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lemon and fennel haddock with blood orange, fennel & date salad

The selenium found in fennel appears to stimulate production of T-cells which combat infection suggesting fennel can improve the immune response. Fennel seeds are extremely rich in vitamin C, said to be a strong antioxidant with high antimicrobial properties.

White fish, such as haddock, cod or whiting, is a good source of vitamin B3 which helps boost the immune system and can help to recover from infections faster. Watching Mike Reid on the great revived “Ready Steady Cook” earlier this week, reminded me how appealing it is to cook fish en papillote, that is wrapped as a parcel in baking paper and steam cooked in the oven. it is simple, quick and clean, simply enhancing the fish rather than shouting for attention.

A salad of fennel, with vitamin C laden blood oranges and fresh or Medjool dates (modish right now and incredibly good for you makes this an even healthier supper for one or more.

Serves 2

2 portions of haddock fillet

I small lemon, grated zest and juice

1 tsp fennel seeds

fennel fronds

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

two blood oranges

1 bulb fennel, sliced thinly

a handful of fresh or Medjool dates

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

1 tbsp muscatel vinegar

Place the fish in the centre of a large rectangle of baking paper. Use a microplane or grater to shower fish with lemon zest, then squeeze the lemon juice and pour over the fish. Add a tsp of fennel seeds, crushed gently to release their aroma, the fronds from the fennel build2 tbsp chopped flat leaf parsley, freshly ground salt and pepper.

Cook for 10 minutes in the oven 180C.

Meanwhile, prepare the blood orange, by standing the orange up and using a knife to cut around taking the peel off. Slice fennel thinly, Cut dates lengthwise into four. Make a dressing from 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp walnut oil (if you have to hand) 1 tbsp muscatel or white wine vinegar, any orange juice left in the skins that can be squeezed, salt and pepper.

miso aubergine with sunflower seeds, organic sauerkraut, radishes & avocado

I adore miso aubergine in Roka and. I won’t pretend this has the umami complexity of a long marinade. This is a quickie version put together speedily. Aubergines are suprisingly high in fibre and their skin is rich in antioxidant nasunin, they can also reputedly aid weight loss. The marinade of miso (fermented soy bean paste so good for gut health); anti-bacterial raw honey, rice vinegar adds to the feel good factor. Serve with a good shop bought sauerkraut. I like with carrot from As Nature Intended plus some salad depending on what is available. Avocado (even without sourdough toast) is always appealing and radishes not only add colour but also.

Serves 1 (can, of course, be scaled up)

1 aubergine, halved lengthwise, the skin criss-cross scored

2 tbsp white miso paste

1 tbsp raw, unfiltered honey

1 tbsp rice vinegar

2 tbsp warm water

Pre-heat oven to 190c. Mix white miso, honey, rice vinegar and warm water for a thick, coat the back of the spoon, consistency (so that it doesn’t run off the aubergine. Spoon over aubergine generously. Cook for 30 minutes and serve with salad, and, for hungrier appetites, sweet potato or pumpkin oven roast wedges.

beef, mushroom & ginger broth

A quickie

As a much needed dose of healthy luxury, organic bone broths are superb for almost instead lunches packed with nutrients . Rather good for watching one’s weight when at home far too much too. The bone broth itself is high in protein as is the buckwheat. Such broths are fabulous sources of collagen which helps the body in absorbing nutrients and build antibodies, the mushrooms are high in a good source of vintaminsand buckwheat magnesium. Ginger was well referenced anti-bacterial qualities and is also good for common colds.

1 pouch of Grass-fed Organic Beef Bone Broth (buy As Nature Intended, Giddy Grocer)

2 large chestnut mushrooms, sliced thinly

1 small knob of ginger, peeled and sliced thinly

2 tbsp buckwheat

Simply put the broth in a pan and add other ingredients, simmer for 8 minutes and serve to reinvigorate and chase away niggling irritant throats.

mushrooms and spinach “stroganoff”: with wholewheat quinoa and miso

In times of crisis and uncertainty, being a good Jewish food writer, my first thought is what can I eat to feel better protected?  

