Date Archives April 2015

Asian Crab Bon Bons with Miso Sweetcorn Puree


Finally an evening to experiment in the kitchen! As much as I adore feeding dinner party guests, I am always far to scared to experiment on their adoring high expecting tastebuds. With the need to please and deliver some delicious food, I always default to my staple flavours and ingredients. But tonight…with only myself to potentially disappoint I tried out a new dish. After a long week, some downtime in the kitchen was hugely appreciated. And the good news is it did not disappoint! When I create new recipes in my head they morph and change throughout the day as I change my mind or get inspired by the those Portobello market stalls. So what started out on my morning commute as a typical French styled and flavoured fish and crab dish was quickly violated by those tempting devious Thai and Asian flavours I adore. Earthy miso spiked sweet corn puree, savoury soy glazed warm kale, dangerously crispy chilli crab bon bons a perfect accompaniment for some plump sea bass.

Serves 2

Miso Sweetcorn Puree

  • 1 can sweetcorn drained (about 250g)
  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 lime
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  1. Heat the sweetcorn in a saucepan just to warm through.
  2. Place in the bowl of a food processor with the miso, ½ the lime juice and the sesame oil
  3. Blitz to a very fine paste for 2-3 minutes. Taste and add more lime juice if needed
  4. Keep warm while you make the rest of the meal.

Crab Bon Bons (makes 4 golf ball sized)

  • 100g crab meat, mixed white and brown
  • ½ small red chilli (heat strength dependent on taste), chopped finely
  • Small bunch coriander, chopped finely
  • Zest ½ lime
  • Small bowl of fine brown breadcrumbs/panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Around 50g plain flour
  • Sunflower oil for frying
  1. In a large bowl, mix the crab together with the chilli, coriander, lime zest and a small handful of the breadcrumbs and season.
  2. Shape together with your hands to form into 4 tight balls. They mixture might be quite wet and delicate so be careful. You can add more breadcrumbs here to help.
  3. Combine the coconut and the breadcrumbs in a bowl.
  4. Place the flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs in 3 separate bowls.
  5. Now roll the crab balls first in the flour then delicately coat in the egg. Finally roll in the breadcrumbs. Repeat with the rest and place them on a plate. Cover and chill in the fridge for at least 20 minutes to firm up.
  6. When ready to cook, heat a pan of oil to about 4cm high or enough to just cover the bon bons. Heat the oil and test the temperature by dropping a small piece of bread into the oil. If it sizzles and begins to turn golden brown – its ready! Make sure it isn’t too hot though or the outside will brown and burn before the middle is hot.
  7. Fry the bon bons in the hot oil until golden all over. Once ready, drain on kitchen towel and keep warm until needed.

To serve

  • 2 sea bass fillets
  • Kale
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Coriander for garnish
  1. When ready to cook, boil a large pan of water. When boiling remove from the heat and add the kale. Let it cook for a minute sitting in the hot water before draining. Let it drain well. Season and then coat in the soy sauce. If there is too much water retained in the kale, pop back on the heat and glaze the soy over the kale.
  2. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat. When hot, add 1 tbsp of oil. Season the fish and fry for about 3 minutes skin side down, turning for the last 30 seconds or so until cooked.
  3. To serve, spoon a generous spoonful of the sweetcorn puree onto a warm serving plate. Top with some soy glazed kale and the fish. Add your warm crispy bon bons and scatter with coriander. Drizzle with a little soy if you like!

WINE: Asian food is thought to be hard to match with food and is not the natural go to for some – beer you shout. With the food being a mix of savoury, sweet or spicy elements, Asian flavours benefit from a lower alcohol wine and often one with a little residual sugar. The fried and powerful Asian Crab bon bons here need a rounder wine with a bit of weight. A perfect match here or for other hearty Asian dishes would be a Demi-sec Vouray. Try the Domaine Huet, 2009 Vouvray Demi Sec, Le Haut-Lieu available proudly from Armit Wines.

Jess - The Haut-Lieu Demi Sec

Saganaki Kefalotyri

This evening I tried Saganaki. No its not a new yoga pose or a miso based cocktail but a Greek cheese. As a halloumi addict I felt a nagging pinch of betrayal to the Cypriots as I experimented with this new ingredient that has recently landed on our English shelves. Yet another speciality that we have been spoilt with access to!

I can only describe the taste as that which you get from the fried, crunchy, cheeky and gooey cheesy bits you get from the side of a cheese toasty which has managed to leak provocatively from the inside and burn and fry on the hot metal of the toasty machine. Saganaki in Greek is said to mean ‘frying pan’ so this was exactly how I cooked it. And this cheese pan fries amazingly, crispy on the outside but gooey in the centre. Fried with a little oil, floured first if you like, and some toasted sesame seeds. The only thing that would have made it better is a drizzle of runny sweet honey. This is often served as a dessert in this way too. However I served mine here with a simple fresh salad to counteract the fried cheese.

Serves 2

  • 1 x packet of Saganaki (see here for where to buy)
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp runny honey (optional)
  • 2 avocados
  • ½ red chilli, chopped finely
  • ½ small red onion, sliced finely in pinwheels
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • Handful rocket leaves
  • 2 gem lettuces
  • 1 large lemon
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into wedges
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C. Drizzle the sweet potatoes wedges with a little oil and season. Add the cumin seeds and toss to coat. Roast for about 35 minutes until crisp and tender.
  2. Meanwhile assemble the salad. Chop the avocado into slices and place in a large serving bowl. Add the chopped chilli, red onion slices, spring onions and season well. Squeeze over a good amount of lemon juice, about ½ the lemon, and set aside.
  3. Heat a frying pan to medium high heat and add 1 tbsp of a light oil. Cut the slices of cheese in half on the diagonal. When the oil if hot, fry the cheese for about 1 minute on each side until a golden crust forms. Just before removing from the pan, drizzle over the honey and sesame seeds and heat for a few more seconds before taking off the heat.
  4. Use a spatula to remove the cheese to a paper towel to drain some of the excess oil.
  5. When ready to serve add the salad leaves to the avocado mix and add a touch more lemon juice. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil and toss the salad to combine. Check the seasoning,
  6. Place a heaped pile of salad in a serving bowl. Add a few potato wedges and top with the cheese, sliced again if you like.

