Churros y chocolate

When I went to Wahaca for lunch last month I was bitterly disappointed not to have enough stomach space for the churros y chocolate. So, logically, I decided to make them at home and, continuing with the Latin American theme of my last post, I thought I’d share them with you (obviously when I say “share”, I mean the photos, ‘cos the churros were devoured within mere seconds of being fried).

The first time I had churros was at Disney Land when I was about 7. In true American fashion they were HUGE (at least it seemed that way :p), and I can remember the light airy pastry which just disappeared in the mouth, still warm and covered with crunchy cinnamon sugar. Oh man, now I want more churros!


220ml water
85g unsalted butter
2 eggs
105g flour
A pinch of salt
Vegetable oil for deep frying

A large bar of your favourite dark/milk chocolate, melted
Cinnamon and sugar mixture (the ratio depends entirely on your taste)


  1. Cut the butter into small pieces.
  2. Place the water, salt and butter into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Once boiling, remove from the heat and mix in the sifted flour.
  3. Return to the heat and mix until the mixture no longer sticks to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly before adding the eggs one by one until a smooth and shiny pastry forms.
  5. Place the mixture into a piping bag with a medium sized star nozzle.
  6. Fill a heavy-based saucepan about one  third full with vegetable oil and heat to 170c (or until a small drop of the pastry browns within 30 seconds).
  7. Pipe the churros into the hot oil, using scissors to cut the pastry to the length you want. Fry for 3-4 minutes until crispy and golden brown.
  8. Remove from the oil using a slotted spoon and drain on a piece of kitchen paper before rolling in the cinnamon and sugar mixture.
  9. Serve whilst still warm, accompanied by a pot of melted chocolate.

Chicken Empanadas

Empanadas are a type of stuffed pastry which is popular in South America. I think almost every country has their own version of this dish (think Cornish pasties from England, curry puffs from Singapore/Malaysia, jiaozi from China, stromboli from the US, calzone from Italy).

This particular recipe features the Peruvian version of empanadas which is unique in that it is served with a sprinkling of icing sugar.


For the dough:
500g plain flour
10g salt
30g caster sugar
125g lard at room temperature
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
2 egg yolks
170ml Warm milk
1 egg

For the filling:
350g minced or finely diced chicken
50ml vegetable oil
2 onions
1 clove of garlic
1 bay leaf
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp oregano
2 boiled eggs

To serve:
Icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 200c.

  1. Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the centre and add the egg yolks, warm milk, salt, sugar, vanilla essence and lard.
  2. Work the mixture with your hands until a dough is formed.
  3. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead until it becomes smooth. Place into a clean bowl, cover with cling film and allow to rest for 30-40mins.
  4. Whilst resting the dough, peel and dice the onions and garlic. Cut the boiled eggs into small pieces. Heat the oil in a large pan and when it starts smoking add the chicken and fry until it starts to brown.
  5. Add the onions, garlic and spices to the pan and fry for a further 10 mins. Then add the chopped boiled eggs and salt and pepper. Allow the filling to cool.
Assembling the empanadas:
  1. Divide the dough into 8 equal portions and shape into balls. On a lightly floured surface roll each ball into a flat circular shape approximately 4mm thick. 

2. Place 2-3 tablespoons of the filling into the centre of the dough and brush a little water around the edge.

3. Fold the dough in half over the filling to form a semicircle and make sure you press the edges down to seal them.

4. Fold the edge back over itself to completely seal it, and use your fingers to fold and crimp the edges further to create a braid-like effect.

5. Place the empanadas onto a baking sheet and brush with an egg wash.

6. Bake for about 15 mins, until golden brown. Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or cold with a few drops of lemon juice.

Pan-fried salmon with Fennel and Black Olive Salsa

A couple of days ago I was over at L’atelier des Chefs in Marylebone (again!) to help them out with the filming of a new promotional video. I got to take part in one of their half hour lunch time classes, taught by Head Chef Andre Dupin (who you may have seen in the Metro recently). We cooked pan-fried salmon with a fennel and black olive salsa. It was so quick and easy to make, and the results were absolutely delicious.

