Category Vegetables and Salads

Chilled Iranian Pistachio and Cucumber Soup

Jess - Iranian pistachio soup


ne of my favourite restaurants in London is Dock Kitchen by Stevie Parle. The style, flavours and creations resonate with my own using the best ingredients and sticking a finger up to the gadgets and modern methods that have infiltrated our restaurants recently. With no particular genre as such Stevie’s style seems to be a collaboration of inspiration from various adventures and culinary travels but with a lean towards middle Eastern in places. With a rather eclectic style myself I was delighted to know that it was the venue for our office Summer party last year. With a tempting menu of absolutely mouth watering courses that would sit wholeheartedly at my dinner table on cloud nine I was excited initially to try the much talked about ‘Lamb biryani with black cumin, coriander and almonds which was baked with love and warmth in an earthy clay pot and sealed protectively with a dough lid. With what could have been a miniature chisel, it gets delivered with elegance and flecked with gold leaf to the hungry guests and forcefully cracked open revealing succulent chunks of tender lab, rice and aromats.  Shamefully amongst the starters of fattoush, labneh and chicken livers, this dreamy main and the simple sweets I didn’t even give this pistachio dish a second glance.




t was delivered to the now raucous and wine lubricated guesses as a humble ‘palate’ cleanser pre-main event. I’ll admit, it didn’t ever really stand a chance grabbing our attention as the scent of lamb trickled under our hungry noses but its vibrant colour oozing freshness, greenery and curiosity caught my attention on first sight and even more so on taste.

I’m not your biggest gazpacho eater or one for cucumber in anything but salads and Pimms but after just a vary mouthful of this chilled, textured and complex soup I was dying to know how it was made. It instantly placed itself royally on my to cook list and after searching for a mimic recipe I was delighted to find one and be enlightened into the ingredients. Again, shamefully over half a year later I finally gathered the short list of simple ingredients and concocteed this treat for lunch on a Spring sunny lunch.

Complex, intriguing and all so moreish it is one to try for a taste of Stevie’s culinary brain from your own home. I’m certainly due another visit not only for their chicken livers in seven spice and pomegranate molasses that is still on my ‘To cook’ list slightly below this Iranian soup but for their dynamically changing menu. It is an ideal location on a summers day when you can enjoy their gorgeous roof terrace with a glass of something chilled and ideally effervescent in your favourite sunglasses that have been in hibernation for far too long.

Serves 4

  • 75g fresh green pistachios
  • 75g blanched almonds
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 cucumber, roughly chopped
  • 100g red grapes
  • Bunch mint, leaves picked
  • Sprig dill
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • Juice 1/2 lemon
  • Salt and pepper
  • Rose petals to serve
  1. Place the nuts and garlic in a food processor and blend until a fine powder.
  2. Add a splash of water and blend again
  3. Next, add most of the grapes, saving some for garnish, the cucumber, the mint and the dillJess - Iranian pistachio soup3
  4. Blend well.
  5. Next add a drop of the rose water (its powerful for add a little to begin, taste and add more if needed. It should be a subtle flavour, not there to make this soup taste like soap)
  6. Add the lemon juice and season to taste and blend again.
  7. Now add enough water to dilute the consistency to that of a thick soup.
  8. Serve with sliced grapes and rose petals and any chopped pistachios if you wish.

Jess - Iranian pistachio soup2


Leek and Parmesan Arancini, Smokey Bacon Mayonnaise

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini_

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini 2


hen I first say James Martin make this mayonnaise my mind immediately jumped to all the decedent foods it could accompany. Surprisingly it only briefly lingered on the monstrously unhealthily nature of mayonnaise and bacon!? But once in a while, a Saturday evening needs a decadent dish lovingly and patiently made – think of it as a culinary pat on the back for a hard working week. James Martin is one of those humble chefs that I trust when it comes to recipes (not to mention our matching appreciation for the use of butter) so all that was needed here was something to accompany it. One of my favourite staple flavour combinations being leek and bacon and a need for something fried and crispy for this gourmet mayo, arancini sprang to mind. In preparation for my up and coming supper club where arancini feature as my starter I thought a little more practice couldn’t go amiss. So out came the rice, butter and wooden spoon, the Italian red was decanted and dinner was set…

Serve with a lovely lemony rocket salad to cut through the oil.

