5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

I always find around this time of year, that Winter really begins to take its toll. I long for some sunshine. Any hint of a tan from last summer is gone and my skin is dry from all the central heating and returned to a blueish shade of white. I seem to have had a cold for weeks and I am permanently tired. Now is the time to really look at your diet and make sure that you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need.

Up until last week I was concerned enough about getting my 5 a day, and now they have only gone and upped the ante and announced that we should now really be looking at getting 10 a day if we want to see the health results in terms of decreased chance of getting heart decease, stroke and cancer.   Well panic not – a green juice that not only probably provides half of your 10 a day but tastes really nice to!

However, this requires a proper juicer. Not a Nutribullet. Nutribullets are nothing more than small, upside down liquidisers and although the juices they produce are undoubtedly better for you, being much higher is fiber, they are all disgusting. Green sludge that would put anyone of juicing for life. Get a proper juicer and you won’t look back!

5 a day Delicious Green juice – Kale, Courgette and Apple

Feel free to play around with the recipe – substitute apples for pears, add a celery stick or a squeeze of lime. If you keep your veg and fruit in the fridge before making, your juice will be cold when you drink it, which is always nicer I think.

Large handful Kale

3 apples, quartered

1 large courgette, cut into chunks

Juice the kale first followed by the courgette and apple. Drink straight away.



Blood Orange Sorbet

I know it is hardly the weather for sorbet but when I see blood oranges, I just can’t think of anything else. This is super delicious and super easy to make but you will need some sort of ice-cream machine. Mine is just a cheap one and cost under £20 at the time. You freeze the bowl first and it can’t cope with large quantities but worked brilliantly for this recipe.  Blood oranges are not around for long so make the most of them and get them whilst you can!

Blood Orange Sorbet

If using an ice-cream maker like mine, be sure to freeze your bowl overnight. (Serves 4)

7-10 blood oranges (400ml strained juice)

125g white sugar

Roll each orange on the work surface to release the juice, then squeeze. Pass through a sieve and you have about 400ml juice.

Heat 75ml of the juice gently in a pan with the sugar, stirring to dissolve. Allow to cool slightly, then add the remaining juice. Chill well.

Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to instructions. Eat as soon as possible for the best texture.

Fig and Almond Tart

Back raving about figs again this week. They are just such a beautiful fruit. I love their dusty, deep purple colour and their contrasting, vibrant jammy red centres. And they taste no better ever, than in this most delicious Fig and Almond Tart. Serve with a large dollop of crème fraiche.


Fig and Almond Tart

Flan tin 10” / 25cm


175g plain flour

90g butter

50g icing sugar

2 egg yolks


175g butter

175g ground almonds

175g golden caster sugar

1 egg

1 tablespoon flour

Glug of amaretto

6 ripe figs

Put the flour, butter and sugar for the pastry in a food processor. Mix until you have breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolks and just mix enough for the pastry to come together in a ball. Wrap in cling film and put in the fridge for 30 minutes. In the same food processor bowl add the butter and sugar for the frangipane. Mix until smooth. Add the almonds and the egg and whiz again until smooth. Add the amaretto and the flour. Mix once more. Remove the pasty form the fridge when ready. Preheat the oven to 170C. Roll out the pastry and line the tart tin. Get a round piece of greaseproof paper and carefully cover the pasty with it. Folding it down over the top edge. Blind bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from the greaseproof and add the frangipane filling. Cut the figs in half and press into the frangipane in even spacing. Bake in the oven until the farangipan is risen all over and golden brown.


Fig, Salted Almond and Bufala Mozzarella Salad

I get very excited about new produce from Riverford and so, I was thrilled to see that they are now supplying figs from Spain and I couldn’t wait to give them a try.


This is a super simple salad that we used to serve at The River Café. It is nothing more than an assemblance of fabulous ingredients, but when your ingredients and that good, you really don’t need to do very much to them. I added some salted Catalan almonds, which I always pick up when I see them because they remind me of holidays. (If you can’t find them, you can always make your own.)


I also drizzled some truffle honey on my figs. I know this is not for everybody, but if you do like truffles then do check it out. Marks and Spencer stock a really great one for £6. But is you are not a truffle person, a drizzle of aged balsamic works well too. You could play around with the cheese too. I imagine that Burrata would be pretty amazing, but to tell you the truth, I find them just too rich! Tallegglio or even Gorgonzola would be delicious too. What ever you decide to add, I am sure you will agree, it looks beautiful and tastes great.


