Saturday, 28 May 2016

cannellini bean patties with spring vegetables

cannellini bean patties with spring vegetables
I've been making the most of asparagus season this last couple of weeks. It is my favourite time of  year. The cherry blossoms and the magnolia flowers have wained and the wisteria is in full glory. Right now, it's draping over the trellis in my garden and climbing its way over the roof of the conservatory. This recipe is perfect for an outdoor brunch on a lazy Sunday morning. Add a poached egg and it's complete. It is super easy, fresh, light and satisfying. The patties had started as little bean 'meatballs' but they began to collapse in the pan, so I reshaped them into little mini patties. The mint and lemon in both the patties and the vegetables really sing out. Make a big pan full.

cannellini bean patties with spring vegetables


for the Cannellini bean patties
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
400g Cannellini beans, cooked
2 tbsp mint, finely chopped
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
small clove garlic, minced
rock salt to season
olive oil

for the spring vegetables
1 bunch asparagus, chopped into 1cm pieces
1 - 2 cups peas
1 clove garlic, minced
juice 1/2 lemon
vegetable stock
rock salt to season
olive oil

Mash the Cannellini beans with a potato masher roughly. You want it to be rustic rather than a puree, so it doesn't matter if there are a few whole beans when you are finished. Add the remaining ingredients and mix. With wet hands, take a spoonful of the mixture and form into a ball. Continue until there is no mixture left. 

Heat a pan on a medium heat and add a drizzle of olive oil. Add the patties and cook until they are golden brown on all sides. Place on a baking tray and into a preheated oven at 180 degrees.

In a clean pan, add a drizzle of olive oil and heat on a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 - 4 minutes until the onion is soft. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the asparagus and lemon juice, then the stock. Season and cook until the asparagus is almost al dente. Add the peas and cook for a further minutes. Season to taste. 

Spoon out the spring greens on a plate and top with the patties. Finish with a grating of lemon zest and a sprinkle of chopped mint. Add a final flourish of olive oil.

Sunday, 15 May 2016

broad bean and pea risotto with grilled asparagus, radicchio & toasted walnuts with balsamic, yuzu and honey dressing and wild garlic pesto

broad bean and pea risotto with grilled asparagus, wild garlic pesto and radicchio & toasted walnuts with balsamic, yuzu and honey dressing

The title of this recipe is quite a mouthful. Maybe it's unnecessarily long, but I wanted to capture all the elements that make it up. It was an experiment that turned out better than I expected. Generally I follow Ayurvedic principles when it comes to life and food. A balanced meal from an Ayurvedic perspective incorporates the six tastes: sweet, sour, salty, pungent, bitter and astringent. This is a very Asian approach to food. In India, Thailand and generally in South East Asian countries, dishes are generally more complex, bringing together different flavours that are sometimes missing in our food in the west. Bitter is a notable flavour here. Sometimes I crave that bitter sweet combination and radicchio or chicory with honey always seems to do the trick. A little topping of char grilled radicchio here with a balsamic, yuzu and honey dressing brought the bitter sweet taste I was looking for and the balsamic and yuzu made it sing. The pesto was a celebration of finding wild garlic in the farmers market topped with those exquisite little white flowers. Barley risotto isn't fast food. The barley I use always seens to need at least around 40 - 45 minutes to cook. This is a recipe for when you have an afternoon to spend in the kitchen. When you have time to slow down and enjoy the process and don't need to have dinner on the table in minutes.


for the risotto
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic
300g barley
good glug white wine
1 litre veg stock
100g peas
a handful of broad beans (with tough outer shells removed)
olive oil

Bunch of asparagus - chop the base of the stems about 1 cm thick. Leave a third of the top of the stem to char grill.

for the radicchio

1/2 head of radicchio, thinly sliced
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp yuzu juice
1 tbsp honey

for the wild garlic pesto

a handful of basil
a handful of wild garlic
1 clove garlic
a handful cashew nuts
you can add a couple of table spoons of grated parmesan here if you like
olive oil

Heat a couple of table spoons of olive oil in a pan and add the onion. Cook until the onion starts to become transparent. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Add the barley and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the white wine and allow the alcohol to evaporate. Pour in three quarters of the stock and set to simmer for about 40 - 35 minutes. When the barley is almost cooked, add the peas, chopped asparagus and broad beans and just cook through (about 5 - 7 mnutes). Add the remaining stock if needed.

