In need of some Christmas gift inspiration? Want something that looks and tastes like way more effort than is actually involved? Look no further than home made piccalilli. Your lucky recipient will think you’ve injected literally hours of love and care – the reality is an inexpensive crowdpleaser that once you’ve salted your veg, you can whip up in less than half an hour.

I absolutely cannot get enough of the stuff. I might even keep all these jars for myself.

The hardest bit is chopping and salting a small mountain of your favourite vegetables. As with most things, your own version is always going to be interplanetary light years away from anything you’ve bought from the shops. The best thing is, you can experiment with whatever combination of crunchy vegetables, variety of honey and flavoured vinegar you like (I’m currently waiting for a batch of stunningly vibrant beetroot, carrot and smoked garlic to develop). These take a good six weeks to mature, but I’ve had a sneaky taste the next day and still been pretty damn wowwed.


5 x 500ml kilner jars
1.5kg mixture of yr favourite crunchy veg chopped into bite-sized chunks  (I used 1 small cauliflower, 4 bulbs of garlic, 2 heads of broccoli, 3 small leeks, 1 red onion, 3 courgettes)
80g sea salt
60g rice flour
20g turmeric
20g mustard powder
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp  grated nutmeg
2 tsp. nigella seeds
2 tsp. cumin seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
2 tsp. coriander seeds, toasted and lightly crushed
1 tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
500ml cider vinegar
500ml red wine vinegar
300g caster sugar
100g honey
  • sterilise your jars by rinsing well in hot soapy water and then drying in the oven at 180C for 20 minutes.
  • toss the vegetables thoroughly in the salt and leave in the fridge overnight in a colander with a bowl underneath.
  • The next day, mix the rice flour, turmeric, mustard powder, mustard seeds, nutmeg, nigella, cumin and coriander together in a bowl. Mix the vinegars together and add enough to the turmeric mixture to form a runny paste. Stir in the fresh ginger.
  • Heat the sugar, honey and remaining vinegar in a saucepan and bring to the boil. You might want to open a window at this point.
  • Scrape in the turmeric mixture and boil for about 5 minutes.Stir well.
  • Fold the hot vinegar mixture into the vegetables and load up the hot jars. Leave for 6 weeks. (If you can)

ooh get me!

I’ve been featured in this month’s Red magazine (page 116 to be exact) along with the lovely Esther from Recipe Rifle (check out her frankly brilliant blog  here) in an article on the things we’ve inherited from our dear old mums.  There’s also an interview with everybody’s favourite chef Allegra McEvedy and Margot Henderson has some cracking laid back recipes. Plus an interview with Sam Riley. Oh, and there’s also a piece on where to go if you fancy a holiday in Vietnam that involves both pampering and a cookery course. Erm, hell to the yes. All excellent reasons to nip down to the newsagents quick sharp.

health nut balls

There’s a special place in my kitchen cupboard dedicated to all those crazy life-enhancing ‘restorative’ health foods I’ve purchased in a guilty haze after overdoing it or when I’m feeling under the weather. Zip lock bags of spirulina powder, maca powder, wheatgrass and wheatgerm all shoved to the back ready and waiting to anoint a bowl of porridge or salad. Endlessly waiting because of course, this is something I never, ever do.

Back in the day when I had actual time and evenings I could call my own, I would sometimes attend hot yoga classes where they would sell these little balls made of spirulina, ginseng, raw cacao and all manner of other crazy ‘superfoods’, for an extortionate amount of money. Full of ‘healthy’ protein, they’re supposed to be the perfect energy bombs in portable snack form. I’m not sure how good for you spirulina and maca powder really are, I know they’ve been called ‘superfood superheroes’ but personally, I don’t really buy into the whole superfoods thing. I just remember them tasting incredibly delicious.
Desperate to decimate the junk in my cupboards, I wondered how hard it might be to make my own. Not hard at all as it turns out. Don’t worry if you don’t have all of these ingredients, the key thing is to bind your oats and powders with the apple juice, so use whatever you have lurking around. Muesli and almond butter rolled in flakes of dried coconut is another delicious combination (in retrospect I wish I’d left the wheatgrass out as it truly is disgusting stuff). These handy little balls are the ideal thing for stashing in your bag and quelling those on the go late-afternoon munchies, perfect for us busy types who don’t always want to nibble on rubbish.
makes 8 balls


2 tbsp.oats
2 tbsp. wheatgerm
2 tbsp. spriulina powder
2 tbsp. wheatgrass powder

2 tbsp. maca powder

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp. vanilla extract

100ml apple juice
3 tbsp. peanut butter

1 tbsp. honey

6 tbsp. tbsp. toasted sesame seeds


  • In a mixing bowl, combine the oats, wheatgerm, spirulina powder, maca powder and wheatgrass powder. Add the salt and sprinkle over the vanilla extract.
  • Mash in the peanut butter and honey and gradually drip in the apple juice until you’re left with a soft, slightly sticky play-doh like dough.
  • Adjust the salt and honey to taste.
  •  Using a scrap of cling film shape tablespoonfuls of the mixture into balls and dip in the sesame seeds
  • Leave in the fridge for an hour or so to set before wrapping in cling film ready for the next time you need to snack on something insanely healthy.


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