Date & walnut black bread triangles


On a mission to find good cheese we walked over the Marshes to Stoke Newington, and picked up a lovely blue cheese from the Growing Communities Farmers Market. On our return we called in at the Spar in the village as they have a wide range. Armed with a strong flavoured blue and an ash-covered goats cheese we needed something sweet, strong and hearty bread-wise.

So after a bit of cupboard searching we came up with this date & walnut bread. It looks like a long list of ingredients but it really is a simple recipe. However the high proportion of rye flour means that it rises slowly – we started this process in the evening, left the dough to rise overnight and baked the bread next morning.

You need:

200ml warm water
200g strong white flour
200g dark rye flour
2 tbsp oil (pumpkin, walnut, or olive)
2 tbsp black treacle or molasses
1 tsp salt
2 level tsp instant yeast (we like Bruggeman, available from Maghreb)
100g golden raisins
5-6 dates, chopped
10 walnuts, chopped
1-2 tsp caraway seeds


Measure out the warm water into a jug, check it’s hand hot. Add the yeast and caraway seeds and leave for a few minutes to activate and bubble up.

Meanwhile put all the other ingredients into a large bowl. Add the yeast and water mixture and stir to combine. It will slowly form into a sticky dark ball of dough.

DSCN6216 Remove the dough from the bowl and knead for 5-10 minutes until smooth.

Put the dough ball back in the bowl and cover. Leave it now in a warm place (kitchen, airing cupboard, sauna!) for a few hours, or even overnight until it has slowly risen and doubled in size.

DSCN6217When the dough has risen and you’re ready to bake, heat to the oven to 200C/ 400F/ Gas Mark 6.

After rising, take the dough from the bowl and flatten or roll out to a 2 cm thick circle. Cut into triangle wedges and place on an oiled baking tray. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes until they have risen and sound hollow when tapped underneath.

Serve warm with stinky cheese and a fruity chutney!


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Pheasant schnitzels

DSCN6079We have a real fondness for Stepney City Farm, near Whitechapel in East London. I think that it is the beautiful mix of old and new – the old village church next to the high rise student living, the cockerels and the Crossrail, the old ladies toiling in their allotments contrasting with the busy artisan farmers’ market. This weekend while visiting the farm’s pigs, newly hatched chicks, shaggy-haired goats and donkeys we picked up some foodie delights – pheasant breasts, free range duck eggs and smokey back bacon.

Pheasant is a good choice as it’s low in fat and cholesterol, but chicken would work as an alternative. I decided to turn the pheasant breasts into schnitzels and serve them with a green salad, wild garlic pesto & a ruby remoulade for Sunday lunch. We used manioc flour instead of breadcrumbs – this comes from a Central and South American woody shrub known as manioc, cassava or yucca. It is used in traditional Brazilian recipes including Farofa and to make tapioca, but its real value is that it is gluten free. You can buy it from the Brazilian butchers shop on Hoe Street, E17.

Pheasant schnitzels

You need:

4 pheasant breasts
2 tbsp plain flour
1 egg, beaten
3 tsp harissa powder
5 tbsp course manioc flour (or panko breadcrumbs)

You need three bowls – place the plain flour mixed with the harissa powder in one, a whisked egg  in another and finally the manioc flour into the third bowl.

DSCN6173Take a pheasant breast and cover both sides in the seasoned plain flour, then dip it into the beaten egg, then finally coat each side with manioc flour. Repeat until all four breasts are covered. Place the pheasant breasts on a lightly oiled baking tray. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes on 220C / 450F / Gas Mark 8 until crispy. We served it with a ruby remoulade of red cabbage, red onion, beetroot and carrot, a dollop of chilli sauce, homemade wild garlic pesto and green salad.




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Walthamstow Sunday Farmers Market

DSCN6158Every Sunday we try to get to the Farmers Market. This week was the judging of the Kelmscott School Farmers Market poster competition – we couldn’t agree of course! But it seemed a good chance to wander around with the camera and take you on a crawl of what’s on offer at our lovely Farmers Market.


We started off with the cheeses – tasting as we went. The Saint George goats cheese from Nut Knowle Farm in East Sussex is an award winner. They also have a whole range of soft goats cheese logs from a moreish sweet stem ginger to a fiery chilli.


We love the traditional Cheddar from Batch Farm, but also keep a look out for their mis-shapes bags which are a bargain for cooking – grate and freeze the cheese so it’s ready to go straight onto pasta, gratins and so on.