While the risotto is cooking, coat the radicchio lightly in olive oil and lay on a hot griddle on a medium heat for a couple of minutes on each side. Add the asparagus tops and do the same.

Make the radcchio dressing by combining the balsamic vinegar, yuzu and honey in a bowl. Change up the ratios according to your taste. You might like it sweeter to balance out the bitterness of the radicchio or a little on the sour side.

Toast a handful of walnuts in a dry pan and roughly chop.

In a bowl add the radicchio, walnuts and dressing. Mix lightly together.

Make the pesto by whizzing all of the ingredients in a blender until smooth. You could also use a mortar and pestle and pound the ingredients to a more rustic consistency. Add the oil again according to your taste - you might want a nice thick pesto or a lighter consistency.

When the risotto is ready, spoon into a bowl and top with the radicchio, a couple of stems of grilled asparagus and drizzle with the pesto.

Monday, 2 May 2016

nettle, sorrel and feta filo parcels with toasted walnuts

nettle, sorrel and feta filo parcels with toasted walnuts

A friend who lives in Cumbria once made me a nettle soup, made with foraged nettles from the countryside around her home. It was an amazing soup, vibrant green and it felt clean, green and earthy. I’ve never sought out or come across nettles as an ingredient again until now. Bags of them sitting alongside bunches of sorrel made me think they might work well together – the lemony sorrel against the green earthiness of the nettles. Rich in vitamin C and iron, and strengthening and cleansing from an Ayurvedic perspective, nettles are a good spring food. I was going on a walk, so this recipe is a portable snack. It’s a take on the Greek Spanakopita. A fancied up version. Nettles and sorrel work very well together. A burst of lemon zest makes the sorrel sing out and makes the parcel taste fresh and light against the saltiness of the feta. A good herbed yoghurt makes a good dip.

nettle, sorrel and feta filo parcels with toasted walnuts


1 large bunch of nettles, washed and blanched with coarse stems removed
1 bunch sorrel
Zest of half a lemon
100g feta cheese
1 egg
5 sheets or premade filo pastry
Rock salt and pepper to taste
Pinch nutmeg
¼ red onion, finely diced
Olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees. Chop the blanched nettle and sorrel leaves and place in a bowl along with the remaining ingredients. Mix well. 
Cut the pastry into squares. Take a sheet and drizzle with olive oil, place another sheet on top and do the same again. In the centre of the square, place a spoonful of the mixture and lift the edges of the pastry up and twist to create a little parcel. Brush with oil and place on a baking tray. This recipe will make between 6 – 10 parcels, depending on the size of the squares you cut and how much filling you put in each.
Bake in the oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

roast romanesco cauliflower tartine with stilton mousse and rhubarb and beetroot chutney

roast romanesco cauliflower tartine with stilton mousse and rhubarb and beetroot chutney
Sunday morning trips to the farmers market are something of a ritual. Come rain or come shine, they usually start with a take out latte and a walk across Brockwell Park. The early(ish) morning walk shakes off the cobwebs from Saturday night. As I make the assent up one of the paths from the Herne Hill entrances, to the crest of the hill, a view of central London suddenly starts to appear. Its spread of glass and steel, tall buildings in an array of shapes never fails to create a rush, that sense of place. That vista is a changing one. It seems like new buildings are thrown up at a pace. You have to pay attention. And with that rush, I make my way into Brixton with anticipation at what I will find. Today, it was Romanesco cauliflower. Beautiful vibrant green with a nuttiness that emerges when it is roasted that is almost almond like. This recipe is a bit of a deconstructed cauliflower cheese on toast. The strength of the Stilton comes through, but is tempered by the cream and doesn't overpower. The chutney has just the right blend of sweet and sour and the cauliflower offers a slight crunch as well as a nutty flavour. I used a lovely rye sourdough, sliced quite thinly as it has a weight to it. You could use any bread you prefer.

roast romanesco cauliflower tartine with stilton mousse and rhubarb and beetroot chutney


1/2 head of  Romanesco cauliflower, broken into florettes
100g Stilton
1 tbsp double cream
5 slices of bread
olive oil

for the chutney
3 sticks of rhubard, sliced
1 medium sizied beetroot, sliced into matchsticks
juice of 1/2 an orange
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
1cm piece ginger, minced

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade. Place the cauliflower florettes in an ovenproof dish and drizzle with olive oil. Season and mix well. Cook the cauliflower until it starts to caramelise but still has a bit of bite.

