Wednesday, 30 April 2008


The second is Woodlands, a South Indian vegetarian restaurant. It was recommended to me by an Indian friend, so I thought that was a pretty good indicator. The interior was much more spacious and light than your typical Indian restaurant, the service was very good and we had a wonderful time.

The menu was overwhelming, most Indian food in this country is Punjabi, typically meatier, greasier and fattier; so there were lots of dishes that I'd never seen before. We plumped for the rice and lentil puffs studded with cashew and chilli that came with a delicious homemade coconut chutney. Then woodlands korma and saag paneer. It was all so delicous, light and delicately spiced. The saag panner was particularly good. Given we opted for pretty safe choices, I definitely need to go back as there's so much to try! Some people on the table next to us got thalis, which is a tray holding several little dishes and they looked fab.

Hmmm, when can I go back...

Tuesday, 29 April 2008


I'm really annoyed with myself as I ate in 2 really fabulous restaurants the past 2 evenings and I forgot my camera! Now I know its all about the pictures, but I thought it was worth at least worth mentioning them as they are definitely worth visiting. Plus, it gives me the excuse to go back and take pictures...

The first is Wahaca, the much hyped restaurant of Thomasina Myers. Apparently its been completely packed since opening and I can see why. Its hearteneing to see a restaurant do something well and actually be successful. I think I fell for the idea of Wahaca first, all the chicken and pork is free range, the fish is sustainable and they sorce as much as possible locally, pretty good eh? Anyway, yes it is busy, we got there at 6.30 so didn't have to wait but by 7 the queue was out of the door. But, I guess in that area of soho where everything is so touristy and overpriced, its worth it. Considering how busy it is, the service is also friendly and efficient

The menu is well thought out too, its kind of like spanish tapas. We had about 2 of the smaller dishes each to share, we were excited at the prospect of eating happy meat so went down the meaty route a bit, but the fish pastor, mushroom quesadilla and frijoles turned out to be the best. The highlight may possibly have been the churros, but that's probably down to nostalgia (many afternoons spent eating exquisite churros in Valencia) more than anything else, they were good though, if a little too crisp and the chocolate was excellent, hence the completely empty bowls at the end. All in all we spent £14 each including wine (and churros), so good value too! Read more...

Monday, 28 April 2008

Roast Carrot and Couscous Salad

Having spent most of the weekend eating refined carbohydrate, cheese and drinking alcohol in various guises. I decided that I need to sort myself out and eat some actual vegetables. So, I decided to make loads of this salad as its an easy way to eat lots of healthy things, it travels well in a lunchbox and keeps for ages.

Now, I normally only eat carrot raw, but these spicy sweet little cubes are a delicious deviation. Toasting the sunflower seeds in the same tray also makes them a bit more exciting. I'm also lying a little bit as I actually used bulghar wheat, but couscous seemed a more user friendly title, I always make mine with watered down vegetable stock, which adds a lot more flavour.

Roast Carrot and Couscous Salad

300g carrots, cut into small cubes
1tbsp paprika
½ tsp chilli flakes
75g sunflower seeds
250g couscous soaked in boiling water until soft and fluffy
1 can chickpeas, drained
1 red onion chopped finely
1 clove garlic finely chopped
1 lemon
olive oil
3 tomatoes, diced finely
1 bunch parsley, chopped finely

Add the spices to the carrots and drizzle liberally in oil. roast in a hot oven for about 15mins, then add the sunflower seeds and continue to cook until the carrot is cooked through and brown around the edges and the sunflower seeds have started to toast, about 15mins more.

Turn the carrots into the couscous and add the chickpeas, onion, tomatoes, parsley and garlic, stir and squeeze over the lemon juice. The amount depends on your taste, I usually use about ½ lemon, but you may like it more astringent. Moisten everything liberally with olive oil and season to taste. Eat with hummus and pitta and feel virtuous. Read more...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Sweet Vegetable Tagine

This is a step up from the ubiquitous vegetable tagines, there is a real depth of flavour here. You can't really go wrong topping this pine nuts and coriander, they really counteract the sweetness of the tagine, plus I love pine nuts...Anything you can eat with bulghar wheat yoghurt is always a winner for me too.

It comes from the Ottolenghi column in the Guardian on Saturday which is fab, full of new and exciting veggie recipes. My friend always complains that there are too many ingredients in his recipes, which may be true, but I usually take a creative spin on them, i.e. use what ingredients I do have and not worry about the others. What follows is my version...

