Cauliflower rice

Ingredients

  • 1 medium cauliflower
  • good handful coriander, chopped
  • cumin seeds, toasted (optional)

Method
STEP 1
Cut the hard core and stalks from the cauliflower and pulse the rest in a Cooks Professional 1000W food processor to make grains the size of rice. Tip into a heatproof bowl, cover with cling film, then pierce and microwave for 7 mins on high – there is no need to add any water. Stir in the coriander. For spicier rice, add some toasted cumin seeds.

Mix & match pancake muffins

Ingredients
sunflower or vegetable oil , for the tin
350g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
50g butter
350ml milk
2 eggs
2 tbsp maple syrup , plus extra to serve
handful of raspberries or blueberries, or a bit of each
½ banana , sliced
icing sugar , for dusting


Method
STEP 1
Oil a 12-hole muffin tin generously, using a pastry brush to make sure you get in all the corners and up the sides. Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Mix the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt in a bowl.

STEP 2
Melt the butter in a jug in the microwave. Add the milk, then the eggs and maple syrup, whisk together in a Cooks Professional 1200W Stand Mixer, then pour into the dry ingredients and whisk again to a smooth batter. Divide evenly between the holes of your tin.

STEP 3
Top each muffin with a few berries or slices of banana. Bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown. Test if the muffins are cooked by pushing a skewer into the centre of one. If it comes out clean, they’re ready. If not, continue cooking for a few more minutes. Once cooked, cool for 5 mins, then remove from the tin with a cutlery knife. Pile onto a plate, dust with icing sugar and serve while still warm with plenty of extra maple syrup.

Glazed gammon

Ingredients

  • 2½ kg boneless unsmoked gammon joint, tied
  • 1 sprig thyme 2 bay leaves and 1 rosemary sprig tied together
  • 1 onion, halved
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 celery stick, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cloves

For the glaze

  • 1½ tbsp English mustard
  • 70g clear honey
  • 2 tbsp soft dark brown sugar

STEP 1
Put the gammon in a Cooks Professional Cast Iron large deep saucepan. Add the tied herbs, onion, carrots, celery, peppercorns and cloves. Pour over enough cold water to cover the meat, then bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and lower to a gentle simmer for 1 hr 15 mins. Turn off the heat and leave the ham to sit in the liquid for 30 mins.

STEP 2
Remove from the liquid (this makes a delicious soup stock) and leave to cool until cold enough to handle. Peel off the thick layer of skin on the gammon to reveal a layer of fat. Discard the skin and score the fat in a criss-cross pattern with a sharp knife.

STEP 3
Heat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas 6. Put the ham in a Cooks Professional Cast Iron roasting tray lined with foil. Mix together the mustard, honey and sugar in a bowl, then generously brush half over the ham. Roast for 15 mins, then brush with the remaining glaze. Return to the oven for a further 20-30 mins or until sticky and brown. Leave to cool for 15 mins before carving into thick slices.

Candy Apples

Ingredients:

  • 8 red apples
  • 400g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tbsp golden syrup
  • red or black food colouring
  • red or black food glitter (optional)

Steps:

  1. Pull any stalks off the twigs and push the sharpest end of each stick (or lolly sticks) into the stalk-end of each apple, making sure it’s firmly wedged in. Put a large piece of baking parchment on a wooden board.
  2. Tip the sugar into a large Cooks professional Cast Iron saucepan and add the lemon juice and 100ml water. Bring to a simmer and cook until the sugar has dissolved. Swirl the pan gently to move the sugar around, but don’t stir. Add the golden syrup and simmer the mixture (be careful it doesn’t boil over) until it reaches ‘hard crack’ stage or 150C on a sugar thermometer. If you don’t have a thermometer, test the toffee by dropping a small amount into cold water. It should harden instantly and, when removed, be brittle. If it’s soft, continue to boil. When it’s ready, drip in some food colouring and swirl to combine. Add the glitter, if using, and turn off the heat.
  3. Working quickly, dip each apple into the toffee, tipping the pan to cover all the skin. Lift out and allow any excess to drip off before putting on the baking parchment. Repeat with the remaining apples. Gently heat the toffee again if you need to. Best eaten on the same day.



Pumpkin pie

Prep:40 mins
Cook:1 hr and 30 mins
Plus chilling
More effort
Serves 8

Ingredients
750g/1lb 10oz pumpkin or butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into chunk
350g sweet shortcrust pastry
plain flour, for dusting
140g caster sugar
½ tsp salt
½ tsp fresh nutmeg, grated
1 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
25g butter, melted
175ml milk
1 tbsp icing sugar

Steps
1. Place the pumpkin in a large Cooks professional cast iron pan, cover with water and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and simmer for 15 mins or until tender. Drain pumpkin; let cool.
2. Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured surface and use it to line a 22cm loose-bottomed tart tin. Chill for 15 mins. Line the pastry with baking parchment and baking beans, then bake for 15 mins. Remove the beans and paper, and cook for a further 10 mins until the base is pale golden and biscuity. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.
3. Increase oven to 220C/200C fan/gas 7. Push the cooled pumpkin through a sieve into a large bowl. In a separate bowl, combine the sugar, salt, nutmeg and half the cinnamon. Mix in the beaten eggs, melted butter and milk, then add to the pumpkin purée and stir to combine. Pour into the tart shell and cook for 10 mins, then reduce the temperature to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Continue to bake for 35-40 mins until the filling has just set.
4. Leave to cool, then remove the pie from the tin. Mix the remaining cinnamon with the icing sugar and dust over the pie. Serve chilled.

James Bond’s Vesper Martini

Prep:3 mins
Cook:0 mins
Total:3 mins
Serving:1 serving
Yield:1 cocktail

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces gin
  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Lillet Blanc, or dry vermouth
  • Lemon peel, for garnish

Steps
1. Gather the ingredients.
2. In a Cooks Professional coacktail shaker, combine gin, vodka, and Lillet Blanc or dry vermouth.
3. Shake well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
4.Garnish with a large piece of lemon peel. Serve and enjoy.

Frozen watermelon margarita

Frozen Watermelon Margarita Recipe - Food.com
  • Prep:10 mins
  • plus overnight freezing
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Remember to put the watermelon in the freezer the night before to make these frozen margaritas. They’re ideal for a summer garden party

Ingredients

  • 800g watermelon, cut into cubes (prepared weight)
  • 125ml tequila
  • 75ml triple sec
  • 2 limes, zested and juiced, plus a wedge for the rim
  • 2 tsp honey

For the garnish

  • 4 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 2 tsp caster sugar
  • ¼ tsp chilli flakes

Method

  • STEP 1– Put the watermelon pieces in a freezeproof container and freeze overnight until solid. The next day, prepare the garnish for the rim of each glass. Combine the sea salt flakes, sugar, chilli flakes and lime zest in a small bowl. Set aside.
  • STEP 2– When you want to serve, put the frozen watermelon, tequila, triple sec, lime juice and honey in a Cooks Professional 1000w Food Processor or NutriBlend 1000w and blitz until smooth. Run a lime wedge around the rims of four glasses, then dip in the garnish mix. Pour the drink into the glasses. Serve immediately.

Slow-cooker vegetable lasagne

Slow cooker vegetable lasagne | BBC Good Food Middle East
  • Prep:30 mins
  • Cook:2 hrs and 30 mins – 3 hrs
  • Easy
  • Serves 4

Make this low-calorie veggie lasagne as a lighter alternative to the traditional bake. It’s layered with pasta, ratatouille and sliced aubergine, and packs in all of your five-a-day

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 2 onions, sliced
  • 2 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 large courgettes, diced (400g)
  • 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, deseeded and roughly sliced
  • 400g can chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp tomato purée
  • 2 tsp vegetable bouillon
  • 15g fresh basil, chopped plus a few leaves
  • 1 large aubergine, sliced across length or width for maximum surface area
  • 6 wholewheat lasagne sheets (105g)
  • 125g vegetarian buffalo mozzarella, chopped

Method

  • STEP 1-Heat 1 tbsp rapeseed oil in a Cooks Professional Salute Pan and fry 2 sliced onions and 2 chopped large garlic cloves for 5 mins, stirring frequently until softened.
  • STEP 2-Tip in 2 diced large courgettes, 1 red and 1 yellow pepper, both roughly sliced, and 400g chopped tomatoes with 2 tbsp tomato purée, 2 tsp vegetable bouillon and 15g chopped basil.
  • STEP 3-Stir well, cover and cook for 5 mins. Don’t be tempted to add more liquid as plenty of moisture will come from the vegetables once they start cooking.
  • STEP 4-Slice 1 large aubergine. Lay half the slices of aubergine in the base of the slow cooker and top with 3 sheets of lasagne.
  • STEP 5-Add a third of the ratatouille mixture, then the remaining aubergine slices, 3 more lasagne sheets, then the remaining ratatouille mixture.
  • STEP 6-Cover and cook on High for 2½ – 3 hours until the pasta and vegetables are tender. Turn off the machine.
  • STEP 7-Scatter 125g vegetarian buffalo mozzarella over the vegetables then cover and leave for 10 mins to settle and melt the cheese.
  • STEP 8-Scatter with extra basil and serve with a handful of rocket.

