Barefoot in London

Category: Lifestyle

Zumba + Wellness Week + Slow-Cooking Chicken Chilli



Last week, thanks to Mode Media’s Wellness Week, I got a chance to take part in a Zumba class at the Pineapple Dance Studios. In my mind I saw a room of 60+ people shimmying about a little and generally just having a bit of a jolly. Nah. I couldn’t have been more wrong – it was a fast-paced, leg-tangling romp of an exercise class that was actually a lot of fun and really felt like it had done me some good.

I, myself, was a little like a bow-legged bambi in roller-skates but still managed get most of the steps right and if not I just styled it out (or I like to think I did…)! I definitely think that if you’re looking to get fit but don’t fancy the idea of endless hours on the treadmill that Zumba is worth a gander – maybe even grab a couple of friends and instead of doing a night on the cocktails, do a night in your trainers shaking your bum and waggling your limbs about!

And, in fact, if you did make a night of it then once the class was finished you could head home and cook something up from the incredible Zumba cookbook which I was lucky enough to be gifted after the class. It actually couldn’t have come at a better time as it contains a few slow-cooker recipes and I just purchased a lovely, shiny slow-cooker!

One particular recipe I’m eager to try is the “Slow-Cookin’ Chicken Chilli” which is a nice, healthy and leaner version of the regular chilli con carne we know and love! I have adjusted it slightly – no surprise there! – for when I try it later this week


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion

2 garlic cloves

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp chilli powder

2 fresh jalapeños

3 chopped tomatoes

2 chicken breasts

1 can of cannellini beans

1 can chickpeas

1 can sweetcorn

2 cups chicken broth

2 diced green bell peppers

Salt and pepper

  1. Chop and prep all veggies and meat.

  2. Fry off onions and garlic with the cumin in a pan.

  3. Add all ingredients to your slow-cooker and cook on high for 5-6 hours.

If you don’t have a slow-cooker then pop into a big ceramic pot with a lid on top and cook in the oven on a nice, low heat for a good few hours.


Happy New Year + Wapping Market (naturally)

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Happy New Year, my darlings!

Hope you all had a wonderful festive period and have had plenty of time off work!

I’m not a huge fan of January – or February for that matter – but I do love the idea of a fresh slate, of a whole new year to fill up with all sorts of nonsense both good and bad. I know it sounds somewhat cliché, and you can start a new regime or make a promise to yourself at any time, but I think it’s a great opportunity to cast an eye over the past and look into what’s coming next. I haven’t made specific resolutions that are cast in stone but I have had a few quiet little conversations with myself (truly, mad as a hatter, you see) and set myself a few guidelines for 2015.

Of which, one massive one is to ensure I still make time for the kitchen and for experimenting with new recipes. Another is to not neglect this blog but to nurture it – to fill it with anecdotes and recipes and photographs of foodie moments I have.

One such recent moment I had was when we took a jaunt to Wapping Market. It isn’t quite the grand affair of Borough Market, nor the chaotic mess of Portobello but it is a thoroughly lovely Sunday morning visit and, if you live out in East London, I’d say get yourself out there ASAP and enjoy some of the tasty treats they have on offer.

There are organic veg stalls, charcuterie, coffee, cakes, muffins and food trucks galore. We ate a pork belly baco (British Taco!) that was insanely tender and tasty from The Roadary and purchased lots of lovely veggies for our dinner later that day. I was also incredibly naughty and bought the gooiest, most delicious brownie (coffee, chocolate and caramel – oh my!) I have ever had in my life from Kooky Bakes.

What’s more, all the stall owners were immensely friendly and willing to chatter with me about their products which for a curious wee gal like myself is always a positive. Also let’s you learn about where what you’re eating has come from and about the people cooking it up for you.

With fantastic local businesses and small start-ups, fab riverside views and oodles of variety, I’d highly recommend you get yourself down there one Sunday. I am certainly intending upon returning as there was a chicken burger there with my name on it!

Wonderful Weekend: Burnt Toast + Coffee Workshop


This weekend has been, as the title of this post indicates, utterly wonderful. I have spent it with some of my very favourite people and visited a couple of new foodie places that I’ll be sure to be going back to. Now I know this post is a little out of the ordinary for me but I’m going to try and start reviewing places I go out and eat in as well as posting recipes!

