Recipe – Red Onion Tarte Tatin with Goat Cheese

This delicious tart makes a wonderful light lunch dish or vegetarian entrée. The pastry is light and crisp and the onions have a rich, tangy, savory sweetness.

It’s very easy to prepare, especially as you’re going to cheat with frozen puff pastry which is always a good thing to keep in your freezer. The onion filling freezes well and can be made a day or so ahead and will keep covered in the fridge. You could also use it as a pizza or burger topping, so perhaps make double the quantity and you’ll be well armed for whenever you need to whip something up in a hurry.

The goat cheese topping is optional and shaved Parmesan would also be lovely.

If you prepare the onion filling ahead, gently warm it through before assembling the tart.

Red Onion Tarte Tatin with Goat Cheese


(Serves 6 as an appetizer, 4 as a main course)


2lbs / 1kilo of red onions, peeled, halved and sliced very thinly

2 tablespoons of extra-v olive oil

2oz / 56g butter

1 teaspoon of light soft brown sugar

A generous splash of balsamic vinegar (If you can find it, fig-infused balsamic vinegar is really good)

½ a pack of fresh thyme (about 4 sprigs) – leaves pulled off the stalks and chopped, thick stalks discarded

One sheet from a 1.1lb packet of frozen puff pastry or, 375g of the UK equivalent – ready rolled and thawed out in the fridge.


In a large skillet or wide sauté pan with a lid, heat the olive oil and butter. Add the onions and everything else (except the pastry) and give it a really good stir to mix. Continue to cook covered over a very low heat,  stirring every 5-10 minutes or so until the onions are darkly caramelized, soft and jammy-looking.

This can take 40-60 minutes as a slow, low heat brings out the mellow sweetness of the onions.

When you’re ready to assemble the tart, heat the oven to 425F / 220C

Roll out the pastry and cut a circle (or square) that’s slightly larger than the top of a well-oiled 9 inch (24cm) shallow cake or pie pan. If you have an ovenproof cast iron skillet, even better. Tip the onions into the pan; place the pastry on top of the onions and tuck it in around the edges.

Prick the pastry all over with a fork – this allows steam to escape and prevents the pastry from becoming soggy.

Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is crisp, puffy and golden. Take it out of the oven and immediately place a large plate over the pan and swiftly invert the tart onto the plate, giving it a good shake.

Serve warm, cut into 4-6 wedges, drizzled over with a little more balsamic vinegar and topped with some crumbled fresh goat cheese (or not) – either way, it’s delicious.

Serve with a mixed leaf salad and a light citrus-y dressing.


Posted in Salads & Appetizers, Vegetables / Vegetarian | 2 Comments

Recipe – Wild Mushroom Soup

There really isn’t any way to make this soup prettier looking but for mushroom lovers, its pure magic. The aroma alone will more than make up for its rather gloomy appearance and the combination of fresh mushrooms and dried porcini with sherry, creates a soup that  tastes so wonderful, it would grace the menu at any dinner party.

The addition of a few crispy croutons wills certainly help or perhaps a blob of creme fraiche and a sprinkle of parsley.

Unless you have some Duxelles in the freezer or are willing to make it, leave it out. The recipe for Duxelles is here – I make and freeze batches of it two or 3 times a year as its indispensable for pizza-topping, sauces, pasta, soup – and toppings for burgers, salmon, steak, chicken, baked or mashed potatoes, etc.

With or without duxelles, the soup will be excellent but adding duxelles will definitely take it to another level.

Wild Mushroom Soup


(Serves 4)

¾ oz (20g) of dried porcini mushrooms – available from good supermarkets, Italian delis or Wholefoods

12 oz (350g) of dark mushrooms such as large portabellas, open cap field mushrooms or chestnut mushrooms

1 pint (570ml) of hot chicken broth (vegetarians use vegetable stock)

1 cup (240g) of Duxelles (optional but recommended)

1.5 oz (40g) of butter

1 large shallot, minced

5 fl oz (150ml) of sherry

1 tablespoon of crème fraiche

Freshly ground black pepper and sea salt


October 2010, assorted 026Cover the dried porcini with 1 pint (570 ml) of hot organic chicken broth (or vegetable stock) and leave to soak for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, chop the 12 oz (350 g) of cleaned fresh mushrooms into small pieces in a food processor or by hand.

Melt the butter over a gentle heat in a medium sized, heavy-based pan then cook the shallot gently for 5-8 minutes until softened. Add the fresh chopped mushrooms, stirring everything well. Keep the heat turned as low as possible and let the mushrooms and shallot sweat uncovered for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Strain the porcini mushrooms through a sieve lined with a sheet of kitchen paper, and reserve the liquid.  Finely chop the soaked porcini and add them to the rest of the mushrooms along with the strained soaking water and the Duxelles if using.

Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper and give a good stir. Add the sherry or Madeira then bring everything up to a gentle simmer and leave to simmer uncovered, for 40 minutes.

