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Recipe: Waffles

6 Feb
Picture of a waffle

Don’t think about the calories…

It turns out Bird’s Eye weren’t fibbing when they told us all in the 80s that waffles are waffley-versatile. They are incredible for breakfast, for dinner, sweet, savory, sweet AND savory.

Truly, the only downside is that they compel me to consume a week’s allowance of butter in one sitting and they don’t seem to go especially well with veg. That aside, they’re fun, filling, freezable. All the ‘Fs’ basically. What more do you want?

To buy (for 6):

*Well you’ll need a waffle maker (mine’s a Gordon Ramsey one and is dead easy to use)  *250g plain flour   *1 dessert spoon of baking powder  *2 tablespoons caster sugar   *1 teaspoon of salt   *2 eggs   *450ml milk   *2 tablespoons vegetable oil   *spray oil   *toppings of your choice (I love bacon, maple syrup and M&S salted caramel sauce… not at the same time..although..)

To make:


Where the magic happens.

1. In a big bowl mix the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt.

2. Next mix the wet ingredients together – the eggs, milk and oil – and add this to the dry ingredients then mix until a smooth batter.

3. Heat your waffle maker as per the instructions and spray generously with oil.

4. Fill your waffle-maker to an appropriate level with the waffle batter, seal and cook for as long as you need (around 5 minutes in the case of a Gordon Ramsey waffle-maker).

5. Carefully open your waffle maker and gently ease the waffle out using tongs.

6. Serve the waffles so they’re hot and crispy and drowning in your favourite topping. You might want to serve alongside Buffalo chicken wings for a true Deep South experience or, if you’re about to run a marathon and need to carbo-load or don’t care much about debauched gluttony, try adding chopped-up cooked bacon to the waffle-mix AND popping a few rashers of cooked bacon on top. Hog-tastic.


Raspberry and Almond Cake and Cherry Bakwell mini-cakes

29 Jul

Pop the kettle on…


It’s been forever since I shared a recipe with you and I hope you aren’t too miffed. My time was swallowed, almost in it’s entirety, by my wedding which took place in June.  The last months have been hectic. There were playlists to compile, bunting to sew, table names to cross-stitch, vows to practice, flowers to pick, dresses to squeeze into, booze to buy, invites to post..  and thank goodness it was all worth it. What a day – I’m still on cloud nine. Following a mini-moon on the Isle of Wight, where the food was local, sustainable and delicious by the way, we’re in the middle of few weeks wait until we head off, in August, for a mega-moon roadtrip in the USA. It’s going to be epic… and very tasty. I’ll let you know what I eat!

In the meantime, here are a couple of easy recipes for cake that goes nicely with a cup of tea. The best kind of cake, right? I baked them this weekend in between walking my Godmother’s dog Lucy along with my Mum, Godmother and new husband (still feels weird) in the beautiful countryside; and after a long walk in the hills and sunshine this cake will recharge your batteries.

Almond and Raspberry Cake (serves 8 – 10)

You will need:

* 140g ground almonds   * 140g unsalted butter, soft   * 140g caster sugar   * 140g self-raising flour   * 2 large eggs   *1tsp vanilla extract   *250g raspberries   *2 tbsp flaked almonds

Lovely Lucy

To make:

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas mark 4 and line a deep 20cm cake tin.  In a food processor, by hand or by a hand-held whisk combine the ground almonds, butter, sugar, flour, vanilla extract and eggs until well-combined.

2. Spread half of the mix over the cake tin and smooth over the top.  Scatter the raspberries over the mixture and then dollop the remaining cake mixture on top and spread to cover the fruit. I used my fingertips to do this.

3. Scatter flaked almonds on top of the cake and then bake for about 50 minutes or until the cake is golden and doesn’t wibble if you shake the tin.  Cool and remove from the tin. Enjoy.


Cherry and Almond Mini-cakes (makes about12)

* 60g ground almonds   * 75g butter   * 75g sugar   * 75g self-raising flour   * splash of milk   * 2 large eggs   * a couple of handfuls of glace cherries   * small splash of vanilla extract   *12 flaked almonds (optional)

Dinky little cake.. so why stop at one?

1. Pre-heat the oven to 190OC/ 170oC fan and pop your paper cases on a tray.  Combine the flour, ground almonds, flour, sugar, eggs, vanilla extract, milk and butter and whizz with an electric whisk, by hand or in a food processor.

2. Tip the finely chopped glace cherries into the mixture and give it a nice stir before dolloping the cake mixture evenly into the cake cases.

3. Pop in the oven for around 10-15 minutes until the cakes are golden, have risen and are springy but cooked through.  Leave to cool or heat whilst still warm with a cool glass of milk or a big mug of tea.


