Erica’s food files: Asheh Reshtey – Persian Noodle Soup

1st December 2017 / Erica Cohen


500g of Persian ‘reshtey’ noodles

1 tin of red kidney beans, drained

1 tin of chickpeas, drained

100g brown lentils

100g mung beans

Large bunch of coriander, finely chopped

Large bunch of flat leaf parsley, finely chopped

400g of spinach

6 medium turnips, peeled and halved

2 large onions, finely chopped

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons oil

Salt and ground black pepper

Kashk (liquid whey) can be replaced with sour cream or natural yoghurt

2 tablespoons of dried mint

2 tablespoons of raisins

Cooking Time: 45 minutes

Serves: 6

Noodle Notes:

‘Reshtey’ are the special Iranian noodles which make this dish truly authentic.  These flat strips will puff up when cooked, adding thickness and saltiness to the soup.  Reshtey is often branded as pottage macaroni (just to confuse you) and can be found in all Iranian food stores.


So, let’s begin…

1 – Rinse the lentils and mung beans with cold water, drain and leave to one side.

2 – Boil the mung beans vigorously for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and rinse with cold water.

3 – In a large saucepan, fry half the chopped onion in one tablespoon of oil until lightly golden. Add the turmeric and season with pepper and a little salt.

4 – Add 1½ litres of boiling water together with the mung beans, lentils and turnips. Let this boil for 5 minutes on a high heat. Then lower to a medium heat and leave to cook for 20 minutes.

5 – While the soup is cooking you can prepare the onion garnish. Fry the remaining chopped onion in a small frying pan until golden brown. Add the mint and raisins and stir until the onion becomes crispy.

6 – After 20 minutes, test the turnips with a fork to check they have softened slightly but are still firm. Then break the noodles into 2-inch strips and add them to the soup, stirring continually to prevent them from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add some boiling water if the mixture gets too thick.

7 – While the noodles are cooking, add the spinach, coriander, parsley, chickpeas and kidney beans and continue to stir. After 8-10 minutes the noodles should be cooked and will be soft and puffy.

8 – Remove from the heat and serve in bowls with a dollop of kashk, Greek or natural yoghurt on top. Add a spoonful of the fried onions mixture and you’re good to go!





I’m feeling supersonic, give me gin… and tonic?

19th October 2017 / Gabriela Czwarnos

In 2016 Brits drank record amounts of gin; in fact, there were 40 million bottles sold (woah), which beat the sales growth of beer and even our dear friend, Prosecco!

gin flatlay

Of course, the obvious and perfectly paired choice of a mixer is tonic water. We wouldn’t dare imagine a summer (or autumn, or winter, or spring…) in the UK without a good old G&T, accessorised with a freshly squeezed lime.

However, to spice things up a little bit and keep our relationship with gin exciting, we’ve decided to experiment and have put together five fabulous gin cocktails that don’t include tonic!

Just in time for the weekend…

Pink Fizz

35ml gin / 15ml grenadine / 150ml champagne or prosecco

Carefully pour each constituent into a glass in order to ‘layer’.  You should be able to keep the syrup at the bottom, neatly separated. Serve in a flute.

Best with: Kirkjuvagr Gin, 43%

A unique blend of local botanicals from Orkney, including Ramanas Rose, Burnet Rose and Borage. Producers have also used traditional Orkney bere barley in their recipe.


40ml gin / 20ml lime juice / 20ml framboise liqueur / ginger ale to top up

Pour the gin, lime juice, and framboise into a highball glass filled with ice. Top with ginger ale, garnish with a lime wedge.

Best with: Tanqueray no. 10, 47.3%

Very subtle yet fresh aromas of grapefruit and a great blend of juniper, vanilla and lime. Slightly sweet, this combination creates a long-lasting flavour and a hint of spice at the end.

Gin Mojito

50ml gin / 7 leaves of fresh mint / 25ml sugar syrup / 50ml apple juice / 2 slices of lime

Clap the mint in your palms to release the aromas and place at the bottom of the tall glass. Add line and sugar syrup, muddle gently. Fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice and add gin and apple juice. Add mint leaves.

Best with: Fords Gin, 45%

The mix of 9 botanicals starts with a traditional backbone base of juniper & coriander seed that’s balanced with citrus, floral (jasmine) and spice.


40ml gin / 1 nectarine / 20ml pineapple juice / 1 tsp honey

Mix all ingredients together with crushed ice in a blender. Pour into a chilled glass and garnish with a slice of lemon and fresh lemon balm leaves.

Best with: The Botanist, 46%

Rich and mellow in flavour thanks to sweet delicate menthol, apple mint, spring woodlands, juniper, coriander, lemon and orange peel, honey, coconut from gorse, wild mint and summer meadows.

Strawberry Smash

45ml gin / 3 strawberries / freshly ground pepper / soda water to top up

Muddle 2 strawberries and a good twist of freshly ground black pepper, fill the glass with ice, stir in the gin and top with soda. Garnish with a strawberry.

Gin: Bloom, 40%

Enriched with a bespoke blend of honeysuckle, chamomile and pomelo botanicals, this is a perfect gin for refreshingly light and delicate cocktail.





Erica’s food files: Super Speedy Shakshouka

9th October 2017 / Erica Cohen


1 carton of chopped tomatoes

6 free-range, organic eggs

2 garlic cloves

A small bunch of coriander leaves

45g of feta

1 heaped teaspoon of ground cumin

2 flat teaspoons of brown sugar

Ground black pepper 

1 small fresh, thinly sliced hot chilli (stems, seeds and ribs removed)

Total cooking time: 8 minutes

Serves: 3-6 people 

Shakshouka means ‘mixture’ in Arabic and is a dish of poached eggs in a spiced tomato sauce. Its’ origins can be traced back to North Africa, where its popularity quickly spread throughout much of the Middle East and Spain.  As such, it has many different variations, as each Middle Eastern and North African country put their own special mark on this tasty breakfast classic.  Whichever way you have it, Shakshouka is utterly delicious, nutritious and surprisingly simple to make.  This is a take on my dad’s sliced potato version which he would make for us when we little.


Shakshouka is a spicy little one pot dish, which makes it really easy to prepare, perfect if you’re having one of those lazy, hazy Sundays, with a side of a hangover.  Traditionally Shakshuka is cooked and served in cast iron pan or tagine, but if you don’t happen to have one of these handy, fear not, a large pan with a lid will do the trick just as well. My recipe only takes 8 minutes to make, I KNOW!!  Less time slaving, more time scoffing! Woop!

So, let’s begin…

1 – Pop the pan on a medium heat and pour the tomatoes in.  Add the sugar and chilli and stir.

2 – Crush the garlic gloves.  If you don’t have a garlic crusher, just chop them up thinly. Then add them to the pan together with the cumin and stir gently.

3 – Crumble in the feta and season with black pepper

4 –  Break the eggs into the pan, taking care not to crack the yolks. Cover the pan with a lid and reduce the heat to the lowest setting.  Cook for a few minutes until the egg whites are barely set and the yolks are still runny.  You can always check in on them if you’re not sure how they’re doing.  The yolks should look white and give a bit of a jiggle if you gently shake the pan.

5 – Sprinkle on the coriander leaves.  Take off the heat and serve hot and direct from the pan.  Serve with some freshly toasted pitta bread to mop up the yolky gorgeousness, olives or even some natural yoghurt and devour!

Top Tip!  Spoon some of the tomato mixture over the whites of the eggs, this will help it to cook quicker, whilst keeping the yolks nice and runny.