Sunday, 13 April 2014

White chocolate and pecan blondies

As a brownie lover, I thought I'd share with you a recipe for this delicious blondie. Similar in texture to a brownie but instead of using cocoa and melted brown chocolate, this uses brown sugar and white chocolate for a deliciously sweet and nutty taste.

Hope you enjoy!


1 cup plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 cup lt brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract or paste
2/3 cup white chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Grease a 9x9-inch baking tin.
  2. Seive together in a bowl 1 cup flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, and salt. Add 1/2 cup chopped pecans. Mix well and set aside.
  3. Stir the brown sugar into the melted butter and mix well. Cool slightly.
  4. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla into the brown sugar mixture. Add flour mixture a little at a time, mixing until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  5. Spread the batter into the prepared pan. Bake in the preheated oven until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out on to a rack and allowing to cool completely. Alternatively, serve warm with a scoop of quality vanilla ice-cream..... My favourite!

Happy baking xx

Monday, 7 April 2014

Bread making with the Scraper Mixer Pro from Sage Appliances

Testing the Scraper Mixer Pro dough hook from Sage Appliances

A little while ago I posted a review of the Sage mixer and a recipe for Berry Crumble Bundt cake. Since my first review and proper use of the mixer, I have to admit, it is now my go-to machine! I just love it!! Whatever it is I am making this is the one I grab (if you're a regular reader you'll know I also own a KitchenAid). My students love it too... One lady rushed straight off and bought one that very weekend!

A massive plus for me is it's slow and gradual start speed. The KitchenAid doesn't have that so the Sage makes adding dry ingredients (icing sugar/flour etc.) a 'cloud-free' doddle!

Here I am testing out the dough hook with some bread recipes. Myself and the lovely Carmela Hayes did some experiementing in the kitchen one afternoon...

The Sage in action!
A lovely even pliable mix
Adding the filling to our stromboli
Rolling in the sides to secure the filling
Lunch is served...
A gorgeous selection of freshly made breads;
Stromboli, focaccia, fennel bread and black olive bread

Recipe for Stromboli
Serves: 6-8

350g strong white flour
4g salt
200ml tepid water
7g dried yeast
3 tbsp olive oil

We added a selection of roasted peppers, mozzarella, parmesan, fresh basil, garlic and chilli but you can add what you like. Some chopped cured meats and olives would work really well too.
  • Mix the flour and salt together in the bowl of the mixer.
  • Add the dried yeast to the tepid water and stir.  This will activate the yeast.
  • Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in the yeasty water, spoon in the olive oil.
  • With the mixer on slow, combine both the flour and liquid together to form a dough.
  • Continue to knead/mix for around 8 minutes.  The dough should be smooth and elastic. If you find it a little sticky add a touch more flour.
  • Form the dough into a ball and place into a lightly oiled bowl.
  • Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to prove for 1 hour 30 minutes in a warm area of the kitchen away from any draught.
  • Prepare the filling. Into a bowl tumble in your ingredients.  Mix with a fork, cover and set aside.
  • Lightly flour the surface and turn out the dough.  Roll the dough to the size of a swiss roll tin around 30 x 25cm.
  • Turn the dough so the shortest side is facing you.  Sprinkle over the filling allowing a margin of 1-2cm all the way around.
  • Roll from the shortest side, tucking in the edges as you go.
  • Place onto a baking tray and cover with cling film.  Allow to rest for 30 minutes.
  • Preheat the oven to 180°C / Gas 4
  • Bake the Stromboli for 35 minutes until golden, serve with a lovely green salad and a glass of chilled Prosecco!

More information on the Sage Scraper Mixer Pro can be found here;

Happy baking xx

Friday, 4 April 2014

Virtual blogger Come Dine With Me

with Russell Hobbs and their new Illumina range

I was asked to test out one of the products in the new Illumina range from Russell Hobbs as part of a virtual 'Come Dine With Me' with two other food bloggers. The best part, those food bloggers also happened to be two of my favourite people...

