26 Feb 2015

Tom Kerridge's London Particular (Pea and bacon soup recipe)

This is not a soup. This is a bedtime story. 
A recipe with a history, like I love them so.
A dish that takes you to another time, another life. It's like a good book, but that you can savour with a spoon....

A the end of the XIXth and the beginning of the XXth centuries, most big British cities and London were often covered in a yellow-green dense fog, mixing the fog coming up from the Thames and the city's chimneys' fumes. 
This fog, often qualified of a "pea-soup fog" was called The London Fog, or The London Particular
It's this fog that gave its name to this thick yellow-green pea and bacon soup. 

Tom Kerridge's London Particular
Pea, bacon and mint soup

This soup is delicious. 
The bacon, the vegetables reduced in malt vinegar and sugar and the mint give it a real depth of flavour and so many layers of aromas.


50g butter
250g bacon lardons
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
1 carrot, diced
50g caster sugar
100ml malt vinegar
200g dry split peas
1.25-1.5 litres chicken/ham stock
1 bunch rosemary tied together
2 bay leaves
2 handfuls mint leaves, save some to garnish
2 tbsp creme fraiche
Croutons, to garnish


1/ Heat up a large saucepan and melt the butter. Add the bacon and fry until browned and crispy, then remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.

2/ Add the diced vegetables to the saucepan and cook in the bacon fat and butter until soft. Add the caster sugar, then the malt vinegar. Bring to the boil and reduce until the vinegar has completely evaporated.

3/ Add the split peas, then cover with the ham or chicken stock. Bring to the boil. Turn it down to a simmer, then add the rosemary and bay leaves. Cook gently for 45-50 minutes, until the peas are soft and cooked. Remove from the heat and take out the rosemary and bay leaves.

4/ Blend the soup in a jug blender with the mint leaves and creme fraiche until smooth. Season and pass through a fine sieve. Serve with the crispy bacon, croutons and a few mint leaves. 

Recipe adapted from Tom Kerridge's London Particular

12 Feb 2015

The Outrageous Chocolate Cake: chocolate & meringue mousse, brownies

Superfood, raw food, GI rating, detox...I' m not going to talk to you about any of these today. 
This recipe is one of these which ambition is to break all the rules of reason, and pack as much indulgence and flavour as possible in one single cake. 
To all chocolate lovers in the world, I want to say : this one is a winner. 
It's naughty. Worse, it's outrageous.
But my dear, it's so good.

My ultimate Chocolate Cake: 
A chocolate & meringue mousse on top of a brownie base

Chocolate brownie base


250g good quality cocoa chocolate (I used Valrhona)
250g unsalted butter
300g golden caster sugar
3 large eggs, plus 1 extra egg yolk, lightly beaten
60g plain flour
½ tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
60g good quality cocoa powder


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180deg C, and line the bottom of a loose base cake tin with baking parchment and butter up the parchment and tin.

2. Set a bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, and add 200g of the chocolate, broken into pieces. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat immediately.

3. Meanwhile, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, and break the rest of the chocolate into chips.

4. With the mixer still running, gradually add the eggs, beating well between each addition to ensure it's thoroughly incorporated before pouring in any more. Leave mixing on a high speed for five minutes until the batter has a silky sheen, and has increased in volume.

5. Remove the bowl from the mixer, and gently fold in the melted chocolate and chocolate chips with a metal spoon, followed by the sifted flour, baking powder, salt, cocoa powder.

6. Spoon the mixture into the tin, and bake for 30 minutes. Test with a skewer; it should come out sticky, but not coated with raw mixture. If it does, put it back into the oven for another 3 minutes, then test again.

