Thursday, 2 December 2010

Leon Book 2

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I received a copy of Leon Book 2 to review in the post the other week and am only just getting round to sharing it now. Shame on me, because it definitely something to shout about.

If you have ever been to one of the Leon restaurants in London you will know that their slogan is 'naturally fast food' and you will also know that their food is pretty good. Well, with their second cookbook published there is no excuse not to try some of it at home should you not find yourself anywhere near London.


I love the look of the book. It's full of not only great recipes, but also handy tips, great quirky images and graphics and some lovely anecdotes. In short, it's my kind of cookbook.

The first half of the book is full of 'fast food', with recipes that take no more then 20 minutes to make. The second half is all about 'slow fast food' with recipes that can be made ahead and finished quickly when you need them. And even though it's all about 'fast' food, at the same time it's about quality, freshness, sustainability and seasonal produce.

I have earmarked plenty of recipes to try and can't wait to get cooking! So look out for some of those to follow shortly.


The book is published by Octopus Publishing and is £20 RRP.

Monday, 1 November 2010

One just for Alice....

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Well, I wasn't inspired by the contents of Lucy's 'Ready, Steady, Cook' bag. Even I couldn't really come up with a satisfactory meal made from sweet potatoes, tinned tomatoes and vanilla yoghurt. So, I gave in an ordered pizza. It was so bad, but so good.


(Alice, no need to out me, I'm doing it myself! Oh and just to shock you a little more, about once a year I also get a craving for a Big Mac, but I've never had three bowls of Rice Krispies!)

Monday, 25 October 2010


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This has been waiting to be shared for a couple of months now and I promised I'd post something soon, so here it is...

The first time I had Kedgeree was when my friend H made it for me. It's one of H's favourite meals and it quickly became mine. It's easy and for me definitely falls within the category of comfort food. It's traditionally served for breakfast, but to me it's a perfect dinner and I always make sure that there is enough to take to work for lunch the next day.

So when H, Lucy and I went on holiday together it was no surprise that we had kedgeree one night. Here is H's version, sorry there are no measurements, it kind of just works everytime, even if slightly different:



smoked fish (undyed haddock is my favourite)
2-3 eggs
basmati rice
fresh parsley
curry powder
lemon juice
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Poach your fish in some milk or water until it flakes easily.

Use the poaching liquid to cook the rice until done, whilst keeping the fish warm.

Whilst the rice is cooking, hard boil the eggs, peel and roughly chop.

Cook the peas.

In a large frying pan, melt the butter, add the rice, flaked fish, peas and season with curry powder, lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve hot with bread and butter.


Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Still alive

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I am still alive and seem to be too busy enjoying life and this glorious autumn weather to blog.

Thanks to all of you who have asked me what's up and told me to get blogging again. I will. Shortly. Promised.

perfect afternoon

Friday, 20 August 2010

Moonblush Tomatoes

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What to do if you have another washed out summer? Well, apart from packing your things and heading for the hills, or even better the beaches you could make moonblush tomatoes.

I got the recipe from Nigella's Feast. I think these are much better than sundried tomatoes, much juicier, really flavourful and delicious. They are perfect for salads, picnics or a buffet table. They do take all night to make (that's of course where the moonblush comes from), but they are absolutely minimum effort and maximum outcome.


Moonblush Tomatoes

500g (about 24) on-the-vine cherry or other baby tomatoes
2 teaspoons Maldon salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
1/4 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 x 15ml tablespoons olive oil

Preheat the oven to 220C / gas mark 7.

Cut the tomatoes in half and sit them cut side up in an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle with the salt, sugar, thyme and olive oil.

Put them in the oven, and immediately turn it off.

Leave the tomatoes in the oven overnight or for a day without opening the door.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Double Chocolate Muffins

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My friend V and I were born in the same hospital on the same day, we grew up in the same village and we went to the same school and even when I moved, first to Norway and then to England, we always kept in close contact. In March this year V had a beautiful baby boy and it just so happens that I'm in Germany this week and am able to attend his christening today.

