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Apple and Cinnamon Rolls - FFTO October Challenge

Monday 31 October 2011
This months Fresh From The Oven was hosted by Claire from Things We Make and she challenged us to make Cinnamon Rolls.  Being slightly non-conformist, and having some apples that needed using up, I decided to make Apple and Cinnamon Rolls.

Here's Claire's recipe:

400g Strong White Bread Flour

2 Sachets of instant yeast (14/15g)

200g Plain Flour

2 Egg Yolks

250ml Lukewarm Milk

50g Melted Butter

1Tbsp Sugar

1/2 tsp Salt


150g Very Soft Butter

50g Brown Sugar - muscovado or demerara

1Tsp Cinnamon

A Handful of Sultanas (optional)

Icing (optional*)

2 Cups of Icing Sugar

1 Tblsp Melted Butter

1/4 Tsp Cinnamon

1/2 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Water to Mix

In a jug mix the yeast, warm milk and tablespoon of sugar.

Leave to froth for 10 minutes if you have time then add the melted butter and egg yolks.

Mix this into the flours, with the salt.

Knead for 5-10 minutes on a floured surface or in your food mixer with a dough hook for 5 minutes.

Put in a large bowl with a plate on top and leave in a warm place until doubled in size (1-2 hours)

Knock down and flatten out until it's about the size of a large baking tray.

Slather with the very soft 100g ofbutter.

Sprinkle with the mix of brown sugar and cinnamon, and the sultanas.

Roll up so you have a long swiss roll type thing.

Slice into 2" slices and place in a deep cake tin

I used a 26cm Kaiser tin, with a bit of butter rubbed into it.

Allow to rise for another 1/2 hour. Tuck in any sultanas so they don't burn.

Bake at 200c for 10 minutes

Cover loosely with foil and bake for another 15 minutes or so.

At this point I brush it with a little melted butter and put it back in if not quite cooked through but it's probably not necessary. I am a born fiddler.

Tip out straight away - using a plate to tip it onto then back onto a 2nd plate.

Top with the warm buttery icing and leave to cool....as long as you can bear it.

They are still good on day two (and even better when warmed for 20 seconds in the microwave)

* Claire said "Most recently I made this with just a drizzle of plain icing (made with water) on top, which is good and quick but doesn't keep the bread so gooey and soft."

Here's my Apple and Cinnamon Rolls

I followed Claire's recipe, apart from adding some apple chunks, and used a drizzle of plain icing as I knew they would be devoured really swiftly since it was Half Term.  The were indeed devoured swiftly by my daughters, and my huband - yes the neighbours got some too! LOL

Roasted Vegetable Bake

We were given a dozen eggs by our neighbour and I was having a can't be bothered cooking kind of day.  This is a great vegetarian supper that is really quick and easy.  The only faff is chopping the vegetables.  All the family ate this in record time and were disappointed there wasn't enough for second helpings.

1 tbsp olive oil

2 small red onions, sliced

1 large red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

150g open cup mushrooms

2 courgettes, sliced

6 large free range eggs

3 Tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or thyme, or you can used 2 - 3 tsp dried mixed herbs

Preheat the oven to 200C/Fan 180C/Gas Mark 6. Put all the vegetables in a square baking tray or roasting tin, add the oil, season with salt and pepper, and toss well to mix everything together. Roast for the vegetables for 15-20 minutes or until they're golden and tender.

Beat the eggs together until smooth and well mixed.  Stir in whichever herbs you are using and add the eggs to the pan of roasted vegetables.  Return the pan to the oven and bake for a further 10mins or until the egg is cooked and set. Leave to cool in the tin for 5 mins before cutting into wedges and serving warm with salad and plain or garlic bread.

I also like to have a bit of chutney or relish available for those who need some. You could use my Quick and Easy Tomato Relish recipe to make some and keep it in the cupboard or give as Christmas gifts.

Pataks and Blue Dragon Products Review

Saturday 29 October 2011
I was recently sent some delicious Pataks Curry Pastes and Blue Dragon products to review.  I must confess I do use these sauces occasionally when I can't be bothered cooking from scratch and they are a great quick fix dinner solution.

I love the Pataks curry pastes as you can adjust the flavour of your curry by adding coconut milk or cream to make the dish milder for those who don't like too much spice or heat.  The curry sauces are SO versatile! You can use them with vegetables, chicken, beef, lamb or even fish.  There is a recipe on each jar, but for more delicious meal ideas you can check out the recipe section of the Pataks website.

I also use Blue Dragon sauces for a quick weeknight stir fry or asian inspired meal when time, and energy and tempers are short.  There is a fab recipe section on the Blue Dragon website as well as a brilliant Cooks Guide that's full of information to help you prepare superb Oriental cuisine, suggestions for using seasonal produce and useful tips. It even has a product focus section which explains what things are and how to use them.

I totally recommend both Pataks and Blue Dragon products as they are one of my standby meal ingredients when I really need a quick fix dinner or am totally lacking culinary inspiration. 

Here's my favourite Slow Cooker Chickpea Curry recipe from the Pataks website:

1 tbsp vegetable oil

500g boiled or canned chickpeas

150g onion, chopped

200g canned chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp Patak's Tikka Masala Paste

1 tbsp Patak's Madras Curry Paste

½ tsp sugar

200ml water

1 tbsp fresh coriander, chopped

Heat the oil in a pan and sauté the onions until light golden brown (about 3 - 4 minutes).

Add the Patak's Tikka Masala and Patak's Madras Pastes and sauté for a further one minute.

Add the tomatoes and cook for a further 1 minute.

Add the cooked chick peas, sugar and water and mix well. Transfer to your slow cooker and cook on high for 1½ - 2 hours.

Garnish with the chopped coriander and serve with warm Chapattis.

Chickpea Curry - In the Slow Cooker

Here's one of my favourite Blue Dragon recipes from their website:

 Squash and Sweet Chilli Pasta

1 squash, peeled and deseeded

A few spigs thyme, freshif possible

Splash of white wine

salt and pepper

3 tbsp olive oil

500g penne pasta, cooked according to pack instructions

12 rashers streaky bacon or pancetta, chopped into small pieces

2 large handfuls spinach leaves, washed and prepared

1 block feta cheese, chopped into bite sized pieces

3 tbsp Blue Dragon Sweet Chilli Dipping Sauce (or to taste)

Peel and deseed the squash and cut into small bite sized cubes. Place in a baking tin with 3 tbsp olive oil, a splash of white wine and salt and pepper. Sprinkle over the thyme and roast for 30-45 mins at 200'c/400'F or until soft and caramelised.

Meanwhile, boil the penne pasta in salted water until al dente. Set aside.

In a frying pan, add the chopped pieces of pancetta or streaky bacon and fry until crisp.

When cooked add the pasta to the frying pan with the bacon, along with the squash, spinach, feta and sweet chilli dipping sauce. Cook over a medium heat for 1-2 minutes until the cheese starts to melt and spinach starts to wilt then serve.

Squash and Sweet Chilli Pasta

Versatile No Cook Cheesecake

Thursday 27 October 2011
This is such an easy recipe, great if you've got a crowd for dinner or just want a simple dessert that you can make in advance.  You can vary the flavour of the cheesecake by choosing different jelly flavours each time, just make sure the jam compliments the flavour of the jelly.  Sometimes I put some frozen or fresh berries into the cheesecake mix and sprinkle some on top as well, just use what you have available.

