Friday, 20 November 2015


OMGosh, I'm addicted to these biscuits, I made them for friends as a gift when we went for dinner and now I can't stop making them. I have a feeling that everyone will be getting a parcel of these from me this christmas.

Because they are made with just almonds, icing sugar and egg white they have a light crisp outer shell and a soft chewy middle a bit like a macaron, what's not to like?  As they are so irresistible this batch makes quite a lot but why mess about, lets face it they'll get eaten before you can give them away.

Give them a go and you too will be making small hampers of them as gifts this year.

Makes 30

300g Icing Sugar
230g Ground Almonds
2 Egg Whites
1 tsp Almond Extract
100g Flaked Almonds
Icing Sugar to Dust

In a bowl combine the icing sugar, ground almonds, egg whites and almond extract.  I use my free standing mixer.  It will come together into a thick paste.

Scoop out a large teaspoon of the mix and roll in your palm to form a ball, about the size of a walnut. Now role the the ball in the flaked almonds and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment.  Repeat until you have used all the mixture.  I found it easier to make all the balls then role them in the almonds as you get a but sticky.  Give them enough room on the parchment to spread a little.

Once they are all made, give them a liberal dustin with icing sugar and bake for 15 minutes at 160C Fan.  Dust again with icing sugar and leave to cool a little on the baking tray before transferring to a cooling rack.  try to resist having one straight away, ok, maybe just one :)

Thursday, 12 November 2015


I must confess that as a child, if we were ever fortunate enough to have the opportunity to select a cake from the cake shop, I would quite often opt for the bread pudding.  Mainly because it appeared to be the largest cake available.  I realise now that it was probably a great money spinner for the bakers giving them a new lease of life for the unsold stale bread.

Bread pudding is a proper comfort food with its warming spices and stodgy texture and perfect for this time of year.  I made some after our halloween party when we had lots of hotdog rolls left over and it reminded me of christmas pudding so I thought I'd take it a step further and give it a bit more yule tide pimping.  So here we have my christmas bread pudding which we ate warm with cream and custard. I think it tastes like christmas but a lot quicker to make than the usual pudding.

1 Litre Milk
130g Sugar
300g Dried Cranberries
200g Sultanas
75g Butter
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Mixed Spice
Zest of 1 Orange
1 tsp Orange Extract
700g Bread (made into bread crumbs)
2 Eggs
2 tbsp Demerara Sugar
40g Flaked Almonds
2 tbsp Granulated Sugar

Butter a large baking dish (30cm x 20cm).  Heat the oven to 160C fan

Warm the milk in a large pan with the sugar, cranberries, sultanas, butter, cinnamon, mixed spice, orange zest and extract.  Heat till the buyer has melted then pour in the bread crumbs and stir till combined.  Now mix in the eggs.

Tip the mixture into the baking dish and gently spread it out evenly.  Don't squash it, you want a rough top with texture.  Scatter the flaked almonds and Demerara sugar on top and cover the whole dish in foil.  Bake for 40 minutes then remove the foil and give it another 15 minutes uncovered.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle immediately with granulated sugar.

Thursday, 1 October 2015


This summer I discovered these heavenly sweet rolls in Finland where I also learned that Finns love cardamom as much as I do.  On my first day at the breakfast buffet I tried a bit of everything I wasn't sure about and discovered Voisilmapulla - Butter Eye Buns.  They are a sugary sweet bread, a cross between brioche and bath buns with a warming flavour of cardamom. Butter because they are packed with the stuff and eye because of the dimple in the middle which is filled with even more butter.

Don't be scared of the amount of melted butter you have to knead in, a bit like focaccia, you think it's never going to happen, but it does and it's what gives it a light airy texture. I used my freestanding mixer to start it off then finish it by hand.

I've sprinkled mine with sugar nibs but that's optional, I know they're not easy to get in shops here - you could try the internet. We had them with and without in Finland. In the recipe it says 2 tsp of cardamom but you could add more depending on how much you like the stuff, I put 3 in the next time I made them.

This is the recipe my Finnish friend Linda gave me, it makes 18 healthy sized buns, don't worry they freeze well and if you're going to go to the effort of making them, why not make lots. I divided mine in half and made a loaf too which we had toasted with cinnamon butter.

550g Milk, warmed
175g Sugar
2 Eggs
900g Strong White Bread Flour
2 Heaped tsp Ground Cardamom
20g Dried Yeast
200g Butter, melted

50g Butter
1tbsp Sugar
Egg Wash to glaze
Sugar Nibs to finish (optional)

Warm the milk and sugar till the sugar has just dissolved, you don't want it boiling. Now add the eggs and whisk together.

