Parsley mayonnaise

When I made Ham Hock Terrine I thought there was something missing.

In the end, I decided that I needed just a little something to go with it… something both sharp and savoury, something to moisten the bread… that was what I wanted.

And what better than some delicious mayonnaise, made specifically to go with the lovely terrine?

It’s easy enough to do and I often make a bowlful and flavour it to a specific dish. This time I thought I would make it with parsley and add a few chopped gherkins to liven it up a bit and tie in with the ham hock terrine.

All you need are a couple of eggs, some dijon mustard, some salt, some oil (olive oil is very strong so plain vegetable oil should make up the majority of the oil used) You’ll need vinegar – either white wine or cider vinegar would be good in this – some parsley and some gherkins.

First of all, then separate two eggs and put the yolks into a reasonably sized bowl. Add a pinch of salt and a quarter of a teaspoon of mustard… stir them together and then start whisking

Whisk it good and hard (an electric whisk is a godsend if you have one… otherwise, think of it as replacing a work out in the gym).. this is the hardest  bit of the job and to be frank, it isn’t that hard!  After this it is all plain sailing.

When everything is smooth and whisked well, add a drop or two of oil and start again, whisking

And it suddenly starts to come together – look, you can see it thickening.

Now you can add the oil in greater quantities

And it’s off and away… just keep adding more oil until you get the amount you need. Those two egg yolks are all you need to make pints of mayonnaise – if that is what you want. Just add more oil… it all thickens up as you whisk.

It’s not enough just to use oil though – the flavour needs a touch of sharpness to bring the flavours together. Sometimes I use lemon juice but this time I wanted cider vinegar.

Add a teaspoon or so of vinegar – taste it and see if has sharpened everything up. Whisk it round to a smooth and glorious sauciness.

Once you have enough, all you have to do is flavour it the way you want it.

Start chopping the parsley and some gherkins and add them to the mayo

Taste again… the parsley adds a sort of rich, slightly bitter flavour and those little bits of gherkin run through it adding a lovely sweet and sharp bite.

Really, for maybe ten minutes work (and not hard work, either) you can have a delicious, fresh and tasty mayonnaise that goes exactly with whatever you are cooking. 

You’ve got a couple of eggs, haven’t you?  There’s some oil in the cupboard….. go on….

You know you’ll love it.

Broccoli slaw

Those of you who know me, know I adore broccoli.

 Those of you who don’t know me yet will soon learn…

I REALLY love broccoli……. once when  I left a temping assignment, they bought me presents… chocolate and wine, a lovely card…. and a  head of broccoli! OK, so that was a joke but it reflected the fact that there were so many packed lunches of mine that involved broccoli.

I thought I had broccoli cracked… I’d make soup, or steamed with chilli, or Thai green curry, or eat it raw, broccoli puree, broccoli with lemon, broccoli hot.. broccoli cold…. anything really. I love broccoli. I thought I had worked my way through the entire broccoli cookbook.

And then I read The Weekend Carnivore and Sarah Jayne wrote about Broccoli Slaw…. she added apricots, which I would never do,  but even so.. broccoli? Something new to do with broccoli? Oh I was happy!

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I often make coleslaw and we love it but this was different… using the broccoli stem instead of cabbage.

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Simple enough… just slice the broccoli stem into slices across and then across again and again until you have pieces the size of matchsticks.

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… and grate the carrot

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When you make cole slaw, you really have to add onion but I really don’t like lots of it. If I eat big bits of raw onion I get a headache… weird, eh? So what I have done to get round that is to use a microplane grater and grate some raw onion so it comes out rather like a puree….

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and what I do then is add it to some mayonnaise to give the taste of onion without too much harshness.

I love making my own mayonnaise because I can tweak it according to what I intend to eat it with… lemon, perhaps, or chilli. This time I just wanted plain mayonnaise so the clean crisp flavours of the carrots and broccoli could shine through.

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Stir in all that lovely, sweet, grated carrot

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Then add the broccoli and a sprinkling of lovely Maldon Salt and stir it round…..


This is gorgeous. Really gorgeous.

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And when fed to Bears? Bears who swear they won’t eat broccoli? Well………. it was eaten. And enjoyed!

To think that some people  throw the stem out….

Chilli Oil

I know we only have a very small balcony and it is incredibly windy up at the top of our building,but I have managed to grow things up here.

This year the chillies have been fantastic and even though it is now getting towards the end of November there were still chillies ripening

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It really was time I did something with them before they spoiled on the plant.

I have a whole load of them ready to be stuffed with cheese and wrapped with bacon but even I, with my chilli addiction, can’t eat that many.

One of the other things I do is make chilli oil, using vegetable oil, so that I can cook with it. It just gives a little nip of something to whatever I am frying. And, oh, the difference it makes to a fried egg!

Of course, it also means that you have chillies available to cook with – softened, admittedly, due to their immersion in oil, but at least you have some.


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So, harvest the chillies…..

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Aren’t they beautiful? On a cold and wet November day they really are a bright spot.

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Put them in a bowl and pour boiling water over them and squoosh them about for a few seconds then drain them

It helps to slash them so they will sink in the oil…. just remember if you do this that you must be careful with your fingers afterwards.

I know everyone always says this… and I know that everyone usually forgets and then gets a shock when they stick their fingers somewhere. Well, I have said it so don’t complain when you rub your eyes.

Put your chillies in a jar and pour oil over them

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And that’s it.

