Home-Made ‘Slaw

Ok, this came about as a result of having half a cabbage knocking around in the fridge and a complete moment of bafflement. It was, however, quite amazing.

Cabbage - Flickr - wwarby

Very loosely based on the coleslaw in Jamie Oliver’s ‘How to cook’, it combines finely shredded cabbage, carrot, spring onion and celery in a tangy, creamy sauce and is, basically, yum. I didn’t but you could add some grated apple for even more yum-ness. This serves at least 2 as a side.


  • Half a cabbage (white is suggested but I used Savoy with no issues at all) – take off any limp or floppy bits, carve out the core and finely shred the leaves and give them a good rinse in a colander
  • One spring onion – thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • One carrot – cut lengthwise into long, thin slices and then cut the slices into very fine strips
  • A stick of celery – cut this on the diagonal into very thin half-moons
For the dressing:
  • 2 tsp mayonaise
  • 1 tsp french dressing
  • half tsp mild mustard
  • splash of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper
Mix all the shredded veggies in a large bowl and mix the dressing ingredients together separately in another bowl. When blended, pour over the veggies.
You may want to let the dressing down with a little water to a creamy thickness (you want the dressing to lightly coat the veggies without puddling in the bottom of the bowl).

Japanese-style Cucumber Pickle

An absolute scorcher of a bank holiday weekend! Lots of barbecuing and was in the mood for something crisp and refreshing and, yes, slightly fiddly.

Therefore, I was very excited by this. It’s a modified version of the ‘cucumber dressing’ in the Wagamama cookbook but have shifted the balance to make it more of a pickle – crisp veggies in a sharp/sweet/spicy dressing. Mmmm.

For the dressing:

  • 100 ml rice vinegar
  • 100 ml water
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cloves garlic, cut into quarters
  • About 2 inches of ginger root, sliced into thick coins
  • Salt
For the veggies:
  • About a quarter of a cucumber
  • 2 spring onions
  • Half a mild red chilli, deseeded
Serves about 2 as a side or drizzle over salad for a crunchy dressing with a kick!

In a pan, mix the vinegar and water and add the sugar, ginger and garlic and bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar dissolves. Let it bubble for a little while until the vinegar has lost its harsh edge and season with a little salt. Half fill the sink with cold water and dip the saucepan into the water and whisk the dressing until it cools down, fish out the ginger and garlic and leave to one side.

Prep the vegetables by slicing the cucumber into matchsticks and finely slice the spring onion and chop the chilli into tiny pieces. Mix the veg together and then pour over the dressing – you’re aiming for the veg to almost (but not quite) to be swimming in the dressing…

Cover and pop it in the fridge to get really cold for maximum effect! Should be fab for the next couple of days. I ate this alongside cold noodle salad and teriyaki chicken – it was pretty amazing (even if I say so myself). Kind of addictive though – you have been warned.

Pie say! ‘Shroom for one more?

So what does one do if one ends up with a roll of puff pastry and a pot of creme fraiche cluttering up the fridge!?

To celebrate the weekend, I threw together a pie which was inspired by one from the Nigel Slater book (which turned out to be taleggio and onion. And a tart. But never mind.) – puff pastry filled with creamy mushrooms and other tastiness. Serve up with a lot of nice salad and bread or… Potato dauphanoise. Mmmm. Serves 4 (with sides).

Creamy mushroom pie

  • 1 pack of ready-made puff pastry (I used ready-rolled. I’m lazy)
  • 3 rashers streaky smoked bacon
  • 1 large onion
  • 2 large cloves of garlic
  • 1 tsp butter
  • Half a large pack of chestnut mushrooms, sliced thickly
  • 2 tbs creme fraiche
  • Thyme (leaves only) – a small sprig
  • 1 egg, beaten

Unfurl the pastry and put it onto a baking tray. Preheat the oven to about 170 degrees

In a frying pan, heat a little bit of oil over a medium heat whilst you slice the bacon into little matchsticks (or lardons if you prefer) and fry them until they’re crisp. Using a slotted spoon, remove the bacon to a dish and slice the onion and fry until softened and lightly coloured and add the garlic (don’t let it burn!). Remove this to the bacon dish, add the butter to the pan and heat until foamy. Throw in the mushrooms and cook until they’re tender.

