Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Recipe. Show all posts

Sunday 16 May 2021

Rhubarb Crumble

Rhubarb Crumble
Rhubarb Crumble

There are few comfort foods more comforting to me than rhubarb crumble, preferably served with a generous dollop of creamy vanilla custard. The sweet gingery smell as it cooks, the slightly tart flavour and the crunchy topping take me right back to my childhood, back to the days when the statuesque specimens in my mum's rhubarb drill were taller than me. 

Friday 16 March 2018

Ginger Nuts ...

The other day in the freezing weather I developed in itch for Ginger Nuts. My grandma used to love Ginger Nuts. They were her all-time, best-of-the-best, favourite biscuits. She'd dunk them in her tea to soften them up a bit, and to flavour the brew with their wonderful gingeriness, and all the while she'd offer careful advice about not leaving them in too long; that was the way to a horrible messy sludge in the bottom of the cup. Hot, steaming tea, the colour of creosote, and carefully dunked Ginger Nuts became a little afternoon ritual of ours. And in the cold, with hostile grey skies and nowhere to go, I had to scratch the itch. And so, I made these Ginger Nuts in honour of Granny J, because the truth is I think of her every time I eat one.

Just read on for my recipe:

Thursday 9 February 2017

Carrot Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Today, a dull, bitterly cold, grey day in February, I'm all about brightening up the outlook with some yummy cupcakes topped with cream cheese frosting and the very brightest sprinkles I could find.

Carrot cake is a really easy cake to make. It's pretty much guaranteed to turn out deliciously moist due to the water content of the carrots. You could make this recipe as a sandwich cake with the cream cheese frosting serving as a sandwich layer in between, and on top. Alternatively you could make it in squares. 

Emi's school is having a cake sale this afternoon, so I'm going down the cupcake route to max-up the number of units for the punters.  

Monday 16 January 2017

Shoulder of lamb with date and pomegranate stuffing

Did you know that this is Blue Monday? Officially it's the lowest point of the year. With all the fun of Christmas been and gone, but the bills still lingering for payment it's the day when we're all supposed to be feeling the most bleugh!

Looking on the bright side: things can only get better after today ... 😜

And one way to make everything happier is to cook up some soul food indoors. So I'm comfort-eating with hearty winter fare to get me through Blue Monday. Mr B has a partiality for roast lamb, and  I'm rather keen on rolled roasts. I love the contrast of the meat and the stuffing. In this case I've added some dates to add a little sweetness, which works nicely with the lamb and some pomegranate seeds for a little extra zing.

Just read on for my recipe:

Friday 2 December 2016

Oxtail soup ... the ultimate winter warmer

It's turned really chilly here in London. The days are bright and clear, with blue skies and sunshine, but once the sun goes down it gets s-o-o-o cold.

At this time of the year, as the nights draw and the cold strengthens, I turn to hearty food: soups and stews are the things I want to cook most. And there's nothing better on a cold winter's night than a steaming bowl of oxtail soup. It is the ultimate, luscious, warming, comfort food. Mine gets cooked all day in the slow cooker, filling the house with its tantalising smell. By nightfall the meat is falling off the bone, and the liquid is a rich, deep chocolatey brown ... ambrosia in a soup bowl!

Given that there are only three bears who usually sit down at my table every night, this recipe has been calculated to feed three people. You can big it up if you've got more folk to feed. Just read on for my recipe:

Oxtail soup

Saturday 15 October 2016

Choco-nana muffins ...

In our house we very occasionally don't get around to eating all the bananas before they get over-ripe. Given a choice I prefer a slightly green banana. Too much time of the shelf, and they develop a chalky texture and cloying sugariness that I really can't be having.

When this happens I often peel them, put them in a sandwich bag and store them in the freezer for a batch of my Choco-nana muffins. With the sweetness of the over-ripe bananas there's no need to add much sugar, and the addition of some cocoa powder with bake-stable chocolate chips ups the ante to produce a really tasty muffin that can't be too terrible for the waistline ...

Just read on for my recipe:

Tuesday 19 July 2016

Wild Raspberry Jam ...

... is a really tasty thing. I jest you not. Here in Ireland in the month of July wild raspberries grow at the fringes of the forest that are the sweetest, most raspberriest raspberries in the world. One of our favourite summer afternoon activities is going for a walk, and picking the wild raspberries as we wander. It's our thing in July. And yesterday we went armed with little buckets to harvest enough fruit to make some jam.

