The Joys of Spring: Leg of Lamb With Lyonnaise Potatoes

With Passover on Friday, followed by Easter Sunday, it’s a big moment for lamb. On both occasions the meat will be used as the culinary centerpiece, so it has a lot to live up to. This particular method of cooking the lamb on top of the potatoes is my favourite, as every last drop of juice is soaked up, making the ingredients really come together as one. Anchovies give a delicious umami note to the sweet lamb and allowing the meat to marinade for as long as possible lets the flavours really penetrate the joint. Served with plenty of homemade mint sauce, this lamb is well worth the sacrifice…

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Quickies: Low Carb “Kind of Carbonara”

This “kind of carbonara” is what I cook when I really don’t feel like cooking. It’s incredibly quick and easy with the added bonus of being low-carb. If you’re a follower of the 5:2 way of eating, it also makes a delicious, filling dinner for a fast day. The yoghurt gives it a creamy, luxurious feel and the flavour of the smokey pancetta courses through the dish. Pretty impressive for a meal that takes ten minutes – Deliveroo be damned!

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From Offal to Delicious! Warm up With a Steak and Kidney Pudding

Steak and kidney pudding is a godsend of a dish in this weather. Nothing comes close to it when the snow is pelting down and it’s too cold to contemplate even leaving the house. It’s the most comforting dinner ever. This pudding is also a great way to use offal – I pack mine full of kidneys. Although I’m not a huge offal fan (currently trying to change that) the kidneys aren’t at all overpowering, serving only to add a delicious kick to the dish.

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Souped Up! Delicious Ham Hock and Green Pea Broth

I have soup for dinner every Monday evening – it makes me feel virtuous, especially after a weekend of excess. Having recently fallen into a soup rut, I’ve been making more an effort to expand my repertoire – the thought of another week of minestrone was just depressing…

I spied a delicious looking ham hock at the butchers last week and thought “I just have to bring you home with me!”. It’s been so long since I’ve had one – even if you have a great butcher, hocks tend to get snapped up early in the day. If you’ve ever had one you’ll know why. If you haven’t, you need to get your hands on one. They are huge hunks of ham that yield so much tasty, flavoursome meat and they only cost around £3 – I just love a butcher bargain.

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American Pancakes with Fried Banana and Bacon

It’s that time of year again where you can’t swing a crucifix without knocking over some plastic bottles of ready-made pancake mix. Pancakes are hard to avoid at the moment, so it’s unsurprising that they seeped into my consciousness last weekend and I just had to make some for Sunday brunch.

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Luxury Brunches: Scallop and Streaky Bacon Baguettes

This brunch dish was inspired by my recent trip to Billingsgate Market. As soon as I read “Bacon and Scallop Roll” off the café menu board, I was dying to try it out and so I bought a big box of plump scallops from the first stall I could find. What I really love about this recipe is that it also features ingredients from two of my favourite places to shop.

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My Morning at Billingsgate Fish Market

For years it’s been an ambition of mine to visit Billingsgate Fish Market. Ambitious in the sense that I’d be extricating myself from bed at a time that I’d usually be arriving home on a Saturday morning. Last week though, I decided to see what the fuss was about (whilst crossing my fingers that my regular fishmonger wouldn’t catch me in the act of defection) and I fell in love.

I went by bike, which wasn’t as horrendous as it sounds. The early morning air gets you alert and awake and it only took me around thirty minutes from my home in Hoxton to get to Poplar, where the market is situated. I also felt a bit smug about getting in a good chunk of my daily exercise at a time when I’d normally be tipsy or asleep.

First impressions of the market were, “Oh my God, it’s huuuuge”. It is literally a food lovers’ Disneyland. The loading bays and freezer rooms make it look deceptively big though – the actual shopping area is an unintimidating size. You could do a thorough nosey of the whole place in half an hour. Wholesale buyers make up the bulk of customers in the early hours of the market but when we arrived (5am) the place was filled with members of the public, many with shopping trolleys in tow.

There are two cafés at Billingsgate. I popped into one for a much needed coffee (which was delicious). The atmosphere was great. The place was bustling with regulars and the banter was palpable. As I waited, I had a peek at their menu board. They obviously make the most of the abundance of fish on offer, with kippers, mackerel and smoked salmon all featuring. One item on the menu had me salivating so much that I decided I just had to make it for brunch (more on that later).

Prices are extremely reasonable at the market. The best offers I spotted were a huge wild salmon which would have fed at least ten people generously for £20 and five kilograms of mackerel for £10. Bemoaning the lack of a chest freezer (and 10 eligible guests!) I bought half a kilo of gorgeous, fat tiger prawns for £7, a box of around twenty scallops for £15 and two glorious live lobsters for £25. Other items that caught my eye were the live oysters and meaty swordfish, which I’m planning on purchasing next time I go.

One thing I have to mention about the market is the lack of cycle parking. There’s a large car park, if that’s your thing, but we and other cyclists had to use random railings as makeshift racks. More bike accommodation would be welcome, seeing as a substantial number of visitors arrive on two wheels.

All in all, Billingsgate Market is a wonderful experience and I’d highly recommend it to fish lovers (and those who need to be converted to the fruits of the sea). It opens up a whole world of culinary opportunities at highly reduced costs. A true East London institution, brave the early alarm clock and get down there!

Billingsgate Fish Market is open Tuesday to Saturday. Opening hours are 4-8am.

Pumpkin Pie With Spooky Black Custard

Continuing to make the most of pumpkin season, I decided to make a spooky Halloween dessert by pairing the squash with a spooky black custard. I’m a huge fan of coloured custards – they instantly add fun and the vivid black and orange colours are well in keeping with the season.

Halloween Pumpkin Pie With Black Custard

Halloween Pumpkin Pie With Black Custard

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Gunpowder Ravioli with Pumpkin and Squash Filling

I love themed food – it’s so much fun relating your cooking to what’s going on in the calendar. There’s two big events coming up in the next few weeks and this dish gives a nod to them both. Halloween and Guy Fawkes/Bonfire Night are just a few days apart and the opportunity to combine pumpkins and gunpowder was too delicious to resist.

Gunpowder Ravioli With Sage Butter

Gunpowder Ravioli With Sage Butter

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Mash Appeal: the Perfect Pairing of Carrots and Parsnips

I’ve never seen carrot and parsnip mash outside of Ireland and I’m genuinely perplexed as to how one can eat a roast dinner without it. It’s probably my favourite side dish ever. Incredibly versatile and delicious without stealing the show, it lends itself well to everything from beef, chicken, game, turkey and lamb.


Carrot and Parsnip Mash

Carrot and Parsnip Mash

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