Goats’ Cheese and Spinach Tortilla

This isn’t so much a recipe as a suggestion. An idea. Inspiration. I know you know how to make this. Whether you call it a tortilla, or a frittata, or an omelette, or ‘miscellaneous egg dish’, you can cook this. But I find that sometimes you just cannot think of anything to cook. You know there has to be a meal. You know you have to make it. But what? Name some meals. Any ideas? Anything? And you can’t think of a single thing that people eat. Or maybe that’s just me when I’m tired.


Anyway, this is an excellent thing to cook. It can feed a group of people, or, if you are solo or one of a pair, you can keep the slices and they make excellent and re-heatable leftovers. You can put whatever odds and ends you have in the fridge in it. You can make it in twenty minutes. It’s very suitable on its own for breakfast – heated up or eaten on the hoof. It’s a perfect lunch and can be very easily transported to work, if that’s your jam. And it’s a satisfying dinner, served with salad or extra vegetables or a hunk of bread if you so choose. Sometimes, meals can just be simple.



Obviously you can add whatever you want to this, skipping out the meat if that’s not your thing, throwing in extra vegetables that are kicking around the fridge, or topping it with other cheeses. You do not have to know what you are doing.


3 tbsp olive oil
a knob of butter
400g little potatoes, unpeeled and sliced (baby new potatoes, Jersey Royals, Anya… anything like that)
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, crushed
leaves of 1 thyme sprig, finely chopped
leaves of 1 rosemary sprig, finely chopped
Pinch of paprika
Pinch of sea salt
150g chorizo, sliced
handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
200g spinach, chopped
8 large eggs, whisked
small log of goats cheese, sliced


  1. Heat your oven to 160C/140C fan/ gas 3. In your largest ovenproof frying pan – ideally non-stick – melt your butter and heat your oil on a medium heat. Then pop your potatoes, onion and garlic in, and begin to gently cook them. After a minute, add the thyme, rosemary, paprika, and salt, and stir everything together. Let it cook for a minute, then add your chorizo. Put a lid on your pan (if it doesn’t have a lid put a baking tray or something over it), and let everything sweat gently for five minutes
  2. When everything is soft, add your parsley and spinach, and stir to wilt the spinach. Take the pan off the heat and add your eggs. Stir together until everything is evenly distributed.  Lay your slices of goats’ cheese on top of the egg mixture.
  3. Put your pan in the oven for around 10-15 minutes, or until the egg is cooked through. If you like, you can give it a minute or two under the grill to bronze the top. Let it sit for five minutes before turning it out and slicing it.

Spinach and Sweet Potato Rolls

I was going to call these ‘vegetarian sausage rolls’ but, well, it seemed like a bit of a misnomer. They don’t really have anything to do with sausages, particularly those fake vegetarian sausages. I always feel like if you call a substitute for something the same name as the real thing you’re setting yourself up for failure. Like those sweet potato ‘brownies’. Or seitan ‘chicken’. If you set up the comparison, then the substitute will always suffer. Even if the substitute is something that’s actually perfectly delicious in its own right. This is my long and rambling way of explaining why these are called spinach and sweet potato rolls.


And I’m well aware that spinach and sweet potato rolls isn’t a very inspiring name either. But at least it tells you what you’re getting. And I’m hoping my enthusiasm for these will do the rest because, wow, they are so good. I actually prefer these to real sausage rolls. Something about the gently spiced spinach, the crispy pastry, and the pockets of salty cheese is absolutely irresistible. To me, anyway. I had about four of these straight out of the oven.


These would obviously be absolutely excellent at a buffet or a picnic, even though it still feels far too January to be thinking about such things. But they are also great for packed lunches – they keep well and can be eaten hot or cold. They also make a very satisfying lunch or dinner, alongside some salad or something (or, er, just eaten by the handful).



Adapted from this recipe.


