Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Scones

Throughout this whole month I’ve been planning to make scones for Tea Time Treats but haven’t been able to decide what type to make.  My favourite scones have always been cheese scones, but I wanted to make fruit scones for a change.   As I haven’t made fruit scones before I didn’t go for an unusual combination, just good old apple, sultana and cinnamon.   Of course, they had to have cinnamon in.   I love cinnamon in cakes and desserts and it is wonderful with both apple and sultanas.    Not only that, as these are baking you get a lovely cinnamon smell in the kitchen.   The end result is a very moist scone due to the apple, which you can’t really taste but it definitely affects the texture.  They are best served warm with a little melted butter or, my favourite way to eat them, with a little raspberry jam and a dollop of natural yoghurt.    Even my husband enjoyed them and he doesn’t usually like things with sultanas.   Should I admit I was slightly disappointed there wasn’t a little pile of extracted sultanas left on the side of his plate for me to eat? He couldn’t help himself from asking if I could make them with chocolate chips in next time though!

I am sending this to Tea Time Treats hosted by Karen at  Lavender and Lovage and Kate at What Kate Baked.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – makes 8

250g self-raising flour

25g sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1 apple

50g sultanas (or raisins)

130ml milk

How to Make Apple, Sultana and Cinnamon Scones

  1. Sift the flour and cinnamon into a mixing bowl.   Add the sultanas and sugar.

  2. Peel the apple and core it.   Grate it and add it to the flour as well.  Mix all the ingredients together.

  3. Begin adding the milk.  You may need a little more or less than I used.   Add about two thirds and mix it in with a knife.  Then keep adding a little more until you get a soft but not too sticky dough.  If it gets too sticky add a little extra flour.

  4. Kneed the dough gently on a floured work surface for a couple of minutes.

  5. Flatten the dough so it is about 2cm thick and circular.   Slice into 8 portions.   Place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment and bake in the oven for about 12-15 minutes at 200C.

  6. Let the scones cool on a wire rack.


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Kiwi Fruit Ice Cream

When I was a child ice cream was either chocolate, strawberry or vanilla, and occasionally raspberry ripple.   I prefered vanilla.   I loved chocolate and strawberries but I didn’t think the ice-cream tasted of them and even today, I tend to avoid chocolate and strawberry ice cream as I associate them with the cheap ice creams of the past.

One of the only times I got to have more interesting ice cream was on holiday in Spain.   There were lots of cafes by the beach and each one would have at least 16-20 flavours.   One cafe had about 30 flavours and one of them was kiwi.   It was sharp and refreshing as well as creamy and with a very strong kiwi flavour.   I absolutely fell in love with it that holiday and ate it every day.   After I had gone home I looked forward to eating it the next year,  knowing there was no chance of being able to have it before then.   The next year came, and there was no kiwi ice cream.  I looked in every shop and cafe in Spain, well, every one I came across within walking distance of our apartment.  It seems that kiwi ice cream was perhaps not so popular with everyone else apart from me.   All those people buying chocolate ones, they just didn’t understand what they were missing out on!

Anyway, that was many years ago now and I don’t think I have seen kiwi ice cream anywhere since then.   So, when Kavey’s March Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Challenge was to recreate a favourite childhood experience or flavour, I knew straightaway that I wanted to have a go at kiwi ice cream.

As kiwi fruit can be quite sharp I decided not to make a custard based ice cream and so did not use any eggs in this.   This makes it very quick to make but it sets slightly harder in the freezer.  I left the seeds in as I remember the ice cream in Spain being speckled with the tiny black seeds and I think they help to keep some sharpness in the flavour which mixes well with the sweetness.   If you wanted you could strain the kiwi and milk mixture to remove them.  When you eat it, it almost tastes like a mixture of coulis with plain ice cream as you taste the fruitiness of the kiwi first and then the creaminess comes in afterwards.   As I like sharp tastes I think it would also be great as a frozen yoghurt and this might be the way I would vary it next time.

I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Makes approx 4 servings

150ml double cream

4 kiwi fruit

2 tbsp icing sugar

100ml milk

How to Make Kiwi Fruit Ice Cream

1. Peel the kiwi fruit and chop them up.    Add the icing sugar and milk and use a stick blender to blend together.   Alternatively put in a food processor.

