Saturday, 23 April 2011

Mini Egg Treasure Hunt

Forget running around the garden hiding eggs, just pop them in your cupcakes. These Easter cakes the yummy answer to the Easter egg treasure hunt.

Serves 24
125g unsalted butter, softened
125g caster sugar
125g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
2 medium eggs
2 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 packet Cadbury's Mini Eggs

For the Frosting:
50g unsalted butter, softened
100g chocolate, melted
300g icing sugar
3 tbsp Milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Let's get making:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C or Gas Mark 5.
  2. Beat the butter in a large bowl until it is softened. Add the sugar, flour, salt, eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Spoon the mixture into the cases, and then press one Mini Egg into the centre.
  4. Place muffin tin in the oven and bake for 12-15 minutes, until cupcakes are a light golden colour.
  5. Remove the tins from the oven. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.
To make the frosting:

1. In a large bowl beat the butter until it is fluffy. Beat in the melted chocolate. Gradually add half of the icing sugar, stirring first (to prevent it going all over the counter, and you) and then beat until well combined.
2. Slowly beat in the milk and the vanilla. Then add the remaining icing sugar. Beat in more milk, if needed.

Pipe the icing onto the cakes, when cooled and then top with a Mini Egg.

And there you have an Easter egg treasure hunt on a plate!

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Sunshine in a Scone

Scones are the perfect tea time treat; especially when taken just out of the oven, and enjoyed in the evening sunshine. And for an extra summertime treat, these scones have a hint of lemon (as we all know that everything lemony tastes better when the sun is shining).


225g self raising flour
pinch of salt
55g butter
25g caster sugar
140ml milk
Peel and juice of one lemon
1 egg beaten

Let's get making:  

1. Heat the oven to 220C/gas mark 7.
2. Lightly grease a baking sheet.
3. Mix together the flour and salt and rub in the butter.
4. Stir in the sugar, lemon peel and juice, and then the milk to get a soft dough.
5. Turn on to a floured work surface and knead very lightly. Pat out to a round 2cm/¾in thick. Use a 5cm/2in cutter to stamp out rounds and place on a baking sheet. Lightly knead together the rest of the dough and stamp out more scones to use it all up.
6. Brush the tops of the scones with the beaten egg. Bake for 12-15 minutes until well risen and golden.

Put the kettle on, brew a pot and enjoy your scones with clotted cream and blueberry jam. (Or lemon curd, for the real lemon lovers).

If Popeye came to your BBQ...

...he'd probably bring this.

With the sun shining it's time to dust off the barbecue, pop your shades on and enjoy the bank holiday weekend. But if you're bored of the usual BBQ nosh, this salad is the perfect solution, and is a little bit fruity!

Popeye and Olive Oil Salad
Serves 8


500g spinach
1 punnet of strawberries, sliced (keep a few aside for the final touches)
 4tbsp pecans, toasted
100g blue cheese, crumbled


40ml raspberry red wine vinegar
3tbsp sugar 
1 teaspoon dry mustard
90ml cup olive oil
2 teaspoons poppy seeds

Let's get making
1.Toast pecans over low heat and then set aside to cool. 
2. Toss the pecans, strawberries and spinach together in a large serving bowl.
3. Combine dressing ingredients and shake well. Pour over salad.
4. Toss again and then add the crumbled blue cheese. Finish off by garnishing with a few sliced strawberries.

Now all you have to do is slap on some factor 30 (eating strawberries is great, looking like one, not so great) and put a few steaks on the barbie. Oh and don't forget the beer. Strawberry beer, of course.

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Hair Raising Weekend?

With the long weekend approaching and cause for celebration very soon (whether you are celebrating the Royal Wedding or just a paid day off), the chances are at some point you will wake up with a head that feels like it has been through your hand whisk.

The cure? More drink of course!

Hair of the Dog

What's the poison:

40ml Scotch whisky
50ml single cream
3 tsp honey

Pour all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with crushed ice. Shake-with as much effort as you can muster in your hungover state. Strain into a Martini glass. Repeat as needed throughout the weekend.

Sweet and Saucy

They say a picture says a thousand words, so I'll let these prints from PeaPress do the talking.

