Date Archives January 2013

Turkish lamb-stuffed flatbreads with cacik

These are like a Turkish inspired ‘pasty’ I’ve been meaning to attempt for ages from a long ago copy of Vogue’s ‘Entertaining and Travel’ magazine I picked up on my travels down under. They are like a lamb pasty but with a fresh, vibrant cooling yoghurt, called cacik which is a bit like tzatziki.

Makes 8 small or 6 larger pittas

  • 185g bread flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp dried yeast
  • pinch of toasted and crushed cumin seeds,
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 500g minced lamb
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 50g tomato puree
  • 2 tbsp pomegranate molasses
  • 40g pie nuts, roasted
  • Bunch of coriander
  • 1 lemon, zest and wedges to serve


  • 250g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped dill
  • 1 tbsp chopped mint
  • ½ garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 lime, zest and juice
  1. Begin with the cacik by combining all the ingredients with some salt and pepper and chill until needed.
  2. For the flatbread dough, sift the flour, baking powder, yeast, a large pinch of salt and the cumin seed into a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add a splash of oil and 125ml of warm water and mix with a fork to form a dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knead for about 5 minutes until elastic. Cover with cling film and leave to rest for 30 minutes.
  3. To make the lamb filling, heat a few tablespoons of oil in a pan and cook the onion until soft. Add the lamb and cook until browned. Add the spices, tomato puree, pomegranate molasses and 2 tbsp of water and cook for a few more minutes until fragrant.
  4. Add the pine nuts and a large handful of chopped coriander and the zest of 1 lemon.
  5. Preheat the oven to 200°C.
  6. Divide the dough into 6 or 8 pieces and role thinly onto a floured surface into a rough circle shape.
  7. Place 1/8 or 1/6 of the mixture onto one side of the dough and brush a little water around the outside. Fold over and press the edges together gently to seal, squashing the pitta down to flatten it if you can without breaking it. Repeat with the remaining mixture to make about 6-8 ‘pasties’.
  8. Heat a frying pan over a medium-high heat and heat a splash of olive oil. Fry the stuffed flatbreads, about 2 at a time, until golden. Place in the oven to keep warm and to heat through while you finish the rest.
  9. Scatter oven some extra coriander and serve with the cooling cacik and lemon wedges.

Made really small, these would make a great little canape or starter!


Pine nut, honey and rosemary tartlets


I love the subtlety rosemary can add to a dessert. Added carefully it can be delicious and after a first trying it in an outrageously scrumptious recipe which included a vat of stewed sweet apricots and some crunchy textured crumble, pine nuts were inevitably due to work. This is a cross between a pecan pie with pine nuts and a treacle tart. Served at the end of a recent dinner party topped with a chocolate sorbet, it was a winner.

Sweet pastry

  • 250g plain flour
  • 50g sifted icing sugar
  • 125g cold unsalted butter, cubed
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Splash milk


  • 150g pine nuts
  • 2 eggs
  • 75g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 100g runny honey
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • ½ vanilla pod, seeds removed OR 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 small sprigs of rosemary (optional)
  1. Make you pastry by rubbing the flour and icing sugar into the butter to form a breadcrumb texture. Add the egg and a splash of milk to bring it together to form a soft dough but make sure you are gentle. Wrap in cling and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes. Next, line 6 small or 1 large tart tin and bake blind (see here to do this)
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. In a large frying pan over medium high heat, toast your pine nuts until fragrant and golden. Leave to cool.
  4. Add the honey and rosemary sprigs to a saucepan and heat gently over a low heat until warm and runny. All the honey to sit on a low heat for a good 10 minutes to let the rosemary infuse
  5. Then remove and reserve the rosemary. Then whisk in the cubed butter until melted.
  6. In another bowl, whisk together the sugar, eggs and vanilla until combined.
  7. Strip the leaves from the reserved rosemary and chopped very finely to get about 1 tsp or less of the leaves and add back to the honey and butter (optional). Whisk the butter and honey mix into the egg and sugar mixture.
  8. Now, space your pre-baked tart cases out onto a lined baking tray and sprinkle the pine nuts amongst the cases. Make sure you keep the tart case inside its metal tin (unlike I did) as this will add extra support for the thick mixture.image
  9. Fill with the honey mixture evenly and bake for 18-20 minutes until set. Remove and leave to cool and set.

