Archive for the ‘Gluten-free’ Category

October 30th, 2013 by Pie

Halloween Party Dips

I wonder sometimes if my body is made up of mostly houmous. I eat it by the bucketload and there is usually more than one variety in my fridge just so I have a choice between smooth or course. I count myself very lucky that I live in Haringey where Turkish food is prolific, although that certainly doesn’t help my addiction. I read recently in the Guardian that more than 40% of Britons have a pot of houmous in the fridge and it is now seen as a grocery staple. So that makes me feel much better that I am not alone in my affliction.

It was whilst I was stuffing my face with houmous last night that I considered whether there may be an alternative. Dinner parties at home, Christmas morning, late night board games are always accompanied by a pot of houmous and it’s not that I’m getting bored of it. Never!!! But perhaps those around me might. So, keeping in mind the bunches of parties coming up, I am challenging myself to have a houmous free existence for the next few months so I have had to come up with some different options. After all, dips are still a necessity, aren’t they?



So, at the end of an afternoon filled with chopping, whizzing, spicing and tasting I actually think I have cracked it. These dips are not only much more attractive than the rather dour chickpea beige but they are also sublimely moreish which is exactly what you want when trying to polish off a bag of kettle chips. Although technically one of the recipes isn’t mine and belongs to the divine Silvena Rowe and don’t worry that one contains tahini, lemon juice and garlic so it’s practically houmous anyway.



The butternut squash dip is made by roasting the lovely orange flesh with lots of spice which makes it deliciously rich. The chorizo is by no means essential, you can quite happily make a veggie version and you won’t be missing out at all. Or you could pair the butternut squash with some lamb chops to make a wonderful accompaniment as part of a main meal.

I will usually devour dips indefinitely with a packet of Clearspring’s sticky rice crackers assisting me in the task which I think you can get in most supermarkets now. They are a slightly healthier alternative to those kettle chips.

Butternut Squash with Chorizo Dip

60ml olive oil
1 x butternut squash, peeled and chopped into 1 inch chunks
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
Grated zest of ¼ orange
1 tbsp Fino or other dry sherry
Plenty of salt and pepper
2 x chorizo sausages, diced small

  1. In a large baking dish mix together all the ingredients, bar the chorizo, and place in an oven preheated to 180°C. Roast for 45mins – 1 hour, giving it a good turn over halfway through until the squash is soft. Remove from the oven.
  2. Pulse the butternut squash in a food processor until smooth.
  3. Place the chorizo in a small saucepan on a medium heat until it starts to crisp up.
  4. Serve the butternut squash dip with the chorizo piled on top.

Silvena Rowe’s Avocado and Sumac Whip

2 ripe avocados
Juice of 1 small lemon
3 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp tahini
¼ tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp sumac
3 garlic cloves, crushed
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

  1. Scrape the avocados from their skins and blend in a food processor with the lemon juice until smooth.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix until thick and smooth.
  3. Serve with the sesame seeds scattered on top.
October 29th, 2013 by Pie

Pickled Purple Cauliflower Salad

I lucked out in an obscene manner at the farmers market at the weekend. It’s as if all the produce had got together and artfully arranged themselves adjacent to each other so I didn’t have to use my imagination at all. The purple cauliflower sang out immediately. Of course it would – it was purple. Purple veg are actually the best, they make everything a lot more fancy. I am absolutely addicted to purple carrots at the moment. But then carrots are complete rock stars in my eyes anyway and can do no wrong, the purple is just an added bonus.


So, the purple cauliflower was in my bag and I immediately knew I wanted to pickle it which would keep the cauliflower as raw as possible so as not to lose any of its vital colour. Then, just as I was wondering how to incorporate it into a salad, what should be sitting next door to Ole Purple Brains, but bulls blood leaves. That’s right, an unassuming salad leaf handily named something gruesome – perfect for my Halloween week. I hadn’t heard of bulls blood leaves before but they are from the beetroot family and these ones had been organically groomed to take on the beetroot’s purple hue which makes them sweeter. So, in the bag they went.

Now what goes the bestest with cauliflower? If you said cheese then you are completely correct. My husband point blank refused to eat cauliflower at all when we first got together but once he had tried homemade cauliflower cheese suddenly it all made sense to him. In fact a lot of things can make sense with just a spoonful of cauliflower cheese, it really makes you think clearer.