The mozzarella produced from organic raw buffalo and cow milk by Alham Wood Cheeses is another excellent cheese from Somerset. It’s £4 for a hefty lump of cheese. The buffalo milk makes it higher in calcium and protein and lower in cholesterol than standard mozzarella. They have other buffalo cheeses based on traditional Romanian recipes including one with cumin seeds.


Giovanni, of Walthamstow-based The Seriously Italian Company puts passion and enthusiasm into producing a range of hand made pastas, sauces and pestos. We particularly like the Spelt Casarecce – meaning ‘homemade’, which are loosely rolled pasta tubes that work nicely with chunky sauces.

DSCN6139Pick’s Organic Farm and Shop from Leicestershire bring a range of meat and sausages to the market. These include venison sausages, Dexter beef and salt beef plus some more exciting meats such as wild rabbit and squirrel!

DSCN6141Today Wild Country Organics had Claytonia, also known as Winter Purslane or Miners Lettuce. This is an unusual winter salad rich in vitamin C.

DSCN6151Getting good quality, sustainable fish in the Stow isn’t always easy so we like the Seafayre stall, selling fish from Dungeness, off the Kentish coast. Seafayre is a family affair operating from two boats using static net fishing, which is more environmentally friendly fishing. The fish each week depends on the weather and the season. Helpfully they send out a weekly email to let you know what they’ll be bringing to the market – send them an email and I’m sure they will add you to their email chain.

DSCN6156Pasture Farm Poultry bring free range poultry including chicken, duck, geese, turkey and guinea fowl to the Farmers Market – invaluable at Christmas. They sell chicken carcasses for £1 each, which make a fantastic stock. The meat is dense so a bird will often make us 2 or 3 meals.


We like bread from North London’s Aston’s Organic Bakery stall. They have loaves of all different varieties – mixed, slow fermented and shaped by hand. But more importantly they have homemade filled Crodos!


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Ham & purple sprouting broccoli spelt tart


Pie time!

I don’t know where I picked up my pastry making skills but it’s something that I’ve always been able to do. It’s a good job really as I was put to the test last year when we were on a cookery course in Croatia. We were being taught how to make all sorts of dishes including Croatian fuzi pasta, but our teachers seemed a little stumped when it came to dessert. They asserted that because we were British we should be able to make the pastry for a sweet custard tart – not sure that logic follows. The pressure was on – no weighing scales, no recipe and my phone wasn’t picking up the internet, I only had my instinct to rely on. I’ve only ever made savoury or plain pastry so having eggs and sugar passed over for inclusion did make my anxiety levels rise. It turned out well in the end – but I’m not sure if it wasn’t more luck than skills that saved the British culinary reputation that day!

Anyway back to pastry. This recipe is really easy and quick to do but is a wholesome and healthy take on a classic quiche. You can change the filling to include whatever is in your fridge but our favourite combinations include fig and blue cheese, sun-dried tomato and leeks or salmon and Swiss chard. If you follow our blog you’ll know that we are fans of spelt flour, it makes this pastry crisp and tasty.

You need:

For the pastry:
250g spelt flour
150g unsalted butter (cut into small cubes)
2/3 tbsp water

For the filling:
300g of bacon pieces
handful of purple sprouting broccoli
100g creme fraiche
150g milk
3 eggs
50g of grated hard cheese
salt & pepper


Sieve the flour into a bowl and add the butter. Rub together until you have very fine breadcrumbs. You need cold hands! If it starts to stick to your hands cool them under cold water and then carry on. Next add the water slowly until you have a ball of dough. Cover the dough in cling film and leave in the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F/gas mark 6). Flour a surface and roll out the pastry to fit a 22cm spring form tart tin. Prick the base with a fork then line with greaseproof paper and baking beans (or you can use dried chickpeas) and bake for 15 minutes. Leave to cool completely then remove the paper and baking beans. Turn the oven down to 160°C.

Fry the bacon until slightly brown and remove from the pan. Add the purple sprouting broccoli with a couple of tbsp of water. Cover and allow to wilt over a low heat for three minutes. Drain and leave to cool.

Mix together the milk, cream and eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Put the bacon and broccoli into the tart and then add the milk mixture and sprinkle on the cheese. Bake for 30 minutes. Leave to cool before serving.



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Clam, chorizo & butter bean Portuguese stew


Dinner tonight!

With early spring daring to peer through the grey days it put me in a rather optimistic culinary mood  – memories of warm summer days came flooding back. A trip to Davies Fishmongers in Bakers Arms, Walthamstow this week resulted in a large bag of fresh clams… and this made me think of the delicious Portuguese clam and chorizo petisco we had in Lisbon recently.

