Has anyone noticed that spring has sprung? Well we sure haven't felt any of that. The weekend before last we were blessed with torrential rains, last weekend we had snow storms and today it just feels like the coldest day ever.

But on the bright side, wherever you look spring is fighting to emerge, there are little daffodils everywhere, little buds showing on every other tree and every now and then the sun says hello.

Here are few piccies of life lately including flowers, baking, DIY and a birthday boy.

>> This plant has continuously been growing and sprouting. It's loving its spot on our window sill and has surprised me with the first flower of the year. <<

>> A weekend breakfast of fried egg, maple cured bacon and caramelised mushrooms and of course the must have pot of coffee. <<

>> Our home has been one big DIY paradise (or hell) for the past few months. So while we were at it we thought, why not make a desk out of old, leftover doors. <<

 >> Celebrating a special boy's birthday with steaming cups of tea and a big, boozy citrus and polenta cake. <<

>> Cake: post attack <<

>> ...and then the snow decided to come back with a vengeance. <<


A long time ago my mum and dad used to own an Asian restaurant in a small rural town in the South of Germany. That's the sort of food I grew up with and never appreciated as a child and teenager.

Ever since they moved on to new things it is my dad's cooking I crave. I miss coming home after school and ordering Shanghai Duck with the best steamed rice ever and topped with crispy rice noodles. I miss spicy and sour king prawn fried rice with a side of iced cucumber and the fact that I could always just wander down to the restaurant and "shop" for any ingredients I wanted to get for my own cooking.

More recently I've been pestering my dad for advice on how to cook Chinese food at home. How to steam, how to make the perfect fried rice and how to put together my own curry sauce. Slowly but surely I have started to master certain dishes and Chinese food has become a great part of our day to day meals.

Just like my dad I am a massive hater of frying food - deep or shallow, I hate it. While dad hates the smell and mess I am mortified of the hot splashing oil, fires or hurting myself.

So when I made garlic chicken the other day I made it very clear to Mat that he should savour every last bite as I am never making it again. (To tell you the truth I might try it again because it was so terribly yummy ;)

So here you have it; deliciously tender, crispy and fragrant garlic chicken and Chinese greens.


COOKS 30mins

  • 4 chicken thigh fillets or 3 chicken breasts, diced
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped or minced
  • 4 spring onions, bruised and diagonally sliced
  • 1 green chilli, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 3tbsp corn flour
  • 1tbsp fish sauce
  • 1tbsp light soy sauce
  • 2tbps shaoxing wine
  • salt and pepper to season
  • sunflower oil
For the Pak Choi
  • 2 bulbs of pak choi, chopped
  • 100g mange tout, sliced diagonally
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tsp brown sugar
  • 1tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove finely sliced
  • 1 cm piece of ginger, peeled and very finely sliced
  1. Season the corn flour with plenty of salt and pepper. Roll your chicken in the flower and dust off any excess flour.
  2. Fill a wok (or large frying pan) with about 1.5-2cm of oil and place on a high heat. Once really hot start frying the chicken in batches for about 3-5 minutes each side, until golden on the outside and cooked on the inside. Transfer onto a kitchen towel to soak up any excess oil. 
  3. Once the chicken is cooked, clean your pan. Add a little oil and transfer to a medium heat. Add the garlic and chilli and fry for a couple of minutes until the garlic has started to soften. Add the Shaoxing wine and cook for a couple of minutes until it's reduced by half. Add the spring onions, soy sauce, sugar and fish sauce and cook until the sugar has dissolved. 
  4. Add the chicken to the sauce and stir until well coated. Transfer to a warm bowl and set aside.
  5. Wipe your wok and heat a little oil over a medium to high heat. Add the ginger and garlic and fry for a few minutes til soft. Add the soy sauce, brown sugar and vinegar and cook until the sugar has dissolved.
  6. Mix in the mange tout and pak choi and cook for a further five minutes until the vegetables are cooked but still crunchy. Taste for seasoning and serve alongside the chicken. 


Winter this year seems eternal. I truly thought it was all over when we had a short spell of spring the other week - but no, it came back with a vengeance. It has been raining, snowing, sleeting and hailing ever since. Literally the whole lot.

In situations like these, when the days feel never-ending and almost unbearably miserable and cold the only cure seems to be a steaming hot soup, a comforting stew or a warm winter salad.

Rachel Khoo has a true gem up her sleeve with her lentil and beetroot salad. A fairly light yet comforting meal, this dish is rustled up in half an hour, looks good and tastes even better. I love the idea of using plenty of dill in the vinaigrette, which creates a lovely little pop of colour on a plate of brown.

I decided to amend the recipe a bit and added caramelised shallots and maple cured bacon - because who can resist a bit of crispy bacon. This was a great addition to the dish, rounding everything of with a smokey sweetness.

