Sunday, 7 October 2012

Cake disaster rescue

It is the unsavory truth of every kitchen and life: things fail. Cakes fail: they break as they get out of the tin, they get overbaked and try or underbaked and gooey and all sorts of drama. This has literally just happened to me with a delighful triple chocolate cake I was going to serve up tomorrow as an end to a mexican feast we are throwing together for a few friends moving into town.

So, here I am with an underbaked cake that broke down on me just as I trie to get it out of the tin. Which was really, really infuriating given it's a beautiful silicone tin with a pretty pattern that I got out for the occasion. Here is what I did.


Your failed cake.
Half a tub of vanilla ice cream (or any other kind of ice cream that you think would complement the flavors in your cake)
Half a cup of lemon juice
Half a cup of chocolate chips
Half a cup of dried cherries

Mix the ice cream with the juice, the chocolate chips and the cherries. If you are salvaging non-chocolate cake you can change what to put into your ice cream. For example, if you were salvaging a plain sponge, some chocolate ice cream with half a cup if rum and some raisins would be nice. A lemon drizzle cake would be nicely complemented by lemon juice and candied violets with white chocolate chips. You get the idea.

Spread a thick layer of slices of your failed cake at the bottom of a cake tin (ideally silicone, but regular will do). Cover every inch of the bottom, cramming in crumbs to cover up small holes. 
Cover the cake up with the ice cream forming a uniform thick layer. Cover this layer of ice cream with a second layer of cake. The crucial thing is that you don't leave any gaps, so make sure you don't cut too thick layers. 

Put in the freezers. The ideal would be to leave it alone for 12 or 24 hours, until it is completely frozen solid.

When it is time to serve, tip it upside down and decorate as you wish. Whipped cream, chocolate chips, fresh fruit, anything you like. 

Mmmmh. And nobody will know.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Home made cereal bars

And so it begins. No time for snacking, breakfast, making some sort of healthy treat for the kids to bring to school, no time for anything... well THESE cereal bars take to time to make and no time to eat, whilst being delicious all the same!

4 cups of musli or granola or you favourite cereal. Instant porridge oats work very well.
1/2 cup dries cherries
1/2 cup chopped up dried apricots
1/2 cup pecans
(or any other fruit and nut combo that you like)
1 cup Golden syrup
1 cup of liquid honey
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups hot water from the kettle
optional: white chocolate, about 50 g

In a large heat resistant bowl, mix the Golden Syrup and teh honey with the hot water and stir until you obtain a homogeneous consistency. Add the vanilla extract. Add the dried fruit, the nuts and the cereals and stir it all in. 
Grease very well a rectangular baking tray (or use a sylicon one, they are really wonderful!) and pour the mixture in whilst it is still liquidy. Set it for about 15 minutes, then pop it in the oven for 15 minutes at 140°C (it just needs to dry thoroughly).
Get it out and, whilst it is still hot and in the tray, cut the loaf into rectangular bars with a sharp knife.

Melt the white chocolate and drip it all over your bars to give them a more polished look. Once they are cool, remove them from the tray. I wrap them up in individual rectangles of kitchen towel and store them in a tin container (in the fridge if it's hot). Not that they need storing ofr long...

You can also add chocolate chips, dried coconut flakes, different tupes of dried fruits and nuts, anything that tickles your fancy!

What are your ideas for quick and easy snacks? Do you like cereal bars? Let me know in the comments below!!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Fluffy egg deliciousness

This is quick and delicious. 

4 eggs
3/4 cup of grated cheddar
3/4 cup grated Leicester cheese
400 ml milk
1 cup instant mash flakes
3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
2 tablespoons of spread butter

 Separate the eggs whites and yolk. Mix the yolk with the cheese, milk and mash flakes. Mount the whites until they are solid and you can cap-size the bowl without them falling out. Fold in the yolk/milk/mash/cheese mixture.

Spread a small baking tray with the butter and coat in breadcrumbs. Pour the mix in and level it nicely. 

Pop in the hot over (180C) for 20 minutes, the pull out and dig in...mmmmh, delicious!

This is my standard home-alone dinner, with a nice side of asparagus or green beans. It's SO fluffy you wouldn't think it were possible for something cooked to be that soft. 

What is YOUR favourite egg recipe? Let me know in the comments below! 

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Instant tomato soup

When kids are hungry, they need to eat. not in an hour, not in half an hour. NOW. Which is the main reaosn why people end up feeding them so much unhealthy stuff.And the reson why I have devised this quickfix with all thing you have at home already, that will save your life in the winter especially.

1 jar of basil tomato sauce
150g rice
1,50l boiling water from the kettle

Pour the jar into a large saucepan, put on the fire and add the water. Add the rice and leave it to boil for 10 minutes.


I know, incredible right? Of cours,e this is not just for kids, but also for busy students, busy mums, busy people in general. Or hungry people. Or people learning how to cook. Or teenagers. Or anyone really.

Things that you might have at home you might add to feel less guilty about how delicious this is:
1 cup of frozen peas
any chopped up veggies: spring onion, yellow peppers, onion
old shredded chicken cut into tiny pieces

If you don't have any rice at home, you can use:
broken down spaghetti or rice noodles (boil for however long it takes for the pasta to cook). 
smashed pasta: put whatever pasta you have in a zip up plastic bag and mash it with whatever you have (rolling pin, book, hammer).
cubed boiled potatoes: boil then for 10 minutes
cubed raw potatoes: boil for 20 minutes

The sky is the limit!

What are your instant-supper tricks? How do you deal with having no time and wanting to feed everyone yummy healthy food?


