No bake, Vegan Chocolate Tart


Chocolate tart,

Some plans are never going to happen, creating an impromptu gift guide with 12 entries and no preparation was a bad-bad idea. That doesn't mean that something else wonderfully useful can't happen instead. 

It's the time of the year when it's so easy to be a little over-ambitious, just to realise that there will be no time left for making that showstopper dessert you had planned a month ago. So, let's scale down and with the help of the first-ever GBBO, Edd Kimber, create a dessert that will be loved by all, vegan included.

I'm a great fan of chocolate mousse but, the attraction of this recipe is that it takes no time to make, no pastry to take care of, no baking with all the anxieties that brings. Aren't no plan the best plans after all?

Merry Christmas 

No-Bake Chocolate Tarts

Recipe created in partnership with recipe creator Edd Kimber and Lizi's 


175g Lizi’s Original Granola (other granola are available)

80g coconut oil, room temperature


265g dark chocolate, finely chopped

50g light brown sugar

115ml almond milk* (*you can use any plant-based milk for this recipe but almond or coconut milk both have flavours that can complement chocolate)


  1. To make the crust place about 2/3 of the Granola into a food processor and process until fine and crumbly.

  2. Add in the remaining granola, the oil and salt and process until everything is evenly combined and the mixture is clumped together. Divide this mixture equally between four loose-bottomed 10cm tart tins and press firmly into the base and up the sides of the tin. 

  1. Place the tart cases in the fridge whilst you work on the ganache. 

  2. Place the chocolate into a bowl and set it aside. Add the almond milk and sugar to the pan on medium heat and gently heat until just steaming.

  3. Pour the hot milk over the chocolate and set aside for a couple minutes before stirring with a whisk until a silky smooth ganache is formed.

  4. Pour the ganache into the chilled tart cases and place them into the fridge until the ganache has set, which will take at least a couple of hours. 

  5. Serve with a little vegan whipped cream or sour cream if you're not vegan. Kept refrigerated these will keep for 3-4 days. 

Gail's Bakery Kits for your Baking Friends

 Very belatedly, I decided to share with you, presents ideas for Christmas. I thought of calling this series the Twelve Days of Christmas. But, reading about the history of the Twelve Days, I found out that they are not these leading to Christmas day but rather those following it, ending with the arrival of the 3 wise kings on Epiphany, the 6 of January. 

Change of name was necessary and there you have it, the series is now called Pebble Soup's Advent Calendar. Today we are gifting our Baking Friends. 

During lockdown one, in 2020, when the hospitality industry was struggling like mad to find a way to survive, we witnessed the first of the '.... in a box'. My very own first was a French Christmas in a Box and I was definitely impressed. 

Baking kits are far from new. Many of us recall making our first biscuits, cakes, and flans 'out of a box', the modern twist involves recreating a chef recipe with lush ingredients, here 23% dark chocolate, 11% dark couverture chocolate. What baker wouldn't like such a pressie?

The Chocolate and Pecan Gail's Brownie Baking Kit make 20 gooey squares, I've not made mine yet but head towards the #gailsbrownies page on Instagram to see some examples. Order online or by phone and collect from your nearest Gail's bakery. The kit cost £18. My devious mind tells me that it could easily make four or five lovely bags .....just don't pass the creations for yours....if you can help it.

See you in a couple of days with a present for your Vegan Baker friends.

Disclaimer: I was given a kit as a kit but received no further remuneration to write this post.  I was not expected to write a positive review – I retain full editorial control.

