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Ramen Eggs (aka Nitamago Eggs) and a Pumpkin & Kale Sushi Rice Bowl

Ramen eggs. Deep joy! Let me introduce you to your best friend in your fridge. It just takes a little time and organisation, not much.  

Gorgeous rich flavour bombs, soothing as intense, and oozing. Ramen eggs take little time to prepare, the time is all in the marinade process. Ingredients can be as complicated as you like, some people add ginger, chilli or garlic, others add kelp for an extra flavour boom. I keep it simple, basic ramen eggs are everything I could want and they go with everything. A marinade of equal parts (decent) soy, sake and mirin (soft rice vinegar) bathing a peeled soft boiled egg, gently invades the yolk and eases it. Makes it richer, makes it gentler, makes it more intense. 


I have been eating these on top of congee (the most absorbing and comforting Chinese rice porridge soup – recipe soon!), they are wonderful oozing gently into chicken noodle soup and they are perfect on their own too, eaten just as they are. Here, I had them on a sushi rice bowl. I chose sushi rice because I love their stubby short grain nature. They stay firm and retain bite when cooked, and are lovely dressed with (more) soy and mirin. On top, whatever you like. This week I have had pork and pumpkin, brussel sprouts and bacon, whatever veg you like, maybe some meat and a lovely ramen egg. 


These make a great lunch, and are perfect packed up for work, for picnics, for train journeys, whatever you like. Play around and come back and tell me your favourite toppings. I am always looking for inspiration. 

Note on the recipe: I like my eggs really runny, but they are tricky to peel and for some dishes I like them a bit firmer. Cook your eggs to your taste and I recommend you cook extra, adjusting the recipe accordingly. You will never regret having extra (they will keep for 3 days in the fridge) and you might over zealously damage one as you peel (I did and still do on occasion).

Recipe: Sushi Rice Bowl with Pumpkin, Kale & a Ramen Egg

serves 1


Ramen Eggs

50 ml sake
50 ml soy sauce
50 ml mirin
3 eggs
a sandwich bag, or freezer bag

Sushi Bowl

100g sushi rice
1 tbsp good soy sauce
1 tbsp mirin
1 tbsp sesame seeds (and a little extra for sprinkling at the end)


75g diced peeled pumpkin (more if you like)
4 leaves kale or cavolo nero, the leaf stripped from the stem, washed and patted dry
a pinch of chilli
light oil for frying


The night before, boil the eggs to your likeness. I boil large eggs for 6-7 minutes, adding the eggs (at room temperature – I never store eggs in the fridge, in Europe we don’t need to). Refresh immediately in cold water (with ice if you have it). Peel when cold, gently taking care not to damage them. Prepare the marinade and put it in a sandwich bag or freezer bag with the eggs for minimum 2 hours, preferably 8 hours. The longer you leave them the more the yolk takes in, and the firmer it becomes. The eggs in this picture are 5 hours marinaded. If making more eggs, use a lunchbox or similar. You can reuse the marinade, or reduce it by half over heat and use it as a sauce (teriyaki!).

Cook the rice according to packet instructions. I cover the rice with twice its volume of water, bring it to the boil and then put a lid on it. I add more boiling water if I need to, a little at a time, when the rice is tender but still has bite, there should be little water left. I cover it with the lid again and let it absorb the remainder. There is no need to add salt as the soy sauce will season it. Don’t stir it too much as it has a lot of starch and will become sticky like risotto.

While the rice is cooking, sauté the pumpkin in a teaspoon of oil with a little chilli. When it is almost tender, add the kale or cavolo nero, tearing it as you do. When wilted take it off the heat.

Add the soy sauce, mirin and sesame seeds to the rice. Top with the pumpkin, cavolo nero and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. This eats very well warm or cold. Perfect lunch! Enjoy it.

Norwegian Escape Preview

Setting Sail on the Norwegian Escape

I would imagine that your thoughts on cruises are very much like mine were. I never thought that I would enjoy one. I love water, and I love a ship, but cruises themselves always seem so old fashioned and dated. Right? I worried about them being predictive. I worried about feeling like I would have to do the same thing every night. I worried generally about a lack of freedom, I dreaded not having my space. I felt I might be trapped on a big boat out at sea. I worried that maybe the food wouldn’t be very good, or not to my taste. I had never actually been on a cruise though, this was all based on what I thought a cruise might be.

I decided I should give one a go, and tried a particularly food-centric one last year. And, whaddya know, I quite like a cruise. A cruise is a lovely break for a water baby like myself. They are more private than I imagined and they are especially good for someone who doesn’t know how to stay still but needs to. Because with a cruise you wake up somewhere new every day without having to do a single thing, but sit there and look out from your balcony.

Whipping open the curtains each morning to see somewhere new and dramatic is a lovely experience. It is easy, there are no suitcases to lift with each new destination, no new hotels to check into, and lots of tours that you can do (if you want to). Or you just wander off the boat and come back at your leisure, which is what I mainly did. At every port we bought some local wine and food to enjoy later on. The best part of travelling is always the journey, and on a cruise the journey is the centre of it.

Cruises vary dramatically in what they offer and where they go. On my bucket list are cruises to the Antarctic, of the Norwegian Fjords, Alaska and a transatlantic voyage. Oh, there are some wonderful ones in Asia and Australia too, if we want to go there. Some are small and focussed, some are large and offer a lot. The most recent cruise I did was a 2 day cruise on the Norwegian Escape when the ship did a small cruise from Southampton prior to its maiden voyage from Miami. 

The Escape offers lots in terms of activities and spa, but I had just two days, so I focussed on the wine-ing and dining. There are 28 restaurants on the Escape (11 of which are complimentary). I flitted as much as I could, dipping in and out, sampling.

There are restaurants from James Beard Award winning chef Jose Garces (Bayamo and Pinchos Tapas Bar), Tobacco Road (a recreation of Miami’s oldest bar, at sea), a steakhouse, a churrascaria, a gelato bar, teppanyaki and several bars, one specialising in craft beer, one that is open for food and drink for 24 hours (it just happens to be an Irish bar), a few specialising in cocktails and a very decent wine bar (where they even have ice wine by the glass).

Lets start with the casual options. O’Sheehan’s 24 hour Irish bar. The menu serves Nathan’s hot dogs, burgers and items like Irish stew, round the clock. The list features craft beers and ciders as well as more mainstream options.  I loved the Angry Orchard cider from the US, with a hot dog with sauerkraut and bacon. 

The main dining room, Taste, is open for breakfast lunch and dinner. I had all three here, and appreciated that there was a varied a la carte breakfast menu (including pancakes, eggs benedict, granola and bircher muesli) and a classic dining menu with some higher end items that you could pay extra for. I had the beef consommé for starter and the surf and turf (peppered fillet steak and lobster tail at ¢29.99 extra) for mains. There is also a private dining area here. 

The cafés in the main area are open throughout the day serving teas, coffees and a variety of cakes and macarons. Which are perfect for coasting a mid-afternoon sugar dip.


The District Brewhouse has an impressive range of craft beers, 24 on tap, and over 50 bottled beers. The lobster roll is good too, I didn’t expect that in a bar on a ship. 

My favourite dining experience was the least expected, in the international fusion restaurant, Food Republic. This seemed a bit gimmicky with the menu being on ipads and the concept of international fusion leaning towards vague. Fusion rarely works well in my experience, and I was expecting not to like it, but the menu here really worked and the food was vibrant and well executed. The room is lovely and bright too, I ate at the Japanese style counter at night, during the day much of it is in daylight under enormous sweeping windows.

Mexican met Korean in the beef bulgogi tacos, Mexico again met Japan with the hamachi taquitos (basically a tuna sashimi taco), and the kimchi rice bowl was perky and gorgeous. There were lots of in house dumplings on the menu too, the chefs favourite were the short ribs but I had no room to try any at that point. 

It was a brief trip, but I also fitted in a Tony award winning musical. Not usually my thing but Million Dollar Quartet was fun, based on one evening at Sun Studios when Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins were all there. This night is well known and was the last time they were to play together.

Thoughts? The Norwegian Escape is fun, there is lots to do, and the food is varied & interesting, particularly when you pay a bit extra for the higher end. There was so much that I didn’t try, time being limited, but I really enjoyed the wine bar, the selection was large and the prices were reasonable. I enjoyed a dirty martini at Tobacco Road too. The rooms are comfortable and spacious and the service is very friendly and helpful. My top tip for any cruise is that it is essential to get a balcony as I had, if you can, so that you can luxuriate in your space and watch the world go by.

I reviewed the Norwegian Escape for its launch as part of a project with Captivate and as a member of the Escape Squad. All views here are my own, because I am fussy like that! :)


Eon Haul

Kitchen Essentials Giveaway! Le Creuset Casserole, Thermapen, Microplane & More

This competition is brought to you in partnership with E.ON. See if you could save money with their gas and electricity deals today. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Here is a lovely pre Xmas prize giveaway for you! E.ON gave me a budget for a shopping haul which I would then giveaway to you. What to buy? 

