Friday, 3 June 2016

Lily's Classic Tomato and Basil Sauce

I am yet to come across someone who doesn't love a bowl of spaghetti and freshly made tomato sauce...while we might often reach for the jar from the supermarket, I firmly believe that making your own is miles better not just in terms of its flavour and freshness, but also in saving a few pennies- this for example cost roughly €1.50 as opposed to a €3.50 pre-made jar. Click here to see my video of the beautiful fresh food market Marché Forville in Cannes, and how I like to make my tomato sauce!

-5 servings-

1 clove of garlic (grated)
1 teaspoon of dried oregano
1 teaspoon of dried basil
2 carrots (grated)
3 fresh tomatoes (roughly chopped)
1 jar of tomato passata (446ml roughly)
a handful of fresh basil
salt & pepper


Fry the garlic with a good glug of oil over a medium heat in a large frying pan with the dried herbs.

Stir for 2 minutes until it begins to smell wonderful, but watch it like a hawk to prevent it from burning!

Remember that you can always add a splash of water to cool the pan down.

Add the tomatoes and carrots and soften for 3 minutes.

Pour in the passata and 1/2 a jar of water.

Season with salt and pepper and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.

Blitz with the fresh basil until beautifully smooth and serve with spaghetti or rice for a perfectly simple weekday supper.

Marche Forville, Cannes

Marche Forville, Cannes

Flowers at the Marche Forville, South of France

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Monday, 4 April 2016

No Bake Granola Bars

I am writing this half tucked up in bed/ half hopping two steps across to the kitchen to check on a small saucepan of bubbling dates in my tiny 20 something m ²  apartment in Cannes (technically called a studio en français;). I love my tiny kitchen dearly but unfortunately my baking experiments in the microwave  haven't quite cut it...think black, as dark as charcoal black!  Anyhow, if anything, the lack of an oven pushes me to be more inventive and find alternatives through concocting granola bars such as these. Easy to make and perfect for a rushed morning, or a cheeky snack whenever you like.

Click on the video below to see me actually making them in my studio in Cannes...


1.5 mugs of oats
A pinch of salt
1 mug of sunflower seeds
1 mug of deglet noir dates cut into small chunks
2 mugs of boiling water
3 tablespoons of coconut oil
1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon


Dry-toast the oats, sunflower seeds and salt for 3 minutes in a large frying pan to intensify their flavours, and create interesting textures.

Soften the dates in the boiling water with the coconut oil and ground cinnamon for 15 minutes.

Combine everything together in a bowl.

Once cooled down, shape the mixture into a rectangular shape before refrigerating for 30 minutes to firm up and cut into generous squares!

Optional chocolate sauce

3 tablespoons of coconut oil
2 tablespoons of honey
1 tablespoon of cocoa powder


Melt all 3 ingredients together until you're left with a shiny and smooth sauce to pour over the granola bars.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

My Homemade Chicken Stock

Since moving to my new apartment in Cannes, I have sussed out all the local fresh food markets (of course!). So every weekend, I have the pleasure of practising my French whilst seeing all the beautiful colours that each season brings. Last Saturday was no exception…after a trip to the marche Gambetta, a walk across the road took me to the ‘boucherie marche’. I’d passed it a couple of times and had noticed a long line of customers. So I plucked up the courage to go inside where two elderly customers were already being served. The butcher was busy with a big order of ‘deux escalopes de poulet, des oeufs frais, steak, etc’ and then said ‘qui est apres?’ (Who is next?)

‘Moi!’ I said…

‘Alors, madame (!), qu’est que vous voulez?’ (So, Madame, what would you like?)

‘Je voudrais un poulet fermier’ (I would like a free-range chicken)

‘Cuit? (Cooked?)

‘Mais non, juste un poulet entier…comme celui-ci’ I said pointing to the bird I wanted ’s’il vous plait’ (Ah no, just a whole chicken…like this one)

A series of questions followed, some of which I didn’t quite understand…

Later on, long after I had returned from the butchers, with some trepidation, I opened up the package. 

It seems that my lack of French culinary/ boucherie vocabulary left me with the chicken’s heart and a wobbly neck…can you imagine my face!

In spite of the wobbly neck, I do really recommend buying the whole chicken and learning how to chop it all up. You will not only save money, but I find there is something rather rewarding about using up every last piece, in some way or another. 

At home, we occasionally make our own homemade stock, but it is my two grandparents, who make a homemade stock every week out of whichever meat they have…ham bone, chicken, ox tail, you name it! So that is why I dedicate this recipe to them today. 


1 whole chicken
1 red onion
8 garlic cloves (whole)
2 carrots (skin on)
any old herbs you have lying around…this week I used a large handful of fresh mint
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
salt and pepper


I like to begin by pulling up apart the chicken (sounds brutal I know!). So start by cutting the thighs away from the breasts, and place aside.

Then, using the backbone as a guide, carefully slice away the two breasts, leaving you with the carcass and the two wings.

Of course you can take off the wings as well, but once I’ve had enough cutting up the other pieces, I tend to just poach this meat with the carcass. 

Place the carcass (and wings) into a large pot. 

Fill with enough cold water to cover the bird and add in the onion, garlic cloves, carrots, herbs, ginger and a generous amount of salt and pepper. 

Pop on a lid, bring to the boil for 10 minutes, skimming off any froth. 

Bring down to a low simmer, and cook for about 25-30 minutes. 

Pour the stock into another large pot over a sieve, catching all the vegetables and carcass. 

Allow to cool and store in the fridge/freezer to use as a base for delicious soups, stews, bolognaises, anything you can think of!

Friday, 1 January 2016

A loaf for lunch: Lily's Dairy-Free Soda Bread

It is not unusual for me to spend the whole day at home in the kitchen, and today was no exception. I began the first day of the year by making banana pancakes...delish.  A few hours later, with a pot of soup bubbling away on the stove, I felt a loaf of homemade ought to be russled up! Don't assume that to make this loaf, you'll have to spend the whole day in your kitchen though. It should be ready within an hour. 

So here is my dairy-free take on the classic cris-crossed Irish soda bread. Instead of yeast acting as the rising agent, the combination of bicarbonate of soda and buttermilk cleverly pushes up the dough into a crispy, dense bread. Since I am allergic to dairy, buttermilk was no good for me. After a little internet research, adding either vinegar or lemon juice to the milk makes for a good substitute. If the process of making the bread isn't delightful enough, I always tend to feel quite proud after making this and sharing with my family. A good loaf and a pot of homemade soup to be shared with one another to begin the new year. That's what it's all about really, for me anyway. If you'd like to see how I make this, here's a video of me in the kitchen! 


170g of wholemeal spelt flour
170g of rye flour
a good pinch of salt
1/2 a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
290ml of rice milk/ dairy-free milk
1.5 tablespoons of lemon juice/ apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon of honey

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees Celsius. 

Begin by pouring the lemon juice into the rice milk, and let this sit for at least 5 minutes. 

Then mix together the two flours, salt and bicarbonate of soda. 

Pour in the honey into the milk mixture and add this to the bowl of dry ingredients. 

Bring everything together to form a dough, adding a little spelt flour if it's sticking to your hands.

Lightly knead and form into a ball. Place on a lined and lightly floured baking tray, softly flatten. 

Finally, make a cross in the dough and bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.