Giveaway! An Appliance for One of You, a Magimix for Me

How could I resist a visit from the Fairy Hobmother? I couldn’t. An email arrived asking if I would be interested in a free magimix, with only one string attached, I should blog about it and allow readers to win an appliance too.

Well, it’s very clever of them isn’t it? A giveaway and I get something too, win – win. Who is the Fairy Hobmother? Well he works at Appliances Online (who sell cookers and other white goods).

I’ve been moving so it’s not even out of its box yet but it should make my kitchen a sleeker smoother place, and for someone who loves pastry but has warm hands, it’s a dream.

So thanks to the Fairy Hobmother, and over to you guys. Leave a comment and he will pick one of you and send you an appliance.


Morning Move Essentials: Breakfast Duck Hash

**imagine a lovely picture of a duck egg hash with an oozy golden egg yolk – coming soon once I can get it off my camera!**

There are some things that must be done. Even if you don’t know why. I am moving flat (AGAIN I know – it’s a long story but, succinctly, this small flat was only a short-term solution to my last lovely house being sold, it’s too tiny to stay), and on this most gorgeous of Easter weekends it’s even more traumatic than usual.

Packing, decluttering (kinda – I am not very good at that) and cleaning abound in this mini hell of mine. I went to the supermarket to get some oven cleaner, and came back with 2 bunches of asparagus and a whole fresh duck. Oven cleaner too you understand, it was on the list after all.

After a tough day packing and moving, I roasted the duck for the ultimate midnight feast with a little Spanish paprika and some sea salt rubbed on the skin, after it had had a quick splash with some boiling water from the kettle. It was a small duck so I roasted it at 200 deg C for about an hour and a half. Then took it out of the oven, rested it for 10 minutes, jointed it and roasted for a further 10 minutes at 230 deg C, as I had seen Trina Hahnemann do in her lovely book, The Scandinavian Cookbook. It delivered a gorgeous roast  duck with moist tender flesh and crisp moreish skin.

It was perfect and guilty. I knew as I ate that all of that delicious fat would join the other fat communes that are intent on building on my poor body. (I will get my bicycle out soon!).

A bright and early – IT’S TIME TO MOVE – wake up call dragged me sleepily to the kitchen this morning. Intent on avoiding any reality I pondered, what will I do with the duck? (Boxes! What boxes?) It has got to be duck hash, doesn’t it?

Some Jersey royals lurk sleepily in a cupboard, I drag them from their slumber and wake them up with a feverish boil, then chop them in half and crisp them slowly in some duck fat in a pan. Some asparagus from that random shopping trip will cheer up the meaty intensity and are perfect for dipping in that golden egg yolk. A whisper of fresh sage as sage loves duck, but is a strong shouty contender for the star of this dish with that little bit too much.

And that’s breakfast. Now I must face reality. Wish me luck!


Easter Recipe: Tom Herbert’s Hot Cross Buns

Cornwall, February 2011

This blog sometimes throws some nice things my way, and recently one of them was the offer to review a weekend baking course in Cornwall (at the Bedruthan Steps in Bedruthan to be precise). I am a keen home baker but there is always more to learn, so when I discovered that the course would be led by fifth generation baker Tom Herbert of Hobbs House Bakery, I jumped at it.

Tom Herberts Bread Course at Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

Bedruthan is a sleepy village in Cornwall, not too far from Watergate Bay – home to Fifteen and the Beach Hut – and itself home to sister hotels The Scarlet, a gorgeous ecofriendly hotel and Bedruthan Steps, its more family friendly sibling. They are running many crafty courses over the coming months including also beekeeping, sewing and knitting. (Aside: I am actually an expert knitter & seamstress – genuinely! – my babysitter growing up was a professional aran knitter and taught me everything she knows. We learned to knit and sew in school too.)

Tom Herberts Bread Course at Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

The baking course package included full board and two nights at the hotel (normally £300 although the other courses are cheaper). The hotel is charmingly perched on a cliff overlooking the sea. I must confess I hardly left the hotel all weekend, immersed as I was in bready goodness, we even had a midnight baking session on the Saturday night.

Tom Herberts Bread Course at Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

The food was surprisingly very good (surprisingly as often hotel restaurants pitched at families are often not focussed on the food), and as is the way in Cornwall in my experience, embracing of all things Cornish, declaring the provenance of all ingredients, from the local apple juice to the brisket.

Cornwall, February 2011

Back to the bread. Tom was a great teacher and it was a lot of fun. The class was mixed, non bakers that wanted to learn, young ambitous bakers that wanted to learn from a master and retired hobbyists. Everyone got on very well and lots of laughs were had while bread was baked.

