If you read my blog, you'll know I was sent Andy Bates new cook book to review, and try some recipes from. I literally have hardly been able to put the book down, and have already cooked several recipes from it. The chorizo sausage rolls are incredible, and the belly of pork with creamed beans is pretty good too, but so far, my favorite recipe is this one. I do like a good brownie, and these are almost better than my boozy prune brownies - http://alittlelusciousness.blogspot.co.uk/2011/03/chocolate-rum-brownies.html !!

I doubled the mixture stated in the book, as I knew they wouldn't last long, but this is the recipe with Andy's quantities. I was also lucky enough to have been given a jar of real, proper French dulce de leche just before I made these, but if you can't find dulce de leche, a tin of condensed milk will become dulce de leche (caramel) if you cover it with water and boil for 3 hours. Make sure you allow to cool before opening!

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There's a horrible tummy bug going round, as there normally is at this time of year, and my boyfriend was struck down with said bug at about 1am on Monday. A visit to the doctors on Monday morning was pretty unhelpful - the doctor said "It's ok, the human body can survive without food for a month" - seeing as I think it's up to a month, and then you die, not very helpful info, doc! 

Dioralyte was the only thing he could recommend, but the ingredients list of Sodium Chloride, Potassium Chloride, Glucose and Disodium Hydrogen Citrate didn't sound too appealing. So after an afternoon's sleep, I knew he would need something to replace all the salts and sugars he'd lost over the last 18 hours.

In order to get the potassium (brilliant for getting the body over dehydration) and sugars back into him that he needed to rehydrate, I picked up a (pint) can of coconut water. This went down a treat, drunk in small sips.

Next thing needed was the salts he'd lost. I read a bit on the internet about cures for tummy problems, and fennel tea, and ginger were often mentioned. Chicken soup has always been used to encourage a speedier recovery from these kind of things, so I decided to make a clear broth, incorporating all the stomach healing ingredients I'd read about. Here's what I made:


Serves 3

1 litre of chicken stock (I had some of my own stock frozen so used this)
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger
1 clove of garlic
Juice & peel of 1 lemon (try to peel this off in wide strips, like how you'd peel an apple)
1 tsp soy sauce
1 nest of egg noodle per person
1 spring onion

Put the chicken stock, fennel seeds, grated ginger, a small bit of grated garlic (I used a third of a clove) and lemon peel into a saucepan and bring up to a slow simmer. Add the soy sauce. Taste and adjust quantities of any of the ingredients, but you want a nice broth, not a strong overpowering flavour of anything.

Whilst the broth is simmering, boil a kettle and pour the boiling water over the noodle nests and cook as per packet instructions (mine were to boil the noodles for 3 minutes).

Remove the cooked noodles and drain the water. Place a small amount of noodles in each bowl. Once the broth has simmered for around 10 minutes, squeeze in a small amount of the lemon juice, remove from the heat, and sieve onto the bowls of noodles. Add a small amount of finely chopped spring onion and serve.

You can omit the noodles, depending on how well the patient feels! Mine needed a bit of energy so I served it with noodles, and it went down very well. He's now very much on the road to recovery!
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I have recently been sent a couple of copies of Andy Bates’ (AKA The Pie Man) new cook book – Modern Twists on Classic Dishes. One is for me, to cook up some of the super tasty recipes, and tell you all about them, and I have another copy to send to one of you!
Andy Bates has been busy recently – he is of Pie Man fame, known for the pastries, pies and scotch eggs he makes and sells at Whitecross Street Market in London but has also written a fantastic cook book and is starring in a series documenting the street food scene across America - Andy Bates American Street Feasts. This is a great show, and Andy is a wonderfully charismatic presenter. You can see he has a real, genuine interest in what he presents. The shows are split between him visiting popular street food vendors and cooking up recipes inspired by what he has seen and tasted. The shows aired every weekday on the Food Network channel and you can watch them on catch up at http://www.foodnetwork.co.uk/tv-shows/andy-bates-american-street-feasts.html. As well as previous episodes, there is an interactive street food map on the website where you can look for places to eat, or tell others about street food vendors you have discovered in the UK
Recipes from some of the shows feature in Andy's cook book, including Salted peanut chocolate brownies (blog testing this recipe to follow soon), Braised Pork Belly and Walforf Salad Pretzel, Chicken and Mussels in Cider with Baby Gem lettuce, Black Pudding Scotch Egg, Honey Cheesecake and much, much more. The book is a lovely mixture of inspiring recipes, and short stories about Andy’s love of particular foods, and history of where the recipes came from. Modern Twists on Classic dishes is available from WH Smith, Waterstones, Amazon and independent book stores throughout the UK.
All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning your free copy from me, is leave a comment below, telling me about your favorite place for Street Food in the UK.

