Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Flash in the pan?

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So, this might just be a flash in the pan and a one off post after two years of inactivity, but maybe, just maybe I'll start writing on here again. 

I've had an offer to sell my blog a few months ago, but something stopped me eventhough it has been lingering in a state of sad neglect for forever. Maybe it's time to return to my food blogging days. 

I recently joined Slimming World, as I'd slowly put on some weight over the last couple of years that I was getting fed up with and just couldn't quite shift. I always got so far and got stuck. 

Now I'm not interested in loads of cheat recipes where I just replace sugar with sweetener, but essentially still eat a lot of poor and processed foods that don't give my body much goodness. I'm interested in cooking satisfying meals that don't feel like I'm missing out, because I'm not. I just eat more balanced and with a large focus on vegetables, fruit and lean protein. There is no fasting and no going hungry. This is hopefully about a lifestyle change not a diet. 

This of course means that I'm cooking and experimenting more again. And I'm hoping to share some of that by resurrecting A Pot of Tea and a Biscuit. So watch this space. (Maybe).  

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Beetroot and Walnut Hummus by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall

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I'm currently working on an artists' book about a dinner party, so of course I had to have said dinner party to get it started. There isn't really any work to look at yet, but you can see some of my older work if you have a look through some of the posts on my website or the Battenburg Press Tumblr.

I invited five friends round and made quite a few dishes, but failed to photograph most of them, so those recipes will have to wait a little longer before being shared on here. I did manage to photograph my new favourite dip though. It's not only delicious and easy to make, I also absolutely love the colour of it. You just can't beat beets for colour, can you?!

Try it with fresh flatbread or on a sandwich with some goat's cheese. Perfection!

 photo 1af2da7c-6543-49da-b812-290a24f864a1.jpg

Beetroot and Walnut Dip by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (serves 4-6)

50g walnuts
1 tbsp cumin seeds
25g stale bread, crusts removed
200g cooked beetroot (not pickled), cut into cubes
1 tbsp tahini
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 lemon, juice off
sea salt, to taste
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
a little olive (optional)

Preaheat your oven to 180C/Gas 4.

Place the walnuts in one layer on a baking tray and roast in the oven for 5-7 minutes, until fragrant.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.

Heat a small frying pan over a medium heat.

Add the cumin seeds and dry-fry them. You need to keep moving the pan around or stirr the seeds constantly. What you want is for them to release their aroma, but not burn! It should only take a minute or so.

Transfer the seeds to a pestle and mortar or a spice grinder and crush them well.

Break the bread into chunks and add them to a bowl together with the walnuts. Using a stick blender, process them until you have fine crumbs. You can do this in a food processor also.

Add the beetroot, tahini, the garlic, a good pinch of the cumin, half the lemon juice, a little salt and a good bit of pepper, then process until you have a thick paste.

Taste the mixture and adjust it by adding a little more cumin, garlic, lemon, salt and/or pepper until you like the taste.

You can add a splash of oil if you think the dip is to thick.

Serve at room temperature.


Friday, 21 June 2013

Lemon Berry Cake

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It's nearly the end of June, which in my annual calendar means saying farewell to my final year students and wishing them good luck for life after University. We had a little get together with drinks on Wednesday and I baked a cake.

Congratulations to the Class of 2013, BA (Hons) Photography, Manchester School of Art!

Some of them are having an exhibition in London in July, following on from their degree show. Have a look at their website and pop in if you're in the area.

Oh and the cake was good and well worth making! The recipe can be easily halved and made in a loaf tin or 20cm ring pan. That's what the original recipe was, but I doubled it to use my Gugelhupf pan.

Lemon Berry Cake (makes 1 cake)

250g butter
1 1/2 cups caster sugar (I used light brown as I was out)
4 eggs
rind of 2 lemons
3 cups self-raising flour 
1 cup milk
1/2 cup lemon juice
150gr blueberries/raspberries
icing sugar for dusting

Preheat your oven to 180°C/Gas 4/350 F. Grease a gugelhupf pan really well and dust with flour.

In a large bowl beat the butter and sugar with an electric beater until pale and creamy.

Beat in the eggs and  grated lemon rind. 

using a wooden spoon fold in the self-raising flour,  milk and lemon juice until well combined.

Spoon half the mixture into the pan. 

Scatter over the berries. 

Spoon over the remaining cake batter.

Bake for 50 minutes, check after 40 minutes and cover with baking parchment or tin foil if the top of the cake is getting too dark.

Insert a wooden skewer to check if the cake is cooked through. The skewer will come out clean if it is ready. If there is still batter clinging to the skewer, return the cake to the oven for 5 more minutes and test again.

