Category Archives: Vegetarian


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I came back from the Bang Bang Asian supermarket in Colindale two nights ago laden with all sorts of goodies, but I missed the most vital ingredient – noodles. I have this habit of buying bags and bags of them – Udon, Soba, Ramen Lo Mein and they then get stuffed into a cupboard and forgotten about. So this time I held back from buying any – I walked past aisle upon aisle of them, secretly wanting to buy them all but forcing myself not to, given the stash that was awaiting me when I got home. And so when Immie asked for Ramen yesterday, I was ecstatic – the perfect opportunity to use the fancy king oyster mushrooms and chinese chives I’d bought just two nights ago while also using up a decent chunk of my noodle cache. Of course when I looked, I had no Ramen, no Soba, no Udon – in fact all I had was a small bag of super fine rice vermicelli – so this recipe is pretty much ramen without the ramen. Actually it’s probably closer to Pho. In reality, it’s neither, but It’s really good and ridiculously simple so I’m going to write it down anyway…

Take a lemongrass stalk, peel off the outer layer and split it down the middle (you’re going to fish this out at the end), then slice a thumb of ginger, a red chilli, four cloves of garlic, the stalks of a handful of coriander leaves, a couple of large king oyster mushrooms (or lots of normal ones, or pretty much any white/pale mushrooms you fancy), julienne a carrot and stick everything in a large saucepan with a couple of litres of stock (chicken preferably), a few splashes of rice vinegar and fish sauce, a little salt and pepper (maybe even Szechuan peppercorns if you like) and bring it all to the boil. In the meantime, in a separate pan stick your preferred noodles in boiling water and heat them for a few minutes (check the pack for how long as they all differ).

When the noodles are ready, portion them into bowls and cover them in your broth along with a good squirt of lime juice and a handful of chopped coriander leaves. Add soy sauce to taste.

It’s hot, sour, savoury and spicy – perfect for a chilly winter’s day…

Triple truffles (with a bonus breakfast track)


As has become standard procedure for the Kaldor/Dunning Christmas, truffles took centre stage for dinner on Christmas Eve and breakfast the following morning. Thanks to Nigel and his wonderful truffle site ( we went large this year with a mix of fresh white winter truffles, truffle butter and minced truffle. Truffle overdrive. And while it feels like we’ve all been heavily bombarded by truffle dishes over the last 5 years they’re still a real treat if you don’t overdo them. Or if you only overdo them one day a year. Maybe two.

Truffles thee ways

We started with baked camembert with truffles and sourdough bread (the recipe for which will follow soon, kindly passed onto me by my big sis Nic). It really can’t be simpler – take a camembert, remove the paper and pop it back into the box, score the top of the cheese and pop in slices of your fresh truffle. Stick it in the oven at 180c for 30 minutes. Take it out and stick your bread in it.

That was quickly followed by wild mushroom and truffle ravioli with a truffle butter and cream sauce. It takes a little more effort this one, but definitely worth it.
Start by making your pasta dough – mix 200g of pasta flour with 6 egg yolks, a pinch of salt and a tablespoon of cold water. It will be pretty tough, but don’t over work it – just bring it together into a smooth dough, wrap it in clingfilm and stick it in the fridge for an hour. Now you can make the filling – finely chop a shallot and a few handfuls of wild mushrooms, preferably chanterelles or morels. If you can’t find fancy mushrooms chestnuts mushrooms will do just fine. Fry them gently in butter, add some fresh thyme and season well. Once they’re cooked through, add a large knob of truffle butter and two teaspoons of minced truffle. Set the mix aside to cool.
Now you make the ravioli. Either with a pasta maker or a rolling pin, roll the pasta into thin sheets – as thin as you can get without any holes forming – probably about 1mm. Use semolina flour to keep them from sticking to your work surface. Take two round pastry cutters, one slightly larger than the other, and cut as many circles as you can with the dough you have made – equal amounts of each size. With the quantity I used above, you should get about 32 circles (making 16 ravioli)

Now lay out the smaller circles and stick a heaped teaspoon of the mixture in the centre of each one. Take a pastry brush and some water and brush around the edge of each circle and then place the larger circles on top, carefully ensuring there are no air pockets in the ravioli and sealing them around the edges. Dust them with semolina flour so that they don’t stick together and put them aside ready for when you want to cook them. They can sit like this for at least a day so you can do all this work in advance. At this point they should look a little like the ones in my photo above.

