Category Archives: Friday Food Blog

Amaretti and Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Amaretti and Raspberry Brownies

You know you’ve had a nice meal when you try and recreate it the next day…  This is what happened when I went to Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Jamie’s Italian a few years ago and chose the Chocolate, Amaretti and Raspberry Brownie for pudding.  I’m not usually a big dessert fan but this was particularly good.  The following day, still thinking about the rich, gooey deliciousness of those brownies, I searched the internet for a recipe.  I couldn’t find anything that came close.  Not even on Jamie Oliver’s website.  Not to be deterred I figured I’d make up my own and they worked surprisingly well.  I dread to think how many calories there are in them, but they’re a delicious treat, nice enough to serve as dinner party pudding with a quenelle of ice cream and a swipe of raspberry coulis (if you like pretending you’re on Masterchef)

Amaretti and Raspberry Chocolate Brownies

Makes 12.

300g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids is best)
300g butter
4 free range eggs
350g caster sugar
100g plain flour
100g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
100g Amaretti biscuits (crushed into bite sized pieces)
200g raspberries (halved)

Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Line a 35cm x 25cm baking tin with parchment.

Break up 225g of the chocolate and place in a glass bowl over a pan of boiling water (bain-marie).  The boiling water shouldn’t touch the bottom of the bowl.

When the chocolate has melted remove the bowl from the heat and allow to cool.

Cream the butter & sugar together till light and fluffy.
Weigh out the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder into a seperate bowl.
Whisk the eggs in another bowl then add slowly to the butter and sugar mix, sifting in a little of the flour mix to stop curdling.
When the eggs are mixed, sift in the remaining flour, cocoa and baking powder and stir well.
Fold in the melted chocolate, crushed amaretti biscuits (reserving a handful for the top) and raspberries.
Chop the remaining chocolate into pieces and add them into the mixture.
Spoon into the baking tin and level off.
Sprinkle the reserved crushed amaretti biscuits on the top.
Bake in the oven for 45 mins (check after 40mins).  The middle should still be soft (an inserted knife won’t come out clean but it shouldn’t have raw mixture on it either).
Allow to cool in the tin and when still slightly warm cut into squares to serve.

Big Fat Quiche


Quiches from the supermarket are usually pretty disappointing – thin, floppy, soggy things with crimped edges in nasty foil trays (shouldn’t they be called tarts anyway?!).  It’s so much better when a quiche is thick and satisfying with lots of flavour – a proper meal!  I like to make mine in a large deep lasagne dish so it can be served in big wedges and the leftovers are really good the next day (I have been known to have it for breakfast)!

Big Fat Broccoli and Cheddar Quiche

For the pastry…

8 oz plain flour
4 oz wholemeal flour
1 tsp baking powder
6 oz butter

Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

Add the butter by chopping in with a knife first then rubbing with your fingers until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

Add water to combine and make a soft dough.

Knead just enough to bring it together (you don’t want to handle it too much).

Leave to rest in the fridge for half an hour.

*Note: you can always add more water but you can’t take it away.  If you overdo it the pastry can’t be saved so add the water a little at a time.

For the filling…

2 regular onions cut into fine slices
1 large head of broccoli
350g mature cheddar
10 eggs
1 pint of milk
whole nutmeg

Pre-heat oven to 140°C.

Heat some oil in a large saucepan/casserole pot then add the onions.  Sweat (low heat, lid on) for ten minutes.

Cut the broccoli into small florets.  The stalk is really tasty too so don’t waste it, you can remove the thick skin by taking a tag with a knife and peeling back – this will help it cook quicker.  Add the broccoli pieces to the pan and and sweat with the onions for 20 mins or until the broccoli is soft, adding more oil to stop it sticking if you need to.

Meanwhile roll out the pastry and line your dish then blind bake for 15 mins or until the base is lightly cooked.

Remove the dish from the oven and turn up the heat to 190°C.

Grate 200g of the cheese onto the base of the pastry.

Break the eggs into a large bowl and whisk.  Add the milk and season with some grated nutmeg and fresh ground pepper (mature cheddar is pretty salty so I don’t usually add salt to this).  Mix well.

When the broccoli is soft, add the vegetables to the grated cheese, then pour in the egg mixture.

Grate the remaining cheese on top then bake in the oven for 40 mins.

Veggie Chilli

Veggie Chilli

It’s Friday, it’s the food blog and there’s a weekend of fireworks and Guy Fawkes celebrations ahead, so here’s a delicious veggie chilli recipe to have with the spuds you baked in the embers of your bonfire (or rice, if it’s raining and Strictly’s on the telly)…

Veggie Chilli

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 regular onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 red chilli, finely chopped (seeds removed if you want it less hot)
1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp mild chilli powder
2 tbsp tomato puree
2 tins chopped tomato (I like to use tinned whole plum tomatoes as I find they break down quicker, esp if you remove the hard stalk end)
2 tins of different beans (kidneys beans are popular for chilli but I prefer cannellini, haricot, black eye and butter beans)
1 tsp demerara sugar
salt flakes

To serve (optional)…

sour cream or natural yoghurt
fresh coriander
tortilla chips

Heat some oil in a large saucepan/casserole pot then add the onions.  Sweat (low heat, lid on) for ten minutes then add the garlic and chilli and sweat for another five minutes.

Chop the pepper into bite sized pieces and add to the pan when the onion is soft and clear.  Put the lid back on and sweat for another five minutes.

When the peppers are starting to soften add the spices, stir well and allow to heat through then add the tomato puree.  Turn the heat up and stir till sizzling then add the chopped tomatoes, fill an empty can of water and add roughly half, then add the beans, salt and sugar.

