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

I made these to take along to the Green Man Festival. You always need some little treats when you are camping, especially when the forecast is for four days of solid rain. Luckily we had some serious sunshine between the serious downpours and I only had to queue for the toilets in a thunderstorm once. Anyway, these were lovely, and comforting and luxurious, and, like the weather, seriously moist.


It takes a bit of confidence to bake a brownie. First of all there are just so many recipes out there to choose from. I have put this one together with a lot of agonising, testing and re-testing.

The perfect brownie requires the perfect length of cooking time to ensure it is moist, but not sloppy.  You want the finished brownie to be damp in the middle, but not undercooked. Also you need two different types of chocolate to ensure the right amount of gooiness. I don’t understand the science of this, but it has something to do with the way the fat content of the chocolate makes it behave differently during the cooking process.

Undercooking is better than overcooking. When you take your brownies out of the oven and shake the tray slightly, you want them to wobble rather than slop. Give the top of your tray-bake a little tap – it should sound just right  (unfortunately it takes practice and experience to know what this sound is, but my best guess is ‘phftut’).  I know this is a little vague, but the recipe that follows worked for me, and my oven.


  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 300g dark chocolate – I used 200g of chocolate with 70% cocoa solids and 100g with 35% cocoa solids
  • 3 eggs
  • 150g soft brown sugar
  • zest and juice of one orange
  • 85g plain flour
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 150g tinned cherries, roughly chopped into quarters and coated in a little of the cooking flour
  • You could also add a splash of cherry liqueur.

Preheat the oven to 180C.

Grease and line a baking tray – mine is about 27cm x 17cm.

Slowly melt the chocolate and butter together in a bowl over a pan of hot water. When it has melted, add the eggs and sugar and whisk together. Then whisk in the orange zest and juice.

Fold in the flour, then the cherries.

Pour the mixture into your prepared baking tin and cook for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool and slice into squares. If you like you can dust with cocoa powder.

Makes about 15.





There is a bit of an unseasonal nip in the air, so this seems like a perfect meat-free Monday dish. It is perfect served on its own or with a handful of brown rice.

I cook the lentils separately to the vegetables, so the veg don’t overcook whilst the lentils are softening.

Mess about with the vegetables and quantities as you see fit.


  • green lentils
  • 2 red onions, chopped
  • 1/4 leek, washed, chopped
  • 2 carrots
  • 1/2 courgette
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 250g large mushrooms, sliced
  • thyme
  • a splash of red wine
  • 250g large mushrooms, sliced
  • tinned tomatoes, half a can, or thereabouts
  • vegetable stock
  • parsley

Put the lentils in a small pan and add some boiling water. Simmer until the lentils are soft enough to eat. Keep an eye whilst they bubble away, you might need to add more water.

Gently fry the onions, garlic, and other vegetables. Add the mushrooms and thyme. When nearly cooked, throw in  a splash of red wine and reduce.

Add some tinned tomatoes and vegetable stock.

When the lentils are ready, throw them into the pan with the vegetables. Check that you are happy with the flavours and consistency. Sprinkle with chopped parsley.

Serves 2.


This is of course Nigella Lawson’s Chocolate Malteser Cake from her book Feast. Chosen by my son for me to make for his ninth birthday. Despite the very liquidy batter this turned out a treat. Follow Nigella’s recipe with confidence. Happy Birthday!

We all know about the joy of leftovers. I delight in this breakfast which makes perhaps some radical use of a somewhat worthy supper. Here’s a rather back-to-front recipe which puts the leftovers first.


