Five Spice Beef


It’s pretty cold seems like although the daffodils and crocuses are out winter has returned and I want something hearty but not stodgy.

Stir Fried beef unless you choose an expensive cut and cook it very quickly can be chewy. I much prefer this slow cook version and you end up with a delicious smelling house

You could add mushrooms, aubergine or even some pumpkin/sweet potato if you want to bulk out the meat.

I love it served with stick rice, or rice noodles and some steamed greens, here  pruple sprouting brocollis is just coming into season

Slow Cooked Five Spice Beef

Serves 4

500g of beef joint (Leg or shin) something suitable for stewing chopped into ½ inch cubes
1 medium onion finely chopped
1tsp five spice powder
1tsp red chilli flakes
1 clove of garlic
1tsp of honey
1 tbsp of cornflour
4 tbsp of soy or oyster sauce

If you like some extra spice 10 Sezchuan Peppercorns crused ad a little hot and numbing.

Pressure Cooker 

  1. Place all the ingredients in the pressure cooker , except the cornflour
  2. Bring to HIGH and cook for 45 minutes
  3. Once cooked release the pressure and stir in the cornflour and warm through.

Slow Cooker 

OR place all the ingredients in a slow-cooker for 6 hours on low.

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Gusto, West Bridgford


I’ve been settled with my other half for more than ten years now. Back when we got together meeting someone was still based around mates introducing you or getting sufficiently tipsy in a pub/club that talking to a total stranger didn’t bring you out in a panic attack.  Now it’s all online dating which means keeping up your social media presence and updating app profiles. Frankly I’d rather just put up with his annoying habits than have to face the horror of having to Instagram, my lack of thigh gap or my sagging bum!

Blogging has evolved too in the  couple of years I’ve been off the scene. Even when I started I didn’t really mean to write a blog , I was just trying to store recipes. Food blogs happened and I sort of surfed  the wave, until my kids forced me to take a break.

I thought blogging had kind of died, just about everyone was instagramming their avocado toast now and anyone you had to multi-channel it with You Tube videos and tweets.

But I had an invite to review a restaurant and since bloggers are invited in packs by PR companies, it seemed a nice chance to check out what’s changed in the blogging world.

The restaurant, Gusto, is also only 10 minutes walk from my house, near the entrance to the kids playground I spend more than half my life in. So over the last few months I have been watching the million pound revamp.

Looks like the money was well spent, the interior is beautiful lots of light, glass and shine without feeling cold. The ceiling covered in olive branches wrapped with fairy lights, they have added a  covered heated patio and  preserved the 30ft monkey tree on the open patio, complemented by the whole olive tree inside.

I arrived a little delayed by Storm Doris and a little windswept. Quickly cheered when the Best Waiter in the World Ever said,   “What can I get you, a large glass of wine?”

The lovely Malbec,  a great choice from a substantial wine list, was perfect for reading the menu and chatting with some other food bloggers, all lovely , suitably obsessed with food and better equipped than me with digital SLR.  It never stops being weird seeing people photograph their food. I know hypocritical aren’t I.

Gusto is an Italian Chain with restaurants in the North and Midlands, the menu featured  pasta, risotto,  pizza as well as  meaty and fishy mains. I think everyone could find something to eat.

The Best Waiter in the World had stiff competition despite the restaurant being packed the staff were all friendly , efficient and definitely knew their stuff. Training for opening has gone well and service was amazing.

For my starter I had smoked salmon with celeriac remoulade and  tomato -caper dressing. Plenty of smoked salmon and a lovely treat not to lose 90% of my smoked salmon to the kids, the remoulade was a bit creamy needed more of a acid, maybe more dressing

My main course was a pork fillet  ‘saltimbocca’ wrapped in Tuscan Ham with a masala gravy. Saltimbocca means dances on your tongue and is usually made with veal. But this was nice the pork was perfectly cooked,  sticky gravy and creamy mash shame there were really any nice seasonal veg on the menu would have gone for a bit of kale.  The vegetables on the menu were all a bit messed around with battered courgette, a waste of currently rationed courgettes)  or creamed spinach.

