Category Archives: Recipe

Recipe: Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

Over the weekend I made a big pot of my Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings. It’s so quick and easy to make, and it’s absolutely packed with good stuff. The ricotta dumplings are optional but they help make a simple lunch a little heartier.

For me, Autumn is the season for soup. I love making a big bubbling pot of soup as a weekend lunch, and something that’ll last me through the week too. I’ve been feeling very run down recently and both me and my son are anemic. On top of the iron supplements he has been prescribed, I’ve been feeding him up with iron rich foods, spinach being top of the list. I’ve been finely shredding it and stirring it through all kinds of things, from curries to pasta sauces. Being secretive about eating spinach isn’t always a good thing, especially when it makes something so wonderfully vibrant as this.

Recipe: Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

I’m not sure this healthy recipe could get much easier. Often I don’t bother with the dumplings and just make a huge pot of soup. It’s pretty frugal too which makes it an all round winner.

Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

Ingredients (serves 8)
2 teaspoons of olive oil
1 large onion, diced
1 large potato, peeled and diced
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 litre of hot vegetable stock
500g of frozen peas
800g fresh baby spinach
Sprinkling of dried mixed herbs
Salt and pepper
Single cream

For the Ricotta Dumplings –
250g ricotta cheese, drained
75g self raising flour
1 large egg
30g Parmesan style cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper

How to make the Spinach and Pea Soup –

Drizzle the oil in the bottom of a large pan. Throw in your diced onions and cook slowly until they’re tender. Add your diced potatoes and crushed garlic and stir for a minute. Pour in your hot stock, then leave to simmer for ten minutes or so until your potato pieces are tender.

Once your potato is cooked, add your spinach (it may look like a huge amount but it will wilt down to nothing) and put the lid on the pan for a few minutes, stirring occasionally to help the wilting process. Once wilted, throw in your frozen peas and simmer for a few minutes. Add some salt and pepper and about half a teaspoon of dried mixed herbs. You could use fresh herbs such as mint or coriander if you’d like, or even pesto, but dried herbs are fine.

Take the soup off the hob and leave to cool a little. Using a stick blender, blend the soup until it’s smooth with no lumps or leafy bits. Taste it and add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. At this stage I also like to add a couple of tablespoons of single cream to make it taste a little more luxurious. 

Recipe: Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

How to make the Ricotta Dumplings –

Drain your ricotta and pat it dry with some kitchen towel. Tip it into a mixing bowl with the Parmesan, salt and pepper and egg. Mix together. Carefully stir in the flour.

Put a large pan of water to simmer on the hob. Using two spoons, form the ricotta dough into small quinnells. If you don’t want to make quinnells, you can gently pat the dough into small ball shapes no bigger than a teaspoon scoop. Don’t be tempted to make them too big, they won’t cook through properly if you do.

In small batches put the dumplings into the simmering water to cook. Do not crowd the pan. The dumplings should sink to the bottom and then rise. I turn them over in the water and cook for another minute once they have risen to the top of the water. Remove them with a slotted spoon and drain. 

To serve, float three dumplings on top of your spinach and pea soup. I added a drizzle of single cream, but some finely grated Parmesan would work well on top of the soup and dumplings too.

Enjoy with some fresh crusty bread and feel virtuous at how much healthy veg you’re eating.

Recipe: Spinach & Pea Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

Check out my recipe for Norwegian Inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup.

Recipe: Microwave Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings

A couple of years ago I made a bit of a breakthrough in making quick puddings for my family. I made a jam sponge in the microwave and that’s been our go to speedy pudding at home for a little while. As much as we all love jam sponge (and we really love jam sponge) I thought it was time to ring the changes. This weekend I made Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings in the microwave and they were really rather good. Good enough to give to guests who think you’re more Mary Berry than you actually are. 

Easy Recipe: Microwave Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings

These fab little puddings are great to throw together in a hurry and take just 3 minutes to cook in the microwave. We have a Panasonic microwave oven which is just the thing for cooking these speedy puds. Just make sure you cook the Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings one at a time and maybe check how your pudding is doing after two minutes or so. 

I’ve used fresh thyme in these sponge puddings, which I admit is fairly unusual. We have fresh thyme in the garden and it is one of my favourite herbs. Don’t be tempted to used dried thyme in these puds, I don’t think dried would work. If you don’t have fresh then just leave the thyme out altogether.

Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings

Ingredients (serves four)
4oz butter or margarine
4oz sugar
2 eggs
Zest of 2 lemons
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon of thyme leaves, picked from the stalk
1 teaspoon baking powder
4oz self raising flour

To top the puddings –
Lemon curd
Thyme leaves
Custard

Method
With an electric hand mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add the eggs, lemon zest, lemon juice and thyme leaves and combine. Tip the flour and baking powder into the bowl with the rest of the ingredients and beat together.

Lightly grease four microwave proof ramekins. Fill each one 3/4 of the way full with the sponge mix. Loosely cover with cling film, allowing some extra room for the sponge to steam and rise. Microwave each one individually for three minutes. You might want to check how they’re getting on after 2 minutes or so. Your sponges need to be cooked through but not overdone.

Once cooked, run a knife around the edge and tip them out onto a plate. 

Put two heaped dessert spoons of lemon curd into a microwavable dish and warm through for 30 seconds. Stir until it is the consistency of a sauce and drizzle over the top of your sponge, scatter some fresh thyme leaves over and serve with custard. Delicious!

Easy Recipe: Microwave Lemon & Thyme Sponge Puddings

= This is a collaborative post =

Recipe: Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

About ten years ago we went to a very smart restaurant in the Lake District and had a pretty fantastic meal. For pudding my husband had Champagne Jelly and I was incredibly jealous of his light and refreshing pud. Being a vegetarian I was unable to tuck in, but he assured me that it was as good as it looked. Ever since then I’ve thought about making a veggie friendly Champagne Jelly but I’d never actually got around to doing it. This week I bit the bullet and made a beautiful, Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly using Eisberg Sparkling Rosé.

Eisberg Sparkling Rosé is a light and refreshing alcohol free sparking wine which is bursting with fresh, fruity flavours. It has 33 calories per 125ml serving and the alcohol is not more than 0.05%vol; making it great for those who might be counting calories, pregnant ladies who fancy a glass of fizz or for people who are just avoiding alcohol. This is also a drink, or a pudding which children could enjoy on a special occasion too. No one needs to feel like they’re missing out!

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly Recipe 

Ingredients (serves 4):

30g caster sugar
500ml Eisberg Sparkling Rosé
1 sachet of Dr.Oetker Vege-Gel (19.5g)
A handful of raspberries, or any fruit you like

Method

Measure out 500mls of Eisberg Sparkling Rosé and pour 200mls of the wine into a saucepan, add the 30g of caster sugar and start to heat through, stir to dissolve the sugar. Once dissolved, sprinkle the packet of Dr.Oetker Vege-Gel, bring to the boil and whisk the whole time.

The Vege-Gel sets very quickly, so once it’s dissolved, add the remaining 300mls of wine and whisk. Take it off the heat when it starts to thicken and carefully pour into glasses or serving bowls, or whatever you’re serving them in.

You might want to put a few raspberries into your glasses before pouring the jelly in on top. My jellies set very quickly, so you will need to move fast.  But you might want to pop them in the fridge for a few hours to make sure they’re set firmly. 

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

This was a really speedy dessert to make, with none of the faffing which comes with gelatine. Because it was vegetarian and alcohol free, we could all enjoy it, even my son! I love that it sets so fast it manages to capture some of the bubbles in the jelly.

The Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly was an incredibly light and refreshing end to our meal. It would be perfect for a summer barbecue or a party. The fizz itself is delicious, I was very pleasantly surprised as I’m not usually a fan of rosé, but this is something I would happily serve my guests this summer, either as a drink or as a lovely fruity jelly.

You can find out more about Eisberg Sparkling wines on their website.

Alcohol Free Champagne Jelly

Note: I was sent some alcohol-free Eisberg Sparkling wines to try, all images and opinions are my own.

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, you might also like my recipe for alcohol-free slow cooked beef in red wine.

Recipe: Tangy Marmalade Cupcakes

Marmalade is one of those things children tend to dislike but adults love. A weekend breakfast of thick cut wholemeal bread, toasted and slathered with butter and good marmalade is my idea of heaven. My husband and I really are fans of marmalade, one of our favourite quick cakes is a marmalade tea loaf which is great to throw together if you’ve got guests coming round. Recently I’ve been thinking about marmalade cupcakes, with my husband’s birthday as an excuse, I knocked up a batch of marmalade cupcakes complete with tangy marmalade buttercream. Even our six year old enjoyed them!

I was sent two jars of Duerr’s marmalade to try, so I thought I’d use them both in my recipe. I used the Duerr’s Fine Cut Half Sugar Seville Orange Marmalade in the actual cupcakes and the Duerr’s Thick Cut Classic Seville Orange Marmalade in the buttercream icing. The half sugar is quite tangy and as you’d expect it’s not very sweet. I thought it would work well in the cupcake. 

Recipe: Tangy Marmalade Cupcakes

My recipe made 24 light and airy marmalade cupcakes. They went down an absolute storm and the boys have asked me to make them again, so I will.

Recipe: Tangy Marmalade Cupcakes

Tangy Marmalade Cupcakes

These easy cupcakes are light and airy. With marmalade flecked through the sponge base and with a marmalade buttercream topping, these are perfect for marmalade lovers!

Ingredients
150g marmalade
175g butter or margarine
175g caster sugar
3 eggs (large)
225g self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon ground ginger

For the buttercream:
250g icing sugar
250g butter (softened)
1 tablespoon marmalade

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 180° and put paper cases in a bun or a muffin tray.

Put all of your ingredients for the cupcakes in a large mixing bowl and using a hand mixer combine until the batter is smooth and airy. Dollop a large dessert spoon of the cake batter in each case and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Once cooked remove from the oven and cool on a rack.

While your cupcakes are cooling, sift your icing sugar and beat together with the softened butter. Add the tablespoon of marmalade, add more if you like. Make sure your buttercream is well combined and smooth.

Once your cupcakes are cool, put your marmalade buttercream in a piping bag with a plain round piping nozzle – if you use any of the star nozzles the marmalade will block it and the buttercream won’t pipe well. I just piped the buttercream on top, but you can decorate however you think best.

Tip: I like to chill my iced cupcakes in the fridge for an hour just to firm up the buttercream before serving.

They’re as pretty as a picture. I’m really pleased with how they’ve turned out too. I’ll be making this again very soon!

Recipe: Tangy Marmalade Cupcakes

Find out more about Duerr’s Marmalade here.

Note: I was sent marmalade from Duerr’s and created this recipe. I have not been compensated for this post. All images and opinions are my own.

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

When I read this week about the favourite family meal of New Zealand Prime Minister, Bill English, I knew I had to try it. Bill had come in for quite a lot of criticism after making tinned spaghetti pizza for his family, despite it actually looking quite nice. It sounded just about bonkers enough for me to try and make one for myself.

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

It’s fair to say that his recipe would probably have most Italians weeping into their cappuccino, but it’s not completely insane. Ok, so his pizza contains that love/hate pizza ingredient pineapple, but I’m one of those people who loves pineapple on pizza so I was prepared to go with it. His version also looks like it has a generous helping of ham on top, which I didn’t include on this occasion.

His pizza didn’t look terrible, and with all of the ingredients sat in the cupboard I thought it was worth trying to recreate this classic New Zealand recipe. I made three different pizzas, all of which I’d make again. I admit they’re a bit of a carb overload, but as an occasional novelty I would be happy to dish them up.

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

In each of the recipes I use some homemade pizza dough. You can buy packets to make up some, or you could just use ready made pizza bases. It’s entirely up to you.

Tinned Spaghetti Pizza

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

Ingredients – 
1 pizza base 
1 tin of spaghetti in tomato sauce
Two rings of tinned pineapple, roughly chopped
Half a ball of fresh mozzarella 
A couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
Dried herbs – I used oregano
Pepper

Method – 
1.   Pre-heat your oven following the instructions on the packet of pizza dough, or the pizza base.
2.   Place your dough on a pizza or oven tray. With a sieve drain some of the excess sauce from your tinned spaghetti. If you don’t do this your pizza will be soggy. Once drained, spread the tinned spaghetti over the pizza base.
3.   Scatter your finely chopped pineapple all over the spaghetti. If you’re adding ham to your pizza, now is the time to put that on too. Season with pepper and sprinkle over a few pinches of dried herbs. I used oregano, but mixed herbs would be fine.
4.   Tear your half ball of mozzarella cheese into pieces and evenly distribute over the pizza, then sprinkle your grated cheddar cheese over the top. 
5.   Bake in the oven following the instructions on your pizza dough or base. My pizzas took around 20 minutes to cook.

Tinned Meatball Pizza

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

Ingredients – 
1 pizza base 
1 tin of meatballs in tomato sauce
Half a ball of fresh mozzarella 
A couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
Dried herbs – I used oregano
Pepper

Method – 
1.   Pre-heat your oven following the instructions on the packet of pizza dough, or the pizza base.
2.   Place your dough on a pizza or oven tray. Open your tin of meatballs in tomato sauce and tip into a bowl. With a spoon spread most of the sauce onto the pizza base, spread it around until the base is covered. I used whole meatballs, but I’d be tempted to halve them with a knife and me more generous with my meatball topping next time. Make sure your meatballs are evenly distributed.
3.   Season with pepper and sprinkle over a few pinches of dried herbs. I used oregano, but mixed herbs would be fine.
4.   Tear your half ball of mozzarella cheese into pieces and evenly distribute over the pizza, then sprinkle your grated cheddar cheese over the top. 
5.   Bake in the oven following the instructions on your pizza dough or base. My pizzas took around 20 minutes to cook.

Tinned Spaghetti Bolognese Pizza

Recipes: Tinned Spaghetti Pizza & other weird ideas

The spaghetti bolognese pizza already has a thick tomatoey-meaty sauce, which makes it excellent for topping pizza with.

Ingredients – 
1 pizza base 
1 tin of spaghetti bolognese
Half a ball of fresh mozzarella 
A couple of handfuls of grated cheddar cheese
Dried herbs – I used oregano
Pepper

Method – 
1.   Pre-heat your oven following the instructions on the packet of pizza dough, or the pizza base.
2.   Place your dough on a pizza or oven tray. Pour your tinned spaghetti bolognese into a bowl and with a spoon evenly spread it over the pizza base until it’s covered.
3.  Season with pepper and sprinkle over a few pinches of dried herbs. I used oregano, but mixed herbs would be fine.
4.   Tear your half ball of mozzarella cheese into pieces and evenly distribute over the pizza, then sprinkle your grated cheddar cheese over the top. 
5.   Bake in the oven following the instructions on your pizza dough or base. My pizzas took around 20 minutes to cook.

I think tinned spaghetti pizza is an excellent store cupboard meal. I had everything I needed already to hand and it’s the find of thing I’d throw together on a Friday night for my family. It might not be the healthiest meal ever, but I reckon it would be great for hiding veg in if you’re that way inclined and it is excellent cold. Really excellent.

What do you think? Is tinned spaghetti pizza brilliant or bonkers? Will you be giving it a try?

Recipe: Luxurious Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup

Since I made my Norwegian Inspired Cauliflower Cheese Soup in the autumn, I’ve been a bit obsessed with this deliciously frugal soup. I’ve started using frozen cauliflower for the recipe, so it’s really cheap and as I keep a bag of it in my freezer at all times, I always have the ingredients to hand if I need to throw together a quick but delicious meal.

Before Christmas I popped into Manchester for a date night with my husband. We were off to a gig but fancied a pint first. We were propping up the bar when I spotted one of their specials was cauliflower and chestnut soup, and an idea formed which I couldn’t shake. I needed to make that lovely sounding soup.

I’ve had a tin of Clement Faugier Chestnut Spread in my cupboard for a few months now. I’d bought it with great intentions, but never managed to make anything with it. I’ve never tried chestnuts before, which I know is a bit strange. So I really didn’t know what to expect until I opened my tin and had a taste.

I confess I may have made a bit of a mistake using the Clement Faugier Chestnut Spread in my Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup. It’s a sweetened spread which is probably more suited for use in desserts, cakes and bakes, but although it did make the soup taste quite sweet, it actually worked quite well.

Having now tasted the chestnut spread I’m going to buy some more to make a good pud with, and maybe buy some unsweetened chestnut purée to make more soup with, but if sweet spread is all you’ve got, it’s not the end of the world.

Recipe: Luxurious Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup

Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup

Ingredients – serves 6

1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon olive oil
900g cauliflower florets – fresh or frozen
300mls hot vegetable stock
400mls milk
250g chestnut purée
1 tablespoon of finely grated Parmesan cheese
Salt, pepper, ground chilli flakes

Method

Gently fry your onion in the olive oil until it’s soft. 

Add your cauliflower florets to the pan and stir. Add the hot vegetable stock and 300mls of the milk. Add a little salt, pepper and ground chilli flakes, then put the lid on the pan and simmer until the cauliflower is tender.

Remove from the heat and leave to cool for ten minutes. Add the chestnut purée and the finely grated Parmesan cheese and stir through. Using a blender (I used a stick blender), blend the soup until it is smooth. I added the remaining 100mls of milk at this stage as my soup was too thick. If your soup needs loosening up add some extra milk.

Add any extra salt, pepper and ground chilli flakes if you think it needs additional seasoning.To serve, spoon into bowls and drizzle some of your favourite oil on top on top – I used a cold pressed rapeseed oil which I particularly like. Serve with warm crusty bread.

It’s as simple as that. My Cauliflower and Chestnut Soup is really delicious and it’s smooth, silky and filling. It’s a luxurious treat of a soup and more than a cut above anything I’ve had before. 

What’s your favourite chestnut recipe?

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

To say I’m a little obsessed with my new bundt tin is something of an understatement. I am constantly thinking of nice cakes to bake in it, after all, it’s just a fancy shaped cake tin and you can bake almost any kind of cake in it. Lemon drizzle cake is a real family favourite. It’s as light as a feather and the sweet but sour drizzle lends a satisfying tang to this afternoon treat. 

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

I had a jar of Opies Stem Ginger in Syrup left over from Christmas and as lemon and ginger are one of my favorite flavour combinations, I thought I’d spice up my standard drizzle. I was not disappointed, it was everything a classic lemon drizzle should be, but with a lovely gentle hum of ginger. I’ll be baking this one again and again and again. My lemon and ginger drizzle cake is a winner!

Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

Ingredients (serves 16)
6 oz caster sugar
6 oz softened butter
3 eggs
6 oz self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
Zest of 1 lemon, finely grated
2 pieces of Opies stem ginger in syrup, finely diced

For the icing –
150g icing sugar
Zest of 1 lemon, plus juice of half of the lemon
Syrup Opies stem ginger in syrup

Method

Pre-heat the oven to 190°. Liberally grease your bundt tin with melted butter and dust the inside of your tin with flour so that the flour is stuck to the butter and your cake shouldn’t stick to the tin.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, flour, baking powder and lemon zest and give them a good mix. Add the finely diced stem ginger and combine.

Pour the lot into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter and bake in your pre-heated oven for 30 minutes. Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and make up the drizzle icing. 

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl and mix with the lemon juice and zest. Loosen the icing by drizzling in some of the syrup from the jar of stem ginger, use as much or as little as you would like, I used around 3 teaspoons of the syrup. 

Prick your cake all over with a skewer and carefully spoon your icing over, trying to get some of it down the little holes in your cake. Leave it in a cool place for the icing to set a little, then serve with a pot of tea.

Recipe: Lemon and Ginger Drizzle Cake

I made my cake in a bundt tin because I don’t need any excuse to bake a bunt, but it would work equally well in a loaf tin or any other cake tin you have to hand. This lemon and ginger drizzle cake is a lovely, light as a feather cake. 

A lemon drizzle is a firm family favourite, but adding stem ginger takes this to the next level. What’s your favourite cake?

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs – great to make with kids!

The school holidays can take a lot of filling. On our last day off school we met up with some friends and headed to Bella Italia for lunch, then for a play at the nearby Wacky Warehouse. Lunch for 7 lively kids and 4 weary mums was a nice relaxed affair, the food was a crowd pleaser, but one thing caught my eye – the pizza hot dogs on the kid’s menu. It was something I knew I’d have to recreate at home. I had a hunch they’d be a hit and they really were.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Not only are the pizza hot dogs great for kids to eat, but it turns out they’re lots of fun for them to make too. They are as junky as they sound, but as a once in a while treat they’re pretty blooming fantastic. If you’re feeding vegetarians you can use vegetarian hot dog sausages (which I’ve fed to both boys before and they’ve not noticed), if not, just choose your favourite frankfurter or hot dog sausage.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

I used a pizza base mix – most supermarkets have their own these days; a jar of pizza topping and some of those bright orange cheese slices you put on burgers. It’s up to you if you want to use a homemade sauce or a less processed cheese. These pizza hot dogs are a quick meal the kids can help you make. Perfect for a picnic lunch, movie nights at home, or for when you’ve got a crowd of little monkeys around for a playdate or party.

Pizza Hot Dogs

Ingredients – makes 8 
1 packet of pizza base mix (145g)
8 slices of burger cheese
1/2 jar of pizza topping sauce
8 frankfurter or hot dog sausages

Method

Make up the pizza dough following the instructions on the packet. Pre-heat your oven to the temperature suggested on the packet  – mine was 200°.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized pieces and roll out into rectangles (on a floured surface). There needs to be about 2cms at the top and bottom and 3cm each side when you put your sausage on.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Take each cheese slice and cut it in half. Then lay the cheese on top of the dough and spread a heaped teaspoon of the pizza topping sauce on top of the cheese. Put your hot dog on top of the tomato sauce.

Fold the top and bottom edges of the dough over the sausage and press the edges of the dough together. Pull one of the long edges over the sausage and tuck it under. Pull the other edge across so the sausage is hidden inside. Pinch all the edges together until they are sealed shut.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

Dust a baking tray with flour or polenta so the dough doesn’t stick. Lay your pizza hog dogs on the tray. You may want to brush them with olive oil at this point, but that’s up to you. 

Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. The time will depend on how thickly you’ve rolled out your dough. When cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes.

Recipe: Pizza Hot Dogs - great to make with kids!

They retain their heat very well, so it’s an idea to cut them open and leave them to cool before little ones get their hands on them.

These Pizza Hot Dogs are really fun to make and a real family treat. You could fill them with your favourite pizza toppings too – pepperoni pizza hot dog anyone?

Casa Costello

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

The Great British Bake Off has been a real game changer for amateur bakers like me. It’s given me the confidence to try new bakes and introduced the nation to previously unheard of treats from all over the world. Before GBBO I’d never seen or heard of a bundt before, but it soon became a cake I needed to bake. This week I made a Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch and I became this week’s star baker (in my house only). 

I’ve wanted a bundt tin for a long time. Every so often I’d have a look around for one but they were always a bit beyond my budget and I couldn’t justify spending that much on a cake tin. A few weeks before Christmas I spotted a Crofton bundt tin in Aldi for around £11 and I couldn’t resist. I’ve been itching to use my bundt tin ever since. 

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

For my Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch I used a 250g jar of Opies Black Cherries in Kirsch. I drained the cherries and set aside the kirsch for drizzling over the cake. It was really very good and the boys managed to demolish it in double quick time – always the sign of a successful bake.

Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

Ingredients (serves 16)
150g butter
150g sugar
4 eggs
200g self raising flour
100g cocoa powder
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 jar of Opies Black Cherries in Kirsch
1/2 tub of Dr Oetker Easy Milk Chocolate Icing

Method
Pre-heat the oven to 190°. Liberally butter your bundt tin and using 25g of your cocoa powder, dust the inside of your tin so that the powder is stuck to the butter.

Beat your butter and sugar together in a mixing bowl until light and fluffy. Add the flour, 75g of cocoa powder and baking soda and give them a quick stir, add the eggs and thoroughly combine. If your mixture seems a bit stiff or dry, add a splash of milk.

Drain your black cherries, reserving the kirsch for later. Stir your cherries into the cake batter and pour the lot into your bundt tin. Smooth the top of the batter. 

Bake in the oven for 30 minutes at 190°. After 30 minutes, check it’s cooked through with a skewer and remove from the oven. Leave to cool in the tin for at least 15 minutes.

Once cool, turn out onto a suitable plate or cake stand and decorate. I used half a tub of Dr Oetker Easy Milk Chocolate Icing which you just microwave and then drizzle over with a spoon. I also whipped some cream to serve with it and spooned over some of the kirsch I’d set aside from the jar. Delicious. 

Recipe: Chocolate and Cherry Bundt with Kirsch

It was a really lovely pudding and the kirsch made the cake extra moist and a little bit naughtier. I’m looking forward to getting another bundt in the oven.

Casa Costello

Recipe: Mini Cheese & Pickled Walnut Quiches

This Christmas, like every other Christmas was a time for feasting. We’ve eaten and eaten well and the fridge is full of lovely leftovers we’re slowly working our way through. A return to normality beckons and those leftovers really needed using up, so for lunch today I made a batch of these lovely mini quiches using the remnants of the cheese board, some pickled walnuts and some stale bread. The result was quite delicious, very simple and as they are made from leftovers, they cost virtually nothing to throw together.

Recipe: Mini Cheese & Pickled Walnut Quiches

Mini Cheese & Pickled Walnut Quiches

Makes 12

Ingredients
6 slices of bread
Small knob of butter
3 spring onions
3 eggs
50g finely grated cheese
3 or 4 pickled walnuts
Salt & pepper

Method
Using a rolling pin, roll each slice of bread until it is flat like pastry, then using a cutter, cut out two circles in the bread, continue until you have 12 bread circles. Butter a bun tray and press a circle in to form your quiche base.

Finely slice your spring onions and gently fry in butter until they’re soft, this should only take a few minutes.

Beat three eggs in a bowl and season, add 40g of your finely grated cheese – I used a mature cheddar. Stir through your cooled spring onions.

Pour a dessert spoon of the egg mixture into each of the bread bases. Slice your pickled walnuts (no more than 5mm thick), place one slice on the top of your quiche and sprinkle with a pinch of the remaining cheese.

Bake at 190° for 10-15 minutes until puffed up and browning. Leave to cool for a few minutes and then serve with a lovely fresh salad.

Recipe: Mini Cheese & Pickled Walnut Quiches

These little cheese and pickled walnut quiches are really quite lovely. I made a batch and the boys gobbled them up in double quick time. They’d make excellent canapés or party food, or just a very lovely lunch. The pickled walnuts add a mouth watering extra pickley edge to the mini quiche.

I know swapping out the traditional shortcrust pastry for bread might be a little controversial, but it’s a great way of using bread which is nearing the end of its usefulness and it’s so much quicker than making pastry from scratch. Though if you are a determined traditionalist, this recipe would work just as well with pastry instead of bread.

I used a nice mature cheddar, but this would work with virtually any hard cheese of your choosing. I’ve a fancy to try them with some Stilton crumbled in which I think would be particularly excellent. 

We used Opies Pickled Walnuts which are soft, yielding and an excellent accompaniment to cheese, and as it turns out, pretty nifty in a quiche too. These cheese and pickled walnut mini quiches are so easy to knock up from the remains of your festive cheeseboard, I promise you won’t regret using the last of your pickled walnuts on this recipe.

How do you use up your festive leftovers?

Casa Costello