Thursday, October 15, 2015

Honey and Soy Belly Pork Slices

In our house we like nothing better than a good roast pork.  However, if it's a roast belly pork, then that tops the bill every time.  It's the one meal that I can guarantee has everyone sitting down in 2 seconds flat.  The key with cooking belly pork is to cook it long and slow.  This means that the fatty layers in between the meat have time to melt down into unctuous  deliciousness....  I have a variety of recipes that use belly pork slices, including this one from Nigella which uses potatoes, onions and belly pork slices; however, I recently came across a new recipe that may blow Nigella out of the water...
 Make up your marinade and coat pork and leave overnight.


200g Slice of Pork Belly
1 Tbsp Grated Garlic
1 Tbsp Grated Ginger
1 Tbsp Honey
1 Tbsp Dark Soy Sauce
¼ Cup Orange Juice

For Glaze – 2 Tbsp Honey

 Dipping Sauce
  1 Tbsp Sweet Soy Sauce

1 Tbsp Golden Syrup

Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Glaze the Pork with Honey and roast for an hour, glazing with more Honey every 15mins.

Allow to rest for 30 mins.

Take the left over Marinate and add the Sweet Soy Sauce and Golden Syrup, mix and place over a medium high heat in a pan. Reduce to a thick dipping sauce, this should take about 10 mins.

How to eat!
It's great with a simple boiled rice and a wonderful Asian slaw.  Or make up a veggie broth, add Pak Choi, asparagus, broccoli florets, some chilli flakes, soy sauce and noodles before slicing the pork on the top and garnish with a sprinkling of coriander.

Photo: Peony Lim

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monday montage

So summer is pretty much done, but here in London we've been enjoying some pretty spectacular sunny days...a real Indian summer. I know it won't last and I've been making use of these extra days of sunshine to prep my autumn and winter wardrobe. Ankle boots, check. Warm wraps, check. Jumper dress, check. Oversized cosy jumper, check.  Here's some of my favourite looks for chunky wool knits this season...


Friday, October 09, 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful


I've been doing my 'Reasons to be Cheerful' posts for a while now and thought I'd explain where they came from. There has been some research done in America that reveals that if we spend just a few minutes at the end of the day reflecting on things that have gone well, on the positive aspects of the day, rather than the negative, then we deal better in the long term with stress and anxiety.
They learned from their research that thinking about positive events in a systematic way can be healthy and suggest that instead of ruminating about negative things, we try to ‘savour’ - relive, enjoy, and share - the positive events of your day.

It’s a habit that doesn’t come naturally however, warn the experts. As humans, an evolutionary survival mechanism leads us to instinctively pay closer attention to all things negative - potential risks and threats.

But the ‘three good things’ intervention can help to overcome that, say Bono and Glomb, who conducted an experiment to prove the effects of the rule. “After three weeks, stress levels and mental and physical complaints declined by small but significant amounts. Moreover, on days when participants focused on good things, they were better able to switch off stressful job-related thoughts in the evening at home.”

“Sharing positive events with others creates connections between people and bonds them with one another, further reducing evening stress,” add the researchers.

“Ultimately, this also improves sleep, which our ongoing research suggests leads to greater alertness and better mood - which in turn leads to more positive things happening the next day.”
Participants in the study also noted that they felt more productive and creative at work after trying out the ‘three good things’ rule.

So - with all these good reasons to focus on the positive, what's stopping you....? From the very small things to the big events, relish them all.   Here's my three things from last weekend...

1.  The late afternoon sunshine slanting across the garden.  The soil warm from the day's rays, the raspberries plump and round, sliding easily from their anchor.  The warm, sharp explosion of taste in my mouth and a memory that is awakened by the taste and smell - I'm a small child in my Grandad's allotment, sneaking raspberries from the canes and eating them quietly in his warm, wood smelling shed. There is a moment, fleeting, of pure unadulterated childlike happiness.

