Category Archives: Food and Drink

Food and Drink

The best chicken avocado salad recipe

best chicken avocado salad recipe

I’ve given it a lot of thought, and I think avocado might just be my favourite food in the entire world. Avocado slices on toast with chilli flakes. Homemade guacamole. Avocado spaghetti. And chicken avocado salad. Especially this shredded chicken version, which is the best chicken avocado salad recipe I’ve ever guessed my way into creating.

It’s not the prettiest looking chicken avocado salad in the world, but then anything that has shredded chicken in it rarely is. What I like best though about this chicken avocado salad recipe is that it is a substantial salad. A salad that is actually a meal, not just a few leaves on your plate. It’s filling, nutritious and really tasty too.

Crispy lettuce, shredded chicken and ripe avocados keeping each other company in the salad bowl. Mingling with lime juice and fresh coriander. And complimented perfectly by a non-alcoholic mojito (recipe coming soon…).

The best chicken avocado salad recipe

Ingredients (serves two):

  • Leftover chicken or two chicken fillets
  • Two ripe avocados
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumber
  • Juice of half a lime
  • One clove of garlic
  • Olive oil

Method:

Peel the first avocado and place it in a blender with half the lime juice, a clove of garlic, chopped coriander, chopped mint and a glug of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and blend until smooth. Set aside.

If you’re using leftover chicken shred it into small pieces with two folks. Alternatively poach your two uncooked chicken fillets by placing them in a pan of cold water (ensuring the water covers the chicken by an inch) and bringing to a boil. After boiling for 10 minutes simmer for another 20 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and not pink inside. Leave to cool for thirty minutes before shredding.

Put the shredded chicken in a bowl and mix with the avocado mixture until combined. Chop the lettuce, cucumber and second avocado and place in serving bowl. Top with the chicken mixture and serve.

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Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

It’s Friday, hurrah! I finally went back to work yesterday after four months off working from home. It was great to see everyone back in the office and reclaim my desk – and finally slather my hands in my favourite hand cream! However my ankle has swollen to twice its usual size which made the walk home quite painful – and naturally my mind wandered to distract myself…

It’s taking me twice as long as usual to walk anywhere and all I could think about on my walk home from the station was making myself an icy cold coke float and listening to the Juno soundtrack (The Kinks, Mott the Hoople and Velvet Underground – yes please). But I took one look inside my fridge and realised that we had no coke. Which I should have realised because we never have coke. And then I saw a bottle of ginger ale I bought last week. And then (is the suspense killing you yet?) I thought ‘wouldn’t bourbon go well with ginger ale and vanilla ice cream?’

So I tried it. I created my own superbly simple, quick and easy bourbon ginger ale float recipe. It’s perfect for a hot summer night like tonight. Cold, refreshing and delightfully warming too, all at the same magical time.

Any other suggestions for coke float alternatives? The wackier the better.

 Bourbon ginger ale float recipe

 Ingredients:

  • Bourbon
  • Ginger ale
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • Sprig of mint (optional)

Method

Scoop a generous amount of ice cream into your favourite glass. Pour over a measure or two of bourbon and slowly top with ginger ale, making sure it doesn’t fizz over. Top with a sprig of mint, your prettiest straw and enjoy. Preferably in the garden. As the sun goes down. With the Juno soundtrack playing in the background. It really is the perfect way to start the weekend!

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Bourbon iced tea recipe

Bourbon iced tea recipe

I remember drinking iced tea for the first time on holiday when I was seven. It was cloyingly sweet and I loved it. Since then iced tea has always been a treat – anything with that amount of sugar needs to be enjoyed in moderation.

As I’ve grown up I’ve shied away from sugary iced tea. All you can really taste is the sugar and I’d like to taste some tea please, thank you very much. Every summer I play around with my iced tea recipe and this year is no different.

For tonight’s Friday night cocktail I decided to keep it simple. I removed an cold jug of iced tea from the fridge, picked a sprig of fresh mint and grabbed a bottle of bourbon and some honey from the cupboard (I should really keep my bourbon and honey in the same cupboard. It would make making Bourbon iced tea in the summer and a hot toddy in the winter that little bit quicker…). And there you have it. A delightfully simple bourbon iced tea recipe.

Bourbon iced tea recipe

  • 3 tea bags
  • Half a lemon
  • Fresh mint
  • Bourbon
  • Honey

Boil water and allow to settle. Place tea bags in jug and add the boiled water. After five minutes remove tea bags, add a handful of fresh mint and a generous squeeze of honey. Add the juice of half a lemon and chop the remaining lemon peel into four chunks and add to jug. Allow to cool completely.