Recipe: Deep South-Style Pulled Pork Baps

29 Mar

Put Some South in your mouth.

I adore pulled pork. I am obsessed, besotted even, with it. Having driven along highways in Mississippi and Tennessee in search of it  and  prowled the wilds of Soho and Clapham (for Bodean’s, natch) to get my mouth around it, it’s fair to say I am gaga for the smoky, sweet, finger-licking gorgeousness of it. I never knew I could make pulled pork at home, or rather Josh could, and this is very dangerous knowledge indeed.

For my birthday this week (I hit the big 3-0!) one of my gifts was a slow-cooker and another was a birthday meal from him-indoors that was fit for a king. Probably actually The King.  He produced a platter of beautiful, sumptuous, pulled pork baps and you should too. They are tasty, cheap and crazily easy to make. So what’s stopping you?

To buy:

*you need a slow cooker   *1.5kg boneless shoulder of pork

For the dry rub: *1 tbsp black pepper   * tbsp white pepper   *1 -2 tsp cayenne pepper   *1 tbsp chilli powder   *4 tbsp paprika   *1 tbsp oregano   *2 tbsp dark sugar   *1 tbsp white sugar   *2 tbsp salt.

Lovely meat from Ginger Pig

For the sauce: * an onion, finely chopped   *2 tbsp Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce   *Half a cup of Heinz tomato ketchup   *2 tbsp mustard   *one third of a cup of vinegar – cider/white wine   *2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce   *2 tbsp tomato puree   *2 tbsp brown sugar

To serve: * lots of fluffy white baps or brioche   *creamy coleslaw   *a beer or some coca cola (to drink)

To make:

1. Make your rub by combining the dry rub ingredients in a bowl and mixing really well.  Wet the pork with water and then pat and rub the spices all over the meat.  Place in a container, cover with clingfilm and store in the fridge overnight or until you want to get cooking.

2. Mix the wet sauce ingredients and the chopped onions in the slow-cooker and then place the pork on top. Roll the pork around so the sauce gets into every nook and cranny.

3. Turn the slow cooker onto low and cook for at least 10 hours.  We popped it on before we left for work and it was ready  (and making the flat smell DIVINE!) when we got home.

Many many many baps.

4. If the sauce looks too watery then turn it up to High for a little while.

5. You can either serve it at this point or pop it in the oven at a very high heat to slightly burn the meat and caramelize the sauce. If using the oven then you don’t need to cook it for too long.

6. When you’re ready pull the pork apart with a couple of forks and pile high on sliced baps. Add coleslaw and a generous dollop of BBQ sauce (I like Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce of Bodean’s hickory sauce).

The recipe made a stonking 10 baps so if you want to make friends and influence people I suggest you don’t eat them all but share them with your nearest and dearest. Life will never be the same again.

(Recipe adapted from this one by James Holland, which he pinched from someone else).

Recipe: Catherine Berwick’s Parsnip and Maple Syrup Cake

27 Mar

The new carrot cake?

It’s been a while since I’ve been here to say hi and I can only apologise profusely and point my finger of blame at all the wedding planning which has consumed my life for the last, um, year.. but I could write a whole blog* on that so I shall just move on quickly to a rather unusual cake I made for a friend’s birthday which I think you should try.

When I served it to guests I asked them all to guess what it was.. “it’s fruity”, it’s got “nuts in it”, “I can taste the maple syrup” the adoring crowds replied. But none of them could have guessed it was a cake made of parsnip! And lo I laugh like a maniacal loon… but seriously, it was really unusual, very moist and sweet. As ever I found it on the unimpeachable Good Food website and they billed it as the new Carrot Cake. (Not that I think there is A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G wrong with the old Carrot Cake!)

To buy:

*175g butter, and extra for greasing   *250g demerara sugar   *100ml maple syrup   *3 large eggs   *250g self-raising flour   *2 tsp baking powder   *a pinch of nutmeg and cinnamon  *250g parsnips, peeled and grated   *1 medium apple, peeled, cored and grated   *50g pecans, roughly chopped   *zest and juice of one small orange   *icing sugar to serve   *250g mascarpone   *3-4 tbsp maple syrup

To make:

Golden Brown, texture like sun.

1. Heat the oven to 180Oc/ 160Oc fan/ gas 4 and grease 2 x 20cm round tins.

2. Melt the butter, sugar and maple syrup in a pan over a gentle heat and then cool slightly.

3. Whisk the eggs in the mixture, then stir in the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, followed by the grated parsnip, apple, chopped pecans, orange zest and juice.

