21 Dec 2008


Yet another Christmas cake! Here are my cakes from the last two years of postings.

I would like to wish you all a Happy Christmas and New Year. I will be back in the new year with lots more recipes and photographs.

Thank you to the scores of thousands of people from around the world, who have stopped by and looked at my blog. Also a huge thank you for leaving such generous comments.

Last weekend we went to our local coffee shop, to see if we could pick up any hints and tips in our continuing endeavour to make the perfect cup of coffee. This photograph was taken at Sadliers Coffee Lounge, which has been voted the UK's Best Coffee Shop. As a coffee lover this was the perfect start to Christmas!

14 Dec 2008


The sparkling clementines bathing in the Cointreau syrup look so pretty they can be served piled high in a glass bowl, without even considering making the cake. This is how I served them last year, and they are a very welcome dessert after all the rich food we had devoured!

The clementines are submerged in the Cointreau syrup for 24 hours before using and are simply turned now and again. The sparkling clementines in their syrup can be made in advance and popped into the freezer.

The cake was made with ready-to-eat apricots that had been simmered gently in clementine juice. A tender crumbed, moist cake that either keeps well or can be frozen. This cake is an all-in-one mixture and so no labour intensive cake making here!

This recipe is by Mary Cadogan who is now a food consultant for BBCGoodFood Magazine.


ISBN 056352149X - Page 122

Serves: 6

You will need: A buttered and base lined 20cm round cake tin.

For the cake: 100g ready-to-eat finely chopped dried apricots, 175ml clementine juice (6-8 clementines), 100g softened butter, 100g golden caster sugar, 2 eggs, 50g self-raising flour, 175g ground almonds, ½ tsp vanilla extract, 2 tbs slivered almonds, icing sugar for dusting.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/Gas 4/Fan 160°C. Place the apricots in a pan with the clementine juice. Bring to the boil, then gently simmer for 5 minutes. Leave to cool.
2. Beat the butter, sugar, eggs and flour in a bowl for 2 minutes until light and fluffy, then fold in the ground almonds, vanilla and apricots along with their juices.
3. Put the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the top. Scatter over the slivered almonds. Bake in the oven for approximately 40-50 minutes until firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 5 minutes, then turn out and cool on a wire rack. (Can be made up to 2 days ahead and stored in an airtight container).

For the Sparkling Clementines:

8 clementines, 175g golden caster sugar, 5 tablespoons Cointreau or Grand Marnier.

1. Squeeze the juice from 2 clementines and put to one side. Peel the remaining clementines and remove all the pith, place them in a heatproof bowl.
2. Put the sugar in a saucepan with 6 tablespoons cold water. Gently heat, stirring gently until the sugar has dissolved, then increase the heat, stop stirring and rapidly boil until the syrup turns light caramel, about 2-4 minutes.
3. Remove the pan from the heat and add the clementine juice and Cointreau. Return to the heat and stir until the caramel is smooth, then pour it over the whole clementines. Turn them in the syrup, then cover with a saucer to submerge them and leave in the fridge for up to 24 hours.

To Serve: Dust the cake with icing sugar. Slice the cake and put a wedge on each plate with a clementine. Spoon the syrup over the cake and fruit. Serve with Greek yogurt.

8 Dec 2008


I thought how striking the colours were in my Apricot, Almond and Cranberry cake and with some of the leftover fruits made this granola.

The granola is full of wonderful dried fruits, nuts and seeds, also it gave me an opportunity to use some of my freshly grated coconut I have squirreled away in the freezer.

The recipe makes a huge 1.5kg, but I simply halved the original recipe and stored the granola in a large kilner jar.

This seasonal granola would be wonderful as a gift, especially if you are to be a house guest over Christmas, and I couldn't think of a better way to start Christmas day than with a bowl of jewelled granola.

The recipe also comes under another title Crunchy Nutty Muesli and is in Rachel's Favourite Food ISBN 0717138984 this can be found on page 89.

Sometime ago I made granola and this too was a runaway success. As an added bonus for all of you Nigel Slater fans, I have given the recipe for his Two-Oat Muesli in the comment box!

Well, I seem to be on a roll now using up the cranberries and apricots. Pop back in a weeks time to see what else I've made!

After many reqests here is the recipe for Crunchy Nutty Granola.

Makes 1.5kg

125g butter, 150ml runny honey, 1 tsp vanilla extract, 500g rolled oats, 50g roughly chopped pecan nuts, 150g roughly chopped hazelnuts, 75g pumpkin seeds, 75g sunflower seeds, 50g golden linseeds, 100g desiccated coconut, 300g mixed dried fruit such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins, sultanas, cranberries (the larger fruit chopped)

1. Preheat the oven to 170C/325F/Gas3.
2. Place the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small saucepan on a low heat and gently melt together. Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and desiccated coconut together in a large bowl. Pour over the melted butter and honey mixture and stir really well to ensure all the dry ingredients are evenly coated.
3. Divide the mixture between two large baking trays and spread in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays, stirring every now and then. (If you transfer it into a deep bowl at this stage, while it is still warm, it will go soggy.)
4. Once completely cool, transfer to a large bowl and stir in your choice of dried fruits. Pour into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to two months.

30 Nov 2008

Coffee Anyone?

I mentioned we had a new coffee machine earlier this year. Our old coffee machine died and we decided to do some research for a few weeks and investigate our options.

