Friday, 30 March 2012



“Fish and chips?”


Came the chorus to that well worn question..What’s for supper?

The faces weren’t quite as thrilled when I produced a steaming foil package with fresh mackerel and a dish of homemade chips.

“You said Fish and chips!!” accused someone delightfully.

“It is!” I replied, “Just not the Fish and Chip shop kind.”

“ Err it’s not real fish and chips!!”

Arhh it’s so much more I explained.

For the frugal and health conscious amongst us it’s half the price of its chip shop cousins, and the fresh mackerel, rich in fish oils, is so much more healthy.
No brainer!!

Baked Mackerel and lemon

I know some people don’t like preparing fresh fish but if you get the fishmonger to remove the heads and tails it is much less graphic and easier to deal with!

And the verdict - fine to delicious.

All you need is some aluminium foil, a baking dish   

Mackerel is oily so it is lovely baked in foil with the juice of a lemon and a little pepper. It has a subtle flavour and only takes minutes to prepare.  If placed in a pre heated oven it will only take 20 minutes to bake.

We served it with homemade sweet potato and potato chips.  

Baked mackerel and lemon


Serves 4
Preparation time 5minutes
Cooking time 20 minutes


2 Fresh Mackerel with the head and tail cut off
1 lemon
Small splash of olive oil.
Salt and pepper.


1.     Wash the fish in running cold water.  Place a piece of foil at least twice the size of the baking dish, in the dish then splash a little olive oil onto the foil.

2.      Place the fish in the foil and squeeze half the lemon onto the fish.

3.     Cut the other half lemon into slices and place in and on the fish.

4.     Season with pepper

5.     Pinch the edges of the foil together to seal it leaving air around the fish so it bakes.

6.     Place it in pre heated oven -180 degrees- for 20 minutes.

For fussy eaters bone the fish away from the table!! It’s easy and worth it.

Fish parcel ready to bake

Home made potato and sweet potato chips 



4 Potatoes 1 Sweet potato
splash of olive oil
Salt and pepper to season


If you want to do these quickly microwave the potatoes WITH SKIN ON for about 8 minutes prior to cutting up and fry the potatoes in oil for about 15 minutes. 

If you have a little longer microwave as above, chop into chips, then put in a roasting tin, with oil in the oven for about 35 minutes. 

For 4 people I used 4 potatoes and 1 large sweet potato... 
You know how many you need!!

Before I finish for today I just want to say a


To everyone who follows, stumbled across us, or clicks on occasionally..I have now had over a


Views since starting just over 2 months ago.
I can't believe it and am so pleased.

I would love to hear from you, with your feedback, sign up as a follower.
Hope you enjoy this recipe and
See you soon.

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Banana bread


 I know this is my second cake recipe in as many posts, but I just had to share this with you.  

Anything that gets us eating Spelt flour bread or spelt banana bread is worth a mention. And with this amazing weather we’re eating lots of salad, so I figured we can hang on for savoury inspiration!

The cause of this enthusiasm?

The inspiration?

Sophie Dahl.

The book-

Miss Dahl’s voluptuous delights

Miss Dahl's Voluptuous Delights

 It has a range of seasonal recipes and is visually a beautiful book!!

This might sound superficial but trust me, it’s vital.  

It’s really not rocket science. 
Cook books have to look good. You have to want to eat the food, if it doesn't look appealing- I don’t want to make it- let alone eat it.

This is where Miss Dahl get’s it so right. The food all looks so appealing.

 If I had suggested a healthy banana bread made with whole grain flour I can imagine the reaction!

Bacheldre Watermill Organic Flour

But Sophie makes it (and Jamie likes it- well definitely the bread) so it is suddenly cool.

It’s really great when someone has a positive influence, especially when it involves fussy Teen V’s eating habits – sorry if you are reading this...but I think you will agree with me?!!

Anyway the banana bread is totally delicious, perfect for a spring picnic. In the book Sophie tells how she made it in “the fierce winters of New York” but don’t wait for the winter, it’s delicious in the spring sunshine.


Perfect picnic cake 

 The Spelt gives it a slight crunch and, unlike other recipes, it uses 4 bananas so has substance.


