Bonfire Feast

Cooking, Recipes

I’ve always thought of black treacle as the bitter cousin of golden syrup, useful only for bonfire toffee (aka treacle toffee) and fruit cake…how wrong I was. I rediscovered its usefulness when trying to come up with a no-cook version of a balsamic reduction for a dish in my book (I’m in constant book promo mode I know, I know) and I’ve been keen to experiment with it further ever since.
So, this week I’m dusting off that little red tin at the back of the cupboard and celebrating the general super duperness of black treacle by using it as a base for a salad dressing and piling it into a new take on a treacle tart in my bonfire night menu.

Another unsung hero of the season is the marrow. My friend Zara, her daughter Florence and I lugged an enormous marrow home from their allotment last week and invented this dip together which forms the basis of my starter.

Marrow Baba Ghanoush
Serve with cheese straws, crisps, crudités or as I did, with little croquettes made from mashed sweet potato or pumpkin.

1 marrow
Black Pepper
Olive oil
50g cream cheese
Small bunch of chives
1 garlic clove
1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika

1) Preheat the oven to 200°c
2) Cut the marrow into large wedges and place on a baking tray, skin side up
3) Drizzle with olive oil and season well with salt and pepper
4) Roast for 30-40 minutes or until the marrow is really soft and the skin is caramelised or scorched in patches.
5) When the marrow is well roasted place it in a blender with all of the other ingredients. Blend until smooth.
6) Can be served warm or cold which means you can make it the night before and just pop it in the fridge.


Venison Hot Dogs
I think hot dogs taste better outside on a cold day and they’re easy to hold and eat with a sparkler in your other hand!
To make them super special I’m using venison sausages and a cheeky drizzle of dark chocolate. Trust me it works! To balance out the richness of the hot dogs I’ve made this firework ‘slaw with brightly coloured veggies and a black treacle dressing.

For the firework ‘slaw:
1 carrot, peeled
1/4 red cabbage
1 beetroot, peeled
Small bunch of radishes, leaves and stalks removed
1 teaspoon of black treacle
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon of olive oil
Salt and pepper

For the hot dogs:
2 red onions or 4 large shallots
Knob of butter
1 tablespoon of olive oil
5-6 juniper berries
1 tablespoon of red wine (leaving plenty left in the bottle for serving with dinner)
2 bay leaves
8 venison sausages
8 brioche rolls
100g of dark chocolate (at least 70%)
English mustard

1) Finely slice the onions or shallots and place in a large frying pan with the butter, oil, juniper berries and bay leaves.
2) Soften gently on a low heat for 15-20 minutes then stir in the red wine.
3) Heat for another minute or so to allow the wine to soak into the onions.
4) Cook the sausages in the oven for about 25-30 mins (as per the packet or your butchers instructions)
5) Melt the chocolate either in a bowl fitted over a pan of simmering water or if you (like me) can’t be bothered with all that; pop the chocolate in an oven proof dish and chuck it in the oven very very briefly (don’t let it burn or you’ll have to start again).
6) Warm the brioche rolls for a couple of minutes in the oven then split them lengthways and stuff in the onions, sausage, dash of English mustard then a very light drizzle of melted chocolate.

To make the accompanying ‘slaw. Stir the black treacle and balsamic vinegar together until well combined. Then whisk in the olive oil a little at a time, season with salt and pepper and set aside. Finely chop or grate the vegetables and toss in the dressing just before serving.

Bonfire Brazil Nut Tart
Dessert has all the flavours of treacle toffee but it’s softened by the buttery brazil nuts (…went a bit Greg Wallace then sorry, can’t help it it’s well yummy!)

