Schwäbische Alb bei Lenningen-Schlattstall, Hans Schwenkel, 1939
Hope you all had a lovely Christmas; full of laughter, good food, drink, family and friends. We sure did. We overindulged a little on lots of yummy dinners and delicious cocktails and I spent most of my time roasting, baking and mixing in the kitchen (we all know how much I love that, although it did get a little tiring towards the end ;)).

And now it's New Year's Eve and we are getting ready to go over to our friends' house, packing bags of more drink and snacks for a quiet and relaxing evening.

I am looking forward to what the new year has to bring:
we are planning more DIY projects in our flat, which I hope I will be able to share on here, I want to finally start using my sewing machine and make some lovely things for the house (this pretty Christmas present from Susie and my brother will definitely come in handy), blog more often and share the stack of recipes I have on file and I am really looking forward to all the exciting projects that await me at work.
Most of all we are planning to eat healthier and more consciously, cutting down on meat dishes and trying out more vegetarian options, exercising more (starting the mile-a-day project and joining the gym) and spending more quality time together.

Now lets start the new year with a vegetarian meal of roast broccoli and lemon linguine that is so easy, delicious and healthy.


COOKS 30mins

  • 1 medium size broccoli (cut into bite size bits, including the stem)
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
  • 360-400g linguine, cooked to instructions, keep a tiny bit of water in the linguine after draining
  • grated parmesan (optional. This makes it less healthy but much lovelier.)

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Place the broccoli onto a baking tray and drizzle with the honey (mainly onto the florets). Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil. Place in the oven and cook for 25-30 minutes until the florets just start to char.
  2. After about 15 minutes start making your linguine (they should still be hot once your broccoli is done).
  3. Combine the linguine, broccoli, lemon zest, juice and minced garlic, drizzle with plenty of olive oil and mix well.
  4. Serve hot with some grated parmesan or pecorino.
Enjoy with a crisp white wine or glass of cold beer.


I tried to start my Christmas baking early this year, because I've been finding it hard to get into the Christmas mood... well and because we all know how much I love baking. My best childhood friend came over for a long weekend and what better way to spend a day off than baking your favourite Christmas biscuits. These little babies are called Zimtsterne (cinnamon stars) and are everything a Christmas biscuit should be: sweet, nutty, spicy, chewy, crispy... just amazing.
They literally have been my favourite Christmas treat for as long as I can remember and I don't see this changing any time soon.

And before you say anything...yes I know they aren't stars, as they are meant to be (I didn't have the right cookie cutters).

Please try these, you'll instantly feel twice as christmassy!!


MAKES 25-50 (this depends on the size of your cookie cutters)
COOKS 25mins
  • 3 Egg Whites
  • 250g Icing Sugar
  • 1tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1tbsp Cinnamon
  • 1 pinch of Ground Coffee
  • 375g ground Almonds

  1. Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer until stiff. Sieve the icing sugar and carefully (spoon by spoon) mix with the stiff egg whites.
  2. Remove 3 tablespoons of the mixture and set aside. 
  3. Add the vanilla extract, cinnamon, coffee and as much of the ground almonds until the mixture is not sticky anymore.
  4. Place the mixture between two large sheets of cling film and roll out evenly until 1cm thick.
    Place on a flat chopping board and refrigerate for 2 hours.
  5. Preheat the oven to 125˚C. Open up the cling film and cut out stars using a cookie cutter (ideally stars of approximately 4 cm diameter). Dust the cutter with a bit of icing sugar every now and then to avoid sticking. 
  6. Place the stars on a baking tray lined with baking paper and brush with the egg white/icing sugar mixture you set aside earlier.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes then turn the temperature down to 100˚C and bake for another 10-15 minutes (make sure the egg white stays pale).
  8. Once done place on a cake rack and leave to cool.
I promise you these will be gone within the day. Enjoy! 


It's taken me ages to finally get to the second course of my Sunday lunch menu. Damn you Christmas stress! On the positive side I have got tons of lovely wintery recipes to share with you very soon!!! But before I go off and do some more wrapping and baking and tidying and decorating here's the main course of my winter Sunday lunch. A delicious, earthy warm lentil salad with sweet apples and tender marinated pork fillet. Enjoy!

