Monday 14 December 2015

Super healthy Polish sauerkraut soup

Sauerkraut doesn't sound terribly sexy I know. Yet it's one of the healthiest things you can eat due to its vitamin C, mineral and probiotic content. The juice from the cabbage is a brilliant hangover remedy, my dad assures me, although I haven't tried it myself. I do, however, crave this wintery soup from time to time.
I have limited the amount of pork that goes in to just some good quality lardons (from Ginger Pig of course) and used a beef rib for the stock. Since I've been working on the book I have realized how vague my recipes can be. It's because I see cooking as something that's adaptable and not an exact art, yet I can see that being vague often confuses perfectly simple matters, therefore it's something I've been working on and I hope my recipes now reflect this.


2 litres water
500g sauerkraut
1 beef rib
150g lardons
2 potatoes, peeled and chopped
1 carrot
1 parsnip
1 onion, peeled and charred over stove
1 celery stick with leaves
2 bay leaves
5 allspice berries
5 whole peppercorns
1 teaspoon cumin
White and black pepper

Cook the rib with the carrot, parsnip, celery and onion with the bay leaves, allspice and peppercorns in the water for at least 1 hour, preferably 1.5 hours.

Remove the vegetables and beef, add the potatoes and sauerkraut. Add the cumin. Cook for a further 30min.

Meanwhile, fry the lardons on a frying pan until slightly crispy. Add these to the soup for the final 10min.

Season with black and white pepper. The soup doesn't need salt as the sauerkraut is already salty.

Saturday 12 December 2015

Matcha and marshmallow cake: an alternative Christmas cake

Otherwise known as the "Waiting Cake". I am more than 1 week overdue now and even though I know my baby will make an appearance soon I am feeling under pressure to start already. I like my hospital (Whittington) and all the staff I've met are lovely, yet I can't help noticing that everyone is very keen to get this baby out as soon as possible. Why? Surely, the baby should come when it's ready and not when everyone else is ready. Sometimes, it feels like our culture/society has got it's priorities wrong. I watched "Birth Story" recently and it's made me feel very hippy about the whole process (or perhaps it's just reinforced my natural hippiness). I've managed to put off my sweep until Monday, so that gives our little girl the weekend to get going. In the meantime, I am trying to relax so that I'm not hindering her with anxiety or fear. Breathe, meditate, eat. Of course, this is the problem - when you feel rushed, you aren't naturally relaxed. There is something inherently relaxing about baking though, especially when you go freestyle. This cake turned out quite Christmassy with it's soft green sponge and snowy white logs. It would work very well in cupcake form too.


100g butter
50g coconut oil
150g plain flour
150g icing sugar
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1 heaped tablespoon matcha powder
1 tablespoon plain yoghurt/ soured cream
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla essence


100g mascapone
50g icing sugar
1 teapsoon matcha powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
Marshmallows to decorate

I used my favourite method of baking, which is to melt the butter and coconut oil first in a pan, then combine it with the sugar and then slowly to soft the flour in while mixing all the time. About half way through adding the flour, crack the eggs in and carry on with the rest of the flour and cream of tartar. Finally, stir in the match powder, vanilla and yoghurt. I put in some marshmallows at this point too, but they just melted into the cake rather than create chewy bits, so I don't think there's much point in doing that. Bake in a small loaf tin that's been greased with coconut oil or butter. You can of course replace the coconut oil with more butter if you don't have any - I like to make my cakes a little bit healthier by using some coconut oil. Of course, matcha is crazy good for you too. It takes 30min on 180 degrees C. Allow it to cool before icing and decorating.

Wednesday 9 September 2015

Six recipes with six dates for pregnancy

I've been eating dates religiously since finding out that they could potentially lead to a shorter labour. My life has been so busy recently with TV work, writing my book (manuscript's due in September) and travelling - I am currently in Greece - that at times I forget the even bigger changes and challenges ahead. Eating a few dates a day has been something simple that I can do to prepare every day. Whether it actually works or not is yet to be confirmed but the mere act of eating dates brings my mind back into focus. It's something that I can still find time to do (mostly), even if other things such as friends and blogging have fallen by the wayside. Sorry about that, by the way, if you've been affected. I won't bombard you with false promises, let's just agree to some time apart and I will resume my previous blogging schedule once I have handed in my cookbook, agreed?
I'm in my third trimester now and my passion for dates has also waned somewhat, so I decided to find new (or old and lost) ways of ingesting this lovely (and potentially miraculous?) dried fruit. 6 is the magic number when it comes to dates apparently. Here are my favourites:

The date breakfast

300g oats
18 dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 litre almond milk
10-20 pecans halves
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon honey

Boil the almond milk, pit the dates and chop the pecans into smaller bits. Once the almond milk has frothed, take it off the heat, add all the other ingredients, cover and leave overnight. The next morning put it in the fridge, and eat for breakfast for the next 3 days.

The date shake

6 Dates
250ml spelt milk 
1 tablespoon lucuma powder

Spelt milk makes everything taste amazing and lucuma powder is my favourite pregnancy replacement for maca, which you should avoid during pregnancy. Just blitz all the ingredients together.

The date flapjack

You will find the recipe for these here

The date snack

Mascapone cheese

Stuff each pitted date with a teaspoon of mascapone and a couple of pecan halves.

The date dessert

6 dates
Greek yoghurt
1 tablespoon good quality honey
1 tablespoon crushed pistachios

Enjoy and happy labouring!

