Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Panissa Rice

Panissa Rice
  • 50g of diced pancetta
  • 50g chorizo, cut into small bite size pieces
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 stick of celery
  • 1 litre of beef stock
  • 20g fresh rosemary, finely diced
  • 300g Arborio risotto rice
  • 250ml red wine
  • 1 X 400g tin of plum tomatoes
  • 1 X 400g tin of Borlotti beans
  • Handful of finely chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 12 fine asparagus spears
  • 12 slices of grilled pancetta
  • Parmesan shavings

Place the diced pancetta and chorizo into a cold casserole pan, put it on a medium heat and cook out the fat has rendered out (10 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.  Peel and finely chop the onion and chop the celery into small 1cm chunks.  Stir the veg into the pan and and cook for around 10 minutes until softened, stirring often.  In a separate pan, simmer the stock and rosemary.

Stir the rice into the veg for around two minutes or so, until toasted, then pour in the wine and let it it cook away.  Add the tomatoes, stirring through until they are broken up and combined with the rice and veg.  Start adding the stock, a ladleful at a time, you need to let each ladleful cook away before adding more.  Constantly stir the rice (otherwise it will stick to the pan) for around 20 minutes or until the rice is cooked.  Whilst at this stage, steam your asparagus spears and grill the pancetta until nice and crispy, and set aside.  Drain the beans and stir them into the pan with the last ladleful of stock.  When your spoon stands up, it is done.  Taste and season the rice with black pepper and stir through the chopped parsley.  This recipe serves four. Plate up and top each dish with the asparagus, grilled pancetta and Parmesan shavings.

This recipe is adapted from Jamie Cooks Italy and all I can say is wow, packed full of flavour, I think my tweaks to the original recipe and the addition of the toppings really made this a great bowl of comfort food, perfect for those chilly nights.  

Sunday, 21 October 2018



  • Handful of rocket salad
  • 400g  potatoes
  • 2 knobs of butter
  • Splash of milk
  • 50g pecorino or Parmesan cheese (grated)
  • Small piece of freshly grated horseradish
  • 2 large eggs
  • 50g of smoked pancetta
  • 70g coarse stale breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper

Peel and chop the potatoes and boil in a pan of salted water for around 15 minutes or until tender.  Drain and leave to steam dry in the pan.  Add a knob butter, splash of milk, horseradish and most of the cheese (reserve some for later).  Crack in the eggs, season and then mash away until you get a nice smooth mash and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.  Slice the pancetta and place in a cold 18cm non-stick ovenproof frying pan.  Heat the pan over a medium heat and when the pancetta starts to sizzle add the breadcrumbs, toss over the heat until crisp and golden and then mix into the mash.

Press the mash in to the frying pan, smoothing it out.  Fry over a medium heat for 5 minutes, loosen the edges with a spatula then lift slightly and pop the remaining knob of butter into the pan underneath.  Once melted, put a plate on top of the pan, carefully flip over and slip the rafanata back into the pan.  Bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until golden.  Place the rafanata onto a plate and top with the rocket salad and the remaining grated cheese. 

I served this with a couple of thinly sliced sirloin steaks, rocket and asparagus, however you can eat it with anything you fancy.  Whilst we enjoyed the dish I have to say it looked nothing like the picture in the cookbook, but still very tasty.

Recipe adapted from Jamie Cooks Italy.

Saturday, 6 October 2018

Festival of Sussex Gins 2018

Gin, gin and more gin, well Sussex gins to be exact, that was the promise, so did the Brighton GIN Club deliver?  In a word, yes, there were more Sussex based gin distillers than you could shake an empty Copa glass at!

All set for a busy gin festival

Having been to the festival the previous year I knew what to expect and given that this was going to be the largest festival of Sussex gins, I couldn’t wait.  This year the festival was held at the Clare Hall in Haywards Heath, a bigger venue, but rightly so as there was even more gin goodness to sample and buy.

There were 10 gin distillers at this event, which was once again sponsored by Fentimans who were showcasing some new tonic water flavours.