A3 Print -  Golden SyrupA3 Print -  Golden SyrupA3 Print -  Golden Syrup

A3 Print - Patisserie

A3 Print  - Tommy KA3 Print  - Tommy KA3 Print  - Tommy K

Macaroons - Small PrintTime For Tea -  Large CardSpank Me - Small Print

But if I had to say something, it would be, yes please!
These original prints are such a fun and funky way to inject some colour into the kitchen and for under £10 each, you can treat your eyes whilst whisking up a treat for your belly. 

Monday, 18 April 2011

Blue Denim Cupcakes

I love Red Velvet cupcakes. They taste divine and look amazing; red cakes-genius!
Blue Denim cupcakes are my own little creations, my ode to the Red Velvet if you like. They are essential a
white chocolate cupcake that have had a stone wash and topped with cream cheese frosting.


250g unsalted butter, softened
250g caster sugar
250g self raising flour
Pinch of salt
4 medium eggs
4tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g white chocolate, melted
1 tbsp blue food colouring

Let's get making:

  1. Preheat oven to 190°C or Gas Mark 5.
  2. Beat the butter in a large bowl until it is softened. Add the sugar, flour, salt, eggs, milk and vanilla and whisk until the mixture is smooth.
  3. Fold in the melted chocolate and food colouring
  4. Spoon the mixture into the cases.
  5. Place muffin tin in the oven and bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly golden on top.
  6. Remove the tins from the oven. Leave the cupcakes to cool in the tins for a few minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to cool.

Whilst your blue cupcakes are cooling, you can make the cream cheese frosting. For this you will need:
125g cream cheese
250g icing sugar
90g unsalted butter, softened
1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 lemon, juice only

Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix until combined. Store in the fridge until the cupcakes are ready to be frosted.

 And there you have it, the Blue Denim Cupcake...

Each Poach Pear Plum

Poached pears are a yummy summer dessert and they must be good for you, it's only fruit! (Cooked in a rather sugary liquid but I won't tell if you don't.)
Each time I make this, I use a different fruit juice (mostly because I can't remember which one I used the last time), but the berry ones are the best. Those rich in colour are great as they dye the pears as they cook, making them a treat for the eye as well as the belly.

Serves 4

4 pears, peeled
4 plums
600ml fruit juice
400ml water
1tsp vanilla essence
1 cinnamon stick

1. Boil the fruit juice and water in a pan, add the vanilla essence and cinnamon stick.
2. Turn down to simmer and then add the pears and plums. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.
3. Remove from the heat and allow to cool in the liquid.
4. Serve with natural yogurt, ice-cream or double cream. For an extra treat, top with dark chocolate sauce.

With the remaining juice in the pan, add some sugar, a splash of white wine and simmer down to make a lovely sauce to accompany your fruity feast.

The LBD of Cooking

There are some things you can pull off that will never fail to impress, just like your favourite LBD, and this sauce has to be one of them. Perfect with ice cream, poached pears, chocolate cake (just in case it isn't chocolatey enough already for you) or even just for dipping marshmallows in.


250 ml water
100 g sugar
160 g light corn syrup
75 g unsweetened cocoa powder
55 g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Let's get making:

1. In a medium saucepan, whisk together the water, sugar, corn syrup, and cocoa powder.

2. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once it’s just begun to simmer and boil, remove from heat and stir in the chopped chocolate until melted.

Although it might be tempting to delve straight in, it is best to allow the sauce to stand for a while and thicken.

Are You Being Served?

With this great serving board, you needn't worry about that, you can serve yourself. And do it in great style.

Handmade from Appalachian wild black cherry, these unique and beautifully crafted serving boards are available from AppalachianJoiner's etsy store.

This would make a great gift for newlyweds, perfect for sharing a sushi dinner with a friend, or could be hung on the wall for that rustic look, when not being used.

A fabulous minimalistic way of serving up style. (And saving on the washing up.)

Nuts About Nutella

Apparently, spooning Nutella straight out of the jar isn't the only way of eating it. (Although it works for me.)
In Nick Sandler & Jonny Actons book, the Branded Cookbook they explore different recipes using everyday, branded ingredients-Nutella being one of the.

Nutella Truffles is my favourite nutty, chocolatey recipe from the book. (If it is possible to have a favourite-they all use Nutella, after all!) I love this recipe because it is simple, a little bit messy and in hardly any time at all, you have your very own treats similar to those fit for an ambassador.