Being fully aware of my love of cooking and baking, V asked if I could bake some chocolate muffins to bring for the celebrations. That's the least I could do of course, so I've been busy this morning.

Double Chocolate Muffins
(makes 12)

200gr plain flour
100gr caster sugar
50gr cocoa powder
1tsp cinnamon
2tsp baking powder
125gr dark chocolate, chopped
2 eggs
100ml vegetable oil
250ml milk

Preheat oven to 200C.

In a large bowl mix the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, cinnamon, baking powder and dark chocolate.

In a separte bowl whisk the eggs.

Add the oil and stir well until combined.

Add the milk and mix in again.

Now pour the wet ingredients into the dry with a fork or wooden spoon until just combined. You don't want to overwork it.

Divide the dough between a 12 hole muffin tray, lined with paper muffin cases and bake for 20 minutes.


Monday, 2 August 2010

Elderflower Champagne

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I should have probably posted this earlier, as the season for elderflower is now over, but I guess you can bookmark it for next year or be adventurous and find a recipe for elderberry wine, as elderberries will be everywhere very shortly.


I made the elderflower champagne with my friend J and we actually nearly left it too late ourselves. A few Sundays ago we got on our bikes and scoured the hedgrows, but many of the elderflowers had already gone and had started becoming elderberries. We did manage to find just enough to make one batch of elderflower champagne, even if we nearly killed ourselves in the process. I should point out that that was in the picking stage, not the actual making stage, which was pretty easy. What wasn't easy was to avoid the chest-high stinging nettles, brambles and other scratchy and prickly nasties along the River Mersey.

Well anyways, I can only advise you to try it, it's delicious, nearly free and there is nothing as good as making something from things you have picked yourself in the hedgerows. We're still amazed that we made it and that it actually pops and sparkles! The recipe I have copied below is by Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall, himself a great advocate of forraging and preparing seasonal food.

Bottoms up!


Elderflower Champagne (makes about 6 litres)

4 litres hot water
700g sugar
Juice and zest of four lemons
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
about 15 elderflower heads, in full bloom
pinch of dried yeast (you may not need this)

Put the hot water and sugar into a large container (a spotlessly clean bucket is good) and stir until the sugar dissolves, then top up with cold water so you have 6 litres of liquid in total.

Add the lemon juice and zest, the vinegar and the flower heads and stir gently.

Cover with clean muslin and leave to ferment in a cool, airy place for a couple of days. Take a look at the brew at this point, and if it’s not becoming a little foamy and obviously beginning to ferment, add a pinch of yeast.

Leave the mixture to ferment, again covered with muslin, for a further four days. Strain the liquid through a sieve lined with muslin and decant into sterilised strong glass bottles with champagne stoppers (available from home-brewing suppliers) or Grolsch-style stoppers, or sterilized screw-top plastic bottles (a good deal of pressure can build up inside as the fermenting brew produces carbon dioxide, so strong bottles and seals are essential).

Seal and leave to ferment in the bottles for at least a week before serving, chilled. The champagne should keep in the bottles for several months. Store in a cool, dry place. During the first two week of fermenting in the bottle we released the pressure every other day, by popping them briefly.

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Summer Fruit Trifle and a very berry tea cosy

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It's about time that I wrote something I guess, before all my readers disappear. So, it was perfect timing that I hosted the Second Annual Cherry Berry Festival yesterday.


The Cherry Berry Fest was an idea my friend's daughter V came up with last year. After seeing a programme about Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's strawberry fest, she thought we should have our own version and celebrate the abundance of berries at this time of year. It was such good fun that we decided there and then to turn it into an annual event. This time round it was at my house.

Everyone invited brings along a dish containing cherries or any other berry and since that gets a little sweet, there are also some savoury dishes, but I'll tell you about some of them another time.