The distillers showcasing their gins this year were:-

  • Blackdown Distillery
  • Slake Spirits
  • Brighton Gin
  • Cabin Pressure Spirits
  • Mayfield Distilling Company
  • Chilgrove Gin Company
  • Chichester Harbour Gin
  • Generation Distillers
  • Harley House Distillery
  • Madam Jennifer Distillery

Of the distillers mentioned above a number of them were rather new to the gin scene, some having only started producing gin earlier in the year!  But hey, you can never have too much gin and it is always pleasing to see and taste new gins and as per last year, we were not disappointed.

Getting busy at Festival of Sussex Gins
The day was split into two sessions, an afternoon and an evening session where you had 3 hours to sample the gins, buy the gins and talk about gins to your hearts content.  Now I like to talk, so couple that with a bunch of passionate gin distillers and that 3 hours goes by in next to no time!

We once again got to meet the lovely Sarah from Blackdown who not only brought along her award winning Sussex dry gin, silver birch vodka, silver birch vermouth and elderberry liqueur, but she had new gins flavoured with tea, sage and bay.

Blackdowns range of gins and vodka

 All I can say is Sarah, you are definitely onto winners with all of these gins, they were Fabulous, yes, with a capital F, they were that good!

Thomas from Slake Spirits

The equally lovely Thomas from Slake Spirits did not disappoint, his gin, which is really smooth, and went down equally well in his Slake Gin Fitz cocktail.

Slake Gin Fitz cocktail

Fitz is a British sparkling wine, along the lines of a very good prosecco, but for obvious reasons they can’t call it prosecco and I will  be checking them out that’s for sure.

Brighton Gin and rock!

I must remember next time to sample the Brighton Gin with the pieces of Brighton Rock that Kathy was putting together, it looked rather good!

All in all it was a great way to spend a few hours doing what I love to do best, drink gin!  The new distillers all had great gins with the promise of new blends to come.

As always, Fentimans did not fail to disappoint with their array of mixers including their new offerings of Oriental Yuzo and Pink Rhubarb, all of which can lift the flavour of even the most uninspiring gin, I hasten to add that all the gins on offer were well and truly inspired, there definitely was no uninspiring going on in any shape or form or glass!

Just to say, if any of the fab distillers who made the event the success it was require any specific reviews of their gins, then please do get in touch, I will be more than happy to help you out, cough cough, nudge nudge 😉

Once again good value for money, £20 entry fee, a nice Copa gin glass along with goody bag including some of Fentimans new range, a small price to pay for a few hours of gin heaven.

Me and Jason of The Brighton Gin Club

For those of you new to The Brighton Gin Club, Jo and Jason as well as putting on wonderful gin festivals, also hold numerous other events in and around Brighton, including cheese tasting with gin pairings, charity events, gin tasting, basically anything to do with gin -  you get the picture!
Check them out at  for details of upcoming events.

In conjunction with one of the distillers from the day and RH Uncovered, we will be having a competition coming soon where one of you fab readers can win a bottle of gin so watch this space for more details.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Capacitea - To Tea or not to Tea?

Whether it be one lump or two, a splash of milk or a twist of lemon, there are many ways that people enjoy a cup of tea.  I was recently sent some tea to try by Capacitea, a London based company who offer a wide range of organic Chinese teabags and loose leaf teas which are sourced directly from tea plantations using only whole leaves and traditional methods of preparation to create a premium quality tea for you to enjoy. 

As well as a fine array of tea they have a great selection of modern Chinese tea ware and gift sets, which are ideal presents for those tea lovers in your life.
Want to save 30% on your tea order? Use discount code "boost" at checkout!

Capacitea - Dainty Maidens, Black Tea and Oriental Timelapse

Now, I will be the first to admit, I’m not a huge tea drinker so this most certainly was going to be an interesting experience for me!

Capacitea Chinese Black Tea

The first taster was of the Chinese Black Tea.  The tea was nicely packaged in a classic Chinese red coloured box with a nice fan shaped cutaway through which you could see the silken pyramids containing the tea leaves.  The tea itself hails from the Yunnan province of China and more information concerning the providence of the area is detailed on the box along with the brewing instructions, which are simple and easy to follow.

