Date Archives June 2020

Sticky Hoisin Potatoes


use many sources of inspiration for my cooking, one of them being instagram. The visuals instantly trigger a cascade of ideas for recipes, menus, themes or dinner ideas. I saved this recipe about a year ago and have meaning to make it ever since. The tempting sticky glaze of the roasted potatoes and the sharp green from the green onion won my eyes over.

This is an easy side dish with a punch. It can be easily scaled up for guests and adds a bit of a twist from your usual roast potatoes or rice. I served mine with some simple seabass but it would make an excellent side to so much more – duck breast, roast chicken, pork loin.

Serves 2 (Adapted from the_clumsy_vegan)

  • About 250g new potatoes (or enough for you appetite) cut in half
  • 2 small red peppers, cubed
  • 5 spring onions, roughly chopped
  • 1 knob ginger, sliced finely
  • 1 chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • Tabasco
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • Basil for serving
  1. Preheat the oven to 200.
  2. Boil the potatoes for about 10 minutes so they are soft but do not over boil or they will be waterlogged.
  3. Drain and let dry and cool for a few minutes.
  4. Tip your potatoes onto a non stick baking tray (or line with parchment) and gently crush them using a fork or masher. Drizzle with some olive oil and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes or until crispy and golden.
  5. Heat a tsp of olive oil and the sesame oil in a frying pan. Add the pepper and spring onions and gently fry for about 5 minutes until starting to soften. Add the ginger and chilli and cook for a further few minutes.
  6. When you’re ready, add the soy and a generous splash of tabasco and gently simmer.
  7. Add the potatoes once they are golden and crisp and stir to combine.
  8. Finely add the hoisin and mix everything gently to combine.
  9. Scatter with basil and serve!

Mango & Chilli Noodles with Prawns


eat wave London! We love and hate you. Love for the warmth, pleasure and vitamin D; hate for the fact that it reminds me so painfully that I don’t have a garden, a field surrounded house or a paddling pool. Alas, I treated us to a prawn dinner on a Tuesday night to kick start the week. We geared up the braai and threw half a kilo of juicy prawns onto the griddle. I simply marinated the prawns in some lemon zest, garlic and olive oil before cooking for about 5 minutes until vibrant orange but feel free to cook without a marinade.

I also had a deliciously big skate wing waiting patiently in the freezer. It was my first attempt at cooking skate so I decided to keep it simple to accompany our feast! Roasted at 180 for 15 minutes with some S&P and lemon slices.

Noodle Salad

Serves 2-4

  • 100g vermicelli noodles
  • 3 spring onions, sliced finely
  • 1 carrot, sliced into julienne (I’ve linked this before, but this is what you need OR just slice thinly)
  • 1 mango, chopped thinly
  • 1 handful salted peanuts
  • 1 handful coriander, chopped
  • 1 handful mint leaves, chopped
  • 4 tbsp desiccated coconut (toasted lightly in a pan)
  • 2 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 3-4 tbsp lime juice (1-2 limes)
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp fish sauce
  • 2 birds eye chillis – chopped
  1. To make the salad, get yourself a big serving dish and add the chopped spring onions, carrot, mango, mint, coriander and toss to combine.
  2. Pour boiling water over the noodles and leave to soak for 5-10 minutes. Drain and refresh under some cool water. Drain well and add 1 tsp of sesame oil to prevent them sticking.
  3. Toss the noodles and salad ingredients well – the noodles won’t mix well with the veggies so do your best. Equally, you can cut the noodles in half with some scissors to make them easier to toss/eat.
  4. In an old jam jar, combine the soy, honey, lime, sesame oil, fish sauce and chilli and shake well (lid on obviously!). Taste and add more of what you feel it needs. I totally made this up but it tasted good!
  5. Pour about 3/4 of the dressing over the noodles and toss well. Add the rest if you feel it needs it. Don’t drown your noodles! Scatter over the peanuts and sesame seeds and serve! with your BBQ prawns or some nicely grilled salmon or sea bass!

Skate wing is a delicious meaty white fish! It doesn’t have any bones but instead cartilage that lines the wing. The meat flakes away from the cartilage so nicely you won’t fear getting a stray bone! One of the nicest fish cuts I’ve had in a long time and a dream to serve.

Home-made Burgers


ate night burgers on a Friday after what has been the busiest work week since lockdown! Its a blessing not to have to waste time commuting home after a busy day so I could move from desk to kitchen to beer in hand within minutes of shutting down the emails! I’m not your classic burger fan but I’m not sure why. I like to eat slowly and find that burgers are often a food that you inhale?! I’ve always preferred to eat mine without the top bun like an open sandwich with a knife and fork!

