Archives for category: My favourites

This is one of my fail safe, go to recipes. A Nigel Slater classic, serve it warm with double cream or custard, or cooled with whipped cream. The pastry needs a bit of care – and time – to get right, but is worth it for the soft crumbly base to hold the soft and sweet pears.

75g butter
75g caster sugar
1 egg yolk
150g plain flour
Splash of milk
1kg ripe pears
15g butter
3 lightly heaped tbsp muscovado sugar

Make the pastry by dicing the butter and beating (by hand or in a food processor) with the sugar until a smooth thick cream. Add the egg yolk then the flour, and bring to a soft ball with the milk. Turn the dough onto a floured board. Knead softly for a minute or two to make it easier to work. Roll into a disc to line the pie plate (use one about 18cm across the bottom, 24cm across the top). Carefully lift into place and press into shape. Trim the edges and patch up any holes. Refrigerate for 30mins.

Set the oven to 180 degrees and place a baking sheet in the oven to heat. Cut the pears into quarters, peeling and coring then slicing into 1cm wide chunks. Melt the butter in a large pan and add the pears then the sugar. Cook gently for about 10mins until the fruit is translucent and soft. Lift from the pan using a slotted spoon and arrange over the bottom of the chilled pastry case. Boil any remaining juices in the pan until only a few tbsp are left, then spoon over the pears. Bake for 40 mins until the crust is golden brown at the edges and the pears are beginning to colour.



This is one of my absolute favourite recipes. I love that it is different every time, depending on the proportions and variety of fish etc used, but every time it is so delicious. It is seriously good, although I should warn you that it creates a lot of washing up, and the kitchen will look like a bomb site. Bizarrely, the recipe was a promotional ad for Sensodyne toothpaste in the December 2008 edition of Observer Food Monthly – no, I don’t understand either.

900ml full fat milk
1 small onion, peeled and quartered but with the root intact
2 bay leaves
3-4 sprigs fresh thyme
1kg fresh fish and seafood – eg 250g salmon; 350g cod; 150g smoked haddock; 150g prawns; 100g scallops
50g plain flour
3 tbsp plain flour
3 tbsp chopped parsley
3 tbsp double cream
4 hard-boiled eggs, shelled and quartered lengthways
1.5kg floury potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
50g butter
5 tbsp double cream
150g grated cheddar

Pour the milk into a large pan and add the onion, bay leaves and thyme. Place the fish into the pan and bring to a gentle simmer. Cook over a low heat for 10 mins, the set aside for a further 10 mins. Drain the fish through a colander, discard the onion, thyme and reserve the infused milk.

Boil the potatoes for 15-18 mins until soft. Drain well then mash with the butter until smooth. Season to taste. Preheat the oven to 190 degrees.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and stir in the flour. Cook for about 30 seconds, the gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Cook for about five minutes until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Season well and stir in the parsley and cream.

Remove any skin from the fish and discard (NB put in the outside bin straight away to stop the house smelling of fish). Flake into large pieces. Add the fish, prawns and scallops to the sauce and fold in gently. Put the egg in then bottom of a two litre ovenproof dish then spoon over the fish mixture. Top with the mashed potato and use the back of a fork to ensure that it goes right to the edge and to make a ridged pattern. Sprinkle over the grated cheese. Place on a baking tray and bake for 30 mins until piping hot (add a further ten minutes if made in advance). Serve with peas.




Super easy, super rich dessert that is made in advance. What’s not to like? Just remember to take out if the freezer about ten minutes before serving. This time I served them in little espresso cups, but for an even richer pudding, try those chocolate cups in the ice cream aisle. Some sharp fruit eg raspberry or blackcurrant would be good on the side. This is probably the only pudding I’ve tried that isn’t improved with cream, unlikely as that sounds. The quantities below make four medium servings or eight small ones (eg in chocolate cups).

