Saturday, 22 December 2012

Christmas Stollen

This traditional Christmas cake is yeast based and so lighter than the usual rich fruit cake. This recipe is nice and straight forward to do if you have a bread maker, but still not too complex if you make it by hand.


  • 1 tsp fast action dried yeast
  • 350g strong white flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 1/3 tsp salt
  • 150ml milk
  • 1 large egg
  • 110g butter, at room temperature, cut into cubes
  • 25g almonds, finely chopped
  • 25g candied peel
  • 50g currants
  • 50g sultanas
  • 6 glace cherries, cut into quarters
  • 45g ready to eat apricots, cut into small pieces
  • 225g pre-made marzipan
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice


  1. If using a bread maker than add the yeast the bread maker pan first, followed by the flour, sugar and salt.
  2. Beat the egg in a bowl with the milk and add to the flour mixture.
  3. Add the butter, almonds and candied peel.
  4. If your bread maker has a nut dispenser which can add nuts later on in the process then place the currents, sultanas, cherries and apricots into that. If not then you'll need to fold these into the dough afterwards.
  5. Set the bread maker going on a dough with nut dispenser setting.
  6. If you're not using a bread maker then make the dough using the following steps:
    1. Put the yeast, flour, sugar and salt into a mixing bowl.
    2. Add the milk and egg.
    3. Kneed into a moist dough.
    4. Add the almonds and candided peel to the dough and kneed them into it.
    5. Leave it to rise in a warm place for an hour.
    6. Kneed the dough to knock some of the air out if it and then add in the remaining fruit and kneed well.
    7. Return to a warm place for a further hour.
  7. Once the dough is done pre-heat the oven to 190 degrees.
  8. Carefully roll out the dough so that it's about 1 cm thick, or at least large enough so that it's roughly a square covering the baking tray you are going to use to bake it.
  9. Put a sheet of greaseproof paper onto the baking tray.
  10. Use your hands to roll the marzipan into a long sausage shape which is almost as long as the rolled out dough.
  11. Place the marzipan in the middle of the dough and fold over the third of one side, followed by the third from the other side.
  12. Place in the oven and bake for 30 to 35 minutes. If the stollen is almost the size of your oven then it's probably worth checking it's cooking evenly after 20 minutes and turning it by 180 degrees if it's not cooking evenly.
  13. While the stollen cooks in the oven, mix the icing sugar and lemon juice with a knife until it's a spreadable icing consistency.
  14. Once it's cooked, let the stollen rest on the side for 5 to 10 minutes.
  15. Mix up the icing again with the knife to get it to be a bit more runny and then spread over the top of the stollen.
  16. Leave icing to set and for the stollen to cool.
  17. Enjoy slices of stollen with coffee or a glass of mulled wine.

Friday, 17 August 2012

Rich Fruit Cake

As long as you have the patience to bake this for as long as it needs then it's actually a very straightforward recipe. Combine this with the ability to buy pre-rolled marzipan and royal icing and it becomes simple to make a great looking cake.


  • 350g butter, at room temperature
  • 350g soft brown sugar
  • 6 large eggs
  • 400g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 cloves, ground (or 1/3 tsp if pre-ground)
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 150g almond flakes
  • 100g mixed peel, chopped
  • 100g glace cherries, chopped
  • 250g raisins
  • 250g sultanas
  • 600g currants
  • 6 tbsp brandy


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Cut a sheet or two of greaseproof paper so that it lines the side and bottom of your cake tin.
  3. Cut a sheet of greaseproof paper so that it fits on the top of your cake tin as a lid with a few cm of spare paper running down each side.
  4. Cream the butter and sugar together in a very large bowl with a spoon. You want a smooth butter and sugar mixture.
  5. Mix the eggs into the butter and sugar mixture 2 at a time. If you add them all at once then it can be hard to mix and keep the consistency.
  6. Add the flour, cinnamon and cloves on top of the mixture and stir slowly.
  7. Add all the rest of the ingredients apart from the brandy and mix until uniform.
  8. Pour into the lined cake tin.
  9. Place in the oven for 1.5 hours.
  10. Remove from the oven and carefully place the paper lid over the top. Tie a length of string around it to keep the lid on. This helps to keep the cake moist while it continues to bake. Be careful not to burn yourself on the cake tin though, as it'll be hot.
  11. Return to the oven for a further 2 hours.
  12. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake and remove it. If it comes out clean then it's cooked all the way through. If it doesn't then leave it for a further 15 minutes and re-test with the skewer. Depending on your oven you might need to do this cycle of testing and then waiting 15 minutes a few more times.
  13. Once cooked all the way through, remove from the oven and leave for a few hours to fully cool.
  14. When it's room temperature, carefully prick the top of the cake with a skewer and drizzle the brandy over it.
  15. Place the cake in an airtight container or cover with marzipan and icing before eating.
Makes a cake suitable for a 23cm square tin.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Barbecue Pizza