Wednesday 13 July 2016

Summer Pavlova ...

This is my go-to dessert whenever I have a brain freeze and can't think of anything else to make. It's so easy, and yet at the same time looks like it took a bit of effort to put together. For me it's the perfect dessert when the soft summer berries are in season. The sweetness of the meringue needs something slightly tart to cut across it and balance the flavours. In my book a mixture of alpine strawberries, raspberries, and blue berries would be a pretty perfect accompaniment, but you can add whatever works for you.

And if there was one recipe that I was to pass on to my son as a perfect keep-it-up-your-sleeve secret to impress any dinner guests with in the future, this would be it. Just read on for the details ...

Friday 24 June 2016

Marmalade flapjacks

My lovely builders are still working ... and I'm just about managing to keep my nose above the waterline. Our house feels like a very disorganised camping site with fairly primitive cooking arrangements in place when my chaps are working.  One of my challenges during the day is managing to get by without all of the electrical circuits operating. At the moment I'm feeling lucky as I've got electricity feeding the circuit that my ovens are connected to, but nothing else in the kitchen works: no food processors, no mixers, nothing ...

So I've resorted to making  golden marmalade flapjacks. They're Emi's favourites, and they're really easy to make, even if you don't have a food mixer.

Just read on for the recipe.

Sunday 7 February 2016

Potato Pancakes for Pancake Day ...

This morning we had pancakes for breakfast. Potato pancakes to be precise. It was a dry run ahead of Pancake Day on Tuesday.

I'm not mad keen about sweet things, so you can hold back on the maple syrup, but I do like savoury pancakes, and when you combine them with some smoked salmon, a poached egg and a dollop of sour cream, you're heading in the direction of a pretty classy breakfast.

Just read on for my recipe ...

Tuesday 22 December 2015

Apple and salted caramel pies ...

I love traditional mince pies, but I've noticed that Emi and a clutch of his chums from school aren't that keen on old-fashioned sweet mince - so I've knocked up an apple and salted caramel combination that no one, but no one can resist, especially if you toss on a scoop of ice-cream. There's something especially delicious about the sweetness of the caramel, the slight tartness of the apple and the saltiness of the sauce that's guaranteed to have them begging for more ... .

These pies are really quick and very easy to rustle up if people drop in unexpectedly. Just read on for the recipe:

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Chocolate week ...

I've only just realised that we're in the middle of  London Chocolate Week. Eeek! Why haven't I heard about this wonderful celebration before? It overlaps with the London Rumfest, billed as the World's biggest 3-day festival of rum, and the two are being paired in a chocolate and rum tasting event on Friday at the Chocolate Show in Olympia. The Chocolate Show is running from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th October, and features an impressive array of London's top chocolatiers. Top billing, however, has to go to the chocolate fashion show. Let's hope the spotlights on the cat walk won't melt the couture or things could get really messy ... .

Well it all sounds suitably bonkers, so I thought that I might as well join in. And, let's be honest, if there's chocolate involved I don't need much persuading. So I'm off to rustle up some of the very best Chocolate Brownies for the troops over here at Talk-a-Lot-Towers. You can find my recipe here: The best chocolate brownies - ever!

Saturday 19 September 2015

Crockpot apple butter ...

My house smells wonderful at the moment. If I could bottle this aroma and sell it as the essence of autumn I think I'd make a fortune. Jo Malone would definitely be interested ... .

I've been busy with my crockpot making apple butter, and the waft of spiced apple is everywhere. Emi came home from swim club and remarked on it before I'd even got the front door open ... .

And happily the product of all this industry tastes as good as it smells. I think apple butter is a Dutch or an Amish invention, and it's really worth trying. You can use it like jam on toast or muffins. It works beautifully as an applesauce substitute with pork or cold cuts, and you could also serve it as an accompaniment to some nice strong cheese.

The secret to making this delicious apple butter is to cook the apples very slowly over a low heat without letting them burn. So you see the crockpot is the ultimate gizmo to spare you toil and trouble. If you've got one, you'd have to be crazy not to use it.

Anyway just read on for my recipe.

Thursday 6 August 2015

Malteser squares for tea time ...