So here is my take on recreating those flavours (and happy summer lazy days): Clam, chorizo & white bean Portuguese stew.

You need:

500g clams, cleaned
100g cooking chorizo, diced
1 white onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, crushed
1 mild red chilli, finely chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 tin of butter beans, drained
300ml fish or vegetable stock
a large handful of fresh coriander leaves, chopped
1/4 tsp fennel seeds
2 tsp sherry vinegar
1 fresh lemon
salt / black pepper to taste


Fry the chopped cooking chorizo in large heavy based pan over a low heat until it starts to release its oil.

Add the chopped onion to the pan and cook for 4-5 minutes, then add the crushed garlic, chilli, fennel seeds and coriander and fry for another couple of minutes.

Pour in the stock, tomatoes and sherry vinegar and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat, add the beans and simmer for a few minutes to let the sauce thicken.


Add the clams…

Meanwhile wash and pick through the clams, discarding any that are broken or open. Scatter the clams over the tomatoes, cover with a lid and steam for 3-5 minutes. Shake the pan occasionally until the clams open.

Check the sauce, if needed add salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice to taste. Serve with rice, crusty bread or a fresh salad with sherry vinaigrette dressing.

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Exploring the Turkish bazaar – the International Supermarket


Fruit salad anyone?

I’m not sure how long the International Supermarket has been in business (about 15 years ago it was an antique’s shop) but it’s a great place to buy bargain priced fruit and vegetables, herbs and spices, olives and oils, bread and baklava, cheese, honey, jams, teas, you name it really! This is where we head to when we’re hunting for inspiration or ‘hard to find’ ingredients. Every time there’s a new food trend – date molasses, pomegranate seeds, dried mulberries, fresh garlic… the International is the place to start.

It is a treasure trove of Turkish and Mediterranean foods, here’s some of the exciting ingredients we found today…


Spanish Padron peppers – fry in olive oil for a few mins, sprinkle with sea salt & grab a beer


Kohlrabi – peel, grate and dress with mustard mayo for a fresh coleslaw


Fresh green garlic – crush into yogurt for a healthy alternative to garlic aioli dip


A wall of pulses and grains


Roasted red pepper sauces – great for soups and stews and to serve with BBQ grilled meats


Pides and other Turkish breads


Trays of Baklava


Sour pomegranate molasses – great salad dressing with walnuts, feta, rocket and red onion


Fig jam – try it on a pizza or crispy flatbread topped with gorgonzola or goat cheese, basil and proscuitto


Date syrup – a tasty alternative to maple syrup for Pancake Day


Poppy seed puree – I’m thinking lemon and poppy seed cake


Jars of nuts & honey – perfect topping for thick Greek or Turkish yoghurt


Sweet Greek dried figs – probably the healthiest snack food


Tea spices – still working out what to do with these!


Spicy sucuk Turkish sausages – use like chorizo, in bean and vegetable soups and casseroles


Yufka Turkish pastry sheets – like filo pastry, use for making spinach or mince meat burek pastries

The International Supermarket
15-17 High Street, Walthamstow, London, E17 7AB

Open daily, 8am -9pm

Also at: 146-150 George Lane, South Woodford, London, E18 1AY

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Eat like a local in Lisboa


Designer sardines – Portuguese style at Conserveira de Lisboa

To celebrate one of the foodies’ birthday we headed to Lisbon, Portugal last week for a few days. It’s  a culinary heaven where you can discover the traditional and the bang on-trend within a few doors. Below is our list of Lisbon restaurants and bars that we really loved – thanks to the lovely staff at the boutique guesthouse Casa do Patio for recommending a few of those mentioned.

Embaixada Portuguesa – Calcada do Combro 87, Bairro Alto, Lisboa
Newly opened bar / restaurant, look out for the clogs in the window (it’s sister restaurant Taberna Portuguesa is just down the street). Specialises in Portuguese fine wines, cheeses, ham and toasts. Not cheap but excellent quality and quirky. 2 x glasses of wine, ham, cheese & bread = 18.50 Euro


Presunto ham & Azeitao cheese at Embaixhada Portuguesa

Vale Do Rio – Largo Alfredo Dinis, 12-14 Almada, Cacilhas
As a birthday treat, we took a 15 mins ferry ride from Cais de Sodre across the river to the unpromising waterfront town of Cacilhas. This is where Lisbonetas come to eat seafood. A 40 Euro platter for 2 included a whole crab and lobster, king prawns, hot garlic prawns and clams in white wine.


