27 Aug 2015

Pistachio and yoghurt cake

I have been acting for almost 15 years. In a few days, my parents who are coming to visit The Man and I in London (yeah!), will see me act on stage for the first time. 
I have acted in front of journalists, ambassadors, and all sorts of important people over the years, but I have never been as nervous as I am now.
Funny how our need for recognition from the ones we love is more important than anything else.
Wish me luck!

Pistachio and yoghurt cake

I love pistachio and am often disappointed when I cook or bake with it because I always wish the resulting dish tasted stronger of pistachio. Contrary to almond or walnut, pistachio does have quite a subtle flavour.
However, this cake is really moist and light, and frankly quite lovely.

For the sponge: 
2 x 150 g pots of natural yoghurt
100g pistachio kernels, unsalted
1 x 150 g yoghurt pot of caster sugar
1 x 150 g yoghurt pot of sunflower oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten 
2 x 150 g yoghurt pots of plain flour 
2 tsp baking powder 
½ tsp sea salt

1/ Preheat the oven to 160°C. Grease a 20cm cake tin then lightly dust it with flour.

2/ Empty the contents of the yoghurt pots into a bowl, then wash and dry them ready to measure the remaining ingredients. 

3/ Reduce the pistachios to a fine powder in a food mixer. 

4/ In a large bowl, whisk the caster sugar and oil with an electric hand whisk for 2 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved. Gradually add the eggs and vanilla extract.

5/ Fold in the yoghurt, then add the flour, baking powder, salt and ground pistachios and gently fold them in. 

6/ Spoon the batter into the tin. Bake for 50 minutes or until a skewer comes out just clean. Leave to cool for 5 to 10 minutes, and turn out on to a wire rack to cool completely before eating. If you wish, you can lightly dust it with icing sugar, or coat it with icing.

Recipe from Rachel Koo

21 Aug 2015

My healthy nutty granola

Despite what I used to believe, granola is often not that healthy a breakfast, as it's packed with fat, sugar and dried fruits (which are very sweet). When discovering how deceiving my shop bought granola had been to me, I stopped eating any altogether. 
Then I missed it, and I slowly came to the realisation that there had to be a way of making my own healthier granola by reducing the fat, the sweetening agent, and nut and fruits, while still enjoying a luxurious and crunchy breakfast. And I did!

My healthy nutty granola

Looking into Felicity Cloake's (The Guardian) research on the topic of homemade granola, I opted for her choice of coconut oil as the fat, and the addition of an egg white for crunchiness. I stayed with golden syrup, my favourite, for the sweetening agent, while reducing drastically the quantities called by most recipes.The results is a nice crunchy and nutty granola, which is not too sweet. If you would like is more fruity, why not add fresh fruits to it when serving?

250g rolled oats
30g coconut oil
45g golden syrup
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 good pinch of flaked sea salt
1 egg white, beaten until frothy
1 handful mixed nuts (I used brazil nuts, flaked almonds, pecans)
2 tbsp mixed seeds (I used pumpkin and sunflower seeds)
1 small handful dried fruits ( I used dried mangos)

Method to make your own granola

1/ Preheat the oven at 150deg C. Prepare a baking tray and line if with baking parchment.

2/ In a large bowl, mix all the dry ingredients

3/ In a small casserole, mix the coconut oil, golden syrup, vanilla essence and melt on a medium heat, mixing until well combined. Allow to cool slightly.

4/ Pour the oil/sweet mixture into the dry ingredients and mix well with a spatula until the dry ingredients are evenly coated in the wet mixture. 

5/ Add the frothy egg white and mix well again. 

6/ Pour the granola on the baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven for about 20min. Take out of the oven shake slightly and bring back into the oven. Bake for a further 10min or until golden (watch out, you do not want the granola to over bake or the nuts will taste burnt). 

7/ Take out of the oven and leave to cool completely. Break the granola in chunks, add the dried fruits cut into pieces and store in an airtight container. Eat within 10 days (after which it might lose its crunchiness).  

