Friday 15 December 2017


Potatoes… The starchy staple universal to most cuisines, the carby companion versatile enough to suit mashing, Pomme Purée-ing (not a word) roasting, boiling, baking, frying, fondant-ing (again, not a word) but the instant kind?… now that’s a different story. Other than with school dinners aged five years old, dolloped upon a beige tray with an ice cream scoop, I cannot remember a time that I’ve actually eaten instant mash. When I make my own mash I stick to the classically French principle of the same amount of fat to potato, resulting in a sloppy, creamy, buttery velouté style potato worlds apart from the gluey instant kind. It does however, take an hour of my time and serious mashing which involves blood (never been efficient with a peeler) sweat (mashing is more challenging than my treadmill sprints) and tears (because I've peeled my finger and it hurts) the result? A luxurious mash worth every bit of pain.

So, recently, when invited to an event centred around instant mashed potato from American based company, Idahoan, I was dubious but accepted by invitation with curiosity. A huge household name in America but recently launched into the UK, they promise that with a unique dehydration method, the dried spuds maintain their very best qualities, ensuring a fluffy and homemade tasting mash. I wasn’t convinced, but with MasterChef finalists Billy and Jack cooking up a storm using the Idahoan products, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have my head turned. What’s more, I can safely say I was VERY IMPRESSED.

The evening was set out as an Idahoan Challenge, whereby some of Billy and Jack’s dishes contained Idahoan and the others were made with ‘real’ mashed spuds. We were then asked to guess which we thought contained which. I thought it would be simple to tell a distinction, oh how wrong I was and guessed just two correctly – testament to how good Idahoan truly is! Not only was the food delicious, but Idahoan's team were fantastic hosts as were Billy and Jack who got involved and ensured to introduce every dish at the table. 

Here’s the menu:

Croquettes (one of my absolute faves, wolfed them down too quickly and forgot a picture!), one cheese one with the delectably spicy N’Duja

Crab Gnocci and Sea herbs (DELISH)

Pressed potato, Three Cheese Sauce, Onion and Truffle

Cottage Pie (with slow braised beef and super creamy mash on top)

Southern-fried Quail, Potato Biscuit, Maple Syrup
Honey Potato Cake, Figs, Yoghurt Sorbet, Honeycomb

White Chocolate Potato Truffles (still tasty even if they didn’t set enough!)  

It was pretty impossible to tell, any that I got right was down to luck and guessing. It was eye opening to see what can be done with dehydrated  potatoes. Forever more i'll make sure I have packets of Idahoan in my cupboards for when time is tight but comfort food is non-negotiable, the roasted garlic is particular fave of mine! 

As well as the mash, Idahoan also offer a Cheesy Oven bake and a Gratin Dauphinois. For each you just add milk and water and pop in the oven, only taking half an hour! We tasted all the products after Billy and Jack’s menu and even without being cooked into special dishes they were genuinely fantastic. I’m not claiming that you’ll never make mash again, but mid-week after a day of hellish client meetings and in desperate need for comfort food, Idahoan would be super atop a shepherd’s pie or for making speedy fishcakes. Failing that, stick in some herby Cumberland sausages, mix up some Idahoan mash and pour over lashings of onion gravy! 

In fact, the other night I mixed the classic mash with cream, truffle oil and Parmesan and bakes in the oven to serve alongside a pie and it was superb. Lump free, smooth potato  that you genuinely would not have known came from dried potato flakes. 

I was lucky enough to be given some extra Idahoan mash and bakes to use at home, but I urge you to head to your local supermarket to grab a pack for yourself and try it out! (Tesco/ASDA/Morrisons/Ocado/Sainsbury's all have it) The mash comes in classic, roasted garlic, cheddar cheese, butter and herb or buttery so there’s something for every craving!


Thursday 23 November 2017


Friends coming over? No clue what to prepare food wise? So often, if friends or family are popping over for a feast or dinner party, it's so easy to stick to classics such as a Chilli Con Carne or Spag Bol, both of which are delicious in their own right, but don't push the boat out for creating a scrumptious feast that your guests have potentially never eaten.

As you're probably aware, street food has kicked-off over the last five years, especially in London, with more and more restaurants adopting a shabby chic vibe and a street food style menu. For that - we have to thank our overseas counterparts - with Asian countries in particular doing street food serious well.

For this meal, we're heading to Korea. I recently tried Bao buns from Yum Bun at a street food market and it was love at first bite. Pillow soft steams buns hug gloriously rich slow cooked meat (usually pork belly) covered in sauce and extra morsels (spring onions, peanuts, crispy onions).