I wanted to buy wonderful things for your kitchen. I thought about a hamper, I thought about wine, and then I thought about kitchen essentials and the things that I use every day and would not be without. I asked you on twitter and facebook what your kitchen essentials are. There were many answers, and there was a lot of overlap. 

This comes up often. The Guardian interviewed me recently and asked me about the one thing that I could not be without in my kitchen. When I started out my kitchen was bare, but over the years I have added to it. The reality at this point is that I have a lot of kitchen kit, but as it was for me in the beginning, there are a few things that a passionate home cook should not be without: a great solid pot, a good knife, a wooden spoon and a decent chopping board. After that a good grater (I use a microplane),  a weighing scales, a good thermometer (I use a thermapen), measuring cups and spoons and as a superfan of the humble spud, I wouldn’t be without a potato ricer.  In my kitchen I also have lots of spice.

So, here is my haul, which you can win for your kitchen:

I chose to buy one of my favourite kitchen pots, a Le Creuset 30 cm shallow casserole. It is expensive but it is a great investment and you will have it a long time. When my sister got married I bought her and her husband a starter Le Creuset set.  

A thermapen thermometer, because they are speedy and accurate and allow me to fry to my hearts content in a normal pan, to probe meat, and sometimes just to check the temperature of the room. 

A good potato ricer, because fluffy potatoes make lovely gnocchi, potato cakes and mashed potatoes. 

A microplane for zesting citrus, for cheese, for ginger, for nutmeg, and anything else that might need it. 

Beautiful measuring cups by one of my favourite kitchenware designers (Ruan Hoffman). I had to include another photo, so you could see just how gorgeous!


Some spice, and one that is hard to come by. Some beautiful whole nutmeg, still in the shell. So potent and gorgeous. 

All for YOU! Once you guess the cost of my shopping haul correctly. To do this, simply leave a comment on this post remembering to include your email (not publicly, just in the form), or tweet both @eatlikeagirl and @eonenergyuk the entry figure or share the post on facebook liking and tagging the Eat Like a Girl facebook page and E.On facebook page

You have until the 9th December. Get commenting! Tell me how much you think this haul cost. I am so excited for one of you to win this :) 

A hint: It is a round number and nothing that I bought was on sale. I am not in any way trying to trick you, because I just wouldn’t do that. I want you all to be in with a good chance. 

E.ON Competition prize giveaway

Terms and conditions

  1. The prize is non-transferable and no cash alternative is offered
  2. Open to UK residents aged 18 and over
  3. Competition is closed to employees and relatives of Eat Like A Girl and E.ON
  4. The competition opening date is 18/11/15, and the closing date for entries is 9/12/15.
  5. One entry per person, entries should be posted as comments on this blog post. Optional entry methods are to tweet both @eatlikeagirl and @eonenergyuk the entry figure or share the post on facebook liking and tagging the Eat Like a Girl facebook page and E.On facebook page
  6. The winner will be chosen by compiling a list of correct answers and using a random number generator.
  7. The winner will be contacted direct. If the winner does not respond within 7 days a new winner will be drawn.
  8. The winner’s name will be available on request. By entering this competition participants consent to their full name being available by request from Eat Like A Girl
  9. The prize will be sent within 28 days of receipt of the winner’s address
  10. E.ON reserves the right to amend or withdraw the competition at any time without notice or liability
  11. Entry to this competition confirms that participants have read, understood and agree to be bound by these Terms and Conditions
  12. This competition is governed by the laws of England and any dispute shall be governed by the English courts.

Pumpkin & Coconut Tadka Dal

Dal, that gorgeous spiced lentil soup, is one of those dishes that I revert to on a cold day outside. When I want something full flavoured that requires little attention, something that I can make a big batch of, and eat for the next couple of days, treasuring every bowl. It is also one of the most frugal bowls of food that you can eat. Just pulses, water and spice and some garlic. In season, I add chopped tomato too. If I have it in the fridge, I will add some fresh coriander. Curry leaves are wonderful with dal too, fried a little with the spices. Dal is one of the dishes that I make when I don’t have the time or the inclination to get to the shop, so I work with what I have. To make a meal of it, I add a boiled egg on top, better still gorgeous perky quails eggs, boiled until just set with the yolks still soft.

I use moong dal for this, occasionally chana dal. I prefer moong dal as it is mushier when cooked, whereas chana dal tends to hold its shape. A combination of the two works well too. This time I added some pumpkin, well a kabocha squash to be precise. I love the rich deeply flavoured orange flesh, and the gentle creamy texture it acquires when cooked through. Some coconut milk gives it a layer of richness and mellows it out.

Recipe: Pumpkin & Coconut Tadka Dal


makes enough for 3-4 bowls

200g moong dal
200g chopped peeled pumpkin
1 tsp turmeric
200ml coconut milk
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

1 tbsp cumin
1 tbsp brown mustard seed
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
1 chilli, finely chopped (and extra milder ones for decoration if you like, as I did)
light flavourless oil like groundnut or sunflower, coconut oil works too


Cover the dal and pumpkin with water in a sauce pan, ensuring that the water covers the dal to an inch higher than it. Add the turmeric and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the dal to simmer gently. It will take about 20 – 25 minutes to cook. Top up with water if you need to, a little at a time.

About 10 minutes in, toast the cumin seeds in a dry hot pan for about a minute. Grind in a pestle and mortar or spice grinder.

Heat a tablespoon of oil in the frying pan and add the garlic and chilli for a minute. Then add the ground cumin and mustard seeds and fry for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat off.

When the dal is almost tender, add the coconut milk and stir through. Allow to cook further. When the dal is tender it is ready. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. The black pepper is important as it enhances the absorption of curcumin in turmeric, which is a natural powerful anti-inflammatory agent and anti-oxidant. It tastes good too.

Serve the dal with a teaspoon of the spices and garlic (and some extra chilli too if you like, fry it first). Garnish with whatever else you fancy as per the blurb at the top.



48 Hours in Dublin (And Where to Eat & Drink)

This post was sponsored by Avios who challenged me to Do More and spend 40,000 Avios getting to and in a location of my choice. I could have comfortably gone anywhere in Europe, but I chose Dublin, because I love any opportunity to go home, and reconnect.

48 hours in Dublin is a treat. So close to London, just over an hour on a flight, and for me an opportunity to reconnect and plug in to my culture.

Ireland is very different to the UK, and people often don’t understand that. Sure, there is a common language, but the cultures diverge. Everything you have heard about us being oh-so-very-friendly is true, even in a major city like Dublin you will find that most will chat to you for no reason other than being curious about who you are and what you do. Ireland is also a haven for creatives. Many artists, musicians and writers call Ireland home, as do many tech geeks (Dublin is home to the European headquarters of Google, Twitter & Facebook). For food lovers, the café and restaurant scene is bubbling, as is the craft drinks scene.

I had 40,000 Avios to fly to Dublin and to stay there. Via the Avios website, I could book a return flight from London City to Dublin with British Airways and also to book a stay in The Gibson Hotel, a modern 4* hotel about 15 minutes from the airport by bus and 10 minutes from the city centre on the Luas (a tram, with a stop conveniently directly outside The Gibson). The Gibson was comfortable and very friendly, with a good buffet breakfast included in the price.

So, that was my base. Where to eat? I caught up with some friends over the following nights and endeavoured to catch up with the fast moving Dublin dining scene. I had a drink or two as I did. Well, yes, of course I did!



Scandinavian and Asian fusion might sound strange, but when you consider that chef Kwanghi Chan was born in Hong Kong and raised in Donegal, it makes sense. Well, the Asian bit anyway. The Scandinavian influence is mainly in the drinks list and not on the plate. I had housemade har gau dumplings, crispy chicken potstickers, battered soft shell crab with thai basil and lemongrass and steamed kimchi buns.  SÖDER + KO is a fun spot and the food is good.

The Greenhouse

When I ate at The Greenhouse, I felt for sure that Michelin didn’t understand Dublin. How could they have overlooked chef Mikael Viljanen’s cooking in their Dublin guide? (He received a star in the most recent one a few weeks after, but still!). I went for lunch and had the set menu, a bargain at €34 for 3 courses. The raviolo of Iberico ham and veal, creamed cabbage with shaved truffle on top was a terrific Irish dish, a fond reflection of our favoured bacon and cabbage. Roast guinea fowl followed with root vegetables, cep cream, blackberries (topped with criossant velouté) and divine roast celeriac wrapped in lardo, topped with crispy onions. Layers of flavour and texture, very bright. One of the most exciting mains that I have had in a while. I finished with passion fruit soufflé with white chocolate sauce. Yes, just imagine it. Just like that. I had a couple of lovely wines by the glass on the side. The Greenhouse will be one of my first stops on my next trip for the tasting menu.