7. When the brownies are ready, remove the tin from the oven and place it in a cool place (I put mine out in the garden) to cool completely. Once cold, cover the sides left free of the tin with a large string of cling film all around (optional, but it will prevent the mousse from sticking to the sides of the tin)

Chocolate and meringue mousse


250g good quality cocoa chocolate 
6 eggs
1 or 2 supermarket bought meringue nests (optional), broken into coarse pieces + 1 for decoration
a pinch of salt


1/ Set a medium bowl over, but not touching, a pan of simmering water, and add the chocolate, broken into pieces. Allow to melt, stirring occasionally, and then remove from the heat. Leave to cool while you do the next step.

2/ Separate the eggs and place the whites and a pinch of salt in a big bowl (or in the clean bowl of a baking mixer). With an electric whisk,  whisk the white until firm. 

3/ Add the egg yolks to the melted chocolate one at a time and mix well between each addition with a wooden spoon.

4/ Fold very gently and carefully the whisked egg whites a little at a time in the chocolate mixture, making sure you don't break the white not to loose the air within the whites and get a light mousse texture. Once all the whites have been folded, fold in the meringue pieces carefully. Pour and level the mousse over the cooled down brownie base, and transfer to the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. 

5/ Loosen the cake tin sides and bottom, carefully peel the cling film from the sides. Loosen the brownie from the cake tin base with a pallet knife and transfer to a cake stand.
Decorate the top of the cake with broken meringue nest pieces.

Chocolate brownie recipe from Felicity Cloake

5 Feb 2015

Beef and Guinness Stew

When I was a kid, my family nicknamed me "Miss Catastrophe" because I was so clumsy and broke pretty much everything that came into my hands.
I was tiny (my other nickname was "half-pint") but still I found it hard to fit my body and its movements into my surroundings and I would continuously bump into things, trip and fall over, and generally mess everything around.
Growing up, I became over-cautious and managed to almost hide that side of me.

Picture me on a Sunday night, proud of my delicious smelling Beef and Guinness stew served with lovely dumplings and green peas.

A plate in each hand, I crossed the flat to joint The Man in the lounge and tripped on the stairs. From there everything moved in slow motion. The plates broken in a million pieces, tomato juice splattered up to 1m high over the wall, green peas everywhere (we still found some hidden in the room next door a week later), and the stew and dumplings widely spread over The Man's beautiful antique Persian carpet.
Miss Catastrophe always comes back for more trouble!

Beef and Guinness Stew

I adapted this recipe from Jamie Oliver and I like it very much before it is delicious and even easier to make than most beef stew. It doesn't call for browning the meat first, which (although it is very easy to do) I usually can't be asked to do. 
You do have to gently fry the vegs first though, but that's totally fuss free. 
Compared to Jamie's, my recipe calls for more stock and a longer cooking time, to make the beef even tenderer and the stew even better. 
It needs to cook for a long time, but it literally takes 15min to prepare. It also reheat great, so you can make it the day before if you prefer. 
Ingredients, for 4 people
500 g quality diced stewing beef
A pint of Guinness
A pint of beef or vegetable stock
400 g tinned chopped tomatoes
2 sticks of celery
1 medium onion
2 carrots
3 fresh or dried bay leaves
Olive oil
1 heaped tablespoon plain flour
Salt and pepper 

If using the oven to cook your stew, preheat it to 160ºC.

1/ Trim the ends off your celery and chop the sticks. Peel and chop the onions. Peel the carrots, chop into small sticks

2/ Put a casserole pan on a medium heat. Put all the vegetables and the bay leaves into the pan with 2 tbsp olive oil and gently fry for 10 minutes.

3/ Add the meat and flour. Pour in the Guinness, tinned tomatoes. Give it a good stir, then season salt and pepper

4/ Bring to the boil, put the lid on and either simmer slowly on the hob or cook in an oven for 5 hours, adding a little bit of the stock every now and then as the sauce reduce until you’ve used it all and the sauce has reduced to the desired consistency. The longer your cook the stew, the tenderer the meat will become, so it’s worth the wait.

5/ Remove the bay leaves before serving, and adjust seasoning with more salt and pepper if need be. You can eat your stew as it is, or add dumplings to it.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Oliver's beef and ale stew