Friday evening was spent with my friend Sam at the National Theatre watching the wonderful new production JOHN by theatre company DV8. This completely blew me away and I think I’m definitely going to try and get back to see it again before it finishes. If you’re around in London be sure to check this out – or, I believe it’s going to be broadcast in cinemas as a part of NT Live so if you can’t get down here maybe see if you can see it in your local cinema!

I love the National Theatre and I love walking along the South bank; I can’t wait for the Christmas market to arrive here bringing with it all those delicious scents of festive food and drink. Without any street food to choose from this time though Sam and I decided on Wagamamas for dinner which is always an excellent shout!



Saturday morning and in fact most of Saturday was spent in Brixton with my best friend, Lorna. Now Brixton isn’t an area I know particularly well in London but I have been there a few times recently for one reason or another and I’ll be making sure I go back again and again as Brixton Village was absolutely chock-full of wee eateries and incredible food stalls that I want to visit.

We decided upon a place called Burnt Toast for brunch; there was a little bit of a queue but we didn’t mind as we had plenty to catch-up on and a good brunch is always worth the wait. There were several little wooden tables and chairs (all seating outside; don’t fret as cosy blankets were provided) and the inside looked to be a tiny crowded hubbub of kitchen activity. There were toasters and condiments set up next to the tables so you could toast your own bread and top with whatever you heart desired.

Being indecisive, and not wanting a horrible case of food envy, Lorna and I decided to share something savoury and something sweet. Brunch main and dessert, if you will. We went with the feta, tomato, kale and mushroom baked eggs and the blueberry, raspberry and maple pancake.

It was absolutely delicious. The eggs were nice and tender and full of flavour and the pancake was so big I thought we were never going to even make a dent in it but we did our utmost and nearly saw the whole thing off! I wonder, perhaps, if they may have been better off serving two slightly thinner pancakes as this was certainly “cakier” than I expected, however, if I get to eat half a plate-sized cake for breakfast who am I to nitpick?!

The coffee – a black americano – was also wonderful with beautiful, mellow caramel notes.

I definitely want to go back and try some more of their menu!

Saturday evening was spent with Adam, drinking red wine and cooking up a spicy, tomato-y Indian curry which I will definitely post a quick recipe for later this week as it was pretty healthy, very tasty (if I do say so myself!) and super easy. After a somewhat exhausting week, I definitely needed a Saturday night filled with Shiraz and a home-cooked meal!


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Sunday afternoon this week was reserved for spending a few hours with my lovely Jozef. He’s been off travelling the world this past year and having him back in London is downright excellent. He suggested we try Coffee Workshop on Clerkenwell Road which is in between the gorgeous Farringdon and Clerkenwell.

It was pretty busy with Sunday brunchers and we had a wee bit of a wait but it was a gloriously crisp and bright day so standing outside whilst we waited for a table to free-up was no hardship. It’s a fab place with a real mesh of aesthetics – bare-brick walls, wooden floors, skull covered wallpaper, walls of shrubbery, Marmite and mustard jars lining shelves. There was a great balance of edgy, quirky and twee and from the mini Kilner jars filled with sugar to the industrial looking black lamps hanging from the ceiling everything felt perfectly suited.

The food looked amazing but we opted for aeropress coffee and cake instead of eggs or burgers (I have to go back and try some though!).

We ordered both their blends of aeropress – the Githiga from Kenya and the El Rodeo from Costa Rica. It was excellent and has made me want to look for classes on making aeropress coffee; I had a quick chat with a lady who worked there and she briefly explained the process. I can feel my inner barista stirring again!

I was also incredibly naughty and had a giant brownie (which I woefully couldn’t finish) but it did go perfectly with my coffee so it would have been really rude not to. It was so crisp on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside; I always forget how much I love a good brownie because so often they’re disappointing and dry and I’m certain one decent throw and they could knock someone out! However, I’d highly recommend sampling Coffee Workshop’s one if you’re knocking about in that part of town!

Coffee Workshop is totally worth a visit; it’s cool and chic and should be something that is full of espresso snobbery and Shoreditch hipster kids but instead it’s welcoming, inviting and the staff are super cheerful and chatty. I really couldn’t recommend it enough for a lazy few hours of laughing and chatting with friends.


