sweet potato pancakes

Caramelised Sweet Potato Pancakes

The sweet potater hater five year old loved these and I have to say, they are AMAZING. You’ll find a much simplified version of a Yotam Ottolenghi breakfast idea below: the original sounds an altogether more adult affair with spring onions, chilli and coriander.

Have you ever baked a sweet potato? If not, I urge you to do so. The sugars in the potato caramelise and the skin is rendered sweetly edible- it’s what this recipe calls for and the only time consuming element. Next time you have the oven on, throw in a few sweet potatoes. Once you’ve scraped the flesh from the skin, it can be frozen and has a wide variety of applications, sweet and savoury.

In order to keep their shape while frying, I poured the batter into round pastry cutters which stuck a little but worked in terms of a uniform pancake!

They can be served as a dish on their own or with smoked salmon (which goes incredibly well with the sweetness of the pancakes) or a rasher or two of crispy bacon drizzled with maple syrup.

For four

450g sweet potatoes
85g plain flour
1/4 tsp baking powder
2 eggs separated
70 ml whole milk
20g melted butter and
50g butter for frying
2 tsp maple syrup

To bake the sweet potatoes: Heat the oven to 220/425 degrees and put the whole unpeeled sweet potatoes on an oven tray and roast for an hour until soft and browned, remove and leave to cool. Peel the skin and using a muslin or j cloth, squeeze excess moisture from the flesh. You should be left with 180g.

Mix the flour, 3/4 tsp salt, and baking powder in a bowl. In another, whisk the egg yolks, milk, melted butter and maple syrup then stir into the dry ingredients. Whisk the egg whites separately until they form peaks and fold into the mixture.

Melt the butter in a frying pan and spoon 3 heaped tbsp of the batter to make each pancake- they should be 1.5cm thick and around 7cm wide. Cook for 2 minutes on each side until brown. You should end up with 8 pancakes.

June 017


If you’re anything like me, you buy fresh herbs for a dish and use 3 sprigs, leaving the rest to slowly rot in the fridge. Sometimes I think the fridge is just a holding area for the bin. I started growing my own- rosemary, oregano and thyme. I must have saved hundreds of pounds. Well maybe not, but at least there was no waste. If you’re going to grow anything, grow herbs. But some herbs are trickier than others. Coriander likes to bolt in the heat and I never seem to be able to grow quite enough for the recipes I follow. Basil too is another plant that’s looks in rude health, that is until you have the audacity to plant it outside. I’m always throwing basil away. I know chefs bang on about making herb butters and scented oils (the sister of a friend of mine made a liqueur out of it- a night best forgotten) but how do you do make a meal with it that’s quick, easy and tasty?

sandwich 004

Ciabatta Tricolore

Over a decade ago, when I worked around Oxford Circus, this was a favourite Friday lunchtime treat from a local cafe. An unholy combination of the holy trinity of flavours; tomato, basil and mozzarella, you must use the thinnest, crispiest, bubbliest ciabatta and a soft, yielding mozzarella.

If you don’t have a sandwich maker (I don’t), use a frying pan and weigh the sandwich down with a plate on which something suitably heavy is placed. Cast iron works well.

For 2

1 large, flat ciabatta

4 slices parma ham

5 sundried tomatoes (in oil), chopped

10 basil leaves torn

125g mozzarella, sliced

Half the ciabatta lengthways and drizzle a little of the sundried tomato oil on both sides. Lay the ham on one side, then the tomatoes, basil and finally mozzarella. Season and cover with the remaining side.

Heat a small non-stick pan and toast the ciabatta over a low to medium heat for a few minutes on each side, until the bread is golden and the mozzarella melted. I always weigh the toastie down with a plate and something heavier on top- it’s worth it!

June 017

Proper Bruschetta (inspired by Ilenia)

Easy peasey lemon squeezey… beautifully ripe, sweet tomatoes work well here. I’m using miniature plum tomatoes from Waitrose at the moment, the best tomato I have ever tasted (and I don’t even like tomatoes) Chop the tomatoes into bite size chunks and place in a bowl. Season really well with salt and pepper and drizzle with a good glug of olive oil. Fold in some torn basil leaves and 1 or 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic. Leave the flavours to develop for a few minutes and taste- adjust seasoning/oil/basil if needed.

Lightly toast some good quality rustic bread- sourdough or crusty loaf and load up with tomatoes. It needs nothing else.

And finally… homemade pesto


a handful of basil leaves
a handful of toasted pine nuts
with a good pinch of salt for a few seconds until just combined.
Mix in a handful of grated parmesan and add enough olive oil to loosen to the consistency required.

Taste and season if necessary.

Use on pasta (obvs) or on toast, or drizzled over a salad of goats’ cheese, or over a frittata. The possibilities are endless.

Now, anyone got any ideas for leftover coriander…..