Capacitea Chinese Black Tea Silk Pyramid Bags

Having boiled my water to the desired temperature, placed my pyramid within my lovely glass tea cup which I had purchased especially for the occasion, I poured on the water and waited a couple of minutes for the tea to steep, then came the moment of truth.

Capacitea Chinese Black Tea

The tea itself had a good colour to it, clear, no floaters or bits having come through the pyramid, always a good start.  Now the packaging referred to the tea as having fruity, caramel and malty flavours which are balanced out with a light tannic finish.  I am clearly not a tea connoisseur but even I could smell and taste a touch of caramel and malt, the tea was light and refreshing with a good aroma.

Capacitea Chinese Black Tea

 Could this replace my morning cup of coffee?  You know what, I think it could!  Again, I don’t really drink tea but I think I could be onto a winner here.  Don’t be in a hurry to throw away your pyramid as it can be used several times as can the Blooming tea which I was also to sample next.

Capacitea Blooming Tea Blooms

I had been sent two types of Blooming tea to try, Oriental Timelapse, a mix of amaranth, marigold flower and tender green tea buds and Dainty Maidens which contained a mix of jasmine, chrysanthemum and green tea, all of which are skilfully woven together into a ball shaped bloom by experienced Chinese tea masters.  The blooms were contained within a slender re-sealable foil type pouch,  classic Chinese red on the front with a photograph showing the tea bloom and white on the back of the pouch where the brewing instructions were clearly detailed.  The pouches alone looked quite sophisticated so I was pretty eager to check these out.

Capacitea Blooming Tea - Oriental Timelapse

Now to appreciate the enjoyment of the flowering teas, Capacitea recommend using one of their 500m glass mugs, thankfully they sent me one which is handy as I don’t think my glass tea cup would have shown the tea to full affect!  Having boiled the water to the recommended temperature I allowed the Oriental Timelapse blooms to infuse for the required 4 minutes.

Capacitea Blooming Tea - Oriental Timelapse

I had initially thought the blooms would sit at the bottom of the mug but they float, as they slowly unfurl they sink to the bottom of the mug.  Now who would have thought sitting staring at a cup of tea for 4 minutes could be so entertaining, they really were stunning and impressive to watch as the beauty of the flowers was revealed with each passing moment.  I’m not sure if it was coincidental but the Oriental Timelapse bloom took exactly 4 minutes to reach the bottom of the mug!

Capacitea Blooming Tea - Oriental Timelapse

The Oriental Timelapse has a delicate scent which precedes a light plum taste which is completed with a touch of chrysanthemum, well, that’s what it said on the pouch.  I found it to have quite a strong aroma, much stronger than the black tea and also earthy, however the flavour itself was very light but got stronger as you neared the bottom of the mug, not having tried chrysanthemum before I couldn’t say whether the taste reflected that but it was pleasant enough.

Capacitea Blooming Tea - Dainty Maidens

The Dainty Maiden packaging refers to a delicate jasmine scent and again a light plum taste completed with a touch of chrysanthemum.  Of the two Blooming teas I found this the more refreshing and I could actually smell and taste a hint of jasmine (thankfully something I have come across before!).  It had a stronger flavour in comparison to the Oriental Timelapse and was my preferred tea out of the two.

Capacitea Blooming Tea - Dainty Maidens

The Blooming Tea is certainly a sight to behold and most definitely one of those teas you whip out when you have company, who wouldn’t fail to be wowed by such a beautiful looking mug of tea! In addition, even though the tea is brewing for 4 minutes, it doesn't develop that bitter taste that so many green teas can if left to steep - testament to the quality teas used.

On the whole, very impressed by the quality and flavour of the teas, my personal favourite however being the black tea, so light and refreshing, and given that the Chinese have been producing black tea for centuries, I think they have perfected the art by now.

If you are a lover of tea, be it black, green, white, yellow, Oolong, Dark, flowering, loose leaf or pyramid bag then Capacitea will have something to suit as well as some lovely items of tea ware.  Even if you are not a tea lover the chances are you know someone who is follow my link below and treat yourself or make an early start on the Christmas shopping.

Want to save 30% on your tea order? Use discount code "boost" at checkout!

