Friday 1 April 2016

Two recipes for gingerbread from my mother’s archive

Dug out by Dad. I’m going to have to try them both and see which works best. I’ve preserved the Imperial measurements.

Ingredients for recipe 1:

Melt the butter, syrup, treacle and sugar together in a pan – not too hot.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, ginger and salt together in a bowl. Beat the egg together with the milk in another bowl.
Combine all the ingredients and pour into a greased loaf tin.
Bake for 45 minutes at gas mark 3 on a low shelf (that’s 160C in a conventional oven, 140C in a fan oven).


Ingredients for recipe 2:

Grease a 8 inch square tin (Mum’s notes say “or round”, but I’m not sure how that would work).
Warm the syrup, treacle, fat and sugar together in a pan until it dissolves together. Allow to cool.
Meanwhile, sieve the flour, bicarb and ginger together in a large bowl. Beat the egg and milk together in another bowl.
Make a well in the middle of the flour and carefully pour in the sugar/treacle mix. Then add the egg/milk mixture.
Beat the mixture until smooth and put into the tin.
Bake for 30 minutes at 325F (160 Celsius) and then reduce to 300F (150 Celsius) for a further 30 minutes.

Wednesday 15 April 2015

Sausages and lentils

Time for a recipe, inspired by Giorgio OnTheTelly. This is a tasty dish and also costs about 3p to make – rather fitting for our times.


In a casserole, heat the oil/butter over a medium high heat and fry one chopped onion (not the other one – keep that aside for a moment) with the carrot and celery until a little browned.

Then add the lentils and the stock and simmer gently for 30 minutes.

Whilst that is going on, fry the sausages in a pan until brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

Fry the rest of the onion until golden in a little more oil/butter. Add the passata to the onion until warmed  through. Return the sausages to the pan with the herbs and cook gently for 15 minutes.

Then, add the sausage/passata mixture to the lentil/vegetable mixture in the casserole and stir.

Serve with some crusty bread. You’ll find this remarkably filling.


Tuesday 4 February 2014

A recipe – spiced turkey-stuffed aubergines

Lifted shamelessly from the Waitrose magazine.


This makes enough for four people – or, as we tend to do, enough for two meals for two people (they keep in the fridge for a couple of days and re-heat nicely).

Per portion: 251 calories, plus the rice or couscous. It’s also low in saturated fat.




  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/gas mark 6.
  2. Halve the aubergines lengthways. Score a 0.5cm border around the edge of each half and scoop out the flesh. Finely dice the flesh and set aside.
  3. Brush the insides of the aubergine shells with a little olive oil, place on a baking sheet and pop in the oven for 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, heat half a tbsp of oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat. Cook the turkey for 5 minutes.
  5. Then add the onion, garlic and diced aubergine and cook for a further 10 minutes.
  6. Stir in the harissa paste, cinnamon and apricots and cook for a further minute.
  7. Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest and half the parsley. Taste and season if necessary.
  9. Fill the aubergine shells with the turkey mixture – there will be plenty to fill them quite generously.
  10. Return the shells to the oven for a further 5 minutes.
  11. Spoon half a tbsp of yogurt onto each one and sprinkle with the remaining parsley.
  12. Serve with rice or couscous. And possibly a glass of wine, although that rather ruins the virtuous qualities of this dish.


Friday 13 May 2011

Crème brûlée

By popular request, here is the recipe that I use for producing delicious home-made crème brûlée, lifted wholesale from Anthony Bourdain’s Les Halles Cookbook. Seriously, if you haven’t already got this book on your kitchen shelf, you need to get it. Now. It totally encompasses my approach to the kitchen – big flavours, big foods, big cookery, big swearing and big drinking – and is the most-used cookbook on our shelf. This dish, by the way, scores 10 on the impress-your-guests scale, as do many in the book. Most of the recipes are easy or require only moderate skills, but quite a few of them require a fair bit of time.

Amazon link: Anthony Bourdain’s “Les Halles” Cookbook: Classic Bistro Cooking


You will also need 6 or 8 ramekins, a big deep baking pan (or some other ovenproof dish that is at least an inch deep – you’re going to make a bain-marie) and a propane torch. You’ll need an electric whisk, large mixing bowl, sharp knife and a saucepan. Pre-heat your oven to 150 Celsius/300F/gas mark a-bit-less-than-half-way.

First, put the cream into a large saucepan on the hob. Split the vanilla pod along its length using a very sharp knife. Scrape the insides of the pod into the cream and then dump the pod itself in as well. Add half the granulated sugar to the cream, stir thoroughly and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.

Whilst your mixture comes to the boil, place the egg yolks into a large mixing bowl and whisk in the remaining granulated sugar. Keep whisking until the mixture is pale yellow and slightly foamy.

Fish the vanilla pod out of the cream and throw the pod away. Remove the cream mixture from the heat and slowly, gradually whisk it into the yolk mixture. You must do it slowly and whisk constantly, otherwise the mixture will curdle.

Place the ramekins in the baking pan and fill the pan with cold water so that it comes half way up the sides of the ramekins. Divide the custard mixture evenly between the ramekins.

Bake in the oven for around 45 minutes (I sometimes find it takes a little longer – depends on your oven), until the top is set but still “jiggly”.

Remove the whole thing from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature (take the ramekins out of the bain-marie as soon as they are cool enough to handle). You can store them easily at this stage – I’ve found that, once cooled and covered in cling film, they keep in the fridge for a couple of days. If you are planning a dinner party, be canny and do everything up to this stage the day before.

Sprinkle a generous tablespoon of brown sugar over the top of each custard. Carefully run the propane torch flame over the top of each one, just enough to caramelize the sugar (I like to leave a little sugar un-torched around the edge). Allow to sit for a moment so that the sugar sets into a crunchy shell coating across the top and then serve to applause and hooplas from your guests.

Now, what do you do with ten egg whites?

Friday 6 November 2009

Pan-seared tuna with avocado

This recipe shamelessly stolen from Eat This Book: Cooking with Global Fresh Flavours by Tyler Florence – a book of recent discovery (by chance) in this house, with excellent recipes on just about every page. It’s quick to prepare (about 30-40 minutes), darned tasty and looks good too – so ideal for dinner parties or for impressing people, although I think it makes a pretty good Friday night dinner too.


For the sauce/dressing:

For the main dish:


First, make the sauce/dressing. This is easy. Shove everything in a bowl. Stir. Got it?

Next, scoot your tomatoes around a griddle pan in a little oil until they are slightly seared and split. Plate them up with a portion of the rocket on each plate.

Then, add a little more oil if necessary and, over a medium-high heat, sear the tuna for a minute or so on each side. Then spoon over roughly a quarter of the sauce and cook for another minute or two. Turn the steaks over and add another quarter of the sauce (or one-third of what remains, if you follow my maths).

Plate up the tuna. Arrange the avocado pieces artfully around the plate and then spoon over the rest of the dressing in a tasteful fashion. Serve with a long cold drink (gin and tonic, good Belgian beer, whatever – you need something long, as the sauce/dressing has quite a kick to it, particularly if (as we did) you make the dressing an hour or so in advance and let the chilli get to work on the other sauce ingredients).

Definitely the best new recipe I’ve tried for a while. Not that I’ve tried many new recipes lately. With everything else going on around here (I’ll write about it somewhen), the cooking mojo hasn’t been what it was. We need to get that back.