Macarons with Vanilla Cream


After make the meringues earlier in this blog it got me thinking about Macarons. Again something I’ve never made before that I wanted to try and dispel the myths about being difficult. I will admit that this first attempt wasn’t perfect. You can see that they cracked a little bit. But after talking to a chef about them I found out that the cracks mean I didn’t whip them enough. They still tasted great though! You definitely need a piping bag for these. I didn’t have one and I really missed it. For uniformity it’s an essential bit of kit. However they did turn out fine and they tasted wonderful!


100g Icing sugar
100g Ground almonds
2 Egg whites
A pinch of salt
55g Caster sugar
A dash of food colouring

300ml Double cream
3 Drops of vanilla extract

A piping bag with a 1cm nozzle would do the trick. Also remember to use a non-plastic bowl for whipping up the egg whites. I also use a mixer for the egg whites.


Preheat the oven to 140degrees Celsius (fan). Sift the icing sugar and gourd almonds into a bowl and mix together. Make sure that the almonds are very very fine, otherwise the Macarons will be grainy.

Whisk the egg whites, salt and the drops of food colouring in the mixer to form soft peaks then add the caster sugar. Whisk until the are stiff and glossy.

Add the almond sugar mix to the whites and stir together until loose. Don’t worry about the consistency it’s supposed to be this this!

Tack down some baking paper onto a baking tray and pipe the mixture on. The size is up to you! But small ones bake better and do an even amount to match up later. Make sure they are spaced apart because the mixture spreads a little. Tap the tray on the work surface a few times to burst any air bubbles in the them and leave for a good 20mins. Then bake in the oven for 15mins. Some recipes keep the oven door open a crack to let steam out or you can open the oven door halfway through. When hard to the touch take out of the oven and left until cold to take off the paper.

Whip the cream up with the drops of vanilla extract. Peel the Macarons off the baking paper and spoon a little cream in each and sandwich them together.

For them to keep put them in the fridge. Simple, straight forward and delicious.


Rump Steak with Creamy Mushroom Sauce and Sweet Potato Fries



I’ve been fancying steak and chips for a while. Rump is a good steak to fry, getting the way you like it can be tricky. But being attentive at the hob will ensure you get a good finish. The sweet potato fries are only in shape because I did them in the oven. You can leave them to it while you fry the steak. The creamy sauce is simple and quick and really adds great flavour to the dish.

A good quality rump steak
A knob of butter
150g chestnut mushrooms
Lots of salt and cracked black pepper
3 good sized sweet potatoes peeled and sliced
Sunflower oil
Smoked paprika


First of all get your steak out of the fridge and leave on the side to rest. Also get your oven nice and hot. Preheat the oven to 190degrees Celsius (that’s a fan oven so 200 on other ovens). Put the sweet potato onto a baking tray and drizzle with sunflower oil or vegetable if you have it. Basically there needs to be enough oil so that the fries get crispy in the oven. Sprinkle with lots of salt, pepper and smoked paprika and give them a good shake. Put them in the middle of the oven for 25-30mins. Keep checking them and shake so that they don’t catch.

Whilst the fries are in the oven get going with the steak. Get a frying pan nice and hot and put a knob of butter in. When golden add the steak. Grind lots of black pepper on the one side, flip over and do the same again. I like my steak medium rare, so it will only be in the pan for 3-6mins max. A tip a friend gave me was to keep flipping the steak every few minutes to keep the flavour in. I think I agree but you could always cook evenly and only turn once. When the steak is done set to one side to rest, I’ll be adding it back to the heat again later. The steak will also release some amazing flavoursome juices now which you can add to the sauce.

Add the mushrooms to the pan you fried the steak in. Add a little salt and lots of pepper and another knob of butter. When they are golden add the cream. Put the juice from the steak in now too. When it’s all mixed together and thickening transfer to a little jug and return the steak to the pan to reheat.

Take the fries out of the oven and serve with the steak.



