Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Delightful Christmas Carols

Carols by the Tree
Dates: From Monday 7th - 21st December
Times: evenings
Ages: all the family
Price: Free

Join in the crowds around the Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree from nightfall every day from the 7th singing their heart out to all the old favourites. It'll warm the cockles for sure.

Venue Details:

Trafalgar Square
Trafalgar SquareWC2N 5DN
Website: www.london.gov.uk/mayor/trafalgar_square/index.jsp

Christmas Carols at London Zoo
Dates: Wednesday 9th December
Times: 5.30-7.30pm
Ages: all the family
Price: Adult: £14. Children £10, under 3s free

Lull the lions to sleep with Oh Little Town of Bethlehem at the ever-popular Carols in the Zoo. Mince pies, mulled wine, hot chocolate and the New London Children's Choir will make this Carol concert pretty special. Book tickets now.

Venue Details:

London Zoo
Outer Circle, Regent's Park, London, NW1 4RY
Tel: 020 7722 3333
Website: www.londonzoo.co.uk

Hampton Court Carols
Dates: Sunday 20th December
Times: 6pm
Ages: all the family
Price: £3.50 for kids and £7 for adults

Join in the crowds singing in the palace's courtyard. Everyone gets their own song sheet. Wrap up warm and bring a torch. There will be a silver band and much festive merriment to get your Christmas week off with a bang. To book tickets call 0844 482 7795

Venue Details:

Hampton Court Palace
Surrey, England KT8 9AU
Tel: 0870 7515175 (general info); 0870 753 7777 (advance booking)
Website: www.hrp.org.uk

Christmas at the Horniman Museum
Dates: Sunday 13th December
Times: carols at 5pm, festive fun from 3pm
Ages: all the family
Price: Free

Roasted chesnuts, toy stalls and a Santa's grotto will keep the little ones entertained and there will be wonderful Christmas carols with the English Baroque Choir and the Crystal Palace Band.
Spirits don't get more festive than this.

Venue Details:

Horniman Museum
100 London Road, SE23 3PQ
Tel: 020 8699 1872
Website: www.horniman.ac.uk

Monday, December 7, 2009


...from SKYE GYNGELL, Petersham Nurseries Café

I love Brussels sprouts, but not when they are overcooked, soggy and bitter. They should have a slight bite and a vibrant colour.

Cook them simply by cutting a little cross in the base, removing any outer leaves that are bruised or damaged and putting them into boiling, well-salted water for 7 minutes.

Drain and refresh under the cold tap, then warm them through in a pan with a little unsalted butter, a good pinch of sea salt and plenty of freshly ground pepper. I also like a purée of sprouts with turkey or goose simply blitz cooked sprouts with a knob of butter and some crème fraîche and season well.

Ro’s Spicy Meatball Spaghetti

Serves 4 castaways, preparation time less than 30 mins, cooking time c.20 minutes


  • 2 x 400g/14oz cans tomatoes
  • 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
  • 4 tbsp roughly chopped fresh basil
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 500g/1lb 2oz pork mince
  • 90g/3oz streaky bacon, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp thyme leaves
  • 2 tbsp flatleaf parsley, roughly chopped
  • 300g/10½oz dried spaghetti

Heat a frying pan when hot add the tomatoes and olive oil and bring to a gentle simmer. Add the garlic, chilli and half of the basil and cook for 10 minutes, until reduced and thickened. Season to taste with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a little sugar.

Place the pork mince, bacon, thyme and parsley into a bowl and mix thoroughly. Season with a little salt and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Divide the mixture into 16 and shape each portion into a small ball.

Place the meatballs into the tomato sauce and simmer for 5-8 minutes until the meatballs are completely cooked through.

Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil.

Add the spaghetti and cook according to packet instructions.

Drain the spaghetti, then add to the tomato and meatball sauce. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper and add the remaining basil.

Ro’s Rock Pool Scallops with Chorizo

Serves 8 as a starter. Preparation time less than 20 minutes.

• 110g/4oz chorizo sausage
• 400g/1lb small scallops (or larger ones, halved across the middle), removed from their shells
• Juice of half a lemon
• 4 tbsp chopped fresh parsley
• Slice the chorizo into rounds no more than 1cm thick.