When I heard about the ability to cook pizza on a barbecue I knew I had to have a go. It works really well and gives the pizzas a strong smoky flavour. To get the cheese on top to melt enough then you'll almost certainly need a barbecue with a lid on it. Instead of a traditional tomato sauce, I went for a BBQ sauce style sauce to compete with the smoke flavour from the barbecue.


  • 1 quantity of pizza dough
  • 100g of kale, washed and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp brown sauce
  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp liquid smoke (optional)
  • 2 balls of mozzarella (about 125g each), thinly sliced


  1. Make the pizza dough as per the other recipe.
  2. Light your barbecue.
  3. In a saucepan combine the kale, brown sauce and sugar.
  4. Heat the kale mixture over a low to medium heat until it reduces down nicely. You might want to add a spoon or two of water to start with, but it should take about 10 minutes to reduce down to a thick sticky sauce.
  5. Mash up the kale mixture with a fork so that it's a spreadable sauce.
  6. Split the pizza dough into two balls and roll each one out on some boards or baking trays (to make transferring them to the barbecue easier).
  7. Slide one of the rolled out pizza bases onto your barbecue and cover with the lid.
  8. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the pizza base over.
  9. Before covering the base again, spread half of the kale over the top of it and then add on half the slices of cheese.
  10. Put the lid back on the barbecue and cook for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Remove from the barbecue and repeat the process with the other pizza base.
  12. Cut up the pizza, serve and enjoy.
Makes two pizzas, enough for 3 to 4 people.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Chocolate Biscuit Cake

This 'cake' doesn't require any baking and is full of chocolate goodness.


  • 200g unsalted butter, cut into squares
  • 300g dark chocolate, broken into squares
  • 2 tbsp golden syrup
  • 300g rich tea biscuits
  • 75g hazelnuts, roughly chopped into chunks
  • 75g raisins


  1. Put the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a bowl and place over a saucepan with some water in it.
  2. Bring the water in the pan to a simmer and use it to slowly melt the chocolate and butter together. Don't stir the chocolate mixture until it looks like it's mostly melted.
  3. Carefully and slowly stir the chocolate mixture until it's got the same consistency.
  4. Remove from the heat and put to one side.
  5. Meanwhile, place the rich tea biscuits in a large freezer/plastic bag. Place this bag inside another bag so that it doesn't matter if it breaks.
  6. Use a rolling pin to break the biscuits up into small chunks.
  7. Combine the biscuits with the chocolate mixture and add the nuts and raisins.
  8. Mix well.
  9. While the chocolate is still molten, pour it into a roasting tin or baking tray with high sides.
  10. Press down with a spoon.
  11. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours until it's all set.
  12. Cut into slices with a sharp knife and place into an airtight container.
  13. Once this has set there is no need to keep it in the fridge.
Makes 16 squares of biscuit cake.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Grated Carrot Fritters

The inside of these fritters goes nice and soft while the outside crisps up nicely in the pan. They go well on their own or as a side dish.


  • 1 leek, washed and finely chopped
  • 3 tsp sunflower oil
  • 6 carrots, washed, ends removed and grated
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp plain flour


  1. Fry the leek in a tsp of sunflower oil in a large frying pan until soft. Keep the pan around, as you're going to use it again soon.
  2. Put the leek in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients and mix well.
  3. Put the remaining oil in the frying pan and heat it up over a medium heat.
  4. Use your hands to form the carrot mixture into about 6 to 8 burger shaped pieces. Squeeze them with your hands to make sure they are compressed together.
  5. Fry for about 7 minutes on each side, or until nicely browned.
  6. Serve with some ketchup on the side.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Friday, 3 August 2012

Feta and Pepper Sour Dough Burgers

This is a simple and straightforward way of making some home-made vegetarian burgers. The only downside is that you really need to make the dough in the morning if you want this for dinner. If you can't find some sour dough starter then don't worry, you can create your own starter from scratch fairly easily.