COOKS 45mins-1hr

  • 400g pork fillet
  • 3 sprigs rosemary, remove stalks and finely chop leaves
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 175ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 200g  puy or brown lentils
  • 500ml beef stock, left to slightly cool down
  • 2tbsp good quality balsamic vinegar.
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and cut into small chunks
  • 2 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into chunks
  1. Mix the rosemary, garlic cloves, red wine, brown sugar and olive oil in a large bowl (whisk or stir until the sugar has dissolved). Add the pork fillet and move around in the bowl until well coated with the marinade. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes. For maximum flavour you can do this the night before and refrigerate over night.
  2. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. Place the butternut squash on a baking tray, season with salt and pepper and drizzle with some olive oil. Put in the pre-heated oven and cook for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes add the apples and cook for a further 15-20 minutes until the butternut squash is cooked.
  3. In the meantime place the lentils into a saucepan and add the stock so the lentils are just covered. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 20-30 minutes until cooked. Keep an eye on the lentils and keep topping up with stock if they get too dry. 
  4. After your meat has had time to marinade and the squash has been in the oven for 30 minutes place the pork into a baking tray and pour over the marinade. Place into the oven and cook for about 20 minutes.
  5. Once the meat is done, take it out of the tray, place on a warm plate and leave to rest. Make sure it is cooked through and the juices run clear.
  6. Add the juices from the tray into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the balsamico and simmer until the mixture starts to thicken, then take off the heat.
  7. Slice the meat into medallions. Distribute the lentils between four plates and top with the spinach, squash and apples. Place the medallions on top and drizzle with the dressing.
And that's it, enjoy with a nice rich red wine or a glass of cider.


      I thought I might start a little series of posts on easy weekend lunches, that feed loads, are easy to prepare and make a memorable event. A few weekends ago we had my mum and dad round and I really wanted to make a light two course lunch that was full of winter loveliness. Last year I made this super yummy borscht with mushroom dumplings which went down a treat. It's that time of year again where beetroot seems just right. So for starters I made an earthy, thick beetroot soup with tangy feta and a crusty rye bread.

      One thing I often dislike about winter lunches is that they are too heavy and you end up being so full after starters that you can hardly stomach mains let alone pudding. This little beetroot soup is just the right amount of filling to get you started.
      Make it on Saturday and just re-heat for Sunday lunch. You'll save time and gain extra flavour.

      Here it goes, my Sunday lunch starter:

      SERVES 6
      PREPARATION 10mins
      COOKS 30-45mins

      • 3-4 medium sized beetroots, peeled and diced (grate 1/4 of one beetroot as a garnish)
      • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
      • 1tbsp tomato puree
      • 1 garlic clove, finely chopped
      • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
      • 500ml strong stock (I used beef)
      • 125g Greek Feta, crumbled
      • Olive oil
      • Small handful of chopped dill (optional)
      • Salt and Pepper to season
      • Rye or sourdough bread to serve
      1. Heat some olive oil in a medium size saucepan. Once hot add the onion and sautee for a few minutes, until soft.
      2. Add the garlic and cook for a minute or so then add the tomato puree and stir until well combined. Mix in the diced beetroot, tomatoes and stock. Turn down the heat to medium and simmer for 30-40 minutes until the soup's thickened and reduced. Stir occasionally.
      3. Blitz with a handblender. It doesn't matter if you have a few chunks of beetroot left. If you feel the soup is too thick add a little more stock and mix in.
      4. Season to taste with salt and pepper, bearing in mind that the feta is quite salty.
      5. Dish up into soup bowls and top with the crumbled feta, grated beetroot and the chopped dill.
      6. Serve alongside buttered rye bread.
      This soup is great cold too and you can substitute the tinned tomatoes for 500g of roast tomatoes in the summer. But to me this just screams winter starter :) Enjoy with a glass of light red wine.
      Main course of pork fillet and warm lentil salad to follow shortly.


      Recipe taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and adapted by Etta.


