Eat Hackney Cookbook

Here at yeah! Hackney, we applaud people doing things because they love them and even better if they are helping others in the process. One such person is Helena Smith from Eat Hackney. I caught up with her to find out about her Eat Hackney cookbook project.


Gujarati Rasoi stall at Broadway Market

What is Eat Hackney?

Eat Hackney is a blog about food and community. Rather than being a restaurant review site, it’s about the people behind restaurants, cafes, food shops and community projects in Hackney – where they come from, and what they like to cook and eat. I always ask people to contribute their favourite recipes.

Who is behind it?

I’m Helena Smith, a travel writer and photographer. I travel a lot for work, but it struck me that Hackney is so diverse I could make a world food tour within the borough itself. I’m really enjoying that journey…

What is the Eat Hackney cookbook?

The Eat Hackney Cookbook is a 60 page recipe book, with favourite recipes from some of the best cooks in Hackney!

What inspired you to create it?

Having blogged for a couple of years I’ve built up a resource of local recipes, and I’d like to share them more widely. I’m happy with the thought that these recipes come from our borough, and not from celebrity chefs.


Zoe and helper, Zoe’s Ghana Kitchen

How have you sourced your recipes?

As well as using recipes from my blog, I’ve asked people from the two charities I’m supporting to contribute. So far, volunteer cooks from the Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless have provided tasty recipes for Sri Lankan fish curry, and Middle Eastern saffron chicken.

Why Hackney?

Hackney is enjoying a food revolution, with wonderful independent restaurants, cafes and food shops opening all the time. At the same time there is deprivation in the borough, and it’s good to be aware of the people here who don’t have enough food.

Cafe Oto copy

Soli Zardosht cooking at Cate OTO

You are hoping to raise money for some charities, tell us more about them.

The Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless both have food as a central component of what they do, so the connection with them has been very natural. Between them they feed over 100 homeless and vulnerable people in Hackney each week. Alongside food they offer warm support and respect for service users – a safe space which provides some continuity for people who otherwise can feel excluded and ignored.

You have chosen a recipe to share with our readers, why this one?

This tomato tarte is from Lucie Galand, who is the cook at North London Action for the Homeless (as well as being an artist). It’s a classic French recipe, and allows for an artistic flourish with its twirl of tomatoes (see below for the recipe)

Anything else you’d like to add?

The Cookbook will be launched with a party at the end of September – more details to come on twitter (@eathackney) and on my blog. And then I’ll be selling the Cookbook in local shops and at market stalls.

I’m asking friends and local businesses to support the Cookbook project. I’m fundraising for the print run, so that all the money raised from sales will go to direct to the charities. Bouchon Fourchette, E5 Bakehouse,L’Epicerie@56, Spence Bakery and lots of kind individuals have offered support. If you’d like to help, go to You’ll get a credit in the Cookbook, and a big thanks from Eat Hackney, the Hackney Migrant Centre and North London Action for the Homeless.

Tarte à la tomate

Tart copy


  • 100 g butter
  • 75 ml cold water
  • 200 g plain flour
  • 2 tbsp whole grain mustard
  • 4 or 5 ripe tomatoes
  • 100 g cheese (gruyère, comté
  • or emmental)
  • fresh thyme
  • olive oil
  • black olives (optional)

To make the pastry:

Melt the butter. Add cold water and flour (don’t mix/stir too much).

Spread the dough in a pie dish with your fingers. Leave in the fridge for 20 minutes. Flatten the base with your
fingers, and prick the bottom with a fork.

Heat the oven to 200°C and bake blind for 10 minutes (to bake blind, line the pastry with tin foil and weigh it down
with dried beans or ceramic weights). Allow the pastry base to cool and then spread with mustard.

To make the filling:

Cover the mustard with a layer of cheese. Arrange the tomatoes on top in  a spiral. Drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with fresh thyme.
Season with salt and pepper.

Bake for 15–20 minutes. Top with black olives and serve.

All photos by Eat Hackney


  1. Sounds brilliant, can’t wait to get my teeth into those recipes… literally!

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