Thai Chicken and Green Mango Salad

This salad is perfect for a Valentine’s day supper. It’s tasty, it looks good and it leaves your lips tingling, I hope the same can be said for your date!

I love these shredded salads the simple act of cutting all the vegetables very fine  transforms even rather humble ingredients such as carrots and spring onions.  I use a sharp knife for the onions, but a mandolin for the more sturdy vegetables.The addition of green, unripe, mango or papaya adds an exotic touch well in keeping with Thai street food. Naturally  though when I went shopping for an under ripe mango the ones on offer were all meltingly soft, had I wanted a ripe one no doubt they would all have been hard…

The combination of hot and sweet is essentially Thai. I make very spicy dressing  and use only use a couple of spoonfuls to dress the salad, serving the rest separately to add as you wish. If you chose the tiny Thai birdseye chillies do be warned that while they are authentic , they are extremely hot.

I hear Sainsbury’s will soon be selling fresh UK grown lime leaves. I buy mine from a local oriental shop. Frozen lime leaves keep well and defrost quickly. When using lemon grass I urge you to be wasteful, peel of all the fibrous outside leaves keeping only the very centre, you are looking for a piece of lemon grass about 3-4inches long and thiner that a fine green bean.

Don’t throw the outer leaves away, the make wonderful infusions which, when sweetened with honey, are the perfect drink to warm you on a cold morning.

You can use almost any protein with this salad I’ve chosen chicken but prawns, fineley shredded rare beef or grilled tofu would work well.

Thai Shredded Chicken and green Mango salad

I small green mango

1 medium carrot

2 spring onions

a good handful of bean sprouts

1 small red pepper

a small bunch fresh corriander

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts seasoned with salt and pepepr

A little oil


125ml rice vinegar

125ml white sugar

Spice paste:

2-4 lime leaves centre stems removed

2 stem lemon grass see above for preparation

2-4 hot red chillies

1-2 large cloves garlic

Approx 4 tablespoons Thai fish sauce

juice and zest of a lime.

Begin but cutting the  bottom stems of the coriander, check they are clean and put them in the goblet of a blender along with the prepared lime leaves, roughly chopped chillies, peeled garlic and the lemon grass. Whiz until the mixture is roughly chopped.

Now put a pan on to heat and when hot  cook the seasoned chicken breasts for about 10 minutes each side , turning once. You want a good colour on the meat.

Meanwhile prep the salad. Shred the onions , red pepper and carrots. peel and shred the mango.

Arrange the salad on a plate scattering on some coriander leaves 

Make the dressing: to begin you will need to mix the vinegar and  sugar an place this over a low heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Now turn up the heat and boil rapidly until the mixture has reduced and become very thick. This will take approximately 4-5 minutes.

You can see form the picture below how thick the syrup must be. Add this to the roughly chopped spices along with 3-4 tablespoons of the fish sauce and the juice and zest of the lime. Whiz until you have a smooth dressing. Slice the chicken arranging it on top of the prepared salad and spoon overt the spicy sauce.

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Seriously sticky, hot and sweet spare ribs



Twitter is full of talk about a hot new restaurant that has opened in Newberg Street just next to and parallel with Carnaby St, a street undergoing something of a renaissance at the moment. The whole area has become brighter as Regents Street regenerates and there are many really good places to eat. Among my favourites are Polpo and Brindisa and now the one that has everybody tweeting Pitt Cue Co. Surprisingly this is a pit barbecue restaurant, here, close to Liberty’s and only a 5 minute walk from the glories of Bond Street!

I haven’t manage to eat there yet but I’ve been yearning for pulled pork and smoky ribs since I first heard of Pitt Cue Co!!

Waitrose sell very reasonably priced racks of baby back ribs. They are part of their Essentials range and come from high welfare British pork. So I decided to make my own.

The marinade is a mix of many things you’ll find in the store cupboard but feel free to make substitutions if you can’t find the exact match. When I lived in the USA I would also add liquid smoke for the authentic smoky flavour but I’m told it’s full of additives so now I leave it out.

I always make a big batch of ribs and freeze some of them as they do take a while to cook and freeze well.

Oven baked spare ribs

100gm light brown sugar

3 tablespoons each Worcestershire sauce and dark soy sauce

2 tablespoons cider or other vinegar

5 tablespoons tomato ketchup

1 teaspoon mild mustard

2 large cloves garlic peeled and crushed

300ml orange or apple juice

1 teaspoon Tabasco or to taste

2 0r 3 racks baby back ribs

Mix the marinade ingredient together well.

