Friday, 31 July 2009

Boozy Raspberries with Chocolate Sorbet

A very special Summer dessert, but don't wait for the sun to shine before you make it, you may have a long wait. You will love it whatever the weather. (Barbecue Summer, my eye)

For the chocolate sorbet.

150g dark chocolate, at least 70% cocoa solids
250g caster sugar
75g cocoa powder
500ml water

Break the chocolate into small pieces and add the cocoa powder.

Make a sugar syrup by combining the sugar and water in a saucepan, bring it to the boil and simmer it for 15 minutes.

Whisk the hot syrup into the chocolate.

When it is melted and the mixture is smooth, leave it to cool.

Turn in an ice-cream machine, or, freeze in a container, making sure you stir it occasionally.

For the boozy raspberries.

350g raspberries, hulled and cleaned
3tbsp raspberry liqueur
Juice of 1 lemon
2tbsp icing sugar

Cook 250 g of the raspberries for 1 minute in a hot, dry frying pan.

Add the liqueur and flambe then add the icing sugar and lemon juice.

Blend the mixture and pass it through a sieve to remove the seeds.

Leave to cool.

To serve: Place 1 or 2 scoops of sorbet in a shallow bowl, drizzle with the raspberry sauce and scatter some of the remaining raspberries over.

For mint chocolate sorbet, blend 2tbsp of the sugar syrup with 8-10 fresh mint leaves before adding it to the mixture.

Thursday, 30 July 2009

Fried Chicken Strips and Sweetcorn Pancakes with Lemon Mayonnaise

This is a great, quick and tasty midweek meal. Children will love it and its reasonably healthy, using olive oil and chicken breast.


For the pancakes

500g frozen sweetcorn kernels
40ml hot milk
25g plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
5 egg whites
2tbsp olive oil

Cook the sweetcorn in boiling, salted water until tender, then drain.

Liquidise half the sweetcorn with the hot milk then pass the mixture through a sieve.

Mix with the flour and the remaining sweetcorn and season with salt and pepper.

Whisk the egg whites until smooth and stiff and gently fold into the corn mixture.

Drop spoonfuls of the mixture into a lightly oiled non-stick frying pan and fry on both sides until golden.

For the fried chicken

4 large skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
2tbsp plain flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2tbsp olive oil

Season the flour with salt and pepper and place it in a large polythene food bag, add the chicken and toss around until the chicken strips are coated with the flour and seasoning. Shake off any excess flour.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken strips fry for around 6 minutes, turning them frequently, until golden brown.

Lemon mayonnaise

Don't worry if you don't have time to make mayonnaise, use 1 small jar of good quality mayonnaise, mixed well with the juice and finely grated zest of 1 lemon.

Serve with a crisp green salad.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Cheese Sables

These buttery cheese biscuits are excellent eaten on their own or, topped with a mild creamy cheese blended with finely chopped celery, walnuts and apple, they make a great party snack.


Makes 20 biscuits

150g plain flour
150g Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
150g butter
1 egg yolk


Mix the flour and cheese together in a bowl. Rub in the butter with your fingertips until evenly mixed. Mix in the egg yolk to form a stiff dough.

Leave the dough to rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 200C/4ooF/ gas 6

Lightly flour a work surface and roll the dough out to 1/4 in .

Using a 2 1/2 in cutter, cut out into rounds and place on a baking tray.

Bake for 20 minutes until golden and cool on a wire tray.

If not using straight away, store in an air tight container.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Vintage Recipe
(As it was written many moons ago)

This recipe is well worth trying, the result is a delicious jelly/jam that tastes great in sandwiches or on scones.

Apparently, years ago if you didn't own a jelly bag, a nylon stocking worked just as well. I suspect, nowadays, its easier to find a jelly bag.

Bramble Jelly

Choose ripe, but not over-ripe berries, pick over carefully, and bake slowly in the oven till soft.
Pour into the jelly bag a little at a time, as it runs best while hot; remove the refuse from one lot before putting in the next.

