Grow Your Own! Caretaking and Damage Control


Snowy gargoyle

I’ll bet that if you could get the statistics up, one of the least spoken phrases in my neck of the woods lately would be “Oooh, it’s nice outside.” Because it isn’t. It’s been a Game Of Thrones esque winter here, cruelly punctuated with tricksy odd days of sunshine to make the crippling cold and stealth frosts even harder to contend with*.
OK fine, so there are no White Walkers to contend with in sunny Brightlingsea but its been bloody cold for a bloody long time. When faced with a balmy nine degrees for Saturday daylight hours, I had to take the opportunity to get in my garden today and see exactly how bad it has been out there.
*I speak comparatively as one snow week in North Essex basically amounts to a continuous three month blizzard anywhere else. We don’t do snow in these parts very often. 

The snow might be a laugh if you have nowhere to go and a properly lagged plumbing system, but it can be a total bitch for both floral and vegetable gardeners alike. There’s more going on at this time of year than all the mud and bare branches might suggest, and late (or entirely timely, based on the last few years) snow and frosts can strike right when new plant life is at its most vulnerable.  For the last two years I’ve been lucky and managed to blag my green babies through the winter despite knowing/caring very little about tricks like fleecing pots and digging up corms for safe keeping in the shed where the subzero temperatures are less likely to kill them. I give an open apology to my dahlias, may they rest in loamy peace if they decide not to come back this summer. The violas and primroses all seem to have taken their three day snow blanketing as something of a spa treatment and are doing very nicely but we have a serious amount of blank looking daffodil and tulip leaves which makes me nervous not just for the pretty factor but also for the bees if they don’t flower.
I’m on a bee mission this year in our garden. We really need bees, people. Bees pollinate stuff and make that lovely summery buzzy garden music too. Bees get a rough time of it in a world thick with non discriminatory pesticides and they really need a bit of help. By ‘help’, I mean poison free nectar, by which I generally mean as many untreated flowering plants as is possible, for as much of the year as possible. With the recent cold and unpleasantness, I am at risk of a much lower flower count for the spring which has prompted me today to put in a 3 point care plan for my bees, and any of their mates who might visit.


Lung wort, the first spring flowers in the garden this year

First off- flowers. Actually caring for everything in my garden that flowers and not taking for granted that there will be other petals and sepals around if some don’t miraculously thrive with little to no effort from this greedy person who is more concerned with a decent carrot crop. This year I will tend, I will deadhead and I will fertilize. I will read up on how to love and prolong the little patch of lung wort currently in flower in the mudbed. Sweetpeas and nasturtiums are started off in the conservatory as we speak to go out next month and boost the pollen count. I will do better for the flowers.
Secondly- pest control. I’m going to seriously reconsider the organic but still deadly bug spray I used last summer to control the flea beetles munching through my cabbages and chard. Leafy veg that doesn’t flower should not attract bees, but I’m being a bit of git by saying that this makes bug poison ok to use in some parts of the garden. This year I will try to keep on top of the munchers by natural means and the old wives cocktail of washing up liquid from a spray bottle. We will see how that goes. I am also going to restrain my dandelion removal compulsion and not yank out those pesky, mass rooted bastards until they have flowered. I hate dandelions. Bees love them. Maybe I can grow some big enough to harvest the roots for some tea. I will also restrict myself to only ripping the wild geraniums (which flower quite convincingly) from the veg patch and let them do as they will in the main beds. I am not even bothering to thin out the nettles that grow behind my pear tree, bugs and bees love them and they still manage to sting my through my ultra strong gardening gloves so to hell with it, let them stay. I’m mentally strong enough to let some unruly weeds grow in my specially arranged outdoor space. Good God, I need a gin just thinking about it.
And thirdly, finally, whatever, there is housing. We have a nice little bug hotel already in place for solitary bees and their crawly cohorts, and I’m off to fetch another one from the garden centre on Monday.  I’ve also started up a little woodpile right at the back of the garden which will stack up as housing for a multitude of woodlice and beetles and other little critters which may have a home in my garden. I may live to regret this.

