November 27, 2013


This month’s Random Recipe selection turned up another of my charity shop finds – a book simply called “apples”.  This was slightly inconvenient as there were no apples left in the house, the last having been used for dessert as baked apples the night before.


Luckily when I flipped the pages the book opened at a recipe that uses cider, not actual apples and we happened to have a can of dry cider lurking in the cupboard.  Which is odd because neither of us drinks it ~ we must have got it in for a long since forgotten recipe for something.


Having spent ages slicing the onions by hand I then remembered that I could have used the slicing disc on my food processor, which would have saved a lot of time and sliced them thinner, which would have been better.  I shall try to remember that next time, as I will definitely be making this soup again.


It was an unusual soup and we enjoyed it.  It’s a good way to use up a glut of onions, whether home grown or in one of those large bags of onions that can be bought quite cheaply at the supermarket.


So thanks again to Dom of Bellau Kitchen for getting me to cook a recipe that I almost certainly never would have done otherwise, if it hadn’t been for his Random Recipe Challenge.  You can see the details here.  Also, having found the book on my shelf again, I shall explore its pages even further as it’s full of lovely recipes.


50g butter

3 tblsp olive oil

1kg onions, peeled and thinly sliced

2 cloves garlic, sliced

500ml chicken or vegetable stock (can be gluten free if using GF stock cubes)

500ml medium dry cider


Heat the butter and oil in a large saucepan until the butter has melted.

Add the onions and garlic and fry, uncovered, for 30 minutes, until the onions are soft and golden.

Add the cider and stock, bring back to the boil on high heat and boil for 4-5 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper and serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.

Serves 6.


banana cake

It’s the usual story.  A couple of very sad looking bananas in the fruit bowl and a guilty conscience about throwing them out.  Not that many years ago they would simply have gone in the bin and I wouldn’t have given it a second thought.  Then I started putting them in the compost bin which made me feel very smug and virtuous.  More recently I have put them in the freezer for use later but the freezer has quite a few in it already.   So to ease my conscience I just had to bake something.

How’s that for an excuse to bake a cake ?!

banana cake2banana cake3

I also found half a large tub of plain yoghurt in the fridge and a few oranges about to become slightly past their best at the bottom of the fruit bowl.  After a bit of research it appears that bananas and oranges do go together so I decided to go for it, using up most of my leftovers in one guilt-free bake.

banana cake4

Lulu gave me that “who do you think you’re kidding?” look.  She can be extremely perceptive at times and we both knew that as Nick absolutely loathes cooked bananas in any form, the only person available to eat the cake would be yours truly.  Sadly, dogs are not allowed cake in this house.

banana cake5

I adapted a recipe on the Channel 4 website which was actually written for children (and has since disappeared).  It was indeed very easy and produced a huge quantity of mixture, far too much for my large loaf tin.  So I made some of it into six muffins.

The muffins were fabulous.  Nice and moist with a lovely light texture.  This could be my favourite recipe for banana muffins from now on.

The cake was lovely too.  The orange and banana combination worked very well and I would definitely do that again.  I drizzled some orange icing over it to glam it up a bit but with literally only me to eat it, it was beginning to be past its best after three days.  I had taken the precaution of freezing some thick slices but by the third day I couldn’t eat any more so a small piece went in the bin after all.  Still, at least I tried so my conscience is clear.

I am submitting the cake to this month’s Alphabakes Challenge, organised by Ros of The more than occasional baker and, this month, by Caroline of Caroline Makes.  This month the letter is “O” and you can see the details here.


120ml sunflower oil

225g light muscovado sugar

3 large eggs

225g self-raising flour

1tsp ground cinnamon

zest and juice of one orange

2 ripe bananas, peeled and mashed

150ml low fat natural yoghurt

2tbslp golden icing sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease a 900g (2lb) loaf tin or use a greaseproof paper liner.

Put the eggs, oil and sugar into a large bowl and whisk together.

Sift in the flour and cinnamon and stir in gently, do not over mix.

Add the mashed bananas, yoghurt and orange zest and stir.

