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Monday, 31 August 2015

Chocolate Fruit n' Nut Flapjacks

Whenever I go abroad I always forget how England are pretty much in a league of its own when it comes to cake. I mean let's be honest afternoon tea anywhere else just doesn't live up to the high standards us Brits like to set. I would say it's not really that hard to create an average victoria sponge or simple layer cake but it seems not even the 4* hotel I went to could pull this off. It was a real puzzler for me and my family because every savoury dish we had tasted amazing. Patisserie skills was perhaps not as matching shall we say. 

That's not to say I didn't try anything... I tasted every dessert on that buffet stand going but it all just left me a bit underwhelmed. Different look, different color but same texture and same flavour of pretty much nothingness. 

Flapjacks are not cake, I know, but it's something I've had on my mind ever since I got back and so that's what I made. I love an almost chewy texture to my flapjack that's syrup'y and crammed full of delicious added extras. I like the combination of chocolate with fruit and nuts as it very much reminds me of my favourite chocolate bar brand - you know the one. 

I added my chocolate chips into my hot oaty mixture so it all melted into one. However if you prefer to have your chips staying as chips, then first pat the flapjack mixture into your baking tin and just before going into the oven sprinkle over the chocolate chips. I have to admit it's quite tricky to tell when the flapjacks are done when the mixture is already a chocolatey colour so be careful not to over bake as they will become crisp and hard, and no one wants that do we?! 

Chocolate  Fruit  n'  Nut  Flapjacks


225g butter
225g demerara sugar
75g maple flavoured golden syrup
275g porridge oats
60g dried fruit mix ( I use cranberries & raisins)
40g walnut pieces
100g dark chocolate chips


Preheat the oven to 150°C / 300°F/ Gas 3. Grease and line a 12 x 9 inch ( 30 x 23 cm ) traybake tin. Next melt the butter in a medium saucepan with the sugar and syrup. 

Once melted take it off the heat and pour into a large mixing bowl. Stir in the oats along with the nuts and fruit and at this point the chocolate chips as well (if you want them to melt into the mixture.) Otherwise sprinkle on top just before baking. Pat the flapjack mixture into the prepared traybake tin  and bake for 35 minutes or until pale golden brown. 

Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for about 10 minutes before cutting into 18 triangular pieces. Then leave to finish cooling in the tin completely before removing. 

What I was Baking To...

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Thursday, 13 August 2015

Glazed BBQ Pork with Cajun-style Pepper Rice

I helped my mum make this the other day for a tasty midweek meal. It was really good so I thought I'd share it with you. We adapted it from a recipe in the book: 'Jamie's 15 minute meals by Jamie Oliver'. I wouldn't say it was exactly that said amount of time, but it was reasonably speedy considering we did have to cook our rice first, whereas Jamie says to use cooked rice which will obviously save yourself a lot of time as your not having to pre-cook it first hand. 

I've never really been a big lover of spicy foods. Anything that makes my lips get that tingling feeling to the point where it's just unpleasant is just wrong if you ask me! I don't see why anyone would actually enjoy it and continue putting themselves through it. If you can't taste any flavours because all you have is a burning sensation in your mouth then you got to ask yourself - what really is the whole point?! I want to be able to taste my food! Having said that, I pretty much think that my threshold for what is deemed to be spicy enough is much lower than all of my friends so that explains why I only really eat korma or their mild-curry equivalent if I ever go out for an Indian. 

You'll probably be able to guess that this glazed BBQ pork isn't going to be a fire sensation on your tongue but that's because I only added a couple of drops of Tabasco to my sauce instead of the recommended 1 teaspoon!! I felt that a few drops was just a nice subtle heat to be going on with (and that I could just about cope with. ) But feel free to ramp up the spiciness to your desire... Just remember you can add all you want but you can't take it away, on that note I'll leave you with those last wise words and give you my adapted recipe below. 

Glazed  BBQ  Pork  with  Cajun - style  Pepper  Rice

Recipe adapted from Jamie's 15 minute meals

Serves 4


For the Pork:
600g pork medallions or a 600g pork fillet cut into 12 even-sized pieces.
1 heaped tsp chinese five-spice
salt and pepper
olive oil

For the Rice:
1 red onion
2 peppers
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 pinch of cumin seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
500g brown rice
1 lemon
a small bunch of fresh basil leaves
4 tbsp natural yoghurt

For the BBQ sauce:
2 cloves of garlic
2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
4 heaped tbsp tomato ketchup
2 tbsp HP sauce (brown sauce)
1 heaped tbsp runny honey
1 tbsp light low-salt soy sauce
a few drops of Tabasco or 1 tsp if you like it hot


Wash and rinse the rice really well.  Place in a saucepan with double the amount of water to rice and bring to the boil, then turn the heat down, cover the pan with a lid. Cook on the lowest heat possible for 20-30 mins without uncovering the pan until cooked. Brown rice can take a lot longer than white to cook. 

