Friday, September 4, 2009

Macaroni Cheese

Photograph by Lis Parson
Serving Size : Serves 4


250g macaroni
250g mature Cheddar or red Leicester or a mixture of both
250ml evaporated milk
2 eggs
grating of fresh nutmeg
salt and pepper


1.Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. Cook the macaroni according to the packet instructions, drain and then put back into the hot pan.

2.While the pasta is cooking, put the cheese, evaporated milk, eggs and nutmeg in a processor and blitz to mix. Or grate the cheese and mix everything by hand.

3.Pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni, stir well, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

4.Tip into a 25.5cm-diameter dish (wide and shallow is best) and bake in the very hot oven for about 10–15 minutes, or until it is bubbling and blistering on top.


Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pasta with ham, cream and peas

Photograph by James Merrell
Serving Size : Serves 2–3 children


200g farfalle or other short pasta
100g frozen petits pois
150ml double cream
150g diced ham
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan


1.Cook the pasta according to packet instructions in plenty of salted boiling water, and then after 5 minutes add the peas to the pasta water.

2.When the pasta is cooked, drain with the peas. Put the dry pan back on the heat with the cream, ham and Parmesan and warm it through. Add the pasta and peas back to the pan, tossing everything together well.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

London Cheesecake

Photograph by Petrina Tinslay
Serving Size : Serves 8
For the base:
150g digestive biscuits
75g unsalted butter, melted or very soft
600g cream cheese
150g caster sugar
3 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
11/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
11/2 tablespoons lemon juice
20cm Springform tin
extra-strength tin foil
For the topping:
145ml tub sour cream
1 tablespoon caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1.Process the biscuits until they are like crumbs, then add the butter and pulse again. Line the bottom of the Springform tin, pressing the biscuits in with your hands or the back of a spoon. Put the tin in the fridge to set, and preheat the oven to 180ºC/gas mark 4.
2.Beat the cream cheese gently until it's smooth, then add the sugar. Beat in the eggs and egg yolks, then finally the vanilla and lemon juice. Put the kettle on.
3.Line the outside of the chilled tin with strong foil so that it covers the bottom and sides in one large piece, and then do the same again and put it into a roasting dish. This will protect the cheesecake from the water as it is cooked in its water bath.
4.Pour the cream-cheese filling into the chilled biscuit base, and then pour hot water from the recently boiled kettle into the roasting tin around the cheesecake. It should come about halfway up; don't overfill as it will be difficult to lift up the tin. Put it into the oven and cook for 50 minutes. It should feel set, but not rigidly so: you just need to feel confident that when you pour the sour cream over, it will sit on the surface and not sink in. Whisk together the sour cream, sugar and vanilla for the topping and pour over the cheesecake. Put it back in the oven for a further 10 minutes.
5.Take the roasting tin out of the oven, then gingerly remove the Springform, unwrap it and stand it on a rack to cool. When it's cooled down completely, put it in the fridge, removing it 20 minutes before eating to take the chill off. Unmould and when you cut into it, plunge a knife in hot water first.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Cheddar Cheese Risotto

Photograph by Lis Parsons


1 x 15ml tablespoon butter
1 x 15ml tablespoon oil
2 baby leeks (or fat spring onions), finely sliced
300g risotto rice
125ml white wine
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 litre hot vegetable stock
125g Cheddar, chopped
2 x 15ml tablespoons chopped fresh chives
Serving Size : Serves 2 as a main course; 4 as a starter


1. Melt the butter and oil in a medium-sized pan and cook the sliced baby leeks until they have softened.

2. Add the risotto rice and keep stirring for a minute or so, then turn up the heat and add the wine and mustard, stirring until the wine is absorbed.

3. Start ladling in the hot stock, letting each ladleful become absorbed as you stir, before adding the next one.

4. Stir and ladle until the rice is al dente, about 18 minutes, then add the cheese, stirring it into the rice until it melts.

5. Take the pan straight off the heat, still stirring as you do so, and spoon the risotto into warmed dishes, sprinkling with some of the chopped chives.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

Caramel Croissant Pudding

Photograph by Lis Parsons

If you have any stale croissants in your kitchen, you are in for a treat. Deeply luscious and easy to make, this is an all-too manageable indulgence. - Nigella


2 stale croissants
100g caster sugar
2 x 15ml tablespoons water
125ml double cream
125ml full-fat milk
2 x 15ml tablespoons bourbon
2 eggs, beaten
Serving Size : Serves 2 greedy people


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
2. Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish; I use a cast iron oval one with a capacity of about 500ml for this.
3. Put the caster sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over a medium to high heat.
4. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away, without stirring, until it all turns a deep amber colour; this will take 3–5 minutes. Keep looking but don't be too timid.
5. Turn heat down to low and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – and, whisking away, the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over low heat. Take off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs.
6. Pour the caramel bourbon custard over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes if the croissants are very stale.
7. Place in the oven for 20 minutes and prepare to swoon.

If you don't have any bourbon in the house, first may I say, please consider it, and second, replace it, rather, with rum; Scotch whisky may seem the obvious substitute but it would be the wrong one I feel.- Nigella

Monday, March 30, 2009

My Mother-in-Law's Madeira Cake

I love a good old-fashioned seed cake; if you do too, add a couple of teaspoons of caraway to this mixture. For a lemon poppyseed cake, add the juice of another half lemon and a tablespoon or two of poppyseeds. And I once came across an expensive but tempting curiosity: dried strawberries, tiny things harvested by that clever Terence Conran. I upped the liquid to the juice of 2 lemons and folded in 100g of the strawberries. It was a wholly successful experiment. - Nigella


240g softened unsalted butter
200g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
3 large eggs
210g self-raising flour
90g plain flour
23 x 13 x 7cm loaf tin, buttered and lined
Serving Size : Makes 8–10 slices.


1.Preheat the oven to 170ºC/gas mark 3.

2.Cream the butter and sugar, and add the lemon zest. Add the eggs one at a time with a tablespoon of the flour for each. Then gently mix in the rest of the flour and, finally,   the lemon juice. Sprinkle with caster sugar (about 2 tablespoons should do it) as it goes into the oven, and bake for 1 hour or until a cake-tester comes out clean. Remove to a wire rack, and let cool in the tin before turning out.


Friday, March 27, 2009

Chocolate Cloud Cake

Cook Time: 40 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8 servings


9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
6 eggs, 2 whole, 4 separated
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur, optional (recommended: Cointreau)
1 orange, zested


For the cream topping:

2 cups heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon orange-flavored liqueur, optional (recommended: Cointreau)
1/2 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder, for sprinkling

Special equipment: 9-inch springform pan

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line the bottom of the cake pan with baking parchment.

Melt the chocolate either in a double boiler or a microwave, add the butter and let melt in the warm chocolate.

Beat the 2 whole eggs and 4 egg yolks with 1/3 cup of the sugar, then gently add the chocolate mixture, the orange-flavored liqueur and the orange zest.

In another bowl, whisk the 4 egg whites until foamy, then gradually add the remaining sugar and whisk until the whites hold their shape but are not too stiff. Lighten the chocolate mixture with a dollop of egg whites, and then fold in the rest of the whites. Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until the cake is risen and cracked and the center is no long wobbly. Cool the cake in its pan on a wire rack; the middle will sink as it cools.

