Apple Pie Porridge

Saturday, 24 September 2016


I start to smell Autumn before I start to feel it. I long for the turn of the season since mid August, wishing away the warm weather in favour of cooler, crisper mornings and darker, cosier evenings.

I find it quite frustrating if, on the 1st of September, the pavements aren't scattered with dry, orange leaves and the weather isn't that irresistible combination of blindingly bright and lung-stingingly crisp. Come September 1st, I was frustrated with the Indian Summer that had lingered on. No sign of Autumn yet. Thankfully I had one sense I could rely on to bring me Autumn, no matter how much the sun shone.

I start to smell Autumn before I start to feel it. 

If I catch a lungful of woodsmoke on my way home from work, or am engulfed by the sweet scent of cinnamon lattes as I walk past a coffee shop, my mind, no matter the weather, starts to dream about thick socks and wood-burners and conkers and stew. It starts to plan winter hibernation, fantasise about making pots of pickle and jam and even think about Christmas presents. And that's it - Autumn has arrived for me. The weather follows, eventually, but I've already got the feeling. All thanks to inhaling great lungfuls of any of the the following: 

Woodsmoke 
Stewing apples scrumped from a hedgerow
Cinnamon (in any form, latte, Yankee candle, snapped sticks) 
Roasting squash
Early morning chill (I know this isn't technically a smell, but is there anything sweeter than crisp air sharp in the lungs on an early September morning?)

I try to inhale all of these scents in like liquid, like a soup or tea that's able to nourish my soul thoroughly dried out by summertime. 

In part, this porridge is a tribute to those deliciously autumnal scents, bringing them alive over breakfast, but it's also about something more than that (and you thought you were just here to get a new breakfast recipe). The reason it had to be a porridge recipe, rather than say a pie or a coffee, was largely thanks to my recent discovery of hygge. 

Hygge (pronounced 'hue-gah') is a quality of presence and an experience of togetherness. It is a feeling of being warm, safe, comforted and sheltered. (source). 

Really, discovery is the wrong word as I've been enjoying hygge without realising it for years. But I've found that this porridge can be a mindful and deliberate pursuit of hygge in cooking. The combination of the slow stirring of oats, seasonal apple pie flavours and reviving over a bowl on a chilly morning spent in soft pyjamas and thick socks embodies comfort and cosiness. 

I have 26 Grains to thank for the official introduction to hygge and for the inspiration to explore the potential of porridge. If you're at all interested in cooking with grains or are in pursuit of a book to help you slowly, peacefully stir your way to comfort food you should take a look at this book. 

I also have soaked the oats for 30 minutes in this recipe, inspired by a 26 Grains method. I've since tried recipes with soaked and un-soaked oats and I can't describe how valuable that 30 minutes, if patience or foresight allows, is. Soaked oats are unimaginably creamy, soft and almost luxurious. After soaking, it's as if they're almost coaxed lovingly and gently together in the cooking to form a smooth and silky porridge. I'm a convert, can you tell? 

I feel it's time to go onwards with the recipe. But know that I truly love this one. It really does nourish the body and the soul so completely (and is damn delicious, too).

For Apple Pie Porridge (serves 2):

2 bramley apples, peeled and chopped (or approx 200g apple compote)
100g rolled oats
500ml milk
2 tsp cinnamon, plus extra for serving
1 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla essence
2-3 tbsp maple syrup, plus extra for serving

To serve:

handful of walnuts, chopped
2 tbsp desiccated coconut
1 braburn apple, thinly sliced

Instructions:

  1. Start by making your apple compote. Place the bramley apples into a saucepan with a splash of water and cook on a medium heat until soft but still holding their shape. Set to one side (this can be done in advance and either stored in the fridge or freezer). 
  2. Meanwhile soak the oats by just covering them with water and setting aside for 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to start cooking the porridge, combine the soaked oats, apple compote, milk, cinnamon, ginger and sea salt together in a saucepan. Stir together over a medium heat until well combined.
  4. When the porridge comes together to a silky consistency (this will take about 10 minutes on a medium heat) remove from the heat and add the vanilla essence and maple syrup to your taste and stir together.
  5. Portion into two bowls and layer on the apples and sprinkle over the walnuts, coconut and finish with an extra swirl of maple syrup and pinch of cinnamon. 
  6. Cosy up with a blanket and tuck in. 

