20 August 2013

Rhubarb, Orange & Prosecco Jam

Well, it's been several months sinced i last posted, but it's time to get back into the kitchen & feed the houseboy up for winter. The summer has been filled with weddings (including our own wonderful day) an amazing Italian honeymoon, parties, hen do's & weekends away which have all been brilliant fun, but it's secretly quite nice now it's all calming down.
This time of year is great for jam making & due to our amazing (& very surprising) British summer there is an abundance of deliciously ripe fruit available. This is a recipe from a Jam & Preserves book i've had a while but never used - the recipe actaully calls for plain old boring water, but i thought i would liven it & add some prosecco & it works very well. The ginger isn't too overpowering & the orange really enhances the flavour of the rhubarb. It's quite a sweet jam (more so than say a raspberry jam) so would work well with desserts like greek yoghurt.
  • 1.5 kilos of rhubarb
  • 50g of fresh root ginger
  • pared rind and juice of two oranges
  • two lemons
  • two pints of prosecco (its just shy of a bottle - top up with a little water)
  • 1.75 kilos of sugar
  • 15g butter

Slice the rhubarb & add two thirds to a large heavy based saucepan. Finely grate the fresh ginger, zest & juice the oranges & juice the lemons. Add these to the rhubarb along with the prosecco and the two half's of lemon shell (the pectin in the lemon helps set the jam). Bring the mixture to the boil & simmer for around 45 minutes to an hour with the lid off so the fruit has reduce by about half. Allow to cool & remove the lemon shells. Add the remaining rhubarb & gently simmer for about 5 minutes until the fruit is soft. Gradually stir in the sugar over a low heat until fully dissolved, bring to the boil and reduce to a gentle simmer until it reaches setting point. Take off the heat, stir in the butter and skim the scum off the top. Pour into clean and warmed jam jars, top each with a disc of waxed paper & allow to cool completely before screwing on lids.

The Wedding Day

6 March 2013

Artichoke & Butterbean Dip

When you have people for dinner it's really easy serve so many nibbles that they are too full for the main event. This is a light and delicious dip which is great with pitta bread, carrot sticks or crackers. You can use artichoke hearts in salted water but the dip will have a stiffer consistency, the olive oil does also add to the taste. 

  • one tin of chickpeas
  • one jar of artichoke hearts in olive oil
  • one tablespoon of creme fraiche
  • one clove of garlic grated
  • one good pinch of  cumin powder


Take all the ingredients listed & blitz together in a food processor, season to taste and serve with  strips of warm toasted pitta bread.

Walking in the Woods

20 February 2013

Chocolate Oatmeal Biscuits.

Chocolate & Oatmeal Biscuits. 

I'm not sure where i originally found this recipe. I came across it at the weekend written down in an old hardback book i used to carry around to record recipes and shopping lists & thought i would try it out. It's a ridiculously simple recipe with great results; nice & crunchy with a really chocolaty feel, you're better off making a double batch. You could also try dipping half of them in some melted chocolate to make them extra special.  

112g butter
84g caster sugar
112g plain flour
28g coco powder 
28g medium oats
2-3 drops of vanilla essence


Turn your oven to 175 degrees or the equivalent & lightly grease your baking tray.

Cream the butter and sugar together until light & fluffy, carefully sift in the plain flour & coco powder, add the oats & vanilla essence and mix together until it forms a fairly stiff dough.

Lightly dust your work surface and roll out the dough until it's about 5mm thick. Using a circular cookie cutter cut out each biscuit, place on your baking tray & bake for 10 - 12 minutes, make sure you check them half way through to make sure they aren't burning at the edges. 

Remove from the oven, leave on the baking tray for a couple of minutes before removing and placing on fooling rack until cooled. 

They will keep for around five days in a well sealed tin. Makes 18 - biscuits.

Snow Drops

12 July 2012

Honey & Soy Salmon with Stir Fry Veggies.

It's July, it's pouring down with rain & i've worn a waterproof jacket to work everyday the last TWO WEEKS. I seriously feel like i'm about to grow gills. But life goes on, just with soggy shoes.

