Friday, 31 July 2015


Another day when I am completely clueless over what to cook! Arabella suggested pasta carbonara again (even though she had had it the day before) but I vetoed that and bribed her with these pita pizzas by telling her she could have goats cheese on her one. I obviously did too!!

These are from Fay Ripley's second book although she uses plain naan breads rather than pitas - the choice is yours.

They took about 30 minutes.

Ingredients for 2 people:

2 pita or naan breads
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes (you will have leftover tomato sauce so you can use a smaller tin - I couldn't find one in the shop)!
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
A pinch of sugar
1 x 125g ball mozzarella cheese, sliced
4 small slices of goat's cheese
6 slices of salami
10 olives

Preheat the oven to 220 C / 220 C fan / gas mark 7.

To make the tomato sauce, mix the tomatoes, a crushed garlic clove, a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar in a saucepan and bring to the boil.

Turn the heat down and simmer for 10 minutes to reduce into a thick sauce.

If using a pita bread, lightly toast.

Place the the pita / naan breads on a large non stick baking tray. 

Spread a two or three tablespoons onto each piece of bread. You will end up with lots of tomato sauce leftover so I froze it for future pizzas!

Top the pizza with the mozzarella, goats cheese, salami and olives. You can however use whatever toppings you like ham, mushrooms, blue cheese, onions, artichokes….the list is endless!

Put in the oven for 15 minutes to crisp up.

I obviously overdid the cheese a little!

Serve and enjoy!

These were very good and so quick - they made a perfect supper as were really easy yet felt like a treat. I always keep pita breads in the freezer, there is obviously an abundance of cheese in the fridge and now I have some pre-made tomato sauce in the the freezer - a new regular meal for our dinner table!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015


One of our favourite meals is tacos and we have them regularly in our house. It does mean however that we rarely cook any other Mexican style dishes because as soon as I mention something similar but new, my husband and daughter ask for tacos and I cannot resist either! I did put my foot down last Sunday though and we cooked these chicken enchiladas from Olive magazine.

They took around an hour and I also made guacamole on the side.

Ingredients for 3-4 people:

1 tbsp of olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
Pickled jalapeños, finely chopped (we left these out as we are not keen on spice however I would suggest adding at least 6 to add a little kick - you can obviously add more)
400g tin of chopped tomatoes
6 corn tortillas
400g cheddar cheese, grated
2 cooked chicken breasts, shredded (or you could use the equivalent amount of leftover roast chicken)
A small bunch of coriander, chopped (ours came from the garden and wasn't too sprightly)!
400g tin of refried beans
200ml sour cream to serve
Guacamole to serve

Preheat the oven to 150 C and wrap the tortillas in foil. When the oven is ready, put in the tortillas for around 10 minutes (or as instructed on the packet). Once ready, set aside.

Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan and add the onion for 3 minutes. 

As it begins to soften add the garlic and around a third of the pickled jalapeños (if you are using). Cook for another 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onion and garlic are soft and translucent.

Add the tomatoes.

Then fill half the tomato tin with water, swish it around and add to the saucepan.

Season generously and then cook for another 15 minutes until thick and glossy (not sure mine looked very glossy)!! At the same time preheat the oven to 190 C / 170 C fan / gas mark 5.

Now it is time to assemble the enchiladas.

Spread 1 tablespoon on the tomato mixture over one side of the tortilla.

Split the chicken into 6 different portions and add one portion in a thick line down the middle of each tortilla.

Add a handful of cheese - I got Pascal to do this as his hands are bigger than mine!

Add a sprinkling of jalapeños and coriander (keep some coriander leftover to garnish with at the end).

Add a tablespoon of refried beans (these taste much better than they look). We had quite a bit leftover and so served these as a side.

Roll together tightly.

Then place into a ceramic baking dish, seam side down.

Repeat for all the tortillas.

Pour over the remaining tomato mix.

Sprinkle with the leftover cheese (you can always add extra if you have run out).

Cook for 25 minutes until the cheese melts and the enchiladas are piping hot.

Serve with some chopped coriander, sour cream and guacamole (and any leftover refried beans).

These worked out extremely well - it was the perfect lunch for such a miserable rainy day. We all enjoyed it, Pascal and I regretted leaving out the jalapeños to give the dish a little something extra however Arabella was relieved we had. We ended up having to season it again at the end. I will admit we still all prefer tacos but this is a close second. This would work well for a informal supper party as you could prepare the enchiladas before. 

Monday, 27 July 2015


I was at a real loss at what to cook tonight - Arabella poo-pooed all my suggestions and so I decided to wing it and just went to the supermarket in hope of finding a good recipe card. Thankfully I was in luck!! Arabella will never say no to pasta and this didn't seem to heavy which was a relief as I was still slightly stuffed from my afternoon treat of millionaire shortbread.

It took just around 15 minutes to prepare and cook.

Ingredients for 2 people:

150g dried pasta - the recipe suggests linguine however I used some leftover macaroni
1 tsp olive oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
200g cherry tomatoes, halved
2 x 80g can John West Infusions Tuna Lemon & Thyme
6 basil leaves, roughly torn
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese (plus extra to serve if required)

Optional extra - 1 tablespoon of capers or 6 green olives, halved

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet instructions - mine took 7 minutes.

