Friday, 31 August 2012

Light Bar: I just keep going back for more...

A short walk from Spitalfields Market, Light Bar has one of the best outdoor areas in East London: its large beer garden is a veritable sun-trap, filled with picnic tables and shielded from Shoreditch High Street by high walls decorated with imaginative graffiti-art murals.

I've spent a lot of time at Light Bar this summer. My first visit  was entirely unplanned: meeting with a couple of friends for a coffee one Sunday afternoon, we were dazzled by a rare bit of sunshine and decided that drinks would be more appropriate! We spent a good few hours there, lazing in the sun with a bottle (or two) of prosecco, and soaking up the lively atmosphere - despite being a Sunday, Light Bar was buzzing with flocks of people drawn outside by the brief spell of good weather at the end of yet another wet weekend. We were squeezed in somewhat tightly, but our 'neighbours' were friendly enough (and even swapped us a few nachos in exchange for a napkin or two!)

Since then, I have been back three times in fairly quick succession - the Shoreditch location makes Light Bar an ideal spot both for after-work drinks and as a starting point on a Saturday night, and the atmosphere is always good.

On my most recent visit, a friend of mine had booked two of the large picnic tables for her birthday and a big group of us sat outside drinking round after round of the reasonably priced prosecco (£22 is very good value given how tasty it is....but it does seem to give the worst hangovers!)

I'm sad that, with summer drawing to a close, I may not get the chance to come here quite as often...although the cool indoor area does means that Light Bar still has a lot to offer even on days when the weather conditions are not quite so clement.

The Light Restaurant & Bar on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Il Baretto and Purl

The other week my boyfriend and I met up with some work friends of his for dinner at Il Baretto, a smart Italian restaurant on Blandford Street in Marylebone.

At first glance, the restaurant appears to be very small: the street level is home only to a snug-but-sultry bar; decked out with a fancy chandelier and plenty of polished black surfaces, but showing no signs of being somewhere you could hope to get a hearty meal. However, step down the flight of stairs in the corner and you find yourself in an expansive basement dining area...

Time for a quick drink in the bar before everyone arrived...

Our long table was set back into a slight enclave in the wall, which provided a pleasant sense of privacy without making us feel too excluded from the rest of the diners, and the service was efficient and friendly.

To begin, we chose a variety of antipasti and starters which we shared between us. Creamy burrata, served with wide ribbons of shaved courgette, was excellent; while the parma ham with melon, sliced into the same delicate strands as the zucchini, was a lovely take on the classic ham and melon starter. We also had octopus salad (tender pieces of octopus mingled with sweet cherry tomatoes, potatoes and crunchy celery), and a plate of enormous oven-baked scallops, served in their shells. And alongside all of this, a very varied bread basket containing crispy discs of flat-bread, bread sticks and doughy squares of focaccia.

We each ordered our own main, along with a pizza for the middle of the table (so that we could all have a taste). I went for the spicy roast poussin, which was excellent - not too spicy, with a flavourful, cripsy skin and moist flesh, it paired perfectly with asparagus I ordered on the side. My boyfriend opted for the pan-fried monkfish, which was delicious in its 'Mediterranean sauce'. And (pretty full from all the antipasti at this point) the miniscule sliver of the pizza I managed to squeeze in was very good too: thin-based, topped with a lovely fresh-tasting tomato sauce and big melting globs of creamy fiordilatte mozzarella.

To finish we ordered the "dessert duluxe", a gluttonous assortment of Il Baretto's best sweet dishes. This arrived on a long white platter decorated prettily with clusters of berries, and included a sumptuously gooey chocolate fondant pudding, a colouful fruit salad, tiramisu (served in a little coffee cup), and pastry swirls filled with creme anglaise. As well as being beautifully presented,  it was a lovely and very social way to enjoy dessert (and it was nice to get a little taste of everything!).

We drank some fantastic wine that evening, although I'm not sure whether this was a function of an excellent wine list or if it had more to do with the selection skills of my boyfriend's wine-buff colleague, who kept us topped up with a variety of full-bodied reds and (later) with some gorgeous dessert wine.

After coffee and the (aforementioned) excellent dessert wine, we headed over the road to Purl. Marleybone is a great place to go for  drinks, but while there are plenty of trendy bars in the area, Purl is definitely one of the coolest.

