Caramel Coated Popcorn

My mum gave Graham a popcorn maker for Christmas, the year before last. It is one of those gadgets that are put in a cupboard and forgotten. We always meant to get around to using it, but needless to say, we never did.

Last week, I bought a bag of popcorn kernels, thinking they would be good as a low fat snack and they would, but Friday night was movie night and I had some cream sitting in the fridge, which needed to be used up. Caramel coated popcorn sounded just the thing, so the popcorn maker was dragged out of it's hiding place in the cupboard. After a swift reading of the instructions, I quickly made some caramel sauce and then added some kernels to the machine and switched it on. Armed with a bowl underneath the spout I stood and waited in rapt anticipation and it didn't disappoint! It was great! Popcorn started shooting out. Most of it made it into the bowl, but some of it pinged around the kitchen. I was killing myself laughing at this point, but had enough sense to change bowls when the first one was near to overflowing!

We drizzled some of the warm caramel sauce over our popcorn and sat down to watch the French film Le Picard/The Closet, a very funny film starring Daniel Auteuil and GĂ©rard Depardieu.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup caster sugar
3 tbsp water
½ cup double cream
50g/½ stick/8 tbsp butter

Add the sugar and water to a pan and warm up over a medium heat until the sugar has dissolved. Turn up the heat until the syrup starts to bubble and leave bubbling for 5 minutes or so until it has thickened. Take the syrup off the heat and add the butter. Allow to melt, then stir in the cream. Leave the caramel to cool a little before pouring into a clean jam jar. Once cool, store in the fridge, until required.

Squash, Carrot & Noodle Soup

This is one of our favourite soups. The combination of peanut butter, chilli and ginger give this soup a wonderful rich flavour and adding noodles turns this into a really filling meal in a bowl. Move over pot noodle. There's a new boy in town!

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Squash, Carrot & Noodle Soup
A really satisfying soup that is full of flavours and textures. A real winner.
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 stalks of celery, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • ½ butternut squash, chopped
  • ½ tsp chilli powder
  • ½ tsp ground turmeric
  • 4 tbsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 4 cups/2 pints vegetable stock
  • 200g soft noodles
  • 1 large handful fresh coriander, chopped
  • 1 large handful roasted peanuts
  • a good grinding of salt & freshly ground pepper
1. Gently saute the onion, garlic and ginger in the olive oil.2. Add the celery and carrots and cook for a few minutes. 3. Add the squash and cook for another few minutes.4. Stir in the chilli powder, turmeric and peanut butter. Pour in the vegetables stock and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered for 30 minutes.5. Add the noodles and cook for a few more minutes before seasoning and adding the coriander. 6. Serve topped with a sprinkling of roasted peanuts.
Total time:
Yield: Serves 4-6 


Apple, Pear & Passion Fruit Chutney

I have the preserving pan out again! I really do like giving friends food gifts at Christmas. I think it is very much a 'feel good' thing to do! You would think this would mean that I spend less money, but no, I am not that wise and still end up buying presents as well. It is an expensive time, *sigh* and it really shouldn't be should it?

I wanted to make an apple and pear chutney this time and decided to add passion fruit as an experiment. The little jewel-like seeds didn't soften as I supposed they might, but added a little bit of crunch. I was quited surprised! Luckily they do add to the overall flavour.

Apple, Pear & Passion Fruit Chutney

3 cooking apples, peeled and chopped
1 large pear, peeled and chopped
2 passion fruit, halved and scooped out
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cups malt vinegar
1 tsp salt
1 cup demerara sugar
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
12 dates, stoned and chopped
1 cup raisins
1 tbsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp cinnamon

Place the pear, apples, passion fruit, onion, salt and vinegar in a large pan and bring to the boil. Add all the other ingredients, bring back to the boil and then simmer for approximately 40 mins until the chutney has thickened, stirring occasionally.

Decant into sterilised jam jars.

Store in a cool, dark place for a couple of months to mature. This chutney will keep for up to a year, in that cool place, but once opened keep in the fridge.

Lemon Curd with Nutmeg

I have been wanting to make curd for a while now, but just never got around to it.

Then I saw a microwave recipe that included nutmeg and I thought, that is the one for me. I have adjusted the quantities and passed on making it in the microwave, which is just not for me at all. My microwave is probably way under used.

It heats beans and soup and occasionally bakes a potato, but that is about it. So, anyway here is the recipe. I hope you give it a try.

Lemon Curd with Nutmeg

1½ cups caster sugar
finely grated peel of 4 lemons
juice of 4 lemons
100g butter, diced
4 large eggs
1 fresh nutmeg

Place the sugar, peel and juice in a pan and heat until the sugar has dissolved. Add the butter and stir until the butter has melted.

In a bowl, whisk up the eggs and then gradually beat the eggs into the lemon mixture. Whisk the mixture until it thickens. It will be ready when the curd is thick and glossy, this takes about 30 minutes. Towards the end of cooking, finely grate some fresh nutmeg into the curd. Taste the curd to judge how much you want to add.

Sieve the mixture into a 1lb sterilised jam jar. Yes, this is all it makes, but it is deliciously unctuous!

This will keep in the fridge for up to six weeks.


Banana & Raisin Bread

This is a dense and moist banana bread, filled with spices and fruit. The perfect way to use up those bananas that are ripening quicker than you can eat them.

Banana & Raisin Bread

2½ cups self raising flour
100g butter, softened and cubed
1 cup demerara sugar
3 bananas, mashed up
1 pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp mixed spice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1½ cups raisins

Heat the oven to 180c/350f/gas 4, then line a loaf tin.

Sieve the flour into the bowl and then add all the other ingredients execpt for the raisins. Mix gently and then pour mixture into a food processor and whisk until pale and creamy. Pour back into your bowl and fold in the raisins. Pour the mixture into your prepared loaf tin and place in the oven for approxiamately 1 hour and 15 mins until a skewer comes out of the loaf clean. Allow the loaf to cool for a while in the tin before moving to a wire rack.

Serve warm and buttered and don't worry about the calories!

Hey, it's mostly fruit, isn't it?

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