Review : Lasagneria Italiana at Number One Royal Exchange Buildings London

With 17 hand-crafted lasagne recipes by Chef Antonio Sanzone, at Lasagneria Italiana, there is no shortage of seasonal options to try.

 is a French word to express the sensation dinners have when well provided with food and are very relaxed. And replète I was, after my visit to the newly opened Lasagneria Italiana, situated in the heart of the -old- City of London, at number one Royal Exchange Buildings. 

copyright and authorisation by Lasagneria
courtesy of Lasagneria Italiana

Prior to my visit, I had never heard of a Lasagneria and to my knowledge, this restaurant dedicated to lasagne is a first in London -Mister Lasagna, around the corner, is one of the same company- 

Expect lasagne filled with scented black truffles from Piedmont; crispy onion toppings in a nod to Genoa, the obligatory spicy N'duja from Calabria and from around Milan, the creamy blue-veined deliciousness that is Gorgonzola cheese.  

Contemporary twists on the classic dish that hails originally from Naples include a salmon and avocado lasagna, a big breakfast version fully loaded with a fried egg and sausage. Vegan and vegetarian options are available. They even have dessert-lasagne filled with Nutella and topped with chantilly cream. In case you are wondering, we ate that too!

Every deliciousness is bought to your table in attractive individual ceramic dishes, also called 'lasagna'. At first it's confusing, but it becomes easy when you know that the pasta dish is called 'lasagne' and not 'lasagna' which is the word for a single sheet of pasta or the cooking pot. Got it?

What should you expect from Lasagneria Italiana?

The décor: Italian elegance, everything screams 'Bellissima, from the water glasses to the clean-lined geometrical design on the wall via the copper chandeliers. 

It was heart-warming to see Chef Sanzone in attendance. I like the open kitchen, for me it's an extra touch bringing the punters and the kitchen staff together. There is a terrace outside with a canopé, heaters and I wouldn't let it pass the staff to provide blankets.

The service: Youssef Hayaya, our dedicated waiter, had one aim only that evening and it was to make sure that we were happy and comfy. Observing the team at work was a delight, they hover around never drawing attention to themselves, always being there when needed. Fast and efficient which is a plus when it comes to the busy lunch service.

The food: 

The starters are almost as intriguing as the lasagne. We started with an arancino, an orange-shaped risotto ball stuffed with mozzarella and speckled with bolognese. Followed by focaccia and olives, although I was not a great fan of the former, the olives were amazing. I learned that they were grown for their size and not their oil content. They were gigantic....for olives, and pleasantly dry on the surface. Perfect for early evening customers who can enjoy a cocktail and a snack to share before heading home.

You know what they say about a picture and a thousand words, the following is a case in point:

To make sure that we were doing the job properly we both ordered a trio of lasagne, thin layers of pasta, melting in the mouth, delicious fillings. The portions are generous but don't worry, you can take home what you can't finish. My recommendation would be Tartufo Nero, Ragu of British beef mince with mixed mushrooms and Black truffle paste, bechamel sauce, mozzarella and parmesan cheese....and probably stick to one dish rather than the trio. Having said that trios are fun.

The other nice surprise are the price tags, the lasagne dishes start at £8, a trio is £12. Very reasonable for a tasty and delightful experience. Check the menu here and in Youssef's words, 'enjoy and relax'.

Details: 1A Royal Exchange Buildings, London, EC3V 3LF
Phone: 020 7929 1212

Humble Poire Belle-Hélène meets Flamboyant Gelato

We are all familiar with images of poached pears, fragrant with winter spices and standing proud on a sweet reduction of red wine, such as the one pictured in The Guardian by the talented Felicity Cloake.

Poached pears – just perfect. Photograph: Felicity Cloake for the Guardian
Picture by Felicity Cloake

The name 'Poire Belle-Hélène' is intriguing enough, one could imagine that the creator of this glistening dessert was an admirer of a beautiful lady called Hélène
 but, this is far from being the case. The reality is far more prosaic: renowned restaurateur and recipe developer, Auguste Escoffier, 19th century, was commissioned a dessert for Jacques Offenbach's satirical operetta La Belle-Hélène which premiered in Paris in 1864. The dish was simply named to promote the operetta that told the story of Helen of Troy. No secret love affair, but a job to do and a job well done as this dessert looks opulent, taste delicious, and can be made easily...and cheaply, as I found out.

