If you look for mince pie recipes online 90% off them just list mincemeat from jars as the main ingredient, but it's so easy to make your own mixture, and you only need ingredients that you probably already have at home. This recipe also doesn't need to sit for any time before being used to make mince pies so it's perfect if you feel you've run out of time!

I just grabbed whatever fruit was in the bowl, and you can vary the types and quantities of all the fresh and dry fruit as long as they add up to the right amount.

For 36 mince pies

600g dried fruit - I used about 200g sultanas, 200g raisins, 20g cranberries, 80g chopped apricots, 30g golden sultanas and 70g chopped dates
4 or 5 citrus fruit, zested and juiced - I used 2 large oranges and 3 clementines
4 apples or pears - I used 3 apples and 2 juicy pears, which made up for the small amount of juice from the clementines
60g butter
8 tbsp brandy
Grated nutmeg

Put all the ingredients, except the brandy and nutmeg, into a small heavy bottom saucepan, simmer and cover. Leave to gently simmer for 20minutes, stirring occasionally. After 20 minutes add 6 tbsp brandy, stir, cover and return to the heat for about 5 minutes. Once all the brandy is absorbed, turn the heat off and add the rest of the brandy and a good grating of nutmeg.

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These buttery biscuits are possibly one of the easiest recipes I've put up here, but don't let their simplicity fool you - they are actually seriously delicious!

Makes about 40 biscuits

300g plain flour
200g salted butter
100g caster sugar
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
Zest from 1 orange

The easiest way to make these biscuits is with a magimix. If you don't have one, you can still make them, it may just take a little longer!

Tip all of your ingredients into the magimix and pulse until the mixture just starts to form a ball. If you're doing this by hand, tip all the dry ingredients into a bowl, and mix. Add the butter, chopped into small cubes, and crumble the mixture until it resembles breadcrumbs. At this stage combine all the crumbs together until they just form a ball.

Wrap the dough in cling film and refrigerate for 15-20 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 175C.

Tip the ball of dough onto a lightly floured surface. You will probably need to divide the ball in 2 and do this in two batches. You can keep the 2nd half in the fridge whilst you cook the first batch.

Roll the dough out with a rolling pin until it's about 3mm thick. These biscuits are really thin, which enhances their texture once cooked. I like to use heart shaped cutters, but you can use whatever you have, or even just cut squares with a knife.

Place the cut out biscuits on a sheet of greaseproof paper, and put this onto a baking tray. Cook the biscuits for 8-9 minutes, or until they just start to turn golden at the edges. Remove from oven and sprinkle liberally with caster sugar. Move the greaseproof paper off the baking tray and leave on the side to cool.

The biscuits will keep for a week or so in an airtight container - or put them in a cellophane bag, tie with a ribbon and give to your loved ones for Christmas!
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Next Saturday, 14th December, I'm hosting another supper club/pop up restaurant at my house in West London, and there's still a few tickets left, available through Grub Club, if you want to come along.

The last event was such a great success that I really can't wait for this one! We had such a varied group of people come on the night, from students, to photographers, to food journalists (eek!) - from all walks and ages of life. It was a brilliant night at our house, a chance to meet new people and rekindle old friendships over a long and plentiful dinner, and I've been very fortunate to have had great reviews of the night.

My supper clubs focus on using seasonal, British and really well sourced ingredients. I have visited the farms that produce the food I'm using and have seen the cows that the meat I'm using in my main course and the cheese for the cheeseboard comes from! Everything on the night is handmade by me, at home, promising the freshest and yummiest food around.

The menu for the 14th is as follows:

To start - Cornish mussels cooked in cider with baby leeks, served with the crustiest, fluffiest homemade bread (I normally cook wholemeal fruity bread, but this wouldn't go well with the mussels, so I was perfecting the crusty white bread all of last weekend and literally could not stop eating it!)

For mains - This is the part I'm most excited about feeding everyone. I'm serving a beef and beer pie, with the most extra-ordinary meat I could find. The rare breed highland beef comes straight from Oxenpark Farm (more info here) who rear very few animals each year in order to ensure the animals are reared in the best way possible.

The cows are fed on 100% grass and clover and the taste of the meat is just incredible. This will be served with horseradish mash, star anise glazed carrots, greens and an ale gravy. Perfect winter grub! 

