Chorizo Cheese Straws

Chorizo cheese puff pastry straws

I have made puff pastry in the past.   It was lovely and I got a real sense of achievement from making it.  I possibly even enjoyed it more, knowing that I’d made it myself.  If only there were still time to get lost in pastry making.   These days if something is not quick and easy it just doesn’t get made.

These easy cheese and chorizo cheese straws contain just three ingredients and are perfect to make for yourself, for a picnic, for a party or even with children, which was how these were made.   Now you’ve seen the picture and you should have worked out the ingredients, you don’t really even need a recipe, but because that’s what I do, I’ll give you one just in case, minus the quantities, because really that’s up to you.  Just don’t make the filling too thick because then they won’t stick together.


Ready to roll puff pastry

Slices of chorizo, chopped

Cheese, grated (I used a mixture of Cheddar and Red Leicester)

How to Make Chorizo and Cheese Straws

1. Roll out the puff pastry.   Sprinkle the cheese and chorizo pieces evenly over half of the pastry.    Brush a little water over the side of the pastry that doesn’t have the filling on.

2. Fold the pastry over to cover the filling.    Roll out to flatten.  Cut the pastry into straw shapes.

3. Bake on a baking tray at about 180C for about 8 minutes.   Cool on a wire rack.

I am linking this to Fiesta Friday, to Recipe of the Week at A Mummy Too and to Cook Blog Share at Supergolden Bakes.

recipeoftheweekCook Blog Share

Spelt and Lentil Caprese Salad

spelt and lentil tomato, basil and mozzarella salad

I have a cupboard full of half-eaten bags of grains, rice, pulses and lentils. Bags are piled up on top of each other as there is just no room to put things in neatly.   I’m always thinking I should sort through it and methodically eat up all the half-started bags but I need a bit of a push to actually do that.

This month the push came when the #RecipeRedux challenge was to discover one of those ingredients hanging around at the back of the cupboards and to give it a little attention by transforming it into a delicious healthy meal.  I picked out a bag of spelt which had probably been siting there for about 4 years!

Now, I love caprese salad but for me it’s not filling enough to eat for a meal, not even a light meal.  I decided to use the spelt to bulk out the salad and make it both healthy and filling enough to stop me reaching for the snacks half way through the afternoon.  I added lentils to the caprese salad too to make it a little more interesting.

Even when properly cooked spelt can be quite chewy, but with the lentils the overall texture is just right.   I ate this for lunch two days in a row and it kept really well in the fridge.   The flavours became even better overnight.

The one problem with spelt is that it does take quite a long time to cook.   However, I’ve discovered you can pre-soak it to reduce the cooking time so next time that is something I’m going to do.  I loved the chewy texture and slightly nutty flavour in the salad. Now I’ve rediscovered spelt, I only hope that bag of spelt will not still be there next year because without this challenge I am sure it would have been.

Ingredients – Serves 2

50g dried spelt

50g dried green lentils

3 tomatoes, chopped

1 ball mozzarella, pulled apart

Handful of basil leaves, roughly chopped

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Black pepper


How to Make Spelt and Lentil Caprese Salad

1. Cook the spelt and lentils according to the pack instructions.   I needed to boil the spelt for just over an hour and the lentils for about 25 minutes.  Drain and leave to cool.

2. Mix all the ingredients together.  Add extra oil, vinegar or seasoning if necessary.

Vegetarian Quinoa Patties

quinoa patties

It’s that time of the month again.   Time for another Secret Recipe Club assignment.   This time I was assigned to cook and blog a recipe from Colleen at Secrets from the Cookie Princess.  Well, with a name like that I really should have chosen to make some cookies but I was feeling in need of something savoury and when I came across these quinoa bites they seemed like the perfect thing for me, my husband and the children to enjoy.

If you do want to make some cookies though, I would seriously advise you to visit Colleen’s blog as she probably has the largest number of cookies in her recipe index that I have ever seen.

If however, you are here because you would like to know how to make some savoury vegetarian patties, then read on.

