Sunday, 19 January 2014


I decided to set myself a bit of a challenge  this weekend and decided to tackle croissants.  I realised during the process that this Viennoiserie pastry isn't as difficult to make as I thought it was going to be, but if you are going to make your own croissants please note that they are extremely time consuming and you will need to start making these the day before you want to eat them.

This recipe makes 12 croissants and comes courtesy of Paul Hollywood and his fantastic 'How to Bake' book. The recipe looks long and intimidating, but trust me, it is a lot easier than it first appears.

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
10g salt
80g caster sugar
10g instant yeast
300ml cool water
300g chilled butter
1 egg beaten for glaze

  • Put the flour into a bowl of a mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add the salt and sugar to one side of the bowl and the yeast to the other. Add the water and mix on a slow speed for 2 minutes, then on a medium speed for 6 minutes.
  • Tip the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and shape it into a ball. Dust with flour, wrap lightly with cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  • Whilst the dough is chilling measure out the butter and place it into the freezer, this will make it hard and make rolling it out much easier.
  • On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a rectangle, about 60 x 20cm. Place the butter in between 2 sheets of cling film and flatten into a rectangle, about 40 x 19cm. Put the butter on the dough so that it covers the bottom two-thirds of the dough. Make sure that it is positioned neatly and comes almost to the edges.
  • Fold the exposed dough at the top down over one-third of the butter. Now gently cut off the exposed bit of butter, without going through the dough, and put it on the top of the dough you have just folded down. Fold the bottom half of the dough up. You will now have a sandwich of two layers of butter and three of dough. Pinch the edges lightly to seal in the butter. Put the dough back in the cling film and chill in the fridge for an hour.
  • Unwrap the dough and put it on the lightly floured work surface with a short end towards you. Roll into a rectangle, about 60 x 20cm. This time fold up one-third of the dough and then fold the top third down on top to make a neat square to make a neat square. Put the dough back into the cling film and chill for another hour. Repeat this stage twice more, putting the dough back into the fridge for an hour each time.

  • Your dough now needs to be left in the fridge for 8 hours, or overnight, to rest. You will find that it will rise slightly in the fridge overnight.
  • When you are ready to shape the croissants, line 2 or 3 baking trays with baking parchment.
  • Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, a little more than 42cm long and 30cm wide. Trim the edges to neaten them.
  • Cut the rectangle down the centre into 2 strips, then cut triangles along the length of each strip; these should be 12cm wide at the base and about 15cm high (from the middle of the base to the tip).  You should get 6 triangles from each strip.
  • Before rolling, gently press down the wide base of the triangle and gently tug the opposite thin end to cause a slight tension in the dough. Now starting at the thick end of the triangle, roll up into a croissant.
  • Space the croissants out onto the lined baking trays, allow 4 – 6 per tray. Put each tray inside a clean plastic bag and leave the croissants to rise at cool room temperature until at least doubled in size. This should take about 2 hours.
  • Preheat your oven to 180C/160C fan/355F whilst the croissants are proving for the final time. Brush the croissants with the beaten egg glaze.
  • Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 – 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
My one piece of advice would be to eat these whilst they are still warm. They will be gorgeously crunchy on the outside and light and fluffy in the middle with defined layers of pastry in between. Just try not to eat too many  at once!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Pesto, black olive and sun-dried tomato bread plait

This bread tastes incredible still slightly warm out of the oven or completely cooled piled high with fresh ham and pickles. You can slice this bad boy or have it as a tear and share devour it all yourself.


  • 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 300ml lukewarm water (use 1 part boiled water to 2 parts cold)
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 7g dried yeast
  • 1tsp salt
  • 4tsp pesto
  • 8 sun-dried tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 15 black olives, pitted and finely chopped
  • 1 egg beaten, for brushing

  • Put the flour, water, olive oil yeast and salt  into a bowl, mix, turn out onto the kitchen surface and knead for 10 minutes. I use dried yeast which needs reactivating before being added, so take care to follow any further instructions on your yeast packet first.
To check if your dough is kneaded enough, pull out a piece of dough between your hands. It should be able to stretch to 20cm without breaking.
  • Place the dough in a slightly oiled bowl, cover with cling film or a damp tea towel and leave in a warm spot to prove for 1 hour. 
  • Whilst the dough is proving I like to blitz the tomatoes and olives, separately, in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
  • Divide into three equal parts (approx 262g each) and knead pesto into one, the sun-dried tomatoes into the second and chopped olives into the last.

