Tuesday, 24 June 2014


I love aubergine parmigiana, I remember it was one of my mum's favourite dishes to order in a restaurant and I am following on the tradition. I really enjoy it as a side or starter or main course. I did make it once before from a Lorraine recipe but it took absolutely forever and it wasn't worth it in the end so I was dubious about doing it again. I found another recipe in my favourite magazine Olive and it looked simple enough so I thought it was time to give the recipe another go…

Ingredients for 8 people:

6 garlic cloves, chopped
olive oil
4 x 400g tins of plum tomatoes
6 aubergines
150g Parmesan, grated
1 tbsp dried oregano (optional)
500g mozzarella, torn into pieces
2 handfuls of breadcrumbs
A few leaves of basil

Fry the garlic in a small amount of olive oil in a saucepan until golden. 

Add the tomatoes and chop in the pan using scissors.

Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally until glossy. I also added a tablespoon of oregano to add more flavour but this is optional. Now is also a good time to season with salt and pepper.

While the tomatoes are cooking, cut the aubergines into slices about 1cm thick. 

Sprinkle with a little salt and then shallow fry them in olive oil in a frying pan, turning once until they are golden on both sides. This is what is so time consuming about this recipe - I ended up using two frying pans at the same time. 

You use up a lot of oil doing this because if the aubergine dry fries it will burn. I was shocked by the amount of oil I used!! The aubergine will hoover up a terrifying quantity so rest the slices between sheets of kitchen roll to soak some of it out. Pascal also recommends pressing down on the aubergine with a fork to release some of their natural juices to cook in as well.

When the sauce is cooked, squash the lumps out with the back of a spoon - I did this kind of half heartedly and it didn't make a difference.

Preheat the oven to 180C / 160C fan / gas mark 4.

In an oven proof dish, put a layer of aubergines.

Then one of the tomato sauce.

Then a layer of Parmesan (I didn't have enough Parmesan so added some grated cheddar as well).

Repeat until all the ingredients are used up (probably three layers) but make sure you finish with sauce.

Scatter with torn up mozzarella and any remaining Parmesan.

Cook for 25 minutes. Blitz the breadcrumbs if you are using bread.

Then scatter with the breadcrumbs and turn up the oven to 200C / 180C fan / gas mark 6 and cook for 15 minutes or until it is golden and bubbling.

Finally serve with some basil leaves. We ate the dish with a Roast Leg of Lamb and it was absolutely delicious. (I failed on taking a final picture - the pressures of entertaining)!!

When I was cooking the aubergines, it took so long I was thinking to myself I will never cook this recipe again, however after eating it, I thought I cannot wait to cook this again and it tastes incredible. It was amazing!!

It is a great dish for a dinner party as I made it all the day before up until covering with the mozzarella so that and the breadcrumbs was all I had to do before I put it in the oven - completely hassle free. I am having the girls round for supper the weekend after next and this will definitely be on the menu…therefore I can concentrate on gossiping and drinking wine rather than the cooking!

Friday, 20 June 2014


I never really do puddings, I am much more of a cheese fan plus I always overdo it on starter and main course so there is no room left in the "gut"! However when you have a dinner party I feel it is a must as for some people it is their favourite part of the meal. Plus Pascal being French (and being Pascal) believes you should have cheese and then dessert…..no wonder we have weight issues!!

Last night we had a dinner party so I had to get my thinking cap on. I have no whisking gadgets as our kitchen is too small - I dream of buying a baby pink Kitchen Aid but it is not going to happen any time soon so I always need to do something simple and I found the perfect idea from a Waitrose recipe card - easy but yum, plus you can prepare it a few days before so it is completely hassle free.

Ingredients for 8 people:

400g strawberries
1 litre of vanilla ice cream
200g of all butter shortbread fingers, broken into small pieces
4 tbsp of Waitrose Seriously Buttery Caramel Dipping Sauce or something similar

Thinly slice 4 of the strawberries and roughly chop the remainder. I also took the ice cream out the freezer at this point so it was slightly softened.

Line a loaf tin with a layer of parchment/baking paper and then two layers of cling film, allowing for some overhang to cover the tin at the end.

Arrange the sliced strawberries at the base. Mix the ice cream with the strawberries and the broken shortbread pieces. I originally tried to break them with my fingers but it was an extremely messy process so instead just cut them with a knife.

Spoon half the mixture into the tin and pat down firmly so there are no air bubbles. Then spread the caramel over the ice cream and cover with the remaining ice cream, strawberry and shortbread mixture.

