Category Archives: Recipe

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

I don’t do much drinking at home, I like to save myself for a (now rare) night out or trip to a festival. Back in the spring I went to a Gin Festival with some good friends, my first tipple of the day was some quite expensive Parma Violet Gin and it’s been on my mind ever since. Sure, I could buy a bottle, but the Willy Wonka in me fancied making some. It’s so easy, and it’s the perfect homemade gift for a Parma Violet loving gin fan this Christmas!

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

How to make Parma Violet Gin

You will need:

350mls Gin, I used the cheap stuff from Aldi
6 7g packets of Parma Violets
A large jar
Coffee filters or muslin
A funnel
A nice bottle

How to make Parma Violet Gin:

The first thing I did was measure how much gin my decorative bottle would take. My bottle would hold 350mls of gin, so allowing for a little bit of wastage during the straining process, and me having a little taste, I measured out 380mls of gin and poured it into a large sterilised jar.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

To sterilise your jars and bottles, put your clean jars in a low oven for at least half an hour. Carefully remove your jars from the oven (they will be incredibly hot) and allow them to cool down. Pour in your gin, I suggest you use a jug and a funnel for this.

Using whatever method you think best, grind up 6 packets of Parma Violets. I did this using a pestle and mortar, but a food processor or a bag and a rolling pin would work just as well. They don’t have to be super fine, but the more they’re broken up, the quicker they will dissolve.

Tip your crushed Parma Violets into the jar with the gin. Screw the lid on as tight as you can and give it a really good shake. Put it to one side, shaking the jar daily for about two weeks. A little more or a little less time in the jar won’t hurt.

In terms of measurements, if you want to make more or less of the Parma Violet Gin then you should go for a ratio of about 2 of the 7g packets of Parma Violets per 100mls.

When the time is up, take your sterilised bottle and using a funnel with some muslin or a coffee filter in it; strain the gin into the bottle. I found that it was best if I strained it twice, replacing the muslin with a new piece after the first straining. Doing this resulted in a clearer gin but didn’t seem to change the flavour much.

Once the bottle is filled, put the lid on, label it if you want and give it to your favourite gin lover.

If you liked the look of this recipe, you might also like to try baking these Parma Violet Shortbread Biscuits.

How to make your own Parma Violet Gin

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Back in September we visited Keswick in the Lake District for the weekend. We had a very lovely time and as we headed home, we ambled through the Lake District, stopping off at a few places. One of those places was the popular village of Grasmere, famous for its delicious Grasmere gingerbread.

Grasmere gingerbread is very special. It is firmer than any other kind of gingerbread I’ve ever had and it’s full of ginger and spice. It’s got mixed peel running through it and a crumbly topping like nothing I’ve ever eaten. It is one of my favourite things in the world.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

The original recipe is very closely guarded secret, but I’ve been baking my own version at home for a few years now. It’s not quite as firm or as crumbly as the proper Grasmere gingerbread, but it’s a good almost Grasmere gingerbread and it fills the gaps between visits to Grasmere to stock up on this treat.

Grasmere style Gingerbread

Ingredients:

225g self-raising flour
75g golden caster sugar
3 teaspoons of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
100g unsalted butter
1 tablespoon of golden syrup
2 eggs
50g mixed peel, chopped
Granulated sugar, to sprinkle over the top

Method:

Pre-heat your oven to 170°. Mix the flour, caster sugar, ginger and salt in a bowl. Melt the butter and golden syrup in a small pan, once melted, take off the heat and leave to cool slightly.

Take your eggs and separate the yolks, beat the yolks and slowly add them to the cooled syrup and butter. Whisk well. Tip this into the dry mix and combine. Set aside the whites of the eggs for later.

Take your mixed peel and chop it up into tiny pieces. Stir this through the mixture.