I had cooked with quinoa a few years ago but it was a long time ago and I felt like it was time to try it again.   I loved the idea of these crispy little bites but I’m a bit heavy handed and so couldn’t really call them bites any more.  They had morphed into patties.  Besides, I wanted them to be part of a main meal, not just an appetiser as they were originally.

I wasn’t feeding a large crowd so I cut back on the quantity by about half and changed it from cups.   I tried baking the first few in the oven but they didn’t crisp up as much as I wanted and so I fried the rest which worked much better for me.   They had crispy bits on the outside but were still soft in the middle.  They don’t have a strong flavour so go really well with a good hot or spicy dip.  If I made them again I might add a finely diced chilli pepper or two to give them a bit more character, but of course, it depends on who you’re making them for.


100g uncooked quinoa

1 egg

1 carrot, grated

3 spring onions, finely sliced

1 clove garlic

Large handful of coriander (cilantro), chopped

50g parmesan, grated

1.5 tbsp plain flour

Black pepper

How to Make Quinoa Bites

1. Cook the quinoa according to the pack instructions and then leave to cool.

2. Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl.   If it’s too dry add another egg or if it’s too wet, add a little more flour.

3. Either put tablespoons of the mixture on an oiled baking tray and bake in the oven at 180C for about 20 minutes or heat a little oil in a frying pan and when it’s hot, put tablespoons of the mixture into the pan.  Fry on each side for about 3-5 minutes depending on how large they are and how hot your pan is.

4. Serve with bread, salad and ideally some spicy sauce or dip.

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

Easter Simnel Cake

Simnel cake

The best thing about certain cakes is the marzipan.   At Christmas I’m indifferent to the icing but I love the marzipan layer below it.  The more marzipan the better and if there’s some left over to eat by itself that’s even better.

If that’s how you feel too then a simnel cake has to be the perfect cake.  Not only does it have a layer of marzipan on the top, that marzipan layer is topped with eleven large balls of marzipan as well as there being a layer of marzipan in the middle of the cake.  You can’t get better than that.

Simnel cakeIf only my lovely husband agreed with me, then this would not have been my very first simnel cake.

As a simnel cake can look really impressive too with the toasted marzipan balls on the top, I was pleased to have a chance to use my new VonShef ceramic cake stand with its glass dome which I got from Domu.  I’d wanted one of these for a while as I always struggle to put cakes in tins and then take them out to slice them.   This is perfect as I can just leave it out on the sideboard, although it does encourage me to keep taking a slice!


175g margarine or butter, at room temperature

175g soft brown sugar

3 eggs

175g self-raising flour

2 tsp mixed spice

100g sultanas

150g currants

100g raisins

55g chopped mixed peel

2 tbsp apricot jam

500g marzipan

How to Make Simnel Cake

1. Cream together the butter and the sugar.

2. Beat in the eggs, one at a time.

3. Fold in the flour and then the dried fruit and mixed peel.

4. Take a third of the marzipan and roll it out into a circle the same size as the cake tin you are using.

5. Put half the mixture into a greased and lined 20cm cake tin.   Put the circle of marzipan on it and then cover with the rest of the cake mixture.

6. Bake the cake at 140C for 90 minutes.  It’s ready when a skewer comes out almost clean.

I am linking this to Love Cake hosted by JibberjabberUK.  The theme is Step into Spring. This is also my Bake of the Week, hosted by Casa Costello.

Love CakeBake of the Week

Disclosure: I received the VonShef Cake Stand for free but the views about it are my own.

Black Cherry Cheesecake Topped with Kirsch Soaked Black Cherries

Black Cherry Cheesecake

There are some desserts that I just cannot resist and cheesecake is one of them. Maybe it’s because it’s something I’ve grown up eating or maybe it’s just because cheesecake is the best dessert ever.

Not only is cheesecake the best dessert ever, this cheesecake is the best blackcherry cheesecake ever.   The secret is all down to some natural flavoured black cherry icing sugar from Sugar and Crumbs.

sugar and crumbs black cherryI tasted a little before mixing it into the cheesecake mixture and it had a lovely intense black cherry flavour – I could have eaten it in spoonfuls out of the pack!  Even when mixed with the cream cheese and cream there was still a very definite black cherry flavour.  It would have been hard to find black cherry flavouring so using flavoured icing sugar was a perfect way to get the taste I wanted.