2. To pick the last of the summer produce.  Reaching high up into the branches of the fig tree, feeling the soft fruit under my fingers; twisting the ripe apples from their boughs and feeling their comforting heavy weight in my hands.

3.  The waves on the pebbles, swooshing and cackling, back and forth.  The sun, warm on my face and limbs.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Honey, mustard potatoes with crispy pancetta

There's nothing better than a warm potato salad, and this one ticks all the boxes for me. The addition of crispy bacon elevates it to something else. Serve with BBQ grilled meats and a crisp green salad. 

Serves 4

500g New Potatoes
3 Sprigs of Mint
250g Streaky Smoked Bacon
1 Tbsp Salted Butter
2 Tbsp Cloudy Honey
1 Tbsp of Wholegrain Mustard
1 tsp English Mustard
4 Tbsp Chopped Chives

  1. Over a medium flame, place a pan of salted water and bring to the boil.

  2. Add the New Potatoes and Mint and gently boil until tender and cooked.
  3. Slice the Bacon into lardons and fry until crisp or use pancetta cubes.
  4. Assemble the dressing; Mix the Honey, Mustards, Butter and Salt and Pepper in a bowl till combined.
  5. Remove the Potatoes from the heat and drain the water, discard the Mint and place them in a serving bowl.
  6. Stir through the dressing until coated and glossy and finish with the Crispy Bacon and Chives.

Photo: Peony Lim

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Lemon Iced Tea

This is a gorgeous refreshing drink, with the addition of green tea it's just right if you're 'clean eating'.

Here's what you need - adjust proportions to fit your jug:

1/2 Juice

(I like Apple, Pear, Mango, Peach or a Mix)

1/4 Green Tea

1/4 Ice Cold Water


Fruit Slices
(Orange, Lemon, Peach, Apple etc.)


  1. 1. Start by brewing the tea. Make a pot of either Lemon Verbena (just add the leaves to hot water) or Green Tea. Remove the green tea leaves after 2 mins but allow to cool in the pot with the Lemongrass in.
  2. 2. In a jug pour the Water, Juice, Fruit slices, Mint and lots of Ice and stir well.
  3. 3. Once the Tea is cool, stir it in.
  4. 4. Serve each glass with Lemongrass, a spring of Mint and a slice of Fruit.

  5. Photo: peony lim

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Beach Dreams

Doesn't this want to make you sink your toes into the sand...

Photo: camille styles

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chillingham Castle, Northumberland

Deep in the borderlands of Northumberland is a beautiful castle.  It is famous for it's wild highland cattle, white and ferocious, with horns you wouldn't want to mess with.  It's also had its fair share of notoriety due to the allegedly abundant ghosts that walk its corridors.  Most Haunted, the tv series, visited here some years ago. The castle is the home of Sir Humphry Wakefield and his family.  Since 1246 the castle has been owned by the same bloodline with the Earls Grey building the sinister dungeons as well as the beautiful parklands and gardens.  The current owner, who lives in one wing, has carried out extensive restoration and it's definitely a work in progress.  The rooms that are open to the public include the Armoury, the Dungeons, Mediaeval Courtyard, Great Hall (which was built to entertain James VI of Scotland), Edward 1 Room (he stayed here with his cousins whilst on his way to capture William Wallace, of Brave Heart fame), King James I Room and the Plaque Room.  There is also a Chapel and a Museum.  The whole place is brimming with artefacts that have been found during the restoration process, and they are displayed randomly and abundantly, something to stare at on every surface. I had a great chat with one of the guides, who told me about his own ghostly encounters.  It's certainly not hard to believe they exist in those eerie rooms, with untold shadows that stalk you from corner to corner.  I didn't see any ghostly figures this time, but who knows who may have been watching me from a quiet corner...

 Excuse the quality of the photos, it was very dark inside, and pouring with rain outside!  Good photos it does not make.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful...

