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Party Recipe: Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

This week sees the 75th anniversary of VE Day and many people across the UK and beyond will be marking the date. We will be taking part in a community zoom celebration, so I’ve been busy baking a lovely Jam and Cream Sponge Cake to have with a nice pot of tea.

I baked this deliciously light sponge cake filled with lovely purple (the royal colour) mulled wine jam. I’d like to think the Queen would approve of my simple but very yummy jam and cream sponge cake.

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

To find out how to make my Jam and Cream Sponge Cake, read my recipe below…

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

Serves 16
A classic Victoria Sponge layered with Mulled Wine Jam and Chantilly Cream.

Ingredients
300g caster sugar
300g softened butter
6 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsp milk
300g self-raising flour
1.5 tsp baking powder

For the filling
1/2 Jar Mackays Christmas Preserve (mulled wine jam)
200ml double cream
1 level tablespoon of icing sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Instructions
Heat your fan oven to 190c. Butter three 20cm sandwich tins. In a large bowl, beat your butter and sugar together until fluffy (I used a hand mixer). Add the eggs, milk 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 three 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 golden and they’re cooked through. Remove from the tins and leave to cool on a cooling rack.

To make the Chantilly cream, beat the cream, sugar and vanilla until smooth and creamy. I used my hand mixer for this and it took just a few minutes.

To assemble the cake, choose the most attractive of the three sponge cakes and save that one to go on the top. You may need to cut the top of some of your layers to make them flatter so they sit more comfortably on each other. Put the bottom layer on your serving plate or cake board. Put a teaspoon of jam on the plate and put your bottom layer on that. It will help it stick to the board. Cover that first layer with your jam and put the second layer on top. Gently press the layers together. Top your second layer with the cream and put your top layer on top, sprinkle with icing sugar or decorate as you wish.

Notes

The cream is fresh so the cake will need to be eaten fairly quickly or refrigerated. If you want to keep it for a few days it might be best to not have the cream in between layers, maybe kept in the fridge to indulgently dollop on the side.

My Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake would make the prefect addition to a celebratory street party or a refined afternoon tea round at Buckingham Palace. It’s so quick and easy to make, it’ll leave you plenty of time to make a few plates of cucumber sandwiches and mix up a jug or two of Pimms for the party!

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

What’s your favourite celebratory bake?

Patriotic Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

I have to say, this sponge recipe is absolutely magic, I use it as the base for all my sponge cake bakes now; from butterfly cakes, cupcakes, sponge puddings and good old Victoria sponges, it’s light every single time. I can’t fault it.

Jam and Cream Sponge Cake

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Being in lockdown isn’t easy. Some days I find myself going a little stir crazy, some days I’m listless in bed, other days I’m bursting with energy. I’m trying, where I can to just go with my mood rather than force myself to do things. Over the weekend the sun shone a little and I managed to leave the house and take the dog for a short walk on the field by my house. Along one shady side of the field is a path which in the spring in fringed with wild garlic. I can never resist pulling a few leaves and taking them home to make wild garlic scones or something equally lovely with them. Whilst it was quiet, I grabbed a handful of wild garlic, then headed home to bake some wild garlic and Parmesan focaccia, because everyone else is baking bread during lockdown, so why shouldn’t I?

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Focaccia is a pretty simple bread to make, it just takes quite a lot of time. From picking my wild garlic, to pulling my bread out of the oven took the best part of five hours, but it was five hours very well spent. Before I began I checked in with my lovely Italian friend, Sherwin. He is a keen baker and gave me some top tips for tip top focaccia. His advice was as follows…

Focaccia is a high hydration dough so it is sticky and wet. Use oil instead of flour when hand kneading the dough on a work surface and preferably a slow first rise of 12 hours in the fridge, but an hour at room temperature will do. Use well oiled hands  when transferring and shaping the dough into a baking tray making sure not to knock out too much of the air. You can put rosemary, olives, cherry tomatoes, courgette or cheese. Enjoy!