The finished black cherry cheesecake was delicious, not too rich and perfect as an adult dessert, although you can omit the kirsch soaked black cherries and the extra juice if you want.

This icing sugar would be perfect to make a black cherry flavoured buttercream icing too and so I may use the rest to decorate some little cupcakes.  There’s a recipe on the pack if you’re not used to making buttercream.  The icing sugar is white but if you wanted it to look more like how it tastes, you could easily add a little food colour.  If you have a look on the Sugar and Crumbs website there are so many delicious flavours – pineapple, peach melba and pistachio are just some of the ones I am tempted by at the moment.

Sugar and Crumbs flavoured icing sugar comes in 250g or 500g resealable bags and costs from £2.99.

black cherry cheesecake 3

Ingredients – Serves 10

8 digestive biscuits (120g approx)

75g butter

300g cream cheese

60g black cherry flavoured icing sugar

250ml double cream

Jar of black cherries in Kirsch or something similar (optional)

How to Make Black Cherry Cheesecake

1. Crumble the digestive biscuits between your fingers to make crumbs.  Alternatively blitz them in a food processor or put them in a food bag and bang them with a rolling pin.

2. Melt the butter in the microwave or a small saucepan.   Pour it over the biscuit crumbs and stir till them are all coated in the butter and the mixture is clumping together.

3. Put the crumbs into the bottom of a 20cm springform or loose bottomed cake tin.  Press them down with a spoon.

4. In a food mixer, beat the cream cheese until light and creamy.   Beat in the icing sugar.

5. In another bowl, whisk the cream until it stands in soft peaks.   Fold the cream into the cream cheese mixture then spoon it on top of the cheesecake base.

6. Smooth the top and put it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours.

7. To serve, remove the cheesecake carefully from the tin and top with some of the cherries.   When you serve, drizzle with some of the liquid from the jar of cherries.

Disclosure: I was sent some sample packs of Sugar and Crumbs Flavoured Icing Sugar but the views here are my own.

Recipe Redux: Pesto Crusted Sea Bass

Grilled Sea bass with a pesto coating

I’ve made lots of different pestos over the years.   Some of them have featured on this blog, some of them haven’t.   Until now they have all had one thing in common – cheese.   This pesto is the first one I’ve made without cheese as I was aiming for a lighter and fresher pesto recipe.

The reason for that is that this is my first month taking part in the Recipe Redux, a food blogging challenge set up by dietitians where the focus is on creating delicious but also healthy dishes.   This month the theme was double dinners and we were challenged to either make a healthy meal from the leftovers of a dish on our blog or to cook a new dish but to show how the leftovers could be used to make another delicious dinner as well.

I chose to make two meals with coriander pesto but adapted the recipe on my blog to make it less oily.  For my first meal of parmesan crusted sea bass I wanted the pesto to have quite a thick consistency so it would coat the fish like a crust, keeping the fish moist but also adding lots of pesto flavour.   This meant not adding too much olive oil to it.

It worked.   The fish was moist and the pesto made it so yummy.   Avoiding adding cheese was definitely the best option for this dish.   It just doesn’t need it – the flavours from the lemon, garlic, chilli pepper and coriander are perfect for the sea bass.  Or any other white fish you choose to use.

For my second dinner we just mixed the pesto with pasta.   As the pesto was quite thick I left quite a bit of the cooking water in with the pasta before stirring in the pesto so that the sauce would be liquid enough to coat all of the pasta and although you can’t see it in the picture further down, I then topped each plate of pasta with a small handful of grated parmesan, making a slightly richer but just as delicious pesto dinner.

Ingredients – Makes enough pesto to make both meals

Large handful of coriander including stalks and leaves (approx 60g)

50g cashew nuts

1 clove garlic, roughly chopped

1 dried green chilli pepper, crumbled

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 sea bass fillets

How to Make Coriander Pesto Crusted Sea Bass

1. Put the cashew nuts into a dry frying pan and toast them until they are turning golden.  Keep tossing the pan so they don’t burn.

