Date Archives January 2014

Lime Meringue Pie


This was a last minute creation with the leftover lime curd and egg whites from my Mojito Cake. The lime curd was criminally moreish to waste and after smothering it liberally on warm toasted sourdough for breakfast I still had a healthy jar of this nectar to use up. With the leftover egg whites from the recipe and an orphaned sheet of buttery puff pastry mingling in the fridge, I thought I’d put a tweak on this usual culprit recipe that always seems to remind me of Nigel Slater’s ‘Toast’. Pre-bake your puff pastry case, fill it with lime curd, whisk you egg whites and smother on top and….(naturally…in the voice of Sue Perkins) BAKE!

Makes 1 pie

  • ½ quantity of lime curd (see here)
  • 3 egg whites
  • 170g caster sugar
  • 1 sheet puff pastry
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a greased tart tin with the sheet of puff pastry and press the pastry into the mould. Prick all over with a fork and line with greaseproof paper. Now fill with baking beans.
  2. Bake blind for 20 minutes then remove the beans and cook for a further 5 until lightly golden and the base is cooked.
  3. Whisk the egg whites in a large, very clean bowl until soft peaks form. Add the caster sugar, spoon by spoon, whisking in between until stiff, glossy and velvety peaks form.
  4. Fill the tart shell with the lime curd and spoon over the meringue. Spread out evening and then use a fork to create some height and textured peaks to the meringue which will crisp up on cooking.
  5. Bake at 180°C for about 15-20 minutes until set and browned.


Mojito Cake



Over the weekend I rather indulged in a culinary sense and selfishly used the excuse of a work birthday to make a cocktail inspired cake. After all, I do work at a wine company and it was only natural that booze should appear (albeit subtly) in any birthday creation to grace the office for the prying eyes and hopeful stomachs of the hungry workers. The rum I used was subtle but by all means spoon a few generous splashes over the warm cooked cakes once baked and allow to soak willingly into the sponge whilst cooling….

I have been wanting to try my hand at homemade curd for a while so now seemed like the perfect time! This cake recipe is loosely based on the one by John Whaite (from GBBO 2012) where I borrowed the curd measurements. However, the rest of the cake recipe I altered to my own tastes. But thanks John- the idea was yours.

NOTE: The quantities for the lime curd make double the amount you’ll need for this cake – unless of course you make 4 sponges and make it an extortionate 4 layered number. But making this quantity is easier than halving egg yolks and for me, extra curd and 3 spare egg whites equals one thing- ‘Lime Meringue Pie’.

Serves 1 small office of hungry workers


  • 220g self raising flour
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 220g butter
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1-2 tbsp rum (I used honey rum)
  • Pinch baking powder

Lime Curd

  • 250ml lime juice
  • 125g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Zest 1 lime
  • 175g caster sugar
  • 25g cornflour


  • 300ml double cream
  • 100g icing sugar, sieved
  • 1 tbsp rum
  • Bunch mint leaves
  1. Start with the lime curd. Place the lime juice, zest and butter in a saucepan and melt over a low heat until combined.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a bowl and then whisk in the cornflour until thick and creamy.
  3. Now, making sure you whisk continuously so you don’t get lime flavoured scrambled eggs, pour the hot lime and butter over the egg yolks whisking all the time until combined.
  4. Return the mixture to the pan and over a low heat, whisk continuously until it thickens (5-10mins). Keep whisking so the bottom doesn’t catch and scramble. Once thickened enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon, spoon into a shallow dish. Cover with clingfilm and chill.
  5. Preheat the oven to 180°C and grease and line two 20cm cake tins. For the cake, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in 2 of the eggs and the vanilla and them sift in half the flour and combine.
  6. Add the remaining eggs and the rest of the flour and the baking powder. Mix in the rum and divide the mixture between the baking tins.
  7. Bake for 30 minutes until cooked. If soaking in rum, once cooked prick all over and spoon over a little rum and allow them to cool in their tins before removing.
  8. Meanwhile, whisk the double cream with the icing sugar until thickened but still floppy and light- don’t overmix. Chop the mint leaves and fold in with the rum.
  9. Once ready to assemble, place one sponge halve on your serving board. Spoon over a generous spoonful of lime curd. Layer on top half the cream and place the other sponge half on top.
  10. Mix the remaining cream with 2-3 tbsp of the lime curd and spoon into a piping bag (optional). Pipe a neat decoration of your choosing on top and scatter with the small pretty mint leaves from your bunch of mint!