Anyhow, the farmers market. So next door… Next Door! the veggie man was the cheese stall. Wildes Cheese are a self proclaimed urban cheese makers who make the most wonderful artisan cheeses from their micro dairy in Tottenham. They recommended The Howard to go with my haul, a softer cheese but with a slight blue note to it which would lend its robust flavours to the sweetly pickled cauliflower and the strong slightly bitter bulls blood leaves. The final ingredient to this wonderful array of ingredients was the walnuts which I wish I could tell you I foraged on the way home along the Parkland Walk but no, I just stopped off at Sainsbury’s.

The thing is with this salad is that you might not be able to get hold of bulls blood leaves but you can easily substitute it with any salad leaves. Radicchio would go very nicely. The same with the cheese, if you live in North London then I would definitely recommend sourcing from Wildes Cheese but if not, then any soft light British blue would go just as well. The pickled cauliflower is just as lovely if you can only get white cauliflower. The purple one just makes it prettier.  The pickled cauliflower can be kept in the fridge for a few weeks and makes brilliant snacking if you are standing in front of the fridge at 10pm on a Tuesday night.



Pickled Purple Cauliflower
Makes about 2 x 500ml jars

2 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 tsp yellow mustard seeds
½ tsp celery seeds
1.5 tbsp salt
400ml cider vinegar
180g caster sugar
1kg cauliflower florets
1 large onion, halved then sliced thinly

  1. In a large saucepan toast all the spices for a minute or so.
  2. Add the salt, vinegar and sugar and boil for around 10 mins.
  3. Add the cauliflower florets and onion and bring back up to the boil, then boil for around 3 mins.
  4. Remove from the heat and bottle into jars.
  5. Leave for a day or so for the flavours to come together.

For the salad
A large handful of salad leaves
A chunk of cheese, crumbledIMG_2229
A handful of walnuts, toasted in the oven then cooled
A couple of spoonfuls of pickled cauliflower
Dressed with the dressing below

Salad dressing
1 tsp red wine vinegar
salt and pepper
2 tsp honey mustard (I used Maille’s honey dijon)
1 tbsp olive oil

Whisk the vinegar, seasoning and mustard together, then drizzle in slowly the olive oil, whisking all the while until it emulsifies into a thick dressing.


October 25th, 2013 by Pie

Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato

There is something about the time around Halloween which brings out the American flavours in me. When ginormous pumpkins are beaming at you from their orange mountains within Tesco’s doorway and witches and goblins leer out of every shop window there is something in the air that makes me want to reach across the pond. I imagine myself in a dinky New England town with kids cycling in circles around the pumpkin patch, fathers raking up leaves as moms bake cookies in between sewing incredibly ornate trick or treat outfits for their five year olds. Multiple viewings of The Woman in White when I was a pre-teen might have had something to do with that vision. Now that’s a scary film.

So when I’m itching to incorporate a little bit of Halloween in my meals in the run up to the big day I can’t help but crave toasty pecans paired with maple syrup, the real amber nectar. Apparently I shouldn’t eat sweet things all day long, even though that would be the dream, so I pile them atop tender chicken and serve with a pipingly hot baked sweet potato. Although I completely draw the line at the American tradition of putting any kind of sugary nonsense with my sweet potato. It’s sweet already, it says it in the name.

This recipe has been heavily adapted from one of my favourite and most used cookbooks, the first Ottolenghi book where the chicken was originally paired with saffron, hazelnuts and honey, just in case you were wondering.



Maple Pecan Chicken with Baked Sweet Potato

2 x sweet potatoes
2 x chicken supremes
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ginger
1 tbsp olive oil
50g pecan nuts
1 tbsp maple syrup

  1. Wrap each sweet potato tightly in foil and place in the centre of an oven pre-heated to 180°C. The potatoes should take between 75-90 mins to bake depending on the size of your potato
  2. Mix together the cinnamon, ginger and olive oil then rub it all over each piece of chicken. Marinate for at least half an hour before adding to the oven to bake alongside the potatoes. The chicken should take between 30-40 mins to cook thoroughly depending on the size of your chicken supremes.
  3. Meanwhile spread the pecan nuts in a shallow baking tray and add to oven to bake for 10 mins. Remove, chop roughly then mix in with the maple syrup.
  4. 10 mins before the chicken is ready, remove from the oven the spoon oven the pecan nuts, pressing tightly against the top of the chicken. Put back in the oven for the remaining 10 mins.
  5. Serve the chicken with the sweet potato, peeled out of it’s foil and a knob of butter.
October 22nd, 2013 by Pie

Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

I might have to rein myself in. It is coming up to my favourite time of year, Christmas lights, parties and food- and the run up to Halloween is what kicks it all off. You can never be too old for Halloween, at least that’s what I tell myself when I’m squabbling with the ten year old child in Sainsburys over the last witch’s broom in their seasonal section. This is the time of year for sharing, I explain to her. Actually it’s more like the time of year for us all to explode out of our boxes, be daring and fun in the way that only dressing up like a bozo will let you. You can finally break out that twerk that’s been building up in your behind, you can show how down with the pre-schoolers you are by rocking the Despicable Me Minion look or reveal your drug lord tendencies by Walter Whiting your night. Anything goes, it’s Halloween.

And that’s why I’m going to go absolutely crazy and… make a chilli. Yeah, that’s right, I’m doing it, I’m living wild and free. You had better watch out, who knows what freaky business I will get up to next. If it helps I’m making the chilli with my tongue sticking out of my mouth and stirring it with a foam finger. Cornbread muffins in the shape of diddy pumpkins and skeletons though, now that’s rock and roll, just in case you were wondering.

cornbread muffins


A vat of hot comforting chilli is just what you need as a standby for pre or post Halloween parties and the cornbread muffins are as quick as a flash to knock up. You are more than welcome to make them in simple 12 hole muffin trays, but let me warn you, they don’t taste the same.

Halloween Chilli with Cornbread Muffins

1 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 celery sticks, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
700g beef mince
3 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp sweet hot paprika
1 tsp coriander seeds, dry fried and bashed
¾ tsp ground cinnamon
3 whole dried chillies
1 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
70g coriander including stalks, finely chopped
1 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 tbsp Worcester sauce
1 bottle passata
300g tin of kidney beans
Salt and Pepper – season gently after every step
Sour Cream to serve

Cornbread Muffins
Makes 12

250g cornmeal
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
500ml buttermilk
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp agave nectar or honey

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan, when hot add the onions. Cook on a gentle heat for 5 minutes before adding the celery. Continue cooking until the onion starts to caramelise. This should take about 20 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, red pepper and garlic and stir for about 5 mins until they slightly soften.
  3. Mix the mince into the pan and after about 4 minutes of stirring add all the spices.
  4. Take the tops off the chillies and shake out the seeds and discard. Place the chillies in warm water for about 5 minutes to soften, then remove and chop finely. Add to the pan.
  5. Add the rest of the ingredients to the pan. Fill the empty passata jar halfway with water, put the lid on and give it a good shake so you get all the tomato juice. Add to the pan. Put the lid on the pan and cook on a gentle simmer for about half an hour.
  6. Add the kidney beans and carry on cooking for about 15 minutes.
  7. Once the kidney beans are added you can make the muffins. Preheat the oven to 180°C and butter a muffin tin.
  8. Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl and the wet ingredients in another. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry and combine thoroughly.
  9. Pour the batter into the muffin tin. Bake for 12-15mins.
  10. Remove the muffins from the oven and while they are cooling for a few mins in their tin you can make the glaze. Melt the butter then stir in the agave nectar or honey until they form a syrup.
  11. Remove the muffins from the tin and then over the top of each one pour over the glaze so that it sinks into the warm muffins.
  12. Serve the chilli in deep bowls with a scattering of chopped coriander leaves, a swirl of sour cream and the warm muffins.


Halloween Chilli and cornbread muffins


October 18th, 2013 by Pie

Jerk chicken with kohlrabi and fennel remoulade

There are a handful of restaurants, pubs and cafes which I go to frequently. You might even say I was a valued regular if you forget for a moment that we live in London where all you would get if you were recognised by the staff would be a knowing smirk. One of my ‘regular’ places until earlier this year was a Caribbean restaurant in Crouch End called Rhythm. It wasn’t the most happening place it’s fair to say. In fact most of Crouch End steered away in droves and went to the lively restaurant next door. Ha, I thought, more fool them, queuing for hours, eating their free popcorn. I can just turn up here at the drop of a hat, I never have to book and the food is ten times better. I was very smug about the whole thing. Until Rhythm closed as no one went there except me.