Choosing foods to boost one’s immune system makes such good sense, I’m frankly amazed it hasn’t been “officially” recommended.   Perhaps, it hurts the government to endorse anything as European as the Mediterranean Diet. To borrow a phrase, “take back control” of your eating.  It may not stop you getting ill but it is likely to mitigate the severity and longevity of any ill-health.

Mushrooms may not immediately spring to mind as a powerful immune boosting food, yet even button mushrooms are thought to be beneficial, especially when augmented with shitake.   Choosing wholegrain pulses and legumes rather than white pasta is a far better source of fibre. Garlic has long been known for its alicin, anti-bacterial properties. All kinds of nuts, and especially almonds, are essential for the immune system: they’re high in vitamin E, that acts as an antioxident in the body, and also good sources of iron and protein, all helps the immune system function.

Serves 2

400g mushrooms, ideally half button and half shitake

500ml carton Itsu brilliant mushroom miso broth

125g young spinach leaves

wholegrain quinoa  (I used Hodmedod’s)

100g sour cream or oat creme friache

50g butter

1 clove of garlic, crushed

50g flaked almonds, toasted

nutmeg to grate

sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Rinse quinoa in a mesh sieve, put in a saucepan, add mushroom miso broth, plus a little water to cover.   Bring to the boil, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 15 minutes until quinoa cooked, yet still firm with a delicious nutty texture.

Meanwhile, melt butter, add crushed garlic, cook for a few minutes, add cleaned and sliced button and shitake mushrooms, cook for 5 minutes, stir in rinsed spinach leaves and cook gently for 3 minutes, add soured cream or creme fraiche and cook another 2 minutes to heat through. Season with salt and pepper.  

Drain quinoa. Top with mushroom and spinach stroganoff.  Grate a little nutmeg on top to serve.



I created this dish for the Alexandra Rose Charity “Chefs for Families” event at HelloFreshUK HQ last night.

It is my modern take on carrot tsimmes, a dish traditionally eaten at Rosh Hashanah, Jewish New Year (celebrated 29-30 Sept 2019). Sweet dishes are eaten to usher in a sweet New Year. Carrots are said to symbolise gold coins,: a dish to usher in prosperity too. During Rosh Hashanah giving to those who are in need is important and known as tzedakah.

During the Rosh Hashanah service in synagoue, a traditional instrument made from the horn of a kosher animal – usually a ram – is blown.

To wish somebody a Happy Jewish New Year, say “Shanah Tovah” which is Hebrew for “A Good Year.”

Serves 6 as a side dish

8 carrots, preferably heritage multi-coloured carrots

1 tbsp baharat, an aromatic spice mix of ground cinnamon, cumin, cardamom, coriander, paprika, cayenne, cloves & nutmeg, available as a spice mix

2 oranges, one cut into thin segments, skin on, one juiced

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 heads of red chicory

1 small bunch of parsley

Walnut tahini:

120g walnut halves, lightly roast in oven for 5 minutes at 200C, keep a handful back for decoration

120g good tahini (Belazu and Al Taj are the best)

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

3 tbsp walnut oil

3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

large pinch urfa chilli flakes

1 tsp coriander seeds, crushed

2 tbsp good, raw honey (Bermondsey Street Bees is best)

large pinch seasalt and good grinding black pepper

3 tbsp cold water

To make the tahini: simply blend all ingredients in a food processor to form a thick, paste, adding cold water to achieve the right consistency to drizzle/dollop to your preference.

Heat oven 220C. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil over carrots (either leave whole if beautiful and small or cut in slices if using larger carrots) and sprinkle with baharat.

Roast for 10 minutes. Turn carrots with a spatular/tongs and cook a further 10 minutes.

Add orange slices, squeese over orange juice and drizzle honey generously. Cook for a further 10 minutes or until the orange slices are beginning to char.

Arrange red chicory leaves in a bowl or on a wooden platter. Add carrot and orange mixture with any yummy stickly juices. Sprinkle liberally with chopped parsley and walnuts.

Serve warm or at room temperature drizzled/dabbed with walnut tahini.

