Banana Bread – Sunshine from the Caribbean


101 sleeps to go, and by some miracle I have not yet cracked out Love Actually.

Christmas for me is the best time of year.  Unlike birthdays which seem to involve an increasing element of self assessment (and the usual second guessing of whether people want a fuss or not), Christmas is no holds barred fun, excitement and celebration.

Getting married the week before Christmas was therefore an easy choice, but wanting to be home for the 25th led to a pre wedding holiday in place of a classic longer honeymoon.  In a lot of ways this was an inspired choice. The only issue with this master plan I hadn’t foreseen was afternoon tea, every day for two weeks after my final dress fitting.  If you have tasted this place’s banana bread this #firstworldproblem takes on a whole new weighting.  Slightly heavier than a normal, but not by much, and just the right balance of cinnamon to give it a kick.  The chef was kind enough to write down the recipe for me when we were going home – I tweaked it slightly (a little more banana, raising agent and the addition of a chocolate nut topping) but it really does’t need much messing with, and these little cubes of sunshine are delicious at any time of year (or indeed, time of day).  S

Recipe: (Makes 8 large bars, or 16 squares)


4 oz unsalted butter
4 oz sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
5 oz self raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
3/4 cup pureed banana


Preheat the oven to 170°C (160°C fan)

Step one: Cream the butter (4 oz) and sugar (4 oz) until light and fluffy

Step two: Add the cinnamon (1 tsp), vanilla (1 tsp), eggs (2), self raising flour (5 oz) and mix until combined


Step three: Fold in the 3/4 cup of pureed banana and add milk

Step four: Bake for 45 minutes (I used a 23cm square tin)

Step five: When cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate and sprinkle with nuts



Duck Salad with Sesame & Hoisin Dressing


Saturday saw the addition of this little madam…

Holly.  Between a round trip to North Somerset and an afternoon broadly based around her bathroom breaks, Saturday evening had takeaway written all over it.  With our regular Chinese place closed for a refurb we had the slightly high risk strategy of trying somewhere new nearby, but found an absolute gem – For or anyone in South West London, Taiwan Village in Fulham is definitely worth a try.  I can’t vouch for the restaurant experience as we had takeaway, but the food was amazing – a mix of Taiwanese, Hunan and Szechuan.  It turns out the head chef, Mr Huang, previously worked at Hunan in Pimlico (save it for a treat and when you are incredibly hungry, but it is an 18 course tasting menu that is out of this world…)  ANYWAY I digress.  We had some leftover crispy duck and sauce which we had as part of a salad the next day – Incredibly easy (mostly involving making the salad dressing) and the duck has so much flavour you really don’t need a lot to make lunch for two.  Pretty speedy leftover transformation.  S

Ingredients (serves 2, with leftover dressing):

A handful of leftover duck (or a slow cooked piece you do from scratch)
Sliced cucumber and spring onion plus 1/2 chopped spring onion for the dressing
40ml rapeseed oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1.5tbsp hoisin sauce
1.5 tsp sesame oil
1.5 tsp toasted sesame seeds (5 mins in a frying pan until lightly coloured)
1 large bag of salad


Step one: Whisk together the rapeseed oil (40ml), rice vinegar (1 tbsp), hoisin sauce (1.5tbsp), sesame oil (1.5tsp), spring onion (half a stick, finely chopped) and sesame seeds (1.5tsp, minus a pinch held back for sprinkling)



Step two: Toss the salad in enough dressing to lightly coat, place the shredded cucumber and spring onion on top

Step three: Take a spoonful of dressing and toss the duck to coat using your hands.  Place the duck on top of the salad and  scatter over the remaining sesame seeds.