When nice and hot turn the heat down low, put the lid on and cook slowly for half an hour.  You can serve straight away but the flavour improves over time so, if you can wait, place in a pre-warmed oven on low (160°C/Gas 3/fan oven 140°C) to bubble away for an hour and the beans will be melt-in-your mouth tasty.

Pumpkin, Carrot & Lentil Soup


This week for the Friday food blog it has to be pumpkin soup!  The clocks have gone back, it’s Halloween tomorrow and there are pumpkins piled in every shop doorway.   Far too nice for just scaring kids this lovely fruit (yep, it’s actually a berry) is begging to be saved and turned into something delicious.  Pumpkin soup is my daughter’s favourite and she’s been asking me to teach her to make it for years.  It’s one of those recipes where I just throw things in a pan so it’s been a great exercise to write everything down for a change!

Before I start there are two very important things you need to know about soup…

  1. Soup is very simple.  Sweat some veg till soft, add some stock, whizz up and you’ve got a soup – it’s good to experiment and not get too hung up on weights and measures.
  2. If you want your soup to taste homemade you really should make your own stock.  Bought chicken stock is understandable but vegetable stock cubes are horrible and will just make your soup taste shop-bought.  Making your own stock is simple, cheap and makes a world of difference!

Pumpkin, Carrot & Lentil Soup

Firstly make a stock.
Stock should be a simple base, complimenting the soup you’re making without being overpowering.  Start with a large pan of water on a high heat and add…

Stock2 carrots
1 onion
1 celery stick
1 leek
1 bay leaf
A sprig of parsley
6 peppercorns

The amounts and types of vegetables can vary depending on what you have in the house.  I add my vegetable peelings – onion peelings are great for adding a depth of colour and flavour and carrot and pumpkin peelings are better in the water than wasted (garlic, ginger, potato and parsnip peelings don’t work so well for this).

For the soup you’ll need…

1 large onion finely chopped
2 garlic cloves
1 tsp finely grated fresh ginger
2 large carrots
1 medium pumpkin
125g split red lentils
half a lemon

Pre-heat oven to 200°C.

Once your stock is simmering cut the pumpkin in half and take out the seeds and stringy flesh (you can clean, dry and roast the seeds with a dash of olive oil if you want a tasty snack).  Cut the halves in half again and repeat so that you have eight slices.  Place on a baking tray, drizzle with oil and roast in the oven for 25 minutes.

While the pumpkin is roasting put another large pan on the hob, heat some oil and add your onion.  Sweat the onion (high heat when added then turn down to low-med with a lid on) for ten minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the crushed garlic and grated ginger.  Continue to cook through for another five minutes until your onions are clear and soft.

Cut your carrots into small pieces then add to the onions.  Stir and leave to sweat for fifteen minutes or until soft.

Weigh out the lentils and rinse in cold water (occasionally you can find small stones in lentils, it’s only happened to me once but worth keeping an eye out for!)

Add the lentils to the onions with one litre of the stock (you can replenish the stock pan with fresh water if it’s running dry).

When the pumpkin is roasted place on a board and remove the flesh from the skins.  Add the flesh to the pan of vegetables and lentils.  Give the pan a good stir, cover and leave to simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are soft and starting to break up.

Remove your soup from the heat and whizz up with a hand blender until smooth.  If it seems too thick ladle in some more stock until it is a nice creamy consistency (I added another 200ml).

Season with salt to taste (salt should be added at the end for this soup as any earlier and it can mean your lentils stay tough).

Stir in a tablespoon of lemon juice and serve.


Friday Food Blog: The (It’s Better Than Paul Hollywood’s) Apple Cake

Apple Cake PhotoI know it’s a bit naughty, and of course it’s subjective, but I’ve got to tell you, the Dorset Apple cake in Paul Hollywood’s British Baking book is definitely not as tasty.  I even made both, on the same day, under strict scientific conditions (actually I didn’t, I made them both in a rush, early one Sunday morning to feed *bribe the volunteers who were coming to a work party at our local community orchard).  Paul’s recipe was nice enough but it was denser, drier, paler and less fragrant when baking in the oven.  I left it at home for the kids.  They didn’t complain of course and it was gone when I got back.  Apple cake is a winner whichever recipe you use!  This one has been tweaked from a recipe that was scribbled on a scrap of paper in a drawer at the restaurant where I used to work.  It started life as a wholemeal cake which crumbled when you cut it and was perfect for feeding birds.  Now it’s my daughter’s favourite cake, requested for her birthday and the first recipe in the Friday Food Blog.  Don’t be fooled by its wholesome, ordinary appearance, it’s a lovely thing.  A perfect comfort food which is simple to make and particularly nice still warm with custard.

The (It’s Better Than Paul Hollywood’s) Apple Cake

4oz butter
6oz light soft brown sugar
2 free range eggs
8oz plain white flour
1 tsp ground mixed spice
2 tsp baking powder
1 x large cooking apple

Pre-heat oven to 180°C.

Cream the butter & sugar together till light and fluffy.
Weigh out all dry ingredients.
Add eggs slowly to the butter and sugar mix, using a bit of the dry ingredients to stop curdling.
Add remaining dry ingredients.
Fold in the apple (peeled and chopped into smallish pieces).
Add enough milk to make it dropping consistency (approx. 70ml).
Turn into one round 8” tin lined on the bottom with a circle of baking parchment.
Sprinkle top with demerara sugar.
Bake for 1 hour.