Gooseberry Jam

We went fruit picking the other week! The only thing that was really plentiful due to our BEAUTIFUL British summertime (sigh) were the gooseberries and rhubarb, so of course I picked the most ridiculous quantity I could and brought it all home in readiness for kitchen fun.

Here I am in a fetching rhubarb hat:

IMG_5753And my bountiful rhubarb haul:


I’ve separated the stems into thin, medium and thick so I can use the more delicate stems for desserts when I want pretty poached rhubarb in it’s natural shape or thicker stems for squadging under pastry or crumble in winter time.

Both of these fruits (is rhubarb a fruit? Or a root?) freeze really well so I cooked up a batch of gooseberry jam to start off with and then froze everything else ready for inspiration to strike. Current ideas for the rest of it are:

Individual Rhubarb, Yoghurt and Meringue “Trifles”

Gooseberry Crumble (of course)

Roast Pork with Gooseberry Relish

Rhubarb and Custard Tarts

When they’re made, they’ll go up on here…

Now jam. Jam is really anyone’s game, it is so easy to make but just make sure the fruit you are using has enough pectin to set. Raspberries and strawberries, for instance, are low in pectin, while apples, citrus fruits, gooseberries and currants are high. If your fruits are low in pectin you can add lemon juice or use a jam sugar with pectin added to assist the setting process. Amazing info on this website That’s right… Jam World. I’d like to go there!

Gooseberries have a high pectin level so expect your jam to set within about 8 minutes of boiling. I use a jam thermometer to measure mine but the frozen saucer trick works just as well. Put a few saucers in the freezer before you start cooking the jam. When it starts to look ready (see note about colour below), take a saucer out of the freezer and put a small dollop of the jam on the surface. Leave it for a minute (take the jam off the heat while you do this) and then gently push the edge of the dollop. If it wrinkles, it’s done!


Gooseberry Jam

Any quantity of gooseberries

The same quantity of caster sugar

(I used 600g of gooseberries and 600g sugar and it made 3 x 0.35L jars so expect your overall quantity to reduce by about a quarter after cooking)

a tiny dash of water

Wash and pick over your berries. You want to cut off the little brown stalks on each gooseberry. It takes time, but put the radio on .

Now put your gooseberries in the pan with a tiny splash of water (goseberries will release a huge amount of liquid when heated so this is just to stop them sticking for the first moment) and heat until they start to release their liquid. Now add the sugar and bring to the boil. Boil for around 8 minutes (it can take between 5 and 12 minutes to be ready depending on the quantity of fruit. Mine took about 10 minutes)

Gooseberry jam is magic. It will go from green:

IMG_5785To a lovely and unexpected rosy red.


When the jam is ready. Put it into sterilized jars and ENJOY!


Don’t forget to visit for the latest info on the #MUNCH food festival! Coming up in less than 2 weeks! Eek!





Filed under Recipes


Hello there followers!

So it’s one year (plus a bit) later and I think  I’m past the apology stage so I’m just going to jump right in!

A LOT has happened.

A roof top wedding, a new company and a new job…

Beautiful Supper Table



















And it’s thanks to PEXMAS for my jet-packed launch back into the blogosphere because yesterday I had a rather FANTASTIC time squishing squirty-cream pies into local Peckham business owners’ faces. Yes that’s right…

Let me tell you how we got here…

Last Christmas my dearest friend and colleague in crime, Sarah suggested we do something FUN. We plotted and schemed and decided that a festive market was just what Peckham (and our work lives) needed, so Pexmas was born. Pexmas Festive Market was held at The Dye House in Peckham to an audience of 2,000 merry shoppers. We had stalls selling everything from bespoke chocolate brownies to Bauhaus inspired jewelery; Sarah and I developed the worlds most delicious mulled wine and I squirreled away in my kitchen every night making 1,000 Tudor Mince Pies (first seen at my Tudor Feast). It was just too good to not do another so we formed a company with our Dye House friends Nicky and Guy and now we are launching our next market into the world: MUNCH! A fantastic phenomenal foodie market, right in the heart of Peckham.

13th – 14th JULY 2013 MUNCH is coming. A food market with a whole lot more… Talks, workshops, demos, street food, fresh produce, cheese, brownies craft beer, kitchenware, tableware, tupperware! So you must ALL come and sample the fine delights MUNCH has to offer. To promote and spread the word about Pexmas our collaborator in crime John Quilter came up with the idea of a massive pie fight, and of course we couldn’t resist that! He’d throw the pies, we’d spread the word and hopefully pie themed publicity chaos would ensue!

