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.


It occurred to me recently that blini are the twenty-first-century equivalent of vol-au-vents. I love them anyway. To me they are the perfect party nibble. I like them with taramasalata and caviar, or sour cream with horseradish and smoked salmon.

I would definitely advise you to make these in advance and freeze. They can be a little smokey to cook, and quite time consuming, so you want them done well before guests arrive. They keep very well in the freezer and take just five minutes to heat in the oven.

Before you start, make sure that you are not in a hurry – you will need plenty of time for the batter to rest, and the blini need to be cooked in batches.


  • 165g plain flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 5g easy-blend dried yeast
  • 150ml creme fraiche
  • 175ml milk
  • 2 eggs, separated

Sieve the flour, salt and yeast into a large bowl.

Heat the milk and creme fraiche in a small pan. Do not allow it to get too hot. It needs to be luke-warm/blood temperature – any hotter, you kill the yeast.

Whisk the milk into the dry ingredients. Add the egg yolks and whisk again. Cover with a tea-towel. Put the bowl in a warm place for about an hour.

After an hour, the mixture should have started to bubble up.

Whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks, and fold into your batter. Cover with a tea towel. Put the bowl in a warm place for about an hour.

Now you are ready to cook the blini. If you have a good thick-bottomed, non-stick frying pan you should need hardly any butter. Indeed, after my first batch I didn’t use any butter at all. Fry up the blini, about a teaspoon at a time. You might need to experiment a little, but I find it helps not to have the hob at it’s highest temperature.

I freeze these on trays overnight, wrapped in cling-film. Then throw them into a ziplock bag.

Hint: To serve, put the blini on a baking tray in the oven at 200C for just five minutes.

Hint: For the sour cream and horseradish topping, I find that 250ml sour cream to 2 tsp horseradish sauce is just about perfect. Don’t forget lots of black pepper.




One of my favourite things about Christmas is party food. I tend to get stressed about anything that requires too much effort at the last minute, so here are some that can be prepared in advance, and stored in the freezer.

I prefer salty to sweet, and these palmiers just hit the spot. I have three favourite flavours; anchovy, olive, and tomato, but you can choose any filling you like.

You basically need some 375g rolls of ready made puff pastry,  the fillings below, and a sprinkling of finely grated parmesan on each.

For the filling

Anchovy palmiers

Olive palmiers

  • kalamata olive tapanade

Tomato palmiers

  • 10 sun-dried tomatoes from a jar, and a little of the oil
  • some thyme
  • 1 fresh red chilli, sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Whizz the tomatoes, thyme, chilli, garlic, sugar and salt together with a blending wand to create a tomato paste.

For the palmiers

Spread the filling thinly over the pastry. Add a sprinkling of parmesan cheese.

Roll the pastry from the outside to the inside, meeting somewhere in the middle.

Slice – about 6mm thick.

You do not need to cook at this stage. Lay the palmiers out on a cling-film covered tray –  keep them separate from each other. Put into the freezer. When fully frozen you can throw them all into a plastic bag until you are ready to cook.

To cook

Pre-heat the oven to 200C.

Lay the palmiers on a baking tray – allow some room to spread.

It takes 25 minutes to cook from raw and frozen.


I probably make banana bread once a fortnight, and I’ve posted some fancy schmantzy pansty banana breads here. But the recipe I turn to over and over again is this one: simple, basic, no booze, no nuts, no figs, no frosting. You can adapt it as you wish, add choc chips, cocoa, nuts or alcohol. We like this one just as it comes.


  • 3-5 ripe bananas
  • 50g melted butter
  • 150g golden caster sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 125g self-raising flour

Pre-heat the oven to 170C/150C fan.

Line a baking tray with tin-foil. Lay the bananas out on the prepared baking sheet. Make pricks with a fork, about 1 inch apart. Bake for twenty minutes. The skin of the banana will turn black and a lot of liquid will come out of the bananas. The idea is that this will intensify the flavour and sweetness of the banana. Allow to cool.

Meanwhile grease and line a loaf-tin.

Melt the butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar and whisk through.

Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking constantly, then add the vanilla.

Whisk in the bananas.

Fold the flour into the mixture.

Once all the ingredients have been fully mixed together, spoon into your loaf tin.

Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour (at 150C), depending on the skewer test.

Allow to cool and enjoy each slice with or without butter. (Butter’s better.) Great for school lunchboxes.

My favorite banana bread is this one, with figs and ginger. You might also like this one with rum and walnuts, but my children definitely prefer it plain.


This is a quick and easy supper I put together for myself the other evening when my husband was out. I had some left-over quinoa from the previous evening and just wanted to scramble something together fast.


  • quinoa, about two cups (cooked)
  • a splash of olive oil, some salt and pepper
  • 1 courgette, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper (capsicum)
  • a handful of cherry tomatoes
  • 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 small red onion, sliced
  • 1/2 leek
  • 4-5  leaves of cavolo nero
  • a good handful of parsley, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200C

My  quinoa was pre-cooked. But here is what to do if you don’t have the luxury of leftovers:

Cook the quinoa on the hob over a low temperature. In general with quinoa, you use double the amount of water to grain. In this recipe I used 1 cup of quinoa, to two cups of water, adding a little vegetable bouillon for flavour. Cook for about twenty minutes until the kernels begin to separate.

Put the chopped courgette, red pepper,  tomatoes and garlic in a small oven-proof dish. Drizzle with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast for around fifteen-twenty minutes.

In the meantime, very gently fry the onion and leek together in a non-stick frying pan. Add the cavolo nero and chopped parsley. Add the quinoa, and finally the roasted vegetables.

You could serve with some grated cheese on top. Delicious.





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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