Date Archives May 2020

Date Night Tasting Menu


‘m really missing hosting dinner parties and generally feeding people! We’re also missing those rare but spontaneous dinners out when we feel like we’re on a real date night. One of our favourite places to frequent is (well now was) in Pop Brixton (about 100m away from our flat!) Smoke & Salt. Excitingly they are relocating to a permeant hide out in Tooting! Its a real gem and a place saved for special occasions. They have a sharing menu concept that changes frequently so it inspired me this evening for our weekly date night.

The first time we went to Smoke & Salt we had this potato and beef dish which was just amazing. We never got the chance to sample it again so I’ve had to create my own version! A creamy, garlic, mustard, cheesy sauce for some salty cooked potatoes and rare beef. 

The salad adds a nice fresh clean contrast to the beef and potatoes on the side. We enjoyed some of the focaccia chopped and dipped into some rosemary flavoured extra virgin oil with G&Ts before the feast.

Dessert ice cream can be found here. Simply add a shot of Amaretto and one of hot coffee and serve !

Serves 2 (…hungry people as a sharing meal)

Seabass & Roasted Red Pepper sauce

  • 2 seabass fillets
  • 2 garlic gloves, finely chopped
  • 2 shallots (or 1 small onion), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin, coriander, chilli flakes
  • 350g flame roasted peppers – I actually used this jar from Odysea. You can make your own but I had these to hand in the pantry.
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • Handful basil
  1. Heat a tbsp of sunflower oil in a saucepan on a medium-low heat. Add the shallots and gently cook for about 10 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for a 2 minutes.
  3. Add the spices and some generous seasoning and cook out for 1 minute, stirring well.
  4. Drain the peppers from the jar, chop roughly and add to the saucepan. 
  5. Add about 100ml of stock and bring to a simmer for about 5 minutes before stirring in the basil.
  6. Using a food processor (or hand blender) pulse the sauce until smooth – add more stock as needed. I did this by eye. It needs to be like a thick soup. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Keep warm while you make the fish.
  7. Season the seabass fillets and score the skin side a few times to stop it curling up in cooking. Heat a tsp of sunflower oil in a hot frying pan over a high heat. Add the seabass, skin side down and press into the pan with a spatula quickly to avoid it curling. Cook skin side down for about 3 minutes. Turn onto the flesh side for 30 seconds and then remove from the heat.
  8. Spoon some sauce onto a plate and gently lay the fish onto. Squeeze over some lemon juice and enjoy!

Crispy roast new potatoes, mustard garlic cream sauce, rare beef rump

  • 1 rump steak (or whatever cut you prefer)
  • 1 tbsp whole black peppercorns
  • New potatoes – about 300g but enough for two depending on hunger.
  • 100ml creme fraiche
  • 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
  • 50g roule cheese
  • 1 small handful fresh chives
  • Splash milk
  1. Half the new potatoes and boil for about 5-8 minutes and then drain. Return to their saucepan and put the lid on. Shake the pot to bash the potatoes up a little and get the edges fluffy.
  2. Tip onto a baking tray, season and drizzle with sunflower oil. Toss so they are all coated in oil. Roast in a 220 over for about 20 minutes until golden and crispy. 
  3. Using a pestle and mortar, crush the peppercorns really finely. Season the steak generouslly on both sides with as much pepper as you like – I like a nice crust! Add salt.
  4. BBQ or grill the steak for as long as you like. Let rest for 5 minutes minimum.
  5. Combine the creme fraiche, roule and wholegrain mustard in a saucepan. Gently heat stirring well to combine (Add splash of milk to thin the sauce when needed). Add half the chopped chives. Taste and season.
  6. To serve, put the potatoes in a serving dish and season. Carve the steak really thinly and lay over the potatoes. Drizzle / dollop the sauce over the top and garnish with the remaining chopped chives. Serve extra sauce on the side.

Asparagus, broad bean, pea, lemon & parmesan salad

  • 1 bunch asparagus
  • Large handful broad beans (I used frozen)
  • Large handful garden peas (I used frozen)
  • 1 lemon, zest only
  • 1 small bunch mint
  • Parmesan cheese for serving
  1. Boil the broad beans for about 1 minutes and drain. You will need to tediously pick the beans from their pods into a serving dish. Use your nail to piece the skin and then just pop the bean out.
  2. Boil the peas for 1 minutes, drain and add to the broad beans.
  3. Drizzle the asparagus in a little oil and griddle on the BBQ or in a pan for just a few minutes making sure they are still al dente! Add to the bean/pea bowl.
  4. Chop the mint finely and add to the bowl. Grate the zest of 1/2 the lemon into the bowl and season all well. Toss to combine. 
  5. Finally, using a peeler, peel some thin strips of parmesan cheese over the salad.

