Clandestine Cake Club - Baking like Delia


I haven't written about my cake club for some time.

I run the Dundee branch of the Clandestine Cake Club with my friends Becca and Stuart and it's been running for 3 years now.

Just in case you haven't heard of the Clandestine Cake Club before, it's now a worldwide cake club that was set up by Lynn Hill in 2010 as a way of bringing like minded people together to chat and enjoy cake. It started small, but now there are over 200 clubs across the world.

Each club meets on a regular basis and the bakers are set a challenge. However there are rules: No Cupcakes, Muffins, Brownies, Pies or Tarts. It's all about the cake.

So you maybe wondering what the Clandestine part is about? The bakers that have applied and secured a slot at the next meeting are the only ones who find out the location. It's top secret and even the bakers only find out the night before.

Each baker can bring a guest or an eater as we call them and the meet-ups are informal and fun with lots of chat and the occasional glass of wine. There's always cake leftover, so the bakers and guests all bring a box to take cake home in.

This month I asked my bakers to Bake Like Delia. They had to choose a cake from one of Delia's cookbooks or her website to bake and bring along.

I made a Sticky Toffee Cake with Toffee Icing and topped it with pecans and a drizzle of toffee sauce.  Delia made it in a loaf tin, but I decide to make a cake.

It looked glorious when it came out the oven, but in my rush to get it finished and head off to the venue I couldn't find my spatula for spreading on the buttercream and I used a spoon instead. MISTAKE! It slopped over the edge and didn't look bonnie, as you can see, but it did taste great.

As my bakers will tell you, something always goes wrong or not quite to plan when you are baking for cake club.

As well as my Sticky Toffee cake we had a Lemon Cake with Fresh Cream and Homemade Curd, an Apricot and Hazelnut Meringue, a Lime and Coconut Cake, an Austrian Coffee and Walnut Cake with Coffee Cream,  a Squidgy Chocolate Cake, a Sticky Toffee Bundt and a Chocolate Fudge Cake.

Cake heaven!!!

Photo: Apex Dundee
Our secret venue this month was rather plush. We had our meeting in The Apex Hotel in Dundee, which sits on the waterfront, next to a quay where some of our oldest ships are docked.

Their Metro Bar and Brasserie is one of my favourite places to dine in Dundee. They always do great veggie dishes and they are especially good at catering to different dietary requirement, so Graham always gets a great vegan meal there too.

Apex City Quay Hotel & Spa
1 West Victoria Dock Road
Dundee DD1 3JP

T +44 (0)1382 202 404
F +44 (0)1382 201 401
To make a reservation:
T 0845 365 0000 (UK)
T +44 (0)131 441 0440 (Outside UK)

Check out the Clandestine Cake Club official website to find out if there is a club near you.

I'd also like to give a shout out to my cake club bloggers:

Stuart - Cakeyboi
Becca - Becca Bakes
Genna - Blethering Boys

For all your cake baking needs and some great tips too, check out my 

Rocket and Mozzarella Farfalle Salad


I made this salad for lunch on Wednesday. 

I am good to myself sometimes.

You see I had to treat myself because Wednesday was housework and catching up online day. By lunchtime I really needed a treat!

It was so good, but so simple. Bow pasta, rocket, peas, spring onion, sweetcorn and mozzarella in a mouth watering honey mustard dressing.  It was perfect for using up that half ball of mozzarella and some leftover sweetcorn in the fridge. 

There was no one around to marvel at my wondrous salad, so I'm sharing it with you my vicarious readers. I hope you enjoy it.

Are you craving salads now Spring is here or are you like me swinging between salads because Spring is here and soups and stews because it is still blooming chilly at times? I have the heating on right now. My fingers were going a bit numb while I was typing, so I had to give in and turn it on.

UPDATE: It warmed up since I started writing this morning. We had a glorious sunny Easter Sunday in St Andrews. Here are a few photos of our day.

