Dec 31, 2010

An Apology

I'm sorry foodie friends, I've been a bad, bad blogger. Over the Christmas I've had little or no blogging (or indeed cooking!) done but I promise, 2011 I will add more recipes for your eating pleasure!

Hope you have all had an awesome holiday season, and that 2011 brings you all you deserve, and more!

Dec 13, 2010

Brown Soda Bread

This is a great little brown bread recipe, you can knock it together and have it on the table in no time, which is useful seeing as it tends to disappear just as fast, if not faster, as you can make it! This is the bread we serve with soup, you can make and bake it whilst the soup cooks, and then it'll be cool enough to slice, but still slightly warm from the oven, when you get around to eating the soup. Mmmm!

Makes 1 loaf


225g self-raising wholemeal flour
225g self-raising flour
1tsp salt
1tbsp demerera sugar
1tbsp rapeseed oil
300-450ml whole milk


  1. Preheat your oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
  2. Sieve the self-raising flour and salt into a large bowl. 
  3. Add the wholemeal flour and sugar, following by the oil.
  4. Add the milk a little at a time until you have achieved a workable dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and knock into a rounded shape.
  5. Place on a floured baking tray and cut a cross into the top of the round with a sharp knife.
  6. Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the bread is well risen and crisp, and the base sounds hollow when tapped.
  7. Leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing and eating!

Dec 6, 2010

Cream of Vegetable Soup

It's minus something important here, and the freezing fog has graciously moved off enough so I can see...when the cats sit on the window and want to come in. Definitely soup weather!

Made this one this morning whilst Himself had a lie-in. Nothing better than waking up to freshly made soup and bread (not that I'd know that since I'm always the one making it, but I've heard...) and it's also great for using up the vegetables that you'd otherwise turn your nose up at. Slightly sad looking carrots? In ya go! Pepper that may or may not be about to start sprouting fur? Cut off the soft bits and in you go as well! Everything and anything can go into this soup, whatever you have in your kitchen at the time. I've used leeks here as I had them and they needed using, but onions would be perfectly good as well. How many it'll serve depends on how much you make, this morning I used 'The Vat' so I've a good 4-5 litres of soup (and that's only it half full!). Just try and use the biggest saucepan you have, if you've made too much you can just pop it in the freezer (or drop some round to friends, family and neighbours), that's the joy of soup.

Serves: Lots!

4 carrots, sliced
2 leeks, sliced
2 sticks celery, sliced
Half a squash, cubed
1 head of iceberg lettuce, sliced
1 green pepper, sliced
2 potatoes, cubed
1 bay leaf
Pinch of thyme
Pinch of rosemary
Handful of chopped parsley
Stock (vegetable or chicken), to cover
Salt & pepper
Half cup of cream
Knob of butter


  1. Prepare your vegetables and herbs. Have them all ready to rock and roll and it'll make the soup so much easier for you. Melt your butter in a large saucepan over a high heat.
  2. Add the leeks and celery to the saucepan and stir, cooking until slightly softened. Add the rest of the vegetables, and your herbs. Cook, stirring constantly, for about 6 minutes (make sure that you actually turn the vegetables over one another, and it's not just all the same ones sitting on the bottom of the pan).
  3. Add your stock, enough to just cover the vegetables. Either chicken or vegetable stock is fine, whichever you have to hand. If you're using pre-made stock cubes remember that they can have quite a high salt content, so go easy with the salt later on.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer for 45 minutes to an hour.
  5. Remove from the heat and puree your soup. You may need to do this in batches. Return to the saucepan over a medium heat.
  6. Add the cream, and season with salt and pepper to taste.
  7. Pop into bowls and eat, eat, eat!
This soup really goes help keep you warm on a cold winter's day so pop it on to cook then go out for a brisk walk. By the time you're back it'll be ready to finalise and serve, you'll have worked up an appetite, and it'll keep you full and warm for ages afterwards.

Gorgeous served with brown or white soda bread.

Nov 26, 2010

Sticky Ginger Loaf

Oooo made this one last night with lashings of brandy. Kitchen stank to high heaven of booze for a while afterwards, you'd swear we'd been entertaining the town drunk in there but my oh my was it worth it in the end for the yumminess! This was taken from Hugh Fernley-Whittingstall's 'River Cottage Everyday' cookbook, definitely worth investing in!