They are really strict about the number of people they let in and the venue is pleasantly subdued: Purl is not a place to go for a rave, but rather for good conversation and innovative cocktails, to be enjoyed on the comfortable sofas hidden away in little enclaves throughout the bar.

Purl serves 'proper' cocktails, which sadly meant that I didn't really like them (I'm more of a raspberry mojito girl myself, much to my shame).  I chose the Ketel One Nitrizzle (described as "ketel one swizzled with triple sec, white tea, mandarin bitters, lemon and Nitro Smashed fruit") and found it too strong to be truly enjoyable. The same was true for the friend who ordered the Jewish Champagne ("Bombay sapphire, pineapple, and Purl's flaming Celery Tonic"): it was served in style, with the drink burning impressively in the dimly lit room, but the overwhelming flavours of gin and celery made for slow drinking...

Still, it was all pretty cool - the atmosphere was amazing, we could hear each other speak, the service was great, and the drinks were presented with ganache (for example the Cinder Whisky Old Fashioned, for four to share, arrived in a glass barrel and dripped from four silver taps to seep through the slabs of "burnt toffee honeycomb" suspended above each individual glass). And really, if you do like your drinks strong, this is a great place to come.

Square MealIl Baretto on Urbanspoon

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The Breakfast Club and Columbia Road Flower Market

Last weekend I went for a girly brunch at The Breakfast Club in Hoxton Square. This has to be my favourite branch of the well-loved London establishment - while there's still a queue of hungry would-be brunchers snaking out into the road, inside the venue it's spacious and bright, with plenty of room to sit and have a leisurely catch-up over the fantastic food.

The interior is Hoxton-cool, with song lyrics above the diner-style serving counter, colourful SMEG fridges (one of which apparently shields a hidden staircase to a speak-easy bar below), and the "world's smallest disco" in the toilets*. 

First, let's talk about drinks: for the sensible bruncher (or for those who are "never drinking again") there is a decent list of hot and cold drinks - tea, coffee, juices, milkshakes, and plenty of fruity smoothies. And, for the more hard-core drinkers there are brunch-time cocktails...

A morning mojito...

Bloody Mary, a brunch-time classic

As one would expect, The Breakfast Club has a long and varied brunch menu, and the four of us all opted for something different. Smoked salmon scrambled eggs consisted of tasty scrambled eggs topped with an almost over-generous helping of salmon, served on granary toast with a salad on the side.

Eggs Royale looked delicious, although the portion size was maybe less epic than some of the other dishes. Perfectly poached eggs sat atop doughy English muffins, with another decent helping of salmon and a rich drizzling of buttery hollandaise.

American pancakes with bacon and maple syrup was the most impressive-looking dish: a huge tangle of crispy bacon strips, balanced precariously on top of four thick pancakes (much denser than the usual American pancakes, it's definitely a challenge to finish all four!). A big squeezy bottle of maple syrup and a dusting of icing sugar completed the sweet-savoury combo.

I ordered the "Half Monty" breakfast, which consisted of a (very tasty)sausage, more of that fantastic bacon, eggs any way (I went for scrambled), beans, and two little triangles of toast. It was all very good, although I was disappointed with my 'normal' toast - last time I came my meal was served with doughy, almost panini-like slices of griddle-marked bread, which was delicious.

We lingered for a long time over our brunch: the portions are big here, and we spent a good while langurously picking at the remnants of the meal before finally giving up (half a sausage, a few sad bits of toast, and some remnants of salmon defeated us...).After calling it quits on the food, we downed the rest of our (alcoholic/caffeinated) drinks and wandered East to the lovely Columbia Road Flower Market (open every Sunday from 8am to 3pm).

I'm ashamed to admit that I'd never been before, despite living in this area for two years now. The whole street was taken over by flower stalls, overflowing with beautiful, ridiculously cheap flowers: enormous bunches of hydrangeas, clusters of vibrant sunflowers, armfuls of gorgeous red roses (only £5!!). With the cockney stall holders cheerfully hawking their wares, it was noisy and colourful and fun, and if I hadn't had been cycling home I would have filled my flat to the brim with flowers. Next time....!

On either side of the market the road is lined with rows of brightly-painted shops, selling antiques, cakes, clothes, jewellery, art... There's an old-fashioned sweet shop, a 1950s-style hair and nail salon, and people playing instruments and singing on street corners. All in all,  a really lovely place to spend an afternoon: perfect for picking up some gifts (or flowers), or for simply browsing through and soaking up the incredible atmosphere.