Now it’s time to assemble – throw the bacon and onions back into the pan, add the creme fraiche and the finely chopped thyme (not too much – 2 fat pinches will do). Add plenty of black pepper and a little salt if you think it needs it. Aligning the tray portrait-style, pile the filling onto the lower half of the pastry leaving a clear margin around the edges (about 1.5″). Fold the other side of the pastry over the top and fold and crimp around the edges with your fingers, sealing them tight (don’t want it all going everywhere). Crack the egg into a bowl and beat, spread over the top of the parcel – use a brush or your fingers – until lightly glazed (not soggy). Nick the top with the point of a knife to make a hole for the steam to escape.

Bake until deep gold and puffed up like a big, tasty pillow… Mmmmm pastry goooooooooood.


I know, I know… It’s been a while… Ok, like 6 months.

A quick catch up: have moved from suburban Bristol to suburban London! Am now employed (somehow) after finishing the Masters and share a house with 3 lovely folks and a cat called Barbara. My New Year’s Resolution (note the initial caps) is to be more organised and to cook more (and better), hence the blog reboot!

To get us started… Spicy sweet potato soup – serves 3-4.


  • 3 medium/large sweet potatoes – peel and cut into chunks
  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic – finely sliced
  • Spices – probably about half a teaspoon each of coriander seed, cumin, mustard seed, chilli flakes plus the seeds from a couple of cardamom pods – finely ground. Tailor this to whatever you fancy/have to hand – could add some cinnamon or garam masala?
  • veg/chicken stock – a pint

Put a pan of salted water on the boil whilst you assemble and prep everything and boil the sweet potatoes – they will probably take 15 mins or so until they’re tender. Fry off the onions in a little oil until they start to go golden and add the garlic and fry for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the ground spices – have a good sniff as you so, will clear the sinuses! Take the onion mixture off the heat whilst you drain the potatoes and mix everything together back in the potato pan. Add about 3/4 of the stock and blend to a purée (I use a wand-type blender for this one) and dilute with the rest of the stock until it’s soup rather than baby food consistency. It should be a pretty sunny yellow – check the seasoning and serve!


T x

The End

Well here we are – the end of my year in Bristol.

I wandered down Gloucester Road (Bristol’s Camden) to buy some of those massive laundry bags to help me move out… And stopped by a very good bakery and grocer on the way home again. Having bought a cake (which I ate on the pavement as I walked back, sorry mum!) I also got a loaf of Polish Sourdough bread (with caraway seeds), tomatoes and cucumber which makes today’s lunch – a very light, cool, refreshing sort of lunch. Summery without being gaudy. It’s a cold, sassy top to nice bread and feels a little more sophisticated that I am at the moment! But I thought, screw it, am going to prepare something a little more epic (not least to distract myself from moving…)

Enough to top 4 big slices (for 2 greedy people)

  • 4 big, ripe tomatoes
  • Half a cucumber
  • About a quarter of a small onion
  • Half a clove of garlic
  • A drizzle of olive oil
  • Salt, pepper, herbs (fresh mint, parsley and basil if you’ve got it, a big pinch of dried mixed herbs if not)

Peel the tomatoes by boiling a kettle of water, placing the tomatoes in a big bowl and pour over the boiling water. Gently jab the tomatoes with the tip of a knife and the skins should split and start to peel off and you can just easily rub the skin off. Peel the cucumber and scrape out the middle bits with a spoon and chop the cucumber and tomatoes into tiny cubes. Finely chop the garlic and onion – be dilligent as you don’t want to bite down on a raw bit… Mix all the veggies together in a bowl and drizzle over the oil and season. Scatter over the fresh or dried herbs and stir it all together and have a taste – it might benefit from a spritz of lemon juice if you happen to have any lying around. It should be lively and glossy and smell gorgeous. Cover the bowl and pop in the fridge for an hour or so – let it get lovely and cold.

Slice some crusty, rustic bread (I like sourdough personally) and you could toast it gently for some added taste. Pop on a plate and pile on the veggies and spoon over some of the juice that will collect in the bottom of the bowl. Have with a long, cold drink and enjoy the weather.

Next time you hear from me I’ll be in London! So come back here for urban-inspired cooking and… I’m going to try my hand at baking. Watch this space. T xxxx

Good food bloggery

When I can’t be bothered to cook (which is occasionally) I’ve decided to keep the blog ball rolling by plugging other food bloggists.

