Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash with @Lurpak Cooking Liquid #FoodAdventures

As I have been on the road for a few weeks, eating out US style, huge family sized servings for one person, sugar laden treats and all that. I have eaten more fried chicken in the last 2 weeks than the whole of the last 2 years. I needed a change, back to some human sized home cooked meals. Along came this offer from the people from Lurpak to try out one of their new products from the Cooks Range as an advertorial.

The Lurpak Cooks Range which consists of 4 products, Clarified Butter ( not the same of Ghee), Baking ( a soft butter blend), Cooking Liquid and Cooking Mist. I am guessing that you can use  the cooking mist to lightly grease cooking pans like they say in a lot of diet recipes but am not sure about the calorie count.

Lurpak Cooks Range

Mystery Box

I got sent this mystery box to cook something with. Nestled in the box was a bottle of their new Cooking Liquid, a bulb of garlic and some bay leaves. The Cooking Liquid is a blend of rapeseed oil and butter, in liquid form of course. On the PR blurb that came with it, it says that it is best used for baking, frying, roasting and even greasing tins. When you squeeze it out of the bottle, it looks like melted butter all ready to use. I would use this to pan fry fish where the blended oil won’t burn the butter content and you will still get the buttery flavour.

Lurpak Cooking Liquid

As part of their #FoodAdventures, I had to cook a dish with these ingredients, the garlic would be easy to use in any recipe but I have to say that the bay leaves left me a bit stumped. The most immediate thought was to cook something with fish, which led to thinking of a fish pie and using the bay leaves in the sauce. To make this a variation on the bog standard fish pie, I used a roasted garlic and low GI sweet potato mash for the topping.

This combination makes a fish pie with several different layers of flavours, from the smokiness of the fish to the creaminess of the white sauce to the slightly sweet mash layer and the contrasting saltiness of the cheese topping. The bright orange colour of the sweet potato  adds a colour zing to an otherwise beige dish. Perfect for some home cooked comfort food.

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash served with green peas

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash served with green peas

For this recipe you can buy the 3 fish combination (Cod, Salmon and smoked haddock) from a fishmonger or any supermarket fish counter. I have even seen it in the frozen section in Waitrose. You can also substitute or add some prawns into the recipe too.

I used the cooking liquid in making the sauce where you would usually use butter and I used it in the mash as well where other recipes call for olive oil. The liquid consistency made it easy to mix into the mash.

This recipe is a great one to prepare in advance of a dinner party and just pop it in the oven before your guests turn up.

Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash

Rating: 41

Prep Time: 40 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Total Time: 20 minutes


Fish Pie with Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash


    For the Filling
  • 750g 3 types of fish ( Salmon, cod and smoked haddock)
  • 1 pint or organic non homogenised milk
  • One onion studded with cloves
  • 3 Bay leaves
  • 2 tbsp Lurpak Cooking Liquid
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 4 hard boiled free range eggs
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • For the Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash
  • 1kg Sweet Potatoes
  • 2 Bulbs of garlic
  • 2 tbsp of Lurpak Cooking Liquid or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper for seasoning
  • Some grated cheese for topping that melts well like Cheddar, Gruyere or Comte


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6 or 180C fan oven.
  2. Place fish, bay leaves and onion in a pot and pour over milk.
  3. Boil for about 8 minutes and remove fish from the liquid and place in an ovenproof dish
  4. Flake the fish in the dish.
  5. Make the white sauce in a separate pan by using the Lurpak Cooking Liquid and flour to make a roux, stir vigorously and make sure that you cook this through so that you don't get the raw taste of flour in the sauce.
  6. Add the strained milk that was used to cook the fish and stir until sauce thickens.
  7. Season with salt and pepper.
  8. Pour sauce over the flaked fish on the oven proof dish.
  9. Quarter the boiled eggs and place over the sauce.
  10. Make the Roasted Garlic Sweet Potato Mash
  11. Wash and prick the sweet potatoes.
  12. Roast the sweet potatoes with their skin on in a hot oven for about 40 minutes. Sweet potatoes get a bit too soggy if you boil them.
  13. Cut the top of a garlic bulb or two and place it on the roasting tray with the potatoes.
  14. When cooked, scoop out the flesh of the sweet potatoes and squeeze out the roasted garlic into a bowl and add 1tbsp of Lurpak Cooking Liquid, cayenne pepper and seasoning.
  15. Mash the potatoes and mix well. (If you want a richer mash, you can add cream or even cream cheese)
  16. Put together the final dish by spooning or piping the mash onto the fish mixture in the ovenproof dish.
  17. Top the mash with some grated cheese.
  18. Bake in the oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the mixture bubbles through the mash and is piping hot.
  19. Serve with green peas or some sautéed spinach on the side.