So that’s the care angle from today. Damage control was a little less light handed and involved hacking back many of my outside plants to rid them of their snow-murdered extremities. My broadbean stalks are about 40% intact after snipping off all the black and dead bits and have been treated with some fresh ties and a compost boost. Hopefully they will make an April comeback. My rhubarbs are in sight again after their winter hackback, though one is looking much healthier than the other. I’m hoping for some rhubarb vodka action later in the year so these babies will get the star treatment but for now there’s not much to do for them other than to pile on some fresh compost. The garlic cloves I put out in January are breaking the soil now and looking strong. With any luck they will smell strong too and put off Moby Dick The Phantom Crapper from his visits to my veg patch. Shallots don’t appear to be doing so well but there’s not a whole lot to be done about that for now so they got a brief weeding and some new dirt on top too.
I now take a moment to sing my thanks to the Gods of Chard. Chard is amazing. My three little chard plants have not given a single shit about how cold it has been and are stoically carrying regardless of the fact that they should be long dead by now. They aren’t massive, but they are healthy and very green and if they go on at their current rate will be big enough to start snipping into my scrambled eggs again in the next few weeks.  Go chard!!!!

Tomatoes, courgettes and butternut squash seeds have all been planted today in the conservatory, when those are done in the propagator I’ll be getting the herbs going. Believe it or not all that took me four lovely outdoorsy hours, which is more than enough work for a Satruday, so I’m off now to inspect the local beer pumps before dinner.

How’s your garden looking?


Trial and Purition.


purition trial size sachets

A couple of weeks ago a Facebook marketing pop up got the better of me and I clicked on a random ad for Purition- a wholefood based protein supplement that various sinister AI cookies decided I might like.
I was maybe hungry, I was maybe vulnerable to suggestion and I was definitely sick of the grim aftertang from my current vegan banana cinnamon protein drink of choice. See the thing is, I don’t get enough protein and I can’t afford and don’t want to eat masses of meat every day. Excessive dairy triggers my asthma (and makes me fat) and whey based skinny shakes tend to upset my stomach. Hence the vegan banana cinnamon powder things.
So twelve quid for a Purition trial, with it’s Wholefood Natural Ingredients and alleged stomach filling abilities seemed like an experimental price worth paying. I will never again take a risk on a 1kg parcel of anything, except maybe from Hotel Chocolat, so the  6x 40g tester sachets of their standard flavours seemed safe. Apart from the coconut one, which can obviously burn in hell.

Purition shakes are made mostly of severely ground nuts and seeds in different quantities depending on the variety but include chia, flax, almonds and coconut in most mixes as well as some whey. I will say now that I mildly object to them being marketed as ‘wholefood’ products because whey is a processed by product of milk but I’ll get over it. The rest of it seems to be legit.

Reccomended consumption is to whizz up 40g of purition with your nut milk of choice, or alternatively chuck it on your ceral or in your yoghurt. I took mine for breakfast with 300ml of almond milk and low to middling expectations. Here’s how I got on.

img_7173 Almond: It’s Monday morning, it’s 0620 and a wholefood seed shake is not high on my list of wants. The mix is pretty easy to prepare, a ten second blast the blender is all it needs and I’m pleasingly surprised with the resulting shake.
It’s really nice.
Creamy and blessedly savoury with none of the fake cherry bakewell type flavour I was expecting although there is a very faint bitter aftertaste (from the minimal stevia content I expect) which disappears with a coffee. I was peckish again at around nine which was conquered with a mug of green tea and didn’t feel a need to eat again until 11. Which is really good going for me. I felt good all day, didn’t get hangry after a low carb lunch and went for a short run after work. I also didn’t suffer any of the windy upset that whey usually causes to my innards, I assume because there isn’t that much of it in there.

img_7178 Strawberry: The bright colour made me expect some kind of awful sweet fruit tang on this one but it was again very mildly flavoured and inoffensive. Could have done with a few icecubes in the mix perhaps to make up for opening an almond milk carton that hadn’t been in the fridge! Mildy gritty from the seeds which wasn’t a killer but I’m not sure I would chose it again.
I didn’t feel like eating again until gone 10am, though did pig out the evening when I got home.


