Baked Penne Vodka


After months of chopping, slicing, measuring and testing recipes for the cookbook, I’ve been grateful for a fridge full of sauces that someone else has spent time perfecting. All I have to come up with is a vehicle for them and I pretty much have dinner on the table. I’ve been impatiently waiting for Jar Goods to introduce new sauces and they’re finally here! A Classic Vodka Sauce as well as a Classic Spicy sauce have all the qualities of their signature Classic Red. They are simply the best tomato sauces available and the reason I haven’t made a red sauce in two years.


I’m almost embarrassed to write out this recipe, it’s that simple but satisfied my craving for a baked pasta like the one my mother always made for Sunday lunch but without any of the work.


Baked Penne Vodka

Serves 6


1 pound of dried penne

1 jar of Classic Vodka Sauce

8 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/2″ cubes (divided)

1 tablespoon of butter

Fresh basil and freshly grated parmesan for serving



1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil.

3. Cook pasta for 3 minutes LESS than the packet instructions. It should be really al dente as it will continue to cook in the oven.

4. Drain the pasta and mix with the vodka sauce and half the mozarella.

5. Butter a baking dish large enough to hold the pasta, then pour in the pasta and scatter the remaining mozarella on top.

6. Bake for 40 minutes or until nicely browned.

7. Serve with fresh basil and parmesan cheese.


Roasted Corn with Jalapeño and Manchego



The world of artisanal food is exploding with new products and trends. We’re getting so many interesting packages and are beginning to add a myriad of new products to the site. I’m loving brainstorming and recipe testing with Aurora on unique ways of using these innovative products! First up is The Chili Lab whose subtle but utterly distinctive chili salts are giving a lift to everything I’m cooking from steaks to this delicious corn dish. Their chili butters are now my preferred spread on my ultimate breakfast sandwich and really any dish that needs a pick me up. I am blown away by the bold/bright flavors of their products and already know who I’m sending their gift box to for Christmas! I hope you will find them as tasty as we have.


Roasted Corn with Jalapeno and Manchego

Adapted from Bon Appétit

Serves 8 as a side dish


6 years of unhusked corn

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

1 teaspoon chili salt

1 jalapeño, seeded and finely diced

1 lime, juiced

1/4 cup thinly sliced chives

1 cup finely grated Manchego cheese

2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest



1. Preheat the oven to 450°F.

2. Roast unhusked corn on a baking sheet for about 15 minutes – turn once.

3. Let the corn cool and then shuck. Cut the kernels from the cobs and discard the cobs.

4. Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the kernels and sauté for 5 minutes – stirring regularly until you begin to see the corn brown.

5. Add the butter and stir until melted.

6. Season with chili salt of your choosing.

7. Sprinkle with jalapeño, lime juice, chives, cheese and lime zest.

Panzanella (Tuscan bread and tomato salad)


I’ve been spending the last few days of my time in Italy staying with my oldest friend, Catherine, in what is to my mind, the most beautiful house in Tuscany. A stunning farmhouse at the end of a treacherous road where I feel completely at home and happy. I’m incredibly lucky to have my nearest neighbor be one of my closest friends and I always make sure our time here overlaps. I just can’t imagine being here without her. We spent last night at a local festa reminiscing about a slightly more glamorous party that used to be the highlight of every summer but which sadly no longer happens.


Every August, the courtyard of Badia a Coltibuono, a 12th Century monastery outside Gaiole, would be the stage for a concert by students of the famous Academia Chigiana. The classical music was followed by food and drinks in the formal garden while the courtyard was transformed into a disco. Huge ceramic bowls filled with Panzanella and platters of Parma ham, salami and cheese were laid out for the guests to feast on before the dancing began. I decided to recreate the panzanella today and I’m sure the fact that it was so delicious was thanks to every ingredient except the bread coming straight from Catherine’s garden.





4 slices of tuscan bread or good sourdough

1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

1 red pepper, deveined, seeded and sliced into strips

2 large heirloom tomatoes

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil


Basil leaves



1. The bread should be a little stale. If it is not, you can put it in a low oven for 15 minutes to dry out. Then cut into 1″ cubes.

