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millionaire

This is the recipe that Sam always asks to make. I think the secret is not to have the shortbread too thick. Sam’s secret is not to have the chocolate or the caramel too thin.

For the shortbread

  • 225g plain flour (sieved)
  • 175g butter (chilled)
  • 75g caster sugar

For the caramel

  • 100g  butter
  • 70g caster sugar
  • 1 tbsp golden syrup
  • 1 can Nestle’s caramel

For the topping

  • 200g dark chocolate
  • 25g white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 160C. Grease and line a baking tray.

The shortbread

Rub the flour into the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar. Blend with a knife, if necessary add a little water until the mixture becomes a dough. Roll out and put it into the baking tray. Prick with a fork and bake for 30-45 minutes.

The caramel

Put all the caramel ingredients in a non-stick pan, bring to the boil, stirring all the time. Simmer very gently for 7-8 minutes. Pour over the shortbread base. Allow to cool.

The topping

Very gently melt the dark chocolate and the white chocolate in two different bowls. Pour the dark chocolate over the caramel. Spot the white chocolate over the dark chocolate and tease into fronds with a wooden toothpick, or the tip of a knife. Allow to cool.

Cut into squares, serve, enjoy.

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This meal is completely inspired by a food supplement in the Guardian about cooking with children. I was particularly taken with this Vietnamese recipe by Uyen Luu.

We have a restaurant nearby called Panda Panda, which serves something similar, but the real attraction here is that the children can be as creative as they please, and we can all dig-in together to put together the best summer roll that we fancy.

For the omelette 

  • 4 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp soy sauce or tamari
  • ½ tsp brown sugar
  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • butter

For the summer rolls

  • lettuce 
  • mint 
  • coriander
  • lime
  • vermicelli noodles
  • asparagus spears, sliced diagonally, fried in butter
  • prawns/shrimps, chopped
  • avocados, sliced
  • raw mushrooms
  • cooked chicken
  • rice paper wrappers

For the dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp tamari
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • some toasted sesame seeds

Cake

Poor old Beth has her birthday at a really unfortunate time of the year. As a consequence we want to spoil her, and whatever she asks for as her birthday cake, she gets. This year she asked for coffee and chocolate cake with a fudge frosting. So this is what she got.

For the cake

  • 150g softened butter (plus some for greasing)
  • 250g caster sugar
  • 125g sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tsp coffee granules mixed with hot water (then cooled)
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder

For the frosting and topping

  • 75g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk
  • 3 tbsp soft brown sugar
  • 6 tsp golden syrup
  • 300g icing sugar, plus extra to thicken if needed
  • 100g shaved white chocolate

The cake

Pre-heat the oven to 180C/160C (fan). Line and grease two baking pans.

Whisk together the butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream and coffee mixture. Add the sieved flour, baking powder and cocoa. Mix well.

Divide the mixture between the two baking tins. Bake for around 25 minutes and cool.

The frosting

Melt the butter, milk, sugar and syrup together in a saucepan. Remove from the heat and whisk in the icing sugar. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool. If the mixture is too runny, add some more icing sugar before spreading onto the cake. There should be enough here or the centre and the topping.

Finally, scatter the shaved chocolate on top.

Don’t forget the candles, and Happy Birthday!!

A Korean restaurant recently opened near us. It is tiny, and hardly has any customers, but we just love this sharing starter. I haven’t quite captured the taste and texture of the real thing, but this is pretty lovely. We tend to have it on a Saturday evening, whilst playing Frustration with the children.

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Ingredients:

Pancake

  • 75g flour (I am playing around with a combination of plain flour and rice flour)
  • 1 tsp Swiss bouillon powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 100ml cold water
  • 1 clove of garlic, sliced
  • 4 spring onions, sliced
  • 100g prawns, chopped
  • sometimes I also add peas/asparagus/bok choi
  • oil for cooking

Dipping sauce

  • 2 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • a pinch of chilli flakes
  • some toasted sesame seeds

You need a good, non stick frying pan for this.

Make up the batter and add the prawns and veg.

Heat the oil in the pan and add the batter. Cook up the pancake, turn half-way through.

Whilst the pancake is cooking mix up the dipping sauce.

When the pancake is cooked, chop into squares.

Share.

Make another one because the first one has gone too quickly…

 

 

P1030861

Poor Beth’s been off school with chicken pox, so we made these together as a spotty treat to keep her entertained.

P1030351

What’s not to like? Rather weirdly, I’ve been hankering after nettles for ages. Today we went for a walk in the woods and I was compelled to have a little forage. I think it is probably too late in the season to be picking nettles, but I made sure to just pick the very youngest of leaves. The children thought I was crazy, which secretly amused me no end.

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 leek, sliced
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 litre vegetable stock
  • a bag of fresh nettles
  • a knob of butter
  • a swish of cream
  • ground black pepper

Wash the nettles, I’ve tagged this recipe as vegetarian, but I have to tell you that there were a few little green-fly fluttering around. (Incidentally, it is wise to pick your nettles above knee height, for obvious reasons!)

Gently fry the onion, allow to soften. Add the leek and garlic and cook until completely soft, but be careful not to brown. Add the vegetable stock, then the nettles. Wilt.

Whizz it together in a food processor and return to heat.