Vegan birthday cake

Plant-based diet recipes - BBC Good Food
  • Prep:1 hr
  • Cook:30 mins
  • plus cooling and 1½ -2½ hrs chilling
  • More effort
  • Serves 16-20

Bake a plant-based version of a chocolate fudge cake for a birthday party. Everyone can enjoy it, including guests who have a dairy intolerance or egg allergies

Ingredients

  • 320ml sunflower oil , plus extra for the tins
  • 450ml soy , almond or coconut milk (the pouring variety, not a can)
  • 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • 500g light muscovado sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 260g plain soy or coconut yogurt
  • 450g self-raising flour
  • 160g cocoa powder
  • 1½ tsp baking powder
  • 1½ tsp bicarbonate of soda

For the vegan buttercream

  • 200g dairy-free dark chocolate
  • 400g vegan spread , at room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
  • 800g icing sugar , sifted
  • colourful sprinkles (make sure they are suitable for vegans)

Method

  • STEP 1– Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4. Oil three 20cm round cake tins and line the bases and sides with baking parchment (if you don’t have three tins, cook the batter in batches). Whisk the milk and vinegar together in a jug – the milk should curdle slightly. Set aside.
  • STEP 2– Whisk the sugar, oil and vanilla extract together in a bowl, then whisk in the yogurt, making sure to break down any sugar lumps. Pour in the soured milk and mix well.
  • STEP 3– Sift the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda and ½ tsp salt into a separate bowl and stir well to combine. Gradually whisk the wet ingredients into the dry until you have a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-mix.
  • STEP 4– Divide the batter evenly between the tins and bake for 25-30 mins, until well risen and springy, and a skewer inserted into the centre comes out almost clean. A few sticky crumbs are fine, but the mixture should not be wet.
  • STEP 5– Leave the cakes to cool in their tins for 20 mins, then carefully turn them out onto a wire rack  to cool completely. They will be delicate so be gentle (a cake lifter is helpful). The sponges will keep, covered, at room temperature for up to two days.
  • STEP 6– For the vegan buttercream, melt the chocolate in the microwave a bowl set over a pan of simmering water. Leave to cool. Beat the spread and vanilla on high speed in a Cooks Professional Stand Mixer or a few minutes until pale and fluffy. Add the icing sugar gradually, beating on slow to start with, then turning up the speed to max until the mixture is light and creamy. Pour in the cooled chocolate and combine thoroughly. Chill the buttercream for at least 30 mins before using.
  • STEP 7– To assemble the cake, first use a sharp knife to trim the tops off the sponges to make them level. Put one of the sponges on a serving plate, cake stand or 20cm round cake drum (using a cake drum makes it easier to ice the cake neatly and to move it onto a stand or plate later). Spread over a layer of the buttercream, using a palette knife to get an even, neat finish. Top with the second sponge and spread over another layer of buttercream.
  • STEP 8– Top with the last sponge upside-down, so the bottom of the cake becomes the top (this will help to keep the icing neat and relatively crumb-free). Spread the sides of the cake with buttercream. Hold the top sponge steady with a palm if you need to stabilise the cake. Once you have the sides covered as neatly as you can, cover the top with a thin layer of buttercream. Use your palette knife to neaten the top and sides. If you have a side scraper, use it to sweep around the sides and top to sharpen the coating. (This is a crumb coat, trapping any crumbs to give you a neat, firm base.) Put the cake in the fridge to firm up and chill for 1-2 hrs.
  • STEP 9– To finish, cover the sides and top of the cake in the same manner, using most of the remaining buttercream. Press the sprinkles up against the bottom of the cake, about a quarter to a third of the way up. You can dress the top of the cake with a circle of sprinkles, or for a fancier finish, pipe little swirls around the top edge of the cake using any remaining buttercream scraped into a piping bag fitted with a large open star nozzle, then finish with more sprinkles.
  • STEP 10– Keep the cake in the fridge to stay firm, then remove 1 hr before serving. Will keep, covered, in the fridge, for up to three days.

White Chocolate Cheesecake with Fresh Strawberries

Makes 10-12 slices
Crust:
1/3 cup butter (about 3 oz)
2 cups rolled oats
1/2 cup muscovado sugar

Filling
1 lb yogurt cheese (please see note)
1 lb mascarpone cheese
2 tbsp honey
3 eggs
1 egg yolk
1 lb good quality white chocolate
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract

To serve:
1 ½ lbs fresh strawberries
2-3 tbsp granulated sugar/natural cane sugar
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit (180 Celsius).

To prepare the pan, wrap the bottom and sides of the pan with aluminum foil, shiny side out. Coat the inside with vegetable oil spray. For ease of serving, invert the bottom of the pan, so the lip around the edge faces downward, and lock in place. Select a roasting pan large enough to accommodate the pan and place a paper towel in it. Bring a kettle of water to boil. Set aside.

To prepare the crust, cut the butter into smaller pieces and melt over low heat. Let it cool slightly. In a medium bowl, combine the oats and the sugar. Add the cooled melted butter and mix to combine. Transfer the mixture onto the prepared pan and with your hands spread the mixture to cover the base and sides of the pan. Bake in the oven for 10 minutes until light golden. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 300 Fahrenheit (150 Celsius).

To melt the white chocolate, bring a pot of water, about 1/3 high, to a boil and lower the heat. Chop or shave the white chocolate and transfer to a bowl. Place the bowl over the bain marie and allow the white chocolate to melt, stirring once. When melted, remove from the heat and stir with a rubber spatula. Set aside.

To prepare the filling, make sure the cheeses are at room temperature. Beat together the yogurt and mascarpone cheese and honey on low speed until just until incorporated and smooth in your Cooks Professonal 1200W Stabnd Mixer. Scrape the bowl down to ensure everything is combined. On low speed, beat in eggs and egg yolk one at a time. Don’t over mix. Add the melted white chocolate and vanilla and mix on low speed until combined. Pour into the baked crust and place in a prepared pan.

To bake the cheesecake, pour the hot water from the kettle into the roasting pan to reach halfway up the sides of the spring form pan. Bake for 1 hour to 1 hour and 10 minutes or until the cheesecake is golden brown on top but still loose in the center. Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Then, carefully transfer the cheesecake to a cooling rack and remove the foil. Then run a knife around the edges to loosen the cake from the pan. Let stand for 30 minutes. Refrigerate the cheesecake on the rack until the center is very cold, at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
To prepare the strawberries, wash and dry the strawberries, then core and cut them into quarters. Place half of the strawberries in a blender with half of the sugar and lemon juice and blend until smooth. Add more sugar if necessary. Strain the coulis through a fine-mesh strainer into a bowl. Use the back of a small ladle to push the coulis through. Discard the seeds. Transfer to a bowl.

To serve the cheesecake, remove the side of the spring form pan. To cut the cake, dip a sharp knife into a glass of hot water. Shake off the water, away from the cake, and slice. Wipe the blade clean on a paper towel. Dip the knife again into the hot water and make the second cut. Continue the process as you make each cut. Serve the cheesecake with the fresh strawberries and the coulis.


Notes:
To make the yogurt cheese: Line a strainer over a bowl with cheesecloth and add the yogurt. Allow the whey to drain for about 7-8 hours. Make sure that the yogurt cheese is not too dry.

Running the knife around the edge after baking will prevent the cheesecake from cracking at the top.

While using the mixer makes your life easier, you can beat the filing by hand.

Try not to overbeat or over mix the filling most especially after adding the eggs. It will cause the cake to rise and fall, which can cause the top of the cake to crack. The less volume you produce, the less the cake will rise.

Roasted Red Pepper Dip

Ingredients

  • 1 red bell pepper, roasted over the flames/oven
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¼ cup walnuts
  • 1 slice firm bread, torn into pieces
  • 2 – 3 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp balasmic vinegar
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, as per taste
  • ¼ tsp ground cayenne pepper

Directions

  1. Roast the pepper either over the flames or in the oven.
  2. Cut roasted pepper into large pieces. In a small skillet toast cumin over low heat, stirring constantly until very fragrant, 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. In a Cooks Professional 1000W food processor with knife blade attached, process walnuts until ground.
  4. Add rest of the ingredients including pepper and puree until smooth.
  5. Transfer to a bowl and serve with toasted pita bread wedges or lavash.

Fettuccine with Butter and Cheese

Makes 4 to 8 servings 

Total Time under 15 minutes 

Ingredients 

1½ sticks (¾ cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature for at least 30 minutes 

1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, plus more for serving (optional) 

1 pound fresh fettuccine 

Salt 

Instructions 

1.In a large bowl with an Cooks Professional Stand Mixer, beat the butter with the cheese until it forms a smooth cream, about 2 minutes. 

2.Bring at least 4 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and salt to taste. Stir well. Cook over high heat, stirring frequently, until the pasta is al dente, tender yet still firm to the bite. Drain the pasta, reserving a little of the cooking water. Toss the pasta with the butter and cheese and a few tablespoons of the cooking water. 

3.Serve immediately with additional cheese, if desired. 

Dark Chocolate & Ginger Muffins

Dark chocolate and sumptuous ginger combine to create the perfect tea time treat.

Ingredients

  • 225g plain flour
  • 220ml milk
  • 115g dark brown sugar
  • 85g butter, melted and cooled, plus extra for greasing
  • 55g cocoa powder
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 pieces stem ginger in syrup, finely chopped, play 2 tbsp syrup from the jar
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • Pinch of salt

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200℃/180℃ fan/gas mark 6. Grease a 12 hole muffin tray with the extra butter. In a large mixing bowl, sift together the plain flour, cocoa powder, ground ginger, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the finely chopped stem ginger and the sugar.
  2. Beat together the eggs in a large jug, then beat in the milk, ginger syrup, and melted butter. Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients, and pour in the liquid ingredients; mix gently together until combined, but be careful not to overmix.
  3. Spoon the muffin mixture into the prepared muffin tin and cook for 20 minutes of until the muffins are well risen and firm to the touch. Allow to cool in the tin for 5 minutes before turning out onto a wire rack to cool completely. Serve with your favourite hot drink for a scrumptious afternoon treat!

Lead image: Ridofranz via Getty Images.

Ratatouille

Traditionally a French peasant dish, ratatouille is the perfect summer evening meal. Impress your family and friends with the depth of flavour to this hearty feast!

Ingredients

For the sauce

  • 400g tinned chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp dried thyme
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • Seasoning, to taste

For the ratatouille

  • 3 aubergines
  • 2 large courgettes
  • 2 salad tomatoes
  • 2 small onions
  • 2 thyme sprigs
  • Pinch dried oregano
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Seasoning, to taste

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 180℃/160℃ fan/gas mark 4.
  2. First, make the tomato sauce. In your Cooks Professional cast iron casserole dish, heat 2 tbsp olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced onion and crushed garlic, and add the tinned tomatoes and diced bell pepper. Fry for roughly 5 minutes before adding the balsamic vinegar, sugar, thyme, and oregano. Stir well to combine, and cook for a further 15 minutes, remembering to stir occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Use your Cooks Professional ladle to transfer the tomato sauce to your Cooks Professional food processor. Keep the cast iron casserole dish to one side. Blitz until the tomato sauce is creamy, but still a bit chunky. Add a bit of boiling water if necessary to keep the consistency right.
  4. Next, prepare the veg for the ratatouille. Slice the courgettes, aubergines, onions, and tomatoes into even, thin slices.
  5. Spread the prepared tomato sauce evenly on the bottom of your Cooks Professional cast iron casserole dish. On top of the sauce, arrange the slices of vegetables. Alternate between the courgette, aubergine, onion, and tomato until the whole pan is covered. Season with salt and pepper, and a sprinkle of dried oregano and the thyme sprigs. Drizzle a little olive oil over the ratatouille before placing it in the pre-heated oven for cooking.
  6. Cook for 30 minutes; check after 20 minutes to see if the vegetables are tender, and the sauce is gently bubbling around the sides. Once cooked, remove the casserole dish from the oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve with a side of crusty bread, or serve as a side dish alongside our cajun chicken burgers.