Something sweet - After a litte post-mains break, next up is a sweet and decadent pear and almond tart. Pears are poached in a ginger syrup and then made into this sumptuous, gluten free tart, served with a homemade butterscotch creme fraiche to take the edge off that sweetness! This is one of my personal favorties! I'm also serving a MAD pudding wine with this for everyone to enjoy.

Cheese and more - Once the pudding has been served it'll be time for cheese. I'm using the excellent Montgomery cheeses, straight from their small Somerset farm, and serving these with some of my salty, herby, wholemeal crackers and a cherry tomato chutney on the side.

To finish - Finally, and if you've still got room left, I'm serving the least British sourced part of my menu - I have special a Guatemalan and Brazilian coffee blend, or a selection of herbal teas to round off your meal with some of my ginger shortbreads.

It's £30 a head for the evening, and includes all of the above! It's going to be a really fun, food filled evening and I hope as many of you as possible can come along!

You can get your tickets here.

If you can't make this date but are interested in future events, do check back on my blog - there's a link on top right to A LITTLE LUSCIOUSNESS POP UPS and I will keep that updated with details of my events.
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This salad is perfect Autumn food. Yes, it's a cold salad, and it therefore doesn't seem like it will be the most comforting thing you can eat, but the flavours are heavenly! Although it's a salad, this one takes a little bit of time to prepare, so is ideal if you want to do something in advance for a dinner party, for example.

Serves 4

For the beetroot:
4 medium beetroot
8 sprigs of fresh thyme
1kg table salt
2 egg whites

For the walnuts:
20 walnut halves
100g caster sugar
100g water
1 bottle vegetable oil

For the goat's cheese:
200g soft goat's cheese, Welsh is ideal but you can use Chevre Blanc
1 tsp creme fraiche
1 tsp cream cheese
Tsp of fresh thyme leaves
Ground pink peppercorns

For the salad:
Mixed salad leaves, including some purple leaves
1 teaspoon English mustard
1 lemon
Olive oil
Salt and pepper

Start with your beetroot. Preheat the oven to 180C. Mix the table salt with the egg whites in a large bowl, and cover a baking tray with tin foil. Lightly scrub each beetroot clean and pat dry with kitchen roll. Take 2 sprigs of thyme and hold against the edge of the beetroot. Grab a handful of the salt/egg white mix and press it around the beetroot until the whole beetroot's encased in salt and egg white. Place each one onto the baking tray once done.

Repeat with all the beetroot and then cook at 180C for 1 hour. Once ready, leave to cool slightly, then crack each beetroot open, pulling the beetroot from its salt case.

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I've always loved cheese. From the moment I could say Camembert (or come-on-bear as I used to call it) I can't get enough of the stuff! So when I was reading Tamasin Day-Lewis's cookbook before bed the other night, and she continually referenced Montgomery's cheese, I thought I'd get in touch with them and see if I could arrange a little snoop around their cheese factory, to see where the best of the best is made. After all, they were our local cheese farm where I grew up.

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I've posted a chutney recipe before, but as it's getting towards the time of year when we start thinking about Christmas presents I thought I'd put this recipe up, as gifted in jars it's a wonderful present to give.

The main difference between this chutney and the last one I posted is the level of sweetness. The last chutney recipe I put up was made with green tomatoes, raisins and other bits and pieces, and makes quite a sweet chutney. This chutney is a little sharper, and spicier, and is perfect with cheeses and cold meats. As with the other chutney, you can also eat this one straight away, although it does improve with time, so is at its best around 3-4 days after you make it. This version is also redder in colour than the other chutney, so is prettier to look at!

Makes 2 jars of chutney

1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp dried chipotle chillies
1 tsp dried ancho chillies
500g ripe cherry tomatoes
1 red onion
2 cloves garlic
Knob of ginger
150ml red wine vinegar
200g golden caster sugar
1 tsp Worcester sauce

Preheat the oven to 60C.

Put the coriander and cumin seeds and dried chillies in a dry frying pan and heat for a couple of minutes until you can smell their aromas. Remove and crush up in a pestle and mortar.

Chop the larger cherry tomatoes in half and leave the smaller ones whole. Dice the onion finely and crush the garlic and ginger. Add all the ingredients to a wide saucepan and heat until bubbling.