When all juice has been secured, add 1 lb sugar to each pint and boil till set.

Monday, 27 July 2009

Blackberry and Sultana Sponge

For afternoon tea, morning coffee or a pudding served with custard, you will love this moist tangy sponge cake. My personal favourite is to eat it warm, with a dollop of cold Creme Fraiche and served with a cup of tea.


170g self raising flour + 1tbsp
170g golden caster sugar
170g butter, softened
3 eggs
1tsp vanilla extract
1tsp baking powder
170g fresh blackberries, washed
50g sultanas


Preheat the oven to 185C/gas 6

Coat the blackberries and sultanas with 1 tbsp flour.

Put the flour, butter, sugar, eggs, baking powder and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix with a hand held mixer until light and fluffy. Stir in the blackberries and sultanas and spoon the mixture into an 8in cake tin lined with greaseproof paper.

Bake for 35 minutes until golden brown and test with a metal skewer to make sure the mixture is baked.

Sunday, 26 July 2009

Something Special for Sunday

Thai Fish Soup
Serves 2


Zest of 1 and juice of 2 limes
2in piece of root ginger, peeled and chopped
2 sea bass fillets. cut into 2in pieces
2 garlic cloves, peeled
4oz monkfish, cut into cubes
1 stem lemon grass, peeled and chopped
4 scallops
1 tbsp Thai fish sauce
8 large raw prawns
1 whole chilli, strength according to taste
12-14 mussels, cleaned
25g fresh coriander
6 lime leaves or zest of 1 large lime
400ml tinned coconut milk


Place the ginger, lemon grass, garlic, fish sauce, chilli, coriander stems and lime leaves or zest into a food processor, add 4 tbsp coconut milk and blend to a paste.

Put the mussels into a large pan with 2 tbsp water. Cover and steam over a high heat for a few minutes until the mussels open, discard any that don't.

Add the rest of the fish and shellfish and steam for 3-4 minutes, then stir in the coconut milk and the juice of 1 lime. Bring to a gentle boil.

Chop the coriander leaves and add to the soup.

Ladle into bowls and add the remaining lime juice and the zest.

Friday, 24 July 2009

Easy Chinese Wontons

These tasty Chinese snacks are great picnic food with a sweet chilli dip, or an accompaniment to a simple stir fry. Brush them with oil and bake them until golden or try poaching them for 20 minutes in a light chicken soup and serve them on top of the soup.


400g raw prawns
100g minced pork
2 tins water chestnuts, drained and chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1tsp grated fresh ginger
Handful Coriander leaves
1tbsp low salt soy sauce
2tsp dry sherry
18 x 9cm square wonton wrappers
1 egg lightly beaten


Process all the filling ingredients to form a paste.

Place rounded teaspoons of mixture in the centre of wonton wrappers and brush the edges with egg.

Bring the corners together in the centre of the wonton to form a parcel and press to seal the wrappers.

Wontons can be made 3 hours in advance and refrigerated until use.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Honey and Poppy Seed Cake


55g dark brown sugar
225g self raising flour
1tsp ground cinnamon
150ml clear honey
115g butter, softened
6 eggs ,separated
Pinch of salt
1tsp mixed spice
100g walnuts, chopped
50g poppy seeds

Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/ gas 5


Cream the butter and sugar. gradually beat in the egg yolks and add the honey. Sift the flour, salt and spices together and add to the mixture, a little at a time. Fold in the walnuts and half the poppy seeds. Whisk the egg whites until stiff and fold gently into the mixture. Sprinkle poppy seeds over the top

Spoon into an 8in cake tin and bake for 50-60 minutes.

When cool store in an air tight container.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Pork, Apple and Sage Patties

This recipe is great for a quick mid-week meal and can be eaten with mashed or boiled potatoes, or pasta.


