The Botanist

Out twice in two weeks,  it must be a record. But when a very well known cocktail bar opens in your neighbourhood and invites you to their launch it would be very rude to turn them down.

The Botanists new Nottingham home is in West Bridgford, and 5 minutes walk from my house. In  Fire and Ice, a pretty dull bar and pizza place, the decorators have certainly been busy covering every inch of wall and ceiling with rustic planks and old farming implements. It felt warm and cozy on a very cold night.

Naomi and I usually spend our time together huddled on a cold playground or in our respective kitchens while our 5 very loud girls run in and out demanding food, drinks, and trantrum-intervention so it was lovely to be able to chat over delicious cocktails mine was a short Martini – the Velvet Green – full of green fruit and gin.  N had The Botanist a tall drink of vodka, rum and elderflower liqueur.

Our starters prawns and calamari were quirkily served with sauces mini watering cans. Although I say quirkly,  I mean annoying cos you cannot actually pour mayonnaise out a of watering-can and so we had to track down and spoon to scoop it out.

For mains,  we both had the famous hanging kebabs. Vertically hanging skewers of meat and vegetables served with a little pot of sauce to pour over the kebabs,  down onto the fries below. Sadly as the kebab is hanging in the air it cools really quickly and pouring sauce down just gives you soggy chips. I think it needed a salad or something crunchy with it.

We had the cheeseboard for pudding, lovely cheeses, slightly let down by being served with an assortment of crackers straight out of the Jacob’s Cracker Selection box with sandwich pickle. It’s a beautiful looking place and the staff were lovely,  as it was press launch it was also very very busy and they coped brilliantly.

This place does amazing cocktails and has an impressive ale list. Given the attention to botanicals,  I was probably expecting more garden inspiration in food but is perfect sharing food for the groups of people who will flock there. I’ll be back to try a Sunday Lunch with the family.
40 Bridgford Road , West Bridgford Tel : 0115 704 3700


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Beetroot Burgers


We have burgers most weeks I love making my own. I kept reading about beetroot burgers being this big trend. So I wanted to try to make my own you can’t really have enough purple food!  I read a few recipes and had a go at making my own.

They were pretty tasty … next up I want to work on a bean burger recipe

Beetroot Burgers

Makes 4 large burgers

  • 3 cups of beetroot grated
  • 1.5 cups of rolled oats
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1 tsp of cumin
  • 1 tsp of red chilli
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 egg
  1. Mix together all the ingredients
  2. Form into patties and refridgerate for 30 minutes
  3. Fry in sunflower oil for 10 minutes turning halfway through

Serve with yogurt mixed with fresh mint and salad.


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Loving the Larb

36541155213_4e326bb1ee_zA finally got out for the first time in so long this week.

As I was planning my escape a final guilt trip from my 6 year old. I said it would be fun to have a babysitter.”But you left us with a babysitter before…remember Adam. babysat.

She is right he did nearly a year ago while I went to the PTA Xmas Fair planning committee. That’s how often I get out.

But  this week I actually made it to a play and even a meal in a restaurant.  I ate Thai,  one of my all time favourite cuisines. I chose larb which is a dish I think it in line to be one of my last meals – minced spiced chicken – it’s heaven.

In fact it was so good I made it for the dinner the next night too

Chicken Larb

Enough for two greedy people

  • 4 chicken thighs/breast – grilled
  • 2 red chill peppers
  • 2 spring onions
  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 4 tbsp of uncooked white rice – toasted in a pan and ground
  • juice of one lime
  • 5 tbsp of fish sauce
  • 5 tbsp of coriander leaf
  • 1 tbsp of fresh mint
  • half a small red onion
  • 1/2 thumb of fresh ginger

Iceberg lettuce leaves to serve

  1. Place the rice in hot dry sauce pan on a low heat for 5 minutes , keep tossing the rice and remove before it begins to brown.
  2. Grin in a mortar and pestle until it had a very fine texyt
  3. Finely chop the chicken thighs
  4. Process together all the other ingredients
  5. Mix with the chicken and half the rice
  6. To serve sprinkle the remaining ground rice over the top of the chicken


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Falafels on lavash with Pomegranate, Lemon Olive and Parsley Salad


Emily is obsessed with making lists and quizzes at the moment.  What is your favourite colour? What’s your favourite shape? What is your favourite food?

She gets annoyed I can’t say one favourite food.

But Falafels would definitely be up there. This is a sunshine food and I hope we get some more sunshine soon!