Makes 15 large arancini (2-3/person)

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 70g butter
  • 200g Alborio rice
  • 1 large glass dry white wine
  • 1 litre hot vegetable or chicken stock
  • 5 leeks
  • 50g grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 lemon
  • 200g breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs, beaten well
  • 100g plain flour
  • Sunflower/Vegetable oil for deep frying (About 1 litre)


  1. Begin by making the risotto either in the morning before eating these or a day ahead of when you want to serve them.
  2. Melt 20g of the butter in a large saucepan or high sided frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil.
  3. When hot, sweat the onion and garlic, lid on, for about 5-10 minutes until softened and translucent. You shouldn’t allow it to colour.
  4. Turn up the heat and add the rice. Fry for a few minutes until the rice starts to turn translucent. While the pan is still hot, add the wine and allow to bubble vigorously and absorb into the rice. Immediately turn the heat down to a medium low.
  5. Now add the hot stock ladle by ladle once each liquid addition has been absorbed. Between each spoonful allow to bubble at a very gentle simmer. Cook the rice in the stock in this way for about 20 minutes testing the rice after about 18 minutes by which time it should be soft with a slight bite but not mushy.
  6. Meanwhile while the rice is cooking fry the leeks. Melt 20g of the butter in a frying pan with a teaspoon of olive oil. Top and tail the leeks then slice in half and chop on the diagonal into thin slices. Fry on a medium heat with plenty of salt and pepper for about 10 minutes until soft and just starting to caramelise and colour. Set aside once done.
  7. Once the rice is cooked and most of the stock is absorbed you should still be aiming for a loose consistency. Remove from the heat and add plenty of seasoning to taste and then then tip in the leeks. Add the grated zest of the lemon and the juice of half.
  8. Add the parmesan and the rest of the butter and place a lid onto the pot and set aside for 2-3 minutes. After this time remove the lid and stir in the melted cheese to combine.
  9. Tip the risotto onto a shallow dish/baking tray levelling it out thinly to allow it to cool quickly and place in the fridge to chill.Jess - Leek Aracncini
  10. Once chilled, take just bigger than golf ball sized spoonfuls (or smaller depending on how you want to serve them. I suggest one large one each as a starter or 2-3 for a main) and roll into rounds. Arrange your flour, egg and breadcurmbs into 3 bowls in front of you. Dip the risotto balls first into the flour then the beaten egg and finally coat in breadcurmbs and place each on a plate. Continue until you have used up all the rice. This should make about 15 balls.
  11. Place in the fridge until ready to fry.
  12. When ready, heat a saucepan full of the vegetable oil (deep enough to immerse the arancini by at least half) or turn on your deep fat fryer. You will know when it is hot enough as a cube of bread added to the oil will sizzle and turn golden in a matter of minutes.
  13. When the oil is hot enough, fry the aracini, turning as needed, until golden brown and crisp all over. Once golden, remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. Keep warm while you fry the rest.

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini Mayo

Smokey Bacon Mayonnaise

  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature (this is important to prevent it splitting)
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 6 rashers streaky smoked bacon, chopped into pieces
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 350 ml rapeseed or olive oil
  1. Begin by frying the bacon in a hot pan ahead of time until really crisp. Set aside in a bowl with the fat juices and cool in the fridge completely.
  2. Next, place the eggs yolks, mustard, juice of 1/2 the lemon and the white wine vinegar in the bowl of a food processor and set the motor running.
  3. In a very steady stream add the oil. The more slowly you add it the less chance it will split. The mixture will begin to thicken the more oil you add. Continue until you have combined all the oil and the consistency is thick and smooth.
  4. Next add some freshly cracked pepper and tip in the bacon pieces. Pulse until mixture to combine the bacon.
  5. Spoon into a small serving bowl and cover at room temperature until ready to use.