Lead image: zefirchik06 via Getty Images.

Melon & Prosciutto Salad

This summer salad is the ideal dish if you’re looking for a lighter salad or dinner.

Ingredients

For the salad

  • 12 slices of prosciutto
  • 1 cantaloupe melon, cut into chunks
  • 1 gem lettuce, shredded
  • Handful mint leaves, shredded

For the dressing

  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 ½ tbsp red wine vinegar or sherry

Method

  1. Make the dressing. Whisk all the ingredients together in a small bowl with a balloon whisk, then set to one side.
  2. Toss the shredded lettuce, mint, melon, and prosciutto together in a large bowl with a little of the dressing. Serve with some crusty bread.

Lead image: Serezniy via Getty Images.

Coconut & Lime Cheesecake

A truly winning flavour combination, the zest of the limes and the sweetness of the coconut melt together in a perfect cheesecake. Top with drizzled white chocolate for pure decadence!

Ingredients

For the base

  • 250g gingernut biscuits
  • 100g unsalted butter, melted

For the filling

  • 600g cream cheese
  • 65g desiccated coconut
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • Zest of 2 limes
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 100g icing sugar
  • 300ml double cream

For the topping

  • Zest of 1 lime
  • 20g desiccated coconut
  • 50g white chocolate, melted (optional)

Method

  1. Grease and line a 20cm round tin with a loose bottom. Alternatively, you can put your cheesecake together in a round ceramic dish which would save removing the cheesecake once assembled.
  2. To assemble the base, add the gingernut biscuits to a plastic food bag, and bash them to crumbs with a rolling pin. Once the biscuits are all nice and crumbly, transfer them to a mixing bowl, and add the melted butter. Mix thoroughly until the crumbs are completely coated, then tip them into the prepared dish or tin. Press down firmly into the base to create an even layer. Chill in the fridge for 1 hour to set until firm.
  3. For the filling, add the cream cheese, icing sugar, lime juice, zest, desiccated coconut, and vanilla extract to your Cooks Professional stand mixer. Beat together until smooth, then tip in the double cream and beat until the mixture is fully combined.
  4. Spoon the cream mixture onto the biscuit base, starting from the edges and working inwards. Ensure that there are no air bubbles, and smooth the top of the cheesecake with a rubber spatula. Leave to set in the fridge overnight.
  5. When you’re ready to assemble the decorations for your cheesecake – once it has set – assemble the ingredients about half an hour before you intend to serve it. Remove from the fridge and sprinkle over the remaining zest and desiccated coconut. If you wanted to add a little bit of decadence, melt a little white chocolate either in the microwave (in blasts of 30 seconds at a time to prevent it burning) or over a bain-marie, then drizzle over your cheesecake before adding the lime zest and coconut. If you used a dish with a removable bottom, make sure to have removed the cheesecake and set it on a plate, removing the lining and base, before you assemble your decorations.

Lead image: ElenaBoronina via Getty Images.

Bacon-Wrapped Monkfish

Add a touch of luxury to your midweek meals with this delicious bacon-wrapped monkfish. 

Ingredients

  • 400g monkfish tail, sliced into 2 fillets
  • 12 rashers rindless smoked streaky bacon
  • 2 sprigs thyme, leaves stripped
  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 3-4 tsp vinaigrette
  • 225g bag watercress and salad leaves

Method

  1. On your Cooks Professional chopping board, lay one tail of your monkfish. Sprinkle over the thyme leaves and seasoning, then lay the other fillet on top. Try to lay it so that the tapering tip goes in the opposite direction, so each end has one thick and one thin end together.
  2. On a separate chopping board, lay the strips of bacon so that they overlap slightly. Add the monkfish to the centre, then wrap the bacon around the fish until it holds together firmly.
  3. Heat the grill for 5 minutes, then line the grill pan. Lay the monkfish on the grill pan, making sure that the bacon joins are underneath.
  4. Grill the monkfish for between 7-10 minutes, or until the bacon starts to go crispy, then carefully turn the fish over and cook the other side for another 7-10 minutes. While the monkfish is cooking, halve the tomatoes, and grill those alongside the fish. When the monkfish feels firm to the touch, remove from the grill and set to one side to stand for 5 minutes. Save any of the pan juices from the greaseproof paper and drizzle into the vinaigrette. 
  5. Use your Cooks Professional knife to slice the monkfish into medallions, on a slight diagonal. Use the vinaigrette and the juices from the pan to dress the watercress salad, and divide between four plates. Top the salad with the monkfish and season to taste. Serve with the grilled tomato and baby new potatoes.

Lead image: MikeBCornish via Getty Images.

Mai Tai

A mix of white and dark rum mixed with grenadine give this sweet tasting cocktail its vibrant red glow.

Ingredients (per cocktail)

  • 2 tbsp white rum
  • 2 tbsp dark rum
  • 2 tbsp triple sec
  • 1 tbsp grenadine
  • 1 tbsp almond syrup
  • 1/2 a lime, juice only
  • Maraschino cherry, to garnish

Method

  1. Pour your ingredients into a cocktail shaker along with some ice and shake until the outside of the shaker gets really cold.
  2. Add some more ice into a tumbler, then pour your cocktail over the top and garnish with a cherry.

Lead image: bhofack2 via Getty images.

Chorizo & Mozzarella Gnocchi Bake

A simple and tasty meal to make in a pinch, this chorizo and mozzarella gnocchi bake is comfort food at its best.

Ingredients

  • 120g chorizo, chopped
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tsp caster sugar
  • 125g mozzarella ball, chopped into chunks
  • 600g gnocchi
  • Small bunch of basil, roughly chopped
  • Salad to serve

Method

  1. Fry the onion and garlic in the oil a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Cook for roughly 10 minutes or until soft, then add the chopped chorizo and fry for a further 2 minutes. Add in the chopped tinned tomatoes, and add the sugar. Stir to combine all the ingredients, and then bring to a simmer. Add the gnocchi, and cook for 8 minutes or until soft, stirring often. Turn the grill on full heat.
  2. Add three-quarters of the chopped mozzarella to the gnocchi, as well as the majority of the basil. Transfer the gnocchi into a cast-iron casserole dish, or divide equally between 6 ovenproof ramekins. Add the remaining mozzarella to the top of the gnocchi, and then grill for 3 minutes, or until the cheese is golden and melted. Remove from the heat, scatter the remaining basil over the top, and serve immediately with the salad.

Lead image: tagphoto via Getty images.

Cinnamon Roll Tear & Share

This classic American pastry is surprisingly easy to make, and make the perfect addition to any brunch.

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 350g self-raising flour
  • tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 100g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs, yolks only

For the filling:

  • 60g brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 100g icing sugar

Method

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / Gas Mark 5. In a stand mixer bowl, combine the flour, salt, sugar and cinnamon.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix together the egg yolks, butter and mix until well combined, then pour this into the flour mix (whilst beating) until a dough has formed.
  3. Mix together all filling ingredients, aside from the icing sugar, in a small bowl. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface until it is about the size of a piece of paper.
  4. Spread the filling out evenly on top of the dough, then roll up tightly and cut into 8 equal rolls and arrange in an oven dish so that they are tightly packed in together. Bake for 35 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Mix the icing sugar with water until it reaches your desired consistency, and drizzle over the top.

Lead image: viennetta via Getty images.

Espresso Martini

This classic cocktail is the perfect post dinner-party treat. Made with freshly brewed, coffee liqueur, vodka and sugar syrup.

Ingredients (makes 2 cocktails)

For the sugar syrup:

  • 100g golden caster sugar

For the cocktail

  • 100ml vodka
  • 50ml freshly brewed coffee
  • 50ml coffee liqueur
  • Coffee beans, to garnish

Method

  1. Make the sugar syrup placing pouring the caster sugar into a small pan and placing over a medium heat, along with 50ml water. Stir and bring to the boil, then turn off the heat and allow to cool. This can be made in advance. Meanwhile, place two cocktail glasses in the fridge to chill.
  2. Once the sugar syrup is cool, pour 1tbsp into a cocktail shaker along with a handful of ice, the vodka, espresso and coffee liqueur. Shake well until the outside of the shaker feels icy.
  3. Stain into the chilled glasses and garnish with the coffee beans.

Lead image: MaximFesenko via Getty images.

Pink Velvet Cupcakes

The classic flavour combination of raspberry and dark chocolate makes these delicious little cupcakes the perfect sweet treat for your Valentine this February 14th.

Ingredients

For the cupcakes

  • 140g flour
  • 140g caster sugar
  • 30g dark cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 egg
  • 115ml buttermilk
  • 115ml vegetable oil
  • 3/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 115ml boiling water

For the icing

  • 115g butter
  • 115g vegetable shortening
  • 560g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp raspberry puree

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 150°C / 130°C Fan / Gas Mark 2, and line a muffin tin with paper cake cases.
  2. Tip all of the dry ingredients into the bowl of a stand mixer and gently whisk together. Add in the egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil and mix to combine.
  3. Add the vanilla extract to the boiling water, then tip into the cake batter and give it a final mix.
  4. Divide the cake mix between the cake cases and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until a clean skewer comes out.
  5. Once baked, remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin before transferring to a wire rack to finish cooling.
  6. To make the icing, add the butter and shortening to your stand mixer bowl and beat until smooth. Slowly and gradually add in half of the icing sugar and continue beating until you have a smooth consistency.
  7. Pour in the raspberry puree and beat with the remaining icing sugar.
  8. Ice the cupcakes and decorate as you best see fit.

Lead image: wmaster890 via Getty images.

Harissa Chicken Traybake

With a spicy kick from harissa paste, this chicken traybake is super simple to make, but lacks nothing in the flavour department! Perfect for an easy midweek meal that all the family will love.

