It all started with the Huevos Rancheros. That’s how I discovered the joy that is deep-fried corn tortillas. But be aware, not all corn tortillas are created equal. I bought some small ones from a popular brand recently and for some reason they don’t crisp up in the oil. Like, at all. No idea why, but if it doesn’t work once, don’t give up, just try different tortillas!
I hadn’t realised that it was so easy to make tostadas! The crispy fried tortillas are just utterly delicious and a great vehicle for various toppings. Last summer I was very much in the mood for the combination of crab meat, avocado and gochujang mayonnaise and they were a delight! I made them when we were in Norfolk and fresh local (delicious!) crab was readily available and we actually had them as a main course instead of a starter, but they would also be a great way to start off any tex-mex feast!
Crab Tostadas with Avocado and Gochujang Mayonnaise, serves 2
2 large corn tortillas
500 ml vegetable oil
100 ml crab meat
1 avocado, peeled and sliced
1 small bunch coriander
2-3 spring onions, thinly sliced at an angle
1/2 lime cut into 3 wedges
100 ml good quality mayonnaise
1-2 tsp gochujang paste
salt and pepper
Heat up the vegetable oil in a large frying pan with tall sides or a saucepan large enough to fit the corn tortillas. Heat the oil to 180C. Fry the tortillas one at the time in the oil until crispy and golden on both sides (turn if needed). It only takes a few minutes. Leave to drain on kitchen towel.
Mix the mayonnaise with the gochujang paste and a little salt in a bowl. Prepare the vegetables. Place your tostadas on plates and start layering. Start the the avocado, then crab, mayonnaise, spring onions and coriander. Sprinkle over a little salt and pepper. Squeeze one of the lime wedges over both plates and serve with more lime.
Even before my boyfriend and I lived together I would spend most weekends at his flat and obviously cook a lot in his kitchen. One day looking through the cupboards for something useful I spotted a chocolate fondue set, complete with chocolate and marshmallows. It had never been used but he knew it had been there a long time so I made sure to use fresh chocolate and marshmallows for our first chocolate fondue. I also added some crispy things like little waffles and wafer rolls to dip, and of course strawberries.
We’ve made it a few times since, and I thought it was the perfect pudding on Valentine’s Day with heart shaped marshmallows (yes, I’m a sucker for things like that)!
It’s actually vey easy to make the chocolate sauce, and as to what to dip – you decide, but I recommend a few different textures and flavours, and definitely something fruity and sharp to cut through all the sweetness. I have listed the dippers we had below and although I love them all I highly recommend the butter crisps.
Chocolate fondue, serves 4
150 g dark chocolate (approx 60% cacao), roughly chopped
50 g milk chocolate, roughly chopped
125 ml single cream
a tiny pinch of sea salt
Jules Destooper butter crisp waffles
Heat up the cream until almost boiling in a non-stick saucepan. Once hot, take it off the hob and add the chocolate. Leave it for a minute or so to melt before stirring well. Add the salt and mix again. Pour into a chocolate fondue pot and serve straight away with a selection of things to dip.
The first time I met my boyfriend’s sister we were invited over for lunch and she and her husband served a lovely roast chicken, a big salad, a large bowl of chips and lots of condiments. It was so effortless but so delicious and that was definitely my inspiration here!
This was actually our supper on Valentine’s Day as it fell on a Monday this year, and I knew I would be tired after a busy work day. But I thought an easy roast chicken, chips and a nice salad was the perfect balance of delicious but low effort in the kitchen. Especially since we had a starter and pudding too, although also of the effortless variety. But I did make a batch of homemade mayonnaise to go with it, because homemade mayonnaise and any storebought variety (even Hellmann’s which I love!) are miles apart. The homemade version is a lot runnier, silkier and doesn’t have that eggy smell to it. I was absolutely inspired by a recent dinner at Bibendum Oyster Bar where I had the Pierre Koffmann fries (they were excellent!!) and homemade mayonnaise and it was definitely the only time I have received a bowl of good mayonnaise to go with my chips in a restaurant. It was so so good and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. Granted, Sainsbury’s oven chips where not even half as nice as the Pierre Koffmann fries, but it was still delicious!