SMS Luna

I have been to Super Miss Sue the last two times I have been to Dublin. A smart seafood restaurant and takeaway, I have had good fish and chips here, oysters and sea urchin on toast. Recently, they have opened an Italian restaurant in the basement. I had dinner with a friend who loves to dine out but doesn’t get to as much as he likes. A perfect dining companion, we ordered a lot and shared everything. 

The room feels very much like a space in New York serving Italian food. The kitchen had a whole tuna delivered that day which featured in several dishes on the menu, there was also some terrific pasta dishes, including a spaghetti with black truffle and parmesan ravioli with wild boar ragu. The raw mushroom and artichoke salad was a bright fresh contrast. The wine list is interesting, featuring some natural wines. They will happily match wines for you too. Note: SMS Luna is open only from Wednesday to Saturday from 5pm.


L Mulligan Grocer

A terrific craft beer, cider and spirit house and restaurant too, L Mulligan Grocer has to be on your list when in town. Serving the best of Irish produce, creatively and with great care, L Mulligan Grocer is a vibrant Dublin pub set just outside the centre of Dublin in Stoneybatter. Try the pork belly, if it is on.



Grogan’s is a must. It is one of my favourite old school Dublin pubs and is an essential stop for a pin of plain (Guinness) and the toasted sandwich. You just can’t go to Ireland without indulging in this combination (we are obsessed with toasties!). Get a toasted special!

I will be back in Dublin at the start of December, so if you have any recommendations I would love to hear them. Please leave them in the comments below. 

Until then! 

Interested in Avios? I am sold. I didn’t think I flew British Airways enough to collect them, but I have now started collecting them as I shop. The blurb: Avios is the global reward currency for the British Airways Executive Club, Iberia Plus and Meridiana frequent flyer programmes in over 220 countries globally; as well as the currency for the Avios Travel Rewards Programme. It’s easy and free to become an Avios member. Simply go to or speak to an Avios UK call centre agent on 0844 49 333 99.


Trafilata with ‘Nduja, Oregano and a Crispy Egg

The food inspired by hunger, a lack of time and what is available is often the best. Sometimes that is how I come up with my most interesting recipes. Like today.

There is something about a crispy egg with a runny yolk. And what is the point of a runny yolk if you don’t have something gorgeous to drag through it? Something that will grab on to it and greedily try and entice some of that yolk and pull is with it as it is dragged through. The crispy egg was the first thing I craved as I was at my desk this morning.

Pasta. Good pasta. In this case trafilata, a spiral noodle extricated using a bronze die so it has a firm grip and superb texture. It has great texture when cooked al dente and I just know that the bends in it will show that egg yolk who is boss, but what to have with the pasta?

I thought herbs, and contemplated sage. Something fragrant and light. But then I remembered the fiesty ‘nduja lurking in my fridge waiting for its moment. Firey and rich, a Calabrrian spreadable sausage made with pork, hot Calabrian chillies and lard. So good. And perfect for this dish. ‘Nduja makes an instant sauce, is wonderful to boost a tomato sauce, and is perfect just on bread, or fried with some seafood like scallops or prawns.

This is easy and speedy and the best reward for 15 minutes work. Make it and enjoy it. And be prepared to make more immediately after.

Note: feel free to substitute spaghetti or linguine for the trafilata. I used Iberico lard as a cooking fat because I had it and I love it, I encourage you to seek it out. But also feel free to substitute with any other fat (butter, oil). Lard is misunderstood and is not unhealthy when used in small amounts. It is a real food, it isn’t processed, and it is a wonderful base oil for cooking. The best savoury pastries are made with lard too. If you can’t find ‘nduja (you should be able to source it online), substitute with chorizo, and chop it small.


Other ‘nduja recipes:

Potato & Tomato Hash with an Egg & ‘Nduja Onions
‘Nduja Ragu with Eggs for a Perfect Brunch 
Pimp My Piri Piri Poussin
Naughty But Nice ‘Nduja Devilled Eggs
Love at First Sight: My Gorgeous ‘Nduja Pig

Recipe: Trafilata with ‘Nduja, Oregano and a Crispy Egg

serves one hungry person
takes 15 minutes
prepare to make more immediately after


100g trafilata pasta (or spaghetti / linguine)
75g ‘nduja
1 tsp dried oregano leaves (Italian or Greek wild oregano are best)
sea salt
one good egg
some light oil or – do it! – Iberico lard or normal pork lard


Cook the pasta according to packet instructions.
While the pasta is cooking, heat 1 tsp of oil or lard and add the ‘nduja and oregano. Cook until melted down and fluid, and reduce the heat to the lowest.
When the pasta is almost al dente with just a couple of minutes to go, heat 1 tablespoon of oil or lard in a frying pan over a high heat. When very hot, crack the egg into it, and step back as it may splatter. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the egg and leave to cook.
When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the ‘nduja. When the egg white is set and crisp and the yolk is still runny serve it on top of the pasta.
Eat immediately and enjoy every bite. So good, right?!

Photography: Louise Hagger for The Guardian

For 4 more new Mexican recipes from me, head over to The Guardian to see some recipes that I developed for their Old El Paso Restaurante feature. Frijoles (Mexican beans), Elotes (the best cheesy corn on the cob), Spicy Slaw & a Chorizo, Red Pepper and Kale Quesadilla. Enjoy! 


Shackfuyu in Residence at the Bone Daddies Bermondsey Kitchen

Shackfuyu ticks a few boxes: great food, fantastic playlist, secret basement bar and a great drinks list (hello sake). From the team behind Bone Daddies, one of my favourite London ramen bars, Shackfuyu are serving Japanese soul food including eclectic and full flavoured fusion dishes like mentaiko mac and cheese and have been for the last (??) 6 months.

Shackfuyu do great things with their wood oven, sukiyaki style wagyu picanha, roast fish, and a wonderful hot stone rice with sesame, chilli & beef which I have burned myself on more than once. Worth it every time, enthusiasm often triumphs sense when there is good food in front of me. Instagram loves the Kinako French Toast with Soft Serve Ice Cream, but I can’t look past the Prawn Toast as Okonomiyaki, which is exactly as it says, a round prawn toast topped as an okonomiyaki is with Japanese mayo, brown sauce and shaved dried bonito flakes. Did I mention the Korean Chicken Wings?  

Unfortunately, Shackfuyu also ticks another box at the moment: closed. Just temporarily while they refurbish the Soho location. But, happily, until then they will pop up at weekends in the Bone Daddies Bermondsey kitchen. 

I expected a pop up in a commercial kitchen to be a little rustic, but this feels like it is built to stay. A little past Maltby St and Druid St Markets and past a commercial dry cleaners, I wondered if we had wandered the wrong way.

The menu at the pop up is in collaboration with Cornish Grill, and so there is lots of Cornish seafood featured, and we focussed on this. To start: a tasting flight of sake (£8 – 90ml with Masumi, Dewa Oka & Tamagawa), a cocktail (£7.50 – nashi chu-hi, a fresh, bright and refreshingly sour drink with shochu, lemon, nashi pear & soda)  and a couple of meaty Cornish rock oysters with a lively fresh chilli coriander granita (£3 each).

Mylor shrimps (from Mylor in Cornwall) with curry salt & lemon (£8.50) were deep fried whole an dso more

I already know the Shackfuyu menu really well (I have been five times), if it is your first time, I suggest the picanha, Korean fried wings, prawn toast as okonomiyaki, pork pluma, potatoes with Japanese curry sauce, and the roast sweetcorn with lime butter with seven spice pepper. 


Bringing San Sebastian Home to Your Kitchen: How to Make a Gilda Pintxo & Hedgehog Prawns

My trip to San Sebastian wasn’t all about pintxos and restaurants, although it was all about eating. I spent Sunday afternoon cooking with Tenedor Tours, and learning all about Basque food that I could cook at home.

We met in the lively old town of San Sebastian in a gorgeous apartment dedicated to Gabriella’s cooking classes. There was a long room with an open kitchen at one end, and a table set up for us to eat at after. The light was beautiful, crisp and Autumnal, and Gabriella was waiting, brandishing a bottle of Txacoli and a warm welcome.


Gabriella has been running tours in Spain since 1997. In San Sebastian she works with chefs from the Basque Culinary Center (where she also teaches), and puts together sociable fun Basque cooking workshops followed by a meal where you devour your efforts. Our chef was Íñigo Zeberio (Princess Bride fans, there are a lot of Íñigos in San Sebastian, and you may find that phrase  – My name is Íñigo etc. – circling around your head repeatedly). A San Sebastian native, Íñigo brought us through seven recipes, all very hands on with lots of tips and tricks shared too. 

We started with a clever recipe for vermut stuffed olives where the vermut (Spanish vermut, not vermouth) was stuffed with a very simple vermut gel made with vermut and xanthan gum. Vermut is a terrific drink if you haven’t come across it yet, it is gorgeous with soda and orange bitters (I brought both back with me). Then we moved on to that pintxo classic, the Gilda, which requires a little bit of skill to put it together, all very well described with a hands on demo, the details are in the recipe below too. 