1. A country walk in weak spring sunshine delivers the most unexpected gifts - the way the light shines through the trees, glancing off the water, creating reflective mirages; tiny goslings swimming frantically to reach their mother and the sweet sound of birds chirruping to each other as they relish the warmth of the day.

2.  In-season asparagus.  What a display this was; green, white and purple, complimented by the citrus yellow of the lemons.  Mouth-watering and too good to leave in the box.  I left with several bunches and all the way home conjured up delicious ways to serve them...steamed and dripping in butter; roasted ,wrapped in salty pancetta; dipped in the runny yolk of an egg; smeared in hollandaise...

3.  To spend time with family; catching up and discovering things about each other that we never knew!  "Remember the time...."; "Have you heard from..." Leaving our meal and remembering that people are precious and never to take them for granted. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Mulberry's Spring Campaign

Sigh...Fashion Week has yet again highlighted one of my favourite designers - Mulberry.  Their new Spring collection has me once again, drooling.  The other thing that I love is their new ad with Cressida Bonas.  It makes me feel happy.  It's spring-like and I love it.  Here it is...

Happy Monday everyone...

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reasons to be Cheerful...

1.  Slow Sundays. To lie in bed browsing, sunshine pouring through the windows, before I tuck into freshly baked croissants and coffee. They are crisp and flaky on the outside; warm, doughy and buttery on the inside. Heaven. 

2.  The satisfaction that comes from clearing a very cluttered space. Now there is flow.

3.  The miracle of technology means that I can see and talk to my gorgeous daughter every day, even though she is far away. What joy to see her spring onto my screen and hear her happy voice.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Links I Love

1.  This has to be the easiest DIY cheeseboard I've seen.  Can't wait to try it out.
2.  The most heavenly romantic looking Raspberry Rose Cocktail for February 14th.
3.  How to perfect the post workout pony.
4.  Quiz.  The 36 questions that lead to love.
5.  DIY Ikea hack.  Gilded bookshelves.



Monday, February 09, 2015

February Musts...


 It's cold and grey outside and I want to do nothing more than snuggle up on the sofa under a soft throw, light my Neom candle and shut out the world.  Only one thing can make this scenario any better, and that's the smell of something delicious slow cooking in the oven.  That something delicious at the moment is slow cooked shoulder of pork.  It takes about 5 hours to cook - completely necessary for that melting, pull-apart meat, as the shoulder is quite tough, but the gelatin in the meat renders down to make the tenderest joint imaginable, if you just let it cook slowly.  I tend not to follow a recipe, but buy the best quality joint you can afford, rub it with Chinese five spice and whack it in the oven at 220 degrees c for twenty minutes initially.  Remove from the oven and cover with foil, turn down the oven to 170 degrees c for another four hours and remove the foil for the last half an hour, before resting for a minimum of half an hour.  There are endless things that you can use this meat for - here are some ideas to spin it out...

More Ideas for Pork Shoulder

Ways to Use Pork Shoulder

A sweeping, emotionally riveting first novel — an enthralling family saga of Africa and America, doctors and patients, exile and home.

Marion and Shiva Stone are twin brothers born of a secret union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother’s death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution. Yet it will be love, not politics — their passion for the same woman—that will tear them apart and force Marion, fresh out of medical school, to flee his homeland. He makes his way to America, finding refuge in his work as an intern at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him — nearly destroying him — Marion must entrust his life to the two men he thought he trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

An unforgettable journey into one man's remarkable life, and an epic story about the power, intimacy, and curious beauty of the work of healing others.

 Daniel has spent centuries falling in love with the same girl. Life after life, crossing continents and dynasties, he and Sophia (despite her changing name and form) have been drawn together-and he remembers it all. Daniel has "the memory", the ability to recall past lives and recognize souls of those he's previously known. It is a gift and a curse. For all the times that he and Sophia have been drawn together throughout history, they have also been torn painfully, fatally, apart. A love always too short.

