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Spring is a season of renewal, and this sentiment extends beautifully into the kitchen. As the days grow longer and warmer, the earth offers up a bounty of fresh produce that beckons us to create vibrant, light, and refreshing dishes. Embracing seasonal cooking not only enhances the flavors of our meals but also supports local agriculture and ensures we’re eating produce at its peak.

Pâté de Campagne with Pickled Vegetables

For a touch of rustic elegance, try incorporating pate de campagne into your spring menu. This traditional French country terrine is made with a mix of pork and liver, seasoned with herbs and spices. Serve it with a side of pickled spring vegetables for a delightful contrast of flavors.

Ingredients for Pâté:

  • 1 lb pork shoulder, diced
  • 1/2 lb pork liver, diced
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 325°F (165°C).
  2. In a large bowl, combine the pork shoulder, liver, cream, brandy, garlic, shallot, thyme, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
  3. Transfer the mixture to a terrine or loaf pan, pressing it down firmly.
  4. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 1.5 hours, or until the pâté reaches an internal temperature of 160°F (71°C).
  5. Let the pâté cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving.

Ingredients for Pickled Vegetables:

  • 1 cup baby carrots, sliced
  • 1 cup radishes, sliced
  • 1 cup asparagus tips
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon black peppercorns

Instructions:

  1. In a small saucepan, combine the vinegar, water, sugar, salt, mustard seeds, and peppercorns. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar and salt.
  2. Place the vegetables in a heatproof jar or container.
  3. Pour the hot pickling liquid over the vegetables, making sure they are fully submerged.
  4. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Serve slices of pâté de campagne alongside the pickled vegetables with crusty bread for a satisfying and sophisticated springtime appetizer.

Lemon Herb Roasted Chicken

Spring herbs add a burst of freshness to this simple yet elegant roasted chicken. Lemon, garlic, and a blend of herbs create a fragrant, flavorful dish that’s perfect for a springtime dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole chicken (about 4 lbs)
  • 1 lemon, halved
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C).
  2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry with paper towels. Season the cavity with salt and pepper, then stuff it with the lemon halves and garlic cloves.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the rosemary, thyme, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
  4. Rub the herb mixture all over the chicken, making sure to get under the skin where possible.
  5. Place the chicken in a roasting pan and roast for 1.5 to 2 hours, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and the skin is golden brown.
  6. Let the chicken rest for 10 minutes before carving. Serve with your favorite spring vegetables.

Classic French Desserts: Lemon Tart

No spring meal is complete without delightful French desserts, and a classic French lemon tart is the perfect way to end your meal on a sweet note. This tart combines a buttery crust with a tangy, creamy lemon filling that’s simply irresistible.

Ingredients for the Crust:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, chilled and diced
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons ice water

Instructions:

  1. In a food processor, combine the flour, butter, sugar, and salt. Pulse until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  2. Add the egg yolk and ice water, pulsing until the dough comes together.
  3. Press the dough into a tart pan, covering the bottom and sides evenly. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  4. Preheat your oven to 350°F (175°C). Bake the crust for 20 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool.

Ingredients for the Filling:

  • 1 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • Zest of 2 lemons

Instructions:

  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, sugar, eggs, cream, and lemon zest until smooth.
  2. Pour the filling into the cooled crust.
  3. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the filling is set and slightly golden on top.
  4. Let the tart cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Spring is a time of vibrant flavors and fresh ingredients, and these recipes are perfect for celebrating the season. Whether you’re savoring a slice of pâté de campagne with pickled vegetables, roasting a lemon herb chicken, or indulging in a classic lemon tart, these dishes are sure to brighten your table and bring a taste of spring into your home.

If you haven’t heard of renowned Colombian chef, Juan Manuel Barrientos, you will very soon. He is affectionately known as ‘Juanma’ by locals and at the very young age of 40 is already the founder of a hospitality group that includes restaurants and hotel across the Americas. He was named one of the 50 best chefs in Latin America and there is no doubt you will see his empire extending into Europe in the not-too-distant future.

His original restaurant is based in Medellín. It is now situated inside his boutique El Cielo Hotel. You can appreciate his popularity with a visit to his fabulously inventive restaurant there. With an open kitchen, you can see all the staff in action. They are all dressed in white lab coats with hair nets and meticulously beavering away at their workstations. You can be excused for thinking you’ve walked into the world of Willy Wonka and his chocolate factory.