2. Stir in the double cream.   Taste for sweetness.   Add more icing sugar if necessary.

3. Pour into an ice-cream maker and follow the instructions for your machine.   When ready, transfer to the freezer.

Finnish Salmon Soup

I have never been to Finland and don’t know much about Finnish food, except that it is probably quite similar to other Scandinavian food, which I also know very little about.    Actually, when I think about it, the first thing that springs to mind is Jacques Chirac’s 2005 comment about British food, “After Finland, it is the country with the worst food.”  Understandably, this comment did not go down well in the UK, but at least we are aware of the stereotype of plain British food, whereas it was probably more of a shock to the Finns.   So, I set about researching Finnish food, and came across some wonderful ideas for cooking with reindeer and elk – but possibly not so easy to get hold of here.  Luckily, salmon is very popular in Finland and I soon decided to make a salmon soup which I found on Scandi Foodie.

I changed the recipe only slightly.   I couldn’t find any celeriac so had to miss it out.    I had ground all spice berries, not whole berries.   I used vegetable stock instead of water.   I could possibly have used fish stock but I didn’t want it to be too fishy, I just wanted to add a little extra flavour.  I also used milk instead of cream as I was making this for lunch and tend to avoid cream except for desserts or sauces that really need it.   I am ashamed to admit that I did worry slightly that it might be a little plain, with just the all spice berries really for flavouring.    In fact, the potato, parsnip and salmon soaked up the flavour of the all spice and were delicious.   I don’t often use all spice but it was a flavour I could happily enjoy without needing other herbs or spices.   So, it was definitely a success, and a recipe I wouldn’t hesitate to make again.   Unlike some soups which are not filling enough for a whole meal, it makes a great one-pot meal, not needing any bread to go with it, although of course you could have some if you wanted.

I am linking this to My Kitchen My World.   The March destination is of course Finland.   I am also sending it to Kahakai Kitchen for Souper Sundays.

Ingredients – serves 2

About 5 new potatoes, diced

1/2 tsp ground all spice berries

1/2 onion, finely diced

1/2 a parsnip, diced

300g piece of salmon

Vegetable stock or water

200ml Milk (or a little cream and a bit more stock)

How to Make Finnish Salmon Soup

1. Add the potatoes, parsnip, onion and all spice to enough hot stock to just cover the vegetables.   Simmer for about 10 minutes.

2. Add the milk or cream along with the salmon.    Simmer for another 5 minutes.   Taste and add salt and black pepper to taste.


Pinchos Morunos – Spanish Pork Skewers

I do like Spanish food and Spain is definitely one of my favourite countries to visit.    In fact, I used to go there every year as a child and so it is the country I have visited the most often.   I’ve always liked the food but didn’t like tapas as a child as I wanted to choose my favourite dish and eat all of it.  Nowadays, I love sharing tapas meals as it’s a chance to try lots of different dishes as well as to eat my favourite – Spanish croquettes.  I love the creaminess on the inside and the crunchiness of the outside.  When I last went to Spain, in November, I ate croquettes about 5 times in just one week.  There were some disappointments though, such as the ones which were frozen in the middle, I sent them back and they were still frozen the second time they came out.  They also forgot one of our dishes, which we decided was probably just as well.    I was also incredibly disappointed once to go to a tapas restaurant in Edinburgh, order croquettes and be given potato ones.  Of course, I like potato ones as well, but they are not Spanish.  So, if I like croquettes so much, why is this post supposedly about pinchos morunos?   Well, I wanted to make a dish for Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops’ Sweet Heat Challenge, this month hosted by Janice at Farmersgirl Kitchen.  I needed to make a spicy dish, and as lovely as croquettes are, they are not spicy.  I could have made spicy ones – cheese and jalapeno croquettes would surely be delicious, but the truth is, I just didn’t think of that until it was too late.

So, I decided to make pinchos morunos.   Little skewers of marinated meat are a very popular tapas dish and this is one of the most well-known.  I know, you’ve looked at the picture and are thinking – those are not little skewers of meat! That is not a tapa.  Admittedly, that’s a fair point.  I just happened to make mine a little bit bigger.   Well, I didn’t have any small skewers, and I didn’t want to make lots of small dishes just for two people.  But, I could have so easily made the exact same recipe, plus a few more tapas dishes, served the pork on small skewers and it would have been a great tapas meal.   Instead, I made Spanish rice as a side dish and served the pork on a bed of spinach.  The recipe served two of us, plus enough for leftovers for my lunch the next day.


