Founding an Empire of Tipples

About a year ago I noticed a buzz on social media about Nelsons Gold. Then a few months later I bumped in to Steph and Matt at a trade fayre,  the couple behind Founding Drinks. Now the proud parents of three little beauties – Wild Knight Vodka, Nelsons Gold and the new baby Boadicea Gin.

We got talking about my love of cocktails and in turn I keenly agreed to create some original recipes for Wild Knight Vodka (see below).

I had a great time tasting them all mid-week in my cookery school Kitchen, here at Lodge Farm – in fact the plumbers were here that day. I wasn’t going to finish off half a dozen cocktails that I’d just photo’d so I offered them a taste – – they guzzled the lot, with good feedback and a few hiccups while they staggered off, luckily, they were here for the day so had time to sober up!

All three handsome bottled beverages are made in Norfolk at Foundry distillers in Beachamwell. Foundry drinks was only set up a few years ago with the aim to create an original Vodka made with local barley. Its distilled by their head distiller to perfection to create a smooth vodka, without any harsh tones and smooth it is, so much so it can be simply enjoyed neat. But because of its smooth nature it blends very well with a whole host of goodies to make a quality cocktail.

I say quality cocktail with a note of sarcasm, because so many cocktails are made using harsh alcohol, inferior juices, sweet syrupy mixes & acidic liquors. I’ve been blending cocktails since I was 16 – – & even then it was illegal.

It was certainly fun coming up with the recipes and taste trialling them, but hard to make sure the flavours complimented the quality of the pure vodka without drowning it. Because with something that good and pure, it would be criminal to add anything inferior to it. A bit like when someone makes a delicious succulent burger and then covers it with a cheap, frozen, airy bun #wrong.

But it’s the Nelsons Gold that gets my vote, it’s just so darn gorgeous words cannot express how silky it glides across your lips, you need to taste it to believe it. Nelsons Gold is made from smooth wild knight but with tastes of caramel. Of course, I do have a feline sweet tooth so find it very moorish to sip over ice as an after-dinner drink (not with friends, its mine!!!!) But it’s also scrumptious in deserts – I made mini Tiramisu’s for an afternoon event for 50 odd people. (p.s – the people weren’t odd!) it went down very well. I’ve also flamed bananas in it for a quick indulgent 5-minute desert on the quick with scotch pancakes. But then realised it was going down to fast and stopped. It’s just so good – – you almost don’t want to waste it.

Then there’s the bottle designs. Wild Knight is black and gothic, with a heritage silver embossed ‘knights shield’ badge on the front. Very medieval looking. I did hear one bar man complain that he couldn’t see how much vodka was left in the bottles but you can generally tell by the weight, that’s why I’m so good at Guess the Weight of the Cake. Nelsons Gold has a vintage shape, with clear glass so you can see the caramel gold inside.

But then the couple toppled us all with Gin – – – well why wouldn’t you.

The thing with Gin is its just flavoured vodka which by definition has to be distilled with juniper. And many Gins are made with imported base alcohol. Anyone can make Gin, all’s you need is a distiller, some base and your choice of botanicals. Many include citrus notes but you can add anything from nettle to peppercorns, from thyme to cinnamon. That’s why there is so many exciting flavours to try. But hardly any of them are made with a local base, let alone an English base.

So, if you make your own vodka using local barley, why not distil it further with juniper and a great blend of ancient botanicals to make the smoothest aromatic and originally local Gin around.

So, they did and Boadicea Gin was born – – – I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch, where I got toppled on Gin cocktails – it’s a hard job.

Because it’s top quality it’s just as good sipped over ice. But I do prefer it with my home-made elderflower cordial and some elderflower tonic with a few slices of lime and a good measure of crushed ice.

But if I can be bothered like I was last weekend I’ll knock up a Mojito with Boadicea with a good generous handful of fresh lemon mint from my garden, 2 heaped teaspoons of light brown sugar, a whole juicy lime, juiced & then mulled in a tall glass with crushed ice, add Boadicea and then traditionally top with soda (I’m sorry I used lemonade, it was bloomin lovely).


So, if you fancy trying one of my cocktails: –


Mulled Cider with a Wild Kick

(10 – 12 party size mix)

A more mature and tastier alternative to Mulled Wine. It might seem a little unusual making a dessert and then saturating in scrumpy but it really works and is always popular in my house at Christmas.


Baked Apples

3 cooking apples

2 tablespoons local honey

1 cinnamon stick

3 cloves

2 peels of orange

½ pint cranberry or apple juice


Addition ingredients –

2 – 3 shots Wild Knight Vodka

5 pints’ local cider



  • Make the baked apples – simply place whole apples in a suitable roasting dish, pour over the honey, add the cinnamon stick, 3 cloves and a few orange peels – pour the juice on top and bake in a preheated oven gas 5 / 180*c for 30 – 40 minutes – cooking until the apples start oozing apart.
  • Place the apples and all the juices and bits in to your slow cooker or saucepan.
  • Add 2 – 3 shots Wild Knight Vodka
  • Add 5 pints’ local cider
  • Gently heat – for 20 minutes, not boiling or even simmering.
  • Use a ladle to push down on the apples – encouraging the flavours and juices to mingle.
  • The mix should be around bath hot – serve hot or best served warm when cooled down a tad.
  • Ladle in to goblets avoiding the apples and all.



Wild & Fruity (1)

A warming blend with a moorish sharpness from the lemon and cranberry & a pep of seasonal allspice.


40ml Wild Knight Vodka

30ml cointreau or other orange liquor

100ml cranberry juice

3 dried whole allspice (all spice berry’s –  just for flavour)

½ fresh lemon juice – save a twist of the skin for a garnish



  • Shake vigorously over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  • Strain over ice cubes in chunky glass.




Knight & Day (1)

A more impressive Black Russian.


30ml Wild Knight Vodka

30ml kahula or tia maria

1 shot espresso – cooled

60 – 80ml single cream



  • Shake over ice in a cocktail shaker.
  • Then pour in to a chunky short glass.




VIP Bloody Mary (1)

So, good it takes a whole ‘Knight’ to VIP the flavours. Instead of mixing to order, here we infuse them overnight making a rich, succulent & well infused blend


100ml good quality tomato juice – left to infuse (covered) overnight (in the fridge) with

½ cinnamon stick

½ HOT red chilli – seeds removed (cut length wise)

3 – 4 black pepper corns

½ teaspoon horseradish cream (or 1 teaspoon sauce)

sprig fresh thyme (2 – 3 inches) (optional)

few drops angostura bitters

Plus, the Vodka*



  • Strain the tomato juice & pour over –
  • 40ml *wild knight vodka (no need for ice) – in a tall glass.
  • Garnish with 1 stick of leafy trimmed & cleaned celery.
  • Plus, a sprig of rosemary (optional)




Wild Knights & Lady Earl Grey (1)

The perfect cocktail with afternoon tea. Lady grey has added bergamot flower making the flavours delicate and intriguing.


1 handful mint

1 heaped teaspoon light brown sugar

50ml Wild Knight Vodka

30m limoncella or other lemon liquor

1 cup / 100ml lady early grey or earl grey tea – cold (mildly brewed)


  • Place the mint, sugar and liqueur in a tall glass – mash with a cocktail muddler (or bash about a bit with a spoon).
  • Add a few cubes ice (as you like).
  • Pour in the vodka.
  • Top with the cold strained tea.
  • Serve with a stirrer.




Bakewell Knights (1)

No points for guesting this is based on the delectable bakewell tart its even got a cherry on the top!


