Friday, October 26, 2007


These are a bit lighter and fluffier than regular pancakes by using a much lower flour to liquid ratio and the added oil helps prevent them sticking reducing the need to grease the pan between pancakes.
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 300ml milk
  • 1tbsp oil
Beat everything together(incl the oil). Makes about 8 pancakes.

The classic failed first pancake problem can be solved by heating the pan properly prior to beginning to cook. Another common problem when cooking pancakes is having too much oil in the pan. The pancake is not supposed to fry in oil, it is supposed to cook with a mainly dry heat. I find it best to either brush the pan with oil when cooking or at the very least pour off any excess oil (though this can be messy). In general don't try to move the pancake until you are sure the side in contact with the pan has cooked as it will not stick when cooked, this is how pancakes get broken. If keeping pancakes warm for later put a bit of greaseproof paper between them to ensure they don't stick.

You can have pretty much anything you want on your pancakes. I particularly like nutella, toffee sauce, bananas, peaches and yoghurt. As regards savoury pancakes I'm not too keen but cheese and mushroom can be very good.

Oaty Apple Crumble

Serves ~6
  • 1.5kg eating apples
  • 4tbsp sugar or jam(give sweetness with flavour)
  • Juice of one orange or about half a glass of orange juice
  • zest of said orange if using
  • 280g oats
  • 200g plain flour
  • 4 tsp cinnamon
  • 200g butter
  • 200g light muscovado sugar
Peel, core and slice up the apple and put them into a buttered oven dish (I like to use a large pyrex bowl so I can see the apples cooking)with the sweetener and juice, mix it all together. Mix the dry ingredients together and add the butter in pieces and rub in. Stir in the sugar. Sprinkle the mix over the apples and bake at 180 degrees for 35-40mins. Great with ice cream or loads of custard (if making Bird's custard add a bit of vanilla for extra flavour).

I love using different kinds of jam to vary the taste. You can also add berries of different kinds berries and fruit. Black currants in particular work well. Personally I like a thick layer of flapjack topping but to each their own.

Apple Pancakes

These are American style pancakes (though Scotch muffins are also a thick kind of pancake) with grated apple in them to make them more moist and tasty.

Serves about 4 though if you make extra they are fantastic cold.
  • 230g self-raising flour
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 180ml buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 180ml milk
  • About 4 peeled and grated apples
  • 1tsp vanilla extract or cinnamon (whichever you prefer or according to the season)
Beat everything except the apples together until smooth then stir in the apples. Heat a large pan and brush with a bit of oil. I think this be a good time to say I love tefal and they are sooooo worth the money. I make ones about 15 cm in diameter or 2 spoonfuls but you can make bigger ones.
Great with toffee sauce and yoghurt.

Toffee Sauce

  • 50g butter
  • 50g soft brown sugar
  • 2tbsp golden syrup
  • 2tbsp creme fraiche
  • 1tsp vanilla essence
Put everything except the cream into a pan and bring to a gentle boil. Boil for a couple of mins until thick and then stir in the cream.

This is quite a flexible recipe. The cream can be replaced by creme fraiche, yoghurt or similar and the the golden syrup can be replace with any syrup or honey though this does effect the flavour. The vanilla essence is not essential but makes a huge difference though you could try replacing or supplementing it with orange essence. I would not condone replacing the butter with margarine but that's mainly because I hate margarine and find butter gives a much better flavour. Of course you could replace the vanilla with spices.

Soft fruits such as peaches (from a tin or fresh), apricots etc. can be added and softened in the toffee. If you do this I suggest you serve it with pancakes and yoghurt (to cut through the sweetness).

The sauces is great with pancakes, ice cream, waffles and similar. I originally saw it in BBC Good Food magazine but I don't know where the recipe cutting is gone and they don't have it on their site. The above is what I've been using (equal amounts of butter and sugar and the same volume of syrup and diary) I do not remember what it should be but this works really well for me.


Makes ridiculously large amounts.
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 onions
  • 5 sticks of celery
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 potatoes, finely diced
  • 2-3 litres of vegetable stock(enough to cover the veg)
  • Can of chopped tomatoes
  • Can of cannellini/butter beans
  • 150g spaghetti broken into short lengths or just some small shapes
  • A couple of handful of shredded Savoy cabbage
Process the carrot, celery, and onion into small pieces (so much easier than chopping them yourself though this is of course perfectly fine). Fry gently in a huge saucepan with the garlic and potatoes for about 5 mins until softened. Stir in the  stock, tomatoes, and some herbs, I like parsley and oregano. Bring to the boil then cover and simmer for about 10 mins. Add the beans and pasta and cook for another 10mins. Finally add the cabbage for the final 2 or so. Season and serve.

This is one of those recipes that can be modified virtually endlessly depending on what you have lying around.

White Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse

Makes 4 regular glasses worth.
  • 150g white chocolate
  • 142ml cream, softly whipped
  • A bit of vanilla essence
  • 4 eggs
  • 250g frozen raspberries, thawed(or indeed fresh but I'm being realistic)
Melt the chocolate in a bowl over, but not touching some simmering water. Cool slightly then mix in the whipped cream, egg yolks(beware of curdling) and vanilla. Whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks. Stir a couple of spoonfuls into the mix to lighten it then fold in the rest. Fold in the raspberries. Put into containers and chill for at least 2 hrs.

Of course any berries can be used but raspberries go particularly well with white chocolate. Milk chocolate and crushed strawberries work wonderfully too.

Sweet Potato and Pepper Soup

Serves 4 but as I said before I have a problem with soup quantities.
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • About 750ml vegetable stock
  • 175g frozen corn(or indeed tinned)
  • Good handful of frozen mixed peppers(or whatever colours you have)
  • Chilli oil(or other source of chilli flavour)
  • 2 spring onions sliced
  • 4 tbsp creme fraiche
Sweat the onion and potato for about 5 mins. Add flour and cook for a min or so. Add stock, bring to the boil, cover and simmer for about 20-25mins until tender. Blend until smooth. Return to the pan and add the sweetcorn, peppers, spring onions and chilli oil (according to taste). Simmer for 5-10mins until everything is cooked to your liking. Season and serve.

I like very mild foods so I tend to serve this with the chilli oil on the table for people to add more if they want a bigger kick.

Sweet Potato and Butternut Squash soup

Serves about 4-5 depending. I seem to have strange luck with soup whereby no matter how little I put in ridiculously large amounts come out.
When blending soup put a spoon in the blender when you're pouring it in so it takes some of the heat. Take it out before blending obviously(though I often forget and it hasn't broken the blender yet!)
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • about 300g of peeled and diced sweet potatoes
  • A butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 2 heaped tsp of paprika
  • Chilli oil (or a red chilli finely chopper or dried chilli flakes)
  • 700ml vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 2 tbsp grated parmesan
  • a few big spoonfuls of creme fraiche
Fry the garlic, butternut, and potato with the lod on for about 10mins in a large saucepan. Add the paprika and some chilli oil(you can always add more to taste later)cook for another minute. Add stock, bring to boil, cover and simmer for about 20-30mins until tender. Cool a bit, add parmesan and mustard and blend until smooth. Add the creme fraiche and reheat. Season and serve.

This, like most soups freezer well but remember to freeze before adding the dairy.

Really good mashed potatoes

This make enough potato for 4-5 people
  • half kilo potaoes(my favourite are roosters)
  • 600ml stock, preferably one that goes with whatever it is you're having with this)
  • Huge lump of butter
Peel and slice the potatoes quite thinly. Put them in a deepish(i.e. one that will fit them) frying pan and add the butter and stock. Simmer until reduced and crumbling apart. If you need to top up part way through with some more water. Mash any potatoes that haven't already fallen apart, season and serve.

Vanilla Waffles

My favourite waffle recipe so far (I tend to google something, read about 10 recipes and then make it up). With them I recommend any of the following:fruit, icecream, yoghurt, maple syrup, golden syrup, honey or nutella. Or indeed whatever the hell you want.
This recipe makes ~8 on my waffle iron. I personally struggle to eat 2.
  • 300g plain flour (I tend to use cream flour for everything)
  • 150g ground almonds (can be made fresh in a food mill)
  • 100g caster sugar
  • A good squeeze of honey
  • 100g butter melted
  • 4 eggs
  • 450ml milk
  • 3 tsp vanilla essence
Basically put everything in a bowl and beat until smooth. Cooking takes about 3-5 mins depeding on heat of iron and how cooked you like them but that's a rough estimate. Don't open too soon to check coz it'll ruin the waffle.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Dainties from Paula

I got this recipe from one of my parent's friends. Really lovely lady whose house my mother was in when she went into labour with me. My dad at the time was drinking ouzo with her husdand. When my mother went into labour, he drank a litre of espresso strength coffee to sober up.

These look great in little bun cases esp the little gold ones.

This isn't in metric. Tough. It's also in the same format as on my old, now yellow piece of paper where it's written in young Jean's handwriting(actually neater than older Jean's handwriting).
  • 2oz butter
  • 1 cup caster sugar
  • half cup cocoa
  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 cups dessicated coconut
  • 1 and a half cups oats
Melt the butter, add the sugar and milk and bring to the boil. Boil for 10 mins approximately. Add the dry ingredients and stir until the mixture is stiff. Form small balls and drop onto greaseproof paper. Leave to set for about 2 hours.
Don't boil for too long when you put the oats in.

