Spicy Pickled Radishes

I don’t care much for radishes unless they’re pickled, but recently my daughter begged me to buy her a bunch.  We were at the farmer’s market when she spotted them.  I don’t know if it was the color or the shape or the fact that Peter Rabbit eats them, but she insisted that we had to have them.  Once home, I let her try them.  She hated them.


Me with a bunch of unwanted radishes.  That’s when I decided to turn them into a quick refrigerator pickle.  Luckily, they were delicious.  Particularly so with egg salad sandwiches and crispy pan fried salmon.  For as spicy as they are they are surprisingly palate cleansing, a bit like pickled ginger I suppose.  Below is the recipe.  I hope you enjoy them.


1 bunch of radishes

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 tsp yellow mustard seeds

1/4 tsp black mustard seeds

1/4 tsp coriander seeds

a pinch of fennel seeds

1 small smashed garlic clove

3/4 c cider or white wine vinegar

3/4 c water

2 tbsp honey

1 tbsp salt

1 pint sized jar with a lid



Slice the radishes into 1/4″ rounds.  Pack them in the jar.

Put the seeds, flakes, and garlic clove on top of the radishes.

In a small pot, bring the vinegar, water, salt, and honey to a boil.  Once the mixture starts to bubble, turn down the heat.  Simmer the brine for a few minutes and stir it to make sure everything has dissolved.  Remove it from the heat.

Pour the brine over the radishes and seal the jar.


Let the jar cool to room temperature before placing it in the refrigerator.  The radishes will be ready to eat immediately.  I like to eat them after they’ve chilled for at least 24 hours. They will keep for a couple weeks in the fridge, but they will be at their crispest in the first few days.

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Swarthy Chicken in 2016


Swarthy chicken is a family classic, but over the years it has evolved.  For a while, I was queen of this dish.  These days, my husband, Henry Jeffreys, is king.

Though I have always loved cooking, my abilities drastically improved when Henry entered my life.  In many ways, he taught me how to cook.  He taught me that it was not only wasteful to discard the carcass of a roast chicken, but also a shame as it makes such delicious stock.  Most of the pasta sauces I make are versions of his.  Same with my savoury pies.  I’ll admit I never even made gravy until he showed me how.

The first time I visited him in London, he made a rolled shoulder of lamb stuffed with anchovies, garlic, capers, parsley, and lemon.  He served it with a bottle of Rioja Reserva. Immediately I fell in love and then into a food coma.   But I digress. . .

Below is his recipe for swarthy chicken which is reminiscent of barbecue due to all that smoky paprika.  If you enjoy it, do check out his World of Booze and also his book, Empire of Booze, which comes out this November.



My wife and I have been making this recipe now for about six years. At one point it was a sort of Moroccan thing with preserved lemons, olives and cinnamon but gradually it has morphed into the recipe below. It’s extremely easy to make. The magic of the dish is in the mix of crispy and gooey. The chicken skins must be crisp and the vegetables need to be slightly charred in places. It’s best to use smoked paprika as it gives the dish a BBQ flavour. Oh and a word about the wine at the end. You want something dry but with lots of flavour. Fino sherry won’t cut the mustard. Waitrose own label Palo Cortado works well, Noilly Prat vermouth also good. The best is a Marsala Vergine such as Terre Arse if you can find it. It doesn’t seem to make any difference whether you marinade the chicken for an hour or overnight. This is a recipe that never fails to lift my spirits.




Chicken pieces – I used 4 thighs and 2 legs from a specially bred mutant chicken.

2 heaped teaspoons of smoked paprika

Juice of one lemon

1 teaspoon sherry vinegar

2 tablespoons of olive oil

2 small onions sliced

2 red peppers sliced

6 cloves of garlic in skin

Small glass of dry sherry

Lots of salt and pepper



If I have fresh thyme in the house, I’ll add some leaves to the marinade.

Ditto with a little chopped parsley at the end.


Method: Put the chicken, paprika, lemon juice, sherry vinegar, olive oil, lots salt and pepper in a plastic bowl and mix thoroughly until chicken completely coated in the mixture. Leave for at least an hour.


Pre-heat oven to gas mark 7.

Take the chicken pieces out and place in large glass dish. Put the onions, garlic cloves and peppers in the plastic bowl and mix them around to get the last of the spicy sauce out. Strew the vegetables around the chicken pieces. You want edges of the onions and peppers to get a little charred. Add a bit more salt and pepper to the vegetables.


