Tomato carpaccio with ginger and spring onion

The quality of the ingredients make this dish, so you’ll need top-notch tomatoes as well as the best sherry vinegar you can afford (Valdespino, for preference). The salsa is glorious spooned on all sorts, from toast topped with mozzarella and/or avocado to roast chicken, so double or triple the quantities, if the mood takes you; it keeps well in the fridge for a few days.

I made this from the SIMPLE cookery book by Ottolenghi, but this recipe was also in The Guardian newspaper. Next time I would make double the topping (at least) as it keeps for up to 5 days in a jar and is amazing !

Serves four as a side dish.

3cm piece ginger, peeled and roughly chopped (10g net weight)
Flaky sea salt
3 spring onions, very finely sliced (45g net weight)
40ml sunflower oil (or other flavour-free oil)
2 tsp good-quality sherry vinegar
400g beef tomatoes (about 2), cut into 2mm-thick slices
1½ tbsp finely shredded coriander leaves
¼ green chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil

Put the ginger and a half-teaspoon of salt in a mortar, crush to a fine paste, transfer to a bowl and toss with the spring onions.

Heat the sunflower oil in a small pan on a low flame until just warm – you don’t want it too hot – then pour over the spring onion and ginger mix, and stir in a teaspoon of vinegar.

Lay the tomato slices on a large platter (about 25cm in diameter), slightly overlapping them, season with a quarter-teaspoon of salt, then drizzle over the remaining vinegar. Spoon the salsa evenly over the top – or use your hands to better effect – scatter over the coriander and chilli, and finish with the olive oil.

Chickpea and Coriander Patties

1 onion (or a celery stick) chopped finely

1 carrot grated or chopped finely

Generous shake of ground cumin (or a teaspoon of cumin seeds slightly crushed)

Oil for cooking – max 2/3 tbsp

1 tin of chick peas (or kidney beans, or black beans) drained

1 tbsp flour (any kind including besam/garam)

Handful of chopped fresh parsley and coriander (don’t worry if you don’t have both)



Gently fry the carrot, onion and cumin in a dash of the oil until onion is soft.

Tip the pan contents into a big bowl (save the pan for later). Add the chickpeas/beans, the herbs and the flour to the bowl and mix.

Use a potato masher and half crush until the mixture sticks together enough t9 be shaped. If too dry, add a touch of water.

Now shape into about 12 balls/patties (or about 4 burgers if you prefer).

Add oil to the frying pan and gently fry until golden brown all over. This takes about 7-10 mins.

Energy Balls

There are so many variations for great energy balls. The key is to blend the flavours and nutrients to suit your tastebuds.

The basic recipe has only three ingredients and a good strong chocolate flavour. Add extra ingredients as you wish, but keep in mind you need the texture to be pliable to make into balls. Nut butters/coconut oil/maple syrup will help the ingredients combine if your mixture/dates are too dry. Medjool dates are the best dates to use as sweeter and more moist. Simply blitz everything in food blender then mold into balls.

The Basic ingredients

  • 200g almonds – toasted then crushed
  • 400g dates – no stones
  • 5 tablespoons raw cacao powder
Possible extras to combine mixture
  • 2 ½ tablespoons almond butter
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil/maple syrup
Optional Extras

Nuts – Walnuts, Brazils, Hazlenuts are all good as substitutes or mixed

Dried fruit – Figs are great, Cranberries and Apricot work well too

Optional – Coatings to roll the balls in

Cacao powder

Toasted then chopped nuts

Toasted desiccated coconut

Delicious Seed Mixes

Pear Cafe Seed Mix

Great for salads, eggs, soups, dhals, sandwiches, on cereal, on avocado. Especially good with egg mayo.

Scale up or down and keep in a jar. Great source of copper, manganese, Vit E. Works out about 60 Cals per 10g. One teaspoon is about 6g.

2tbs Sesame Seeds

2tbs Sunflower Seeds

2tbs Pumpkin Seeds

10g Nigella Seeds

Toast all the seeds together in a dry frying pan for about 8-10 mins using a medium heat. Stir or shake continuously as they will burn otherwise!

They are done when the sesame seeds are golden brown and pumpkin start to split. Remove from heat, cool down completely before storing.

Speedy Spicy Salmon Curry

Serves 2 or 3 people

1 tbs. oil

1 onion – finely chopped

3 tbs Gochujang

2 Garlic Cloves – crushed

200 ml Coconut milk

200 ml Vegetable Stock

2 or 3 Salmon Fillets

1 tsp toasted sesame seeds


Choose your favorite

– Aubergine/courgettes – cut into match sticks, sauté first until almost cooked, remove and add back into the pan with the salmon

– Spinach / Kale – wilt and serve over the rice, under the curry.

To garnish

– Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and a few herb leaves (coriander/parsley/dill)

To serve

– over steamed rice or cooked spelt

1. Use a large frying pan. Heat the oil gently fry onion until soft. Stir in the gochujang and garlic and cook for 2 minutes, stirring.

2. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock, stirring to mix and bring to a simmer for 3 to 4 minutes to thicken.

3. Add salmon (and chosen veg) and cook for 3 minutes. Turn the salmon over and cook for 3 more minutes.

This dish – wilted spinach on cooked spelt, topped with spicy curry.

Katsu Curry

CA61E5E0-EF84-4521-90FF-2F89B35D449FJapanese Curry – very different from an Indian curry.

Katsu curry sauce is so very easy to  make, there is no need to buy packs of Golden Curry ever again – as nice as they are, the sauce is much nicer freshly made.  This saves you shopping, cash and and it even freezes well too.

1 tablespoon cooking oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
5 whole garlic cloves, peeled
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 tablespoons plain flour
1 tablespoon medium curry powder
600ml chicken stock
2 teaspoons honey / malt extract
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 bay leaf
half a teaspoon garam masala

Heat the oil in a small pan. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes,then throw in the carrots and sweat slowly for 10 minutes with the lid on, giving the odd stir, until softened and starting to caramelise.

Stir in the flour and curry powder and cook for a minute.