Although I often make skin-on oven fries, I sometimes cook chips or fries straight from the freezer and with the addition of some extra oil and a longer cooking time, they come out super crispy and nice. And it saves me cutting a lot of potatoes. I also don’t have a fryer so I’m not even remotely aiming for the perfect fries until I have one in my possession.
The chicken (a small one, I find them juicier) I spatchcocked before cooking, as it both cuts down on cooking time, but it also makes it easier to carve afterwards and gives you a bit more control while cooking as it’s easier to cook it evenly. Before cooking I smothered it with a homemade (very easy to throw together) herb butter and seasoned it well.
Roast chicken, chips and salad with homemade mayonnaise, serves 2
1 small chicken, spatchcocked and trimmed (I cut off excess skin and fat), rinsed and patted dry
50 g softened butter
lemon zest from half a lemon
2 tsp of chopped herbs such as parsley, thyme and rosemary (dried works too)
salt and pepper
2 servings frozen readymade fries
1-2 tbsp mild olive oil
salt and pepper
1 egg yolk, at room temperature
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar
1/2 tsp dijon mustard
125-175 ml neutral oil (such as sunflower, groundnut, warm-pressed rapeseed oil or vegetable oil)
1/2 lemon, juice only
table salt and pepper
a nice green salad
Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Mix the herbs, lemon zest and salt and pepper with the butter in a small bowl.
Place the chicken on a cutting board and make incisions in the skin at the top of the breasts with a small knife. Run your finger underneath the skin to create a pocket over the breasts. Fill these pockets with some of the herb butter, patting it down so it’s flat and covers the breasts. Make small incisions on each leg and cover with butter. Smother the rest of the butter all over the chicken with your hands. Wash hands and season well. Roast the chicken until golden brown and juices runs clear. The cooking time depends on the size of your chicken and your oven, but somewhere between 30-50 minutes.
Add the fries to a roasting tin. Drizzle with oil and season. Stir well with a spoon or spatula so that the fries are evenly coated with oil. Cook at the same time as the chicken until golden brown and crispy. They will cook faster than the chicken, 15-20 minutes, so either put them in later or take them out when ready and re-heat before serving.
Either make the mayonnaise beforehand and cover it or make it while the chicken is roasting. Add the egg yolk, vinegar and mustard to a mixing bowl. Beat to combine with a whisk. Slowly slowly add the oil drop by drop to start with while whisking. Once the sauce is getting thicker, add the oil in a steady trickle instead, while whisking continuously. Add a little lemon juice to loosen if it feels too thick. Season with table salt and pepper and the lemon until you have a delicious mayonnaise.
Once cooked let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a warm (not hot plate) and a piece of tin foil loosely covering it. (You want the steam to be able to escape so that the chicken skin stays crispy). Don’t wrap the chicken, approach it more like a roof.
Cut the chicken into smaller pieces and serve with the fries, homemade mayonnaise and salad.
I have made so many versions of this starter over the years but this is how I like it best. It’s super easy, just an assembly job really, but oh, so delicious!
We all know burrata is delicious. Especially paired with tomatoes. And basil. But take it one step further and substitute the fresh basil (although I use some for garnish) with fresh (this is important, it has to be fresh pesto, either store-bought – you find it by the fresh pasta and sauces – or homemade) pesto. It has more flavour, more texture and makes it feel more like a proper dish than just tomatoes and burrata together.
Although this is pretty much the only building blocks, I share a few tricks in the below recipe to elevate these flavours as much as possible.
But I also recommend bread of some kind. Either a crusty baguette or a chewy ciabatta or sourdough, or of course, crisp crostini.