In a large bowl or free standing mixer combine the flour, cardamom and yeast.  Slowly stir in the milk.  If you're doing this by hand, use a knife till it starts to come together.  Once the milk is completely combined with the flour, pour in the melted butter.

This is where it gets really messy, there is a lot of squelching before it starts to resemble the smooth sticky dough you are aiming for.  Once all the butter is incorporated into the dough start kneading.  It will be sticky but try not to add flour,  dust your hands lightly with flour instead.  I always knead for 10 minutes to ensure a good result.

Divide the dough in two and place into floured bowls, cover with cling film or a shower cap and leave  in a warm place to prove for 1 hour.

Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and divide into 100g balls.  Shape them and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment with enough room to rise again.  Cover the buns with a clean dry tea towel and leave for 30-45 minutes to prove again.

Whilst they are proving, melt the remaining butter and sugar and leave to one side.  To finish the buns (no pun intended) press a deep dimple into each using your thumb, it will spring back a little, then fill with the melted butter, brush over with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar nibs if using them.

Bake in a preheated oven at 200C / 180C fan for 15-20 minutes.

Hyvää ruokahalua  Xx

Tuesday, 22 September 2015


This recipe is for those thick american style pancakes that go so well with bacon but I’ve combined the two to make a dipper already to be dunked into maple syrup.

Now I understand that the idea of sweet and savoury is not everyones cup of tea but these are really worth a go. If you feel you can’t cope with the idea, these fluffy buttermilk pancakes are just as good without the bacon and served with your usual topping, fresh fruit, honey or chocolate spread.

200g Plain Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
30g Sugar
2 Eggs
30g Melted Butter
284 ml Buttermilk
100g Milk
14 Streaky Bacon Rashers

Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda sugar in a large mixing bowl and combine.  Make a well in the centre of the flour and add the eggs.  Using a fork mix in the eggs then add the melted butter.

Once they are mixed in stir in the buttermilk using a whisk.  When you have made a smooth batter whisk in the milk to loosen it a little. I pour my batter into an old sauce bottle with a wide opening to help control the flow of batter, I find it a lot easier than a ladle or jug. Leave the batter to one side while you cook the bacon.

You can grill the bacon or heat the oven 180C/160 fan.  Lay the bacon rashers out on a baking tray lined with parchment and cook for 15 minutes till browned and slightly crisp.  Heat a non-stick frying pan and brush lightly with oil.


Pour 2 strips of batter into the pan then lay a rasher of bacon on top, drizzle a little more batter over the bacon and cook for 2 minutes then flip over and cook for a further minute.  

Keep warm whilst you cook the remaining dippers and serve with maple syrup


Wednesday, 2 September 2015


I get asked to review such a variety of  products and tend to say no but to be honest I really wanted this book so jumped at the chance and it didn't disappoint. I am a fan of MasterChef and in 2014 when Sophie Thompson was crowned champion, she became one of my favourite celebrity winners, she came across as lovely as her cooking. I was so pleased to find that she has produced a book of her family's recipes, and they really are from all of her family.

Sophie was a joy to watch with her relaxed and imaginative style of cooking and the book reflects the same sense of cosy homeliness giving you lots of family photos, stories and anecdotes along with the recipes. With titles like 'Uncle Bridget's Pickled Onions', yes, Uncle Bridget and 'Megsies Whim Wham' you get introduced to her family and friends through food.

Much to my husbands irritation I can't sit and do nothing so in the evening when I'm slumped in front of the telly I tend to be making lists (a girl thing I think) flicking through the latest foodie magazine or crafting some sort of what not.  Reading cookery books is another favourite, looking for inspiration for next weeks dinner.  Sophie's book was packed with possibilities and the issue was what to cook first.

In the end that honour went to Very Lemony Almond & Polenta Cake.  It instructs you to cool in the tin but I don't think it ever actually got cold before it was polished off.  In the end I had to make another just to check it was as good cold as warm - it was.  There are some cakes that I call untidy cakes, by which I mean that every time you pass it you find you just have to cut a slice off to neaten it up a bit. I found myself having to neaten it rather a lot and often.

Sophie's recipes are all easy to follow and without complicated or hard to get ingredients.  I also tried the Orange & Ginger Chicken with Coriander Rice, not just because it sounded tasty but I also had all the ingredients in.  It was a resounding 'keep that recipe' from the whole family.

With so much success I tried Sophie's own Meat Loaf.  It makes enough for 8 so we had it hot with roast potatoes and savoy cabbage then on another day, cold with pickles as Sophie recommends.  Another triumph.

