Date Archives February 2013

Banana and Coconut Flapjacks

Whenever my fruit bowl is harvesting some compost worthy bananas I peel and bag them and shove them in the freezer ready when I need them when banana bread calls. So, never throw your poor bruised bananas in the bin, stick them in the freezer….consequently mine is full of bags of random bananas. I always make my standby banana and walnut loaf but with a hankering for something new this time, I tried whacking them into my flapjack recipe…..! I dabbled with the idea of  ‘banoffee flapjacks’ but with a hate of banoffee pie, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. But if you’re a fan, a handful of toffee or a drizzle of caramel on top would probably be your best bet.

  • 130g unsalted butter
  • 50g golden syrup
  • 50g soft light brown sugar
  • 250g oats
  • 50g dessicated coconut
  • 2 ripe bananas, mashed
  • Pinch ground cinnamon
  • Pinch ground ginger
  1. Line a baking/brownie tin with parchment and preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Melt the butter, sugar and syrup in a saucepan until melted and glossy.
  3. Whisk in the mashed banana and the spices (as liberally as you like)
  4. Tip in your oats and coconut and stir to combine before pouring into the lined baking tin. Bake for about 25-35 minutes. They should be golden on top and still soft. The banana will keep them from drying out like some flapjack recipes.


Trout with Almond and Orange Salsa

Fish and a vibrant salsa make the perfect marriage on the best of days but throw in some crunchy almonds and some cleansing fresh orange and you’ve got yourself a delicious swingers party……The texture of this ‘salsa’ add a lovely crunchy addition to the soft trout. It would also go brilliantly served with some blushing slices of roast lamb.

Serves 4

  • 90g flaked almonds
  • ½ lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 tsp runny honey
  • 1 orange- 1 tbsp orange juice squeezed
  • salt and pepper
  • Olive oil
  • Bunch of coriander
  • Bunch of mint
  • 4 trout fillets
  1. Heat a splash of oil in a pan over a moderate heat. Fry the flaked almonds for about 3-5 minutes until they begin to turn a nutty brown and release their flavour
  2. Tip into a pestle and mortar and crush lightly but not to a paste, keeping some texture
  3. Add the lemon juice and zest, orange juice, honey, salt and pepper, and loosen with a good few tablespoons of olive oil.
  4. Allow to cool slightly  while you cook you trout. Season the skin side well with salt and pepper. Heat some olive oil in a hot frying pan and when really hot, fry, skin side down for about 4 minutes to get it really crispy. Season the flesh side and then turn and finish cooking for 2-3 minutes on the flesh side on a lower heat. Baste with a knob of butter at the end.


When ready to serve, chop the herbs finely and stir through the salsa. Add more oil to loosen if you like and season and adjust to taste. Serve your warm trout topped with the fresh salsa.


All made that extra bit more delicious by my personalised plate, courtesy of KVStudios!

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Cakes

This makes a flavourful brunch alternative if you’re fed up with the usual options. Complete with self-saucing poached egg with (ok I admit, out of season) asparagus and crisp potato cake. A blob of ketchup and it’ll feel like a Sunday….

  • 2 large sweet potatoes
  • About 60g chorizo
  • 1 small garlic clove, crushed
  • Handful of flat leaf parsley, chopped
  • 4-5 spring onion
  • Large pinch of smoked paprika (optional)
  • Bunch of asparagus, chopped and blanched
  • 200g of spinach
  • 3 fresh free-range eggs
  • 50g unsalted butter
  1. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes and boil for about 8-10minutes in salted water until really soft and tender but not water logged. Drain and leave to steam dry
  2. Meanwhile, dice the chorizo into small pea sized chunks and fry in a hot, dry frying pan until the oils are released. Add the garlic and fry for a few minutes.
  3. Mash the potato to a paste and add the hot chorizo and garlic mixture.
  4. Finely chop the spring onions, including the green parts and add with plenty of seasoning and the chopped parsley and potato mix.
  5. Get pan of hot water on to boil ready for poaching your eggs.
  6. Return the frying pan to the heat and melt about 30g of the butter with a bit of oil until sizzling. Form the sweet potato into about 6 round, flat patties and fry in the butter for about 5 minutes each side until golden and crisp on each side. Drain on kitchen paper and keep warm.
  7. Heat the remaining butter in the frying pan and wilt the spinach and warm the asparagus with plenty of seasoning while you poach your eggs for a few minutes just until the whites are set but the yolk is gloriously runny (check by giving it a gentle prod, it should be squishy)
  8. Serve by placing a potato cake on the plate and stacking with asparagus and spinach, another potato cake and topped with the seasoned poached egg.


