A simple healthy slider (or mini burger) first published by my UK publishers Ryland Peters & Small in a book entitled Burgers + Sliders. This recipe was voted their best ever veggie burger, so go for it and get healthy and happy.
Super greens courgette/zucchini sliders whipped feta and kale crisps
Lovely vibrant green sliders served with crispy kale chips, perfect for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. You will need thick curly kale for the chips as it is more robust than baby kale leaves.
2 courgettes or zucchini (about 500g)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
8 small poppy seed rolls
100g kale, trimmed
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
60g rocket leaves
1 garlic clove, chopped
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
25g creme fraiche
Trim the courgette/zucchini and cut lengthways into 3mm thick slices. Grate the lemon and squeeze the juice into a bowl. Add the oil and some salt and pepper. Place the courgette/zucchini slices in a shallow dish, pour over the dressing and stir well to coat. Leave to marinate for 30 minutes.
Make kale crisps. Preheat the oven to 150c/300f/gas mark 3 and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Shred the kale into bite size pieces, discarding the thick stalk and place in a bowl, combine with the oil and caress until the leaves are well coated. Scatter over the prepared tray and roast for 18-20 minutes until crisp. Season with salt and pepper and scatter with the sesame seeds.
Make pesto. Toast the pumpkin seeds in a small frying pan over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until golden. Cool and place in a food processor with the rocket, garlic, oil and a little salt and pepper. Blend until smooth.
Make the whipped feta. Place the ingredients in a blender and puree until really smooth.
To serve, heat a griddle pan until hot and cook the courgette/zucchini slices for 2-3 minutes each side until charred and tender. Cut the rolls in half and toast the cut sides. Fill the rolls with the zucchini slices, whipped feta, pesto and some of the kale crisps. Serve with the remaining kale crisps on the side.
This pungent, vibrant, intriguing spice has captured the hearts and imagination of thousands before me, leaving it’s stain on a fascinating and turbulent history. The tiny thread-like stigma from a variety of crocus known as crocus sativus is the world’s most expensive spice. It is used to colour and flavour food, dye clothes and as well as having some health benefits.
The name derives from the Arabic word zafran, meaning yellow, a reference to the golden colour that saffron turns both our food and clothes. With bright purple flowers each plant only produces just 4 and each flower only 3 stigmas. It takes over 75,000 flowers to produce 500g of spice (450 for just 10g). Add to this the fact that even today saffron strands are picked and removed by hand, it’s easy to understand why saffron is, ounce for ounce, more expensive than gold.
From ancient times, it’s colour,
aroma and flavour seduced royalty. Cleopatra bathed in it, believing it made
her more alluring. The Romans alleged it would cure many ills. Indians used it to
dye clothes whilst Buddhist priests decreed that all their robes would be dyed
orange with golden saffron. Trade brought wealth and power to merchants and
growers but along with that came conflict culminating in a 14 day saffron war
Originating in the Arab world, saffron spread from India in the east and to Europe and as far as America to the west. By the 16th century it was being farmed in large quantities in England. Former geophysicist turned saffron farmer David Smale tells us “these days saffron is more associated with exotic locations such as Iran, Morocco and Spain, but in the past English saffron has been, by reputation, the best in the world”. David, among other British saffron farmers, is looking to put the UK back on the saffron map.
Above all else saffron is
celebrated and loved for it’s culinary delights. The flavour is hard to define, but I liken it to a pungent, aromatic,
but slightly metallic honey with powerful overtones of hay or dry grass made
warm by the sun; it is both exotic and familiar. Often associated with rice
dishes such as Indian biryani, Arabic pilaf and Spanish paella this golden
spice is also the star of many classic seafood soups, bouillabaisse from
Marseille, being the most famous. It is just as good in sweet dishes such as
cakes, breads and even ice cream. I love to add a teaspoon of strands to vodka
or gin adding an aromatic flavour and glorious colour.
Saffron facts you should know
Rich in Vitamins A, C and a good source of beta carotene, saffron has long been regarded as having medicinal benefits. It has antibacterial qualities and can aid digestion, help treat stomach aches and bronchitis. There are on going studies to see if it can be beneficial in helping prevent cancer.
Today over 90% of the saffron we buy is grown in Iran, often then being packaged in Spain.
Price does not necessarily indicate quality. Buy, try and find the brand you like best, from a reputable supplier.
Buy strands rather than the powder, which should be more red than yellow or orange. The redder the stigmas, the better the quality.
Add saffron cautiously, a little can go a long way and remember you can add but you can’t take away.
As a rule saffron is steeped in water or another liquid before being added to a dish as it isn’t water-soluble. However certain dishes, such as Indian biryani, Arab Pilaf and Spanish paella have the strands scattered over the top of the rice as it cooks, staining it that wonderful golden hue where it sits.
If you are lucky enough to have a saffron farm nearby, buy direct from them for freshness.
Strawberry and saffron jam
Make: 4 x 300 ml jars
This recipe is adapted from one that is made at a local saffron fam in The Charente Maritime Safran de l’Estaire. The addition of saffron is subtle but intriguing. You will need a sugar thermometer for this recipe and because strawberries have a low pectin level the resulting jam is not as set as some, but nonetheless delicious.
2 teaspoons saffron strands
1.5kg strawberries, hulled
juice 1 large lemon
1.25 kg granulated sugar
Grind the saffron strands to form a
powder using a pestle and mortar. Set aside.
Put the strawberries and lemon
juice into a large saucepan and place over a low heat until the strawberries
soften. Then simmer gently, uncovered for about 20 minutes until really pulpy. Carefully
remove about 1/3 of the strawberries using a slotted spoon and set aside.
Add the sugar and the powdered saffron
and stir gently until the sugar dissolves. Bring to the boil and simmer without
stirring for about 40 minutes or until the jam reaches 105c/221f on a sugar
thermometer. Remove any scum from the surface of the jam.
Meanwhile, sterilise the jars. Wash
and dry the jars thoroughly and sit, facing upwards, in a roasting tin lined
with baking paper. Place in a preheated oven 100c/220f until required.