Chocolate Muffins

I've tried loads of different chocolate muffin recipies and these are the only ones that are chocolatey enough. I use chopped up cooking chocolate, you could for convenience use chocolate chips but I think they taste like crap(cooking chocolate isn't great but it doesn't burn like normal chocolate). You could use normal chocolate but like I said it burns. i.e. it goes hard and crumbly. This doesnt' have a massive effect so don't stress about it. I came across this recipe when I was really young in the Sunday Times (and still have the cutting somewhere) and it was probably the first thing I ever cooked. It has evolved a bit since then. If I knew who originally wrote it I would send them a massive thank you email but since I cut it out when I was tiny I don't remember.
  • 110g butter
  • 220g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 180g plain flour
  • 1tbsp baking powder
  • 80g cocoa; 
  • 180ml milk
  • 100g cooking chocolate

Beat the butter ans sugar together. Now I've found that if you over beat they tend to collapse, so either do this by hand wiht a wooden spoon or be very, very careful. Beat in the eggs, then bit by bit the milk and dry ingredients, last of all the chocolate.
If you use buncases then you'll make about 24, if you use muffin cases you'll make about 12.
Bake them for 15 minutes or so until they are spongy when poked at 170 degrees Celsius.

They're best slightly warm with milk.

Butternut Squash and Tomato Soup

This freezes really well (before adding the creme fraiche). If it's too thick after blending just water it down with some stock or water, or even milk. But I find that if you're freezing it, it's better to freeze a really thick concentrated soup.

This is probably my favourite soup of all time (and involves 2 of my favourite ingredients). You can spice it up with a bit of chilli oil but I like it plain.

Just fry 2(or so) onions(I use white but I guess red'd be fine) until they're soft in some olive oil. Throw in 2 tins of chopped tomatoes, and a peeled and diced butternut squash, along with about 500ml vegetable stock (enough go a bit over the veg as you can always add more later). Herb wise I use my usual combination of oregano parsley, sage rosemary, thyme and basil in varying propartions according to what I'm cooking. To be honest that's derived from Schwartz Italian Herb mix but with my own proportions. the easiest way to gauge it is to smell the food as you season (taste after a bit). Oh, I also throw in a bay leaf. Simmer until the squash is soft. Leave it to cool slightly then blend until smooth(remember to take out the bay leaf before you blend!), reheat and stir in some creme fraiche.

Fantasic with homemade pumpkin seed bread.

Sunday, July 8, 2007


Actually the previous post puts me in mind of something I think is very important. Every meal should be an experience in itself. The environment you eat in has a massive effect. I love the house we're currently living in because it has a dining table. I always insist that when possible we all eat together and the table is great for that. Darren seems quite taken with this and has taken to filling a jug with water, ice and lemon slices. He too is a fan of setting the table. Now don't get me wrong I don't like anyting fancy, some salad, bread, water, milk, salt and pepper.

Though in truth what makes a meal is the company, you don't necessarily need to all be eating the same thing, but eating with others is just more enjoyable. During the year my flatmates and I ate together nearly everynight, even if someone wasn't eating sometimes they sat with us. We'd usually end up staying at the table for about half an hour after all the food was gone just talking and maybe sipping water. That was probably one of my favourite parts of the day.

TV dinners are not ideal but sometimes can be fun. You can have great meals in front of a television which can actually serve to further stimulate conversation. Bowls of cereal eaten in the morning with Laura while watching Dr.Phill were great!

The key is to savour, enjoy, talk and laugh and never, ever eat to live, always live to eat.

Single Pasta(bit less sad that Lonely Pasta)

The following is one of my favourite recipes at the moment. I don't often cook the same thing over and over, I'm too fickle for that. But I've made this many times and I love it. I see it as a single student's dish and find eating it by myself strangely satisfying. It's quick, easy and cheap.

I don't like those names of dishes that just basically list all the ingredients but unfortunately that seem to be the least confusing way of naming anyting I cook for this blog. Or I could just dispence with the whole naming thing... too much thinking. I'll just call this Single Pasta.

Anyway it's just however much pasta you see yourself eating cooked then mixed with a good dolop of green pesto and creme fraiche. To this you add some bacon and mushrooms you've chopped up and fryed together, not too gently you don't want soggy mushrooms. Mix it all together and eat.

I've also had it with spinach tortellini.

So there you have it, my first recipe post. Feels weird...

A beginning to everything

I'm very new to this sort of thing so you'll have to be patient with me. I'm setting this up to catalogue and possibly share what I learn as I cook. I'm not a masterchef by any stretch of the imagination but I am an enthusiastic amateur who tries to make up for her ignorance by means of a willingness to learn and adapt.

One of the most common problems in cooking is the need for a well defined recipe even when in truth the dish is quite freeform. I'll try to provide quantities where possible but you'll have to tolerate the odd handfull and dolop. When I first stared cooking I had trouble recreating the dishes my parents cooked because of how ill-defined the recipes were but over time, as my skills developed, I began to be able to recreate a dish, with my own twist of course, after watching someone cook it.

I don't think I'll ever manage to replicate is my mother's pasta sauce. Everytime I make it it's different but resigned myself to the fact that the only person who can cook my mum's pasta sauce is my mum.

I suppose the point of the above is that you don't necessarily have to replicate a dish accurately for it to be a success. I rarely follow a recipe exactly. If you're new to cooking I recommend following a recipe as closely as possible the first time then adapt it when you cook it again. As time goes on you'll become more confident and develop your own style adapting recies as you go and creating your own.

Anyway even if you fuck up no one need know...