I know. Monster post.

How was your weekend?

Bonkers for the Bake Off

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I barely watch anything on the TV in “real time”. I watch a lot of Netflix and I’m partial to films but…TV is another matter. I may watch things on catch-up and I may record them for another day but very rarely is something so good, so important and so necessary for me to watch as it actually first airs on the TV. But then…Bake Off season starts and I go as excitable as a fanatical football during their team’s penalty shoot out.

I can barely watch as upside down cakes are slid out of tins, macarons are attempted and I genuinely find nothing more stressful than seeing a contestant making a fatale flaw during the technical challenges.

I love the quirky bunch of characters put together; the people you see and wouldn’t necessarily think BAKER. I love watching people flourish and get teary-eyed about becoming Star Baker or a particularly unsuccessful batch of crackers. I love Mel and Sue, Mary and Paul more than I know what to do with and find myself wishing we had our own Bake Off version of the Xtra Factor (you know, that show after the X Factor).

Another excellent part of this show is learning to love the contestants and picking your favourites (I was genuinely heart-broken when Beca and Glen left last year!). This season I’m kind of in love with;

Martha; she’s so young and fresh-faced – she totally had such the potential to be a precocious madam but I actually find myself loving watching her bakes and seeing how experimental she is.

Iain; he’s beardy, Irish AND a baker. I simply wasn’t going to not love him.

Luis; it feels like it’s taken until this week – bread week – for him to really shine but that man knows his stuff. He seems very on-point about his technical stuff and his flavourings.

Richard; that pencil. The man is a builder and a master baker. He just seems so darn lovely.

Nancy; she’s excellent and clearly naturally a really strong baker who knows her stuff but isn’t a cocky devil about it.

The others are all really lovely too and I can’t wait to see how this batch of bakers fair.

Now, I have been meaning to write this wee ode to my favourite reality show for a while (and I could probably go on and on for a good few more paragraphs) but the point of this is I’ve decided I’m going to attempt to bake what they bake each week so tomorrow night it’ll be bread ahoy in my kitchen. And hopefully I’m more of a Luis and less of a Jordan (…if you’re a watcher, you’ll totally get what I mean…).

Do you watch the Bake Off? Who’s your favourite?

Hear, hear, Julia Childs.

Now, as with most things I stumble across on the internet, I’m going to take this with – excuse the pun – a pinch of salt. I don’t know if she actually said this, but it certainly seems like something she would say from what I’ve read of her, and it reminded me so much of my own thoughts on plates of food that look far too fancy for their own good that I had to share.


“It’s [Food] so beautifully arranged on the plate – you know someone’s fingers have been all over it.”

– Julia Childs

I cannot stand the thought of food being touched too much. Of it going through ten thousand processes before it finds it’s self on my plate. I like things to look a little rustic, a little down home, a little less than perfect. I like my cooking wholesome and from scratch. Jamie Oliver’s bish bash bosh approach is more my style than Heston’s scientifically-crafted art. And whilst I have a respect for the other, I can’t seem to quite embrace it. Restaurants that serve it make me feel alittle uncomfortable, a little out of place and, Kitchen Gods preserve me if I ever attempt it!

What about you? Are you a fan of fancy dining?

julia childs

Fall-apart Italian Baked Chicken

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Well, I began this post a few days ago and then life got all up in my face and distracted me. It started by talking about the turning weather, about balmy evenings and sunny afternoons. I now come to finish said post and find myself staring out at a grey, abysmally rainy, day with lots of people rushing past my window clutching umbrellas. There’s something lovely about a street of colourful umbrellas but I am glad to be currently sat in my nice warm lounge with Ina Garten on the TV.

However, no matter how vile it is outside, this baked chicken – which literally melts in your mouth – is a perfect Mediterranean meal that can help you fool yourself into thinking that you are in fact somewhere a little warmer (or, at least, that’s what I tell myself). I served this with some gorgeous pesto covered linguine, a tasty salad and lots of beautifully cold and crisp Prosecco.


