Wednesday, 26 February 2014


I feel like I haven't cooked in ages - I have been trying to shift a couple of pounds this week as I got carried away with the Quality Street (and the rest) in France….thankfully there wasn't too much damage - skiing definitely does burn calories!!

Wednesday is almost always fish night in our house but I was at a total loss at what to do as I wanted something low in calories for me but also something healthy that Arabella would enjoy. One of Arabella and my favourites is smoked salmon and scrambled eggs but that isn't really "cooking" so instead I decided to do this salmon & herbed soufflé omelette recipe instead. Protein & omega 3 - very healthy. I was originally put off by the "soufflé" in the title as I was imagining something super complicated…but it really wasn't!

Ingredients for 2 people:

4 large eggs, separated
1 x 135g pack honey roast salmon flakes
1 tbsp finely chopped dill
2 tbsp finely chopped chives
85g light soft cheese (I used lightest Philadelphia)
1 tbsp olive oil
Crisp green salad, to serve (optional)

The first mistake I made when cooking this recipe was tasting the honey roast salmon flakes - they are absolutely delicious and I found it very difficult to stop eating the entire packet. I will definitely be buying these again as a protein snack or to have with a salad.

Anyway to the cooking! The first thing that needs to be done is to preheat the grill to a medium-high.

Then separate the egg yolks and whites into two separate bowls - I obviously managed to break one!

Chop the chives and dill, (I used scissors as always). You could add more dill if you like, however as I was cooking this for Arabella & she was already eye-ing up the herbs with her nose turned up, I stuck to just one tablespoon.

Lightly beat the eggs until they are foamy and then mix in the salmon flakes and herbs.

Then add the soft cheese in small spoonfuls and stir to combine (the cheese will remain in lumps).

It actually mixed much better than I thought. 

Whisk the egg whites to soft peaks - I have no idea what this actually means! I just beat the whites and then gently folded it into the egg yolk mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

Heat the oil in a non stick frying pan over a high heat. I made my second mistake here…I thought the recipe said a 16" saucepan but actually it said 16cm - so my pan was far too big! Pour in the egg mixture, reduce the heat to low and cook for 4-5 minutes or until just set at the base.

Finally grill (about 6cm from the seat source) for about 4-5 minutes or until golden and just set.

Serve immediately.

It was a quick, delicious and very healthy meal - full of goodness. This dish is packed with protein, which the body uses for growth and repair. It is also a good source of vitamin A - an antioxidant that helps prevent the body's cells from damage. Finally the eggs provide a quarter of your daily zinc requirement which helps to support the immune system.

I made a couple of errors - next time I would definitely use a smaller frying pan, my omelette was so thin I overcooked it, plus there was a lack of salmon as I pigged some beforehand (!). Arabella adored it though, she ate everything….as did I. It was a successful meal - under 400 calories for half the omelette. A green salad or tomatoes would be a perfect accompaniment although we certainly didn't need it.

Monday, 24 February 2014


I have been a bit slack at writing this recently as I am obsessed with my new book and can't stop reading it. I downloaded it for book club months ago but never read it (or went back to book club) but as I ran out of books in France, I thought I would give it a go. It is Kane and Abel by Jeffrey Archer - not my normal reading material, I'm more of a Jilly Cooper / Penny Vincenzi / E L James kind of girl, but this shows that it is good to try something new!

When we were in France over half term Arabella and I tried a new restaurant in Meribel centre - the restaurant wasn't new, we just hadn't been there before. According to certain people, it is Meribel's most popular eatery - it is good for both food and drinks and has a very buzzy atmosphere. There is a pizzeria and brasserie downstairs and then a smarter restaurant upstairs open in the evening. 

Arabella and I went for lunch one snowy day, unfortunately there wasn't a children's menu which came as a surprise as it is very well liked by families. Despite that the menu was vast and full of good suggestions. Unfortunately I can only find a sample menu online - here - but there was actually a lot more choice than that - pizzas, pastas, salads, savoyarde cuisine, steaks etc.