 Visit Capacitea website

Monday, 17 September 2018

Festival of Sussex Gins

Festival of Sussex Gins is Back!
Following the roaring success of last years Festival of Sussex Gins those lovely people from Brighton Gin Club are holding another one, this time it promises to be the worlds biggest celebration of Sussex gin producers.

 This year they are coming out of Brighton and will be holding the event in Clair Hall, Haywards Heath on Saturday, 29th September 2018.  Clair Hall is perfectly situated right next door to the train station so there is no excuse not to sample all that gin goodness. There are two session times - 1pm to 4pm and 6pm to 9pm

Head over to the website to book your tickets at and as a little thank you from our friends Jason and Jo use the code 'ILoveGin' and receive 25% off.

Given how great last years event was you will definitely enjoy it, hope to see you there.  

Cheers... Mark

Jo and Jason of Sussex Gin Club

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Steak with a beetroot salad and horseradish cream

Steak with a beetroot salad and horseradish cream

  • 2 sirloin steaks
  • Handful of cooked baby beetroot, halved
  • Handful of baby plum tomatoes, halved
  • Salad of choice
  • 2 tbsp finely grated horseradish
  • 125g sour cream
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • Few glugs of Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Olive oil

Combine the sour cream, horseradish, lemon juice and a few grinds of black pepper and set aside.  You can check how hot the horseradish is and if you fancy it hotter add another tablespoon.

Heat a frying pan over a medium heat.  Drizzle a small amount of olive oil over each side of the steak and rub in (a pastry brush is good for this) and add a few grinds of fresh black pepper and sea salt.  Add the steaks to the pan and cook for several minutes on each side, obviously longer depending how you like your steak.  When turning the steak over I add a few glugs of Worcestershire which combined with the juices from the steak makes a nice little gravy to drizzle over the cooked steak.

Once the steak is cooked, set aside and leave to rest for a few minutes.  Place your salad onto your plates, add the beetroot and tomatoes and dollop over the horseradish cream.  Add the steak to the plate and drizzle on some of the cooking juices and you are set to go!

This is a cracking dish and so simple as well.  I used chilli infused beetroot and a hot and spicy salad mix, so with the horseradish this dish had a good kick which we love.  Again, use what salad you like and plain beetroot works just as well, enjoy.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Lemon & coriander chicken with a chorizo and white bean salad

Lemon & coriander chicken with a chorizo and white bean salad
  • 2 chicken breasts (butterflied and cut into strips)
  • 2 handfuls chopped coriander 
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/2 tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • Couple handfuls of chopped chorizo
  • 250g cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 red onion, finely sliced
  • Bag of rocket salad (or salad of choice)
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp Dijon mustard

Place the chopped chicken into a tupperware container (or suitable bowl/dish), add the garlic, one handful of chopped coriander and the lemon juice, mix together and leave in the fridge for an hour to marinade.

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees (fan assisted) or 200 for regular ovens.  Line a baking tray with foil and cook the chicken for around 20 minutes or until cooked through.  

Put the olive oil, vinegar, mustard and remaining coriander into a bowl and whisk together until combined (it should look thick and glossy).  

Heat a non stick frying pan over a medium heat, fry the chorizo for several minutes until the oils are released then add the beans and cook for a further ten minutes, then turn the heat right down until the chicken has cooked (you want to keep the beans and chorizo warm until ready to serve).

Divide your salad leaves between two plates, top with the chicken, tomatoes and onion.  Spoon over the chorizo and bean mix and drizzle the dressing over the finished dish.

Whilst it's getting a bit cooler for salads, this dish hits the spot, the chicken, chorizo and beans really lifts it up, you can enjoy with some nice crusty bread and salted butter!

Sunday, 2 September 2018

Chorizo, beans & eggs

Chorizo, beans & eggs

  • Handful of chopped chorizo
  • 1/2 pepper finely diced
  • Half a small chilli, finely diced (optional)
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 slices of toasted bread
  • Half tin of cannellini beans (drained and rinsed)
  • Splash of white wine vinegar

Pre heat a small frying pan on the hob, add the chorizo, peppers and chilli and fry for a few minutes until the oils are released from the chorizo.  Whilst doing this bring a medium sized pan of water to a rolling boil.  Add the beans to the frying pan and mix through, the oils will colour the beans and add plenty of flavour, continue to cook for several mi Utes to ensure the beans are heated through.

