Category Archives: Basic

Simple mushroom soup

25g butter

250g closed cup mushrooms, sliced

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/4 tsp salt

Pepper to taste

200ml white wine

400ml vegetable stock

100ml double cream

– Melt the butter in a medium sized pan. Add a small splash of olive oil to stop it catching.

– Add the mushrooms, garlic, salt and pepper. Cook until soft and browned.

– Add the white wine and vegetable stock.

– Blend with a stick blender until your desired level of smooth. (I like bits in my soup but if you want a totally smooth soup you’ll need to decant into a liquidiser and blend in that then resume cooking.)

– Bring the soup to a boil then turn down to a simmer.

– Add the cream and heat gently until the edges are bubbling.

– Serve hot with bread and butter.

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Filed under Basic, Easy, Gluten Free, quick, Starters

Japanese Egg Salad Sandwich

From time to time I find myself craving the food I had in Japan. Sometimes it’s the simplest of things, like this Japanese egg salad sandwich. Because even though you’d think there isn’t much wiggle room in how to make egg salad you’d be amazed what a difference a few little tweaks make. I think the biggest difference is that the egg is mashed, not chopped and the mayonnaise must by kewpie for a truly authentic taste. The pinch of salt adds that little je ne sais quoi that makes this run of the mill sandwich spectacularly moreish!

For one sandwich:

2 hard boiled eggs

2tbsp kewpie Japanese mayonnaise

Pinch of salt

Soft salted butter

Two slices white bread

– Put the eggs, mayonnaise and salt in a bowl and mash with a fork until there are no large chunks. You could even use a food processor to get it even smoother (some conbini do) but I prefer a little texture.

– Spread the bread with butter and add the egg mix. This should be a well filled sandwich! (Though factors such as egg size and bread size will affect it, you may find this makes two less well filed sandwiches if using smaller bread.)

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Filed under Basic, Easy, Japanese, quick

Salted Caramel Sauce

A very quick post today as I know some people are eagerly awaiting this recipe for Salted Caramel Sauce. It’s simple once you know how and absolutely amazing! I have had to restrain myself from simply eating it from the jar! 

Makes 1 jar

250ml double cream

1 cup granulated sugar

1tsp salt

– Pour the cream into a small pan and heat to just short of boiling. Turn off the heat and set aside. 

– Place the sugar in one flat layer in a large, heavy bottomed pan. You need it to be much bigger than you think as when you combine the ingredients it can bubble up and rise to nearly 10 times the height! Also, thin pans mean that the sugar may quickly burn as the heating is more intense. Heat your sugar on a LOW heat. It will take time (about 8 minutes to start to melt) but if you heat it too intensely then the sugar may burn and cause problems for you. Do Not Stir!

– Once about 8 minutes has gone by you should be able to see the sugar melting around the edges. At this point you can gently turn the sugar so the melted stuff on the bottom comes on top and the solid sugar on top gets to the bottom. Your sugar should be turning from white to golden caramel. Don’t rush, it will get there. 

-Once your sugar is all melted with no lumpy bits take it off the heat. 

– Pour half your hot cream into the sugar. It WILL bubble, spit and rise up. Stir vigorously the whole time. 

– When it has died back down pour the remaining cream in, remembering to keep stirring. It will usually rise and spit again. It will look like a lumpy mess. This is normal. 

– Return the pan to a low heat and keep stirring. The lumpy mess will slowly melt back in and you will get a smooth pale caramel sauce. This will probably take about 10 minutes. If you have any huge lumps it may take longer but they will eventually dissolve. You don’t want the mixture to boil so keep it on a nice low heat and it will get there! 

– When you have a nice, smooth sauce sprinkle over the salt and give it a good mix then pour into a heat proof container. 

– I store mine at room temperature but that’s because it doesn’t last long at all! If you plan to be more restrained in your consumption then you can keep it in the fridge but be aware that it will stiffen at a lower temperature. 


Filed under Basic, Desserts, For the Keen Cook, Gluten Free, Jams and Preserves

Banana Art!

A quick silly one for you this week as I’m concentrating on the fact that I will be running 5k tomorrow!!!  Donate Here!

Did you know you can decorate your bananas?

Banana Art!

It’s so simple!  Just take a banana and a blunt writing implement and trace your design on the skin of the banana.  Don’t press too hard and break the skin.  Leave for a few hours and the design develops into a brown ‘bruise’ on the skin as it oxidises.  Simple!