40 ml Wild Knight Vodka

30ml disarano or amaretto liquor

40ml cherry liquor or cherry brandy

120ml raspberry juice

Optional – ½ digestive biscuit or 1 lotus biscuit (to add a pastry flavour)

1 glace cherry for garnish (preferably with a stem)



  • Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker over a handful ice. If you add the biscuit shake some-more!
  • Strain over crushed ice in a coppa cabana glass or any of choice!
  • Cut a slit in the cherry and slot it in to the top of the glass.




Medieval Musters (1)

A mixology blend of liquid smoke balanced with sweet & bitters. Think of bonfires and hickory smoked ribs.


¼ teaspoon liquid smoke

40ml Wild Knight Vodka

30ml apple brandy (or calvados)

1 generous tablespoon maple syrup

few drops bitters (optional)



  • Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker over a handful of crushed ice – just a quick shake.
  • Pour into a margarita glass with one ice cube and a sprig of mint (optional).

((This one went down particularly well with the plumbers!))




Ginger Vesper (1)

A classic Vesper of vodka and gin with warming ginger and lemon.


40ml Wild Knight Vodka

40ml Boadicea Gin

½ tablespoon ginger syrup (from a jar of stem ginger)

few drops fresh lemon juice (optional)

garnished with a lemon rind twist



  • Simply pour in to a margarita glass, stir and garnish with a lemon rind twist.




Bonfire Knights (1)

You can buy activated charcoal on line for teeth whitening, but make sure you are ok to digest itas it can affect medication and other issues. The latest crave in cocktails and foods as it has body cleansing qualities.


¼ teaspoon activated charcoal

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

30ml Wild Knight Vodka or Nelsons Gold

30ml cointreau or Drambuie

30ml Boadicea Gin



  • Shake all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker over a good heap ice.
  • Pour in a chilled short chunky glass.




East (Anglia) meets West (1)

A modern version of Pina Colada – but still with the addictive creamy tropical fruitiness.


30ml Wild Knight Vodka

50ml Drambuie or Cointreau

60ml pineapple juice

60ml coconut milk (go for a tin with a high percentage of coconut 65%+)



  • This needs a massive shake in a cocktail shaker over plenty of ice.
  • Strain in to a tall glass with 2 – 3 basil leaves and a good measure of ice cubes.




Beer Fest (1)

I like a fruity sweet beer for this, not an actual fruit beer but one with fruity notes.


50ml Wild Knight Vodka or Nelsons Gold

15 -20ml absinthe (or pernod)

½ tablespoon local honey

top with local fruity beer – cold



  • Pour the vodka, absinthe and honey in to a glass – stir to combine all the flavours.
  • Top with ice cold beer.




Wild & Bananas (1)

A fun and funky loosely interpreted mojito but with attitude.


8 – 10 mint leaves

1 teaspoon dark brown sugar

40ml Wild Knight Vodka or Nelsons Gold

30ml banana liquor

60 – 80ml cranberry juice

60 – 80ml sparkling water



  • Place the mint and sugar in a tall glass – mash with a cocktail muddler (or bash n grind with a spoon).
  • Add a small handful of crushed ice.
  • Pour in the vodka and liquor.
  • Top with the cranberry and sparking water & stir.




Nelsons Romance (1)

This is inspired from a cocktail called ‘Bad Romance’ using just caramel vodka topped with cherry cola but Nelsons more romantic and a whole lot classier.


50ml Nelsons Gold

30ml Maraschino / Cherry Liqueur

Cherry Coke to top


  • Fill a tall glass with ice.
  • Pour in the Nelsons Gold and Liqueur.
  • Top with Cherry Coke.
  • Serve with a cocktail stirrer.




Gold-Granate (1)

The sweet richness of the caramel notes in the Nelsons Gold marries beautifully with the sharp tartness of the pomegranate.


30ml Nelsons Gold

60ml Pomegranate juice


  • Generously half fill a short glass with ice.
  • Simply pour over the Gold & pomegranate juice.




The Golden Apple (1)

The taste of liquid dessert gold – think apple pie, apple crumble or apple pudding.


40ml Nelsons Gold

30ml Apple Snapps or Liqueur

100ml fresh Norfolk apple Juice

¼ cinnamon stick or a chunk of Cassia Bark


  • Place all the ingredients with a handful ice in to a cocktail shaker and shake vigerously.
  • Pour in to a margarita glass or one of choice, using the cinnamon stick as a stirrer / garnish.




N&B = Nelson & Bailey

Equal measures of Nelsons Gold and Irish Cream over ice.



If you fancy more info – – contact Founding Drinks at

Nelson’s Gold, Wild Knight Vodka & Boadicea Gin /

See their website for suppliers –

I Get mine from Jarrod’s Norwich City Centre.

Local Bars

Gin Temple – Boadicea Gin

The Ivy – Wild Knight Vodka, Nelsons Gold & Cocktails

The Maids Head Hotel – all three

(Let me know if you stock it, I’ll add you on @foodnorwich )

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Food Nicknames

I was watching ‘Victoria’ last night and Albert commented that the British press referred to him as a sausage. That’s quite typical of the British with our good balance of sarcastic, a twist of irony & a big measure of xenophobia. So, typical that even back then the press would refer to Prince Albert, as a German sausage because of their love for a good old boiled sausage.

But it got me thinking about all the food related nicknames we and other cultures throw at each other, more so embedded in the past and WHY?

Forget the sausage, that seemed to be replaced with Krout, as in sauerkraut for the good old fermented cabbage eating Germans. OF course, the irony is that sauerkraut is popular all over Europe’s central and Northern parts as well as being sold all over the world. Plus, has been proven to have super nutritional qualities – – in fact it originates from China, it’s not even German!

The French have a love for frogs legs, as do Asians, Caribbean’s and ME – – it’s just like Chicken. So maybe we imagine we call the French ‘Frogs’ because they eat it so much. But this is not the reason for the nick-name, it was because the aristocracy ordained their houses of wealth with statues of toads (the British used Pineapples), the good old English didn’t know the difference between frogs and toads so they called the Rich French aristocracy who fled to Britain for safety ‘Le frogs’.

While they called us Roast Beef, all because we taught them how to cook it in the Medieval days. Chefs from the Royal palaces would go over on cheffing tours – teaching the French to cook our fineries including the ever-popular Roast Beef.

New Zealanders are referred to as Kiwi’s as they grow and eat a lot but there quite happy referring to each other as a kiwi.

While the Germans called the Italians ‘Macaroni’s during the war. Although the Italians do have a great love for pasta, it was the Americans who boxed macaroni cheese in 1937 that increased its popularity. And where did pasta originate from – – yes, China.

Then the Australians called the British Pommies, after our Apple Rosy coloured cheeks or as in pomegranate, the colour we went in the sun.

While the Americans called us Limeys, because we drank lime juice on the ships to avoid scurvy. But of course, we eat oranges and lemons or whatever we could get hold of because no citrus grew in Britain in them old Armada days.

Then there’s the Asians who call other Asians ‘Bananas’, as in yellow on the outside and white in the middle – because they amerce them self in too much western culture or live in the western world.

There is a lot of fruit simile regarding negativities in colour – like Coconut, black on the outside white in the middle.

Plus, apple – used in North American Indian culture to describe a red Indian who’s lost touch with their culture and is white on the inside.

And now I read that the British are nicknamed ‘Potatoes’ by the Chinese because we consume so many of them. But did you know the Chinese grow the most potatoes in the world (over 20%) and are the biggest consumers, especially with the ever-increasing rise of fast food and French fry consumption.