There are some amazing forums for coffee lovers where you can get advice overload! They are a very useful source of information, especially if you are about to make a leap up the coffee machine ladder.

We learnt very fast from the forums, the coffee grinder is the most important piece of equipment, and we purchased a Rancilio Rocky Coffee Grinder. My husband really, really wanted to be the proud owner of a Rancilio Silvio coffee machine but as I explained to him, the machine has to be moved to the front of the work surface to be used and the Rancillio weighs approximately 14kg. We eventually decided to buy a Gaggia Classic coffee machine weighing in at 8kg.

A jug is needed to foam the milk, a Gaggia thermometer for checking the milk and last but not least, top quality freshly roasted coffee beans which we purchase from Hasbean .

You can see by the foam on the milk that we are getting better, but not yet to Barista standard!

We are very happy with our choices and occasionally go to our local coffee shop, which happily for us has been voted the UK's best coffee house! Here you get treated to excellent coffee, topped with latte art.

This week I went to the Good Food Show in Birmingham, and out of curiosity, asked for a demo on a top of the range fully automatic coffee machine. I can only say how disappointed I was, the milk was made up of huge bubbles and the coffee was dire. To make a good cup of coffee, passion and enthusiasm is needed, pressing a button simply just won't do!

23 Nov 2008


This cake could easily be made now, and frozen without it's icing, ready for Christmas. It is full of all things Christmassy, dried cranberries, apricots, ground almonds and orange. Making a Christmas cake isn't for everyone and we all know it's quite a time consuming task.

I decorated the cake with glace icing and then simply brushed the bay leaves and green grapes with egg white, dusted them with caster sugar and left them to dry. Even if you don't make the cake, frosted grapes are delicious!

I nearly forgot to say, if you do make this cake, don't put the mixture into a paper cake liner as I did, otherwise you will end up with cake liner marks on your cake and it really isn't a good look for a special occasion cake.

You can either make this cake in a 2lb loaf tin or halve the mixture and use two 1lb loaf tins. Either way, they need to be greased and lined.

For the cake:

175g butter, 175g caster sugar, 4 eggs, 300g self-raising flour, 100g dried cranberries, 200g chopped ready-to-eat apricots, 50g ground almonds, grated zest 1 orange.

1. Heat the oven to Gas 3, 160°C, 325°F.
2. Cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs adding a little of the flour if the mixture curdles. Stir in the flour with the cranberries, apricots, almonds and orange zest.
4. Dollop into the tin, smooth the top and bake for approximately 1½ hours(the 1lb loaf tins will take less time to cook), until golden, risen and firm to the touch. Allow to cool for 10 minutes before removing from the tin.

For the decoration:

1 orange, 100g caster sugar, 4-5 green grapes, 6 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons orange juice. Or alternatively, you can use a glace icing.

1. Put 2 tablespoons of orange juice and 2 tablespoons of the sugar into a small pan, boil for 2 minutes until syrupy. Add the remaining sugar, stir well then drizzle over the cake.
2. Decorate with the frosted grapes, bay leaves and curls of orange peel (this can be made by using a potato peeler and paring off one long strip of orange rind, cut the strip of orange rind into 3 or 4 strips and wind up tightly).

16 Nov 2008


'You Challenge Gordon Ramsay' is a new series in Olive Magazine where a reader challenges Gordon Ramsay to see if their recipe against his, in a blind test by three members of the Olive Magazine reader panel, matches up to Gordon's. Of course Gordon won, but only by one point!

The lemon tart has melted dark chocolate brushed over the cooked pastry case and this is then allowed to cool before adding the lemon filling. I chose not to use the chocolate because I wasn't too sure about messing about with a classic recipe. The purpose of the chocolate, although not written about in the recipe, is I presume to keep the pastry base from going soft. Next time I make the tart though, it will definitely be with the chocolate base!

The pastry can be made in the food processor, a quick whizz and it's done. The pastry is quite sticky and I decided to roll the pastry out between two sheets of cling film to make life easier.

If you decide to have a go at making this tart try not to over cook the filling, but leave it at the wobble stage in the centre.

When the tart had cooled I dusted it with icing sugar and then my husband ran an industrial blowtorch over the surface to give a brulee effect! You don't think I'm going to use that thing, do you?!!! If you scan down to the end of this posting you will see him having some brulee fun.

The filling had lots of lemon flavour and not too sweet, the pastry was very similar to shortbread. I'll definitely be making this again - but not this side of Christmas!

OLIVE MAGAZINE - October 2008 Page 61 The tart serves 8.

9 Nov 2008


My husband reminded me last night, British Sausage Week is from Monday 3rd November to Sunday,9th November.

Fortunately, quite a few of the butchers shops here are members of The Guild Q Butchers, they enter lots of competitions and seem to do really well. For instance, my local butcher is a gold medal winner for his pork sausage, year after year.

Whilst in Beckenham visiting family, we went to Villagers Sausages where every sausage imaginable can be bought. They have a very interesting website with press related articles, history and also lots of recipes, not forgetting that you can also order online.

The recipe I chose for British Sausage Week comes from the very talented cookery writer Annie Bell.

You will see from the photograph that my sausages are shall we say 'very well done'. I am a very fussy sausage eater, they have to be top quality and this is how I enjoy eating mine.

If you don't like your sausages as well cooked as mine, then by all means just show them the pan and brown the sausages lightly.