Slowly pour in the stock until combined (do this gradually to avoid getting lumps). Add the honey, soy sauce and bay leaf and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, so the sauce thickens but is still of pouring consistency.

Add the garam masala, just before blending everything together (or put through a sieve).


For Tonkatsu

Add a couple of cooked carrot and potato chunks to the sauce and serve with crispy panko crumbed chicken breast or pork chop.  Even easier, throw in extra veg with the stock, remove when cooked and add back to the finished dish.

For Katsudon

This is a traditional dish served over rice.  Typically Tonkatsu on top of rice, sauce on top.

For Noodles

Use the sauce as a pasta or noodle coating.  Udon noodles are typical but anything works.   For a variation on the chicken/pork, top with some smoked mackerel and toasted sesame seeds. Serve with wilted greens.




Mussels (with chorizo, tomato & sherry)

Every time I cook this it is slightly different.  My husband prefers the “unctuous” version as he puts it, meaning a richer, deeper tasting broth, rather than the lighter “summer version” which I make with fresh tomatoes.  Both are good as long as you get the lovely fresh mussels.  Here in Spain 1kg of fresh cleaned mussels are so cheap     and delicious it would just be wrong not to cook with them. All the other ingredients are store cupboard staples, very typical here in Andalucia, but found easily elsewhere.    This is easy, quick, filling and a crowd pleaser.   As bizarre as it seems, I have to thank Waitrose in Henley on Thames, England,  for introducing us to this dish !

Serves 2

1 kg      Mussels, in their shell, cleaned

50g      Chorizo, cubed.  The fully cured, picante one is best*

0.5       Onion, diced.  Red is my favourite, but any is OK

50ml   Sherry

2         Garlic cloves, finely sliced

1 can   Chopped tomatoes

2tbs     Tomato puree

2tsp      Smoked paprika

Serve with chucnky slices of  white crusty rustic bread.  In Spain ask for a Chapata, it’s similar to a baguette, a little denser and made with olive oil.  To impress, oregano, chopped rosemary or parsley are all excellent optional garnishes.

1. Start off by frying the chopping chorizo until it just starts to char.  Then add the Sherry and glared and keep it all moving until the alcohol has burned off. Remove from pan keeping in the pan the oil that has come from the chorizo.

2.  Sauté the onion with the Paprika.  When translucent, add the tomatoes and tomato purée and heat until simmering.

3. You have a choice now.  Blitz the sauce in the pan with a hand blender for a thicker broth, or leave as is.  Taste. Add pepper if it needs seasoning but not salt.

4.  Add back the chorizo and garlic and bring heat back up to a simmer before adding the mussels on top and immediately putting the lid on.

5.  Wait just two minutes and have a peep.  If the mussels on top have opened, it’s ready!  If not, replace lid and wait another minute,

6. Use a slotted spoon to remove the mussels and pour the broth/sauce over the top and serve with crusty bread and an empty bowl for the discarding the shells. A chuck of lemon is nice squeezed on top too, but not really traditional.

Photo credit :

Squid with Chorizo and Sherry

Here we are in Southern Spain.   This recipe is so typical – using ingredients which seem to be common to so many local dishes.  Most authentic dishes in this region use local ingredients, so the sherry is from Jerez, the tomatoes, garlic, parsley and potatoes are all grown locally and no self respecting cook will be without a Paprika.   This dish works perfectly well with tinned tomatoes and any dry sherry.

1              Garlic clove, crushed
1              Shallot, finely chopped
3 sprigs  Thyme
1tsp        Sweet paprika
1tbs.       Tomato puree
450g.      Chopped tomatoes
1.            Red chilli, de-seeded
200g.      New potatoes, quartered
180g.      Chorizo, peeled and sliced
1.             Lemon, quartered
500g.      Squid, cut into rings
50ml.     Dry sherry

  1. In a thick-bottom pan, fry the shallot in the olive oil with the garlic, thyme and paprika until golden.
  2. Add the tomato puree, chopped tomatoes and red chilli, bring to a simmer and add the new potatoes, chorizo and lemon. Cover and cook until the potatoes are soft.
  3. In a separate pan, fry the squid rings until cooked through and remove.
    Deglaze the pan with sherry and add, along with the squid, to the tomato sauce.
  4. Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Stewed squid rings in tomato sauce

Recipe provided by David Sharland, Flying Fish Seafoods

Vietnamese Ginger Chicken

A.k.a.  Ga Rang Gang. /  Ga Kho Gung

It has taken me a while to achieve this, the perfect recipe.  It’s easy to cook and has the authentic taste of the very best chicken and ginger dish I ate in Vietnam.  For the record it was a draw between was a small family restaurant in district 3. HCMC and another in Hoi An.  If you want a posh version, use skinless, boneless chicken breasts, but it won’t have the same depth of flavor.

Serves 4

4 chicken legs  (jointed into two pieces each).
1 large onion – thinly sliced or finely diced
4 cloves garlic – very thinly sliced
7-8 cm ginger root – sliced then sliced again until matchsticks
3tbs vegetable oil
3tbs sugar
6tbs  fish sauce
Pinch black pepper

Optional – red chili, made into a flower for garnish

  1.  Heat oil in a wok on high for 30secs, then turn down to medium and stir fry onion, garlic, ginger until browned. Remove.
  2. Stir fry the chicken pieces a few at a time until very brown (approx 10mins).
  3. Sprinkle chicken with both sugar and pepper and mix well. Add back the onion garlic ginger mix.
  4. Cover the pan and cook over a low heat, with the lid on, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking until chicken is tender and cooked through (about 10 minutes)
  5. Add the fish sauce and a splash of water and mix well. Increase heat to medium.  Cook and stir until sauce thickens slightly and chicken is coated.


Serve…….in a separate bowl.   If you want to be authentic sit a chili flower on top!

Goes well with……Steamed rice and broccoli florets

Freeze……perfectly acceptable to freeze extra portions once cooked.

