30 December 2015

Brussels Sprouts risotto

If you bought just a few too many brussels sprouts over the festive season and have no idea what else to do with them other than boil them, then this is the perfect recipe.

Its quick, really tasty and something unusual to surprise your guests with..

Ingredients: (to serve 2 hungry people or 4 as a starter dish)

20g salted buter
1tbsp olive oil
1/2 large onion, peeled and diced
1 large garlic clove, peeled and crushed
1tbsp fresh thyme leaves
2 lemons (1 shaved into long strips of lemon zest and the other for grated lemon zest.)
150g risotto rice
250g trimmed bussels sprouts (100g shredded and 150g quartered)
100ml dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
500-600ml good quality chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and black pepper
Sunflower oil for deep frying
Parmesan/cheddar cheese


Put a large heavy-based casserole dish over a medium-high heat. Add the butter and olive oil and once the butter has melted, add the diced onion.

Cook the onion on a medium heat for 7-10 minutes until soft and starting to caramelise. Then add in the crushed garlic, thyme leaves and strips of lemon zest. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and then add in the rice, a good pinch of salt and black pepper and the shredded sprouts. Cook for another 3-5 minutes, stirring, and then add in the white wine. Let the wine simmer for a few minutes until reduced and then add in your first spoonful of stock.

Continue to add in the stock, a ladleful at a time, stirring well in between each addition until the liquid has been absorbed before you add in the next ladleful. Continue to do this until the rice is cooked but still has a little bite.

Whilst the risotto is cooking, add the sunflower oil to a medium-sized saucepan so that you have about 2cm of oil. Heat the oil over a medium-high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the quartered brussels sprouts, a few at a time with a slotted spoon and deep fry them for about 20-30 seconds until golden and crispy. (Be careful as the oil will spit a bit). Once cooked, transfer to some kitchen paper whilst you fry the rest of the quartered sprouts.

Once the risotto is ready, stir through a small knob of butter and a handful of grated parmesan or cheddar cheese, as well as half of the fried spouts.

To serve, top each portion of risotto with a few more of the fried sprouts, some lemon zest and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Recipe by Yotam Ottolenghi, slightly adapted from from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2014/jan/17/brussels-sprout-recipes-yotam-ottolenghi

10 December 2015

Spiced squash pumpkin pie with salted caramel and maple pecans


250g cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
500g plain flour
50g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
Cold water

750g butternut squash (peeled, deseeded and cubed weight)
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp maple syrup

140g caster sugar
2tsp vanilla paste
1/2 tsp salt
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp ground nutmeg
2 eggs
175ml milk
50g melted butter
50g ground almonds

100g Pecans
2tbsp Maple syrup

200g caster sugar
125ml water
100g unsalted butter
100ml double cream, cubed
1tsp flaked sea salt (Maldon)


Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (fan.)

Start by peeling and deseeding your butternut squash. You want 750g of butternut squash once peeled and deseeded. Cut the squash into roughly 2cm cubes and then add them to a roasting tray. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of maple syrup and roast in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes until soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Meanwhile, mix the pecans with 2 tablespoons of maple syrup in a small bowl. Tip them out onto a non-stick baking tray and bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes until golden.

Meanwhile, make your pastry. Add the plain flour and cold cubed unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl along with the sugar. Using the end of your fingertips, rub the butter into the flour and sugar until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. In a small bowl, lightly whisk the egg and then add it to the other ingredients along with 1 tablespoon of cold water. Mix the egg and water into the dry ingredients and then continue adding a small amount of cold water until the mixture comes together into a ball. (You want the pastry to just hold together- don't add too much water or it will be too wet to use.)

Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 20 minutes.

Whilst the pastry is chilling, use a potato masher to mash the roasted squash and then pass it through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, vanilla paste, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, eggs, milk, melted butter and ground almonds until fully incorporated and you have a smooth batter. Then whisk in the roasted squash.

Remove the pastry from the fridge and roll it out on a lightly floured work surface until the thickness of a one pound coin. Grease a large, fluted loose-bottomed 25cm tart tin with butter. Carefully lift the pastry into the tart tin and make sure to push the pastry into the sides of the tin. Leave any over hanging pastry for the moment and then line the unbaked pastry case with a layer of baking paper and some baking beans in order to stop if from puffing up. Blind bake the pastry case in the preheated oven for 15 minutes and then remove the baking beans and baking paper and return to the oven for another 10 minutes until the pastry starts to turn golden.