2. Soak the sliced onions in a bowl of water for 10-15 minutes to bring out the sweetness then drain and dry.

3. In a large bowl, mix the red pepper, tomatoes, bread and red onion.

4. Sprinkle the vinegar and then the olive oil all over the salad and mix well with your hands. Add salt, taste and mix again. Tuscan bread is made without salt so I used quite a lot but it depends on your ingredients.

5. Finish by sprinkling with some chopped basil leaves and leave it to sit for at least 10 minutes. The bread will soak up all the juices of the tomatoes and continue to improve.

Ottolenghi’s Green Gazpacho


Like many food lovers, I bow to the altar of Yottam Ottlolenghi. I love pouring over his books, visiting his restaurants in London and reading up on him but for some reason I rarely make any of his recipes. This green gazpacho is an exception probably because it’s so quick and easy. Gazpachos are fresh by their very nature but this is simply the freshest as well as the tastiest that I’ve ever had.


My friend Chris made it for me last summer and I’ve been making it ever since when I want something super clean. I made it today in a vague attempt at a pre-vacation cleanse before I overload on pasta in Italy. I’m off tomorrow and already counting the hours until I can sit on ‘the wall’ and watch the sun set with an ice cold G&T!


Ottolenghi’s Green Gazpacho

Adapted from Plenty

Serves 6



2 thick slices of 7 grain bread, cubed

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Sea salt



2 celery stalks (including leaves), roughly chopped

1 green bell pepper, seeded and roughly chopped

6 mini cucumbers, peeled and roughly chopped

3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed and broken into small pieces

1 jalapeno pepper (seeds removed or not depending on whether you like heat), chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped

5 cups of baby spinach

1 cup basil leaves

2 tablespoons of parsley leaves

1 teaspoon sugar

2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons of greek yoghurt

1 cup of water

2 teaspoons salt

4 ice cubes




1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.

2. Toss the bread cubes in the oil and salt and arrange on a baking tray. Bake for 10-12 minutes until crisp.

3. Remove and leave to cool.



1. Fit as many of the ingredients as you can (except the ice cubes) into a large blender and blitz until smooth.

2. Transfer to a bowl and blitz the rest of the ingredients along with the ice cubes.

3. Add the second batch to the bowl and mix well to combine.

4. Serve immediately with croutons.

Orecchiette with Broccoli


For one week a year, I get to see all my international publishing friends. At the end of May each year, publishers and booksellers flock to New York for the annual Book Expo. The difference now is that I get to avoid the cacophonous Javits Center and just enjoy seeing my old publishing pals at fun dinners. The highlight of my week was a seven course tasting menu at Sushi Nakazawa. For those of you who have seen the incredible documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi, you may remember Jiro’s apprentice who labors for months perfecting his tamago sushi (egg sushi). That same apprentice, Daisuke Nakazawa, moved to New York and opened his eponomous restaurant in the West Village and I’ve been dying to go ever since.


Each year, I try to find the perfect place to take my friend Andrea from Switzerland. This year, the stakes were high as she was introducing me to her fiancé Hannes. Sushi Nakazawa did not disappoint; each spectacular course was paired with a new sake followed by the grand finale of his now famous tamago sushi. There’s a formality, authenticity and simplicity to the food that is utterly Japanese and made me miss Tokyo and the single mindedness of each eatery.


The fair ended, my friends left and the rain set in. I craved a night on the sofa with a bowl of my favorite comfort food and a good book. I turned to one of my staples that I have bizarrely never shared on this blog. It’s the one dish where I always have every ingredient on hand and never need to leave home to satisfy a craving. It even includes a green vegetable to feel vaguely virtuous. Less so when washed down with a gin and tonic with Haber’s tasty tonic!


Orecchiette with Broccoli

Serves 2


1/2 lb orecchiette

3 anchovy fillets

1 clove garlic (peeled)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup of broccoli florets (fresh or frozen work just as well)

crushed red pepper

1 tablespoon butter

freshly grated parmesan or pecorino cheese



1. Bring a large pot of salted water to the boil and start cooking the pasta.

2. In a pestle and mortar, crush the anchovy and garlic to a paste.

3. Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and add the anchovy garlic paste on a low heat. Next add, the broccoli, some red pepper flakes and continue cooking and stirring for 4-5 minutes.