Chocolate Orange Ice Cream


ank holiday weekend is upon us again and the sun is taking part! Another slap in the face bank holiday given we’re still sitting solo in lockdown. Had this been the weekend I’d originally planned, I’d be celebrating the return home of my sister from her escapades in Australia and devouring the beauty that is my family home and garden in Wiltshire with a giant G&T courtesy of Mrs Wardlaw.

Alas! Ice cream was required. It seemed like the only fix here. A sweet, chocolatey refreshing plaster on my painful cancelled plans and the perfect antidote for the weekend.


usually always make a crazy or adventurous ice cream (see my current repertoire) but a few years ago (sadly its taken me years!) my fiancee asked if we could just have plain chocolate? Plain chocolate? Was he turning in my Dad! Like my Dad, he is a simple man with his ice cream flavours. Unlike my sister and I however who would opt for walnut, pistachio, toasted coconut or anything other.

That said, as you can see, I have attempted this request. Albeit, I couldn’t keep on the straight and narrow and ‘accidentally’ added some orange zest. Truth be told, chocolate orange holds a very nostalgic place in my childhood heart having eaten chocolate orange angel delight for weekly desserts as a child with my best friend topped with cornflakes and 100s & 1000s. I’m not even sure you can buy that flavour anymore which makes me sad…however, this beats it hands down!

NOTE: If you don’t have an ice cream maker, freeze it in a tupper ware and try to whisk the ice cream every hour or so if you can. Its not the end of the world it just won’t be as smooth and may have some crystals of ice in.

Recipe (adapted from Jamie Oliver)

  • 300ml whole milk
  • 300ml single cream
  • 100g dark chocolate (at least 70%)
  • 85g caster sugar
  • 1 orange
  • 3 egg yolks
  1. Pour the milk into a saucepan. Break the chocolate into pieces and add to the milk. Place over a medium-low heat and gently warm through until the chocolate has melted well, stirring often. Do not let it boil. Once melted, remove the chocolate milk from the hob and leave to cool slightly. Taste for fun.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks and the sugar in a large bowl until creamy. Add the zest of the whole orange.
  3. Place to bowl on a tea towel to keep it from moving as you add the warm milk. Stirring continuously with a whisk in one hand, stir the eggs whilst slowly pouring in the warm chocolate milk with the other hand. Stir well, whisking quickly until well combined. Return the whole mixture to the saucepan.
  4. Place over a low heat (do NOT let it simmer or boil) and stir with a wooden spoon consistently until it begins to thicken a bit and coats the back of the spoon.
  5. Remove from the heat and leave to cool until cold. (You should really sieve the custard here to remove any lumps but then you miss out on the orange pith. I was conscious of this so made sure I whisked really well but if you fear any lumps, sieve your custard and add some more orange zest afterwards).
  6. Once cold, stir in the cream.
  7. Churn in an ice cream machine according to your manual instructions. Failing that, put the mixture in a low tupper ware and freeze. Whisk to break up the ice crystals every hour or so. It will freeze eventually but may not be as smooth as with an ice cream maker.
  8. Serve however you please….spoon and bowl in our house as we didn’t have cones.

Katsu Chicken Curry


hat is it with boys and Katsu curry? I’ve only eaten this dish twice. I’ll admit that and both of these have been my own recipes and at the request of a man! Forgive me for never trying the real deal in Wagamama but I’ve never seen the hype. That said, this went down a treat! After an early morning work out, busy day at the desk and gorgeous cycle round London to end the evening, I greedily settled into the kitchen with a beer and some curry powder. This for me is like a spiced roast dinner comfort. A hug in a bowl. The sauce was easier than I ever imagined and probably a reason why I never will try that famous takeaway version.

Ladies…if your other half is a fan, this will make the perfect date night treat.

Serves 2

  • 2 free range chicken breasts
  • Breadcrumbs (3-4 slices, blitzed to breadcrumbs)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Plain flour
  • Sunflower oil

Curry Sauce

  • 1 white onion, chopped finely
  • 2 garlic gloves, grated
  • 1 knob ginger, grated
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 500ml chicken stock
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp runny honey

Serving – I served mine with some boiled rice mixed with lime juice and freely chopped coriander at the end and some steamed veggies!