Only a small amount of red wine is used in this recipe, and unless you have got a bottle of red already opened, this can sometimes be a problem to the home cook. Maybe you have already come across Gourmet Classic seasoned cooking wines, these can be bought both in red and white. They have a screw top and can be kept in the store cupboard for up to three months after opening. I've seen these in both Waitrose and Sainsbury's.


ISBN 9781856268189 - Page 129

Serves: 4 people

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, 600g chipolatas, 300g peeled shallots, 1 tablespoon plain flour, 200ml red wine, 300ml chicken stock, 1 bay leaf, black pepper, 500g peeled and thinly sliced medium main crop potatoes.

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan180°C/Gas 6. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausages on both sides, doing this in two batches so as not to overcrowd the pan (I chose to grill mine).
2. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a 30 x 20cm roasting dish over a medium heat, add the shallots and fry until slightly golden. Sprinkle over the flour and stir, then pour over the red wine and chicken stock. Add the sausages, bay leaf and a little seasoning, then bring to the boil.
3. Toss the potato slices in a bowl with 1 tablespoon of oil (I microwaved my sliced potatoes to start the cooking process first) and lay them on top of the sausages. Season and bake for 40 minutes until the potatoes are lovely and crisp.


1 Nov 2008


This is one of our favourite lamb curries, it's ridiculously simple to make and perfect for a Friday or Saturday evening meal.

The star ingredient in the sauce is Patak's Korma Curry Paste with coconut and coriander. You can read about Patak's on their very informative site here where they list the ingredients, nutritional information and lots of other useful details about their products.

A couple of comments regarding the ingredients list, I always dry fry coriander seeds and then grind them in the pestle and mortar. Any remaining fresh ginger can be successfully frozen, and then grated into any future recipes directly from the freezer, (there is no need to remove the brown outer layer of the ginger).

I have slightly adapted the amount of sauce from the original recipe, we prefer plenty of sauce to go with our rice and naan bread.

This recipe freezes well and if you only need enough for two, the other half can be frozen for a rainy day.


ISBN 1740452259 - Page 146

Serves 4

500g minced lamb, 1 onion (finely chopped), 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1 teaspoon grated ginger, 1 finely chopped small chilli, 1 teaspoon garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 50g ground almonds, 2 tablespoons chopped coriander to garnish.

For the sauce: 1 tablespoon of oil, 1 finely chopped onion, 4½ tablespoons Korma curry paste, 1½ cans chopped tomatoes (600g), 180g thick natural yoghurt, 1½ teaspoons lemon juice.

1. Combine the lamb, onion, garlic, ginger, chilli, garam masala, ground coriander, ground almonds in a bowl. Shape into walnut size balls with your hands.
2. Heat a large non-stick frying pan and cook the koftas in batches until brown on both sides - they will not need to be cooked all through.
3. To make the sauce: heat the oil in a saucepan over low heat. Add the onion and cook for 8 minutes, or until soft and golden. Add the curry paste and cook until fragrant. Add the tomatoes and simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in the yoghurt (1 tablespoon at a time) and the lemon juice, stirring until combined.
4. Place the koftas in the tomato sauce. Cook, covered, over low heat for 20 minutes. Serve over steamed rice and garnish with the coriander.

19 Oct 2008


ISBN 9780718148584.

Following my posting for Chianti Baked Meatballs by Jo Pratt from her book In The Mood For Food, I dipped further into her book and have cooked a small selection of recipes.

Unfortunately, I am not able to put the recipes on, because it would take forever. I have only been able to find a link to one recipe, which is a shame.

Marshmallow Meringues with Mango and Passion Fruit.

These meringues were possibly the best I have ever made, we loved the crisp outside and the marshmallow centre. For the mango and passion fruit cream, I simply pureed a mango and swirled this into some sweetened Greek Yoghurt along with the passion fruit. This simple dessert was delicious and I loved the scented yoghurt.

Cherry & Almond Cake

It is National Baking Week from the 20th to the 26th October 2008 here in the UK and this is the recipe I have chosen, to celebrate everything that is so wonderful about baking.

Orange Caramel Yoghurt

A definite hit, but the oranges need to be segmented and not cut across into thin slices. If you get any horrible membrane from the orange then this will ruin the dessert.

Ginger & Banana Trifle

Wonderful - anything made with ginger cake is a hit with me! Just an assembly job using Grand Marnier to soak the ginger cake, stem ginger and bananas. I topped the trifle with whipping cream but I think the sharpness of creme fraiche would be better.

Sticky Maple Pears

I didn't have any maple syrup and so used a good honey instead. The recipe says to crumble amaretti biscuits over the pears, but if you do this then the presentation gets very messy.

Honey-Seared Salmon with Sesame Noodles

I confess to cheating on this one - I bought a bag of stir fry vegetables instead of the spinach, bean sprouts and springs onions - it still tasted great. Also, I added to this a sweet chilli and ginger sauce bought from Marks and Spencer! I have made this twice now and it's fabulous.

Cheese, Onion & Potato Pie

Oh dear! The potato was very sloppy due to the amount of milk required in the recipe. Also, for us there was far too much cheese. I used Red Leicester, which is a cheese I would always add to cheese and potato pie, purely for colour. I'll go back to this another time and adapt the recipe.

Extremely Simple Beef & Ale Casserole with Horseradish Dumplings

After the casserole had finished cooking, I tried the sauce but it really wasn't to my taste and so I added a few mushrooms, a tin of chopped tomatoes and a teaspoon of English Mustard. Also, the dumplings didn't have any suet in them, I'm sorry but suet dumplings always win hands down for me!

