Strawberry mascarpone tart

All photography © Heather Elizabeth Wilkinson 2012

Nigel Slater’s Kitchen Diaries is one of my most cherished cookery books, and I find myself returning to it again and again for inspiration. His warm, and somewhat magical, writing style and beautifully simple recipes tick all the right boxes for me.

There’s rebelliousness to Nigel’s cooking that I really admire. He inspires me to feel that cooking is an adventure and perfection is never the aim. Preparing meals to please yourself and your loved ones – that’s what it’s all about. I say hooray for Nigel. I bloomin’ love him!

Anyway, enough of the Nigel love-fest and on with the cooking. This is one of my favourite recipes from Kitchen Diaries 1. Rather than using the almond or orange biscuits that Nigel suggests, I opted for crushed shortbread (shortbread fingers, to be exact).  So what I ended up with was a version of a strawberry shortcake tart – and my goodness did it taste good!

The tart makes an ideal dessert, but my preference is as an afternoon treat accompanied by a glass of chilled prosecco.

You can find Nigel’s recipe here.

Review: Mr Wolfe, Brighton

Mr Wolfe, Brighton
Mr Wolfe, Brighton
Homemade Cake at Mr Wolfe, Brighton
Homemade Cake at Mr Wolfe, Brighton
Homemade Cake at Mr Wolfe, BrightonHomemade Cake at Mr Wolfe, Brighton
Mr Wolfe Brighton
Monmouth coffee at Mr Wolfe Brighton
Monmouth coffee at Mr Wolfe Brighton
Monmouth coffee at Mr Wolfe Brighton

If there’s one thing that Brighton’s not short of it’s coffee shops, but in amongst all the usual chains there are a handful of independents to delight true coffee fans.

Mr Wolfe is a hidden gem tucked away in Montpelier Place, close to Seven Dials and stone’s throw from the madding crowds of Western Road.The coffee served is finest Monmouth and the baked goods are all handmade – orange blossom pistachio cake with mascarpone icing, anyone?Inside it’s quite compact, but like so many places in Brighton, particularly some of the flats in that area, the high ceilings provide a sense of space.

The fact that the owners, Travis and his wife, both have backgrounds in design is completely apparent from the moment you step inside: jet-black interior, a bespoke wooden counter top, chalk menu boards and a generous dose of vintage china. Even the café’s logo is an example of wonderfully executed design.

It’s a joy to find somewhere that offers an escape from the hustle and bustle of the Lanes, and with plenty of personality too.

A massive thanks to Travis and the team for being so lovely and allowing me take so many photographs – I’m still trying to silence my tummy rumbles from editing all the cake pics!

You can check out Mr Wolfe here.

All photography © Heather Elizabeth Wilkinson 2012

Chicken noodle soup

In my last post, I promised recipe ideas for leftover roast chicken. So, here goes with the first, ideal for this time of year when you want something warm, satisfying and healthy. This recipe serves two people.

You will need:
2 pints of chicken stock (read my last post for a how-to)
1 tsp caster sugar
half a red chilli
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
2 tbps of dry sherry
2 portions of dried egg noodles (thick, thin, or whatever you prefer)
½ small leek, shredded
Leftover roast chicken, cut into small slices or bite-sized pieces
2 tsp sesame oil
A handful of fresh coriander

Add the stock, a mug of cold water, soy sauce, chilli, sugar, star anise, cinnamon and sherry to a large saucepan. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat right down and allow to simmer very gently. In a separate pan, cook your noodles, drain and then toss in the sesame oil. Remove your soup mixture from the heat and sieve it over a bowl or pan.

Divide your noodles between two big bowls, ladle the soup over the noodles and then add chicken. To finish, add shredded leeks and coriander and, if you’re feeling adventurous, some thin slices of red chilli too.

Keep your eyes peeled over the next few days for the final roast chicken recipe.

I almost forgot to mention that I was really chuffed to be featured on Fiona Beckett’s (Guardian food and wine columnist) lovely blog recently. Thanks Fiona!