Category Archives: Food

Minted Pea and Watercress Soup

Minted Pea & Watercress Soup

When I first moved to England, I was mystified by the presence of watercress on the shelves alongside more common salad greens like spinach, “baby leaves” and arugula (“rocket”, that is). It’s available all year round, though it’s at its best April through September.

Still, even when watercress is at its prime, I have a hard time dealing with it raw – it’s flavour is bitter, slightly peppery, which I often find overpowering when served in a salad or as a garnish. So I’ve been exploring watercress’s other uses, treating it more as an herb, and in the process have discovered some great ways to use this pungent green outside of the salad bowl.

The sweet peas and refreshing mint in this recipe balance the peppery watercress, and it’s super delicious garnished with croutons, toasted seeds, or a hard boiled egg (or all of the above!).

This soup requires a blender – I use a Froothie power blender which blitzes even the toughest of pea membranes and watercress stems into a fine puree. If you are working with a stick blender or something less powerful, you can strain out any stray solids after blend it to get a silky smooth and luxurious soup. Enjoy!

Minted Pea and Watercress Soup

Serves 4

  • 1 bunch of watercress, large (washed)
  • 800ml of vegetable stock
  • 30ml of sunflower oil or olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, roughly chopped
  • 400g of shelled peas, fresh or frozen


  1. Coarsely chop the watercress, stalks and all, and place in a small saucepan with the stock. Bring to a simmer for 5 minutes, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse
  2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the onion. Cook on a low heat until softened but not coloured. Add the potato, stir, cover and cook until soft. Add the mint, peas and infused stock and watercress. Season and simmer for 2 minutes
  3. Place the soup in a blender and purée, then return the soup to the saucepan (you can strain the soup through a sieve if you like, to get rid of any tough-to-blend stalky bits, but if you have a powerful blender like a Froothie, it should be able to purée everything into a silky smooth soup)
  4. Serve warm garnished with boiled eggs, toasted seeds, a swirl of sour cream, croutons, or whatever you like – meat eaters might enjoy a sprinkling of crispy bacon

Just a heads up: this post contains affiliate links to the Froothie website – I’m a ambassador for their brand because, well, their blenders rule!  

Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha - Mexican condiment of awesome!

Salsa macha has become a coveted kitchen staple of mine. This magical combination of dried chilies, garlic, nuts and olive oil is highly addictive, and the perfect vehicle for discovering the world of dried chillies out there.

When I first came across the recipe, I almost didn’t make it because it calls for 500ml (two cups) of olive oil. But when all was said and done, I ended up with a “salsa” that has completely blown my mind and changed my world. I’m not exaggerating!

It began with a recent good fortune: a while back I won a “goody bag” of dried chillies from the Cool Chile Company. I rarely enter competitions, and win them even less, so I was pretty psyched to receive a weighty parcel of dried pasilla, ancho, guajillo and chipotle chillies, and a bonus sack of masa harina.

Chiles from Cool Chile Co

Ever since, my mind’s been reeling over what to do with them. One of my objectives is to use this opportunity to get to know the unique flavours of these chillies. I’m very familiar with chipotles and their wonderful smokiness, but the others are a bit of a mystery to me.

I first made the ancho lentil tacos, where I discovered that anchos (dried poblano peppers) are milder than chipotles, though still a touch smokey, and sweeter. I’ve also made tortilla soup, which includes pastilla chilli, which seems similar to ancho to me, except is possibly milder.

Moving on from these recipes I wanted to take advantage of something that was really all about the chillies, so started hunting for salsa and sauce recipes. Rick Bayless’ salsa macha caught my attention because it was suited for any one or a mix of dried chillies, and also included some interesting ingredients like almonds and sesame. I only noticed the oil quantity after I’d mentally decided to make it. But I’m so glad I pushed on.

Salsa Macha

This isn’t a “salsa” like the kind you find in jars at the grocery star. It doesn’t contain tomatoes or lime or cilantro. This is more like chile pesto, a puree of dried chillies with nuts, seeds, garlic and a little salt, vinegar and Mexican oregano. And the flavour is out of this world.