Spoon the mixture into your loaf tin to about two thirds full.  (Make muffins from any remaining mixture.)

Bake for about an hour, until risen and golden.  (Muffins will be done in 15-20 minutes.)

When cold, make some icing with the sifted icing sugar blended with enough orange juice to achieve the right runniness and drizzle over the cake.

Makes 6 muffins and one cake that will cut into 8-10 slices.

November 24, 2013



The leftover season  is coming up.  By which I mean that most of us spend the week after Christmas conjuring up interesting dishes that use up the leftovers.

A couple of weeks ago we had a family lunch and cooked a large joint of pork which resulted in plenty of leftover meat.  I find it difficult to immediately think of what to do with leftover pork.  I have a reasonable repertoire of dishes that make good use of leftover chicken, lamb or beef, but apart from a roast pork sandwich I was a rather stumped.  I Googled “leftover pork” and came across  this recipe for pork, leek and celeriac pie on the Sainsbury’s website.

Although the meat used in this recipe is pork I think it would work just as well with turkey or chicken.  You could even add a few pieces of leftover stuffing to the pie mixture.


Basically, you cook some root vegetables ~ I didn’t have any celeriac but used carrot, parsnip and swede ~ fry some onions and leeks, add flour and milk to make a sauce.  You add pieces of cooked pork, smother with the sauce and add a pastry lid.

The interesting bit for me was that I decided the time had come to once and for all get my act together and make a proper pastry lattice top.


By which I mean strips of pastry that weave under and over each other rather than just a layer going horizontally topped by a layer going vertically.

It was fiddly but worth it.  I started by sticking a strip all the way round the edge of the pie dish.  Then you add a few strips and start weaving.  There are several tutorials on YouTube that show you how to do it, including this one:


The pie was delicious.  Definitely tasty comfort food for this time of year and a good way to use up leftover pork and an assortment of vegetables.  And don’t panic if you can’t face making a proper woven lattice on the top ~ a plain pastry lid would be just as good.


3 carrots, 1 parsnip and a piece of swede, peeled and cut into 3cm cubes

1 onion, peeled and chopped

1 leek, washed and sliced

Flora Cuisine or olive oil for frying

shortcrust pastry made with 200g flour and 100g lard, Trex or similar

2 tblsp plain flour and 500ml milk to make a sauce

a handful of fresh parsley, chopped

250g (or however much you have) cubed leftover roast pork


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180°fan / gas mk 6.

Put the vegetables into a pan of boiling water and cook until soft.

Meanwhile, heat the Flora Cuisine or oil in a deep frying pan or sauté pan and cook the onion and leek until soft.  Sprinkle on the flour and cook for  minute or so.  Add the milk and stir until you have a thick sauce.  Season with salt and pepper.

Put the cooked vegetables into a pie dish and scatter over the pork.  Sprinkle over the parsley and pour the sauce over the top to coat the whole mixture.

Make the pastry and roll out as usual.  Cut into strips about 2-3 cm wide.  Lay one strip (or two depending on how long they are) in a single layer along the rim of the dish.  Press two or three more strips onto the rim and begin weaving.  (See video).  Continue weaving until the whole pie is covered.

Brush with beaten egg and bake for 25-30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the filling bubbling.

Serve hot with more vegetables.

Serves 4.

November 21, 2013


stuffed marrow

A marrow is really just an overgrown courgette.  My father grew them in the greenhouse when I was a child, as did most of my uncles, and the neighbours.  A single marrow goes an awfully long way in terms of culinary use so using them up was a bit of a challenge.  (Giving them away was not an option as everybody in the village had more than enough already.)

My mum had three principal uses for a marrow; stuffed with sage and onion stuffing then baked and served with chops or sausages, in homemade chutney or, the family favourite, stuffed with a meaty filling, smothered in cheese sauce and baked.

stuffed marrow2stuffed marrow3

Once my brother and I had flown the next, using up the marrows was more of a challenge for my mother and in autumn every visit I would come away with half a marrow whether I wanted it or not.  Which I did, of course.

