Monday, 30 June 2008


Mmm.. the perfect snack and a great way to use up any veg lurking in the bottom of the fridge. Feel free to experiment with this recipe, its all about using up what you have. I didn't have tortillas so used pitta instead and it worked perfectly well.

Serves 4

Black Bean Paste
1 can black beans (borlotti beans will do), drained
1 tsp ground coriander
½ tsp ground cumin
1 bunch coriander, chopped, stalks and all
Juice of 1 lime
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp Maldon sea salt

8 tortillas

some spring onions, sliced
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 avocados, diced
125g cheddar, grated
2 handfuls spinach, finely sliced
1 small tub soured cream
Some jalapeƱo chillies in vinegar or sliced red chilli as garnish

To make the black bean paste, either blend or mash all the ingredients together. Preheat a griddle pan. To assemble the quesadilla, spread 2tbsp of the bean mixture on the tortilla, makingsure you leave a border, add a tbsp of the soured cream and spread also. Next sprinkle over some cheese, tomato, spring onion, avocado and spinach. Finally topping with the chilli. Fold the tortilla in half and carefully place onto the griddle pan, cook for a few mins on each time, until the cheese is bubbling and the filling is warmed through, cut into slices and eat with plenty of napkins! Read more...

Sunday, 29 June 2008

Egg mayo sandwich

This is a slightly posher version of your standard egg mayonnaise sandwich. Use good quality bread, add some herbs and capers and you're onto a winner. Its also about boiling the eggs so they're just set and the yolk is still creamy.


makes 2 sandwiches

3 eggs
1tsp capers, chopped
1tsp chopped chives
4 slices sourdough
1tbsp mayonnaise
handful salad leaves
cucumber and tomato, finely sliced

Cover the eggs with water and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat, cover and leave for exactly 7mins. Meanwhile toast the bread and butter lightly. Peel the eggs and mash, season generously and add the capers, chives and mayonnaise. Stir thoroughly and sandwich with the lettuce, tomato and cucumber. Enjoy! Read more...

Friday, 27 June 2008

Beetroot Cake

Don't be put off by the title, think carrot cake...

I've started getting an Abel and Cole veg box, which I really love. They also do lots of other products, so I've been getting eggs delivered every week and I've just ordered some mackerel caught off the coast of Cornwall, that's some sustainable fish. As lovely as it is having all these vegetables at my disposal, I am only one person and there was a lot of veg, I got through most of it, but was left with some sad looking beetroots at the bottom of the fridge. Now, I love beetroot and it can be used in all manner of ways, (I'm thinking beetroot and mackerel salad next week) but this cake recipe caught my eye and I do always like to have cake around. I added some oats to this too, so it is positively healthy eating.


200g raw beetroot, peeled and grated (about 2-3 medium beetroot)
100g sultanas, soaked in boiling water and drained
150g sugar
3 eggs
150ml sunflower oil
1tbsp baking powder
150g plain flour
100g porridge oats
2tsp cinnamon

Whisk the eggs, oil and sugar together. Then fold in the flour, oats, baking powder and cinnamon. Finally, fold in the beetroot and sultanas, Mix thoroughly and pour into a greased and lined cake tin. Bake for about an hour at 180°C. This worked well in a 20cm round cake tin, but I think would also make a nice loaf cake. Next time I think I will also try icing it with some sort of cream cheese icing. Read more...

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Fatty Sandwich

This sandwich literally dripped with fat (well, oil) and therein lies the beauty. Thankfully, I wasn't eating this, I had the lighter cheese sandwich option, this was for my friend who incidentally is a boy and therefore has an insatiable urge to ingest calories. Anyway this came about by me frying everything that looked tasty in the fridge. Namely, onions, cooked slowly in thin slices, then bacon and finally a fried egg, sandwiched in a thick ciabatta roll, one side with melted cheese on. Like I said, a fatty sandwich, but amazing all the same, you could remove the bacon to make this veggie and lose none of the fatty goodness. It could probably have done with some salad, but we didn't have any, oh well...