Place a pan over a medium heat and fry the chorizo (without adding any oil, as the chorizo will give out plenty of its own oil) for about two minutes, or until crisp on both sides.

Remove the chorizo from the pan and transfer to a bowl. In the same pan, fry the scallops in the oil left by the chorizo for about a minute on each side.

Return the chorizo to the pan with the scallops, add the lemon juice and let it bubble for a few seconds.

To serve, place the chorizo and scallops onto a serving plate and sprinkle over the parsley. Serves eight as a starter with a few salad leaves.

Getting Tacky... from Stephen

Could I please remind everyone that if you wish to put up posters around the building would you please use BLUE TAC rather than sellotape, available either from myself or ERM.   

Sellotape makes unsightly marks on the lift or even worse removes the paint from the walls!

Thank you!!

Like Batter in your Beer? by Jacqueline

A great new restaurant opened last week - Fish Kitchen, 170 Upper Richmond Road Sheen (020) 8878 1040. Part of the small chain owned by celebrity restaurateur, Tony Allan who has restaurants in Kingston and Borough Market, selling excellent fish and chips (for aficionados - the batter is beer based and made twice a day) for around £10.00, they also have posher nosh for up to £18.00 per dish. All fish and seafood is fresh and from sustainable sources. There's a small wine and pudding menu too. Buzzy atmosphere, and reasonably quick service (I went on the first night when they we cutting their teeth). A great alternative to your standard fare!

Ro's Banana-berry Crème Brulee

Serves 4 - preparation time less than 20 mins, cooking time c.1 hour


  • 250ml milk
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 4 tbsp sugar
  • 1 large banana, sliced thinly
  • small punnet raspberries, blueberries or blackberries
  • Preheat oven to 140C/285F/Gas 1.

Heat the milk in a saucepan until almost boiling and turn off the heat.

Beat the egg yolks and half the sugar until the mixture is thick and pale.

Then slowly add small amounts of the warm milk, stirring occasionally, until all is incorporated.

Divide the banana and berries between four ramekin dishes, reserving 12 slices of banana and a few berries for garnish.

Pour the custard over the fruit and place in a deep-sized roasting tin, then add water to roughly halfway up the sides of each ramekin.

Bake for around an hour until just set with a golden top. Remove from the baking tray and allow to cool. When cool enough, transfer to the fridge until chilled through.

When ready to serve, top each dish with three slices of banana and then the remaining sugar. Melt the sugar under a hot grill or with a cook's blowtorch, leave to set for a few minutes then garnish with remaining berries and serve.

Anna's Chorizo Pasta at the Oasis

I ripped this recipe out of the London Paper one day and just love it. It’s very easy, and particularly useful if you forget you’ve invited friends round for a weeknight supper and have to grab ingredients quickly at the M&S at the station.

Serves 4 - ready in 10-15 minutes.


  • Enough penne pasta for 4 people
  • Half a large chorizo sausage or all of a small one, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 12-15 cherry tomatoes, havled
  • 2-3 tbsp of pesto OR tapernade - whichever you prefer
  • 1 bag of washed rocket - these are usually fairly small which is perfect
  • Parmesan and black olives to garnish

Put the penne on to boil in a large saucepan
. Fry the sliced chorizo in a non-stick saucepan on a low-medium heat so it cooks in its own oil, turning when slightly crisp on one side. When the chorizo is cooked, set aside and throw in the halved cherry tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar to the pan so they cook in the flavoured oil. Keep on a medium/low heat.

When the pasta is cooked, drain and return to the saucepan. Then stir in the chorizo and tomatoes, quickly followed by the pesto or tapernade.

