Monday, 28 September 2015

Tear-apart marigold and pumpkin seed focaccia recipe

marigold and pumpkin seed focaccia

I baked this for my edible flower supper club recently. It didn't last long - guests devoured it. A word about flour. Mostly, one uses strong bread flour with high protein to make bread. Most Italians use tipo 00 flour to make focaccia which gives a fine light texture, a bit like an Aero chocolate bar, and a golden colour. Be aware however that there are several types of 00 flour: the 00 refers only to the grind, i.e. very fine. Look at the protein on the packet and choose a high protein 00 flour, it can range from 6º to 12.5º. Up to 10º, use it for pasta, over 10º, use it for pizza bases, Italian breads and focaccia. More protein, more gluten. Sorry coeliacs but love me some gluten. 
Marigolds are the basis for calendula, the cream which is very good for your skin. Regarding the pumpkins seeds and oil, obviously the very best is from Austria, Styria but ordinary pumpkins seeds and oil will do fine. 

Tear-apart marigold and pumpkin seed focaccia recipe

Serves 8

Prep time: 30 minutes plus rising plus 30 minutes baking time.

500g strong bread flour or high protein 00 flour
10g sea salt
7g quick yeast
1 tbsp of honey
320ml luke warm water
20g coarse semolina
50ml pumpkin seed oil
70g pumpkin seeds
Petals from 2 or 3 marigolds
Marigold petals to garnish

Mix the flour and the salt.
Mix the water, the honey and the water separately. Leave to froth.
Then mix everything together, add the semolina, marigold petals, pumpkin oil and seeds. Knead for ten minutes.
Leave in an oiled bowl covered with cling film to rise for one hour or leave it overnight in the fridge to rise slowly.
Then tip the dough carefully out onto a floured surface and cut the dough into 8 pieces. One will be the centre and the other 7 will be shaped, delicately by pinching, as petals. Join the petals to the centre round and using a sharp knife slash the shape of the flower as above. Place the dough flower onto a silpat or parchment paper on a flat baking tray. Preheat the oven to 200ºc.
Leave to rise for another half an hour then bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove from the oven, scatter marigold petals over the top, the red salt and drizzle over some more pumpkin seed oil. 
marigold and pumpkin seed focaccia

Friday, 25 September 2015

Recipe: fresh floral lasagne with ricotta, sage and butter

How to make fresh floral pasta

Fresh flower pasta with ricotta and sage butter recipe

Fresh pasta is time consuming although remarkably easy if you will have a pasta machine. This is my recipe for flowery herby pasta which is so incredibly pretty. There is a vegan version of this recipe in my book V is for Vegan.

Fresh flower pasta with ricotta and sage butter recipe

300g 00 flour
1 tsp sea salt
3 eggs, beaten
Geranium petals (not Pelargoniums)
Herbs such as sage or dill
Nasturtium flowers
Marigold petals
Fine semolina for dusting
250g of ricotta (if making lasagne) seasoned with salt and pepper
Salted butter
Sage leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
Pecorino or parmesan (optional)

How to make fresh floral pasta

If using a food processor, put the flour and salt in the machine and pulse. With the motor running, gradually add the beaten eggs to the mixture, a large drop at a time. Gradually the mixture should look like couscous. If it is too lumpy, add more flour.
Then remove the dough from the food processor and knead by hand for five minutes.
If making the pasta by hand, put the flour in a mound on a clean work top. Make a well in the centre and add the salt and eggs. Using a fork, mix the sides with the eggy centre, eventualy bringing the mixture together into a ball. Then knead for five minutes.

Cover the kneaded dough with a damp tea towel or cling film and leave it to rest for half an hour. (This stage is very important, leaving the dough to rest you will see that it is far more malleable afterwards).

