Sunday, 19 June 2016

Stem Ginger Cake

Just look at those lovely syrupy sweet stem ginger gems. Who can resist not making something rich and decadently buttery with them?! I surely couldn’t so when a friend of mine fed me his ginger cake I had to go and recreate it. It has all my favourites, stem ginger, sticky golden syrup and deep dark black treacle. What you need for this gorgeous cake is:


100gm sugar
50gm butter
1 tablespoon golden syrup
1 tablespoon black treacle
200 ml milk
1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger or 1 tsp powdered ginger
4 pieces stem ginger plus syrup that covered them
2 eggs
1tsp bicarb
1 tsp baking powder
220 gm self raising flour


  1. Preheat your oven to 160C.

  1. In a saucepan put the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup. Melt them together and them remove from the heat, gently stir in the milk.

  1. Peal and grate the fresh ginger and add to the molten mix. Then grate the stem ginger and add to the molten mix. Stir in the syrup as well.

  1. In a bowl put the dry ingredients together and crack in the two eggs and whisk them in a little.

  1. Pour in the wet mix into the dry and whisk together gently. Pour into an oiled and lined loaf tin. Bake for an hour or until a wooden skewer comes out clean

I think this is a recipe that will change, I am looking to come up with a nice glaze for this that further enriches the cake but I have not decided on the flavour of the glaze. The cake is actually moist enough on its own but I feel like for full decadence a glaze is necessary. Perhaps something boozie.

Bon Appetite!

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Chocolate Brownie - The Healthy version

Who doesn’t like a nice gooey chocolate brownie? It is one of those safe go to pubs that you know will be good and that you can tailor to your tastes. Chocolate brownies come with many extras, you can add nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, alcohol, more chocolate, white chocolate, you can even have a mint chocolate version although I am not sure why you would even ruin a chocolate brownie like that. Shame on you if you thought that was a good idea!  You can have them on their own, with cream, ice cream, custard, extra chocolate sauce, fruit cooleys. The list really is as limited as imagination.

Picture as I was preping the plate
So does that mean that chocolate brownies can also come guilt free? The answer ladies and gents is yes, absolutely and after some serious trial and error I have come to a healthier version of the chocolate brownie, that is low fat and also pretty well behaved on the sugar front too. What did I do? I replaced the fat with avocados and the sugar with honey, you can replace it with agave but I don’t have the ratios for that because I don’t like it as much as I like honey.

I tailored these to be just birm enough in the centre and super sticky in the middle. When I cook them I cook them until they are JUST cooked in the middle. They are best warm but they last a good 4-5 days and can be re-warmed, but NOT in the microwave, that makes the chocolate burn and makes them hard as a rock. Please do not microwave pastry, for the love of all that is good in the world don’t!

To make the brownies, you will need an 18 inch baking tray, some cooking spray to grease the tray and the following ingredients: 


2 cups dark chocolate chips or 350gm cooking chocolate
2 medium ripe avocados, really well mashed up
2 ½ - 3 tablespoons honey*
4 eggs
Vanilla extract
¼ cup raw sugar free cocoa powder
½ cup flour**
½ teaspoon salt  

* depending on how sweet you want your brownies - for a less healthy version use ⅔ cup sugar

**  You can use ground almond for a gluten free version, I still haven’t figured out the best quantity for that but as soon as I figure it out I will update the blog


  1. Preheat oven to 180C’ fan, 190C’ no fan, gas mark 5. Grease your baking tray and leave it to one side
  2. Melt the chocolate over a bain marie (pan of hot water simmering, glass bowl on top chocolate in the glass bowl). Leave to one side to cool a little
  3. I made strawberry cooley 
    In a separate bowl using a hand mixer beat together the avocado and honey until smooth and well combined and then add the chocolate. This allows the chocolate to cool down enough that it doesn’t cook the eggs when you add them.
  4. Add the vanilla and then add the eggs one at a time mixing well before you add the next.
  5. Sift together the cocoa and flour to give it some air.
  6. Beat the flour into the chocolate mix, add the salt and make sure all is mixed well.
  7. At this stage you can add soft fruit such as raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Fust them with flour or icing sugar before you pop them in or they will sink to the bottom.
  8. Pour batter into the baking tray and put in the oven for about 40 minutes. Some ovens make take less some ovens may take more. Brownies can be a little temperamental this way. It also depends on how gooey or solid you want them,

 These brownies are best served warm, with ice cream, you can sprinkle some icing sugar for effect.

Bon Appetite!  

