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Supper-Club Round Up and Recipes


On a beautiful evening in early August, we were delighted to welcome a select group of diners to our inaugural supper club held at the Bandstand Beds garden which has been mentioned in previous posts on this blog. Seventeen diners joined us for an evening of freshly cooked seasonal vegetarian dishes sourced from the garden itself and from the surrounding area of the common helping to raise funds for Bandstand Beds campaign to create better access to the fast growing plot aiming to further their skills sharing mission statement.

The evening was immensely enjoyable for all and sundry and managed to raise £425 for the project – a significant contribution to the £5,000 target. However, there is still a significant way to go before we have the full sum to get work under way so please don’t feel shy and donate to this very worthy cause that will allow more people to learn from this fantastic skills sharing project.

As ever, we have a little something to wet your appetite with two of our recipes from the evening: ‘Persian’ Ratatouille and Great Grandma’s Welsh Cakes (which were served with a delicious compote foraged from Clapham Common’s fruit trees). Both of these were a hit; so simple to do at home and make for an ideal weekend treat. Adapted recipes for your convenience and enjoyment.




‘Persian’ Ratatouille (serves 4 with rice)

Only ‘Persian’ in the loosest of terms with the addition of saffron and currants adding an extra dimension to a traditional staple of French home cooking. On the day we served this with Thadig, a method of cooking rice common to many areas in the Middle-East and beyond but it would also be equally well accompanied by boiled basmati.


1 tbsp olive oil

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 white onion, finely chopped

1 can chopped tomatoes

1 pinch saffron

1 handful of currants

Sliced vegetable, including: red onions; pattipans; courgettes; squash; tromboncini (so long as you have enough to create the circular layered pattern pictured, roughly one of each of these vegetable and 2 of the red onions)

Salt and pepper to season

To serve:

Chopped coriander

Toasted flaked almonds

Preheat your oven to 200C.

Take an ovenproof sauté pan, frying the crushed garlic and chopped white onion in some olive oil over a medium heat. Once they have become soft and appear glassy, add the tomatoes, saffron and currants and allow the sauce to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring to allow the saffron and the sweetness of the currants to infuse into the sauce. Take care that the sauce doesn’t burn, stirring at regular intervals to ensure that the base for your ratatouille doesn’t catch.

Season the sauce to taste and remove from the heat. Ensuring that the sauce is evenly distributed around the base of the pan, begin placing the sliced vegetable around the edges of the pan in a circular pattern so that they stand upright and create a stacked effect – this will allow the vegetable to cook and their exposed edges to crisp and caramelise for additional flavour once in the oven. When the pan is full, place in the oven for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are crisp on the top but cooked in the middle.

Serve with a handful of chopped coriander and toasted flaked almonds.

Great-Grandma’s Welsh Cakes (makes about 18)

A long time favourite, Welsh Cakes have been given a make-over in recents years, with recipes being circulated by renowned food writers and even being stocked on the shelves of Marks & Spencer. However, none are quite so good as this recipe passed down from my great-grandmother, born in lovely Rhondda Fach.


450g self-raising flour
170g butter
155g granulated sugar
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of cinnamon
A handful of currants or sultanas
2 medium eggs
Caster sugar for sprinkling over once cooked
Take a large mixing bowl and the dry ingredients (minus the currants) and combine by hand. Once all the ingredients equally distributed, rub in the butter to create a fine bread crumb like texture to the mix. Add the currants and eggs and mix to a stiff dough. Once thoroughly combined, rap in clingfilm and place in the fridge for 30-45 minutes to allow to stiffen.
Once chilled, roll out the mixture on to a lightly floured surface to a thickness of 1cm (you may have to cut the dough in half to fit it onto you counter) and use cookie cutters to create perfectly round welsh cakes. Stack your Welsh Cakes on top of each other adding flour between each one to make sure they don’t stick together if necessary.
Take a heavy non-stick frying pan, or a traditional bake stone if you are lucky enough to own one, and place over a medium heat. Place a small amount of butter in the pan, ensuring a thorough coating before wiping away any excess with a paper towel to minimise the likelihood of ‘dodgy first batch’ syndrome.
Place the Welsh Cakes in the pan in batches of four or five at a time and griddle for approximately 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Once cooked they should still appear to have a thin line of moist dough still running through the middle but not be completely raw inside. Once out of the pan scatter with caster sugar and allow to cool while moving onto the next batch.
Repeat till all the dough has been used up and enjoy still warm with a well earned cup of Glengettie tea or save for later.