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Last night I was lucky enough to go to 2 previews of art exhibitions that are on in East London this weekend, and if you're in London, I seriously recommend going to both.

First off was The Moniker Art Fair, on Hanbury Street, off Brick Lane. It's a huge exhibition in what I call the old part of the Truman Brewery (the south end), with over 50 artists exhibiting urban, contemporary art. There's something for everyone there, and my mind was blown wandering round the exhibitors stands, seeing the variety of art on offer. The place was buzzing, and I could've well spent many hours there (had I not known what was waiting at the next event we went to!)

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I've come across the Cool Chile Company before, as I was given a jar of their Chipotle in Adobo sauce for my birthday, but last weekend I was lucky enough to meet the ladies who run the company and get more of an insight into what they do, and their excellent products. Whilst working for the boy at Vegfest, Olympia, our stall was opposite the Cool Chile Co, and when they presented me with all their samples from the weekend to take home I was so excited about getting in the kitchen and having a go with them! 

The first thing I tried was the Tomatillo salsa (made from small, green, sour tomatoes) - mixed with mashed avocado and a squeeze of lime, as recommended on the jar. If you ever want a quick dip to eat with flatbreads or crisps, then I really recommend this. It was so good. The creamy avocado is cut by the tang of the salsa and sharpness from the lime. I nearly polished off the whole jar! The salsa/avocado mix would also be brilliant with fajitas or tacos.

The Cool Chile Company are based in London and import all sorts of delicious chillies, herbs, chocolates and spices from Mexico that they then sell on. In my box of goodies I also got Chipotle chillies - dried and powdered, which have a smokey tobacco flavour, ancho chilli (tobacco and dried fruit, and used to make mole sauce), habanero chilli (fiery with a tropical fruit flavour), chilli de arbol (hot with a grassy essence), pasilla (herbaceous and fruity), some Mexican herbs and powdered smoked paprika. It really is amazing how different all the varieties of chilli smell and taste.

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On Saturday 2nd November, I'm teaming up with Slow Food London to bring you my first public A Little Lusciousness pop up! I've been in talks with Grub Club for a while about launching pop up restaurants, and it is so exciting to finally be able to tell you about it, and give you some more details!!

Slow Food is a global, not for profit organisation whose aim is to promote "the pleasure of food with a commitment to the community and the environment". They stand against the increase in fast food, and aim to get people to stop and think about where their food has come from. It's all about local sourcing, preparing home food and taking some time and care with getting food ready to eat. It is an ethos and an attitude towards food that they promote - one I firmly believe in, and one that I'm sure many people could learn something from. The Slow Food London food projects are really in line with my beliefs around homegrown, lovingly prepared food, so when the opportunity to do something with them came up, it seemed like the ideal time to launch my pop up to the public!

The menu for my pop up is as follows, with all ingredients being free-range and/or organic, and sourced from British suppliers that I continue to work with (including Devon large white variety pork shoulder from Wyndham House butchers, and cheeses from the wonderful guys at O Toma O Morte). It will be a very casual evening, and a great opportunity to spend some time with like minded foodies!


STARTER – Borscht with homemade soda bread.

MAIN – 24 hour shoulder of Devon free-range pork with special carrots, celeriac coleslaw and vegetables, with smokey BBQ sauce.

PUDDING – Sticky apple and pecan cake with butterscotch sauce.

CHEESE – Cheeseboard with pears, chutney and homemade biscuits.

I'll be providing soft drinks as well, but if you'd like something stronger, please feel free to bring a bottle (or two!)

All proceeds from ticket sales for the night will be going to Slow Food London Schools Programme, where the money will go towards funding a raised bed garden being built in a school for special needs children in London. You can read more about what Slow Food London do here.

Going forward, I will be doing a monthly pop up in West London, which will be promoted through the Grub Club site. It would be great if you can make it along to one of them, as I'd love to put some faces to names!! For tickets or more information please go to my page on the Grub Club website. Tickets are available now for the November event, and details about the December event will be up soon!!

Thank you!
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In June I blogged about Enough Food IF with Action Aid UK, a campaign that raised awareness about global hunger and food issues. A campaign that led to land grabs being put on the G8 agenda for the first time ever and the UK government finally delivering on their promise to spend 0.7% of national income on Aid, which was a brilliant result.