After the gilda, we made a homemade mayonnaise which became part of a gorgeous rich salsa rosa, which in turn went into stuffed peppers. Urchin prawns (I immediately thought hedgehog when I saw them!) were prawns coated in crisp dried pasta and fried, served with basil mayonnaise as a dip. Pork secreto (yes: pork secret), is a fabulous cut from the pata negra pig shoulder. Dense, rich and so luxurious, we had this with a fruity piperrada, a pepper sauce which we made too. Íñigo also fitted in a gorgeous scrambled egg with fresh boletus (porcini).

Gabriella is on hand at all times with stories and plenty of Txacoli and Vermut. It was such a fun afternoon and now I can have a little taste of San Sebastian at home too.

More on San Sebastian: Where to Eat Pintxos in San Sebastian (Donostia), in Spain.

Gabriella runs many different types of tours, you can find out more on her website Tenedor ToursWith thanks to Gabriella for sharing her lovely recipes. 

The “Gilda”


A classic pintxo, perhaps the first with a name of its own. Green, salty, and a bit spicy, it’s the taste of the Basque coast on a stick.

Serves 4


4 olives
12 guindilla peppers
4 good salt-cured anchovies Maldon salt
Extra-virgin olive oil
4 long toothpicks


Line up the peppers and cut off the stems. Put three peppers on each toothpick, followed by one end of the anchovy.

Deftly slide the three peppers and lone anchovy to the other end of the skewer, and wrap the anchovy around the peppers, bundling them all up.

Bring everything back to its rightful and pointy end, and poke the pick through the last remaining bit of anchovy.

Add the olive to the end, drizzle it generously with good olive oil, and crush a pinch of flaky sea salt over the top.

With one bold move, eat the gilda in a single bite, followed by a sip of txakoli.

“Urchin” Prawns


Serves 4


8 prawns (or 12 prawns…or 16, perhaps)
Might as well go ahead and make it 20 prawns, to be safe. All-purpose flour
An egg from a happy hen
1cm pieces of angel hair pasta
Salt and pepper
Neutral vegetable oil
Mayonnaise + your choice of fresh herbs (try cilantro or basil!)


Arrange your breading station: a plate with flour, a bowl with a beaten egg, and another plate with the noodles.
 Set a couple of centimeters of oil to gently heat up while you work on your production line.

Clean the prawns, leaving the tail and last joint, and remove the gut with a toothpick.

Salt and pepper a clean plate. Yes, salt and pepper the plate. Arrange the prawns on the plate, and salt and pepper them from above. Both sides are now seasoned, no turning over required.

Gently flour, egg, and noodle the prawns, making sure the noodles are really stuck on there, and arrange them on an empty plate.

Heat the oil until a piece of the pasta sizzles on impact, reduce the heat a little and fry the prawns until golden.

Drain the excess oil on paper and let them cool for a minute while you make the dipping sauce.

Chop and add the herbs and spices of your choice to the mayonnaise.

Dip, crunch, enjoy.

This post was brought to you as a result of the #SeeSanSebastian blog trip, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with San Sebastian. I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Eat Like a Girl, as always. All of our lives are too short for any alternative!

Pintxos in San Sebastian

Where to Eat Pintxos in San Sebastian (Donostia), in Spain

Don’t even dare try to order tapas in San Sebastian. There are no tapas there (unless you happen to be in an Andalucian restaurant). In the Basque region and San Sebastian it is all about the pintxos (pronounced pincho). Small bites, served on sticks and piled high on the bars that line the San Sebastian streets. When finished you present the sticks to the bartender, and that is how they calculate your bill. Different sticks denote different prices where there is variation.

A little about San Sebastian first. A small city in the Basque country of 200,000 people straddling a long beautiful bay, San Sebastian is near the French border and is home to three of Spain’s seven 3 michelin star restaurants. It is second only to Kyoto for the number of michelin stars per square metre. This is pretty impressive but there is much more to this city. There are the many pintxo bars, the cider houses and all of the lovely local Txacoli wine. If you have not had it, I suggest you seek some out. It is lightly sparkling, dry and fruity. It is also way too easy to drink, but at 11%, that is ok (up to a point!). The cider in San Sebastian is very tart and dry. Both are poured from a height, which is an art in itself.


The original pintxo is the gilda, created in the 1940s in Bar Casa Vallés in San Sebastian and named for Rita Hayworth in the film Gilda. There was censorship in Spain at the time, and San Sebastian residents would hop across the border to France to watch banned films. The gilda, with olives, guindilla (a green pepper usually pickled in vinegar, and sometimes hot, but not usually) and an anchovy is tall and spicy, which reminded them of Rita. Swit-swoo. There are many different types of pintxos now, often served on bread or in bread, but not always. Men would have them with a drink after work before they went home, and for the locals they are still treated as an appetiser before the meal that follows.

I went on a pintxos tour in San Sebastian’s old town with Iñigo from Go Local San Sebastian on the Saturday lunchtime that I was in town, last weekend. We went to the two best streets for pintxos, 31 de Agosto and Fermín Calbeton. It was a perfect introduction to San Sebastian pintxos culture, the locals were all out enjoying a tipple and pintxos. The streets were buzzing. Iñigo is a passionate and enthusiastic local, and he has terrific knowledge.

Pintxos at A Fuego Negro

We started as we should with the gilda at A Fuego Negro, it was my first one ever but I had many more over the weekend. They have a modern and stylised approach to the pintxo which was a nice contrast to the more traditional bars that followed. I followed this with a fried sea anemone served with tigers milk, which was I think the best way I have had it. They can sometimes be too squidgy for me but the batter was crisp and a perfect contrast to the anemone inside. It was lovely that they were sourced from the harbour too. The tigers milk on the side was great (a Peruvian addition, it is what ceviche is cured in although this was less tart).

Pintxos at Gandarias

Our next stop was Gandarias which greeted us with the traditional heaving pintxos bar. It was very difficult to choose, I tried some solomillo (sirloin) with green peppers, a plate of gorgeous fried porcini (which were in season), and then we had a choice from whatever was on the bar or having one cooked (there were seafood and meat skewers available). There was red peppers stuffed with crab and then deep fried, elvers (tiny eels) with peppers on toast, tortilla sandwiches, lots of jamon, jamon sandwiches, and I had a small open sandwich of red pepper, morcilla (Spanish black pudding) and a fried quails egg and one of bread topped with jamon and three mushrooms drizzled with Idiazabal cheese, a local cheese made in Idiazabal from unpasteurised sheeps milk.

Pintxos at La Cepa

Our final stop was La Cepa, a quirky spot where all of the tables showcase something within. Ours had artwork made of sweets. Again, the bar was laden with pintxos, many many pintxos. We started with a gorgeous platter of jamon, which was glistening as it had been at room temperature for a bit (as jamon always should be, that way to better taste it). There was a beautiful plate of fried fresh guindilla peppers, a few hot as with padron (and in Spain it is also common to eat the green peppers from Gernika). There was dessert and coffees too, but I skipped dessert as I was already full of pintxos.

What a great introduction to San Sebastian!

For more info on Go Local San Sebastian Tours, visit their site. I highly recommend them. This post was brought to you as a result of the #SeeSanSebastian blog trip, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with San Sebastian. I maintain full editorial control of the content published on Eat Like a Girl, as always. All of our lives are too short for any alternative!


Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Chives and Cream Cheese

This content was sponsored by and for their campaign Potatoes: More than a bit on the side. This is a recipe that I created in partnership with them because, you know how much I love the humble spud, and I believe that they are under rated and under used. I adore potatoes and was delighted to work with the campaign.

Potatoes are my weakness. I adore them in all shapes and sizes. I look forward to the new potato season every year, I love little waxy ones in a salad, I love a boiled fluffy one with a little sea salt and butter, potato gnocchi are a joy, and crisps, well I am helpless in the face of some of them. Have you discovered purple potatoes yet? They are wonderful (but too hard to come by, lets change that!). 

Potatoes get a bad rap, but they are a great source of energy, high in fibre, low in fat and rich in vitamins C & B6 and potassium. They are speedy to prepare too, and can be as easy or difficult as you like. I love them diced and roasted with an egg and some herbs for brunch (along with whatever I fancy that day, be it chorizo, egg, or some peppers). I think the potato is perfect for a midweek supper or speedy weekend lunch. 

I grew up surrounded by potato farms, little pockets of joy in the Irish countryside. Now that I live in the UK I always seek out local varieties and try new things. Jersey Royals when in season, Maris Piper for mash, and in Ireland I love Kerrs Pinks and Golden Wonders. But I try everything, and I love finding heritage potatoes at my farmers market. 