The soup can be made up to 2 days ahead to this point (or frozen) – if it looks too chunky, put it in a blender.

Reheat gently and stir in the cream just before serving.

If you’re using croutons, they can also be made in advance and kept in an airtight container. It’s important to note that adding croutons to the soup before serving will make them soggy so pass them around the table for people to serve themselves.

To make croutons: use 1-2 oz (30-60g) of good quality crusty bread, cut it into small pieces and toss them in 1 tablespoon of olive oil, then spread them out on a baking sheet. Bake at 400F (200C) for about 8 minutes – stir them around and give them another 4-5 minutes or until they’re golden and crispy.  Unless you’re using them immediately, cool them completely before storing or freezing.

Posted in Soups, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Rose & Lemon Shortbread Cookies

I adapted this from a recipe that my sister gave me, which called for the finished cookies to be dunked in melted chocolate but I felt that was a bit like gilding the lily.

With or without a coating of chocolate, these rich, buttery cookies are simply delightful, perhaps with a nice cup of tea.

Rose & Lemon Shortbread Cookies


(Makes  approx 15 cookies)


7oz (200g) of butter at room temperature

3.5 oz (100g) of sugar

The finely shredded zest of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons of rose syrup or rose water to taste

1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract

11 oz (300g) of plain all-purpose flour

A pinch of salt

2 heaped tablespoons of dried edible rose petals


Start by beating the butter, sugar, rose syrup (or if you’re using rosewater, add a little at a time and check it for taste), lemon zest and vanilla together until light and fluffy. Carefully fold in the flour and rose petals, mixing together until you have a dough. Scrape the dough onto a flat surface and scoop into a ball then roll it out to about 9 inches (25cm) square or round. Transfer to a baking tray and chill for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 340F (170C)

Line a baking tray with parchment and cut the chilled dough with your favorite cookie cutter or into small rectangles. Prick the cookies with a fork and transfer them to the parchment lined baking tray.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden. Cool completely then dust the cookies with powdered sugar. They’ll keep for a week in an airtight container but I doubt you’ll have them that long, they’re that good.

Posted in Cookies & Edible Gifts, Desserts | 1 Comment

Recipe – Asian Pork & Eggplant Stir-Fry

A quick and tasty supper dish with lots of Asian flavors, this delicious bowl of spiced pork, chili, eggplant, ginger, garlic and rice will be on the table within 30 minutes. Even less if you used that quick-cook rice but I like the chewy nuttiness of the whole grain variety which can take 35-40 minutes, so just use whatever rice you prefer.

You can cook the eggplant ahead – just keep it covered at room temperature if you’re planning to make the dish the same day. You can also marinate the pork overnight if you prefer – keep it covered in the fridge and bring it back to room temp before you’re ready to assemble the meal.

Asian Pork & Eggplant Stir-Fry


(Enough for 4)

7oz (200g) of rice

2 medium-large eggplants (aubergines) trimmed and each cut into about 8 wedges of equal size, skins slashed and lightly seasoned

3 tablespoons of hi-temp cooking oil such as avocado or peanut

3 tablespoons of tamari or soy sauce

Approx 9 oz (250g) of lean ground pork

1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil

1 heaped teaspoon of freshly grated ginger

2 fat cloves of garlic, crushed

1/2 teaspoon of Chinese 5-spice powder

1 teaspoon of corn starch

4-6 green onions (scallions/spring onions) sliced finely on the diagonal

1 red chili, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon of honey

Fresh cilantro (coriander) to serve


Start by combining the pork with the sesame oil, 2 tablespoons of the tamari/soy sauce, ginger, garlic, Chinese 5-spice powder and cornstarch in a bowl. Mix well and set it aside (cover and chill if making ahead).

While the rice is cooking (according to packet instructions), heat the avocado or peanut oil in a large deep sauté pan or wok until it’s shimmering hot then cook the eggplant wedges, turning them once until they’re brown in patches on both sides and floppily soft. Transfer them to a bowl and sprinkle the remaining tablespoon of soy sauce over them – giving it a bit of a stir. You can do this ahead, just cover with cling film and leave them at room temp.

Once the rice has cooked and is ‘resting’ for a few minutes and you’re ready to put everything together, pour half a tablespoon of oil in the pan/wok, turn the heat up and stir fry the pork along with any remaining marinade for about 4 minutes.

When the pork is cooked through, add the sliced green onions, chili, honey and eggplant. Stir fry for another 2-3 minutes then serve the pork mixture on top of rice in warm bowls, topped with a few cilantro leaves.

You could also make this with ground turkey or chicken.





Posted in Indian & Asian Cuisine, Made in Under 30 mins, Meat | 2 Comments

Recipe – Risotto with Saffron & Lemon Zest

What could be more comforting than a bowl of creamy risotto, scented with saffron and lemon?