As always I was torn on what to have but as I was in France I went for Le Grand Croque-Monsieur which was excellent.

Lots of melted cheese and ham served on crusty bread with a delicious side salad. I demolished the lot and would definitely have it again. I wish more places in Meribel / France did smart versions of comfort food - the only places I seem to find a croque monsieur is in shitty take away sandwich shop. This one was incredible.

Arabella wanted pasta (they had several different types) but that was my plan for the evening meal so she had pizza instead - a margarita with ham - it practically took up the whole table when it arrived - it was HUGE!

It was also very good - thin, crispy and plenty of topping. I will admit it wasn't as superior as La Flambee but it was still an excellent pizza and I was very happy "to help" Arabella with it.

Another successful meal, I would recommend it, - not only was the food delicious but the service was friendly and attentive. The service was much more french than the other restaurants and some of my french obviously didn't translate….I asked for a pen for Arabella….the waiter came back with chilli sauce?!!! I obviously need some lessons….

Le Refuge
Meribel Town Centre
Tel: 04 79 08 61 97

Friday, 21 February 2014


I have never skied as much as I did this morning - 2 and a half hours non stop on my own (Pascal was working & Arabella was at ski school so I was Billy no mates). By the time I finished I was sweating & my thighs were burning, & I was extremely relieved I was still in one piece - I was hoping I had burnt many a calorie so I could indulge in a substantial meal! All this skiing had made me starving - thankfully Arabella finished just before lunch.

The weather was closing in so we decided to have lunch at La Flambee, a cosy restaurant in the centre of Meribel. I have been here before but it was many years ago & so couldn't remember it however Pascal had promised me it was good. A couple of days ago Arabella & I went to Le Grange so we could sit outside in the sun....I thought it looked smart, Pascal said it was rubbish....he was tartiflette was freezing and then after I sent it back it was returned burnt to a crisp!!

Anyway we arrived at Pascal's recommendation & sat down at a table for 2 and I ordered in my best French an apple juice for Arabella, a Ricard for me & some olives. Thankfully all appeared while we were looking at the menu.

The menu was great - pizzas, pastas, salads, steaks, fish and Savoyard specialities like fondue plus a kid's menu. There are both lunchtime choices like spag bol and smarter evening ones such as scallops with lentils and foie gras. Arabella had the choice of pizza, pasta or steak hache....she went for pizza. I was torn as I wanted pizza, truffle ravioli and burrata but ended up choosing a goat's cheese salad.

The waiter noticed that Arabella was drawing on her napkin and immediately came over with a children's sheet of paper covered with activities and some colouring pens which put a huge smile on her face.

The food arrived pretty promptly.

Arabella's pizza was one of the best I have had - I was gutted that it was children's size so she could eat most of it…..less for moi!! Although obviously I managed a couple of slices!

My goat's cheese salad was beautifully served with bresaola, lettuce, endive, pine nuts, tomatoes and of course goat's cheese on toast. It was delicious - I wish they did more salads like this is England. Arabella was also a fan and kept nibbling at my cheese - only fair though as I was doing the same with her pizza!!

I decided to order a half bottle of wine and chose their house red….when in Rome and all that!

Arabella's meal included an ice cream, I tried to order a strawberry one but they only had one choice and it was better than Arabella could have ever imagined - coca cola flavoured ice cream with haribo in it - what kids' dreams are made of!!! She was super impressed (as was I)!!

A fantastic meal - fab food and brilliant friendly quick service. I didn't have a pudding but judging by the other tables' choices they were obviously spectacular - very well presented and they looked delicious.

The centre of Meribel isn't inundated with good restaurants, most of them are crap and the good ones are all on the slopes. I was too nervous to take Arabella up the mountain for lunch and then ski down together so wasn't happy with the lack of choice in the town centre as you all know how important a meal is to me. However now we have been to La Flambee once, I have a feeling we will be back time and time again!!

