Bolognese Sauce

This is an excellent mid week dinner which I make in the pressure cooker in around 20 minutes. One of my best kitchen gadget purchases to date is a pressure cooker/slow cooker combo does it all and makes really tasty food in very little time.

A regular lunch staple when I was little, this is a slightly saucier version of the dish my mother cooked and used sausage meat in place of beef which is amazingly tasty!


  • 1lb sausage meat – butcher quality seasoned meat is delicious
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 medium onions
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1 stick of celery and some of the leaves at the centre of the bunch
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 glass red wine
  • 1/2 pint Chicken or beef stock
  • Salt and pepper


Chop the onion, celery sticks, halved garlic cloves and brown with the sausage meat on gentle heat. Peel and grate the carrots and add to the pan.

Add the red wine, cook out the alcohol then add the stock and tomato. As a generous pinch of salt and pepper, the celery leaves and the Herbes de Provence. Pressure cook for 20 minutes. Once cooked and pressure released, taste and adjust seasoning. Reduce sauce if too liquid.

Serve with spaghetti.

Baristas Coffee Collective – Bristol

Week 11 of baby Ivy being in our lives and it’s time to take my new mum bod and the weekend bags under my eyes on a hen weekend. Let’s all go she said. It will be fun she said. Fast forward to one night of all 4 of us in the Novotel prior to a day of cocktail making after 11 months of abstinence and coffee was a must. I’m talking gooooood strong coffee required.

Baristas Coffee Collective delivered! Delicious coffee, very friendly service and I didn’t even have to spell my name to get it. A far cry from the desperation of Starbucks…

I got a watercolour of a mackerel to hang in my kitchen. 🎉🎉

All in all a success and some very excellent coffee. About ready for a hen do! I’ll spare anyone the photos of the next morning when the sunglasses didn’t make it off. Pay these guys a visit for excellent coffee and some good snacks (definitive food envy was had after we had filled up on hotel breakfast)

The Beacon – Tunbridge Wells

On a lovely warm autumn day the food and scenery were spectacular . The Beacon was gently busy on a midweek with punters having leisurely lunches in the cosy interior. The very grand 1895 fireplace was gently crackling providing warmth and the lovely smell of long Sunday lunches in the winter. The service team were very friendly and accepting of the briefcase of Lego which we turned up with.

We kicked off the proceedings with a delicious pollen and lavender gin cocktail and some local ale which turned up with a delicious flower pot loaf and some just under room temperature butter, salted. When did the trend start for restaurants serving unsalted hard as a rock butter with bread…. thankfully not here!

The kids food (complete with actual vegetables!) turned up at the same time as our lovely well sized and well cooked board of starters. The miniature fish goujons were flavourful and retained all their moisture. The ham croquettes and the truffle and Parmesan profiteroles were well executed and completely addictive. In fact it was all so nice we ate it before any picture could be taken!

The signature menu here is unusual combinations well paired which you won’t find in many pubs. I enjoyed the hake with samphire and potatoes which were expertly cooked, flavoursome and accompanied by a delicious sauce which I thought there could be more of. I’m sold on the samphire and potato pairing which I was prepared to dislike. The Beacon was a beautiful way to spend a late summer’s day (pushing it a bit in October!) with lovely scenery and setting, delicious, unusual yet unpretentious food and excellent service.

The Beacon also has a private dining room for larger groups, ample parking and is very much kid friendly. We will be back!

Côte de Bœuf Sunday lunch

I love a Sunday lunch but don’t like spending hours cooking as we tend to have swimming in the morning and plans in the afternoon. This is a great lunch for the family but is done and dusted inside 30 minutes and extremely tasty to boot.


1 Côte de Bœuf, allow 160-200 gr per person

3 potatoes per person

Handful Baby corn

3 cloves garlic

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

3 tbsp Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper


Preheat your oven to 200C fan and remove your beef from the fridge and any packaging as early as possible on the day you cook it.

When ready to cook, oil and salt and pepper both sides of the beef and brush with the rosemary sprig.

Heat a heavy base pan with olive oil on medium heat. Peel and cube your potatoes and add to the pan with 2 peeled garlic cloves and a sprig of rosemary. Heat with a lid on and stir until all sides are browned. Cool for around 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Do not let the garlic burn.

Meanwhile in an oven proof frying pan brown the beef on all sides with a clove of peeled garlic and rosemary sprig and transfer to the preheated oven for 12 minutes for rare. Once cooked, transfer the beef to a wooden board and let it rest for around 10 minutes.