You can pimp your burger fillings as you like, I’ve listed a few suggestions below. I always try to add a gherkin for the flavour, some lettuce for crunch and some avocado for indulgence and extra healthy fats! Add cheese if you like. When it comes to sauces I’m usually a faithful T sauce user but I recently discovered an amazing burger sauce from M&S (below) that ticked off my craving for both sauce and gherkin!

A few burger tips – don’t go low on the mince fat content. Use minimum 12% which I did here but 20% works well. If you can, get your mince from the butcher where you can be a bit picker on the fat choice. Don’t season the burgers mix too much, rather season the outside well before cooking. Don’t be tempted to overcook, keep checking as you go. Also don’t undercook – call me boring but ideally you should be fully cooking any mince for safety but you also won’t get the same benefit from a ‘pink centre’ as you will a steak so its pointless in my eyes..

Serves 2-4 (makes 2 large, and 2 small burgers)

  • 500g good quality beef mince (minimum 12% fat)
  • Bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped finely
  • 1 shallot, chopped finely
  • 1 heaped tsp smoked paprika
  • Burger buns – whatever your preference.
  1. Combine the ingredients in a large bowl with some pepper and only a little pinch salt.
  2. Do not pound the meat together just gently mix handling lightly or you’ll have dry solid burgers!
  3. Gently bring the meat together into 4 burgers – I make 2 larger ones (2.5cm high) and 2 x smaller ones. Place on a plate and chill for about 20 minutes.
  4. Before cooking (on the grill/BBQ) season the burgers well on the outside with salt. Cook, ensuring a good amount of colouring on the outside as this is where the flavour is. (About 4 minutes each side depending on the size but keep an eye on them.)
  5. I like to lightly grill the burger bun and then dip (inside surface down) in the cooking juices of the burgers before serving.

Side suggestions

  • Sliced avocado
  • Litte gem lettuce
  • Grated mature cheddar cheese
  • Pickled red onion – chop 1 x red onion thinly. Put in a shallow bowl and spoon over 4 tbsp white white vinegar and 1 tsp sugar. Let sit for 30 minutes.
  • Homemade chips – chop 2 large potatoes into chips. Season, scatter over 1 tsp of dried rosemary and drizzle with a little oil. Roast at 190 for about 30 minutes until golden and crunchy.
  • Chopped gherkins. I actually bought the below sauce from M&S which was incredible. I think it made the burgers!

Bean Chilli


ometimes you just need chilli and cornbread in your day. I love a comforting chilli, slow cooked and more often than not these days, made with chunks of braising beef that can be shredded rather than the traditional mince. However, sometimes time isn’t always in the equation for the privileges of slow cooking! On my meat free days or for vegetarian (or vegan) guests, I often make this version and its the smoked paprika that is the winner here for that ‘meaty’ replacement. That said, don’t you dare think about skimping on that. If you don’t have paprika, sorry you’ll need another trip to the shops!

It offers the same comfort and depth of flavour. I know I sound like a broken record but this really can be knocked up in 20-30 minutes max. It really is just a task of opening a lot of cans and stirring. But the take home is that it is wholesome. Its leans away from processed foods and its really cheap. 

9 times out of 10 I will make a cornbread loaf to accompany this (recipe here) but if time does not permit you can enjoy this in SO many ways. Serve on rice for the extra grains or just devour in a bowl like soup. I like to pimp the toppings here with guacamole, soured cream, grated cheddar and coriander. Dip crunchy tortilla chips into it or heck…make a nachos and get that grill on! It also makes an excellent vegetarian burrito filling with eggs and rice. Ok…stop it now I’ve given you quick, cheap and versatile.

Serves 4 (I have never made less than this and would advise you make a batch. It serves 2 with extra and is great reheated/frozen for an even quicker ready meal!)

  • 1 x can mixed beans (I always use Napolina for the quality but any mixed beans will do. Avoid anything in a sauce already)
  • 1 x can black beans
  • 2 x cans chopped tomatoes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 tsp each ground cumin, coriander, smoked paprika,
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes (use as much as you like. I like to use chilli flakes rather than fresh to control the spice here)
  • 1 lime

Toppings & Sides

  • Soured cream OR plain yoghurt with a squeeze of lime
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Chopped fresh coriander
  • Guacamole (Or mash 1 avocado with juice from 1/2 a lime and some salt and pepper)
  • Cornbread (see here)
  1. Get yourself a heavy based casserole dish or saucepan.
  2. Heat a splash of sunflower oil and add the onion. Sweat for 8-10 minutes until soft. Add the garlic and cook for a further few minutes.
  3. Add the spices and chilli and cook for 1 minute.
  4. Drain the beans and wash them briefly. Add the beans to the pan and stir. Season.
  5. Add the tinned tomatoes and stir. Wash out the tomato cans with a little water and add that too until its a thick/thin as you desire.
  6. Simmer for 5-10 minutes to let everything warm through. 
  7. Add the juice of 1/2 lime and serve with your toppings and sides!