La Flambee

Tel: 04 79 00 31 70

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Last Sunday Pascal & I planned our perfect day - relax in bed, a scotch egg, sausage roll & wine in the pub and then a slow cooked meal at home, followed by reading the papers and a movie (we watched Prisoners with Hugh Jackman - very good but an annoying ending). Anyway I therefore needed to find a slow cooking recipe that we hadn't cooked before and wasn't a "roast" as I have a phobia against those. 

Pascal always wants me to cook the roast rack of pork with thyme and shallots again so I wanted to find something similar but different if you understand what I mean. Thankfully Lorraine Kelly (my not so secret obsession) came to the rescue when she had this Chinese Spiced Pork recipe on her show. Pascal loves peking duck pancakes and I was sure that this would be even better and I was not wrong!

Ingredients for 3-4 people:

2kg pork shoulder on the bone (I actually bought off the bone as it is easier to cut)
2 huge tbsp of sea salt
1 tsp of ground white pepper
2 tbsp oil
200ml light soy sauce (I used dark as that is what we have in the house)
4 tbsp soft brown sugar
3 star anise
2 cinnamon stick
10 thin slices of ginger
5 garlic cloves, lightly bruised with the flat of a knife
2 spring onions, chopped

To Serve:

Chinese pancakes (I actually just used tortillas as they were easier to buy and worked just as well)
Hoisin sauce
Spring onions, shredded
Cucumber, cut into batons

Preheat the oven to 220 C. Score the pork rind every 1cm with a very sharp blade, taking care not to cut through to the meat. 

Place the pork into a deep roasting tray and rub half the salt, the pepper and the oil into the rind. Sprinkle with the remaining salt. Roast for 20 minutes or until the skin is cracked. I made the mistake of using a ceramic dish - huge error as I burnt the sh*t out of it! Definitely use a roasting tin.

Remove from the oven and add the soy sauce, 200ml water, sugar, star anise, cinnamon stick, ginger, garlic and spring onion to the tray.

Reduce the temperature to 180 C and cook for a further one hour forty minutes or until the pork is very tender. About 8 minutes before the pork is finished, cook the tortillas if you are using them, as they take about 6 minutes in the oven wrapped in a foil parcel (see packet for instructions).

Slice and serve with the pancakes, hoisin, cucumber and spring onion.

The recipe doesn't mention what you do with the sauce you cook the pork in - it is delicious and so you don't want to throw it away. I used it as an extra dipping sauce for the pancake rolls or just dipped the pork and crackling in it on it's own and it was delicious.

This was another hugely successful meal - using the tortillas kind of made it into a cross between a fajita, a peking duck roll and a roast. We both really enjoyed it and had plenty left over the next day which we ate in a salad. It is a fun alternative way to eat roast pork and I would definitely recommend it. Just make sure you have some napkins on hand as we found it got pretty messy although I am never shy with a sauce!!

Monday, 17 February 2014


I was rushing around the other morning trying to find an easy recipe to cook for Arabella, Pascal & that I hadn't blogged about, wasn't unhealthy or fattening and was easy - not a simple feat when I only have five minutes to spare!!

Consequently the recipe was a great success however it is now a week later and I still haven't blogged about it…..sometimes I do not know where time goes. It is now half term and we are in France for the week, I am actually super happy to be here away from the constant rain and grey - I have never known such bad weather in England and feel terrible for all the flood victims. I read somewhere that all this rain means a hot summer but I have a feeling that is wishful thinking!!

Anyway this recipe is a Fay Ripley one that I have made a few alterations to and is good for both winter and summer (if we ever get there)!

Ingredients for 4 people:

500g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into bite size pieces
olive oil
200g green beans
500g lamb fillets
Fresh pesto (I bought a pot and it was about 150g)
A handful of baby plum or cherry tomatoes, chopped in half
A bag of baby spinach and rocket
4 finely chopped spring onions
75g pine kernels, toasted (roasted or dry fried but beware they go brown quickly)

Preheat the oven to 220 C / 200 C fan / gas mark 7. Put the the peeled and chopped sweet potato in a roasting tin or ceramic dish and drizzle with olive oil. Then put it in the oven for 30 minutes to roast.