Heat in the oven for 20 – 30 minutes or until skin begins to crisp. Give the vegetables a good mix in the juices, turn oven down to gas mark 3 and leave for an hour. Take out and have a look at the dish. The chicken should be crispy, the vegetables gooey and charred in places (if they’re not, turn the oven up a little.) Add a glass of sherry and put back in the oven for 10 minutes.


Take out and serve with boiled rice. Don’t forget to smash the now gooey garlic out of its skin and into the rich sauce.



Rhubarb and Strawberry Sunday


I love the Home Counties.  For me, they hold great charm.  Village fêtes, farm shops, afternoons sipping cider at the pub, bake sales, plant sales, hedgehog sanctuaries, Sunday lunch, cricket teas, thirsty vicars, vintage cars, and the scent of wood burning fires wherever you go.

Walking past Shardeloes en route to The Red Lion makes me feel like I am deep in the country. The truth, though, is that I am only an hour outside of London.  It’s brilliant and gives me a proper excuse to wear my wellies without looking like a knob.

This weekend in the Garden of Eatin’ (that’s what I call my in-laws’ backyard as it is so full of edible goodness), my daughter explained the difference between bluebells and forget-me-nots to her stuffed friend, Little Bear.  There was also an overabundance of rhubarb. When my mother-in-law asked me to help by cutting it for her, I was happy to be of service.

8 jars of jam and a crumble to be eaten later tonight was our yield.  And to think, there’s still plenty left.

Below is my recipe for today’s rhubarb and strawberry jam.  The strawberries I used were not our own, but they were British (Honi soit qui mal y pense) and came from 2 of the home counties–Kent and Berkshire.





3 lbs rhubarb, cut into 1″ pieces

1 lb strawberries, halved

juice of 2 lemons

1 cup apple juice

1.2 kg sugar

1 tbsp butter



First, place a small plate in the freezer.  This is so you can test your jam later to see if it’s set.

Wash then sterilize your jars by placing them on a tray in a warm oven.

Place the rhubarb, lemon juice, and apple juice in a maslin pan.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 10 minutes.  The reason for this is twofold. 1) Rhubarb takes longer to cook than strawberries.  2) Both rhubarb and strawberries have such low pectin that the addition of apple juice, which naturally has high pectin, will help your jam set.

Turn off the heat and stir in the berries and the sugar.  Stir until all the sugar has dissolved.

Turn the heat back on and bring everything to a boil.

Test for a set by placing a bit of the molten mixture on your frozen plate.  Place the plate back in the freezer.  Remove it after a few minutes.  If the jam crinkles when you push it with your finger, then it has set.  If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes and test again.  Be sure to turn off the heat each time you test for a set.  You do not want to overcook your jam.

Once a desired set has been achieved, stir in the butter.  This will prevent your jam from being scummy.

Let the jam cool for at least 5 minutes before potting it in warm jars.


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Jamaican Patties


Summer is upon us in Britain!  Which means I’m finally getting vitamin D and not just in oral supplement form.  My skin smells coconut-y of sunscreen again and I have real reason for wearing sunhats.  Most importantly, I’m spending whole weekends picnicking in the park with my family.

I’ll never forget the first picnic I had after moving from Los Angeles to London.  Storm clouds had followed me for months.  Then suddenly, the sun emerged and melted all miseries away.  My husband suggested a picnic in Victoria Park.  I was giddy at the prospect.  We made sandwiches, packed fruit, a bottle of Bandol rosé, and remembered money for strawberry Mivvis.

I remember laying on a blanket after lunch making daisy chains.  The tintinnabulation of the ice cream truck’s bells blended with those of the bicycles.  Dogs and children chased each other while adults set up lunch. Everyone was on a picnic and life felt like a Kinks’ song.  Finally, there by Regent’s Canal, I saw England’s charms.

A passion for picnics was ignited.  I learned to make coronation chicken and shooter’s sandwiches per Elizabeth David’s instructions.  I filled cupboards with homemade chutney, piccalilli, and jam.  Pastry dough which has always been a staple in my fridge became even more important.  If the sun shines tomorrow, do I have pâte brisée for quiche?  Or pastry for Jamaican patties?

