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Posts tagged ‘recipe’

Fairtrade chocolate tiffin

October 4, 2012



The best thing about the little chill in the air? Chocolate takes a lot longer to melt so I get to make and scoff one of my all-time favourites without getting my fingers quite so sticky.

The chocolate tiffin. This week I had the pleasure of opening a beautiful tote bag of Fairtrade baking goodies send out as part of their brilliant Big Fair Bake Campaign. A bounty of nuts, dried fruits and dark chocolates made me immediately think of tiffin.

This is such a simple no-bake recipe that really does taste like it has taken time. You can make it as budget or as expensive as you like, with the fruits and nuts you use dictating the overall taste. In February I blogged the basic recipe but here I packed in brazils, almonds and hazelnuts for the nuts, sultanas and apricots for the fruit and broke-up homemade shortbread for the biscuit. Plus a handful of Maltesers – the chocolate melts but the honeycomb remains whole.

The result is a perfectly decadent  blend of rich chewy crunchiness that warms up your insides, more so when you know you are supporting global trade that is proper, right and fair.



Oat & raisin cookies

September 24, 2012




What a miserable, windy rainy day. Kind of day you want to hibernate, watch old films, drink many cups of tea and dunk biscuits until the outlook is not so bleak.

I accidentally made these chewy cookies when I went to boil the kettle. Needs must. They were to be the Oat, ginger & date recipe I wrote about in June and by the looks of it, on a very similar day. Just no ginger and date this time, I went with 100g raisins and 50g chopped hazelnuts.

The end result: a stack of equally comforting golden biscuits to eat and eat until it is less grey.

Chicken caesar salad

September 12, 2012



Fit for a king?

Well, it appears the original Caesar salad was not something served up for an emperor as I first thought, but a chef who was running out of almost everything in his restaurant. I like those kind of desperation-born inventions. The chef in question was Caesar Cardini who laid claim to making the first Caesar, hence the name, on an Independence Day in the 1920’s. Customers to feed and cupboards bare, he threw the lettuce in a bowl, coated and tossed it with a mix of garlic, egg, Worcestershire sauce and olive oil. Now I wonder if they would have come up with that with those five on ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’?

Caesar’s salad was a hit, his salad empire grew, thank goodness, with many a variation being served up all across the globe with his recipe still be bottled up and sold all over the US.

To make it now, any crunchy lettuce will do – romaine, cos or little gems works too. Over the top, scatter grilled bacon, fish or chicken, with croutons or without. Then there is the dressing – with or without egg yolks, anchovies, capers. There is a Spanish version with chickpeas and Manchego, one with seared rump, even a fried oyster Caesar.

I keep the tangy anchovies in and the egg – coddled; boiled for 45secs to keep the end sauce thicker. I add quite a bit of lemon juice and a large teaspoon of Dijon, basically, for me, the sharper the better. I do like the odd caper thrown in now and again as well.

Really, I just love it because it ‘feels’ healthy (just like flapjacks do because they have wholesome oats in) and that is good enough for me.


Top tip, wash and prep the leaves way before, allow to dry and then chill before serving. It keeps them crisp fresh.

Orange & lemon cake

August 24, 2012




Oranges and lemons. Fruits I normally like squeezed in my glass, rather than additions to a bake, especially when the recipe calls for the whole fruit, peel, pith and all. That said, the simplicity of the Claudia Roden orange cake recipe (first published in 1963), cited in the excellent The Flavour Thesaurus by Niki Segnit, intrigued me. Just five ingredients in Claudia’s cake with no fat nor gluten in sight, the kind of recipe you’d look and think something must have been left out.

The fruit is boiled for two hours prior so the peel looses its bitterness and the juices become sweeter, the whole fruit is then pulped and added to the mix, then baked for an hour. The result is – I don’t say this very often – fantastic. A really light, fresh slice of cake that really does melt in your mouth.

I added a lemon to the stewing oranges to up the more zesty flavours. I want to give some other nuts a try like hazelnuts and different fruits  –  like cherries or even plums might be worth a go.

As it is, this is definitely, my new favourite.



Pasta Salads

July 24, 2012


Finally, the sun is here and we can all get excited about fresh crunchy salads.

Here are a four easy pasta based recipes that I developed for the Good Food Channel, all quick to throw together so you get your optimum sunshine time…



Banoffee pie

July 13, 2012


banoffee pie

I will tell you something for nothing, banoffee pie is…hold on: “Any dieters/calorie counters please look away…now!”

Banoffee is full fat. It goes off the scales; the arrow just bounces to ‘phat’.

Its ladled, oozing with sugars, butters and lashings of cream. All so so bad for you yet oh, so so good. I have to say this is one of the most delicious puddings I have ever whipped up and if you are feel tempted to indulge yourself with something decadently delicious, why not go all the way?

I always thought this was an American recipe but Wikipedia says I am wrong and it originates in East Sussex. This one was adapted from a Mary Berry recipe, where the toffee is made from scratch. You can buy cafe con leche in a tin instead if you’re really short of time. You can use ginger nut or hobnobs instead of digestives and add anything gooey or nutty you fancy drizzled or sprinkled over the top. All the more heavenly.

So, if you are want a real treat this weekend, one that’ll really put a cheeky smile on you face, start crushing those biscuits.


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.




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


May 9, 2012


I first heard of these when reading the guide on the plane to Rome, nearly a decade ago now. Other than the classical tourist spots, it directed me to old Trastevere for arts, great food and cafe culture. Right up my street. It also mentioned trying here the Sicilian dish, arancini or ‘little oranges’. I became obsessed with finding some, and once tried, I had them everyday in between coffees and ambles in the narrow cobbled alleys. Balls of risotto rice formed into a nest for an exciting filling, rolled in breadcrumbs and fried. They look like a scotch egg on the outside and I agree that they do look like telephone wires when the melted mozzarella filling droops as you pull two halves apart.

Some leftover risotto reminded me of this trip and those balls. I have been meaning to make them for ages.

There are many recipes online for Arancini; stuffed with vegetables and meats, cheeses and fish, served with sauces and dips. I like my risotto rich in flavour so opted to keep the centre flavour simple with a slice of mushroom and a chuck of mozzarella. You can make them as large or small as you wish; to eat as a snack, starter or main, that is really dependant on the amount of leftover rice you have to play with.

The key to forming them seems to be to make sure that the rice is cold and you use wet hands, otherwise the rice sticks and you get  messy. I added some salt, pepper and tarragon to the breadcrumbs to add flavour to the outer crust. Most traditional recipes deep-fried them but I prefered to keep them a little lighter, baked until golden.

They are not quite the same as those I remembered from the sunny days in Rome. Definitely good enough to cheer me up on a rainy day in London though.

Pasta & broccoli

April 24, 2012


Midweek comfort food. Enough Said.