Saturday, 22 December 2012

Lime and cranberry bread and butter pudding


For the lime curd
For the pudding

Preparation method

  1. For the lime curd, heat all of the lime curd ingredients in a heavy-based saucepan over a low heat for 10-12 minutes, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens. Strain through a fine sieve and set aside to cool. Once cool, pour into sterilised jam jars.
  2. For the pudding, heat the milk and cream in a separate saucepan until just boiling, then remove the pan from the heat. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, salt and sugar together until well combined, then pour the milk and cream mixture over the egg and sugar mixture, whisking until smooth and well combined.
  3. Butter the bread slices and, using about 12 tablespoons of the lime curd, spread curd over both sides of each slice of bread.
  4. Cover the bottom of a greased ovenproof dish with a layer of the bread slices, overlapping the edges of the bread slightly. Sprinkle over some of the fresh and dried cranberries and 1-2 tablespoons of rum, if using. Repeat the layering process once more, or until all of the bread, cranberries and rum have been used up. (NB: You should have enough for two layers.)
  5. Pour the cream and egg mixture over the bread and set aside to soak for one hour.
  6. Preheat the oven to 180C/365F/Gas 4.
  7. Place the pudding dish into a roasting tray. Carefully add enough boiling water to the tray to reach one third of the way up the sides of the pudding dish (this is called a bain-marie). Transfer to the oven and bake for 40-45 minutes, uncovered, or until the custard has set and the top of the pudding is pale golden-brown. (NB: Check the pudding occasionally during cooking, pushing any cranberries that float to the surface back under the custard as it sets, using a fork, to prevent the cranberries from burning.)
  8. Remove the pudding from the oven and from the bain-marie and set aside to cool for 8-10 minutes.
  9. Meanwhile, heat the redcurrant jelly in a saucepan with two tablespoons of water, until the jelly has melted and the mixture forms a smooth sauce. Brush the top of the pudding all over with this mixture, then set aside to cool for a further 10 minutes.
  10. Serve with the whipped cream.

Veggie sausage rolls

These little nibbles are great served at a party and don't worry about them being vegetarian- even meat eaters will devour them (over anything you provide that has meat in it)!

Take some shop bought puff pastry and cut into three strips.

For the filling, simply 275g breadcrumbs and same of grated cheese, one greated onion, 3 tbsp double cream, some chopped herbs, 1.5 tsp mustard powder, pinch cayene pepper in a mixing bowl, season well and mix very thoroughly.Then roll out the pastry on a floured surface to form an oblong (as thin as you can). Cut this oblong into three strips and divide the filling also into three, making three long rolls the same length as the strips of pastry (if it's sticky, sprinkle on some flour).

Place one roll of filling on to one strip of pastry. Brush the beaten egg along one edge, then fold the pastry over and seal it as carefully as possible.  

Lift the whole thing up and turn it so the sealed edge is underneath.

Press lightly and cut the rolls obliquely, so that they form little diamond shapes. Snip each one on the top in three places with the end of some scissors, then brush with beaten egg. Repeat all this with the other portions of filling and pastry. 

 Bake, on greased baking sheets, on the top shelf of the oven for 20-25 minutes. Then leave them to cool on a wire rack before storing in an airtight tin (that is, if they're not all eaten before you get the chance!).

Veggie strudel with port sauce


For the sauce
Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the butter, and when it's melted and foaming, fry the mushrooms with the garlic and seasoning for a couple of minutes. Drain well in a large colander.
Repeat the first step with the leeks, once you have trimmed and washed them. Drain them for as long as you can - this makes the filling good and solid.
Mix the cheeses together in a large bowl with a good amount of seasoning until smooth (it helps to warm cheese in a microwave to soften it).
Fold in the mushrooms, leeks and tomatoes, then chill for two hours.
Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
Lay out six pieces of pastry on a lightly floured surface, and brush with lots of melted butter, then cover with another layer and brush again. Add a final layer, but this time only brush the edges of the pastry.
Divide the chilled filling among the six rectangles and place it in a sausage shape towards the bottom edge of the pastry.
Fold the bottom edge over the filling, tuck in the sides then roll up into a tight parcel and brush with butter.
Put the strudels on a baking tray and cook in the oven for 25 minutes.
To make the sauce, heat the oil in a pan and cook the onion, mushrooms and garlic with seasoning until soft.
Add the stock and reduce down to nearly nothing.
Add the wine and port and reduce by at least half.
Just before serving, whisk in the butter to give it a really great shine.
To serve, pour a little sauce on each plate and sit a strudel on top.

