Comfort & Spice Preview in Sainsbury’s Magazine

Comfort & Spice Preview in Sainsbury's Magazine

The good folks at Sainsbury’s Magazine cooked some of their favorite recipes from Comfort & Spice and shot them to be included in October’s Sainsbury’s Magazine – which is in Sainsbury’s from today.

Comfort & Spice Preview in Sainsbury's Magazine

They’ve done a terrific job and I was positively beaming when I saw it. They selected Chicken & Chorizo Pies, Blaas (those beautiful fluffy rolls), Halloumi & Pomegranate Salad and Orange & Cardamom Jelly.

Comfort & Spice Preview in Sainsbury's Magazine

So, if you’d like a preview – hot foot it to your local Sainsbury’s today. Comfort & Spice is also available in book shops and on Amazon now.


Things Just Got Very Real! Comfort & Spice Now Dispatched

And if you were one of the folks to pre-order, you will likely have it tomorrow or very soon after. The first review is in already

This is another brilliant edition in the New Voices in Food series. Niamh Shields is an Irish food writer with a fresh and witty take on every- day cooking. The ‘spice’ in the title refers to the seven spices Niamh uses in her kitchen. She wrestles economical cuts of meat into dinner party-worthy dishes like lamb breast with persillade crust and slow-cooked pork cheeks in cider. There are plenty of worthy suggestions for ‘Tuesday night’ dinners but this volume shines with its ‘Eight Great Big Dinners … and what to do with the leftovers’ – who can refuse that kind of economy of gesture?

So lovely, I really can’t tell you how amazing it was to read that. A book is heart and soul, and it really feels a little scary putting it out there.

In other news, I am doing a demo at the wonderful Abergavenny Food Festival on Sunday 18th Sept at 11am, with fellow New Voices in Food author, James Ramsden. Tickets available now.

James is also running his Supper Club, The Secret Larder, at Abergavenny, so get in quick. Two of my other favourites Signe Johansen and Trina Hahnemann are running a session on Nordic Cuisine at 12.30 on Saturday.

I am absolutely thrilled to be part of such a great food festival. More info on the Abergavenny programme

Potato Cakes with Frank Hederman Smoked Salmon and Cucumber Pickle - recipe from Comfort & Spice, and photo courtesy of Jeanne Horak,

Some of you were curious, and many of you came to my Comfort & Spice Brunch Club. It went terrifically well with great people making it extra special. It was also a fantastic dry run for my Comfort & Spice Café at the Theatre of Food at Electric Picnic on the 3rd & 4th of September.

I will be serving some brunch dishes from the book and some of my personal favourites, including one not in the book – although it should be – my bacon jam on soda farls. More details on that very soon.

Those of you about to receive the book – I really hope you like it. If you have any queries at all, please email me. And if you do like it, I would be very grateful for an amazon review, as they really help position the book well on Amazon (so I am told :).

If you haven’t bought it yet, and want to get it pre-publication, order it on Amazon today to get it very soon!


Announcing: Comfort & Spice Brunch Club, Starting this Weekend!

It’s 2.5 weeks to the launch of my first cookbook Comfort & Spice! *Nervous* *Excited*

My publisher, Quadrille, have very kindly allowed me a preview for readers. So, from this weekend, I will be starting my Comfort & Spice Brunch Club on Saturday 20th & Sunday 21st.

It’s a bit of a bargain, I think. A copy of the book, full brunch, bloody mary / bellini (made with my favourite Bisol prosecco), all for £30. I will also be serving my bacon jam. There will be two sittings on each day, at 10.30am & 1pm.

It’s completely open right now but places are limited. FYI: I will need you to pay in advance too. The first weekend of brunch sessions will be near Camden, address details will be provided after payment.

To book, email me on and I will get back to you asap.

Can’t wait!


Recipe: Pimp My Piri Piri Poussin

Piri Piri Poussin. Say it. Fabulous, isn’t it? Also delicious, and one of my favourite things to make. I’ve pimped this traditional dish with my favourite n’duja sausage in place of chilli and it works a treat. Bling bling.

There’s no great secret to great meat on the barbecue or roasted in the oven. On a basic level, all you need is a proper marinade and to marinade it for long enough.

Vinegar works wonders with meat, and is terrific when balanced with sugars – whether molasses, sugar or honey. Piri Piri is a terrific vinegar and chilli based marinade with some herbs, often oregano, from Portugal originally, but most often now associated with South Africa.

I’ve pimped my piri piri with some N’duja, that wonderful Calabrian spreadable sausage which I love, well you must be bored of it now. I have been writing about it for years. Did you miss my n’duja pig? (no?!).

Anyway, this is a great dish. Piri piri poussin, spatchcocked to increase surface area, all chilli and vinegar and herbs normally, becomes spicy sausage and vinegar and herbs with tomato for sweetness and balance.

