imam bayildi (veggie stuffed aubergines)

I’ve come across some dodgy undercooked aubergines in my day, and always got slightly weirded out by instructions telling you to salt them to take the bitterness out first. And maybe one day I’ll find a recipe for cooking them that doesn’t involve a fair whack more oil than seems healthy, but in the mean time these taste so good that I don’t really care.

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(serves 2 as meals, or 4 as starter)

2 aubergines
1 large onion, finely sliced vertically
1 red pepper, chopped and seeded
3 large tomatoes, skinned and chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped
150ml olive oil
4 tbsp water
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp sugar

  1. Halve the aubergines lengthways. Sprinkle with salt and leave for 10 minutes. Rinse off the salt and juices, pat dry and place the halves side by side, flesh side up, in a wide saucepan.
  2. Mix the onion, tomatoes, pepper, garlic and herbs in a bowl with 1 tsp salt and a little of the oil.
  3. Carefully pile the mixture on top of each halved aubergine until all the flesh is covered.
  4. Mix the rest of the oil with the water, lemon juice, and sugar and pour it over and around. Cover the pan and cook gently over a low heat for 1 1/2-2 hours.
  5. Baste occasionally with the oil, pushing the onion and tomato mixture down into the halves as they cook. The aubergines should end up soft and flat, sitting in a golden, slightly caramelised pool of oil.
  6. Drain off the oil and serve cold – keeps in the fridge for a couple of days.


rosemary pearl barley/sweet potato salad


Not the most inspiring of pictures, peut-etre, but them’s the apples. Or in this case, sweet potatoes. Now that I bought pearl barley, it needs to be used up…

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(serves 3-4)

1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
½ red chilli, de-seeded and finely chopped
1 sprig of rosemary (or 1 tsp dried)
175g pearl barley
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 3cm slices
100g green beans (pref fresh, but frozen work)1tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
2tsp runny honey
1tsp wholegrain mustard

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion, garlic, chilli and rosemary for 5 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the barley and 600ml boiling water. Simmer uncovered for 15 minutes, then add the sweet potatoes and simmer for a further 10 minutes, then add the beans and simmer for a further 5 minutes, until all is cooked.
  3. Whisk the vinegar, honey, and mustard together and pour over. Chill until ready to serve.

spicy coconut squash curry


There doesn’t seem to be an end to all of the things that can be made with squash… this was a particularly tasty curry.

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(serves 4)

2 tbsp sunflower oil
2 red onions, thinly sliced
2 cl garlic, diced
1 small red chilli, finely chopped
1 red pepper, cut into short strips
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp garam masala
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, deseeded, and rough cut into 2cm cubes
2 handfuls cherry tomatoes, halved
Handful raisins
400ml coconut milk
1/2 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

  1. Heat the oil in a large pan and soften the onions for about 5 minutes. Add the garlic, chilli, and red pepper and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  2. Add the coriander and garam masala and stir for a minute, then add the squash and tomatoes. Cook for a further 5 mintues.
  3. Add the coconut milk and raisins and simmer, partially covered, for 20 minutes or until the squash is tender. Add water if necessary.
  4. Add the lemon juice and season. Enjoy with rice or naan.


dark double chocolate salted caramel fridge pie

This post goes out to anyone that hasn’t eaten chocolate in the past 40+ days… Happy Easter tomorrow, everyone! “For while we were still helpless, at the appointed moment, Christ died for the ungodly. For rarely will someone die for a just person—though for a good person perhaps someone might even dare to die.But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us! Much more then, since we have now been declared righteous by His blood,we will be saved through Him from wrath. For if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, then how much more, having been reconciled, will we be saved by His life! And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ. We have now received this reconciliation through Him.”

Now I feel slightly flippant talking about chocolate. But God is the creator of all good things which I think definitely includes this delicious dessert!