Potatoes are a terrific vehicle for other things. Simple mash is superb, but what if you turned that into a pancake? Yes, what if you did that?! So easy, and I like to boil extra potatoes so that I can pancakes with the mash the next day. I base my recipe on Irish potato cakes, one of our best speedy recipes. You can serve them with meat also, of course, and you can serve them with vegetarian options too, they are also wonderful with a poached or fried egg. Try them with some ragu or chilli beef some time. Perfect! 

Tip: you can replace the cream cheese with creme fraiche for something a little lighter. Toss the leftover skins in a little oil and sea salt for wonderful crisp bites for after. Or even serve on top.

Recipe: Potato Pancakes with Smoked Salmon, Chives and Cream Cheese 

takes 30 minutes
serves 2 / makes 6 pancakes


300g boiled potatoes, mashed weight (approximately two medium potatoes)
25g butter
85g plain flour plus extra for dusting
1 egg
sea salt
black pepper
3 spring onions, finely chopped
150g smoked salmon
100g cream cheese
a little butter and light oil for frying


Preheat your oven to 180 deg C.

Mash the potatoes with the butter and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Add the flour and egg and mix throughly, then add the spring onions. Form a ball with the dough. Try not to overwork it, you just want it all to combine. Dust with flour and on a floured surface, shape the dough into a circle that is 1cm thick using your hands. Using a cutter or glass, shape the pancakes, reshaping the dough into a ball and flattening towards the end.

Heat a little butter and oil over a medium heat in a frying pan. Fry the pancakes until brown on each side, then place on baking parchment in the oven for 15 minutes until cooked through. This is primarily to cook the flour through.

Serve immediately with the cream cheese, smoked salmon and chives. If you like, chop about a tablespoon of chives and put it through the cream cheese.



Spaghetti with Clams and Chorizo

Spaghetti with Clams & Chorizo (Speedy, Easy & Very Tasty)

Have you got plans for the weekend yet? No? Right, get your pencil ready and write this list:

squid ink spaghetti (or just great pasta)
the best chorizo you can find
lots of lovely fresh clams
drinkable dry white wine (some for the pot & the rest for you)

and then make this. Do! I promise you won’t regret it.


This dish is perfect for an Autumn Saturday. It is speedy and it is so flavoursome. The chorizo gives the gorgeous briney clams a rich lightly spiced depth, the chorizo itself the colour of Autumn leaves. The squid ink noodles make it all very deep and rich (predominantly visually). It is speedy. The whole thing will be ready start to finish in 15 – 20 minutes. And you will want more, so prepare to have enough for seconds. You might even think of sharing it, with someone you like very much. Maybe.

Clams seem complicated but they are the easiest thing to cook, and the flavours are perfect, especially when you have the rumble of chorizo and the finely chopped parsley to keep it all in line. White wine helps make a gorgeous sauce with the garlic and the sea water released from the clams. And all you are doing is heating them until they cook and release the tight catch on their shells. The sauce coats the pasta beautifully and it is all so very good.


If you have never cooked with clams before do try this, and let me know how you get on with it. And don’t worry about it being fishy. This is light and briney and like getting a delicious splash of sea water on a seaside frolic.


Recipe: Spaghetti with Clams & Chorizo

Serves 2


200g squid ink pasta (I uses tonnarelli al nero di seppia from Rustichella d’Abruzzo) or good spaghetti or linguine will do well too
500g clams, fresh and in the shell
100g diced chorizo (fresh or cured)
A handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped very fine
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a small glass of white wine
a little light oil or extra virgin olive oil for cooking
sea salt (if necessary)


Soak the clams for up to an hour in room temperature water to remove any grit. Rinse thoroughly and remove any open shells that don’t close again when you tap them (they are dead and not good to eat).
Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and while it is cooking heat a tablespoon of oil in a large frying or sauté pan with a lid over a medium/high heat. Cook the chorizo until releasing its oils, then add the garlic and cook for a minute. Then add the clams and the wine and stir through. Allow the wine to reduce by half over a few minutes, then put the lid on and allow to cook for a few minutes until the shells have opened and the clams are cooked. Stir again. This should time nicely with the pasta being ready.
Drain the pasta when done and add to the clams with the parsley. Toss so that the pasta is covered with the lovely sauce and season with salt if necessary (it will likely be salty enough)>


Great Train Journeys: Over the Canadian Rockies from Banff to Vancouver on the Rocky Mountaineer

Mountaineering? No, that is not for me. Unless of course you mean Rocky Mountaineering through the Canadian Rockies with an old school dining car and upper level viewing car to soak it all in? Well, yes, of course! That is a different thing. 

The road to Banff from Calgary

The road to Banff from Calgary

My journey started in Banff at 6am at the end of September, and a sharp -2 deg C. That day would take me through the Rockies in late Autumn, with its turning leaves, cascading waterfalls and rushing rivers. We were headed towards Kamloops heralded by the bright early Autumn sky and the crisp sharp air.

I boarded the mountaineer, greeted by cheerful hosts at dawn, the sky dressed to match with a splash of pink ribbon light. I was excited, I adore trains and slow travel and I was allowing myself a couple of days to just be. How rare is that? For the next two days, that Rocky Mountaineer carriage would be my world.

All travel on the Rocky Mountaineer is in daylight so that you can absorb and appreciate the views. In the gold leaf carriage there are two levels. Downstairs is the dining room, dressed sharply in linen and silverware, and this is where you have your breakfast and lunch. Upstairs is the viewing carriage with a dreamy transparent domed ceiling. Everyone is excited, it is a journey of a lifetime for most. There were travellers from Australia, the US and Canada sitting by me. Some celebrating important anniversaries, some wildlife obsessives hoping to see bears, hawks, eagles and rivers dotted with bright orange sockeye salmon en route to spawn. The girl sitting next to me had returned with her parents, having done a different Mountaineer journey earlier in the year. 

The Gold Leaf service has the best food and drink offering, serving breakfast and lunch downstairs, and serving Canadian wines and craft beers in both sections of the carriage. There was an exterior vestibule too, an open space at the back of the carriage and I spent much of my time there, absorbing every minute. Service is excellent and so friendly, everyone knows your name. It was a joy to watch the world pass by at gentle speed, watching goods trains pass in the shelter of the Rockies, with their cargos of wheat and fuel, through enormous historic spiral train tunnels and admiring snow capped peaks as we weaved among them. Continuing on through the Rockies and over the continental divide.

The day starts with breakfast, 6 options cooked to order in the carriage kitchen, served in 2 sittings. If you are lucky enough to be served second (and on one of the days you will be), you will start your day with a warm cinnamon biscuit (or what we call a scone), jam and coffee before you go downstairs to indulge. I love breakfast eggs, and eggs benedict with Montreal smoked meat on an English muffin with tarragon hollandaise sauce proved too much for me to resist. Lunch was soup, followed by a Alberta ranchlands pork tenderloin and dessert.

We arrived at Kamloops as the sun was about to set. We were now in British Colombia, and we were to spend the night in a hotel organised by the Rocky Mountaineer. Our luggage was there already in our rooms, and the next morning it would be collected and would be waiting for me in the Fairmount in Vancouver, which would be my next port of call.

Kamloops has many restaurants, and the Rocky Mountaineer supplies all guests with a map detailing all of them, should you want to dine out when you arrive. I was jet lagged, and full, and all I wanted was my bed. Pure luxury! Just me and my book and a bright early start the next morning in that crisp mountain air.

Day two would bring us towards the Pacific Ocean and Vancouver. We were no longer in the Rockies and would see desert like interior landscapes (complete with scrabbling goats), river canyons and forests. The train would wind along the water and creep gently across high metal bridges, passing Hell’s Gate and lush river valleys. We had joined with the train from Jasper at Kamloops, and now our train was double in size, and I loved watching it wind behind from the vestibule.

Breakfast was scrambled eggs with kelp caviar and lemon creme fraiche, lunch was a perfectly rare piece of seared albacore tuna followed by lemon creme fraiche. A day with my book and some lovely Okanagan wines, and those gorgeous views. 

I was hoping that I would see a bear from the train. Just one. I knew there was lots around the Rockies and in BC too, but when I spotted the bear watching the train go by as we whizzed through the mountains, my heart soared a little. He stood just a few feet away watching us speed by. The Rockies, a bear, that gorgeous Autumn light.

We arrived into Vancouver in the early evening, and all I could think was, when can I do this again?! It is so relaxed with excellent service, lovely food and wine and beautiful views that you would otherwise never see. Just you, and the train, the Rockies, and time. Perfect. 

With thanks to Destination Canada who sponsored my trip. Details on the Rocky Mountaineer journeys and their packages are on their website


Hello Autumn! Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Dolcelatte and Kale (In Partnership with Galbani)

This post is a carefully selected sponsored post, in partnership with Galbani. I went to Galbani HQ to cook fonduta with Joe Hurd, a very talented Anglo-Italian chef (see video below for recipe). They also tasked me with coming with a recipe of my own, using one of their products. I chose dolcelatte, a gentle blue cheese created by Galbani, and a cheese that I love to nibble on.