Tuesday, 24 June 2008

Sausage and Lentil Casserole

This is a classic from university when 5 of us used to take it in turns to cook for each other on a weekly rota. This is a rich, intense stew, lovely little puy lentils cooked in a red wine and tomato sauce with sausages. The lentils can easily be substituted for other beans, cannelini, butter, flagelot etc.The beauty is, you use cheap as chips ingredients to bulk out the more expensive sausages. (Make sure you buy good quality sausages)

Make up lots of this as it will improve the next day as well as freezing well should there be any left over. Have it with mashed potato, crusty bread, pasta, rice, couscous. My friend Jen came up with this and used to cut up potatoes into little cubes and roast them with rosemary. Possibly the best bit...


Seves 4

8 sausages, about 450g, sliced
2 onions, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
A couple of sprigs of rosemary
a strip orange zest
½ glass red wine
450g puy lentils
2 cans chopped tomatoes

  • Heat a little oil in a large heavy based saucepan, fry the sausages on a high heat until they begin to brown, they don't need to be cooked through, just begininning to colour and singed brown in places.
  • Remove the sausages, and fry the onions in the same saucepan on a low heat until softened, add the garlic, rosemary and orange zest and fry for a few mins more.
  • Pour in the wine, turn the heat up and allow it to bubble until half has evaporated off.
  • Add the lentils and sausages back to the pan, stir thoroughly and add the tomatoes. bring to the boil and simmer gently for 20-30mins until the lentils are cooked through, top up with water or stock as necessary.


Monday, 23 June 2008

Quick and Easy Steak

Obviously I don't eat meat. I just bought this as a present for someone... (I knew they would prefer it to flowers) That said, I'm not entirely against meat eating, however, I am all for reducing our dependency on bad quality meat and starting to eat less but better quality meat. (This article in Observer Food Monthly makes for interesting reading) Hence the Bristish, organic steak.

When you've good quality meat, there's little you need to do to it other than season it well and cook it properly, more on this later, however, there are some flavours that always go well with steak. Garlic, olive oil and tenderising lemon juice, worcestershire sauce, chilli, paprika, cumin. A splash of balsamic vinegar as the steak is cooking gives a deliciously sweet glaze. Marinade for as long as you have, 30mins-1 hour ought to do it.

When cooking steaks, you need a decent non-stick frying pan or griddle pan. Make sure you heat the pan until it is really smoking hot, I always oil the steak rather than the pan. Place the steak in carefully and leave it for the desired time until it is caramelised on one side, then turn it and cook until done (the timing depends on the thickness of the steak and how you like it cooked, see The Hand Test Technique) . Don't be tempted to keep turning the steak as this is how it sticks to the pan and you will lose juices. Once cooked, remove and cover with foil, allow to rest for 10mins. Resting meat allows the heat and juices to distribute evenly and is a real must. Read more...

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I love eggs and I love scrambled eggs at the weekend. A trip home this weekend meant I got my mum's scrambled eggs, surpassed by non. Now I'm obviously not going to give a recipe for scrambled eggs, just a few tips...

Start with the basics, free range, preferably organic eggs are a must and don't be shy with seasoning. Scrambled eggs need to be cooked in a non-stick frying pan in butter and eaten on well buttered toast. Butter is a perfect partner to eggs (well, its a perfect partner to most things...)

I like my eggs quite soft, remeber that eggs carry on cooking once you take them off the heat, so take them off a little before they look done.

For a decadent twist, whisk your eggs, add them to a hot pan, give them a quick stir and add a tablespoon or two of double cream. Maybe some smoked salmon or cheese, pepper sauce, baked beans... Read more...

Saturday, 21 June 2008


All the tastiest things (olives, anchovies, capers, garlic, parsley) blended into a paste and eaten with pasta. What could be tastier?

This will keep for a few weeks in the fridge, if you cover it with a layer of oil.