I have made this in the past adding ingredients such as mushrooms, butternut squash, spinach... be creative!


COOKS 30-45mins

  • 200g puy lentils, washed
  • 100g soft goats cheese
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 stock cube (I used beef but you can use vegetable or chicken)
  • 6 rashers streaky maple cured bacon, cut into chunks
  • 2 beetroots, very thinly sliced
  • 2 shallots finely diced
  • 1/2 bunch dill
  • 2tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • a pinch of brown sugar
  • salt and pepper
  • rocket to serve
  1. Cover the lentils with cold water and add the bay leaf and thyme. Bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling crumble in the stock cube. Simmer for 30-40 minutes (check on the packet instructions) until the lentils are tender. 
  2. Pre-heat some olive oil in a frying pan and sautee the shallots until they start to brown (this should take about 5 minutes). Add the bacon and fry until brown and crispy.
  3. Once cooked, drain the lentils (if necessary), remove the bay leaf and thyme and add to the bacon/shallot mixture. Combine everything and season to taste.
  4. Place the dill, vinegar, oil, salt and sugar into a blending bowl or food processor (you can also use a stick blender) and whizz until well combined and you have a liquid vinaigrette.
  5. Spoon the lentil bacon mix onto a plate, top with the beetroot, goat's cheese and rocket and drizzle with the vinaigrette. 
This is particularly yummy with a rich glass of red. 

Recipe taken from Rachel Khoo's The Little Paris Kitchen and adapted by Etta.


Until about two years ago I had never made fajitas, tacos or burritos or any Mexican food for that matter... And then Mat introduced me to El Paso fajita packs. Yep I was sold. All in one pack yumminess. At one point it was our Friday night ritual dinner and we followed family tradition of mixing the salsa into the chicken, only a tiny topping of guacamole (no sour cream) and of course serving everything alongside the essential re-fried beans

Why it only occurred to me the other week that I could make this from scratch and that it doesn't always have to be chicken, only heaven knows. The good news is, it was easier than I thought (in fact, even easier than the packet stuff), and it tasted heavenly. Oh and did I mention it was healthy, too - no? - well it is.

So here you have it, quick n easy smokey king prawn fajitas. As always, feel free to substitute the prawns with chicken or beef or pork or tofu or whatever tickles your fancy.

Hope you enjoy!


COOKS 10mins


For the tacos
  • 250g large peeled prawns, butterflied (if you've never butterflied a prawn, this video is great)
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 2tsp chipotle paste (if you want it super spice throw in a chopped red chilli as well)
  • 400g tin black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 lime
  • fresh corn flower tortillas 
  • Greek yoghurt (seasoned with some salt and pepper and a splash of olive oil), coriander and Tabasco sauce to serve
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil
For the Jalapeño salsa
  • 1/2 small red onion, really finely diced
  • 1/2 lime, juiced
  • 150g cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 2tbsp pickled jalapeños or 1 green chilli, chopped
  • a handful of coriander, chopped (in my case this is optional ;))
  • salt and pepper

  1. Place the onion in a bowl and pour over the lime juice. Leave to sit for 5 minutes, then add the pickled jalapeños, tomatoes and coriander. Season with salt and pepper and set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 200˚C. Mix the prawns with the spices and season. Heat the beans in a saucepan over a low heat, slightly mashing them as they cook. Season with salt and pepper.
  3. Warm the tortillas in foil for about 5 minutes.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan over a high heat. Cook the prawns for about 1 minute each side, then squeeze over the juice of 1/2 lime.
  5. To serve, spoon some of the black beans over each tortilla, top with the prawns, salsa, yoghurt, some coriander and a good dash of Tabasco (or your favourite chilli sauce).
And that's that.


Hope everyone had a lovely weekend. Ours was pretty busy and involved eating a lot of fried eggs and cheese on toast on the go - solely for the purpose of ease and speed. But we got tons done which is always good and are looking forward (some of us more than others ;)) to a busy week ahead. 

Today I want to share a recipe that is MORE than worth mentioning. Have I said before that I am obsessed with Ottolenghi's Jerusalem? Literally in love with every recipe I have made so far.
We made Chermoula Aubergine with Tabbouleh and converted Mat (a former aubergine hater). He ended up having a double portion for lunch the next day. Yes people, aubergine isn't gooey and chewy and bitter.

So, for anyone who is on the look out for a book full of taste sensations and lots of clever and unusual uses of herbs and spices I highly, highly recommend Jerusalem.