Saturday 25 July 2015

Abeno Okonomi-yaki restaurant, Museum Street in London

One of the perks of living in London is all the free museums and exhibitions. My favourite has to be the British Museum with it's futuristic ceiling juxtaposing the Greek revivalist facade and artifacts from all over the world. I spent a lot of time here when I was studying for my Masters' at SOAS, so it feels almost homely to me. If you are visiting the British Museum, then I have to recommend Abeno Okonomi-yaki, a Japanese restaurant close by, on Museum Street, for it's delicious Okonomi-yaki of course (a Japanese pimped-up omelette), cooked right there on your table by the friendly waitresses.
And if you fancy trying something quite strange and full of goodness, then natto might just be your thing. It's sticky texture puts some people off but I couldn't get enough of the stuff. When I crave something like that, I always conclude that my body must be needing it, especially when it's something that's usually absent from my diet. Natto is full of probiotics, something that I've found to cure most things in my life (this is just my opinion). Some say it's the secret of longevity in Japan, but above all it's a great little side dish to your Okonomi-yaki, complementing it perfectly!

Monday 20 July 2015

Cardamon flan aka A happy accident

From avoiding sugar (with varying degrees of success) to full blown sugarholic. This is my journey. While everyone is on a healthy eating tip these days, with Helmsley&Helmsley and Deliciously Ella,  I appear to have gone the other way entirely in the last couple of months, whilst experimenting with cake and dessert recipes. Writing a cookbook and being  pregnant has given me the perfect reason (excuse?) to fall off the sugar-free wagon and on to a soft cloud of cream cakes and delicate meringue; bouncy doughnuts (I made these twice in the last fortnight) and an unexpected cardamon flan. The flan was a cream-cake-gone-wrong, a very happy accident indeed. Just like my pregnancy come to think of it. It was a taste I'd had before, somewhere in Spain - was it Andalucia or Barcelcona? I can't put my finger on it.  I've visited both numerous times and I wish I'd recorded more of the meals I'd eaten there, because they were some of the best I've ever had. So in summary, a flan similar to this was once eaten by yours truly sometime in the past in Spain. It was not cardamon though, and this ancient, aromatic spice is what makes my flan really special.
Can you see how soft and squigy it is inside? This is because it's based on a cardamon custard: heat 400ml of the milk, cream and cardamon pods slowly in a saucepan. Whisk the sugar and egg yolks together. Blend the cornflour with the remaining 100ml of milk and add to the eggs and carry on whisking. When the milk has come to the boil, take it off the heat for about 10min. Remove the pods and heat once again. Stir continuously until this mixture thickens, then place the pan in a sink of cold water to cool. Stir occasionally. Once the mixture is completely cold blend it with an electric blender or whisk while adding the butter and flour. Bake at 180 degrees C for about 50min.


500ml milk 
50ml single cream 
5 cardamon pods 
3 tablespoons cornflour 
4 egg yolks 
100g light cane sugar 
200ml butter 
150g flour

Saturday 4 July 2015

Red amaranth, enoki mushrooms, cashewnuts and black quinoa on a hot hotday

London is sizzling. No, I don't mean 23 degrees C going down to 10 at night, I mean a proper heatwave. Though they do say we'll be going back down to our usual, civilized 23-with-showers in the coming week. Thank god. That's not an ironic "thank god" either - the pregnancy means I'm really sensitive to everything and massively overheating. It took three tries to get into my lido. I'd trundle up there like a man in a desert only to find my cool oasis swarming with hipsters, forming an unmanageable queue. I finally managed to get in yesterday after getting up early, but it was still much busier than usual, even at 9.15am, a lot of idiots, a lot of road rage. Not your usual, calming "isn't this nice?" atmosphere at all. Luckily, in this weather I am not craving sausage sandwiches but things like this...
This was a particularly attractive and successful version of the kind of dish I usually throw together; a combination of whatever I have lying about my kitchen cupboards and whatever I pick on my way home. I stopped off at my favourite Vietnamese supermarket on this occasion and bought fresh red amaranth and enoki mushrooms. I cooked the black quinoa separately and used a wok to toast the cashewnuts slightly before adding the amaranth, enoki mushrooms, light soya sauce, a little bit of oyster sauce and Ghanian shito paste (basically a chilli oil).
After all my moaning about the heat, I leave you with what I love about London in the summertime. The luscious, wild nature all around. Now, if I could just get wild flowers to grow in my garden...

Thursday 25 June 2015

Hackney Mess - the coolest summer dessert

I have spent the last two months playing with my food and writing. I've been taking forgotten Polish recipes and reworking them into a modern context; researching the origins of dishes that I've known since childhood but never thought twice about; and tweaking old family recipes. It's a dream come to true to be able to do this, and yet even living my dream has its difficult moments. This is absolutely OK,  because even though somehow society conditions us to think there will be a happy-ever-after, this is not life. Life is supposed to be challenging and as long as each difficult moment is taken as an opportunity to learn something then we're in a good place. Some days the writing doesn't flow for me and if I force it I risk putting myself off for the next day, so I'm learning to treat myself gently. Guilt trips do not work, what I need to do in this situation is find my inspiration. Other days, I've found it hard to cook, because I can't find ingredients I thought would be easy to come by or I don't feel like eating what I've planned to cook - through this, I'm learning to be flexible and adaptable. I have the added complication of having fallen pregnant at exactly the same time as my book deal happened. This was not ideal timing, but I definitely want this baby, so my partner and I are working it out. Through this added complication (blessing though it is) I'm learning to be more open minded. Perhaps I do not want to shoe-horn myself into someone else's home that isn't suited to me or have someone squeeze themselves in on top of me in order to have the traditional set up in time for the baby... I'm also learning that sometimes the best action is no action at all. Every day I am grateful for my beautiful, cosy flat, which gives me a feeling of much-needed security; the amazing opportunity to write the book of my dreams; my supportive family; a partner that is prepared to work on our relationship and wants this baby as much as I do; the little string bean that is growing into a human being inside me; and a host of other things. I'm also enjoying eating whatever I want: some of it is healthy and some of it, not so much. For the first time since childhood, it really doesn't matter. I am allowed to get fat. How liberating. I've been meaning to make this Hackney Mess for a long time -  a dessert idea that's been floating about my head, based on the traditional Eton Mess but a more colourful and flavour packed version.
The meringue is chocolate - whip up some egg whites with a pinch of salt. When they have formed peaks, start adding the sugar until the mixture thickens, finally add the cacao powder. Bake in a pre-heated over at 200 degrees C for 10min, then turn the oven off and leave them in there to cool. The fruit I used were juicy cherries - so of course you need to take the stones out first. Whip the whipping cream until fluffy then add the icing sugar and matcha powder, bit by bit, until you achieve the desired, light green colour and sweet flavour. You put the three components together in layers. And yes, Hackney Mess must be served in a jar.