If your wondering where the fantastic strawberry tea cosy comes from, it was sent to me by All Tea Towels. It's a great website if you want to treat yourself or are looking for a great gift for a friend who likes kitchen things (like me). As well as my tea cosy, I really like the vintage tea towel range, expecially the ones with the the silver cutlery and tea pots.

Well, getting back to Cherry Berry, my dish this year was a summer fruit trifle. It's really easy to make (You can make it more complicated and involved if you make custard from scratch and bake your own sponge base, but why would you?) and always goes down a treat. So without much more rambling on, here's the recipe or maybe instructions is a better word....


Summer Berry Trifle (serves 6-8)

madeira cake or sponge cake, enough to line the base of your trifle bowl
1 pint custard
1/2 pint whipping cream or double cream, whipped
700gr summer fruit, washed
50 ml contreau, amaretto or sherry if you want a more traditional trifle

Pour the contrau into the base of a glass bowl.

Slice the madeira cake or sponge cake into 1 inch slices and line the bottom of the bowl with them. Pressing down so it soaks up the alcohol.

Place half of your fruit in a separate bowl and mash them with the back of a fork. I used 1 punnet of strawberries and 2 punnets of raspberries.

Spoon the fruit over the sponge and top with about half of the remaining fruit (you want to keep enough back to decorate the top of the trifle).

In another bowl stir half of your whipped cream into the custard before adding it as the next layer to your glass bowl to top the fruit.

Top the custard layer with the remaining cream. You can either just spoon it on and spread it across with a palette knife or pipe it on.

Top with the remaining fruit and chill for a couple of hours before serving.


Wednesday, 7 July 2010

Olive and Sundried Tomato Swirls

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The dog days are here and I hope they'll stay. It's been hot and sunny for a few weeks now and I don't yet quite believe our luck. Should we really be having a lovely summer this year? I hope I'm not cursing it by talking about it. As I type there is a fine rain falling outside my window, but it feels fresh and soothing. Ready for more sunshine to follow.

When it's really warm, I never feel like much cooking. Why would I want to turn the hob or oven on in my tiny kitchen and make it even warmer, but I still have this recipe waiting that I have been meaning to share since I had a party at the end of May.


Olive and Sundried Tomato Swirls

1 block of frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 package cream cheese
1 package cream cheese with herbs
1/2 jar sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
a handful of olives, pitted and sliced
150gr gouda, grated
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6.

In a bowl mix all ingredients, except the puff pastry and set aside.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the block of puff pastry into a large rectangle. To make it a little easier, I divide the block into two and roll out two rectangles.

Spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the pastry.

Starting from the long side, carefully roll up the pastry.

With a sharp knife cut the roll into 1/2 inch thick slices and place them cut side down onto a non-stick baking tray.

Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden.

Allow to cool on a wire rack, before serving.

These can be made a day ahead.



Thursday, 3 June 2010

Fruity Tiramisu

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Okay, I hold my hands up, I didn't make this one. Lucy did. But, as it was made in my kitchen and eaten in my flat, from my bowls and with my spoons, I feel like I can share it here.


Every couple of months or so I meet with four friends and fellow artists to talk about the projects we're working on. It's all about mutual support and constructive criticism. All of us really enjoy those get togethers and, as well as the talk about our practice, of course we also involve food, drink and chat about life in general.

For our session a couple of weeks ago Lucy, who doesn't like coffee, made Fruity Tiramisu and we all couldn't stop ourselves from having a second helping. There was only a tiny little bit left at the end, which J's partner was lucky enough to get in a doggy bag. It's a good job that none of us is pregnant. It doesn't have alcohol in it like a regular tiramisu, but it does contain raw eggs, so make sure they are really fresh.

Oh, and I nearly forgot to take a picture, so all you get is a photo of the table with the half eaten tiramisu.