400g pork tenderloin, diced

1tsp smoked paprika

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp chilli powder

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp dried parsley

1 pinch of saffron

1 clove of garlic, crushed

2 tbsp lemon juice

4 tbsp olive oil

How to make Pinchos Morunos

1. In a bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the pork.   Taste and adjust anything if necessary.

2. Add the pork and stir well so the marinate coats all the pieces of meat.   Put in the fridge for at least 4 hours.

3. Before cooking, thread the meat onto skewers and cook on a griddle pan, grill, or put in the oven.

4. Serve as a main meal or as part of a selection of tapas.


Asparagus and Sugar Snap Pea Soup

With the weather now getting warmer it won’t be soup time for much longer.   I’m enjoying making it for my lunch at home these days though, and often it is just for one, or I make double and have the rest the next day, or plan to have the rest the next day and end up eating it anyway.   After all, soup is healthy or at least this one is and virtually fat-free.

I found this over at Always Eat on the Good China, who I was paired with for Taste and Create.   Tamy has a huge range of recipes and out of the ones I browsed through I couldn’t decide whether to make the pea and asparagus soup or Moroccan Beef and Noodles.    In the end, the soup won.   I made a smaller quantity and simplified the method slightly but the only change in the ingredients was to use stock instead of water and yoghurt instead of sour cream to serve.   I always have yoghurt in the fridge but wasn’t quite organised enough to get any sour cream.   I loved the fresh end result.   It tastes of exactly what it is – pea and asparagus, and is a lovely colour too!

I am also linking this to Souper Sundays at Kahakai Kitchen and to Gimme Green, hosted by Chef Al Dente.

Ingredients – Serves 1

Handful of asparagus spears

Handful of sugar snap peas

2 spring onions

1 clove garlic, crushed

Black pepper

Vegetable stock


How to make Asparagus and Sugar Snap Pea Soup

  1. Remove the woody ends of the asparagus.   Dice the asparagus, one of the onions and the sugar snap peas and put in a small saucepan.   Add the crushed garlic.

2. Cover the vegetables with hot vegetable stock and simmer for 5 minutes or until tender.

  1. Transfer to a blender or use a hand-held blender to blend till smooth.  Season to taste.

  2. Put in a bowl.   Add a drizzle of yoghurt and the other chopped spring onion to garnish.

Spicy Chickpea Fritters

I believe if you have a can of chickpeas in the cupboard it is always possible to make a quick and tasty meal without too much thought or planning, and I love making various types of chickpea patties.   Normally I just put in a mixture of different spices and sometimes some herbs as well, but this time I decided to make a recipe I’d bookmarked a few months ago on Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.   Lyndsay’s fritters looked so dainty and delicious and the write up made them sound so tasty I decided it was a recipe I had to try.    Now, my fritters are much bigger and more like burgers than the bite-sized morsels I was inspired by, but I’m sure they taste just as delicious.   They go lovely and crispy on the outside but stay soft and spicy in the middle.   I think I may have discovered a new favourite chickpea recipe.

I am linking this to Bookmarked Recipes, hosted by Jacqueline at Tinned Tomatoes and to My Legume Love Affair, hosted this month by Girlichef.

Ingredients – serves 2-3 as a main dish, more as a starter

400g tin of chickpeas, drained

1 onion, roughly chopped

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 chillies,

1 egg

75g plain flour

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp curry powder

Pinch of salt

Black pepper

How to Make Spicy Chickpea Fritters

  1. Put all the ingredients in a blender.   Blend until smooth.

  2. You can deep fry the fritters but I prefered to use just a little oil in a frying pan.  Heat the oil and then put spoonfuls of the mixture into the pan, flattening slightly to make small oval/round patties.   Fry for about five minutes on each side

I served with a carrot salad, lemon wedges and pitta breads but for a delicious mint dip, have a look at Vanilla Clouds and Lemon Drops.

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Carrot Cake

I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this before but I am so hungry all the time.  A couple or at most three hours after eating I need to eat again, and I find fruit just doesn’t work, fresh or dried, it just makes me even more hungry.    So that’s where this carrot cake comes in, because I’ve found that cake does work, as long as it’s not too sweet and doesn’t have lots of icing on it.   So yes, I could have made a lovely cream cheese icing to go on this but after trying the first piece it was so lovely and moist that I felt it really didn’t need icing.   Also, I’m the type of person who often leaves half the icing on the plate anyway or gives it to someone else.   Some people will have a piece of cake because of the icing, but I will have a piece of cake because of the cake, and that must be the   right way around.   I know that you’re either agreeing with me completely or now thinking that I am a little bit odd, so let’s go on to the cake.     I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food site and it’s by Angela Nilsen.   It is described as the ‘ultimate makeover’ carrot cake and is supposedly healthier than most carrot cakes.  It certainly has lots of carrot in it anyway, which is why I began searching for carrot cake recipes in the first place.  I had far too many carrots in the fridge and needed to find ways of using them up.  What I loved about this cake was that it was so moist and slightly stick and there’s nothing I would change about it next time.   If you want to see the recipe of the icing as well as the cake, have a look at the original recipe.