Their tasting menu includes more than 15 courses or ‘moments’ as they like to call them in the restaurant. They like to create a sense of mystery with their menu. If you look online, you’ll find a long list of mostly single words, which don’t describe the ingredients of the dish. They are in fact, different regions of Colombia and your gastronomic journey at El Cielo is a whirlwind tour of the different regions of the country. What is important to note is this tasting menu is only available at the Medellín branch. If you visit their Michelin-starred restaurants in Miami or Washington DC, only some of the highlights might be on their menu.

The moments are designed to stimulate your senses. The restaurant is well-known for its choco-therapy, so for one course, you’ll be crushing a chocolate truffle ball with your hands. Then you will be enjoying the delights without the use of cutlery. It will bring back innocent childhood memories when dining was less rigid and formal.

This is also the case for another course, where diners are offered edible balloons with helium inside. That is the cue for a chorus of Donald Duck voices reverberating around the restaurant. What makes their concept so successful is they take the seriousness out of fine dining and with every course, they bring a heartfelt smile to everyone’s faces.

Although not advertised on their website, they do cater for dietary requirements. They can readily prep for a vegetarian version of the tasting menu. For example, when they present locally cured charcuterie, they can offer smoked peppers instead.

Dishes are nevertheless always exquisitely presented. The “tree of life” is a case in point, it’s a crunchy canopy of yucca bread presented in a tree trunk structure that made it resemble a bonsai tree.

You might have thought the “tree of life” would represent the Amazonas course. Instead, it is the fish course that contained arapaima. It is the largest freshwater fish in the world and is found in the Amazon River. The dish is presented with burning charcoal and you do wonder whether it is intentional to represent the long-suffering rainforest. The Arapaima has a rather firm texture reminiscent of cod. Another seafood course is the Cartagena-inspired sausage course that is made with crab meat and white fish.

If you are a meat lover, your main course will be paradise. It’s a confit duck served with a peach sauce along with a duck reduction sauce. It’s a surprise you see a lot of menus offering duck and orange but rarely see duck and peach paired together.

The meal is also interactive. For one of the dessert courses, you are a paleontologist looking for an ammonite, as you brush away the edible powder to reveal your dessert. History is never far away from your experience. With the petit fours, it is presented alongside a replica of the Muisca raft, which is the most famous artefact from the Gold Museum in Bogota.

Coffee is an integral part of the Colombian dining experience. The cafetal course includes the use of liquid nitrogen before your coffee is served to resemble the misty conditions of the coffee-growing regions of Colombia.

Throughout the meal, the kitchen excels in showing its mastery of molecular gastronomy. The full experience generally takes at least 3 hours, so make sure you plan either a full afternoon or evening for your meal. ‘El Cielo’ means heaven in Spanish and you will be in gastronomic heaven by the end of your meal.

For more information on the restaurant, please visit –

Home

Moist chocolate sponge layered with whipped cocoa cream and fresh strawberries. There’s nothing not to like about this luscious bank holiday bake.

Ingredients:

170g self raising flour

170g caster sugar

170g baking margarine

3 eggs

2tsp cocoa powder

For the filling:

400ml double cream

300g icing sugar

35g cocoa powder

200g strawberries

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/140C (fan)/gas mark 3. Grease and line a 12-15cm round cake tin in preparation.
  2. Beat together the baking margarine and caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Stir in the flour, eggs, and cocoa to form a smooth batter.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared cake tin and bake in the oven for 50 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake to cool in its tin.
  4. Whisk together the double cream, icing sugar and cocoa until the mixture looks spreadable.
  5. Slice the cake into three even layers. Wash the strawberries and slice each one in half. Starting with the bottom layer, line the edges of the cake with halved strawberries, exposed side facing outwards. Fill the inner circle with cream. Top with the second cake layer and repeat.
  6. Spread any leftover cream on top of the stacked cake and finish with a pile of strawberries. Serve immediately, keeping any leftovers in the fridge and consuming within 2 days.

London boasts a plethora of dynamic rooftop restaurants in the city centre. One that has stood the test of time is Galvin at Windows. Being situated on the 28th floor of the historic London Hilton on Park Lane, you won’t be surprised to find unimpeded views of London’s fascinating skyline.

