Thursday, 7 December 2017

Walnut Cake (small) - All-in-One Sponge cake

This very easy cake can be made with a lovely cream cheese frosting - (though pic here is without it).

Oven: 180 deg.C - preheated
Paper Cake liner  or  buttered and floured baking tin

175g. butter (unsalted preferably) (3ozs.)
112g. caster sugar (approx. 3ozs.)
70g. self-raising flour (approx. 2.5 ozs.)
25 - 50g. walnuts - blitzed very fine in a blender - (or ready bought)
1/4tsp. baking powder
2 medium eggs - beaten
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
few drops of almond extract
grated lemon zest - about 1/2 a lemon is fine

Beat all the ingredients together.
If the batter is a little stiff, add some warm water or milk (cold) - or little of both.
The batter should be a nice 'dropping consistency' cake batter, but not too loose.
Bake for approximately 45 mins and test with a skewer to see if cooked through.
Cover with foil, if it needs cooking longer.

Cool in the tin, then frost with cream cheese frosting: 

200g (7oz) butter, softened
220g (7oz) full-fat cream cheese
700g icing sugar, sieved

Cream all ingredients together.
Add little zest or lemon juice if wanted, and spread on cake.  If you turn the cake and use the base, you'll have a nice smooth bottom (! :o) ) to work on.

Saturday, 25 November 2017

Christmas Pudding - Healthy! and delicious

I tend to make my Christmas Puds around November time, then wrap and freeze them. Everyone seems to love this recipe as - (apart from being delicious) - isn't claggy or too heavy. (No suet is used). It can also be eaten without being stored for too long.

Although steaming is a bit of a chore, it gives a much better taste and texture. I have tried microwaving this recipe but didnt like it at all.
Steaming is definitely best. If you haven't got a steamer or trivet, you can use some metal jamjar lids and stand the bowl on these. Have the boiling, then simmering water come up at least halfway, and check frequently to replace with more hot water. Use a lid to cover to keep in the steam.

This recipe originally comes from "Richard & Judy's Countdown to Christmas" - (my Christmas Bible! - I actually bought a second copy at for 1p!)

1. Soak the dried fruit overnight in your alcohol of choice - you can use a fruit juice if you dont want to use alcohol - (apple, grape or orange.)  Stir from time to time.
3 ozs. currants (75g)
3 ozs sultanas
4 ozs. raisins (115g) 
you can also include some chopped up apricots - which are lovely
4 tbls (or a little more!) brandy or rum

Next day - in a large mixing bowl  add -
3 ozs. glace cherries (rinsed, drained, dried and halved) - (can use maraschino cherries - added to dried fruit mix)
3ozs. plain or SR flour
1 tsp. mixed spice
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 ozs. fresh breadcrumbs (50g)
2 ozs. sugar - demerara
2 tsp (vegetarian) gravy browning .......... I think this just helps the colour.
1/2 a lemon & 1/2 an orange (or clementine) - grated zest + 1 tbl. lemon juice
4 ozs grated apple (115g) - no need to peel
4ozs finely grated carrot (peeled) ..... I whizz the apple & carrot in my food processor till almost mushy.
2 eggs + 4 tbls. milk
2 tbls. molasses or cane sugar syrup - (I use molasses)

2. Dust the glace cherries in some of the flour before adding to the rest of the pudding's dry ingredients.

3. Mix all the dry ingredients together first, before adding the wet ones.
Mix together thoroughly - the smell is gorgeous!

4. Place into a buttered 2 pt. (1.2 ltre) Pyrex bowl (or similar), cover well with a sheet of buttered greaseproof or baking parchment, - pleat this to allow for the pudding to rise, then foil over the top - tucking in well around the bowl edges. (I also tend to pleat the foil.) Tie with string to make a handle, or make a flat strip of foil to place under and over the bowl - so you can lift the hot bowl out easily.   Check every so often as you will need to refill with hot water as it evaporates.

Steam for approx. 3 hrs - 4hrs. (If you steam it for longer, you may not need to resteam it as long on the day you need it.)

Cool the pudding - I usually leave it at least overnight covered, then wrap it well  in baking parchment and foil and freeze  until required. It should be defrosted at least two days before needed - at this stage you can add some more alcohol :)   Just keep it in the fridge, till you need it.

