Thursday, 20 November 2014

Prune, Apple and Armagnac Cake - Delia's - good recipe for Christmas

Oven: 180 C : 350 F : gas 4 
20cm. tin (8" - greased and lined
350g (12 ozs.) ready-to-eat prunes (stoneless)
75g (3ozs.) caster sugar
150 ml water   
75 ml. port or Armagnac

Place ingredients, except Armagnac,  in a saucepan, bring to boil, then simmer gently for 15 mins. 
Drain, discard the liquid - place the prunes in a bowl, add the Armagnac/Port, cover and leave overnight.
Delia soaks her prunes, (although it's not necessary), so if doing this, soak prunes the night before baking the cake.

Streusel Topping:
75g self-raising flour
25g butter - room temp.  ... crumb these 2 ingredients, then add
75g demerara sugar
Add 1 dessertspoon of cold water - stir in until mixture is coarse and lumpy - set aside

50g whole un-toasted almonds - halved lengthways and finely shredded - leave to one side.

75g (3ozs.) self-raising flour
1/2 tsp. baking powder
50g (2ozs.) soft butter
25g (1oz.) ground almonds
50g (2 ozs.) caster sugar
1 egg (medium or large)
2 tblspns. milk
50g (2ozs.) diced Bramley apple

1.  Sift flour add baking powder
2. Add the rest of the ingredients (except for the apple)
3. Beat until smooth.
4. Fold in the apple then spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
5. Arrange the prunes over the mixture then fork the streusel topping over them, and finally sprinkle the almonds evenly over the surface.
6. Place cake in centre of oven and bake for approx. 1 hr.  Remove it from the oven and leave in the tin for at least 30 mins before turning it out.
7. Sift icing sugar over the top before serving.

Friday, 7 November 2014

No-Bake Easy Cheesecake - with gelatine

250g plain sweet biscuits
125g melted butter
375g cream cheese
zest of 2 limes
2 tsps vanilla
1/3 cup of lime juice
400g condensed milk
10g sachet of gelatine

Springform tin - 20cm. greased

1. Crush the biscuits in your food processor and add the butter - mix well.  Using half of this, press firmly into the tin base, and with the other half, press (using the side of a glass) into the sides of the tin.  Refrigerate for 20 mins.

2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth, add the vanilla and zest and mix well.

3. Sprinkle the gelatine  over the mixture and gradually add the condensed milk and lime juice - beating until smooth.

4. Pour into the tin and refrigerate for approx. 4 hrs. (minimum) but preferably overnight.
Decorate with lime zest over the top.

This recipe was created by Jennifer Cheung for KIDSPOT

Friday, 31 October 2014

Monday, 27 October 2014

Almond Sponge Cake (with sunflower oil) - very easy and quick

Oven: 350 deg. F
2 eggs (medium)
just a little less than 1 cup of caster sugar
1/2 cup of milk - semi-skimmed is fine
1/3 cup of sunflower oil
3/4 cup of self-raising flour (or plain flour plus 3/4 tsp. baking powder)
1/4 cup of ground almonds
few drops of vanilla, and almond essence.

(can add: large handful of sultanas or sour dried cherries -  dredged with some of the flour)

1. Beat the eggs and sugar together well.
2. Add the milk - beat.
3. Add the oil - beat.
4. Add the flour and ground almonds. Stir in the essences and combine well but dont overbeat.
5. Pour into a greased baking dish and bake for 30 - 40 mins. - approx.

Test the center with a skewer to make sure it's cooked through.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Raspberry Bakewell Fairy Cakes

Ingredients: makes about 12
Oven: 160/170 deg.C
120/30 g. ground almonds
approx. 10g of dessicated coconut - making the amount  up to 140g.

140g softened butter  - or Flora and butter
140g golden caster sugar
140g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Raspberry Jam
Paper Muffin cases plus tin.

1. In a large bowl, beat all the cake ingredients together.  Dont overbeat.
If the batter looks a little heavy, beat in a  little slightly cooled boiled water, until the right consistency is reached.  
2. About half fill the paper cases with batter, leaving about a teaspoon of batter in the bowl, to top each cake.  
3. Place a small 'dollop' of jam (use a teaspoon and your finger :) ) on top of each cake, and place approx. a teaspoonful of the remaining batter on top of the jam.  A blob of batter is fine, as long as the jam is mostly covered. 

Dont overfill the paper cases.

Bake for 20 minutes - plus extra time if necessary.  
Bake until the cakes have risen, and beginning to become golden.  
Test with a skewer to see if cooked through.  

