Linguine alla Genovese

ASK Italian (the Italian high street chain) has published an exclusive cookbook in collaboration with the Great Ormond Street Hospital to raise funds for the hospital.

The cookbook features the restaurant’s most popular dishes and anecdotes from their celebrity friends, including Dame Helen Mirren, Gino D’Campo and Claudia Winkleman. The book is filled with authentic Italian recipes to cook at home from hand-made pasta to perfect risottos and indulgent desserts.

The cookbook can be bought from book shops, online and in ASK restaurants. The RRP is £15, but if you buy it from one of the restaurants, the price is only £10 and £4 of that will go straight to the charity.

The aim is to raise £1 million for the hospital. Such a worthy cause!

It's a very appealing book. Lots of tasty Italian recipes teamed up with mouth-watering photos.


Strawberry Spinach Booster

I am always thinking up new smoothie recipes and ways to pack then with nutrients. I have been thinking about using quinoa in smoothies for a while now. Quinoa is known as a superfood, so it seemed an ideal smoothie ingredient.


Quinoa - The Mother Grain

Quinoa (keen-wah). 

I usually make salads with it, but I have started dry grinding it in my Vitamix dry blade jug and adding the fine powder to smoothies and porridge. My next project is to make bread with it.

I love it, even the sound of it and I am trying to incorporate it into more meals. It is known as a superfood and if you read on you will find out why.


Warm Ribbon Courgette & Potato Salad with Pesto

I saw Nigel Slater making a similar dish to this and tucked it away in my head to make sometime. Nigel didn't add potatoes to his, but as we were eating it as a lunch and not a side dish, I decided to add them.

I made a rough pesto to dress the salad with and we enjoyed our salad with some buttered bread. For my vegan husband, I made pesto without parmesan and spread his bread with dairy free margarine.

We all enjoyed our lunch and I will make this again, but I think I will add it to pasta or serve it as a side dish next time.

I used Scotty Brand baby potatoes in my salad. They are Scottish Maris Peer potatoes and are available from October to May.

 Nigel very kindly left a comment on twitter for me.


Clandestine Cake Club - Fall Fancies


Vegetarian Christmas

I find my thoughts turning to Christmas. Not the presents as I've finished Christmas shopping. Don't you just hate me? No, my thoughts are turning to Christmas day and my Christmas table. Decorating the table and all the scrummy food that will be placed on it for my family to enjoy.

First the table. I decided to go for tartan as my theme this year and bought a red tartan blanket for a tablecloth. I am using red napkins tied with ribbon and in the middle of the table, I have a clear vase on a woven base holding a white candle and chestnuts. This is surrounded by a wreath, covered in felt hearts and wrapped with twinkly LED blue battery lights, which I got from xmasdirect, who specialise in lovely twinkly lights for all year round.  I am quite pleased  with the effect and it will be even more lovely on Christmas evening with the candle lit. You will notice the table is only set for three. This is just a trial run. There will actually be six of us on Christmas day. A bit of a squeeze, but great fun.  

Giveaway at end of post.


Caramel Apple Coopers

These dainty pastries flavoured with caramel and topped with a slice of apple are easy to make, but I have to warn you, they are very, very addictive!

Caramel Apple Coopers

Caramel Apple Coopers

It sounds like an old-fashioned English dessert from Victorian times. Well, not exactly. It is my own invention named after my son.

They are super tasty and such a treat.

Easy to make too.

I do love an easy puff pastry dessert. Serve these warm out of the oven on their own or serve warm with ice cream.

Easy Apple Pastries

These caramel apple coopers are the easiest pastries to make.

A fluffy puff pastry case, topped with a type of almond crème patissière, which conceals a gooey dollop of toffee, finished off with a slice of apple and dusted with icing sugar.

The apples slices weigh the pastry down a bit. If you make these without the apple, they rise higher, but personally I like the apple slice on top.

print recipe

Caramel Apple Coopers
These dainty pastries flavoured with caramel and topped with a slice of apple are easy to make, but I have to warn you, they are very, very addictive!
  • 1 packet puff pastry
  • ½ tin caramel condensed milk
  • 200g philadelphia soft cheese
  • 40g/1½oz caster sugar
  • 25g/1oz ground almonds
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • enough icing sugar to dust pastries
  • 1 red apple, quartered and cut into thins slices
1.Take the pastry out of the fridge about 20 minutes before you start.2. Pre-heat the oven to 200c/180c fan/gas mark 6/400f.3. Roll half the pastry out to a square of about 28cm on a floured board.4. Cut out circles with a 8 cm pastry cutter. Be careful not to twist as you remove the cutter. Try for a sharp tap, as they will go a bit awry if they are twisted. Do the same with the rest of the pastry.5. Place the circles on a prepared baking tray, leaving a little room between them.6. Dot a meagre ½ teaspoon of caramel in the centre of each pastry.7. In a bowl mix together the Philadelphia cheese with the sugar and ground almonds.8. In a separate bowl, whisk up the egg and egg yolk then mix into the cheese mixture until well combined.9. Dollop a spoonful of mixture over each pastry, covering the caramel and soothing out, but don't take it quite to the edge.10. Pop in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the pastry starts to turn a little golden.11. Put on a wire rack to cool. Once cool, dust with icing sugar. 12. Say you will just have one, but be prepared to eat at least 4, if not more.
Total time:  
Yield: makes 36