It was my birthday recently which has tipped me well & truly into my thirties (i didn't count turning thirty last year, i just didn't happen) & we headed to Barrafina in Soho for an evening of tapas & sherry. We ate amazing Morcilla Iberica with Quail Eggs, Pimientos de Padro, Courgette Flowers... & finished off with great desserts paired with sherries. I've decided that i might not wait to be an octogenarian before i start hitting the sherry bottle. Along with birthday excitement we had even more excitement picking up my official engagement ring from Hatton Gardens, probably one of the most nerve wracking but exciting tube journey on the way to pick it up... it's absolutely beautiful with a lot of meaning behind it, the Houseboy's dad mined the yellow sapphire in the Australian gem fields & we have a gorgeous ring which will be become an heirloom.       
Despite the fact the weather has been shocking i'm still in the mood for summery food, so we have been eating a lot of salads, fish & vegetables. This is super easy, super quick & healthy. 

Feeds: two
  • two salmon fillets
  • one large clove of garlic
  • one piece of fresh ginger roughly the same size as  a garlic clove
  • three tbsp dark soy sauce
  • one tbsp runny honey
  • pinch of pepper
  • a selection of veggies to stir fry
  • sesame oil  


Start by finely chopping the garlic & ginger and mixing with the soy sauce, honey & pepper, carefully lay the salmon on an oven proof tray, spoon over the marinade & place under the grill. Quickly chop the vegetables (stick to veggies like spring onions, mange tout, red peppers etc...) & stir fry on a high heat with a tiny splash of sesame oil. Keep an eye on the salmon making sure you don't over cook it.

6 June 2012

Recipe Book Challange #3 Banana & Golden Syrup Loaf

Wow, Jubilee mayhem is over. Such a great weekend (as most long weekends are) & it was brilliant to see everyone get into the spirit of things. The flotilla started from really close to our place & instead of standing 10 deep in the pouring rain by Tower Bridge we were able to see the very start of it all sitting right on the Thames drinking champagne & watching all the boats go by with the sun out. A local charity also organised a street party outside our local gastro pub The Sands End who were serving their excellent Scotch Eggs, sadly the only excellent food on their menu now as the quality of the food has dropped dramatically over the last year. So disappointing as i am a firm believer that good quality food is not hard to do, but they seem to have attempted to reinvent the menu and it reads very poorly. Much better to head to the Imperial Arms or The Rose near by. Hopefully it will pick up it's feet soon.   

The Houseboy also completed the dreaded Copenhagen marathon in a very decent 3.45, which for his first marathon and given his injured foot was amazing. Copenhagen is a great city for a weekend, super easy to get to from London, fun people, very cycle friendly but not so friendly on the old pocket!

Jubilee Cupcake

 This is a recipe from Gary Rhodes New British Classics, this cookbook was pretty much my bible when i started out catering in Scotland, it's good British cooking laid out simply. Lots of clients liked 'nursery puddings' and it's filled with bread and butter pudding, suet pudding etc etc, it also is fool proof for cooking a perfect roast. This recipe may be a little sweet for Banana Bread purists, but those with a sweet tooth will love it.


  • 225g self raising flour
  • 110g butter soften
  • four ripe bananas mashed
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • four tbsp golden syrup
  • four eggs   


This recipe will a buttered & grease proofed 900g loaf tin. Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4. Then simply mix all the ingredients until well combined. Spoon the mixture into the lined tin and bake in your preheated oven for 50-55 minutes. The loaf can be tested by piercing with a skewer, it's ready when the skewer comes away clean. Remove from oven & rest in the tin for ten minutes before turning out & allow to cool. 

For a nutty finish you can 50g of walnuts or hazelnuts.

Sand End Scotch Egg

14 May 2012

Creamy Mushroom Pasta

I really thought for a moment that spring was here, two whole days of semi blue skies, sunshine & no coats. But sadly the rain is back & today was another rainy commute wearing my waterproof...

It's been a couple of weeks of delicious food. We had an amazing night with the talented Miss Stewart who hosted a fantastic evening of food with wine paring. Serving a series of starters size dishes ranging from grilled goats cheese with honey & thyme to mini beef & red wine pies, each course was carefully paired with a complimenting wine. Such a lovely way to eat, although having so much wine certainly made waking up the next morning rather painful. The only way to combat the hangover was to head to La Famiglia just off Kings Road to celebrate a Mr Squire's 30th, which started off very civilised & then quickly descended in chaos. 30th parties can have that effect on people, it's like that mad dash to prove you can still hold your own like an eighteen year old, if only the hangovers were the same as you were when you were eighteen. 