When you are ready to eat, place the still pan-bound cake on a cake stand or plate for serving and carefully remove the sides of the pan from the cake. Don't worry about cracks or rough edges, it's the crater look we're going for here. Whip the cream until it's soft and then add the vanilla and orange-flavored liqueur and continue whisking until the cream is firm but not stiff. Fill the crater of the cake with the whipped cream, easing it out gently towards the edges of the cake, and dust the top lightly with cocoa powder pushed through a tea-strainer.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Rapid Ragu

Photograph by Lis Parsons


2 x 15ml tablespoons garlic oil
125g cubed pancetta
500g lamb mince
75g caramelized onions
80ml Marsala
1 x 400g can chopped tomatoes
75g green lentils
125ml water
50g grated red Leicester or Cheddar (optional)
Serving Size : Serves 4


1. Heat the oil in a wide, medium-sized saucepan, and fry the cubed pancetta until beginning to crisp.

2. Add the lamb, breaking it up with a fork in the bacony pan as it browns.

3. Tip in the caramelized onions, Marsala, tomatoes, lentils and water and bring the pan to the boil.

4. Simmer the ragù for 20 minutes stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with the cheese (if using) before serving.


Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Photograph by Lis Parsons

I am of the mind that it is perfectly all right to make this with canned pineapple rings. I feel it is slightly bad sport to start peeling and slicing your own pineapple. Anyway, canned pineapple is just fine, though I advise going for the one in its own juice rather than in syrup, and I add some of the juice to the sponge, too. This seems to make it light and fluffy. I have found that the best way of keeping this swift, is by baking it in my copper tarte Tatin tin; if you are using a regular cake tin, be prepared to add a few minutes on to the cooking time. - Nigella


butter for greasing
2 x 15ml tablespoons sugar
6 slices pineapple from a 425g can, plus 3 x 15ml tablespoons of the juice
11 glacé cherries, approx. 75g total weight
100g flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
100g soft butter
100g caster sugar
2 eggs
Serving Size : Serves 8


1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6. Butter a tarte Tatin tin (24cm wide at the top and 20cm diameter at the bottom) or use a 23cm cake tin (neither loose-bottomed nor        springform).

2. Sprinkle the 2 tablespoons of sugar on top of the buttered base, and then arrange the pineapple slices to make a circular pattern as in the picture.

3. Fill each pineapple ring with a glacé cherry, and then dot one in each of the spaces in between.

4. Put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, butter, caster sugar and eggs into a food processor and run the motor until the batter is smooth. Then pour in the 3               tablespoons of pineapple juice to thin it a little.

5. Pour this mixture carefully over the cherry-studded pineapple rings; it will only just cover it, so spread it out gently.

6. Bake for 30 minutes, then ease a spatula around the edge of the tin, place a plate on top and, with one deft – ha! – move, turn it upside-down.


Sunday, March 15, 2009

Italian Sausages with Lentils

Cook Time: 1 hr
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 serving


3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil (not extra-virgin), divided
1 onion, finely chopped
Sprinkling salt
About 2 3/4 cups (about 18 ounces) dried Puy lentils
1 fat clove garlic, squished with the flat side of a knife, and skin removed
8 Italian sausage links
1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon red wine
1/4 cup water
Flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped, for garnish


For the lentils:

Put 2 to 3 tablespoons of the oil into a good-sized saucepan (and one that has a lid that fits) on the heat and when it's warm, add the chopped onion. Sprinkle with salt (which helps prevent its browning) and cook over low to medium heat until soft (about 5 minutes). Add the lentils, stir well and then cover generously with cold water. Bring to the boil, then cover and let simmer gently for 1/2 an hour or so until cooked and most, if not all, the liquid's absorbed. I don't add salt at this stage since the sauce provided by the sausages later (and which will be poured over the lentils) will be pretty salty itself. So, wait and taste. And remember, you can of course cook the lentils in advance.

Anyway, when either the lentils are nearly ready or you're about to reheat them, put a heavy-based frying pan on the burner, cover with a film of oil and add the bruised garlic. Cook for a few minutes then add and brown the sausages. When the sausages are brown on both sides - which won't take more than 5 minutes or so - throw in the wine and water and let bubble up. Cover the pan, either with a lid or aluminum foil, and cook for about 15 minutes. Using a fork, mash the now-soft garlic into the sauce and taste for seasoning, adding a little more water if it's too strong.

Remove the lentils to a shallowish bowl or dish (I evacuate the sausages from their cooking pan, plonk the lentils in, then proceed) then cover with the sausages and their garlicky, winey gravy. Sprinkle over some flat-leaf parsley.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Cherry Cheesecake

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 to 8 servings


1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 stick soft unsalted butter
10 ounces cream cheese
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 (10-ounce) jar black cherry spread (recommended: St Dalfour Rhapsodie de Fruit)


Blitz the biscuits in a food processor until beginning to turn to crumbs, then add the sugar and butter and whiz again to make the mixture clump. If using graham cracker crumbs, you can use a bowl and wooden spoon to mix the butter in, with the sugar added.

Press this mixture into a 8-inch springform tin; press a little up the sides to form a slight ridge.

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and lemon juice in a bowl until smooth.

Lightly whip the cream, and then fold it into the cream cheese mixture.

Spoon the cheesecake filling on top of the biscuit base and smooth with a spatula, put it in the refrigerator for 3 hours or overnight.

When you are ready to serve the cheesecake, un-mold and spread the black cherry spread over the top.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Amaretto Syllabub

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1/3 cup amaretto liqueur
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 cup heavy cream
1 (8-ounce) packet amaretti morbidi (soft almond macaroons)


Pour the amaretto liqueur into a bowl with the sugar and lemon juice and whisk to mix.

Whisk in the heavy cream and whip this mixture until it has thickened but is still soft and billowy.

Crumble 2 little amaretti biscuits into each of the 4 glasses (each with a yield of about 2/3 cup).

Divide the syllabub between the glasses on top of the crumbled biscuits.

Crumble another macaroon or 2, and sprinkle this golden rubble over the top of all the glasses to give a fine sprinkle of crumbs on each. Serve the remaining amaretti alongside the syllabub.


Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cornbread Topped Chili Con Carne

Cook Time: 2 hr
Level: Intermediate
Yield: up to 20 servings



4 tablespoons olive oil
4 onions, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried or crushed chili flakes
2 teaspoons ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
5 cardamom pods, bruised
2 red peppers, seeded and finely diced
3 pounds 4 ounces ground beef
7 cups canned chopped tomatoes
1/2 cup tomato ketchup
1/2 cup tomato puree
1 cup water
2 tablespoons cocoa
3 1/2 cups canned red kidney beans


1 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 cups cornmeal
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
6 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3 cups buttermilk
4 eggs
2 teaspoons honey
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups grated Cheddar
Guacamole, recipe follows

Serving suggestion:

2 cups sour cream
Ground paprika, for dusting
3 3/4 cups grated Cheddar
Special equipment: Very large pan


Heat the oil in a very large pan and fry the onion and garlic until it begins to soften. Add the chili, coriander, cumin, and crushed cardamom pods and stir well.

Add the peppers then break up the ground beef into the pan and, using a fork, keep turning it to separate it as the meat browns. Add the chopped tomatoes, ketchup, tomato puree, and water stirring to make a rich red sauce. When the chili starts to boil sprinkle over the cocoa and stir it in. Add the beans and simmer partially covered for 1 1/2 hours. At this point you can cool and freeze the chili, or just keep it in the refrigerator overnight.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Pour the chili into a large, wide dish or keep in the pan you cooked it in if it is ovenproof.

