Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Purple & White Sprouting Broccoli with Toasted Almonds

This is so straightforward, I can barely even call it a recipe. There's just no need to mess with such a gloriously fresh and seasonal ingredient, so I say keep it simple and let the wonderful flavour of the sprouting broccoli shine through. Rather excitingly, I found white sprouting broccoli on sale at Borough Market, though I imagine that it won't have hit the supermarkets just yet, so if you can't find white, just use the more widely available purple variety.

Photography by Casey Lazonick, Prop styling by Cynthia Blackett, Food styling and recipe by myself. 


1 bunch purple sprouting broccoli
1 bunch white sprouting broccoli
150g flaked almonds, toasted till golden brown in a dry frying pan
juice of half a lemon
olive oil
salt & pepper

1. Fill a large lidded saucepan with water and bring to the boil. Add a good pinch of salt. Slice any especially large broccoli florets in half length ways so they are all roughly the same size. Plunge the broccoli into the boiling water and cook for 2-3 mins, until it is slightly softened but still very aldente, and hasn't lost all of it's purple colour (the purple colour fades to dark green rapidly when cooked, but visually it's nice to retain some of that purple if you can, so don't over cook).

2. Drain the broccoli and add to a a big bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, and give it a toss around, coating the broccoli thoroughly.

3. This can be served warm or cold. When you are ready to serve, just scatter the toasted almonds over the top and voila!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

MaltEaster Bunny Brownies

I adore the MaltEaster bunnies that pop up in the shops at Easter, so of course I decided to bake them into a brownie! This is less of a recipe, and more of an idea which can be adjusted to your favourite brownie recipe if you like. I used a really basic and quick brownie mix here, but feel free to use any brownie recipe as your base. Just push the little chocolate bunnies into the tray about 10 minutes before the end of baking! It's hardly gourmet, but it is great with a cuppa!

(Makes around 20 brownies)


400g caster sugar
225g melted buter
60g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 eggs
225g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 large bag of regular Maltesers
3 bags of mini MaltEaster bunnies

1. Preheat oven to 180C.
2. Mix all the ingredients thoroughly in the order listed, apart from the regular Maltesers and MaltEaster bunnies.
3. Add 2/3s of the bag of Maltesers to the mix and gently fold through.
4. Pour the mix into a greased lined baking tray (it should fill a 23x33cm rectangular tray) and smooth out with a spatula. Bake for around 20 mins.
5. Remove from the oven, and push the rest of the Maltesers and MaltEaster bunnies into the brownie crust gently, being careful not to burn yourself.
6. Return to the oven and bake for another 5-10 mins, until just cooked. If you find the top is going too brown, cover with tin foil and continue to bake.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Easter Egg Florentines with Cacao Nibs (A Borough Market Comission)

In this recipe I’ve given my favourite teatime treat, Florentines, a fun Easter twist. These make lovely gifts, presented in a little nest-like Easter basket or box. They are also great fun for kids to help decorate and are perfect to take to any school Easter fair.

You will need a small egg-shaped cookie cutter, which you can buy from many cookware shops or off the internet. A couple of fine nozzle piping bags are also handy for the chocolate decoration.

50g butter
50g demerara sugar
50g golden syrup
50g plain flour
25g glacé cherries, chopped
25g candied peel, finely chopped
25g almonds, finely chopped
25g pistachios, finely chopped
25g cacao nibs

To decorate:
200g dark chocolate drops (70% cocoa solids)
200g white chocolate drops

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and line a baking tray with parchment paper.

  1. Heat the butter, sugar and golden syrup in a pan gently, until the butter has melted. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour, chopped fruit and nuts and the cacao nibs until combined.

  1. Place heaped teaspoons of the mixture onto the lined baking tray. It’s best to do this in small batches of around 5 Florentines at a time, as when they come out of the oven you need to act fast to cut them with your egg-shaped cutter while the mixture is still hot and soft.

