Food Porn Friday – Episode 29: Thanksgiving

Disclaimer: I know next to nothing about US Thanksgiving nor do I intend to do any research before writing this blog. Thank you for your time.

THANKSGIVING may or may not have been yesterday. I mean, I think it was, but I’m British, what would I know?? I bet you’re wondering what to do with all that leftover Turkey you have, one US reader! Good news! I have a solution!

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

Fry it up with onion, pepper and garlic to make a delicious hash, and put a fried egg on top. Do that daily for the next month and you might finally have used up all your turkey by Christmas!

Extra stuffing? The (possibly) traditional American accompaniment of Cranberry Sauce? WAFFLES!

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

I believe everyone in the US has a waffle iron so this should be easy. In the UK, we don’t generally have waffle irons so our food can’t all be wafflified. A tragedy.

PUMPKIN possibly has something to do with Thanksgiving… I mean, I guess so, right? That’s why you all Pumpkin Spice your lattes and stuff? Have some French Toast:

Photo and recipe from Minimalist Baker

Photo and recipe from Minimalist Baker

Finally, a pie. What do you call a pie that you have for breakfast?

Photo and recipe from The Blond Cook

Photo and recipe from The Blond Cook

If you said “a croissant”, you’d be correct! No, don’t ask me to explain myself. I don’t have time for this nonsense.

Have a great thanksgiving weekend, and I’ll see you next month for the last ever Food Porn Friday! AU REVOIR!

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Amy vs Fruit: Ki-wheeeee!

Part one: Big spoon or little?

Amy vs Fruit kiwi

Here are the things I know about kiwis:

  1. They are furry.
  1. My granddad is deathly allergic to them.
  1. I once dated someone who ate them whole, like an apple, furry skin and all. (It didn’t work out.)

But we’re coming to the end of Amy vs Fruit now, mostly because I never have the time to do it any more. If you can think of a fun brunch feature that I can write, say, on the tube on the way home from work, let me know. Anything that doesn’t involve making elaborate recipes would be A+.

I decide not to eat the kiwi like an apple, because that is a truly disgusting way to behave. Instead, under the advice of our housemate Suze, I chop it in half and use a spoon to scoop out the insides like a boiled egg.

“Can I eat the seeds?”


“What about that white bit in the middle?”

“You mean the green bit?”

“The light green bit. The bit in the middle.”

“Just eat the whole thing, Amy.”

“But not the skin, right?”

“Never the skin.”

She assures me that kiwis are sweet, and one of her favourite fruits, which is a good sign. And I take it to bed in a bowl so that I can eat it while watching The Mindy Project before bed.

(The Mindy Project, just we’re clear, is my new favourite sitcom and possibly the greatest joy in my life. Not that I’m prone to exaggerating these things.)

At first, I’m not sure I like it. It’s a bit sharper than I was hoping for, and I worry that it’s one of those situations where that sharpness builds and builds until I’m forced to give up and throw the whole thing away.

But after a few bites, the opposite happens and I’m completely used to it – and I really like it. If you google kiwi recipes, quite a few cocktails come up, and I can see why – it’s got that kind of dry sweetness that would go really well in a mojito.

I settle in to catch up with Dr Lahiri and the gang.


Part two: Smoothie operator


Shocking as it may sound, I haven’t made a proper smoothie for Amy vs Fruit yet. This is partly because it seems so obvious – of COURSE all fruit is better in a smoothie, can we please stop GOING ON about it? – and partly because I was saving it for an emergency.

I know I complain about being busy at work a lot, but I have genuinely spent most of this week writing about an actual emergency. So although I haven’t been home especially late, I have not really been in the mood to whip up a flan, or whatever.

Secondly, it turns out that kiwis don’t really go in any good recipes. Just boring fruit salads. It seems they are one of those fruits best left alone.

But all fruits are better in smoothies.

