comment 0

Fresh Tuna Tacos

As a food blogger, I love discovering new food ranges and their creators,  especially if there’s  an interesting story.  I met  Lizzy Hodcroft, Founder of The Sweet Beet UK in London at a Food Show in November 2017  and we chatted about all things foodie  – no surprise there!

The Sweet Beet Range

I tasted Lizzy’s range of tasty  condiments – with the strap line: ‘Born in Texas, Made in the UK’ . I was intrigued to know how Lizzy  became a condiment creator and had to find out more.  Lizzy was born in Scotland, grew up in Texas, and moved to Newcastle, UK, to train as a chef. Quite quickly, Lizzy realised that it was important to find value in herself and her  foodie passion  whilst being in control of  her own destiny. Summed up in her own words as ”dancing to my own sweet beet”, and a brand name was born.  Previously Lizzy had a street food business in Newcastle and lots of customers asked about where they could find the tasty homemade condiments that were a key feature of her dishes. After attending a local Business Accelerator, the opportunity to utilise her chef’s expertise in a different way  became clear. Business plan in place, Lizzy relished  the development of the Sweet Beet brand and range, no pun intended! The goal of launching the range in  retail became a reality.  In  2017,  she launched Maple Bacon Jam, winning  a Great Taste Award in the same year and Habanero Lime Jelly. The range quickly expanded in Autumn 2017 with Texas Beer Jelly, Oak Smoked Apple Butter & Strawberry Chipotle BBQ Sauce. Lizzy’s proudest achievement was being awarded Young Entrepreneur  of the Year in October 2017 at the  Win  Awards, which recognises the  achievement of  women in business in the North East of England. Lizzy supports other Start Ups through her Mental Health & Wellbeing Group, part of Entrepreneurial Spark.  She is happy to  share her personal story about the challenges of setting up a business, the struggles as well as the success.

Habanero Line Jelly used to glaze the tuna

The Sweet Beet range of five can be purchased  on the website,  Fenwick stores and Farm shop’s & Deli’s throughout the U.K., and also as of February,  2018  from Ocado, the on line retailer. The  weblinks are included following the recipe below.

In taste2taste style we have come up with our tasty fresh tuna taco’s  recipe. It’s easy to make and pairs perfectly with the Habanero Lime Jelly condiment, with its great  balance of sweet red peppers, lime citrus tang with a warming kick of Habanero chilli. We have served together with our taste2taste take on ‘cowboy caviar’ – a veggie combo of sweet corn, black beans, mixed bell peppers as a  salsa/side. You’ll find the original recipe in our blog archives via the following link:

I have adapted it very slightly for this recipe.



Ingredients ( serves 2)

400g/ 14 oz fresh tuna steak, cut into 2 slices. I used wild yellow fin tuna handline -caught, certified sustainable by Marine Stewardship Council. You can also use Ahi tuna steak.

2 teaspoons of vegetable oil, I use rapeseed

freshly ground sea salt & black pepper

squeeze of fresh lime

6 teaspoons of The Sweet Beet habanero lime jelly

2 large  corn & wheat soft tortillas

3 leaves of cos lettuce, washed & shredded

1-2 teaspoon sour cream ( optional)

’Cowboy Caviar’ salsa/side:

1/2  tin of black beans, 120g/ 4 oz drained I used Epicure Organic

1 small tin of sweet corn, 160g/ 5.5 oz drained

1/2 small red pepper finely chopped

1/2 small orange pepper finely chopped

1/2 small red onion finely chopped

1 small handful of fresh flat leaf parsley , chopped

Juice of 1/2 fresh lime

Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper to taste


Marinade the tuna in oil, salt & black pepper & squeeze of lime for about 10-15 minutes.  Heat a chargrill pan to medium hot .

