• spring onions
  • mint
  • coriander leaves
  • lime
  • ground peanuts
  • Vietnamese dipping sauce


  • two packs of soft noodles (Amoy)
  • bok choi – chopped
  • mirin
  • fish sauce
  • toasted sesame oil
  • tamari


  • two packs of frozen king prawns
  • chilli flakes
  • chopped garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt

Preheat oven 200C.

Prepare the sides.

Put the prawns in a baking tray with chilli, salt and oil (cook for 10 minutes).

Cook the noodles – (2-3 minutes).

Put the chopped bok choi into the serving bowl. When the noodles are done throw them over the top and stir through so the bok choi wilts down. Add a splash of mirin, fish sauce, toasted sesame oil and tamari.

Pour the garlicy prawns over the noodles and stir through.

Add the sides as desired.







This is the recipe that Sam always asks to make. I think the secret is not to have the shortbread too thick. Sam’s secret is not to have the chocolate or the caramel too thin.

For the shortbread

  • 225g plain flour (sieved)
  • 175g butter (chilled)
  • 75g caster sugar

For the caramel

  • 100g  butter
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 can Nestle’s caramel

For the topping

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 25g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a baking tray.

The shortbread

Rub the flour into the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Blend with a knife, if necessary add a little water until the mixture becomes a dough. Roll out and put it into the baking tray. Prick with a fork and bake for 30-45 minutes.

The caramel

Put all the caramel ingredients in a non-stick pan, bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Simmer very gently for 7-8 minutes. Pour over the shortbread base. Allow to cool.

The topping

Very gently melt the dark chocolate and the white chocolate in two different bowls. Pour the dark chocolate over the caramel. Spot the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and tease into fronds with a wooden toothpick, or the tip of a knife. Allow to cool.

Cut into squares, serve, enjoy.


This meal is completely inspired by a food supplement in the Guardian about cooking with children. I was particularly taken with this Vietnamese recipe by Uyen Luu.

We have a restaurant nearby called Panda Panda, which serves something similar, but the real attraction here is that the children can be as creative as they please, and we can all dig-in together to put together the best summer roll that we fancy.

For the omelette 

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • butter

For the summer rolls

  • lettuce 
  • mint 
  • coriander
  • lime
  • vermicelli noodles
  • asparagus spears, sliced diagonally, fried in butter
  • prawns/shrimps, chopped
  • avocados, sliced
  • raw mushrooms
  • cooked chicken
  • rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • some toasted sesame seeds


Poor old Beth has her birthday at a really unfortunate time of the year. As a consequence we want to spoil her, and whatever she asks for as her birthday cake, she gets. This year she asked for coffee and chocolate cake with a fudge frosting. So this is what she got.

For the cake

  • 150g softened butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 125g sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp coffee granules mixed with hot water (then cooled)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the frosting and topping

  • 75g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 6 tsp golden syrup
  • 300g icing sugar, plus extra to thicken if needed
  • 100g shaved white chocolate

The cake

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C (fan). Line and grease two baking pans.

Whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and coffee mixture. Add the sieved flour, baking powder and cocoa. Mix well.

Divide the mixture between the two baking tins. Bake for around 25 minutes and cool.

The frosting

Melt the butter, milk, sugar and syrup together in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the icing sugar. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. If the mixture is too runny, add some more icing sugar before spreading onto the cake. There should be enough here or the centre and the topping.

Finally, scatter the shaved chocolate on top.

Don’t forget the candles, and Happy Birthday!!


Here’s my lovely vegetarian Christmas dinner. It was inspired by something in a BBC vegetarian magazine from years ago. The original involved cranberries and cheese and a festive ring. It looked fantastic but I don’t like savory things which taste sweet, and this seemed like a much better option. It is basically a prettified mushroom tart, that can be served up with a vegetarian gravy and roast potatoes and all the trimmings. Merry Christmas!

For the filling

  • butter
  • two red onions, diced
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, diced
  • three punnets of mushrooms, wiped, sliced and diced
  • a glass of white wine
  • thyme
  • parsley
  • frozen spinach, thawed, drained
  • Stilton

For the pastry

  • One and a half packs of puff pastry
  • Egg – whisked


  • rosemary
  • bay

Do the boring stuff – line a ring with butter and baking parchment.

Then, melt some butter in a frying pan, gently cook the butter and garlic. Add the mushrooms and cook down.

Add the wine, and reduce. I took some of the liquid and used it as a base for my gravy. Add the herbs.

Next comes the pastry. I planned all sorts of geometry for this, but in the end did a bish bash bosh and crossed my fingers.