Fruity Tiramisu (serves 6)

4 really fresh eggs, seperated
150g caster sugar
30-40 sponge fingers
300ml orange juice
250g mascarpone cheese
2tsp vanilla essence
mixed fruit of your choice, such as starwberries, kiwi fruit, banana, blueberries etc.
a pinch of cinnamon

Place a heat proof bowl over a pan of boiling water and with an electric whisk beat the egg yolks and sugar in it, until pale, doubled in volume and creamy.

remove from heat and allow to cool, stirring from time to time.

Dip half the sponge fingers quickly in the orange juice, don't let them soak it up and use them to line the bottom of a square flat dish.

Once your egg mixture is cooled, gardually fold the mascarpone cheese into the mixture, using a wooden spoon.

Then carefully add the vanilla essence and fold in.

In a clean bowl and using a clean electric whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff.

Carefully fold them into the mascarpone and egg yolk mix.

Slice/chop your fruit, keeping a little aside for garnishing and carefully stir it into the mix.

Pour half of it over the sponge fingers.

Dip the rest of the sponge fingers into the orange juice and arrange in another layer on top of the mascarpone/egg mix.

Cover with the rest of the mascarpone/egg mix.

Cover with cling film and refridgerate for a minimum of 2 hours or over night.

Top with some more sliced fruit for garnish and dust with a sprinkle of cinnamon.


Tuesday, 1 June 2010


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Another month has passed without me doing much blogging. It looks like I'm having too much of a good time enjoying myself and no time left for much experimenting in the kitchen. My flat seems to be a transitional place at the moment, where I come to change, dump my stuff and sleep.

Last Friday part of the having a good time was inviting some friends round for a little food, drink and a bit of a boogie though, so I seized the oppertunity to try a couple of new recipes. One of those I found in Nigella's Express cook book. A really simple and of course 'express' recipe for a guacomole with a twist. The blue cheese goes brilliantly with the avocado. I went down a treat and I think the name makes it even more perfect for a party! I didn't have jalapenos in, so here is my version using dried chili flakes.



125gr Roquefort or St. Augur cheese
60ml sour cream
2 ripe avocados, peeled and stone removed
1/2 tsp dried chili flakes
2 spring onions, finely sliced
a pinch of sweet parika

Crumble the cheese into a bowl and mix it with the sourcream.

Add the avocado and chili flakes and mash, using a fork until you reach the desired consistency and everything is combined.

Stir in the spring onions.

Sprinkle with a little paprika and serve straight away.

As with any guacomole, the avocado means that the dip will turn brown after a couple of hours, so it's best to make it at the last minute, but a minute is all it takes.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Carrot and Ginger Soup

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It's been unusually cold here in Manchester. It looks like mid May outside, beautiful and green and fresh, but temperature-wise it feels more like March. Therefore soup is definitely still featuring on the menu regularly.

I was making books in Lucy's studio, while she was engaged in skill sharing excercises with M and as a thank you for letting me use her space and time I brought along Carrot and Ginger Soup for lunch. We all needed it as it was decidely brass monkeys in the studio and it helped to warm our bellies and the cockles of our hearts.


Carrot and Ginger Soup
(serves 4)

2 onions, peeled and chopped
a large knob of butter
2 large potatoes, peeled and diced
6 carrots, cleaned and chopped
3cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped very finely
1 litre vegetable stock
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
a pinch of cayenne pepper, optional

Melt the butter in a large stock pot and sweat the onions over low heat until softend, but not browned for about 15 minutes.

Add the potatoes, carrots, ginger and stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Bring to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes.

Blitz in a food processor or with a stick blender until you have a smooth, creamy consistency.

Add this point I like to add a pinch of cayenne for a little extra heat, but that's entirely optional.

Serve hot with crusty bread.


Sunday, 2 May 2010

Vegetarian Chili

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On Friday night, L and H came round for pre-cinema dinner, before going to watch Io sono l'amore. (One of the best films I have seen in a long time by the way, so if you haven't seen it yet, do!)