4. Bake for around 30 minutes or until the sponges are cooked through and springy to touch.

5. Cool the cakes for a while in their tins before turning out onto wire racks and cooling entirely.

6. Just before serving, blend the marscapone and the maple syrup, spread onto one sponge and then sandwich the cake. Sprinkle with icing sugar. EAT.

* My friend and fellow-bride-to-be Laura and I were going to do a wedding blog called “Right Said Wed” but needless to say we’re too lazy and busy planning the shin-digs right now! Oh what could have been..

Recipe: Chocolate Cat Cake. It’s purrrrrfect, etc.

2 Dec

We need to talk about Kevin

My boss turned 40 this week and it was only right that this happy day was marked with a cat-shaped chocolate birthday cake, right?  Our chum Laura christened him Kevin and at a cake-fest in the office, Kev bravely gave his life for the enjoyment of us hungry office-workers.  Way to go Kevin.

This cake is very simple to make and keeps for a few days if you don’t hoover it up before then.

To buy:

For the cake –  *200g plain flour   *200g caster sugar   *1 teaspoon baking powder   *half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda   *40g best-quality cocoa (I used Green and Blacks)   *175g soft unsalted butter   *2 large eggs   *2 teaspoons real vanilla extract   *150ml soured cream

For the Icing –  *150g icing sugar  *100g  soft unsalted butter   *1 teaspoon vanilla extract   *a few teaspoons of cocoa   *splash of milk

For the topping –  *Bassets Licorice selection

To bake:

1.Take all of the cake ingredients out of the fridge and allow to come to room temperature.  Pre-heat the oven to gas mark 4/180oC / 160Oc fan and butter 2 20cm sandwich tins.

2. Now, in a large bowl combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and bicarb, cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream.  Use a food processor or a hand whisk and beat until it’s smooth and thick.

Feline hungry?

3. Divide the mixture between the two greased tins and spread flat.  Bake until a skewer comes out clean but the cake has a springiness to it.  Will take around half an hour or so but check regularly.

4. Remove the cakes from the oven and press and tap out onto a wire rack and cool entirely.

5. Place one of the cakes on a drum and cut 2 triangles out of the other cake.  Using cocktail sticks fasten the triangles (ears) to the other cake (face).

6. To make the icing combine the icing sugar, butter, vanilla and a splash of milk in a bowl.  Leave a small amount of the white icing in one bowl and transfer the  lion’s share to another bowl and add cocoa to taste to this batch of icing.

7. Using a palette knife cover the cake with the chocolate icing.  Then add some of the white vanilla icing to the ears and the middle of the cat’s face.

8. I used licorice to make the cat’s eyes, heart-shaped nose and whiskers.

9. Ice a birthday message onto the drum if you like.  Add a few candles and say a special wish for the birthday boy or girl. x

Simple Supper: Blue Cheese Gnocchi

23 Nov

Creamy, easy, good.

So what does everyone think of John Torode? Do we like him? Is he one of the ones off the telly we like? I must confess I hardly ever watch Masterchef although I know I really should.  I’ve also never seen The Great British Bake-Off which is a sin, no question, but I like to think I atone by watching Man V. Food very nearly every day.

Anyway, so I haven’t seen much of John Torode – except for this Buttery Biscuit Base youtube sensation – but I have tried one of his recipes, namely this one from Good Food (where else?) and it was pretty darn nifty.

It doesn’t take too many ingredients – and I always like to have a bag of gnocchi lying about in the fridge as it’s cheap and can be knocked up with butter, a bit of cheese and a few sprigs of sage if you have basically no money and less inclination to cook – but this gnocchi recipe has the added value of spinach to make you feel Popeye-strong and creamy blue cheese to indulge you on a winter’s day.

To buy:

*500g gnocchi   *250g bag baby spinach   *100ml crème fraîche (half-fat if preferred)   *4 tbsp grated parmesan   *100g soft blue cheese (I used Saint Agur)

To make:

1. Cook the gnocchi in a very large pan of boiling, salted water to instructions (usually only for a couple of minutes until the first little pillow bubbles up to the surface) and plunge the spinach into the same pan and then immediately drain through a colander and get rid of any excess water.

2. Put the crème fraîche in a small ovenproof dish with the grated parmesan.  Add the hot, drained gnocchi, spinach, a load of freshly ground pepper and give it all a nice stir.  Crumble the blue cheese over the dish and make sure the seasoning’s just so.

3. Pop under a hot grill until the cheese is bubbling and golden brown. Serve straight away.

This meal is said to feed 4 but it only made 2 dinners and a small-ish packed lunch for me.  I am a chubalub, it’s true.