WINE: By no means do you need to fork out on an extravagant Italian bottle such as the below ‘Gaja Conteisa’ that I devoured these with. But there is something quite ironic about a greasy and mayonnaise laden ball of buttery risotto with a Super Tuscan that I won’t lie….went down like a house on fire. Italy, you made my weekend.

Jess - Leek Parmesan Aracncini Gaja_


Baked Hummus


ealthy’ food could not be more in our face at the moment with celebrity chefs in the media, tortuous instagram or yet another cookbook launch. While some are giving out a positive message on the whole I can’t help but feel that those that are taking it to the extreme are frankly just quite annoying? What ever happened to a balanced diet I don’t know. Some fads I have kindly embraced – avocado toast for example with lashings of lemon and maldon salt, but at this time of year the thought of a raw pizza (whatever that is…a cracker I think!?) washed down with a kale and spinach juice sends icy and fun-killing shivers down my spine. What with January being plagued with this health theme and matched with the chilly winter weather we’ve been experiencing lately I am craving warmth from soups, stews and slow baked dishes which by all means can be healthy too.

Take the humble, versatile and much loved hummus. Warm and familiar when deep fried as falafel, there is nothing stopping it being baked and devoured ‘fondue style’? And yes, you are more than welcome to imagine you are enjoying a fondue….just with far less milk, fat and cheese hangovers. Eat as you would fondue or enjoy smothered on your favourite toasted bread.

A delicious, healthy adaptation for the winter weather.

Serves about 4

  • 1 can drained chickpeas (250g approx)
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cumin seeds (dry toasted and then ground)
  • 1 teaspoon spice mix (see here – optional)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 3 tbsp thick yoghurt
  • Seasoning
  • Handful pine nuts
  • 1 tbsp butter
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Place all the ingredients (except the pine nuts and butter) into a food processor and blend until thoroughly smooth. You may need to scrape down the sites a few times.
  3. Add more yoghurt or oil to vary the constancy to your liking.
  4. Spoon the hummus into a small ovenproof serving dish or bowl
  5. Heat a large frying pan and dry toast the pine nuts until golden. Add the butter and remove from the what while it browns and melts.
  6. Top the hummus with the buttery nuts and place in the oven for 25-30 minutes.
  7. The mixture will warm and turn golden. If you use a thin consistency it may even rise a little.
  8. Serve with crudités, warm toasted pitta breads, rye bread etc.

This is lovely served warm as a shared starter with crudités or warm pittas. Alternatively as a light lunch I had mine smothered on lemony avocado on toasted rye bread and sprinkled with flaky salt…..

Jess - Warm Hummus Avocado_

Whole Baked Spiced Cauliflower


his new take on cooking cauliflower is very ‘in’ at the moment in the foodie world. If I’m honest, I’m not sure what was wrong with a good old cauliflower cheese and bangers. Probably the growing nation of ‘lactose intolerent’ foodies who can however still manage to gorge on cheese? Regardless, after seeing recipe in the trusty Waitrose Magazine this was one I felt I actually wanted to cook! Glamourized in my favourite Moroccan spices I served this up dramatically as a side dish to a middle eastern themed dinner a few weekends ago. A lovely and alternative way to cook and present a cauliflower! Perfect for added theatre at any dinner party where it can be bought to the table to the ‘oooo’s’ and ‘ahhhh’s’ of your hungry guests. Perfect as a side dish here but also as an ideal vegetarian mid week supper to share with a cauliflower loving friend or lactose intolerant acquaintance.

Serve 4-5 (as a side dish)

  • 1 large cauliflower, outer leaves removed.
  • 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
  • Handful toasted pine nuts
  • 1 tsp rose petals
  • 1 handful chopped flat leaf parsely

Spiced butter

  • 40g softened unsalted butter
  • 1 lemon, juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp sumac
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice
  • Pinch ground nutmeg
  • Pinch ground cardamon
  • 1 1/2 tbsp chopped coriander
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Bring a large pan of water to the boil. Simmer the cauliflower for 5-7 minutes until just tender when the stem is pierced with a knife. Allow for it to remain a little firm as it will continue cooking in the oven (you can also steam the cauliflower if preferred) Drain and cool a little. Leave to dry as much as possible.
  3. Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the spiced butter in a food processor keeping out a small pinch of coriander. Stir this in last once you have a dark brown spiced paste.
  4. Find a large ovenproof dish you can snugly fit the cauliflower in and oil or grease the base.
  5. Spread the butter all over the surface of the cauliflower, working it into the cracks and place in the dish.
  6. Roast in the oven for about 15-30 minutes. All you are looking for is a lovely charred surface and a tender cauliflower. You can also do this under the grill to brown the top at the end or on the barbeque.
  7. Once cooked remove from the oven and let stand for a few minutes as it will be too hot to serve. Scatter with the pomegranate, pine nuts, rose and herbs and serve.