Absurdly Easy Nectarine Froyo

Wednesday, 31 August 2016


At this time of year I fluctuate between cravings for warming porridge, stews and hot chocolate and hunks of icy watermelon, soft, salty halloumi flamed to perfection on an outside grill or swirls of cooling fruit froyo. After a particularly glorious bank holiday weekend where I managed to score sunburn from (who'd have thought) scorching Yorkshire, I've fallen down firmly on team froyo today. 

So here's my recipe for absurdly easy nectarine frozen yoghurt. In truth, I meant to share this recipe with you at the beginning of the month so you could enjoy froyo all August long, but combine a wedding, holiday and a birthday or two and you'll find yourself with a total of precisely no time. While the main point of this post is froyo is delicious, it's also don't fool yourself kids, if you have no free time in August, you won't do two blogs as planned. 

But anyway, back to deliciously easy nectarine froyo, the perfect recipe for the tail-end of summer. This recipe is easy, there's no getting away from that. With just three ingredients, its biggest demand is a few hours of patience while the yo combines with the fro in the freezer. 

This recipe is heavier on the yoghurt than most, but I can't resist that slightly acidic twang of Greek yoghurt alongside the soft, subtle sweetness of a summer nectarine. I'd recommend making this froyo for a lazy, summer supper dessert and serving it all at once in a soft serve style. However if you want to keep this froyo in the freezer for a couple of weeks you can do. Just make sure to cover it in cling film and leave to soften 20 minutes before eating. 

For Nectarine Froyo you will need (makes 1 loaf tin): 

750g Greek yoghurt 
4 ripe nectarines or peaches 
1 tbsp honey (optional)

Instructions:
  1. Remove the stone from the nectarines and whizz up in a food processor until smooth.
  2. Add in the Greek yoghurt, whizz again and follow with the honey to taste.
  3. Line your loaf tin with clingfilm and pour the yoghurt mixture into the tin. 
  4. Freeze for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, until the yoghurt has a soft set. Serve with extra nectarines and perhaps another drizzle of honey. 

Mackerel, Chickpea and Broccoli Salad with Harissa Yoghurt

Saturday, 30 July 2016


There's no great story behind this blog post, beside the fact we love to eat it.

I've had a few dishes like this in the past. Recipes we keep going back to again and again because we love them so much. They fit to our tastes, our needs, our cravings, but they're something we eat on a Tuesday evening when we need sustenance and satisfaction fast. This is the same. It's not sexy, but it is dependable and it is delicious. It's not brownies or a roast or a huge curry that takes hours to simmer. It's a midweek meal that packs in a portion of oily fish.

This dish will take good care of you, if you let it. You'll get three of your 5-a-day from the chickpeas, broccoli and spinach and as I said before, is a great way to work oily fish into your midweek. The harissa yoghurt is something a little special but it so easy to make (it's literally harissa mixed with yoghurt...) and I like to serve this salad up with toasted wholemeal pittas. If I can legitimately stuff something in a pitta and eat it, I probably will.

For Mackerel, Chickpea and Broccoli Salad with Harissa Yoghurt (serves 2):

1/2 onion
1 tsp chilli flakes
1x small head of broccoli
1x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
2x fillets smoked mackerel, can be peppered if you're feeling it
2 big handfuls of spinach
sea salt and fresh black pepper
olive oil
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
1 tsp harissa paste

1/2 lemon, to serve
2 whole pitta bread, toasted, to serve

Instructions:

  1. Begin by chopping the broccoli florets into manageable pieces. Trim the woody end of the stalk and slice it up too - don't throw it away, it's delish. Put the broccoli in a pan of boiling water and boil for 3 minutes then drain and set aside.
  2. Then thinly slice the onion and fry with a smidge of oil with the chilli flakes until soft. 
  3. Meanwhile, in a small bowl mix together the Greek yoghurt and harissa paste. Set to one side.
  4. Once the onions are soft, add the chickpeas and broccoli to warm through.
  5. Add in the spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until wilted. Season with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide between two bowls and dollop the harissa yoghurt over the lot. Spritz over the juice of half a lemon and serve with the toasted pitta bread. I recommend stuffing the pitta with the salad, but do what you will. 

The Ultimate Falafel Bowl

Saturday, 16 July 2016


I think my favourite thing about a falafel bowl is the built in excuse to eat a lot, and I mean a lot, of food in one go. There's something about gorging on so many different ingredients and elements that makes falafel bowls feel like an indulgence, when really they're pretty angelic as it goes. I don't know, I just like the fact I can eat a bowl of food with over 8 components and still be totally justified to go in for a mug brownie after. That's my kind of food.

