To Illustrate: to clarify, explain or describe, through the use of pictures, diagrams or words, a concept or problem.

The concept is food: an amateur's illustration.

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Jamie Oliver Burgers & Sliders

With the US Presidential Election Campaign well underway I thought I would join in with the fun   and make some good old fashioned Hamburgers. Not any of this fast food junk thank you very much - I thought instead I would join the gourmet burger bandwagon and give these burgers a try.

So I made these today (okay slight lie, I made the normal size burger - the bottom one -  we can lose the tiny american flags and miniature burger) and it/they were amazing. Comparable if not even better than other gourmet burgers on the market. The beef was really succulent and the burger almost melted in our mouths. I highly HIGHLY recommend. I cooked the burgers on a griddle pan as unfortunately it has not ceased to rain in London for the past two now going on three weeks but I can imagine they will taste even better when the BBQs come out in the Summer!
To make these burgers find the recipe at:!

Friday, 24 February 2012

New Covent Garden Soup Challange

I am a big fan of soup. On a cold February day what can be more warming and comforting than a bowl of piping hot soup with a crusty buttered baguette? Whether it is tinned soup or fresh - nothing can beat it. One brand which I do love is New Covent Garden Soup Co. I think the traditional soup flavours are strong, and the experimental flavours work. They are hearty and fresh and the cartons which they come in, are beautifully illustrated. Currently, they are running a "Soup of the Month Competition" where customers and soup lovers have the opportunity to get their favourite soup recipes onto the supermarket shelves.  This month's flavour is Red Pepper and Pear, admittedly I have not been tempted to try, the thought of the pear and pepper combination confuses me slightly but seeing as it's lent and I have promised to try new flavours, and February is almost over and the soup will come off the shelves, this Covent Garden Soup will be at the top of my shopping list this weekend. The competition slot which is currently open is for August and the theme is "Fete's, Festivals & Shows" and I have decided that I am going to enter. I have got until the 15th March to come up with a themed recipe so I better get my soup thinking hat on (I will update my progress on the blog) but in the meantime I am going to have a bowl instead - carrot and coriander with homemade croutons! nom. my favourite.

Homemade Croutons
4 tablespoons butter

  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 (3/4 inch thick) slices French bread, cut into cubes

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  2. In a large saute pan, melt butter over medium heat. Stir in garlic; cook and stir for 1 minute. Add bread cubes, and toss to coat. Spread on a baking sheet.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes, or until crisp and dry. Check frequently to prevent burning. Cool.


Wednesday, 22 February 2012

The Problem with Lent

This year I am thinking about giving something up for lent. I have already had a slice of carrot cake at my friend's birthday, which I excitedly ate without giving it a seconds thought, so it obviously means that cake is off the cards, oh and carrots, and cream cheese frosting, but seeing as it's my birthday before Lent finishes I think we can let that one go. Not having birthday cake on your birthday goes against the whole point of the day! I also ate ONE Quality Street, which was actually asking me to eat it - so I wasn't to blame! It was only when the chocolate started to melt in my mouth that I realised another one was off my list. However in order to decided what I am going to give up I think I need to address a couple of questions first: how much do I really want to challenge myself - and why do I want to give up something in the first place?

Because I am writing a food blog, we can all assume that I am challenging myself to give up a particular food. But why and what? I suppose for some, there might be health reasons behind deciding to do Lent. One might have a couple of pounds that they want to shift, so hopefully by cutting out cheese for 40 days it might help the cause. Or is it about increasing one's willpower? Testing oneself, to prove a point. But really, why should we deny ourselves the things we love. I love food, and I am passionate about it. I think about what I am going to have for lunch at breakfast, and dinner at lunch and I get excited by trying new things and experimenting with flavours. Surely that is what is more important - why deny when we can explore. Trying new things everyday, whether it's cooking a new recipe or trying a new cheese or having a bar of your favourite chocolate, surely will enrich our lives rather than hinder them. So I say ditch lent, and embrace the chance to challenge yourself to try new things.  

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Shrove Tuesday can only mean one thing...Pancakes

Makes about 8
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg plus 1 egg yolk
225ml whole or semi-skimmed milk 
Small knob of butter
1. Sift the flour in a large mixing bowl and add a pinch of salt. Make a well in the centre, and pour the egg and the yolk into it. Mix the milk with 2 tbsp water and then pour a little in with the egg and beat together.
2. Whisk the flour into the liquid ingredients, drawing it gradually into the middle until you have a smooth paste the consistency of double cream. Whisk the rest of the milk in until the batter is more like single cream. Cover and refrigerate for at least half an hour.
3. Heat the butter in a frying pan on a medium-high heat – you only need enough fat to just grease the bottom of the pan. It should be hot enough that the batter sizzles when it hits it.
4. Spread a small ladleful of batter across the bottom of the pan, quickly swirling to coat. Tip any excess away. When it begins to set, loosen the edges with a thin spatula or palette knife, and when it begins to colour on the bottom, flip it over with the same instrument and cook for another 30 seconds.
To Serve: the possible pancake toppings are endless, anything sweet or sour, fruity or savoury goes down pretty well. Listed below are a couple of ideas:
The Traditional - Sugar and Lemon - who can beat it?
Hazelnut Chocolate Spread with or without sliced bananas
Creme Fraiche and berries of any juicy sort
Chocolate sauce - swirls and swirls of it.