Cut the ribs into portions of 3-4 ribs per piece

Now find a big bowl or dish, I use a huge lidded plastic box I bought years ago, and pile in the ribs. Pour over the marinade and mix well to make sure all surfaces of the ribs are covered. Cover with film and leave in the fridge for a few hours or overnight, stirring the ribs around occasionally.

Tip the contents of the bowl into a roasting dish, scraping in the sauce.

Place in a heated oven 150c 300f gas mk 3 and cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours turning a couple of times and basting with the sauce as it thickens.

Serve with a crisp salad and plenty of bread to mop up the sauce. Oh yes, and a good pile of paper napkins!

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Madeleines for tea

These lovely scented cakes are quick both to make and to cook. There is an element of technique needed as you start by beating the eggs and sugar to the ribbon stage. If you’ve not done this before the term simply indicates a mxture that is whisked until thick, pale and light and one  that leaves a trail or “ribbon” of mouse on the top of the mixture when the whisk is removed.
Obviously this is easiest done using an electric whisk and I prefer my Kitchen Aid free standing mixer as I can wander around the kitchen and get the moulds ready while the machine does the hard work. Madeleines are baked in special moulds that give the cakes their distinctive shell shape but the mixture could be cooked in regular bun tins. The thing to remember is that the moulds or tins must be generously buttered. As you can see I have a silicone mould and two metal ones. If you are offered a choice, chose the silicone: they are a little wobblely going into the oven but the mixture really doesn’t stick and the finished madeleines have a good shape. Serve the warm cakes with camomile tea in an homage to Proust.

Makes  about 30. Lemon and Cardomom Madeleines

140g/ 5oz unsalted butter 155g/5½oz plain flour/ pinch of salt/ 4 eggs /140g/ 5oz caster sugar/ ½ teaspoon black cardamom seeds crushed/ butter to coat the moulds

Preheat the oven to 190’/375F/gas 5.

With a pastry brush, give the moulds a thin coating of melted butter.

Melt the butter and cool slightly. Sift the flour with the salt. Using an electric whisk, whisk the eggs with the sugar until the mixture becomes pale and very thick, when the whisk is lifted out the mixture should make a ribbon like trail on the surface. Fold the flour into the egg mixture, together with the grated rind of 1 unwaxed lemon and the cardomom, fold in the butter.

Spoon a heaped teaspoon or so of the mixture into each Madeleine mould, it should be about ⅔ full. Bake for 10 – 12 minutes or until just firm to touch. Cool the moulds for a minute loosen each Madeleine and turn onto a wire rack. Serve with dusted icing sugar when cool.

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An easy everyday loaf

I make a lot of bread, far more than two people can comfortably eat as I have an ongoing battle with sourdoughs. Sourdough breads make hard taskmasters. They demand attention, intuition, love and an even temperament. The latter essential if you are not to hurl bowls of grey smelly gloop across the kitchen in despair when after days of feeding your starter is still recalcitrant and unlikely to rise even the smallest loaf.

Yeast doughs on the other hand are wonderful, contented doughs that never fail and always yield up a deliciously light, tasty loaf.

When my husband, having battled through particularly grim loaf this week, asked if he might buy some bread I knew it was time to make a regular loaf, one that browns when you toast it, that is easy to slice and that can be made in a couple of hours.

This is it. I used a “Granary” flour which is just white bread flour with bits in it. You can use all white or half white half brown bread flour and it will still work just fine. This is my basic bread recipe so the one I use for pizza bases, flat breads and rolls. I knead in olives for olive bread and roll it around chopped nuts and cinnamon for buns.

It’s easy, it works, it taste good. Job done.

 Makes 1 loaf

1 walnut-sized piece fresh yeast or 1 scant tablespoon dried granular yeast

1 teaspoon clear honey or unrefined sugar

300ml (10fl oz) hand-hot water, about 40°C

500g (18oz) strong white flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

4 tablespoons olive oil, melted butter or vegetable oil

Lets start with the yeast.  If you are using fresh yeast, crumble it into a small bowl and add the honey or sugar. Using a wooden spoon mix the two together until you have a liquid. If you look closely you will see the yeast starting to bubble almost at once, so eager is it to work.If you are using dried granular yeast mix the honey/sugar into the tepid water then using a fork whisk in the yeast. The yeast won’t dissolve all at once but this is not important.

Take about 2 tablespoons of the measured flour and sprinkle it on the surface of whichever yeast mixture you are using. There is no need to mix this in.  Leave this ‘sponge’ in a warm place for about 10-15 minutes until it is really frothy. The yeast will have started to grow and you can see the bubbles forming.