Chocolate: ‘Cocoa’ really is the operative term here, as like the others this was a distinctly savoury option that put me in mind of unpleasant carob stuff that healthfood shops used to palm off as ‘just like’ chocolate. Meh. Didn’t hate it, bet it’s good in porridge though (with some sugar too) and reliable sources say that adding a frozen banana makes a brilliant smoothie.
Didn’t feel like eating until around 11.


Pistachio: I was looking forwards to this one as I’m a big fan of pistachio nuts. It came to pass that there is a definite base flavour to all of these shakes which is both creamy and nutty and this one in particular was very savoury to the point that I wondered if there was a pinch of sea salt in there. Very enjoyable, if you don’t love a sugar hit first thing in the day.


Macadamia & Vanilla: Much lighter than expected, somehow fluffy and put me in mind of a sorbet, much sweeter than the others. Filling too, and again I didn’t think about snacking until 11 when I succumbed to a tub of pomelo.

Coconut: hahaha, oh shut up as if I’m going to have the fully coconut flavoured one. bleurgh. The Mr had it in his porridge and said ‘it’s fine’.

In summary, I’m impressed, mainly that they don’t taste like crap with a worse after tang like so many flavoured protein supplements and also don’t make you guff like the east wind all day. They really do live up to the tummy filling promise too, which is impressive given that when mixed with almond milk they come in at around 250 calories. On the surface the macros don’t look great, with a very high fat content by percentage however these are all plant based and arguably ‘good’ fats. And, comparatively speaking, they aren’t cheap at £22 for a 500g pouch where your standard flavoured protein shakes tend to be less than that for a kilo. But those are grim, with the afore mentioned guffing, so I’m going to take the plunge and order myself a full sized almond bag and look forwards to a couple of weeks of low fuss breakfast and maybe some experimental pancakes and cereal mixes.

This post probably sounds sponsored, but it isn’t!

Ultimate Pasta Sauce

Fresh vine ripened tomatoes for the ultimate pasta sauce

I remember going to uni as a naive 18 year old and being utterly horrified by the general gravitation of my cohorts in academia towards jarred, mass produced and frankly horrible pasta sauce. I understood that they were cheap, and convenient, and easily stored at room temperature in the back of a cupboard where they were less likely to get pinched than they would from the communal fridge but still, come on guys, can’t we just make some pasta sauce?

They all thought I was mad. They probably still do. And maybe I am, but I was raised by a multitude of cooks who can all turn out a mega pasta dinner in their own way and they don’t do it with a tub of Dolmio. There are a lot of signature dishes out there. My Mothership does a veggie bolognese-ish spaghetti second to none. My Step Mum spent most of the 90s turning out the hands down best cannelloni that ever was (as a side note hey, Helen, what happened to this?!?!?!?!).  My Uncle taught me a fail safe arrabiata on a family holiday some years ago that I have never tinkered with and whilst I’m sure even my biggest kitchen heroes have sunk to the odd convenience packet in their darkest hours, they are also living proof that a scratch made sauce beats the doughballs out of any mass produced, additive riddled jar from Waitrose.


Wilkin & Sons ketchup- the now-not-so-secret magic ingredient

At the risk of setting off the carbonara fans, I firmly believe that a solid tomato pasta sauce is something all cooks should have under their belt early on, like, certainly before they move out of their homestead to pick up bad habits in a shared halls kitchenette. So here’s mine- I’ll hold my hands up to say it isn’t quite as quick as unscrewing a lid and stirring but after much trial, error and penne based testing I can say this is easy and fail safe if you get half decent fresh tomatoes and the super special secret ingredient that is a bottle of Wilkin & Sons ketchup (you” thank me for this later if you’ve never tried it). This recipe makes enough for 4-6 healthy servings but it freezes really well so you can think of a huge batch as making the best of the long cooking time. I think it actually tastes better the day after you make it, but you can be the judge of that.


