Thursday, 17 November 2011


On Sunday one of my best friends in the whole world turned 25 and I was too busy working at Masterchef Live to go to lunch with her or even just give her a big birthday hug...quite a feat considering I live with the girl!

I tried to make her forget what a bad friend I am by making her a cake, and I’m thinking it might have sort of worked. The inspiration for this cake came from the front cover of the beautiful Miette cookbook. They are a bakery based in San Francisco which, by the looks of things, I would love. Sadly I have no immediate plans (or funds) to jet off to The Land of Opportunity, so this is about as close as I can get for now. You can check out the website of this gorgeous bakery here -
On a more selfish note, not only was it very naughty of me to miss the celebrations, but I was also a bit miffed as they went to the, supposedly, very cool SEVEN in Brixton Market. I will have to investigate this place in due course...

I must also take this opportunity now to say that another of my lovely friends and housemates, Jess, also turned 25 last week. Here are the beautiful birthday girls at SEVEN...

Thursday, 3 November 2011


Pilau Rice

When the Autumn starts closing in and you have to start taking your woolies out of storage, there are two realistic options: 1. Embrace the cold and hope that your winter coat won’t have been attacked by the moths, or 2. Pack your bags and head off somewhere hot to try and put off the inevitable for as long as possible. I chose the latter and I write this having just returned from Zanzibar.
Zanzibar is a stunning island just off the coast from (but still part of) Tanzania. As promised in the guide books, it was hot, fascinating and absolutely beautiful. Being a small island with a vast amo9unt of fishing boats and access to a pretty impressive array of marine life, we ate nothing but fish for two weeks and I was in heaven. Zanzibar is known as “The Spice Island”, and the flavours in the food rarely disappointed. We even visited a spice farm to see where and how everything grows; that was a particularly interesting and smelly (in a good way) day.
I won’t bore you / show off about all of the amazing things that I ate whilst I holidayed, but I did want to share just a little recipe that was taught to me by a local lady in her own home. Ben, my holidaying partner, and I stayed in a lovely little guesthouse in Paje where they offered a “traditional Swahili cookery course” for 10,000 Tanzanian shillings, which is about £3.50. Bargain.
This was not some big tourist operation, this was just the initiative of the owner of our guesthouse to try and encourage tourists to contribute more to the local community. This made it all the more special as we walked to one of the local villages and were welcomed into a private home, complete with visiting relatives, little children everywhere and very suspect loo!
We chose to cook spiced pilau rice with chicken, a local favourite that is eaten on special occasions. This I have not yet tried to recreate at home but I will faithfully tell you what our “instructor” showed us. Please note, she cooked in quantities that would feed a small army and these are what I relate to you now:

1 bag of white rice (I’d hazard a guess she used about 2 lbs)
3 medium white potatoes
3 red onions, finely sliced
1 small bulb garlic
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
2 small handfuls of cardamom pods
1 small handful of green pepper corns
3 small handfuls of cumin seeds
600 ml good chicken stock
Some pre cooked chicken, ideally from a small roasted chicken
1 ½ litres cold water
Coarse salt
Vegetable oil for frying

1. Peel the cloves of garlic and in a pestle and mortar (or food processor) blend the garlic with a little of the onion and some salt.
2. Heat around 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a very large saucepan and add the sliced onions. When these are soft, add the garlic paste and stir.
3. In the pestle and mortar, grind the cardamom pods with the cinnamon and add to the onions and garlic. Stir, and continue to fry on a medium heat.
4. Cube the potatoes into largeish chunks, add to the pan and stir.
5. Fry the mixture for a minute or two as you stir and then add the chicken stock. Stir well and then add all of the water and bring to the boil.
6. When the water has just started to boil, wash the rice and add to the pan and allow it to simmer for 10-15 minutes (or as long as it takes) until the rice is soft and the water is almost completely gone. Of course, add more water if necessary.
7. Add the cooked chicken to the rice, stir, cover the dish and place in a low oven (about 150 degrees) for 30 minutes. She used an “Indian Oven” by surrounding the pan with red hot coals which gradually cooled.
8. Remove the pan from the oven and serve with a fresh side salad. We had sliced carrot, tomato and onion.