You’ll be surprised how quickly the oil takes on the essence of chilli and very pleased with how many things you can add use the oil in…..a spoonful when you are making mayonnaise, for example, really sparks it up.  And it is, you’ll probably agree, a particularly pretty jar to have in your kitchen.

What more can you ask for – a multitasking end product? Useful AND pretty.


I do so love a good breakfast and when breakfast almost turns into lunch that’s even better. That means you are up later so you missed breakfast and  you are hungry but it’s too early for lunch. That’s why they call it brunch.

Weekends and lazy days. like today (our anniversary)  are perfect times for relaxing, celebrating and enjoying cooking and eating  food and one of the perfect things to make on days like this? Kedgeree 

So get some basmati rice, an onion, some curry powder (yes, I know, but this is one recipe that just needs it…no need for grinding lots of spices), maybe some ground cumin (but no need to worry if you don’t have it) some eggs, some smoked haddock, coriander leaves and a red chilli and some cream. I have a mix of natural undyed smoked haddock and some smoked cod there. Not for any reason other than  there was only a small bit of smoked haddock available when I went shopping, so I had to get some extra fish…. You have to do that sometimes. Just be flexible and don’t worry.

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First of all, in a large frying pan, gently cook some chopped onion in some oil and butter. This softens the onion nicely . If you like coriander as much as I do then chop in some of the coriander stems as well.

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While that is gently cooking, put your smoked fish in another pan with some water and poach at a soft simmer. I was going to say a gentle simmer but I realised I had said “gently” far too many times already. There again, I suppose it is a theme of the day…. this is the sort of breakfast that goes with a relaxed mood.

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Put 4 eggs in a pan and start boiling them for 4 minutes. As soon as the time is up, put the pan under a cold tap and run the water to cool them quickly. This will stop them cooking, keeping them just slightly soft and making sure there’s no horrible black rings round them.

Measure your basmati rice – for four people, I use 1 mug of rice, and add a mug and a little bit of water. Bring this to the boil then turn the heat down. Basmati rice cooks quickly so keep your eye on it. If you have measured the water then it should all have absorbed

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Thing is, it won’t be perfectly fluffy rice just yet. What you need to do is to get a clean tea towel and put that over the pan (taking it off the heat, of course) and then put the lid on top…. this absorbs the last bit of steam

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While that is on one side, the onion will have softened so stir in a teaspoon of curry powder, a pinch or so of cumin (if you are going to add it)  and a knob of butter. This deepens the flavour and makes it taste rich and delicious.

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By now the fish will have poached so take it out carefully with a fish slice and let it cool enough so you can remove the skin and flake it into bits.

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And, when you peek under the tea towel,  the rice will be perfectly fluffy

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Your eggs will be cooled so peel and quarter them.

Now? Now you start to put everything together…… First, the rice gets stirred into the oniony mixture in the frying pan

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Then, if you have cream, stir in a couple of tablespoons of cream… or failing that, some mayonnaise. Not too much, just enough to smooth out the flavours of the curry powder and onion and rice

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Then, carefully (you don’t want to break the fish into shreds and you have, I know,  flaked it so carefully) fold the fish into the rice mix

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Then… add the eggs

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Chop the coriander leaves and scatter over the top

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Smell that……. maybe a quick squeeze of lemon juice to sharpen things up and then…. into a bowl

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Doesn’t that look delicious? I always chop a bit of chilli to scatter over the top – very finely chopped chilli, not too much, just enough to leave tiny red specks of heat in the occasional mouthful

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If you haven’t made it before… try it. Honest, it’s good.

A perfect brunch on a perfect day.

Fish and crisps

Fish is brain food, or so people say.

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What could be better than a nice piece of fish, in a crispy crumb, baked to perfection?  We got some line caught cod as a treat and I set about making a crunchy covering for it.

I started to think about what to  do for the crispy crumb… breadcrumbs? Passe, my dear, so passe. Also, I have to admit, I didn’t have any bread to make crumbs from. So that ruled that out.

I did have cornmeal (polenta) and I did have a bag of crisps… well, Sunbites. They are wholemeal snacks that are crunchy and tasty. They would do. They would have to.

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I crushed them, inside the bag, so they were roughly crumbed and mixed the bits with a couple of tablespoons of cornmeal and a teaspoon of salt.

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On a plate, I roughly whisked, with a fork, a small egg and some milk.

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I put an oven tray, with a silicon sheet on, into the oven and set the temperature to 180 degrees. The tray needs to be hot when you put the fish on it so the bottom gets cooked as well, without being too soggy.

Drying the cod – or at least, patting it dry with kitchen roll – means that when you dip it in the eggy milk mixture, it gets a good coating…

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Which makes the crumb mixture stick to it. Put the fish onto the crumbs and pat them into the fish. It’s a bit sticky on the fingers but worth it, so don’t complain. I sprayed it with some oil spray so that the heat of the oven would crisp things up

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Doesn’t that look good? And it isn’t even cooked yet. Get it onto that hot oven tray and into the oven.

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15 to 20 minutes and it has crisped up to perfection. The fish flesh is brilliantly white and flakes perfectly.

I made some couscous flavoured with lemon zest and juice and some lemon and garlic mayonnaise to go with it

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What a lovely mouthful……

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There you go…. easy crispy coating made in seconds and twenty minutes in the oven and you have delicious fish… and crisps!

Like it? Then try it… and look, I have a like button!