Once golden, remove from the oven and using a sharp knife, run the knife along the edges of the tin to remove any excess pastry. Then pour in the squash filling. Turn the heat up in the oven to 200 degrees C (fan). Once at the correct temperature, bake the pie for 10 minutes and then reduce the heat to 160 degrees C (fan) and continue to bake it for another 30 minutes until set.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.

Meanwhile, add the pecans to a small plastic bag and then using a rolling pin, bash the caramelised pecans into very fine pieces.

To make the caramel, add the sugar and water to a large heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat. Let them cook without stirring until the mixture starts to turn golden brown. Take off the heat immediately and whisk in the butter until it is all melted. Then whisk in the double cream and salt.

To serve, remove the tart from the tin by pushing the base of the tin up and away from the sides. Cut a slice of the tart and top with a drizzle of the salted caramel sauce and a sprinkle of the crushed pecan nuts.

25 October 2015

Ricotta hotcakes with maple roasted figs

My obsession with figs continues...

Ricotta hotcakes (recipe from Izy Hossack's Granger and Co style ricotta hotcakes) with cinnamon and maple roasted figs.

Ingredients: (serves 2 people - makes 6 large hotcakes)

1/2 tsp vanilla paste
2 eggs, separated
90ml milk
65g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
150g ricotta

For the roasted figs:

3-4 ripe figs
1tsp vanilla
1tsp honey
2tsp maple syrup
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

More maple syrup to serve


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C(fan.)

Cut the figs into quarters and arrange them in a baking dish. Spoon over the vanilla, honey, maple syrup and cinnamon. Toss the fig quarters in the other ingredients until properly coated. Then roast the figs in the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, in a large mixing bowl, mix together the egg yolks, vanilla paste, milk, plain flour, baking powder and salt with a fork until smooth. Then add in the ricotta and mix very lightly to combine. (You still want to have some lumps of ricotta left in the batter.)

Then in a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form soft peaks. Add the batter to the egg whites and fold in gently.

Put a large frying pan over a low-medium heat. Add in a small knob of butter and let it melt before spooning in a ladleful of batter in a circle to form the first hotcake. (You can probably fit two hotcakes in the pan at one time). Cook the hotcakes for 2-3 minutes on each side until they start to turn golden brown and have puffed up slightly.  Repeat this with the rest of the batter to make 6 large hotcakes in total.

Serve the hotcakes immediately, topped with the roasted figs and some extra maple syrup!

19 October 2015

Roasted squash, goats cheese and streaky bacon risotto


Roasted squash:

1 large butternut squash
1 large garlic clove (I used purple Germidour garlic from the Cadours areas of South-West France, which I bought from my local farmers market. Its a rich, sweet garlic so you only need a little of it. If you are using normal garlic, then just use two medium cloves.)
Salt and Pepper
Olive oil


1 large garlic clove
1 large white onion
Olive oil
Knob of butter
250g risotto rice
125ml dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)
700ml Chicken stock
2-3 rashers smokey streaked bacon, chopped into small pieces

To Serve:

Creme Fraiche
Goats Cheese
Pea shoots or watercress


Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C (fan.)

Peal, deseed and dice the butternut squash into cubes. (Retain some of the squash seeds for later.)
Peel and finely chop the garlic clove and then add the squash, garlic, a good seasoning of salt and pepper and a few tablespoons of olive oil to a large baking dish.

Make sure the squash is coated in the oil, garlic and seasoning and then put the dish in the preheated oven. Roast the squash for 30-35 minutes until it begins to caramelise and turn tender. After 35 minutes, scatter over the streaky bacon and then return the dish to the oven for another 5-10 minutes until the bacon is golden and crispy.

Then remove this from the oven and cover with tinfoil to keep warm.

Whilst the squash is roasting, start on the risotto.

Add a large glug of olive oil and knob of butter to a large frying pan over a medium heat. Peel and finely chop the onion and add this to the pan. Sweat the onion in the butter and oil for 5-10 minutes until it begins to soften and then add in the garlic. Fry the garlic for another 2-3 minutes and then pour in your risotto rice. Mix the rice in with the garlic, butter, oil and onions and cook it in the pan for 3-4 minutes. Once the rice has been properly coated in the oil, add in the white wine and let it reduce to at least half its original volume.