      Hello everyone! Hope you all had a lovely weekend.
      Things have been pretty hectic round here lately, hence the lack of posts. Our place has been an absolute building site (while Mat's building us some beautiful bookshelves) and nothing is in its place. And while I have been cooking (every now and then) I haven't really had the time to share anything on my little blog. So to start the week here's a simple method to spice up your shop bought pickles.

      All you need for this is a jar of good quality pickles (we love to use good old pickled onions), 3-4 birds eye chillis (if you don't want it too hot use a milder chilli) and patience.

      Prick your chillis with the tip of a knife, open the jar of pickles and push the chillis in between the pickles. Close firmly and shake to move the chillis around in the jar. Refrigirate for a couple of weeks and then enjoy. The longer you wait the spicier your pickles will be. We're hoping that ours will be ready for Chrimbo :).



      First of all I cannot take any credit for this recipe, it's all the doing of my work mate Anthony.
      I find this is the best way of cooking, exchanging recipes, with no exact measurements, taking them home with you and making them your own.
      This stuff is amazing. It's got all the flavours of a full blown bolognese (and more), it's cheap as chips and super quick and easy to make. Oh and you can drink the rest of the wine once you're done cooking (or while cooking ;))
      The perfect winter dinner, this dish just screams comfort and you can rustle it up in under 45 minutes. If you feel worn out after a hard day at work, make this and you will defo feel much better.

      So here it goes:

      SERVES 3-4
      PREPARATION 10mins
      COOKS 30-45mins

      • 8-10 good quality sausages (we used Lincolnshire Sausages), meat removed from the casing
      • 1tbsp fennel seeds
      • 1tsp chili powder
      • 1 red onion, finely chopped
      • 2 garlic cloves crushed
      • 8 chestnut mushrooms, really finely chopped or blitzed in a food processor
      • 2tbsp tomato paste
      • 1tbsp Worcester Sauce
      • 300-350ml strong red wine
      • 1 cube beef stock, crumbled
      • 400g wholewheat penne (cooked to instructions)
      • salt and pepper to season
      • olive oil
      • parmesan to serve (optional)

      1. Heat a pan over a high to medium heat (ideally don't use a non-stick pan) and toast your fennel seeds until fragrant but not brown. Transfer to a pestle and mortar and grind until crushed but not super fine. You can also use the end of a rolling pin and a bowl if you don't have a pestle and mortar. 
      2. Heat a bit of olive oil in a saucepan and fry the onions and garlic for a few minutes until the onions start to soften (about 5mins). 
      3. Add the sausage meat and fry over a high heat until nicely browned. Stir in the tomato paste until the meat is well covered and cook for a few more minutes. 
      4. Add the mushrooms, chili powder, fennel seeds, Worcester Sauce and stock cube and stir until everything is well combined. 
      5. Pour over the wine, stir in and leave to simmer for just over half an hour. Make sure to stir occasionally. 
      6. After half an hour season to taste and make sure the sauce is nice and thick. If it's still runny leave to simmer for a few minutes.
      7. Serve with the penne and sprinkle with some parmesan. Oh and enjoy the rest of your wine alongside it.
      Tadaaa, the perfect winter dinner, for when you're feeling a little low, hungry and cold or if you just want really yummy food. Thanks Ant :)



      Sunday was meant to be a busy, busy day of meeting with friends I hadn't seen in ages, indulging in a yummy Sunday Roast and enjoying London on a weekend. But it wasn't meant to be, as one by one everyone announced they had been hit by the flu wave.

      So there we were all dressed, ready to go and couldn't quite make up our mind what to do. Our mind was set on roooooast, but it was raining so much outside you thought the world was coming to an end.
      Ultimately it took us about three hours to decide whether we in fact wanted to venture out in the torrential rain and another two where to go. It had to be close enough for everyone to get to, it had to still serve Sunday Roast at 5pm and it had to be good.

      The White Hart in Crystal Palace it was. All reviews were good, it was close enough and looked nice and cosy.

      This is one of those pubs I go into and wish it was my local. It's got a good selection of beers, wines and spirits at various price levels. The interior is inviting and cosy and the punters are a healthy mix of middle-aged locals and a few trendy hipsters (just enough for it to be bearable).