  • Preheat the oven to180C/350F/Gas4
  • On a lightly floured surface roll each piece of flavoured dough into a long, even sausage. You may need some additional flour here if the dough is slightly wet.
  • Plait the strands of dough, pinching the ends together and folding them under to create a neat end. Brush the braid with a little beaten egg. Place on a baking tray and allow to rise for a further 30 minutes.
  • Bake the braid for around 35 minutes, the bread will sound hollow when tapped on the bottom.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Yorkshire Gingernut Biscuits

Being a Yorkshire lass, when my friends requested I make some ginger biscuits there was no other alternative than to make this classic recipe.  Gingernut biscuits are a deliciously crunchy and so quick and easy to make.

This recipe will make 40-50 biscuits.


  • 100g butter
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 350g self-raising flour
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 100g chocolate (optional)


  • Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/Gas 3, and lightly grease 3 baking trays.
  • Measure the butter and golden syrup into a small pan ans gently heat together until the butter has melted. In a separate bowl mix the dry ingredients together and add in the butter mixture, followed by the egg (I like to do this by hand).
  • Form the dough into 40-50 balls, about the size of a walnut and place well apart of the prepared baking trays.

  • Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove the biscuits from the baking trays and cool on a wire rack. If you leave the biscuits to cool completely on the baking trays they may become stuck.

  • Once the biscuits have cooled completely you can melt 100g of chocolate and drizzle on top.

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Blueberry porridge with cinnamon, honey and almonds

There are no two ways about it, I love porridge. It is low in fat, filling and the possibilities are endless when it comes to flavour combinations.

This recipe can easily be doubled up, and because all of the key ingredients are added at the end the whole family can enjoy a different breakfast without having to make a different meal for each person.
I like to add a pinch of cinnamon to the bowl when I make porridge; not only does it give my breakfast a nice warmth it can aid in metabolising and regulating sugar in the blood.


  • 38g porridge oats (I use rolled oats)
  • 250ml milk
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp honey
  • fruit and nuts of your choice
  • Place the porridge oats in a saucepan with the milk and cinnamon. Stir over a medium heat for 2-3 minutes until the milk has been absorbed into the oats.
  • Transfer into a bowl and add whatever you want!
Of course adding extra fruit and nuts is going to give your breakfast a boost of flavour but it's also a great ways of adding extra protein and nutrients into your diet.

Instead of blueberries why not try adding apple slices, banana, strawberries or raspberries; and as a treat and an extra kick of sweetness i love a drizzle of golden or maple syrup.

What do you enjoy with your porridge? 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Lemon Drizzle Cake with a Raspberry Glaze

I adapted this recipe from 2 recipes by Raymond Blanc and Mary Berry. The key to getting a lemon drizzle cake full of flavour is to add the topping whilst the cake is still slightly warm, this allows the lemon syrup to absorbed into the sponge and cools to leave a crisp sugar coating.

Traditionally lemon drizzle cakes are glazed with apricot jam, but I love the flavour combinations of lemon  and raspberry so I like to substitute raspberry jam as an alternative glaze. 


  • 225g butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 225g self-raising flour

For the raspberry glaze
  • 2 heaped teaspoons of seedless raspberry jam
For the lemon drizzle
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 85g caster sugar

  • Begin by preheating the oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4 and lining a loaf tin (8cmx21cm) with baking parchment.

  • Beat the sugar and butter together until pale and creamy. Add the eggs one at a time, making sure each is well incorporated before adding the next.
  • Sift in the flour and finally mix in the grated lemon zest.
  • Pour the mixture into the lined loaf tin and place in the oven for 50-60 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

  • Remove the cake from the oven, turn out onto a cooling rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  • During this time prepare the drizzle by mixing together the lemon and sugar. In a separate bowl or saucepan warm the raspberry jam until it becomes runny. Spread the jam around the sides of the cake.

Pork and Beef Meatballs

This recipe makes enough for 10 servings. I like to make a large batch and freeze the portions that I don't eat. When you want a quick and easy dinner simply defrost in the fridge over night and heat through until the meatballs and sauce are piping hot.

When I need some real comfort food I forget the spaghetti and enjoy the meatballs served with some crispy fresh bread. 

  • 500g pork mince
  • 500g beef mince
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
  • 80g grated parmesan 
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g spaghetti per portion
For the Sauce
  • 3tbsp olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 3x400g can of chopped tomatoes
  • 120ml red wine
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1/2 bunch of parsley, finely chopped

  • To make the meatballs mix together the pork, beef, onion, parsley and Parmesan in a large bowl. Add in the beaten eggs and season. Mix the ingredients together with your hands; the more you mash the mince the more tender the meatballs will be.