Plum and Five Spice Duck


An archived recipe I should have posted back in Autumn…pretend its Autumn and read on…

Slow cooked to perfection – plums are fashionably in season at the moment and duck is frankly deliciously tasty. It was a cold Autumnal evening. Need I say more….?

(Adapted from Jamie O)

Serves 4

  • 4 duck legs
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tsp five spice
  • 2-3 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red chilli, chopped
  • 16 plums, halved and stoned
  • 1 tbsp demerara sugar
  • 2 spring onions, sliced
  • Handful coriander, chopped
  • 8 oz wild/brown rice
  • 1 lime
  1. Marinade the duck legs in the soy, five spice, oil, star anise and cinnamon for as long as you can.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C and get a roasting tray ready.
  3. Place the chopped chillis, plums and sugar in the tray and drizzle over the marinade and mix well. Top with the duck legs, skin side up.
  4. Roast for 1-½ hours, turning the heat down after about 20-30 minutes once the skin is crisp and the fat has rendered a little. Alternatively, roast at a low 160-170°C for about 2 hours until the meat comes away from the bone and is tender.
  5. Meanwhile cook the rice. This is also lovely made with coconut milk (see here).
  6. Once the duck is ready, taste the sauce and adjust with soy to season and remove the cinnamon and star anise. Serve the rice topped with a duck leg and the roasted plums. Scatter with the sliced spring onions and coriander and a generous squeeze of lime.


Persian Pulled Lamb, Cauliflower Couscous, Pea Puree



A weekend of much need experimental cookery and kitchen therapy. I was craving an experiment in the kitchen and with the flat to myself, Julie & Julia playing away on repeat and the sun shining, this is what I churned out.When coming up with new recipe ideas and dishes I seem to find myself just thinking of my favourite flavours and seeing how I can wind them selfishly into the final product. This was wonderfully indulgent whilst being relatively healthy and undeniably tasty. The various textures keep it interesting and the strong flavours keep the healthy aspect well hidden.

I recently ventured to the ‘Wild Food Cafe’ (see here) tucked snuggly away in the Bohemian Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden. Located above the renound Neal’s Yard Remedies and around the corner from the infamous Neal’s Yard Diary it was sure to combine many of the local gems of the area that make Borough Market what it is. Oh and not to mention Monmouth Coffee tucked around the bend. As a ‘raw’ food cafe serving raw and healthy dishes the nutritious menu was right up my street. A menu that would have even the most devoted vegan speechless at the lack of opportunity for stereotypical complaining, I tried some interesting new delights (see below). So, I was inspired to do something back home in the raw style. I can see the attraction of having a raw food element in your diet. Gentle or little cooking maintains the important nutrients, but living a life on raw is unrealistic and downright boring if I’m honest. I was surprised not to have seen this ‘of-the-moment’ and stylish cauliflower couscous on the menu but its been on my ‘to cook’ list for long enough and now seemed like an opportune time to add texture to this lovely dish.

Serves 4

Pulled Lamb

  • 1 small shoulder lamb
  • 1 sprig rosemary, leaves picked
  • 1 sprig thyme, leave picked
  • 2 garlic gloves, chopped
  • 1 tbsp Ras el Hanout
  • Olive oil
  • 1 small glass white wine
  • 1 red onion. quartered

Pea Puree

  • 400g peas
  • Generous knob butter
  • Bunch mint, leaves picked
  • Vegetable stock
  • Salt and pepper

Cauliflower ‘Couscous’

  • 300g cauliflower florets
  • Large bunch mint, leave picked
  • Large bunch coriander,
  • 1 lemon/orange zest and juice
  • 60g flaked almonds
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C. Place the red onion in the bottom of a  roasting tin or a large casserole dish.
  2. Chop the rosemary, thyme and garlic finely together. Sprinkle the ras el hanout over the lamb with a few glugs of olive oil. Massage the spices into the meat and then add the herbs and garlic and coat the lamb.image
  3. Place the lamb on top of the onion and pour the wine around the bottom. Cover the pan with a lid or cover with foil and roast for 3 hours. Top up with a little water now and again if drying to prevent the bottom catching. After this remove the lid/foil and turn the heat up to 180°C to brown the lamb.
  4. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to rest while you make the side dishes.
  5. For the ‘couscous’, toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan until lightly brown. Pulse in a food processor until fine and the texture of couscous and place in a large bowl.
  6. Pulse the cauliflower florets in the processor similarly until you form a couscous like texture. Tip into the bowl with the almonds.
  7. Chop the herbs finely and add with the citrus zest to the bowl. Add a squeeze of the citrus juice, season and stir to combine and set aside at room temperature.
  8. Once ready to serve, boil the peas for a few minutes in the stock. Transfer them to the food processor (reserving the stock) with the mint leaves and the butter. Season and add a little of the cooking stock to loosen and puree until smooth.
  9. Carve or pull the slow cooked lamb into chunks and serve on top of the warm pea puree with the couscous on the side.