Sweet Vegetable Tagine

serves 4

1 onion, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
1 small butternut squach cut into small pieces
2 parsnips cut into small cubes
2 carrots cut into small cubes
1 bayleaf
3 cardamom pods
1 tsp ground coriander
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground turmeric
Small pinch smoked paprika
1tsp cinnamon
½ tbsp honey
700ml vegetable stock
250g dried apricots, sliced
100g pine nuts
1 bunch coriander chopped

Fry the onions in a little oil until soft, add the squash, parsnip, carrot and chilli, fry for a few mins. Now add the spices and honey, make sure everything is evenly coated in the spices. Add the stock and simmer gently for 10mins, add the apricots and simmer until everything is well cooked. Serve with bulghar wheat, sprinkled with toasted pine nuts and chopped coriander Read more...

Friday, 25 April 2008

Creamy Cauliflower Soup

Now cauliflower isn't normally good for anything but cauliflower cheese. But this creamy cauliflower soup with a little sweetcorn and spring onion for texture is really delicious. Its another recipe from the wonderful Cranks Bible, you must try it, it really is good and cheap as chips to make.

Cauliflower and Sweetcorn Chowder

1 large onion, roughly chopped
3 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 medium head cauliflower, cut into equal sized florets
750ml hot vegetable stock
3tbsp double cream
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 large can sweetcorn in water, drained
1 bunch spring onions, finely sliced

Saute the onions in a little oil and butter if you have it until soft, add the garlic and cauliflower and fry for 1 min, add the vegetable stock, bring to the boil and simmer for about 10mins until the cauliflower is soft. Its hard to specify weights of cauliflower as it would be stupid not to use a whole head, so add more or less stock depending on the size of cauliflower you have.

Once the cauliflower is cooked, puree the soup with the double cream and mustard. Season to taste. Add the sweetcorn to the soup and warm through. Serve garnished with a little spring onion. Read more...

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Marinaded chicken salad à la Kat

This is a 'guest blog' if you will from my good friend Kat, a fellow food fanatic, although a job in the city means daily blogging (and cooking!) isn't really feasible...

I invited a friend over for lunch, and, excited at the thought of a girly lunch images of chocolate, wine and generally debauchery, maybe even cheese, went through my mind... alas! Not so! My lunchtime guest requests a healthy light lunch, due to a colonic irrigation session later that day. Hmmm. Neither sounds appealing for a Sunday.

However, I decided to make a marinaded chicken salad - making the chicken by throwing the marinade into the blender took seconds, and meant that I had it almost taken care of before I went out on Saturday night. That was appealing.

This chicken would be excellent with a more simple salad, perhaps with potatoes in there too, or perhaps make a basic pasta tomato sauce and throw the cooked chicken on top at the last minute for a quick pasta dinner.

My secret to the best flavour is a really hot pan (my long suffering boyfriend has to keep reaching up to turn off the smoke alarm whenever I cook!) as this really makes the meat delicious.

Marinaded chicken salad a la Kat - Serves 2

1 large free range chicken breast
For the marinade:
3 sundried tomatoes
1 tsp paprika (smoked if possible)
½ lemon juiced
1 fat garlic clove
some fresh herbs - I used corriander
1 squirt tomatoe puree
For the salad:
½ bunch asparagus
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2 handfuls of green beans or mange tout
A courgette
1 handful spinach leaves
1 carrot, grated
Some more fresh herbs to taste
½ lemon, juiced
Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar

Add the marinade ingedients to a small blender, and whizz together until they form a paste.Slice the chicken breast into a few slices (ideally about 6-8), and put into a freezer bag. Add the marinade paste and carefully squidge it around with the chicken, trying to coat it as much as possible.

Tie up the freezer bag and leave in the fridge (you don't have to do this bit, but it tastes sooo much better if you do) for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to make the salad - remove the chicken from the fridge. Have a big pan of water heating up (with the lid on!!) ready to blanche the beans/mange tout and asparagus. Meanwhile, chop the courgette into slices, and pop in a hot pan with a dash of oil to lightly cook. Peel and grate the carrot, halve the cherry tomatoes. Wash the spinach leaves and place in two bowls, and scatter the grated carrot on top. Cook the asaparagus for a couple of minutes in the boiling water before adding the mange tout/green beans - how cooked you like them is up to you, but I reckon 2 mins for mange tout and 2-4 for green beans. they should look bright green still.