Ingredients (for 6 people):

6 salmon fillets
500g new potatoes
Handful of flat leaf parsley
2 whole spring onions
100g black olives
1 bulb of garlic
1 red chilli
1 lemon
Olive oil
2 whole fennel
Sunflower oil
Salt to season


  1. Cook the potatoes in salted water. Bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and then cook until tender.
  2. Finely slice the spring onions and roughly chop the parsley.
  3. Finely dice the red chilli, garlic and the black olives. Squeeze the juice from the lemon.
  4. Cut the fennel in half and remove the tough core. Use a mandolin to cut the fennel into fine slices. Season with salt and leave to wilt.
  5. Heat a frying pan until hot and a little sunflower oil or vegetable oil. Season the fish with salt and cook in the pan skin side down until browned and crisp. Turn the fish onto each side to colour until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. Whilst the fish is cooking, crush the potatoes with a fork and add the parsley and spring onions. Season with salt and pepper and add some olive oil.
  7. In a bowl mix the olives with the garlic and chilli. Add a squeeze of lemon juice and some olive oil to form a salsa. Dress the fennel with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.
  8. To serve fill a stainless steel serving ring with the crushed potatoes. Carefully remove  the serving ring and place the fish on top of the potatoes. Top with some of the wilted fennel and finish the plate with the black olive salsa.

Dinner at Ceviche

This is Ceviche in a nutshell (mainly because I left my phone and camera at home on the night and therefore have no pretty photos to distract you from my rather mediocre writing skills :p).

Ceviche is a newly opened Peruvian restaurant in Soho. Peruvian cuisine seems to be growing as the flavour of the moment on the London food trend scene and it’s about time seeing as this city is severely lacking in quality South American food.

The restaurant is named after one of Peru’s signature dishes, and so the menu boasts a variety of ceviche dishes (raw fish marinaded in lime juice and garnished with onions, chillies and other ingredients). Embarrassingly we did not order ceviche as the only Peruvian in our party, and therefore by default our food guide for the evening, is not a fan. :(

The pisco bar ia the main feature of this quirky establishment and when you first walk into this weirdly long restaurant you hit the narrow bar area, full of people drinking and chatting against a backdrop of vintage Peruvian posters. The restaurant itself is dimly lit,  saloon-like and with a noisy, bustling ambience which I would like to think is reminiscent of a night out in Lima. We ordered a round of chilcanos (pisco quebranta, ginger ale, lime and amargo chuncho bitters [and no, I don’t know what half of those ingredients actually are!]). In short: light, sweet and refreshing.

Ceviche’s menu succeeds in presenting the best of Peruvian cuisine and adapting it for a London market in the form of street food-style tapas (whilst [perhaps wisely] leaving out delicacies such as whole roasted guinea pig and tripe stew). Being tapas, the portions are small and each cost £5-10, so things can get a little pricey. However, the food is absolutely top-notch.

We ordered:

Cancha- crunchy Peruvian corn- a moreish traditional bar snack
Yucas- fried cassava with Huancaina saucesweet, crisp and fried to perfection
Top rump marinated in aji pancha chilli sauce with fried potato slices X2- we ordered this twice, what more do I have to say.  
Braised octopus marinated in aji pancha chilli sauce and corianderimpossibly fresh, meaty, tender chunks of octopus, I think I dreamt of this dish last night
Arroz con pato- confit duck in coriander and dark beer rice with aji amarillo chilli

If I had one complaint about Ceviche is would be that some of the portions are a liiiittle small, even for tapas, and definitely small for the price. Service was friendly, albeit a bit slow, but I would put that down to simple opening night disorganisation.

In a nutshell Ceviche is a fresh, new restaurant which creates a fun and vibrant atmosphere to showcase some amazing Peruvian dishes. The food we ordered was delicious and I would thoroughly recommend going there , although be prepared to pay about £30-£35 per head excluding drinks.

A Mother’s Day Tea Party

Vanilla shortbreads with strawberries and clotted cream

“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavour by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” – Washington Irving

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY to all mothers!

Here are some photos from our Mother’s Day tea party:

Bacon and roasted pepper sweet rolls; egg mayonnaise seeded buns

Mini Victoria sponge cakes

Brunch at The Breakfast Club

I have been meaning to go to The Breakfast Club for a good few years and finally managed to make some time.

They serve a good selection of delicious brunch dishes until 5pm as well as lunch and dinner.  They have 5 locations around London, each of them quite small and decorated with all sorts of quirky items. From what I have heard from friends, The Breakfast Clubs at all locations are pretty packed at weekends, so expect queues to get a table.

The food is worth the wait though. My dining companion had a stack of fluffy American pancakes with generous dollops of cream, maple syrup and a handful of fresh berries. And of course I took the less healthy option of the All American; crispy bacon, sausages, pancakes, maple syrup, scrambled eggs and hash browns. With dishes like this you just have to turn a blind eye and enjoy the grease. And enjoy the grease I did.
(One minor gripe- the hash browns were not actually hash browns….they were just pan-fried, seasoned potato pieces.)

For the health conscious there is a selection of mueslis, yoghurts and porridge with a variety of toppings. And for the vegetarians out there, do not worry, there is much on the menu for you too.