Screw your pasta machine to a work surface with the handle closest to you. Unwrap the pasta and flatten it with your hand. Run it through the machine on the widest setting, then fold the pasta tongue in half and thread it through again, with the unfolded end going through first. Do this around ten times, you will feel the pasta become more elastic. If you hear a little pop sound at the folded end, you know it is ready.
Then run the pasta through the machine on the narrower setting. Add geranium petals, dill fronds, nasturtium flowers and leaves, sage or other herbs on settings 4, 5, 6. Keep running the pasta through the machine on narrower and narrower settings until the pasta will be very fine, till the point you can see your hand through it.  The flowers and herbs will stretch as you go.  Keep going until the last setting when it will be three times as long. You'll probably need to cut it in half during this process.
When you have rolled it through notch 8, lay the lasagne out to dry on a large clean table, cutting it into sections of about 15cm in length. Leave to dry overnight.
To make fettucini 
Either roll it loosely and cut into noodles or run it through a fettucini attachment.
Now you have made your pasta you want to prevent it from sticking. Sprinkle a thick layer of fine semolina on a tray and spread the pasta in coiled nests on top. You could also hold this tray underneath the machine so that the pasta falls straight into the semolina flour. Sprinkle the nests with more flour.
You can leave this to dry for 24 hours then freeze it if not using straight away.
To cook the pasta, add plenty of sea salt to a large saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta for 1 to 5 minutes until it floats to the surface. Don't walk away from the stove! This cooks quickly.
Fettucini version: Drain the pasta and toss with salted butter, sage leaves, salt and pepper to taste. You could also dust a little pecorino or parmesan on top.

Fresh flower pasta with ricotta and sage butter recipe

I cooked 3 to 4 leaves of lasagne per person, draining it in a colander then sandwiching it with fresh ricotta cheese and drizzling it with the sage and butter. I wouldn't cook more than say 8 leaves at a time, you don't want them to stick together. So serve guests two by two.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Biscuit recipes for dipping into sweet wines

wine biscuits: biscuits roses de reims and pistachio cantuccini

biscuits roses de reims

Sweet Biscuit Recipes for dipping into wines

Long ago bakers discovered that if you bake something (two) cuit (cooked) it becomes crunchy and lasts longer hence the name biscuits. 
One of the earliest biscuits is the Ships Biscuit or hard tack as it's often known. It required baking four times to a rock hard consistency,  in order to withstand the dampness of being at sea for long voyages. This was served at every meal. I've made hard tack for a historical supper club based on the books of Patrick O'Brian author of Master and Commander. I baked them twice rather than four times, but still had to warn guests that I would not be responsible for their dental bills.

Sweet and savoury

The British are biscuit lovers; unlike the French we eat cheese with biscuits rather than with bread as the French do. 
We also love to dunk them in tea. In France they will often dunk buttered (unsalted) bread into their coffee (making an early 'bullet proof' coffee) but when they dunk biscuits on the continent, they prefer to dunk into alcohol.
In my Patrick O Brian supper club I made ratafias, a little like macaroons, which they would drink but not dunk in a glass of Madeira wine.
You could try this gorgeous amber Madeira wine from Portugal, Henriques & Henriques Malvasia 10 Years at £18 a bottle. 
In Italy they dunk Biscotti into Vin Santo (Holy wine) but the original Vin Santo comes from Greece, which winetrust stocks, Santorini Vinsanto, Argyros Estate at £26. This fortified wine  is comprised of three native grapes (80% Assrytiko, 10% Athrini, 10% Aidani) from Santorini, a hot, dry volcanic island that grows vines in a low lying basket shape to avoid destruction by the winds. 
Another sweet Italian dry biscuit is Cantucci, sometimes called Cantuccini. What is the difference between Biscotti and Cantucci? According to one source it's that Biscotti are larger and contain fat. I'd try these with a low alcohol (only 5.5%) white refreshing Italian Vajra Moscato d'Asti at £12.95.
In Puglia they dip Taralli, a dry crunchy plain biscuit which is either sweet or savoury tied into a knot, into wine. Taralli are one of the oldest food stuffs, the recipe originally hails from Greece. I'd recommend a Sicilian wine Zibbibo, Gibelè, at £11.75 for dipping purposes. 

