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Hot cross bun and butter pudding

15 Apr

hot cross bun and butter pudding

Comfort food is having a bit of a moment around here, which makes sense. And things don’t get much more comforting than bread and butter pudding.

This one is made with a six-pack of hot cross buns that were inexplicably overlooked on Easter weekend. Continue reading

Chocolate chip cookies

13 Apr

chocolate chip cookies

This is a truly excellent chocolate chip cookie recipe. One of the things I like best is how a modest list of ingredients produces such a stellar result.

Even before these locked-down days, I’d come across a recipe with 250g best-quality chocolate, 4 eggs, two types of sugar, and bag of M&Ms thrown in for good measure, and think “of course that’s going to taste good – it’s a bunch of rich, sweet things mooshed together.”

We’ve made these chocolate chip cookies with plain and self-raising flour (no baking soda), wholewheat, and on one occasion khorasan flour. Dark chips, light chips, butterscotch chips or chopped baking chocolate. Whatever nuts we have on hand, or no nuts at all.

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Microwave banana pudding

13 Apr

microwave banana pudding

Microwave banana pudding has been a little spot of brightness in these worrying days, scratching a sticky toffee pudding itch we hadn’t known was there.

We’ve made this recipe from the BBC Good Food website four times in the past three weeks. It’s a great way to use up old bananas, takes 15 minutes start to finish, cooks while you have dinner, and tastes fabulous.

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Bran bread

15 Nov

bran bread

I love the simplicity of this bran bread recipe. All Bran, dried fruit and milk is left to soften before being mixed with some flour and baked for an hour.

It is essentially a baked bowl of soggy cereal, but what a difference that baking makes.

The resulting loaf is toothsome, moist and flavourful. “It’s like a cross between malt bread and Christmas cake,” my daughter said, and she’s spot on.

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Spiced plum muffins

21 Oct

spiced plum muffins

I make bran muffins most weekends, but occasionally I mix things up with lemon poppyseed or spiced plum muffins.

Plum and ginger always work well together. I love the extra hit the preserved ginger brings, but they are also nice without it. Continue reading

Anzac biscuits

25 Apr

Anzac biscuits

Eaten on April 25 (Anzac Day) to commemorate the sacrifice made by Australian and New Zealand soldiers, Anzac biscuits can be crispy, chewy or crunchy depending on the balance of brown and caster sugar.

This recipe hits the sweet spot between crispy and chewy, which makes them an excellent biscuit choice for homemade ice cream sandwiches.

It’s important to use whole rolled oats – not the instant ones – otherwise, the biscuits spread too much in the oven. Continue reading

Lemon poppy seed muffins

14 Jan

I almost always make muffins for breakfast on Saturday morning.

For years, my go-to recipe has been these blueberry bran muffins, but in last few months lemon poppyseed muffins have been giving them a run for their money. Continue reading

Pita bread

1 Oct

pita bread

Despite doing a science degree at university (or maybe because of it), I find regular moments of magic in cooking.

Egg whites stiffening into peaks, eggs and oil transforming themselves into mayonnaise, sugar melting into caramel – these things bring me genuine, uncomplicated pleasure.

Watching pita breads blowing themselves up like little balloons through the glass door of the oven is another one.

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Turkish bread

29 Jul

Persian naan

Whenever I eat in a Turkish restaurant, I resolve not to stuff myself with Turkish bread and dips leaving no room for my main course. And invariably fail…

The bread is fresh, warm and pillowy soft, the dips so creamy, garlicky, and moreish, it’s almost impossible to resist.

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Cornish pasties

13 Jul

Cornish pasties

I’ve gone for Cornish pasties to represent England in this year’s World Cup cook-off.

Yes, it’s a shameless crowd-pleaser, but I suspect that England needs all the help it can get – both in the kitchen and on the pitch.

Strictly speaking, if it’s not made in Cornwall, it’s not a Cornish pasty.

But if I’d made these in Penzance instead of London, I think they might pass muster.  Continue reading

Fainá

12 Jul

faina

Fainá is a thick pancake (or flatbread) made of chickpea flour – and not much else.

It’s baked in a pizza pan in a hot oven, emerging crispy on the outside with an eggy-creamy interior.