200g spaghetti
grated rind and of 1 lemon and juice of ½
small bunch fresh flat leaf parsley
1 tbsp capers
large handful black olives
pinch crushed chilli flakes
4tbsp olive oil
1 large garlic clove
3 anchovy fillets
salt and freshly ground black pepper
parmesan cheese, to serve

Blend everything apart from the parmesan and stir through pasta.

The first night I made this, I had it on its own with spaghetti. The next night, I had lots of things to use up in the fridge. I chopped some tomatoes, added a couple of tablespoons of the pistou, some creme fraiche (my new favourite ingredient), basil and pine nuts. Delicious with pasta.


Thursday, 19 June 2008

Easy Peasy Pizza

With a little inspiration from BBC Good Food and driven by hunger, wine and the lack of food in Tesco Metro, we came up with these little babies when my friends Brid and Jenny came to visit from oxford. Possibly the easiest pizzas ever (apart from the ones that get delivered to your door)

We used Turkish wholemeal flatbreads, but I think even tortillas would do the job as long as you don't put too much topping on otherwise they'll probably go soggy. Spread them with pesto, the better quality the better, and top with halved cherry tomatoes, mozzarella and pepper. Put them in the oven until the cheese melts and is golden, about 15minutes and top with the avocado and maybe some olive oil. Simple as that and honestly, soo tasty.

Since then, I've been thinking of other possibilities... spread onion marmalade on the flatbread and top with goats cheese and some walnuts or pesto, thinly sliced pear, gorgonzola and pine nuts, both topped with some rocket or watercress. Chargilled aubergine, sliced tomatoes, oregano, pine nuts and mozzarella. Anything with anchovies, capers and olives always works well...

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

The Best Chocolate Brownies

It was only a matter of time before these came up... These are based on Nigella's recipe, (how can you go wrong with Nigella?) and give you everything you could want in a brownie, rich, intense, chocolatey, gooey perfection. All I've done is scale down Nigella's recipe so that you get a more manageable mixture that can fit into a smaller tin, which makes it a lot easier to cook.

The key to a good brownie is to use good quality ingredients, the best chocolate you can get and good butter and eggs. The only sticking points might be melting chocolate (see below) and knowing how long to cook the brownies for, its difficult to give exact instructions as all ovens vary, you're looking for the top to have dried to a paler brown and for the middle to be firm but still squidgy. Remember they will continue to cook as they cool. I would always rather an undercooked brownie than an overcooked and its amazing what a few hours in a fridge can do to firm brownies up.

This recipe is a fantastic base to add any number of ingredients to, below are a few ideas, I've not tried all of them, so it would be interesting to know if they are good...

  • Add 150g chopped walnuts or macadamia nuts
  • Substitute 1tbsp Baileys for the vanilla
  • Add the grated zest of 1 orange instead of the vanilla for chocolate orange brownies
  • Add 150g chopped white chocolate just before baking
  • Add 100g peanut butter just before baking
  • Substitute either all or ½ of the flour for ground almonds
  • Add 1tbsp espresso instead of the vanilla for chocolate and coffee brownies

Melting Chocolate
I always melt my chocolate in the microwave and have never had a problem. Now I am not the most patient or careful person, so I thought this technique must be pretty foolproof but, having spoken to friends, it turns out they have problems with chocolate burning, so, I found this website that gives pretty comprehensive tips on melting chocolate. Also, it turns out, you might be able to rescue burnt chocolate by carefully whisking in a little vegetable oil, I've never tried though, so let me know if it works.

190g dark chocolate, broken up
190g butter, cubed
250g caster sugar
3 eggs
2tsp vanilla extract
110g plain flour
½tsp salt

Melt the chocolate and butter together. Meanwhile whisk the eggs and sugar together well until pale. Whisk in the melted chocolate and vanilla, and stir in the flour, salt and any extra ingredients. Transfer to a greased 9in square tin. Bake at 180°C for approx 20mins, keep checking the brownies after about 15mins to see if they're done, a minute can make all the difference between a dry brownie and a squishy one. Read more...

Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Spicy Marinaded lamb

Ok, so I don't eat meat, but in a quest to write more recipes for the soon to be launched OxNosh, I decided to test this one and feed it to meat eating friends, who loved it. Marinading the lamb leaves you with tender and tasty lamb, full of flavour. We actually had it with the chickpea burgers below.

As with any marinade, the longer you leave it, the better. So ideally, you want to leave this in the fridge overnight. We left it for only a hour though and it was perfectly delicious. This recipe is made for the barbecue, you really want to sear the meat on the outside and leave it pink in the middle, failing that a smoking hot pan will do the job.

4 lamb rump steaks
1 lemon, juiced
1tsp salt
2 sprigs thyme (or 1tsp dried thyme)
2 red chillis
2 cloves garlic
1tsp ground coriander
½tsp cinnamon
½tsp turmeric
1tbsp olive oil
200g yoghurt

Add the lemon juice, salt and thyme to lamb, rub it into the flesh and set aside. Meanwhile whizz the rest of the marinade ingredients (except the yoghurt) until smooth and season, or just chop everything finely and mix. Add this paste to the yoghurt, mix and pour over the lamb, make sure you coat the lamb and rub in the marinade well. Leave for at least 1 hour, ideally overnight. Cook the lamb on each side for 6-8 minutes. Allow to rest for a few minutes and slice thinly.

Serve with hummus, tzatziki, toasted pitta and salad.

Monday, 16 June 2008

Chickpea burgers

These little cakes are a delicious alternative to falafel, serve with pitta, yoghurt, salad and the tomato salsa below. These are also really easy to make, literally mashing chickpeas and frying them. Some obligatory fried onions obviously work a treat here too. This makes enough for 4 people, but I bet these also freeze really well , so worth making a big batch.

I always buy my chickpeas either from an indian grocery shop or in the 'ethnic' section of the supermarket, they are so much nicer than the supermarket.

1 onion, chopped
1tsp cumin seeds
small piece ginger, grated
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped
2tsp ground coriander
1tsp garam masala
½tsp ground cumin
3 cans chickpeas, drained
1 small bunch chopped coriander
50g flour

Tomato Salsa
5 ripe tomatoes, chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
½ lime, juiced

To make the salsa, mix the ingredients together, season well and set aside for the flavours to mingle.

Fry the onions in a little oil for a few mins, then add the cumin seeds, garlic and ginger and fry for a few mins more. Add the chickpeas, chilli and the rest of the spices. Stir well and season. Blend half the mixture until smooth, add the rest of the chickpeas and coriander. Take 1 tbsp of mixture and shape into a ball, flatten and dust with flour, repeat with the rest of the mixture and chill for 30mins. Read more...

Sunday, 15 June 2008

Huevos Rancheros

Huevos rancheros is the perfect brunch, something a bit more special than your average fry up. Its basically eggs fried/poached in a spicy tomato salsa. I've seen recipes where you fry the eggs separately and add the salsa on top, but I prefer cooking the eggs in the sauce.

If you were being authentic, you would eat this with tortillas, and you certainly wouldn't put baked beans in it. But, one, I love baked beans and two, I couldn't be bothered to go out and buy tortillas, I think it is nicer with them though.

Huevos Rancheros

Serves 2 hungry people

1 onion
1 red pepper
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli
4 ripe tomatoes (or 1 can chopped tomatoes)
all finely chopped
½ can baked beans (optional! )
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp paprika
4 free range eggs
toast/tortillas to serve

Fry the onions and peppers in a little oil until softened, add the garlic, chilli and spices and fry for a fruther few mins, now add the tomatoes, season and stir well. Simmer for 10-15mins until you have a rich tomato salsa, add a little water if necessary), now stir in the beans. Make a little hole in a corner of your pan and gently crack an egg in, repeat with the rest of the eggs. Turn the heat up and cover, cook for 5-10mins until the eggs are cooked as you like them. A little extra chilli sauce is also very good here, as is grated cheese. Read more...