Gnocchi drive the fear into most home cooks. I know, I have been there. Afraid of over working the dough and making them heavy, most people don’t work the dough enough (and it is a dough) and end up with something fluffy and despairing. I have been there too. What I realised, is that you need to show the gnocchi who is boss, while retaining a lightness of touch. Great cooking is all about taking control whilst retaining attention to detail. Lightness of touch, taking your time (when you can) and small details like fine chopping give best results. Of course, Italians will tell you too that cooking with love and care is all you really need, but love and care means cooking with tenderness and attention to detail so it all makes sense really.


I love gnocchi, so I made it my mission to figure these out. Both classic potato gnocchi and pumpkin gnocchi (you can find a recipe for these in Comfort & Spice), and sweet potato gnocchi too. Sweet potatoes work so well here, very soft and easy to work with, there is no need to put the sweet potatoes through a mouli or potato ricer, all you need to do is cool them down a little, and then mix in the flour, salt and nutmeg, kneading it in until fully incorporated and forming a dough. As the sweet potatoes are quite wet compared to normal white potatoes, I use semolina flour (specifically that used for pasta, semola di grano duro) to make the gnocchi. This is a little coarser than normal 00 pasta flour, and does a better job of forming a dough which still has a lovely sweet potato flavour.


When I first made these, I simply boiled them and finished them in the sauce, as is normal for gnocchi, but then I tried gnocchi al forno (gnocchi cooked in the oven) The blue cheese sauce reduced beautifully, the gnocchi crisped just a touch and the kale loved it. And who I am to deprive some kale of some oven action. You all know how much I love oven crisped kale chips.

For the blue cheese sauce, I used dolcelatte, a creamy blue cheese from Galbani. The dolcelatte goes so well with the kale and the sweet potato, like an autumnal holy trinity. This is rich but it is Autumn. Give yourself a break and enjoy some indulgent gnocchi.


Note on the recipe: the sweet potato gnocchi dough is delicate but don’t be afraid to show it who is boss. Allowing it to rest before making the gnocchi and before you boil it helps it hold its shape and results in a better texture.

I also cooked a fonduta recipe with Joe Hurd – a very easy and delicious Italian take on fondue. Details in the video!

Recipe: Baked Sweet Potato Gnocchi with Dolcelatte and Kale

serves 2


Sweet Potato Gnocchi

250g roasted sweet potato flesh (approx 2 reasonably sized sweet potatoes, peeled weight)
125g semola di gran duro (a type of pasta flour – easy to source in Italian delis or online)
sea salt
nutmeg, freshly grated
a little butter, diced

Dolcelatte and Kale Sauce

150g dolcelatte
250g single cream
2 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
a generous handful of kale, torn from the stem and roughly chopped

2 individual roasting dishes, about 6-8 inches long, lightly buttered or one larger one


Roast your sweet potatoes by pricking a fork in them and then putting them in a lightly oiled tray. Roast for approximately an hour until soft the whole way through. Remove from the oven and allow to cool a little before peeling.

Mash the sweet potatoes and add a generous sprinkle of sea salt, a grating of fresh nutmeg and the flour. Mix until well combined and knead lightly for just a minute or so. Cover the bowl with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave to rest for half an hour.

Dust a wooden chopping board (or similar) with some further semola di grano duro and roll into a log that is no more than an inch wide. Cut into small segments, less than an inch, and using a floured gnocchi paddle or fork, roll gently over the ridges, shaping the gnocchi with your thumb as you do. When you have shaped all of the gnocchi, cover with cling film or a tea towel for half an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200 deg C. Boil some salted water and add the gnocchi in batches, removing with a slotted spoon a minute after they rise to the surface. Leave in a bowl to the side with a little butter to keep them separate as you cook the rest.

Sauté the garlic in a little butter or oil for a minute over a medium heat, then add the cream, dolcelatte and kale. Season to taste with sea salt. When the cheese is melted and the kale is softening take off the heat and divide between the roasting dishes (or add to one dish) and finish with the kale and dolcelatte sauce. Stir gently so that some of the gnocchi is on top.

Roast for 20 minutes and serve immediately.


Nova Scotian Old Fashioned Grilled Lobster Rolls

I posted a lot of photos of lobster rolls when I was in Nova Scotia. Some of you were good about it, others were like: I WANT A LOBSTER ROLL, WAIL! So, it is only fair that I shared a recipe with you as soon as I returned, and here you are.

Lobster in Nova Scotia is plentiful and not expensive. A lobster roll costs less than £10 in a cafe or restaurant and is invariably packed with delicious fresh sweet meat. There are different approaches. Some are just soaked in melted butter, some are with mayo, others with creamed lobster, some have celery and pepper, some have nothing but lobster inside. They are almost always served in a bun, and usually a hot dog bun (although the hot dog buns in Eastern Canada are different to ours). 

One of my favourites was one that I made with the Kilted Chef, Alain, in his kitchen at a lobster-tastic evening, also involving gorgeous lobster caesars (a caesar is a Canadian take on the bloody mary with clamato, which is tomato juice with clam juice). Alain first steamed the lobster by cooking the lobster in a lidded pot in about an inch of salted water, the salt is important as the lobster is salty too, and if the water isn’t salted much of the flavour will leave the lobster for the unsalted water.

Alain suggests not killing it first, but if you are worried put it in the freezer for a few minutes to put it to sleep (they hibernate in cold conditions). After it was steamed and had cooled down, we extracted the meat and used it for the roll. They were gorgeous. Lobster rolls are served traditionally with potato chips or potato salad, we had a lovely fresh salad with ours.

To replicate the Nova Scotian hot dog buns, cut the sides off yours before toasting.

Thanks for the recipe, Alain! Enjoy everyone! 

Recipe:  Old Fashioned Grilled Lobster Rolls


6 hot dog buns
75g soft butter
500g lobster meat chopped
2 tbsp mayonnaise
50g diced celery
pinch of sea salt
pinch of pepper
75g shredded iceberg lettuce, divided into 6


Butter your hot dog bun on both sides and grill them on both sides. In a bowl mix the lobster meat, mayonnaise, celery and salt pepper to taste. Open your grilled bun and place 1/6 of your iceberg lettuce in, then spoon the lobster mixture onto the
center of the hot dog bun and serve.


With thanks to Tourism Nova Scotia and Destination Canada who sponsored my trip.

Purple Hasselback Potatoes with Pumpkin, Chorizo, Cheddarm Chilli and Thyme

Hasselback Purple Potatoes with Chorizo, Squash, Green Chilli and Cheddar

I love potatoes. They are just the best thing. I have always been a fan, as a child I had a phase where I would eat nothing else, and I have found a myriad of things to do with them since. I grew up surrounded by potato fields and we would collect the unwanted baby ones to make things with at home. Now of course they are trendy and more expensive than the bigger ones. Life is a funny thing. 

My potato joy expanded when I discovered that there were more types than just the potato that grew in the field behind my house. There were waxy and floury, red skinned and blue fleshed. There are even yellow fleshed potatoes from Peru. Of course all potatoes are from Peru originally, but you know. 

Occasionally I can get my mitts on purple potatoes at my farmers market. They used to be at the supermarket too but I guess maybe I was the only person buying them as they don’t sell them anymore. It is hard to beat a purple potato, both for visuals and flavour. They have wonderful sweet rich flesh (although nowhere near as sweet as a sweet potato, they are still quite savoury too). 

I have made crisps with them before (I love crisps), and served them with a chilli mayo dip. This time I went the hasselback route, cutting the potato into thin long wedges and roasting until crisp. Increasing the surface area this way not only looks superb, but it tastes great too. Especially when you baste them with butter relentlessly. And I did. They also look a lot more complex than they are. They are just potatoes that are not quite sliced through, and carefully. 

Of course you can use normal white potatoes and they will be just as good, but do keep an eye peeled for the purple ones just to try them. They are addictive and I think would be perfect for Halloween too, no? 

Recipe: Hasselback Purple Potatoes with Chorizo, Squash, Green Chilli and Cheddar

Serves 2 (or you know one for now and one for lunch the next day as I did)


4 medium potatoes, skin on, washed
125g butter (yes it is a a lot but the potatoes don’t absorb all of it)
75g chorizo, sliced in half lengthways and then chopped into horizontal slices
1 small pumpkin or squash (not a munchkin though!), deseeded, peeled and diced
1 mild green chilli
a few sprigs of thyme
100g cheddar, finely grated
sea salt
fresh ground black pepper


Preheat the oven to 200 deg C.

Prepare your potatoes by slicing them with a sharp knife not quite through to the end every 3mm or so.

Grease a baking tray and place the potatoes in. Divide the butter in 5 and firmly squish one fifth on top of each potato. Leave the remaining to the side. Sprinkle with sea salt and some of the pepper.

Put in the oven for 20 minutes, after which you should baste the potatoes with the melted butter, and continue to do this every 20 minutes. They should be finished after 60 minutes but this will depend on the size of your potatoes. They will be done when nice and crisp on top and soft within (test with your sharp knife gently).