The idea is that we each cook a dish from a three course menu (see below for menu and links) using one of the Illumina products. It just so happened I was looking for a new blender as my previous one had given up on me just before Christmas.

The Illumina Jug Blender has a range of features to improve food preparation including a uniquely shaped 1.5 litre jug and titanium coated two-tip blades - 4 times harder than uncoated stainless steel. Being stronger and more durable, these blades will stay sharper for longer. Combined with 850 watts of power, you can enjoy advanced Infinity blending technology that offers over 50% improved blending compared to previous models.

Easy to use, easy to clean, its stunning modern design will look good on any work surface. It’s also easy to see that the sophistication of the Illumina Jug Blender lies not only in its unique Colour Control and Infinity Blending Technology, but in its simplicity.

Recipe for Ginger and Lemon baked cheesecake with raspberry puree


1 x 200g packet of Ginger nut biscuits, broken
85g unsalted butter, melted
2 x 300g cream cheese (not low fat as too watery)
1 cup caster sugar
1 cup semi or whole milk
1 tbsp cornflour
4 large eggs
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

Blitz the packet of Ginger nuts for 20 seconds on 2 (purple)
Empty into a bowl and stir in melted butter

Press into a 9" springform using the back of a wooden spoon
(I butter the sides and line the base with greaseproof and
squish some tin foil around the outside base)
Chill in the fridge while you make the cheesecake
Give the jug a quick rinse to remove biscuit crumbs

Add all the other ingredients to your jug blender and whizz for 20 seconds on Pulse (red)
Pour into your chilled base
Bake in a preheated oven at 165 for 1 hour or until just set, checking after
45 minutes for done-ness and that the top isn't browning too quickly.
If it is, place a piece of foil or greaseproof loosely over the top.

Chill for several hours or overnight

I served mine with some frozen raspberries, defrosted and blitz half in the blender for a few seconds, adding the remaining raspberries for texture.


Chicken Liver Pate

Spinach pesto with hand rolled trofie pasta

Ginger and Lemon cheesecake with raspberry puree
by me!

Hope you enjoy our 'Come Dine With Me' menu as much as we enjoyed making it!

Happy baking xx

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Recipe for Thorntons Chocolate Pistachio fudge

I was recently sent a bundle of delicious Thorntons chocolates to play with and create some tempting recipes. Being a massive chocolate lover this was no easy task.... so many recipes, which ones to choose??

Belgian Milk Choc Block, Milk Choc Block with Fudge, Orange and Cardamom Choc Block, Special Toffee Milk Choc Block, Award-winning Pistachio Block, Hazelnut and Raisin Block, Award-winning Strawberry Block
My first thought was a chocolate and pistachio biscotti (yum) but then I came across this recipe from Nigella Express which sounded delicious so I just had to try.

The result was lots of little blocks of chocolate pistachio heaven that I kept in my fridge and dipped in to grab one whenever I needed a fix, in true Nigella style!


(adapted from Nigella's chocolate fudge recipe)

1 x 80g bar thorntons milk chocolate with pistachio
270dark chocolate (chopped, minimum 70% cocoa solids)
1 x 397can condensed milk
pinch of salt
  1. Put the chopped chocolate, condensed milk, butter and salt in a heavy-based pan on a low heat, and stir to melt.
  2. Put the nuts into a freezer bag and bash them with a rolling pin, until broken up into both big and little pieces.
  3. Add the nuts to the melted chocolate and condensed milk and stir well to mix.
  4. Pour the mixture into a foil tray 23cm / 9 inch square, smoothing the top.
  5. Let the fudge cool, and refrigerate until set. You can then cut it into small pieces approx. 3 x 2.25cm / 1¾ x 1¾ inches. Cutting 8 x 10 / 7 x 7 lines in the tin to give 64 pieces best achieves this.
  6. Once cut, it can be kept in the freezer - no need to thaw just eat straight away.