Combine the salt, cornmeal, flour, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl. Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, honey, and oil in a jug, and then stir into the dry ingredients mixing to make a vivid yellow batter.

Pour the cornmeal topping over the chili con carne, or blob it over to cover the top as evenly as possible.

Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the cornbread and then bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until the cornbread topping is risen and golden and the chili underneath is bubbling. How long this takes depends on the how cold or hot the chili was when it went into the oven. Since it's such a huge vat, you may find it easiest to reheat it on the stove in its pan first.

Let the chili stand for about 5 minutes once out of the oven before cutting the cornbread top into squares or slices to serve with a helping of chili underneath.


4 ripe avocados, peeled, stoned and chopped
4 scallions, finely chopped
2 limes, juiced
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves

Mash the avocados with the scallions and add the juice of up to 2 limes, to taste. Stir in most of the cilantro and turn into 2 bowls, sprinkling each with the remaining cilantro.

Divide the sour cream into another 2 bowls, and dust with a little paprika and, into another pair of bowls add the grated Cheddar so that people can take clumps and add the tangy cheese to their plates of guacamole and sour cream splodged chili.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Best Birthday Cake

Photograph by James Merrell

Serving Size : Makes up to 12 slices, though small ones


200g plain flour
3 tablespoons Bird's custard powder
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
4 eggs
225g soft butter
200g caster sugar
2–3 tablespoons milk

For the buttercream filling

125g icing sugar
4 teaspoons Bird's custard powder
75g soft unsalted butter
11/2 teaspoons boiling water

For the chocolate icing

60ml water
2 tablespoons golden syrup
125g caster sugar (or use 50g if using milk chocolate)
175g dark chocolate
1 pot hundreds and thousands


1.Make sure everything you need is at room temperature before you start. Preheat the oven to gas mark 4/180°C, and butter and line two 20cm sandwich tins.

2.Put all of the above ingredients except the milk, into a food processor. Process to a smooth batter, and then add the milk a tablespoon at a time to make a soft dropping consistency. Divide between the two cake tins and bake for 20 minutes. The cakes will have risen and feel spookily puffy; this is because of the cornflour in the custard powder.

3.Let the tins sit on a cooling rack for 5 minutes and then turn them out on to the rack, peeling away the paper.

4.FOR THE BUTTERCREAM ICING - Process the icing sugar and custard powder to get rid of any lumps, and then add the butter, processing again to make the buttercream come together. Feed the boiling water down the funnel with the motor running to make the filling easier to spread. Then sandwich the cooled sponges together with the custardy buttercream.

6.FOR THE CHOCOLATE ICING - Combine the water, syrup and sugar in a saucepan, stirring to dissolve over a low heat.

7.Let it come to the boil and then take it off the heat.

8.Break up the chocolate into small pieces if you are not using chocolate buttons (as I do for cooking, but good quality not confectionary standard), and then add to the pan, swirling it around to cover in the hot liquid. Leave to melt for a few minutes, and then whisk the icing to make it smooth and shiny. Pour over the buttercream filled cake, letting it drip down the sides, and then sprinkle generously with the hundreds and thousands before the icing sets.
9.Prong with candles, light them and sing.


Monday, March 2, 2009

Mexican Hot Chocolate

Photograph by Lis Parsons


500ml full-fat milk
6 x 15ml tablespoons superior Continental hot chocolate mix (or enough for 500ml liquid according to packet instructions)
4–5 x 15ml tablespoons Kahlúa,
Squirty cream from a can (optional, depending on taste)
4 long cinnamon sticks
Serving Size : Serves 4


1. Heat the milk in a pan and make the hot chocolate according to packet instructions.

2. Add the Kahlúa and take off the heat before it boils.

3. Serve with a topping of the squirty cream (if using), and put the cinnamon sticks in as you would straws, even though I am not suggesting they be used as such.

The whipped cream on top is not essential unless you decide to serve this in lieu of pudding - and –coffee, which I can't help thinking is a very, very good idea indeed. Aerosol cream, which gives that glorious whipped cream effect is, alas, always longlife, but if you're brave enough, buy a nutritious cream whipper and learn to spurt and squirt the fresh cream at will. - Nigella

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Southern Style Deep-Fried Chicken

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 to 4 servings


2 chicken drumsticks, skin on
2 chicken thighs, skin on, bone in
3 to 4 cups milk
2 1/4 cups solid vegetable shortening, for frying
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 egg, beaten


In a medium pan, place chicken and cover with milk. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 hours to overnight. This helps tenderize the meat, but is optional

In a large saucepan over a medium-high heat, using tongs, transfer chicken into pot, then pour in the milk. Bring milk to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low allowing to simmer until the chicken is cooked through entirely, about 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from the milk, and place on a rack to cool. Allow them to sit until warm about 15 minutes, and then pat dry using a kitchen towel.

Heat vegetable shortening in a Dutch oven over high heat just until it's nearly at the smoking point around 325 degrees F.

In a large zip-lock bag, add salt, flour, cayenne pepper, shake to combine.

In a medium bowl, beat 1 egg.

Place each piece of chicken, 1 at a time, in the bag and shake to coat the chicken. Then dip chicken into the egg to coat. Place the chicken back into the flour to coat for a second time. Repeat this method on remaining 3 pieces of chicken.

Gently drop each piece of chicken into hot oil, allowing the skin to crisp and turn golden brown in color, about 1 minute per side. Remove from the oil and transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Serve immediately.


Friday, February 27, 2009

Chicken, Mushroom and Bacon Pie

Photograph by Lis Parsons


3 rashers streaky bacon, cut or scissored into 2.5cm strips
1 teaspoon garlic oil
125g chestnut mushrooms, sliced into 5mm pieces
250g chicken thigh fillets cut into 2.5cm pieces
25g flour
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 x 15ml tablespoon butter
300ml hot chicken stock
1 x 15ml tablespoon Marsala
1 x 375g (23 x 40cm) sheet all-butter ready-rolled puff pastry
Serving Size : Serves 2


1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/gas mark 7. In a heavy-based frying pan, fry the bacon strips in the oil until beginning to crisp, then add the sliced mushrooms and soften them in the pan with the bacon.

2. Turn the chicken strips in the flour and thyme (you could toss them about in a freezer bag), and then melt the butter in the bacon-and-mushroom pan before adding the floury chicken and all the flour left in the bag. Stir around with the bacon and mushrooms until the chicken begins to colour.

3. Pour in the hot stock and Marsala, stirring to form a sauce, and let this bubble away for about 5 minutes.

4. Take two 300ml pie-pots (if yours are deeper, don't worry, there will simply be more space between contents and puff pastry top) and make a pastry rim for each one – by this I mean an approx. 1cm strip curled around the top of each pot. Dampen the edges with a little water to make the pastry stick.

5. Cut a circle bigger than the top of each pie-pot for the lid, and then divide the chicken filling between the two pots.

6. Dampen the rim of the pastry again and then pop on the lid of each pie, sealing the edges with your fingers or the underneath of the prongs of a fork.

7. Cook the pies for about 20 minutes turning them around halfway through cooking. Once cooked, they should have puffed up magnificently.