I used six guajilla chillies and four chipotle chillies, plus some of my homemade apple cider vinegar. The resulting “salsa” has an awesomely sweet and smokey aroma with a flavour to match. There’s only a little bit of vinegar in the recipe, but it’s just enough to make the puree seem almost “fresh”, despite all the oil. The nuts and seeds, which have been fried in the oil, add further depth of flavour and balance out the chillies.

Guajillo and Chipotle Salsa Macha

So it’s good, but game-changing? Well yes, for someone who was until recently a vegetarian and unaccustomed to eating foods that are so deep, rich and satisfying. Although I didn’t eat meat at the time, I can now understand why some meat-eaters would find it difficult to go vegetarian because it’s very difficult to duplicate meat’s, well, meatiness in vegetarian food (meat-eaters, maybe you can explain this phenomenon?).

Guajillo and Chipotle Salsa Macha

Still, eating this salsa made me feel very much like one feels after eating a good steak. I used the salsa macha in something very simple: a bowl of sautéed onions, potatoes and greens (a bit of egg would have been good here, too). I included some of the salsa in the saute pan, and then added a little more at the end. The flavours were so intense and wonderful that I finished the meal with a weird satisfaction that I’m not really used to.  It had nothing to do with spiciness – in fact, the guajillo and chipotle combo resulted in a pretty mild heat – but pure flavour.

Potatoes and greens con salsa macha. Inspired by @coolchileco @rick_bayless. (A little macha goes a long way.)

I think the phrase “awesome sauce” is appropriate here. I see myself using this all over the place – potato, eggs and tofu come to mind. I can also see adding it to other salsa and sauce recipes to add deeper flavour. Rick has a recipe for Slow-Cooked Fennel where salsa macha is used almost as a baste. He also does lamb chops with salsa macha for any meat eaters who are keen to give this a try. And you should, because it really is a life changer. And I can’t stop opening the jar just to have a whiff.

Salsa Macha

Salsa Macha


  • 60g dried chillies (I used about 6 guajillos and 4 chipotles)
  • 40g (1/3 cup) almonds (or other nut)
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled and halved
  • 500ml (2 cups) olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • A generous 1/2 teaspoon dried Mexican oregano


  1. Stem the chiles, then break or cut them open and remove most of the seeds; break the chillies up roughly into thumb-sized pieces.
  2. In a large saucepan, combine the almonds, sesame seeds, garlic and oil. Set over medium-high heat and cook until garlic and sesame seeds are golden, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and stir in the chiles. Let cool 5 minutes.
  3. In a small bowl, mix the vinegar with the salt until the salt dissolves, then add it to the pan along with the oregano. When the mixture has cooled to room temperature, pour it into a blender and pulse until everything is chopped into small pieces (I use a Froothie Optimum 9400 power blender for this). You don’t want a super smooth puree – leave some texture in there.
  4. Pour into a jar and store in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use.

Indian Masterclass with Alfred Prasad

Alfred Prasad Indian Masterclass

Last Friday I had the pleasure of attending an Indian cookery masterclass with chef Alfred Prasad at Cookery School at Little Portland Street, part of Great British Chef‘s #gbccookschool line-up. Alfred received a Michelin star at just 29 years old for his work at Tamarind restaurant in London (he’s now pursuing his own restaurant empire). Naturally it was a thrill to have the opportunity to learn more about one of my favourite cuisines from this talented chef.

Alfred Prasad

Better still was that the evening was entirely vegetarian – Alfred grew up in Chennai in southern Indian. In his father’s family, vegetarian cooking was paramount and so his appreciation of vegetables started at an early age while spending hours in the family’s vegetable garden, tending ingredients destined for the dinner table.