Spiced Christmas biscuits

Can be used as decorations for the tree as well
70g butter
80g light muscavado sugar
2 heaping tbsp black treacle or molasses
8 cardamon pods
250g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 level tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 egg yolk
3-4 tbsp milk
icing sugar
Set the oven at 180C/gas mark 4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a mixer till light and fluffy. Add the molasses. Break the cardamom pods open and crush the seeds finely. Add them to the mixture with the flour, bicarbonate of soda, egg yolk, cinnamon and ginger. Beat in a couple of tablespoons of milk, then slowly add more until you have reached a point where the mixture can be rolled out like pastry. Bring the ingredients together then roll out on a floured board like pastry.
Cut the biscuits into rounds, moons and stars. I sometimes do a few Christmas trees, too. Lay them on a lightly buttered baking sheet and bake for 12-14 minutes. Remove and cool on cooling rack.

Bubble and squeak patties

Great for leftovers on boxing day!


  • a handful of leftover roast parsnips or roast potatoes
  • a handful of leftover Brussels sprouts
  • salt and black pepper
  • a handful of crumbled goats’ cheese
  • plain flour, for dusting
  • a little vegetable oil, for frying
  • tomato or onion chutney (preferably homemade), to serve

    1. Chop the Brussels sprouts. Crush the roast parsnips or roast potatoes with a potato masher and mix them with the sprouts. Season with salt and black pepper.
    2. With lightly floured hands, roll large spoonfuls of the mixture into little cakes. Make a small dent in each cake and add a little goats’ cheese, then reshape the cakes, enclosing the cheese as you go. Dust the cakes with a little flour.
    3. Warm a very thin layer of oil (or a mixture of oil and butter) in a non-stick pan, then lower in the cakes a few at a time. Leave them for five minutes or so, until they have a crisp crust underneath, then turn and cook them on the other side, until crisp on both sides and warmed through.
    4. Serve with the onion or tomato chutney.

Nut roast patties


  • 40g/1¾oz dried porcini mushrooms
  • 300ml/10½fl oz hot water from the kettle
  • 150g/5oz chestnuts, cooked and peeled
  • 1 x 400g/14oz tin flageolet beans, drained
  • 100g/3½oz Macadamia nuts
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 100g/3½oz breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil, plus extra for greasing

    200ml double cream

    Chopped parsley

    1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Grease a baking tray with oil.
    2. Soak the porcini mushrooms in the water in a small bowl for ten minutes.
    3. Add the chestnut mushrooms, chestnuts, flageolet beans and macadamia nuts to a food processor. Blend for a short amount of time, until you have a rough paste with a little texture.
    4. Drain the porcini, reserving the soaking liquid (use this for another dish, like mushroom risotto or soup). Add the porcini to the food processor and blend again.
    5. Tip the contents of the food processor into a large bowl and mix in the egg, honey and soy sauce. Finally, add the breadcrumbs and stir well.
    6. Shape into patties using your hands and place onto the oiled baking tray. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, but watch them carefully.

      For the sauce put the reserved mushroom liquid in a pan and reduce by half over a moderate heat. Add some chopped parsley and 200ml of double cream and season. Serve with the patties.

Easy canapes- stilton puffs

  • Perfect with drinks when friends come round

    1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6. Line a baking tray with baking parchment
    2. On a lightly floured surface, roll out a sheet of ready made (380g) puff pastry to 30cm/12in x 23cm/9in.
    3. Cut the pastry into four strips lengthways and then six across, leaving you with 24 rectangles of pastry.

      1. Crumble 300g Stilton into a bowl and crush with a fork.
      2. Put a heaped teaspoon of the cheese into the centre left of each rectangle, brush the edges with the egg wash.
      3. Fold the pastry over the cheese and crimp the edges to seal and place onto the lined baking tray.
      4. Brush the outside with the beaten egg and grate parmesan over each parcel. Make a little hole in the top of each parcel with the tip of a sharp knife.
      5. Bake for 10-15 minutes until golden-brown all over.

