Asian Slaw

I had one of those moments today. You go into a shop and pick the S/M dress of the hanger. A few minutes later, peering out from behind the curtain I had to ask the assistant for the M/L.

Don't worry, I'm not about to go all popcorn on you but I did feel the need for a salad tonight. I had most of the ingredients below ready to go, all that was needed was fresh mint and a sweetheart cabbage. 

We ate it for dinner and felt virtuous. 

Asian slaw

Prep time – 20 minutes
Cook time – 5 minutes


120g vermicelli noodles (sometimes known as glass noodles)
½ head sweetheart cabbage
¼ small head red cabbage
60g mange tout, sliced on the diagonal
1 large green chili, deseeded and finely chopped
8 small spring onions, finely sliced
a large bunch of mint, roughly chopped
100g salted, roasted peanuts, roughly chopped

For the dressing
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp caster sugar
Juice & zest of two limes

1/ Start by soaking your noodles in boiling water for 3-4 minutes. Drain and run under cool water until the noodles are separated. A trick I’ve learnt is to take scissors to your noodles at this point, cutting them into shorter length; scissors are the most efficient utensil for making the noodles a little more manageable to eat.
2/ Meanwhile make your dressing. Allow it to sit for a few minutes, if you have the time. The garlic will infuse with the lime juice and it will taste all the better.
3/ The next step is super simple. Put all the ingredients in a large bowl (keep a few peanuts back for decoration).  Pour over the dressing and use a ‘lifting’ motion to make sure the whole salad is dressed.
4/ Serve with a few more peanuts sprinkled on top.


Nutella Clouds

I spotted one of those jars of nutella today. You know, one that turns into a glass when you've finished. It brought back lots of memories of being young and taking chocolate finger-fulls and then proudly drinking orange juice from my chocolate cup. I felt all inspired. 

I baked these biscuits. Perfect with coffee. In fact, tomorrow, I'm going to go all Italian and just have a cloud and strong coffee for breakfast - sod the cereal. 

Nutella Clouds 

100g butter, softened
100g caster sugar
100g ground almonds
100g plain flour 
a few spoonfuls of nutella

1/ Preheat the oven to 180C
2/ Beat the butter and sugar together until you have a thick, smooth paste. Work in the ground almonds and flour until your paste becomes dough. Divide into 20 bits and roll each into the shape of walnuts. Place on a non stick baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes, or until golden. 
3/ Cool and smother with nutella. Sandwich and dunk into coffee. 



Life lately

This week has been a busy week. We've all moved house and settled in a new street with new sounds and each with a new commute. I've busied myself with tidying and putting and getting things 'just so' and I couldn't be happier.  

Now it is back to real life, I have lots of work piling up. Testing coffee recipes is top of the list; can you get a caffeine hit without a paper cup?


Sweet, Sweet Potato Dahl

My friend Emily has come home from India. In the mother of all romantic stories she met a Indian boy and moved there 5 years ago. Now married, with two beautiful brown skinned babies, we don't see her very often. But this week she came home and I'm going to cook her my version of her favourite thing; dahl. 

This recipe is taken from my book. 


Whoever said lentils were bland? With the addition of just a few delicate spices this recipe makes for a beautifully aromatic and chunky dhal: a delicious accompaniment for a curry or a simple lunch to take to the office. Be sure to transform yours with a generous spoonful of Greek yogurt and some torn coriander; after all, even a simple dhal deserves to be dressed for the table.


200g yellow split peas
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
½ teaspoon chilli flakes
1 teaspoon garam masala
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
400ml coconut milk
300g sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped into small cubes
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
150ml vegetable stock
3 tablespoons chopped coriander
2 tablespoons whole almonds
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

1 Cover the split peas with cold water and leave to soak overnight. The following morning, drain, rinse and set aside.

2 Heat the olive oil in a deep, flameproof casserole. Add the onion and cook for a couple of minutes until beginning to caramelise. Add the chilli flakes, garam masala, turmeric, cumin and chopped ginger to the pot and cook for another minute to soften the ginger.

3 Add the coconut milk, split peas, diced sweet potatoes, chopped tomatoes and vegetable stock. Season well, cover and simmer for 1 hour until the dhal is deliciously thick and the lentils are falling apart. Top up with more stock if you think the dahl is becoming dry. Serve with the chopped coriander and whole almonds.


Itsu at home

This week is moving house week for us. There are walls of cardboard boxes that look efficient but hide a multitude of gubbins. 

Last night we had packed all the cutlery but I saved a posh pot noodle for dinner. Itsu is my go-to take out, I think it reminds me of my Asian travels in a 'West does East' sort of way. 

The pot made me excited that I might be able to have Itsu inside my doorstep, just one kettle boil away. It was good. Quite good. The ingredients list is quite transparent which was impressive but sadly they lacked the flavour hit of their fresher counterparts. But the noodles were slurpy and comforting and the broth was warm and salty. 

I think I will always have one hiding in reserve for those moments that you can't face washing up. 

Now I must get back to the boxes... 


Strawberry & Rose Cheesecake

I did it. I adapted a recipe from BBC Good Food - I trust their recipes - but I added a little rose water which was lovely. 

Strawberry & Rose Cheesecake

250g digestive biscuits
100g butter, melted
1 vanilla pod
600g soft cheese
100g icing sugar
300ml pot double cream
½ tsp rose water

A few strawberries, quartered
sugared rose petals
fresh mint

1/ Make the base: Butter and line a 23cm loose-bottomed tin with baking parchment. Put 250g digestive biscuits in a plastic food bag and crush to crumbs using a rolling pin. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, then pour over 100g melted butter. Mix thoroughly until the crumbs are completely coated. Tip them into the prepared tin and press firmly down into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for 1 hr to set firmly.
2/ Remove the vanilla seeds from 1 pod: Slice the vanilla pod in half lengthways, leaving the tip intact, so that the two halves are still joined. Holding onto the tip of the pod, scrape out the seeds using the back of a kitchen knife.
3/ Make the filling: Place 600g soft cheese, 100g icing sugar, rose water and the vanilla seeds in a bowl, then beat with an electric mixer until smooth. Tip in 284ml pot double cream and continue beating until the mixture is completely combined. Now spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base, working from the edges inwards and making sure that there are no air bubbles. Smooth the top of the cheesecake down with the back of a dessert spoon or spatula. Leave to set in the fridge overnight.
4/ Un-moulding and topping: Bring the cheesecake to room temperature, about 30 mins before serving. To un-mould, place the base on top of a can, then gradually pull the sides of the tin down. Slip the cake onto a serving plate, removing the lining paper and base. Pile strawberries, mint and rose petals onto the top.


Strawberry season

We used to pick strawberries lots as children. It is only now I realise what a good occupation it was; entertainment, child labour and free (healthy) snacking, well worth the slight premium one pays for the privilege. I'd forgotten how lovely the air smells and the warm stuffiness of poly tunnels.

The strawberries seem sweet and redder than their previously picked cousins. The fruit sitting next to me seems to be worried it might be squashed in toddlers hands but no, I will make something special. A cheesecake. Yes, I haven't done that for ages. 


1st Birthday

Jasper is one year old and I feel very proud of him. I think I see glimpses of who he might become and what he might say but for now, I will have to be content with having a little friend that I'm yet to have a  conversation with.