In Spain anise and olive oil thin Tortas de Aceite, a kind of thin flaky sweet and salty crispbread, are popular eaten with cheese, coffee and sherry. There are different flavours, some with orange or lemon. 
Dip these into a dry fino sherry 'Innocente', from Valdespino, Jerez at £8.95 or a Castano dulce at £15, the latter particularly good with a cheese board.

In France, in the champagne region, there is a celebrated speciality 'biscuits roses de reims', a sugary pink boudoir style biscuit that I have tried to recreate. Actually I think mine are tastier because I've added rose water. The recipe is below. Dip these into champagne or sparkling wines such as a pretty pink Moscato, Innocent Bystander at only £5.75 for a half bottle or going more upmarket in terms of pink fizz, an English 'champagne' style Nyetimber Rosé Brut at £35.00 or classic champagne such as Gremillet Rosé d'Assemblage Brut at a bargainous £25!

Here are a couple of recipes for you to try at home, the perfect end for a dinner party. 
Home made biscuits roses de reims

Biscuits Roses de Reims with rosewater

The original recipe is a secret so I spent several days testing and this is the closest I could get to it. I added rosewater which isn't in the original recipe, and actually I think this is a bit nicer. If you don't like rosewater you could leave it out.
I'd get out a few bowls for this to weigh your ingredients into, otherwise it's easy to make a mistake with the order of ingredients. 
These will be piped by hand so they won't look exactly like the Biscuits Roses de Reims but they will look like funky sponge fingers.
Pistachio cantuccini
Do you have any biscuit and booze combinations that you like? Do let us know in the comments. 

wine and biscuits: biscuits roses de reims and pistachio cantuccini

Friday, 18 September 2015

Butternut squash, apricot, pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and bulgar wheat tagine with rose harissa (Vegan/Vegetarian)

Butternut squash, apricot, pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and bulgar wheat tagine with rose harissa

I've been playing with my tagine recently. The one I have is made of fine white porcelain, designed by Sophie Conran at Portmeirion (£63 but do shop around, you can get it cheaper on other sites). It looks so elegant, one can scarcely believe that you can use it directly on heat but you can. I use it on the top of my Aga, but it's also safe to put it in the oven. 
A tagine, sometimes spelt tajine, is a kind of stewpot with a funnel shaped lid, the shape of which encourages condensation which runs up and then down the inside of the cone. This makes for beautifully moist stews without the dilution of flavour and overcooking that can occur in a normal stew.
Obviously in Morocco they generally use it for meat stews and occasionally fish. I've been creating gorgeous vegetable stews, using Middle Eastern spices and employing a range of sweet and sour flavours, very typical of that region. We used to cook like that here in Europe, in the Middle ages; this is where mince pies came from, which were originally made with minced meat as well as dried fruit and spices. Eventually the meat part was 'lost' and we have the purely sweet mince pies that we eat at Christmas today.
Another tweak I do is to put the couscous or say bulgar wheat in the tagine and make a kind of one pot stew. Usually a tagine stew is eaten with bread or couscous made separately. Bulgar wheat works very well as it cooks quickly, taking the same length of time as the vegetables. For that reason you may also use quick cook couscous rather than the proper stuff. Normally I wouldn't let you do that you see. I'd come round your houses and shout at you all. NO QUICK COOK COUS COUS, NO QUICK COOK PASTA EITHER WHILE I'M ABOUT IT. I'm so wasted as a blogger. I really should be in charge of everything.

