Falafel burgers

800g tinned chickpeas, rinsed & drained
2 garlic cloves, crushed
Handful of flat-leafed parsley
1 red chilli, deseeded & finely chopped
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
(2tsp wholemeal flour, if needed)
1 tbsp vegetable oil
4 cobs

Blitz the chickpeas, garlic, herbs, chilli and spices in a food processor (or blender if you don't have a processor).  If your mixture is too wet, add a little wholemeal flour, however I never find this the case.

Shape mix into 4 burgers.  Heat the oil in a frying pan and gently fry the burgers in the oil, turning over as required, until hot throughout, approx 5-10 minutes depending on the thickness of the burgers.

Serve in the cobs with your preferred relishes.  We prefer a little garlic mayo on the cobs, and lots of Linghams' Chilli Sauce on top of the falafel.  Enjoy!

Bumpy Brownies

For this recipe you need to use your own, favourite brownie recipe (I favour the Fat Witch's Bakery recipe which is why I cannot reproduce it here).
Fudge chunks
Mini marshmallows
Chocolate chips
Cashew nuts - chopped
Prepare your brownie batter, but only pour half of it into your pan; part bake for half the usual cooking time (approx 15 minutes).  Meanwhile, mix into the remaining batter the marshmallows, fudge chunks, chocolate chips and chopped cashews.  When you have removed the part baked brownies from the over spread over the top the remaining batter - this can be awkward but I find using a silicone spatula helps.  When it's relatively even, put the brownies back into the oven for the remaining time (approx 15 minutes).  Remove from the oven and allow to cool before cutting into squares.

French Martini

2 shots of Vanilla Vodka
1 3/4 Pineapple juice
1/4 shot Chambord black raspberry liquer
Shake all ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and strain into a martini glass, top up with more pineapple juice if required. Enjoy.

Red Velvet Cake

3 1/2 cups plain flour
3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
180g unsalted butter, softened
2 1/4 cups sugar
3 large eggs
6 tbsp red colouring
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 180/350/Gas 4.
Grease two round springform pans and "flour" them with cocoa powder.
Sift flour into a bowl together with the cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a mixer, beat the butter until creamy, add the sugar and beat well until light and fluffy.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well.
Add the vanilla and red colouring and mix well.
In three lots, add the flour mix, alternating with the milk, and mix well.
Divide batter between the two pans and bake for approx 40-50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Allow to cool on a rack in their pans for an hour.  Remove from pans and let cool completely.

Cream Cheese Frosting

450g light cream cheese - at room temperature (this is very important)
6 tbsp butter - softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla essence
5 cups of icing sugar

In a mixer beat the cream cheese and butter until smooth - it is VERY important that the cream cheese is room temperature otherwise it will make the butter lumpy (if this happens, place your mixer bowl in a bowl of hot water to re-soften).
Add the vanilla and mix well.  Slowly add the icing sugar, one cup at a time, mixing well until smooth and creamy.
Cover the bowl and put in the refridgerator for a couple of hours (but no longer than 3 hours) to thicken.
Frost the middle, top and outsides of cake.


Chocolate Truffles

400g dark chocolate
400ml double cream

Break up chocolate in a large bowl.  In a saucepan bring cream to a boil, pour hot cream over broken chocolate and leave for a couple of minutes.  Stir until melted and well combined.  Pour chocolate mixture into a brownie pan which has been covered in cling film (with a large overhang).  Cover the chocolate mix with the clingfilm overhang and put in the fridge until set.

Dust a surface with cocoa powder and turn out the set truffle slab onto it, then turn over.  Trim the edges, then cut truffles into squares.



Butternut squash & Apple Soup

1 large butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and chopped
1 large cooking apple, peeled and chopped
500ml of stock - I prefer vegetable, but you can use chicken if you prefer
2 medium onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, smushed
1 tbsp (medium) curry powder
a pinch of (freshly) ground nutmeg
500ml semi-skim milk

Put the squash, apple, onions, garlic, curry powder and stock into a saucepan, bring to the boil and simmer until the squash is soft (usually about 20-30 mins).  Allow to cool slightly, blend, then add the nutmeg and the milk.  Reheat and enjoy!


Courgette Soup

1tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1kg courgettes, halved and chopped
1litre vegetable stock
60ml milk
2tbsp pesto
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onion and garlic and cook until soft (approx 5-10 mins).  Add courgettes and hot stock to the onion and bring to the boil.

Reduce the heat, cover and simmer for approx 15 minutes or until courgettes are very soft.  Blend soup until smooth and let cool.

Add the milk, 2tbsp of pesto, salt and pepper and reheat.  Check the taste and if necessary, add more pesto to taste. Enjoy x


Chilli con Carne

2tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
1 chilli, chopped
500g minced beef
350ml vegetable stock
400g tin plum tomatoes
400g tin kidney beans
2tsp each of ground cumin and coriander seeds
1 tsp chilli powder
salt and pepper

Heat the oil in a large pot, add the onion, garlic and chilli and cook until soft.