  1. Start by prepping the chicken. Put the chicken breasts between two sheets of cling film and bash with a rolling pin until flattened slightly or at least so they are a similar thickness all over – a bit like a schnitzel but don’t go as flat!
  2. Prepare 3 bowls, one with some flour, one with the egg, and the other with the breadcrumbs. Dip each chicken breast, one at a time, first into the flour (shaking off any excess) and then the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Press the breadcrumbs lightly onto the eggy chicken until covered well! Place both chicken breasts once done on a plate and refrigerate.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 while you make the sauce.
  4. Gently heat some sunflower oil in a pan and add the onion. Gently sweat and soften the onion for about 15 minutes – keep the heat low or it’ll burn. After this, using a fine grater, grate in the garlic and ginger and fry for a few more minutes.
  5. After this time, add the curry power, flour and the turmeric and stir well for 1 minute. Add the chicken stock a bit at a time, stirring well to avoid clumps! Once all added and smooth stir in the soy and honey.
  6. Bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes then blend with a hand blender. Keep on a low heat while you cook the chicken. Taste and adjust with seasoning if needed.
  7. At this stage, cook the rice while you prepare the chicken.
  8. Heat a frying pan on a medium high heat and add a generous few tbsp’s of sunflower oil and a knob of butter. Once hot, add the chicken and fry until golden for a few minutes. Turn onto the other side and cook until golden again. Remove from the pan, add to a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  9. When ready to serve, slice the chicken into thick but manageable slices. Serve on top of the rice and spoon over as much ‘curry gravy’ as you like.

Homemade Pizza & Aperol Spritz


ow could we go through lockdown without making our own pizzas? With banana bread ticked off the list and endless quiz nights over Zoom completed, pizza making was next and by far the most satisfying! This weekend, when date night rolled around again, we raided our local supermarket for Aperol, oranges and tinned pineapple and made use of that coveted yeast that my mum sent us in the post…turns out you can’t buy yeast easily at the moment unless you live somewhere very middle class like Wiltshire. Ironically we have the enviable flour so I’ll keep an eye out for a grey market for bakers in the local area.

Obviously feel free to top your pizzas with whatever you like! I am unashamedly proud that one of my favourite pizzas is a Hawaiian, followed closely by a Siciliana. This dough makes great thin crust which allows more stomach space for toppings.

Makes 2 large pizzas


  • 300g strong bread flour
  • 1 tsp instant yeast
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Tomato Sauce 

  • 1 can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • Handful fresh basil
  • 1 large tsp chilli flakes

Toppings – choose your favourite! We made 2 pizzas as follows:

  • Pineapple pieces, parma ham, grated cheddar, parmesan and mozzarella
  • 1 tbsp capers, 1 can anchovies, 1 handful olives, 1 tbsp dried oregano, 1 garlic glove (grated), grated parmesan and mozzarella

  1. To make the dough, combine the flour, yeast and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the oil and 200ml of tepid water. Using a fork mix well until combined.
  2. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured worktop and knead together until you form a smooth elastic dough. Continue kneading for about 5 minutes.
  3. Return the dough to the bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave in a warm place/worktop for 1 hour. (you can actually skip this step if you want and go straight to the pizza making esp if you’re after thin crust).
  4. Make the sauce by putting the tinned tomatoes in a saucepan and add the crushed garlic, chopped basil and chilli. Mix the tomato puree with about 150ml of warm water in a jug then add this too. Simmer gently for about 5 minutes. Taste and season and then blend with a hand blended. Set aside.
  5. When ready to make the pizza, heat the oven to 220 and put your baking trays in there to heat up – or your pizza stones if you’re fancy.
  6. Knock the air out of the dough and knead gently for a few minutes to form a smooth dough again before dividing into two balls. On a floured surface, roll one ball of dough as thinly as possible (about 25cm across) but the thinner the better for a nice crispy crust.
  7. Place the rolled dough onto a large piece of baking parchment before putting on your toppings.
  8. Top you pizza first with the tomato sauce and then with any toppings you wish.
  9. Remove the hot trays from the oven and carefully lift the pizza on the parchment onto the hot tray. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until crispy and starting to turn golden.
  10. Serve chopped with a jug of Aperol Spirtz!