To make the chilli flower……cut a long thin red chili lengthwise, starting 1cm from stem end into 6 or 8 petals. Discard the seeds. Place the chili into a small bowl with iced water and cover with ice. Refrigerate for 1 hour.

Thai Carrot and Lemongrass Soup

30 minutes | serves 2 | easy



1 onion, roughly chopped

1 garlic clove, roughly chopped

1 lemongrass stalk, woody outer leaves removed and chopped

2cm ginger  chunk, grated

500g carrots, peeled and chopped

165 ml coconut milk (see alternatives below)

600ml vegetable stock

lime 1, zested and juiced


Heat a tbsp oil in a pan and cook the onion, garlic, lemongrass and ginger for 5 minutes. Add the carrots and cook for another 5 minutes. Mix the coconut milk in the tin in case it has separated then take out 2 tbsp and keep to finish the soup. Add the rest of the tin to the carrots with the stock. Simmer until the carrots are tender then whizz with a stick blender until smooth. Stir in the lime juice and zest then spoon into bowls and drizzle over the coconut milk to finish.

nutritional info

■ PER SERVING 197 kcals, protein 3.5g, carbs 30.8g, fat 7g, sat fat 1.5, fibre 8.6g, salt 0.4g

The coconut milk can be exchanged for toasted grated coconut, or even yoghurt if preferred.  An easier alternative is to buy coconut block and rehydrate to make a small amount of coconut creamy milk as the garnish.  If using yoghurt as the garnish, add come chilli for a little  kick !

Add more ginger or lemongrass to taste
Recipe adapted from Olive magazine

Bhajis (onion, or any veg)

Onion Bhaji recipe

Just vary the ingredients to what you have. All you need are some veg(grated or finely sliced) and the gram flour, everything else is optional. Essentially, it’s possible to do this by sight. Grate the veg, sprinkle on the chickpea/gram flour, then add enough water that when stirred it all holds together enough to cook. Either fry or bake on a high heat.

However, here is the recipe for reminders on useful extras.

1 onion
1 red onion
100g gram flour (besan flour/chickpea flour)
80ml water
1tsp curry powder/Garam masala
2 garlic cloves, smashed
Vegetable oil/sunflower oil

Optional extras
Pinch Asafoetida powder
0.5tsp Ginger, finely chopped
0.5tsp turmeric
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 chili, finely chopped or 0.5tsp powders

Finely slice the onions and put in a mixing bowl. Separate the slices by stirring.
Add all the spices and the flour and mix again.
Add 1tbs oil and about 3/4 of the water and mix together. The onion should look coated with batter. Add the rest of the water if you need it.
Mix it up again and then make loose patties/balls.

Frying method
Heat the oil until it smokes a little before popping in the bhajis. Leave them to cook on one sided before flipping over.

Oven method
Place on a greaseproof paper lined baking tray and cook on a high heat, turning after 10 mins or so for another 10 mins. You will see when they are done.



Try using frozen mixed veg, or cauli or broccoli, defrosted first to make bhajis, but call them vegetable pakoras to impress your diners.

Serve with green sauce. Just blitz wild garlic and/or coriander leaves.  Add a little white vinega and a bit of natural yoghurt and “voila!” You have the sauce served in many an Indian restaurant.



Butternut & Wild Garlic Lasagne

This is a variation on a Jamie Oliver recipe from the Superfood book, which is sure to be fabulous (super squash lasagne, spinach, cottage cheese and seeds) . This humble creation is due to the  necessity to use up cupboard, fridge and freezer contents.  Serves 2 very hungry people as a main dish.

0.5      Butternut squash (approx 600g)
1tsp    Ground Coriander
2         Garlic Cloves, peeled and finely sliced
0.5      Chili, finely sliced, pith and seeds removed
1tbs    Balsamic Vinegar
1          Tomatoes, can of
80g     Wild Garlic Leaves, roughly sliced
20g     Parmesan, grated
85g     Lasagne sheets (5)
65g     Feta Cheese, crumbled
1tbs    Sunflower Seeds
1          Rosemary Sprig
Olive Oil


1.   Prepare the butternut.
Preheat the oven to 180C
Rub a roasting tray with a little oil, or line with greaseproof paper. Halve lengthwise the butternut, deseed and slice 1cm thick. Leave the skin on. Layer on the tray, sprinkle with coriander, salt and pepper and bake for 50mins until golden. You can do this in advance the day before.

2.   Make the tomato sauce.
Fry in a little oil until golden, add the balsamic and tomatoes and about 200ml water. Simmer for 15-20 mins until thickened up a little. Taste and season.

3.   Build the lasagne.
I used a 12cmx20cm dish. Spread a third of the sauce on the bottom, cover with a third of the wild garlic, then a third of the squash and a small sprinkling of Parmesan, then a layer of lasagne sheets. Repeat twice more, finishing with the lasagne sheets.

Top with the crumbled feta, mashed with a little milk/yoghurt if you wish. Then top with the remaining Parmesan and sunflower seeds. Finely chop up the rosemary and mix with a tiny bit of oil and this is the final topping.

4.   Cook.
Bake at the bottom of the oven for 45min at 180C.
Jamie suggests serving with a lemon dressed green salad. We served it with meat, but it is filling on its own.    Substitute spinach for wild garlic if prefered.

Quick flatbread (with wild garlic)

By far the quickest, easiest and tastiest version tested.  No yeast required and any flour will work.  Cook on a griddle pan, or in a hot oven.  Impossible to go wrong with this.

Makes 2 large or 3 medium breads

250g flour

125ml water

25ml  olive oil

large handful of wild garlic leaves, finely chopped

large pinch of salt



Oven method : Preheat the oven and flat trays/pizzas tine to a high heat.

Simply mix everything together.

If using the griddle method, put the griddle pan on a high heat.

Knead the dough for 5 minutes.  Now split into two or three balls and flatten with your hands, using extra flour if too required for dusting.

The breads need to be about 3mm thick before cooking.  I cooked both sides , but it is possible to cook one side and they are more like nan/tortillas.



