I do love the expression ‘fart-arsing around’. When it came to making and decorating these dark chocolate orange and pistachio biscuits I wasn’t going to be fart-arsing around with any of it. An all in one biscuit dough means it’s easy to mix and haphazard throwing around of melted chocolate makes the decoration a breeze. No dunking of biscuits in chocolate for the perfect edge, no placing of individual caramelised pistachios with tweezers and you know what? I think they taste all the better for it.
The thing I like most about these vegetable Singapore noodles is that you can throw in whatever you have left in the fridge at the end of the week. Add a few simple store cupboard staples and voila, dinner in 15 minutes. I have been perfecting this recipe for a little while now to get a good balance of sweet, salt and spice and by Jove I think I’ve cracked it. No more takeaways needed! You really can play around with this recipe too; try using different noodles or rice, different vegetables and nuts.
I bought some smoked chicken from a local farm shop. I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do with it but it sounded too tasty not to try it. I planned to serve it with some cheese and chutneys but somehow I never got round to it. I certainly wasn’t going to waste it and I thought, rather than serving it alongside something else, why not make it the star of the dish? Smoked chicken fried rice sounded like just the thing for a simple, no hassle budget meal in a flash. Turns out it’s even better than it sounds.
I live in a village and on first appearances it has all the qualities of somewhere straight out of Call The Midwife. Actually living there is quite different; people don’t know each others names, good luck trying to get them to take your bins in for you and there’s so much material competition it’s like a car forecourt out there. Of course there are exceptions; one of which is the white house on the corner. They have a Bramley apple tree and although (this year especially) they don’t get many apples from it they always put a box of windfalls outside their gate for people to take. I helped myself to one of their apples and set about making some Bramley apple and nut flapjacks.
There are an awful lot of new ‘healthy’ or ‘superfoods’ around at the moment and they are everywhere you look. Avocados, coconut oil, seeds and berries, cacao nibs; the list goes on. Now, I’ll try anything once and I have had a flirtation with all of the aforementioned foods but what happens when the Vogue moment is over, everyone’s moved on to something new and you’re left with a cupboard of half opened ingredients. Well if you’re me and throwing it away is not an option (although the compost bin might actually be the best place for the cacao nibs) you get creative. Welcome to my Three Ingredient Date and Coconut Bites; ready in a flash, use up some ingredients and made with all the good stuff.
When something just works it’s the best. It could be a combination of flavours you tried by accident or using something perfectly for a different purpose than it was designed for. I made this Coconut, Sesame and Chocolate Shortbread for both of the aforementioned reasons. Recently I was enjoying my chocolate dessert when another coconut and sesame pudding was on the table, and as I like to try everything, I took a scoop of the coconut and sesame and gobbled it down. The flavours were so good together I thought it was well worth a try recreating it at home. Also, I always make shortbread in a cake ‘tin’ rather than on a tray. I have a silicone mould for cakes which I once used for shortbread when I couldn’t find anything else and it works perfectly every time.
I’m not sure quite what’s happened but all of a sudden I find myself spending over £50 a week on food shopping. I know, it’s not a shocking amount and it’s certainly less than I know other people spend but it’s twice as much as I used to spend. I didn’t really notice it creeping up over time and I haven’t really changed what I eat (less meat if anything) but it irritates me nonetheless. There’s only so many beans and lentils one person can eat in a week so thrifty meals are essential to give plenty of variation. My sticky chilli pork is quick, tasty and feeds four people for less than £6.
- 2 Gressingham duck breasts
- 1 pack of Gressingham Duck Mini Fillets
- Oil for frying
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
- Whole lettuce leaves
- Spring onions
- Sesame seeds
- Chilli sauce(s)
- Soy sauce
- Hoisin sauce
- Plum sauce
- First of all, get the table laid and ready then as you get things prepped you can get them straight to the table.
I am a fan of beetroot; I’ve tried many different recipes with them in the past but sometimes when the vegetable box keeps bringing me beetroot I am stuck for what to do. I have made chocolate and beetroot cake in the past and I fancied trying something sweet with my latest accumulation, hence, Beetroot and Poppy Seed Cupcakes. Something a little different and somewhat stripy for the lunchbox.
You will need (for 12 cupcakes):
- 200g self raising flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 150g caster sugar
- 2 eggs
- 150ml sunflower oil
- 200g raw beetroot, peeled and grated
- 2 tbsp poppy seeds
- 25g softened butter
- 200g full fat cream cheese
- 300g icing sugar
- 1 tbsp poppy seeds
Preheat the oven to 180C. Squeeze as much water out of the grated beetroot as you can (your hands will turn a fabulous pink colour).
I can find it hard to know what to give people for gifts. When I’m not sure I normally cook or make something for them instead; it’s personal and I quite enjoy doing it. This is the other recipe that I developed for Kenwood (see crumble here) and I think they look a bit like Brussels sprouts if you stand far enough away (and squint). My recipe for Cranberry and Pistachio Chocolate Truffles is really simple and I find I usually have these ingredients in the cupboard at this time of year.