Grease a Swiss roll tin, spread the mixture in the pan making sure it’s even all over. Brush the top of the gingerbread with some of the egg whites and sprinkle the granulated sugar over the top, use as much or as little as you like. I used about 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Bake in a pre-heated oven for 20-25 minutes until golden brown all over. As it is cooling, with a sharp knife cut it into rectangles in the tin and leave to cool. Once fully cool you should be able to cut the biscuits easily across these lines with a knife.

Recipe: Grasmere Gingerbread biscuits

Proper Grasmere gingerbread is then portioned up and wrapped in greaseproof paper. This would be a lovely way to wrap up your gingerbread, especially if you’re going to give it as a gift, perhaps at Christmas.

These are lovely gingerbread biscuits, but they’re not quite as lovely as the originals. If you’re ever visiting Grasmere in the Lake District, I urge you to visit the tiny gingerbread shop by the church. Just follow your nose and you’ll soon find it!

Recipe: Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try these Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky rounds.

Grasmere Style Gingerbread biscuits

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

Treacle toffee has long been a favourite of fine. Sticky and sweet, it’s something of a love/hate treat. I’ve always enjoyed it, but not really enjoyed eating the sharp shards of broken toffee. It can be sticky to eat, if only there was some way of eating it without getting sticky fingers. To solve the sticky finger problem, I’ve come up with these Treacle Toffee Pan Pops – all the loveliness of treacle toffee, but neatly presented on a lolly stick. I can confirm they are absolutely delicious too!

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

To me, Bonfire Night has always been a celebration of cosy autumnal food and flavours. We always have jacket potatoes heaped with hot toppings like chilli. There’s always hot dogs with onions, toffee apples, parkin with custard and treacle toffee. From now on I’m adding my Treacle Toffee Pan Pops to the list!

These treacle treats are set in shallow tin foil cases, the kind you might buy jam tarts in. After a bit of searching I found exactly what I wanted here on Amazon (this is an affiliate link. I might get a couple of pence if you buy them). You will also need some lolly sticks (or popsicle sticks if you’re in America), again you can find them here on Amazon (affiliate link).

I made 10 Treacle Toffee Pan Pops and poured the rest of my treacle toffee into a lined swiss roll tin so I could compare and contrast the two with my family, we all preferred eating the pan pops, they were just easier to manage. This recipe would make around 30 pan pops, give or take. It’s also helpful if you have a cooking thermometer, sugar can be a tricky beast and this will help you know when it’s cooked properly. Here’s one of those Amazon affiliate links to one.

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon of white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons of water
125g of unsalted butter
450g of soft brown sugar
225g of treacle

Method:

Put your vinegar, water and butter in a large saucepan and melt together, make sure you stir with a wooden spoon. When your butter has melted add your sugar and treacle.

Gently heat the mixture, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon so nothing sticks to the sides or the bottom of the pan. Be careful not to splash anything out of the pan, it will burn. You need to boil the mixture to 138°C. It will take about 20 minutes to get to this point, don’t rush it.

When it’s boiled, remove it from the heat and let it sit until it stops bubbling.

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

I set my foil tins in a cupcake tray because I felt they’d be steadier there. If you have enough trays, do that. Carefully (please do this very carefully) pour about 2 tablespoons of the treacle toffee mixture into each pan, it should be so that it’s near the top, but not pouring over. The liquid toffee is very hot at this point.

Once you’ve filled all of your tin foil pans, take your wooden lolly sticks and place them in each one. Leave them for about ten minutes and then go and turn the sticks over in the toffee, this will help the stick to sink into it better. Leave the pops to cool for as long as you can, at least two hours.

When they’re fully cool, wrap each one in cellophane, I used cellophane bags I’d bought to put treats in. Keep them in an airtight tin until Bonfire Night.

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

If you want to make a tray of treacle toffee, use the same method but pour the mixture into a greased Swiss roll tin. When the mixture is cooling, mark out squares with a sharp knife and go over those marks every half an hour or so until it’s fully cool. With luck your toffee will snap into neat little squares. Bag those up in cellophane and suck them around the bonfire!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try this honey spiced pumpkin pie.