Boil some water for the green beans as I find this always takes longer than I think.

Meanwhile fry or griddle your lamb fillets to taste, turning regularly. Fay says this takes about 15 minutes however it took me only 10.

While the lamb and sweet potatoes are cooking, cut up the spring onions and tomatoes.

Cook the green beans in the boiling water for just 3 minutes so they are crunchy, then drain and cool under running cold water.

Once the lamb is cooked, take it out the pan and wrap it in foil. You need to let it rest for a further 10 minutes.

I used this time to fry the pine kernels in the pan I had used for the lamb (I know it did have some oil in it but I couldn't be bothered to wash it up in between or use another one)!

Hopefully the lamb will be ready around the same time as the sweet potato give or take a few minutes (that is the beauty of this recipe, it doesn't matter if your timing is out). Slice the lamb into pieces.

Then mix all the ingredients together (including the salad) in a big bowl with the pot of pesto until all is covered.

Finally serve and enjoy - easy peasy!

We all loved it. I rarely cook with sweet potato, despite it being a superfood and loaded in vitamin A & C, potassium and calcium, so this is a great way to incorporate it into your diet. All the ingredients together compliment each other and taste delicious. If you are a vegetarian I am sure halloumi would work brilliantly instead of the lamb, I might even try it next time. I adore the pesto as a dressing as did Arabella, and although pesto pasta is her favourite (along with Pascal's carbonara), this comes a close second!

This is a great family supper but also would work well as a lunch or light supper with friends, as it is not difficult or time consuming….I would recommend giving it a go as I am sure everyone will like it!

Sunday, 16 February 2014


One of my favourite places to go for a girls' night out is Brinkley's on the Hollywood Road in Chelsea. Whenever I go I have so much fun that now my darling Pascal has banned me from going there without him as it always turns into a crazy crazy evening and last Friday night was no exception!!

Brinkley's is one of 6 restaurants owned by Mr Brinkley - there are a few tables outside, then it has a fantastic buzzy bar at the front and the restaurant is at the back, half of which is under a glass conservatory. I always ask for a table in the middle bit as then you can see everything that is going on (it is great for people watching). The menu is "modern contemporary international" and it includes dishes such as sashimi, oysters, deep fried brie and smoked salmon salad for starter. Mains range from spinach and ricotta ravioli, pork belly to a red thai curry and the puddings like chocolate brownie or hot toffee cake with vanilla ice cream are also excellent. It will be no surprise to you that I always have the same thing!

I have been a regular here for several years and before that I used to visit their sibling restaurant next door The Wine Galleries which is slightly cheaper - Pascal and I do still go there in the summer as it has a gorgeous walled garden. The main attraction of these restaurants is the very reasonably priced wine. They have a impressive selection and they are sold at retail prices rather than restaurant prices hence why I have "overdone it" here at times!!

Anyway this time I went with my gorgeous friends Fran and Laura. We firstly had a couple of G&Ts next door at The Hollywood - we then moved to Brinkley's and despite being only 8pm, the place was heaving. I didn't even have to look at the menu to know what I wanted - tuna and avocado tartare with capers, lemon, shallots and crostini. It is my favourite - I feel it needs a touch of salt but it is still absolutely delicious - really fresh and full of flavour. Laura had the same.

Fran had the burrata, prosciutto, grilled courgettes, red peppers, basil, chilli and lemon zest which she also said was incredible especially the creamy burrata - it certainly looked good.

For mains we all had the same - the Brinkley's burger with blue cheese, crispy onions, rocket and fries. This is actually one of my favourite burgers ever - I like the fact it is only on half the bun, there is plenty of blue cheese (you can have cheddar if you prefer) and then I adore the crispy onions. It is simple in that it has no extra sauces or salad in it and it works perfectly. The chips are also another favourite of mine - thin and salty! I would recommend it.