My dad no longer grows anything at all so I had completely forgotten about stuffed marrow until I found myself looking at a modest sized specimen in the supermarket the other day.

To make stuffed marrow you don’t so much need a recipe as a guide to the concept.  Think beef lasagne, bolognaise and a large green vegetable and there you have it.  It’s almost a cross between a lasagne and a cauliflower cheese.

stuffed marrow4

I always peel and pre-cook the marrow by putting thick, deseeded rings of it in a pan of boiling water for a few minutes.  Then I turn the heat off and leave it in the water to continue cooking while I make the filling and the sauce.

On this occasion I used 500g lean minced beef and made a kind of bolognaise/cottage pie concoction using onions, carrots, peppers, mushrooms, tomato purée, and enough stock to make it thick and not runny.

I placed the cooked marrow rings in a baking dish, spooned the meat mixture in and around them and poured a thick cheese sauce over the top.  I also added a few slices of goat’s cheese just because I had it in the fridge and it needed using up.

stuffed marrow5

Bake at 180°fan for 20-30 minutes until browned and bubbling.  You can just have it by itself, or with salad or vegetables.   A dish like this would easily serve four hungry people.  It’s great comfort food for chilly autumn evenings.

November 13, 2013


The local Clandestine Cake Club meeting this month was themed “Vintage”.  I tried to imagine what “vintage” actually means and decided it was probably anything from the late 19th century until maybe the 1950’s.  I considered all the old family favourites such as battenburg, parkin and coffee cake but fancied making something unusual.  I spent a few minutes looking up “vintage cakes” on the internet and something called “war cake” cropped up several times.

war cake

A war cake is one made during war time when many cake ingredients might be too expensive or completely unavailable.  So almost all of the recipes use  shortening  (white fat) instead of butter or margarine, and no eggs, both of which would have been rationed during the second world war.  As food rationing was still in place when I was born, the idea of making a war cake appealed to me.

I also liked the idea of using what I had in, rather than going out to buy special ingredients.  Anyone trying to eke out their food rations would probably have used lard, which is basically rendered pig fat.  Amazingly, I stumbled across a recipe written by the Duchess of Windsor, Wallis Simpson, for something called “pork cake”.  The recipe is in the cookbook she herself wrote called  “Some Favourite Southern Recipes of the Duchess of Windsor”. 

war cake2

Now who would have thought that the Duchess of Windsor, whose occupation is described in Wikipedia as “socialite”, would have written a cookbook?  As a complete coincidence, last month we visited the château in the Loire where Edward and Mrs Simpson were married.  It was a charming and captivating place and I am currently posting lots of pictures of it here if you’re interested.

A common feature of war cake recipes is that the fruit is boiled before stirring in the flour and spices.  My Aunt Vera often made a boiled fruit cake and now I come to think of it, she also used lard and cold tea, so maybe that was a war cake of sorts.

war cake3

I have to say the cake would not win any beauty contest and I was a bit nervous about taking it to the CCC !!  It had a crater in the middle, a mottled top and the fruit had obviously sunk to the bottom, but I tried to imagine how pleased anyone would be to see any kind of cake, especially a fruit cake, on the tea table during the first or second world war.  I sprinkled it with icing sugar in an attempt to improve its looks but nothing was able to disguise the craggy exterior.  I just hoped the interior looked better.

war cake4

I placed the cake on the table with the others and was relieved that it was not the only plain cake on display.  There was an interesting collection including two ginger cakes, two battenburgs, one pineapple upside down, one classic chocolate and one nutmeg cake.  (I was surprised there was no Victoria sponge.)

I took the cake as Nick’s offering and for my own I took a caraway seed cake.  I was very pleased to find that by the end of the evening they had both been almost completely eaten up.  It appears that the introduction I gave for the war cake was so negative that everybody wanted to try a piece just to see if it was as bad as they expected !!  I managed to sneak the last slice home to have a proper taste myself.

war cake5

In fact, it was lovely.  Very moist with a chewy texture and the flavours were delicious.  Several people asked me how it had been made.  So now I feel less embarrassed about it I am also offering this cake for this month’s Tea Time Treats Challenge, organised by Karen of Lavender and Lovage.  The currant theme is “dried fruit”.  Currant theme ~ get it ??!!  Anyway, you can read the details here. 