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Pigs in Blankets

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 50 pieces


2 cups plus 5 tablespoons self-rising flour
1 heaping teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons grated Red Leicester or Cheddar
1 cup whole milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
50 pork cocktail sausages (mini hot dogs)

For glazing:

1 egg, mixed with a splash milk and 1/2 teaspoon salt


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Measure 2 cups of flour into a bowl, add the salt and grated cheese and mix lightly with a fork. Pour the milk into a measuring cup to come up to 1-cup mark and then crack in the egg and add the oil. Beat to combine, then pour into the dry ingredients, forking to mix as you go. You may, at the end, feel the dough's either too dry or too damp: add either more milk or more flour and fork together again until you've got a soft dough that's not too sticky to be rolled out.

Break the dough into 2 pieces and roll 1 piece on a lightly floured surface. Scone dough is a dream to work with; in fact, I find it deeply pleasurable. Just roll as clumsily and heavy handedly as you like: no harm will come to it. You want a thin, but not exaggeratedly so, rectangle. A square wouldn't be the end of the world either, so don't start getting out the geometry set: this is the roughest of instructions.

Cut the dough into approximately 1 3/4-inch strips, and then cut each strip at approximately 2 1/2-inch intervals so that you end up with a collection of small, raggedy oblongs (I just cut each strip as I go, but it's probably more efficient to do the whole batch of dough at 1 time).

Take a cocktail sausage and put it at 1 end of an oblong at a slight diagonal and then roll up, pressing on the infinitely compliant dough to squeeze it shut, and then place on a nonstick baking sheet, or 1 lined with parchment. Carry on until you've finished all your strips and then get to work with the remaining dough. Three baking sheets should do it.

Now, dip a pastry brush into the beaten egg mixture and paint on the pastry for a golden glaze. Put in the oven and cook for 12 to 15 minutes, by which time they should be puffy and burnished. Remove from the oven and let cool a little before giving them to the children.


Monday, February 23, 2009

Fruit Fizz

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 tub sorbet in each of these flavors: lemon, mango, raspberry, blackcurrant, or indeed any flavor you fancy
1 bottle Prosecco, or fizzy white wine
1 lemon, zested, to garnish
1/2 cup fresh mint sprigs, to garnish


Fill the glasses with about 2 scoops of sorbet, each glass having a different flavor.

Top the glasses up with Prosecco, taking care that the fizz doesn't rise up and bubble over the top. Refill again once the bubbles have subsided, and then grate a little lemon zest over each glass and adorn with a small sprig of mint.


Friday, February 20, 2009

Raspberry and Lemongrass Trifle

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 8 servings


2 1/2 cups water
1 3/4 cups sugar, divided
2 ounces lemongrass, 3 to 4 sticks, but in 1/2 lengthwise
16 store-bought ladyfingers
1 1/3 cups raspberries
3 to 4 tablespoons vodka
2 1/2 cups light cream
8 egg yolks
2 cups heavy cream


Special equipment: medium-sized glass trifle bowl

Make a syrup with the water and 1 1/2 cups of the sugar by bringing them to the boil in a saucepan and boiling for 5 minutes. Take the pan off the heat, add the lemongrass and let it infuse for about half an hour.

Strain the syrup into a measuring cup, keeping the saucepan with the lemongrass to 1 side. Take out about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of the syrup and put it into a pan with the raspberries. Bring it to a rolling boil and let it thicken slightly, mashing the fruit to make a jam-like consistency. Let it cool a little and then dunk the ladyfingers in the raspberry mixture and arrange them in the bottom of your bowl. Add the vodka and about 1/2 cup of the lemongrass syrup, depending on how much your ladyfingers absorb, and reserve the rest.

Meanwhile, to make the custard, heat the light cream in the syrup pan with the lemongrass until it is nearly boiling, take it off the heat and let it infuse for about 15 minutes. Strain into a bowl. Whisk the yolks and the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar together and pour into the cream in the bowl. Then whisk again and put the custard back on the heat in the cleaned-out pan. Stir until the custard thickens and then pour it over the trifle sponges. Let it cool.

Whip the heavy cream until thick but not stiff, and cover the custard layer. Use about 1 cup of the remaining sugar syrup to make a caramel by heating it in a saucepan until it turns a golden brown. Drizzle the caramelized sugar syrup over the layer of cream to decorate.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Linguine with Garlic Oil and Pancetta

Photograph by Francesca Yorke


2 tablespoons garlic-infused olive oil
250g pancetta
250g linguine
Serving Size : Serves 2


1.Preheat the oven to 240°C/gas mark 8.

2.Fill a large saucepan with water and bring to the boil. While it's heating up, put the garlic olive oil in an ovenproof dish; I use an enamel Le Creuset one, measuring 30 x 20cm. Remove the rind from the pancetta and put it in the dish (to render down: you want as much bacony juices as possible) then dice the rest of the pancetta and add these cubes to the oil, smooshing them about with your fingers to make sure they're equally, if lightly, coated. When the water's boiling, put the dish of garlic-oiled pancetta in the oven then salt the boiling water and add the linguine; these should need about 10 minutes to cook. When the pasta's ready, drain it, reserving a scant cupful of the cooking water and

3.take the pancetta dish out of the oven. Tip the drained linguine into the dish and toss well, adding some of the pasta-cooking water, drop by cautious drop, for lubrication as you need it.

4.And that's it: I like this without parmesan, but a sprinkling of roughly scissored parsley, should you feel inclined, is always a good idea.


Saturday, February 14, 2009

Mustard Pork Chops

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 servings

I love the old French favourites, the sorts that evoke not the
supercilious waiter and theatrically-removed silvered dome of the big
name restaurants, but rather the small town bistro, all warm wood and
rough red.

This is possibly the easiest route to a proper, filling and yet
strangely delicate dinner. The pork is cooked for just enough time to
take away pinkness but ensure tenderness within, and gloriously
scorched without. The mustard, cider and cream add comfort and
piquancy. To soak up the gorgeous juices, and to serve as a
fantastically quicktime potato substitute, I serve up gnocchi
alongside. You could always add a little lemony fennel, sliced thinly,
or a green salad if you're in the mood. - Nigella


2 pork chops, about 1-pound total weight
2 teaspoons infused oil
1/2 cup hard cider
1 tablespoon grain mustard
1/3 cup heavy cream


Cut the fat or rind off the chops, and then bash them briefly but
brutally with a rolling pin between 2 pieces of cling film/plastic
wrap to make them thinner.

Heat the oil in a pan, and then cook the chops over a moderately-high
heat for about 5 minutes a side. Remove them to a warmed plate.

Pour the cider into the pan, still over the heat, to deglaze the pan.
Let it bubble away for a minute or so then add the mustard and stir in
the cream.

Let the sauce continue cooking for a few minutes before pouring over
each plated pork chop. If you're having gnocchi with, make sure you
turn them in the pan to absorb any spare juices before adding them to
your plates.

Cook's Note:

Wholegrain mustard

In wholegrain mustard, the seeds are not ground, but mixed whole with
other ingredients. Different flavors and strengths can be achieved by
using different blends of mustard seed species. Some variations have
additives such as sun-dried tomato mustard and chili mustard. - wikipedia

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 1 quesadilla


For each flour tortilla wrap:

Soft flour tortilla
1-ounce thinly sliced cured ham
3 coin-sliced slices pickled green jalapeno peppers from a jar, chopped
1/4 cup grated cheese
1 scallion, finely sliced
Few fresh cilantro leaves
1 teaspoon olive oil (not extra-virgin)
You'll also need: good store-bought salsa of your choice (or you can make your own)


Preheat a grill pan over medium-high heat.