Burrata with tomatoes, pesto and olive oil, serves 2
125 g burrata, removed from the fridge an hour before serving
100 g cherry tomatoes, rinsed and halved
2-3 tsp fresh pesto
a good quality extra virgin olive oil
sea salt (I like Maldon) and black pepper
a wedge of lemon
Place the burrata in a shallow bowl or on a platter. Arrange the tomatoes around it. Add salt and pepper. Add the pesto to a little bowl and add a tbsp or so of olive oil to loosen it so you can drizzle it. Stir with a teaspoon and drizzle the pesto oil mixture over the burrata and tomatoes. Squeeze over lemon juice. Decorate with basil leaves. Add a little more salt and pepper. And just before bringing it to the table, drizzle with more of the olive oil. Serve with bread or crostini.
When I was little my granny looked after me until I started nursery at four years old, and I still remember being around her every day. We would grow vegetables in the garden and pick them as needed and make lunch together, all the while granny was happy and singing and playing with me. She made everything fun and lighthearted and was such a joy to be around.
I miss her so. But through memories our dear ones live on.
She made a version of this soup quite often, and often boiling a piece of meat first to have on the side and using the broth for the soup. I don’t remember the taste of the meat very well, but the soup has stuck with me and a while ago I decided to recreate it with the vegetables I had on hand.
I started with softening some leeks, then adding carrots and potatoes, cubed small, and cooked until almost soft in homemade chicken stock. Then I added the kale and peas and adjusted the seasoning and removed the bay leaf. It’s probably the most classic vegetable soup there is, and each family have their own version. It’s similar to French pot au feu and the addition of pesto or pistou when serving would work really well. Or just eat it plain tasting each vegetable as it hits your tongue.
Old-fashioned vegetable soup, serves 2
1 tbsp butter or mild olive oil
1 leek, washed, but in half lengthways and then sliced quite thinly
2 medium carrots, peeled and cubed small
2 medium firm potatoes, such as Maris Piper, peeled and cubed small
750 ml -1 litre chicken stock, to cover
1 bay leaf
100 ml frozen petit pois
2 strands of kale, stalks removed and leafs torn into bite size pieces
salt and pepper
Add the butter or oil to a medium-large saucepan and sweat the leeks without browning, for a few minutes until soft. Add the cubed potatoes and carrots and fry for a minute or so in the oil. Add the stock to cover the vegetables generously. Add a bay leaf, put a lid on and bring to the boil. Lower the temperature to medium-low and put the lid half on. Let it cook for approx 10 minutes or until the carrots and potatoes are cooked but still a bit firm. Add the kale and peas and cook for a minute or so. Add salt and pepper to taste. Remove the bay leaf and serve.
Thisrecipe from Bon Appetit (the only food magazine I have a subscription to) is just brilliant. It’s easy to make and tastes oh, so good! The sushi rice adds so much flavour and I love the glaze for the salmon, it’s what really makes the dish.
As usual I have made some changes though, as I don’t like my salmon cooked through. Just cook it for longer if you do. I also added my sesame broccoli as I think it goes really well with the dish and it needed some vegetables.
Even though it’s easy to make I think this is a perfect supper on the weekend or for a little dinner party. You could make it as weeknight supper too of course, but I prefer something more straight forward then (there is a bit of waiting time involved here).
A little note: I have measuring cups so used them, but I have also converted the amount to ml to make it easier.
1 cup (236 ml) sushi rice
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp white miso
2 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp olive oil
2 boneless salmon fillets (approx 220-240 g each)
150 g tenderstem broccoli, rinsed and trimmed
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
3 spring onions, finely sliced
1 tbsp sesame seeds
Rinse the rice several times in cold water in a sieve until it runs clear. Transfer for a saucepan and add a pinch of salt and 1 1/4 cups (approx 300 ml) cold water. Stir once, cover, and reduce heat to low. Cook until water is evaporated and rice is tender, 18–20 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit, covered, for 10 minutes.
Whisk vinegar, sugar and the salt in a small bowl until sugar dissolves. Stir into rice and let sit (covered so it stays warm) until ready to use.
Mix maple syrup, miso, tamari and rice vinegar in a small bowl. Heat up the oil in a medium non-stick frying pan over medium-high heat. Season salmon with salt and place in the pan skin-side down. Cook until skin is very crisp and deep golden brown, 3 minutes. Turn the salmon and cook for a minute. Reduce the heat to low and add the glaze. Cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to thicken, approx 1 minute. Baste the salmon with glaze and cook, basting occasionally, until glaze evenly coats fish, about 1 more minute.