Tea Time Treats

There were lots of different recipes for war cake that I could have used but I based mine on the one that seemed most likely to work and taste nice, which you can see here.

This is how I made my version of war cake.  You need to start several hours before you want to bake the cake, to allow the boiled fruit to cool.

200g light soft brown sugar

100g dark soft brown sugar

90g Trex vegetable fat (you could use white Flora or Cookeen)

230g mixed dried fruit

350ml water

200g plain flour

1½tsp mixed spice

1tsp bicarb

½tsp baking powder

½tsp salt


Put the sugars, fat, fruit and water in a large saucepan.  Bring slowly to the boil and boil for three  minutes.  Leave to cool completely in the pan.

Preheat the oven to 150°C / 140° fan / gas mk2.  Grease and line a 22cm  round cake tin.

Put all the other ingredients in a bowl and whisk together.  Tip them into the cooled fruit mixture and stir well until there are no floury lumps and it is all fully combined.

Pour the mixture into the tin (it’s quite a runny batter) and bake for 1½ until it passes the skewer test.  It will still look wet on top.

Cool in the tin for 10 minutes then turn out carefully onto a wire rack.  Allow to cool completely before wrapping in foil and storing in an airtight tin.

Cook’s note ~ the cake is dense but fairly fragile as well as being sticky, so handle it carefully and as little as possible.

Cuts into about 12 slices.

November 11, 2013


ginger and chocolate cake

Nick and I have known each other for twenty years and our nineteenth wedding anniversary is next month.  So it still amazes me that every so often I find out something about him that I didn’t already know.

I know he’s not fond of cake.  This is a problem because I really enjoy making cake and now that I’m not going to work it’s an even bigger problem.  More time to bake cake but no more work colleagues to eat it !!  I end up timing my baking so that I can take a couple of slices to my appointment with the chiropodist or the dog’s hairdresser !!

This weekend I finally got to the bottom of Nick’s cake preferences.  It seems the only cakes he actually likes are rich fruit cakes, such as a Christmas cake, and the sticky type of cake you buy at the supermarket such as Jamaican ginger cake and the golden syrup and chocolate versions.  He especially dislikes any cake with fruit in it, particularly dried fruit.  (Unless it’s a Christmas cake.)

So there we are.  To be fair to him, he will always eat a slice of any cake, just to be polite, but one slice is enough, which leaves me with the rest of the cake.

ginger and chocolate cake2

This last weekend we had a double birthday, Dad on Sunday and Nick today.  It was Dad’s 85th so to mark the occasion we had a family lunch and I made a birthday cake for them both.  Dad will eat any cake (pretty much) so to make Nick happy I baked a ginger and chocolate Bundt cake.  I baked it to the recipe from the blog Dolly Bakes, which you can see here:

Sticky gingerbread Bundt cake.

This recipe suggests soaking the cake with a gingery syrup after it’s baked to make it extra sticky.  I didn’t do this but iced it with a chocolate icing instead.  You can find the recipe for the icing here:

Milk chocolate and toffee Bundt cake.

ginger and chocolate cake3

The cake recipe requires most of a bar of ginger chocolate and I was very tempted to eat the bit left over, but instead I used it in the icing along with the milk chocolate.  It was definitely worth the trouble of using the ginger chocolate I think. 

Having drizzled the chocolate icing on the cake I decorated it with some chopped crystallised ginger, edible gold stars and gold disco glitter. 

It was a fairly dense cake and although not very sticky without the ginger glaze, it was perfectly moist enough and the chocolate icing added some stickiness as it doesn’t quite set completely.  It had just the right balance of chocolate and ginger flavours, each being identifiable but neither being so strong as to wipe out the other. 

I have to say it looked gorgeous and tasted delicious.  Definitely worth doing again for a special birthday.  Or any excuse I can come up with !!

Cuts into 16 –20 slices.