The Breakfast Club
33 D’Arblay Street, W1F 8EU

Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road

10 Recipes in 8 Hours: A Day Filming with Videojug

Last Friday I found myself at the Videojug studios accompanying my good friend Chef Fabricio as he recorded a series of ten “How To” videos, centring around Latin American cuisine.

Of course I was roped into helping to prepare the ingredients for filming (cue chopping chorizo, washing mussels and dissolving stock cubes :p) and also setting up the kitchen between recipes. Believe me when I say there’s nothing more confusing than preparing the ingredients for ten separate dishes in an hour and then trying to keep track of them all!

The videos will be released on the Videojug website in approximately 6 weeks, but until then I will be sharing some of the delicious recipes which Fabricio cooked on the day, so keep an eye out for new posts :)

And in the meantime here are a few photo highlights from the day:

Giving snack food some stick | Life and style |

Image taken from

I have made cake pops before. Admittedly they were nowhere near as pretty as the ones in the photo above. But even so throughout the process I couldn’t help but think that they’re overrated. Essentially they are cake crumbs, stuck together with icing and coated in chocolate before being painstakingly decorated or shaped into different novelty figures. What you’re left with is a rather sickeningly sweet cake which has taken so much time and effort to decorate that you no longer want to eat it.

The increasing obsession with cake pops almost certainly does not come from the taste, but from the fact that they are tiny balls of cake…on sticks. Food on sticks is fun and somehow makes it instantly cuter, but I’m not convinced, especially as we see more and more “food on sticks” trends emerging. Considering my opinions on cake pops and other edible items on sticks, I read this article with interest.

Homemade Kaya Toast

My friend Hannah was brave enough to make her own kaya, and then generous enough to bring it to church for all of us to try. :) Thanks Hannah!

For those of you who aren’t familiar with kaya, it is a coconut jam flavoured with pandan leaves which is popular in Southeast Asia. This iconic dish has been called the breakfast staple of Singapore and leaves in its wake coffee shops all over Singapore fighting for the highly subjective and unofficial title of “Best Kaya Toast“.

I was super impressed with Hannah’s home made kaya. It tasted exactly like the kaya that you can buy in Singapore, and even tasted much, much better than many brands that I’ve tried. An even bigger plus is that it is so easy to make. I had no idea that there were so few processes involved and even fewer ingredients! Perhaps the only difficult part is that whilst it cooks, the mixture has to be stirred constantly for about one hour to prevent it from burning. :s But if you have a bread maker with a jam setting you can let it do all the hard work for you. :p

The recipe she used is adapted from The Lazy Chef. If you are thinking of trying to make kaya yourself you should check out this blog as it provides a lot of information and troubleshooting information which I will not repeat here.


(makes approximately 2-2.5 cups worth)

2 cups coconut milk
7 large eggs
2 cups sugar
20-25 pandan leaves (washed and dried)


  1. Tie the pandan leaves into bundles (about 5 leaves per bundle).
  2. Lightly beat the eggs until just mixed.
  3. Place coconut milk, eggs, sugar and pandan leaves into a pan and boil for approximately one hour, stirring constantly.
  4. When thickened, cool the mixture and remove pandan leaves.
  5. Pour mixture into a blender and blend lightly until any lumps are broken down and the kaya is smooth.

Pandan Chiffon Cupcakes

Voila! Pandan cupcakes!

Pandan, or screwpine is a plant used widely in Asia to flavour dishes. It produces a kind of nutty flavour which goes very well with coconut. If you’re wondering what kind of dishes use pandan, I suspect I may be entering into a pandan-crazy phase so don’t be surprised if I now make a whole host of dishes containing pandan :)

When I was younger we would visit the Chinese supermarket and I would always try to slip a pandan cake into the basket without it being noticed. The cake is a chiffon cake which makes it impossibly soft and moist and needless to say that this moreish snack never lasted more than a day in my house. I distinctly remember either breaking off small pieces and savouring every melting mouthful, or competing with my brother to see how much we could squeeze into our mouths at a time (disgusting I know :p)

So when a friend of mine gave me some pandan leaves she had left over from making kaya (there will be a post on this later), the first thing that popped into my mind was pandan cake. And I decided to take it one step further and make pandan cupcakes topped with a pandan buttercream :D Mine is after all a family whose lives revolve around cupcakes.

The resulting cakes tasted lovely, and went very nicely with the pandan buttercream. However I made a mistake. I used a recipe for a pandan cake and crucially did not adjust the baking time for cupcakes. The resulting cupcakes were majestically risen and domed in the oven, but sank when they cooled and consequently lost some of their spongy chiffony goodness :'(

I will be making these cupcakes again, with the correct amount of time in the oven and better photos. And of course the recipe will follow :)