Monday 28 April 2014

Bhel Puri & Sweet Lassi

Dom of Belleau Kitchen and I added this to our Saturday Indian Feast.  We were unable to purchase a number of the traditional ingredients, so here is our version of Bhel Puri and it was yummy.


1 onion chopped
3 med potatoes, peeled, boiled and chopped
3 heaped tbsp chopped fresh coriander
2 cups Sev
1 cup Kurmura (puffed rice)
2 tsp fresh garlic chutney
4 tbsp date tamarind chutney
1 tsp panipuri masala paste
3 tsp corianda
1/2 tbsp lemon juice


1.  Peel and boil potatoes for 20 mins,  leave to cool and then roughly chop them into small pieces.

2. Apart from the Sev and puffed rice, throw the rest of the ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.

3. Just as you are about to serve and eat, add the Sev & puffed rice, quickly mix all together and eat immediately. Enjoy x

Sweet Lassi

Milk, natural yogurt, sugar, blizt.

Channa Masala with garlic spinach served with Chilli and Coriander Naan

Sunday 27 April 2014

Kashmiri Vegetable Masala with Coconut Milk & toasted flaked Almonds

Dominic of Belleau Kitchen and I have been best of friends now for 18 years now. We share many passions together and met as neighbours in Maida Vale back in our heyday of clubbing and dressing up. We both also share a passion for cooking.  Dom and the Viking now reside in a house situated in the beautiful meadows of Lincolnshire but they run their business here, subsequently, needing a pied-a-terre in London, a property came up next to me in Maida Vale so they've become neighbours once again and spend half their week here. 

On Saturday, as Dom and I ambled along the West London canal, I was intrigued with his knowledge on foraging.  He told me about nettle quiches and dandelion tempura, ingredients that grow naturally in this beautiful countryside of ours.  I then began to think of the wonderful fusion of nationalities I live amongst. Myself, a born and bred Londoner, a true Notting Hill Billy, I have always been intrigued with the cultures that surround me. So on this lazy weekend and as Dom and the Viking didn't venture back to Lincolnshire, we decided to cook up a feast. 

Foraging, as I only know how to in my urban surroundings, I took Dom to a favourite haunt of mine, 'Shayona' which is situated in a carpark, next to the Hindu temple in Neasden.  Sitting in this car park is this incredible restaurant where the starters will just blow you away, all vegeterian I hasten to add.   In the hallway to the toilets there is an Indian patisserie and then on to the supermarket.  

As Dom and I walked into the supermarket, we both felt overwhelmed with the abundance of spices and eastern goodies that packed the aisles. Feeling like a couple of headless chickens, we wandered aimlessly deciding what to cook that evening.   My philosophy is grab what looks interesting and experiment.  Use your eyes, sense of smell, taste buds and hopefully a little bit of skill to combine ingredients and flavours that are wonderful. True fusion, that's what I love about living in West London.

Simple recipe for a lazy weekend.

1 medium onion chopped
3 cloves garlic
2 generous thumb sized pieces of ginger
10 fresh coriander stalks
3 tablespoons olive oil
1/3 jar of Patak's Kashmiri masala curry paste
2 large carrots peeled and cut into strips
1/2 medium-sized cauliflower broken into florettes
1/2 small packet frozen peas
1 medium size courgette thickly sliced
6 small tomatoes cut in half
2 tins coconut milk
2 tablespoons toasted Armond flakes and Chopped fresh coriander to garnish

1.  Fry chopped onion in the olive oil, 5 to 6 minutes until translucent and soft.

2. Blitz / mince the garlic, coriander stalks, ginger and add to the onions cook gently for one minute.

3.  Add the Patak's paste and cook together gentle for another minute.

4.  Add vegetables reserving the frozen peas. Add coconut milk, almost bring to the boil. turn heat right down replace lid and leave to simmer gently for 25 minutes. Now add the frozen peas for a further five minutes turn heat off. Preferably allow to cool right down and reheat later when you're ready to serve.

5.  In a small frying pan gently toast the flaked almonds until they begin to turn golden remove from heat and empty onto a saucer until you're ready to serve.

7.  Scatter with chopped  coriander leaves the almond flakes and serve. This dish also tastes delicious the following day.


Thursday 20 March 2014

Roasted Carrots, Chickpea Salad with Tahini, Cumin & Yogurt Dressing

I've only realised today after writing this blog to you all where one gets one's inspirations from.  Firstly, I have to say, my passion for cooking and eating stems from my dad. He was a great cook who made the culinary experience just a wonderful game. When I was small, he'd take me out for lunch most Saturdays so I could experience different cuisines.  We'd have long discussions about what we had just eaten describing flavours, textures and how to combine ingredients. For me this has been the building blocks of cooking and feeling confident about just throwing things together. 