Indian/Malay Cabbage



1 tbs coconut oil (other oils are acceptable)
2 tsp brown mustard seeds
5 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
Half /small onion finely diced.
Half green chili, finely sliced (optional, but I like the random spice hit sometimes)
2 tsp ground turmeric
1 (small)Savoy cabbage, cored and thinly slicedl
1 tsp salt
pinch ground cayenne pepper
1 tbs grated coconut (toasted or uncooked)

You will need a large, lidded frying pan.


Heat the oil until hot and smoking.  Add the mustard seeds and put the lid on. When the seeds stop popping, remove from heat and add the garlic, turmeric and green chili if using.

Replace pan on medium heat and stir until garlic has softened.

Add cabbage, salt and cayenne.  Stir well. Add 3 tablespoons water.

Replace lid, reduce heat again and cook for anything from 5 mins to 20 mins. (It makes no difference, you just want the water to be steamed away and to stop the cabbage burning while cooking).

Just before serving, top with grated coconut and stir in.


Serve hot.


WE ate this a lot in Malaysia as part of a Nasi Campur meal – with coconut rice, chili sambal and some meat or fish, usually fried, curried or stewed. It also works well with a traditional Indian curry meal.

Mediterranean Squid Salad

This is a Prue Leith Cookery School recipe : Pan fried squid, chickpea, tomato, olive and chilli salad.


Serves 4


1kg squid, cleaned, scored and cut into bite sized pieces

2 tablespoons olive oil


400g drained cooked/tinned chickpeas, drained and rinsed

1 red onion, halved then finely sliced

2 red chillies, halved then finely sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced

24 cherry tomatoes, halved

75g rocket or baby spinach leaves, washed and dried

1 lemon: juice and zest.

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tablespoon olive oil

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chillies

75g black olives


freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing
Whisk together 1 tablespoon lemon juice, half the zest and the 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil. Taste and season with salt and pepper, then set aside.

For the salad
Put the ½ tablespoon olive oil in a frying pan over a low heat, add the onion and cook gently until just beginning to soften. Add the chopped chillies, garlic and the crushed dried chillies and cook for 1 minute. Add the chickpeas and warm through. Lightly crush them with the back of a wooden spoon until they just to begin to break up.

Put the cherry tomatoes and black olives into a large bowl and tip in the warm chickpea mixture.

Heat the frying pan over a medium to high heat and add the 2 tablespoons olive oil. Dry the squid well and pan-fry until just starting to curl. Turn and cook briefly again, then remove from the pan.

Add the rocket or spinach to the chickpeas, pour over the dressing and toss to coat evenly. Add the squid and turn through, then divide between 4 plates and drizzle any remaining dressing from the bowl over the salad.

Sports drink

If you look on a bottle of one of these drinks you’ll see an ingredients list that looks very long and complex. But they actually only contain 3 key components: water to hydrate you, sugar for energy, and salt to replace electrolytes lost when you sweat.

So to make your own homemade energy drink, all you need to do is mix:

500ml water
30g sugar (around 6 teaspoons)
0.65g salt (around an eighth of a teaspoon)
And for some flavouring add a splash of orange squash.

Divine Dukkah

My attempt at recreating a beautiful dukkah served at a winery as part of a cold platter in the Coromandel region of New Zealand. It got us hooked on Dukkah. Have it on eggs, fish, crudités, baked cheese, avocado, chicken wings, bread or even bananas !

The basic ingredients

2 tbs sesame seeds

2 tbs nuts (I used Brazil’s, but peanuts/cashews/walnuts are all good, hazelnuts are traditional)

1 tbs coriander seeds

1 tbs cumin seeds

Pinch of salt

  1. Finely chop the nuts
  2. Dry fry each of the ingredients
  3. Crush everything together
  4. Cool and store in a jar for up to 6 months and enjoy

IMG_1987Optional extras:

  • Dried lemon zest
  • Dried herbs (thyme or oregano work well)
  • Chilli or red pepper flakes
  • Seeds (nigella or fennel are nice)
  • Spices (sumac is great, cinnamon or clove add a kick)

Amazing Pea Purée

Amazing Pea Purée

Amazing because it is so versatile, so easy so healthy and everyone loves it.    I have used it as a pasta sauce, a dip, topping for crostini or canapés,   a side salad and in a sandwich!

2 cups frozen peas

1-2 shallots (use spring onions, or red onions if preferred)

2tbs butter (can use olive oil if preferred)

salt and pepper

  1. Finely chop the onion and sauté until soft.
  2. Add the peas to the pan and then the butter.
  3. Keep the heat low and stir until butter has melted.
  4. Use hand blender to blitz.


Optional Extras :  add a chopped clove of garlic to the onion. Mint is another good extra if you wish.  Or try a sprig of fresh thyme.  I choose the herb to complement the rest of the meal.

Serve warm or cold.


For Pasta Sauce :  mix equal parts of pasta water to purée, then add the pasta. (And perhaps some Parmesan and  extra peas)

Photo from recipe girl

For canapés crostini : add a slice of pancetta or chopped crispy bacon on top of puree.



Vietnamese Stuffed Squid

Vietnamese recipe
A Vietnamese recipe

Serves four as a main course. Two tubes per person, as per the picture.

This is quick, easy and very sophisticated !


600g.     Whole squid (10cm length). Cleaned and with skin still on.

1 tbsp     Shallots, minced/pounded
1tbsp      Spring onion, white part, very finely chopped
300g      Minced Pork
1tbs        Fish sauce
pinch     Salt
pinch     Pepper
0.5tsp    Sugar
1 cup      Spring Onion, half white, half green, all sliced finely
0.5 cup  Mushroom, white or wood ear, sliced finely
1tsp        Red Chilli  (mild) seeds and pith removed, finely chopped
1 cup      Glass Noodles, cut into 2cm length
2             Lemongrass stalks, bashed up, but whole

for the sauce
0.25 cup  Shallots, thinly sliced
0.5 cup    Oonion/leek,  white/mild  finely chopped
2tbsp        Soya sauce
1tsp           Sugar
0.25tsp     Five spice
0.5tsp       Chilli sauce, sweet
1 tbsp        Stock/water
pinch        Salt

for cooking
0.5 cup. Vegetable Oil


In a small frying pan, heat 2tbs of the oil. Add the minced shallots, mined pork, fish sauce, the chopped spring onion, salt, pepper and sugar and stir for two minutes.