Fig, Salted Almond and Bufala Mozzarella Salad

Serves 2

Couple of handfuls of rocket

Few sprigs of fresh mint

Few sprigs

1 ball good quality bufala mozzarella

2 ripe figs

Extra virgin olive oil

Handful of salted Catalan almonds

Drizzle of expensive aged Balsamic or truffle honey

Sea Salt

Mix a little olive oil with a pinch of salt and dress the leaves. Pile on to a large plate and top with slices of mozzarella and fig. Scatter over the almonds and the herbs and drizzle with truffle honey or balsamic vinegar.


Caramelised Pear and Almond Cake

Pears can be a little tiring. They often seem to go from rock hard to too soft whenever you are not looking. It is so rare to catch them just perfect. This is a great recipe because it doesn’t really matter how hard they are. You just cook them in the caramel for a little longer and it the best pear cake I have ever eaten.



Firm Conference pears should work a treat here. Add a glug of Amaretto if you like or a little vanilla extract. You can replace the flour with gluten free flour and a teaspoon of baking powder.

Serves 8

For the caramel

25g Butter

25g Sugar

For the cake

225g unsalted butter, softened

190g caster sugar

6 pears, firm but not too hard, peeled, cored and quartered

3 eggs

115g ground almonds

115g self-raising flour

Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/gas mark 3. Grease a 20cm diameter, spring-form cake tin and line the base with baking parchment.

Put a large frying pan over a medium heat and add the sugar. When it starts to melt, stir and cook until a deep golden brown and beginning to smoke. Remove from the heat and add the butter. Stir to dissolve and add the pear quarters and return to a medium heat. Cook the pears in the buttery caramel for five to 10 minutes, until they start to brown and soften (the time taken will vary greatly, depending on how ripe the pears are). Tip into the bottom of your prepared tin.

Put the remaining butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and cream together until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Add the amaretto or vanilla if using. Add the self-raising flour and almonds and fold in gently (or pulse in the food processor.) Top the pears with the cake mixture. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a knife pushed into the centre comes out clean.  Place the tin on a wire rack to cool. Serve warm or cold.


Cherry Clafoutis

Finally, for this week a Cherry Clafoutis. I was asked to make one for my son’s “French Day” last week and he expectantly came home with a recipe in French, demanding that every parent of a Year 6 child produce one by Thursday. Half cake, half custard, it is quite a challenging recipe.

To spring this on me, in a week where my son not only needed a French outfit to compliment his French Day, but a pirate’s outfit for his Year 6 play, in the very same week I also had to deal with “Leavers hoodies” for 30 and as class rep to my daughter’s year 4 was expected to produce flowers, cards and thank you presents for the teachers, plus a picnic lunch, a T-Birds outfit from Grease for my daughter and of course go to work every day as usual and produce dinner every night for my family. This of course was the week that my cleaner told me that she was going home for a five week holiday to Poland. Five weeks! Who gets a five week holiday? So add cleaning and ironing to my list.

Pushed beyond limits, I was most gratified to hear that my Cherry Clafoutis had been the hit of Year 6. Kids had been clambering over it and even parents approached me and asked me what was my secret. Quite simply, unfortunately due to my appalling French, I had not been able to follow the supplied recipe from the school, in French. Therefore, I had used a completely different one! Years of experience taught me, no matter what you are making, “use a good recipe”. Coming from the most excellent book “Baking with Passion” by Baker and Spice and written by Dan Lepard, I knew that it would produce excellent results and apparently, according to Year 6, I was not mistaken.

Cherry Clafoutis 1

Cherry Clafoutis

Obviously I missed out macerating the cherries in alcohol for the kids and it was still delicious.

For the cherries

400g ripe cherries, the best you can find, stones removed

50g / 3 tbsp caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

50mls / 3 tbsp kirsch or brandy (optional)

For the batter

30g unsalted butter, plus extra for greasing

2 free-range eggs

50g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling

½ tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste

125g plain flour

150 mls whole milk

50mls double cream

Gently mix together the cherries, sugar and kirsch and leave to macerate for two hours. (The sugar will slowly permeate the cherries and intensify their flavour.)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Grease a baking dish with butter and sprinkle with sugar. Shake the sugar around the dish so that it is evenly coated, then tip out any excess.

For the batter, melt the butter in a small pan. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside in a warm place. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, sugar and vanilla until creamy. Add the flour, whisk until smooth, then slowly incorporate the milk, cream, salt and melted butter.