Put the flour into a large bowl, and add the salt then pour in the yeast mixture plus half the oil or melted butter.  Mix together to form a rough dough. I use only one hand to do this. It’s quite simple to get into this habit, and you then always have the other hand clean to answer the phone or lift a glass.

Once you have a rough ball of dough, tap the contents of the bowl on to a board.  Now you must knead the dough until it is smooth and elastic. This stretches the gluten to give an evenly risen loaf.  Look at the rough dough: it will look stringy.  This is the gluten, and it is this you will be stretching.There is no wrong way to do this, I knead by turning and folding the dough, the stretch coming on the fold.  Continue to turn and fold the dough until it changes in character and becomes smooth and springy when lightly pressed.  This takes about 5-8 minutes.

As flour is affected by the weather, you may need to add a little more to your dough if it seems too sticky to knead.  Be warned though: as the dough is kneaded the flour expands and takes up the water, so add only the lightest ‘talcum’ dusting of extra flour if really necessary, bearing in mind the maxim ‘the wetter the dough, the better the bread’.

Now pour the remaining oil or butter in the recipe into your reserved mixing bowl (there is no need to wash it), and put in the ball of dough. Roll it in the oil/butter until the outer surface is covered, but do not mix in.

Cover the bowl with a dry cloth and put the dough to rise in a warm place if you want to continue making the loaf, or cover with clingfilm and place in the fridge if you wish to store it for later.

Once the dough has doubled in size – which will take about 1 hour in a comfortable room – you are ready to continue.

Knock the dough with the back of your hand to collapse it, now take it from the bowl and then knead it once more until the oil has been incorporated into the dough.

You are now ready to shape your loaf:  either roll into an oblong shape, tucking the ends in and place it in a 2lb 1.75kg loaf tin or roll it into a round and place on a greased baking sheet.Scatter over a little extra flour and leave to rise again. This  second rising will take less time, about 45 minutes in a warm room.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 200ºC/Gas 6.

Place the bread in the centre of the oven and bake until well risen and golden brown, about 20-25 minutes. The loaf will sound hollow when tapped on the base. If you are unsure if the bread is cooked err on the well-done side and give it an extra 5minutes

Turn the bread out on to a wire cooling rack. When cold, eat and enjoy.


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A Burn’s Night Supper with just enough Haggis

Burn’s night seems to me to be a very masculine occasion with its strict etiquette , barrels of whisky and wailing pipe music. Add to that the robust, some might even say repellent main dish and you have a feast for the most testosterone charged evening. For surely only boys would want to let rip with a dagger at the nether parts of an old sheep, minced and stuffed into its own bladder .

I have to admit to not really loving Burn’s poetry either but a party is a party and it should never be said that I would pass up an opportunity for a  bit of a shindig.

I have slightly modified the food here to make it not only more palatable to me  but also a little more elegant. The true flavours of Scotland are there but perhaps with a little more subtlety and a few fewer drams.

Begin with these haggis canapés, I made them with  haggis bought from my butcher but haggis are widely available at this time of year and are stocked by many supermarkets.

Wild mushroom soup  follows, then a golden flaky topped venison pie and to end a variation on that sustaining drink created by the Duke of Athol that reportedly gave his soldiers a vital fillip and so made the difference between success on the battle field and ignominy. Here I have toasted the oatmeal and piled it, sundae like into tall glasses, interwoven with layers of rich whisky laced syllabub .

My recipes feed eight so invite a few friends and in the words of the poet

” See the smoking bowl before us

Mark our jovial ragged ring

Round and round take up the chorus

And in raptures let us sing”

Now there’s a drinking song if ever I heard one .

Haggis and apple canapés

This to me is the perfect way to eat the compulsory haggis on Burn’s Night.

1 haggis

1/2 French stick

a little olive oil

2 red skinned apples

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

Cut the bread into 1/4″ thick slices and arrange these on a baking sheet. Drizzle with a little olive oil and bake in a hot oven 200C 400F gas mk 6 for 5-7 minutes or until lightly coloured.

Remove and cook on a wire rack.

Core the apples then cut into thin slices. Fry these a few at a time in hot olive oil until coloured on both sides. Arrange on a plate until needed.

Just before serving. cut the peeled haggis into thin slices and fry these over a brisk heat until hot a slightly crisp. Don’t worry if they crumble a little                                                                                                             you will still be able to pile it onto the toasts.Meanwhile warm the toasts and apple slices.

To assemble the canapés pile some haggis onto each piece of bread squashing it down a little. balance on a piece of fried apple ring and arrange on a platter. Grind over some pepper and serve with tots of whisky.

Wild mushroom and roasted onion soup.