And I know it's a pretty bold claim, saying this recipe is for the ultimate falafel bowl, but I have a get-out clause. I encourage, in fact I urge you to customise this recipe exactly to your taste. No a fan of radishes? Grate a beetroot in there! Love an avo? Go ahead and slice one up in there - heck, mash it into guacamole why don't you. You see, I can call this the ultimate falafel bowl because I have complete confidence in you to make it the ultimate falafel bowl. And my components are a great place to start. But build on them! Customise them! Rock the bowl trend for all it's worth! If you're feeling stuck for inspiration, I've listed some other component suggestions below.

For The Ultimate Falafel Bowl you will need (serves 2): 

For the falafel (makes double the quantity needed to serve)
1x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
2x big bunches of fresh soft herbs such as parsley, coriander, basil, dill etc
1 green chilli
1/2 lemon, juice
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander 
2 tbsp flour
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp olive oil

For the bowl
handful of spinach
100g halloumi, sliced
1/4 red cabbage
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
handful of cherry tomatoes, halved
handful of radishes, sliced
bunch of parsley or any other soft fresh herb
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
olive oil
salt and pepper 

Other optional components:
Roasted sweet potato/cauliflower/carrots
Grated beetroot
Avocado sliced/mashed/mixed up into a killer guacamole 
Hummus
Roasted chickpeas
Quinoa/buckwheat/couscous 

Instructions: 

1. Begin by preheating your oven to 190c. Place all the ingredients for the falafel into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Roll the mixture into about 20 walnut-sized balls and place on a baking tray lined with baking paper. Bake for 18 minutes, turning halfway through, until firm. You will only need half of the falafel to serve, you can put the rest the fridge or freezer for another day. 

2. Heat a pan with a dash of oil and fry the halloumi until golden brown (approximately for 5 minutes on each side). 

3. Toss the red cabbage together with the red wine vinegar so it's lightly pickled.

4. Assemble the bowls starting with the spinach on the bottom and building up with 4-5 falafel, a few slices of halloumi, the tomatoes, radishes, carrot ribbons, pickled cabbage and a handful of fresh herbs.

5. Finish with a dollop of Greek yoghurt, a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt and pepper. 

6. Serve with a spritz of lemon juice over the lot. 

My Favourite Spaghetti and Meatballs Recipe

Thursday, 16 June 2016



I once watched a television programme with Nigella Lawson where she said, 'I like to pretend I'm Italian'. Well, Nigella, so do I. I like to pretend I'm Italian because I identify with the food - simple and delicious and made to share. Break bread, drink wine, eat spaghetti, fill your heart and stomach joy. Italian, and pasta more specifically, is my comfort food and food is my identity. Really it's little wonder why I identified with Nigella and why I carried that sentence, from an obscure show I'd caught on the TV, with me for years after the credits rolled.

And I find, to eat good spaghetti and meatballs is to eat, and live, well regardless of my British passport. Even the cooking process makes my heart happy. The baritone spit of a nearly-boiling, slow-cooked crock pot of tomato sauce, the rush of steam from freshly drained, silky spaghetti and the curls of Parmesan cheese falling and instantly melting on meatballs, piled high into bowls.

So it's frustrating to make bad meatballs and I've made terrible meatballs in the past. Loose, bland and underwhelming. And until recently, I had resigned myself to the fact that delicious piles of soft, herbed meatballs cooked in rich tomato sauce and piled high onto steaming heaps of pasta only existed in Disney movies and the very depths of Italy. But with some trial and error, and combining a few recipes together along with some of my own tricks, I've created my favourite spaghetti and meatballs recipe yet. We've been known to eat this dish, every Saturday night for 3 weeks in a row because for us, this recipe is utter comfort. I hope it is for you to.

To make My Favourite Spaghetti and Meatballs (serves 2):

For the slow-cooked tomato sauce:
2x 400g tinned plum tomatoes
1 onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 bay leaf
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp brown sugar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

For the meatballs:
250g lean minced beef (or 50/50 beef mince and pork mince)
1/2 onion, finely chopped
1 small garlic clove, finely chopped
60ml milk
50g breadcrumbs
15g Parmesan cheese, grated
small handful parsley, finely chopped
small egg, beaten
sea salt