By the age of 12 (which is when we sadly lost him), he had taught me the basics in cooking, sewing, car maintenance, electrics & DIY, just to name a few things. I realise now, what in fact he was teaching me was how to be self-sufficient in life. 

He had travelled the world with work and was never shy in coming forward to ask someone how they cooked a particular dish. Subsequently, I was eating curries, mediterranean and all sorts of exotic foods when my head barely reached the top of the table. Apparently at the ripe old age of two, my three favourite things were caviar, smoked salmon and stuffed olives. Just goes to show, if you experiment with food with a small child they will eat unusual dishes.

Then of course there was my beautiful mum, who always made our home glow with love and joy and who had an incredible sense of style, colour and artistry.  She was the one who taught and influenced me with regards to presentation. With my dad normally on dinner duty and mama on lunches, I eagerly awaited her 1pm feasts.  With a radiant smile, she'd present me with a wonderful array of different healthy, colourful & yummy things. I guess that's why my favourite way of eating is a fabulous smorgasbord all served up on different dishes, bowls, plates and of course the whole array of colours & display is down to one person and one person only, my mum.

When I start writing my blog I'm never quite sure what's going to appear on the page in front of me. As per usual I have gone off on a tangent writing about two extraordinary people, my mum and dad. I'm now looking at the photo of my roasted carrot and chickpea salad feeling I really should've created something far more impressive and elaborate in honour of my parents. But then I started to think.  No, this is the right dish to put up there.  It's vibrant, exotic, full of zest & flavour, humble and honest and that's all so relevant and the perfect dish for the two people I was so blessed to have as parents.  Enjoy.

1 tin of chickpeas, rinsed drained and dried 
600 g carrots peeled and cut into large pieces
1 tablespoon runny honey
2 teaspoons cumin seeds
1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon paprika

2 tablespoons olive oil
100 grams mixed salad leaves

6-8 fresh mint leaves, sliced carefully so as not to bruise

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt, the runny kind
2 tablespoons tahini 

2 tablespoons olive oil
One garlic clove crushed
Juice of one lemon

1. Toss carrots in the olive oil, paprika, ground coriander and season with S&P.  Roast in a pre heated oven at 200c for 30-40 mins.
2.  In a small frying, dry roast the cumin seeds for approx 2 mins shaking the pan round every now and then until they start to colour, tip onto a small plate until you are ready to use them as they will burn if you leave them in the pan.
3.  Stir the yogurt and tahini together into a smooth paste, mix in the garlic, olive oil, lemon juice & start adding water, a tbsp at a time until you have the consistency of pouring cream. Finally sprinkle in a 1/4 of the toasted cumin seeds.
4. Whilst the carrots are still warm, mix together with the chickpeas, arrange on a fabulous dish, pour on the dressing, sprinkle the remaining toasted cumin and mint, scatter around with salad leaves & serve immediately. 

Tuesday 18 March 2014

Tuna Nicoise style Lazy lunch salad

 I felt a lazy lunch coming on. With a gale blowing outside in the garden, I started to fantasise about summertime and and yearn for my salads.  Although the days of eating raw seem lost in a distant dream, I thought I'd just grab a little piece of summer here. 

Just before I snuggle up with the Grumpy Greek, a roaring fire and five extremely content cats. Yes, you heard correctly, five cats, Obi-Wan Kenobi, Milo, Archie, Winnie Wheeze and Puff Diddy, I opened the fridge and this is what leapt out at me.

First of all the loin of tuna I had bought had been quite large, so I kept a piece which I had cooked it thoroughly. Thus, this salad Nicoise kinda salad appeared.  Enjoy x

Tinned or fresh tuna 
1 Bunch of asparagus
4 hard boiled eggs cut in quarters
Salad leaves of your choice (I've used purple little gems)
1/2 a packet cherry tomatoes (roasted for 10 mins with olive oil, s&p)
1/2 a red pepper
1 small pkt mange tout
10 cooked new potatoes cut in half and skin left on
1 tin of anchovies
1/2 a lemon
olive oil

2 Tbsp good quality white wine vinegar
4 Tbsp good quality olive oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp dijon mustard
1 crushed clove garlic
Put all the dressing ingredients  in a cup and stir briskly until combined, alternatively shake in a jam jar.