2-3 egg whites
150g sugar
2 tablespoon raw cacao powder

150ml whipping cream
50g sugar
1 teaspoon matcha powder

Lots of cherries

Sunday 21 June 2015

Spelt pancakes with stewed vanilla strawberries

I love Ridley road market with it's African fabrics, cheap food stalls and fishmongers. Even the sheeps' heads add a little "je ne sais quoi" to the atmosphere. This is where you come to get cheap fruit and veg in east London. Unfortunately, it's not always the best quality. Yersterday, I was walking through Ridley Road when a torrential downpour started. This wasn't your usual London drizzle, it was like  monsoon had hit us. Fortunately, it was still warm and somehow all the people caught in it - like yours truly - were in good spirits. The market stall holders were trying to get rid of all their produce as quickly as possible and pack up, so I got 2 big bowls - one of cherries, one of strawberries -for £1.50. The cherries were delicious, but the strawberries were a bit squashed by the time I got them home. I ate the solid strawberries whilst contemplating what I could do with all the squashed ones. Half of the squashed ones went into a healthy shake with yoghurt, almond milk, maple syrup and maca root. The other half were made into strawberry and vanilla sauce that went on top of spelt pancakes this Sunday morning, for brunch.
I won't lie to you, it was divine. I simply  simmered the strawberries with a teaspoon of good quality vanilla essence, a tablespoon of brown sugar and 3 tablespoons of water. I won't patronise you with a detailed description of how to make pancakes because I'm sure you know. I just whizzed all the ingredients down there together and fried each ladlefull in little knobs of butter. I also added a dollop of mascapone and a drizzle of maple syrup for that American brunch feel. This will make 2 pancakes.


50g spelt flour
1 egg
150ml almond milk (aprox)
15g butter

Large handful strawberries, chopped in half
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 tablespoon brown sugar

Dollop mascapone
Maple syrup to drizzle

Monday 15 June 2015

Leftovers kulebiak recipe

Life has taken a strange turn for me, and I'm in a situation that I've never been in before, trying to feel my way through it... I can't quite describe it to you as it's still in the process of changing and fluctuating and I'm not really sure what is happening or even what I want to happen. I'm finding comfort in Eastbourne.
Our house here stands on a hill next to the Downs national park with a view to the sea in the distance. I always find that nature both soothes and teaches me. One day the sun's so warm and strong that the wild flowers on the downs give off a heady smell that I can't get enough of and reminds me of Greece; the very next day could look the same, but as soon as you step outside you realize that it's fresh, cool and windy. One day the sea is dark and serious, on another it's so soft that appears to not even be there, melting into the sky. So I ask myself, why would we expect anything else from life? All we can do is be authentic, speak our truth and accept the current situation. Accepting is the hard part, I find. Cooking always helps to take me away from the past and into the present moment, especially cooking leftovers, which is, of course, the art of improvisation. We stuffed this "kulebiak" pie with mushrooms, onions, kale and a yellow pepper, all fried on olive oil with soya sauce and little bit of white wine, then cooled and finally mixed with grated cheddar cheese and an egg, to stick it all together.
 You can stuff "kulebiak" with any leftovers you like. We've used onion, mushrooms, spinach and soft cheese with garlic and herbs before and this worked out beautifully too. The general idea is to fry the onion first (or garlic if you have no onion), then add any other leftover ingredients and flavours - soya sauce, wine, cream, chilli sauce, anything you like really. Remember to season, the allow to cool before mixing with hard or soft cheese and an egg, or even just some egg white. The important constant is the dough, which is very easy to make. Simply combine all the ingredients down there with your hands until they form a soft ball. Split it into two balls and put it in the fridge for 1 hour, before rolling them both out. Cut out two equal rectangles and save the remaining dough for decoration. I made odd looking flowers and leaves to go on top, but it really didn't matter: anything looks good on top of a "kulebiak". Put your stuffing on one sheet of dough and the other sheet on top, pressing the edges down firmly with a fork. Use a little egg and cream to stick your decorations on and pain the entire kulebiak before putting it in the oven for 40min at 200 degrees C. Enjoy while it's still warm, washed down with borsht.


400g flour
150g unsalted butter
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
Teaspoon of salt
180ml water from the fridge

1 egg and 1 teaspoon of cream for glazing


Whatever you like

Saturday 30 May 2015

Prune sauce for venison and the joys of experimentation

Experimentation is always fun, as long as you keep your mind open, your ideas flexible and some degree of control over what you're doing. If you see something's not quite working out, why not change direction? This is what I did with this venison (and I was very pleased with the result).
My lilac tea (yes, from the pretty bush), which was meant to flavour the sauce, turned out bitter and disgusting. I know what I did wrong now- too many stems- but rather than go ahead with the original plan, I grabbed what was available and I felt would work with the taste of venison meat: prunes and red wine. I wasn't wrong. So now I'd like to share my discovery with you. This is how you make prune sauce for venison: soak the prunes in warm water if you have time. While they're soaking fry the venison steaks, and let them rest in a warm place for at least 10min, but no longer than 15min. Melt some butter on a frying pan and add the prunes, cover in red wine. Turn the heat down and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally. After about 10min, once the prunes have disintegrated and the sauce has reduced, push it through a sieve. Put it back on the frying pan and season with salt and pepper. Add a splash of wine if it's too thick. After about 2min it's ready to serve with your venison steaks.