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Review: Haberdashery, Crouch End

Haberdashery, a Crouch End newcomer, has become a favourite of mine, particularly on a Sunday morning when one desperately needs a good old plate of wholesome sustenance. The Haberdashery, eatery, cum coffee house and old vinyls, cum bakery, was Best Coffee Shop Runner up in 2011 (LL Awards 2011) and it deserves to be so.

The food, although I have only seen the weekend menu, is superb. It is served on mismatched vintage crockery, and is fresh and deliciously wholesome. There are lots of hearty sandwiches, the Club sandwich (char grilled chicken, crispy bacon, lettuce and avocado mayonnaise) is a firm favourite of mine, as is the Steak Au 'poivre-wich' (steak with melted cheese in a crispy yet oh so soft baguette), served with a side of hearty, seasonal soups. Other dishes include an all day breakfast, which has to-die-for hash browns (full of crispy onions), Scandinavian meatballs, salmon and mackerel fishcakes as well as big bowls of salads and delicious baked good (the muffins come in small terracotta pots!). There are also looks to be a large range of lovely homemade cakes, but one has yet to pass my lips. Only time will tell!


22 Middle Lane
Crouch End 
London N8 8PL

Tele: 020 8342 8098

(M-Fr) 8:00 am to 6:00 pm 
(Sa/Su) 9:00 am to 6:00 pm

Kurly Kale

Kale comes from the cabbage family and is usually found in two forms: kale, which has smooth leaves, and curly kale, which has crinkly leaves. Bizarrely during the middle ages was the most popular vegetable in England. Since then it's popularity has wained but now it is going through some what of a rival and is found on the plate of every gastro pub in London. It is really delicious but it does need a little bit of smartening up during the cooking process.
For a simple side of Kale here is the recipe:

Garlic / garlic puree

1. Break the leaves from the stalk, and trim away the tough centre stalk. Wash in cold water then dry.
2. Strain the Kale really well making sure to get rid of the excess water.  Add some chopped garlic or garlic puree to the saucepan as well as a small knob of butter. 
3. Return the kale to the saucepan and stir, cooking for another couple of minutes to cook out the garlic. 

Lets go Bananas for Black Banana Bread

I always find myself saying, when I look down at a pair of brown, extremely ripe and squidgey bananas, 'I really should turn you into banana bread', then after contemplating for a couple of seconds I usually sigh and move on. Then a couple of hours later end up throwing the bananas out. However this time, when I heard myself reciting the same old familiar thought whilst staring at a pair I thought 'No, actually today I am going to do it'. And I have, and the bread is delicious, chocolatey and oh so nutty and well worth doing on a Saturday afternoon. Using a recipe taken from my favourite Nigel Slater, I have transformed these banana's into a glorious loaf.

  • 175g/6oz unsalted butter softened
  • 175g/6oz sugar (half light muscovado, half golden caster)
  • 75g/2½oz hazelnuts/walnuts
  • 2 free-range eggs
  • 175g/6oz self raising-flour
  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 250g/9oz total weight)
  • drop vanilla extract
  • 175g/6oz good-quality dark (cut into small chucks)


  1. 1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3. Line the base and sides of a 20cm x 12cm/8in x 5in loaf tin with baking parchment.
  2. 2. Beat the butter and sugars in a bowl until the mixture is light and coffee-coloured (make sure the butter is a room temperature then this stage will be much easier - especially if you don't have a mixer!)
  3. 3. Toast the nuts (Which ever you are using) then remove their skins with a tea towel. Then grind.

  4. 4. Slowly add the eggs to the butter and sugar mixture, then mix in the toasted ground hazelnuts and self-raising flour.
  5. 4. Peel the bananas and chop them the small pieces. Gently fold the vanilla extract, the chopped bananas and the chocolate chips into the cake mixture, turning gently and taking care not to over mix.
  6. 6. Scoop the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Dust with a little demerara sugar or chocolate shavings and bake for between 1 hour and 1 hour 10 minutes, covering the cake with foil if the top starts to darken too quickly

    Serve: Once cooled cut off a big slice and devour with a lovely cup of tea or in the morning at breakfast, or as a lunch time snack. Really just have it and eat it anywhere - you will find it almost impossible to have only the smallest slither.

    Serve: Once cooled, cut off a large slice and devour with a cup of tea. Enjoy it as a mid afternoon snack or in the morning at breakfast, or when you have the midnight munchies, or whenever or wherever you like. I guarantee that you will find it almost impossible to have only a tiny slither of this banana bread.