Cover tortilla wrap with the ham.

Over 1/2 only, sprinkle the chopped pickled jalapeno, the grated cheese and the chopped scallion. Scatter over the cilantro leaves.

Carefully fold the tortilla wrap in half, that's to say, fold the untopped half over the cheese so you have a fat half moon.

Lift this is up carefully and brush each side with the oil before putting it on the hot griddle; grill for a minute each side.

Using a steady hand and a wide fine spatula or fish slice, transfer the tortilla to a board or plate and cut into 3 triangles. Eat with some salsa on the side. And please feel free to play with the fillings as you wish.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Chicken Schnitzel with Bacon and White Wine

Don't fret! Fancy name but sooo easy to make..shnitzel is just breaded veal cutlet, this is just a variation - Daphne


1 teaspoon garlic oil
4 rashers streaky bacon
4 chicken escalopes approx. 125g each
100ml white wine
Serving Size : Serves 4


1.Put the oil in a frying pan and add the bacon.

2.Fry till the bacon is crisp and the pan is full of bacony juices. Remove the bacon to a piece of foil, wrap it and set it aside for a moment.

3.Fry the chicken for about 2 minutes a side, until there is no pinkness when you cut into a piece. Make sure the pan's hot so that the escalopes catch a little, turning beautifully bronze.

4.Remove the chicken to a serving plate and quickly crumble the bacon you've set aside into the pan, then pour in the wine, letting everything bubble up, and, finally, pour over the chicken pieces.

Escalopes (also spelt as escallopes) are pieces of boneless meat which have been thinned out using a mallet, rolling pin or beaten with the handle of a knife. By thinning out the meat, it cooks quicker, which is helpful when preparing fast meals. - Wikipedia

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Totally Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Photograph by Lis Parsons


125g dark chocolate, minimum 70% cocoa solids
150g flour
30g cocoa, sieved
1 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
125g soft butter
75g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 egg, cold from the fridge
350g (2 bags) semi-sweet chocolate morsels or dark chocolate chips
Serving Size : Makes 12


1.Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3. Melt the 125g dark chocolate either in the microwave or in a heatproof dish over a pan of simmering water.

2.Put the flour, cocoa, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a bowl.

3.Cream the butter and sugars in another bowl. (I use my freestanding mixer, itself an odd source of comfort to me.) Add the melted chocolate and mix together.

4.Beat in the vanilla extract and cold egg, and then mix in the dry ingredients. Finally stir in the chocolate morsels or chips.

5.Scoop out 12 equal-sized mounds – an ice cream scoop and a palette knife are the best tools for the job – and place on a lined baking sheet about 6cm apart. Do not flatten them.

6.Cook for 18 minutes, testing with a cake tester to make sure it comes out semi-clean and not wet with cake batter. If you pierce a chocolate chip, try again.

7.Leave to cool slightly on the baking sheet for 4–5 minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack to harden as they cool.


Monday, February 9, 2009

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Banana and Butterscotch Muffins

Serving Size : Makes 12
Photograph by Lis Parsons


3 very ripe bananas
125ml vegetable oil
2 eggs
250g flour
100g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
150g butterscotch (or chocolate) morsels


1.Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6 and line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers.

2.Mash the bananas and set aside for a moment.

3.Pour the oil into a jug and beat in the eggs.

4.Put the flour, sugar, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas.

5.Fold in the butterscotch morsels, then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin – I use an ice cream scoop and a spatula – and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.

White chocolate or dark chocolate morsels can be used in place of the butterscotch ones - Nigella

American Breakfast Pancakes

Photograph by Petrina Tinslay
Serving Size : 11 blini-pan-sized pancakes


225g plain flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
30g butter, melted and cooled
300ml milk
butter for frying


1. The easiest way to make these is to put all the ingredients into a blender and blitz. But if you do mix up the batter by hand in a bowl, make a well in the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar, beat in the eggs, melted butter and milk, and transfer to a jug: it's much easier to pour the batter into the pan than to spoon it. I like to leave the batter for 20 minutes before using it; and you may then want to add more milk to the mixture if you're frying in the blini pan, so that it runs right to the edges.

2. When you cook the pancakes, all you need to remember is that when the upper side of the pancake is blistering and bubbling it's time to cook the second side, and this needs only about 1 minute.

3. I get 11 blini-pan-sized pancakes out of this, maybe 16 silver-dollar-sized ones on the griddle.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


1 stick plus 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
4 ounces semisweet chocolate, with 60 percent cocoa solids
2 eggs
3/4 cup superfine sugar
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Special equipment: 4 (2/3 to 1-cup capacity) ramekins


Place a baking sheet in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F.

Butter the ramekins with 1 tablespoon butter.

Either in a microwave or in a bowl suspended over a pan over simmering
water, melt the dark chocolate and 1 stick butter, then set aside to
cool a little.

In another bowl, mix the eggs with the sugar and flour with a hand
whisk and beat in the cooled butter and chocolate mixture. Divide the
mixture between the 4 buttered ramekins. Bake for about 20 minutes, by
which time the tops will be cooked and cracked and the chocolate gooey

Place each ramekin on a small plate with a teaspoon and serve. Make
sure to warn people that these desserts will be HOT!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 1 serving


1 pound spaghetti
2 cups cubed pancetta rind removed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine or vermouth
4 eggs
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
1/4 cup heavy cream
Freshly ground black pepper
Freshly ground nutmeg


Put a large pan of water on to boil for the pasta.

In another large pan that will fit the pasta later, cook the pancetta
cubes in the oil until crispy but not crunchy. Pour over the white
wine or vermouth and let it bubble away so that, after a few minutes,
you have a small amount of salty winey syrup left. Take the pan off
the heat.

In a bowl, beat together the eggs, Parmesan, cream, and pepper. Cook
the pasta according to the packet instructions, but since you want it
kept al dente start checking it 2 minutes before end of the
recommended cooking time.

When the pasta is done, remove approximately 1/2 cup of the pasta
water before draining. Put the pan with the bacon cubes back on the
heat and add the drained pasta, tossing well to coat with the syrupy
pancetta. Take the pan off the heat again and add the eggs and cheese
mixture, swiftly tossing everything to mix. Thin with pasta water, if
needed. Grind over some more pepper and grate over the nutmeg to


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Butterscotch Fruit Fondue

Cook Time: 5 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 servings


* 3 tablespoons light muscovado sugar
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 1/2 cup golden syrup
* 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* Splash vanilla extract
* About 2 1/2 cups cut fruit


Melt the sugars, syrup and butter in a saucepan and boil for 5 minutes.

Add the cream and vanilla, stirring together, and then take off the heat.

Divide the sauce between two cups or small bowls, and then arrange the
fruit on 2 saucers or on a plate, as you see fit.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Homemade Instant Pancake Mix and Blueberry Syrup

Cook Time: 5 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 15 pancakes of about 3-inches in diameter


Pancake mix:

* 4 cups all-purpose flour
* 3 tablespoons baking powder
* 2 teaspoons baking soda
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons sugar

Pancake batter:

* 1 egg
* 1 cup milk
* 1 tablespoon melted butter


For the pancake mix:

Mix the above ingredients together and store in a jar.

For the pancake batter:

For each 1 cup pancake mix, add 1 egg, 1 cup milk, and 1 tablespoon
melted butter. Do not overmix.