Not always inclined to use red wine in cooking because cheap wine, even when reduced to the maximum. I decided to replace it with a fruit syrup leftover from cooking apples, but a light sugar syrup will do nicely. To give it its colour, I used the juice of half a pomegranate. In spite of looking like a pear recently run over by a train at high speed, the result tasted delicious.... partly due to the gelato.

To complement this dish, I used two Hackney Gelato flavours: Mince Pie and Chocolate (the latter for the less adventurous member of Pebble Soup HQ). The brand was created six years ago by a couple of chefs who met at the Michelin-starred Locanda Locatelli. They make everything in their East London kitchen and won 22 Great Taste Stars in the last three years. Their beginnings were a little bumpy but they now provide gelati and sorbets to restaurants and supermarkets. Consumers can be found tubs of Hackney Gelato, in Tesco and Waitrose. In my opinion, this is a brand to watch.

Poire Belle-Hélène in Sugar Syrup

How to make a sugar syrup for this recipe?

Dissolve 80g caster sugar in 350ml water over low heat. 
Add cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, peppercorn, pick one or any combo, personally, I like cinnamon and peppercorn. 
If you want to get the colour closer to wine replace the water with pomegranate juice.
Once dissolved, peel the pears and cut them in half, then add them to the syrup and simmer until the fruits are tender, it could take up to 30 minutes.
Serve cooled with a topping of your choice.

The traditional method using red wine requires 700ml of wine for 125 gr sugar

Coffee Mousse Recipe & Personalised Piqant Coffee


coffee Mousse

I first published this recipe in 2017. Back then, coffee drinkers were outnumbered by tea-lovers and in these days the UK was number 11 on the international coffee drinkers chart, with three kilos of coffee per capita per year. The Fins topped the list, with 12.5 kgs per capita per year. Forwards to 2020 and the Fins are still up there when the Brits have fallen off the chart.

So if you are a coffee enthusiast like me, the 1st of October is an important date, it's International Coffee Day and it signals the start of a fortnight of coffee celebrations and with this a voyage of discovery in the coffee beans world.

But where do you start? Only the other day, I was contacted by a family firm called Piqant that offers personalised coffee. My first reaction was 'Whatever next???', but since I'm almost addicted to caffeine, I gave it a go and after filling up a Piqant quick questionnaire, I received two nicely sealed pouches, a Colombian and an Ethiopian espresso coffee.

Worth it? definitely. Not only because it removes the decision process from you but it helps you in your future choices. The selection is vast and the quality excellent so your high expectations from the service will be fulfilled

Downside?  The price but that also should be expected, it is not any pricier than at another independent roaster companie's with pouches starting at £9.50 for 250g.

What did I do with my 'old coffee'? an old favourite:

Coffee Mousse – Mousse au café


  • 60 g caster sugar with a couple of gelatine leaves or a mix of 50g sugar 10g pectin sugar if you prefer
  • 1 small cup of coffee brewed with any of the 28 varieties.
  • Coffee Mousse
    3 eggs
  • 150 g cream (double or whipping)


Beat the egg yolks with the sugar until the mix looks whitish. Prepare the gelatine leaves if using

Add the cream and transfer to a saucepan. Cook on low heat until the mix thickens, don’t let it boil
In the meantime beat the egg whites to a soft peak

When the cream is thick, cool it for a little while, add the gelatine leaves and add the egg whites, a spoon at the time.
Pour in your chosen serving glass or return a large bowl. Keep in the fridge for 4 hours before serving

Disclaimer: I received two samples to review, words are my own, I wasn't asked to write a favourable review. Recipe is my own.


July 2021 signalled the start of the hospitality industry's reopening and with it the long-awaited moment when travel writing could find new inspiration. This article was first published in Trip Reporter . With Winnie The Pooh's 100th birthday celebrations, I thought I would share it with you too.
Asdown Park Hotel dinner 106

Nestled in the heart of East Sussex, about 35 miles from central London, the Ashdown Park Hotel has been home to nuns, gentry, fallen Belgian soldiers, corporations, though not all at the same time, since 1693. It’s a grand building with buckets of archaic charms, secret gardens, an enchanted forest, and grazing land where deer roam free.