Competition closes this Friday!

Good luck!
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We are having a mini halloween/firework feast this year, and because we are doing it on a Friday I have been planning a menu that I can cook the night before, ready to heat through when I get home from work on the Friday. I definitely want to serve a soup, that everyone can help themselves to and bring outside to watch the firework display. I have tried a few different flavour combinations but this was the best, and it includes pumpkin, so I can use up the flesh carved out from our ghoulish pumpkins!

This soup is cooked for 4 hours, so be aware of this if you're thinking of just knocking it up for dinner after work - it's best made when you have some time to wait for it to cook - make lots and freeze the rest in batches. You can also do this in a slow cooker, but cook it for 6 hours on the slow setting.

Makes enough for about 8 people, or 4 batches for 2.

2 large, white onions
800g pumpkin flesh
1 celeriac
500g carrots
1 bunch of celery
1 head of garlic
3 red chillies
2 litres of chicken stock
4 bay leaves
Salt and pepper

1 slice of bresola per bowl of soup
Creme fraiche
Chives, parsley or mint
Red chilli

Preheat the oven to the lowest gas mark (around 130-140 degrees C), or if you are using a slow cooker, turn it on and set it to it's lowest temperature. Get a large casserole dish or saucepan with a lid ready.

Peel, and chop the onions, pumpkin, celeriac and carrots into large chunky pieces. Pop them all in your pan. Wash and chop the celery and add to the pan, with the peeled garlic cloves and chopped red chillies. Add the bay leaves and stock, and season. If you are using stock cubes, then do not add salt at this point. Wait until it is cooked, then taste and add salt if required.

Place the pan on the hob and heat until the stock starts to boil. Put the lid on the pan, and place the whole thing in the oven, or slow cooker. Leave to cook for 4 hours.

After 4 hours, remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Once cooled, spoon the mixture into the blender and blend in batches. Return all blended soup to one bowl and mix. Taste the soup and adjust seasoning if needed.

Spoon the soup into bowls, and top each bowl with some bresola, chopped into cm slices, a dollop of creme fraiche, some chopped fresh herbs of your choice and a few rings of sliced red chilli (or some chilli sauce).

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I do love a good Mexican, and there are several restaurants and street food venues in Soho that I used to frequent for a lunchtime burrito, but I recently stumbled across somewhere that tops them all. This little gem seats about 12 people (they serve many more with take away which can be pre ordered to pick up on arrival), and is hidden away somewhere between Victoria and Westminster Cathedral.

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It's a pretty easy one, but onion gravy lifts a simple supper to a new level. If you've got some nice sausages and some onions and potatoes, then this meal is great way to end a long day.

This recipe really is very easy, it just takes some time to allow it to be as delicious as it should! This makes enough for about 6 people (or 4 hungry people).

3 large onions
3 cloves of garlic
Olive oil
1 500ml bottle of pale ale
Worcester sauce
1 bay leaf
150ml vegetable stock
1 tsp dijon mustard

Chop (or slice in the magimix) the onions. They need to be as thin as possible, which is why I slice them in the magimix. This also reduces eye pain whilst onion chopping! If you don't have a magimix you can slice them with a knife or use a mandoline. Crush the cloves of garlic. Heat a large, deep frying pan over a very low heat. Add a knob of butter and a small drizzle of olive oil, then all the sliced onions and crushed garlic. The onions need to cook like this for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. This may seem like a ridiculously long time, but the onions need to cook really slowly, and by doing so, they will become soft, golden and sweet.

Once the onions have turned the colour of toasted white bread, add the bottle of pale ale, a splash of Worcester sauce (I couldn't find this last time so used Mushroom ketchup which was equally as yummy) and a bay leaf to the pan. Turn the heat up to medium, and bubble the ale away so that all the alcohol burns off. Once the sauce has reduced by half, add 150ml of meat or vegetable stock, a teaspoon of dijon mustard and salt and pepper. Cook for a further 5-10 minutes until the sauce has thickened.

If the sauce has not thickened as much as you'd like, scoop out a small amount of the juice from the pan in a mug, and add a spoonful of flour to the juice in the mug. Stir until there are no lumps, and pour back into the sauce.

Serve with sausages, greens and buttery mashed potato.

