Bring me my spear

Bring me my spear

Not quite burning gold but purple sprouting broccoli is edible treasure for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Early spring is far from a purple patch for chefs and gardeners; the brassicas are mostly over, the root vegetables might store well but quite frankly we’re getting bored; the game season long since finished, mussels are off the menu but lobster and crab really aren’t about much yet and asparagus is still a good few weeks away; but all is not lost, there is one glorious vegetable to savour.

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Margarita time

Margarita time

Precious downtime from the stove in his busy kitchen means easy comfort food for Jonny Nicholson, Chef – Proprietor of The Sail Loft in Southwold

This month I thought I would take it easy or rather you might with a favourite pizza recipe. It is perfect for nights on the sofa in front of a good film, for the kids on a sleepover, for a light lunch al fresco with salad, and for whenever you feel like taking it easy in the kitchen. Pizzas are the easiest dish to do in a hurry as there are so many cooks’ cheats you can use or you can make the tomato sauce and bake the bases ahead. Below is my idea of a perfect pizza but if you don’t have the time to make the ragù or the dough, there are lots of ready-made alternatives. For the sauce, you can use simple tomato and garlic purée and/or basil pesto (green or red both work well) and for the bases, thinly-cut baguette horizontally is delicious as are naan or pitta breads. You’ll see I make the basic margarita recipe and then top it with raw ingredients, this keeps the flavour and texture in the lovely ham and olives but if you prefer it all baked together, be my guest.

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Man-size happiness!

Man-size happiness!

Spoil your Dads and Grandads this Fathers’ Day with a proper burger, says Jonny Nicholson, chef-owner of The Sail Loft in Southwold

Fast food joints might be obviously quick and easy and the kids love them of course. But whilst their pretty adverts try to convince us how authentic their take-aways taste and other than being convenient on a long journey, I do try and avoid them.

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The Food of Love

The Food of Love


All it’s all about shared indulgence come February 14 for Jonny Nicholson of The Bell At Sax’, Saxmundham

Perhaps every day should be Valentine’s Day, not just one day when we celebrate Cupid and his proverbial arrow, but I guess the heartfelt expressions and good intentions on the big day make us appreciate our loved ones even more all year round.

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Pheasant Tikka Masala - Warm and Comforting

A chill in the air means central heating food for Jonny Nicholson, Chef-Proprietor of The Sail Loft

I’d say that summer is officially over, but it saddens me to declare that meteorological partypooper. Rain has really stopped play lately, but it does mean we retreat inside for a bit of what the Danes would call ‘hygge’ and start spending lots of time in the kitchen (pronounced hoo-ga, well kind-of, perhaps you need a hint of a Scandinavian accent too!). Denmark is up there as one of the world’s happiest countries apparently, but I don’t think Suffolk is far behind personally… There isn’t a direct translation of ‘hygge’ in English, this super-sensory soul-satisfying word is a feeling, an inner glow and a comforting sense of place and satisfaction. At this time of year as that autumnal cool envelops us, it is great to be out foraging, wrapped-up warm, seeking out some treasured fungi or hedgerow fruits, or wandering around your local farmers’ market, snaffling up some goodies from an artisan grower or producer.

Of course, October is the real start to the game season when feathered and furred wild food comes a-plenty to my kitchen door and features heavily on our warming seasonal menus. Nothing is quite ‘hyggeligt’ as a good curry cosied-up in front of the fire with your loved one and family on a cold, damp evening.

So for your enjoyment and more than a little ‘hygge’ for your supper, how about combining local, fresh game and curry, perfect for an early autumn treat!?

Enjoy, Jonny

The Sail Loft, Ferry Road, Southwold IP18 6HQ
Our beachside café-bar-restaurant, proudly using local, seasonal, Suffolk ingredients – find us by Southwold’s dunes near the campsite and lifeboat station.
W:   T: 01502 725713

Phone to book for our daily specials: Monday Madness – two courses for £10; Curry-tastic Tuesday; Wednesday Burger Bonanza; Thursday Live Music; Friday Steak Night

Pheasant Tikka Masala

Now you can make your own paste for your take on Britain’s favourite curry, it is far from difficult but if time is pressing, just find a good quality ready-made one from a decent supermarket or deli. To be honest, if you aren’t going to toast and grind your own whole spices, a jar can actually have fresher flavours and more zing. That old ground cumin lingering in the larder with an expiry date of a few years-back is really not going to taste of much more than bitter dust by now. Googling online is a good source for a recipe to make your own whole spice tikka masala paste, type in ‘jamie oliver easy curry pastes’ for one of the simplest.

This sweet nutty curry cries out for golden pulao rice or a simple flatbread. If you like more vegetables alongside, a potato dish like sag aloo or aloo gobi with spinach or cauliflower works very well.

(serves 4)

Local rapeseed oil

1 large red onion

2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

1 inch piece of root ginger, peeled and grated

1 (optional) red chilli, deseeded and finely-chopped

Small bunch fresh coriander, split into stems and leaves

2 heaped tbsp good tikka masala paste

4 pheasant breasts, skinned and cut into chunks

2 handfuls ripe baby tomatoes or 1 tin

150ml coconut milk

1 tbsp caster sugar

Flaked almonds (optional)

In a hot lidded sauté pan, heat up a good drizzle of oil, then add the onions and start to stir-fry over a medium heat. As the onions soften and tinge golden on the edges after a few minutes, add the garlic, ginger, chilli (if using) and chopped coriander stalks. Continue frying until starting the onion mixtures start to dry and brown for another few minutes. Add in the tikka paste and the pheasant, turn up the heat to medium-hot and fry to get some good colour on the meat, whilst stirring for around 10 minutes.


Season well, add the tomatoes, breaking them with your fingers as they drop into the pan. Pour in the coconut milk and the sugar, stir and bring to a simmer. Turn down to low, cover and cook for about 15 – 20 minutes until the meat is tender. Serve in hot bowls with shredded coriander leaf and almonds (if using) sprinkled on top.