Tomorrows leftovers fried until crispy in the warm hands of a soft flatbread topped with some lime yoghurt and salad is nearly as good as the main event!

A brief review…..The Wild Food Cafe, Neal’s Yard, Covent Garden

On entering the Bohemian cafe we were met with long, packed communal tables with happy chatting diners. The odd tyedye t-shirt, flowery head band and a more than average number of dreadlocked men mirrored the my initial expectations. After a helpful and sincere welcome from the team, we sat positioned next to some whirring suspect machines that we soon learned were churning away the homemade chocolate and nut butters of which I am a fan of and have made in the past- a good start. The menu was really interesting and original. We dined on a superfood salad containing a handful of delights. Courgette noodles coated provocatively in a punchy mango dressing and some powerful fresh pesto eagerly wrapped around some grainy quinoa were just a few of the surprises in this supersalad. Their devine sprouted wheat bread, toasted, was hearty, malt-like and dense whilst their pumpkin seed ‘cheese’ was on par with the flavours of my pumpkin seed butter but with a cheesy and characteristic tang. Goodness knows how that was created but their raw cookery courses run in house during the week are a good place to start. But don’t be deterred by salad…the hearty falafel burger or the generously portioned ‘raw’ chocolate torte made with avocado and cocoa will satisfy any sceptic. And folks…if you have a taste card like myself then its 2-4-1! It was a mere steal at £13 for the two of us for lunch.


Spice Roasted Sweet Potato Soup, Lime-cardamon Yoghurt, Coconut Flatbread




Some relaxing blogging always starts the weekend off well. After a long week, it was nice to slow down and take my time over lunch instead of dashing home from work and being caped in my apron and up to my eyes in ingredients before I could even take off my coat! I love to constantly use different flavours and it really is the easiest thing to inspire a standard recipe by adding a few flavourful touches. If you haven’t got a stocked pantry of store cupboard ingredients then I highly recommend investing in a few essentials to be at hand and add to your cooking (see here). My store cupboard is by no means complete…storage space and budget don’t allow my dream pantry so for now I stick to the most useful ingredients.

This warming soup is smooth, creamy and cinnamon scented. Sweet potatoes have natural sweetness which goes really well with cinnamon and ingredients like maple syrup so the lime and cardamon yoghurt is a lovely fresh addition to top it off. Coconut flatbreads (just because) are heavenly.


Serves 4


  • 800g sweet potato, peeled, chopped into chunks
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 onion, chopped finely
  • 2 pints of good, hot chicken or vegetable stock

Lime Cardamon Yoghurt

  • 150g plain natural yoghurt
  • ½ lime – zest and juice
  • Few mint/coriander leaves
  • 3-4 cardamon pods

Coconut Flatbreads

  • 15g dessicated coconut
  • 75-80ml coconut milk/water
  • 125g flour
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Peel and chop you sweet potatoes into chunky pieces and add to a large roasting tray. Throw in your garlic cloves, whole and unpeeled.
  2. Drizzle with a couple of generous tablespoons of olive oil or sunflower oil and scatter over the cumin seeds, cinnamon and some generous seasoning. Mix until coated in the spices and roast for 30 minutes. Toss half way through cooking.
  3. Meanwhile, sweat and soften the onion in a little oil in a saucepan over the hob and prepare your stock.
  4. Make the flatbreads by combining the flour, seasoning and coconut in a large bowl. Add in your liquid and mix with a fork until combined. Bring together to form a smooth dough, adding a little more liquid if needed. Knead for a few minutes and then set aside to rest.
  5. For the yoghurt, combine in a bowl with the lime juice, zest, finely chopped mint and some salt and pepper. Bash the cardamon pods to remove the seeds inside. Grind these as fine as you can in a pestle and mortar and add to the yoghurt. Stir to combine then set aside.
  6. Once the potatoes are ready remove from the oven and pick out the garlic cloves. Add the potatoes to the sweating onion. Squeeze the roasted and sweet garlic pulp from their skins and add with the potatoes.
  7. Add the stock and simmer for 5-10 minutes until the flavours are combined and the potatoes are really tender.
  8. Puree with a hand blender until silky and smooth. Add a little more stock to thin the soup if you like.
  9. Keep warm while you cook the flatbreads. Heat a frying pan over a high heat. Divide the dough into four equal pieces and roll each out thinly on a floured surface. Fry each in a the dry hot pan for a few minutes each side until a lightly charred and they begin to puff up slightly.
  10. Serve warm immediately (or keep warm in the oven) with a generous warming bowl of spiced soup drizzled with the fresh yoghurt.


