Oxford Blue Cheese and Broccoli Pasta Sauce

I was delighted to receive a gift of cheese and biscuits from the Cheese Market recently and with summer upon us I decided to use some of it for this easy Blue Cheese and Broccoli pasta sauce.

The Cheese Market specialise in artisan cheese from specialist producers, most of which use milk from their own farms or the local area.  There is a huge selection of cheeses and related cheese gifts and for something a little different a Cheese wedding cake!

Fusilli gigante broccoli cheese sauce

Mr ND does not do green vegetables easily unlike myself who eats Broccoli for breakfast some days!  This was a good way to infuse some into his green vegetable-less diet!

The cheese market gift box

I do love cheese and in a pasta sauce, when melted, just divine.  The crème fraîche gives a little lightness to the sauce, use half fat if you like it even lighter.

Oxford Blue Cheese round

Oxford Blue Cheese and Broccoli Pasta Sauce

Serves 2 – this recipe can be doubled up successfully

Prep Time:  15 minutes  Cook Time:  20 minutes


200g approx dried pasta

150g -200g Broccoli, steamed
125g Blue cheese, rind removed and chopped
100ml crème fraîche (half or full fat)
2 teaspoons lemon juice
grated lemon zest
black pepper


Cook the pasta in boiling water, I used Fusilli Gigante, any sauce will cling well onto its curves.  Drain once cooked and set aside.

Blend the steamed Broccoli with a touch of water until you have a loose green purée.

Place the blue cheese and crème fraîche into a saucepan and melt over a low heat, stirring continuously until you have a lovely blended, smooth sauce.  Add the lemon juice and zest along with plenty of black pepper.

Blue cheese and creme fraiche melting

Add the green Broccoli purée into the cheese sauce and stir until well combined.

Fusilli gigante broccoli cheese sauce

Pour the sauce over the pasta and serve immediately.  Add more black pepper as desired.  We added a glass of Chenin Blanc and ate al fresco in the Saturday sunshine last weekend.
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Miele event at Silo Restaurant Brighton

Last week I was excited to receive an invitation to an event with Margot from Coffee and Vanilla at a restaurant I had on my list of places to try locally.  I had in mind what the restaurant ethos was and found that there was a whole lot more going on behind the doors at Silo Brighton.

Silo Restaurant Brighton

The event was a partnership between Silo, the revolutionary Brighton restaurant and Miele, a high end appliance brand.  Silo’s Head Chef, Douglas McMaster created a bespoke four course tasting lunch menu incorporating locally sourced fresh produce, showcasing the range of dishes that could be prepared using  Miele’s Steam Oven.

Miele Steam Oven

Miele Steam Ovens maintain the nutrients, colour, texture and flavour of the food being cooked.  Steam ovens work by generating steam externally and then injecting it into the oven cavity when needed, giving you precise and constant temperature control for perfect cooking results.

Everything that is served at Silo Brighton is sustainable, sourced locally and can be used as part of their menu with zero waste.  The Head chef ensures that no ingredient used in the dishes is thrown away.  He says “By creating everything on site from its wholest form we can capture real food and real food tastes better”.

This passage from Silo’s website sums up their ethos “The great thing about sharing a bakery with a zero-waste restaurant, coffeehouse, and brewery is the abundance of waste products that can be used in the bakery. There is always an abundance of flavours. The waste milk from the coffee bar is a constant supply of buttermilk, the fruit waste and yeast from the brewers can be used in the bakery products, and with the restaurant a variety of ingredients are always on hand. The bakery products are in continuous development and variation, depending on what’s in season. What remains constant is the approach of using the purest, most nutritious raw materials to create a wholesome, delicious product”.

the compost machine set inside Silo, turns all of their food scraps and trimmings directly into a compost used to produce more food

left: the compost machine set inside Silo that turns all of their food scraps and trimmings directly into compost used to produce more food. Right: the flour mill

The food was simply outstanding from start to finish. We commenced the day with possibly the most delicious coffee I have tasted and Asparagus caramelised onion & Dijon mustard pastries.

Asparagus caramelised onion & Dijon mustard pastries at Silo Brighton

We then sat down to a small snack with freshly made Sour Dough bread from flour milled at Silo (the butter is also made there too!) and beautifully fragrant Elderflower Bubbly.

Silo snackOur next course was Tomato, sprouted lentils, smoked curd and wild garlic buds along with a zingy Lime and Ginger tonic.  A cool, refreshing dish and beautifully presented.

Tomato salad with smoked curd

Next we were treated to wonderful Asparagus and egg yolk sprinkled with sunflower and pumpkin seeds paired with Nettle Iced tea.