Jess - Whole baked caluilfower#3Jess - Whole baked cauliflower#2


Beetroot Arancini, Chestnut Humus, Hazelnuts

Jess - Aranchini 1
Jess - Aranchini 4


s hard as it is to admit, the long balmy evenings are getting darker and shorter and noticeably less balmy. Autumn is whistling in the air and the wind if whipping the leaves around my now boot clad and sock warmed feet. I adore summer more than you can imagine and I’m always reluctant and depressed to let it go but the potential of Autumn and its bountiful harvest are just too exciting for a foodie like myself and one of the many reasons I adore the English seasons. Pears, plums, apples, pumpkins, game, beetroot and cobnuts. I get far to excited, overwhelmed and overjoyed at the inspiration for Autumnal dinners. A little recipe testing this weekend creating some new dishes in preparation for an Autumnal dinner party I have approaching was the cause for this one.

I’m not normally a huge believer in the arancini concept as generally most things taste good deep fried. I do adore them though – oozing with cheese or glamourised with truffle oil and mushrooms. However, I always wonder if they are more delicious and successful than the risotto itself? For me they are usually an after thought for any leftover risotto you might (surprisingly and hard to image) have as leftovers. But I’ve always admired anyone who makes risotto with the intention of just making arancini. That said I make double the batch and devoured the liquid form for dinner and the deep-fried leftovers the night after.

These subtly spiced, earthy, warm, crispy oozing arancini are the perfect start to the season. Creamy, deeply flavoured whipped chestnut humus and nutty toasted hazelnuts are the perfect addition. All cleanly cut through with some fresh, sharp and zesty lemony rocket and a hearty spiced glass of Pinot Noir. Lets welcome Autumn in style.

NOTE: I would highly suggest making the arancini in the morning before a dinner but ideally overnight. Ensure you have made the humus and garnish beforehand so that arancini are the last thing to cook and are hot, crispy and freshly served immediately.

Serves 6

Beetroot Arancini – try and make the evening before if you can

  • 120g pearl barely
  • 1 pint hot chicken stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds, toasted and lightly ground
  • 200g cooked beetroot, pureed in a food processor
  • Large handful finely grated parmesan
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon
  • 1 egg
  • Plain flour
  • Breadcrumbs
  • Sunflower oil for deep frying
  1. Heat half a knob of butter with a small splash of oil in a saucepan. Very gently sweat the red onion in the butter for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and cumin cook for a few more minutes. Season
  2. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the pearl barely. Toast in the pan with the onion stirring all the time. Next add the wine and simmer off until reduced.
  3. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, adding more only after each addition has been absorbed. Continue for about 25minutes or so until the pearl barley is tender. Keep adding stock until the barley is cooked but don’t drown the mixture especially towards the end of the cooking time or it will be too runny.
  4. When the barley is cooked, stir through the beetroot puree and taste and season again. Bring back up to the heat to warm through.
  5. Add the grated cheese, another knob of butter and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and remove form the heat. Place the lid on top and leave it sit and rest.
  6. Stir to combine the cheese. Leave to cook until cold in the fridge, ideally overnight.
  7. When cold and almost solid, its time to make the arancini.
  8. Get 3 bowls ready with the beaten egg, a handful or two of flour and the breadcrumbs
  9. Divide the risotto into 6 or so large spoonfuls and form into balls just a bit larger than a golf ball.
  10. Roll in the flour, the beaten egg and finally give a good coating in the breadcrumbs. Set aside on a plate.
  11. Heat a large pan of oil at lease deep enough to come up half the side of the arancini (8cm or so). Heat to a medium high heat on the hob. Test the temperature with a piece of dry bread. If it sizzles and turns golden its ready!
  12. Get a few sheets of kitchen roll and use them to line a shallow bowl or plate.
  13. Add the arancini, 3 or so at a time depending on the size of your pan. Fry, turning half way one the underside is a light golden brown.
  14. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on the kitchen paper.
  15. Serve immediately as below.

