23 December 2014

Coffee date and walnut loaf cake

Let's face it. 
When it comes down to the offer of a slice of Christmas cake, how many of us really only take a slice JUST for the icing and marzipan.....!?
Yes fruit cake can be delicious but in reality, not that many people are fans of fruit cake on Christmas day. 
And if this is the case for your family too, here's a perfect alternative. A sticky, treacly coffee, date and walnut cake. 
It's not quite as dense and rich as a fruit cake, which makes it the perfect thing for tea whilst you're watching the Christmas TV and recovering from that massive Christmas dinner!
I've left mine plain but you could decorate it with a simple coffee icing, buttercream or date and coffee syrup.


250ml hot strong coffee
150g pitted soft dates
1tsp good quality vanilla paste

125g unsalted butter
200g soft light brown sugar
2 eggs
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
50g chopped walnuts


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan).
Add the dates to a jug and pour over the hot coffee and vanilla. Leave the dates and coffee to sit for at least 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl with an electric whisk. Gradually whisk in the eggs until you have a smooth mixture.

In a separate bowl, measure out the flour, baking powder and spices.
Drain the dates but keep the coffee mixture, adding it to the butter, sugar and eggs. Whisk again, adding a little flour if the mixture looks like it might curdle.
Fold in the rest of the flour and spices with a large metal spoon. Then finely chop the soaked dates and add to the cake mixture along with the chopped walnut pieces. Stir the mixture again until everything is incorporated and you have a smooth glossy cake batter.

Pour into either a greased and lined loaf tin or two circular cake tins.

Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and a skewer, when inserted into the cake, comes out clean.

21 December 2014

EPIC spiced shredded duck leg burger with goats cheese and honey

This is inspired by THE MOST EPIC burger I have ever tasted in my life.
It was at a street food festival in Shoreditch and served up by the masterminds behind The Frenchie, London's confit duck-lovin burger team who offer a confit duck burger in-between toasted brioche buns that has London foodies going completely mad!
In order to have my own stab at this delicious creation, I turned to Jamie Oliver for inspiration, with this sticky and sweet soy, chilli, cinnamon and clove marinade which produces slightly spicy, sweet, tangy shredded duck meat.
Sandwich this duck meat between layers of goats cheese and honey and you have a winner.

Ingredients: serves 2

For the duck legs:
2 duck legs
1/2 cinnamon stick
2tbsp soya sauce
4tbsp olive oil
1/2 tsp mixed spice
4 cloves
1tbsp good quality chilli oil
Good pinch of coarse sea salt and pepper

To serve:
Goats cheese
Lambs lettuce/rocket
Brioche buns/wholemeal rolls
Extra chilli oil


Add all the ingredients for the duck marinade to a plastic sandwich bag. Shake well to mix and then add in the duck legs. Make sure the duck legs are thoroughly coated in the marinade and then seel the bag and leave the duck legs in the fridge for a minimum of 2 hours. (Overnight is best.)

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C (fan.)
Once the duck legs have been marinated, tip the whole contents of the plastic bag into a roasting tray and then roast the duck legs in the oven for about 2-2.5 hours. After 1.5 hours, turn the heat down slightly and cover the tray with tinfoil.

Once the duck legs are cooked they should be crispy and golden brown. Carefully pull the duck meat away from the bone using two forks.

Tip the juices from the roasting dish into a frying pan and put over a medium-high heat. Cut the buns in half and fry in the pan for 2-3 minutes until they are slightly toasted and have taken on all the meat juices. 

Then top one half of the buns with a good handful of lambs lettuce, the shredded duck meat, some crumbled goats cheese and a squeeze of honey. Sandwich with the other half of the bun and then dig in!!
You could also drizzle over a little extra chilli oil if you fancy. 

Inspired by: http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/duck-recipes/sweet-duck-legs-cooked-with-plums-and-star-anise/

1 December 2014

The Movement for happier meals: One Feeds Two

I absolutely love it when readers get in touch with me or have something new and exciting they would like to tell me about!
A few weeks ago, the Lovely Eva over at Line Up Media asked me if I’d be interested in getting to know a bit about a successful charity called One Feeds Two. Immediately I liked the sound of it and did a bit of research. I didn't take long for me to ping an email back to her saying I'd love to get involved!
One Feeds Two is a really great charity. 
It's introducing the movement for happier meals- a programme in which they aim "to use hunger to end hunger" using the meals we buy everyday as a way to provide school meals to children in poverty.
You buy a meal from food companies that carry the One Feeds Two logo, whether it be your takeaway sandwich, ready meal in the supermarket aisle or your lunch at the local cafe, and in doing so, you are funding a school meal for a child in some of the most deprived areas. 
Its such a simple request that could provide such big changes to the life of a child and if carried out on a daily basis, could make staggering changes. 
Plus it all started in Edinburgh as Elephant Juice Food Company, selling delicious soups out the back of a van which were a real treat in-between my lectures on a cold rainy day in Scotland! 
In 2013, JP sold Elephant Juice in order to set up the One Feeds Two Foundation. 
A few days ago, he agreed to answer some of my questions so that I could share his charity will you all.

