Saturday, December 22, 2012


I am such a Christmas traditionalist, I make the same Christmas cake, and puddings year in, year out.  This keeps the family happy, but isn't great for blogging purposes!

This year I tried a new mince meat recipe (I know - how daring of me!!!), I think I got the original idea from a Lotte Duncan T.V. show, but have tweaked it quite a bit - and I think it's good.  It tastes great (pretty essential) but also, it is easy to put together and it is low fat (we won't mention the pastry that's going to be wrapped around it!!).

Mince Meat
(most popular eaten from the jar!!)

500g        sultanas (I used golden)
500g        raisins
100g        candied peel
250g        dark brown sugar
250g        light brown sugar
4 tbsp      orange marmalade
1 tsp        mixed spice
1 tsp        cinnamon
1/2 tsp     grated nutmeg
150 ml     dark rum
150 ml      brandy
Juice and zest of two oranges

Sterilise a large jar (or a few smaller ones)

Chop up the mixed peel, and add to a bowl with the other fruits.
Add the rum, brandy and orange juice, and allow to absorb for an hour or 10.
Add the rest of the ingredients and stir well.
Place in the sterilised jars and HIDE.*
Use in mince pies, cakes and ice-creams.

*My first batch mysteriously disappeared!!

Happy Christmas to you all - thanks a million for sticking with me, it's much appreciated.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I first made this cake back in September, when I was full of the "new school year, time for fresh copy books and fresh starts" vibe.  By now the copies are tatty the diet has died but this cake is still delicious,  and I must admit it still feels good to grab a second (or third) slice, without any diet qualms.

We tried the cake with and without the icing, and there was a unanimous decision that without was better - not often you can say that!  The cake is moist and has a rich chocolate taste - no need to add to that.  The recipe comes from Ellie Krieger's "The Food You Crave".

Ellie's Mocha Cake

3/4 cup               wholewheat flour
1/2 cup               white flour
1/2 cup               cocoa
1/4 tsp                salt
1 tsp                   bicarbonate of (bread) soda
1 tsp                   baking powder
2 tbsp                 butter
2 tbsp                 flavourless oil (I used groundnut)
2                        large eggs
2                        large egg whites
1 1/2 cups          fat free yogurt
2 tsp                   vanilla extract
3/4 cup               sugar
1 tbsp                 instant espresso powder, dissolved in 1 tbsp hot water
60g/2oz              70% (or higher) chocolate - melted

Preheat oven to 180 C
Line a 9x13 in cake tin with baking parchment

Combine the flours, cocoa, salt, bread soda and baking powder together.
Whisk the melted butter and oil in a (separate) large bowl.
Add the eggs (whole and whites) to the butter and whisk.
Fold in the yogurt, sugar, coffee and melted chocolate.
Gradually add the flour mixture, and stir until just incorporated being careful not to over beat.
Pour the cake mixture into the prepared tin.
Bake until a skewer comes out clean - about 25 - 35 minutes.
Allow to cool on a baking rack.

Enjoy without a trace of guilt!!

Wednesday, December 5, 2012


These days I have so little time to potter in the kitchen, I want to get maximum bang for a minimum time buck (I have a feeling I'm sounding a bit like Jamie Oliver here!!!).  This french toast gives me bang (well great taste really) by the bucketload - it's a Nigella recipe, from Express, and I can't understand why it has taken me so long to try it - I suppose it looked just a bit too easy to bother with.

It is hard to imagine how the addition of just one ingredient can transform an old regular - but man oh man, one teaspoon of vanilla paste (or extract) makes all the difference, this is a "special treat breakfast", a "cheer me up supper", a "I don't have the energy to make a proper meal, but still want to serve something healthy meal", and this time of the year, it really is the perfect "I am so tired of heavy meals and chocolates option".

I love to serve the toast with berries, fresh or frozen depending on budget and time of year, but I always serve it with Glenisk Greek Yogurt (and I should admit much more than I used in the photo, I thought I shouldn't look like too much of a piggie!!).  I know I've mentioned this product before (and I'm not on their payroll) but it is so worth a try - it is thick, creamy and utterly delicious.

French Toast To Be Proud Of

2          eggs
2 tbsp   whole milk
2           slices of bread, it's best to use thickly sliced bread which is slightly stale
2 tsp      vanilla paste (I love this stuff, but 4 tsp vanilla extract would be excellent too)
1 tbsp    caster sugar
              butter and oil for frying

Beat the eggs with the vanilla.
Soak the bread in the egg mixture, allow to absorb it all.
Heat a knob of butter with some flavourless oil.
Fry until golden.
Sprinkle with the sugar (Nigella dredges the toast in sugar at this stage, but that would be too sweet for me)

The perfect treat for two people.