Rich Mushroom & Neep Pie

Floral and Hardy garden designers challenged me to come up with a three course meal using seasonal produce that could be grown in a garden. My garden isn't one of those gardens unfortunately, but I was able to come up with a menu for them.

The seasonal produce I decided to showcase:
  1. Cabbage
  2. Kale
  3. Mushrooms
  4. Swede (or neeps as we call it in Scotland)
  5. Apples

Kale & Cheddar Bubble and Squeak, topped with a Soft Poached Egg

Main Course

Rich Mushroom & Onion Pie topped with creamy Neeps and Mashed Tatties


Caramel Apple Coopers (a sweet treat named after my sweet child)

For my main course I slow cooked mushrooms and onions until they were juicy and flavourful.

I made a rich sauce out of stock and red wine and topped the pie with buttery mashed swede and potato, then popped it in the oven until it was goldenly tempting.

It was comforting and delicious.

print recipe

Rich Mushroom & Neep Pie
A gloriously comforting and frugal pie, perfect for dark winter nights.
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, halved and sliced
  • 2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 150g baby button mushrooms
  • 6 flat cap mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 heaped tbsp plain flour
  • 100ml red wine
  • 250ml vegetable stock
  • 1 swede/neep, chopped
  • 6 potatoes, chopped
  • 50g butter or vegan margarine
  • a good grinding of salt & black pepper
1. In separate pans, boil your swede and potatoes until tender.2. In separate bowls, mash your swede with butter and season and do the same to your potatoes. Set aside.3. While your swede and potatoes are cooking, saute the onions and garlic in the rapeseed oil until tender, then add the mushrooms and cook gently for 10-15 minutes until the mushrooms are soft and succulent. Stir in the flour.4. Add the red wine and stock and cook at a gentle simmer, with a lid on for 15-20 minutes until the wine and stock have turned into a thick sauce, then season.5. While the mushrooms are cooking, preheat the oven to 220c/200cfan/425f/gas mark 7.6. Transfer the mushrooms to a casserole dish and top first with the swede and then with the mash. Cook in the oven for 25-30 minutes until the potato topping is golden.7. Enjoy with a selection of green vegetables and a glass of rich red wine.
Total time:
Yield: 1 family sized pie

Disclosure: Floral & Hardy covered the cost of my ingredients. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

Three Course Garden Feast

Contemporary garden design specialist, Floral & Hardy, is interested in how British gardens can be used to grow fruit, vegetables and herbs, allowing the owners to save money on their weekly shop while enjoying their gardens. 

Now, I am not the best person to ask about this, as I am pretty rubbish when it comes to gardening. I like to fill my planters with flowers and herbs and nudge my husband to cut the grass and trim the bushes and trees. In fact we recently had a bit of purge of our garden and got rid of a lot of the bushes and put chips down, so we could spend more time playing with Cooper in the garden and less time gardening. 

I would like to grow more than herbs. Maybe next year will be the year. I already have a rhubarb crown to plant (I had to google that, I was about to write root), see I am useless!

Anyway, back to the task in hand and more familiar territory, my kitchen.

Floral & Hardy challenged me to use seasonal fruit and veg to create a 3 course feast. Now that I can do!


Perfect Pizza Dough

I have been on the search for the perfect pizza dough for some time and I think I have it. It is the best I have made so far. Let me share it with you.

Before I do, I would like to apologise. I stupidly scribbled down this recipe without any credits, so I don't have a clue where I picked it up, which isn't like me at all. So to the unknown author, I thank and salute you!