So I used this recipe, and it was very simple. I doubled the portions so that Hattie could have some before we left for work, which meant I used two (small) bananas, three kiwis, a cup of milk (about 200ml) and a squeeze of honey.

(I actually prepared the fruit the night before, then froze it. This is a Hattie tip – you don’t have to faff around peeling things before 7am, the fruit is nice and cold, it will last if you can’t be bothered.)

You guys. It made so. much. smoothie. Way, way more than two portions, and so thick you couldn’t even call it smoothie. Just mush. I had to empty half of it out of the blender and add more milk, because it was completely solid. And once I’d done that, I had enough for me, Hattie AND Suze to all drink some before work. Plus a whole pint that I stored in the fridge until we got home again.

Kiwi smoothie

It was super delicious though.

And shout out to my awesome stepsister Sarah, who loves this blog, loves smoothies, and bought me the perfect hipster drinks receptacle for my birthday this year. This one’s for you!

(It’s actually not, she’s lactose intolerant, she definitely shouldn’t drink this.)

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Food Porn Friday – Episode 28: Cheese

I know what you’re thinking: “Have we really not already done cheese?”. No, reader, we have not. I’ll let you in on the reason: I don’t really like cheese that much.

Oh, I understand the pleasure of mozzarella melted onto a pizza, of a gloopy macaroni and cheese, of a sharp cheese toastie. Melted cheese isn’t a problem for me… much.

But I don’t eat hard cheese. Or strong cheese. Or smelly cheese. Which is why next year, Amy vs Fruit will become Hattie vs Cheese, and we will say goodbye to Food Porn Friday. I plan to do two more episodes, bringing us up to a pleasingly round thirty, before the end of the year. So get your requests in now.

Anyway, that is by the by. I probably like cheese enough to find four brunch recipes that I could imagine eating. Here we go.


Photo and recipe by Averie Cooks

There is one cheese that I have absolutely no problem with, and that’s mozzarella. It’s basically just… firm milk. I understand that’s what all cheese is, but mozzarella especially so. I also can’t see how you’d go wrong with crispy, thinly sliced sweet potato, or soft fried egg. This is a very tempting weekend brunch recipe indeed.

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

Cheddar and bacon are definitely another acceptable combination. Upper Crust in Norwich Train Station taught me that. This is basically the same, in that it’s bread stuffed with bacon and cheese, but there’s also egg, and red pepper (and green pepper, the lesser type of pepper). Amazing.

Photo and recipe from Innocent Delight

Photo and recipe from Innocent Delight

Everyone tells me I should eat feta, but I don’t eat feta. It’s too sharp and it doesn’t melt properly. This is one of the issues we will tackle in #hattievscheese. But I do eat baked eggs, so, I could probably manage this. It looks like the healthiest baked eggs recipe we’ve ever provided you with.

Photo and recipe from Savory Nothings

Photo and recipe from Savory Nothings

And, for your cheesy dessert, here’s a French toast sandwich filled with cream cheese and strawberries. Bon appetit.

Get your final #FoodPornFriday requests in sharpish, and I’ll see you… I dunno, sometime, when I have time. I’m definitely losing my blogging energy as Christmas gets closer.

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Amy vs Fruit: Halloween special

Part one: Pumpkin patch

Amy vs Fruit pumpkin

Disclaimer: I have a terrible cold this week and it’s dark outside ALL THE TIME, please ignore my face.

We were walking down Bethnal Green Road a couple of months ago, on our way to the fun spoken-word night Homework (we’re pretty cultured and intellectual when we’re not taking selfies with fruit). As it was the end of summer, we began looking ahead to the delights of autumn to make ourselves feel better – and the topic of Halloween came up.

“Remember when I handmade my own zombie sheep costume with cotton wool and a crocheted headband?” I said.

“I hate Halloween,” said Hattie.

That’s when my inescapable fate washed over me with a spooky chill. Like a ghost or a witch or something, if we’re sticking with the season.