Alfred Prasad Masterclass

For just a three hour class, the menu was lavish:

  • Kanchipuram Idli
  • Gunpowder Idli (a revelation!)
  • Pav Bhaji (vegetable curry served on toasted brioche buns)
  • Masala Dosa
  • Chaat
  • Malei Kulfi (pistachio ice cream)

The big highlight was definitely learning to make idlii and dosas, two Indian art forms that I have long admired but have always seemed too complicated to make on my own. Alfred made it definitely seem doable. We all had a go at making our own doses and most of us (myself excluded!) got it on the first try (I did manage it on the second try, however).

Making Dosas with Alfred Prasad It’s also worth mentioning that Alfred is the nicest guy! Friendly, approachable and an excellent teacher with fascinating stories to tell. It was a real pleasure learning from him.

Alfred Prasad Masterclass

Alfred Prasad Masterclass

Alfred Prasad Masterclass

Alfred Prasad Masterclass

Thank you to Great British Chefs and to Cookery School at Little Portland Street for the excellent evening. And thanks especially to Alfred Prasad for his top notch tutelage. I’m now off to order an idli maker and buy some urad dal: my breakfasts will never be the same!

You can get all the recipes and learn more about Alfred Prasad by downloading this Alfred Prasad e-Book from Great British Chefs.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

Mango Chilli Sorbet

I recently had the pleasure of going to the latest supper club at The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. The theme: Indian Thali, hosted and prepared by the VCS’s awesome chef divas, Rachel Demuth, Jo Ingleby and Helen Lawrence.

It’s been ages since I’ve been out for Indian, and this was some of the tastiest, freshest and most interesting Indian food I’ve had in a long time: masala dosa, sambar, chutney, homemade paneer, peshwari naan and some new discoveries such as masala vada and khadi. (Rachel Demuth’s blog has a full recap of the evening with some amazing recipes).

One of the meal’s highlights came at the very end, and made me feel super glad I saved room to enjoy dessert: mango chilli sorbet. Tart, refreshing and with just a touch of heat from the chilli, this type of dessert is my favourite way to end a meal.

Beautiful Dessert


I’ve tried making mango sorbet at home but have never managed to make it taste like the mango sorbets and ice creams you get in Indian restaurants. So I picked Helen’s brain after the supper club, and she told me her secret: Kesar mangos! This yellowish variety of mango is popular in India and is what gives the mango-sorbet-of-my-dreams its characteristic flavour.

Fresh Kesar mangos are not easy to find in the UK, but tinned Kesar mangos are. And so, Helen’s parting gift to me was a big ol’ tin of pureed Kesar Mangos, offered on the condition that I make mango sorbet at home and write about it. So here I am.

Kesar Mango Pulp

The tinned Kesar mangos did not disappoint. They’re already sweetened (ingredients: mango, sugar, citric acid – nothing scary), so all I needed to do was blitz it in the Vitamix with some lime juice and ginger juice, mix in a finely diced red chilli, then churn in the ice cream maker. Pretty awesome.

The result was everything I hoped for. Arguably, I could have chopped my chillies a tad finer as they were detectable as “bits” in the sorbet, but this effect sort of grew on me – I liked the texture, and the sensation, like little pockets of heat encased in frozen mango awesomeness.

Mango Chilli Sorbet

5.0 from 2 reviews

Mango Chilli Sorbet
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 8

A refreshing sorbet, recipe courtesy of Helen Lawrence from The Vegetarian Cookery School in Bath. Kesar mangoes are the best in this, but if you can’t find fresh ones, use tinned (omit the honey and sugar if the tinned mangoes are sweetened). To make ginger juice, grate fresh ginger and then use your hands to squeeze squeeze out the juice.
  • 85g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 ripe mangoes, peeled & stoned (or 1 850g tin of sweetened Kesar Mangos)
  • 3 tablespoons ginger juice
  • 1 red chilli, deseeded & chopped
  • 100ml limejuice
  • 50ml honey

  1. Place the mangoes, ginger juice, chilli, lime juice and honey into a blender (I use a Froothie Optimum 9200) and puree until absolutely smooth. Add the sugar and buzz again until mixed.
  2. Transfer the puree into an ice cream maker and churn according to the manufacturers instructions. Freeze.
  3. When ready to eat, take the sorbet out of the freezer about ten minutes or so before you’re ready to eat it – this will make it much easier to scoop!