Generous knob of butter
1 onion
4 cloves of garlic
400g sweet potato
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp tumeric
250g baby spinach leaves
400g can chickpeas
salt and pepper
200g feta cheese
1 bunch fresh coriander
1 bunch fresh parsley
2 sheets of pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp sesame seeds
1 tbsp nigella/black onion seeds


  1. Pop your largest frying pan on a medium heat and start to melt your butter. Dice your onion, and pop it into the foaming butter, then turn down the heat and let it cook gently for five minutes. Crush your garlic and add it to the pan. Peel and grate the sweet potato and add this too. Give everything a stir, and let it cook down for around 10 minutes, or until the potato is soft.
  2. When the sweet potato has softened, stir your cumin, turmeric, and spinach into the pan. Turn up the heat and cook for a couple of minutes, driving off some of the water from the spinach.
  3. Drain your chickpeas. Either process with 2 tbsp water to make a rough puree, or mash with a fork, as you prefer. Stir the chickpeas through the mixture. Taste, and season. Set the vegetable base aside to cool completely. You can put it in the fridge to speed this along if you like.
  4. Crumble the feta and finely chop your parsley and coriander. Stir these through the cold vegetable mixture.
  5. Unroll your two sheets of puff pastry, Halve your vegetable mixture. Put half of the mixture onto one of the pastry sheets. Shape it into a log, positioning the mixture around 1/3 of the way up the sheet, then roll the pastry round the filling. Seal it with beaten egg where the pastry edges overlap. Repeat with the second sheet of pastry and the rest of the mix, so that you have two logs of pastry stuffed with filling. Freeze the pastry logs for 30 minutes to firm them.
  6. Heat your oven to 200C/180C fan/ gas 4. Remove your pastry from the freezer. Brush the logs with beaten egg, sprinkle them with the seeds, and slice them into smaller rolls – the size is up to you. I like to slash each roll across the top but it isn’t absolutely necessary.
  7. Bake for around 25 minutes, or until your spinach and sweet potato rolls are golden, crispy, and smelling amazing.

Spinach, Artichoke, & Blue Cheese Galette

Ever really wanted some pie, considered making one, and then thought it was too much effort and fallen asleep on the sofa instead? Enter: the galette.

A galette will bring you the joy and happiness associated with eating pie, but with none of that ‘finding the right tin’ and ‘making sure the pastry doesn’t tear’ and ‘blind baking’ stuff that all seems like a bit of an effort. It’s free form. It’s rustic. You don’t even need a dish or a tin –  a flat baking tray will do the job admirably.


What you get is delicious, crisp, more-ish pastry, cuddling up informally with the filling of your choice. Here, I’ve gone savoury, with this spinach, artichoke, and blue cheese number. But you can use any pie filling you like (including sweet ones, if you omit the herbs and spices from the pastry), and still enjoy a delicious pie-like treat.

The best thing is that a galette is meant to look rustic. The pastry is inherently cracked and folded. You don’t need to worry about perfect pastry technique. If you’re nervous about rolling and shaping pastry, the galette is your friend. And it looks appealing and impressive enough to be pretty fancy, if that’s what you’re looking for. But it’s also easy enough to just be dinner. A really tasty dinner. I’m going to go and snack on some galette now.



Pretty liberally adapted from this recipe.


You may be wondering about the grated mozzarella. I would normally always go for a ball of mozzarella, rather than grated, but for this (and pizza toppings, incidentally), grated tends to work best because it’s not too wet, and is easy to distribute through fillings. That said, if you have whole mozzarella you’d rather use, that’ll be okay too if you shred it finely.


for the pastry
150g plain flour
150g wholemeal flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1-2 tsp very finely chopped fresh thyme
175g cold butter, cut into cubes
1 large egg yolk
2-4 tbsp cold water (start with 2)

for the filling
300g fresh spinach
Glug of olive oil
3 large cloves of garlic, crushed
Generous pinch of cayenne
Juice of ½ lemon
300g artichoke hearts, drained, any huge pieces cut in half (from a tin or a jar is fine)
115g grated mozzarella (see note)
Salt and pepper
80-120g blue cheese, broken into chunks (choose the amount according to how much you like blue cheese/how much you have lying around)
Handful of walnuts
1 egg, beaten
Handful of fresh basil leaves, to garnish