It’s a great concept and one that I fully support, so I would love it if after reading this post, if it’s something that inspires you and motivates you as it does me, to pass it on to others around you, spread the word and help JP out by buying a meal associated with the scheme whenever you can!
Tweet about it, spread the word to your local food companies and help create this new ethical standard.

Get Involved!!!

When did you start Elephant Juice? 

January 2012

Why do you think people were so behind Elephant Juice- what is it that appealed to them?

If I am being honest it is a number of things. We served really good fresh soup and wanted to produce the best soup possible. We also focused on really getting to know our customers and going the extra mile to keep them happy -  we held a free soup day on our first birthday which was obviously really popular! Finally, we founded the business on a really simple and tangible promise: One Feeds Two. Every time we sold a soup we provided a school meal to a child in poverty.

What was your favourite Elephant Juice soup?

That is a really tough question as it always depends on your mood! One of our best sellers, and also my personal favourite, was Chicken Noodle but I did also had a soft spot for Piri Piri Chicken as it had a bit more kick to it. 

What was your initial influence for One Feeds Two?

I had seen what Toms had done with shoes and their one-for-one model and thought it made a lot of sense to do the same with food. From there I bought a van, taught myself to cook and went for it. Every time we sold a soup we provided a school meal to a child in poverty.  After 8 months of trading our food business we had given an incredible 15,000+ school meals. Desperate to see the impact of all our hard work, I went to visit the projects we were supporting, accompanied by some of the Elephant Juice Staff.  Seeing kids getting into education as a result of the meals provided was life changing but we were not even scratching the surface of the problem. I knew I had to scale the impact of this simple idea. So I sold Elephant Juice and set up The One Feeds Two Foundation to make it easy for all food businesses to adopt One Feeds Two.

Were you influenced by your personal experiences?

Yeah for sure.

I spent a lot of my younger years visiting projects that my Dad’s charity supported in some really deprived parts of Eastern Europe in the late nineties.  This was a massive influence. When you see hungry children and people living in severe poverty those experiences really change your perspective.  In particular, I remember one visit to Romania. I had just bought a burger at McDonald’s in Timisoara and thought nothing of chucking away my lettuce and gherkin (what I then called ‘the green bits’) in the bin – I was a real salad dodger! Seconds later a street child started shouting really aggressively at me and dived into the bin, desperate for my unwanted salad bits. It was a humiliating experience and a real wake up call.

Do you have a particular story from your travels that influenced you to put One Feeds Two into action?

When Travelling in Kenya with Elephant Juice we met an amazing child called Daniel. He e was incredible Hwas incredible.  Hard working and ambitious, he explained to us that he wanted to be an engineer.  Behind his fun personality and his ambition to better himself, he had suffered some real hardship and challenges in his lifetime. He had lost his parents and had lived on the streets for a number of years. He was not able to attend school as he had to work and scavenge for food. Daniel was 13 when a feeding program started at his local primary school and it was then that he was able to return and complete his exams.  He is now attending secondary school.

How does One Feeds Two work?

It is a really simple idea. A food company puts our logo on their product or menu item.  Every time they sell that item they provide a school meal to a child in poverty.

Where are the majority of the school meals provided?

We work with 3 of the largest school feeing programmes, who operate in over 63 of the world’s poorest countries across Africa, Asia, South America and the Caribbean.

Who guarantees the meals at the other end of the process?

Our feeding partners regularly visit these schools to monitor and ensure the success of each programme, as well as reviewing their attendance records to determine the number of children being fed. 

Do you think that the increase in food philanthropy is here to stay? Does it really work?

Yes, I truly believe that companies now have to use their businesses as a force for good and customers expect them to do so. Increasingly businesses are looking to become more sustainable and embed generosity into their models and we have created a really simple way for them to tackle a very relevant social problem- using their customer’s hunger to tackle child hunger.

