Tuesday, 10 November 2015


I don't do restaurant reviews but this was just so enjoyable I have to share. Neither Mr Redding nor I work on a Friday - a sign of the straightened times the charity sector finds itself in but an arrangement we have both embraced. Normally we spend Fridays looking for the ideal seaside town to retire to in a couple of years but this Friday an unexpected work engagement meant we felt justified in taking ourselves out for lunch.  I remembered seeing a couple of reviews of Medlar, and various Twitter people saying how good it was, so on a cold November lunchtime we were very happy to enter the lovely dining room - nothing pretentious, cool and neutral tones, and a gentle murmur of happy people eating...and no music, praise be.

Before we get on to food I must put in a word for our sommelier - we kind of knew what wine we wanted  but he was so thoughtful and knowledgeable, and didn't try to upsell. As someone who comes from a background where a bottle of Piesporter was the height of sophistication even though we were eating steak I can still feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes to wine but he made me feel those 6 evenings spent on a wine tasting course in Putney five years ago weren't totally wasted.

So, with a glass of champagne in hand, we read the menu, ordered and ate - it was all delicious, beautifully cooked, with magical little touches like the rissole that accompanied the venison - and the crab ravioli with its seafood bisque was something I would be happy to have for lunch every day - just the right side of grand French opulence.

I will let the pictures do the talking....

Buffalo burrata with tempura artichoke, speck, rocket pesto, vincotto and hazelnuts


Crab raviolo with samphire, brown shrimps, fondue of leeks and bisque sauce

Under blade fillet with shin and pickled walnut croquettes, triple cooked chips and béarnaise

Venison loin with rissole, choucroute, beetroot and braised shallot

Cheese and biscuits

Rose custard with orange, cardamom, saffron and pistachio 

Accompanying it all were delicious wines including a slightly off-dry white from Luxembourg for our starters, an incredibly deep, spicy, complex Cote du Rhone with our mains and an amazing yuzu flavoured sake to go with the pudding. Service was friendly, efficient and professional - the whole experience was delightful, down to the bag of passion fruit marshmallows and chocolate truffles we were given to take home.  When you next need spoiling go to Medlar.

Thursday, 17 September 2015


I make no claims for the authenticity of this dish. I must have used a recipe the first time I made it but that was many moons ago and now this is the way I do it. It uses quantities of ingredients that are as I buy them so there are no annoying left over bits of packets of stuff apart from the filo - I use exactly half a packet so just freeze the remainder for the next time you make this - and I think you will. We are confirmed meat eaters but this has such refreshing yet comforting flavours you don't miss the meat.  The combination of irony spinach, with notes of dill and mint and the salty tang of feta with the crunch of the pastry and pine nuts is just lovely - I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.


450g spinach
I onion sliced finely
25g mint chopped
20g dill chopped
200g feta, broken into walnut sized lumps
Olive oil
135g filo pastry
Handful of pine nuts

7" non stick round cake tin

Heat the oven to 180 degrees

Thoroughly wash the spinach then cook until just wilted. I do this in a large frying pan, it usually takes two batches. Add a tiny bit of oil to make sure it doesn't stick, put the washed spinach in and leave on a low light for 4-5 minutes, turning as it cooks.  You won't need to add any water - in fact, after it has cooked, turn into a large sieve of colander and press until you have extracted as much water as possible. Chop finely and put in  large bowl.

Cook the onion very gently in a splash of olive oil for 7-20 minutes until it has almost melted.

Add the onion, dill and mint to the spinach, mix thoroughly then gently fold in the feta.

Pour about 3 tablespoons of oil into a small bowl and take the filo out of its packaging. If you're a fast worker that's ok, if you're not then over the filo with a damp tea towel to stop it drying out.

Use four sheets of filo, each brushed with oil, to line the cake tin.  Spoon in the spinach mixture then use another couple  of sheets, also brushed with oil, to cover. Trim and fold the filo so that the filling is totally encased. use any left over bits of filo to scrunch up and decorate the top of the pie and sprinkle over the pine nuts.

Bake for around 30 minutes. If you need a side a simple tomato and cucumber salad goes rather nicely.


Along with a lot of people I am a huge fan of Dan Leppard and am the proud owner of his book 'Short and Sweet'. His Lemon and Poppyseed Cake is a triumph and should be made by everyone immediately but I am also a huge fan of his Cherry Polenta cake.

I don't make cakes or pudding very often but this Sunday I just felt like baking. As I hadn't actually planned anything I had a rake through the freezer where I found a bag of blackcurrants bought frozen from a Garden Centre on the way back from Bath in May - whenever I see blackcurrants I always snap them up as they rarely make it to grocers or supermarkets, I believe Ribena snaffles most of them up and I do love blackcurrants. We are probably talking about around 500g of blackcurrants. I pondered the idea of making a mousse, or perhaps a blackcurrant crumble but then I remembered the cherry polenta cake and thought - why not?

I halved the amount of mix for this cake as there are only 2 of us on a Sunday - I used a correspondingly smaller tin. The addition of pine nuts, as recommended by Dan, really make the cake - adding that bit of crunch to an otherwise sumptuously moist cake. I haven't given you the recipe - you'll have to go and buy the book!

Sunday, 26 July 2015


I am slowly getting my cooking mojo back after a combination of events - my Dad dying in August, being crazy busy at work and getting rushed into hospital at the end of December with dried up kidneys and a digestive system in freefall. But here we are, just about back to full fitness and getting my appetite back, for both eating and cooking. I find my tastes have changed though - I can no longer eat, or particularly enjoy, large amounts of red meat, in fact large amounts of anything are a struggle.  I am making more salads, more fish and old favourites like a lump of roast lamb are taking a back seat.

One of our regular Saturday night meals was chilli con carne but in looking for something lighter I decided to use chicken thighs in the same kind of seasoning and served with an avocado relish and brown and wild rice. The end result was delicious, light enough for me but tasty enough for Mr Redding.  I used chicken thighs because I think it needs to be cooked for a while to meld the flavours and breast would become tough.



500g chicken thigh fillets, cut into 2cm cubes

I onion, finely sliced
Couple of cloves of garlic crushed or grated
Tin of black eyed beans
4 jalapeno chillies, red or green or a combination, chopped
Dessertspoon of sweet smoked paprika
Teaspoon of ground cumin
Tablespoon of flour
Handful of chopped coriander


I ripe avocado, chopped
I ripe tomato, chopped
I shallot, finely chopped
Juice of a lime
Handful of chopped coriander

Slowly sweat the onion and garlic off in a generous tablespoon of olive oil until soft and translucent, probably about ten minutes.  Add the chicken, turn up the heat, and when it has all changed colour and browned a little add the beans, chillies, paprika and cumin. Give all that a good stir, then stir in the flour making sure it is all distributed, then stir in half a pint of water, bring to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes.  Taste, season and stir in the coriander just before serving.

To make the avocado relish just combine all the ingredients 10 minutes before you want to eat and chill. I served it with  combination of wild and brown rice. The picture really doesn't do it justice!