Vitamin C Brownies

These chocolate orange brownies won’t fight off scurvy but I’m sure the Government would say you’re well on your way to one of your five a day here…..they do contain orange zest after all. Add a packet of fruit pastels and hey….new years health resolution kept. I’ve made countless amounts of brownies and all have varying textures from ‘cakey’ to ‘gooey’ but this one I would describe as ‘fudgy’ I think.

Makes, well, more than enough….(about 25 squares)

  • 225g unsalted butter
  • 350g plain, good chocolate chopped into chunks
  • 150g walnuts (or hazelnuts)
  • 4 large free range eggs
  • 350g light brown muscovado sugar
  • 225g plain flour, sieved
  • Grated zest from 2 large oranges
  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C and line a 23x32cm deep tin with parchment. Alternatively, use a few smaller tins, it just depends how thick you want the end result.
  2. Put the walnuts onto a baking tray and toast in the oven for about 10 minutes until fragrant
  3. Melt the butter in a saucepan over a low heat and once beginning to turn liquidy add the chocolate chunks and stir until melted. Put aside to cool slightly.
  4. Put the eggs, sugar and orange zest into a large bowl and whisk for a good 5 minutes or so until light, airy and creamy.
  5. Add the slightly cooled chocolate mixture into the eggs and stir to combine.
  6. Add the walnuts and fold in with the sieved flour.
  7. Pour into your prepared baking tin and bake for about 20-25 minutes until set but with a slight ‘goo’ in the middle. Allow to cool in the tin before cutting into fudgy chunks and dust with icing sugar.

Also a great gift to cunningly ply any potential life-long friends or future husbands with…………..



ITV’s ‘Food Glorious Food’- surely any publicity is good publicity…..?

So I was a contestant on a new ITV cookery show called ‘Food Glorious Food’ which will be airing on Wednesday 27th February…… It was ‘searching’, rather broadly, for a particular recipe at the heart of British public’s culinary repertoires. The winner gets £20,000 and their gastronomic creation on the proud shelves of Marks & Spencer. So I thought, I’m British, I can cook….why not give it a go…..? My dish was a ‘Slow roasted shredded Pork Cassoulet’ and will be hitting the ‘forage in the pantry’ recipe archive soon.

But for now, I will be a comical and cringe-worthy addition to your Wednesday night TV viewing starting in the South West regional heats in Devon so keep your eyes pealed. It will be horribly embarrassing and painfully awful but you know what they say…….any publicity is good publicity! They do say that right…….RIGHT!!?


Spanish-style Fish Stew



I should really call this ‘30 minute Spanish-style fish stew’ as it really is quick. It is probably one of the most flavourful dishes you will get out of such a small amount of cooking. The spicy chorizo flavour provides a punchy character suitable for even the most headstrong bull-fighting Spaniard with delicate but robust enough chunks of meaty fish. It won’t take you hours to knock out and I frequently glam it up for dinner party occasions with extra shellfish or topped with a butter basted piece of crispy fried seabass. Alternatively, keep it hearty and rustic as I did here, which my student budget no doubt appreciated this week. I can guarantee it will leave you satisfied and happy as I feel right now writing this after a hearty bowl….

(Serves 3 generously)

  • 1 large bulb fennel or 2 small ones, halved and sliced (fronds and green tops reserved for garnish)
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 tbsp fennel seeds
  • 100g chorizo, sliced into chunks
  • 1 large clove garlic, sliced
  • 1 glass of dry white wine
  • 500g tomato passata
  • 1 pint hot, good fish stock
  • Squeeze lemon juice
  • Salt and freshly cracked black pepper
  • Meaty fish e.g. Haddock/cod/monkfish or a mixture
  • (Optional) Handful of cleaned mussels/prawns/sliced squid
  • Croutons to serve
  • Flat leaf parsley to serve
  1. Begin by heating some olive oil in a large casserole dish. Gently sweat the chopped onion and fennel for about 15 minutes over a low heat until soft and beginning to caramelise.
  2. Add the fennel seeds and fry for a few minutes to release the flavour and then add the garlic.
  3. Add the sliced chorizo and cook just until the oils begin to be released.
  4. Turn up the heat and de-glaze the pan with the white wine and simmer away for a few minutes.
  5. Add the tomato passata and the fish stock and stir to combine.
  6. Simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened (adding more stock for a thinner base if prefered) Season to taste with salt and plenty of heavy handed black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  7. Cut you fish into bite sized chunks. If using mussels and prawns, add these, and the chopped fish to the hot stew and cover with a lid. Simmer gently for a matter of minutes until the prawns are pink, the mussels are open and the fish is just starting to flake.
  8. Serve in oven warmed shallow bowls, garnished with chopped flat leaf parsley, the chopped fennel fronds and a handful or crispy croutons.