Thursday 28 May 2015

Semolina and chocolate dessert

Has anyone ever been more tired than me? I might be emotional if I had the energy, but it's ran out. Don't worry I haven't got some strange, undiagnosed illness, it all makes sense and I will tell you why I'm so very tired soon. In the meantime, I need to write and cook, write and cook, and even though those are the things I love doing most, it doesn't always come easily. Some days are a fountain of perfectly chosen words, metaphors and ideas, while others are... Blank. And part of writing a book appears to be not letting the blank days get you down. Sugar helps these days. I spent so many years trying to avoid it, but now I just don't care. These semolina desserts topped with chocolate sauce and pecans are nutritious, refreshing and energising all at the same time. Perfect.
First, you need to blend the semolina well with a couple of tablespoons of cold water. Bring your milk to the boil and stir the semolina into it. Allow to simmer and thicken. Once it's gloopy, take it off the heat and cool completely. While its cooling make the chocolate sauce by heating the butter, sugar and cocoa powder along with 3 tablespoons of water in a pan, and stirring until smooth. Toast the pecans on a frying pan - it makes them so much tastier. Once the semolina is cool put it in a blender and slowly add the lemon juice, sugar, vanilla essence and butter, blending all the time. When you have a paste pour it into your serving bowls, top with chocolate sauce and pecans and chill for at least half an hour. Semolina, or "kasza manna" as it's known in Poland, is often eaten for breakfast so I think these little pots would also make a lovely start to the day.


8 tablespoons semolina
400ml milk
125g sugar
125g butter
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
Juice of half a lemon

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder
100g butter
100g sugar


Monday 18 May 2015

Rhubarb cake with meringue topping

I'm a big believer in openness. So much so that sometimes I worry that I overshare on this blog and try to tone down my natural tendencies. Yet I have been given some feedback recently from a few different people and apparently you, the reader, likes to get personal. Don't worry, I won't hit you with a bomb of over-personal information right away (or perhaps you'd enjoy that) but I can commit to slowly opening up once more, perhaps a bit more like I used to when I first started this blog. When I examine my approach, there was no conscious change, yet I think that with time I started holding back a little bit with the fear of being seen as an emotional car crash. I love receiving feedback because it alters my perspective. It gives me a chance to let go of any fears I have and grow more into  myself, even if sometimes that might be slightly dramatic or over-emotional. I am Slavic after all. And talking of those Slavic roots, here we have a cake based on my gran's old recipe, only with seasonal rhubarb...
There were a couple of mishaps while making this: firstly, I misunderstand my mum when she was reading the recipe aloud and put too much butter in the dough, so it was too soft. Secondly, my mum put it on too a high a temperature in the oven. No matter. It was delicious nevertheless. Here however I give you the correct quantities and temperature, so that yours will be even better still.


500g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 egg yolks
350g of  caster sugar
2 tablespoons sour cream
800g rhubarb
150g raisins
1 teaspoon vanilla essence 
4 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks

- Make dough out of the flour, baking powder, 125g of sugar, sour cream and egg yolks
- Take a handful of dough and put in the freezer
- Put the remainder of the dough in a plastic bag in the fridge
- Peel the rhubarb, cut into chunks
- Mix the rhubarb with the raisins and 100g of sugar
- Butter a baking tray and roll the dough out to fit the bottom
- Place this in a pre-heated oven for 10min at 180 degrees C
- Add the rhubarb mix and put it back in the oven for another 10min
- Beat the egg whites until they form stiff peaks.
- Add vanilla essence and the remaining sugar tot he whites and keep blitzing until the mixture thickens
- Pour this over the top of the rhubarb.
- take the small dough ball out of the freezer and grate over the top
- Bake int he oven altogether for a further 35min at a reduced heat (about 160 degrees C)

Wednesday 13 May 2015

Sesame flapjacks (no sugar)

My apologies. My aim is to blog at least once a week, a commitment I've been neglecting of late. I am in a period of restructure. I am restructuring my timetable, my habits, my priorities, my social life and my mind. That's basically my whole life come to think of it. I have 5 months to hand in the manuscript of my book. This sounds like a long time but I know it isn't, because I've been writing my book. For 5 years. Yes, granted - that wasn't full time - but still, there's no room for complacency. This is my dream project, and I don't think I have ever cared about something work-related this much before. That's not to say that I haven't cared, only that this is very, very important, you get me? Everything else will need to stay on the backburner for the time being. Happily, cooking is a big part of my dream project. Also, I have to eat and keep my energy levels up. Flapjacks are always good at times like these.
This is because oats release energy slowly, as do sesame seeds. As usual, I avoided sugar and used good quality honey instead. I also substituted some of the butter for coconut oil. It made them more crumbly, but this was not a problem for me.


100g oats
100g sesame seeds
150g butter
200ml honey
50g coconut oil
50g almonds

Melt the butter and oil in a pan. Add the sesame seeds and fry until golden. Add the honey and the almonds. And anything else you fancy really. Pour the mixture into a greased baking tray and bake for 25min at about 180 degrees C.

Thursday 30 April 2015

Hoxton 100, probably the best place to eat in East London

Hoxton 100 the best restaurant in Shoreditch? With all the up-market restaurants in east London these days that's a big claim. I'll explain my reasoning point-by-point.

