Sweet potato and black pudding salad

September 30th, 2011


Do you like black pudding? I love the stuff. If it’s on a restaurant menu, I’m pretty much guaranteed to order it (Black pudding Scotch egg? Yes please!) My favourite is Clonakilty, but I think that’s mostly because it reminds me of good times in Ireland.

A friend of mine recently brought some of the good stuff back for me from Ireland and I set about thinking of ways to use it up. One of my ideas was salad – so I set about googling ideas and most of them were laughable. Seriously: black pudding, croutons and a few salad leaves does not a salad make, it’s basically a sandwich arranged slightly differently on the plate!

So I came up with my own. First up roasted slices of sweet potatoes because they’re delicious, healthy and filling. Plus the sweetness is really good with the intense meatiness of the black pudding. While the black pudding and sweet potatoes were roasting, I made a simple vinaigrette and let the sliced onions sit in it to take off raw edge. Add a few rocket leaves and you’re done. I love the colours of this salad – so pretty!

You could definitely add a poached egg on top (we did) or add in some beans to make it more filling. Obviously, this would be dee-licious with pumpkin or butternut squash (the season’s just about to start). If you’re really squeamish about the black pudding, you could use sausages instead, but the black pudding is really worth a try.


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Blueberry streusel cake

September 17th, 2011


This is a very grown-up cake, but in the best possible way. It’s sweetened with maple syrup and flavoured with just a little rosemary and thyme which makes it lovely and fragrant. I made this cake on Wednesday, then another on Thursday – it’s that good. The streusel topping? It’s basically a nutty crumble sprinkled on top of the cake – you can’t go wrong really.

I’ve got tonnes of blueberries stashed in my freezer, so I’m been using them up with this recipe, but you could definitely use blackberries instead, preferably foraged from a hedgerow.
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Slow cooker recipes

September 5th, 2011

Do you have a slow cooker? It seems that most people who own one, love it. Yet we got one a few years ago as a Christmas present and have only used it a handful of times…

I dusted mine off recently to develop some recipes for BBC Food and have been, at least partially, converted. Slow cookers are perfect for cooking cheap cuts of meat – and while you can get the same effect by cooking in a low oven, I love being able to chuck everything and leave it for 8 hours. I’m not a particularly patient cook and invariably end up checking dishes constantly when they’re supposed to slow cooking. But as the temperatures are so low, there’s a huge margin of error with slow cookers; so if you leave it for 8 or 10 hours, you’ll be ok.

And I know everyone says this, but it really is so nice to come home to a curry or stew after work. Granted, you probably need to do a little cooking before you leave in the morning, but it’s so worth it. Especially as I would be too scared to leave something in the oven all day.

Below are the recipes I developed, which are admittedly pretty meat heavy. I’m keen to try cooking beans as well. Deb from Smitten Kitchen says ‘I make all of my dried beans in the slow-cooker these days. They are perfect every time, and the flavour of fresh beans – even the sad-looking ones from grocery store bins I used – is incomparable. No pre-soaking, just cover them 2 to 3 inches of water and cook them 3 hours on high. (I have learned that cooking time can vary widely in slow-cookers so allot more time than you might need. I often make mine in the day or days before and let them cool in their cooking water, which is then by then very flavourful.)’ and I’d also like to try cooking a daal too.

What do you cook in your slow cooker?

Chipotle pulled pork

Cook the pork shoulder in the slow cooker all day until it’s literally falling apart, then add a really simple chipotle sauce and eat it with guacamole and salsa.
Chicken and butternut squash stew

I think this might be my favourite recipe, it’s downright delicious. I love chicken thighs, and the butternut squash makes it healthier (and cheaper).
Beef curry

A ridiculously easy curry recipe, but still really tasty. I’ve made this half the beef and used butternut squash instead and I’m keen to try a version with lamb and chickpeas. It also freezes really well, so I would make a vat and stow half in the freezer.
Braised lamb shanks

I’ve not eaten many lamb shanks (the mid-90s surge in popularity passed me by), but these were so good, the meat literally falls off the bone. One lamb shank, especially with mashed potato is one hearty meal – be warned!
Beef brisket with cannellini bean mash

This is a really simple way to eat brisket, but the bean mash (which is really rich and creamy) makes it into something a bit special.

All photos by Toby Scott

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Pea, bacon and basil tart

August 27th, 2011


A Saturday with nothing planned is pretty special. Today I got to stay in bed, brunch on Dan Lepard’s delicious potato cakes, the boy made me a proper coffee (on our pride and joy) and I read the Saturday papers. This tart was my task for the day. Jammed with fresh peas, basil and a little bacon – it makes a lovely summer lunch; especially with a tomato salad.

A lazy Saturday is perfect for pastry-making. First, make the pastry, then sit down for a bit while it rests. Roll the pastry, sit down and let it (and you) rest some more. Then bake blind, fill with tasty fillings and bake until puffed and golden-brown. Finally, eat, feeling extremely proud of yourself. Scared of making pastry? Don’t be. It’s ok if it shrinks a bit or you get holes, just patch ‘em up! It’s still going to taste so much better than the shop bought stuff. (Need more inspiration? I love this recent post from Joy the Baker.)

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Summer recipes

August 23rd, 2011

A few of my friends read this blog (hello!) and whenever I see them, I get a telling off for not posting often enough, or recently, posting too many cake recipes. So, sorry everyone, I’m back and I’ve got a few recipes up my sleeve to share with you.

But first, I wanted to share a collection of my favourite summer recipes. It may not always be sunny outside, but vegetables don’t get any better than they are right now and these are my favourite ways to make the most of them.

Sweetcorn pancakes
These are a Breakfast club classic; make them and you’ll see why. They’re particularly good with bacon, avocado and soured cream.

