Al Fassia and Canteloupe Melon!

The days are getting longer, the year is flying by and I am starting to get excited as in 4 weeks I will be in Gascony, learning some new cookery skills for a few days. I recently organised our teams monthly meeting which offered a chance to find somewhere to eat, something that I find challenging as most love Nando’s, (I am not saying Nando’s is good or bad as I have only been ‘forced’ to eat there once, but never again, its just not me!), so I try and find cost effective interesting places to eat that don’t ship in pre-prepped food, where you can see the menu changes, and is seasonal.

So what to do in Windsor on a Thursday evening and research pointed to Al Fassia, a Moroccan eatery full of promise.

WP_20140424_20_17_40_ProThe Meze was amazing as you can see in the picture above, everything from the most perfect Hummus, Broad Beans, Spinach, Aubergine it was fantastic, tasty and fresh.

WP_20140424_20_17_49_ProMerguez Sausages arrived, spicy, piquant tasty but unfussy and rustic. We also had some Filo stuffed parcels, my mouth was zinging the starter was a real success.

WP_20140424_19_57_24_ProAnyone that knows me will appreciate my love of wine, I am not really a beer person, except maybe a Real Ale at Christmas or if the food dictates it as part of the tasting experience.  The Chateau Raslane, pictured above was AWESOME, it wasn’t cheap at £29.95 but for a Restaurant, amazing value for money.

WP_20140424_20_44_14_ProWhen in Morocco as they say! Mains were a couple of Tagine’s, one Chicken and one Lamb they smelt as delicious as they looked, the steamy mist rising to the ceiling as the top was removed, (poetry is not one of my strong points but hey ho!).

I forgot to take a picture of dessert, which was Seffa, a sweet Cous Cous dish with Cinnamon and Coconut which was delicious, never had it before, will do if I see it again.

So if you happen to be near Windsor, or need an excuse give Al Fassia a try, the service and food was exceptional and very good value, certainly prepared fresh. The owners brother has a Restaurant in Marrakech and part of the inspiration behind this gem.

WP_20140427_17_41_11_Pro Looking for a light and tasty dish over the weekend seemed an excuse to play around with Salads. This is a French Rick Stein inspired dish, with the core ingredients being Canteloupe Melon and Goats Cheese. To add some further flavour Marmande Tomatoes, Aleppo Pepper, and Poppy Seeds are used along with Cucumber with the seeds removed, and thinly sliced and a dressing made of 3 Tbls Rapeseed Oil and 1/2 Tbls Moscatel Vinegar, which is slightly sweeter than regular Red or White Wine variants.

WP_20140427_17_49_38_ProThis dish is mostly a construction job, such as thinly slicing the Red Onion and adding to the Marinade/Dressing, which starts to cook and soften what can be a harsh flavour. Adding Poppy Seeds to the dressing adds another interesting texture and flavour.

WP_20140427_18_07_37_ProMelon can be quite bland, unless your sitting in some hot country where it grows naturally so to add some extra flavour, shiffonade some Mint leaves and layer the Melon and Mint, leaving for AT LEAST 2 hours in the fridge, it imparts a beautiful but subtle element which lifts the Melon. The Goats Cheese is sliced and sprinkled with the Aleppo Pepper, again, leaving for a couple of hours to infuse. The Sour Dough Bread is used to make some crispy Garlic Croutons, adding texture to the Salad along with more flavour.

WP_20140427_19_54_39_ProYou can layer the Salad, starting with some Lettuce, then the Melon, Cucumber then the Goats Cheese topped with the Red Onion Dressing, finish with the Croutons.

Richard Bertinet is one of my food heroes and his ‘proper’ bread is now available in the Newbury Waitrose, I used leftover Sour Dough for the Garlic Croutons, I had scoffed the rest earlier that day, his bread is awesome if you can get it and worth checking if you live in the South West around Bath, Swindon and Newbury areas.

This Salad is a very simple dish that just needs time to prepare, marinate and construct, but tastes delicious, it’s one I will be repeating in the future.

Till next time


เสือร้องไห้ Sueh-ah Rong Hai (Weeping Tiger Beef) – Another Venture to the Far East, and a way to get your 9 a day!


If you have a minor craving for something a bit spicy then this is definitely a dish worth considering! Maybe I should rephrase the last sentence, If you have a craving for Blisteringly Hot, Sour, Salty and slightly Sweet then gather the following ingredients as you are in for a treat.

Weeping or Crying Tiger Beef is a Thai Salad that can brings tears to your eyes, if you have been unwell, like I have over the past couple of weeks and fancy something tasty and healthy then I can highly recommend this dish.


  • 1 Sirloin Steak per person, the best you can afford
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper (I used Muntok from Steenbergs)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons palm sugar
  • 8 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 Inch Galangal, grated

Put all the ingredients into a dish and let the Steaks marinade for at least 2 hours, you can prepare the Salad dressing etc. whilst waiting for the meat to soak up all the flavours.



  • 2 tablespoons Sugar
  • 1/2 cup fresh Lime Juice
  • 3 – 4 tablespoons Fish Sauce (to taste)
  • 4 – 6 Shallots, finely sliced
  • 4 – 6 Thai Chilis very finely sliced
  • 2 stalks Lemongrass, remove outer stalk and slice very thin or grind
  • 1 inch Galangal, finely grated

Add all the ingredients to a bowl and set aside for at least an hour, stirring from time to time to ensure the Sugar is completely dissolved.