Keralan Fish Curry (and a lime flavoured discovery)


Coconut is definitely up there in my top 5 favourite ingredients…go ahead and strand me on a dessert island with nothing but this hairy white fleshed treat (FYI..coconut oil also makes a great hair conditioner….I diverge). Keralan curries are notoriously flavoured with coconut along with the stereotypical scents of whole and ground spices. The curries here are different from the Northern region and much fresher for my tastes anyway. This fish curry is spicy but feels light and cleansing. Not stodgy and firey like some can often be.

As for my lime discovery. Once n a while I’ll have a foodie discovery and find an ingredient or cooking tool that just makes me smile and feel inspired. To name a handful off the top of my head…my first taste of black pudding, my first chai tea latte and perhaps (weirdly) my first devils-on-horseback one Christmas eve. I’m unsure whether its the low expectations of a food that make it all the more magical or the moment in which you eat it when you are desperately hungry which make it all the more enjoyable but everyone can name a few times they’ve eaten something memorable. So, fresh Kaffir lime leaves. I’ve only ever used the dried variety as often specified in recipes. After forking out my hard earned pennies for a tiny pot of these dried and parched leaves packaged pretentiously in fancy packaging, I pleasingly discovered the fresh type. Oh my. What a difference one green and chlorophyll packed leaf can make to a dish. I bought a packet of fresh lime leaves from my local Sainsburys (not cheaply when you think you’re buying leaves?) But WELL worth it. Popping just one (be gentle, their powerful) into my simmering and creamy coconut curry sauce for a matter of 15-20 minutes infused it with a fragrant, fresh and amazing flavour. After cutting up a lime for garnish, I aptly threw it aside- not needed here!

So my foodie followers. Find fresh leaves where you can and don’t skimp on them if you want the amazing flavour.

Serves 3-4

  • 1 large onion
  • 1 small red chilli, chopped finely
  • 2cm piece of ginger, grated finely
  • 2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seed
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 200ml water (or see tip below for a light stock*)
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf OR ½ juice of a lime
  • Handful of desiccated coconut
  • 400gor about 2 white fish fillets, chopped into large 2inch chunks
  • 12 raw tiger prawns (if bought in their shells- see tip below*)
  • 1 tsp tamarind paste
  • Handful of sugar snaps/mange tout/green beans enough for (3-4 people)
  1. Heat a little oil in a heavy based pan. Add the mustard, fenugreek and coriander seed and fry until beginning to pop and smell fragrant.
  2. Add the chopped onion and fry on a lowish heat for about 5 minutes until really soft and infused with the spicy flavour.
  3. Once soft, add the chilli and cook for a few more minutes before adding the ginger and doing the same.
  4. Add the dry spices and cook out for 1 minute or so.
  5. Add the coconut milk, the stock and that magic lime leaf.
  6. Simmer gently for about 10-15 minutes. You want to allow enough time to infuse the flavours of the spices and the lime but reduce the sauce until thicker and creamy.
  7. Once nearly at the desired consistency, add a handful or two of dessicated coconut and a handful or chopped coriander, saving most for garnish. Add the tamarind paste for sweetness.
  8. Throw in your vege but don’t overcook- keep it crisp.
  9. Add the fish and turn the heat down to a low simmer so you don’t boil it. Poach the fish gently in the sauce for about 3-4 minutes (don’t be tempted to overdo it- fish will cook so easily, you could even take it off the heat and leave it and it would cook). Add the prawns for the final few minutes until the fish turns opaque and just begins to flake. (If not using a Kaffir lime leaf, squeeze in ½ the juice of your lime here)
  10. Serve warm in large bowls with rice or naan bread. Garnish with extra chopped coriander and sliced spring onions if you like. A handful or two of cashew nuts wouldn’t go amiss here either.

