Friday, 16 March 2018

Deliciously Sticky Gingerbread

Deliciously Sticky Gingerbread
A deliciously sticky and spicy ginger cake – brings back childhood memories of family Sunday teas.

Serves 10

Prep time:  10 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

225g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground mixed spice
115g unsalted butter, chilled and diced
115g golden syrup
115g dark treacle
115g dark brown muscovado sugar
275ml milk
1 free range egg, beaten


1.    Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/350°F/Gas mark 4.
2.    Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, ginger, cinnamon and mixed spice into a large bowl.  Add the butter and rub into the flour with the tips of your fingers until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs.
3.    Pour the treacle and syrup into a small pan and melt gently until runny and then set aside.
4.    Put the sugar and milk into another pan and gently heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.  Set aside until lukewarm then whisk the milk into the flour mixture followed by the treacle mixture and then the egg.  Mix all together until you have a thick batter just like double cream.
5.    Pour into a 900g loaf tin about 26cm x 13cm x 7cm, greased with butter and lined with grease proof paper.  Bake in the oven for 45 minutes or until a skewer put into the centre comes out clean.  Leave to cool then remove from the tin and wrap in foil for at least a day before cutting it.  The bread will get stickier the longer you leave it.

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Cod & Chorizo with Orzo

Cod & Chorizo with Orzo
A tasty and very easy dish to make!  Cod & Chorizo, what a beautiful combination...

Serves 4
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 10-30 minutes

200g orzo pasta
225g cod fillet, skinless & boneless
Freshly ground salt & pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
200g chorizo, chopped
½ tsp smoked hot paprika
90g roasted red peppers (from a jar), cut into strips
3 tbsp fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped
½ lemon, juice only


1.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C/390°F/Gas mark 6.

2.  Bring a large pan of salt water to the boil and cook the orzo per packet instructions, drain and set aside.

3.  Season the cod with salt & pepper.  Heat an ovenproof frying pan and add 1 tbsp olive oil and fry the cod for 1-2 minutes on each side and place in the oven for 3-4 minutes.

4.  Remove the fish from the oven and flake onto a plate.

5.  Heat a pan until hot and then add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the chorizo and fry for 2-3 minutes or until all the oils are released from the chorizo.  Using a slotted spoon, remove the chorizo and set aside.

6.  Add the orzo and smoked paprika to the pan, stir well to coat in the oil and cook for 1-2 minutes then add the roasted peppers, cod and chorizo.  Mix well and season with salt and pepper to taste and then stir in the lemon juice and parsley.

7.  To serve, spoon onto warm serving plates.

The BEST Five Spice Pork Spare Ribs

The BEST Five Spice Pork Spare Ribs
These have to be the BEST Spare Ribs I have tasted. They melt in your mouth...absolutely delicious!

Serves 4
Prep time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

For the spareribs:
750g pork spareribs
600ml groundnut (peanut) oil

For the marinade:
1 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp Chinese black rice vinegar or cider vinegar
2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp corn flour

For the sauce:
2 tbsp finely chopped garlic
2 tsp five-spice powder
3 tbsp finely chopped spring onions
3 tbsp Chinese rock sugar or granulated sugar
3 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
150ml chicken stock
1½ tbsp light soy sauce
2 tbsp dried grated orange peel
85ml Chinese black rice vinegar or cider vinegar


1.           Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl and place the spareribs in the marinade for about 25 minutes at room temperature. Remove the spareribs from the marinade with a slotted spoon.
2.           Heat the oil in a deep-fat fryer or large pan. When the oil is very hot and slightly  smoking, slowly brown the marinated spareribs in several batches until they are brown. Drain each cooked batch on kitchen paper. (Leave the cooking oil to cool. Strain it through a filter if you want to re-use it when cooking pork.)
3.           Put the sauce ingredients into a clean wok or frying pan.
4.           Bring the sauce to the boil and then reduce the heat. Add the spareribs, cover and simmer gently for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5.           Skim off any surface fat, turn onto a warm serving plate and serve at once.

Cooks Tips
·         If necessary, add a little water to the sauce to prevent the spareribs from drying up.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

The Best Irish Beef Stew

The Best Irish Beef Stew
This has to be one of the best Irish stews, this may not be the most traditional recipe but it is certainly one of the tastiest!