Chestnut Humus

  • 200g vacuum packed chestnuts
  • 1/2 lemon
  • Knob butter
  • Olive oil
  1. Place the chestnuts in a saucepan with just enough water to cover, the butter and some salt.
  2. Bring to the simmer and cook for about 3-4 minutes to soften the chestnuts.
  3. Drain, reserving the liquid.
  4. Place in the bowl of a food processor with some seasoning and blend. Add a splash or two of the reserved water to loosen and blend until beginning to smooth. Keep adding the water until the mixture is smooth but still thick. Add the lemon juice and then thin to the desired consistency with the oil.
  5. Check the seasoning.


  • Couple of large handfuls of brown breadcrumbs
  • Handful of hazelnuts, roasted, halved
  • 2-3 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley
  1. Heat a splash of oil in a hot frying pan. Add the breadcrumbs and fry until beginning to turn golden. Season and add the roasted hazelnuts and fry for a few more moments.
  2. Turn the heat down a little and add the parsley to wilt and crisp.
  3. Remove from the what and allow to cool slightly.

To assemble…

  • Spoon a large tablespoon of so of chestnut puree onto the plate
  • Top with some rocket leaves dressed in lemon juice
  • Top with the hot arancini
  • Scatter over the crunchy crumbs
  • Devour

WINE: I hugely recommend something with a little spice to it to complement the cumin here. The earthy beetroot is a lovely match for a lovely Pinot Noir. Try this Paper Road Pinot Noir from Borthwick Estate available at Armit Wines.


Jess - Aranchini 5Jess - Pinot Noir

Tofu, Mushroom and Seaweed Kale

Jess - Ingredients


 vegan dish was a palatable challenge for me I’ll admit. In a world where butter dominates the foundations of my recipes like culinary cement; I was skeptical. No butter? You heard correctly…no butter? However, with a goodie bag of Japanese inspired ingredients from Clearspring, whose vast array of cultural delicacies regularly glare at me temptingly from their own region of the supermarket, I thought I’d experiment and I can safely say that butter wasn’t missed here!? With the divergence in diets and intolerances infiltrating our British habits in what is perhaps a foodie fad or otherwise, I thought I’d better jump on the diary and meat free band wagon and see if soya and tofu could satisfy my taste buds. With fish and vegetables dominating my diet already I was keen to see what the removal of dairy would have to offer.  I enjoyed this meal twice this week which is surely enough said. One evening using nutty pearl barely and the other using some of Clearspring’s gluten free brown noodles. Both delicious and fresh.

Gluten, diary, meat and nut free I think this one deserves the intolerance crown.

Serves 2

  • 1 box mushrooms (250g). Mixed such as shitake, oyster or chestnut
  • 1 small handful dried mixed wild mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 15minutes then chopped roughly
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 80g pearl barely/80-100g brown rice noodles
  • 200g kale
  • 100g peas
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 1 tbsp Clearspring seaweed flakes OR Welshman’s caviar
  • 1 tbsp Soy sauce
  • Handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • 100g cubed tofu (optional)
  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds (optional)
  1. Start by either soaking your noodles in hot water for 30 minutes covered or simmering your pearl barely for 25-30 minutes in hot water under tender. Drain well and drizzle with the sesame oil and keep warm.
  2. Heat a frying pan over a medium heat. Gently soften the sliced spring onions for about 5-8 minutes until just beginning to brown and season. Once softened, place in a bowl and set aside keeping warm if you can. These will be combined with the cooked kale later.
  3. Heat the same frying pan again until hot. Add the sunflower oil. Chop the mushrooms roughly into hearty chunks and gently fry for about 10-15 minutes with plenty of salt and pepper to cook and crisp up the mushrooms. They will release a little moisture so keep frying to evaporate this off and brown and crisp them up slightly.
  4. Meanwhile, cook your kale in a pan of boiling water for 1-2 minutes. Add the peas and bring back to the boil. Once boiling remove from the heat and drain well allowing all the moisture to drain.
  5. Tip back in the pan, add 1 tbsp soy sauce and the seaweed flakes. Add the reserved spring onions and mix. Place the lid back on a keep warm while you finish the mushrooms.
  6. When the mushrooms are ready, crisp and delicious add the garlic and allow to cook for a few more minutes. Then turn up the heat and add the chopped rehydrated dried mushrooms, the noodles or pearl barely and fry for 1-2 minutes to reheat and combine the flavours.
  7. Optional here, add some cubed tofu and heat through and scatter with the coriander.
  8. Serve the mushrooms on top of the kale and garnish with black sesame seeds if you like