Tom Herberts Bread Course at Bedruthan Steps, Cornwall

We baked a lot of bread: sourdough, soda bread, foccacia, white bread, bread rolls, hot cross buns and chollah. I have made most of these breads many times, but it was still helpful to get some tips from Tom and very enjoyable to get stuck in and make them. Utterly relaxing and great stress relief. Plus you do get some of Toms 55 year old sourdough startser which I fear I have altered into some kind of gremlin of the original.

Cornwall, February 2011

Fittingly for this time of year, Tom has kindly allowed me to republish his Hot Cross Buns recipe here. These are very good, so much so that some I saw in the shop today looked like emaciated depressed versions and I felt very sad for them. Traditionally these are a Good Friday bun, but hey, they’re great all over Easter, so knock yourself out and enjoy them.

Hot Cross Buns Recipe

680g strong white flour
big pinch of sea salt
30g fresh yeast (or 15g of dried)
70g organic golden caster sugar
80g soft butter
15g mixed spice
270ml of warm water
1 organic egg

Crossing Mix
100g strong white flour,
a pinch of salt,
a pinch of sugar, a knob
of butter and 100ml water

The fruit
80g sultanas
80g currants
the chopped zest of
1 lemon and 1 orange

Bun wash
1 eggcup of boiling water
2tsp of sugar
1 pinch of mixed spice

1. Grease and line a high sided baking tray with grease-proof paper
2. Weigh all the dough ingredients into a big mixing bowl
3. Stir together with a firm hand and wooden spoon
4. Once the dough has come together turn onto a flat surface and knead for 15 minutes, until your dough is smooth and vital
5. Gently work in the fruit and zest
6. Nestle your well worked dough back into the big mixing bowl, cover and repose in a warm place until it has doubled in size, or for 30 minutes, whichever is first
7. After this, cut the dough in half, then divide and divide again until you have 16 equalish pieces
8. In the palm of your hand, firmly round the pieces so they stand pert on your baking tray, a finger’s width between them
9. Again, cover the tin and leave in a toasty place until your buns have doubled in size: 30, 40, 50 minutes.
10. Heat your oven to 210∘C
11. Whisk together the piping mix ingredients in a jug, ensuring there are no lumps, and pour into a piping bag
12. Cross the buns by piping a lattice of the piping mix across the length and width of the tin
13. Bake the buns. The very moment they have golden tops and bottoms whip them out and brush with the bun wash

Serving suggestions: Eat while still warm from the oven, smothered in butter and, if you please, jam.

More information on Bedruthan Breaks available on their website

Tom Herbert’s Blog


A Postcard from the Waterford Festival of Food

Paul Flynn, Mark Hix, Richard Corrigan & Bill Knott enjoy some local stout

I sit in Dungarvan, gazing out at a gorgeous sunny day, with maybe a few hours before I dash to catch my flight back to London. Pondering the brilliant Waterford Festival of Food, I have to send you a quick little postcard on it.

I am immensely proud of what has developed in my little home town over recent years. We have food to rival anywhere and attract great food talent like Mark Hix & Richard Corrigan. The Tannery had some fantastic events that top anything I have been to elsewhere.

Brilliant local cheeses were showcased, fantastic beef, local oysters and other fish. Our local brewery, the Dungarvan Brewing Co made a terrific coffee & oatmeal stout with – of course – our local Flahavans. We have everything here, including Irelands only michelin starred chef outside of Dublin, Martin Kajuiter. I am bursting with pride.

What really made it was just how much fun it was, and the enthusiasm of everyone involved. I can’t wait to see next years evolution.

More soon once I get back to London town.

Martin Kajuiters Spring Chicken Starter at The Tannery Cookery School

West Waterford Experience Chefs

Paul Flynns Daube of Beef with Wild Garlic Mash

Unwinding after Service

Unwinding after Service - I told you it was fun!

Coffee & Oatmeal Stout

Making Treacle Cured Garvlax with Local Wild Salmon in OBriens Chop House, Lismore

Beef & Oyster Pie at OBriens Chop House, Lismore

Paul Flynn, Mark Hix & Richard Corrigan at The Tannery Cookery School

Mark Hix, Richarfd Corrigan & Paul Flynn at The Tannery Cookery School

Mark Hix, Richarfd Corrigan & Paul Flynn at The Tannery Cookery School

Tannery Cookery School

Unwinding After Service at The Tannery Cookery School

Award Winning Triskel Gaots Cheese from Portlaw, Waterford

Eunice Power feeds the masses paella

Cheesey Smile from the Raw Cheesemaker

Great Coffee from Badger & Dodo

Wild Garlic Pesto

Máire from The Tannery

The Farmers Market

Irish BBQ

Some locals chow down


This Weekend: Waterford Festival Of Food

I am bursting with excitement! This weekend is the Waterford Festival of Food in my hometown of Dungarvan in Ireland. There is so much great stuff going on and I will be filling my boots.