2. Put all the pesto ingredients into a food processor and blitz until everything is well combined.

3. Put a tablespoon of the pesto on each sea bass fillet and press it down so it coats the whole of the top of the sea bass.   Grill for 10 minutes.

Coriander pesto on pasta

Click on the link below to see what other Recipe Redux bloggers have made for their double dinners.

Beef and Egg stir Fry

beef and egg stir fry

I have the Sainsbury’s magazine and Ken Hom to thank for this recipe.   I am a recent convert to the magazine after picking up a copy at the end of last year.   I always find about 4-5 recipes I really want to make and this month was no exception.

I often make stir fries but I have to admit that I am a bit stuck in a rut.   I use the same flavours and sauces and apart from different vegetables, the basic flavour tends to be the same.   I was attracted to this particular stir fry as it had egg in as well as meat and the way it was added was some thing I’d never tried before.   Of course, I’ve made stir fried rice with egg, but never put egg in with the meat and vegetables.

I also hadn’t used  black bean sauce at home for a long time, although it is my favourite takeway choice.  The fact that you just use a tiny bit but then the jar says to use up within a certain number of days always puts me off.  We like Chinese food but we are unlikely to eat it every day!

I really liked this but did find it slightly salty so next time I wouldn’t add the soy sauce in step 5 and I would also use a smaller amount of black bean sauce.   I’d probably add a tiny bit in step 3 then just add a little more at the end if it needed it. Of course, the saltiness could be down to the particular brand I was using, but I think it would make sense to do that next time anyway.  Apart from that it was a really good discovery and a nice way of using mince rather than making it into burgers or bolognese.


For the Beef Marinade

200g beef

2 tsp soy sauce

1.5 tsp shaoxing rice wine

1 tsp sesame oil

1 tsp cornflour

For the eggs

2 eggs

1 tsp sesame oil

Pinch of salt

Other Ingredients

3 cloves garlic, finely diced or crushed

Small knob of fresh ginger, finely diced or grated

1 tbsp black bean sauce

3 spring onions, diced

1 tsp soy sauce

1 tbsp shaoxing rice wine

1 tsp caster sugar

1 large tomato

1 tsp sesame oil

How to Make Beef and Egg Stir fry

1. Put all the marinade ingredients for the beef in a bowl.   Mix together and then add the beef mince and mix it in quickly with your hands.   Leave for 15 minutes.

2. Prepare the eggs by beating the eggs, sesame oil and salt together in a bowl.  Set aside.

3. Add a little oil to a wok or large frying pan.  When it is hot, add the garlic, ginger, black bean sauce and spring onions.

4. Cook for about 30 seconds then add the beef.   Keep stirring and breaking up the beef as it cooks.

5. Cook for a couple of minutes then add the extra soy sauce(optional), shaoxing rice wine and sugar.   Stir in then add about 60ml of water and the tomatoes.

6. When the water has reduced and the beef is cooked, drizzle the egg in and stir slowly.   As soon as the egg is cooked, serve the mince with rice and drizzled with a little more sesame oil.

I am linking this to Bunny Eats Design’s Our Growing Edge, hosted this month by Cynthia from Eat Munch Love and also linking to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.Tasty Tuesdays

Our Growing edge

Cranberry Oat Streusal Muffins

Cranberry oat streusal muffin

I was determined to make something healthy this month for Secret Recipe Club.   I planned to make this tasty looking salad but when my shopping arrived the romaine lettuce was missing.   Never mind, I thought I would wait until I was out at the shops and buy some lettuce then.   I forgot.   It seemed that I was not meant to make that salad, although it is still on my list.

Instead, I opted to make these delicious sweet oaty cranberry muffins flavoured with cinnamon.   The attraction?   That dark sugary streusal topping.   I love streusal and can never resist a muffin or cake with a streusal top.   Usually it’s not me who’s made it though.   These are the type of muffins I see when I’m in a cafe and just have to have.   They are normally my can’t resist impulse buy.