Blanche your baby corn and greens in sat water for 4 minutes. Once cooked transfer to the oven in the pan containing the beef while the beef rests.

Plate up to serve. I like to serve this with tomato salad.

Beetroot, pear and goats cheese autumn salade


  • 300g beetroots (you can mix red, candy and golden)
  • 1 pear
  • 60g Firm goats cheese such as crottin
  • Handful green beans or rocket leaves
  • For the dressing:
    • 2tbs olive oil
      1tbs balsamic vinegar
      Salt and pepper


    Trim and roast the beetroots in their skins in a 180C fan oven until tender inside (for approximately 20-40 minutes depending on the size of the beets). You can do this ahead of time and peel and cut the beetroot and store in a Tupperware in the fridge for a couple of days.

    Blanche the green beans in salt water then place in an ice bath.

    Wash, core and slice the pear lengthwise into around 8 pieces. If not serving the salad immediately, brush the pear flesh with a solution of 50:50 lemon juice and water.

    Combine all ingredients and drizzle the dressing ingredients on top. Serve immediately.

    Chicken Leek and Mushroom Pie

    An absolute crowd pleaser, this is indulgent and creamy with a  nice crunchy top. it is also  a good way of using leftover chicken. You can make the mixture ahead of time for a tasty mid-week dinner of crunchy pastry and creamy meaty filling.

    In this recipe I used chicken thighs and drumsticks to make the chicken for the pie. You can use the same flavourings to make a terrific roast chicken or just baked chicken pieces to serve with roasted vegetables or a leafy salad.

    Cooks in: 50 minutes Feeds: 6 Adults
    Effort: Medium Price: Cheap


    • 4 chicken drumsticks and thighs.

    o  I like to use skin on corn fed chicken.

    • 1 or 2 leeks depending on how big they are
    • 2 banana shallots
    • 4 garlic cloves
    • few sprigs of fresh thyme and rosemary
    • 4 Chestnut mushrooms
    • 2 teaspoons wholegrain mustard
    • 1 cup double cream
    • 1 pint stock
    • 1 small glass of dry white wine
    • 1 small glass vermouth
    • generous pinch sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 1 pack ready rolled all butter puff pastry
    • 1 beaten egg for glazing the pie

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    Preheat the oven to 200C. It is best to cook the chicken from room temperature so remove it from the fridge 30 minutes or so before you start cooking.

    Add the chicken to a baking dish and coat lightly in olive oil. Add a generous pinch of salt and pepper and 2 cloves crushed garlic. Add 2 sprigs rosemary and thyme sprinkled over the chicken.

    Loosely cover with tin foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes before removing the tin foil and continuing to cook until the skin is gently browned.

    Once the chicken is cooked, remove the skin and shred the meet of the bone using a fork ensuring that no bits of bone remain.

    Meanwhile, chop the leeks and shallots to long thin strips.

    Leek Tip: Take care to clean all the grit out of the leeks. To prepare these best, insert a sharp vegetable knife an inch from the root of the leek and run the knife all the way to the end. Repeat the process to create a cross pattern in the leek allowing all the grit to be washed away.

    Soften the leeks and shallots over a low heat with a little oil. Add the chopped chestnut mushrooms.

    Add the wholegrain mustard and stir in. at this time you can add the wine, vermouth and chicken and bring to a boil to burn off the alcohol. Then add the chicken stock and cream as well as a little salt and a generous helping of coarse ground black pepper. Keep this on a medium heat until the liquid has reduced to a thick cream and your mixture is quite dense which will take approximately 30 minutes.

    Make ahead tip: If you are cooking this ahead of when you are making the pie, remove from the heat, cover with cling film until cold, transfer to a Tupperware container and refrigerate. I would keep this for 2 to 3 days in the fridge.

    Pre-heat your oven to 200C. Transfer the filling to a pie dish and let it cool a little (the cooler the better) before covering.

    For this recipe I use ready made puff pastry as it is just as good (if not better) than the one I make and it is significantly less effort.

    Flour a clean worksurface and gently roll out the pastry to just over the size of your pie dish.

    I like to sprinkle a little coarse ground black pepper evenly to the pastry and press it in as I am rolling out for an extra bit of bite.

    Lay the pastry over your pie dish and tuck the pastry around the filling, still letting the rest hang over the dish. Seal the pie to the edge with a little egg wash and flute the edges. Eggwash the whole pie top and make an incision in the centre to let the steam out.

    Transfer to the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until the pie is hot throughout and the pie crust nice and browed.