“Oh, hell,” I said. “I’m going to have to do an Amy vs Fruit about pumpkins, aren’t I?”

“Amy…” began Hattie, looking at me like I’d grown another head, or summoned the devil in a ritual sacrifice or whatever spooky synonym you’d prefer. “Pumpkins aren’t fruit.”

Readers, I know I’m a fruit novice and prone to spout nonsense a lot of the time. But I swear I 100% believed that pumpkins were fruit. They’re so orange! They grow in the ground! Just like, um, carrots.

So we decided that, as punishment, I should do a Halloween Amy vs Fruit special about a vegetable – admittedly, one that I’d never tried before. Because I had assumed it was a fruit. And I didn’t eat fruit until a few months ago.

Of course, you can’t really just munch away at raw pumpkin (right?) so instead I decided to roast it.

I bought a couple of miniature pumpkins, because I thought the giant ones would probably taste gross. There’s no real evidence for this, obviously, except that they always look kind of patchy in the supermarket, and weren’t they bred to become lanterns? Like how some sheep are bred for wool and others for meat? You know?

When I got home, the challenge was how to prepare it. Even when I put all of my weight behind the knife, I still couldn’t cut it in half. Eventually Hattie managed it (always coming to my rescue) and then I gutted out all the seeds and sloppy flesh from the middle. From here I was able to cut it into quarters, and then nice manageable slices.

Then I peeled each slice – this sounds ridiculous, but because of the grooves in the pumpkin shape, it was only way I could get it to work. Then I placed them in a pan, drizzled with oil, seasoned with salt, pepper and cumin, and roasted for half an hour.

They were incredible. Like a combination of butternut squash and sweet potato, soft on the inside and crispy on the outside (as all the best roasted vegetables are).

Roasted pumpkin

As you can see, Hattie made garlic pork chops and cauliflower cheese to go with it. Her tip is to put a pinch of tumeric into the cheese sauce. I can confirm that it is amazing.

Part two: Trick or treat

Pumpkin ingredients

Now that you’re feeling all spooky, it is time to make pumpkin passion cupcakes from BBC Good Food – just like the pagans did in ancient times to honour the thinning veil between life and death.

Step one: I’m delighted to discover that this is one of those fun recipes which is basically like ‘just bung it all in together and stir’. Start with sunflower oil, light brown sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. Stir.

Step two: Add the grated pumpkin, raisins and orange zest. Stir. We have an electric food processor, which is good because it allowed Hattie to quickly grate the pumpkin for me while I was messing about with all the measuring. (What a dame.) If you don’t have a food processor, then hopefully you have a really sharp grater, and strong arms.

Step three: Add cinnamon, flour and bicarbonate of soda (or baking powder in my case – is there really a difference?) and stir again.

Pumpkin cake mix

Step four: The mixture looks completely disgusting. Don’t be disheartened. Spoon it into your cases and bake. The recipe says 25 minutes but this was definitely too long, because they came out a bit hard and burnt on top. Luckily I covered it with the icing.

Step five: Make the icing! Beat together cream cheese and icing sugar. Spoon onto the cakes once they’ve cooled. It would probably be nice to pipe them or something, but unfortunately I don’t have the right equipment, so I just kind of spooned it on. My stepsisters, who are all ridiculously talented at making and decorating cupcakes, would probably be appalled. Ladies, I’m sorry that I let the side down in front of the entire internet. I hope one day you can forgive me.

Pumpkin Passion

Despite their unappealing look, these were pretty good. I mean, they were all fruity and ‘healthy’ tasting, despite all of the sugar. And let’s be honest, we’d all much rather they were chocolate flavoured, like the ones Tanya Burr made. (Let’s all take a moment to think about how everything would be better if we were Tanya Burr.) But if you like carrot cake, you will probably like these too.