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Last week I received a very exciting invitation for a cooking event with Saturday Kitchen's very own James Martin. I'm used to my interactions with James Martin being via a TV screen whilst I am still in pyjama mode, so it was a real treat to get dressed and head over to the wonderful cooking school, Food at 52, just off Old Street in East London to meet the man himself and hopefully pick up a few tricks of the trade.

The day was arranged by the lovely people at Thomas Cook, whose in-flights meals James Martin has recently designed. The day was split into two parts, with the morning spent cooking our 3 course lunch under James' watchful eye, and the afternoon being a 6 course cooking demonstration given by James, which I unfortunately had to miss.

There were 12 of us at the event, an equal split of enthusiastic food bloggers, and Thomas Cook marketing staff. We got aproned up and took our places around a long table, with James at one end, instructing and helping us. We prepped all the ingredients for the three course lunch, which was Thai Crab Risotto, followed by smoked haddock Rarebit, and a chocolate pudding for desert. It was really good fun to get involved with all the food prep and pick up some cooking tips from James (for example, I learnt that when using tomato puree in a recipe, it should always be added at the start of cooking to give it time to cook through and reduce any bitter taste). He also talked us through how to get all the meat out of a crab for his delicious risotto.

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River pageants, concerts and tourists will fill London's streets, rivers and parks this weekend. But you'll find me at God Save The Clam. A rooftop pop-up event in East London hosting a very British spin-off of the traditionally American Clam Bake - bringing together two of London's most in demand food pop-ups: barbecue wonders, Pitt Cue Co, and seafood masters Rock Lobsta.

A £40 ticket, purchased in advance, will get you: a couple of drinks, a starter of Pitt Cue Links, followed by Clams, cockles, mussels, devilled crayfish & crab claws, sea beets & samphire - steamed over seaweed & charcoal, Cornish Early Potatoes in Smoked Dripping, House Sausage, BBQ leeks, BBQ Corn & Grilled Sour Sough (OH MY GOSH!), and a choice of sundaes for pudding - if you have any room left!

Tickets for the £40 meal (lunch and supper sittings running from Thursday evening until Sunday evening) are running out fast, so get yours at www.godsavetheclam.co.uk. 

And if you don't want to come for a sit down meal, it's free entry to the rooftop Shack Snack Bar, open all day from Friday, where they'll be serving cocktails, beer and wine, as well as lobster corn dogs, Po Boy sandwiches and lobster popcorn.

Follow God Save The Clam on Twitter @godsavetheclam and find them on the Rooftop of The Emigre Studios, 274 Richmond Road, E8 3QW this weekend!

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Street food is more popular now than it's ever been. Night food street market, Street Feast, which I have yet to visit, leads the way with it's Friday night feasts off Brick Lane. But not far behind is Berwick Street, Soho, whose offerings seem to increase by the week. I'm lucky enough to work close by and have long been a fan of Freebird Burritos, who get it spot on with steak, carnitas (pulled pork), chicken and veggie burritos, however, they have now got some serious competition. Not only is there fresh Vietnamese rolls, there's a falafel stand, Mediterranean salad stall, Thai and Moroccan.

But my newest favorite lunch from Berwick Street is the pizza from Pizza Pilgrims - fresh pizzas cooked in the back of a tiny van, that I'm sure must have to be towed to the site! It's so small, it's amazing it can produce pizzas, let alone ones of such quality - it definitely cannot be roadworthy! 

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Underbelly festival has returned to London again recently for 2 months of spectacular shows. I hadn't been before but eventually made it down there a couple of weeks ago to watch Shlomo's incredible Vocal Orchestra - an hour of aural entertainment from 7 very talented vocalist beatboxers.

Situated in an area of Jubilee Gardens, an inflatable purple cow hosts the majority of the performances, while surrounding benches, stools and mini marquees make up the Magners mushroom areas. 

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This magic mash is fantastic. I first tried it when my boyfriend's sister in law cooked it for us when we went round for roast lunch. It tasted so good, I couldn't wait to try it again. It is so simple to make, and works wonderfully with roast chicken or beef, but equally as well cold, with oily fish, such as mackerel, for lunch.

This makes enough for 6-8 people.

5 beetroots
1 swede
1 litre of chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp creamed horseradish
Handful parsley

Wash and halve the beetroots. Peel the swede and chop into large chunks. Add the beetroot halves and the swede chunks to a pan of boiling vegetable stock and cook for 45-60 mins, until both the beetroot and swede feel soft when cut with a knife. Drain the vegetables, and carefully peel the beetroot. The skin should come off very easily.