While this is cooking, heat the oil in a small frying pan and cook the crushed garlic and halved tomatoes for 2-3 minutes until softened but still holding their shape.

Drain the pasta and return to the pan.

Add the tomatoes, garlic, tuna, basil and Parmesan to the pasta.

Season generously and toss together.

Serve with a little extra Parmesan if desired (we added quite a bit extra obviously)!

This was good - I liked the flavoured tuna however I felt the recipe was lacking a little something salty so I added a tablespoon of capers to mine and some green olives to Arabella's - this completed the recipe and took it to very good! It was very quick and easy to make and we used a lot of store cupboard ingredients which I always like. Actually the most complicated part of this recipe was opening the tuna lids!!

Saturday, 25 July 2015


It's been a while since I have had a good burger and so I made that my mission for this weekend - it's good to have ambition right?! I wanted to try somewhere new but neither my daughter Arabella nor my husband Pascal wanted to venture too far - lazy bones! In the end we agreed on High Road Brasserie - an all day restaurant from the Soho House group. The relaxed art deco styled brasserie serves breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper with daily specials.

I had been here before but not for a while. We booked a table for lunch at 1pm and the outside terrace and half the restaurant were already packed. I felt quite uncomfortable when we were seated as it all felt very untidy and chaotic - lots of mess left on empty tables and everyone crowded onto too small tables practically on top of each other. I had seen that the restaurant didn't have the greatest reviews online but I had never had a bad meal here before so I tried to keep an open mind.

We perused the Saturday brunch menu although I already knew I was going for a cheeseburger with mac and cheese, Pascal went for the same and we decided to share escargots with garlic butter and burrata with heritage tomatoes to start. There is plenty to choose from though such as eggs Benedict, full English breakfast, steak and chips, aubergine parmigiana, duck confit….

Arabella chose from the children's menu - mac and cheese. The waitress had suggested that she might be too old for the kid's menu (she is 7) which I thought was a bit bizarre!!

Anyway Arabella's arrived with our starters much to her delight - it didn't look very impressive but she assured me it was delicious! I personally think it could have come with some greens such as peas or cucumber sticks…..I'd say pizza express do a superior kids meal to this…Arabella disagreed!

Pascal and I split the starters and were very pleasantly surprised as they were both absolutely excellent. The burrata was creamy and the tomatoes so fresh and colourful.

The snails were served in a garlic and parsley butter and were also incredibly delicious - flavoursome but not rich and we all enjoyed dipping the bread in the sauce!

The cheeseburgers were served "au cheval" style which apparently means they come with an egg - I so didn't know this. They also had a triple patty - I wasn't expecting this either!

However the burgers were really really good - thin patties, lots of cheese, red onions, pickles and lettuce. Even though I had imagined a totally different type of burger - I very much enjoyed this and the fries were excellent - crispy and salty.

Like always we over ordered but I couldn't resist the mac and cheese. This was really cheesy with a crispy topping and truly irresistible.

We were all full to the brim and very satisfied. Despite my initial misgivings, we had a really good meal. The service was quick and efficient, the food very good and it was reasonably priced. 

On our way back to the car we passed The Outsider Tart, an authentic American bake shop with brownies, cupcakes and treats galore - another recommendation - we bought some goodies to take home and they were fabulous!!

162-170 Chiswick High Road
W4 1PR
Tel: 020 8742 7474

Square Meal
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Monday, 20 July 2015


My favourite ever cookbook is Fay's Family Food by Fay Ripley. Whilst I have always owned several cook books, namely Jamie Oliver's, I rarely cooked from them and instead just admired the pictures and fantasised about the dishes (yes I know I am a weirdo)! However Fay's first cookbook has so many delicious recipes which aren't actually that complicated and it really encouraged me to start cooking. Before I bought this cook book, I could barely boil an egg. Fast forward 4 years and I now cook from scratch most nights. 

Here is one of the first recipes I ever cooked from Fay's Family Food - it is simple to make and takes around 45 minutes.

Ingredients for 3-4 adults (depending on your appetite):

260g penne or fusilli pasta
100g sweetcorn (you can use frozen)
75g spinach (you can use frozen)
3 big leeks, washed and roughly chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
240g good quality canned tuna
200g grated mature cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
freshly ground black pepper
200g tub half fat creme fraiche
100g grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 200C fan / 220C / gas mark 7.

Slice the leeks and fry in a splash of olive oil for about 10 minutes.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water until al dente - ours took 7 minutes.

About 3 minutes before the pasta is ready add the spinach and sweetcorn (5 minutes if using frozen vegetables).

Drain the pasta, spinach and sweetcorn and then pour back into the saucepan.

Add the tuna and leeks.

Add 200g creme fraiche.

Add 200g grated cheese.

Sprinkle with half a teaspoon of nutmeg and season with black pepper.

Give it a good stir so it is all mixed together and then pour into an ovenproof dish.

Sprinkle the grated Parmesan over the top (I also added a little bit more grated cheese as well)!

Put into the oven for 20 minutes and then serve!

This was so easy to make and really delicious - so good I broke my golden rule and had seconds! It is a great one for kids as it contains lots of hidden vegetables and tuna is full of iron and potassium….to be honest it is good for adults too!! This could be made the morning before and then reheated in the oven for slightly longer (30 minutes) and it is freezable as long as you do not use frozen vegetables.

A perfectly simple family supper.