I've always tried to do what I can to support various charities, and have always had such admiration for the work that Action Aid do. When I got an email telling me about their latest campaign, REBUILD, I had to do all I could to help. Action Aid have over 2,200 children in the most war affected African countries waiting for sponsorship. Sponsoring a child costs less than £4 a week, and helps provide life saving medicines, water, education and a safer home for them - all things they deserve. Sponsoring a child can also give them something else they deserve - a happy, innocent childhood. Over 10 million children have experienced and been psychologically damaged by war in the last 10 years alone, and sponsorship supports both the child and their community through and after such trauma. 

Action Aid suggested that I blog about childhood memories. I thought of princess dresses and leaving food out for hedgehogs, horse riding and enjoying time with generations of my family. And just being happy. 

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I don't think there's anything that sums up British Autumn more than an apple crumble. British apples in these months taste just like apples should - sweet, ripe and juicy. And having grown up in Kent and then Somerset, I've always been surrounded by orchards full of apple trees, dropping their apples around now. Unfortunately I don't know where in the UK the apples I used for this crumble came from, but I do know they were fresh and British. I like a golden, crunchy crumble topping and if you follow this recipe you should end up with one too.

The crumble needs to be made in 2 parts, as you need to allow the apples to cool before adding the crumble and cooking in the oven.

Serves 6 using an 8" cake tin.

For the filling:
8 medium British apples (I used a mixture of Discovery and Braeburn)
Seeds from 1 vanilla pod
1 tbsp caster sugar
Knob of butter

For the crumble:
3 tbsp porridge oats
3 tbsp plain flour
2 tbsp salted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar

(Sorry for the lack of weights - I don't have my scales in the house we're staying at! Use heaped tablespoons for all measurements)

Cut your apples in half, and then each half into thirds. Remove the cores. I don't like peeling apples as most of their goodness is found in and just under the skin, but feel free to peel yours if you want.

Put the apple slices in a saucepan, with the vanilla seeds, 1 tbsp caster sugar, a splash of water (just enough to cover the bottom of the pan) and a knob of butter. Cover, and cook on a low heat for 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and allow to cool. You can speed up this process by pouring the apples into the dish you'll make your crumble in, as this will be cooler than the saucepan you've just cooked them in!

Meanwhile make your crumble topping. Mix the oats and plain flour in a large bowl. Add the butter and using your fingers, incorporate the butter into the oat and flour mix until your left with breadcrumb like crumbles. Tip the sugar in and mix with the crumble.

Preheat the oven to 200C (180C fan).

When the apples have cooled pour your crumble mix over the top. Tap the dish so it settles evenly, but don't press it down too hard.

Cook, uncovered, in the oven for 25-35 minutes, or until it looks golden like this:

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I must've been told about The Princess Victoria pub on Uxbridge Road by more than 10 different people over the last year, recommending that I eat there. And having booked a table about a month ago which we weren't able to make, it was high time I got myself down there to see how good it really was.

So that's where we headed for lunch on my birthday.

The Princess Victoria is halfway down Uxbridge Road, between Shepherds Bush and Ealing Common. It's an unassuming building, with frosted windows facing the road, and is somewhere you could easily walk straight past if you didn't know what was hidden inside. But don't let that put you off - once inside it really is quite impressive! Wood panelling lines the walls, and a large circular bar swoops into the first room you enter. Past the bar area is the main restaurant, full of solid wood tables with wooden chairs. A long serving table goes up one side of the restaurant room, with various homemade breads out, ready for service. 

It was Monday lunchtime when we went, and although not busy, there were a few people eating. I was surprised they were serving food at all, as most gastro pubs I know don't do Monday lunch.

We were offered a table in the main restaurant, but opted for a cosy table in the bar. The ratio of staff to diners was about 1:1, and the staff were all really friendly and welcoming.

I could've sat and tried to work my way through their entire menu, as it's really my type of food, made with responsibly sourced ingredients. But we had a lot of unpacking to do, so decided to share a starter and have a main each.

The menu at Princess Victoria is split into Charcuterie; Oysters, cured and smoked fish; Starters; Mains; and "From the ageing room....".

