Friday, 30 October 2009

Soy Bean Pate

This is a pleasantly nutty pate which is given a very rich flavor by the addition of Miso.


  • 150g dried soy beans, soaked in water overnight

  • 2 limes, sliced in half

  • 2 tbsp soy sauce

  • 50g fresh coriander

  • 4 tsp dark miso

  • 4 tbsp hot water



  1. Place the soy beans in a pan and cover with cold water.

  2. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 3 hours. If you're lucky enough to be using fresh soy beans then just boil for 5 minutes.

  3. Strain the soy beans, but keep some of the liquid they were cooked in for the hot water.

  4. Add the beans to a blender. Squeeze the juice of the limes and then grate the zest off the outside of the limes into the blender.

  5. Add the soy sauce, coriander, dark miso and the water.

  6. Blend until reasonably smooth. If the pate is too thick and just sticks to the wall of the blender then add a bit more of the water you cooked the soy beans in.

  7. Place the blended mixture into a bowl and refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

  8. Serve with dry biscuits, such as crackers or water biscuits.

Serves 4 as a starter.

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Soul Cakes

These soul cakes are traditionally eaten with a glass of wine on Halloween. Apparently. They're very nice, even if they're more like biscuits than cakes.


  • 175g caster sugar

  • 175g butter, preferably warm

  • 3 egg yolks (use the whites for meringue)

  • 2 or 3 strands of saffron (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cloves

  • 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon

  • 1/4 teaspoon of ground nutmeg

  • 450g plain flour

  • 75g currents or sultanas

  • A few drops of milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees

  2. Mix the butter and sugar together well

  3. Add the egg yolks one at a time and mix well

  4. Add the spices and saffron and the flour and again mix well

  5. If the mixture seems a little dry then add a few drops of milk until you get a nice moist dough

  6. Add the sultanas and need them well into the dough

  7. Divide the dough into about 15-25 biscuits and press them down onto greaseproof paper on a greased baking tray

  8. Use the back of a knife or the edge of a wooden spoon to mark crosses in the top

  9. Bake in the oven for 15-25 minutes, the biscuits will stay fairly pale when cooked so be careful not to over cook them

Makes 20 cakes or so.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Spider Cake

This is a simple sponge cake with some fancy decorations.


  • 110g butter, at room temperature or warmed in the microwave

  • 110g caster sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 110g self raising flour

  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

  • a few tablespoons of strawberry jam

  • 10 chocolate sticks (matchmakers or after-eight mint sticks work well)

  • chocolate buttons for eyes

  • A pinch of icing sugar


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees

  2. Mix the flour, butter, eggs, baking powder and sugar together well in a bowl

  3. Divide the mixture between two well greased cake tins (putting baking parchment inside them makes removing the cake far easier as well)

  4. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until a cocktail stick put into the center of the cake comes out clean

  5. Leave to cool on a cooling rack

  6. Boil a pan with a couple of cm of water in the bottom

  7. Snap the chocolate sticks about a third along their edge and press one end against the side of the hot pan

  8. Quickly use the melted end of the stick to stick it at a right angle to the other part of the stick

  9. Carefully lay on foil to cool

  10. Do the above for 8 sticks to get 8 legs and then use two shorter pieces of stick to make the mouth pieces of the creature

  11. To make the eyes carefully use a fingertip dipped in icing sugar to make small white dots on the chocolate buttons

  12. To put the cake together spread the jam on one side of the two cakes you've made and place the other one carefully on top; before doing this carefully inspect each cake to work out which would look best on the top

  13. Attach all the other bits to the cake, using the picture above as reference; the legs might need careful balancing or a gentle press to go into the cake

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

Skull Meringue


  • 175g caster sugar

  • 3 egg whites (use the yolks to make soul cakes)

  • Many chocolate buttons for eyes and nose

  • A few chocolate sticks for the mouth


  1. Preheat the oven to 160 degrees

  2. In a very clean bowl whisk up the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, this can take a while but be careful not to over whisk

  3. Carefully add the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk together well

  4. Spoon the sugar and white mixture onto a sheet of greased baking parchment (foil will not work) on a baking tray; try to keep the spoons of the mixture separate, but as you can see from the photos, mine merged together

  5. Cook in the oven for 50 minutes

  6. Once the 50 minutes is up, don't remove from the oven, just turn the oven off and wait another hour

  7. Remove the meringue from the oven and decorate with the chocolate pieces

  8. If the meringues have merged then use a sharp serrated knife to cut them apart

Friday, 16 October 2009

Chocolate Fondue

Following on from cheese fondue, I couldn't resist doing a recipe for chocolate fondue.


  • 300g dark chocolate, broken into chunks

  • 300ml single cream

  • various fruit to dip such as: strawberries, blueberries, prunes and apricots



  1. Place the chocolate and cream in a bowl and place that bowl over a pan of water.

  2. Heat the water on a low to medium heat. It should start to boil and slowly heat up the chocolate. Make sure it doesn't boil dry by checking the water level every 10 minutes.

  3. Don't stir the chocolate/cream mixture until it looks like the chocolate is really starting to melt. This should take 15 to 20 minutes.

  4. Carefully stir the chocolate into the cream until the liquid is a single consistency.

  5. Serve with forks and the fruit.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, 14 October 2009

Cheese Fondue

Cheese is great. Friends are great. Fondue combines both into an enjoyable evening. I think it's probably something to do with eating from the same pot, but sharing a fondue can really build friendships. Enough contemplating the nature of shared food, it's recipe time.