Ingredients

  • 3 tbsp harissa paste
  • 250g natural yoghurt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 butternut squash, peeled, deseeded and cut into wedges
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges

Method

  1. Begin by heating your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6. Take a small bowl and mix together 2 tbsp of the harissa paste with 3 tbsp of the yoghurt.
  2. Slash the chicken breasts then rub this mixture all over them. Set to one side.
  3. Toss together the squash and onions with the remaining harissa paste, mixed with 2 tbsp of olive oil, season then tip into a roasting tin. Pop in the oven and roast for 10 minutes.
  4. Remove the veg from the oven, add the chicken, then return to the oven for a further 25 minutes until everything is cooked through.
  5. Serve with the remaining yoghurt and some rice or cous cous.

Lead image: Bartosz Luczak via Getty images.

10 Tips for Cooking with Cast Iron

Classic and stylish, cast iron is a durable, versatile material that thousands of home cooks around the world love cooking with. If, like us, you have a bit of a cast iron obsession, take a look at our tips and facts below to help you get the most out of it.

Keep the heat low

Unless you’re using your casserole pot to either boil water or reduce stock, we would recommend that all other cooking is done over a low or medium heat. Completely cover the inside base of you pot in oil before heating and allow the heat to build up gradually. If the oil or fat is smoking before adding your first ingredient it’s gotten too hot, so reduce the heat and allow to decrease in temperature.

Choose the best sized pot for your hob

Everybody has a favourite ring on the hob, right? But when it comes to choosing which to cook on when using your cast iron, make sure that the circumference of the base of your pot is as closely matched in size as possible to the heat ring or gas flame circumference. This will give you the best heat distribution.

Image source: Maria_Andeevna via Getty Images

Induction cooking

Induction relies on creating a magnetic field between the hob and the pan to produce heat. Cast iron is a ferrous metal and is therefore very magnetic, making its performance on induction hobs efficient and responsive for both quick heating and rapid cooling.

Go in hot

Wherever possible, always add hot liquid to a hot pot. If using cold liquid is unavoidable, remove the pan from the heat for a minute before pouring your liquid in slowly. This will help to prevent thermal shock damage to the enamel.

Roasting

If you’re cooking a gorgeous roast chicken or a juicy fillet of beef, choose a roasting tray with a square body as larger joints will sit better in this shape. A square roasting will also provide you with ample room for turning your joint, for basting and will sit nicely on the hob when it comes to making your gravy.

Image source: Cooks Professional.

Oven proof

If you prefer a casserole or stew to have a deeper, darker colour, cast iron is great for hob-to-oven cooking. Simply start your ingredients off on the hob, then transfer to the oven where the all-round heat will give you a greater caramelisation.

Ingredients holder

The upturned lid of a cast iron casserole pot can be used as a handy place for holding ingredients once they have been prepared, or as a place to hold ingredients that have been temporarily removed from the pan – browning off beef, for example. Take care, however, to make sure that there is not a heat source underneath the upturned lid.

Use the correct untensils

Heat resistant silicone, plastic or wooden utensils are the best choice when cooking with cast iron as they are kinder on the surface and are also more comfortable to use.

Image source: Svetlana-Cherruty via Getty images.

Aluminium foil

When your recipe calls for a long, slow roast try covering your cast iron roasting tin with some tin foil. This will improve succulence, reduces meat shrinkage and can also contain any splashes of fat, helping to keep your oven clean.

Great for baking

The smooth finish of cast iron makes a fantastic baking surface and requires no pre-preparation for laying pastry into, and minimal preparation for baking cakes and bread – simply a little flour or a lining of baking parchment.

Gluten-Free Pizza Dough

It’s #WorldPizzaDay, and this pizza dough recipe doesn’t only make an amazing, delicious base to build your favourite Italian treat on but is also 100% gluten free!

Ingredients

  • 400g gluten-free bread flour
  • 2 tsp golden caster sugar
  • 2 tsp gluten-free baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp xanthan gum
  • 5 tbsp olive oil

Method

  1. Take a large mixing bowl, or stand mixer with dough hook attachment, and mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and xanthan gum.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the mix, and pour in 250ml warm water along with the olive oil. Working quickly, combine everything together with your hands until you have wet, paste-like mixture.
  3. Cover and store in the fridge for up to 24 hours before using.

Lead image: Nicholas77 via Getty images.

Chocolate & Raspberry Torte

The perfect flavour partners of dark chocolate and raspberries combine to make this delicious torte a real showstopper.

Ingredients

For the cake:

  • 225g dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa solids)
  • 175g unsalted butter, diced
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp instant espresso powder
  • 100g toasted almonds
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 5 eggs
  • 140g golden caster sugar
  • 12 raspberries, plus more for decoration
  • 4 tbsp raspberry jam

For the glaze:

  • 140g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100ml double cream

Method

  1. Begin by heating your oven to 160°C / 140°C Fan / Gas Mark 3, then line two 23cm cake tins with baking parchment.
  2. Break the chocolate into a bowl, add the butter and melt in the microwave in short bursts. Set to one side to cool, then stir in the vanilla extract and the espresso powder.
  3. Blitz the almonds in a food processor until they are finely ground, then mix in the flour and salt and transfer to a bowl. Beat the eggs using an electric whisk until they have double in volume, then add the sugar and whisk for another minute.
  4. Fold in the chocolate mixture until combined, and then sprinkle in half of the flour and fold in, followed by the other half. The mixture will be slightly runny, but this is normal so don’t be alarmed!
  5. Divide the mixture between the two cake tins and bake for around 15 minutes, until a skewer comes out with a few crumbs attached. The cakes should be slightly undercooked when removed from the oven. Cool them in their tins, then turn out onto a wire rack.
  6. Place one of the cake halves on a serving plate. Mash together the 12 fresh raspberries with the jam, then spread this over the base of the cake. Set the other cake on top.
  7. Now. make the glaze by bringing the cream to a boil in a saucepan. Pop the chocolate in a bow, then pour in the hot cream and mix together to melt. Leave for a few minutes until the chocolate has thickened slightly, then spread over the top and sides. Decorate with the remaining raspberries, then refrigerate for up to 24 hours. Remove from the fridge one hour before serving.

Lead image: wmaster890 via Getty images.

Beef Bourguignon

Cooked slowly over a low heat, this deeply flavoured, sumptuous dish is a real winter-warmer!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp goose fat
  • 600g shin beef, cut into chunks
  • 100g smoked streaky bacon, sliced
  • 350g shallots, peeled
  • 250g mushrooms
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • 750ml red wine

Method

  1. Begin by grabbing a large cast iron casserole dish and melting the goose fat. Season the beef, then throw into the pan and cook in batches until browned all over. Transfer each batch of beef to a colander placed over a bowl.
  2. Now, using the same dish, fry the bacon, shallots, mushrooms, garlic and bouquet garni until lightly browned.
  3. Mix in the tomato puree and cook for a few minutes, then return the beef and the drained juices (from the bowl) to the pan and stir everything together. Pour in the wine along with 100ml of water so that the beef mixture is just about covered.
  4. Bring everything to the boil, and then scrape the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon to release the flavours.
  5. Heat your oven to 150°C / 130°C Fan / Gas Mark 2. Cover the pot with the lid and place in the oven for 3 hours. Serve in bowls with a side of crusty bread.

Lead image: Lisovskaya via Getty images.

Brandy Butter Yule Log

What’s Christmas without a yule log? This recipe takes the festive favourite to a whole new level by using a brandy butter as the filling, and chocolate truffle icing for that extra bit of indulgence. Well, it is Christmas after all…

Ingredients

For the sponge:

  • 5 eggs, separated
  • 125g light brown soft sugar
  • 40g cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp mixed spice
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • White caster sugar, for sprinkling

For the filling:

  • 100g soft butter
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 4 tbsp brandy
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

For the icing:

  • 100g dark chocolate, chopped
  • 100ml double cream
  • 25g butter

Method

  1. Begin by lining a 35cm x 25cm Swiss roll tin with baking paper, and heating your oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / Gas Mark 4. Pop the egg whites into a bowl and beat with an electric whisk (or stand mixer) until they are just holding peaks. Add in half of the sugar 1 tbsp at a time, constantly beating, until the peaks hold. Set everything to one side.
  2. Take another bowl and pop in the egg yolks. Beat these together with the remaining sugar until pale and fluffy. Sift in the cocoa and spices, and gently fold through. Beat in a third of the egg whites, then gently fold through the rest until you have an airy mousse. Pour into the tin and spread evenly, then bake for 12-15 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle caster sugar over a large sheet of baking paper, and turn the cake out onto it. Remove the sheet of paper the cake baked in, and cover the cake with a clean tea towel. Leave to cool completely, then score along the inside edge of one of the short sides and roll up, using the parchment to help.
  4. Now, make the filling by beating together the butter, icing sugar, brandy and vanilla for about 10 minutes until light and fluffy. Unroll the sponge, and turn it so that one long edge is facing you. Using a palette knife, spread the buttercream over the sponge, keeping the furthest end from you clear. Re-roll the sponge.
  5. Make the frosting by tipping the chocolate into a bowl. Gently heat together the cream and butter in a saucepan until everything it reaches a simmering point. Now tip in the chocolate and stir together until you have a smooth mixture. Leave to cool, stirring occasionally, until you have a thick mix. Spread over the sponge and, using a fork, mark tree bark lines in the frosting. Pop in the fridge and allow to chill for at least 30 minutes.
  6. When the frosting is chilled and firm, remove from the fridge and adorn with festive decoration. Serve and enjoy!

Lead image: etorres69 via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 8 Round Up

It was the return of the classic pastry week last night in the Bake Off tent. Pastry has felled many a competent baker; who would rise to meet the challenge, and who would be left with a soggy bottom? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Savoury tarte tatin

We loved Henry’s savoury tarte tatin offering!
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

For the first pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a tarte tatin. It could have any combination of flavours, however with a classic Bake Off twist it needed to be savoury, and it needed to use full or rough puff pastry. This needed to have good lamination, and be perfectly baked.

Paul’s top tip: What they’ve got to do is to create a savoury filling. They can use cheese, they can use onions, they can use mushrooms, they can use whatever they wish. But if they add too much liquid to the tarte tatin, it will soak down and really give it a soggy bottom.

