Greek Spinach Leek Pie

My friend Lucy said to me ” being a vegetarian shouldn’t be a side dish”.

More often than not she is confronted with restaurants lacking luster and creativity when it comes to vegetarian food. Glorified side dishes of pasta, risotto, tossed greens or sauteed veggies is all they can muster. Which is disappointing really, as cooking for vegetarians shouldn’t be seen as a curse.

Despite being a carnivore, I am also a vegetarian at heart and dedicated to the pursuit of delicious vegetarian recipes. Here is my take on the Telegraph’s original Greek Spinach & Leek Pie. I removed the dill, forgot the Parmesan (it happens) and added nutmeg.  This is a great dinner party recipe, just serve the pie hot, right out of the oven, when it is at it’s best and the filo pastry, crispy.

Greek Spinach Leek Pie



22 June 2010


TARTE TATIN: an upside down apple pie – but why?

Rumour has it that French Tatin sisters, Stéphanie and Caroline had a small crisis in the kitchen….The result: a traditional apple tart served upside-down. Whatever the truth, this ranks among one of my favourite desserts – the pastry on top stays golden and crispy, while the apples caramelise below.

We christened my father’s Emile Henry tatin set the last time I was in Provence. This one ceramic dish does everything: first make the caramel directly on the stove top using butter and sugar, add the apple slices, cover with pastry and bake until golden brown. When done, the tarte tatin turns out easily onto the matching plate.

Caramel: Getting the caramel recipe to work can take a little practice, click on the link ‘Tarte Tatin‘ below for more on this and the tarte tatin recipe:



12 February 2010

In love with a tart!

CHOCOLATE TART : a great chocolate recipe

Valentine’s Day – whether you are a fan or not, it is always a good excuse to make something sweet. And what could be better than chocolate.

This is an ideal desert as it is simple, can be made in advance, and is sinfully delicious. The slightly sweet pastry has a buttery tender crumb combined with the rich, unctuous chocolate ganache filling, that is not too sweet nor too dark – it is a match made in heaven.

Though I must confess I have stage fright when it comes to making pastry.  This requires summoning up the courage to attack the recipe (yes attack… I am going into battle) who will win is anyone’s guess. But have no fear, here you are safe. This recipe is tried, tested and true.

The pastry tart shells are made in advance after which no more baking is needed. The chocolate ganache is just heated cream poured over chopped chocolate, then spooned into the pastry shells and left to set. For the original recipe using orange zest see The Ulterior Epiqure

See link ‘Chocolate tart‘ below for recipe:


Leek & Bacon Tart


When I told Olivier I was gong to post this recipe for leek and bacon tart he said, ‘oh the  Flammekueche‘…. ‘Oh the what ??? ‘ Cheeky man throwing out fancy words. But he did peak my intersest and so off I went to find out more. As it turns out the word Flammekueche roughly translates to ‘baked in the flames’ and is a traditional Alsatian dish, made with a thin pizza like bread, covered with crème fraîche, garnished with small bacon slices(lardons) and onions, then baked in the oven.

I happened to have some leeks, a packet of lardons and some puff pastry on hand, not to mention something of an appetite. Now it is all very well and good  to want to make everything yourself, however when it comes to puff pastry, I fear I fold like a cheap deck of cards for the ready-made, store bought variety. Guilty your honour! Futzing around with dough and layers of butter in this summer heat is not my idea of a good time. However if it is yours, do not let me stop you, in fact I take my hat off to you!

This recipes is meals in minutes and is perfect for those nights when you look in the fridge and think ‘what the heck am I going to cook tonight’. You can also cut it into bite-size pieces and serve them as canapés.



‘Same Same, But Different’.….This was the slogan written on the shirts my brother brought back from South-East Asia for Olivier’s stag party. Odd that this phrase should pop into my head when cooking but it really does answer the question  “What is the difference between clafouti and flognard???”

For the purists in this world clafoutis is a desert made with whole cherries and a sweet batter poured over the top.  A clafouti made using any other type of fruit ie) peaches is called a flognard or flaugnarde.

I often make this dish as it is a quick and easy summer desert. If you are pressed for time, don’t bother peeling the peaches or substitute them for red plums! This recipe calls for standard ingredients that you should have on hand, and if you are without cream just use extra milk. A dusting of powdered sugar (icing sugar) adds a nice touch for serving.


This summer has been busier than normal with all the wedding planning. However, as part of the festivities, my girlfriends got together to organise a surprise hen-weekend (bachelorette) & to my delight, they booked an afternoon cooking course at Scook, the new cooking school of Anne Sophie Pic – 4th generation head chef of the French 3 star Micheline restaurant, Maison Pic.

The course was well planned, orchestrated and adapted to our large group, which included people with different levels of cooking experience. In a modern, luminous kitchen, each student was given an apron, copy of the recipes to be cooked and access to fresh seasonal ingredients. We then worked through the dishes step by step, with the added chef’s perks of being able to eat what we made. This hands on approach, with direct interaction with the chef, left you feeling confident, with a broader knowledge of the culinary arts.

Out of the things we learned that day, there was one idea that I felt would make an excellent base for other dishes. This was the unpuffed puff pastry rounds – a contradictory idea I know, but ever so good. Thus I have borrowed this idea to build the dish above – a sumptuous tower of soft grilled aubergines (eggplant), caramelised tomatoes and fresh goats cheese, with a hint of black olive tapenade & rosemary.



10 September 2007

Plum tartlets

{TARTELETTES AUX PRUNEAUX ET CANNELLE} I know I know, I promised more savoury & less sweetie recepes – but little purple plums are TAKING OVER MY KITCHEN!!! Everywhere I look there is a bowl, box or plate of them. Why you might ask – well it just so happens that Olivier’s parents have plum trees at their country house in France…. and as they cannot keep up with them, the torch has been passed! Something had to be done….

As I have already made ‘PLUM, GREEN GAGE & CINNAMON JAM’ (soon to be posted on the SP blog) I thought I would turn my attention to tart making… before the plums turn or the season passes! And seeing as the cinnamon was a nice added touch to the plum jam, I decided to make a sweet cinnamon pastry crust for this recipe.


Spinach & mustard cream quiche

{QUICHE A LA MOUTARD ET EPINARDS} The word ‘quiche‘ comes from the German word ‘Küchen’ meaning cake and started as an open pie made with bread dough and an egg, cream and bacon filling (the cheese came later!) It originated in the medieval German kingdom of Lothringen, later conquered by the French and renamed Lorraine – hence quiche Lorraine.

As fate would have it, my inspiration to adapt this traditional French / German recipe came when I was invited to lunch at Laura’s mother’s house in Surrey…. Wendy served a delicious warm tomato quiche, but what left a lasting impression was the mustard and cream layer that she added. With this tangy taste still fresh in my mouth (or shall I say mind) and spinach being one of my preferred vegetables of choice, my traditional childhood quiche was about to have a makeover!