500g minced pork
1 slice of seeded brown bread, made into crumbs
1 large onion, chopped finely
2 cloves garlic, chopped
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp tomato puree
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and finely diced
12 fresh sage leaves, finely chopped
olive oil
250ml chicken stock
1 egg, beaten


Place the minced pork, onion, garlic, salt and pepper, breadcrumbs, apples and Sage in a large bowl and mix to combine. add the egg and bind the mixture together. Form into balls using 1 tbsp of mixture per ball. Slightly flatten each ball to form a patty and coat each patty with flour, this will help thicken the sauce.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the pork patties for 10-12 minutes, turning them frequently.

Add the stock and tomato puree and simmer for 5 minutes until the sauce begins to thicken.

Serve with mashed potatoes and fine green beans or Fusilli pasta.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Tomato, Chorizo, Goats Cheese and Red Pepper Tart

4 large plum tomatoes
olive oil
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 large red onion, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
375g puff pastry
100g Chorizo, thinly sliced
16 thin slices goats cheese
3-4 stalks fresh Rosemary

Preheat the oven to 200C/ gas 7

Heat 3tbsp olive oil in a frying pan and gently fry the red pepper, onion, Rosemary and garlic for 20 minutes. Remove the Rosemary stalks, season, and cool the mixture.

Roll the pastry and cut into 8 rectangles.

Place the pastry on an oiled baking tray and score the border edges 1cm with a sharp knife. Brush with olive oil and spoon on the mixture, keeping within the border. Lay 1 slice of goats cheese on each tart, then a layer of Chorizo followed by the tomatoes and finally another slice of goats cheese.

Bake in the oven for 15 minutes until the edges are golden brown and the topping is bubbling.

Eat warm with salad.

Can be eaten cold with a picnic or packed lunch.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Vintage Recipe
As it was written in 1923

Sloe Gin

1lb Sloes
1 1/2pt Gin
3oz sugar

Prick each fruit with a silver fork. Pack in a wide mouthed jar, not quite full; shake in the sugar and fill up with Gin. Cork tightly and invert the bottle occasionally. Fit for use in three months.

Friday, 17 July 2009

Quick and Easy

3 Courses for the Weekend

Cream of Carrot Soup
Cooked in the microwave

15g butter
1 onion, chopped
550g carrots, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp caster sugar
550ml milk
Salt and ground black pepper
140ml chicken stock, (1 cube)

To garnish
3tbsp double cream
A little ground nutmeg

Place butter, onion, nutmeg, carrots and sugar in a large bowl.
Microwave at full power for 15 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking.
Stir in milk, blend in a processor till smooth.
Return to bowl and add seasoning and stock.
Cook, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring halfway through cooking, till hot.
Serve in bowls with a swirl of lightly whipped cream and a grating of nutmeg.

*Can be frozen. When completely cold, pour into a container leaving 1in space at top. Label and use within 3 months.*

Lamb Pitta Kebabs

500g minced lamb
1 large onion, finely chopped
1tsp medium curry powder
1tsp turmeric
1 egg
1tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 slices of granary bread, made into crumbs
6 wholemeal pitta bread
Salad leaves
Small pot natural yoghurt
2tbsp mayonnaise
2tbsp mint leaves, chopped

Place the mince, onion, spices, breadcrumbs, Coriander, salt and pepper in a large bowl, mix to combine. Add the egg and mix thoroughly. Form spoonfuls of the mixture into sausage shapes, approx 8. Place each roll on a wooden skewer and grill at a moderate heat, turning frequently, for 8 minutes.

Warm the pitta bread in the oven, split and fill with salad leaves and a lamb kebab, In a bowl, mix the yoghurt, mayonnaise and mint leaves, add a spoonful to each kebab.

