Date Archives March 2014

Chorizo and Balsamic Lentils


This weekend I journeyed home for a village pig feast that has been vigorously and unheathily circled in the diary for a while! I’ll explain. My home village where I grew up and spent my life can be imaged as a hybrid of the ‘Vicar of Dibley’ and ‘Hot Fuzz’ (without the killings I stress!) A Wiltshire village with a stereotypical local pub, glorious fields and the strong signature smell of manure tainting the air like the smell of perfume at the duty free! For the past few years we’ve shared the caring, feeding and more importantly eating, of two village pigs who we take in turns to feed and water only to butcher respectfully 6 months down the line and divide up the takings. From piglets to healthy happy curly tailed porkers the sausages and juicy joints of pork that have filled our freezer for a long while have been some of the best I’ve had. We’ve had some teathing issues along the way but nothing can beat the taste of happy wholesome and local meat. So this weekend we saved a giant leg to roast and feast on with all the team! It was delicious and I have nothing else to add.

However, after a rich and fatty roast with shards of caramel cracking, sweet and sharp apple sauce and lashings of wine (perhaps too many lashings?) I craved the fresh flavours of fish and vegetables. This little dish is so simple to knock out but so tasty and pleasing in many ways.

Serves 2

  • 2 seabass fillets, seasoned
  • 4oz Puy lentils
  • 100g chorizo
  • 1 large garlic clove, chopped
  • Bunch flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 4-5 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Vegetables to serve
  1. Simmer the Puy lentils for about 15 minutes until soft and tender but with a slight bite (don’t let them get mushy). Drain and keep warm.
  2. Chop the chorizo into hearty chunks and fry in a medium hot pan until they begin to release their scarlet oils. Add in the garlic and fry for a few more minutes but don’t burn so keep an eye out.
  3. Turn up the heat a little and add the vinegar (and stick on the extractor fan as it will be pungent!). Simmer the vinegar until thickened and syrupy.
  4. Add this chorizo mix with the oily balsamic juices to the lentils. Grate in the zest of the lemon and add the herbs and season. Set aside and keep warm.
  5. Fry the seabass fillets, lightly seasoned, in a tsp of hot oil for a matter of 2-3 minutes on the skin side until crisp turning for the last 30 seconds to finish off.
  6. Serve the lentils topped with the seabass and some freshly steamed and buttery asparagus or green beans.

Vietnamese Salmon and Crisp Vegetable Miso Salad

Experimenting with miso this week in this delicious dressing. This recipe is super punchy, packed with flavour and as healthy as a detoxing cucumber on a spa day. Aka. Super cleansing.

Serves 2

Crisp Vegetable Miso Salad

Miso-ginger Dressing

  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp white miso paste
  • 2 tsps grated or minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, grated
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp flavourless oil e.g. sunflower/vegetable oil

Crisp Vegetable Salad

  • 1 Chinese cabbage/white cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 large courgette
  • Handful radishes, thinly slices
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Small handful of mint leaves, chopped
  • ½ small red chilli, chopped finely
  • Small knob ginger, chopped finely
  • 1 lime, zest only
  • Handful roasted peanuts
  1. Combine the dressing ingredients and whisk until combined.
  2. Shred the cabbage and add to a large bowl. Use a julienne peeler if you have one to get thin spaghetti likes strips of carrot and courgette. If not, grate or chop finely how you like.
  3. Combine with the cabbage and add the rest of the ingredients.
  4. Add the dressing, a spoonful at a time (you may not need it all and don’t want to drown the salad) and mix until combined to your liking. Set aside.


  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 1 tbsp light brown soft sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soya sauce
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce
  • 1 stalk of lemongrass, bashed
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  1. Combine the marinade ingredients in a bowl and add the salmon. Chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.
  2. When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 200°C. Line a baking tray with foil and spoon a little of the marinade over the surface to stop it sticking. Place the salmon on top and spoon over a little marinade to keep it moist. Cook the salmon for 7-8 minutes, less for a thinner fillet – you want a really moist piece of fish so remove from the oven when just cooked. It will carry on cooking as it rests.
  3. Remove from the oven and serve immediately on top of the salad and garnish with extra coriander and peanuts.


Mango-chilli Salsa and Halloumi

I don’t know where the first week of March has gone but I can surely say that it officially feels like spring! The suns been out and daffodils are starting to infiltrate their way onto desks and kitchen tables. Time for spring clean of the same old lunch time menu (i.e. soup) and a refreshing recipe….

Serves 2 (for a good lunch)

  • 1 mango, cut into 2cm cubes
  • About 8 cherry tomatoes, diced
  • ½ red chilli, chopped finely
  • ½ small red onion, chopped finely
  • Bunch coriander, chopped
  • Bunch mint, chopped
  • Bunch basil, chopped
  • ½ pomegranate, seeds
  • 1 lime
  • 6 slices halloumi
  • Runny honey
  • Handful sesame seeds
  1. Combine the first 8 ingredients in a large bowl and muddle together with the juice of the lime. Season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of extra virgin olive oil
  2. Heat a frying pan until hot and add a small drizzle of oil. Fry the halloumi until golden on both sides. Turn the heat off and add a tsp of runny honey and the sesame seeds and coat the halloumi for about 30 seconds before removing from the heat.
  3. Serve the salsa topped with the warm halloumi slices.



