Sunday, 24 January 2010

Baked Mini Doughnuts

Very yummy, low in fat, and dusted with cinnamon sugar - a lovely treat :-)

Makes: 12 mini doughnuts
Takes: 5 minutes + 10 minutes cooking time


3 1/2 oz (100g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 3/4 oz (75g) caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tsp corn oil
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
4 tbsp skimmed milk
low-fat cooking spray

4 tsp caster sugar and 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon to serve

  1. Preheat the oven to 170oC/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Put all the ingredients except the extra sugar and the cinnamon into a bowl and beat to form a smooth batter (a hand-held electric whisk is ideal for this).
  3. Spray a mini doughnut baking sheet with the cooking spray and spoon batter into each space, making sure you don't overfill or the doughnuts will have no holes!
  4. Cook for about 10 minutes, until risen and firm to the touch. They won't go very brown.
  5. Mix together the extra sugar and the ground cinnamon on a small plate. As you turn the warm doughnuts out of the tin, dip the base of each into the sugar and leave to cool on a wire rack.
Notes: This recipe makes more than enough batter for 12 mini doughnuts - don't be tempted to try to get all of it into the tin! You can use the leftover mixture to make a couple of larger 'doughnut cupcakes'; line a couple of holes of a cupcake tin with non-stick baking parchment and spray with cooking spray, spoon in the batter, and bake for 15 minutes or until risen and lightly browned. Lovely split while still warm and spread with jam :-)
The baking tins are available from Lakeland Ltd.
If you don't plan to eat all the doughnuts immediately, they should freeze fine. I've never tried to freeze them though, they don't last that long!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Oven-baked Mushroom and Thyme Risotto

No pesky stirring for hours over a hot stove! After a little bit of preparation, stick it in the oven till the rice is cooked. Easy!

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 10 minutes + 25 minutes cooking time


25g pack dried porcini mushrooms
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small onion
2 cloves of garlic
350g risotto rice
2 tsp fresh thyme leaves
750ml vegetable stock
100ml white wine
salt and pepper
handful of freshly grated parmesan (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 190oC/fan 170oC/Gas Mark 5.
  2. Put the mushrooms in a bowl and pour over 425ml boiling water. Set aside to soak for 10 minutes.
  3. Heat the oil in a large pan. Finely chop the onion and cook gently for 2 minutes until it starts to soften then add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  4. Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid, and chop them. Put them into the pan with the rice and thyme leaves and stir well.
  5. Strain the mushroom-soaking liquid into the pan and add the stock and wine. Stir thoroughly and bring to the boil. Season to taste.
  6. Pour into a large overnproof dish and put into the oven. Bake for 25 minutes, till the rice is just cooked and all the liquid has been absorbed.
  7. Stir in the grated parmesan if using. Serve with extra parmesan shavings and thyme leaves sprinkled over, if desired.
Great as a dinner party dish, either as a vegetarian main with a side salad and crusty bread, or as a side dish with chicken or beef. Or mix in some cooked smoked bacon. Yum!
Leave out the wine if you prefer and use extra stock instead. And if it doesn't matter about being a vegetarian dish, chicken stock also works well.

Friday, 15 January 2010


With thanks and due credit to Amy, whose recipe I tweaked and adapted (I know she doesn't mind that I tweaked and adapted, as that's how she cooks too!) My preference is for lemon and coriander hummous, so that's what this recipe makes, though you can leave out the lemon juice and coriander if you wish.

Makes: About a jamjar full
Takes: 5 minutes


400g tin of chickpeas
1 lemon
2 tbsp tahini
1 tsp garlic paste (or 1 clove garlic, finely chopped)
1 small handful of fresh coriander leaves
Salt and pepper

  1. Drain the chickpeas and finely grate the lemon rind and squeeze out the juice.
  2. Place all the ingredients into a bowl or jug and blitz to the desired consistency with a handheld stick blender.
A jug blender would be fine, but pulse for just a few seconds at a time to keep an eye on the consistency. If you don't have either, mash the chickpeas and chop the coriander before thoroughly mixing all the ingredients together.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

Victoria Sponge

A lovely, easy, basic recipe that's easy to play with to give you flavour variations.

