Marmite & Cheddar Spirals

Marmite and Cheddar spirals

Love Marmite, or loathe it, these easy spirals are perfect for lunch boxes or picnics. If you really can’t stand Marmite, just leave it out and use only your favourite cheese; or try spreading with pesto or ‘nduja instead. And if you’re in a hurry, then a batch of savoury scone dough can be used in place of the bread (no proving required), or for ease you could use a 500g pack of bread mix, to save all the weighing and measuring.

Prepare: 25 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Makes: 12

500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
7g sachet fast action yeast
½ tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
2 tbsp Marmite, or to taste (the squeezy one is easier to use for this recipe, if you have it)
100g Cheddar cheese, grated

  1. Place the flour into a large bowl. Put the yeast to one side of the bowl and the salt and sugar on the other side. Gradually mix in 250-300ml water until very soft.
  2. Keep kneading either by hand or with a stand mixer until the bowl is clean and the dough is smooth and elastic. Cover and set aside in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in size.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200C, gas mark 6 and line a large baking tray with parchment paper.
    Turn onto a floured surface and using a rolling pin, roll into a large rectangle – about 35-40×25-30cm. Spread or squeeze over the marmite, as evenly as possible, then scatter over the cheese. Starting at the long edge in front of you, roll up, like a swiss roll. Then using a sharp knife, cut into 12 even pieces.
  4. Place cut-sides up on the prepared tray and place into the oven for 20 minutes, or until bubbling, risen and golden. Leave to cool slightly and serve warm or cold. They are best on the day they are baked, but will keep in an airtight container for a day or two.

Continue Reading

Tasty turkey meatballs in tomato sauce

These meatballs are really quick and easy to make, so they’re perfect for a meal during the week. You can also freeze them, and the sauce (although I would do this separately) so they’re always ready to use.

Prepare: 20 minutes
Cook: 45-55 minutes
Serves: 6

1 onion, peeled
1 stick celery
1 carrot, peeled
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried thyme
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 tsp sugar
500g turkey mince (thigh or breast mince)
1 medium egg
2 1/2 tbsp breadcrumbs
3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan (or extra mature Cheddar)
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

  1. Put the onion, celery, carrot and garlic into a food processor and blitz until very finely chopped (or you can do this by hand.) Reserve 2 tablespoons of the mixture for the meatballs.
  2. Warm the oil in a large, heavy-based frying pan or shallow casserole, add the vegetable mixture, along with the thyme, and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes, filling up each empty can with water and adding that to the pan too. Season with the sugar, 1 tsp sea salt flakes (or 1/2 tsp table salt) and some pepper. Stir well and let the mixture come to the boil, then turn the heat down and simmer gently while you make the meatballs.
  4. Put the reserved chopped vegetables into a large bowl with mince, egg, breadcrumbs, cheese and Worcestershire sauce. Season with 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes and mix together lightly with your hands. Dampen your hands with a little cold water and roll teaspoon sized pieces of mince into balls. Put each one onto a large, lined baking tray or board as you go, to make about 50 little meatballs.
  5. Drop the meatballs gently into the simmering sauce – working from the outside of the pan, in concentric circles. Simmer gently for 20-30 minutes, turning the balls over halfway through, until thoroughly cooked. Serve with pasta, rice, couscous or even a jacket potato or wrap.
Tasty turkey meatballs in tomato sauce….

Continue Reading

Chocolate orange pudding

This deliciously rich pudding makes it’s own gooey sauce as it cooks. It’s one of those strange self-saucing bakes where you pour the sauce over the top of the cake batter, before baking. Then the layers swap over in the oven. We call it an ‘impossible pudding’ in our house.

Prepare: 15 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Serves: 8

100g butter , melted, plus extra for greasing
250g self-raising flour
140g caster sugar
75g cocoa
1 tsp baking powder
1 large orange, finely grated zest and juice
3 medium eggs
150ml milk
100g orange dark or milk chocolate, broken into pieces (I used Lindt orange milk chocolate)
200g light soft brown sugar

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and grease a 2 litre ovenproof baking dish with a little butter. Put the flour, caster sugar, 50g of the cocoa, baking powder, orange zest and a pinch of sea salt flakes in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk the orange juice, eggs, melted butter and milk together, then gradually pour this onto the dry ingredients, whisking throughout, until smooth. Stir in the chocolate pieces. Spoon the mixture into the baking dish.
  3. Mix 300ml freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa. Pour this all over the pudding batter – don’t worry, it will look really odd and unappetising at this stage!
  4. Bake for 30 minutes, until the surface looks firm and risen. Spoon into serving bowls, together with the rich, glossy sauce beneath. Eat immediately with cream, custard or vanilla ice cream.