100g really good quality dark chocolate
5 tbsp condensed milk
4 tbsp double cream

Melt the chocolate and condensed milk in a bowl set over a pan of boiling water. Take off the heat and stir in – using a whisk – the cream. When completely smooth and mixed pour into serving cups / pots / dishes, cover and freeze for at least four hours. Remove shortly before serving and add any garnish.



The classic no cook cake – rich, chocolatey and really easy to make. I like to use a mixture of milk and dark chocolate for the top to give it a hit of cocoa but without being too bitter. This recipe is definitely only for those with a sweet tooth. The photo below doesn’t do it justice. Yum!

125g butter
4 tbsp golden syrup
200g digestives, broken into chunks (not crumbs)
100g raisins
3 tbsp cocoa powder
200g milk chocolate
50g dark chocolate

Melt the butter and syrup in a heavy bottomed pan on a low heat. Take off the heat and stir in the cocoa, the raisins, then the biscuits. Press into a square tin. Melt the chocolate and spread over the top. Put in the fridge until just set, then cut into 16 squares and return to the fridge to chill completely.



Perfect for chilly mornings! We’re eating this almost every day at the moment, as it’s my son’s favourite breakfast. It’s quite hard to refuse when he asks for it: “No, you can’t have a warm and wholesome filling breakfast, go and get a bowl of cold processed cereal”….. Really? It’s very easy to make, the only downside is starting the day with a pan to wash up. The quantities below make enough for two adults, or one adult and two small children. Serve plain (as per my daughter), with sugar (as per my son), with golden syrup (my favourite) or anything else you like.

1 mug rolled oats (as big as possible)
1 mug milk
1 mug water

Heat a pan on a low heat and tip the oats in. Stir quickly for about a minute to slightly toast them then add the milk and water. Bring to the boil and reduce the heat so that it gently bubbles and the surface ‘pops’ occasionally. Stir from time to time. It is ready when most of the liquid has been absorbed and the oats are soft – about 5 minutes, but this will vary depending on the oats used. Spoon into bowls and add any toppings whilst hot.



A trial run for next week’s sixth birthday cake… A soft chocolatey sponge that is really easy to make and smells fantastic cooking in the oven. I only did one layer today, to check the recipe and the new cake release spray works but next week it’ll be a proper double-decker sponge. Topping can be almost anything – this time I melted some chocolate and butter and added sprinkles. Just the thing for a rainy Friday!

175g / 6oz caster sugar
175g / 6oz butter
3 medium eggs
175g / 6oz self raising flour
1 teaspoon baking power
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
15 squares chocolate
1 teaspoon butter

Cream the butter and sugar together until smooth and pale. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Sift the flour and baking powder over the mixture and add the vanilla essence. Use a metal spoon to combine, being careful not to knock too much air out of the mixture. Scrape into a prepared 20″ cake tin and bake for about 30 mins at 170 degrees. Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate and butter, mix well and carefully spread over the top of the cake. Decorate with sprinkles and leave to set.



This recipe marks a milestone for me – the first time I have been sought out by a stranger to congratulate me on my baking! In the playground, the day after a school bake sale, nonetheless! Anyway, it’s a simple but effective recipe – normal chewy flapjack with a layer of apple sauce through the middle. One of our five a day, surely??

8 large dessertspoons golden syrup
200g / 8oz butter
330g / 12oz rolled oats
6 dessertspoons apple sauce

Melt the syrup and butter together in a large pan then stir in the rolled oats. If it looks too runny, add more oats – it should be soft and glistening but stay on the spoon when lifted. Press half of the mix into an eight inch square tin. Spoon the apple sauce over the mix and spread (the back of a spoon is effective) to give a thin, even layer. Carefully spoon the rest of the flapjack mix on top, ensuring all the apple is covered and the mix goes right to the ends. Bake at 180 degrees for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and cut into 16 squares then leave to cool a little. Carefully remove the pieces and cool on a wire rack.