Emi has just had one of his school friends down to stay with us in Devon for a few days. They bonded originally over a shared fossil fascination, so much of our time has been  dinosaur-themed. We haven't done anything extravagant, but we've enjoyed long country walks with the Wonder Dog, feeding the chooks and making friends with our bovine neighbours who've moved into the cow paddock down the lane.

One of the country rituals that our little visitor from London approved of whole-heartedly was afternoon tea. In my world everything stops for tea, and my world always looks just a little bit better after a nice cup of Rosy Lee.

Now as everyone knows a cup of tea on its own is just too ... wet. It's calling out for a nice biscuit or a bit of cake. These Malteser Squares fit the bill perfectly. They're from an old recipe from my own childhood that my mum used to make for me when I had friends home for tea after school. And you know in all my years I've yet to meet a person who doesn't like Maltesers. Sure there are lots of chocolate snobs out there who'll sneer at the humble honey-combed chocolate-covered balls, but just watch them carefully and you'll find that none of these self-professed foodies is above snaffling a few when they think no one's watching.

Anyway, enough of my rich and philosophical observations on the human condition, here's the recipe for a super simple no-bake classic that's guaranteed to go down a treat at teatime:

Thursday 9 July 2015

Home-made black currant cordial that won't rot your teeth ...

Last weekend the Fates were on my side, and Mr B, who’d been delegated the task of picking the black currants down in Devon, came home with just over a kilo of wonderful, ripe fruit. I’d asked him to get them for me never thinking that he’d actually follow through and deliver. But, notwithstanding my skepticism, and against all the odds, Mr B found his way to the black currant bushes, recognised them for what they were and harvested the crop – or as much of it as was ripe for the picking. He promises me that there are more yet to ripen in the not-so-very-hot Devon sunshine.

I decided to turn them into some black currant cordial, which I can add to a glass of Cava or still white wine on a hot summer evening. I have even been known to add it an innocent glass of sparkling mineral water to turn it into a minor celebration too.

It reminds me of my childhood. Growing up in the north of Ireland there weren’t many fruit crops that we could consistently rely upon to deliver jam-making produce in our cool, damp summers. But our little black currant bushes never failed us. As a consequence my mother and grandmothers relied heavily on this rare bounty for making jams, jellies, cordials and pies.

They’re a real heritage crop. In the dark days of the Second World War when the Nazi naval blockade was threatening the nation’s nutrition the government seized upon the black currant crop as the only means by which they could prevent an entire generation from being weakened by scurvy. The currants are full to bursting with vitamin C, and, as part of the War Effort, they were turned into syrup, which was then fed to the children to keep them healthy.

More recent studies have shown that consumption of black currants can also help reduce the effects of heart disease, diabetes and maybe even Alzheimer's. They're a bit of an all round superfood.

And I have to sing their praises for today’s gardener. They fruit reliably every year. I've had very little to worry about from either aphids or mildew - or anything else for that matter. They don’t need much attention. You just plant them in a hole in the ground, mulch around the roots a bit and let them get on with it. Prune them towards the end of winter and that's about it.  If you’re only going to grow one fruit crop in your garden I strongly recommend that you chose this one. 

And having packed all that fruity goodness into my cordial the last thing I want is to include cavity-inducing, tooth-rotting sugar, so I've substituted xylitol in place of regular sugar. If you wanted to use normal sugar that would work fine too.

Anyway if you’d like to make some cordial here’s the recipe:

Saturday 20 June 2015

Black currant jam with vanilla and star anise ...

Oh happy days! I'm so in love with summer. It's totally, absolutely, no-question-about-it, my favourite time of the year.

I love those long summer days, when I can leave the garden door open, the Wonder Dog can come go as he pleases and the balmy summer breeze can blow through the house. I love that moment in late spring/ early summer when the roses go crazy and explode with colour and fragrance. I don't like to think of it as mid-summer cos' that would suggest that it was already half over, and I want to hug this baby close and make the season last for as long as I can possibly hold onto it for.

Yesterday morning I was delighted to find that my little black currant bush (of a year and a half in my garden) had borne its first decent crop, which was all starting to look very lush and ripe.  Not wanting to waste any of this precious fruit I headed out and harvested the bounty. It weighed in at a very respectable 460g, which I decided was more than enough to warrant getting my preserving pan out for.

And this is what I made:

Thursday 18 June 2015

What to do when your marmalade hasn't set ...

Don't throw it out!