Add the sliced spring onions, Chilli and Mushrooms and stir for another minute. Set aside to cool.  Meanwhile soak the glass noodles until soft and drain.  Then add to the mixture, stirring to mix.

Make a small cut on one side of the squid tube to prevent splitting.  Fill tightly to 2cm from the top with the mixture.

In a large frying pan, heat the remaining oil and add lemongrass to release the flavour for about a minute.  Add the filled tubes and tentacles and cook for 6/7 minutes. They will start to caramelise and go crispy.   Remove squid and tentacles from the pan.

Remove half the oil left in the pan, heat to gently cook the onion and shallots for the sauce for one minute.  Add the rest of the sauce ingredients, stirring constantly.  Add back the squid tubes, continuing to stir for 3 minutes.  The sauce will reduce and the squid will be coated.

To serve, put on a plate, slice into 0.5cm rings and pour over remaining sauce.


It takes about 30 minutes  prep and cooking time once you have ingredients assembled.  To make it even and quicker easier, prepare the filling ahead of time, just reheat a little before stuffing the tubes.

Goes well with rice.

Piri piri chicken

This is based on a Mark Hix recipe for griddling a spring chicken. I prefer to spatchcock a large chicken, baste it with the piri piri and roast it. Easy and one of our Favourite Sunday Specials. Reminds me of a portugese piri piri. Delicious!

Serves 6

2.4kg chicken, spatchcocked.
5g dried red chilies
2 red peppers, seeded and roughly chopped
20g tomato purée
50ml extra-virgin rapeseed oil/olive oil
Salt and pepper

Pre-heat the oven to 200C
Heat the oil, add the red peppers and chilies and cook until soft for about 5 minutes or so.
Add the tomato purée and continue to cook for another 5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
Blitz until smooth-ish using a blender
Smother on the chicken and roast for about 50mins, basting now and then, until cooked. Pour over the juices to serve.

Tip – This will be enough for a 2.5kg chicken, often I cook half of the chicken only as piri piri freezes well and goes on most things very nicely!


Easy Arepas


2 cups. Polenta/cornmeal/masarepa flour
Pinch Salt
3 cups Boiling water
3 tbs. Oil

Preheat oven to 200C.
Mix together the cornmeal and salt.
Pour in 2 1/2 cups of the boiling water and mix with a wooden spoon.
Cover with a towel or plastic wrap and set aside to rest for 5 to 10 minutes.

Using wetted hands, form balls of dough out of about 1/4 cup of dough and press to form a cake about 3-4 inches wide and 3/4 inch thick. (If the dough cracks at the edges, mix in a little more water and then form the cakes).

Heat the oil in a sauté pan or skillet over medium-high heat. Sauté the patties, a few at a time, to form a light brown crust on one side, 5 to 6 minutes. Flip and brown on the other side.

When all the patties have been browned, transfer them to a baking sheet and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until they sound lightly hollow when tapped.

Serve immediately or cool and freeze. Or prepare in advance and reheat before serving. Makes about 8

Tip :
Serve with anything you fancy on top. Go well with chilli con carne or scrambled egg and bacon. Or butter and cheese. Possibilities are endless….


Healthy Hummos

I never have tahini in my cupboard anyway……this version uses natural yoghurt instead.  Saves on calories, doesn’t compromise on taste.   Ssshh….. don’t tell the purist or traditionalists.  Just try it.

Have a look at the other variations below too.  Freezes really well.

Roasted Red Pepper Hummos
Serves 4 128 cals per portion

1 Red Pepper, halved
1 Garlic Clove, unpeeled
1 Can of Chickpeas, drained
1tbs Natural Yoghurt
1tbs Lemon juice
0.5 Small Red Chilli, finely chopped
1tbs Olive Oil

Place the pepper, (skin side up) and garlic on a baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes, until skin is blackened/blistered. Remove from oven and pop straight into a freezer bag and seal. When cool enough to handle, just peel and discard the skins.

In a blender put the chickpeas, pepper, garlic, yoghurt, lemon juice, chilli and blitz to a stiff paste. Slowly add olive oil, adding a drop of water, if necessary, to egg the consistency preferred.

It’s that easy!

Try these variations:

Lemon and Coriander Hummos
Omit the red pepper and garlic and add 1tbs chopped fresh coriander at the end.
Check the taste. Add more Lemon Juice or Coriander as preferred.
Cals per portion 118

Sun Dried Tomato Hummos
Simply blitz a can of drained hickpeas, 70g sun dried tomatoes in oil (reserving some of the oil), pinch of smoked paprika and 1tbs chopped fresh basil.




Spicy Lentil & Tomato Soup

Of all the spicy lentil soup recipes, this is my favourite.

Low GI, 288 cals.  Freezes well. Easy.

Serves 4

250g   Red Lentils
1tbs     Oil, vegetable
1          Onion, large, finely chopped
1          Garlic clove, finely chopped
1          Celery stick, finely chopped
200g  Can chopped tomatoes
0.5      Green chilli, deseeded, finely chopped (optional)
0.5tsp Paprika
0.5tsp Harissa paste
0.5tsp Cumin, freshly ground
800ml Vegetable stock

Herbs to garnish – parsley or coriander are best.

  1. Place lentils in a bowl of warm water, while you gently fry the onion, garlic and celery in the oil, until softened.
  2. Drain the lentils, add to pan with the tomatoes, chilli, paprika, harissa, cumin and stock.
  3. Cover the pan and simmer until lentils are soft (around 30-40 mins), adding more stock or water is it gets too thick. Check seasoning.
  4. Serve topped with a few chopped herbs.

Tip ~ also nice garnished with charred chorizo.

