Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Lamb Provencal

A lovely fresh tomato and courgette sauce that works well with lamb but would also go with chicken or beef if you prefer! Ingredients here are for one portion but it's easy to increase quantities to make more servings. Allow a bit more preparation time if making more than one portion though.

Makes: 1 portion
Takes: 10 minutes plus 20 minutes cooking time


2 fresh tomatoes
1 clove of garlic
2 spring onions or 1/2 a small leek
1 courgette
3 tbsp dry white wine
a few basil leaves
4 1/2 oz/125g lean lamb steak
salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Use a sharp knife to score small crosses in the base of the tomatoes. Place in a bowl and pour boiling water over. Remove after 30 seconds and slip off the skins, then quarter, remove the cores, and chop the flesh.
  2. Crush the garlic and chop the spring onions or leek and the courgette. Place all these in a pan with the tomatoes and add the wine and seasoning. Cook until it starts sizzling then reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently until the vegetables have softened.
  3. Season the lamb and grill or griddle for about 5 minutes each side until cooked to your taste. Tear the basil into pieces and stir into the sauce then serve the lamb with the sauce spooned over.
Good with a few chips or a jacket potato. It does make plenty of sauce so you may not need a vegetable to go with it, but green beans go well.

Summer berry muffins

Use any fresh berries - stick to one variety or mix several together. (The photo shows a blueberry muffin.)

Makes: 12 muffins, 24 cupcakes, or a number of mini muffins!
Takes: 10 minutes plus 20 minutes cooking time


6 oz/175g berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, redcurrants, cherries...
10 oz/300g self-raising flour
1 tsp baking powder
5 oz/150g caster sugar
3 1/2 fl oz/100 ml plain yogurt
4 fl oz/125 ml milk
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla essence
4 1/2 oz/125g butter or margarine


  1. Preheat the oven to 200oC/180oC (fan oven)/Gas Mark 6. Line the muffin or cupcake tin of your choice with paper cases.

  2. Sift together the flour, baking powder and caster sugar into a large bowl. If using cherries, halve them and remove the stones; if using larger berries (eg strawberries), cut them into pieces the size of blueberries. Fold the fruit into the flour mixture.

  3. In a separate bowl, mix together the yogurt, milk, egg (beaten) and vanilla. Melt the butter and stir into the other wet ingredients.

  4. Pour the yogurt mixture into the dry ingredients and quickly mix until just combined. Spoon into the paper cases then bake for about 20 minutes, until risen and golden.

  5. Cool in the tin for a few minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
You can if you like reserve some of the fruit and add a berry or two to the top of each muffin before baking. Another option is to make a simple cream cheese frosting - swirl this on top of each muffin and add a berry or two to decorate.


For Black Forest muffins, use 9 oz self-raising flour and add 1 oz cocoa powder. The fruit should of course be cherries! You could add some chocolate chunks to the mixture too. Chocolate frosting and a cherry to decorate each muffin would finish these off beautifully!

Mini cinnamon rolls

A lovely treat, best eaten while still warm and very fresh.

Makes: 8
Takes: 15 minutes plus 15 minutes cooking time


4 oz (110g) self-raising flour plus a little extra for rolling
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp butter or margarine
zest of 1/2 lemon
4 tbsp milk
1/2 oz (15g) soft brown sugar
3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp golden syrup

  1. Preheat the oven to 220oC/200oC (fan oven)/Gas Mark 7 and line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking pwder into a large mixing bowl. Rub in 1 tablespoon of the butter with your fingertips.
  3. Finely grate the lemon zest and stir into the flour. Gradually mix in the milk to form a soft dough - you may not need all of the milk. Gently knead the dough until smooth.
  4. Flour your work surface and a rolling pin. Roll out the dough to a rectangle 18 x 14 cm (7 x 5 1/2 inches).
  5. Spread the dough with butter, leaving a 1 cm (1/2 inch) border clear along one long side. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the buttered dough.
  6. Brush the border with water and roll the dough from the opposite long side up to the moistened border, pressing it gently to seal. Cut into 8 slices with a very sharp knife.
  7. Arrange the slices onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each one. Bake for 12-15 minutes until light golden brown.
  8. As soon as the rolls have come out of the oven, warm the syrup until thin and runny (this only takes a few seconds in the microwave). Spoon a little syrup over each bun.
These are a bit fiddly to make, but worth the effort. The rolls can be frozen without the syrup so one option is to increase the quantities and freeze for a future occasion.

Rice pudding

Real comfort food :-) This recipe gives a lovely nutmeggy caramelised skin on top (which you can always remove if you must...)

Makes: 4 servings
Takes: 5 minutes plus 2 hours cooking time


4 oz pudding rice
1 pint milk
1 3/4 oz caster sugar
1 oz butter
ground nutmeg

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 160oC/150oC (fan oven)/Gas Mark 3 and grease a 2-pint pie dish.
  2. Put the rice, milk and sugar into the pie dish and stir well. Dot the top with butter and bake for 1 hour.
  3. Stir with a fork, sprinkle with nutmeg and return to the oven for a further hour.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Banana bread

Very easy and absolutely delicious - ideal for lunchboxes, picnics, afternoon tea, evening snacks, breakfast, midnight feasts...

Makes: 12 slices
Takes: 10 minutes plus 1 hour cooking time


4 very ripe bananas
2 3/4 oz butter or margarine
7 oz brown sugar
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla essence
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
pinch of salt
8 oz plain flour

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180oC (fan oven) and grease and line a 2lb loaf tin.
  2. Mash the bananas to a pulp with the butter (softened if necessary). Mix in the sugar, the egg (beaten), and the vanilla essence.
  3. Sift in the bicarbonate of soda, salt and flour and mix everything together thoroughly. Pour into the prepared tin.
  4. Bake for about an hour, until a skewer inserted into the middle of the loaf comes out clean. If the top starts to look too brown before the centre is cooked, cover loosely with some foil.
  5. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out onto a wire cooling rack. It's easier to remove the lining paper after the loaf has cooled down. Allow to cool completely before slicing.
Freezes well, either as a complete loaf or as individual slices. Pop a frozen slice into a packed lunch and it will have defrosted by lunchtime!