Wednesday 17 December 2014

Warm Beetroot & Feta Salad

This is the ideal meal for a light lunch or evening tea. Even though it's a salad, the roasted vegetables and creamy feta make it filling, hearty and warming... not to mention really healthy!

You can have it on its own or try it with a grilled salmon fillet or chicken breast.

You'll need;

2x handfuls spinach
2 beetroots
1 pepper
1x handful plum tomatoes
30g feta
2x gloves garlic
2 closed cup mushrooms
1 tbspn turmeric

Place your beetroot, pepper, tomatoes and garlic into a baking tray, and drizzle in a little olive oil. Sprinkle with turmeric (or a spice of your choice), and roast in the oven for 20 minutes on 180 degrees.

In the mean time, wash your spinach and mushrooms. Lay the spinach out on your plate and top with raw mushrooms. When your veggies are done, take them out of the oven and crumble half of your feta on top so that it starts to melt a little. Pop back in the oven for about three minutes until the feta is a bit goey.

Place your vegetables and feta on top of your spinach, finally finishing off by crumbling the remaining feta on top, and some black pepper to season.

If you're running low on feta, crumble some walnut halves on top instead.



Tuesday 9 December 2014

Christmas Time in North France

Last weekend marked the true beginning of the festive period for me: old friends, France, presents, wine, cheese & chocolate (and some good old board games thrown into the mix too..).

Me, Alice, Kate & Nichola set off from London in the car at 6am on Friday and were in a cottage in the north of France at midday. After a supermarket sweep style dash around the shops, we made the feast of a lifetime and sat down to have a proper catch up. 

At 6pm, we figured it was probably time to get down from the table, and get ready for secret Santa.....

I definitely came off the winner this time round, not only did I get the Marmite 'Love or Hate' boardgame (thanks, Kate), but the team behind Nola Spritz sent me a gift too - specially put together with a girls' night in mind!

The hamper included gorgeous smelling candles, popcorn, snacks and their signature 'Nola Spritz' - pre-mixed vodka in flavours; raspberry and elderflower and watermelon and strawberry. 

Me and the girls all decided that it reminded us of drinking crisp, cool fruit cider. Light, fruity and fizzy - and refreshingly cool after too much mulled wine and an open fire!

We stayed up into the early hours of the morning... with marshmallows, the Marmite boardgame, red wine and the best French radio station, 'Nostalgic'. It's like Smooth FM on heat, and we couldn't get enough.

Saturday tore us away from the fire and out into the countryside..

...where we seemed to stumble upon the best thing in the world.

A farmhouse with new kittens. Lots and lots of tiny balls of fluff jumping and running about. I actually could not deal.

After recovering from a cute-kitten induced seizure, I calmed down enough to take this for you;

Even when doing its best to look like a pissed off porcupine, it's still the cutest thing ever.

Happy Christmas..!


Sunday 7 December 2014

Innocent Mince Pies

I got fully into the Christmas spirit yesterday, tackling a load of Christmas shopping and making mince pies. I based the recipe on a post by the brilliant Little Green Spoon, who's recipes are always bookmarked for me to try out.

I didn't quite have all the ingredients, and will definitely invest in some vanilla for the next batch (as well as some festive pastry cutters!), but these little pies tasted lovely - definitely not a bad first attempt.

I used;

1 packet ground almonds
1 egg
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 oranges
1/2 lemon
2 whole pieces nutmeg, grated
1 packet mixed dried fruit (sultanas, cranberries, raisins)
2 tablespoons cinnamon
4 table spoons Agave syrup

This made 9 mince pies.

First up, the crust:

Mix together your ground almonds, egg, coconut oil and 2x table spoons of agave syrup. My poor old blender couldn't quite cope with the stickiness of this mixture, so I ended up taking it out and hand mixing it.

Roll the dough into two balls and cover them in cling film. The original recipe suggests putting the dough in the fridge, but I opted for the freezer. 

Make the mince whilst this is chilling. 

Chop your oranges in half and squeeze the juice into a saucepan. Then, finely grate the remains of the orange until it hurts your arm too much to carry on. Do the same with the lemon and nutmeg. Heat it up and add in your cinnamon, dried fruit and 2x table spoons of agave syrup (and vanilla, if you have it). Remember to keep stirring!

Once it’s been cooking about half an hour take the dough out of the freezer.

Roll one out until you reach your desired base level. I went for quite a thick base, as I wasn't sure that a thin base could hold the mince.

If you've got a cupcake tray then line these with coconut oil. I used cupcake cases and greased them with a little coconut oil, which is why they look more like mince cakes than pies…

Use the rim of a cup or a pastry cutter to make circles, and place these in their cases. Use a tablespoon to dollop the mince filling on top the base.

Roll out your second dough ball to make the lids. Please be more creative than me on this bit..

(If your dough starts to crumble, just use your hands.)

Once all your lids are on, pop them in the oven at 180 degrees for 10 – 12 minutes.

Definitely best eaten warm; mulled wine mandatory.


Sunday 23 November 2014


I've done a ratatouille recipe before on here, but I've upped my ingredients game with this one and think you need to know about it.

Largely because it's so versatile; meaning you could team it with something different every day of the week for tea and not get bored. I've been making a big batch of this pretty much every Sunday... and it's come in handy for the week before payday..!