A few tips

  • Keep the fish chunky as you don’t want it to break up too much. Please don’t be tempted to cook the fish for too long. You want it just flaking but still moist.
  • Similarly, don’t cook the hell out of the prawns. Overcooking can turn the juiciest and biggest of prawns into tiny, shrived and dry mouthfuls. They only need a minute or so until just turned pink
  • ***If you buy your prawns shelled, don’t throw the shells away! Use that amazing flavour. Feel the shell (and heads if you’re lucky) from the prawns and set them aside. Fry the shells in a little oil until turning pink. Add a splash or white wine and simmer. Add some boiling water and simmer for about 5-10 minutes until fragrant. The amazing flavour from the shells will really make a difference. Sieve and discard the shells and use 200ml of this stock for your curry.
  • Buy fresh Kaffir lime leaves- see above for reasons
  • Use whole spices- they’ll really make a difference
  • Use full fat coconut milk- it will be creamier and more indulgent. Light will work too but it may need further reduction.

And finally, enjoy…and don’t rub chili in your eye like I’ve just done.


Moroccan Lamb Steaks with Pistachios and Feta




I can never pin down my favourite cuisine when asked. However….one which I always seem to default to if I feel like a speedy, tasty meal which requires enough attention and time to satisfy my creative kitchen energy but not enough to have me slaving after a long day at work is Moroccan. I love this style of food. I nearly ventured to Marrakesh for a long weekend last year but sadly without success I cannot say this is totally authentic based on experience but the flavours are along the lines of those used.

I created these dishes as a (candidly) selfish means of using some of my favourite ingredients together in one final meal of 2013. This is all about assembly really….get all your components chopped or toasted or diced or chilled as per the ingredients list before you start and its a doddle. Simply a case of chucking everything together in a Jamie style approach at the last minute will guarantee to keep everything as fresh and crisp as possible!

Serves 4


  • 4 lamb leg steaks
  • 2 tbsp spice mix (toast 1tsp of each fennel, cumin, coriander and fenugreek seed, mustard 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) If you don’t want to make one then use a good tbsp of Ras el Hanout which will also be delicious
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Large handful pistachio nuts (crushed finely in a pestle and mortar)
  • 60g feta, crumbled
  • ½ pomegranate- seeds picked
  • 100g plain yoghurt
  • 1 lime, juice and zest

Jeweled Rice Salad

  • 6 oz wild or brown rice
  • Handful of flaked almonds
  • Handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 orange, juice only
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • 3 spring onions, sliced


  • 2 x red chicory
  • 2 baby gems lettuces
  • ½ cucumber, sliced thinly
  1. Start with the lamb. Massage with the oil, a little seasoning and the spice mix and leave to marinate at room temperature for about an hour.
  2. Next, start the rice salad. Cook your rice according to the instructions. Meanwhile, soak the dried cranberries in the juice from the orange for at least 20 minutes until they have plumped up a little (do this while the rice cooks and the lamb marinates). Chop your spring onions into slithers and toast your flaked almonds in a dry hot frying pan if you haven’t done so already.
  3. Once the rice has cooked, drain and tip back into the warm saucepan. Tip over the soaked cranberries and the remaining orange juice and keep warm with the lid on while you finish the rest of the components.
  4. Assemble the salad by tossing together the chicory leaves, lettuce leaves and the cucumber.
  5. Heat a frying pan until hot. Cook the lamb steaks for about 2 minutes on each side based on a thickness of about 2cm for medium. Once cooked, transfer to a sheet of foil, wrap tightly and leave to rest while you finish the salads.image
  6. Mix the yoghurt with the lime juice and zest and place in a bowl on a serving platter.
  7. Mix the warm rice with the chopped coriander and spring onions in a serving dish and scatter over the toasted flaked almonds.
  8. When you are nearly ready to serve, dress the salad leaves lightly with a little fresh lemon juice and some olive oil and season lightly.
  9. Finally, once ready to serve, slice the lamb into finger width strips.  Scatter the crushed pistachios on plate and coat the lamb strips in the nut crumbs. Arrange the lamb on a serving platter and drizzle over any resting juices. Scatter over the crumbed feta, the pomegranate seeds a few flecks of coriander and serve alongside the yoghurt.