Don”t feel bound by the beans I suggest here – 2 cans of your favourites will work well. I suggest a mixed can as a base and then go wild with your second – chickpeas or extra kidney beans work well here.



iffin sits with a lot of childhood memories for me. I think its been overtaken by its more indulgent, American cousin rocky road in recent times but a traditional brandy punching tiffin is a winner. I do wonder if my childhood tiffin was quite as alcoholic.

Its a rich treat so be warned! You can make all sorts of substitutions to this recipe and its completely open to personalising. For example, its traditionally made using Digestive biscuits but I rather like the spice of a ginger nut and the contrast to the brandy.  I’ve made some suggestions below on how to adapt but feel free to go wild.

  • 50g dried cranberries (or try raisins)
  • 75g dates, chopped
  • 4 tbsp brandy (or try Amaretto)
  • 350g dark cooking chocolate
  • 150g unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp golden syrup
  • 250g biscuits – traditionally digestives but I use ginger nuts. You need a plain biscuit though so no oreos or custard creams.
  • Zest of 1/2 orange
  1. Grease and line a brownie tin or round 20.5cm tin with parchment
  2. Put the cranberries, dates and brandy in a bowl and let them soak for 20-30 minutes
  3. Melt 125g of the butter, 200g of the chocolate and the syrup in a bowl over simmering water stirring until smooth. Remove from the heat.
  4. Crush the biscuits – I like to put them in a sandwich bag and bash them with a rolling pin. You get some large and small chunks and a bit of biscuit dust.
  5. Add the biscuits, orange zest, a pinch of salt and the cranberry/date mix (including the brandy) to the chocolate and stir well.
  6. Tip into the tin and level the mixture pushing it into the corners. Leave to cool before chilling for 1 hour.
  7. To make the topping, melt the remaining 25g butter and 150g chocolate in a bowl over simmering water until smooth.
  8. Pour over the chilled tiffin and smooth it out. Chill for 2-3 hours until the topping is set.
  9. Remove from the fridge and cut into generous chunks and enjoy with a cup of tea on a blue Monday – it’ll help!


Beer-in-the-butt Chicken


orry to my readers but particularly those vegans among us who might find this offensive but its by far my favourite way to cook a whole chicken. Firstly for its ease and secondly for the moisture it maintains. The beer not only creates a steam around and inside the chicken during roasting but it also makes for an excellent gravy.

Some recipes call for this method on the BBQ but I’ve never had a good experience cooking a whole chicken on the BBQ in anyway unless spatchcocked. It takes too long and by the time the heat has penetrated to the core bone meat, the outer breast meat is dry and overcooked. If you’re going to cook a whole chicken on the BBQ either spatchcock it first or at least pre-cook it for 70% of the way in the oven before finishing on the BBQ to get that lovely charred flavour. It’ll also help you to preserve any sticky marinade you don’t want burnt off and destroyed in the first 10 minutes!

This recipe will serve as many as the chicken is big!

  • 1 chicken
  • 1 red onion, quartered roughly
  • 2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 x 330ml can lager. Choose a milld lager so it doesn’t overpower your gravy.
  • 25g butter (soft, not fridge cold)
  • Few springs thyme
  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Take deep baking tray and throw in your red onion and garlic.
  3. Mix the butter with the thyme and some salt and pepper and use it either stuff under the breast and thigh skin of the chicken or on top. Either is fine.
  4. Tip out about 3/4 of your can of lager into the baking tray and then sit the can in the middle.
  5. Place the chicken on top and push down so its sitting snuggly. Roast in the oven for about 1 hour but this will depend not he size of your chicken. Make sure to keep topping put the tray with a bit more beer/white/water depending on what you have around. You don’t want it to dry out.
  6. Once cooked and looking golden, remove from the oven. Carefully (this is the hard bit as the can will be HOT) remove the chicken from the can. I like to use my oven gloves and then just wash them afterwards. Place the chicken, cover and leave to rest.
  7. Tip any remaining beer into the tray and either pop the tray directly onto the hob or tips the contents into a saucepan.
  8. Whisk well adding a splash of water and a tsp or two of Bisto to make a lovely gravy. Taste and season. I like to keep my gravy chunky with the onions pieces but you can blend if you like.
  9. Carve you chicken when ready and serve with your gravy.

I served mine with some polenta chips and some lightly boiled and buttered kale and peas.