Nutrition Information
Serving size: 85g Calories: 111 Fat: 0.3 Carbohydrates: 29.1 Sugar: 25.5 Fiber: 1.3 Protein: 0.5 Cholesterol: 0


I am submitting this recipe to the dairy-free Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge hosted by Kavey Eats.

23 Awesome Toppings for Yogurt

Avocado, Greek Yogurt, Olive Oil, Berbere

My friend Mehrunissa, author of the beautiful blog come·con·ella, came for a visit last weekend and brought with her, amongst other things, some amazing yoghurt mojo that really opened my eyes to the versatility of this wonderful food. We’ve all heard of yogurt topped with granola or fruit compote, but Mehrunissa opened my eyes to the plethora of other foods – sweet and savoury – that make delicious yogurt toppings.

Mehrunissa's Life Changing Yogurt
Highlights from Mehrunissa’s Instagram feed

What was the life changing yogurt topping that started it all? It was none other than my favorite: avocado, drizzled with just a touch of olive oil and a sprinkle of berbere (an Ethiopian chilli and spice blend). We ate it with rosemary farinata, Indian-style with our hands (another lesson from Mehrunissa), and hot tea: the perfect Sunday brunch.

Finger Food

During the lunch we brainstormed other terrific toppings for yogurt. Here’s what we came up with.

  1. Marmalade (we spent a large part of the weekend making Seville and quince “Sunshine Marmalade”, so this was naturally at the top of our minds)
  2. Avocado, olive oil, and berbere (or zataar, or dukkah, or chipotle, or aleppo…)
  3. Avocado, toasted chickpeas and sriracha
  4. Avocado, sriracha and chives
  5. Blood oranges (or plums or really any fruit) with pistachios, orange blossom water, rose petals, honey
  6. Oranges and cinnamon (one of my faves)
  7. Granola or muesli (it had to be said)
  8. Avocado, blueberries, honey, chopped nuts
  9. Roasted vegetables, especially beetroot
  10. Roasted strawberries (or any kind of roasted fruit)
  11. Tahini, date syrup and toasted sesame seeds
  12. Straight up olive oil and chopped herbs
  13. Deconstructed tazatzi: diced cucumber, lemon, mint and a bit of salt
  14. Mango, avocado, cilantro, lime juice
  15. Tomato and basil
  16. Harissa
  17. Chopped preserved lemon
  18. Homemade jam and chopped nuts
  19. Figs, honey, pistachio
  20. Almond butter, honey, cacao nibs (or spiced pumpkin pecan butter if you’re feeling sassy)
  21. Apple butter and toasted nuts (especially pecans)
  22. Pears, honey, almonds and salt 
  23. Savory granola

This list could probably go on forever with different permutations of various ingredients. What are your favorite toppings for yogurt?

For more inspiration, both yogurty and otherwise, follow Mehrunissa on Instagram and Twitter, and check out her blog, come·con·ella.

Juice Feast Winter Edition

Juice Feast Winter Edition

Today is the first day of my latest 7-Day Juice Feast, a 7-day juice-only regime following the program designed by Jason Vale . This is my fourth time doing the feast, and if you’re wondering what this is all about and why I do this, then read my previous posts: 7 Reasons Why Juice Feast and Juice Feast in Review.

Although it may seem strange timing to do a juice feast at the start of December (a week of drinking cold juices? brrr), for me the timing couldn’t be better. I initially set aside this week for juicing because for a while now I feel like I’ve been slipping. On my own I’m a superstar when it comes to food. I am also fairly active which means I can get away with eating a little extra from time to time when social celebration or a simple craving calls for it. However, these “times” have become more and more frequent and I’ve lost my focus a little. So I want to get that back and feel comfortable in myself (and in my clothes) again. On top of that, I’ve had a very difficult last couple of weeks following the passing of my dear dog Rocky, which has involved much comfort eating, far too much Prosecco and two Thanksgiving dinners in the process. It’s really time for a reset.

