Boisdale, Victoria

I'm not sure why Victoria, nearly the most central of all London stations, seems be right in the middle of a restaurant desert. Yes, there are the odd chains; Cafe Rouge, Giraffe and Yo Sushi greet you as you walk off the train but there is very little with any clout. 

Boisdale was a welcome 'pin in the map'. Not simply because of the location but its reputation had preceded it. The live jazz, walk-in humidor and vast selection of whiskies make it a man's restaurant, one to bring the boys to. 

And the food? See below! I'd call that a boys sized portion. We had a lovely evening. I'm glad I wore a black dress and was relieved to have ordered the salmon. 

Top Tip - If you head there soon, there is a top table offer that makes dining here all very doable. 


Crunchy Gooey Cocoa Fancies


I don't know why I do it. I can't stop myself baking sometimes. There is loads to do; appointments to be booked, washing to be washed, cars to be serviced, calls to be made and e-mails answered but something makes me ignore the list and bake. 

Today I followed a recipe that an American friend sent. It's incredible. Just egg whites, a little salt, cocoa powder, coffee granules and icing sugar. That is it. 8 minutes in the oven. From reading the recipe to dipping the chewy blobs into your tea could be less than 20 minutes. 

You have to try them!! 



Crunchy Gooey Cocoa Fancies

250g icing sugar
1/4 tsp salt 
1 tsp instant coffee granules
85g cocoa powder 
3 large egg whites

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C. Get your baking sheets all ready and lined with paper.

2/ Stir or whisk the icing sugar, egg whites, instant coffee granuals, salt and cocoa powder until lovely and smooth.

3/ Drop the mixture onto the baking sheet in little circles; about 1-2 inches wide.

4/ Bake for 8 minutes. Allow to cool for a minute or two. Now dunk or don’t dunk. What ever you prefer.  


La Choza, Brighton

I really did run a half marathon on Sunday. It was sunny, we ran by the sea and the locals were cheering all 10,000 of us. Lots of moments spurred me on; a kind man in a wheelchair saying, 'I wish I could run too', a little boy handing out warm jelly babies and the thought that the babysitter needed releasing. My favourite 'steer' was a banner reading, 'think what you can have for lunch'. 

So I spent most of the following eleven miles deciding exactly that. A shower and a mars bar later, with wobbly legs and baby in tow, my fellow altheletes hobbled to La Choza, the best burrito bar in Brighton and easily my first choice. Smokey pulled pork burrito, mexican rugs and a shot of tequila, now that really sorted us out. 


Blood Oranges

Blood oranges have a tiny season. I'm not really sure when it is. I just happen upon them once in a while, take my chance, and buy a bagful. These were all wrapped in that lovely paper that makes you feel like they must have come from somewhere nice. 

I turned them into a orange cake. It's a clever recipe that lots of you are probably familiar with: you boil two whole oranges for a hour then whiz them (pips and all) with eggs, ground almonds and flour. The result is a perfectly moist 'pudding cake' perfect for tea or a pudding. Just add a blob of creme fraiche.


Terre a Terre, Brighton

Valentine's day and a horsemeat scandal to boot meant Terre a Terre couldn't have been a better choice for Feb 14th.

After 4 months recovering from a kitchen fire this restaurant has come back fighting. It’s an institution, the waiter told us, ‘we weren’t going anywhere’.  

Forget any preconceptions of vegetarian food; Terre a Terre will blow your carnivorous mind. Battered Halloumi, beanshoot fritter & hot, smoked tofu serenaded me through, without doubt, the best vegetarian meal I’ve ever had.


Maple Baked Figs

Serves 6

Prep Time – 10 minutes
Cook Time – 35-40 minutes

500ml semi skimmed milk
2 medium eggs
30g unsalted butter, melted
4 tbsp dark brown sugar
75ml maple syrup
4 -5 ripe figs, each cut into 8
1 large cooking apple, peeled and cut into 1cm cubes
200g rolled oats
1 heaped tsp baking powder
1 tsp all spice
pinch of salt
50g flaked almonds

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C, fan 160C, gas 6.
2/ In a small bowl or jug gently whisk the milk, egg, yolk, melted butter, 2 tbsp sugar and maple syrup.
3/ Grease the bottom of a 1 litre dish and tumble half the figs, chunks of apple, oats, baking powder, all spice and salt into the dish. Give everything a good jumble around using your hands or a large spoon.
5/ Gently pour over the milk mixture and allow it to soak in for a few minutes.
6/ Sprinkle the remaining figs, flaked almonds and the remaining sugar onto the mixture.
7/ Bake for 35-40 minutes so the milk has become fully absorbed. Serve whilst still warm with yoghurt for a delicious brunch dish. 


Meat Liquor

May I present another restaurant with one very refined menu; just meat and liquor. When I say meat, I mean pretty much only burgers. Juicy, generous and slightly pink, mine was presented on a retro waxy paper with no cutlery, just a useful roll of kitchen paper.

We sat amongst glaring black and red graffiti, decor not for the  faint hearted and not, I imagine, an interior grandparents would enjoy. 

Music pumped and the atmosphere was edgy. Cocktails flowed and the queue grew throughout the night. We felt like we sat within a London hot spot, the right side of Oxford Street, and I for one, can't wait to go back.


The winning recipe = Mum's

It's always the traditional ones isn't it? I should have known. 

Her ingredients - 

3 eggs and their weight in butter, flour and sugar!! 


Bake off - Mum v Me

Prompted by our homemade jam collection, today mum & I began a victoria sponge competition. Two cakes with two very different recipes. Hers, a old family version that certainly didn't require even a glance at a book. Mine, a Australian recipe that calls for six eggs!

I'll post the results tomorrow and you can judge for yourself.