1. I can't actually pick a favourite dish. Every single dish we ordered was superb.
2. They have an amazing early-bird offer that includes Saturdays and means you get 5 sharing dishes for £30, and it's enough food for a satisfying meal. We were both full.
3. Happy hour with amazing cocktails at the same time - winning.
4. Friendly service and a relaxed atmosphere. Un-pretentious.
5. I can't wait to go back there.

So this is why Hoxton 100 is  my new favourite Shoreditch spot and if your rating system is anything like mine, then you should check it out.

Friday 24 April 2015

Cheeky cod cheeks

The cod cheeks took me by surprise. You know those days when you know exactly what you're going to cook only to be thwarted at every step. You go to your favourite butcher to get quail. No quail. Ok wild rabbit then. No wild rabbit. So I bought pork, then remembered by partner doesn't eat it. Walked into three organic, specialist green grocers'... No sorrel anyone? Really? Luckily, I stumbled across these delicious cod cheeks while looking dejectedly around a fishmonger. 
Cod cheeks are cheap and absolutely delicious by the way. Two massive portions cost about £4. I fried them on some butter with chopped green chilli and garlic, and squeezed lemon on top. So easy. We ate them with butternut squash mash and a warm salad of yellow courgettes (zucchini), halloumi cheese and tomatoes over some salad leaves. I was informed that it could well be my "best yet". 

Monday 20 April 2015

Nettles fried in chickpea beer batter

My garden mystifies me. Everything is in bloom and I don't know when it happened. Now the weeds are taking over and I'm not sure if I mind. I wish I knew what to do with dandelion, because I've heard it's very beneficial, but I don't feel confident with it. I get flashbacks to my childhood and being told not to lick my hands of that milky residue the dandelion flowers leave behind. They said it was poisonous. So for now the dandelion gets left alone. Nettles I am confident with however. Despite their aggressive personality, they've always held a fascination for me and I've been brought up to see them as "good". So today, while making a start on my garden, I picked some nettles, braised them in salted water, dipped them in batter, and fried them for a tasty snack.

12 Nettle leaves
75g chickpea flour
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
50ml light beer
50ml sparkling water
Runny honey and sea salt to serve

Simply mix the chickpea (gram) flour with the garlic salt the whisk while adding beer and sparkling water. Use tongs to dip the nettle leaves in the batter and fry. They're ready when golden, it should take about 3min each side. Serve drizzled with honey and sprinkled with sea salt.

Sunday 12 April 2015

Mango-mascapone semi-freddo dessert

The world has woken up. Little buds are appearing on trees, the sun's out almost every day, if only for a short while and there are even some cherry blossoms that are in full bloom, though not the ones in Victoria Park, which always take a bit longer for some reason. Last weekend, I was in Eastbourne on the coast and for a few, very brief moments it felt almost like Summer. One of those brief moments was sitting on the warm, sun-filled, wind-protected porch, eating this mango dessert and washing it down with champagne. 
This is just a step on from the Thai mango lassi and yes, yellow mangos are the best. Just blend all the ingredients down there to a smooth-ish consistency. It's nice to have a few tiny, juicy mango bits I find.
Champagne because we were celebrating my book deal. In my heart, I knew it was meant to happen, but it's still the most exciting thing that has ever happened to me. Now I have less than 6 months to produce the book. At the moment I am easing myself into it but very soon, I may have to give up everything else in my life.

Ingredients (makes 3)

2 yellow mangos
Handful ice cubes
150g mascapone cheese
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon vanilla essence

Wednesday 8 April 2015

Sugar-free chocolate-coconut truffles and the power of gratitude

In 2015 instead of New Year's Resolutions, I decided to have a monthly focus that helps me bring new habits into my life. The April focus is gratitude. Gratitude seems a bit meaningless. Everyone knows they should be grateful for what they've got, because there are people out there that have a lot less... blah blah blah. If we are grateful only when comparing ourselves to others then I think we're missing the point, because every person is on a different journey. I'll explain why I'm finding gratitude to be a truly transformative force in my life. When you are grateful for something and you make time each day to have this realization, then you simply can't abuse, mistreat or even take for granted what you are grateful for. For example, if I'm grateful for my body, then it follows that I treat it well. Gratitude almost immediately alters your mindset, you see. All of a sudden not eating processed sugar isn't a struggle, but something that I want to do. So with that in mind, here are some sugar-free, gracious chocolate truffles I made.
You simply blitz all the ingredients in a blender, then roll the resulting mush into balls. Roll them around in more cacao powder to finish and press the nut of your choice into the top. These ingredients worked very well but you can of course mix them up with whatever you have available. I have many things to be grateful for right now, but even before all this incredible luck came my way, I had plenty - we all do. I am even making a point right now of being grateful for things that haven't happened yet but I would like to happen, in advance, to encourage them into existence.

Ingredients (6 big truffles)

75g good quality, pitted dates
50g brazil nuts
2 tablespoons desiccated coconut
2 tablespoons coconut oil
3 tablespoons organic cacao powder and a bit more for rolling
Almonds and walnuts to go on top

Friday 3 April 2015

Radiccio and venison risotto with pinenuts

I don't usually blog about risottos and the like because, well, everyone knows how to make a risotto. However, a few days ago I stumbled across such a great flavour combination that I can't not tell you about it. Luckily, the days are getting longer now here in the UK so it was light enough to take a picture. Here it is, at various stages of being eaten.
You make the risotto like you usually would - fry the red onion, add the arborio rice, stir etc. Before adding stock, however, you squeeze the meat out of the venison sausages into the pan and fry it along with the onion and rice, squashing it down with a fork. After about 5min of this, start adding the stock and continue as usual. Add the dried oregano somewhere near the start. Meanwhile pour the balsamic vinegar over the radiccio, along with a little bit of olive oil and roast it in the oven at about 180 degrees C for about 25min. Half-way through add the pinenuts. Finally,  mix the radiccio and pinenuts with the risotto, and stick the cherry tomatoes in the hot oven for 10min. Right at the end we season well, according to our own taste, add the grated parmesan, and serve with the roasted cherry tomatoes on top as you see up there. I've made many risottos in my lifetime, but this one is my current number one, for the sheer depth of flavour. This recipe serves 2.


