Archives for category: Recipes

It is always difficult to come back from an experience like bootcamp and figure out how to put that regime into your lifestyle. For me it was not about the food, rather the exercise regime and that is challenging when you juggle a full time job and life in London.

Given the amount that I can fit into my week, I have to be even more aware of healthy eating and this is something that we have been pondering at work too. It is always great to be surrounded by like minded people at work who are interested in the same things as you and we certainly are that…a group of interested food aficionados who can quite easily pass the time of day away debating which spice goes into a carrot salad or which grain is going to capture the trend forecasters next. Puffed buckwheat has taken up quite some time earlier on in the year and now we are fine tuning a roast carrot salad that I was keen to get going as it is a great season with the Chantenays here at the moment and it will be fabulous colour for our counter.


This weekend I was inspired, as I normally am, by ideas coming from Mrs C-A. She is such a great cook working with flavour but generally keeping it healthy and her pinterest board is a good one to follow. I was greeted with this pin this morning which inspired me to get into the kitchen and give it a go. The website was full of great ideas and this recipe was just one that I wanted to try.

Roasted root veg are perfect at this time of year but it can get a little dull just serving as is so how can you bring an added zing? This is always a challenge with healthy food: how to add flavour without bringing in lots of fat or salt. Well this recipe had a green sauce suggestion that they call a pesto but whatever the name, it certainly took the dish to new levels and gave a tangy dressing that will be very useful in the fridge.


As suggested, I kept the veg chunky picking celeriac, courgette, squash, red onion, sweet potato and beetroot. I kept the beets in one corner of the tin to avoid bleeding onto the other veg which worked a treat and doused it all in chilli salt rather than just salt. I didn’t bother with the cavolo nero this time simply because I had plenty already but will try that trick another day.IMG_5728

The ‘pesto’ was definitely more sauce vierge and for a fresh kick I mixed the parsley with added basil and used the roasting oil in the mix too once it had cooled. I also substituted wholewheat bulgar for the polenta which is personal preference although the nuttiness added another earthy flavour which I enjoyed.


So thank you Mrs C-A…this was a meal fit for kings and one which is now packed up in my lunchbox with a couple of pieces of feta for a midday feast tomorrow. See you there.

Sometimes a few different influences coincide to deliver something new to me and by putting them together I have an exciting discovery. This week it was of the alcohol variety


In the past few weeks I have been finishing the Christmas buying for our shops and invariably the December purchases revolve around alcohol as much as anything else. I was pointed towards Termini Negroni – a bottle that the guys had been served at a party. It was made by cocktail guru Tony Conigliaro and looks super lovely as well as apparently tasting pretty good too. In his blog (where I sourced the pic), Mr Conigliaro talks about the fact that they combine the ingredients and then cook them sous vide to really fuse all the flavours and ensure consistency. This is apparently called flash fusing – read more here.

I then looked up the recipe for a classic negroni which is one part each of gin, vermouth rosso and campari garnished with orange peel and served over ice. It is a little too full on for me, but it got me thinking about sofagirl from Campari and Sofa and I was just going to e mail her when another bottle came to light.

This time, it was a bottle of Vermouth from the clever team at The Ethicurean. I only recently discovered this team of food and drink enthusiasts who seem to be doing lovely things with food from the Barley Wood walled garden down near Bristol as well as supporting smaller artistic projects so they are most certainly on my list to visit right now. But in the meantime, I was able to meet a couple of them the other weekend when I popped along to the Do Market to meet the team behind The Do Book Co. The market was a combination of the fashionable Shoreditch set so a bit young and hip for me but all that changed when I discovered the Vermouth stand and I was hooked.


The Collector Vermouth is made from 20 botanicals picked at the Ethicurean’s walled garden and the surrounding Mendip Hill. It has taken three years of experimenting with herbal combinations and alcoholic processes to perfect their drink but they certainly have it right now. It has a purity of flavour that really does capture the essence of the herbs and is so wonderfully packaged and branded that I just had to get a bottle.

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We tried it in the office as soon as I got back to work and everyone loved it. The recommendation is to simply have it over ice with a bay leaf in it but I was convinced that there was something between the pure Vermouth and the Negroni inspiration so made a mix of my own. I knew that there needed to be a nod to the orange/citrus flavour, so simply mixed it with freshly squeezed clementine juice which is seasonally available from Pret these days and hey presto…a simple yet very effective cocktail to be proud of.

Now all I need is the expertise of Sofagirl, who is the best person I know to experiment with cocktails so when are you coming over to try some?


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When did you last wash the mud off a potato?

This question struck me today after a trip to the London Farmer’s Market in Marylebone where I went to buy the ingredients for a supper for my nephews and niece and was enticed by the man at The Potato Shop. It seems to me that we have all lost something by buying things from the supermarket and some of that is the connection with the source of our food. Too many children these days don’t even know where their food comes from or how it grows and that makes me sad. Especially when you meet someone like the man from the potato shop stall because he was just so knowledgable about his subject and so passionate about the product. I asked him what would go with my roast duck recipe and instead of just going with the Ratte I suggested, he talked through the benefits of each variety and I plumped for his recommendation of the Mayan Gold.

