Brown Butter Sponge with Praline and Hazlenuts


This is a simple sponge that with an extra step becomes something quite decadent. I used a jar of Bonne Maman Hazelnut Praline Caramel which makes it very very easy and doable but you can make your own salted caramel too – I was just all about the short cut when I saw this jar and that’s where the idea for the cake began!


You will need two cake tins – 20cm, sides buttered and bases lined. Preheat your oven to 180 (160c fan)


50g butter

6 eggs

200g golden caster sugar

200g plain flour

To serve:

500ml cream, whipped

Jar of Hazelnut Caramel Praline (or similar)

Chopped toasted hazelnuts

First you will make your brown butter. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a low heat. It will melt, then foam, turning a golden colour then to a deeper amber and smelling lovely and nutty. There will be some solids in the bottom of the pan that will go a darker colour. Watch closely that they don’t go too dark. This will give your sponge a lovely complex taste and is well worth the extra step. It goes so well with the nuts and caramel. Take off the heat and leave to one side.

In a stand mixer whisk the eggs and sugar until they are pale, fluffy and have more than doubled in volume. The beater should leave a trail when you lift it out. This will take a while so have patience! Now fold the flour in carefully, trying not to knock too much air out but making sure there are no pockets of flour left in the mix (a challenge). Follow this with the cooled brown butter, drizzling it carefully in with all the nutty bits and mixing them in carefully.

Divide the mix equally between the tins and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes (in my oven they take 23 minutes!) until golden. Cool for a few minutes in the tin then invert on a wire cooling tray to cool completely.

Top one half with half the whipped cream and dot with praline (you may need to warm some slightly) and sprinkle with chopped toasted hazelnuts then top with the other half and repeat.



Vegetable Risotto

1 finely diced onion

2 ribs of diced celery (optional)

1 diced carrot (optional)

2 cloves of garlic

400g arborio rice

1 small glass of wine (about 120ml)

1.5 litres stock (My favourite is Marigold Bouillion)

2 tablespoons butter


freshly grated parmesan, to taste

salt and pepper



This is a great base recipe and can be adapted to lots of different flavours. The carrot and celery is optional, but does up the vegetable quotient. I have added roasted veg, a blob of pesto, pancetta, frozen peas and sweetcorn, leftover roast chicken, prawns or even a poached egg. The combinations are endless. It’s also lovely just as is.


Firstly, boil your kettle. You will make the stock (either homemade or with a cube or boullion) and leave it simmering in a pot on the hob, beside your risotto pan.

Melt the butter and a teaspoon of oil in a large wide bottomed pan. Add the onion and garlic and cook over a medium low heat until gently softened.

Now turn the heat up a little and stir in the rice, letting it cook for a minute.

Now add the wine and cook for one to two minutes – the alcohol will cook off.  Next, turn the heat down a little and add the stock, ladle by ladle slowly stirring until each ladle is absorbed into the rice. You’ll want to let the rice gently break down and soften. This will take about 20-25 minutes.

The risotto will be ready when it is al dente and the stock has been absorbed – Note you may not need all the stock, this is about knowing by eye when you have used enough.

Now add the second spoon of butter and stir into the risotto. Serve with lots of grated parmesan.

Mushroom and vegetable risotto, with rocket

Leftover chicken and chorizo risotto

Roast mixed veg and pancetta

Simple pea and sweetcorn, with optional roast mushrooms!

Finely diced veg and pancetta – the ultimate fave in our house


Chicken with tarragon and sundried tomatoes



This is an old favourite of ours and one we ate all the time pre-children! It was fast to make coming in from work and yielded a speedy tasty bite (in front of an episode of the Sopranos, glass of wine in hand – how times have changed!) Be sure to marinate the chicken first though, so that you are ready to go.

The following feeds two generously:-


2-3 chicken breasts, sliced

2 tablespoons paprika

1-2 lemons juiced (depending on the yield, usually  one and half – enough for around 5 tablespoons)

2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon

2 cloves of garlic, minced

3 tablespoons creme fraiche

100g sundried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped

salt and pepper

some reserved pasta water

200g pasta (tagliatelle or pappardelle are nice here; any will do!)