  1. Bake for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and use your cutter to press firmly onto the biscuits to create Easter egg shapes. A sharp knife is useful to help you trim away the edges and a small plate popped on top of your cutter will allow you to press down firmly without hurting your hands.    

  1. Transfer to a wire rack to cool. Repeat the process until you’ve used all your mixture up.

  1. Once cooled, you can think about the decoration. Melt your chocolate in the microwave or in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Once melted, decorate as you please. Use a piping bag to create the dots and lines, or alternatively just spread your chocolate on or drizzle it over the biscuits.

Top Tip:

Chocolatier Louise Anderson from Rabot 1745 in Borough Market gave me a great tip on how to temper dark chocolate without a thermometer. Melt two thirds of your pack of chocolate drops in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure you don’t get any water in with the chocolate as this will make it go grainy). Do not stir. When you can see that it has nearly melted, then you can stir gently until smooth and entirely melted. Remove your bowl of chocolate from the heat, place on a dish cloth to absorb any water on the bottom of the bowl and add the remaining third of your pack of chocolate drops. Stir in gently until completely melted. To test, dab a little chocolate to your bottom lip - it should be slightly cooler than your body temperature.

Thursday, 6 April 2017

Scallops with Wild Garlic Butter

Photograph by Casey Lazonick, prop styling by Cynthia Blackett, food styling & recipe by myself.

This is a wonderfully simple and seasonal recipe. It's perfect for a dinner party starter, being both visually stunning and a real crowd-pleaser. Serve with bread to mop up the melted wild garlic butter.

For the Wild Garlic butter

250g unsalted butter, cut into cubes and softened to room temperature
1 large bunch of fresh wild garlic, washed and roughly chopped
Salt and black pepper to taste

1. Blitz the wild garlic in a small processor until finely chopped.
2. Add in the butter and blitz till combined, stopping to scrape down the sides of the processor with a spatula and blitzing again, until it is all thoroughly mixed.
3. Season to taste and give it a final mix.
4. Lay out some clingfilm or baking parchment on the surface. Pop the butter in the middle and roll into a sausage shape. Twist the ends of the clingfilm securely.

TIP: This can be made in advance and frozen for about 1 month. You can slice it as and when you need it.

To assemble the Scallops

Scallops in half-shells
Wild garlic butter (as above)
Sea salt

1. Give the scallops a rinse if needed, and pat dry with some kitchen towel. Season with a little salt and pepper.
2. Heat a frying pan to a high heat with a little oil (I used rapeseed oil). Fry the scallops for about 1 minute on one side, then flip them over and cook for about 10 seconds on the other side. You don't want them to be completely cooked, as they will finish cooking when under the grill. Remove from the heat and pop back in their shells.
3. Arrange the scallop shells on a baking tray. A great tip to help keep them steady is to sprinkle a little pile of sea salt under each scallop shell, to create a little 'bed' for them to sit on securely.
4. Heat the grill to high. Add a slice of wild garlic butter to each scallop, and grill for 1-2 mins, until the butter is melted and bubbling.
5. Serve with lemon wedges and bread for dunking.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

Mora Restaurant, Leytonstone

I was delighted to discover a new Italian restaurant opening not 10 minutes walk from my front door. Mora Italian Restaurant http://www.moraitalianrestaurant.co.uk/ sits on High Road Leytonstone, and has a strong Sardinian influence (the co-owners are Sardinian themselves). Funnily enough, I discovered it walking past it on the way to and from my local gym...so sometimes going to the gym does pay off, though possibly not in the way I am intending it too..! Exhausted after my marathon of a gym session (naturally), I've often peered through the glass windows on my way home, eyeing up steaming bowls of fresh pasta or oozing risotto from in front of content diners. So after a particularly vigorous 10 minutes on the exercise bike last Saturday, I decided it was about time that I enjoyed some of this pasta too- I'd earned it after all!