November 9, 2013


At the weekend, if my dad isn’t coming for his dinner on Sunday (which he rarely does these days as he takes his lady friend to lunch instead), we try to cook something different and a bit special.  My dad is not fond of fancy food so when we’re not catering for him we can be a bit more adventurous.

Last weekend I plonked a pile of cook books in front of Nick and suggested that he choose something tasty.  After a few minutes he picked out a recipe for roast monkfish.


Roast monkfish, or gigot de lotte in French, is one of our favourite things to choose in a restaurant in France but this recipe is from Gino D’Acampo’s book Fantastico, so that makes it an Italian version.  He calls it coda di rospo al parma.


Basically it’s a monkfish tail, stuffed with anchovies, garlic and breadcrumbs, wrapped in Parma ham and roasted on a bed of new potatoes and onions.


We hadn’t got any tins or jars of anchovies in stock but we did have some anchovy paste that we brought from France earlier in the year.  We also had a pack of Parma ham.  This had already crossed the English Channel three times!  We bought it in France in August, didn’t use it so brought it home, still didn’t use it so took it back to France where it still didn’t get used so we brought it back again.  It was definitely time to use it up !!


We have cooked monkfish like this before but roasting it on the potatoes was a great idea.  Mind you, we both had to read and re-read the recipe to work out the timings as it was not at all clear.  At first it looked like the potatoes should be cooked for nearly an hour before adding the fish, which didn’t seem right, unless you like your potatoes pretty crozzled. 

But we sussed it out and I have to say, it was absolutely delicious, a real treat, and we will definitely be making it again.  You could use a nice chunky piece of cod if you can’t get hold of monkfish, and pancetta in place of the Parma ham.  

Ingredients  (for two servings)

40g butter

1 onion, sliced

400g new potatoes, halved, or ordinary potatoes quartered or cut into chunks

2 sprigs fresh thyme

1 clove of garlic

4 anchovy fillets, or a good squirt of anchovy paste

2 tblsp finely chopped parsley

30g fresh white breadcrumbs (we used wholemeal as we didn’t have any white bread in the house)

2 tblsp olive oil

500g fillet of monkfish tail

8 slices Parma ham


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6

Put the butter in a roasting tin in the oven so that it melts while the oven warms up and you prepare the potatoes and onions.  Tip them into the tin and shuffle them about so they are coated with the butter.  Season with salt and pepper and add the thyme.  Roast for 35 minutes, turning occasionally so the potatoes brown evenly.

Put the garlic, anchovies, parsley olive oil and breadcrumbs into a food processor and process until well mixed to make a paste.

Cut the monkfish fillet into two and spread the paste on top of one piece.  Lay the other piece on top and wrap the Parma ham or pancetta around it to make a parcel.  Tie string around it to hold it all in place.

After the 35 minutes, put the fish on top of the partly cooked potatoes and return to the oven for another 20 minutes.

November 5, 2013

RIESLING WINE CAKE, and the strange case of “whose recipe is it anyway?”

A few of you who have been reading this blog for a while might remember the episode a couple of years ago when I, along with many others, was ticked off by Dan Lepard’s editor/business manager/civil partner, David Whitehouse, for writing up one of his recipes on my blog.  Since then I have paid special attention to saying where recipes come from and in any case I only ever use my own photos,  but my copy of “Short and Sweet” remains unopened and gathering dust on the bottom shelf, as if jinxed. 

You will see the reason for revisiting this sorry episode when you read on............

riesling wine cake

I became a member of the Clandestine Cake Club this year (it was bound to happen) and in August I was at last able to get to one of their local meetings.  I volunteered Nick to come with me as my guest.  For those who don’t know (there might be a few!) the CCC is a UK club with branches up and down the country and the idea is that you bake a cake, take it to the meeting, introduce it, eat it, eat everybody else’s cake and, having eaten more cake than you could ever have imagined, you take away slices of all the cakes at the meeting.  Marvellous !!

riesling wine cake1

Anyway, Nick decided he would also like to make a cake to take to the meeting.  The theme was “sweet and savoury” so I made a savoury cake to a Rachel Khoo recipe, which was very nice, but I wouldn’t make it again.  Nick hunted for a recipe he would like to do and found one for Riesling Wine Cake in the Hairy Bikers Baking book that I had borrowed from the library.  This is the book that went with their Bakeation series on TV. 

riesling wine cake2

riesling wine cake3

There were lots of beautiful cakes at the meeting and whilst mine was said to be very nice, his got plenty of attention and even a special mention in the write-up after the event.  Harrumph. 

riesling wine cake4

The savoury cakes at the CCC meeting, with mine at the front.