Nigel Slater's perky turkey

Great for leftovers. Could also be done with chicken.


  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/Gas 6.
  2. Strip the cooked meat from the turkey, keeping the pieces as large as you can
  3. Peel and crush the garlic and put it in a mixing bowl. Stir in the honey, soy sauce, chilli sauce, ketchup, mustard, turkey stock and a drizzle of vegetable oil. Season with a little black pepper, then add the turkey meat. Toss gently then tip everything into a baking dish. Bake for 20 minutes, or until the meat is glistening.
  4. Serve with a green salad and toss over some pomegranate seeds

Lamb meatball and lentil stew

Begin with a pack of minced lamb. Roll into small balls and fry. Drain off all the fat. Then cook a couple of diced onions, some diced peppers, some sliced mushrooms and a diced courgette for a few minutes. Add the meatballs back into the pan.

Then add some paprika and seasoning. Pour over some red wine and allow to simmer for a few minutes.

Then add some lamb stock and two cans of chopped tomatoes and again simmer for a few minutes. The add some puy lentils and put everything in a large pan with a lid and simmer for about 30 minutes.

Delicious on its own or with some crusty bread.

Creamy chicken bake

Begin by browning some chicken breasts in a large frying pan. Once you have turned them the first time add a chopped onion and some chopped garlic. If the pan is dry add some water.

After about 5 minutes or so when the chicken is starting to cook through add some chopped courgette and broccoli and cook for another few minutes. Then add a good glug of white wine and cook for a few more minutes. Then tip all of this into an oven proof dish.

Put the pan back on the hob and add a good knob of butter, some flour and a couple of tbsps of curry powder. Stir over a low heat and then add some chicken stock and let it all dissolve. Then add a few spoonfuls of cream cheese and let that melt. Taste and add some more curry powder if needed. Then pour it all over the chicken and vegetables.

Top with some breadcrumbs and grated cheese and bake for 30 minutes at about 180 degrees.

Serve with wild rice and some puy lentils slow cooked with onions, cherry tomatoes, chopped tomatoes and chicken stock.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Pear, caramel and chocolate truffle meringue

A twist on the banoffee meringue when we had friends round who didn't like bananas. So thought I'd adapt it with pears and caramel.

Begin making a caramel meringue. Whisk 4 egg whites until they form stiff peaks.

Then add 175g soft light brown sugar and 60g caster sugar and 1tbsp cornflour.

Add it one spoon at a time and beat between each addition. It should still be stiff and glossy. Then whisk in 1 tsp white wine vinegar (don't worry you won't taste this).

 Next spread it on a lined baking tray in a large circle and use the back of the spoon to pull it up into peaks. Put in an oven at about 150 degrees (fan) for an hour. Then turn off and leave to cool overnight in the oven.

Meanwhile prepare the toppings. First put a can of condensed milk in a saucepan, cover with boiling water and simmer for three hours. You must make sure you keep topping up the water. When the three hours has passed you can leave it to one side to cool.

Take some firm yet ripe pears and peel. Place in a large saucepan.

Cover with water (around 500ml I used) and add grated zest of one orange and one lemon as well as the juice. Also add 200g granulated sugar, a star anise and some cloves. A stick of cinnamon can also be added. Simmer for about 12 minutes. Then turn off and leave to cool again overnight in the liquid.

In the morning remove the cooked meringue from the oven.

Cover with about 200ml whipped cream.

Then take the cool tin of condensed milk and remove the lid then spoon over the caramel inside.

Then take the cool pears out of the liquid and cut into slices (leave off the stalks and core) and cover the caramel with these.

I had some double cream left so mixed 100ml double cream and 100ml dark chocolate and melted it together. Then let it set and rolled some mini truffles and scattered over the top.

You can dust with some cocoa powder. You can also take the pear poaching juice and boil in a clean saucepan until it reduces in half. This liquid can be served alongside the meringue.