Ladle the jam straight into the hot
sterilised jars and seal immediately. Label and date the jars once the jam is
cold. Store for 2up to 12 months in a cool, dark place. Refrigerate once
Home semi-salted cod with saffron aioli
Salt cod with aioli is a classic combination popular throughout Spain and southern France.
4 x 150 g cod fillets
2 tbsp sea salt
750g sweet potatoes, peeled and
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus
extra to drizzle
350g French beans, trimmed
a handful flat leaf parsley leaves
1/4 tsp saffron strands
1 tbsp boiling water
2 egg yolks
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp white wine vinegar
200 ml mild extra virgin olive oil
Place the cod fillets in a plastic container. Scatter over the salt, turning the fish so that it is salted all over. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge for 2 hours. Turn the fish over half way through.
Place the saffron strands in a
small bowl and soak in boiling water for 5 minutes. Place the egg yolks,
garlic, mustard, vinegar and salt and pepper in a bowl and whisk with electric
beaters until pale and frothy. Very gradually whisk in the oil a little at a
time until the mixture thickens and becomes glossy. Add the saffron and the
liquid and whisk again. Cover the surface with cling film and set aside until
Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6 and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Place the potatoes in the prepared tin, season well and drizzle over 1 tablespoon of the oil, stir well to coat. Roast for 40-45 minutes, stirring halfway through until the potatoes are browned and tender.
Wash and dry the salted fish. Place
the fish in a steamer, cover and cook for 4-5 minutes until cooked through.
Rest for a few minutes. Meanwhile, cook the beans in a pan of lightly salted,
boiling water for 2-3 minutes until al dente. Drain well.
Divide the potatoes and beans
between warmed serving plates and top with the fish and a spoonful of the
saffron aioli. Drizzle with a little extra oil. Garnish with some parsley and serve
Risotto Milanese with a twist
A classic risotto Milanese is made with saffron and
frequently served with osso bucco.
Here the marrow bones are used on their own to add a lovely depth of flavour to
the rice dish.
small veal bones (ask your local butcher to source these for you)
sprigs fresh thyme, plus a few leaves to garnish
litres good quality chicken stock, heated until just boiling
tsp saffron strands
shallots, finely chopped
large garlic cloves, finely chopped
Italian dry white wine
g freshly grated Parmesan cheese
the oven to 225c/425f/gas mark 7 and line a roasting tin with baking paper. Place
the veal bones in the prepared tin, sprinkle the marrow with salt and pepper
and top with a thyme sprig. Roast for 20-25 minutes until the marrow is hot all
the way through (check with a metal skewer) and sitting in a pool of melted
marrow. Keep warm.
the stock and saffron strands in a saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.
melt the butter and in a saucepan and gently fry the shallots and garlic with a
little salt and pepper over a low heat for 10 minutes until really soft, but
not browned. Add the rice and stir for about 1 minute until all the grains
the heat to medium. Add the wine and simmer for 2-3 minutes until it is almost
all evaporated. Gradually start adding the gently simmering stock about 200 ml
at a time, stirring the rice constantly with a wooden spoon, allowing the rice
to absorb most of the stock before adding more. Continue this for about 20
minutes until the rice is al dente and the stock all but absorbed.
in the Parmesan and the juices released from the bone marrow and as soon as the
cheese is melted spoon into serving bowls. Place a roasted bone marrow in each
bowl and serve scattered with extra cheese and some thyme leaves.
Simple lamb brochettes with saffron
With its origins firmly imbedded in
the Middle East saffron is integral to many of the countries classic dishes and
pilaf is just one of these. Here the rice is cooked separately and served with
brochettes of spiced lamb.
250g basmati rice
500g boneless lamb neck
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp ground sumac
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 tsp cumin seeds
4 cardamom pods, crushed
1 cinnamon stick, bruised
75g pistachio nuts, chopped
1 tsp saffron strands
2 tbsp chopped fresh coriander
juice 1/2 lemon
salt and pepper
Greek yogurt and lemon wedges, to
Place the rice in a bowl and cover with
cold water, leave to soak for a couple of hours. Drain and shake dry.
Cut the lamb into small bite size
pieces. Combine 2 teaspoons of the sumac with the oil, salt and pepper and toss
with the lamb. Thread onto skewers and set aside until ready to cook. Combine
the remaining sumac with 1 teaspoon salt.
Melt 25 g of the butter in a frying
pan and fry half the onions with a little salt for 15 minutes until crisp and
golden. Set aside.
Melt the remaining butter in a
saucepan and fry the remaining onion and spices with a little salt and pepper
for 5 minutes. Add the rice, stir well to coat the grains and add 500ml water.
Bring to the boil and scatter over the raisins, pistachio nuts and saffron,
cover and simmer over a very gentle heat for 12 minutes. Turn the heat off and
leave to sit for a further 10 minutes, then stir in the coriander.
Meanwhile, char-grill the lamb
either under a hot grill or on a ridged grill pan for 2-3 minutes each side
until cooked on the outside but still pink inside. Transfer to a plate and
squeeze over the lemon juice.
Serve the rice scattered with the
crispy onions and the brochettes with some yogurt and the sumac salt.
Orange, cashew and saffron syrup
The saffron and orange syrup is poured over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven, so it absorbs both flavour and moisture as it cools, resulting in a lovely aromatic and moist cake. It keeps well for 3 days wrapped in foil and stored in an airtight tin.
175g unsalted butter, softened
175g soft light brown sugar
grated zest 1 orange (juice
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tbsp orange flour water
225g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
75g cashew nuts, finely ground
orange and saffron syrup
pared zest and juice 2 oranges
125g caster sugar
1/2 tsp saffron strands
crème fraiche or Greek yogurt, to
Preheat the oven to 170c/150f/gas
mark 3 and grease and line a 1kg loaf tin. Using electric beaters, beat the
butter, sugar and orange zest together until pale and creamy and then gradually
whisk in the eggs and orange flower water a little at a time until combined,
adding a little flour each time to prevent the mixture curdling. Fold in the remaining
flour, baking powder and ground cashews until evenly combined.
