Sunday, 30 July 2017

The calming power of (caffeine-free) tea

After watching Slumdog Millionaire for the third time this weekend and, once again, succumbing to the uncontrollable sobbing that seems to lend itself so well at the end, I felt I needed a little pick me up. Now, as someone who can't drink caffeine (the jitters seem to hit me very hard), I've been delving into the herbal tea world. I've always been a pretty stalwart fan of Tea Pigs teas - thanks to their commitment to using the whole plant in their pyramid bags, but I have now been introduced to Pukka teas, and I am extremely impressed.  Their interesting and unique flavour blends are simply divine, and not to mention unique, for example turmeric, liquorice & cinammon and elderberry & echinachea; and the blends for example "detox" and "love" (let's see f these work...!), they have that pleasing and wholesome whiff thanks to the ingredients being ethically sourced and organically grown. All very good stuff.  I am currently making my way through a most delightful blend called Womankind, which is a mixture of camomile, cranberry, vanilla and orange.  Let me reassure any fruit tea abstainers - this is not a fruit tea. It is delightfully subtly sweet and it gives you that feeling of having a luxurious pudding after a meal when the waistline / purse is stopping you from having one.  I'm a big fan, and I will be continuing my quest to try out all the Pukka teas in the land.

Friday, 22 July 2016

Banana bread with blueberries

In my fruit bowl lay two very, very overripe bananas, almost quivering with potential and 'readyness'. I'd had it in my mind that I wanted to make some banana bread, but, never having enough time, it kept being postponed. However, today I had some hours off in the afternoon, so I decided to go for it and get creative. I followed the BBC Good Food recipe but made some little tweaks, which I detail for you below (bolded for the differences)... Enjoy, it's a smasher.

Banana bread with blueberries
140g butter
140g golden caster sugar
2 medium eggs (not beaten)
140g self-raising flour
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3 handfuls of blueberries
(no baking power, no icing sugar, no banana chips)
bundt tin (I used my unpatterned one for this recipe - next time, when I'm feeling braver, I'll use my more intricate Scandi tin for a more elaborate cake design!).

Follow the method from the BBC website but just change the ingredients as above. I plopped the blueberries into the last mixing; they do this incredible thing where they burst and start to bleed into the cake; little pockets of juicy heaven. I found that there was no need for baking powder - the cake rises absolutely fine with just the S-R flour.

Thursday, 31 December 2015

Apple and Cinnamon Bundt Cake

This recipe is originally a Martha Stewart recipe and the bundt cake I produced using it was honestly one of the most delicious things I have ever made (and I always say that puddings are not my strong point!). I saw Nigella making a bundt cake in her Christmas programme, but, when I looked online, there were only American recipes for bundt cakes. Therefore I decided to fill the gap and rewrite Martha's recipe using British measures (I don't have cups, y'see). I have adapted the amounts using this marvellous converter which has proven invaluable for my progression into the baking world. I made this recipe for Christmas Day tea time, and it was fantastic with a cup of milky chai tea. Yum yum!

Apple & Cinnamon Bundt Cake

375g plain flour
1-2 tbsp cinammon
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
250g butter, melted
263g brown sugar (soft not granulated)
4 eggs
6 Granny Smith apples, peeled & cored


white icing sugar
boiling water

Martha Stewart's Method

  1. Preheat oven to 150°C or Gas Mark 2. Make the cake: In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
  2. In a large bowl, combine butter, brown sugar, and eggs. Whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in dry ingredients just until combined (do not overmix). Using a rubber spatula, fold in apples. Spoon batter into a 12-cup nonstick Bundt pan, and smooth top. Bake until a tester inserted in cake comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack 15 minutes; invert onto rack to cool completely.
  3. Make the Glaze: Whisk together confectioners' sugar and enough water to form a thick yet pourable glaze. Set rack with cake over a piece of wax paper (for easy cleanup); drizzle cake with glaze, and let set before serving. 
Original photo by Lucy   

Wednesday, 23 December 2015

My killer brownies!