Now back to the salad.........

print recipe

Rocket and Mozzarella Pasta Salad
A fresh Spring salad with a honey mustard dressing.
  • a good handful rocket leaves
  • 50g farfalle (bow) pasta
  • 25g frozen peas
  • 25g sweetcorn (frozen or fresh)
  • 50 - 75g fresh mozzarella (half a ball)
  • 1 spring onion, sliced
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp white wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp wholegrain mustard
  • ½ tsp honey
  • a good grinding of black pepper
1. Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Pour in the frozen peas and frozen sweetcorn, if using, a minute before the end of cooking time. Rinse in cold water to stop the cooking process. This stops it going claggy.2. Place the rocket in a bowl and top with spring onions.3. Pour in the pasta,peas and sweetcorn, then tear the mozzarella into chunks and add.4 Whisk up the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.5.Enjoy!
Total time:
Yield: Serves 1


Hearty Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew

National Vegetarian Week runs from the 19 -25 May 2014 and in honour of the event Betta Living are hosting a vegetarian recipe competition.

Betta Living want to show that vegetarian food is more than just tofu, nut roasts and quorn dishes. They are offering the winner £750 worth of gift vouchers and there is also one runner up prize of £250 worth of vouchers to be won.

I will be on the judging panel, so get your thinking caps on, your knives out and your entries in.

To get the ball rolling I've made the most gorgeous Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew. I served it up with rice, toasted pitta bread, creme fraiche and mango chutney, but it would also be great with mashed potatoes and some green vegetables or spooned over a baked potato with a dollop of soured cream.

My chickpea and sweet potato stew was mildly spiced as my mother-in-law and little boy aren't overly fond of very spicy food, but feel free to increase the amount of chilli and spices when you make it yourself.

The stew was really delicious and very filling. It will be appearing on our dinner table on a regular basis. It's so easy to throw it all in, leave it to cook and develop all that mouthwatering flavour. It's one of those dishes that is even better the next day.

I made a huge potful as there was 6 of us, but you can keep leftovers in the fridge for a few days or freeze them.

Check out my fellow judges Becky and her Super Speedy Pot Luck Quiche and Cass with her Colourful Quick and Easy Vegetable Risotto.

print recipe

Hearty Chickpea and Sweet Potato Stew
A spiced stew of chickpeas, sweet potato, baby potatoes, carrots and parsnips. A filling family meal that everyone will love.
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 cm piece fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 4 tsp ground cumin
  • 3 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 - 3 tsp chilli powder
  • 15 small baby potatoes, halved
  • 1 large sweet potato, chopped into chunks
  • 4 - 6 medium carrots carrots, sliced fairly thickly
  • 2 large parsnips, sliced fairly thickly
  • 3 x 400g tins chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 4 x 400g tins chopped tomatoes
  • 1 large glass white wine
  • 1 vegetable stock pot with 500ml boiling water
  • 4 tbsp tomato puree
  • a large handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1. Saute the onion, garlic and fresh ginger in the olive oil in a large pot until the onion is soft and translucent.2. Add the dried spices and gently cook with the onions for a couple of minutes, than add all the vegetables and mix well.3. Add the chickpeas and pour in the wine, then add the stock and tomato puree. 4. Cover and leave to cook gently for 40 - 50 minutes, stirring occasionally until the vegetables are tender and the stew has thickened. If need be you can add more stock and cook a little longer.5. Season the stew with salt and pepper. Add the fresh coriander just before you serve.6. Enjoy! notes: You can use stock cubes instead of a vegetable stock pot. I would add 3 or 4 for flavour. Any leftover stew can be kept in the fridge for a few days or frozen into portions.
Total time:
Yield: Serves 8 - 10

Here are a few of the best veggie and vegan recipes I have found on the web this week:

1. Spicy Cauliflower-Cashew Bites with Wild Garlic Sauce and American ‘Buffalo’ Sauce - Food to Glow
2. Artichoke, Kale, and Ricotta Pie with Eggs and Parmesan - Kalyn's Kitchen
3. Za’atar Roasted Carrots and Green Beans - The Lemon Bowl

4. Spaghetti alla Puttaneca  - Amuse Your Bouche
5. Sweet Potato, Zucchini and Olive Quesadillas - Green Gourmet Giraffe
6. Chickpeas, Mango and Spinach in a Tomato Coconut Gravy - Lisa's Kitchen

I hope you are inspired to try some new vegetarian dishes. I look forward to seeing your entries. I will publish the winning entries at the end of May.

To keep up-to-date with all the latest foodie challenges, competitions and giveaways visit The Food Blog Diary.

Disclosure: I am being paid to host and judge this competition. I was not expected to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.

The Breakfast Blues

I'm just not good at having breakfast in the morning!

I make sure I get up early enough to make Cooper a big bowl of porridge during the week and sometimes treat him to a cooked veggie breakfast at the weekend, but I just can't face food that early in the morning.