    Serve with baked asparagus or another simple green of your choice with crushed or mashed potatoes.



    Rich Bacon and Gorgonzola Gnocchi


    This dish is super creamy tasty and very rich. My mum used to make this for dinner and I have great memories of it as a family meal. In revisiting this, we found that this is really too rich as a standalone dish however, I think it is a great small starter for a dinner party.

    Cooks in: 20 minutes Feeds: 4
    Effort: Easy Price: Medium



    • Gnocchi – I used shop bought as this was a mid-week meal, but you can make your own.
    • Good quality peppery Gorgonzola
    • 4 Chestnut mushrooms
    • 1 large handful of cubed pancetta or lardons
    • A good splash of double cream
    • A pinch freshly grated nutmeg




    • Put a large pan of water on to boil.
    • Lightly pan fry the pancetta or lardons over a medium heat. Do not use oil and let the lardons brown slowly,
    • Add the chopped chestnut mushrooms and let the mushrooms reduce in size.
    • Meanwhile, crumble the Gorgonzola into a saucepan and add the double cream. Melt the Gorgonzola over a low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the sauce is creamy. Add the nutmeg.
    • Add the Gnocchi to the boiling water and cook for a couple of minutes until the Gnocchi float.
    • Drain and fry lightly then add the mushroom and lardons. Pour the sauce over.


    You can add crumbled toasted walnuts to the top for texture and crunch.

    For a good fresh side, serve with a rocket salad made with a nut oil and red wine vinaigrette.


    If you are serving this as a starter, serve a very small portion and pair with a lighter main


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    Wheat-Free Pancake and Tropical Fruit

    This is a super satisfying light breakfast. The pancakes are from the “Clean and Lean Diet Cookbook” and taste indulgent while being somewhat diet friendly. The fruit salad I serve with them is fresh and tastes like a tropical holiday setting you up for a high-energy day!




    • 2 Eggs
    • 50 grams rolled oats
    • 100 grams natural light cottage cheese
    • 1 pinch cinnamon powder

    Fruit topping

    • ¼ Diced Mango
    • 2 White flesh Nectarine
    • 1 small handful blueberries
    • 1 small handful raspberries
    • 1 passion fruit
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 10 mint leaves
    • Drizzle of Agave syrup



    Combine all the pancake ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Spray a non-stick frying pan lightly with oil.  When the pan is hot, add dollops of batter and cook on each side until browned. For optimum taste ensure that you do not overcook the pancakes. They are cooked perfectly when a light press of the pancake springs back.

    For the best fruit salad, make sure that the fruit is perfectly ripe. If the fruit is not ripe when bought, store near bananas, which will accelerate the ripening of fruit as they release Ethylene gas.

    Wash the berries and leave them to strain. Dice the Mango and peaches and combine in a bowl. Halve the passion fruit and add to the mango mixture. Add the berries and juice the lime over the fruit. Shred the mint and add to the salad. Mix well and spoon over the pancakes. Drizzle lightly with Agave syrup if desired and serve immediately.


    I use Agave Syrup instead of honey or sugar to sweeten as it has a lower Glycemic Index and has less calories than honey for the same volume.

    Whilst the pancakes are very light, be careful of how much fruit salad you add as their fruit content will add a lot to the calorie count if you are watching your calorie intake.

    This tropical medley really does make the day feel more sunny no matter if you are in fact reaching for your wellies! Bon Appetit!


    Vietnamese Summer Rolls

    These are great fresh summer lunches to prepare in advance. Healthy and nutritious they are a great alternative to a sandwich and can be prepared with a variety of fillings.

    While the recipe looks long, this is something I normally do on a week-end while i watch a film. it is all about the prep of the ingredients, which is quite simple, and the set-up of an assembly station.

    Makes 12 rolls Prepare in: 20 minutes Feeds: 6 People
    Effort: Easy Price: Cheap

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    • Large Rice paper parcels (these are circular and brittle and can be purchased from any Asian food store)
    • Thin rice noodles
    • 6-10 large cooked and shelled prawns
    • 2 handfuls cooked chicken (leftovers from a cooked chicken work wonders here)
    • 1 cucumber
    • 4 spring onions
    • 1 red chilli
    • 1 handful roasted peanuts crushed
    • 1bunch fresh mint
    • 1 bunch fresh coriander
    • 1 large grated carrot
    • 2 tablespoons fish sauce (from anchovies – Nuoc Mam)
    • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
    • 2 cloves garlic
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 tsp table salt

    For the sauce:

    You can go as easy or complicated on the sauce. This time I made a rich peanut and chilli sauce (after realising that I had forgotten the peanuts…). for this sauce I used:

    • 1 tablespoon chunky peanut butter
    • 1 teaspoon sweet chilli sauce
    • 1/2 teaspoon dark soy sauce
    • large pinch fresh chopped red chilli to taste
    • 1/2 teaspoon peanut oil or sesame seed oil
    • 1 small squeeze honey

    Mix all ingredients in a bowl until rich and glossy. Taste and adjust seasoning to taste.