Spoon into to the prepared tin and
smooth the surface making a slight indent in the centre. Bake for 11/4 hours,
covering the surface of the cake with foil after 45 minutes if it begins to
brown. Pierce the cake with a skewer, if it comes out clean, the cake is ready.
Meanwhile, make the syrup. Place
the juice of all 3 oranges and the sugar in a saucepan and bring slowly to the
boiling, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Add the orange zest and simmer
for 5 minutes or until the mixture is thickened and syrupy. Remove from the
heat and stir in the saffron. Set aside to infuse, keeping it warm.
As soon as the cake is cooked,
pierce holes all over the surface using a metal skewer. Spoon over 2/3 of the
syrup and leave the cake to cool in the tin.
Turn the cooled cake out onto a platter and cut into slices. Serve drizzled with the remaining syrup and some crème fraiche or Greek yogurt.
It’s hard to bemoan the summer harvest when you have lovingly cared for your soil, seedlings, shoots, plants and finally the fruits, but given that I only planted 1 courgette plant this year, I am still struggling to use all my courgettes! I have of course travelled the well trodden path of shredding, spiralling, grating, frying, pickling et all, but just when I had got to the end of my courgette recipe tether, I remembered a truly wonderful soup I enjoyed a year or so back in a small cafe in Beckles, Suffolk in the UK. It was of course the recipe of today’s blog.
Today’s freshly picked courgettes and mint, sadly the lemons were shop bought. If straight from the garden, wash well and then pat dry.
Firstly, trim courgettes and cut approximately into 2 cm chunks. Take 1 lemon, chop roughly into abut 12 pieces. Add to a paper lined roasting tin with some, salt, pepper and a good slug of olive oil. Stir well. Then into the oven.
Meanwhile, peel, trim and finely chop some garlic cloves and an onion or too, depending on the size.
You’ll also need to finely grate the zest of a second lemon. Remember if they are waxed, give them a good wash and dry before using.
While the courgettes are roasting you can start frying the remaining ingredients in a large saucepan. Use olive oil and add some salt and pepper to the pan. I like a small pinch of chilli flakes here, but this is optional.
Once the onion has softened you want to measure your chicken stock. I always make my own stock, but you can use stock cubes. I measure the amount I need, then make sure I have a little but more, just in case I need to thin the soup down.
At this stage the courgettes should be nicely browned. Have a peak in the oven and remove them or continue to cook for a while longer, if necessary. You can see in the pic, that both the courgettes and the lemons have charred edges.
Using tongs, pick out and discard the lemons, squeezing any juice back into the pan. Scrape all the courgettes and pan juices into the waiting saucepan, then add enough stock to just cover the courgettes. Bring the pan to a simmer and cook.
While the stock comes to the boil, roughly chop a good handful of the picked mint leaves and squeeze the lemon juice.
And now for my secret ingredient – well obviously not so secret now! I like to add a good slug (about 2 teaspoons) of runny honey. The sweetness is the perfect balance for the sourness of the lemons. Add, taste, then add more if needed.
Once the soup has simmered for a few minutes you can add the remaining ingredients. The soup is now ready to blend – I like to blend it as is, check I am happy with the texture and if necessary, I will add a little more stock and heat through.
Roasted Courgette Soup with Lemon and Mint
Now we are ready to eat. I thorough recommend drizzling another good slug of olive oil over each serve – don’t forget to the bread to mop the bowl clean. Enjoy
4 large courgettes, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1-11/4 litres chicken or vegetable stock
A large handful roughly chopped mint leaves
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220c. Cut the courgette into 2 cm chunks and place in a roasting tin lined with baking paper. Cut 1 lemon into similar size chunks and add to the pan with half the oil, salt and pepper. Stir well and roast for 30-35 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until the courgettes are browned and softened. Discard the chunks of lemon.
Finely grate the zest of the remaining lemon and squeeze the juice into a separate bowl.
Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan and fry the onion, grated lemon zest, garlic and a little salt and pepper for 5 minutes until soft. Add the roasted courgettes and any pan juices and pour in the stock.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add the lemon juice, mint leaves and honey. Process with a stick blender or in a liquidiser until really smooth. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve hot, or if preferred allow to cool, chill and serve cold.
With the wondrous fresh bounty in our veggie plots, markets and shops, it seems a no brainer that we make the very most of summer ‘s fresh ingredients with some simply delicious main course salads – add a few slices of sushi grade salmon or a local soft goat cheese and summer never tasted do good.
Salmon sashimi salad with quinoa and miso dressing
150g red or white quinoa
60g baby Asian salad leaves
12 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
100g podded Edamame beans
1 small avocado, peeled, stoned and cut into wedges
400g sashimi-grade salmon fillet*
2 tablespoons black sesame seeds
a handful of chives, snipped
chive flowers, optional
1 tablespoon caster sugar
2 tablespoons white miso paste
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
Place the quinoa in a small saucepan with 300ml water. Bring to the boil and simmer gently, uncovered for 10-15 minutes until the grains are al dente and water absorbed. Set aside to cool in the pan.
Make the dressing. Place the mirin, sake and caster sugar in a small saucepan. Heat gently, stirring until it reaches the boil. Simmer for 1 minute, then set aside to go cold. Whisk in the remaining ingredients until evenly combined.
Transfer the quinoa to a bowl and stir through the salad leaves, radish slices and edamame beans. Add half the dressing, stir well.
Season the salmon fillets and sprinkle with the sesame seeds, pressing lightly into the flesh. Drizzle with a little oil. Heat a dry frying pan until hot. Add the salmon and cook for 30 seconds each side until just charred on the outside. Cool for 10 minutes and then thinly slice.
Arrange the quinoa salad on plates with the seared salmon and avocado wedges. Scatter over the chives and chive flowers (if using) Drizzle with the remaining dressing to serve.