Next stir in your rocket, which will start to wilt, and you’re ready to serve onto plates, garnishing with plenty of parmesan and a few black olives

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Claire's Pork Involtini with Roasted Fennel and Potatoes

Simple and delicious dinner party dish - serves 4


  • 800g piece pork tenderloin, cut in half
  • 200g pancetta, finely sliced
  • 50g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
  • 16 asparagus spears, blanched
  • 200g Gorgonzola, cut into baton-style strips
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
Roasted Fennel and Potatoes:
  • 2 fennel bulbs, cut into eighths
  • 550g waxy potatoes, thickly sliced
  • 1 tbsp fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
How to do it

To make pork involtini, butterfly the pork tenderloin pieces lengthways with a sharp knife on a wooden board, then flatten carefully with a meat tenderiser. Place pancetta on board and lay tenderloins on top, leaving pancetta showing around the sides. Brush tenderloins with the softened butter. Place asparagus and Gorgonzola on tenderloins, then season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Carefully roll tenderloins into a barrel, making sure the pancetta slices cover the outside of the tenderloins. Tie with kitchen string at 5cm intervals.

Preheated oven to 180C. Heat olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat, then brown involtini for 3-5 minutes. Transfer to a baking dish and bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove involtini from oven, cover with kitchen foil and rest for 5-7 minutes serving with roast artichokes and potatoes.

To make roast fennel and potatoes, preheat oven to 200C. Combine ingredients. Season with sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, then transfer to a roasting dish and cook in oven for 30-40 minutes.

Vanessa's Very Easy Pesto Chicken

This really is the easiest recipe ever and great if you are having friends over for supper after work. I can get home and have supper served up and ready to go in half an hour. My mum uses it for dinner parties if she is short of time as very little prep time and only 20 minutes cooking time!

Ingredients (serves 4):
  • 4 chicken breasts (preferably with skin on which can be removed later, it just means the meat stays moist)
  • 1 pot of red pesto
  • 1 small pot of crème fraiche (low fat one works best)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • Basil leaves and black olives to garnish
  • 1 pan, preferably a largish frying pan with a lid (very important) but a casserole pot with a lid works too, as long as it can go on the hob
Brown the chicken breasts in bit of oil or butter, skin side first. You aren’t cooking the chicken, just browning it for colour. Set aside on a plate and wipe the pan with kitchen towel to get rid of any excess fat.

In a separate bowl, mix together the red pesto, creme fraiche and chopped tomatoes. No need to season.

Put the chicken breasts back in the pan, skin side up, and pour in the sauce mixture. Put the lid on and leave on the hob, on a gentle simmering heat (so you can just see little bubbles popping on the surface, but not fast rapid bubbles, as then it will boil into nothing!)

Leave like this for 20 minutes. If you are worried the chicken will stick to the pan, then have a check half way through cooking, but it really shouldn’t.

It really does take 20 minutes for the chicken to cook, as long as you leave it simmering and keep the lid on. Garnish with basil leaves and black olives and best served with new potatoes and green veg.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Great nosh for little dosh......

Not being a regular in London's finest eateries, I have recently been struggling for places to go with clients for a nice lunch but on a budget.  How ironic then, that on the way back from my latest client lunch I stumble across this list in the Evening Standard, detailing some of London's best restaurants and their 'credit crunch' lunch deals!

If you are lining up a client lunch, take a pick from one of these as I'm sure the experience will be great and the company wallet will thank you too!  And don't be afraid to say "how about xxxxxx, its a great venue and they are doing an incredible x courses for a credit friendly £xx.xx". 

This sets the expectation with your guest that you wont be cruising round the a la carte menu! Bon apetit!

Pied a Terre, Charlotte St, W1
Lunch set menu - 5 courses for £29.50

L'Atelier de Joel Robuchon, West St, WC2.
Lunch and pre-theatre set menu - 2 courses for £19

L'Autre Pied, Blandford St, W1
Lunch and pre-theatre set menu - 4 courses for £19.50

Tom Aikens, Elystan St, SW3
Lunch set menu - 2 courses for £23

Club Gascon, West Smithfield, EC1
Lunch set menu - 2 courses for £12.50

Rhodes W1, Cumberland Hotel, W1
Lunch set menu - 2 courses for £19.95

Arbutus, Frith St, W1
Lunch set menu - 3 courses for £16.95

Wild Honey, George St, W1
Lunch set menu - 3 courses for £18.95

Amaya, Motcomb St, SW1
Lunch set menu - 3 courses for £22

Chapter One, Orpington.
3 course Sunday dinner for £24.95

The Quilon, Buckingham Gate, SW1
Lunch set menu - 3 courses for £20
Dinner set menu - 3 courses for £27.50