Butternut squash, apricot, pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and bulgar wheat tagine with rose harissa

Butternut squash, apricot, pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and bulgar wheat tagine with rose harissa

Serves 4

300g bulgar wheat
1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, chopped into 2.5cm (1 inch) squares
1 tsp of smoked sweet paprika
Olive oil
Maldon sea salt
Vegetable oil
2 medium onions or 6 shallots, peeled, diced
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cinnamon stick
1 tsp cumin, ground
1 tsp coriander, ground
2 tbsps of ras el hanout
1/4 tsp of cloves, ground
150ml of vegetable stock
a handful of dried apricots, torn in half
50g pumpkin seeds
2 to 4 preserved lemons, cut up small
Fresh coriander leaves
Argan oil
Rose harissa

Firstly, let's get the bulgar wheat ready. I use the same technique as I do for couscous, carefully spelt out in my book V is for Vegan. You've bought it, right?
Spread the bulgar wheat out on a tray and sprinkle it with boiled salty water. Repeat another twice at intervals of about ten minutes.
While that's going on, prep all the veg.
Put the butternut squash on a baking tray, toss it in some olive oil and shake some paprika, crumble some sea salt on it. Place in the oven for ten minutes. Remove and set aside.
Put the tagine onto your stove top on a low heat, add the vegetable oil and soften the onions for about ten minutes or so. Then add the garlic and spices. Add the butternut squash squares and the bulgar wheat.
Add around 150ml of vegetable stock and the apricots. Put the lid on and let it cook for around 20 minutes. Then check the bulgar wheat is cooked, if not continue to cook. At this point you can also put in the pumpkin seeds.
When the tagine is ready, stir in the preserved lemons. Garnish with fresh coriander, a dribble of Argan oil and dot with rose harissa.

I also did another one with couscous, carrots, black olives and mulberries. Basically you can shove any pleasing combo of veg/salty thing/sweet dried fruit. It's all good. If you don't have a tagine then you can use a heavy bottomed saucepan or casserole dish with a tightly fitting lid. Not as pretty, granted, but still works. (C'mon you know you want a weirdy cone dish on your kitchen shelves at heart, it's so very Habitat innit?).

Butternut squash, apricot, pumpkin seed, preserved lemon and bulgar wheat tagine with rose harissa

Don't forget this Sunday 20th September, an edible flower supper club. Tickets here.

Monday, 14 September 2015

Harvest festival: recipe for apple, blackberry and rosewater pie

So it's back to school time now, 'la rentrée' as the French call it. New school bags, shoes and pencil cases have been bought. In gardens and parks, it's time to harvest blackberries, while apple and pear trees are drooping with ripe fruit. The leaves are turning, conkers are dropping, the bonfire smell of a smouldering wood fire emanates from North London homes, many of which still have working fireplaces. 
After a rainy night you can even find mushrooms on the Heath; after one such lucky morning, I fried oyster mushrooms, scraped off a bent and mossy bough, speckled with garlic, butter and white wine, for breakfast. Autumn is the time for harvest, to gather and preserve food before winter.

Here is a recipe which will use up all that ripe fruit, a harvest festival apple, blackberry and rose water pie, adapted from a recipe in my book MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party (Square Peg). Rose water matches well with apple, as orange flower water does with carrots; florals bring drama to ordinary ingredients. I had fun making the pastry decorations, using a leaf mould and a sharp knife. This is an activity you can share with the children. If lacking time or confidence, feel free to make a plain unadorned lid, just make sure you cut a cross in the middle, to allow steam to escape.
Here is the recipe in my monthly column in the Ham and High. You can part-bake and freeze this pie, for use later this winter.

I'm hosting a Secret Garden Club edible flower workshop and supper club on September 20th. Tickets can be bought here.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Recipe: cauliflower and almond curry

Cauliflower is very fashionable nowadays, in fact one amazon 'reviewer' of my book V is for Vegan said he judges all cookbooks by whether they had a cauliflower recipe in it! Apparently my book failed the cauliflower test. Oh well. If I'd known it was a criteria...
Some people don't like cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, so a curried cauliflower is a good option because it covers up the taste! I also tried out a couple of new products I've been sent a few months ago, HolyLama spice drops and Amira basmati rice. (This is not a sponsored post, I'm not being paid to write this. I feel I have to explain this as so many blogs carry sponsored posts nowadays and I don't.)
This recipe is inspired by a cauliflower recipe in Camellia Panjabi's 50 great curries of India. (Get it, it's brilliant.)
She advises using authentic Indian Kashmiri chillies and while five may seem a lot, they are mild and merely give depth of flavour. I ordered mine from Amazon.