Mora is a buzzing little place, and my brother and I were only just able to reserve a table for that evening- always a good sign. We ordered promptly, starting with a bread basket, which was brimming with three types of freshly baked warm bread; Focaccia, Carasau (a flat Sardinian crisp bread with herbs), and a brown crusty variety, plus olives, oil & vinegar for dipping. We also ordered a tomato and mozarella crostino with Sardinian salami, which was pure comfort food. Fresh tomato paste slathered on griddled toast, topped with blobs of melted mozzarella, and the softest salami, full of melt-in-the-mouth buttery fat.

For our main course we both veered towards pasta dishes- how could we not when they make their own pasta fresh each day. A generous bowl of pappardelle with wild boar ragu was just rich enough, with the beautiful thick ribbons of pasta containing just the right amount of aldente chew. We also chose taglioni cacio e pepe (taglioni with pecorino and black pepper), a good bench mark of a dish for any Italian restaurant. This was a rich and buttery nest of deliciousness, and definitely a stand out dish for me. We enjoyed our food with the house red, which was the perfect pairing.

Then onto pudding (when in Rome...), an Affogato (vanilla ice cream with espresso poured over the top) and it had to be the tiramisu; a creamy yet light coffee-soaked pud, which was another hit.

Mora was an absolute carb-filled disaster for our so-called diets, but worth every delicious mouthful. It may take a little more than my 10 minute stint on the exercise bike to redeem myself this time, but as Sophia Loren said 'I'd much rather eat pasta and drink wine than be a size zero'. Hear, hear!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Goose filled lettuce cups with brussel sprout & radish slaw and zingy asian dressing

This recipe was commissioned by Borough Market, find it on the Borough Market website here: http://boroughmarket.org.uk/recipes/goose-filled-lettuce-cups-with-sprout-radish-slaw

This feel-good recipe can be made with any leftover roasted meat and promises to bring some brightness and zest to a Boxing Day table. I’ve chosen to use goose, which I like to re-heat, as it gives a nice contrast between hot goose and cold crisp lettuce, but this is optional and cold meat would work nicely too. It’s a refreshing change from all the heavy and rich food we gorge on over Christmas; and the zingy dressing promises to blow away any post-Christmas cobwebs and revive any past-their-best relatives!

Serves 6


200-300g cooked goose meat, off the bone, torn into pieces
1 baby gem lettuce, washed and broken into leaves
Small bunch of radishes
100g brussel sprouts (uncooked and washed)
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 red chilli, seeds removed, finely chopped
½ tbsp sesame oil
Juice of half a lemon

For the dressing

2 tbsp soy sauce

1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp honey

½ tbsp sesame oil

½ tbsp fish sauce

1 tbsp of sesame seeds plus extra for garnishing, lightly toasted in a dry frying pan

Lime wedges to garnish

1.       Optional: Place the cooked goose meat on a baking tray and place in a preheated oven at 160C for 10 minutes, or until it is piping hot through.

2.       Mix all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl. Season with a little salt and pepper and have a taste. The beauty of this dressing is that you can tweak it to your own liking, so feel free to add more honey for a sweeter finish or rice vinegar for sharpness.

3.       Finely shred the brussel sprouts and thinly slice the radish, keeping a couple of radish back for garnishing. Place in a bowl and add your chopped chilli, spring onions, ½ tablespoon of sesame oil and lemon juice and mix with a spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper and have a taste. 

4.       Place your lettuce leaf cups on a big serving plate and spoon the shredded goose equally into them. Top with a spoonful of brussel sprouts and radish slaw.

5.       Garnish with more sliced radish and sprinkle toasted sesame seeds onto each cup. Serve with wedges of lime for squeezing and the dressing in a small bowl with a spoon to allow guests to dress their own.

ALTERNATIVE: This recipe will work with any leftover roasted meat - turkey, lamb, beef, you name it. You can also add rice noodles to the cups to further bulk them out.