Do you think we can ever make a real dent to the numbers of those starving in poverty? Will it ever become ‘the standard?’

I must admit poverty and hunger is a really complicated issue that comes about for lots of reason and it would be over simplistic to suggest that One Feeds Two is a complete solution.

What we have done is focus on impact and getting the world’s poorest kids an education as hunger is one of the major obstacles that prevents this.

There are over 376 million of us eating every day in the UK and the US alone and in the developing world there are 66 million going to school hungry and another 61 million missing out as a result of hunger or poverty.

 The numbers are compelling. Just imagine the impact if we could all get behind One Feeds Two and make giving a school meal part of our daily routine.

What are your aspirations for One Feeds Two- how big would you like it to become?

It is fundamentally all about providing as many school meals as we can. The idea is accessible to both large and small food brands and by all coming together we can make a huge difference to the lives of thousands, if not millions, of children in the developing world.

Do you think you will get the big brands/supermarkets on board?

We are certainly trying our hardest to get their attention. Since launching the brand on World Food Day we have some really exciting meetings and introductions.  We just hope that some of these result in the idea being adopted. That said, it is an idea that all food businesses can do no matter their size provided they have a till system that can account for what they sell – and even if they don’t, like Peckham Market, they can support #TweetAsYouEat. Simply, the market donates a school meal every time their customers tweet a picture of a food item they buy.

 This is all a big change from your previous career- what challenges have you encountered trying to set up something on this sort of scale?

Ha – very true. I think you really just have to throw yourself at it and not be afraid of making mistakes. Running a startup you have to become a ‘jack of all trades’ learning about lots of different aspects of an organisation from admin and VAT, business development, strategy fundraising, marketing and PR… the list could go on and on. Having a legal background has certainly been really helpful but the key is to find good people who can help you in the areas that you are weak or have less experience of. You can’t do everything, so having a team of people who grasp the vision and support you making it happen is key. You also have to accept that it is a rollercoaster will real ups and down – it is often exciting and really challenging/scary all at the same time – but it is never dull!

How can we get involved in One Feeds Two?  Who supports the cause at the moment?

At the moment we have COOK doing One Feeds Two on select Christmas products and Rola Wala who trade in London and Leeds Trinity Kitchen -doing it on all their Naan Rolls.

You can spread the word to your friends and family in the food industry or tweet your favourite food business and ask them to adopt One Feeds Two.

Finally it is not just food companies who can donate meals. We all can. We have a donation page where our meal calculator tells you how many meals your donation will provide. We are asking individuals, offices and businesses to host a One Feeds Two Christmas dinner this season and donate a meal for every meal served. Amazingly it just cost 20p per school meal - just visit www.onefeedstwo.org/donate and it takes just a minute to use our fancy new payment gateway.

What’s next for One Feeds Two?

We are in discussions with some really exciting brands and are focused on getting them on board to champion One Feeds Two and help us really scale the impact we deliver. Keep an eye on our website and Facebook page where we announce all new partners that join our movement for happier meals.

26 October 2014


So today didn’t quite go according to plan.
I had the best intentions- to have a leisurely morning strolling the shops and buying ingredients and then spending all afternoon baking, styling and shooting- with Sam Smith on full volume, a cup of earl grey and the beautiful Spanish October sun peeping through the window on a Sunday afternoon.  
What actually happened was a panicked manic run through the streets of Malsana, realising just how little baking equipment I had in my flat and questioning how I was ever going to make a cake without weighing scales!
(Who am I kidding- this cake looks as though its been made with a wooden spoon, a mixing bowl and not much else!)
Coco powder just doesn’t really seem to exist here in Spain and double cream is even more of a mystery!
But eventually I tracked them down and set about turning my little Spanish kitchen into an absolute bomb-site!
I was aiming to create a chocolate extravaganza, perfect to celebrate Halloween.
The original plan was to fill the cake with a chocolate orange buttercream and then to top with chocolate ganache and a white chocolate cobweb pattern.
However, today it was just not meant to be and so I ended up with a very messy (but still delicious) chocolate cake topped with a whole array of icing attempts!
Therefore if like me, you are a messy pup in the kitchen- this recipe is for you. The basis of the cake is a super moist chocolate orange sponge made with dark chocolate. And then the rest is up to you- I filled mine with fresh cream and topped it with layer of melted milk chocolate, white chocolate swirls and grated dairy milk! If you have small children around- leave them to it!
I know I'm a bit early for Halloween but in my opinion, it's a good reason for anything chocolate and sweet related. It's not really celebrated in Spain - it took me a good few hours just to find a pumpkin!
But if you're back home and looking for some inspiration for a dinner party or something to take to a friends this halloween then look no further. 