This soup has a wonderfully dense colour and flavour but is quite light to eat and it is not thickened in any way.

450gm 1 lb. peeled weight large onions

30gm 1 oz butter

2 tablespoons olive oil

55gm 2 oz mixed dried mushrooms

1 pint hot water

2 pints beef, chicken or vegetable stock

fresh thyme leaves

3-4 tablespoons oloroso sherry

salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the mushrooms into a deep bowl cover with the hot water and leave to soak for about 1 hour.Sort the mushrooms and cut away any woody or gritty part. Strain the mushroom soaking water through muslin and reserve.Cut the mushrooms into bite sized pieces

Meanwhile cut the onions in half and slice finely.Melt the butter in a large roasting tin and add the oil.

Throw in the onions and roast in a hot oven 200C 400f gas mk 6 until the onions are evenly brown. You will have to stir them quite often and watch towards the end of cooking they have a habit of burning quickly once the colour starts!

When the onion are mid to dark brown remove the dish from the oven and place over a low heat. Add the mushrooms and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Now add the mushroom soaking liquor and stir to scrape up any bits that have stuck to the pan.

Pour this into a deep saucepan and add the stock and thyme leaves. Bring to the boil, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes until the mushrooms re tender.Taste the soup and correct the seasoning. This can be done ahead.

Just before serving add the sherry and bring the soup to boiling point. Serve in hot bowls.

Rich venison and port pie

Make the filling ahead and top with ready rolled flaky pastry up to four hours before final cooking.

1kg 2lb.4oz venison, trimmed weight


1 large leek cleaned and chopped

1 large carrots peeled and chopped

2 cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped

1 satsuma washed and diced

3-4 sprigs fresh thyme

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons port

freshly ground black pepper

To continue:

110gm 4 oz smoked streaky bacon

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 pint game or chicken stock

225gm 8 oz button mushrooms

200gm 7 oz peeled cooked chestnuts

sea salt

340gm 12 oz ready rolled all butter puff pastry

beaten egg to glaze

Cut the venison into largish pieces ,trimming away any sinew or gristle.

Place in a large ceramic or glass bowl with the leek, carrot, garlic, satsuma and thyme. Add the oil port and freshly ground black pepper. Turn everything together two or three times then leave to marinate for at least 6 hours or better yet overnight.

Heat the olive oil in  heavy bottom frying pan or metal casserole dish and when hot lift the meat from the bowl using a slotted spoon and fry it for a few minutes over a very high heat. You are trying to caramelise some of the meat juices to give a deeper flavour.

after about 3-4 minutes pour in the remaining juices from the bowl, add the stock and a little salt and bring to simmering point. Cover the dish, turn down the heat and cook for 1-2 hours or until the meat is almost tender.

Now briefly fry the mushrooms in the butter and add to the pot along with the chestnuts.

Allow to cool and spoon into a pie dish.When cold top with pastry in the usual manner decorate with the trimmings ,cut a vent in the centre and brush with beaten egg.

Chill until needed.

Heat the oven to 200C 400F gas mk 6 and when hot put in the pie. After 10 minutes turn the heat down to 370F 190C gas mk 5 and continue cooking until the pastry is deep golden brown , about 40 minutes in total.

Serve with mashed potatoes and  mashed swede (neeps)

Toasted oats and whisky Cream sundaes.

Fresh raspberries are available in the shops but if the budget wont stretch use de-frosted frozen berries sprinkled with a  little sugar.

110gm 4 oz jumbo oats

55gm 2oz butter

4 tablespoons golden syrup

3/4 pint double cream

2 tablespoon clear honey

grated zest and juice of an unwaxed lemon

3-4 tablespoons whisky or to taste

fresh or frozen raspberries

Begin by melting the butter and syrup and mixing in the oats. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and cook in the eh oven 200C 400F gas mk 6 for 6-8 minutes or until golden brown. Break up into small pieces and allow to col. Store in an air-tight tin until needed.

Make the whisky cream Mix the whisky, honey and lemon juice until the honey dissolves. Add this plus the lemon zest to the cream and whisk until thick but still mobile.Chill for up to 24 hours.

To assemble the sundaes chose eight pretty glasses. (Not too large, this dish is quite rich.) Place some of the crisp oats in a the bottom of each one add some cream and a few raspberries then more oats more cream and more fruit. It really doesn’t matter which layer you finish with so continue until you run out of ingredients.

Chill until needed. These sundaes can be assembles up to 2 hours ahead.

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Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

Home made marmalade is to my mind one of the best preserves to make. You can buy some fantastic jam almost everywhere but I never find bought marmalade as thrilling. I guess I like a shape flavour and lots of peel but the marmalade must still taste fresh.

