Archive for the ‘Lunch’ Category

Fennel Coleslaw

Wednesday, 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






Ham Hock Terrine

Thursday, 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.


Another Salad

Friday, July 6th, 2012

So many of the meals I make are essentially salads and after reading Alice Waters’ A Delicious Cooking Revolution I can’t imagine this is going to stop any time soon. Ms Waters’ writes a whole chapter on salad and dressing and this is just the beginning. It’s the attention to detail that makes her writing so enrapturing and this translates to her recipes as well. Making a salad is not just a case of throwing everything together, no matter what Jamie might tell you. A good salad has so many variants: season, ingredients and just personal opinion but here’s what I think is a quick and easy summer lunch option: butter bean and anchovy salad.



Half a can butter beans

About 7 baby plum tomatoes

A small carrot

A handful of pumpkin seeds

3-4 anchovy fillets


1 desertspn extra virgin olive oil

¾ desertspn red wine vinegar

½ tspn dijon mustard

¼ tspn caster sugar

¼ tspn dried oregano

Freshly ground salt and pepper

Alliterative Quiches

Friday, May 25th, 2012

So this is just a quick post before I head to bed at the end of another busy day but, first, there are a couple of things I want to update you guys on:

1. Next week sees the Accidental Festival return to the Camden Roundhouse for its seventh year and on Sunday 3rd June there will be an excerpt from a play I’m directing, which is very exciting! It would be great to see some friendly faces, you can buy your tickets here.

2. Last weekend I had a great time cheffing with the Wild Food guys. Their supper club was so successful they’re back for more tomorrow night so get in touch if you fancy an evening of foraged food and some great entertainment!

3. I’ve just started a job at Mark Hix’s new restaurant, it’s mainly chicken and steak but my favourite dish is the cauliflower puree with Berkswell cheese, celery leaves and hazelnuts, mmmmm.

On with the good stuff! So, my actors pointed out that if my quiche was to be truly alliterative it would have to be filled with ingredients such as quail and quinoa, which, believe it or not, were not items I had lying around. However, I did have some beautiful organic chard, which I bought from London Fields’ School Market, and some salty mature cheddar to make: Eve’s Cheddar and Chard Quiche.

Every decade seems to have a food. According to this rule, quiche belongs in the Seventies when cholesterol-high French foods were all the rage and England was basking in an Elizabeth David inspired culinary glow. Then, the amazing Nora Ephron pointed out that ‘Pesto is the quiche of the eighties’ but I’m slightly stumped when it comes to pinning down a defining food of the nineties…or the noughties come to that. Thoughts?

Enough babble, here is the recipe.

Cheddar and Chard Quiche

100g plain flour

55g butter

2-3 tablespoons COLD water

a big bunch of chard

100g (or so) good cheddar

3 medium eggs

¼ tspn nutmeg

splosh of white wine vinegar

olive oil


salt and cracked black pepper

  • Start with the pastry. I have a food processor but, if you don’t, then you’ll need to rub the flour into the butter with your finger tips, quickly. If you overwork the  pastry then it will tough and we want light, flaky pastry.
  • Get rid of any big lumps by shaking the bowl and seeing if any big ones come to the top, if so, continue rubbing a bit more. When satisfactory, add a little water at a time so the dough just about comes together.
  • Then cling film and put in the fridge.
  • Meanwhile, turn the oven on to 180ºC, grease your tin/dish/old cheesecake foil, grate your cheese, beat your eggs and trim and chop your chard into chunks about two inches long.
  • Then gently fry the chard in olive oil and when wilted and slightly soft, season and sprinkle with nutmeg and a dash of white  wine vinegar to give it a tang. It makes such a satisfying hiss when it hits the pan…
  • Put your cooked chard, cheese and eggs to one side. Get your pastry out of the fridge, and roll out on to a floured surface. Line your dish, prick the base and place some greaseproof paper with baking beans or lentils on top to stop the pastry puffing up the oven.
  • It’s important this is done quickly and that the oven is at temperature, the dramatic change in temperature makes the pastry more flaky. Bake for 15 mins.
  • Then, take the lentil/beans out of the case and put it back in the oven for another ten mins to brown. You can brush the edges with some of the egg if you like, as this is really only for aesthetic purposes it doesn’t matter about the bottom of the quiche, I mean, you won’t see it when it’s filled with loveliness.
  • When golden brown at the edges, take out of the oven. Spread the chard around in the pastry case, which may have shrunken away from the edges slightly, then evenly put the cheddar on top. Season the eggs and pour into the case. Crack some  more black pepper on top and sprinkle a touch of paprika to give it some colour.
  • Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins or until solid when shaken. Leave in the tin to cool.
  • This is great with some fresh salad and is just as good hot or cold!