200g arborio rice
1 radiccio, chopped
2 venison sausages
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons pinenuts
2 tablespoons olive oil
4-5 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Vegetable stock
Salt and pepper

Wednesday 1 April 2015

Black quinoa with kale, walnuts, marinated peppers and sweetcorn

Today's post was going to be all about patience. About how life is always asking me to be patient and how nothing goes more against my very nature. But then everything happened all at once. Now I'm finding it hard to keep up and I've just managed to squeeze in a quick post about this salad I made when I still had time to do such things. It was delicious and I wish I had some now, working through lunch in my edit suite whilst keeping up with various emails and contracts. Yes contracts. Some of you may already know my exciting news, but for those that don't, I will reveal all when I have time to linger and enjoy each word.
I cooked the corn on the cob and quinoa the night before I made this salad. I also baked the kale with olive oil and sea salt, eating some kale chips as a snack and adding the rest to the quinoa. Then the next day all I had to do was take the corn off the cob, chop the marinated peppers, chilli and walnuts, soft boil the egg, make the vinaigrette and mix it all up.


150g Black quinoa, cooked
50g Curly Kale, roasted
Handful walnuts, chopped
2 marinated red peppers, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
Juice of half a lemon
2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper

Wednesday 25 March 2015

Courgette and matcha cake

You know how I like to celebrate the small stuff. Just handing in a good piece of work is cause for celebration in my eyes. You can't control the outcome of any situation but you can commit to it and do your best. When you feel like you've done that why not celebrate in some small way, like opening a bottle of prosecco or baking a cake? Or both. This courgette-matcha cake was inspired by the one in Nigella's book but I changed so much about the recipe that I can't say it's the same cake anymore. Hers didn't have matcha in it for a start. I love adding matcha powder to sweets, it automatically makes everything taste Japanese.
As you can see, I don't like to skimp on the icing. I also added nutmeg, which works with the flavour of courgettes; and I added butter, because, come on, a cake needs butter! Then of course I used my special method of cooking the cake, where I melt the butter on the hob, add sugar, freshly grated nutmeg, then courgettes, and eventually beat the flour and eggs in. You turn the hob off once the butter and sugar have melted together, so you're not actually cooking the cake but it feels like you are. Finally, you add 2 teaspoons match powder, the baking soda and cream of tartar. Then you put it in a greased tin and bake for half an hour at 180 degrees C. Once it's cooled you cover it with your pistachio green icing - icing sugar and Philadelphia blended together with a teaspoon of matcha powder and the juice of half a lime. For main course we ate venison steaks in fig sauce. I just made the recipe up but it was divine, so I will share it with you in the coming future. Venison feels like an extremely extravagant thing to eat for lunch, but I will need to make them during the day, so I can take a decent photo for you. How I suffer for my art.


150g butter
100g raw cane sugar
150g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 eggs
2 courgettes, grated
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
3 teaspoons matcha powder
250gr Philadelphia cream cheese
Half a lime
75g icing sugar

Friday 20 March 2015

Egyptian breakfast with eggs, dates and tahini

The first ever post on this blog was about breakfasts, complete with my 29 year old self's inquisitive attitude and some rather gross-looking pictures of food. Breakfast is still an obbession of mine, but that's one of the few things that has remained constant. Over the past 5 years I have met many great breakfasts: these seedy, turmeric oats have been a firm favourite of late; there has also been "placki" with roast cherry tomatoes; quinoa; congee rice soups with butternut squash and radish and spinach and egg, not to forget fruit-oat pots. But the reason that I am blogging about this today is because there is a new breakfast in town! This Egyptian breakfast was introduced to me by my love and has made me fall in love with Tahini once more (for many years I couldn't bear the sight of it, but that's another story).
That's scrambled eggs up there, with dates! Yes, sweet scrambled eggs, with tahini and mini pitta bread on the side (just because they're cute). You melt some butter on a frying pan and fry the chopped (and pitted) dates first for a couple of minutes, before cracking the eggs in. The eggs don't need any milk. Stir the eggs while they're frying on a low heat, season with salt and white pepper, and serve. Simple. Delicious. Reasonably healthy breakfast.

Wednesday 18 March 2015

Purple carrot celeriac salad with sprouts and the curse of washing up

Washing up feels like my curse. I cook a lot therefore there always seems to be a pile of dirty dishes waiting for me. One day I will have a dishwasher - this is the dream. Until that day comes I am forced to deal with it, unhappily. A couple of days ago I read this post on Zen Habits and it has inspired me to try to change the way I think about washing up. Perhaps I'm being lazy, perhaps it's too easy to think of washing up as a massive chore and myself as a modern-day Sisyphus doing the same action over and over again. For now, washing up is a necessary part of life for me, so perhaps I can learn something from it? I am more than happy to entertain these notions, yet I've noticed no change so far in how I feel about it. Today, the pile of washing up made me feel positively depressed. Still, I love to cook. In this book I'm reading Desikachar states that yoga teaches us that there is a positive and negative side to everything. Therefore, I must bear my burden with grace. This purple carrot celeriac salad was delicious, yet caused a massive purple mess and my hands looked bruised after peeling it. So much so that it gave me an idea for next year's Halloween costume. You can easily replace it with a normal carrot, I just wanted to see if there was any difference in taste (not much, it was a bit sweeter)
We ate it with roasted yellow courgettes with roast pumpkin oil and pumpkin seeds, black quinoa and frying halloumi cheese. Just grate the carrot and celeriac very finely, combine with the sprouts (I used a mixture of sprouts) and the sauce (soured cream and mayonnaise one-to-one with a little bit of mild olive oil). Season with salt, white pepper and some freshly grated nutmeg and mix really well. This should chill in the fridge for at least a couple of hour, to allow it to "bite together" as we say in Poland.


