Three Cheese Artichoke Dip

I absolutely adore food and am definitely a self-confessed foodie, but for some reason the foodies in New York are completed obsessed with certain vegetables which in England we just don't really use at all. Eggplant and Artichokes can be found in any grocery store over the pond but here, they are only really available from green grocers or farmers markets. 

I was lucky enough to feast on Eggplant Parmigiana and Artichoke dip while I was out there, and sadly haven't had any of the sort since being back in London. I felt like I was seriously missing out, so decided to head off to the green grocer to pick up some artichokes. 

The manger of 'Leon's Fruit Shop' informed me that these artichokes were absolutely beautiful and had arrived straight from Brittany, fresh that morning. He also went to to tell me that I was very brave to use fresh artichokes, I just nodded and smiled to the comment, having no idea what he was talking about. However when I got home and went to get the artichokes out of the bag, I knew exactly what he was talking about, having been pricked and painfully stabbed by the ferocious spikes on the tips of the leaves. But it sure was rewarding getting the fresh artichoke hearts out, rather than using readily canned hearts. 

Anyway, lets get onto cooking the delicious dip.

Here's what you need.

3 Fresh Artichokes (or the canned equivalent)
1/2 Lemon
1 Garlic Bulb
200g Parmesan Cheese
200g Ricotta (could use Mozzarella instead)
200g Soft Cheese
1 Tablespoon of Mayo
1 Handful of Fresh Spinach

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C or 350°F.

Start by chopping off the stalks.

Rip off all of the outer green leaves (making extra sure not to prick yourself on the ends of the ferocious leaves).

Stop when you get down to the thinner purple tipped leaves, which make up the top of the 'choke'.

Cut all the excess of the green leaves off.

Squeeze some lemon onto the white flesh of the heart as they start to brown really quickly.

Cut off the top of the choke.

The purple leaves will fly everywhere when you start to cut it off.

This white spiky part is the base of the choke and although it looks all soft an fluffy it is certainly not!

They are like very fine little needles which stick into your skin the little buggers. They are also highly inedible due to the fact that they set off your gag-reflex and making you choke (hence the very appropriate name of 'choke'). Therefore avoid with extreme caution and try and remove as much of the choke as you can with a sharp knife.

Cut the artichoke heart into as small pieces as you like (the smaller the better as you don't really want huge chunks in the dip), and place into a large mixing bowl.

Finely chop up the garlic and add to the bowl.

Add the soft cheese.

Grate the parmesan into the bowl.

Add a dollop of mayo.

Large handful of spinach.

Crumble in the ricotta.

Then mix it all up.

And put it all into a oven proof bowl ready for cooking.

In it goes for about 20-30 mins until its got a golden colour on the top and some of the cheese is bubbling.

Et Voila!

A little taste of new New York in the comfort of you're own kitchen.

Best eaten hot and straight out of the oven, so the cheese is all gooey and delicious.

You can eat it with whatever you want; toast, crisps, crackers, crostini's, breadsticks...

(I think my sisters liked it - they couldn't quite keep their hands off it!)

If you don't quite finish it all in one session, be sure to cover it and keep it refrigerated. Reheat it for about 10 minutes in the oven when you're just dying for some more.

Bon appetit!


Neck Candy

[definition: dazzling adornment of any scale or proportion to be worn round the neck at every given opportunity]

(from left to right)

My new obsession.

Adding one of these to an outfit just gives it that bit of... 'Ju Ne Sais Quoi'.

Although it poses a rather daunting question. 

"What on earth can I wear one of these with?"

The answer is so simple, as they can be worn with whatever you like. T-shirts,  crewneck sweaters, pretty dresses, shirts, blouses, throw on some neck candy for that touch of sartorial swag and you're good to go. 

The recent shows showed tonnes of styled to perfection fashionista's in their statement necklaces, captured in true street style glory. All the way from London to New York and from Milan to Paris, neck candy was a huge feature, whether worn over a simple shirt and trouser to add a dash of sophisticated chic, or layered up on clashing print look for an added touch of that 'wow' factor. 

This huge publicity for neck candy has now made them readily available all over the high street, and not just from high end designers. I've included a couple of my favourite pieces from Net-A-Porter's amazing selection, especially from J.Crew, Shourouk & Eddie Borgo, but pop into stores such as TopshopNew Look on the Great British High-Street and you could buy a full array of neck candy - maybe even one for every day of the week?

I've styled mine with a vintage graphic print sweater, leather trousers and wedged sneakers (outfit post to follow shortly). How would you style yours?


Philly Chicken Feast

I am 100% totally and utterly obsessed with Philadelphia cheese. I'd like to say that I do not enjoy eating it straight out the tub - but then I would be lying. Regular Philly, Chocolate Philly, even Chilli Philly, give me a good movie a teaspoon and I'm in soft cheese heaven.

Wondering round my favourite food shop of them all today, Waitrose, I decided to pick up Philadelphia's Light Chives edition and pondered all day about what wondrous thing I could make later for dinner. Also purchasing chicken and parma ham, I decided to make Parma Ham Chicken Escalopes (original title I know) - accompanied by some delicious roasted vegetables, and it only took 20 minutes.

What you need:

2 large boneless chicken breasts
100g Philadelphia Light with Chives
2 slices of parma ham
4 tablespoons of white wine

As well as a couple of glugs of olive oil and some seasonal veg

So where to start.

Pre-heat your oven to 180°C or 350°F.

Place your two chicken breasts on a chopping board and cover with cling film.

BANG BANG BANG the chicken pieces with a rolling pin or mallet (or whatever weapon like object you've got lying around) until the pieces are flattened.

Place a slice of parma ham over the pieces.

Take the Philly and spread it evenly over the parma ham leaving a little of the edge uncovered.

Roll the chicken up and tightly secure in place using a toothpick, thread (just something that wont poison you when you cook it - like plastic string for example).

Onto the veg.

Pick your veggies and cut them up into suitable roastable sizes.

Place into a pan, add a generous helping of olive oil so that they are all covered and whack them into the pre-heated oven for about 20 minutes.

Now onto cooking the chicken.

To seal the chicken, place into a deep frying pan, add some oil and cook on a medium to high heat for about 3 minutes until they're a nice brown colour on all sides. Making sure to turn them occasionally.


Add some wine and simmer for about a minute.

Whilst you're waiting for the minute to be up, I suggest pouring yourself a glass too.
Well, its not fair for the chicken to be having all the fun, is it now?

Turn the heat down a little and place a lid on.
Continue to cook for about 10-12 minutes until the chicken is thoroughly cooked through. 

Take out the veggies from the oven and once again admire you chopping skills.

Now time to plate up.

Add the sauce from the frying pan to your chicken (not to worry if you don't have much sauce, just add some more wine and Philly to the fry pan to make some more).

Now pour pour pour.

Et Voila!