Monday, 23 March 2015

New website, new recipes, new stories...

I've decided to move my recipes and blog posts to my redesigned main website

It's simply become too much work maintaining two different sites, and I wanted to make my recipes more accessible and easier to search, as well as linking my food to my travel adventures. So please do visit my site, and I hope you enjoy my new travel blog as well as being able to explore and download recipes more easily.

All the best!

Sunday, 11 January 2015

NEW RECIPE: Something sweet & simple...

Coconut & berry flapjacks

Had a serious craving for something sweet this week, so after a quick rummage in the cupboards and freezer, I made these little beauties. Super easy recipe, absolutely delicious and almost healthy!

150g desiccated coconut, toasted
225g unsalted butter or vegan margarine block
290g agave syrup (or use a mix of honey and brown sugar)
465g jumbo porridge oats
300g mixed berries (I used a mix of frozen raspberries, blueberries, blackberries & blackcurrants)
3 tsp natural or soya yoghurt
8 tbsp icing sugar

20x30cm baking tray (3cm deep)

1. Heat the oven to 165C, and grease and line the baking tray.
2. Toast the coconut in the oven for 10 mins, until golden brown.
3. Mash the berries into a rough pulp & set aside
4. Melt the butter/margarine in a pan with the agave syrup, and then add the oats and coconut. Mix well.
5. Add half the oat mixture to the tray, pressing in firmly. Then layer the berries over the top. Add the rest of the oat mixture, carefully covering the berry mixture. Use back of spoon to press the mix down firmly and into all the edges.
6. Bake the flapjacks in the oven for 25 mins, then cover with foil and continue to bake for another 20-30 mins until it is cooked through. Leave to cool.
7. Mix the yoghurt and icing sugar together. Once the flapjack is cooled, drizzle over the top.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

NEW RECIPE!! Rhubarb & Ginger Nut Ice-Cream

Ice-cream. Not my usual recipe post I know, but I've been hanging out with Gingers' Comfort Emporium over the last year or two, and obviously Miss Kelsey's ice cream genius has been rubbing off on me!  If you've not seen her book Melt, you're missing a trick there.

I'm a super fan of rhubarb. It's easy to grow, it's so very northern and I do love a bit of tanginess in my puddings.  So here it is, rhubarb and ginger nut ice cream. Using Claire's no churn technique, and you can cheat by using ginger nuts from a packet, but you won't get the full hit of ginger that you get from making your own.


To make the rhubarb compote:
500g rhubarb
3-4 tbsp caster sugar
1-2 tsp cinnamon powder

To make the ginger nuts:
340g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2-3 heaped teaspoons ginger powder
40g stem ginger, chopped (optional)
100g butter
160g brown sugar
1 large free range egg
4 tbsp golden syrup

To make the rest:
2 large egg whites
75g icing sugar
350ml double cream


  1. To prepare the rhubarb, trim the ends, wash throughly and cut into1" pieces. Scatter on baking tray and place in a low oven, about 120C, for 10-15 mins. You want the rhubarb to be just soft and not too mushy. 
  2. When the fruit is softened, tip into a bowl and gently mix together with the caster sugar and cinnamon powder. Taste the mixture and add more sugar if required. There should be a good balance between sour and sweet. Set aside to cool completely.
  3. To make the ginger nut biscuits, heat the oven to 180C, then grease and line two large baking trays.
  4. Add the flour, bicarb, ginger powder and butter to a large bowl. Rub together to make a breadcrumb like texture. Then add the sugar, stem ginger (if using), egg and syrup. Mix well to form a soft dough. Wrap in cling film and chill the dough for 30 minutes in the fridge.
  5. Roll out the dough on a well floured surface, and cut out rounds using a cookie cutter. Lay onto the baking trays, then bake for 10-15 minutes. This mixture will make about 35 biscuits, but you only need about half of them for your ice cream. Once they are fully cooled, break up about 18 biscuits into pieces. Try to ensure the chunks are about 1-2cm in size, with none too small or large.
  6. Next, whisk the egg whites in a clean dry bowl, to make firm peaks (meringue), than add the icing sugar and whisk until the meringue mixture is thick and glossy.
  7. In another bowl, whip the double cream until just whipped into soft peaks (be careful not to over whip). Then fold in the meringue, then the rhubarb compote, and finally the ginger nut pieces. Tip into a large tub and freeze overnight. Prior to serving, leave in the fridge for 5-10 minutes to soften.

