Monday, 18 June 2012


Baked cod with olive and sun dried tomato crust

Do you have days when you want something different? I mean for supper not for life!

Something easy, tasty, and that won’t keep you in the kitchen for hours.That’s how I felt at the weekend.

I needed something healthy and not in my default repertoire!! Something that all the family would eat.

Oh and one more ready from scratch, in 20 minutes. I delved into the Two Greedy Italians cook book again.

This time I tried their Baked Cod with a crust recipe. As always I never seem to have quite the right the ingredients so have altered the consistency of the topping slightly but it was still delicious.

Baked cod with olive and sun dried tomato crust

The verdict was; it really tasty, some wanted more olives, some more tomatoes.

I loved it just as it was...any excuse to eat bread and olives!

It looked amazing and was a welcome change to fish pie or baked fish in lemon and white wine!!

So, for something that’s quick, doesn’t involve hours over a hot sweaty stove or life changing analysis..try this.

Bread and olives


Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 15 minutes
Serves 4


500g cod fillet
 2tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp white wine
40g black olives
40g sundried tomatoes
100g stale bread
Salt and pepper


1.     Preheat the oven to 150 degrees c

2.     Blitz the bread to make bread crumbs. Then chop the olives and sun dried tomatoes add these to the bread crumbs and blitz a bit more.

3.     Put the cod in an oven proof dish, I cut it into chunks so that it cooked well and everyone gets several pieces, rather than fillets of fish. Pour the olive oil and wine over the fish then cook for 5 minutes

4.     Remove from the heat and sprinkle the bread crumb mix over the fish and return to the oven for 10 minutes until breadcrumbs are golden and fish is cooked.

Broccoli,spinach and baked tomatoes

We served it with baked cheery tomatoes, broccoli and spinach.

Wednesday, 13 June 2012


Party food...

“As it’s still raining I’m going to have to relocate my birthday/ end of exams party here Mum!” Teen V dropped in casually.

Not wanting to dampen an already damp event I said OK, and then asked how many she was expecting.

“About 28 ..”

My jaw dropped.

That’s a lot of teens in one confined place.

“We’re just doing drinks, sweets and pizza,  a few crisps and stuff...”

My heart sank.

All those months of trying to be more health conscious, yet all they want is sweets and pizza.

Why do I bother?

However, I must admit, after a quick survey of the table before the invasion, I thought it looked very cute, all bright colours and crunch, shame it was so packed with grot and lacking in goodness.

side option of sweets

The stacks of pizza boxes in the fridge made my heart sink further and sent me reaching for my cookbooks.

Over the years we have tried a selection of pizza dough recipes and the one I think the most delicious and reliable is  from Jamie at Home, by Jamie Oliver.

I suggested that next time they make their own pizza's but that sounded far to primary school for this lot. 

 However as someone pointed out, be thankful for small mercies, at least it’s not illegal substances and bottles of vodka.

Put like that, hey, crisps and sweets are fine and several of the friends had even baked  cakes and cookies, what was I worrying about!

Teen feast!

sweets and more sweets

So for those in search of a decent pizza base recipe I can recommend this one. 
Just don’t eat it with as many sweets, crisps and chocolates as these guys did!

sweets with your pizza?


Preparation time for the dough 1 ½ hours
Cooking time 10-15 minutes

Serves 8 plus


1kg strong white bread flour
650  ml lukewarm water
4 tbsp olive oil
2 -7g packets of dried yeast or 3tsp
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tsp sea salt


2 Tins of tomatoes
4 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp olive oil


2-4 Packs of mozzarella chopped then anything else you like...other cheeses, peppers, ham...what ever you like!! 


1.     If you have a bread maker put the water in first and then add the dry ingredients and switch to dough setting.

2.     To make by hand, put the flour and rest of the dry ingredients in a large bowl and stir.

3.     Add the olive oil to the flour and mix in gradually adding all the water to the bowl until combined.

4.     Knead the dough on a floured surface and then return the bowl and leave somewhere to rise until double in size.

5.     Whilst the dough rises prepare the tomato sauce. Open the tins of tomatoes...empty into a blender then chop the garlic finely throw in and add the olive oil. Blitz these up until smooth. If you don’t have a blender I guess you could just use passata and mix the ingredients together well.    

6.     Once risen knead on a floured surface and then divide into as many balls as you want could make 4 huge ones or 8 medium sized ones...

7.     Jamie recommends you roll out the pizza’s at least 20 minutes before you want to cook them.  Using a rolling pin roll out and shape the dough balls into the shapes you want..squares look fun, ours normally end up versions of circles.

8.       Once you have rolled them place them on floured baking trays or circle pizza trays.

9.     Place them in a preheated oven at 190 degrees c for 5 minutes to start cooking.

10.     During this time assemble all your toppings

11.   Spread the tomato sauce over the pizzas and add chopped mozzarella... you really don’t need me to tell you how to bung things on a pizza...

12.    Then bake for 10 minutes and enjoy.  

The brilliant thing about making your own is you can custom make to suit all dietary requirements and tastes.

Pizza dough

 I try and make sure we have a selection of rocket, ham or spec, blue cheese as well as peppers, spinach, pineapple, red onions, olives .. the list goes on!!!

Saturday, 9 June 2012


Courgette, Mint and Rocket Salad

“You made the bread?” An incredulous young friend asked the other day as I served pasta with a homemade aubergine and tomato sauce, salad with a hunk of homemade bread.

“Yes of course” I said and went on to apologise that he’d probably had the same sauce the last time he visited.