Boomboom Pasta Sauce


1kg fresh plum or vine ripened tomatoes
1 white onion, very finely chopped
5 cloves garlic, minced
Pinch chilli flakes
2 tbspns Wilkin & Sons tomato ketchup OR 1 tbspn tomato puree
1tbspn apple cider vinegar
2 tsp caster sugar
Sea salt
Black pepper
Rapeseed oil for frying
Fresh basil leaves
Parmesan to serve (optional)

Fry the onions and garlic with the chilli flakes and oil on a medium heat in a sturdy, lidded and preferably non stick pan. When the onions begin to soften add the roughly chopped tomatoes- don’t faff about skinning them or separating out the seeds but do try to get the best quality you can afford, they are the backbone of this sauce afterall. Turn the heat down to low (barely a simmer), cover and cook for 30 minutes, checking regularly that it isn’t sticking to the pan however there should be enough liquid from the tomatoes to prevent this.
After half an hour, add the sugar and vingear and cook for another 15 minutes on low with the lid on. Add the ketchup or tomato puree now- I have to reiterate that the Wilkin and Sons ketchup is the super special secret ingredient here, I don’t know what they do with it but using any other ketchup will not cut it so if you can’t use W&S, go for a good quality puree instead. Give it another 10 minutes to simmer uncovered then season with salt and pepper to taste.
Ideally, in a wonderful world where you are super organised, leave the sauce to cool to room temperature then refrigerate overnight to really mingle all the flavours together. In the real world, when you want to eat now and have better things to do than plan a pasta dinner a day in advance, add 2 tablespoons of shredded basil leaves, stir, then serve with your pasta of choice and a good shaving of parmesan.

Variations- hot heads can up the chilli levels with either more flakes or a finely chopped red chilli pepper.  At home I often add meatballs (lean pork or beef mince) at the same time as the ketchup/puree until they are cooked through, then serve immediately. You can use white or red wine vinegar instead of the apple cider.

The Skinny Thing- Banana Pancakes

Banana protein pancakes

I’m out for a treat lunch with some ladies today so a light breakfast option was in order. I always feel like a bit of a effort on breakfast at the weekend, as quite simply I have time to do something more than throw some PB on a bit of toast whilst simultaneously drying my hair and looking for my car keys.

So I thought I’d try these much touted, diet friendly banana pancakes because A- I have some bananas in the house and I can only eat them cooked these days (don’t ask). B- they are pretty low calorie and very low points on your Slimming World or Weight Watchers plan of choice. C- I have a shit ton of protein powder that needs using and I can’t stand drinking it. D- I hate myself a moderate amount for over indulging this week and this seemed likely to be a suitable punishment and reminder that all those 3pm kitkats are not worth having to eat fried egg and fruit on a Saturday.

I did not expect to enjoy these even a little bit.

Well, they aren’t the worst thing I’ve ever put in my mouth. Infact they were infinitely tolerable when one considers the mere 300 calories per serving and they didn’t take that much faff. I have to say though without the touches of the flavoured protein powder and my modest fruit n nut toppings, I think they would have just tasted like hot eggy banana which I’m pretty sure no one needs in their life.

Let me know if you try them out, or if you know how to make them better (unless this involves ice cream, because I’m already considering that).

Boomboom Banana Pancakes

Per person:
1 medium ripe banana
1 large free range egg
1 tablespoon protein powder- I use My Protein Vegan Blend Banana Cinnamon
Pinch of sea salt
A few sultanas
6 Almonds
Dark agave nectar.

roughly 300 cals, 18g protein, 43g carbs (5g fibre, 20g sugar), 9g fat

Slice then mash your banana into a fine goo then beat in the egg and the salt. Add the protein powder by sieving it through a tea strainer if you can to avoid lumps. Beat it all together thoroughly- I promise you it is worth an extra minute to seek out and destroy the lumpy bits.

Heat a non-stick pan and add large tablespoons of the mix- this quantity should make 4 decent sized american-style pancakes. Cook for a minute until you can see the edges start to cook and they are solid enough to flip over.