It may seem weird to spread sausage on a poussin but it is thin like a pesto and spreads perfectly adding a rich spiced umami layer to the poussin, which with enough marinading perforates and tenderises the flesh. The poussin is especially perfect for it, packed with flavour, quick to cook and a perfect portion for one. It’s also super delicious.

If you have some marinade leftover, heat it and serve it on the side like a chutney and dip the chicken in it. I would even suggest making a bit extra to do this.

Note on the recipe:
don’t forget the marinade time!

Recipe: Pimp My Piri Piri Poussin


2 x poussin, spatchcocked
90g n’duja sausage
1 good tomato, peeled deseeded & diced
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano leaves + some for serving
2 tbsp good red wine vinegar


Peel the tomatoes by carving a cross in the base through the skin and submerging in boiling water for 15 – 30 seconds, until the skin starts to peel away. Remove the seeds and chop into fine dice.

Sauté over a low – medium heat for about 10 minutes until the tomato softens. Add the n’duja and stir until dissolved through. Add the vinegar and oregano.

Allow to cool and spread over the skin of the poussins. Massage into the skin and leave to marinade in the fridge for 2 – 4 hours or overnight if you have time.

Preheat your oven to 200 deg C.

Roast the poussins for 35 – 40 minutes checking on them and basting them halfway though. The sausage can get a bit crispy but basting prevents this.

Serve with some fresh oregano sprinkled on top, and enjoy, they’re delicious!


Recipe: Naughty But Nice N’Duja Devilled Eggs

N'Duja Devilled Eggs

What, what, what? N’duja devilled eggs! What are those pray tell?

Well, dear reader, I think the devilled egg is much maligned. I love it in every form from the most simple, to one that’s been pimped with anything from spices to pork (or pork and spices), as I have done with this n’duja one.

I have written about n’duja many times, I even have an n’duja pig. It’s a spicy spreadable sausage from Calabria in Italy and is so utterly addictive, that I worry what is in it. This week, I have been working on some recipes that use it as an ingredient as I want to enter a competition (you know how I love them). So it’s been an n’duja kind of week.

I had a little left over at the end of my n’duja frenzy, and fancied something brunch-like and snack-like, so I pimped my devilled egg. This is simple, spicy and meaty, and is in an egg. What’s not to love?

Eggs love chilli and spices (egg curry, huevos rancheros), pork and eggs are a dream team (bacon and eggs etc.). I kept this simple, working with the strengths of the n’duja, the spiciness and richness, adding a little red wine vinegar to cut through the richness, a little fresh oregano to lift it and a fresh juicy seasonal English tomato, to give it some fruitiness.

It’s easy, quick and a little different for a weekend brunch. I think some little quail ones would make a lovely pre dinner canapé too.

Notes on the recipe:

    N’duja is widely available through Waitrose and good Italian delis.

    If in a rush you can substitute a tbsp of tomato puree for the tomato, but be sure to cook it through. A fresh tomato in season is fruitier though and will give better, lighter results.

    To peel the tomato, cut a cross through the skin at the bottom and pour boiling water over for 15 seconds or until you see the skin at he cross start to pull away.

    I think oregano works really well here but parsley would be a decent substitute.

Recipe: Naughty But Nice N’Duja Devilled Eggs

Serves approx 4 – they are quite rich


6 eggs
50g n’duja sausage
1 good tomato, peeled deseeded & diced
1 tbsp fresh chopped oregano leaves
1 tsp good red wine vinegar


Sauté the diced tomato gently for about 10 minutes in a little olive oil until soft.

Chop or tear the n’duja and add it to the tomato. Stir thoroughly and let it sit over a low heat.

Add the oregano and vinegar, stir and taste, adding more vinegar if necessary (that depends on your n’duja and tomato).

Boil the eggs until hard boiled (about 6 – 7 minutes from room temperature with boiling water from the kettle to start).

Cool by submerging in cold water (they will continue to cook otherwise). Peel , half, scoop out the yolk and mix with the n’duja mixture. Season to taste although you may not need any.

Put a teaspoon of the egg yolk and n’duja mixture back in each egg. Leftovers are chefs spoils.

Serve cold. Enjoy!


(Super Quick & Fabulous) Recipe: Burrata with Oak Smoked Tomatoes & Basil Oil

Sounds complicated, no? It really isn’t. This is the quickest most delicious dish you will make, and like all good things in food, it’s all down to the sourcing.

Burrata is a magical cheese from Puglia in Italy. It consists of an outer mozzarella coat filled with mozzarella bits and fresh cream. Shaped still warm, it is tied at the top, traditionally wrapped in leaves as an indicator of whether the cheese was good to eat. If the leaves were brown, it was off. Today it is more common to wrap it in plastic.