*Lamb kebabs and pitta bread can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost overnight at room temperature.*

Steamed Chocolate Pudding
with Chilled Orange Cream

60g butter
60g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
85g self raising flour
1tbsp cocoa powder
1tbsp baking powder
1tbsp milk
Zest of 1 orange

250ml double cream, lightly whipped
Zest of 1 orange
2tbsp freshly squeezed orange juice

For the Chilled Orange Cream

Mix the lightly whipped cream with the orange juice and zest and leave in the fridge to cool.

Place all the ingredients except the milk, into a large bowl. Beat until smooth and add enough milk to make a dropping consistency.

Spoon the mixture into buttered ramekins and smooth the top.

Cover with greaseproof paper and foil, both pleated in the middle.

Put the ramekins into a steamer and steam for 30 minutes.

Turn the puddings out on warm plates and serve with chilled orange cream.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

Something for the Freezer

Sunshine Fruit Cake


225g butter
100g caster sugar
4 eggs
150g plain flour
pinch salt
100g ground almonds
150g yellow and green glace cherries, chopped
150g ready to eat apricots, chopped
225g Brazil nuts, chopped
100g preserved pineapple, drained
100g stem ginger, drained and chopped
2tbsp golden syrup
1 orange, grated rind and juice
4tbsp orange liqueur


Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/ gas 4

Cream butter and sugar.
Whisk eggs until they are pale and thickened.
Add to creamed mixture a little at a time, Mix well after each addition.
Fold in sifted flour, salt and ground almonds.
Stir in the rest of the ingredients
Spoon into a lined 20cm cake tin
Bake for 1 1/2 hrs then lower the temperature to 140C/275F/ gas 1 and bake for a further 1 hour.
Cool in the tin for 1 hour before turning out on a cooling rack.

To store: Wrap in greaseproof paper then foil. Store in an airtight tin, Use within 1 month.

To freeze: Wrap in cling film then foil. Use within 6 months.

To serve from the freezer, thaw overnight at room temperature.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Vintage Recipe

As it was written in the 1920s

Potted Shrimps

Shell enough shrimps to make 1 pint.

Melt 4oz butter in a clean pot and add a blade of Mace and a tiny pinch of Cayenne pepper.

Put in the shrimps and bake gently till quite hot, but not boiling.Remove from the oven and pack into small pots, leaving a little space on top.

When quite cold, pour in enough mutton fat or clarified butter, to make a half inch layer.

Store in a cool place.

Not sure about the mutton fat. I plumped for clarified butter. Tasted delicious on wholemeal toast.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Seasonal Recipe of the Week

Raspberry and Cinnamon Torte with Raspberry Sauce

150g butter, softened
150g caster sugar
150g ground almonds
150g self raising flour
1tsp ground Cinnamon
1 egg
225g raspberries

Raspberry sauce

225g raspberries
1tbsp icing sugar
1tsp lemon juice

Place the butter, ground almonds, flour, Cinnamon and egg in a bowl. Beat thoroughly.

Spread half the mixture in a 22cm spring release cake tin. Flatten with a fork. Sprinkle the raspberries over and dot the remaining mixture over the raspberries so that it almost covers the fruit.

Bake in a preheated oven at 180C/350F/ gas 4 for about 45 minutes. Lightly cover with foil if the top is becoming too brown.

Leave in the tin for about 1 hour.

Puree the raspberries, icing sugar and lemon juice and sieve to remove pips.

Remove the cake from the tin, and dust with icing sugar sifted with Cinnamon.

Serve warm with raspberry sauce and whipped cream.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Roast Vegetables With Olive Bread


2 aubergines, cut in large cubes
4 courgettes, sliced thickly
2 red peppers, deseeded
2 yellow peppers, deseeded
3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
Olive oil for roasting
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 red onions, peeled and quartered
1 bunch Basil

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6

Lay the vegetables on a baking tray, sprinkle with olive oil and roast in the oven for 20 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking.

Serve on warm plates and sprinkle with olive oil and the cooking juices. Garnish with torn Basil and serve with olive bread.