Bonfire Night Recipe: Treacle Toffee Pan Pops

Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

Back in July I was judging at the International Cheese Awards and at lunch, they served up the biggest, creamiest Black Forest gateau I’d ever seen. I’ve not eaten Black Forest gateau for about 30 years and it was an incredible treat to eat it at the Cheese Awards. Ever since then, I’ve had the chocolate and cherry combination stuck in my head. To scratch that itch, over the weekend I made a simple chocolate cheesecake and topped it with some delicious Fabbri cherries in syrup.

My chocolate cheesecake topped with Fabbri cherries in syrup might not be authentic Black Forest fayre, but if you love chocolate and cherries together, then this cheesecake will float your boat for sure.

Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

Fabbri cherries in syrup are demi-glacé cherries and are famous the world over. The Amarena cherries are small, black sour cherries that grow wild in the Italian cities of Bologna and Modena and are soft and juicy, with a sourness that really balances nicely with the sweet syrup. The Fabbri range of syrups and fruits in syrup are beautifully packaged in ceramic jars and the fruits are all a little bit unusual.

Finding all your favourite authentic Italian food and drink is really easy with the Ciao Gusto Italian Deli at Ocado. Ocado has brought together over 30 of Italy’s most popular brands, so you can find exactly what you’re looking for – and discover new and exciting ingredients – all in one handy place

There are lots of familiar Italian products available through Ciao Gusto Italian Deli at Ocado; such as Riso Gallo, Filippo Berio, Giovanni Rana and Cirio who are joined by products less well known in the UK such as Valsoia dairy free ice cream, Auricchio cheeses and Negroni charcuterie – everything you’ll find at the Ciao Gusto Italian Deli has been specially selected for its reputation as an authentic Italian favourite.

The Fabbri Amarena cherries are an authentic Italian favourite. They are gently cooked and preserved in sugar syrup, then they can be used as a dessert topping. They’d be brilliant spooned over ice cream, especially pistachio ice cream; or thick yoghurt, chocolate mousse or even my chocolate cheesecake.

Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

This recipe for Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup makes 8-12 slices, depending on how generous you are when you’re slicing it up.

Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

Ingredients:

150g of Digestive Biscuits
40g Melted Unsalted Butter
150ml Whipping Cream
200g Cream Cheese
115g Golden Caster Sugar
2 heaped teaspoons of Cocoa Powder
150g Milk Chocolate
120g jar of Fabbri cherries in syrup.

Method:

Grease an 8 inch springform cake tin, or use whatever you would usually make a cheesecake in. I prefer springform because I find it easier to get the cheesecake out. I also added a circle of greaseproof paper underneath so I was doubly certain I’d get my cheesecake out of the tin.

Crush your digestive biscuits until they’re a reasonably fine crumb. I did this in a food processor, but you could put them in a bag and bash them with a rolling pin if you like. While you’re bashing your biscuits, melt your butter. I did this in a microwave for a minute. Mix your biscuit crumbs and butter together.

With the back of a metal spoon, press the biscuit base into the bottom of the tin. make sure it’s evenly spread and you’ve compacted everything. Put the base into the fridge for an hour.

With your base is chilling, it’s time to make the cheesy bit of the cheesecake. Melt your chocolate. I used milk chocolate, but if you prefer you could use dark plain chocolate. I melted my chocolate in the microwave for 30 second blasts until it was melting, I then stirred it until it had all melted. Set the chocolate aside to cool for a few minutes.

Whip your cream, I used a hand mixer so it didn’t take long. Once it’s whipped to fairly stiff peaks, add your cooled melted chocolate and the cocoa powder and fold in until well combined.

Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

In another bowl mix your cream cheese and caster sugar together until light and fluffy, fold that into the chocolate cream mixture making sure there are no flecks of white left.

Take your biscuit base out of the fridge and top with the chocolate topping. Smooth it out with a spatula and maybe make an attractive ripple or swirl pattern on the top.