Square MealBreakfast Club on Urbanspoon

*with a tiny disco-ball, and cubicles papered with children's wallpaper featuring comic book heroes or twee fairytale characters, a trip to the loo has never been so fun...

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Brunch at Nopi: A post for the Booktable blog

I went to Nopi for a friend's birthday brunch a few weeks ago, and had a lovely time: with delicious food and stylish decor, Nopi very much lives up to the sky-high standard set by the other members of the Ottolenghi 'family'.

As a new contributing blogger for, I've written about it here:

I definitely hope I get the chance to return for dinner soon!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Brunch in Balham: Tartine Artisanal

A few weekends ago (slow write-up, I know!) I headed south to Balham to meet a group of friends for a leisurely Sunday brunch. While I've often cycled through Balham on the Cycle Superhighway 7* on my way to visit my grandfather in Wimbledon, I've never stopped there before, so it was nice to get a chance to explore a new area. We headed to Tartine Artisanal - a pleasant cafe just a few minutes stroll from Balham Underground Station.

It wasn't too busy, and despite being in a large group we were seated straight away, on a long table in the chilled-out downstairs room. The relaxed, scruffy-chic decor and comfy leather sofas made it the perfect place for whiling away a rainy Sunday morning, and there was plenty of place to spread out and make ourselves at home.

The brunch menu was good, offering all the usual dishes - full English, Eggs Benedict, pastries - along with some more interesting options such as Croque Monsieur/Madame, as well as a fantastic selection of milkshakes and smoothies (with names like "Mandarin Pleasure" and "Raspberry Heaven", who could resist?)

I went for the Tartine Full Breakfast - bacon, eggs (I went for poached), grilled tomatoes, sauteed potatoes and button mushrooms. I have to say, I wasn't overly impressed with my choice: the poached eggs were especially bad - rubbery, with an over-powering vinegar flavour and a solidified yolk (so nothing for dipping....sad, sad, sad). The rest was OK, but the portion size was fairly small and there wasn't quite enough food to satisfy me or my fellow 'full breakfaster', somewhat defeating the point of a fry-up breakfast.

However, despite my disappointing experience, some of the other options did look really good.
The eggs royale came with a thick layer of salmon, plenty of buttery hollandaise and a generous helping of chips. In fact, this usually 'light' brunch option turned out to be a lot more substantial than the full English!

The winner however, was definitely the Croque Madame: served with salad or fries (fries being the obviously choice for a morning-after brunch), this was a good-sized dish (my friend came no-where close to finishing, so the remainder was passed the benefit of the rest of us!).

With fried egg (runny yolk, just as it should be!), oozey-gooey layers of melted cheese and tasty ham on perfectly crunchy toast (avoiding the icky sogginess you often get with toasted sandwiches...especially when you're scavenging them off your friend's plate at the end of a long meal!), this had everything you could wish for - if I ever go back here, I know what I'll be ordering!

Tartine Artisanal Balham on Urbanspoon

*In my opinion, the best way to get from North to South London: it only takes me slightly longer to cycle from Angel to South Wimbledon (with the Cycle Superhighway running from the City all the way to Colliers Wood) than it does on the tube, and makes for a significantly more interesting journey -not to mention a good work-out!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Amazing ham and mozarella omelette

This is a great option on those nights where you can't face cooking anything too complicated, but still want something hearty and delicious for your dinner.

The mozarella topping, golden and bubbling after a spell under the grill, makes this omelette almost pizza-esque (although I'd like to think that it's a lot healthier!), while the smoked ham gives it a fantastic flavour. And the best thing? It takes less than 10 minutes to cook.

Ingredients (per person):

4 eggs
Splash milk
Butter (for frying)
1/2 pack smoked ham, diced
100g ball cow's milk mozarella*, diced

Crack eggs into a bowl, add the milk, and whisk. Heat the butter in a large frying pan, and once sizzling, pour in the egg mixture.

Sprinkle the chopped ham on top, give the semi-solid omelette a little mix**, then place the mozarella pieces (evenly) over the omelette's surface.

Place the pan under a hot grill (with the handle poking well out of the door, unless you want to get burnt pulling it out!) until the mozarella cheese is golden and bubbly.

Serve with a size salad and (if you want it to be extra pizza-y) some marinara sauce on the side.