After two courses I  was pretty full, but I did manage some delicious lemon sorbet , a great way to end a lovely meal.

As I was leaving I was taking a picture of the monkey tree,  wrapped in is fairy lights and I got talking to some guys who were on a date. They were about to eat dinner after a few drinks at the bar. This gave me another reason to stay with my other half,   sure I could have romantic dates at beautiful restaurants like Gusto, but imagine having to eat at 9.30pm!

As for the blogging world, it seems not too much has changed, you are still supposed to take photos of the food, which I managed not to do.  So I guess I will have to drag the family in for a visit , certainly plenty of families were enjoying a Sunday lunch as we walked past on our way to the playground again!


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Kale, Potato and Chicken Curry

Kale , Potato and Chicken Curry

I’ve been ill for a few weeks now. Disgusting cold/sinus making all food taste like cotton wool and headaches that make me feel permanently hungover. To try to self-medicate , when I can face eating my food has been getting spicier and spicier. This is one of those foods that feels like it is doing you good but tastes amazing. I’ve added chicken but it’s fine without, you could add some paneer instead or keep it vegan without.

Don’t let the kale put you off. I really only like kale if it is very well cooked with some strong flavours otherwise it just feel like eating irony-leaves .It’s delicious fried with anchovies, chilli and garlic but definitely my favourite way to eat it is in curry.

In texture, the kale is very similar to proper indian (saag) spinach, which is a lot thicker than the standard european spinach leaves. If I don’t have kale,  frozen spinach is something I use a lot,  keeping forever in the freezer and emptied in golf ball sized lumps into the pan.

I make this in the pressure cooker because it is ready very quickly but tastes like it has been simmering for ages.

Potato, Kale and Chicken Curry

Serves 4 with some rice or flatbreads.

  • 4 tbsp of oil
  • 1 tbsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 tbsp of cumin seeds , roughly ground
  • 1 tbsp of coriander seeds, roughly ground
  • 1 tbsp of garam masala
  • 1 tbsp of paprika
  • 1 tbsp of tumeric
  • 3 green chilli,  left whole
  • 2 cloves of garlic,  finely chopped
  • 1 thumb of ginger grated
  • a large bunch of kale very finely chopped ( I put it in the food processor) or frozen spinach leaves
  • 400g of maris piper potatoes , don’t bother peeling and roughly chopped into 1.5 cm sized pieces
  • 1 large onion , finely chopped
  • 1 (500g) tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 300g of chicken thighs ( 4 thighs) ,  roughly chopped
  1. Fry all the spices , add the onions, garlic,  potatoes and kale and a tin of tomatoes
  2. I cook this in the pressure cooker on high for 20 minutes, but in a regular pan , it would need 40 minutes on a gentle simmer with the lid on and a cup of water added.
  3. Once the curry sauce is cooked add the chicken and cook for a further 15 minutes with the lid off , add a little water if it seems to be sticking.
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Burn’s Night

Well I said I was back and I said it would be honest and this is the kind of thing I was coming up with 8 months before I had Emily . Haggis and Pomegranate Flatbreads


So beautiful and trust me delicious. Burns Night this week,  with two kids it wasn’t so elegant.

I still cooked a haggis. The haggis,  whole with chopped swede , carrot and onion a little water in the pressure cooker ready in 20 minutes on high.

Haggis is actually such a perfect ready meal. I actually have 5 on the online shop for this week to keep in the freezer.

Any leftovers now are  served as  “meatballs” for the kids  with baked beans. Just like faggots .

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When I became a Mum 5 years ago.  I lost myself. I worked out eventually how to be a Mum,  enough to do it a second time and once I went back to work I remembered how to be the working me. But honestly I have realised I didn’t actually know how to be the me-with-kids.

It was easy to ignore  working full time the last few years, I didn’t really have the time or energy to be anything else but working-me and mum-me but recently working from home and part time. I have started to think again.

Mum-me does the PTA , sorts out playgroup ,makes sure my kids are growing and healthy and increasingly read and do their spellings. Work-me is mostly organised delivers and sometimes pulls an all-nighter due to a combination of insomnia and foolhardiness.