Alternatively serve with some fresh french bread, sourdough croutons and punchy rouille (see here). This is also lovely served at a dinner party glammed up with more shellfish and squid and topped with individual pieces of crisp fried seabass fillets.

WINE: Absolutely delicious served with one of the countries crispy whites – try this Lagar de Cervera, 2014 Albariño, Galicia available at Armit Wines.



WINE: Absolutely delicious served with one of the countries own crisp whites – try this Lagar de Cervera, 2014 Albariño, Galicia available at Armit Wines

Jess - Albarino

Spinach and Pea Fritters with Lime Butter



I am always making fritters and when I saw a version of this recipe in my new copy of Ottolenghi’s ‘Plenty’, I had to give it a go. This recipe has been adapted from the original- not out of an unappreciation of it but simply due to lack of the full list of ingredients in my pantry. I have replaced a few and added others such as the peas, some mint and more cumin. Like my other fritter recipes (see here) ….(and here) the basic batter of flour and egg is open to any ingredients! I had these as a lunch but they would be equally amazing with a poached egg, bacon and a creamy hollandaise as a muffin-less take on eggs Benedict for brunch…

Serves 3 (makes about 9 fritters)

  • 150g spinach
  • Handful of peas
  • 60g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 egg
  • 25g unsalted butter, melted
  • Salt and pepper
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp cumin seed
  • Splash of milk
  • 50g salted butter, softened
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • Small bunch mint, finely chopped
  1. Wilt the spinach in a hot pan with a splash of water until wilted. Drain in a sieve and squeeze out the excess water. Leave to cool. Blanch the frozen peas in boiling water for a few minutes and then drain and leave to cool.
  2. Meanwhile make the butter. Grate the lime zest into the salted butter and add the chopped mint. Mix with a fork until combined. Place the butter between some baking parchment and roll into a cylinder and chill in the fridge until needed.
  3. Now, whisk the flour, baking powder, melted butter, egg, salt and pepper, cumin and a splash of milk to form a batter.
  4. Chop the spinach and add, with the peas, to the batter mixture and stir.
  5. Whisk together and add enough milk to form a thick batter which is loose enough to spoon into pancakes in the pan.
  6. Heat some olive oil in a frying pan, enough to cover the base, and fry large spoonfuls of mixture for a bout 2 minutes on each side on a high-ish heat until a crust forms and they are golden brown.


6. Flip over and fry for a few more minutes until cooked. Drain on kitchen paper and serve, with a slice of lime, mint butter melted on top and a fresh tomato salad.


Spicy Lamb Patties, Coconut Flatbreads, Lime yoghurt – Beer



I love this type of food. Fresh, simple and filled with flavour this is one from the archive but is actually something I crave in the spring when the sun starts to shine! This looks like a long list but most of the ingredients will be in your pantry and all you need to do is simply throw them together! So when the Spring sun makes an appearance, take a little forage in the pantry for this perfect sharing-style meal for all your buddies with a couple of cold beers….

Spicy lamb patties

  • 500g lamb mince
  • 1 tsp flaky salt
  • 1 tsp cracked black pepper
  • ½ tsp cumin seed
  • 1tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp ras el hanout
  • 1-2 tsp smoked sweet paprika (depending on your hot levels)

Lime yoghurt

  • 250g thick Greek yoghurt
  • Handful of chopped mint, or coriander
  • Grated zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Salt and pepper