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No. 11 Pimlico Road (Pimlico)

No 11 Pimlico

It makes sense that, with the last place we brunched being Ten in Hornsey, we would follow that by going to No. 11 Pimlico Road. If you know a restaurant called Twelve that does brunch, let us know.

Anyway, that is by the by. Let me take you back to the beginning of the summer. It’s festival season, the days are long and warm, and Taylor Swift is in London. I know, it sounds like something from your wildest dreams. But I promise you it was real, and we were going to Hyde Park to see her play, and first, we were going to get brunch.

There were a big gang of us – six in total – and we were in a celebratory mood. So it made sense to order one or two cocktail jugs to start the day off right. We got the Elderflower and Earl Grey fizz, and let me tell you, it was great – sharp and strong with gin and a little fizzy to get you in the mood.

No 11 Eggs Benedict

I got double eggs benedict, as I was feeling classic. The hollandaise was perfectly light, so the double wasn’t too overwhelming, as they can be if the sauce is too rich. I liked the addition of avocado and spinach, and my eggs were perfectly poached. All I will say is that I’m not 100% behind the trend of serving eggs benedict on sourdough toast instead of an english muffin – it just makes things a bit too dense and hard to eat.

For dessert – because it was a brunch dessert kind of day – I ordered the chocolate mousse, and it was perfect. Dense, chocolatey, cut through with salted caramel and a crumbly biscuit base, it felt like an incredibly indulgent treat.

No 11 Pimlico dessert

No. 11 is a beautiful restaurant – spacious, calm, with a well-stocked bar on full display that makes me think it would be a great choice for evening cocktails, or Sunday lunch as well. It’s also not that far out of the way, only 10 minutes from Victoria station, so well worth a visit. Though the brunch choices aren’t particularly varied, you can also have sharing plates or classic mains at the weekend too, so it’s also a great choice if you aren’t in the mood for breakfast foods (though, why wouldn’t you be?)

Afterwards we tipsily made our way to Hyde Park, via the wetherspoons at Victoria Station for a lot more cider. The sun was warm and bright. We sat in the grass at Hyde Park and watched Ellie Goulding on the big screen. As the sun began to set, Taylor set the night on fire with her costume changes, celebrity guests and sing-along refrains (“boys only want love if it’s torture, don’t say I didn’t, say I didn’t warn ya’”). It was one of those absolutely perfect summer days, with a brunch to match.

– Hattie

No 11 Tilly's birthday

If you’re feeling enchanted by the beautiful image Hattie painted of our hazy summer days, then I’m afraid you’re going to have to, ah, shake it off. Ahem. Not the brunch wasn’t good, or the sun wasn’t shining, or Taylor Swift isn’t the voice of a generation and greatest songstress of our times. Those things are all still true. But, in a cruel twist of evil fate, I had been plagued that week with the ACTUAL PLAGUE.

Okay, not the actual bubonic plague like America apparently has these days. (Don’t click on that link unless you’re have a particularly strong stomach.) But it was close. I had been out with work friends the week before, and then suffered what I thought was a monumental hangover. But it just kind of… kept going. Endlessly. I genuinely thought I might not make it to Taylor Swift, which was one of my darker moments of 2015. All I could do was lie around in bed coughing and feeling sorry for myself.

By the Saturday I was not *ahem* out of the woods, but I was feeling slightly less like the end was nigh, and I managed to dress myself successfully and leave the house without infecting anyone. That I know of.

But, although I was grateful to be well enough to make it outdoors, I definitely wasn’t well enough to drink. So while everyone else had the amazing elderflower thing, I ordered some nice, safe, family friendly mango juice.

It was really, really good mango juice though. It was so thick and smooth that it almost felt like drinking cream – but it was fruity! I felt like it might even be healthy enough to cure me. (It didn’t.)

No 11 Bacon sandwich

Then I ordered the No 11 Bacon Sandwich, because I always like to try the signature dishes. It came in a brioche bun, with a light yellow colour that reminded me of the bread you buy in supermarkets while on holiday in Spain – but it was much lighter and nicer.