Jamaican patties are among my favorite picnic foods.  They are as delicious as they are easy to eat.  Small but full of flavour.  Below is my recipe.  I hope you like it.

Also, if you’re in need of a good summer hat . . . allow me to recommend Hood London. They are absolutely my favorite milliners around.

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Ingredients for the pastry:

4 cups plain flour

2 tsp salt

2 tbsp curry powder (I use medium madras)

3 tbsp + 1 tsp turmeric

8 oz vegetable shortening + 4 oz butter, chilled and cut into cubes

1/2 cup ice water



*A quick word on dough: Cold ingredients make better pastry.  Which is why I’ve learned to keep flour in the freezer and fat in the very back of the fridge.

Whisk all dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Cut the fat in with your fingertips.  Work quickly to avoid melting.  Mix until you get a coarse meal.  Pour in the ice water and continue kneading the mixture in the bowl.  If you think your mixture requires more flour or water, add some at your discretion but only a tablespoon at a time. Form the dough into a ball.  Leave in the bowl.  Cover with plastic wrap.  Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.

patty dough


Ingredients for the beef filling:

1 lb. ground beef (approximately .454 kg), I use 15% fat

1 medium onion

1 large bunch of scallions

5 garlic cloves, minced

minced scotch bonnet pepper (I use 1/2 of one. Some people use up to 2 or 3 whole. Taste it and decide. It’s not my place to tell you what you can handle.)

3 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped

2 1/2 tbsp hot smoked paprika

1 heaping tbsp curry powder

2 tbsp + 1 tsp tomato paste

1/2 cup beef stock

2 tbsp your favorite hot sauce

juice of 1/2 lime

salt to taste

vegetable oil



Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a large pot.  Add the onions, garlic, and scotch bonnet. Once they soften, add the  paprika, thyme, curry powder, and tomato paste.  Stir a minute before adding the beef.  When the beef has browned, stir in the hot sauce and stock.  Turn down the heat and continue cooking until the liquid becomes thick.  Season with salt to taste.  At the last minute, stir in the lime juice.  Allow the filling to cool before assembling your patties.


For the patties:

Preheat the oven to 425F/220C/Gas7.

Remove the pastry dough from the fridge.  Cut the dough into 8 pieces.  On a floured surface, roll out 1 piece until it’s about 6″ in diameter.  To cut out a round, I use a bowl. Turn the bowl upside down.  Trace it with a knife.  Cut away the extra dough.

patty rounds

Place approximately 3 tablespoons of filling on one side of the round.


Brush a bit of egg wash around one half.  Seal the patty.  Make sure to really crimp the edges shut so none of the mixture escapes when cooking.  I like to use a fork to do this.  Brush lightly with egg and place on a sheet of baking paper on a tray.


Bake for about 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and crispy.  Serve with your favorite hot sauce.



Oven Roasted Tomato Basil Pasta

Years before I moved to London or knew who Nigel Slater was, I was cooking one of his recipes on the regular whilst living with friends and listening to Louis Prima most days in West Los Angeles.

One summer, my friend’s mother who had taken up part-time residence in England brought back the most beautiful cookbook.  It had matte pages and gorgeous photos and excellent writing.  Though I’d never heard of Nigel Slater, I loved The Kitchen Diaries.

Many of the recipes are delicious, but one in particular quickly became my favorite.    It was a simple pasta dish with oven roasted tomatoes, garlic, basil, and cream.  I am ashamed to say that I don’t own a copy of the book myself, but I have been making this for years by memory.  Each time it always satisfies.


500g cherry tomatoes

2 cloves of garlic, minced

a bunch of basil, ripped

double cream

olive oil


short pasta

pecorino and parmesan cheese



While the water for you pasta boils, pre-heat your grill.  Place the tomatoes on a large baking tray and cover them with some olive oil and salt.  Once your pasta is cooking, put the baking tray under the grill.  Cook the tomatoes until parts of them are black.  Pull them out, add the garlic, give it all a stir and put back under the grill for another minute.  Drain your pasta.  In a large bowl, combine the roasted garlic and tomatoes with salt, pepper, and a bit of the cream.  As it’s not my place to tell you how creamy your sauce should be, add it tablespoon by tablespoon until you get the texture and flavor you desire.  Lastly, add the basil leaves.  Pour this sauce into a large pot.  Add the cooked noodles and stir to coat.  Serve with cheese.