Excellent for labeling food or leaving notes or drawings in lunchboxes to bring a smile!

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Filed under Basic, Easy, Gluten Free, Low Fat, Teatime Treats

Soft Boiled Quail’s Eggs

I was feeling fancy the other week so when I spied quails eggs I grabbed them without any idea how to work them into my meal plan!  It occurred to me that for many quails eggs might be a bit intimidating, they’re tiny little things and you don’t really see them in the supermarkets so they’re a bit of an unknown quantity.  I love using them though!  For lack of any suitable dish in my menu plan that week I simply soft boiled these and scoffed them like Malteasers with a pinch of salt!  They can be tricky to peel so if you were to fancy serving them as a canape I suggest you at least get them started by peeling off half the shell.  Wet hands are the trick here, makes things a lot easier!

Soft Boiled Quails Eggs

Simply prick each egg with a pin in the larger end and place in boiling water for 2 1/2 minutes.  Remove from the water and either eat warm immediately or plunge into a bowl of cold water to stop them cooking further.  If you leave them to air dry then your egg will continue to cook and will become hardboiled.  Rapidly cooking the egg means they stop cooking and stay soft.  Peel the egg as you would any hard boiled egg, as I said above, wet hands really help here, those little shells can be stubborn! A tiny pinch of salt makes any egg sing and these are no different.  Enjoy!

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Filed under Basic, Canapés, Easy

Roast Beef

I have eaten many many roast dinners in my time but it is actually quite rare that I get to cook one myself.  So it was with great joy that an alignment of a bargain joint of beef and a free Sunday evening coincided to allow me to do my own roast beef for the first time!

Roast Beef

Now the roasting of a joint of meat is pretty simple.  It just involves a bit of maths!

You heat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190C and you work out how much your joint weighs in lbs.  (Take the kg weight and times it by 2.2)

Basic rules for cooking:

Rare: 20 minutes per lb + 20 minutes extra
Medium: 25 minutes per lb + 25 minutes extra
Well Done: 30 minutes per lb + 30 minutes extra

So, say you have a 1.5kg joint and you want it done medium.

1.5 x 2.2= 3.3 x 25 minute = 82.5 minutes + 25 minutes extra = 107.5 minutes

Therefore you cook your beef for 1 hour 45-50 minutes and Boom! Roast Beef!

Let your beef rest for 15 minutes or so before carving.

If you use a roasting dish that you can then apply direct heat to you can add boiling water, a beef stock cube and a few tsp cornflour mixed with a tiny splash of water and mix it all together on the heat for gravy. Stir it well scraping up all the meaty juices and allow to thicken over a medium heat.

Roast Beef


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Filed under Basic, Easy, Mains

Homemade Cottage Cheese and Ricotta

Guys!!!! I made CHEESES!!!!!!!!!


Sorry about that. I’ll try to contain my excitement.  I was so proud of myself for this one though!

I came back to my house after spending Christmas at my parents’.  I had planned to return before new year but plans changed.  I came back to discover a litre of milk about to go off… this seemed awfully wasteful!  I was racking my brain trying to come up with something to do with that much milk that would keep and remembered an ill fated attempt at making cheese previously.  It seemed like an excellent time to take another crack at it!

Turns out, making cheese is actually brilliantly simple!  You need:

~ 1 l Milk
2 1/2 tbsp Lemon Juice
1 tsp Salt

Cheese Making

Step 1: A big pan of Milk!

Cheese Making

Step 2:
Bring it to the boil. Little bubbles like lace around the edge are what you want. Remove from the heat. 

Cheese Making

Step 3: Add 2 1/2 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp salt. Give it a stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. The curds and whey will start to separate.

Cheese Making

Step 4: Tip it into a sieve over a large mixing bowl. Let it drain. KEEP THE LIQUID!

Cottage Cheese

Step 5: Tip your drained cheese into a container! You now have Cottage Cheese!

Cheese Making

Step 6: Tip the liquid back into the pan. Bring to ~200F/100C. The curds will start to separate again.

Cheese Making

Step 7: Tip into a reusable coffee filter/a sieve lined with cheese cloth over a bowl or jug.

Cheese Making

Step 8: Leave to drain. This may take some hours as the curd is finer so the holes are smaller.

Cheese Making

Step 9: On the top you have Ricotta!

Cheese Making

Step 10: And on the bottom you have your whey!