Adrastiea’s ‘An empty stomach is the best cook’ is BRILLIANT – a whole shedload of very good hints and tips and they’ve been going for bloomin’ ages. So for amazin’ Aussie-flavoured foodiness, check out at http://anemptystomachisthebestcook.blogspot.com/

Tonight – lentils with sausage… We’ll see how this one turns out.

T xxx

What the hell is Orzotto?!?!

Well that is how I started off. Orzotto is basically risotto… But made with pearl barley instead. But what it really is… Is beige. Beige, beige, beige… And DELICIOUS. It’s a more springy, more exciting, less hassle risotto. I made up a batch with some herby chicken stock and a couple of sliced mushrooms and in less than an hour, it’s done and very goooooood.

The barley (if you’ve never come across it before) looks exactly like grain that one would fling to chickens in a barnyard… But cooks to a nutty, tender boingyness that I find oddly endearing. You can add handfuls of the stuff to casseroles and soups to make more hearty and you find it with the lentils and so forth in the supermarket. You can also get a bag of ‘soup vegetables’ (or similar) – is barley and lentils and tiny pasta and is very useful in the wintertime as a storecupboard standby.

The Ingredients – serves one very greedy person or two as a side dish

  • About half a big onion (or one small one) very finely chopped
  • A large stick of celery – very finely chopped
  • A fat clove of garlic – very finely chopped
  • A splosh of oil – a tablespoon or so (use your judgement, dears)
  • A couple of normal, white mushrooms – sliced
  • Pearl barley – about a handful and a half
  • mixed herbs
  • S&P
  • Chicken stock – about a pint, hot (don’t worry, use a cube – but personally I love those little jelly pot ones)

Once the veggies are chopped, warm the oil in a large, deep sided frying pan and cook off the onion, celery and garlic until the onion is soft and translucent (not burnt). Add the mushrooms and stir around then tip in your orzo (barley) and give it a good stir round, letting it cook for 2 mins or so. Add a fat pinch of herbs and season then pour over your stock – it should very generously cover (don’t worry if it looks too much). Bring it to a gentle simmer and cover with a lid. It will need a good 30 mins (stir occasionally) until the barley is almost tender. Then whip off the lid and let the broth simmer away until it’s nearly gone – a few tablespoons of stock (basically, you don’t want your barley swimming in it) – to risotto-like consistency. The best way to describe it – pile it up in a heap with your spoon and it should almost almost keep its shape before sloooooooowly slumping back down again.

Good luck and enjoy the tasty beigeness 🙂 x

Election night dinner

So tonight is the big night – the ballot boxes will be filled and democracy will happen (hopefully) etc etc etc.

My kitchen isn’t subject to the whim of politics so have gone ahead and cooked what the devil I like. Tonight it’s a modified version of a dish from Jamie Oliver’s Cook with Jamie – it’s a pasta dish for GEEEEEEZAS! Big, blokey and uses sausages. What more do you want?

Per person…

  • 3 sausages (some nice herby spicy ones)
  • Bacon, smoked, 2 rashers, chopped into little lardons
  • Half an onion, finely chopped
  • A clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • Half a glass of red wine
  • Tomato puree, a tablespoon or so
  • Seasoning – mixed herbs, dried chilli, pepper

First off, heat a large frying pan with a drop of oil. While this is warming up, peel the sausages and crumble the meat into the hot oil and fry vigorously until crispy. Remove and set aside. Pop the pan back onto the heat and fry off the bacon, onion and garlic until the bacon is crispy and the onion has softened. Add the meat again, stir through and throw over the wine and let it bring to the boil. Add the tomato puree (this will help it thicken) and season – it’ll be quite salty so maybe just pepper – and stir through. Now reduce, reduce, reduce… (Now’s a good time to put pasta on…) Let it simmer for a while. The sauce should be quite thick and sparse but the whole should be shiny and rich-looking.  

Relax and enjoy… However you’ve voted.

Unless it’s Tory.

Potatoes… Baked, and then a bit more

Brace yourself – this one may come across a bit Sophie Dahl. So, with that in mind, feel free to read this in your best breathy accent. In fact, I’ll adopt her house style for a few paragraphs.

Darlings. As the days sashay towards summer, perhaps you feel in the need for something a little more soothing, more nursery… Something that makes you feel like you’re padding through a forest with the dappled shade of new leaves sprouting over your head and the crackly old ones scuffing fragrantly over the toes of your wellingtons as you run to the brook to play pooh sticks. Something redoldent with the whiff of bonfires.