I also made Parmesan-crusted Chicken with Avocado Salad, but unfortunately no photograph for this one! This one was another great recipe.

On my 'to do' list from the book Roast Sea Bass with White Wine Potatoes and Vine Tomatoes and also Roast Chicken for Two In One Pan.

All of the recipes have turned out well in this book, and I know that I will return to some of them time and time again.

29 Sept 2008


Over the next few weeks, I have decided to cook a few recipes from Jo Pratt's wonderful book -
In the Mood for Food
ISBN 9780718148584
- page 122

There are six chapters in the book: In the Mood.....for Being Healthy, Something Naughty but Nice, Some Comfort, Being Lazy, Being Extravagant and Being Romantic.

The Chianti baked meatballs are light in texture with lots of flavour. The meatballs are cooked in a rich tomato, red wine and basil sauce. This is a one pot meal, cooked in the oven from start to finish. The only alteration I made to the recipe, was to leave out the olives from the meatball mixture - olives aren't a huge hit in this family. The basil leaves are out of my garden, only small leaves are left because garden creatures have destroyed all the other leaves!

You can serve the meatballs with pasta, or potato mixed with rosemary and olive oil, this can then be cooked in the oven with the meatballs.

The recipe can be found here on Nigella's site and is a recipe recommended by Nigella's Admin! I too, would recommend this recipe and I know it won't be long before my husband requests this again.

21 Sept 2008


This recipe came from a recent food magazine, and is an advertisement feature for Green Giant sweetcorn, encouraging us to use sweetcorn as one of our five-a-day.

The potato topping caught my attention. You simply put cubes of parboiled potato mixed with cheese, on top of the fish pie filling, and now, I don't think I will ever top my fish pie with mashed potato ever again!

It's recommended in the recipe to use a large 340g can of sweetcorn, that's fine if you want lots and lots of sweetcorn, but I thought a 198g can would be more sensible. Fortunately, this was the right decision and gave just the right amount of sweetcorn to the finished dish. Obviously, some frozen peas can be used instead of the sweetcorn.

If you are reading this posting son, next time you have made a fraught journey home late at night after a hard week at work, this tasty, comforting fish pie will make the journey home even more worthwhile!! PS. I haven't forgotten your request for a crumble.

Serves: 4 people

You will need: A large ovenproof buttered dish.

700g potatoes, 15g butter, 75g grated mature cheddar cheese, 300g skinless salmon fillets, 400g skinless cod (or other white fish), 6 spring onions, 198g can of sweetcorn or alternatively some frozen peas.

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/gas 5.
2. Peel and chop the potatoes into small chunks. Boil for 8 minutes until tender and then drain.
3. Melt in the butter and then stir in the grated mature cheddar cheese.
4. Poach the fish for 5 minutes then cut into small chunks. Place in a buttered ovenproof dish.
5. Scatter over the spring onions and the can of drained sweetcorn, or alternatively the frozen peas.

For the sauce:

400ml semi-skimmed milk, 4 tsp cornflour, 1 tsp vegetable stock, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley.

1, Blend a little of the milk with the cornflour. Heat the rest of the milk in a pan, add 1 tsp powdered vegetable stock and when it is almost simmering, stir in the blended cornflour, until the mixture thickens. Cook over a low heat for 1 minute, then add the chopped parsley.
2. Pour the sauce over the fish. Top with the cheesy potatoes and then cook for 35 minutes or until golden brown.

I have been fortunate enough to be awarded some awards from my fellow food blogging friends.

My friend Jan over at What Do I Want To Cook Today has passed to me a 'Friendship' award - thank you Jan!

The 'Brillante Weblog' award has been given to me from Jan of What Do I Want To Cook Today - once again, many thanks Jan! Also the same award from Rosie of Rosie Bakes a 'Peace' of Cake, and Cakelaw of Laws of the Kitchen - to both of you thank you.

I am passing the above two awards to all the food bloggers who have visited my site over the last two years - thank you.

14 Sept 2008


Whilst looking at Delia's site for bbq inspiration I came across this tart recipe. We had a bbq yesterday, and I served this alongside all of our usual meats and salads.

I used vine tomatoes which I had bought previously and picked a few thyme leaves out of the garden. The goat's cheese was in the fridge, the puff pastry in the freezer and so I was ready to go, go, go!

Lovely, lovely tart and it looked so summery too!

The recipe can be found here.


For dessert after a bbq fruit is always a favourite of ours, and this recipe can either be cooked on the bbq or in the oven.


ISBN 1845730038 - Page 113

Serves: 6

3 ripe nectarines, 1 large orange, ¼ teaspoon almond essence, 55g butter, Greek Yoghurt, 6 crushed amaretti biscuits.

1. Halve the nectarines and remove the stones. Take a large square of thick foil and stand each half, cut side up, on the foil. Alternatively, place the cut halves in a suitable dish.
2. Pare the rind from half the orange and cut into very thin strips. Place the orange strips into a bowl and pour boiling water over, leave to stand for 10 minutes.
3. Squeeze the juice from the orange and stir in the almond essence.
4. Into each nectarine half, put some of the orange juice and a piece of butter, followed by some drained strips of orange rind. Then fold the foil to make a sealed parcel. Or alternatively, cover the dish with foil.
5. Cook the parcels, seam side up, over a medium heat on the bbq for about 10 minutes - or alternatively cook at 180°C/Gas 4 for 15 to 30 minutes, until the fruit has softened, and the butter has melted.
6. Open the parcels and top the fruit with Greek Yoghurt and the crushed amaretti biscuits.