Rhythm had a limited but faultless menu. I should know, I tried everything on there, dozens of times. But the one dish that truly had me in their thrall was their jerk chicken. It gave a wonderful amount of heat but it was also packed with a truckload of flavour. The heavy blackened skin was the highlight, hot with sweet aromatic spice. Underneath, the leg meat, so juicy from hours of marinating and slow cooking, would fall off the bone, only for you to gather it up with the thick sauce pooling on your plate ready to knock your socks off again.

When Rhythm closed I was bereft, where would I get my jerk chicken fix now?  I mournfully tried other local places but their jerk marinades were either not spicy enough or too spicy with no flavour coming through.  Then under a beam of heavenly light I remembered something.  I had a kitchen.  And a tonne of cookbooks.  And the internet.  So I toiled mercilessly for days, weeks, months until I had tweaked the recipe into perfection – well, one lazy Sunday- and produced actual jerk chicken myself.  In my own kitchen.  It was a revelation.  I wonder how many other restaurants I don’t need to go to now I know I can cook these things myself.  I may never need to go out again.  Except for tonight.  It’s Friday – treat night!

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The only way to have jerk chicken is with a bucketful of cooling slaw to temper the firework of spices exploding in your mouth.  I love this kohlrabi and fennel remoulade as it doesn’t try to compete with the jerk, it is just happy to sit back and do backing vocals.  The kohlrabi also gives it a wonderful creamy texture instead of the sometimes too crunchy results that you can get with homemade coleslaw.  Also, kohlrabi is such a gorgeous colour, see it below getting chummy with the purple cauliflower.


Jerk Chicken with Kohlrabi and fennel remoulade

Serves 4

Jerk Chicken

8 chicken thighs
Small handful of parsley, including stalks
Small handful of coriander, including stalks
1 scotch bonnet chilli
1 onion
2 tbsp ground allspice
2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp crushed chillies
1 tsp black peppercorns
1 tbsp agave nectar/ honey / molasses
2 tbsp muscavado sugar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp soy sauce
100ml dark rum
Good glug of olive oil

  1. Blitz all ingredients for the jerk marinade in the food processor then rub the marinade all over the chicken thighs.
  2. Place in an ovenproof dish and leave to marinate for at least an hour or overnight in the fridge if you can.
  3. Place the dish in oven preheated to 180°C and cook for 50 mins until chicken is cooked.

Kohlrabi remoulade

1 kohlrabi, peeled and sliced into matchsticks
1 fennel bulb, core removed, sliced into matchsticks
1 garlic clove
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp cider vinegar
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp salt
1 egg yolk
75ml olive oil
75ml sunflower oil
Squeeze of fresh lemon

  1. Crush the garlic clove with a large pinch of salt and bash up.
  2. Put the crushed garlic in a bowl with the mustard, vinegar, sugar salt and egg yolk and whisk together.
  3. Mix the oils together in a jug then trickle in a steady steam into the egg mixture, mixing constantly to emulsify.
  4. Once all the oil has been added and the mixture is thick and glossy squeeze in some lemon juice and add more salt and pepper to taste.
  5. Mix in the kohlrabi and the fennel to coat thoroughly.
October 17th, 2013 by Pie

Pickled Golden Beetroot


‘Tis the season to be pickling, jarring, canning, jamming. A wonderfully therapeutic pastime, certainly not made more challenging with a bouncing eight-week-old puppy swirling around your feet as you are carrying searing hot jars out of the scalding water of their water bath. No siree, easy peasy pudding and… holy mother of hot water. Don’t worry only the cook was harmed in the canning of this beetroot. Turns out puppies don’t make good sous chefs, this one will have to be trained by Alarm Clock 2 who was very helpful in preparing the beetroot.

Cat with beetroot

My shelves are laden with goodies for the coming winter, for if the apocalypse should rain down upon us I am safe in the knowledge that I can feed two cats, a puppy and a husband with chutneys, jellies and marmalades for a good few months.  A rainbow of colours has been cast on my cheap thrown together bookshelves which certainly doesn’t get me in trouble every time I balance a further few kilos of canned goods amongst the books.  The study is slowly morphing into the pantry and I couldn’t be more thrilled.