Half a celeriac
Large carrot
Mixed sprouts
100ml soured cream
100ml mayonnaise
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
Salt and white pepper to taste

Sunday 15 March 2015

Herrings in Soured Cream with Apple

The human condition is a strange one. The closer we get to what we want the more anxious we become. The stakes get higher as we realise that we have more to loose than before. Recently, I have had to remind myself constantly to enjoy the present moment. That despite the pressure, I'm actually spending time doing what I love to do. Writing, cooking, eating... Being able to do this full time is a precious gift and a blessing. And this is the sort of fresh-tasting Polish-style stuff I've been making and eating in the past couple of weeks.
That up there is Rye Pumpkin-seed Sourdough bread, a Beetroot and Potato Salad with Horseradish, Dill and Soured Cream and the famous Herrings in Soured Cream. If you haven't eaten herrings before, then you should try them because they are one of the few sustainable fish left. And once you fall in love with the humble herring, it will grow and grow on you. Here, their saltiness is balanced out by sweet apple. Once you have peeled and chopped the apple, squeeze the lemon over it to stop it from browning while prepping the other ingredients. Then just mix everything together and refrigerate for half an hour before eating with either rye bread or new potatoes.


Matjas Herrings in Oil, chopped
150ml soured cream
1 Tablespoon Mayonnaise 
1 Tablespoon Fresh Dill
1 Apple, peeled and chopped
2 gherkins, chopped into cubes
1 shallot, chopped finely

Sunday 8 March 2015

Sugar and gluten free yet delicious: lime tarts

"I've never used an avocado like this before". That's what I was thinking last night, when making the filling for these tarts. They've been pinned on my Pinterest Food board for months, because I love the way they look, yet the avocado filling stopped me from proceeding. The original recipe calls for just avocado, lime, honey and stevia. I changed this to avocado, lime, mascapone, vanilla and agave. So they're not dairy-free anymore, but all the more delicious for it. 
The original crust has also been altered. There's no shredded coconut (the coconut flavour comes from the coconut oil only so it's very subtle),  but there are pecans and ground almonds as well as walnuts. The combination of these nuts with the dates is a happy one. It gave me an idea for a sugar-free, chocolate truffle. Stay tuned for that. In the meantime, this is how you make these: blitz all the base ingredients in the food processor, then put them all in a bowl and squish them all together with your hands. Grease a muffin tin with coconut oil and press the base into each bit. Blitz the filling ingredients and put the resulting, creamy filling on top. Finish off with a piece of kiwi and pop into the freezer for 1 hour, then you can keep these in the fridge.

Ingredients (makes 10)

200g dates
50g pecans
50g walnuts
50g ground almonds
1 tablespoon coconut oil 
1 1/2 avocados 
100g mascapone
1 teaspoon good quality vanilla essence
Juice of 2 limes
Zest of 1 unwaxed lime
5 tablespoons agave nectar

Thursday 5 March 2015

Superfood breakfast or how to make Nigella seeds palatable

The short answer to the question posed is: by adding a lot of other stuff. I first tried Nigella seeds about 5 days ago. I was handed a Nigella seed flapjack by a certain curious confectioner. It was an unusual taste that I fell in... interest with immediately. I was going to say "in love" but it was more of a fascination really. My friend told me that they were a bit of a challenge to work with and he was not lying. They are really, really bitter. But so, so good for you.  They say the only thing Nigella seeds can't cure is death.
Once you balance out their bitterness with lots of honey and a bit of salt, they actually taste quite nice. I pounded them first with a pestle and mortar then used the method of boiling the milk first then adding all the ingredients and allowing them to fuse together and cool overnight in the fridge. This also preserves all their beneficial qualities. I must say that on eating that breakfast you see up there, I was... Invigorated. Truly. I realised it whilst packed into the tube train like a sardine, and I though "I feel pretty good considering my circumstances". I can't say for sure though if it was the Nigella seeds, or the red maca or maybe even the large dose of turmeric.


500ml almond milk
8 tablespoons of oats
2 tablespoons of pounded Nigella seeds
2 tablespoons white chia seeds
2 tablespoons red maca powder
1 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoons cinnamon
4 tablespoons raw honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Thursday 26 February 2015

Chicken and vegetable soup with gherkin "croutons"

My vegetarianism lasted about 6 weeks. It wasn't the taste of meat that knocked me off the wagon, it was something much bigger and more exciting - my book-to-be. There is a very good chance that I may get it published soon. The point being that this book would not survive my vegetarianism. I had to make a choice so I made it: vegetarianism can wait. Something that I haven't given up on is my monthly focus. March will be all about... decluttering. My home and my mind, one step at a time. Every day I declutter a tiny area of my flat - a shelf, a box, a draw... And how do I declutter my mind? Every morning I meditate and set my intention for the day. That's all. Simple, like all the best things in life. And talking of simple...since I'm eating meat again I made this chicken and vegetable soup last night. We'd spent the whole day cooking for the homeless and needed something nourishing.
 I used 3 chicken drumsticks as well as leek, celery and carrots to make a stock. Then I added the pearl barley, cabbage and potatoes. You need to allow this to simmer until everything is soft now - about 40min - before frying the cubes of gherkin on a separate pan until golden. While they're frying, season the soup with salt and black and white pepper until it tastes right to you. You may a tablespoon or two of brine from the gherkins too at this point. Turn the heat off. Pour the double cream into a bowl and whisk a tablespoon of soup into it, then another, then slowly start stirring the cream into the soup. Mix half the gherkin bits into it and use the remainder as "croutons".
In Poland we have a much loved gherkin soup, which gave me the idea to use gherkins in this way. This is a very simple soup yet the gherkins give it a fun twist. They're mini bombs of flavour in your mouth, exploding with a zesty juiciness and cutting through the the taste of  the other ingredients.