Monday, 17 November 2014

NEW RECIPE: Eton on a messy gap year!

Here's a little twist on an old favourite. I was just going through some old recipes from this time last year, and this was a seasonal crowd pleaser. This makes a lovely fusion dessert for an Asian inspired dinner.

I had some leftover ingredients, and knocked this up one quiet afternoon. Credit goes to Max, my old chef, who came up with the name. Super easy to prepare in advance, but don't construct until just before serving or you'll end up with soggy meringue.

Eton on a messy gap year

4 free range egg whites
115g icing sugar, sieved
115g caster sugar
120g pistachio nuts, toasted & roughly chopped
500g plums
1 tsp cinnamon powder
60-80g brown sugar (to taste)
4 or 5 green cardamom pods, crushed & seeds well bruised
250ml double cream

1. Heat the over to 90 C, and line a large tray with a non stick liner. Foil and baking paper tends to stick, so baking parchment or liners work better.
2. To make the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a large bowl (not plastic) until they form light fluffy peaks, then add the caster sugar, whisking as you go. The mixture should become glossy and thick.
3. Sieve the icing sugar in to the bowl, a little at a time, gently folding or whisking in the mixture, until it's thick and well mixed. be careful not to overmix or you will knock out the air.
4. Blend half the pistachios to make a smooth paste and then fold into the mixture. Then scoop the mixture onto the tray to make several rough rounds of meringue. Place in the oven and bake for 2 1/2 hours. Once cooked, leave to cool fully, then break into large pieces. The pistachio meringue will keep for several weeks in an airtight container.
5. In a small frying pan, gently toast the cardamom pods and then mix well into the cream. Gently heat the cream in a small pan, but don't boil. Leave to steep and fully cool. Then pour through a fine sieve. Lightly whip the cooled cream.
6. To make the plum compote, remove the stones from the plums, and cut into quarters. Place the fruit into a pan with brown sugar, cinnamon powder and 30ml water.
7. Bring to boil and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes until fruit is softened and starting to break down. You still want to have chunks of soft fruit, so avoid over-cooking.
8. When ready to serve, take a tall glass and add a few pieces of meringue, then add layers of plum compote, cardamom cream and meringue, until glass is filled. Top with cream and some of the remaining pistachio nuts. Serve immediately.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Hungry Gecko Shop is open!

I've been so busy, it's been a tricky few months juggling dining pop ups with events, and launching my online shop. I'm hoping to launch the pad Thai sauce very soon. But for now, you can buy my delicious shashlik paste in my new online shop or check out the local suppliers.

My Indian shashlik paste is an authentic marinade for paneer, vegetables, meat and fish. Each product is hand made by me, from toasting the authetic spices and roasting fresh ingredients, to blendingand testing to ensure the highest quality product.  The perfect marinade for BBQs, grilling and roasting. The paste can also be used to amke a delicious spicy curry and fried Indian snacks.

This product is 100% vegan and gluten free.

Sunday, 31 August 2014

MORE courgettes!!!

They just don't stop coming do they? I've got three grow sacks with courgette plants in my garden. I must admit, my seeds went in a little late (I had to to do a second sowing after the mice ate the first ones). So I've still got courgette flowers as well as lots of courgettes of varying sizes. Then my brother-in-law sent me some super-sized ones (basically their neighbour gave them some plants, and they just forgot about them!) so I guess they're marrows. 

The last time I was this swamped in courgettes, I posted a blog of some of my favourite courgette recipes. I think it's time to add to this list.

Courgette & spilt channa dal

Since the shift in the weather and feeling a bit chillier, I needed to eat something warming. I made a big batch of this at the start of the week, so it's fed us well on several occasions. The dish is only gently spiced, and has more of a fragrant cumin hit than chilli, so very child friendly dish. Serve with a soft flat bread such as chapati or roti, or steamed basmati rice. I had a dollop of hot pickle on the side with mine too.

2 cups of split channa dal (soak in cold water for one hour prior)
3 courgettes, chopped 1" pieces
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp black cumin seeds
couple of pinches of asafoetida
2 fresh or dried large red chillies, finely chopped
2 onions finely chopped
3 tsp of sambhar masala powder (use garam masala as alternative)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
handful of fresh coriander
pomace oil
3 pts water

1. Put half of the prepped onion into a heavy bottomed pan with a little oil. Saute until softened, then add courgettes, turmeric, salt and drained channa. Cover with water and bring to boil. Simmer for 1-2 hours until channa is soft (but not mushy and falling apart). Add more water as dal cooks to maintain a soup like consistency.
2. In a small pan, add oil with cumin and asafoetida. Fry until seeds splutter, then add fresh or dried chillies, diced onions, tomatoes and sambhar masala powder, and cook until onions and tomatoes and completely soft, and oil has separated.
3. Pour tempering mixture over the cooked dal and stir well. Serve scattered with fresh coriander.