Sashimi grade salmon is available from some good quality fishmongers. Ask your supplier and explain what you are using the fish for as it needs to be super fresh. Also if it is designed specifically to made into sushi it will come as a long thin fillet, ideal for slicing.
BBQ’d Korean chicken Noodle salad
500g skinless chicken thighs fillets
200g dried green tea soba noodles
2 carrots, trimmed
1 cucumber, seeded
1 nashi pear
100g bean sprouts
2 little gem lettuce, cut into wedges
a handful coriander leaves
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1 garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon crushed black pepper
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
2 tablespoons sunflower oil
1 tablespoon clear honey
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoons gochujang*
a few micro herbs, to garnish, optional
Cut the chicken into 2cm pieces and place in bowl. Combine the marinade ingredients, pour over the chicken and stir well. Marinate for 2 hours.
Cook the noodles by plunging them into a pan of boiling water. Boil for 4 minutes until al dente. Drain, refresh under cold water and pat dry.
Cut the carrot and cucumber into long thin julienne. Peel, quarter and core the nashi pear and cut the flesh into thin batons. Combine the carrot, cucumber, nashi and bean sprouts. Set aside.
Make the dressing. Toast the sesame seeds in a dry frying pan. Transfer to a spice grinder and grind to a powder. Place in a bowl and stir in the remaining dressing ingredients. Set aside.
Preheat the griddle pan until hot. Thread the chicken pieces onto metal or bamboo skewers and griddle for 3-4 minutes each side until charred and tender. Rest for 5 minutes.
Arrange the noodles in bowls and top with the salad, scatter over the micro herbs, if using. Drizzle over the dressing and serve with the skewers of chicken on the side.
Gochujang is a red chilli spice paste with a sweet, spicy flavour. It is widely used in Korean cooking and is available from specialist food stores or online.
Marinated buffalo mozzarella with orange and fennel with basil oil
4 x 150g balls buffalo mozzarella
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2-4 oranges, depending on size
1 teaspoon fennel seeds
1 small head fennel, trimmed
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon honey
75g Niçoise olives, pitted
60g picked watercress leaves
60g basil leaves
150ml extra virgin olive oil
a few edible flowers, such as primulas or nasturtiums, to garnish, optional
Place the mozzarella balls in a bowl. Finely grate the zest and squeeze the juice of 1 orange into a bowl. Stir in the olive oil and season to taste. Lightly toast the fennel seeds and bash with a pestle and mortar. Add to the marinade and pour over the mozzarella. Set aside until required.
Make the basil oil. Wash the basil leaves in cold water. Then blanch the leaves in boiling water for 1 minute. Drain and immediately refresh in iced water. Drain again and dry really well with paper towel. Place in a liquidizer with the oil and a little salt and puree until really fine. Strain the oil through a fine sieve (reserve both the basil pulp and oil, separately).
Peel and cut the remaining oranges into then slices. Shave the fennel into fine slices using a mandolin (or sharp knife) reserving any fronds. Remove the mozzarella balls from the marinade and strain the juices into a bowl. Stir the lemon juice and honey into the marinade to use as the dressing.
Arrange the mozzarella on plates with the shaved fennel, orange slices, olives and watercress leaves. Drizzle over the marinade dressing, basil oil and some pepper. Serve scattered with fennel fronds and edible flowers, if using.
Tip: what to do with the basil pulp. There is still a good flavour in the basil pulp so add a little salt and pepper and toss through pasta.
Carpaccio of courgette, melted goat cheese and lemon with warm honey
2 large courgettes
60g baby spinach leaves
a handful fresh basil leaves
21/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 sprigs fresh lemon thyme or savory, chopped
200g goat cheese
4 tablespoons clear honey
4 tablespoons toasted pine nuts
25g Parmesan, shaved
Using a mandolin, very thinly shave the courgettes lengthways. Arrange the slices on 4 serving plates, overlapping them to fit, if necessary. Take the courgette trimmings (there will be side
pieces left) and grate then on a box grater. Arrange the grated courgette in the centre of each plate. Top with the spinach and basil leaves.
Grate the lemon zest and set aside. Squeeze the juice into a bowl and whisk in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, salt and pepper. Spoon about half of the dressing over the courgette carpaccio, set the rest of the dressing aside.
Preheat the grill to medium. Slice the goat cheese into rounds (if not bought as individual rounds) and arrange on a piece of oiled tin foil, on baking tray. Drizzle with the remaining olive oil and scatter over the reserved grated lemon zest, chopped thyme or savory and some black pepper. Warm under the grill for 30 seconds or so until just starting to soften.
Meanwhile, warm the honey in a small saucepan until it just starts to bubble. Remove from the heat.
Carefully slide the warm cheese onto the courgettes and scatter over the spinach and basil leaves, pine nuts and shavings of Parmesan. Pour the remaining lemon dressing over the top and finally drizzle the salad with the heated honey. Serve.
Seared tuna salad with crisp flatbreads and aubergine salsa
2 flat breads or flour tortilla
1/2 teaspoon baharat spice*
4 x 125g tuna steaks
100g Greek yogurt
2 teaspoons tahini paste
2 Lebanese cucumbers, sliced into wedges
50g rocket leaves
1 medium aubergine, trimmed
1/4 red onion, finely diced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1/2 small garlic clove, crushed
125g cherry tomatoes, quartered
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 teaspoons honey
1 teaspoon pomegranate molasse
sea salt and pepper
sunflower for deep frying
Roll the flatbreads up and cut into thin slices to form strips about 5mm thick. Heat about 5cm of sunflower oil in a deep frying pan until hot (check by frying ne strip of bread, it should sizzle as soon as it enters the oil). Fry the bread strips, in batches over a high heat for 1-2 minutes until crisp and golden. Drain on paper towel, transfer to a bowl and add the spice mix and sea salt. Toss and set aside.