1. Coat asparagus in olive oil and season well, place on an extremely hot griddle for 10 mins turning occasionally, remove from griddle and squeeze with 1/2 a lemon whilst warm.

2. Roast cherry tomatoes for 10 mins with olive oil, s&p at 200c

3. Boil eggs for 10 mins.

4. Arrange all the above on a plate and drizzle with dressing.

Friday 14 February 2014

Seared Tuna with black Thai rice, griddled peppers and Japanese style salad

By now, I'm sure you have gathered that the Grumpy Greek and I are kinda partial to a massive splash of colour, as you can see in our little orange kitchen. This also reflects in my cooking. I believe that 50% of the enjoyment of food is by eating with your eyes. Eating natural, organic (when available), seasonal and intensely coloured foods are so important.  This will also ensure that the foods you are eating contain more nutrients and antioxidants. Here is a rendition of seared tuna, another one of our favourites. Enjoy

Tuna loin
Black Thai rice, or any rice of your choice
Wasabi powder
Light soya sauce for dipping
Mixed peppers
2 carrots, cut into Julian strips
1/3 mouli, cut into Julian strips
A handful of bean sprouts
A handful fresh coriander
Finger sizes piece of ginger
Clove of garlic
tsp sugar
3 Tbs olive oil
1Tbs rice or white wine vinegar

Cook the rice according to packet instructions but I find with these exotic rices to slightly under cook for a chewy but cooked bite.  This of course is personal taste.

Salad dressing
In a blender, add the finger size piece of ginger, clove of garlic, tsp sugar,  coriander, 3 Tbs olive oil, 1Tbs rice or white wine vinegar and blitz.

Make wasabi paste with a couple of drips of water.

Cut peppers into large pieces coat with olive oil and season well.
Heat griddle or heavy based pan on full heat, add peppers skin side down keeping an eye on them as you want to get colour but don't want to burn them.  Turn them over turn heat down to medium till cooked but still firm, keep warm.

Japanese style salad
Mix together your carrots, mouli, cut into Julian strips and bean sprouts.

Seared Tuna
Wash and completely dry tuna loin, then coat with olive oil and season well.

Heat griddle or heavy based pan so it's nice and hot, start searing tuna on all four sides.  The cook time depends on the size of your tuna loin but you can judge this by keeping an eye on end of the loin watching the sides cook whilst the centre stays rare. When it is to your liking, remove from pan, cover and leave to stand whilst you arrange everything on your plates, drizzle the salad with the dressing, light soya sauce in individual dipping bowls with a small amount of wasabi paste sushi style, lastly slice the tuna.  Enjoy x

Wednesday 5 February 2014

Leek and Gruyere Flan, Beetroot & potato gratin with roasted red peppers and a mixed leaf salad.

 Sometimes in life you're lucky enough to get that chance encounter with a particular person.  Well, I had that exact experience two weeks ago and felt an immediate bond. I was holding a little get together in my flat with a few of my lovely neighbours over an extremely annoying issue occurring in our community.  As usual, we were all supporting each other, I have to say I love living here, the community sprit is unsurpassable and as a Londoner, a true original Notting Hill Billy born & bred, I find this a rarity in our day and age. 

 We live in a really leafy and quiet peaceful community in Maida Vale, London, the rough end I hasten to add. Whilst the meeting was taking place, one of my neighbours, a lovely guy, good-looking who rides a motorbike,  suddenly got a call on his mobile and disappeared into my hallway for a private conversation. He reappeared in the doorway and asked if it would be okay if a friend of his popped round. "Of course" I replied. I have to say I was expecting a leather clad biker type fella to appear, instead this fabulously eloquent tall blonde woman walked into my living room.  She and I hit it off immediately, it was as if we'd known each other forever. Subsequently, my new best friend and I have been exchanging texts and have finally pinned down a date for her to come over for lunch, which just happens to be tomorrow. 

 As in my previous post to you all, the last thing I want to be doing is faffing around in the kitchen when I could be chewing the cud and sharing secrets with someone I really like.   I was on that tip again of pre-preparing something the day before so I could spend our time together.  So here it is.  I do love a flan/quiche but don't make it often because it involves cream, crème fraîche, eggs and pastry with butter. Well, it does if you want to make an incredibly rich & tasty one.  By preparing all the above the day before, I can just whack it in the oven for a short time tomorrow to warm up, (bar the salad obviously), sit down and have a natter.  Hope you all enjoy it. xx

