Sunday, 23 September 2012

popularity of posts

Out of curiosity I just looked at which posts are most read on this blog. The answer? Haggis Cottage Pie, at number one, and Gunpowder Sauce at number two.

Haggis Cottage Pie is a wonderful recipe, easy to make, economic too, colourful and tasty. The pepperiness of the haggis gets two lovely things to contrast with it, mashed swede (with carrot) and potato. It can be made in advance, which is most convenient, and still piped in! The only down side, for an exceptionally greedy person like me, is that it is extremely filling, and I like to eat a lot, which makes me end up resembling a haggis around the midriff, and having to sleep it off. I'm also told it goes well with whisky.

Gunpowder Sauce, or as I have renamed it, Peace Sauce, is a preparation to add to stir fries, to make them taste super delicious and extra authentic (she says, with no oriental credentials except slightly hooded eyelids). It's not just me, all who have tasted the dishes made with it say so too. It keeps in the fridge for around a week, but doesn't freeze. Worth a try if you like a stir fry. As for those who stumble across it, while searching for methods to blow things up, please, just cook a meal, and give up your violent ways.

Thank you to everybody who visits this blog.

Monday, 17 September 2012

chocolate and vanilla sponge marble cake

one of two cakes, and this is all that's left after a day
Marble cake, the mingling of vanilla with chocolate in random swirls. It looks fancy, tastes great, and is easy to make. Which is just as well, because I keep getting asked to make it. You need a little bit of organisation and two mixing bowls. I like making it in loaf tins, it's easier to slice, and I don't add any icing, there's enough going on without it. Maybe a light dusting of icing sugar, if you must.

I make a large batch, three good sized bread tins, lined with baking parchment. You spoon in some vanilla, followed by some chocolate and maybe a bit more vanilla, then you run a knife through it in a figure of eight. Don't stir it too much, it's nice if the two flavours aren't muddled up too much. The chocolate has a little spike of coffee, that makes it the perfect partner for a demitasse, or something longer if you prefer.


makes 3 large loaves - line three large tins with baking parchment (crumple it up thoroughly to make it sit into the tins, or use pre-shaped parchment

vanilla sponge
150g sr flour
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g fat, marg or butter
150g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
3 tbsp warm water

chocolate sponge
150g sr flour
50g pure unsweetened cocoa (sieved) including 1 tbsp instant coffee
1 tsp baking powder

200g fat, marg or butter
150g castor sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

3tbsp warm water

  • put all the ingredients for each sponge into two separate bowls
  • beat together the vanilla spone, until well mixed (I use an electric whisk), adding the warm water at the last moment
  • beat together the chocolate sponge until well mixed, adding the warm water last
  • put three spoonfuls, spaced apart in each tin of the vanilla mixture
  • fill the gaps with three spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture
  • keep adding more spoonfuls alternately, until the mixture is all used up
  • swirl a knife through each tinful of mixture in a figure of eight
  • cook for around 30m at 160 degrees, or until a skewer, inserted, comes out clean

best oriental coleslaw

If you like a fresh tasting salad, to eat on its own, or with a bbq, this straightforward recipe is for you. Quick to make, it has zing, freshness and a wonderful kick. And no fat. It is an oriental coleslaw, and I've just eaten a bowl that was still delicious after four days.

There's nothing more to say, apart from that everyone who tastes it loves it, and somehow there is never enough.

I like to add corn from a freshly cooked ear of corn, hot, to some salad that has been sitting for at least half an hour, letting the juices flow. The hot sweet crunch of the corn is a lovely clincher to the salad, and once it cools it is still a terrific addition.

Recipe - enough for four



  • 1/2 small white cabbage
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1/2 onion
  • 1 fresh red chilli
  • big handful fresh coriander
  • small handful fresh mint
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tbsp thai fish sauce
  • juice of 1 lime (enough for at least 5 tbsp)
  • 1 tsp sugar


  • finely shred the cabbage
  • peel and grate the carrots
  • finely dice the onion
  • crush and peel the garlic and chop finely
  • deseed the chilli and chop finely
  • finely chop the stems of the washed coriander and shred the leaves
  • take the mint leaves off the stems and shred finely
  • put everything in a bowl and add the fish sauce, lime juice and tsp of sugar
  • stir, mixing thoroughly
cook the ear of corn, in boiling water for 10m, then slice off the corn and add to the salad

Delicious. If I say so myself.

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

apple tart with stripes

a bunch of dessert apples and some boozy pastry made this tart a hit. To get the striped effect I lazily peeled one strip off the midriff of each apple, and then cut them into quarters, took out the core and cut each quarter into slices. The wandering look of the stripes came about because I mixed up the apples, so the peeled part aligned in a wobbly way with its neighbouring slice. I think I will try it again using a bit of cinnamon. I used my easy pastry, but it would work well with a packet of puff pastry, or any homemade variety of pastry. Give it a go, it's delicious and impressive.

Sunday, 2 September 2012

choc and hazelnut biscuits, or cookies if you like

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cookies

I've been looking for a good cookie/biscuit recipe for some time, and then I came across this one. Rave reviews all round, along with much overeating on the biscuit front. The secret ingredient, because I don't usually keep it in the house, is condensed milk.

Depending on how long you cook these biscuits they can either be crunchy on the outside with a chewy centre or crunchy all the way through. If you can't wait for them to cool you'll get gooey chocolate too.

This recipe makes about 40 biscuits, if you make the roll about two inches/5cm in diameter. If you don't want 40 biscuits, keep a roll of the dough in the fridge, and eat within a week.

225g butter or margarine
not very round dough...

225g caster sugar
6 tbsp condensed milk
350g self-raising flour
100g dark chocolate
100g hazelnuts

Chop the roast hazelnuts and chocolate to a size that suits you. If you leave them too large, they will make cutting the dough into slices harder.
Beat together the fat, sugar and condensed milk, until well mixed and pale
Add in the flour and mix thoroughly
Stir through the nuts and chocolate
Divide the dough in two, and make two rolls about 5cm in diameter – using baking parchment will make this easier – and chill for around an hour

20m before you are going to cook the cookies, heat your oven to 180C

Cut into slices slightly less than 1cm, say .6cm (joke)
Lay onto baking sheet lined with baking parchment, leave some space between them for spreading
Cook for around 15m or until golden brown

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Dolmades - stuffed vine leaves

Thanks to George, for a lovely evening making and eating dolmades. George never uses vine leaves kept in brine, so dolmades have a limited season in his house. The leaves he uses are not so palmate, they look more like a plain tree leaf, and he tells me that the grapes are small, red, and very sweet, so I think he may have a currant vine. The word currant comes from the French, raisin de Corinthe, or Corinthian grape. Whatever kind of vine it is, the leaves are less veined, and a better shape for wrapping the stuffing. I discovered that fresh leaves also have a slightly lemony taste, which really adds to the deliciousness of the dolmades.

Full recipe coming soon.

the vine leaves were blanched with boiling water

the stuffing is a mixture of beef and pork, with rice

the extra stuffing filled some tomatoes