Serve the salad, lamb and rice all together at room temperature straight away and devour immediately with a warm cup of peppermint tea if you like!

Coffee and Date Drizzle Cake






This cake is moreish, moist and had me (who has the most pathetic of sweet tooth) eyeing up my second piece as I licked the crumbs clean from my greedy fingers after my first piece. Its not as ‘coffee-ey’ as a traditional coffee and walnut sponge but the use of this Percol fine powdered espresso coffee works wonderfully to create a deep coffee background hum. Super fine and smooth and a good way to get your coffee cake hating friends to relish the joys of this treat.

Feel free to experiment a little here with the icing flavour or dried fruit. Figs or prunes would be effective for example instead of dates. Try soaking them in brandy, cognac or even rum first! Try flavourng your icing with cinnamon or cocoa for a mocha effect. However, I feel the icing needs to be coffee flavoured to really bring out the flavour in this cake!

1 small Cake

  • 110g unsalted butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 small eggs
  • 75g ground almonds
  • 100g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 12g cocoa powder
  • 160ml strong coffee (I used Percol espresso powder), cooled slightly
  • 65ml buttermilk
  • 80g dates, sliced (reserve a few for decoration)


  • 250g mascarpone
  • 80g sieved icing sugar
  • 1 tsp coffee mixed with a splash of boiling water.
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Line and grease 2 cake tins. I used 2 small 6inch tins so the sponges were fairly thick. Make up the coffee and soak the dates in the hot liquid briefly if you like.
  2. Cream the butter and caster sugar together until fluffy. Whisk the eggs and vanilla and add, a bit at a time, until combined with the buttercream.
  3. Sieve together the bicarbonate, flour, almonds and cocoa and fold in to the egg mixture.
  4. Mix in the cooled coffee and the buttermilk to form a smooth batter and divide equally between the tins.
  5. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes and then turn the temperature down to 180C°. Bake for a further 25-30 minutes or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  6. Meanwhile, make the filling. In a large bowl beat the mascarpone with the icing sugar and add the coffee. Chill until needed.
  7. Make the syrup by mixing together about 1 tbsp of coffee with 50ml hot water and a tbsp of caster sugar.
  8. Once the cakes have cooked, remove from the oven and leave in their tins to cool for 10 minutes or so. Prick the cakes and spoon over the syrup and leave to cool completely.
  9. Once cooled, they are ready to ice. I could have got away with cutting each of my sponges in half horizontally to make a 4 tiered cake but do as you please. Divide the icing over the sponges.
  10. Decorate with some slices of dates and some crushed cocoa nibs if you like!





Chilli and Cornbread




This is one of those rare suppers that is all the more appreciated when eaten in front of the TV on a chilly winters evening warming your lap- served in a warm bowl topped with cooling soured cream, freshly made guacamole and a hearty door-stop-wedge of cornbread smothered in butter or extra cheese- it hits the sport every time!

If you prefer, serve with rice instead of cornbread. I also highly advise you to make your own guacamole- I promise it is one of the easiest things to knock up and once you’ve made it, you’ll never buy a plastic pot of the gloppy stuff again. Regardless of taste- its quicker to make too!

Chilli (Serves 3-4)

  • 450g beef mince
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped finely
  • 1 tsp each- ground cumin, coriander, chilli powder, chilli flakes
  • 300ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 heaped tsp marmite
  • 400g chopped tomatoes
  • 1 can kidney beans
  • To serve- soured cream, guacamole, cornbread or rice
  1. Heat a heavy based saucepan on the hob and add a splash of olive oil and soften the onion and red pepper for 10 minutes or so. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.
  2. Add the mince, break up and brown well. Add the spices and cook out for a few minutes.
  3. Turn up the heat and add the wine, Worcestershire sauce and marmite and brink to a simmer.
  4. Add the tomatoes and stir to combine.
  5. Either simmer gently with a lid on, on the hob for 20 minutes or in an oven preheated to 180°C
  6. After this time, add the kidney beans and stir well. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes until the liquid has reduced and thickened. This can cook away slowly for as long as you like, in a low oven. If it gets dry, add a splash of water.


