Monthly Archives: January 2013

Tuesday 22nd January 2013






Charred Lamb with Baba Ganoush, Harissa and New Potatoes

This picture does not quite do justice to what was a very yummy dinner!  It is a mishmash of many different recipes, but as similar as I can manage to a dish I had twice at The Ivy in 2011.

The lamb steaks were marinated in 1tbsp runny honey, 2 tbsp dry sherry, 1 tsp paprika and salt & pepper for a couple of hours.  They were then simply griddled until charred on the outside and a little pink on the inside.  I poured the marinating juice over them for the last 5 mins and popped them in the oven to keep warm. They are sitting on top of some new potatoes, green beans and runner beans, all cooked ‘al dente’ I guess, and great at soaking up the juicy gravy. There are 3 little dollops of sauce- only 1 homemade I’m afraid!  On the left is a spoonful of roasted red pepper puree bought from Waitrose and on the right is a tbsp of rose harissa.  I did, however, make the baba ganoush in the middle and here’s the recipe:

Baba Ganoush

1 aubergine

olive oil

1 tbsp tahini

1/2 lemon, juiced


  • stab the aubergine all over with a fork, massage it with some olive oil and bake in a hot oven for 45 mins, until blackened all over and soft inside.  Remove from the oven and leave until you can handle it without burning your hands off!
  • Remove the skin from the aubergine- it comes off really easy.  Discard the skin and chop the flesh finely.
  • In a bowl mix the aubergine flesh, tahini, lemon juice and salt & pepper till thoroughly mixed and looking like a dip.  Eat it all up!

I have made a version of this with 1 tbsp thick greek yogurt instead of tahini if you don’t have any and it was almost as good.  Tahini is worth getting in though as it lasts for ages in the back of the cupboard….

Tomorrow we are venturing out now the snow has almost gone- a day in London on the cards with a nice lunch out.  The week off work is flying over far too quickly- as always!


Monday 21st January 2013

Still on holiday, still snowy!  But, after a morning visit to the gym (!) we ventured out to Richmond for lunch and shopping.  Check out the Restaurant page for what we had……

An old favourite for dinner- Kebab Night- unusual on a Monday night but very much appreciated.  Nothing different from before but we had some chapatis left over from our Curry Night on Saturday so we used them instead of flat bread or pitta.  The spicy lamb balls were a triumph and led to a massive did for me: I made 11, ate 4, and do not need a calculator to see I did not get my fair share.  Colin on washing up duty.

Sunday 20th January 2012

A snowy, snowy day: we only ventured out briefly to buy newspapers and look at all the snowmen on Twickenham Common, very sweet!  I spent part of the day updating ‘My Library’ page- quite nerdy really but for the first time I have a list of all my books in one place.  May be it’ll make it easier for Colin when buying me presents as he can see what I’ve already got….. hint hint hint.

Soup was called for to warm us up.  I saw a recipe for a bean soup with chorizo in it, but didn’t fancy chorizo so I’ve adapted the recipe to keep the paprika flavour without the oilness.


Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Borlotti Beans

1 large red pepper

6 large tomatoes

salt & pepper

2 tsps paprika

olive oil

1/2 litre vegetable stock

1 tin borlotti beans

  • heat the oven up to hot.
  • chop up the pepper and tomatoes and place on a baking sheet.  Sprinkle with salt & pepper and paprika and drizzle with olive oil.
  • bake in the oven for 40 mins until soft and slightly browned around the edges.
  • pop the veggies into a food processor and blitz, or blend with a stick blender.  Pour into a pan, add the stock and beans and heat through.

It was lovely and warming on a wintry day.  We ate it with some good bread, a couple of sausage rolls and 2 cheeses- a Montgomery Cheddar and a Shropshire Blue.  Lovely.

For dinner we had a pheasant!  They were on sale at the butchers in Twickenham so I thought I’d test out Colin’s new love of game (well partridge and quail!).  I braised it in a large pan  in the oven, covered, with new potatoes, celery, sage and white wine, for about 45 mins until cooked through. I then took the lid off to let it brown while I cooked some carrots.  I really liked it- the bird was still juicy and the celery, sagey, winey juices were delicious.  Colin, however, enjoyed the taste but was not so keen on the texture of the pheasant so only ate a bit of it with lots of the veggies.  I’m pleased he gave it a chance though and I’d definitely try the recipe again with some chicken breasts or some little quail men.

Saturday 19th January 2013

Saturday night is curry night! And, more often then not these days it’s Veggie curry night, and I thought it would be good to try some new variations and maybe find some new favourites. So….


From left to right we have Aubergine & Onion, 4 lentil dal, Cauliflower & Tomato, Potato Bondas and some wholewheat chapattis.  They were all good, and the aubergine and potato will definately be served up again.  The aubergine was, in fact, a revelation- it didn’t look particularly lovely but was so spicy and tasty that we finished the lot.  Here’s the recipes for the 2 veggie superstars.

Aubergine & Onion

Adapted from “Tasting India” by Christine Manfield

1 tbsp vegetable oil (although we used walnut oil)

1 small onion, sliced into half moons

1 clove garlic, chopped

1 green chilli, sliced

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 small aubergine, chopped into small bitesize chunks

1 tsp garam masala

  • heat the oil and fry the onion until soft.  Add the garlic and chilli and cook for 2 mins.
  • add the cumin seeds, coriander and turmeric and mix together.  Add the aubergine and mix together until the aubergine is coated in the spicy onion mixture.
  • add some water- up to about half way up the aubergine.  Not too much as you can always add a little more if it starts to look a bit dry.
  • stir through the garam masala.
  • cook for 20 mins until the aubergine is soft and brown.  I did this in the over, covered in foil, as the oven was already on.