For more recipes using this new range, look for the #FoodAdventures hashtag on Twitter and Instagram.


Live Blogging: San Francisco and the Bay Area

This is a live blog that will be updated as I travel around the Bay Area. I am spending a few weeks exploring San Francisco and the Bay Area. The images below are some of the places I have been to and all the places that I have been eating in. Full reviews will follow.

But first, one of the many views of the Golden Gate Bridge that I took during this trip. I have literally hundreds taken from all different vantage points across the Bay.

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge


Layla Lebanese in Wimbledon Village

Wimbledon Village is quite off the beaten path for a lot of people, especially if you don’t live around this part of town. There are quite a few good restaurants in the area if you are looking for a nice place for a good meal. Layla sits in the middle of the main thoroughfare through the village and it offers an upmarket Lebanese dining experience.
02-Layla Wimbledon (7)

The front of the restaurant is a dominated by a long bar  with some low tables along the walls. A few steps down leads you to the main dining room with a few cosy booths to the right, a smattering of tables in the centre and some banquette seating against the other wall. The ceiling is festooned with some drapey material and is lit by glittering chandeliers.

The clientele was made up of small groups and families but incongruously, there was a very large table of teenage boys. On arrival, we were greeted by the manager and was seated at the back of the room which seemed to be in the direct path of a cold draft from the back door. No one offered to take our coats but they did give us a couple of menus. Left alone for quite a while, it took a while to get the attention of a waiter to take our order. We were one of the earlier diners and the restaurant had not filled up yet.

We ordered a selection of hot and cold mezes and some drinks carried on chatting. I was having dinner with a friend and we had a lot to catch up on so we didn’t mind the wait too much. Lebanese menus are perfect if you like to graze as you can order lots of small dishes to share and get to taste a variety of dishes. Layla has a nice extensive wine list which includes a few Lebanese wines too.

Hommus and Baba Ghannuge

Hommus and Baba Ghannuge

Sujok Spicy Sausage

Sujok Spicy Sausage

Patata Harra

Patata Harra

Layla Wimbledon Lamb Kibbeh

Lamb Kibbeh



For main course, we ordered the Lamb Shank and a mixed grill. Both of these were quite large servings and was

Layla Lamb Shank

Layla Lamb Shank


Layla Wimbledon Mixed Grill

Mixed Grill

Just as the mains were served, the volume of music increased and a belly dancer appeared. Suddenly, the reason why there was a table of teenage boys here was made clear. (The belly dancer looked quite exotic but she was of a Scots/Jamaican origin) Nothing like a bit of entertainment to liven up a meal.

After all the excitement, we ordered a dessert to share, the Labneh with walnut. As expected, it was crispy and very sweet and which was perfect with some fresh mint tea.

Layla is a lovely elegant restaurant for a good meal and fun entertainment  if you are around the Wimbledon area. If you do go, try to book one the booths on the side as they are quite private and raised from the main dining area, which will give you a great view of the belly dancing as it happens. (only on the weekends)


33 High St Wimbledon

London SW19 5BY

Tel: 020 8944 769
Layla on Urbanspoon

Eat Cook Explore was a guest of Layla Restaurant


Malaysian Pandan pancakes with palm sugar and coconut stuffing

Coconut features prominently in a lot of Malaysian sweets. We use coconut is many different ways, from the pieces of white flesh of an older coconut (not the young green ones), grated fresh coconut to the milk from squeezing the grated coconuts. All this is easily available from the wet markets to order all over Malaysia.

Over in the UK, it’s not so easy to get coconut like this so we have to substitute with using canned or powdered coconut milk and dessicated coconut. For most recipes, these work quite well.

This Nyonya Pandan Pancake (Kuih Dadar) recipe is a tea time favourite, sold in lots of street food stalls. It’s a pandan flavoured pancake filled with a grated coconut filling sweetened with dark caramel flavoured Gula Melaka, Malaysian palm sugar. Yes, it is meant to be green as it uses the juice of the pandan leaves for both flavouring and colouring.

It’s quite easy to make and the filling can be made well in advance and stored in the fridge.