We went for the Tamworth pork and peppercorn pate with pickle and toast to start (I'm a sucker for a pickle, and this one was perfect!) I could've done with a little more of the crispy toast on the side, but that's probably just because I'm a little greedy! The pate had an excellent texture and just the right balance between salty and sweet.

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I know, I know. It's another non food related post... Sorry! But firstly, I still can't cook all that well with my broken arm, and secondly I just have to tell you about our amazing weekend away!

I started planning my birthday weekend in about January this year. I know this seems like a ridiculously long time before my actual birthday (September) but I also know how quickly my friends weekends get booked up, and my birthday weekend is one of the most popular weekends for weddings, so I wanted to make sure I had my accommodation booked for our weekend away. A flurry of emails went out to friends and most came back saying yes, they'd love to come. So the next task was to find somewhere that would house 20+ of us for 3 nights. I always knew I wanted to stay in the UK, preferably within 90 minutes of London and Brighton, where 90% of my friends are. I looked on various websites including Canopy and Stars, and had I known about Airbnb in January I probably would've booked something via there, but I didn't, and ended up booking Manor Farm House in Kent, via Rural Retreats. The property boasted 3 houses, a swimming pool, jacuzzis, a sauna, pool table and 2 acres of land. It sounded perfect!

The 'summer', weddings, festivals and parties, came and went and I could eventually get excited for my birthday weekend. It's not every year you turn 30 - I think this might be the last birthday I actually want to make a big deal of!!

So Friday arrived, and off we headed, with a van full of enough stuff to last us for weeks! The rain cleared as we drove East, and we arrived at Milstead in Kent, the tiny village that's home to Manor Farm House. I was so, so excited about seeing the property, and wasn't disappointed when we arrived. Each of the 3 houses had 3-5 bedrooms, most with en suites, and all done to a really high spec. We poured ourselves a drink, settled on the terrace and waited for the others to arrive.

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My cooking abilities are still limited. 6 weeks post bike fall, 5 hospital visits later and my wrist is still broken. In fact, one of the bones has healed but that's no use when the other one hasn't! So a quick change of plaster cast and the wait to be able to cook, clean, wash properly, and all those other things I took for granted, continues!

However, I was pretty pleased with myself when I managed to make this last night, home alone, and without anyone to help peel, cut or lift trays. It's not ground breaking, but it is delicious, and pretty easy to assemble. If you wanted to have this with meat instead of fish it would be great with thinly sliced rare steak. And if you don't want meat or fish, this is perfectly yummy on its own - just leave out the anchovies too.

I've called these putta potatoes as they have a lot of the same ingredients as the Italian puttanesca pasta sauce.

Serves 4.

4 large potatoes
1 pack green beans
1 pack of English mini red peppers
Handful black olives
4 cloves garlic
1 tbsp capers
6 anchovy fillets
2 tomatoes
Good olive oil
2 lemons
Salt and pepper
4 responsibly sourced tuna steaks 

Get a pan of water on to boil, and turn the grill onto a medium high heat.

Peel the potatoes and slice into 3cm cubes. Boil in salted water (they should take 12-15 mins).

Slice the peppers in half, remove seeds and stalks, toss in olive oil and grill for 5 minutes.

When the potatoes are nearly cooked (soft when poked with a knife), chop the green beans in half and add to the potato pan. Cook for 90 seconds and drain.

Take the peppers out of the oven and sprinkle with paprika. Add the drained potatoes and green beans, and the crushed garlic, sliced black olives, capers and anchovies. Slice the tops and bottoms off the tomatoes and slot these in too. Top with a good grind of pepper - you don't need salt as the olives, anchovies and capers are all quite salty anyway, and a generous glug of olive oil. I did all of this on a foiled baking tray, so there would be less for the boy to wash up (I'm definitely still off washing up with my cast on!)

Put the tray of vegetables under the grill for around 8 minutes.

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We're about to have our house refurbished (floors, carpets, bathrooms, kitchen - yey! etc), and have to move out to do so, so spent the whole weekend packing, boxing things up, trying to work out what should go to recycling, and getting the house as empty as possible (again, I'm less than helpful with a broken hand, but I did try!)