Ashdown Forest is best known as the inspiration and setting for A.A. Milne beloved character, Winnie-the-Pooh. The honey pot-loving teddy bear first took shape on the 21st of August 1921, in the village of Hartfield where the author lived. Since then, this attractive corner of the country has celebrated its most famous fictional character with dozen of walking routes and the famous Pooh Sticks Bridge in Hartfield.

Hartfield pooh corner

Winnie will turn 100 in 2021 to mark the occasion, we skipped to and hopped in the car, with the little bear’s words ringing in our ears:  “You can’t stay in your corner of the forest waiting for others to come to you. You have to go to them sometimes.” It was time to come out of lockdown and carefully go and meet people.

Asdown Park Hotel collage

On arrival, a parking space had been reserved as if the staff knew that nothing warms my heart more than to see my name in big letters on an A-board. The hotel reception is discreetly set in a corner of the grand hallway. A massive stone fireplace and age-old archways lead to oak-panelled rooms that are decorated with heavy brocade and furnished with antique pieces. The Ashdown Park Hotel is popular for afternoon and morning teas served in cosy lounges or on the terrace.  A majestic staircase leads visitors to their bedrooms. To give you an idea of its magnitude, the hotel has 106 rooms. Not all of which are in the main wing, some are situated outside near the brasserie, these open on small patios, perfect for dog-owners.

afternoon tea

The Ashdown Park Hotel is part of a small group called Elite hotels who have three others including Tylney Hall in Hampshire, Luton Hoo in Bedfordshire, The Grand in Eastbourne. Luxury hotels can be slightly intimidating but The Ashdown Park Hotel is anything but. Here it’s the ‘human thing’ that matters. Joe Mc Ginn, the concierge expressed this perfectly, when asked what was the weirdest request he ever had, he beamed and told us the story of two octogenarians who were intent on playing Pooh sticks on Pooh bridge. As they mentioned their plan, they left the hotel with a bundle of kindlings in various shapes and sizes and….a tin of condensed milk. ‘You can’t play it any other way’ Joe tells us. And that is ‘the thing’ which makes the place what it is.

Asdown Park Hotel bedroom

Our master bedroom was straight out of an episode of Downton Abbey. It was so spacious that it could have accommodated a small London flat. The impression of space is reinforced by the tall windows looking over the grounds, its lake and its fountain. Everything is opulent, one could easily disappear in the soft, comfortable bed, and sleep for 100 years, but perhaps not the best idea on a romantic weekend. TV, Espresso machine, QR code for the newspapers, digital billing are part of the mod-cons. Molton Brown toiletry, corner bath and jacuzzi bath to complete the well-being and well-looked-after feeling.

Asdown Park Hotel swimming pool 005

With my mind-eye on the evening menu, I headed for the sports and spa facilities in the nearby Country House building. Bring your golf clubs if you want to use the landscaped 18 hole that takes you through the forest. The gym is well equipped and the swimming pool is a good size. The addition of church carved stones on the pool sides helps when it comes to feeling virtuous enough….to enjoy a three-course meal and every amuse-bouche and palate cleanser in between.

Asdown Park Hotel dinner 002

As expected, the ingredients are local, some are grown in the kitchen garden in one of the courtyards. The Anderida is a fine dining 2 AA-rosette restaurant, Chef Andrew Wilson the Head-Chef trained in a Michelin star kitchen so, expect a lot of skills and attention to detail. Curing, charring, jelly drops add a bit of excitement and provide a feast for the eyes.