The Potato Shop stall at Marylebone Farmer's Market

The Potato Shop stall at Marylebone Farmer’s Market

I also managed to get one of my favourite products from the Marylebone Farmer’s Market: a whole Aylesbury duck from Richard Waller. I can’t remember when I heard about this farm and these ducks but I have been making the journey to the market especially for these birds for some years now. They taste fabulous and make a really easy meal when used as the central ingredient for the following recipe from the very clever Sam and Sam Clark Moro cookbook. Now I know I don’t often publish recipes here but since this meal went down so well, I couldn’t resist. My enthusiastic guests almost licked the plate and it was a lovely way to celebrate the night before my oldest nephew went off to university.

Right now quince is also super seasonal and worth buying if simply for their wonderful scent alone. Mind you, membrillo is commonly found in many delis so it can be made all year round. I used the duck fat to roast the potatoes in with an hour to go having been told very explicitly by Mr Potato Man that I must not pre-boil, rather roast for an hour from raw. Served with cavalo nero just vichy’d with garlic and finished with a dessert of home-made lemon polenta cake and creme fraiche, it was a fun meal for us all and hopefully a good last supper for E.L.G.

Pato Asado con Membrillo (Roast Duck with Membrillo)


1 duck, about 2.25 – 2.75 kg with its giblets


1 onion, 1 carrot, 2 bay leaves (preferably fresh), 2 cloves, a few black peppercorns

Membrillo Sauce:

200ml medium Oloroso Sherry, 200ml duck stock, 120g membrillo

Dry the skin of the duck thoroughly with kitchen paper, inside and out, and prick all over with a fork to help release the fat during cooking. Cut off the wing tips for the stock. If possible, leave in a cool, dry place for a few hours to dry further or uncovered in the fridge overnight.

Preheat the oven to 230ºC/450ºF

Rub the duck with a dessertspoon of fine sea salt and lay on a rack in a roasting tray, breast side down. Roast at a high temperature for 15 minutes, then turn over and roast for a further 15 minutes or until the skin is a light mahogany colour and beginning to crisp. Turn the oven down to 180ºC/350ºF and cook for a further 1.5 hours.

Meanwhile make a stock from the giblets and wing tips of the duck, the stock ingredients and enough water to cover by 2cm. Strain and skim off any fat and reduce the stock for half and hour to 200ml.

When the duck is cooked, remove to a board and leave to rest, loosely covered with foil. Pour off 95% of the duck fat from the roasting tray (n.b. which I kept for cooking other things later on) and pour any juice from the cavity of the duck into the tray. Put the roasting tray over a low to medium hear and add the sherry. Simmer for a few minutes to burn off the alcohol, (stirring in all the roast ducky bits on the corners of the pan) then add the duck stock and membrillo. Melt the membrillo and reduce for another few minutes. Season.

Quarter the duck and serve with the warm sauce.



I have worked in the food industry since 1985 and latterly knew the fashions which generally surround the seasonal local story for anyone who is even vaguely clued up on these things. But I don’t think it was until I went to work at Laverstoke Park Farm that I understood what that really meant and how it should be applied to the food we eat.

Since leaving there, my connection has remained with M who continues her quest to make ever improving dairy products from the buffalo milk there and each year is humbled by the gold awards that she receives from the cheese, yogurt and ice cream aficionados. Unlike me, M grew up with nature in her soul. I tell her she is Mother Nature herself in my eyes and she laughs at me. She literally eats and breathes biodynamic principles because she was brought up with parents who taught her to pick and eat the flowers and herbs that nature presents us. She is horrified by the combination of many recipes, like tomatoes and kale salad to name but one as they are simply never in season together so what are we talking about. And now she connects with the buffalo on the farm in such a spiritual way that her cheese emanates the quality of the milk like no other I have ever tasted…hence all the awards.

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This weekend I managed to get out of the smog and down to the pure air of Hampshire to re-charge. On Saturday we went up to the stables to feed her horses and then strolled through the adjacent woodland picking elderflowers as they are absolutely in season right now. I never ever in a million years did this sort of thing in my childhood so I was like a child once more embracing nature’s presents. We filled two bags with the pretty flowers and made our way back to the farm kitchen.

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The flowers we immersed into pure water and married with lots of lemons (Juice and rinds) to be left over night to share their magic with each other.

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On Sunday we had a leisurely morning and then addressed the flower water. M has the most wonderful folder of recipes that have been handed down to her from two generations with handwritten and illustrated recipes all in her native Dutch tongue. In these days of the internet, it feels we have lost this art. Every page was more inspiring than the last and whilst I don’t speak Dutch, I could glean the precious nature of the folder. You could never get that sense of something special from a computer file. We opened up to the elderflower and elderberry recipes and calculated the sugar, which is a whopping 1kg to 1 litre of liquid in Grandma’s recipe and started mixing the potions. It is a cordial after all.

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After bringing to the boil and leaving it there for 5 minutes, we decanted into our many and varied bottles, added slices of lemon and more whole elderflowers and hey presto. The Summer cordials were made. M told me that you can do lots with them such as storing in ice cube bags and then adding to water that way, or making lemon juice ice cubes and adding those in, with some little flowers too. I always like to mix my juices so will be serving with lemon but also ginger and mint to mix it up a bit but either way am dead chuffed that we did this. It was such a fun day.

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We rewarded ourselves with a long walk in the farm saying hello to the buffalo, cows, pig, sheep, wild boar and the odd deer before coming back to a simple lunch of M’s mozzarella, seasonal tomatoes and basil. The tricolore salad was as colourful as the peonies plucked from her garden and I just embraced the whole day. Sadly the motorway beckoned, but at least I had three bottles of elderflower liquid gold to bring back to London with me.

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