Heat a flat griddle or pan over medium-high heat.

Spoon drops of 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of batter onto the hot griddle
and when bubbles appear on the surface of the little pancakes, flip
them over to make them golden brown on both sides. A minute or so a
side should do it.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Eton Mess

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 servings


* 4 cups strawberries
* 2 teaspoons caster or vanilla sugar
* 2 teaspoons pomegranate juice
* 2 cups whipping cream
* 1 packet individual meringue nests


Hull and chop the strawberries and put into a bowl and add the sugar
and pomegranate juice and leave to macerate while you whip the cream.

Whip the cream in a large bowl until thick but still soft. Roughly
crumble in 4 of the meringues nests - you will need chunks for texture
as well as a little fine dust.

Take out about half a cupful of the chopped strawberries, and fold the
meringue cream and rest of the fruit mixture together.

Arrange on 4 serving plates or glasses or in a mound, and top each
with some of the remaining macerated strawberries.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Chocolate Cherry Trifle

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Intermediate
Yield: 16 servings


* 2 (approximately 12 ounces each) chocolate pound cakes
* 1/2 cup black cherry jam
* 1/2 cup cherry brandy
* 2 cups drained bottled sour cherries (recommended: Morello)


* 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, minimum 70 percent cocoa solids, chopped
* 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon milk
* 1 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
* 8 egg yolks
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
* 1/3 cup cocoa


* 3 cups heavy cream
* 1-ounce bittersweet chocolate
* Special Equipment: Large wide trifle bowl


Slice the chocolate pound cake and make jam sandwiches with the cherry
jam, and layer the bottom of a large wide trifle bowl. Pour over the
cherry brandy so that the cake soaks it up, and then top with the
drained cherries. Cover with cling wrap and leave to macerate while
you make the custard.

Melt the chocolate on low to medium heat in the microwave, checking
after 2 minutes, though it will probably need 4 minutes. Or you can
place it in a bowl over a pan of simmering water. Once the chocolate
is melted, ser aside while you get on with the custard.

In a saucepan warm the milk and cream. Whisk the egg yolks, sugar, and
cocoa in a large bowl. Pour the warm milk and cream into the bowl
whisking it into the yolks and sugar mixture. Stir in the melted
chocolate, scraping the sides well with a rubber spatula to get all of
it in, and pour the custard back into the rinsed saucepan. Cook over a
medium heat until the custard thickens, stirring all the time. Make
sure it doesn't boil, as it will split and curdle. Keep a sink full of
cold water so that if you get scared you can plunge the bottom of the
custard pan into the cold water and whisk like mad, which will avert
possible crisis.

The custard will get darker as it cooks and the flecks of chocolate
will melt once the custard has thickened. And you do need this thick,
so don't panic so much that you stop cooking while it is still runny.
Admittedly, it continues to thicken as it cools and also when it's
chilling in the refrigerator. Once it is ready, pour into a bowl to
cool and cover the top of the custard with cling wrap to prevent a
skin from forming.

When the custard is cold, pour and spread it over the chocolate cake
layer in the trifle bowl, and leave in the refrigerator to set,
covered in cling wrap overnight.

When you are ready to decorate, softly whip the cream for the topping
and spread it gently over the layer of custard. Grate the chocolate
over the top.


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Crunchy Pork Chops with Garlicky Spinach and Tomato Salad

Cook Time: 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 2 servings


Pork chops:

* 2 pork chops, approximately 8 ounces each
* 1 egg
* 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
* 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
* Salt and freshly ground black pepper
* 1 cup bread crumbs
* 1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan
* 1 cup ground nut oil or similar, for frying

Garlicky spinach and tomato salad:

* 3 medium tomatoes
* 1/2 clove garlic, minced
* 1 tablespoon olive oil
* 1 tablespoon lemon juice
* 4 cups baby spinach leaves
* Salt and pepper


Trim the thick white fat off the pork chops, cutting carefully around
the outside edge. Lay the chops between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and,
using a mallet or a rolling pin beat them until the meaty part of the
chop is half as thick. You will need to beat around the bone, so turn
them over once as you go.

Beat the egg in a shallow wide bowl with the mustard, oregano, and
salt and pepper. On a large plate or platter, combine the breadcrumbs
with the Parmesan.

Press each of the chops into the egg mixture, coating either side.
Then dip the eggy chops into the bread crumbs, covering them evenly.
Let them lie on a cooling rack to dry slightly while you heat the oil
in a large frying pan. When a small cube of bread sizzles if dropped
into the oil, then the oil is hot enough. Cook the chops until they
are a deep golden color, about 5 to 7 minutes a side (depending on how
thin you've managed to get them and how cold they were before going in
the oil).

Meanwhile, quarter the tomatoes and take out the seeds, then cut the
shells into strips and dice them. You can take off the skins, too, if
you prefer, by steeping the tomatoes first into a bowl of just boiled
water for 3 to 5 minutes. Combine the diced tomato, minced or grated
garlic, oil, and lemon juice in a bowl, and season well with salt and

When the chops are ready, toss the spinach in the tomato mixture until
well coated and divide the salad between 2 large plates, putting each
chop alongside.



Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 12


* 1 stick plus 1 tablespoon soft butter
* 1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
* 2 eggs
* 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 2 to 3 tablespoons milk


Royal Icing, recipe follows

Special equipment: 12 bun muffin pan, lined with muffin papers.

Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to get to room
temperature - and this makes a huge difference to the lightness of the
cupcakes later - and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Put all of the ingredients for the cupcakes except for the milk into a
food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk
down the funnel, to make a smooth dropping consistency.

Divide the mixture between a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin
papers, and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. They should have
risen and be golden on top. Let them cool a little in their tins on a
rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their
papers, still on the wire rack.

Ice with Royal Icing.
Royal Icing:

* *2 large egg whites (or substitute powdered egg whites)
* 3 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Combine the egg whites and confectioners' sugar in a medium-size
mixing bowl and whip with an electric mixer on medium speed until
opaque and shiny, about 5 minutes. Whisk in the lemon juice, this will
thin out the icing. Beat for another couple of minutes until you reach
the right spreading consistency for the cupcakes.


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Garlic Roast Potato

Cook Time: 1 hr
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


* 3 pounds maincrop potatoes
* 1/3 cup regular olive oil
* 1 head garlic
* Kosher salt


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Wash and dry the potatoes, but don't bother to peel them, and cut them
into about 3/4-inch dice. Toss in a large oven tray and pour over the
oil, smulching around with your hands to mix well. Separate the head
of garlic into cloves adding them to the tray, and roast for about 1
hour, turning once or twice during that time, until crispy and golden
but still soft on the inside. When they're done, remove to a large
plate and sprinkle with salt.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Cups

Prep Time: 30 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 48 servings


For the base
2 ounces (50 grams) soft dark brown sugar
7 ounces (200 grams) icing sugar
2 ounces (50 grams) butter, softened
7 ounces (200 grams) smooth peanut butter

For the topping:

7 ounces (200 grams) milk chocolate
3 1/2 ounces (100 grams) dark chocolate
Gold buttons and edible gold stars to decorate, or other decorations
of your choice


For the base:

Place all the ingredients for the base in the bowl of a food
processor. Blend the mixture until the mixture takes on a sandy

Place 48 gold petit four cases in sets of miniature tart tins or
mini-muffin tins (each indent about 1 3/4-inches in diameter). Use 1
teaspoon of the base mixture to fill the bases of the petit four
cases. Press the sandy mixture down into the cases as best you can to
form a layer at the bottom of each paper case.