Happy baking x

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Russell Hobbs Capsule Collection


Sometimes, deciding what to make for dinner can be as big a battle as preparing the meal itself.  Russell Hobbs’ Capsule Collection has been designed to offer busy mums a simple solution for preparing a meal – whether it’s for her friends, a romantic meal or to feed the family. 

With the Russell Hobbs Desire food preparation range to help you, all you need is five simple ingredients, supplement them with some store cupboard essentials, and you can easily pull together delicious food. What’s more, with the three core capsules of ingredients you can create a starter, main course and dessert – meaning you’ll never be caught out when friends or family pop over for dinner. 

The principle behind the Capsule Collection is a really clever idea! As a busy mum with two part time jobs, I understand how difficult it can be to plan weekly menus for the family and keep that work/life balance right!  While I love cooking elaborate meals for family and friends, sometimes our busy schedules don't always allow this so the Capsule Collection goes to show you don't have to compromise on delicious and nutritious meals that the whole family can enjoy.


For your friends 
For your family 
For your partner 


For your friends 
For your family 
For your partner 

Click on the dish for a link to the recipe)

DESIRE by Russell Hobbs
In a tempting colour combination of black and red, the Desire range has been designed with the passionate cook in mind, combining outward confidence with uncompromised functionality
A collection of irresistible and striking appliances in a stylish matt black finish with accents of vibrant red, Desire caters for the trend towards home dining and the demand for appliances which reflect this passion; enabling a more enjoyable experience.

Find out more about the 18970 Desire Hand Blender
Stylish and striking, with two speed settings,
this blender takes all the hassle out of making
 tasty dips and sauces. Boasting a striking
black and red colour combination, it exudes
 plenty of kitchen confidence for a
bang-on-trend blend
Find out more about the 18991 Desire Glass Jug Blender
An attractive matt black jug blender
with all the features for making tasty
soups and sauces. Accents of red
create a striking colour combo for a
contemporary stance
Find out more about the 18558 Desire Mini Chopper
This distinctive Mini Chopper with 'Desire'
styling has a powerful wattage and high
capacity which makes it a very versatile
kitchen accessory. It also comes
equipped with a durable glass bowl
 and lid for easy storage
Find out more about the 18980 Desire 3 in 1 Hand Blender
A delicious mix of form and function,
the three-in-one hand blender
combines mixing, whisking and
chopping in a choice of two
speed settings. Stylish black
matt finish is complemented
by flashes of red for a fiery finish
Find out more about the 19000 Desire Food Processor
The 600w Desire Food Processor
features a 1.5 litre capacity jug and
comes with an additional plastic
jug blender. With solid features built
for slicing, shredding, rasping, whisking
and blending, this processor is an all-round
performer with added worktop wow factor
Find out more about the 20340 Desire Slice & Go Food Slicer / Shredder
Combining form and function, this
stainless-steel grating, shredding
and slicing tool boasts a sleek
and contemporary design. Easy to use
 and easy to clean, it takes all the
 hard work out of preparing food
and has all the features for expertly
 slicing and shredding vegetables

Find out more about the 20350 Desire Kitchen Machine
The first bite of a freshly baked cake
brings back the best memories of cooking
and baking at home. Making a chic statement
in black and red, the fashionable,
multipurpose Desire Kitchen Machine
looks great and performs brilliantly.
 It includes three different attachments
for supreme mixing efficiency

Find out more about the 18960 Desire Hand Mixer
The 300w matt black Desire Hand Mixer,
with five speed settings and turbo
function, comes with chrome beaters
 and dough hooks and boasts an eject
button for easy removal of accessories.  Dishwasher safe, this product promises a passionate performance in the kitchen

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Russell Hobbs Capsule Collection - for your friends

Pesto and Salmon Drop Scones
Mediterranean chicken, garlic, potatoes and green beans
No bake chocolate cheesecake