      The menu had a nice selection of roasts, ranging from 21 day aged beef, leg of lamb, pork belly, roast chicken and a vegetarian nut roast option.
      After craving a Sunday Roast all day we ended up going for steak and burgers. Yep... that's how good we are at making up our minds.

      I had a 21 day aged rump steak, served with chips, rocket and a grilled tomato. You could choose from a bernaise or peppercorn sauce at a wopping £2 extra (bit steep). The steak was cooked to my liking, although a bit on the chewy side, the chips were hot and crispy and the sides tasty. The sauce on the other hand, while edible, was a bit disappointing.

      Susie and Mat both went for the Cheeseburger, topped with pulled pork served alongside chips and burger sauce. When I ordered I was a bit upset that we couldn't opt for a medium cooked burger (health and safety bla bla) and braced ourselves for the usual dried out to oblivion patty. Fortunately we were pleasantly surprised; the meat was juicy and there was a good amount of smokey, moist pork. Over all pretty good.

      By this point I was really quite happy with our choice of pub and kept going on about how we should go there more regularly... until we had desert! And yes... it was the biggest let down ever. £5.50 for a sliver of Salted Caramel Tart, which was meant to come with clotted cream and instead was served with not so nice ice cream, is really not too cool. Susie and I had the Sharing Desert which consisted of a quarter slice of Caramel Tart, a soggy Lemon Cheesecake (crumbled to bits), a pretty nice slice of brownie, ice cream and some tinned cherries which created a watery pool of pink sugary water on the plate. For  £8.50 very disappointing!

      Overall I really liked the White Hart. It's a great pub to go to and socialise with your mates, the food is ok, the drinks are good the atmosphere is lovely. We'll defo go back (maybe just for a drink)!
      Rating 6.5/10 (and just because the desert was so awful and the condiments and extras over-priced)



      The White Hart
      96 Church Road, 
      Crystal Palace, 
      SE19 2EZ
      Tel: +44 (0)20 8771 9389


      This dinner stands against a lot of things I am a great believer of (so excuse my being a hypocrite on this one occasion). None of the ingredients are in season, none of them are British, some are frozen and this is by no means a wintery, comfort meal. But I decided I'd treat us to something a little posh. Something that reminds us of warm summer days in order to forget the current icy temperatures. Oh and simply because I really, really, really wanted prawns.

      Seafood risotto is usually something I'll order when we go out to our local Italian. Something I'll have alongside a large glass of wine and indulge in, reminding myself along the way that this is a treat and I cannot have it every day.

      So yesterday, after we spent a good couple of hours cleaning our kitchen we rewarded ourselves with this yummy dinner of deliciousness and a large glass of G+T.

      Just in case you fancy a bit of a posh dinner date for two but can't be arsed to leave the house. Here it goes.

      SERVES 2
      PREPARATION 5mins
      COOKS 30mins 

      • 150g risotto rice
      • 12 king prawns, defrosted
      • 7 asparagus stalks, cut into small chunks, set the tips aside
      • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
      • 1 onion, finely chopped
      • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
      • 600ml fish, chicken or vegetable stock
      • 1 glass white wine (150ml)
      • 1 lemon
      • 1 tsp chilli flakes
      • a handful of chopped parsley
      • salt and pepper to season
      • olive oil
      • 1tbsp butter (optional - you can just add more olive oil)