For the sauce, take a frying pan and melt a large block of butter with more of the minced truffle and thyme leaves, carefully add a little single cream and season well. In the meantime bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and drop in the ravioli. They’ll only need a few minutes to cook. Once the butter sauce has cooled a little, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon.

Now put three of the ravioli onto each plate, spoon over the sauce and shave fresh truffle on top. Perfect.

Since there’s a ton of  butter and cream in the dish, you’ll need something a little sharp to accompany it and this goes really well – mixed leaf salad with truffle vinaigrette.  The vinaigrette is really simple – finely chop garlic, dijon mustard, olive oil and white wine vinegar, salt and pepper and three teaspoons of minced truffle. I used chicory leaves (which are perfectly bitter for this), watercress and rocket. And that’s it – the perfect meal for Christmas eve.


The next day…

Ok maybe this is overdoing it, but what the heck, it’s only once a year. When you get your fresh truffles, put them in a tupperware box with half a dozen eggs – they’ll slowly take on the truffle aroma as the shells are porous. On Christmas morning, take the eggs, whisk them up, season them, stick a large block of truffle butter into a frying pan and then add the eggs. Move them around the pan gently until they start to solidify. Once you see this happening get ready to pull them off the heat – you have to have these eggs french style – nice and runny – or you’ll be missing out. As soon as they look good, take them out of the pan, shave the last bits of your fresh truffles all over them along with a handful of chopped chives. Serve with toasted sourdough.



And here’s what this year’s little beauties looked like…


Happy Christmas everyone!

Lasagne mark two (and it’s almost vegan)


If you were to scour the recipes on this blog with a keen eye, searching for elements of other people’s work, you may well find the odd dish that has taken inspiration from a particularly good book or TV show (although I will never steal from Rick Stein – there’s something about the way in which he treats people around him that I don’t like). I can say however with great confidence that this one is unique. No one has ever cooked this dish before (please don’t google it, I don’t want my bubble burst). And it could very easily be vegan if you wanted it to be – you just have to leave out the butter, cream and parmesan. Although I didn’t.

Tomato, sweet potato and watercress lasagne

So here goes – start by making your tomato ragu. Fry a finely chopped onion along with 5 cloves of garlic and a small red chilli in a pan and once soft, add 4 finely chopped tomatoes, a load of tomato juice (or tomato puree) and a slug of red wine. Season well and then add the chopped stalks of a large bunch of basil. Once the sauce has reduced and has a rich flavour, take it off the heat and once it has cooled a little, add a handful of small yellow plum tomatoes chopped in half. Set aside.

Now make a bechamel with soy or almond milk (or cow’s milk if you prefer) by melting a huge lump of butter, incorporating plain white flour and adding the milk gradually over the heat constantly stirring until you have a silky smooth sauce. Add a 100ml of double cream, lots of grated nutmeg and season well. Set aside.

Take a large bunch of watercress (as with spinach you’ll need more than you think) and heat in a pan with butter. Once it starts heating through, add a couple of large spoons of cream cheese or ricotta. Set aside.

Now to assemble it all. Take a large oven dish, put half of the tomato ragu into the bottom and top it with a full handful of fresh basil leaves followed by a layer of lasagne sheets. Spread a thin layer of bechamel over the lasagne. Now thinly slice (a mandolin is good here) a raw sweet potato, skin and all, and places the slices over the bechamel. Spread another thin layer of the bechamel over the sweet potatoes and then spoon the watercress mixture over the top. Place another layer of lasagne sheets, followed by the remainder of the tomato ragu and finally the rest of the bechamel. Grate parmesan over the top and you’re done. You can now store the lasagne until you’re ready to eat.

