Wednesday, 26 May 2010


This is the pancake recipe that works best of all those I've tried :-)

Makes: 12-14 pancakes
Takes: 10 minutes + 10 minutes cooking time


4 oz plain flour
a pinch of salt
2 large or 3 small eggs
7 fl oz milk
3 fl oz water
2 tbsp butter

  1. Sift the flour and salt into a large bowl then make a well in the centre. Break the eggs into the well and mix the milk and water together in a jug.
  2. Start to whisk the eggs, gradually incorporating the flour. Add the milk and water gradually at the same time. Once all the flour has been mixed in and all the milk and water added, whisk well till the batter has the consistency of thin cream.
  3. The batter doesn't need to stand but you can cover it and put it aside now if you wish, while you eat your main course for example. Just stir well before using.
  4. When ready to cook the pancakes, melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan and pour into the batter, stirring well. Use a spatula to gently scrape as much of the butter out of the pan as possible.
  5. Get the pan really hot then lower the heat to medium. Spoon in a ladleful of batter and tilt the pan to coat the base evenly and thinly. It should be ready when the top has dried out and the bottom is golden - you can turn or flip it to lightly brown the other side too if you wish.
  6. If you want to keep the finished pancakes warm while you cook the rest of the batch, put a plate over a pan of simmering water and cover with foil. Add each pancake to the plate as it is cooked. (In our family we eat them as they're ready, taking it in turns!)
Serve as desired - with sugar and lemon juice, jam, honey, golden syrup, maple syrup, chocolate spread, chocolate sauce, ice cream, fruit compote.... The possibilities are endless!

Apple and sultana muffins

Delicious as muffins or cupcakes :-)

Makes: 12 muffins or 24 cupcakes.
Takes: 15 minutes + 15 minutes cooking time


2 3/4 oz (75g) butter or margarine
3 1/2 oz (100g) caster sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla essence
200g jar apple sauce
1 large dessert apple
1 3/4 oz (50g) sultanas
7 oz (200g) self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp ground cinnamon

  1. Preheat the oven to 170oC (fan oven)/190oC/Gas Mark 5 and line muffin or cupcake tins with paper cases.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar in a large bowl then mix in the egg and the vanilla essence. Stir in the apple sauce and mix thoroughly.
  3. Peel and core the apple and dice finely. Add to the mixture with the sultanas and stir well.
  4. Sift together the flour, baking powder and cinnamon into a separate bowl then tip into the apple mixture and quickly stir till just combined.
  5. Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 12-15 minutes, until risen, golden-brown and firm to the touch. Cool on a wire rack.
The cakes keep well in a tin for a few days, or can be frozen.

Carrot cake muffins

One word - YUM! With or without the cream cheese frosting, these are so delicious :-)

Makes: 12 muffins or 24 cupcakes
Takes: 10 minutes + 20-25 minutes cooking time


9oz (250g) plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1 egg
3 1/2 fl oz (100 ml) water
1 tbsp runny honey
3 1/2 oz (100g) soft brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
10 1/2 oz (300g) peeled, topped and tailed carrots
4 tbsp corn oil (I use light olive oil)

For the icing (optional)

1 3/4 oz (50g) light cream cheese
3 1/2 oz (100g) icing sugar
1/2 tsp orange or lemon juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 180oC (fan oven)/190oC/Gas Mark 5 and line muffin tins or cupcake tins with paper cases.
  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and cinnamon into a bowl.
  3. In a separate, large, bowl, beat the egg then mix in the water, honey, sugar and vanilla. Grate the carrot and stir into the mixture.
  4. Add the oil to the carrot mixture and stir well. Tip the dry ingredients into the bowl and quickly mix to just combine. (The mixture should still be lumpy and don't worry about occasional streaks of flour.)
  5. Spoon into the paper cases and bake for 20-25 minutes, until firm and springy. Cool in a wire rack.
  6. If icing, allow the cakes to cool completely first. Mix the cheese, icing sugar and juice together thoroughly and spread a little over the top of each muffin.
They will keep well in a tin for a few days, or can be frozen without the icing.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Pesto chicken

I use my nut-free pesto for this but you can of course use the usual kind, bought or homemade.