Heat a ridged griddle pan until hot. Cut the aubergine lengthways into thin slices about 5mm thick. Brush the slices with oil and season with salt and pepper. Griddle for 4-5 minutes each side until charred and soft. Let cool and then dice the flesh.
Meanwhile, place the diced onion in a bowl, add the vinegar and let soak for 10 minutes. Drain.
Combine the diced aubergine, infused onion, garlic, cherry tomatoes, mint and lemon zest. Season and stir well. Whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, honey, pomegranate molasses and season to taste. Stir about half through the salsa.
Preheat a griddle pan until hot. Season the tuna fillets and sear over a high heat for 30-60 seconds until cooked to your liking. Rest for 5 minutes.
Beat the Greek yogurt and tahini together until smooth and season to taste.
Spread a little tahini on plates and top with the aubergine salsa, tuna fillets, rocket leaves and crisp flatbreads. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve..
Baharat spice is a Middle Eastern/North African spice mix traditional used to flavour meats. You can buy it online or from specialist food stores.
Sweltering temperatures in Europe and beyond have us all craving a little respite and what better way to cool down than with a thirst quenching ice lolly – oh the sheer joy of a popsicle! Today’s fruitier, healthier, innovative and wide ranging versions of frozen ice on sticks are a far cry from the fluorescent, mass-produced, overly sweet versions from our childhood. From artisanal producers to innovative chefs the 21st century popsicle has arrived. Here are a few of my favourites from my latest book The Popsicle Party, published by Ryland, Peters & Small and Cico Books.
Refreshing apple and cucumber pops
Makes: 6-8 popsicles
The name says it all really and so pretty. It’s also great for kids who think they don’t like cucumber. Give them one of these and see just how easy it can be!
3 Lebanese cucumbers
Juice 2 limes
Quarter and core ½ an apple and cut into wafer thins slices. Take 1/2 a cucumber and again cut into wafer thin slices. Reserve the slices.
Pass the remaining apples and cucumber through a juicer. Add the lime juice and sugar and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Divide the apple and cucumber slices between the 6-8 moulds and top up with the apple and cucumber syrup. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen. .
To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.
Lime, pomegranate and rosewater popsicles
Makes: 8 small (80ml)
Pretty in pink may well have been the name of a 70’s pop song, but it works equally well to describe this delicious and refreshing fruit popsicle. The rosewater is lovely with the flavour of the pomegranate and gives it that Middle Eastern allure.
Juice 2 limes
30 g caster sugar
2 teaspoons rosewater or orange flower water
fresh rose petals, dried rose petals and lime wedges, to garnish (optional)
Cut the pomegranates in half over a bowl lined with a large sieve to catch all the juice. Setting 1/2 a pomegranate to one side, squeeze out as much of the juice as you can from the seeds pressing the seeds down with a metal spoon.
Measure the juice, you need 500 ml for this recipe (chill the rest to drink).
Stir the lime juice, sugar and rosewater into the pomegranate juice and stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Divide the reserved pomegranate seeds between 8 small popsicle moulds and pour in the juice. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen.
To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.
Banoffee salted caramel creams
Not sure what there is to say about this other than make it, freeze it, eat it – oh so delicious.
4 tablespoons golden syrup
1 tablespoon cocoa powder
300 ml double cream
25 g caster sugar
25 g blanched almonds
1 tablespoon cold water
a little sea salt
4 tablespoons butter caramel sauce
Place 3 tablespoons of the golden syrup and cocoa powder in a bowl and stir well the cocoa powder is dissolved and the syrup smooth.
Place the bananas, cream and sugar into a blender and blend until completely smooth. Pour the banana cream into 8 popsicle moulds. Carefully drizzle in the chocolate syrup and using a skewer swirl through the cream to form a ripple effect.
Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer a further 4-6 hours until frozen.
Meanwhile, line a small tray with foil. Place the almonds, water and the remaining golden syrup in a small frying pan. Heat gently until the syrup begins to boil. Increase the heat and cook for 3-4 minutes until the almonds are browned and glazed with the syrup.
Transfer the nuts to the prepared tray and sprinkle with salt. Leave to cool. As soon as they are cold, chop roughly.
When ready to serve, pop a small metal tray lined with baking paper into the freezer for 10 minutes to chill. To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.
Place the popsicles on the prepared tray and immediately drizzle over the caramel sauce and top with the nuts. Return to the freezer for 10 minutes to set.
Remember ‘rockets’ that multi-coloured ice pop from your childhood? This homemade version looks great and tastes even better than the original.
250 g caster sugar
500 ml cold water
Place the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from the heat and cool completely.
Squeeze the juice of the oranges, the lemon and limes into separate bowls. Add enough of the sugar syrup to sweeten each fruit juice, ending up with approximately 150 ml of each juice (you will still have sugar syrup leftover).
Place the raspberries in a blender with 100 ml of the remaining sugar syrup. Blend until really smooth and then taste for sweetness, adjust accordingly.
Pour a layer of the orange juice into each of 8 popsicle moulds. Transfer to the freezer and allow the mixture to freeze completely (about 1 hour).
Pour in an equal layer of lime juice. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Freeze again until firm and repeat this process withy the remaining 2 juices. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen.
To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.
Buttermilk, raspberry and pistachio pops
Makes: 6 popsicles
Here yogurt and buttermilk are sweetened with agave syrup, a recent addition to the many different types of sweeteners and sugars, has a lower GI than many alternatives as it is largely a fructose based sugar. Now widely available from health food stores and supermarkets, it shouldn’t be too difficult to find – honey can be substituted.
250 ml Greek yogurt
250 ml buttermilk
150 ml agave syrup
125 g fresh raspberries
25 g finely chopped, unsalted pistachio nuts
Whisk the yogurt, buttermilk and agave syrup together until combined.
Divide the raspberries between 6 moulds and top up with the buttermilk mixture. Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen.
To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds and dip the ends into the chopped pistachio nuts.
Cool watermelon, strawberry and lemon pops
Makes: 8-10 popsicles
All you need is a slug of vodka and you’d have the perfect frozen daiquiri! But, hey who needs alcohol when you can enjoy this healthier fruit version in the form of an ice pop.