Thai Beef Salad & Coconut Rice


This is a recipe I have made dozens of times now – I first came across it when some friends and  I had a monthly poker club (one of my best friends had just moved over from the US and had been part of a book club, we quickly decided light hearted gambling would suit us much better).    I have tweaked the recipe a little but not by much – If you have a food processor this is seriously quick, and since you eat it cold it is easy to make in advance.   Only thing to be careful of is not to over cook the beef – the lime marinade will cook it further after you take the beef out of the pan so don’t be put off when it looks very red (pics below), you should end up with melt in your mouth meat that is cooked almost through once it has been left to absorb the sauce.  If you don’t like cucumber (I’m always amazed by how many people don’t like something that is mostly water) then sub in some mango.  S

Recipe (serves 6): 

750g thick cut rump steak
4 small or 3 large chillies (1 is for garnish – I used all green but a mix looks nicer)
3 garlic cloves
Juice of 2 limes
3 tbsp soy sauce (light or dark is fine)
2 tbsp ground nut oil, plus extra for cooking the steak
1 tbsp dark brown soft sugar
2 inch piece of fresh ginger (or 1.5 tsp ginger paste)
20g coriander (15g and 5 for garnish)
15g mint (10g and 5 for garnish)
2 stalks lemongrass (or squeezes of lemon juice)
Half a cucumber, peeled and thinly sliced
300g jasmine rice
400g coconut milk
400g water
Pinch salt



Step one: Pulse the chilli (3 small or 2 large), garlic (3 cloves), lime juice (2), soy sauce (3 tbsp), groundnut oil (2tbsp), brown sugar (1 tbsp), ginger (2 inches), coriander (15g), mint (10g) and lemongrass (1 stalk) in a food processor until blended


Step two: Heat a small amount of groundnut oil and cook the steaks 2 minutes each side.  Set aside to rest for 15 minutes – You can see below they are still very pink, but in by the end photo much less so


Step three: Cut the steak into strips, place in a shallow dish and cover in the marinate.  Leave in the fridge for at least an hour, remove when ready to serve

Step four: Boil coconut milk (400ml) and water (400ml) with the lemongrass (1 stalk) and a pinch of salt.  When boiling, add 300g jasmine rice and simmer with the lid on for 20 minutes


Step five: Set the rice aside, leave to cool and fluff up with a fork

Step six: Place the cucumber slices around the edge of the plate pile on the rice and beef.  Top with 1 finely chopped chilli, and the remaining coriander and mint, I also added some cucumbercut lengthways with the peeler.









Chocolate, Coffee & Pistachio Arctic Roll

It’s amazing how your definition of rest changes over time – staring down the barrel of a 12 hour flight to Asia last week rather than dreading the let lag I found myself absurdly excited for no phone signal, two unread copies of Grazia, and free Baileys.  It also gave me time after a bit of a blogging break to think of some new recipes to try – and given the heat, the first of which had to involve ice cream.

Arctic roll primarily reminds me of school dinners, I hadn’t eaten it therefore in quite some time… but I was on holiday in Italy a couple of weeks ago and the local gelato shop had shelves of them in the freezer that looked absolutely amazing (and nothing like Mr Slater’s “frozen carpet” put down of the original…)  For the grown up version I went for a pistachio ice cream in the centre using a recipe by David Lebovitz, and wrapped it in a Mary Berry sponge, with the original recipe adjusted to incorporate the coffee and chocolate.

The recipe is actually very speedy – the sponge is a couple of steps and cooks in ten minutes, the ice cream is just a bit of whisking and the machine did the rest (if you don’t have one you can put the mix in the freezer and stir every so often).  It would be easily switched up to different combinations too – Thanks to the Japan leg on my trip, top of my list is chocolate sponge with green tea ice cream… S

Recipe (serves six):

Ice cream by David Lebovitz:
500ml whole milk
65g sugar
16g cornstarch
Squeeze of lemon
180g pistachio paste (original recipe calls for 200g, the jar I bought was 180g).  I found the pistachio paste in Partridges, but apparently they also sell it in Whole Foods.