175g softened butter
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons of milk and/or lemon juice - (lemon juice is good against the sweetness).
350g icing sugar - sifted

I made a fairly thin glaze, which you can pour/spread on to the top of each cake.  However, I find the cakes store better (in an airtight tin), without the icing/glaze, but they are lovely with the glaze poured over just before serving.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Fruit Loaf (easy and delicious)

Oven: 180/90 :  325 :  Gas 3
Ingredients and Instructions:
2 cups of dried fruit - sultanas and raisins - - - can also use apricots, dates, currants - any good combination of dried fruits - roughly chop larger pieces
1 cup of hot black tea
1 cup of sugar - Demerara is good
Soak the fruit overnight in the sugar and hot tea - (stir until the sugar dissolves.)

The next morning, (or later is fine), stir the fruit then add:
1 beaten egg - medium or large  
2 cups of self-raising flour
Mix well together with a wooden spoon and pour into a greased loaf tin and bake for
approx. 50 mins.
Test with a skewer to make sure it's cooked all the way through.

Delicious! - - sliced and spread with butter
Store in a lidded cake tin - it will keep well for a good week - (or a bad one :) )

Monday, 15 September 2014

Rice Pud as loved by Lytton Strachey - The Bloomsbury Group

4 ozs. of pudding rice (or Arborio)
1.1/2pts. whole milk
2 ozs. butter
4 eggs - beaten
1/2 tsp. salt
4 large tablespoons of (moist?) sugar
flavouring to taste

"Strew the rice very gently in the above proportion of new milk, and when it is tender pour it into a basin, pour in the butter and let it stand to cool, then beat the eggs, add these to the rice with the sugar, salt and any flavouring that may be approved, such as nutmeg, powdered cinnamon, grated lemon peel, essence of bitter almonds or vanilla.  When all is well stirred, pour the pudding into a buttered basin, tie it down with a clean cloth, plunge it into boiling water , and boil for 1.1/4 hours.  Sufficient for 3 to 6 persons."

This recipe is originally from Mrs. Beaton's Book of Household Management dated 1895.

I think the up-to-date version would be to put all the ingredients into a buttered dish and place in a 'medium' oven until lovely, soft and creamy.

Lytton Strachey (1880-1932) - writer and critic - founder of The Bloomsbury Group

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Mushroom Burgers

Ingredients - for about 6 small patties or 3 bigger ones.
3 cups of chopped mushrooms (I used white capped ones, but chestnut would be good)
1/2 cup of finely chopped onions  (echalottes are good)
4 - 6 cloves of minced garlic
2/3 cup of porridge oats
1/3 cup of grated parmesan
2/3 - 3/4 cup of fresh breadcrumbs
1 beaten egg
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/2 to 1 tsp. of dried basil
1/2 tsp. salt and 1/4 tsp. black pepper
Sunflower/Olive oil and knob of butter for sauteeing

1. Saute the mushrooms, onion and garlic until soft.
2. Mix the mushrooms with the oats, paremesan, egg and seasonings.
3. Add the breadcrumbs until you have a mixture that is 'right' - sorry cant be more precise - but you'll know what I mean :)

Pic doesn't exactly look appetising, but burger does taste really good.
4. Shape into patties (wet or dry hands will do).
5. Melt the butter and oil together, and place the patties carefully in.  Brown on each side - turning over carefully.

Delicious served on half burger bun, bread, toast and a fried egg on top.  Yum.

Recipe originally from

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Pumpkin Dump Cake - plus White & Yellow Cakes - from scratch

I saw a Pumpkin Dump Cake photo, on Pinterest, and naturally, was curious to know what it was.  I love US recipes - - and  it seems to use a ready-bought-cakemix of Yellow Cake added on top of the other ingredients - pretty good for a quick cake.

Living in the UK - we don't usually use the terms 'white' and 'yellow' cakes, (or Dump Cake, for that matter! :) ) - so I had to check out those recipes too, and have given them below - making them from scratch.

I'm not actually quite sure what the difference is between the white and yellow cakes -  if anyone can let me know - please do .................

- here's the recipes .....

Pumpkin Dump Cake : Oven 175 deg.C (350 deg.F) : 9x13 " pan : bake - 50 mins.
1 x 29 oz. can of pumpkin puree
3 eggs
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup of white sugar
1 x 12 fl.ozs. can of evaporated milk
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of ground ginger
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
1 x 18.25 ozs. pack of Spice Cake Mix or Yellow Cake Mix
1/2 cup of chopped pecans
1.2 cup of melted butter

1. Combine pumpkin, eggs, brown and white sugars and milk.
2. Add spices and salt.
3. Pour into your baking dish - and sprinkle the dry cake mix evenly over the pumpkin filling.
4. Drizzle the melted butter over the top.
5. Bake in a preheated over for 50 - 60 mins. or until the edges are lightly browned.  Allow to cool.

Yellow Cake : Oven 175 deg.C : 9"x13" pan
2 cups of all-purpose flour - Plain Flour
1.1/2 cups of white sugar
1/2 cup of shortening (butter or white vegetable fat)
1 cup of milk
3 eggs
3.1/2 tps. baking powder
1 tsp. salt,
1 tsp. vanilla

1. Mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
2. Cream the fat and sugar until fluffy and light.
3. Add the beaten eggs and milk with some of the flour.
4. Add the rest of the flour, and mix until well combined.
5. Add the vanilla and Pour the batter into your greased and floured baking dish.
6. Bake for 40 - 45 mins. Cool.

Basic White Cake - Oven: 175deg.C : 9" x 13" pan
1 cup of white sugar
1/2 cup of butter
2 eggs
2 tsps. vanilla
1.1/2 cups of Plain Flour
1.3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 cup of milk

1. Cream the fat and sugar.
2. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla.
3. Combine the flour and baking powder and add to the creamed mixture and mix well.
4. Stir in the milk until the batter is smooth, and pour or spoon into your prepared baking dish.
5. Bake for 30 - 40 mins in a preheated oven.
For 'fairy cakes' or cupcakes - bake 20-25 mins.

Test both cakes with a skewer to see whether cooked through the skewer should come out clean, and the cake should spring back slightly to the touch.

Monday, 8 September 2014

Apple Cake with Raisins - quick and easy - small cake

Oven: 160 deg. C - approximately 40 - 50 mins.
4ozs. of soft margarine (Flora)
4ozs. Demerara sugar
2 eggs - beaten
4 ozs. self-raising flour (or plain flour + 2 tsps. baking powder) - sifted, + pinch of salt.
1 eating apple - peeled, cored and roughly chopped
a handful of either sultanas or raisins (golden or regular) - (dredged in some of the flour)
few drops of vanilla and almond essence.

1. Cream the sugar and margarine.
2. Add the eggs plus a tablespoon of flour - mix together well.
3. Add the rest of the flour, then the apples and raisins, and the essences.
4. Grease and flour a cake tin and put the batter in, gently smoothing it out.
5. When done - test with a skewer.  If it is browning too much, but not cooked through, lightly place a piece of foil over the top and leave a little longer.
6. Cool on a rack.
7. Eat :)


Sunday, 17 August 2014

Amish Sugar Cookies (sort of !)

Oven: 200 deg.C : 400 deg.F
2 large eggs
1.1/2 cups of white sugar
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of either buttermilk, OR half whole milk yogurt and fromage frais
1 tablespoon of baking powder
3 cups of plain (all purpose) flour
1 tsp. of vanilla extract

some Demerara sugar mixed with cinnamon for sprinkling on top of batter.

1. Beat together the eggs, sugar and oil.  This already begins to look like thick custard.
2. Add the buttermilk and baking powder
3. Beat in the flour.  Let the batter stand for 5 mins.
4. Butter a traybake tray and ladle the mixture in.  It shouldn't quite reach the top of the tin.
5. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over and bake until golden, feels firm and springs back slightly when touched.  The cake should just be shrinking from the sides of the tin*
6. Cool slightly and cut into squares.  (These are lovely when still warm :) )

buttered tin

ready for the oven

*cake just shrinking from the sides

cut into squares when cool, then leave till cold.
I found this recipe on* and made half the recipe just to try them out.  I found the batter was like a thick custard and decided to pour it into a traybake tray and bake it that way. The batter wasn't  stiff enough as a dough.  
This is not a crisp cookie/biscuit but just inbetween a cake and biscuit.  Whether I made them correctly I'm not sure! but they have a very nice taste - (I tweaked the original recipe slightly).............
 and had enough mixture for another small bake.   
* Have since found another website with another recipe: link

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Chocolate Orange Mousse - Michel Roux Jnr. (and Chocolate Sauce recipe)


1 orange - zest - pared and cut into fine strips
100g caster sugar
150g (55-70% cocoa solids) chocolate - chopped into small pieces
1 tablespn liquid glucose
2 egg yolks
150 ml. double cream
30g icing sugar

1. Place strips in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil over a medium heat.  Refresh and drain, then repeat twice more. 
2. Put the zests in a small pan with 100ml. water and the sugar and bring to the boil.  Bubble for 1 minute. Cool the zests in the syrup.  When cold, drain and set aside.

3. Place choc. in a bowl over a simmering pan of water.  Don't let the bowl actually touch the water. Melt the chocolate and remove the bowl from the heat.
4. Mix the glucose with the egg yolks and 2 tablespns of warm water - mix this into the melted chocolate.

5. In another bowl, whip the cream and the icing sugar to a ribbon consistency and carefully fold into the chocolate - don't overwork it.
6. Pour 1/3 of the mousse into 4 glasses (or dishes).  Scatter 1/3 of the zests on top and repeat the layers.

7. Refrigerate for about an hour before serving.  If chilled for longer, remove 30 minutes before serving.

Michel Roux Jnr. Chocolate Sauce Recipe

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Coconut Ice Cream


Ingredients: serves approx. 6
4 eggs
1 cup of caster sugar
2 cups of double cream (or whipping cream)
2 cups of tinned coconut milk (not 'lite')
1 tsp. vanilla

optional: coconut flavouring  or 3 tblspns. dessicated coconut - sweetened

1. Place the eggs and sugar in a bowl and beat (or blend) for about a minute.
2. Pour this mixture into the top of a double boiler - medium heat.
3. Stirring constantly - use a whisk - cook for 8 - 10 mins.until the mixture becomes thick and creamy - like custard.
Cool slightly, then place in the fridge to become cold.

4. Pour the double cream into your food processor (or beat) and blitz until cream becomes very thick and peaky - scoop into a large bowl.
5. Fold the coconut milk, plus dessicated coconut, if using, into the whipped cream and stir to combine.
6. Add the cold custard mix and any flavouring you may use, stirring gently and you should have a thick, ivory white batter-like mixture.

Pour into containers with lids and freeze for at least 8 hours.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Cream Cheese - Home Made - very very easy

2 cups of Greek (or Greek style) Yogurt (or amount of choice)
1 tsp salt - to taste
paper coffee filter or muslin cloth for straining off excess liquid
olive oil to drizzle over when serving
1. In a bowl, mix the yogurt and salt together and .........
(a) If using a cotton muslin to strain the yogurt, pour boiling water over it first to sterilise it, squeeze out when cooler, then place cloth in a sieve over a  bowl.  Pour in the yogurt and salt, cover with the overlapping muslin and let it drip drain - keep in the fridge overnight.
(b) If using a paper coffee filter, place a jar-lid in the base of a bowl to raise the filter slightly when filled with the yogurt. Cover.  
Pour off the whey from time to time. 
I found that the paper filter soaked up the excess liquid more quickly, so you may only need to leave for several hours until the right thickness of cream cheese is reached.
(c) You can also add some plain natural yogurt to the Greek Yogurt - this will give the cheese a tarter taste.
(d) You can add honey, maple syrup or more salt/ground black pepper, or fruit to serve.
I also used mine to make a cheesecake - which was delicious - but obviously don't sprinkle with too much olive oil.

This is also known as 'Labna' - and is Middle Eastern.

Monday, 4 August 2014

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Almond and Garlic Soup - a (delicious) cold Andalucian soup .... (Ajo Blanco)

1 cup of almonds (or cashews) soaked for at least 6 hours, remove skins from the almonds.
2 or 3 slices of white bread - soaked in cold water for about 5 mins., and squeezed out.
Large clove of Garlic - (or more if you like it)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 cup of chilled bottled water
1/3 to 1/2 cup of a good olive oil
2 tablespoons of Sherry Vinegar (Balsamic will do, but Sherry Vinegar is better)
Green Grapes and Chopped peeled Apple to garnish

This is a traditional cold soup, and is delicious ......
1. Using your liquidiser, place the bread, almonds, garlic, salt and water and blend until smooth.
2. With the motor gently running, add the olive oil - the consistency should not be too thick.
3. Pour the puree into a bowl and add the sherry vinegar - if the consistency is still too thick, add more chilled bottled water.  Taste to re-season, if necessary.
4. Pour into a glass jug and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
5. Cut up some green grapes (halve or quarter), and some chopped, peeled Apple and either place in the centre of the bowl, or serve in separate dishes.
There are lots of accompaniments to this soup - raisins, flaked almonds, cucumber - peeled and chopped, dark red cherries, chive flowers, garlic flowers - etc. 
it can look very pretty.
You can also serve this served as a duo with Red Tomato Gazpacho (and croutons) - - lovely on a summer buffet table.
PS: I cant take credit for the pics - but they are very pretty

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Blueberry Cake

Oven: 180 deg. C : 350 deg.F - approx. 35 mins (or longer)
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of softened butter
1 large egg
1/2 cup of milk
2 cups of Plain flour
2 tsps. baking powder*
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups of Blueberries - more or less :)

1/2 cup of sugar
1/3 cup of flour
2 tsps. cinnamon
1/4 cup of softened butter

1. Mix together the sugar, butter, egg, milk, flour, baking powder and salt.
2. Fold in the Blueberries
3. Pour the mixture into a 9 x 13" or 8 x 11" baking dish (loaf shape tin is good too)
4. Mix the topping ingredients together and crumble over the cake batter.
5. Place in the oven and cook for the 35 mins - check the cake with a skewer to see whether it is cooked through. The original recipe said 35 mins but I baked mine for longer.

* This American recipe originally came from
and is called "Blueberry Buckle" - I have tweaked it slightly, and in fact had a little accident when I was making it!   .........
After it had been in the oven for a few minutes, I realised I hadn't added the baking powder!  I 'speedily' managed to scoop out the batter into a bowl, added the baking powder - mixed it together again, (gently), and stuck it back in the oven!  Unfortunately the topping got mixed into the batter as well, but the cake turned out beautifully!

PS: I've made this cake again - (correctly this time!) - and thought it was better the first time! :)

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Quiche/Flan - no pastry required :)

Oven: 180C/ : 160(fan) : (Gas 4) (preheated)
butter for greasing dish
small amount of oil and small knob of butter
3 rashers of streaky bacon - chopped
4 or 5 sliced mushrooms
4 spring onions - trimmed and sliced
250ml evaporated semi-skimmed milk (canned) OR milk and double (thick) cream mixed.
3 large eggs
75g hard cheese - grated

1. Grease a round flan dish - 19-21cm - (not loose bottomed)
2. Dry fry the bacon in a non-stick pan for a couple of minutes. Set aside.
3. Lower the heat, add the oil and butter and saute the mushrooms and onions for a minute or two. Set aside with the bacon.
4. Beat together the evaporated milk and eggs and add the bacon, onions, mushrooms and cheese.*
Season to taste, dont oversalt, as the cheese may be quite salty - - mix well, taste and pour into your greased flan dish.
5. Bake for approximately 20 - 25 mins. until just set and golden.

This is nice eaten cold with a green salad and vinaigrette.

*maybe some fresh breadcrumbs on the base - and of course omit the bacon for a Veggie Quiche.

Monday, 14 July 2014

Marinated Turkey Breast - Ottolenghi recipe

Ingredients: serves 4 - 5 people.
1/2 turkey breast - approx. 1 kg. - (free range if poss.)

1/2 tsp. salt and 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
125ml. white wine
60ml olive oil
60ml. lemon juice
1 crushed clove of garlic (peeled)
4 tblspns. fresh chopped corriander
4 tblspns. fresh chopped parsley
4 tblspns. fresh chopped mint leaves

1. place all the ingredients - (except the turkey) into a food processor and blend for a minute or so until smooth.
2. Place the turkey into a non-metallic container and pour the marinade over. Make sure the meat is covered with the marinade. Cover and leave in the fridge for 24hrs.

3. Preheat the oven to 220C, remove the turkey from the marinade*, but retain the marinade for later to make the sauce.  Roast the turkey for 15 mins, then reduce the oven temp. to 180C and cook until for approx. another 30/45mins.  Cover with foil when done, leaving it in the oven,  - making sure it is cooked through.

4. *Heat up the turkey marinade, simmer for about 1/4 hr. then reduce the liquid by about half.  Taste and season if necessary.
5. Remove the turkey from the oven and let is rest for about 10mins, then slice thinly and serve with the warm sauce.

If serving cold, leave the meat to cool completely, then slice.  Adjust the seasoning of the sauce once it is cold, and serve the sauce on the side.

This recipe is c/o Yotam Ottolenghi

Monday, 7 July 2014

Leeks with Tomato Vinaigrette - very easy

6-8 leeks (small/medium)

Wash the leeks well, cut in half if large.
Cook them in boiling water for approx. 10 mins - make sure they are nice and soft, otherwise they can be a bit chewy. 
Refresh under cold water, drain, then place them on paper kitchen roll to absorb the excess water.
Using a sharp knife, slice them lengthways and place in a dish.

Tomato Vinaigrette:

2 tablespoons of fresh tomato pulp (skin a large, fresh tomato, then liquidise)
or 1 tblspn. tomato puree diluted with 1 tablespoon of water
2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar or cider vinegar+tablespoon of honey
4-5 tablespoons of oil
salt, pepper to taste

Liquidise all these ingredients together so you have a nice smooth sauce.
Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary ..... do be careful when tasting, in case you have too much vinegar!

Carefully spoon the vinaigrette over the leeks, while still warm.

These leeks can also be served hot - very nice.
and are lovely served with cold meat, chicken or fish, and also as part of a buffet table.