Set aside for 5-10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool. 

Serve dusted with icing sugar.


Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Yotam Ottolenghi's Stuffed Aubergine with Lamb & Pine Nuts

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I know, I know.....it has been ages! So many things have happened in the last six months. Some good, some less so, some very happy times and also some sad stuff. All of it together meant that I didn't really feel like blogging about what was cooking in my kitchen.

But here's to hopefully finding my (blogging) mojo again. Thanks for still reading!

This is a recipe that I made a while agao. Easter Sunday to be more precise. I was spending Easter on my own this year and I didn't want to miss out on having lamb for Easter, but it seemed silly to do a whole roast for myself, so instead I just scaled down this wonderful Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from the Jerusalem cookbook.

It was delicious and the only issue I had was there wasn't quite enough sauce for basting when adjusted for one serving rather than four. My conclusion is that I'll just make it for four people next time, because than there won't be any sauce issues and it's so good that it should be shared anyways!

(Sorry about the crappy picture, I couldn't wait to dig in!)

Yotam Ottolenghi's Stuffed Aubergine with Lamb & Pine Nuts (serves 4)

4 medium aubergines (about 1.2kg), halved lengthways
6 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground cumin
One and a half tablespoons sweet paprika
One and a half tablespoons ground cinnamon
2 medium onions (340g in total), finely chopped
500g minced lamb
50g pine nuts
20g flat-leaf parsley, chopped
2 teaspoons tomato purée
3 teaspoons caster sugar
150ml water
One and a half tablespoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon tamarind paste
4 cinnamon sticks
Salt and black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220C/200C fan/gas mark 7. Place the aubergine halves, skin-side down, in a roasting tin large enough to accommodate them snugly. Brush the flesh with 4 tablespoons of the olive oil and season with 1 teaspoon of salt and plenty of black pepper. Roast for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the aubergines are cooking, you can start making the stuffing by heating the remaining olive oil in a large frying pan. Mix the cumin, paprika and ground cinnamon and add half of this spice mix to the pan, along with the onion. Cook on a medium-high heat for about 8 minutes, stirring often, before adding the lamb, pine nuts, parsley, tomato purée, 1 teaspoon of the sugar, 1 teaspoon of salt and some black pepper. Continue to cook and stir for another 8 minutes, until the meat is cooked. Place the remaining spice mix in a bowl and add the water, lemon juice, tamarind, remaining sugar, cinnamon sticks and half a teaspoon of salt; mix well.

Reduce the oven temperature to 195C/175C fan/gas mark 5 and a half. Pour the spice mix into the bottom of the aubergine roasting tin. Spoon the lamb mixture on top of each aubergine. Cover the tin tightly with foil, return to the oven and roast for 1 hour 30 minutes, by which point the aubergines should be completely soft and the sauce thick; twice through the cooking, remove the foil and baste the aubergines with the sauce, adding some water if the sauce dries out. Serve warm, not hot, or at room temperature.

Enjoy! (recipe taken from The Independent Online)

Friday, 14 December 2012


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Sorry, I've been gone......

I have been here ocassionaly...

Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Boozy Banana Bread

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If you are anything like me, you will occasionally find some rather yucky sad looking bananas in your kitchen or your fruit bowl or wherever you keep your bananas. I mean the ones that aren't even really freckled any longer, but are turning a monochrome brown. I used to just throw bananas in the freezer before they got to that state, perfect for smoothies straight from frozen, no need for ice cubes. But since my current freezer compartment is teeny-tiny and space is at a total premium I now suffer a case of brown bananas more regularly. That's when I know it's time to make banana bread


If you have ever googled banana bread recipes you will know that there is a nearly infinite number of recipes out there. So you might ask if the world really need another blog post about Banana Bread? Well, I think so and this one is my absolute favourite. I like the rum and cinnamon, as well as the walnuts, but feel free to experiment with the spices, types of booze or add chocolate chips instead of the nuts.


Boozy Banana Bread (1 loaf)

3 to 4 ripe bananas, mashed well with a fork
1/3 cup melted butter
3/4 cup muscovado sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons spiced rum, or rum, or bourbon or whatever else takes your fancy
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 1/2 cup of flour
1/2 cup of walnuts

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Grease a loaf tin.

Mix the butter and mashed banana in large mixing bowl. You won't need a mixer for any of this. A wooden spoon will do.

Add the sugar, egg, vanilla and booze and mix in well.

Add the spices and stir again.

Sprinkle the baking soda and salt over the mix and combine.