200g plain flour, plus extra for rolling out
100g cold butter, diced
1 large free-range egg
Cold water to bind

300g golden syrup
300g black treacle
100g fresh breadcrumbs
150g chopped brazil nuts
2 tbsp of whiskey

1) Rub the butter and flour together with your hands until it looks like breadcrumbs.
2) Lightly beat the egg and add it to the flour and butter. Stir in a little cold water too, just a tablespoon or so, just enough to bring it together to a smooth, soft dough.
3) Dust your work surface with flour and then roll out the dough to line a medium sized spring form cake tin or tart case (mine was an 18cm cake tin, which was probably a bit too deep so you might be better with something slightly bigger to make a shallower tart)
4) Chill the pastry in the fridge for 15-20 minutes and preheat the oven to 190°c
5) Blind bake the pastry (line the pastry case with grease proof held down with baking beans) for 15 minutes then (remove the paper and beans) and bake for a bit longer, until starting to turn golden brown.
6) Stir all of the remaining ingredients together and tip into the pastry case.
7) Bake the tart for 30 minutes.
8) Serve with double cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.

Have a super bonfire night xx

Anger Management Brownies

Cooking, Recipes


I made these when I was very, very cross. In fact, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it, I had PMT. I was so grumpy, it was actually ridiculous. I shouted at a sofa, a laptop, my phone and Richard. Luckily he’s very patient and extremely understanding so just laughs at me when I lose my temper at everything! In return for his patience I shared my anger quashing brownies. I find that chocolate is good for when my hormones are on the blink and I add extra chocolate enhancing flavours like cardamon and coffee to make them even more consoling.



Anger Management Brownies


100g butter (plus extra for greasing)
200g dark chocolate
4 eggs
200g golden caster sugar
1 teaspoon of ground cardamom
1 espresso (or 50ml of very strong coffee)
50g honey
1 teaspoon of rosewater
130g plain flour
1 tsp of baking powder
30g cocoa, and a bit more for dusting


  1. Line a 20cm square cake tin (or similar sized rectangular one) with a piece of baking paper and grease well with butter. Preheat the oven to 180°C.
  2. Put the chocolate and butter in a bowl which is fitted on top of a pan of just boiling water, heat until both are melted.
  3. Whisk the sugar and eggs together until the mix has about doubled in size and is a lot paler than it was when you started whisking.
  4. Add the espresso, ground cardamom, honey and rosewater to the egg mixture and whisk again to combine.
  5. Now pour the melted butter and chocolate into the egg mix and whisk once more until smooth.
  6. Then fold in the flour, baking powder and cocoa and then tip the mixture into the prepared tin.
  7. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Don’t worry if it’s still quite wobbly in the middle, it will set more when it’s cold.
  8. Leave to cool (if you can wait that long) then slice into squares, dust with cocoa powder if you’re feeling fancy.

I like to serve mine (if I’m feeling particularly grumpy) with a good slice of action movie! Yippeekiyay!

Auntie Mim!


I am very, very happy to announce the arrival of the newest addition to team Nice – my first nephew Milo! Milo

He’s absolutely brilliant! And the whole family is over the moon. My Dad is a National Trust volunteer and he baked some jam tarts to take into work to celebrate becoming a Grandad! He used my recipe from my last blog post and made Milo’s initials out of pastry – check it out:

Dad's Jam Tarts for Milo

I am so pleased to be an Auntie, but I have absolutely no idea what to do. Babies baffle me, as do so many of my female friends who seem to instinctively know how to hold a them, change a nappy and understand all the crazy noises they make. Why don’t babies arrive with step-by-step guides like flat pack furniture? And as for crying, turns out they are just sleepy or a bit hungry – so why do they sound like they are in mortal danger? It’s misleading, like when you get a work email marked URGENT but it’s for a marathon in six months time.

Ok, so we’ve established my hopelessness with babies, but I like to think I’ll do pretty well at the unending stream of “Why?” and “are we nearly there yet?” questions later on… and I could cook for them too (seamless link)!