Marsala soaked Prune and Chocolate Brownies



The weather recently (with the odd exception) has been quite frankly horrendous that even the wine samples I bought home from work last week have resorted to their own wetsuits. (Some new Armit wine carriers which were enthusiastically handed out at work). If new to Armit Wines see here….we have a healthy collection of vino.

After a long week, some juicy samples were a welcome bounty to whisk home accompanied with the new sly advertising to an unshameful Friday evening in. Yes, I stayed in. It was bliss.

The wine. This Seresin Estate (Organic) Sauvignon Blanc is a definite crowd pleaser for those who love this NZ favourite. Flawlessly zesty with fresh, acidic and noteworthy mouthwatering and sharp gooseberry flavours. I immediately knew it would please my mum’s taste so off home I went the following day with sample and an extra shiny halo. Its a nice punchy wine but confirms my appreciation for more classic French wines which I’m growing to love more….

In addition to this white I also bought home a downright delicious and luxurious Marsala. My mind instantly went to my favourite wild mushroom, pancetta and marsala baked chicken recipe but I felt the harvest of my kitchen creations should be shared with the office so a baked creation was in order. Rich, moist and deep dark chocolate brownies with plump sweet prunes drunk and bloated on this boozy Marsala…





It is also ‘Fairtrade’ week so as a nod to the chaps at Green & Blacks and a toast to the founding of the Fairtrade Foundation I urge you to use their Fairtrade chocolate here or another equally good natured product. This basic brownie recipe (minus the prunes) is courtesy of Bill Granger and is one I’ve been meaning to attempt. Warming – they are very rich!

Marsala soaked Prune and Chocolate Chunk Brownies

Makes about 18-20 large ones

  • 350g caster sugar
  • 80g Green & Blacks Cocoa powder
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 200g unsalted butter, melted
  • 200g Green & Blacks dark cooking chocolate, chopped
  • 140g pitted prunes
  • 4 tbsp marsala
  1. Begin by soaking the prunes in the marsala for about 6 hours of overnight – the longer you do this the more they will absorb the booze so the less you will have to waste!
  2. Preheat the oven to 160°C and grease and line a brownie tin (mine was)
  3. Sieve the flour, baking powder and cocoa and mix with the sugar.
  4. Add the melted butter, eggs, vanilla and stir to combine.
  5. Chop the prunes into big chunks and add with the chopped chocolate and mix.
  6. Spoon into the lined brownie tin and bake for 40 minutes or less for an molten centre.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin before removing to a wire rack and slicing into decadent chunks.

Thai Coquina Squash Soup


You don’t have to use a Coquine squash here – butternut or any other meaty variety will do- but the animated colour was just so bright and vibrant to resist. The sun was finally glowing today to mark the 1st March (already! where has time gone?) so it seemed appropriate to reflect this.

This soup is like a bowl of spicy chilli flecked lava with wonderful flavours. Butternut squash is the king of soup ingredients I think as it creates such a wonderful silky texture. Feel free to use half stock and half coconut milk here for a deeper coconut flavour and an even creamier texture. I didn’t purely as I didn’t have enough to hand.

NOTE: For both garnish and if using in addition to stock, use a thick good quality coconut milk. The cheap varieties in the ethnic sections of many supermarkets are always better value and are thicker and creamier.




Serves 4

  • 1 large squash
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli (medium hot or half a hot one…depends on taste), chopped
  • 3-4cm piece ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp black mustard seeds
  • 1 fresh Kaffir lime leaf
  • 700ml hot chicken stock
  • 1 lime
  • Bunch coriander
  • Coconut milk (to garnish or use 350ml stock and 350ml coconut milk. and half coconut milk for a creamier soup)
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  1. Heat a splash of oil in a saucepan and gently soften the onion for about 5 minutes.
  2. Once soft, add the garlic, ginger, chilli and mustard seeds and fry for a few more minutes until the flavours have combined.
  3. Meanwhile, peel and deseed the squash reserving the seeds. Chop into chunks and add to the pan and combine with the onion mix.
  4. Add the stock (if you like you can use half stock half coconut milk) and the lime leaf and some seasoning and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 15minutes until the squash is soft.
  5. Remove from the heat and discard the lime leaf. Blend until fine and smooth with a hand blender. Add the juice from the lime and all but a handful of coriander and bend again.Taste to check the seasoning and keep warm.
  6. Heat a frying pan until hot. Remove any pith from the reserved seeds and fry in a tsp of oil for a few minutes. Add the desiccated coconut and fry until toasted. Remove from the heat.image
  7. To serve, fill warm soup bowls with the soup, drizzle with some coconut milk and garnish with the toasted seeds and extra coriander.

I served mine with some warm charred flatbreads (see here) spiked with Nigella seeds and smothered in butter.