Sponge adapted from Mary Berry:
4 eggs
110g caster sugar
20g cocoa powder
1tbsp coffee powder + 1 tbsp water

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Method – Ice Cream:

Step one: Mix the cornstarch (16g) with 60ml of the whole milk


Step two: Heat the remaining (440ml) whole milk with 65g sugar

Step three: Stir in the milk/cornflour mix to the milk/sugar combination, simmer for three minutes

Step four: Whisk in the pistachio paste



Step five: Cool in the fridge and churn in the ice cream maker for 45 mins.

Step six: Once set, transfer into anything cylindrical and leave in the freezer until ready to use (I put mine in a mug with baking parchment around the sides, but looking back I think you could just roll it into a sausage shape and wrap it like that)

Method – Sponge:

Step one: Whisk 4 eggs with 110g caster sugar


Step two: Sieve and fold in 110g self raising flour and 20g cocoa powder



Step three: Add the espresso and pour into a baking tray (mine was 13 x 9 inches).  Cook for 10 minutes



Step four: Once cooked, carefully curve in a cylindrical shape and leave to cool (I wrapped mine on the inside of a large mug)

Step five: remove the ice cream from the freezer and wrap the sponge around.  Return to the freezer until ready to serve.  Top with crushed pistachios.




Pastéis de Nata (Father’s Day Portuguese Custard Tarts)


Harry: There are two kinds of women: high maintenance and low maintenance.

Sally: Which one am I?

Harry: You’re the worst kind; you’re high maintenance but you think you’re low maintenance.

Father, I hope you are reading.

Just over a week ago I left my phone at home and returned to find two missed calls from my dad. Unable to get hold of me he had then called my husband to deliver the (clearly time critical…) message that he had tasted his first Portuguese custard tart and “did I want to make him some for Father’s Day”. I naïvely thought top trumping the tart he had in the coffee shop would be a case of comparing a few more authentic recipes on the internet and whipping up a filling for the puff pastry in my freezer. As it turned out, the original recipe was only initially known to a handful of nuns, has never been written down since, and has been described as the best kept secret in Portugal since the nineteenth century – hmm.

Despite my disappointment at this not being the easy win I had in mind, the story was actually fascinating. These tarts originate from a small village called Belém. Portugal would historically produce large quantities of eggs, whose whites were put to the good use by monasteries and convents of clarifying wines, and the slightly less exciting use of starching clothes. As a result, many egg yolks were leftover and a whole host of sweet pastry recipes were born, one of which is now rated fifteenth in the top 50 delicacies in the world. The recipe is closely guarded with a large number of people in the factory working on individual parts but only three people in the “secret room” privy to the full details. The recipe remains unchanged almost 300 years later and the original store where the nuns sold the pastries to raise funds for the monastery after the Liberal Revolution now sells up to 50,000 of these mysterious cups of custard a day.


When one of the previous generation of pastry chefs wanted to retire and pass on the recipe, rumour has it the requirements for his replacement included being tall and a non alcohol drinker – I have no chance. Having finally accepted I will not be making an authentic Pastéis de Bélem, my attentions went to the many variations out there for the general version; Pastéis de Nata. The options are plentiful, but most agree on the use of lemon zest, sugar, flour, egg yolks, milk and/or cream, cinnamon and vanilla in varying proportions and a slightly altered puff pastry. My first version tasted good but a little bit too healthy (yes really) to be the real deal – I think this is due to using all milk and no cream or not enough egg yolks. The second attempt was a lot better, although the pastry needs to be thinner still. I upped the egg yolk count and made half of the batch with milk, the other half with a mix of milk and cream. For each version I tried two different cooking temperatures (250°C and 220°C). At 250°C the browning was a lot better initially but the custard split, 220°C required a bit more patience but seemed kinder to the custard. For me the mix of milk and cream cooked for longer at 220°C was the winner, recipe below. Happy almost Fathers Day! S

Recipe (makes 15):

250g rough puff pastry (halve the quantities in the recipe here)
25g plain flour
260ml whole milk (split into 200ml + 60ml)
80ml double cream
225g golden caster sugar
6 large egg yolks
175ml water
1 cinnamon stick
1 thin strip of lemon peel
1/4 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 1/2 tsp vanilla extract)



Preheat the oven to 220°C

Step one: Make the puff pastry (recipe here). Once rested in the fridge, cut the pastry into 4 sections, and roll each one into a spiral and return to the fridge for another 10-20 minutes.