Reading Sophie's recipes and about her family makes you warm to her even more, it's always such a shame when you meet someone you admire or look up to and they let you down but after looking through this family album you really do feel like you've just met her and want to be invited round to supper.

Sophie is a gifted and resourceful cook with an infectious enthusiasm for food and 'My Family Kitchen' is just what it says on the tin (or cover),  packed with recipes that are sure to become everyone's own family favourites.


Serves 8-10
150g Polenta
150g Ground Almonds
150g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
200g Soft Butter, plus extra for greasing
3 Large Eggs
Zest & Juice of 3 Large Lemons
100g Icing Sugar, sifted
20g Flaked Almonds, toasted

Preheat the oven to 180C/160C Fan Gas 4. Lightly grease and base line a 20cm springform cake tin.

Place the polenta, ground almonds, caster sugar, baking powder and butter in the bowl of a food processor. Blitz together for about 30 seconds to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, whizzing after each one to incorporate well. Add the lemon zest and whizz again for about 20 seconds. (If you don't have a food processor you can of course do all of this by hand using a large mixing bowl and spoon).

Spoon the mixture into your prepared tin and smooth the top. Bake in the centre of the oven for 45 minutes, or until golden brown and coming away slightly from the edges of the tin. 

Meanwhile mix the icing sugar with the lemon juice (about 100ml) in a bowl and whisk together until smooth. When the cake comes out of the oven, use  skewer to make holes all over the top of the cake and, whilst still warm, pour your lemony syrup over the top.

Scatter over the toasted flaked almonds, while the cake is still sticky, and leave to cool in the tin. Remove from the tin when cold and serve. 

Recipe reproduced by permission of the publisher

Watch Sophie cook her Sweet & Sour Pork

Buy Sophie's book here

Thursday, 4 June 2015


Recently I gave my children fish finger sandwiches for dinner and felt a slight tinge of guilt for not giving them something 'proper'.  The problem was, they were quite delicious and I found myself craving one for myself.  A definite guilty pleasure.

It got me to thinking though, perhaps I could compensate for my lapse as a good mother by creating the perfect fish finger sandwich from scratch rather than a frozen packet, I even made the tartar sauce and some accompanying mushy peas.  It worked and by golly it was heavenly, guilt gone and I am a good mother again.

I used Hake, not the traditional choice but this lesser used fish is just as good as cod and to get that customary orange crumb I've dry fried some chorizo then whizzed it with the bread to make the bread crumbs.  There is enough oil in the chorizo to then just bake them in the oven - simples!

350g Hake Fillet
Flour for dusting
1 Egg Beaten
50g Chorizo
50g Bread for Crumbs

First make your bread crumbs.  Cut the chorizo into slices then each slice in half.  Dry fry them in a pan and allow to cool a little.  Put your bread in a processor along with the chorizo and whizz them into crumbs.  The chorizo will excrete a lovely orange tainted oil into the pan, stir the crumbs into this till combined.

Wash and pat dry the fish in some kitchen roll then cut them into fingers.  Dust each one in flour then dip in the egg.  Now coat the fish finger in the bread crumbs.

Place them on a baking sheet and cook for 20 minutes at 180C. Serve in buttered slices of crusty bread such as Pain de Campagne with tartar sauce and mushy peas on the side.

Tartar Sauce                                                                                         
4 tbsp Mayonnaise                                                                    
1 tbsp Capers Chopped                                        
2 tbsp Tiny Gherkins Chopped                            
1 Shallot Chopped                                              
Lemon Juice to taste

Chop everything finely and mix it all together.  I have to admit that capers are on my very short list of foods I can't bring myself to eat so I didn't put them in and I could tell it wasn't quite right.  So if you don't have the same aversion, keep em in.              

Mushy Peas                                                           
250g Frozen Peas                                                  
1 tbsp Sour Cream                                                 
1 tsp Mint Sauce                                                   

Boil the peas in hot water, drain and whizz them in a processor with the remaining ingredients.  I didn't process them too much so there was some texture and not baby food

Sunday, 26 April 2015


I'm feeling very self righteous at the moment. This is down to me cleaning out my freezer. It has resulted in three things.  A gleaming freezer, a bizarre dinner combination and these little beauties.  Buried at the back was a packet of blueberries so I added some almonds and put this recipe together. They are so soft and moist and the blueberries give the effect of having the jam already in the scone.