As this cake used up some of my extra carrots, I am sending it to Frugal Food Fridays, hosted by Tales of Pigling Bland. I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.

Ingredients – Cuts into 16 pieces

Juice and zest of 1 orange

140g raisins

125ml rapeseed oil

115g wholemeal flour

115g self-raising flour

1tsp baking powder + an extra pinch

1 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 tsp ground cinnamon

140g soft brown sugar

280g finely grated carrot (approx 370g before being peeled)

2 eggs

How to Make Carrot Cake

  1. Mix the orange juice and zest into the raisins and leave for a while.

  2. Mix together the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and cinnamon.

  3. Separate one of the eggs.  Put the white to the side for now.   Break the other egg into the yolk. Whisk for a few seconds then add the sugar and continue to mix for a couple of minutes.   Then slowly pour in the oil as you are whisking.

  4. Add the flour in two stages and fold into the mixture.  Then fold in the raisins and carrots.  The mixture will be very stiff and if it is too stiff add an extra tsp of water or juice.

  5. Add the extra pinch of baking powder to the egg white and whisk till it forms soft peaks.   Fold this into the rest of the cake mixture.

  6. Pour the mixture into a square cake tin (approx 20cm across) lined with paper and bake in the oven at 160C for an hour.    When ready, let it cool for a few minutes then take out of the tin,  peel the paper off and leave to cool on a wire cake rack.

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Inspired by Masterchef: Marshmallows with Strawberries

When last week’s Masterchef focused on afternoon tea and pastries, I knew I was going to have to have a sweet week.   This may sound a little odd, but I’m not especially keen on marshmallows.  I don’t dislike them, but I can take them or leave them.   I don’t quite understand why some people love them in hot chocolate with lots of cream.   Yes, they look good, but they don’t really add anything that chocolate isn’t delicious enough to provide by itself.  Anyway, there was something about the marshmallows Andrew made that really made me want to try them.  They looked lovely and soft and pillowy, but had a raspberry hidden inside.   I would have used raspberries with these but the local shop didn’t have any, and strawberries were the closest I could get.   I also gave up on the idea of enclosing the strawberries inside the marshmallow as they looked so pretty  on top and would have been absolutely huge if I’d added another spoonful of marshmallow.    Well, to be honest,  the mixture left in the bowl was beginning to set anyway and would probably have just looked a mess if I’d tried to use it to hide the strawberries.

I have to say, I was pretty impressed with how these turned out.   I hadn’t realised that marshmallow was so easy to make.  But, they were very sweet and I don’t have a very sweet tooth.   As marshmallow is sweet, and mainly sugar, I’m not sure if anything could be done to make them less sweet.   I suppose just don’t eat too many at once.    Invite lots of people to your home to share them with, because unfortunately they are not at their best for long.  Many of the recipes on the internet said they could be stored for up to 2 weeks in an airtight container (if you don’t add fruit), but I found they were going a little soggy around the edges beyond a couple of days and the sooner they were eaten the better.

I read quite a few recipes when deciding how to make these but the finished result is mainly adapted from a James Martin recipe.

I would like to link these to Alpha Bakes, started by  The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes.  This month  the letter is M and it is hosted by Caroline.  I am also linking to Sweets for a Saturday.


230g sugar

1 tbsp golden syrup

9 sheets of gelatine

2 egg whites

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp icing sugar

2 tbsp cornflour

Strawberries (optional)

How to make Marshmallows

1. Mix the icing sugar and cornflour together.   Lightly oil a couple of small muffin tins.    Sift some of the icing sugar and cornflour over the trays.

2. Put the gelatine sheets in a small bowl and cover with 140ml of cold water.

3. Put the sugar, golden syrup and approx 100ml of water in a small saucepan with a sugar thermometer leaning against the side. Bring to the boil and leave until it reaches 127C, and then add the water and gelatine.   It will fizz up so stir it gently till the gelatine has dissolved into the sugar mixture.

4. Whisk the egg white and when it forms peaks, gradually pour in the sugar mixture.   Also add the vanilla extract. Continue to whisk for up to 10 minutes or until the mixture has thickened and holds its shape.

5. As the mixture begins to set very quickly once you finish whisking, immediately spoon the mixture into the muffin tins.  Top each mound of marshmallow with a strawberry.   Leave to set.   If you are planning to only eat some of these straightaway, don’t add strawberries to the ones you want to keep for more than a couple of days.

6. When you take the marshmallows out of the muffin tins, put them on a plate on in a tin, lined with icing sugar and cornflour.