I followed his excellent advice. I chose to prove my dough for an hour in the warmth of my bedroom and then topped it with wild garlic and Parmesan. The result was like the best garlic bread you’ve ever had.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Ingredients
500g strong white bread flour
1 and a half teaspoons of salt
2 sachets dried easy blend yeast
Olive oil, lots
400ml cold water
More olive oil for drizzling
20g wild garlic leaves, washed and finely chopped
30g finely grated Parmesan
A sprinkle of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Method
Place the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and the water into a large bowl. Gently mix together with your hand to form a dough, then knead the dough in the bowl for five minutes.

Next you need to stretch and knead the dough by hand in the bowl for about five minutes.

Tip the dough onto a very well oiled work surface and then knead some more for about five more minutes. Put the dough back into the bowl, cover and leave somewhere warm to rise until doubled in size, this takes about an hour. I put mine on my bed as my bedroom is the warmest room in the house, but whatever works for you.

Line a large baking tray with baking paper. Tip the dough out of the bowl and flatten the dough onto the tray, push the dough into the corners, cover with a large plastic bag or cling film, making sure it does not touch the top of the dough, then leave to prove for one hour.

Preheat your oven to 220C or Gas mark 7.

Using the tips of your fingers, dimple the focaccia all over, so it is covered in little dents. Sprinkle over the wild garlic and Parmesan, adding a generous twist of freshly ground black pepper and some sea salt. Drizzle over some more olive oil and then put in your pre-heated oven for 20 minutes.

Once it’s baked and out of the oven; drizzle with a little more olive oil and it’s ready to eat, hot or cold.

It is the most delicious bread I’ve made and if you can get your hands on some wild garlic, it’s well worth making yourself.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Focaccia

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

One of my favourite (and incredibly easy) things to make is an indulgent chocolate tart. Made with dark chocolate it is a delicious and pretty adult dessert. If dark chocolate isn’t your thing, you can swap it out for milk chocolate and enjoy a more family friendly pudding. I’ve jazzed up my usual chocolate tart for Easter and, well it was so popular that is disappeared within the hour!

Easter is undoubtedly a time for chocolate. If you can’t indulge your sweet tooth now, then when can you? This chocolate tart is really very simple to make, especially if you cheat and buy ready made pastry, and would be fun for kids to join in with too.

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Ingredients:
For the pastry –
4oz plain flour
2oz butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
-or- a packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

For the filling –
150g single cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
150g good quality dark chocolate, or milk chocolate if you prefer

2 bags of mini eggs to decorate, 3 if you’re a nibbler!

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Method:
Tip the flour, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Use a knife and stir in just enough cold water to bind the dough together. Do this gradually as you don’t want your pastry to be too wet. Once you’ve made the dough, cover the bowl and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before rolling out.

Or if you’re using shop bought, ready rolled pastry, take it out of the fridge about half an hour before you want to use it.

Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190°

Take your pastry and roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin. You can either roll it out on a floured surface, or between two pieces of baking parchment. I find the baking parchment method quicker and a lot less messy.

Grease a 20cm tart tin and carefully put the pastry in the tin, pressing it against the sides. Let the pastry hang over the sides of the tin, you can trim it later. Prick the base all over with a fork. Top the pastry with a sheet of baking parchment and cover with baking beans, bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking beans and parchment and pop back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, carefully with a sharp knife trim the pastry so it is flush with the top of the tin.

While your pastry is cooling, warm up your cream and sugar in a saucepan. Finely chop the chocolate and once the cream is simmering, turn off the heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Leave for a minute and stir until the mixture is smooth, like really thick hot chocolate.

Carefully fill the tart case with the melted chocolate mix, level it off and make an artistic swirl or ripple on the top if you want. Decorate with your mini eggs however you want. Put your tart in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight if you wish.

This chocolate tart is very, very rich, so a little goes a long way. It also makes an excellent pudding for Easter!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might like these mini egg cookies or these peppermint crunch slices!

Recipe: Easy Easter Chocolate Tart

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Every year in March and April, the hedgerows and lanes hereabouts are abundant with wild garlic. When the wind blows in the right direction, we get a gentle whiff of garlic and off I go with a paper bag to collect a few leaves to cook with. One of my favourite ways to use it is in wild garlic and parmesan scones, which go really well with soup, or as a savoury snack with some good butter.