250g rich tea (or plain chocolate) biscuits, crumbed

125g melted butter

85g packet flavoured jelly

250ml boiling water

500g softened cream cheese

80ml cup thickened cream

2 cups icing sugar

2 Tblsp jam of your choice

A little water to mix

Grease a 3cm-deep, 20cm x 30cm traybake tin. Line the base and sides with non-stick baking paper, allow a decent overhang on all sides.

Bash the biscuits until they're crumbs or use a food processor.  Add the melted butter and mix it well by hand, or use your food processor.  Press the mixture firmly over the base of the lined  traybake tin.  Cover it with clingfilm and put it in the fridge for about half an hour while you make the topping.

Meanwhile, put the jelly in a heatproof jug and add the boiling water.  Stir it well to dissolve the hjelly into the hot water.  Once it has dissolved, put it to one side to cool completely.

Using a had held electric mixer, beat the cream cheese until it's smooth, add the thickened cream and beat again so that the mixture combines well.  Slowly beat in the jelly mixture  Pour this mixture over the chilled biscuit base. Refrigerate for a minimum of 4 hours or until the cheesecake has set.

Just before you want to serve the cheesecake, mix the jam and icing sugar together until you get a spreadable icing mix.  Gently spread it icing mix over the top of the cheesecake.  Put the cheesecake back in the fridge for about 20 minutes until the icing sets.  Cut into small rectangles to serve for pudding, remember to keep some for the next day to enjoy with a cuppa.

Freezable Beef and Haricot Beans Bolognese Sauce

I tend to make a double batch of this just to freeze it for later or have on hand in case a friend needs an emergency dinner.  It is so quick to make and so versatile, you can have it with pasta ot baked potatoes - we've even had it on toast when the cupboards were bare.  Give it a whirl!

500 g beef mince

1 large onion, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed (I cheat and use the frozen cubes, or Very Lazy Garlic)

150ml red wine

400g can diced tomatoes

2 Tblsp tomato paste

400g can haricot beans, rinsed and drained

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp dried basil

Heat a small glug of olive oil in a frying-pan and cook the onion and garlic until soft and transparent.  Crank up the heat a bit and then add the beef mince, break up any large pieces and brown it well.  Add the red wine and wait for the hissing to stop.  The alcohol should evaporate and leave the flavour of the wine to enrich the sauce.

Add the tin of diced tomatoes, tomato paste, drained tin of haricot beans, and dried herbs. Give everything a good stir and then let the sauce simmer for at least 20 - 30 minutes.  Season the sauce to taste with salt and pepper.

While the sauce is simmering, you can cook some pasta to accompany it in a large pan of salted boiling water, according to instructions on the pasta packaging.

Toss the sauce through the drained cooked pasta and serve with some steamed greens.
If you wantto freeze the sauce for later, make sure that you only freeze the sauce and not the pasta.  You can defrost the sauce overnight in the fridge and reheat it thoroughly whilst cooking the pasta, or defrost the sauce in the microwave.  Either way I know I can get dinner on the table within 20 minutes from whine to dine. LOL

Basic Sponge Cakes

Tuesday 25 October 2011
Here are a couple of my never fail sponge cake recipes.  To be honest, I usually make the bung it all in version unless it's a really special occasion.  Give them a whirl!

Rather Fiddly Classic Sponge

50g cornflour

50g plain flour

50g self-raising flour

4 x 60g eggs, at room temperature

150g caster sugar

Grease 2 x deep, 20cm round cake tins and line the bases with non stick baking paper. Sift all of the different flours and 1/4 tsp salt together twice to get loads of air into it.

Preheat oven to 180C. Using an electric mixer, beat the eggs and sugar in a large bowl on medium-high speed for 6 minutes, or until mixture is thick, pale and has roughly trebbled in volume.

Gradually sift the flour mixture over the egg mixture and fold in with a large metal spoon until just combined. Divide the mixture between  the two prepared tins. Bake for 20 minutes or until the cakes have shrunk away from the sides slightly and spring back when gently touched in the middle.

Turn out on to baking paper-lined wire racks. Carefully peel away the baking paper from the cakes and  then leave them to cool.

The Bung It All In Together Sponge

225g butter, softened

225g caster sugar

225g self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder

4 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.  Grease and line 2 x 20cm (8in) round sponge cake tins with non stick baking paper.
Put the softened butter, caster sugar, flour, baking powder, eggs and vanilla extract into a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until thoroughly blended, pale and creamy.  Divide the mixture between the two lined cake tins and gently level the surface. Don't bang the tins on the bench or you will knock the air out of the mix.

Bake for 20-25 mins until the cakes look golden brown and spring back when you lightly press them in the middle with your fingertip. Leave in the tin for 2-3 mins, then turn out on to a cooling rack and peel the non-stick baking paper off. Leave to cool completely before sandwiching them together with jam & cream or buttercream.


As regular readers of my blog will know, I am a member of the Wordfoods Fusion Taste Team and this week is Malaysian Week.  I cooked a delicious chicken dish using WORLDFOODS MALAYSIAN CHILLI COCONUT MARINADE.

The recipe we were given was as follows:

To make Ayam Percik, chicken is coated in the spicy coconut marinade before and during cooking over a charcoal fire, or here in the UK - under a grill or in the oven.  Ayam Percik literally translates as "chicken splash" - this is because as the chicken is cooking over the fire, or in the oven, more marinade is spread over the chicken to strengthen the flavour.

Serves 4-6


6 chicken thighs

1 tablespoon cooking oil

2 tablespoon deep-fried shallots, finely chopped

Marinate chicken with WORLDFOODS MALAYSIAN CHILLI COCONUT MARINADE for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat grill or BBQ.

Cook meat on medium heat, turning occasionally until done and slightly charred, about 20-30 minutes depending on size. Occasionally spread on some more marinade.

Serve hot with white rice or bread.

To make the dish less spicy:

Use less of the sauce, add in some coconut milk or yoghurt to make it less intense. Taste the sauce before you marinade the chicken to make sure it is at the level of spiciness that you want.

If you're vegetarian or you don't want to use chicken, feel free to use it to marinate something else.

Marinating overnight will produce stronger flavours in your chicken, fish or tofu.

Our version:

This was a great dish that the whole family enjoyed.  I added some coconut milk to make the marinade a little milder so that it wasn't too spicy for the children, just really flavoursome with a little chilli heat. There was no way I was going to deep fry diced shallots so I left them out.  I cooked the chicken in the oven, basting it occasionally with more marinade, and served it with some of our usual vegetable rice, the recipe is below.  Here's a pic of our delicious chicken dish:

Lightly Spiced Vegetable Rice

I use this rice recipe whenever I need to serve a dish with rice.   It's so easily adaptable, just leave out the tumeric and cumin if you need plain rice without spice, or add herbs for a completely different flavour.  You could also use plain water instead of vegetable stock if you wanted too, although it does taste a little bland without the vegetable stock.

700ml boiling water (from a just boiled kettle is fine)

1 vegetable stock cube

1 pepper, diced

200g can sweetcorn, drained

1 onion, diced

2 Tblsp olive oil

350g easy-cook long grain rice

100g frozen mixed vegetables

1 tsp cumin
1 tsp tumeric

Dissolve the stock cube in the boiling water.  Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat and add the onion and pepper,  Gently fry them for around 3 minutes.  Add the rice and cook for a further 2 minutes, stirring it all the time so the rice doesn't burn.  Add the drained sweetcorn, frozen mixed vegetables, turmeric and cumin then cook for a further minute or so until the spices are fragrant. 

