Date Archives February 2015

Chocolate Fondant with Frangelico Mascapone


I’ve always been in awe of the chocolate making process after watching an enlightening series featuring the modern day Willy Wonker, Willie Harcourt-Cooze. An enthusiastic middle class chocolate dreamer, he set about to live his dream of authentic chocolate making. To me, England feels like a country of chocolate addicts, or more likely, sugar addicts disgusing themselves as cacoa enthusiasts!? Without sounding like a chocolate snob, many of the milk chocolate bars that litter the countries newagents shelves have such a low cacao/‘chocolate’ content that in some countries it would be illegal to title this chocolate!

I’m an adorer of the dark stuff. The darker the better. I’ve always been amazed at how a 100% bar is created? With no sugar to bind it together its a pure cacao lovers heaven. Its painful sharing my 90% bar of goodness, when I just know that the majority will screw up thier faces in fright as they force down the ‘bitter soap’ they’ve just eaten as they compare to the likes of our dairy milk. But my chocolate interest has promted me to sample styles made from a variety of beans from all over the world and to really appreciate the differences in flavours. refining my love of the pure taste and the lower sugar content.

So when a work collegaue refreshingly and surprisingly bought in some tasty samples of his families homemade chocolate from their humble little Cotswold business – Doble & Bignall – I was keen to devour a piece and was taken by the first bite. Like beer, cheese and wine, chocolate varies in flavour substantially. Not just with the percentage but with the beans and country. Doble & Bignal have a small range of bars using beans from the likes of Panama and Venezuelan. The chocolate is smooth, tasty and distinctive. Perfect for a cheeky recipe. I kept the fonadant simple (I know…me not messing with a recipe!? Shocker) Firsty because shamefully this was the first fondant I’d attempted ever to make and the goo-cented, molten chocolate lava that should sterotypicaly weep from the middle like a happy sobbing child was far too much pressure to meddle with at this stage. So instead, go crazy on accompaniment. Frangelico mascapone, vanilla and orange ice cream or just heavily doused in a thick wall spporting, cement-like spatula of whippped double cream.


Serves 6


  • 85g caster sugar
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 150g dark chocolate (E.g. Doble & Bignal’s bar)
  • 3 whole free range eggs
  • 3 whole eggs yolks
  • 1 tbsp plain flour
  • Soft butter and cocoa powder to line the moulds
  1. Start by greasing 6 small dariole moulds with butter. Dust with cocoa powder and shake of any excess. Set aside on a baking try.
  2. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  3. In a heatproof bowl combine the sugar, butter and chocolate and melt over a pan of barely simmering water. Allow to melt fully then set aside to cool slightly.
  4. When it is luke warm, whisk in the eggs continuously. The mixture will begin to thicken but keep whisking (don’t be tempted to add the eggs while the chocolate is still too warm of the eggs will scramble…yuck). Then fold in the flour.
  5. Pour the mixture evenly into the moulds and then chill for at least 25 minutes.
  6. Bake in the oven for about 12 minutes. Take out of the oven, run a knife around the edge and turn out onto a plate. Serve with a dollop of your chosen cream and watch and enjoy in awe as (hopefully) your gooey fondant melts all over your plate…!

NOTE: I took my first test fondant out of the oven after 10 minutes and it still felt a little squishly in the middle to the touch. With the risk of having an overocoked fondant I took it out anyway. Shamefully on turning out it collapsed all over the plate….hence the additional mintues. However, oven will vary so perhaps cook for less time and do a touch test before remving the whole batch if the pressure is on…!

Frangelico Mascarpone

Please note – I did this by taste so the below measurements are a total guide. Start with less and keep adding more sugar and liquer until it is to your taste.

  • 250g mascarpone
  • About 4 tbsp sieved icing sugar (or as much as you like just to sweeten)
  • 1-2 tbsp frangelico liquer (to taste)
  1. Whisk the frangelico and icing sugar into the mascarpone, tasting as you go along to sweeten as you like.


Seabass in a Fragrant Coconut Sauce


As an avide foodie I crave and adore nothing more than a night in with a new recipe, ingredient, technique or guest to experiment on for the blog! Cheaper, more fun and far more relaxing. However, since moving to London the expanse of diverse, exciting and vibrant culinary pop-ups, restaurants, cafes and bars has stolen part of my attention which had been held hostage to the blog for a long while. I rarely eat out, only really on occasion. And then, nothing pains and bruises me more than ordering (or eating!) something I could have made myself. Be it better, warmer, larger or cheaper! Hence, I choose my dining locations carefully and my menu choices with thought.

