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!

January Failure

Hello everybody,

so as it is apparent I have massively FAILED at keeping up this blog this month. This is mainly because:
1. The kids have been sick. Anyone with children can tell you that takes up all of your free time.

2. Work has been MENTAL so I've been working insane hours. Not looking like it's going to improve any time soon either...

I have some recipes in store to share with you guys, I'll get to them as soon as I can...



Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Camomile Avocado Face Treatment

I wasn't gonna post anything tonight because I have something reaaally special coming up tomorrow (hopefully), but then the following happened:
1. I think I have the flu but I really can't afford to be sick.
2. I'm sooo tired but I need to stay up to do some of the work from point 1.
3. I had what is commonly referred to as a horrid day.
4. The weather outside is frightful. But I don't have no fire to be delight-ful. 

So I decided to take an hour out and give myself a little home-made beauty treatment. All made out of delicious food things I had knocking about in the kitchen. So here it is. You could eat this (I'm not saying you SHOULD, but you COULD), and it made my skin so soft and happy I don't even care about any of the things in points 1 to 4.

You need:
1 pot of water with 4 camomille tea bags
1 tablespoon boiling hot water
1 avocado pear
1 cup of yoghurt or cream
1 tablespoon honey
optional, two slices of old cucumber

Wash your face well, getting rid of all the makeup/dirt/oil.
Bring the water to boil and leave the camomille tea bags in there for about 10 minutes, until the water has cooled off a little. Put a towel over your head and breathe over the hot pot of steaming camomile tea for 10 minutes. 
This will make you feel AMAZING. It will open your pores and let all the gunk out, mousturise your skin and also massively relax you (it's camomile tea after all!). You could do this alone and feel better about life already! Also, it's really wonderful for your sinuses if you have a cold. 

Then cut the avocado pear into tiny cubes, put them in a bowl and mash them up really well. Add the hot water to make a puree, then add the honey and the yoghurt to make a mask. This mask is wonderful, it's moisturising but won't clog your pores or give you problems with blemishes or anything like that. Just slap it on your face (stay away from the eyes!) still all warm and flustered from the camomile tea and wait for about 10 to 15 minutes. Then rinse it all off. On your eyes, you can put two cucumber slices for the full SPA effect, or just two of the camomile tea bags (cooled off under a bit of chilly water!). Or if, like me, you have to keep an eye on some bouncy little people, leave the eyes uncovered and open for the Green Monster Effect.

This is magic. I love it. It makes your face look and feel wonderful, refreshed, rejuvenated and thoroughly cleansed. It makes YOU feel like a better person already, and up to any challenges you might face. 

Do you guys like these mask recipe things? Would you like to see more? 

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

Foodie New Years Resolutions

Here we are with a New Year. I have got a whole bunch of brilliant cookbooks for Christmas/New Years/my birthday - what I'm most excited about is, of course, the massive Nigella's "Kitchen" book, which for some obscure reason I didn't own already. I also got an exciting book about cream desserts and truffles which looks very promising (and has goooorgeous pictures).

So, here I go with my foodie resolutions for 2012:

1. Eat more healthy stuff
This is a classic. Strangely enough, it has never been in my New  Year's resolutions. But I feel I'm getting to the age where I ought to pay attention to what I eat. I'm not really a massive fast-food person (I never ever eat at McDonalds) but I get my fare share of excess chocolate, red meat and dodgy sandwiches at work. So for 2012 I'm thinking of doing at least 1 vegan dinner a week (I'm not vegetarian or vegan in any way, shape or form, but sticking to vegan kinda crosses out all the unhealthy stuff) and make myself nice massive salads to take to work from lunch, along with a couple of crunchy apples and othe rhealthy snacks to munch on instead of chocolate/supersalty peanuts/pork scratchings. I'll let you know how that goes and what vegan/vegetarian recipes I come up with. 

2. Take pleasure in cooking when my man is not at home

I don't normally cook fancy, but when I cook dinner for us two (which is most nights) I pride myself in being able to put together something fun, tasty and not too unhealthy. When The Man is out of the house, however, I change routine completely. Healthy protein-vegetable-carbs family dinners turn into bowls of pasta-pesto, frozen pizza and suspicious cheese toasties. Why? I'm lazy, and that's basically all there is to it. Well, this year no more of that. It doesn't take much longer to put together a chicken and leek risotto than it does some shabby pasta with jar-sauce, and it's so much healthier, tastier and more fun. I'm quite looking forward to finding one-person solutions that don't just entail cooking a normal amount and then heating it up for four nights in a row. 

3. Plan my meals better

We have a freezer, thank God, but I hardly ever use it aside from storing frozen peas/spinach/pizza and ice cream. Every now and then I fantasise about opening it and finding a neat set of boxes full of frozen healthy meals, home made pasta sauce,  pre-made white chocolate chip cookie dough, but that has never been more than a fantasy. Well, I have had it. I always have loads of time to cook when there is nobody to eat what I'm cooking and resort to shabby gross alternatives when I'm going mental with work (see point 2). So there will be cooking at weekends, and filling up the freezer with things. I'm thinking cookie dough (who could live without), stir fry of various denominations, chilli con carne and baby potatoes, home made tomato pasta sauce and, of course, LITRES of chicken soup. 

4. Make more soup 

The Man doesn't like soup. Most don't. It's not he won't eat it, but I gain a sort of twisted, 1950s housewife like pleasure in serving something he'll REALLY like. So we don't have even nearly as much soup as I would like. Well, that's a shame because I love soup, most of my guests love soup, children love it and it's good for you. So this year (especially this winter) we'll be having a lot of soup. I am looking forward to it already. Vegetable soup (and now my mother isn't the cook of the house any more I get to take out the much hated courgettes and substitute broken spaghetti with the dreadful waterlogged couscous), chicken soup, broth, lentil soup...I'm excited already. I'll be sure to share some recipes with you guys! 

5. Cook more crazy stuff

Crazy stuff is fun. I like to serve very boring, traditional family meals but sometimes I really feel there is space to spice up my cooking life. With a brand new set of cookbooks and the internet at my fingertips, I will try. I will fail quite often, but I will try some of those fun dishes nobody makes for everyday eating anymore. Layered souffles, aspics, meringues etc. I might even use this as an excuse to have a few more dinner parties, which I would be happy about (nothing fancy, but having freinds over for dinner instantly makes my week brighter, even if we're just having gnocchi bake with salad). Look out for those in the upcoming months!!

Here they are. Let me know what your thoughts on the matter are, what are your resolutions and how you spent your New Year's Eve!!


Sorry I fell off the face of the Earth!

Sorry for the poor updating, these are being really terrible days. I have A TONNE of work to do and still so many family and friends around for the whole Holiday-thing. 

There's a really exciting Chicken and Peppers Aspic coming up soon, and maybe a couple of healthy veggie recipes for the New Year...let me know what you guys want to see next, mid-January onwards I should be able to start answering requests!!