So in honour of the upcoming market I deliver you, the first recipe from Anna’s Cafe 2013…

How to make a #MUNCH #PIE !



Spray Paint

Paper Plates

Squirty Cream

A Willing Business Owner

First take your finest logo and slice it diligently into a template!


Now visit Khan’s Bargains and purchase their cheapest spray paint and decorate your paper plates

Spray Cream

Delicately apply squirty-cream to your finely decorated plates and search out your first victim business owner

Apply the plate, to their face (John Quilter optional), film it, tag it, and stick it on VINE (witty comments optional)JQ

I know, I know, this is HARDLY a recipe of my usual calibre (!) but I urge you all to go out there and take a pie for the team… the Pexmas Team! #MUNCH #PIE and next time, I promise a REAL recipe. Maybe even a real custard pie. Now that’s a pie I would get behind, or in front of!

Find all the info, details of the wonderful participants (and the pie films!) here…


and here…



Nice to be back x

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Filed under Pexmas, Recipes

Long time, no blog…

Hello everyone….

I am of course, feeling rather bashful for not posting a recipe for well over 2 months… But it has been a VERY busy 2 months. A very busy year in fact…

I’m going to bite the bullet, and tell you all about it…

Last year I left my job in a big arts organisation and decided I would see if I could turn my cooking into a career. I also knew that I didn’t want to lose the momentum of several other projects brewing with my newly freelanced partner in crime and dearest friend ST, so I took the bizarre decision to do both: arts/education event project management, and cooking. It has been an interesting experiment to say the least.

It started with this, my beloved blog. Writing about my recipes is cathartic and confidence building in equal measure, next was starting a company for London’s under 25s to access participatory arts opportunities and deliver bespoke project management with ST and finally, catering, and cooking professionally…

One of the main challenges as a freelancer is making sure that each of your employers know that they are the priority. Because of course, they ALL ARE, all at once. I am currently working on several bespoke catering commissions, being a chef 3 days a week, and administrating a massive arts organisation on a car park roof in Peckham; not to mention planning our entirely DIY wedding in September…Juggling is not the word. But I am keeping up, getting things done and moving forward.

Now I am facing the conundrum of which to choose… Or do I continue doing everything? Every aspect of each of my jobs is fulfilling at this point: whipping up pizzettas at the cafe on makeshift pizza stones from the hardware store, drawing up endless schedules for a gang of fantastic and enthusiastic interns on the roof and dreaming up menus for a wide variety of catering clients… I don’t want to chose! So for now, I won’t… I am certainly enjoying having the freedom to do everything I love.

I have been cooking (for those of you wondering when I’m going to get to the recipe) but documenting things at home has become very rare as so much else takes precedence (those schedules for example) so a recipe post now feels impossible to start! How about we take a vote? I need a push to get me writing on here again so why don’t you let me know what you’d like to see… Take your pick, A, B or C

A. Vegetable Tarts and Perfect Shortcrust Pastry (for hungry customers at a cafe)

B. Summer Ribollita (for when you have 6 people over for a meeting on a Saturday)

C. Cooking for Caravanners (for when you finally get a holiday)

***Please note: This post will be written, but only once we open the exhibition on the roof, and I get back from my hen-do next week, and once I’ve thought up several pizza toppings for the new Pizzetta Thursdays at the Cafe and….. Oh gawd…


Filed under Recipes

Pearl Barley and Puy Lentil Salad

I have recently started working at the gorgeous Anderson & Co in Peckham from Wednesday to Friday cooking breakfasts and lunches. The cafe opened nearly 2 years ago and have graced our local high street with excellent coffee and homemade food and cakes. The best thing about having a new job is all the new people to cook for. I have had a lovely freedom to experiment since starting and I hope to share a few of the recipes we have been serving up to our lovely customers.

This one had been brewing in my mind for a while as I absolutely adore pearl barley and its nubby, nutty little bite. I wanted to create a salad that was a substantial meal and contained enough variety in each bite to keep you interested. I find that a salad is often so samey, every bite the same combination. A great salad, awakens your tastebuds with texture, variety and flavour.

There are several elements to this salad to give it it’s zingy fresh mix of pimento, sweet squash and fresh mint but one of the main flavours comes from the marinaded peppers. These are equally good just on their own and keep excellently in the fridge. Make a big batch and serve them on pizza or as antipasti. Make these first, and roast the butternut squash for the salad at the same time.

