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A Fishy Dinner, A Tale of 2 Gnocchi, and a Sciatica Soothing Pasta!

Three really lovely meals this week, well worthy of a mention! I am writing them up now with the 3rd football match of the day on the TV…. I can’t blame anyone but myself as I have had the control of the remote control!!!

The first lovely meal is this….


Marinated Cod with Spiced Aubergines

This is loosely based on a Gordon Ramsay recipe, but adapted as (a) I couldn’t buy any halibut, and (b) I really don’t like raisins in savoury food….. Instead I used cod, upped the spice and a little more aubergine. It was completely delicious, I could eat it every day! Here’s the recipe- (for 1 hungry person)

1 cod fillet

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 aubergine, cut into cubes

1 onion, sliced into half moon

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp chilli flakes

1 tin chopped tomatoes

squeeze lemon juice

  • drizzle the oil over the fish and rub in the turmeric with some salt and pepper. Leave for about half on hour to marinade.
  • heat the oven to 200.
  • toss the aubergine in some olive oil and salt and pepper, pop on a baking sheet and pop into the oven for 20 mins.
  • in a pan heat some olive oil and fry the onions until soft. Add the cumin and chilli, then add the tomatoes and cook down for 15 mins. Take the Aubergines out of the oven and add to the sauce. Cook all together for 10 mins.
  • fry the cod in a pan on both sides until cooked through and golden. Serve sitting on top of the sauce.

It was really tasty, filling and healthy too!!!

The following evening it was a tale of 2 gnocchi!!! (Not sure what the plural of gnocchi is?).


The gnocchi were bought from La Tua in Borough Market, where I often buy fresh pasta and tortellini. First time for the gnocchi and they were good. On the left, for C were normal gnocchi, with a Carluccio wild boar sauce and some chunky pesto. On the left for me some gnocchi that were bigger and filled with walnuts and Gorgonzola, with a piccante tomato sauce and the same chunky pesto. Really nice, despite me not being a massive gnocchi fan, and a fairly light dinner after a long day.

Which leads me onto today. I have not been to work as I have a flair up of the sciatica I had nastily last year. Not as bad, but not pleasant, so looking after myself and being sensible Jo! So… A sciatica soothing pasta was called for!


This was really soothing in so many ways, despite being a subtle way of using up bits and bobs of veg in the fridge! Whilst the penne was cooking I sautéed some onion, green pepper, asparagus tips and sweet corn in some olive oil. Once the pasta was cooked I drained it and added it to the veg. To it I added a tbsp of mascarpone and a handful of shropshire blue cheese, with some pepper. I stirred it all together on a low heat until all melded together and gorgeously yummy.

So my back is sore, but my tum is full and happy. Surely that’ll get me firmly on the road to recovery??




A Tuesday Day Off!

Firstly a very happy birthday to my lovely sister and Dad, both born on the same day, albeit several years apart!!!

Today, an unusual Tuesday day off, all domestics done so a day of pottering around and some tasty food.

For my lunch I have made something incredibly healthy, but super lovely! I will dedicate this to the birthday girl…. I think she’d love it.


Tuna Ceviche with Charred Lettuce and Avocado

This beautiful plate of food comes from the Madelaine Shaw book ‘Ready, Steady, Glow’. The fresh tuna sat in a little bowl with some fresh ginger, lime juice, soy and sesame oil, while I charred some lettuce and mashed some avocado with some chilli. Sprinkled with some toasted sesame seeds and spring onion for some crunch and red chilli for heat, this was a very vibrant and happy lunch.

I am currently writing a little book for a friends upcoming birthday and this will definitely make the cut, with maybe a few minor tweaks.

Tonight I am looking at some fish with a spicy aubergine mush….. fingers crossed.

Dinner, by Heston Blumenthal

When I found out that I was going to Dinner this Saturday I have to admit to being a little concerned…. I mean I love an adventurous menu but what an earth is ‘Meat Fruit’, or ‘Rice and Flesh’? I have never had a yearning for food from the 17th or 18th centuries, and am at times turned off by the formality of a Michelin Star ( and Dinner is one of only 11 London restaurant awarded 2 prestigious Michelin stars).

However, WOW, WOW, WOW, I 💞 it- the food, the service, the ambiance, the whole caboodle!!!

Heston himself was there having lunch with a group of friends. It must be a good sign when the creator of the concept is happy to have a relaxed Saturday lunch there.

I didn’t take a lot of photos as I was worried it wasn’t allowed…. However, I saw other people doing so and decided to do so from main courses onwards. So let me tell you all about it!



My dining companion had the famous ‘Meat Fruit’, pictured here. It is a chicken liver parfait within a mandarin concoction which I couldn’t quite figure out- not a jelly like substance, quite like the texture of a really fresh mandarin. It was really gorgeous, rich and savoury, with extra toast for the pate.

I had the Earl Grey Tea cured Salmon, which was utterly lovely. There was a salad of chicory and sorrel, a lemon salad, gentlemans relish and salmon roe. I thought it was so pretty and went so well with the vintage, rose champagne being consumed….

Main Course


I decided to try the Iberico Pork Chop as I have not had Iberco pork before, and it was really good. There was a little spelt and ham stew wrapped in Lardo on the side which was really amazing, made even more tasty with the Robert sauce. I loved it!