Serves 6

Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time:  2 ½ hours

2 tbsp olive oil
900g stewing steak (lean but not too lean)
6 large garlic cloves, crushed
1 litre of beef stock
250ml of Guinness beer
250ml of fine red wine
2 tbsp tomato puree
1 tbsp sugar
1tbsp of fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
2 bay leaves
50g butter
1.5kg potatoes, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped
500g carrots, peeled and chopped into ½ inch pieces
Freshly ground salt & pepper to season
2 tbsp fresh parsley, finely chopped

1.  Heat half of the oil in a heavy based large pan on a medium heat.  Season the beef and fry half the beef until brown all over.  Put aside the browned meat and repeat with the remaining beef.  Add the garlic to the browned meat and sauté for 1 minute.

2.  Add the beef stock, Guinness, red wine, tomato puree, sugar, thyme, Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves.  Stir the mixture and bring to boil and then reduce the heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stir occasionally.

 3.  In the meantime melt the butter in another large pan on a medium heat.  Add the carrots, onion and potatoes and sauté the vegetables until golden, this will take around 20 minutes.  Set aside until the meat has simmered for 1 hour.

4.  Add the vegetables to the beef.  Simmer uncovered until the beef and vegetables are very tender, this will take about 1 hour.  Remove the bay leaves.  Transfer the beef stew to a warmed serving dish, add salt and pepper to taste.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve.

Cooks Tip
*  The stew can be prepared up to 2 days in advance and stored in a sealed container in the refrigerator.

Friday, 9 March 2018

Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie

Chicken, Ham & Leek Pie
An absolutely delicious and succulent chicken & ham pie - when you need something warm and comforting after a long day, there’s nothing like a proper British pie!

Serves 4-6
Prep time:   15 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour

450ml chicken stock
3 chicken breasts, skinned
75g butter
2 leeks, trimmed and cut into 1cm slices
2 garlic cloves, crushed
50g plain flour
200ml milk
2-3 tbsp white wine
150ml double cream
150g piece thickly carved ham, cut into 2cm chunks
sea salt flakes
freshly ground black pepper
500g pre-prepared short crust pastry
1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze


1.   Place the chicken stock into a lidded saucepan, add the chicken breasts and bring to a low simmer.  Cover with the lid and simmer for 10 minutes, remove the chicken and place on a plate.  Pour the stock into a jug and set aside.

2.   Melt 25g of the butter in a large saucepan over a low heat, add the leeks and fry gently for two minutes, stir occasionally until softened. Add the garlic and cook for a further minute and then add the remaining butter and stir in the flour as soon as the butter has melted. Cook for 30 seconds, stirring constantly.

3.   Gradually pour the milk into the pan, just a little at a time, stirring well between each pour.  Slowly add 250ml of the reserved stock and the wine, stirring until the sauce is smooth and thickened slightly. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook for 3 minutes.

4.  Season the mixture, to taste, with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove from the heat and stir in the cream. Pour into a large bowl and cover the surface of the sauce with cling film to prevent a skin forming. Set aside to cool.

5.  Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C Fan/Gas Mark 6. Put a baking tray in the oven to heat.
Portion off 250g of pastry for the lid and roll the remaining pastry out on a lightly floured surface, turning the pastry frequently until around 5mm/¼in thick and 4cm/1½in larger than the 23cm/9inch pie dish. Lift the pastry over the rolling pin and place it gently into the pie dish. Press the pastry firmly up the sides, making sure there are no air bubbles. Leave the excess pastry overhanging the sides.

6.  Cut the chicken breasts into 3cm/1¼in pieces. Stir the chicken, ham and leeks into the cooled sauce. Pour the chicken filling into the pie dish. Brush the rim of the dish with beaten egg. Roll out the reserved pastry for the lid.

7.  Cover the pie with the pastry lid and press the edges together firmly to seal. Trim any excess pastry.

8.  Make a small hole in the centre of the pie with the tip of a knife. Glaze the top of the pie with beaten egg and place in the refrigerator for 15-20 minutes.