2 brown onions

3 cloves of garlic (crushed)

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tin of chopped tomatoes

200ml balsamic vinegar

A handful of fresh basil

Salt and pepper to taste

4/5 pieces of chicken (I used breasts but any cut would be beautiful)

  1. Preheat oven to 160.

  2. Chop and sauté the onions until translucent, then add in the garlic.

  3. Pop your chicken into the pan and sear on all sides, then place to one side into your baking tray. You want a nice deep baking tray or it’ll all be spilling everywhere.

  4. De-glaze your pan with the balsamic, getting all those beautiful flavours involved. Then add your basil, oregano, salt and pepper and tinned tomatoes. Allow to simmer away for ten minutes.

  5. Pour your sauce on top of the chicken, and cover the tray with tin foil. Place in the oven for 2 hours, then whack up the oven to 200 for the final 10 minutes and enjoy!

Easter’s a-coming; Hot Cross Bread and Butter Pudding

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 Now that’s a mouthful of a recipe name, no?

Easter is big in the O’Neill family. And I mean big. Village-wide treasure hunts, quizzes, arty activities, egg hunts, highly competitive teams and an actual cup you get your name engraved on if you win. No joke, it’s like Christmas part II in this clan. My granddad started it; he loved Easter, loved getting the family together and loved doing things to trick and challenge us ( a real wind-up merchant if ever there was one). He was one smart cookie but, most of all, he liked ruling the roost; head of the family, game’s master and all round patriarch. Sadly he passed away just over five years ago, and whilst I still find this a little difficult to reconcile with (this huge vibrant figure in my life, who still enters my thoughts on a daily basis not being here any more is bizarre and alien), this is one of his legacies that still lives on and is one I hope will continue with the next generation too – that’s down to me and the cousins, heaven help us/anyone in the vicinity!

Now, Easter isn’t all just out-doing last years winners (although that’s pretty darn important, I don’t think I’ve been on a winning team for about three years now…), it’s also the glorious time when lent finishes (hurrah for Haribo entering my life once more!) and when chocolate is happily consumed by all. Oh, and a whole lot of heavier, more religious ongoings too but I don’t tend to delve too far into that. To me, at least, Easter means family, fun and food. Three great F’s. I’ve developed a couple of Easter-themed recipes in celebration this year and this is the first I’m going to share with you. It’s a great twist on two very traditional British dishes and would be an excellent dessert on Easter Sunday (or any Sunday really. Recipes aren’t just for Easter, you know.). It’s warm and fruity and sweet and chocolaty and custardy and…well, nice. Lots and lots of tasty niceness.

How do you celebrate Easter?


9 hot crossed buns

A wee bit of unsalted butter

2 tbsp cinnamon

75g dried cranberries

3 tbsp orange liqueur (totally optional)

100g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids, just to satisfy the chocolate snob within me)

2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Grated rind of 1 orange

4 tbsp caster sugar

3 eggs

500ml whole milk

80ml double cream

2 tsp vanilla extract

  1. The night, or a few hours, before seep the dried cranberries in the orange liqueur.

  2. Cut your hot crossed buns in half and butter the top side of the bottom, plain slice and put a thin sheen of butter on to the top of the bun (over the cross adorned side!).

  3. Break up your chocolate into nice chunks.

  4. Layer up the buns in your baking tray, butter side up. In between each layer sprinkle a healthy amount of cinnamon, cranberries, chocolate and orange zest. Try to make sure the chocolate isn’t peaking out too much as you don’t want it to burn, you just want it to melt. As you’re layering make sure to keep the crosses on the buns visible, as shown in the pictures above.

  5. Custard time; heat the milk and cream together with the vanilla on the hob until warm – no boiling, burnt, scalded dairy here. In a separate jug beat your eggs and 3 tbsp sugar together until nicely combined and pale yellow colour. Add the milk and cream to the eggs, beating a little on the ferocious side, until nicely combined. Pour over your nicely layered and prepped hot cross buns then sprinkle on a little orange rind, nutmeg and the remaining tablespoon of sugar.

  6. Leave for a hour or so before before putting in the oven for forty-five minutes (preheated, 180) and take out when nice, risen and golden brown. Serve with fresh cream, custard or ice cream and enjoy!



My lovely granddad.