Black Pudding Salad

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the delightful black pudding. It’s a great student food, even the ones available at farmers’ markets are affordable and it’s packed full of iron and protein. There are wide variations, but the base idea of using part of an animal to encase blood remains the same from Portugal to Norway and Russia to Nepal. Pigs, cows, sheep and goats’ blood is normally used, sometimes a mixture. The most luxuriant example I have come across uses the blood and fat of a porpoise which was fed to nobles in the 15th century. The first literary reference to black pudding comes in the eighteenth book of Homer’s Odyssey, whilst the first recipe was included in one of the first cookbooks ever written by Apicius in the Middle Ages.

Despite the recent rise in sales of offal and all the nasty bits, we are still quite squeamish about eating blood. I’ve tried to make a dish that gets away from the usual association of black pudding as just another fry-up element and I think the recipe below makes a very easy week night supper. I’ve kept the flavour combinations simple and classic, with the richness from the pudding it’s important not to overload the dish, the lemon and caraway in the dressing are there to brighten the whole thing up. I wish I had had some mozzarella when making this, it would have rounded it off nicely so if you have some, feel free to make the addition.



150g black pudding

100g (or so) lardons

½ a lettuce

a mug of peas

a handful fresh thyme

a handful fresh mint

1 eating apple

1 tbspn olive oil


For the dressing: (not strict measurements, it’s important to taste and alter as you wish and to keep doing so until you are satisfied)


2 desertspn extra virgin olive oil

1 desertspn white wine vinegar

¼ tspn salt

1 small garlic clove

juice of half a lemon

½ tspn caraway seeds

pinch of ground white pepper

½ tspn caster sugar


  • Start by making the dressing so that the flavours have time to mingle. In a pestle and mortar grind the garlic, caraway seeds and salt together to form a paste.
  • Add the pepper and vinegar and stir.
  • Add the oil.
  • Add the lemon and sugar a little at a time until you have the right balance of bitterness and sweetness.
  • Wash the leaves of the lettuce and lay out on a clean tea towel to dry.
  • Cook your peas so they are only just cooked.
  • Meanwhile, tear up the thyme and mint and put in a large mixing bowl.
  • Slice the black pudding, if it is not already sliced. Peel and chop the apple.
  •  Heat the oil in a large frying pan and when it is really hot, put in the lardons and black pudding. Keep the lardons moving until they go golden brown and then remove them from the pan onto a piece of kitchen roll so they go crispy.
  • The black pudding will need 2-3 mins on each side and should be done at the same time as the lardons.
  • Put the black pudding to one side and fry the apple in the juices from the meat, until only just golden brown.
  • Put the dry lettuce in the bowl with a herbs. Double check the seasoning of the dressing and dress the salad so the leaves are just coated.
  • Arrange the leaves on a plate and then top with the black pudding, lardons, peas, apple and mozzerella (if you have some)
  • Drizzle with the remainder of the dressing and enjoy!

Falafel, yes please.

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

    Hey guys and gals, another little gem for you here. If you don’t fancy sinking your carnivorous canines into my carnitas then I’ve got something a little more veggie friendly for you today.

    When I was doing a bit of work for my new friends at Truman’s beer back in February, I chanced upon the wonder that is Leon. I say chanced upon, it’s quite a big chance seeing as how they’re a chain with over ten establishments in London, however, the point is that I went there and they are great. I was given their first cookbook as a birthday present, so I can’t take credit for this recipe, but I can take credit for how radiant you’ll look when you’re contentment makes you glow like these roasted, sumptuous treats.

    I’ve got a sneaking suspicion that they borrowed my brain when coming up with the ethos for Leon. Most of the food is seasonal and local, they even have low GI brownies. Low Glycaemic Index food, means that the sugar from the food enters your blood stream more slowly, hence keeping your energy steady, as opposed to having it peak and trough like a yoyo trying to walk the dog and go round the world at the same time. I was one of those children that spent most of their time upside-down, hanging off monkey-bars, trees, relatives, y’know. It’s only as I’ve got older that I’ve realised I need to be a little more careful with how I handle my sugar. To make matters worse, it’s not just those ssuuhhweeeett thangs that have a high GI. Potatoes are a nightmare for a glucose storm, I know, a little harmless mash with your bangers, how can something that looks so much like clouds be wrong?! Sorry my friend, but that energy is going in quick and leaving you Slumped. That’s right, with a capital S. This recipe is GI friendly, so fed to children they will be likely maintain a terminal velocity proportional to their body weight, divided by their age. Ok, that last bit isn’t true but it is something that’s tasty and won’t make you bounce off the ceiling.

    I cooked these for me Ma and Pa and there were no complaints. In fact, there weren’t many noises at all, except for munching and the scraping of plates. I know of lots of people are moving into new houses at the moment in preparation for a new term, this would be a perfect house-warming dish to share.