Makes: 2 servings
Takes: 20 minutes


2 boneless chicken breasts, skin on
2 tbsp pesto
salt and pepper
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp milk


  1. Loosen the skin of the chicken with your fingers, making sure it stays attached along one side. Spread 1/2 tablespoon pesto over each chicken breast, pull the skin back over to cover, then season.

  2. Heat the oil in a frying pan over a high heat then place the chicken into the pan skin side down. Fry for about 3 minutes until the skin is crisp.

  3. Turn the chicken over, reduce the heat, then cover the pan and cook for about 10 minutes until cooked through. Remove from the pan and keep warm.

  4. Add the other tablespoon of pesto to the pan with the milk, mix with the juices and heat till bubbling. Season to taste. Serve the chicken with the pesto sauce poured over.
Notes: Great served with new potatoes roasted with sprigs of rosemary, and with a green vegetable such as spinach, green beans or broccoli.
You could get away with using a bit less oil if you have a good non-stick pan, but you do need to use a little to get the skin to crisp.

Nut-free Pesto

My nut allergy counts out pesto, so I was thrilled to find a recipe that doesn't use nuts! And without the nuts and with no added cheese, it's lower in fat than the standard version, too :-)

Makes: A jar full
Takes: 5 minutes


1 can white beans (eg cannellini or haricot) - about 200g
1 clove garlic or 1 tsp garlic puree
60g fresh basil leaves (see notes below)
1/2 tsp salt
100 ml olive oil
black pepper

  1. Drain and rinse the beans and put into a food processor with all the other ingredients.
  2. Process until smooth, decant into a jar and store in the fridge.
Notes: I have no idea how much basil weighs 60g. I buy a pot of 'growing basil' from the supermarket and use all the leaves from that (and a bit of stalk usually goes in too!) and that seems to work fine.
This keeps in the fridge for a few days. Try not to push it to the back of the fridge and forget about it though as it goes a strange colour after a couple of weeks or so...

Saturday, 8 May 2010

Two meals in one: Salmon fried rice

Use the leftovers from the Mediterranean-style roasted salmon and add a few more ingredients to make this dish.


1/2 red pepper
100g baby sweetcorn
100g sugar snap peas
1 tsp olive oil
1 sachet Thai basil and lemon stir-fry sauce
basmati and wild rice (left over from previous day)
50g pak choi or mixed stir-fry leaves
1 salmon fillet (left over from previous day)
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp coriander
juice of 1 lime

  1. Cut the pepper, baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas into bite-sized pieces. Heat the oil and fry the vegetables for 2 minutes.
  2. Add the stir-fry sauce and rice and mix thoroughly then heat for 4 minutes. Stir through the pak choi or stir-fry leaves, flaked salmon and soy sauce, and cook for a further 2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the coriander and squeeze over the lime juice just before serving.
You can also add a sliced spring onion and/or a few unsalted peanuts at step 3.

Two meals in one: Mediterranean-style roasted salmon

Make this one night and use the leftovers with a few added ingredients to make the next day's meal!

Makes: 2 servings
Takes: 5 minutes plus 15 minutes cooking time


few sprigs each of basil, mint and parsley
zest of 1 lemon
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
3 salmon fillets
250g cherry tomatoes on the vine
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
225g basmati and wild rice

  1. Pre-heat oven to 220oC. Mix the chopped herbs with the lemon zest and 1 tbsp of the olive oil then toss the salmon fillets in the mixture. Place into a roasting tin.
  2. Put the tomatoes into the tin and drizzle with the balsamic vinegar and the remaining 1/2 tbsp olive oil. Roast the salmon and tomatoes for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, cook the rice. When rice and salmon are ready, serve two-thirds of the rice with the tomatoes and two of the salmon fillets, drizzling with the juices from the pan.
  4. Cool the remaining rice under cold running water. Refrigerate with the cooled salmon fillet.
Very nice as it is, but I'd recommend adding some green vegetables on the side too.