Tag Archives: feel-good factor

Supper & brunch menu w/c 13th of May


Chargrilled leeks, dill, Parmesan & poached Burford Brown egg on basmati rice


Pan-fried mackerel with new potatoes, radish & cucumber


Asian griddled beef salad with rice noodles &  a squeeze of lime


Griddled chicken & green beans with a black olive dressing and bulghur wheat


Italian baked pollock fillets with tomatoes, potatoes & oregano, served with courgettes


Duck egg omelette with fresh herbs

Strawberry & raspberry crisp


Smoked salmon & scrambled eggs

Kentish cherries


Supper & brunch menu w/c 23rd of May


Butternut squash, tomato & spinach curry, wholegrain basmati rice & toasted almonds


Greek style chicken thigh fillets with a zesty Feta topping, rice & courgettes


Moroccan lamb meatballs, roast vegetable bulghur wheat & minted yoghurt


Beetroot & spelt salad with anchovy, mint and mozzarella


Spiced griddled mackerel with tomatoey white beans + rocket


Soft boiled Burford Brown with Parma ham soldiers & cherry tomatoes

Lady Grey fruit loaf


Scrambled eggs & smoked salmon, watercress

Apple & rhubarb crisp

Peach cobbler

Specially for @CityJohn.

Hope you like the look of this pudding. IMHO it is a real crowd pleasure, dead easy to make and works beautifully with (even not so great) peaches.

What’s not to like?

Peach + blackberry cobbler

Here goes ….

This is what you need:

4 ripe peaches

punnet of blackberries (or blueberries or raspberries)

juice of 1 lemon

1 tbsp caster sugar

1 tbsp plain flour

for the cobbler crust

150g plain flour

pinch of sea salt

2 tsp baking powder

1 tbsp caster sugar + extra for sprinkling

80g butter

pot of sour cream (142ml usually)

This is what you do:

  1. pre-heat oven to 200C/gas 6
  2. put flour, salt, baking powder, sugar + butter in the bowl of a food processor + blitz for a few seconds; the mixture should resemble sand
  3. tip into a bowl
  4. slice the peaches in half, twist out the stone, slice into 8 and drop the fruit into an ovenproof dish
  5. toss with the berries, lemon juice + tbsp of flour and sugar; this won’t look appealing but it’ll be fine once baked
  6. mix the sour cream into the flour mixture; you’ll have a soft dough
  7. using a tablespoon, scoop out bits of dough and blob them on top of the fruit, flattening the blobs slightly as you go
  8. dust the dough rounds with sugar
  9. bake for about 30 minutes, till the crust is golden and you can see the fruit bubbling at the edges of the dish

Hope your dinner party goes well.



PS: if you like this recipe, try is later this year with plums or  apples + blackberries or quinces (stew these first). Sometimes, I sprinkle the dough rounds with flaked almonds or crushed hazelnuts which adds a pleasing crunch.

Date, walnut & sesame bars

These bars are delicious, nutritious as well as really easy to make – child’s play!

I have used half honey and half date syrup which has a lower GI (glycemic index) than sugar and contains some valuable nutrients. You could use only date syrup or only honey – your call.

Dried dates are a good source of potassium, calcium and iron as well as fibre. They contain both insoluble fibre (helping to keep the digestive system healthy and regular) and soluble fibre (helping to control levels of cholesterol and sugar in the blood).

Walnuts are rich in protein and contain several antioxidant nutrients including selenium, zinc, copper and vitamins E.

Oats are also an excellent source of soluble fibre. This can help reduce high blood cholesterol levels. It also slows the absorption of sugar in the body which in turn helps to keep blood sugar levels stable.

These bars are nicest when quite thin, so make sure that you spread the mixture out evenly in a large enough baking tin.

Makes 24 bars

This is what you need

100ml sunflower oil

125g date syrup and 125g clear honey (or 250g date syrup or clear honey)

300g porridge oats

75g sesame seeds (toast for a couple of minutes in a dry frying pan – careful, they burn quickly!)

150g ready-to-eat dates, chopped

100g walnuts, chopped

30x23cm rectangular baking tin, lined with baking parchment so it stands proud of the tin on the 2 long sides.

 This is what you do

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150C, fan 130C or gas 2
  2. Place the syrup, honey and oil in a small saucepan over low heat
  3. Stir until the syrup + honey have dissolved and the ingredients are well combined
  4. Tip the dry ingredients into a large bowl
  5. Pour the warm honey mixture and stir until well combined
  6. Using a plastic spatula, pour and then press the mixture firmly into the baking tin
  7. Bake for 40 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Cool completely, then cut into bars.