Olive Bread

350g black olives, in oil, chopped. Reserve a few whole ones for the top of the bread.
1kg strong white flour
2tsp salt
50g fresh yeast
1tsp sugar
150ml olive oil
2tbsp fresh Oregano, chopped

Place the flour and chopped olives in a large bowl add 1tsp salt, mix to combine.
Make a well in the centre and put in the yeast, sugar and 90ml warm water.
Leave in a warm place until frothy.
Mix together with the olive oil and enough water to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough onto a floured surface and knead well for 10 minutes.
Return the dough to a clean bowl which has been lightly oiled, cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place for at least 1 hour until doubled in size.
When the dough is ready knead for 2 minutes then roll out to a 1cm round.
Place on an oiled baking sheet and sprinkle with the remaining salt and Oregano. Push the whole olives into the dough.
Brush with olive oil and leave in a warm place for 30 minutes until doubled in size.
Bake the bread for 20 minutes and serve with the roast vegetables.

Olive bread can be made earlier and heated up, it also freezes well.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Creamed Parsnips

Creamed parsnips are good with roast lamb or beef and for a vegetarian main course with Pine nut roast.


1kg Parsnips, peeled and roughly chopped
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
100g unsalted butter
1 nutmeg, finely grated
100ml double cream


Boil the parsnips in salted water until soft, around 15 minutes.

Drain and puree in a blender, or mash with a potato masher.

Add the butter, nutmeg and cream and puree or mash until smooth.

Serve piping hot.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Something for the Weekend

Stuffed Open cap Mushrooms

Serve as a starter, on a slice of garlic bread,(V) or, for an accompianment to chicken breast wrapped in Parma ham.

20 large white open cap mushrooms
1 medium onion
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2tbsp unsalted butter
1 stalk celery
2tbsp olive oil
1/2tsp salt
4tbsp finely chopped Parsley
3 slices seeded wholemeal bread
1/4tsp freshly ground black pepper
1tsp finely chopped Thyme
2tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
20 thin slices Mozzarella cheese

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F/ gas 6

Blend the bread to coarse crumbs, place in a bowl and toss with the olive oil and half the salt and pepper. Place on a baking tray and bake in the centre of the oven until golden brown, around 7 minutes. Leave aside to cool.

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms and brush the mushrooms with a little melted butter. Place them on a baking tray and bake for 5 minutes.

Meanwhile melt the remaining butter in a heavy frying pan and saute the chopped mushroom stalks, onions, celery and garlic over a moderate heat for 5 minutes.

Remove the mushrooms from the oven and set aside.

Add the Thyme and remaining salt and pepper to the frying pan and cook for a further 5 minutes. Let the vegetables cool slightly before adding them to the breadcrumbs along with the cheese and Parsley. Stir to combine.

Spoon the filling into the mushrooms and bake in the oven for 20 minutes until golden brown.

Add a thin slice of Mozzarella to each mushroom and bake for 1 minute until the cheese is melted and bubbling.

Serve immediately with crispy green salad.

To spice the mushrooms up for an non vegetarian starter, add a little chopped Chorizo sausage to the filling.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Teatime Treat

Butterscotch Tart with Chilled Cream


225g shortcrust pastry
115g plain flour
225g soft brown sugar
150ml water
150ml warmed milk
85g unsalted butter
1tsp vanilla extract
3 eggs, separated
85g caster sugar


Line a 20cm flan tin with the pastry, and bake blind in a preheated oven 190C/375F/ gas 5, for 30 minutes. Remove the pastry case and lower the oven temperature to 150C/300F/ gas 2.

Mix together the flour, brown sugar, water and milk in a pan and heat, stirring continuously until thickened. Remove from the heat and blend in the butter, vanilla and egg yolks. Pour into the flan case.

Whisk the egg whites with the caster sugar to make a meringue and spoon on top of the filling to cover it completely. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the meringue is lightly browned.

Serve warm with chilled double cream.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Raspberry Cranachan

This is a delicious dessert from Scotland. It's flavoured with whiskey and honey and topped with toasted oats and raspberries.