Meringues with Fresh Cream



I have never made Meringues before and I must say they are simpler than I thought. It might have a lot to do with letting the mixer do all the work though! But using an electric whisk or good old fashioned elbow grease works just as well. All you need is a low oven and lots of time, the longer you bake them the harder they become. Ultimately you can leave them in as long as you like depending on how chewy you like them. Minimal effort for a high impact dessert. Have a go!


4 Egg whites

115g Icing Sugar

2 Drops of vanilla extract

2 drops of red food colouring (optional)

300ml Double cream


Like I mentioned earlier, a mixer makes this an easy recipe. But if you have an electric whisk or hand whisk it will work just as well, but you’ll have to beat it for longer. Also, make sure the bowl isn’t plastic, better results come from glass or metal bowls.


Add the egg whites to the mixer and gently add the sugar. Make sure the bowl is dry, a little water can make the meringues go grey and porous. Before you turn it on fold the sugar into the egg whites with a spatula. That way the sugar doesn’t go everywhere when you put it on. Also this recipe doesn’t limit you to icing sugar, you can use other types and still get a good result. Preheat the oven to 100 degrees celsius.

Mix on full power for a good 10mins, until the beater makes stiff peaks and the meringue is glossy. Mix in the vanilla extract at this point.

Put a sheet of baking paper on a tray and tac down with a little of the meringue. Add the drop of food colouring now and swirl it in so the meringue is streaked. Now it’s up to you if you want to pipe it on, but a good dollop with a flick on top is what you see above. You can do any shape you want. I think the big ones are best! Try to space them evenly as they will spread a little in the oven.

Bake in the oven for at least 2 hours. After this baking time they are hard on the outside and chewy on the inside. the longer you bake the less chewy they become.

Leave to cool and whip up the cream to a thick, spreadable consistency. Sandwich two together and devour!

Apple and Cinnamon Tart



A friend at work bought too many apples (that will teach him to shop online!), so I said that I would turn them into something. I thought of the obvious: apple pie, crumble. But then I thought why not try an apple tart? I think I’ve got shortcrust pastry down after a lot of practice doing the Christmas hampers. This is a great example of using what you’ve got in the cupboards. Also, see how many you can make. With this recipe I managed a big tart and four little ones! It’s also a really simple recipe with a tasty finish. It went down well with the apple buyer!



5 Medium sized apples of your choice, sliced thinly

200g Blackcurrant jam

2tsp Cinnamon

A dollop of golden syrup

Soft brown sugar, for sprinkling

For pastry:

250g Plain flour

125g butter

125g Light muscovado sugar

4 Egg yolks (keep the whites)


The nine inch, loose-bottomed flan tins are essential, having more than one is a bonus because then you can do more than one at a time. Having a pastry brush is also handy in this recipe.


Cutting the apples can be an arduous task, but to avoid them going brown keep them in a bowl of water.

Make the pastry. Sift the flour into a bowl and add the butter and rub in to make breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar then add the yolks. mix in a little cold water to bring the pastry together. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and push into the flan tins (remember, see how many you can make!). Put them in the fridge for a good half hour.

Preheat the oven at 190 degrees celsius and work on the filling. Add the blackcurrant jam, cinnamon and dollop of golden syrup to a small pan over a medium heat. Keep stirring because you don’t want it to catch. once it has been bubbling for at least five minutes, take off the heat and leave to cool.

Take out the flan cases and fork the bottoms. Bake in the oven blind (with ceramic beads or rice) for 10-15mins. Take out the beads or rice and bake for a further 5mins, brushing with the egg white first (with the little flan tins I just baked them with the filling in, they don’t really need a blind bake first). Once golden leave to cool for 5mins.

Now to the assembly. Arrange the apple slices however you want, I went for the classic french style of fanning.Then brush on the blackcurrant mixture liberally on all the tarts. Sprinkle some soft brown sugar on top and a little cinnamon to taste return to the oven for 25-30mins.

Once bubbling, take out and enjoy!

Chicken Kievs


Yet another simple but effective recipe. It’s a bit indulgent and dripping in butter! But it makes a simple chicken breast succulent and tasty.