While the potatoes are cooking, in a separate oven proof dish add the remaining butter, chorizo, chilli, pumpkin, thyme and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Mix well and put in the oven once the potatoes have been in a half an hour or so. Take them out after 10 minutes and give them a good stir. These should be cooked (when the pumpkin is tender), once the potatoes are done. If done before the potatoes, remove them and put back in the oven for 5 minutes before serving.

Serve when done with a quarter of the cheese on each and the chorizo and pumpkin mix.



A Postcard from Canada (Alberta -> British Colombia -> Nova Scotia)

Greetings lovely readers! I have just returned from an 18 day trip exploring Canada. It was pretty epic, starting in Alberta (Calgary & Banff), moving to BC (Vancouver & the Okanagan) and finishing in Nova Scotia (Halifax & Cape Breton mainly).

Here is a little postcard – enjoy! Back soon with recipes, stories and details.

I had less than a day in Calgary but I did it justice in the time visiting Pigeonhole, The Nash, Corbeaux Bakehouse, the Yellow Door Bistro and Charcut. I also managed a little spice shopping in the wonder that is the Silk Road Spice Shop. The food scene in Calgary is thriving and has been growing enthusiastically for the last 5 years. As is common now there was lots of local sourcing, cocktails are popular and well executed. Calgary is inland and is famous for beef, but there are interesting takes on fish too. Did you know that there are cowboys in Calgary? Yeah, and one of the worlds largest rodeos! Boutique bitters are a thing, and there are lots of interesting Canadian ones, which make for very interesting drinks. It is definitely somewhere I would like to return to, both to explore the food scene locally but also to explore the Rockies and areas like Jasper, further.

I then headed to Banff to board the Rocky Mountaineer. I am a little obsessed with trains and I love slow travel. This trip has been on my bucket list for a while, from Banff in the Rockies through to Vancouver over 2 days. A luxury experience with great food, how glorious is the carriage with the transparent ceiling? So immersive. It is also pretty hard to beat and old school dining car. The food and wine offering was very well executed, featuring local ingredients cooked well, and local wines and beers. The service was exceptional, and I especially loved standing in the vestibule, an exterior portion of every car where you could soak it all in.

I had a brief stop in Vancouver. I stayed in the Fairmount downtown, and had enough time for a couple of brunches (L’Abbatoir and Café Medina),  dinner (Royal Dinette) and drinks (Salt Tasting Room – all matched with charcuterie & cheese) and an afternoon tea (at the Fairmount where I stayed). Vancouver is a fun spot with lots going on. I definitely need to return and spend more time there.

From Vancouver to the Okanagan, one of Canada’s established wine regions. It surprises many to hear that Canada has a desert, there is also an enormous lake here, 131 licensed wineries, and many more grape growers. I visited the NK’MIP Desert Cultural Centre to learn about the Osoyoos Indian Band, one of the Okanagan First Nations. They also own a winery, NK’MIP Cellars, and produce terrific wines, my favourites their pinot noir and ice wine. We enjoyed them over a hyper local lunch cooked by Okanagan chef Chris Van Hooydonk at Backyard Farm. Justin Hall, a member of the Osoyoos Indian Band and assistant winemaker at NK’MIP Cellars also lunched with us and matched wines to the meal. It was a wonderful experience. I tried lots of wines while in the Okanagan, as with much Canadian wine, little is exported so you just have to dig deep and try as many as you can there. Right?

Following the Okanagan, I journeyed back to Nova Scotia. Canada is enormous, there is a 4 hour time difference between the two coasts and the East and West coasts contrast in many ways. I love Nova Scotia, I have visited twice before to see a friend but had never explored the region properly. This time I got to visit Cape Breton, a large island to the north of Nova Scotia which had lots of Scottish, French and Irish settlers, and the Celtic music and language traditions are very much alive there. I also explore Halifax returning to my favourite Obladee (who are now doing terrific lunches) and Field Guide

With thanks to Destination Canada and also to the Rocky Mountaineer who sponsored my trip.


No Place Like Home with My Recipe for Moutabal & a Competition (In Partnership with British Gas)

This post is a sponsored post in partnership with British Gas who are running a No Place Like Home Competition, where you can win £100 John Lewis gift vouchers, a personal chef to cook for your family worth up to £1000 and lots of other prizes by tweeting @BritishGas describing the one thing that makes your house a home, together with the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeHome.

I love home and I love it more as I get older. When I was younger I didn’t give a fig. I travel so much it is deeply important to me that reconnect and that I feel at home when I am there. I need to maximise and immerse in the time I have, the first few days after a long trip I hardly leave. When jet lagged especially, I don’t always feel like myself (and I am jet lagged as I type this, so I know).

I pine after a home of my own, increasingly in recent years, but for now, like most other Londoners, I rent a place that I need to put my stamp on. My home is centred around my kitchen and my living room. Together, they would fit into my bedroom, they are both tiny, but I love those spaces, to the point that I frequently fall asleep on the sofa because I don’t want to go to bed (yes, I am over 5, but you know!).

The first place I head when I go home is my kitchen, often with a plan that has been fermenting for the previous few hours. On sleepy days, I make something quick and satisfying that will speed me to the sofa to catch up with whatever series I am hooked on at that time. Because that is the kind of thing that I can only do at home. 


One thing that I love to make when I am home and want to relax is my speedy snacks, often midnight feasts when I am working too late or am jet lagged. I love to deep fry pasta, my favourite pasta crack (deep fried dried pasta tossed in parmesan, paprika, sea salt and oregano). I love to make a speedy guacamole or a quesadilla. To pimp some firey instant noodles from Chinatown with a fried egg, spring onions, frozen peas & sweetcorn and chilli oil. Or, to blister an aubergine over a flame on my hob until smoky and tender, and make a dip, usually moutabal. 

Moutabal is a wonderful flavour packed Middle Eastern dip that packs a lot of punch and is relatively speedy. It takes 10 minutes to blister and smoke the aubergine. Allow it to cool in a plastic bag, then peel, and combine with tahini, lemon juice, cumin and garlic. Season, top it with pomegranate seeds and maybe a little bit of parsley, and you are good to go. Then there will be no place like home.

Be sure to let British Gas know on Twitter using the #NoPlaceLikeHome hashtag to win! I bet for most of you, No Place Like Home is in the kitchen, just like me.

For your chance to win £100 John Lewis gift vouchers, a personal chef to cook for your family worth up to £1000 and lots of other prizes , enter the British Gas No Place Like Home Competition, by tweeting @BritishGas describing the one thing that makes your house a home, together with the hashtag #NoPlaceLikeHome. Further details and Ts & Cs on the British Gas Website here. Easy, right?! 

Recipe: Moutabal

Serves enough for 2 snacking – you might want it all for yourself though


1 large aubergine
2 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (adjust to taste)
Pomegranate seeds of half a pomegranate
1 tsp cumin seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan and ground or 1/2 tsp ground cumin (first is better)
1 clove garlic, peeled and finely chopped
Good extra virgin olive oil
sea salt

Toasted flat bread or pita to serve


Toast the aubergine over a gas flame using a tongs until the flesh is soft and the skin is burned.
Allow to cool a little in a plastic bag, then peel the skin off and discard the skin.
Mash the flesh with the cumin, garlic and tahini. Add the lemon. Season with salt.
Serve with the pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of olive oil on top. Some parsley works very well too if you like that.
Serve with torn toasted flat bread or pita.


Nopi’s Sweet Potato Pancakes with Date Molasses

Fans of Ottolenghi (and I am one) will be thrilled to discover that there is a new cookbook to explore from Nopi, their central London restaurant. The book has been co-authored by Yotam Ottolenghi and Nopi head chef Ramael Scully. I popped by to have brunch with them and chat about their book before I left to explore Canada a couple of weeks ago.

The first thing you notice when you chat to Ramael is just how enthusiastic he is about cooking. He loves it and has lots of little projects on the go in the Nopi kitchen. I tasted some fermented rice that he was playing with (and that was good, very interesting & complex flavour!), and chatted to him about his culinary influences. The food at Nopi is a little different to the food at their other restaurants, steered by Ramael’s cultural influences which include his Malaysian heritage. He is also clearly inspired by other Asian cuisines, the food and recipes that result are joyful and very interesting.

I cooked the Sweet Potato Pancakes with Date Molasses from the Nopi cookbook at home, with a cheeky substitution of cream cheese for yogurt as that was what my fridge offered up that day. I would recommend it, the sharpness of the cream cheese was wonderful with the date molasses and sweet potato pancakes. I also highly recommend the Black Rice with Coconut Milk, Banana & Mango and the Courgette and Manouri Fritters with Cardamom Yogurt (both of which I have had in Nopi but I have yet to cook at home. 