*I am normally a total buffalo mozarella snob, but the cow's milk version really does work better here as it is less 'wet'
**My trick: lift the edges of the omelette with a spatula and tilt the pan to allow any remaining liquid to come into contact with the hot pan

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

BBQ time: Red Dog Saloon

Situated on trendy Hoxton Square, Red Dog Saloon specialises in US cuisine, with BBQ meat, burgers and wings featuring prominently on its menu. In keeping with the American theme, they also offer customers the chance to compete in one of their Man versus Food style eating challenges: "The Hot Wings Challenge" or "The Devastator Challenge". Basically, if you manage to consume either six super spicy hot wings or an enormous Devastator burger, fries and extra-thick milkshake in under 10 minutes, you earn a place on their wall of fame, and a free t-shirt (but apparently you still have to pay for the meal, which seems somehow disappointing).

The light installation says "The weather yesterday". Who knows why...

I came here with my dad, boyfriend, and two of my brothers, and after a brief but somewhat awkward period of lounging in the sun on the grassy lawn at the centre of Hoxton Square (awkward because we were, for the main part, suited up, unlike to oh-so-hip(ster) crowd who surrounded us - let's just say that faux geek glasses and ironic moustaches abounded), we went in to our table.

I came here on the recommendation of a friend who had praised the milkshake, which is apparently so rich and thick as to be almost impossible to finish. Unfortunately I was let down by the boys, who decided to order a big jug of beer instead - I was dubious as to my ability to consume both a shake and a full meal, so I chickened out of getting one myself. As a more manageable accompaniment to my food, I went for the coke float, which I really enjoyed: it was one of the better ones I've had in London (far, far better than Byron Burger for example), with plenty of rich creamy ice-cream foaming up in the ice-cold soda.

Food-wise, three of us opted for the BBQ Rib Dinner, which consisted of a half rack of St Louis cut pork ribs with one side each. Between us we ordered: bacon mac & cheese (very average I thought - soggy pasta in a gloopy sauce - but then again, I tend to dislike mac & cheese in general, and my boyfriend said it was fine); collard greens (also fine - I mean collard greens are never that amazing, I only ordered them to counteract some of the grease with a few vitamins!); French fries (very good - piping hot with a good texture, neither too crispy nor too soggy - I stole quite a few!); and an extra side to share, of BBQ beans (my favourite side, this was fantastic - a big helping of tasty beans topped with a generous portion of pulled pork).

Half rack of ribs, collard greens, and coleslaw

The ribs themselves were a bit hit and miss. The sauce was lovely; dark and sticky, it coated the meat in a thick glossy layer and had a pleasantly sweet smoky flavour. However, while some ribs were tasty (I was lucky in that 5 of my 6 were good) some were incredibly bad, with big sloppy hunks of slobbery white fat where the meat should have been. Over half of my boyfriends ribs were like this, which kind of ruined his meal. Fatty ribs with soggy mac & cheese...not ideal! 

My dad ordered a Philly cheesesteak, which didn't arrive with the other food and only appeared after some chasing. I didn't taste it myself, but it launched my brother into a story about going all the way to Philadelphia to get a real philly cheesesteak while travelling in the US on his 'gap yah'...and I think the conclusion was that Red Dog's version was OK, but nowhere near as good as the genuine US article...which to be honest could be said of all the food we had at Red Dog Saloon, and, in fact, of most American food in London!

Bacon mac & cheese and BBQ beans with pulled pork

Finally, my 15 year old brother, exhibiting a standard teenage-boy-sized appetite, ordered the Devastator burger. This was enormous: three 6oz patties burger patties,  200g pulled pork, six rashers of applewood smoked bacon and six 6 slices of American cheese, all crammed into a soft roll. However, despite the epic list of ingredients, I had a bite and didn't find it to be particularly remarkable as burgers go (although it was definitely big enough to satisfy even the largest appetite!) It was just a little bit...sloppy...and the somewhat average burger patties and the cheap American cheese didn't live up to the tasty bacon and pulled pork elements.

He had wanted to do the Devastator Challenge, but we convinced him not to: we felt that watching him frantically shoving food into his mouth in order to complete it all within the 10-minute time frame could (you know, possibly...) have had a negative impact on the ambience of our meal!