‘Cowboy Caviar’ Veggie Salsa/Side

Prepare the cowboy caviar & combine in a bowl.  Sear the tuna for 1 – 1.5 minutes  on each side. The tuna will be rare in the middle with chargrill marks. If you prefer your tuna slightly more cooked , increase the cooking time by 1 minute on each side. Remove from the pan and while still warm glaze with 4 teaspoons of the habanero lime jelly. Allow to rest, then slice into bite size pieces.Heat a frying pan on medium heat and warm the soft tortillas for 5 seconds on each side. Remove from pan and spread a teaspoon of habanero lime jelly and a teaspoon of sour cream ( if using) on each tortilla. Add few teaspoons of cowboy caviar, shredded lettuce and sliced tuna. Roll ‘em and eat! Serve with some more cowboy caviar veggies on the side. I served with a Numero Uno craft lager brewed with agave nectar and lime zest from Flying Dog Brewery, MD, USA.

Great with a Numero Uno Beer – cheers!

Our tasty Tuna Tacos with the Sweet Beet Habanero Lime  Jelly,  born in Texas, made in U.K.

A great combo!


comment 0

Orange Marmalade Recipe Made Easy

Marmalade – at its simplest just three ingredients- oranges, sugar, water. I have always been a fan of eating the citrusy tangy orange jam, like Paddington Bear, but never made it myself. As a food blogger I would like to think I know my way around a kitchen & a jam jar, having made jams and chutneys many times. So after recipe reading, lots of opinions, tips & techniques, a mistake or two along the way, here goes – my marmalade tales: my how to/how not to guide of what I did, learnt and made.

Seville & Blood Oranges & Lemons

Timing & sourcing – the first important tip. January is the Seville orange season, and my original plan was to make marmalade then. A few weeks delay meant a quest and hunt for the allusive key ingredient.   My local green grocer said  “you won’t find Seville oranges now in February you’re too late for this season”.  Three shops later I had decided to make with Italian blood oranges only so bought a large quantity.

Beautiful Fruit – Seville Oranges from Ave María Farm

Just one more shop, and to my surprise there they were- a few boxes of organic Seville-amazing! The Ave María farm (@avemariafarm) of Mairena del Alcoa, Seville,  the growers – my marmalade saviours.  To my delight at finding Seville oranges – lots more oranges purchased. Which leads to my next key learning- time. Sounds obvious but ensure you have enough time, especially as a first timer. My first mistake- the more oranges, the longer it will take to prepare and make – simple. So marmalade ingredients found, knives sharpened, bowls, jam pan & stock pot at the ready. Lots of research – who knew there would be so many recipes, hints, tips, opinions on how to make marmalade.  I found a recipe that said “foolproof, although it takes time, it is easy, just follow the steps and you are 100% guaranteed great marmalade”.  I was “sold” so fruit washed and soaked in 2 big stock pots overnight. I am a fan of the Slow Food movement but 3,300 minutes, really? Blog banter the next day with Simon, who laughed  telling me his Mum Rayner, a seasoned marmalade maker, never takes that long! So my second mistake  re-reading the recipe was “where is the rind? “ I like my marmalade with “thick cut” peel and no mention of peeling, paring or cutting! So change of recipe and some great advice from the Yotam Ottolenghi Facebook group  crew- Kate, Zahra,  Lous especially- on line help from UK &  Netherlands plus all the encouraging comments from further afield- global supportive foodie communities are fab! So oranges now on the boil  with wonderful citrusy aromas wafting around the kitchen. I made 17 jars of Seville & blood orange marmalade with muscovado  sugar &  Auchentoshan Scotch whisky, recipe below. Also 3 jars of blood orange, fresh ginger and Campari marmalade. I have scaled down the recipe to a more manageable number of oranges and included the things I learnt.

taste2taste test!