Polenta Chips

  • 150g instant cook polenta, please extra for dusting
  • 400ml vegetable stock (1 x cube crumbled into water)
  • 1 large sprig thyme, leaves picked
  • 30g parmesan cheese, finely grated.
  1. Start by getting your container ready. Once cooked you put the polenta into a mould (i.e. container) to let it cool before cutting into pieces so best to chose a tupperware or something that is rectangle shape and not too large. Oil it lightly inside.
  2. Bring the stock to the simmer in a saucepan.
  3. Season your polenta well with salt and pepper.
  4. Once it is simmering, whisk in the polenta stirring quickly. It will start to thicken instantly. Keep whisking and then take off the heat – I find this takes about 1 minute so don’t be alarmed if it happens fast.
  5. Once off the heat, add in the cheese and thyme and mix well.
  6. Press the mixture lightly into your container so its about 1 inch thick. You may need multiple containers.
  7. Chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes.
  8. Once chilled, remove from the moulds and cut into chip sizes and dust in extra polenta on a plate. Once you’ve done them all you should have  a plate of chips!
  9. Heat some sunflowers oil in a frying pan until hot. Fry them on all sides until golden and crispy. They can take some time to colour so be patient.

Cheese Scones


f you’ve read my previous blog post you’ll know that I was the greedy and welcome receiver of a box of cheese from Paxton & Whitfield for my Birthday and what a treat! A fantastic comte and a cave aged cheddar (cave aged!!) were nibbled on in the park under the sun with a bottle of celebratory bubbles.

Given I’ve so much cheese still, I thought a warm cheese scone would be the perfect treat for a chillier weekend in the drizzle and a pick me up after a long cycle. A good strong cheddar is a must here – buy the best you can afford or at least a mature/extra mature option. Call me a food snob but I guarantee you won’t feel the full effect with the likes of Cathedral city.  I used half cheddar, half comte but you can use all cheddar if you like.

Adapted from ‘Delicious magazine

Makes 6-7 scones

  • 225g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 tsp mustard powder
  • 55g chilled butter, cubed
  • 50g mature cheddar, finely grated (Best you can afford – I used this one from Paxton & Whitfield)
  • 50g Comte, finely grated (I used this one from P&W)
  • 60ml of warm water and milk (half and half)
  1. Preheat the oven to 220 and put your baking tray inside to warm up.
  2. In a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, salt, mustard and chilled butter. Pulse until you have a fine breadcrumb mixture (you can also do this in a bowl and rub the butter in with your finger tips).
  3. Tip the mixture into a large mixing bowl and mix in the cheese. Make sure you use a fine grater and not a large one or the pieces will be too big.
  4. Add the milk/water mix and, using a knife and a cutting motion, mix thoroughly. Bring everything together with your hands in the bowl or tipped out onto the work surface but don’t overwork or be tempted to knead it like bread, it needs careful handling.
  5. Once you’ve formed a ball, gently press the dough to a 2.5cm thickness. Use a 6cm cutter to cut 4 scones. Combine the dough into a new ball and cut out 2-3 more scones.
  6. Remove the baking tray from the oven and add your scones on your warmed baking tray and brush the tops with some milk. Finally, finely grate over some extra cheese.
  7. Bake for about 12 minutes until golden, smelling delicious and cooked through.

Serve warm with butter and anything else you please! These will without doubt make your house smell devine for the day.

Potato & Goats Cheese Salad


oiled new potatoes coated in melted butter and mint smell like summer in with my parents in Wiltshire and takes me straight back! Delicious served alone with salt and pepper but this recipe all started as I wanted to showcase an amazing ash rolled goats cheese I got in a cheese hamper for my Birthday! It may well be the best I’ve ever had. If you’re interested to try, I used this cheese ‘Dorsten’ from Paxton & Whitfield.

I served the salad with a Friday night steak and a glass of red.

Serves 2

  • About 8-10 new potatoes
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced finely
  • 10g (or a large handful) each of coriander, flat leaf parsley and mint (leave picked)
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 bag rocket leaves
  • 200g sugar snap peas
  • 100g green beans
  • 80-100g goats cheese of choice (Link to the one we used above).
  • 1 knob butter
  1. Boil the new potatoes for about 10-12 minutes until just cooked and soft when pierced with a knife. Drain and add the knob of butter and a good pinch of flaky salt and fresh cracked pepper.
  2. Boil the green beans and sugar snaps for 1-2 minutes before draining and keeping warm in a pan.
  3. Get yourself a large serving dish and add the finely chopped red onion and the zest of the lemon.
  4. Finely chop all the soft herbs and add to the serving bowl with the rocket leaves. Toss together.
  5. Add the warm beans and potatoes (with their buttery juices) and toss to combine.
  6. Squeeze over the juice of half the lemon and a little drizzle of your best extra virgin olive oil and toss to combine.
  7. Finely, dice or crumble your chosen goats cheese over the salad and mix lightly through.

Serve! I served mine simply with a grilled steak but this simple side would be perfect for some grilled salmon, cod, chicken or anything you fancy!