At this point you should put it back in the fridge, preferably overnight to set. Or you could put it in the freezer until you need it (this is a most excellent idea if you’re making it ahead for a dinner party or for Christmas maybe). If you’re freezing it, take it out about an hour before you need it, pop it on the serving plate and let it defrost until you’re ready to serve.

When you are about to serve your cheesecake, put it on a serving plate, taking care to remove the greaseproof paper if you’ve used it. Open your jar of Fabbri cherries in syrup and spoon out the cherries into a generous heap on the top of the cheesecake. Drizzle some of the syrup over the cheesecake and serve. You might want to pour some of the extra syrup into a little jug, as some people might want to add a bit more of the cherry syrup.

It’s not exactly like Black Forest gateau, but it’s similar enough to evoke some of those memories of desserts from yesteryear.

Recipe: Chocolate Cheesecake with Cherries in Syrup

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like to try my Baked Guinness Cheesecake.

Disclosure. We were given a small budget to buy some Ciao Gusto Italian Deli products for the purposes of writing a recipe. I have not been paid for this post. All images and opinions are our own.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra – Aubergine Dip

My husband is half Armenian and we love eating Armenian food at home. It’s fairly tricky to find Armenian restaurants, but there is an amazing Armenian deli in Gatley called Armenique, which isn’t far from where we live. We go fairly regularly and I usually order the salad plate. One of my favourite things, and something I always order is their igra, which after years of searching for, I realise it is more commonly known as ikra.

Ikra is an aubergine dip, you can make it as chunky or as smooth as you like. At Armenique it’s quite chunky, so that’s my preference. It tastes far richer than it actually is. It’s so healthy, it’s virtually a guilt free dip. I make it quite often these days, it’s a lovely quick lunch with some warmed pita, or as a dip to share with friends and a bottle of wine. And it’s a great way of using some of the cheap aubergines which are in the shops at this time of year and it freezes really well too!

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

My recipe makes quite a lot of dip, but it disappears quite quickly in my house. If it’s too much for you to tackle, you can always freeze some for a later date.

Armenian Style Ikra – Aubergine Dip

Ingredients:
2 aubergines
Olive oil
1 large red onion
1 large green pepper
2 fat cloves of garlic, or more if you move garlic
4 salad tomatoes
Salt and pepper
Half a lemon
Half a teaspoon of sugar
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh parsley
Optional: A tablespoon of tomato puree, if your tomatoes are a bit insipid

How to make your Armenian Style Ikra:
Take your aubergines and cut them into quarters. Put them on a baking sheet and drizzle olive oil over them. Put them in the oven for 45-60 minutes at 200°. Turn them every 15 minutes or so. You want them to be soft and squishy rather than brown and crispy.

While your aubergines are cooking, finely dice your onion and pepper and with a splash of olive oil, cook them very gently until soft but not brown. Once they’re soft add your crushed garlic cloves and stir.

Take your tomatoes and skin them. To do this easily make a large X on the bottom of each one, put them in a large bowl and pour boiling water over them. Leave them to soak until the skin starts curling on the X’s. Once they are at that stage, take the out of the water and pull the skin off. Some people remove the seeds too, but I don’t mind them, I will leave that up to you. Remove the core, chop the tomatoes and add them to the pan.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Continue cooking your onion, pepper and tomato mixture on a very low light with the lid on. When your aubergines are cooked remove them from the oven and let them cool enough so you can handle them. With a teaspoon and a sharp knife scrape the insides out of the aubergine. Chop the flesh very finely and add it to the pan. Discard the aubergine skin. Again this is a matter of preference, I actually really like the taste and texture of the skin, so I always finely chop a little bit of it and add it to the mix.

If your tomatoes were a bit pale and lacked flavour, you can add some tomato puree at this stage, this beefs up the tomato flavour and is worth doing.

Season the mixture with a little salt and pepper, you can always add more later. Cook the mixture for 30-60 minutes on a low light with the lid on the pan. Stir every so often. How long you cook it for depends on the texture you want. I cook it for around 30 minutes because I like a chunky texture. If you cook it for longer it breaks down more and becomes smoother.