I felt like all I'd been feeding them the last few times they'd been round was roast vegetables with couscous, so I wanted to do something different. My problem was that I'd left my purse in the bookbindery and only had a few coppers in the penny jar, so I had to make something that didn't involve much shopping. I checked my cupboards and found that they contained most of the ingredients needed to make a chili. All I had to go and buy was a courgette and a red pepper and there was enough change for those. Perfect.


Vegetarian Chili (serves 3-4)

olive oil
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1 onions, diced
3 cm ginger, grated
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tbsp tomato purée
1 red peppers, diced
1 courgette, diced
1/2 tsp dried red chilli flakes
1/2 can canned chopped tomatoes (with jalapenos)
1 can kidney beans, 400g
1 small can sweet corn
pinch salt and black pepper

In the oil in a large frying pan and add the onions. Sweat for a few minutes until they begin to soften.

Add the garlic and the grated ginger, together with the cumin and the paprika.

Fry for another couple of minutes, before adding the tomato puree. Stir well and fry a little longer (the tomato puree should turn dark reddish brown), before adding the rest of the ingredients.

Bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.

Serve with rice, as a topping for a jacket potato, or just in a bowl with some torillas or nachos.


Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Observer Food Monthly Awards

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....just mentioning it ....


Monday, 19 April 2010

Torta di spinaci (Spinach Tart)

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Okay, it's about time I got this show back on the road. Sorry for the prolonged absence. I'm not sure what happened. Usually when things are a little crazy and don't go according to plan I seek refuge in the kitchen. So far this year that has not seemed to happen, despite there being quite a few stones cast that caused ripples of varying magnitude.

But enough of the prose, back to cooking. I've been invited to H's surprise birthday meal tonight and was asked to bring some food along, so what better opportunity to try and get my cooking mojo back. I got some of my cookbooks out for inspiration and decided to make Torta di spinaci from Angela Hartnett's Cucina. Well, I don't want to comment on the book just yet, as it has great reviews and as this the first recipe I tried from it, but it needed a bit of adaptation to make it work. The ingredients are fine, but if I didn't already have a clue what I was doing in the kitchen (well, at least most of the time), I think it would have left me very frustrated. The recipe calls for 1kg of roughly chopped fresh spinach to be mixed with some other ingredients and then placed into a 20cm shallow flan dish. There is no way that would ever fit without wilting the spinach first, so I cooked my spinach and also reduced the amount to 750g and it just about fit.

I also didn't have any '00' flour, so used normal flour, but of course that made the pastry more bread dough like and maybe wasn't the greatest idea I ever had. So next time I'll get on my bike to get the right flour. See, I don't always know what I'm doing in the kitchen, or to put it correctly, I'm aware that I'm doing not quite the right thing and carry on despite my better knowledge. I seem to do that a lot in life. It was good anyways though.

Anyways here's the recipe with my own cooking instructions and adapted measurements, but with the correct flour:


Torta di spinaci (serves 8-10)

400g '00' flour
1/2 tsp salt
4tbsp olive oil
100ml ice-cold water

for the filling:
750g spinach, washed, stems removed, roughly chopped
4tbsp olive oil
200 fresh parmegiano reggiano, grated
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 tsp freshly ground nutmeg
salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste

In a large bowl ix the flour with the salt and add the olive oil and water.

Mix lightly until it comes together to form a smooth ball.

Wrap in cling film and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

In the meantime you can make the filling.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan and add the spinach, stir until wilted quite a bit.

Remove from the pan and set aside to cool, pour off excess liquid.

Add the grated parmesan, the eggs and nutmeg and mix well.

Season well with salt and pepper.

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll out quite thin on a lightly floured surface. It needs to become big enough to line a 20cm shallow pie dish and fold back over the top of the filling.

Once it's rolled out, carefully line your pie dish, letting the dough hang over the edges.

Spoon the filling into the dish, it should fill it all the way to the top.

Then fold the dough over the top to cover the filling and bake in your preheated oven for 30-40 minutes until golden.

This can be served hot or cold.