Blueberry Scones 
300g Self Raising Flour 
70g Sugar 
160g Butter 
150ml Milk 
1/4 tsp Almond Extract 
40g Flaked Almonds 
150g Blueberries
Milk to Glaze

80g Icing Sugar
1/4 tsp Almond Extract
Water to mix

It's just as you would expect with scones, rub the butter into the flour then add the sugar.  Pour in the milk and almond extract and mix till it comes together as a soft dough, I find a knife the best thing for this.  Finally stir through the flaked almonds and blueberries, reserve a few almonds to scatter on the top.

Now lightly flour your surface and bring the dough together by very gently kneading it and forming it into a ball.  Pat it down evenly so you have roughly an 8" scone then divide it into 8 slices.  You may find it helps to flour the knife to get good clean cuts.

Place each scone onto a baking sheet lined with parchment, brush with a little milk and sprinkle on the remaining almonds.  Bake for 20-25 minutes at 200C fan.

Whilst they cook mix the drizzle icing.  Mix the icing sugar with the almond extract and a little water till you get a thick but runny consistency.  Once the scones have cooked, drizzle on the icing and leave to cool....if you can.....just a little!

Sunday, 19 April 2015


So I decided I wanted to make cornbread and once I started I couldn't stop.  I really went to town with this one and we've been eating corn bread with everything.

I started with a plain cornbread that went well with soup and was a good excuse to use my cast iron cornbread pan, the fact that it gives you the cutest little ears of corn makes means everyone can't resist them.

Next came mini corn dogs, my children loved these and they were so quick to make. I oiled a mini muffin tray, poured in some of the cornbread batter then divided frankfurter sausages into 8 pieces and popped them in the middle.  Bake for 10-12 minutes till golden.

I then moved on to adding some extras to boost the flavour and to be honest it became a meal in itself, perfect for picnics and packed lunches. I added cheese, sweetcorn, chilli, coriander and onions and next time I think I'll also throw in some chorizo. Butter an oven proof dish and bake for 20-25 minutes.

The final dish in this cornbread fest is chilli with a cornbread top, if you try this use half the quantity of ingredients.  Make your chilli, pour the batter on top and bake for 20-25 minutes and serve immediately.

The hardest part of this recipe is finding the cornmeal.  I got it in an international food store but if you can't find it, use polenta instead.  It will be a little courser but does the job just as well.

Basic Cornbread

250g Cornmeal
120g Plain Flour
30g Sugar
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Salt
1/2 tsp White Pepper
65g Butter melted
2 x 284ml Buttermilk
2 Eggs

Added Extras
60g Chedder grated
200g Sweetcorn
3 Spring Onions chopped
1 tsp Chilli Paste
Small Bunch Fresh Coriander chopped

Grated Parmesan to finish

To make the basic cornbread, mix all the dry ingredients in a bowl.  In a jug whisk the wet ingredients together then combine the two.  Fold everything together till you have a thick batter with no dry lumps.  If you're adding the extra ingredients stir them through now.

Pour everything into a buttered baking dish,  and cook at 200C fan for 20-25 minutes till firm to touch and golden brown.  Leave it in the dish to cool then cut into portions.

Thursday, 2 April 2015


It's quite well documented that I'm not the biggest fan of fruit cake or marzipan but I do like marzipan cooked into cakes. Marzipan gives it a chewy texture that I can't resist hence my Simnel Scones recipe.  Nigella does a delicious Simple Almond Cake in her Domestic Goddess book that really is simple to make and irresistible to eat and it's all down to the marzipan.

So this recipe is almost like a Simnel cake but I think a little lighter to eat.  The warm spices give it the flavours of hot cross buns and it's just as moreish warm from the oven or cold if it lasts that long.

Heat the oven to 160C fan and line a 2lb loaf tin, I use ready made loaf liners. Cream together 110g Butter with 110g Sugar. Then add 225g Self Raising Flour, 225g Mixed Fruit, 2 Eggs, 50ml Milk, 
1 tsp Cinnamon and 1/2 tsp Mixed Spice. Mix everything well till combined.

Now cut 80g Marzipan into small cubes and put to one side, I like the natural whiter marzipan but you could use the yellow version if you prefer. Put half the cake mixture into the loaf tin then top with 1/3 of the marzipan cubes.  Now add the rest of the mixture and finish with the remaining marzipan cubes, press them in lightly so you can still see them.

Bake for 50-60 minutes till cooked through. To finish, warm
1 tbsp Honey and brush the top of your cake with it. Use another 80g Marzipan to decorate the top.  Divide it into 2 pieces and roll them into sausages, gently twist them together to form a rope and place them on the cake to make your cross.  You could leave it like that or give it a quick blast with a cooks blow torch.  If you don't have a blow torch grill it, but keep an eye on it so you don't burn your cake.