Towards the end of cooking, squeeze in the juice of half a lemon, add your sugar and taste the ikra for seasoning. Add more salt and pepper if you think it needs it. Finely chop your fresh parsley and add it. Give it all a big stir and leave it to cool.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Ikra is usually served cold or at room temperature and is great with all kinds of things. We’ve been trying some new vegan crispbreads and vegetable chips from The Beginnings who are based in Latvia. They go so well with the ikra and together make a pretty much guilt free lunch. I absolutely loved the beetroot chips and my husband went mad for the kale chips, but the tomato chips worked brilliantly with the ikra.

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

If you enjoyed this recipe, here are some more of our Armenian recipes:

Recipe: Armenian Style Ikra - Aubergine Dip

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald’s Style Apple Pies

At this time of the year friends and neighbours are very generously sharing their grow your own results with us. My sister-in-law has a beautiful apple tree and she gave us a big basket of cooking apples. They’re huge and juicy and almost sweet enough to eat raw, but I had plans for my basket of apples. Apple pie plans.

A trip to McDonald’s is a rare treat for us, and one thing we always order is their apple pies. There’s something a bit special about a McDonald’s Apple Pie; they’re crispy and sweet, filled with cinnamon spiced apple and almost always lava hot. Over the years I’ve come to prefer them to most normal apple pies. I’ve always wanted to try to make my own, I’ve tried on and off to recreate them at home but never really got near. But this week I managed it.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

I always cook up a huge pan of apples with sugar and cinnamon, then I divide it into portions and freeze them for when I need them. I started off this recipe with over a kilogram of apples and only used a fairly small amount in the apple pies, so if you have any stewed apple left over then do freeze it, or just serve it on another day with yoghurt, ice cream or custard.

McDonald’s style apple pies

Ingredients:
200g Cooking apple, sliced
30g caster sugar
1/2 teaspoon of apple pie seasoning, or cinnamon if prefer
1 packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry
2 tablespoons of caster sugar
1 tablespoon of water
Cinnamon sugar

How to make McDonald’s Style Apple Pies:
Put your apple, caster sugar and apple pie seasoning in a saucepan and cook gently until most of the apple is soft. In a separate saucepan mix 2 tablespoons of caster sugar and 1 tablespoon of water and cook gently until it makes a sugar syrup, you will need this towards the end of the process.

Pre-heat your oven to 200°. Unroll your pastry sheet and using a ruler and a sharp knife divide it up into 8 equal sized rectangles.

Take one pastry rectangle and dollop two teaspoons of stewed apple in the middle. Take another rectangle and place it on top. With the back of a fork press around the edges of the apple pie then put on a baking sheet. Repeat until you have four sealed pies.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

Slit a small hole in the top of each pie to allow the steam to come out and then brush each one liberally with your sugar syrup. The thicker the syrup is the better. Sprinkle each one over with cinnamon sugar and put in the oven and bake for 20 minutes until golden brown.

You may be tempted to gobble them down straight away, but like the McDonald’s originals, they will be lava hot. If you can, do let them sit for ten minutes or so before tucking in.

The boys went a bit bananas for these apple pies. I’ve made them a couple of times since and the difference between a good pie and a really good pie is the thickness of the sugar syrup. The thicker it is, the more is gives that crunchy sweet glaze a McDonald’s pie has.

All you need now is a super-thick vanilla milkshake to go with it!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like these Homemade Spiced Apple Pie Cookies.

Fakeaway Recipe: McDonald's Style Apple Pies

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Now that the leaves have started falling from the trees, my slow cooker (or crockpot if you’re reading this in America) is really earning its keep. I love a slow cooker recipe, being able to throw something together in the morning  and come home to something hearty and warming in the evening is an autumn/winter life saver! This week I made a Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese using a ham hock I’d bought for just £3.50. I cooked it in the slow cooker, stirred it through some macaroni cheese, baked it in the oven and made my family very happy indeed.