The Common Cooks: London Food Month

IMG_5292On 17th June, howell and harte teamed up with Cactus Kitchens and Bandstand Beds on Clapham Common to present a unique event for London Food Month, cooking some delicious recipes made from ultra-locally sourced ingredients with barely minutes from plot-to-pan. It has been a privilege to be involved in the inaugural series of month long food events run by The Evening Standard which foodies from the capital and beyond hope will become an annual occurrence.


As long term volunteers involved in the building of the Bandstand Beds kitchen it was a delight to launch the kitchen container and share a sunny day with Clapham-based cookery school and home of Saturday Kitchen Live, Cactus Kitchen who joined us on the day to teach all attendees some valuable knife skills, helping chop some of the ingredients which we diligently cooked, serving up a hearty lunch of salad, Butternut Squash and Cavolo Nero Daal and Risotto Verde. As ever, recipes below including the incredibly versatile topping of tobacco onions – handy for adding an crunchy and sinful extra dimension to all your meals from curries to juices steaks.

If you like our recipes (or even just the pictures) we will also be running our first supper club on the 5th August which you can book tickets for via Eventbrite – all donations will go towards the funding of disabled access for Bandstand Beds. Delicious food and a very worthy cause – could their be a better way to spend a Saturday night?



Sicily: Deserti

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Bringing our reminiscences to a close, this is the finale to our Sicilian posts. And what better way to end than on a delightfully easy but utterly delicious soufflé? We appreciate that it’s not a technically Italian and that that word sometimes strikes terror into the hearts of the boldest cook but bare with us.

This recipe was inspired by discovering pistachio spread (think Nutella but a white-chocolate pistachio flavoured version) in a local supermarket when we were staying in the villa we had rented. We had originally planned on saving it to make this recipe but ended up eating it with a spoon instead – and we don’t even feel slightly guilty!

This recipe tries to capture the flavours of the desserts we had when we visited that beautiful island and we hope it does them justice. We made this as at Easter and it was a fitting end to our feast but it would also make a lovely dessert for any occasion or just a summer evening. Enjoy and make sure to look out for the recipes from our event with Cactus Kitchens which will be posted shortly!

Pistachio Soufflé

Serves 6 (in medium-sized ramekins)


20g melted butter

70g ground pistachios

4 tbsps double cream

2 tbsps icing sugar

2 eggs, separated into yolks and whites

1/2 tsp almond essence

20g Caster Sugar, with extra to coat the inside of the ramekins

Extra icing sugar and ground pistachios to serve


Pre-heat the oven to 220C. Take your six ramekins and brush the inside with melted butter before scattering with spare caster sugar. Place in the fridge to cool till needed.

To make the pistachio paste add the cream, ground pistachios and icing sugar to a small saucepan and mix over a low heat for 1-2 minutes or until the mixture starts to heat through but not bubble. Add the egg yolks and almond essence to the mixture and mix swiftly – if left too long to heat through or if the saucepan/mixture is too hot you could end up with a sweet, nutty, omeletty-mess. Once combined, set aside to cool.

Take a large mixing bowl, add the egg whites and beat until they are stiff and peaks hold their shape. Once the whites are at this stage, beat in the caster sugar – this helps to maintain the foamy structure and stops the mixture becoming a soup. Once this is done you can begin to add the pistachio paste 1-2 serving spoons at a time, folding it gently into the mix ensuring that the two mixtures are combined. It is important to use a slim metal spoon here, as a wooden spoon will knock all of the air out of the whites you have just worked so hard to fluff up.

