Spring is in the Air 29th March 2022




Vegan Caesar Salad with roasted radish and caramelised onion



Sea Bass with Asparagus, Broad Beans and Spinach 

(Caramelised endive will replace fish for vegetarian option)



Easter Chocolate Cake  

Degustation of seasonal strawberries

Starter:  Vegan Caesar Salad 

There’s never a bad time to serve Caesar salad, and this vegan variation is a crowd-pleaser that anyone can enjoy, no matter their dietary preferences.

It starts with a vegan Caesar dressing, made from olive oil, fresh lemon juice, tahini, nutritional yeast, Dijon mustard, capers, and garlic. The tahini gives the dressing that characteristic creaminess that you’d expect in a Caesar, while the nutritional yeast plays the role of Parmesan cheese. The dressing gets tossed with gem lettuce or romaine hearts, then the salad is topped with hearty fresh croutons and crispy chickpeas. To add a little more heft and interest the salad is topped with delicious, sweet grilled onions and peppery radishes. 


For crispy chickpeas

  • 1 15-oz can chickpeas
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1/2 tsp. grated lemon zest

For dressing

  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest plus 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1/4 c. tahini
  • 1 tbsp. nutritional yeast
  • 1 tbsp. Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp. capers plus 1 tsp caper brine
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely grated
  • Salt and pepper

For salad

  • 4 thick slices bread
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 red onions, cut into thick rounds
  • Salt and pepper
  • 2 bunches small radishes
  • 1 clove garlic, cut in half
  • 3 heads gem lettuce or romaine hearts, leaves separated or use a mixture of leaves


Make the Crispy Chickpeas:

  • Heat oven to 425°F. Rinse chickpeas; pat very dry with paper towels, discarding any loose skins.
  • On a rimmed baking sheet, toss chickpeas with olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Roast, shaking occasionally, until crisp, 30 to 40 minutes.
  • Remove from oven and transfer to a bowl and toss with lemon zest. Chickpeas will continue to crisp as they cool.

Make the Dressing and Salad:

  • Heat grill to medium. Make dressing: In a mini blender or food processor, puree all dressing ingredients, until smooth, adding 1 tablespoon water at a time to adjust consistency and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Set dressing aside.
  • Make salad: Brush bread with 1 1/2 tablespoons oil. Brush onion slices with 1 tablespoon oil and season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Toss radishes with remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil and season with a pinch of salt. Thread radishes onto small skewers. Grill bread until toasty, 2 to 3 minutes per side; immediately rub with garlic. Grill onions and radishes until tender, about 5 minutes per side for onions and 6 to 8 minutes for radishes.
  • Tear bread into pieces and separate onion rings. Toss lettuce with half the dressing to coat. Gently fold in grilled croutons and onion rings. Serve with radish skewers, crispy chickpeas, and remaining dressing for drizzling or dipping.


Main Course: Sea Bass with asparagus, broad beans and spinach

This recipe with sea bass, new season asparagus, broad beans and spinach is a wake-up call for the taste buds. It is bursting with springtime freshness and cooked to try to retain the vibrant green colour of the vegetables.  The dish also contains, new potatoes, fennel and courgettes and other spring vegetables (peas, runner beans, spring onion) can be included if desired.


  • 250 g new potatoes
  • 500 g broad beans, podded
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 courgettes, diced
  • 450 ml tub fresh vegetable stock
  • 350 g asparagus, trimmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 300 g young-leaf spinach
  • 1 tbsp finely chopped mint
  • 8 sea bass or sea bream fillets
  • lemon wedges and extra-virgin olive oil to serve


  1. Put the potatoes in a pan of cold salted water and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15 minutes or until tender. Drain and cool, then cut into quarters.
  2. Cook the beans in boiling salted water for 2 minutes, drain and refresh in cold water, then squeeze from their skins.
  3. For the vegetables, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large deep pan. Add the onion, fennel, garlic and a pinch of salt. Cook, stirring now and then, over a low heat for 20 minutes, uncovered, until the vegetables are soft and lightly golden.
  4. Turn up the heat, add the courgettes and potatoes, and stir over the heat for 3-4 minutes. Add the stock, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the asparagus and cook for 5 minutes. Add the broad beans, then the spinach, in batches, and stir until the spinach has wilted.
  6. Remove from the heat and stir in a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil and the mint. Season to taste.
  7. Meanwhile, heat a griddle or frying pan over a high heat, season the fish/ halved endive and brush lightly with the remaining olive oil. Cook the fish, skin-side down, for 2-3 minutes, turn and cook for 1-2 minutes. Cook the endive cut side down for 2-3 minutes and turn for couple of extra minutes.
  8. To serve, spoon the warm vegetables on to a platter, top with the sea bass and serve with extra-virgin olive oil and lemon wedges.


