Pumpkin Pie

Winter coats, collecting kindling and home made soup have all been indulgences this week. Hurricanes rather than heat waves are occupying the front pages, seasons have changed and we have finally crossed the line into Autumn. I can't say I'm disappointed always having been a blustery walk kind of girl rather than all beach and bikini's.

Pumpkins and squash are prettying up shop windows, supermarkets & coffee shops and the colour orange dominates.They are so cheap at the moment, pumpkins. So big, so yummy and so cheap!? Don't just see them as a container for your candles but more a canvas to some cooking. Whizzed into soup, roasted in maple or, of course, transformed into the all American pie.

It was an average Tuesday in our house but I made this to make my boys happy. I've written the recipe down for my book so I'll tell you the recipe just as soon as it comes out in print, it's not too long now. 


Silo, Brighton

Moving away from London wasn't an easy decision. We left red buses, enormous branches of Topshop and a raging foodie scene that I was proud to be a part of.  Brighton beckoned and occasionally we reverted to feeling wistful and nostalgic for our spent days exploring the capital. I would read the opening of new restaurants, markets and coffee houses hoping, just occasionally the postcode began BN.

But oh the excitement as places have opened, existing restaurants have upped their game and we discovered the plethora of places that already exist. The latest addition is Silo, hidden in the Lanes but not more than a 5 minute walk from the station. 

Opened last week, the building is outrageously cool with a raw, stripped back feel that I love. This particular restaurants POS is quite an impressive zero waste policy.  

Flour will be milled on site, yoghurt made and chocolate created.  Loos will be flushed using waste water from coffee machines. There is an enormous food composter just inside the restaurant. The compost will be given away to customers, completing the cycle from food to soil. Mushrooms proudly grow on the wall, sitting in used espresso granules. To solve the problem of takeaway coffee cups, Silo will offer customers a free coffee for every five cups they return and the cup will be shredded and composted.  

Douglas McMaster is the man behind the Silo and he's put together a sustainable, seasonal and very reasonable menu. One fish option, one wild, one meat, one plant and one dairy. Beautifully simple. 

Go and visit, I think Brighton should be really proud of Silo and I for one will enjoy sitting and sipping coffee whilst the rain pours down outside. 


Panda Box @ Itsu

I like to think I work quite hard on Jasper's diet - the fear that my little boy will only eat salty crisps and something resembling a fish finger makes me a little sweaty under the collar. I'm not winning by any means, we have plenty of days that pizza is the only answer, and only once the tomato bit has been scraped off but just occasionally I feel quite proud of both his appetite and willingness to try. 
Itsu, owned by Pret, is hoping to expand dramatically over the next few years, hopping on the health bandwagon as it clatters it's way down the high street. It has always been one of my secret pleasures and I dream of the day we can visit, the two of us, and happily enjoy a box of sushi together. 
I'd heard they have developed a new children's 'Panda' menu and so we visited; mummy, hopeful and Jasper, hungry. I'd say it wasn't a total failure and he loved playing with chopsticks, dipping chicken in sweet hosin and popping endame beans. Frozen yoghurt was a hit. Detox drinks were drunk with the same enthusiasm he approaches lemonade. And chocolate rice cakes were special enough to mean he would try my miso soup. We had fun, sitting and enjoying a new taste or two. I love the thought he was playing with new textures and unfamiliar flavours. A success I think? 


Beef Vietnamese Pho

A weekend of final summer picnics and just being. We ate well, too well taking regular pauses for cake and hot coffee and by Sunday night I felt like slurping cleansing pho. 

Beef Vietnamese Pho 

2 litres hot beef stock
4cm piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
5 cloves
5 tbsp fish sauce
1 hot red chilli, finely sliced
225g rice noodles
400g rump or sirloin steak
Large handful each of beansprout
100g mange tout, finely sliced
Chopped fresh coriander
Fresh Thai basil

1 Pour 2 litres good-quality fresh beef stock into a pan and dilute with cold water to taste. Add the ginger, star anise, cinnamon stick, cloves, fish sauce and the finely sliced red chilli. Bring the broth to the boil, then simmer over a low heat for 30 minutes.

2 Meanwhile empty the dry noodles into large bowl and pour over boiling water. Allow them to sit for 3-4 minutes. Then drain.

3 Add the beef to the beef broth and allow it to poach for 2-3 minutes.

4 Empty a portion of noodles in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the sliced mange tout and beansprouts and ladle over the beef broth. Garnish to taste with fresh thai basil, coriander and sliced red chili. 


Chia Seeds - The new diet pill?

Tiny black chia seeds are creating a bit of a buzz - they are the brand new superfood don’t you know?! We’re told that whilst providing hardly any calories they contain stacks of health benefits ranging from being high in fibre, omega-3 and protein and also containing antioxidants, potassium and calcium.
Once a dietary staple of the Aztec and Mayan people, chia seeds were originally ground into a flour and used to make flatbread, or soaked in water for a drink. When soaked the seeds expand in size and take on a strange gel-like, frog’s spawny appearance. This drink, which is high in fibre, is also very filling and (it has been suggested) could dramatically help with loosing dress size or two. Alternatively you could sprinkle over your breakfast cereal and the seeds will expand in the stomach, keeping one feeling fuller for longer.
Weight loss aside these seeds are without doubt an incredible source of fibre and omega 3 so absolutely worth having a bag or two in your cupboard. 

This one is easy. Simply whiz up ripe banana’s and mix with a tablespoon or so of Greek yoghurt and 1 tbsp chia seeds. Dollop the mixture into lolly moulds and place sticks in the center. Freeze overnight. Mine made 6 little lollies. 


Makes 16 cakes

200g plain flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoon chia seeds
3 medium eggs
200g caster sugar
200ml vegetable oil
2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
250g grated fresh celeriac
For the lemon buttercream
80g unsalted butter, at room temperature
250g sifted icing sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon fine salt
zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons milk, or enough for the frosting to reach a piping consistency
Fresh lemon zest, for decoration

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas mark 4. Line a muffin tin with paper cases. Add the flour, baking powder, salt and ginger into a large bowl and set aside.

2. Using a mixer, beat the eggs, sugar, oil and vanilla on medium speed until fully combined. Reduce to low speed and add in the grated celeriac. Now slowly add the flour mixture until well combined.

3. Fill each muffin case quite high, about two thirds full. Bake for 20–25 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean. Place on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then take each muffin out and cool completely before icing.

4. Beat the butter until light and fluffy and slowly add the icing sugar. Once combined, and with the food-processor on low, add in the vanilla extract, lemon zest, chia seeds, salt and milk. The consistency should be creamy but still thick. Beat the mixture on medium high for a further 2–3 minutes. The icing should become very light and fluffy.

5. Pipe the buttercream onto your cooled muffins and top with lemon zest and chia seeds.