Monday, 30 May 2016


I hope everyone is enjoying the bank holiday weekend, not sure what happened to the sun today?! After a few days of barbecues and ice cream, the Chelsea Flower Show and a music festival in the Cotswolds….it is now back to warming pasta dishes and TV in bed! I am not complaining though, it is around 7 weeks until the baby is due and I need to make the most of having some quiet time.

My husband Pascal and I decided to cook this pasta dish as it didn't need too many ingredients and only took around 15 minutes, I found it on Jamie Oliver's website but I made a few alterations.

Ingredients for 2 big portions (we were hungry):

250g spaghetti
Sea salt
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and sliced
4 anchovy fillets, sliced
12 cherry tomatoes, halved
Extra virgin olive oil
2 x 120g tin of quality tuna in olive oil
1 tablespoon baby capers, rinsed
10 green olives, halved
Juice of half a lemon
100g wild rocket

To serve (optional):

I always prepare my ingredients first so started off by chopping the garlic, olives, anchovies and tomato.

Cook the pasta in salted boiling water according to the packet's instructions - mine took 8 minutes.

Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat and cook the garlic, anchovies and capers for a couple of minutes. Then add the tomatoes and toss well.

When the pasta is ready, drain but reserve a cupful of cooking water. Add the pasta to the tomatoes etc and mix well, adding a splash of water if necessary - we needed to.

Flake in the tuna, squeeze the lemon, add the olives and most of the rocket and drizzle with olive oil and toss again.

Season generously and serve with any remaining rocket and a scattering of Parmesan if desired.

This was really really good - we were surprised how much we enjoyed this, such a simple recipe but bursting with flavours. I am very pleased I have left over ingredients as I will definitely be making this again soon and I love that this is easy to make for just one person as well. It tasted so fresh…..a real winner!

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Wednesday, 18 May 2016


As I mentioned in my previous post, my husband and I cooked for our friends last weekend. We started off with little snacks like truffle salami, olives, crisps, crudités and my favourite roquamole dip. Then for starter we made these mushrooms on a bed of rocket and we scattered them with black truffles although this isn't actually part of the recipe. For mains we had truffle pasta and then cheese followed by Fay's simple sachertorte. It was a HUGE meal but yum!

These mushrooms are super simple but delicious - they take about ten minutes to prepare and 30 to cook - they are also from Fay Ripley's second cook book like the sachertorte.

Ingredients for 4 people:

4 large portobello mushrooms
40g butter
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
finely grated zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
1 tsp Dijon mustard
4 heaped tsp ground almonds

Preheat the oven to 180 C (fan). 200 C, gas mark 6.

Pop the mushrooms in an ovenproof dish, cut the butter into little knobs and scatter on top.

In a bowl, mix together the thyme leaves, oil, lemon zest, garlic and Dijon mustard. Then spoon on top of the mushrooms and sprinkle over the almonds. This was a bit fiddly for me and mine weren't as "neat" as I hoped but I don't think it matters!

Roast in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the topping is golden. Season generously and serve.

I served mine on a rocket salad however they would go very very well with garlic bread or they would even work as a side with a steak. I am a huge fan of stuffed mushrooms but normally they are covered in cheese so this is a lighter way of doing them. I had to use dried thyme as what I thought was thyme in the garden, was actually mint! I do think fresh thyme works a lot better however they were still great.  A great quick and easy dish to do for a dinner party.

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Tuesday, 17 May 2016


As a thank you to our lovely friends for generously giving us lots and lots of baby stuff, my husband Pascal and I wanted to cook them a special supper on Saturday night. It was truffle based and very cheesy but to round it off, we had to have some chocolate too…….obviously! For pudding I decided to try this Sachertorte from Fay Ripley's second cookbook - I was a little apprehensive as I had never cooked it before but it seemed simple enough and it took around an hour plus cooling time.

Ingredients for 8-10 people:

200g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken up
160g butter, softened
120g caster sugar
4 large free range eggs, separated 
200g ground almonds

100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids), broken up
50g butter
3 heaped tbsp apricot jam

Preheat the oven to 150 C (fan), 170 C, gas mark 3 and line the base of the cake tin with baking parchment. Your tin needs to be a spring form cake tin around 20-22cm.

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over simmering water, then set aside to cool (my bowl was actually china)!

Using an electric whisk, cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the egg yolks, melted chocolate and ground almonds and mix until evenly combined.

In the separate bowl, whisk the egg whites with an electric whisk until soft peaks form and then carefully fold into the cake mix. This took longer than I expected and I thought it would never combine but it did (patience is a virtue)! Pop into the cake tin and then bake for 35 minutes. Leave in the tin to cool completely.

For the topping, melt the chocolate and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water like before and leave to cool slightly.

Carefully remove the cake from it's tin and spread the three tablespoons of apricot jam over the top. Dribble the warm chocolate topping over the cake, letting it drip down the sides and leave it to set. Serve at room temperature on it's own or with a dollop of cream or ice cream.

I will admit I was a little unsure of this recipe as I don't really like dark chocolate and I couldn't understand how the apricot jam fitted in but I was very pleasantly surprised - it definitely all works. The sachertorte was invented in Vienna in 1832 and is one of Vienna's culinary specialities - it even has it's own day - 5th December. After making this, I can see why it is such a hit. I loved it with the vanilla ice cream.  A great dinner party recipe as you can make it the day before and you can even freeze the base (not the topping). I have enjoyed polishing off the leftovers….I am certainly making the most of eating for two!

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Sunday, 8 May 2016


I am now seven months pregnant and starting to really feel it so my motivation for cooking is spiralling downwards. At the moment I just want something easy and quick and I am thinking it is only going to get worse when the baby arrives....thank goodness for the BBQ and salad! 

Anyway I am trying to make sure I eat fish at least once a week and decided to do this haddock and leeks on toast thing as apparently it can be on the table within 30 minutes plus as you know, I am a sucker for anything with melted cheese.

Ingredients for 2 people:

230g smoked haddock (I just used normal haddock)
100ml whole milk (I used skimmed as that was all I had in the fridge)
25g unsalted butter
1 leek, trimmed and finely sliced
1/2 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp creme fraiche
2 - 3 slices of crusty bread
40g mature cheddar, grated (I didn't measure this out and just out on what I felt it needed)
2 tbsp roughly chopped flat leaf parsley (I used dill)

Put the haddock and milk in a shallow pan and bring just to the boil, cover and cook for 5 minutes and then take off the heat. Leave the fish for a few more minutes to cook and then remove to a plate, reserving the milk.

Meanwhile heat the butter in a large pan and gently saute the leeks for 4-5 minutes. Then add the flour for 1 minute, followed by the milk, stirring until thickened. Start preheating the grill to high.

Stir through the creme fraiche and heat for another minute and then flake in the fish and season.

Grill the bread lightly on both sides under the preheated grill. Spoon the haddock mixture on top and then scatter generously with cheese. Pop under the grill for a few minutes until golden (not burnt!), sprinkle with parsley and serve with a green salad if liked.

When I picked Arabella up from ballet she announced she was starving but when I told her what we were eating, she changed her mind! However after a couple of mouthfuls she decided this was delicious and ended up eating half of mine too. I felt it lacked a little something (maybe because I didn't use smoked haddock) and so added some capers which did the trick - in all honesty it was similar to a tuna melt. I would say it is a very child (and adult) friendly way to serve up fish!

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