Meanwhile heat up a large frying pan and add a dash of oil to coat. Lay the chicken slices in, and cook on a high heat until looking crispy (and no longer pink in the middle if you want to check) - should take about 2-3 mins each side. Arrange the mange tout/beans, asparagus and courgette on top of your spinach and carrot, and the cooked chicken. For a quick dressing, whisk together some 4 tbs olive oil, juice of half a lemon and 2 tbs balsamic with 1tbs water. Voila!

Gordon's wine Bar - the perfect meal

Gordon's Wine Bar is already well established as a cult favourite in London. As anyone who tries to go there after 5pm will attest. General practice is to squeeze in with everyone else in the cavernous cellar and hover by tables until one becomes free. You have to be pretty quick though as there are usually about 10 people waiting behind you.

This, however is all part of the charm, its not this packed for nothing. This is one of London's oldest wine bars, and it really is a wine bar, they only serve wine and port, Madeira or sherry from the barrel. The food is another of its all important charms, simplicity is key, but it is done very well. There are homemade pies and massive scotch eggs. But we plumped for the ploughman's, there's a large range to choose from (although I'd have liked more English cheeses), lots of crusty bread, butter, pickled onions, pickle. The portions, it must be said, are massive. We had about 4 ploughman's between 6 of us and I was pretty overwhelmed by the mass of cheese. We managed sot finish it though..

Wine, bread and cheese, all in all the perfect meal. Read more...

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


Most people know Leon as somewhere to get a tasty, healthy lunch on the go without worrying whats in it. The superfood salads are downright delicious, as is the brown rice pilaf and the slaw which accompany most of the bigger dishes.

Anyway, my point, you can also go to Leon for dinner. Its the same yummy food, but served on nice plates with candles and wine. Somehow it works, pick the right Leon (we went to the one in Spitalfields market) and you get a lovely cosy atmosphere, not too many people and cheap (surprisingly good) wine.

We went fo rmy friends birthday and it was perfect for us as really we just wanted somewhere we could get nice food, drink lots and talk all night, which we did for about £20 each. Not bad! Read more...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Carrot Cake

This picture probably doesn't do it justice, but this is the easiest, tastiest carrot cake recipe ever. Its an american recipe, so uses cups, always a good thing in my book, no measuring! It also uses oil instead of butter, so the finished cake is moist and lasts for ages. You can have it as is, or add a little orange zest and juice, chopped walnuts, raisins. My friend (possibly the best cake maker I know) found this recipe a few years ago and since then I don't think we've veered from it. Everybody loves it and wants the recipe, but so far, I've managed to resist giving it, until now...

I've been a bit vague with the amount of carrots, but I can never be bothered to grate and measure 3 cups of carrots, so I usually grate roughly 3 medium carrots. The whole point is to use a cheap ingredient (carrot) to bulk the cake out, so it won't matter if you veer slightly with quantities.

I also had a bit of a disaster with the icing, hence the runny look. I usually just beat a small tub of cream cheese with a couple of tbsps of sifted icing sugar and maybe a squeeze of lime juice. This time I used orange juice instead (I used the zest in the cake), who knows, maybe I used too much juice, so beware!

2 cups sugar
2 cups plain flour ( a mix of wholewheat and white is nice)
1 tsp salt
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs
3 medium carrots, grated

This couldn't be simpler, mix all the ingredients except the carrots in a bowl, add the carrots et voila! This makes enough for a generous sandwich cake or works well as muffins. I've also made it in a large rectangle tin and spread icing on top to make cake slabs. Read more...

Potato, Onion and Goat's Cheese Tart

Mmmm this tart was delicious. In a bid to use my new heart shaped tin,we found this recipe on the BBC Good Food website, which I think is a lot better than the BBC food website, there's still the mine of recipes but you get great pictures, new and innovative recipes without the rubbish Ready Steady Cook recipes.

Seen as though we cheated and used ready made pastry, this recipe was super easy. Make sure you cook the potato and onion until they're really soft and caramelised. This tart is also really rich, so you only really need a salad to go with it or some simply cooked vegetables.