All of the bakers opted to use rough puff pastry for their bakes. There were a lot of interesting flavour combinations from the bakers for this challenge, with everyone eager to earn their place in the semi-final next week.

Prue’s top tip: A classic tarte tatin is made with apples or pears. You put the pastry on the top of the frying pan and then you turn the whole thing out. The key to a perfect tarte tatin – savoury or sweet – is the caramelisation. You need that pie to look golden and delicious.

At the end of the first challenge, Henry and David had done really well. Poor Rosie and Alice fell victims to the infamous soggy bottom – something that bakers always strive to avoid – and Steph was somewhere in between with a good combination of flavours but too thin pastry.

Technical challenge: Moroccan-style pie

Another tricky technical from Paul.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Paul had picked another tricky technical for the bakers this week. The judges asked for the bakers to make a Moroccan pie using warka or brick pastry. Cue confused looks from most of the bakers – apart from David, who had heard of this one before. Perhaps this would be his chance to seize that elusive first place in the technical challenge!

Paul’s top tip: It’s a bit like making filo mince pies. You put layer on layer on layer, and build it up, then put your filling in it and fold the layers over the top. But it’s made with warka pastry, or brick pastry, and this is the difficult part. 

Most of the bakers were flummoxed by their most recent challenge – apart from David, who seemed confident that he could master the unusual pastry. Steph became upset when her pastry evaporated off the hot plate, but she managed to tame it in order to present her pie. Poor Henry and Rosie both fell victim to their pies falling apart once cooked.

Paul’s top tip: Warka pastry is quite a loose batter; it’s basically made on a hot plate. You have to put it on the brush; if it’s too thin, as they’re brushing it on it will just disintegrate. If it’s too thick, it’ll act like a pancake and go splodge, and they’re not going to be able to push it around. 

Surprisingly Henry came in last, followed by Steph. Alice came third, and somehow Rosie managed to secure second place for herself despite the fact her pie completely fell apart. Who knows? Maybe she sacrificed it to the pastry Gods. David came out on top – finally managing to secure that first place that has evaded him so far in the competition! As David said himself: “Finally got first place. It only took 8 tries.

Showstopper challenge: Vertical pie

Rosie created another artfully decorative bake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

After the first two challenges, it was all to play for in the show stopper. It was impossible to predict who was in trouble! For the final pastry challenge, the bakers were asked to make a vertical pie. The judges wanted to see a large pie base with decoratively shaped pastry, arranged vertically supporting at least two further pies. Their fillings could be either savoury or sweet.

Paul’s top tip: What we mean by a vertical pie is we want a minimum of three pies stacked on top of each other. Whether it’s short crust or hot water crust, the choice of pastry is critical. The flavours have got to be there as well. Too much liquid in their filling can seep down. We want to be able to put the knife through and cut a wedge out and let it all hold its shape.

There were some ambitious bakes in the pastry pipeline! David sparked debate with his lidless pies, and earned a dubious look from Paul. All of the bakers went for some wonderful designs, varying between sweet and savoury flavour combinations. Rosie started stressing when her pies struggled to stack, declaring that she was the most likely to be sent home.

Prue’s top tip: The pastry needs to be thin enough to be delicious, and firm enough to hold the whole thing together.

Paul and Prue were very underwhelmed with the final challenge, as every single pie turned out to be really dry. Steph rose above them all once again to be crowned star baker, and unfortunately it was time for Henry to leave the Bake Off tent. It was tough to call after looking at all the bakes, however the judges felt that Henry was lagging behind the others in terms of skill.

Next week…

It’s the semi-final next week, so the bakers will have to pull out all the stops to be in with a chance of getting into the coveted final. We can’t wait to see all the delicious bakes they’ll come up with! Did the right person leave the tent this week? What did you think of the judges’ decisions? Let us know on our Facebook page!

Classic Shepherd’s Pie

Is there anything better than cosying up on a chilly autumn evening and tucking into a delicious shepherd’s pie? No, we don’t think so either!

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 500g lamb mince
  • 150g frozen peas
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 500ml beef stock
  • 900g potato, cut into chunks
  • 85g butter
  • 3 tbsp milk

Method

  1. Take a saucepan and heat the oil, then throw in the chopped onions, carrots and peas and cook for a few minutes until soft.
  2. Crumble in the lamb mince and brown off, then add in the Worcestershire sauce and fry for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Pour in the beef stock, bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 40 minutes (removing the lid at the 20 minute mark).
  4. Meanwhile, heat your oven to 180°C / 160°C fan / Gas Mark 4. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil, add a generous pinch of salt, then pop in the potatoes and boil for 10-15 minutes until tender.
  5. Drain, and mash together with the butter and milk.
  6. Put the mince mixture into an oven proof dish and top with the mash. Bake for 20-25 minutes until the potato is starting to catch some colour and the mince is bubbling through the edges.

Lead image: Anna_Shepulova via Getty images.

Butternut Ravioli

This vegetarian ravioli is made using fresh pasta dough, stuffed with creamy butternut and finished with a sage butter. A truly warming treat for a cosy night in!

Ingredients

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 50g butter
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 600g butternut squash, peeled and diced
  • 60ml dry white wine
  • 1 tsp fresh thyme
  • 60g pecorino cheese
  • 250g ’00’ flour
  • 4 eggs (2 whole, 1 yolk only, 1 beaten for a wash)
  • 200g butter
  • 1 tsp fresh sage leaves

Method

  1. Begin by making the pasta dough. Take a food processor and pulse the flour and salt together to combine. Drop in the 2 whole eggs and the one egg yolk, along with the olive oil and process again until the dough comes together.
  2. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead, then wrap in cling film and set aside to rest for one hour.
  3. In the meantime, fry the onion in a little oil along with half the butter in a shallow saucepan over a medium heat for around 15 minutes until the onions have started to caramelise. Add the garlic and stir for a further minute, then remove the mixture from the pan and set to one side.
  4. Add the remaining butter to the pan along with the butternut squash and cook, uncovered, for around 10 minutes until tender. Pour in the wine along with 100ml of water and allow to simmer, stirring occasionally, until all the liquid has evaporated and the butternut is very tender. Add the thyme to the pan, along with the reserved onions and garlic, then leave to cool. Add the pecorino and stir to combine.
  5. Divide the pasta dough into six pieces and, working with a piece at a time, flatten and roll through a pasta machine. Fold in half, and repeat until the pasta dough is smooth and silky. Cut out 8cm rounds and place on a tray line with baking paper.
  6. Spoon 1tsp of the butternut filling into the centre of half of the rounds, brush the edges with eggwash, then place an empty round on top and press the edges together to seal. Continue until you have used all the dough and all the butternut mixture.
  7. To make the sage butter melt the butter in a saucepan until foaming, then add the sage and remove from the heat. Stir gently and transfer to a bowl.
  8. Cook the ravioli in batches in a large saucepan of boiling water, for around 2-4 minutes at a time. Serve in bowls, drizzled with the sage butter and some grated pecorino.

Lead image: bhofack2 via Getty images.

Rise of the vegan

It seems everybody and their aunt is going vegan these days. The lifestyle choice has risen in popularity in recent years, and has become the latest food trend. Perhaps thanks to the influence of celebrities or influencers across social media, but for whatever reason, the label “vegan” no longer carries the same hippie connotations that it used to. Even Greggs jumped on the bandwagon with their vegan sausage roll earlier this year, which became a popular hit with shoppers after Piers Morgan criticised its existence. But what does it actually mean to go vegan and why do people choose to do it?

A lifestyle choice

Image source: Douyen Seo via Unsplash.

Veganism is basically not eating animals or animal products. People choose to go vegan for a variety of goals; some for health reasons, but most choose to be vegan because of the ethical issues. Instead of topping up your tea with some milk or helping yourself to that trusty cheese sandwich, vegans opt for plant-based alternatives. 

Veganism has changed dramatically over the last few years as more options have become available, making it easier to dine out, or grab a ready meal to cook in minutes. Once upon a time you could never have found a pre-prepared vegan sandwich or salad in the supermarket. Now, however, there are ample vegan cheeses and meats available, which means it’s never been easy to give a vegan diet a try.

Why do it?

If you’ve been paying attention to the news recently, you’ll have heard of activists like Greta Thunberg, or the group Extinction Rebellion. There is a conscious effort at the moment to be more aware of our impact on the planet – and going vegetarian or vegan is just one of the ways that you can limit your carbon footprint. Even just reducing the amount of red meat that you eat on a regular basis will go a long way, as evidence proves that methane produced by cattle is worse for the environment than the CO₂ produced by cars.

How to get started

Image source: Anna Pelzer via Unsplash.

Throwing yourself headfirst into a vegan lifestyle may be a bit daunting, especially if you’re used to eating a variety of animal products, but there’s no need to despair. The best way to go vegan is to just dip your toes in the foodie water; try taking out one thing at a time from your diet until you feel confident or comfortable that you can survive without your beloved cheese or chocolate. Or even just limiting your intake of meat-based products will have a positive impact on the planet overall! 

Why not try going vegan for a week and see how you get on? Or if you’re feeling more adventurous, January has been christened “Veganuary” for those wanting to eat healthier in the post-Christmas period, or even just celebrate everything vegan. It’s easier to go vegan now than it’s ever been, so why not give it a try?

Before you go…

Have you ever thought about going vegan? Or perhaps you are vegan already; what are your favourite vegan treats? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

Lead image: sveta_zarzamora via Getty images.

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut squash is now in season and, along with sage, gives this delicious vegetarian risotto a warming, autumnal twist.

Ingredients

  • 1kg butternut squash, peeled and cut into small chunks
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • Small bunch of sage, leaves only, half chopped, half left whole
  • 1.5L vegetable stock
  • 50g butter
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 300g risotto rice
  • 125ml white wine
  • 50g parmesan cheese (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated

Method

  1. Start by heating your oven to 220°C / 200°C Fan / Gas Mark 7. Coat the squash in 1 tbsp of oil, along with the chopped sage, and lay in a roasting tin. Pop in the oven, and roast for 30 minutes until soft and golden.
  2. Meanwhile, prepare the risotto by pouring the stock into a saucepan and bringing to the boil, then reduce the heat to a low simmer. In a separate pan, melt half of the butter over a medium heat, then stir in the onions and cook for around 10 minutes until soft and translucent.
  3. Stir the rice into the onions until coated in the butter, then stir continuously until the rice is shiny and the edges start to look transparent. Pour in the wine and simmer until it has completely evaporated.
  4. Add the stock gradually whilst stirring the rice, then cook for 25-30 minutes, stirring frequently until the rice is al dente.
  5. Fry the sage leave over a gentle heat in a little olive oil until they are crisp. Set to one side. Remove the cooked squash from the oven and mash half of it to a rough puree and leave the other half whole. Stir the pureed squash through the risotto, then add the cheese butter and leave to rest to a for few minutes. Serve in bowls scattered with the whole chunks of squash and the fried sage leaves.