Mix the lemon juice, garlic paprika and tarragon in a (non metallic) bowl, then add in the chicken and some seasoning and mix well to coat. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour (this can be done up to the day before.

When ready to cook, put your pasta on.  You will need to reserve some of the cooking water, I usually scoop out 200 mls towards the end of cooking (just shy of a cup) but rarely use it all. Don’t forget to do this before the pasta is drained! (this has happened)

Heat a spoon of oil in a large frying pan and add the chicken, reserving the marinade for later. Fry this off sealing it well. Because the meat is quite finely sliced, it won’t take long to cook through.

Now add the reserved marinade, plus a bit of the pasta water and stir to make a bit of a sauce, enough that will coat the pasta.

Follow by adding the tomatoes and creme fraiche and allow this to heat through, stirring gently to incorporate.

Now add the cooked drained pasta and mix gently to coat in the sauce and serve. 


Italian style shakshuka or eggs and beans

Hello lovely people 😉 I haven’t done a post in an age, even though there are quite a few drafts just waiting here for my attention – oops! This one is a very handy and tasty one pot wonder which is enough for four for a light lunch or brunch or two hungry people for dinner!

2 tblsp olive oil

1 red onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, crushed

1 red pepper, chopped

2 portobello mushrooms, chopped

1 tsp italian dried herb mix

1 tsp tomato puree

2 tins cherry tomatoes

2 tins cannellini beans, drained

handful of baby spinach leaves

4 large eggs

salt pepper and grated parmesan

Heat the oil in a large shallow pan – I love using my cast iron 30cm pan which comes with a lid and is probably my favourite piece of kitchen equipment. Add the onion, garlic, mushrooms, pepper and season, allowing the veg to soften but not colour too fast.

Add the dried herbs, puree, tinned tomatoes and beans and stir to combine, allowing them to simmer for a few minutes. Follow by adding the spinach, more than you think you need as it shrinks to nothing! Once the veg base has reduced a small bit and is looking good – about five minutes, make 4 wells and crack an egg into each. Season and let this gently simmer with the lid on (use a baking tin if your pan doesn’t have a lid) until the eggs are set – about five minutes.

Sprinkle with parmesan and serve with toast.

or bacon on the side 🙂

Butternut Squash Bean Bake

This recipe is based on one from Ashley Rodriguez and her lovely book Date Night In, which is full of lovely decadent ideas. I have adapted it somewhat for a weekday night to serve squash and beans without using a tin of tomatoes! Full of autumn flavours and if you use the frozen squash, or even one that is in the bottom of your fridge, practically storecupboard friendly. While she goes all out with crispy shallot crumbs, I have included panko here, which is more doable on a weeknight, though the shallot crumbs are delectable. I’ve also tried it with rosemary which I love, so feel free to use either.

I do confess to having frozen squash and frozen diced onions for emergencies in my freezer – yes I am a heathen. But sometimes it may just be the difference in getting something on the table and not 🙂 This serves four very generously indeed!

500g butternut squash (I have used a bag of frozen squash with great success – it’s very handy and cuts out the chopping of a weekday)

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

2 tins of cannellini beans, drained and rinsed (butter beans work well too if that’s what you have)

150-200mls double cream (decadent I know!)

2 tblsp of fresh sage or rosemary, minced

a grating of nutmeg (if you have it)

50g cheddar, grated(plus optional extra tblsp for topping)

100g panko breadcrumbs, to top

salt and pepper to season

oil for cooking


Start by preheating your oven to 180 and roasting your cubes of squash on a parchment lined tray for 20 minutes – they don’t need to be totally cooked through, but not like bullets. Set aside and leave the oven on if you’ll be popping the casserole in again. Butter a casserole dish – a small lasagne sized one is perfect for this.


Then heat a spoon of oil in a large sauté pan and gently fry the onion until softened. Then add in the garlic and stir for a minute or two. Now add the beans and the herb of choice, followed by the squash and stir gently to combine. Stir in the cream (you want it to be quite creamy so it doesn’t dry out while baking) and bring to a gentle simmer for a few minutes.

Add the cheddar, season well and turn off the heat. Stir gently, before decanting into the prepared casserole dish. Top with the panko and some cheddar if you like and bake for 15-20 minutes in the oven until golden and bubbling.