Spaghetti and grated Parmesan cheese to serve

Instructions:
  1. To make the tomato sauce, crush the tinned plum tomatoes into a slow cooker crock pot. Add in the rest of the tomato sauce ingredients, mix together and cook on low for 6 hours. You can make the sauce in advance and keep it in the fridge, or freeze it. Plus, with these quantities you'll only use half of the tomato sauce, so can use the rest another day.
  2. To make the meatballs begin by combining the milk and breadcrumbs in a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Whisk together the egg, parsley, Parmesan and a pinch of sea salt. Then add in the meat, onions and garlic and combine with your fingers.
  4. Then add the soaked breadcrumbs and combine with the meat mixture. Make sure the breadcrumbs are thoroughly mixed in, but do not overwork the meat. 
  5. Place half of the tomato sauce made into a large frying pan or skillet and put on a low heat and then roll the meat mixture into 14 walnut-sized meatballs. 
  6. Nestle the meatballs into the bubbling sauce and cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, turning the meatballs half way.
  7. Cook the spaghetti according to packet instructions and serve with plenty of Parmesan when the meatballs are cooked through.  

Eating Our Way Through Street Feast: Hawker House

Sunday, 5 June 2016


We'd been planning our trip to Hawker House for just under a month. I'd been sending Jack pictures of fat, succulent ribs charred and glistening; filthy stacks of nachos, nestled under slow-cooked brisket and bedecked with sour cream and hot and sharp jalapeños; and Willy Wonka-esque ice creams, topped with torched, fluffy marshmallow.

It happened to be a coincidence that on the Friday evening when we wandered our way east, bellies groaning in anticipation, London had also decided to roll out the most delicious of Summer evenings. We decided to enjoy the soft air and take the 45 minute walk from our flat near Borough Market to Canada Water. I wore open-toed sandals and Jack went without a jacket. Small, but very resolute, gestures to begin our Summer in the capital.

Hawker House is one of Street Feast's four locations. Under the huge roof of a car park, a collection of vendors specialising in particular cuisines - or hell, just really owning one very specific dish - grill, fry, flip and stir up paper dishes of stripped-back, simple but absolutely sumptuous street food and share it with hundreds of people over the evening. The venue fills up, and quickly, and the place jumps with atmosphere, sways with eager queues and buzzes with the satisfied hum of punters sinking their teeth into one delicious dish after another. Fires are lit, beers are poured and London starts its Summer in the utmost of style.

We tried as much as we possibly could. Starting with Smokestak Pork Ribs (the best I have ever, and I mean ever, had. I couldn't even bring myself to pause for a picture), Nachos from Club Mexicana, Bang Bang Shrimp from Prawnography, tender Steak, chips and gravy from Meat Hook and Hot Chocolate topped with blazed marshmallow and liquid-nitrogen mixed Sticky Toffee Pudding from Chin Chin Labs. We could've dined happily on the ribs alone, and if you go, you must buy them for the sake of your happiness. Sit down and eat them, slowly, by candlelight. Roll your eyes with an oh-my-god-how-good-are-these-ribs expression at the stranger sitting next to you. If they've had them, they'll get it.

Our evening was a haze. Of food and heat and too much beer. We took the tube home, suffering from first-wear-of-the-summer sandal blisters. I was asleep before 10.30pm, tipsy on food and happiness and the second beer. I think you can tell I recommend this place. Take your friends, take your lover, take your parents. Go, eat your fill, be happy.

Lottie Loves

Friday, 29 April 2016

Instagram of the week: How cute is my neighbourhood, though? Answer: ADORABLE.

1. Hi - here's a recipe for Pizza Rolls. Shall we crack on?

2. Looking for your next read? This website tells you which book to read next based on the last book you finished.

3. Mini chocolate chip cookie baked doughnuts. I need these, like right now.

4. Tracy's tips on keeping creativity alive. I love her thoughts on 'Document the Process'.

5. This Pastel Hexagon Tile Cake DIY is super cute. I want to try it out.

6. Wedding season is nearly upon us people. Loved this piece from Emily - The 9 Most Common Wedding Questions I Get.

7. Oh my WORD - I'm obsessed with Disturbed's cover of The Sound of Silence. Really just can't get over it. What do you think?

8. On the topic of music, did you catch Birdie's live lounge last week. Both her live version of Wild Horses and her cover of Fast Car were spine-tingling and made me cry.

9. Aaand on the topic of crying - I wept at Eye in the Sky and the thought it would be the last time I'd see Alan Rickman star in a film. It was also a really thought-provoking film, I'd recommend it. 

10. Finally, because all long weekends need them, 6 French Toast Recipes To Step Up Your Brunch Game.

Have a happy weekend, friends! x
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