4 ice-cream wafers
2 tbsp almonds
3tbsp whole blanched hazelnuts
2 tbsp Nutella

Lets get making:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/gas mark 4
2. Crumble the ice-cream wafers with your fingers until they are the size of large breadcrumbs.
3. Bake the almonds and hazelnuts in the oven for about 8 minutes and then let them cool. Remove 12 of the whole hazelnuts for later on. Process the remaining nuts in a food processor until finely ground.
4. In a bowl, mix the ground almonds and hazelnuts and half the crumbled ice-cream wafers with the Nutella. (Put the remaining crumbled wafers in a small bowl.)
5. Using a teaspoon, pick up a blob of the truffle chocolate and press in a whole hazelnut until it has disappeared into the chocolatey abyss. Then place in the bowl of wafer crumbs and roll around until it is coated with an even layer. Repeat again and again until you are left with around 12 truffles.
6. Store the truffles in the fridge. They should keep for a few weeks in an airtight container. Not that I have tested this, mine didn't last that long.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Faking It

I am yet to use silicone moulds in my baking, but my mum swears by them. And mums know best. So I have decided to have a look at what the silicone world has to offer. There is some fab stuff out there.

Take these TeaCupCakes from StrawberryFool.

The set contains 4 reusable baking cups and saucers so you can impress your friends, with the presentation of their cupcake, when having tea parties...if you have tea parties. If not, then here is a perfect excuse to start having them.

A perfect recipe to bake in these would be Earl Grey Tea Cakes.

This recipe is taken from


Butter for greasing
2 Earl Grey tea bags
60ml (1/4 cup) boiling water
80ml (1/3 cup) milk
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 eggs
160g (2/3 cup) caster sugar
190g (1 1/4 cups) self-raising flour
230g (1 1/2 cups) pure icing sugar
1.5 tbsp breakfast marmalade
1.5 tbsp fresh orange juice (approx)

Let's get making:
1. Preheat oven to 180C
2. Brush 12 medium muffin pans with melted butter to lightly grease.
3. Empty the tea leaves from the tea bags into a cup and add the boiling water.
4. Set aside for 3 minutes
5. Stir in the milk and then transfer to a large bowl. Add the butter, eggs, sugar and flour to the tea mixture
6. Use electric beaters on low speed to beat until just combined. Increase speed to medium and beat until the mixture is pale and creamy (the mixture may look slightly curdled)
7. Spoon the mixture evenly into the greased pans. (Or TeaCupCakes, if you have them.)
8. Bake in a preheated oven for 20-22 minutes or until golden and a skewer inserted in the cakes comes out clean.
9. Remove from the oven and set aside for 2-3 minutes before turning onto a wire rack to cool.

To make the marmalade icing...

1. Combine the icing sugar and marmalade in a small bowl.
2.  Add enough juice to make a very thick past
3.  Use a teaspoon dipped in hot water to spread the icing over the tops of the cooled cakes
4. Set aside for 15-20 minutes to allow the icing to set

And now you can enjoy with a cup of tea.

Egg-tremly Expensive

I love chocolate, who doesn't, but do I love it enough to spend £49.99 on an Easter egg? Probably not. Do I love anyone else enough to buy them a £49.99 Easter egg? Certainly not. (If anyone would have it, it would be me. However, I'm not sure I can justify spending that much on a few indulgent moments.)

But if you can, pop into Selfridges and pick up your Gianduja chocolate egg. This luxury egg from Baratti & Milano, is made from Gianduja chocolate and the inside is layered with over 200 whole hazelnuts. (I think I would also like to find a little gold nugget inside for that price.)

A more reasonably priced egg, if you want luxury, is the Marc de Champagne egg. For a less jaw-dropping, £18.99 you get an egg made from the finest milk chocolate and it is filled with marc de champagne truffles. Yes, it's still a little pricey for an Easter egg but it contains three of a girls favourite things: chocolate, champagne and truffles. And if you're going to eat lots of chocolate this coming weekend, you might as well as make it the best.

And as for Fortnum and Masion's £85.00 egg, they can't be serious. I can only imagine that anyone buying one of these would either have to be the biggest chocolate lover in the world, or have a brain like the inside of a Cadbury's Cream Egg.
Hmmmm...Cadbury's Cream Eggs-sometimes the simplest things are the best.

