Category Archives: Recipe

Halloween cake toppers

Last week I ran a Halloween cake decorating workshop for some local primary school children aged 4 – 10. These classes are always popular. At the beginning of the class I demonstrated four different topper: ghosts, pumpkin, beetle and mummy. All the children had a go at making their own versions. Rather than using buttercream we used glace icing allowing the topper to take centre stage.

All of these toppers are quick and easy to make. Instructions for the bugs can be found here, pumpkins here and mummies here. The spiderwebs is simply feathered icing. To see all the pictures from the workshop see the facebook album.

One of the simplest and most effective to make are the ghosts. All you need is some white sugarpaste, small amount of black sugarpaste, rolling pin and an egg box.

Sugarpaste Ghosts

white sugarpaste

small amount of black sugarpaste

rolling pin

egg box

1) Take a golf ball sized piece of icing and roll it out until around 5mm thick.

2) Roll three tiny pieces of black sugarpaste into balls and squash onto the white where you want the eyes and mouth to go.

3) Lightly roll over the black icing to help it stick.

4) Form the ghost over the raised part on an egg box. Leave to dry for 60 min before topping cake.

You can see ghosts on an egg box in this picture.


Olympic Cookery Club – Tikka Paneer Kebabs

Assembling the kebabs

This term in cookery club we have been looking at recipes from around the world to link in with the olympics. So far we’ve made Anzac biscuits, Enchiladas, and Strawberry Trifle. This week we have made Tikka Paneer Kebabs. Most of the children in the class hadn’t tried paneer before and I think I may have converted some of them. Personally I love paneer and use it more than meat in curries. It is quite a tasteless cheese, but it takes on flavours so well, similar to tofu. Unlike most other cheese it retains its shape and doesn’t melt so it makes it perfect for threading on to a kebab.

Making the marinade

This recipe is also a wonderful way to encourage eating a rainbow. They can be cooked in the oven, on the BBQ or under a grill. I also roast trays of  the mixture in the oven (without threading it on to a kebab stick). Perfect hot or cold. It’s particularly good mixed in with a bit of rice and a sweet chilli sauce.

Preparing the vegetables

Kebab sticks should always be used with care. Rather than getting the children to thread the pieces onto the kebab stick using their hands I encourage them to put the piece they want to thread on to the chopping board then work the piece up the stick so the sharp point is always pointing downwards. See this blog post for seeing ways of cutting vegetables without using sharp knives.

Cross curricular links (geared towards KS2) :

  • Maths -sharing, sequences. If you had 3 different vegetables how many different combinations can you make on the kebab stick?
  • RE & Citzenship – Why are some people and faiths vegetarian?
  • Geography – Where do the different vegetables come from?
  • Science / Food Techonology – Why should we try to eat a rainbow of fruit & vegetables?

Tikka Paneer Kebabs
Based on Tandoor – style paneer tikka kebabs by Vegetarian Society
makes 4 kebabs

125g (1/2 block) of paneer

75g plain yoghurt

2 tsp tikka curry powder

juice of 1/2 lemon

2 tomatoes

1/2 yellow pepper

1/2 large courgette


1) In a bowl mix together the yoghurt, lemon juice and tikka curry powder.

2) Cut the paneer into 8 large chunks. Keep the pieces big or they can break up when being threaded onto the kebab stick. Mix the paneer in with the yoghurt and leave to marinate while you prepare the vegetables.

3) Cut the vegetables into chunks.

4) Thread the vegetables and paneer onto a kebab stick. Place on a lightly oiled baking tray.

5) Bake at 210° for 15-20 min or until cooked. Serve hot or cold.

Olympic Cookery Club – Enchiladas

With a particular school cookery club I run where possible the things we cook are linked to the school’s topics. Unsurprisingly this term the theme is Olympics. As we will have 5 sessions of cookery club and there is 5 continents taking part in the Olympics we will be cooking recipes from the different continents over the term. First we we made Anzac Biscuits and this week we are making Enchiladas.

One of the aims of cookery club is to cook foods that some of the children may be unfamiliar with. This provides a safe environment to experiment with food and see what they like. I know some of the pupils this week haven’t tried enchiladas before. This recipe is based on a great Delia recipe with a few tweaks to make it suitable for cookery club. While yes they are best eaten fresh, I had the leftovers for lunch today that were simply reheated in the microwave. Still delicious if you ask me!