May 019

Cake for tea, honestly…

Again a delay in posting. In truth, I’ve rustled up a few dishes with a view to publishing, but I was either unimpressed with the finished article, the kids have refused to eat it or I’ve been wholly unable to get a decent shot of said dish. And I’ve promised only ever to post recipes I’ve tried and tested and the kids like.

I’ve been meaning to try out this recipe for weeks- cake, hidden veg, cheese and cake. Cake? As Claire Thomson quite rightly points out -this is adapted from her recipe- (check out her beautiful 5 o’clock apron) it’s “part quiche, part frittata but nonetheless categorically cake” and it’s frankly amazing. I made it last night and fed it to a friend who made me promise to post the recipe.

It takes about 10 minutes to get together and 30 minutes in the oven. It’s also a great idea for lunch boxes too and how happy will the kids be with cake for lunch?

I have used grated courgettes and soft goat’s cheese here, but you could quite easily use broccoli and feta (simmer the broccoli first under tender), sauteed leeks, grated carrot or anything you fancy.

PS the kids keep asking for more…

For one large cake

200g grated courgette (squeeze excess moisture out)
2 small red onions
2 tbsp Olive oil
1/2 tbsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp picked thyme leaves
3 medium eggs
120g plain flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
50g cheddar, grated
100g soft goat’s cheese
50g pine nuts
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 200c. Grate the courgettes and squeeze- leave to drain. Heat the oil in a frying pan, finely chop the onion and fry gently until soft and transparent with the rosemary and thyme and set aside

In a bowl, beat the eggs and whisk in the flours, cheeses, salt and pepper. Add the onions and courgettes, mix well and tip into a lined 20-25 cm cake tin ((springform if you have it). Scatter the pine nuts over the top.

Bake for 35 minutes until golden.

Easter 020

Roast leg of Lamb with lemon, rosemary, garlic and anchovies with Pear Tarte Tatin to follow

Here’s a two-parter that’s not only a Sunday crowd-pleaser, but probably the easiest roast you may ever make. Nothing beats the look of a leg of lamb fresh from the oven. The golden crusty bits on the edge, the rich fragrant gravy, and the promise of leftover lamb sandwiches. This is an incredibly quick way to ensure maximum flavour and hitherto unknown savouriness. And have Monday night’s tea sorted on Sunday. The Pear Tarte Tartin is the perfect solution to a fruit bowl spilling over with overripe pears (or apples if you wish) who seem to have a perfectly ripe window of about 30 minutes before going soft and shrivelled….It looks and tastes like you’ve spent all day making it- not 15 minutes.

Sunday for 4-5

Decent sized leg of lamb (at least 2.5kg)
salt and pepper
Olive oil
2 cloves garlic
few sprigs rosemary
1 lemon
3 or 4 anchovies
splash of white wine (the cook gets to drink the rest)


1 courgette
tin flageolet beans

Heat the oven to 170 degrees C. Make small incisions (7-8) in the lamb and rub all over with salt and pepper. Crush the garlic, chop the anchovies and rosemary and grate the zest of half the lemon into a bowl and loosen with a tbsp of olive oil. Rub well into the incisions in the lamb, place in a roasting tin and splash the wine over the joint. Cook for 20 minutes per 500g plus another 20 minutes. Cover with foil and leave to rest for 20 mins.

If you wish, 1 hour before the end of cooking, slice the courgette thinly and throw into the roasting tray along with the drained tin of flageolets, more crushed garlic, pepper, a few knobs of butter and another splash of wine and return to the oven to braise. Stir a couple of times during cooking.

Easter 017
Pear Tarte Tatin

1x375g puff pastry, rolled to 2mm
50g (2oz) unsalted butter, softened
100g (3 ½ oz) golden caster sugar
2 tbsp Poire William liqueur or lemon juice
4-6 ripe pears

Roll out the pastry and chill until needed. You can now buy ready-rolled rounds of puff pastry which are perfect for this. Peel, core and quarter the pears, squeeze a little lemon juice or Poire William over them to stop them browning. You need a small-medium sized ovenproof frying pan for the next bit. Place the pan you are going to use on the pastry and cut around, leaving an extra 3 cm all the way around. Prick the pastry with a fork.

Easter 015

Preheat oven to 200 deg c. Sprinkle the sugar into the pan, add 3 tbsp of water and allow the sugar to absorb the water. Cook on a low-med heat until it starts to bubble, then in around 5 minutes it will turn reddish brown as it caramelises. DO NOT STIR. Just shake it around a bit. Remove from heat and stir in the butter. Tightly pack the pears curved side down and cook over a low-med heat for a further 5-10 minutes. Remove from heat and place pastry over the top. Tuck in the edges to form the sides of the tart. Bake for 30 mins and leave to stand for 10 mins before inverting onto a serving plate.

Serve with big dollops of creme fraiche or vanilla ice-cream.


Stuff warmed pitta bread with leftover lamb, yogurt, and shredded red (possibly pickled?) cabbage and enjoy.