Saturday, 19 April 2008

Spaghetti with tomato and almond pesto

This is based on a recipe from Jamie's Italy, its a delicous variation on pesto using almond instead of pine nuts and squishing the mixture into lovely ripe tomatoes to make a fresh and tasty sauce. Make sure you use good quality tomatoes, definitely not cold from the fridge, I used cherry tomatoes because they look prettier.


100g almonds
1 bunch basil
1 clove garlic
100g grated parmesan (I also cheated and used strong cheddar instead)
200g tomatoes, cut into small pieces
200g linguine or spaghetti

Blitz the almonds in a food processor and put them in a bowl with the tomatoes. Blend the basil and the garlic, add to the bowl along with the cheese. Add a generous slug of oil to moisten, season and stir. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water. Drain, return to the pan, add the pesto and stir to coat. Cover with a lid and leave for a few mins to allow everything to warm up. Read more...

Friday, 18 April 2008

Spanish Omelette

I had a friend at school who's mum was Spanish and made THE best spanish omelette ever. Since then I've tried many times, unsuccessfully, to make anything as good. For some reason the potatoes were never soft enough, or it tasted too bland.

Anyway, in one of those 'what to eat' moments last night, we came up with spanish omelette and it actually turned out pretty good. Although, it has to be said, this wasn't entirely down to me...

The key I think is to slice the potato really thinly, and cook them really slowly in a genrous amount of oil until soft. Season the potatoes and the beaten eggs liberally. And, naturally have it with beans or ketchup.

1 onion, finely chopped
1 large baking potato, quartered lengthways and sliced thinly
4 eggs
a splash of milk

Fry the potatoes and onions slowly in a liberal glug of oil in a non stick pan for at least 20mins until soft. Season with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, whisk the eggs with the milk, season well. Pour the eggs over the potatoes, turn the heat down and cook for 10-15mins until it looks nearly set on top. Place a plate on top of the pan, turn over and slide the omelette (carefully!) back into the pan, cook for 5 mins more. Or, you can always do it the easy way and finish it under the grill once its nearly set.

Some variations include adding sliced mushrooms to the potato and onion; using leeks instead of onion and adding peas and crumbled feta with the egg; adding thinly sliced roasted pepper or chopped herbs such as parsley or chives with the eggs. Although maybe now I'm straying into fritatta territory... Read more...

Thursday, 17 April 2008

Mushroom Stroganoff

When I'm not craving cheese and carbs, I usually want some sort of stew with a rich sauce you can pour over mashed potato or couscous to soak up all the juices, winter comfort food. This mushroom stroganoff dish is one such dish, flavoured with sherry and paprika.

This looks like a lot of mushroom but believe me they cook down a lot, to my disappointment when making this. A mixture of mushrooms is best, the more wild mushrooms you use, the more luxurious it is, in the absence of wild mushrooms, I made mine with chestnut and it tasted just fine.

I also had it with Bulgar wheat, partly in an effort to be more healthy, but also because I prefer the nutty grain to cous cous. You basically soak it like cous cous, but for a lot longer (30mins), make sure you don't add too much water as it can become a bit slimy if all the water isn't absorbed.

750g mushrooms, sliced
1 onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
1 glass white wine
½ tbsp paprika
½ small tub soured cream
½ bunch chopped parsley

Fy the onions in a little oil soft, add the mushrooms, leave to cook down, stirring occasionally. Add the paprika, fry for a few mins, then add the sherry. Let it bubble away until most of the alcohol has evaporated. Take the pan off the heat, when you're ready to serve, stir in the soured cream and season to taste. Sprinkle with parsley. Read more...

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Guardian Comment

Credit crunch? The real crisis is global hunger. And if you care, eat less meat. Read more...

Stuff on Toast

Ahh, the perfect after work snack. Now everyone knows how to make toast, I'm not going to wax lyrical about, more just share a few ideas that I gathered (mostly from my flatmate Rose). My current favourite is to mash half an avocado onto a piece of toast, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little oil and a squeeze of lemon juice et voilá! Another good one is to rub the toast with a little garlic, slice some tomatoes, sprinkle with salt and pepper, drizzle with a little oil and balsamic. This obviously benefits from using good quality tomatoes, not cold from the fridge. Also, you can't really beat cheddar and sliced gherkins, seriously.

The 'toast' part can make all the difference too, good quality bread is an obvious one, but you can also get delicious rice cake, crispbread things too, honestly. Try Dr Karg Crispbread, amazing! I can also always go in for rice cakes spread liberally with cottage cheese (Longley Farm is the best) or hummus. Read more...