Marinaded Peppers

6 Red cap peppers

1 tsp sherry vinegar

1/3 tsp paprika

1 tbsp olive oil

Brush a baking sheet with a little oil and turn the oven on high (Gas 6, 200 degrees)

While the oven is pre-heating, cut your peppers in half and remove the stalk and seeds.

Place the peppers face down, skin side up on the baking tray.

Put them in the hot oven until the skins are starting to blacken and the flesh shrink. About 30-40 minutes.

When they are ready take them out of the oven and move them from the baking tray to either a plastic bag or a bowl that you can cover with clingfilm. This makes the peppers sweat and after 15 minutes they will be cool enough to handle and the skins will peel off easily. Retain all the liquid they will have seeped out.

Once they are all peeled put the peppers and their lovely juices in a jar or bowl and add the vinegar, paprika and olive oil and mix.


Now your peppers are made we can get on with the salad…

Pearl Barley and Puy Lentil Salad

250g pearl barley

150g puy lentils

1/2 a butternut squash, cut into cubes about 2cm

A small handful of marinaded peppers torn into strips (and a few tablespoons of their juices if you can spare them)

1 large red onion, sliced into very thin rounds or strips

4 chorizo sausages

a large handful of parsley, chopped

a large handful of mint, chopped

A few spoons of yoghurt to serve, with extra mint stirred through if you fancy


First roast your butternut squash on a big tray with a slosh of olive oil and some salt and pepper for about 40 minutes at gas 6 or 200degrees

Cook the pearl barley and puy lentils in separate pans of deep salted water for the required amount of time (barley about 30-40 mins, lentils a little less). Both behave very well and need no pre-soaking or faffing.

Fry your chorizo in a pan until it’s sticky on the outside and has released it’s fiery red oil. Slice the chorizo into bite sized pieces.

When the lentils and barley are cooked, drain and while still warm, toss with the thinly sliced onions and a couple of tablespoons of the chorizo oil. When it has cooled add the butternut, chorizo, peppers and herbs and serve either slightly warm or at room temperature. It goes beautifully with a simple green salad on the side and a dollop of mint spiked yoghurt on top.





Filed under Lunch, Meat, Pulses, Quick, Recipes, Starter, Supper, vegetables, Vegetarian

Hot Not Cross Buns

Happy Easter everybody! Yesterday I made the traditional Easter treat: hot cross buns. I left the cross off. Secular Buns.
There is simply nothing more satisfying than making a tray of buns. I’m not so good at bread or cakes but buns, buns I can do. Straight out of the oven they are soft, spiced, covered with a sticky spicy glaze and in their neat little rows. Nothing quite like a bun. I’m about to have one (or two) for my breakfast…

This recipe is from Elizabeth David (the same book listed here with my post about Chelsea Buns). It’s lovely. I’m writing this quickly so you can all have a bash at them today or tomorrow… go on. You won’t regret it. Just remember to leave at least 4 hours. Both rising times are about 2 hours so if you want buns at tea time, start at 11ish… you’ve got an hour now to go and find the ingredients.

Hot Cross Buns

450-500g strong plain flour (I used the full amount. It will vary according to the flour you use, your local climate, just follow your fingers. I’ll describe how mine was as closely as I can)

30g fresh yeast (or dried equivalent)

125g currants

1 tablespoon salt (since first publishing this post my trusty recipe testers have queried this large sounding amount… I used Maldon sea salt flakes, a flat tablespoons worth. If you are using finely milled salt you should reduce this by half to avoid a savoury bun)

280ml milk, warmed to blood heat (put about 30ml aside. You might not need it all)

60g soft light brown sugar

60g butter

2 teaspoons mixed spice

2 eggs


25ml water

25g caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon mixed spice

First cream your yeast. Use a little of the warmed milk from the 25oml to activate the yeast. Just pour it over and wait for it to go creamy or if you’re using dried, foamy.

While the yeast is creaming combine (in a warm bowl if you can manage it) the 450g flour, sugar salt and spice. Mix it together with your hands and make a well in the centre. If you need the further 50g flour, you’ll add it later.

Add your butter to the warmed milk so it completely softens. Now add the 2 eggs, beaten (I didn’t do this and it was hard to properly break them up once they were added to the flour)

Pour the yeast into the flour and then add the milk, eggs and butter.

