Category Archives: Recipes

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Lunchbox Challenge – Butternut Quiche

What would you put in your lunchbox? Maybe it’s a classic ham sandwich with a bag of crisps. Or perhaps you’re like some of the super healthy types in my office, with their steamed veggies that smell of old socks.

Here lies my problem, more often than not I’ll take a sandwich which tends to be limp, luke warm and just that little bit grim by the time I get to it. Usually, I’m by the vending machine an hour later fighting over my urge for a minty Aero, just to get a bit of taste in my mouth.

So I set myself a challenge, a blank canvas if you will,  to make a very different lunchbox.  I settle on making a butternut quiche all neatly packed together with a salad.

I guess that by now half of you are with me and have already gathered your ingredients, and the other half are appalled, simply appalled. What about your office cred Chris? How on earth are you going to chat over the weekend football with a quiche, while everyone else has an over indulgent burrito. Well yes this could prove to be tricky and I do risk ridicule, possibly even name calling, but I’m determined to make this work.

I know I should be talking about mixing butter with your fingers tips here, but that just seems like too much effort. I just went with ready made pastry, it’s so simple and saves loads of time. The trick is to roll your pastry into the flan tray, make loads of fork pricks on the base and then bake in the oven at 200 degrees until brown. This way you’ll have a crispy base. Nobody likes a soggy quiche

1/2 a butternut squash
150g spinach
1 red onion
2/3 cup of grated parmesan

Slice up your butternut, drizzle in oil, season and roast in a 200 degree oven until soft and tender. Leave to cool, remove the skin and set to the side.  Cut your onions really fine, gently fry and wilt down your spinach in batches. Leave to cool.

Then start to layer up your base with butternut at the bottom, spinach spread across the top and then sprinkle your parmesan across everything.

Quiche Batter
1 cup milk
1 cup single cream
3 eggs
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg

Gently heat the milk and cream in a pan only until it scalds. Just don’t let it boil. Scalding is when it gets that skin on the top, like when you had Horlicks as a kid and it burnt your lip. Set aside and leave to cool for 10 minutes, maybe do this while the pastry base is cooking.

Meanwhile, beat the eggs, salt, pepper and nutmeg together. Then slowly pour in the milk as you’re beating, until you get a lightly foamy mix.
Immediately pour this over all your filling, then bake in the oven until golden brown. It should take around 30 minutes at 200 degrees.

Some might reasonably say that’s a lot of work for a packed lunch. I see their point. But this quiche will keep in the fridge for a week if well wrapped – and anyway, I need to eat less burritos and this is a good start.

How to make Chilli Jam

Pow. Smash. Whoosh…blimey that tastes good, is what I’m looking for in a chilli sauce. Shame it doesn’t always work like that, because choosing a good chilli based condiment can be a bit hit and miss at times. From the fiery stuff in small bottles that’s better suited to cleaning lime scale off the bathroom taps to the downright bland sauce that might as well be ketchup.

Being new to food blogging I may not yet have the heritage that recipe legends are made of,  but I’m not adverse to the odd bit of kitchen myth-making. After playing around with chilli sauce recipes in the past I think this one is pretty legendary. Trust me I’ve tried them all with my relentless need to have it on everything, from big splodges on a bacon sandwich to a small blob on simple slice of cheese, I could keep going.

It’s more of a jam than a sauce, but not the sort of thing you would spread on toast. Unless of course it was filled with rashers of smoked dry cured bacon. It’s super easy to make,  last for ages and makes a great gift if you can bring yourself to part with any of it.

What you need – makes around 1.5l

  • 150g long fresh chillies and another 150g of red peppers. Use more chilli and less pepper if you like it hotter.
  • 1 large thumb size of ginger
  • 1kg of jam sugar
  • 600ml cider vinegar
  • Sealable jars that are sterilised in advance

How to make it

  1. Peel the ginger and cut into small chunks and pop into the food processor along with the chillies. You’ll need to de-seed the red chillies and cut into around four pieces. Don’t do anything daft like rub your eyes during this bit. Pulse until they are all finely chopped. Then drop in chunks of the red peppers that should also be de-seeded. Blitz in the processor until you get vibrant red flecks.
  2. Dissolve the sugar with the cider vinegar in a wide pan over a low heat. Don’t be tempted to stir it.
  3. Scrape out all your finely chopped chilli, ginger, pepper and add to the pan. Bring to boil and leave slowly ticking over for 10 minutes
  4. Take it off the heat and leave it alone for 40 minutes so all the flecks of red can spread out evenly. It should go a little syrup like and then end up like a loose jam.
  5. Spoon into your jars and try to stir as little as possible. Seal tightly and you’re done

Lazy Sunday Buttermilk Pancakes

Fired up with New Year ‘live well & eat better’ vigour, I’ve been rummaging through the cupboards for healthy ingredients to start the day. I’ve had a week of dull and dusty muesli and needed a proper Sunday breakfast, but healthy of course. First up I find healthy porridge oats that haven’t been touched in a few weeks, but then I falter. What about this maple syrup? I haven’t used that in a while. Ooh and how about this left over streaky bacon in the fridge, I shouldn’t waste that being frugal is a resolution too right?