Step two: Cut each spiral into sections of about an inch wide.


Step three: Working with a small amount at a time on a lightly floured surface (you can leave the rest in the fridge until you are ready to use it), place one of the small sections spiral side up and roll into a circle of c. 1mm thickness 10cm diameter. Place the discs back into the fridge while you make the filling


Step four: Whisk the flour (25g) and milk (60ml) until smooth


Step five: Combine the water (175ml), sugar (225g), cinnamon and lemon peel in a saucepan and heat to the boil (100°C) without stirring to make a syrup, remove from the heat and leave to stand for 30 minutes




Step six: Warm the milk (200ml) and cream (80ml) in a separate saucepan

Step seven: Add the milk and cream mixture to the flour mixture from step four and whisk until smooth


Step eight: Remove the cinnamon stick and slowly add the syrup to the milk/cream/flour mixture, whisking as you go


Step nine: Add the 1/4 tsp vanilla paste and continue to stir until the heat starts to come out of the mixture

Step ten: Whisk in the six egg yolks one at a time to form a thick custard. Return to a low heat and stir constantly until the mixture thickens. Don’t be tempted to rush this part, it can take around 15 minutes. Some recipes call for straining but mine was already smooth from all the whisking so I covered it with cling film and set aside



Step eleven: Place the pastry discs into a baking tray (mine is 2.5 inch diameter) and fill 75% with the custard mix (the custard will inflate and then sink back again when cooked). Before I placed each rolled disc in the tray I pressed a 9cm diameter cutter over them to neaten them up.



Step twelve: Cook for around fifteen minutes – You want the edges to be browned but not burnt. These turn quickly so keep an eye on them

Step thirteen: Cook in a wire rack, dust with icing sugar and cinnamon to serve


Meels’ Birthday Cake – Present of Profiteroles

Last year I discovered Emma Gardner’s baking blog which quickly became a huge favourite of mine (see here and prepare to be inspired…)  Her honesty on what does and doesn’t work is incredibly refreshing against the backdrop of a recipe blogging world that can be a little bit on the smug side, and her recipes are beautiful.  I first came across it looking for ideas for my sister in law’s birthday cake – her birthday is on Christmas day so it was also going to be pudding for Christmas dinner.  My original plan was for a croquembouche, and Emma’s “present of profiteroles” took the tower of choux pastry to more of a fun and modern level and bought in a bit of birthday novelty.  My friend Amelia’s 30th was a great excuse to give it another whirl.  For the Christmas version I used orange infused chocolate as the sauce, for Amelia’s I used caramelised salted white chocolate (recipe here).  The method is definitely a bit more Blue Peter than Great British Bake Off at times, but actually quite fun and the end result is worth it.  Most of the time intensive parts (making the profiteroles and making the ribbon) can be done in advance and frozen if needed, it took me about an hour to crisp up the profiteroles on the day, fill them and assemble in the box (adding the bow took 5 mins before serving).  Method, recipe and construction guidelines below – I followed Emma’s method quite closely, but have added a few tips I used on the chocolate work to make it easier the second time around, and use a slightly different recipe for the choux pastry.  Pics below of both this one and the Christmas version (we only managed to get one slightly blurry snap last night before the focus turned to eating…)  S

Recipe (serves 20):

Profiteroles (100):

Recipe from Helene Dujardin at (adapted from Baking With Julia

600g flour (sieved and placed on a baking sheet)
330g butter (cut into cubes)
375ml water
375ml whole milk
5 tsp golden caster sugar
1.5 tsp salt
10 eggs & 5 egg whites

600ml cream, whipped
1 vanilla pod
440ml caramelised salted white chocolate (recipe here, requires 400g white chocolate, I used Green & Blacks)
200g milk chocolate (I used Callebaut)

Blue Peter accessories:

Cardboard box (mine was from Paperchase, size medium 18cm x 18cm)
Baking paper
Plastic sheets
4 paperclips
Elastic band
Empty shoebox
Blue tac
Piping bag & nozzles

Profiteroles Method:

Preheat the oven to 200°C (190°C if fan assisted), place a baking tray at the bottom of the over under where your profiteroles will cook

Step one: Place water (375ml), whole milk (375ml), butter (330g), salt (1.5tsp) and sugar (5 tsp) into a large plan and bring to a rolling boil

Step two: Using the baking sheet as a chute, pour the 600g of sieved flour into the mix above all in one go, stirring vigorously until it comes together (don’t worry if you see lumps, keep stirring and they will go)

Step three: Once combined, stir on a medium heat until the mixture is a smooth ball that comes away from the edges of the pan


Step four: Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a couple of minutes (you can speed this up by transferring into a separate bowl of whirring on low in a mixer with a paddle attachment)

Step five: Add the eggs one by one, beating after each addition until the egg is fully combined.  You can do this in a mixer with a paddle attachment or by hand).  Again the mixer will come apart at points – whip whip whip and it does come back together

Step six: Stop when the mixture is the consistency of a very thick mayonnaise, and holds a “v” shape from the mixer



Step seven: On a baking tray covered with baking parchment, pipe 1 inch rounds leaving a little room for the balls to expand.  Flatten the tops of the choux pastry mounds using your finger dipped in water (this stops the top from having a small point which tends to burn)



Step eight: Fill a mug of boiling water.  Open the oven and quickly pour the mug of water into the dish at the bottom of the oven, place the profiteroles on the tray above and quickly close the door.  The steam from the water tray will help the profiteroles to rise (I did batch one without the water tray and the others with it and there was definitely a difference).  Cook for 17 minutes until they start to go golden without opening the door



Step nine: Turn the temperature down to 160°C and cook for a further 15 minutes

Step ten: Open the door and turn the profiteroles over, pierce the underneath with a skewer.  Wedge the oven door open (I used a wooden juicer for this) and cook for a further 10 minutes, or until the insides are cooked fully. The profiterole shells can be used when cooled or frozen unfilled.  I stored mine overnight and they softened a bit, but 15 minutes at 160°C in the oven the next day crisped them back up easily.




Filling Method:

Step one: Using an electric whisk (or by hand if you are feeling sporty), whisk the cream (600ml) and vanilla (one pod) until just before the stiff peak stage


Step two: Either pipe into your profiteroles or cut in the middle about 3/4 of the way through and fill with a spoon (I started with the former and ended up on the latter as I was a bit pressed on time)


Ribbon Method:



Step one: Take your plastic sheet and fold over the box, bending to mark the edges.  Remove the sheet and fold along those edges to make the plastic into a “u” shape


Step two: Cut the “u” shape into strips around 2 inches wide (or however wide you prefer your ribbon).  Place over the box to check it fits.  These will be the chocolate ribbons going around the box.

Step three: Find an object (i used a shoe box) the same size as your “u” shapes that they can sit in to set.  Place the “u” strips inside the box and secure with blue tac


Step four: Cut two strips the same width as your “u” shape, and around 3 inches long.  These will be the ends of your bow

Step five: Cut one strip the same width as above and around 2 inches long.  Roll into a cylinder and secure with an elastic band.  This will be the centre of your bow.

Step six: Cut two strips the same width as above and around 6 inches long (depending on how big you want the bow).   Have two paperclips handy for securing the ends together for when you cover with chocolate


Step seven: Melt milk chocolate (200g) over a pan of boiling water



* For the next part, remember in the final result you want people to see the shiny part of the chocolate (i.e the piece that is up against the plastic), so this dictates which side you put the chocolate

Step eight: Starting with the ends of the bow (they are easiest) brush the chocolate onto the strips and place in the freezer.  I leant the ends of mine against the side of the freezer to give them a bit of curve.