  1. Spread hummus over a falafel, scatter over freshly grated carrot.
  2. Add the falafels , scatter with the pomegranate granita
  3. Drizzle over some plain yogurt


Enough for 4 people

I make these with a mix of bulgar wheat and chick peas
It makes them light and crumbly as I don’t like a chewy falafel
They are baked not fried

300g of tinned chick peas
100g of bulgar wheat soaked
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp of ground coriander
1 tsp of fresh or dried parsley
1 pinch of salt

  1. Mix together the ingredients form into small balls
  2. Brush with sunflower oil refrigerated for 30 minutes
  3. Place under a hot grill for 15 minutes


1 300g tin of chick peas
½ garlic clove
juice and zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp of tahini
6 tbsp of olive oil or rapeseed oil

Blend together all the ingredients in the food processor.

Pomegranate Olive and Parsley Salad

Seeds from 1 pomegranate
¼ preserved lemon finely chopped
1 handful black olives finely slice
1 handful of fresh parsley finely chopped
1 stick of celery finely chopped
½ red onion finely chopped
1 fresh tomato roughly chopped
Juice and zest of a lemon

Mix together all the ingredients

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Salmon with Brown Rice, Quinoa and Asian Salsa


Tonight’s dinner is a picture of health

This salsa was adapted from something by Paul Rankin, it’s an amazing rainbow of green  red and pink from the picked ginger something you usually only have with sushi

I’ve always served the salsa with salmon . I used to use noodles, but this brown rice mixed with black, red and white quinoa (which they sell in Asda) is amazing. It’s worth making lots of extra as it’s great to have in the fridge for summer.

If you don’t make the salsa, I think kimchi or even regular guacamole would work well

Salmon with Brown Rice, Quinoa and Asian Salsa

Serves 2

Brown Rice with Red , Black and White Quinoa

  • 100g of brown rice
  • 100 of red, black and white quinoa

Cook the brown rice ( 40 minute simmer for rice) and quinoa (10 minutes) separately according to instructions.

Drain , mix and then chill

Asian Salsa

  • 1 avocado diced
  • 1 handful of cherry tomatoes diced
  • 2 tbsp of picked ginger
  • 2 inches of cucumber diced
  • 1 red chili finely chopped
  • juice of half a lemon
  • small bunch of coriander roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp of soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of fish sauce

Mix together the salsa ingredients and leave for 30 minutes in the fridge.


2 salmon fillets sprinkled with dried chili pepper

  1. Grill for 15 minutes under a hot grill.
  2. Allow to rest for 5 minutes
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Pasta with Garden Greens,​ Garlic , Anchovies and Chili


This used to be one of our go to evening meals especially when we had a veg-box. This year the greens in the garden have gone a bit crazy purple sprouting broccoli and kale grown from seed. It is lovely sending the girls out to pick some, although I think they are more fond of trying to feed it to the guinea pigs.

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You can use any green leaves, kale works really well, but even the cabbage patch caterpillar-eaten purple sprouting leaves worked brilliantly and finely chopped you can’t see the holes!

Pasta with Garden Greens, Garlic, Anchovies, and Chili

Serves 2

  • 100g of dried spaghetti
  • 5 large handfuls of greens ( kale, rocket, purple sprouting leaves, chard or spring greens) finely chopped –  I use the food processor
  • 1 tin of anchovies
  • 1 tsp of chili flakes
  • Zest and juice of half a lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic finely chopped
  1. Cook the spaghetti according to directions
  2. Pour the tin of anchovies, oil and all into a hot frying pan
  3. Add the garlic, chili and then the greens
  4. Cook until the greens are well cooked
  5. Mix in the spaghetti and add the zest and juice of the lemon
  6. Serve immediately or leave as this is really lovely cold with maybe a little extra virgin olive oil poured over.
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BBQ Pork Belly and Coleslaw



You have to make the most of an English summer because blink and you miss it.

A quick trip to the Farmer’s market yesterday yielded an enormous lump of pork belly with the ribs in.  We did get a gas BBQ last year, vital when you are trying to BBQ quickly for two little kids in the evening.  Nick is still a charcoal BBQ-er at heart (still slightly annoyed I won’t let him open a BBQ restaurant) and for a low and slow cook you need the indirect heat, you can only get from a proper BBQ,  I’ve written before about

I’ve written before about how you master indirect heat  but essentially it’s like a slow cook in the oven. Lid on,  hands off and if you are “looking it’s not cooking” . This BBQ cooked all afternoon and into the evening with a few sausages popped on for the kid’s tea , eaten a few hours before our dinner.