  • 1/2 bottle of dry white wine

  • 2 tbsp cornflour

  • 200g Gruyere, grated

  • 200g Gouda, grated

  • 200g Emmental, grated

  • 900g various cheddar, grated

  • 1 large baguette, chopped in 2cm chunks

  • 6 celery sticks, chopped into 2cm lengths

  • 6 large carrots, chopped into 1cm chunks



  1. Place the wine, cornflour and cheese into a large pan and start to slowly heat.

  2. You don't want to boil the mixture as then it'll separate, so heat it as slowly as you dare. Stir it frequently and serve as soon as all the cheese has melted.

  3. Serve with forks to dip the bread, celery and carrot into the fondue. It's also worth giving every person a little plate so they have some where to place excess cheese or dipping items on.

Serves 5.

Sunday, 11 October 2009

Hot Chocolate and Rum

This recipe combines possible two of the greatest things for winter nights: hot chocolate and rum. Good at warming you up after a cold autumn or winter night.


  • 1 sachet of 'diet' hot chocolate powder, the sort which is 40 calories or so

  • 1 shot of rum, variety doesn't matter



  1. Boil a kettle of water.

  2. Empty sachet into a mug.

  3. Add boiling water, leaving about 2 cm at the top of the mug.

  4. Add the shot of rum.

  5. Stir. Drink. Enjoy.


Friday, 9 October 2009

Pan-fried Paneer Cheese

While paneer is very nice when cooked with a flavor-some sauce, I find it also very appealing if it's just fried in a pan like this as it develops a lovely crispy outside.


  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 200g of paneer, cut into half cm strips

  • 2 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced



  1. Heat the oil in a frying pan on a medium to hot heat.

  2. Add the paneer and the cloves of garlic to the oil.

  3. Cook the paneer, moving it around in the pan a bit until one side is golden brown. This should take 5 minutes or so.

  4. Turn over the paneer and fry the other side until golden.

  5. Don't worry if the garlic is starting to burn and go black, that's normal.

  6. Carefully remove the paneer from the pan, avoiding taking any of the blackened garlic with it.

  7. Serve with some saucy curry and rice.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Homemade Paneer Cheese

When I discovered how easy it was to make paneer cheese I had to go for it. It's a type of cottage cheese, which means you don't have to leave it for months to mature. It's ready in under an hour from start to finish.


  • 4 pints of whole milk, really needs to be whole milk

  • 2 to 4 tbsp lemon juice

You'll also need a cheese cloth, fine muslin or a closely woven (and clean!) tea towel.


  1. Place the milk in a large saucepan and bring slowly to the boil. It doesn't matter if it does start boiling but don't boil it too energetically. It's also critical to get it above 85 degrees, so it does need to be boiling or very almost boiling.

  2. Add 2 tbsp of the lemon juice and stir well. You should start to see the curds separating from the whey.

  3. Keep stiring until the whey is a distinct and fairly clear liquid. If after a minute or two it doesn't seem to be doing much add a couple more tbsp of lemon juice.

  4. Place your cheese cloth/muslin/tea towel in a sieve or colander and carefully pour the curds and whey mixture into it. You're aiming to catch the curds (those are the solid bits) in the cloth and for the whey to run through. You might want to keep the whey in a jug in the fridge as it can be used as an alternative to stock.

  5. Gather the cloth together and holding the curds in it, wash them under running water for a minute or two.

  6. Press the curds together in the cloth and then either place a heavy weight on the cloth (to press into a block), use a cheese mold (as I did) or tightly twist the end of the cloth/tea towel to squeeze the curds into a tight ball.

  7. Leave for at least 30 minutes for the curds to set into a solid lump and then enjoy the cheese.

  8. It should keep for a day or so in the fridge, but it's best used after a couple of hours.

Makes about a 200g block of paneer.

Sunday, 4 October 2009


Some people might think that this is an odd combination, but the creamy texture of the custard goes wonderfully with the coconut of the Malibu. You won't be disappointed if you try this, although you might get mocked for trying.


  • 1 tin of ready made custard, supermarket 'value' brands are good

  • 2 shots of Malibu or other coconut liqueur



  1. Divide the custard between two microwave proof mugs and place the mugs in the microwave.

  2. Microwave on full power for a minute, stir and then microwave for another minute.

  3. Add a shot of Malibu to each mug and stir well.


Friday, 2 October 2009

Mushroom and Courgette Curry

A simple curry which is flexible enough to replace the mushrooms or courgettes with any other vegetables you have lying around.


  • 2 large field mushrooms, washed and sliced

  • 1 courgette, washed and sliced

  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed; or a squirt of garlic puree

  • 2 tbsp ghee or sunflower oil

  • 1 tbsp turmeric

  • 1 tsp fenugreek powder

  • 1 tbsp ground cumin

  • 1 chilli pepper, finely chopped

  • 150ml single cream

  • 40g almonds (or cashews), roughly chopped



  1. Put the ghee, garlic, mushrooms and courgettes in a pan and start to heat over a medium heat.

  2. Add the turmeric, fenugreek, cumin and chilli and stir well.

  3. Cook with a lid on for 10 to 15 minutes, stirring every few minutes to make sure it doesn't stick.

  4. When the mushrooms have started to darken pour in the cream and reduce the heat to a simmer.

  5. Simmer for 5 minutes and then add the almonds (or cashews) and stir well.

  6. Serve with freshly cooked rice.

Serves 2 to 3 depending on how much rice you provide.