So to welcome Milo and to give the new Mum and Dad a bit of a break I spent a day in the kitchen making a whole plethora of ready meals, freezer meals and baked goodies so they can spend even more time with the little fella. I tried to do some research on the kinds of foods most suitable for new Mums and Dads but the results were conflicting – some websites have huge lists condeming ingredients like fresh herbs, peanuts and eggs, whereas other sites seem to advocate eating whatever you like as long as it is healthy and doesn’t include too much shark. Hmm. So I just made a selection of foods I thought they would like, but included a list of all the ingredients, just in case. Worst case scenario they’ll give the food to visitors – which I hope is still vaguely helpful.

Here we go. My menu for my Brother and his Wife:

Eat Now…

Blueberry Lemon Drizzle Cake

Blueberry and Lemon Drizzle Cake

Soda Bread

Soda Bread

Eat Later…


Spiced Couscous (just add water, serve with pomegranate and fried Halloumi cheese)

Mashed Sweet Potato

Mkomazi Cardamom-Mashed Sweet Potato (from the “World Food Cafe” Book)

Garlic Hummus Very Garlicky Hummus


Lentil Moussaka

Lentil Moussaka

Giving food seemed to be a good plan, and I would recommend doing this for anyone you know who has just had a baby. Making a selection of dishes that won’t all go off at the same time is also a good tip…oh and things they can eat with one hand 🙂


Wedding Cakes & Headaches


The Wedding Cake. Probably the most important of all the cakes. Get it wrong, and EVERYTHING EVER is RUINED!

Please now multiply this baking pressure by a hundred when you learn that this is a wedding cake for a family member…again! Making my brother’s wedding cake in 2011 was the most terrifying culinary challenge for me to date but, this Summer (to be said in that really cool, low, movie trailer voice please, that’s why it’s in bold) I’m making my cousin’s cake!

Joking aside, it is an absolute honour to be asked to bake a wedding cake, but it is quite a scary business. The bride to be has a pretty good idea of what she wants so I fired up the mixer for some sample cakes last weekend. I made a chocolate fudge cake from the book ‘Boutique Wedding Cakes’ by Victoria Glass and whipped up some dark chocolate butter cream, white chocolate butter cream and cream cheese frosting for her to try.


DSC02333Deep in concentration, trying to cover sample cakes in butter cream at 2am (and peripheral vision impaired by my long fringe and trendy thick black rimmed glasses) I failed to judge the proximity of the corner of the kitchen cabinet when I sharply looked up from my work. OUCH! I wasn’t badly hurt but I was a massive wuss about it and had a little cry.

Next morning (neurotic late night baking session over) all that was left to do was to cover the cakes. She’s requested for the cake to be cream or ivory in colour so my immediate thought was to use white chocolate…but the wedding is in July so I think that might be pushing my luck (and sanity) so instead, I made a satin icing (which I think is roll-out icing) adapted from this recipe, using water instead of lemon juice and adding vanilla to give it a yummy custardy vibe…although it’s a bit sticky to work with but I’ve got a good 4 months to practise :-/

My cousin arrived just as the last bit of cake was being iced and had brought her lovely Yorkshire terrier and bridesmaid-to-be Maisy along too!



The cakes went down really well, she made her icing selections and we had a good chat about logistics. I think wedding cakes are 20% sugar and 80% logistics. I cannot wait for her wedding. I will be nervous, but only because I want it to be right for my super-duper cousin and fella (and Maisy too).

Wish me luck xxx


Help wanted


Firstly I wanted to say a big THANK YOU to all of the followers of this blog! Super chuffed that you’ve not only read one of my rambling recipe posts but that you want to read another one – you’re all 100% ace!

The next thing on my list of things to say today is sorry for not posting on Friday. It’s the one New Year’s resolution which I’m actually vaguely sticking to (with the exception of last week). Turns out that the excuse “my dog ate it” won’t wash with digital stuff… so the truth is that I was away in Nottingham last week having adventures; like interviewing a butcher, interviewing a pop-up restauranteur, attending a script read-through and baking a very wonky Tardis birthday cake – more on these things very soon.