Serve hot with the nuts, sultanas and a drizzle of dark agave nectar, and if you are on the skinny wagon REALLY watch how much of these you add as a casual over topping could put the calorie count up by half, or more.

Lastly, feel smug and saintly and less guilty later on when you demolish a baba ganoush flatbread plate

Have a great weekend.

Variations- a chocolate or peanut butter protein powder would probably work very well here or you could just use a tablespoon of flour for the same texture but a different taste finish. They really would make a good dessert with a decent vanilla icecream too!

Yak & Yeti

What: Nepalese & Indian cuisine

Where: Magdalen Street/St Botolphs, Colchester
01206 767606

How Much: from £20 a head for beers, popadums and two courses

Overall: an undeniable 10/10


Yak & Yeti in Colchester, check out those chairs!!!

It’s always nice to be asked round for dinner, so an inbox invite from a flourishing curry house in the home town just after Christmas was well received from this blogger. A little more research showed Yak and Yeti to have popped up in a just-off town centre location that has housed a number of restaurants over the years, most of which have carried a reasonable reputation. On first impression, the Yak and Yeti appeared to have pulled up the previous standard expected, and the new hat attitude is evident to see here. I will say now that I am talking about their Colchester incarnation, there are some sister restaurants across the country though it is not immediately apparent if they are run as a chain or some kind of franchise option. The decor in the Colchester site is unashamedly striking and lavish with bold, bright panels of colour and frankly fabulous chairs which I will have in my own dining hall when the Mr finally wins the lottery and buys me my mansion in Sicily. Where was I?


Momo Nepalese dumplings served up with some style

Right, food! I kicked off with the traditional Momo starter- a Nepalese dish of steamed dumplings, stuffed with lamb (or you can have veg or chicken) and served with a chuffin marvelous vegetable chutney. I was steered towards these by the manager on the assurance that I would not find them anywhere else in town and afterall, one can get an onion bhaji anywhere!  I do love an onion bhaji, but I was happy to be overruled to get these delicately spiced and surprisingly light little parcels of goodness. I initially regretted the agreement with the Mr that we would go halfsies on our starters, although the tandor chicken trio was equally impressive with some punchy and cleansing chutney sides and a little pile of crispy bits of something which were possibly the best addition to a spicy chicken plate that could ever be dreamed up. Marvelous.
I arrived with the intentions of trying some of the impressive range of vegan dishes available but was unable to resist the call of a couple of meaty curries in the end, though I can shout out to veegs to go for the Daal Tarka- lentils, garlic, green chilli and coriander- which was utterly delicious scooped up with some paratha (ask if they can leave out the ghee if you’re not into animal produce).
The menu has a good range of meat, seafood and veggie curries ticking all the standard expected boxes from Korma to Jalfrezy and back again, plus some larger complete meal options of a curry, bread, side and rice. I will be back to test the value of these soon. For now, I can recommend the Lamb Xacuti for the hot heads out there. This is a Goan dish that predominantly starts with a strong fennel hit developing through anise and dark spices with a lot of chilli at the end. Wowza. This is exactly how hotter curries should be delivered- with a stealth punch of heat coming through from the surrounding big flavours. Fantastic.
On the milder end of the scale is the Ghurkali chicken, a mild but still busy dish of chicken cooked with tomatoes and super secret Nepalese herbs. I could have eaten this all day, if only to try and put my finger on what was in there other than mint and coriander. Very complex but mild, one for Korma fans who might dare to step away from the cream sauce.
The staple offerings of poppadums & chutney and pilau rice are all well executed and their bread basket option is a mild slice of genius for the indecisive- mixing up a few bits of paratha and different naans for those who can’t commit to a single dough source. It’s a good amount of carbohydrates though, and sharing one of these between two of us was ambitious at best, even for two greedy people on a Friday night. The Mr was almost weeping as he unsuccessfully tried to dust off the peshwari.


You can’t beat a Gurkha beer!