Like pearls of the soil, I take a humble potato, earthily scented, brush it clean and bake, lovingly, in the hottest of ovens. When the skin is dry and crackled like old parchment found at the bottom of a tea chest in an Auntie’s attic, I remove them and split them in two, juggling them and blowing on my fingers. Scoop out the steaming fluff and mash with a rivulet of milk, a knob of butter and a scrunch of the whitest sea salt.

Meanwhile, in a frying pan, melt some butter, sizzlingly. Slice some of the cutest little beige mushrooms – little soldiers of the forest – and fry with some pungent garlic sliced paper thin. When the slices of mushroom are nuttily brown like their woodland cousins, the acorn, fold them into the gloriously fluffy mash and dust with some mixed herbs to complete the bouquet. Perhaps you’d like to grate in some cheese – salty, melty, deleriously tasty cheese, the gift of the cows.

Gently spoon the mash mixture back into the skins like you’re dressing them in a papery duffle coat and top them proudly with another slice of cheese and put them back into the oven until the cheese is melted and bubbling geologically. Plate them and devour whilst still a little too hot, blowing on each forkful of crisp skin, fluffy mash and soft, melted, stringy cheese.

I’m off for an exorcism. Normal service will resume next time.

What to do with a bargain chicken…

So, the trusty co-op has some very nice, cheap whole chicken. In an act of uparalleled frugalty, I found myself with a whole chicken and a depthless sense of  ‘ok, now what…’

So! Here’s what I did.

Uno – divide into manageable bits.

I carved off the breast fillets tidily (more about them later) and similarly carved off the entire leg into two hefty portions – they’ve been enshrined in the freezer until my next meat craving… Which leaves the carcass with some bits left on it…

Part B – The big stock adventure.

In the GIANT saucepan, I’ve got the carcass of the chicken plus the wings, a few sticks of celery, a carrot and an onion, a palmful of peppercorns and a bay leaf. This is then topped up with enough water to cover the chicken and brought to a boil. Reduce it down to a low heat until it’s only vaguely bubbling and leave it be for a good couple of hours – it’ll turn light gold and should smell delish. Reduce it down if you need to and check the seasoning. Extract all the bits (could probably fling them out or puree them or something… Mine don’t look good for anything!) and sieve the broth. Hey presto! You’ve got stock! You could use this to make risotto, ramen noodles… Anything that needs stock, really. If you’re feeling organised, you could freeze it in single-portion-sized lumps and bring out whenever the need strikes complete with smug glow.

Part 3 – Roast chicken with rocket pesto

So whilst the stock is bubbling away for another day, you’re going to need something for supper… May I recommend using the very nice fillets from the chicken, roasting them simply and having with a nice sauce? Just season the meat with salt, pepper and mixed herbs, drizzle with oil and pop in a roasting dish. Cover with foil and roast in a hot oven for about 45 mins then whip off the foil and cook for another 15 mins until the skin is golden and crispy – all cooking times depend on (excuse me) the size of the breasts… If they’re looking done, use your judgement, don’t let them dry out to jerky! Conversely, make sure they’re cooked before tucking in…

Serve with:

Rocket pesto

I haven’t gone all cheffy on you, Sainsburys happened to have some pillow-bagged rocket that had been very reduced so I thought why not… I have not got a proper food processor so I did this with a knife and a board… If you are blessed with such equipment, use it!

  • Rocket – washed, about a large handful
  • Garlic – a clove, crushed finely
  • Oil – olive oil, a few teaspoons
  • Seasoning – S, P and a big pinch of dried herbs

And if you were feeling fancy:

  • Parmesan cheese – finely grated, about a tablespoon
  • Lemon – the zest of one and a teaspoon or so of juice
  • Pine nuts – about a palmful (you could probably use plain cashews here if you had them)
  • Basil – a couple of leaves, shredded

Finely chop the rocket (and all the fancy ingredients, if using) and put in a bowl. Add the seasoning and lemon juice and stir. Now add enough oil to make a tasty looking slush… Give it a taste and adjust the various ingredients until it tastes nicely balanced. Slather it on slices of hot roast chicken or save it till tomorrow and pop in a sandwich with the cold chicken… It improves with standing. Not ad infinitum, obviously. At some point it will go off.

So there you go. What does the future hold? Will it be roast chicken sandwiches with pesto? Or some chicken ramen soup with the shredded meat and stock pepped up with chilli, garlic and lemon grass… Oooooh, the world is my oyster.