Pesto and Salmon Drop Scones
Makes 20

For the scones:

115g (4 oz) of self-raising flour
1 egg
2 tbsp Pesto sauce
100ml (4 fl oz) milk
 Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil

For the Topping;

Crème fraîche or sour cream
55g (2 oz) smoked salmon, make up into small rolls

For the Garnish:

Lemon wedges
Chopped fresh dill
  • Place the flour in the Desire Food Processor bowl. Add the egg, pesto sauce and half the milk and blend on a slow speed. Thin to a dropping consistency with the remaining milk. Season.
  • Wipe a sauce pan or hotplate with a little oil on a piece of kitchen paper.  Drop tablespoons of the mixture onto the hotplate, when bubbles rise to the surface, turn over and cook the other side. 
  • Place the mini pancakes on a serving plate, top each with a spoon of sour cream and a roll of smoked salmon.  Scatter chopped dill on top

Mediterranean Chicken, Garlic Potatoes and Green Beans

For the chicken:

2 Skinless chicken breasts
Small handful of dried black olives
1 onion
1 tomato
2 springs of fresh tarragon
2 springs of fresh parsley
Salt & pepper
1 egg - lightly beaten

For the potatoes;

2 large potatoes
50g butter
Garlic crushed
1/4 pint cream
1/4 pint milk
3 cloves of garlic
Chopped parsley
  • Place the peeled onion, black olives and the herbs into your Desire Mini Chopper and blitz for 15 – 20 seconds.
  • Cut your tomato into quarters and remove the centres then add to the mix and blitz for a further 10 – 15 seconds. Add a pinch of salt and some cracked black pepper.
  • Peel the potatoes and then slice them in your Desire Food Processor. 
  • Add the crushed garlic and the slightly softened butter
  • Take an oval medium sized baking dish and smear the sides and base of the dish with garlic butter.  Layer the potatoes in the dish, seasoning as you go with parsley and salt & pepper to create four layers
  • Add the cream and milk mix to almost cover the top layer
  • Take the chicken breast and cut them along the long side – butterflying them out.  Place a good spoonful of the mixture along the central section of the butterfly.  Then fold over to recreate the chicken breast shape again
  • Use your Desire Mini Chopper again to create some breadcrumbs. Put some flour into a bowl and add salt and pepper. Then, whisk the egg in a separate bowl
  • Put the potatoes dish into a pre-heated fan oven 150 C (non-fan oven 170 C). Bake for around 40 minutes. The top will have a good brown colour and the mix should be just a little runny
  • Meanwhile, dip the chicken in the seasoned flour, dip in the egg wash and then roll in the breadcrumbs
  • Place the chicken on to a baking tray and place in for 30 - 35 minutes.  At 15 - 20 minutes turn once to ensure a lovely golden colour all over

No bake cheesecake

Serves 6

150g digestive biscuits
45g butter
110g caster sugar, divided
120ml whipping cream
150g dark chocolate, melted and cooled
2 tblsp cocoa powder mixed with a little hot water
200g cream cheese

  • Crush the digestive biscuits and mix with the melted butter and 1 tablespoon of the caster sugar. Press into a 18cm (7 in) cake tin and refrigerate.
  • Whip cream until soft peak stage. Add cooled melted chocolate, then the cocoa powder mix. Blend well and set aside.
  • Beat the cream cheese and remaining sugar together. Fold in cream/chocolate mixture and mix thoroughly using your Kitchen Machine.
  • Spread into tin on top of crushed biscuits. Freeze for one hour
  • Refrigerate for about 30 minutes, then serve with a dollop of creme fraiche and fresh strawberries.