I came across the Jamie Oliver brownie recipe and then, because I didn't have some of the ingredients. adapted it, and the outcome was fantastic!


125g unsalted butter
125g dark (70% cocoa solids) chocolate
25g chopped walnuts (optional) - you could use chocolate chips / cherries / hazelnuts - anything!
73g plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
180g mixed sugars (caster / demerara / muscovado) - use whatever you have
2 large eggs

  1. Set your oven to 180 degrees C / 350 degrees F and lightly butter the bottom and sides of your baking pan (I decided to use a round, spring bottom cake mould).
  2. Break the chocolate into small pieces into a bowl and melt it with the butter over a pan of water on the hob.
  3. Once all melted, take off the heat and add the chopped walnut. Mix in.
  4. In a big mixing bowl, incorporate all the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, baking powder) and then pour in the chocolate, butter, walnut mix. Mix until just merged.
  5. Crack the 2 eggs into the mixture, and, again, mix everything together. I just use a wooden spoon, not an electric whisk, as you don't want to over beat the batter and loose the air.
  6. Pour the mix into your prepared tin and place in the oven for 35 minutes, although do check on it around the 25 minute mark and assess whether it needs any more time. The top should be firm but, ideally, the middle will be gooey and slightly undercooked.
  7. Leave the brownie in its pan for 5 minutes to retract from the sides and then pop it out and eat!

Serving suggestion: have your brownies with a dollop of double cream or ice cream to bring to life the hot/cold match made in heaven and, if you're feeling like you should have one of your five a day, add some raspberries or orange segments to go on the side. These also taste fantastic the next day, when cold, so don't worry about having to eat them only when they are hot. Delicious! 

Sunday, 20 December 2015

Simple canapé ideas

One of my big joys in life is hosting dinner and drinks parties. On Friday I had a very small drinks and canapés party for two of my friends and I made various things to eat. Two of these turned out to be most successful, and I thought I would share them as they are simple and effective (perfect drinks party fare as far as I'm concerned!):

Figs wrapped in prosciutto (serves 3)

6 figs
6 slices of prosciutto
squeezy honey
balsamic vinegar

  1. Chop the very top of each fig and cut a deep (but not to the bottom) cross into the middle of the open top.
  2. Wrap each fig with the prosciutto (this is surprisingly fiddly, as the meat is rather wet feeling so it sort of sticks to the next slice; try not to get the prosciutto to squidged together!) and place onto a non-stick baking tray.
  3. Open the cross up slightly and squeeze a blob of runny honey into it and a dash of balsamic vinegar.
  4. Cook in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until fizzing and oozing!

Asparagus spears wrapped in prosciutto (serves 3)

9 asparagus spears
5 slices of prosciutto

  1. Snap the ends of each asparagus spear, and discard any woody ends.
  2. Carefully cut each slice of prosciutto into half (again, as above, this is surprisingly fiddly, so I would suggest you use good kitchen scissors and a will of iron!).
  3. Wrap each asparagus spear in half a slice of prosciutto; you can do this is any way you like, but I find it best when I wrap it length ways, like a duvet cover, or round and round like a spiral.
  4. Lay each spear onto a non-stick baking tray (I just put them on the same one as the one with the wrapped figs).
  5. Cook in a hot oven (200 degrees C) for 15 minutes or until you want to eat them!
Optional serving choice: these go particularly well with a cold, fizzy prosecco; Italian all the way! 

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Breakfast of eggs, tender stem broccoli, avocado and red onion

Breakfast. The most important meal of the day. Something I have always heard, but, until recently, found it quite difficult to believe. With my morning rush to work an all to very apparent reality, breakfast has always been something that has been put on the back burner. Not any more, however. I think I have found the perfect quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast formula.