Bean & courgette soup

A little variation on a French pistou soup.

2 large courgettes, chopped, bite size pieces
1 med onion, finely chopped
250g green beans, fine sliced
1 tin of haricot beans, washed and drained
1 tin of black eye beans, washed and drained
3 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh basil
3 medium tomatoes
salt & black pepper
1 tbsp parmesan cheese (or similar) grated
olive oil
2 pts water

1. Gently soften the onion in 1-2 tbsp of olive oil. Add the green beans, haricot, black eye and courgette and then cover with water and bring to simmer, for about 15 minutes.
2. Put the rest of the ingredients in a blender, and add about 1-2 tbsp olive oil to make the pistou.
3. Just before serving, pour the pistou into the soup and stir well. Serve with a few fresh basil leaves and grated parmesan on the top.

Courgette & feta frittata
This is one of my favourite frittata combinations. A protein packed meal for a vegetarian, which I like to eat with a big tomato salad. And makes a great alternative to sandwiches for a packed lunch, as it will keep for a few days in the fridge.

150g new potatoes, quartered & boil until tender
1 red onion, fine sliced
80g feta cheese
2 courgettes, fine sliced
1-2 tbsp olive oil
large sprig of fresh thyme
salt & white pepper
6 free range eggs

1. Saute the onions in the olive oil until they start to soften, then add the sliced courgettes and the thyme leaves, and cook for three minutes. Add the cooked potato quarters and season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.
2. Beat four of the eggs together. Separate the whites of two eggs and set aside. Beat the remaining four eggs with the egg yolks from the other two. Then whip the egg whites until fluffy and meringue like, and gently fold into the main egg mixture. This is what will  make your frittata light and airy.
3. Crumble the feta over the vegetables, then pour over the egg mixture and cook on a very low heat about six to eight minutes. Then place pan under grill and cook until eggs are fully set.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

A Trip to Nanban

I don't get to eat out much when I'm working in the kitchen. But having hankered to taste some of Tim Anderson's Japanese soul food since our filming days together during MasterChef 2011 (usually limited to sneaky tastings when production staff weren't looking), I made the determined decision to go to his current pop up while working down in London this last week. Nanban, Tim's Japanese soul food, currently has a residency at Market House Brixton during August.

It was definitely one of my better eating out decisions. The food was incredible, and for my part as a vegetarian, I was sincerely wowed by the reimen dish, a Korean influenced chilled noodle soup with yuzu, chilli and a tea pickled egg. Where so much restaurant vegetarian food feels like an after thought (and indeed if any thought has been taken), the yuzu-chilli reimen stands out as one of the best vegetarian dishes I've ever enjoyed. Zingy, punchy and refreshing, with the kind of depth of flavour that demonstrates a chef who understands umami in food. Thanks Tim. It was truly a joy!

Joined by Mat Follas and Zam, our bus sous chef, as well as a couple of dear friends who live nearby, we ordered everything on the menu. 

We all wolfed down the lotus root crisps before Mat arrived, so we showed him a photo, which seemed to make him more cross ;) The bacon wrapped peppers (kushiyaki) vanished almost as soon as they hit the table so I had to get a photo from Tim's Pinterest page. I snaffled the shitake mushroom ones before I got a picture. 

The chicken kaarage was clearly addictive, as Tim kept sending more boxes that were very quickly emptied. The butter shoyu sweetcorn was so perfectly cooked and flavoured, I even braved stealing some more from one of Mat's plates after finishing mine! The enormous bowls of ramen broths and sticky udon noodles were beautifully constructed, punchy and deep, and the others voted the yuzu-chilli reimen and the kumamoto ramen (with pork belly) as their favourites. Although Donna then changed her mind when she found she couldn't stop eating the kaarage despite being full.

Tim brought over some of his new Nanban craft beer and ice cream for us to try. I'm hoping his beer might join us at the IMBC dinner in October. The Whippysan ice-cream was delightful, and we all agreed that a big mouthful of the chilli chocolate whippysan was perfected by following it with a big spoonful of the peach flavour.

You really should go folks, while you have the chance. The food is simply very very good!