A Sicilian vegetable stew, a bit like ratatouille but with a sourness from capers, olives and vinegar. It’s best eaten at room temperature with slices of toasted bread.

Roasted Tomato and Spinach bulghar salad (top picture)
Roasted cherry tomatoes, slow-cooked red onions and lots of fresh herbs. Make loads and eat leftovers for lunch.

Courgette, chickpea and spinach soup
This is a surprisingly light summer soup; lemon juice and loads of herbs make it zingy and fresh.

courgette soup

Spaghetti with tomato and almond pesto
I’m planning on making lots of this with the tomatoes taking over our garden.

Courgette strata
It may sound a bit strange, but this is all kinds of delicious. Eat it for brunch with sausages or for lunch with salad. This is also one of those delightful dishes, that benefits from being made in advance and I have to say, I prefer it when it’s lukewarm.

Elderflower and cucumber gin fizz
Required summer sipping.


Recipes to try
And here are a few recipes on my ‘to try’ list

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White chocolate and hazelnut cake

July 29th, 2011

White chocolate and hazelnut rose cake

My parents love anything very sweet, in fact my dad’s consumption of biscuits and sweets is legendary (I once saw him pouring mint imperials into his mouth from a huge packet). So it goes without saying that they really like white chocolate, neither’s birthday passes these days without me making a batch of these brownies. I went home recently and in return for my mum’s famous curry and rice and peas, I brought with me a white chocolate and hazelnut cake for dessert. Judging by how quickly it disappeared, I knew I was onto a winner – the hazelnut works perfectly with the white chocolate, so that it’s not too sweet or cloying.

It also gave me a chance to try an icing technique that I’ve been thinking of for a while. Given it was a first try, I’m pretty pleased – how pretty do the rose swirls look? You can find out how to do them here (the key is having the right nozzle), and incidentally, they look lovely on cupcakes too.

White chocolate and hazelnut rose cake
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Courgette breakfast strata

July 8th, 2011

courgette strata

We’ve got a couple of courgette plants growing in pots and thanks to the crazy weather (rain, sun, rain, sun) they’re doing pretty well*. So much so, that I seem to be cutting off a new courgette every day. It’s still the honeymoon period, so we’re enjoying courgette pasta and a little carbonara, but they’re quickly piling up and I can see us running out of ideas.

courgette plant

Enter this courgette strata: a strata is basically cubes of bread, vegetables and cheese baked in an eggy custard, sort of like a savoury bread and butter pudding. It’s really easy to make, great for feeding a crowd (I think it’s going on the Breakfast Club menu) and even if you’re not drowning in courgettes, a lovely summery dish. Have it for brunch with beans or a couple of sausages or for lunch with a green salad. You can also adapt it however you like, I’d add crispy chunks of bacon, spring onions or maybe a little feta.
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Elderflower and cucumber gin fizz

June 27th, 2011


Have you made your elderflower cordial yet? If so, this is the perfect cocktail to use it in – probably the most refreshing thing you could drink on a summer day (even if the weather doesn’t cooperate) and it’s still delicious with shop bought cordial.

I love cucumber in drinks, try blending a peeled cucumber, sieving the juice and adding it to a gin and tonic. Or add a splash of elderflower cordial and a few slices of cucumber to a glass of fizz. Even better, make this cocktail.

cucumber slices
mint leaves
1 part elderflower cordial
1 part gin
2 parts sparkling water
handful ice

Mix all of the ingredients together in a glass and add more elderflower or gin, to taste. You want a bit of a kick from the gin!

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Happy Birthday

June 23rd, 2011

Unbelievably, I’ve been doing the Breakfast Club for a year now and things have changed a lot since that first brunch last year. Starting off, it was always a bit tricky to fill all the spaces and most of my friends have been persuaded to fill a few seats at least once. Now, thanks to some lovely reviews and a little mention in the Metro, I’ve got a fairly healthy waiting list.

To celebrate, I had a private and very exclusive Breakfast Club for all the people who’ve helped me out, spread the word to their friends and even paid for me to cook for them when they normally get it for free. A special thank you goes to Kat, Nicky, Rose and Jen for being being endlessly enthusiastic, helping me plan menus and doing mountains of washing up.

I served a menu of some Breakfast Club favourites – Strawberries with elderflower and pistachio yoghurt, sweetcorn fritters and a huge birthday cake. Add in a few glasses of fizz and you’ve got yourself a party. I’d spent the day before catering for a party and I think everyone thought I was a bit mad doing this the next day, but I love it! I still love feeding people (and the positive feedback), making sure the table looks nice  and the opportunity to try out new recipes. Once all the washing up’s done (finally), I’m nearly always planning the next event. Speaking of which…


Supper Club at The Bread Room
The Bread Room recently opened in Brixton Village selling delicious artisanal bread and excellent coffee. We’ve teamed up with them to host a supper club on Thursday 21st July. It’s 3 courses, plus coffee and a few little extras for £25. Email me to book a place.

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Spread the love wedding favours

June 8th, 2011


If you’d like some of these labels, just drop me a line. Equally, if you’d like me to make (and label) your wedding favours, get in touch!

Not content with making the wedding cake, I also helped my friend make her wedding favours. I kind of had to as it was my crazy idea in the first place. I spotted some wedding favours with a ‘spread the love’ label and that was it.

We decided to make Seville orange marmalade and because we didn’t get our act together and make enough in time, lime marmalade. While it felt like a lot of work at the time, we actually made them all in two sessions and then another couple of hours to label them. The fabulous thing is that you can make them in advance i.e. in the early stages of wedding preparation when you’re full of energy. We were both so pleased with how cute they looked that everyone could have left theirs behind and we wouldn’t have cared (thankfully everybody loved them).

We got our jam jars here.


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