Serves: about 12-14 slices


75g butter
125g dark muscovado sugar
150g black treacle
150g golden syrup
75ml dark rum (I used brandy as that's what was to hand and it was grand)
2 medium eggs, beaten
225g self-raising flour
1tsp ground allspice
1tsp ground ginger
A pinch of sea salt
75g preserved stem ginger, chopped, plus a little of it's syrup


  1. Preheat your oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3. Grease and line a loaf tin with at least 1 litre capacity.
  2. Melt your butter, sugar, treacle and syrup in a saucepan over a medium heat until combined. Leave to cool a little, then mix in the booze, followed by the eggs.
  3. Sift the dry ingredients into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the melted mixture and stir until smooth.
  4. Stir in your chopped ginger and syrup.
  5. Pour the mix into your prepared tin and bake for about 50 minutes to an hour (until a skewer instered in the middle comes out clean).
  6. Leave to cool a little in the tin, then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.
Finally, some pictures! Of course, I was halfway through eating it when I remembered to take a few shots so please excuse, had ginger loaf hanging from my mouth LOL

Nov 15, 2010

Drunken Chicken Stew

I chucked this one out for a dinner party recently, didn't have a clue what to cook, was making a starter and dessert as well so I wanted a main course that would just bugger off and do it's own thing, the end result: Drunken Chicken Stew (so named as the chicken is drunk, not just the chef!). It goes without saying that the end result is only as good as the wine that you use, not that I mean you should throw a €100 bottle in but don't use glorified paint-stripper either!

You can serve this with potatoes, though I personally prefer dumplings (only because I never had them until this year so I'm going a little dumpling crazy at the moment!)

Serves 4


500g diced boneless chicken meat
500ml white wine
2 sticks of celery, chopped
2 onions, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 tbsp plain flour
1 can chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper
3 spring of fresh thyme


  1. Put a large saucepan over a medium heat and warm your oil. Put all your chopped vegetables and your thyme in the pan and fry for about 10 minutes.
  2. Add the chicken and flour, stir, and allow to cook for a minute, before adding the white wine and chopped tomatoes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil, then cover and reduce to a low heat and leave to simmer for at least an hour and a half, stirring occasionally, and adding water if it looks very dry.
  4. Your stew is done when the meat is tender and falling apart.

Slow-roast Duck and gravy

I love duck, and I love slow-roasted meats so this is the only way I could consider cooking a whole duck. It gets rid of all that fattiness that you get with duck and instead you have this wonderful melt-in-your-mouth duck meat and astonishingly crispy skin. It does serve four but I cook a whole roast duck for 2 and then use the leftovers for many treats over the following days.

Most whole ducks will come with a bag of giblets inside. I use them to make giblet stock for the gravy but you can also make giblet soup or duck liver pate, whatever takes your fancy!

Serves 4


1 x 2.2-2.5kg oven-ready duck
Sea salt
A handful each of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme
90ml port
2tsp plain flour
300ml stock (chicken or giblet)


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas mark 3.
  2. Rub the duck skin all over with the sea salt, and stuff the duck with the fresh herbs. Place the duck, breast side up, on a rack in a roasting tray and roast for 3 hours, draining the fat that comes off into a bowl about once an hour.
  3. Turn the oven up to 220C/425F/Gas mark 7 and roast for another 15 minutes to really crisp up the skin.
  4. Transfer the duck from the rack to a warm plate and leave to rest for a few minutes whilst you make the gravy.
  5. Skim the fat off the bowl of juices you have set aside until just the duck 'jelly' remains. Add the port and simmer for a few minutes until it is well reduced. Stir in the flour and allow to boil rapidly for a few seconds, then gradually stir in the stock. Bring to the boil and then simmer for a few minutes until rich and thick. Season to taste and strain into a warm jug.
There you have it, slow roasted duck with it's own gravy. Delicious with any vegetable accompaniment, but especially with the saute potatoes recipe you can find here.

Lemon Butterfly Buns

You cannot fail with cupcakes. Everyone loves them, young and old alike. Walk into any room with free cupcakes and see what I mean. Everything after that becomes "Om, nom, nom..."

