hands this time).

- In the mean time, in a large dish, spread out your couscous.

- Boil some freshly drawn water in the kettle and pour over the couscous until it is only just covered. In a shallow dish, the couscous doesn’t need to be drowned and it is much easier to solve crunchy couscous than it is soggy. So don’t be too generous.

- In a small frying pan toast your walnut pieces and pumpkin seeds together until bits start to hop out of the pan and into the flames. Reassure present guests the smell of burning isn’t what they are soon to be eating.

- When toasted, put to one side.

- Finely chop the celery and put in a small bowl.

- To make the dressing, make a simple vinaigrette to taste with the mustard, vinegar, oil and salt. Then add the maple syrup and ale a little at a time, tasting as you go. Remember, the squash and onions are quite sweet already and so the syrup isn’t supposed to stand out too much, it really is an undertone.

- When the squash is cooked, take out of the oven and mix with two-thirds of the dressing.

- Then test the couscous to make sure it is tender enough and if not, add a touch more water and wait for it to be absorbed. When happy with the couscous, add the squash to it along with the walnut pieces, pumpkin seeds and celery.

-Add the rest of the dressing and gently toss everything together.

-Drink with the rest of the beer that hasn’t gone in the dressing and cheers to Veganuary (it probably won’t catch on).

Ham Hock Terrine

November 29th, 2012


Everyone loves a good terrine, right? That’s what I thought. That’s why I put this scrumptious little number as part of the starter for my supper club back in October. I put the terrine in an espresso cup, served it with some squash, orange and ginger soup and mini Yorkshire puddings and that was it- Bob’s your Uncle and a thank-you very much. The terrine is a bit of a faff, so save it for something special, but it definitely stays within the £20 a week budget, as ham hock is the knuckle of the pig, so it’s one of the cheapest bits you can buy. 2kg shouldn’t cost more than a fiver from a good butcher.

A terrine is really just a coarse pâté so you don’t have to be too neat or exact with the measurements, but I would say go easy on the star anise. I’m a big fan and so was a bit heavy handed and it did taste a little too perfumed for my liking, but each to their own. Also, don’t be freaked out by using gelatine, it’s way easier than you think and there’s quite a lot of natural gelatine from the hock anyway.

I adapted this recipe from the BBC website, it makes a loaf tin sized amount.



2 largish Ham hocks weighing between 1.5-2kg together, smoked if you desire

3 small onions

2 large carrots

2 sticks of celery inc. leaves (be careful, over celerying is easy because you’re reluctant to put it in anything else, don’t be tempted to use more, I just fill the other sticks with peanut butter and feed to house-mates)

500ml dry cider, such as Henney’s

1 tspn Bouillon powder

2 large bay leaves (or 3 smaller ones)

2 star anise

10 black peppercorns

3 cloves

¼ tspn sea salt

Good handful fresh thyme

1 ½ tbspn wholegrain mustard

Lots of flat leaf parsley roughly chopped

Capers, to serve (optional)


  • Put your hocks in one of the largest pans you can find and add all the other ingredients with the exception of the mustard and the parsley. Feel free to vary the quantities based on your personal preference, but these are reliable guidelines.
  • Poke everything a bit so it’s nice and snug and top up with boiling water so everything is covered.
  • Put a lid on the pan, turn up the heat so it’s boiling and bubbling and you’re salivating from the smell.
  • Then turn down the heat, keeping the lid on, and leave for 2 ½ hours. This is really important.
  • Keep an eye on it and maybe poke a bit more every so often, to make sure everything is in order.
  • When the time is up, fish out the hocks and put to one side to cool down. Then strain the rest of this amazing stock, putting the liquid back in the pan and you can do what you like with the veg (I roasted them a bit and served them as an accompaniment to a Sunday Roast, after getting rid of the whole spices)
  • Now get down and dirty. Not like that! Please. I meant strip the hocks and separate the sinew and fat from the salty, flaky meaty bits.
  •  Put what’s edible in a big bowl, add the mustard and parsley and stir to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
  • Reduce the stock and soak 4 leaves of gelatine in cold water.
  • Whilst this is happening, line a loaf tine with cling film, leaving excess round the edges so that you can fold it over the top easily.
  • Put the hammustardparsley mix in the tin and compact lightly.
  • Measure out around 400ml of stock in a jug, squeeze excess water from the gelatine leaves and dissolve them in the stock by stirring until all remnants are gone.
  • Pour into the loaf tin, but you probably won’t need all of it, just pour in enough so it is level with the meat but not covering completely.
  • Fold the cling film over and refrigerate for about eight hours or overnight.
  • This is great on stale toast with even more mustard and crisp glass of white.