To cook it, place in a preheated over at 180c for 40 mins and then get it out and let it rest for a few minutes before serving with a loaf of your very best sourdough






Sunday morning, my first sourdough loaf is in the oven, it’s cold and crisp outside, William just came downstairs and gave me a hug, Immie and Oscar are fast asleep, Gardner’s world is on BBC2 and I’m about as happy as a 47 year old half Hungarian can be.

The sourdough starter has been alive for a week now and this loaf started its journey yesterday evening at about 6pm, so it better be good. But we before we tackle the bread situation, I’m going to start with a plug for my new best friend Nigel. Nigel owns a truffle business. He imports truffles from around the world and sells them online through his site We became acquainted on a course aimed at helping small businesses grow – the idea is that you meet other business owners and learn from each other, share experiences, grow your network etc etc. I met a bloke who sells truffles. Pretty much hit the jackpot I reckon. Not that it matters, but he’s a pretty good bloke too – it’s not all about the truffles you know (yes it is). Anyway, check out his site and buy something – I hear the minced summer truffle is very good – mine hasn’t arrived yet but I’ll report back when it does. And I will most definitely be using his black winter truffles for dinner at my sister’s on Christmas Eve (mates rates!). Oh yes I will.

Anyway, back to the bread…

Before you can start baking you need a sourdough starter, which takes about a week to get going. There are a bunch of ways you can do it – I used wholemeal flour, water, honey and yoghurt in mine, but I’m sure there are better ones out there, so I recommend googling it and picking one that suits you.

Making the bread don’t require any more effort than a normal loaf, but it does need time as the sourdough starter works more slowly than yeast, so you need to get going the day before you want to eat your bread.

Start by making a basic bread mix with your preferred flour (I used a strong white flour for this one), a little salt and plenty of olive oil, and then rather than pouring in water, use the starter instead (and then replenish the starter with fresh flour and water). Mix and knead the bread throughly until you have a lovely smooth and very elastic dough. Let it prove for a couple of hours in a bowl at room temperature covered in a damp cloth.

After a couple of hours, knock back the bread, shape it into a ball and put it in a banneton. I don’t have a banneton (yet) so I used a large bowl lined with a teatowel well dusted with flour. Cover it all and put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, heat your oven to 225c and place a tin in the oven filled with boiling water to ensure you get a nice steamy atmosphere in there which will give the bread a good crust. Once it’s reached temperature, tip out the bread onto a baking tray dusted with flour, slash the top of the bread with a sharp knife, dust it with more flour and stick it in the oven for about 45 mins. I turn the oven down to 200c after about 10 minutes. Check the bread from time to time to ensure it doesn’t burn.

Take it out, cool it, eat it.

Postscript – I’ve just broken into it and had a few chunks with a slab of butter. It’s so much lighter, crunchier, airier and tastier than bread baked with yeast. You have to try this.





Soup. Simple.

Lentil soup

We’re all still reeling from one of the strangest days in politics seen for some time. Possibly the most unpopular man in recent history has just taken power and we’re quietly scratching our heads and wondering what the next four years will hold for us all. And if the first White House press conference held by his press secretary is anything to go by, we’re heading into strange days. It’s now fairly clear that propaganda and misinformation will form the backbone of this next administration – I wonder how long before he attempts to bring in measures to gag the media? I wonder what it would take for him to be able to do it? I wonder if he has the means to exploit global events that will undoubtably unfold over the coming years in order to slowly put enough fear into the the minds of his people that they will voluntarily lay down and allow him to slowly, piece by piece take away their basic rights and their freedom of speech? He clearly doesn’t have the brains to do it, but I suspect the people he surrounds himself will. It’s scary.

Meanwhile, in Gentlemans Row, we’re making soup for lunch – and it’s a good one – all doable with a few basic ingredients that you have to hand.