Makes 12


115g self raising flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
115g butter, softened
2 eggs, beaten
Finely grated zest of one lemon
2-4tbsp milk

(for the filling)
55g butter
115g icing sugar
1tbsp lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 190C/375F/Gas mark 5. Place 12 paper cases in a bun tin.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the butter, sugar, eggs, lemon and enough milk to give a medium-soft consistency. Beat the mixture throughly until smooth, then divide evenly between the paper cases. Bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until well risen and golden. Cool on wire racks.
  3. To make the filling place the butter in a bowl, add the icing sugar and lemon and beat well until smooth and creamy.
  4. Once the cakes are completely cooled use a small sharp knife to cut a circle from the top of each cake. Spoon a little of the buttercream filling onto the cake and then cut the circle you removed in half, and press each half into the filling to resemble wings. Dust the cakes with icing sugar before serving.

Banana Bread

I love my banana bread. Some people make it with walnuts through but I'm a purist, no walnuts here! If you want to add some though just throw about 50g chopped walnuts through the mixture and stir them in before pouring into the tin. Enjoy!


Butter, for greasing
125g white self-raising flour
100g wholemeal self-raising flour
150g demerara sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
2 large over-ripe bananas, peeled
175ml unsweetened orange juice
2 eggs, beaten
4tbsp rapeseed oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4.. Lightly grease a 1lb loaf tin.
  2. Sift the flours, sugar, salt and spices into a large mixing bowl.
  3. In a separate bowl mash the bananas with the orange juice, then stir in the eggs and the oil. Pour the wet mix into the dry ingredients and mix well.
  4. Pour into the prepared loaf tin and bake in the preheated oven for 1 hour, or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
  5. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Scrumptious Chocolate-Orange Cake

I love this cake. Seriously, I want to run away with this cake and live on an island having little cake babies and eating them. It's Terrys Chocolate Orange in cake form and it's divine and I cannot make enough of it. You think I'm mad now but just wait until you have some!


150g unsalted butter
75g plain chocolate, broken into pieces
250g caster sugar
5 large eggs, beaten
150g plain flour
2tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
Grated rinds of 2 large oranges


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas mark 4. Grease and line two 1lb loaf tins.
  2. Place the chocolate in a heatproof bowl sitting over a saucepan of simmering water (make sure the bowl doesn't actually touch the water). Remove from the heat once the chocolate has melted.
  3. Place the butter and sugar in a bowl and beat until light and fluffy. Gradually beat in the eggs. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the mixture and fold in.
  4. Transfer one-third of the mixture to the melted chocolate and stir together. Stir the orange zest into the remaining mixture.
  5. Place one quarter of the orange mixture in each cake tin, spreading to an even layer. Drop spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture in, then the orange, then the chocolate again and so on until you have split the mixtures evenly between the two tins. Swirl the tops until you have an even layer.
  6. Pop into the preheated oven and bake for 35-40 minutes or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool slightly in the tins before turning out onto a wire rack and removing the lining paper to cool completely.

You try and stop at one slice....

Rich Fruit Cake

I hate fruit cake. Really, I do. I have refused to eat it for years. I came across this recipe, tried it out for myself and it has converted me. Now in fairness I still don't eat other people's fruit cake but by hell I'll eat mine!


Butter, for greasing
175g stoned unsweetened dates
125g ready-to-eat dried prunes
200ml unsweetened orange juice
2tbsp black treacle
1tsp lemon zest
1tsp orange zest
225g wholemeal self-raising flour
1tsp mixed spice
125g raisins
125g sultanas
125g currants
125g dried cranberries
3 large eggs, separated


  1. Grease and line a deep 8 inch round cake tin. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Chop the dates and prunes and place in a saucepan. Pour in the orange juice and simmer for about 10 minutes. remove from the heat and beat the fruit mixture until pureed. Add the treacle and zest and leave to cool.
  3. Sift the flour and mixed spice into a large mixing bowl (adding any bran that gets sieved out). Add the raisins, sultanas, currents and dried cranberries. 
  4. When the date and prune mixture has cooled beat in the egg yolks. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until stiff and holding peaks.
  5. Spoon the fruit mixture into the dry ingredients and mix together. Gently fold in the egg whites with a large metal spoon. Transfer to the prepared cake tin and back in the preheated oven for and hour and a half. Leave to cool in the tin.