Add the beef and brown, then add the rest of the ingredients.  Bring to the boil and simmer for at least for 1 hour.  Remove the lid near the end to thicken. 

Serve with brown rice and garnish with monterey jack cheese, tortilla chips and jalepenos if you wish.


Plum Jam

Basically for this recipe you can use whatever weight of fruit you want, just remember, you'll need the exact weight in sugar and 300ml of water per kg of fruit.  Plum jam doesn't usually need pectin as long as you're using ripe plums.

We used:

5kg plums - washed and halved
1.5 litres of cold water
5kg sugar (just everyday white granulated)

Wash and half the plums (you can remove stones now if you prefer) and add to a very large jam pan with the water.  Put on a medium heat and simmer until the fruit is very soft.

Slowly add the sugar in a steady stream, stirring to dissolve.

Bring to the steady boil; remove the stones if you didn't earlier.  

Whilst the jam is boiling (keeping an eye of it so it doesn't boil over) you can sterlize your jam jars.

Boil until a setting point is reached - this can be tested by using a saucer which has been in the freezer, drop a little of the jam onto the cold surface, leave for a minute, then test with your finger by pushing the jam, it should wrinkle somewhat.  Please be patient, this can vary hugely and take several hours. 

Skim off any scum.  It's up to you whether you like some small chunks/skin in your jam, we do but if you don't, them skim off most and then sieve the jam into the sterlized jars.

Using a funnel pour into the sterlized jars and add a lid, or a waxed disc and fabric top if preferred.

Leave to cool and set.  Enjoy!


Turkey Curry Flatbreads

2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 tbsp curry powder
500g minced turkey
250g feta / goat's cheese, crumbled
1 cup plain yoghurt
grated peel of a lemon and the juice from half

For the salsa
1/4 cup olive oil
1 large tomato, chopped
2 spring onions, chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, chopped

4 flat breads (recipe follows)

In a medium frying pan, heat the 2 tbsps olive oil.  Add the onions and the curry powder and cook until the onions are soft (5 mins).  Add the turkey mince and cook until browned.  Add the cheese and stir until mixed in.  Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the yoghurt, lemon peel and juice.

In a small bowl, mix the tomatoes, spring onions, parsley and olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

Warm the flatbreads, add the turkey curry and tomato salsa (or mango chutney if you prefer) to one half and fold over.


Flatbread recipe

2 tsp dried yeast
60ml water
500g strong white flour
2tsp salt
1 tbsp olive oil
250ml carbonated water
3tsp nigella seeds

In a bowl sprinkle yeast into the water and leave for 5 minus, stir to dissolve.  Mix the flour and salt in a large bowl, making a well in the centre and pouring in the yeast water, the oil and 150ml of the carbonated water.  Mix in the flour and the nigella seeds.  Stir in the rest of the carbonated water, as required to form a firm, moist dough.

Turn out the dough onto a floured surgace and knead until smooth and elastic (approx 10 mins).  Put the dough into a clean bowl and cover with a tea towel, leaving it to double in size (approx 1 1/2 hours).  Knock back the dough and leave to rest for another 10 mins.

Divide the dough into eight equal pieces.  On a floured surface, roll out each piece until you have a round 6" across, 1 1/2" thick bread.  Heat a frying pan of griddle over a medium heat until it is very hot.  Place one of the breads into the hot pan and prick all over to prevent air bubbles.  Cook until golden brown on both sides, flipping frequently (approx 5 mins).

Repeat with the rest of the breads, stack on top of each other to keep soft and warm.


Birthday Chocolate Cake

3 cups plain flour
2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
2/3 cup sour cream
1 tbsp vanilla
3/4 cup (180g) butter, melted and cooled
2 cups whole milk

Preheat the oven to 350, 180, Gas 4.

Grease and flour two cake pans (I use 9" pans).

Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and set aside. 

In a mixer whisk the eggs, sour cream and vanilla until blended.  Add the melted, cooled butter and mix until blended.  Add the dry ingredients in two stages, adding the milk inbetween and mix until blended.

Pour the batter into the two pans and bake for 45 minutes, or until a cake tester comes out clean. (NB the sponges usually take at least 1 hour, but because everyone's oven differs, I prefer to check after 45 minutes).

Remove from the oven and cool cakes in their pans for 10 minutes.  Remove sponges from their pans and leave to cool completely on racks.

In the meantime you can make the frosting:

Chocolate Buttercream

240g butter, softened
1tbsp whole milk
Chocolate, 150g milk & 50g dark - melted and cooled
1tsp vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups icing sugar, sifted

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler and allow to cool.

In a mixer, beat the butter until creamy.  Add the milk and mix.  Add the melted, cooled chocolate and mix well.  Add vanilla and beat for 3 minutes.

Slowly add the sifted icing sugar and mix until the frosting is creamy and of the right consistency.

Frost away!

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