Archives for category: Savoury light bites

Super easy, super good. Best cooked on the barbecue, but at this time of year in the UK, the oven is probably a better bet. This is the best all round, guaranteed to be liked by everyone, marinade I have found: sticky, a bit sweet, but not too cloying. I think it tastes like it could be a home made marinade but without any hassle and under £2 a bottle.

Chicken drumsticks
Sainsburys Taste the Difference BBQ & Brown Ale marinade (one bottle is sufficient for 20-30 drumsticks)

Put the drumsticks into a large bowl or – even easier and less messy – a large strong freezer bag. Cover in marinade and stir or shake to ensure all pieces are covered. Leave in the fridge overnight. Remove from the fridge 30 mins before cooking. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Tip drumsticks into a large oven proof dish or tin – ideally big enough to cook the drumsticks in a single layer. Cook, uncovered, for about 25 mins, basting and turning at least once. Either serve immediately, or leave to cool completely before putting in the fridge.




These are really easy to make finger food, and add some nice festive colour too. Classic combination of mozzarella, tomato and basil in one easy mouthful. Choose the largest basil leaves you can find and use plum cherry tomatoes if possible. I’d normally drizzle this sort of food with olive oil and / or balsamic vinegar, but this would make them rather messy to eat, and I hate finger food that’s tricky or messy to eat in public. Make do with a liberal twist of sea salt and black pepper or leave plain.

1 ball of mozzarella
6 cherry tomatoes, halved lengthways
12 large basil leaves
12 small skewers

Tear the mozzarella into 12 small chunks. Take a basil leaf, tuck a chunk of mozzarella at one end, tuck a piece of tomato (cut side against the cheese) at the other. Hold between your thumb and ring or middle finger (depending how big your hands are) and carefully push the skewer through, being careful to catch the basil at both ends but not to tear it).



I made this for the first time earlier this week for dinner with friends. Wow – it was good! Easy to do (well, lining the tin is a bit fiddly, but the actual cooking isn’t), though it has to be made well in advance – start it two days before needed. If we weren’t having pork for Christmas, this would definitely be on the menu, especially as it keeps well too. I found the recipe on the BBC Good Food website here

400g pork fillet
2 cloves of garlic
5 sprigs fresh thyme
2 tbsp whisky
12 good quality sausages
250g unsalted pistachios in shells / 100g unsalted pistachios
8 ready to eat dried apricots
1 1/2 packs smoked, rindless streaky bacon
Salt and pepper
Butter for greasing

Dice the pork fillet, removing any fat or sinewy bits. Crush the garlic and put in a large bowl with the pork, thyme and whisky. Cover with cling film and leave in the fridge overnight to marinade. The next day, slit open the sausages (I use scissors to do this) and put the meat into the bowl with the other pork. Shell and add the pistachios, season well and mix thoroughly. Prepare a 1 lb loaf tin by lightly buttering it, placing the remaining sprigs of thyme along the bottom and lining it with streaky bacon. Take your time on this bit, ensuring that the rashers overlap and there are no gaps. The ends are tricky – use more rashers and press well to get it to stick. Spoon half of the meat into the tin and press down well. Arrange the apricots in a line down the middle, then add the rest of meat. Press down well then cover the top with more rashers of bacon lengthways and then tuck the ends of the rashers lining the tin over the top. Ensure that there are no gaps. Cover with a piece of buttered foil (butter side down!) and place the tin in a large roasting tin then half fill with boiling water. Cook in the middle of the oven for about an hour at 180 degrees.

Allow to cool then place in the fridge with a piece of cardboard and some tins on the top to press it down. Leave overnight. To remove from the tin, dip it briefly in boiling water (not too long as I did, or the butter and jelly all melts and seeps out!) then turn onto a serving board. Slice as required – these quantities make a terrine that will easily serve 12 or more. Serve with cornichons, chutney and crusty bread.



Everyone knows how to make scrambled eggs, right? Wrong! I have given up on getting decent eggs in any caff or restaurant. I think it’s because they have to be served immediately that they don’t lend themselves to eating out. And don’t get me started on the stuff that lurks on under dreaded breakfast buffet covers… I’m making this about three times a week at the moment, as it’s my daughter’s favourite lunch, and I can’t complain given that a) I love them too; no-one else in my house likes them, so I rarely bother just for one (it’s the washing up more than the making); and it’s a cheap and nutritious and very very quick meal. Has to be served with hot buttered toast – but if it’s a toss up between having piping hot toast or piping hot eggs (eg if you’re cooking on your own), choose the eggs every time. Add bacon, sausages and black pudding for a proper breakfast.

Eggs – allow about 1.5 eggs per person
Dash of milk
Knob of butter
Salt and pepper


Break the eggs into a small bowl, add a good grating of pepper and a dash of milk and beat briskly with a fork until smooth and slightly bubbly around the edges. Heat the butter in a non-stick frying pan on a medium heat. When the butter is melted whisk the eggs again (this is the trick to really light and fluffy eggs) then pour into the pan. Now stir, stir, stir and don’t stop stirring for anything. Pay particular attention to the edges, but keep all the mixture moving around the pan until it thickens. When it is nearly as cooked as you like it…STOP! Take the pan off the heat immediately and serve – the eggs will carry on cooking for a bit longer and thicken further. Season to taste.



This is the first time I’ve put squash in a pie, but it made a very interesting supper and was pretty good cold the next day too. A Nigel Slater recipe from his current TV series, we had this with a salad of baby spinach, grilled halloumi and toasted pumpkin seeds with a damson vinegar dressing. Delicious!

1 small butternut squash, peeled and cubed
1/3 pack ready made puff pastry
1 tsp cinnamon
Flour to roll out
Egg or milk to glaze

Steam the squash until it is soft. Drain well then tip into an ovenproof dish, add the butter and cinnamon and mash with a fork. Bake at 180 degrees for about 20 mins. Meanwhile, roll the pastry into two squares, about 10″x10″. Pile the squash into the middle of one of the squares (on a greased baking tray) then lay the other sheet on top. Firmly crimp the edges, cut a couple of slits in the top, then brush with the egg or milk. Bake for a further 20 mins – or until golden brown – at 180 degrees. Serve in large wedges with a crisp side salad.



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.



What to make for my son’s school Harvest bake sale? And at short notice too… Little hedgehog rolls!

Bread dough – enough for a 1lb loaf (I used Wright’s premium white bread mix – see blog of 19th Sept 2011 for details)
16 raisins

Make the dough and allow to rise for the first time in a large ball. Once it has risen, cut into wedge shaped eighths. Put each of these onto a greased baking tray, leaving a good distance between them to allow for them to rise further. Shape them into hoglets by rounding their bottoms and lengthening and flattening their faces. Put two raisins on each to make eyes and push in well. Using scissors, snip their backs to make prickles – go deeper than you think so that they are still there after rising and baking. Cover with a damp tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise. When they have doubled in size, bake in a hot oven (230 degrees) for about 15 minutes or until golden brown and sound hollow when tapped underneath. Leave on a cooling rack for as long as you can before eating…