Pistachio and Feta Dip

Jess - Pistachio feta dip2 Jess - Crackers


ot another dip I hear you say? And not another Moroccan and middle Eastern themed recipe. Yes. Please continue. A boozy and wonderful dinner party in the Wiltshire countryside this weekend was enhanced as it naturally would be by the addition of a Middle Eastern themed feast! And gracious guests of course! And the weather seemed to be on it best behaviour for most of the time rather suitably while we guzzled bubbly Saumur and nibbles. The downpour and lightening only theatrically threatened to steal the attention late into the evening when the food had already stolen my guests hearts. It reminded me a little of my recent venture to Morocco where a hearty downpour after a heavy humid day was still not enough to spoil the show once the hearty tanginess graced our dining tables.

Kicking off with a round (or two) of sparkling Saumur, my new and cheaper favourite alternative to Champagne, to set the tone, this cheesy spiced Turkish/Bulgarian dip went down a treat. A lovely alternative to the usual humus this is perfect with some mini ‘olive oil cracker tongues’ (see here) adapted with the addition of some sweet smoked paprika and rolled smaller and bite sized.

While the middle East is always a source of natural inspiration for me, both these recipes were inspired by a new cookbook purchase that has weakened my already full and bursting cookbook shelf. Bought on a whim having been won over in a trace by the initial sparkling textured cover and once in side, by the beautiful photos and recipe combinations that steal my foodie heart. Adapated slighty but quite welcomely without much amending. Persiana, Sabrina Ghayour. A delightful book for any cookbook collector, food lover or photography buff.

Serves 8 as a nibble with drinks

  • 100g pistachios, shelled
  • 75ml olive oil
  • 200g feta cheese
  • Handful chopped dill
  • Large bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 red chilli, chopped
  • 3 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • zest 1 lemon, juice of 1/2
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp dukka (see here) to garish (optional)
  1. Blend the pistachios and oil in a processor for 30 seconds.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend until you get a smooth but rustic texture. Season to taste
  3. Spoon onto a shallow bowl or plate. Sprinkle with any leftover dill leaves, the dukka and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.
  4. Serve with olive oil crackers.

Dips and drinks were followed by a slow roasted, shredded and falling off the bone leg of  lamb spiced to the nines with Moroccan love. Zesty lime yoghurt and cumin dipping salt on the side of a fresh allotment picked raw vegetable salad….

Serves 8-10

  • 1 large leg of lamb on the bone (2.5kg approx)
  • 50g butter
  • 2 tbsp ground coriander
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp sea salt flakes
  • Handful coriander leaves to garnish