Based on Delia’s Mexican Enchiladas with Cheese
Serves 1 as a main or 2 as a snack

½ a 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
2 spring onions, chopped
2 heaped tablespoons coriander leaves, chopped
Juice of ½ lime
salt and pepper
2 large flour tortillas
80g grated cheese
100 ml half-fat crème fraîche

1) Tip the tomatoes into a bowl then mix in half the chopped spring onion, chopped coriander leaves and lime juice. Season with salt and pepper.

2) Place one tortilla on a flat surface and spread a tablespoon of tomato mix over it, but not quite to the edges. Sprinkle over a heaped tablespoon of the cheese, then follow this with a tablespoon of the crème fraîche.

3) Roll the tortilla up and place it in a baking dish with the sealed-side down. I recommend lining the pan with baking parchment as the tortillas can stick to the pan otherwise. Repeat this with the other tortilla.

4) Spread the remaining crème fraîche on top of the tortillas in the dish along with the rest of the tomatoes over the top, then sprinkle with the leftover cheese & spring onions.

5) Place the dish in the oven and bake at 180°c for 25-30 min.

World Maths Day – Butterfly Cakes

March 7th is World Maths Day where children all over the world can compete against each other in maths challenges. Cooking is a great way to introduce and practice maths or as some of my pupils will tell you a way of learning maths without realising it.

This particular recipe is a great way to demonstrate various types of maths:

  • weighing & measuring
  • reading scales – both the weighing scales and temperature.
  • ratios – the buttercream is 1 part butter : 2 parts sugar
  • arrays – how many ways can you arrange the cake cases to show an array of 12?
  • division – how much of each ingredient do you need per cake?
  • Scaling up and down – How much of each ingredient do you need for 6 or 24 cakes?

Butterfly cakes
Makes 12

120g caster sugar

120g softened butter or Stork

2 large eggs

120g self raising flour

1 tsp vanilla extract


100g butter, softened

200g icing sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tbsp milk

hundreds & thousands (optional)

1) Line a bun tin with 12 fairy cake liners. Preheat oven to 190°c.

2) In a bowl cream together the butter and sugar until it is light and fluffy.

3) Stir the eggs into the fluffy mixture one at a time. Don’t worry if it begins to look curdled. Add a tbsp of the flour before adding the next egg.

4) Fold in the flour and vanilla extract. Once the mixture is combined spoon into the cake liners.

5) Bake for 15 minutes until risen and golden. Once cooked, take out of the tin and cool on a wire rack.

6) To make the buttercream beat the butter to make it soft then beat in half of the icing sugar. Then add the remaining half of icing sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

7) Once cakes have cooled use a teaspoon to cut out the butterfly ‘wings’. Place a dessertspoon of the buttercream in the hole then decorate with the cake wings and hundreds & thousands.

Frugal Food – Lentil Ragu

Lentil ragu has been a staple in this household for a few years. Not only is it great for using up left over vegetables, it uses storecupboard ingredients, it’s cheap and goes with so many other foods. There is a basic formula to this recipe, but it can be easily tweaked. Sometimes I add bacon, sometimes not. Sometimes I use beef stock, sometimes it’ll be vegetable stock. It all really depends on what is available in the house.

I use lentils a great deal in food. They are a fantastic way to bulk meals out cheaply. Don’t tell carnivore husband, but I have been known to use lentils to bulk out meat dishes like bolognaise. I use a combination of both green and red lentils in this recipe mostly for texture. The red ones break down during the cooking process while the green ones have more of a bite. They green ones also have a slightly different taste, almost nuttier. When it comes to the green lentils there is Lentille Vert (also called Puy lentils) which are more expensive or green lentils. In this recipe normal green lentils are perfect.

This recipe can also be transformed into other dishes. With a sprikle of chilli powder, cumin and pinch of cinnamon along with a tin of kidney beans you have a lentil chilli. It also goes well with not only pasta but rice and couscous. The dish freezes well and the flavour improves the day after making it.