But what intrigues me the most is the FOOD thing – if we grow a lot of something, or eat a lot of something then we are called that something, more in the past of course.

The irony not being ‘it’s what we do’ but ‘it’s what we eat’, or what food we look like. Like the boy in our village who was called Spud because he looked like a potato. Or the fellow at my middle school who was called egg because he loved fried eggs and bacon.


It kind of goes back to the time when you were little and your Granny would say – if you eat any more of that you’ll look like it.

I used to worry I would look like a banana or a baked bean – but I never did!!! But I did get called crisp sandwich for a bit.


And don’t forget it’s not big and it’s not clever to bully and call each other names, and as you can see from the past – it doesn’t even make sense.


So that’s it from this Potato.

Until next time my food loving friends.

By Zena Leech-Calton

Norfolk’s Very Own Lakenham Creamery Since 1921

Whenever I’m coerced on to a committee I’malways in charge of the catering –so when over a decade ago I was organising the ice-cream for St Christopher’sschool summer fate, I taste tested a local ice-cream (not in existence any more) – – it tasted like a horrible mass-produced product from a factory shop and I didn’tlike it at all.

BUT being ever so slightly stupid, or Dyslexic as I like to call it, I had mixed that supplier up with Aldous which is made in Lakenham, Norwich.

So, for years I wrongly avoided it.

How wrong I was –there I was at a trade fayre and I tasted the most scrumptious Fig & Mascarpone ice-cream there ever was, only to realise after a chat with the boys that this ice-cream was something else altogether.

No mass-produced ice-cream here or food enhancers, no fake flavours and watery crystals. This was the proper stuff –

I feel I need to make amends for my mix up but most of all I could kick myself for ignoring Lakenham creamery for a decade missing out on the smooth creamy flavours.

Another thing to confuse a Dyslexic is having more than one name, which also didn’thelp –Lakenham creamery is not only their premises but also their brand whom make Norfolk Country Ice-Cream their high-end ice-cream made with 80% cream, then there’sthe Aldous ice-cream made traditionally with creamy milk since the very beginning. On top of that they also make a diabetic range under another name too.


So – – – just so I don’t get mixed up again

Lakenham Creamery

Norfolk County Ice-Cream

Aldous and

Eileen’s Diabetic Ice-Cream

Are all the same local ice-cream business making quality Ice-cream at its best.


Lakenham creamy has been family run since 1921 – – that’san impressive 97 years.

I love an ice-cream party – – 3 years times going to be something very special to celebrate (hint, hint).


Now you know it must be good ice-cream when Harrods had it on their shelves, it’s now sold in Sandringham, the Forum, Waitrose, Co-op, stall 8 on Norwich Market, along with numerous restaurants, cafes and pubs from Norfolk to London – – so I’m imagining some pretty impressive people have had a good lick, including possibly the Queen!?! No wonder they have won over 100 awards. (120 and rising)


There’s also one technical ice-cream problem which I don’talways find with these beauty’sand that’sscoop-ability. Of course, it’snot a soft scoop with whipped up nothing, but it spoons without (Uri Geller) bending the spoon straight from the freezer in no time at all, yet it still retains the quality –how do they do that?


Some of the Amazing 28 Flavours of Norfolk Country Ice-Cream

& of course, there’sthe usualoneslike Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate –

But my top three flavours are –

  • Zabaglione (OMG – Orgasmic, Mine & Gorgeous)
  • Gooseberry and Elderflower (award winner)
  • Chocolate Orange (so, so good)

Other popular taste test favourites include:

  • Passion Fruit (there was a big buzz at the tasting for this one)
  • Salted Peanut Butter (award winner)
  • Jamaican Run & Raisin – – one of my all-time fav flavours
  • New York Coffee (perfect in a milkshake)
  • Mango Alphonso (only the best tasting mangos)
  • Spiced orange & cranberry (perfect for crimbo!)
  • Vanilla & Black Cherry (imagine this with freshly baked Bakewell Tart – PHEEWIE)
  • Coconut & Cream (with a dessert desiccated coconut taste)


Aldous Ice-creamis known as the retro or heritage brand, first introduced on Norwich Market, way back when –  selling up to 3000 scoops on a busy Saturday,.

It’s good stuff with plenty of child friendly flavours.

As well as the usual’s Flavours:

  • Raspberry Ripple
  • Rum & Raisin
  • Toffee Fudge
  • Honeycombe
  • Cookies & Cream
  • Rocky Road
  • Bubble-gum
  • Plus a few more and some

Plus, they also make ‘Eileen’s Diabetic Ice-Cream, sold at the Creamery shop. (info to follow when Mr Lakenham e mails me with some info, hint, hint)

Plus, if you want a taste test Stall 8 on Norwich Market is part of my Food and Drink Norwich Walking Tour – –


Lakenham Creamery

Contact details

01603 620970

***2 Trafalgar Street, NR13HN

You can also buy ice-cream from their Creamery shop***

off Hall Road, parking in front!

Mon Fri 8am 4.30pm

Sat 10-12 noon

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Mrs Gin – The Mother of all Norfolk Gins (&5)

Gin Temple popped up on my social media and I was instantly intrigued, I’d noticed they offered Gin tasting experiences and Gin cruises from Wroxham. But then there was this mention of a Gin Temple bar opening in Norwich – – –

Through ‘Love Norwich Food’ I promote local business via my free directory, advertise foodie events, blog food, offer the Norwich foodie walking tours and on a separate note – – eat & drink quite a lot of local flavours. So I had to find out more – – –

I sent a message assuming the owner was male!!! And Teresa Gizzi contacted me back professing she was all female, ‘me too’ I typed back still not knowing her name but opting for Mrs Gin instead. It’s a suiting title as not only does she have five children (and she’s under 40) but she motherly nurtures and promotes Norfolk Gins – – – and we have quite a few amazing gins in this amazing county.

Teresa comes from Middlesex but moved here eight years ago for corporate work, with her five children and hubby. A teen mum she blasted life like a whirlwind, working hard, juggling hard and achieving plenty.

A few years ago, she discovered the best of local Gins and soon made a collection for herself, sharing with friends and family. That progressed to a local Gin tasting in her local village of Bawdeswell, which in turn ended up turning in to The Gin Temple, offering Gin tasting including a taste of Norfolk, the Gin Temple Gin Bar for events and cruises on the broads. There’s 3 boats running this summer and they get booked out pretty quickly.

Then came the offer for the space above Rabbit (formerly ‘Roots’, formally ‘Baggleys’ Cathy Dennis’s parents place. (‘who’s Cathy Dennis!!! – for anyone under 40 she was an 80’s pop singer, she’s a song writer now writing for the likes of Kylie – Can’t get you out of my head, Katy Perry – I kissed a Girl and Britney – Toxic).

The Gin Temple Bar is on Pottergate, opposite the Belgium Monk and above Rabbit (the entrance doors left of Rabbit). It’s a great space with a cool vibe and three different spaces to chill. I like the back area with a bath tub as a sofa, big open windows looking out on to a Victorian Yard. There’s even a herb garden to help yourself to – infuse your Gin.

The bars’ fabulous with lovely lighting and plenty of bar stools to prop yourself on or lounge in the big front room. I love all the décor and quirky additions, like the Norfolk Gin cushions and the bespoke Gin inspired art work on the walls.

(Please note – – – they don’t just sell Gin!)


The gin temple officially opens from Friday 3rdAugust –

Offering a wide selection of Norfolk gins and other drinkable goodies from beers to stills.