Eggs, tender stem broccoli, avocado and red onion
Eggs are the most versatile, beautiful and nutritious sources of protein, so I use them whenever I can. Moreover, the maximum time it takes to cook them is 8 minutes (for hard boiled) and can be as little as 90 seconds (for lightly scrambled), so busy rushers like me can use them often. I like to use Organic eggs if I can (and always free range if I can't buy Organic) as I am a big believer in proper manufacturing methods and happy animals!

Tender stem broccoli is the gorgeously sweet, better looking cousin of regular broccoli. Although slightly more expensive than its original form, it really does prove excellent in this dish as you can simply hand snap it and toss it into the pan. No messing around. I like a good crunch and bite, so I don't like to cook it for too long. Moreover, if there isn't a bite, it is likely to have lost vital nutrients, so keeping it al dente is key.

Avocado is simply a wonderful addition to any dish. I was concerned it wouldn't fit with the hotter elements of the dish, but I was completely wrong. It is a fabulous contrast with its cool creaminess, giving a different texture and temperature to its plate buddies. It really helps to balance out the dish.

Red onion is an ingredient I have come to rather late on in my cooking career; always favouring the normal white onion as it has a punch and a kick, a little like a wayward child. Red onions, however, are much sweeter, and can be cooked in a matter of minutes (and can even be eaten raw, if you're not concerned about your breath!), which makes them ideal for this on the go breakfast.

Ingredients (for 1):

1-2 eggs (small, medium, large, x-large; your choice!)
6 stems of tender stem broccoli
half an avocado
quarter/half a small red onion
chilli oil


1) Put a teaspoon of chilli oil into your non-stick frying pan and gently heat
2) Using your hands, break up the stems of brocolli into 3 inch pieces (i.e. each stem is broken roughly into two). Throw them into the pan and allow them to sizzle. Give the pan a little shake, so that all the broccoli is exposed to the pan and has some oil on it.
3) Chop the red onion into slices. I like them quite chunky, but do chop as you see best (you might want a finer dice, or rings). Throw them into the pan and, again, have a shake around and a mix,
4) Now the broccoli should be getting a little tinge of char on the edges, this is great. Just keep an eye on it as you don't want it to actually just be burnt!
5) Whilst the onions are sweating down and the broccoli is tenderising, now is your chance to prepare the avocado. I like just a half an avocado with this dish, but, if you have a giant appetite, obviously have a whole one. I cut the avocado in half, take out the stone, and then lightly score down to the skin slices. I then use the knife to score round the edge to pop the buttery flesh out onto the plate.
6) The time to prepare the avocado is all you need to finish off the broccoli and onions, so take them off the head and add them, spilling all around, to the avocado.
7) Finally, the egg. I like to do it as a fried egg, but, again, please do it as a poached egg, or even perhaps scrambled. I break the egg into the pan that has been used with the onions and broccoli, as the egg takes on those delicious flavours. Fry for roughly 3 minutes, and then, carefully, using a spatula, flip the egg over, so the yolk stays runny but it has a wonderful crust over it. Fry for another minute tops.
8) Take the egg out of the pan and lay it on top of all the other ingredients. When you cut into the egg its yolk will ooze and spill all over everything, leaving in you in culinary heaven.

Optional extra: Sour dough toast or a warmed through crumpet. These both are wonderfully textured sources of carbohydrates which really lend themselves to dripping eggs and smooth avocado.


Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Perfect Homemade Pasta With Pesto

I was recently given a pasta machine which was something I'd been super excited about using for ages and ages.  Being an absolute Masterchef addict, I'd seen plenty of contestants trying (sometimes successfully, sometimes unsuccessfully) to make pasta; so I decided to give it a good go. With the words of John Terode ringing in my ears about thinness and elasticity, I decided to give it a go.