For my Korean feast, the Bao bun or 'Hirata' bun takes centre stage. I've made these before myself and it takes a lot of effort, so instead, buy them from your local Chinese supermarket! You also need a steamer to cook them in, authentic bamboo steamers can be purchased from Ebay for about £10. Rather than pork belly, we're using slow cooked pork shoulder, which falls apart after 6-8 hours of cooking and lots of extras to make your buns super special. Chicken is on offer too, with the quickest marinade alongside home-made pickles and a delicious take on Nasi Goreng, using sweet potato noodles and friend crispy eggs.

It's easier than you think, I promise! Give it a go! The quantities below will be suitable for between 4-6 people to feast on.


- 5kg pork shoulder 
- 400ml light soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil
- 100 ml light soy sauce 
- 3 tbsp runny honey 
- 2 star anise 
- 1 cinnamon stick 
- 2 tbsp five space
- 300 ml chicken stock 


- Place your pork into a slow cooker or casserole dish.
- Coat the pork in the honey and then the five spice. 
- Add the rest of the liquid ingredients and pop in the star anise and cinnamon
- The pork needs to be covered in liquid, if it isn't, add enough water to just cover the meat. 
- Cook in the oven for 5-7 hours at 130-140 degrees Celsius, depending on how hot your oven is. When the meat is ready, it will literally fall apart when a fork is pressed to it. Pull all the meet apart and drizzle some of the cooking liquor over it to keep it moist and most importantly, delicious. 


- 3 to 4 breasts depending on number of guests
- 4 tbsp onion granules 
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp runny honey 
-100 ml soy sauce 

-  Place the chicken in a freezer bag  and cover with a tea towel. Bash with a rolling pin to flatten and tenderise the meat. 
- Add all the ingredients to the bag and mix together to ensure the chicken is completely coated. 
- Mix together so the chicken is coated cook in an over at 180 degrees celcius for 12-15 minutes or until cooked through. 
- Served chopped up finely, to fit into the buns well. 


Sweet potato noodles are actually made from the sweet potato starch. They have a very smooth texture and see through appearance. Buy them online or from your local Chinese supermarket. If you can't get hold of them, any fine noodles work well. 

- 3 nests of noodles
- 100ml chicken stock
- 4 spring onions, chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 green chilli, roughly chopped
 - 1 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp of rice vinegar
-1 egg per person
- Siracha sauce (Korean chilli sauce)

- Cook your noodles for five minutes in boiling water. When soft, place in a bowl of cold water to remove excess starch.
- When cool, add all of the ingredients to the noodles, cover and let stand.
- Just before you serve your feast, the eggs need to be cooked. For that, heat some sesame oil in a pan, and crack in one egg at a time. They need to be cooked quickly, but on a hot heat to ensure that they become crispy but maintain a runny yolk.
- pour your noodles into a dish, placing the eggs on top. Drizzle over some chilli sauce and a sprinkle of coriander before serving.


- Half a cucumber, chopped finely into half moon shapes
- One red onion, finely sliced
- Rice vinegar
- Sesame oil
- Sugar

- Creating home made pickles could not be easier! Place your vegetables into separate bowls. Onto each add 3 tbsp on vinegar.
- for the onions, add 1 tsp of sugar and 2 tsp of sugar to the cucumber.
- Finally add 1 tsp of sesame oil to each and let stand for around an hour. They are then ready!

- Place your buns into a steamer for around 10 minutes.
- Serve when they are warm and fluffy!


- I like to serve chopped spring onion, beansprouts and peanuts so that people can build their own buns alongside the pickles.

- Its also great to serve a sauce of mayonnaise mixed with Sriracha sauce and peanut butter mixed with soy sauce.

Give this hands on feast a go over the party season. I know there seems to be a lot of reading above, but honestly it is so worth it. The tastes are flavorsome, rich and delicious and there is nothing better than letting people build up their own meals, to suit their own taste buds. 


Friday 20 October 2017


Let's face it, the humble Spaghetti Bolognese is a true family favourite, go to mid-week meal and first time cooking venture when you're 17 and looking to win the affection of your crush. With 670 million portions being consumed in Britain each year, i'm looking to give you a few tried and tested tips that will make you create your tastiest Bolognese to date.