However, as a fellow foodie, my willing sister and I venture out on a monthy or so basis to one of London’s restaurants to excite our taste buds, get inspiration and frankly for a girly catch up. Our list of ‘must try restaurants’ is only growning sadly. It seems that once one is ticked off another is added. We’ve had some great food but last Friday, after long frustrating working weeks, a home cooked delicious meal was in order. A few luxurious king prawns, a little love, time and attention and an aromatic riesling guaranteed and certainly delivered a more relaxing, cheaper, (boozier…..ahem…..) and enjoyable evening. This dish was delicious and hit the spot for flavour, decadence (without being time consuming I add, especially if you miss out the stock infusion at the start) and highly satisfying. Followed by a few too many scoops of my cheats salted caramel ice cream it was agreed that an evening in was far more rewarding and enjoyable than filling London’s bars and tills with our hard earned cash!

Serves 4

  • 4 seabass fillets
  • 8-10 large raw whole king prawns (win heads and shell) Optional – if you want to make a flavoursome stock. Raw cleaned prawns are fine if not.
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • Thumb sized piece ginger, grated
  • 20g tumeric root, grated
  • 1 large red chilli (heat according to taste)
  • 350ml fish stock
  • 400ml coconut milk
  • 1 stick lemongrass
  • 1 Kaffir lime leaf
  • 2 tbsp fish sauce
  • Bunch spring onions, chopped
  • Large bunch coriander, chopped
  • 2 limes, 1 cut into wedges to serve
  • Around 8oz rice – I used red Camargue rice
  • Greens to serve e.g. mange tout, pak choi etc.
  1. [This first step is optional and can be skipped. It will add a depth of flavour to the dish by using the shells and heads to enrich your fish stock. Peel the shells and heads from the prawns keeping the prawns for later. Heat a little oil in a saucepan on a medium high heat and add the shells and heads. Fry for about 5-8 minutes until they turn pink and begin to release their flavour and oily orangey juices. After this time, add the hot fish stock and simmer gently for about 4 minutes.
  2. Sieve through a fine sieve into a jug or another saucepan retaining all the liquid but then discard the shells. Keep the stock warm until needed.]
  3. Next, heat a tsp of coconut oil in a heavy based saucepan. Fry the ginger, tumeric, garlic and chilli for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to a simmer.
  4. Bash the lemongrass with the back of a knife a few times to open up the layers and add to the pan with the lime leaf and simmer gently for about 10 minutes to reduce the sauce and let the faours infuse.
  5. Add the fish sauce (I suggest adding it a tbsp at a time and tasting in between as once its in you can’t take it out again!).
  6. I made this a day ahead and I really think it benefitted from some time infusing in the pan while quietly chilling in the fridge (especially using the lime leave and lemongrass which will release thier flavours endlessly). I recommend at this stage to remove from the heat and leave to cool and infuse overnight. If not, continue as below.
  7. Simmer (or reheat, depending on your method) the sauce until you reach the desired creamy consistency you prefer then remove the lemongrass and lime leaf and discard. Stir in the chopped spring onions and coriander. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Keep warm while you prepare the rest.
  8. Cook your rice and add the juice of 1 lime to the drained hot grains and set aside to keep warm.
  9. Heat a frying pan over a medium high heat and add another tsp or so of coconut oil. Cut your seabass fillets in half if you wish, and score the skin to stop them curling up on frying. Fry, skin side down for 2-3 minutes, flipping only whe the skin is crisp and the flesh is almost done which you will see when the majority of it has turned white.
  10. While the seabass is cooking, add your prawns to the hot coconut sauce. Add them when the sauce is barely simmering to gently and lightly cook the prawns. Don’t overcook these or they will go all chewy. They need very little time and heat so a brief blast in the hot sauce until they just turn pink will do sufficiently.
  11. To serve, divide the lime rice among large warmed soup bowls.
  12. Top with the seabass fillets and divide the creamy sauce around the outside. Scatter with any reserved coriander and a juicy zesty wedge of lime!

To serve – I served mine with some briefly blanched sugar snap peas and mange tout. Drained and dressed quickly with a teaspoon of sesame oil while still hot and scattered with nigella seeds.