And that's pretty much it! You can cover it in marzipan and royal icing to have a lovely Christmas or wedding cake. You can keep it in an airtight tin and infuse it with brandy. My personal favourite is to either A. eat it sliced with butter and a big mug of hot chocolate or B. sliced and fried in 1tsp butter, 1 tsp golden syrup, a very naughty but nice foodie treat!

Simple Chocolate Sponge

This is basically a chocolate flavoured Victoria sandwich and it's a great one to whip out at short notice. I love cake mixes where everything gets dumped in the bowl at once! A very more-ish cake, it doesn't last long in our house!


(For the cake)
125g soft unsalted butter
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
1tbsp golden syrup
125g self-raising flour
2tbsp cocoa powder

(For the filling and topping)
100g icing sugar
50g soft unsalted butter
100g milk chocolate


  1. Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas Mark 3. Grease two 7 inch shallow cake tins.
  2. Place all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric whisk to form a smooth and fluffy mixture.
  3. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and level the tops. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes or until slightly springy to the touch. Coo for a few minutes in the tins and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
  4. Meanwhile to make the topping and filling beat the icing sugar and butter together in a bowl until light and fluffy. Melt the chocolate and beat into the mixture. Use half this mix to sandwich the two cakes together, and spread the remainder over the top of the cake. You can dust with a little icing sugar too if you'd like.
  5. Serve, well, anytime you want some good cake!

Spiced Squash Soup

I adore squash. Seriously, there's nothing that you can't use it for, from starters all the way through to dessert and it's always good! I can't believe I've only discovered it in the last few years. We grew some squash this year in our garden before we moved and it was great to have it there all the time. However, it's so easy to pick up squash in the supermarket these days that you don't have to grow your own, though you will find the varieties somewhat limited. Try your local farmers market though, they will have lots more options for you. This recipe works with all types of squash once you keep the quantities the same.

Serves 4


2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
1thumb-sized piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped (I use Harbanero chillies myself but it makes for hot soup. Try your own favourite chilli)
2tbsp chopped fresh coriander
1 bay leaf
1kg squash, peeled, deseeded, and diced
600ml vegetable stock
Salt and pepper
Single cream, to garnish


  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring, for about 3 minutes. Add the ginger, chilli, coriander, bay leaf and squash and cook for another 5 minutes.
  2. Pour in the stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for about half an hour, or until the squash is tender. remove from the heat, take out the bay leaf and leave the soup to cool a little.
  3. Transfer the soup to a food processor and blend until smooth. Return the mixture to the pan, season to taste with salt and pepper and reheat gently, stirring.
  4. Remove from the heat, pour into warmed bowls and serve garnished with a swirl of cream.

Coq Au Vin

I love chicken. It's so versatile and delicious. I had been planning on making this dinner for ages, for one of our dinner parties or for when we had people over but every time I cooked something else. Recently one evening I decided screw it and I cooked it just for us, no fancy dinner party needed and it was so good! It is a great dish to serve up to guests but it's equally good as a mid-week normal dinner, economical, filling and no harder to make than a stew!

Serves 4


4tbsp butter
2tbsp olive oil
4lb chicken pieces (on the bone)
Big handful of streaky bacon, diced
2 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2tbsp brandy
225ml red wine
300ml chicken stock
1 bouquet garni
salt and pepper
2tbsp plain flour
4 bay leaves


  1. Melt half the butter with the olive oil in a large, flameproof, casserole dish. Add the chicken and cook over a medium heat for 8-10 minutes, turning continually until golden brown all over. Add the bacon, onions and garlic.
  2. Pour in the brandy and set it alight with a match or taper. When the flames have died down add the red wine, stock, bay leaves and bouquet garni, and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  3. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 1 hour, or until the chicken pieces are cooked through and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, make a beurre manie by mashing the butter that's left with the plain flour in a small bowl.
  5. Remove the bouquet garni and bay leaves and discard. Transfer the chicken to a large plate and keep warm. Stir the beurre manie into the casserole, a little at a time. Bring to the boil, return the chicken to the casserole and serve immediately.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Ah the good old reliable, and one of the Mr's favourite dishes! Funny to think that the man wouldn't eat sauces or foreign foods until recently and this was one of the things that won him over. Definitely a delight for the taste buds, and an eternal fall back dinner when we don't feel like making an effort but still want a great filling dinner.

