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French Onion Soup

  I always thought French onion soup was rather complicated but having tried it myself, I realise it is terribly easy, just slightly time-consuming and a non stick pan is essential. It feels very French too, full of butter, onions, baguette and cheese. It is a hearty, filling soup with caramelised onions topped with croutons and melted gruyere cheese. This soup I have also tried to freeze. If you freeze in bags and also make the croutons, you can bag them up separately. When you are ready, defrost them and top with the cheese,  and melt in the oven. I know I make a lot of soup- it’s that time of year, and it’s comforting to have something you can hold in a bowl, legs crossed on the sofa. Ingredients: (serves 2) 6 large white onions 1 litre beef stock large knob of butter tsp olive oil (extra for brushing on croutons) tsp caster sugar salt & pepper heaped tsp cornflour 50g gruyere cheese small baguette Finely slice your onions by hand or in a food …

Naughty little cakes

Sometimes one just needs chocolate cake and sticky sickly icing and that is what I was seriously craving yesterday. I had a couple of girlfriends coming round for tea, it was a cold and wet day and we wanted some serious comfort food in the form of cake. To stop us (I mean me) from eating large slices of a cake, I decided to make little cupcakes. I have always preferred cakes when they are made with vegetable oil, it gives a much more moist texture and a slightly springy feel to the cake so it’s not too heavy. I also find a lot of cupcakes that you buy don’t really taste of anything it is all about the icing so I wanted to make sure my cakes tasted of chocolate as if I am eating the calories, I want at least to be able to taste them! Ingredients: (Makes 9 small cup cakes) 118g plain flour 125g caster sugar 20g cocoa 1/3 tsp bicarbonate of soda tsp coffee granules diluted in 120ml boiling water 140 …

Cooking for an easy life.. Chorizo & bean soupy stew

This is my go-to recipe when I need to feed a bunch of friends something warming, hearty and filling. Also it is easy, almost impossible to get wrong and the flavours taste even better the next day so it’s perfect as a make-ahead dish! My basic ingredients are chorizo sausage, onions, garlic, paprika, cayenne and some type of bean. You can add so many further ingredients to bulk it out as well as any sort of bean (kidney, butter, black bean). Sometimes I add spinach and roasted aubergine to make it more like a stew, other times I leave it as it is and just serve it as a soup with a hunk of chunky bread! This weekend about 8 friends are coming for lunch after a countryside walk.  So I need to make something that I know as soon as I walk back into the house will be ready within minutes. I will buy fresh bread from the bakery before we go and then heat the soup up on our return letting everyone help themselves to …

Cappuccino cake

I am a really lazy baker sometimes. I love to make a recipe that you just put all the ingredients into a food processor, whizz it up then pour into a cake tin then bake while you make the icing. This is one of those recipes and it is really rather tasty too. I realised that I kept making carrot cakes as my default tea time treat when friends came over so needed to show them I could actually bake something else. I love to invite friends over for tea, it is the time of day when I feel one needs a sweet treat and I am very British in that I always have a cup of tea late afternoon.  Also during the winter months, once it is dark it can become a very long evening ahead of you so the perfect time to see friends and then all can go home to get tucked up in front of the tv with their loved ones without having to brace the dark cold night too late. Cappuccino …

It’s Soup Weather!

Are you like me, a little bit bored of soup with no texture and in need of something a bit bulkier to make lunch time more of a pleasurable experience rather than just feeding time? I have always shied away from lentils, thought they tasted like chalk and were a little too ethnic for me. But I have been proved wrong recently on more than one occasion when I had a delicious coconut dhal and also a lentil and chorizo soup. Two very different dishes but it made me think what do I have in the house that I can make something delicious and hearty for my lunch during these winter months. I bought tinned puy lentils ages ago but never used them and have some bacon in the fridge so thought actually lets try making a soup out of these two and top it with some fresh parsley. I’m going to use the basics of a good soup: carrots, celery, onion, garlic and chicken stock. These basics can be used for many soups or …