Umu, Bruton Place, W1
Lunch set menu for £21

Nahm, The Halkin Hotel, SW1
Lunch set menu - 2 courses for £15

The Greenhouse, Hays Mews, W1
Lunch set menu - 2 courses for £29

Foliage, Mandarin Oriental Hyde Park, SW1
Lunch set menu - 4 courses for £29

Monday, November 16, 2009

A great 'odd jobs' man

Mark Longmore (Kristen's other half) is currently studying to qualify as an Electrician (watch this space...). Meanwhile, he does have some spare time on his hands for odd jobs and so could be the reliable handyman you've been looking for. Mark has helped Stephen with an array of odd jobs already and comes highly recommended. Please find out from Kristen how to get in contact with him!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Smoked Salmon at Sunset

Lynsey's Smoked Salmon Tortino - according to her it's scrum-didilly-ump-tious!

You will need:

Small shallow dishes / tart tins - depending on the size of tin you use, you can make a yummy starter or use larger dishes - 20cm / 8 inch diameter for a light main. Tins with removeable bases are great for this dish!

8 large sheets filo pastry
75g/3oz butter, melted
4 tbsp soured cream

350g/3/4lb smoked salmon, thinly sliced
450g/1lb tomatoes, skinned, deseeded, diced
basil, fresh (you can use dried)

extra virgin olive oil
salt and ground pepper
few sprigs of fresh dill

Lynsey's tip: these quantities are what the recipe suggests but I usually use more tomatoes and more smoked salmon, it all depends on the size of your dishes!

Preheat the oven to 200 C/400F gas mark 6. Lightly butter each sheet of filo pastry, fold in half (buttered side in) to make two layers. Use 2 double sheets per tortino. Place the first doubled filo sheet into a tart tin. Brush with melted butter, then top with another doubled sheet of filo and butter that, do the same with the 3 other tins and remaining filo sheets.
Divide the tomatoes and basil leaves amongst the tortino tins, drizzle with olive oil and bake in the preheated oven for 5-8 mins. Remove from the oven, season with salt and pepper. Divide the soured cream and slices of smoked salmon amongst the tortinos and then place in the oven for a further 2-3 mins.

Remove from the oven, sprinkle the fresh dill on top, brush with a little olive oil and serve immediately.
Unless you're using tins with removable bases, serve straight from the oven but be careful of the very hot dish.


Monday, October 26, 2009

Warm Lasagne Lagoon...

A very easy, quick, and yummy lasagne for a chilly, autumn evening down at the lagoon!

1 packet of dry egg lasagne sheets
1 large tub of fresh cheese sauce
1 large tub of fresh bolognese meat sauce (or your own home-made bolognese if you have time)
Grated mozzarella
Baby tomatoes (chopped in half)
Black pepper

  1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees
  2. In a large, rectangle casserole dish, place one layer of dried pasta sheets
  3. Place a layer of bolognese meat over the pasta
  4. Then a layer of cheese sauce
  5. A layer of black pepper
  6. A layer of grated mozzarella
  7. Repeat layers again
  8. Nestle the tomato halves in amongst the cheese on the top
  9. Place in the middle of the oven and cook for 35 minutes


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Spicy Beach Mash!

Ok, this might be a bit of a stretch for some but in trying to spice up a bit of mash the other day i stumbled on something that the family raved about so i thought i would share it with you. Enjoy!


Large bowl of mash potatoes
Garlic and Chilli Oil

Once you have your mash, drop in a good dollop of butter to make it nice and creamy. Not too much milk because the oil will also loosen it up. Then add a good splash of the oil and mix in. Next add a good dollop - probably a couple of tablespoons - of honey. Finally season with salt and pepper.

Once its all mixed up, pop in the oven for 5 mins before serving to warm through again.

It might require adding slowly to get the required taste but i just lobbed it in without thinking too much about it and the result was delicious!