  • 1 Mango, cut into 1 inch approx. pieces.
  • 1 Baby Gem Letture, leaves separated and quartered
  • 1 large red Onion, thinly slivered
  • 1 bunch Spring Onion, cut to ½ inch lengths at an angle
  • 1 handful Bean Sprouts
  • 1 Cucumber, peeled & seeded cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 small handful French Green Beans, cooked in salted water for 6 minutes and then cooled under running cold water
  • 10 – 15 sliced Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 lemon, cut in half lengthwise and very thinly sliced
  • 1 Handful Roasted Peanuts, lightly crushed to garnish

Take a bowl and add all the ingredients except the Red Onion, Cucumber and Lemon, which are placed in a separate bowl and sprinkled with half the dressing and put aside for 15 minutes. The French Beans can be cut into 1 inch approx. lengths. I used Peanuts that still had skins on, so they were de-skinned and roasted fresh, and then seasoned with some Maldon Sea Salt and lightly crushed.


Set your oven to 100 degrees and put in a plate to warm up, the Steaks will need to rest once they are cooked for 10 minutes, this stage is important to enable the meat to relax and become meltingly tender.

Cook the Steaks in a frying pan on a high heat for 2-3 minutes each side, you want them rare to medium rare so still slightly red in the middle, once cooked pop into the oven and wait patiently for 10 minutes.


Whilst the meat is relaxing, add the marinated Cucumber, Lemon and Onion mix to the Salad and add the Dressing making sure that everything gets a good coating, then after ten minutes, thinly slice the Beef, lay onto the Salad and sprinkle with the Peanuts.

C’est tout, more of a construction job than cooking but the results are stunning, with HOT, Spicy, Salty, Sour and slightly Sweet it will knock you taste buds into the next century.

You will need to adjust the balance of the flavours as especially Chillis can vary quite a lot, so make sure you taste the dressing to make sure the balance is right.

Special thanks to Vicars Game in Ashampstead, who continue to source the most wonderful Meat, Game and Poultry.

Until next time,


Kringle Version 1 (Not a complete Failure) – Danish Pastry Bliss

The last couple of weeks have been challenging and being struck down with flu has just added to the frustration, not feeling particularly inspired to get into the kitchen. Until recently I have not been a fan of Twitter, my Facebook account was deleted some time ago as it became too distracting, Twitter, due to its limited message size, seems to provide a source of inspiration on the foodie front and is the reason for this latest post.


I am a massive fan of Yotam Ottolenghi, and Middle Eastern inspired food in general. Yotam recently ‘tweeted’ from Copenhagen a picture of an interesting looking pastry called KRINGLE, I saw this post and decided to do a bit of detective work, and see what this treat was all about.

The word originates from the Old Norse kringla, meaning ring or circle and denotes the traditional shape of this pastry, made using either Puff or a Yeast based dough. Trying to find some recipes and guidance for making Kringle I looked to Google and found a number of different approaches and shapes to this tasty pastry, mostly by clicking through the ‘images’ search results, rather than web which did not seem to have so much too offer.

If you decide to investigate as I did, you will find variations from many countries including Denmark, Estonia, Holland & Wisconsin (home to many Danish people apparently), here is my 1st attempt which did not go quite to plan!!

The recipe I used is HERE, and is based on a combination of Puff Pastry but INCLUDES yeast, be prepared to be patient as it will take 3 days to make, most of this is resting time and should not be hurried if you are to get the best results. You might note an extra spice in the heading picture, Mahleb, an aromatic spice made from the seeds of a species of cherry, Prunus mahaleb the St Lucie cherry, which I added to the pastry mix.


I must have been tired when I started the construction element of my 1st Kringle as I go it completely wrong! You follow a similar method to making Puff Pastry, flattening Butter and folding it into the Dough mix, and leaving it to rest in-between folds in the fridge overnight. This is where I made my 1st mistake and things went downhill from here. If you compare mine, to the instructions on the web links on this page you will see where I went wrong.

There are a number of interesting variations on preparing Kringle, I used one HERE to get an idea on the techniques to create interesting shapes.


You need to treat this beast with respect, and timing/resting is important. You can see the butter beneath the surface after the third day, but you will also notice ‘islands’ of butter which is not what you are looking for.  This happened as a result of not doing the folding correctly and trying to fix the problem in a hurry!!!!


After the resting and rolling you can cover the centre of the Kringle with whatever you wish, I opted for a Butterscotch, Sultana and Pecan Nut mixture. I had originally intended to add some Apple, but it was getting late in the day and decided to omit this ingredient at the last minute. The Butterscotch was made from Egg Whites, Light & Dark Muscovado Sugar and Butter.


Now for my next mistake, this was not going to plan at all!

My Butterscotch mixture was way to0 wet, and I should have chilled the pastry further to make it less pliable. Once you have applied the filling you roll lengthways (front to back looking at the picture above), and then cut down the middle to create two tales. Don’t cut all the way as the next stage is to plait the two ends top to bottom and then join together. The technique is in the link above and should create a ring of Pastry, with the cut sides facing upward.

As everything was too soft and wet, my effort to create a beautiful masterpiece failed miserable and I ended up creating what looks like a pair of trousers!


Despite the odd shape and bungled folding the end result tasted absolutely fantastic which was a relief, considering the multiple mistakes I had managed to accrue over the weekend!

This pastry is well worth having a go it, you can play around with the flavours to your hearts content, or go for some simpler shapes to start off with, just put Kringle into Google and select the images to find loads of information on how to make them.

Till next time,