Silo Asparagus with egg yolk, sunflower and pumpkin seeds

There was a varied choice for the next course…

Silo Restaurant Brighton menu blackboard

I chose the Brown rice Risotto with baby Beetroot with Silo’s fresh Cheese.  This was served with a very refreshing raw Satsuma and Beetroot juice which I loved.

Silo Brown RIce Risotto with baby beetroot

To round off this delicious tasting lunch there was a Strawberry, Raw Cacao and lemon skin dessert sprinkled with Elderflowers and a sampling of inhouse Old Tree Perry.

Silo Strawberry, raw cacao, lemon skin, elderflower dessert Miele event at Silo Restaurant Brighton

Miele Silo BrightonThank you to Miele and Silo Brighton for hosting a very enjoyable lunch with a clear message on zero food waste.



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Disclosure:  All content and opinions here are our own, we were given a complementary lunch as guests of Miele, there was no financial compensation and we retain full editorial control.

What’s In A Name?

New food trends keep popping up, which are not so new, just reworked or reborn for today’s ever evolving health foodies.  Some resurface that have been around for decades, one that I can remember my own mother doing, that I carried on with my own children, only now it has a name.

I’ve been soaking oats nightly forever mainly because I felt the soaking would make the oats more digestible (see link below) for a young tummy at the time and I just carried on out of habit. Then someone gave it a name,  Overnight Oats!  Although I have to say that mine are more like the Bircher Muesli mum used to make minus the dried fruit which I have steered clear of for Miss ND so far, they are too prone to getting stuck on little teeth!

oats close

During the colder months I do cook Miss ND’s oats after soaking overnight, I think little ones need something warm in their tummies in the morning before braving the elements before school.

I make them in separate bowls for each of us, I like Almond or Coconut milk and Miss ND  will either have whole milk or Oat milk.  I also like to soak chia, ground almonds and flaxseeds in the mix.  I pop the flaxseeds in whole for myself as I love nibbling on them in each mouthful to crack them open, just me probably, but it also makes me slow down and eat more mindfully!  For Miss ND I do grind them though.

oats and seeds

These additions do soak up a significant amount of milk which I don’t measure, I do, however, check the oats mix just before I go to bed and add more milk to each as necessary.

A dollop of full fat natural Greek Yogurt (Lidl’s is amazingly creamy and comes in a huge bucket which is just as well as Miss ND loves it and eats it by the bowlful every day for afters) some fruit and a sprinkling of cinnamon will complete the bowl in the morning.

I don’t sweeten our breakfast, the only sweetness will come from the fresh fruit.  Miss ND has been brought up on low/no sugar and it really has paid off, she loves savoury and when she does eat chocolate,  she only manages a little (wish I had the same restraint!).

And when you see a “new” healthy recipe, remember that they may have been around for a while. Some of us have been hiding vegetables in our cakes, soaking our oats, making almond milk and clean eating, etc  long before it all became a trend.

Health Info:

Oats contain vitamins B1, B2, B3, B6, E, Folic Acid, Calcium, Potassium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Selenium – trace elements: copper, chromium, manganese, molybdenum, selenium and iodine.

This link from Sun Warrior is an excellent explanation of why we should soak our nuts and seeds overnight.

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My Imperia Pasta Maker

I am embarrassed to say I have had my Imperia pasta maker for quite some time, years infact. I bought it wanting to try to make my own pasta from scratch and life events took over in a big way and it got put away.

Imperia Pasta Maker

Imperia Pasta Maker

It feels like a really retro piece of equipment, no batteries or electricity needed and it has 3 heads to make many types of pasta and it also came with this ravioli tray, I absolutely adore ravioli and all the fillings that come to mind, delicious!

I have come across the Pasta Maker a few times and always with good intentions to unbox it finally but as we were and still are going through house renovations, it got put away and the dried pasta used.

Fast forward to last week when watching a food programme I saw them making fresh pasta over several episodes and I thought I have to do this!!!

Could I find the Pasta Maker, of course not, I scoured the whole house and finally found it in what will be another bathroom (one day!) right at the bottom (isn’t always the way) of a pile of belongings!

So, what’s the difference between now and all the other times I promised myself I would make fresh pasta when I’ve stumbled across the box??  I have been taking things a little slower in the last couple of years, trying to savour, enjoy and appreciate life more after the passing of someone very close to me.  Taking things slower has meant I am taking time over things rather than rushing through life at speed, it means sometimes I get less done but it feels like I’ve done it well (most of the time).

Hopefully I’ll also be working my way through my long overdue list of foodie projects as I’ve spent the last few weeks organising my home office and I actually know where everything is now!

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Quinoa Lentil Burgers

I’ve been meaning to try out my Burger maker to make some Quinoa, Lentil Burgers for some time now, not enough hours in the day for everything I want to make! There are a few veggie burger combinations I have in mind so expect a few posts in the not too distant future!

quinoa burger

I really enjoy the whole burger experience, the patty, the soft bun, the onions, cheese, gherkins and French mustard, it has to be French mustard for me.