Ingredients (5-6 portions)

3 chicken drumsticks
100g pearl barley
2-3 potatoes
2 carrots, cubed
2 celery stick, chopped
1 leek, chopped
1/2 white cabbage 
Sea salt
White and black pepper
8-10 gherkins
Large pan of water

Wednesday 25 February 2015

Chilli and rye sourdough bread

Thailand was magical as ever. Days spent doing my favourite things: swimming outside; reading cookbooks in a hammock; eating fresh, healthy Thai food and bargain hunting in markets... Immersing ourselves in a different world. On my return, one of the first things I did was make bread. Once you have some sourdough, you see, you are held ransom to it, knowing that it has only a certain number of days before it's no good and I was already a day over. Luckily, I'd left the sourdough in a hyperactive fridge, so it was fine.
Since I was anxious not to loose my dough, I overcame my jetlag and made the bread, combining all the ingredients down there and stirring in the sourdough combined with warm water and adding more water as needed to create that desired peanut butter texture. I put it in a greased and floured tin, covered it and left it for 10 hours on top of the radiator, before baking it this morning (1 hour, 170 degrees C). We ate it with spiced scrambled eggs (ground paprika and coriander to be precise). It's a spicy bread, therefore you need to offset the chilli to create that winning balance. If you would like to make this bread and you live in the UK I would be more than happy to send you some of my sourdough. Remember to always save a couple of tablespoons of your dough for the future. 


350g rye flour
1-2 tablespoons sourdough
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon linseeds
1 tablespoon oats
3 tablespoons wheat germ
3 dried red chillies, chopped finely
Warm water

Tuesday 17 February 2015

Mango lassies on Koh Lipe

I'm going to come clean straight away - this is a cheat post, because I'm not making or cooking anything here in Thailand. I'm also not eating bugs or anything else out of the ordinary. I am however drinking these mango lassies every single day.
That up there is the beach on Koh Lipe that I'm drinking them on (the quieter Sunrise Beach). If you want to make one of these healthy, refreshing, wonderful drinks this is what you need to blend: yellow mangos (much more flavour than their green counterparts), natural yoghurt, ice. That is all.

Tuesday 10 February 2015

Polish carnival cakes: fat faworki

OK, so they're not really called "fat faworki", just "faworki", but mine turned out a little on the fat side and "fat faworki" has a certain ring to it, you have to admit. Crispy, soft and flaky all at once, they were rather delicious and did a very good job of impressing all the right people, so I can't complain. And yet... my faworki are still a way off from my gran's paper thin, melt-in-your-mouth ones. Nothing beats the taste of childhood.
These are traditionally eaten at carnival time, which is now, so it really is the ideal time to make them. They are very simple, as you can see. You sieve the flour into a bowl and add the other dough ingredients - crème fraîche, egg yolks, butter and icing sugar. I added moisture with the lemon vodka, just because that was on hand, but you could use a another spirit, or even vinegar or lemon juice. Kneed the dough for a couple of minutes, then roll it out on a lightly floured surface, as thin as you can get it. Cut the dough in rectangular shapes, about 9cm in length and 4cm in width, and put a slit in the middle of about 3cm. Now weave one end through the slit, in order to achieve the desired shape, like mine up there. We deep fry these in the rapeseed oil, about 30sec each side, or until golden. Make sure the oil is super hot - it should start sizzling as soon as the dough hits it. Sprinkle with icing sugar while still warm.


250g plain flour
50g salted butter
3 tablespoons crème fraîche
3 egg yolks
1 tablespoon icing sugar and more to serve
2 tablespoons strong spirit, like vodka 
500ml rapeseed oil for frying

Friday 6 February 2015

Homemade, natural, food beauty products: citrus, brown sugar body scrub and oat face wash

Where January was all about "health" for me, in February I am focussing on "beauty". I don't mean that I will be staring at myself in the mirror all February or drawing lines in black marker on my face, I just mean that at the age of 35 I may need to rethink some of my beauty regimes. I am so low-maintence that I verge on unkempt. I can completely relate to the comedienne Josie Long who apparently gets ready to go out in 10min and was once asked by an unimpressed boyfriend to brush her hair before a wedding. I'm kind of like that. It's OK, like Josie, I take pride in my "efficiency" and in the Summer you can get away with that attitude because you're fresh and tanned and all "I've-just-been-swimming-in-a-pond" wild. However, at this time of year I get tired of having flaky, chipped nails, spots and dry skin (yes, at the same time) and feeling a bit "meh". So February I am taking Biotin, using both serum and face cream, night and day, giving myself weekly facials and just paying more attention to the beauty side of things. Hopefully, some of these new habits will stick. In this spirit, I would like to share a couple of homemade beauty secrets that I love... they're made from food so they're still relevant to Cheesymash I feel. I'm off to Thailand next week (see how I just slipped that in there?) and as we all know: before tanning, exfoliation is needed. This is my citrus and brown sugar exfoliant, that smells divine and leaves your skins super soft and smooth.
It's just a combination of brown sugar, almond oil, grapefruit essential oil and grated orange peel (organic of course, as you don't want it to have been sprayed with nasty chemicals).
And that up there is a facial washing device that my mum introduced me to. The little satchel (made from a cotton handkerchief) contains organic oats, which have been blended to powder form. You wet the satchel with warm water and wash your face with it every morning. It's ideal for freshening your face after a good night's sleep and will leave it feeling soft and supple. Ideal if you have any redness or sensitive skin too! One of those will last for about 4-5 days. I use it when my skin needs a bit of extra care.