Memphis Dry Rub Ribs and ‘slaw

20 Nov

Love Me Tender

It’s only been a few weeks since Josh and I were expanding our waistlines in the Deep South but our cravings for wholesome, beautiful soul food have not diminished one jot.  If anything my hankering for smoky sweet pulled pork or heavenly barbecue beans or killer rum cocktails or tender spicy fried chicken has only intensified.

This weekend we did the only thing we could do.  We recreated a slice of the Deep South in the Deep South of England, in Winchester.  We bought four fine racks of pork ribs at the Good Life Farm Shop put some Howlin’ Wolf and bluegrass on the stereo, made a dry rub and slowly, slowly slowly baked the ribs. Oh my. They were incredible.  Soft, hot and spicy, juicy goodness.  Perfect with creamy slaw.  Get the best ribs you can, put aside an afternoon to potter about in your kitchen, leave your airs and graces to the side and prepare to get smudgy and devour these finger lickin’ tender ribs.

To buy (for 4 greedy people):

* 4 lovely racks of ribs   *1/4 cup paprika   *2tbsp salt   *2tbsp freshly ground black pepper   *2 tbsp onion powder   *1tbsp cayenne pepper   *2 tbsp garlic powder   *2 tbsp soft brown sugar

*half a cabbage   *2 small red onions   *a few small carrots   *splash of white vinegar   *125g mayo   *50g salad cream   *pinch of sugar   *salt and pepper

To make:

1. Mix the various spices in a bowl.  Wash the ribs and place, still damp, on a baking tray.  Sprinkle and pat the ribs – front and back – with the rub until it appears moist and fully covers the ribs.  Any rub you don’t use can be kept in an airtight container.

2. In a pre-heated oven (150OC) bake the ribs for 3 hours, or longer if you like (just turn down the oven if so).  The ribs will be blackened on the outside but soft, pink and juicy inside.

Rub a dub dub.

3. Once the ribs are in the oven make your coleslaw so that it has time to soak together and taste extra special.  With a knife or a processor shred the cabbage, onion and carrots.  In a large bowl combine and mix them then add the mayo, vinegar and salad cream.

4. Season with the salt and pepper and add a big pinch of sugar.  Give it all a good mix and leave covered in the fridge until you’re ready to eat.  Tinker with the ‘slaw and add more mayo or seasoning as you like.

5. When your ribs are ready serve with a number of napkins or paper towels, a light salad (if only to make you feel a little saintly)  your ‘slaw and then beans or sweetcorn if you feel like it.  Enjoy.


Simple Supper: Baked Beans and Bangers

16 Nov

A big warm hug of a dinner

This supper is perfect when you’ve spent all day drinking tea and wearing chunky jumpers but still want something warm and comforting for tea.  If you have the forethought to soak beans overnight you can do so, otherwise I just use a can of cooked beans.  Once you have the beans ready to go, the meal’s on the table in less than an hour with a minimal amount of faffing in between.

It also makes me think of this delightful clip of  Tobias Fünke in Arrested Development asking his family who wants “a banger in the mouth”. And what more can you ask for, really?

To buy (for 2 big bowls):

*200g dried haricot beans/ 1 tin cooked haricot beans   *1 tbsp olive oil   *6 lovely pork sausages   *1 red onion or a few shallots, finely sliced   *2 garlic cloves, finely chopped   *1 red chilli de-seeded and finely chopped   *2tbsp sundried tomato puree   *1tsp smoked paprika   *1 pinch of sugar   *100ml red wine   *125ml chicken stock   *1tbsp balsamic vinegar   *salt and pepper   *1 bunch of parsley, torn-up.

To make:

1. If using dried beans, soak them overnight in cold water.  Drain the water and then rinse the beans and pop them in a large pan with water.  Bring to the boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the beans are soft then drain.

2. Preheat the oven to 180Oc/gas mark 4.  Drizzle the oil in a casserole dish, add the sausages and bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or so, until they’re golden brown all over.

3. Then add the onion to the dish and cook for about 5 minutes, then add the garlic and chilli and cook for a few more minutes.  Now add the beans, paprika, tomato puree, wine, stock, vinegar and seasoning. Mix well and cover with tin foil.  Pop a few holes in the tin foil and then pop in the oven.

4. Cook for 45 minutes.  If the bake is too dry add more stock, if too wet then remove the foil lid after about half an hour and cook until it’s the right consistency. Before you serve stir in the parsley.