Water yes, food no!

It's not that I don't like breakfast, my favourites are:
  • beans on toast
  • crunchy nut cornflakes
  • a cooked veggie breakfast 
  • tattie scones and beans
  • poached egg on toast
  • mushrooms on toast
  • greek yoghurt, fruit and honey
I just can't face it first thing in the morning.

I know! It's good for you. It sets you up for the day. People who eat breakfast are less likely to overeat later in the day. Hmmmmm! There may be something in that one.

Raspberry, Carrot & Basil Smoothie
What I have started to do is make a smoothie in my vitamix to take with me to drink at work.

My favourite this week has been a blueberry, apple and orange juice with added Baobab powder for extra nutrients and lots of ice to turn it into a more juice like texture.  I've had that one twice. Once I have poured two drinks for me, I add a banana, some greek yoghurt and milk, whizz it up again and pour that into a sealed cup for Cooper to take with him.

Juicing is big at my work just now, well at least in my department. My friend Louise started juicing about a month ago. She brings juice into work too and feels great on it. Her favourite juice has tomatoes and chilli in it. I'll have to ask her for the recipe. Then there is my friend Genna who writes over at Blethering Boys. She has really gone for it and is doing a full juice detox. She has lost weight, looks great and is bubbling over with energy, so I think for the moment I shall stick with my juices and let go of the no-breakfast guilt.

What is a weekday morning like in your house?

Does everyone eat breakfast?

While we are talking breakfasts. I have to tell you about one of my eBay Collections

In support of breakfasts everywhere I have created a board called The Breakfast Bunch were you will find lots of fun breakfast gadgets and kitchen fripperies. 

I had such fun creating my 12 collections for eBay, I do hope you go over, have a look and follow any that catch your eye.  

I even have a board called Food Styling Props that I created especially to tempt food bloggers.


Easter Egg or Not?


I'm torn about chocolate eggs at Easter. Cooper is already a bit of an chocoholic (thanks Grandad), but I don't like him eating too much chocolate. I usually buy him a wee gift instead of an egg at Easter and we make sure we go out and have a fun day out to celebrate instead. I know fine well my parents will buy him an egg and that is quite enough for one small boy.

So you are perhaps goggling at that giant chocolate bunny. Yes, me too! It was sent to me as a thank you. It's Thorntons special Easter gift this year. They do 250g white and milk chocolate versions for £5, but goodness knows how much this monster costs. It comes in at a staggering 1.1kg of chocolate.

Cooper is going to expect to eat this chocolate. Ahhhhhhhhhh!

We've also been enjoying a few other Easter goodies and I've been looking around the web for something to buy for Cooper instead of more chocolate.  Have a look at the selection I've put together.

Will you be going chocolate crazy this Easter?

1. Alex Clark Rooster Dinner Plate £5 from Amazon with free delivery

I love these rooster plates by Alex Clark. I don't think I could just keep them for Easter though. You will see from the photos further on that I have already started using one as a cake plate. Just gorgeous!

2. M&S Simnel Cake £12 can be ordered online (Food to Order) for collection in store or check your local M&S

We tucked into this one today as my in-laws are over from Cyprus and won't be here for Easter. My father-in-law really enjoyed the cake with his coffee. The fruit cake was moist and rich, just as I like it, but I'm not overly fond of marzipan, so this isn't one for me. Great to have on standby for any guests who may drop by on Easter weekend. 

3. Neapolitan Egg Sandwich £8.50 Hotel Chocolat  

A more reasonably sized piece of Easter chocolate from Hotel Chocolat. Creamy strawberry white chocolate and dreamy vanilla white chocolate, sandwiched between two halves of a milk chocolate egg and topped with zingy strawberry pieces.  AND IT'S ALL MINE!!!! I am NOT sharing this with anyone. If anyone goes near it they will be in deep trouble!

4. Raffia Easter Basket £4 Paperchase 

This would be great for carrying your decorated eggs on Easter Sunday morning. You know when they are all beautiful before they are rolled down a muddy hill. 

5. Nodding Chick £2.50 Paperchase

Isn't that the cutest thing? I have to have few of these. They come in a white and yellow duck and a cute little bunny.

6. Magnum Easter Egg £8

A thick magnum chocolate egg with 3 magnum chocolate bars filled with vanilla truffle. What can I say but yum!