300g strawberries, hulled and halved
3 tablespoons icing sugar, sieved
500 g watermelon
Juice 1 lemon
Combine the strawberries with the sugar and leave for 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Discard the watermelon rind and dice the flesh.
Place the strawberries and all the juices, the watermelon and lemon juice in a blender and blend until smooth. Divide the juice between 8-10 small popsicle moulds.
Either add the sticks at this stage or freeze or leave until the mixture is firm enough to add the sticks. Return to the freezer for a further 4-6 hours until frozen.
To remove the popsicles from their moulds, dip into hot water for a second or two. Gently pull from the moulds.
Known for both its culinary and health benefits, honey is one of nature’s true gifts. I wanted to find out more about how honey gets from the flower to our toast, so I headed off to a local honey producer in Charente Maritime, SW France where three generations of the same family have been producing honey for more than 50 years. Christian Robert along with his son and grandson were delighted to share their knowledge with me.
‘Preparation begins in the winter’ he told me ‘whilst the bees are dormant’. Bees begin foraging for nectar in early spring as the first flowers begin to appear. They transform the pollen to honey in the combs and then cap it with a layer of wax where it remains until collected by the beekeeper. Once full the combs are removed for processing and replaced by new frames and the cycle continues throughout summer. Once collected the beekeeper removes the outer wax coating revealing the liquid honey beneath. It is filtered in an extraction machine, stored in barrels to separate off the sediment before being heated gently (below 40c) and poured into jars for selling.
So what is honey exactly
It is a highly concentrated sugar solution made up of 70% sugar (fructose and glucose) and less than 20% water plus vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Extracted honey can be liquid, crystalized (set honey) or partially crystalized and this crystallization is a natural occurrence that takes place when the percentage of glucose is higher than that of fructose.
Honey is categorised by the type of flowers from which the nectar is sourced. This is also what gives honey its flavour. The darker the honey the more intense the flavour.
Different honey varieties
Monofloral honey, considered a premium honey, is produced by nectar collected from just one flower source such as acacia, leatherwood, manuka, heather, orange blossom and other single flower varieties. It can be runny or set, light, dark, creamy or crystalline.
Polyfloral honey is made from the nectar of different flowers and is likely to be labelled simply as honey and again the colour and texture varies. Blended honey, also labelled just honey, is made by combining different flavoured honeys together and is usually the cheapest of all the types sold. The flavour of these is milder and I think, inferior. These honeys will have been heat-treated and possibly pasteurised.
Then we have ‘raw’ honey, so called due to the method of processing and must be 100% unprocessed, so once extracted it is warmed only enough to pour into jars and not enough to change it’s structure. Often sold directly from producers ‘raw’ honey is perhaps the most desirable of all honey, especially as there is now a growing demand by consumers for locally sourced honey.
The taste test
The best way to decide which type of honey you prefer is by tasting different ones, see what you like and what you don’t. As well as colour, the texture of honey differs too and is classified as creamy honey, set honey or a thin honey. Set honey is crystalline but this doesn’t mean that the honey is old or has ‘gone off’ it is just that the glucose content is higher than the fructose content. The flavour will remain the same.
In cooking stick to runny honeys for salad dressings and marinades, as they are easier to combine with other ingredients. A thicker, darker honey is great in cake baking as this will add both flavour and moisture.
Over time all honey will set and crystalize, but it can easily be softened by warming it in a water bath or microwave. Honey will remain in the same state for up to 2 years but must be stored in a cool, dark place (not refrigerated) even once its been opened.
The health benefits
Of course honey is not only used in cooking it is also prized for its apparent health benefits. There has been much written and reported over the years to suggest honey can cure or aid everything from the common cold, sore throats, help with digestion, combat ulcers and more recently help prevent hay fever. ‘Raw’ locally produced honey is thought to be beneficial as it will contain minute quantities of the very flowers that give you the sniffles, gradually building up immunity.
It is a fact that ‘raw’ untreated honey retains all it’s original enzymes and antioxidants and has antibiotic and antimicrobial properties and protects against bacteria. Of all honeys, manuka honey is generally accepted as having the most health benefits due to a higher percentage of certain components it contains. In fact medical grade manuka honey is used to help heal wounds.
Because honey contains natural
fruit sugars it means that our bodies absorb the energy they provide more
quickly than other sugars, making them an ideal quick ‘energy fix’. It is
important to remember though that any sugar should be consumed in moderation but
if you are only going to eat one type of sugar today, make it honey on your
Honey facts – things you never knew about honey and
Honeybees are the only insects that produce food for humans
They visit anywhere between 50 and 100 flowers on each trip
Honey is more than 1 to1.5 times sweeter than sugar therefore you need less in order to sweeten something
Honey is a natural antibiotic used for thousands of years to help soothe burns. The World Health Organisation lists it as a sore throat aid.
Honeybees communicate with each other by dancing Honeybees only sting when they are protecting their colony and not when they are foraging for nectar
Rosewater and pistachio baklava pave
100 g shelled pistachio nuts
50 g almonds
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons soft brown sugar
8 sheets filo pastry
50 g unsalted butter
grated zest and juice 1/2 lemon
200 g clear honey
2 tablespoons rose water
1 litre vanilla ice cream, softened
dried rose petals buds, to serve
Make the baklava. Preheat the oven to 180c/fan-forced 160c. Place the pistachio nuts, almonds and cinnamon in a food processor and blend until the nuts are coarsely ground. Stir in the sugar and reserve 4 tablespoons for serving.
Lightly oil 23cm square tin. Cut each pastry sheet in half and
trim to fit into the tin. Brush each sheet with butter and press into the
prepared tin to make 8 layers. Scatter over the nut mixture and then top with
the remaining sheets of pastry, brushing with melted butter each time.
Brush over any remaining butter and bake at for 20 minutes. Reduce
the temperature to 160c/fan-forced140c and bake for a further 20-25 minutes
until pastry is crisp and golden. Remove from the oven and using a skewer prick
the surface all over the pastry.