Step nine: The bow… take the strips from step six and your paperclips.  Brush the strips with chocolate and then fold the plastic so the chocolate spread is on the inside of the loop you have made.  Secure with two paperclips per loop and place in the freezer





Step ten: The centre of the bow… Take your little cylinder of plastic from step five and spoon some milk chocolate inside.  I spread it around using my finger to get all of it covered.  You can alternatively brush onto the strip and roll it after, but that can be a bit trickier.  Place in the freezer
Step eleven: The box ribbon… Taking the shoe box with the “u” shapes sitting inside it, brush the u shapes with chocolate  and quickly put in the freezer.  Once it has set I just ran a knife along the edges of the plastic to unstick any overspill so the neat “u” can be quickly removed.



100 profiteroles (filled)
440ml melted caramelised white chocolate (reheated in the microwave or over boiling water)
Any spare melted milk chocolate can also be used here

Step one: Take your box and place one strip of baking paper cut to the inside width vertically and another horizontally.  These make the finished box a lot easier to remove


Step two: Dip each profiterole in the sauce and start to place in the box, using the sauce to stick the profiteroles together (note the bottom layer will be the top of your box once turned out).  If you like you can do different sauces for the inside and outside, I would stick to something lighter in colour than milk chocolate for the outside so you get a contrast with the bow.



Step three: Place in the fridge to set for at least 30 minutes

Step four: A few hours before serving, remove and place the box upside down on a plate to come to room temperature.  I keep the box on top to hold the shape, but you probably don’t need to.


Step five: Before serving, remove the box and peel away the baking paper.  Remove your chocolate work from the freezer and carefully peel away the plastic sheets and put into place.

iPhoto Library

Lamb with Mint & Elderflower – Saturday Spring Supper


Despite a distinct lack of Spring-like weather (or at least not the sort I had in mind) it was about time to get a bit more involved in some of the food of the season – which to me means roast lamb. I usually make a mint and redcurrant sauce to go with it, but wanted to have a bit of a play around bringing elderflower into the mix.  In the interest of full disclosure, this took a couple of runs.  The first time around I started with a tried and tested mint and redcurrant recipe (courtesy of Delia) but made an elderflower jelly to use in place of the redcurrant – the taste was good but the sauce didn’t thicken back up in the same way as the original, the colour wasn’t overly appealing – I also missed the redcurrant in there a lot more than I thought I might.  When I made it again I kept some of the redcurrant jelly but replaced half of it with elderflower cordial which was a much better balance, with all the good bits from the original and a kick of freshness from the elderflower.  Recipes and menu below… S


Bloody Mary tomatoes & celery salt here
Avocado & yoghurt dip here
Pea, mint and spring onion soup with parmesan crisps here
Shoulder of lamb with mint & elderflower
Apple tart fine with salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream here


Recipe: Shoulder of Lamb with Mint & Elderflower (serves 8)

3kg leg of lamb
4 garlic cloves (each cut into three)
10g rosemary
Olive oil

For the sauce:

8 tbsp elderflower cordial
9 tbsp red wine vinegar
6 tbsp redcurrant jelly
6 heaped tbsp chopped mint

Step 1: Heat red wine vinegar with redcurrant jelly until the redcurrant jelly melts.  Add the elderflower
Step 2: Add the mint and stir well.  Set aside and reheat gently when ready to serve.

For the lamb:

Preheat the oven to 180°C (fan)

Step 1: Bring the lamb out of the fridge around 2 hours before cooking so the whole joint is at room temperature.  Rub with olive oil, make incisions around 1 inch apart all over the lamb and fill with a slice of garlic or sprig of rosemary.  Sprinkle with salt and set aside

Step 2: Place the lamb in the oven for 15 minutes at 180°C, turn the oven down to 160°C and cook for a further 1h 30 (for pink lamb)

Step 3: Remove and rest for around 15 minutes before carving.  Serve with the elderflower and mint sauce.