Serves 4


Olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 carrot, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
Handful of diced streaky bacon
1lb fresh mince beef
1 can chopped tomatoes
2tsp dried oregano
1 glass of red wine
2tbsp tomato puree
Salt and pepper
1lb dried spaghetti (you can get those handy little sizer things for spaghetti, great stuff!)
Freshly grated hard cheese to serve (eg Parmesan)


  1. Heat a drop of oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat. Add the onion and cook for 3 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, carrot, celery and diced bacon to the pan and cook for 3-4 minutes, or until just starting to brown.
  3. Add the beef and cook over a high heat, or until the mince is cooked through.
  4. Stir in the tomatoes, oregano and red wine and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour, stirring occasionally so ensure it doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan.
  5. Stir in the tomato puree and season to taste with the salt and pepper.
  6. Bring a large pan of slightly salted water to the boil, add the pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes (until tender but still firm to the bite). Drain throughly.
  7. Transfer the pasta to your plates, add the bolognese and serve with the cheese (if using) and a big glass of red wine (because you deserve it!).
**Garlic bread is a must for bolognese in our house, useful as a mop for all those little bits of bolognese left behind on your plate!

Toad In The Hole

I can't believe it's November already! I've been so bad about keeping the blog updated, apologies! On the upside, I have been cooking everyday (well, I need to eat) so I have lots of yummy things to share with you!

Toad in the hole is ovbiously dependent on the type of sausages you use. Personally I love Nolans of Kilcullens sausages but since they're based in Kildare and not Cork I'm trying to find a good replacement. Of course, you'll always find an amazing selection of sausages down at The English Market, but any normal breakfast sausage will do. You could also try meatballs instead of sausage if you want!

Serves 4


Oil (for greasing)
115g plain flour
Pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
300ml whole milk
450g good quality sausages


  1. Preheat the oven to 220C/425F/Gas Mark 7.
  2. Grease a 8x10 inch ovenproof dish or roasting tin.
  3. Make the batter by sifting the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the beaten egg and half the milk. Carefully beat together until the mixture is smooth. Gradually beat in the rest of the milk and then cover, and leave to stand for 30 minutes.
  4. Prick the sausages and place them in your roasting dish. Cook the sausages for 10-15 minutes or until they have coloured and the fat has started to run and sizzle.
  5. Remove the sausage tray from the oven and quickly pour the batter over the sausages.
  6. Return to the oven and cook for 35-45 minutes or until the batter is well risen and golden brown.
  7. Serve immediately with mashed potatoes and lashings of rich onion gravy.

Sep 18, 2010

Kezz's Steak Pie

Well, more truthfully, my steak pie that I make for Kezz. This is rib-stickingly good eating, and definitely something that will light up the eyes of anyone coming in on a cold, wet winters evening. Pop off your shoes, relax by the fire, and enjoy with a glass of red wine.

Will serve 4 very hungry, cold men


1 lb cubed beef
1 medium onion, diced
2 large carrots, chopped
1 stick of celery, diced
1.5 litres water
2 heaped tablespoon original Bisto powder
100ml red wine
Bouquet garni
4 large waxy potatoes
500g shortcrust pastry (plain or savoury, not sweet!)
1 egg, beaten


1.       In a small saucepan put your cubed beef. Pour in just enough cold water to cover the beef, and place over a high heat. It will quickly come to the boil, and see that foam that rises? That’s excess fat, we’re not going to need that. Now that’s sorted, drain your beef, and run it under a cold tap just to cool it off again. Leave aside to rest.

2.       Take the biggest pot you have. It needs to hold the entire stew so you need a big pot here. Drizzle a little oil onto the bottom, enough to coat it, and place over a high heat. Add your onions, carrots, and celery and let them sizzle for 2-3 minutes, stirring them around.