Of course, I am going to wax lyrical about it. We have a brilliant food culture there and I frequently rant about it. In case people didn’t believe me, I brought four other bloggers there, and they loved it too. And now, Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix are popping over to cook dinner this weekend.

The weekend is peppered with Bus Bia (Bia is food in the Irish language) tours including a Beer & Seafood one on Saturday, and  a Seaweed Seminar on Sunday. There will also be Farmers Markets, walks, talks, demonstrations in the town hall and lots of fringe events.

Highlights (for me!) are:

The Dungarvan Brewing Co are launching a festival beer – a coffee and oatmeal stout. It will be available in the Craft Beer Garden at The Moorings all weekend. Only established one year,they have already won several awards and have fans like Darina Allen and Paul Flynn. Me too, if you’re wondering ;)

Thursday 14th Aril, West Waterford 3 Chefs Kitchen Supper at The Tannery

While not strictly speaking a part of the Waterford Festival of Food, this will be a very special dinner bringing together the talents of Martijn Kaujiter (the only Michelin Starred chef outside Dublin), Eddie Baugio from O’Brien’s Chophouse and Paul Flynn. They will cook a kitchen supper showcasing the best of West Waterford cooking and produce with seasonal vegetables from our own Tannery garden.  The evening kicks off with rhubarb martinis, made by Justin Green of Ballyvolane House and a short demo by the chefs, describing what they are cooking and why they like to cook this way.   Places limited to 30 are €55 each and this event is now fully booked.

Friday 15th April, Food Camp 2: Following on from the first Food Camp in Kilkenny last year, Waterford Festival of Food is host to Food Camp 2. The Food Camp is attracting some big names in Irish food circles and will set the agenda for debate on the food industry which is seen as one of the key economic drivers as the country bids to haul itself out of recession.

The event at King John’s Castle will involve free speaking sessions and panel discussions. I will be on the panel but don’t let that put you off! Speaking slots are available to anyone with skills and experiences to share with others interested in or already involved in the food industry in Ireland. Intending participants simply register by emailing with an outline of their topic. You’d be surprised at who you might meet there.

There will also be a special 6 course tasting menu in the Tannery Restaurant celebrating the Waterford Festival of Food  – €55 per person.

Saturday 16th April, Richard Corrigan & Mark Hix at The Tannery Cookery School with Paul Flynn

On Saturday 16th April Richard Corrigan and Mark Hix will cook a kitchen supper in the Tannery Cookery School.  Richard and Mark need no introduction here.  Dungarvans own Paul Flynn will cook the main course and the evening kicks off with cocktails followed by a short talk by the chefs and supper.  Places limited to 30 are €65 each and this event is now fully booked.

Further information is available online at

Hope to see you there!

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Modern Pantry Pop Up at Meza

Another quick photo post for you. Book writing is taking precedence this days but I can show you some photos!

Anna Hansen’s Modern Pantry of Clerkenwell has popped up in Soho and will be there until April 16th so you’ve got a little while to get in there before it closes. Modern Pantry fusion food favourites feature along with matched wines. There is also some recession bargains incl. a terrific lunch deal, a pre theatre menu and a 3 courses for £25 deal in the evenings.

I dined as a guest at the opening, and loved the Persian Lamb Rump (Persian spiced lamb rump, turmeric & curry leaf besan chips, green beans, preserved lemon yoghurt). Krupuk crusted soft-shell crab was a lovely starter (Krupuk crusted soft-shell crab, spicy brown crab sauce, shiitake, cucumber & Sichuan pepper pickle, shiso cress). Extremely crispy, I can never resist soft shell crab on a menu.


Towpath Cafe is Back

ANOTHER LONDON POST! Before all you non-Londoners, and folks generally more interested in cooking, unsubscribe en masse, bear with me. I am splitting this here blog in a forthcoming re-design into sections so that you can follow what interests you and only or all of that. Two of those sections will be cooking and London, you can follow either, neither or both!

Londoners, though, lookie here. Towpath is back! Joy. Sitting on the canal towpath in the sun with a friend eating toast and jam with a decent latte and a Bloody Bucks chaser – that’s prosecco and orange juice, I didn’t know either – and getting progressively redder in the sun (I am working on a recipe for human crackling).

But it’s back, and I am happy. I hope that they have more supper clubs this year too. The string quartet one last year was terrific.

Towpath Cafe, Dalston on Regents Canal off Kingsland High Rd.


Street Foodie : New Korean/Irish Kid on the Brick Lane Block

A wander around Brick Lane this weekend introduced me to Danny, a Belfast boy just back from 2 years in Seoul with a passion for street food, Korean street food in particular. He’s dishing up sliders in Brick Lane at weekends, starting from yesterday. He expects to expand the menu in time , right now you can sample Bacon & Kimchi sliders and Korean-Style Pulled Pork with Sesame & Ginger Coleslaw.