4 Small chicken breasts
1 1/2tsp of tarragon
2 Cloves of garlic, crushed
100g Butter
12 Rashers of smoked bacon


Preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius (fan). Work the butter until it’s warmed up a bit and you can mix in the crushed garlic and tarragon. Once that’s mixed, set to with preparing the chicken. Turn the chicken breasts over and slice a little pocket in each. Spoon the butter into the the pockets and wrap the bacon around each chicken breast. Pack them relatively tightly into an oven-proof dish and spread any butter you have leftover on top. Bake in the oven for 20-30mins until golden and crispy.

Chocolate Caramels


A lovely Londoner sent us some salted caramel chocolates the other week to remind us of when we blitzed through the city. I thought to return the excellent favour that I would have a go at them myself. She bought them from Harrods, so I doubt that they compare, but I thought they taste great! They aren’t difficult, if you’ve tried the caramel in the millionaire’s shortbread then you can do this.

397g Tin of condensed milk
120g butter
4tbsp Golden syrup
A good sprinkling of dried rosemary, crushed
1tsp sea salt
150g Dark cooking chocolate
100g white chocolate

To make the bars I used an oblong ice cube tray (as the caramel needs to go in the freezer for a bit) BUT you can use whatever you want as long as it can go in the fridge. The beauty of it is that you can get a really good affect in any shape you choose to make them.


Melt the butter in a saucepan until golden. Then whisk in the golden syrup and condensed milk. With the rosemary crush it in a pestle and mortar. Add a good sprinkling but not too much, it could overpower the caramel. Bring to a slow simmer and stir constantly for 10mins until the caramel darkens. It can burn easily so keep your eye on it. Once done take off the heat, add the salt and stir through.

Let it cool down for 5-10mins. With the ice tray I covered it in cling film, pushing it into the depressions so the caramel is easy to take out later. Pour the caramel into the tray and put in the freezer for one and a half to two hours.

Towards the end of the freezing time melt the chocolates. Do them in the microwave or if that makes you nervous, on the hob over boiling water. If microwaving, break the dark chocolate into small pieces for a minute and stir. Do for a further 30secs and leave to cool. The white chocolate will take less, probably just a minute.

Take the caramels out and dip in the dark chocolate. Use forks to turn them and make sure they are completely enrobed. Leave to cool for a few minutes then put on a wire rack. Cover a surface with cling film and put the wire rack on top. Get a spoon and dip it in the white chocolate. Quickly flick the chocolate on the caramels for decoration and leave to cool. Once the chocolate has hardened, put them in the fridge. Devour!

A Take on Pancakes


There’s something about pancake day which makes me think of family and trying to stick them to the ceiling when you flip them! The pancakes in this recipe are traditional, but I’ve gone a bit American with the filling. I never understood why you would have sweet flavours with bacon. After giving it a go I now understand why! Believe me I wouldn’t do it all the time, but it is worth trying at least once in your life.

110g Plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 Eggs
200ml Milk
75ml Water
8 Rashers of bacon
Squeezy honey
Chinese five spice
Dried rosemary
Cayenne pepper


Mix the flour with the salt in a bowl and make a well. Add the edges and beat together until combined. Start adding the milk and water gradually, stirring as you go. The lumps will disappear the longer you mix.

Make sure you have a nonstick pan on a high heat (add a little oil if you’re worried about it sticking). Ladle the batter into the pan and make sure it goes all around the edges. Give the pan a shake and see if the pancake shifts, if it does give it a flip. Serve after the pancake has browned a bit. Repeat until you run out of batter. It’s at this point you can douse in lemon juice and sugar if you like.

But if you’re feeling adventurous go for the bacon! In a small bowl squeeze some honey. Add a sprinkling of Chinese five space, cayenne pepper and dried rosemary. Give a good mix with a pastry brush. Add the bacon to a medium high frying pan. When it’s sizzling give each rasher a good brush with the honey mixture. It’ll get runny and as you turn the bacon over it’ll bast in it. Only brush one side of the rashers otherwise it’ll be too sweet.

Put a couple of rashers in a pancake, roll it up and devour. Squeeze more honey on if you’re feeling particularly indulgent.