I cut a ring of pastry for the bottom of the pie tin, layered in the mushrooms, spinach, and more mushrooms and topped it off with some Stilton. Then I arranged some strips of pastry over the top of the pie, tucked it in, decorated with some pastry leaves, brushed  them with egg and hoped for the best.

Then in the oven for 30 minutes.

Add the garnish for a festive feel.

I cooked mine on Christmas Eve, to be heated up on Christmas Day. Heating times are a bit vague because an Aga was involved.




A Korean restaurant recently opened near us. It is tiny, and hardly has any customers, but we just love this sharing starter. I haven’t quite captured the taste and texture of the real thing, but this is pretty lovely. We tend to have it on a Saturday evening, whilst playing Frustration with the children.




  • 75g flour (I am playing around with a combination of plain flour and rice flour)
  • 1 tsp Swiss bouillon powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml cold water
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 100g prawns, chopped
  • sometimes I also add peas/asparagus/bok choi
  • oil for cooking

Dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • some toasted sesame seeds

You need a good, non stick frying pan for this.

Make up the batter and add the prawns and veg.

Heat the oil in the pan and add the batter. Cook up the pancake, turn half-way through.

Whilst the pancake is cooking mix up the dipping sauce.

When the pancake is cooked, chop into squares.


Make another one because the first one has gone too quickly…



This is a meal that I tend to do when I’m home alone. Its a no-fuss, let’s see what we have kind of meal. And I’m the only one that likes tinned tomatoes.



You can play around with any of the ingredients, so long as you have fish, veg, and tinned tomatoes.

Here’s the basics:

  • 1 onion
  • 1/2 leek
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1-2 cans of tomatoes
  • 2 frozen fish fillets – I tend to go for basa or haddock. You can add fresh salmon towards the end of cooking time.
  • chopped anchovies
  • capers
  • olives
  • chilli flakes
  • king prawns or clams (in their shells)
  • green beans
  • frozen peas
  • chopped asparagus
  • sliced ginger
  • sliced kale
  • some basil leaves
  • parsley

You can be very flexible with the ingredients. I gently fry the onion and garlic, then add the tinned tomatoes.

I put the fish in frozen – it takes bout 20 minutes to cook though.

Then I add frozen peas, capers and olives

Add the veg and prawns, with a mind to cooking times, and finally the basil – or parsley

If I have rice or pasta cooked, that’s fine. Otherwise it is lovely in a bowl, eaten with a spoon, in front of the TV.


Here’s another one-tray fish dish. Sorry for being so complicated:



  • 4 spring onions (sliced)
  • 5-7 (or more) asparagus spears (sliced)
  • fresh ginger
  • 2 boc choi (sliced)
  • some tiny tomatoes (halved)
  • 2 salmon steaks
  • 2 tsp sesame oil
  • 2 tsp tamari
  • 2 tsp mirin

Cook for 25 minutes.

I’m going to have this with a little brown rice.







People kept asking us to bring leftovers to our post-Christmas parties. To be honest, by New Years Eve we had long run out, so I chose to make and bring along this tried and tested vegetarian favourite by Yotam Ottolenghi. It is really remarkably easy, but tastes delicious and looks fabulous. It was put together and baked in less than half an hour and I carried it over the road to our party as soon as our oven timer went beep.


For the base:

  • 1 block puff pastry, with milk or egg to glaze the edges

For the tomato paste:

  • 10 sun-dried tomatoes (I used sun-dried tomatoes preserved in olive oil)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • a sprinkling of dried chilli flakes
  • a sprinkling of dried oregano

For the topping:

  • 100/150g goats’ cheese, crumbled/daubed evenly over the base
  • 450g red, yellow, purple or green tomatoes of various sizes, sliced 2mm thick
  • some stalks and picked leaves of fresh thyme
  • a drizzle of olive oil

Set the oven to 200C. Line an oven tray with baking parchment.

Roll out the pastry onto a floured surface, then transfer onto the baking tray.

Score the edges of the tart with a sharp knife (to about an inch from the edge). Glaze the scored part of the pastry with milk or beaten egg.

Put the sun-dried tomatoes, garlic, chilli and oregano into a small bowl and whizz together to make a paste. If necessary add a little water.

Spread the paste on the pastry base, avoiding the scored edges.

Add the goats’ cheese.

Then cover the tomato paste/cheese with slightly overlapping layers of tomato, again avoiding the scored edges.

Drizzle some olive oil and add the thyme.

Bake for 15-20 minutes ensuring the base is cooked and the top not burnt.

Enjoy at a (warm) room temperature.





Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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