Monday, 14 April 2008

Noodle Soup

This is one of those spicy, warming, comforting soups you can get in noodle bars that inevitably get slurped all over your front. It is actually an incredibly fast and easy recipe and you end up with a wonderfully tasty soup. I make this a variation on salad, you can pack it full of vegetables and the delicious broth not only makes everything taste good, it fills you up too. You can have it with or without noodles, I find its easier to cook the noodles separately and then ladle the soup over otherwise everything gets all tangled up.


Serves 2
500g Selection of vegetables cut into equal sized pieces (e.g. mushroom slices, carrot and courgette batons, pak choy, finely sliced)
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 chillis, finely chopped
1tbsp grated ginger
1tbsp miso paste
600ml vegetable stock
200g cooked noodles
Coriander to serve

Fry the vegetables for a minute or two in a little oil. Meanwhile dissolve the miso paste in the stock and pour over the vegetables. Bring to the boil, turn down to a simmer and add the garlic, ginger and chilli, simmer for a few mins until the flavours have infused. Allow to cool a little and pour over the waiting noodles, sprinkle with coriander. Simple as that! Read more...

Fish Stew

I've only just started eating fish, I gave up after reading one too many depressing articles on over-fishing. I'm dipping my toe in the water again, as it were, as I realised I could eat fish every so often as a treat as long as it is well sourced. Rules that I work by are I don't buy tuna or cod, I avoid farmed fish, I try to buy fish caught in the UK and preferably line caught. Fish online have a fantastic website with a really useful guide on the fish to eat and the fish to avoid.

Preaching over, we made this stew as a bit of fishy treat. Its based on a wonderful recipe by Nigel Slater and is sort of a cheats bouillabaisse. The idea is to start by making a fragrant tomato broth, that I've actually eaten on its own as a sauce for pasta, then gently cook your fish in the liquor, sprinkle with parsley and enjoy. Its good to have a mixture of white meaty fish and mussels, clams and prawns. Buy whatever is sustainable and looks good, most combinations work well. Oh yes and serve with plenty of bread and butter to mop up the juices, we had Wholemeal soda bread.

Quick Fish Stew

Serves 4

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
6 anchovy cloves, sliced
2 red chillis, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
A couple strips of orange peel
2 bay leaves
1 glass white wine
2 cans chopped tomatoes
500ml vegetable stock
1.5kg assorted fish (plus some mussels or clams a handful per person)
1 bunch chopped parsley

Cook the anchovies, chilli and garlic slowly in a generous slug of olive oil until soft, add the bay and orange and cook for a few mins to release the aromatic orange oil. Add the white wine and let the alcohol bubble off for a few mins. Now add the chopped tomatoes. (If i were going to eat this sauce with pasta, I'd stop here and simmer for about 20mins and maybe throw in a few capers before serving). Add the stock and simmer for about 30mins until all the flavours have melded, carefully drop your fish in and simmer until the fish turns opaque, add the clams and mussels, cover and cook until they open. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.


Friday, 11 April 2008

Camden Arts Cafe

Staying out late, not making lunch and working on Finchley Road mean that my options for lunch are pretty limited, usually to Waitrose (surprisingly unappetising) sandwiches. Anyway, a lunch date and a bit of googling led me to the Camden Arts Cafe, the kind of place you could happily while away an afternoon in (if you didn't have to work).

The food was really good in the sense that they use seasonal ingredients and you can tell its all been made there. I opted for the panini which was probably a bit boring, but nice none the less, we also had a small salad plate of exciting salads with lovely soft bread. The soup looked good as did the other various tarts and salads in the fridge. The pastrami sandwich is worth trying too.

I have a feeling I'll be spending a lot more time there... Read more...

The Big Bang

Working at The Big Bang during my student days, the free meal we got at the end of the shift was seriously the highlight of my day. Sad as that might be, this is the best sausage and mash ever. The Big Bang only serve sausage and mash, but they are testament to doing something simple really well. Plus, they are loads of different sausages and mash, so really there are loads of variations. It all comes with peas and red cabbage, this is what sets them apart for me.

I always have the mushroom and tarragon sausages, by far the nicest veggie sausages. The pork and apple though is probably the best meaty one. I always have mustard mash too, but the rose mash (bright pink due to beetroot) is another good one.