On the day: Pierce with a skewer and pour a little more brandy or rum over the Pudding (if necessary) and Steam (covered)  for at least 1-2 hrs. It can be kept on a low light once the re-steaming time is up.You cant really overcook it but you can just test it to see if it's heated right through properly.
lovely smelling mixture :o)
Place in well buttered dish and cover with greaseproof paper - with a pleat in the centre to allow for expansion
Make a second similar cover with foil and a 'strap' of foil, to lift it out easily when cooked
This is a really light and yummy pud,  and tastes of Christmas! -  and I wouldn't go back to making it any other way. Thanks Richard and Judy!

Monday, 13 November 2017

Rainbow Foam Jellies

I found this recipe on this website:
and thought it looked fun .............

5 or more 85gm packets of gelatine (jello) - different colours and flavours

Mix each jelly, using 1/4 cup water less than the instructions call for.
Put them in the fridge until they are half set.
Take the first colour and shisk until frothy and pour into a mould or glass to set completely in the fridge.
Add the other colours, one at a time, in the same way.

Monday, 30 October 2017

Easy Pumpkin Cake for Halloween

4 eggs - beaten
2 cups of Demerara sugar
1.1/2 cups sunflower oil
3 cups of SR Flour - sifted with
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. powdered ginger
2 tsps. bi-carb
large pinch of salt

2 cups (or 1 can) of solid packed pumpkin (100% natural) - Libbys. (approx. 454 gm.)
1 cup of walnuts - if wanted

1. Add the sugar to the beaten eggs and whisk until smooth and creamy.
2. Whisk the oil in well.
3. Add the dry ingredients, a large spoonful at a time - mixing in in between.
4. Add the pumpkin, beating so mixture is not overbeaten, but is nice and creamy.
You can add the walnuts into the cake at this stage (or use them on top to decorate).

5. Grease and flour your tin or tins and pour the batter in (about 3/4 way up) - you can get two cakes easily out of this mixture.

6. Bake at 180 deg. C 45 - 1 hr. - test with a skewer to see when cooked through.

4 tblspns. butter - softened
3 ozs. of cream cheese
approx. 2 cups of icing sugar - sieved
1 tsp. good vanilla essence

Mix all the ingredients well together and spread over top of warm cake.
For a smoother topping - turn the cakes upside down and ice on the flatter bottom!

I also grate chocolate over the top.

spooky pumpkin cake :o)

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Leftover - Potato, Bacon and Cheese Pie

this is a really easy recipe using leftovers - no particular quantities

Oven: 180/90 deg. C - approx. 30 mins.

leftover potatoes - chopped up (small - ish)
bacon or ham or fry a few fresh pieces and also chop them up
1 onion - peeled, chopped and sauteed in butter or oil until softened 
soft cheese - eg. goats cheese - chopped roughly
2 eggs, smallish amount of milk and some double cream - mixed together
filo pastry or shortcrust or just crushed cracker base
small amount of melted butter for brushing filo sheets

If using filo, using some melted butter, brush each of the filo leaves.
Butter a baking dish and lay a couple of layers down - with some overlapping edges -

Beat the eggs, milk and cream together, + seasoning to taste - set aside

Fill pastry with the above cooked ingredients.

Pour the creamy/eggy sauce over the top - to just about cover.

Place the cheese on top - (can also use grated cheese.) *
fold over the extra flaps of pastry, into the centre - cover all the filling.
Brush melted butter over the top.

*dont use too much salt for the filling as the cheese and bacon will be quite salty. 

Bake until the pastry is nicely browned on top.
This reheats well.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Apple Chutney

Ingredients: approx. makes about 4lbs. of chutney
1lb. onions - peeled/chopped
1/2pt. white vinegar
2 lbs. apples after coring and peeling
4 ozs. sultanas
1 tsp. pickling spice
1 tsp. ground ginger
12 ozs. Demerara sugar
(sterilised jars*)

1. add 1/2 of the vinegar and chopped onions to your saucepan and simmer until almost soft.
2. Add the chopped apples with the sultanas, pickling spice (tied in a small piece of muslin or similar), ground ginger and enough of the vinegar to stop the ingredients from sticking and burning.l
3. Cook gently, stirring from time to time, until the ingredients are soft.
4. Add the remainder of the vinegar if you have some left.
5. Thoroughly stir in the sugar.
6. Boil until the mixture has become thick, but not too dry.
7. Remove the spice bag and pour into sterilised* jars.  Seal.

* put your jars in the oven at about 190 deg.C approx. and leave until they are hot.
Remove with gloves!
I stand mine on a baking tray so they are easier to lift out.
Take care!