Place the milk chocolate and dark chocolate together into a heatproof
bowl. Suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water (the water should
not touch the bottom of the bowl). Melt the chocolate gently while
stirring. Spoon teaspoonfuls of the melted chocolate onto the top of
each of the sandy bases of the petit four cases.

Decorate the tops of the chocolate covered peanut butter cups with
either a gold button or gold star in the middle of each and transfer
them to the fridge. Let them set in the fridge, for about 30 minutes.

To serve, arrange the chocolate peanut butter cups in their cases on a
clean plate.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Buttermilk Roast Chicken

Cook Time: 30 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


* 12 chicken drumsticks (approximately 3 pounds total weight)
* 2 cups buttermilk
* 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
* 2 cloves garlic, bruised and skins removed
* 1 tablespoon crushed peppercorns
* 1 tablespoon Maldon salt, sea salt or 1 1/2 teaspoons table salt
* 1 teaspoon ground cumin
* 1 tablespoon maple syrup


Place the chicken drumsticks in a large freezer bag, and add the
buttermilk and 1/4 cup of oil.

Add the bruised garlic cloves to the bag with the crushed peppercorns and salt.

Sprinkle in the ground cumin and finally add the maple syrup, and then
squish everything in the freezer bag around to mix the marinade and
coat the chicken.

Leave the buttermilk marinated chicken in the fridge ideally overnight
or out of the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 hours.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Take the chicken pieces out of the
bag shaking off the excess marinade, and then arrange them in a
roasting tin lined with foil.

Drizzle over the 2 remaining tablespoons of oil, and then roast in the
oven for about 30 minutes, or until brown, even scorched in parts, and
juicily cooked through.


One-Pan Sage-and-Onion Chicken and Sausage

Cook Time: 1 hr 15 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 6 servings


* 1 large onion or 2 small onions
* 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra-virgin)
* 2 teaspoons English mustard
* 1 tablespoon dried sage
* Freshly ground black pepper
* 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
* 1 lemon
* 1 (4-pound) chicken, jointed into 10 pieces
* 12 sausages
* 2 tablespoons fresh sage leaves, chopped


Peel and cut the onion into eighths, and put into a freezer bag with
the oil, mustard, dried sage, a good grinding of pepper, and
Worcestershire sauce. Cut lemon in half, squeeze juice into bag, and
then cut the halves into eighths and add them. Squidge everything
around to mix (the mustard needs help to combine) and then add the
chicken pieces. Leave to marinade in the refrigerator overnight, or
for up to 2 days.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Allow the chicken to come to room
temperature in its marinade.

Arrange the chicken pieces in a roasting tin skin side up with the
marinade, including all the bits and pieces, and tuck the sausages
around them. Sprinkle the fresh sage leaves over the chicken and
sausages and then put the tin into the oven to cook for 1 hour and 15
minutes. Turn the sausages over half way through to color them evenly.


Arrange the chicken and sausages on a large platter.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Cut-out Cookies

Cook Time: 12 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 25 to 30



* 6 tablespoons soft unsalted butter
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1 large egg
* 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon salt


* 2 to 3 tablespoons just-boiled water
* 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
* Food coloring, preferably pastes
* Special equipment: cookie cutters


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Cream the butter and sugar together until pale and moving towards
moussiness, then beat in the egg and vanilla. In another bowl, combine
the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the
butter and eggs, and mix gently but surely. If you think the finished
mixture is too sticky to be rolled out, add more flour, but do so
sparingly as too much will make the dough tough. Form into a fat disk,
wrap in plastic wrap, and let rest in the refrigerator for at least 1

Sprinkle a suitable surface with flour, place disk of dough on it, and
sprinkle a little more flour on top of that. Then roll it out to a
thickness of about 1/4-inch. Cut into shapes, dipping the cutter into
flour as you go, and place the cookies a little apart on 2 parchment
or silpat lined baking sheets.

Bake for 8 to 12 minutes; obviously it depends on the shape you're
using and whether they are on the upper or lower shelf, though you can
swap them around after about 5 minutes. When they're ready expect them
to be tinged a pronounced gold around the edges; they'll be softish
still in the middle, but set while they cool.

Remove the cookies with a flat, preferably flexible, spatula to a wire
rack. When they are fully cooled, you can get on with the icing. Put a
couple of tablespoons of not-quite-boiling water into a large bowl,
add the sieved confectioners sugar and mix together, adding more water
as you need to form a thick paste. Color,as desired. I think pastes
are much better than liquid, not just because the range of colors is
better but because they don't dilute the icing as they tint. Ice
cooled cookies, as desired.


Chocolate Caramel Crispy Cakes

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: approximately 40


* 4 (2-ounce) chocolate candy bars (recommended: Mars Bars or Milky Way)
* 1/2 stick unsalted butter
* 2 1/2 cups crunchy sweetened corn cereal (recommended: Cornflakes)
* Special equipment: approximately 40 mini muffin papers


Break the candy bars into bits and drop them into a saucepan. Add the
butter and melt, over lowish heat, stirring frequently with a rubber
spatula. When everything is melted (the nougat-like layer takes the
longest to go), tip in the cereal and turn them, with your rubber
spatula, in the chocolate mixture until they are all pretty well

Fill the mini muffin papers with the mixture and put in the
refrigerator, on a small sheet pan or tray, for at least 1 hour.


Ritzy Chicken Nuggets

Cook Time: 20 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 12-16 nuggets; to serve 3 to 4 children, or 2 adults


* 2 (each weighing approximately 8 ounces with the peg bone, less
without) chicken breasts
* 1 cup buttermilk
* 1/2 cup oil (if you are frying the nuggets)
* 1 3/4 cups cracker crumbs (recommended: Ritz crackers)
* Serving suggestion: Capery Salad, recipe follows


Cut off the chicken peg bone if there is 1, and put the chicken
breasts one at a time into a freezer bag so that it lies flat. Bash
with a rolling pin until the chicken is quite thin, and then take it
out and slice into about 6 to 8 slices. Repeat with the other chicken
breast. This is easiest done with scissors.

Put the slices into a freezer bag with the buttermilk and leave in the
refrigerator to marinade for up to 2 days.

When you are ready to cook them, heat the oil in a large frying pan,
or preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Tip the cracker crumbs into a wide shallow bowl, and then shake off
the excess buttermilk from the nuggets and dip them in the crumbs.
Coat them well before lying gently in the hot oil, and cooking for
about 2 minutes or so a side until they are golden brown. Transfer to
a kitchen towel on a plate to blot the excess oil.

Alternatively, you can lay the crumb-coated chicken nuggets on a lined
baking sheet and bake for 15 to 20 minutes. They can also be frozen
once marinated and crumbed. If cooking from frozen, add 5 minutes to
the oven cooking time.

Capery Salad:


1 head romaine or 4 little butter lettuces
2 large gherkins, diced
1 to 2 tablespoons capers
2 to 3 tablespoons chopped parsley leaves, to garnish


2 teaspoons gherkin brine
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

Slice the lettuce into 1/2-inch slices across and put into a bowl. Add
the diced gherkins and capers.

Combine the dressing ingredients, whisking together, and then pour
over the salad tossing it to mix. Arrange on a couple of plates and
sprinkle over the parsley. Serve with the chicken nuggets.