The temptation to buy it is strong as I would calculate we get through at the most 3 jars of marmalade a year and many recipes for Seville Oranges have a huge yield and marmalade making does take a bit of effort . Whilst you can pot up the preserve and keep the jars for gifts I now make this grapefruit version most years. It has the advantage of meeting the criteria listed above and as grapefruit aren’t as seasonal as Seville oranges it can be made most months of the year.

In my book James and Chutneys I give a whole load of marmalade recipes they all vary a little but certain points hold true

Choose best quality, fresh fruit and scrub it well before cooking

Cut the peel thinly, it will expand as it adsorbs the sugar so medium cut will become coarse.

Don’t skimp the boiling stage. You really do need the peel to be very soft, a wooden spoon should easily “cut” it before you add the sugar. There are few things worse than tough chewy marmalade no matter how tasty.

Pink Grapefruit Marmalade

Pink and ruby grapefruit make a lovely preserve. They often have thin skins but on the chance that the white pith is very thick pare away a portion before chopping the skins

3 fresh pink or red fleshed grapefruit

2 large lemons

1.5 litres water

1.35 kilos white sugar

Scrub the grapefruit and lemons under running hot water to remove any surface waxNow cut the friut in half and carefully squeeze out all the juice, straining it into a large stainless steel or enamelled saucepan. Reserve the pips.

You will see from the photo I’ve scraped out the excess pith and membrane from the shells. I put this in the bag with the pips to add pectin.

Using a sharpe knife cut the peel of both lemons and grapefruit into fine shreds.

Place these in a large china or glass bowl and cover with the water. Leave this for 24 hours.

Now place the , fruit and water into the pan with the juice and having tied the pips in a muslin bag add these too.

Bring the mixture up to boiling point, cover and then simmer until the peel is very soft. You must be able to cut it easily with a wooden spoon.

Stir in the sugar, and cook over a low heat until this has dissolved. If any scum rises to the surface skim it of as the mixture boils, you may need to do this several times. Now turn up the heat and boil rapidly until a set has been achieved. See Below

Leave the marmalade to stand for 5 minutes then pot in hot sterilized jars and cover in the usual fashion.

Makes approx 8x200ml

Testing for a set

Once the marmalade has been boling for the time given in the recipe you will need to start testing for the set.You can tell with a little experience when this point is near: looking at the mixture the boil becomes more sluggish and a spoon of the marmalade cooled slightly then tipped back into the pot begins to hold together.

The most efficient way to test for the set is to take a chilled plate from the freezer and drop a teaspoon of mixture onto it. Wait a couple of minutes for the marmalade to cool then begin pushing the edge of the mound . If a skin has formed and the preserve wrinkles it’s ready. If the mixture is still liquid it is not ready  so return the pan to the hat and boil rapidly testing as above every 2-3 minutes.


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I had a poorish meal first time I went to Ducksoup but I’d heard it was really good so went back on my own this week and this time enjoyed my lunch.

Eating out is often as much about the company and their mood as the food and whilst great food can calm the most restless diner sometimes the whole experience of comfort/food and cost can just miss a trick. This is where Ducksoup had let us down. There is a level of comfort below which it’s just not worth paying and our tiny, draughty table crowded into a window/door space was just no fun at all. The rather haphazard appearance of the regulation small plates also left much to be desired. I eat out often and do appreciate the joy of trying so many of the menus dishes but I think kitchens must try and offer some sense in the way small plates are served or they must revert to the origins of such food, the tapas bar, and welcome you only ordering one or two dishes at a time.

Being asked to order your complete meal of small dishes in  one go often means in practice that the foods meant to be eaten piping hot all arrive together and mild tasting ones come after the more highly flavoured. To eat each dish at it’s best you must hurriedly try each dish moving on to the next without a pause. There is little satisfaction in such dining and it is impossible to eat in this way if you’re trying for a conversation when catching up with friends.

So my rerun visit was a much happier occasion. I’d seen on Twitter that Morcilla was being offered and, walking past the door, I saw a nearly empty bar so I sat on one of the wooden stools at the counter and ate the dish pictured above. Morcilla with a fried duck egg and some mixed mushrooms. It is part of Ducksoup’s new strategy to offer one dish plus a glass of wine at lunch. Accompanied by some good bread it worked for me.

I’m glad I went back, the staff are friendly and whilst I still think the restaurant is uncomfortable this is the sort of place and  the type of food I long to find.

Ducksoup 41 Dean St London W1D 4PY 020 7287 4499

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