Serves 1 generously


  • 200g 'OO' (pasta) flour
  • 2 eggs
  • Long workbench
  • Marble slab
  • Pasta machine
  • Fridge
  • Pan
  • Hob
  • Boiling water
  1. Put the flour onto the marble slab. Make a well in the middle.
  2. Crack the eggs into the middle of the well (be careful as they are very slippery!!)
  3. Using your hands break the eggs up and mix the eggs into the flour.
  4. Bring the flour and egg mix together to make a rough dough.
  5. Knead the dough for a good five minutes, until it is glossy and springy to touch. You can test this by putting your thumb into the dough and it should spring back. Use extra flour to ensure it doesn't stick to the marble or your hands too much.
  6. Wrap the dough in a freezer bag or cling film and pop it into the fridge for 30 minutes.
  7. Cut the dough into two pieces and roll the first piece through the pasta machine (your machine should have all the details of how to do this).  Then repeat with the second piece.
  8. With this basic dough, I made some pesto to go with it (whizz basil, lightly toasted pine nuts, garlic, olive oil together using a hand blender), and then made some ravioli (using an upside down wine glass to cut the circles) and, using the wider cutter setting on my pasta machine, tagliatelle.
  9. Once in the desired form, place pasta into boiling water (use oil and / or salt in the water to help keep the pasta unstuck from each other) and cook or 30 seconds for al dente or up to a minute for softer pasta. I like mine with a bit of bite though!

Simple Summer Pavlova

I decided to make a pavlova for a recent dinner party.  In fact, I had planned to make Eton Mess because I had never made meringue before, so was assuming I'd have to cut my losses and smash up the wreck and ruin of my good intentions; but luckily my meringue was perfect, so I was able to make it a full blown pavlova. I read recipes saying I'd need icing sugar, but I didn't have any, so I just winged it with extra caster sugar.  It worked well.  Here is my recipe: 

Serves 4 generously

  • 3 egg whites
  • 4/5 tablespoons of caster sugar + extra according to taste
  • Double cream
  • Strawberries / Nectarines / other soft fruits of your choice
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Two little bowls for separating eggs
  • Electric Whisk
  • Flat baking sheet
  • Greaseproof paper
  • Oven

  1. Separate the eggs, keeping the egg whites and keeping the yolks for another time.
  2. Beat the egg whites on medium speed until fluffy like marshmallow.
  3. Spoon in the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, and beat on high speed until all added. The mixture should now be in peaks and be glossy.
  4. If you like, taste mixture to see if it needs more sugar (add more to taste).
  5. Put the oven onto a very cool setting (almost the lowest you can get!) - I use 120C.
  6. Put grease proof paper on the bottom of a flat tray.
  7. Spoon on the mixture and level it out so that it's as even as possible.
  8. Put the meringue into the oven for 55/60 minutes (or until crisp all over and very slightly coloured).
  9. Turn the oven off, open the door and leave the meringue to cool off in the dry air (this makes it crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside).
  10. Once completely cool, peel the meringue off the greaseproof paper (I used a friend to help me with this as it's very fragile!).
  11. Whip double cream and spread on top of the completely cool meringue and then add the fruit.  I used strawberries and nectarines.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Healthy blueberry pancakes - gluten, sugar free

Ok, so my mind is blown.  Last night I posted on Facebook to see if anyone had any healthy pancake recipes, and I was inundated with a flurry of wonderful-sounding suggestions from my healthy, foodie friends.  One struck a chord, which is gluten-free, sugar-free pancakes made from banana, egg and cinnamon.  Surely that can't taste nice?!  Then I tried it, and, in the words of 50 Shades, oh my:

You will need:
  • 3 egg whites
  • 1 whole egg
  • 1 banana
  • cinnamon
  • blueberries
  • cooking spray
  • hand mixer
  • non-stick frying pan

  1. Separate three eggs into whites and yolks.  Keep the whites, stores the yolks for another time.
  2. Add one whole egg.
  3. Chop a banana into the mix.
  4. Add a sprinkling of cinnamon (be as generous as your like).
  5. Using the hand mixer, blend the lot together until there are no lumps and it's frothy.
  6. Add whole blueberries to the mix.
  7. In a non-stick frying pan, heat up some cooking spray and spoon a dollop into the pan.
  8. Let it bubble and, once the blueberries start to burst, you know it's time to flip.
  9. If the pancake doesn't flip easily, then it isn't quite ready - leave it for 30 seconds more.
  10. Flip it over, and then leave for only 30 seconds max to brown on the other side.
  11. Slide on a pre-warmed dish.
  12. Cover your pancakes in a cloth so they keep warm whilst you cook the rest.
  13. Serve with fresh blueberries (it is plenty sweet enough so no need for sugar) and/or crème fraiche.