Of course when you’re foraging it pays to know a little of what you’re doing. Wild garlic can look pretty similar to other plants, some of which may be poisonous, but you can generally tell what is and isn’t wild garlic by the smell, which is, well, garlicky.

When you go foraging it’s important not to pick too much of anything. Take just what you need and save the rest for the wildlife or other foragers. If you’re foraging for wild garlic, you don’t need much anyway. It’s pretty pungent and a few leaves go quite a long way. I tend to try to pick the younger leaves in spots where I think (hope) dogs haven’t been. I always wash my wild garlic leaves before I use them anyway. You can find out more about wild garlic here.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

These wild garlic and parmesan scones are very delicious. They’re everything you want from a savory scone. I sprinkle a pinch of sea salt on the top which makes them extra delicious. This recipe makes about 8 big scones, though you could cut them smaller if you prefer.

Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Ingredients:

125g butter
450g self-raising flour
50g finely grated parmesan cheese
5 wild garlic leaves, finely chopped
1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
Big pinch of salt
Milk to mix, I used about 1/3 pint
Rock salt

How to make Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones:

Pre-heat your oven to 190° and put a sheet of baking parchment on a large baking tray.

In a large bowl rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. Add the parmesan, wild garlic, bicarbonate of soda and pinch of salt and toss together. Little by little add the milk, mixing with your hands until it makes a soft dough.

Tip the dough onto a floured surface and pat or roll it until it’s 1.5-2cm thick. I usually shape the dough and pat it down with my hands because it gives a slightly more rustic finish which I like. Cut the dough into rounds, don’t twist the cutter because this can prevent the scone from rising.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Put the cut scones on the baking tray, brush them with milk and if you like sprinkle a pinch of rock salt on the top of each one. Bake for 15-20 minutes until they’re nice a brown and hollow when you tap them underneath.

Serve hot from the oven with lashings of butter, or with soup or a ploughman’s lunch.

If you enjoyed this, you might also like these blueberry and buttermilk scones.

Recipe: Wild Garlic and Parmesan Scones

Simple Recipe: Scotch Whisky Syllabub

If you’re planning a Burns Night celebration and you’re looking for a simple but slightly different pudding for the night, this rich and easy Whisky Syllabub recipe really hits the spot. If you can whip cream, open a bottle of whisky and zest a lemon, then this recipe is for you.

Syllabub in various forms has been around since the 16th century. Originally a frothy, milky concoction, made with sweet wine or cider; it has evolved from a hearty, warming drink to the whipped pudding we eat today. Syllabubs are similar to possets and are closely related to the famous Scottish pudding, cranachan. I’ve given a standard syllabub a Burns Night makeover and swapped out the sweet wine for whisky, and it really works!

Simple Recipe: Scotch Whisky Syllabub

This recipe for Scotch Whisky Syllabub takes no time at all to put together and makes enough for four good-sized portions, or 6 smaller ones. It is very rich though, so a smaller portion might be better. Serve it with homemade shortbread and raspberries. Delicious!

Scotch Whisky Syllabub

Ingredients:

55g caster sugar
1 lemon, zested
3 tbsp lemon juice
300ml double cream
25g icing sugar
100ml whisky

Simple Recipe: Scotch Whisky Syllabub

How to make Whisky Syllabub:

In a small saucepan, warm the sugar, lemon juice and finely grated zest until the sugar is dissolved. Stir the mixture a little to encourage the sugar to dissolve, once it has, leave it to cool completely. This shouldn’t take long, maybe 15 minutes.

In a large mixing bowl whip your double cream and icing sugar together until it goes in soft to medium peaks. I used a hand mixer for this as whipping it by hand would take me an age.

Add your whisky to the pan of juice and swirl it around, pour it into the cream mixture and fold the whisky and juice into the cream with a spatula. For good measure I gave it a quick 10 second mix with my hand mixer too.

Spoon the whisky syllabub into nice glasses and put in the fridge and chill for an hour or so. It’s fine to make it the day before and chill it overnight if you’d like. It’s also absolutely fine to serve it there and them without chilling it, it’ll just have a slightly softer texture.