However, we did still have the chance to observe a challenge in action when the guy at the table across from us decided to attempt the Hot Wings Challenge. This was, in a word, disastrous: his dining partner was left alone for the next half an hour, and according to the boys (each of whom went to the bathroom at spaced-out intervals during this period) the 'challenger' spent this whole time staggering around the loos being violently sick. He eventually re-emerged towards the end of the meal, at which point he rejoined his friend (who had spent what must have been a fairly rubbish evening sitting alone, playing on his iPhone) and posed (triumphantly? Although I wouldn't know why...) for a number of photos. Some great in-meal entertainment in any case.

On a final note, the service wasn't the best here - the individual waiters were pleasant enough, but we didn't seem to have been assigned one particular waiter, and were often left neglected for long stretches at a time, when no-one seemed to take responsibility for us. Case in point: our 20+ minute wait for the dessert menu we'd asked for - after which we ended up just getting the bill instead).

Final opinions on Red Dog Saloon were very mixed: I was happy - I'd been craving BBQ, my ribs were good, I'd really enjoyed my coke float and the beans. Youngest brother was unhappy - he'd wanted dessert. Dad was neutral - Philly cheesesteak, after the long wait, was neither exceptionally good nor bad. Other brother had enjoyed watching the epic struggle of the Hot Wings challenger at the next table. And the big jug of beer. But my boyfriend was devastated by his horrible rib experience, and thinks I should warn people not to go here!

So, in conclusion, I guess my search for a really REALLY good, US-standard good, BBQ place in London stop Pitt Cue.

Square MealRed Dog Saloon on Urbanspoon

Friday, 10 August 2012

A romantic meal for two at Hakkasan

The entrance is fashionably discreet: stepping through an unobstrusive doorway on elegant Bruton Street, you are waved past the bouncer down a short corridor to the reception desk, where you are greeted by a veritable swarm of pretty girls*, dressed to the nines in fuschia and black frocks (and causing the attire of the up-market clientele to look almost shabby in comparison**).

Hakkasan - owned by Alan Yau of Wagamama fame - has a reputation as one of the best Chinese/dim sum eateries in London, and being a huge fan of his other restaurants (Yautcha, for fantastic dim sum, cocktails, pastries, and a stunning aquarium; Busaba Eathai for Thai food with a twist - great if your group is large enough to commandeer one of the large 'communal ' table; and of course Wagamamas - quick, cheap, and reliably good ) I was extremely excited to finally go there.

Led to our table by one of the well-dressed waitresses, we were quickly served with our drinks. The service was incredibly attentive - in fact, everything was served and cleared away so efficiently that there was perhaps less time to linger over our meal than we would have liked...(although I would have been the first to complain if we'd been left I'm not saying the good service is a negative!)

A photo of the fancy bathroom (I was too embarrassed to start snapping pics of the restaurant itself!)

We had planned to sample one of their tasting menus, but unfortunately these are available only for parties of three and above. Instead we ordered as varied a selection as we could from the A La Carte menu.


We started with the dim sum platter, which consisted of four types of dumplings: scallop shuimai, shimeji dumpling, Chinese chive dumpling (with prawn and crabmeat), and har gau.
I've tried the scallop shuimai before at Yauatcha: while those were good, Hakkasan's version were exceptional. Enormous scallops, tender and sweet, encased in a delicate 'pasta' wrapper, and topped with a sprinkling of red roe eggs.

The shimeji dumplings were also fantastic: tasty shimeji mushrooms in a rich, intensely umami brown sauce, with chopped vegetables (perhaps water chestnuts?) adding texture and crunch. The flavour was so meaty that I could have sworn it contained duck - but apparently it is vegetarian.

The Chinese chive dumpling (in the green wrapper) was also excellent, with a generous amount of sweet, tasty crab meat, and a lovely flavour.

And finally, the prawn dumplings (aka har gau). These were delicious (you can't really go wrong with har gau) but less adventurous than the other dim sum options - I would love to see something a bit more exciting - such as the prawn cheung fun*** (my favourite Yautcha offering) - on the menu in their place.

The only issue with the dim sum was the size - they were very large (bigger than the usual dainty mouthfuls) and it was hard to work out how best to eat them in an elegant fashion! Pick them up, daintily, with chopsticks, then cram the whole thing into your mouth, hamster-style? Or 'chopstick' them into two, messily spilling and smearing their contents onto the plate, for a more mouth-size portion? I tried both (and I'm sure the suave troop of waitresses were judging me for my dim sum ineptitude...)