Admittedly, not all the additions below are truly authentic, for that you need to stick to a combination of veal and pork mince, chicken liver, red wine and passata, but what I can promise is that if you follow my tips, you won't be reverted to jarred Bolognese sauces any more. 
  •  Never use onion as the base alone. Finely chop and sweat off a combination of red onion, carrot celery and green pepper. The mix creates a sweet yet savory depth that you don't get with onion alone.
  • To the veg add smoked Pancetta, including fat. It creates superior flavour and adds moisture.
  • Combine beef and pork mince. Pork is fattier and softer than beef mince, the result is a melt in the mouth, pillowy texture.
  • Don't be shy of herbs - oregano, bay leaves and Thyme all go into mine. 
  • Use half a bottle of red wine, as well as your canned tomatoes/passata. The depth of flavour is undeniable. 
  • Add two teaspoons of sugar. You won't make a sweet sauce, but you will intensify the flavours by contradicting the sharpness of the wine and tomatoes. 
  • Add a tablesoon of smoked water. Yes I do mean smoked water! It's my favourite find of 2015, adds a rich savoury flavour to any dish and makes the meat feel like its been simmering for days. My go-to is Halen-Mon, the smokiest water I ever did smell. 

  • NEVER cook for any less than two and a half hours. Let that meat soak up all those flavours. Treat it like a slow cooked stew. The best Bolognese sauces cook for 4-5 hours on a very low heat. 
  • Finally, add a tablesoon of olive oil and a shed load of black pepper to your spaghetti, for silky smoothness and authentic Italian flavour. 
  • ENJOY! With a glass of red, crusty bread rubbed with fresh garlic and drizzled with olive oil, slippers and a roaring fire, (optional, yet pivotal). 

Wednesday 19 July 2017

Getting Cheesy with Västerbottensost this summer

J'ADORE LE FROMAGE. Or jag älskar ost in Swedish. As a massive foodie, i'm always excited to get my hands on something new and with the Scandi scene becoming ever more popular in terms of both cuisine and interior design, the chance to cook with this famous Scandinavian 'King of Cheese' was a must.

So how does it taste I hear you fromage fanatics cry? In a word: Delicious. In a few words: moorish and salty with a subtle sharpness which likens a good, mature Parmesan. Aged for 14 months develops of a real hearty character, which gives it that 'once you start you just can't stop' trait.

Now that summer is upon us, I urge you to whip up one of the following recipes to lug along to your Prosecco fuelled picnics or alfresco feasts lazing within a quintessentially English garden. You'll be sipping on a crisp Sauvignon whilst introducing a taste of Scandinavia to your summer rendezvous(I hope i'm suitably painting the picture for you). Or if you're entertaining with a BBQ at home, the below recipes make a perfect treat amongst all the bangers and burgers typically on offer. Västerbottensost is available from Waitrose and I promise, it's pretty special. Get your hands on some before everyone gets a taste for it and bask in it's savoury glory throughout the summer months.

The recipes below are ideal for entertaining and have been co-created with famous Swedish chef Filip Fasten, allowing you to show off your culinary talents with some gentle guidance from a master! The cheese pie is an absolute MUST.

Västerbottensost cheese pie with fried onions

For the pastry:

125 grams of butter
300g of flour
2 tablespoons of water

Heat the oven to 200°c.
Mix together the butter, flour and water and roll it out to a thin dough. Put it in a pie dish with a detachable bottom, then let it cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes. Notch it with a fork and pre-bake it for 10 minutes. Let it cool off. While it cools, fry off your onions until soft.

For the filling:

4oog of grated Västerbottensost cheese
200ml of cream
100ml milk
200ml of fried onions
A grating of nutmeg
Pinch of salt

Put the onions on the bottom of the pie. Mix the remaining ingredients together and pour it in the pie dish. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 25-30 minutes until firm. Top it off with some wild herbs if you fancy and enjoy!

Wild herbs that could be used:

Wood sorrel

If you're a fish lover give the following recipe a bash. It's offers a very authentically Scandi dish to really give a taste of Sweden. Perfect on a BBQ spread. 

Potatoes Gratin with Whitefish Roe and Chive

Swedish traditional potatoes are usually boiled and accompanied by herring, but this recipe offers a twist one the classic, using oven baked potatoes. Absolutely delicious, easy to make and to be enjoyed by all.

1 kg washed fresh potatoes
200g Västerbottensost cheese, grated
200g parsley
200ml canola oil
200ml sour cream
50g whitefish roe
2 onions (sliced)
1 handful of dill
50g chive

 Turn on the grill.

Heat the canola oil to 60-70°c.

Place the parsley in a mixer, mix until it’s a smooth paste together with the oil, place the paste in a strainer with a coffee filter.

Boil the potatoes in salted water until they’re semi soft.

Place the potatoes on an oven tray. Make the cheese into small balls and place a cheese ball on each potato.

Bake in the oven until the cheese is melted and slightly crusted.

Mix the whitefish roe, sour cream and the parsley oil.

Top the potatoes with the roe mixture, picked parsley, dill and sliced onion. Finish off by crumbling down bits of Västerbottensost cheese and black pepper.

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