Sunday, 21 June 2015


Taste of London is my idea of Heaven - a food festival in Regent's Park with 40 of London's best restaurants offering some of their most popular dishes. There are cookery demonstrations by some of London's top chefs and also an abundance of stalls from artisan producers and premium brands.

It is also Pascal's idea of hell - lots of people, eating standing up and queueing!!

However he very kindly offered to go with me this weekend and boy I had a feast. I started at Barbecoa with slow roasted pit beef with new york slaw, ketchup and beef dripping crumble. This was great - the meat was so tender and went perfectly with the slaw. I can imagine it would taste even better with the fantastic views the restaurant has of St Paul's cathedral.

We then had a kebab by Sabrina Ghayour for Action Against Hunger - it was an eastern spiced chicken and pomegranate shawarma with yogurt sauce, mint, tomatoes, pomegranate seeds and pomegranate molasses - this was good but a bit dry - not my favourite. It was a shame as Sabrina Ghayour is an absolutely phenomenal chef.

Next was asparagus, pea and goat's cheese croquettes with wild garlic pesto from Ember Yard. These were so good I forgot to take a photo!! I definitely need to go to this restaurant.

I obviously needed to have a burger and my top choice was meat liquor and it didn't disappoint. I had the deep hippie burger which was a mustard fried beef patty, dead hippie sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles and minced white onions. This was delicious - cooked pink with the right amount of cheese and sweet crisp pickles….very messy though!

After the burger, it was only right we had a hot dog from Bubbledogs - I had the BLT (bacon, lettuce and truffle mayonnaise) - I wasn't expecting anything amazing but I was very pleasantly surprised - it was really good. The sausage had a bit of a kick to it and I adored the truffle mayonnaise…even Pascal raved about it!

It was now time to move onto the sweet stuff. I started with a mini salted caramel cupcake and a mini mars bar crisp from the Primrose Bakery - 5 stars to both - I will definitely be trying to recreate these at home.

My favourite dish of the whole festival was the salted caramel soft whip with honeycomb from Tredwells. It was so good I have now added Tredwells to the top of my restaurant list. I could have eaten about 10 of these puddings!!

I finished off with the malted marshmallow peanut butter frozen custard with chocolate covered pretzels from Shake Shack. This was good but not a patch on the salted caramel soft serve!

I could have actually eaten more (oink oink) as there were so many good things to choose from however I didn't want to explode. Plus we had already spent a small fortune on entry tickets and all the food and Pascal was ready to sit down!

All in all a lovely day, I will definitely be making this a yearly occurrence!

Taste of London

Saturday, 20 June 2015


My best friend Amanda certainly knows the way to my heart, a few months ago she posted me a recipe for salted caramel brownies….I adore brownies and I LOVE salted caramel! I only just got round to making them though as every week I have been making Pascal's favourite millionaire shortbread however this week I fancied a change!

Ingredients for 16 brownies:

225g unsalted butter, plus a little extra for greasing
250g dark chocolate, chopped
225g golden caster sugar
4 large eggs
150g plain flour, sifted

Salted caramel:
40ml double cream
1/4 vanilla pod, split length ways, seeds scraped
15g salted butter
2 pinches of sea salt
60g caster sugar
40g golden syrup

Start by making the caramel. In a saucepan, combine the cream, half the butter, a good pinch of salt, the vanilla seeds and pod. I have never cooked with a vanilla pod before (I couldn't even find it in the supermarket), it was a bit fiddly to scrape the seeds out as they stuck to my nails, but I did my best!

Cook over a low heat so the butter melts and whisk until it is just bubbling (2-3 minutes), then take off the heat and set aside.

Place the caster sugar and golden syrup in a medium heavy based pan over a low heat.

Don't stir, just swirl gently to help dissolve the sugar. I thought this sounded weird but it actually works very easily. Turn up the heat and keep swirling until the sugar turns into golden caramel.

Stir the caramel into the cream mixture with a wooden spoon, discarding the vanilla pod.

Return the pan to a low heat while you stir in the remaining butter, then set aside once more.

Scrunch up a large piece of greaseproof paper, wet it and then line a 20x30cm (or thereabouts) baking tin with the damp paper.

Pour in the caramel and sprinkle with the rest of the salt. Then place in the fridge for 30 minutes.

You now have 15 minutes to relax (I used this time to wash up)!

Then start to make the brownies. Preheat the oven to 180C / gas mark 4. Grease and line a 20x30cm (or thereabouts) baking tin (I actually used the same one as before).

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat.

Stir in the chocolate until it is melted (I added some leftover Easter eggs).

Then remove from the heat and stir in the sugar.

Once cooled a little, whisk in the eggs.

Then add the flour (through a sieve) and fold in until incorporated.

Pour the mixture into the tin. Then dot teaspoons of the salted caramel into the brownie mixture, pressing to submerge. It doesn't have to be neat (as you can see)!

When you have a third of the caramel left, drizzle it over top, using a spoon to ripple it through. 

Bake the brownies in the oven for 25 minutes until cooked but still a bit gooey. Then leave to cool for at least an hour.

If you like the brownies a little less gooey (I do) put them in the fridge to cool for another couple of hours however it is up to you. When ready, cut into squares, tuck in and enjoy!