Apparently, Uruguayans like to top their pizza slices with a wedge of fainá.
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Basler leckerli

10 Jul

basler leckerli

There’s something gingerbready about basler leckerli – despite the absence of ginger. And something Christmassy too, with the cloves, nutmeg and mixed peel.

So they weren’t my first choice for our World Cup cook-off, but the thought of eating cheese fondue in the sweltering heat tipped it in their favour.

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Kanelbullar (cinnamon rolls)

7 Jul

Swedish kanelbullar are more wholesome than the Canadian cinnamon buns I grew up with –  smaller, more bready, less sticky and sickly-sweet.

I was surprised at how well the citrusy cardamom stood its ground against the cinnamon sugar. All in all, a very satisfying thing to eat.

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Tarte tropézienne

6 Jul

tarte tropezienne

I first discovered the marvellous tarte tropézienne on a family holiday in Provence.

Queueing in the local bakery, I noticed several of the customers ahead of me were choosing what looked like a large, cream-filled hamburger bun.

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Lamingtons

21 Jun

lamingtons

Australia looks a strong contender in this year’s World Cup cook-off with their offer of lamingtons.

A delicate chocolate-coconut exterior conceals a substantial cake centre. Kind of like Giggs and Beckham on either side of Roy Keane, back in the day…:-)

The first time I made lamingtons was for an Australia Day celebration. I didn’t notice the advice about baking the cake a day in advance, and had a torrid time of the dipping and rolling.

There was much language and attrition, but the lamingtons I managed to produce met with our Aussie friends’ approval. Continue reading

Soparnik

16 Jun

soparnik

I’ve yet to visit Croatia, but I’ve heard wonderful things about the food. So I feared my version of soparnik had done the Croatians a disservice in our World Cup 2018 cook-off.

In this Dalmatian classic, a simple filling of chopped greens, onions and garlic is pressed between two thin layers of pastry and baked until golden and crisp.

It sounded lovely, but the first bite was a little underwhelming. But as it sat a little longer, pastry and filling merged into a more cohesive whole, the pastry softened and the flavour emerged. Continue reading

Salmon quiche

24 Feb

salmon quiche

Salmon quiche is something I think to make when I have leftover cooked salmon hanging about or a couple of fresh fillets that need using up.

I tend to make my own pastry, but with a sheet of ready-rolled, it’s five minute’s work to turn out this dish.

A superior lunchtime centre-piece for not much effort at all…

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Seedy bites

12 Feb

seedy bites

This recipe for seedy bites is actually more of a template. I pulse some rolled oats for a base, then add whatever I’ve got in the fruit and seed department.

When the mixture resembles damp sand, I pack it into the mini-muffin cups and bake for ten minutes.

They are a bit soft when they first come out, but as long as I let them cool completely in the tin, they firm up nicely.

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Quiche Lorraine

3 Jan

quiche lorraine

There is so much mediocre, mass-produced quiche on offer that I’d forgotten how delicious quiche can be when made at home with quality ingredients. Continue reading

Pumpkin bread

14 Nov

pumpkin bread

Unlike Halloween Thanksgiving still isn’t a thing in the UK. I still like to observe it, and each year we have a Thanksgiving meal with the same family friends.

I’m Canadian and they have American roots, so we diplomatically set a date between the start of October and end of November. We take turns hosting, and the travelling family brings the pies.

Tinned pumpkin still isn’t readily available in the UK, and on several occasions I’ve made my own purée from squash or sweet potato before baking the pumpkin pie.

Now that the Internet era upon us, I can order pumpkin purée online. This year I picked up an extra tin so I could  make pumpkin bread. Continue reading

Jamaican patties

20 Oct

Until last year, we had a corner-store/deli where I’d occasionally treat myself to a Jamaican patty for lunch.

Since it closed, I’ve been going without my patty fix, until it occurred to me that I could make my own.

Delicious warm or cold, Jamaican patties are great in a packed lunch or as an after-school snack. Having experimented with different fillings, curried beef and squash & corn are the clear family favourites. Continue reading

Savoury sacristains

12 Oct

sacristans

Sacristains are made by spreading a sheet of pastry with something tasty, slicing it into strips, then twisting each strip before baking. I usually make them when I have puff pastry to use up.