Later, after he’d left, my daughter explained that lots of her friends couldn’t believe that I cooked so much from scratch. “Most of their families buy ready-made lasagnes and pasta sauces Mum..we’re unusual!”

It got me thinking though.

I don’t feel unusual.

I love food.

 I am conscious of what we put in our bodies and where it comes from. Especially now we have a young vegetarian to cater for as well.

After reading a recent article I realized I’m more of a Rachel Khoo girl than a Nigella. 
When I was growing up we always had simple homemade food, used the left-overs up and I do the same now.

When it comes to recipes I can’t stand the ones that have lists of expensive complicated things that take days to source.

OK so I have moved from my studio apartment in Paris back to England and now have a family but the essence of what I cook and how we eat has remained the same.

 I, like Khoo, prefer simple ingredients and inexpensive but tasty recipes.

Good ingredients and delicious flavours are more important to me.

Rocket from the garden

I love food that fits the seasons.

 For any of your here England you will understand that this is quite tricky at the moment with the gales and torrential rain we have been having this week.

However I took advantage of the break in the clouds today to have lunch in the garden and try the Courgette salad with Fresh Mint and Rocket from the Two Greedy Italians cook book- by Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo.

I modified it a bit as I had run out of balsamic vinegar so used white wine vinegar and changed the quantities from the original to suit us.

The courgette plants in my little vegetable plot have still to flower but the mint and the rocket were both home grown so it felt even more satisfying to eat.

As we sat and ate in the sunshine, amongst the herbs and roses that are looking beautiful it felt wonderful to be outside, to have some warmth on our skin and to have fresh tasty food on our plates that only took minutes to prepare.


So keep this recipe to hand if the weather’s delicious.

Courgette, mint and rocket salad


Preparation time only 3 minutes plus 10 minutes to marinate
Served 4 as a side dish.


1 clove of garlic finely chopped
3 tbsp of white wine vinegar
6 tbsp olive oil
2 small courgettes – sliced very thinly length wise
A handful of rocket
3 handfuls of fresh mint.. I started off with one but felt my handfuls were too small so used 3
Black pepper


1.     Whisk the olive oil and vinegar in a large bowl adding the garlic and chopped mint.

2.     Thinly slice the courgettes length wise. I used the side of the grater to get them wafer thin

3.     Add the courgettes to the dressing coating them well and let them marinate for 10 minutes or more.

4.     When you are ready to serve put the courgette mixture on a plate and sprinkle with the rocket and black pepper.

Coffee and blueberries

All finished off with fresh blueberries and a coffee.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


HRH Prince Charles & Steve Mangan Photo by Graham Piggott

“Do I have to come?” groaned one of the teens on Sunday morning as I packed up the picnic.

“Yes!” I replied firmly

The plan was to go to the Private view of the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy before heading on down to the river to check out the Jubilee Pageant.

With homemade rolls and chocolate hazelnut cookies carefully wrapped and tucked away we braved the drizzle.

Piccadilly was buzzing.

Like many places across Britain, roads were closed for a huge street party. A little bit of rain wasn’t going to dampen the spirits of those involved!

Fortnum and Masons had a tea tent serving silver pots of tea and glasses of champagne as well as picnics to those seated at the trestle tables stretching down the road.

Fortnum and Masons tea tent at the Diamond Jubilee Street party Picadilly, London 

As we casually wandered down the crowded street we became aware of a buzz and lots of security, then suddenly Prince Charles and Camilla were in front of us chatting with the crowds, flanked by camera men and photographers.

Old and New

 He was relaxed and friendly as he chatted to those seated with their picnics before being whisked off to the boat pageant.

As we walked down the Mall, past the Palace and the Houses of Parliament you couldn’t help but be impressed by the effort everyone had made.

Not only with the planning of the weekend, but everyone there.

As we ate our picnic waiting for the boats to pass you couldn’t help but feel impressed by the spectacle and the sense of occasion that had been created.

Crowds on the river bank for the Diamond Jubilee Pageant

I had a quick look at the Fortnum’s impressive picnics and thought our bread rolls didn’t look too bad either!!

So here, after all the excitement is a BREAD ROLL RECIPE fit for a prince and all those who accidently bump into him at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations!

The recipe is quick, easy and produces light tasty wholemeal rolls.


Preparation time about 10 minutes with rising time of about 2 hours
Cooking time 30 minutes


12 fl oz of water
5 ½ oz  strong white bread flour
12 oz  wholemeal seed and grain flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp granulated sugar
1 oz butter
1 ½  tsp dried yeast

A handful of flour to dust the baking sheet


1.     If using a bread maker put in the water then add the dry ingredients and set to dough setting...and go to 3.

2.     If making by hand put all the dry ingredients in a large bowl and then gradually add the water until it combines.

3.     Cut up the butter into slivers and add to the mixture, knead until combined and then leave to rise until it has doubled in size.

4.     Once it has risen enough flour a work top and gently knead again knocking the air out then divide into 6 pieces.

5.     Shape each piece into an oval –or what ever shape you want.. and then place on a well floured baking sheet and leave to rise again for about half an hour. Now pre heat the oven to 200 degrees c.

6.     Once the rolls have risen again place in the pre heated oven and bake for about 30 minutes until golden.

7.     Turn out onto a cooling rack until cool enough to eat.

This mixture makes 6 large rolls or can be used to make 1 medium sized loaf.
The good thing about it is because it uses a mixture of white and wholemeal flour the rolls aren’t heavy like some wholemeal bread can be!

Light wholemeal bread rolls

 Ideal for BBQ’s and picnics.

Fortnum & Mason Diamond Jubilee Street Party