And now (sheepishly) I need a big favour from you guys. Plans are afoot for a foodie podcast “Nice in the Kitchen” which I’ll be working on with the wonderful, magical Helen Piercy. There will be cooking, chatting, eating and general silliness which you will be able to download from the interwebs. We also want to do a Q&A section where I answer some of your food/cookery related queries. So if you’ve got a jar of onion marmalade in your fridge you don’t know what to do with or perhaps a recipe you’ve tried a heap of times but just can’t get right, (or any other food or cooking questions you can think of) – please do get in touch and we’ll read out and do our best to answer as many as we can during the podcast. You can leave your questions in the comments box or use my snazzy new contact form.

Thanks again, have a lovely week x

Nice in the kitchen

New podcast logo!

Boxing Day Sandwich Designer of the Year 2012!

Cooking, Events

Boxing Day Sandwich Design Competition 2012Firstly; THANK YOU!!! to everyone who entered this competition, we had some amazing designs and it was very difficult to choose the winner.

Another big thank you also goes to all of you who watched and shared the YouTube video, liked and shared Facebook reminders and for all your wonderful RTs on Twitter – without you social media dudes we wouldn’t have been able to do it. xxx

So, without further ado….I am pleased to announce that the Boxing Day Sandwich Designer of the Year Award 2012 goes to:


Zara Gardner

who won with her “Merry Mushroom Melty” Sandwich



What the judges said: “Sounds really tasty”, “would like to be at Zara’s house where there’s leftover ale and homemade bread!”

Well done Zara! I’m totally gonna make one of these this week!

We had some smashing runners up too:



Runner Up: Sarah’s “Euro Teaser”



Runner Up: Raj’s “Turkey Tikka”



Runner Up: Hayley’s “The Fabulous Vegetarian Tree Topped Roll”

Congratulations to the winners and runners up and thank you again to everyone who sent in designs, here are a few more delicious ideas:


Bradley’s “Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich”


Helen’s “Big Boxing Basco Bagel”


Jon’s “Raiders of the Lost Fridge Bagel”


Richard’s “Nice to Meat you”

I ran this competition in association with Total Greek Yoghurt (who very kindly donated the prizes and tweeted like mad on our behalf!) to raise awareness of my chosen charity Action Against Hunger. The competition was centered around using up leftovers from all of our wonderful yuletide feasting so it felt right to set up a page on Just Giving to ask people to donate to those for whom leftovers aren’t really a thing. Please do give what you can by clicking on the “sponsor me” button below. And here is some more information on how Action Against Hunger use your donations.

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Christmas in Wales

Cooking, Events


Seasons Greetings!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful time!

Richard and I were in Wales this year with his family and despite the floods we had a warm and cosy Christmas. Richard’s Mum did an excellent job of the Christmas Cake, Decorations and the Turkey Dinner and Richard’s Dad expertly dug up a Christmas Tree and smoked a salmon!




On the night we arrived there was a big party with all their friends from the area. We had an enormous buffet, sing along and a performance from a skiffle band!

By Boxing Day the leftovers were piling up from all the revelling so we all made sandwiches…

Massive hint alert!

There’s still time to enter the Boxing Day Sandwich Competition which I’m running with Total Greek Yoghurt, you’ve got until the 6th of January to draw or photograph your sandwich design.

The first prize is my ultimate sandwich making kit worth £50 – perfect if one of your resolutions for 2013 is to take a packed lunch during the week. All the details for the competition are here along with the downloadable template. It’s free to enter but please do give generously to the charity Action Against Hunger.


Happy Sandwich Making and a Happy New Year!


Competition Time

Cooking, Events

This year I’ve teamed up with Total Greek Yoghurt to bring you my Boxing Day Sandwich Competition!

Click on the present below or on the Competition page above to find out more.

Boxing Day Sandwich Design Competition 2012FAGE TOTAL Classic And please give generously to Action Against Hunger UK by clicking on the “Sponsor me” button at the bottom of the page.

Thank you xxx

JustGiving - Sponsor me now!