Place the broccoli in a small frying pan and cover with boiling water. Add salt. Bring to the boil, then drain away the water. Place the pan back on medium heat and drizzle with toasted sesame oil. Add the sesame seeds and cook for a minute.
Divide the sushi rice on two plates. Place the salmon on top and drizzle with the glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and spring onions. Place the lime wedges on the plate and add the sesame broccoli.
I love a baked potato, and usually eat them the same way, either with ham, butter, cheese, soured cream and a side salad or as a side to this lovely marinated steak. The former is firmly in weeknight supper territory but the latter has more of a weekend vibe, and that was what I was after here too; a more elevated way to eat baked potatoes on a Friday or Saturday night with a glass of bubbles or wine.
They turned out really well, and it was fun having two different flavours! I used small potatoes so you do need a lot (especially since they’re also cut in half!) and although a bit fiddly to make, it’s easy and straight forward.
If using even smaller potatoes, I think they would be great as a canapé! You could even have a little baked potato bar where each guest get to add their preferred topping to the twice baked potatoes.
Mini twice-baked potatoes with two toppings, serves 2
8-10 small regular (not new) potatoes, washed
approx 100 ml soured cream (how much depends on the size of the potatoes)
salt and pepper
more soured cream
1 packet crayfish tails, chopped and mixed with lemon juice and chopped dill (and a tiny bit of mayo if you like)
4-5 slices prosciutto, crisped up in the oven, drained and chopped into flakes
Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Dry the potatoes if needed and rub with vegetable oil. Place in an ovenproof dish and bake in the oven until crispy on the outside and soft in the middle, approx 20 minutes but depends on the size of the potatoes.
When cooked, remove from the oven. Cut the potatoes in half lengthways and scoop out the inside of the potato with a teaspoon (holding the potatoes in a tea towel), leaving a 1/2 cm edge on the outside and bottom. Mix the potato with soured cream until a thick paste, season with salt and pepper and spoon the mixture back into the potato skins. Top with grated cheese and put them back in the oven until the cheese has melted, approx 10 minutes.
In the meantime, prepare the toppings. Chop crayfish and mix with lemon juice and chopped dill. Maybe add a dollop of mayonnaise.
Place the prosciutto slices on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake until crispy, approx 8 minutes. Drain with paper towel and chop into flakes or crumbs.
When the potatoes are ready place a teaspoon of soured cream on top of each potato halve an add either crayfish or prosciutto crumbs on top. Serve with a salad.
Do you celebrate Valentine’s day? I always have, but never in a big way. Last year when we were in lockdown I just cooked us a nice supper and made som heart shaped cookies with a yummy cream cheese frosting. Pink of course!
The cookies were quite fiddly to make, but really delicious, and the frosting recipe is now a go-to, courtesy of the brilliant Ina Garten.
Valentine’s Day cookies with cream cheese frosting
Mix wet ingredients with sugar using an electric whisk, then slowly add baking powder and flour. Refrigerate dough for 30 minutes. Roll out the dough until quite thick, approx 3 mm, use a cookie cutter to shape hearts and carefully place them on a parchment paper lined baking tray. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 190C, until still pale and soft. Leave to cool on a wire rack before icing.
Mix together the ingredients for the icing using an electric whisk. Add a few drops of food colouring (I prefer the gel colours) to the frosting, mix well and spread onto the cooled cookies with a small spatula. Add sprinkles if using.
I kept the icing in a bowl covered with cling film for a few days, icing the cookies as we ate them so they wouldn’t soften.
This recipe is the culmination of my struggle to come up with yummy ways to eat aubergine for my boyfriend who doesn’t particular like aubergine. I struggle to understand why as it’s one of my favourite vegetables, but I accepted the challenge and after having tested a few different dishes (layered melanzane parmigiana – edible, but not great according to him; quick aubergine and courgette lasagne – better!; non-layered melanzane – he thought this was a lot better than the layered version and something I can make again (hurrah!); fried aubergine with lumpfish roe and dill for canapés – this was a no go) I somehow came up with this aubergine pizza toast. I obviously liked it and luckily the boyfriend did too!