“Flipping Good!
Pancakes from around the world”

Flipping-Good-Final-CoverI’m getting very excited about the imminent launch of my second book devoted to one of my favourite foods: pancakes in all their incredible cultural and gastronomic diversity. As I explain in this article, I wanted to explore the whole world of pancakes beyond lemon and sugar: from socca and farinata made with chickpea flour to rice flour and coconut jian bing, Swiss chard farcous to potato latkes, blintzes to ultra-hip mille crepe and doriyaki.


Royal Ascot with Raymond Blanc,
Phil Howard & Bollinger

IMG_6883It’s mid-February and I am sashaying down the impeccable lawn of Royal Ascot close to the finishing line flaunting my black and purple straw hat last seen at my wedding 28 years ago, eyeing up the jockeys and their trainers fetchingly dressed in designer tweeds and most extraordinarily beautiful horses I’ve ever beholden.

My first ever day at the races, what a treat.  I’m doing it in style at the Panoramic Restaurant with its awe-inspiring views from the balcony across the racecourse and woods beyond with the Shard just visible on the skyline.

After several glasses of Bollinger, and another, a honeyed nectar of a champagne with an impressive weight to its mouthful and a host of Rhubarb canapés – most notably exceptionally moreish stilton and walnut sables, we’re seated for feasting.

Raymond Blanc’s starter is a homage to his long love affair with Thailand.  Cornish crab with a fragrant, lemongrass imbued coconut bisque and shards of fresh coconut – clean, fresh and wonderfully redolent of flavours I last experienced in Bangkok.  The dish is accompanied by Champagne Bollinger Special Cuvee AND Stellenbosch Chenin Blanc 2015.

IMG_4944Superb fillet of beef with an extraordinary rich oxtail stuffed potato and field mushrooms with truffle butter and red wine shows off Phil Howard’s prowess of taking the best ingredients and treating them simply to enhance their purity. The Chateau Tour Pibran Pauillac 2009 is a treat.

IMG_6877IMG_6870A deconstructed Black Forest gateau dish with kirsch cherries by Gemma Amor, Ascot Executive chef is a little dated and would benefit from more intense chocolate.  I
concentrated more fully on the Hungarian Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2013.   Wines superbly chosen by Bibendum.

Did I bet?  Sure, though my winnings sadly didn’t prove sufficient to book a return visit for Lady’s Day at Royal Ascot.


Brunch at Eneko at One Aldwych

Eneko at One Aldwych interiorBrunch gets a sophisticated makeover at Eneko Atxa, the 3 Michelin Basque star who’s transformed One Aldwych’s restaurant. It’s a place to make a grand entrance too with sweeping copper staircases leading down to dramatic red leather banquette booths.

For brunch, think tacos, Basque style with corn talos including the freshest of anchovy, tomato and pecorino “pizza” with real depth of flavour, milk buns with slow braised pork shoulder so tender it dissolves in the mouth and scrambled egg, jamon and potato, like an especially melting tortilla. Filigree-light fried egg on talos with wild asparagus were unexpectedly elegant and thoroughly upstaged by ambrosial mashed potato.

Arraultzak fried egg crisp

A little copper pan of hake, clam and mussel stew has real marine intensity. Star dish is an exquisitely presented crisp corn talo with heritage tomatoes that taste of sunshine even in February and a scattering of flowers.

Eneko heritage tomato talo

Being greedily hungry, we had a plate of 16 year aged txuleton, dairy beef, agreeably pink, though the fat needed more charring to reveal its true unctuousness. Subtly salty-sweet caramel mousse with sheep’s milk ice-cream is an exercise in understatement on the plate and makes for a sophisticated dessert. We stuck with the Basque Country and wines from Gorka Izagirre, the vineyard the chef runs with his uncle in the Vizcaya region around Bilbao.

Eneko salted caramel dessert

In true Spanish style, we were still lingering over brunch at 5pm when pre-theatre guests started to arrive.  A brunch of delicious conviviality and happy, proud, laid-back service.