  • 300g sour dough starter
  • 500g strong plain flour
  • 200ml warm water
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 sweet peppers, cut in half, stalks and seeds removed
  • 75g (about half a block) feta cheese, sliced lengthwise into 4 slices
  • 4 tsp tomato chutney or piccalilli


  1. Mix the sour dough starter, flour, warm water and salt in a large bowl.
  2. Kneed it with your hands once it starts to form a ball. You should kneed for 3 to 4 minutes. If it keeps sticking to your hands add a bit more flour and if it falls apart add a bit more water. After adding some water or flour it's worth kneeding for a minute or two as it can take a while for flour to absorb the water.
  3. Shape the dough into a large ball and cover the bowl with a damp tea towel.
  4. Leave to rise for 4 or 5 hours.
  5. Remove the dough from the bowl and kneed it for a couple of minutes.
  6. Divide into six pieces, roll each into a ball and then place on a greased baking tray.
  7. Cover and leave to rise for an hour or two.
  8. Pre-heat the oven to 220 degrees.
  9. Prepare the halves of the sweet pepper and lightly coat them in oil.
  10. Place the peppers on the baking tray with the bread and bake in the oven for 30 to 35 minutes.
  11. Remove the peppers and rolls from the oven and leave to stand for a couple of minutes.
  12. Cut open 4 of the rolls and fill each with a spoonful of the chutney, half a roasted pepper and a slice of feta.
Makes 4 burgers with a couple of rolls left over for lunch.

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sour Dough Friendship Cake

I got this recipe from my parents at the same time as taking a portion of their sour dough starter. The recipe called it "Herman, German Friendship Cake". If you can't find some sour dough starter then don't worry, you can create your own starter from scratch fairly easily.


  • 200g of sour dough mixture
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 225g plain flour
  • 160ml sunflower oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cooking apples, peeled and cut into bite sized pieces
  • 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
  • 100g raisins
  • 100g chopped walnuts
  • 2 heaped tsp baking powder
  • 2 heaped tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of salt
  • 50g dark brown sugar
  • 25g butter, thinly sliced


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170 degrees.
  2. Mix all the ingredients together apart from the dark brown sugar and the butter.
  3. Grease a large roasting tin with some butter.
  4. Pour the mixture into the roasting tin.
  5. Sprinkle the brown sugar and thinly sliced butter over the top.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes in the oven. Check that it's cooked all the way through before removing it. To do this just insert a skewer into the center and check it comes out clean.
  7. Leave to cool and then slice into squares.
  8. Store in an air tight container before eating. This can also be stored for months in the freezer.
Makes 16 slices.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Chestnut Roast

I got this recipe from a friend's blog and I think I have to agree that it's one of the best vegetarian roasts that I've ever had.


  • 6 medium sized mushrooms, finely chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp sunflower oil
  • 200g cashew nuts
  • 2 slices of white bread
  • 100g soft goat's cheese
  • 200g vacuum packed chestnuts or a 400g tin of chestnut puree
  • 1 tsp dried tarragon
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200 degrees and grease a small to medium sized roasting tin.
  2. Fry the onion and mushrooms in the oil in a large saucepan until soft.
  3. While the onion and mushroom are frying, put the bread, cashew nutes and chestnuts (if using whole chestnuts) into a blender and blend until finely chopped.
  4. Once the mushrooms have softened, add all the other ingredients to the sauce pan and mix well.
  5. Gently press into the greased roasting tin.
  6. Place in the oven and roast for 45 minutes to an hour.
  7. Serve with roast potatoes and Yorkshire puddings.
Serves 4.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Red Lentil Sheppard's Pie

I suppose this should probably be called a lentil farmer's pie as it's not got any lamb in it, but I'll always think of it as a vegetarian sheppard's pie.