I found these gleaming chaps buried under an inch of soil at the farmers market, their inner beauty only truly shining through after they had been boiled and peeled.  They truly are a beautiful vegetable.  They lost a little bit of their individual colours during the canning process but they still make a wonderful addition to the bookshelves.  I can’t wait until Christmas when they will be adorning buffet tables and being included in late night cheddar cheese sandwiches with crusty bread.

It was only afterwards that comments were made upon my decision to quarter the beetroot rather than slice it as apparently it makes for rather awkward cheese and beetroot sandwiches. Ah, screw ‘em.


Just a word to the wise, although I won’t hammer home the point like some of the recipes I read which made canning beetroot sound terribly frightening but the acidity in this particular vegetable is very low so vinegar quantities cannot be messed with unless you want to kill off your whole family on Boxing Day with botulism.  For my water bath I use a huge saucepan that I bought for a few pounds from Ikea many years ago and it has been of invaluable use, being sufficiently deep and wide for this purpose. I would recommend though, that if you haven’t used a water bath for canning before, then do read up on it thoroughly before you go so you have all the right information.


Pickled Golden Beetroot
Adapted from Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff

1 kilo beetroot
720ml cider vinegar
50g honey
1½ tsp salt
1½ cinnamon sticks
¼ tsp black peppercorns
270ml water

  1. Wash the beetroot thoroughly then cook it whole submerged in boiling water for about half an hour.
  2. Drain them and dunk them in a bowl of icy water, then remove and rub off their skins.
  3. Slice thickly.
  4. Meanwhile prepare the water bath. Place a couple of tea towels or a trivet in the bottom of your pan and fill with water. Bring to the boil, it should be at a rolling boil for a good 15 mins before you add your jars. This is also a good time to sterilise your jars and lids.
  5. In a saucepan add the vinegar, honey, salt, cinnamon, peppercorns and water and bring to a boil. As soon as it is boiling add your beetroot then bring it back up to a boil. When it reaches a simmer then turn off.
  6. Quickly divide the beetroot and liquid between your jars leaving a bit of headspace in the neck of the jar. Remove the air bubbles with a chopstick and place the lids on, adjusting so that it is just finger tight.
  7. Submerge your jars into the water bath so that they are covered by an inch of water and sitting upright on the tea towels or trivet. Pop the lid on and boil full blast for 30 mins.
  8. Remove the jars with a jar lifter and leave them undisturbed in a safe place until they have cooled down completely. Test the lids to make sure they have been sealed and don’t pop up when pressed.
  9. These can be stored for about a year and eaten whenever you want in between.
October 15th, 2013 by Pie

Madeira Braised Steak with Celeriac Mash

It is definitely stew season.  The days are now noticeably shorter as we are getting up and coming home from work in a much dimmer light.  The chill to the air is prompting us to reach for the extra layer and I have even had the excitement of plucking my winter coat out of hibernation for a quick trip into town.  I went on the tube, was far too hot and regretted it instantly.  Still, the thought was there.

So if you haven’t yet succumbed to the lure of your winter coat then you are going to need something warm when you get home and a lovely rich stew with steak melting to the touch of the fork is ideal edible central heating.

This is a very simple braising recipe and I cook it in a wide bottomed saucepan rather than a casserole dish as the liquid is there only to help the meat to break down.  There is little gravy from braising the steak in this way but it is so intensely flavoured from the madeira and mustard that you only need a small portion.  What you will need is a mash to soak up all those wonderful juices.

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I am often substituting different kinds of vegetables for potato in a mash.  It lessens carb intake but also can add another dimension to the whole dish rather than being a way to fill out a meal.  I am certainly not one to shirk away from a good pommes puree but so many delicious vegetables can be used instead.  I use celeriac here as it produces a very light mash so is a perfect accompaniment to the robust flavours of your steak.  It is an ugly looking vegetable it is true but once you strim away all the hairy tubers, the clean colour of the flesh reflects its bright lively taste.  No mash is complete without lashings of salt and butter and how much butter you add is up to you, but to be honest you can probably never have enough.