Mixed lentil soup

Roughly chop an onion, a couple of carrots and a few celery sticks and fry them gently in a large saucepan with lots of butter and a little olive oil. When they have softened, add a handful of spices (I went for cumin, black pepper, dried chilli and salt), boiling water, a few sprigs of thyme, some fresh coriander stalks and some chicken stock. Then add a load of lentils – I used a mix of split red lentils and puy lentils. Let it all simmer away for about 20 mins and once it’s ready, blend it until rich and smooth. When serving, add a large dollup of yoghurt and a handful of finely chopped coriander.

It’s best eaten with a loaf of freshly baked bread. This Parmesan, chilli and olive bread worked pretty well…

Parmesan chilli and olive bread


Why the world gave us truffles

I haven’t had many relationships in my life and as a consequence, I’ve had few break ups. That said, apart from one of them, they all have one thing in common: a single moment when something changes from being ever-present to being non-existent. Few things in life are as abrupt or fundamental in how they alter your day to day existence (apart from those events far too sombre to cover on this blog).

It’s something I suspect none of us are really well equipped to deal with – shifting from having someone with whom you conduct a steady stream of communication with about your every day experiences and aspirations, to nothing. And the speed with which this change occurs is breathtaking – all it takes is a single conversation. Rather odd isn”t it?

Anyway, the good news is that the world is an expert in balancing life’s ups and downs, and that’s almost certainly the reason it gave us truffles, possibly the most exciting little cat-turd shaped foodstuff known to humanity. And so it was that on Christmas eve eve, I was in a department store in London looking for a gift for my father when I happened upon a counter selling Italian white alba truffles. I had to have one. And what better excuse than cooking dinner for my family on Christmas eve. So here it is – fifty quid’s worth of the most beautiful smelling ingredient you will ever use:


And here’s (in my opinion) the best way to cook it:

White Alba Truffle with Linguine

This could not be easier. And that’s the point. When you have something as special as this, you must keep it as simple as possible to ensure maximum enjoyment of its unique flavour.
(It will serve 6 people as a starter).

Take a pack of linguine and put it in a large pan of salted boiling water with a little olive oil. Then take another small pan and in it, very gently heat a finely chopped clove of garlic with lots of olive oil (the best you can get your hands on), a big knob of butter and about a fifth of the truffle, sliced very thinly and broken up into the pan, infusing the flavours into the oil. Now finely grate a couple of handfuls of parmesan (not too much – you don’t want it overpowering the truffle) and chop a handful of flat leaf parsley – set them aside for now.

Once the linguine is perfectly cooked, throw it into a warmed bowl, add the heated oil mixture, season with a little salt (not too much as you have the saltiness of the parmesan) and plenty of pepper. Add more oil if required and the chopped parsley then gently mix it all together. Finally throw over the parmesan and shave the rest of the truffle on the top of the pasta, finishing with a last splash of olive oil.

Serve it up and receive great praise. I think this is the most exciting meal I have cooked in years…

Truffles and Linguine


When music fails to be the food of love…(and an onion tart)

I’ve been re-listening to The Magic Numbers debut album and it’s far better than I remember it being. It’s an album that I once owned on CD when I was working at EMI, but one that I must have lost – I expect it must have been a casualty of my divorce because it’s nowhere to be seen now.

And it makes me wonder – just how much money does the music industry make out of our failed relationships?

Consider a typical couple together for four years who each buy let’s say six albums per year. So, throughout the course of their relationship, they buy roughly fifty albums between them. Then let’s assume that the unfortunate pair are torn apart, and the inevitable process of distributing the albums between them begins. The thing is, there are going to be a bunch of those albums that they both want to keep (setting aside the angst-ridden memories that they will churn up every time they listen to them), meaning that the break up will be responsible for a little spurt of album sales – let’s say fifteen albums per break-up over the course of the months following each split? Seems a fair assumption to me.

Anyway, as it turns out there were over 150,000 divorces in the UK in 2012, and adding to that the breakups of those poor souls who didn’t make it to the alter (or to the registrars desk), let’s say there are roughly 300,000 breakups each year? So that would account for a whopping four and a half million album sales a year in the UK from break-ups alone.