For the Stilton mousse, place the cheese into a bowl and cream until smooth. Whip the cream until it creates soft peaks and fold into the cheese.

For the chutney, place all of the ingredients except for the honey into a saucepan on a low heat and simmer for about thirty minutes. The rhubarb will melt and become sauce like and the beetroot should retain a little texture. Remove from the heat, add the honey and mx well.

Toast the bread and drizzle with a little olive oil. Spoon some of the mousse onto each slice, add a spoonful of chutney and top with the florettes of cauliflower. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil.

Sunday, 17 April 2016

mushroom and black bean burgers with cashew and coriander sauce

mushroom and black bean burgers with cashew and coriander sauce
 It's not often I crave a burger like thing, but I had a carton of ready cooked black beans in a cupboard and it kind of took off from there. The mushrooms bring an umami hit and the mustard provides just a low level of heat while cumin brings an earthiness. I put them together with a drizzle of cashew and coriander sauce. It's light. Adding lemon zest and some chopped coriander give it a freshness that goes well with the solid earthiness of the burger. I served my burgers on a slice of sourdough drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with some lambs lettuce leaves. I guess it's less of a burger and more of an open sandwich. My visit to Helsinki recently and the amazing open sandwiches providing some influence here I think.

mushroom and black bean burgers with cashew and coriander sauce


200g mushrooms
400g black beans
1 large tsp mustard
1/2 red onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp cumin, toasted
1 egg
rock salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil 

Drain the black beans and place in a bowl. Mash roughly with a fork until slightly smooth in texture. You can leave some whole for texture. Finely chop the mushrooms and add to the bowl with the remainder of the ingredients. Season with salt and pepper and mix together so that the egg can bind the mixture together. Using wet hands, take a large spoonsful of mixture and shape into a patty. The recipe should make about 4 medium sized patties.
In a pan heat the oil n a medium heat and fry the patties for about 4 minutes on each side.

mushroom and black bean burgers with cashew and coriander sauce For the cashew sauce, take 100g cashew nuts and a place in a food processor or a blender. Add a splash of water, a table spoon of chopped coriander and the zest and juice of half a lemon. Season to taste. Blitz until it becomes a smooth cream, adding a drop more water if needed.

Serve on a good slice of sourdough bread which has been toasted on a griddle and drizzled with olive oil or the burger bun of your choice. 

Sunday, 10 April 2016

sea buckthorn, fig and hazelnut bites

I spent Easter in Helsinki. I mentioned it briefly in this post. A couple of weeks later, now back at work, it feels like a dim and distant memory. It’s amazing how quickly you just slip back into your life, the routine resumes and you become absorbed again in the here and now. I brought back a couple of foodie souvenirs. One of them was a little tub of sea buckthorn powder. Sea buckthorn a spiny, deciduous shrub native to Asia and Northern Europe and produces bright orange berries almost the size of grapes, on thorny branches.  It is being rediscovered as a super food as it is rich in nutrients, vitamin E, carotenes and antioxidants as well as a high concentration of vitamin C. It’s both tart and astringent is usually combined with sweeter ingredients to counteract the tartness. I’ve been sprinkling it into porridge and muesli at breakfast time, but this recipe came about when I had a craving for something sweet and put this together from what was in the larder. Using figs produces a nice creamy, gooey sweetness and a little hint of honey just ramps it up a notch.


200g brazil nuts
100g hazelnuts
100g coconut, plus 1 tbsp

100g dried figs
1 tsp honey
1tbsp goji berries
1 tbsp Sea buckthorn powder

In a food processor add the nuts and pulse until they resemble fine breadcrumbs. Chop the figs as finely as possible and add to the food processor along with the remainder of the ingredients pulse until the mixture starts to come together. Roll into balls and then roll in the cocount to finish.

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