Meanwhile, prepare the syrup. Place the lemon zest, juice, honey and 100ml water in a saucepan and heat gently until boiling. Simmer for 5 minutes, remove from heat and stir in the rose water. Immediately pour three quarters of the honey syrup over the baklava and leave to go cold in the tin.
Assemble the pavé. Turn the pastry out of the tin and cut in half. Spread a third of the ice cream into the base of a lightly oil 12×22 cm loaf tin and place one half of baklava on top. Repeat with the ice cream and remaining baklava and finally the remaining ice cream. Smooth the top and cover with cling film. Freeze overnight. Turn out cut into slices, drizzle over the remaining syrup and decorate with dried rose petals and reserved chopped nut
Coconut sesame prawns with honey sauce
dried thin egg noodles
large raw prawns
tablespoons clear honey
tablespoons Shaoxing rice wine
cloves garlic, crushed
tablespoons light soy sauce
teaspoon sesame oil
tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
oil, for deep frying
Place the noodles in a bowl and add boiling water to cover. Leave to soak for 20 minutes, drain well and pat dry on kitchen paper. Peel and de-vein the prawns and wrap 8-10 noodles around each. Deep-fry in 5 cm vegetable oil for 3-4 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through. Drain on kitchen paper and transfer to a warmed platter.
Make the sauce. Place honey, rice wine, garlic, soy sauce and sesame oil in a small saucepan and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes and pour over the prawns. Garnish with sesame seeds and coriander.
Roasted chicken salad with warm honey dressing
free range chicken, butterflied
tablespoons olive oil
1 tbsp quatre epices (or mixed ground spice)
500 g sweet potatoes, peeled cut into cubes
tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
tablespoon clear honey
tablespoon lemon juice
tablespoon preserved lemon, diced
tablespoon chopped fresh coriander
red chilli, seeded and diced
the oven to 200c. Place chicken in a large bowl and rub. Combine the oil quatre
epices, salt and pepper in a bowl and rub all over the chicken. Cook on a
barbecue or grill pan for 20-25 minutes each side until cooked through,
brushing over a little honey about 5 minutes before finished cooking (skin side only).
the chicken is cooking, place the sweet potatoes in a roasting tin with a
little oil, salt and pepper and roast for 45 minutes, stirring half way through
until charred and tender.
Meanwhile, make the dressing. Blitz together the oil, honey, lemon juice, preserved lemon and coriander and stir in the chilli and some salt and pepper to taste.
chicken into pieces and toss with the dressing. Combine the sweet potatoes,
spinach leaves, red onion and herbs in a bowl and toss well. Transfer to a
platter. Pile the chicken in the middle drizzling any pan juices over the
salad. Serve at once.
Herb infused honey pots – to give as gifts, small pots of honey flavoured with herbs such as fennel flowers, lavender, rosemary etc. Simply stir in your favourite flavours, seal and store until required.
Without wishing to offend churros oficianados, here is my version of this delightfully light, fluffy and totally divine Spanish doughnut. Traditionally Spanish churros are piped, in an almost figure of eight shaped whirl, directly into hot fat and deep-fried before being coated in cinnamon sugar. They can be served as simply as that or they can be served alongside a steaming cup of real hot chocolate. For a slightly more wicked treat I like to dunk them or drizzle them with melted chocolate flavoured with Pedro Ximenez, an intensely dark, sweet dessert sherry.
Having always been a lover of doughnuts (not that surprising really – deep-fried batter, crispy on the outside, light and fluffy in the centre and then dipped in spiced sugar – who wouldn’t) but actually not that crazy about the jam filled ones, I was wowed when I first came across churros on a holiday in Majorca, one of Spain’s Balearic islands – the fact that they were served with chocolate was the icing on the cake.
Developed centuries ago by
Spanish shepherds in the hills, where cooking was limited to cooking over a log
fire, a cake-like batter was dropped into hot fat until crisp and then serve
dusted with cinnamon sugar. Naturally enough the idea caught on and today this
wonderful snack food is popular all over the world, in one form or another.
And now that I live in SW France, the Spanish border is a short drive away, so I get to enjoy one of my favourite dishes much more often with regular trips to Spain’s Basque region. Luckily they have also caught on here in France and you often find a churros van at the local markets and fetes. Normally in France they tend to be served either completely straight or more like these ones, but really the shape is completely up to you – whether you a curly fan or a straight fan – they still taste the same!!
So let’s get cooking.
You will need water, butter – salted or unsalted, is your choice – plain flour, a pinch of salt, 3 medium eggs, caster sugar and cinnamon for the churros. Then for the sauce you need dark chocolate, single or pouring cream and a small glass (or two) of Pedro Ximenez sherry.
Pour the water into a medium saucepan, adding the butter. Place over a low heat until the butter melts. – you are literally warming it enough to melt the butter and there is no need to boil the mixture.
Remove the pan from the heat and tip in the flour and salt in one go. Then beat well with a wooden spoon until it becomes thick and sticky and the mixture comes away from the pan edges.
At this stage you need to allow the batter to cool slightly, so that when the eggs are whisked in, the heat is not so high that it starts to cook the eggs – they will cook once the batter is piped and fried – so using either a balloon whisk or electric beaters, whisk in them in one at a time until you have a smooth batter.
Spoon the glossy batter into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm star nozzle. Make sure you scrape in as much of the batter as you can, don’t waste any! Meanwhile, heat a good amount of vegetable oil in a wok or heavy-based pan, to a depth of about 7 cm, until it reaches 180c on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil).
Carefully pipe 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the oil, using a knife to cut the dough off right by the nozzle. Fry 3-4 churros at a time for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. As soon as the churros are cooked, remove them using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel. You can keep them warm in a moderate oven heated to 180C/325F/Gas Mark 4 if you like, whilst cooking some more.