Teresa plans on offering local flavours in food too – like a Norfolk Deli sharing platter with home-made bread and chutney, a Gin inspired afternoon tea and cocktails using house made syrups.


And if you’re in to tonics Mrs Gin can recommend a whole host of stock flavours including ‘Lixir’ a local-ish tonic which is less acidic, slightly sweeter and less bubby that regular tonic, I love the stuff and can’t wait to try the ‘blood orange and cinnamon’ flavour (Check em out


Some of the Norfolk Gins to try at Temple –

Archangel – from dunton & Walsingham, notes of sea buck-thorn, orange & vebena.

Artisifa (Coming soon) –

Boadicea – from Beachamwell, notes of nettle & juniper

Bullards – from Norwich,notes of citrus, tonka & cinnamon

St Giles–from Norwich, notes of rose & lemongrass.

Norfolk Gin – from Norwich, herbal, spice & floral.

Twelve Keys – from Norwich, notes of wild honey, quince & apricot.

Whatahoot – from Flitchum, notes of samphire, citrus & lavender.

Peacheys – from Alburgh, notes of citrus, cardamom & vanilla

Pell & Co – from Hopton – notes of floral & citrus, coriander, nut and orange.

Oak Villa Vryheid– from Norwich, Wynmondham – notes of poppy, lemon, honey and pepper.

You see GIN is so much more, the botanicals make them gastronomic. A feast for the taste buds.

Mrs Gin also wants to encourage corporate gatherings, including friend groups to come in for an experience – it’s all to come and with Teresa’s drive and passion its sure to be amazing with a great atmosphere. It’s cool in summer with the big open windows but I imagine its wonderfully cosy in winter.


Me and my hubby got invited to the soft friends and family launch this weekend. I got to meet nearly all of her brood – a lovely warm friendly family. Her mum in the kitchen knocking out some really tasty nibbles, her daughters running around helping too and her hubby playing host with Mrs Gin all over the shop being the perfect friendly owner.


I think The Gin Temples going to be like a local, but the coolest local around. A place you can simply kick back and relax, a place like home, informal, friendly and delicious.

I’m looking forward to watching it all develop, it’s in more than capable hands and I’m convinced it will grow from strength to strength because some women are unstoppable. I’m certainly going to be the first booked in for afternoon tea with Gin infused Salmon & a G&T on the side, as long as I get tea as well!

Good Luck Gin Temple –

Get yourself there, support local businesses, drink local, eat local and be local.


Gin Temple contact / social media details : 07841977034


By Zena Leech-Calton ©


Basically a Bace

You know how it happens in Norfolk, some one knows someone who knows something. That’s how I met Susy from ‘Bace’ foods. My good friend Rachel who had a sausage company, got introduced to Susy who had a sauce company, who got introduced to me who has a cookery school.

I could tell Susy was a big foodie, we talked about how we both cooked fresh purees for our children when they were weening and offered them a rainbow of flavours and textures.

I was telling her how my well-fed little children had turned in to junk fuelled teens. I’m hoping it’s just a rebellion, that will ween away without the need for war!!!

Anyway, Susy wanted to make a product using the best of local ingredients inspired from feeding healthy stuff to little ones, a family friendly instant vegetable, bean & lentil sauce base which was ready to use.

This sauce base was in the making for three years & 3 months ago ‘Bace’ was launched. It’s now sold in farm shops, delis, local markets and trade fayres.


And yesterday, I got to taste it – – I say its basically a base, but its far more than that

There’s three products to choose from


  • The Yellow one, Peas with Perks – made with a lovely aromatic blend of British peas, sweet potatoes, carrots and lentils. It offers mild Indian flavours which I imagine work perfectly with Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Or for that taste of the exotic.


  • The Red one, Beans with benefits is made with Haricot beans, tomatoes, red pepper, sweet potato and lentil. Equally tasty with a Tex-Mex feel, perfect with chillis, cheese or Mediterranean flavours like simply spaghetti.


  • The Green one, Peas with perks – But I think it should be peas with pop, because the peas melt in your mouth with texture bursting flavour and oozy smoothness with the odd little pop of loveliness. The British classic that is mushy peas, but more like VIP – very important peas. Perfect just heated with a splodge of mint jelly for a healthy nutritious snack or perfect blended in to European and British classics.


The pots sell for between £3- £3.50 each, 380g making the perfect size for 2 if served simply on toast or Jackets or 4 – 5 portions if blended in to dishes like chilli, bolognaise, burritos, stews and cassoulets – – but recipe ideas are endless.


There a kind of cheat – boosting flavours in dishes, making recipes easier. Increasing the health-ability and making life generally easier.

But is not to be confused with a bog standard supermarket packet sauce made in a factory, used making cheap imported ingredients and boosted with salt, flavour enhances & additives. Bace is home-made by Susy using the best of local ingredients creating something FRESH and truly tasty.


I guess originally, they were aimed at children, boosting nutritional content, raising the 5 a day and making meal times more convenient. But there more than that – there is endless dishes you can add them too.


Which is where I come in – I’ve been asked to come up with some recipe ideas. Last night I tapped away at the computer and came up with 10 ideas for each pot – from Pea fritters with Vegan Aoli, to Easy Peasy Shakshuka. From Gypsy Toast with Perks to Chimichangers.


So, if you see them about – grab a pot and get easy cooking. They keep for several weeks un-opened, 3 days opened or they freeze for 3 months.

You can microwave them ready, there thick enough to spoon or use them as a base sauce.

There naturally local, naturally healthy and naturally vegan – – so work with an array of additions from scallops with the green one to Venison Sausages with the Red one.


Check out recipes, info and stockists



By Zena Leech-Calton ©


WHEN an Afternoon Tea costs more (than a sarnie, scone, tea & cake)

(Due to chaffy feed back – – please note I am not criticising the fine Afternoon Tea places of Norwich, just the few who over charge for what its worth – I love afternoon Tea and have added my Fav’s at the bottom)

You know when I moaned about cocktails costing more than the ingredients & all because they are just so bleedin trendy. Well the same is happening with afternoon tea.

Me and my daughter decided yesterday to go for afternoon tea today, we had a little google search round and I was shocked at some of the prices – – some little cafes are now charging £15-20 per person with some restaurants charging £20-£30.

That’s the price of 5 portions of Grosvenor five quid squid, that’s 6 freshly battered squid rings, a mass pile of Norfolk chips and a wedge of lemon, times six. That’s the price of 4 Moorish stuffed pitta breads, oozing with freshly cut salad, smothered in humus, tahini, chilli sauce and mint yogurt and wedged with 3 plump falafels & eat in!, that’s the price of 3 Nanas Mexican fat burritos crammed with rice, beans, salad and slow cooked pork, that’s the price of 2 x lunch mains and a glass of matching wine meal deals at the Farmyard or 1 x 3 course meal including a juicy rump steak and a glass of milk!  – – – – it just doesn’t equate!

I’m not mean – I’m just careful. I’m happy to pay a good price for a good product.


Here’s the figures –

Let’s start with cocktails – – say for instance a Mosco Mule is 1 shot Vodka £3.50, 1 ginger ale £2.50 and a shot of lime 50p, that bought separately from a bar would be £6.50 but if you bought it as a cocktail the price would be £10. What’s more annoying is that some cocktails don’t even offer full shots – some cocktails are mixed using half measures!!!!! So, the average cocktail might only have 1.5 actual measures in it and a mixer. That’s £12 please Madame!! Let’s get back to cake.


