Friends of mine are constantly sending me pictures of the delicious meals that they have been cooking. I do the same. There is a real sense of pride and achievement when you cook something which tastes and looks wonderful. Unfortunately, a lot of the time there is no one around to fully appreciate it! This blog is for people who want to share their culinary triumphs with everyone else. Email me the recipe and a photo of the finished product on

Thursday, 29 September 2011

Sticky toffee pudding cupcakes with a salted caramel frosting (Kasia Kirkland)

The future of British baking, Miss Kasia Kirkland has kindly shared her original cupcake recipe. This particular batch is for a Macmillan cancer charity coffee morning.

180 g dates, pitted and chopped
1 tsp vanilla extract
180 g self-raising flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
80 g unsalted butter
150 g muscovado sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten

For the caramel
3 - 4 tbsp dulche de leche
1 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract

For the buttercream
1 tsp vanilla extract
160 g butter
200 g icing sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/fan170ºC/gas 4.

2. Place the paper cases into a 12 hole cupcake tin.

3. In a heatproof bowl, pour 180ml boiling water over the dates and leave to soak
for 20 minutes. with a fork, gently break up the dates and stir in the vanilla.

4. Sift the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a bowl and set aside. Cream together
the butter and sugar for a good 5 minutes until very light and fluffy. Add the eggs
gradually, beating between each addition, slipping in 1 tbsp flour about halfway
through to prevent curdling.
Lastly, fold in the remaining flour and then the date mixture.

5. Spoon into the cupcake cases and bake for 15-20 minutes (the tops should spring
back when pressed with a finger). Remove and leave to cool.

6. Mix the dulce de leche with the salt and vanilla.

7. For the buttercream Cream the butter and icing sugar for at least 5 minutes with
an electric mixer and add the caramel or the dulce de leche.

8. Put the buttercream into the piping bag fitted with the star nozzle and pipe it
on to the cakes, or spread it on with a palette knife.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Spiced chickpea salad with mango yoghurt

This is a recipe from Mary Gwynn's new cookbook (aka my mum!). I made this for lunch today and it is bloody delicious. It requires no cooking and improves in flavour as it sits.

Serves 2-3

1 medium red onion, finely chopped
400g can chickpeas, drained
1 carrot, diced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
juice of 1 lemon
2 tbsp chopped fresh mint (parsley or coriander also go nicely)
2 tbsp mango chutney
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
salt and pepper

Mix the onion, chickpeas and carrot together in a bowl. Add the spices, lemon juice, mint and seasoning. Spoon into a serving bowl. Mix together the mango chutney and yoghurt and drizzle the dressing over the salad.

Serve with naan bread or pitta. The lovely Adie Towers served it as an accompaniment to a chicken curry and it went perfectly.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Tuna, Cannellini bean and White onion salad

Serves 2/3

400g tin of cannellini beans
200g of tinned tuna
1/2 white onion, finely chopped
2 hard boiled eggs, cut into 6 segments
small handful of flat lead parsley, roughly chopped
cherry tomatoes

Extra virgin olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
salt + pepper

Drain the cannellini beans and rinse them. Mix the tuna, beans, chopped onion, eggs, tomatoes and chopped parsley in a bowl. Pour the dressing over.

Serve with bread.

Victoria Sponge (Kate Towers)

3 eggs
7oz Caster Sugar
7oz Self-raising flour
70z butter
1 teaspoon of baking powder
A good slosh of milk
Zest of 1 lemon
300ml whipped cream
Strawberry jam
Icing sugar

2 x 18cm (7in) sponge cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180C. Butter the tins and line the base of each with greaseproof paper. Cream the butter and gradually add the sugar. Beat until soft and light and quite pale in colour. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well between each addition. Sieve the flour and baking powder. Add the lemon zest. Mix all together lightly and add the milk to moisten. Divide the mixture evenly between the 2 tins. Bake for 20 minutes, they should be golden with a slight wobble. Turn out and allow to cool. Sandwich together with the jam and whipped cream. Cut the strawberries into quarters and place on top, lightly sprinkling with icing sugar.


Monday, 12 September 2011

Hummus with ground lamb and pinenuts

Serves 4

200g chickpeas
6 tablespoons of olive oil
1/2 large Spanish onion, very finely diced
1/3 teaspoon ground cinnamon
juice of 1emon
2-3 garlic cloves, crushed to a paste with salt
3-4 tablespoons of tahini paste
170g lamb, minced
2 tablespoons of pinenuts, lightly toasted
1 medium bunch of flat leaf parsley, leaves picked from the stalks
a sprinkling of paprika
sea salt and black pepper

Heat half the olive oil over a low to medium heat and fry the onion, stirring occasionally, until golden and sweet. Remove and add the ground cinnamon.
To make the hummus, drain the chickpeas, keeping aside the cooking liquid, and blend in a food processor with a little cooking liquid to help the chickpeas on their way. When smooth add the garlic, lemon juice, tahini and the rest of the olive oil. Add salt, pepper and some more liquid if necessary. Taste for seasoning and spread the hummus on to a plate so it is ready to receive the lamb.
Place a frying pan over a high heat and when it is hot add the caramelised onion and its oil followed by the lamb. Use the back of a fork to break up the lamb as it sizzles and season with salt and pepper. When the lamb begins to crisp, add the pinenuts and transfer immediately to the hummus. Serve with the parsley leaves and paprika sprinkled on top. Serve with warm flatbread or pitta bread.