I still remember my surprise and delight the first time I cut into burrata and watched the cream sigh out. It is utterly decadent. It is also available truffled, which takes it to another level.

Burrata must be fresh. I sourced this one from a new deli in London – Melograno Deli – and, disclosure, it is owned by my friend and fellow blogger Dino. Dino has an incredible knowledge of food and a finely tuned palate, so I was very excited to hear it was opening.

I trekked over yesterday and was delighted with what I saw. I bought a lot to take home too so anticipate some fine cooking adventures. My favourite Pastificio dei Campi pasta is stocked there, SAP n’duja in the jar (remember my n’duja pig?), wonderful carefully selected charcuterie (easily some of, if not the best I have had in London), Square Mile Coffee, terrific parmesan and other cheeses, retaurant quality food to take home (from one of Dinos favourites – I can’t recall the name), Italian craft beers, a broad wine selection for all price ranges and much more. It’s a deli paradise.

But the burrata, what did I do with it? What exactly is in it? Well, another one of my favourite things is Isle of Wight Oak Smoked Tomatoes. I am going to the Isle of Wight tomorrow and it got me thinking about them and it and I fancied a pre Isle of Wight, Isle of Wight supper, if you know what I mean.

I get tomatoes from the Isle of Wight farm most weeks at the market, they are full flavoured and the antithesis of those awful Dutch waterbombs. The oak smoked are a whole other level, an intense tomato explosion. I came across them a few years ago and thought – TOMATO BACON! – there is that same umami whack and intensity with a sweet rich tomato base, I always have some in my fridge and was grateful when I spotted them lurking at the back to put with my burrata.

I decided that I would do a twist on a traditional caprese with the tomatoes inside in the burrata, just tucked in gently, paddling in the cream. I also made a quick basil oil to dress it with.

It was so quick, and really delicious. I think a dream starter to share for friends or an indulgent lunch for one.

Notes on the recipe: it is best to make the basil oil in advance but if you haven’t done this, just stir the basil into the oil and serve. It won’t be as full flavoured but will still be good. If you are making it, make more and keep it in your fridge for a week or so.

If you can’t get the tomatoes, subtitute with good sun dried, oven dried or semi dried tomatoes.

Recipe: Burrata with Oak Smoked Tomatoes & Basil Oil

Serves 2

1 x burrata (freshness is absolutely key)
Approx 12 oak smoked tomato halves

Basil Oil

100ml extra virgin olive oil
handful of basil, shredded

Make the basil oil by adding the shredded basil to the oil. Allow to infuse overnight in the fridge if possible.

Gently unwrap the burrata and cut the top off – this is a chefs treat in my house and I devour it there and then.

Gently tease open the top and place the tomatoes inside, taking care not to squeeze the cream out.

Drizzle with basil oil, season and you’re ready to serve.


Cooking Up A Riot

(This started as a food post, where I was going to share my recipes from the dinner I cooked for friends over the evening of the London riots and the evening after where we stayed in doors for fear of one. It became something else and I thought I would post it anyway)

I arrived back from Dubai on Monday evening extremely tired and happy to be home. I wandered slowly through the streets of Dalston, jetlag dragging on my limbs like deep pools of treacle, noting quickly the intense sirens and many helicopters. A quick browse of twitter and I discovered that London was up in arms and there were riots happening and brewing.

Living in East London, a lot of it was happening on my doorstep, although, thankfully not actually so. We could hear everything and stayed vigilant but as we live in a residential area with no shops or restaurants to loot, they didn’t trouble us. I followed poor Uyen’s trauma over twitter, hoping she would be ok with a car on fire outside her flat in Hackney. Thankfully they moved on and she was fine.

Turkish Community Protecting Dalston (Photo originally from twitter user @yassin

Remarkably, the local Turkish community defended their property and the rest of us, driving out the rioters. The Bangladeshi community in Brick Lane did the same and the Greek community in North London – do watch this great video on the Guardian.

I read many heartbreaking tweets from friends. One told of how in her local Hackney shop, she watched an elderly shopkeeper as he was told by two youths that they would burn down his shop that night. With tears in his eyes he graciously served them. I do hope his shop survived. Another friend tweeted of the fireman he found weeping in a nearby park.

Elsewhere, restaurants were vandalised and invaded with a mass mugging by looters at London favorite The Ledbury. Rioters took jewellery, wallets and mobile phones from diners before being chased out by chefs brandishing knives. I read first about it when a chef, Harry Wilkinson, whose parents were dining there told him and he tweeted it, then when one of the chefs, Isaac McHale, confirmed it on twitter himself. Touchingly, many regular customers turned up the next day offering to clean up. The Ledbury refused to close the next day too, bravely opening their doors to the public.