Asdown Park Hotel dinner 003

Chef Wilson’s style is best described as ‘traditional English with flair’. Take the surf and turf dish served with herb -from the garden- pancakes. On the day, the surf part was monkfish, but it could have been any other catch of the day. Chef Wilson never orders, he works with the fishermen who brings him what they have fished on the day. This keeps the menu fresh, lively and doesn’t harm the ecosystem. Palate cleansers are lovely additions to the menu, we enjoyed a feta mousse with tapenade and a passion fruit sorbet. The restaurant rooms are very large and despite Covid distancing rules, it felt almost intimate.


Asdown Park breakfast 004

Breakfast is also served in the Anderida restaurant: continental buffet, a selection of cooked-to-order dishes and traditional full- English. I’d recommend the smoked salmon. There is also a brasserie on the grounds. And last but not least, wine lovers be aware this corner of England has more vineyards than anywhere else in the UK.

Ashdown Park Hotel, Wych Cross, Nr Forest Row, East Sussex RH18 5JR

E :  T: +44 (0)1342 824988

Double rooms start at £240

10% off stays of two nights or longer, from £358 per double room for two nights (two sharing) including breakfast.


Partridge Saag - Are you Game for Game?

 Sponsored post

Game is often perceived as 'restaurant food', let's be honest who cooks partridge, venison, grouse, pigeon on a regular basis?. As a result, since the first lockdown, game consumption has declined by 80%. It shouldn't be that way, as there is a very strong case for eating game. 

Why should we eat for game? Sustainability. Ethically minded chefs and environmentalists have long been making the case for us to eat wild birds. Take partridge, smaller than pheasant, bigger than quails, these plumpy birds spend their lives in the wild. it's a healthy meat, high in vitamins B and a good source of potassium, with no nasty additives. 

wild bird recipe

What does it taste like? One of the arguments against eating game is tastes...gamy. That's very true, however if the meat is preserved well, the gamy taste should not be strong. Partridges don't taste as strong as pheasants, therefore recommended if you are starting your journey into the world of game-recipes

How to cook partridges? Few of us grew up in a family of game-hunters so cooking an unknown meat can be a challenge. First thing to know: partridge meat dries up very quickly. In fact from experience, the last couple of times, I ordered partridge in a restaurant, it was either as dry as an old shoe, or there was so very little meat that I was unable to appreciate the taste.

What to buy & Where to source it? Wild & Game is a Bristolian company that I have been following since their beginnings in 2017. They are very committed to the quality of their products. Most good butchers supply fresh partridge in season, otherwise it will be in their freezers. Make sure the bird is native to the UK and not an imported, ask for Grey Partridge also known as English Partridge, only because of their carbon footprint.

Recipe? Since you asked and bearing in mind that partridge breast fillets are better with a sauce, so they don't dry too much. Here is an unusual, tasty recipe that demonstrates how versatile and easy to cook partridge is.

Patridge recipe

Partridge Saag
8 partridge filets dices
2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1.5 tbsp garam masala
1.2 tsp chilli powder
1 tin chopped tomatoes
200g frozen spinach
1 large potato, diced
1 medium onion, sliced
2 tsp mince garlic
1 tsp minced ginger
Vegetable oil
200ml water

  • 10 minutes before making this dish, sprinkle the partridge with the bicarbonate of soda and leave for 10 minutes to tenderise, then wash and pat dry.
  • Heat a couple of glugs of oil and fry the partridge for 5 minutes. Remove and set aside.
  • Add a bit more oil and cook the onion until soft.
  • Add garlic and ginger and cook for 1 minute.
  • Add the gram masala and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the potatoes, tomatoes and 250 ml water, place the lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes.
  • Add the spinach and cook for a further 10 minutes with the lid on.
  • Add the meat and cook for 5 minutes.
  • Once the potato is soft and the meat cooked through, serve with rice.
Disclaimer: Wild and Game launched a delivery box scheme either on a one off basis or a subscription, on this occasion I received their February box to review. Words are my own and I certainly was not told what to write. 

More Recipes:
Want to try Venison here is an excellent recipe that elevates the simple meatballs to the next level.



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