Galvin at Windows: Dining in the Clouds

A Culinary Powerhouse Overlooking London’s Skyline

Chef Patron is Chris Galvin. Along with his brother Jeff, they’ve dominated the London restaurant scene for years with their Michelin-starred cooking skills at restaurants like Galvin La Chapelle. They famously opened the Wolseley restaurant in 2003 and Chris had already earned his first Michelin star at the Orrery back in the year 2000.

At Galvin at Windows, he has appointed talented Marc Hardiman as head chef. Marc had perfected his skills at the Ritz as Senior Sous Chef. Interestingly, Chris had worked as a commis chef at the Ritz back in the day.

With such power-packed CVs, you wouldn’t be surprised to find the food at Galvin at Windows is remarkably polished. Service is attentive yet discreet from the moment you step into the restaurant.

Indulge in a Luxurious Sunday Lunch Experience at Galvin at Windows

A great way to experience their menu is to try their Sunday lunch menu. For the quality of food and service and the views on offer, it is very reasonably priced at £59 per person for 3 courses. It is available from 12 pm to 3 pm every Sunday lunch.

Furthermore, they are dishes you readily pay a premium for, as the ingenious combination of ingredients is unlikely to be recreated at home. Think locally sourced Halibut paired with St Austell Museels, yuzu kosho, nori, Champagne and rose. It is rightfully decadent as you would expect dining at a rooftop restaurant in the heart of Park Lane.

Savor Exquisite Flavors: Must-Try Dishes at Galvin at Windows

Dishes I would recommend trying include a beautifully sweet heritage tomato salad. It has a beautiful zestiness due to the addition of ponzu dressing and has some weighty substance with the presence of moreish goats curd.

Their beef carpaccio was a delightful surprise. It had a real depth of flavour due to the fact it has been dry aged and they used the finest quality black Angus. It was very cleverly paired with artichokes, mustard seeds and a smoked egg yolk for added complexity.

Enhanced flavours were also the order of the day with the main courses. Cornish Brill had an extra umami kick with the inclusion of Porthilly oysters and coastal herbs. The extra ingredients are always given careful consideration on how they can enhance and support the main act.

Innovative Creations and Spectacular Views at Galvin at Windows

They had a very healthy take on the classic lasagne. The ‘lasagne’ sheets were made with celeriac whilst the filling was stuffed with meaty confit king oyster mushrooms. There was a hint of truffle used, but it was never overpowering. This is very much unlike less celebrated restaurants, which often use truffles to compensate for a lack of flavour in their dishes.

The highlight of their not-to-be-missed dessert section is the blackcurrant soufflé. Blackcurrants are incredibly underrepresented in fine dining menus. They have high levels of Vitamin C and antioxidants. The soufflé rose to just the right height and it had the perfect smooth consistency inside. It was paired with a delectable cheesecake ice cream and topped with crème de cassis to add to the blackcurrant notes.

Pairing the right ingredients to enhance the flavours is also evident in most of the other desserts on the menu. Case in point is the exquisitely executed white chocolate and blackberry crème brûlée. They’ve included a blackberry sorbet, so the tart and sweet notes come through even stronger. The texture was silky smooth along with the requisite crunchy topping. The dessert was finished off with a muscovado sugar shortbread.

When booking your table, check which side of the restaurant you might be sitting on. For example, when we visited for Sunday lunch recently, it was particularly glaring on the Hyde Park side. I would recommend booking for the Oxford Street side of the restaurant for Sunday lunch. You will still enjoy spectacular views of the London topography.

If you want a great recommendation for an apéritif or digestif, do check out their neighbouring bar, 10 Degrees Sky Bar. They offer some highly innovative cocktails and you can still admire the stunning views from the 28th floor.

For more information on the restaurant, please visit –

https://www.galvinatwindows.com/

The furnishings have a mixture of vibrant greens, blues, and gold that transports you to the Jazz Age era. For those seeking a quintessentially British experience, indulge in High Tea at The Landmark London amidst this elegant setting. The grande dame of luxury 5-star hotels in London, The Landmark, has recently undergone a major £1.3m refurbishment. Part of that project is to launch a brand-new luxury Champagne Bar, nestled on a mezzanine level on their famous garden terrace. The vision of tropical palm trees and the eight-storey-high glass atrium recalls a bygone era of glamour and high society. The Champagne bar, designed by Alex Kravetz Design, is created to blend in with the luxurious surroundings, with the main bar hidden under a foliage-laden glasshouse.