Spiced Spatchcocked Quail and Beetroot Barely Risotto

Pearl barely has become my new favourite alternative to Aborio rice for use in a risotto. Ok its not ‘authentic’ Italian but it has a delicious nutty taste, a beautiful texture that goes deliciously with earthy beetroot and is packed full or nutrients. This dish is delicious served with lemony dressed rocket, some tender spice roasted poussin and a gooey quail egg. But remove the meat and its a vegetarians dream. Serve this to your meat hating buddies in place of the stereotyped mushroom risotto or quiche and you’ll be in their good books.

Serves 2

  • 1 x spatchcocked poussin or 2 small quail. Alternatively use chicken legs or breast
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp spice mix (see here)
  • 120g pearl barely
  • 1 pint hot chicken stock
  • 125ml red wine
  • 1 small red onion, chopped finely
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped finely
  • 1 sprig thyme, leaves picked
  • 200g cooked beetroot, pureed in a food processor (save a piece and cut into cubes for texture if you like)
  • Handful finely grated parmesan
  • 1 knob butter
  • ½ lemon
  • Rocket leaves to serve
  • 2-4 quail eggs
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C. Season the bird. Coat in the dry spices and 1 tbsp olive oil and use your hands to rub the mixture into the meat.
  2. Place on a lined baking tray and roast at a high heat for about 40 minutes for a spatchcocked poussin/quail. Baste with the juice twice during cooking. Once ready, remove from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes before carving to serve.
  3. Meanwhile while the meat is cooking, make the risotto. Heat half a knob of butter with a small splash of oil in a saucepan. Very gently sweat the red onion in the butter for about 10 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic and thyme and cook for a few more minutes. Season
  4. Turn the heat up to medium high and add the pearl barely. Toast in the pan with the onion stirring all the time. Next add the wine and simmer off until reduced.
  5. Turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and add the hot stock, ladle by ladle, adding more only after each addition has been absorbed. Continue for about 25minutes or so until the pearl barley is tender. Keep adding stock until the barley is cooked but don’t drown the mixture especially towards the end of the cooking time or it will be too runny.
  6. When the barley is cooked, stir through the beetroot puree and cubed beetroot and taste and season again. Bring back up to the heat to warm through.
  7. Add the grated cheese, another knob of butter and a generous squeeze of lemon juice and remove form the heat. Place the lid on top and leave it sit and rest while you see to the quail eggs.
  8. To cook the quails eggs to a soft boil, simmer them in a briskly boiling pan of water for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and then plunge into cold water. When cool enough to handle, remove the shells.
  9. To serve, spoon a generous spoonful of risotto into a warmed bowl. Top with a handful of rocket dressed with plenty of lemon juice and seasoning.
  10. Carve the bird as required removing the legs and the breast meat. Place on top of the rocket. Slice your eggs in half at the last moment and finish the dish with their runny yolk centres and a good grinding of fresh black pepper.

Gingerbread Latte Ice Cream, Salted Pistachio Brittle


Its Easter, a foodie occasion so I cannot forgo a dessert menu without this icey sweet delight. Coffee is such a crowd pleasing and moresih dessert flavour (if you’re a caffeine lover) as it naturally tops off a dinner and satisfies those bitter fans and the sweet toothed. From tiramisu to coffee cake I love it. But in ice cream….well need I say more. With the subtleyly of the ginger and cinnamon it makes for a ironically warming flavour in this cooling ice cream. Acoompanied with a warm lava centred chocolate fondant it was the perfect finale to Easter lunch.

Ice Cream (Serves 6 modestly)

  • 300ml single cream
  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 2 tbsp coffee granules
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 heaped tsp ground cinnamon
  1. Heat the cream until just coming up to the boil. Add the coffee and spices and whisk until all combined off the heat.
  2. Leave to cool.
  3. Whisk in the condensed milk until thoroughly combined and transfer to a container or tupperware to store int he freezer.
  4. Freeze until set! You can remove it from the freezer about 5 minutes before serving to make it easier to serve.

Salted Pistachio Brittle

Very general measurements and method here! If in doubt use a sugar thermometer.

  • 200g caster sugar
  • 160g roughly of golden syrup
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 60g pisatchios, crushed
  • 1 tsp malden salt
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter
  1. Line a baking tray with non stick parchment (grease with oil if you want)
  2. Crush the nuts and mix with the salt and set aside.
  3. Mix the sugar, syrup and water in a pan. Heat on a medium high heat but do not be tempted to stir. Allow it to melt and begin to caramelise and bubble. Leave for 5-10 minutes or so bubbling away until the syrup beings to turn golden. Watch very closely here as you don’t want it to catch and burn or turn too dark. When a golden brown colour add the butter and remove from the heat and quickly pour onto the baking tray.
  4. Immediately scatter over the salty nuts evenly and leave to set. It will harden quickly, within 10 minutes! Once poured out and still soft though you can move the tray around to make it thinner if required by tilting.
  5. Once set, peel from the parchment and break carefully into shards for each guest