    Top tip: If you don’t like chocolate and orange together, just leave out the fruit (adding a little extra milk to loosen the sponge) and use plain dark or milk chocolate instead.

    You can even do this in a slow cooker: Remove and grease the slow cooker pot. Follow steps 1 and 2 above, then spoon the mixture into the slow cooker pot. Mix 275-285ml (1/2 pint) freshly-boiled water with the soft brown sugar and remaining 25g cocoa then pour this over the batter. Return the pot to the slow cooker base, cover and cook on high for 3 hours, until firm and risen.

Continue Reading

Crispy-topped fish pie

Easy fish pie with crunchy topping

This recipe couldn’t be easier. It’s super tasty and nourishing – perfect for family meals or a bit of easy entertaining. You can make it ahead if you like too – just to make things even easier. Keep reading to find out how…

Prepare: 10 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Serves: 6

500ml whole milk
2 fresh bay leaves
1 small onion, finely chopped
3-4 anchovies in olive oil, drained and chopped
4 tbsp cornflour
4 tbsp dry white wine
750g mixed fish fillet (haddock, cod, salmon), skinned, in large chunks
150-250g raw, peeled king prawns
2 tbsp flat-leaf parsley, chopped
75g fresh breadcrumbs
25g Parmesan, finely grated

  1. Preheat the grill to medium. Pour the milk into a large, shallow, ovenproof and flameproof casserole dish (or use a saucepan and transfer to an ovenproof dish later). Add the bay leaves, onion and anchovies and bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes or until the onion is tender.
  2. Mix the cornflour with 4 tbsp cold water to make a paste. Stir into the milk and simmer for 2-3 minutes, until thickened slightly.
  3. Stir in the white wine and then the fish. Season and cook for 2-3 minutes. Stir in the prawns and cook for a further 3-5 minutes or until the prawns are pink. Remove the bay leaves, then add the parsley.
  4. If needed, transfer the mixture into a 2 litre ovenproof dish. Mix the breadcrumbs and cheese together, then scatter over the top of the fish. Grill for 5 minutes or until golden and bubbling. Serve immediately. Great with steamed green beans.

Top tips: if you’re a fan of peas, add a few handfuls of frozen or fresh peas to the mixture at the same time as the fish. And if you want to make this ahead, just make the fish layer, then cool, cover and chill for up to 24 hours, then when ready to eat, reheat gently and add the crumbs at the last minute and continue as above.

Perfect wine match: Pialli Tai Rosso from VinAnima find some more info here:

Click here for quick video of how to make it….

Continue Reading

Chocolate orange cookies

Chocolate orange cookies

These super easy cookies are made with just 5 ingredients. They are like a chocolate shortbread really – buttery, crumbly and delicious. Add some choc chunks too if you like, or drizzle melted chocolate over them too once cooled. Keep reading for my top tip on how to get them all a beautifully even, round shape too….

175g butter , softened
85g golden caster sugar
200g plain flour
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 orange, finely grated zest

  1. Mix the butter and sugar together with a wooden spoon. Stir in the flour and cocoa, followed by the orange zest.
  2. Roll the dough into a log about 6-7cm thick – or adjust, depending on how big or small your want your cookies. Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour, until firm, or for up to 5 days. The dough can also be frozen at this stage, for up to 1 month.
  3. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4. Using a sharp knife, cut the unwrapped log into 1cm-thick rounds. Transfer to a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake for 10-12 minutes.
  4. Remove from the oven and immediately, while they are still hot, use a round cutter, just bigger than the cookies, to shape each one like this….see the video below…this is called cookie scooting. Leave them to cool on the tray.
How to scoot cookies and biscuits so they are round and even every time
Continue Reading

Autumn braised lentils

Autumn braised lentils

This easy recipe is perfect for warming you up on a cold Autumnal day. They’re great with sausages and meats, or scattered over a salad or into soup to make it more substantial. I’ve even been known to add them to a bolognaise to increase the veg quota without the children being any the wiser. They also freeze really well – the lentils, not the children.

425g lentils (brown, green or Puy)
1 tbsp olive oil
2 cloves garlic or 1 tsp garlic granules
1 onion, diced
2 sticks celery, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
A few thyme sprigs (I keep mine in the freezer then add them straight from frozen)
3 bay leaves (as above – keep them in the freezer)
800ml vegetable stock, hot
6 cavolo nero leaves, stalks removed, finely shredded

  1. Rinse the lentils under cold running water in a sieve then drain well.
  2. Warm the oil in a wide ovenproof cast iron pan then add the garlic or garlic granules, and the onion, celery and carrot. Cover and cook gently for 10-15 minutes, until softened.
  3. Add the lentils and mix well to coat in the oil. Add the herbs, followed by the stock. Cover and simmer for 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are as tender as you like them, and have absorbed almost all the liquid. Alternatively, you can do this in a preheated oven at 170C, gas mark 3.
  4. Mix the cavolo nero into the lentils and leave to wilt. Season and serve, or set aside to cool.