  • 200g red lentils
  • 800ml water
  • 4 large or 8 small potatoes, peeled, washed and cut into 2cm pieces
  • 3 carrots, washed, ends removed and thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 4 tbsp port
  • 75g blue cheese, such as Stilton


  1. Put the red lentils and the 800ml of water into a large saucepan.
  2. Bring to the boil and leave boiling rapidly for 10 minutes.
  3. While the lentils are boiling, cover the potatoes in water in a separate pan and bring to the boil as well.
  4. Simmer the potatoes for 15 minutes or until they are soft.
  5. Meanwhile add the carrots, onion, port and salt and pepper to taste to the lentil mixture.
  6. Reduce the heat and simmer the lentil and carrot mixture for 20 minutes. Add a bit more water during this time if it starts to look a bit dry.
  7. The potatoes should be done now, so drain them and then return them to their pan.
  8. While still hot, crumble the blue cheese into the pan with the potatoes and mash it all together with a potato masher.
  9. Put the oven on to pre-heat at 180 degrees.
  10. Once the lentils are cooked, check they are soft by trying the mixture with a fork. If they are soft then transfer the mixture to an oven proof dish.
  11. Cover with the mashed potato and use a fork to spread it out into an even layer.
  12. Place on a baking tray (to catch any overflow from the pie) and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes.
  13. Serve while still piping hot.
Serves 4.

Friday, 20 July 2012

Egg Curry

When making an egg curry it's important to not make the sauce have too strong a flavour. If the sauce is very strong then it masks all the flavour of the egg, making it little more than some chunks of protein.


  • 2 onions, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 stick celery, washed and thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 chilli pepper, finely chopped and seeds removed (or leave the seeds in to increase the heat)
  • 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 tsp ground corriander
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek powder
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 hard boiled eggs, peeled and cut into eighths


  1. Fry the onions and celery in the sunflower oil for 5 minutes until they start to soften.
  2. Add the chilli pepper, spices and the chopped tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  3. Simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it burning on the bottom of the pan.
  4. Add the chopped egg and mix well.
  5. Serve with rice.
Serves 2.

Wednesday, 18 July 2012

Baba Ghanoush

This is a dip, sometimes called baba ganoush, is made using grilled aubergines. They develop a lovely smoky flavour when they are grilled.


  • 5 whole aubergines
  • 4 cloves of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 4 tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp tahini
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Pre-heat a grill on a medium-high heat.
  2. Place the aubergines on a baking tray with sides. Gently prick each aubergine neat the stalk and the end.
  3. Grill under the grill until the side goes from purple to maroon to blackened.
  4. Turn the aubergines as each of their sides is cooked.
  5. When all sides of the aubergines are cooked, remove from the grill and leave to cool.
  6. Carefully peel the burnt skin off the outside of the aubergine and put the soft juicy insides into a blender.
  7. Add the other ingredients and blend into a smooth paste.
  8. Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
  9. Serve with fresh bread or tortilla chips to dip.
Makes about 2 pints of dip.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Alcohol Free Trifle

This alcohol free trifle is quick and easy to make.


  • 100g swiss roll, cut into slices
  • 300g frozen raspberries
  • 1 packet of strawberry vegetarian jelly, enough to make 1 pint
  • 1 pint of fresh custard
  • 1 can squirty cream to top


  1. Line the bottom of a large bowl with the swiss roll slices.
  2. Cover with the frozen raspberries.
  3. Make up the jelly according to the instructions on the packet (this usually just means mixing it with some boiling water in a jug).
  4. Pour the jelly over the raspberries while it's still hot and liquid.
  5. Jiggle the bowl around to make sure that there aren't any air pockets.
  6. Cover and leave to cool for a couple of hours.
  7. Place in the fridge and chill for at least 3 hours.
  8. When you are just about to serve the trifle, pour the custard out onto the top and spread it out into an even layer.
  9. Finally top with cream and serve.

Serves 6.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012

One-pot Courgette Stew

This is a really simple to make dish but tastes fantastic. The cooking time gives the flavours time to develop and the tex-mex style spices compliment the slight sweetness of the tomato and courgette.