These were utterly delicious! I have to say they are actually slightly dangerous as I cannot stop eating them. The salted caramel is unbelievable….I could even add more. A fabulous recipe….make it….you won't regret it!

Friday, 19 June 2015


My husband Pascal loves a steak but he always likes it plain whereas I love a bit of sauce or something on the side. My ideal is steak with a blue cheese crust or sauce - I so need to make that some day. Anyway I had ripped this recipe out of delicious magazine last year and when I suggested it to Pascal he wasn't particularly impressed but I thought, tough bananas, I am going to cook it anyway!

Here is the recipe for 2 people - it took about 35-40 minutes.

Ingredients for 2 people:
2 sirloin steaks
2 pita or flat breads
2 large aubergines
1.5 tbsp tahini
2 garlic cloves crushed
Juice of half a lemon
Some green leaves

Start by making the baba ghanoush. You can do this the day before if you fancy - just keep it in the fridge until you are ready to eat.

Push a couple of metal or wooden skewers / sticks into the aubergines length ways. Put over the barbecue for 25-30 minutes turning occasionally until charred all over.

When cool enough to handle, peel the skin off with your fingers. We were impatient and hungry and so ran them under cold water to cool them down. After removing the skin (we used a knife when it was tricky), roughly chop or pull apart the aubergines into a bowl with the tahini and garlic cloves. Then squeeze in the lemon.

Mix all together and season well.

Barbecue your steak according to taste - about 2 minutes for Pascal and about 5 minutes for me! Then serve with a toasted pita bread, your baba ghanoush and some green leaves.

Like Pascal, I was a little dubious about this - I thought maybe this meal might be missing something….like cheese! However it was actually really good - the baba ghanoush was delicious and it all went together perfectly. The aubergines were a bit fiddly to peel and cut - just make sure you char grill them enough and leave them to cool so you can handle them easily. If you don't have tahini, you can substitute it for a slug of olive oil. 

We had some leftover baba ghanoush so I had it the next day with some tabbouleh and feta - it worked really well then too and I think it would be fab with some lamb. A recipe that keeps on giving ;-)

Monday, 15 June 2015


I first went to the Big Easy 20 years ago - gosh that makes me feel old writing that - the restaurant was totally kicking then and I was very surprised to see that it is still super popular now. Pascal, Arabella & I booked for 6.30pm on Friday night and we were lucky to get a table - the place was heaving.

The Big Easy actually opened in 1991 and it is inspired by the crab shacks and barbecue restaurants of the American Gulf Coast. There is often live music and it serves hearty American food with different special deals every night, for example on a Tuesday you can have limitless shrimp and a margarita or beer and on a Wednesday it is limitless fajita night.

Service was super friendly from the moment we arrived and we ordered drinks while we perused the huge menu.

I LOVE a starter platter - I knew we didn't need it but I could not resist ordering the grand appetiser for two which consisted of loaded potato skins, chicken tenders, stuffed jalapeño peppers, voodoo chicken wings, calamari, tortilla chips, prawn crackers and lots of dipping sauces.

We all adored this - Pascal loved the potato skins, I was crazy about the stuffed jalapeño peppers and Arabella devoured the chicken tenders. To be honest we could have just had this…but we are piglets so obviously ordered more.

Arabella chose from the kids menu - mac and cheese with a side of fries and an apple juice - she couldn't have been happier!! She also was a big fan of her bib….as was I!

Not the healthiest of meals - but certainly tasty!

I ordered the Big Easy Voodoo Shrimp but there was a mix up and the waiter bought me the deep fried jumbo shrimp - it wasn't a problem though as he bought me some voodoo sauce on the side which actually suited me better as it has a real kick to it and so at least I could control the amount I put on my prawns. They were delicious - really big and juicy.

On the side I had an iceberg wedge with blue cheese sauce and bacon. This was amazing but a little too big and too cheesy even for me - (I don't think I have ever said that before)! Next time Pascal and I will share this instead of ordering our own.

Pascal went for a barbecue smoked baby back ribs which came with coleslaw and barbecue baked beans.

These were all really good - I never order ribs as they are so messy and you cannot eat them in a very ladylike manner - but I was very happy to sample Pascal's! He also ordered an iceberg wedge like mine and a mac and cheese which he said was the best one he had ever had - he liked it because it wasn't too creamy and the macaroni itself was big.

Unfortunately we ordered so much it was impossible to finish - I could only fit in a couple of mouthfuls of the mac and cheese which was a real shame as I agreed with Pascal that it was extremely good. There was obviously no room for pudding so we are definitely going to have to make a trip back here again very soon.

I had thought the Big Easy might be past it's sell by date but I was obviously wrong and it is still going strong. It is no surprise then that they have a new restaurant in Covent Garden and are soon to open another in Canary Wharf.

The Big Easy is a great place to stuff your face with typical American fare, it has a fun atmosphere, a variety of cocktails and service with a smile. Our meal was expensive but we totally over ordered - we would have been satisfied with just half of what we had - however the menu was too good to resist!

The Big Easy

332-334 King's Road
Tel: 020 7352 4071

Square Meal
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