    700g sweet potato (about 2 largish ones)

    2 tspn ground cumin

    2 tspn ground coriander

    2 cloves garlic

    Loadsa fresh coriander

    Half a lemon

    125g gram flour (* scroll to the bottom if you’re as confused as I was)

    Olive oil

    Sesame seeds

    Salt and Pepper

  1. The Leon recipe says to roast the sweet potato but I didn’t have time so I just peeled and boiled it. BORING
  2. Mash it up, mash it right up with the cumin, coriander x 2, garlic finely chopped, juice of the half lemon and gram flour
  3. Season
  4. Put in the freezer for half an hour so all the flavours can be friendly with each other. Not sure how this works, I wouldn’t be very friendly if someone put me in a freezer
  5. Heat oven to 200°C
  6. Oil a tray
  7. Put big dollops of orange mess on tray
  8. Sprinkle with sesame seeds
  9. Bake for 15 mins or until going golden brown on the edges
  10. I served mine in a wrap with heaps of salad, sweet chili sauce and mayo. Drool worthy.
  11. *This is flour from chickpeas or lentils. In Oxford, I found it in Uhuru, the whole food  shop on the Cowley Road but I’m sure the Indian shops have it too. In London, wander up Bethnal Green Road and you’ll see they have it in basically every corner shop.

Brunch is the new Mass

Wednesday, June 8th, 2011

Last week I went on holiday with some friends to Copenhagen. However, this post is not about that. It’s about how Berliners do brunch.

Having not seen said friends in a while, they endeavoured to inform me of how predictable and tiresome I have become since living in Berlin. I am no longer allowed  to begin sentences with, ‘In Berlin…’ (probably because what follows induces such blood-boiling jealousy that people feel the need to eat their own fingers, no?). But here is my real point, this post is not so much praise for the Berlin brunch (although it is almighty) but more of a suggestion of how everyone should do every brunch. Every Sunday.

Look at it. Just look at it. It’s even on a really nice plate. And they chop the fruit up for you. Yes, you feel a little bit like a child but you don’t have to think about it because you can just pop the juicy chunks of ripe perfection into your mouth instead of wrestling with an insufficiently sharp knife.

So my recipe (well actually the recipe from the guys at Kantina von Hugo, Paul-Lincke-Ufer 23, Kreuzberg) for the perfect brunch ensemble is:

Parma ham, fennel salami, rosemary crusted ham

Some soft goat’s cheese and some hard Bergkäse

Ruccola salad with matchsticks of celeriac and a few kalamata olives

Freshly baked bread and butter

Slices of melon, kiwi, orange, strawberries and some grapes.

Freshly squeezed orange juice and a milchkaffee (like a cappuccino but not)

Really nice plate.

Fried eggs

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

Delicious, versatile and easy. The wonderful egg. I recently listened to a podcast about frying eggs (ok, ok, ok sshhh) and they said that you should keep the heat relatively low so as not make the bottom of the egg crispy. Non-crispy egg? That’s the best bit! So, I tried it. Slimy egg is a definite no no. Here is how you should have your eggs:

I like my eggs sunny side up. Mmm hmm. Again, not very complex so here’s something a little more adventurous:

Spinach and Chickpea salad


Half a red onion, very finely chopped (I don’t like mine very oniony though so I don’t add that much)

1 tbsp wine vinegar

1 level tbsp muscavado sugar

Massive bunch of spinach (about 50p in loads of markets at the moment)

1 can of chickpeas

Handful of cranberries, soaked in freshly boiled water. -VERY GOOD

1 medium tomato, finely chopped

Chilli powder (optional)

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Salt & pepper

1 egg

This salad is all about the texture, darling. Ha. But really, it’s a good’un and is great the next day too, so you can put some into your lunch box and have it with nice bread or something. I had it with some bean-sprouts and artichoke hearts. By the way, the budget keeping is going really well, thanks for asking.

(Eggs don’t travel well, unless hard-boiled, so maybe leave that bit out second time round)

1. Get out three bowls. Two small and one larger.
2. In the first, soak the red onion in the vinegar with the sugar.
3. Drain your chickpeas and empty them into the second bowl. With your hand mush a few of them up so they are all different shapes and sizes, leaving about half of them whole. Good for anger management.
4. Trim any stalky bits off the spinach (if using baby spinach, this isn’t necessary). Cook for 3 minutes in freshly salted boiling water, drain and refresh in cold water.
5. Then in the last bowl put the onion mixture, spinach, chickpeas, cranberries, tomato and olive oil.
6. Toss everything together and season well, with some chilli, if you’re so inclined.
7. Dish out as much as you want onto a plate- try and leave a bit.
8. Top with a fried or poached egg and some more cracked black pepper.
9. Devour.