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Amish Apple Cake

Blend together:
1 cup demerara sugar
1 cup sunflower oil
3 beaten eggs
1 tsp vanilla

then Fold in:
1.1/2 cups plain flour (sieved)
1/2 cup wholewheat flour (or use all Plain)
1 tsp cinnamon
2 tsps baking powder
pinch of salt

Stir in:
5 cups of peeled, diced apples (approx. 1.1/4 lbs)
handful of sultanas/raisins dusted in a little flour
Stir together but mix well.

Pour into a greased and floured 9 x 13" baking dish
If wanted, sprinkle on top: 1/2 tsp.cinnamon and 1/4 cup of sugar - mixed together.

Bake  190deg. C (350 F) for approximately 45 minutes - test in the center
with a skewer to see if cooked through.

Recipe taken from:
Cakes - Amish & Mennonite Kitchens by Pennsylvania Dutch Cookbooks

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Curry Paste - Nadiyah Hussein's

Nadiyah’s Curry Paste:  (use for easy Lamb Bhuna)

10 cloves garlic
50g ginger
A chilli
4 small onions
2 large (green) peppers
2 tsp salt
1 tsp. cinnamon (don’t use if using paste with fish)
1 tsp turmeric
4 tsps curry powder
2 tbls olive oil to make the spices into a paste
+ about 100 ml. Water

Blend all together in liquidiser. 
Can keep this in the fridge in lidded jar.

Lamb Bhuna:
½ paste into pan and cook for 10 mins approx. – stir.
+ cubed lamb
+ water, lid and cook for about 30 ins.
+ freshly chopped coriander to serve.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Creamed Cornbread - very easy (and delicious)

Oven: 350 deg. (180/90 deg.C)
Baking time: approx. 1 hr. - till 'set'
1 can of whole corn 13.1/2 ozs. - rinsed and drained
1 can of creamed corn (same weight - approx.)
1 cup of sour cream
3/4 cup plain white flour (or self-raising flour, without adding the baking powder)
3/4 tablespoon of baking powder
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4-1/2 tsp. sea salt
4 ozs. butter - melted
2 beaten eggs

1. Butter an overproof dish
2. Stir all the ingredients together till nice and creamy and pour into your dish.
3. Bake.
4. Eat - very yummy.

This also keeps pretty well in the fridge, and is lovely eaten cold too.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Blackberry Syrup - yum!

1lb. blackberries
1 cup of Demerara sugar
2 pieces of lemon peel with pith
Pinch of sea salt

1. Steep the washed and rinsed berries and sugar, together with the lemon rind in a bowl and leave to macerate for at east 1.1/2 hrs.  Stirring occasionally.

2. Pour into a saucepan and gently bring to the boil.

3. Lower the heat so it is still gently bubbling - for about 7 - 8 minutes (approx.)  It should be lovely and thick, but probably wont 'set'.

You can make a Conserve by using the whole berry mixture, but I usually strain mine - to remove the pips - use an electric beater and a sieve, to get the maximum out of the fruit.  
Store in sterlised jars.

Thursday, 27 July 2017

"Toad-in-the-Hole" - Sausages and Yorkshire Pud

Oven: High
Cooking time- approx. 30 mins.
  • 2 eggs 
  • 125g/4½oz plain flour
  • 150ml/5fl oz milk mixed with 150ml cold water
  • 1 level tbsp grain mustard
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 6 fat, herby pork sausages ...... (or any you fancy)
  • 3 - 6 tablespoons of sunflower or corn oil - (any frying oil that can reach a high temperature.)
1.  Mix the 1st 5 ingredients together, either by hand or with an electric beater, till you have a  smooth batter.
2. Put the oil into a baking tin/dish and heat in the oven until just beginning to smoke.  You can test the heat with a small piece of bread.  It should sizzle.
3. Pour the Yorkshire Pudding batter in, and evenly place the sausages.
4. Bake until the batter is well risen and cooked through - and coming away from the sides of the dish.

Friday, 14 July 2017


1 can (240g drained weight) each of rinsed and drained
Butter Beans, White Kidney Beans, Flageleot - (any good mix of beans will do.)
2 chopped spring onions (scallions)
75 grams. fresh white breadcrumbs
1 egg
salt and ground black pepper - to taste
handful of chopped fresh corriander
little oil for brushing tops and bottoms
Burger Buns - if wanted

1. Process the beans so that some are almost pureed and some just mashed.  If you put all the beans in your food processor the bottom layer will be more pureed than the rest - this is fine, so they have a little texture.  Whizz in the breadcrumbs, onion, seasoning and egg.
...... Otherwise use a potato masher.