Madeira Braised Steak with Celeriac Mash

Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil
800g stewing steak, cut in 1 inch cubes
1 litre good fresh stock
2 celery sticks, diced
1 onion, diced
½ bulb fennel diced
1 clove garlic, crushed
2 tsp rosemary leaves
1 tsp thyme leaves
1 bay leaf
50ml madeira
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 x Celeriac
Plenty of salted butter
Handful of parsley, roughly chopped

  1. Heat 1 tbsp of the olive oil in a casserole dish on the hob and then when smoking, add the cubed steak and plenty of pepper.
  2. Once browned, remove the steak with a slotted spoon and if there is excess water in your casserole, raise the heat to reduce.
  3. After all the water is reduced, all that should be left are the beef bits. Add the second tbsp of olive oil then the diced celery, onion and fennel. Keep on a low heat and cook gently until the veg is soft.
  4. Pour in the madeira and stir in for 1 minute until the alcohol is burnt off.
  5. Add the garlic, herbs, Dijon mustard and season well.
  6. Put the beef back in and add the stock.
  7. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 3 hours until the beef is tender.
  8. For the celeriac mash, peel and chop the celeriac into large chunks.  Boil in a large saucepan of salted water for around 30 mins.  Drain, then mash with plenty of salted butter and season to taste.
  9. Serve the braised steak with the celeriac mash, sprinkling with parsley.
October 10th, 2013 by Pie

Tex Mex Salad

I have a confession to make. I might be slightly addicted to this salad. I have had it three lunchtimes in a row. So I think it is only fair that I get you addicted too.

This has always been one of my favourite quick bites in town and I can often be seen lurking around Freebird Burrito, who have stalls throughout London. Their burritos are the best in the city I think and I have given it a jolly good go to try most of them. However, the salad is the buzz as the greenery makes you feel like you are doing your body a favour even though it’s disguised under a mass of creamy avocado and cheese. Their salad comes loaded with rice and beans as well which although scrummy I didn’t feel was necessary here as there’s so much going on already.


The best salads are quick to throw together, involve fridge staples so you don’t have to make a special trip to the shop and have lots of different flavours to keep you interested. You can say what you like but this salad is never boring. I used leftover pork from the roast I made a couple of days ago and tossed together with new spices it was completely rejuvenated. However, this is so delicious that I would happily fry off a bit of chicken especially to make it as well. Whatever gets you that tex mex fix.



I love this chipotles in adobo which is from the Cool Chile Co., it really adds a bit of smoky Mexican authenticity to the dish. I use it all the time, it keeps for ages in the fridge and can be added to absolutely anything. It peps up tomato sauces, is an absolute staple when you are making chilli and features heavily in the bacon jam recipe which will be making an appearance on my blog very soon.


Tex Mex Salad
Serves 2

Leftover Pork / Chicken / Beef / Whatever
1 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced thinly
½ red pepper, sliced thinly
½ green pepper, sliced thinly
1 tsp chipotle in adobo
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp sweet paprika
1 avocado
1 tbsp sour cream
Grated cheese
Coriander, chopped roughly
½ head romaine lettuce, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
Olive oil to dress

  1. Heat the olive oil in a saucepan on medium heat. Add the onion and peppers and stir fry for about 5-10 mins until they start to soften.
  2. Add your leftover meat, the chipotle, garlic powder, cumin, paprika and seasoning and stir together until the meat is completely heated through. Remove from the heat and set aside whilst you assemble the salad.
  3. Peel and de-stone your avocado. Mash the flesh through with a fork and plenty of salt and pepper. Stir in the sour cream.
  4. Now you just need to assemble. Start with the bed of romaine lettuce, then the meat, then a large dollop of avocado and then the cheese. Finish off with a squeeze of lime and olive oil.
October 9th, 2013 by Pie

Pear, Sour Cherry and Chocolate Crumble

We have a pear thief in our midst.  He sneaks past the fruit bowl in the dead of night, ensnares a juicy pear and steals it away to his lair.  He is bold, brash and unafraid of the consequences.  He seeks the thrill of the chase, the lure of a ripe pear between his teeth, its dimpled skin taunting him from across the kitchen as he succumbs to a life of crime.