It's quite an adult pudding even with the ingredients and it's fairly naughty but once in a while..... til soon!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Banoffee meringue cake

We were having friends over for lunch and I wanted to use up some bananas that were perfectly ripe but also didn't want a heavy cake since we were having quite a heavy main. I've done a really nice banoffee pie (which I will also get up on here) but the base is quite heavy. Decided to combine a few recipes therefore and came up with this banoffee merginue cake.

This is something that really needs to be slightly planned since the meringues need time to cool slowly in the oven when they are cooked. Begin with 4 egg whites in a spotless bowl:

Whisk until stiff.

Measure out 110g caster sugar and 115g light muscadavo sugar (you can just use caster sugar if you want a white meringue or just muscadavo for a more caramel meringue).

Then add this a spoonful at a time to the egg whites whisk in each incorporation well before adding any more.

When it is all added it should be glossy and stiff and standing in peaks.

Preheat the oven to 120 degrees C fab (otherwise 140) and line two trays with baking paper. You then need to draw around the base of a 8 inch cake tin and flip over the paper and use this as a guide for spooning out your meringue mixture between the two trays. Or you can fill a piping bag and pipe the mixture into the circles.

Bake for about an hour to an hour and a quarter until they are crisp and dry and lightly coloured. Turn off the oven and leave them to cool there (I did this overnight).

When they are cool you then need to make your filling.

To make the toffee filling you can either boil a can of condensced milk in a pan for 3 hours or so and that will turn it into a caramel (keep topping up the pan with water).

Or a quicker method is to melt 50g butter and 50g light muscadavo sugar in a pan.

Gently heat until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Then add a can of condensced milk and stir continuously until it becomes thick and golden. Be careful it doesn't burn. It will also be VERY hot.

Put one of the meringues onto a plate and then pour over enough of the toffee to coat the top (you will have extra- it is great poured over vanilla ice cream).

At this point chop up 2-3 large ripe (but not overripe) bananas and cover the caramel topping with these slices. Sprinkle with some lemon to stop them from browning.

 Then whisk 150ml double cream and cover the bananas completely.

Top with the other meringue circle.

Finally dust with icing sugar. You can keep this in the fridge for a day or so and so long as the bananas are all covered with the cream and toffee they shouldn't brown.

Simple but quite impressive!

Til soon....

Chicken tikka masala

Friday night and my husband announced he'd order us a curry. I always like the idea but usually regret it afterwards so said I'd make a tikka masala. This recipe is pretty easy and doesn't use unusual ingredients. It makes LOADS so unless you are feeding a group you have enough for dinner and to freeze several batches for another evening.

 Begin by making the tikka paste. This is really easy and much nicer than the jars you can buy. Take 5 cloves of garlic, some grated fresh ginger, 1 chopped red chilli, 2tsps each of ground coriander and ground cumin, 1 tsp each of paprika and garam masala and the seeds from 4 cardamom pods (bash them with a rolling pin to crack the pods). Add a a tbsp or so of either water or oil to bring the mixture together and then whizz it all together with a handheld food processor.

 Meanwhile heat a tbsp or so of vegetable oil with 25g butter and gently cook 2-3 large chopped onions for about 15 minutes until softened and starting to go golden in colour.
Meanwhile chop 2-3 red peppers and then add them to the softened onions together with the paste and cook for 5 minutes.

Keep an eye on it so that the paste doesn't catch and burn. It should be light golden colour at this stage.

 Then add your diced chicken breast. You can also use skinless and boneless thighs. With this amount of sauce you can add about 8 breasts or 12 thighs and that will easily serve about 8-10. Cook for another few minutes so that the chicken gets coated in the paste and begins to brown.

Then add 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, 4 tbsp tomato puree and 400ml of water.

Give everything a good stir and bring up to simmering point. Then cover with a lid and leave for about 20 minutes to cook through.

After this time add 150ml double cream, 150ml yoghurt and 2-3 tbsp mango chutney.

Give it a good stir and GENTLY heat it through. 

 Serve with rice, poppadoms, naan breads and of course a cool beer!

Any left overs should be cooled and then frozen immediately. Much healthier (and tastier!) than a takeaway and is ready in under an hour.

Til soon.....