The truth is, living in a new country is hard. I'm not going to lie and pretend that I'm eating paella every night, dancing Flamenco every weekend and enjoying an afternoon siesta. 
Speaking a new language 24/7, making new friends and just adapting to a completely new culture is a real challenge- I'm exhausted. But I'm also learning to relax into a completely different style of living and frame of mind. Everybody here is just so chilled!! 
Baking is one of those things lets me stop for a minute and think. It's time for myself and something that reminds me of home and cosy Autumn nights. Plus Spanish people just really don't do cakes like us British!


125g dark chocolate (70% minimum cocoa solids)
200g butter
100ml water
Juice of 1 orange
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
50g cocoa powder
400g caster sugar
3 large eggs (or 4 small)
Zest of 1 orange

Double cream


Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C. 

Put the butter, chocolate, fresh orange juice and water in a medium-sized saucepan over a low heat and melt until smooth and combined. 
Remove from the heat and leave to cool. 
In a separate bowl, add the flour, baking powder, cocoa and caster sugar, 
In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the orange zest and then gradually whisk in the chocolate mixture. 
Fold in the dry ingredients and mix with a large wooden spoon until you have a smooth cake batter. 
Pour into two greased and lined 23cm circular cake tins and then bake in the centre of the oven for 25-35 minutes. 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5-10 minutes before tuning them out of their tins and onto a wire cooling rack. 

Fill the cake with your choice of fresh cream, chocolate buttercream or whipped orange flavoured frosting. 
Top with whatever you fancy! I made a simple milk chocolate ganache by melting 300ml cream over a medium heat until simmering. Pour the hot cream over 150g milk chocolate and stir until smooth. I then pop this into the freezer for half an hour or so to firm up before spreading over the top of the cake. 

Have a great Halloween!

9 October 2014

Roast chicken with lentils and brandy

I've moved to Madrid. 

Yep, I'm still not sure its really hit me- I'm not here just for a holiday. I'm actually here to live in Spain, talk Spanish and eat Spanish food for a whole year! Of course me being me, I packed so badly and ignored the idea that Spain ever gets cold but it definitely does and as its started to chuck it down with rain today, I'm starting to question whether sandals and dresses will be sufficient for the next few weeks! I think a trip to Zara might be in order (after all it's a Spanish company and therefore much cheaper out here- such a good excuse!)

One thing that's proved very hard to get used to out here is the timings. Last week someone asked me if I'd like to go for a drink. I thought great but had to think again when they suggested having supper at 10 and going for a drink at 12!! way past my bed time! The clubs here don't even open till 2 and most people stay out till 5 or 6 in the morning. I think it's definitely going to take me a while to adjust! 

This week, I've just about got the hang of my new flat and although I couldn't bring any of my cooking equipment or books with me, (I only had a precious 35kg worth of clothes allowance for a whole year!) I've already scouted out some shops where I can buy my cooking essentials and loads of funky restaurants and cafes that I can't wait to try. 

However, until I've established myself a bit better in my little spanish kitchen, here is a recipe I made before I left for Spain, when the leaves were just starting to turn back home. 

I originally intended to make this recipe with guinea fowl. I've never cooked guinea fowl before and as a gamey board with a much meatier and richer taste, I wanted to try it roasted with this combination of smokey bacon and earthy lentils. However, as I was just a bit too early for guinea fowl- another week or so and it would have been right in season,  I had to rethink my recipe to chicken. If you are able to get hold of some guinea fowl from your local butcher, then have a go at the recipe I've linked to at the bottom of this post. 
Whatever meat you serve this with, the lentil mixture is really wholesome, tasty and great even eaten just by itself or added to soups. 
It's the perfect autumnal supper and involves minimal washing-up!


1 large free range chicken
1 large pack bacon lardons/pancetta
4 medium garlic cloves
2 carrots
1 large onion
2 sticks of celery
2 big mushrooms
1 tin of cannellini beans (246g drained weight)
Large handful fresh tarragon
200g green lentils
50ml brandy
700ml chicken stock
Salt and pepper

Double cream (optional)
Extra brandy (optional)


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C (fan.)

Put a large heavy-bottomed casserole dish over a high heat and add a good glug of olive oil and a large knob of salted butter.

Season the chicken and put it breast side down into the pan. Brown the chicken on all sides and then remove it from the pan and onto a plate.