My dining companion decided to have the Spiced Pigeon with ale and artichokes, and (of course) triple cooked chips on the side. The pigeon was a real picture on the plate and was declared to be a great success. The chips were nice, but I have had crunchier, groovier chips I have to admit.


We weren’t going to have dessert but the waitress told me that the Tipsy Cake with spit roast pineapple changed her life when she first tasted it 2 years ago- how on earth could I say no to that!!!

 The cake was like a brioche and dowsed in something lovely and boozy! I was watching the pineapples roasting on their spit and couldn’t have left without trying. On the other side of the table was the Chocolate Bar- with passion fruit jam and ginger ice cream. Mine was definitely the best!

So, a great lunch in a great restaurant with yummy food and delightful service. Would I go back? Definitely! Now to find someone rich to take me back…….

Bonfire Night

Before I write about any food tonight I must declare that I am in love with Nick Cave… Tonight watching a documentary/drama about him and so remember a night many years ago seeing him in Hammersmith with my Belgian friend Tineke. I so love his intellectual quirkiness… 

So, back to earth!

I’m having a few days off work and have done some relaxing and recharging of the batteries. Carluccios in Teddington for a nice lunch though, but a snooze meant early pjs and a pizza night.

I should claim I made these pizzas but must admit I bought them from M&S. Left hand Fiorentina for me. Right hand salami for C. 

I normally love these pizzas but there was meant to be a runny egg on the top, and it went hard even though I only put it in the oven the right amount of time. OK though, but a little disappointment. 

Tonight there are so many fireworks in Twickenham. You will know how much I adore fireworks so a happy night. 

A Tale of Two Pies

I think it is the dark evenings in Autumn that make me crave some comfort, and pies fit the bill! In the past I had a whole repertoire of recipes but now I am trying to avoid eating meat I have had to go back to the drawing board…. But 1 new pie tried at the weekend and an old fave eaten this evening.

So…. Up first…. Celeriac and Chestnut Pie


Not a massively attractive pie I must admit but really tasty! I made a mixture of sautéed celeriac, onions, cooked chestnuts and mixed nuts and popped it into some shortcrust pastry. Brushed with an egg and popped in the oven for 30 mins. Not eating meat makes you miss gravy so I have to admit there was some meaty stock in the gravy (in the cute owl jug!)- so it seems I need to master the art of veggie gravy.

i made this at the weekend instead of a Sunday roast. It was actually our 7year wedding anniversary so some good red wine was also consumed- and even though the weather was oddly, eerie foggy, it was a damn site better than our wedding day…. No umbrellas needed today!

Second up… Fish Pie


This fish pie is straight from a recipe by Nigel Slater, although instead of seafood mixed in with the white fish I use a fish pie mix from work (loving prepared at my fish counter this evening…). I made a white sauce with some prosecco and the milk/water mix I poached the fish in first. Topped with mash this has been a lovely end to a quietly calm day.

I know my Dad would love this so I dedicate it to him, recovering back home after heart surgery. Well done Mr French, I am glad the op didn’t dent your appetite!!

I have 5 days off work now, and I can’t wait for the lie in tomorrow morning.  Lots to do but looking forward to it.

And finally, a great friend of mine has painted this for me…. I love it, thank you, you have a real talent.


Thursday 29th October 2015

I have only been to Basingstoke twice in my life, today being the second time, and each time I get horribly lost- I go round and round in circles for what seems like hours! It actually reminds me of a time in Seville when I’d given up hope of ever finding the apartment again….

However, after being rained on I had a lovely catch up with a colleague in a very sweet tea shop, so worth the journey all in all. Maybe my next trip to Basingstoke will be third time lucky?

A rainy day called for a sunny, warm meal and that was exactly what was created:

Oven-baked Tomato and Herb Risotto


This is adapted from an Annie Bell recipe and was both easy and tasty, perfect for tired people in need of a pick me up. Here’s my recipe for it:

500ml vegetable stock, with a pinch of saffron

glug of olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 tin chopped tomatoes

Handful cherry tomatoes, chopped

150g risotto rice

150 ml dry white wine

Sprig of rosemary and thyme

✨ preheat the oven to 180 degrees

✨ heat the stock and saffron in a small pan

✨ in a heavy pan that can go into the oven, heat the oil and fry the onion for a couple of minutes until softened. Add the tomatoes for a minute or two, and then stir the rice into the pan.

✨ pour in the wine and reduce for a couple of minutes. Add the rosemary and the thyme. Put over the stock, season, cover with a lid and pop into the oven for 25 mins.

I took the lid off for the last 2 mins to reduce the liquid a little further. I have to admit to being a little sceptical about cooking a risotto in the oven but it really was lovely and will be a permanent feature in the French Thomas kitchen!


Hello again!

IMG_1518Well, 8 months have flown over with no posting from me but a lot has happened in that time…

  • so much lovely food has been consumed at home and in restaurant, in London, Ludlow, Milan and Puglia
  • I opened a new shop which took ALOT of time, energy and focus (but well worth it)
  • I tried to start running……….

But this morning a friend of mine set me a 4 point challenge for the day, et voila! is back!I will look forward to sharing some great foodie ideas with you. In the meantime here are a few photos of some happy times.IMG_1651



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