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(serves 10-12)


1 pack (about 300g) chocolate cream / bourbon biscuits
1 tbsp cocoa
125g + 125g butter
150g brown sugar
75ml + 250ml double cream, room temperature
300g dark chocolate chips (or bars broken up)
salt for sprinkling

  1. Crush the biscuits, and melt 125g of the butter then stir in. Press into a deep spring-form or removable-bottom pan, pushing up the sides to make it hollow in the middle. Put in fridge or freezer for 15-30 minutes.
  2. Melt the remaining butter and sugar in a small saucepan, whisking constantly, until it comes to boil. When it’s bubbling, keep whisking for 1 minute then remove from the heat, and slowly whisk in 75ml of cream.
  3. Cool caramel about 15 minutes then pour into the pie crust. Freeze or fridge for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Make the ganache: heat the remaining cream in a pan until almost boiling. Remove from heat and add the chocolate. Leave for a few minutes then stir until all the chocolate has melted.
  5. Pour the chocolate over the caramel and smooth out the top to evenly distribute the chocolate. Refrigerate until ready to serve – just before serving, sprinkle with sea salt.


pearl barley one-pot

I was going to call this a “toss pot” because it essentially involves tossing the ingredients about in a pot, but then became distracted by the etymology of the phrase. Urban dictionary, for the curious among you. Anyway, this is an adaptation of a “wild rice skillet recipe” that I found online. Mostly because when I went to the shops I discovered that wild rice would set me back £4 while pearl barley was a mere 55p for the same quantity. And I thought the name sounded pretty. It was interesting: chewier than rice, though that might just have been the way I cooked it (and, from the back of the packet, it needed to be cooked for slightly longer, so I did). I found it slightly bizarre that the squash needs to be sautéd rather than cooked in liquid, but it seemed to work ok.

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(serves 4)

1 small onion, minced
1 tablespoon butter
2 cups peeled, cubed butternut squash
¼ teaspoon dried thyme (more to taste)
250g pearl barley, cooked according to instructions on packet
2 cups kale, shredded
2 cups chopped (crispy juicy unpeeled) apples
2 tablespoons cream, milk, or butter
½ cup grated Provolone cheese (I subbed a cheddar / parmesan mix)
salt to taste

  1. Sauté the onion and butter in a large skillet over medium high heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
  2. Add the squash and thyme; sauté for 5-8 minutes, until the squash is fork-tender but not mushy. Add the kale and pearl barley and stir to combine. Add the cream, milk, or butter.
  3. Add the apples last so they stay crispy. Add the cheese and stir a few times to get it melted into the ingredients.


spiced peach syrup

I’ve found a new favourite way to eat tinned peaches (yes, even better than peach pasta. I know, pretty unbelievable that anything could be better than that. But bear with me…).

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It’s really simple but also delicious: pour a tin of peaches in a saucepan (half them first if you like), sprinkle some ground cloves and dark muscovado sugar on top to taste, stir, and stir in 4-5 frozen raspberries if you have them lying around. Leave it on the heat to reduce away and the syrup to thicken. Top with ice-cream. Et voilà. Serves 2.

Of course you can also make this with actual peaches, but they’re not in season at the moment.

Re. the importance of cloves – The Flavour Thesaurus is one of my favourite cookbooks ever and is so useful for knowing what will go well with what! So when I was curious as to what spice to spice my peaches with, this informed me that cloves and peaches go well together, and indeed they do.


butternut squash, tomato and spinach lasagne

First time making lasagne, you say? Make up a recipe, you say? Is a delight of tomatoey, saucy, iron-y, vegetarian delectable goodness, you say?  Omnomnomnomnom.
Nah seriously though, this is très tasty. I enjoy a saucy lasagne, particularly in view of the fact that I made this for lunchtimes so wanted it to survive the drying nature of reheating, so you might want to bear that in mind re. the extra water mentioned below. Though I was also slightly paranoid about the lasagne sheets not cooking enough as some sites seemed to advise pre-cooking them, but last time I tried that it turned into a big gloopy stuck-together mess not at all conducive to layering. So I just added water and cooking time.

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(serves 6)

Squash/tomato filling

1 butternut squash, peeled and cubed
400ml (ish) passata
1 tsp chopped garlic
Salt, pepper, Italian herbs to taste

  1. Place sauce in pan with water and bring to the boil (or roast)
  2. Once soft (10-15 mins), drain and place in food processor, then chop with garlic and passata so it forms a purée
  3. Pour back into pan and add 1 cup water; cover and simmer 10-15 minutes

Creamed spinach

2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp plain flour
500ml milk, heated
125g cream cheese
250g frozen spinach
Salt, pepper, freshly grated nutmeg to taste

  1. Melt the butter in a pan, then whisk in plain flour.
  2. Add milk, little at a time, until it’s all been combined into a smooth sauce
  3. Add the other ingredients and stir, heating gently until the frozen spinach balls break up