Easy Wok

Thanks to my careful observational skills, whilst a friend was cooking dinner for me, I managed to make a mental note of the cooking process (and ensured he wasn't trying to poison me), for this simple yet tasty meal. It requires hardly any preparation and the cooking time is only about 15-20 minutes. Which all makes for the perfect recipe and leaves more time for the more important things in life, like actually eating it.


Serves 2

1tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
1 courgette, sliced
1 sweet red pepper, sliced
2 chicken breast fillets, sliced
1 head of broccoli, florets sliced in half
2 tbsp Soy Sauce
3 tbsp oyster sauce
Chinese Spices (Schwartz's Chinese 5 Spice is a good mix)
Dried egg noodles

Let's get making:

1. Saute the onion, courgette and red pepper in a wok.
2. Add the chicken and cook until browned.
3. Stir in soy sauce, oyster sauce and Chinese spice. Add the broccoli florets and cover to steam for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.
4. In a pan of boiling water, cook the dried egg noodles, following packet instructions (usually 4 minutes) and then drain.
5. Mix the chicken and vegetables with the noodles and serve.

It really is that easy!

Fancy a Coffee?

This well known coffee shop chain started in America, in 1971, and now Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world. There are now hundreds dotted all over the country and within London, you only have to walk walk a matter of metres after leaving one Starbucks, before stumbling upon another. (Unless you really want one and then, puff, they all seem to have disappeared.)
There are some people who hate the corporation and others who are literally obsessed with it. One man, Rafael Antonio Lozano Jr (or Winter, as he has called himself) has set himself the goal to drink a cup of coffee in every Starbucks store, in the world! That is a latte coffee!

Of all the coffee shop chains, I have to say, Starbucks is my number one. (Although I do sometimes cheat on Starbucks for a Posh Cheddar at Pret, shhhh don't tell.)

One of my favourite things to do is to go to one of my favourite Starbucks, sit, listen, watch the world go by and do a little bit of writing.

And where will you find me doing such a thing?

On the Southbank, just next to the Globe, tucked off of the main walk way is a Starbucks, and from the window St Paul's dominates the view. It is a nice place to sit and watch the world go by but not the best for eavesdropping. Unless of course you are multi lingual, unlike myself, and can understand the languages of the visiting tourists.

Or I might be at St Katherine's Docks.

At one time the Docklands were one of the world's busiest ports, now it is one of the most expensive dock developments.  Amongst the yachts and million pound pads you will find this little gem.

I love it because it is unlike any other Starbucks I have been to, from it's architecture to it's surroundings. The building itself was originally opened by Elizabeth II as an all-faith chapel, but now is a haven for all types of coffee lovers.

On a summer's day it is gorgeous, sitting outside by the still dock, somewhat hidden away from the chaos of Tower Bridge and the milling tourists.
It isn't the largest of coffee houses, there are limited tables inside and you can end up sitting rather close to the people at the table next to you, but I love it all the the closer you are, the easier it is to eavesdrop.

Cupcake Heaven

If you love cupcakes, you will love the Hummingbird Bakery. And I love cupcakes so this weekend I made the journey to Notting Hill to get me a little sweet treat.
The Hummingbird Bakery has been in Portobello road since 2004 and is the perfect place to buy freshly made, beautifully decorated cakes. Of course there is a wonderful selection of cupcakes but as well as these little yummy treats, the bakery also makes and sells a variety of layer cakes and American pies.
With the cakes made in store, the aroma as you walk in is just divine and the staff were friendly and patient even though they were very busy. (As expected; they do have shelves full of tasty treasure after all.)

As well as this bakery in Notting Hill, there are also branches in South Kensington, with a red velvet seating area and another in Soho which displays cupcake pop art. Both sound like a great place to visit and I now have perfect excuse to buy a few more scrumptious cakes.

With my Red Velvet bought, I escaped the hustle and bustle of Portobello Market and made my way to Green Park to enjoy the rewards of my journey. (I took great care on the tube and held my little box very close to my chest, looking slightly strange perhaps but I wasn't taking any chances.)

I took my first bite and was pleased to know that the Red Velvets I made at home a few months ago tasted just as they should. Absolutely heavenly. And until I am able to get back to one of these little sugary sanctuaries, I can rest assured knowing that with my Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook I can have a little bit of Hummingbird heaven whenever my heart (and belly) desires.