And you wash it all down with a couple of Gurkha beers, because why wouldn’t you?!?!?! It is all very well for me to sit here and say This Was A Good Curry, you can get a good curry in plenty of places around Colchester but the overwhelming impression I have of Yak and Yeti is that this is the place to stray out of your comfort zone and try something a bit different. Head down there, spend some time looking through the menu and change it up a bit. Enjoy the decor and the friendly staff and don’t be afraid to ask for some help navigating away from your usual safety order. Or, if you don’t want to get dressed or sit up straight, you will find them on Just Eat for local delivery too. The Mr has asked me to give a final mention (as he mentioned several times at the table) to the meat. Specifically, the preparation of truly buttery, fall apart lamb in the Xacuti and particularly succulent chicken in the trio starter. As he put it, you don’t really need your teeth!

Top marks, Yak and Yeti, thank you so much for having us!

clean plates all round

Roast Carrot Hummus


I think I’ve said before that New-Year-New-Youisms can bore right off for me, however I find myself in this early end of 2018 facing some needed changes in the kitchen, in particular by addressing my nutritional intake. Many sources agree that the end to my woes will come from more protein. About 25% of my daily intake of calories of protein, to be precise. That’s more than you might think, and not covered by my go-to vile vegan blend protein breakfast shake of choice. It’s not about dieting, it’s not about cutting carbs, rather it is about having cruddy weak leg muscles and utterly shit exercise recovery times. Need. More. Protein.

I am also blessed with a Mr who has let his winter culinary shortcuts get the better of him and subsequently requested a revision on our snack supplies, lest his current tummy expansion sneak into beast mode while no one is looking.

So we need more protein and less evil but still readily available snacks and we don’t have a budget (or inclination) to eat four chicken breasts and a head of celery a day each.  What then?


I bloody love hummus. I bloody love that it goes on all my favourite things- like toast and tortilla chips and carrots and I bloody love how easy it is to make a mass stash of it of a Sunday night and not have to worry about work snackage for me (or hometime binges from the fridge for Him) all week long.

For gym and slim types alike, chickpeas are packing in satiating protein and filling dietary fibre with bonus Iron, B6 and Magnesium levels. Tahini also adds about 5% protein by weight and also has a reasonable Iron and Calcium content. Yes, there’s some fat in there too, but I think we’ve stopped demonising that for a little while and I’m not asking you to eat an entire jar of sesame seed paste at a time. Unless you want to. Fill your boots. Plain hummus can get boring and strong, sweet flavours work well with the earthy umami of tahini and the sharpness from fresh garlic and lemon. Flash roasted carrots compliment it perfectly.

So here it is, my roasted carrot hummus, easy to make and keeps in the fridge for well over a week, perfect served from a little tub with some carrot sticks at your desk! I make roughly double the below recipe quantity to last both myself and his-self for a week of snacks and a bit left for Friday night. As with many nutritionally dense foods, hummus has a potentially high calorie payoff at up to 500 calories in a cup so watch your serving size if you are on a slimming mission.

Boomboom Roasted Carrot Hummus


2 large carrots
Rapeseed oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin

1 400g tin of chickpeas
2 cloves garlic
1-2tbspns tahini
extra virgin olive oil
freshly squeezed lemon juice
sea salt
black pepper
fresh coriander leaf –optional

Hummus constitution is a thing of great preference, so I would urge you to tinker with the levels of tahini, lemon and olive oil you use until you find your groove with this one.

Peel and chop your carrots and toss them with the cumin then roast in a hot oven (200C+) for about 30 minutes until they are soft and just starting to caramelise. Leave to cool- don’t drain off the oil.

Very finely mince the garlic and add to a food processor with the drained chickpeas and the carrots wi ththe oil & cumin they were cooked in. Blitz to a rough consistency then add the tahini, lemon and olive oil about 1/2 tbspn at a time until you have your preferred result. I tend to use 2 tbpsns of tahini, half a lemon and 1 tbspn of olive oil to a single tin of chick peas.

Season with salt and pepper then stir through as much finely chopped coriander as you fancy, if you’re using it. Serve. Boom.