Put a handful of ice cubes in each glass and add a single measure of bourbon. Top with iced tea and serve with a slice of lemon and a sprig of fresh mint.

Rosé Sangria recipe

Rosé Sangria recipe

Let us pretend that the sun is shining and that it’s one of those magical warm summer evenings that we will all spend indulgently with friends and the view from Parliament Hill.

Got it? Because tonight’s Friday night cocktail is called Dance of the Sugar Plum fairy, aka my Rosé Sangria recipe. It’s refreshing, tastes like summer and is packed full of fruit so it’s kinda dinner and drinks in one, if you’re that way inclined.

Fruit (strawberries, blueberries, peaches, plums, blackberries, white grapes, red grapes… whatever you have to hand) is steeped in liqueur for a little while before you pour over chilled rosé wine and top with tonic water. The result is a sweet attempt at summer in a glass.

Make it for yourself by the glass or better yet, make a pitcher of the stuff for everyone to enjoy. If you’re going down the pitcher route though don’t add the tonic water to your jug – just top up the glasses with the tonic water on a glass by glass basis.

As usual there are no rules when it comes to the Friday night cocktail so please adapt the recipe as you see fit – just remember to let me know what clever changes you make!

Rosé Sangria recipe

  • Strawberries and blueberries, or fruit of your choice
  • Rosé wine
  • Tonic water
  • Sugar plum liqueur, or liqueur of your choice (Cointreau would work nicely)

Place the fruit in your glass and drizzle with liqueur. Let the fruit steep for a while before adding half a glass of rosé wine and topping with tonic water. Enjoy!

PS Sorry for the rubbish photo. I did my best pointing and shooting and filtering but you’re going to have to make your very own sugar plum fairy cocktail to appreciate its true beauty.

PPS Admittedly Rosé Sangria looks suspiciously similar to last week’s blueberry and gin concoction, but I promise you they are rather different!

Blueberry and gin cocktail recipe

blueberry and gin cocktail recipe

Let’s get this straight – no gin based cocktail can ever compete with a gin and tonic.

Nine times out of ten spirits are better on their own. Sugary syrups, fizzy drinks and bits of fruit have no place muddled with good alcohol. But let’s be honest – how often do you have a cupboard or bar cart stocked exclusively with good alcohol? Supermarkets tempt us with their bargain liquor offers and my cocktail cabinet is rarely home to anything fancier than a bottle of Jim Beam. (Not that there’s anything wrong with Jim Beam. In fact it’s become a mild obsession and when it comes to alcohol, I’ve barely drunk anything other than bourbon since last year.)

These bottles earn their place because Friday night cocktails aren’t there to get you drunk. They’re enjoyed before dinner and can be themed to the occasion, whether you’re celebrating a birthday or just the start of summer. Best of all, you rarely need to make a separate stop for ingredients as you can create some pretty fancy delights just from the contents of your fridge.

This week’s Friday night delight is a blueberry and gin cocktail. The blueberries in the fridge were acidic so I added a dash of grenadine to sweeten them up. This blueberry and gin cocktail recipe is a little on the sweet side, so feel free to avoid the grenadine or swap lemonade for soda water.

Blueberry and gin cocktail recipe

Ingredients

  • 8 blueberries
  • 25ml gin
  • Lemonade
  • Grenadine
  • Lemon

Add six blueberries to your glass and muddle with a little lemonade. Add the gin, a squeeze of lemon, a dash of grenadine (if using) and top with lemonade.

Garnish with the two remaining blueberries and a slice of lemon.

Not ready for a summer cocktail quite yet? Try this hot toddy recipe instead.

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Fancy china, delicate finger sandwiches, arguments about whether the cream or jam goes first on the scone, tiers of cakes, maybe even a cheeky glass of champagne. Is there anything quite as delightful as afternoon tea?

My friend Katie had been asking us to go to the Prêt-a-Portea Berkeley afternoon tea with her for years and eventually we caved in (such a hardship…). So one Saturday afternoon we put on our best frocks, met at Hyde Park Corner station and prepared ourselves for a decadent feast.

The Berkeley Afternoon Tea

Berkeley afternoon tea

The Prêt-a-Portea afternoon tea is inspired by, you guessed it, fashion. The menu is transformed every six months to follow the changing seasons in fashion and we were able to enjoy Autumn/Winter 2013.