Recipe: Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

A ham hock comes into its own when you cook it for hours. You know its done when it falls off the bone. It’s insanely cheap and it often used to make ham and pea soup with. Just because it’s cheap doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with it, it’s just needs long, slow cooking. I’m a bit obsessed with ham hocks these days, they seem like such good value and the boys seem to really like anything I make with them, like this Sticky Rosé Braised Ham Hock.

This Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese is the kind of thing you’d find being sold for £15 a portion in a hipster dive bar in a fashionably shabby part of town. It’s the kind of made ahead meal you could make for friends and family for a weekend feast. It’s hearty, it’s warming and it’s delicious. My family adored me when I put this in front of them.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

This recipe makes enough for four people.

Ingredients:
Coke or diet coke, about a litre
Ham hock, uncooked
200g dried macaroni pasta
50g unsalted butter
50g plain flour
Approx one pint of milk, maybe more, maybe less
100g mature cheddar cheese
50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
Salt and pepper
30g breadcrumbs

How to make Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese:
Put your ham hock in your slow cooker and pour over your coke or diet coke until it’s just about covered. Turn the slow cooker on high and cook for at least 5 hours, until the meat is falling off the bone.

Once your ham hock is cooked, take the meat and cap of fat off it and shred the meat with two forks. Discard the bones and fat, or give them to your grateful dog.

You will have probably enough meat to eke out two portions of this dish, but if you’re feeling generous like I was, then use all the meat in the one dish. If you want to be less generous (and the next time I make this, I’m going to be less generous), set aside half of the ham hock, dribble over a little bit of the cooking juices and freeze, ready to be defrosted next time you want to make this.

To make the macaroni cheese, melt the butter in a saucepan, once melted, tip in the flour and mix well with a wooden spoon. Mix until it’s a paste and then cook the flour out for a minute. Add a splash of milk and stir until it turns into a paste again. Keep adding milk in splashes and mixing until it starts to turn into a silky sauce. The amount of milk will vary, but I’d say you need at least a pint of milk.

Leave your sauce to bubble gently on the hob while you add 200g to another saucepan of boiling water. Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the packet.

While your pasta cooks, grate your cheese and add it to your sauce. Set aside 20g of the Parmesan to top your bake with. Stir, stir, stir your sauce and season with salt and pepper. I also like to add ground chilli flakes for a bit of a gentle kick, but you can leave that out if you prefer. Taste the sauce to check the seasoning; if it’s not cheesy enough for you, now is a good time to add more cheese. Now would be a good time to pre-heat your oven to 220°.

Once your pasta is cooked, drain it really well and tip it into your cheese sauce; stir that through and add your shredded chunks of ham hock. Stir that through and pour into a baking dish. Level the top with the back of a spoon.

Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs and the remaining Parmesan cheese; pop it into the oven for 25 minutes, or until it’s brown and bubbly on top. Take it out of the oven and put to one side for five minutes. Serve with a big salad and crusty bread.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

If you want to feed your friends and family something that’s like a big plate of hugs, this ham hock macaroni cheese is the dish for you. It’s a delicious, economical, hearty hug of a meal.

Recipe: Ham Hock Macaroni Cheese

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

Pâté is something we eat quite a lot of at home. We  often knock up a quick weekend lunch of crusty bread, pâté and a few salady bits. It’s a satisfying lunch and beyond easy to throw together. Over the weekend the boys have been munching on some Wild and Game pâtés, but with a little leftover, I made a simple supper of Pâté stuffed Mushrooms.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

We had two tubs of Wild and Game pâté in our fridge; Grouse, Brandy and Herb pâté and Pheasant, Pistachio and Port pâté. All that was needed to enjoy these delicious game pâtés was some crusty bread. The pâtés are just £3.50 for a 120g tub. Game is considered to be a bit of a luxury, so it was nice to bring a bit of luxury to the table for such a reasonable price.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