There are no complaints when I cook aubergine this way, so since its inception I have made it many many times! It’s perfect for lunch or dinner together with a green salad dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar (trust me on this, the balsamic goes SO well with this!) but I have no doubt I will adapt them into canapès some time soon, as they would be perfect pre-supper and are vegetarian!
Aubergine pizza toast, serves 2
I often roast the aubergine the day before, refrigerate and heat up again (either in the oven or in the microwave) just before assembling the toasts.
1 aubergine, peeled and cut into 1, 5 cm cubes
1 tbsp mild olive oil
salt and pepper
4 pieces sourdough or seeded bread
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1-2 tsp dried oregano
4-5 tbsp tomato sauce
1 ball (125 g) buffalo mozzarella, sliced
good olive oil, to drizzle
salt and pepper
8 basil leaves, if you have
green salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Pre-heat the oven to 200C fan. Place the diced aubergine in an ovenproof dish drizzled with olive oil. Drizzle with more oil. Add salt and pepper. Stir until evenly coated and roast in the oven for approx 15 minutes or until soft and a little dark around the edges.
Place the bread on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil and put in the oven to toast until golden brown, approx 5-10 minutes. Rub the garlic, cut side down, over the bread slices. Divide the cooked aubergine between the bread slices. Scatter with oregano. Spoon the tomato sauce on top. Divide the mozzarella and grate the parmesan over the toasts. Put the tray in the oven until the mozzarella is melted and bubbly.
Transfer the toasts to plates (two per plate) and add the finishing touches; , basil, a drizzle of good olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Serve with a green salad, dressed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
When I was little (in the late 1980s, early 1990s) fondues seemed the height of fashion. I remember my parents once taking me to a restaurant to eat meat fondue when I was really little and it was so exciting! We also used to eat fondues at home and still do, as we all love it.
In Sweden it’s quite popular with a broth fondue (you cook the meat in the broth) but in my family we have always preferred oil.
My first ten years in London I didn’t eat a single meat fondue here (although you can in some places) but I of course had it with my parents when I went home to visit. Meat fondues are just not that popular here; it’s the cheese fondue that has found traction here. In fact, if you just say fondue in Sweden you mean the meat version, but if you say it here in the UK people will presume you’re talking about cheese!
But then I met my boyfriend, who had, not just one, but two cast iron fondue pots in his cupboard and grew up eating meat fondues too. With oil. So last year in lockdown we had a few fondue nights. I learned how to make cheese fondue (more on that later) and merged both of our meat fondue traditions into one.
It was so much fun (it’s a great date night or small dinner party activity) and so yummy! This year I might do a fondue for Valentin’e Day or maybe even two (a meat one AND a chocolate one). We’ll see.
Our Meat Fondue, serves 2
Meat: We decided on three types of meat; beef, pork and chicken, and I went for the fillet in all three cases. About 100 g of each type of meat per person, which is quite a lot, but we managed.
Potatoes and vegetables: I definitely prefer warm potatoes, so made potato wedges, but fries or chips would work too. I’m used to having just a salad but thought it would be fun to cook vegetables in the fondue pot as well. We had mushrooms, broccoli and peppers. The broccoli was our favourite!
Fondue pot, fuel and oil: We used one fondue pot for two people, but for four people I would recommend two pots if you have, as it gets crowded otherwise and the meat doesn’t cook as fast. I ordered gel fuel from Amazon which worked so well and felt easier to handle than liquid fuel. It also didn’t smell very much. Most important with oil is that it’s one that can take high temperatures, like vegetable oil, warm pressed rapeseed oil or groundnut oil. I also heat it up properly on the stove first and then transfer it to the fondue pot, so it’s warm to begin with. I recommend three forks (or maybe even four) per person, with two it’s a bit too slow, especially if you cook the vegetables too.