  1. A dry rub on the pork belly – this time a jerk seasoning.
  2. Cooked on indirect heat for 6-8 hours
  3. Served with homemade coleslaw ( shredded white cabbage, carrot and red onion mixed with mayo, dijon mustard and lemon juice)
  4. Serve by slicing between the rib bones



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Brown Rice and Greens

Rice and Greens

This sounds like a really dull healthy dish. And though it is healthy but it’s definitely not dull. It packs a mean punch.

I make it to use up things in the vegetable/salad draw, or when there really isn’t much in the fridge as you can use a lot of freezer ingredients. I prefer to use brown rice as I like the nutty taste I think it tastes like it has been fried.

Brown Rice and Greens

Makes enough for two

100g of brown rice
100g of meat – chicken thighs , prawns , pork all work well
2 handfuls of greens – chard , spinach , kale -very finely chopped
2 handfuls  of fresh or frozen –  green beans ,sugar snap peas, mange tout or peas
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
1 large red chilli, finely chopped
1 thumb of ginger
1 tbsp of coriander ( either fresh leaves or coriander seeds)
1 egg
6  tbsp of soy sauce
Splash of sunflower oil

  1. Cook the brown rice and allow to cool.
  2. Finely chop ( or food process)  together the greens , garlic , onions , chilli, ginger and coriander
  3. Mix together with the meat.
  4. Fry the meat , greens and spices in a splash of oil for 5 minutes until the meat us cooked.
  5. Add the beans/peas and brown rice.
  6. Stir well and cook for 5 minutes. Make an well in the middle and add the egg.
  7. Stir well to cook the egg and keep staring for a few more minutes adding the soy sauce, before serving.
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Kimchi Pancakes with Inkyung’s Kitchen


I wrote a few weeks ago about the lovely Inkyung,  a Mum at Em’s school who gave me some of her home-made kimchi.

It was delicious and thankfully Inkyung is now teaching everyone how to make amazing Korean food from her lovely home –  Inkyung’s Kitchen or your home in Nottingham

This Thursday evening, clutching  a 1 litre jar , a group of Mum’s from school gathered to make kimchi.  In Korea they can often take a whole day to make kimchi but we  had a few hours and a some wine.

Inkyung had prepared some of the elements, a stock and rice glue in advance for us a stock and rice glue so we have the restful parts of massaging cabbage with salt , some leisurely chopping and mixing.

While everything was resting, Inkyung cooked up a few batches of kimchi pancakes which were so stunning that although you are really supposed to wait a few weeks before eating the kimchi. I just couldn’t wait to share the pancakes with Nick. I checked and you can use the kimchi straight away.

I fried up a few batches of the kimchi pancakes,  which we ate with fresh kimchi & dipped in a little soy sauce. It’s interesting how the taste change in the kimchi when it’s cooked the heat from the chilli mellows.

You can add prawns , or minced pork or chicken but honestly they are delicious just plain. I want to eat them for breakfast.

Inkyung runs classes from her home or for groups or parties she will come to homes locally in Nottingham you can book via her Facebook page – Inkyung’s Kitchen

Kimchi Pancakes

Make 8 pancakes

  • 5 heaped tbsp of kimchi , roughly chopped
  • 2 heaped tbsp of plain flour or rice flour
  1. Mix the flour with the kimchi
  2. Depending on the liquid in your kimchi you may need a little more flour or a little water You are looking for a texture of soggy cornflakes
  3. Ladle 1 heaped tbsp into a hot pan with a little oil until browning at the edges, then turn.
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Kofta Kebabs

Lamb Koftas

A kebab on a Saturday night is traditional. But if I am having it at home I go all out , homemade lamb koftas , freshly made flatbreads , kebab salad and mint-yoghurt.

Lamb Koftas

Makes 8 koftlas

500g of lamb mince
1 tsp of dried chilli flakes
1 cloves of garlic
½ small red onion
½ tsp of coriander seeds

1. Process together the mince with the other ingredients.
2. Shape around wooden skewers and refrigerate for at least an hour.
3. To cook grill for 8 minutes on a high grill setting turning half way through.


Makes 4 large flatbreads

400g of strong plain flour
300ml warm water
1/2 tsp of yeast
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp of olive oil

  1. Mix together the flour , yeast and salt
  2. Stir in the warm water and olive oil and form a dough
  3. Knead for 5 minutes place in a floured bowl, cover and leave in a warm place for one hour.
  4. Divide into 4 pieces and roll out
  5. Heat a frying pan on a high heat brush the pan with oil
  6. Cook the flatbread on one side until bubbles appear
  7. Turn over a cook for another two minutes.

Kebab Salad

Finely sliced white cabbage, red onion ,  grated carrot, finely chopped tomato, coriander , and preserved lemon.

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