Fantastic seafood platter at Vale do Rio

Le Jardin – Praca Principe Real 26, Lisboa
Surprisingly inexpensive coffees, cakes and lunches in a Morrocan palace opposite the Principe Real gardens. The building also houses unique designer shops and a gallery around an atrium. 2 x galao (latte) coffees = 2.20 Euro

The Decadente - Rua de Sao Pedro de Alcantara 81, Bairro Alto, Lisboa
We ran into The Independente luxury hostel to get out of the rain, but the menu sounded so good we stayed all evening. Either make a reservation or there’s a waiting list for tables from 7.50pm. On-trend food including an ox heart salad, wild boar tagliatelle and a chestnut creme brule. Decadent ingredients and cooking techniques at a decent price. 2 x 3- courses, wine & coffee for 56 Euro.


Oxheart salad at The Decadente

Xapuri Bistro - Rua Duques de Braganca 5G, Chiado, Lisboa
Innovative and unique flavours are used to create fusion-food petiscos (Portuguese tapas). Quality wines, extensive weekend brunch menu, knowledgeable but rather formal service.

Restaurante Principe Calhariz - Calcada do Combro 28, Bairro Alto, Lisboa
Simple Portuguese dishes in a traditional tiled restaurant. Open grill for meat and fish in the front window. Menu changes daily with dishes from 6 Euro including veal, rabbit and saltcod. House wine 5 Euro a bottle. Amazing ‘Farofias’ dessert of soft meringue in cream.


Chilled boiled gambas at Casa da India

Casa da India - Rua Loreta 49, Bairro Alto, Lisboa
Another busy, traditional Portuguese restaurant, crammed with office workers, policemen, fire fighters and grannies; the kind of place where people eat lunch every day. Cheap and fresh ‘doses’ (portions) of prawns and clams; tasty grilled chicken and carapaus mackerel. Daily specials for 6-9 Euro, house wine is only 1 Euro a glass. Lunch for 2 = 22 Euro.


Lunch at the bar at Casa da India

Povo - Rua Novo do Carvalho 32-36,  Baixa Chiado, Lisboa
Great place on Pink Street for hearty portions of grown-up petiscos. The game croquettes Bolos de Alheira and tempura-battered green beans ‘Peixinhos da Horta’ (little fish of the farm) were our favourites.  There’s free live Fado every Wed and Sun night, where they showcase up and coming singers – this isn’t a tourist show. Wine & 5 petiscos = 45 Euro.

Sol e Pesca – Rua Nova do Carvalho 44, Baixa Chiado, Lisboa
Quirky little bar /cafe in an old fishing bait and tackle shop. The walls are lined with the retro designer tins of fish and that’s all they serve; just tapas of bread, olives and tinned sardines, tuna, octopus etc. A wide range of drinks, fishy snacks and local hipster vibe.


Fishing tackle shop / bar – Sol e Pesca

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Pear & stem ginger pudding-cake


Pear & stem ginger pudding-cake

Comfort food was the order of the day – rain, no sleep & a nagging headache could only be soothed by one thing: Cake!

I flicked through a few recipe books, but to be honest concentration was not going to be my strong point today. I decided on an apple & almond pudding-cake recipe from the River Cottage Everyday cookbook which is a household favourite; but this soon became a pear & stem ginger pudding-cake. In the end it turned out so well (and having made a similar plum pudding-cake a few times) that I’m being bold and sharing it. Usually I like to test a few times before posting but I’m convinced this is great & you’ll love it.

You need:

4 comice pears
25g unsalted butter
1 tbsp granulated sugar
2 stem gingers, finely grated

For the cake batter:
150g unsalted butter
125g granulated sugar
2 medium eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
40g self-raising flour
40g spelt flour
75g ground almonds
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp ground ginger
an extra tablespoon of sugar


Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Peel and core the pears, slice into wedges. Melt the 25g of butter in a frying pan, add the sugar and heat until it starts to bubble. Add the pears and grated ginger and cook for a few minutes on low until caramelised. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.

Next for the cake batter. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract.  Add the first egg and beat again, then add the second egg and beat into the mixture. If you add a tablespoon of the flour at this point it will help stop the mix separating. Once you have a smooth mix again, gently fold in the ground ginger, mixed flours, baking powder and ground almonds.