Paul Smith china

Afternoon tea is served on this fine-bone china by Paul Smith for Thomas Goode. How pretty is it?! I love the bright colours and they really brighten up the tables in the Caramel room where tea is served.

Paul Smith china

The tea menu at the Berkeley was good. The choice isn’t huge but sometimes that’s a good thing as who really wants to spend fifteen minutes reading a list of teas? You can order as much tea as you want and you can change your tea from pot to pot. In the end I simply went for the Berkeley blend which was perfect, followed by a pot of fresh mint tea at the end.

Prêt-a-Portea sandwiches

After you’ve chosen your tea it’s time for the sandwiches. Between us we had a vegetarian, pescetarian and someone who is gluten free so our plates of sandwiches varied slightly but we all thought they were delicious. But to be on the safe side, we happily agreed to a second serving of sandwiches just to make sure.

Prêt-a-Portea savouries

Next we tried a selection of savoury treats. I’m not entirely sure what was what but it was nice. By this point we needed something sweet and really wanted to try the cakes…

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Can you blame us? Talk about something that almost looks too good to eat.

Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing

First up, the Burberry Prorsum heart patterned ginger biscuit trench with caramel icing. It might be the closest I get to the real thing so I savoured every bite! It was nice but a bit more ginger would have been great.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

This plate of cakes was the business. They looked too good to eat but that didn’t stop us. I did wonder whether it would be a case of design over substance but I needn’t had feared – these were some of the best cakes I’ve ever eaten. My favourite was the Giles antique gold chocolate feather set on a base of Sacher torte. Although the Saint Laurent essential Autumn red “Classic Duffle 6″ Victoria sponge cake bag came in a close second.

Prêt-a-Portea cakes

Afternoon tea wasn’t quite perfect – we were missing our fifth spice girl! She’s off in California so we thought we’d let her know what she was missing out on. Anything to keep her away from kale smoothies.

Prêt-a-Portea doggy bags

Just when we couldn’t eat anymore the prettiest doggy bags turned up at our table. I’ve never treated a handbag so well in my life; getting those treats home safe and sound on the tube was a mission!

At £39 a head, Prêt-a-Portea at the Berkeley isn’t an everyday indulgence. It’s a lot of money for some tea and cakes but we spent a good three hours there chatting, having fun and eating some lovely food. It’s a special treat, an excuse to dress up and something to look forward to (you need to book months in advance).

We’re now thinking where to go next for afternoon tea later this year. I’m a big fan of The Modern Pantry but would like to try somewhere new – any suggestions?

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Passover sweet potato burgers recipe

passover sweet potato burgers recipe At Passover food is limited, and for those of us who hate matzo you can end up eating a lot more meat than you usually would. This isn’t ideal so I spend a lot of time in the kitchen trying to create healthy, kosher for Passover alternatives.

I love burgers so I thought it was about time I tried making a vegetarian one. The trouble with veggie burgers is that you usually need breadcrumbs to help them bind as the ingredients are quite wet. Although you don’t need matzo meal for this recipe, a thin coating on the outside of the patties before they are baked will ensure they don’t stick to the tray.

These veggie burgers are made from sweet potato which is filling, nutritious and tasty. They are also super cheap to make (essential for balancing out the more expensive meat meals at Passover) and the recipe is scalable, so you can modify the ingredients to your own needs. These will keep for a couple of days in the fridge and I reckon you could freeze a batch too, although I haven’t tried that myself. For the Sephardis out there adding some beans of your choice will help bulk the burgers out and provide more nutrients.

Passover sweet potato burgers recipe (makes 8 burgers)

Ingredients:

  • 2 sweet potatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 egg
  • Sprinkling of matzo meal

Directions:

  1. Heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan).
  2. Pierce the sweet potatoes and cook in the microwave for eight minutes until soft.
  3. Whilst the sweet potatoes are cooking, crush the garlic and dice the green pepper and onion. Mix together in a bowl.
  4. Once the sweet potatoes are cooked scoop out the flesh and mash with a fork. Mix the sweet potatoes with the onions, garlic and green pepper.
  5. Crack an egg into the mixture and mix until combined. Add a sprinkling of matzah meal if you don’t want the burgers too soft in the middle.
  6. Make eight balls from the mixture, roll in matzah meal and place on a baking tray (ideally non stick and use baking paper). Use your hand to flatten the balls into patties.
  7. Bake for fifteen minutes, flip the burgers, bake for another fifteen minutes.