5 Sept 2008


Blackberries are now in the hedgerows and the best news - they are free! Where I live we have an endless supply, in the hedgerows on the canal paths.

Wild blackberries are one of my favourite fruits and you can make endless desserts with them. The BBCGoodFood site have 33 recipes you can make using blackberries. UKTV Food have some wonderful recipes too.

The larger blackberries in the photograph are cultivated ones from my own garden and they taste surprisingly good, and I have mixed these with some wild blackberries. A few years ago I bought some thornless blackberry plants and this year I've picked a bowlful of berries from them almost every day.

The shortcake recipe I used was disappointing, the texture was quite dense and they were a little on the heavy side.

Nigella's shortcakes, a recipe I have made lots of times, would be perfect and I will give the recipe below for Nigella's shortcakes and the blackberry compote.


ISBN 0701168889 - Page 69

You will need: 1 baking tray, greased, 6.5cm round cutter

For the shortcakes:

325g plain flour, ½ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 5 tablespoons caster sugar, 125g frozen unsalted butter, 1 large egg beaten, 125ml single cream, 1 lightly beaten egg white.

1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/Gas mark 7
2. Mix the flour, salt, baking powder and 3 tablespoons of the sugar in a bowl. Grate the butter into these dry ingredients and use your fingertips to finish crumbling the butter into the flour.
3. Whisk the egg into the cream, and pour into the flour mixture a little at a time, using a fork to mix. You may not need all of the eggy cream to make the dough come together so cautiously.
4. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and roll gently to a thickness of about 2cm. Dip the cutter in flour and cut out - you should get 8 in all.
5. Place the shortcakes about 2.5 cm apart on the baking sheet, brush the tops with egg white and sprinkle with the remaining 2 tablespoons of caster sugar.
6. You can now, if necessary, cover and refrigerate them for up to 2 hours.
7. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden brown and let them cool for a short while on a wire rack.
8. Meanwhile, make the filling.


ISBN 0091905575 - Page 179

For the filling:

250g blackberries, 1½ tablespoon caster sugar, grated zest and juice of 1 orange, 150ml double cream.

1. Place half of the blackberries in a saucepan, add the sugar, orange zest and juice. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for a few minutes. The fruit needs to be tender and hold its shape. Remove from the heat and leave to cool.
2. Beat the double cream until it forms soft peaks. Split the shortcakes in two and fill with cream and fresh blackberries. Drizzle over the compote and serve.

27 Aug 2008


I have to admit, I'm not a huge fan of quiche lorraine but my husband loves it, and so with this in mind, I decided to try yet another recipe. This time the recipe came from the Hairy Bikers.

We loved this quiche, it was bursting with flavour and would be perfect for feeding a crowd. It's fairly rich and so you could get away with serving small portions.

The photograph shows I have overcooked the quiche (the filling went past the 'wobble' stage), this was in part due to the recipe not being specific about the tin size - it says one large tin! I used a 23cm tin and it really only needs a 20cm tin to give a deep quiche.

A green salad to serve with the quiche, as they suggest, would be perfect. For us though it was quiche, green salad and coleslaw.

The coleslaw is a Jamie Oliver recipe and I know I will make this time and time again. Much much better than those small tubs from the supermarket. Jamie's recipe makes a huge bowlful.

18 Aug 2008


This is my entry for the Waiter, there's something in my.......picnic basket! Our host for this event is Johanna over at The Passionate Cook.
It isn't exactly picnic in the park weather in my part of the country, here in the UK. More like picnic in the car weather! Even if you wrapped up and was brave enough to set out for a picnic, you would still end up eating it in the car - the weather has either rained all day or has teased us throughout, with black clouds looming above us.

When I saw these fruit cakes I didn't really associate them with picnics - but this year, perhaps we need something more substantial to take out with us for the day.

The recipe comes from Jill Dupleix who is a food writer, she often makes television appearances here in the UK, on programmes such as Market Kitchen and Saturday Cooks. Jill's recipes can be found in food magazines and she has also written several cookbooks. In 2002 Jill received the British Cookery Journalist of the Year Award from the British Guild of Food Writers.

My food blogging friends might be interested to know that Jill did all the photography for three of her books, Simple Food, Very Simple Food and Totally Simple Food.

14 Aug 2008


To be more precise the recipe title should read - Chorizo and goat's cheese puff pastry slice with broccoli, mushroom and tomato - phew!

I couldn't get any chorizo from the butchers, and because I'm a very fussy meat eater, I replaced the chorizo with Dolcelatte cheese.

The recipe oven settings and timings are suspect. I tried the settings as suggested, even though I doubted them, and they were just too slow. The recipe settings are 180°C/fan160°C/gas 4 - by all means try this - but I think you will have to turn your oven up.

The September issue of Delicious Magazine is full of wonderful recipes and this is one of Paul Merrett's, who is a professional chef. He took on an allotment, created some dishes using his produce and has written a book - Using the Plot:Tales of an Allotment Chef.

The slice was delicious.

Serves: 4

You will need:

500g good-quality puff pastry, 4 fresh chorizo sausages (I used some cubes of dolcelatte cheese), 100g (16) small broccoli florets, 8 thickly sliced button mushrooms, 120g (4 slices) goat's cheese log (skinned and broken into small pieces), 8 halved cherry tomatoes, 4 tablespoons grated Cheddar.