Basque & vinous pleasures on a golf course – Vinothec Compass

Sudi2confit codDid I expect to find some of the best wines and most delicious Basque food on a golf course close to Canary Wharf? Hardly, but pure curiosity took me to Vinothec Compass last friday evening to meet VC’s Basque Head Chef, Idoia Guzman. Keith Lyon, previously wine buyer at Waitrose partnered with some quirky, crafty liquid matches playing up to the acidity of dishes.

With the anchovy, stuffed chilli and olive ‘Gilda’ appetiser, Keith poured, from height to exaggerate the fizz, Itsas Mendi’s ‘7 Txacoli’. An unusual Txacoli with plenty of spritz and buttery texture.

Next, warm shots of Jerusalem artichoke, one of the culinary world’s hardest ingredients to partner wine with, blended with rocket and almond pesto. I was thrilled by the match with ‘illegal’ unfortified sherry-style from Sanlúcar – La Bota Vino Blanco ‘Florpower’ which rose to the challenge of the soup.

Following on, a velvety smooth, cinnamon infused pinxto of Basque black pudding plus padrón pepper, brilliant with a pour of Basque, Sagardoa Sidra, which suitably cut through the iron bloody richness of the dish

With ripe, vibrant giant, coeur du boeuf tomato salad, flatbreads of anchovy, olive and basil, and ricotta, pancetta and truffle, Keith uncorked a modern style, mesmerisingly supple and berry rich Saperavi from Georgia. This grape is rather unusual in that it contains already tinted juice, meaning producers don’t need to leave skins in contact with this for so long.

Highlight of the dinner was confit of cod with pepper and tomato rage gloriously matched with a highly unusual, mineral rich white Priorat.

With Belted Galloway onglet Keith decanted red – Olifantsberg Syrah – from gnarled vines tugging the Brandwacht Mountain Range in South Africa’s Breede River Valley. Northern Rhône in style, with exceptionally balanced tannins and a good meaty taste.

Finally, poached white peaches with ‘pistachio Anglaise’ – heightened with rosemary. To accompany, a rare Swiss wine, by Favre John and Mike – late harvest, botrytised, balanced Sauvignon Blanc ‘Moelleux’.    Peach-scented white with actual peaches, a perfect late summer ending to an eminently enjoyable dinner with some brilliant new wine experiences.

Real cooking in Shoreditch at Sardine

The best meals are often those that don’t appear to try to hard. Sardine, a new Shoreditch restaurant backed by Stevie Parle with Alex Jackson, who worked with him at Dock Kitchen taking charge in the kitchen, just sings with joie de vivre, the staff are all smiley and know they are in a good place.  The food is packed with appealingly simple, good tastes with no pretence or fussiness. The French influenced menu with splashes of Italian and Northern Spanish influences is absolutely joyful. Even though I’d just returned from SW France, it feels like a breath of fresh air.

I love the “snacks” of radishes, creme fraiche pimped with a little salty, fishy bottarga, an interesting, novel combination, and a sweet ultra flaky anchovy and caramelised onion tart that is utterly moreish. I could eat clams, fresh peas and saucisson sec in a buttery sauce everyday, so summery and conjures up the essence of summer and the sea. I’m going to be cooking fish en papillote a lot more after tasting this delicious, quintessentially Mediterranean combination of red mullet, brill,perfectly cooked with courgettes and tomatoes. Lamb ficelle, beautifully pink and rare with white beans would have benefited from a slightly more punchy salsa with some anchovies thrown in. A side order of chard au gratin goes down a treat, a vegetable too often overlooked.

clams, peas & saucisson seclambficelleswiss chard gratin


A simple crepe dessert with plums and cherries and apricot kernel ice cream is divine too. Only apricot and brown sugar tart is rather dense and would benefit from more apricots to balance it.

Crepes at Sardine

I liked too the mini cocktails especially my negroni infused with peach and was tempted to work my way through the list. Having a combination of individual seating, a communal table and counter seats at the two bars, just adds further to the winning conviviality of Sardine. No wonder it is packed. I’d like one in my neighbourhood.

Sardine interior