Monday, 22 December 2014

What naff Christmas jumper?

Do you remember the time when Christmas jumpers were naff?  So naff that you wouldn't be seen dead in one?  I've been thinking about this recently - with Christmas Jumper Day at work and even National Christmas Jumper Day on Friday 12th December - when did Christmas jumpers become acceptable?  In Bridget Jones's Diary (2001) our queen bee laments Darcy's choice of jumper (green with a large, gaudy reindeer on the front) whereas now, in my humble opinion, gaudier really is better when it comes to winter wear.  Be it polar bears, pompom snow, penguins with stripy scarves or full on Santa-style stuffed red belly jumpers, there is a jumper for everyone and it is now deemed almost unacceptable not to wear one in the Christmas season!  Do you have a favourite Christmas jumper?  In case you were wondering, mine is bright red with white ski chalets and sequinned stars on the top.  Classy, I'd say.

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

My brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me a load of their home grown rhubarb from their allotment and, because it wasn't totally ripe, so not useful for crumbles, I decided to make some jam with it.  I had a look online, and it did seem that ginger was a good match for the acidity and stringy texture of the rhubarb.  I photographed each stage of the process, as I thought it would be cool to do a pictorial method.  I'm not sure about measurements, but, with many things in cookery, it does depend on your tastes, so, do just that, taste as you go along, and add more sugar, less ginger, more lemon etc. depending on whether you want it sweeter, hotter, sourer.

Ingredients & equipment:
  • Rhubarb
  • Lemon
  • Fresh ginger
  • Sugar
  • Water
  • Pan
  • Sterilised jar(s)


Download photo 1.JPG (36.1 KB)  Download photo 2.JPG (33.1 KB)
Ingredients ready to go...              Grate, chop, sprinkle, mix, meld.

 Download photo 3.JPG (35.7 KB)  Download photo 4.JPG (29.6 KB)
Add a small amount of water,        Pour into sterilised jars, leave to
low heat, mix.                                    cool.  Yum yum yum.

Depending on the amount of sugar you put in, this jam is perfect for both sweet and savoury dishes, so use it for Victoria sponges, as a chutney for cheese, on bread / croissants, or, why not just eat it straight out of the jar Nigella-style?  It is that good!

Celebrity families

I have just found something out.  Something that will, I can imagine, change my life forever for the better.  So, I sat down for a TV binge on The Twelve Drinks Of Christmas with Giles Coren and Alexander (Xander) Armstrong.  Now, as I already knew, Giles' sister, Victoria Coren, is married to David Mitchell (love love), but I now realise that Xander is also Giles' brother-in-law, as he is married to Giles' wife's sister.  Fabulous.  Just imagine the BBQs!  The Christmas parties!  Ah, what I would do to be a fly on the wall of, well, pretty much anything with these people. 

Do you know of any other interlinked families to blow my mind?  Do comment below.

Homemade chilli oil

And relax   It is that time of year again, where I am off work and I can finally feel festive.  Last year I marked this occasion by making peanut butter fudge (sublime), so this year I decided to make chilli oil.  I came across this idea through lack of time (a cruel mistress).  I firstly considered making sloe gin / flavoured vodka, but after checking it out online, I realised I needed to have had six months prior, rotating the stuff and nurturing it like a tiny infant.  So - an easier and quicker option was this - but one which, I hope, will be just as appreciated by my family and loved ones this yule tide.