Serve with some homemade shortbread and raspberries. It’s a fantastically simple pudding and one to impress the grown ups at any Burns Night celebration!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like –

Simple Recipe: Scotch Whisky Syllabub

Recipe: Homemade Haggis Pasties

With Burns Night fast approaching, my local butchers have stocked up with haggis. I’m always keen to try different things, so I popped in and picked up a small haggis, took it home and wondered what to make with it. Previously I’ve made a haggis, potato cake and poached egg stack, but this week I fancied making pasties from scratch. The pasties came out so well, I’ve decided to share my recipe for Homemade Haggis Pasties.

Recipe: Homemade Haggis Pasties

Haggis is one of those ingredients which is a bit love/hate. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but if you’re not already a haggis fan, they’re worth trying; my 8 year old scoffed a whole pasty and asked me to make them again, which really surprised me.

I’ve made Cornish pasties before, so I thought I’d make something similar, but with haggis, neeps and tatties. There was a bit of prep to be done, but the results are worth it, and I’ve got lunches for the boys for the next few days. The recipe makes 8 pasties if you’re pretty frugal with the pastry. I made my own shortcrust pastry, but as ever, there’s no shame in buying your own if you can’t face making it from scratch.

Homemade Haggis Pasties

Ingredients:
For the pastry:

450g plain flour
110g butter, margarine or lard
1/2 teaspoon of salt
5fl oz of water

1 egg, beaten

For the pasty filling:

1 small haggis weighing 450g
200g potato, diced
200g neeps (otherwise known as turnip), diced
1 small onion
1/2 carrot (optional)
1 teaspoon of butter
Salt and pepper

Recipe: Homemade Haggis Pasties

How to make your haggis pasties:

Begin my making your pastry as it benefits from being chilled for at least an hour, but longer is best. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl, cube the fat and rub that into the flour until it resembles breadcrumbs, add the water and mix with your hands until it forms a dough. Don’t work the pastry too much, a light touch is best. Once the pastry has formed a dough, wrap it in plastic and put it in the fridge for at least an hour.

Once the pastry is chilling in the fridge, wrap your haggis in tin foil and bake it in the oven for an hour at 190°. Remove from the oven and leave to cool until you’re ready for it.

While the haggis is cooking; dice your neeps (turnip), potatoes and your half a carrot if you’re using and boil for 15 minutes until tender. Drain and put in a bowl, season well with salt and pepper and add a teaspoon of butter, put to one side. Finely dice a small onion and add that to the neeps and tatties.

When your haggis is cooked, remove it from the casing and add the haggis to the vegetable mix, stir well. Your filling is ready to be made into pasties.

Pre-heat your oven to 200°.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper. To make your pasties, roll your pastry until it is about 5mm thick and using a side plate (I use a plastic one because it’s easier to handle) cut around the plate. You should get 7-8 pasties out of the pastry.

Recipe: Homemade Haggis Pasties

Heap 2 dessert spoons of the filling in the middle of the pastry circle. Brush along one half of the circle along the edge with the egg, fold over the pastry and press the edges together. Crimp your pastry, don’t worry, this seems harder than it is, and it’s easier for you to watch this video than it is for me to explain it. Once your pasty has been crimped, brush with the beaten egg, place on your baking tray and bake for 50 minutes.

Once your pasties have been baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool for at least ten minutes before eating.

The haggis pasties are delicious; all the familiar charm of a Cornish pasty, but with a Scottish twist which even my 8 year old enjoys!

If you enjoyed this recipe, you might also like –

Recipe: Homemade Haggis Pasties

Recipe: Indulgent Chocolate Barleycup Tart

Last year I seriously cut down on my caffeine intake and now I just drink a couple of cups of tea or coffee a week. These days I seem to be very sensitive to caffeine and if I have a cup of coffee too late in the day, I just won’t sleep at night. I don’t want to cut it out completely, but I do have to keep an eye on just how much I drink. With this in mind, I was sent a jar of Barleycup to try.

I’ve swapped my lunchtime coffee for Barleycup and I’ve hardly noticed the difference. Barleycup is made from roasted cereal grains and chicory roots and is free-from caffeine and contains no artificial additives. Barleycup is also gluten-free and certified by Coeliac UK.