This time though, I found the muffins on It’s Yummi, a blog by Chef Becca Heflin, who was my Secret Recipe Assignment this month.  I actually saw them before I saw the salad but cranberry streusal muffinsI just kept being drawn back to them. I couldn’t go out and buy them and as Becca lives in Wisconsin and I am here in the UK, there was little chance of her making them for me in person.  I would just have to make some streusal myself!

I only adapted the recipe slightly, partly through being in a hurry to weigh out the ingredients before Master Spice demanded attention again!   I also changed the measurements to metric to make it easier for me to make the muffins.   There was a long list of ingredients but as they are just mixed together that doesn’t translate into a long preparation time.   The finished muffins were really tasty, especially when still warm with a bit of ice cream.

The recipe called for dried cranberries although there were fresh ones in the picture on Becca’s blog and I think the muffins would be even more delicious with fresh cranberries.   They are very sweet so the tartness of the cranberries would be a nice contrast, at least for me as I don’t have a very sweet tooth.   You could also adapt them by using different dried fruit.

As Becca is a chef she has so many delicious looking and sounding recipes on her blog.   There are a mix of sweet and savoury recipes and most recipes are healthy, involving cooking from scratch using easily available unprocessed ingredients.  I promise you, especially if you like cupcakes and have a slow cooker, you will definitely find some inspiration so do take a look.

Cranberry oat streusal muffin


Ingredients – Makes 10

90g rolled oats

240g whole wheat flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

2tsp ground cinnamon

100g dark brown sugar

100g white sugar

2 eggs

60ml vegetable oil

60ml milk

80ml natural yoghurt

120ml applesauce (I used two stewed apples)

1 tsp vanilla extract

100g dried cranberries

Ingredients for the Streusal Topping

60g whole wheat flour

2 tbsp rolled oats

80g dark brown sugar

40g white sugar

60g butter, melted

How to Make Cranberry Oat Streusal Muffins

1. Prepare the streusal topping by melting the butter and then stirring it into the rest of the ingredients with a fork.

2. Put all the dry ingredients except the cranberries in a large bowl and mix together.

3. Put all the wet ingredients in another bowl and whisk together.

4. Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients and stir until just combined.   Add the cranberries and stir in.

5. Spoon the mixture into a muffin tin lined with muffin cases.   Fill the cases almost to the top.  Top each of the muffins with some of the streusal mixture.   I had some leftover.

6. Bake the muffins in the oven at 180C for about 18-20 minutes.   Cool the muffins on a wire rack.


I am also linking these to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays

Beef Bourguignon

beef bourguignon

On a cold winter’s day in February, what you need to eat is a stew.   You could make one with meat, vegetables and stock.  A simple stew like that would be delicious, but on certain days you need to push the boat out a little and not hold back on the red wine.   On days like that a rich beef bourguignon is the stew to go for.   I read somewhere that a real bourguignon doesn’t contain any stock, just red wine, and so that’s what I’ve gone for here.  Thanks to Tesco, my trusty food and drink supplier.

The key to a good bourguignon is not to skimp on the wine.   I have to admit that I rarely use quite as much wine as this.  Normally I use a little bit, about a glassful.   After all, we want to have the rest of the bottle to enjoy with the meal.   This time I went to the other extreme pouring half the bottle into the pan and saving just a large glass each to enjoy with the meal.   At least I wasn’t cooking for more people, then there would have been none left!

The bourguignon itself is rich and tasty.   The bacon, beef and mushrooms are a perfect match for all that red wine and you’ll be tempted to lick the plate.  Although I did just cook this at home for me and my husband, it would be a perfect meal to serve for friends too as you can prepare it in advance and just heat it up to serve.   Like lots of stews, it’s even more tasty the next day.