Cumin dipping salt

  • 2 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 2 tbsp flaky sea salt
  • Pinch cinnamon
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C and line a large roasting tin.
  2. Mark deep incisions over the lamb with a sharp knife
  3. In a small bowl, place the butter, spiced, thyme, and garlic and blend into a paste. Rub the paste over the land and into the incisions.
  4. Place the lamb in the tin and pour in 1 large glass white wine. Cover with foil and cook for 4 hours.
  5. During this time, baste the lamb with any juices every 40 minutes or so.
  6. After 4 hours, turn the oven up to 190°C. Remove the foil and finish the cooking for the final 1 hour uncovered to brown the top and crisp the skin.
  7. Meanwhile, for the dipping salt, dry fry the cumin seeds in a hot frying pan for a few minutes until fragrant. Tip into a pestle and mortar and grind. Add the salt and cinnamon and grind together lightly. Tip into a small ramekin or bowl.
  8. After 5 hours, remove the lamb from the over. Cover with foil and leave to rest for about 15 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, carve the lamb which should tenderly fall from the bone. Carve into chunky pieces and slice the herbed skin. Serve on a large warmed serving platter, scattered with coriander leaves.
  10. Serve e.g some turmeric and cumin roasted new potatoes, fresh raw green salad and a limey creamy yoghurt.

Jess - Lamb Jess - Lamb2

Pea and Avocado Dip with Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers

Jess - Cracker2

Jess - rudehealth


irstly I think I need to explain the mystery behind the ‘Sprouted Olive Oil Crackers’. As if the wholesome organic produce that Rude Health so stylishly provide wasn’t tempting enough, they have developed a range of ‘sprouted flours’. Nothing to do with sprouts, nothing to do with flowers…..These flours basically contain a grain that has been allowed to sprout and germinate in an environment which stimulates enzyme activity and allows for the transformation of wonderful nutrients. Soaked in water, the grains sprout and release nutrients and once slow fired and and stone ground these are captured inside these tasty flours ready for your baking purposes. Nutty, wholesome and devine, they can be used in baking like for like to add a fantastic texture and flavour layer. Here I used the flour in some lovely giant tongue shaped crackers which I often make for dinner parties as elaborate dipping utensils!

They are amazing served with dips and spreads. I’ve made these in the past but never with sprouted flour and the baking smell alone as they crisped away in the safety of the oven was enough to inspire a healthy dip to accompany.

Makes about 15 dependant on size (adapted from Ottolenghi)

  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C and line a large tray with baking parchment.
  2. In a large bowl or food processor combine all the ingredients except for the salt until you have  affirm dough.
  3. Leave to rest for 30 minutes or so in the fridge.
  4. When ready to cook, take walnut sized pieces of dough (about 15g) and roll on a floured surface into tongue or oval shaped crackers, paper thin if you can!
  5. Repeat and place on your lined backing tray. Drizzle well with olive oil and scatter with the sea salt.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 6 minutes or until crisp, golden and filling the kitchen with wonderful smells.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack before enjoying with a dip or choice.

Pea and Avocado Dip (Serve 4-5 as a starter/nibble)

I saw a version of this recipe in a recent Waitrose magazine. Having been invited to a last minute impromptu BBQ I felt I needed a culinary offering which is where this speedy dip was created. To my disappointment this said recipe wasn’t particularly inspiring on the taste delivery. It was a bit bland. However, with a complete recipe makeover and the addition of some forage in the pantry flavour staples I had a tasty vibrant dip in no time to accompany my sprouted olive oil crackers. Knocked out in minutes I just had time to grab a bottle of chilled white before heading out into the sun….

  • 150 peas, defrosted or fresh
  • 1 lime, juice
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 1 tbsp creme fraiche
  • 15g pistachios
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see here)
  • 60g feta cheese
  • Handful mint leaves
  • Chives, dill and chilli oil to garnish
  1. In a food processor, please the peas, lime juice, garlic, pistachios, creme fraiche, spice mix and mint. Pulse and blend until the mixture turns into a paste. You may need to scarp the sides down as you go.
  2. Add plenty of seasoning and then add the feta cheese and avocado.
  3. Blend again to form a smooth paste. If you like it a bit thinner, add some olive oil.
  4. Serve scattered with chopped dill and chives and drizzled with chilli oil

Jess - Peaavocadodip2


Nori hummus and raw slaw Wraps


aw food (i.e. food that has not been cooked, treated or processed in any way above 115°F) seems to be all the craze at the moment with the idea that above this selected temperature food starts to loose essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals. However, with a background in physiological science and a keen interest in nutrition I am fully aware of the nutrients that our bodies need and so for me (although a keen health freak and yogi)  it is hard to see the true benefits of a 100% raw diet. Saying that, dabbling in the craze can only leave you happy, full, and downright smug and righteous.