Tip: these lentils will keep in the fridge for up to 3 days and can be eaten cold or hot – just make sure you reheat them really thoroughly before eating. The same applies if you are freezing them – add a little extra stock or water too during reheating if they look a little dry.

Continue Reading

Courgette, lemon & lime traybake with cream cheese frosting

This traybake is incredibly easy to make and tastes delicious. Better still my children love it and have zero idea that they’re actually eating vegetables!! It’s based on the recipe from page 18 of Nigella Lawson’s ‘How to be a domestic goddess’, with a few tweaks here and there which I think make life easier.

Prepare: 15 minutes
Cook: 25-30 minutes
Serves: 12-18

1 large courgette (300-350g), washed and dried
2 large eggs
125ml vegetable oil
150g caster sugar
Finely grated zest of 1 small lemon
Finely grated zest 1/2 lime
225g self-raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the cream cheese frosting:
100g icing sugar
200g cream cheese
Juice of 1/2 lime, plus some zest to serve (optional)
Juice of 1/2 small lemon

1. Preheat the oven to 180C, gas mark 4 and line a 20x30cm rectangular tin. Coarsely grate the courgette and put in a sieve over the sink to drain a little.

2. Put the eggs, oil and sugar in a bowl and beat well until all the sugar has dissolved and you have a creamy batter. Add the lemon and lime zests.

3. Sieve the flour, bicarb and baking powder into the bowl and mix well to combine, then stir in the courgette. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 25-30 minutes or until golden and springy to the touch. Leave in the tin for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack and leaving to cool completely.

4. To make the frosting, sieve the icing sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the cream cheese and citrus juices. Whisk thoroughly until smooth and thickened. Spread onto the cake. I like to put the cake into the fridge for at least 1-2 hours at this point but you can eat it immediately.

Cook’s tip: the cake keeps really well in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-5 days. I actually think it’s better about 24-48 hours it’s baked.

Continue Reading

Sesame & banana traybake

There’s no added sugar in this easy cake recipe – just honey – and no eggs either. It’s quick to make and if you don’t like sesame seeds, just leave them out.

Prepare: 10 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Makes: 16 squares

30g unsalted butter
3 tbsp clear honey
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
150g plain flour
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp mixed spice
Large pinch sea salt flakes
2 large, very ripe bananas
Sesame seeds, to sprinkle

  1. Preheat the oven to 190C, gas mark 5 and line a 20x20cm square tin with baking parchment.
  2. Warm the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small pan over a low heat until melted. Then set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, put the flour, baking powder, bicarb, mixed spice and salt into a large bowl. Mash the bananas and mix with the butter mixture. Don’t over mix – it should be lumpy, but all the flour should be incorporated.
  4. Pour into the prepared tin, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake for 20 minutes until springy to touch. Leave to cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Top tip: you could also spoon the mixture into 12 muffin cases – they might take 20-25 minutes to cook though. Try swapping the sesame seeds for roughly chopped walnuts, or a blend of pumpkin, sunflower and linseeds.

Continue Reading

Roast chicken with orzo

A variation on one of my most-cooked recipe’s from the amazing Diana Henry. In her version, Diana stuff’s the chicken with a feta and tomato mixture – it’s delicious, but I didn’t have time or the ingredients to do that this time.

Prepare: 5 minutes
Cook: 80 minutes
Serves: 6

1.8kg whole chicken
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp za’atar (optional)
225g orzo pasta
500ml hot chicken stock
1 tbsp chopped fresh parsley or oregano

1 Preheat the oven to 190°C, gas mark 5. Put the chicken into a 30cm cast iron ovenproof dish or roasting tin.

2 Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil and season well with salt, pepper and za’atar, if you have it.

3 Roast in the oven for 50 minutes. Remove from the oven. Sprinkle the orzo around the chicken and pour the stock over the orzo. Put the tray back into the oven to cook for 20 minutes more. Check during this time to make sure the orzo isn’t drying – there should be enough stock, but top it up with a little boiling water if needed.

4 Once the 20 minutes are up the chicken should be cooked – check that the juices run clear, with no trace of pink meat – and the orzo should be tender. The stock should also have been absorbed. Stir the fresh herbs into the orzo. Serve the chicken straight from the pan. A dressed green salad is all you need on the side.

Continue Reading