Recipe: Indulgent Chocolate Barleycup Tart

Recipe: Indulgent Chocolate Barleycup Tart

Not content with just drinking it, I wondered if it would be any good to bake with. It turns out that it was. I made a variation on a chocolate and coffee tart, I made a deliciously indulgent Chocolate and Barleycup Tart which was every bit as good as the original. Here’s my recipe…

Chocolate and Barleycup Tart

Ingredients:
For the pastry –
4oz plain flour
2oz butter, cubed
A pinch of salt
2-3 tablespoons of cold water
-or- a packet of ready rolled shortcrust pastry

For the filling –
150g single cream
2 tablespoons of sugar
150g good quality dark chocolate
2 tablespoons of Barleycup powder dissolved in 4 tablespoons of boiling water

Method:

Tip the flour, salt and butter in a large mixing bowl. Using your fingers, rub the butter into the flour until it looks like breadcrumbs. Use a knife and stir in just enough cold water to bind the dough together. Do this gradually as you don’t want your pastry to be too wet. Once you’ve made the dough, cover the bowl and chill it in the fridge for 15 minutes or so before rolling out.

Or if you’re using shop bought, ready rolled pastry, take it out of the fridge half an hour before you want to use it.

Pre-heat your oven to gas mark 5 or 190°

Take your pastry and roll it out to the thickness of a pound coin. You can either roll it out on a floured surface, or between two pieces of baking parchment. I find the baking parchment method quicker and a lot less messy.

Grease a 20cm tart tin and carefully put the pastry in the tin, pressing it against the sides. Let the pastry hang over the sides of the tin, you can trim it later. Prick the base all over with a fork. Top the pastry with a sheet of baking parchment and cover with baking beans, bake in your pre-heated oven for 10 minutes.

Remove the baking beans and parchment and pop back in the oven for another 8 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool. Once cool, carefully with a sharp knife trim the pastry so it is flush with the top of the tin.

Recipe: Indulgent Chocolate Barleycup Tart

While your pastry is cooling, warm up your cream and sugar in a saucepan. Finely chop the chocolate and once the cream is simmering, turn off the heat and add the chocolate to the pan. Leave for a minute and stir until the mixture is smooth. Add in your Barleycup mixed with water and stir until combined.

Carefully fill the tart case with the Barleycup and chocolate mix, level it off and make an artistic swirl or ripple on the top if you want. Put your tart in the fridge for a minimum of two hours, or overnight if you wish.

To serve, garnish with raspberries or chopped nuts. It is very rich, so a little goes a long way.

I can confirm that Barleycup is a great coffee substitute in baking. It works really well, adding a slight bitter note and complexity to the tart. I’ll definitely be baking with it again, I wonder what a Barleycup and walnut cake would be like?

Recipe: Indulgent Chocolate Barleycup Tart

Note: I was set a jar of Barleycup to bake with. I have not been otherwise compensated for this post.

 

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Cranachan is a traditional Scottish pudding, usually made with whipped cream, whisky, honey and fresh raspberries, with toasted oatmeal soaked overnight in a little bit of whisky. Whilst my Cranachan Shortbread recipe isn’t faithful to the original, it is considerably inspired by this Caledonian classic.

This Cranachan Shortbread recipe is a beautifully short and crumbly whisky shortbread, dipped in chocolate and sprinkled with dried, crushed raspberries. It’s a biscuit and a half and a real Scottish inspired treat.

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Dried raspberries are available, but hard to find. Unsuccessful, I ended up drying my own in a very low oven for many, many hours. I then crushed them in a pestle and mortar. I was pleasantly surprised with how they turned out, they didn’t smell especially powerful, but they certainly packed a flavour punch. They’d be great sprinkled on all kinds of cakes and desserts.

Cranachan Shortbread with whisky

Ingredients:
225g butter
130g caster sugar
350g plain flour
3 tablespoons of whisky
Caster sugar for sprinkling
100g milk chocolate
1 punnet of raspberries, dried

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Method:
Pre-heat your oven to 180. You’ll need to have a couple of baking trays covered with greaseproof paper ready.