      1. Heat the olive oil in a medium saucepan. Once hot fry the onions, celery, garlic and chili flakes until the vegetables start to soften. This will take about 5 mins.
      2. Add the butter and keep stirring until it's all melted. Add the rice and stir until it's well coated and starts to go slightly translucent.
      3. Pour over the wine and simmer, stirring continuously for about 3 minutes. You will see the starch being released from the rice and the liquid will start to thicken slightly.
      4. Add a little bit of the stock, stir and leave to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally and keep topping up with stock when the mixture starts to look a little dry. Make sure you always have enough liquid in the pot so it doesn't stick. After 10 minutes add the chopped asparagus (not the tips) and stir.
      5. In the meantime heat a little olive oil in a pan. Once the oil is very hot, add the asparagus tips. Fry on each side for about 2 minutes, until the asparagus starts to brown. Sprinkle with some sea salt and deglaze the pan with the juice of 1/4 lemon. Set aside for later.
      6. Once your rice has been cooking for about 15-20 minutes add the prawns and half the chopped parsley. Stir, until everything is well incorporated.
      7. After about 20 minutes your rice should be done. The rice should still have a little bite to it with a smooth, velvety consistency. If you feel it's still too hard, cook for a few more minutes, adding a bit more stock if necessary. 
      8. Taste for seasoning, squeeze in the juice of 1/4 lemon and serve topped with the remaining parsley and the asparagus tips. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
      I usually don't have cheese in my seafood risotto or pasta, as I find it too heavy and it distracts from the delicate flavours of the prawns and asparagus. But if you fancy it, knock yourself out and add some Parmesan or Pecorino. 
      This dish goes sooooo well with a nice zingy Gin and Tonic, some candlelight and a nice date ;)




      Excuse the rubbish photos once again. The light was atrociously fluorescent!
      When you live in rural, suburban London finding a good cheap eat isn't the easiest task. Our friends have been bigging up the Cadillac Diner in Shirley for quite some time now and all of you know how much we love a burger 'n' chips. So on a rainy Friday night we ventured to Shirley to check out this diner.

      First impression, yep it looked like an American Diner. Bright red leather seats, chrome, a jukebox and loads of display cabinets with figurines of the Godfather and Elvis.
      The staff were super, super friendly and attentive and, first thing, we were enthusiastically informed that they had a singer coming that evening.

      I wanted the whole diner experience and decided my drink of choice for that night was going to be milkshakes. We went for banana and chocolate. Now, these were no milkshakes of genius - only ice cream with a squidge of flavoured sauce, but they were so fake they were absolutely delicious.

      For mains we ordered a Classic Cheeseburger with Fries, a Bacon Chilli Cheese Dog and Onion Rings. I was pleased they asked me how I wanted my burger cooked (which means their burgers aren't frozen). The portions were absolutely humongous, there was fresh lettuce and tomatoes and lovely gooey swiss cheese and the meat had been cooked as requested. Mat's Chilli Dog tasted much better than it looked but could have been a little spicier.

      This is no Byron-standard American food experience, the meat doesn't come from a small boutique farm in the mountains of Scotland, the fries are tasty but a little dry and a lot of the ingredients are bought-in and frozen. Part of me would have liked to have homemade, crispy and chunky Onion Rings and a rustic Coleslaw that wasn't oozing with runny mayo on the side, but hey-ho. Over all everything was well cooked and tasty and at £7.75 for a huge cheese burger, chips and coleslaw you really cannot complain.

      The entertainment was really nice and the place was pleasantly buzzing with just the right amount of customers. Also the owner was so lovely, offering us an extra cup of espresso on the house so we could stay for a couple more songs and enjoy the music.

      If you're looking for a culinary experience of genuine American nosh, don't bother. However, if you're after an affordable, pleasant meal and live in the Croydon/Bromley area, give the Cadillac Diner a try.  Rating: 6/10


      Dinner for two, including two main courses, one side, drinks and coffee £23.70.



      It's officially flu weather. Everyone's sniffling and cold and because it's been raining lots I have not really been too fond of autumn lately.
      Both Mat and I were pretty poorly for the whole of last week, which was not great fun. We watched a lot of crap TV, I bought way too much stuff online and read two historic novels which all seemed to merge into one after a while (still love them though).
      Come Saturday we were pretty sick of the old Lemsip and Lemon and Ginger Teas and decided to go down the boozy route. Off to the liquor cupboard we went and Mat rustled us up a couple of delicious Hot Toddies.

      I really am not the biggest fan of whisky, due to an unfortunate encounter with Mr Daniels when I was 17. If you feel the same, don't despair - you don't have to use Whisky - Brandy, Cognac or a lovely Spiced Rum will work beautifully as well. My definite fav is Spiced Rum (Captain Morgan's or Sailor Jerry's) :)
      Hot Toddies are great to fight off colds and flus but are just as delicious as a warm-me up on a cold and rainy autumn evening.