I would really recommend you try this as it was lovely, despite not looking particularly yummy!  It goes so well with the chapatti.

Potato Bondas

Adapted from “World Food Cafe” by Chris & Carolyn Caldicott

4 medium potatoes, cooked and mashed

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp desiccated coconut

3 green chillis, chopped

1in piece fresh ginger, chopped

1 tsp sesame seeds

1 tsp garam masala

juice of 1/2 lime

coriander leaves, chopped

3 tbsp gram flour (chickpea flour, or you could use plain flour)

pinch salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 tsp chilli powder

  • mix all the ingredients from the flour down together, adding some water a little bit at a time until you make a thick batter.
  • mix all the rest of the ingredients together well and mould into small balls.
  • heat some oil in a frying pan.  Dip the balls in the batter and fry on all sides until nicely browned.
  • transfer to a baking sheet and finish in a hot oven for 15 mins.  This guarantees they are hot all the way through and get crispy on the outside without using too much oil

Colin really liked these and they did not last long on the plate!

We both enjoy having these small plates where you can try a little of several different flavours.  This, however, is not the same case when we order a takeaway- habit I guess!

Here’s to a restful and yummy weeks holiday in the French Thomas household.

Friday 18th January 2013


Today is the first day of my 9 day holiday and I have been greeted with a very pretty picture of snow outside our window! I am so pleased I do not have to attempt to drive down to Horsham in this weather.  Luckily we have lots of food and wine so all is good and we can snuggle up warm and happy.

The last couple of days have been quiet on the food front due to me coming home late- firstly because my car broke down with a flat tire just outside Lewes in the freezing cold and I had to wait for the recovery man to come out, and secondly a late shift at work.  However, Colin came to the rescue with a good, hot chilli, which saved the day and was absolutely what the doctor ordered!  As a thank you the nibble tin has been topped up!



Tonight I made a new take on a shepherds pie, a variation on a Sophie Conran recipe which was lovely (although Colin was not as keen as he would have preferred mince in the pie rather that the stewing steak).  The filling of the pie was stewing steak, onions, carrots, juniper berries, thyme, rosemary, a bottle of Belgian beer and some beef stock.  This was simmered down until the meat was cooked and the sauce thick, then put into a pie dish and topped with masked potato and sweet potato.  I would definately make it again but use minced beef instead- I really liked the topping which both looked and tasted great with the orangeness of the sweet potato.  We served this with some peas (sorry Marie!) and runner beans and a lovely bottle of Valpolicella.  Poor Colin has to work tomorrow but then we are off for a week and I can’t wait!!!

On Thursday it was Barbara’s birthday so Happy Birthday and we raise a glass of wine to you!  Enjoy the sunshine (we are all jealous…).


Monday 14th January 2013


On Monday night it was Colin’s turn to make dinner as I was back home late after interviewing all day.  He decided on making a Thai Green Chicken Curry as we’ve not had one for ages and he’s made some brilliant ones in the past.  Tonight,unfortunately, was not a vintage effort!  A misunderstanding with the recipe meant the entire pot of thai paste went into the sauce making it super, super hot!  

I am writing this on Tuesday night and it was my turn to make a disaster!  I made a lovely pasta sauce with some chorizo, garlic and tomatoes- nice and thick and juicy.  However, the pasta would just not cook at all and was very chewy.  I managed to chew my way through, but Colin only managed to eat the sauce…..  Luckily ice cream in the freezer has taken the hunger away! 

I’m hoping for better luck tomorrow as it’s Colin’s world famous chilli!


Sunday 13th January 2013

Lunch for Colin!!!



A well-deserved day off today where the batteries were recharged.  For lunch some bought in fishcakes and chips with some mushy peas, followed by a film in the afternoon- lovely day.

I remembered I had a beef fillet in the freezer so I thought I’d make a take on an Italian tagliata this evening.  I seared the seasoned fillet on the griddle pan until nicely charred, before putting in a hot oven for 45 mins.  I actually wish I had cooked it for a bit less as it was definately cooked through, not quite the charred outside and juicy inside I was hoping for.  Saying that it was very tasty and the leftovers made a very good lunch today.  With the beef we had some home made oven chips, tossed at the last minute with some salt and  some merguez spices.  The veggie side was some broccoli, lightly blanched and then sauteed in a little olive oil, sliced garlic and red chilli.  It all worked together very well, drizzled with the juices from the beef.


It’s not often I make a dessert but this recipe from one of my favourite cooks, Diana Henry, caught my eye- and is a little nod to the in-laws enjoying themselves in Tenerife this January!

ImageSherry Cheesecake


  • 90g crushed digestive biscuits
  • 20g roasted, crushed hazelnuts
  • 20g unsalted butter


  • 750g mascarpone/ cream cheese
  • 115g icing sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 vanilla pod, scraped of seeds
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 50ml sherry (a pedro ximenez was used here and was lovely)
  • zest of 1 lemon

Combine the base ingredients and press into a 7″ cake tin.  Chill in the fridge for 30 mins.

Preheat oven to 170.

Put the mascarpone in a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Add the rest of the ingredients, except the lemon, and blend well.  Stir in the lemon zest.

Pour the filling over the base and bake in the oven for 40 mins until just set.  Cool, and leave in the fridge for 2 hours to set before serving.

Serve sprinkled with some more chopped hazelnuts and a glass of the sherry!




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