Preparation time under 10 minutes
Cooking time 45 minutes to 1 hour
You need one 1.5 litre bread tin


75g soft butter
4 ripe bananas- mashed
200g soft brown sugar
1 egg beaten
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 tsp bicarbonate soda
1 pinch salt
170g spelt flour

.     Pre heat the oven to 180 degrees. Mash the bananas in a bowl.
2.     Mix the butter, sugar, egg and vanilla extract then add the bananas.
3.     Add the bicarbonate soda, salt and flour and mix well.
4.     Pour into a lined baking tin and bake for about 1 hour.
5.     Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Banana Bread

Sophie recommends serving in slices with butter however I don’t think it needs the butter at all.

Thank you Sophie Dahl!

Friday, 23 March 2012



Is carrot cake one of my 5 a day? I was asked this week.

Good question!!

I have gone through phases of using vegetables in cakes and pies as a sure way to get the 5 a day eaten. With varying is it?

We are repeatedly told that Five Fruit and Veg a day can reduce the risk of some cancers and are vital to a healthy lifestyle.

There are always articles and research that aim to disprove this.  At the same time we hear that our European cousins eat on average 7 portions a day.

 So what should we believe?


Confused? Lots of people are, because get this -despite the huge Ad campaigns of recent years recommending we eat our 5 a day, research shows that here in the UK we barely manage to average 3 day. 

Ooops.. not good... I know sometimes we are guilty of not getting 5 a day, despite my careful planning.

So when I baked a carrot cake this week, which is always popular, someone in the family, who will remain nameless, happily tucked into seconds before asking if that counted as two of their 5 a day.

They would quite happily have had 5 portions of cake had I said yes!!

I explained that as the recipe only has 8 oz of carrots in total I didn’t think you could count it as a whole portion.

This was met with disappointment!

After much deliberation and checking of the recipe it was decided that it must count for a little bit of a portion! How much I’m really not sure!!

So I thought I would post the recipe for you.

Carrot Cake

I first tried it when I was a waitress in a coffee shop in Old Portsmouth. It was run by two lovely ladies, Dorothy and Joan, who baked all the cakes themselves. They called it Passion Cake and certain male clients used to think they were really clever when asking us waitresses for “passion cake” using a variety of tones and emphasis!! Need I say more?

It's just called carrot cake here as I have no idea why or how it got the other name!



Preparation time 5 minutes plus grating time
Cooking time 25minutes at 180 degrees
Cooling time half an hour
You need 2 equal sized cake tins about 7 inches across


8 oz Castor Sugar
8 oz Carrot finely grated
8oz plain flour
6oz oil- sunflower
2 tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp ground ginger
½ tsp ground cinnamon
2 eggs
3 oz chopped walnuts


1.     Beat the eggs and the sugar together.
2.     Add the carrot, walnuts and oil and mix thoroughly
3.     Sieve the flour and stir into the mixture, then add the spices and raising agents.
4.     Divide the mixture into 2 tins

5.     Cook for 25 minutes until a skewer comes out clean

This is delicious with lemon icing but if you are feeling more indulgent try it with a cream cheese topping.



1 oz butter
2oz icing sugar
4oz quark or other low fat cream cheese
3oz soured cream


1.     Cream the butter and icing sugar together
2.     Add the quark or soft cream cheese and combine, then beat in the soured cream.
3.     Beat well then use half to sandwich the cakes together and the rest to decorate the top.  

I have made this as an alternative to Easter Simnel cake as it looks cute decorated with eggs and fluffy chicks!!

I know...How kitch!

I just want to say a big THANK YOU for reading and for your comments it is great hearing from you.

Carrot cake with indulgent cream cheese topping.

Monday, 19 March 2012



Last week, with our roast chicken in the oven stuffed with lemon, garlic and herbs I went to visit my neighbour’s new chickens.

This might sound bad taste, but it was lovely day, and the chickens were running around her garden. How idyllic!!

I was keen to see how much they had grown in the 3 months since they arrived in a box, as tiny chicks you could hold in one hand.    

Chicken explorers!

As you can see they are now fully grown and about to start laying, so I look forward to sampling local fresh eggs! Think of all those omelettes and crème brulees!!


Colourful Chickens

Anyway after admiring the chickens, I then had a quick look round another neighbour’s garden, and returned brimming with new ideas and promises of seedlings.

 What fun... only problem, I hadn’t made anything for Teen V for lunch and neither had she...oops!

I love a roast at the weekend.

The chance to sit down and enjoy a slow leisurely lunch with family and friends.
Plates full of succulent meat, crispy roast potatoes and fresh colourful vegetables.