Soup and lentils are both great diet foods as they are filling. The chilli boosts the metabolism too!

Fake Pasta from courgettes

Low calorie, tasty and incredibly easy

2 medium courgettes per person
Lemon to taste

I find this works really well as fake spaghetti/thin fake spaghetti if using a handheld juilenne tool. Also really great as lasagna sheets.

1. Cut the courgettes to preferred size/shape.
2. Salt the courgette generously in a colander and leave for 30 mins to sweat.
3. Rinse thoroughly to remove salt and dab to dry.
4. Place back in colander and refrigerate for about 2 hours to dehydrate more.

To cook:
Use a non-stick pan and sauté (on medium) for 1-2 minutes until tender.
Reduce to low heat and drizzle lemon juice (or olive oil if preferred) over to bring out the flavour.
Season and serve.

Prepare in advance and store raw courgettes covered in the fridge for upto 4-5 days.

For speed, skip step 4. The fake pasta won’t be quite as al dente, but still good.


With basil and tomato
With basil and tomato

With carrot, prawns & chilli
With carrot, prawns & chilli

Simple Chilli Toffee Shards

Great for finishing off a dessert with panache!

150g. Caster sugar
0.5 tsp dried chilli flakes

Line a small baking tray with parchment.

In a pan, using only a low heat, melt the sugar with the chilli. Don’t stir but move the pan around to help melt evenly. When the colour is a golden brown pour into the baking tray, tipping the tray to get an even layer.

Leave to set and break into shards when ready.


Pineapple and Mint ice Lollies

Makes 8

1 x 1.5kg pineapple, peeled and chopped
220g caster sugar
250ml water
125ml lime juice (approximately 4 limes)
2 tbsp mint leaves, roughly torn
2 tsp finely grated lime zest

1 Place the pineapple, sugar, water and lime juice in a medium saucepan over a medium heat. Bring to the boil and cook, stirring, for 8-10 minutes, or until thickened and syrupy. Add the mint and lime zest and use a potato masher to crush the pineapple. Refrigerate until cold.

Divide the mix into 8 moulds of paper cups (125ml). Cover with foul and insert lolly stick. Freeze for 4-5 hours or until frozen.

Recipe by Donna Hay, printed in The Times newspaper,20140724-101457-36897057.jpg

Rich Chinese best beef stock from an OXO!

This is great for a beef stock when cooking a noodle soup, Chinese or Vietnamese style and you have no beef bones. It took me straight back to a Chinese noodle soup man where we had breakfast every day in Bangkok. It should not work, but it does!

1lt Water
1 Oxo cube
1 Onion, finely chopped
3cm. Ginger, sliced. (Or use 1tsp ground ginger)
1 Cinnamon stick
5 Peppercorns

2tbs Hoisin Sauce
2tbs Fish sauce

Simmer everything, except the hoisin and fish sauce, for 45 minutes, then strain through a sieve.

Add the hoisin and fish sauce and it’s ready.

This is great to use up small amounts of leftovers for breakfast or lunch. Just add rice/egg noodles, meat and some beansprouts/juilienned veg and fresh herbs.

Lowest calorie Thai Prawn Salad

Spicy loveliness, a Thai and Vietnamese mix.

This serves one person, easy to upscale for more!
A very filling 170 calories.

For the salad
100g Prawns (cooked and peeled weight)
1 Carrot, peeled & sliced using a vegetable peeler
Handful Fresh mint leaves
Handful Fresh coriander leaves
4+ Romaine Leaves, cut into strips
1tbs Red Onion, very finely sliced

For the dressing
1tbs Thai fish sauce
1tbs Lime Juice
Tiny pinch Caster sugar
1tsp Grated ginger
0.5 Garlic clove finely chopped
Pinch Dried chilli flakes

Simply arrange the salad ingredients in a dish.

For the dressing, put the ingredients in a small jar and shake. Use about half of the dressing per person.

Inspired by the recipe on


Panzanella Perfection

Easy, healthy and prepare ahead recipe

Serves four for main course lunch, easy to multiply for more portions. Good as a starter too.

1kg Tomatoes, ripe as possible.
2 Bread (thick slices of coarse white bread ie ciabatta, putliese).
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
Salt and pepper
4tbs Extra Virgin Olive oil
3tbs Red Wine Vinegar
2tbs Capers, roughly chopped
75g+ Anchovies, tinned.
1 Red Onion, very finely sliced
16 Black Olives, pitted and halved
Bunch Basil
Bunch Parsley
2 Red chilli, mild, thinly sliced

All except one or two, skin the tomatoes, de-seed, roughly chop and place in a sieve over a bowl. Sprinkle the tomatoes with salt.

To the juices, add the garlic, oil, vinegar and pepper.

In a separate bowl, tear the bread into small chunks and pour the juices over. Add more oil or vinegar to taste, only if it still looks dry. Add the tomatoes and stir a little.

On a large plate, layer half the bread and tomato mix, then add half each of the capers, olives, anchovies, onions and herbs, also half the chilli if using. Then add the other half of bread and tomato mix, and then the other ingredients.

Leave for at least an hour, at room temperature for the tastes to mingle.

Before serving, gently mix again, top with the reserved tomato, chopped and a few more leaves of basil.

Note ~ Great with grilled chicken for a more substantial meal. Play with the ingredients as taste dictates. This is my favourite proportion. Try a mix of varieties of tomato for more interesting visual effect.

Foolproof oven baked Pilau/Pilaf

For 8 people
Try the Mushroom Pilau or Salmon Pilau variations Both delicious!

500g basmati rice
100g butter
1 large onion, finely chopped
1 large sprig fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
2 cinnamon sticks
8 cardamom pods, split open
3 cloves
4-6 thinly pared strips lemon zest
1l boiling chicken stock or water

Preheat the oven to fan 160C/conventional 180C/gas 4. You will need a medium casserole with a lid. Rinse the rice well in a large bowl of water, then drain.
Melt two-thirds of the butter in the casserole and sauté the onion for about 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir well, then add the herbs, whole spices and lemon zest and cook for a minute. Now pour in the boiling stock or water and mix into the rice, along with 1½ tsp sea salt and ground black pepper to taste.
Cover and bake for 25 minutes. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, then remove the lid and fork through the remaining ingredients (ie butter plus your choice of extras (see below for my favourite variations) until the rice is fluffy and separated.


