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Pistachio ice cream with strawberries

June 29, 2012




Tennis season serves up – more rain obviously – and strawberries, sweet juicy strawberries. Love them, mostly alone though they really do go nicely with this ice cream.

This egg free base can be used with any flavours that will work with the richness of the cream. Try hazelnuts, macadamia or pecans or fruits, such as, strawberries. Crushed chocolate shards, praline or honeycomb. Or instead of infusing vanilla, try a tablespoon of freshly, coarse ground black peppercorns; my other favourite, avec strawberries.

Try David Lebovitz’s “The Perfect Scoop” for home made ice cream ideas and tips.





Date, ginger & oat biscuits

June 21, 2012


Do not let the weather get you down. Do not. Make these instead, the ultimate ‘cheer up’ biscuit.

Light and not too sweet, the wafts from the oven are so good, I bet you sink one even before the kettles boiled.

These were adapted from a Popina recipe; using dates instead of sultanas with more oats, less flour plus fresh ginger.  Also nice with a squeeze of lemon.

I recommend making double.

infographic - biscuit

Stuffed mackerel

June 15, 2012


stuffed mackerel


Grilled, steamed, pan-fried, bbq’d, baked.

This little fishy can be packed with any herbs and spices you feel like, cooked in 20 mins or less, served alone or with some fresh seasonal veg.

Cheap (these were 49p each) and rich in the flavour as well as the omega oils. Versatile too – I like this ‘them apples’ post where the ‘mackerel in batter’ recipe is given a go from Hugh’s sustainable fishing campaign; encouraging a replacement to the over fished white haddock and cod we get with our chips.

This recipe of coriander, lemongrass, ginger, chilli and garlic goes well with basmati. Stuffed with garlic, mushroom, parsley and lemon is equally as good, with buttered asparagus and jersey royals. You can also fill them with cherry tomatoes, lemon garlic and thyme with a hunk of crusty bread and a green leafy salad.

Mackerel; the all-giving fish to serve up for supper!


infographic stuffed mackerel



Niknok’s granola

June 15, 2012



I know it is so very British to complain about the weather but seriously ‘damp and wet’ must end soon or I will be knee-deep in things to make from scratch to enjoy once the sun comes out. I have literally started a summer hibernation making all sorts of sauces, preserves, jams and granola.

Granola gets mixed responses as a healthy whole food in that, like flapjacks, although it’s all grains and seeds, they can be overloaded with fat and sugars. This does not have to be the case and neither do you have to take out the nice bits and feel like your munching on taste-free rabbit food to be eating ‘right’. Like with anything, a bit of common sense moderation is required and if you are going to eat 150g of the stuff for breakfast, perhaps you might like to walk/run/paddle to work. I like it full-fat and full flavoured as a sprinkle over the top a massive bowl of ripe fresh fruit and yoghurt.

Rachel Allen’s recipe is a good base with the ratio of grains, seeds, nuts and fruit with sugars well-balanced although I did find this one overly sweet with too much going on and I did have to omit the dried apricots – not for me thank you.

The recipe below is simplified therefore cheaper version with no seeds but still packed full of flavour. As long as you keep the dry weights the same you can swap and change your nuts, dried fruits, sugar, spices too – try pecans with dried banana and maple syrup or figs with pistachio and a squeeze of lemon in with the honey. You can also use olive oil for the fat, although personally I love the more buttery flavour. How about with some chunks of dark chocolate over vanilla ice cream?

Store in a big clip top jar and hope you get to munch on it at least one sunny day this month.


Victoria sponge

June 1, 2012


jubliee victoria sponge

The Victoria Sponge; subtle, elegant and dignified. You can see why she favoured it for that afternoon pick me up slice. For me, when baked to perfection with the right filling, it really is the cake of all cakes.

Simple and yet so easy to get wrong – my first was solid, heavier than the crown jewels – it is worth taking time, following some sound instruction.

An original from Mrs.Beeton’s 1891 Book of Household Management sees her weighing the eggs to determine the equal weights of butter, sugar and flour with the eggs beaten, added last. This is still the way many choose to make it. Others cream softened butter with the caster sugar until light and fluffy before adding the eggs, one by one, then folding in the flour.

Mary Berry’s more modern offering opts for a soft margerine to help keep the sponge light, blending all together all at once, rather than creaming and beating separately. Personally, I prefer the sponge flavour with the buttery traditional method.

This recipe was given to me a few years ago by my friend and Jeremy Lee’s excellent head chef Lee Urch at Quo Vadis. It never fails to impress. Baked high then lowered for longer than most, the texture is incredible.

Fill it with jam, whipped cream and handfuls of berries and it really is fit for a queen.

infographic victoria sponge cake