Also, this being the season of Thanksgiving, the Juice Feast offers a timely opportunity to give thanks for the abundance of fruit and vegetables we have available to us. I harken back to my words during my previous Juice Feast Harvest Edition:

I’m trying to make this juice feast not only about ME, but also about a celebration of all that’s available this time of year, and how lucky I am to live in a place where I have access to such beautiful fruits and vegetables, some of which grow right outside my door. The harvest aspect also plays to the “positive thinking” angle of Juice Feast. This isn’t something to “get through”, it’s a treat to my body and my brain.

Positive thinking: so important during these dark days! But unlike the Harvest Edition, when I was very motivated by my lack of goal progress, during this Winter Edition I want to reassess what my goals actually are. I guess I’m ramping up for Yule, a time to contemplate hopes and aspirations for the coming year and figure out how our natural talents can be used for good.

Plus, I can’t think of a better way to brighten up these dark days of winter than by surrounding myself with fresh vibrant fruit and veg, and loads of cheerful tasty juices!

A few of my Juice Feast goals:

  • Finish my Rocky tribute book, “Rocky: A Dog’s Life”, in aid of Hope Rescue
  • Figure out my goals (and rewards!) for Imbolc and the new year
  • Enjoy lots of quiet contemplation and thinking time
  • Get a lot of work done (boring)
  • Write a few blog posts, including my juicing essentials, and a review of the Optimum 600 Slow Juicer which I’ll be using throughout the week.

Several folks are joining me in the Juice Feast, both virtually and in person, some for a few meals, and some for a few days. I appreciate all of the camaraderie. If you fancy joining in on the juicing fun, then do share with me what you’re up to, either here in the comments, on Twitter, or on Facebook.


Summer Meets Autumn Meets College Reunion Harvest Celebration

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

When you live outside of your native country, it becomes a very rare treat to spend time with someone you have a long history with. For that reason and more, it was wonderful having my dear friend Suketu over for the weekend. I know Suketu from undergrad at University of Illinois – we met in math class and bonded over our mutual appreciation for vectors and Dana Scully. Suketu was in Helsinki for a conference and decided to come over to England since he was in “the area”. He only had a few days to spare so I’m incredibly grateful that he chose to spend two of those days here at Orchard Cottage.


An occasion such as this required a celebration. Suketu was very keen on the nature aspect of where I live, and he really lucked out because the weather this weekend was phenomenal: sunny, and warm. Perfect BBQ weather, warm in the sun but with a slight breeze signalling that autumn was on its way. So we decided to pay tribute to his visit and to the changing seasons with an ultimate Summer Meets Autumn Harvest Celebration, sourcing as much of our meal as possible from stuff grown on the farm.


To that end, we went out for a harvest blitz, gathering blackberries from the hedgerows, picking borage flowers, gathering what remained of the summer tomatoes and swiss chard. I also had homegrown strawberries in the freezer from early summer we could play with.


Other accoutrements came from the next-best-thing-to-homegrown: The Organic Farm Shop in Cirencester, where we found big bunches of basil, beautiful lettuces, ginormous cucumbers and their irresistible cherry tomatoes. Even the flour came from Shipton Mill just down the road. So not only did I have this still-cool-as-hell-after-all-these-years lifelong friend in town, but we also had these phenomenal ingredients to work with. Celebration indeed! So what to do?

Chard Harvest. Charvest.

We took some inspiration for our menu from the summertime collection at Great British Chefs. Suketu LOVES pizza, and since the weather was right for a BBQ, we decided to go with their Barbecued Garden Vegetable Pizza using my own garden vegetables as the toppings. I will definitely be coming back to this pizza base recipe again – it was easy to roll out, had a beautiful flavour and cooked perfectly on the bbq. Keeping the pizza bases small (less than 12cm) was definitely a help here. We topped the pizza with basil pesto, fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Simple but totally perfect.