Bring the dough together with a wooden spoon. It will be very sticky! Make sure to combine all the ingredients. This is not a dough you can really lift or touch easily. I used a spoon the whole time as it was just to sticky to handle.
Now add the currants and fold them through the dough thoroughly.

I used the full quantity of flour at this point as my dough wasn’t coming together properly but rather sticking in strands to the spoon and the side of the bowl. You want it to hold together. Look at this picture to see what it was like in the end after the remainder of the flour was added:

It’s still sticky, but happily sits together.

Now it needs to prove. Cover your bowl in cling film and put it in a very warm place. Elizabeth David recommends steam to help it along (not sure where you’d find this) and Dan Lepard even suggests a very low oven to kick start the process. Spices make yeast lazy so it’s not quick. Mine took around 2 hours to double in a very warm room wrapped in a tea towel next to the radiator.

Prepare your bun tin. Grease a large baking sheet and then coat it with flour. Tap the edges of the tin to fully and evenly distribute the flour all over it. You don’t want your buns to stick… you want to get them out quick so you can stuff them in your mouth!

Once the dough is double it’s size very generously dust a surface and your hands with flour. Sprinkle more flour onto the dough as you pull it away from the edges of the bowl. It won’t really want to come out but show it who’s boss.

Drop the dough onto your floury surface, flour your hands again and knead it briefly to bring it together. It feels so lovely at this point and it smells delicious.

Now divide your dough into 16. Elizabeth David says it makes 24.. but I don’t know how. I use a very sharp knife (which I also coat in flour) to slice the dough into equal sized pieces.

Shape your pieces into rounds. I improvised at this point, you just want a tight little ball.

This is where you would normally make the cross cut in the top, which is the traditional way to treat these buns. If you do this, they will not rise high but spread. If your dough is too soft and sticky they may not do much of either. If you’d rather do a pastry cross use Dan Lepard’s recipe here. In fact, his whole recipe looks pretty nice, I might try it next time…

Line the buns up in your bun tin evenly spaced apart and now it’s time for prove number 2. Lightly oil some cling film and place it over the buns. Leave them in your warm place again and let them double again

When they have risen, pre heat the oven to gas 5/6 and cook for 15-20 minutes.

While they are cooking heat the glaze ingredients in a pan and boil until it becomes syrupy.

When you get the buns out of the oven brush them with the glaze and lift gently onto a cooling rack.

Some of them will have stuck together in satisfying little lines and you’ll have to prize them apart and get your fingers all sticky to split them open and spread them with butter. An absolutely wonderful indulgence. I highly recommend you take the time to make these as there really is nothing better than buns.


Phil, I made these buns for your birthday but now you are ill. Get well soon and I’ll make them for you another year!


Filed under Baking, Bread, Breakfast, Cake, Fruit, Recipes

Chilli Oil

So very spicy, and so very good!

I made this chilli oil when I saw the most beautiful peppers at the wondrous Khans Bargains on Rye Lane in Peckham. They looked like the usual scotch bonnet peppers we have an abundance of in our local markets, those fiery Caribbean beauties that come in fluorescent hues of orange, yellow, red and green, but these ones were smaller, and the skin was thicker. They looked dangerous, so I bought them.

Fiery Chilli Oil

2 handfuls of hot peppers (you can use any type of chilli for this really)
Olive Oil
Dried chilli flakes (if you want to feel the burn)

Find a suitable receptacle and sterilise it well, including the lid. Sterilising tips in this post here. (I used an old ketchup bottle as it had a nice large opening better to stuff the peppers into. A smaller opening is better for pouring though so maybe invest in one of those oil pouring spouts if you have an aversion to great sloshes when you want a drizzle)

Thoroughly wash and dry your peppers, coat in a little olive oil and roast on a high heat in the oven until the peppers are starting to shrink, about 15 minutes.You’ll know when they are ready because the smell coming from the oven will make your eyes water!

Drop the warm peppers into your receptacle:

Sprinkle in a few chilli flakes if you fancy

Top with olive oil, seal. Wait at least a few days so the flavour can fully mingle.

I continue to top my oil up with fresh olive oil as I use it. The heat from the peppers has lasted and intensified so I should really call this never ending chilli oil.