1. Roll out the puff pastry to a 30cm x 30cm square about 5mm thick. Cut this square of pastry into 4 smaller squares and crimp the edges with your fingers. Using a fork, prick the pastry bases. Place them on baking paper on a baking sheet, then pop them in the fridge to rest for about 20 minutes.
2. Preheat the oven to 200°C/Fan180°C/Gas 6.
3. If you are using the chorizo sausages, skin them and break them up into bite-size chunks. Blanch the broccoli in boiling water for 30 seconds, then refresh under the cold tap.
4. Arrange the chorizo(if using), broccoli, mushrooms, goat's cheese and tomatoes on the pastry bases. Make sure that each base is evenly covered. I brushed the vegetables with olive oil, then sprinkle over the grated cheese and the Dolcelatte cheese, if using.
5. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden brown around the edges. Serve warm.

Note: I crimped the edges of the pastry but somehow it uncrimped itself!

6 Aug 2008


Is this a cake or is it a pudding? It's both, which makes this cherry crumble cake a wonderful double act. Great to eat with either a cup of tea or coffee (in my case always the coffee option). Or, how about warming a slice in the microwave for a few seconds and then serving with a dollop of creme fraiche.

My local coffee shop is a fusion of East meets West. The West is the fabulous range of home made cakes. An entire counter bursting to the seams houses glass cakes stands on which the cakes sit, each topped with domed lids. There are butter cakes, orange butter cakes, carrot cake, Maltezer cake, bakewell tart, cherry crumble cake, Bailey's Cheesecake, friands, brownies, paradise slices, Molly cake, the list goes on and on.

The first time I used this coffee shop and saw all of these wonderful cakes, I thought my favourite cake recipes had jumped off the cookery book pages and landed in front of me, I recognized all of them.

The lady who bakes the cakes uses recipes from Australian Women's Weekly, Nigella Lawson and Annie Bell.

My friend chose the cherry crumble cake and said it was amazing. After arriving home I quickly looked up the recipe, rushed out, bought the cherries and baked this cake. Not a pretty cake as a whole but when you slice it, it then comes into it's own, just look at those beautiful cherries sitting on top of the cake layer and topped with the crumble. Another wonderful cake recipe by the very talented Annie Bell.

Annie Bell has written some wonderful cookery books and writes regularly for The Mail on Sunday's YOU Magazine.


ISBN 1856266141 - Page 50

You will need: 1 round 20cm cake tin 9cm deep with a removable base.

For the cake:

100g diced unsalted butter, 100g golden caster sugar, 1 medium egg, 90ml milk, 125g self-raising flour (sifted), ½ teaspoon baking powder, finely grated zest of 1 lemon, 250g pitted black cherries.

For the crumble:

90g plain flour, 50g golden caster sugar, ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon, 90g chilled and diced unsalted butter, 25g organic porridge oats.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/Gas Mark 6.
2. Butter the cake tin.
3. To make the cake, cream the butter and sugar in a food processor until light and fluffy. Add the egg, then incorporate the milk, flour, baking powder and lemon zest. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and smooth the surface.
4. To make the crumble, combine the flour, sugar, cinnamon and butter in a food processor and whizz until the mixture just starts to form large crumbs (or do this by hand). Transfer the mixture from the food processor to a bowl and stir in the oats.
5. Scatter the cherries over the surface of the cake, top with the crumble mixture and bake for 55-60 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Run a knife around the edge of the cake.

To serve: It can be served warm, about 30 minutes out of the oven, or at room temperature.

23 Jul 2008


I love ginger cake and came across this recipe from Australian Women's Weekly. To quote from the book 'it's the fabulous fusion of flavours that makes these little cakes unique'.

The tin they were cooked in, I believe, is called a 6-hole mini fluted pan or you could use a texas-style muffin pan which is 180ml capacity. You can buy these from eBay or TK Maxx. I'm sure other online stores also sell these.

I greased the mini fluted pan with Cake Release from Lakeland, this helps them to come out of the pan cleanly.


ISBN 1863964118 - Page 225

Makes: 12

You will need: 2 six-hole mini fluted pans or 2-six hole texas muffin pans, well greased.

250g butter (softened), 330g dark brown sugar, 3 medium eggs, 90g golden syrup, 300g plain flour, 1½ teaspoons bicarbonate of soda, 2 tablespoons ground ginger, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 170g coarsely grated apple (unpeeled weight 200g - a large apple or 1½ average size apples), 160ml hot water.

1. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Beat the butter and sugar in a small bowl with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beat until well combined between additions. Stir in syrup.
3. Transfer mixture to medium bowl, stir in sifted dry ingredients, then apple and the water.
4. Divide mixture among prepared pans, smooth tops.
5. Bake in oven for about 25 minutes. Stand cakes in pan 5 minutes, then turn onto wire racks to cool.
6. Drizzle lemon icing over cakes.

Lemon Icing

320g icing sugar, 2 teaspoons softened butter, 80ml lemon juice (approx 2 lemons).

Stir icing sugar into medium heatproof bowl, stir in butter and juice to form a paste. Place bowl over small saucepan of simmering water, stir until icing is a pouring consistency.

16 Jul 2008


I was inspired to make this whilst looking through the August 2008 Sainsbury's Magazine. Nigel Slater, ice cream and raspberries - perfect.