  • Roll the mixture into small meatballs (approx 1 dessert spoon). Set aside any meatballs for freezing then spread the rest out in a large frying pan, then fry for 20-30 mins until browned. You can either use 2 frying pans or fry the meatballs in batches.

  • Meanwhile, make the sauce. Heat the oil in your largest pan. Add the garlic and sizzle for 1 min. Stir in the tomatoes, wine, sugar, parsley and seasoning. Simmer for 15-20 mins until slightly thickened. Spoon out any portions for freezing, adding the cooked meatballs to the sauce to keep warm while you boil the spaghetti. Stir the meatballs together with the pasta and serve with some extra grated Parmesan and a few basil leaves.
N.B If you are freezing any portions it is really important that you allow the ingredients to cool at room temperature before placing in the freezer.

Saturday, 11 January 2014

Turkish Feta Meze Dip

I visited the most wonderful Anatolian Turkish restaurant in London over the Summer. It was one of those moments when everyone was so hungry we stopped at the first place we saw. The restaurant that we stumbled across was Tas.  We decided to order a few meze dishes, one of which was their "bademli peynir ezmesi", which means "almond butter cheese".

I reluctantly tried the dip, not being a fan of feta cheese, and I am so glad that I did, this has become one of my favourite foods. It is a simple dish to make and is packed full of flavour.

  • 400g feta cheese
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 tbsp tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed 
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped parsley
  • 1/2 bunch of chopped coriander
  • 100g whole almonds, plus extra for serving

  • Place the olive oil, tomato paste and garlic in a pan and stir over a low heat until the garlic has softened and the ingredients have incorporated.
  • Remove the tomato mixture from the heat, and set aside to cool. Crumble the feta into a large bowl and stir in the tomato, garlic, olive oil mixture along with the parsley coriander and almonds.
  • Transfer into a serving dish and scatter over the extra almonds, serve with warm toasted pittas.

Friday, 10 January 2014

Pork Belly with Sticky BBQ Sauce

This recipe is wonderfully versatile, and can be enjoyed throughout the year. During the Summer I love to grill these on the BBQ, but they taste just as good baked in the oven. The recipe will make enough marinade for 8 strips of belly pork but can easily be doubled up if you want to make them for more people.

What I love most about this recipe is that the marinade doubles up as the sauce; also if you don't eat pork it goes beautifully with chicken.


  • 4 spring onions (scallions), sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 3tbsp honey
  • 1tbsp soft dark brown sugar
  • 1tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1tbsp soy sauce
  • 1/2 tbsp rum
  • 3 tsp Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp ground allspice


  • Tip the ribs into a big bowl and throw in the spring onions, and garlic. Now spoon all the remaining ingredients over the ribs and mix until well incorporated.
The pork can be cooked immediately or covered at this point and left to marinade in the fridge overnight.

  • Preheat the oven to 180C/160Cfan/Gas4 or heat the BBQ to a medium heat. If cooking in the oven transfer the pork to an oven proof dish with a little of the sauce. Cook for 20-30 minutes, turning and basting the meat every 5 minutes, until cooked through.
  • Place any leftover marinade into a saucepan and heat on a low/medium heat until thickened and sticky, pour over the meat just before serving.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Honey & Almond Madeleines

I know that it's the New Year and we should all be detoxing after a glutenous Christmas, but the weather has been so miserable recently that I still feel like I'm in hibernation mode.

These buttery French cakes are best enjoyed still warm from the oven with a cup of tea or coffee. The batter can be made in advance and baked in time for tea.

This was my first attempt at baking madeleines and I was incredibly happy with how they turned out. There was enough batter to make 20 madeleines, but this will vary slightly depending on your tin.

  • 3 large eggs
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 80g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 40g ground almonds
  • 75g butter, plus extra for greasing the tin

  • Preheat the oven to 190C/170C fan/gas 5
  • Generously butter, then flour, the madeleine or bun tins (if you are using a silicone madeleine tray you will not need to flour the tray as well).

  • Beat the eggs with the sugar, honey and vanilla extract until light and airy. 
  • Whisk in the flour and ground almonds until completely incorporated, then gradually whisk in the cooled, melted butter. 
  • Spoon the batter into the tins and bake for 10-12 mins, depending on the size of the tins.

  • When the madeleines are golden, risen and baked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave to cool for 2 mins before turning out.


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