My recipe:
  • Oil - ideally olive oil, but can be a mix of olive and vegetable, e.g. Olivio
  • Whole dried chillies (as big and pretty as possible - remember, they will be looked at!)
  • Dried flaked chillies
  • Bottles (I would suggest the Italian swing lidded type)
  • Small saucepan with a lip
  • Measuring jug with a lip or funnel
  • Cooker

The method is very simple.   Heat the oil in batches (safety first!) over a gentle heat for roughly 3-4 minutes.  The oil should absolutely not smoke or bubble.  In the oil, you should put 3-4 whole, and a good pinch of flaked, chillies.  Whilst you wait for the oil to heat, sterilise your bottles by pouring boiling water into them and draining them out.  Carefully pour the oil (use your initiative for the heat - i.e. don't start pouring boiling hot oil, as it will burn if it touches your skin, leave it to cool slightly) into your measuring jug to make it easier to pour into the bottles (or use a funnel if you have one).  You will find the chillies won't easily pour into your bottles, so carefully, using a knife, tweezers or tongs, take the chillies out of the pan and put them into the bottles of oil.  The chillies will, irritatingly, stay at the top of the oil rather than sink down but with some shaking they do sink slightly.  Shut the bottle securely and give it a shake.  If the bottle feels hot, then leave it to cool before handling it (again, use your initiative with this).  Leave your lovely chilli oil to infuse over the next week or two, giving it a shake up now and again to help the flavour and colour disperse through the oil.  Happy drizzling!

 Ideal for use on pizzas, salads, stews, curries, frying... the list of uses is endless!

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Chap Olympiad

This weekend I went to a sunny park in Central London, dolled up to the nines in 50s gear to go and watch chaps take part in an Olympiad.    Let me explain.     The Chap Olympiad is, as its website so aptly puts it, 'a celebration of Britain's sporting ineptitude' (so excellently shown during this recent World Cup, thanks fellas).   Being a not-so-sporty type myself, but also enjoying a game or two with some absurd competitiveness, I couldn't think of a better way to spend a balmy summer afternoon.     Meeting my three friends at 2, we joined the queue of immaculately dressed chaps and gals (victory rolls and red lipstick in abundance for the girls, spats and waxed moustaches for the boys) to have a picnic in the park whilst the dulcet tones of the compare announced the different acts.    Acts included umbrella jousting whilst riding Boris bikes; shoot the Ferraro Roche into the champagne glass and human grand national (to name but very few).    It was really funny and as well as showing off ineptitude, it also showed off our Great British spirit and humour.   Such fun! All in all, a wonderful day hobnobbing with London's eccentrics.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Walking the Thames Path

Today I joined a Meet Up group (Young London to be precise) to go for a lovely Sunday afternoon stroll along the Thames Path from Richmond to Hampton Court. My housemate has had great success from joining a Meet Up badminton group and she suggested I sign up for group too. I quickly obliged, attracted by the idea of 'young' meet up groups - hoping for like-minded, jolly individuals. I arrived at the planned meeting point, Richmond Station, slightly nervous - what if I couldn't find the group? what if they had already left? I shouldn't have been nervous: the group was instantly recognisable; twenty-something twenty-somethings standing in a circle shaking hands and chatting. Lovely. In my very girl's school manner, I walked straight to a girl and introduced myself. Soon another girl joined, then another, then a guy and then, wow, we were a whole group! What really struck me was the international nature of the group - I met (in no particular order) people from: Spain, Italy, Estonia, Kashmir, Greece, Japan, Australia, and, of course, a few from England. All the men I met were in IT, with the women having more interesting jobs in design, media, teaching and admin. I also met a girl who went to the same university as me;I have an amazing (though I say so myself) ability to recognise faces and I must have seen her, at a bar or something, or the union, seven years ago and I must have subconsciously put two and two together. Anyway, back to the walk. We headed off through Richmond (a really wonderful place with fantastic shops - I would like to live there in the future!) and then straight onto the Thames Path. The pace was good - not too fast and not too slow and, inevitably, the group split into a faster party and a slower party. I was surprised to find myself in the faster party, which made my happy. The rest of the afternoon was made up of walking and chatting, with the odd stop at benches, just to regroup and (if I'm honest) choose someone else to chat too. Meeting the others was good fun and the majority are definitely not the type I would meet when out and about, so that was nice. I split from the group when we got to Kingston because I wasn't wearing the right attire for the heat and, frankly, I was getting a little uncomfortable. I walked to Kingston centre and managed to get a bus home, which was great. I will be back on Meet Up to choose my next adventure and I can't wait!

