Coconut Jam Sandwich Bars

Flicking through The Hummingbird Bakery: Cake Days book I was transported back to school days.  These biscuitty, jammy, coconutty, yummy things kept me going through many a maths lesson when I was at school and I was desperate to make some and see if I could re-enact days gone by.

Judging by the fact I have already eaten four, you will guess that they were every bit as scrummy.  And fairly easy to make.  The only tricky bit would be the meringue, but as I am blessed with a kitchenaid, this was not a problem.

I urge you to try them.  And if this means buying the book, then do so.  It is worth it for all the other delicious recipes that lie within, including the best vanilla cupcakes I've come across.

Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter

I don't often do reviews and this is not sponsored or anything like that, but I wanted to write about Lisa Faulkner's new recipe book 'Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter"

Lisa Faulkner is a model/actress and recently(ish) won Celebrity Masterchef.  It was during this series that I thought how nice she was and such a good cook!

Anyway, it was with great excitement that I saw she has recently released a book and last week Amazon duly dropped it at my door.

The introduction brought a tear to my eye.  The book is a testimony to her mother who died when Lisa was 16 and for her daughter, Billie, who was adopted after three failed IVF attempts.  It is this that, for me,  makes the book so poignant and although a recipe book, as you read it Lisa makes you feel like you are sharing a real history as well as some very well-loved dishes.

Aside from all this, the book is beautifully set out and full of very accessible recipes.  It is important for me that a recipe is 'do-able' for the everyday cook like me with a small kitchen and a temperamental oven.  And that the recipes are not too 'cheffy'.  The  recipes are something I could serve to the whole family without rasied eyebrows!

My first attempt was the Chicken and Mushroom Pot Pies.  Except I didn't have any pots, so I served it as one big pie!  The result was tasty, looked good and was consumed with gusto.

Next stop, Rice Krispie Chicken!

All Hail Nigella!

It is with much giggling I must tell you about the Power of Nigella!

Last week, circa Shrove Tuesday, I replied to a Nigella tweet, extolling the virtues of her pancakes.
Nigella retweeted this (gawd bless her).

My humble blog only averages about 20 hits a day.  After that retweet, in 24 hours, I had 953 blog hits!  

This has kept me smiling all week.

I am, naturally, back to normal now.  And this blog is, as I state to your right, just a little outlet for me and my questionable cooking.

So sincere thanks to my loyal followers and hello to the near thousand of you that checked in and promptly checked out again!

Poached Eggs #2

Yesterday was my birthday and I got a fabulous Imperia pasta machine and also the Julia Child cookery Bible 'Mastering the Art of French Cooking'.  It was to this I turned for poached egg advice.  Ah, Julia!  She came up trumps!  Following her instructions to the tbsp my results were much improved, in fact Husband said his egg was perfect!

Looked better 'in the flesh'.  Honestly...

Julia Child's recipe is:

  • Pour 2 inches of water into a 8/10" frying pan and bring to a simmer.  For every pint of water used add a tbsp of vinegar.
  • Break a fresh egg into a saucer and as close to the water as possible, let it fall in.  Immediately and gently push the white over the yolk with a wooden spoon for 3 secs.  Maintain the water at simmering point and repeat with any other eggs.
  • After 4 minutes remove egg with slotted spoon and test with finger - the white should be set and yolk soft to touch.
  • Place egg in cold water.  This washes off the vinegar and stops the egg cooking.

Hope this is useful!

Poached Eggs

I don't know what possessed me to try and cook poached eggs for breakfast.  Well, I do.  It was the Waitrose magazine coaxing me into trying one of those cheffy, swirly poached eggs that look so elegant.

Mine looked like this.

And this was my second attempt.  I did actually eat the first one, but it was practically hard boiled and in much the same stringy state as this one.

I am not sure what I'm doing wrong.  This frustrates me.  When I follow a recipe to the letter, why doesn't it work?  Water was simmering, water was swirled to the point of spinning over the sides of the pan, drops of vinegar in egg, egg slipped in to the middle....and instantly it dissipated throughout the water looking like I'd just sneezed egg white into the pan.