  1. Pop a small bowl of cold water in the fridge. Put both flours, salt, pepper, and chopped thyme in the food processor. Blitz briefly to combine. Add the cubed butter and pulse until everything is combined and looks like breadcrumbs. Add the egg yolk and two tablespoons of your fridge-cold water, and pulse again. If it’s starting to come together and looks like pastry, you’re done. If it still looks dry, add another tablespoon or two of cold water until it just comes together. Tip your pastry onto cling film, knead briefly to bring it to a disc shape, then wrap in the cling film and chill in the fridge while you make the filling.
  2. Heat your largest frying pan over a medium heat, add the spinach and cook until wilted, then keep cooking for a couple of minutes to drive some of the moisture off – you might have to do it in batches depending on the size of your pan. Tip the spinach into a sieve and get rid of as much excess liquid as you can – don’t be too precious about it, though, because you can spend your whole life trying to get liquid out of spinach.
  3. Put the spinach back in the pan and add the olive oil and the garlic. Cook the spinach with the garlic gently until it starts to smell tasty – 2 or 3 minutes. Take the pan off the heat and add the cayenne, lemon juice, artichokes, grated mozzarella, salt, and pepper, then leave the filling to cool – pop it in the fridge if you’re in a hurry.
  4. When your filling is cool, take your pastry out of the fridge. Flour your work surface and roll the dough to about the thickness of a £1 coin – aim for a circle-ish shape, but it doesn’t really matter. Transfer your pastry to a baking tray lined with baking parchment. Leaving approximately a 7cm border around the edges of the pastry, top the dough with the spinach mix, then scatter on the blue cheese and walnuts.
  5. Fold the edge of the dough over the filling – don’t worry if it cracks a bit, you’re going for rustic. Brush the crust with the beaten egg. Place the galette in the fridge for 15 minutes, or until ready to bake – if you want to get ahead, you can leave it in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 4. Bake the galette for 45-55 minutes, or until the crust is golden and crisp. Let it sit for five or ten minutes, then top with fresh basil, and serve.

Leiths: Foundation Term, Week 4

Let this week go down in history as the week that I actually seasoned some things correctly. On Monday, I made cauliflower cheese, and the seasoning was pronounced acceptable.

Let us all take a moment to consider this achievement.

Let’s bask in the glow of a correctly seasoned cauliflower cheese.



The ride continued when, on Tuesday, I produced well-seasoned spinach and chicken in tomato sauce. Then, on Wednesday and Thursday, well-seasoned fish. Want to know the secret? Loads of salt. Seriously. You season something as you normally would. Then add more salt. Add more salt. Think that’s enough? Ha. Fool. Add more salt. Now you’re good.

Another first, though less triumphant: this week I got my first burn. Not my first burn ever, obviously, but my first at Leiths. I took a tray from a 200 degree oven using oven gloves that had a hole in them. I didn’t realise they had a hole in them until the whole pain and burning flesh bit. Ow ow ow. Aren’t burns annoying? You sort of forget how inconvenient they are until you get one and then you remember the stinging. Oh, the stinging. On the plus side, that was on the Monday morning that we made roast beef as a table of four, and everything went surprisingly swimmingly. We had so much to do that morning that we thought we’d be stymied from the off, but we worked efficiently as a group and hit the service time perfectly. Also, best lunch ever.


Continuing down First Lane, we had our first real and proper exam this week: the WSET Level 1. Now, luckily we weren’t examined on our wine tasting skills, because as I have mentioned before, I am a bit, um, terrible at tasting wine like a professional. It tastes of booze, damnit, now bring me the bottle and stop asking questions. Instead, we had a 45 minute multiple choice question paper. Luckily they don’t tell us the results until just before Christmas, so I’ve got ages before I have to find out how badly I’ve done.

