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Valentine Cupcakes are Best Love Buns

In another time I'd have been satisfied with calling these Valentine's Day Cupcakes but, as the saying goes, if you're going to get wet, you may as well go swimming. (These are love buns)

for the cupcakes (buns)

  • 9 tablespoons soft butter
  • โ…” cup superfine sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 - 3 tablespoons milk

for the topping

  • 2 large egg whites
  • ½ cup golden syrup or light corn syrup
  • ½ cup superfine sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 packet heart-shaped sprinkles (to decorate)


  1. Take everything you need out of the fridge in time to bring to room temperature - this makes a huge difference to the lightness of the love buns later - and preheat the oven to gas mark 6/200°C/400ºF.
  2. Put all of the ingredients for the buns, except for the milk, into a food processor and blitz until smooth. Pulse while adding the milk down the funnel, to make a smooth dropping consistency.
  3. Divide the mixture into a 12-bun muffin tin lined with muffin papers or heart-patterned cases, and bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes. They should have risen and be golden on top; you want a little peak if possible.
  4. Let them cool a little in their tin on a rack, and then take them carefully out of the tin to cool in their papers, still on the wire rack.
  5. Now for the topping. Here there is a slight dilemma, as you'll make more than you need for the 12 buns, but if you halve the quantities, you won't have quite enough. If you're making these for you and your one true love, then I presume you won't need all 12 of them, in which case you could freeze most of the buns to be iced and eaten at some later date, and halve the topping ingredients to decorate the few you want today.
  6. This is a topping that has a kind of meringue base, by which you whisk egg whites over heat until they're stiff and gleaming. Think Mr Whippy. So make a doubleboiler with a bowl that will fit snugly over a saucepan of barely simmering water, and put all of the ingredients for the icing, except for the vanilla and sprinkles, into the bowl. Whisk everything with an electric beater until the icing becomes thick and holds peaks like a meringue. This will take about 5 minutes, so be patient.
  7. Take the bowl off the saucepan and on to a cool surface and keep whisking while you add the vanilla. Then keep whisking until the mixture cools a little. You want a proper peaked and whipped covering here, so spoon some icing over each bun, and then dollop another spoonful over in a swirly fashion. Immediately shake over your choice of sprinkles, as the icing will set very quickly. Indeed, these look rather like stage prop buns or the fake ones that some bakeries used to keep in their windows, so plasticky and gleaming are they.



  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 1   chicken breast (skinless or chicken supreme)
  • approx. 5 oz trimmed kale
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil (not extra virgin)
  • 4 oz chorizo (sliced then chopped)
  • 1 x 15 oz tin cannellini beans (drained)
  • 1 sprinkling of smoked sweet paprika

Chocolate Chip Cookies Always in Season

Along with chocolate, there is much comfort to be gleaned from reading cookbooks. This recipe combines two loves by being chocolatey to the point of madness and having revealed itself to me after a cosy, snuggled-down read of Elinor Klivans' glorious Big Fat Cookies. What I do is make up the full batch of these (hard to divide it really, since it contains only 1 egg) and form all 12 cookies, but bake only half and freeze the other half. I freeze them on a little tray and, once they're hard, I bung them in a freezer bag, seal it and stash it back in the freeze, to bake them unthawed at a later date. That way, I've got 6 chocolate cookies to keep me and my family happy without any time or effort.

This is what I call an investment. And it's worth it - these are the chocolatiest cookies you will ever come across.


  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa (sieved)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick soft unsalted butter
  • ½ cup soft light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg (cold from the fridge)
  • 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (or semi sweet chocolate morsels)


Recipe Courtesy


Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Mushrooms Just Right

This is one of my proudest creations and, I suppose, a good example of a recipe that isn't originally from Italy, but sits uncontroversially in her culinary canon. I don't think it would be too presumptuous to namethis linguine ai funghi crudi. It is about as speedy as you can imagine: you do no more to the mushrooms than slice them, steep them in oil, garlic, lemon and thyme and toss them into the hot cooked pasta.
If all you can find is regular button mushrooms, this pasta is still worth making - so no excuses.
Serves: 4­-6


1. Slice the mushrooms finely, and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest,


7.94 oz cremini mushrooms
โ…“ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon sea salt flakes (or 1½ teaspoons table salt)
1 small clove garlic (crushed)
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 sprigs fresh thyme (leaves stripped off)
1 lb linguine
1 bunch fresh parsley (chopped)
2 - 3 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese (or to taste)


1. Slice the mushrooms finely, and put in a large bowl with the oil, salt, crushed garlic, lemon juice and zest, freshly ground black pepperand marvellously scented thyme leaves.
2. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions and drain loosely, retaining some water. Quickly put the
drained pasta into the bowl with the mushroom mixture.
3. Toss everything together well, then add the chopped parsley, grated cheese and pepper to taste, before
tossing again, and eat with joy in your heart.
Additional information - for vegetarians replace the Parmesan with vegetarian alternativ


Recipe Courtesy


Mini-Meatloaf Perfect for Lunch

These mini meatloves are best eaten cold, either dunked in mayo, ketchup, brown sauce or mustard, or sliced up and made into sandwiches with the whole fandango of sauces. I sometimes add lingonberry sauce to the mix too. Throw in a gherkin and some pickles and this is lunch nirvana. Don't forget the napkins though.


  • 1 lb sausagemeat
  • 1 lb ground beef
  • 1 cup quick-cooking oats
  • โ…“ cup steak sauce (such as a1 sauce)
  • 2 large eggs (beaten)
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes (or ½ teaspoon table salt)