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Marble Cake - Tea Time Wonders

As you may already know I love my tea time. It is a great excuse to indulge in lovely sweet things. One of those lovely sweet things that I love and that my mom has been making for me since I could chew is marble cake.
This light soft bundt style cake looks fantastic on the tea time table looks impressive with its lovely vanilla and chocolate swirls and is the perfect partner for your tea or coffee. What is even better is that it is very easy to make and very hard to get wrong.
You can actually have several different flavours of this as well, instead of cocoa powder for the darker colour you can use cinnamon, and instead of vanilla you can always flavour the light colour with rum, or banana or almond extract. I like a standard vanilla and chocolate marble cake and I love having a dolop of greek yogurt.

The flavouring and accompaniments are entirely up to you but for a standard marble cake you will need:


4 eggs
1 cup of milk
2 tablespoons yogurt
½ cup of oil
3 cups flour
1 ½ cups of sugar
1 tsp of vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
½ tsp bicarb
2 tablespoons cooking cocoa powder


  1. Preheat oven to 220C’
  2. In a clean bowl whisk together the 4 eggs with the sugar until they turn very light yellow double in size and the sugar is pretty much dissolved
  3. While still whisking slowly add the oil and then the milk and yogurt
  4. Sift in the flour, baking soda and bicarb, and add the vanilla.
  5. Grease either a loaf tin or a circular bundt cake tin and pour 2/4 of the cake batter into it
  6. Add the 2 tablespoons of cocoa powder to the remaining batter and whisk in until fully incorporated.
  7. Using a fork swivel in the cocoa batter into the tin. I tend to do figure of eights and just play around with it creating that lovely marble effect
  8. Put in the oven at 220C for 10 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200 and bake for a further 45 minutes. Test with a wooden skewer and if it comes out clean the cake is ready.
  9. Leave to cook in the tin before you take it out. You may need to run a knife around the edge to loosen it up.  

This is a great little cake, it is lovely for breakfast, it keeps very well for about 5 days. When it goes harder you can warm it up in the oven and cover it in nutella or tear it up in a cocktail glass rizzel with some booze, preferably some fruity liqueur, whip up some mascarpone with some double cream as if you are making a tiramisu maybe throw in some glace cherries. Hope this gives you plenty of ideas!

As you can see I didn't get the best marbeling effect with this one, but it was very yummy!

Bon Appetit!  

Monday, 2 May 2016

Risotto and Arancini

I love rice in all its’ glorious permutations. Even just simply cooked water and a bit of salt, rice can be extremely satisfying to me. It compliments so many dishes but is equally capable of producing a main that will be stunning. And let us not forget desserts! The rice pudding is no longer a humble event, it can be made amazing. How about a creme brulee style rice pudding? Or one flavoured with bitter orange and dark chocolate? I can go on but let us not lose focus.  

As a way of paying homage to this lovely and diverse little grain I thought I would share two recipes with you. A main and a starter. What is even better is the starter can be made from the left overs of the main. We are making risotto and arancini/arancine balls (apparently the spelling is very important to the Sicilians where the Arancine balls originate from. I know because I have recently been told off by one)! So my Italian friends, do not be angry with my spelling. I am putting the two spellings as in English and on Google it is spelled with an “i” and you know how it is, if Google says it is “i” that is what the world will think too. But moving on from the language lesson...

A risotto may seem like a great hassle to make, you have to watch it, stir it and generally pay attention to get it right. When you do get it right though it is creamy, rich, full of flavour and very homely. A risotto can be so many things, a simple and classic mushroom or chicken to more seasonal ones such as asparagus or butternut squash, spinach and pumpkin seeds, tomato and chorizo and so on. The beautiful plump arborio rice, which is essential for a risotto, is the perfect carrier for a countless number of flavour combinations. Toppings can give texture. You can make a nice crumb by toasting some bread crumb with pine nuts and rosemary or any other herb. Have bits of crispy bacon, or a lovely parmesan crisp. And the left overs? Here is where the arancini/e comes for me.  

Arancine/Arancini balls are stuffed risotto balls covered in breadcrumbs and fried. Traditionally they are stuffed with mozzarella, ragu and peas. They have a great texture, a crispy outside combined with the creamy risotto inside and the amazing gooey cheesy centre. Now as I am not Italian I don’t have mama’s tradition to follow and have the beauty of freedom. So I make a lovely red pepper salsa and stuff my balls with lots and lots of cheese and sun dried tomatoes, sometimes I put olives in.  

I am sure that there will be plenty of Italians that will disagree with my recipes or my methods but I do hope that what they will see if the love and deep appreciation I have for these wonderful meals. I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Bon Appetite!  

