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Oyster beef noodles with pumpkin seeds


Left over rib eye chopped up and cooked with soy sauce and a dash of oyster sauce…

Pumpkin seeds roasted with a pinch of rock salt…

.. turn into a very quick lunch-time treat !

Coconut Rice

This is a simple way of adding a little more flavour to your rice, and works really well with spicy dishes such as curries. We made it as an accompaniment to our Caribbean Spicy Prawns. You will need:

Long-grain rice – about 2 cups

2 small tins of coconut milk

2 cups water

1 cinammon stick

1 knob of butter

The quantities above are for a large portion, so you my wish to use half the amounts.  Start off by rinsing the rice thoroughly and draining.

Next, melt a large knob of butter in a pan.

Add the rice, and fry until the rice starts to turn transparent.

Add half the water, the coconut milk, and the cinnamon stick. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally until the rice is cooked.   If it starts to dry up, add the remaining water.

When cooked, remove the cinnamon stick and gently fluff up the rice with a fork.

Chilli con Carne

We made this Chilli con Carne to go with Nachos when we had some friends over, however you can make a meal out of it by eating it with rice, or in a wrap or fajita.   You will need:

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove of garlic, chopped

400g minced beef

1 can chopped tomatoes

1/2 can red kidney beans

1 level teaspoon each of: ground cumin, paprika. oregano, chilli powder, sugar

pinch of rock salt

splash of red wine

2 small chilli peppers

Put the onion, garlic, cumin, paprika, oregano, chilli powder and chilli peppers in a pan with a teaspoon of oil. Fry until the onions soften.

When the onions start to stick to the pan, add the splash of red wine and continue cooking until it is almost dry again.

Next, add the minced meat. Fry this, stirring continuously. The meat will form clumps which will then break up again once it is cooked.

The last step is to add the tomatoes, kidney beans, sugar and salt. Cover the pan and leave it simmer on a low heat. 30 minutes will do, but the longer you leave it, the better it will taste! Stir occasionally and make sure the mixture doesn’t dry out. If it does start to dry, add a little water or stock, or take it off the heat and serve. If you need to serve and it is still too moist, uncover and turn the heat up a little for a few minutes.

Preserving grilled aubergines

My fridge is full of condiments; on any given day you can feel like you’re eating party food or at least rummage something up by opening 23 jars on the kitchen table. Dinner can be orchestrated within minutes, should the need arise. Being a busy and social couple, the need arises often. Cue the preserves! This is how to start making some of your own.

You will need:

  • 1 medium aubergine
  • rock salt
  • some slices of lemon
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • vinegar

You will also need a clean jar to store the aubergines in.

Prepare the aubergine by cutting into strips as shown below. Place in a colander with plenty of rock salt and cover with a heavy object to weigh it down. Return to it 20 minutes (or more) later and rinse thoroughly. Place in the grill a about 180 degrees, turning regularly until they start to brown.

Let them cool completely. Chop up into bite size chunks.

In a clean jar start by placing a slice of lemon at the bottom. Wash both the lemon and the jar very very well. Very well. We are preserving vegetables not bacteria or fungi.

Pile up the aubergine bits and some tablespoons of vinegar. I’d day about 1 inch of vinegar poured into the jar is fine. Keep adding the aubergines and pressing down and every now and then add more lemon bits.

When you’ve filled the jar pour olive oil slowly so that it fills the gaps. You will need to poke a clean knife through to eliminate the air bubbles and it will help to close the jar and turn it upside down a couple of times too. You may want to add a chili pepper into your mix to make it spicier.

Place it in the fridge and return to it after a couple of hours to see if you need to top it up with oil. Store in the fridge and always use a clean fork when removing some aubergines from the oil mixture to avoid contamination.

See that air bubble? Kill it!

Spinach with anchovies and olives

An alternative way to cook your spinach; not suitable for those with high blood pressure!

You will need:

  • Fresh spinach with the thicker stalks removed
  • Black olives, chopped finely
  • Canned or preserved anchovies, chopped finely
  • Onions, chopped finely

First cook the spinach separately, if possible draining the excess liquid when it’s done.

Then start frying the onions until they are soft and translucent. Add a little bit of water to stop them from burning and browning.

Chop up your olives and anchovies and set aside.

Mix your spinach in with the onions.

It actually tastes much better cold or if warmed up again after a few hours.

Cannelloni with spinach/ricotta filling and meat sauce

Quick! Chop up your spinach before it gets away!

Just like the Lasagne, cannelloni are surprisingly easy to make, despite the different layers. It takes some time, but you can make life easier by preparing the meat sauce beforehand. There is also the alternative of making the dish vegetarian, in which case preparation will take a shorter time as you can substitute the meat sauce with plain tomato sauce and the dish will be just as good (as long as you can make a mean tomato sauce of course, but more on that another time).

This time I decided to stuff my cannelloni with spinach and ricotta mix and to cover them in meat sauce. The dish turns out really rich and delicious.. but there are endless possibilities for variety too.

You will need about 200g fresh ricotta and 1 egg. Mash them up together and then add the spinach to your mix. To save time  and effort, I blended everything in my mixer. Please note that you don’t need to cook the spinach beforehand.

To make your meat sauce follow the link above. You will need to defrost it completely before use.

Place a layer of the meat sauce (1-2 ladles) in your oven dish.

Next stuff your cannelloni with the spinach and ricotta mix. Use a spoon or a piping bag. The piping bag will make your life much easier of course.

Place a layer of stuffed cannelloni side by side to fill your whole dish. On top of that place more meat/tomato sauce and finally some white sauce and (optional) parmesan/mozzarella/cheddar.

Place in a preheated oven at 180 degrees and cook for about 40 minutes until the top starts to brown and your pasta has cooked through. Let it sit for a few minutes before serving.