Add the stock and stir well, mixing everything together well. Bring to the boil and simmer uncovered for 3 minutes.

Put the lid on the saucepan then remove it from the heat and leave to stand for 20 minutes.  DO NOT take the lid off during the 20 minutes of standing time!
Give it a good stir or fluff it up with a fork before serving.  .

Don't forget you can follow Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team on Twitter @fusiontasteteam and don't forget to check out the Wordfoods Facebook Page.

Versatile Vegetable Soup

Monday 24 October 2011
This is such an easy and filling soup. You can use sweet potato instead of pumpkin, and add frozen mixed vegetables instead of the tin of sweetcorn. The recipe is easily adjusted to feed more or less people and is great to take in a flask as a warming packed lunch when the weather is cold.

1 Tblsp olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, crushed

650g butternut squash or pumpkin, peeled and diced

1 red or yellow pepper, diced

750ml (3 cups) reduced-salt vegetable stock

750ml (3 cups) water

1 cup brown lentils, rinsed

1 x 420g can four bean mix, drained and rinsed

1 x 270g can sweetcorn kernels, drained

hadful of thin spaghetti or other dried pasta, broken into pieces

1 cup/handful baby spinach

Heat oil in a large saucepan. Add onion, garlic, pumpkin/butternuet squash and red or yellow pepper then cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally for 2 - 3 minutes.

Pour in the vegetable stock and water before adding the small pieces of pasta, lentils, 4 bean mix and sweetcorn.  Bring everything to the boil, then reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.

Stir through spinach and allow it to wilt before you serve the soup with a slice of crusty wholegrain bread or a bread roll.

Nairn's Sweet Red Pepper Oatcakes Review

Tuesday 18 October 2011
I was recently sent some Nairn's Oatcakes to review, they were the new Sweet Red Pepper Flavour.  I really like Nairn's Oatcakes as part of a packed lunch or a quick snack and my favourite way to enjoy them is with some extra light flavoured cream cheese or homemade hummus.  I  have tried the Herb and Punpkin flavour in the past and was curious to see if I liked the new flavour just as much.

There are 5 packets of 6 crackers in each box, great to put in lunchboxes as there's just the right number of crackers for a decent snack.  I took some to London with me on the train to an evening event as I knew I would be hungry.  I had mine without a dip, just accompanied by cup of coffee to wash them down.  They were full of flavour, moreish and rather delicious, they satisfied my hunger pangs without leaving  me feeling too full.

Apparently, Nairn's Oatcakes are naturally nutritious because oats are high in soluble fibre and this means they're packed full of slow release energy carbohydrates and this means that you feel fuller for longer and hopefully snack less.  I was more  concerned about how they taste, rather than all the health benefits, because if they taste good we're more likely to enjoy eating them. 

According to the packaging, Nairn's oatcakes are also wheat free and contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives.  

There are loads of great recipes for toppings and how to use Nairn's Oatcakes in meals and kid friendly suggestions on the Nairn's Oatcakes website.  You can also find Nairn's Oatcakes on Facebook and Twitter.

Give them a go, they're delicious!

Discover Organic Cookbook Review

Monday 17 October 2011
Discover Organic, is the new cookbook by the Organic Trade Board’s Why I Love Organic campaign, and can be purchased from Waitrose stores across the UK (RRP £14.99).  I was lucky enough to be sent a copy of this fabulous cookbook to review.

It's a beautifully illustrated cookbook that features 70 delicious recipes from well-known personalities and TV chefs including BBC presenter Kate Humble, Boxer David Haye, Chefs Raymond Blanc and Lorraine Pascale, and former F1 World Champion racing driver Jody Scheckter.

In the Discover Organic cookbook, celebrities, chefs and home cooks share their passion for organic food, and show just how easy it is to eat organic. Their stories and recipes demonstrate how eating organic doesn’t have to be difficult, exclusive or expensive - which is the main thing that stops people like me from regularly buying organic food, although we do get an organic fruit and vege box delivered each week. 

Talking about her involvement in the new cookbook, BBC Presenter Kate Humble commented; ‘Food is our daily fuel and our children’s future, so as consumers and as citizens, it’s important to make the right food choices. When I buy organic it's because of the wildlife factor. I am 100% in favour of farmers looking after wildlife and many farmers do that. But with organic you get the extra reassurance on the label."

Here are a couple of delicious recipes suitable for Meatfree Monday from this fab cookbook:

Roasted Carrot and Hummus Dip

This dish makes a tasty change to traditional hummus and is perfect for a light lunch, snack or autumn appetiser. Not to mention the fact that the high vegetable content of this recipe puts you well on your way to eating your 5-a-day.

Serves 4

For the Hummus:

350g organic carrots, washed, trimmed and cut into 2cm chunks

3 cloves of garlic, unpeeled

2tsp cumin seeds

2tbsp olive oil

1 tin of organic chickpeas in water, drained

Juice of 1 lemon

For the crudités:

1 carrot, peeled and cut into batons

1 green pepper, cut into batons

10 cherry tomatoes

10 mushrooms

1. Preheat the oven to 220ºC, Gas Mark 7.

2. Place the carrots in a small roasting tin, add the garlic, cumin and 1 tbsp of the olive oil, and toss to mix.

3. Place the garlic under the carrots and roast for 15–20 minutes or until the carrots are tender and lightly charred.

4. Add the chickpeas to the roasting tin and stir well to coat them with the cooking juices.

5. Remove the skin from the garlic and discard.

6. Transfer the ingredients to a food processor, add the remaining oil and lemon juice, then use the pulse setting to blend to a creamy pureé. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Transfer to a bowl and serve with the vegetable crudités.

Toffee Apple Yogurt Cake

Serves 6

For the cake:

175 g unsalted butter, softened slightly

175 g golden caster sugar, plus a little extra for sprinkling on top

3 large free-eggs, beaten

200 g self-raising flour

½ tsp ground cinnamon

45 ml organic toffee yogurt

1 Cox’s apple, cored and diced

For the icing:

75 g butter

175 g icing sugar

2 tbsp organic toffee yogurt

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C, Gas mark 4.

2. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.

3. Gradually beat in the eggs, adding a teaspoon of flour if the mixture begins to curdle.

4. Sieve and then fold in the flour and cinnamon, followed by the yogurt and apple.

5. Divide the mixture between two greased and lined 17.5 cm sandwich tins and cook for 20–25 minutes until golden and springy to the touch.

6. Turn the cakes out of their tins and cool on a wire rack.

7. To make the icing, beat the butter until fluffy then gradually add the icing sugar, stirring until smooth. Add the yogurt and mix well, being careful not to over-beat.

8. Sandwich the cakes together with the icing, and sprinkle the extra caster sugar over the top.

Tip: If toffee yogurt’s not your thing, try using organic Greek-style yogurt with honey or natural yogurt with vanilla.

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches - Review

Sunday 16 October 2011

The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches is written by Susan Russo, who writes for NPR's Kitchen Window, and also blogs at Food Blogga. Susan Russo's Encyclopedia of Sandwiches includes everything from "recipes to history to trivia for everything between sliced bread."