Saturday, 14 June 2008

Custard Tarts

I love going out for coffee and the weekend always seems like the perfect time to do so. We ended up going to a little deli in Dulwich Village and when I saw these custard tarts, I couldn't resist.

Oh my god, they were amazing! flaky pastry, rich vanilla custard, a hint of nutmeg... Honestly, the best custard tart I've ever eaten. I bought two more to take home and the next day they were still reassuringly amazing. This has now made me somewhat obsessed and I'm going to try and make my own as soon as possible. watch this space...


Friday, 13 June 2008

Pasta with blue cheese and walnuts

This is a seriously easy pasta sauce. Basically just stir some blue cheese, a little chopped garlic and some chopped walnuts into (hot) cooked pasta. The cheese melts and forms a silky sauce for the pasta. This is amazing if you REALLY love blue cheese otherwise, it can be a bit strong, in which case, add a spoonful or two of creme fraiche to dilute the effect. Read more...

Thursday, 12 June 2008

The Best Carrot Salad

This is possibly the simplest, easiest salad to make, but is such a delight, serve it with simple dressed leaves alongside anything. Goes particularly well in a sandwich with hummus. I pretty much eat this with every meal.

Grate as many carrots as you like. One carrot per person is a good estimate for a side salad. Add some finely chopped garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and seasoning. Theres your basic salad. I usually add either spring onions or some finely chopped red onion. Toasted seeds are also a must, sunflower or pumpkin. A little bit of chilli is nice too. In this picture I added some finely sliced fennel too because it was in my veg.

Also, see this recipe in The Guardian for a japanese version Read more...

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Loveliest Daal

A lovely bowl of soft comforting daal. Eat with rice and naan. Counts as one of your 5-a-day too. Its worth making loads of this as it lasts really well and freezes superbly.

1 onion, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
small piece ginger, finely chopped
1 red chilli, finely chopped
½ tsp turmeric
2tsp ground coriander
2tsp ground cumin
1tbsp curry powder
500g daal
4tbsp creamed coconut
1½tsp sugar
1tsp salt
1litre vegetable stock

Cook the onions in a little oil for 5mins, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a further few mins. Next add the spices, allow to sizzle a bit and add your lentils. Stir to make sure the spicy mixture coats the daal, add the creamed coconut, salt, sugar and stock. Simmer gently for 30mins at least... its hard to say how long it will takes, it all depends on the daal you use. I didn't soak my lentils and they took about 45mins. Just keep an eye on them and add extra water as necessary. Remember that they will continue to absorb water as they cook so you probably want to end up with a slightly runny sauce. Read more...

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Whte Chocolate Brownies

You must seriously make these, they're a revelation, sweet and gooey. The first time I tried them, I loved them so much I pretty much baked them continuously until they made me feel a bit sick. Now don't do that, but do bake them. They are about a million calories in each brownie, but why eat a brownie that doesn't? It pretty much guarantees it will be tasty.


500g white chocolate
75g butter
175g sugar
3 eggs
175g selfraising flour
1tsp salt
2tsp vanilla
175g chopped hazelnuts

Melt 100g white chocolate with the butter. Meanwhile, whisk the sugar and eggs, next whisk in the butter chocolate mixture and vanilla and fold in the flour. Chop the rest of the chocolate, add this to the mixture with the hazelnuts. Pour into a 20cm tin and bake at 180°C for 30mins until firm on top, but still al little squidgy, the brownie will carry on cooking whilst it cools. This makes enough for about 16 squares. Read more...

Monday, 9 June 2008

Spring Courgette Pasta

My friend Kat introduced me to this way of cooking courgettes, apparently they do it in Carluccio's... Anyway, its completely won me over, I love this way of doing it, its so simple and no more soggy, slimy courgettes. Try adding a spoonful or two of creme fraiche at the end.

Although I had this with pasta, it could also work really well in some kind of hot salad with feta.