Mini Milk Egg £6

A Mini Milk chocolate Easter Egg and 4 Mini Milk Chocolate lollypops with a whipped middle all packaged in a van. I am steering my parents towards this one for Cooper.

7. Grow Yourself Mini Garden Egg Kit £12.95

This is a great non-chocolate Easter gift for kids. The seeds are already in the soil in the eggs, you just crack the top of the large, life-like eggs. Choose from a prickly cactus, spicy red peppers, petunia flowers, wild strawberry's, lavender and basil! What a brilliant idea!

Cooper is Disney Cars and Planes Crazy. Our house if full of those little smiling vehicles. So for him and little boys like him this is the perfect Easter gift and hours of fun. He is going to be so excited unwrapping this on Easter morning and who knows it may even take this mind of chocolate. 

9. M&S Easter Chocolate Nest Cake £10 can be ordered online (Food to Order) for collection in store or check your local M&S

Cooper and I have already tucked into this one. It's moist and chocolatey just how it should be. It's filled and covered with chocolate buttercream and a nest of chocolate strands and finished with chocolate mini eggs. It's glorious and you couldn't get a better chocolate cake for Easter weekend. Highly recommended!

10. Chalk and Tees Bunny Chalkboard T-Shirt £19

What a cool idea. A t-shirt with a chalkboard bunny on the front. Fun and messy, just perfect for kids. 

I hope you enjoyed my roundup of Easter fun. Are you doing anything special on Easter Weekend?

Disclosure: I was sent some of these products to try, the other I searched for to include in m roundup. I was not required to write a positive review and any opinions expressed are my own.


Farm to Fork with Cooper

It's important for children to know about food.

They should know the names of food as well as the look, feel, smell and taste of it and they should have a knowledge of where food comes from.

Recently I accompanied Cooper on his nursery visit to Rosemount Farm on the Blairgowrie Estate in Perthshire, where he learned all about the farm and the food grown there. It was part of the Co-operative's From Farm to Fork Initiative. Over 65,000 children from across the UK have visited a local farm and I think it's a fabulous venture.

The day started off with us all clambering on to the bus for our journey to the farm with wellies at the ready and a lunchtime snack packed safely in our bags.

On arrival the children were greeted by Margaret Hart, the project leader and taken into an informal classroom where they listened to a talk with slides about the farm and what they grow. There was a rather nice demonstration of wheat being ground into flour and lots of questions and answers. The group were then split into two groups and they started their adventures on the farm.

Cooper started his visit with some baking. If you've seen Cooper's cookery series over at Baby Centre or have seen some of his appearances on this blog you'll know how perfect this was.

Cooper's group was taught how to make pizza dough using flour from the wheat grown on the farm and then they made their own individual pizzas. Cooper was delighted with his.

The smell of the pizzas cooking was divine so it was just as well lunch was next on the agenda.

We all tucked into our lunches with vigour and then the children set of on their next farm experience.

Cooper and his group were taken around the farm to look at the machinery, tractors and the hay bales, then we had a walk down the road and into one of the farm's fields where the children moved hay and dug up carrots.

An excellent day out and a great learning experience for the children (and adults). A big thumbs up and 5 out of 5 for the Co-op and their initiative as well as the educational workers who were so good with the children and made the visit so enjoyable. Also a big thumbs up to Cooper's nursery who are great with the children and teach them so much.


No Croutons Required - April 2014

It's time for the April edition of No Croutons Required.

Just in case you haven't come across it. No Croutons Required is a monthly vegetarian soup and salad challenge hosted jointly between myself and Lisa from Lisa's Kitchen. No Croutons Required started in February 2008 and has run every month since then.

We used to have topics, but now we just ask for any vegetarian soups or salads. If you blog a veggie soup or salad this month, just link up to this post, add the logo and submit your post to the linky below by the 20th of April 2014.

I look forward to seeing your entries.

Check out the roundup of all last month's delicious entries over at Lisa's Kitchen.


March Giveaway Winners

In March I had two giveaways running. 
The first was a Triple Cookbook Giveaway where I offered a copy of cookbooks by Gordon Ramsay, Delia Smith and Mary Berry to one lucky reader. 

I now have my winners.
Triple Cookbook Giveaway - the winner is:

Congratulations to Tracey and Maureen and thanks to everyone who entered.

Hopefully I'll have a giveaway for you again this month, so do watch out for that.


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