Saturday, 31 October 2015

Halloween spiced ginger cake

I love a really sticky and spicy ginger cake. It's the sort of food that seems so appropriate for this time of year, when the clocks have gone back, the temperature is dropping and the landscape is changing from the lush green of summer to the austere bleakness of winter.

It's also a time for celebration with Halloween and Bonfire Night just a week apart. And it also provides a gentle introduction to the spice fest that is the Christmas feasting period.

I made this cake earlier in the week and decided to give it a Halloween feel by adding skull and bone marshmallows that I found in a local shop. However I normally serve it on its' own, with a cup of tea or coffee and snuggled down beside the fire.

One word of warning however, do not serve this the day you make it. It will be quite dry and uninspiring. What it needs is to be wrapped in foil and stored in a cool place for at least three days to allow the flavours to develop and the cake to take on its' sticky moreish characteristics. If you can bear to wait a full seven days, then even better.

Because I like a really ginger taste in mine, I have used both dried and fresh ginger. If you are using fresh, then you can be as daring as you want, my quantities are just a guideline. If too much spice is not your thing,then you can just stick to the dried spices. Anyway I hope you enjoy and look forward to receiving your comments.

I made my cake in a 7 inch tin; you can make it in an 8 inch but it will be slightly flatter.


175 grams of black treacle
40 grams of soft brown sugar, either light or dark but dark will give you a fuller flavour
75 grams of unsalted butter
175 grams of plain flour
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon of mixed spice
A 20 gram of piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
Half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
100ml of whole milk
2 eggs, beaten


First of all grease and line the base of your cake tin and heat the oven to 170 degrees (fan)

Next place the treacle, butter and sugar in a saucepan and heat gently until melted and combined. You will need to stir a couple of time to prevent the butter and sugar burning and sticking to the bottom. Set aside to cool slightly.

Meanwhile sift the flour, ginger, mixed spice and bicarbonate of soda into a mixing bowl.

Grate the ginger into the treacle/butter/sugar and stir well. Pour into the dry ingredients.

Next add the milk, followed by the beaten eggs. Mix quickly and thoroughly as the bicarbonate of soda will start working once the wet ingredients are added. Pour into the prepared cake tin. Do not worry at this stage, the batter will be very liquid.

Bake in the pre-heated oven for between one hour and one hour and fifteen minutes (test after and hour). The cake is cooked when a skewer comes out clean.

When cooked remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, before removing and leaving to cook on a rack. When cool wrap in foil and leave in a cool place for a minimum of three days.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Storecupboard sweetcorn fritters

I've been making sweetcorn fritters for a while. They are really quick and easy, children love them and they are really great for lunchboxes. They also make a good addition to a buffet or barbecue for any vegetarians. And children seem to love them, at least the children I cook them for that is.

Now I love sweetcorn but my husband does not, or so he says. He'll have it in a chowder and likes home made popcorn but as for the stuff on the cob, we'll that is a complete no go area. So I often have either tinned or fresh corn that I need to use.

Most, if not all, the ingredients are staples in my fridge or cupboards. You can adapt it to suit you, take out the coriander if you are cooking for a coriander-phobe and substitute for parsley. Likewise the chilli if you have small children who may find it too hot for their palates. To be honest I adapt it all the time depending on what is available.

You can either serve them hot from the pan with a salsa, salad or ketchup or just leave them to go cold and refrigerate for another day. And of course of you are cooking for a crowd just increase the quantities. You don't have to be gluten free either - regular flour and baking powder works just as well, I was just experimenting with the gluten free alternative as part of my decision to cut down on gluten. It worked perfectly and to be honest I could not tell the difference.

The quantities below will make 10 fritters using teaspoons to measure out the batter. If I use dessertspoons I tend to get about six large ones. If you have a flat non-stick griddle pan then you won't need to use any oil to cook them.


200 grams of tinned sweetcorn or 2 ears fresh with the cobs cut off
2-3 spring onions, depending on thickness
2 tablespoons of chopped fresh coriander, or any other herb of your choice
1 egg, beaten
Half a red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
50 grams of plain flour, either gluten-free or regular
Half a teaspoon of baking powder, either gluten-free or regular
1 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of pepper
Olive oil, for cooking


Non-stick saute pan or flat griddle pan

Combine the corn, onions, herbs, egg and chilli if using in a food processor with the blade attachment. If you don't have a food processor then you can use a hand blender. Process until you have a rough mix, you still want pieces of corn.

Add the flour, baking powder and seasoning and mix with a spatula to combine.

Heat either the saute or griddle pan. If using a pan pour a thin film of oil to coat. When hot, dollop spoonfuls of the mix in and cook for 2-3 minutes before flipping and cooking for another two minutes. Remove and drain on a kitchen towel, then repeat the process until all the mix has been used.

Either serve straight away or keep in the fridge for a couple of says. If reheating, then I suggest you put in a 160 oven, instead of microwaving.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

20 minute vegan chilli

I've been experimenting with meat-free meals that can be pulled together quickly using store cupboard ingredients. The sort of thing that can be prepared at the end of a long day, or when you need to cook for unexpected guests and discover that they do not eat meat.

I am also looking at ways of deceasing the amount of gluten in my diet for health reasons. With that in mind I decided to make a revised version of one of my favourite chilli recipes. This one will serve four people, but can be scaled up or down accordingly. The spices I used were labelled as gluten free on the pack, it is always best to check however that the manufacturer has not added an anti-caking agent containing gluten.

1 tablespoon of olive oil
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
1 tablespoon of tomato puree
2 teaspoons of ground cumin
2 teaspoons of ground coriander
1 teaspoon of smoked paprika
1 or 2 fresh red chillies, finely chopped depending on how hot you want it, seeds removed.
2 x 400g tins of lentils in water, drained and rinsed
1 x 400g tin of mixed beans in water, rinsed and drained
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons of Hendersons Relish, or equivalent. If you use Lea and Perrins Worcester sauce it won't be either gluten free or vegan.
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a saucepan or saute pan over a medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook for around five minutes, or until the onion is soft. Add the tomato puree and cook for a 2-3 minutes followed by the cumin, coriander, paprika and chillies and cook for a further two minutes.

Next add the lentils, beans, tomatoes and Hendersons Relish (or Worcester Sauce). Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced slightly. Season to taste and serve with plain boiled white rice.

If you have more time, this mixture also works well as a filling for enchiladas made with either gluten free or regular flour, or cooked for longer to thicken the sauce and used to stuff red peppers.