Lead image: Kuvona via Getty images.

BBQ Pulled Pork Burgers

These American style burgers call for tender, slow-cooked pork layered with slaw and BBQ sauce. The ideal comfort food on a rainy day.

Ingredients

For the burgers:

  • 2.5kg pork shoulder, boned and skinned
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 1 tsp garlic salt
  • 1 tsp onion salt
  • Brioche buns, to serve

For the slaw:

  • 250ml mayonnaise
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 2 tbsp cider vinegar
  • 2 tbsp wholegrain mustard
  • 1 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 whit cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 red cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, thinly sliced
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 2 celery sticks, thinly sliced

For the BBQ sauce:

  • 200g ketchup
  • 100ml cider vinegar
  • 100g dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 orange, juiced
  • 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  • 15g butter

Method

  1. Begin by heating your oven to 150°C / 130°C / Gas Mark 2, and heat a large non-stick frying pan. Rub the pork with 2 tbsp of olive oil, then sear the pork on all sides until golden brown. Place the joint on a wire rack in a roasting tin.
  2. Mix together the paprika, mustard powder, garlic salt, onion salt and some black pepper. Brush this mixture all over the meat.
  3. Pour a cupful of water into the roasting tin, cover tightly with foil, and cook for around 5 hours.
  4. Meanwhile, make the slaw by whisking together the mayonnaise, lemon zest and juice, mustard and celery salt in a small bowl. Add the cabbage, carrots, onion and celery. Mix well, cover with cling film, and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.
  5. To make the BBQ sauce, combine all the ingredients in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Allow it to bubble away gently for 3 minutes, until the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is glossy. Remove from the heat, pour into a jar and leave to cool.
  6. Once the pork has cooked, drain away the juices from the meat, and shred to the pork using two forks.
  7. Assemble your burgers by piling the meat into the buns, then top with the slaw and the bbq sauce. Sandwich together and tuck in!

Image source: OlgaMiltsova via Getty images.

Bake Off 2019: Episode 5 Round Up

The bakers were back in the tent this week to celebrate everything about the 1920s. What delightful treats would we discover? Who would rise to the challenge, and who would sink like a sad soufflé? Let’s find out!

Signature challenge: Custard tart

David really impressed with his classic tarts.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

To start off 1920s week, the bakers were asked to make four individual highly decorative custard pies. These needed to be open-topped and the custard had to set during baking.

Paul’s top tip: With shortcrust pastry you want it to melt in the mouth and that’s the critical thing. Overwork it, it makes it too rubbery. So the best thing to do with the pastry is just bring it together, chill it down. I want to see a beautifully-formed custard pie, silky smooth, but it must contain a theme of the 1920s.

Rosie had a bit of a disaster when she accidentally knocked one of her tarts to the floor, and her decorations didn’t quite go to plan. On the opposite end of the spectrum, David earned the second Paul Hollywood handshake for his vanilla custard tarts! It was an even playing field at the end of the first challenge, so the bakers got ready for the technical.

Technical challenge: Beignets soufflé with sabayon

Prue’s devilishly difficult technical.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

Prue had chosen another fiendishly difficult technical for the bakers. They were asked to make 18 beignets soufflés. Confused? A beignet soufflé is a fried choux ball filled with a strawberry jam. It needed to be crispy on the outside and light and fluffy on the inside, uniform in size and shape and served with a sabayon.

Prue’s top tip: The most difficult thing is how you’re going to get it into perfect balls and drop it into the fat. I think the best way to do it is with two spoons. Try to create a quenelle, but get it round rather than quenelle shaped. Inside we expect to see lots of air and some soft, almost stretchy, dough.

Everyone seemed to struggle with this technical. Michael got emotional when he couldn’t get his pastry mixture to work properly, but managed to pull it together to present his beignets soufflés. At the end of the technical, Helena came out on top, and surprisingly David came in last place. It was all hinging on the last challenge as to who would have to leave the Bake Off tent.

Show stopper challenge: Prohibition-era inspired cocktail cake

Henry certainly impressed with his White Russian cake.
Image source: The Great British Bake Off

The last challenge of the week for our bakers was to create a prohibition-era cocktail cake. Prohibition was the time when alcohol was banned in America, and was sold only by gangsters like Al Capone.

Paul’s top tip: We’ve given the bakers four hours to produce this Prohibition cake so you’ve got to think backwards. How long is it going to take to decorate the cake? Allow yourself at least an hour, maybe more. Your sponges should be in and out of the oven within the hour and that gives you plenty of time to produce real baking magic.

Paul and Prue wanted a 1920s-themed two-tier cake. The flavour needed to be based on the bakers’ favourite cocktails and the design needed to be a visual spectacle that was typical of the era.

Prue’s top tip: I want three things. I want a wonderful design, a delicious cake, and it will taste of a recognisable cocktail.

Even at the end of the last challenge, it was still hard to say for certain who would be going home this week. The judges decided it was the end of the road for two bakers, and in what we certainly thought was a shock elimination the delightful Helena and Michelle were chosen to go home. Steph was once again crowned star baker for the second week in a row!

Next week…

It’s dessert week next week! We can’t wait to see what tasty creations the remaining bakers will come up with. What did you think of 1920s week? Let us know over on our Facebook page!

Chicken & Roast Pumpkin Salad

This autumnal salad brings a real warmth to a dreary-weathered day, and the combination of parmesan and panko breadcrumbs gives it an extra injection of flavour.

Ingredients

  • 45g dried panko breadcrumbs
  • 135g parmesan, finely grated
  • 30g plain flour
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 750g chicken breast, cut into chunks
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 500g pumpkin, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 clove of garlic, unpeeled
  • 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g baby spinach
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 tbsp walnuts, chopped

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6. Place the pumpkin chunks along with the garlic on a baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30 minutes until soft.
  2. Meanwhile, take a large plate and combine the breadcrumbs and parmesan, then season well with salt and pepper. Place the flour in a bowl, and the beaten eggs in a separate bowl.
  3. Piece by piece, coat the chicken in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip into the egg, then transfer to the breadcrumb mixture and coat well. Repeat this process until all the chicken pieces are covered and then cover and refrigerate for 10 minutes.
  4. Take the chicken out of the fridge and pour about 5mm of vegetable oil into a deep frying pan or wok. Heat over a medium-high flame and fry the chicken in batches, for around 3 minutes each side until cooked though. Transfer to a kitchen-paper lined plate to drain.
  5. To construct the salad, squeeze the roasted garlic clove from its skin and place in a small bowl. Add the vinegar and olive oil and whisk to combine.
  6. Grab your serving bowl and combine the spinach, onion, roasted pumpkin and walnuts, mixing well. Drizzle over the vinegar mixture, and top with the chicken. Toss everything together and enjoy!

Lead image: Lilechka75 via Getty images.

Easy Guacamole

This recipe for guacamole consists of only four ingredients and can be whipped up in a matter of minutes! Perfect for dipping, spreading on toast or as a side to a multitude of dishes.

Ingredients

  • 2 ripe avocados, stones removed and flesh scooped out
  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 lime, zested and juiced
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

Method

  1. Remove the stones from the avocado and scoop out the flesh. Add this to a food processor along with the Greek yoghurt, chilli flakes and zest and juice of the lime.
  2. Pulse until everything is combined and you have reached your desired consistency. Season and serve!

Lead image: Zakharova_Natalia via Getty images.

How to Reduce Plastic Waste

Supermarkets wrap our fruits and vegetables in it. Our meat is packaged in it. Fancy quenching your thirst when you’re out and about? Your water is bottled in it! There’s no denying – plastic is everywhere. In fact, in the UK alone, recent figures have shown that the average household produces 668kg of plastic waste every year!

But how do we even begin to reduce our plastic consumption and, ultimately, stop it from entering the oceans? We think the kitchen is a great place to start, and we’ve put together some tips below.

1. Take your own canvas bags or ‘bags for life’ to the supermarket with you. It’s often a good idea to keep a stash of these in the boot of your car or by your front door so you know that you’ve always got some to hand.

Image source: Fevziie Ryman via Getty images.

2. Supermarket bread is not only wrapped in plastic, but is often overpriced. Try making your own instead for a fraction of the cost using a bread maker. This also comes with the added bonus of having that freshly-baked bread smell wafting through the house! You can even programme it to cook overnight, so that your loaf is warm and waiting for you in the morning. Could there be a more satisfying way to wake up?

3. Ditch those overly-expensive smoothies and juices, and mix up your own (with the peace of mind of knowing exactly what’s gone into it!) with a smoothie maker that comes with reusable bottles.

Image source: Amguy via Getty images.

4. Another easy way to reduce the plastic in your household is to make the switch from one-use coffee pods and switch to a more traditional espresso machine or cafetiere.

5. When snack time calls, instead of reaching for a bag of crisps or a chocolate bar wrapped in unrecyclable foil, why not try an alternative that is healthier for both you and the planet by making your own dried fruit snacks. A dehydrator is a great way to do this, and there is a plethora of nibbles you can make that are sure to satisfy those 11am cravings!

Image source: 5PH via Getty images.

6. Fruits and vegetables come in their own natural packaging – is there anything better for packaging a banana than the banana’s skin itself?! Go for loose fruits and vegetables wherever possible, rather than those that are wrapped in plastic and bunched together.

7. Stop buying sandwiches and salads that are sat in plastic packaging and start making your own lunches instead. These brick lunchboxes add an injection of fun to school packed lunches!

Image source: Cooks Professional.

8. Instead of using plastic wrap to cover any leftovers, pop them in a lidded container. You can also take containers to a deli or health food store and use them over the usual plastic bag on offer to weigh out your ingredients and transport them home.