3.       Next add your beef, water, Bisto, red wine and bouquet garni and bring to the boil, stirring constantly. Once it has started to boil reduce to a low heat and cover. Leave to simmer for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

4.       At this point peel your potatoes and cut them into very large chunks. Think 2cm thick slices. Pop them into the pot, cover, and leave for another 45 mins to an hour, or until you can knock the beef and potatoes apart with a wooden spoon. You should preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 about now too.

5.       Now, the dish can actually be eaten at this point as a perfectly lovely stew, just so you know!

6.        Roll half your shortcrust pastry out to a thickness of just under 1cm, and line the base of a large, deep, buttered overproof dish.

7.       Spoon in your stewed steak and vegetables (remember to remove the bouquet garni!) and a little of the gravy (about half should do it). Keep the rest of the gravy covered and aside for now.

8.       Roll out the rest of your pastry, and cover the pie with it. Remember to press down on the edges to get a really good seal on your pie. Glaze the top of the pastry with the beaten egg, and slash a few vents with a sharp knife to allow steam to escape.

9.       Pop the pie in the lower part of the oven and bake for 35-40 mins, or until the top is golden and crispy. You might want to place a baking tray underneath it to stop any juices that escape from becoming a smoky, charred mess on the bottom of your oven.

10.   Once the pie is baked remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool slightly whilst you re-heat the leftover gravy. Serve in thick slices, with a generous splash of the extra gravy.

*This is a great use also for leftover roast beef, though be sure to adjust the cooking times accordingly.

**Although there’s already potatoes in the dish, if you wanted to stretch it that little bit further, you could serve smaller portions with mashed potatoes and lashings of gravy.

*** As pie this doesn’t really keep, it’s always best fresh, but as stew it’s actually at it best after 2 days of sitting in the fridge. I don’t know why, it just is how it is


This is the very basics of baking, the stuff that looks great, tastes amazing and is so simple that kids can do it with you and have loads of fun. Think of it as the next step on from Rice Krispie buns. Presuming that like me you’re using shop bought puff pastry that is. If you decide to do it from scratch well, it’s a bit more like advanced mathematics!
I’ve included 3 different types of filling here, but there’s loads more out there to try.

Do remember though, if you have small helpers especially, that jam comes out of the oven at boiling temperatures, and that it sticks to skin like glue. You do not want a jam burn.


500g puff pastry
1 egg, beaten
Golden caster sugar, to sprinkle
Drop of milk

(For the apple filling)
3 cooking apples
50-100g golden caster sugar (depending on how sweet you like them)
Splash of orange juice
Pinch of mixed spice

(For the jam filling)
Jar of jam of your choice

(For the mixed berry filling)
Whatever berries are in season, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries etc
50g golden caster sugar


1.       Peel, core and roughly chop your apples/or wash and prepare your berries/ or open your jar of jam.

2.       Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 5.

3.       Place your apples in a saucepan and sprinkle them over with the sugar, add the orange juice and simmer until mushy and soft with a few lumps left here and there/ or simmer your berries and sugar until the berries are just losing their shape.

4.       Take your fruit filling off the heat and set aside to cool.

5.       Lightly flour a clean work surface and rolling pin. Roll out your puff pastry until just under 1cm think, then cut it into squares about 4-5cm in size.

6.       Take a pastry square, and put a teaspoon of your filling (apple, berry or jam) into the centre of the square. Dip your finger in the milk, then run it along two adjoining edges of your pastry.

7.       Fold your pastry over so that it makes a triangle shape, with the filling in the middle. Press the edges sealed with a fork. Repeat until you run out of pastry squares.

8.       Place your turnovers on a baking sheet covered in baking paper. Use a pastry brush to glaze them with the egg, them generously sprinkle with more golden caster sugar to coat.

9.       Pop them into the oven for 15 minutes, or until golden and crispy, and puffed up.

*I find that if I’m making a fruit filling for a pie or tart and I have some leftover it’s just as good as the filling for turnovers. Pop it in a small bowl in the fridge and one it’s covered it should keep there for 3-4 days, giving you loads of time to make them at your leisure.

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

This was born out of the need to use of the last of a leftover roast chicken, and half a butternut squash that we had floating around. I know there’s loads of recipes floating around for Jamaican jerk but Levi Roots Reggae-Reggae sauce is gorgeous, but quite hot. You have been warned!