Lifting might not be my forte for another few weeks, but I am now able to whip up a few basics in the kitchen as the strength of my thumb/finger grip is getting better. I therefore decided to do my part to help with the weekend move by keeping everyone well fed. The move also forced me to empty the freezer, which is what inspired the first dish I cooked, as I found half a side of salmon in the freezer which I'd got when it was on special offer at Ocado.

It still feels like summer to me, so I made a huge, healthy salad to keep everyone going on Saturday.


Makes enough for 6-8 people

1 half side of Scottish salmon
2 lemons
Handful basil leaves
Tablespoon of capers
Couple of anchovy fillets
Olive oil

300g puy lentils
1 cube vegetable stock
1 tsp garlic granules
Basil stalks
3 carrots
2 spring onions
Handful of tomatoes
1 cucumber
Salt and pepper

1 part lemon juice
2 parts olive oil
Large pinch sea salt
1 crushed clove of garlic

I actually made this in 2 parts - I cooked the salmon on Friday evening and cut off a fillet each for me and the boy, which we had warm with green beans, new potatoes and homemade hollandaise sauce. Then on Saturday I made this salad.

To cook the salmon, preheat the oven to 220C (200C fan).

Slice 2 lemons thinly to create discs. Put the lemon discs onto some tin foil on a baking tray. Sprinkle the capers over the lemons, and add the basil and anchovy fillets. Drizzle with oil and a good grind of pepper. Place the side of salmon skin side up on top of the sliced lemons. Rub the salmon fillet on both sides with olive oil and another good grind of pepper. Put the salmon in the oven and cook for 10-12 minutes (I did ours for just over 10 minutes and it was perfect). Gently peel off the skin when you take the fish out of the oven.

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On Friday night, after a long post-holiday/festival/wedding week back at work we headed over to Street Feast to check out their newest tenant, Smokestak. I hadn't been to Street Feast since last year and it was great to see how it's grown and developed since then.

We got to Dalston just before 7pm, which was a good time to arrive as there weren't too many queues to get into the venue, or at the food and drink stalls.

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As you may know, if you read my Tresco holidays post, I've broken 2 bones in my hand. This makes cooking particularly difficult at the moment, as I can't even hold or grip anything in that hand, so I'm really struggling in the kitchen! On top of this, I've barely been home recently as after our holiday, we went straight to Boomtown festival for a week, and then on to my little brother's incredible wedding. So when we got back home to London late yesterday evening, the last thing I felt like doing was fighting vegetables with a knife and no usable left hand! So we chose delivery instead. I've ordered a few deliveries recently, due to the one-handedness, but this was the best by far. I found Feng Sushi via hungryhouse, a website that locates your local food delivery companies. I'm always a little hesitant about ordering sushi for delivery as you can't guarantee the freshness that is essential for good sushi, but I read lots of good reviews and found out that they only use line caught tuna and sustainably sourced fish, and I really wanted fresh, raw, healthy food, so decided to go for it anyway.

We ordered at about 7pm, and our food was with us by 7.50, which is no mean feat, considering that Feng Sushi is about 4 miles from our house!

As usual I went completely over the top with the amount of food I ordered for 2 of us, but it was all so yummy we managed to eat most of it anyway!

I ordered a miso soup, which was just as miso should be; the "heavenly salmon spring roll" starter, that was a cooked salmon spring roll, which was nice but a little greasy and therefore not really what I wanted; an x ray salad, made up of peppers, edamame beans, pomegranate seeds, avocado and poppy seed, that was a big bowl of healthy freshness; the deluxe mixed sashimi selection of hand dived scallops salmon, tuna, yellow tail with kimchee, mackerel and MSC ikura (roe);

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One of my favorite things about Tresco and the Isles of Scilly is the food! There is such a diverse range of locally sourced, homegrown produce, the majority of which you can see growing and developing around you as you explore the islands.

On Tresco there are 2 shops. One is the main and official shop where you can buy toiletries, drinks, Cornish cheeses, cereals and all the normal things you'd find in a food shop, but you can also buy Tresco beef, that comes from the very free range cows on the island, and Troy Town Farm ice cream that's made on St Agnes, another of the islands. On the other side of Tresco, up a track is the other 'shop'. It's not your normal shop though, this is the Tresco Farm shop - an open shack stocking whatever has been pulled fresh from the ground that morning - there's new potatoes, fresh garlic, green beans, salads, strawberries, courgettes, homemade jam and lots more - and an honesty box where you leave your money.