Then gradually add in the stock. You want to add it a ladle full at a time, letting the rice absorb each ladle of stock before you add in another. It will take about 40-50 minutes for the rice to absorb all the liquid. (You may want to add slightly more or slightly less liquid than suggested. The rice needs to be cooked until it is tender but still has a little bite.)

Once the rice is cooked, remove the risotto from the heat and season well with salt and pepper. Stir in a large knob of butter, a tablespoon of creme fraiche and some finely grated parmesan.

Next, use a potato masher, to roughly mash the roasted butternut squash (you still want a few big chunks left in it.) Then stir the squash and bacon pieces into the risotto.

Finish with some crumbled goats cheese and serve with some fresh pea shoots or watercress.

15 October 2015

Blackberry, pear and apple pie

Nothing says Autumn more than a pan of stewing apples, pears and deep purple blackberries..


For the shortcrust pastry:

250g plain flour
125g cold unsalted butter
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of salt
1tbsp caster sugar
Cold Water

For the filling:

8-10 eating apples
3 large pears
400g blackberries
Large knob of salted butter
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2tbsp plain flour

1 egg, beaten


To make the pastry, add the cold butter, cubed, to a food processor along with the plain flour, salt and caster sugar. Blitz on high speed until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. With the food processor still running, gradually add in the egg and a few teaspoons of cold water until the mixture starts to come together into a dough.  Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Wrap in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for at least one hour.

Whilst the pastry is chilling, make the filling.  Peel, core and dice the apple and pears. Add the apple to a medium sized heavy-bottomed saucepan along with the butter, cinnamon and lemon juice. Put the pan over a medium-high heat and cover with a lid. Let the apples simmer for 12-15 minutes until they begin to turn soft and then add in the pears and blackberries. Stew the apples, pears and blackberries for a further 5-7 minutes until the mixture turns a vibrant red and the blackberries are beginning to fall apart. Stir in the plain flour and then remove the pan from the heat.

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan.)

Butter an oval baking dish and tip in the filling. Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured work surface until about 1/2 cm thick. Using a star shaped cutter, cut the pastry into small stars. When you run out of space, bring the remaining pastry together, re-roll it and cut out some extra stars. (You could use whatever shaped cutter you fancy or even create a latticed effect with long strips of pastry.)
Arrange the stars in an overlapping pattern on top of the filling, brushing each star with some beaten egg before placing it on top.

Then bake the pie in the preheated oven for 30 mins. After 30 minutes, cover the top of the pie with a layer of tinfoil and then return to the oven for a further 10-15 minutes until the pastry is cooked through.

Serve warm with cream or ice cream.

11 October 2015

Fig, honey and almond Frangipane tart

Beautiful velvety figs with vibrant crimson interiors.
I'm obsessed.
They're right in season at the moment and on all of the shelves everywhere- greengrocers, supermarkets and deli shops down the road.
Add them to salads with salty crumbly goats cheese, slice them up, roast them and serve with natural yoghurt and cinnamon for breakfast or combine them with a rich buttery pastry case to make this delicious fig, almond and honey frangipane tart.


For the shortcrust pastry:

250g plain flour
125g cold unsalted butter
1tbsp caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
Pinch of salt
Cold water

For the frangipane filling:

100g caster sugar
125g softened unsalted butter
1 and a half tbsp honey
2 eggs
1tsp vanilla paste
40g plain flour
170g ground almonds

8-10 ripe figs
More honey to brush over the top


Grease a round loose-bottomed fluted tart case with some soft unsalted butter.

To make the pastry, add the plain flour, cold butter, salt and caster sugar to a food processor. Blitz on high speed until you have a breadcrumb-like consistency. With the food processor running on medium, gradually add in the beaten egg and a few teaspoons of cold water until the mixture begins to form a dough and is brought together. Tip the dough out of the food processor onto a lightly floured surface and bring it together with your hands. Wrap the pastry in clingfilm and chill in the fridge for 45mins-1 hour.

Meanwhile, make the frangipane filling.
In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter with an electric whisk until soft and creamy. Whisk in the sugar, honey and vanilla paste until combined. Then gradually whisk in the eggs, one at a time. Tip in the flour and ground almonds and continue to whisk until everything is fully combined and you have a smooth batter.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (fan.) Put a baking tray on the middle shelf of the oven to heat up. (I use one with holes in at this helps to make sure the pastry cooks underneath.)