Makes: 1 large cake or 4 dozen cupcakes
Takes: 10 minutes + baking time


8 oz caster sugar
8 oz butter or margarine
4 eggs
4 tbsp milk
2 tsp vanilla essence
8 oz self-raising flour

  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC fan and grease and line a large round cake tin.
  2. Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy (I use a handheld electric whisk, but you could use a food processor or just beat by heand with a wooden spoon).
  3. Beat in the eggs, milk and vanilla then sift in the flour and mix well.
  4. Pour the batter into the tin and bake for about 45-50 minutes until well-risen, golden brown, and springy to the touch. Check by pushing a skewer into the centre - if it comes out clean, the cake is cooked.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn onto a wire rack. When cold, cut in half horizontally, spread one half with jam and sandwich the pieces back together. Sprinkle sugar on the top just before serving.
Variations: You could add different essences instead of vanilla. For chocolate cake, instead of milk, add 4 heaped teaspoons cocoa powder mixed with 4 tablespoons boiling water. For fillings you can use lemon curd, chocolate spread, buttercream; or whipped fresh cream; for toppings, glace icing, melted chocolate, more buttercream or fresh cream... Use your imagination!

Alternative: You can use this same recipe to make cupcakes by spooning the mixture into paper cases in a cupcake tin. These will only need 15-20 minutes to cook.

Top tip: If you want a smooth flat surface for icing or chocolate, turn the cake upside down before decorating.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Cheat's Stroganof

A great way to use up leftover meat from a roast dinner. Quantities given are a little vague, as it really depends how much meat you have left over!

Cheat's Stroganof

Makes: Depends how much meat you have
Takes: 10 minutes


Cooked meat of any kind (chicken, beef, pork - the photo shows a mixture of turkey and gammon)
Condensed mushroom soup
Black pepper

  1. Cut the meat into bite-sized pieces.
  2. Put into a saucepan and add enough condensed soup to coat the meat and give you a 'sauce'.
  3. Heat through and season with plenty of black pepper.
Spare portions freeze well, just defrost and heat through when required.
With the soup, I just add a tin at a time - we usually have a few tins in the storecupboard ready for making this recipe.
I often add sliced mushrooms, though they don't tend to freeze so well so they're better to add to the portion you're going to eat straight away! You could add onions and a bit of garlic, too. Just start off with a small amount of oil in the saucepan and saute till soft before adding the meat and soup.

Saturday, 2 January 2010

Chocolate Surprise Pudding

As it cooks, it separates out into a sponge topping with a lovely crunchy crust, and a rich chocolate sauce underneath. Yum!

Chocolate Surprise Pudding

Makes: Enough for 4-6 people
Takes: 10 minutes + at least 1 hour chilling time + about 45 minutes cooking time


4 1/2 oz plain flour
1 pinch salt
2 1/4 oz caster sugar
2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp cocoa powder
4 fl oz milk
1 1/2 oz butter, melted
1 egg
6 oz demerara sugar
2 tbsp cocoa
9 fl oz boiling water

  1. Grease a 1 1/4 pint pie dish.
  2. Sift together the flour, salt, sugar, baking powder and 2 tbsp cocoa powder.
  3. Combine the milk, butter and egg in a separate bowl then mix into the dry ingredients.
  4. Pour into the pie dish, cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (overnight is fine if you want to make it in advance).
  5. Preheat the oven at 180oC.
  6. Sift the other 2 tbsp cocoa powder and mix with the demerara sugar and sprinkle over the top of the pudding.
  7. Pour over the boiling water then bake for 45 minutes, until puffy and firm.
Keep an eye on it - I usually find it only needs about 30 minutes at 180oC in a fan oven.
Good hot, warm or cold :-)