COOKS 45mins


For the Tabbouleh
  • 90g fine bulgar wheat
  • 4 medium tomatoes, diced into 0.5cm cubes
  • 2 medium shallots (optional), finely chopped
  • 160g fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches fresh mint (30g), finely chopped
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 3-4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 75ml extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt and black pepper

For the Chermoula Aubergine
  • 150g fine bulgar
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 tsp sweet paprika
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped preserved lemon skin, finely chopped
  • 140ml olive oil, plus extra to finish
  • Salt
  • 2 medium aubergines, halved
  • 50g sultanas
  • 10g fresh mint, chopped
  • 50g green olives, halved
  • 30g flaked almonds, toasted
  • 2 spring onions, chopped
  • 1½ tbsp lemon juice
  • 120g greek yoghurt (about one small tub)
  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180˚C. 
  2. Add all the bulgar (both for the tabbouleh and the aubergine) into a large bowl and season with a pinch of salt. Pour over boiling water so the bulgar is just covered (approximately 180ml) and cover with a plate. Set asside for 10 minutes.
  3. Once the bulgar is done take out just under a third and place into a separate bowl. Add all the remaining tabbouleh ingredients, mix thoroughly and set asside
  4. To make the chermoula, mix together the garlic, cumin, coriander, chilli, paprika, preserved lemon, two-thirds of the olive oil and half a teaspoon of salt.
  5. Take the aubergine halves and score the flesh of each half with diagonal, crisscross lines, making sure not to pierce the skin. Spoon the chermoula over each half, spreading it evenly, and place on a baking tray. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the aubergines are very soft.
  6. Soak the sultanas in 50ml of warm water for 10 minutes, then drain and add to the bulgar with a tablespoon of olive oil. Stir in the herbs, olives, almonds, spring onions, lemon juice and season to taste with salt.
  7. Once the aubergines are done, spoon the bulgar over them, drizzle with the greek yoghurt and a little olive oil and serve alongside the tabbouleh.
This goes particularly well with a sweet, fresh mint tea.

Recipe taken from Ottolenghi's Jerusalem and adapted by Etta. 


A few weekends ago, when the weather was still spring-like, we managed to make a little trip to Blackheath, which I'd never been to before. I loved it - it was like a quaint little village in the middle of the big city. Lots of independent shops, restaurants and cafés and the most beautiful little antique book shop you can imagine. We immediately went in to browse through some old books and prints and to explore the massive shelves filled with weird and wonderful literature. The smell of an old bookshop gets me every time - a strange mix of nostalgia and happiness.

We met up with Ed and Susie and ventured across the Heath to Greenwich, walked past the Royal Observatory which was full of tourists who didn't know how to use their cameras, popped into the Maritime museum for a little bit, were disappointed by the museum shop (usually one of the best bits) and ooohd and aaaahd over Nelson's Ship in a Bottle by Yinka Shonibare.

My current wanna-live-in spots in London are Crystal Palace and Blackheath. But then there is still so much more to explore and I am sure I will change my mind, about where I'd like us to settle down one day, pretty soon. Especially considering that only five years ago I swore to myself that I would never live in South East London.

It's the weekend again tomorrow - whoop whoop! Anyone got any fun plans?


Last Sunday was coooold and filled with so many chores, we didn't even know where to begin. Our floating living-room shelves are almost done. We sanded and painted and sanded some more and now I can barely lift my arms. But we're getting there and it'll all be worth it in the end. (I am just imagining all our lovely books and sculptures up there - daydream...)

Once again I didn't really have the time to make us a big Sunday lunch (which we could've really done with) but ended up relying on the oven to do its thing while we carried on with work like proper troopers.

I had half a butternut squash and half a packet of blue cheese left over, so decided to make us a sweet and tangy warm salad. This was amazingly good. You know when you eat something and it warms your heart and for just a minute you stop caring that outside the snow has started fighting spring. Yes it was that good!

And lucky me, there was enough left over to take to work the next day. Double thumbs up!

If you aren't a blue cheese lover - I suppose you could use a Wensleydale cheese or a milder blue cheese such as Danish Blue. But blue cheese is soooo good!!!


COOKS 45-50mins


    •    1 small butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut into 3cm chunks
    •    300g chestnut mushrooms, sliced
    •    70g blue cheese
    •    2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
    •    15 sage leaves, bruised (I used the back of a large knife)
    •    2-3tbsp balsamico
    •    bag of rocket
    •    olive oil
    •    sea salt and pepper to season

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 190˚C. Place the butternut squash, garlic and sage on a baking tray. Drizzle with olive oil until well coated (about 2 tablespoons should do) and season with plenty of sea salt and black pepper. Roast for about 35-45 minutes or until the squash is soft and starts to brown around the edges. Once done set aside to cool.
  2. Heat some olive oil in a large frying pan. Once really hot, add the mushrooms and sautee until any liquid has evaporated and the mushrooms start to brown and caramelise. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. In a large salad bowl combine the mushrooms, butternut squash and rocket and crumble in the cheese. Drizzle over about 2 teaspoons of olive oil and the balsamico and mix well.
  4. Serve with toasted granary bread.
Recipe taken from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Veg Everyday and adapted by Etta.
Work in progress.
Hard-core DIYer.