11 Aug 2015

Orange, polenta and almond cake

I  love London in the summer. 
Most of the best restaurants have promotional offers going on to fill the tables left empty by Londoners who’ve gone on holiday. Parks and monuments fill up with outdoor cinemas and fun fairs. The Southbank centre puts on amazing festivals, and the rooftop terraces are back in business. 
It is definitely one of my favourite seasons in which to enjoy this beautiful city of ours!

Orange, almond and polenta cake

This cake looks very simple and plain, but is one the nicest cakes I have eaten in a long time.
With the sponge infused with the orange syrup, the cake is so moist, luxurious and full of flavour. 
I served it with a homemade lemon thyme ice-cream, but a scoop of vanilla ice-cream or a good dollop of creme fraiche would do wonders too.


For the cake 
200 g soft unsalted butter
200 g caster sugar
200 g ground almonds
100 g fine polenta
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
3 large eggs
Zest of 4 oranges (save juice for syrup) 

For the syrup 
Juice of 4 oranges
50g g icing sugar


1/ Preheat the oven to 180°C

2/ Line the base of a 20-25 cm springform cake tin with baking parchment and grease it it all over with butter.

3/ By hand with a wooden spoon or with an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar till pale and fluffy.

4/ Mix together the almonds, polenta and baking powder, and beat some of this into the butter-sugar mixture. Add 1 egg, and mix a bit more. Then add some more of the dry ingredients, then another egg, and so on until you have added all the dry ingredients and eggs.

5/ Beat in the orange zest and spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.

6/ Bake in the oven for about 40 minutes or until a cake tester comes out just clean. The edges of the cake might have begun to shrink away from the sides of the tin. Remove from the oven on a cooling rack, and leave in the tin.

7/ Make the syrup: boil the orange juice with the icing sugar in a small pan, letting it thicken slightly (it will take about three to four minutes)

8/ Prick the top of the cake all over with a cake tester or a tooth pick, pour the warm syrup over the cake, and leave to cool completely before taking it out of its tin.

For this cake, I did a mix between recipes from Nigella Lawson and Jamie Oliver.

7 Aug 2015

Leek and Stilton quiche

Many Frenchies are convinced that France is the only country in the world which can make decent cheese. I have discovered that we, arrogant frogs, could not be further from the truth. We just need to look a bit further than those cheap plastic-like supermarket cheeses, and go to a proper cheesemonger, to discover our British neighbours' incredible cheese heritage.

The Man, who is a real cheese buff, has taken it upon himself to introduce me to the plethora of delicious British cheese that’s around. With over 700 named British cheeses, we are nowhere near done on tasting our way through them all!

Being a blue cheese lover, I have fallen in love with the likes of Stilton, Stichelton, Cashel blue, Shropshire blue...and love any opportunity to enjoy them with a good slice of bread or to bake with them.
If you want to discover more about British cheeses, take a look at the British Cheese Board website.

leek and blue cheese quiche recipe

Leek and Stilton Tart

Leek and blue cheese work so well together. And I love this British take on a classic easy French quiche.

I prefer a crumbly shortcrust pastry to a puff pastry for this tart. However if you love puff pastry, it will work as well. 

Ingredients (for 1 tart, 4 to 6 people)

1 shortcrust pastry
2 large leeks, washed and diced
3 eggs
Mustard (Dijon or English)
250ml creme fraiche (or double cream)
150 to 170g Stilton (to taste)
salt and pepper


1/ Preheat the oven to 180deg C.

2/ Take the pastry out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature.

3/ In a pan, cook the diced leeks on a low in a 10g of butter heat for about 15min until tender. Leave to cool.

4/ In the meantime, roll out the pastry onto a tart dish, prick all over with a fork. With a brush or with the back of a spoon, spread a 1mm layer of mustard all over the pastry.

5/ In a large bowl, beat the eggs, cream fraiche and leeks. Season with salt and pepper. Crumble the Stilton and mix in the leek/egg mixture.

6/ Pour the mixture over the pastry case, and cook in the centre of the oven for about 30min until golden on top. If your oven is not a fan oven, cook the tart on the bottom of the oven to ensure the pastry will be thoroughly cooked. 

7/ Serve warm with a side salad, or cold as a picnic.

recipe leek and stilton tart