Braised Fennel with Thyme

I feel very guilty.   No, not about the braised fennel, but because I signed up for the Daring Kitchen a long time ago and for the first few months I never missed having a go at the challenges.   Somehow, however, I missed a couple of months, and a couple of months soon turned into about 6 months (possibly longer I haven’t checked), but when I saw that the challenge for March was braising, I decided it was far too easy not to have a go.   Typically, braising is when the meat or vegetables are cooked first at a high heat on the stove top and then transferred to the oven to finish cooking slowly in liquid.   I decided to make the braised fennel as I had half a bulb left over from another meal and was making fish with a lemon and caper butter sauce, which I felt the fennel would go well with, as well as a few roast potatoes.  Also, I often feel that my vegetable accompaniments are not very inventive as I tend to just focus on the main dish.  So in fact, for me braising fennel was more of a new challenge than making say one of the braised meat dishes.

I really liked the fennel done this way.   It was nicely browned from being cooked on the stove top first but also nice and soft from the oven.    In fact,  I have half a cabbage left over at the bottom of the fridge and I’m now considering cooking that in a similar way so I feel I’ve picked up a new technique too.

Blog-checking lines: The March, 2012 Daring Cooks’ Challenge was hosted by Carol, a/k/a Poisonive – and she challenged us all to learn the art of Braising! Carol focused on Michael Ruhlman’s technique and shared with us some of his expertise from his book “Ruhlman’s Twenty”.

Ingredients – serves 2 as a side dish

1/2 bulb of fennel

1 tbsp plain flour

1/2 tsp thyme

A little butter


How to make Braised Fennel with Thyme

  1. Slice the fennel into wedges.

  2. Put the flour on a plate and season it with a little salt and pepper.   Dip the two cut sides of fennel into the flour.

  3. Heat some oil in a pan – Ideally a pan that can then be transferred to the oven.   I didn’t have one small enough so just used the frying pan.   Fry the fennel on both sides until it browns.

  4. If necessary transfer the fennel to another oven-proof dish.   Dot with a few small pieces of butter and sprinkle with thyme.   Add about a centimetre of hot water to the dish.   Put in the oven for half an hour at about 180C.

Secret Recipe Club: Black Bean Soup

I am so lazy I almost never use dried beans.   The reason is that I tend to use beans to make quick meals when I haven’t planned anything else.   I throw them together with tins of tomatoes, spices and whatever vegetables I have left to make quick, easy and filling soups, and as black beans are not very common in the UK,  they don’t very often tend to be the ones I use.  However, for a long time I have been meaning to change that, intending to buy more dried beans and make a wider variety of bean dishes. So, I bought a bag of dried black beans and as this recipe has used just a fifth, there is no excuse now for me not to make at least four more black bean dishes at some point in the future.

This desire of mine to use black beans has been around for a while, but it may not have happened just yet, were it not for the Secret Recipe Club.   This month I was paired with Kristi from Veggie Converter. Kristi is a vegetarian but her husband and children are not so she uses a lot of meat substitutes to try to convert traditional meat dishes into vegetarian dishes.   As I am not a vegetarian, and would rather eat meat than a meat substitute, I focused on those recipes of hers which were not conversions, which was why I ended up searching through various bean recipes.   I came across this post for vegan black bean soup and also this helpful post about soaking dried beans, and of course then I had no excuse not to use dried beans.

Making this soup is  incredibly easy, it does just take a bit of advance planning if you are using dried beans.    Everything can be thrown in the slow cooker in the morning and then in the evening you just need to blend it and add seasonings or accompaniments.  I loved the flavours and textures and found it quite filling.    I did make a few changes from the original.  The additional vegetables are different,  I didn’t have any salsa so added a chilli instead, and I also added lime juice.   To see the original recipe, go to Kristi’s blog.

Ingredients – Serves 2

100g dried black beans

1 tomato, diced

1 carrot, diced

1 tbsp sweetcorn

1 chilli, sliced

1/2 tsp vegetable stock powder

Black pepper

Fresh coriander to serve (optional)

Lime juice (optional)

How to make Black Bean Soup

  1. Soak the dried black beans overnight.    If you use tinned you can skip this step.

  2. Put the beans and chopped vegetables in the slow cooker.    Sprinkle with the stock powder and cover with boiling water so the vegetables are just covered.   Alternatively you can use real stock. Set to cook for 8 hours.

  3. Blend the stock till it is relatively smooth but a few bits are ok.   Season and add the fresh coriander and lime juice if using.

To see what other Secret Recipe Club members have made, click on the link below: