It’s Mother’s day and though she isn’t with us any more, I made my Mum’s signature dish, Pavlova. She wasn’t a fantastic cook, but she made a mean Pavlova. I didn’t ever get her recipe. So if you have a loved one who makes something you adore, remember to spend the time with them and get them to teach you how to make it. Food is one of the best ways to keep a little bit of that person with you.
Meringue has always been my culinary nemisis. I’ve struggled to make a decent one for years and I think I’ve cracked it thanks to the sainted Mary Berry (this is her recipe) .
I’ve used the traditional strawberries, but you can use any fruit you prefer.
This is a real crowd plesser, and is also a delicious gluten free dessert. Don’t panic if the meringue cracks, the topping will hide this, and the marshmallowy centre is a nice contrast to the crunchy exterior.
You can make the meringue the day before (keep in an airtight box) and decorate just before serving.
For the meringue
6 Egg whites
350 Grams Sugar
1 Tsp cornflour
1 Tbsp Vinegar
250 ml Whipping or double cream
Berries or other fruit to decorate
Pre heat your oven to 150 degrees (Celsius)
Add your egg whites to the bowl of your mixer and at a high speed until it reaches firm peaks
Continue mix and add the sugar a spoonful at a time, then add the cornflour and vinegar (which should be mixed together before adding to the meringue mix
Draw a circle on a sheet of parchment paper and put a small dab of meringue on the corners of a baking sheet before laying the parchment on top (this helps keep it in place)
Spoon your meringue on the circle you drew on the parchment (I like to keep meringue a quite tall, but you can go for a slightly flatter wider one if you prefer)
Place in the oven, and lower the heat to 140 degrees, bake for 1 hour, then the oven off and open the oven door slightly. Leave the meringue in the oven until it is entirely cold
Just before you are due serve, top with whipped cream and strawberries
Vegans and those with gluten intolerances often draw the short straw when it comes to desserts. These lovely little Brownies are really chocolatety and don’t make you feel like you’re missing a thing.
A friend told me about these after she saw the recipe online, so apologies if I’m not giving credit to whoever came up with recipe, but she couldn’t remember the site.
With only 3 ingredients these are great to knock up from stuff you have in the cupboards. Because I hate food waste, I always freeze over ripe bananas if I’m not going to eat them. Freeze them whole with their skin on, and they’re perfect for using in recipes like this or banana bread
3 Ripe bananas (mashed)
120 Grams Peanut butter
50 Grams Cocoa powder
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large bowl, mash the banana, then add the cocoa powder and peanut butter and mix until thoroughly combined
Line a 6 in x 6 in tin with baking parchment.
Transfer the Brownie mix to the lined tin and spread evenly.
My friend Mags has been raving about this recipe for ages. We both have a serious bread addiction and this recipe is from a slimming club site. So when she shared the recipe I had to make it. If you’ve ever had Irish wheaten bread this is similar in taste.
It takes two minutes to knock together, can be enjoyed by those who have issues with gluten and is pretty cheap to make. If you want something to keep kids busy this also something to do with them on a rainy afternoon and the will be super pleased with themselves.
It’s not the lightest fluffiest bread, but it is packed full of fibre and perfect served with cheese and chutney or buttered along side soup. I topped mine with some pumpkin seeds for a bit of crunch, but you can also sprinkle with porridge oats.
180 Grams Porridge oats
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of Soda (baking soda)
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius). Grease a load tin, you can also line it with baking parchment if want to (but I just greased the tin really well and it was fine)
Mix the yoghurt, salt and baking soda together, before stirring in the porridge oats
In a separate bowl, crack the egg and whisk with a fork until light and fluffy. Stir into the porridge mix and stir until we’ll combined
Transfer the mix into the loaf tin and bake for 50 minutes. Test with a tooth pick, when it comes out clean it’s ready.
My brother made this soup for me and I loved it. He only gave me the recipe on condition of a name check, so thanks Michael.
This is proper comfort food, and while the recipe is Vegan friendly it’s a really hearty stick to your ribs meal in a bowl.
400 Gram Tin of cannelini beans
2 Stalks of celery (fine chopped)
2 Carrots (grated)
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Vegetable stock cube (or tablespoon of buillion powder)
2 Cloves of garlic (crushed or very finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
500 ml Boiling water
Add the oil to a deep sauce pan and heat over a medium heat
Add the onion and fry gently for 5 minutes until the onion softens but doesn’t colour
Then add the carrot and celery and cook gently for an other 10 minutes
Stir in the garlic and beans (including half the water they came in), crumble in the stock cube, add the boiling water and stir well. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper if you feel it needs it
Simmer for 10-15 minutes until the the vegetables are soft and then serve with crusty bread
There are countless versions of Jollof Rice and Chicken across Africa and the Caribbean. The are many reasons why it’s so popular, it’s quick and easy to make, it’s a one pot dish that can feed a family cheaply, and most importantly it’s really delicious.
I mean, tender chicken and really well flavoured rice with vegetables, where could you go wrong. This is also a great dish for using up odd bits of vegetables you have in the fridge
4 Large chicken thighs or 8 small ones (I use the ones with the bone in, as I think it keeps the chicken tender)
1 Tbsp Oil
2 Red peppers (cut into 1-2cm pieces)
1 Onion (cut into 1-2cm pieces)
1Tbsp Tomato puree
400 Gram Tin of chopped tomatoes
1 Red chilli pepper (finely chopped) or 1 tsp chilli powder
1 Tsp Smoked paprika
3 x Cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
Thumb sized piece of ginger (grated, I always keep ginger in the freezer. It stops it going to waste and it’s easier to grate)
250 ml Vegetable/chicken stock (I used a stock cube to make it)
325 Gram Long grain rice, dry weight (I use basmati, but other types are fine)
2 Tbsp Chopped coriander (optional)
Heat the oil in a large flat bottom pan. When hot, add the chicken thighs and seal on both sides
Add the vegetables and tomato puree to the pan and cook for 5 minutes
Add the remaining ingredients to the pan and cover with a lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for 15-20 minutes, adding more water if the rice dries out before it’s cooked
Check the chicken is cooked through and the rice is soft
I tried these out these because I misjudged the amount of rice pudding I was making (in my never ending quest to use up things that have hanging around my cupboards).
The up shot is that I had a big load of rice pudding that I didn’t want to throw away so I came up with these as a way of using it up. Turns out pretty much any type of fried carb is delicious. These also make a lovely dessert for anyone who needs a gluten free option. Yes, they might be a bit of work but you can make the rice pudding ahead of time. I would class this as weekend cooking.
Just like making the savoury version, the rice needs to be cold. I tried a couple of different versions with different centres. If you’re a chocolate lover, I tried one’s with a chocolate button in the middle which were really good. However, for my favourite ones I added a teaspoon of jam for the centre, but feel free to experiment with other fillings.
For the rice pudding
200 Grams Pudding Rice
300ml Condensed milk
For the coating
2-3 Tbsps Corn flour
1-2 Eggs (beaten)
150 Grams Rice crispies or puffed rice (put in a plastic bag and scrunch up to crush the cereal into finer pieces, but not dust)
Oil for frying.
Add the rice, milk and condensed milk to a pot with a lid. Bring up to just before boiling point, then reduce the heat to a gentle simmer. Stir regularly to prevent sticking, cook until soft (the rice I used took just over an hour, but other brands of rice may not take that long. Depending on the rice you use you may need to add more milk/water, but the pudding should be pretty thick
When your rice is cooked, you can enjoy some rice pudding right away. The rest of it should be allowed to cool before transferring to an air tight container and refrigerate (ideally overnight, but at least for a couple of hours)
Take a large tablespoon of chilled rice pudding and flatten in the palm of your hand. Add whatever filling you are using to the centre of the mix and form the rice around it until you make a ball (wetting your hands stops the rice sticking to them)
When you have finished making all the balls, place on a plate and refrigerate for an hour to allow them to set
To prepare the balls, first of all heat your oil (I don’t know the exact temperature to tell you, but my go way to check the temperature is to drop in a cube of bread if it start frying right away you’re probably good to go. Be careful the oil doesn’t get too hot or else the centre of the rice ball will be cold)
In separate dishes, lay out the cornflour, egg and crushed rice crispies
Roll each ball in first the cornflour, then the egg and finally in the rice crispies.
Add to the oil in batches and fry until golden brown (don’t be tempted to cook too many at one time). These are gorgeous served with vanilla ice cream.
I’ve mentioned before that when I was a kid, my Mum wasn’t a great cook (I love you Mo, but we both know the truth). Dessert in my house was usually shop bought, and when I was really young one of favourites was tinned creamed rice with a big spoonful of jam.
Fast forward God knows how many years, and I taught myself how to cook. I was also lucky enough to go out into the world and try some amazing flavours. So I decided to try and experiment with some of my favourites. Coconut, ginger and lemon grass gives a new twist on this traditional dessert.
I like this chilled and served with mango or pineapple, but it’s also really good warm, and you can enjoy it with whatever fruit you prefer.
I used milk in this recipe, but you can substitute some of this with cream if want to make a really indulgent dessert. If you want to make a vegan version, swap cow’s milk for almond milk. I’ve tried both versions and they’re both delicious.
400 ml Can Coconut milk
250 Grams Pudding rice
40 Grams Sugar
500 ml Milk
1 Large stalk of lemon grass (kept whole but bruised)
1 Thumb sized piece of ginger
Cut your piece of ginger in half length ways, then smack your lemon grass with the back of a knife (or pot if you want get some frustration out). Bruising the lemongrass helps release the flavour. The ginger and lemon grass are kept big to make it easier to fish out when the rice pudding is cooked
Put all the ingredients in a pot with a lid and heat until just before the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer over a low heat stirring regularly. Each type of rice is different, so cook until the rice is soft. (mine took about 30 minutes). Different rices will absorb different amounts of liquid so if you think the mix is looking too dry add a little milk/water
When the rice is cooked you can scoop out the ginger and lemon grass. The rice pudding can be served hot or cold. I like it served with fruit
This might look like a lot of ingredients, but getting yourself a good spice cupboard opens up a world of food possibilities. Find a good Asian supermarket and you can do this much more cheaply than buying them from a big supermarkets.
My love for cheese that you can fry has been well documented on this blog. Add it to a fragrant and well spiced masala sauce and it’s a little slice of vegetarian heaven.
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 Tsp Cinnamon
2 Cardamon pods
2 Cloves garlic (finely chopped)
1 Tsp Fennel seeds
3-4 cm Piece of ginger (grated)
1 Tsp Tumeric
1 Tsp Chilli Powder
1 Tsp Ground coriander
1 Tbsp Tomato puree
2 Tbsp Chopped coriander
Knob of butter
250 Grams Paneer ( cut into 2cm cubes)
2 Tbsp oil
In a large frying pan add the butter and fry the onion, then add the cinnamon, cardamon pods, cloves and fennel seeds
Cook for 5 minutes before adding the ginger and garlic, and cook for a further 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
Add the turmeric, tomato puree and chilli and fry for another minute, and 250ml hot water
Bring the sauce to just before the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer on a low heat for 20 minutes
In a non stick frying pan, heat the oil and fry the paneer until browned on all sides
Add the paneer to the sauce and cook for another 10 minutes, allowing it to absorb the flavour.
Top with chopped coriander. Serve with rice or flat breads. This keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days
I’m challenging myself to try and make better versions of stuff I haven’t been 100% happy with before, and use what’s in the house, (yes, I’m going stir crazy already).
I tried to make spicy carrot soups before and always thought the consistency was a bit weird. I think I have now cracked it. Adding a potato to the soup helps make it a much nicer creamier consistency. It’s still really healthy, and delicious served with big slabs of buttered soda bread (not as healthy given how much I enjoy butter).
1 Potato (cut into cubes)
4 Carrots (sliced)
1 Stalk of celery (chopped)
1 Onion (chopped)
1 Stock cube
1 Clove of garlic
1 Tsp Ground cumin
4-5 cm Piece of fresh ginger (grated), or 1 Tsp of ground ginger
1/2 Tsp Chilli powder (optional)
750 ml water
Salt & pepper
Heat the oil in a pot, and add the vegetables and dried spices, cook over a medium heat until the onion begin to turn clear
Crumble in the stock cube and add the water. Bring the soup to a simmer and cook for 15-20 minutes, add the garlic and fresh ginger if you are using it
Simmer for another 5 minutes, and check the seasoning
Remove from the heat and allow to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a blender, or do what I did and use a hand blender to blitz the soup until you have a smooth soup