Finally add the flour and stir and once combined pour into your prepared loaf tin.

Place in the centre of the oven. Check after 50 minutes if done by inserting a wooden skewer in the middle. If it comes out clean, the cake is done if there is still some batter clinging to the skewer return to oven for another 10 minutes. Check again etc.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then carefully remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Spanish Fish Stew

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I won a competition a few weeks ago on Lavender & Lovage. The prize? £65 worth of fish from Delish Fish, a great family run business up in Scotland that delivers fresh fish directly to your door. I thought to myself at the time, that it was a little daft of me to enter, as I don't have a freezer and I live on my own. I figured I never win anything anyways though.

You can imagine my reaction when Karen got in touch to tell me I was the competition winner. I mean I was excited. It's always nice to be the winner of something, but I also started panicking slightly as to what to do with all that fish that was going to arrive on my doorstep shortly. Luckily, my friend Jacqueline who lives around the corner from me was kind enough to make some room in her freezer for all that fish, that I am now slowly and very happily cooking my way through. There'll be more recipes to follow, but let's start with Spanish Fish Stew, which I made with some of the lovely hake fillets I received.


My friends Lucy and Yuri had been driving back up to Manchester after a weekend in Brighton and I thought it'd be nice for them not to have to sort their own dinner out when they finally made it back after driving for six hours. Since they live in the same building as I, it was easy for them to drop their bags and just come upstairs to a hearty, smoky and warming fish stew (plus a very small beer).

I found the original recipe here and have adapted it to suit my taste and the contents of my larder.

Spanish Fish Stew (serves 4)

2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest and juice of
a generous handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
olive oil
1 onion, finely sliced
250g new potatoes, peeled and cut into 2cm chunks
1 heaped teaspoon paprika
a pinch of chilli powder or cayenne pepper
400g can chopped tomatoes
1 veg stock cube
1/2 - 1tbsp sugar
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
200g raw king prawns
1 x 410g can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
500g skinless hake fish fillets

Mix the chopped coriander, lemon zest and half the garlic and set aside for later.

Heat then a large heavy bottomed pan, heat the oil and add the onions and potatoes. Cover and saute for about 5 minutes or so on medium heat, until the onions begin to soften. Stir from time to time.

Add the remaining garlic, paprika and chilli powder (or cayenne), stir to coat and cook for another couple of minutes, until fragrant.

Add the lemon juice, followed by the tomatoes and half a can of water. Crumble in the stock cube and add the sugar, it'll help cut some of the acidity of the tomatoes.

Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes until the potatoes are almost cooked.

Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the chickpeas and prawns and stir through.

Place the hake fillets on top of the stew, cover with a lid and simmer for another 10 minutes.

Remove from heat, scatter with the coriander/garlic/lemon zest mix and serve with some crusty bread to mop up the sauce.


Monday, 29 October 2012

Top Five from five years of A Pot of Tea

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With the blog just having turned five, I thought it might be nice to look back and to write a post in which I share my favourite recipes of the last five years again.

It wasn't easy to narrow it down to just five, because there are plenty of others that I think are worth shouting about and that I make and eat all the time. I did my best however and here is Sylvie's Top Five in no particular order.....

The Rockamole is always a hit at a party. It is finger licking good and makes a great change from the usual Guacomole.

Aubergine and Green Bean Curry
This is a recipe from my favourite cookbook. River Cottage Veg Every Day by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. It's fragrant and well spiced without being too much for those who like to go easy on the heat. I'd happily eat it every week.

Slow-cooked Venison Ragout
I don't eat much meat these days, but when I do I make sure it is good quality and hasn't been intensely farmed. Venison can be pricy, but when cooked properly it is worth every penny. This ragout was so good I wanted to lick my fingers and the plate.

Spicy Roast Aubergine with Chickpea Stew
This has become somewhat of a favourite for when I have friends round. I once heard one of them mutter the words 'better than sex' to describe the dish.

Easy Peasy Lemon Drizzle Cake

When I need cake and I need it quick, this is the one I make. I have been asked for the recipe so many times and you can make it into a much more elaborate cake for a special occasion by topping it with lemon cream and fresh berries (as the one in the picture above).

Interestingly enough when it comes to most popular posts in terms of viewing numbers, only the Easy Peasy Lemon Drizzle Cake is in the top five. In fact it is number four, number one with over 23000 views is Tana Ramsey's Lemon Drizzle Cake, which I don't think is anywhere near as good. Number two is Turkish Red Lentil Soup, number three Tomato, Mozzarella and Basil Appertizers and number five is Caramelised Onion and Feta Tart.