Instant Chocolate Mousse

Cook Time: 10 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 4 to 6 servings


* 3 cups mini marshmallows
* 1/2 stick unsalted butter, softened
* 9 ounces best quality semisweet chocolate, chopped into small pieces
* 1/4 cup hot water from a recently boiled kettle
* 1 cup heavy cream
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


Put the marshmallows, butter, chocolate and water in a heavy-based saucepan.

Put the saucepan on the stove, over heat, though keep it fairly
gentle, to melt, stirring every now and again. Remove from the heat.

Meanwhile whip the cream with the vanilla until thick and then fold
into the cooling chocolate mixture until you have a smooth, cohesive

Pour or scrape into 4 or 6 glasses or small dishes and chill until you
want to eat. The sooner the better!


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Quadruple Chocolate Loaf Cake

Cook Time: 1 hr
Level: Easy
Yield: 10 servings



* 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 cup cocoa
* 1 1/3 cups sugar
* 1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
* 2 eggs
* 1 tablespoon good-quality vanilla extract
* 1/3 cup sour cream
* 1/2 cup boiling water
* 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips or morsels


* 1 teaspoon cocoa
* 1/2 cup water
* 1/2 cup sugar
* 1-ounce dark chocolate (from a thick bar if possible), cut into
splinters of varying thickness, for garnish
* Special equipment: 2-pound loaf tin (approximately 9 1/2 by 4
1/2 by 3 inches deep), lined with greased foil, pressed into the
corners and with some overhang at the top. Alternatively, substitute a
silicon loaf tin, no foil lining necessary.


Take whatever you need out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients
can come room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, putting in a baking sheet as you do so.

Put the flour, baking soda, cocoa, sugar, butter, eggs, vanilla, and
sour cream into the processor and blitz until a smooth, satiny brown
batter. Scrape down with a rubber spatula and process again while
pouring the boiling water down the funnel. Switch it off, then remove
the lid and the well-scraped double-bladed knife and, still using your
rubber spatula, stir in the chocolate chips or morsels.

Scrape and pour the batter into the prepared loaf tin and put into the
oven, cooking for about 1 hour. When ready, the loaf will be risen and
split down the middle and a cake-tester will pretty well come out

Not long before the cake is due out of the oven (when it has had about
45 to 50 minutes), put the syrup ingredients of cocoa, water and sugar
into a small saucepan and boil for about 5 minutes, to give a thick

Take the cake out of the oven and sit it on a cooling rack, still in
the tin, and pierce here and there with a cake tester. Pour the syrup
over the cake.

Let the cake become completely cold and then slip out of its tin,
removing the foil as you do so. Sit on an oblong or other plate.
Sprinkle the chocolate splinters over the top of the sticky surface of
the cake

Old-Fashioned Chocolate Cake

Cook Time: 5 min
Level: Easy
Yield: approximately 8 servings



* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 cup superfine sugar
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/3 cup best-quality cocoa
* 1 1/2 sticks soft unsalted butter
* 2 large eggs
* 2 teaspoons good-quality vanilla extract
* 2/3 cup sour cream
* Special equipment: 2 (each 8-inch diameter) layer tins with
removable bases, buttered


* 6 ounces good-quality semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces
* 3/4 stick unsalted butter
* 2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
* 1 tablespoon light corn syrup
* 1/2 cup sour cream
* 1 teaspoon good-quality vanilla extract
* Sugar flowers, to decorate, optional


Take everything out of the refrigerator so that all ingredients can
come room temperature.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Put all the cake ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder and soda,
cocoa, butter, eggs, vanilla, and sour cream into a food processor and
process until you have a smooth, thick batter. If you want to go the
long way around, just mix the flour, sugar and leavening agents in a
large bowl and beat in the soft butter until you have a combined and
creamy mixture. Now whisk together the cocoa, sour cream, vanilla, and
eggs and beat this into your bowl of mixture.

Divide this batter, using a rubber spatula to help you scrape and
spread, into the prepared tins and bake until a cake tester comes out
clean, which should be about 35 minutes, but it is wise to start
checking at 25 minutes. Also, it might make sense to switch the 2
cakes around in the oven halfway through cooking time. Remove the
cakes, in their tins, to a wire rack and let cool for 10 minutes
before turning out of their tins. Don't worry about any cracks as they
will easily be covered by the frosting later.

To make this icing, melt the chocolate and butter in a good-sized bowl
either in the microwave or suspended over a pan of simmering water. Go
slowly either way: you don't want any burning or seizing.

While the chocolate and butter is cooling a little, sieve the
confectioners' sugar into another bowl. Or, easier still, put the
icing sugar into the food processor and blitz to remove lumps.

Add the corn syrup to the cooled chocolate mixture, followed by the
sour cream and vanilla and then when all this is combined whisk in the
sieved confectioners' sugar. Or just pour this mixture down the funnel
of the food processor onto the powdered sugar, with the motor running.

You may need to add a little boiling water, say a teaspoon or so, or
indeed some more confectioners' sugar, depending on whether you need
the frosting to be thiner or thicker. It should be liquid enough to
coat easily, but thick enough not to drip off.

Choose your cake stand or plate and cut 4 strips of baking parchment
to form a square and sit 1 of the cakes, uppermost (i.e. slightly
domed) side down.

Spoon about 1/3 of the frosting onto the center of the cake-half and
spread with a knife or spatula until you cover the top of it evenly.
Sit the other cake on top, normal way up, pressing gently to sandwich
the 2 together.

Spoon another 1/3 of the frosting onto the top of the cake and spread
it in a swirly, textured way (though you can go for a smooth finish if
you prefer, and have the patience). Spread the sides of the cake with
icing and leave a few minutes until set, then carefully pull away the
paper strips.

I love to dot the top of this with sugar pansies, and you must admit,
they do look enchanting, but there really is no need to make a
shopping expedition out of it. Anything, or indeed nothing, will do.


Triple Chocolate Brownies

Cook Time: 25 min
Level: Easy
Yield: 18 brownies


* 3 sticks plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
* 12 ounces best-quality bittersweet chocolate
* 6 eggs
* 1 3/4 cups superfine sugar
* 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
* 1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup white chocolate buttons, chips, or morsels
* 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate buttons, chips or morsels
* Approximately 2 teaspoons confectioners' sugar, for garnish

* Special equipment: Baking tin (approximately 11 1/4 inches by 9
inches by 2 inches), sides and base lined with baking parchment.


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter and dark chocolate together in a large heavy based pan
over a low heat.

In a bowl or large measuring jug, beat the eggs together with the
superfine sugar and vanilla extract.

Allow the chocolate mixture to cool a little, then add the egg and
sugar mixture and beat well. Fold in the flour and salt. Then stir in
the white chocolate buttons or chips, and the semisweet chocolate
buttons or chips. Beat to combine then scrape and pour the brownie
mixture into the prepared tin.

Bake for about 25 minutes. You can see when the brownies are ready
because the top dries to a slightly paler brown speckle, while the
middle remains dark, dense and gooey. Even with such a big batch you
do need to keep checking on it: the difference between gooey brownies
and dry ones is only a few minutes. Remember, too, that they will
continue to cook as they cool.

To serve, cut into squares while still warm and pile up on a large
plate, sprinkling with confectioners' sugar pushed with a teaspoon
through a small sieve.