Let’s talk about the cost of Cake

Norwich Afternoon Tea sells between £12.50 – £25, let’s say the average price is £17.50.

The average price for 1 sarnie is between £3.50-6.50 = £4.50 (plus you get a garnish).

1 large scone with all the bits £2 – £4 = £3

1 piece cake £2.50-£4.50 = £3.50

A pot of tea for one = £1.80 -£3 = £2.50

Totalling = £13.50, that’s a short fall of £4 – £4 minimum more bought as an afternoon tea.

So basically, you’re paying 25-30% more for the hire of an afternoon tea stand.


I know it’s not completely like for like – after all if you’re lucky you’ll get 3 – 4 choices of finger sarnies with the crusts off, but it’s still a round of sarnies. Plus of course you’ll get 3 – 4 mini fancies and not always a slab of cake but again very similar in cost price. And ‘yes’ on a restaurant side of things ‘an afternoon tea’ is more work & you should certainly get more service, with the free tea top up but that’s not much if anything in actual costings.

And after all who would walk in to a tea room and ask for a sandwich, a scone, a piece of cake and a pot of tea – – and “please, bring it all at once’. So, for cafes you’re actually getting more sales because the average spend goes up.


So why the price difference?

I’m not saying there is not always a price hike – the really good ones charge a fair and reasonable price. Like the Old Bank in Bungay we went to today, £13.50 per person if for 2 (£15 pp, solo) – – a fabulous price for the surroundings, the service and the quality – fresh loose tea, bakery bread, salad & crisps, massive scones, clotted cream and a choice of cake and we didn’t even have to give them 24 hours’ notice or wait until 3pm for it to be served.


But for the odd ‘rip-of-Britain’, the ones who are jumping on the band wagon, adding it to the menu and charging a stupid price, and there is a lot out there, it’s kind of unfair.

It’s not good value for money – it’s just abusing the popularity of a British classic and food fad and ripping your customers off.


I really hate it when food costs don’t flow on a menu – you know when some items are great value for money while others are ridiculously high or small portioned. As if the chef or manager knows nothing about costings. Like when you pay £6.50 for a tagine of slow cooked lamb on cous cous as a mezze, but pay a ridiculous £8 for 2 mini chicken thighs skewers on a lettuce leaf.

Yes, I’ve had this.

Costings, chef!!!


Let’s look at the costs of an Afternoon Tea

(this is fag packet rough – don’t quote me)

2 slices bread – 20p

1/2 slice good ham or other filling – 60p

a teaspoon local pickle – 10p

a touch salad or garnish – 20p

1 home-made fruit scone – 25p

jam, butter and clotted cream – 70p

Fresh loose tea etc – 45p

Ingredients to make a portion of VIP patisserie – 70p

Total – £3.20, bugger it, let’s just round it up to £3.50

That’s a profit of £15 per person on an average over priced afternoon tea that’s a 500% mark up and let’s face it people don’t usually do afternoon tea alone, they bring friends and family. In fact, the majority of Afternoon Tea Pundits are ladies who lunch in groups – brining in big business mid-week afternoon-ish, a time that for food businesses is usually dire.


I once got told if you want a restaurant sell stuff made with flour – – it’s cheap and goes a long way.

Think of a pancake – cost price 10p each

Waffles – maybe double that.

Cake, pastry’s, bread, pies, tarts, pizzas – – – –  cheap cost price, great yields especially if its fluffed up with egg or yeast.


Look at Pizza Ex?!?!? The average cost price for one of their pizzas is £1, the average selling price is £10. You can make a pizza in 5 minutes and cook in 6!  That’s a good business to be in. Especially when the dough comes in a freezer bag! And the tomato sauce in a jar.

Theres this fabulous Pizza chain expanding like putty all over London called ‘Franco Manca’ they’ve taken the pizza made it the best it can be by using a fresh sour dough base and priced it under any one else – selling from £5.50-£7.70 each – – Genius! People are getting amazing value for money, compared to everywhere else and ‘Franco’s minting it!!! Formula perfecto! Quality and a fair price.

There’s so many of these pop up pizza vendors now – charging £10 for a take away pizza served on a piece of cardboard with less than a tablespoon of topping on top which you have to eat perched on the steps of the Forum, avoiding the chewing gum – cost price around a quid-ish. Yet you can eat in a restaurant for the same price (I love you ‘Brick’ and ‘Donnelies’ (£6 lunch menu) & Sicilian Pizza market man, you got the price right xxx)


Back to Tea –

Afternoon Tea – yes, it’s a lot of work, but its low-cost with the exception of smoked salmon & prawns.

That’s why this year I was able to offer afternoon tea as a pop up at Lodge Farm for a lowly price of £12.50 per person.

Making a selection of scrumptious sarnies – – smoked salmon & rocket, chicken coronation (1 cooked large chicken (£4), yielded 20 rounds), cucumber & cream cheese along with home-made treacle crusted ham with local chutney (I even had 1kg spare for the family). A choice of 2 scones each with local strawberry and champagne jam, clotted cream and butter, plus an array of 5 different patisseries all washed down with Wilkinson’s fresh loose tea. And I still made a profit meaning we could all go out for lunch as a treat for all our hard work, also allowing me to give £100 to the ‘Little Lifts’ charity plus pay my daughter a good wage for organising it with me and put some rather nice vintage china crockery and bunting through the books, plus I told everyone to take home the left overs for some change in the ‘little lifts’ pot – that raised another £40.

I know I’ve got no overheads and I don’t pay myself a wage but a good chef can turn water in to wine and high prices don’t always mean bums on seats & cheap prices with cheap foods doesn’t either.


It’s all a matter of balance, great food and efficient management – – that’s generally what makes a successful business.


So – – – I’m not saying businesses shouldn’t be making money, I’m just saying a fair price for a fair meal and then we are all happy. Food businesses make profit, chefs and waitresses get well paid (hopefully), customers are happy to give good tips, owners are smiling, tills are pinging and customers come back for more – – – oh, and they tell their friends. Just like at ‘Franco Manca’ – – I’m guessing it’s just a matter of time before that arrives in Norwich.


Some of my favourite places – (also see a previous post of Afternoon Tea’s in Norfolk)

I still think The Assembly Rooms is the best afternoon tea in the city centre – great place, good quality, fab service £40 for 2.

I mentioned The Old Bank in Bungay above

I loved Biddys – Its quirky with a pick your own section of cakes £13.95 pp

My London favourite is The Savoy – London big hotel prices at £55 pp the cakes keep on coming, they top up the sandwiches with the best Chicken coronation, a lovely round Victorian room with a pianist and the best service with an amazing selection of fresh loose tea.

On my list of places to try in the future –

The Maids Head Hotel – No price on their website (or I can’t find it!)

St Giles Hotel – £16.95 pp, Trip advisor gives it great reviews and I love their lunches.

The Roof Top Gardens  – £20 pp, the price seems high and I wasn’t impressed with The Cliff Hotel (tea bags, bought in scones, bought in tarts) (was the same owners), so I’m hoping for good things but not sure if it will deliver – – However I think they offer one of the best Sunday lunches in the city for a good £15 pp.

Cafe Britania – £12.95 pp, good reputation and you can drop in anytime for Afternoon Tea.

Zena Leech-Calton ©


Flies in the Kitchen – What am I going to do?

(Also known as ‘Musca Domestica’ in the Pantry)

It’s about this time of year that I get an influx of house flies flittering around my kitchen annoying me, landing on my flesh, my food & my work tops – I hate the little bug-gers.