High Tea at The Landmark London

Savor the Sea: High Seas High Tea at The Landmark London

Accentuating that imagery is their High Seas High Tea offering. The hotel offers a traditional afternoon tea at their famous Winter Garden Restaurant but at the Champagne Bar, it is very much seafood-focused. It is available every Saturday and Sunday between 1:00 pm and 5:00 pm. You will also hear the melodic piano sounds emanating from the Victorian Winter Garden atrium. They use the term ‘sandwiches’ but what is served up at the beginning is more tartlets of umami delights from the sea. They offer a tartlet of Scottish lobster, a tartlet of poached langoustine, salmon pastrami, Cornish white crab and yellowfin tuna. Focusing on local produce, the freshness of the seafood is top-notch. The salmon and tuna exuded healthy omega-3 fattiness, whilst the shellfish had a gentle sweetness when you bite into the firm, fresh meat. Each creation has been carefully crafted to maximise the flavours of the seafood. For example, the yellowfin tuna is served with ponzu, black sesame, toasted rye, and fennel butter. The citrus notes from the ponzu are a match made in heaven with the enticing tuna.

Indulge in Exquisite Delights: High Tea at The Landmark London

The fruity flavours were very much in evidence with their scones and desserts. The scones were either freshly baked apple or raisin scones. All the condiments you would ever need were present from clotted cream to a plethora of jams. The options included Bergeron apricot, London marmalade, strawberry, rhubarb, redcurrant & vanilla and raspberry deluxe. Each scone was generously sized and I have no doubt, they would offer you a refill if you asked.

The desserts were exquisitely presented with a parade of appetising colours. If you are looking for something subtle and delicate, there is the tartlet of nectarine, ginger, mascarpone and raspberry gel. The nectarines were sliced with military precision and presented in an intricate rose shape. If you are looking for textural variety, there is the black cherry and pistachio bakewell. The key is all the creations were sweet without being overbearing. And they do offer boxes for you to take away anything you can’t finish. They only use the finest of ingredients from Valrhona dark chocolate in their choux to English strawberries in their Swiss rolls.

Elevate Your Tea Experience: Tea Selections and Evening Delights at The Landmark London

The tea offering also shines brightly in this regal afternoon tea experience. They have green teas, herbal teas, oolong tea and white tea. That includes very high-end options such as Snow Buds white tea. which is high-altitude-grown white tea made entirely of silver-haired tea buds. That creates an elegant, sweet-flavour profile with delicate vegetal notes.

The afternoon tea is available at £75pp or £88pp with a glass of Ruinart Champagne Brut.

If you visit in the evenings, they do still offer seafood-focused small plates, as well as heritage tomato tart and British cheese plates. They also serve a caviar selection that ranges from platinum caviar to the rare, golden osetra. They have a lengthy Champagne selection that includes on the top end, Krug, Grande Cuvée MV. They can offer a Taittinger Champagne flight, which is 100ml per glass which is great if you want to pair your glass of bubbly with your seafood.

If you want to impress friends or family with a special treat, do consider inviting them to a High Seas High Tea at The Landmark London.

To find out more about the afternoon tea, please visit

https://www.landmarklondon.co.uk/dining/champagne-bar/

Luster dust, a versatile and eye-catching edible powder, has taken the sugarcraft world by storm. With its shimmering, iridescent finish, luster dust can transform ordinary cake toppers and sugarcraft decorations into stunning works of art. Baking with bakell luster dust is one of the newest and most popular trends in cake decorating, and it’s no wonder why. With its rainbow-like hues, luster dust can add a subtle yet stunning sparkle to any cake creation.

Usage Tips and Techniques for Luster Dust in Sugarcraft

There are many ways to use luster dust in sugarcraft, but here are a few tips and tricks that will help you get the most out of your sparkly powder.

  1. Creating Glistening Cake Toppers: To create shimmering cake toppers, start by dusting your finished sugarcraft piece with a light layer of luster dust using a soft, fine-bristled brush. For a more intense effect, mix the luster dust with a few drops of clear alcohol (such as vodka) or lemon extract to create a paint-like consistency, then apply with a brush.
  2. Adding Shimmer to Fondant Accents: Apply a thin layer of luster dust to fondant accents, such as bows or ribbons, using a dry brush. This technique adds a touch of sparkle and elegance to your sugarcraft decorations.
  3. Creating Metallic Sugarcraft Flowers: To achieve a stunning metallic finish on sugarcraft flowers, mix the luster dust with clear alcohol or lemon extract and paint the mixture onto your petals using a fine brush. Allow the flowers to dry completely before assembling them on your cake.