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Blueberry Crumble Bars

Corn.  Cattle.  Pella Windows.  Dutch letters.  Red covered bridges of Madison County (somewhere my initials are carved into one).  Elk Horn’s Danish windmill.  Butter sculptures at the the state fair.  Moths as big as birds.  Fishing in my aunt and uncle’s backyard.  The Hawkeyes.  The best writers’ workshop in America.  Glenn Miller, John Wayne, Johnny Carson, Donna Reed.  Electrical storms in summer.  Fireflies.  Farm life. These are a few of the things that come to mind when I think of Iowa.

Well, that and bars.  By which I mean bar shaped baked goods–the treats that make the Midwest go round.  Iowans love them.  I love them.  And as a woman with strong family roots there, I felt it my duty to finally post about them.  Most tend to be of the chocolate variety, but mine are blueberry.

This morning at the greengrocer’s my four year old chided me.  “Blueberries aren’t in season, mommy.”  I trained her too well.  “That’s right, darling.  In England they’re not, but lucky for us they are in . . . (I picked up a carton and read the label) Spain.”  “Morocco too.”  I needed a few more cartons and the Spanish ones ran out.

Below is my blueberry bar recipe.  It’s a crumbly one with notes of almond and fresh lemon.  As the sky was so blue today and the sun so warm, it felt like the most appropriate bar recipe to bake.  I love it as much as my Grandpa Jim loved the Hawkeyes.  My hope is you do too.

where corn is king


Butter sculpture

Me at my Grandmother's

Me at my Grandmother’s


Great-Grandma Evelyn and Great-Grandpa Herman Warren

Great-Grandma Evelyn and Great-Grandpa Herman Warren

The Sorensens

The Sorensens

My grandfather is the boy in the sailor suit.

My grandfather is the boy in the sailor suit.

My aunt and uncle's backyard

My aunt and uncle’s backyard

mama in iowa

at coco's downtown harlan

james warren

Grandpa Jim



For crumble:

1/2 cup caster sugar

1/4 cup light brown sugar

1 cup flour

3/4 cup oatmeal

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

pinch of salt

125 grams unsalted butter

1 egg


For filling:

4 cups blueberries

1/2 cup caster sugar

juice and zest of 1 lemon

1 tablespoon cornflour



Preheat oven to Gas 4/ 350F/ 180C.

Lightly butter a small ceramic dish and set aside.  The measurements of mine were 8×12 inches.  If you like lots of crumble, use a smaller dish.  8″ x 8″ would be perfect.

Mix all the ingredients for the crumble, except for the egg, in a large bowl with your fingertips.  Combine until it resembles a fine meal.  Then incorporate the egg.

Place 2/3 of the crumble in the bottom of your dish.  I use my knuckles to push it into place.

Then in another bowl mix the lemon juice, zest, sugar, and cornflour.  Gently stir in the blueberries and coat.

Pour the berry mixture on top of the crumble layer.  Sprinkle the remaining 1/3 of the crumble on top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown.  Allow the bake to cool completely before cutting into it.  This will give you a better set bar than just a lot of crumble.

baked crumble

blueberry crumble bar

Honey Marmalade Cake

My in-laws were recently in France sorting my husband’s late Auntie Marianne’s affairs. While there they made two discoveries.  One: Auntie M. took it upon herself to edit the books she read.  Incorrect spellings and dropped punctuation were fixed with her red pen. Two: She had vats of local honey sitting in the cellar.  Honey as thick and rich as creme fraiche caramels and flecked with bits of the forest from which it came.  Everyone got a kilo upon their return.

Honey is a staple in my home.  I love it.  Runny, set, manuka, clover, English wildflower, Scottish heather–I’ve got it all.  But this new honey, Auntie Marianne’s garrigue honey, really is the bee’s knees.  Other than enjoying it in my tea, I wanted to bake something special with it.

Last year, a dear friend of mine gave me an old cookbook called  More Honey in the Kitchen.  It was written by Joyce White who was a cookery demonstrator and lecturer in beekeeping.  The book was illustrated by her grandchildren and published in 1991.  It could not be any more charming if it tried.

Today I baked a honey marmalade cake from it and it was perfection.  Below is the recipe.  I’d like to think Ms. White would have been proud and Auntie M. would have approved.

honey close up of honey Scawby Hall beebook recipe marmalade cooling cake sugar cake sliced cake