Apple Tart with Salted Caramel Sauce


The sweet and salty obsession still alive and well, this time with my apple tart.  The tart recipe is pretty standard (and more assembly than anything else) but the salted caramel sauce takes it up a notch.  This sauce is a favourite of mine – all made in one step and easily prepared in advance and reheated (it also freezes super well, hence the larger quantity shown here).  This is the first time I have added salt – I used 4 pinches but taste as you go.  Also a winner on brownies or in apple crumble.  S

Recipe: Apple tart fine (serves 6)

Rough puff pastry (recipe here)
8 Braeburn apples (cored, peeled and very finely sliced – of the slices make sure you have at least 8 circular rings)
25g unsalted butter
20g caster sugar
Squeeze of lemon

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Step 1: Take your puff pastry (bought or made) and roll out to the thickness of a £2 coin.

Step 2: Cut individual tarts (mine were 10cm diameter) and place on a baking tray.  Prick all over with a fork to stop the pastry rising.


Step 3: Cover the pastry to the edge with your slices of apple
Step 4: Melt the butter and squeeze in the lemon.  Brush over the tarts and sprinkle with sugar.

Step 5: Bake for around 15 minutes, remove and leave to cool (can be reheated when required later on)


Serve with the warm salted caramel sauce and vanilla ice cream.

Recipe: Salted caramel sauce (serves 10)

150g golden syrup
120g light brown sugar
50g unsalted butter
125ml cream
1 tsp vanilla
Heat the above ingredients gently in a pan, stirring until combined.  Remove from the heat and stir in salt.





Pea, Mint & Spring Onion Soup with Parmesan Crisps


Recipe (makes 1.5l, serves 6)

900g frozen peas
1l chicken stock (heated)
10g mint
10g oregano (chopped)
1 clove garlic (quartered)
3 spring onions (chopped)
200g finely grated parmesan (for the crisps)

Step 1: Bring a large pan of water to the boil and add the mint.  When bubbling add your peas and boil with the lid on for around 8 minutes


Step 2: While the peas are boiling fry off the oregano, garlic and spring onion in a pan with olive oil


Step 3: Remove the peas from the heat, drain (reserving the water for later), and place in a bowl of ice – this will keep them green

Step 4: Place the peas, oregano/garlic/spring onions in a blender and slowly add 1l of hot stock and c. 250ml of the reserved water, depending on how thick you like your soup.  Blend until smooth

Step 5: I ran mine through a sieve, but it is fine served as above.  I added back in a couple of tablespoons of the thicker mixture remaining in the sieve to keep a little  bit of texture
Step 6: Cool and store in an airtight container.  When ready to serve, heat on the hob until piping hot.  Lovely with a drizzle of white truffle oil, or a scoop of Crème fraîche.


For the parmesan crisps:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 180°C, place 1.5 tsp of parmesan on a flat baking tray for each crisp (i use a round pastry cutter to keep them a similar size).


Step 2: Bake for around 7 minutes until almost see through and remove with a palette knife.


* You can make these into curved “pringle” shaped crisps by draping the circles over a rolling pin as soon as they come out of the oven, or into little nests for canapes by placing them over the end of a small bottle – You just need to move quickly or work in small batches if you plan to shape them as they harden very very quickly as soon as they are out of the oven.








Bloody Mary Tomatoes with Celery Salt


For all the bloody Mary lovers out there, a super easy canapé that isn’t too filling.   The recipe below is easily tinkered depending on how you like your BM (i’m all about the horseradish), you just need to leave yourself  time for them to absorb all of the flavours.  Really colourful too so a favourite of mine for Christmas parties (215 sleeps to go, but who’s counting).  S


200g cherry tomatoes (with a small x cut into the top of each one)
200ml vodka
1 tsp celery salt
6 drops tabasco
1/2 tsp horseradish
1/4 tsp mustard powder
2 tbsp worcestershire sauce


Mix all of the ingredients (apart from the tomatoes) above with a whisk or in a cocktail shaker and add your cherry tomatoes.  Place in a container for at least 6 hours (ideally overnight) and drain when ready to serve.  Serve with a pot of celery salt to dip.



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