When combined, spoon the mixture into the cool ramekins filling them to just below the brim. Place your soufflés in the oven and turn the temperature down to 200C. Bake for 10 minutes. Once they have risen 1-2cm serve as quickly as possible with a light dusting of icing sugar and left over ground pistachio.



Sicily: Primi

*It has been a long time since our last post and with one new job and one new house it seemed about time to add a new post to the list too. As it is that time of year again we thought we would do a retrospective on our summer travels from 2016 (check out our instagram feed for pics).*

Don Corleone, A View from the Bridge, The Leopard: that would have been the total sum of my knowledge and experience of Sicily. Yet so much has been written about this wonderful island, the football to Italy’s high-heeled boot. More importantly, all of it is true. Sleepily defying any accusations of hyperbole you happily drive past swathes of olive trees, an incredible vineyard selling their produce by the gallon at the end of the street and Etna smouldering gently (or fiercely) above you.

As with all Italian holidays (and we’ve had a few now), it always comes back to the food. Sicily was never going to be a disappointment and we had some amazing meals, be that slow-cooked donkey in central Catania (sorry Charlie and Libby but they were very tasty) or making our own attempts at a few classics. Here is small plate recipe for you to try out, be that with friends in the warmer weather or to give you some inspiration before you go booking those flights for this year’s adventure.

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A shot of our own dinner which generally ended up being big affairs. Never get a shop thinking it will last you a few days – you’ll be lucky to get through the evening and have enough in the fridge for breakfast.

Traditionally the zenith of Italian ‘leftover’ cuisine, shelves of golden orbs are to be seen everywhere in Sicily and the rest of Italy, and who can blame them? Bitting into the crisp skin of an arancino al ragu with its pointed tip making it look like a fried teardrop is all persuasion anyone will need to start applying for Italian citizenship!

Meaning ‘little oranges’, arancini have a number of local variants. The teardrop shape is apparently far more of a Sicilian phenomenon while elsewhere they tend to broadly resemble their namesakes.

While we say this is a ‘leftover’ dish, we started making these with the soul aim of producing arancini. In the Italian food bible, The Silver Spoon, the recipe for ‘Arancini alla Siciliana’ equally makes no mention of using up what risotto has been left behind – it is a dish of the highest calibre in its own right. You are welcome to make the risotto on its own but whatever you do you won’t regret it!

Makes 16

For the risotto:

1 white onion, diced
1tbsp olive oil
1tbsp butter
50g oyster mushrooms (or chestnut mushroom if unavailable)
500g black risotto rice
300ml white wine
300ml stock
2 generous pinches of salt
25g parmesan, grated

For the arancini:

4 medium sized eggs
1 ball of mozzarella, in 1cm cubes
1ltr sunflower oil
100g fine bread crumbs

To make the risotto, in medium sized saucepan sauté the onions with the butter and olive oil until glassy. Chop the mushrooms finely before adding to the onions to soften. Once they have softened add the rice to the pan and stir to ensure that it is fully combined with the onions and mushrooms and get a beautifully rich coating of butter and olive oil.

Add the stock, white wine and salt to the saucepan and lower the heat to a simmer. Leave on this heat for 20 minutes or until the rice is soft and all the liquid absorbed. This is where you may need to muster all your patience and culinary judgement to make sure that the mixture is firm and not too wet but not underdone either. The answer is simply to taste the risotto as you go along, checking seasoning and adding any salt and pepper if required.

Once the risotto is cooked, stir in the parmesan and set aside to cool. You can leave this for a couple hours or even over night to help it dry out a little further. (If you want to have risotto on its own at this point, go grab yourself a plate and seize the moment – it would be a shame to let fresh risotto go to waste even if it is for a higher cause!)

To make the arancini, place the risotto mixture in a bowl with 2 of the eggs broken in and combine (this is to help the mixture stick together when placed in the hot oil). To make the balls themselves take a small amount in your hand and flatten it out, placing a cube of mozzarella in the centre. Compress the rice around the mozzarella to form as close to a sphere as you can get – you may need a little more rice to help complete the shape of the arancini. Repeat till you have used up all the rice.