(The first time I did this, I took the tart cases out their metal tins and the sides collapsed (disaster) so I strongly recommend leaving them in the tins to add support for the heavy honey mixture) Served with a generous and glossy scoop of chocolate sorbet, they were the perfect finish to a lovely dinner party.


Five Spice Rib Ragu


ast night we had the pleasure of cooking for some family friends who can always be relied upon to offer up a humble and sincere appreciation for food which makes them ideal guests. Not only am I not usually one for trying out a new dish for the first time at a dinner party but I often wonder why people do decide to venture into the unknown with pressure of for hungry guests. However, if I was to experiment on anyone for the first time, these guys would be right on my list. With some much needed tweaking in regards to flavour (sorry Nig’) from a recipe from Nigel Slater’s diaries, some added Chinese influence to this recipe turned into a winner.

Serves 6 easily

  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 3 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 carrots, finely chopped
  • 50g butter
  • 4 racks of baby pork ribs (just over 1kg) cut into 3 rib pieces
  • 250g mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 generous handful of dried wild mushrooms
  • 800ml hot beef stock
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 4 star anise
  • 1tsp five spice paste
  • 1 heaped tbsp flour
  • 1 heaped tbsp softened butter
  • Pappardelle/tagliatelle pasta of choice (enough for 6)
  • Chopped parsley to garnish
  1. Being by soaking the dried mushrooms in the hot beef stock for about 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large casserole dish with a splash of olive oil and brown the ribs all over to caramelise the outside and release their flavour. Remove and set aside.
  3. Add the finely chopped carrots, onions and celery to the dish and cook for about 15 minutes until beginning to soften. Add a touch more oil if needed.
  4. Add the chopped mushrooms and continue to cook until these are soft too.
  5. Use a slotted spoon to remove the wild mushrooms from their soaking liquid and add these to the pan and cook for a few more minutes along with the cinnamon, star anise and the five spice paste. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  6. Return the ribs to the pan and cover the whole thing with the beef stock and bring to the boil.
  7. Now you can either simmer this on the hob, covered, for about 3 hours, or I prefer to pop it into a low oven (135°C.) for about 3 hours or so until the pork is tender and just the slightest touch of the ribs will loosen them enough to pull out the pan by hand.
  8. After the required time, remove and discard the ribs using a pair of forks to leave the tender pork. They should just slide out. Taste and season as required.
  9. Increase the temperature to 200°C and return the ragu to the oven to brown the top, reduce the sauce and let it thicken for about 30 minutes or so. If, after 30 minutes, it still needs to be a little thicker, simmer the pan on the hob. Then, mix the 1 tbsp of plain flour and 1 tbsp of butter together in a small bowl to form a paste and whisk this into the sauce. The flour will thicken the sauce without it going lumpy and the butter will add a nice gloss.
  10. Cook your pasta in lots of salted water while the ragu keeps warm on a low heat. Drain and toss with a little olive oil and seasoning. Serve with a generous helping of ragu and a scattering of parsley.

This was lovely served with a green salad of rocket and watercress, crispy shaved fennel and celery and dressed very gently in lemon juice and good extra virgin olive oil for freshness.

WINE: Pasta with a roasted ragu meat sauce suits nothing better than an Italian red. Try something such as the Agricola Punica, 2013 Montessu from Sardinia available at Armit Wines

Jess - Montessu

Lavender Shortbread


I’m afraid homemade shortbread is one of my weaknesses. This basic recipe has never failed me and has been handed down throughout the family. If you ever look at a shortbread recipe with more than 3 ingredients, chuck it and use this! Although a complete triumph on its own, I like to add a few cheeky additions now and again and here I had some fragrant lavender to hand. However, its open to experimentation with any flavours that get the heart racing, from lemon and poppy seed to ground hazelnuts or allspice. Lavenders one of those marmite flavours I think. Too much and it tastes like a bowl of your Grandma’s potpourri but added with a delicate hand it adds a quirky kick. I added an intuitive sprinkle to the basic recipe which is as follows. They’ll melt in your mouth like a snowman on an agar….believe me.