Return the beetroot to the pan with the swede and stir in the creamed horseradish. Mash all of it together, add salt and pepper to taste, sprinkle with parsley, and eat with whatever you have available! It is such a vibrant colour, looks stunning on the plate, and tastes even better.

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After a recent visit to Ealing Farmers Market, I came home laden with meat! Most of it went in the freezer, including some great steak mince from Boarstall Meats in Buckinghamshire. Ealing Farmers Market runs from 9am - 1pm every Saturday, and I like my lazy weekend mornings, so if I do make it, I pretty much always get there for the last half hour - the best time for deals - 300g of steak mince only cost £2!

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Left to our own devices for a day in Paris and without having any particular plans, we jumped on the metro to Saint Germain, but ended up not quite IN Saint Germain, and not entirely sure where 'St Germain' was. So rather than wander round and try to work it out, we decided to walk to Monmarte. 

What looked like a couple of miles on the map - an easy walk - ended up taking us through busy tourist filled streets and then up winding hills, past kebab houses and launderettes, and eventually into Monmarte. Towards the end of our walk we passed lots of restaurants serving Moules and had been tempted to stop, but none of them seemed to be quite what I was hoping for. But within minutes of arriving at the cobbled streets of Monmarte we found La Mascotte, an innocent looking place, that looked more like a bar tacked onto the side of an amazing fishmonger than a really good restaurant.

La Mascotte turned out to be the best restaurant I ate at in Paris. We sat outside on the pavement, with the sun on our faces. The menu offered every different edible thing from the sea you could imagine, including 8 different types of oyster. We had the second cheapest variety of oyster to start, and served with an excellently sharp and sweet red wine shallot vinegar, they were perfect. Full, flavorsome oysters, tasting like they'd been plucked straight from the sea.

We also had oysters two days later from a lovely French lady in a Saturday food market, who shucked the oysters for us to eat then and there.

We followed the oysters with Moules Mariniere - served by the litre. Delicious. Absolutely delicious. The photo I took of them doesn't even do the mussels justice (so I'm not going to put it on here), they were some of the best I've tried. And they just kept on going, I've never seen so many mussels. Or eaten so many!

La Mascotte was perfect sunny France. I will definitely eat there again.
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I spent a long weekend in Paris recently, and having not been there since I was 14, I asked friends who'd been there more recently for suggestions of where to eat. A very good friend of mine, Hugo, said that I should go to Cafe Hugo, on Place des Vosges. I wasn't sure how much this had to do with it being a good place to eat, or with it sharing his name. Anyhow, we ended up here on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and I'm so glad we did! In fact, it turns out that when I was in Paris with my family all those years ago, we stayed about 300m away from Cafe Hugo.

We got there at about 2.30pm and the place was heaving. We got a table though, outside on the pavement, covered with a see-through marquee. It was such a (naughty) treat to be able to sit at my table, in the warmth, and smoke a cigarette!!

But the best thing about Cafe Hugo was the food. Bowls of onion soup, smelling sweet and thick with melted cheese, were carried past us to many of the other diners. I couldn't manage the onion soup and a main course (after a long weekend of many meals) so opted for just a main course - a beautiful rib of beef I shared with my boyfriend. It was cooked to perfection - 'a pointe' as they call it there. And on point it was. Served with a rustic looking dauphinoise, a few grilled spring onions and half a Parmesan crusted baked tomato - not quite the seasonal vegetables I'd imagined from the description of the dish, but all the same, it was really tasty. After 4 days in Paris, eating in amazing restaurants, I had by now learnt that fresh, simple vegetables simply don't exist as part of main courses!

The service at Cafe Hugo was brilliant. We were very well attended to, and felt relaxed and really comfortable, despite the fact there must've been at least 100 people seated for food there. After conquering our main courses and some good red wine, a quick espresso got me on my feet for a stroll around the stunning square that is Place de Vosges, before heading to the station and back to London.  

A perfect way to spend our last sunny afternoon of a wonderful weekend in Paris.

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Coley has been called 'the fish that could save cod'. We all know that cod is overfished, but as it is still present in EVERY supermarket, frozen, fresh and from the fish counter, it is easy to still pick it up without thinking. However, my new found love of coley has diverted my attentions, and I hope it can change your minds too. The longer we carry on eating overfished fish, the quicker it is going to run out.