Importance of Safe Handling and Storage for Luster Dust

Always use luster dust in a well-ventilated area. As mentioned earlier, mixing luster dust with alcohol or lemon extract will create a paint-like consistency that can be hazardous to your health if inhaled. Additionally, luster dust should always be stored in an airtight container away from heat and direct sunlight.

Some of the most popular colors of luster dust are gold, silver, pearl white, and red. With these versatile shades, you can create stunning accents and decorations that will take your cake designs to the next level. Whether you’re looking for a subtle sparkle or an intense shimmer, baking with luster dust is sure to add a dazzling touch to all your sugarcraft creations.

Out of the Box Ideas for Luster Dust Decorations

Luster dust can be used to create stunning decorations for cakes and cupcakes. Try using luster dust to add a sparkling touch to fondant figures, sugar paste flowers, or royal icing lace. You can also use it to make edible glitter accents on cookies or other baked goods. Finally, why not try your hand at creating a luster dust cake? To do this, start by baking an all-white cake and then dust the top with a fine layer of luster dust. This will create a dazzling effect that is sure to wow your guests!

With its versatile uses and eye-catching finish, it’s easy to see why luster dust has become such a popular trend in the sugarcraft world. With just a few simple tips and techniques, you, too, can create beautiful cake decorations that will captivate your readers. So go ahead – unleash your creativity and start baking with luster dust today.

In Conclusion

Cakes and cupcakes are a special treat that deserves to be decorated with the finest ingredients. With its shimmering, iridescent finish, luster dust is the perfect way to add sparkle and elegance to any cake decoration or sugarcraft creation. From creating glistening cake toppers to marbling techniques and out-of-the-box ideas, there are countless ways to use luster dust in your sugarcraft.

Wright Brothers are synonymous with seafood, what these guys don’t know isn’t worth knowing so when I was invited to a behind-the-scenes peek at their Billingsgate market operation and an opportunity to chat to founders Ben and Robin, I jumped at the chance.

Ben and Robin started Wright Brothers 20 years ago with a passion to spread their love of oysters and seafood. From 2002 to 2022, the business has grown quickly, and they are now the leading seafood supplier in the UK. Starting with wholesale then restaurants and oyster farming, they have devoted the past two decades building a recognised and reliable brand. Alongside their three London restaurants, they supply over 500 restaurants around the UK including Michelin starred chefs.

The set up at Billingsgate is run with military precision. After the catch arrives at midnight, straight off the boats at Brixham, the team are tasked with prepping, packing and getting it out the door all by 6am. During this period they can process up to £100,00 worth of seafood. Their clients include Gordan Ramsey, The Ivy, J Sheekey and Fortnum and Mason. Ben explains that all the fish is cut to suit the customer. Head of Production, Joe Palmer is a fish slicing ninja, responsible for making sure there’s no waste and the fish is accurately cut. There’s also a ‘watchlist’ to ensure everything that leaves the market is of the highest quality. When it comes to sourcing and sustainability, they are constantly reviewing their policy and procedures. The coastal team works with smaller boats that use the most sustainable catch methods, these include pot-caught crab and line-caught wild sea bass and for every lobster sold they donate to the National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow.

Naturally they supply their own restaurants so after a couple of hours in Billingsgate we catch a boat down the Thames to the Battersea restaurant. On the boat Robin explains how they had to switch things up during covid and while restaurants were closed they got creative and started going direct to consumers with bespoke fish boxes that are delivered straight to the customers door. It quickly caught on and this side of the business has continued to grow. The brothers (in-law) are always innovating and have recently collaborated with Japanese chef, Yuki Gomi to create a Let’s Roll Sushi kit, which includes all the essentials required to make high quality sushi at home.

Both Ben and Robin are keen to smash the myth that fish is tricky to cook or must be part of an elaborate dish. They want to take the fear out of cooking seafood, Robin tells me that ‘simplicity is key’ and their website is a great source of inspiration and recipes.