I may have had the plague, but I was feeling fearless, so I picked the whole thing up with two hands and took a big bite.

As if I wasn’t already pathetic enough, I immediately started choking. I had to finish eating it with a knife and fork. I will  never grow up. (That’s the last embarrassing song reference I swear.)

The bacon was just about crispy enough, although they could have left it in the pan a little longer, just to really char the fat to its full potential. But underneath the bacon there was a big, juicy mushroom, which was great. There was also a fun addition of teleggio cheese, which I don’t think I’d ever tried before. It was good – a little stringy, but not as stringy as mozzarella, and a fairly mild flavour. I thought there could have been a little more, but Hattie would definitely disagree.

I was too sick to order dessert (sob) so I ordered a coffee instead. They use beans from the Caravan roastery, so it was really good.

Final aside – Tilly had her birthday that week, so she’ll be mad if I don’t mention that in addition to being a Taylor Swift brunch, it was also her birthday brunch. Happy birthday, past Tilly!

Let’s be honest though, it was all about Taylor. I drank even more juice while everyone else had cider at the pub, so I was definitely way too sober for a summer festival. But it was a lovely afternoon in the sun all the same. And, of course, Taylor Swift is the love of all our lives, the goddess of the earth, and everyone’s ultimate best friend. She was amazing. Her show was brilliant. I wasn’t cured for another three weeks, but I at least stopped feeling quite so forlorn about it.

– Amy

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Food Porn Friday – Episode 27: Low-Carb

Look guys, I want you to know that this is absolutely not what Best Brunch Ever stands for. We’re 100% in favour of toast, muffins, pancakes and waffles. We believe in thick, creamy, buttery mashed potato. We’re full advocates of Spaghetti Carbonara. We endorse sausage sandwiches made with Hovis Thick-sliced White Bread and Slightly Salted Lurpak Spreadable. You get my drift.

However, this is episode 27 of Food Porn Friday and desperate times call for desperate measures. Blame the zeitgeist, or something.

Going completely carb-free is not advisable, but if you’re looking to cut down on the calories you consume, cutting carbs a little bit is a good place to start. Of course, some people have gluten intolerances or whatever, and might do better without carbs altogether. But that’s a small minority. Eat your carbs, guys. They help prevent fatigue, are good for your heart and, as we all know, have mood-boosting benefits.

However, I guess at brunch they are not always strictly necessary. So, OK, here we go…

If you’re going carb-free, you’re gonna miss waffles. That’s just science. These waffles are made with hazelnut meal and coconut flour – both things which taste better than actual flour – to give you what is essentially the nutella waffle.

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

OK, they’re technically not carb-free. They’re “low-carb”, with 7g of carbohydrate. But come on. We’re not monsters.

If you’re looking for something of a more savoury bent, these chickpea pancakes can be topped with avocado and a delicious homemade salsa…

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

Obviously those fillings are vegan, but you can top with whatever you want – even bacon.

Here at Best Brunch Ever, we are a massive fan of baked eggs. If you are gonna go carb-free, baked eggs are the way to go. This version, with spinach, yoghurt and leeks, is quite a twist on the classic, but looks delicious:

Photo and recipe from Bon Appetit

Photo and recipe from Bon Appetit

Cauliflowers are every low-carber’s holy grail. They like to pretend they are better than other things, like rice, or mashed potato. Obviously that is ridiculous, but a good dish that celebrates the cauliflower as it was meant to be – in a delicious Syrian-spiced hash with a fried egg on top – is not to be sniffed at.

Photo and recipe from An Edible Mosaic

Photo and recipe from An Edible Mosaic

Thanks for reading guys. Unless you want the next one to be “fat-free”, leave suggestions in the comments. See you in a fortnight!