 Per serving

169kcals, 10g fat of which1.3g saturated fat, 19g carbohydrates, 8g added sugar, no salt, 1.3g fibre





LookLocal challenge: week 3

Spanking fresh courgettes, flowers still attached

For one reason and another, I have not quite managed to document my “LookLocal” challenge in as detailed a manner as I intended to.

I meant to take a closer look at provenance (does “local” always mean just that, or does it mean “British”, can you ever just assume provenance) of the foods sold at markets/independents and supermarkets.

In terms of the cost of shopping locally, it is difficult to say if shopping this way would cost you more or less than shopping at the supermarket. It all depends on your current shopping (and cooking and eating) habits I guess and how much food you throw away.

Prices at farmers’ markets particularly can seem high; then again, good food normally does cost more than that of a lower specification/lesser quality and cheap does not necessarily mean good value.

Like with everything else in life, it is a lot about priorities, what you care about and how you choose to spend your money.

But, “LookLocal” has been an education!

There is much to take in and consider and I quite understand that many of you feel overwhelmed by the very thought of reducing your reliance on the (let’s face it) convenience of the supermarket.

The commitment needed to shop locally does mean sacrifice (with a small “s”) and that you take on more responsibility.

In fact, confronting and thinking about some of the issues around local food such as provenance, cost, quality and consistency add to the challenge.

The idea is simple enough and provided that you don’t live in a “food desert” the process of shopping locally is not difficult, but on balance is doesn’t make life easier if that’s what you are after.

A lot I have found depends on whether you have easy access to good, independent retailers and whether or not the local (farmers’) market takes place weekly or only monthly.

Products which I have found difficult to buy are yoghurt, staples such as tinned sardines, pasta, grains and flour to name but a few.

Fruit & veg by and large are more interesting at markets: fresher, strictly seasonal and you can find produce that is simply not popular enough to justify a place on the supermarket shelf.

On Sunday I spotted purple kohl rabi at our local farmers’ market, alongside chard, summer squash, red & white currants and tiny courgettes with the flowers still attached.

Shopping at your local (farmers’) market also offers to opportunity to make the most of seasonal gluts: right now, courgettes, tomatoes, squash and cherries to name a few.

If you can, buying into gluts (when produce is at its peak and prices low), then tucking in at once and preparing some of the produce for storage is a very satisfying way to shop and eat. It firmly keeps you connected to the seasons and although it takes a bit of planning + organisation at the time, it buys you free time later on when you can dip into a well stocked cupboard/fridge/freezer for a quick & easy meal.

Seasonal gluts don’t impact on supermarket products and prices to quite the same extent as they do on markets; seasonal factors are simply less important to supermarkets who buy fruit & veg from around the globe all year round.

There is an upside though to shopping locally and below I have tried to summarize why it’s definitely worthwhile to try and “LookLocal” most of the time.

And remember, buying local food does not need to mean a wholesale change in philisophy or approach. More likely, it will be a journey of many small steps, taken one product (for example meat, or fish or fruit & vegetables) at a time.

So here’s the upside of “LookLocal”:

1. it helps raise the importance of good food

2. it connects you with your local community

3. buying local = voting with your money = supporting independent retailers, small producers and British farmers

4. it offers an opportunity to re-connect with food, the seasons and the food chain

5. buying seasonally can (re)inspire your cooking

6. shopping locally feels like giving food (and shopping and cooking) back its integrity

I plan to investigate the issue of “provenance” more and give you some price comparisons next week, along with some recipes + simple ideas on how break the supermarket habit.

Let me know how you are faring in your “LookLocal” challenge: I do value your comments and observations.



Dinner menu w/c 26th of July


Crab cakes with red pepper dressing, Charlotte potatoes and a watercress salad


Sticky lemon & ginger chicken, basmati rice and stringless green beans


Spiced lamb meatballs, coconut rice ‘n beans, pilli-pilli sauce


Courgette, sweetcorn & gram flour fritters with a tangy tomato sauce, wholegrain rice


Baked salmon fillets, spiced lentils with wilted spinach, minted yoghurt

More pictures of The Big Treat

Another glimpse of the event, this time captured by a professional …    

Spot the difference!    

Welcome to The Big Treat!


The Big Treat launch party


Crussh & Courvoisier cocktails


The Hugging Wall in action


Savvy treat


MindApples: what are your five a day?


The MindApples tree in fruit


The green green grass of ... The Big Treat


The Head Gardener & his glamorous assistant


All pictures by    

the fabulously talented Natalie Sternberg from Natalie Sternberg Photography