25g butter
40g soft brown sugar
125g porridge oats
200g fromage frais
142ml whipping cream
1-2tbsp clear honey
1-2tbsp whiskey
225g raspberries
2tbsp icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 160C/

Toast the oatmeal lightly, under a grill and leave to cool.
Whip the cream with the Whiskey and honey until the mixture forms soft peaks.
Fold in the oatmeal, keeping 1tbsp for decoration.
Layer the mixture in 6 glasses, sprinkle with oatmeal and icing sugar and serve immediately while the oats are still crunchy.

Monday, 6 July 2009

Vintage Recipe

Alena Pudding

As it was written in 1889

Take half a pound of butter and beat it to a cream, throwing in, by degrees 4 ounces of sugar. Mix well then dredge in 6 ounces of flour, add 4 ounces of currants and moisten with 2 whole eggs. Put in a buttered mould, tie with a cloth, and boil from four to five hours.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Sweet and Sour Red Cabbage

For many people, cabbage has long been regarded as the soggy, overcooked mess served up for school dinners.

Nowadays, luckily, we know to cook it for a shorter time with not too much water, or stir fry it with other vegetables.

Red cabbage is nice with red onion and grated carrot for coleslaw. The following recipe is delicious with game and meat or with sausages for a simple supper.

Serves 6-8

1 red cabbage, shredded
2tbsp olive oil
2 onions, finely sliced
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 cooking apples, peeled and sliced
2 tbsp muscovado sugar
1.2tsp ground Cinnamon
nutmeg for grating
2tbsp red wine vinegar
grated rind and juice of 1 orange
salt and freshly ground pepper
2tbsp redcurrant jelly

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the cabbage, onion, garlic and apple.

Sprinkle on the sugar and Cinnamon and grate a quarter of a nutmeg into the pan.

Pour over the red wine vinegar and orange juice and add the orange rind.

Stir well and season with salt and pepper.

Cook over a medium heat for 10-15 minutes until the cabbage is tender but still has bite.

Stir in the redcurrant jelly and serve hot.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Vintage Recipe

Fat Rascals


8oz plain flour
2oz sugar
2oz currants
4oz butter
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 egg
1oz candied peel


Rub the butter into the flour.
Add the rest of the dry ingredients
Mix the egg with a little milk
Combine the mixture to form a dough
Cut out to 1in rounds and bake at 200C for 10-15 minutes
When ready split through the middle and spread with butter
Serve hot dusted with fine sugar

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Seasonal Recipe of the Week

Raspberry Pudding

Cream 4oz butter with 4oz caster sugar until light and fluffy.

Gradually add 3 beaten eggs and beat well in.

Add 4oz breadcrumbs and stir to combine.

Place a layer of the mixture in an ovenproof dish followed by a layer of raspberry jam.

Layer this way until the dish is full.

Bake in a moderate oven for 50 minutes.

Turn out and serve with heated and strained raspberry jam and warm custard.

For a raspberry jam recipe see my post on 20/06/09

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Happy Hour

Bloody Mary

Hangover cure or aperitif, Bloody Mary recipes vary according to the maker. The ingredients, however, remain consistent, tomato juice, vodka and Worcester sauce. The proportions are usually to the drinkers individual taste. Additions to the drink, like Tabasco sauce are also matched to the drinkers taste.

Try this mix of ingredients for Bloody Mary and you can't go wrong.

900ml chilled tomato juice
250ml chilled vodka
75ml fresh lemon juice
1 1/2tbsp Worcester sauce
1/2tsp celery salt
3/4tsp Tabasco
3/4tsp freshly ground black pepper

Pour all the ingredients into a large pitcher and mix well. Pour into ice filled glasses and add celery sticks and lemon slices.

Seafood Paella

Paella is the taste of Summer for me.  As soon as the sun is out so is the paella pan. I cooked this one on the hob, using two burners but i...