‘Risotto Milanese’ is one of my favorites and like all risotto, it’s ready in under 30 minutes, making this a wonderful supper dish for those days when you’re feeling a bit lazy or perhaps slightly hung over. Vegetarians can replace the chicken stock with a good vegetable broth – and pass around some extra freshly-grated Parmigiano Reggiano for those that need it…

Risotto with Saffron & Lemon Zest

RISOTTO MILANESE (with Saffron & Lemon Zest)

(4 Servings)


A splash of olive oil

1 oz (30g) of butter

1 large shallot, finely chopped

1 clove of garlic, minced

11 oz (300g) of Arborio (risotto) rice

A generous pinch of saffron, preferably La Mancha

7 fl oz (200ml) of dry white wine

1 pint (500ml) of organic chicken or vegetable broth combined with 1 pint (500ml) of water

Zest and juice of half a smallish lemon

2 oz (50g) of freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano, plus extra to serve


Bring the stock and water to a low simmer. Heat the oil and butter in a wide heavy sauté pan/skillet and gently cook the shallot until it’s translucent, then add the garlic. Cook, stirring for a couple of minutes then add the rice and saffron – give it a good stir to coat the rice and add the white wine. Turn up the heat and boil until all the wine is absorbed, then add two ladles-full of the very hot stock/water to the rice. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed and repeat until you’ve used all the liquid, stirring regularly.

After about 20 minutes the rice should be ‘al dente’ that is, still very slightly firm. You don’t want mushy rice.

Take it off the heat and let it rest for a couple of minutes then stir in the grated cheese, lemon zest and juice and if you’re feeling particularly naughty, some extra butter.

Serve immediately in warm bowls with extra cheese to pass around.


Posted in Made in Under 30 mins, Pasta, Vegetables / Vegetarian | Leave a comment

Recipe – Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites

With ingredients such as mashed avocado, sweet potato, coconut milk and almond butter, you might be forgiven for thinking these might taste weird but in fact they’re intensely chocolaty, dense and moist. A perfect little dessert bite that’s gluten, dairy and sugar-free; although I suppose maple syrup is tree sugar  – but there’s no sugar of the regular kind to be found this recipe.

In any event, they’re really easy to make and you don’t have to be a raving vegan to enjoy them!

Vegan Chocolate Fudge Brownie Bites


(Makes approx 20 small bites)


1/2 cup (120ml measure) of mashed ripe avocado

1/2 cup (120ml) of cooked sweet potato, mashed

1/2 cup (120ml) of almond butter

2 tablespoons of maple syrup

1/4 cup (60ml) of coconut milk

3 tablespoons of organic cacao powder

1/2 cup (120ml) of organic dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup (60ml) of flaked almonds (optional)


Preheat the oven to 325F (160C)

Line the bottom of a 9 x 4 inch (23cm x 10cm) loaf pan with baking parchment and spray the pain with cooking oil.

Put all the ingredients except for the chocolate chips and almonds (if using) into a food processor and pulse until well blended, then fold in the chocolate chips and almonds.

Scrape the mixture into the loaf pan and smooth the top. Bake for 20 minutes – remove  from the oven and cool it in the pan before turning out and cutting into small squares.

These will keep covered in the fridge for a couple of days.




Posted in Desserts, Gluten Free Desserts, Vegan | Leave a comment

Recipe – Moroccan Spiced Salmon

Full of aromatic, vibrant Mediterranean flavors, this recipe transforms a simple salmon fillet into something a bit special without much effort – and couscous takes care of itself once you’ve added the hot water. The whole thing takes no more than 20 minutes to prepare.

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous

Moroccan Spiced Salmon with Couscous


(Enough for Two)


3.5oz (100g) of couscous

Small bunch of mint, chopped

Small bunch of cilantro (coriander leaf) chopped

1 teaspoon of preserved lemon finely chopped (optional)

Sea salt and black pepper

1.5 tablespoons of olive oil

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 teaspoon of smoked paprika

A pinch of cayenne

1 teaspoon of ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

3 medium tomatoes, skinned and roughly chopped

1 tablespoon of honey

A few thin slices of lemon plus the juice of half a lemon

Two 6 oz (170g) fillets of salmon, skin removed


Heat the oil in a large sauté pan with a lid, add the spices and garlic and sauté for a few minutes, then add the chopped tomatoes, honey, lemon juice and about 3 tablespoons of water. Season and simmer until the tomatoes soften (approx 6 minutes).

Meanwhile, pour 4 fl oz (100 ml) of boiling water over the couscous and minced preserved lemon (if using) in a bowl,  then cover it with cling film and set aside.

Add the salmon to the tomato mixture, then cover and simmer for 5-6 minutes or until the salmon is just cooked through. Add a little more water if needed and remove from the heat.

Fluff the couscous with a fork, add the chopped mint and cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil, tossing to combine well. Check the seasoning and pile it into warmed serving bowls.

Top with salmon and the tomato mixture to serve.




Posted in Fish & Seafood | 5 Comments