Slow Cooker Swedish Style Meatballs

These are handy little fellas for a weekday arsenal. I make the double batch as listed below and freeze half. Then I can defrost the leftovers and reheat gently in the pan. A handy way to prep them is to make up the meatballs the day before, then hop them off the pan (two minutes literally) in the morning and leave them on all day. The recipe makes about 35 or so meatballs, large walnut sized, serving four. The original recipe is in BBC Good Food magazine, but I have adapted it a little here, in terms of quantity and the addition of dill plus the slow cooker option.

1 small onion chopped

150g breadcrumbs

400g lean pork mince

400g turkey mince

nutmeg, grated

1 tblsp of chopped flatleaf parsley

1 tblsp of chopped fresh dill

2 tblsp plain flour plus extra to dust the meatballs

2 tblsp butter

500ml beef stock (I used a knorr stock pot)

4 tblsp cream

oil for frying the meatballs

Begin by blitzing the pork, turkey, onion, breadcrumbs, herbs, nutmeg and salt and pepper in a food processor. Pulse until combined but not a paste! Roll into small meatballs (I like to do this on a large piece of parchment paper on my counter to minimise the raw meat spatter everywhere)

Dust with flour (if you are prepping in advance, leave the flour until just before you are browning them in the pan so they don’t get that weird pasty coating in the fridge)

Heat the oil and brown the meatballs in two batches, it will take only a few seconds in a hot pan – this is mostly all aesthetic plus it locks in a little flavour, otherwise they will look as grey as a Monday afternoon in February and entirely unappetising to eat. The first ones will be coloured up nicely by the time you make your way around the pan. Transfer them directly to your slow cooker pot.

Now melt the butter in the pan, adding the flour when it starts to foam, letting it cook for a minute or two.

Slowly add the stock, whisking all the time.

Let it bubble for a few minutes until it thickens, then add in the cream and stir.

Pour over the meatballs and set to low for six hours.

Serve with mash or pasta or rice is lovely too.


Super Easy Satay Drizzle


I wondered what else I could title this post to convince you all to make this sauce! It is really easy and can be used for lots of things. A drizzle over grilled  chicken, a dip for satay sticks, a salad dressing or to finish off a stir fry. Even use it to dip vegetable sticks or a spoon 😊 – you will find no judgement here!


The recipe below makes about 150-200ml depending on how you thin it out and since it will last in the fridge you can certainly double it.

4 tblsp peanut butter (I use one without added salt, sugar or oil)

2tblsp rice wine vinegar

2 tblsp reduced sodium soy sauce

1 tblsp maple syrup

2 tblsp sriracha

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp garlic powder

pinch sea salt

warm water to thin, as required

Mix all ingredients carefully in a bowl until well combined and voila! Add water spoon by spoon until you get your desired consistency. I usually add 3-4 tablespoons, which thins it out nicely.

To make the chicken skewers, I marinated some fillets cut into strips lengthwise in some sriracha and soy. I then threaded them onto presoaked wooden skewers and grilled them until cooked through. Beware packing the chicken on to tightly or it will take longer to cook!


Ricotta Pancakes with Peaches and Honey Butter

This is a little celebratory breakfast dish for the long weekend as Treacle turns 1! There are a few more steps to this one but I promise it will be worth it. The pancakes are light and fluffy and peaches are one of my favourite fruits if they are ripe (if they are mediocre you can sub them for another fruit or pan fry them briefly) The browned honey butter is fully credited to Deb Perelman and if you haven’t tasted it, well you have been missing out in the most major of ways!

Makes around 12


250g ricotta
4 eggs separated
180ml milk
2 tblsp melted butter
200g flour
1tsp baking powder
25g sugar
1 peach sliced into wedges

Honey butter:

113 g butter

2tblsp honey

flaky sea salt

First make the honey butter. Melt half the butter in a small saucepan, letting it melt, then go nut brown and allowing it to smell nutty and delicious but not burn. It may not win any beauty contests but it will be amazing. Let it cool, not to solid state but it needs to be cool as you’re going to add it back in to the other half.  Now take the other half of the butter at room temperature and whip it until it’s pale and creamy and then gradually add in the brown butter beating all the time and then add in the honey. Scoop into a small container and top with a little salt and leave in the fridge to chill.