Interwoven through Sophia and Daniel's unfolding present day relationship are glimpses of their expansive history together. From 552 Asia Minor to 1918 England and 1972 Virginia, the two souls share a long and sometimes torturous path of seeking each other time and time again. But just when young Sophia (now "Lucy" in the present) finally begins to awaken to the secret of their shared past, to understand the true reason for the strength of their attraction, the mysterious force that has always torn them apart reappears. Ultimately, they must come to understand what stands in the way of their love if they are ever to spend a lifetime together.

A magical, suspenseful, heartbreaking story of true love, My Name is Memory proves the power and endurance of a union that was meant to be.

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, this film is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason, who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. This drama charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before. Snapshots of adolescence from road trips and family dinners to birthdays and graduations and all the moments in between become transcendent, set to a soundtrack spanning the years from Coldplay's Yellow to Arcade Fire's Deep Blue. The film is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.
February is of course, the month for lovers.  If like me, you don't buy into the huge commercialism of it, but like the excuse to say 'I love you' by making something for someone special, then these ideas are for you...

Valentine Flip Book

Love Light Bulb


Monday, February 02, 2015

Chicken Pot Pies

In this family we love our pies.  Maybe it's a northern thing, after all I spent my teenage years ducking out of school to visit the nearest Greggs for a cheese and onion pasty!  I'm not a great lover of puff pastry though - something about the soft pastry doesn't work for me when combined with the gooey interior of the pie.  For me the best pie has a crumbly, crisp shortcrust pastry that melts in the mouth.  My current go-to is a one-pot chicken pie.  It came about as a way to extend the life of the Sunday roast chicken and it's become a favourite dish.  Part of the attraction is you get a pretty damn good pie for a small amount of effort - and that's always a winner in my book.  I can get in from work and have this made and on the table within the hour.

The basic recipe came from Jamie's 30 Minute Meals but I adapt it to whatever I have to hand.  As my children don't like mushrooms I substitute them for leeks.  I serve it with buttery mash and braised lettuce, peas and spring onions (trust me it's delicious).   The proof, as they say, is in the pie.

{I've also made this as a giant pie, rather than individual servings, with everyone able to just tuck in from the big pot}

Thursday, January 01, 2015

Looking Ahead

Happy New Year!  So 2014 has gone on its way - I can't say I'm particularly sad to see its sorry backside receding into the distance.  Last year was interesting  - lots of endings, but they came with endings' partner, new beginnings.  So this is the year where I begin to look ahead, to see possibilities and opportunities, to feel the fear, but do it anyway.  I'm not sure where these possibilities will take me, but I'm up for the ride.  As the saying goes, don't look backwards, you're not going that way...

Anyway, enough of the reflections and onto one of the resolutions I have brought into the new year with me.  Getting healthy.  I guess most of us will have that as our mantra, but it doesn't make it less meaningful.  I've spent the holiday period getting back into the gym routine - a new job has made it particularly difficult for me to get there regularly, but I know that half the battle is just getting back into the swing of it and I'm hoping I've done enough over the holidays for it to have kick started me.  Along with the exercise of course comes healthy food.  I've already pre-booked my on-line shops for the next few weeks; planning meals ahead so that I don't panic buy.  It's also high-time to try some new recipes - I'm so bored with all the usuals and so when I saw this recipe for Aromatic Chilli Beef Noodle Soup I didn't hesitate.  It was remarkably easy and quick to prepare (another winning point - who wants to come in after a looooong, long day and cook for an hour?).  More importantly, it was delicious.  It WAS aromatic and it WAS intensely satisfying to eat.  My pictures don't really do it justice (iphone) so you'll just have to try it for yourself...

Anyway, here's wishing you all, a very happy, healthy and prosperous new year.  Let's raise a glass of the fizzy stuff to new beginnings, opportunities, love and happiness... Cheers...