With the next CCC meeting coming up I decided it was time to blog about the last one and looked for the Riesling cake recipe on the web, only to find no mention of it at all in any association with the Hairy Bikers.  However, I did find it here where it is credited to another TV chef, Simon Rimmer.  In fact it appears in the Hairy Bikers’ book word for word exactly the same as you see it credited to Simon Rimmer on this website, even the photograph is the same.  Now there’s a thing.

riesling wine cake5

The sweet cakes, with Nick’s at the front.

To be fair, in the introduction to the cake in their book, the Hairies don’t say they made the cake, they say they ate it in Germany and “loved it so much” they had to find out how to make it.  Obviously they did but are not giving any clue where the recipe came from.

So, what is that all about then?  Is the recipe really Mr Rimmer’s and does he know they put it in their book?

Maybe the Hairies paid Mr Rimmer handsomely for the privilege of using the recipe, or bought him a pint.  Or maybe it was the other way round, because curiously, the photo on the website looks like it was taken by the same person who took all the photos in the Hairies’ book.  The plot thickens, we will probably never know what the answer is and …. how much does it matter in any case? 

Anyway, I have to give credit to Nick, it was a stunningly good cake and looked the business topped with a few redcurrants from our garden.  It’s a very sophisticated cake.  You can taste the wine, the orange and the cardamom, and it’s gluten free.  He has made it again since but omitted the syrup that you pour on the top, which was better we think.  The syrup makes it extremely moist and boozy but we actually liked it better without it.

Nick is now a full member of our local branch of CCC.

The link I gave for the recipe on the web here has disappeared, as they do, so I have written the recipe below.


For the cake

12 cardamon pods

150g light soft brown sugar

4 lge eggs

zest of 1 lemon

zest of 2 oranges

100ml sunflower oil

150ml Riesling wine

200g ground almonds

1 tsp baking powder

For the wine syrup (omit if you prefer)

200ml Riesling wine

150g caster sugar


Grease and line the base of a 25cm round springform tin.  Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160°fan / gas mk4.  

In a mortar and pestle, bash the cardamom pods until split.  Tip them out onto a plate, pick out the seeds and put them back in the mortar, discarding the pods.  Grind the seeds to a powder.

In a large bowl, beat the eggs and sugar until lighter and creamy.  Add the citrus zests and cardamom and beat until combined.  Whisk in the oil and wine until smooth and thick.

Mix the baking powder with the ground almonds then fold into the batter.  Pour into the prepared tin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until well risen and golden.  Cool in the tin for 15 minutes before removing from the tin*.

*If using the syrup (optional) leave the cake in the tin, put the wine and sugar into a small saucepan, bring slowly to the boil, stirring all the time.  Simmer for 5 minutes.

Pour the syrup over the cake while still warm and in its tin, a little at a time so that it soaks in.  If the syrup pools on the top of the cake prick the surface with a skewer.  Leave to cool completely in the tin.

Serve decorated with a few redcurrants or raspberries, a dusting of icing sugar and a little cream or crème fraîche if you like.

Cuts into 10-12 slices.

November 1, 2013



We are not very fond of Halloween in this house.  To be truthful, I have never liked Halloween very much at all, even as a child.  I have no happy memories of the children’s parties I attended here or in Scotland where I spent a couple of years as a little girl.  All that apple bobbing, silly costumes and daft ghost stories ~ I never quite got into it.  The “trick or treat” custom of recent decades is something we are not keen on either.