At the restaurant the team bring over a selection of oysters to try. I’m slightly indifferent when it comes to oysters, I don’t dislike them but I’m not a big fan, I don’t get the hype. For some reason they always make me feel like I am slurping the sea. Ben encourages me to try the Ostra Regal explaining they are best served with a squeeze of lemon and that throwing it back isn’t the way to do it, instead he recommends chewing it a couple of times. He’s right, it completely changes the taste of this divisive aphrodisiac. The waiter brings across one of the best Bloody Mary’s I’ve tasted and when he proffers another rock I don’t shy away. If shucking oysters isn’t your thing then the extensive menu at Wright Bros serves a combination of seafood staples like fish pie as well as share plates and simple pan-seared fish. They also have a cracking breakfast menu that includes a fabulous Lobster Benedict.

A visit to a Wright Bros restaurant is a must for seafood lovers, their combined knowledge, passion and 20 years’ experience is what makes them the top of their game.

To book a table at one of their restaurants or for more information on their Let’s Roll Sushi Kit visit thewrightbrothers.co.uk

Serves 6

I’ve recently returned from an incredible House of Coco trip to South Africa where my favorite drink played a key part in the proceedings. Amarula spiked coffees on morning game drives, over ice while I sank into my roll-top tub, via miniatures on the plane home. It only seemed right that I share a recipe using sweet nectar – A Taste of South Africa.

A taste of South Africa

My Love Affair with Amarula

Amarula has a very special place in my heart. For those who are not acquainted with this delicious, creamy liqueur – it is sort of like Baileys, but not really as it’s about one million times better. It is made from the fruit of the Marula tree – often called the elephant tree as the Heffalumps have a particular love of this fruit and are often found stumbling around when they’ve eaten too much of the fermented fruit. I have witnessed first-hand a drunk elephant – it’s fantastic.

At the tender age of 17, I made my first trip to the land of braiis and buckees, my school were so fed up with me that they told me I could only return to do my A levels if I spent my summer volunteering at an orphanage to get some perspective and sort my appalling attitude out. It worked. It was the best thing that ever came out of being a vile teenager because without that wake-up call I may never have fallen head over heels in love with Africa, resulting in many further trips and a desire to move there but more importantly, I fear without that trip, I would have followed a downward spiral into entitled spoilt brat and never really grasped what happens outside of our privileged world.

A Liqueur of Memories and Meaning

I digress, back to the booze. It was on this trip that I discovered this drink. Not in a ‘lads on tour, underage drinking’ way but at the end of our trip we were taken out for a farewell meal and our host insisted we all try the drink and raise a toast – shouting ‘Amaroooooooooooola’ as we clinked our glasses. My alcohol taste preferences before this were strictly Smirnoff Ice and WKD Blue so you can imagine how classy I felt being offered this exotic liqueur… in an actual glass… with ice. Not only did the drink taste delicious but it signified something so special – a bond forged with a group of people who had just spent two months doing something important, connecting with kids who had no one else in the world. We witnessed death, abandonment, and sickness but we also witnessed kids finding forever homes, and overcoming disease and despite everything they had been through – the most unthinkable of scenarios – they continued to smile and act with grace and positivity. I learnt more about humanity on that trip than I could ever imagine. And so, I always have a bottle of Amarula in stock because just seeing the bottle reminds me of both the happiest and saddest of times and reminds me to take a reality check every once in a while.

To create a recipe that showcases this tipple makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I have played around with the measurements so the hit of booze is balanced perfectly with the creaminess – not too harsh but not washed away either. It’s a very simple recipe to make, perfect for dinner parties, as it needs to be made in advance but can then be forgotten about. My mission in life is to ensure everyone I have met has tried this drink, be it in liquid or solid form, so I truly hope you give it a whirl and love it as much as I do. Extra points if you shout ‘Amarooooooooooooola’ at some point during the cooking/eating process.

Check out our recent article on House of Coco where we explore why we’ve fallen for this South African rose. Read more here to discover the captivating story behind it.

What you need :

  • 4 gelatine leaves
  • 300ml of full fat milk
  • 20g caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 150ml Amarula
  • Gold candy to decorate (optional)

How you do it :

  • Bloom the gelatine sheets in cold water for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile pour the milk, cream and sugar into a saucepan and bring to just scolding – the surface should begin to pucker and steam will rise from the top. Stir occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.
  • Take off the heat and stir in the Amarula.
  • Remove the gelatine from the water and wring out all excess water, whisk into the panna cotta mix.
  • Pour the mix into a pudding mould and pop it into the fridge to set for at least 6 hours.
  • When ready to serve, turn the pudding moulds onto plates and warm them with a cook blow
  • torch to release the pannacotta. Alternatively, sit the moulds in a bowl of hot water for a few minutes.
  • Decorate with gold glitz or any other boujee decorations you see fit.

