Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée


Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée

Yet again my husband gets a mention and I’m beginning to realise that much of what I cook is dictated by his own likes and dislikes. He believes he is a connoisseur of the french classic, Crème Brûlée and will weigh up the quality of this dessert in restaurants compared to my own meagre offering. He still claims my version is the piece de resistance, but what he doesn’t know is that my recipe is a cheat version, as it is not cooked in a bain marieI’m not sure why he likes my recipe so much, but I think it is a combination of the crack of the caramelised sugar, the thick, but not quite set custard of the brûlée and the taste of fresh raspberries at the bottom.

We had some friends for supper last night and yet again he requested Crème Brûlée as his choice of dessert. I agreed, but decided to add my own twist by introducing Passion Fruit instead of raspberries. I recently visited a local restaurant (The Green) for lunch as part of a work related event and for pudding I ordered a Passion Fruit Crème Brûlée. Whilst I didn’t ask the chef for the recipe I thought that the combination worked really well. So with my age-old cheat recipe from a Cooking for Two Sainsburys cookbook committed to memory, (I don’t even have this recipe any more) I began to shake up my life some what by introducing a little passion (fruit) into the situation!

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Turbot alla Livornese


Turbot alla Livornese

My husband loves fish so when I have the time to really cook something different, I try to ensure I source the freshest fish possible and that usually means heading to our local fish stall on a Saturday morning. I wasn’t sure what type of fish to choose when I visited yesterday, but I knew I wanted to make a Livornese sauce to accompany whichever fish I selected. I have only recently learnt about this sauce after watching one of the Masterchef contestants, under the guidance of the wonderful Massimo Bottura, create the most beautiful fish dish with a Livornese sauce. This sauce originates from Livorno in Tuscany and whilst it is a relatively simple recipe the flavours are heavenly. The taste of the sea, ripe tomatoes and hint of garlic immediately transport you to the world of mediterranean cuisine. The dish feels healthy yet at the same time, indulgent and the colour of the sauce looks stunning on the plate.

For this recipe I chose a very large and quite expensive Turbot, which my friendly fish man filleted for me. Traditionally a Livornese sauce is served with Red Mullet, but after a little research I found that other fish such a sole or turbot also work well with this recipe. Whatever fish you choose to buy to accompany your Livornese sauce, be sure to ask your fishmonger for some fish bones and possibly some large raw, king prawns to help you make the base for the sauce. I also purchased a small bag of clams, to add to the dish just before serving. The result was delicious and I made so much sauce that I have been able to freeze some for another day.

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Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

Tortellini with spinach and ricotta

I have had my pasta making machine for many years, but it is only recently that I have I started to get to grips using it. In the last few years I have travelled to Italy and Spain, but the best pasta I have ever tasted has been in a bijou restaurant in Jesus Pobre in Spain. La Tasca is a very small courtyard restaurant and is really the most magical, and dare I say it romantic setting you could ever wish for. There is an array of barbecued fish and meats to choose from and the choice of pasta and sauces would rival any Italian restaurant.

La Tasca

La Tasca

One of my favourite pasta dishes at La Tasca is their Spinach and Ricotta Tortellini with a butter sauce, although their parmesan cream sauce is pretty spectacular too. However I must get back to the point of the recipe before I begin day dreaming about warm evenings sat in that cosy courtyard. Oh how I would love to own a place just like La Tasca…

For the purpose of this recipe I have combined inspiration taken from La Tasca with a smattering of Carluccio’s flavours. I hope you find this dish as delicious as my family do and whether you serve it as a starter or a main course it is sure to please.

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Crab Crostini

Canapé Recipe - Crab Crostini

Canapé Recipe – Crab Crostini

Over the next few months I aim to post a variety of recipe ideas for canapés, so I’m starting by sharing my favourite nibble. Crab Crostini is one of the quickest and easiest recipes I know and the visual impact is very pleasing. This is primarily because when the green and chilli is added to the crab meat it gives the canapé a jewelled effect. However if the look doesn’t tempt you then I guarantee that the taste will, as the freshness of the flavours makes your taste buds come alive.

This recipes is from Nigella Lawson’s book Nigella Christmas, but the recipe can also be found on numerous sites on the internet.

If anyone wishes to share a canapé recipe idea with me, please send it through and I will give it a whirl and let you know how I get on.

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Mackerel Salad with Beetroot and Horseradish Cream


Mackerel Salad with Beetroot and Horseradish Cream

 Midweek I am always in a rush to find something quick and easy to make for supper and a simple salad or snack is usually the answer. We all know that fish and particularly oily fish is good for us, so last week I plumped for peppered mackerel. The recipe for this chosen dish is simply based on a salad I tasted in a local cafe last year. I recall at the time I was impressed with the combinations of flavours and pleased with myself that I had made such a good choice for lunch.

Mackerel has quite an intense flavour with creamy meat, so I knew I needed something sharp and possibly sweet to cut through the oil and compliment the robustness of the fish. With this in mind I selected beetroot as an accompaniment and just to add an extra kick, I combined horseradish and Creme Fraiche to create a cream dressing for the salad. The crunchy and creamy textures combined with the sweetness of the beetroot and the heat from the Horseradish work extremely well together. This results in a salad which is not only scrumptious, but packed with healthy produce and perfect for a mid-week supper. Try it and I bet it will put a spring in your step!

Mackerel with Beetroot and Horseradish Cream

Prep Time 15 mins

Serves 2


10-12 Small New Potatoes

2 Peppered Mackerel Fillets

4 Beetroot

Mixed leaves

1 Red Pepper

10-12 Cherry Tomatoes

2 Dessert Spoons of Creme Fraiche

2 Tsps of Horseradish (add more if you like it hot)


1. Boil the kettle first as this saves time. Thanks must go to Jamie Oliver for this helpful tip.

2. Slice the new potatoes in half (lengthways) and put in a pan with the boiling water and cook for about 15 minutes until soft. Check after 10mins.

3. Place the mixed leaves in the bowls and slice the tomatoes in half and add to the leaves. Finally add sliced pepper to the salad.

4. Remove the mackerel from its skin and remove any rogue bones you can see or feel. Then roughly tear the mackerel into bite sized pieces and scatter over the salad.

5. Whilst you are waiting for the potatoes to soften mix the creme fraiche with the horseradish and leave to one side. Taste to check you have got the balance right and adjust accordingly.

6. Once the potatoes are ready, drain and if time allows cool a little and then scatter amongst the mackerel.

7. Finally dollop small spoonfuls of Horseradish cream over the salad and serve.