Add a little butter and a swirl of cream.

Enjoy.

 

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Of course these don’t need to be pirate cakes, but I made them for the school disco, and I thought they would make a change from the usual pink fairy cakes. These are a delicious chocolate cup cake, made with hot chocolate powder instead of cocoa, and a chocolate ganache topping. The pirate decorations were from Sainsbury’s. The recipe is very slightly adapted from Milk Chocolate Cupcakes in Annie Bell’s Baking Bible, a cook book I find I’m turning to more and more.

Ingredients

The cakes

  • 1 heaped tablespoon of hot chocolate powder, dissolved in 2 tbsp boiling water
  • 100g unsalted butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 110g self-raising flour

The ganache

  • 125g milk chocolate
  • 30g unsalted butter
  • 1 tbsp milk

For the cakes

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

Make the hot chocolate/hot water mixture first, to give it time to cool.

Whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg, little by little, then the cooled chocolate mixture.

Fold in the flour.

Spoon the mixture into muffin cases and bake for around 20 minutes.

For the ganache

Once the cakes have cooled you can turn to the chocolate topping.

Break the chocolate into small pieces, add in the butter and melt, very slowly in the microwave.

(Most people will tell you that you should melt chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. I’m not patient enough for this, and as long as you take it very slowly, this method usually works, but please feel free to do it the proper way.)

Whisk in the milk.

Add a spoonful onto each cake. I added the chocolate decorations when the ganache was still warm.

MAKES 10

P1030215

Of course these can be any shape you like, but the children wanted to be involved in the Valentine’s Day celebrations. We also made love-stars and moonstruck biscuits, which Beth decorated beautifully, as you can see below.

Ingredients

  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 200g plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Pre-heat the oven to 200C. Prepare two oven trays by lining with baking parchment.

Cream together the butter and sugar, add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk again.

Add the flour, baking powder and salt and combine until you have a soft dough.

Roll into a ball, wrap with cling-film and refrigerate for about 45 minutes.

Roll out the dough to about 1/2 cm thickness and cut into the lovingest of heart-shapes.

Lay the shapes onto your prepared baking sheets – allow room for  the biscuits to spread a little during cooking.

Cook for about 7 minutes – but keep an eye on them – don’t let them burn!

Sprinkle with a little sugar whilst they are still warm. Or allow too cool and decorate as extravagantly as possible.

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I wanted to make something healthy (or at least pretend-healthy) for the children’s lunch boxes. Beth and I made these together yesterday. Then she told me she doesn’t like nuts. Then Sam told me he doesn’t like nuts (this is not true). They wouldn’t eat them. They each have a penguin biscuit in their lunch box today. I am eating the granola bars. And they are lovely.

Ingredients

  • 120g sultanas
  • 30g cranberries
  • 200ml apple juice
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 100g demerara sugar
  • 3 tbsp honey
  • 200g oats (I used an oat/bran mix)
  • 25g toasted sesame seeds
  • 75g toasted sunflower and pumpkin seed mix
  • 25g toasted almond flakes
  • 25g chopped pecan nuts
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

First of all, put the sultanas and cranberries in a small pan, cover with apple juice and simmer for about 12 minutes.

Toast any nuts or seeds as required – make sure they don’t burn!

Pre-heat the oven to 150C. Line a small baking tray.

Melt the butter and sugar together, add the honey. Then add the oats, nuts and seeds, fruit and vanilla extract. Stir well.

Pour the mixture into a your lined baking tray and press down well.

Bake for 25 minutes or so.

Allow to cool before cutting into squares.

MAKES 12

P1030124

New year, old bananas. I have a freezer full of bananas, as usual. So when I needed to make something for the school lunch boxes, it had to be something banana-based. This tray-bake is very, (very) loosely based on my staple banana cake recipe, but I have added some orange and a dark chocolate drizzle, and omitted the cream cheese topping, among other things.

Incidentally, in addition to the banana cake, Sam is getting a fresh banana in his lunch box tomorrow.

Ingredients

  • 125g softened butter
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • grated zest of one orange
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 bananas
  • juice of one orange
  • 250g self-raising flour
  • 25g dark chocolate for drizzling
  • You could, if you like, add chocolate chips to the above ingredients

Pre-heat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line a baking tray (mine is 28cm x 18cm).

Whisk the butter and sugar together, add the honey and orange zest. Beat in two eggs, and then two bananas.

Add the juice of the orange, whisk again.

Add the self-raising flour (and if including, now would be a good time for the chocolate chips). Mix until the flour is fully incorporated into the batter.

Pour the mixture into your baking tray.

Bake for around 20 minutes, or until a skewer comes out clean.

Once the cake has fully cooled, drizzle some melted dark chocolate over the top.

If you want to be really adventurous, you could use melted Terry’s Chocolate Orange instead of normal dark chocolate.

Makes about 12 squares.

Here's one I made earlier

Here's one I made earlier

Hi, my name's Helen and I live in London with my husband and two children. When I started piping the potato on my shepherd's pies, my husband suggested that it might be a good idea for me to find an outlet for my creativity, so here we are. I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, the extra twist is that I don't eat meat (I do eat fish though) and Jim, who loves meat, is always on a diet. Here are a few recipes that I have enjoyed making for my family.

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