9.  Bake on the preheated tray in the centre of the oven for 35-40 minutes or until the pie is golden-brown all over and the filling is piping hot, enjoy!

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Orange & White Chocolate Cake

Orange & White Chocolate Cake
A fantastic light orange and almond sponge covered in a delicious white chocolate topping

Serves 10
Prep time 30 minutes
Cooking time 40 minutes

175g butter, softened, plus extra for greasing
175g golden caster sugar
4 oranges, zest of 4, juice of 1
4 eggs, separated
100g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g ground almonds

For the topping
200g white chocolate
200ml creme fraiche
100g white chocolate, to decorate

Preparation method

1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C Fan/Gas Mark 4.  Grease two 20cm sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment.

2. Place the sugar into a large bowl and add the butter and orange zest, beat until the mixture is pale and fluffy then add the egg yolks.  Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and fold through lightly.  Then fold through the almonds and orange juice.  

3. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until they can hold their shape.  Now fold through a third of the egg whites into the cake mixture.  Repeat with another third and then the final third.  Try not to over mix the mixture otherwise you will lose the lightness.

4. Divide the cake mix between the 2 cake tins and bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 5 minutes and then remove and leave to cool on a wire rack.

5. For the topping, place the chocolate in a bowl and melt over a slightly simmering pan of water and leave to cool.  In a separate bowl whip the crème fraiche until it is thick then fold through the white chocolate.  Place one cake on a serving plate and spoon half the icing onto the cake and top with the other layer of cake.  Spread the rest of the icing on top then allow to set in the fridge for at least one hour.

6.  To decorate the cake, melt the remaining chocolate and spread thinly over a baking tray.  Leave to set in the fridge then use an angled knife blade to scrape chocolate curls.  Pile the curls in the middle of the cake.  Cut into slices and enjoy!

Wednesday, 7 March 2018

Three Cheese, Caramelised Onion & Potato Pie

Three Cheese, Caramelised Onion & Potato Pie
This stunning cheese pie is perfect for a mid-week meal and tastes absolutely scrumptious, pure comfort food at its best!

Serves 4-6
Prep time:   20-30 minutes
Cooking time: 1 hour 15 minutes

30g butter
2 medium onions, peeled, thinly sliced
1 tsp salt
2 tbsp caster sugar
950g potatoes, peeled, thinly sliced
140g crème fraîche
4 tbsp double cream
100g mature cheddar, grated
100g Stilton, crumbled
100g Gruyère, grated
freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp grated nutmeg
500g pre-prepared puff pastry
1 free-range egg, beaten, to glaze


1.   In a large frying pan heat the butter and add the onions, salt and sugar, fry for 5-6 minutes until the onions begin to caramelize.  Remove from the pan and set aside.

2.  Meanwhile, cook the potatoes in a large pan of salted boiling water for 8 minutes, drain and then set aside.

3.  Preheat the oven to 220°C/200°C Fan/Gas Mark 7.

4.  Mix the crème fraîche, cream and cheddar in a small bowl. Mix together the Stilton and Gruyère in a separate bowl.

5.  Layer one quarter of the potatoes, a third of the onions and a third of the Stilton/Gruyère mixture in the bottom of a large pie dish. Sprinkle with a little freshly ground black pepper and grated nutmeg.

6.  Repeat, working from the outside of the pie dish into the middle to achieve a domed effect, seasoning as you go, then pour over half the cream/cheddar mixture. Repeat this step then cover the filling with the remaining potato, ensuring none of the cream mixture is visible.

7.  Roll out the pastry so it is larger than the pie dish.  Cut strips from the side of the pastry.  Brush the rim of the pie dish with egg wash and place the strips around the rim of the pie dish and cover with egg wash.  Cover the pie with the pastry, using a folk press the edges of the pie.  Use any off-cuts of pastry to decorate the pie then brush the top with the remaining egg wash. Cut a small cross in the top of the pie to let the steam escape.

8.  Place the pie in the oven and cook for 30 minutes then reduce the oven to 180°C/160°C/Gas 4 and bake the pie for another 30 minutes or until golden-brown, enjoy!