This cookbook offers recipes for over 100 sandwiches from the Vegetarian Caprese Sandwich, to the artery hardening All-in-One Breakfast Sandwich made with waffles, bacon, hash-browns, eggs and maple syrup, to the deliciously decadent Muffinwich, Poundcake Sandwich and Banana Split Sandwich.

In our household my husband's daily packed lunch always consists of a bagel with the same fillings on it, or leftovers from the previous night's dinner. This book has inspired him to branch out in to more interesting choices, just as long as I make his lunches for him, otherwise he still makes the same thing.  I always try to make the kids lunches interesting and flavourful but my husband has always escaped change, no excuses now for him though.  What is great  about this book is that all the thinking has been done for me.  I can choose a few ideas, using ingredients I already have, or can create feasts simply by adding a few things to my shopping list.  Our packed lunches are much tastier and more exciting since having a good read through The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches over a cuppa.

I really like the fact that each sandwich recipe has some explanation and history.  It makes it an interesting read, not just recipes for sandwiches. I think The Encyclopedia of Sandwiches is a must for makers of packed lunches because the book is not just loads of recipes, but loads of fun too.  Sandwiches are a part of our daily lives, so we should make sure we have a bit of variety and inspiration.  Mix things up a bit, try something different, and make sure we don't keep on eating the same sandwich everyday.

Give the book a read, I highly recommend it!

Lunchbox Filler - Mini Frittatas

These are great for picnics, packed lunch boxes and an easy standby when savoury options for bring a plate functions are needed.  You can leave out the bacon if you want to make vegetarian frittatas, or use small chunks of precooked vegetarian sausages if you like.  You can even use gluten free self raising flour instead of normal self raising flour.

Sometimes I add finely chopped peppers or courgettes and cook those with the onions, adding feta instead of cheddar cheese to vary the flavour.  These are so easily adaptable and you can use whatever you have available in your fridge or cupboards. 

1 large onion, chopped

2-3 rashers bacon, trimmed of fat and roughly chopped (optional)

1 tsp oil

1/2 cup self-raising flour (or use gluten free self raising flour)

3 eggs

1 cup milk

2 potatoes, cubed and cooked

410g can whole kernel corn

60g grated cheese

1 spring onion, chopped (or use fresh chives, parsley or coriander)

salt and pepper to season

cooking spray or a little oil on some kitchen towel

Preheat your oven to 220°C.

Cook the onion and bacon in the oil until soft, and then set aside to cool.

Put the self raising flour in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the eggs, milk and cooled onion and bacon. Season with salt and pepper then beat with well a fork to thoroughly combine everything. Pour this egg mixture into the bowl containing the flour and stir until everything has just combined.  Add the cooked and cooled potatoes, drained can of corn, two-thirds of the grated cheese and the chopped spring onion or herbs.

Spray a 12-cup metal muffin tin thoroughly with cooking spray, or lightly grease with some oil on a kitchen towel, and spoon mixture into cups.  A metal muffin tin will give the best results.

Top with remaining grated cheese and cook at 220°C for 25-35 minutes. Let the frittatas cool for 5 minutes before turning out of the tin or cutting.  Serve with a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce, tomato relish or chutney and a side salad.

Tom Yum Soup - Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team Challenge Number 3

Saturday 15 October 2011
This weeks challenge from WORLDFOODS, using their Tom Yum Paste, was Tom Yum Soup.  This soup is very appropriately named as is incredibly YUM!  It combines hot and sour flavours with fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables.  Typical ingredients are stalks of lemon grass, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, and chilli - but all the hard work has been done for you with WORLDFOODS Tom Yum Paste.  The soup is usually made with fish or chicken, but you can substitute tofu instead if you're vegetarian.  Mine was totally vegetables with no protein at all, I did however add a few extra mushrooms of different types and some other vegetables to bulk it out a bit.

Here are the delicious recipes we were given to base our dishes on:

May's Thai Tom Yum Goong

serves 2-4

4 tbsp Tom Yum Paste

200ml water

60g shrimps

60g straw mushrooms (or any variety you wish)

(optional 100ml coconut milk)

1. Stir in 4 tbsp of Tom Yum Paste in 200ml of water and bring to a boil.

2. Add in 60g of shrimp, peeled leaving tails on and 60g of mushrooms.

3. Simmer over medium heat until shrimp is cooked.

4. Stir in 100ml of coconut milk and bring to a boil.

5. Garnish with coriander leaves.

Alternatively follow the recipe for our Tom Yum fried rice if you're feeling a little more hungry or have more mouths to feed!

May's Tom Yum Seafood Rice

Serves 2-4

1 tablespoon olive oil

300g (10.7 oz) cooked rice, cooked as per pack instructions

100g frozen mixed vegetables

6 fresh mushrooms (optional), halved

1 thin slice ginger, finely chopped

100g (3.5oz) raw prawns, shelled and deveined

1.5 tbsp WORLDFOODS Thai Tom Yum Paste

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan or wok. Add ginger and stir fry till fragrant.

2. Stir in the tom yum paste and fry for 1 minute until aromatic. Add mixed vegetables, mushrooms, prawns and stir for 2 minutes.

3. Stir in rice and cook for further 5 minutes until heated through.

*Rice for frying can be cooked at least 2 hours in advance or the night before - this ensures that it is slightly less moist and better for stir-frying.  To pad this soup out you could add cooked noodles, barley or rice.

Please pay attention to the paste ratio guidelines - it should be roughly one teaspoon per person. Taste it as you go and if it is not to your liking, add some more water, or more paste. You can also add more or less coconut milk to suit your taste.

Here's a picture of my Tom Yum Soup that I made using the recipe provided above.  It smelt, and was, delicious!

It was much easier using the WORLDFOODS TomYum Paste than making the paste from scratch and tasted authentic.  I made some for a friend and I to eat for lunch as it was a rather miserable grey day and we were both fighting off the beginnings of a cold.  It brightened a rather chilly day, tasted delicious and cleared away some of our minor cold symptoms as well. Result!

Don't forget you can follow Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team on Twitter @fusiontasteteam and don't forget to check out the Wordfoods Facebook Page.

Divine Chocolate Recipes for Chocolate Week

Friday 14 October 2011
I was delighted to be sent some recipes from Divine Chocolate and be asked to publish them for Chocolate Week.  KitchenAid teamed up with Divine Chocolate to create the following delicious chocolate recipes: Creamy Cappuccino Cheesecake, The Ultimate Choc Chip Cookies and White Chocolate Cheesecake Cake.  All the recipes have been created by Linda Collister for the Divine Chocolate Cookbook.

Creamy Cappuccino Cheesecake

A really creamy and deeply flavoured cheesecake. The base is a dark chocolate mocha biscuit-crumb combination which contrasts with the coffee filling. Look out for Fairtrade instant coffee to flavour the filling and choose top quality full-fat cream cheese.


For the base

1 x 100g bar Divine coffee chocolate

50g unsalted butter, diced

200g digestive biscuits

For the filling

500g best quality cream cheese

125g light muscovado sugar

50g caster sugar

2 rounded teaspoons instant coffee dissolved in 1 tablespoon hot water

1 tablespoon Kahlua (optional)

2 large free range eggs

To finish

Divine cocoa powder for dusting

23cm spring-clip tin, greased, set on a baking tray
Heat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3.

To make the base: break up the chocolate and melt very gently with the butter in a large heatproof mixing bowl (see page 16). Remove the bowl from the heat and stir gently until smooth. Put the biscuits into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin to make fine crumbs.