I obviously polished the plate off. 

It is impossible to leave Brinkley's without having a drink or two at the bar. The music is pumping, everybody is happy and in a good mood and so it is a great place to spend an evening. It is incredibly busy but that is part of the atmosphere - I have to say it makes me feel young again without having to go anywhere dreadful like a foam party (can you imagine the germs?!).

I don't know anyone who doesn't like Brinkley's - Hugh Grant is a regular and my favourite royals William and Kate used to pop in regularly when they were dating. However I don't think Kate got as carried away as my friends and I do as we certainly weren't looking as immaculate as she always does when we left!!!


47 Hollywood Road
SW10 9HX
Tel: 020 7351 1683

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Wednesday, 12 February 2014


When I booked Brasserie Zedel (another by Corbin & King), I maybe should have paid more attention to the website as I was completely shocked when I arrived - the restaurant is so not what I was expecting. I thought Brasserie Zedel would be very similar to its sister restaurants such as Colbert, The Wolseley and my own personal favourite The Delaunay (Review here) however it had a completely different atmosphere and was absolutely HUGE!

You walk in through The ZL Cafe and then you go downstairs and there is The Bar American (a classic art deco American bar), Le Crazy Coqs (a cabaret and performance venue) and then there is the Brasserie Zedel - the biggest restaurant I have ever seen! I felt like I was in a dining room on a cruise ship.

We were late for our reservation as our taxi had been delayed so we were told we would only have the table for an hour and a half - I hate it when restaurants do this especially as I had phoned to let them know and the restaurant was so enormous - surely they can't have that many reservations coming in at nearly 10pm.

Anyway we were shown to our seats and we ordered some drinks - a Ricard for Pascal and a g&t for me. They arrived very promptly with the most gorgeous warm fresh bread and salty butter. The menu was jam packed and despite having studied it before I came I was still undecided (menu) - there were so many different starters I wanted. I couldn't decide between the Quiche Lorraine, Pate de Campagne Maison, Crabe Mayonnaise, Tartare de Saumon - it all sounded too good.

I ended up for for snails in parsley butter.

These were OK, chunky snails with lots of butter however they were not the best. I was disappointed, I did add some salt which helped but I was expecting more.

My second shock of the evening was that Pascal ordered a fish based starter and fish for main. Never in 5 years has he done this!!

He ordered Soupe de Poisson et sa Rouille which he did enjoy although I found it full of pepper.

For mains I had the Steak Hache, Sauce au Poirve et Frites. This was nice, cooked medium rare and a delicious sauce. The chips were my favourite kind, thin, crispy and salty and were perfect to dip in the sauce - I was even kind enough to share a couple with Pascal!

We shared the Epinards a la Creme which was very good, you could really taste the hint of nutmeg. I could have easily just had one to myself.

Pascal ordered Dourade au Four en Croute de Sel with Lyonniase Potatoes. The potatoes were cooked inside the fish and as before he really enjoyed it - I was too busy with mine to have a bite plus still in shock that he had ordered fish.

We were tempted to order the cheese plate to share as it had a great selection, plus the bread was so soft and warm but we were both too full and tired. We ended up just paying the bill and heading home - all done and dusted in just over an hour.

We were both satisfied and enjoyed the meal however it was not amazing. Service was good, the food was nice but it wasn't memorable and did not live up to it's "sisters" standards. If I was in the area and I didn't have anywhere booked I would happily go there again but I wouldn't make the effort to reserve a table etc….there are many other better restaurants in the area such as Polpo or Bob Bob Ricard.

I think it is better for lunch or pre / post theatre - one thing that does have to be mentioned though are the prices, it is extremely extremely reasonable which is very rare in the West End!

Brasserie Zedel

20 Sherwood Street
Tel: 0207 734 4888

Square Meal
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