In a mixing bowl, thoroughly beat the butter and sugar together. Once fluffy, add the whisky and little by little add the plain flour. Mix with a wooden spoon as best you can. Try not to overwork it too much or the dough will go gluey.

I find the following method tidier and it stops you manhandling the dough too much. Once the shortbread dough is almost mixed, tip it out onto a large sheet of greaseproof paper; bring the dough together with your hands and then fold the paper in half with the mixture sandwiched in between.

With a rolling-pin, roll it out so it’s about 5mm thick and cut into rounds. I used a glass for this and carefully lifted each shortbread biscuit onto the baking tray. You should get around 18 shortbread biscuits out of the dough. Sprinkle a pinch of sugar over each round.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for 12-15 minutes. Keep an eye on the shortbread, they still need to be pale and not brown. Once they’re baked, remove from the oven and leave to cool on a rack.

Whilst the shortbread biscuits are cooling, melt the chocolate over a bain marie. Once melted, dip each shortbread into the chocolate and half coat it, put your biscuit back on the greaseproof paper and sprinkle the dried raspberries. Try to resist eating your shortbread until the chocolate has set.

Enjoy with a cup of tea or a wee dram if you’re so inclined! Sláinte!

If you’ve enjoyed this recipe, you might also like this Haggis, potato cake & poached egg stack or these delicious haggis pasties.

Recipe: Crumbly Cranachan Shortbread with Whisky

Recipe: Delicious Armenian Red Cabbage Salad

For our wedding anniversary a few weeks ago, my husband and I went to the Armenian Taverna in Manchester for dinner. We used to go there a lot in the days before we became parents, partly because the food was absolutely fantastic and partly because my husband is half Armenian and it’s good to celebrate those roots. Together we feasted on the beautiful mezze plates and chatted like the old days. We both fought over the small but delicious portion of Armenian Red Cabbage Salad, a dish I’ve decided to recreate at home because it was that good!

Mezze is always my favourite part of any Armenian meal. I love piling my plate with little heaps of good salads and sides, with dollops of rich hummus served with still warm lavash bread. Delicious.

Recipe: Delicious Armenian Red Cabbage Salad

This Armenian Red Cabbage Salad is and always has been one of my favourite dishes. The salad is really simple to make and keeps for a few days in the fridge. I like to make a big bowl of it and serve it with almost anything. We had it this week with lamb koftas with a little salad and some lavash bread. It was so good I polished the rest of the bowl off for lunch.

It is better if you can make it the day before you need it as it really allows the flavours to develop. It’s so simple and I think a really flavoursome and slightly healthier alternative to coleslaw.

Armenian Red Cabbage Salad

Ingredients
1 small red cabbage, or half a large one
1 dessert spoon of caster sugar
2 dessert spoons of Balsamic vinegar
1 dessert spoon of good olive oil
A handful or sultanas or craisins
A good handful of fresh flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
Salt & pepper
Walnuts, optional

Method
Finely slice your red cabbage and toss in a bowl to separate all the slices. In a small jar add your sugar, balsamic vinegar, olive oil and some seasoning. Put the lid on the jar and shake it hard until it is well combined.

Pour the dressing over the red cabbage, add in your handful of sultanas or craisins and stir. Give the salad a taste and add more seasoning if you think it needs it. Cover the bowl and put in the fridge overnight.

Before serving, remove from the fridge and leave it out for an hour or so to bring it up to near room temperature. Stir through the chopped parsley and taste again to check the seasoning, adjust if you think it needs it. If I have any walnuts I sometimes like to chop them up a little and throw them into the salad too.

Recipe: Delicious Armenian Red Cabbage Salad

Serve however you want. We like our Armenian Red Cabbage Salad served with a mezze lunch or it’s great with lamb or this traditional Armenian Imam Bayildi recipe. This Armenian Red Cabbage Salad hits so many delicious sweet, sour and crunchy notes, I’m sure it’ll become a family favourite of yours too!

Recipe: Delicious Armenian Red Cabbage Salad

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 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

Lemon and thyme sponge pudding