Monday, 22 March 2010

Glazed Carrots with Thyme and Garlic

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Okay, this is me trying to get my mojo back. I've still not really been cooking much new stuff, but here is one I made earlier (and it didn't involve fairy liquid bottles, scissors or glue). Oh, and before I forget, thanks for hanging in there with me.

The recipe comes from Gordon Ramsey's Sunday Lunch cookbook. I know many people don't like him because of the language he uses, but that doesn't bother me and I've never yet tried on of his recipe to be left disappointed.


Glazed Carrots with Thyme and Garlic
(serves 4)

600g small carrots, peeled (I used Chanteney, so no need for peeling)
1-1.5 litres vegetable stock
1 sprig of thyme
1/2 bulb of garlic, cut horizontally
1 bay leaf
olive oil
black pepper, freshly ground
a few knobs of butter
1-2tsp caster sugar

Place the carrots in a large pan and cover with vegetable stock.

Add the thyme, garlic, bay leaf and simmer for 8 minutes.

Remove from heat and allow the carrots to cool in the stock, before draining well.

Use some kitchen towel to pat them dry.

Heat some olive oil in a pan and add the carrots. Sautee for a few minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Add the butter and sugar and baste the carrots.

Continue to cook for 3-4 minutes until the carrots are glazed well and tender.

Serve as a perfect side with roast lamb or beef.

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

I've lost my cooking mojo...

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..., but I'm hoping to rediscover it soon. Thanks for being patient!

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Unearthed goodies

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I was sent some continental deli goodies from Unearthed a couple of weeks ago and am only just getting around to blogging about it. Where does the time go?

The people at Unearthed source quality food from all over Europe and were kind enough to send me some Barrel Aged Greek Feta, some Hot Chili Olives and some Spanish Chorizo to try. What can I say? It was great food, full of flavour and perfect to have with a glass of wine and friends. The olives were really hot, but went perfect with the soft, salty feta and the chorizo tasted just like chorizo should. I'll definitely be looking out for their foods next time I'm in Waitrose.

The pictures I took really don't do the food justice, as I couldn't wait for daylight, but devoured everything on the night it arrived, so I've borrowed a picture from their website.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

Sunday Roast

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A couple of weeks ago a parcel from the wonderful people at Tiny Farmer arrived on my doorstep. I opened it and found some great hand-reared, welfare friendly beef, a huge rump steak, some shin of beef, some minced beef and a lovely silverside to be precise.

So what was a girl to do? Invite Lucy, Jean-Marc and E for a roast dinner of course!
I think it's safe to say that everyone enjoyed it greatly, even though the roast was a little less pink than I wanted it to be. I forgot to set my timer.

Roast Beef

olive oil
1 silverside of beef
2 carrots
1 onion, halved
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

for the gravy (serves 4):
4 cloves of garlic
4 plum tomatoes, halved
1 glass of red wine
600ml beef stock

Preheat your oven to 200C/Gas 6.

Heat the oil a heavy based roasting pan on top of your stove.

Season your beef and brown for about 3-4 minutes on all sides.

When browned briefly remove the roast from the pan and put 2 carrots and the onion halves in the pan and than place the beef on top.

Transfer to the oven and roast for 15 minutes per 450g for rare or 20 minutes per 450g for medium.

When the roast is done, put it on a warmed plate, loosely wrap it in tin foil and set aside to rest while you make the gravy.

Place the roasting pan on the hob. Remove any excess fat and add the garlic and tomatoes. Cook for 4-5 minutes before adding the wine and the beef stock.

Bring to a simmer and bubble for about 10 minutes. The liquid should reduce by about half.

Pass the gravy through a fine sieve. Make sure you really press all the juices out of the vegetables to get all the flavour.

Return the gravy to the pan and bring back to a boil until you reach gravy consistency. If you like you can thicken it with a little cornflour.