  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 175g plain flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • A sprinkle of lavender, lemon zest, ground nuts etc or any added extra flavour of your choice (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. In a food processor, mix all ingredients together until it forms a breadcrumb-like texture then continue until it comes together into a loose dough.
  3. Before it forms a ball of dough, stop the machine and turn the mixture out onto a floured surface.
  4. Form together into a ball using your hands. You can chill it now, wrapped in cling film, to let it rest but I’ve always found that the world will not end if you use it straight away, just make sure the room or your hands are not too hot as this will make it really soft when handling.
  5. You can either roll it out onto a floured work surface and cut out into biscuit shapes or place as a thin whole sheet into a lined baking tin.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10-12 minutes for biscuits and 15-20 minutes for a thicker sheet in a baking tray but check regularly. They will be ready when golden but try and get them out just before they turn too brown to ensure that melt-in-the-mouth texture and that they are not too crunchy.


Dark Chocolate Sorbet

Nothing additional added. No secret extra ingredient. This hasn’t been fiddled with. I’m known for always adding twists and tweaks to recipes to add an extra special touch and style which is usually appreciated. However, after what must have been the 100th time at knocking out the standard cauliflower cheese for a mid week supper, I decided to explore the tasty addition of a few added flavours. Don’t get me wrong it was delicious but with a few glaucoma-like glares from the family, I soon realised some dishes are best left untouched. This is one of them. The chocolate flavour (and I am by no means a chocolate lover) confidently powers through like Usain Bolt in 100m final. As a milk chocolate hater but a 90-100% addict, this is perfect for the dark chocolate fans. Left alone, you can experiment with what its eaten with instead….This recipe was helped by one of my favourite ice cream master David Lebovitz.

  • 555ml water
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 75g ‘Green & Blacks’ dark cocoa powder
  • Pinch salt
  • 170g dark chocolate, chopped finely
  • Splash vanilla extract
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together 375ml of the water, the sugar, the cocoa and the salt. Heat, whisking for a few minutes until all the cocoa is combined and mixed into a silky texture. It may not look like its going to mix but keep whisking.
  2. Bring to the boil and bubble for about a minute, until a little more thickened and syrupy.
  3. Remove from the heat and add the finely chopped chocolate and vanilla and whisk until the chocolate has melted. Add the 180ml of remaining water and mix.
  4. Transfer to a blender and give it a few pulses to blend it all together thoroughly. Chill until cold.
  5. Then churn in an ice cream maker until thick and soft textured (about 30-40 minutes)




I love this American derived cornbread as it has a really deep rich flavour. Our family loves a good bowl of spicy chilli and rice when the colder months hit but sometimes rice gets a bit dull and this makes a really hearty change. Cornbread is a traditional Southern American staple which I love! I’ve added popular ingredients like cheese, chilli and sweetcorn but the usual cornbread is actually fairly plain, made with polenta (cornmeal) and baking powder which makes it rise.

  • 140g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 125g polenta/cornmeal
  • 1/2tsp chilli flakes
  • 75g mature cheddar, grated
  • 4 spring onions, chopped including the green tops
  • 25g melted butter
  • 2 eggs
  • 150ml whole milk
  • 150ml buttermilk
  • 150g sweetcorn
  1. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  2. Traditionally made in a skillet, I made mine in a flat square brownie tin (23cm x 23cm and 4cm deep) but also feel free to use a loaf tin. Grease and line with baking parchment.
  3. Combine the first 9, dry, ingredients in a large bowl.
  4. Whisk the eggs and milk together in a jug.
  5. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and, working quickly as the bicarbonate will begin to react with the buttermilk for the rising effect, whisk in the melted butter followed by the egg and milk. Stir in the sweetcorn, and transfer quickly to the prepared tin.
  6. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 20 minutes until golden and cooked.
  7. This is best served warm with salty butter and a bowl of steaming chilli, soured cream and guacamole smothered all over the top like there’s no tomorrow.


My favourite foodie Christmas gift….

Naturally this year I received a range of cooking related presents for Christmas, from cookbooks to knives to a, what feels like, 20 tonne granite pestle and mortar that was ‘wrapped’ and tagged innocently with ‘Dear Jessie…..for when you get cross….’ These were all much appreciated and loved, but by far my favourite gift was from my best friend and dining partner in crime. With a creative flare she casually knocked out this little beauty……….. (For more of her amazing work, head to KV Studios)



almiers. Crispy, buttery, puff pastry filled with delicious filling and a perfect savoury nibble to follow a glass of Champagne at New Year or for a dinner party! I made these with a collection of leftover ingredients that were cluttering up the fridge but as usual whenever I assume ingredients a write-off, they turn into something much more sophisticated than anticipated. You can put anything inside these, sweet with sugar and cinnamon or savoury cheeses, meats or spreads. For these two variations I made a red pesto, basil and Parma ham version and a black olive, feta and rosemary alternative!