 As foodies I'm assuming you have a built in instinct and a basic knowledge of cooking. So forgive me for being in a rush and writing this down comparatively quickly today.  You can always serve this with a Just a green salad, any favourite salad of your choice, or keep tuned, recipes to follow for Beetroot & Potato Gratin - Roasted Red peppers with garlic, capers and olive oil.  Please feel free to message me if you have a question and I will personally answer you as best as I can. xx

For the Quiche

Enough shortcrust pastry to fill a 10" flan dish
3 to 4 leeks washed and finely sliced
100 g grated gruyere cheese
3 eggs
Half a tub crème fraîche (full or half fat)
100 ml fresh single cream
A good glug of olive oil and a generous knob of butter to fry the leeks in.
Season with S & P

Preheat oven at 200 c

Fry the leeks, stirring occasionally till golden, season with S & P and set aside.

Roll out pastry, line your dish, grab a fork and gently stab the pastry on the bottom surface.

On top of the pastry lined dish, place grease proof paper and a layer of dried pluses or rice.

Blind bake pastry case for 10 mins.

In a bowl and with a blender mix together for 30 seconds, the eggs, cream and crème fraîche, stir in leeks and a third of the cheese.

Pour contents into semi cooked pastry shell and sprinkle with the remaining cheese and cook for 30 mins.

All our ovens cook slightly differently, so keep an eye on it whilst cooking.
Beetroot & Potato Gratin

Roasted Red peppers with garlic, capers and olive oil

Thursday 30 January 2014

Peri Peri Spatchcock Chicken, Chunky Coleslaw & Fries

Let's face it, nobody wants to be exiled to the kitchen when entertaining friends, that is why I love this dish.  Practically all the preparation can be done in advance i.e., Marinate the chicken over night, chunky coleslaw ( which can be made up to 2 hrs before) and I hasten to add, cheat with the fries.  Trying to keep on a more healthy tip, I'm not too keen on deep frying anything.  Problem solved as I have found these, Sainsburys own 'Lightly spiced fries' at £1 that can be just popped in the oven.  Hey Presto, this meal always has my guests cooing with delight and smacking there lips as I present it at the table. 

The Grumpy Greek and I love this 'Peri Peri' chicken we also love our piggy sized portions which allows me my 'Lazy Leftovers' for the following day.  ENJOY x

marinade for one medium chicken

100 ml olive oil

50 ml red wine vinegar

1 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp oregano
3 large red chilies, finely chopped (these are milder or you can use birds eye chilies instead for a real kick)
1 sweet pointed red pepper finely chopped
7 garlic cloves, blanched for 2 mins then roughly diced
dash of chilli infused oil (optional)
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt crystals

Place in a small saucepan and simmer gently for 4 to 5 mins

Blitz together in a food processor and set aside to cool


Pre heat oven at 220 c

1 med chicken, washed and dried

Remove back bone with poultry scissors or a sharp heavy knife (please be careful) 

You can use bamboo skewers (soaked in cold water for 30 mins, see photo below) if you wish but these sometimes get in the way when it comes to fitting the chicken in the griddle pan

Place chicken in a roasting tin and pour over cold marinade now rub in on both sides. Breast side up, cover in foil or cling film and place in fridge over night.

Next morning, turn chicken over, spoon marinade over underside of chicken, cover and return to fridge until you are ready to cook it.

Heat a griddle pan, season chicken well on both sides

When griddle pan is hot, place chicken breast side down for 2 to 3 mins giving the odd press to ensure an even colour, flip bird over and repeat on the other side

Place in oven uncovered for 15 mins at 220 c, 

Turn oven down to 190 c, baste chicken, loosely cover with foil and return to oven for a further 30 mins basting every 10 mins

All ovens are different, so make sure the chicken is cooked thoroughly and the juices run clear.   Remove from oven, tightly cover with foil and a tea towel and leave to stand for 10 to 15 mins for a perfectly tender, moist chicken.

Cook fries according to packet instructions but make sure they're crispy

Chunky Coleslaw
Make this at least 2 hrs before devouring.

1/4 white & 1/4 red cabbage, medium sliced
2 large carrots, coarsely grated
1 med onion, finely sliced
handful finely chopped curly parsley, reserving a little for garnish
3 to 4 Tbs mayonnaise
1 & 1/2 Tsp creme fraiche
season well with S & P

Turn the cold water on ( you'll thank me in a minute) and with your clean hands mix all the ingredients together.  Now you'll be covered in mayonnaise but you won't get it all over your taps when you rinse your hands. 

Cling film & place in the fridge till your ready to serve.

Lazy Leftovers

Peri Peri Chicken, chunky coleslaw and wild rocket sandwich