    Prepare all your fillings first and place in bowls or on plates in sections so that once you are ready, it is just a matter of constructing the rolls.

    • For the prawns, slice them in half lengthways.
    • Pour boiling water on the rice noodles until soft, drain and immerse in cold water. Leave them in the cold water as it will prevent the noodles from drying before you use them.
    • For the cucumber, slice open lengthways and scoop out the seeds. You can use these for another recipe or in juices and soups. Slice the remainder of the cucumber into long fine sticks. Place in a colander over a plate or sink and sprinkle with the table salt. After 10 minutes squeeze out the moisture out of the cucumber gently.
    • Chop the spring onions into long strips.
    • De-seed the chilly and cut half into thin strips. Dice the other half. The diced section will be used for the dipping sauce.
    • Combine the rice vinegar and nuoc mam fish sauce in a bowl. Add the sugar and microwave gently for 1 minute and stir the sugar gently until dissolved. If more heat is needed microwave again 30 seconds at a time stirring in between each. Add the garlic finely chopped and half the red chili. Let the dipping sauce cool.
    • If you are using the peanut butter sauce, add  this to the inside of the rolls in small quantity. This should run the length of the summer roll. 
    • For the chicken, if you are not using leftover, you can steam the breast with a splash of soy sauce and shred with two forks.

    chopped chilis

    Once your station is ready, select a plate bigger than the rice paper circles and deep enough to fill with warm water. Immerse the rice paper into the warm water one sheet at a time, once softened transfer to a separate plate and put the next rice paper circle in the water to soften while you fill the first.

    To fill the parcel, start with a few mint leaves and prawn halves and sprinkle with crushed peanuts. These should be arranged upside down at the centre and top of the rice paper, as they will look very nice on the outside once you seal the roll.

    Add a small handful of noodles. When removing these from the water, blot over a tea towel before adding to your roll.

    Add chicken, a selection of each vegetable and herb. You may add a little sauce to the parcel or use the sauce as a dip when you eat the parcel. Fold the top and sides over the filling and roll to the end of the parcel.

    Repeat until all ingredients have been used. I like to wrap these in cling film for ease of transport. These should keep in the fridge for a few days assuming you have used fairly fresh ingredients.

    cooked prawns

    Spicy Malaysian-style Chicken

    This is my take on a super yummy lunch that I used to have at the ASAP Malaysian deli on Broadgate circle before it closed and I was left yummy-spicy-chicken-less. Although this is quite different in taste it is super cheap and easy to make for a large group of people.

    Cooks in: 1 hour Feeds: 8 Adults
    Effort: Easy Price: Cheap


    • 8 chicken thighs
    • 2 red peppers
    • 1 large red chili
    • 1 stick lemongrass
    • 1 large piece of Ginger
    • 4-5 garlic cloves
    • 3 tablespoons Nam Pla fish sauce
    • 3 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
    • 1 tablespoon brown sugar or palm sugar
    • 1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
    • 1 tablespoon light vegetable oil


    Pre-heat your oven to fan 200C°.

    Core and de-seed the red peppers, place in blender. Remove the top off the chili, peel a 1 cm piece of ginger and peel the garlic cloves. Halve the lemongrass stick and remove root and top.  Add the chili, ginger, garlic and lemongrass to the blender and blend to a coarse chop.

    Heat the oil in a heavy base shallow dish on the hob over a high heat. Once hot, add the chicken thighs whole and skin down. Once these begin to brown, spread the pepper paste over the chicken thighs. Add the vinegar, the fish sauce and bring to a boil. Turn the thigh pieces and spoon the sauce over them. Add the soy sauce over all pieces.

    Once all the meat has been browned on both sides, turn the meat to skin side up and spoon sauce over the skin. Transfer the dish to the oven and cook uncovered for approximately 30-40 minutes. The chicken should be well browned on top and the sauce should have become a dark red.

    Serving Suggestion:

    I like to serve this with steamed tender stem broccoli or Pak Choi and with coriander and lime steamed white rice.