We haven’t eaten red meat burgers since Mr ND became a vegetarian many years ago but I remember when I was pregnant I was craving burgers, the baby needed a burger, she got a full on Quorn burger that day made by Mr ND, I remember it well, strange how we crave when pregnant, our bodies way of telling us what we need.

So, for my first foray into making my own veggie burgers I have chosen Quinoa and Green Lentils as my base.  I love Quinoa, been using it for years, protein-rich and gluten-free it is a versatile addition.

Quinoa Lentil Patties

I’ve kept the Burgers quite simple but I can see other ingredients that will make it into future burgers such as walnuts, chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans, flaxseeds, etc.

Quinoa and Lentil Burgers

Prep Time:  30 minutes  :   Cook TIme:  5 -20 minutes

Makes approximately 5 large burgers


1 red onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
150g Chestnut Mushrooms, chopped
400g Green Lentils (I used tinned)
60g Quinoa, cooked
1 tablespoon Tomato purée
1 medium egg, beaten
5 tablespoons oats
Paprika and Cayenne to taste
Parsley to taste
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
Salt and Black Pepper to taste


Gently sauté the red onions and garlic for a few minutes then add the mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes or until soft.

Drain the Green Lentils and rinse, put into food processor along with cooked Quinoa, Tomato purée, beaten egg, salt and black pepper.  Pulse ingredients until you have the consistency you want.  For the next Quinoa burger I make I may just add the Quinoa to the bowl rather than the food processor for a little extra texture, remember this is my first one!

Pop the mixture into a large bowl and add the oats, use as many tablespoons as needed, 5 was about right for mine, Paprika, Cayenne, Parsley and sesame seeds, mix well.

Refrigerate for an hour or so or overnight to firm up a little.  I baked mine for 15 minutes so stop them from breaking up when I fried them off after but next time I will probably use either more oats and/or some wholewheat flour.  But with careful handling I got perfect, unbroken burgers!

Once you have the base burger mix done, you can separate it up and customise the burgers to everyone’s taste if need be.   Extra chilli flakes and maybe Pumpkin seeds for me!   This batch made 5 really decent sized burgers and 1 little one for a little one to try.   Easily freezable too,

Quinoa Lentil Burger

Serve in a bun of your choice or between Lettuce leaves garnished with homemade salsa for a gluten-free version.

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RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower

Many years ago I had this brilliant large greenhouse at the top of my garden, then a hurricane came and like a scene out of the Wizard of Oz it took my greenhouse.  I remember waking up hearing what I thought was my baby crying but it was the tinkling of glass as the hurricane huffed and puffed and blew my greenhouse down.

I’ve never had a greenhouse since, the space is still there, empty, these days I may grow a few beetroot and attempt courgettes, peas and maybe cucumbers mostly to show Miss ND the growing process and also lovely to pick fruit and vegetables off our trees and plants. Oh, and tomatoes of course, always tomatoes, can never have enough tomatoes!

But my real passion for the last couple of years has been growing Chilli Peppers.  Last years crop was prolific, just Cayenne Peppers, hot and fiery which found their way into our food and into the Chutney’s I make all year round.  I use them fresh but the best thing about Chilli’s is that you can dry them slowly and use for months to come.   The next best thing is that I grew them myself and knowing their provenance is comforting.  I’ve managed to raise 30 seedlings this year!

Chilli Plants

Some of my lovely seedlings

I have planted Cayennes again this year but also mixed seeds, hopefully I’ll get the odd Scotch Bonnets and Birds Eye chilli’s – the fun will be in seeing what they turn into!

second planting of mixed chilli seeds

second planting of mixed chilli seeds

I treated myself to this book by Kay Maguire, the RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower – the complete guide to planning, picking and preserving Chillies!

RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower

RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower

It’s a brilliant book that you can dip in and out of depending on what you need to learn.  It covers what Chillies are, their history and how they have spread across the world.  It also explains the all important Scoville Scale.  I recently bought this Chilli Pepper Paper Lantern plant, described as sweet, fruity and hot, hot, hot!  Scoville rating: 350,000-400,000 and now I know what this means: VERY HOT!!

RHS Red Hot Chilli Grower

The book goes into how to grow your own chillies, sourcing seeds and plants, pests, etc.  A chapter is dedicated to using your chillies with a few recipes – I shall definitely be making the Chilli Chocolate Brownies – and finishes with a very helpful glossary of resources and technical terms.  Fabulous little book, packed with interesting facts and info, really easy read.

I really enjoy starting plants from seeds and watching them grow, but to grow food, herbs and especially chilli’s to eat is really so very rewarding.


