Garlic Mushrooms (v)

A quick and easy recipe this one that can be adapted into other things, served as a starter or just as a quick snack. Use all oil or vegan marge to make it vegan.

For 2 portions you need:
250g mushrooms
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
handful chopped chives and parsley
salt and pepper

Heat the butter and oil in a pan. Add the mushrooms and cook, gently, for about 10 mins till the juices have run out. Add the garlic and seasoning and cook for a further 5-10 mins. Serve with lashings of crusty bread, topped with the chives and parsley.

Watercress Soup (v)

This is a vibrant green colour (known in our house as green soup for obvious reasons) with a delicate flavour of watercress. I like it hot, though you can also serve it cold too if you fancied.

For 4-6 portions you need:
700g potatoes suitable for baking/mashing
1.5 litres veg stock
2 bags/bunches watercress
2 onions, chopped
2 tbsp butter/oil

Begin by frying the onions in the butter/oil for a few mins. Then add the peeled and chopped potatoes. Cover with the stock and cook for about 15 mins till the potatoes are tender. Turn off the heat and add the watercress. Blitz and season. Gently reheat, adding some more stock or soya milk if it’s too thick. Serve with crusty bread. Yummy.

Sweet Potato, Onion and Sweetcorn Bhajis

A variation on the basic onion bhaji really, and there are infinite ways you can create different versions. This recipe reflects the ingrediants we had lying around at home yesterday. And they are pretty delicious 🙂

For about 20 bhajis you need:
8oz sifted gram flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp tumeric
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tsp chilli flakes
1/2 cup chopped corriander
1 sweet potatoe, peeled and coarsley grated
1 tin sweetcorn, drained
3 large onions, shredded
salt and pepper
oil for deep frying

Begin by placing all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add enough warm water to make a thick-ish batter (think yougurt). Then add the veggies and mix well. Heat oil in a wok till hot and fry spoonfuls of the bhaji mix. Turn over half way and cook till golden brown. Serve with chutney and salad. Yummy hot and cold!

Summer Fruit Compote

This sauce goes well with loads of different things: melon; pancakes; cheesecake; ice cream yada yada yada. Make some up and it’ll last in the fridge for a good 5 days, assuming you don’t scoff it all before then!

Take 1 pack frozen summer fruits, add 3 heaped tbsp icing sugar and heat gently till the sugar has dissolved and some of the fruit has started to break up. Leave to cool and serve as you wish. Add some more sugar to taste if you wish, depending on how you are serving it.

New York Cheesecake

Well vanilla cheesecake that’s baked at any rate. Not sure how big apple it really it. But it is utterly delish.

For 12 meagre or 8 more generous slices you need:
23cm springform tin; baking paper
200g ginger nuts
70g butter, melted
800g cream cheese
4 eggs
200g vanilla sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste
1 tsp vanilla extract

Begin by smashing the biscuits to teeny tiny pieces in a food processor. Then add the melted butter and mix well. Press into the lined tin and chill. Meanwhile place the cream cheese, eggs, sugar and vanilla into a bowl and mix thoroughly, taking care not to overbeat. Pour into the tin and bake at 130 degrees for 45-60 mins. It should still have a wobble in the middle when cooked and will firm up once chilled. Leave to cool and then chill overnight. It’s nice on its own but it’s also nice with a fruit compote with it too.

Quick Coleslaw

This is not an authentic recipe, but it’s a quick one that’s dead easy to throw together, especially if you have a food processor 🙂

For 6-8 servings you need:
1/2 white cabbage
1 large onion
2 carrots, peeled

Grate the carrots and then shred the onions and cabbage. Season. Add enough mayonnaise to make it how you like it. Scoff. I told you it was easy 😛

Cheese and Onion Filled Potatoes

I adore these but they are a bit faffy to make. For that reason I usually make at least double the recipe and freeze the other half. They make a great side dish or a light lunch with beans or coleslaw and salad.

For each about 8 servings you need:
6-8 baking potatoes
2 onions, chopped
1 cup grated cheese
salt and pepper

Prick the potatoes all over and nuke till soft. Meanwhile saute the onion in a little oil till tender and sweet. Cut the potatoes in half and then scoop out the middles into a bowl. Add the cooked onions, cheese and seasoning and mix well. Scoop back into the hollows and then bake in a hot oven for about 20 mins till crispy on top. Yum.

Buttercream Icing

This is another easy recipe to remember as it’s a ratio of 1:2. For enough buttercream to fill and cover the birthday cake recipe you need:

3oz very soft butter
6oz icing sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat everything together till light and fluffy. Use as you wish!

Birthday Cake

I always use the same recipe for birthday cake and scale up or down depending on how much cake is needed. This recipe is a classic victoria sponge one, and is best carved/cut the day after baking, or once it’s been frozen and defrosted. But it’s equally good the same day, just a little more crumbly!

The basic rule is equal quantities self raising flour, butter and caster sugar with half the amount of eggs e.g. 8oz flour = 4 eggs and so on.

For a cake that serves 10-14 people you need:
6 oz self raising flour
6 oz vanilla caster sugar
6 oz soft butter (don’t use margarine as it mings in a cake!)
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2-3 tbsp milk

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well between each one. Sift in the flour, vanilla and 2 tbsp milk and beat till combined. Add a little extra milk if needed.

Scrape the mixture into a lined baking tin and bake at 150 degrees for about 30 mins till risen, golden and totally cooked. Leave to cool for a couple of hours before filling and covering as you wish. Happy Birthday!

Crunchy Vegetable Noodles with Spicy Peanut Sauce

This is based on Nigella’s recipe for peanut sesame noodles in Nigella Express. It’s a fab lunch dish which is filling, reasonably healthy and quick to prepare.

For 2 generous lunch portions you need:
2 blocks medium egg noodles (use rice noodles or soba noodles for a vegan version)
assorted raw veggies – I used red cabbage, grated carrot, spring onions, raw cauliflower, spring onions
1 chilli, finely chopped
handful fresh mint, chopped
juice 1 lime

4 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 tbsp soya sauce
2 tbsp pad thai sauce (or use sweet chilli sauce)
150ml water

Heat the sauce ingredients gently till combined. Meanwhile finely shred the veggies and cook the noodles. Place everything in a large mixing bowl and mix well. Pack into tubs and stun and amaze your work colleagues with such a delicious lunch 🙂