The pâtés were beautifully made. They were mostly smooth with little soft pieces of meat and nuts, the texture was spot on for us. They were really well flavoured and not too gamey, which can be off-putting. These Wild and Game pâtés would make an excellent addition to the Boxing Day table.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

The boys enjoyed their weekend lunch of these two pâtés with crusty bread, but there was too much for two and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I’ve made these pâté stuffed mushrooms before, it’s a great way to use up leftover pâté and it makes for a delicious supper, easy lunch or an impressive dinner party starter.

pâté stuffed mushrooms

Ingredients:
4 large flat mushrooms
Pâté – approx one dessert spoon per mushroom
A drizzle of Olive oil
1 onion
2 cloves of garlic
Splash of booze. I usually try to match what’s in the pâté, so add brandy if the pâté has brandy in it.
2 tablespoons of breadcrumbs
1 tablespoon of fresh parsley

How to make your pâté stuffed mushrooms:
Pre-heat your oven to 220°. Take your mushrooms and dust any dirt off them. Carefully cut out the stem and finely chop it. Put a small drizzle of oil on a baking tray and arrange your mushrooms on the tray.

Finely chop an onion, add another drizzle of olive oil to a frying pan and gently soften the onions and the mushroom stems. When the onion is soft, add your crushed garlic cloves and cook through for a couple of minutes. Turn the heat up in your pan and add a splash of booze. I usually try to match what I slosh in with what’s in the pâté. So if your pâté has brandy in it, I’d add a splash of brandy. Cook the alcohol out for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat.

Dollop in your pâté and mix everything together. I used the delicious Pheasant, Pistachio and Port pâté. Spoon equal amounts on the top of each mushroom and sprinkle the breadcrumbs over. Put in your pre-heated oven and bake for 15-20 minutes.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

Remove from the oven, sprinkle your fresh parsley over and serve. Two mushrooms make for a good lunch, or if you’re serving it as a dinner party starter, one if probably sufficient. It’s a really great way to use up any leftover pâté and is a simple dinner party dish you can put together beforehand.

Simple Recipe: Pâté stuffed Mushrooms

I was sent some Wild and Game Pâté to sample and I decided to use it in this recipe. All images and opinions are my own. I have not been compensated for this post.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

One day during the summer holidays my son asked if we could bake a cake. I usually have a store-cupboard of ingredients to make a batch or two of basic buns or a Victoria Sponge, but the boy wanted chocolate cake. Looking into my cupboard and I had just enough cocoa powder to make a cake, but what could I fill it with? I spied a jar of marshmallow fluff, I put two and two together and made a delicious Chocolate Marshmallow Cake.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

The Chocolate Marshmallow Cake is pretty much a Victoria Sponge cake with a chocolate marshmallow twist. It was everything you’d want a chocolate marshmallow cake to be – chocolately and gooey and rich and lovely. I’m now keeping a jar of marshmallow fluff in my cupboard for chocolate marshmallow cake emergencies!

Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Ingredients:
600 g caster sugar
600 g softened butter or margarine (I use Stork)
6 eggs, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
1.5 tbsp milk
200 g self-raising flour
7550g Dark cocoa powder
1 heaped tsp of baking powder

For the icing and filling:
1 jar of Marshmallow Fluff
100g Softened unsalted butter
100g sifted icing sugar
50g dark cocoa powder
Splash of milk
Half a pack of mini marshmallows

Method:
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Grease three 20cm sandwich tins, I also lined the bottom of each tin with a circle of baking parchment. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk, cocoa powder and vanilla and combine, then add the flour and baking powder and mix together until you have a smooth batter.

Divide the mixture equally between the tins. You can weigh them to make sure they’re fairly equal if you’d like. Bake in your pre-heated oven for around 20 mins until cooked through. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

Once the cakes are cool, place the bottom layer on a serving plate and spoon about half a jar of marshmallow fluff into the middle. It should relax and even out by itself. While it’s doing this, make your chocolate frosting.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Using a hand mixer, work the butter until it is light and fluffy. Carefully add the icing sugar and cocoa powder and mix it in until the frosting is smooth. Add a splash or two of milk if you feel it needs it. It needs to be spreadable but not runny.