Variations- weight watchers can sub the olive oil for the chickpea water from the tin but this alters the taste signiicantly. You could swap the carrots for roasted white or red onions. 

Shakshuka. Sort of.


shakshuka (sort of) ready to go in to bake

Last week I read a very amusing article on BS slimming fads and how almost all celebrity fronted diet books feature some kind of chilli spiked eggs for breakfast. I was thus reminded about my much mused but never materialised intentions to do some huevos rancheros for Saturday breakfast at some point in my life. It has to be said that eggs, tomatoes and a bit of heat is always going to be a winning combination, and by the very definition of there being protein and veg in there it is going to win points with almost all healthy eating regimes unless you’re a vegan with a nightshade intolerance. So although this might be overdone, it is hardly a surprise that this is such a solid performer for various chefs trying to sell you their recent waist reduction techniques.  The constant content bulker of Mushrooms On Toast (f*£% off!!!) in so many cookery books is far more irritating to my mind.

So faced with lots of veg ends in the fridge and two leftover wraps I thought I would rustle up a sort of brunch yesterday to fuel a perilous shopping trip into the Mordor of these lands also known as Clacton. I did not have the makings of a huevos rancheros, but I did have a hefty casserole dish recently donated by the Mr’s Step mother drying on the side which reminded me of some kind of baked eggs and peppers thing I had half watched The Hairy Bikers make on telly once. I didn’t google it. I just threw it together, and in fairness I think it was a reasonable re-creation though not strictly speaking traditional. But hey, it is a multi cultural world we live in. Melting pots and all that. After some time I turned out a reasonably impressive and herty breakfast that the Mr declared as ‘bloody perfect’. This is high praise indeed as he puts ‘breakfast’ in the top five of his List Of Important Things most days. Possibly top three.

So here it is, great for a lazy Saturday, packed with nutrients, low fat and high flavour and I don’t care what you think about the tortilla bit, it was all I had available. And it was really nice.

Boomboom Sortofshakshuka


sortofshakshuka, served on a toasted seedy tortilla

Serves Two, less than 500 calories per serving
4 free range eggs
1 white onion
4 vine ripened tomatoes
1 red bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
2 cups curly kale
Chilli flakes to taste (or 1/4 tsp cumin seeds)
1 tbspn Apple cider vinegar
Splash of tomato juice
2x seeded tortilla wraps
Salt and pepper and hot sauce to serve
Rapseed oil or cooking spray
0% fat Greek Yogurt (optional)

Heat the oven to 190 degrees.
Roughly chop the onions and fry in the rapseed oil or spray with the chilli flakes (or cumin seed to go traditionally Tunisian) for a few minutes until the onions start to soften. Add the tomatoes and chopped peppers and cook for another 5 minutes before adding the vinegar then cook for another minute. Finally add the kale and a splash of tomato juice and cook through until the kale is just starting to noticeably wilt. You don’t need a lot of tomato juice- literally just enough to moisten everything but not enough to make it a proper sauce.
Transfer this into an ovenproof dish that you rescued from your In Law’s kitchen clear out- the mix should fill the dish without being spread too thinly. Carefully crack your eggs directly on to the mix, season well with salt and black pepper then bake in the oven for about 20 minutes (check after 15 to avoid over cooking the eggs).

When the whites are opaque and the yolks cooked to your liking (I like them just on the verge of runny) take the dish out of the oven and set aside.

Heat a large, non stick frying pan on the hob and use this to toast your tortilla wrap for a minute on each side- they should be just starting to brown in parts but not stiffening up too much.

Line a plate with your toasted tortilla and spoon the veg and eggs on top, season well and serve with some good quality hot sauce and a dollop of fat free Greek yoghurt on the side just to really confuse things.

Variations- lose the wraps if you’re off the carbs or serve with sour dough toast instead. If you don’t like it spicy use the cumin or some garam masala instead. Green peppers instead of red and yellow will give a bit more bite to the mix and you could swap the kale or chard or even fresh spinach but in this case don’t cook the spinach through literally just stir it through the rest of the veg before the eggs go on.