Mix the macerated cherries and their juice into the batter and pour into the prepared baking dish.

Bake in the oven for 30-35 minutes, or until the top is slightly domed and the blade of a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. To finish, sprinkle with caster sugar and serve warm.


Nectarines Macerated in Chilled Beaujolais

Next up, another amazing fruit recipe for a hot summers day. Nectarines Macerated in Chilled Beaujolais. What is not to like! A lot of recipes reduce the wine, but I like to add it straight to the sugar syrup to keep its fresh, fruity flavour alive. If you can’t find Beaujolais, then any light fruity red will work – try Fleurie, Gamay or a light Pinot Noir or Cabinet Franc.

Nectarines Macerated in Chilled Beaujolais 1

Nectarines Macerated in Chilled Beaujolais

6 ripe nectarines

200mls / 1 cup good red wine

200g / 1 cup sugar

100mls 1/2 cup water

Make a stock syrup by putting the sugar and water in a saucepan. Stir as you bring the liquid to the boil. Increase heat and boil syrup for 1 minute. Add nectarines. Simmer until nectarines are tender but still hold shape, about 10 minutes. When cold add the red wine. Allow to chill well in the fridge, preferably overnight



Watermelon Salad with Broad Beans, Feta, Red Onion and Mint

I am off on holiday soon, so I won’t be updating the blog for a few weeks, But I am hoping for lots of new inspiration and to pick up some new ideas whilst wondering around the fabulous markets in the South of France. The over-whelming variety of fruits and vegetables, the colours and the smells are always so exciting and stimulating.

With all the fabulous Summer fruits around at Riverford at the moment, I decided to pay homage and have just done three fruit recipes this week. The first is a really refreshing salad of Watermelon, Feta, Broad Beans and Mint. Not only does it look stunning with its clashing colours of pink and lime green but it really works too, the salty feta complimenting the sweet watermelon. A perfect salad for a perfect summers day.

Watermelon Salad with Broad Beans, Feta, Red Onion and Mint

Watermelon Salad with Broad Beans, Feta, Red Onion and Mint
½ a red onion, peeled and very finely sliced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
200g broad beans (shelled)
350g seedless watermelon, rind removed
200g Feta, crumbled
Fresh mint leaves, shredded
Extra virgin olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put the red onion in a bowl with the vinegar and leave to macerate. Blanch broad in boiling salted water for 2-3 minutes until just tender. Drain, then refresh under cold water. Peel the broad beans to remove skins. Set aside.
Cut the watermelon into bite sized chunks. Dress with olive oil and season with a little salt and pepper, then scatter with mint. Add the red onion and the vinegar to the juices of the water melon. Crumble in the feta, add the broad beans and serve.



Salad Box 

With promises of a heatwave coming this week, I opted for a Salad box this week, which contained a bag of mixed salad leaves, some bunched radishes, vine tomatoes, a cucumber, several Ramiro peppers and a head of celery.

I noticed that there was lots of juicing fruit available at the moment at Riverford. It’s funny that everyone gets out there juicers in January with great intentions of fulfilling New Year’s resolutions of eating healthier, getting fitter and losing weight but by the time there is an abundance of seasonal vegetables around, the juicer has long been put away. I decided to get mine out again and it give it another try.

I have experimented quite extensively with my recipes but rather conservatively I have decided that there is only one concoction that I like. It is a blend of apples, carrots, celery and beetroot – the quantities of each may vary greatly depending on what I have to hand but the ingredients never alter – because it is just perfect as it is! With this in mind I added beetroot and apples to my order this week and here is the result. Beetroot is super good for you, excellent at lowering blood pressure and cholesterol and especially at good at detoxing your liver, which is always a good thing.

Beetroot in a Bag

When it comes to juicers, you do have to invest. I have got a basic Magimix one which I have had for about 15 years and it is still going strong and is vastly superior, in my mind to a Nutribullet which was the fad this year and about the same price. I know that Nutribullet keeps in fibre but it is due to this, that practically every drink I have been served from one, is virtually undrinkable. You may strongly disagree and I would love to hear your recipes for your favourite juices.

juice with veg

Beetroot, Carrot, Apple and Celery Juice

1 beetroot

2 sticks celery

2 apples

3 carrots

Wash the vegetables and fruit well. Peel if you like, depending on your juicer. Cut up any veg that will not fit into the shoot. Stir all the juices together well. Drink immediately. (I like to keep my veg in the fridge for a couple of hours before juicing so that you get a really cold drink.)