On Wednesday, we filleted sole. Tip: do not wield a very sharp filleting knife if your hands are shaking. Luckily we got to have another go at filleting on some beautiful plaice on Thursday and I managed to avoid completely cocking it up. We also made delicious meringues of joy (technical term for you there). You know, I thought I wasn’t that mad on meringues – I mean, I’ll eat them, I’m not crazy, it’s dessert – but when Hannah made them in the dem last week they were so good that I changed my mind, and luckily mine went well too. Perhaps I have just been doing them wrong for years. Anyway, I am a meringue convert.


We also had a cake dem with Sue, which was amazing because, well, cake dem. Scones, fruit cake, Swiss roll, ginger cake, yoghurt cake, Victoria sandwich… this was right after the meringues as well, so I floated home on a cloud of sugar. That’s a lie, obviously: it poured rain that day and I slogged back to the station to cram onto a train as always. But that’s a less romantic image.


This week, we also made Christmas cakes. In October. We’re going to lovingly feed and nurture them with alcohol for the next few weeks until we get to decorate and, hopefully, eat them. I must admit that traditional fruit cake is not usually my favourite, but when we tried some in Sue’s cake dem it was actually delicious. I am quite happy with how my little cake came out and am really looking forward to tasting it. In a few weeks. We’re all about the delayed gratification.


I went into the week thinking that Friday would be a lovely day, as we were starting with a slow-cooking meat dem and finishing by making lots of cake. Unfortunately, I reckoned without my comically brilliant ability to injure myself in ridiculous ways. I got up at 5.30am as usual, got into the shower, leaned down to pick something up, and my back went. I’ve been having issues with my back since an accident way back in July (I was trying roller derby and the universe always warns me off organised sports by making terrible things happen to me), but this is the first time I have had the experience of my back going from fine to completely not fine in one second for no apparent reason. I was literally paralysed, couldn’t move my legs, and thought I was going to black out from the pain. Poor James was sleeping, as normal people generally are at 5.45am, and was roused by me hysterically shouting for him in panic. He had to carry me out of the shower and lay me on the bed and together we slowly worked to get my legs moving again. Romance isn’t dead, people.

At this point, I was crying with pain, prostrate on my back, and half-paralysed, but bullish and determined to make it into school because I am a massive idiot. I took many painkillers and put on a heat pack and practised walking slowly around the bedroom until I felt less like collapsing. Of course, this all took such a long time that I missed my train, and I knew there was no way I’d be able to ride a bike for 4.5 miles at the other end of the journey anyway, so I decided to drive from Oxford to London. It was after I’d been stuck in solid, unmoving, accident traffic on the M40 for half an hour, still in agony and starving because I’d not had the chance to have breakfast, that I started to think that perhaps I should have admitted defeat and stayed in bed.

It was all worth it in the end though, because Heli did the slow cooking dem for us, and the food was pure, delicious comfort. Cottage pie, lamb daube, carbonnade of beef, oxtail stew, and loads of mashed potato. I sat in the dem room and slowly calmed down, aided by occasional injections of slow cooked meat and carbs. Then I limped through an afternoon of baking. My Victoria sandwich was one of the messiest cakes I have ever made, but I was happy with my Swiss roll, and even happier that I got to gently medicate myself with sugar all afternoon.


On Monday we begin Week 5, the completion of which will mark the halfway point of the first term. Somehow it’s nearly November, the leaves are going, I’m back in wool tights and knee-high boots, and the fact that there are Christmas things in the shops doesn’t seem utterly ridiculous.

I bought some Calvados to feed my Christmas cake. That’ll work, right?



Spinach and Lentil Pie

A quick post, today, before I cycle back to the boat to get ready for the Bastard English Session. It’s a folk music session in our local pub, which also happens to be where we’re having our wedding next year. Everyone gets together and plays folk music and sings pop songs and gets drunk and rowdy in the best possible way. Alright, so I can’t play any instruments, but I can definitely drink wine and sing along raucously.

So, yes: things to do, places to be, all of the utmost importance. I hope you all have similarly enjoyable Friday nights planned.