Take the middle layer of the cake and place it on top of the marshmallow. Put the rest of the marshmallow fluff on top and smooth it out a little with a knife. It will form a soft layer which will run down the sides of the cake, but I like the sticky, drippy effect.

Take  top layer of cake and put it on top of the marshmallow. Get your chocolate frosting and put it on the top of the cake, smooth it out with a knife. I like smooth ripples of frosting, but do what you feel best. Take a few handfuls of mini marshmallows and pile them up on the top of the cake.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

You can store it in a cake tin for a few days, but the gooey marshmallow layer will likely ooze out entirely. It’s best to gobble the cake up quickly, or leave assembling it until the last moment.

It’s a great cake, it’s fun, it’s frivolous and it’s just the thing to make with a small boy who wants nothing more than a chocolatey spoon to lick and a big piece of chocolate cake for pudding.

Recipe: Chocolate Marshmallow Cake

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

A few weeks ago I was mooching around one of my local charity shops when I spotted a silicone baking mold for a pound. They can be quite expensive, so I snapped it up and took it home. I think it was originally designed for small cupcakes or muffins, but this had homemade chocolate jazzies written all over it.

As a working from home mum I am often called upon to help entertain a child or two for the odd day during the school holidays. I don’t mind this as for me it’s probably easier to entertain two seven years olds, than one seven year old who is just so “boorrEDDD” of my company. I like to have a few crafts, activities and bakes up my sleeve to entertain any young visitors we may have; so I thoroughly cleaned my silicone mold and tucked it away for a rainy day.

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

As a keen baker I always have a good variety of sprinkles in my cupboard. For some reason kids love sprinking almost as much as eating the sprinkles. I had quite a few little jars which probably needed using up. Making homemade chocolate jazzies is a really good way of using them up. You could give each child a different kind of sprinkle so they know which jazzies are theirs, or they can mix and match.

I made some sparkly chocolate cups for Mother’s Day back in the spring, they are very similar to those, but slightly smaller and with billions more sprinkles.

Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

Ingredients:
250g of milk chocolate
Cake decorating sprinkles, stars, silver balls, whatever you fancy

You will need:
A saucepan, a glass bowl which will sit in the pan, but so it doesn’t touch the bottom; a metal spoon, silicone baking molds.

How to make your chocolate jazzies:
Boil some water and pour the water into your pan so it’s about 3cm deep. Carefully place the glass bowl in the pan making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn’t touch the water. This is called a bain marie.

Break your chocolate up into small pieces and put it in the glass bowl. The water in the pan needs to be at a gentle simmer, not bubbling and boiling. Stir the chocolate until it is melted.

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

Once the chocolate is melted, with a spoon scoop out some melted chocolate into each of the molds. Try and put an equal amount in each. If you’re good at this there might be just enough left over for some spoon licking afterwards. Gently shake the silicone tray so the chocolate settles.

Once you’ve used all of your chocolate, take your chosen sprinkles and sprinkle as much or as little as you like over the top of each chocolate. Leave them to cool for at least two hours. If you need them to set a bit faster for impatient boys, pop them in the fridge.

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

To serve, make sure they are properly set and carefully pop them out of the molds. You might want to be careful and tip them out onto a tray or over a dish to catch any excess sprinkles. We had many excess sprinkles because the boys were very enthusiastic about the sprinkling.

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies

The homemade chocolate jazzies went down an absolute storm. The boys really enjoyed making them. They’re incredibly simple to do and they also really enjoyed eating them and sharing them too. My chocolate jazzie experiment was a success!

PS. If you’re wondering they they’ve got blue hands, we played with blue slime while the jazzies set and the slime coloured their hands for the day. They do have clean hands, I promise!

Easy recipe: Homemade Chocolate Jazzies