Serves 2


2 chicken breasts, diced, or the leftover pickings from a roast chicken
1 red onion, chopped
100g garden peas, fresh or frozen
2 carrots, chopped
1 bottle Levi Roots Reggae-Reggae sauce (or another Jamaican jerk sauce)
½ butternut squash, cubed
250g rice


1)      Mix your chicken with two thirds of the sauce in a bowl, cover, and leave to marinade whilst you chop the other veg etc.

2)      Put a frying pan on a high heat, and bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil. Wash your rice but putting it in a fine sieve and running cold water over it until the water runs clear. Leave it aside.

3)      Add a teaspoon of oil (I use rapeseed) to the pan and allow it to heat. Add your onion and carrots to the pan, and let them sweat until softened.

4)      Add your marinated chicken, reduce the heat and cover with a lid. Put your rice on to boil, and your butternut squash in with it.

5)      Keep an eye on your chicken, stirring occasionally, until the meat is cooked through and the sauce is starting to get a little sticky. At this point add the rest of your sauce and the peas.

6)      After your rice and butternut squash has been boiling for about 10 minutes it should be cooked through so remove from the heat and strain the water off. Split the rice/squash mix between two plates.

7)      Once your rice is arranged give your chicken and veg mix one last quick stir and ladle it onto the plates.
8)      Eat!

*This dish is HOT. I know I’m repeating myself but trust me, very spicy. Don’t let it catch you by surprise. If you don’t like spicy food you will not like this dinner. I’d advise a pint of cold milk as the beverage of choice for this one. And maybe a fire extinguisher!

Jamie Oliver’s Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

I have to give Mr. Oliver props for this pastry, I have tried countless other shortcrust recipes, varying the sugar, flour, flavours and I always, always come back to this one. If you try it you’ll see why! I tend to make twice what I actually need, and keep the excess in the freezer for a day that I want pie and can’t be bothered making pastry. This recipe though is for 1 portion, that is, enough to make 1 large pie.

You don’t want to over process shortcrust pastry, it can get doughy and chewy rather than that delicious buttery, crumbly texture we’re after, and for that reason I’ve given the instructions for using a food processor. I find it helps the pastry come together faster, and by removing the heat of your hands from the equation you remove the chances of melting the butter. I sound like a nag now, so I’ll just get on with it...


500g plain flour
100g icing sugar
250g cold butter, cubed
2 large eggs, beaten
Splash of milk
Flavouring of your choice (see below)


1)      Sieve the flour and icing sugar together. Pour into your food processor and add the butter cubes and your chosen flavouring. Pulse until the mixture is crumbly and fine (should only take about 30 seconds).

2)      Pour in the eggs and milk, pulse for a few more seconds until the mixture starts to come together.

3)      Place some clingfilm on your work surface, and scoop out your dough onto it. Pat it into a compact, roundish shape (DON’T KNEAD IT), wrap it in the clingfilm and pop in the fridge to chill for at least half an hour. TA DA! You’re done, and you’ve made fantastic pastry. Go you!

You can use any of the following:-

Lemon zest, orange zest, lime zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, mixed spice, cocoa powder, vanilla seeds

The list is pretty much endless. You will know from what you’re making what flavours are going to complement one another and work from there. Just remember that it’s the pastry you’re flavouring, not the pie, so go easy on it! You don’t want the crust on your gorgeous tart to overpower the filling. Similarly, try not to use a flavouring that is already present in the pie itself eg. Cinnamon flavouring in the pastry, plus cinnamon in an apple filling would be a cinnamon overdose and the flavour of the apples would be lost. Better to use some lemon zest and let it boost the fruitiness of the overall pie.

Apple and blackberry pie

This is a somewhat bastardised version of a Jamie Oliver recipe. I started out following Mr. Oliver’s recipe, only to find I didn’t have all the ingredients listed, didn’t like the idea of whole chunks of fruit in the pie, and I sort of went off on a tangent after that... According to Kezz this pie tastes like a summer garden, and reminds him of mown grass and sunshine, and flowers swaying in the breeze. How very poetic! High praise indeed from the son of a baker! I’ve included Mr. Oliver’s sweet shortcrust pastry here as I’ve made a few different versions and I always come back to this one, it truly is second to none. If you are pushed for time or don’t feel up to making pastry from scratch, fear not! This recipe works just as well with shop bought shortcrust, but I would suggest that sometime you give making it yourself a go. It’s surprisingly easy, and crazy delicious. Seriously, the man’s a genius.