Sacristains can be savoury or sweet. These are made with tapenade, but I’ve made sacristains with pesto, mustard and grated cheese, sundried tomato paste, Nutella, cinnamon sugar… Continue reading

Raspberry meringue roulade

18 Sep

Raspberry meringue roulade

I’ve seen recipes for meringue roulades over the years, but assumed they were well beyond my baking abilities. My efforts to produce a passable Swiss roll were hardly confidence building.

But finding myself with a quantity of egg whites that needed using, I decided to give it a go.

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Fruity bites

6 Sep

fruity bites

The girls head back to school this week. As well as uniform shopping, label sewing, and form filling, it also means stocking fridge and pantry with packed-lunch-friendly food.

First up in the biscuit box this autumn… fruity bites.

Healthy (if you overlook the condensed milk), nut-free (coconut is permitted in our school’s “nut-free” zone), and durable enough to withstand a bit of lunch box rough and tumble, fruity bites fit the bill.

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Cheese and mustard palmiers

24 Aug

cheese and mustard palmiers

Savoury palmiers, my penultimate Great British Bake-off challenge…

If I’d gone to the effort of making my own puff pastry like the contestants did, these would have been a challenge. Using store-bought puff pastry, they’re a doddle. Continue reading

Blackberry-apple kuchen

12 Aug

Blackberry-apple kuchen

The blackberries are ripening early this year. I gathered two big bowlfuls this morning, plenty for a delicious blackberry-apple kuchen.

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Tomato, olive and feta galette

27 Jul

Tomato, olive and feta galette

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

And when life takes away the cucumber you need to make Greek salad, make tomato, feta and olive galette?”

Not as catchy, but the principle is the same. Plus, it’s how this recipe came about…;-) Continue reading

Spanakopita

15 Jul

Spanakopita

Food dislikes are often arbitrary. Like many children, I held both spinach and feta cheese in low regard. But folded into a crackling jacket of phyllo pastry as spanakopita? I was all over those puppies. Continue reading

Fruit pizza

27 Jun

fruit pizza

What I knew as fruit pizza growing up I recognise to be a pretty standard fruit tart.

Maybe it’s because the biscuit base was cooked in a pizza pan? The sweetened cream cheese we spread on top? Or the thinly sliced toppings (kiwi, grapes and berries rather than pepperoni, mushrooms and olives)?

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Gingersnaps

2 Jun

Gingersnaps

As a university student, spent a couple of summers working with a treeplanting crew in northern BC. Back-breaking piecework (we were paid 10 cents a tree), it involved dragging panniers of trees up a recently logged slope, stopping every couple of metres to stick a seedling in the ground.

Up before 6am after a lousy night’s sleep in a freezing tent, a bone-jarring ride in the back of a crummy, ten hours relentless physical labour, another tooth-rattling ride, a shower if you were lucky, dinner, and bed.

Loading up the crummy

Ten – maybe fourteen days straight – before we got a day off to visit the nearest town. Lots of people didn’t last a weekContinue reading

Pork, chicken and cranberry pie

29 May

Pork and chicken pie

In the excitement of last year’s Great British Bake-off,  I rashly committed to baking all of the signature bakes.

Each week, I watched with growing dread to see what overambitious baking project I’d have to tackle next. I was fine with the drizzle cakeiced biscuits and Yorkshire pudding,  and managed to turn out a passable chocolate babka.

But the thought of making Danish pastries from scratch stopped me in my tracks for months.

However, I’m nothing if not an “completer-finisher” (eventually)… Since the show ended, I’ve gone on to make lemon meringue pie and Swiss roll. And at long last… pork, chicken and cranberry pie.

Strictly speaking, I seem to recall the brief was individual meat pies, but it seemed simpler to make one large pie instead.

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Chocolate sugar cookies

21 May

Chocolate sugar cookies

Chocolate sugar cookies aren’t on the decadent, gooey, indulgent end of the chocolate spectrum. They’re simple, satisfying, and slightly old-fashioned.

Chocolate sugar cookies are firm with just a bit of give – the addition of baking powder giving them a subtle cakiness. Adam describes them as “chocolate pudding in a biscuit.”