Next up; 
Capsule Collection for your family
Capsule Collection for you and your partner
Photos and recipes courtesy of Russell Hobbs

Russell Hobbs Capsule Collection - for your partner

Smoked salmon, horseradish and dill toasts
Chicken kiev, vine tomatoes and boulangere potatoes
Hot Chocolate Souffle

Smoked salmon, horseradish and dill toasts
Serves 2

150g smoked salmon
1 loaf of ciabatta
¼  small tub crème fraîche
1 squeeze of lemon juice
Chopped dill
1/4 teaspoon creamed horseradish
1 tiny pinch of sea salt
1 small pinch of freshly ground black pepper
Extra virgin olive oil

  • Add a ¼ teaspoon of creamed horseradish to a ¼ tub of crème fraîche. Sprinkle in a small pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice, then use the Russell Hobbs Desire Hand Blender to mix
  • Taste your topping to make sure it’s seasoned enough for your taste
  • Cut your ciabatta loaf into 1cm thick slices and then toast or griddle them. Drizzle over a little extra virgin olive oil
  • Top with waves of smoked salmon
  • Add a dollop of the horseradish crème fraîche to each piece of toast and then scatter over the chopped dill
  • Finish with a drizzle of olive oil and a liberal dash of lemon juice

Chicken Kiev, vine tomatoes and Boulangere potatoes
Serves 2

For the kievs;
2 Skinned chicken breasts
2 cloves of fresh garlic
50g salted butter (softened)
2 sprigs of fresh parsley
1 Egg – lightly whisked
A little flour
Pepper to taste

For the potatoes;
2 large potatoes
1 white onion Sliced
½ pint good chicken stock
Chopped parsley
  • Peel the potatoes and then slice them in your Desire Food Processor. Peel and quarter an onion and then put that through the slicer
  • Layer the potato and onions in a baking dish. Add the stock with the chopped parsley so that it just covers the potatoes
  • Next, make the kievs. Peel the garlic and place it in your Desire Mini Chopper along with the parsley and a good sprinkle of black pepper and blitz for 10 - 20 seconds. Add the softened butter and mix for a further 15 seconds
  • Take the chicken breast and slice it along the long edge into a butterfly shape, but don’t cut it completely in half. Then place a piece of cling film over the chicken and batten it out (use a rolling pin) to flatten it out slightly
  • Place a good spoonful of the garlic, parsley and butter mix in the middle of each breast then roll the chicken breast over the mix so no holes are left. You will now have a tight roll of chicken
  • Place the Boulanger potatoes in a pre-heated fan oven 150 C (nonfan oven 170 C). They will take 30 – 40 minutes to bake
  • Use your Desire Mini Chopper again to create some breadcrumbs. Put some flour into a bowl and add salt and pepper. Then, whisk the egg in a separate bowl
  • Dip the chicken into the seasoned flour, then into the egg wash and then roll it in the breadcrumbs – coating completely. Repeat for the second breast
  • If you have time, leave the cling film on the chicken and leave in the fridge for an hour to rest. This will help the filling to stay in the chicken whilst it bakes
  • Place the chicken onto a baking tray along with the vine tomatoes and place in the oven for a total of 30 - 35 minutes.  At 15 - 20 minutes, turn the kievs once to ensure a lovely golden colour all over

Hot chocolate soufflé

75g butter
450ml milk
50g plain flour
4 eggs, separated
1½ tbsp cocoa powder
50g caster sugar
  • Preheat the oven to 190°C
  • Melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cocoa, and blend over a low heat. Add the milk and mix well using the Desire Hand Whisk until thickened slightly. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool, then add the egg yolks and beat in.
  • Put the egg whites in the bowl, mix on speed 6 for a few seconds, then add the sugar and continue to whisk until soft peaks form. Fold in the sauce.
  • Pour the mixture into a greased 1.2 litre dish. Stand the dish in a roasting tin filled half full with boiling water, put into the oven, and bake for 40- 45 minutes, until well risen

Next up; 
Capsule Collection for your friends
Capsule Collection for your family
Photos and recipes courtesy of Russell Hobbs