High Hopes

I always tell people when asked what I do for a living, food and flowers. Well in the last few weeks its been flowers and food. I’ve designed a lots of weddings this summer and its always a joy to be surrounded by a sea of flowers waiting to be turned into loveliness.

My kids have been spoilt rotten this summer (although they would beg to differ). We have eaten out a lot mainly because I have been crazy with work. My new favourite place is Salvation In Noodles in Dalston, Delicious Pho and the best fried chicken ever.

I have been experimenting with my own versions of Pho. The stock is the bit which matters the most. I found the best flavour came from pork belly. I make twice cooked pork almost weekly. I poach the pork in water with chunks of ginger and a whole garlic bulb sliced in half widthways. I simmer the pork for about 2 hours and leave it to cool in the stock. I save the liquor and use it for soups and stews.  This week it was the  base for a noodle soup with rocket and topped with a couple of seared salmon steaks, divine.

When I was living in my old house, after a baking commission I ended up with a surplus of muffins. Now thats a phrase I never thought I would use. Anyway, I gave them to the bin men one morning. The following week, I had a banana chocolate loaf spare (as you do) and gave that to them. The following Tuesday night I started panicking. I have nothing to give them! They are going to be so disappointed. I quickly whipped up a bunch of muffins and so began the tradition of baking for the bin men.

I began testing new recipes on them, they would give me their feedback the following week. Nah that one wasnt as good as the one with chocolate etc etc. I remember practicing making daisies out of fondant for Lola’s birthday cupcakes. I gave them my first batch and quickly scrambled to get the kids in the car for school. I passed them on my way, they had pulled the truck over and they were all eating these dainty fairy cakes in the front cab.

Well now a few years later I have some new ‘bin men’. My bloke’s singing colleagues, a bass, a baritone and a tenor. After baking some Stollen for them last year, I now bake for them pretty much weekly. Apparently their conductor Javier said my empanadas were the best he ever tasted! Hmm I think that cannot be true but I shall take the compliment.

I leave you for my recipe for empanadas, well you can bake them and see for yourself. I usually make these with tuna, but I thought as they were travelling on a bus to Brussels I should use chorizo instead. This is a really simple bake, simple pastry and 15 minutes of stirring some ingredients over heat.

Oh I also leave you with a couple of pics, one of which is my adopted for a while dog Spencer. Lola insisted I post a picture of him.

Have a great week.

flowerssept Salmonlunch Spencer

Chorizo and Olive Empanadas

These little pastry parcels can be eaten warm or cold. Traditionally these are made with Tuna,


400g plain all purpose flour

75g butter, softened

2 eggs

60ml water, if you have some to hand you can use sherry instead

Pinch of salt

1 egg, beaten to glaze the pastry


50g chorizo, cut into small chunks

1 small red onion, finely chopped

Handful of black or green olives, or both, deseeded

25g lardons, or bacon

3 medium tomatoes, de seeded and roughly chopped

Squirt of tomato ketchup

3 cloves of garlic, crushed

Big splash of olive oil

Pinch of chilli flakes

Pinch of smoked paprika

Pinch of black pepper


Sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Rub the butter in with your finger tips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the combined eggs and water and stir with a fork until the mixture comes together. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface and gather the dough together into a ball. Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for 30mins.In

In a deep frying pan, Heat the olive oil and add the onions, and garlic, lardons and chorizo. Cook for a few minutes until the onion is translucent and the bacon and chorizo are leaching their oil. Add the rest of the ingredients, cover the frying pan with foil and simmer gently for 20 minutes. If there seems to be too much liquid, then when you take the foil off let it simmer for a bit longer. Remember you are filling pastry so you don’t want a runny filling. Turn off the heat and start making the pastry shells.

Turn on the oven to 180C. Take a large cookie cutter, or use a collins glass, or mug. You want to make a circle around 8-10 cms width. Roll the pastry out to 3 mil thick. And cut out circles. Place a heaped teaspoon of the filling into the centre of the circle and brush the beaten egg around the edges, fold one edge of the pastry over to the other side, so you have a semi circle, press the edges together and glaze the top of the pastry place on a baking sheet. Repeat and place in the oven. This recipe should make around 10 empanadas.