Whilst the churros are cooking, you should have time to mixc the sugar with some cinnamon. Place the mixture on a plate and as soon as the churros are ready roll them in the sugar until they are evenly coated.
Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small pan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth, then add the sherry. If you prefer you can do this ahead and warm the sauce through just before serving.
Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate and Pedro Ximenez sauce for dipping or if you like drizzle it all over the churros.
with chocolate and Pedro Ximenez sauce
250 ml water
120 g butter
180 g plain flour, twice
3 medium eggs (size 3)
75 g caster sugar
2 tsp ground cinnamon
100 g chocolate
150 ml single cream, plus
extra to drizzle
a small glass Pedro Ximenez
vegetable oil for frying
Heat the water and butter in a saucepan over low heat until the butter melts.
Tip in the flour and salt and beat well with a wooden spoon until the mixture comes away from the pan edges.
Cool for 5 minutes, then whisk in the eggs one at a time, using electric beaters or a balloon whisk, until you have a smooth batter.
Spoon into a piping bag fitted with a 1 cm star nozzle.
Heat vegetable oil in a large heavy-based pan to a depth of 7 cm until it reaches 180c on a sugar thermometer (or until a small amount of the dough sizzles as soon as it is dropped into the oil).
Carefully pipe 15 cm lengths of the dough straight into the oil, using a knife to cut the dough. Fry 3 at a time for 2-3 minutes until crisp and golden, turning half way through using metal tongs. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen towel.
Combine the sugar and cinnamon on a plate and roll the doughnuts in the mixture until coated.
Meanwhile, heat the chocolate and cream together in a small pan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and stir until smooth, then add the sherry.
Arrange the churros on a platter and serve with the chocolate and Pedro Ximenez sauce for dipping.
Warm honey roasted carrots and toasted quinoa salad
Not to be overlooked for some of the more trendy vegetables of the moment, carrots are an age old but nevertheless delightful and versatile root vegetable. Here they are paired with red and white quinoa that is first roasted before being cooked, adding an extra nutty flavour to the dish.
This dish makes a great lunch on it’s own or as an accompanying vegetable to both meat and fish dishes.
200g red and white quinoa
2 teaspoon honey
grated zest and juice 1 orange
6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 spring onions, trimmed and thinly sliced
50 g pistachio nuts, toasted and roughly chopped
75 g dried pitted dates, sliced
2 tablespoon red wine vinegar
2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
2 tablespoons mint
1 tablespoon dukkhah*
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan-forced. Place the quinoa in a sieve and wash under cold running water, stirring the grains for about 1 minute. Shake as dry as possible. Heat a frying pan until hot, add the wet quinoa and stir over a high heat, firstly until dry and then continue for a further 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted and starting to crackle.
Place the toasted quinoa in a saucepan and add 250 ml cold water and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer over a very low heat for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat but leave undisturbed for a further 10 minutes. If there is any liquid remaining drain through a sieve and leave to cool. Pat dry.
Meanwhile, trim the carrots and place in a large roasting tin. Combine half the orange juice, the orange zest, 2 tablespoons of the oil, the honey and salt and pepper. Drizzle over the carrots and toss well. Roast for 30 minutes or until tender.
Mix the remaining oil and the remaining orange juice with the vinegar and season to taste.
Place the quinoa in a large bowl and stir in the spring onions, pistachio nuts, dates and herbs. Stir through the roasted carrots and any pan juices and serve scattered with the dukkhah.
Dukkhah is an Egyptian nut and spice mix commonly served along side flat breads with olive oil, to serve as a dip. It adds great texture to dishes as well as a lovely hint of Middle Eastern spices. It is available online, from deli and specialist food stores and some larger supermarkets online or
Eggs have a very special place in French gastronomy as both a staple food and as a much loved cooking ingredient. Perhaps one of the most underrated egg dishes is ouefs en cocotte, which translates literally as egg casserole! although I always call it simply ‘baked eggs with …..’ and this one happens to be with mushrooms and sage butter in cream and Parmesan.
According to Elizabeth David this traditional dish is a cross between oeufs sur la plat, where an egg is cooked in a covered enamel or earthenware dish with a little butter, and a poached egg where the eggs are cooked in a ceramic cocotte or ramekin dish. Both can be cooked on top of the stove or in an oven. Originally I imagine this would depend on whether you had an oven as many people would have cooked over an open fire or taken their dishes to be cooked in a communal oven.
In their simplest form, the eggs are carefully broken into a small dish with a little butter, salt and pepper. These are then cooked in a water bath (where the dishes are half submerged in boiling water, so they do not cook too quickly) until the white is set and the yolk cooked but still soft.
When cream is added it becomes oeufs en cocotte a la crème and can be enhanced with a range of flavourings from just a simple herb, to spinach lightly sautéed in butter, smoked salmon or shredded ham or to my favourite of wild mushrooms and truffles or even foie gras. Some people like to add a topping of grated cheese whilst others prefer none. Allow the seasons to determine just what to add, like the mushrooms in this version.
Baked eggs with mushrooms and sage
50g butter, plus extra for greasing
small bunch fresh sage
250g mushrooms, wiped clean
250ml double cream
4 free range eggs
4 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 180c/160c fan-forced and lightly butter 4 x 300ml capacity ramekin dishes. Boil the kettle and get a roasting tin ready that will hold the ramekins.
Reserving a handful of small sage leaves, finely chop the rest. Melt the butter in a frying pan and as soon as it stops foaming add the whole sage leaves and fry over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the leaves are crisp. Do not allow the mixture to burn. Remove the leaves with a slotted spoon and set aside.
Return the frying pan to the heat. Fry the mushrooms, chopped sage and a little salt and pepper over a high heat for 3-4 minutes until golden. Divide the mushrooms between the prepared ramekin dishes and pour over the cream. Break an egg into each one and top with the grated Parmesan.
Place the ramekins in the roasting tin. Pour in enough boiling water to come halfway up the sides of the dishes. Bake for 10 minutes until the egg yolks are just set. Scatter over the crispy sage leaves and serve with some wholemeal bread.