refried beans

Fancy a Mexican? I do… this recipe is really easy and delicious and perfect as a TV snack or a starter. I even like to serve it on tiny tortillas as a canapé. I like to serve refried beans (or Mexican hummus as I like to call it) on corn tortillas, or tacos with salad, but it also goes with anything you fancy…avocados, roasted veg, salsa, lettuce, sour cream, a squeeze of lime, cheddar or jalapeño peppers. You can pick n mix.
Perfect with a margarita or two.

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pickled cucumber

This delicate pickled cucumber is sweet crunchy and savoury and simply flavoured with dill. It’s a simple classic recipe that is super easy. I have always love dill pickles and pickled veg and always have them in my fridge to add to tartines, sandwiches and with cold boiled eggs, with humus on rye, poached salmon, tinned tuna, smoked salmon and cream cheese and in a potato salad. Do try them..although I love shop bought sweet pickled cucumber… these are just that bit more delicious and you can’t beat home made.

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quick pickled red cabbage

This recipe makes the most of the crunchiness of a red cabbage and it’s natural pinky red colour that ends up a stunning and glamorous bright fuchsia. It really adds colour and crunch to salads, tortillas, tacos and sandwiches or with cheese. Perfect with humus on rye or in a burger. It can be made on the day you are going to use it and it is much much nicer than the shop bought version. Plus it’s super healthy as the vinegar is great for the digestion.

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pavlova ice cream pudding

This pudding can be assembled in 5 minutes max, so zero stress.  I’ve never met anybody who didn’t think it was really amazing. It has that great combo of creamy and crunchy mixed with sweet from the meringues and ice cream and tart from the berries. It’s a visual and sensual feast. The recipe uses any vanilla ice cream, but I use Swedish Glace or the newly launched coconut ice cream from Coconut Collaborative which are delicious if you are going down the dairy free route. None of your guests would guess it’s dairy free and it’s perfect if you are following kosher.

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spaghetti al pesto

Home made pesto is so infinitely superior to the store-bought jars, it’s a totally different beast. This authentic Italian recipe is one of the easiest, quickest, and most delicious sauces for pasta. All you do is stick the pasta on and put the pesto ingredients in a food processor, although pesto is traditionally made in a mortar and pestle. The first time I had this wasn’t with my Italian family, it was in an Italian restaurant in Hamburg when I was a teenager and I vividly remember thinking it was the most delicious thing I had ever eaten and it’s perfect for a date night.

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baked falafel

These slightly sweet falafels are soft and moist. They are perfect with humus, pita bread and salad, but I also like them warm with Apple sauce which I first had as a starter at the restaurant Caravan in Exmouth market and still remember it as a surprisingly brilliant combo. You can double or triple the amounts from the recipe and bake them in batches if you want to make more. My friends who I’ve tested this recipe on said that they’re the best falafels they’ve ever had!

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spaghetti alle vongole

This is the food of the gods and needs no explaining as to how good it is. It’s perfect for  a stress-free Valentine’s dinner or a date night as it only take as long as the pasta takes to cook.

When I’ve been to Venice I practically live on it as it really is my favourite thing and I can’t get enough of it. It can be made in under 20 minutes and the ingredients can be bought days in advance. This recipe is an original Venetian recipe which I always love to cook, as it is like a lot of Italian recipes, very simple. There are two sorts of Vongole, in bianco, which is made like this recipe, or in rosso which is made with tomatoes. When I make it everyone goes mad for it… so try it, it’s not expensive and it is quick and easy.

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love cookies

These shortcakes are very chocolatey, fun and vegan. Anyone can make them. All you do is mix the ingredients, bake them, dip in warm chocolate and leave to cool. They taste amazingly buttery even though there’s no butter in them and are perfect as a gift for your loved ones (…or loved ones),  in a cellophane bag or a small box with a red ribbon because I think a homemade present is really thoughtful. I’ve tried these out on friends who can’t tell they are dairy free, in fact they even preferred them to normal biscuits made with butter!

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pear drop sorbet with pear guitars

This no churn boozy sorbet is based on the the delicious pear drop cocktail which is pear juice with vodka and vanilla. It’s such a brilliant combination of flavours I have made it into an easy gelato version which is perfect for valentine’s night or date night as it’s lighter than a traditional dessert, so you won’t feel like dozing off after dinner as you dim the lights and crank up the Barry White…
It can be made in advance and kept frozen till needed. It’s also very easy and quick to make, you just need a freezer and a food processor or a nutribullet.

Happy date night!

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lobster risotto

A perfect romantic Valentine’s dinner for two or more if it’s a dinner party, just double or triple the quantities for the amount of people you are feeding. This easy risotto tastes delicious and before you think it’s too expensive to cook, I got a frozen lobster for £5.00 from Lidl. It’s a bit of work getting the meat out, but after that it’s easy. For the stock, I can’t praise Knorr fish stock pots highly enough. You would be hard pushed to make a better stock and they are a store cupboard essential round in my kitchen.

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