Put a large casserole pan on a high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil,  roughly chop and peel the onion and add to the pan along with sliced deseeded peppers. Once softened slightly add the paprika, cumin and fennel seeds. Stir to coat the spices with the veg and after 2-3 minutes add a cup of water, stirring regularly. Leave on a low heat.

On a large piece of greaseproof paper, sprinkle over the chinese five spice along with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Roll the pork medallions around in the spice to coat them all. Place a frying pan on a medium heat with 1 tablespoon of oil, place the medallions into the pan, turning once cooked on one side. 

Meanwhile peel and crush the garlic into a bowl, add all the remaining BBQ sauce ingredients and mix well. When the pork is cooked on both sides and has a good colour pour in the sauce and stir to coat the medallions. Cook for 2-3 minutes until glossy and the sauce just starts to release a bubble. 

Stir the cooked rice into the veg casserole pan along with a squeeze of lemon juice, then sprinkle over the basil leaves and dollop spoonfuls of yoghurt onto the rice before serving. Pour the pork with the sauce onto a large serving dish. 

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Monday, 3 August 2015

Vanilla Yoghurt Bundt Cake With Blueberries

I think sometimes you can just get a bit bored with the same-old same-old layer cakes, cupcakes or muffins, now n' then you fancy a change. That's why I decided on making this bundt cake. 

For those of you who aren't familiar with the german sounding cake... this cake is simply determined by it's distinctive ring shape, achieved by using a bundt pan - a mould that was popularised by cookware manufacturer Nordic Ware which featured in the New Good Housekeeping Cookbook in 1963. There's no single recipe that is associated with the bundt cake but it derived somewhat from a European brioche-like cake called Gugelhupf, eaten in Germany, Austria and Poland. 

The flavours in my bundt cake are beautifully simplistic for the reason that I wanted to serve mine with some fresh blueberries which are at their absolute best right now!! I think vanilla always pairs nicely with summer berries so no need to mess around with lots of 'fancy-pancy' ingredients. I still couldn't help myself though with a decorative icing to finish, but feel free leave this out and just dust with icing sugar instead and serve the blueberries on the side. 

Greek yoghurt or 'greek-style natural yoghurt' as I often tend to get remains as one of my refrigerator staples and the creamy texture makes it a great substitute for a handful of fat-filled counterparts, such as sour cream, creme fraiche, and even double cream. Here's the science'y part...the yoghurt will interact with the rising agents and the proteins to make a fluffier and moist end result. And who doesn't love a moist, light cake eh? 

Note: Please use full fat yoghurt - none of that 0% stuff!

Note: The cake will be easier to turn out if you get a cold-wet tea towel and place the hot bundt cake pan straight onto it from the oven. Leave to cool on this for 10 minutes and then gently turn out with your oven gloves on. It will be very hot still!

Vanilla  Yoghurt  Bundt  Cake  With  Blueberries

Recipe adapted from the Yiaourtopita recipe at


6 eggs, separated 
250 g softened butter
330 g caster sugar
4 tsp vanilla extract
420 g  Greek yoghurt or Greek-style natural yoghurt (preferably full-fat)
450 g self-raising flour
3 tsp baking powder

For the icing:
160 g icing sugar
2 ½ tbsp water
½ tsp vanilla extract

Blueberries to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180°C/ 350°F/ Gas 4. Grease a 26cm - diameter round bundt tin thoroughly with sunflower oil, making sure you get in all the nooks and cranny's with a pastry brush. 

Whisk the egg whites in a clean grease-free bowl until soft peaks form then in a separate bowl beat together the butter and sugar. Whisk the egg yolks in a jug with the vanilla and  with the mixer going, slowly pour in the yolks. Next beat in the yoghurt. Pour in the flour with the baking powder bit by bit with the mixer on slow speed. 

Finally, fold the egg whites into the yoghurt cake mixture and spoon into the greased bundt tin. Level off the mixture and then bake in the preheated oven for 50 mins to 1 hour, or until when a skewer inserted comes out clean. You may need to cover the cake with foil in the last 15 minutes of cooking to prevent browning too much. 

Once cooked, remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. 

Meanwhile to make the icing, mix the icing sugar in a bowl with the water and vanilla and beat till smooth. Once the cake is cold, spoon over the icing generously. Using a palette knife - spread it, allowing it to drip down the sides. Decorate with blueberries. You can store the cake in the refrigerator in an airtight container. 
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