Every family has its own rituals in times of crisis. In my family, women make gazpacho. It takes no time (if you have a food processor, but honestly, who doesn't), and chopping it all up WILL make you feel better. Guaranteed. Also, this is delicous and has VERY few calories, whcih is great for nervous appetite, preggie munchies and comfort eating. When I was pregnant I guzzled down litres of this to keep my weight under control and it worked wonders.

12 very ripe red tomatoes
1 onion
1 cucumber
2 sweet red bell peppers
2 stalks of celery
1 tablespoon fresh chives
3 cloves garlic
1/2 cup white wine vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
juice of 3 limes
1 teaspoon dried chilli pepper (admittedly my "preggie munchies" recipe has A LOT more chilli than this - people kept telling me how bad it was until I pointed out it might be bad, but it's SO much better than munching on chocolate bars/kebabs as so many pregnant women do). 

Peel the cucumber, get rid of the stringy bits of the celery. Chop all the vegetable sup and put them in the food processor. Blitz until it is as smooth as you would like it (I like it a bit chunky, but my mom's version is mor elike a smoothie). Add all other ingredients. Blitz again. Pour in a jug and keep in the fridge.

Thsi is served by putting a thick slice of bread at the bottom of your bowl (the bread should be stale and toasted) and pouring the gazpacho over it. Wait for a few minutes for it to seep though the bread an then dig in, it will have aquired a delicious spongy consistency that makes it chewy but not gross at all. This is a great entree for a summery dinner party, followed by stuffed courgettes and home-made pineapple icecream.

Granted, you could just put this in a glass and eat spoonfuls of it as it is. Incidentally, kids LOVE this. Which is great because with one bowl they've gotten all their coloured vegetables for the day (which are full of good things and vitamin C).

What were your worst preggie munchies? Did you try to get around them or did you give in?

Onion Soup

Onion soup is anothe rhouse favourite. The kids don't like it (with the exception of my niece, who demands it with passion every time she hears we're having soup for dinner), so it's our grown up treat for late dinners on the couch. Accompany this with a nice Camambert and very hot French Bread nad you've got yourself a treat!
1 litre of beef stock. You could make your own, but let's face, the one out of a carton is just fine. Turns out vegetable stock is also fine, so if you're a veggie or you're just trying to be healthy that works, too.
0,5 litres of water
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 kg of brown onions
1/2 teaspoon salt

Slice the onions really thinly. Heat up the oil in a large pan, add the onions and fry for about 20 minutes. Then increase the heat and keep them frying hard for another 20 minutes, until they become sticky and all caramelised (aaah, the tempation of just spreading this on French bread and having it as it is...mmmh). Stir continuously here or it's gonna stick, inevitably.

Add the stock and the water and the salt. Simmer for 20 minutes.
And BAM, you are ready to serve. This is great for dinner parties (especially if you are having a bit odf a "french" theme), family dinners, cheese evenings and so forth.  

What is your favourite soup? Would you care to share your recipe with me? Are you a noodles or a croutons person?

Sickness Chichen Soup

I make this in batches. It's comforting for the body and the spirit and perfect for illness/stressed out times/long and cold winter nights spent working. My children wouldn't dream of having the flu without this, and to be honest neither would the man of the house :p So of recent I've made soo much of this I don't even need to look at the recipe any more. Here goes - I hope it brings as much warmth to your heart as it brings to mine.

400g chicken wings
3 litres of water
1 leek
1 onion
1 carrot
4 sticks of celery
3 nests of dry rice noodles (you can use rice if you prefer)
1 cup of peas, fresh or frozen
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ginger 

Wash the chicken wings reeeally well with hot water. Put them in a large saucepan and add the onion cut in half (with the skin still on), the carrot and the celery. Cover with the water and get boiling. I boil this for about 4 hours, but you can probably make do with 2.

Fish the chicken and the vegetables out and set the pot (covered) out of the window (or in the fridge). You can choose to chop the vegetables up in tiny dice and and add it back to the broth or not. I normally add the celery and the onion and thow away the carrot, but it's up to you. Shread the meat off half the chichen wings and cut it in fairly small pieces. 

Cut the leek into small stripes (the smaller the pieces the better). Take the broth out of the fridge (make sure it's been at least half an hour) and remove the fat from the top. It's going to look like a layer of yellowish foam floating above the broth. Yes, it's gross but think that if you take it out you won't have to eat that. I pick it out with my hands but if you're squeamish you can just use a spoon. 

Add the leaks, the vegetables (if you're adding them) and the peas and let the whole thing boil up for an extra half hour, at which point add the chicken bits and the noodles. Season with the salt and the ginger. To make this children-friendly (and let's face it, I'm not too bright either when I have the flu and still need to work) break the noodles down into sections of a couple of inches each. Boil up for 5 minutes (ot however long your noodles require) and serve nice and hot in big bowls. 

An alternative version of this has fresh egg noodles and yellow peppers and leek instead of the boiled vegetables (it's the Man's favourite). 

St down in front of some TV (bad TV for you, BBC Life for the kids) dig your spoon into the delicious simple nutritioness of the broth and enjoy!!!

ps. If your kids are too too sick to keep down solid food, the simple broth is perfect. Don't add anything to it, and leave it in the fridge for much longer before taking the fat off (it will allow for more fat to come to the surface and therefor eit will be lighter and easier to digest). It's delicious, nutritious and is very very likely to stay down and calm down even the most upset of stomachs. 

What is YOUR favourite sickness/comfort food? Let me know in the comments below!