I even got the thumbs up from a VIP: marmalade lover, food critic, my cookery teacher and inspiration- my Mum! Thanks to everyone for all your support, encouragement, banter. You never know next year,  the World Marmalade Awards held at Dalemain Mansion, Cumbria, UK: @marmaladeawards, @dalemainmansion, newcomer category- I can but dream 🍊🍊🍊

Ingredients makes about 10  x  450g or 1 lb jars marmalade

450g/ or 1/2 lb Seville Oranges

450g or  1/2 lb Blood Oranges

Juice of 2 lemons, retain the pips

900g/2lb  granulated sugar

100g/0.2lb Muscovado sugar ( if not using just substitute with extra granulated)

Cold water, enough to cover fruit about 2.25l or  4 pints

3 tablespoons of Scotch Whisky ( optional)


10 glass jars & lids washed in warm soapy water & drip dried, more in method about sterilising jars & lids

Jam pan or large deep heavy based pan- stock pot or casserole

Large heatproof  bowls

Large slotted spoon, large metal spoon or metal ladle, large wooden spoon/ jam spoon & a metal tablespoon

Large muslin square

Kitchen string

Food processor ( optional)

Jam thermometer ( optional), check photo & method  for set point

2 metal baking trays

Metal jam funnel (optional) or a steady hand!

Heatproof oven gloves

saucer placed in the freezer to test the set point


Wash the oranges, place in a large pan and cover with cold water about 2.25l/ 4 pints. Bring to the boil and simmer on a medium heat for about 1.5 hours until the fruit is soft, skin especially. Using a slotted spoon remove the oranges and place in a large heatproof bowl to cool.

Flesh, pips & pith in muslin

Once cool, halve, and scoop out the flesh, pips/seeds & white pith with a tablespoon. Place these in another bowl lined with the muslin square.  These contain pectin, and are important as this will be key in obtaining a good set or gel like texture. Slice the soft peel/ rind into shreds with a sharp knife. I like a thick cut shred so cut mine into about  1/2 cm or  1/4 inch widths and 3 cm or 1 inch lengths.

Juice and thick cut rind

You can roughly chop using a food processor to save time but I prefer the look of hand cut shreds. Squeeze the juice of 2 lemons and add to the orange cooking water, about 1.4 l or 3 pints liquid. If less just top up with water.  Remove the lemon pips and add to the orange pips, flesh & cooked pith in the muslin. Tie up the muslin tightly, use kitchen string if necessary and add to the pan of cooked orange juice/ water and lemon juice. Simmer on a low/medium heat for 45 minutes then remove from heat to cool.

Cooled ready to squeeze muslin to extract pectin

If you have time you can leave this in a cool place overnight otherwise leave for a minimum of 1 hour. Remove & squeeze out the muslin tightly back into the pan. The juice will be slightly gel- like which is the pectin, the gelling agent naturally present in the oranges & lemon pips and pith. Discard the contents of the muslin- makes fragrant compost! You can wash and re use the muslin. Heat the pan on a medium heat until the liquid is hot then add the granulated and muscovado sugar (if using). Allow to fully dissolve for about 10 -15 minutes without stirring, then turn up the heat to medium hot and bring to the boil.

Marmalade boiling approaching set point

Keep boiling on a rolling boil ( see photo). You now want to keep boiling until you reach the set point. This should take around 20 -30 minutes but it will vary. Give the liquid an occasional stir to ensure it is not catching on the bottom of the pan. Meanwhile prepare the clean jam jars & lids for sterilising. I use Kilner glass jars with the 2 piece lids. I set my oven to 160C /320F fan, place the upright glass jars and outer rings on metal baking trays and heat for 10 minutes. For the inner lid with the rubber rim, follow the instructions as the rubber cannot withstand boiling water or temperatures above 82C/180F. If using a metal only lid these can be sterilised in the oven along with the glass jars.  If you have a jam thermometer  the marmalade set point is 104.5C/220F.

Set point there!