The best Greek snacks include delightful treats like crispy spanakopita, savoury cheese-filled tiropita, and sweet loukoumades drizzled with honey. These best Greek snacks capture the essence of Mediterranean flavours and are perfect for any time of the day.

Greek crackerbreads, kalamata tapenade & tzatziki

Serves 2

Following a whirlwind trip around Greece learning all things Greek food, I thought it only fair to share some recipes to transport you straight to a Greek Taverna. You know that time of day, pre-dinner when the sun is setting, you have had a great day poolside sipping cocktails, been back to your room, put on your best “I just rolled off the beach looking like this but it actually took me an hour to get right” floaty frock, and now as you muse over what to eat for dinner, you’re ready for a cold glass of white wine and the snack to end all snacks.

Greek crackerbreads.

What you need :

  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsps of fresh oregano or marjoram
  • Freshly ground black pepper – lots.
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp EV olive oil
  • 125 ml cold water

How you do it :

  • Preheat the oven to 230c
  • Put all dry ingredients and olive oil into a food processor and pulse until combined.
  • Add in the cold water and blitz until everything sticks together. Turn out onto a surface and bring together in a ball with your hands. If the mix is feeling a little dry, wet your hands to add more water. Keep repeating this rather than pour more water into the mix as you will have more control over the dough.
  • Once in a ball, wrap in cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for 30 mins.
  • When it is time to roll, flour a surface, remove the dough from the fridge and cut into four portions.
  • Roll each piece of dough out as thin as possible. There is no strict rule to shape here, just the size of your baking sheet will do as you are going to break the crackers into shards. Keep flouring. You should be able to see your fingers through it if you hold the dough up to the light. If you wanted to be super fancy, you could do this step in a pasta machine.
  • Once rolled out, place on a lined baking sheet and put into the hot oven for 4 minutes, flip the cracker and bake for another 4 minutes.
  • Whilst the cracker is in the oven, watch it like a hawk as they can catch.
  • Once it is golden brown, turn the oven off but leave the cracker in the oven for an hour so it dries out completely and is super crispy. If you have a particularly ferocious oven, leave the door ajar for the last hour. When they are done, break into shards. They will keep in an airtight container for a couple of days.

Kalamata Tapenade.

What you need :

  • 200g kalamata olives
  • 3 tbsp capers
  • 2 anchovies chopped (you can omit this if you are veggie)
  • 1 fat clove of garlic crushed
  • 2 tbsp fresh thyme leaves
  • 5 tbsp EV Olive oil
  • ½ lemon juiced

How you do it:

  • I make my tapenade in a nutribullet. Not sure this is the authentic way but it is certainly the easiest. You can use a pestle and mortar if you want the real deal.
  • Now read carefully because this is a complicated one…
  • Destone your olives. I urge you to buy your olives whole and destone at home as the flavour is unparalleled. Kalamata olives are so soft that all you need to do is put them on a chopping board and roll your palm over them and the stones will pop out.
  • Put your olives, capers, anchovies, garlic and thyme in your processor and blitz. You want to keep texture here – it shouldn’t be smooth.
  • Muddle in the olive oil and lemon, stir, taste, and pepper if needed.
  • That is it and it is GLORIOUS!

Tzatziki.

What you need :

  • 500g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 cucumber
  • 2 x garlic cloves – crushed / minced/grated
  • Splash of white wine vinegar
  • Big glug of EV olive oil
  • Big pinch of sea salt

How you do it :

  • Put the yoghurt, garlic, vinegar, oil and salt in a large bowl. Stir to make sure everything is well mixed, cover and leave in the fridge overnight.
  • For the cucumber, use a peeler to take off alternate strips of peel down the length of the cucumber so you are left with a stripey number. Slice him in half lengthways scoop out the seeds with a teaspoon and discard.
  • Grate the cucumber flesh into a muslin and squeeze with all your might to get the moisture out.
  • Set a sieve over a bowl, put the cucumber-filled muslin in the sieve and leave it in the fridge overnight.
  • The overnight stage is not completely necessary, you could of course leave it for as long as you have or indeed, mix everything together immediately but as with most things, the longer you leave it, the more the flavours will develop and it really does level this dish up.
  • Next day, combine your grated cucumber and yoghurt mix, taste and season if needed.
  • Discard the cucumber water that has collected OR, top tip – it is delicious thrown into a Hendricks and Tonic. Just saying.