Lentil Ragu
Serves 4-6

1 onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, minced

150 g red lentils

150 g green lentils

125 ml red wine (if not using replace with stock)

1 tbsp tomato purée

250 ml beef or vegetable stock

2 x tins chopped tomatoes

splash of Worcestershire sauce

handful of other sliced vegetables e.g. carrots, mushrooms, pepper

1 TBSP mixed herbs

salt & pepper (to taste)

1) In a deep saucepan fry off the onion in a small amount of olive oil until onions have softened.

2) Add the garlic fry for a minute on a medium heat then stir in the lentils.

3) Pour in the wine and boil for a few minutes until liquid has reduced by half.

4) Add the remaining ingredients then simmer for 45-60 minutes.



Apple & Date Oaty Bites – Farmhouse Breakfast Week

Starting on Sunday 22nd January is Farmhouse Breakfast Week. It is about the importance of breakfast and their website gives some great ideas for breakfast. To help celebrate Farmhouse Breakfast Week, for the next fortnight in Cookery Club we are making Apple & Date Oaty Bites based on this recipe for Oaty Apple & Orange Squares.

The dried fruit in them could easily be swapped for different dried fruit. I’ve altered the sugar in the recipe slightly to compensate for the fact that unsweetened apple sauce is impossible to find here. Usually I’m all for using basic/value products in baking as more often than not the quality is no different to the normal brand, however in this case don’t use value apple sauce as the apple content is significantly lower and the sugar content higher than usual brands.

Apple & Date Oaty Bites
Makes 12 

75g butter, softened

50g Demerara sugar

60g apple sauce

100g oats

40g dates, chopped

1) Cream together the butter and sugar.

2) Stir in the apple sauce, oats and dates.

3) Place dessertspoonl mounds of the mixture on to a lined baking tray then flatten with the back of the spoon until around 1.5cm thick.

4) Bake at 180°c for 15-20 min until oaty bites are golden. Allow to cool and harden on tray before eating.

Christmas Welsh Cakes

For the last two weekends I’ve had a stall at Betty’s Farm Shop, near Willington. On Saturday, as a way of showing how you can use Betty’s eggs in festive cooking I made Welsh Cakes with a  festive twist. For those who don’t know what a Welsh Cake is, it is like a scone but richer due to the eggs and cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven. They are particularly good warm with a bit of butter.

They went down so well here is the recipe. Usually they are made with white sugar but these are made with soft dark sugar. This helps give the darker colour and subtle molasses taste that is so common in Christmas baking.  If required the dough can be refrigerated for up to 12 hours before cooking.

If you are around Willington this Saturday pop in to say hello and get to taste these festive Welsh Cakes.

Christmas Welsh Cakes
Makes 15

225g self-raising flour

110g butter

75g soft brown sugar

75g dried mixed fruit and flaked almonds

1 tsp mixed spice

1 egg

1) Rub together the butter and flour.

2) Mix in the sugar, spice, fruit and nuts.

3) Stir in the egg until the ingredients are well combined and form a dough. If needed add a splash of milk.

4) On a floured surface roll out the dough until it is about 5mm thick.

5) Cut out 5cm rounds (or other shapes).

6) Heat frying pan on a low medium heat. No oil is required. Cook for 2-3 min each side until cake is cooked.

Mummified Sausages

I first saw this idea on the wonderful site that is Pinterest. All the recipes I saw used hog dog sausages so with a bit of tweeking this recipe uses traditional sausages. These have gone down very well in classes, I’ve seen some very inventive bandaging on the sausages! While yes it links to Halloween and Bonfire Night we have also been looking at food safety (hygiene when touching raw meat) and looking at how we can divide ingredients equally.

Mummified Sausages
Makes 40 

40 cocktail sausages

1 pack of ready rolled puff pastry (375g)

1 egg, beaten

mayonnaise, ketchup or mustard for eyes.

1) Unroll the pastry then cut into quarters then cut each quarter into 10 strips.

2) Take a strip of pastry and stretch it slightly to make it longer and thinner.

3) Pick up a sausage and wrap the pastry like mummy bandages.

4) Place on a lined baking tray and brush with beaten egg.

5) Bake at 180oc for 15-20 until pastry is risen and golden.

6) Using a cocktail stick dab it in the mayonnaise (or your choice of sauce) and dab on the sausage to make eyes.