Assembly – additional ingredients

6-8 lasagne sheets
1-2 cups water
Grated cheddar, parmesan, mozzarella to taste

  1. Layer 1/3 of the squash/tomato filling, 1/3 of the creamed spinach, then half of the lasagne sheets. Pour a little water over the top.
  2. Layer the remaining squash/tomato filling, creamed spinach, then scatter cheese over the top.
  3. Bake in a pre-heated 185oC oven for 30-45 minutes

pickled ginger & sushi ideas

I love sushi, and with a bit of preparation and stock of ingredients, it’s easy to make. I specialise in the tasty and to-hand rather than the necessarily authentic (we have so many vinegars that I sub apple for rice wine, and I thought I’d use up the horseradish rather than going all out with the wasabi), but love pickled ginger in and on top of my maki. The jar I bought from the supermarket sadly fostered it’s own ecosystem after being in existence for mere weeks, so I thought I’d have a bash at making my own, particularly in the face of some ginger root that had been malingering in our vegetable rack for several months.

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110g ginger, peeled and sliced really thinly / with a mandoline if possible
125ml rice vinegar (/cider vinegar)
2 tbsp sugar

  1. Sterilise a jar by shaking some boiling water in it and draining, then place the ginger inside.
  2. Bring the vinegar and sugar to the boil then pour into the jar. Shake to coat.
  3. Leave for about a week, shaking occasionally, then eat. Keep in fridge after opening.

Maki ideas: lump-roe black caviar; red pepper; carrot; tinned sardines / salmon / grapefruit

butternut squash and bulgar wheat casserole

Are we still in squash season? I’m not sure. But if it’s still about, I’d highly recommend this stew, which is also perfect for using up the remains of that packet of bulghar wheat that’s moved from home to flat to flat to home with you over the past 5 years (just me? fine then. potentially you could substitute with couscous and cook for a little less time, but on your own head be it.)

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2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
2 crushed garlic cloves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp paprika
225g sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
1 red pepper, chopped
550g butternut squash, peeled and chopped
400g can chopped tomatoes
200ml red wine
300ml vegetable stock
75 g bulghar wheat
Optional: 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt and some grated cheddar to serve

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan, and soften the onion and garlic for 5-7 minutes
  2. Add the cumin seeds and paprika and cook for a further 2 minutes
  3. Stir in the sweet potato, red pepper, and squash, and toss with the onion and spices for 2 minutes
  4. Pour in the tomatoes, red wine, and vegetable stock, season, and simmer gently for 15 minutes.
  5. Stir in the bulghar wheat, cover with a lid, then simmer for 15 minutes more until the vegetables are tender, the bulghar wheat is cooked, and the liquid has been absorbed.
  6. Serve with yoghurt and cheddar if you want.



red velvet cake

Fine, so everyone is completely over red velvet cakes. They’re also hard to photograph without ruining the moment of partaking of said cake, so this one pre-icing will have to do you. Now, in the past I’ve not been a fan of these (and they also normally need vinegar, which needs judicious addition), but this recipe by Lorraine Pascale is tasty! The icing is mainly butter-based but with a little cream cheese to cut into the sweetness rather than overpower it completely.

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(23cm cake – x2 layers)

350g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
350g caster sugar
6  eggs
½ tsp vanilla essence
300g plain flour
50g cocoa powder
1 tbsp baking powder
50ml red food colouring (or less if you’re using gel – I used a 35ml bottle of dye plus half a tsp of potent gel and the colour came out well)

  1. Grease and line your cake tins if they’re not silicone.
  2. Beat the butter and sugar together in a large bowl until light and fluffy.
  3. Gradually beat in the eggs, vanilla, and half the flour.
  4. Add the remaining flour, cocoa, and baking powder, and beat to mix.
  5. Stir in the food colouring.
  6. Divide between 2 tins (*or do it in one higher-sided tin and bake for slightly longer then cut in half) and bake at 180oC for 45-60 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
  7. Remove from the oven, leave to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and allow to cool on a wire rack.

cream cheese buttercream

250g butter, softened
600g icing sugar
75g cream cheese

  1. Cream together the softened butter and icing sugar in a very large bowl until light and fluffy.
  2. Beat in the cream cheese

Sandwich the cakes together with 3 tbsp buttercream then cover the top and sides.