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I've been a bad blogger and haven't posted recently but I've been away on holiday with very little access to computers. And although my holiday wasn't entirely food related I wanted to tell you about the magical island that I go to every summer with my family.

Tresco is a tiny island, about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide, off the end of Cornwall, that is part of a group of islands called the Isles of Scilly, 5 of which are inhabited. 

Last Friday night my boyfriend and I got the overnight sleeper train, the "Night Riviera", from Paddington to Penzance. If you're ever thinking of taking the sleeper train I really recommend booking a berth. The train journey's 8 hours long and sitting in a lit carriage for that long is not particularly comfortable!!

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The residents of Somerset are very lucky people. The most wonderful artisan bakery has recently opened its doors to the public, to sell the amazing breads, pastries and puddings that they normally only sell wholesale.

In the tiny village of Lovington, in the old ice-cream factory, a young couple have set up bakers shop and are producing some of the best baked goods I've tried. I popped down there a month or so ago, and came back with arms full of seriously yummy sourdoughs, pain au chocolat, handmade chocolates and challah buns.

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I was thrilled to be invited to Barrio East, one of 3 Barrio restaurants, to try their new brunch and brunch cocktail menu recently. Breakfast/brunch is one of my favorite things, especially when there's time to enjoy it at the weekend. Barrio East is on Shoreditch High St and Sunday was the first time I'd been there since they took over from previous residents Avalon (apparently there's even still a swimming pool in the basement there!)

As you know, it was baking hot on Sunday in London, and getting the tube from West to East was almost unbearable, but arriving at Barrio East, into their cool, bright and funky venue, it all seemed worthwhile. We were seated on a table right by the window, which was perfect for watching the world go by outside.

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I wasn't intending on posting this recipe up here, as it's more of a compilation of foods than an intricate recipe, but it tasted and looked so good that I felt I had to share! It's the perfect summer supper that's quick and easy to make. You can eat the red peppers with other fish than salmon, they're also great with sticky chicken, and they're brilliant to take to a picnic. 

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On Tuesday night the boy and I went to Carl Clarke’s new venture, Rock Lobsta at Mahiki, near Green Park. Mahiki is not somewhere I would normally choose to spend my evenings, but stick one of my favourite chefs in there, cooking up a seafood feast, and I was there like a shot!! The last time I ate Carl’s food was in a beach hut on top of a roof in East London, on what was meant to be a sunny evening last summer, when in fact, it poured rain all night, and rather than enjoy the food as I should’ve done, I sat shuddering from the rain and cold in the corner of the roof top hut. However, Tuesday night was a much warmer, more enjoyable experience.

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So, this post doesn't really have anything to do with food.... but hear me out, because I have an invitation for you! And although it's nothing to do with food, the company I'm writing about has a lot to do with what I believe in when it comes to clothes and their production.

My lovely boyfriend runs a company called THTC, The Hemp Trading Company, who for the last 14 years have been producing and selling ethically made clothing, primarily to men. THTC was set up to target those who wouldn't normally think about or care where their clothes have come from; making cool, printed t-shirts, sweats, hoodies, caps and more from ethically sourced and produced, organic and fairtrade materials. The majority of their printing is done with water based inks, which in turn do much less damage to the environment. All in all, whether he's my boyfriend or not, I think what THTC do is brilliant, and a great way to engage people in understanding responsible fashion.

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Here's a little selection of what I got up to in June...

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This isn't actually a soup. Well it is, but normally soup has more liquid than other ingredients, so I suppose this more of a broth. Either way, it's the perfect lightweight, healthy meal that's quick and easy to cook. The original recipe came from Lyndsey Bareham's column in The Times, but I've made a few tweaks to give it my own twist.

Serves 2.

250g Jersey Royal new potatoes
1/4 vegetable stock cube
1-2 cups of water
1 lemon, zest and juice
200g raw king prawns, peeled
200g peas
100g green beans, chopped into 2cm pieces
1 tbsp creme fraiche

Rinse the new potatoes and chop into bite size pieces (about 2cm square). Put the potatoes in a wide saucepan (I actually use the wok to cook this in) and pour over enough water to just cover them. Sprinkle with a tiny corner of vegetable stock cube. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for 8 minutes or so, or until the potatoes feel slightly soft when poked with a knife.