It was over 20 years ago that I was at city college as a catering student. I remember one particular class really well and that lesson was in Science, all about kitchen bugs.

It wasn’t just any old science at catering school it was the best science – food science. And out of all the stuff we must have learned I only remember one thing – that flies’ land on food and vomit!

The common house hold fly is nothing other than disgusting. The little bug-gers head straight to the kitchen, with their amazing sense of smell. They fly like helicopters with great speed and agility, that’s why it’s so bloody hard to whop ‘em, that and their super hero compound eye sight for panoramic views. I’ve tried many a time to catch them in chop sticks only giving up to whack em one, with my trusty fly squatter – splattering them horridly all over my clean kitchen, only to spray and wipe for the millionth time.

But let’s get to the disgusting part – – the part where I zoom past the fact that they live for only a month and can have 10 generations in a single year. With the female laying up to 500 eggs in clusters over a few days in moist conditions, when I say moist conditions I mean a good old decomposing food source or any old poo – there not fussy!!! Then the little maggots have an instant food source to tuck in to when they emerge 8 – 20 hours later, wriggling around in rotten decomposing trash or stinky old manure. All white and wriggly they moult their skin 3 times over their (up to) 30 days of maturing, while munching away on whatever rotting food source they hatched on before wriggling up to 10 metres away to find a nice dry spot to carry on their journey – – – –

A Doctor once told me a baby’s dummy at A&E was moving and when they cut it open it was full of maggots! You see they’ll lay their eggs on any old wet food stuff, think about that for a minute, when you leave something yummy and gooey on the side in the middle of summer!

Flies love the heat, they live longer, maggots develop quicker and pupa turn the maggots into the flies at super-fast fibre optic broadband speed –

When the maggot wriggles to a nice dry spot, its skin toughens and turns brown, the pupa stage, takes 2 – 27 days, weather depending. The flies then escape from the pupa by a pulsating hammer like device on its head, breaking free in their hundreds to terrorize your kitchens.

They can die within 3 days if they can’t find food – – but they generally do find something liquidy to land on and all sorts of smells will bring them in, squeezing through the smallest of spaces and buzzing straight to the food source or poo pile, they especially love the smell of fermentation and rotting fruit.

The fly has just two things on its weeny little brain – – sweet food and a lover. (it’s not just flies that have those 2 things in its tiny brain, but that’s another blog!). You know when you see several flies buzzing around and then they get close together and do a little quick step in the air – that’s them impressing each other. Eventually they’ll get jiggy with it, the female prefers only to mate once – storing the s? (I can’t write that word) in her body for eternal use. She can lay up to 1000 rice grain like eggs in her month-ish-long life time.

The poo’s the problem because they just love laying eggs on it, it’s so squishy, moist and warm making the perfect habitat for the maggots to feed on – in the heat of summer maggots could turn from egg to wiggly thing in only 8 hours.

But after that flies landed on that poo its picked up harmful pathogens on its hairy feet, it then fancy’s a nibble and aims straight for your kitchen to your chopping board with a splodge of tomato juice or left out curry or that little bit of sauce dripping down the bottle, or that spillage of sugary tea on the floor you never got round to wiping up or that sticky stuff on the fridge handle or that juicy juice that spilled on to the worktop and the dirtier the kitchen the more flies will be attracted in – especially when the food starts to decompose in the nooks and crannies.


Here’s the gross bit – – flies don’t have mouths so they can’t digest solids, instead they have a ‘Proboscis’ a nosel or a feeding tube a bit like a mini elephant trunk.

So, they have to eat liquids, anything they can slurp up – –

But that doesn’t stop them eating solids – – oh, NO

To break up solids they vomit the contents of their stomach on to the food, causing the enzymes to turn solids to liquid thus enabling them to sip it up in to their stomachs before vomiting it back up again on the next food spillage victim.

They’ll eat anything, especially sweet, moist foods with a bit of rot. So those food bits decomposing on the edges of your kitchen floor and splashed up your skirting boards are especially tasty. And they absolutely love the contents of your bin – – especially when its smelly and decomposing, a prime spot to lay a few 100 eggs on. Orchard apples are also a good target for laying eggs on or in, along with wild animal poo, un-bagged nappy’s and road kill.

Because they are constantly vomiting, they need to drink plenty of fluid and we all know what that does to the body – – what goes in has to come out. So, while there vomiting on your food and sucking it up in to their stomachs, there also defecating too but not before treading over the food with their pooey feet packed with little pathogens of Illness!

And yes, they may well lay their eggs in an open wound – its moist, decomposing and a great tasty food source.

Of, course you can wave them away but as soon as you’re not watching, one little bug-ger will land on your buttery crumpet and if your still not watching – up comes the vomit and out comes the wee.

So – – when that time of year comes, when its lovely and hot and the little bug-gers have had a good winter nap. And we open our windows to let the light cool British breeze in, we also let them in too  – – –


So how do we get rid of the little Bug-gers ?

Apart from smashing them with a newspaper or spraying chemical stuff all over your kitchen.

You can use a natural replant– a lemon cut in half with a few cloves stuck in the top. I save my squeezed lemon halves, throw in 6 – 8 cloves and leave them by windows and by the bin.

Or a spraymade with peppermint and lemongrass oils, mixed with a little washing liquid and a generous amount of water.

Or make a

Trap – fill a jar with an inch of cider vinegar, top with a few millimetres of washing liquid, which will float on the top – cover with cling film and poke out a couple of holes. The smell of the vinegar will attract them in and hopefully they’ll drown. Alternatively fill with rotten apple – – to trap but not to kill them.


Make a flower / Herb displayof Lavender, basil, lemon grass, rosemary and mint – – they all act as a deterrent.

Alternatively whack em– – – – but please make sure you use a septate cloth and spray to clean up the bloody splatter marks. And make sure there dead – there tough little cookies and have the habit of being stunned and bouncing back.


If there so disgusting why do we need them – –

Well, maggots are what we need and to get maggots we need flies to get jiggy and to get jiggy they need energy from food – sometimes our food.

Maggots help decompose food, road kill and the like, heal wounds, catch fish (as bait of course, they don’t actually go fishing!)

Here’s an interesting fact – if you put enough maggots together they create so much heat, they boil themselves dead! Oh, ‘”another” you ask – ok – – if one of them is ill they cannibalise it! – – “what about another” I hear you scream- – ok – – they don’t have legs but hook like teeth that cut through the decomposing rotting food and foul flesh – – – – – – “that’s enough”!?!?! – oh ok

Then there’s the forensics – – we can age an exact time of death from maggot development and activity.

They even help heal wounds only eating the bad stuff and leaving the clean fresh flesh alone.

Money in maggots – – it’s the future of animal and fish food.

Plus, don’t forget some cheese is developed to be eaten crawling with maggots, it’s a delicacy. (I’m out that day)


So, now as I’ve revolted you I may as well give you some well-meaning tips on how to keep away the flies, stop them ‘maggoting’ your kitchen and hopefully cut down on food spoilage and contamination.


After all – Trust me I’m a chef.

Kitchen Cleanliness –

  • Always have a lid on your bin and empty it regularly, not allowing it to over flow (yes, Nick ((that’s my hubby))).
  • Always clear up spillages straight away.
  • Wipe down work surfaces with an antibacterial spray and clean cloth. (change your cloths regularly too)
  • Sweep floors when bitty!
  • Wash up or soak the dishes, so there not sitting around for too long.
  • Give your dishwasher a weekly deep clean – – bacteria can get right in to the edges where the door shuts.
  • Don’t leave food out, or cover food.
  • Regularly clean your sink and under the washing bowl.
  • Wash your hands really well before cooking, after handling high risk items and after food preparation, eating or toileting etc.
  • Stock rotate food in the fridge and elsewhere, throwing out far from its best food.