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Amy vs fruit: I don’t give a fig

Part one: The office 

Amy vs Fruit fig

I’ve been in my new job for six months now, which means I probably can’t keep referring to it as “new”. I love it for many reasons. But after spending the first two months of the year freelancing in the wilderness (aka Wood Green Library), the main reason is that I get to go into an office every day and talk to people.

One of the things we talk about is fruit.

“Have you ever had a tomato? What about a kiwi? NEVER? That’s extraordinary!”

Grapes are now a regular feature on our editorial table, and every now and then something new and exciting appears “as a special treat”. A couple of weeks ago, it was figs.

“What do you MEAN you’ve never had a fig? You should have one right now! This is so exciting!”

Readers, I am no longer afraid of fruit. Ignore the job thing – THAT is the real achievement of 2015. So when my boss gleefully watched me pick up and inspect a fig, I did not feel the flutter of fear (read: absolute terror) I would have experienced in January. I just felt curious, and a little entertained at the spectacle I was making of myself (again).

“What do you do with it? Do you eat the skin? Is there a stone I could accidentally choke on?”

“Just eat it!”

I took a bite, trying to ignore the unpleasant skin fuzz and the grainy seeds inside (texture is still the biggest fruity problem I face, I think). My eyebrows shot up.

“It’s so pink inside!”

For such a boring looking fruit, figs are rather spectacular in the middle, all fuchsia flesh spilling everywhere. I was vaguely alarmed. Figs may represent “wealth” in the Bible (apparently), but let’s not forget that “split fig” scene in Angela Carter, which was about, well, something else.

In the end, I decided I quite liked the taste – nothing too sharp or sour here – but the texture left a lot to be desired. Still, sometimes that is easily fixed by baking it into a cake…

Part two: Figgy pudding

Fig ingredients

Not that it’s officially autumn (boo) when I get home from work it is no longer daytime (double boo). So that means the photography style of Amy vs Fruit is about to plummet. Not that it was ever that slick to begin with.

But regardless! My zesty spirit of adventure will keep you all hooked, I’m sure.

This week, as if you didn’t already know, was the finale of the Great British Bake Off.

Nadiya, you absolute queen.

To celebrate the TV event of the year, I decided to bake for the office. We have all bonded over our mutual love of anyone-but-Ian, so it seemed like a good way to mark the occasion.

I decided them with this fig and butter traybake.

I wasn’t entirely convinced it would work, but I was pretty low on time and it seemed like a quick recipe which used ingredients I already had in the cupboard – apart from buttermilk, which I substituted by adding a little bit of lemon to regular milk. Who needs to plan ahead when you can google shortcuts later?

Step one: Line your baking tray with butter and grease-proof paper.

Step two: Chop your figs into threes, and artfully arrange them in tray, face down.

Chopped figs

Step three: Cream together butter, sugar, eggs, buttermilk (or, in my case, a lemony substitute), oil, vanilla essence, baking powder and a bit of salt as the recipe directs. This was basically impossible to do by hand. NONE of those things wanted to blend together until I helped them along with an eclectic mixer.

Step four: Fold in flour by hand, and pour your mixture over the top of the figs.

Step five: BAKE!

Step six: Remove from the oven. Our stupid oven took twice the time to cook. In theory, you should leave to cool for five minutes, then flip, and the figs look all cool and shiny on top of the cake. In reality, the figs sort of floated to the top of the mixture and it looked incredibly gross.

Fig cake

I wasn’t initially convinced, but Hattie ate two slices at 1am so they must have been pretty good.

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Food Porn Friday – Episode 26: Nuts

I thought I’d let you guys know that Amy is doing quite well with fruits these days. She regularly eats grapes at work, she no longer freaks out when desserts come with strawberry sauce on and the other day she ordered, and consumed, a rabbit and apricot terrine in a restaurant. Things are changing round here.