Mammasaurus How Does Your Garden Grow


Sweet Potato, Quinoa, Lentil Lunch Plate

The weather this week has been a little up and down, the sun has been nowhere to be seen most of the week and the sky is a few shades of grey (not that many!) with plenty of rain.  We even saw some icy hailstones today which is making me crave a warm, healthy lunch each day.  I’m also exercising more now which is also making me hungry!

Red Quinoa

Red Quinoa and Lentils combined are a protein-rich favourite of mine, I cook a decent quantity together and keep in the fridge to add to other dishes, good also to hide and enrich Miss ND’s dishes too.  I just like it straight from the pan.


lentil quinoa

Sweet Potato fries (although not fried at all) are highly nutritious and have many health benefits.  This is a very detailed article from Live Science and an excellent read on all aspects of sweet potatoes.  Some interesting facts such as they have a low GI (glycemic index) which means they release sugar slowly into the bloodstream which helps balance blood sugar, unlike other starchy foods that elevate blood sugar rapidly after eating due to their metabolism into sugar.

sweet potato fries

These were blanched in hot water (for a faster roasting time), roasted drizzled in olive oil and today dusted with Turmeric, Cayenne and Black Pepper.  Miss ND loves these and has no idea how good they are for her yet, she’s not quite ready at 4 years old for the amount of cayenne I love on mine though!

simple lunch 1

simple lunch

Dish it all out on a plate and enjoy.  This was a really filling and satisfying yet light lunch, not something I would do every day but a little bulk cooking of some items can save time for lunch the next day.

Health Info:

Red Lentils are a source of Vitamin B Complex, E, K, Beta-Carotene, Biotin, Folic Acid, Calcium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Magnesium, Manganese, Phosphorus, Potassium, Zinc, Selenium.  Rich in fibre, protein and complex carbohydrates.
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Visiting VegFest Brighton 2015

The 28th and 29th March 2015 sees the start of Vegfest‘s yearly trio of festivals with their 2 day Brighton event.   The other two UK vegan events are Bristol VegFest in May and VegFest at London Kensington Olympia in October.

With the Hove Centre being closed for refurbishment, this year the Brighton Centre will play host to a weekend long event celebrating all things vegan to be opened by local Brighton MP Caroline Lucas.

VegfestUK features an incredible range of health and food products from over 150 stalls and caterers serving 100% vegan food.  Both days will feature the UK Vegan Comedy festival, the Lifewell Hub, live music, a massage area, a kids activity area that Miss ND will be sampling, film screenings, cookery demos, displays, entertainment and information from a number of health experts and chefs with a full range of family-friendly activities which will inspire parents and children to eat healthily on a regular basis.

On Saturday there will also be a Party Political Conference in the lead up the the General Election and Sunday will feature The Global Food Sustainability Co.

Advance tickets can be purchased from the Brighton VegfestUK website or at the door on either day.



Food Waste and Doggy Bags

Way back in the day before we had children and we were both commuting 5 days a week, every Friday and Saturday evening would find us in a restaurant for dinner, not wanting or having the inclination to cook.

Without fail back then I would always ask for a doggy bag and every restaurant would oblige happily and present me with my foil wrapped leftovers shaped like a swan or suchlike.  I haven’t asked for one for years, these days the restaurant visits are fewer but I do still take home half of my cake or sandwich, etc as I usually cannot eat a whole one at one sitting (portion sizes are often huge!) and it is lovely to enjoy the rest with a cuppa later.

Sarah Wilson has written this very interesting article called A Note to Restaurants Owners about Doggy Bags which highlights Food Waste, something I am very keen to lessen here.  I really love the Foodie Bag box below but simply providing paper bags for customers to DIY their own leftovers rather than having to wrap in a paper napkin or 2 and find it all unwrapped at the bottom of my handbag is a fantastic idea, take a look at the innovative couple who provided these at their wedding buffet in Sarah’s post, love it!


 Image from verdraaidgoed.nl

Or take a look at the Doggy Box from Too Good To Waste where restaurants can purchase and supply to customers.  I would love to see these on show and not kept back in the kitchen, let the customer know it is ok to ask for a doggy box!

It’s not just the food waste, we’ve all also paid for our food.  Miss ND likes a glass of milk when we stop for tea and I now ask for it in a takeaway paper cup as they always give her what seems to be half a litre (even though I ask for less) and will only drink maybe a third at that time but will happily finish it later.

Not every foodstuff lends itself to a doggy bag but so many do and in a bid to cut the vast tonnes of food waste we generate each year, asking for a doggy bag could go a long way to seeing that reduce, every little helps!

Have you ever asked for a doggy bag or does the embarrassment factor stop you?  Love to hear your views on food waste and taking your leftovers home!