A Green Risotto

Ingredients (Serves 6 or 4 and leaves some for the aranchine)

400gm Arborio rice
1.2L vegetable stock
50g butter
1 finely chopped onion
1 crushed garlic clove
1 bunch of asparagus
200g peas
200g rocolly broken down into bite sized florets
Fresh thyme - finely chopped
Fresh parsley - finely chopped
100gm parmesan to finish  


  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan and fry off the onion and garlic until soft

  2. Add the rice to the pan and fry off or a minute so that the rice is finely coated 

  3. Add the wine and cook off until almost gone - about a minute 

  4. Add the stock one ladle at a time and stir regularly. 

  5. Add all the veggies with the last ladleful of  stock. You want them to be just cooked. 

  6. Put in a plate drizzle with some virgin olive oil and thrown the parmesan on top. DONE

Note: Risotto needs to have a loose consistency. The starch in the rice becomes creamy and wonderful and if you cook it down too much that creaminess turns into claggy sticky heavy wallpaper glue.

Arancini stuffed with mozzarella and pecorino, with a Red pepper salsa

You can just make plain risotto cool it down and then make these or like me you can use left over risotto. To make about 16 of these the size of golf balls you need 500g risotto. 

Ingredients - for 16 balls

500g risotto - cooked & cold
Oil for frying - Enough to cover the balls

1tsp italian herbs
1 ball mozzarella dried and chopped
100g grated pecorino
70g finely chopped sun dried tomatoes

For the crunchy casing
50g parmesan
1 Cup Panko Breadcrumbs
2 eggs, beaten
½ cup Flour
For the salsa
200g roasted red pepper
Handful of basil
½ crushed garlic clove
Handful cherry tomatoes de-seeded
1tsp balsamic
1tsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Make the salsa by finely chopping all the ingredients finely and combining them in a bowl.
  2. Get the oil nice and hot. To check if it is ready drop a breadcrumb in there and if it starts bubbling and rises to the top the heat is right
  3. Mix all the ingredients of the filling together
  4. Take a spoonful of the risotto and put it in your hand
  5. Put a teaspoon full of the filling in the centre and wrap the risotto around it encasing it completely
  6. Mix the breadcrumb and parmesan
  7. Roll the ball in flour 1st, then egg, and then the panko breadcrumb parmesan mixture.
  8. Carefully so that you don’t burn yourself put the balls in the hot oil and cook until golden brown.
  9. Serve while hot and enjoy!

Note: Don’t make the balls too big and have too much risotto around the filling or the cheese doesn't melt in the centre.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Loaded Sweet Potato Skins

 I love sweet potatoes! I think they are such a versatile veg, you can do so much to them. I have two particular favourites however, one of them is sweet potato mash and the other is loaded sweet potato skins. I am actually going to give you both recipe here today because they both start the same and the skins just take it that step further. Before we get into the lovely world of baking a sweet tattie though let's just have a look at the actual root veg itself. This sweet little root contains 283% of your daily Vitamin A allowance in only 100gm, it also has Vitamin B6, Magnesium, a little bit of Iron and some Vitamin C, dietary fiber and some sugar - it is called a sweet potato after all.  

Ingredients for the Mash - serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of full fat cream cheese
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste 

Ingredients for the loaded skins
This serves 4 people is served with salad or as part of a meal or 2 hungry people

2 medium sweet potatoes
2 tablespoons of full fat cream cheese
250gm beef / soya mince
200gm chorizo
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 medium red onion
2 large cloves of garlic
1 tsp olive oil
Salt to taste
Black pepper to taste
100-150 Grated manchego or parmigiano cheese - depends on how cheesy you want it!

  1. Turn your oven to 200c’ fan and 210C’ non fan. Take a baking tray and line it with foil
  2. Gently oil the sweet potatoes or alternatively you can use a tiny bit of melted butter and season them with salt. This makes the skin crispy. Bake until a knife goes through them easily. That is usually about 40 minutes for me.
  3. Take the cook potatoes out of the oven and split in two, scoop out the lovely orange flesh in a bowl, add the cream cheese salt and pepper and mash with a form. At this stage you have your sweet potato mash. You may need to warm it through in a pot, just please don’t microwave it! It’s blasphemy, serve it properly!  
  4. If you are making the loaded skins you can put the mash to one side, put the skins back on the tray. And give them 5 minutes in the over on their own if they want them even crispier. Be careful they burn fast. Also be sure to have shaped them into nice little boats before you crisp them up.
  5. In a pan soften your onions in a teaspoon of olive oil, add the chorizo and crisp it up.
  6. Add the mince, make sure it is in nice little chunks, there is nothing worse that giant lumps of mince. Add the garlic and smoked paprika. Season to taste with salt and pepper. And saute until the mince is cooked through. Drain any excess fat that you do not want.
  7. Dish out the mash in equal amounts back into the skins. Top with the cooked mince and chorizo mix, top with the grated cheese and put under the grill for 10 minutes or until the cheese is melted and golden.
  8. Service with a nice green salad!

Bon Appetit!