Date molasses? A syrup that is made from pure date juice, wonderful, unctuous and thick. I am lucky that I can get it locally, but you can buy it online from Ottolenghi too (they deliver worldwide). Or, substitute maple syrup or honey. 

Recipe: Nopi’s Sweet Potato Pancakes with Date Molasses

from NOPI: The Cookbook

Serves 4


2 medium sweet potatoes, unpeeled (about 700g)
200g plain flour, sifted
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp grated nutmeg (do this fresh – it makes a huge difference)
1 tsp ground cinnamon
3 eggs, yolks and whites separated
150ml full fat milk
50g unsalted butter, melted (plus 80g extra cut into dice for frying)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp runny honey
coarse sea salt

To serve

160g Greek yogurt (or cream cheese if feeling indulgent)
60g date syrup
1 tsp icing sugar, for dusting (optional: I didn’t include this but it is in the original recipe)


Preheat your oven to 240 deg C (220 deg fan oven).

Place the sweet potatoes on a parchment lined baking tray and roast for an hour until completely soft and browned. Remove from the oven, set aside to cool, and peel. Discard the skin and place the flesh in the middle of a clean piece of muslin or j-cloth. Draw up the sides, roll into a ball and squeeze out any liquid that is released from the flesh. The drained weight of the sweet potato should be about 320g. Reduce the oven temperature to 180 deg C (160 deg fan).

Mix together the flour, baking powder, nutmeg and cinnamon in a medium bowl with 1.5 teaspoons of salt. Place the egg yolks, milk, melted butter, vanilla and honey in a separate bowl and whisk well to combine. Fold into the dry ingredients and stir to combine before adding the sweet potato flesh. Whisk well until completely smooth. You can make the pancakes a day in advance up to this stage.

Place the egg whites in a separate bowl and whisk until stiff, this should take 3-4 minutes if whisking by hand or 1-2 minutes if using an electric whisk. Gently fold into the sweet potato mix and set aside.

When ready to serve put 20g of the diced butter into a large frying pan and place on a medium heat. When the butter starts to foam, ladle about a heaped tablespoon of pancake mix into the pan. You should be able to cook 3 pancakes at a time. Cook for 3-4 minutes, turning once half way through once the edges of the pancake are brown and the mixture starts to bubble in the middle. The pancakes are quite soft, so be careful as you turn them over. Transfer to a parchment lined tray and set aside while you continue with the remaining mixture, wiping the pan clean before adding 20g butter with each new batch. You should make 12 pancakes. Transfer to the oven for 5 minutes to warm everything through.

To serve place 3 pancakes in the middle of each plate (or create a ridiculous tower as I did ;) ), and spoon the yogurt (or cream cheese) on top. Drizzle with the date syrup, dust with icing sugar (if using), and serve.


Fabulous Leftovers: Cheesy Spaghetti and Ragu Frittata

So you made a big batch of ragu, and you have leftovers, or you are about to. And you don’t want to eat the same meal every day, several days in a row. People fret about leftover pasta, reheating means it loses its al dente texture, and it might get all flabby. Don’t worry, help is here. Turning leftover pasta into a frittata is a joyful thing to do. 

I first described this idea in recipe form with a papardelle and ragu leftover frittata in Comfort & Spice (my first cookbook) in 2011. Recently, I had a fabulous spaghetti carbonara frittata at Vico in Cambridge Circus (the new outpost from Jacob Kenedy and team in Cambridge Circus). It got me thinking as I stared at my bowl of leftovers yesterday. 

Normally, I would have parmesan with my spaghetti and ragu but I envisioned a cheesy frittata, and I needed something that would melt beautifully and that was also sharp, so I chose cheddar. This is so so simple, and intensely gratifying. The pasta on top becomes lovely and crisp encouraged by its cheesy chaperone. If you have fresh herbs feel free to add them too. 


Recipe: Cheesy Spaghetti and Ragu Frittata

serves one

leftover spaghetti and ragu (or similar) – about 2/3 of a portion per person
2 eggs, beaten lightly
50g grated cheddar cheese
a pinch of sea salt
optional: some chopped tomato, fresh herbs like thyme or basil
light oil for frying

small frying pan / skillet – I used a 20cm / 8 inch frying pan (I recommend a pan this size if you regularly cook for one person)


Add half the cheese and a pinch of salt to the eggs and beat lightly. Add the leftover spaghetti and ragu and stir through. If using tomato or herbs add now too.
You can fry or bake it at this point – I have done both. Frying is quicker but requires a little more attention (if baking bake at 180 deg C for about 10 minutes).
Add a little oil to your frying pan. Add the frittata mix and cook over a medium heat for 4 – 5 minutes.
Cover the top with the rest of the cheese and put it under a hot grill to finish. When the cheese is bubbling and starting to crisp it is ready to eat.

Spaghetti with BLack Garlic and Beef Ragu - Recipe

Spaghetti with Beef and Black Garlic Ragu

There is no point making a little ragu. Proper ragu is about time and patience and a glass of red wine and a book while you wait for it, inhaling those gorgeous smells all the way. So I make a lot, even if I am making it just for myself. I eat it in different ways over the following days, ragu just gets better and better the day after, and the day after that. Have it with pasta, put it in an empanada, or make a terrific frittata with the leftover spaghetti and ragu.

I have written about authentic Italian ragu in the past (Making Tagliatelle with Ragu with Anna – an Emilia Romagna Recipe), authentic in that the recipes that I sourced were all from Italians, and mainly people from Emilia Romagna, the home of Tagliatelle with Ragu. What I learned is that ragu varies, not just regionally (Romagnola ragu is heavy on the tomato, Emilia ragu is heavy on the meat), but from house to house.

Ragu usually starts with a soffrito (celery, carrot and onion). After that the meat varies (usually pork and veal but often beef and sometimes including sausage), some use milk, some use red wine, others use white wine. One person I cooked with used red and white wine, because that is how is father does it (white first and red later), there is always tomato but the amount varies. For seasonings some use bay, most use rosemary. I had a wonderful ragu in a countryside restaurant made with lard and white pepper. One thing that they all agree on is that there is definitely never any garlic and any Italian will fight you about that. But they don’t have black garlic, and if they did, I bet they would stick it in there. Controversial, right? Not when you taste it.

Black garlic is cured garlic from Korea. It isn’t fermented (as kimchi is) but it is cooked gently at a very low temperature over a number of weeks so that it caramelises, resulting in sticky black garlic that is rich, deep, savoury and sweet. It tastes a little like liquorice, a lot like molasses and balsamic vinegar, a little like roast garlic. It is a flavour bomb, and you know how much I love them.


I have never tried to make my own. I thought about it, I do love a bonkers project like this, but everywhere I read that it stinks your flat out, and I didn’t think that even I could cope with that in my small old London apartment. It is easy to buy now, besides. I have bought some in pharmacies in Asia, it is viewed as a health food there, and while I have not seen any scientific evidence, anecdotally it is referred to as a super garlic and is said to boost the immune system and lower cholesterol. They also make a tea with the husks. There are producers in the UK now too, and it is easy to source online (Ottolenghi uses it a lot and black garlic is available from their online shop too). 

Black garlic is terrific with lots of things, but I love it with beef. I make marinades for BBQ steaks with it, and I love sneaking some into a ragu. I say sneaking because nobody actually knows it is there, they just know that they love that deep lovely flavour. 

Give this a try, and come back tomorrow for a lovely recipe for the leftovers, it is worth making this just to make my lovely cheesey spaghetti and ragu frittata. Enjoy!

Note on the recipe: this takes time, give it at least two hours. Ragu tastes of little until it comes together, and then it tastes of everything, all at once. Worth the wait!

Spaghetti with Beef and Black Garlic Ragu

Makes enough for 6 – 8 people but use as much as you need and store the remainders in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a month


1kg minced beef (fat is flavour – don’t go for a lean one)
2 red onions, finely chopped
4 sticks of celery, finely chopped
4 carrots, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
8 cloves black garlic, finely chopped
1 tbsp worcester sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
2 x 400g tins good tomatoes
light oil for frying

1 tbsp fine grated parmesan per person, to finish
fresh basil leaves

100g spaghetti per person
sea salt

large sauté pan or frying pan / skillet that will accommodate the volume


Make your soffrito by gently sweating the carrot, onion and celery in a tablespoon of oil over a gentle heat until starting to soften, about 10 minutes. Remove from the pan and leave to the side.

Add another tablespoon of oil and cook the beef in batches so it isn’t crowded over a medium heat until brown. Return all of the beef and soffrito to the pan and add the black garlic. Stir for a couple of minutes, then add the tomatoes, worcester sauce, soy sauce and bay leaves. Bring just to the boil, reduce the heat to low and cook for at least two hours. Season to taste when done.

When you are happy with your ragu, cook your spaghetti according to packet instructions. Add a ladleful of ragu per portion and mix completely. Top with parmesan, and the fresh basil leaves.

Eat immediately. The ragu keeps very well in the fridge for 3 days or in the freezer for a month.