9. Make the switch from plastic straws. Many bars and restaurants now have the option of paper straws, which is fantastic, and you can now buy these at many retailers. Metal straws are also widely available, resulting in even less waste as you simply wash them and reuse!

Image source: Natalia Lavrenkova via Getty images.

10. And, last but not least, take full advantage of your council’s recycling services. Make sure that everything is washed out and separated according to their requirements – a bin with recycling compartments can make this job even easier, and that anything that cannot be recycled at kerbside is taken to a recycling centre.

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Peach Galette

A flaky, crisp pie crust adorned with juicy peaches. This is so simple to make, and one that the kids will enjoy getting involved with too!

Ingredients

  • 300g plain flour + 2 tbsp extra
  • 6 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 225g butter, cold, sliced
  • 120ml cold water
  • 750g fresh peaches, peeled, stoned and sliced
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 30g almond paste

Method

  1. Blend together 300g of the flour, 2 tbsp sugar and the salt in a food processor, then add in the butter and pulse in short bursts until you have a crumbly mixture. Add in the water and quickly process, adding more water if necessary, until you have a soft dough. Form into a ball, wrap with cling film and refrigerate for 1 hour.
  2. Toss the peaches with the vanilla and a sugar in a bowl, then gently stir in the extra 2 tbsp of flour.
  3. Preheat your oven to 220°C / 200°C Fan / Gas Mark 7, and line a baking tray with parchment. Flour a surface and roll out 1/2 of the pastry to a thickness of around 3mm. Spread the almond paste in a small circle in the centre, then mound up half of the peaches on top. Fold the outer edges of the pastry round over the filling by about 7cm, then transfer to your baking tray. Repeat with the remaining ingredients so that you have two galletes.
  4. Bake for 30 minutes until golden, and allow to cool completely before serving.

Lead image: undefined undefined via Getty images.

Chicken Katsu

A decadent treat with fried, breaded chicken and a smooth curry sauce – recreate this takeaway favourite in the comfort of your own kitchen.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 8 tbsp cornflakes, finely crushed
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 tbsp korma paste
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp cornflour

Method

  1. Begin by preheating your oven to 200°c /180°c Fan / Gas Mark 6. Dip the chicken into the beaten egg, then transfer to the crushed cornflakes to coat. Repeat until all chicken breasts have been covered. Space out on a large baking tray and cook for 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.
  2. Meanwhile, put the remaining ingredients in a pan along with 500ml of water, and heat until it comes to the boil. Cover and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  3. Spoon the sauce onto some dishes, slice the chicken breasts and place on top. Serve with rice.

Lead image: Nopadol Uengbunchoo via Getty images.

Salt & Pepper Squid

Perfect for a starter, party food or a side dish, the irresistible combination of a crispy coating and hot, tender squid alongside a spicy dipping sauce makes this a guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Ingredients

For the squid:

  • 85g cornflour
  • 85g plain flour
  • 2 tsp cracked black pepper
  • 2 tbsp ground Szechuan peppercorns
  • 400g squid, cleaned and cut into strips
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the dipping sauce:

  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 a cucumber, diced
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 100ml rice wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp caster sugar
  • 2 tsp fish sauce

Method

  1. Begin by making the dipping sauce, by combining all the ingredients in a small bowl and stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Set to one side.
  2. In another bowl, combing the cornflour and plain flour with both peppers and a good pinch of sea salt. Leave to one side, and line a baking tray with kitchen paper.
  3. In a deep wok, heat about 7cm of the oil until it is ready to fry in – you can test this by dipping the end of a wooden spoon in; if it bubbles then you’re good to go. Coat the squid with the flour mixture, and fry in batches for about 2 minutes until crisp.
  4. Lift the squid out of the wok and set down on the kitchen paper to drain. Sprinkle with a little more salt, and serve with the dipping sauce.

Lead image: rez-art via Getty images.

Pistachio Ice Cream

The perfect accompaniment to any dessert, this classic, gloriously green ice cream is a favourite among adults and children alike. Using an ice cream machine makes this an absolute doddle, and means you get your ice cream sooner too!

Ingredients

  • 100g pistachios, shelled
  • 150ml milk
  • 100g golden caster sugar
  • 300ml double cream
  • 300ml ready-made custard
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract

Method

  1. Tip 3/4 of the pistachios into a food processor or spice grinder and blitz into fine dust. Add these into a pan along with the milk and sugar, and gently bring to the boil whilst stirring. Remove from the heat, leave to cool completely, then chill in the fridge.
  2. Finely chop the reserved pistachios and whip the cream to soft peaks. Fold in the custard and almond extract until everything is evenly mixed. Pour into an ice cream machine.

Lead image: bhofack2 via Getty images.

Vegan Ragu

100% free from animal product, and 100% delicious! This ragu is a great base to use for multiple dishes; lasagne, bolognese or moussaka!

Ingredients

  • 30g dried porcini mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • 3 sprigs of thyme
  • 1 tsp tomato puree
  • 100ml vegan red wine
  • 250g dried green lentils
  • 800g canned plum tomatoes
  • 250g chestnut mushroom, sliced
  • 250g portobello mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Marmite

Method

  1. Pop the porcini mushrooms in a bowl, then pour in 800ml of boiling water. Set aside, and leave to soak for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, pour half of the oil into a saucepan and gently cook the onion, carrot and celery along with a pinch of salt until soft. Remove the porcini mushrooms from the bowl, reserving the liquid, and roughly chop.
  2. Throw in the garlic and the thyme, and cook for 1 minute before stirring in the tomato puree and cooking for a further minute. Pour in the wine and simmer gently until reduced, then add the lentils, reserved poricini liquid and tomatoes. Bring to the boil, allow to reduce then simmer with a lid on.
  3. Whilst your lentil mixture is simmering away, grab a large frying pan and heat the remaining oil. Tip in all of the mushroom and fry until golden, then pour in the soy sauce and stir. Add this to the lentil mixture.
  4. Stir in the marmite and cook over a gentle heat for 30-45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the thyme, season and serve!

Lead image: Stanislov Sablin via Getty images.

Beef & Chorizo Empanadas

A delicious South American pastry, these empanadas can either be baked or fried and are perfect for a late summer picnic or garden party.

Ingredients

For the pastry

  • 375g plain flour
  • 22g butter, cubed
  • 2 eggs

For the filling

  • 100g chorizo sausage
  • 300g beef mince
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • Handful of coriander, chopped
  • Handful of parsley, chopped
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree

Method

  1. Using your fingertips, rub the butter and the flour together with a pinch of salt until you have a crumbly mixture. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl, then add to the pastry mix along with 100ml of cold water. Bring everything together to form a dough, then turn out on a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth. Cover with cling film then place the in the fridge for 20 minutes.
  2. In the meantime, make the filling. Remove the chorizo from its casing and add to a mixing bowl with the mince, onion, coriander, parsley, paprika, cumin and chilli flakes. Mix well, then tip out into a frying pan and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the tomato puree and cook for a further 7-10 minutes until everything is cooked through. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
  3. Heat your oven to 180°C / 160°C Fan / Gas Mark 4. Remove the dough from the fridge and divide into four portions, then roll out each one into a thin sheet. Using a 10cm biscuit cutter, cut out discs then place 1 tsp of the chorizo filling in the centre of each disc. Wet the edges of the pastry, and pinch both sides up and fold in half to seal. Crimp the edges using a fork.
  4. Lay out on a baking tray then brush the tops with a beaten egg. Bake for 20 minutes, remove from the oven and cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Lead image: LarisaBlinova via Getty images.

Salmon Poke Bowl

This traditional Hawaiian dish, pronounced ‘poke-ay’ is a mixture of marinated salmon, avocado, rice and crunchy veg that will make a delicious lunch and leave any dinner guests bowled over. Pun intended!

Ingredients

Main components:

  • 225g short grain rice
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 tbsp brown rice vinegar
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced
  • 2 tbsp arame seaweed, soaked in cold water for 15 minutes
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

For the salmon marinade:

  • 1 tbsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 green chilli, chopped
  • 200g fillet salmon
  • 1/2 avocado, cubed

Method

  1. Begin by soaking your rice in cold water for 5 minutes, then rinse to remove any excess starch. Add to a lidded saucepan with 350ml of water and bring to the boil, then cover with the lid and turn the heat way down. Allow to cook for 15 minutes, then remove from the heat.
  2. Whilst your rice is cooking, make the marinade by firstly toasting the sesame seeds in a dry pan until fragrant. Tip into a bowl along with the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, lemon juice and chilli. Chop the salmon into 1cm cubes, then toss in the dressing along with the cubed avocado.
  3. Slice the cucumber finely and, using a potato peeler, shave the carrot into thin ribbons.
  4. Remove the lid from the rice and sprinkle over the rice vinegar. Fluff up with a fork, then spoon into bowls. Top with the cucumber, carrot, sliced avocado, arame and the salmon mixture. Give everything its own space on top of the rice, then finish with a scattering of chilli flakes.

Image source: vitali pechkurou via Getty images.

Chicken Souvlaki

Transport your taste buds to Greece with these spiced kebabs that are packed full of flavour, which only deepens the longer they are left to marinade.

Ingredients

For the marinade:

  • 12 chicken thighs, boneless and skinless
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried mint
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed

For the tzatziki:

  • 1/2 cucumber
  • 200g Greek Yoghurt
  • Small handful of mint, chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced

To serve:

  • Tortilla wraps
  • 1 head of lettuce
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 red onion, thinly sliced

Method

  1. Add the chicken to a bowl along with the marinade ingredients and add 1 tsp salt and a few good twists of black pepper. Mix well, ensuring that the chicken is thoroughly coated, then cover with cling film and transfer to the fridge for at least 3 hours, up to 48 hours.
  2. To make the tzatziki, cut the cucumber in half lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Finely chop, them combine in a bowl with the remaining tzatiki ingredients. Keep chilled until ready to serve.
  3. When the time has come to remove your chicken from the fridge, heat the grill to its highest setting and line a roasting tin with foil. Find 4 metal skewers long enough to sit across the top of the tray with a little space underneath.
  4. Take one thigh and thread it over two skewers, so that is has a skewer through each end of it. Continue threading, leaving a small gap between each thigh. You should be able to fit 6 thighs on each pair of skewers. Rest the skewers on top of the roasting tin and slide under the grill.
  5. Cook for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through and brushing with any oils that have dripped onto the foil below. Once cooked, remove from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  6. Cut through the middle of each pair of skewers, so that you have 4 kebabs and serve with the tortilla wraps, salad and tzatziki.