4. Just before you drain the pasta, remove a cup of the boiling water for later use.

5. Add the drained pasta to the frying pan. Stir well and add the butter and a handful of grated cheese. If too dry, add some of the reserved water.

Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

I’ve been making these little beauties for so many years that I don’t remember where I first got the recipe. They are so simple to make that you barely need a recipe and you can make a large quantity very easily so they’re a perfect appetizer for a big Easter lunch. It’s all my favorite flavors in one mouthful; flaky pastry, sweet onions and cheese with a little kick. 


Caramelized Onion and Goat Cheese Tarts

Serves 8 as an appetizer



2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 red onions, cut lengthwise and sliced thinly

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus extra sprigs to save as garnish


Frozen puff pastry, defrosted but still cold

1 (8 oz.) log of goat cheese, put in freezer for approximately 30 minutes



1. Heat oven to 425° F.

2. In a large frying pan, melt the butter and olive oil. Add the onions and thyme and season well.

3. Fry on low heat for 20 – 25 minutes until the onions are soft and caramelized. Then turn the heat off and allow to cool.

4. Cut the pastry into approximately 4″ squares and lay on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper. You will need 8 squares

5. Add a small spoonful of the onion mixture to the center of each square, leaving a small rim of pastry.

6. Slice the goat cheese into 8 slices and put one slice on top of each of the onion tarts.

7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the pastry has risen and browned.

8. Serve warm with a bed of greens and top with fresh thyme.




Minestrone Soup


I left New York for London in the middle of a blizzard and returned to a completely different city. Away go the ubiquitous puffer jackets, away goes the blackened grimy snow that has been piled high for weeks. Out comes the sun and all the happiness that Spring brings after another brutal winter. Back to the farmers’ market I skipped and felt the need for copious vegetables after the excessive comfort foods enjoyed during hibernation. A fresh minestrone topped off with a dollop of pesto really hit the spot.


Minestrone Soup


3 tablespoon olive oil

2 white onions, peeled and chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 leek, washed and sliced

2 celery stalks, chopped

1 bunch of rainbow chard, washed and roughly chopped

2 zucchinis, halved lengthways and sliced thickly

1 handful of spinach, washed and roughly chopped

8 cups of good vegetable stock

1 medium potato, peeled

1 cup of cooked cannellini beans

Salt and freshly ground pepper

Fresh pesto

Parmesan cheese



1. Heat the olive oil in a large sauce pan, then add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes.

2. Continue adding the vegetables one at a time, letting each one cook for a minute or 2 before adding the next.

3. When the spinach has been added, season well with salt and add the stock and the potato.

4. Bring the pan to the boil and reduce to a simmer and cook until the potato is quite soft (approximately 20 minutes).

5. Add the cooked beans and remove the potato with a slotted spoon. Smash the potato with a fork and return to the soup to add thickness.

6. Season with salt and pepper and serve topped with a dollop of pesto (or some peppery extra virgin olive oil) and some freshly grated Parmesan cheese.

Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni



I’ve written a lot about my fairy godmother but not so much about my fairy godfather as I sadly see him and his family less. As a child, I was wholly unaware of his distinguished academic career at Harvard, which ran the gamut of teaching courses on repressive societies to presenting Nelson Mandela with an honorary degree. I was far more impressed by the fact that he was a bona fide member of The International Magician’s Guild and performed wondrous magic shows for me and my brother.


I have always attributed the fact that I am the lucky godmother to 6 super cool children to my constant bragging about my own godparents and how important and influential they have been in my life. I owe more to my godparents than I can ever express and I often think of how little I have done to show my gratitude. The only gift I’ve ever been able to give my godfather was to cook him his favorite dish. He’s quite verbal about his obsession with Cannelloni.


He and his granddaughter were visiting New York and I had long promised to make it for him. I had never made Cannelloni – it seemed like one of those dishes that was never quite worth the effort. One best ordered at a restaurant as it involved too many pots, pans and bowls let alone trying to use a piping bag or for that matter owning a piping bag! Surely there must be an easier way. And of course there was. What I thought would take hours to cook and clean up, can now be done in under half an hour in part thanks to the discovery of Jar Goods and their Classic Red Tomato Sauce which I unashamedly pour straight from the jar. This is the recipe I made for my godfather which, judging by his empty plate, seemed to satisfy his high standards.