Since I was last there, I'm sure the portions have shrunk, but they're still pretty big. The service is also a bit 'friendly' , but all in all, definitely worth visiting Oxford for. Read more...

Thursday, 10 April 2008

The Florence

The Florence on Dulwich Road is not your traditional pub, but more in the vein of the trendy gastropubs that are everywhere now. This is not a bad thing, its spacious, airy, full of comfy couches, perfect for a Sunday gathering of friends or a cosy date. All this and they have Aspall's cider and house red and white on tap too!

The most important thing, the food, is pretty good. In that its exactly the kind of thing you want to eat after a few too many pints. Burgers, bangers and mash, pies... all very reasonably priced too.

We went for a hotdog topped with fried onions, which was pretty damn good. Anything topped with fried onions is good in my book. We also had little cheddar and pea pasties, not really pasties, more delicate than that and the filling was a bit too pureed, but they tasted delicious.

The Bishop on Lordship Lane seems to be in the same group of pubs, the food is equally good as is the atmosphere. Read more...

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Bean Chilli

You may think this looks like a bowl of beany mush, and you'd be right, it is. But therein lies the joy, bean chilli and various versions of it are delicious and nutritious, and can also be used in a million different ways (slight exaggeration)!

I love it simply with bulghar wheat or rice and yoghurt. But you could have it with pasta, in a lasagne, with tortillas, sour cream and guacamole, the list goes on...The great thing is, it will improve overnight and hence can and should be cooked in advance, plus you can make loads and freeze the leftovers, which is always nice.

I like to add red lentils to my chilli to thicken the sauce and as a different texture. I also (shock, horror) cooked the beans from dried and didn't soak them. From experience cooking vast stockpots of beans at Piece of Plenty, I realised that you don't need to soak them and the key is really to just cook them for long enough (which is a long time). But, its no bother, they don't come to any real harm puttering away on the hob and you can get on with other things in the meantime. One word of warning, when cooking mung beans, for some reason, the point between being cooked perfectly and turning to mush is very close together, so when they look nearly done, you might need to watch them a little more closely.

Cocoa might seem a slightly strange addition to chilli, but as long as you don't add too much (which I have before), its not overpowering but simply adds a richness.

Bean Chilli

Serves 4

  • 2 onions, finely diced
  • 2 red chillis, finely chopped (remove the seeds if you don't like it hot)
  • 4 fat cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red pepper, finely diced
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 2 x 400g cans of any beans, or 200g dried beans, cooked
  • 150g red lentils
  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 400ml water
  • 1tbsp tomato paste
  • 1tbsp cocoa
Fry the onions, pepper, garlic and chilli until soft. Add the spices and fry for a little longer, now add the rest of ingredients except the cocoa and simmer gently for about 30mins or until the lentils are cooked, now add the cocoa and cook for 5mins. Season to taste. Read more...

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

Pasta with brocolli, anchovy and chilli

This was inspired by a fabulous italian restuarant in Bloomsbury called Ciao Bella. They do really tasty reasonably priced Italian food. Anyway, I had this dish and it was amazing! Loads of garlic, anchovy and oil, everything you need for a good meal!

So, a week or so later, when deciding what to have for lunch, I recreated that dish, only this time with lovely purple sprouting brocolli. The key with this dish, I think is not overcook the brocolli, it needs to be soft but not mush

Pasta with brocolli, anchovy and chilli
Serves 4

  • 350g short pasta
  • 200g brocolli, cut into small florets, the stems sliced finely
  • 6 anchovy fillets
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 75ml olive oil
  • grated parmesan to serve
Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water until al dente. Heat the oil in a frying pan and cook the garlic and anchovy until soft, add the brocolli and fry for a few mins. Now add a splash of water, cover with a lid and steam until the brocolli is cooked. Add the cooked pasta, some parmesan and seasoning, stir to coat the pasta and enjoy. Read more...

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Banana Bread

Banana bread is possibly one of my favourite cakes, definitely as a sweet treat to perk me up in the afternoon (tea a necessary accompaniment). The key with banana bread is that the bananas need to be really really ripe, almost completely black and ready for the bin, these will make the moistest bread. If you've only one banana that is ripe enough, I've frozen them in the past and it actually works ok, they look disgusting when they defrost, but make good cake.