Now the pancakes!

Beat the ricotta, egg yolks, sugar, milk and melted butter in a bowl. In a separate bowl mix the flour and baking powder.


Add the dry ingredients into the ricotta mixture and mix well to combine. Now in a bowl, whisk the egg whites until soft peaks form. Gently fold them into the batter.

Heat a large non stick pan and use a very small bit of oil. I don’t cook these over a really high heat – medium/low works better so they don’t burn. Spoon the batter into the preheated pan and cook for one to two minutes until firm and fluffy then flip over and cook the other side. Repeat for the rest while you keep the batch warm in the oven.

Pan fry your sliced peaches in smidge of butter if they are not amazing. If they are fab just leave them be.☺

Serve a stack of pancakes with fruit and a pat of honey butter on top and resist the urge not to share with your family! Have a lovely bank holiday weekend!




Kimchi Pancakes


Kimchi is a fabulously tasty Korean staple made from fermented salted vegetables, usually chinese cabbage. It has hugely grown in popularity since the discovery of the benefits of fermented foods, so that it’s very easy to buy a jar (no I will not force you to make your own!) It is traditionally served alongside Korean dishes and rice bowls and in pancakes but now finds its way in lots of  dishes including scrambled eggs, pimping a fried-egg-on-rice, salads, burgers, cheese toasties but here today is my simple version of a kimchi pancake.

100g kimchi, chopped

200g finely chopped/grated vegetables – I used peppers, scallions, courgettes and carrots, sometimes a little coriander

3 tblsp kimchi juice

120g flour

2 eggs

1-2 tsp sesame seeds

Oil for frying the pancakes

First of all get to chopping and grating your vegetables and mix them in a medium sized bowl. I grate the courgette and carrot and finely chop the peppers as grating peppers grates on my sanity quite literally. Chop the kimchi and mix it together with the vegetables.

Now beat the two eggs together with the kimchi juice.

Mix into the vegetables, until combined.

Now add in the flour and mix well.

Heat the oil in a frying pan and spoon mounds of the mix into the hot pan (careful!) they take two to three minutes each side or so to cook through and colour so keep an eye.


This pancake can also be cooked whole in one go and then sliced into wedges – it is more difficult to flip!


Serve with a dipping sauce, something like soy with a dash of rice wine vinegar and sesame oil works well here with some sesame seeds (toasted or otherwise) for good measure



Mini Strawberry Bakewells

These little beauties are a sort-of version of something I remember baking with my Nana when I was really tiny. She called them chelsea buns but I don’t think they were. We would bake treacle bread, buns, soda bread and cakes in her red formica kitchen and I can remember so clearly her hands deftly forming the pastry and making it look like the easiest thing in the world.

I have taken a short cut here by using a roll of ready made pastry – this means you can have these babies in the oven in about six or seven minutes flat! It’s also a handy solution to the request to bake something from the kids as they can throw it together before they lose interest in the process!

I packet of shortcrust pastry – 320g sheet works well here (there will be a bit leftover)

100g ground almonds

100g butter, softened

1 large egg

100g caster sugar

1.5 tblsp plain flour (and some extra to roll out the pastry)

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

A small handful of berries (vague but look at the pictures, you need less than 100g of berries to fill these bun tins!)

1 tblsp flaked almonds

I roll out the sheet, sprinkling a little flour to prevent sticking and stamp out 12 discs using a 9cm cutter, placing them in a good old fashioned bun tray. A handy tip – roll out the sheet using the paper underneath and a touch of flour on top, then when you cut out the discs place them upside down in the tray (flour side down) so there will be no sticking. This will make them easy to take out.

Now beat the egg, caster sugar, flour, vanilla and ground almonds together until smooth and spoon into each of the cases – don’t worry too much about smoothing it out, it will all be grand.

Add your chopped fruit of choice – I have used chopped strawberries here, but blackberries, raspberries, blueberries (no real need to shop these) or a mix of berries are all fantastic. You really don’t need that many and it’s a great use of a few lonely ones in your fridge.

Sprinkle with a few flaked almonds and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Cool for a moment in the tray before removing carefully to a rack. They are pretty fantastic warm too. They freeze well and so can be made in advance and thawed and reheated for a few minutes in the oven to revive.