That said, I think there’s still one food group Amy should be tackling – nuts. She isn’t convinced. I can see why. For ages, the closest I got to eating nuts was nutella on toast and sucking the salt off pistachio shells. But my Graze subscription got me trying nuts last year and you know what? Nuts are great.

For a start, they’re really good for you! I’ll let Jamie do the honours and explain why…

Anyway, now the boring nutrition part is done, let me talk you through my top nuts. My absolute favourite nut is actually the cashew nut. I’m pretty convinced that’s because they basically taste like butter.

Photo and recipe from Sally's Baking Addiction

Photo and recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction

These breakfast bars are really good for you – buttery without the butter, salty and sweet, and perfectly filling.

I absolutely love almond croissants. I spent so long being skeptical of that flavour, but actually they’re sweeter than chocolate, with more crunch and texture, and less rich. Here’s an amazing recipe if you, like me, want to make them at home:

Photo and recipe from Pink Wings

Photo and recipe from Pink Wings

The best bit about this is that you don’t have to faff about making pastry – just buy the best croissants you can find in your area (ie, the ones from Granier Bakery opposite Turnpike Lane station) and fill them with your own filling. PERFECT.

Regular readers will fail to have missed my peanut butter obsession this year. You will also know one of my favourite easy brunches to make is French Toast. Well…

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

I can definitely see myself making that after Quakers next Sunday. It’s so easy! Especially if you take out all the American-style French toast faffing and just make eggy bread (hint: beat eggs. add salt, or sugar, or cinnamon, or whatever you fancy. Dip bread in eggs. Fry. Done.)

But honestly, the main reason that nuts are so important is how well they pair with chocolate. Particularly Hazelnuts. Particularly in Nutella. But, if you want to go a bit more fancy, this recipe looks great:

Photo and recipe from

Photo and recipe from

You can substitute the hazelnuts for any nuts you fancy. But I’d stick with hazelnuts. Because they’re great.

Thanks for reading guys, and I’ll see you in a fortnight… probably, unless my laptop breaks again, or I succumb yet again to the horrible cold that we in the publishing industry call “Frankfurt Flu”.

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Amy vs Fruit: Pom pom

Part one: Queen of the underworld

Amy vs Fruit pomegranate

As you may have gathered last fortnight, it was my birthday this month. One of the highlights was seeing our good friend and occasional brunch companion, Tilly.

“Happy birthday, Amy!” she said. “I brought you a present!”

She then handed me two bright orange-red spheres.

“I want that colour in a lipstick,” was my first thought, which I immediately expressed aloud (along with my gratitude, I’m not a monster).

“What is it?” For some reason, Tilly wasn’t sure. Apparently I am now someone for whom other people buy mystery fruit. This is quite a plot twist in my life story, considering seven months ago I hadn’t even eaten an apple. When Hattie arrived half an hour later, she informed us it was a pomegranate.

There are two things I know about pomegranates. Firstly, Paul Hollywood doesn’t like them in cakes. We learnt that on Bake Off this season.

Secondly, they are the fruit of the underworld. And I only know THIS because Hattie made a pomegranate joke about getting stuck with Hades and I completely didn’t get it.

“It’s a really well known myth, Amy!” she insisted indignantly.

“How am I supposed to know all the myths?” I replied, feeling like I was back in the office and someone was asking me to comment on BBC sitcoms of the 1970s (which happens far too often).

We checked on Twitter; I now concede publicly that it’s a well known myth. But in my defence, Persephone wasn’t in the Disney version of Hercules.

Anyway when it came to actually eating the pomegranates, I had no idea where to start. The more I researched them, the more complicated it became.

All the recipes referred to pomegranate ‘molasses’ (whatever that means), or they just involved scattering the seeds in a salad (snore).

Even dismantling a pomegranate is unnecessarily complicated. Make some delicate slices, says WikiHow, then break the pieces apart into a bowl of water, but make sure you dispose of the skin and the ‘membrane’.