Enjoy, your day!!!!

By Zena Leech-Calton ©

Photo taken from images – Sun Live – By Cameron Webb Stuff NZ

Proper Brownies – Simply Cake Co

When someone contacted Love Norwich Food and asked me to taste test their brownies – I wasn’t going to say no.

I love Brownies, it’s my favourite dessert, it’s the reason I don’t like cake, it’s the goo, it’s the crispy top, it’s the rich chocolatey kick – it’s simply the best dessert known to man (or wemen). Well apart from ice-cream but give me a slab of rich pure chocolate brownie and a generous scoop of rum and raisin ice-cream and I’m yours. In fact, one of my most indulgent ‘food porn’ memories were me and my hubby eating freshly homemade brownies and a massive tub of Hagen Das in bed in my cheffy London days. It doesn’t get any dirtier than that – – you need nothing more in life.

So, when the weekend came and a box got delivered I was over joyed – – 1 layer of freshly made brownies, chocolate orange, peanut butter, raspberry blondie and more and 1 layer of rocky roads – – I love them too, but not quite as much.

On a level of how much I like Brownies, which is 100, rocky road comes just under banana mousse, Eton mess and Tiramisu.

I felt it my duty to give these brownies and rocky’s a good old taste – which I did over 3 days. Of, course I let my family have some but not before I’d had a sample of each and every one of the 16 squares of deliciousness.

Being a brownie aficionado I was please to find out that Susanna Lemon (yes, a perfect name for a baker) from Simply Cakes Co in Norfolk makes her brownies with real butter, free range eggs and good Belgium chocolate which certainly reflects in the taste. After all, if you want to make the best brownies you have to use the best ingredients. And because the ingredients are so good, they last a good few days – unlike boring old cake!

Ms Lemon (I think I’m going to call her that!) was an X graduate before giving it all up for her passion – to bake the best brownies around. Family’s and friends taste tested and the Simply Cake Co Brownie was born –

She told me one thing I’ve been harping on for years (the chocolate cake senario*), she was disappointed in the lack-luster brownies, the brownies that were really cake, the brownies made with cocoa, the brownies with no goo-factor – – – yes, people do these vile things.

I hate when you order *brownie (and I order a lot) and you get a piece of chocolate cake NOOOOOOOOOO – it’s not a bloomin brownie, it’s a bloomin cake, a bloomin travesty an injustice of the baking world! A proper brownie has to be made with butter and melted chocolate – – – unless its simply not a brownie.


I’m a bit of a purist with brownies – you can offer me all the flavours in the world but I’ll always go back to just good brownies pure and unadulterated. That’s why I eat the chocolate chip one all to myself for breakfast, flicking the white choc chips of the top to george on the gooey stuff and get that chocolate kick you can only get from good brownie. All though having said that the chocolate Orange turned out to be my favourite and I’m always a sucker for salted caramel, moist and sweet but not too sweet – – it’s hard to balance the too sweet and too salty compounds but these were right in the middle. And even though blondies aren’t quite as good as brownies the raspberry one was extremely tangy and tasty. I must admit I don’t like blondies they tend to need some sort of juicing up so the fruit one hit the mark but the plain one didn’t do it for me. Im a brownie girl.

Of, course like me you can have these beauties freshly made and delivered to your door –

Prices start from £11.50 for your pick of 6 brownies or rocky roads.

I forgot to tell you about the rocky road covered in cornflakes – that was my favourite, all chocolaty, crunchy and firm but still bite-able. I hate it when rocky roads are so hard they break your teeth, or so soft they crumble, or worst still made of cheap chocolate that leaves a greasy after taste in your mouth – these are just perfect.


by Zena Leech-Calton ©

My sort of waver  – I wouldn’t recommend a product unless I truly liked it. All opinions are mine and mine alone – I haven’t been paid but I did get them sent to me for free.
 ‘Trust me I’m a chef’  – Here I’ll prove it – – – Mc D is crap – all of it, Aldi sold me tough lamb steaks last week, Sainsbury’s take too much fat off their diced beef, Asda’s pork aint that great, a local cake maker makes cakes way ahead of events = stale – – see I might not always name but I won’t praise.
p.s – I blooming hate it when restaurants call Chocolate cake a Brownie – – have I mentioned that!

Israeli Hummus

Recently I took a foodie trip to Tel-Aviv and fell in love with the Israeli Humus. They eat it at breakfast, lunch, dinner and all those snaky times in-between.

They don’t just say ‘lets go out for humus’ they say ‘lets go out and scoop’. It’s so fluffy and smooth it makes the perfect dip, you gotta scoop though, breaking the pitta apart and dragging a mass amount on to the bread – it’s the only way.

Israeli humus has more Tahini and less lemon than its Persian sister.


The Recipe – Humus

1 x packet dried chick peas approx. 500g

2 heaped teaspoons bicarbonate of soda

4 – 5 generous tablespoons tahini paste***

1 lemon – juiced

reserved cooking liquid (approx. 1 cup)

seasoning to taste

  • Soak the chickpeas overnight in cold water. (leave them somewhere cool, they don’t need to be refrigerated or seasoned – salt will make them hard)
  • Rinse off and place in a large saucepan, cover with water a few inches above the chickpeas.
  • Bring to the boil, then simmer for 45 minutes to an hour, until the chickpeas are really, overly tender. Make sure while simmering the chickpeas have enough water.
  • Strain – – Keeping a good cup full of cooking liquid.
  • While hot – – process in a processor (you may need to do several batches).
  • Add the clove of garlic to the chickpeas.
  • Process for at least 3 minutes to ensure the mix is pureed to smooth perfection.
  • Add the tahini and lemon juice – process to incorporate.
  • Add enough of the reserved liquid to form the consistency your happy with – Israeli humus should be loose, slightly runny, dip-able and smooth.
  • Season to taste.

Best served fresh and warm with a sprinkle of ground cumin, paprika and a good drizzle of virgin olive oil.

Serve with soft bread to scoop and dip.

This humus will set a lot firmer in the fridge – if serving cold, give it a fork through before serving or for authenticity – pound in a pestal and morter, just before service to make it even more fluffy.


Yes, its gotta be dried chickpeas, the tinned one’s won’t do for this authentic recipe as they need to be cooked to soft perfection but still hold together and processed hot – plus the taste is far superior.


Tip – The balance between lemon and tahini is up to you – – taste as you go along, only adding 2/3 the amount on any recipe then adding more to your taste, sometimes more than the recipe, my batch could easily take another lemon juiced or 1 – 2 tablespoons tahini – your balance or mine above.


Tahini Paste– is a Middle Eastern ground toasted hulled sesame seed paste, with a distinct nutty rich flavour. High in calcium and protein with a good level of copper (1/4 of your rda), zinc, iron and selenium (10% rda each) plus good old omegas – perfect for the immune system.

I’m guessing the Arabic & Jewish kingdom have less colds than us, nothing to do with the weather it’s the humus.


***But be warned some comes really thick and some as a pouring paste, so go easy on the thick stuff and add a little more of the thin one.


You can make our own tahini by dry toasting sesame seeds in a frying pan until golden and processing with a little vegetable oil to form a smooth paste.



Recipe by Zena Leech-Calton ©

Cookery tutor and food writer

Picture – My pic of local Camel Market Hummus topped with Fav beans and raw chopped onions, it was so delicious.