Because they keep their shape so well, chocolate sugar cookies make excellent filled biscuits – or little ice cream sandwiches. Continue reading

Carrot cake-muffins

5 May

Sometimes it’s hard to know where muffin leaves off and cupcake begins…

Is it the method – a brief stir with a wooden spoon, instead of using a food mixer? The nod towards “healthiness” – wholewheat flour, oil instead of butter, fruit instead of chocolate chips, going au naturel instead of sporting icing?

These carrot cake-muffins don’t do much to resolve the issue. Muffin by method and ingredients, the end result is so delicious it feels disingenuous to consider them a breakfast food.

And that’s before you add a generous spreading of the optional cream cheese icing..;-)

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Hot cross buns

15 Apr

Hot cross buns – once an Easter-time treat – are available in the shops all year round.

I suppose it’s old-fashioned of me, but I prefer foods keep to their allotted place in the culinary calendar. Something special to enjoy at a particular time of the year – I don’t want mince pies in May, or hot cross buns in August.

The supermarket was selling four hot cross buns for less than a pound this week, so why go to the trouble of making them at home?

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Carrot and sunflower seed energy balls

10 Apr

I haven’t really bought into the whole energy ball idea.

For starters, I’m anti-snacking – I’d much rather my family brought a good appetite to their meals.

Secondly, energy balls always seem to contain nuts, which rules them out for school lunches. In any case, they also seem to require storing in the fridge (or what, they melt?)

Thirdly, I’d rather eat the nuts, dates and whatever as they come, without first blitzing them into sticky mush. Continue reading

Coconut Nutella squares

12 Mar

coconut-nutella-squares

I practically never buy Nutella – it’s not a good fit with my “processed-food-avoiding, cook-from-scratch” approach to feeding my family.

So having reluctantly agreed to buy a jar for the pancake breakfast following a special sleepover, I was keen to use up the rest before the girls started thinking of Nutella as a store-cupboard staple.

These coconut Nutella squares from the Hungry Mum website were just the ticket. Unfortunately, they were such a big hit with everyone, I can see myself buying Nutella specially in order to make them again.

Or I could have a go at making homemade Nutella…;-) Continue reading

Swiss roll

27 Jan

Swiss roll

It took a few tries before I got the knack of making a Swiss roll, and could tick the next item on the Great British Bake-off signature bake list.

A few things I learned the hard way:

  1. Unless you whip eggs and sugar together until they have tripled in volume, your sponge will resemble an omelette in texture. (That one went straight in the bin.)
  2. Do not over-cook the sponge, or it will not roll without cracking. (I converted that one into a flat, mangled Victoria sponge.)
  3. Do not over-fill the sponge (or spread the filling too close to the edges) – all that extra filling just oozes out the end of the roll (and was dolloped on top when I sliced and served it.)

The fourth one worked like a charm…;-) Continue reading

Date squares

19 Dec

date squares

Each December I faithfully reproduce the traditional family Christmas baking, and each year the ghost of Christmas past haunts my efforts.

The shortbread, cherry slice, butterscotch fudge and nanaimo bars are never as good as I remember them tasting in my childhood.

The only exception to this slightly depressing state of affairs are the date squares. Continue reading

Lemon meringue pie

24 Nov

Lemon meringue pie

Next on my belated list of Great British Bake-off signature bakes is a classic lemon meringue pie.

Where I grew up, most restaurants (at least the kind my family ate in), had at least three types of pie on offer.

Apple, cherry, blueberry, pumpkin, raisin, bumbleberry, saskatoon, rhubarb, pecan, peach… I’d happily order any of them, but if lemon meringue pie was on the menu, they wouldn’t get a look in.

After reviewing several recipes, I settled on this one from The Great British Book of Baking, which was published to accompany the first series of the Great British Bake-Off.

Sweet shortcrust pastry, a tangy lemon filling you could stand a fork in, and pillowy French meringue – it looked and tasted like the lemon meringue pie of my childhood. Works for me.

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Danish pastries

15 Nov

danish-pastry

I was genuinely intimidated by the thought of making Danish pastry from scratch. So much so that it knocked my Great British Bake-off cook-a-long right on the head.

But one of the things children excel at is reminding you of those promises you’d just as soon forget, and there was no way I was getting out of this one.

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