Tip the crumbs into the melted chocolate, mix well and then tip the mixture into the prepared tin. Using the back of a spoon, press the mixture into the base of the tin and halfway up its sides. Chill until needed.

To make the filling: put the cream cheese, both sugars, dissolved coffee, Kahlua (if using) and the eggs into the bowl of a food processor and run the machine until the mixture is very smooth.

Pour the filling into the tin set on the baking tray. Bake in the heated oven for 40 minutes until just set, then turn off the heat and leave the cheesecake to cool in the oven. When completely cold cover and chill overnight.

To serve, carefully unclip the tin and set the cheesecake on a serving plate. Dust heavily with cocoa.

Store, tightly covered, in the fridge and eat within 4 days.

The Ultimate Chocoalte Chip Cookies

Rather than using the usual supermarket chocolate drops, these cookies are made with proper chunks of lovely dark chocolate, plus extra cocoa and crunchy nuts. 


1 x 100g bar Divine dark chocolate

100g walnut or pecan pieces

125g unsalted butter, soft

100g caster sugar

100g light muscovado sugar

1 large free range egg

220g plain flour

3 tablespoons Divine cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

2 non-stick baking trays, ungreased
Heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4.

Break up the chocolate into squares and mix with the nuts. Set aside until needed.

Put the soft butter and the sugars into the bowl of a food mixer and beat with the whisk attachment until soft and fluffy. Scrape down the sides then beat in the egg.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda into the bowl. Mix well then stir in the chocolate squares and nuts.

Using a heaped tablespoon of mixture for each cookie, roll the mixture into balls then arrange them on the baking trays, flatten slightly with your fingers, spacing the cookies well apart to allow for spreading. Bake in the heated oven for about 12–15 minutes or until just firm, and then remove the trays from the oven and leave to cool for 5 minutes before transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container and eat within 5 days or freeze for up to a month.

White Chocolate Cheesecake


A dark chocolate crumb base topped with a rich and creamy white chocolate filling. The orange and lemon zests, along with the slight saltiness of the cream cheese give a real tang to avoid any cloying.
For the base

2 tablespoons Divine cocoa

75g unsalted butter, melted

150g digestives, crushed

50g caster sugar

For the filling

2 x 100g bars Divine white chocolate

3 tablespoons warm water

600g good quality cream cheese

75g caster sugar

grated zest of 1/2 unwaxed orange

grated zest and juice of 1/2 unwaxed lemon

1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence

2 large free range eggs

To finish

Divine plain chocolate shavings or cocoa

23cm springclip tin, greased and base-lined, set on a baking tray

Heat the oven to 150C/300F/Gas 2.

Make the base first: mix the cocoa with the melted butter then stir in the biscuit crumbs and the sugar. When thoroughly combined tip the mixture into the tin and, using the back of a spoon, press firmly onto the base and about 2cm up the sides. Chill until needed.

Break up the white chocolate and melt gently with the water. Remove the bowl from the heat, stir gently and leave to cool until needed. Put the cream cheese, sugar, orange zest, lemon juice and zest, vanilla and eggs into the bowl of a food processor.

Run the machine until the mixture is very smooth, scraping down the sides from time to time. Add the melted chocolate and run the machine until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the chilled base, then set the tin (on the baking tray) into the heated oven and bake for 40 minutes. Once cooked turn off the oven but do not remove the cheesecake and leave to cool for an hour. Then remove the tin, leave to cool completely then cover and chill overnight.

When ready to serve, run a round-bladed knife inside the tin to loosen the cheesecake then unclip the tin. Decorate with plain chocolate shavings or dust with cocoa.

Store in an airtight container in the fridge and eat within 4 days.

Frugal Birthday Party Ideas

Thursday 13 October 2011
I'm absolutely delighted that one of my favourite bloggers, Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family, has written a Guest Post on Birthday Parties for me.  My 4yo will turn 5 on Satiurday, aside from the shock that my youngest child is going to be 5yo, I needed some inspiration and ideas for the party that are really cheap to keep costs down.

Over to Cass from The Diary of a Frugal Family:

One of the happiest memories from my childhood is of my sixth birthday party - trust me, I have the video to prove it as my dad spent the whole day following everyone around with a giant camcorder with my brother following closely behind him with some sort of lighting attachment. I think that this may be the reason why I love celebrating the children’s birthdays with them so much. Every year since they started school, they’ve both had a party - sometimes big parties for the whole class and sometimes smaller parties with just a few friends. Either way we always have lots of ideas to make sure we have as much fun as possible for as little money as possible:

*As popular as parties at the local bowling alley or go kart track are, I’ve found that children love the good old fashioned parties with the same games that we enjoyed when we were younger.

* Our local church hall costs 30 pounds to hire for a two hour party and holds up to 35 children which means that the whole class can come. We took a CD player and filled the room with about 100 balloons (husband wasn’t happy when he got that job) and let them get rid of lots of energy running round and popping them all before playing pass the parcel, musical statues, musical chairs and pin the tail on the donkey.

* We’ve had a pamper party where my daughter invited six friends round and my friend came and curled all the girls’ hair and did their nails while we had the Wii on in the other room. For about six months after this, every party my daughter was invited to was a pamper party!

* We’ve hired a party fire engine for my little boy and six of his friends and got a good deal as we asked for a shorter ride than the hour that they usually taken them out for. Trust me, half an hour is more than enough for six little boys in an enclosed space with no toilet.

* Last year we had a pink tea party where everyone had to come in pink (it’s OK - they’re all girly girls) and all the food was pink.

* We’ve hired a bouncy castle for the garden at a cost of about 40 pounds which kept everyone occupied for the whole two hours.

* When I was working full time, we also had a few parties at the Wacky Warehouse which works out to about 120 pounds for 20 children including an hours play in the ball pool, a hot meal and a party bag - not very frugal but it still represents good value for money and is always a popular party idea.

Food wise we never go overboard as I find that the kids don’t tend to eat too much while there’s a party going on. I make some ham, egg and tuna sandwiches (I hate sweaty cheese sandwiches), some sausage rolls and mini pizzas, hot dogs on cocktail sticks, crisps and lots of fairy cakes. We usually have strawberries and grapes too although that does tend to use up a lot of the budget so I guess if you’re being frugal you could easily do without them.

I don’t tend to bother making the cake myself now after the last cake I made ended up costing about three times what a cake would have cost to buy - it was fantastic though and sealed my reputation as the school’s premier party throwing parent (not really lol).

My pet hate is party bags filled with sugary things and plastic tat so I always stock up on things just after the kids go back to school and then again after Christmas when you can usually get stacks of things reduced to ridiculously low prices. This year my 9 y/o’s party bags consisted of a light up Hello Kitty pen, a Hello Kitty key ring, a notebook, some bubbles and two packets of sweets - all for under one pound fifty a bag. Oh, and try not to forget to put the cake in the bag like I did ;-)

Whatever you decide to do, take lots of pictures. I always take one of everyone at the party for the kids to keep and if it’s a smallish party I get a copy of it printed out for everyone.

And don’t stress out, the guests won’t care if you forget something or if something doesn’t go according to plan.

Do check out the fab The Diary of a Frugal Family blog for loads of great ideas, recipes and adventures.