For the rather lovely breakfast:

  • toast and butter (I use the absolutely fantastic bread that I buy at http://www.thecakestore.co.uk/ they call it their low GI bread)
  • roasted tomatoes with garlic, virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • kale pesto

For the rather worthy supper: photo[1]

  • wholemeal pasta
  • kale pesto
  • roast tomatoes
  • grated cheese

For the kale pesto:

  • kale – parboiled
  • salted butter
  • chopped red onion
  • chopped leek
  • chopped garlic
  • butter

Parboil the kale, drain. Gently heat the onion, leek and garlic in some (salted) butter. Do not allow to brown. Throw the cooked kale, leek, onion and garlic into a food processor. Add a couple of anchovy  fillets, some parsley and rocket. Whizz it through. Mix in with the pasta. Enjoy. Enjoy even more the next day on some buttered toast. Make some excuses for your garlic breath. Or, serve pasta, pesto, with some lightly fried fish fillet on top. I found inspiration for the kale pesto recipe in Diana Henry’s marvellous A Change of Appetite, but have made some serious modifications. Looking forward to trying out some recipes from A Bird in the Hand.


Spring is here so I’m counting down the days until summer sunshine. Since I just can’t wait, here is a lovely summery salad, no real recipe required.


  • fennel
  • orange
  • rocket (or watercress)
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • salt 
  • pepper

That’s it! Just enjoy the sunshiney goodness.


 When I’m feeling organised I do a pasta bake on nights when the children have swimming. This meal does have a slightly high washing up count but can be made in advance and re-heated when the children come in late and famished.

I have two which I do over and over: Salmon pasta bake and Tomato pasta bake.

Salmon pasta bake

As well as being delicious this is also extremely economic – I can feed two children with one fillet of salmon.


  • pasta
  • salmon
  • milk
  • broccoli
  • leek
  • mascarpone cheese
  • breadcrumbs
  • grated cheddar

Boil the pasta, throw in the broccoli florets for the last couple of minutes. Drain.

Meanwhile, gently fry some chopped leek in a little butter. Do not allow it to brown.

Put the salmon in a little milk, cover, and microwave for about a minute.

Combine the pasta, broccoli and leeks in the pan whilst still warm and stir in the mascarpone. Add the salmon (try to keep it in largish chunks.)

Put into a baking dish, sprinkle with breadcrumbs and grated cheddar.

Put under a grill to brown.

Tomato pasta bake

I sometimes have this as a side-dish to fish cakes, but more often allow it to sit by itself.


  • pasta
  • onions
  • mushrooms
  • courgettes
  • any other vegetable
  • tinned tomatoes or passata 
  • mascarpone
  • breadcrumbs
  • grated cheddar

Boil and drain the pasta.

In the meantime whizz the vegetables together in a food processor (I usually keep some mushrooms to one side and slice rather than disguise them, just for texture).

Fry the vegetables, add the tomatoes, and finally the mascarpone.

Mix it in with the cooked pasta and transfer to a baking dish.

Sprinkle with the breadcrumbs and grated cheese. Whack it under the grill until golden. 



I made this for a really special occasion. A romantic night in with my husband of ten years. A candlelit dinner no-less.

This is an Angela Hartnett recipe, Sea bream with brown shrimps and capers.    Having made this, I am also anxious to try Dover sole with butter and brown shrimp from A Taste of Home.

A perfect pudding for a wintery day. Comfort food at it’s stodgiest, this is a really traditional British pud that we all remember from our school dinners.



  • 8-10 slices of day-old white bread
  • spread with butter – about 50g in total
  • 350ml milk
  • 50ml double cream
  • 2 eggs
  • 50g sultanas
  • 40g granulated sugar
  • cinnamon and nutmeg

Set the oven to 200C.

Butter a small baking dish.

Cut the crusts off the bread. Spread butter on one side of each slice.

Arrange a layer of bread, butter-side up on the bottom of the dish. Add a sprinkling of sultanas, and a sprinkling of cinnamon.

Cut the rest of the bread slices into triangles. Arrange beautifully on top of the sultanas/spices. Put sultanas and spices between each layer.

Then, put about half of the sugar into a large bowl. Whisk the eggs into the sugar.

Heat the milk and cream together in a small pan, until just under boiling point. Pour it onto the eggy sugary mix and whisk it well.

Pour the custard over the bread, grate a little nutmeg and sprinkle the remaining sugar over the top and leave it to sit and soak for about half an hour.

Bake for 30-40 minutes.

Serve hot with cream, or cold from the ‘fridge the next day.

Serves 6

Feed the crusts to the birds.

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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