(Makes about 40)

  • 2 x ready rolled puff pastry sheets (or buy a block and roll it out into a long rectangle about 35cm about 1 pound coin thickness)
  • 1 pack Parma ham slices
  • 2 tbsp red pesto
  • Handful basil leaves
  • Handful of crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 sprig of rosemary, leaves picked, chopped finely
  • 2 tbsp black olive spread
  • 1 egg, beaten
  1. Roll the first pastry sheet out onto a floured surface with the short edge of the rectangle facing you.
  2. Spread with the red pesto evenly over the entire sheet
  3. Sprinkle with the torn basil leaves
  4. Now line up the Parma ham slices down the rectangle
  5. Brush some beaten egg down the two outermost long edges and then starting on one side, tightly roll into the centre. Do the same on the other side, keeping the pastry tight until it meets in the centre with the other side.
  6. Brush a little beaten egg between the touching rolls, wrap tightly in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Repeat this process with the feta, olive spread and rosemary following the same principle or with whatever ingredients you like
  8. Preheat the oven to 200°C
  9. Once both ‘log’ have rested for 30 minutes, remove from the fridge and line a baking tray with parchment. Cut the puff pastry logs into about 1.5cm slices with a sharp knife (or thicker if you like) and line on the baking tray
  10. Bake in the oven for 12-15 minutes until golden, crispy and cooked through
  11. Leave to cool a little and serve warm with some bubbly!


Red pesto, basil and Parma ham palmiers

Feta, black olive and rosemary palters.

WINE: Of should I say something sparkling? Try with a crisp dry Champagne, English sparkling wine or a Prosecco. Try Biancavigna, Prosecco Spumante available at Armit Wines.

Jess - Prosecco

Pannacotta with salted caramel

This was everything you’d could want in a dinner party dessert for a special occasion such as New Years eve where this little treat made a welcome appearance. It’s creamy, sweet, satisfying and elegant and will fill that sweet spot when you think there is just no room left after, perhaps an evening full of decadent dinning and some good fizz. Naturally as the choice for the hidden surprise I had to add salted caramel due to my love of salt and its increasing popularity as the foodie trend of 2012! Served alongside some mini tartlets filled with hazelnut or ginger mascarpone topped with diced pear and shards of honeycomb, I think its safe to say these were crowd pleasers…..

Pannacotta (serves 6)

  • 250ml double cream
  • 250ml milk
  • 1 vanilla pod, seeds removed
  • 2 ½ gelatine leaves
  • 50g caster sugar

Salted Caramel

  • 200ml single cream
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  • 2 tsp water
  • Large pinch of maldon salt
  1. Begin with the salted caramel. Place the cream in a saucepan and warm gently on a low heat.
  2. Meanwhile, heat the runny honey in another saucepan for a few minutes. Add the water and the caster sugar and allow to dissolve.
  3. Once dissolved, let it bubble for about 5 minutes and it will begin to turn golden. Watch it closely, giving it a swirl every so often.image
  4. Continue to bubble until golden and caramel coloured. Do not let it get too dark or it will begin to burn and taste bitter.
  5. Once it reaches the right golden colour (being VERY careful as it will splutter at you) stir in 1/3 of the warm cream and stir. Add the rest of the cream and stir, keeping it on the heat and bubbling for about 2 minutes until syrup-like and smooth.
  6. Remove from the heat and leave to cool (this can also be used for smothering over ice cream to heart attack inducing levels or to line a pastry case for a twist on banoffee pie. It also goes really well with salted peanuts, peanut butter or chocolate)image
  7. Now begin on the pannacotta. Soak the gelatine leaves in a bowl of cold water for about 5 minutes.
  8. Meanwhile, warm the cream, milk, sugar, vanilla seeds (pop the pod in as well) on a gentle heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring up to the near boil and then remove from the heat. Remove the vanilla pod.
  9. Squeeze the excess water from the softened gelatine leaves and whisk into the the hot cream until dissolved.
  10. Get your serving glasses or ramekins (glass works well as you can see the layers) and spoon about 2 tbsp of cooled salted caramel into each base. Top with the panncotta mixture, carefully to avoid it disturbing the lower layer but this is not a problem if you do.
  11. Place in the fridge and leave to set for a minimum of 3 hours


Mini sweet pastry tart cases filled with a hazelnut mascarpone and a ginger mascarpone cream, topped with diced pear and honeycomb…..