To freeze , just freeze the basic version and add any extras when you reheat for the best results.

Foolproof oven baked salmon and dill pilau
Use 200g cooked and flaked salmon and a good handful of chopped dill.

Foolproof oven baked mushroom pilau
Use a mix of sauted mushrooms, (shitake and button is good and a small handful of fresh chopped wild garlic.

Foolproof oven baked Lemon and Wild Garlic pilau
Just increase the lemon zest by double in the basic recipe and at the end stir in a large handful of chopped wild garlic, including flowers, when fluffing up. Amazing!


Exciting Salad Dressings

Wasabi Dressing
1tsp. Wasabi paste
8tsp. Soy sauce
4tsp. Lemon Juice
8tbs. Mayo

Mix with a spoon.

Miso Traditional Dressing

image60ml miso paste
2 tbs soy sauce
2 tbs rice vinegar
2 tbs sesame oil
1 am piece fresh ginger, finely grated/blended

Mix together, serves one portion (on noodles/ salad)

Miso and Lime dressing

4 tbs. lime juice
3 tsp miso paste
4 tbs. walnut oil (or try sesame)

Whisk together.

The Zingy one
Bunch of Favourite herb. Basil or Dill is spectacularly good.
Half Red Chilli
Garlic clove (peeled)
2 tbsp Red Wine Vinegar
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
3 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt

Blend in a blender

“Pret” Niscoise homage
For two person portion

Small Garlic Clove, finely chopped
Thyme Leaves, finely chopped
Small bunch of *chervil, freshly chopped, stalks removed
Half tsp Djon mustard
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
Squeeze fresh Lemon juice
S & P

*try using parsley if no chervil is available
Whisk with a fork



Spicy Indian green tomatoes

Serves 2 as a main course, or 4 as a side dish. Fantastic with mackerel for a twist on the usual Indian curries. Great as a vegetarian main meal or as a side with a curry. Try cold as a salad too!  So versatile and great for using up all those green tomatoes if the summer ends too quickly.

450g  Green Tomatoes
2 Green Chillis, seeded and chopped
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
qtr cup Oil for frying
half tsp Cumin or Fenugreek seeds
half tsp Cumin Seeds
1 x tsp Chilli powder
2 x tsp Ground Coriander
half tsp Tumeric
half tsp Lemon Juice
Salt and sugar to taste

Wash and quarter the tomatoes
Heat the oil and add Cumin and fenugreek if using, until they crackle
Add tomatoes and green chillis and cook for 2 mins
Add everything else (except the garlic), stir, cover and cook for 6 mins
Uncover, and add the garlic. Turn up the heat and stir fry for 2-3 mins
(The separating oil will now blend together with the juices)

The best tasting green tomatoes ever. It also freezes well.

Easiest Peruvian Ceviche

For two people, I use the following. Easy to upscale. Play with chilli amounts if spicy is your thing.

Tilapia fillets or other firm white fish ( two fillets, weighing about 250g in total). Cubed
2 garlic cloves, chopped
pinch salt
pinch black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh coriander. Chopped
1/4 habanero chilli pepper, seeded and chopped (or real Peruvian Aji Amarillo, if you can find it, or any fresh red chilli)
4-5 limes, freshly squeezed and strained to remove pulp, enough to barely cover the fish
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced and rinsed


1. Combine all ingredients except red onion and mix well.
2. Place red onion on top and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 2-3 hours before serving.

To serve

Mix well and serve with one or two of the following ~
avocado slices (my favourite!), sweet potato slices, lettuce, corn, sliced radishes, extra coriander or other cold salad vegetables on the side, or even Doritos/popcorn.

Thai Chicken Drumsticks

Serves 8 Two small drumsticks each as part of a meal.

8. peppercorns, white or pink
1tsp coriander seeds
5. garlic cloves, roughly chopped
1. shallot, roughly chopped1
1. stem lemongrass roughly chopped
2cm. piece of galangal, roughly chopped (use slightly if using less ginger)i
2. medium red chillies, chopped
1. kaffir lime leaf, chopped
16. (Optional) coriander leaves
16. small chicken drumsticks, skin on

Simply blitz all the ingredients (except the coriander and chicken) in a blender to a purée. Stuff this mix under the chicken skin and massage into the flesh. Chill for a few hours or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas 6. When ready to cook, push a coriander leaf under the skin of each drumstick and secure with a cocktail stick. Wrap the bone ends in tinfoil to prevent burning. Cook for 20-25 minutes.

Quick and Easy Pickled Carrots


Try as a side dish with Indian or Japanese dishes. Also good with rice or salads.

2 Carrots – peeled & thinly sliced on a diagonal/julienne style
1 tbsp Salt – table or cooking salt
75ml. Cider vinegar – or white wine vinegar or rice vinegar
15g Sugar – caster is preferred

Optional : add a few very thin slices of red onion to the carrots

Salt the carrots and let them drain for 2/3 hours.

Dab away excess salt and put into a clean bowl.

Mix sugar & vinegar together until dissolved and pour over the carrots. Leave for 2 hours, mixing every half hour if they are not completely submerged.

Serve at room temperature when ready.

Tip ~ Keeps for three days in the fridge, in the vinegar but will lose crunch gradually.


Moroccan Tomato & Chickpea Salad

Low GI, quickly healthy lunch


Quick lunch, low GI, low fat and very very tasty

Serves 4

1 red onion, finely sliced
2 cans of chickpeas, rinsed and drained
4 tomatoes, chopped
4 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp olive oil
Handful of fresh herbs, chopped (ie basil, mint, coriander)
Large pinch of paprika
Large pinch of cumin (ground)
Salt and pepper

Simply mix together the ingredients and set aside for 10 minutes before serving.