  • 4 courgettes, ends removed and diced into 1 to 2cm pieces
  • 125g tomatoes, cut into 1 cm pieces
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp dried coriander
  • 1 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 150ml single cream
  • 150ml water
  • a pinch of salt


  1. Place all the ingredients into a large pan and stir well.
  2. Bring to a simmer on a medium heat.
  3. Simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring every 10 minutes to check it's not burning on the bottom.
  4. Spoon out into bowls and consume.

Serves 2.

Friday, 6 July 2012

Oven Baked Beans

These taste so different from the usual tinned baked beans that I don't think they should really be called the same thing. I still like tinned baked beans, but the baked beans in this recipe are nicer, even if they do require more than 3 minutes in the microwave.


  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 3 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 cloves, finely ground
  • 1 tin (390g) of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 tsp garlic puree or 4 cloves of garlic finely chopped
  • 150ml water
  • two 400g tins of haricot beans (with a drained weight of about 220g each)


  1. Preheat the oven to 150 degrees.
  2. Fry the onion in the sunflower oil until it starts to soften.
  3. Add all the remaining ingredients, apart from the beans, and mix well.
  4. Bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
  5. Add the haricot beans to the tomato sauce and stir well.
  6. Transfer to a large oven proof dish.
  7. Bake in the oven uncovererd for an hour and a half.
  8. Enjoy with a fried egg or on some toast.

Serves 3 to 4.

Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Stilton and Walnut Sprouts

I was looking for an interesting thing to do with sprouts and heard about cooking them with bacon and blue cheese. This is my vegetarian version, replacing the bacon with the walnuts.


  • 400g sprouts, tough stalks cut off and dry outer layers peeled off
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 100g walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100g Stilton cheese, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Cut the sprouts in half and place in an oven proof bowl.
  3. Add the oil to the sprouts, season with salt and pepper and then mix around so it's all coated.
  4. Roast in the oven for 30 minutes. After 15 minutes take it out of the oven and mix it all around so that the sprouts on the top don't get too dry.
  5. After the 30 minutes is up remove from the oven and sprinkle the walnuts followed by the cheese over the top.
  6. Return to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
Serves 2 as a main or 4 as a side.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Leeky Welsh Rarebit

This is a slightly more complex version of cheese on toast. The leeks add a good flavour and texture to the topping.


  • 2 leeks, washed, tops and ends remove and thinly sliced
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 4 slices of bread
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 250ml hot water
  • 300g cheddar cheese, grated


  1. Fry the leeks in the oil in a large sauce pan until soft. This will probably take between 5 and 10 minutes over a medium heat.
  2. Toast the slices of bread in a toaster while the leeks cook.
  3. Once the leeks are cooked, add the water and stock cube to the leek mixture and bring to a simmer.
  4. Turn the grill on to high.
  5. Find a deep oven proof dish and place the slices of toast on the bottom of it.
  6. Add the grated cheese to the leek and stock mixture and stir until it's all melted.
  7. Pour the melted cheese mixture over the slices of toast and spread out so that the toast is well covered.
  8. Place under the grill and cook until the cheese on top is nicely browned.
  9. Serve immediately so that it's all still warm.

Serves 2.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Frying Pan Spaghetti with Olives

This is a quick and easy dish that only takes about 12 minutes to make. I first heard about cooking pasta in a little water and then using the starchy water as a sauce here. As well as being quick and simple, it also is rather tasty, so I think I'll be doing variations of this in the future.


  • 250g spaghetti
  • 600ml cold water
  • 75g grated hard cheese
  • 1/2 tsp ground blackpepper (or to taste)
  • 15 green olives, cut in half
  • 2 tsp capers


  1. Put the spaghetti into a frying pan, breaking it in half using your hands as you do. Doing the breaking over the pan allows it to catch any bits which fly off as it snap.
  2. Add the cold water and bring the pan to the boil over a high heat.
  3. As the water heats up you'll need to stir the pasta every so often to make sure it's not sticking to the bottom.
  4. Reduce to a medium heat and cook for 10 minutes.
  5. Continue to stir every couple of minutes while the pasta cooks. This makes sure it doesn't stick to itself or the bottom of the pan. When it starts to get softer make sure to mix the strands around so they aren't all in a line.
  6. Take the pan off the heat once the pasta is soft and cooked.
  7. Add all the remaining ingredients, mix well and serve.

Serves 2.