At two for £4 they are tasty & fun and well worth a sample. Once you’ve finished you get to eat a Korean sweet out  of a papier mache pigs head too. What’s not to like?

I love that street food is finally starting to take off in a serious way in the UK. It brings me right back to my market days, and I look forward to resurrecting my stall once my book is written. Watch this space for details later in the year.

For more on Danny, visit his blog:


This Weekend! The Chocolate Festival

The Chocolate Festival has set up its annual camp behind the Royal Festival Hall this weekend on the South Bank. Some of Londons best chocolatiers are there – William Curley, Damien Allsop, Hans Sloane – as well as market favourites The Dessert Deli with a sensational chocolate creme brulee and lots of other treats.

Impressively, there were lots of dairy and gluten free options too, check out Sugargrain, who is alos giving a masterclass today. Naturally, given the time of year there are lots of gorgeous Easter Eggs.

It’s on all day today, so if you’re free you could do a lot worse than check it out, then have a drink in the sun in the South Bank. A perfect sunny London day. And do go in the glass lift in the Royal Festival Hall – I PROMISE it will amuse. Just try and see. I love it. (Really, do!)


A Postcard from Emilia Romagna

On Monday and Tuesday am of this week, I was in a sleepy little town in Emilia Romagna, by the river Pellegrino. Of San Pellegrino, yes! We got there by windy roads that dipped and climbed fiercely through the mountains. I did well to hold on to my breakfast.

The focus of the trip was to learn about coffee with Gaggia, but I had a wander around, met some locals and purchased salamis and other delights for my belly and my kitchen.

The highlight – coffee aside – was a lunch at a local Trattoria, Trattoria Toscana Castelli Di Pellegrino. The menu was typical of the region and quite classic, I had the  wild boar ragu with papardelle to start, perfect rich egg pasta and a light soothing ragu.

Veal t-bone for mains was a sensation, beautifully light and packed with flavour. It was all washed down with chianti and with terrific fried artichokes, potatoes and stuffed tomatoes on the side. We refused dessert and limoncello but they brought some anyway, then left the bottle on the table.  Dangerous!

All the while the owner was drinking wine with some buddies including the town mayor down the back. There was much shouting and laughing. They were having lots of fun. Just look  how happy they look?

It was all very reasonable and on such a gorgeous sunny day, where would anyone rather be? I must get back to Italy soon, it’s so laid back and frenetic at the same time, I love it.

So now, it’s back to work. Back soon with more on coffee.


A Postcard From Florence

Greetings earthlings! I am making my way back from a very quick trip to Florence & Gaggia near Bologna (more on that soon), and thought I would take advantage of the airport wifi to upload some photos!

The weather is gorgeous and there is lots of great food everywhere. I sadly managed to develop a bladder infection so I will have to wait until my next trip to explore the restaurants properly. I did have a walk around though and explored one of the markets and lots of little shops. My luggage is rammed with fabulous tomatoes, extremely pungent fresh garlic, salamis, courgette flowers and lardo. I love that stuff!

Back soon with some Tuscan recipes!


Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Crab claws are very common on restaurant menus by the sea in Ireland, but I rarely see them here. Perhaps this is because I don’t spend enough time by the sea here (I don’t), or perhaps we just love them more in Ireland. Either way I bet many of you don’t cook them much at home? I don’t either. I don’t know why that is.

At the market at the weekend, the fish stall had 1 kg of crab claws just sitting there, and I thought, oooh, I bet they would be lovely in a wild garlic butter sauce! They were, they were really good, but not just because of the wild garlic but also because of the robust smokey and warm undertones provided by some chipotle that I had brought back from the US with me on my recent trip there (you can get it very easily online here too).

They look like a lot of work, both to cook and to eat, and they are a little bit for both. I had to prep them a little bit to get rid of random broken bits of claw stuck on the end, but it took minutes and wasn’t too gruesome. To eat, you can suck the meat out or tease it out with a fork, I prefer to smash it with my crab claw pincer things. A nutcracker would do the job very well too.

If you can’t deal with the crab claws, and it’s ok if that’s the case, I think this sauce would be terrific with scallops and prawns too.

Crab Claws with Wild Garlic & Chipotle

Serves 2 as a starter or more to graze

600g crab claws, raw
50g butter
2 tbsp chopped wild garlic
1 tbsp chipotle, roughly chopped
100 ml white wine

Reduce the white wine by about a third in a hot shallow pan.
Add the butter, the wild garlic and the chipotle.
When the butter has melted add the crab claws and cook for 6 – 8 minutes over a medium heat until cooked through.
Season to taste.
Serve warm with good sliced bread to mop up the delicious sauce.