Add the zest and juice of the lemon and the prawns, stir, and cook for another 2 minutes. Now add the peas and beans and cook for 1 minute.

Remove from the pan, and stir the creme fraiche into the juice.

Serve in bowls with plenty of the liquid, a grind of black pepper, and a big wedge of lemon.

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Elderflower cordial is one of my favorite soft drinks. I've never been one to drink fizzy drinks and occasionally have a Ribena, but I always make sure we have a bottle of elderflower cordial at home. So last year, when the elderflowers were out and blooming I was determined to make some cordial. Unfortunately it rained and rained and rained during their flowering season, so the flowers didn't seem as fragrant as they normally do, and I left it, promising myself I would make some this year. Which is exactly what I've done.

Elderflowers are best picked on a sunny late May/early June day, when the flowers are creamy white.

Elderflower cordial is pretty easy to make. Other than the initial mixing process, all it then involves is the patience to let the flowers stew in the syrup for 48 hours - our fridge smells delicious when I open the door!

You want your flowers as fresh
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Cookies are something I rarely eat. I never buy them from shops, and hardly ever make them, but I whipped up a batch to take with us to a rented cottage in the New Forest a couple of weeks ago. And they were really yummy! They're full of nuts, fruit and chocolate and are nicely soft and chewy.

You want to make the cookie dough about half an hour before you cook it, as the dough's better after a quick chill in the fridge.

Makes 15 palm size cookies

130g unsalted butter
125g light brown soft sugar
75g caster sugar
1 large egg
Zest of 1 orange
200g plain flour
1 slightly heaped teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 flat teaspoon table salt
20g almonds
30g orange chocolate
20g golden sultanas
20g dried cherries

Mix the butter with the sugars and beat until light and creamy. Add the egg and stir in with the sugar mix. Zest the orange into the mix. 

Put the flour, bicarbonate of soda and salt in a separate bowl and mix. Pour into the sugar mix and stir until all combined. 

Chop the almonds, chocolate orange, sultanas and dried cherries and add to the cookie dough mixture.

Lay a piece of cling film out and tip the cookie mix onto it. Flatten out and roll into a long cylinder, wrapping the cling film tightly around it. Refrigerate this for half an hour or so.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Once chilled, slice the cookie dough into discs, about an inch thick. Place 6 discs on each well greased baking tray, spread out as much as possible.

Cook for 8-9 mins until lightly golden at the edges.

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Well made salsa verde is one of my favorite things. It is great with white fish, such as coley and pollack, and with oilier fish like mackerel and sardines. It also really compliments cooked and cold meats, and is fab with roast chicken, slow roast pork belly, barbecued lamb or Spanish hams. It is equally as good tossed through buttery pasta for an easy mid-week supper. Or just a dip with some nice homemade bread.

Make a lot of it, as you will want to put it on everything you eat (if you're anything like me!), and as long as it is covered with a thin layer of oil in an airtight jar it will last for a couple of weeks in the fridge - not that it ever lasts that long in my house!

1 large bunch of parsley
1 large bunch of basil
Either 1 bunch of tarragon, 1 bunch of corainder, 1 bunch of mint or 1 bunch of spinach
Handful of capers and a bit of their juice
1 tin of anchovies
1 clove of garlic
2 spring onions
Olive oil
1 lemon, juice and zest

Roughly chop the parsley and basil. Depending on what you will serve your salsa with you can also add a bit of tarragon or coriander (great with chicken), mint leaves (for lamb) or spinach (for serving with white fish). It's up to you what variety of flavour combination to go for. 

Next chop the semi drained capers, spring onions and anchovies. Add this to the herbs and blitz for 2 seconds in a food processor with one crushed clove of garlic. When blitzing, try not to over blitz the salsa as it will become a bit slimey if it's chopped too much. Add a glug of good olive oil and the oil from the tin of anchovies, the juice and zest of a lemon and some black pepper. Blitz for ten seconds and transfer to an air-tight jar, cover with a thin layer of olive oil and it's ready for whenever you want it!

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