And all this makes me think that if I were still at EMI, I’d be hot-footing it to the boardroom and trying to convince them to get the A&R guys to start making more records that drive people to infidelity, insecurity, insincerity, incontinence, impotence and as many other relationship killers they can think of that will drive up music sales to new record levels. My god – it could really work. Although thinking about it now, isn’t this exactly what they’ve been doing for years? Maybe they’re more devious than we thought, the machiavellian bastards…

P.S. I’ve just been discussing this with my friend who keeps his 1000 albums separate from his wife’s CD collection for this very reason, just in case (he clearly has great confidence in the future of his marriage).

And on that note, let’s turn to tarts…

Onion and goats cheese tart

Onion and goats cheese tart

Start by making a rich shortcrust pastry (using 200g plain flour, 100g butter, an egg, a pinch of salt and a little water and lemon juice) and pop it in the fridge for 30 mins to harden a little. Then roll it out and place into a deep, buttered tart dish ensuring you push the pastry gently down into the edges to minimise shrinking. Then trim the top (by simply rolling a rolling pin over the top of the dish to get a perfect cut) and pop it back into the fridge and heat the oven to 160c.

Now start making the filling – chop about five good sized onions (a mix of red and white if you like) and fry them gently in a pan with a few sprigs of thyme, butter, oil, salt and pepper. It will take about 20 mins until they are all soft and some have gently caramelised. Take them off the heat and put the pastry base into the oven covered in baking parchment and baking beans for about 15 minutes to blind bake.

While the tart base is baking, take a large bowl and whisk 5 medium eggs along with about 200ml of double cream, then season a little and add the onions with the thyme removed. Take a little pack of mild goats cheese and break blobs of it into the mixture leaving some behind for the top.

Take the base out of the oven and pour in your mixture and then top with more of the goats cheese. Put it all back in the oven at about 175c and let it cook for 30-40 mins. When it’s ready it will have risen above the tin and it will be beautifully golden brown.

Take it out and let it cool for about 20 mins and serve with a green salad and a crisp white wine. And make sure it doesn’t all get eaten straight away – it’s even better a day old (I just had a slice for breakkie – perfect)

The healthiest thing you can stick in your mouth?

Monkswood green

Here I am in Canada, the nicest, calmest, healthiest, most considerate, eco-friendly, animal-friendly, smoke-free, peaceful place on the planet. And here I am on Saltspring, island, the nicest, calmest, healthiest, most considerate, eco-friendly, animal-friendly, smoke-free, peaceful place in Canada. I’m trying very hard to fit in, idly chatting to hemp-clad new age market traders about the breed of sheep they lovingly milked to produce their extra-creamy feta along with the organic feed and alba-oil massages they are treated to thrice daily (sadly the market traders have to make do with a handful of Mung beans and a polite slap in the face from their ultra-nourished partner).

Anyway, I’m here with Sally, Mark, Eliot, Felix, Fin and Ollie, who are looking after me in this perfect place and I’m determined to live up to at least one of these British Columbian ideals. Given that I’m a nasty, uptight, inconsiderate, ungreen, aggressive, animal-hating (so I’m told) habitual smoker, I decide to focus on the healthy – and here it is, straight from the anti-cancer battlefield. Surprisingly enough, it’s delicious. And there’s no doubt that you get a sense of piety when you drink it. I’d give it a go if I were you…

Green uberhealthy smoothie

Take a bunch of fresh kale, a few apples, a thumb of ginger, the juice from two lemons, lots of coconut water, a handful of mint, a scoop of Maca powder (yeah right) and a tablespoon of hemp hearts (yaha) and blend them together with a few cubes of ice (if you don’t have the Maca powder or hemp hearts, don’t worry too much, it still tastes great).

And this is where you should be drinking it:

Monkswood (Photos courtesy of Sally Kaldor. Yep, she demanded a photo credit)