Turn the heat down to medium and add the bacon lardons to the same pan. Fry until they start to turn golden brown. Finely chop the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and add to the pan. Continue to fry the mixture for 5-7 minutes until the vegetables begin to tenderise. Roughly chop the mushrooms and add them to the pan.

Add in the brandy and stir the mixture for a few minutes- letting the alcohol evaporate. Then add in the drained beans, finely chopped tarragon and the lentils.

Season the mixture well with salt and pepper and then add in two thirds of the chicken stock. Stir the mixture well and let it simmer for 5-10 minutes. Add in the remaining stock and then place the whole chicken back in the pot on top of the lentil mix. Cover the dish with a lid and put into the oven.

Roast the chicken in the oven (covered) for 45 minutes. (You may need to add in a little more stock throughout if the lentil mixture looks a little dry or as if it might catch on the bottom of the pan.)

After 45 minutes, remove the lid from the dish and brush a little butter over the top of the chicken. Return the dish to the oven and roast for an extra 15-25 minutes until the chicken is golden brown on top and the juices run clear and then remove from the oven.

If you want to, you can also stir a little double cream and brandy through the lentil mixture at this stage before serving.

Serve the chicken on a large plate, seated on top of the lentil mixture. I served mine with purple sprouting broccoli.

Inspired by: http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2875670/potroast-guinea-fowl-with-lentils-sherry-and-bacon

19 September 2014

Spiced apple cake with rum caramel and pecans

The smell of spiced apples and caramel means that Autumn is definitely here.  
This time of year is a difficult one- I never know what to wear- it's a cross between gloriously sunny evenings and frosty chilly mornings with Ugg boots at the ready. Although I love the sun, I also love freezing cold mornings filled with hot chocolate, bracing walks with the dogs and an excuse to curl up by a fire for the day! This cake is a real comfort food recipe- roasted apples mixed with ground cinnamon and mixed spice - baked into a light and squidgy cake batter and then topped with a rich dark caramel flavoured with rum- absolutely delicious and so moreish!
You can use this recipe to make either loaf cakes or small muffin sized cakes. I made a combination of the two and topped them with dried apple rings. I keep seeing the recipe for dried apple everywhere and decided I eventually needed to try it! They make a healthy little afternoon snack or something to through on your breakfast and are super easy to make. 

Ingredients: (to make one loaf cake and 6 muffin-sized cakes)

200g light brown sugar
200g butter
4 medium sized eggs
200g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1tsp ground cinnamon
1tsp mixed spice
2tbsp milk
1tbsp honey
4-5 small apples (350g peeled and cored weight)
1tbsp brown sugar
3tbsp dark rum

200g caster sugar
200ml double cream
50g butter
1tbsp rum

2 apples
2 tsp ground cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C(fan). 
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the 200g each of butter and light brown sugar with an electric whisk until pale and fluffy. 

Gradually add the eggs, one at a time, whisking well between each addition. You may need to add a tablespoon or so of the flour to stop the mixture from curdling. 

Then measure out the rest of the flour, baking powder and spices. 

Add these dry ingredients to the mixing bowl and mix well. 

Add in the milk and honey and whisk again. 

Peel and core the apples. Cut into small chunks and put in a bowl with the tablespoon of brown sugar and the rum. Mix well and leave for 5-10 minutes. 

Then mix the apples and rum into the cake mixture with a metal spoon. 

Grease a rectangular loaf tin and a muffin tray with butter. Then spoon two thirds of the mixture into the loaf tin and the rest into the muffin tray. 

Bake the cakes in the preheated oven. The small cakes will take 18-20 minutes and the loaf, 35-40 minutes. (They should turn golden brown and when a skewer is inserted into the cake, it should come out clean.) Cool the cakes on a wire cooling rack.

Whilst the cakes are baking, prepare the apple crisps. Really thinly slice the apples and lay them out on a baking tray on baking paper dusted with a little ground cinnamon. 
When the cakes are baked, turn the oven down to 140 degrees C (fan) and bake the apples for 45min-1 hour, turning them over half way through. 

Whilst the apple slices are drying out, make the caramel. 
Put the caster sugar in a large wide pan. Put over a medium-high heat and let it sit until the sugar begins to melt (do not stir it!) Then when it begins to turn into a golden caramel, add in the butter and cream until you have a smooth caramel. Stir until mixed. (You may need to strain your caramel if you have some lumps of sugar left.) Take off the heat and stir in the rum. 

When the cakes are cool, spread over the caramel, top with the dried apple slices and some crushed pecans.