This all became a bit trickier when Teen V became a vegetarian. I occasionally forget to get anything else non meaty so we have become good at improving, lentil bakes, nut roasts, and stuffed vegetables- (see earlier post on stuffed courgettes).

This was no exception! So we had a rummage in the fridge and came up with the following cannellini bean and red pepper bake. 

It was surprisingly easy to make and delicious to eat, so I thought it a useful recipe for those of you wanting a change from nut roasts and pieces of fish...or if you get side tracked and forget to do anything vege like I did!!

Cannellini bean and red pepper bake

Serves 1

Preparation under 8 minutes
Cooking time 25minutes


½ red pepper in strips
¼ onion
1 clove garlic
2 pinches of dried mixed herbs
150 g cannellini beans (tinned)
50 g mozerellla
3 prunes
2 cherry tomatoes
Slug of olive oil
Grated parmesan


1.     Put  the slug of olive oil in frying pan and fry the pepper, onion and garlic until soft.
2.     Add mixed herbs, tomatoes, beans and prunes and cook for a further 3 minutes.
3.     Chop the mozeralla into chunks and add to the mixture and then put in a small lined loaf tin...I use one of the children’s baking set loaf tins from IKEA!!
4.     Line the tin with grease proof paper and add the mixture. Season with salt and pepper then grate parmesan cheese over the top.
5.     Bake for 20 minutes. Remove from tin and serve with the roast.

Cannellini bean and red pepper bake

Friday, 16 March 2012



“Why haven’t you posted anything this week?” a friend asked recently.

I started to talk through the list of what I’d been up to, how I hadn't cooked anything exciting, just lots of cook once, eat twice supper’s.

She looked rather confused until I explained it involved cooking enough for two different days. Cook once eat twice is always a bonus when you’re busy. 

It’s my ideal type of cooking. 

A little forward planning and you have straight forward, healthy wholesome meat and veggie meals for not much effort. 

The real joy is that you’re not eating exactly the same thing two days in a row.
 That has to be a winner.

This week we’ve used the good old staples, beef mince, and quorn for the Teen Veggie. From this we’ve had spaghetti bolognaise and stuffed courgettes.

With the ingredients below we have feed 4 of us, (3 meat eaters and 1vege) for two days plus left overs.

You can prepare both mince pots simultaneously as it is easy, just keep the pans separate!


Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking 45 minutes


500G mince beef
100g Quorn mince
1 onion ¾ in mince ¼ in veggie
1 red pepper
3 carrots - 2 in mince 1 in veggie
1 Courgette
4 cloves of garlic- 2 for mince 2 for veggie
1 tin tomatoes- you might want an extra 1/2 to make it go further
4 tsp Tomato paste – 2 in mince 2 in veggie
Slug of red wine(optinal)
5 pinches mixed herbs- 3 in mince 2 in veggie
You need two fying pans and two casserole dishes or saucepans


1.     Peel and chop all the vegetables (onion, pepper, carrots, garlic)
2.     Heat a small slug of oil in two frying pans and add the quorn to one and the mince to the other and let brown slightly.
3.     Then add  ¾ of all the veg to the mince and the other ¼ in the smaller pan with the quorn.
4.     Stir the browning meat/quorn until tender and the vegetables are soft.    
5.     Add the wine if using, mixed herbs, and the tomato puree.  Next stir in the tomatoes then transfer into the casserole dishes and let simmer for 45 minutes.

All you need to do is cook up some spaghetti and serve.



Stuffed courgettes

Preparation time 5 minutes
Cooking time 1 hour at 170 degrees

4 courgettes
Mince and quorn already cooked as above
40g bread crumbs
1 packet of Mozzarella
Salt and pepper
Grated parmesan to serve
You need 2 oven proof dishes.

1.     Preheat the oven to 170degrees. Slice the courgettes length wise and scrape the insides out with a teaspoon about 1cm deep.
2.     Lay the courgettes in the dishes..2 halves in one small dish the other 3 halves in a larger dish.
3.     Spoon the quorn mixture and mince mixture into and around the courgettes and then sprinkle with the bread crumbs
4.     Chop up the mozzarella and scatter over the breadcrumbs and season with salt and pepper.
5.     Cover with aluminium foil and place in the oven for one hour.

Courgettes stuffed with Quorn
When cooked grate parmesan over the dishes and enjoy.