KITCHEN TIP: I have heard stories that the chillies can go mouldy when treated like this. As far as I know, if you use raw chillies you have to be really careful when you wash and then DRY them. Any remaining water will encourage mould. If you roast them as I did I think this problem is averted as you are killing any bacteria on the chillies. It would also be advisable to warm the oil or even slowly heat the oil and chillies together before bottling. I’ll let you know if I have any problems. Until then, I’ll be making many pizzas and spicing them up…


Filed under Kitchen Tips, Preserving, Recipes

Preserving and Pickling Things…

Sometimes there just aren’t enough accompaniments and condiments in the fridge. Actually, when you live with a vinegar addict, there are never enough condiments in the fridge. At times I believe he would prefer a sandwich without the bread, just  many varying condiments and pickled items in between two slices of cheese… So I indulge him from time to time.

I really like pickling and preserving things. There’s something very rewarding about sealing something up in a jar and saving it up for just the right moment. The tomato chutney I wrote about last year in October rested and waited very patiently in the fridge until I  decided our Christmas party was the right time for it’s glorious showcase.  We scooped it up onto on rye crackers with a soft goats cheese. It was a sensational (though I do say so myself) combination, soft, crunchy and strong; and it had just been waiting, very quietly for its perfect pairing and all I had to do was open a jar.

Pickled Onions

These make an excellent gift, I gave jars and jars away at Christmas. There is nothing nicer than left over cold meats, some strong cheese and a pickled onion.

You have to start pickled onions the day before, to give them a good brine. Some recipes don’t call for this but I  like to as it tenderises them before submerging them in the vinegar and then you don’t have to wait so long to open the jar and eat! Maybe 3 weeks instead of 6. The quantity below will make about 3 medium kilner jars but if you’re making gifts double or even triple it. Check how the un-prepared onions fit in your jars before you start so you don’t get left with one lone onion with nowhere to go.

1 lb pickling onions or shallots

1oz salt

Pickling spice about 1/2 a teaspoon per jar : I make up a mix and store it in an old spice jar: use 2tsp mustard seeds, 1/2 tsp dried chilli, 2 tsp peppercorns, 2 tsp all spice, 2 tsp corriander seed.

600ml vinegar (I use a mixture of malt and white)

100g brown sugar

1 dried bay leaf per jar

First, begin the long slow process of peeling your onions. I like to leave the long top on mine so I just slice off the flat root end and then laboriously peel the brown layers away

Now heat about 1l of water mixed with the 1oz salt until the salt has dissolved. Let the water cool down and then submerge your onions and weigh them down. I use a plate and the kilner jars. Now leave this overnight.

The next day, drain your onions and sterilise your jars. I do this by washing them in very hot soapy water and putting them in a hot oven to dry. I put lids or the orange seals into boiling water for a minute.

Now heat the vinegars, sugar and pickling spice over a low heat until it just comes to the boil. Now turn it off.
Divide your onions between the warm dry jars, pop in a bay leaf and pour the vinegar over. You can drain the spices out of the vinegar if you want as they will have released  their flavour into the hot vinegar, but I leave mine in.

Now seal the jars up and store them for a minimum of 2 weeks before you eat them.

Now for the beetroot. Measurements are approximate here as it depends on how much you want to make and how big your beetroots are! I made one jar of these because I had 2 huge beetroots and guessed at the vinegar quantity. If you have vinegar left over, store it in a jar with all the spices and then use it as a ‘starter’ for your next pickling escapade.

Pickled Beetroot

4 medium fresh beetroot

200ml malt vinegar

1 tsp of spice mix mentioned above. (In beetroot you can also use cinnamon sticks and cloves for a lovely rich flavour)

1-2tbsp golden caster sugar

Sterilise a jar as mentioned before

First boil your beetroot whole and unpeeled in water for around 30 minutes or until tender to the point of a knife

When they are ready, run them under cold water or let them cool down before you peel them. The skin will come away easily but I still use a peeler to minimise the purple fingers!

Now slice your beetroots into the shape and size you fancy. I did mine in half and then into 4, you don’t want them to be too chunky. Rounds are also nice because you can see the lovely pattern inside the beetroot…and they fit into a sandwich better.

Tightly pack all your beetroot pieces into your sterilised jar

Warm your vinegar sugar and spices in a pan and then strain it over the beetroots.

Seal the jar and wait at least 2-3 weeks. Or if you’re Tom, open immediately and consume within 3 days.


Filed under Kitchen Tips, Pickle, Preserving, Recipes, vegetables, Vegetarian