Fold over with the remaining cling film and place in the freezer for several hours or overnight until very firm. I actually left it for a couple of days.

To serve, gently lift out the ice cream and remove the cling film. 

Leave to soften for 10-15 minutes, then slice thickly with a large knife.

I actually think I lie to myself when I say I don't like puddings as this was seriously good. The flavours all compliment each other and it tastes so summery and fresh - perfect for this time of year. Plus it is not too heavy - a necessity at the end of a very calorific meal. I think it would be a huge hit with the kids too! 

Wednesday, 18 June 2014


I felt most important last night as I was invited to my first ever blogger event - supper in the gorgeous secret garden at Bumpkin in Chelsea, organised by Square Meal (my favourite website / my bible). I used to go to the Bumpkin in South Ken regularly for lunch as it was pretty kid friendly, uses superior British seasonal ingredients and most importantly I always enjoyed the burger and mac and cheese (no surprise there)! 

The Bumpkin in Chelsea opened around a year ago and has been on my restaurant list since, mainly because of it's super pretty garden, a great contrast to the cosy setting of the actual inside restaurant (although both inside and out are really romantic with their twinkling fairy lights). As you might know from my earlier blogpost on The Phene one of my guilty pleasures is Made in Chelsea and so when they recently filmed at Bumpkin, I wanted to go even more!!

Anyway I was really nervous about going for supper with a group of people I didn't know, which was a bit silly as we were all food bloggers, so obviously had lots in common, and we started off the evening with a deliciously refreshing glass of Pimms and some great restaurant chat.

The Pimms went down very well!

After a couple of glasses we sat down and looked at the menu - being the little piglet that I am, I had already asked Square Meal for a copy that morning which I had been drooling over all day. I was still undecided what to eat….I wanted it all to be honest. With the starters I was torn between the Pan Fried Scottish Queen Scallops with Chilled Pea Soup and Crispy Bacon or the Smoked Ham Hock Terrine, Crispy Crackling and Dill Pickles or even the sharing platter of BBQ Pork Ribs….it was a toughie!

For mains I obviously wanted the Angus Beef Burger with Triple Cooked Chips and Salad or the Slow Braised Short Beef Rib with Baked Cauliflower Cheese was also very tempting…decisions decisions.

In the end on the recommendation of our very helpful waitress I chose the Dressed Cornish Crab with Avruga Caviar on Toast followed by the 10oz Rose Veal Chop with Mushroom, Tarragon and Anchovy Sauce with Mac and Cheese on the side (natch)!

While we waited for our starters we tried a trio of juices - firstly was a Vitamin Booster with Grapefruit, Carrot and Ginger. This had a real kick to it and I could tell it was doing my body some good! The Body Hydrate of Watermelon, Cucumber and Mint tasted absolutely delicious and the last one Cool Cucumber with Cucumber, Apple and Lime Juice was incredibly refreshing.

Once in an hour of need after weeks of gorging I did a week of the juice diet - these tasted far better than anything I ever made!

It wasn't long before our starters arrived and I couldn't have been happier with my choice (I think lots of people had major food envy) - my crab looked incredible. It was HUGE which is not normally the case with crab (and reasonably priced which I have never experienced before). Lots of crab, egg, salad and mayonnaise all neatly presented in the shell with two round pieces of toast with caviar. I can easily say it was the best crab starter I have had in a very long time and I always choose crab in restaurants as it is not something I am brave enough to do at home. An excellent choice!!

I was also equally overjoyed when my main course turned up. A hearty veal chop cooked perfectly pink covered with various mushrooms (unfortunately I am not knowledgeable enough to tell what type of mushrooms there were other than delicious)!

It was all beautifully presented with a mini saucepan of the mushroom, tarragon and anchovy sauce on the side. I didn't hold back and dolloped it all on my veal and tucked in.

It was incredible - I had to stop myself from gnawing at the bone! I felt like I was going to explode but I could not stop myself eating the entire dish as the meat was so tender and soft and the sauce delectable. It is obvious that Bumpkin use only the best British suppliers. As I mentioned I also ordered the mac and cheese (I probably should have gone for a healthier option of vegetables…but you only live once) and I was exceptionally pleased with my choice (again) as it was five star….and I am a mac and cheese professional!! The perfect balance of cheese, cream and pasta.

