Cooking with Sophie - Autumn


Sophie is the most recent addition to our team in head office, joining us to help with operations and the running of our eight shops in London. She loves cooking, long walks and Harry Potter. Keep an eye out for her seasonal recipes on our blog. Here's what she has been cooking recently...



Pork loin roast (about 15 cm long) – spiral cut by your butcher as if it were a porchetta, skin scored for crackling
Sea Salt for the crackling
Black pudding – 200 g - skin removed and crumbled
Bramley apple or other cooking apple –1 large peeled, cored & roughly chopped into small pieces
Sage – 8 tender leaves kept whole or if leathery rolled & finely sliced.
Salt & pepper for seasoning
Apple compote or sauce, or crab apple jelly (I always have one of these at home, usually home-made, but choose which ever you would like to serve with the finished dish)

TOP TIP - Leave the pork loin to come to room temperature for about an hour before placing in the oven, otherwise you risk it cooking unevenly.

The first will give you a more even crackling by allowing you to rub the skin properly all over without accidentally forcing out the stuffing at a later stage. But if you’re less precious about this, rub in the salt just before whacking in the oven (this is option two). If you’re patient and have an extra 20 minutes start here otherwise skip ahead to preheating the oven.

Roll out the pork loin skin side up on a chopping board and dab off any excess moisture with a paper towel. Rub the salt into the skin, being thorough about getting into the scoring & leave for 20 minutes, prepare the filling as below in the meantime. Clean off the salt & drawn out moisture with clean dry paper towel before stuffing. Pre-heat the oven to 200 C fan.

Slice open the black pudding down the middle and crumble out the stuffing into a mixing bowl, discard the casing/skin. Peel and core the apple, roughly chop in to quite small pieces, add to the bowl. Toss in the sage leaves, season with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper, add a tablespoon of apple compote – or one of the others. Stir together for an even mix.

If you’ve chosen crackling option one, flip over the rolled-out pork loin, and place skin side down, otherwise now is the time to roll out the loin – spread evenly the filling over the rolled-out pork loin and press down. Leave about 3 cm/1 inch free at either end. Carefully roll up, as tight as you can without forcing-out the filling. With suitable cooking string, tie a length of butchers’ knots along the loin (at about 2 cm intervals) or get a friend to help you tie a few regular double knots by using their finger as a knot-place-holder so you get as tight a knot as possible.

Once you’ve tied up the loin and made a desperate attempt to stuff back in any escaped filling, rub salt all over the skin and into the scoring – reattempt to re-stuff from the sides. It is important that you don’t leave the roast hanging about outside the oven now otherwise it will get wet as the salt draws out the moisture & ruins your attempt at crackling.

On a shallow baking tray for 20 minutes at 200C fan, then turn down to 180C, leave the oven door ajar for 1 or 2 minutes to bring down the temperature. Leave to cook until the internal temperature reaches 67C – For this size loin it took my oven nearly an hour of additional cooking time at 180C. All ovens vary so keep an eye on cooking progress. A meat thermometer is an invaluable asset here!

TAKE OUT AND REST for 10 minutes before slicing. Remove the string as you go. Serve a slice on a bed of the buttery creamed leeks & white beans (see recipe below) or with your preferred side and a decent sized spoon of apple compote.


Leeks – 4 medium sliced into 1 cm thick rounds
Butter – a big knob, maybe even 2 knobs
Water – 100 ml
Vegetable stock – 250 ml
Haricot or cannellini beans – 400g tin drained and rinsed.

Boil the water together with the butter in a sauce pan – ideally one that has a lid! – & place the leek rounds face down into the pan. Cover with a sheet of baking paper to help them steam & cover the pan with the lid. Turn down the heat to medium & leave for 8-10 minutes. Add the stock & leave to bubble uncovered for another 5 minutes. Blitz carefully, in a blender (only fill to the half maximum) or with a hand-mixer (if your sauce-pan is shallow, transfer to a deep mixing bowl to avoid chaos!). Not too fine, you still want to see the strings of leek. Transfer back to the pan, season to taste, and stir through beans. Leave to bubble on low until the beans are warmed through & have softened – 10 minutes roughly. Serve!


You'll need a deep heavy bottomed pan e.g. cast iron enamelled dish or casserole


1 wild rabbit, jointed by your butcher into 6
100g flour seasoned with salt & pepper
Rapeseed oil
8 sprigs of rosemary
4 sprigs of thyme
2 bay leaves
200g lardon, preferably smoked
3 large knobs of butter
2 large leeks, finely sliced
4-5 garlic cloves, crushed under a knife blade & peeled.
6 small dessert apples, ideally sharp, de-seeded & quartered
400 ml cider
400 ml double cream (do not compromise with single!)
2 tbsp Dijon mustard

1. Preheat a pan on a medium-high heat and slowly brown the lardons.

2. Meanwhile rinse and pat dry the jointed wild rabbit, keeping an eye on the lardons so that they don’t catch. Toss the rabbit in the seasoned flour.