Cauliflower and almond curry

This recipe is a cinch if you have a powerful blender like a vitamix or a food processor to make the onion, tomato, coconut 'gravy'.

Time to prep and cook: 30 to 40 minutes

Serves 4

Vegetable or groundnut oil or coconut oil
2 medium onions, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
5cm fresh ginger, peeled, diced finely
4 tomatoes, quartered
half a pack of creamed coconut
5 dried Indian chillies
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 cinnamon stick
4 peppercorns or 2 drops Holy Lama Spice Drops in black pepper flavour
1/2 tsp ground cloves
2 cm nub of fresh turmeric or 1 tbsp of ground turmeric
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp tamarind paste
50g flaked almonds
1 whole cauliflower, leaves removed, cut into largish florets (not too small)

Using a deep saute pan or frying pan, add the onions, fry in a little oil, until soft then put aside in a small bowl.
Do the same with the garlic and ginger, fry briefly, put aside in the same small bowl.
Boil a kettle and soften the creamed coconut in its plastic bag, in a heatproof jug full of boiled water.
Using the same frying pan, temper the chillies, mustard seeds, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, pepper, cloves, turmeric, paprika. Temper is the proper word for briefly frying or toasting these spices to bring out the flavour.
In your blender or food processor, put the onions, ginger, garlic, tomatoes, creamed coconut, chillies, spices and tamarind paste. Grind until smooth.
Put the paste back into the deep frying pan.
You can add the raw cauliflower florets if you don't mind them a little crunchy in texture but you could also pop a colander over the boiling rice and slightly steam the cauliflower to soften it.
Then add the cauliflower and almonds to the spice/coconut paste and heat up gently. Add water or coconut milk if you want the sauce to be more liquid. Salt to taste.
Serve with white rice, and a yoghurt and cucumber raitha.
This curry like all curries, tastes even better the following day.

Amira Basmati rice

This stuff is well posh; lovely aromatic long basmati grains. All the top Indian restaurants, like Gymkhana, use Amira and you can buy it in most UK supermarkets. I've cooked it a couple of times before and it was either too hard or too soft. This time I succeeded but I used a rice steamer. You must soak it first for at least half an hour then rinse it a few times until the water is clear. I think the amount of water you use in the cooking is crucial, not too much or too little. Here is a link to a post on how to cook basmati. I really don't know enough about basmati rice: I need to visit India to find out.
I used the saffron Holy Lama spice drops to flavour the cooked rice. The cheap way of making basmati look like pilao (pulao) is to add a pinch of yellow food colouring then fork it through. Or you can pound a few strands of real saffron in a mortar and add it that way. The spice drops worked well, adding flavour but not colour however.

Monday, 7 September 2015

Recipe: Spaghetti with bottarga

Spaghetti with bottarga
Spaghetti with sliced bottarga, lemon zest, chilli and pea shoots.

I've come quite late to bottarga. But this is the most incredible ingredient. How to describe it? It is compressed fish roe from tuna or grey mullet, which sounds kind of yucky but in reality is instant umami flavour. Grey mullet is more expensive. I bought it for the first time in Istanbul, encased in beeswax, where it was cheap. In the UK it's pricey. Here is a list of places you can buy it:

  • The Fish Society: 90g is £15.50p plus postage £10
  • On Amazon: 90g is £19.50p plus £3.99 postage
  • Delicatezza: 100g is £9.99 plus £6.95 outside and free in London with £20 minimum order. (I've also used these guys for their fantastic burrata). So this is probably the best deal.
  • Waitrose sometimes has it ready grated in jars, but it probably isn't as good.

Basically, you need to find a bottarga dealer. I was talking with Anglo Italian chef Joe Hurd about where to score it: he has a bottarga bloke who fishes lumps of it out of his backpack when persuaded to with the help of several glasses of vino.
I have several versions of this super simple recipe. it's as easy as opening a jar of pesto.