Most shops and restaurants closed but some, resilient, stayed open. I suspected things might stay calm yesterday but just in case, stocked up. Instead of riots, the reality yesterday in Dalston was that it was a gentle, calm and sunny evening, and there were no riots at all. No doubt due to the increased police presence all over London, and I think the riot frenzy had hit a climax the night before. I don’t envy their job, what a tough week they have had.

#riotcleanup in Clapham Junction - organised over twitter - photo from twitter user @lawcol888

#riotcleanup in Clapham Junction - organised over twitter - photo from twitter user @lawcol888

Frustratingly, clumsy mainstream media reporting decided to blame twitter and blackberry messaging for the rioting. Ridiculous to say the least, for me it was a sane and reliable source of information on the situation (this of course does depend on who you follow but most journalists are on there and were reporting from the scene). It is also where the heavily attended and extremely efficient #riotcleanup was, and continues to be, organised from. Celebrities like the Kaiser Chiefs got involved, and tweeted as they swept.

I saw someone tweet that blaming twitter for riots is liking blaming typewriters for death threats. Hear hear! It was nonsensical to do so.

Bigger issues were at play – where was our political leadership and why were the police so unable to cope until David Cameron finally returned from holiday and increased the numbers on the streets? Why are we even considering cutting their numbers?

I know we’re not out of the woods yet, but hope this is it for now. These riots are indicative of deep social problems that need to be understood and addressed. I am not defending the violence of the riots – that was wrong and criminal and cannibalistic to devour their own communities. That is the issue though, they don’t feel like they are their communities. The political leadership has disappointed so far, but can we please look into this? Otherwise, next time will be only worse. An inclusive, less elitist society should prevent it.

I will leave you on a nice note. London does pull together and most people are good. Just look at this riot shield tea tray, with tea from some good folks in Camden for the tired police in a calm instant mid-riot.


Some Toronto Food Highlights: Part 2

My naming conventions for my Toronto posts are even confusing me now. But I wrote a Part 1 then – HAD TO, JUST HAD TO WRITE – that bacon post, which has screwed things up a little. I am back now with the second and final part of my Toronto food highlights round up.

To re iterate, as it has been a little while, I was very impressed with the quality and variety of restaurants there and these are a few highlights. And their playlists! That’s a bit random I know but each one could have been playing from my iPod. There’s a strong indie buzz running through Tornto, both in fashion and music and I like it.

Here you go!

GIANT buttermilk pancakes at The Counter in The Thompson

Scallops at Toka

Maple Burger at E11even (with local craft beers)

Gnocchi Poutine with Oxtail Ragu at Mildred's Temple Kitchen

Tasting Menu at Colborne Lane

Tasting Menu at Colborne Lane

As soon as I get some time, I hope soon, I will publish a proper piece on my favourite places so that you can find them when you visit.


Tasting Toronto: Peameal Bacon at Carousel Bakery, St Lawrence Market

Maple Glazed Roast Peameal Bacon

One of the many joys of travelling is discovering the hidden local food gems. Those foodstuffs that have developed there through local customs, locally grown or caught products or immigration. Everywhere has them, and Toronto has peameal bacon.

Peameal Bacon Sandwich at Carousel Bakery, Toronto

The name alone is enough for me to want to take a bite – something I haven’t eaten yet – an unexplored food joy. I find I am constantly seeking new experiences and I always find that first bite a wonder. Almost always good, sometimes – and rarely – awful. Tuna Salami I am looking at you, please don’t darken my door again!

It’s attributed to English influence – England at one point had a pork shortage and so imported bacon sides from Canada. I do wonder if we Irish had a hand in it though. Back bacon (which this is) is the favoured cut in Ireland, and it really reminds me of gammon. Toronto used to be called little Belfast too, and has a suburb which was once full of Cork people called Corktown. There is also Cabbage Town where Irish immigrants grew cabbages in their gardens to eat. I love that. Can’t my address also be in Cabbage Town?

Raw peameal bacon with it's lovely yellow coat

Peameal bacon was made by using ground yellow peas as a cure during the war years. This treatment ensured a longer shelf life and less bacterial problems. Over time corn was adapted as cornmeal became more readily available and was even less risky from a bacterial perspective

Carousel Bakery in St Lawrence Market, Toronto

What of the peameal bacon sandwich though? An essential pitstop while in Toronto is Carousel Bakery at St Lawrence Market. It is deservedly famous. Moist thick slices of peameal bacon with maple mustard in a hot bread roll is a perfect lunch. It reminded me so much of Irish bacon it whisked me right back to my childhood for a very pleasant ten minutes. Go.

St Lawrence Market, 92- 95 Front St E, Toronto, ON M5E 1C3, Canada