I’ve made a batch of these in advance for lunches this week. I will just reheat a couple each day and top with avocado and sweet chili sauce. If avocado isn’t your thing try grilling a slice of pineapple. It’s delicious on top of the burgers and if you’re feeling adventurous sprinkle some chili flakes over it before it goes under the grill.

I hope you like this sweet potato burgers recipe! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions / other Passover meal ideas – I’ll think I’ll try this recipe next!

Friday night cocktail recipes: hot toddy recipe

Hot toddy recipe

It has become a tradition on a Friday night to try out a new cocktail recipe. After a long week at work it’s nice to take a break with a cocktail before it’s time to cook dinner, and I love nothing more than to take inspiration from cult classic (yes, really) the Gilmore Girls. If Friday night cocktails at home are good enough for Lorelai and Rory, then they’re good enough for me.

This week I wanted to try something warm and comforting so I knew this was the week to find the best hot toddy recipe. According to Felicity Cloake, the expert on making the ‘perfect’ everything, a hot toddy is practically medicinal: 

“The heat, spice and sweet and sour flavours apparently all encourage – and I’m sorry, there’s no nice way to say this – mucus production, discouraging the advance of those pesky bacteria and viruses, while the booze helps you sleep. (In moderation, of course. All things in moderation.”

I scoured the Internet for the best hot toddy recipes and they all contained a long list of ingredients. There is no doubt that using all these ingredients will create a better hot toddy, but the Friday night cocktail isn’t about making the best something possible. Friday night cocktails are about creating something delicious using the ingredients you have in the house already and as quickly as possible.

With that in mind my Friday night hot toddy recipe includes the ingredients I had to hand last night. If you have cloves and fresh ginger to hand and them in at the brewing stage. No bourbon? Try rum instead. Lemon and ginger teabags not in the cupboard? A normal teabag will do. Let me know how you make yours and how it goes!

Hot toddy recipe

Ingredients (for one):

  • Single (or a double, I’m not judging) shot of bourbon
  • Half a lemon
  • Lemon and ginger teabag
  • Cinnamon stick
  • Generous squeeze of honey
  • Boiled water

Method:

  1. Brew the lemon and ginger teabag in a jug of boiling water (just enough to fill your glass to a drinkable level).
  2. Cut a slice of lemon 1cm thick and put to the side. Squeeze the rest of the lemon into the jug.
  3. Add a cinnamon stick to the jug and gently stir. Leave for 5-8 minutes.
  4. Squeeze honey into the bottom of your hot toddy glass. Strain your boiling water mixture into the glass and stir until the honey dissolves.
  5. Pour in your shot or two of bourbon and stir.
  6. Garnish with a slice of lemon and a cinnamon stick.

French Toast Recipe

French toast recipe
Is there anything better on a lazy Saturday morning than French toast for breakfast? How about French toast that takes a mere five minutes to prepare?

My French toast recipe is simple and easy to make. Serve it with leftover berries or get adventurous with whatever combination of toppings you prefer. Some of my favourites include Nutella and banana, peanut butter and strawberry jam, fresh lemon juice and sugar, cinnamon  and maple syrup and vanilla sugar. For those of you who prefer savoury to sweet I’d recommend Marmite with cheddar cheese on top or with a fried egg and a slice or two of bacon (never tried that myself but it sure does smell good).

French toast recipe for two

Ingredients

  • Four slices of challah
  • Two eggs
  • One tablespoon of oil
  • One teaspoon caster sugar
  • Sprinkle of cinnamon
  • Berries
  • Honey

Method
Slice four thick slices of challah, or any other white bread going spare. Brioche works well as does anything that has turned stale.

In a wide shallow bowl hand whisk two eggs with a teaspoon of sugar and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Soak a slice of challah in the eggy mixture on both sides. Repeat for the last three slices.

Heat one tablespoon of oil on a high heat in a frying pan. I like to use rapeseed oil but it doesn’t matter too much – just stay away from oils with a heavy flavour like olive oil. Carefully place each slice of challah in the pan, turning after two minutes.

When the challah is looking golden brown plate up. Top the French toast with berries and drizzle with honey. Serve warm.

I grew up with eggy bread and only heard it described as French toast when I started to see it appear on breakfast menus. Since then I’ve discovered new ways to make French toast, including Smitten Kitchen’s boozy french toast recipe.