3. When browned, remove the lardons from the heat and reserve on a plate with the bacon fat… do not get rid of the fat!

4. Add a glug of rapeseed oil to the same pan and place it back on the heat. Rub the herbs between your palms to release the oils & toss into the pan.

5. Begin browning the rabbit in the herbs and rapeseed oil until golden, approximately 2-3 minutes on either side – but judge by the colour ideally. Remove from the pan as you go and rest to one side on a plate.

6. When all the pieces of rabbit have been browned, in a deep heavy bottomed pan or casserole (cast iron’s always great if you have it – provides the most even heat) melt the butter over a medium heat until it begins to bubble. Melt the finely sliced leeks in the butter for about 8-10 minutes, lower the heat slightly if you’re worried about the leeks browning.

7. Add the crushed garlic, apple and lardons (with fat) to the leeks & toss together. Allow another 4-5 minutes for the added ingredients to mellow before nestling the rabbit into the mix. Pour over the cider and cream and bring to a steady simmer over a medium-low heat.

8. Leave to simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the rabbit pulls away from the bones. Finally stir in the mustard (taste as you do, you may want more or less, taste buds vary) and adjust the seasoning if required.

9. Serve with your ultimate mashed potatoes or some roast pumpkin wedges. I quite like mixing cabbage or broccoli into my mash to serve with this recipe. 


2 Duck legs
Rubbed with rosemary (2 sprigs), decent pinch of sea salt and 8 black peppercorns
3-4 tablespoons Duck fat
250 – 300 g Crown prince or onion squash, other squashes may work, but avoid your classic Halloween pumpkin it’s far too wet. You’re looking for a firm squash with a nutty flavour.
250 – 300g Potatoes, the type you would use for roasting
2 x Garlic cloves
3 Sprigs Rosemary

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C

  2. Start by grinding with a pestle and mortar the 3-4 sprigs worth of rosemary leaves together with the sea salt and black peppercorns. Rub this into the duck legs and place to one side while you prepare the squash and potatoes.

  3. Halve the squash and deseed with the aid of a spoon. Discard the seeds (or if you have the time… save to toast in the oven with sea salt, rosemary and a little rapeseed oil). Carefully pair off the skin from the squash, cut side down for stability and cut into decent sized chunks, roughly 3x3 cm. Reserve.

  4. Peel the potatoes and slice into discs roughly 1cm thick, no thinner or they will cook too quickly! Reserve in cold water.

  5. Preheat your heavy bottomed pan at this point to high.

  6. Squash the garlic cloves roughly under the blade of a knife to remove the skins and slice off the root end. Strip the stalks of rosemary of their leaves and discard the stalks. Finely chop the leaves.

  7. When the pan is hot enough to make a few drops of water sizzle and dance, place the duck legs, skin side down into the pan and allow to brown to a light amber. They should begin to release duck fat which will coat the bottom of the pan. Turn and repeat on the other side. Remove from the pan to a plate.

  8. Turn the heat down to medium. In the pan, toss the chunks of squash, slices of potato, garlic and rosemary with 3-4 tablespoons of duck fat. Allow to cook for 8-10 minutes, toss once more before placing the duck legs on top. Place the pan in the oven.

  9. Leave in the oven for 30 minutes, test the squash and potato to see if they are cooked through, they should be nice and soft. Dish up.

Serve the duck with:

Roast Apple & Blackberry compote

2- 3 bramley or other cooking apple, ideally quite sharp
150 g blackberries
Sugar to taste

Preheat your oven on to 180C fan. If you want to eat this with your duck, prepare & place in the oven before you begin to prepare the above dish. Score the skins of your cooking apples in a tidy ring around their middles to avoid any apple explosions. The “tidy” ring will make life easier when they are done cooking! If you have an apple corer, take out the centres with the stalks and pips. Place on a lined baking tray (only necessary if you aren’t a fan of too much washing up) and roast in the oven for 30-40 minutes.

Meanwhile soften the blackberries in a couple of tablespoons of boiling water and crush lightly with a fork. Place to one side. When the apples are ready and have completely softened into a mush, scoop out the fluffy flesh from the apple skins and mix to taste in a bowl with some powdered sugar. Then, swirl the blackberries through the apple. This is now ready to serve with your duck. Spoon any left over onto porridge or yoghurt, or add to a crumble filling the next day.