So last weekend in the hot and sunny weather and with the influence of Wimbledon’s top athletes competing as we ate, I took my sceptical mother to Nama, Notting hill an artisan raw food ‘oasis’ for lunch. And I was hugely pleased and excited by it! Albeit we chose well, I would not have been left as happy had I chosen the raw ‘pizza’ (courgette and walnut cracker base topped with vegetables). However, a hearty salad and a falafel raw ‘wrap’ left us nourished and smiling as we washed it down with pear, cucumber, cinnamon, maple and apple juice and matcha lattes.

So home again and inspired I headed to the kitchen to use some of Nama’s influence in my mid week dinner. Influence is the word here. This is not technically ‘raw’ but its a damn good compromise.

Makes about 4 (with leftovers)

  • 1 small red cabbage
  • 1 yellow courgette
  • 1 green courgette
  • Large bunch mint, coriander and parsley
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds (lightly toasted)
  • 1-2 limes
  • 1 x hummus recipe
  • 2 avocados
  • 1 x packet roasted seaweed sheets (Nori sheets)

Spiced herby Hummus

  • 1 can chickpeas
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1 bunch coriander and in addition, either mint, parsley, basil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 red chilli, roughly chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp yoghurt
  • Salt and pepper
  • Splash of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 ½ heaped tsp of the following mix of ground spices (For the ground mix, toast 1tbsp of each fennel, cumin, coriander , black mustard and  fenugreek seed with 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamon pods and 1 star anise in a dry frying pan until hot, fragrant and beginning to pop. Remove and grind in a pestle and mortar until fine).
  1. Start with the vegetable ‘slaw’. In a processor, shred the cabbage and courgettes until fine and mix well. Finely chop the herbs and add these with some seasoning. Add the sesame seeds and lime juice and set aside.
  2. Make the hummus. Place all ingredients in the bowl of a processor (expect the oil) and pulse to a coarse paste. You may need to wipe the sides down as you go. Add a splash of oil to loosen if you like.
  3. Cut your avocados in halve and then slice each halve into chunky chip shaped sliced.
  4. Now assemble! Spread a layer of hummus in the middle of a sheet of Nori. Top with the slices of avocado and then with a layer of slaw.
  5. Fold the short ends in and then roll (with the long end facing you) the nori seaweed wrapper over the filling tightly and press together.
  6. Slice in halve on the diagonal and enjoy!

Jess - Nori Humuus Roll#2

Stuffed Sweet Potato Skins

A recent speedy meal before an evening out for cocktails with my sister. Cocktails are pricey so it was a ‘use up the fridge’ meal….cheap, and always pleasantly surprising I find. What started as a quick bite consequently and unsurprisingly turned into my need to photograph and blog the whole scenario resulting in me having to wolf them down and then jump out of my running gear and into something more bar worthy….

Speedy meal for one!

Serves 1

  • 1 large sweet potato, stabbed all over with a knife
  • 1 red onion, sliced into half moons
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • Handful flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • Zest of half a lemon
  • A few slices of goats cheese, crumbled
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  2. Heat a frying pan to a medium high heat. Add a splash of oil and soften the onions for about 10 minutes until soft and just beginning to brown. If they are catching, turn the temperature down.
  3. Meanwhile, cheat cook your potato in the microwaves for 7 minutes or until the middle is soft.
  4. Cut in half and leave to cook slightly. It will be very hot!
  5. When the onions are soft, turn up the heat and add the balsamic. Simmer gently until the onions are sticky and syrupy. Add the cumin seeds and remove from the heat.
  6. Scoop the flesh of the potato into a large bowl.
  7. Place the skins on baking tray and drizzle with a little oil and season. Crisp them up in the hot oven for a bout 5 minutes or so (check to make sure they don’t burn!)
  8. Meanwhile, season the potato flesh in the bowl and add the chopped parsley, onions and crumble in the goats cheese.
  9. Mix thoroughly. When the skins are crisp, remove from the oven and stuff with the mixture.
  10. Place back in the oven for 5 minutes or so to warm through.
  11. Devour with a crisp fresh salad.