If not see my photos, the mixture will be rapidly boiling, rising up the pan. To test the set point, place a saucer in the freezer for a few minutes. Using a metal spoon taking care as the mixture is extremely hot, place a few drops of marmalade onto the saucer and leave to cool for 2 minutes. If you push your finger through the marmalade and it wrinkles the set point has been reached. If not continue boiling and test again in 5 minutes and repeat if necessary until set point achieved.  Remove the sterilised jars and lids from the oven. Once the set point has been reached, turn off the heat and leave the marmalade for 5-10 minutes. This ensures the peel is evenly distributed throughout as it cools and thickens. Carefully skim off any pale scum on the surface & discard. Then add the whisky if using and stir to mix in. Ensure all utensils are sterilised with boiling water and cooled on a metal tray lined with a clean cloth or paper towel. Once ready to fill use the  jam funnel or metal spoon/ ladle  to fill leaving the jars on the metal tray to catch any drips. Fill right up to the top to allow as little headspace as possible. Screw on the lids using heatproof gloves until tight. Leave the jars on the tray to cool overnight. Give the jars a final tighten, clean off any drips, label when the jars are cool and store in a dark cupboard.

Marmalade with Auchentoshan Whisky aged in American oak bourbon barrels

Now for the best part- the eating! Orange marmalade made easy… enjoy 🍊🍊🍊




comments 7

Sea Bream Acqua Pazza – or Dorade in Crazy Water?

This week has been marked by crazy weather here on the Eastern Seaboard of the USA. It started with an epic snowstorm in the early hours of Sunday morning, however, by Wednesday, we found ourselves basking in positively Mediterranean, or perhaps, Caribbean climes, when the Sun came out and the mercury rose to over 26c / 80f on my deck

The crazy temperature change inspired me to cook a classic Italian dish that I usually save for a Summer’s evening on vacation (hopefully in Italy) but which works just as well year round. A delicious easy to make poached white fish, using those classic Italian ingredients: basil, tomatoes olive oil and garlic

There are many different versions of Acqua Pazza – literally ‘Crazy Water’ (named after the bubbling and spitting combination of olive oil and water in which the fish is cooked). However, the recipe I use and share on the blog today is, I think, one of the easiest to make for even the novice cook and it will always impress with it’s delicious sweet sauce imbuing the fish with that magic of the Italian rustic cuisine

Just 8 Ingredients

Just 8 ingredients!

Ingredients (for 2 – 4)

  • 12 x tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 x Whole Sea Bream / known as Dorade in the USA (Tip 1: clean and scale leaving the head and tail and fins on for flavor. Tip 2: you can also use Sea Bass, or another meaty white fish)
  • 4 x garlic cloves, chop roughly
  • 20 x cherry tomatoes (I used around 25 grape tomatoes per fish as they were very small)
  • A generous handful of basil leaves, tear them roughly
  • A couple of decent pinches of sea salt
  • 1 x small red chili (seeds removed), finely diced
  • 400 ml / 13.5 fl oz water
  • A fresh hunk of ciabatta to serve
Sauce Ingredients on the Chopping Board

Sauce ingredients all diced and chopped…


  • Heat the olive oil in a large heavy base skillet / frying pan until hot, then add the whole fish one side down quickly followed by the garlic, tomatoes, chili, basil and salt
  • Then add the water, turning down the heat slightly to a energetic simmer once the sauce mixture is hot. The sauce should partially cover the fish
  • Cook the fish for 7 minutes per side until the eyes whiten, which indicates the fish is cooked through.
  • Then, remove the fish and place on a warm serving dish
  • Turn up the heat of the pan and cook the remaining tomato based sauce for a further 30 seconds to 1 minute, then immediately pour over each fish
  • Serve straight away with a hunk of the ciabatta bread to mop up the delicious tomato basil garlic sauce

Buon Appetito!

Ready to Eat

Ready to Eat – washed down with a glass of Pinot Grigio

By the way, back to the usual winter weather as I write cold and miserable…..roll on Summer!