Dessert: Easter Chocolate Cake

The recipe for this cake adapted from the cookbook Sweet, by Yotam Ottolenghi and Helen Goh, first appeared in an article written about Goh when she ran her cafe, the Mortar & Pestle, in Melbourne, Australia. Rather intimidatingly for her, the headline for the article was “World’s Best Chocolate Cake.” It’s hard to live up to the promise of being the world’s best anything, but this deeply chocolaty cake manages to do so. It’s made in a single bowl and is as elegant unadorned as it is with the optional ganache and mascarpone cream. It could actually be called lots of things: “world’s easiest cake,” possibly, requiring nothing more than one large bowl to make it all in. Or “most versatile cake,” given that it can be served without icing and just a light dusting of cocoa powder, or dressed up to the nines, with a thin layer of chocolate ganache (and my version- decorated with chocolate eggs and edible flowers) and served with espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream.


For the cake:

  • 250g unsalted butter, at room temperature and cut into two-centimetre cubes, plus extra for greasing the pan
  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), chopped into two-centimetre pieces
  • 1½ tsp instant coffee granules, dissolved in 350ml boiling water
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 240g self-rising flour (see tip below)
  • 30g Dutch-processed cocoa powder, plus 1½teaspoons, for dusting
  • 1/4 tsp salt

For the chocolate ganache (optional):

  • 200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids), broken or chopped roughly into two-centimetre pieces
  • 180ml double cream
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature

For the espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream (optional):

  • 375ml double cream
  • 190g mascarpone
  • Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod
  • 2½ tsp finely ground espresso
  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2½ tbsp icing sugar


  1. Heat oven to 170 degrees Celsius. Grease a 23-centimetre round springform pan with butter and line with parchment paper, then set aside.
  2.  Make the cake: Place butter, chocolate and hot coffee in a large heatproof bowl and mix well until everything is melted, combined and smooth. Whisk in sugar by hand until dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla extract and whisk again until thoroughly combined and smooth. Sift flour, cocoa powder and salt together into a bowl and then whisk this into the melted chocolate mixture. The batter here is liquid, but don’t think you have missed something; this is how it should be.
  3.  Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 1 hour, or until the cake is cooked and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean or with just a few dry crumbs attached. The top will form a crust and crack a little, but don’t worry, this is expected. Leave the cake to cool for 20 minutes before removing from the pan, then set aside until completely cool.
  4. Make the chocolate ganache, if desired: Place chocolate pieces in a food processor, process until fine and set aside. Combine cream and golden syrup in a small pan and place over medium-high heat. As soon as bubbles begin to appear (just before it comes to a boil), remove from the heat. Get the food processor running again, with the chocolate still inside, and pour in the hot cream in a steady stream. Process for 10 seconds, then add butter. Continue to process until mixture is shiny and smooth. (You can also make the ganache by hand; just make sure the chocolate is chopped fairly finely before adding the cream mixture. Stir with a wooden spoon until almost melted, then add the butter. Stir again until the ganache is smooth.)
  5. Use a rubber spatula to scrape the ganache into a bowl and cover with plastic wrap, with the plastic actually touching the top of the ganache. Set aside until it has set to the consistency you want. If you want a thin layer to spread over the cake, it can be poured over while liquid so that you get an even, light and shiny coating. For a thicker ganache with a spreading consistency, leave it for about 2 hours at room temperature. (The ganache can be stored at room temperature, providing it’s not too warm, for 3 days or kept in the fridge for up to 2 weeks. It can also be frozen, although it will lose a bit of its shine when defrosted.)6.
  6.  Make the espresso cinnamon mascarpone cream, if desired: Place all the ingredients in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until soft peaks form. 
  7. Peel the parchment from the cake and discard. Transfer to a serving platter and spread the ganache, if using, on top of the cake. Slice into wedges, divide the cake among plates and, if using, spoon the mascarpone cream alongside. With or without icing, the cake will keep well for 4 to 5 days in an airtight container.

Degustation of Season Strawberries

I will see what varieties of strawberries are available and if there are a few, perhaps we can do a little tasting session of the different types.