The Houseboy had never eaten at Megan's Deli on Kings Road, which is one of my favourite nearby places for dinner. We had a lovely wine free meal with platters of roasted vegetables, sliced meats & rocket salad, grilled octopus with skinny french fries & artichoke. The food is always fresh & delicious, it's such a good place when the weather is nice, with a pretty garden out the back. At home, the menu will be carb heavy this week, well for the Houseboy anyway, as on Sunday he will be running in the Copenhagen marathon which is exciting. I won't be running, but instead will be dusting off my pompoms, donning the Australian colours & shouting myself hoarse. I'mpretty excited about having some smørrebrød & carslberg beer. 

Sometimes, nothing hits the spot like a big bowl of pasta. My all time favourite probably being pasta with olive oil, garlic & chili, it takes about 10 minutes to make and is just delicious. This dish will take you maybe an extra five minutes but is well worth it, if you are extra hungry pad it out with some chopped bacon and a sprinkling of cheese. 

Serves two. 
  • enough rigatoni pasta for two
  • mushrooms (chestnut or field or white or portabello or a mix -  what ever you fancy)
  • 20mls of creme fraiche
  • two cloves of garlic
  • handful of chopped parsley
  • s&p


Put the pasta on to boil as per the instructions on the pack, remember to add a pinch of salt - makes all the difference. Slice the mushrooms, making sure they are not to thin, you don't want them to get soggy. Melt a little butter in a pan, crush the garlic, add & saute until golden. Add the mushrooms & saute for about 4 minutes, add the creme fraiche, stir, heat through quickly & remove from the heat. Stir in the chopped parsley. Check the pasta & drain if ready. Then take the mushrooms & mix with the freshly drained pasta. Serve immediately with an extra sprinkle of parsley in top.


3 May 2012

Herb Encrusted Cod with Garlicy Butter Beans

So this recipe isn't from one of my cook books as my self imposed cooking challenge states should be. But hopefully i will get round to adding one, i have a few more days & i'm planning on doing some cooking over the weekend. 

At the moment we are talking wedding menus (yes i'm very aware that we aren't getting married for another thirteen months but if you want the good people you need to get organised. I keep getting so excited & changing my mind on things, but we have a fair idea of what we are going with. Mrs Rhodes is in the midst of an organisational flurry of marquee quotes & portable loo choices which is a great help, you might think you know what a wedding entails, but once you start writing it down & you get onto the second piece of A4 paper the panic sets in... Currently the main issue is the Houseboy's insistence that our first wedding dance should be LMFAO shuffling song...

Pretty excited about the upcoming bank holiday which is going to be filled with activities - some of them healthy, some of them not so much. Tomorrow night we kick off proceedings with a wine tasting evening at Miss Stewart's where we each take our favourite choice from our recent wine tasting course at the West London Wine School (so worth booking into) i will be taking a Château L'Hospitalet La Clape, which is a massively punchy red.

This is fairly quick & simple dish which is lovely & healthy. Serve with additional veggies or raw spinach. You can also play around with what you combine with the bread crumbs, maybe add some ginger, or some grated cheese (maybe not together though!) use different herbs & spices. This works best with white fish.

Feeds two people.
  • two cod fillets
  • two large handfuls of breadcrumbs
  • one whole red chilli
  • zest of one lemon
  • one large handful of flat leaf parsley
  • good slug of olive oil (sorry for sounding like Jamie Oliver)
  • s&p

  • one - two tins of butter beans (depending on if you are serving with other veggies or not)
  • one large clove of garlic
  • four tbsps of chopped chives
  • splash of olive oil
  • s&p


Pop your grill on to heat up. Finely chop the chilli & parsley, zest the lemon & combine them all with the breadcrumbs, olive oil & s&p. Lay the cod fillets on a baking tray & carefully spoon the mixture on the top of each fillet making sure each one is nicely topped. Place under the grill until the fish is cooked through & the topping is crispy.

While the fish is grilling you can whip up the butter beans which will take a speedy five minutes. Add a splash of olive oil to a hot pan, crush the garlic, add to the pan & soften - make sure it doesn't burn. throw in the drain butter beans and give it a good stir. When the butter beans are warmed through, toss in the chopped chive, give it a good stir & season. Check the fish & if ready serve up & tuck in (sounding like Jamie Oliver again. Oh dear.)  

A super cool rainbow over the north sea 
near Mrs Rhodes' house.