Spaghetti with grated bottarga, butter, parsley, black pepper and lemon juice

Serves 2 to 5

500g of very good quality spaghetti (11 mins cooking time)
Sea salt for water, a decent amount that penetrates the spag
100g salted butter
1 lemon, zest and juice
45g bottarga, finely grated
A fist of flat leaf parsley, picked from the stems
A good few turns of fresh black pepper

Cook the pasta in boiling salty water for a minute or two less than packet time. 
Strain and sling it back in the hot pan, toss in the butter.
Grate in the lemon zest (taking care not to touch the white bitter part) and squeeze in the juice.
Dish it up and grate on the bottarga, scatter some parsley, grind on the pepper.

Spaghetti with sliced bottarga, lemon zest, chilli and pea shoots

Serves 2 to 5

500g spaghetti (11 mins cooking time)
Sea salt for water
100ml olive oil
1 lemon, zested
1 tbsp of chilli flakes (pepperoncino if you have it)
45g bottarga, finely grated
50g pea shoots (available at Waitrose and Sainsburys)

Cook the pasta in boiling salty water for a minute or two less than packet time. 
Strain and sling it back in the hot pan, toss in the oil
Grate in the lemon zest (taking care not to touch the white bitter part).
Dish it up and grate on the bottarga, scatter some chilli flakes, dot around the pea shoots.

Spaghetti with grated bottarga, lemon zest, broccoli, almonds, garlic

Serves 2 to 5

500g spaghetti (11 mins cooking time)
Sea salt for water
1 head of broccoli, split into florets
1 clove garlic, grated
50g slithered almonds
100ml olive oil
1 lemon, zested and juice of 1/2 a lemon
45g bottarga, finely grated

Cook the pasta in boiling salty water for a minute or two less than packet time. 
Put a colander over the pasta saucepan with the broccoli florets inside. This will steam them.
At the same time, have another pan on the go, to briefly fry the broccoli, almonds, garlic.
Strain the broccoli florets after five minutes of steaming and fry it in a little olive oil in the other pan, adding the garlic and almonds.
Strain the pasta and sling it back in the hot pan, toss in the oil
Grate in the lemon zest (taking care not to touch the white bitter part) and squeeze in the lemon juice into the pasta.
Add the broccoli, garlic, almond mixture into the pasta.
Dish it up and grate on the bottarga.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

Better than Blue Nun: Austrian and German wines

Waxy yellow potatoes in Austria cooked in vegetable stock, white asparagus, hollandaise sauce. 

German and Austrian wines have a slightly dodgy reputation - sweet white sickly wines like Blue Nun and Liebfraumilch - but this is a dated attitude. Although this article still hates German wines. During my visit to Berlin and Vienna, I drank German and Austrian wines with most meals and I was impressed. 
The most famous German grape is Riesling, mostly grown near the Rhine river, but also further south, in the Alsace and in parts of Austria. Riesling has a strong character, with petrol notes, which can be a bit controversial. The vines, being so northerly, are picked very late, much later than other wines, starting at the end of September and even onto January, unlike wines in more southern regions of the world, where picking begins in August. For this reason German wines are labelled in terms of how late they are picked, a system called Prädikatswein, with different levels of lateness/ripeness starting with kabinett, Spatlese then Auslese, beerenauslese, eiswein, and finally Trockenbeerenauslese When wines are picked later in the season, they generally have a higher sugar content; the higher the sugar content, the more ageing a wine can stand. Good Rieslings can be aged for between ten and thirty years. 
Most Rieslings are fairly sweet, but there are also dry ones. Look for the words trocken (dry), halbtrocken (half-dry, quite sweet), feinherb (a bit sweeter) and lieblich (sweet, usually of lower quality). I find as I grow older, I enjoy sweeter wine such as dessert wines: beerenauslese, eiswein, and Trockenbeerenauslese are delicious as end of meal wines especially with a cheese board.
Riesling is one of the few wines that can be drunk with sushi and Asian food in general - anything from a strong oily spicy Indian curry, a citrus coriander light Vietnamese pho, a zingy Thai hot and sour soup or a Chinese stir fry. 
The most famous Austrian grape is Gruner Veltliner or 'gru-ve', much flintier than Riesling. In various tastings Gruner Veltliner has consistently beaten top French whites.  In Vienna I visited a 'heuriger', something similar to a beer garden, but for wines. Vienna is fairly unique in having vineyards actually within the city. When the wine garden is open, a garland of pine cones is hung over the door (as can be seen in the picture above). Traditionally, heurige only serve the wine that they make, generally a young wine. In fact 'heurige' means 'this years wine'. I sat in the garden and ate plates of cheeses, pickles, or liptauer (a cheesy pimento dip) while listening to accordion music. Although the weather was sweltering, it was a pleasant evening under the vine-covered trellis in the shade, with lederhosen-clad jolly hosts slapping one on the back. Definitely a sight not to be missed if you visit Austria.
Read the rest of the article on where you can try out some great German or Austrian wines.