Place the arancini on a plate and cool for 15 minutes in the freezer. With 5 minutes remaining, pour the oil into a saucepan deep enough to cover the arancini and place on a high heat. At this point you should also whisk the two remaining eggs in a bowl. You will also need to have the breadcrumbs ready in a bowl. When you remove the arancini, dip in the eggs followed by the breadcrumbs and plop straight into the now hot oil (you will probably have to do this in batches – we did ours only 5 at a time). Deep fry for 5 minutes before removing and placing on some kitchen towel to catch any excess oil. Serve immediately or as soon as they are cool enough to shovel them into your watering mouths.




FroYo Challenge – The Latest Flavours

IMG_1357Ice-cream. No sooner say those magically hyphenated words then the rich tapestry of childhood, pregnant with schottenfreude, emerges: the first creamy taste of proper strawberry ice-cream;  tubs of neapolitan from Walls; the anguished tears as each scoop fell out of the cone onto the floor. Who would ever trade those memories?

God knows when our first taste of gelato was, but my goodness haven’t we felt grateful this week? After the temperature climbed above 30C for the first time this year howell and harte have certainly felt like melting more than once.

Some of you out there have been following our posts on Instagram this week and now we are happy to publish our recipes for one of our most delicious experimenting sessions. The idea has been to produce recipes that require the minimum of fuss for a hot day when all you want to do is sit by the fan in a cool dark space and hope it all stops. Also, as most mere mortals do not own an ice-cream maker, these are handmade recipes – all you’ll need is a blender but a bit of elbow grease and a fork should suffice if you haven’t made that special purchase yet.



Sumac and cinnamon raspberry frozen yoghurt

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160g Raspberries

1tbsp honey

2tsp sumac

1tsp cinnamon

250g yoghurt

250g condensed milk

To make the coulis, place the raspberries and honey in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Cook down until liquid and reduce to half the coulis’s original quantity. Add the sumac and set aside to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, yoghurt and cinnamon and whip until thoroughly combined. Add the cool coulis and whip again until fully combined.

Place in a freezable container and place in your freezer for 6 hours. To ensure that you don’t get crystals forming in the frozen yoghurt churn the mixture every 2 hours (you can still serve it as a semifredo if after 6 hours it still has crystals in).

To serve, leave out for 10 minutes and scoop into small bowls.

Avocado, mint and hazelnut frozen yoghurt

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100g hazelnuts

1 large avocado

500g yoghurt

2 tbsp honey

2 sprigs of mint

Toast the hazelnuts under a grill set at 200c until they are golden brown (as soon as you can smell them they should be ready, which should take about 5 minutes). Set aside till they are cool.

Place the yoghurt, avocado and honey in a food processor and blend until thick and creamy. Add two sprigs of mint to the mix and blend again.

Place the yogurt mix into a freezable container. Scatter the hazelnuts on top and combine into the mix.

Place in a freezable container and place in your freezer for 6 hours. To ensure that you don’t get crystals forming in the frozen yoghurt churn the mixture every 2 hours (you can still serve it as a semifredo if after 6 hours it still has crystals in).

To serve, leave out for 10 minutes and scoop into small bowls.

Sesame and honey caramel frozen yoghurt

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500g yoghurt

1 1/2 tbsp sesame seeds

1 1/2 tbsp honey

Toast the sesame seeds under the grill set at 200C until golden brown (again, as soon as you can smell them they should be ready, which should take about 5 minutes). Leave to cool on a plate.

Once cool, combine the yoghurt, sesame seeds and honey in a large bowl.

Place in a freezable container and place in your freezer for 6 hours. To ensure that you don’t get crystals forming in the frozen yoghurt churn the mixture every 2 hours (you can still serve it as a semifredo if after 6 hours it still has crystals in).

To serve, leave out for 10 minutes and scoop into small bowls.


Sweetcorn Crepes with bacon, cream cheese and spinach

Mardi Gras, Fastnacht, Vastenavond, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day – call it what you will but there are few among us who don’t look forward to this day. Sadly, we can’t offer you some of the more exotic ways of celebrating this day; we can’t be there in the morning to cook a steaming pile of fresh pancakes either. We can offer you our recipes for a savoury pancake recipe to either set you up for the day (if you have that kind of time in the morning) or a light dinner for when you get home.