The cake above is from a recipe featured in the Guardian guide to baking, and the recipe is by Dan Lepard, a bit of a baking legend, he actually has a weekly column every week in the guardian. I find his recipes slightly more complicated and involved than the usual cake recipe, but the cakes themselves are lovely and worth the effort.

This recipe involves cooking the bananas in caramel before mixing into the cake mixture, so you end up with toffee coloured caramel banana bread, delicious.

That said, you can't really beat a classic banana bread. I always use the Nigella version, why would you use anything else? You can always trust a Nigella recipe, this it taken from How to be a Domestic Goddess , although not my favourite Nigella book, anyone who wants to bake should not be without it. Read more...

Friday, 4 April 2008

Salad à la Rose

In an effort to be healthy... this is a salad Rose whipped up for us. I'm a big fan of most vegetables raw, as long as they're cut small enough. With healthy food and indeed anything you plan to eat, its really important to feed the eyes... I'm a sucker for anything that looks really pretty.

We used pretty much everything we had in the fridge, amongst other things; cherry tomatoes, spring onions and spinach which we shredded.I think these thinly sliced carrots look fab, (you do it by running a peeler over the top of a carrot) and they were only borne out of Rose's hatred for grating carrots! You can't see them but we put peas in too, the sweetness in a really welcome addition in this. I also love toasted seeds in salads, especially those toasted seedy sprinkles you can buy, then you don't have to bother toasting your own. Pine nuts are particularly delicious in this, but then pine nuts are delicious in everything!

The mustard dressing I mentioned in the Winter Coleslaw blog would go really well with this, but we actually just used lemon juice and olive oil, with the key ingredient, garlic, it makes everything tasty, believe me. Read more...

Super Easy Bread Recipe

I made this bread to go with an amazing fish stew that my friend Kat and I made. We made it out of desperation really, as it was late on a Sunday and there was nowhere decent to buy bread. Anyway, the point of the story is that this took less than a hour from start to the picture below and its delicious! I don't normally go in for bread making, I can leave it to the experts, but this is easy peasy, try it!

Also, I love the fact that it doesn't contain yeast, for health reasons and the fact that we made this out of ingredients we already had!

Wholemeal Soda Bread

  • 400ml buttermilk (or 400ml milk with a squeeze of lemon juice left to sour for 5mins)
  • 350g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 175g wholemeal flour,
  • 50g butter , straight from the fridge, diced
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
Rub the cubes of butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add the rest of the dry ingredients and mix. Add the nearly all the milk and mix carefully until you form a slightly sticky dough. Add the rest of the liquid or more flour if you need to. Flour a surface, tip the dough out and shape into a rough round. Cut a cross into the top of the dough, brush with oil, sprinkle with sea salt and bake at 180°C for 25-30mins until golden. To test if its done, tap the bottom and it should sound hollow. Serve with plenty of butter dipped into homemade soup. Read more...

Thursday, 3 April 2008

Leeky Chessy Pasta

Yes, this is the title, I can think of none better. This is based very loosely on a recipe from Cranks Bible, my favourite vegetarian cook book ever. Although, really, it is borne out of my desire to eat cheese and pasta most days...

Start by finely slicing some leeks and cooking really gently in butter and a little oil until soft and sweet. Meanwhile cook your pasta until al dente. Add some finely chopped garlic to the leeks a sprinkling of bouillon powder and a handful of frozen peas with enough water to just cover the peas, simmer for a few minutes until the water has reduced and the peas are soft. Then, depending on how decadent you're feeling, stir in either a pot of creme fraiche or mascarpone, mascarpone being the richer, (much) fattier version of the two. Finish with a squeeze of lemon juice, ½tsp dijon mustard and seasoning to taste. Stir in the pasta with some grated cheese and enjoy sans guilt, think of all those vegetables!

Whilst making the version pictured and enjoying a mid-week bottle of pinot, I thought it would be nice to add some to the peas. I'm still undecided, it was nice, but I'm not sure whether I add added too much wine, didn't boil off enough alcohol or it just didn't work. Hmmm... Read more...

Tuesday, 1 April 2008


Another night, more fabulous food that I didn't make. This time its Fujiyama, a local, tastier, better value for money version of the ubiquitous noodle chains all over London. The sushi comes highly recommended and is worth a try. But don't forget the noodles and rice dishes, all superb. Try the yaki udon and cha han.

Although, probably best not to try the sushi with someone allergic to fish as I did, puffy red faces all round. Read more...