I had a bit of a disaster recently with some marmalade I'd made from a batch of sweet oranges. They just hadn't had enough natural pectin in to get a good set, and my jars were full of the most delicious marmalade, which had the consistency of an orange smoothie. The flavour was great, but the stuff was impossible to use on toast!

If you ever suffer a similar disaster here are three steps to turn the situation around:

Sunday 10 May 2015

Marmalade Biscuits

It's Sunday afternoon. We've finally got the homework done - yeah! The sun has put in an appearance. Mr B has cut the grass and there's that great spring smell of a freshly cut lawn. It's pretty fabulous outside, and I can feel a nice cup of al fresco Rosie Lee with one of my very best marmalade biscuits coming on. 

Now I know I've gone on in the past about how much I love marmalade (my middle name is Paddington). But, honestly peeps, I've got the very best Clementine and Cardamon Marmalade known to man - and I'm always keen to use it in everything, and at every available opportunity. It really is that good. 

And these biscuits with their subtle notes of cardamon and allspice, and the chewy bits of baked clementine from the chunky-cut marmalade are really very good, very good indeed. In fact they're just perfect for dunking in a cup of tea in the garden on a fine spring afternoon. 

Would you like to try one?

Thursday 19 March 2015

The very best Marmalade Cake in town ...

Yesterday I made a cake.  And, as a cake is a bit of a celebration over here at Talk-a-Lot Towers, I thought I'd better search around for something to celebrate. So having missed St. Pat's and Mother's Day it's a Vernal Equinox and Total Solar Eclipse Cake. How's that for something to celebrate?

Happy Vernal Equinox (on Friday) everyone!

The truth is this cake and I started out together about a week ago. We have history. Sad muppet that I am, I decided to make myself a Mother's Day Cake. The story gets even sadder as I put my experimental mixture into a cake tin that was way too small, which resulted in a cake explosion over the sides of the tin and all over the base of the oven. Then, not satisfied with the mess I'd made, I opened the oven door before the cake had finished rising, and the whole thing flopped. And then, when I finally extracted it I discovered that it was welded to the fancy cake mould, which, contrary to what it said on the label, really wasn't non-stick and ought to have been buttered like an oil-slick pre-launch.

It was cake-carnage, my friends. A great big tripple-whammy of a disaster.

Undaunted, and with a terrier-like determination that would put the Wonder Dog to shame, I tried it again the next day in a humble loaf tin. It was carefully greased and left in the oven for the requisite period of time without any curious door-opening to have a close-up on how the whole thing was getting along. And the result was pretty finger-licking good, even if I do say so myself.

Now the stealth ingredient here, which makes my cake just a little bit epic is the marmalade. It really is good. In fact, to state it plainly, if you like fragrant cardamon notes in your clementine orange marmalade, it's the marmalade of your dreams.  You can check it out here: Cardamon and Clementine Marmalade. It carries those wonderful top notes of cardamon into the cake, and it really is worth getting fat for. If you don't want to faff around making my special super-duper taste-it-in-your-dreams marmalade you can just substitute a tasty alternative of your own. I won't be too prescriptive but do bear in mind that your choice is important: the bottom line is that this cake will only ever be as good as the marmalade you make it from.

Anyway if you'd like to get your chops round some special marmalade cake, here's my recipe:


150 g butter
150 g caster sugar
1 large clementine (You could use any other small orange that you can lay your hands on. Blood oranges are good but their season is so short. My favourite citrus fruit is the clementine so I tend to use those whenever I can.)
2 large eggs
75 g of truly superb marmalade
150 g self-raising flour

And some icing sugar to dust on top of the cake once you're done.

1. Heat the oven to 180ºC  and line/ butter a smallish cake tin. For this recipe I have used a 1 1/2 pint Bundt pan. Alternatively you could use a 20cm x 11cm x 7cm loaf tin. If you're planning on using a Bundt pan make sure to grease it really well and sprinkle a dusting of flour on too for good measure.

2. Beat the butter and the sugar in the mixer until they are light and fluffy.

3. Whisk the eggs, and add them slowly to the mixture, a little at a time. Beat until they are uniformly mixed with the butter and the sugar.

4. Finely grate the skin of the clementine and add it to the mixture along with the marmalade. Mix until everything is uniform.

5. Fold in the flour. It's best to do this by hand with a big metal spoon. Keep going until all the flour has been absorbed without trace. It doesn't take very long so it's not too onerous to mix.