5. Nice with buttery warm bread or spoonfuls of creamy mash.



Recipe: The King Burger (Bacon, Cheese and Peanut Butter Burger)

13 Nov

Elvis woulda loved it,

Clearly missing the sweet, heart-attack-inducing fare of the Deep South, Josh decided to cook something special last night; a dinner that the King himself would have gladly tucked into.  It was an insane combination of thick juicy burger, crisp smoked bacon, Jack Daniel’s BBQ sauce, smooth peanut butter, gooey plastic cheese and more bacon thrown in for good measure.

It sounds a little scary doesn’t it? Well it wasn’t, I promise.  It was epic and staggeringly gorgeous.  The peanut butter  lent a creamy saltiness that countered the sweet shallots within the burger.  The bacon was smokey and added bite.  Plastic cheese, well for me, it just improves everything, right?  And I guess that goes for BBQ sauce too.  So perhaps not one for the weight watchers but as Saturday night treats go, this one was rocking and rolling.

To buy (for four burgers):

*650g really good steak mince   *1 small shallot, finely chopped   *2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce   *1 teaspoon smoked paprika   *1 teaspoon hot paprika   *1 pinch of chilli   *2 teaspoons of BBQ seasoning   *toasted buns   *good quality streaky bacon   *cheese (we used plastic)   *BBQ sauce (we have Jack Daniel’s Honey Smokehouse) but any would be fine.

Josh and his giant meatball

To make:

1. In a big bowl combine the meat, shallots, seasoning and Worcestershire sauce until really well mixed.  Split into four and make meat patties that are an inch or two thick.  Wrap in clingfilm and pop in the fridge for at least half an hour.

2. When you’re ready to eat, under a pre-heated grill or in a hot pan cook the burgers for a few minutes on each side as you like.  I like my burgers juicy and pink inside but seared and blackened on the outside so cook them quickly and at high temperatures but this it totally up to you.  Always good to rest the burgers for a while before serving them though.

3. To build the King burgers, toast the bottom half of the baps and then spread a generous dollop of peanut butter on top.  Add a slice or plastic cheese and then some really crispy bacon.  Pop the burger on top and then add a little more bacon (we chopped it in half before cooking so it fit in the bun better) and a huge, unseemly dollop of BBQ sauce.  Top with the toasted bap lid and prepare for a treat.

Congratulations to Josh for deciding that this could and would work and hat-tip to Fresh and Foodie for providing  him with a recipe to tweak as he went along.  Are you going to make this? Could you think of a way to make it even better? I need to try it, if so.



Simple Supper: Leon’s Butternut and Bacon Chowder

12 Nov

A Winter Warmer

It’s been months since I posted and I can only apologise and offer this as an explanation: a) I went on a Deep South roadtrip which took up much of my monies and day dreams and b) I am planning a wedding, which does the same!  I hope you’ve all been and eating well.

I don’t know about you but I am starting to hug the duvet a little more when I wake up in the mornings, starting to eye up knitwear when out shopping and very recently crave liqueur coffees at odd times of the day; it must be the season.  With whole aisles of the supermarket dedicated to mincepies and goose fat and bonfire night behind us it’s definitely that time between autumn and winter when you could eat a salad but what I really want is stew or soup or pies or roasts. I love it.

This butternut and bacon chowder is from the unsurpassed Leon Ingredients and Recipes cookbook and is rich and sweet and warming all at once.

For four:

To buy:

*3 tablespoons butter   *200g streaky bacon, diced small   *1 large onion, diced   *1 small butternut squash (about 650g), peeled and cut into 2cm dice   *2 medium floury potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 2cm dice   *500ml stock   *100ml double cream   *500ml full-fat milk   *3 big handfuls of flat-leaf parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped   *1 tablespoon of thyme, roughly chopped   *salt and pepper

To make:

1. Over a medium heat melt the butter in a big saucepan and add the bacon – not in one big clump – once the butter’s nutty and browning.

2.  Cook on a medium heat until the bacon starts to crisp and go golden brown. Then stir in the garlic and cook for a few more minutes.

3. Add the onion and some salt and cook for another 10 minutes or so with the pan lid on until the onion is soft  but not browning.  Add a few splashes of water and then the squash and potatoes.  Turn the heat down a little and continue to cook and stir occasionally for 10 minutes.

4. Now turn the heat up a little and add the chicken stock and cream.  Simmer the soup for 15-20 minutes until the veg is soft but not collapsing.

5. Add the milk and bring to a simmer and then quickly turn off the heat – Do not let the milk boil or it will split.

6.  Using a slatted spoon remove the veg from the soup and blend into a smooth puree and add back to the soup.

7. Season as you like, add the herbs, a dribble of cream if you’re being a fancypants and serve with crusty bread, butter and your favourite box-set.