A Quick, Tasty Mincemeat Cake

Mincemeat cakeFinding a jar of mincemeat in one’s cupboard can have you knocking up a batch of mince pies, or even a pan of the mincemeat flapjack in my previous post, but if you want something a little less rich this “plain” cake is quick to make, satisfyingly moist and quick to disappear.
The cake is made by the “rubbing in” method where soft butter or margarine is rubbed , with your fingertips, into the flour giving the texture of bread crumbs. The other ingredients are stirred in and then the cake is ready for the oven. Continue reading

Sticky Christmas Flapjack

Mincemeat FlapjackThese delicious sticky oaty squares are an easy alternative to mince pies allowing all the taste of Christmas with little of the work that rolling and cutting the pastry needs. The recipe has the added bonus of using exactly a whole jar of mincemeat. I cannot be alone in finding that I am always left with either a spoonful of mincemeat and no pastry case or a couple of pastry cases and no mincemeat. Such are the problems that I strive with each December.
The recipe is very simple: mix the dry ingredients, melt the butter then stir this in. Then press half the oat mixture into your tin, carefully spread over the mincemeat and top with the remaining oats. Bake, cool, cut and eat. Continue reading

Perfect Preserves: My lovely new book

Perfect Preserves by Thane PrinceI am often asked when it was I first began my love affair with preserving and, thinking about it for a while, I realise that I have been fascinated by jars of jams, jellies and chutneys since I was very small. The craft of preserving and stocking the pantry was an integral part of my childhood, when my mother would follow the seasons, pickling, bottling and potting whatever could be safely stored away to enliven our food in the bleak North Norfolk winters.
I loved to help and not only because I was a hungry little girl, it was more than that. I’m sure my affection was based on the love and security that comes with a shared task, the filled shelves and the glow of an important job well done, as much as a promise of something sweet for my tea. Continue reading

Staying at Le Manoir or My Night in Heaven.

Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons

Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons

It’s hard to know where to start when speaking about Le Manoir: do you begin by talking about the beauty of the setting, the mellow Cotswold stone building with it’s exquisitely appointed rooms, the extensive grounds where you can wander from manicured lawns to Japanese water gardens, finding assorted statuary dotted in wood and field or do you start with the food. Continue reading


Rome with Castel St Angelo on the right

Rome with Castel St Angelo on the right

I love cities. I love everything about them: the noise, the energy, the bustle but most of all I love their endless possibilities. In a city you can go anywhere, be anything, change your hair style, your life style and your job without comment. Having grown up in a small town I loved the anonymity of London when I first arrived here and since then apart from a brief time spent between London and Suffolk I’ve always lived right in the centre, willingly sacrificing easy parking and a garden for the sheer joy of walking home from the theatre, having cafes open late into the night and busses, wonderful, frequent busses, that whisk you anywhere you want to go. When I came back to live in London full time a friend commented that she’d always thought i was too urban for coastal living. “Urban!” I cried” I’m Metropolitan” as I shook off my deck shoes and pulled on my Laboutins. Continue reading

Delicate Jellies for a Summer’s Feast

Campari and Prosecco JellyI’ve been making summer jellies a lot recently. These are gelatine set ones not the ones more associated with my role on Big Allotment Challenge which are pectin rich preserves! The jellies add both elegance and a touch of “remembrance of time times past” to a special summer meal, reminding us of tables spread with treats at parties when we were children. Continue reading

Two lunches: Edwins and Blackfoot

These were two rather different lunches, one a long leisurely Sunday lunch with friends the second a delicious, hand held, pork stuffed roll.

So I’ll begin with Edwins

IMG_5729Opening in the vicinity of Borough Market would seem to be great idea for anyone hoping to capture some of the foodie buzz that is found around London Bridge these days. And when I heard that this, above a pub restaurant, would have the chef from another favourite place of mine, The Riding House Cafe , I though it worth a look. Borough Market is an obviously place of pilgrimage for me and one I visit often but as it was Sunday this vibrant noisy and sometimes chaotic place was almost deserted. I had walked from my home in Islington down to St Paul’s and then over the bridge and along the river. I cut in through the market and stopped for, a to my mind, well deserved, glass of prosecco at Wright Brothers where I was tempted to have an oyster or two. I am so pleased I saved all the room for feast that awaited us at Edwins. Continue reading

Ember Yard, I love you.

It’s been a busy few weeks since I last posted on this site. For a start THE programme is now being shown so you all know what I did last summer…And I’ve been feverishly working to get my new book finished and proof read before I go the Seattle. But as ever I’ve been eating out, a lot, so I thought I’d do a quick round up of some of the stuff I’ve been stuffing myself with starting with…..

Ember Yard

Negroni with smoked ice

Negroni with smoked ice


If I say I’ve eaten here four times since it opened you might get some idea of just how much I love this place. Part of the Saltyard, group whose other restaurants I enjoy, I had high hopes but I still didn’t think it would be quite as good as it is. I’ve eaten many times at Opera Tavern loving the food but finding the space less enjoyable, Dehesa love the space, but the food whilst very good always seems a bit too costly when its time to pay, I’ve not been to Salt Yard so can’t comment on that one, but in Ember Yard I think I’ve found that great combination of space, food and most important the best Negroni. Continue reading

Kale Pesto, Basil is so last season!


Kale pesto is a bit of a New Thing. Kale as you will all know is very of the minute: kale smoothies, kale chips, kale this, kale that and now kale pesto.
Being hungry, having just the right ingredients in the fridge and not wanting to buy anything as I’m off on holiday soon I though I would give it a try.
Naturally, living in Islington, I didn’t just use any kale but Cavalo Nero adding to that fresh Parmesan, extra virgin oil, toasted pine nuts, French garlic, Maldon sea salt and freshly ground black Nero di Sarawak pepper, as I said, just a few bits and pieces from the average North London store cupboard Continue reading

More Friands , Chocolate this time!

Chocolate Friands

Chocolate Friands

I posted a recipe for friands just before Christmas and have been experimenting with more varieties. I’d never heard of a friand till last year: Financiers, Cup Cakes, Whoopie Pies yes but Friands? As ever when I hear of something new I was intrigued. Intrigued enough to search Paris for exactly the right mould in which to cook them, my research telling me they should be oval in shape. I was obsessed, making my poor husband and the friends we were staying with tramp though damp streets. Continue reading