6. Spoon the mixture into the greased/ lined cake tin. Do not fill the cake tin to more than 3/4 of its depth, otherwise you risk a cake explosion over the sides, which is not pretty.

7. Bake for about 40 minutes in the oven, resisting all temptation to open the door and take a peek for the first 20 minutes or so. Check it after 35 minutes to see whether it's ready.

8. When it's done (a skewer, pushed in and then pulled back, should come out clean) take it out of the oven and leave it to cool.

9. When the cake has cooled dust the top with a sprinkling of icing sugar.

Enjoy in the sunshine after the excitement of the solar eclipse (fingers crossed) with a nice pot of tea.

All the best,

Bonny x

Tuesday 10 March 2015

Love your leftovers ... Beef and Mushroom pies

The Sunday Roast is a weekly favourite in our house. We love a good roast dinner with all the trimmings. It's a bit of an occasion, and we like to linger around the table, taking our time, putting the world to rights and enjoying what Emi calls golden rainbow family time. It's the one time of the week when no one's in a hurry.

It doesn't matter whether it's beef, chicken, duck, a leg of lamb, or a shoulder of pork; they all taste better for having been slow-roasted in the oven. And ditto too with the veggies and potatoes. My Spanish family rarely cook anything outside of bread, pizza and cakes in their ovens, but over here in Blighty we've always loved our oven-cooked savouries.

One of the great things about this type of cooking is the left-overs. A good roast of beef, like we had last Sunday, can easily be stretched out over a couple of dinners. And what you do with the left-overs can be just as tasty as the main event.

Last night I made these beef and mushroom pies from our Sunday leavings. And they went down a treat with the troops at supper time.

If you'd like to have a go at making some of your own, they're easy and quick to prepare. Here's my recipe, which should produce individual pies for 5 or 6 people (depending on how generous you are with the filling):


My left-over Sunday Roast weighed about 400g after I'd cut off all the bits of fat

250 g sliced mushrooms
2 bay leaves
1 large carrot peeled and sliced into smallish slices
1 large leek, washed and finely sliced
4 toes of garlic finely sliced
200 ml of gravy also left-over from our Sunday dinner - made using the cooking juices from the joint
200 ml red wine
A couple of sprigs of finely chopped thyme
pre-rolled puff pastry
1 egg for an egg-wash (optional: I don't do this as one of my troops has an egg allergy and I can't be faffed trying to remember which pie I haven't put the egg-wash on. It's easier for me to go eggless.)


1. Over a low heat sweat the leeks, carrots and mushrooms in a saucepan with the bay leaves and the thyme and a good glug of olive oil for about 15 minutes. You want them to be soft, but not browned.
2. Add the red wine, and turn the heat up to burn off the alcohol for 5 minutes or so, stirring to make sure that the mixture doesn't catch on the bottom.
3. Add the diced meat and the gravy. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Stir well so that everything's nicely mixed and set to one side (off the heat).
4. Roll out the pastry and cut circles for the bases of your pies and for the tops. I use a pie tray with individual pie moulds that measure 9cm in diameter and have a depth of 6 cm. I think they produce a pie of perfect proportions for each person. Through trial and error I've discovered that if I use a Portmeirion cereal bowl to cut around it makes a perfectly sized circle for the pie casing, and cutting around the base of an Emma Bridgwater mug makes the perfect pastry roof to go on top. Ideally you want your case to sit just a little bit higher than the top of the mould so that you can squish it into the roof to seal the whole thing up, but we'll get to that later.
5. Butter the pie moulds to stop things sticking, and line them with pastry.

6. Spoon the beef and vegetable mixture into your pie cases. Be sure and pick the bay leaves out of the mixture and discard, as they won't make great pie-filling. Place the pastry lids on top, and push them gently into the walls of the cases with the prongs of a fork to seal the edges. Then slice through the top with a knife to make two or three steam vents.

7. If you're doing an egg-wash. Beat your egg and glaze the tops of the pies with the egg mixture using a pastry brush.
8. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 220º C for 20 minutes. Then, without opening the door, turn the heat down to 180º C, and leave them to bake for a further 25 minutes.
9. Remove from the pie moulds with a palette knife and serve with a Greek salad or whatever sort of side-dish takes your fancy.

Enjoy with your nearest and dearest and a decent glass of vino.

All the best for now,

Bonny x