Ingredients – Serves 2

300g beef

2 rashers of thick smoked bacon, diced

150g mushrooms, cut in half

About 8 shallots, peeled but left whole

1 clove garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp dried thyme

1 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried parsley

1 bay leaf

400ml French red wine

How to Make Beef Bourguignon

1. Heat a little oil in an ovenproof saucepan and brown the meat on both sides.   Remove the meat from the pan.

2. Cook the bacon until it is browned and then add the mushrooms, shallots and garlic.  Cook for another few minutes until it’s beginning to brown then add the herbs, tomato puree and a dash of the red wine.   Scrape the bottom of the pan so that any bits that are beginning to stick to the pan go back into the sauce.

3. Return the beef to the pan and top with enough red wine to just cover the contents. Bring to the boil and then put in the oven at 150C.  Cook for three hours.

4. Take the pan out of the oven.  If there is too much sauce, take the vegetables and meat out of the pan and boil the sauce to reduce.  To keep the meat and vegetables warm, put them in another oven-proof container and return them to the oven until the sauce has reduced.

5. Serve with baked or mashed potatoes.

Disclosure: Written for Tesco

Raspberry Pavlova

Raspberry pavlova

My mum makes a fantastic pavlova with crisp crunchy meringue on the outside and soft sticky meringue on the inside.   From now on, I can say that I make a fantastic pavlova too!  Well, I like to think I am fairly modest so I will have to rely on the people who ate this raspberry pavlova with me to spread the word.   And if it slips their mind?   Well, I’ll just have to rely on this blog too.

For years my mum has made a pavlova for family gatherings. The fruit is sometimes different – sometimes berries, sometimes grapes, sometimes kiwi fruit – but the pavlova itself is always the same and it always has that delicious chewy middle underneath the crunchy meringue.  She recently told me proudly that Mary Berry’s recipe was exactly the same as her one.  You would almost have thought she’d given the recipe to Mary Berry!

This was my first attempt at a pavlova and I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out, despite the pedigree of the recipe.   I feared that somehow I would mess it up and it would all turn out hard and crispy.   I needn’t have worried.   After making this I would say that a pavlova is just about the easiest dessert to make and still manage to impress.   As long as you have an electric whisk you just cannot go wrong.

There are so few ingredients – eggs, sugar, cream, fruit.   Oh and just a tiny bit of vinegar and cornflour.   Why not make it straightaway?

Of course, If you don’t like sugar then you’d best avoid this.   If you don’t like cream then I’d also stay away and if you have an egg allergy then it might not be suitable, but if you have a sweet tooth and a love of sweet sugary desserts but with a bit of fruit thrown in, just to make you feel it might be healthy, then go for it.

When buying any eggs in the UK it’s always worth checking that they have the British Lion stamp on them.  These eggs have had to meet stringent food safely and welfare standards, which has led to salmonella being almost completely eradicated from British Lion eggs.

I chose to decorate my pavlova with raspberries as we all really like them but any fruit would do.  Strawberries would be perfect, as would blueberries.   I like the idea of peaches or mango too. Yum.  In fact, I think I’m going to have to make this again soon, especially as I rather cheekily ate the last piece while my lovely husband was out of the house.  I thought he might just forget that we had some left.  He didn’t.

Ingredients – Serves 8

3 egg whites

175g caster sugar

1 tsp cornflour

1 tsp white wine vinegar

400g raspberries

200ml double cream

2 tbsp icing sugar

How to make Raspberry Pavlova

1. Put the egg whites in the bottom of a mixer bowl and whisk until they begin to form soft peaks.

2. Add the sugar gradually, whisking as you add it.

3. Mix the cornflour and vinegar together and whisk in too.

4. Draw a 20cm diameter circle on a piece of baking paper and spoon the meringue onto it.

5. Put in the oven, preheated to 150C and turn it down to 140C straightaway.   Bake for 45 minutes and then turn the oven off.   Leave the pavlova in the the oven as it cools.  I took it out an hour later.

6. Whisk the double cream until it forms soft peaks and then whisk in the icing sugar.

7. Put the cream in the middle of the pavlova and top with the raspberries.

I am linking this to Tasty Tuesdays at Honest Mum.

Tasty Tuesdays





Disclosure:  This is a featured post for British Lion Eggs.  However, the views it contains are my own.