Sainsbury's Meal Planning - New Evening Meal Plans

Tuesday 11 October 2011
I blogged about when we tried out the Sainsbury's Feed Your Family for £50 Meal Planner here

As part of their new Live Well For Less Campaign, Sainsbury's have just launched a new 5 for £20 meal plan. The plan is made up of new and established family favourites like Smoked Salmon and Pea Spaghetti and Sweet Potato and Chicken Hotpot, it’s full of great recipe ideas. 

There are SEVEN fabulous Evening Meal Plans.  All the hard work of planning dinners has been done for you, all you have to do is add the ingredients to your shopping list and follow the plan. All the meals are delicious and easy to prepare with simple recipes to follow along with.

We tried out a plan the week before payday last month as we were broke needed to economise and it was great.  There were no complaints about the dinners, all the ingredients were available and easily added to the online shopping basket.  There are Vegetarian options for all the meals as well.

I would thoroughly recommend the Evening Meal Plans to those families needing/wanting to stick to a budget and that maybe don't have the time or urge to compile Meal Plans themselves.  There are SEVEN to choose from so lots of variety and with Vegetarian options for each meal, everyone is catered for.

I was also send some fab new Sainsbury's Ready Rolled Puff Pastry to try, which has featured in their new advertisement. You can find it in the chiller aisle of the supermarket and it's pre-rolled which makes life loads easier when you're in a rush to prepare a meal or pudding.  I found it was really easy to use, puffed up well and had an excellent flavour.

I used the Sainsbury's Ready Rolled Puff Pastry to make some snacks for an evening PCC meeting.  I used a recipe from the Sainsbury's Website too, although I made 8 smaller puffs instead of 4 large ones.

1 small red onion

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

175g frozen mixed diced vegetables

175g cooked chickpeas

2 tablespoons mild curry paste

375g ready rolled puff pastry

1 medium egg, beaten

1 tablespoon coriander seeds, lightly crushed

Freshly ground black pepper

Preheat the oven to 220°C, 425°F, gas mark 7. Peel and finely chop the onion and then toss in the lemon juice. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and gently fry the onion for 2-3 minutes until just softened.

Add the vegetables, chickpeas and curry paste and stir fry for a further 3 minutes.

Remove from the heat, season and cool for 15 minutes. Divide the pastry into 4. Roll out each piece on a lightly floured surface to a 20cm square.

Divide the vegetables between each piece of pastry. Brush the edges with egg and fold over to form triangular parcels. Scrunch the edges together to seal and transfer to a baking sheet. Brush all over with egg and sprinkle with coriander seeds.

Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden and risen. Best served hot with a side salad.

Photo courtesy of Sainsburys

Don't forget to check out the Sainsbury's Live Well For Less website for loads of great money saving ideas.  You can find Sainsbury's on Facebook and Twitter too.

Meatfree Monday - Lentil Moussaka

Monday 10 October 2011
2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

2 red peppers, deseeded and chopped into large pieces

2 Tblsp tomato puree

2 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried thyme

1 bay leaf

225g dried Puy lentils

1 Tblsp tomato ketchup

3×400g tins chopped tomatoes

300ml vegetable stock

salt and pepper

3 large aubergines, thickly sliced

4 Tblsp olive oil

For the cheese sauce:

560ml natural yoghurt

225g cottage cheese

2 eggs

175g hard cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200°C (400°F) Gas Mark 6. Heat about 2 tbsp olive oil in a large frying pan. Add the onions, garlic, peppers and cook gently for about 10 minutes or until the onion just turn golden brown and the peppers have softened.

Add the lentils, herbs including the bay leaf, tomato puree, tomato ketchup and to the pan and stir it around for a couple of minutes. Add the chopped tomatoes and stock and bring everything to the boil.  Reduce the heat and bring everything to a simmer.  Remove any scum that comes to the surface whilst the lentils are cooking. Simmer the lentils for about 50 – 1 hour minutes or until the lentils are cooked, remove the bay leaf. This step can be done the day before or you can cook the lentils this way and freeze them for later use.  Just make sure to thoroughly defrost them overnight in the fridge before you use them.

Meanwhile, preheat the grill or a frying pan.  Brush the aubergine slices with the remaining olive oil and season to taste. Cook the aubergine in batches until tender, soft and golden brown.  This usually takes about 10 minutes on each side.

Beat together the eggs, yoghurt, cottage cheese and grated hard cheese.

To assemble the Moussaka, spoon half the lentil mixture into a large dish about 25×33cm. Cover with half the aubergine slices then spoon over half the cheese sauce mixture. Repeat with the remaining lentil mixture, aubergine slices and cheese sauce.

Cook in the oven for about 30-40 minutes at 200°C (400°F) Gas Mark 6. or until golden on top and piping hot.

Basic Bread Recipe

Sunday 9 October 2011
The recipe I'm asked for most (apart from my top secret chocolate brownie recipe) is what bread recipe I use. So here it is the standard bread recipe that I know off by heart and use most often. I've been using it for many years so am unsure of its exact origins, I think it may have been my Nan's. I've adapted it over the years too, this is the current version. I can't guarantee that I won't change it again though LOL You can halve the recipe if you don’t want to make as much bread, but bread can be frozen for later so I usually make a decent batch so there’s always some on available.

My daughters love kneading bread and I often give them some of the dough from a batch to shape how they choose and bake it for their lunch. It’s like edible play dough. Their favourite shapes are snails, hedgehogs and Catherine wheel/windmill shapes. They’ve even kneaded 100s and 1000s into the dough when they’ve had friends over to make it fairy bread. Traditional variations of shape and flavour follow the main recipe.

7 cups plain white or bread flour (use what you have)

1 1/2 tablespoons sugar

4 teaspoons salt

2 sachets instant yeast

1/4 cup olive oil

Combine – to make lukewarm liquid, not hot:

1 1/4 cups hot water

1 1/4 cups cold milk

Mix the dry ingredients together in a big bowl. Stir in the liquid, using more or less liquid as required to make a soft dough. Add the liquid gradually but don’t panic if you add too much liquid, you can knead in extra flour.

Once a soft dough has formed, turn the dough onto a floured bench and knead well - stretching and turning the dough for 5-10 minutes until it becomes smooth and elastic. Add flour to the bench as required during the kneading process to prevent the dough sticking. Less and less flour will be needed as the dough is worked. Try not to add too much flour as it may dry out the dough. Alternatively, do what I do, knead it using an electric mixer with a dough hook for about 5-7 minutes until it becomes smooth and springs back when a pushed lightly with a floured finger.

Put the dough into a clean greased bowl, flip it over once to grease the top surface of the dough, cover with cling film and leave it to rise. Covering the bowl with cling film, traps warm moist air around the dough, keeping it at the optimum temperature to promote rising and get the yeast to work its magic. If you have a microwave, and are short of time, you can speed the rising process up by giving the dough bursts of 1 minute on low power (10-20%) then allowing it to rest for 10 minutes before repeating with 1 minute on low power. If you don’t have a microwave, set the dough aside in a warm place until it has doubled in size.

When the dough has risen to double its original size, knead it lightly and shape as you like.

For loaves, divide the dough in 2, roll or press the dough into rectangles slightly longer than the loaf tin. Roll up tightly from the long edge (like a Swiss roll), tuck the ends under and put them, seam side down, into a well greased loaf tin. Cover loosely with a clean cloth or recover it with cling film. When it has risen for about 10 or 15 minutes, cut diagonal slashes in the top with a serrated knife.

Leave until doubled in size again and then bake at 200°C for around 30 minutes, until the bread looks golden and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Flavour and shape variations


Divide the dough into 24 pieces. Roll each piece on the bench and shape it how you like; if you want them to look fancy you can shape them into knots and tuck the end underneath to hide it. Put the shaped rolls on to a tray lined with non-stick baking paper. When the rolls have doubled in size brush them gently with beaten egg and sprinkle with poppy, sesame, or a mixture of other seeds. Bake for around 20 minutes at 200°C.

Wholemeal bread

Substitute up to 1/2 the flour with wholemeal flour and continue the recipe the same as for white bread. You can also shape this version into rolls.

Mixed seed bread

Use 3 cups white flour, 2 cups wholemeal flour and make up 2 cups of mixed seeds. I use a combination of pumpkin, sunflower, linseed, sesame and poppy seeds. Increase the yeast to 2 1/2 sachets to help the bread rise. Because the dough is much denser than 'all flour' bread it won't rise as much. The bread is delicious with cheese and tastes fab toasted if you like dense, seedy breads.

Spicy fruit bread

Use 2 1/2 sachets yeast, as for the mixed seed bread. Replace the white sugar with 1/2 cup firmly packed light soft brown sugar. Add 1/2 cup currants, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/2 cup mixed peel and 1/2 cup sultanas - or 2 cups luxury dried fruit mix to the dough. Mix into the dry ingredients: 3 1/2 teaspoons mixed spice, 3 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1 1/2 teaspoons all spice and 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves. Use 1/2 cup of oil and add 2 eggs. Reduce the other liquid to 1/2 cup each of water and milk.

Great British Bake Off Technical Bakes

Saturday 8 October 2011
I'm working my way though the Great British Bake Off Technical Bakes at one per week or so.  Previously I blogged about making Paul Hollywood's Iced Fingers.  If you've baked one of the Great British Bake Off Technical Bakes and blogged about it, please link up the recipe so we can all take a look and show each other some baking support. 

Today for lunch I made:

Paul Hollywood's Focaccia

500g/1lb 2oz strong white bread flour

2 tsp salt

2 sachets dried easy blend yeast

2 Tbsp olive oil

400ml/14fl oz cold water

olive oil, for drizzling

fine sea salt

Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and 300ml/10½fl oz of the water into a large bowl. Gently stir with your hand or a wooden spoon to form a dough then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes, gradually adding the remaining water.

Stretch the dough by hand in the bowl, tuck the sides into the centre, turn the bowl 80 degrees and repeat the process for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto an oiled work surface and continue kneading for five more minutes. Return the dough to the bowl, cover and leave to rise until doubled in size.

Line two large baking sheets with greaseproof paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two portions. Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, pushing to the corners, then leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas 7. Drizzle the loaves with oil, sprinkle with fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 20 minutes. When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve hot or warm.

I found the recipe a bit fiddly especially adding all the water gradually but watched Paul's Masterclass on BBC iPlayer and after watching it a couple of times found kneading and mixing the dough a bit easier. 

And here's the result:

Ready for the oven

Fresh from the oven

Ready to eat
I wonder what Paul Hollywood would think of it? Decent air holes in it and it tasted rather fab accompanied by some tomato soup for lunch today.

Link up your bakes so we can all take a look!

Quick Lentil and Vegetable Soup

Friday 7 October 2011
1 Tblsp olive oil

2 carrots, peeled and diced

2 courgette, diced

2 sticks celery, diced

1 onion, finely chopped

400g tin chopped tomatoes

500ml (2 cups) vegetable stock

400g can brown lentils, drained and rinsed

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium-high heat. Add the diced carrots, courgette, celery and finely chopped onion.  Cook, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until the vegetables begin to soften.

Add the tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock to the saucepan. Cover and bring to the boil.  Once boiling reduce heat to medium-low.  Simmer, partially covered, for 15 minutes or until vegetables are soft and tender.

Add the drained and rinsed lentils to the soup.  Cook for 5 minutes or until the lentils are well heated through.  Season with freshly ground black pepper to taste then serve with crusty bread.

Easy Tasty Meatloaf

Thursday 6 October 2011
This isn't one of those meatloaves that look and taste like a brick. It's moist and flavoursome, you can serve it hot or cold with salads or cooked vegetables,  and is fab in packed lunches the next day.  I cheat by using supermarket or butchers sausages that are already flavoured.  You can get some great ones that are around 95% meat so not full of loads of undesireable ingredients to fill them out.

2 garlic cloves, crushed

500g beef mince

400g sausage meat (I use flavoured sausages with 95% meat)

2 carrots, peeled and grated

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 onion, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

black pepper to taste

If you're not using flavoured sausages then add:

2 tsp Dijon mustard

2 tsp dried mixed herbs

1 handful chopped fresh parsley


1/3 cup rolled oats

2 Tblsp brown sugar, firmly packed

1/3 cup tomato sauce/ketchup

Preheat oven to 190°C/170°C fan-forced.  Grease a 7cm deep, 10cm x 22cm (base) loaf tin. 

Put the garlic, mince, sausage meat, egg, onion, grated carrot and any herbs or flavourings you want to use, into a large bowl. Thoroughly combine everything using your hands to really squish it all together to that it's really well blended.  Press the mixture firmly into the loaf tin and level the top.  Combine the topping ingredients and then spread it evenly over the meatloaf.  Cover with foil then bake for 30 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for a further 30 minutes or until juices run clear when you test it with a skewer.

Ryvita and Icecream Recipes by Valentine Warner

Wednesday 5 October 2011
I know what you're thinking, I've finally boarded the loopy train to Lalaland! LOL Nope, I haven't!

The delectable Valentine Warner has teamed up with Ryvita to give you the inspiration to surprise your family and/or dinner party guests with a delicious new way to serve ice cream.

Don't knock it until you've tried it - I tried Valentine Warner's recipe and it was delicious!

Balancing the creamy, melt in the mouth texture of your favourite icecream with crunchy Ryvita®, Valentine Warner has created a delicious Ryvita Caramel Crunch ice-Cream. It's a quick and simple dessert that's fun to make and is sure to wow even the most discerning guests at your next dinner party.

Valentine Warner’s Ryvita Original Crispbread Caramel Crunch Ice Cream

Serves 6

4 Ryvita Original Crispbread

200g granulated sugar

8 egg yolks

400ml double cream

300ml whole milk

Smash the Ryvita into crumbs a little smaller than the size of corn flakes. Put half the sugar in a small frying pan with 2 tablespoons of cold water and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and cook until it turns a rich caramel colour. This will take approximately 5-6 minutes and needs checking regularly. Do not stir with a spoon while the sugar boils. Just as it starts to colour, swirl the pan in order to get an even colouring and prevent burning.

When the caramel is ready, stir the Ryvita® crumbs through it thoroughly, then tip them onto a sheet of greaseproof paper and spread out, though expect it to clump together. Leave to one side to cool. Put the cream and milk into a large saucepan and heat until warm, but not too hot, before taking it off. In the meantime whisk the egg yolks together with the remaining sugar until pale and thick. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl with the eggs and sugar, whisking all the time.

Pour the mixture back into the pan and return to a low heat. Stir all the time with a wooden spoon for approximately 6-8 minutes, until the mixture thickens and coats the back of the wooden spoon. Don’t overcook the custard base or cook it over too high a heat or you will have scrambled eggs. Allow the custard to cool, then chill in the refrigerator before churning. Churn your ice cream in an ice-cream maker and only when beginning to stiffen add the crumbs to the machine. When frozen, put in a freezer-proof container and freeze until needed. Alternatively, if you don’t have an ice-cream maker, put the custard in a freezer-proof container and stir every 2 hours with a fork until stiffened, adding the crumbs when it is just beginning to freeze.

But wait there's more . . . .

Ryvita® has also created two of its own additional servings suggestions that are perfect dessert options for the Summer months, or early Autumn heatwaves.  Use the chewy currants in Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread to add a fantastic texture to a Caribbean themed Rum and Raisin ice cream. Or if you’re after a quick sweet treat, try using Ryvita Crackerbread as a light, crispy wafer for an ice cream sandwich.

Rum, Raisin and Ryvita Fruit Crunch Ice Cream

Serves 6-8

5 Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread

25g butter

5 heaped teaspoons demerara sugar

75g raisins

4 tablespoons rum (dark or light)

2 x 500ml tubs vanilla dairy ice cream

1 ripe mango, peeled, pitted and finely chopped

Preheat the grill. Spread the flat sides of the Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread with butter, sprinkle each one with 1 teaspoon of demerara sugar, making sure that it covers the surface. Arrange them on the grill rack and grill for about 1-2 minutes, until the sugar just melts. Take care that they don’t burn! Cool, then break into small chunks and set aside. Put the raisins into a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water. Leave for 2-3 minutes, then drain them thoroughly. (This helps to plump up the raisins). Add the rum and leave to soak for several hours.

When the raisins have soaked for long enough, remove the ice cream from the freezer for 15-20 minutes to soften it, then scoop it into a large mixing bowl. Stir until smooth, then add about ¾ of the Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread crumbs, reserving the remainder for decoration. Add the soaked raisins, along with any rum, and the mango. Stir until evenly mixed. Transfer the mixture to a freezer-proof container and freeze for 3-4 hours until frozen. Serve, scooped into sundae glasses, sprinkled with the Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread crumbs.

Tip: Make the Ryvita Fruit Crunch Crispbread crumbs for sprinkling over any bought ice cream to add extra texture and yumminess!

Ryvita Crackerbread with Strawberries and Ice Cream

For a simple and easy to make dessert why not try combining two scoops of vanilla ice cream with strawberries in between two Ryvita Crackberbread slices. The light crispness of Ryvita Crackerbread gives this elegant dish further depth and texture.

For more ideas on how you can add ‘crunch’ to your summer meals visit http://www.ryvita.co.uk/

Pad Thai - Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team Recipe

Tuesday 4 October 2011
The second challenge for the Wordfoods Fusion Taste Team was one of my favourite dishes, Pad Thai using the Worldfoods Pad Thai Noodle Sauce

The recipe we were given was:

Pad Thai, by May Foong

Serves 2-3 people


100g (or any combination of) Prawns / Chicken / Tofu

20g Chives, cut into 2” length

100g Bean sprouts

80g Flat rice noodles (information here you can substitute with other noodles if you wish)

1 bottle WORLDFOODS Thai ‘Pad Thai’ Noodle Sauce

2 tbsp cooking oil

Optional - add eggs (within the stir fry or as an omelette), spring onions, fish sauce, extra chilli pepper into the stir fry


Pounded roasted peanuts


Lime wedges

Chilli flakes

Sugar optional (palm sugar traditionally added in Thailand)

Cooking Instructions:

1. Blanch the noodles in boiling water for 3 minutes until semi-soft. Drain and set aside.

2. Heat flavourless oil such as groundnut oil in a wok and pan fry the prawns until they turn pink, and set aside.

3. Pour in WORLDFOODS Thai ‘Pad Thai’ Noodle Sauce and bring to boil.

4. Add in the noodles and prawns and toss gently till well mixed.

5. Plate up the noodles and prawns, and add the chives and bean sprouts.

6. Garnish with roasted peanuts, chili flakes and lime wedges.

7. Enjoy!

I used chicken again as my husband does not eat any crustaceans at all and lemon instead of lime.  I also doubled the recipe as there are 5 members of our household, and the neighbours were keen  to try some too.  It was a delicious, straight forward recipe, and the entire family devoured it with no complaints.  I made sure that I took a slightly better photo this week LOL

Don't forget you can follow Worldfoods Fusion Taste Team on Twitter @fusiontasteteam and don't forget to check out the Wordfoods Facebook Page.

Paul Hollywood's Iced Fingers

Monday 3 October 2011
I've been trying out some of the technical challenges from The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake cookbook.  My husband LOVES iced buns so I thought I would give this recipe from the book a go.  I made them one afternoon and took half a dozen on the school run for my girls and their teachers.  They went down really well, there were many requests for me to bring along loads next time I make them. 

I must admit I didn't weigh each bit of dough to ensure they were all the same size, and some were slightly more coloured than others in the oven.  But I love the imperfections of home baking and the fact that things aren't always 'professional looking'.  If you bake with love and care, does it really matter that the result isn't totally perfect?

I'm an amateur baker, as are all those competing on The Great British Bake Off TV series.  It's a real shame that they are judged so harshly in each episode.  Their efforts that would be enthusiastically received by their friends and family are deemed not professional enough and sometimes written off as too substandard to be considered.  I have the utmost respect for all those who have taken part in the TV series, they are far braver and more talented than I am.  I also really appreciate how much care, love and effort go in to each item of baking that they create.  Well done bakers!

OK, rant over, here's the recipe:

For the dough, you will need:

500g strong white bread flour

2 x 7g packets fastaction dried yeast

50g caster sugar

40g unsalted butter, softened

2 large free-range eggs

10g sea salt flakes, crushed

150ml lukewarm milk

For the icing and filling, you will need:

300g icing sugar

200ml whipping cream

1 x 400g jar strawberry jam, warmed and sieved, then cooled (I used homemade jam)

Put all the ingredients for the dough into a large mixing bowl with 100ml milk. Mix together with your hands until a dough is formed. Slowly work in 40ml more milk and massage the dough in the bowl for about 4 minutes.

Tip the dough onto a lightly floured worktop and knead well for 10 minutes or until the dough is smooth and elastic. Return to the bowl and cover with a damp tea towel. Leave to rise for 1 hour.

Tip the dough out onto the very lightly floured worktop again and divide into 12 pieces. Roll into balls and then into ‘fingers’ about 12.5cm long.

When dividing the dough into pieces, you can weigh them to be sure they are all about the same. This is what professional bakers do. Each piece should weigh about 70g. Use a ruler to ensure all the fingers are the same length. *There is no way I could ever be bothered doing this!*

Divide the fingers between the baking sheets, leaving plenty of space around and between them to allow for spreading. Leave to rise, uncovered, for about 40 minutes or until doubled in size. Towards the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 220°C/425°F/gas 7. Bake the fingers for about 10 minutes. Leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Gradually stir in 42ml cold water to make a thick paste. When the fingers have completely cooled, split them open length ways, not cutting all the way through. Dip one side of each finger into the icing and smooth it with your finger. Leave to set on a wire rack.

Lightly whip the cream until thick and place in the piping bag. Pipe a generous line of whipped cream into each finger. Spoon the strawberry jam into a small plastic bag and snip off one corner. Pipe a delicate line of jam onto the cream in each finger.

Here's a halstily taken photo of one of my rather rustic iced fingers:

And here's the picture from the book of the pristine and lovely ones that Paul made:

Photo courtesy of: The Great British Bake Off - How to Bake cookbook
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