Back to school lunchbox baking

Schools are beginning to go back now and I’m sure some parents are wondering where on earth the summer holidays went. While doing some research on ideal school lunches I came across a fantastic resource on School Food Trust. They have three-week lunchbox menus and recipes that comply with the strict SFT nutritional standards for primary aged children. There is three sets of menus: low cost, low preparation and vegetarian. I’ve found the menus inspiring and have even tried some of the ideas for myself. These chocolate bran flake slices are the second piece of baking I’ve tried from the resource. I can also recommend the carrot and apricot cakes that appear in the printout. The standards give the advice that packed lunched should include:

  • at least one portion of fruit or veg everyday
  • meat, fish or other source of non-dairy protein everyday
  • oily fish once every three weeks
  • a starchy food everyday
  • a dairy food everyday
Also no:
  • Snacks such as crisps. Instead nuts, seeds, veg, fruit. Savory crackers or breadsticks served with fruit.
  • Confectionary such as chocolate bars, chocolate-coated biscuits and sweets. Cakes and biscuits are allowed, but encouraged only as part of a balanced meal.
  • Highly processed meat products such as pies, corned meat and sausage rolls. Chipolatas can be included occasionally.

As the recipes featured in the pack are based on the nutritional standards you will notice that in this recipe butter is replaced with 60% fat spread. This is to keep both cost and fat content now. I know I’ve spotted the huge hike in ingredient prices recently.These chocolatey bites come out at a frugal 8p per serving (as of August ’11)l. The best way I can describe them taste wise is that they are like slightly dry, crumbly brownies. We will be making these at one of the Cookery Clubs I run and I think the pupils will be pleasantly surprised how nice they are!

Chocolate Bran Flake Slice
Makes 16
From School Food Trust

200g 60% fat spread (most light butter spreads are 60%) of course it will work with butter, but will be higher calories.

125g granulated sugar

160g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

100g bran flakes

1) Preheat oven to 180°c. Cream the spread and sugar together until it is light and fluffy.

2) Stir in the flour and cocoa powder. The mixture can be quite stiff at this point but keep going until it is well mixed.

3) Fold in the bran flakes.

4) Line a 20cm x 20cm baking tin with baking parchment, then press mixture into the tin.

5) Bake for 35 min or until set.

6) Once cool cut into 16 squared. Store in airtight container.

Just note that these can be quite crumbly so eat over a plate or napkin.

Pasta making for beginners

Next week the Children’s Summer Cookery School I’m running begins. Each day has a different theme and one of these is Italian. It’s fair to say the children are very much looking forward to the day as we’ll be making pizza, focaccia, lemonade, ice cream and pasta. For one of the children it’s his 11th birthday and he’s so pleased he’ll making his favourite type of food on his birthday!

Part of my business ethos is to make food and cookery accessible to all and I want to show the children that you don’t need a pasta machine to make pasta. All you need is flour, egg and a rolling pin. You can make the dough directly on a clean table by making a well in the flour and cracking in the egg but as each child will be using a smaller quantity of flour we’ll be making it in bowls.

This recipe is great for fine motor skills and experimenting with shapes. The dough could also be dyed using different colours. By using spinach juice you can turn it green and tomato juice will turn it red.

If you have a pastry wheel cutter or a pizza cutter it does help with cutting the dough. Alternatively use a non-serated knife and rather than dragging the blade through the dough press the blade into the dough to cut. By making orecchiette shaped pasta (looks a bit like a red blood cell) you wouldn’t even need a knife. Just roll the dough into a small ball and make a thumb indent in the middle.  If you’re looking for a site showing different hand moulded pasta shapes I can highly recommend this site.

Egg Pasta

Makes around 130g fresh pasta 

80g plain or pasta ’00’ flour

1 egg

1) Mix together the egg and flour until you have a dough.

2) Knead the dough for 5 minutes then leave to rest for 10 minutes.

3) On a well floured surface roll the dough out until it is as thin as you can make it. Cut shapes and lengths from the dough. You could even use small biscuit/icing cutters if you wanted to different shapes. Flower shaped pasta anyone?

4) Either use fresh or allow to dry on a floured surface. When ready to cook boil in lightly salted water for 5-8 minutes.

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