Winter supper club

A lovely evening hosting a private supper club for five fabulous ladies.

The menu consisted of a clementine martini on arrival with roasted spiced nuts, followed by my traditional pitta, hummus and garlic yoghurt dip.

I then served a main course of roasted chicken thighs with fennel and orange, served with cavolo nero in a pecan and herb dressing, sumac roasted potatoes and roasted baby carrots with cinnamon and yoghurt, and finally a dessert of chocolate almond torte with cointreau cream.

Savoury treats

Brought these beauties in for my colleagues today – Feta, Spinach & Pine Nut Parcels. Recipe below 👇🏻

4 sheets filo pastry
2 tbsp butter, melted
75g feta, crumbled
150g baby spinach
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Grated zest of 1 lemon
1/2 red chilli, de-seeded & finely chopped
25g parmesan, grated
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp fresh parsley
25g toasted pine nuts

  1. Preheat oven to 180C and grease a large baking tray with butter.
  2. Heat olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the onion, garlic and chilli until really soft.
  3. Add the paprika, oregano and cinnamon and cook out for a couple of minutes, then add the spinach and cook until wilted.
  4. Strain over a sieve to get rid of any excess moisture. Set aside to cool.
  5. In a large bowl, mix the lemon zest with the pine nuts, parsley, parmesan and feta. Tip in the spinach and onion mixture and combine everything thoroughly.
  6. One at a time, take a sheet of filo pastry and cut into two long strips. Keep the rest of the filo covered to avoid it drying out.
  7. Brush each with melted butter. Put 1 tbsp of filling at one end then fold over to form a neat parcel, tucking in the edges. Brush with more butter to seal everything in.
  8. Repeat with all of the filo until you have used all of the filling. Place the parcels on the baking tray and cook in the oven for around 20 minutes until golden and crisp. They will be a little soft due to the moist filling but will firm up once cooled. Cut each parcel in half to serve. Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

Salads aren’t just for Summer

This Kale, Sweet Potato, Olive, Roasted Veg & Feta Salad with a Herb Tahini Dressing is both healthy and hearty, perfect for a January lunch or dinner. Recipe below (serves one). Any of the veg can be switched to whatever you have to use up!

Olive oil
Salt and pepper
40g curly kale
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 large sweet potato
1/4 red onion
4 tenderstem broccoli spears
4 cherry tomatoes
8 olives
4 chestnut mushrooms
1 tbsp mixed seeds
1/2 tsp paprika or chilli flakes
Handful fresh herbs (such as parsley, coriander, mint)
1/4 lemon
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove

Start by removing the hard stalks from the kale and massaging the leaves in a serving bowl with a little oil and some salt to tenderise. Leave to one side.

Preheat oven to 200C / 180C fan. Finely slice the red onion and chop the sweet potato into small chunks. Spread out on a baking tray. Drizzle with a little oil, season with cumin, salt and pepper, then put in the oven for about 20-25 mins.

Halfway through, halve the broccoli, mushrooms and tomatoes then add to the baking tray.

Once the veg are cooked, take out of the oven and leave to cool slightly.

Crush the garlic clove, then in a small bowl, mix the tahini, juice of the lemon, garlic and water together and season with salt and pepper. Chop the fresh herbs and add most of them to the dressing.

Start assembling your salad by arranging the veg and olives on top of the kale. Crumble over the feta, then sprinkle over the mixed seeds.

Drizzle the dressing over the top then garnish with fresh herbs and a sprinkling of paprika or chilli flakes. You could also garnish with some pomegranate seeds if you have any. Add a little more black pepper to season. Enjoy – I like to eat this at room temperature.

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Carrot Cake – arguably one of the best cakes ever?!

Tonight I baked a Carrot & Orange Cake containing mixed spices and sultanas, then cut it into squares (ready to take into work tomorrow!) and topped them with a Cream Cheese Frosting & Flaked Almonds. In my opinion this is one of the best cake flavour combinations there is! 🥕🍊

Pastry school

Had the best day at Cheshire Cookery School with chef Alex who taught us how to make excellent pastry and then turn it into pies and puddings!

Fruits of today’s labour: a Chicken and Tarragon Pie (which is a proper pie with a base and everything), Spiced Beef Empanadas and a Chimchurri Sauce, and a Steamed Lemon Pudding (that is actually baked!)

Pastry has never been something I’ve been too confident at making but I now feel very well equipped to give it a go more often!

Chicken & Tarragon Pie
Spiced Beef Empanadas & Chimchurri Sauce
Baked Steamed Lemon Pudding
Leftover pastry = Apple, BlackBerry & Custard Pie