An Indian Oven in all its glory!

A full Lucy tries to decide the best way to roll home...

Monday, 17 October 2011

Namaaste Kitchen, Camden

Lamb Chops with Papaya and Ginger Spiced Marinade

Every now and then I really need a bit of spice in my life and at these times I try and get myself down to an Indian restaurant sharpish! I pretty much have the same things every time, a nice chicken Rogan Josh, and it tends to hit the spot quite nicely. But, since visiting India in 2009, I realised quite quickly that there is a lot more to Indian food than just curries and in fact that most restaurants in India don’t serve the staples that sit on the menus in Indian takeaways across the UK. I obviously generalise hugely, and this was made very apparent to me when I went to Namaaste Kitchen a couple of weeks ago with a friend and was delighted to see a broad menu that offered much more interesting Indian food than just curries. (Quick side note: Although it does do takeaways, the restaurant is buzzy and fun and the staff are so friendly and helpful that I would recommend sitting down if possible!)
Luckily, although we took ages to decide what to get, we were given some popadoms and sauces to eat whilst we mulled over the menu. I always appreciate a freebie so thought it was worth mentioning! My friend, still finding it too hard to decide what he wanted to eat, asked the waiter to recommend some dishes and he was certainly not disappointed when his food came because the jumbo Tandoori prawns he had for a starter were delicious. He went on to have a Lamb Biryani but that was sort of blurred out for me because I was simultaneously eating some of the best lamb chops I have ever had in my life. It said that they were tender on the menu, but the chops were SO tender that I had a hard time believing they were chops! They were also marinated beautifully in “fresh ginger paste, raw papaya & selected herbs and spices”, which complimented the flavour of the lamb perfectly. 
We went on to have some perfectly nice puddings but, as I think you can guess, the thing that really stood out for me was the lamb chops, simply because I have made lamb chops hundreds of times and never, ever have they tasted quite as good as those I had at Namaaste Kitchen. My dad, the world’s foremost lamb chop fanatic, would have been mightily impressed with these chops and although I have tried to recreate them for him, he is under strict instruction to get himself to Namaaste Kitchen and try them first hand. Honestly, my recipe (below) does not do them justice, but hopefully it will provide you with some inspiration on how to tart up this old favourite…

2 large lamb chops
½ papaya, cubed
2cm ginger, grated
1 tsp garam masala
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp hot chilli powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Ground nut oil for frying

1. Cube the papaya half and pour into a medium oven proof dish.
2. Grate the ginger into the bowl and mash with a fork.
3. Add the cumin, chilli powder, garam masala, salt and pepper and mix.
4. Add the chops, cover and chill for an hour.
5. Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees. Heat up a little oil in a large frying pan until very hot and cook the lamps chops for about 3 minutes on each side, until brown.
6. Return the chops to the dish and make sure that they are well covered with the papaya and ginger paste.
7. Place the dish in the oven for 30 minutes, turning after 15 minutes and ensuring they are well covered by the marinade.
8. Remove from the oven and serve with a side dish of your choice. I would recommend steamed English greens and mange tout for a light meal.

The chops should be really tender and packed with flavour and the remaining marinade can be used as a delicious sauce. I also used the other half of the papaya to make a spicy chutney to go on the side, by adding a little water, 2 tablespoons of white wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, a little finely chopped ginger, salt pepper and chilli powder to taste and cooking for around 20  minutes on  low heat.

Total cost of ingredients: £7.75 (I already had the spices and oil)
This should serve 1-2 people depending on how hungry you are.

Finally I do apologise that this isn’t the most attractive dish...sometimes you just have to accept that a chop will never sit neatly on a plate! Regard the picture above (made at the reestaurant) and I think you'll understand why, aesthetically, mine doesn't quite live up to expectations.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

The Ship Inn, Porthleven

Crab Thermidor

I have just returned from a long weekend in Cornwall with my family, to the same place we have been going for 20 years. It never seems to change and I can still muster (almost) the same level of excitement about jumping into the ice cold sea as I did when I was seven! It is absolutely my favourite place in the world and, as ever, it broke my heart to leave (check out the picture below and I think you'll unnderstand what I mean!). This year though, I plan to bring the best bits back with me and in this case the number one best bit was the crab thermidor that I had at The Ship Inn in Porthleven.