No doubt on another misguided day I will try again, but until then I will stick to these:

They might come out looking like a pair of boobs *sniggers* but at least they cook properly.

Packed Lunches

What is it about packed lunches that make me want to shut my head in the fridge?  At school they were a treat saved for school trips.  The trepidation I felt as I peeked inside my tuppaware box to see what my mother had rustled up, was second to none.  It was never anything to write home about, but to me it was wonderful and integral to the thrill of the the trip (only floored by the visit to the gift shop).

Today, packed lunches are the norm.  And I now have to make them for my 2 year old to take into nursery.  This is the same 2 year old that only eats weetabix.  She spent the last 5 months at nursery having their cooked lunches and never ate a thing.  I am sure they blame me for poor dietary habits, but the other two children were the same at that age, except with shreddies.  The health visitor assured me it was fine.  I was not so sure...

Anyway, undeterred I saw a book entitled 'Healthy Lunchboxes for Kids' which I guiltily bought in order to revolutionise my lunchbox packing skills.  Shouldn't have bothered.  I am a mother of three and I defy anyone to get their kids to eat 3 bean soup or pepper stuffed wraps for lunch, let alone have the time and equipment to prepare and store it all.  The only redeeming feature was that they used the same Cath Kidston tins that I have and they looked better than I thought.  I need a book entitled 'Packed lunches for kids who refuse to eat anything but wholegrain cereal'.  Now, that would be a useful addition to my heaving recipe bookshelves.  I'm afraid the other one is destined for next week's NCT sale....

If you have any normal suggestions to help me out please let me know!


I always have fads, and many of them cooking-related.  The last one was cupcakes.  I investigated courses, bought books, nozzles and piping bags galore and baked myself (and my family) up a dress size.

I still like making them, and would still like to go on a course so I can decorate them beautifully but a lately my attention has diverted to a different type of cuisine....

....Pasta.  I am not sure why, but I have got it about me to make my own pasta.  I have tried this before, and failed woefully.  Partially due to my dough and a lot due to my dodgy pasta machine.  So I now have my heart set on an Imperia pasta macine, as I gather these are the best?  If you know otherwise, please let me know!

I am a bit of a pasta snob.  Having cooked dried pasta for years, I moved on to fresh pasta ad now won't eat anything else.  I fear that the making of fresh pasta will exacerbate this further and soon that will be all I will allow.  I have already gone this way with pizza, as have my children who now tum their nose up at shop bought pizzas and demand Mummy's home-made version.   It is rather good, if I do say so myself, but this is down to the recipe and not the chef!  

Pizza Dough Recipe


  • 2 tsps dried yeast
  • 3 cups OO flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 cup + 2 tbsp warm water

Put all the ingredients into a mixer in the order above.  I use a kitchenaid and use the dough hook then mix on speed 2 for 7 minutes.  

If using a bread machine, simply put it on the dough cycle.  

For other mixers...or by hand, you'll have to use your intuition!

When it is elastic and the dough springs back when you poke it, put it in a greased bowl, cover with clingfilm and leave for at least half an hour to rise.

Divde the dough up as you wish.  I roll out mine to form a flat pizza base and roll up some to make doughballs.  Or I make a pizza for us and one each for the kids (see above).

Spread over the passata of your choice (I use pizza express) then sprinkle with grated mozzarella.  Add toppings of your choice and bake on 200ºC for about 10 mins, but check according to your oven.  The doughballs take a shorter amount of time.  You can buy garlic butter to dip them into or make your own!

Do try it - I have had nothing but compliments about my pizza and if you have a machine it is so easy to do.  I can't remember where I got the recipe was a random site found on google, never to be found again.  But it's a winner.

Let's hope I can find as good a pasta recipe....


Pancakes have lost their allure in my house.  Well, for me anyway.  This is mainly due to the fact that Husband cooks them most mornings for Eldest daughter who can wrap him around her little finger with one toothless smile.  Fear not though, we shall have them next Tuesday with tradition and jif lemon oozing from every pore.