Add a splash of white wine vinegar to the pan of boiling water and tip the eggs in, cook for 3 minutes and remove with a slotted spoon and place onto a piece of kitchen roll in order to absorb any excess water.  Place your toast onto a plate, top with the chorizo and bean mix and place your poached egg on top. 

This is perfect for breakfast or brunch, obviously alter the amount of ingredients depending on how many you are cooking for and leave out the chilli if you prefer it less spicy.  You can omit the bread and replace with hash browns or rather than a poached egg add fried or scrambled eggs, the choice is yours.

Monday, 20 August 2018

Quick roasted tomato pasta sauce

Quick roasted tomato pasta sauce
  • 3lb cherry tomatoes
  • 60 ml olive oil (plus few teaspoons extra)
  • Small handful of basil leaves
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 large bulbs of garlic, minced
  • Salt and ground black pepper
  • Large handful of sliced olives
  • Large handful of finely ground Parmesan cheese

Preheat the oven to 140 degrees (fan assisted) or 160 normal.  Line two baking trays with tin foil and divide the tomatoes between the tins. 

 Drizzle over a little olive oil and ensure the tomatoes get coated then roast in the oven for around 30-40 minutes.  

The tomatoes by this time will have burst the skins and start to shrivel.  Remove the tomatoes from the oven and set aside.  

In a large heavy bottomed pan heat 60ml of olive oil and then fry the onion and garlic for a few minutes until the onion has sweated out (looks a little see through).  

Add the tomatoes along with any juice collected on the trays (careful tipping these in, it can get messy).  Season with salt and pepper, add the herbs and mix thoroughly.  

Turn the heat down to low, partially cover the pan and leave the tomatoes to simmer away for an hour or so, stirring occasionally.

Once cooked, leave the tomatoes to cool down somewhat then either place the mix into a blender and blend or use a stick blender and blend the tomatoes in the pan (which is easier and saves on some washing up!).  

Leave the sauce to cool completely and then add the olives and Parmesan cheese.  We only put the olives and cheese in at this stage as we want to keep the olives chunky and also we don't want the cheese to melt into hot sauce!

This sauce will be perfect with the pasta of your choice, however I would recommend conchiglie rigate or penne pasta as the sauce is quite thick and will cling to the pasta.  The sauce will keep in the fridge for several days but making this sort of volume, keep some to one side to use now and then freeze the rest in small containers.  

For this recipe I used mainly my home grown cherry tomatoes but also topped them up with some baby plum tomatoes.  The sauce should look quite creamy and thick, if a bit thick for your liking you can always water it down slightly with some vegetable stock.  I hope you enjoy...

The final dish! I used conchiglie rigate pasta and added chorizo and black olives  

Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Iskender Kebab

Iskender Kebab

  • 3 white tortilla wraps
  • 2 rib-eye steaks (or steak of preference)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 30g butter
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 1/2 tsp Turkish pepper flakes
  • 130g Greek yoghurt
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Handful of rocket leaves

Roll the wraps up and cut them onto a serving dish in thin strips, about 0.5cm.

Heat griddle pan over a high heat. Season the steaks with salt and pepper and rub the sides with a little oil.  Cook for around 3 minutes each side or longer if you don't want your steak quite so rare.  Place the cooked steaks on top of the cut wraps and cover with cling film for 5 minutes to rest.

Put the butter, tomato purée, pepper flakes and a pinch of salt into a pan and mix well.  Heat over a medium heat until melted.

Put the yoghurt, garlic, lemon juice and a pinch of salt into a mixing bowl and combine.

Slice up the steak and return it to the wraps. Dollop over the yoghurt and drizzle the hot tomato sauce over everything and top with a handful of rocket leaves.

I served this with some Halloumi fries and boy did we enjoy it.  I do recommend you serve this straight away as the steak gets cold very quickly.  I can see this recipe adapted using differently seasoned chicken as well, it would work just as well.  The Turkish pepper flakes I found online on Amazon, have yet to find them in a supermarket! This recipe was adapted slightly from Turkish Delights by John Gregory-Smith.