Route: Richmond to Hampton Court (via Kingston)
Miles: Approx. 7 miles (4 and a half to Kingston)
Information on the route:

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Hendrix comes to Chelsea

A children's book launch invitation plopped into my inbox recently that had all the makings of my kind of event.  It promised Hendrix gin and a Pomeranian called... Hendrix (starting to sense a theme?).  My friend and I were greeted at Beaufort House private members club in Chelsea with a specially blended raspberry and gin cocktail and a gorgeous 4-year-old dog running around.  Hendrix is the muse for Angie Foxx, writer and musician.  Angie uses Hendrix's exploits to write stories for early years children.  Her charming tales are gaining notoriety, with awards being won left right and centre.   Launched in September 2013, Angie is already working on the fifth story in the collection.   Check them out online and in all good book shops.  Thanks to Helen at literally pr for a fab evening!
@literallypr /

The Clapton Pot

Last night I ventured far far East of London to Clapton to take part in an internet-organised supper club called The Clapton Pot.  Run by French designer Violaine and my friend-of-a-friend, Anna, this was one cool cats affair, designed to bring like-minded foodies together.   Arriving in Clapton (thankfully not in the rain) I rang the phone number as asked in my one of two emails.  Horror movie thoughts entered my mind slightly but once the door was opened by the lovely Violaine and I'd been led up the stairs, I knew all would be a-ok.

When I reached the flat, I was greeted by four girls all with open hands and friendly smiles.  I was concerned the others would be intimidating, but they really weren't - we are all of similar age and life experience.  A little about the initiative: The Clapton Pot is a free supper club that is run once a month and is held either at Violaine's or Anna's house.   The only 'condition' is that you come brandishing a bottle of wine.  Brandished I did, and within moments I was poured a glass.  

The final count of potters was six girls, all designers I believe, and one guy, 32-year-old Ed, an actor (look out for him as Micha Barton's boyfriend in a horror film coming out soon).   Once we'd all made our acquaintances we sat down and the food and conversation took over.

For the starter we had beet root and mozerella salad.  The beet root and cheese worked beautifully together and the dressing was made of the pickling juice slicked with oil.  It worked beautifully.    Beet root is one of my favourite ingredients, even if it does stain everything it comes in contact with fuscia (not always a bad thing...).  

For the main course, we had a Mexican dish passed down to Anna from her mother.  It was a sweet potato and squash bake with eggs cracked onto the top.   A squeeze of lime and a sprinkling of coriander, and you have the dish vegetarians and carnivores alike dream of.  It was absolutely delicious and a wonderful surprise (I would not think to put lime, potatoes and eggs together.  Ever!). As side dishes we had wilted spinach with pine nuts and a black bean mash (which, even with probing, the hosts didn't really know what was in it).

And finally, for the pudding, a blood orange cheese cake with a milk chocolate topping.  Again, another triumph as far as I'm concerned; others thought it was too rich, but I had no complaints, although I did have a smaller piece.  What makes this cheesecake slightly different is the base was made with oats and there was goat's cheese mingled in the cream.  This made the whole combination slightly tarter than a conventional New York cheesecake.  The real gem was the rounds of blood orange decorating the top: perfect to counteract the rich creaminess.

Along with the food there was copious amounts of wine and entertaining (and intelligent) conversation - we covered all sorts, including grammar, accents, writing, acting and, of course, Micha Barton (she's great, apparently). 

The beauty of being in a room of strangers is that you can't 'fall back' on gossip as is so often the way with meals with close friends.

An absolute triumph, I can't wait to go again!