Spoon the cake batter into the cake tin, smooth over with a pallette knife. Lay the sliced pears onto the top of the batter in circles. Sprinkle the extra tablespoon of sugar over the pears. Bake for 45 minutes at 170 degrees C / Gas Mark 3, use a skewer to test, if it comes out clean then it is perfect. This pudding-cake can be eaten warm or cold, serve with yogurt, ice-cream or cream.


A tempting slice of comfort!

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Sumo Fresh – Japanese restaurant & bar, Wanstead


Sumo Fresh

Eating in Satsuma in Soho many years ago, I was introduced to Japanese food and boy was that an experience!  I learned the hard way (crying, coughing and spluttering) that the green lump of plasticine in my Bento box was wasabi, and that this horseradish paste should not be consumed in one sinus-clearing fiery mouthful – which is of course what I did. Once the tears had subsided and my taste-buds recovered I got quite a liking for sushi and Japanese food in general. So when I heard that a new Japanese restaurant had opened in Wanstead to rave reviews, I really wanted to visit. On this basis on Saturday we parked at the Snaresbrook Station end of the High Street and walked along – of course it’s right at the other end near Wanstead tube station.

Sumo Fresh has a modern, industrial feel in the main restaurant with a sushi conveyer belt and an open kitchen. We chose instead to sit in the warmer, wood-panelled room at the back which they bafflingly call ‘the second station’. We ordered Pumpkin Korokke (croquettes) and Takoyaki (deep-fried squid balls with bonito fishflakes) for starters. Two portions of the Korokke arrived instead of the one we’d ordered, but the staff were sweet and insisted we ate them anyway.


Pumpkin Korokke

Next a couple of plates of sushi – 5 pieces of hand rolled Spicy Tuna Hasomaki (being chilli lovers we opted for spice level 3), and the Vegetable Roll Futumaki (vegetarians beware they include prawn and fish flakes!). The sushi was fresh, though the rice wasn’t quite sticky enough. They were stuffed full of crunchy baby vegetables, tofu and Japanese omelette or the raw fish, with generous portions of pickled ginger and wasabi on every plate.


Spicy Tuna (level 3) Hasomaki

Finally we each had a Katsu curry rice bowl – one prawn and one chicken, Japanese comfort food. We’d ordered far too much as always happens when we skip breakfast and arrive hungry.


Chicken katsu curry with rice and pickles

The service was efficient and attentive, bringing extra chopped red chillies and more water for the teapots. But it’s welcoming and friendly, not as intimidating as the West End sushi restaurants or as cold as the conveyor belt formula chains. It’s child-friendly too with plenty of kids happily tucking in to handfuls of sushi and edamame beans and bowls of miso soup. The bill was less than £35 including drinks – definitely worth a weekend trek to Wanstead; but if you’re feeling too lazy don’t worry as they do deliver to Walthamstow, free on orders over £20.

Sumo Fresh – 141 High Street, Wanstead, E11 2RL

Tel:020 8530 7500
Twitter: @sumofresh

Opening hours:
Tuesday to Thursday - 2pm-10pm
Friday & Saturday - 12 noon-10:30pm
Sunday - 2pm-10pm

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56 St James – lovely new coffee shop, E17


56 St James

We were slightly annoyed that a new cafe has just opened in the St James’ area of Walthamstow. Why? Well we lived just a stone throw away for thirteen years and now just when we have moved out, they move in! It was rather odd visiting our old stomping ground yesterday but we were planning a lovely walk in the sunshine over the marshes, which we have neglected since our move up to the top of town so decided to linger in the ‘Coppermill village’ as the estate agents have now dubbed this area.

’56 St James’ opened on Thursday to much Twitter excitement as intrigued Walthamstowers rushed to check out the new kid. The cafe is situated on the corner of Station Road and St James’ Street, it used to be an old fashioned accountants office, but now the the decor is modern vintage, with soft lighting and a friendly, laid back atmosphere. Their coffee is sourced from Nude Espresso so is bang on trend and is well made by the barista with a smooth taste. They have a small but good selection of cakes, salads and sandwiches. My cheese, ham & tomato sandwich on sourdough bread was tasty and I was envious of the baker’s achievement – why can’t I get those kind of holes in my bread? Must practice more!!


Nude espresso coffee

It isn’t cheap at £2.50 for a Flat White coffee, but you are paying for good quality ingredients in a Hackney hipster environment. Another positive is that it is very child-friendly with a large black chalk wall for creative tots and budding graffiti artists. We hope that it does really well and from the queue yesterday it is already in demand. We’ll be back to try the cakes!


so tempted!

56, St James’ Street, E17 7PE

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