Malaysian Pandan pancakes with palm sugar and coconut stuffing

Rating: 51

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Malaysian Pandan pancakes with palm sugar and coconut stuffing

A very simple but delicious pancake recipe made with a coconut milk pancake batter and a sweet and unctious coconut filling


    For the filling
  • 400g dessicated coconut
  • 150g Malaysian Gula Melaka palm sugar
  • 3 strips of pandan leaves
  • 125ml water
  • 5 tbsp sugar
  • For the pancake batter
  • 300g plain flour
  • 250 ml pandan water ( blend 250ml water + 15 pandan leaves)
  • 400 ml/ 1 Can Coconut Milk
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 1tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil, some butter for frying
  • 1/2tsp salt


    For the batter
  1. Blend the pandan leaves with some water
  2. Squeeze the green juice through some muslin or a fine sieve. This will result in a fragrant jewel green liquid
  3. Sift the flour in a mixing bowl and make a well, add the salt
  4. Pour in the liquids and the egg and mix well
  5. Adjust your ingredients to make a batter that coats the back of your spoon
  6. Leave aside and make the filling
  7. Coconut Filling
  8. To make the filling, chop up the Gula Melaka
  9. In a pan, melt the Gula Melaka, sugar and the pandan leaves in water over a slow heat
  10. When the sugar is melted, add the coconut and stir well
  11. If the mixture looks a bit too dry, add a bit of water
  12. Cook on a low heat for about 15 minutes as you want the coconut mixture to be moist and not dry
  13. Let it cool before the next step
  14. Make the pancakes in a small frying pan or a specialised crepe pan. It might take a few test pancakes to get the pan seasoned correctly. You can use oil and a bit of butter to oil the pan for a bit of flavour and to prevent sticking
  15. Spoon about 2 tbsp of the pancake batter evenly and cook for about 1 minute. It should be cooked through but not too brown
  16. Layout the pancake on a clean surface and spoon on 2 tbsp of the coconut filling
  17. Fold like a spring roll
  18. To serve cut at an angle and serve with some ice cream and if you like a drizzle of melted Gula Melaka.


Don't be alarmed by the colour as it should be green from the pandan leaves.






Chinese New Year Traditions and Celebrations in London

It’s the Year of the Horse on 31 Jan 2014 and celebration goes on for 15 days until the next full moon. What does this mean for you? You can read you Chinese horoscope here.

Chinese New Year Year of the Horse

Chinese New Year Traditions

A lot of the traditions are based on superstition and myth. Through the years, this has all evolved to common practices that people follow blindly as that is the way it has always been done. The 15th day or Chap Goh Meh is the most important day for the Hokkien people and for the Cantonese, it’s the 7th day or Yan Yat, which is everybody’s birthday.

Chinese families usually prepare for Chinese New Year with a very thorough house cleaning. On the first day of new year, no cleaning or sweeping is allowed as this is deemed bad luck, you don’t want to sweep all your luck away. This follows decorating their homes with auspicious symbols, flowers and new soft furnishings. Red and gold are the auspicious colours. The bolder the better.

Other traditions : you are not supposed to cut or wash your hair, cut your nails, pluck your eyebrows or anything of the sort. Something to do with bad luck again.

In Malaysia, we would visit family on the first day of New Year and lots of people have “Open House” where you just drop in for a visit, bring some gifts, grab a bite, have a few drinks and sometimes gamble a bit. There are usually quite a few open houses around town and you need to work your way around all of them, especially if they are business contacts. This goes on for the first 2-3 days of the New Year.

Kids love the New Year as married couples have to give kids lucky red packets full of cash.

You are also supposed to place a bet on something or gamble to open your luck for the year so head to the nearest bookies or get out the mahjong set.

Chinese New Year Celebrations in London

On Sunday 2 Feb 2014, Trafalgar Square will be the centre of the celebrations where there will be dancing, singing, lion dances and fireworks. All around Chinatown, the local businesses will be hosting their own events along Gerard Street, Wardour Street and Shaftesbury Avenue. Watch out for the guys in dressed in God of Prosperity costumes handing out money.

You will find Lion and dragon dances accompanied by loud drums (and sometimes firecrackers) will be featured both in Trafalgar Square and at restaurants and businesses around Chinatown as it supposed to scare away the evil spirits and brings good luck. These are usually performed by kung fu troupes trained in acrobatics and special kung fu moves. The Royal China Restaurants will have Lion Dances at several of their branches over the New Year period.

Chinese New Year Food

The most important event is the reunion dinner on the eve of Chinese New Year where the whole family gathers for a slap up meal. All the New Year dishes have auspicious names and everything has a significance like you have to have a prawn dish as it’s called “ha” in Cantonese and sounds like laughter. All animals are served whole like a whole steamed fish (heads and tails intact) or a whole suckling pig, as it means unity.