Pizza with Pesto & Homegrown Tomatoes

Suketu liked it so much that he wanted to tip the whole board of pizza straight into his mouth.

"Pour all the pizza straight into my mouth"

To go with our pizza, I made Suketu’s other favourite food: pasta, but not like he’s used to. I did the whole courgette noodle thing, tossed with a simple tomato sauce made with garlic and black olives (another one of Suketu’s favourite foods).

Courgette Pasta

To drink: a Pimms-inspired infused “Vitamin Water” with fresh mint, cucumber, blackberries and borage flowers. I’m definitely going to be doing this water infusion thing more often.

DIY Vitamin Water

Dessert was kind of amazing. I think every special occasion requires that something be gelatinized, so we went for this Elderflower Jelly with Summer Berries and Strawberry Sorbet, which gave me a chance to add my homemade elderflower cordial to the mix of homegrown goodness. Yowza, this dessert was amazing! The strawberry sorbet in particular was extra special, sublimely scoopable which is more than I can say for the other sorbet ice blocks I’ve made. I credit the inclusion of liquid glucose in the recipe, a total revelation. The jelly itself was also pretty darn special – I loved the look of the blackberries suspended in the clear jelly. And check out our borage flower garnish. So pretty!

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

We took advantage of this rare moment of August sunshine to have our harvest meal al fresco – it was so warm we could barely eat our sorbet fast enough before it melted. A high quality problem for sure.

Foraged Fruit Jelly with Strawberry Sorbet

Also a high quality problem: great friends who come and stay and help you make a mess of the kitchen. Love you lots, Suketu. Hope you fulfill your promise to come again soon and stay for longer. Happy harvest! Here’s to Autumn!

If you want to try out some of the dishes we made and have your own Celebrate All of The Things Menu, you can find the recipes on Great British Chefs’ website:

Juice Feast: Harvest Edition

First of the Orchard Cottage Apples

Last Saturday I embarked on my third “Juice Feast”, a 7-day juice-only regime following the program designed by Jason Vale (you can read more about this in my previous post, Juice Feast in Review).

Having done this twice before, I just wanted to share a few observances so far from round three.

Why Juice? Why Now?

Why does anyone go on a “juice fast” (hefty note: this is not a fast!)? To look better and to feel better. Like many others who have juiced before me (!) I too have become increasingly bored with feeling “gunky”, and also increasingly frustrated with my own inability to achieve a few personal goals. I needed a “bump start”, but [definitely] not of the alcoholic kind, rather of the positive, life affirming kind. After my first juice feast last year, I felt better than I’d felt in a LONG time. So I’m at it again, chasing that high.

Passed the halfway point of my #JuiceFeast. Celebrating with one of my favourite blends: apple, pineapple, spinach, wheatgrass, lime, celery, cucumber & avocado.

But there’s an added spin on it this time around. It’s August, and we’ve just celebrated Lammas, the first harvest festival. The apple orchard is in full swing. My Riverford veg box is frequently laden with my favourite fruit and vegetables. And the nearby Organic Farm Shop is alive with their beautiful homegrown cucumber, carrots, spinach and more. So I’m trying to make this juice feast not only about ME, but also about a celebration of all that’s available this time of year, and how lucky I am to live in a place where I have access to such beautiful fruits and vegetables, some of which grow right outside my door.

The harvest aspect also plays to the “positive thinking” angle of Juice Feast. This isn’t something to “get through”, it’s a treat to my body and my brain. I say this, but in truth, this notion of being good to myself doesn’t come naturally to me at all. I am the worst when it comes to self doubt and self deprecation, and I can’t help but wonder if that’s part of why I’ve felt so frustrated with my goal progress as of late. It has nothing to do with food or exercise, it’s all about the mind, man!

So when work hasn’t interfered, Juice Feast has been all about mindfulness. Visualisation. And doing meditative harvesty things like picking blackberries and de-stalking elderberries (which I’ll be preserving as wild fruit wine, which I know sounds totally contrary to Juice Feast, but it makes sense to me!).