Serves 2

2-3 courgettes, grated coarsley
200g pasta
2 cloves garlic
1 red chilli, finely chopped
25g butter
½ lemon
Good quality extra virgin olive oil
parmesan to serve
handful basil

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling water. Meanwhile, cook the grated courgettes in the butter with the garlic and chilli until softened and beginning to brown in places. Add the drained pasta to the pan along with a glug of olive oil. Stir well so that the pasta is coated evenly, season well and add a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Serve with some grated parmesan and a few shredded basil leaves.


Sunday, 8 June 2008

Fish Pie

Loosely based on a recipe by Gordon Ramsey, this is seriously the best fish pie I've ever tasted. He makes it topped with puff pastry, but why miss a chance to use mashed potato? Use any combination of fish you like (see fish online), prawns or scallops would be a particularly decadent addition. some kind of salad with a mustardy dressing and maybe some capers goes well with this.

Fish Pie

Serves 6

1.5kg floury potatoes
100ml milk
50g butter
2 onions, finely chopped
250ml dry vermouth
375ml stock
½tsp english mustard
½ lemon, juiced
200g creme fraiche
400g trout fillet, cut into small pieces
600g white fish fillet (such as pollack, coley), cut into small pieces
1 samll bunch parsley chopped
handful basi leaves, shredded

Peel the potatoes and cook in boiling water until very soft. Mash the potatoes with the milk and butter and season well. Meanwhile, fry the onions in a little oil until softened. Add the vermouth and boil until reduced by half, add the stock and boil until reduced by half again. Add the creme fraiche, mustard and lemon juice, cook gently until thickened and season. Add the fish and herbs to the sauce, mix well and transfer to an ovenproof dish. Top with the mashed potato and cook at 180°C for 30mins until golden brown on top. Allow to stand for 5mins before serving.


Saturday, 7 June 2008

A Good Food Day

Today was a good food day, especially as I didn't cook any of it (Sunday will be my cooking day). First stop was a late lunch at Green and Blue, what a fabulous place, they are primarily a wine shop and deli, with a cafe next door where they serve all the delicious food they sell in the deli. A lot is homemade, what isn't is excellently sourced. not to mention the wine, mmmm.. you can pick any bottle from the shop and drink in the cafe.

Seen as though it was already 3pm by the time we sat down to lunch, it only seemed proper to start things off with a little bellini (and some more prosecco later..). My friend Rose had the leek and spinach quiche which was rich and tasty served with a salad full of veggies. I had the smoked haddock and leek pie, amazing! Rich buttery pastry filled with creamy haddock filling. The perfect lunch.

An afternoon of drinking ensued (and some chippy chips about 6pm), by 11pm I had the munchies, we thought we'd just get a rubbish burger, but then we stumbled on the lovely Hisar on Lorsdship Lane, a kebab shop with a difference, first of all, you can have a beer whilst you're waiting at one of the little tables with cushiony seat, secondly this is top quality kebab food. I had the falafel, loads of big crsipy chickpea bites with hummus, tzsatiki, chilli sauce and salad, the perfect after pub meal!


Pasta with Tomato and Creamy Pesto

This is a summery fresh dish dreamt up by using what was in my friend Jen's fridge, and pretty good it came out too. We fried some muhrooms and garlic, added them to pasta with pesto and a dollop of yoghurt, then we added fresh tomato at the end. We used vine tomatoes, but cherry tomatoes would be particularly lovely here, use the best quality you can, preferably local.

Pasta with Tomato and Creamy Pesto


Serves 4

400g penne or any other short pasta
250g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
250g tomatoes, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 tbsp pine nuts
4 tbsp pesto, preferably homemade
4 tbsp yoghurt, any will do
Parmesan and fresh basil to serve

Cook the pasta in plenty of salted boiling water. Meanwhile fry the mushrooms in a little oil, after a few mins add the garlic anf pine nuts, continue cooking until the mushroom are cooked and the pine nuts are toasty brown. Add to thhe drained pasta along with the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and season, leave covered for a minute or two to allow everything to warm up and the flavours to mingle. Read more...