Thursday, 25 April 2013

rose harissa chilli sauce

Rose harissa chilli sauce - a real 'knock your socks off' chilli sauce with plenty of flavour - influenced by the traditional North African harissa sauce.  Great for marinades, as a dipping sauce or just serving as a condiment with your food.  My rose harissa chilli sauce is inspired by the brilliant Salt Sugar Smoke by Diana Henry and an adaption of her recipe for harissa.  I highly recommend you get yourself a copy - an inspiring and eclectic read about preserving.  Delicious!

Harissa has many uses in North African cooking and is also popular in countries where these populations have immigrated, for example in the UK and France. It is often seen served to accompany stews and cous cous dishes or as a marinade for meat. However as well as using harissa in the more traditional way it is also great on burgers or even a fried egg! 

My harissa recipe includes the addition of rose petal jam that I have had in my cupboard for ages picked up on a trip to France.  However you could easily substitute this with rose flower water - another North African staple ingredient.  The resulting sauce has a big chilli kick but also a really full and complex mix of flavours - citrussy, garlicky and floral all at the same time.  I hope you enjoy it.

My recipe for rose harissa lamb with roast vegetable salad will follow shortly........


3 tsp coriander seeds
3 tsp caraway seeds
3 tsp cumin seeds
6 fresh chillies (I leave the seeds in, but you can take them out if you want)
3 tsp dried chilli flakes
10 garlic cloves
juice and zest of 1 lemon
small bunch of fresh coriander
2 tbs rose petal jam or rose flower water
100ml oil  (plus more for storing)
100ml water
salt to taste

  • add the coriander, caraway and cumin seeds to a dry pan and toast for about 3-4 minutes to release the flavour - do not take your eye off this as you need to be careful not to burn the spices.  When this is done blitz in a spice mill or pestle and mortar. 
  • next add all the other ingredients to a food processor and blend until smooth.   At this stage you can omit the water for a thicker paste but I am going for a thick, pouring consistency. 

  • pour the blended sauce into a sterilised jar and top with a layer of oil to help preservation. Store in the fridge -  I would use this within 3 weeks - but it will definitely be gone before then!  You can of course make a smaller batch of this recipe to start off with to see how you get on.

rose harissa chilli sauce  on Punk Domestics

I am also entering this recipe onto: Four Seasons Food hosted by Delicieux and Chezfoti to go with their BBQ and BBQ sides theme.

Four Seasons Food

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

capelli d'angelo (angel hair pasta) with mussels, fennel & chorizo


This is a quick and easy pasta dish - ready in about 15 minutes - the capelli d'angelo (angel hair pasta) only takes about 3 minutes to cook.  I love mussels, but you could easily substitute these for prawns, clams or even tinned tuna.  The smokiness of the chorizo works really well with the aniseedy fennel and mussels.  I hope you enjoy - a really light and "Summery" pasta dish.  I am still being hopeful about the Summer......

Serves 3-4


1 bulb fennel thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic crushed
100g chorizo sliced
250g cooked and shelled mussels (if you are cooking your mussels from fresh make sure your follow proper guidelines - how to prepare and cook mussels)
2 400g tins chopped tomatoes
1 handful frozen petit pois/peas
2 tbs olive oil
1 red chilli or 1 tsp chilli flakes
zest of 1 lemon
salt and pepper to taste
400g capelli d'angelo (angel hair pasta)

  • get all your ingredients together then heat a frying pan with the olive oil. 
  • when hot add the chorizo, garlic, chilli, lemon zest and fennel - cook for about 4-5 minutes until softened. 
  • next add the tinned tomatoes and cook for about 10 more minutes until reduced and thickened up a bit.
  • in the last few minutes add your pasta to a pan of boiling, salted water and the mussels and petit pois into the sauce. 
  • drain your pasta after checking it's done - this takes about 3 minutes -  then add to the sauce and stir until well coated. 
  • check the seasoning and if you want finish with a squeeze of lemon juice.  Serve with a simple green salad and crusty bread. 

Monday, 22 April 2013

fat free sponge with full fat filling

...a slightly contradictory recipe but it works well.  A light and fluffy fat free sponge - almost virtuous - filled with full fat whipped cream and jam!  You could of course substitute a lower fat filling such as low fat creme fraiche or mascarpone and fresh fruit however as I am also doing my bit to prevent food waste (I had a pot of double cream that needed to be used up) that is what I am using.  So if you needed another reason that baking this was a good idea this is not only delicious but also environmentally friendly ;-)

Just off to do my run now......happy baking :-)


4 eggs
180g caster sugar
90g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt


3-4 tbs fruit jam (I used plum)
250ml double cream


  • preheat the oven to 180C and grease and line 2 8" sandwich tins.  
  • whisk the eggs and sugar together for at least 4-5 minutes with an electric whisk - until it is has doubled in size and is light and airy.  
  • sieve in the flour, baking powder and salt and add the vanilla extract - fold in gently with a metal spoon - being careful not to knock the air out.  
  • pour the mixture equally between the 2 tins and bake for approximately 15-20 minutes. It is done when slightly springy to touch.  
  • remove carefully from the tins and leave on a wire rack until completely cool.  
  • for the filling - spread the jam on one of the cakes then whisk up the cream until thick.  
  • spread the cream over the jam before sandwiching with the other cake 
  • sprinkle with icing sugar and it is ready!  Enjoy with a lovely cup of tea.  