Visit to the Laundry Yard


Visits to Hampshire are always food centred, with such wonderful produce everywhere how could they not be?

Last weekend Richard and I headed over to spend time with my brother Jon & my sister-in-law Em. It all began with a trip to The Vyne where they were holding an autumnal festival in their walled gardens.

There was plenty of opportunity to sample local apple varieties, eat a pile of fresh Hampshire fudge and watch Em’s mum’s bees in action.

Next stop, perry making with Jon using up some windfall pears and a few cheeky apples.

It was all hands on deck to get all the fruit scrubbed cored and juiced.

I was slightly disappointed that we can’t drink it for another few months but that was quickly solved with a generous glass (or three) of Jon’s alcoholic ginger beer! Once the perry was done it was off into Em’s studio to learn how to make a cobnut quilt.
Tipsy is perhaps not the best state to be in when quilting but you do worry less about the neatness of your stitches!


Em is the co-founder of the Laundry Yard website, I highly recommend that you stop by, you can find out how to make the cobnut quilt too (sober or otherwise) and they have also asked me to review a cook book for them every month, as I have one or two…


Join in with the Laundry Yard fun on Facebook and Twitter too

Crab cakes and updates

Cooking, Events, Recipes

I think I may have finally found a way to survive the dreaded “so what do you do?” question and the inspiration came from the depths of my childhood; the TV show Blue Peter.

I always find it difficult to say “I’m doing an assortment of food-related and profile-boosting activities with the sole purpose of one day opening a restaurant” it’s a mouthful, and generally sounds a bit odd. Then I remembered that when the Blue Peter team wanted to reach a goal they used a totalizer. On the show, every time they reached a milestone in their charity campaign the totalizer would light up a new level. I can’t build anything quite so impressive (and I probably shouldn’t as it might be disrespectful to their charity work) but I can draw a career plan with a picture of my restaurant at the end and post it on my about page. I’ll update it with each step along the way until I get there, by that time the internet will have advanced and there’ll no doubt be a widget to make it light up and fling out confetti.
Now when people ask me what I do I can say, “Hi, I’m a food blogger please read my about page”…

… and then I can leg it 🙂

The rehearsals for my TV pilot are going well too; am coping ok now with the whole talking into the camera thing by pretending the lens is that Johnny five robot from the 1980s film Short Circuit, I’m not sure why this helps but I’m gonna go with it.
As soon as we get a location confirmed we’ll start filming so watch this space for updates!

The second big collaborative project is the events company, Taylor & Nice which my new business partner Bradley and I are starting up. We had loads of fun launching our website at the weekend. We hit the shops early on Saturday and spent the rest of the day (and evening) churning out countless canapés and cocktails to liven up the PowerPoint presentations. I would definitely recommend giving your focus group booze and nice food they are bound to love you idea!

One of the best things about hosting a launch party/focus group for a catering venture is that the fridge is full of leftovers for quite a few days afterwards. This has led to a string of easy dinners and last nights Crab Cakes were no exception. In fact the tinned crab and curry paste were surplus items from filming rehearsals and the chilli jam and salad were from the bash. It was lovely to pull together ingredients from these two projects, an edible reminder that I have actually started making good use of my time by working and watching a little less of our Fraiser box set!

Crab cakes

  1. Take 4 medium sized potatoes and boil for 12-15 minutes or until soft.
  2. While the potatoes are boiling chop a handful of flat leaf parsley and put it in a mixing bowl with a tin of crab meat chunks, a tin of dressed crab and a little lime zest. I also added a tiny bit (about 1/4 teaspoonful) of Thai green curry paste but that’s optional.
  3. When the potatoes are ready mash them till smooth and then fold them into the other ingredients.
  4. Shape into 4 fishcakes and coat in breadcrumbs before shallow frying until golden brown
  5. Serve with chilli jam, green salad and mashed avocado.

As Taylor and Nice is just starting out we would be really grateful for your ideas and feedback, if you have a few moments please do fill out our short survey on what makes a good night out in London. xx