  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 1 small red chilli, chopped finely
  • 1 lime, juice and zest
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  1. Mash up the avocado flesh with a fork in a small bowl,
  2. Stir in the chopped chilli, lime juice and zest and coriander and season. Serve at room temperature.

CornbreadSee here



Moroccan Slow-cooked, Shredded Lamb Tagine and a Tuscan Red



Warming, spicy, comforting. Undertones of festive cinnamon and some punchy chilli. Sweet prunes, melting succulent slow cooked lamb and the freshness of lime all make this tagine one of my absolute favourites dishes! I once made this recipe when I catered for a 30th Birthday party for 70 people….needless to say, after repeatedly cooking up around 12 batches, my once favourite tagine recipe became a little hard to face again. However, enough time has passed and I couldn’t resist its tempting taste for my New Years Eve celebrations!

I give credit to the wonderfully wholesome and flavour laden style of Skye Gyngell for this recipe with a little adaptation from myself. I often serve mine, as recommended, simply scattered with fresh coriander on a creamy sweet potato puree. However, New Years Eve called for a glimmering jeweled rice salad and a tangy lime yoghurt.

NOTE: I’ve always used diced lamb shoulder for this recipe but this time I used a whole shoulder of lamb and cooked it on the bone for longer and shredded the juicy meat into the tagine sauce before serving. I highly recommend this if you’re willing to add a little more effort. If not, diced lamb shoulder works perfectly too!

Serves 6

  • 1 small shoulder of lamb, or about 1kg diced lamb shoulder
  • 3 red onions, chopped roughly
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3cm knob ginger, grated
  • Bunch of coriander, stems chopped, leaves picked for garnish
  • 1-2 red chillis (depending on their heat) finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp spice mix (made by toasting 1tbsp of each fennel, cumin, coriander, fenugreek and mustard seed with 1 cinnamon stick, 3 cardamon pods and 1 star anise in a dry frying pan until hot, fragrant and beginning to pop. Grind in a pestle and mortar until fine).
  • 2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1- 1.5 litres chicken stock
  • 1 lime, juice only
  • 200g prunes
  • Optional- Skye suggests adding a splash of maple syrup (about 70ml) and100ml of tamari at the end of cooking. However, I never had these to hand on my first attempt so I left them out- it still tastes delicious without so feel free to experiment. For my tastes, I think the prunes add enough sweetness as it is without the need for syrup!
  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. In a large heavy bottomed casserole dish, heat a splash of oil. Season the lamb and brown the shoulder/pieces well in the pan for about 10 minutes or so before setting aside to rest.
  3. In the remaining oil and lamb juices, fry the onion for about 5 minutes until soft.
  4. Add the chopped garlic, chilli and ginger and cook for a further few minutes.
  5. Add the spice mix, cinnamon sticks and bay leaves and cook out for a few minutes. Finally, add the chopped coriander stems and season.image
  6. Add the tomatoes and bring to the simmer. Add the lamb back in at this stage either in diced pieces or the whole shoulder.
  7. Cover with about 1 litre of the stock or enough to cover. I find the amount of stock varies and can be topped up during cooking for a thicker tagine once it has reduced
  8. Cover and place in the oven.If using a whole shoulder cook for about 2 hours. If using diced lamb, cook for 45 minutes.
  9. After this cooking time, add the prunes and remove the lid. Cook for a further 1 hour for the shoulder or 30 minutes or so for the diced lamb. This really cannot be overcooked so allow to cook away for longer on a lower heat if you like. Just keep checking/adding more stock if it gets too thick. (Essentially, cook until the lamb is tender and the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency. Add more stock is to thick (I usually top it up as it cooks) or remove the lid to brown and reduce if too thin)
  10. Once ready, add the lime juice and (if using the whole shoulder) shred the lamb meat into the sauce.
  11. Scatter with the coriander and serve!

I served mine with:

Lime yoghurt½ lime, juice and zest, and some seasoning per 150g plain yoghurt)

Jeweled Rice – Cooked wild rice, diced spring onions, chopped coriander, salted cashews and pomegranate seeds (or see here for similar recipe)

WINE: In terms of a wine to drink with this tagine, all I had to hand was this (below) delicious bottle from Italy that I received as a gift that I have been too tempted to open for some time! A Tuscan wine made from a blend of Merlot, Cab Sauv and Sangiovese. Lamb and the typical dried fruits in this tagine went really well with the juicy Merlot flavours as would perhaps a Rioja of sorts.