I am not one for puddings and normally go for cheese, but even I couldn't fathom
a cheese board after all I had devoured. Myself and my fellow blogger the Gluten Free Foodie decided to share a pudding (for research purposes obviously) and we went for the Summer Berries, Cream, Lemon Curd and Meringue and an Espresso Martini…we needed to go out with a bang!

A perfect way to round off an exquisite meal - the meringue, lemon curd, cream and berries all complimented each other and tasted delicious….it has definitely made me rethink my attitude to puddings…watch out waist line! Unfortunately I didn't have the chance to enjoy my espresso martini as Pascal had got carried away in the city and not arrived home to relieve the babysitter….typical…so I had to abruptly leave the meal much to my disappointment. 

Despite my nerves beforehand I had a thoroughly good time. A beautiful setting - once the sun went down, the fairy lights came out and the garden felt magical and it was hard to believe you were in the centre of London. The food and wine were delicious, I had eaten enough to feed a small family. The service was attentive, polite and knowledgeable and the company was fantastic - it was great to meet some fellow food obsessives.

I now look forward to introducing Bumpkin Chelsea to my buddies….although I certainly won't be wearing tight jeans when I go, as with food like that I will definitely be overindulging again….it is impossible not to!!

119 Sydney Street,
Tel: 020 3730 9344
Email: bcreservations@bumpkinuk.com

Square Meal
Bumpkin on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


I am so pleased that it is now barbecue season - Pascal, Arabella and I love a barbecue as it can be a healthy supper such as steak and a green salad or that little bit naughty like cheeseburgers with a pasta salad! Last night wasn't too bad but then it wasn't too good either - we had a pork chop, grilled mushrooms with some goats cheese and then the blue cheese coleslaw. 

I love coleslaw - (my bff Amanda and I adore a cheese and coleslaw sandwich) - and so when I saw a recipe in my new Olive magazine for blue cheese coleslaw, I knew I had to make it. It is super easy and so delicious.

Ingredients for 4 people:

100g blue cheese such as Stilton or Dolcelatte, crumbled
200ml sour cream
2 tbsp mayonnaise
Half a white cabbage, shredded
A red onion, thinly sliced

Firstly shred the cabbage - I made a bit of an error here and did not shred enough! You don't want your cabbage to be too big like mine!

Slice the red onion.

Then put the cabbage, onion, sour cream, mayonnaise and blue cheese in a big bowl and mix together as much as possible.

Finely season and leave to set until you are ready to eat (we used this time to pop out for a drink)!

This was absolutely delicious - the blue cheese gives the coleslaw a real kick and smartens up a normal dish. Perfect if you are having friends round as you can prepare it all early. The only thing I might add next time is some carrot - it would add some colour to the dish and I always think carrots and cheese go well together…although to be honest I think cheese goes with everything!!

Thursday, 12 June 2014


It's Thursday again and I have done exactly the same as last week - decided to cook something new, from scratch, when I have very limited time….I never learn! Plus today I cannot stop sweating from the heat (I am dreaming of a swimming pool) and I am hungover after a super fun supper last night at Tom's Kitchen - I was so busy laughing I forgot to take photos but I will definitely go back soon as it was brilliant.

Anyway tonight's meal was Baked Tahini Salmon from Fay Ripley's new book - her recipe feeds 6-10 so I had to adapt it for just Arabella and I (Pascal is away working so has missed fish night once again much to his delight)!

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 x salmon fillets (around 240g)
1 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp tahini (sesame paste)
1 tsp lemon juice

To serve:
1 tbsp mint leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

Preheat the oven to 200 C fan / 220 C / gas mark 7 and layer a baking tray with foil and lay the salmon down skin side down.

Mix the tahini, yoghurt and lemon juice in a small bowl with some seasoning and spread it over the top of the fish. 

Cook for 15 minutes.

While the salmon cooks, chop the herbs and dry fry the pine nuts for 5 minutes but keep your eye on them as they can burn quickly!

To serve, scatter the mint, parsley and pine nuts over the salmon. I then served the fish with a roasted pepper with a few cubes of feta.

I have to say I was so pleasantly surprised by this dish - I have never cooked with tahini before but it went perfectly with the salmon, the herbs and the pine nuts - absolutely delicious. I was tempted to do this with quinoa but I had to use up the peppers and it all went perfectly with each other. Fay suggests cooking this with salads and breads which I am sure would be great too.

I will definitely do this again - it would be perfect to serve when I have girlfriends over as you can serve it hot or cold - plus is is light so you can then fill up with chocolate (which is what I am doing now - the diet of being healthy is only half working)!!