Unfortunately, I had a problem with this recipe. If you eat this straight from the freezer the cream ice and raspberries are frozen solid. If you thaw it for a while, the cream ice melts and reverts back to its original consistency and the raspberries remain frozen.

We served ours semi-melted and had lots of extra raspberries with it.

Serves: 6

You will need: a 10 x 16cm loaf tin, 9cm deep, the base and sides lined with clingfilm.

75g caster sugar, 3 large eggs (separated), a few drops of vanilla extract or a knife-point of vanilla seeds, 275ml double cream, 250g raspberries.

1. Add the sugar to the egg yolks and beat until thick and pale. Stir in the vanilla. Whist the cream until thick, but still able to slide a little when the bowl is moved from side to side. You don't want it to be stiff. Fold the cream into the egg yolk and sugar.
2. Crush the berries with a fork. Just mash them lightly.
3. In a clean bowl and with a clean whisk, beat the egg whites until stiff. fold them tenderly into the mixture, followed by the crushed raspberries. Pour into the lined tin. Tap gently to level the mixture then cover loosely with clingfilm and place in the freezer for a good 4-5 hours until frozen.
4. To serve, slice with a heavy, sharp knife into thick pieces.

Note: this recipe contains raw eggs.

11 Jul 2008


This is one of Jamie's 'Feed Your Family for a Fiver' recipes from Sainsbury's Try Something New Today.

They were very easy to make and instead of my usual method of cooking fish cakes in butter and oil in a frying pan, these were cooked in the oven with only a drizzle of oil over them and obviously this is a much healthier option.

The basics salmon was surprisingly good, and I wouldn't hesitate to use this again in recipes requiring cooked salmon. Make sure you go over the salmon though for the odd few bones because you wouldn't want your children to have any of these in their mouths!

I didn't follow Jamie's salad to the letter because I had other salad ingredients in the fridge to use up, but I give the recipe below.

On another note - I still prefer to fry my fish cakes for extra taste and colour, also I always add some chopped parsley to the potato and salmon.

Nigel Slater says tinned salmon makes 'deeply flavoured fish cakes'. He has written a charming piece about fish cakes for Waitrose.

As a child we always had fish cakes made with tinned salmon and mashed potatoes. They were mostly served with baked beans and then we used to prod open the fish cakes and pour malt vinegar inside of them! That meal was always one of my favourites as a child. Does anyone else remember having this dinner or a variation of it? I would love to know.

Here is Jamie's recipe:

Serves: 4

You will need: 350g basics salmon fillets, 4 baking potatoes, 1 lemon, 1 egg

1. Place the salmon fillets in a metal colander over a pan of simmering water. cover and steam for 5 minutes.

2. Peel the 4 potatoes, cut each into about 8 pieces and boil until soft. Mash and leave to cool. Remove any skin from the salmon, flake and mix with the potatoes, a lightly whisked egg, lemon zest and some salt and pepper. Roll the mixture into 8 fish cakes.

3. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the fish cakes and cook on a baking tray in a preheated oven for 15 minutes at 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6 or until crispy on the outside and heated through.

For the salad: Round lettuce, cucumber portion, 2 tomatoes, 1 red onion.

1. Quarter the heart of the lettuce and set aside.

2. Chop all the remaining washed salad ingredients, including the outer lettuce leaves.

3. Place in a salad bowl.

For the dressing: Dijon mustard, juice of the lemon, olive oil, salt and pepper.

1. Make a well in the middle of the prepared salad and squeeze in the juice of the lemon. Add a dash of olive oil, a spoonful of Dijon mustard and the salt and pepper.

2. Mix through the salad.

3. Serve the fish cakes with the salad and quartered lettuce heart.

26 Jun 2008


My husband loves being 'BBQ Man' on Saturday evenings in the summer and last weekend he knew from Metcheck.com that the weather forecast was for rain and gale force winds, but he still insisted the weather would turn out OK.

We go through this nearly every weekend in the summer and then the planned outdoor BBQ ends up being cooked indoors. Although, to be fair, we have had a handful of BBQ's so far this year.

Last year he put his foul weather gear on, put the garden parasol up and proceeded to BBQ!!! How's that for sheer determination. I have to admit though we did have visitors, and he thought he would put on a 'bit of a show'.

The pineapple cooked really well on the grill pan! The sauce was delicious and not too rich. The pineapple was a little difficult to eat, and I think after cooking, the pineapple should be cut across the width down to the skin, then you won't have to fight with it so much!

Delia Smith has a wonderful recipe for coconut ice cream which would go very well with the pineapple.


ISBN 1841728233 - Page 192

Serves: 6

For the rum butter sauce:

100g soft brown sugar, 100g unsalted butter, 100ml dark rum, 1 medium pineapple with leafy top if possible, cut length ways into wedges and core removed.

1. Put the sugar, butter and rum in a small saucepan and heat until the sugar dissolves.
2. Brush a little of the mixture over the pineapple wedges, then cook them on a preheated barbecue or on a stove-top grill pan for 2 minutes on each side until charred and tender.
3. Serve with ice cream and remaining rum sauce.

18 Jun 2008


I have no idea why this is called passion cake - can anyone help on this one?

In my previous post, I made mini coconut loaves with fresh coconut and after wading through countless recipes that needed coconut decided on this recipe, perhaps in part because it only needs 28g of my precious coconut!