Remove the pastry from the fridge and tip it out onto a lightly floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, roll the pastry out into a large circle to the thickness of around a 1 pound coin.
Carefully lift the pastry over the tart case and then push it into the fluted sides to line it. At this point, keep the extra pastry hanging over the edge of the tart case.
Line the tart case with baking paper and then top with baking beans (or rice or any other heavy grain.) Blind bake the tart case in the preheated oven on the hot baking tray for 10-12 minutes. Then remove the baking beans and baking paper and bake the pastry for another 3-4 minutes until starting to turn golden brown. Remove the tart case from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.
Then using a sharp knife, run it along the edges of the tart case to remove the excess pastry and to leave you a neat edge to the tart.

Fill the pastry case with the frangipane mixture, spreading it out evenly.

Using a sharp knife, cut each fig into 6 equal pieces and then arrange them on top of the frangipane mixture, pushing them down slightly into the batter.

Once you are happy with the pattern, return the tart to the oven at 180 degrees C (fan) and bake for 25 minutes. (Reduce the heat to 170 degrees C (fan) after 15 minutes of baking time.)

After this initial 25 minutes, cover the tart with 2 layers of tinfoil. This will stop the top form burning but will allow the tart to cook the whole way through. Return it to the oven and bake for another 20-25 minutes until the frangipane has risen slightly and is cooked through. Uncover the tart and brush the top with a little warmed honey to give it a shine. Return the tart to the oven, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes. Then remove and allow to cool.

Serve still warm with creme fraiche or ice cream.

13 September 2015


If you've never been to Lisbon or thought of spending a weekend strolling through its rustic Portuguese tiled streets, then you need to move it to the top of your to-do list! 

I'd never even really thought of going to Lisbon until the lovely Marta, over at What Should I Eat for Breakfast Today, published this guide on the best foodie beautiful spaces in the city. My mum and I decided we needed a weekend away and in debating between Budapest and Lisbon, we chose the home of custard tarts and seafood to die for!

We stayed in an Air BnB flat - something my mum wasn't too keen on to begin with. I've heard some people have awful experiences with Air Bnb and some people who have an amazing time (*touch wood*), I've only ever stayed in outstanding flats with beautiful rooms and really friendly owners, including the stunning riad I stayed in during my time in Marrakech.) The flat was decorated with one-off pieces and the owner, Miguel, had thought of everything we might need during our stay. here's the link if you are looking for somewhere - it's great value and so much more interesting than staying in a standard hotel!

I went a bit snap-happy in Lisbon with my camera. It's like being in Hanoi or Marrakech- you could drop your camera and it accidentally snap a photo on the way down and it would still be a great shot!
So I'll leave you with a few of my favourites and some tips on the places we found and the food we ate. Thanks once again Marta for the great recommendations- you really do know how to find the hidden treasures, tucked away from the beaten path- I'm still dreaming of the Portuguese custard tarts from Manteigaria!

Taberna da Rua das Flores - we are beautiful ceviche with sweet tomato sauce and crispy parsnips along with chicken and cheese filled courgette flowers friend in tempura batter. Here you sit alongside the locals, enjoying a lazy afternoon lunch or an evening aperitif in this down-to earth Portuguese tavern.

PARK rooftop bar- this is a bar on the roof of a multi-story car park. Amazing views of the city, especially at sunset. The first time we came up here we weren't sure if we were just following a couple back to their car on the 5th floor and would have to wander around for a few minutes pretending to look for ours!

Taberna Anti Dantas - an old-school taberna with a retro look and the best octopus in town!

Manteigaria - this was a recommendation from Marta and although we only ate custard tarts from here our entire trip, I'm pretty sure there's nowhere else with any any better! It's a great people watching place- locals and tourists alike flutter in and out for a strong coffee with a creamy nutmegy custard tart and watch the talented pastry chefs through the big glass windows. 

Pois cafe - tucked away in the old district of Alfama. A really cosy spot where you can chill on their comfy sofa, have a proper mug of tea and their delicious homemade cakes. 

Time Out Mercado da Ribeira - a great spot for lunch. This is a big open market with different restaurant stalls around the outside, all offering delicious freshly-cooked food from all over the world. Wander around for a bit, choose what takes your fancy, and then join the crowds on the long high tables in the middle where you have a great view of all the passers by and can spy on what everyone else is eating!