We always walk the five miles to Porthleven from our house to make up for the fact that we are going to be truly glutinous at the other end! Although the menu at The Ship is quite broad, for us Pedders, there are only two choices; crab thermidor or crab an prawn mornay.

Having made a mental note to self that I had had the mornay last year, I decided to “branch out” and get the thermidor this year. Both are delicious and almost impossible to choose between, but the thermidor was so packed with fresh Cornish crab and the sauce was so mild and creamy, that I certainly didn’t regret my choice which is quite something for me as I am prone to suffer from extreme food envy!

I know that a big part of the flavour in these dishes comes from the fact that the crab is barely out of the sea, but you can buy good quality crab at the fish counter in supermarkets nowadays and I really think that the only thing to snap me out of my holiday blues is to have a bash at this thermidor and dream myself back there...


500g white crab meat
Knob of butter
1 shallot, finely chopped
100ml single cream
50ml water
1teaspoon whole grain mustard
2tablespoons chopped parsley
2teaspoons lemon juice
Grated cheese (something mild like gruyere or edam)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. For the sauce, put the butter in a pan, add the shallots and cook until softened. Add the wine, water and single cream and bring to the boil. Reduce by approximately half.
  2. Add the mustard, herbs, lemon juice and seasoning and stir.
  3. Pre-heat the grill.
  4. Put the crab meat in an oven proof dish so that it covers the bottom and there is a healthy layer. Spoon the sauce over the crab meat and sprinkle with the grated cheese. Place the dish under the grill until the cheese is golden brown.
  5. Serve with crusty bread to mop up the sauce.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Roast Chicken & Radicchio Salad in Yogurt Dressing

Part 1: A Nice Summery Salad...

Friday was a lovely day. It was warm, summery and the day before the weekend, but most importantly it was my day off. Not just a day of holiday either but a bonus day; a day in lieu. Sometimes working overtime really does pay off!

I had persuaded my mum to go with me to Petersham Nurseries for coffee and a cake as I had heard such good things about it and really thought I better go and see what the fuss was about. By the time we had arrived though, it was very nearly one o’clock and it seemed a shame to just have cake when it was so clearly lunch time! For matters of time and budget we opted for the tearoom over the café, which serves up seasonal light lunches of salads, quiches and charcuterie. We sat in their conservatory / greenhouse on carefully chosen mismatched chairs and tables, which offers a very laid back and attractive dining room. The tearoom is self service and the selection on the menu is limited but, as we discovered later, this really doesn’t matter when everything tastes so good! We opted for a three different salads for £12.95; chicken with radicchio in a yogurt and cumin dressing, grilled aubergine and tomatoes and yellow and green courgettes in a very garlicky dressing. My mum’s only adventurous difference was to swap the courgettes for tomato and mozzarella.

If anything should be said about this lunch of ours, it is this: good quality ingredients can make even the simplest things taste good. The mozzarella was like no mozzarella I have had for a very long time (if ever). The vegetables were so bursting with flavour that it was somehow OK to have a salad of just two different coloured courgettes. I can only imagine that the veggies are grown on site and I would urge people to go to Petersham Nurseries, if only to understand the importance of good quality produce!

I suppose the stand out dish was the chicken and radicchio salad. Slightly more complex in its makeup, this was the only one of the salads to be served separately as a main course in its own right. Both my mum and I said that we would love to try and make it again and both of us have tried, with varying degrees of success (!). We have struggled a bit with the recipe(How is the yogurt so thin yet not obviously thinned out by anything? and, How can we avoid this just being a bit like Coronation Chicken? but most importantly, Where do I find radicchio??), but finally I have a recipe that I am happy with, although not pretending it is nearly as good as theirs, and I present it to you now. As I was completely unable to find radicchio, I have used crunchy little gem lettuce and red chicory so that I still have the lovely colour of the red against the creamy yogurt dressing. If you don’t like the bitter taste of chicory, then shredded red cabbage will do just as well:


1 small roasted chicken
200g natural yogurt (not fat free)
2 little gem lettuces - torn
3 red chicory or half a small red cabbage – shredded
2 tablespoons semi-skimmed milk
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 – 2 tablespoons chopped mint
2 teaspoons cumin

1.       Roast the chicken as per the instructions and leave to cool. Once cooled, remove all the meat from the chicken and tear or chop this into bite size pieces.
2.       Pour the yogurt into a large bowl. Whisk as you slowly add the olive oil and then the milk until the yogurt is thinned and rich.
3.       Add the cumin, mint and salad leaves and mix.
4.       Add the chicken and mix until everything is combined and covered in the yogurt dressing.
5.       Serve with bread and extra salad leaves if desired.

Total cost of ingredients: £10.40 (I already had cumin and olive oil)

This should serve 4-6 people which I think makes it quite a bargain!

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Madsen, South Kensington

Roll Mop Herrings & Dill Potatoes

A couple of weeks ago we (me and Ben) went to Madsen for supper, a lovely little restaurant in South Kensington that serves up a mix of “modern Nordic dishes” as well as some of those old Scandinavian favourites. I wasn’t exactly sure what that meant either but Ben was adamant that we try something new, having just interviewed Tom Kevill-Davies (The Hungry Cyclist) and discussed how he had just sampled cuisines from A-Z in restaurants around London. Madsen was his Danish addition and it happened to be just around the corner from Ben’s office, so along we went.
Having been looking forward to something a bit different, I ended up choosing an old favourite; thick bacon with creamy parsley sauce. I haven’t had this since I was little girl and I couldn’t resist it! Although delicious, it doesn’t really fit in with my plan of trying new and exciting things so I’m going to gloss over that and talk about my starter instead; rollmop herrings with dill potatoes. I’d never had rollmops before but I certainly have since! The starter was delicious and if my recreation is even a fraction as good then I will be very happy:
6 – 8 large new potatoes
2 heaped tablespoons crème fraiche
1 heaped teaspoon English mustard
1 teaspoon lemon juice
Healthy bunch of chopped dill
250g or a small jar of rollmop herrings (3-4 per person)
Handful of finely sliced radishes
Dried cranberries
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1.       Scrub the new potatoes and cook until soft.
2.       Drain the potatoes, allow them to cool and then neatly cube to about 1 ½ cm width
3.       Mix the potatoes, crème fraiche, mustard, dill and lemon juice in a bowl until the potatoes are entirely covered. Season with salt and pepper.
4.       Heat some vegetable oil (about a cm deep) in a pan and when very hot, add a handful of dried cranberries. Fry for a couple of minutes and then lift out and place on kitchen roll to get rid of the excess oil.
5.       The presentation is down to you. I like to make a bed of watercress, pile the potato salad in the middle and heap with 3 to 4 pieces of rollmop. Top with the radish and cranberries and finish with a grind of black pepper and sprinkle of chopped dill.

Total Cost of Ingredients:             £7.46

This should serve two people for a light meal; I hope you enjoy! The cranberries are sweet and chewy and contrast the creamy, sharp potatoes and the bitter watercress very nicely. The herrings hold their own amongst these flavours and, to my mind, the whole thing is really quite nice!

If you want to read more of The Hungry Cyclist’s inspiring words, you can visit him at:

Sunday, 24 July 2011

And so we begin...

My name is Lucy Pedder and I’m 24 years old. I am London born and bred and currently reside in Hammersmith with three wonderful friends. I come from a family of five daughters and two greedy dogs and food has always been a huge part of my life. I love cooking it and I love eating it and, living in London, I have the opportunity to try all kinds of foods just by stepping out of my front door. Lucky me!

So, what I want to do is simple. I will be sampling the delights of London’s finest restaurants, food markets, kebab shops, bars, dining rooms...and reporting back to whoever is interested. Then, for those of you who don’t have the means to get to said restaurants, food markets etc. I am going to try and recreate the best of what I ate in my little kitchen. Bearing in mind I will be on a bit of a tight budget(!), my recipes will always aim to be no more than £10 a head, which means that there is no excuse for you people not to give them a go!

I suppose that pretty much sums it all up from me and anyway, all this talk is making me hungry, I think I’ll just go down the road for a bite of lunch...