In some parts of China, the tradition if to make Jiaozi dumplings as the shape resembles gold ingots and is a symbol of wealth and prosperity. A special gooey new year cake made of rice flour is usually served at new year as the myth goes that the sticky cake will prevent the Kitchen God from reporting any misdeeds to the Jade Emperor.

Stevie Parle’s Korean Feast at Dock Kitchen

Not being a real watcher or follower of Food Trends, I can’t help but notice that Korean food and flavours seem to be getting featured more and more and sometimes in the most unexpected places. We have seen Kimchi burgers, Korean chicken wings, liberal use of Gojuchang, that spicy Korean bean paste in all sorts of dishes, not just Asian ones. All this partly inspired by David Chang of New York’s Momofuku fame as he seems to be cited as the source of some of those trends hitting the streets of London.

The talented Stevie Parle of Dock Kitchen has just returned from Korea where he went on an exploratory trip to experience and discover Korean flavours. The restaurant funds trips for their chefs to do similar food exploration trips abroad which results in the innovative menus at Dock Kitchen.

The restaurant sits on the edge of the canal in a glasshouse structure. The open kitchen splits the long dining room and the semi private room at the back. It’s all exposed brick and clean lines but a bit cold in winter.


Stevie has devised a new menu which features quite a few dishes inspired by his trip. This menu is being offered at the Dock Kitchen from February 3rd to February 22nd.

The menu read started off with some “snacks”:

16-Dock Kitchen 425

Raw beef, pear, egg yolk, sesame oil
Seaweed salad
Rice cakes, gochuchang

The raw beef salad was not unlike a steak tartare, with an egg yolk in the middle, drizzled with sesame oil but nestled on a bed of Asian pears, which added a nice crunchy texture contrast and sweetness to the meat. The rice cakes were fried, with a crispy skin and chewy centre dressed with some spicy gojuchang sauce.

Next up was a real treat which we don’t often see on menus in London. Fresh sea urchins, foraged from the Northern Norwegian coast by Scot, Roddy Sloane who supplies places like Noma. Here is the plate of delicious spikey black treasures.

18-Dock Kitchen 427

The idea was to scoop out the glistening orange flesh and eat it with some rice and nori seaweed. not unlike the Japanese Uni sushi. The soft flesh with the seaweed and rice made a terrific flavour combination, with maybe a little less soy dressing. The flavour is so delicate that you really shouldn’t do much to this but eat it raw. I’ve had it in a Greek Taverna, drenched in olive oil and lemon juise. Sea urchin is sometimes thought to be an aphrodisiac, so bring your dates here on Valentines!

The outstanding dish of the night was the Onglet steak which he had marinated for a day with his secret Korean recipe which permeated the meat. The steak was then lightly grilled and was resulted in a very tender piece of meat. Lots of restaurants like to serve Onglet as it is a cheap cut of steak but cook it so badly. Not here. It was outstanding.

35-Dock Kitchen 444

33-Dock Kitchen 442

Lots of the different textures and flavours from the various types of sides on the table and everyone raved about the squid kimchi supplied by Korea Foods. Stevie and his team even made their own kimchi using Red Cabbage. Very clever, tangy and crispy with that garlic hit.

32-Dock Kitchen 441

As with Korean BBQ, we wrapped some meat with a piece of lettuce, some of the vegetable side dish and smothered on some hot bean paste. With the plate of pork belly, we ate this wrapped in the unusual sesame leaves and some of the sides like tiny anchovies and kimchi.

1-Dock Kitchen 440


36-Dock Kitchen 445

Sesame Leaves

With the beef, we added an oyster and then some of the sauce. That plate of beef was gone all too soon.

Just when we thought the mains were over, we were brought a plate of Dried mullet roe (A bit like bottarga but not as strong) and cripsy fresh radish. Not sure how the Koreans would normally eat this but served like a canape was a bit overwhelming.

40-Dock Kitchen 449

Pudding was a Yuzu ice cream and a black sesame shard. (Am going to nick this idea) To finish, we were served a glass of hot jujube tea. The Chinese drink this too, made with a mixture of red and black dates as a blood replenisher after operations.

50-Dock Kitchen 459

Stevie’s Korean menu was a very honest interpretation of Korean flavours and not overly fusion. I would definitely recommend my friends to try it out, especially that Onglet dish. I’ll have to go back for the next innovation, whichever continent that might be inspired by.