Guys, membrane is not an appetising word. After about ten minutes of cutting and shelling and disposing of membrane, I too felt like I was trapped in the underworld with Hades and thousands of lost souls. No wonder Paul Hollywood hates them so much.

Pomegranate seeds

Still, once you stop complaining it’s quite a soothing task to break all the seeds apart, and they are an amazing colour. I would have totally worn them as beads in the early 2000s.

They taste great too – rich and juicy and surprisingly full of flavour considering how tiny they are.

But I’m not sure it’s worth all that effort.

Part two: Stewing over

(It’s another busy week and in my haste to actually eat something, I forgot to take a picture of my ingredients. Sorry gang. Presumably you’ve never really been here for a slick, professional blogging experience though, right?)

Last time I tried to cook fruity chicken it was a bit of a disaster. But this time I’m using a Jamie Oliver recipe!

Step one: Season your chicken in paprika, salt and pepper. I’m terrible at seasoning chicken when it’s raw and slimy, but do your best (and possibly top it up later). Brown the chicken in a good sized stew pot, then remove and place to the side.

Step two: Chop onions. Cry profusely, like you do every other time. Chop garlic. Cry profusely because it’s so small and fiddly and WHY DID WE FORGET TO BUY GARLIC PASTE AGAIN? Brown them in the pot, seasoning with coriander and chilli.

Step three: Add the tomato passata and a mug of pomegranate juice. (I made this by processing most of the seeds I harvested in part one, then straining through a sieve. It was a faff. I’m relegating the ordeal to parentheses to spare you guys another moan, but all together the whole seeding and juicing thing took about as long as cooking the stew.) Bring to the boil.

Step four: After all the time spent juicing, I couldn’t be bothered to also make the molasses in the end. But if you wanted, you could boil pomegranate juice until it became more like a syrup (apparently). Instead, I googled around and discovered that, as it is a sharp and sweet flavour, vinegar and honey are a decent substitute. I substituted the substitute with vinegar and golden syrup, because it’s all we had in the cupboard. It worked fine.

Step five: Add the chicken back to the stew, cover and leave to simmer for half an hour. Stir occasionally. Get tomato on the crisp white shirt your wore for some reason.

Step six: While it’s simmering, boil some rice.

Step seven: Once it’s served, scatter with leftover pomegranate seeds.

Pomegranate chicken

This was so good. It was sticky and spicy and while the seeds have a strong flavour by themselves, they are a really good balance with the sauce. It makes for a great autumnal meal.

I would definitely make it again. But next time I’m buying the pomegranate juice pre-juiced.

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Amy vs Fruit: Grape expectations

Part one: Variety show


What is the obsession with grapes? Everyone is always presenting them to sick people and draping them in fruit bowls and dangling them over the mouths of Roman emperors.

And speaking of unrestrained decadence, it’s my birthday week! By the time you are reading this, I will be halfway through four consecutive days of fancy dinners and bottles of white wine.

Please keep me in your thoughts during this difficult test of my endurance. I believe I can make it through this. Your faith will help me on my way.

As a special treat for you guys, I decided to try both red AND green grapes, just to add a bit of variety. When I ate the apple, everyone was all “But what about Granny Smiths? What about the other 7,499 varieties of apple?”

So because you are apparently far more committed to my fruit education than I am, I’ll try two different types of grape.

I decide to start with a red one, and my initial impression is somewhat underwhelming. It’s FINE I guess, not disgusting, but not great either. It’s not enticingly sweet, not unpleasantly sharp. It’s just … fine.

But then I immediately want another. Maybe it’s because they’re so small, or maybe it’s because there’s something in the aftertaste, something familiar and comforting that I want to recreate…

I try a green one, and it’s a little sharper, but I don’t mind it at all. Both varieties are incredibly juicy, and the burst of flavour is very refreshing. I keep going.

I just can’t think put my finger on why I like them so much…

Part two: Happy birthday me


… Oh right. That’s why.

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