Husband always makes the American style pancakes, akin to scotch pancakes in my opinion.  I prefer the more crepe-style ones; thinner, bigger and for me, much nicer to scoff!

Of course, the recipe I use for mine is a Nigella one...simple, quick and scrummy.  I always have them with lemon and sugar, but that's up to you.....

Ingredients taken from 'How to Eat' it is merely:

125g 'OO" flour (or plain if you like) 
300ml milk 
1 egg

Whisk them all up together and hey presto! (Nigella does have a bit more method than that, but I just whisk!).  She also recommends resting the batter; alas, I am far too hungry to do that and use it straight away.  One thing you must have (and I was told this method by a bona fide chef) is a hot, quality pan, else they'll stick.  Then, drizzle about a teaspoon of oil in it to get hot then using a big scrunchy ball of kitchen towel, I wipe it out so you are left with an almost invisible layer of oil coating the pan.  I repeat this roughly every 5 pancakes, depending on how much the previous pancake stuck!

Try to avoid this when tossing....

Happy eating!

Recipe Books

I got very excited yesterday when I saw that Lisa Faulkner's new cook book is half price on Amazon at the moment to pre-order!  I loved her on Masterchef and I always prefer people who aren't necessarily trained chefs but cook because they love it.  Like Nigella, who I also hear has a new book/series in the pipeline! VERY exciting!

So if, like me, you have an addiction to buying recipe books, why not try this one?  

I also treated myself to another recipe book.  The Book People do brilliant discount books and include new releases.  I ordered the hardback of Mrs Beeton's How to Cook - a modernised version of the Mrs Beeton classic. Released in October 2011 it is just £7.99 down from the rrp of £25.00.

Both Lorraine Pascale books are on there too for about £6.99.

Happy shopping!

Birthday Cake update

Copped out completely and ran out of time, patience and icing sugar.

The Cake...
...and the carnage

Birthday Cake

After much humming and hah-ing about what cake to make for my daughter's 2nd birthday I came up with a grassy knoll....

Not very exhilarating you may think, but atop it will be plonked, er carefully placed, Ben & Holly's castle.  I was going to make Gaston the ladybird from the same series, but there is no way I am going to be able to get to the shops for black and red gel in time unless Waitrose get here tout de suite.  So grassy knoll it is with a few toadstools and perhaps a mini Gaston to decorate.

If you don't have small children you will have no ides what I'm talking about, but suffice to say it's a pre-school TV program that is funny enough for adults to enjoy (due to a very sarcastic Nanny Plum) and Littlest loves it.

The recipe I am using is an old favourite - very easy to make and it really is the most moist, scrummy chocolate cake ever.  At every birthday party, people can't believe I made it.  I am never sure whether to take that as a compliment or not...

Anyway, it is, of course, a Nigella recipe from her book Feast.  I am wont to cheat and when time is tight use Betty Crocker instead of the given icing recipe, but shhh!  Don't tell!

For the cake:

200g plain flour
200g caster sugar
1tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarb of soda
40g best quality cocoa
175g soft, unsalted butter
2 large eggs (free range please!)
2 tsps vanilla extract (NOT essence!)
150ml sour cream


Preheat oven to 140ºC/gas mark 4.  Line two 20cm cake tins.

Bung all the ingredients into your kitchenaid/food processor and mix until you have a smooth, thick batter.  Divide between the two tins and bake for about 35 minutes but do check according to how your oven bakes (Mine new oven seems to cook very quickly and I take them out about 20-25 mins!).  I also put a small dish of water in the bottom of the oven to keep the sponge moist.
Leave to cool for 10 mins before turning them out of their tins and cooling on a wire rack.

I fill with 1/3 tub of Betty Crocker choc fudge icing and then splat the rest over the top.  Then leave as is, or decorate with flowers, mini-eggs, whatever takes your fancy!

My Easter cake, decorated by the kids!

Or, I have smoothed over some warmed apricot jam and then rolled icing to make a variety of party cakes.


Ah-ha!  I think I hear the soft rumble of a Waitrose van....Let the cake-making commence!