Main Course
Black pepper beef with merlot sauce was my favourite main - chunks of beef in a darkly glistening sauce, with a flavour reminiscent of my all-time favourite dish at Busaba Eathai, the tamarind duck. The dish was served with the beef pieces spilling out of a nest of deep-fried noodles. Please note: these are decorative only. I made the mistake of trying to eat them - not tasty (and I was not elegant in my attempt either!)

Roast chicken with satay sauce was also delicious. Succulent slices of roast chicken breast with perfect shiny-crisp golden brown skin and a gorgeous peanutty satay sauce: a very posh take on this classic dish!

Silver cod in champagne sauce was our most expensive main - and at a hefty £39 we were torn as to whether it was worth the price tag. The cod itself was flawless: juicy and moist, it seperated out into the delicate flakes that are the mark of a perfectly cooked fish. However, while my boyfriend loved the champagne/honey sauce, I prefer miso cod [which I make at home with white miso paste, sugar and mirin using a Nobu-imitation recipe I found online - I'll post the recipe next time I cook this dish].

And, finally, our side dish. Pak choi with ginger sauce was good, but at a not insignificant £11 for what was effectively a plate of steamed vegetables, it is probably better to spend your money on something where the Hakkasan flair is more apparent.


We were fairly full at this point, but the quick service meant we were not quite ready to leave, so we decided to stay for dessert. Good decision! The desserts were fantastic - my boyfriend insisted that they were the highlight of the meal, and despite having given my heart away to the beef in merlot sauce (<3), I have to agree that they were exceptionally good.

Chocolate souffle

I struggled with the dessert menu - everything sounded so fussy and with so many components that I couldn't find anything that took my fancy. So, throwing 21st Century feminism to the wind, I let my boyfriend choose both sweets.

The chocolate souffle was served alongside a creamy scoop of vanilla icecream (topped with a tasty dark chocolate curl) and three blobs of gorgeous creme anglaise sprinkled with dehydrated raspberry, all arranged artistically on a piece of grey slate. The souffle itself was light and pleasantly moist with a strong chocolately flavour, and the accompaniments complemented it perfectly.

The chocolate cherry pot - a sumptious mix of rich chocolate mousse and juicy cherries - arrived in a large glass tumbler topped with a thin disc of dark chocolate, over which our waitress proceeded to pour a hot cherry sauce (melting the chocolate disc and oozing into the dessert below...mmmm). Absolutely amazing.

All in all, a fabulous meal, and (for a special occasion or a one-off treat) well worth the cost.

*There were literally 5 or 6 - one even seemed to have been asigned the task of opening the door to the toilets. Service indeed!
** And when I say "up-market clientele" I of course mean me, in my 'best' jeans...
*** Long steamed rice noodle rolls, filled with huge firm king prawns and crunchy vegetables, drizzled with sweet soy sauce and chopped into three with a spoon at your table.

Square MealHakkasan Mayfair on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Seasonal salad recipes

Visiting my parents for dinner on the weekend, I came into possession of a large quantity of home-grown veg: an enormous cabbage, a big bundle of ruby chard (like Swiss chard but with pinky-red stems), a bunch of incredibly peppery rocket, and three types of beans (broad beans, runner beans, and some unusual black-podded beans which I have never come across before).

Given all the not-so-healthy 'research' eating I've been doing for this blog, I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to experiment with some healthy salad recipes:

Ruby chard, lentil, beetroot and feta salad


Large bundle of ruby chard (can be substituted with Swiss or rainbow chard)
Chopped beetroot, pre-cooked (sold in packs of four - I used three in this salad)
Most of a pack of feta cheese (around 150g), crumbled
1/3 sachet of ready-to-eat beluga lentils
Black pepper

Rinse the swiss chard and pat dry. Roughly chop, retaining the red stems. Steam the swiss chard for approximately 4 minutes (or boil for 2-3 minutes if you don't have a steamer). The stems may take slightly longer to cook than the leaves, so pop them back in for a minute or so if you feel that they are not 'done'.

Leave the swiss chard to cool, then layer into a large dish. Top with chopped beetroot, crumbled feta, and a generous sprinkling of beluga lentils. I cheated and bought a sachet of pre-cooked lentils, but feel free to cook from scratch if you are more the domestic goddess (or god!) type...Season and serve (the feta is fairly salty, so I only used black pepper)