Dock Kitchen is offering this Korean menu from February 3rd to February 22nd. Go try it. If you go on a Monday, it’s 3 course with wine for just £24.50. Note, the menu changes every 3 weeks and they could be inspired by one of Stevie’s many trips like Sri Lankan cuisine. So check before you go.

Portobello Docks
342–344 Ladbroke Grove
Kensal Road W10 5BU
020 8962 1610

A New York Itinerary

I have not been to New York in a while but will be off there in the next couple of months. Usually when I travel, I do a lot of research beforehand and create a long list of must see, must eat and must dos.

When Air France ran their competition recently, I tweeted a bunch of these mini itineraries and one of these tweets won me a flight to the Big Apple. Hopefully, I will have time to do all of these on my list.



@TravelNotebook #AirFranceAt80 My #nyc picks-Rubin Museum 2see unique Tibetan collection,walk Central Park,out 2Flushing 4Asian Street foods


Am always up for more suggestions, so if you have any things I must see and do and places to eat , do post them in the comments below.

Visiting San Francisco – Mini Itineraries

San Francisco is one of my favourite US Cities. I have been there quite a few times over the years and each time I try to discover something new to see and do. I usually spend my time in San Francisco as a local and don’t tend to do a lot of touristy things. But if you are visiting for a first time, here are some of my suggestions.

These series of tweets were suggestions I made for a twitter competition held by Air France recently.

Nothing like a good American diner, a stack of blueberry pancakes with bacon while watching the waves crash onto the beach below. if you go during the weekend, expect to queue. I always take a walk along the beach after breakfast/brunch and dip my toes into the Pacific Ocean.

Filimore Street is a bit like Hampstead High Street, a nice residential area, lots of lovely boutique shops and local Californian restaurants. Lovely street for shopping and nothing like the big departments stores or touristy crowds around  Union Square.

The Pork Store Cafe is another old American diner. I love the retro decor and their pulled pork is just superb. A walk around Haight is a must as this was at the centre of the Hippie movement in the 1960s. Now it is an area full of new age book shops, psychics and quirky shops. I heard that it has got a bit dodgy of late so go with care.

The Mission is a uber trendy area now that is has all been regenerated. You can get there by the Bart. The first time we were taken there for the best tacos in town by some friends, we were told to not look at the cars around us if we stopped at the traffic lights and to just walk straight into the restaurant when we parked. It was not safe to linger on the streets. Nowadays, Mission is a not only safe to walk around but is also home to a lot of innovative new restaurants. We went for some superb Cuban food here and will have to revisit on my  next trip.

Travelling by boat across the bay is just such a treat, especially coming from London. The views of the City from the Bay is stunning and you can see the iconic Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz from the ferry. You can get to Sausalito by car too but it is no where near as fun.

The ferry building is now a bustling food centre with numerous eateries and a fab cook shop. On sundays, the Embarcadero hosts an enormous farmers market, Californian style. A great way to spend a Sunday morning, grazing your way through the stalls.

The Slanted Door is one of the most talked about Vietnamese restaurants in town. It serves a Vietnamese (pseudo fusion) in a contempary and stylish space. If you are after something more authentic and down to earth, I found a few places for great Pho in Chinatown and the new Chinatown on Geary.

If you are already in SF, a visit to the Bay Area is incomplete without a visit to Napa Valley and doing some wine tasting. You can drive yourself or take one of the organised tours. The tours takes you to a champagne tasting, a brandy distillery and some vineyards. it’s easy and efficient way to do Napa but you can’t pick which vineyards to visit. My top pick was the unforgettable Carneros Brandy which has since closed. Maybe one of the other ones will offer an equally good product. Best of all about the tour is that you can snooze on the bus back. If you plan ahead you can book a table at Auberge du Soleil and even stay over in their hotel. I have not managed to book a table there so far.

If I venture away from the City, I usually drive. Driving towards Napa Valley allows you to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. Along the way, you have to stop at an In and Out Burger and order from the secret menu. As you get closer to Napa, you will see signs for the Outlet shops. It’s not the biggest outlet mall but it has some great brands. Well worth a shopping detour.

Beyond Napa Valley, you will find Calistoga. This is a little town that has one main street with buildings like in a cowboy film. This town is famous for it’s spa hotels. I usually stay one night and book in for a full day or volcanic ash mud bath, mineral soak and massage. It’s all quite reasonably priced too. One of the hotels has a massive pool filled with hot water directly from the Geyser on the property. It’s pure bliss here. Try and fit one night here or a day trip at least.

I will update with some newer tips and things to do on my next trip. There are so many more things to do and see around San Francisco and the Bay Area.