But I totally forgot about the external things that I want. I know in the last 5 years it has been almost impossible to get the one essential my introverted-self needs , an hour or two a day alone reading a book (it has often happened at 3am). So anything more seems like indulgence.

And oddly I realised this morning at Issy’s playgroup one thing I really miss. I had just spent 20 minutes extolling the virtues of a pressure cooker to someone when a lovely Mum, who runs Korean Cookery courses offered me some of her homemade Kimchi.

It was a lightbulb I love to cook and this lovely blog let me share it with other people and gave me so much pleasure. And it was really me-me….. So to hell with it blogs are old school we are all v-log and it’s really all about clean eating.

For the first time in ages tonight  I got out my camera took a picture of my food before I are it and have spent 20 minutes writing nonsense about my own dinner. And that’s me , that’s what I do

So here , kimchi from the lovely Inkyung ( I’ll get the recipe soon…. it was much less salty than mine) . I served it with some pressure cooker pulled pork  …. out the freezer and some beansprouts. It was delicious and writing this was pretty lovely too.

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Warm Apple Cake


It’s been a lovely summer with Em at home and making the most of the garden we have had beans , courgettes, blackberries, plums and strawberries .

Turning to Autumn we are picking Apples from our tree for the first time. Should be trees but one of the trees has decided not to fruit

Lots of apple puree for Issy and for the grown ups Apple cake delicious when still warm from the oven.

Warm Apple Cake

175g of self raising flour
175ml of sunflower oil
175g of brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g of finely chopped apple

Makes 16 pieces

Preheat the oven to 175degC
Line a 25cm square tin with greaseproof paper
Cream together the oil , sugar , apple and eggs
Stir in the flour, bicarbonate of soda and cocoa
Fill the the cake tin and bake at 175degC for 35 minutes
Allow to cook and cut into pieces.

Celebrating a year our house.  We are finally getting some wardrobes to put our clothes in.


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Beef and Vegetable Moroccan Stew


Em’s lovely nursery recently revamped their menus. I thought was pretty good before but now they have really gone all our with variety

Here are few of the mains

Szechuan Pork and Basmati Rice
Carrot and Coriander with Orange Zucchini Bread
Broad Bean and Bacon Pasta
Moroccan Vegetable Stew with apricot cous cous
Sausage and Bean Hotpot

Some of the kids struggled a bit with a change from some of their firm favourites so Nursery has been encouraging parents to try out some of the recipes.
Morrocan is a firm favourite in our house so inspired for Sunday Lunch this week.

Hosting the in-laws I have begun to much prefer casserole in the slow cooker to full roast lunch on a Sunday ,  Stew or casserole ( (I set the slow cooker on a plug-in timer the night before)  and my slightly tired and brain doesn’t have to worry about timings , nothing gets burnt if I am distracted by a child tantrum  and I am able to spend more time with guests.

This dish went down a storm and even better at 7 months Issy has eaten lots of it pureed in the following week. Not that getting Issy to eat is an issue , it is the enormous amounts that she eats, I struggle with. This time around weaning is much easier probably because much of the food we eat is more child-freindly. If you are ever looking for some inspiration Lets Get Cooking at Home does have some good ideas.

Moroccan Beef and Vegetable Stew

Makes enough for 8 people which means plenty left for mels in the week

1kg of shin of beef diced into 1.5cm cubes
500g of carrots
3 sticks of celery
500g tin of chick peas
1 medium sized butternut squash diced into 1cm cubes
1 large onion roughly chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 large handful of dried apricots
2 tbps of ras al hanout ( but you could use a mix of tumeric , paprika , ground coriander , ground cumin , grpund cardamon chilli powder )

Place all the ingredients into the slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours. Stir after 4 hours

Serve with cous cous and a little cucumber mint yogurt.

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Hoisin Pork with Pancakes

Pancakes with Shredded Hoisin Pork

This is an alternative to chinese crispy duck pancakes , delicious from Chinese restaurants but a pain to cook at home , I’ve done it but burnt fingers from stripping boiling duck really aren’t worth it . In this a pulled pork version the pork fall apart on cooking.