2. Scoop the mixture out into a bowl, mix in the chopped coriander and taste for seasoning.

3. Wet your hands a little and make the mixture into patties - you should get around 6.
These can be kept in the fridge, covered, overnight if wanted.

4. Spread a little oil on the tops and bottoms and grill them for around 6 minutes on each side ........ done!

Original recipe idea, but tweaked: GoodtoKnow Bean Burgers.

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Chilled Cucumber and Yogurt Soup



  • 3 English or Mediterranean cucumbers
  • 1 clove garlic (optional)
  • 2 cups plain yogurt or mix of Greek and Plain Yogurt
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock (cold)
  • handful of chopped fresh corriander
  • 1 Tbsp. minced dill or mint, plus more for garnish if you like
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt to taste


1. Peel, de-seed, and coarsely chop cucumber. 
2. Whiz together cucumbers, garlic, stock, corriander (if using) and yogurt in a blender until smooth. 
3. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in chicken stock, dill or mint, and pepper. Add salt and little black pepper to taste. 
4. Cover and chill until ready to serve

Serve, chilled, garnished with more dill or mint,or fresh corriander -  if you fancy :o)

Sour Cream/Creme Fraiche/Fromage Frais can also be added - you can be adventurous with the tastes and texture you like.

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Basic Small Cake Recipe/Formula

this cake is a little darker and treaclier as I've used Demerara sugar
All ingredients - roughly the same weight
- eg: if using 3 eggs - increase the other ingredients accordingly to same weight
Oven: approx. 180deg. C - fan.

4ozs. sugar (caster, demerara, etc.)
4ozs. butter - softened
1 tsp. vanilla
or 1/2 almond and 1/2 vanilla
4ozs. self-raising flour 
(or plain flour + a good heaped teaspoon of baking powder)
2 eggs - weighing approx. 4 ozs.  

favourite jam, preserve or jelly US :o)

Beat the sugar, butter and essence together till creamy.
Beat in 1 egg plus a tablespoon of the flour.  You can sift the flour, though not essential.
Repeat with the 2nd egg.
Stir in the remaining flour.

If the mixture is too heavy, whisk in a little milk or some warm water.

Place mixture in a greased tin, or use a paper liner. 
Put some dollops (teaspoons) of jam on the top - smooth over if wanted.

I have found that my jam always seems to sink to the bottom!  However, the taste of the cake is still really good.  
If anyone knows a method of making the jam 'not sink' - please let me know :o)

Bake for approx. 40/50 mins, but do check to see if cooking ok.  If browning too quickly, but still not cooked through, place some foil lightly on top.  Check again during cooking.

This is a fairly basic cake recipe so you can add -
some dollops of jam on top
fruit on the base of the tin so you have an upside down cake.
Split the cake when cool and have jam and/or whipped cream in the middle
.... your imagination here :o)  .....

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Portuguese Custard (cake)

*This is made without a pastry case.  It's really good served at room temperature.  If you chill it in the fridge, it does become a bit rubbery, but you can zap it in the micro to 
improve the texture - and it is nicer warm(ish).  
Good served with stewed fruit/compote.

Oven: 200 deg. C
25g salted butter + little extra for greasing
100g plain flour (or SR will do)
500ml whole milk
200g. caster sugar
4 beaten eggs
grated zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Icing sugar to sift over, when cold, - if wanted

1.Grease your ovenproof dish

2.Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until just below boiling point.
3.Remove from the heat and add the butter - stir until dissolved.
4.Combine 100g flour and 200g. sugar (or little less if you want).
5.Add the eggs, lemon zest and vanilla and whisk until a smooth batter.
6.Gently pour in the hot milk, beating at the same time until you have a lovely smooth custardy batter - (thinnish).

7.Pour into your buttered oven dish and bake for approx. 40 minutes.
Check to see whether the custard has set all the way through,  specially in the centre.
If not, just continue baking until all is set.
If it is getting too brown on top, place  sheet of foil over.  When cooked, remove from the oven and cool.
It will sink! dont worry about this - it still tastes really good.

*Original recipe from Sunday Times magazine - but tweaked by me.