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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

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.







My version of the classic.


  • 1/2 leek, sliced 
  • 1/2 fennel, sliced 
  • two rainbow trout – gutted, cleaned, but heads, bones and tails intact
  • 2-4 cloves of garlic, either halved or left whole
  • 1/2 lemon, cut lengthways into chunks
  • a handful of flaked almonds

Set the oven to 200c

Scatter the leeks and fennel on the base of a baking tray. Make three slashes in each fish and lay them on top of the vegetables. Wedge the lemon and garlic between the fish.

You could add a splash of olive oil and/or some white wine. On this occasion I didn’t.

Bake for 25 minutes.



I made this for a really special occasion. A romantic night in with my husband of ten years. A candlelit dinner no-less.

This is an Angela Hartnett recipe, Sea bream with brown shrimps and capers.    Having made this, I am also anxious to try Dover sole with butter and brown shrimp from A Taste of Home.


I was in my local fishmonger‘s a couple of weeks ago, and my eyes were caught by some skate cheeks. These are something I have never cooked with. They look a little like scallops, and I have learnt since that you can treat them in the same way. But the fishmonger recommended a fish curry. I turned to Nigella as my inspiration, and this is what I came up with:


  • Skate cheeks (I’m not sure what the weight was, I asked the fishmonger for enough for two people, she gave me perhaps 10-12 pieces)
  • a little salt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 1 red onion, finely sliced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • chilli
  • 1 inch or so of fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 400ml can of coconut milk
  • 3 tsp tamarind paste
  • 1 fish-stock cube
  • chopped coriander

As instructed by Nigella, sprinkle the fish with a little salt, and a teaspoon of turmeric. Return it to the ‘fridge whilst you get on with the sauce.

Gently fry the onion, garlic, chilli, and garlic until softened. Add the cumin and remaining turmeric.

Add the coconut milk, tamarind paste, fish stock cube and a little boiling water to the mix.

Allow to simmer for ten minutes or so.

Cool slightly. Then, using a hand-blender, whizz the sauce to a smooth consistency.

If you are making the sauce ahead of time, this is a good time to stop.

Otherwise, if you are just about ready to eat, add the fish to the sauce and simmer for five minutes or so. Skate cheeks have a single bone, which you can (in a very sophisticated manner) spit out whilst eating.

Serve with rice, and a sprinkling of coriander.



This is a companion piece to the clams, and made almost exactly the same way. What made these extra special to me, is that I made this dish whilst we were on holiday in the Vendée. The mussels couldn’t have been more local, and we ate them outdoors on a beautiful, sunny evening.


  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • about 1kg mussels (in their shells)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • about 3 tablespoons of chopped, flat-leaved parsley

First of all, rinse and de-beard the mussels.

Melt the butter, add the onion and garlic and cook under a low heat until soft, not brown.

Throw in the wine and the mussles. Put a lid on the pan and steam for 5 minutes.

Add the parsley and stir.

Discard any mussels that do not open.

Enjoy with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.




I often try to cook something special on a Friday night. We’ve been so busy recently that it has been a bit of a struggle, but you can’t get much better than this fantastic starter: fresh, simple, delicious.  A perfect start to the weekend.


  • 50g butter
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • about 1kg clams (in their shells)
  • 1 glass of white wine
  • about 3 tablespoons of chopped, flat-leaved parsley

I’ve never cooked clams before so I asked the fishmonger at Soper’s what to do. She advised me to give the clams just a cursory rinse in cold water before cooking. So that is what I did:

Give the clams a cursory rinse in cold water.

Melt the butter, add the onion and garlic and cook under a low heat until soft, not brown.

Throw in the wine and the clams. Put a lid on the pan and steam for 5 minutes.

Add the parsley and stir.

Discard any clams that do not open.

Enjoy with some crusty bread to soak up the juices.

Serves 4 as a starter.


I was going to do this with sardines, but the fishmonger didn’t have any. Anyway, the herring worked out perfectly, and I felt less awkward about asking for them to be filleted.


  • 6 cherry tomatoes
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic
  • olive oil
  • linguine
  • 1/2 bulb of fennel, sliced
  • 3 herring fillets, chopped into bitesize chunks
  • 1/2 lemon – zest and juice
  • parsley, finely chopped
  • rocket

Optional extras

  • a splash of white wine
  • red chilli, finely chopped, or some chilli flakes
  • toasted pine nuts
  • anchovies

First of all, roast the tomatoes and garlic with a little olive oil. This takes about 20 minutes and can be done in advance, if you’re using the oven for something else.

Cook the linguine according to the instructions on the packet.

Meanwhile slice the fennel, and fry it in a little olive oil. One it has started to caramelise, add the herring.

Add the cooked, drained linguine to the pan.

Stir in the roast tomatoes and garlic, lemon zest and juice, parsley and rocket.

I served with samphire.


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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