Sunday, 10 January 2010

Briouats filled with Goat's Cheese

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I went through my photo archive today and came across pictures I had taken of Briouats filled with Goat's Cheese that I made some time last year and for some reason forgot to blog about. Briouats are fried Moroccan pastries and can be either savoury or sweet. They are good, both hot or cold and you could serve them on a bed of mixed salad as a starter or as part of a finger food buffet. So, with a little bit of a delay, here's the photo and the recipe:

Briouats filed with Goat's Cheese (makes about 40)

400g goat's cheese
2tbsp flat leaf parsley, chopped
1tsp parika
a pinch of cayenne pepper
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
400g filo pastry sheets
75g melted butter
2 egg yolks, beaten
vegetable oil for frying

In a large bowl mash the goat's cheese with a fork and add the parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper and salt and pepper to taste.

Keep the pile of filo pastry sheets covered with a damp tea towel and work with one at a time, making sure the rest stay covered with the towel.

Place one sheet in front of you and cut into 4x10 inch strips.

Brush them with the melted butter using a pastry brush.

Place 1tsp of the goat's cheese mix at one end of each strip, about 2inches in.

Fold over the shorter end of the pastry strip to cover the filling.

Turn in 1/2inch of both long edges and then continue to fold over the short edge until you are left with a square.

Seal the edges with the egg yolk.

Fry in hot oil until golden. Alternatively, do as I did and bake them in the oven at 180C for about 30-40 minutes.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

Leek and Potato Soup

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Are you bored of soup yet? Well, I'm not and I doubt I ever will be, especially while it is this cold.

I know some people are moaning about the cold and all the snow, but I'm loving it. I really am. This is what winter is supposed to be like in my opinion and I know it's a pain to drive in this weather, but I don't have a car anyways, so that doesn't bother me. I feel a slight pinch of sadness every time I walk past my bicycle that's not been taken out for a ride for over a week now, but I smile every time I pull the laces on my hiking boots tight, put on another layer of crazy knitwear and venture out into the white in the knowledge that there is a pot of soup or at least a cup of cocoa waiting for me on my return.

Leek and Potato Soup (serves 4)

2tbsp butter
1lb leeks, washed, trimmed and finely sliced
1lb potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite sized chunks
1 onion, chopped
1 litre vegetable stock
225ml milk
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
single cream (optional)

Melt the butter in a large sauce pan.

Add the chopped leeks, potatoes and onion and sautee for 10 minutes over low heat, stirring frequently.

Add the stock and the milk and cook for about 15-20 minutes, until the potatoes are cooked through.

Depending on your preference you can serve the chunky soup as it is, or whiz it with a stick blender until it is smooth.

If you like you can pour a little single cream into each bowl before serving, swirl it around gently with a fork for a pretty pattern.


Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Top Five from 2009

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Maybe it's a good idea to look back as well as forward at the beginning of a new year. So without much ado, here are my top five recipes from 2009 (in no particular order):

Labneh with Olives and Pistachios

Onion and Goats' Cheese Flan

Spicy Roast Aubergine with Jeweled Couscous

Muttar Paneer

Lemon Cake with Lemon Cream and Berries

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Simple Creamy Tomato Soup

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Building snow women all afternoon meant that I wanted something warming again for dinner that didn't require loads of time spent in the kitchen. So what better than another bowl of hot soup?

I didn't really want to put my hiking boots, scarf, hat and mittens back on for another trip to the shop either, so it had to be something I could make with what I always have in my cupboards. That decided it for me, Creamy Tomato Soup it was to be.

Creamy Tomato Soup (serves 2-3)

1tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic, chopped
1tbsp, tomato puree (paste)
2 tins (400g each) of chopped tomatoes
1tbsp fresh thyme, chopped or a handful of chopped basil
1 1/2tsp vegetable stock powder
a pinch of baking soda
350ml milk (or half milk/half vegetable stock)
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and fry the onion and garlic for about four minutes until beginning to soften.

Stir in the tomato puree and continue to cook for another couple of minutes whilst stirring.

Add the chopped tomatoes, herbs and vegetable stock powder and simmer for about 15 minutes.