Chinese Pancakes with Shredded Crispy Hoisin Pork

Serves 4

1.5kg of pork shoulder, remove any rind but leave on the fat this will render down

4 cloves of garlic peeled
200ml of hoisin sauce

To serve

100ml of hoisin sauce
Half a cucumber cut into thin batons
6 spring onions finely shredded
40 Chinese pancakes

Mix the pork with the hoisin sauce.

Oven Version

Rub the pork shoulder all over with the ingredients above
Place it in a large lidded cast iron pot and put in the oven at 150degC for 3 hours.
Finally place the pork in a deep roasting tray with the juices and place in a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes
Remove the pork once the outside is caramalised the sauces will reduce.

Slow Cooker

Place all the ingredients in the slow cooker on LOW for 6 hours
Pull apart the pork mix through with the juices place under a hot grill for 15minutes or a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes. Stir halfway through.

Pressure Cooker

Rub the pork with the ingredients above
Place in the pressure cooker on a trivet and cook on HIGH for 1 hr
Remove from the pressure cooker.Pull apart the pork mix through with the juices place under a hot grill for 15minutes or a hot oven 190degC for 25 minutes. Stir halfway through.

How to serve

To serve heat the pancakes in batches ( 30secs on high in the microwave ) as required.
Allow guests to make up their own pancakes with a tablespoon of pork, shredded cucumber , spring onion and a drizzle of hoisin sauce.
Roll and eat .

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Kale and Smoked Mackerel Kedgeree.


I was saying yesterday , I hate cooking. The thing that used to be my relaxation has rapidly become a miserable depressing chore. Done whilst a child wines or cries. Shopping done on sterile online shopping. And worst since I got pregnant with Isobel ( who is now 3 months old and lovely) , I am actually happiest with a sandwich and a packet of crisps. Is it hormonal , I don’t know all I do know is I need to beat this because it isn’t me and I owe them better

So once a week a new lovely blogged dish, first a kedgeree packed full of goodness tastes amazing.

Kale and Mackerel Kedgeree

For two people

150g of brown rice
2 eggs
200g of smoked mackerel
4 handfuls of chopped curly kale
1 medium red onion
1 tbsp garam masala
1 TSP nigella seeds
1 TSP tumeric
4 tbsp sunflower oil.
Handful of chopped coriander
Half a lemon – zest and juice.

For 2 people

Cook the rice according to the packet instructions , put the eggs in the pan for the last 10 minutes to hardboil  ( I pressure cook my brown rice , 5 mins on 2 you can out the eggs in too)
Fry the onions , kale in the spices and oil til softened
Add the rice and cook for a further 10 minutes stirring well
Add the mackerel and lemon zest and juice
Stir through the coriander and serve with the eggs cut into quarters

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Everything All In Soup


Em is 3 years old now and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the new baby. The optimist in me hopes she will continue to be a good helper . As she is at the age where she wants to do everything herself, I try to get her involved in things around the house but only recently have I mastered getting her to do some cookery. Chopping vegetables , pouring and mixing are definitely in her favourite things.


Being a sadly practical Mum , it’s not sparkly fairy cakes in this house, recently she has been helping with the weekend meals , this a kind use up everything soup is a staple in our house. Any mix of vegetables , with pasta or beans, all in a pan or in our house the pressure cooker for 10 minutes. Em gets on with some very slow chopping and mixing.  She is very focused and you can’t interfere , teaches me a lot of patience.


Everything All In Soup

1 tin of tomatoes
1 onion finely chopped
1 clove of garlic
1 tsp dried mixed herbs
Assorted veg , celery , carrots , peas , runner beans , leeks.
2 handfuls of dried pasta or  one tin of beans , haricot , butter or cannellini

1. Place all the ingredients in a pressure cooker
2. Seal , cook for 10 mins on highest pressure.
3. Serve with crusty bread and grated cheese.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker a gentle simmer for 25 mins will work.

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