If you’d like to try Jamie Oliver’s non-bastardised version it’s from his “Jamie at Home” cookbook, on page 348, and includes stem ginger (which I must try myself as I love all things gingery!).


1 sweet shortcrust pastry recipe (I use the lemon zest flavouring for this pie)
50g butter
100g golden caster sugar (plus extra for sprinkling)
4 cooking apples
4 eating apples
250g blackberries
1 egg
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon OR mixed spice


1)      Make your pastry dough. Once made wrap your pastry in clingfilm and leave it to rest in the fridge for at least half an hour. Shop bought pastry simply needs to be thawed (this takes 12 hours in the fridge, or about 3 hours at room temperature).

2)      Peel, core and roughly chop your apples. Preheat your oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.

3)      In a saucepan large enough to hold all your apples, place your sugar and butter. Melt over a high heat, and once your butter has melted, reduce to medium heat and add your apples and enough water to come about a third of the way up the apples. Slowly cook for 10-15 minutes with a lid on, then add your blackberries and cook for another 5 minutes with the lid off. (A word of warning here, if you think your wooden spoons are precious, use a metal spoon at this point. My wooden spoons are a permanent shade of violent purple from this pie). Remove from the heat once cooked.

4)      While your pie filling is cooling get your pastry. Dust your work surface with flour and roll out half the pastry until it’s just under 1cm thick. Line a shallow, buttered pie dish with the pastry, and trim off any excess (a simple way to do this is to roll across the dish with your rolling pin).

5)      Spoon your pie filling into the dish, filling it up as much as you can without actually having it brimming. Roll out the rest of your pastry as you did the first half, and place it over the top of your pie. Trim the edges again, and push the two pastry layers together with your fingers.

6)      Beat your egg in a small bowl and brush over the top of the pie. Mix your leftover sugar and cinnamon or mixed spice together, and sprinkle over the top of the pie. Make a few steam vents in the pastry with a sharp knife.

7)      Pop into the lower part of the oven and bake for 45-60 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. You may want to place a baking tray underneath it to save your oven from any sticky fruity splashes.

8)      Eat, and enjoy! Delicious hot with cream, custard or ice-cream, or can be wrapped in some greaseproof paper and tucked into a lunchbox to be enjoyed cold.

*I often have some leftover pie filling, and I tend to put it in a small bowl and keep it in the fridge. It’s gorgeous the next day with pancakes or French toast at breakfast (just quickly warm it through before using), mixed through natural yogurt it can be enjoyed at anytime as a quick snack, or it can be swirled through whipped cream to make a delicious fool. Great for getting fruit into kids!

**This pie keeps for 2-3 days at most, though I’d be surprised if anyone can actually make it last that long!

Apple Crumble

Apple crumble has always been one of my favourite comfort foods, and if you have ever had the real homemade deal you’ll know why. Crumbles and tarts are a great way to use up the inevitable autumn abundance, and since it can be prepared so quickly it’s a great dish to have up your sleeve to welcome guests with on a rainy afternoon. It’s too good to be kept just for visitors though, and makes a great fruity family treat anytime during the week!


750g cooking apples
Golden caster sugar
85g butter, cubed
175g plain flour, sifted
Pinch of cinnamon (optional)


1)      Preheat your oven to 200C/400F/Gas Mark 6.
2)      Peel, core and slice the apples. Layer them in an ovenproof dish with 150-225g sugar, depending on how sweet a tooth you have!
3)      Pour over the water. You want it to come about two-thirds of the way up the apple layers.
4)      Rub the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs (I find it fastest in a food processor); stir in 50g sugar, and the cinnamon if you’re using it.
5)      Sprinkle the mixture on top of the fruit. Bake for 30-40 minutes.
6)      Serve with custard, cream or ice-cream.

*For a more grown-up dessert, you can whisk some icing sugar and brandy through your cream before serving it with the crumble.

**This method works pretty well with most fruits, and can be varied to suit whatever is in season. Just remember that sweet juicy berries like strawberries need less water(about half the amount), and less sugar, than cooking apples do.