Zesty Energizing Summer Smoothie

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Yes, yes – another smoothie. Now don’t worry I won’t be posting every single one I make, just when I feel like I’ve hit upon a piece of fruity genius. And this, this is definitely fruity genius that tastes exactly how a summer’s day should. Now, I am an absolute addict for sharp flavours – lemon, lime, raspberries…I can’t resist for them – so this recipe is just absolutely perfect for me (and in fact you could blend it all together, pour it into a container and freeze for a gorgeously refreshing sorbet too!).

What’s more, not only is this beautifully tasty, it is possibly the most stunning bright reddish-pinky raspberry colour you could ask for – who could resist that?!



1 Mango

1 Lime

A generous handful of frozen raspberries (or fresh ones with a few ice cubes!)

100ml cold water


  1. Remove all the mango pulp and pop in the blender (I made the mistake of putting the frozen raspberries in first and it made a horrendous racket and refused to blend for an age!).
  2. Add the raspberries and pulp from your lime and blend until at your desired texture. Pour into a nice big glass and enjoy!

Fruity Breakfast Smoothie

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So, smoothies have been creeping back into my diet since the weather turned a little nicer (who am I kidding, I’ve been pretending it’s summer for at least three weeks now) and then this morning I realised I hadn’t put a single recipe for one on this wee blog of mine. Now this is my basic fall back smoothie – nothing too fancy but filling and tasty – and I generally have all the ingredients knocking about the house. If you want to add a little more texture/sustenance to this maybe add a small handful of oats.


1 banana

1 handful of raspberries

1 handful of blueberries

1 tbsp natural yoghurt

2 tsp honey

100ml milk

Tip; I tend to add frozen fruit as then I won’t need to use ice!

There’s no great mystery to this one, my darlings, pop all ingredients in your blender and blitz until it’s a consistency you’re happy with. Easy flipping peasy.

Sweet and tender – FODMAP FRIENDLY – pork loin

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Hello, hello. Hope you’re all well.


Recently I’ve been playing around with this whole “eat clean” movement and looking into free-from cooking because well…it’s always good to have a wee hit of a challenge and it’s nice to be kind to our bodies. Now I know a lot of people that seem to suffer from IBS and intolerances that make their bodies reject all kinds of foods and it’s got me pondering how I can ferret out and devise tasty recipes for my loved ones who can’t eat whatever they like.


My cousin, Kerrie, has recently switched onto the FODMAP way of eating and that basically gets rid of a lot of options menu wise and, I have to admit, I think I’d be rubbish at it but she seems to have found little ways around it and appears to be coping well. She came over for dinner the other week and I was having kittens of all shapes and sizes about what I could feed her and what I couldn’t and I was desperately afraid of giving her something that would make her poorly. Cue me texting her nonstop during the day asking all sorts of questions about what I was allowed to cook for her. Poor girl will never come again.


However, I did succeed (she brought her own butter for the jacket potatoes but – hey – I’m not super woman here!) and she wasn’t poorly and it was super tasty.




6 pork loin slices

1 tbsp paprika

1 tbsp sea salt

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp cracked black pepper

1 tbsp powdered coriander

1 tbsp cumin (I prefer whole cumin but powdered is fine)

1 tbsp thyme

2 tbsp brown sugar

A handful of cherry tomatoes


  1. Preheat your oven to 150.
  2. Unsheath a large sheet of tin foil and place it on a baking so that it’s got enough draped over the sides so that you can wrap up the pork in a loose, airy kind of tent.
  3. Chop your cherry tomatoes in half and place in the centre of the tin (normally I would use onions and garlic but that’s not FODMAP friendly!) so that you can layer your pork on top of them. Keeps the meat nice and moist and the acid juices will make it taste even better.
  4. Mix all of the ingredients together to create a dry rub and, after gently scoring the meat, massage the spices into the pork. Leave to marinade for as long as you wish. You might even want to do this in the morning or the night before.
  5. Layer the meat onto the tomatoes, wrap it up, and cook slowly for about two hours.
  6. In the last ten minutes unwrap the pork and whack the heat up to 200, this will brown it off nicely.
  7. I served with slow baked jacket potatoes and salad – FODMAP dressing of balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper – and enjoy!
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