Picking green elderberries while I walk. Yes, I have a plan! #picklecult

I’ve also been using this as an opportunity to push my limits with the juice. On Day 2 I did an 11+ mile hike up Black Mountain in Wales (thank you, Jane and Jimmy) and felt totally fine the whole way. I did have an extra juice that evening, followed by an epic 9 hour sleep. Day 3, the legs were a little stiff but I managed to get out for some foraging and dog walks. Today I had my first CrossFit session of the Juice Feast; it all went as usual – I struggled with rowing and had fun on the rings, nothing abnormal there. I’ll be curious to see how I go the rest of the week. I did manage a “PR” (Personal Record) on the overhead squad (which didn’t take much – see, there I go with the self deprecation again!) and would love to PR on something else before the week is through.

Jane and I on Black Mountain

Finally, I’m also using this as an opportunity to test out my new Froothie Optimum 400 Slow Juicer and Optimum 9400 Blender. I’ve already posted a review of the blender. Watch this space for a review of the juicer, which is competing for counter space next to my trusty Phillips juicer, the thing that got me into juicing in the first place. Who will win in their battle royale?

Using the #juicefeast as an opportunity to try out the #froothie Slow Juicer. Juice it does. Slowly (and that's a good thing - maximum extraction action!).

Closing thought: this Juice Feast has been pretty easy – third time’s the charm? I’m loving the clear headed feeling I get when I do this – productivity at last! And since I’m not cooking, I have loads of free time to do fun Lammas-y things like forage, make plum wine, work on some make-more-money projects, write and walk up big hills!

Black Mountain walk, Brecon Beacons, Wales

Not Quite Summer BBQ

It takes three people to make mayonnaise. One to whisk, one to pour, one to dance.

“I’m very happy to have entire day revolve around BBQ.” A great statement from my friend AJ, who joined me with Keith and Donovan last Saturday for a day of foodie adventure in the Cotswolds. Our mission: to stock up on supplies for an all-American(ish) BBQ while also taken in some of the Cotswolds foodie scene. The outing took us to Talking Wines, where we literally did talk wines with the very friendly folk who helped us navigate our way through the complex flavours of two particularly excellent Australian wines. The exercise also made it easy to decide what to bring home with us.

Aussie Wines

After wine tasting, we refuelled on healthy vegan salad snacks at The Organic Farm Shop cafe prior to perusing their shop. The guys walked away with a most interesting basket of food: grass-fed, farm-raised, zero-food-miles meeeat to put on the BBQ; raw cacao nibs; and a bottle of Organic Stroud Budding (my favourite beer at the moment). My basket was much greener.


I was feeling anxious to get the BBQ underway but am glad we bothered to make a stop at New Wave Fish Shop for a big slab of salmon. After one final stop to Waitrose for the extraneous supplies (and cheese), we were finally on our way home where the BBQ commenced.

The BBQ itself was a seriously remarkable success. Same wavelengths were achieved. Planets were aligned. Meat was grilled. Bread was baked. It was a mutual ebb and flow of cooking, music playing, drinking, eating and playing.

Our vague menu plan: BBQ sauce, sweet potato fries, meat, fish, grilled veg, cornbread, mayo, grilled pineapple, cheese board. (Hurray for people who’d rather have cheese over sweet desserts!)

So I thought I’d report on our laundry list of successes for the evening, in no particular order…

If for some reason you’re all out of corn meal, but you happen to have masa harina, then YES you can make cornbread with masa harina, and it’s actually pretty awesome.

Weekend learning point: for lack of cornmeal, masa harina makes stellar cornbread! (Props to @keithhologram for this one.)

This Smoky Barbecue Sauce recipe from Simply Recipes was stellar (after we added a bit of soy sauce and garlic).

The secret to crispy salmon skin is to leave it on the BBQ and BE PATIENT – don’t touch it until it’s almost cooked, then take it off the heat and finish it in the oven.