There and then I decide to make a new resolution, to be against boring breakfasts and champion all that is good and tasty on a Sunday morning – you should be able to get everything you need from a decent diet. So I decide on pancakes. Not just any old wafer thin pancakes, but proper oaty buttermilk pancakes. Like the ones I had with Anna at Cafe de la Presse in San Francisco. Covered in fresh fruit, maple syrup and finished off with a couple of crispy bacon rashers. Yum.

What you’ll need

240g plain flour
1 teaspoon bicarbonate soda and another teaspoon of baking powder
1 tablespoon of sugar
1 large egg with a pinch of salt
500ml buttermilk or 500ml milk with two teaspoons of lemon juice if you can’t find any
2 tablespoons of melted butter
150g jumbo porridge oats
Rashers of streaky bacon. Personally I think if it’s not smoked it can’t be bacon
Fresh fruit and maple syrup to finish

Mix all you dry ingredients together in a bowl and separately whisk the egg and buttermilk. Then stir and combine the mixture together. I’m using a recipe from Allegra McEvady who recommends making the batter the night before and keeping it in the fridge. Seems to make the pancakes a little bit more magic, just like if you make Yorkshire pudding batter the night before.

When you’re up and ready to get breakfast going, fold in the oats and melted butter. The trick is to do this with as little stirring as possible, it doesn’t matter if you have streaks of the melted butter left. Grease up a thick based frying pan or griddle if you want it to look fancy. A medium heat should do as you don’t want to burn them, but make sure the pan is hot.

Now each pancake should be about 4 tablespoons worth if you’re looking to be accurate. I found a soup ladle worked just as well. They’re ready to flip over when big bubbles start to appear on the top and around the edges, should be around 2-3 minutes. Then time for the flip, they’re fairly thick so be careful if you’re showboating and not using a spatula. Same amount of time for the other side or when they’re lovely and golden-brown. Serve straight away, with grilled crispy bacon, fresh fruit and a generous amount of maple syrup. Now that’s what I call breakfast.


Yummy Chocolate Oreo Cup Cakes

Whilst Chris is definitely the Chef in this partnership, I want my forte to be Baking. So I have challenged myself to bake at least 1 new recipe a month. This is my first; Yummy Chocolate Oreo Cup Cakes. I was inspired by a recipe on goodtoknow, and put my own spin on it. I have to admit they tasted quite good!

Ingredients (makes 12)
For the chocolate cupcakes:

  • 100g plain flower
  • 20g cocoa powder
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 1.5tsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 40g unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 120ml whole milk
  • 1 egg
  • ¼tsp of vanilla extract

For the chocolate buttercream frosting:

  • 600g icing sugar sifted
  • 200g unsalted butter
  • 80g cocoa powder
  • 100ml whole milk


  1. Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F) gas 3.
  2. Put flour, cocoa, sugar and baking powder, salt and butter in a free-standing mixer with paddle attachment. Mix together until you have a sandy consistency. I don’t own a mixer, but managed to mix the ingredients with my hands, it produced the same results.
  3. Whisk milk, egg and vanilla in a jug. Slowly pour half into the mixture, beat to combine and then turn the mixer up to high speed to get rid of any lumps. Again, if like me you don’t own a mixer you can use a wooden mixing spoon. You just need to be ready for a sore arm…
  4. Turn the mixer down to a slower speed and pour in the remaining mixture. Continue to mix for a couple of mins. Do not over mix.
  5. Spoon mixture into the 12 cases and cook for 20 mins.
  6. For the chocolate buttercream: Beat icing sugar, butter and cocoa powder together in a free-standing mixer on a medium speed. Turn down to a low speed and add milk gradually, once mixed turn up to a high speed again and beat for approx 5 mins and mixture is light and fluffy. This was a bit harder to achieve by hand, but through sheer determination I ended up with some gorgeous, and am proud to say, fluffy  buttercream icing.
  7. Use a piping bag and metal nozzle to pipe onto top of cooled cupcakes.
  8. Decorate with double chocolate Oreo’s or with whatever you fancy.