In a small bowl mix the baking soda with about 1tbsp of the milk.

Stir into the tomatoes, it'll froth but don't worry it'll stop.

Add the rest of the milk and simmer for another five minutes.

Serve with your favourite crunchy bread.

Note: You won't taste the baking soda at all, it just stops the milk from curdling or splitting.


Sloe Gin

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I just pulled up my blinds and couldn't believe my eyes. I know it had snowed already last night and was still at it when I went to bed at midnight, but it must have continued for most of the night. I haven't seen snow like this in years. Probably not since I lived in Oslo.

It's a day for building snowmen and making snow angels and as there's no soup left to warm me up when I get back in, I might just have to have a glass of my homemade sloe gin, or two!

Sloe Gin

450gr sloe berries
1 litre gin
225gr light brown sugar

If there's been no frost by the time you pick your slow berries, pop them in the freezer for a week or so before making the gin. They need to have frozen once at least to release some of the sugar in them.

Place the sugar into a large sterilized jar.

Prick each berry with a clean needle and add them to the jar.

Pour in the gin, seal tightly and give everything a really good shake.

Store in a cool dark place and shake every other day for about a week, then once a week for two months.

After that you can pour the gin through a clean sieve into sterilized bottles and start drinking it!


Monday, 4 January 2010

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup

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It feels like Manchester is frozen over. I just took a stroll to the local shops with E and JM and it must have taken us twice as long to get there as we were slipping and sliding all over the place. I'm beginning to understand why penguins walk the way they do.

Before we ventured out we had some hot soup to warm us up from the inside. Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup to be precise, or January Soup as E christened it, as it comes from the January page of the 2010 Good Food calendar. As I often do I made some slight alteration to the original recipe, so here is my version.

Spiced Carrot and Lentil Soup (serves 3-4)

2tsp cumin seeds
a pinch of dried chilli flakes
600gr carrots, washed and coarsely grated
140gr split yellow lentils (you can use red of course as in the original recipe)
1 1/4 litre hot vegetable stock
125ml milk
salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste
1/2-3/4 tsp hot chilli powder
natural yoghurt

Dry fry the cumin seeds and chilli flakes for about one minute in a large saucepan. When they begin to release their aroma, remove half from the pan and set aside.

Add the carrots, lentils, vegetable stock and milk and simmer until the lentils are done. If you're using yellow split lentils this will take about 30minutes if using red it'll be a little quicker.

Using a stick blender, whizz the soup until completely smooth.

Return to a simmer and season to taste with salt, pepper and chilli powder.

Ladle into bowls and add about a tablespoon of natural yoghurt to each bowl, before sprinkling with some of the reserved cumin seeds and chilli flakes.


Saturday, 2 January 2010

Traditional Scones

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What do you do when you wake up early on New Year's Day, the sun is shining and you're looking forward to spending the day with some wonderful people? Well, you get up and bake some scones of course!

Happy New Year, everyone!

Traditional Scones
(makes 12-18)

450gr self-raising flour
a pinch of baking powder
a generous pinch of salt
50gr caster sugar
110gr unsalted butter, diced
1 egg, lightly beaten
50ml double cream
200ml milk (you might need a little more)
1 egg, beaten with a little milk

Preheat your oven to 180C/ Gas 4.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and stir in the baking powder, salt and sugar.

Add the diced butter and rub it into the flour with your finger tips until you have a mixture a little like dried breadcrumbs.

Add the beaten egg, double cream and enough milk to moisten.

Mix well until you have a soft and doughy mixture that is not too moist. Don't overwork the dough.

Roll into a ball and roll it out lightly on a lightly floured surface until it is about 1inch thick.

Cut out with a round cutter and place the rounds onto a non-stick baking tray.

Gather the off-cuts and carefully roll out again (you really want to make sure that you don't overwork the dough), cut and repeat until you have used up all the dough.

Brush the tops with the egg and milk glaze and bake for 15-20 minutes, until the tops are golden.