The cake will cut much better straight from the fridge and can then be brought up to room temperature for eating. If you like lots of topping then I would double up on the ingredients. You can see from the photograph it looks as though I've been mean with the topping. Unfortunately, I didn't have any mascarpone cheese left to make more.

I'll definitely be making this cake again, it was crumbly, moist and full of flavour and the unusual topping went perfectly with the cake.

I made this cake especially for my son who came home for the weekend and he said he thought it was amazing. In fact, we all thought it was amazing!

Sue Lawrence, the author of this book, won Masterchef in 1991 and was the President of the Guild of Food Writers from 2004 to 2007.


ISBN 1856262669 - Page 70

You will need: 18cm loose-bottomed, base-lined cake tin.

For the cake: 170g butter, softened, 170g soft light brown sugar, 3 medium eggs, 198g wholemeal self-raising flour, ½ teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 28g desiccated coconut, 57g raisins, 170g carrots (peeled weight) finely grated, 57g chopped walnuts.

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4.
2. Cream the butter and sugar together with a mixer on low speed until light and fluffy. Then beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well mixed.
3. Sift the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a bowl. Using a metal spoon, gently fold into the creamed mixture, followed by the coconut, raisins, carrots and walnuts. Mix gently but thoroughly.
4. Turn into the tin and level the top. Bake for about 1 hour, or until a fine skewer comes out clean when inserted into the centre of the cake.
5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin for at least 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the topping: 2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese, 2 tablespoons natural yoghurt, 2 teaspoons runny honey, 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts.

1. To make the topping, beat together the mascarpone cheese, yoghurt and honey until smooth.
2. Spread over the top of the cold cake and sprinkle with chopped nuts.

The cake can be frozen completely iced. Store in the refrigerator after defrosting.

5 Jun 2008


I decided to make my own desiccated and shredded coconut, and after carrying out this laborious task, made these delightful little coconut cakes.

ISBN 0600613569 - Page 56

Makes: 8 cakes

I have slightly adapted this recipe. The original recipe used passion fruit icing and the recipe for this is given below.

You will need: 125g softened unsalted butter, 150g caster sugar, 2 eggs, 125g self-raising flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 100g desiccated coconut, 2 tablespoons milk.

For the icing: 125g sifted icing sugar, 1-2 tablespoons passion fruit pulp.

1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas 3.
2. Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process for 1 minutes or until evenly blended.
3. Oil and base-line an 8-hole mini-loaf tin. or 12 hole muffin tray. Divide the mixture equally into the tin and bake for 30-35 minutes until risen and firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then transfer the cakes to a wire rack to cool.

To make the passion fruit icing:

Beat the ingredients together until smooth. Put the cakes, still on the wire rack, over a large plate and pour over the passion fruit icing, allowing it to drizzle down the sides of the cakes. Leave to set.

For the alternative icing:

1.250g instant royal icing, 1-2 tablespoon Malibu and enough water to make a smooth, runny paste that will ice the top of the cakes well.
2.Coat the cakes with icing and decorate with fresh shredded coconut.


Delia Smith on her website gives instructions for this 'operation'. It's definitely a job to do on a rainy day. A word of warning here, don't smash the coconut to within an inch of its life, or you will end up with small shards of coconut that take forever to peel (like I did!).

You will also need a fairly hardy food processor to make the shredded coconut because the coconut is quite tough.

After you have either desiccated or shredded the coconut, place in a ziplock bag and pop into the freezer. It freezes beautifully and takes only moments to defrost.

Never again after tasting fresh coconut will you ever be tempted to buy something out of a bag.
Another plus is that the coconut isn't 'sweetened' - pure bliss.

The coconut essence in the photograph can be purchased from Jane Asher and I use this in cake batter, icings etc.

27 May 2008


"A chef called Ben, who used to work with Nick Nairn's good friend Phil Vickery, created this fab curry". The original recipe is apparently from Phil Vickery's book, Simply Food, and Nick Nairn tells us that he makes this recipe "when I'm in the mood for a quick curry fix".

I love home cooked curry and this recipe is full of amazing flavours without being too hot.

Instead of the canned coconut milk, I use powdered coconut milk by Maggi, and all you do is measure an amount out according to the packet instructions, then add warm water and stir to give coconut milk. I buy mine from the Asian stall in my local market unfortunately, I haven't seen it in a supermarket.


ISBN 0563487046 - Page 108

Serves: 8 (but can easily be scaled down).

You will need:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
900g boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 3cm cubes
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tablespoon grated fresh root ginger
1 tablespoon plain flour
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon garam masala
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chilli powder
400g can chopped tomatoes
400g can coconut milk
450ml chicken stock
4 tablespoons mango chutney
250g baby spinach leaves, stalks removed
200g Greek-style yoghurt
freshly ground sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
boiled rice and naan bread, to serve

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the vegetable oil in a large pan and add the chicken cubes. Quickly fry the cubes until lightly browned all over. Remove from the heat and drain on kitchen paper.
2. Add the remaining oil to the pan, together with the onions, garlic and ginger, and cook gently for a few minutes until softened and golden brown. Add the flour and spices and cook for a few more minutes.
3. Add the tomatoes and coconut milk and return the chicken cubes to the pan. Add just enough stock to cover them, scrape any bits from the bottom of the pan and stir well. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. Lastly, stir in the chutney and add the spinach. Cook for a couple of minutes until the spinach has just wilted, and then stir in the yoghurt and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with some boiled rice and naan bread. Delicious.