Coconut flatbreads

  • 250g plain flour
  • 150ml warm water
  • 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • Large handful of dessicated coconut
  1. Start with the lamb patties. Combine all the dry spices in a pestle and mortar and grind together.
  2. Using your hands, take golf ball sized pieces of lamb mince and roll in your hands and slightly flatten to form mini burger-like patties (alternatively make large burgers). Roll generously in the dry rub until coated and place on a plate. Continue until you have used up all the lamb and then cover the patties with cling film and chill.
  3. Now make the flatbread dough. Sieve out the flour and add the oil, seasoning and the dessicated coconut. Make a well in the centre and add the warm water.
  4. Using a fork, mix to combine until you have a dough. Tip out onto a lightly floured surface and knead briefly until it comes together.
  5. Place the dough ball in a floured bowl and cover with cling film to rest.
  6. Meanwhile make the yoghurt by combining all the ingredients and alter to taste with a bit more of anything you think it needs.
  7. Heat a large non-stick pan over a high heat and put on the extractor fan. Now, take walnut sized pieces of dough and roll out on a floured surface until you have about 6-8 flatbreads about 2mm thick. Fry over a high heat in a frying pan for a few minutes each side.They will puff up as they cook. If the heat gets to high and they char and burn before they are cooked through, turn the heat down a little. You just want a little charring and the coconut to toast. Complete with the remaining dough, wrapping them in a tea towel afterwards as you go to keep them warm and soft.
  8. Now heat some oil in the same pan over a high heat and fry the lamb patties for about 2-3 minutes each side until cooked through. The outside will look burnt but it will just be the spices charring and forming a crust for the juicy insides.

Serve the patties wrapped tightly in the warm flatbreads with the cool yoghurt and some fresh lemony dressed salad leaves in one small edible pouch.

Alternatively, I frequently cook this all on the barbeque in the summertime….imageimage

Pea and Edamame Bean soup

My pea and mint soup recipe is my default lunch when I fancy a bowl of warming comfort and I’m in a rush or can’t be bothered to simmer away a pot of vegetables. This time however, I added a few extra twists on my usual standby which were a nice change. In the January months when its cold and you want to be healthy, I often find I resort boringly to the same old recipes. This can be knocked out in about 15 minutes however and kept as pain or as fancy as you like.


  • 280g frozen garden peas
  • 400ml good quality hot chicken or vegetable stock (trust me it will make all the difference if its a good cube or a homemade stock)
  • 100g edamame or soya beans
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
  • Handful of fresh basil or mint leaves, finely chopped or shredded
  • Olive oil
  • Nigella seeds to garnish
  • Yoghurt to garnish
  1. Melt the butter and a splash of oil in a saucepan until bubbling.
  2. Add the onion and cook gently over a low heat for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent
  3. Add the chopped garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  4. Add the frozen peas and coat in the buttery onions
  5. Add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 5 minutes.
  6. Remove from the heat and puree with a hand blender
  7. Return to the heat and stir in the frozen edamame or soya beans. If it is too thick for you at this stage, add a splash of water.
  8. Simmer for a few minutes. Then stir through the chopped herbs.
  9. Season to taste and serve garnish with a swirl or natural yoghurt and a sprinkling of nigella seeds


Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

You know the moments when nothing but a chocolate cake will quite do? This cake is so moist and simple and courtesy of Nigella, the queen of chocolate desserts. With no butter its great for all those lactose intolerant folk and if you use ground almonds instead of flour…..gluten free! Plus, almonds give it an added texture which is really nice. I was slightly disappointed that it didn’t offer a deep and hearty enough chocolate flavour….I would suggest a generous painting in a dark ganache perhaps……? Anyhow, nothing pleased me more than taking a charitable and gluttonous chunk over to some appreciating friends to share the satisfaction. Of course, I kept some for myself too……… pass me the mascarpone…

  • 150ml olive oil
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 125ml boiling water
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 125g plain flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 3 eggs
  • 200g caster sugar
  1. Line a 23cm (ish) cake tin and preheat the oven to 170°C.
  2. Whisk the vanilla and cocoa powder into the boiling water until smooth. Leave to cool a little.
  3. Using an electric whisk or a food processor, combine the eggs, oil and sugar for a good few minutes until pale, frothy and airy.
  4. Pour in the chocolate mixture and combine.
  5. Then combine the flour and bicarbonate and stir into the chocolate mixture.
  6. In the words of Nigella- ‘pour the liquid batter’ into the lined cake tin and bake for 40-45 minutes until a knife inserted comes out clean (although it will be a moist cake)
  7. Serve warm with ice cream, mascarpone or anything that hits the spot!