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Chicken & Spinach Balti

Chicken & Spinach Balti
A deliciously tender chicken curry which is very simple to make – perfect for a mid-week meal!  Popeye would love this dish!

Serves 2
Prep time:  15 minutes plus up to 1 hour to marinade
Cooking time: 20 minutes

For the marinade
2.5cm/1in fresh ginger, peeled & finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled & finely chopped
1 lime, juice only
½ tsp ground coriander
½ tsp chilli powder
½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 pinch of salt
2 chicken breasts cut into bite-sized pieces
75ml natural yogurt

For the curry
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 red onion, peeled & finely sliced
2 tomatoes, seeds removed & finely chopped
1 tbsp tomato puree
Splash of water
75ml double cream
150g baby spinach leaves

To serve
Small handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped
100g Basmati rice, cooked as per packet instructions


1.  Place all the marinade ingredients into a bowl and mix thoroughly so that all the chicken is fully coated.  Cover the bowl with cling film and place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 15 minutes but ideally 1 hour.

2.  For the curry, in a large pan heat the oil and fry the onions for 2-3 minutes until softened.  Add the tomatoes and tomato puree and gently cook for a further minute.

3.  Add the chicken including the marinade with a splash of water.  Pour in the cream and leave to simmer for 15 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked through.

4.  Add the spinach and mix through until it is fully wilted.

5.  Serve the curry with the rice and a sprinkling of coriander, enjoy!

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings

Individual Sticky Toffee Puddings
A truly delectable dessert, the perfect pudding for a chilly day! The sponges can be made in advance and frozen to make this a hassle-free dessert.

Makes 8
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes

175g pitted dates, chopped
300ml water, boiled
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
50g unsalted butter, softened
175g caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
210g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the sauce:
250g unsalted butter
300g soft brown sugar
400ml single cream

Preparation method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 160°C Fan/ 350°F/ Gas mark 4. Grease eight 200ml mini pudding ramekins, line each base with a circle of baking parchment.

2. Place the chopped dates into a bowl with the boiling water and bicarbonate of soda and set aside.

3. In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs gradually, mixing continuously. Now fold through the sifted flour with the dates and their liquid and vanilla extract.

4. Divide the mixture between the eight ramekins and place onto a baking tray. Place in the oven for 25 minutes.

5. Meanwhile prepare the sauce, put the butter, sugar and cream into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

6. Remove the puddings from the oven and turn out onto a lined baking tray. Spoon over half of the sauce, place in the oven for a further 5 minutes. Now place the individual puddings into dessert bowls and serve with the remaining sauce.  Enjoy!

Friday, 2 March 2018

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toast

French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toast
A classic soup - superbly warming and satisfying for a wintry evening

Serves 4
Prep time:  15 minutes
Cooking time:  1 ½ hours

60g butter
700g medium white onions, peeled & sliced
2 tsp caster sugar
2 garlic cloves, peeled & crushed
1 tbsp flour
1.5 litres beef stock
1 bouquet garni (bay leaves, thyme & parsley)
275 ml dry white wine
2 tbsp cognac
Freshly ground salt & pepper

For the Gruyere Toast
4 slices of baguette, 2cm thick
2 garlic cloves, peeled 
225g gruyere cheese, coarsely grated

Preparation method

1.  Heat the butter in a large pan, when melted add the onions, garlic and sugar and cook over a medium heat.  Stir regularly for 20-30 minutes until the onions are really soft and well caramelized.

2.  Now add the flour, mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the wine and leave to simmer until it has reduced by half.

3.  Add the beef stock, cognac and bouquet garni, cover and leave to simmer for 30 minutes.  Remove the bouquet garni and season the soup to taste.

4.  Meanwhile preheat the oven to 150°C/Gas Mark 2.  Place the slices of bread onto a baking tray and leave them to dry out but not brown.  Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 220°C/Gas Mark 7.

5.  Rub ½ a clove of garlic over each piece of bread.

6.  To serve, place a slice of bread at the bottom of an ovenproof soup bowl and ladle the soup on top, making sure the onions and soup are evening distributed.  Cover the soup with the cheese, place the bowls onto a baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes until golden and bubbling.