Date Archives November 2015

Creamy Lentils, Crunchy Salmon


t was a long weekend battling with gail strong winds and driving intermitant rain. Dinner certainly called for something creamy and comforting topped with something crunchy and buttery. That and a fridge of leftovers to use up….

Serves 2

  • 4 oz Puy lentils
  • 1 large bunch each flat leaf parsley and basil
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • Double cream
  • 2 salmon fillets
  • 2 handfuls brown breadcrumbs
  • Zest 1/2 lemon
  • 1 small knob butter, melted
  1. Set the lentils on a gentle simmer in boiling water for 18-20 minutes until just cooked but still with a crunch.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200°C..
  3. Mix the melted butter with the lemon zest and breadcrumbs and season. Lay the salmon fillets on a lined baking tray skin side down. Top the flesh side with the breadcrumbs mixture
  4. Bake for 7-10 minutes (depending on the thickness) until just cooked and the breadcrumbs are crispy.
  5. While cooking, drain the lentils. In the same pan, heat a tsp of olive oil and gently soften the garlic. Add the drained lentils and mix.
  6. Turn the heat down and add a splash of double cream and season. Finally add the finely chopped herbs and stir to combine.
  7. Serve the salmon on the creamy lentil and enjoy!

Jess - Salmon lentils#3


Beef Rendang


‘ve been looking for a cold carefree weekend to indulge in this slow cooked curry for ages but with long busy working days, midweek life hasn’t obliged. I love any form of slow cooking and coupled with my more recent love and commitment to the Asian flavours of the East they are combined lovingly here in a comforting wintery curry that while warming the heart will also transport you to the sunny climates of Malaysia….of Bruges!?

Bruges might not seem like the most logical inspiration but a quick hop skip and jump over to Belgium for the evening promoted this weeks blog post! The cold chilly weather, the (sadly) persistent rain and the festive Chrismassy lights was cue for something warming on return to the UK. But my main incentive starts with beer.

Histroical, medical and romantic, Bruges is a small and compact little city. But it has without a doubt the highest concentration of chocolate shops and beer merchants littered on every corner! Belfry view done and canals walked it was time for the brewery tour!

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ne of the oldest breweries left in Bruges, De Halve Maan promised history and charm and certainly delivered. We began in the brewing room before winding our way romantically around the high beams and rafters of the old listed building from cold cellar to the top of the roof before ending up in the restaurant bar, rewarding beer in hand, leather sofas and a warming fire to dry our wet feet. With Belgium beer on tap we drank away the rainy afternoon with a platter of meat and cheese and long outstayed our welcome.

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o on return home and that carefree Sunday afternoon to indulge, we drank our loot with this warming curry.

Serves 3

  • 500g braising steak, chopped
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 large red chilli, chopped (a hot as you dare!)
  • 2 inch large piece ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1 lemongrass, bashed roughly
  • 15 g tamarind paste (about 1 tbsp)
  • 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
  • Large pinch ground coriander and cumin
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves
  • 5 cardamon pods
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 5 tbsp desiccated coconut
  • 350ml coconut milk
  • Rice, lime and coriander to serve
  1. Preheat the oven to 160°C.
  2. Start by making the paste. Place the onion, garlic, chilli, ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, tamarind and sugar in the bowl of a food processor and process until you have a fine paste.
  3. Heat 1 tbsp of sunflower oil in a large ovenproof saucepan/casserole dish over a medium heat. Cook out the paste for about 5 minutes but don’t burn or let it catch. Next add the lime leaves, cardamon, star anise and cinnamon stick.
  4. Add the chopped beef and cook for 10 minutes on a medium high heat until starting to colour and brown.
  5. Meanwhile, dry toast the coconut in a hot frying pan until golden brown and toasted (careful not to burn). Set aside.
  6. Next add the ground spices and the coconut milk to the beef.
  7. Bring to the simmer and mix well. Add the coconut. Place in the oven with a lid for 1 1/2 hours .
  8. During this time, check and stir occasionally. After this time, check the thickness of the sauce. If it needs to be reduced, remove the lid and placed back in the oven for 5 minutes or so or reduce on the hob. Add a splash more coconut milk if it looks too dry.
  9. Serve on warm rice dressed in lime juice and scattered with coriander.

Swedish Cinnamon and Cardamon Buns


ovely Stockholm. Sweden must have been the longest standing contender on my ‘must-visit’ destinations list. Without even having stepped foot in this glorious country I had already fallen in love with the culture, people, lifestyle and not to mention the food. Ah the food. Rye bread, salmon, cray fish and beetroot. Dill and cardamon and cinnamon. Dreamy matcha and cardamon lattes and high champagnes kisses. And some of the most fantastic restaurants in Europe. Stockholm’s foodie scene was therefore a must see and it certainly lived up to expectations. With only a short whistle wind tour in two days this certainly warrants another visit not only as I am still to sample the hay smoked creations of Ekstedt….thats for next time.