NOTE: This would also work very well with salmon. Feel free to gently poach the fillets in the coconut sauce for a different technique. Serve with any greens you like. Another addition would be to grate in some fresh coconut for added texture and taste.

WINE: Served with a lovely aromatic riesling to balance with the spice in this dish. Or a beer if you prefer! See here for some lovely suggestions.


To follow if you’re feeling like you need a Friday treat…………

  1. Mix 1 can caramel condensed milk, 300ml single cream, 1 ½ tsp flaky maldon salt, crumbled in a tupperware. Freeze until set and then devour! NO CHURNING INVOLVED! (Crumble in some roasted hazelnuts, walnuts peanuts or pecans if you like)

Celery Soup




I first saw this recipe on a recent cookery show. ‘Which show?’ you might be wondering in bemusement because to me it feels as if television has become hostage to culinary ‘entertainment’ over the past year or so. And as a foodie I’ve ironically become frustrated and uninterested in them. We’re getting mixed messages about how cooking can be express-train fast (Jamie ahem…) using (expensive) pre-bought and usually additive laden ingredients. In utter confliction we’re being patronisingly taught that we can all cook to a budget if we spend a little more time in the kitchen and buy sensibly. As if this wasn’t a mixed enough message chefs are instructing us to be eating healthily and avoiding manufactured pre bought goods! And finally at the end of all these mantras we’re smacked round the face with a diabetes inducing screenful of cake and butter and ‘comfort food’? Rant over, this is one of the reasons I’ve avoided foodie programmes. However, like I said, I recently caught an episode of Tom Kerridge trying his hand at TV chef (cringe….sorry Tom). I’ve always admired his honest hearty cooking but when I saw a soup made of celery and his trimmed down physic I did wonder if he’d fallen off the foodie wagon. But don’t panic! Tom doesn’t let you down on sustenance….trust his gusty recipe and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Light and delicate in flavour but a wonderfully filling and satisfying soup it makes a change from the usual suspects…

Serves 4

  • 1 sliced onion
  • 2 grated garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 small potato, diced
  • 1 litre hot chicken stock
  • 1kg celery, chopped (leaves reserved for garnish)
  • Bunch chives or flatleaf parsley
  • About 4 tbsp mascarpone cream
  1. Start by heating the rapeseed oil in a heavy based saucepan. When hot soften the onion for 5-10 minutes until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for a further few minutes.
  2. Add the diced potato and cool for 3-4 minutes to soften. Then add the hot stock and bring to the boil. Simmer gently for about 8 minutes or so until the potato is soft.
  3. Add the celery and continue to simmer for a further 5 minutes of so until soft.
  4. Using a hand blender, puree the soup until smooth and velvety. Add the mascarpone and the herbs and plenty of seasoning to taste.
  5. Blend again and serve, topped with a little rapeseed oil and a scattering of extra chives/parsley and some celery leaves.

Hoisin Chicken


Bill Granger has inspired yet another comfortingly Asian and finger licking dish for this weekends menu. Perhaps its the chilly and wintery weather that has blanketed London recently? The defeated gloom and pessimism only English winter can bring to the weather beaten faces of a us resentful Brits caused me to find myself reaching again for my colourful sunny copy of Bill Granger’s ‘Everyday Asian’. Cooked to inspire some colour and sunshine into the tail end of January. Today the weather was mediocre and after a day of chilly London adventure, I returned home to a warm tasty and sticky bowl of hoisin chicken and rice.

Serves 4

Hoisin Chicken

  • At least 8 piece of chicken (a mix between thighs and drumsticks)
  • 100ml hoisin sauce
  • 1 tbsp chilli sauce
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp five spice powder
  • Garnish – sesame seeds, sliced spring onions, lime wedges, chopped fresh coriander


  • 1 large broccoli
  • 2 tsp soy sauce
  • ½ tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp runny honey
  1. Start with the chicken. Mix the marinade ingredients in a large baking dish and add the chicken pieces. Coat well. Leave to marinade for at least 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Roast the chicken for 35 minutes until cooked and glazed.
  3. Meanwhile, cook your rice if you are having this as a side dish.
  4. Mix together the dressing ingredients and lightly boil the broccoli just before the chicken is ready. Drain and leave to dry out a little. While still warm, toss with the dressing.
  5. Serve the chicken with rice (if you wish) and the broccoli. Scatter over sesame seeds, sliced spring onions and chopped coriander and any extra sticky glaze if you like!