Home Farm & the Future King Charles

After a family trip to Sandringham, I wrote a food blog about the Queen. It fascinated me to think of the regular afternoon tea’s and the glass of champagne before bed, with 20 Buckingham Palace chefs and butlers galore on hand. I was also disappointed that the Queen, despite her extensive traveling wasn’t much of a foodie, opting for a NO garlic rule, well-done steak and cheap chocolate to anything real and proper.

So, when I heard through the foodie grapevine that Prince Charles eats organic muslie, home-made bread, local honey and dried fruits for Breakfast – it made me think.

After all we are what we eat and what we eat says a lot about us. I’m not an obsessive royal but I do respect what they do and what they represent and bring to MY England.

I also love a bit of psychology and after watching ‘The Crown’ on Netflix I realised 2 things –

  1. In my opinion the Queen is Dyslexic.
  2. Prince Charles is the sensitive, also dyslexic, black Royal Sheep of the family.

(p.s – I’m dyslexic, we are a special bunch)


So, while all the other Royals are tucking in to smoked fish or crispy bacon, sausages and poached eggs in fried bread cups at Balmoral. Prince Charles is munching on specially made muesli – – and what’s more he takes a breakfast package with him where ever he goes in the World.

(Tupperware containers are much the thing in the Royal household!)

He’s obviously never tasted Shakshuka in Israel, Waffles with maple in Canada or Rosti in Switzerland like I have – because ‘I don’t pack my cereal in my suitcase Charles’

But then again, I’m not particularly healthy, especially when on holiday or have staff to carry my bags plus ‘Easy Jet’ have a weight restriction!


Charles and Camille’s main residence is Highgrove House in Gloucestershire bought in 1980, where his 15-acre farm ‘Home Farm’ produces organically certificated produce. Not only is his organic produce used in his Duchy Originals (now partnered with Waitrose), it’s also transported where ever Charles is. The Prince likes to boast (and rightly so) that food served at state banquets is from ‘home Farm’, whether it be Balmoral, Sandringham, Windsor or Buckingham Palace.

His food company was set up to promote organic products, with over 200 ranges from Cheese Biscuits to Passata. Charles even has shop’s selling his produce including a very successful online business. So much so Duchy Originals turn over £200 million per annum.

Fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs, pork, beef, eggs and dairy are all produced on the farm suppling the Royal Family with the best products all year round.

Talking about Balmoral – Prince Charles fishes for Salmon in every early evening while there. All fish fished, game shot and meat hunted is eaten by the Royal Family.

So, you could say they are self-sufficient! If it wasn’t for the staff.

Self-sufficient enough, to, on the odd occasion call out for Fish and Chips and happily eat them out of newspaper, well in the old days anyway, when the children were ‘wee lads and lasses’.

Plus, as a little prince he would have enjoyed the infamous Barbeques at Balmoral cooked by their father.



Prince Charles is a massive foodie in contrast to his parents especially by ways of fresh, local and organic, he even has his own Restaurant in Scotland ‘Rothesey rooms’ serving up fresh, local Scottish fare.

However depending on what you read, it is said he is incredible fussy – he likes his vegetables steamed with a certain water, his eggs boiled for exactly 7 minutes, he insists on using his own produce – of course some people would call that fussy, for me it’s making sure your food is cooked to perfection and insuring it has the absolute perfect taste – thats not fussy, thats knowing what you like and making sure you get it.

So, with farms, cafes, shops and restaurants plus a team of chefs cooking his meals he must be in foodie heaven.

Of, course he can play at his interests he gets around £8million from the duchy alone per year, but with successful businesses under his belt grown from scratch ‘eight-mil’ is just pocket money, who wouldn’t eat the best.

If I was the future King of England, I’d have all that plus a Chocolate Factory.


So, what products have the Princes Royal seal of approval by way of the Royal warrant –

  • Fortnum and Mason – grocery shopping
  • Carluccios – restaurant and Deli
  • Champagne Laurent-Perrier
  • Laphroaig Distillery
  • Taylors of Harrogate – Tea
  • Waitrose
  • Cherry Brandy – which he got caught drinking as a 14-year-old school boy at Gordonstoun.

With chefs and produce at your every wake and call, you wouldn’t be too bothered about fast food, let alone the horrific processed taste of it.


It was Princes Diane that introduced Mc-Crap to the little princes William and Harry. So-used to staff was his first wife that she needed instructions to use the microwave. It was also said that Princess Diana much preferred her London residence to her country one, not having her husband’s enthusiasm for farming and the countryside.

His second wife shares his passion and is a little more apt in the kitchen, with her being seen in local supermarkets and butchers and on one occasion buying some kidneys to flavour some gravy.

Talking of marriages and differences, when Charles married Diane they gorged on

  • Brill quenelles in Lobster sauce
  • Stuffed Chicken with lamb mousseline, new potatoes, with corn and cream sauce.
  • Strawberry’s and Clotted Cream from ‘Home Farm’

Hosted at Buckingham Palace by the Queen. Plus, as it was a state affair it was the Queen who chose the menu or at least approved it – – and we all know ‘she don’t do garlic’!


Charles and Camilla’s wedding was a civil ceremony not attended by the Queen, with the buffet at Windsor.

  • Selection of sandwiches including egg and cress
  • Open Sarnies with potted shrimp and Venison with redcurrant jelly
  • Hot Canapes and an impressive selection of
  • Mini Pasties

The later make up for boring sarnies and soggy flans (my opinion)!  – Amongst the mini pastries were Caramel banana slice, strawberry tartlets, mocha fudge, caramelised lemon tarts, scones with clotted cream and duchy jam, fruit cake and mini ice-cream cornets.

I love the fact that they have a sweet tooth and excelled at the perfect finish, but not quite the Royal feast you would expect.

(Maybe that’s why the Queen didn’t go – she gets afternoon tea at Buckingham Palace everyday).

But casual and unpretentious, never-the-less.

The future King of England absolutely loves a curry, eating out often and grabbing the odd take away. His favourite curry house is in Southall, sharing its secrets with quite a few celebrity’s and politicians. He’s also passed on his passion for a curry to his son Harry, who likes them spice, unlike his brother William who’s not so keen on chilli heat.

Let’s, now forget Tom Parker Bowles, his step-son is a cookery food writer and critic, he must have got his love of cooking from someone. Uncle Charles has been around for a very long time!


So, reading about his love for food, I draw several conclusions –

Absolute respect for his vision regarding sustainable and organic farming, freshness and seasonal eating.

He was doing it when others ridiculed – with a father who ‘guffed’ at organic, a league of disbelieving journalists and a mother who chose old fashioned tradition with no frills. He embraced food for its glory, he spiced and seasoned – he chose love over conformity. He persevered, he committed, he followed his dreams and created his own passion. He even runs some of his cars on bio fuel from red wine waste and vegetable oil.

For this is the man, who will wear the crown – a man who likes a Rubby Murry, a man who isn’t afraid to break the rules but at the same time a man who keeps quiet – a wise man is a strong man.

A man who likes it HOT.

A man who when is Coronation-ed will eat Coronation chicken with garlic and chilli and the bread will be sour dough, organic milled and freshly baked. It will contain seasonal salad from the fields and spread with butter from his Dairy and quite possibly served with some cold beer.

He’ll look in to his beloved wife’s eyes, from his throne, with the crown jewels balanced on his head and say

‘about bloody time’



by Zena Leech-Calton ©

Cookery Tutor and Food Writer

Photo credit: Bill Braasch