Wednesday, 25 March 2015


How cute are these! I made these with my Junior Chefs and they proved very popular.  A delicious lemon curd cupcake topped with marshmallow bunny ears, who could resist!

We used the same technique as the chrysanthemum cupcakes but with large size marshmallows.  Cut the marshmallow in half diagonally and dip the sticky cut edge into coloured sugar.  we also coloured some coconut with green colour paste for grass and used a tiny mini egg as a nose.

Lemon Curd Cup Cakes

50g Butter
70g Sugar
2 tbsp Lemon Curd
1 Egg
125ml Milk
175g Self Raising Flour
1 tsp Baking Powder

Lemon Curd, Buttercream, Desicated Coconut & Marshmallows to decorate

Cream together the butter and sugar till fluffy then add the remaining ingredients and combine to make a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture between 12 cupcake cases and bake for 20-25 minutes at 180C

Once the cakes have cooked and cooled, remove a small piece of the sponge from the tops of each cake to make a small hole.  Fill the holes with lemon curd then cover the surface with buttercream.

Pop on your bunny ears and a nose then finish with a sprinkle of coconut.


Monday, 9 February 2015



Is there really anyone that doesn't love pancakes, if you don't, you just haven't found the right filling.  As a child it had to be golden syrup for me and to be honest it hasn't really changed that much.

On Shrove Tuesday we will only eat pancakes, I may stuff some with chilli beef and sprinkle on some crushed tortilla chips and cheese but we swiftly move on to a stack set aside for pudding.

In the past I've made this filling with banana but have decided to give apple a go this time. This is enough to make four pancakes.

Pancakes: 150g Plain Flour, 1 egg, 200ml Milk.

Measure the flour into a measuring jug and add the egg, whisk with a fork till the egg is mixed in, now add the milk a little at a time, whisking in between to form a smooth batter.

Heat a frying pan with a teaspoon of oil.  Pour enough batter in to cover the pan with a thin layer.  Cook the pancake on both sides and put to one side till needed. Cook the remaining

Filling:  4 Small Eating Apples, 80g Butter, 80g Soft Brown Sugar, 80ml Double Cream

Cut the apples into 1/4s then remove the core. Now slice each 1/4 into 4 slices.

In a large frying pan melt the butter then add the apple slices, cook the apples on both sides till they become soft and are starting to brown.  Next add the sugar and heat till it melts.  Lastly pour in the cream and stir to make a thick sticky sauce. Divide the apples and sauce between the pancakes and serve.

Remember, pancakes are not just for Shrove Tuesday!

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Marshmallows have become a very popular sweet to make at home and they're well worth the effort.  The home made version are so soft and melt in the mouth.  They're the perfect gift because everyone loves them and are so impressed at your confectionary skills.

Now it's even simpler with this kit from Sainsbury's, in fact it's so simple that I gave my 11 year old son a box to make.  We drizzled his with chocolate and sprinkled some with toasted coconut, unfortunately we scoffed the lot before I could get any photos!  I did however make more with fruit layered into them.  This worked so well because the cherries and blackberries that we used cut through the sweetness of these fluffy cubes of cloudiness which enabled us to eat more without them being too rich.

My Mother used to make a pudding called Cherry Mallow Pie which used cherry pie filling and was topped with something that had melted marshmallows added to it.  Cherry pie filling is one of my guilty pleasures, added to custard it makes my favourite toasted sandwich - yes you did read that right. And of course the greatest cake of all, black forest gateaux would not be the same, in my opinion, without it.

Anyhoo, this marshmallow kit gave me an idea and here is my very simple, mostly assemble not much cooking, Cherry Mallow Pie.  I searched high and low for cherry pie filling but couldn't get it but I did find a posh jar of cherry compote full of whole morello cherries that was the perfect substitute.

300g Bourbon Biscuits
60g Butter melted

1 x 400g Jar Sainsbury's Taste The Difference Morello Cherry Compote
Dash of Kirsch (optional)
1 Sainsbury's Marshmallow Kit

Crush the bourbon biscuits in a food processor then add the melted butter and whizz together till it clumps together.  Press the biscuit into the base and sides of a deep 25cm fluted loose bottom tin and chill to harden.  

Now follow the instructions on the marshmallow kit which has everything you need in it. It's very simple and just a matter of adding water to a sugar mix and simmering it for 10 minutes then whisking up a gelatine mixture and adding the two together.

Once this is done cover the base of your pie with the cherry compote and top with the luscious mallow.  Pop it in the fridge to set, it says 2 hours but it was ready in 1 hour then decorate with grated chocolate.

You could of course toast the top with a cooks blow torch instead of grated chocolate to finish