For this variation, I used;

  • One can chickpeas (sneaking more protein in there, also makes it really filling)
  • 1 tub passata
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 gloves garlic
  • Tomato puree
  • Chilli powder
  • 1 tblspn Turmeric
  • 2 tblspn tahini 
  • 1 courgette
  • Black pepper to season

Baked Eggs:

Pour your ratatouille mix into a frying pan and let it warm through. Make two pockets for your eggs to sit in, then crack them on and let them cook.

Prawn and goats cheese

Add your ratatouille to a frying pan and let it get hot. I added kale to this one for more crunch. Add your prawns and when cooked, top with goats cheese.

Broccoli and Feta

Heat up your ratatouille, steam or boil your broccoli and crumble feta on top.

Or... you could just have a big, warming bowl of it on its own.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Malaysian Supperclub @ Ning

On Tuesday I was invited to Norman Musa's Malaysian kitchen in at Ning, in the Northern Quarter to celebrate the Malaysia's comparatively un-honoured cuisine.

Norman's bagged the title as Europe's leading Malaysian chef, so I had high hopes for the feast!

Needless to say, I wasn't disappointed!

We started with a DIY mango salad that came with shallots, crispy anchovies, peanuts and chilli; battered crabs with a chilli sambal dipping sauce; and chicken skewers with a rich peanut sauce - these were my absolute favourite, I could've eaten them all night. Yum.

In between courses, we had a go at making roti jala, a laced pancake that's a nation snack staple. It was nice, but a little odd - the pancake is sweet and then covered in a spicy curry sauce..

For mains, we had Ayam Percik - grilled chicken breast with coconut milk, lemongrass and chilli sauce, Sambai Petai and Udang - prawns with beans in a chilli sambai sauce, Siakap Kukus - a whole steamed sea bass with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic and ginger, and Masak Lemak Labu and Keledek - roast pumpkin and sweet potato with a coconut and turmeric sauce.

Each dish was scrumptious in its own right - but the prawns won me over hands down! They were so juicy, and the sauce was just spot on.

For dessert, we tried gorgeous Malaysian rice cakes, fresh fruit and ice-cream. The ice-cream is where it starts to get a bit weird. We felt adventurous so ordered the Durian flavour.....

And it tasted like iced onion. With cream. It was just odd. It's been dubbed the world's smelliest fruit, and I can safely say I won't be trying it again!!

How nice does the dragon fruit look?

I'd definitely recommend checking the restaurant, especially if you like Thai food (it's very similar).

The restaurant details are here!

Sunday 2 November 2014

Comfort Food: Spicy Carrot, Butternut Squash, Sweet Potato & Ginger Soup

I'm not one for big claims...(!) But I think this is one of the most delicious soups I've tried in my life.

It's spicy but creamy, thick, warming and just a little bit sweet. If I said it reminded me a little bit of a Korma sauce, would that put you off?! Don't worry, it's got next to none of the calories found in a curry, and will definitely warm you up after a long, cold day.

It's brimming with nutrients and if you make a big enough batch, it's a really cost-effective way to eat well during the winter.


  • 2 sweet potatoes, chopped
  • 1 butternut squash, chopped
  • 5 carrots, chopped
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 big cups boiling water
  • 1 tea spoon cinnamon
  • 1 inch fresh ginger root, grated
  • Black pepper to season
  • 1 table spoon cumin

First, chop and sautee your red onion and garlic in a big pan for about 5 minutes on a high heat. Then add the ginger, cinnamon and cumin, coating the onion and garlic. Lower the heat so it doesn't burn. 

Whilst this is cooking, chop your butternut squash, carrots and sweet potato (is it just me that hates chopping butternut squash? It's so clumsy and I always end up wasting loads!), and add the pan along with your cups of boiling water.

Let the mix bubble on a medium heat for about 30 minutes, until the vegetables become soft and breakable. Don't forget to give it a stir every now and then. 

Pour your soup into a food processor, and blend until you have the desired consistency. If you don't have a blender or processor, have a go at mashing your veg in the pan.



Tuesday 28 October 2014

Nissa La Bella

When a best friend moves to the South of France indefinitely, two things spring to mind:
1) How many times is it acceptable to fly out to see her in a month?
2) How can I move out there too??!

The first time me and the girls could get away was last weekend. We got a really early flight to Nice which meant touching down just as the locals appeared for croissants and coffee (stereotype, me?)

It was the first time I'd been to the South of France, and I can't wait to get back to Nice. It's beautiful.

After breakfast we made our way to Monaco for lunch (as one does on a Friday...)

I'd take Nice over Monaco any day, but that's another story...

If you're only in Nice for a short stay and you love food, wine & a good bit of culture, I'd recommend doing the A Taste of Nice food & wine tour. I had one of the funniest days of my life, weaving in and out of bakeries, restaurants and food markets in Nice Old Town.

Our guide, Gustav was a top bloke. We were serenaded at lunch by an 88-year-old local man named Jo-Jo, who sang the Nice anthem with so much vigour we thought he was going to collapse. He took two kisses on the cheek as payment, and has imprinted himself on our memories forever!

When you're with your best friends, everywhere feels like home - I know I'll be back for more, Nice!
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