I’ve mentioned this pie, very briefly, before. It’s my mother’s recipe, although I have no idea where she got it originally, and I have adapted it a bit here. I became absolutely obsessed with it as a teenager, and requested it over and over again. I don’t know why, because it sounds – and looks – like such a humble dish, but for some reason I found it irresistibly delicious.

Funnily enough, even though I have had the recipe for years, this is the first time I have actually made it myself. I’d never quite gotten around to it, and this was at least in part because I was worried it wouldn’t live up to my memories. I thought it wouldn’t taste as good as I remembered.

Luckily, these fears were unfounded. See this massive pie? I ate 4/5 of it. Not in one sitting, I might add, but… it didn’t take me long, let’s put it that way. James had some too, and although I think he liked it, he certainly wasn’t as madly obsessed with it as I am. So, while I am sure you will enjoy it if you do decide to make it, please bear in mind that the crazy dedication to it is unique to me, and it’s not an inherently magical pie.


Notes: Is this healthy? I don’t know. I think the filling is healthy – anything full of that much spinach has to be healthy, right? – but that may be negated by the fact that it’s smothered in pastry. It keeps very well for a couple of days in the fridge, and the filling can be frozen. Feel free to use whatever savoury shortcrust recipe you like.

This pie could serve 5-6 people, as long as one of those people isn’t me.


for the pastry (this makes enough for a base, lid, and decorations – if you only want a lid, halve the quantities) 

500g plain flour
big pinch of salt
280g chilled butter
3 large egg yolks
6 tbsp chilled water

for the filling

175g red lentils
450ml water
800g fresh spinach, washed and shredded
250g cottage cheese
25g butter
15g plain flour
300ml milk
sprig of thyme
bay leaf
¼ tsp grated nutmeg


  1. First, make your pastry. I am a lazy heathen and make it in the food processor. Put your flour and salt in the food processor. Cut your cold butter into little pieces and sprinkle them on top of the flour. Pulse in the food processor briefly until your get a breadcrumb texture.
  2. Beat your egg yolks with 3 tbsp of the water, drizzle over the dry mixture, then pulse to combine. The mixture should start to come together, but if it doesn’t, keep adding the water until it does. Don’t let it get too wet. Tip the pastry out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead it briefly until it comes together. Shape it into a thick disc, wrap in clingfilm, and chill in the fridge for half an hour.
  3. Get on with making your filling. Put your lentils and water into a saucepan and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer gently for 10-15 minutes, or until the lentils have absorbed all the water and gone soft. Beat into a purée.
  4. Lightly cook your spinach however you like – you could put it in a colander and tip a kettle of boiling water over it, or nuke it in the microwave for two minutes, or cook it gently on the hob. Put the spinach in your biggest pan – I use a wok – and mix in the lentil purée and cottage cheese.
  5. You then need to make a basic sauce, which makes the mixture thick and creamy. Melt the butter in a saucepan, tip the flour in, and whisk it over a low heat for around three minutes to cook the flour out and make a roux. Gradually pour the milk into the pan, whisking all the while. It will initially go lumpy, but then smooth out. Add the herbs, nutmeg, and some salt and pepper. Gently bring the sauce to the boil and thicken. Mix the sauce with the spinach mixture. Leave it to cool and thicken.
  6. Preheat the oven to 200C/ 180C fan/ gas 6. Get the pastry out of the fridge and divide it into two pieces, one slightly bigger. Use the bigger one to line a pie dish, and pop the other half back into the fridge for now. Blind bake your pastry for fifteen minutes, and then remove whatever weights you’ve used and give it five more minutes. Your pastry should now be dry, sandy, and very lightly coloured.
  7. Tip your filling into the pastry case. Roll out the other half of the pastry and use it as a lid. Save scraps for decorations, if you’re feeling fancy. Brush the pastry with a bit of milk or the eggwhites you have leftover if you like, for colour.
  8. Bake your pie for around 30 minutes, or until the pastry is dry and golden.