All I can say it that this dough is easy to make and it comes out perfectly every time. I can wholeheartedly recommend it to you.

print recipe

Perfect Pizza Dough

This is the best homemade pizza dough I have made yet. Very simple and satisfying to make.
  • 250ml lukewarm water
  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 1 ½ tsp caster sugar
  • 1 ½ tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 475g strong white (bread) flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 1 ½ tsp salt
1. Mix the warm water, yeast and sugar in a small bowl and set aside for 5 minutes until it has started to froth, then stir in the olive oil.2. Sift the flour and salt together into a large bowl. Pour in the yeasty mixture and mix together with your hands until you form a soft dough.3. Pop the dough onto your work surface and knead with the heal of your hand for 5-10 minutes until it is smooth and elastic. Do not flour the work surface as this will dry out the dough.4. Lightly oil a bowl and pop your dough in. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place to rise for an hour.5. Lightly dust your work surface with flour, then place your dough on it and give it one good punch to let any air out. Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll each piece of dough into a ball and pop onto a lined tray, cover with a tea towel and leave to prove in a warm place for 15 minutes.6. Roll out each ball of dough until quite thin. Coat with pizza sauce, grated mozzarella and your choice of toppings. Bake in a hot oven for 8-10 minutes until crisp and golden.notes: balls of dough can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen until required
Total time:
Yield: 4 portions

Hearty Aubergine Pizza Sauce

When I make pizza, I usually make a very simple pizza sauce made from tomato puree, garlic and herbs, but this time I wanted something a bit more gutsy, especially as Graham wouldn't be having any cheese on his pizza.

Così Com'è

Così Com'è sent me some of their wonderful Italian jarred tomatoes to try, so I decided to put them to good use. 

I teamed red datterino tomatoes, which are sweet, with aubergine, garlic and thyme to make the most flavourful sauce for my pizzas.

I wanted the sauce to retain all the beautiful flavour and still be fresh, so I cooked it quickly in my wok.

I topped my pizza with lots of pizza sauce, mozzarella, mushrooms and basil.

Graham had pizza sauce with no cheese and piled his pizza high with red onion, mushrooms, green bell pepper and sweetcorn.

Cooper had the same as his uncle Lachlan. Pizza sauce, mozzarella and lots of sweetcorn. I swear Cooper gets more like his uncle Lachlan every day, but that is another story.

I'll definitely be making this sauce again. Sweet and fresh, but gutsy, with a tang of garlic and the earthy hints of fresh thyme. It's a keeper!

print recipe

Hearty Aubergine Pizza Sauce
This pizza sauce teams sweet tomatoes, with hearty aubergine, garlic and fresh thyme to make a fresh, but hearty sauce to spread on pizza dough or toss through pasta.
  • 1 tbsp cold pressed rapeseed oil
  • 1 jar Così Com'è red datterino tomatoes (or good quality tinned tomatoes in juice)
  • 1 aubergine, chopped into small cubes
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • a few sprigs fresh thyme
  • a good grinding of freshly ground black pepper
1. Heat the rapeseed oil in a wok, then add the aubergine and cook for a few minutes until they start to soften.2. Add the garlic and toss through the aubergine.3. Break the tomatoes down a little with you hands and add to the aubergines, along with the juice.4. Add the thyme (scrap the leaves from their stalks and add them) and season with black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes, then taste to check the seasoning. If you are using tinned tomatoes, you may want to add a pinch of sugar as they can be a little bitter.5. Spread on pizza dough or toss through freshly cooked pasta.6. Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: 4 servings

Good Quality Rapeseed Oil

I have to mention the rapeseed oil. I've started using cold pressed rapeseed oil in my cooking. At the Scottish Food Bloggers Conference, executive chef Justin Galea, told us he only cooks with cold pressed rapeseed oil and in his opinion, it is the best oil you can buy. Here are a few facts.

Rapeseed Oil:
  • has a mild nutty taste
  • has a high smoking point, making it more suitable to use in a wok than olive oil.
  • contains 7% saturated fat compared to 14% in olive oil or 51% in butter
  • it's high in omega-3 and omega-6
  • it's high in vitamin E
  • cold pressed rapeseed oil contains no trans fats

Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil

I received some rather lovely pure cold pressed rapeseed oils from Cooks&Co, which I have been cooking with and using in dressings.

I was particularly excited by their Butter Taste Rapeseed Oil

I was quite astonished to find it did taste of butter, but it is made using a natural, plant-based aroma and is lactose free.

I am going to try it in some vegan baking for Graham. I am hoping the butter flavour will shine through.

I'll keep you updated.


Sheet Pan Aubergine (Eggplant) & Chickpea Bake

Sheet Pan Aubergine (Eggplant) & Chickpea Bake

An easy aubergine, chickpea and spinach bake for a simple family dinner.

Disclosure: I was sent products by Così Com'è & Cooks&Co to try. I was not required to write a positive review and any views expressed are my own.

Coconut Truffles for World Vegan Day

The first of November 2012 is World Vegan Day, the start of World Vegan Month. The first of November was chosen  for celebrating , as the coining of the term, ‘vegan’ and the founding of The Vegan Society was in November 1944.

As I now have a vegan husband, it seemed fitting that I create a recipe for World Vegan Day. 

The truffles were chocoaltey, coconutty and sumptuous. Everything you want from a truffle. Both my husband and little by Cooper loved these truffles and they were gone in a flash. Job well done!!

Note to self, make a much bigger batch next time!

Back to Top