Don't forget to come and see myself and Winetrust's Master of Wines, Nick Adams, at the Bury St Edmunds theatre on September 8th. This is an original Regency theatre and all proceeds go to help support this theatre. It is an evening of conversation where I will be talking about my books (you can also buy signed copies) and discussing wine matches with Nick. There will be wine tasting for the audience too.
Book tickets here:

Friday, 4 September 2015

London's best vegan restaurants and cafés

Food at Manna vegan restaurant, Primrose Hill

Burger at Black Cat Café, Clapton, London
Dishes at Vanilla Black, London

I wrote this piece for The Londonist on the best vegan places to eat in London. I've probably missed some out so do feel free to comment below if you know any good ones. Let me know if you've eaten at any on the list and what you think of them.
And remember, if you are vegan, do make the effort to eat at these places or they won't last. Use 'em or lose 'em. Comment below to add to my list!

Here is the link to the Londonist piece: London's best vegan restaurants

Wednesday, 2 September 2015

Appearing at Bury St. Edmunds theatre next week

I'm doing a show at the Theatre Royal Bury St. Edmunds in Suffolk next week Tuesday 8th of September.
I'll be talking about supper clubs, my books, eating less meat, food trends, how to be a blogger, food photography, how to plan a dinner party and my journey through the world of food. There will be a chance to buy signed copies of my books.
Later in the show, Nick Adams, master of wine for and I will be discussing wine; what goes with curry, why German wines are underestimated, what to drink with smoked salmon, and hopefully turning a few clichéd ideas about wine on its head. You'll also get to taste some wine.
The theatre itself is an original Regency theatre, an absolutely beautiful architectural gem, and this evening is raising funds for its restoration and upkeep.
If you live anywhere near the area, please do come and show your support!
Tickets are from £8.50p to £16.50p Book here or phone the box office: 01284769505

Tuesday, 1 September 2015

Jamaican Chocolate Tea recipe in House and Garden

Jamaican chocolate tea
This weekend the Notting Hill carnival, the largest outdoor street party in Europe, took place. Unfortunately summer in the UK appears to have finished rather abruptly, it poured with rain, so you are more likely to want a hot drink than a tropical rum punch. To that end here is a Caribbean recipe for- not hot chocolate but chocolate 'tea' which is made with water rather than milk. You can buy the authentic ingredients, cinnamon leaves, chocolate pastilles, a little overproofed rum, at Caribbean shops. Follow the link to House and Garden for the recipe which appears in MsMarmitelover's Secret Tea Party. I have a whole chapter on drinks in the book, from teapot cocktails, to Georgian punch, to all the different kinds of tea.
I'm one of the judges for the Great British Spiced Chocolate Challenge. The competition is open to amateurs and professionals and one of the prizes is a trip to Grenada!
You can buy the chocolate tea kit here.
Jamaican chocolate tea