Spelt and Chorizo Supper

I’m lucky to live just the other side of the park from the Deli Downstairs in Victoria Park Village (or Lauriston Village to use its proper name).  It’s a wonderful place to pop in for a treat- they do beautiful pies, quiches, sausage rolls and cheeses.   I’m a fan of their black pudding scotch egg.   You can also bring your own bottle to fill with some red or white from Borough Wines.  But the real reason why I love it is because it stocks the odd unusual ingredient that is just a bit harder to source- wild garlic or goats curd for example.  Or a bag of pearled spelt grain for the bargainous price of £1.50.

I’d never cooked it before, but this ancient grain turns out to be fantastic stuff.  It has a slightly nutty flavour, but much more neutral than something like pearl barley, which I always think tastes like musty, damp socks.  You simply boil it until tender and then use it as a side dish, instead of rice or in a salad as you would do with cracked bulgur wheat or couscous.  I decided to go down a more risotto-esque route by stirring in some creme fraiche, feta cheese, lime zest and thyme.  Along with a colourful salad of tomato, peppers and chorizo, this made for a satisfying supper which I highly recommend.  You just might have to pop down to South Hackney to get all the ingredients. 

Toby made pie….

It had porcini, leeks and feta in a puff pastry case and it was great.

Dinner for 10

…last week at Toby’s flat.

On the menu:
Sourdough crostini with cannellini bean, thyme and parma ham
Rye crostini with garlic, honey and goats cheese with fig vinaigrette and thyme
Butterbean, chorizo and chicken stew with lime and parsley
Roasted peppers with anchovy dressing
Spring fattoush
Apple and pine nut cake with rosemary ice cream

Spring Fattoush (recipe from here)

  • 1kg broad beans and peas, frozen or fresh
  • 3 cucumbers
  • 1 pack wholemeal pitta breads
  • zest and juice 3 lemons
  • olive oil
  • 3 tsp caster sugar
  • large bunch mint , smaller leaves picked, rest very roughly chopped
  • large bunch flat-leaf parsley , very roughly chopped
  • medium bunch chives , snipped
  • 2-3 packs of feta cheese , crumbled

Cook your beans, slice your cucumber, toast your pitta bread and tear it up. Combine in a large bowl. Whisk together the ingredients for the dressing. Add the herbs and feta and serve.

Apple and Pine nut cake (recipe from here) with Rosemary Ice Cream
  • Ingredients
    • 1 cup (150g) plain flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ cup (110g) caster sugar
    • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
    • 125g unsalted butter, melted
    • 4 medium golden delicious apples, cored, thinly sliced
    • grated rind of 1 lemon
    • ¾ cup (120g) pine nuts
    • Vanilla ice cream
    • Rosemary


    1. 10 Preheat oven to 180°C. Lightly grease a 20cm spring form pan and dust with flour.
    2. 20 Sift flour and baking powder together into a medium bowl. Stir in sugar. Make a well in centre and add eggs and butter. Stir, gradually incorporating flour to make a thick batter.
    3. 30 Fold in 3 of sliced apples, lemon rind and ½ cup of pine nuts. Spoon into prepared pan. Arrange remaining apples on top of cake and sprinkle with remaining pine nuts. Bake for 65 minutes, covering with brown paper bag or foil if cake is browning too much.
    4. 40 Cool in pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a serving plate to finish cooling.
    5. Serve with rosemary ice cream which I made by mixing lots of finely chopped rosemary into softened, good quality vanilla ice cream. Pop this back in the fridge for a few hours before serving with the warm cake.