      I'll be posting a few more winter drinks over the next few months. So stay tuned! Any suggestions and wishes are very welcome!

      So here it goes, your drink for a cosy evening on the sofa with a good book: Mat's Hot Toddy.

      SERVES 1
      PREPARATION 5mins 

      • juice of 1/4 - 1/2 lemon (depends on how juicy it is)
      • 25ml whisky or spiced rum (or brandy)
      • 25ml ginger wine
      • 1-2 tsp honey
      • hot water
      1. Put the honey into a small to medium sized mug and disolve with a little hot water. 
      2. Add the lemon juice, spirit and ginger wine and stir until everything is well combined.
      3. Top up with hot water, which has just been boiled (if your using a large mug don't fill up all the way as your hot toddy will end up being too watery).
      4. Give it a good stir and enjoy piping hot.
      This will cure any cold or flu and is thoroughly delicious.



       Recently I've been craving a good curry again. Maybe that was because I have been sick for the last "forever" and every time I have the flu my body wants spicy, wholesome food. Usually I am the stew your curry for hours type of girl. Stew it for so long that the flavours of the spices go right to the core of the meat and veg. But that was sooo not going to happen last week. The aim was to be off the sofa and back on there with a steaming hot meal within 20 minutes. So Thai Red Curry it was.
      Thai Curries are really good, they taste of holiday and are creamy and spicy and much healthier and more versatile than my usual potato and meat curry stew... oh and much quicker as well.

      So if you're stuck for quick dinner ideas, make sure you've always got some red or green thai curry paste in the fridge and a few tins of coconut milk in the cupboard and you can basically use any veg or meat or fish you've got available.

      Super yummy and super quick. Here it goes:

      SERVES 4
      PREPARATION 5mins
      COOKS 20-30mins 

      • 24 ready cooked king prawns (if frozen make sure you defrost them thoroughly)
      • 60g red curry paste
      • 1 tin of coconut milk
      • 1 aubergine, cut into bite size chunks
      • 1 sweet potato, peeled and sliced
      • 1 green pepper, cut into bite size pieces
      • 150g fresh spinach
      • 125ml water (or vegetable stock if your curry paste has no salt in it)
      • steamed rice to serve (you can use the microwave in bag one or follow the instructions below)
      • rapeseed or sunflower oil
      • 2 spring onions cut into fine strips
      • 2 red chillis, finely chopped
      • 1tbsp light soy sauce
      • 1tbsp rice wine vinegar

      1. Heat a little oil in a wok or shallow pot. Add the curry paste and fry for a couple of minutes until the aromas start to release from the spices. Shake the tin of coconut milk well (to mix the water with the more solid bits). Add half the coconut milk and stir until everything is well combined. 
      2. Add the sweet potatoes, aubergine and pepper and stir in until well coated with the sauce. Pour in the rest of the coconut milk stir and leave to simmer for 5 minutes. If your sauce starts to get too thick add a little water (or stock).
      3. If you are cooking your own rice, now is the time to make it. Wash about six handfuls of basmati or long-grain rice in a sieve, rubbing between your fingers until the water runs clear. Place into a small saucepan and add a pinch of salt. Cover with cold water until until the water reaches approximately 2cm above the surface of the rice (or the first finger joint of your middle finger). Cook on the highest heat until the water starts boiling and bubbling. Leave to boil until most of the water has evaporated.
      4. Turn down the heat to the lowest setting (if you have an electric cooker you might want to move the pot to new hob turned to a low setting). Cover with a tight lid and leave to simmer and steam for 10 minutes. 
      5. Now add your prawns and spinach to the curry, stir and leave to warm through. 
      6. In the meantime mix your chillis, spring onion, soy sauce and rice wine vinegar in a ramekin ensuring the veg is well coated. Set aside.
      7. Once your rice is done, remove the lid, fluff with a fork and leave to dry steam for 1-2 minutes.
      8. Serve the curry on top of the steamed rice and drizzle with your spring onion/chilli dressing.
      Take to the sofa with a steaming cup of green tea and devour.