Salmon - crispy skin success!

BBQ’d mushrooms are the bomb. Especially with the aforementioned Smoky Barbecue Sauce.

Glorious mushrooms

Homemade mayonnaise is the best.

Making mayo

Sriracha sauce is good on everything, particularly sweet potatoes when combined with homemade mayonnaise.

Sriracha   mayo   sweet potato fries = awesome

Crispy sweet potato fries are hard to achieve. (Any suggestions?)

Star Trek: The Voyage Home, is a great film to unwind to after a long night of cooking and feasting.

Leftovers make a great breakfast spread. Just add eggs!

Breakfast pimped out with BBQ leftovers.

Or just add toast, more mayo and Sriracha – that’s how Donovan rolls. Behold his sweet potato fry tartine:

Hugely impressed with @dollaveet's mayo, Sriracha, mushroom, sweet potato "tartine".

Thank you, Team Mayo! Looking forward to our next BBQ adventure – tandoori style!

Team Mayo

Asian Inspiration

Caramelised Coconut Mackerel from Uyen Luu's book

I’ve just had a super terrific reunion weekend with three of my great friends, Kavey, Pete and Marie. We’ve been anticipating this meet-up for months (FYI: Pinterest is awesome for brainstorming foodie get togethers) and, as usual, hatched some ambitious plans for our menu. I can always count on Kavey to come armed with fun new cookbooks to try, and this weekend it was Uyen Luu’s My Vietnamese Kitchen, which became the focus of our cooking adventures and also inspired us to go with an Asian theme throughout the weekend. As a result, I’m feeling that dopamine high of having learned so many new things! Steamed fish, Shaoxing wine, fried rice, Vietnamese omelettes, Chinese salad dressings, tempura vegetables, new ways with tofu, not to mention some delicious drinks to go with them, and a few solid GAMES to keep us busy between courses (I. Love. Carcassonne.).


I thought I’d share a few of the recipes that I particularly enjoyed.

We loved Uyen Luu’s Omelette Bánh Mi with quick pickled carrots; the perfect thing for Saturday Lunch. We also loved her Caramelised Coconut Sardines (which we adapted with mackerel, pictured above).

Saturday Lunch: Bahn Mi and Beer

Warm tofu with spicy garlic sauce, perhaps one of the easiest and most delicious preparations for tofu that I’ve ever come across.

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce

Miso Sesame Dressing, a sauce so nice we made it twice! First to go with panko fried vegetables on Friday night, and we liked it so much that we did it again on Saturday for veggie tempura.

Crispy Salad with Grated Carrots and a Ponzu Soy Dressing from Harumi Kurihara’s Everyday Harumi (another stellar book find).

Harumi Kurihara's Crisp Salad with Grated Carrots and Ponzu Soy Dressing

Steamed Sea Bream with Ginger and Spring Onion, adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s sea bass recipe on (we couldn’t get a hold of whole sea bass so used sea bream fillets which worked a charm). This was very simple to make and totally outstanding. Plus, it added a new ingredient to my cooking repertoire: Shaoxing wine!

Steamed sea bream with ginger and spring onion

Spicy Peanut Noodles, another Fuchsia recipe and a perfect side dish for the fish. I’ll definitely be making the peanut sauce again to use on all manners of tasty things (veggie “noodles” come to mind).

Dutch Baby Pancake with Green Tea Ice Cream.

Clafoutis with Whisky-Soaked Dates (adapted from Kate Hill‘s recipe), served with Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Frozen Yogurt.

Made @katedecamont's clafoutis last night, with whiskey-soaked dates. Leftovers going down well for breakfast with @lovelulu's frozen yogurt.


Do check out Uyen Luu’s book, My Vietnamese Kitchen, and while you’re at it, check out my friends’ awesome websites too: Kavey EatsPete Drinks and Lanyon Cottages.

There’s also a few more awesome pictures from our weekend (Banangrams, Pina Coladas, Yahtzee!) on Flickr.