Spinach and Ricotta Cannelloni
Serves 4

2 tablespoons of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
3 anchovy fillets rinsed and chopped
1 clove of garlic, finely sliced
700g (about 3 cups) of fresh spinach leaves, thoroughly washed and still wet
Grated nutmeg
1 pack of fresh lasagna sheets
2 cups ricotta cheese
1 cup of grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
Salt and pepper
1 jar of Classic Red Tomato Sauce
Fresh basil leaves


2 cups of whole milk
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons of butter
1/2 cup of flour
Salt and pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
2. In a large frying pan, heat the butter and olive oil. Add the anchovy fillets and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon until they become a paste. Add the garlic and fry for a minute or two until it begins to change color.
3. Begin adding the spinach and turning over using tongs. As the bottom layers begin to wilt, you will be able to keep adding until all the spinach fits.
4. When all the spinach has wilted (about 5 minutes), grate over some nutmeg, stir and transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool.
5. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to the boil and cook the lasagna sheets for 1 minute. Drain and rinse with cold water to stop the cooking process. Then, lay the sheets flat on tea towels to dry.
6. Now that the spinach has cooled, squeeze out any excess liquid and chop finely on a board.
7. Return spinach to the bowl and mix in the ricotta and Parmesan. Then season well with salt and pepper.
8. Make the béchamel (see below)
9. In an ovenproof dish large enough to fit the cannelloni, spread a layer of tomato sauce.
10. Cut the lasagna sheets so that they are approximately 4” x 8.” Add 2 heaped tablespoons of the spinach mixture along the length of each lasagna piece and roll into a tube. Lay each piece (seam down) on top of the tomato sauce and continue until the dish is full.
11. Spread over another layer of tomato sauce, followed by a layer of béchamel. Sprinkle the remaining Parmesan cheese on top and bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the sauce is bubbling and beginning to brown.
12. Garnish with chopped basil and serve with extra Parmesan at the table.


1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with a bay leaf to just below a simmer.
2. In another saucepan, melt the butter over a low heat.
3. When butter begins to bubble, add the flour and cook together for a few minutes, stirring continuously, without allowing the mixture to color.
4. Remove butter mixture from heat and whisk in the milk gradually.
5. Return the mixture to the stovetop and stir over low heat until thickened and smooth – about 15 minutes. The consistency is right when it coats the back of a spoon when tested.




Easy Dips and Spreads: Camille’s Hummus and Two Tasty Crostini


Everyone has their dish. The one they’re known for and have honed to perfection over years, tweaking here and there. Camille’s is hummus  – there’s always a bowl of it on the kitchen counter when I come round and it has ruined store bought hummus for me. There’s a secret to how she gets it so creamy that I’ve never seen in other recipes. She generously shared her much loved recipe with me and therefore all of you.


Another really easy appetizer to add to a party is a variety of crostini. I have a fridge full of jams and spreads and like to mix them with different cheeses on top of toasted slices of baguette. You can toast a whole bunch together on a cookie tray in the oven and if you’re feeling decadent, you can brush them with olive oil first. Two of my favorite that are pictured here are goat cheese topped with Vidalia Onion Jam and ricotta topped with Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly. I’ve always been a sucker for sweet and savory.


Crostini with Ricotta and Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly

Serves 15-20 people


1 baguette, sliced into 1/4″ slices

3/4 cup of olive oil

1 tub of ricotta (as fresh as can be found)

Salt to taste

1 jar of lavender honey (or even better Mr. Wittle’s Honey Lemon Lavender Jelly)



1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Slice the baguette thinly and arrange slices on two cookie trays. You can brush olive oil on both sides if you want but not necessary.

3. Bake until crispy and golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). Turn the trays halfway through baking.

4. Leave crostini to cool.

5. Meanwhile in a medium size bowl mix ricotta with salt to taste. You won’t need more than about 1/2 a teaspoon but it really makes a difference in taste.