In recent years we have been known to either go out on Halloween, leaving the house in complete darkness to deter the trick or treaters.  Or to turn off all the lights, draw the curtains, keep the television on low and hope that nobody ventures up our long, dark drive.


However, we do like a bit of pumpkin or butternut squash and are partial to a chilli flavoured sausage so on Halloween I decided to make a bit of effort to get into the mood.  I even got a bag of fun size chocolates in, just in case the doorbell rang and we were confronted by a small group of children in scary masks bribing us to give them chocolate in return for not slashing the car tyres, pouring weed killer on the roses or removing the hinges from the gate .


I simply Googled “squash and sausages” and several tasty looking recipes turned up, of which I chose this one.  It’s essentially a tray bake of vegetables with sausages tucked in and it was, I have to say, absolutely scrumptious.


This is another one of those recipes that puts a tasty meal on the table in less than an hour from scratch, with very little washing up.  The original recipe states red peppers but I used the last red and green ones in our greenhouse, plus fresh rosemary from the garden.  This is destined to become another favourite of the house.  In fact it could almost be described as healthy with all those lovely veg ~ if you ignore the sausages that is.  (Or use low fat ones, which are hardly the same, but better than nothing.)

Next time I think I might add some whole garlic cloves and a sliced chilli to the veg for a bit of extra flavour, just to see what it’s like.


For afters we had a slice of spiced apple and pumpkin cake, served with a dollop of plain yoghurt.

I spotted the recipe in a blog called “Penelope’s Pantry“ and I have been waiting for just the right opportunity to make it.  Halloween seemed like as good a time as any.  I made a couple of adaptations but you can see the original here.


It’s made as a tray bake and it’s incredibly moist ~ even more so the day after baking, very much like a dessert cake with almost the consistency of a bread and butter pudding. 


I adapted the recipe to make it using an all-in-one method, as per Delia’s advice and it worked really well.  Next time I think I would use more ginger and possibly some ground cinnamon as well, to make it even spicier.

Ingredients for the squash and sausage bake

a pack of 6 sweet chilli sausages, or any other sausages you like

1 large red pepper, or 1 small red and 1 small green pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks

1 red onion, peeled and cut into wedges

½ a butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into wedges

2 sprigs rosemary

2 tblsp olive oil


Preheat the oven to 200°C / 180° fan / gas mk 6.

Put all the prepared veg into a large bowl.  Add the olive oil, salt and pepper, the leaves of the rosemary and mix together.  (This ensures all the ingredients are nicely coated with oil.)

Tip this all into a roasting tin and tuck the sausages amongst the veg.

Bake for about 40 minutes, until the veg are tender and the sausages cooked through, removing from the oven after 20 minutes, to shuffle the veg and turn the sausages over so they brown all over.

Serve with mashed potatoes, bread, or other veg of your choice.

Serves 2-3.

Spiced apple and pumpkin tray bake (adapted from Penelope’s Pantry with Penelope’s permission.)

1 tin Libby’s pumpkin purée, or 400g of cooked, puréed fresh pumpkin

350g Bramley apples (unpeeled weight)

1 tblsp ground ginger

225g unsalted butter at room temperature, or spreadable butter

275g light soft brown sugar

4 eggs, lightly beaten

350g self-raising flour

2tsp baking powder

2tblsp Demerara sugar


Preheat the oven to 180°C / 160° fan / gas mk 4.  Grease and line the base of a roasting tin or baking tin, approx. 30 x 23 cm.

Sift the flour, baking powder and ginger into a large bowl.  Add the butter, brown sugar, and eggs and beat together until well combine, using an electric whisk or mixer.  Add the pumpkin and mix briefly to combine.

Peel, core and slice the apples.

Spread half the cake mixture into the tin and arrange half the apples on top.  Repeat with the remaining mixture and apples.  Sprinkle the Demerara sugar on top.

Bake for 45 minutes or until golden brown and risen.  Leave in the tin for a few minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool before cutting into squares.

Serve slightly warm with cream, custard, ice-cream or yoghurt, or leave to go completely cold and serve as a cake.

Cuts into 20-24 squares.