Tacos, tacos, tacos. One of my favorite foods, especially when they’re Coconut prawn tacos with mango salsa, is pure joy on a plate. I genuinely believe they make the world a better place. Traditionally a street food of humble origins, the official rule is, that you should not put your taco down once you have taken your first bite, expect to get messy!

What do you need?

For the tacos

Traditionally you would use Masa flour to make your taco shells and if you can find it (available online & at specialist stores) I would defo urge you to do so as it really adds to the authenticity of the dish and the flavour is unparalleled. If you do use it, follow the recipe below but leave out the oil and baking powder. When it comes to press (roll) the shells, the masa makes them a lot more delicate so just be careful when working with it.

  • 225g plain flour
  • ½ tsp fine salt
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • 40ml corn oil
  • 125ml warm water
  • Greaseproof paper

For the salsa

  • 1 mango
  • ½ red pepper
  • 1 fresh jalapeno – just use as much as you like heat-wise. I go the whole hog but no judgement if you can’t take it… much.
  • 1 lime
  • Bunch of fresh coriander

For the prawns

  • 9 raw king prawns
  • 30g desiccated coconut
  • 30g panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 egg
  • 1l corn oil for frying
  • 125g plain flour
  • 1tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp fine salt
  • 150ml ice water

To serve

  • Fresh lime wedges
  • Coriander leaves
  • Hot sauce such as Cholula

How you do it :

  1. First up – to make the tortilla dough you can use a stand mixer with a dough hook or skip arm day on your virtual HIIT class and do it by hand. Put your flour, salt & baking powder in the bowl of your stand mixer (or large bowl) and create a small well in the middle. Pour your oil and then slowly start to add in your warm water. Do this gradually so you can assess how the dough is coming, adding more water or flour if needed. Once everything is combined let the dough hook (or your arms) do the thing until the dough is smooth and elastic – 3 to 4 minutes with a machine, 7 to 10 without. If using Masa flour then you do not need to knead for as long, just a minute will do the trick.
  2. Portion out the dough by making golf ball size balls.
  3. Cut your greaseproof paper into squares, 2 squares per ball, each square about 15cm wide.
  4. Place a ball of dough in between 2 sheets of your squares of paper, and lightly press down with your fingers to give him a little squidge. Either using a taco press or a rolling pin, roll your balls into discs about 12-15cm in diameter.
  5. Keeping the tacos in the greaseproof sheets (this is important so they don’t stick together), stack them and place to the side till ready to cook.
  6. Salsa time – dice your mango, red pepper & jalapeno as small as possible. Pick your coriander leaves. Put it all into a bowl, with the salt & lime juice. Combine & taste, adjusting if needed – put to the side.
  7. Put your corn oil in a pan and bring to 180. (If you have a deep fryer, even better) – we all know the drill here, make sure there is a good couple of inches of clearance between the surface of the oil and the top of the pan. Do not leave it unattended. Clear the kids out etc.
  8. Whilst your oil is coming up to temp, combine your panko & coconut in a shallow bowl and mix well.
  9. In another bowl sift your flour, baking powder & salt. Make a well in the centre and crack in your egg, using a fork bring in your flour to combine.
  10. Whisk in your cold water.
  11. Working quickly (you want to keep that batter as cool as possible) dip your prawns in the wet batter and then dredge in the panko, coconut mix.
  12. Carefully lower your coated prawns into the hot oil and fry for 2 minutes.
  13. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
  14. Whilst the prawns are cooling down get on with your tacos.
  15. Heat a frying pan over medium heat, you cook these dry so no oil is needed.
  16. Carefully remove the greaseproof paper and pop your taco into the pan. If using masa flour, be careful, they are very delicate. I find it easiest to remove one piece of paper, flip it into the pan and then when the heat ‘grabs’ the taco you can carefully peel off the other sheet.
  17. When the tacos start to puff and brown on the bottom, carefully flip and cook the other side. Repeat till all tacos are cooked.
  18. To plate, spoon the mango salsa on the taco & top with 3 prawns.
  19. Serve with fresh coriander leaves,  lime wedges & lashings of hot sauce.