6. Spread the ricotta on top of the crostini and top with a spoonful of Honey Lemon Lavender Jam.

7. Enjoy with friends!


Crostini with Goat Cheese and Vidalia Onion Jam

Serves 15-20 people


1 baguette, sliced into 1/4″ slices

3/4 cup of olive oil

1 log of goat cheese (about 8 oz.)

1 jar of Vidalia Onion Jam (or you can substitute 1/2 cup of caramelized onions)



1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. Slice the baguette thinly and arrange slices on two cookie trays. You can brush olive oil on both sides if you want but not necessary.

3. Bake until crispy and golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). Turn the trays halfway through baking.

4. Leave crostini to cool.

5. Meanwhile take goat cheese out of the refrigerator to allow it to come to room temperature. This makes it easier to spread.

6. Spread the goat cheese on top of the crostini and top with a spoonful of Vidalia Onion Jam.

7. Enjoy with friends!



Camille’s Hummus


1 heaped tablespoon of tahini

1 can of chickpeas (including liquid from can)

4 cloves of garlic (peeled)

1 tablespoon of cumin

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil

Salt to taste

A pinch of paprika (optional)



1. Take tahini out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature. Stir if necessary.

2. In a saucepan, heat the chickpeas and garlic along with all the liquid from the can.

3. Simmer on a low heat for approximately 10 minutes.

4. Add all ingredients to a blender (except paprika) and mix until smooth and creamy.

5. Serve in a bowl and sprinkle with a pinch of paprika for color to finish.

Chile Rellenos


There’s a ‘hole in the wall’ Mexican restaurant around the corner from me that has all of 5 tables and is consistently packed and for very good reason. While not exactly authentic, it’s definitely tasty. Lucky for me, they also deliver. Mexicana Mama has been a long time favorite for their perfect guacamole which is always where I run to when someone’s popping round for a quick drink. When my friend Maria still lived in New York, we had a standing date for Mexicana Mama’s Taco de Puerco and a movie on my sofa. It took me a long time to even try something else on their menu – I’m not great with change.


It’s only recently that I discovered their delicious Chile Rellenos; poblano chile peppers roasted and stuffed with corn and covered in cheese. My new found confidence in the kitchen, thanks to the recent Linguine with Clams success, had me deconstructing my latest delivery and deciding to give it a try in honor of the upcoming Cinco de Mayo. And yet again, I have a new favorite dish! I served it with rice and beans but it could also be a wonderful side dish to Pulled Beef Tacos. It’s a great dish for a dinner party as it can be completely made ahead and finished off in the oven.


Chile Rellenos
Serves 4 as a starter and 2 as a main


4 poblano peppers
2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 medium red onion (finely diced)
1 jalapeño pepper (finely diced)
4 ears of corn
2 teaspoons of cumin
1 handful of chopped fresh cilantro
1 good squeeze of lime
Salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup of grated Monterey Jack


Chipotle Lime Crema:
3 tablespoons of sour cream
1 teaspoon of adobo sauce
1 good squeeze of lime juice


1. Place the poblanos on a cookie tray and broil for about 20 minutes until completely charred. You’ll need to keep turning them as each side is charred.
2. When done, carefully put the poblanos into a brown paper bag and fold down the top to keep the air in. Leave to cool. You can also put in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Be careful not to lift from the stalk as you want to keep them as intact as possible.
3. Preheat the oven to 350. Then, in a large skillet, heat the olive oil and gently fry the onion and jalapeño on low heat for about 5 minutes.
4. Cut the corn off the cobs and add to the skillet, turn up the heat and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until ingredients are  slightly browned.
5. Add the cumin, cilantro, lime juice and stir to mix. Season well with salt and pepper.
6. Remove the peppers onto a board and gently remove the skins – they should peel off easily.
7. Cut each pepper lengthwise making sure not to cut through the other side and then very carefully remove all the seeds with a spoon.
8. Transfer the peppers to an oven proof dish and fill each generously with the corn mixture.
9. Cover each poblano with 1/4 cup of grated cheese and either bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. The cheese should be bubbling when ready.
10. Serve immediately with chipotle lime crema.