So, from one litre of milk you get two types of Cheese and a whole lot of Whey!  I will be sharing some recipes for what to do with your cheeses if you need some inspiration!  As for the whey, I’m told it makes an excellent addition to soups and risottos in place of stock but I haven’t tried it.  It’s an interesting cheesy kind of stock and I’m sure any cheese fanatic will go nuts for the addition of a subtle cheese flavour in other dishes.  I’m a bit picky about cheese so I confess, I’ve been giving it to Darcy to encourage him to eat his biscuits!  Two weeks of being spoiled at Granny and Grandpa’s has made him a very picky eater!

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Filed under Basic, Easy


Sodabread!  Ok, confession time: In a moment of new year  madness I decided not to keep bread in the house as it was too tempting and I am trying to cut back on refined carbs… well, that didn’t last!  I desperately needed a vehicle for the poached egg I was craving so as a compromise, instead of going out and buying a whole loaf of worthless white bread I whipped up this little loaf of sodabread.  It made me feel slightly more virtuous!  Its an excellent recipe to turn to in times of need and goes brilliantly with eggs, soup, pate and more!



1tbsp lemon juice
a scant 200ml milk
200g self raising flour
1tsp bicarbonate of soda

– Heat the oven to 180C/Gas4.
– Grease a small loaftin.
– Add the lemon juice to your milk and set aside.
– In a medium sized mixing bowl combine the flour and bicarbonate of soda.
– Add almost all of the milk to the flour, keeping a little in reserve.
– Give it a good mix around to make sure everything is combined.
– If the mixture is too dry add the remaining milk.
– Tip/scoop it into your greased loaf tin.
– Bake for 40 minutes.
– Remove from the oven and tip out of the tin, it should be floaty light and sound hollow when tapped on the base.
– Let it rest for 10 minutes or so before serving warm.
– Wrap any leftovers in clingfilm and try to eat it within 2 days.


Do as I say, not as I do! For reasons of rust I had to line this tin.  MISTAKE!  The lining stuck and stuck hard!



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Filed under Basic, Breads, Easy

Hasselback Potatoes

If you have ever set foot on Pinterest you will have seen these babies.  The humble hassleback potato.  And may be you’ve simply looked at them and thought “Yeah, not worth the effort for a potato.”  well, I’m sorry but YOU WERE WRONG!  These things are so very much worth the effort, and it is such a small amount of effort at that!


These potatoes are crispy and salty, soft and chewy, crunchy and pillowy and DELICIOUS!!!!!  They are all good things in potato form and what’s more, they look smashing too!


Makes… however many you want really!

1 large potato
olive oil
sea salt

– Take your potato and carefully slice into it so that you stop just shy of going all the way through.
– Slice every couple of mm along until the whole potato is done.
– Place on a baking dish and drizzle liberally with good olive oil.
– Scatter with a pinch of sea salt.
– Cook in the oven for 45 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
– Eat as a side, main, heck, make mini ones and do canapes!


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Filed under Basic, Christmas, Easy, Sides

Banana Maple Pecan Pancakes

My pancake day creation! I had two over ripe bananas left over from making banana muffins and they were praying on my mind. Then Shrove Tuesday rolled around and I had a pancake epiphany… Banana pancakes!

Then I started to mull it over more. Banana was good but what could make it better, Nutella? Well, yes, but what if I could make it even more awesome? My mind supplied pecans and then immediately jumped to my favourite Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavour, The Vermonster! Maple, pecan, caramel, yum! I wanted to bring the two together and so, Banana Maple Pecan Pancakes were born.

Makes 6

2 over ripe bananas
100ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
125g self raising flour
pinch of salt
1 tbsp maple syrup
50g pecans, chopped

– Get a pancake pan or shallow frying pan heating on the hob to a medium high heat.
– Take a jug and mash your bananas up with a fork.
– Add all of the ingredients apart from the pecans and mix well so you have a smooth batter.
– Grease your pan with butter.
– Pour 1/6th of the batter out for each pancake. The size of your pan will dictate how many you can cook at once. They should be about the size of a saucer.
– Scatter the pecans over the wet batter.
– When bubbles rise to the surface of your batter it’s time to flip your pancake.
– Continue to cook the pancake for another minute then remove from he pan and continue with the rest of the batter.
– Keep the cooked pancakes warm while you’re cooking the rest.
– Serve with lashings of maple syrup and, if you have it, I highly recommend Vermonster Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to finish it off!


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Filed under Basic, Breakfasts, Easy