Sugar free apple crumble

I am a real puddings person, such a sweet tooth and my January rule is no refined sugar so I have been looking for sweet treats that are not filled full of sugar. My friend asked me round for dinner the other night and I said I would bring pudding. This meant I didn’t have to have the awkward conversation of  “Oh i’m trying to be sugar free at the moment. Do you mind making  a real effort because I am being difficult?” I wouldn’t call this a diet as much as more of a changing my way of thinking long term. Eventually I would like to avoid using natural sweeteners* too but then I come back to the way of thinking that life is too short to worry about everything and I should just take a little more exercise when I can. Apple crumble with a big dollop of ice-cream is one of my all time favourites so here is my version which is packed full of oats, nuts, fruit and a few variations …

Brazil nut and almond crumble cookies

Well they are not really cookies or a crumble but I couldn’t think of a better description for them. But what they are is totally delicious, sweet, crunchy, soft and filling. As you can probably tell by looking at my blog, I am forever on the hunt for a healthy snack which tastes like a really naughty snack and this one completes that brief! The joys of these little snacks are that they are gluten free, sugar free and dairy free. Similar in many ways to the energy balls but these come out a little sweeter and gooey. The flavouring also reminds me of a biscuity base of a tart or a crumble topping. I am going to cut up some apples and stew them a little with some lemon juice and maple syrup then crumble this on top. It would be a wonderful gluten and dairy free pudding. I am very lucky as I don’t seem to be intolerant to any foods but eating snacks like this are 100% more natural and better for me than any …

Homemade chocolate spoons

I have always wanted to make my own chocolate from scratch and hadn’t realised how easy it was. I know we can all go out and buy a chocolate bar but I wanted sugar and dairy free chocolate and to have the pride that I made it! I am making chocolate spoons for a tea party, a christmas one where I have a few people coming along who can not eat dairy so mince pies and homemade sausage rolls are a no go for them. I  will also make coconut snowballs which are dairy and sugar free (similar to the bounty bars in an earlier post but just roll the mixture into ball shapes not bars). First of all you need to get your hands on some raw cocoa butter. You will see in the above image what it looks like. This is different to coconut oil as it comes from the cocoa bean not coconut! The melted cocoa butter is mixed with raw cacao powder and a sweetener (in this case maple syrup) to make lovely dark …

Chicken Laksa

It may be the lead up to Christmas but that doesn’t mean that the only food you can eat is mince pies with brandy butter or turkey and stuffing sandwiches. Keep being adventurous in the kitchen and keep a few recipes like this up your sleeve. Your dinner party guests would be thrilled to be given something light and gently spiced for dinner rather than the hefty carb loaded food that we all insist on eating this time of year. Don’t you find that you never quite feel hungry most of December? I’m basically exhausted and longing for the eating to stop, but can’t quite say no to all the delicious canapés being handed round, and have slightly given up trying to be good. Frankly no one wants a salad in December! So here are my ‘salads’ of the curry world that are low in fat, full of flavour, textures and bring a satisfying warmth to your supper.   Ingredients:  (ok this looks like a long list, but you will notice in all my food I end up …

Burmese cauliflower curry

It was a cold dark night and I just felt a little fed up of eating soup and wanted something chunky with a bit of heat to clear my cold which didn’t want to go. This was just the recipe, adapted from a few different recipes I have tried over the past year and it isn’t realise Burmese or Indian or Thai, but I like the combination. The Cauliflower is wonderfully comforting with the chick peas and spinach giving a lot of textures, makes you realise how easy it is to have three vegetables in just one sitting and no meat. The chick peas give us the protein to fill up even a hungry boy, while the spinach is packed full of iron and cauliflower full of vitamin C. All in all this is a flu fighting recipe perfect for any one! Ingredients: 1 cauliflower cut into florets 2 teaspoons curry powder ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon ground turmeric 1 tsp garam masala drizzles of olive oil 1 teaspoon chilli powder/ or cayenne 2 teaspoons sweet paprika …