You should also check out and share our video of how we made the recipe on all forms of social media.




Sweetcorn crepes with bacon, spinach and cream cheese


200g plain flour

600ml semi-skimmed milk

4 eggs

5g salt


240g sweetcorn

100g spinach

16 rashers of bacon

160g cream cheese

5g butter

To make the batter, measure the flour and place in a large mixing bowl. Add and mix in the salt, before adding the four eggs. Beat the mix together with a whisk. Once thoroughly blended and smooth begin to add the milk bit by bit. Continue until all the milk is combined and you have a smooth batter.

Cook the bacon in a griddle pan or under the grill. Taking a non stick pan, place on a medium to high heat and add just enough butter to coat the pan and to ensure the batter won’t stick. Scatter a small handful of sweetcorn across the pan, making sure it is evenly distributed. Pour over a ladle of batter and cook until the batter looks firm and any ‘air-holes’ are set. Use a plastic spatula to scrape along the edges of the pancake before working underneath to make sure it is loose. Once you are ready flip it and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Place the pancake on to a warm plate and dress with cream cheese. Place bacon on top and scatter spinach over the dish. You can finish with a grate of pepper or parmesan to taste.

5 Essentials – Spices

Our aim is to get everyone eating delicious, well-cooked food cheaply; not exactly easy when you require an enormous range of spices to bring a zing to your dishes in the cold winter months (or a big fan of Yotam Ottolenghi). We’ve thought about the 5 essentials you need for your dishes but also where you should go to buy them. Our three top tips when it comes to spices are:

Not as glamorous as the markets of Morocco but just as cheap

– Go to local markets and ‘ethnic’ grocers to buy spices instead of supermarkets. We would be bankrupt if it wasn’t for Aziz Cash and Carry on Electric Avenue in Brixton.
– Buy in bulk when you can so long as you can store it. Old jam jars are ideal and if you start to expand your range of spices this will be obligatory for the more obscure things you use.
– Buy a pestle and mortar: there is no point to buying two set of the same spice – just grind one up yourself and you have saved space and (most importantly) money.

Cumin seed

Mexican or Indian – there could not be a clearer front runner for the first essential spice on our list. Buying cumin in seed form allows you the most flexibility when cooking. You can bash it up in your pestle and mortar or fry it off with onions to add some tang to a daal. Equally important for middle eastern recipes as well, you dare not be without this somewhere in your kitchen.

Ground Ginger
Great as a good alternative to fall back on when you have none fresh in the house, ground ginger is also good for adding to dishes that would otherwise be a little bland and you want to spread a little warmth throughout. We’ve added them to canned tuna fish cakes with salad and a little sweet chilli sauce to brighten up dinner.

Coriander seed
We add so much coriander to our cooking as a herb but sometimes neglect the seeds as well which also serve to perk up your cooking with a fresh flavour. Ground in a pestle and mortar it brightens a chilli no end along with lime and chopped coriander. You can also lightly crush the seeds to rub into chicken and pork to be grilled for a quick dinner with a little extra flavour.

Chilli powder
Possibly the biggest essential of all, yet there are so many varieties it’s hard to choose what one to go for. From your concentrated extract of scotch bonnet to the sweetest, most inoffensive variety, all chilli powders have their own qualities and flavours. As an essential though, the old motto applies: ‘If you can’t stand the heat, get out the kitchen.’

Paprika is made from the dried fruits of the chilli family so can often have the same qualities as chilli but often has a lot more depth and a certain smokiness, because of this it is used more to season dished rather giving them a kick.  One of the highest naturally occurring sources of vitamin C, we often use paprika in salads dressings. Try with a little virgin olive oil or unrefined sunflower oil over the top of some halloumi and rocket leaves – ideal for a summer lunch with crusty bread and gazpacho.

All prices taken from Aziz Cash and Carry on Electric Avenue, Brixton, SW9

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