The beautiful water-hugged city cleared our lungs and wooed us with its romance. Exploring the old town of Gamla Stan was by far the most enjoyable delight. Lunching like kings at ‘Kryp In’ (which I highly recommend) tucked secretly down a cobbled side street in the old town before fast forwarding to the future to the Gondelen in Sodermalm which in summer has the best sun kissed terrace and high city views in town. However, with a crisp chill in the air, we enjoyed our sparkling champagne in the warmer, gorgeous and hipster-filled bar overlooking the city before gliding through the restaurant to the ‘Kitchen’ area, an informal and casual bistro like setting, where we were immersed in the action. The food was perfect and the wine….strong.

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fter the effects of the ‘strong’ wine, after a slow morning we had a day of touring the city, sadly in the persistent rain. However, warming cardamon lattes and cinnamon buns soon warmed our souls at the quaint and authentic Vetekatten in Kungsgatan. But dinner was by far the highlight of the day. New modern Nordic cuisine with excitement, imagination and most importantly, flavour. ‘The Flying Elk‘ was the perfect gastropub to warm our bodies and dry our sodden feet. An amazing menu starting with a delicate and ‘jump-up-and-down-on-your-seat’ tasty carrot and foie gras macaroon with creamed corn and cress. This I did not share. You would not have either. This was followed welcomingly with an aurora salmon salad with vanilla marinated crayfish meddled with sweet yellow carrots among a bowl of fennel, lemon verbena salad, orange and almonds. This menu was an absolute highlight. And with the Flying Elk book perched on the neighbouring window sill the entire evening, it isn’t a surprise I left with one in hand. Slight technical hurdle is the Swedish dialogue and no copy yet in English translation….but we’ll get over that.

With the sun in full power on our final day, we ventured to the island of Djurgarden, a stone throw and hop over the bridge from the old town. A beautiful island. Tree lined cycle paths hugged the river but we chose to amble in the crisp sun on foot, past the joggers, boating site-seers and keen cyclists. We rested our weary feet and an true Swedish hidden gem. Rosengard Tradgard, and organic cafe and garden centre set in following fields and orchards. We quenched our thirst with homemade teas, juices and lemonade. Organic produce and home baked spiced breads littered the shops and entertained our senses. A true delight which I can only compare to the delights of the infamous ‘Petersham Nurseries‘ in Richmond for ambiance, intention and style. Being on the island was 10 minutes escape from the city into peace. Even if it meant being dragged there on foot….


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But one of the highlights in Sweden. Cinnamon. Finally a country that appreciates this festive spice just as much as me. With cinnamon buns and fresh OJ for breakfast it was time to recreate the scene at home once back on UK soil to sooth the post holiday blues.

Makes about 15 (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 7g dried yeast
  • 250ml almond milk/whole milk
  • 60ml boiling water
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 400g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamon
  • 4 tbsp oil
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pearl sugar (optional)


  • 75g softened butter
  • 25g dark brown soft sugar
  • 50g demerara sugar
  • 1 tbsp ground cinnamon
  • Pinch salt
  1. Combine the water and milk and stir in the yeast. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, mix the sugar, salt, flour and ground cardamon.
  3. Make a well in the centre and stir in the warmed yeast mixture and the oil. Mix until combined before getting your hands in and bringing together into a dough.
  4. Tip onto a floured surface and knead the dough together until you have a smooth springy dough. This should take about 10 minutes. Oil the bowl and place the dough inside. Cover with a tea towel or cling film and leave to rest and prove in a warmish place for about an hour until doubled in size.
  5. Meanwhile make the filling. combine the ingredients until you have a really soft spreadable paste.
  6. Once the dough is risen, roll it out on a floured surface to a 35cm x 35cm square. Spread over the cinnamon butter filling evenly.
  7. Fold the dough into thirds like a business letter and roll into a rough rectangle (20cm x 35cm)
  8. Cut the dough into 20cm long strips about 2-3cm wide. Take strip and twist it as seen below.
  9. Now for the tricky bit – the knot! I found this link very useful as it contains a video and is where I have based my recipe on with a few adaptations. (Basically, grab one end and coil around your hand twice. Then over the top and coil and tuck the loose end at the bottom. As I said, the video helps!)
  10. Place the shaped buns onto a lined baking tray and preheat the oven to 180°C.
  11. Leave the buns to rise again until doubled in size for about 30-40 minutes.
  12. Brush with a little beaten egg if you like and to be really authentic, sprinkle with pearl sugar or almonds.
  13. Bake for about 15-18 minutes until golden.

Jess - Cinnamon

Jess - Cinnamon3Jess - Cinnamon2