Sunday, 21 April 2013

cumin roast lamb with za'atar spiced chickpeas & rocket

Sunday roast lamb with a twist.  I love this combination of cumin roast lamb and za'atar spiced chickpeas with rocket.  A mixture of Middle Eastern and North African flavours that I love to experiment with.

A great alternative to the traditional Sunday roast and ready in half the time.  Full of punchy, strong, earthy flavours and perfect for these warmer Spring days (OK - I am being hopeful as there is a bit of sun in the sky and I didn't wear my waterproof jacket when going out today!).

My za'atar spiced chickpeas are inspired by a recipe for garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach) from the fabulous Moro Cookbook by Sam and Sam Clark.  They go great with this roast lamb but would work equally well as a side dish to any roast or as a tapas with other dishes.

The lamb would also work well with my za'atar roast potatoes or easy flat breads

I hope you enjoy - let me know how you get on......

serves 4-6 people


cumin roast lamb

1.5-2kg lamb shoulder
2 tbs cumin seeds
1 lemon
2 bay leaves
1 head garlic
salt and pepper

za'atar spiced chickpeas & rocket

150g rocket (spinach and watercress would work well too)
2x400g tins cooked chickpeas
400ml water
1 tsp chilli flakes
6 cloves garlic chopped
1 tbs za'atar
150g breadcrumbs (I made mine by giving some stale white bread a whizz in the food processor)
2 tbs red wine/sherry vinegar
2 tbs olive oil

to serve
fresh mint and coriander chopped
lemon wedges


cumin roast lamb

  • preheat the oven to 220C 
  • squeeze the juice of the lemon over the lamb, then rub in the cumin seeds and salt and pepper.
  • place the lamb in a roasting pan with the head of garlic (separated into cloves), bay leaves, and lemon (leftover from juice)
  • roast the lamb for 20 mins per 450g plus an extra 20 mins. Cook at 220C for the first 20 mins and then 190C for the remaining time.  
  • remove from the oven when done and leave to stand for at least 20 minutes which gives the meat a chance to relax and for the flavours to develop.  

za'atar spiced chickpeas & rocket

  • heat a frying pan with the oil, when hot add the breadcrumbs and chopped garlic - fry until lightly golden brown.
  • add the drained chickpeas, za'atar, vinegar and chilli flakes and stir-fry for a few minutes before adding the water.  
  • cook for a few more minutes until well mixed and heated through.   
  • Take off the heat and stir in the rocket to wilt.  
  • This dish is best served at room temperature which gives the flavours a chance to mingle - I leave to stand for about 20 minutes before serving.  

and finally....

  • carve the lamb into large chunky slices and serve with the za'atar spiced chickpeas.
  • garnish with chopped mint and coriander and serve with lemon wedges.
  • Enjoy :-) 

Friday, 19 April 2013

awesome coffee and walnut bundt cake

I do love a bundt cake!  Must be linked to my Polish Gran's baking.  I definitely remember lots of cakes in bundt form.  Anyway - this is my version of one of my favourite cakes - the awesome coffee and walnut.  A favourite amongst cyclists at the 'cake stop' I have been told!  However you don't have to be a cyclist to enjoy this one - or even own a bike.  Feel free to eat a slice while watching TV and having a sedentary afternoon! 

This is a really easy method as everything just gets mixed in together in the bowl before baking.  Feel free to use another nut if you so choose.  I also used hazelnuts in another incarnation of this cake - my equally tasty hazelnut mocha cake. 

I hope you enjoy!  Happy baking :-)


1 cup soured milk/yogurt (squeeze of lemon until milk curdles - don't worry it'll look horrible but will be OK - it helps the rise!)
3 eggs
2 cups light brown sugar
3 cups plain flour
1 cup chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla essence/vanilla pod seeds
1 tsp mixed spice
half cup vegetable oil
2 heaped tsp baking powder
2 level tbs instant coffee granules
1/2 cup cold coffee (made with instant or ground coffee)
pinch salt
cream cheese icing:

1/2 cup icing sugar
1 tsp instant coffee
1 cup cream cheese

Garnish with whatever you fancy or leave plain.  I blitz some leftover cake in the processor to make cake crumbs to sprinkle on top, but you could do this with walnuts, chocolate chips, sprinkling of nutmeg cocoa........

  1. Grease a bundt tin, and dust it lightly with flour. Preheat the oven to 180°C, 350°F.
  2. Sift flour and baking powder into a bowl. Add eggs, milk/yogurt, cold coffee, coffee granules, oil, sugar, vanilla, mixed spice and salt. Beat using an electric whisk for about 3-4 mins
  3. Stir in chopped walnuts.  
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin, and bake in the oven for about 50 minutes until well risen and a skewer comes out clean.
  5. Turn off the oven, and remove cake - leave to cool for about 10 minutes before easing out of the tin.  Then leave to cool completely on a wire rack. 
  6. Mix the icing ingredients together either by hand or in the processor until smooth
  7. Cut the cake in half and divide the icing between the middle and the top of the cake. 
  8. Top with your garnish of choice, then cut yourself a slice and enjoy!