So, I was fed up of seeing my carefully grown pears scattered across my house, punctured to pieces by tiny teeth and claw marks.  It’s the only bit of produce our small garden bothers with and one by one my treasured ration was being depleted.  I really had no choice but to make a crumble.

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I laugh in the face of apple crumble.  Pears are where it’s at and the great thing about a crumble is that you can easily adapt it to a gluten free recipe and lose none of the flavour, texture and joy of the classic dish.

I had some sour cherries and chocolate chips winking at me from the cupboard so I wantonly threw them in as well.  But hey, it’s gluten free so it’s healthy, right?

Pear, Sour Cherry and Chocolate Crumble

Serves 4

600g pears
50g sour cherries
75g chocolate chips
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g gluten free flour
100g hazelnuts
200g soft brown sugar
100g butter

  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Take the butter, wrap in foil and place in the freezer for around 30 mins.
  3. Peel and core the pears and toss them together with the sour cherries, chocolate chips, cinnamon, ginger and vanilla.  Place in a baking dish.
  4. Pour the hazelnuts into a baking tray and bake for 10 mins.  Leave to cool for a couple of minutes then push them out of their skins.  Blitz them in a food processor until fine.
  5. Mix the hazelnuts, flour and the sugar together in a bowl.
  6. Remove the butter from the freezer and grate into the nuts, flour and sugar.  Rub together between your fingers until it reaches the consistency of breadcrumbs.
  7. Sprinkle the crumble topping over the pear mixture, making sure all the fruit is covered.
  8. Bake in the oven for between 30-40 mins.
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October 8th, 2013 by Pie

Autumn Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Squash and Hazelnuts

This week I am so excited by autumn cooking having been inspired by a visit to the farmers’ market at the weekend. The stalls were laden with rainbows of differently coloured squash. This is when the farmers market makes food shopping so much fun as the big supermarkets rarely stray far from butternuts, marrows or pumpkins. At Alexandra Palace on a Sunday morning ugly brutes are piled hugger mugger with smaller flowery varieties, all of them glistening tantalisingly in the bright sunshine.


I never know exactly what I’m buying and instead rely on my eyes to be drawn to the most unusual but all squash can be prepared in similar ways. The firmer sweeter varieties can be leant out to soups but the reliable roast is an excellent way to experiment on the stranger looking ones. Every variety tastes slightly different so it’s always a delightful surprise when you take your first bite.


I had to team my squash with a roast loin of pork which I have been craving for weeks and stuffed it to bursting with autumnal apples and spices. I can practically sense the evenings drawing in and the hot toddies beckoning just by taking an indulgent whiff of cinnamon. If you can get hold of unsweetened apple sauce then it is preferred as the tang of the apples complement really well with the earthy spices. The sweetened variety makes it all…well…sweeter.




Autumn Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Squash and Hazelnuts

Serves 4

1.5kg pork loin
4 tbsp apple sauce (unsweetened if you can get it)
¼ tsp crushed chilies
½ tsp cinnamon
¼ tsp ground nutmeg
½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp fennel seeds, bashed
1 garlic clove, crushed
250ml apple cider
2 squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into fat chunks
Handful of hazelnuts, chopped roughly

  1. Remove the pork loin from its packaging and pat dry with a kitchen towel. Place in the fridge for at least an hour without anything covering it so the skin can dry out.
  2. Preheat the oven to 220°C.
  3. Mix together the ingredients for the stuffing, the apple sauce, all the spices and garlic and set aside.
  4. Toss your squash together with olive oil and plenty of salt and pepper in a large baking tray and set aside.
  5. Remove the pork from the fridge and if tied together with string, remove the string and unroll the loin. Score the pork skin with a sharp knife. Turn the pork over and spread the stuffing onto the flesh side of the pork and then re-roll, making sure not too much of the stuffing oozes out. Tie up with more string and season the skin liberally with salt. Place in the oven.
  6. After 20 mins take the pork out and pour the cider into the pan, don’t pour over the pork though or it will affect the crackle of the skin later on. Turn the heat down to 160°C.
  7. Place the squash in the oven along with the pork.
  8. After 1 hour and 20mins, remove the pork from the oven to rest.  Turn the oven up to 180°C.  Add the chopped hazelnuts to the squash and roast for a further 15mins or until the squash is tender.