Tip ~ Great with grilled chicken or poached trout fillets.
Another tip ~ Chilli flakes add a bit of punch
218 calories per serving

Really Easy Miso Chicken


This mix is enough for 4 large chicken breasts, 12 boneless thighs or 4 spatchcock quails, 6 cod fillets etc etc

150g sweet white miso paste
2 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp English mustard
2 tbsp caster sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Mix the ingredients and marinate for at least 1 hour. Bake in the oven 20-25 mins on 190deg (for the chicken).

Tip ~ line the cooking dish with foil for a super easy, quick cook, quick clean up meal.

Tip 2 ~ serve with quick japanese cucumber pickles and dark green veg, like shredded cabbage or asparagus.  New potatoes go well too.

Banh Xeo (Vietnamese Crispy Pancakes)


This pancake mix makes about a pint, which in turn makes  4 large pancakes or 8 small ones.

For the pancakes
150g rice flour
1½ tsp ground turmeric
300ml coconut milk, or half coconut half water
1 spring onion, thinly sliced
a pinch of sea salt
a pinch of sugar

For frying
4 tbsp vegetable oil for frying

For the filling
100g peeled prawns, squid, sea bass etc
50g pork belly, cut into thin strips
15g green beans, blanched and cut into thin strips
30g bean sprouts, very briefly blanched if preferred
30g spring onions
30g straw mushrooms
3 shallots, cut into thin strips

To serve
fresh herbs of choice ~ vietnamese mint, basil and/or coriander.
Fast Vietnamese Dipping sauce or the more authentic Nuoc Cham Dipping Sauce.

  1. Make the pancake mix by whisking the ingredients together and letting it sit for 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, stir-fry the pork, then add the beans, then all the other filling ingredients.
  3. Heat some oil in a clean frying pan and pour just enough pancake mix to cover the base.
  4. When the mix is set, pile the filling on top and leave until the pancake is crispy, then fold over and serve.

Eat immediately and start cooking the next one!


Easy Peasy Fat Free Tea Loaf



Soak 300-350g of raisins in 350ml cold tea, overnight
My version : 300g raisins and 20g dried orange peel.
Standard version : use mixed dried fruit


Turn the oven on to preheat at 170
In a large bowl, put in the following and mix it up with a big spoon
a) 270g self raising flour,
b) teaspoon of cinnamon powder (or mixed spice if you prefer)
c) 200g brown sugar (soft if you have it)
d) the tea and fruit (previously soaked)
e) 2 eggs, mixed up together first

If you have any parchment paper/baking powder, line a loaf tin, the pour in the mixture and bake for 90mins.

Cool on a wire rack.

Then slice and enjoy – you can have butter on if you wish, or try it with marmalade/lemon curd  instead for breakfast. I like it on its own.,

Balsamic Syrup dressing

This great on salads, cold meats, parmesan, tomatoes, asparagus. But also really lovely on strawberries or ice cream.

So versatile! So easy! So addictive!

250 ml balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons brown sugar


Simply heat both ingredients to a gentle boil and maintain stirring occasionally until reduced by half. About 8-10 mins should do it.

Cool to room temperature and transfer to a plastic squeezy bottle.

Store in refrigerator if not using very often. Will keep for ages. Use cheap balsamic and brown sugar, or better balsamic and half white sugar. Scale up the recipe if preferred. The yield is about half the starting volume of balsamic.


Lemon Curd

Easy peasy Lemon Squeezy!
My favourite ingredient  ~. great for ice cream, cakes, tarts, stirred in yoghurt, mixed with meringue and more….

Makes just over 1ltr.

grated zest and juice 4 large juicy lemons
4 large eggs
350 g golden caster sugar
225 g unsalted butter, at room temperature, cut into small lumps
1 level dessertspoon cornflour

3 x 350 ml capacity jars, sterilised.  Or equivalent.

Lightly whisk the eggs in a medium-sized saucepan, then add the rest of the ingredients and place the saucepan over a medium heat.

Whisk continuously using a balloon whisk until the mixture thickens – about 7-8 minutes.

Reduce heat to its minimum setting and gently simmer for a further minute, continuing to whisk. After that, remove it from the heat.

Pour the lemon curd into the hot, sterilised jars, filling them as full as possible, cover straightaway with waxed discs, seal while it is still hot and label when it is cold.

This will keep for several weeks, but it must be stored in a cool place.

Wild Garlic Ideas

Storing and Cooking with Wild Garlic

Can be eaten raw or cooked, (leaves and flowers) but cooking reduces the flavour so use more. If cooking, use right at the end – wilted is better than boiled!   Wild garlic is anti-fungal, anti bacterial, good for circulation and good for the immune system, so eat as much as possible when in season (March/April).  To freeze, roll up the leaves like large cigars.  To freeze the flowers, the easiest way is to chop up and keep in a free flow bag ready for sprinkling.

Try these great ideas ideas for using wild garlic …

Wild garlic butter  – make into sausage shapes and keep in the freezer for slicing

Sandwiches – use instead of cress/lettuce,

Potato – Wild Garlic Mash Potato.   Added to a Potato Dauphinoise.

Pasta – Add 3 tablespoons chopped WG to 300g pasta flour when making

Cheese – Add to homemade paneer cheese making, mixed into  cream cheese

Thai Food – Use whole leaves as a wrap instead of Banana Leaf – round chicken or fish

Sauces and Soups – ie Garlic Mayo/Alioli, Wild garlic and nettle soup, Salsa Verde, wild garlic gremolata

Noodles/Rice – Add to a stir fry.  Lovely in Singapore noodles.

Instead of Spinach/wilted greens in any recipe.   As a vegetable dish

Eggs – top scrambles eggs, use in omlette/totilla

Indian – in a Bhargi/Chapati

Pesto or Sauce Verde – either garlic only or garlic and nettle.

Vinegar  – add chopped leaves to cider vinegar, shake every day for 6 weeks, strain and bottle.

Wild garlic flower pesto
Wild garlic flower pesto