This is a great recipe for cooking Coley, but you can choose any of your favorite cod recipes and replace it with coley. Coley is also particularly cheap.

1 small bag of baby new potatoes
3 leeks
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
4 fillets of coley
4 pieces of parma ham
4 sprigs of thyme
1 lemon

Put a pan of salted water on to boil. Add some cleaned baby new potatoes once boiling.

Wash the leeks and chop into cm long slices. Chop the onion finely and add to an oiled pan with the leeks. Fry gently for 5-7 minutes until everything is starting to soften. Place the softened leek and onion in a pile in a roasting tin, and tuck the crushed cloves of garlic into the pile. Now take your coley fillets. Wrap each fillet with a piece of parma ham, and tuck a spring of thyme and a slice of lemon in between the fish and the ham. Pop the wrapped Coley fillets on top of the leek pile. Grill the fish and leeks for 20 minutes under a medium grill.

Drain the potatoes, and crush gently with a fork. Serve alongside a wrapped fillet of coley and some leeks, with a wedge of lemon.
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Stew is a perfect winter food, warm and hearty, and can be left to cook while you go about your day. And this one includes all my favorite Spanish flavours. It also all cooks in one pot, so there is little washing up!

This recipe serves 3 people.

500g leg of lamb, diced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 red pepper, sliced
1 tsp paprika
1 tin of tomatoes
1 tin of olives stuffed with anchovy
1 glass red wine
3 glasses of beef or chicken stock
2 bay leaves
Bunch of rosemary
Zest of half a lemon
1 tin of flageolet beans

Brown the lamb in a heavy bottomed pan over a medium heat. Once brown, remove from the pan and keep to one side. Add the onion, garlic and sliced pepper, and cook until the onion is translucent. Add the paprika and chorizo cut into cm chunks to the pan. Stir for a minute or so. Then mix in the tin of tomatoes and olives. Bubble gently for a few minutes and add the red wine, stock, bay leaves and some rosemary. Season with pepper, and a little salt to taste (the anchovy olives are quite salty though so always taste first). Bring up to a slow simmer.

Replace the browned lamb in the pan with a grate of lemon zest. Part cover the pan and leave to simmer gently for 2 hours, stirring every now and again.

After two hours, add the flageolet beans to the stew. Stir and cook for ten minutes.

Serve with mashed potato, and sprinkle with parsley.
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These sweet delights are perfect as a beautiful birthday gift or just a treat to yourself. Old school sweeties that are 100% homemade and a million miles better than the shop bought ones I remember from my youth.

Coconut ice is really easy to make, it takes a bit of elbow grease, but requires no cooking so really is just mixing.

397g condensed milk (1 tin)
350g desiccated coconut
320g icing sugar
Vanilla extract
Red food colouring

Take one normal size tin of condensed milk (379g) - try and avoid Nestle, there are plenty of other brands available. Add the desiccated coconut, sifted icing sugar and a splash of vanilla extract. Mix this all together, it will be very sticky and difficult to mix but persevere!!

When all the ingredients are combined, spoon half the mixture into a tray lined with buttered greaseproof paper. Ideal size for these amounts in 20cm x 10cm tray.

Add a few drops of red food dye to the remaining mixture. Mix thoroughly and press over the mix into the tin with slightly wet hands. Once you have an even surface you're done. Loosely cover with foil. Put the coconut ice into the fridge for 4-8 hours. Then remove and place in a cool, dry area for a further 12 hours. Then you're ready to cut the coconut ice into small squares, place in airtight jars and give to anyone you love!

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The Bollo in Chiswick is one of my favorite local eat-outs. Their menu offers good hearty meals, with meat and fish, as well as vegetarian, all living up to their own. So, I was  very happy to discover that the owners have a few more gastropubs, the other one nearest to me is the Ealing Park Tavern. Located a walk through the park away from me, it couldn't be better. I booked in for dinner recently and was not disappointed.

I have a small obsession with reading restaurant's menus online before I visit them, and noted that the Ealing Park Tavern had less options on the menu than The Bollo, but seemed to be a slightly more upmarket version, with higher priced dishes - the choice of ingredient dictating the value. I love the food at The Bollo so was excited for the EPT, despite it's unassuming exterior.

The restaurant was quiet when we visited, but beautifully furnished and with a welcoming fire blazing. The service was brilliant throughout, attentive but not intrusive. Our starters of pork, pistachio & apricot terrine, apple chutney, toasted brioche and baked pecan & thyme crusted goats cheese, pickled beetroot, baby pousse, balsamic dressing were very good.

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