Image source: Rimma_Bondarenko via Getty images.

Perfect Rice Every Time

Rice is one of those ingredients that is an absolute store cupboard essential. But when it comes to getting it right, well, it can prove a bit hit and miss. Some days you end up with lovely, fluffy rice that tastes amazing. Other days you end up with a stodgy mess, half of it sloppy and slimy, the other half stuck to the bottom of the pan.

There are a hundred tips, tricks and old-wives’ tales out there when it comes to cooking rice, but what is the real way to ensure perfect rice every time? We’ve put a handy guide together below!

White rice

First and foremost, start by measuring out your rice before cooking, using the standard rule of 90g per person (remembering that rice doubles in size once cooked). Choose a pan that will give the rice plenty of room to expand without boiling over.

Image source: AtnoYdur via Getty images.

Rinse your rice in a sieve until the water runs clear. By doing this you’re removing any excess starch, which will help to avoid gloopy rice that looks (and tastes) awful! When you’ve rinsed your rice, tip it into your chosen saucepan and add some salt, followed by the water. The rice to water ratio is where many people struggle, but it’s actually quite simple – you just use double the amount of water as rice. So for 90g of rice, you’ll use 180ml of water.

Once your pan is bubbling away, turn the heat down enough to just keep the water hot, then pop a lid on the pan. Leave to cook for 10 to 15 minutes, then fluff it up with a fork and check that it is cooked. Drain away any excess liquid (there won’t be much) and serve!

Image source: bennyartist via Getty images.

Brown rice

The method for cooking brown rice is basically the same as for white rice, except that it takes a lot longer to cook. 40-50 minutes over a low heat will give you cooked brown rice that still retains its chewy texture and nutty flavour.

Prepare your rice as you would with white rice; measure, rinse, bring to the boil, reduce the heat and cover. However, leave it to took for 30 minutes untouched before giving it a stir with a fork, just to make sure it hasn’t started sticking to the bottom of the pan.

Image source: vm2002 via Getty images.

Cauliflower rice

Okay, okay. So whilst cauliflower rice isn’t technically rice, it is a great alternative if you’re looking to reduce carbs or calories. It has a similar texture to white rice, is full of flavour, and can basically be used in every meal that you’d ordinarily have rice with.

Image source: colnihko via Getty images.

Begin by removing the leaves from your cauliflower, then cut the cauliflower into quarters. Remove as much of the centre stem as possible, before cutting each quarter into three pieces. Gradually, add these pieces to a food processor and pulse – adding it all in at once will just turn your cauliflower to mush, so it’s important to add it in stages.

Once you have a mixture that looks similar to couscous, spread evenly over a baking tray and add a small drizzle of olive oil. Roast in a pre-heated oven (around 200°C / 180°C fan) for 20 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Image source: ALLEKO via Getty images.

Fried rice

It’s a takeaway favourite, but it’s hardly the healthiest thing on the menu. So try making your fried rice at home instead, and master that cost-reducing #fakeaway!

The easiest way to make a healthy and delicious fried rice is to use cooked brown rice and incorporate it into a stir fry so that you’re using less oil. Start off by heating some sesame oil in a frying pan or wok before adding you spices, followed by your meat or fish and fry until browned, then add in your vegetables.

Once the veggies have softened, add the cooked brown rice and your stir-fry sauce – the sauce will help to fry the rice without any need for further oil. Keep everything on the heat, stirring frequently, until everything is cooked. Eat immediately!

Image source: szefei via Getty images.

Lead image: JacquesPALUT via Getty images.

Chilli Dogs

A real Saturday night treat, these hot dogs covered with beef chilli and sprinkled with cheese are guaranteed to please the whole family, and are a showstopper at barbecues as well! This makes a big pot of chilli, which can either be used lavishly on a few hot dogs, or can be used to go a long way at larger parties.

Ingredients

  • 200g bacon, diced
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1kg beef mince
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 can of chopped tomatoes
  • 250ml beef stock
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp ground cayenne pepper
  • Cheddar cheese, grated
  • As many hot dogs as you require
  • Buns for the hot dogs

Method

  1. Fry the bacon over a medium heat until it begins to crisp up, then chuck the onions in. Turn the heat up a little and cook until the onions begin to brown. Stir in the beef mince, and when about half of it is browned, throw in the garlic and stir to finish browning the beef.
  2. Next, stir in the tomato sauce, honey, beef stock and spices, then bring everything to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
  3. Towards the end of the cooking time, pop the sausages on a griddle pan (or BBQ) and grill until cooked with a light char. Slice the buns, pop the sausage in, top with the beef chilli and scatter the cheese over the top.

Lead image: bhofack2 via Getty images.

Summer Berry Brulée

Made with your choice of cherries, redcurrants or blueberries, this rich and creamy summer berry brulée is the perfect decadent treat for any alfresco dining party.

Ingredients

  • 50g pudding rice
  • 140g cherries, redcurrants or blueberries
  • 4 tbsp cassis liquer
  • 1 vanilla pod, split
  • 568ml double cream
  • 6 eggs, yolks only
  • 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
  • An extra 85g golden caster sugar for the topping

Method

  1. Cook the rice according to pack instructions, then drain and leave to cool. Divide your chosen fruit between 6 ramekin dishes, drizzle with the cassis and then st to one side.
  2. Remove the seeds from the vanilla pod, then throw into a pan with the empty pod and the cream. Bring to the boil, remove from the heat and leave for 5 minutes. Remove the vanilla pod.
  3. Mix together the egg yolks and sugar in a large bowl, then stir the vanilla cream. Return to the pan and cook over a low heat, stirring constantly, until it thickens.
  4. Stir the cooked rice into the custard mixture, then ladle into the ramekins and refrigerate for six hours.
  5. When the time comes to serve, sprinkle the sugar over the top and caramelise using a blow torch, or by sliding under a very hot grill. Let it cool and harden, then serve.

Lead image: petrenkod via Getty images.

Turkey Stuffed Mushrooms

Topped with golden, melting mozzarella cheese, these stuffed mushrooms are a speedy (and healthy!) way to round off the working week. Serve with a handful of your favourite green veg or a simple side salad.

Ingredients

  • 4 portobello mushrooms
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 500g lean turkey mince
  • 4 tomatoes, chopped
  • 6 sage leaves, finely sliced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 ball of mozzarella, sliced
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • Green veg or salad to serve

Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 200°C / 180°C Fan / Gas Mark 6. Grab a frying pan and heat a little oil, then throw in the onion and garlic and fry until soft and translucent (around five minutes).
  2. Add in the sage, and fry for two minutes before adding in the turkey mince. Fry for around 10 minutes until cooked through, then add the oregano and paprika, stirring together for another two minutes.
  3. Throw in the tomatoes, and cook for another five minutes until they have softened, then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Remove the stalk from the mushrooms then, using your hands, give the mushrooms a good rub with the olive oil before placing into an oven proof dish.
  5. Spoon the turkey mince into the mushrooms, then top with the sliced mozzarella. Pop these in the oven for 10 minutes.
  6. Once the ten minutes has passed, switch your oven to the grill setting and cook for a further five minutes. This will get the cheese bubbling and golden!
  7. Serve with your choice of green veg, or a simple side salad.

Lead image: zi3000 via Getty images.

Watermelon & Feta Salad

Refreshing and delicious, these unlikely partners come together to make a perfect summer side dish.

Ingredients

  • 180g fresh watermelon
  • 1/2 cucumber
  • Small bunch of mint, chopped, reserve a few leaves for garnish
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 100g feta
  • 1 tbsp balsamic glaze

Method

  1. Chop the watermelon and cucumber into chunks, then add to a bowl with the chopped mint. Drizzle over the olive oil and gently toss everything together.
  2. Season well, and then pile out onto a serving dish. Crumble over the feta and reserved mint leaves. Drizzle over the balsamic glaze and serve immediately. 

Lead image: Kesu01 via Getty images.

Mushroom & Blue Cheese Gnocchi

A super easy to make vegetarian dish that is guaranteed to lift any spirits!

Ingredients

  • 800g fresh gnocchi
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 knob of butter
  • 1 onion, roughly chopped
  • 500g portobello mushrooms
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 150g creamy blue cheese (we recommend gorgonzola or Danish blue)
  • Handful of basil, roughly chopped
  1. Bring a large pan of water to the boil and drop in the gnocchi, cooking according to packet instructions (usually around 3-5 minutes). Drain, and set to one side.
  2. Heat the oil and butter together in a large, lidded frying pan before throwing in the onion and mushrooms. Cook for 1 minute over a high heat, then reduce the heat to medium. Clamp the lid on and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. 
  3. Remove the lid, then add the garlic and cook for a further 2 minutes. Stir in the gnocchi, then scatter over the cheese and basil. Serve immediately.

Lead image: zi3000 via Getty images.

Chicken Biryani

Perfect for DIY takeaway night in, this family favourite is delicious served alongside your best love Indian side dishes, like this Palak Paneer.

Ingredients

  • 300g basmati rice
  • 25g butter
  • 1 onion, finely sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cardamom pods
  • 1 small cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 4 chicken breasts, cut into large chunks
  • 4 tbsp curry paste
  • 85g raisins
  • 850ml chicken stock
  • 30g coriander, roughly chopped
  • 2 tbsp flaked almonds, toasted

Method

  1. Begin by soaking the rice in warm water, then transfer to a sieve and run cold water over until it runs clear.
  2. Heat the butter in a saucepan and fry the onion along with the bay leaf, cardamom pods and cinnamon stick for 10 minutes. 
  3. Sprinkle in the turmeric, then add the chicken breasts and curry paste. Cook everything together for around 5 minutes, then leave on a gentle heat.
  4. Stir the washed rice into the pan, then tip in the raisins followed by the chicken stock. Place a lid on top of the pan and bring everything to a boil, then bring the heat way down and leave to simmer for 5 minutes.
  5. Turn the heat off and, with the lid still on, leave to sit for 10 minutes. Stir through the coriander and top with the toasted almonds.

Lead image: ALLEKO via Getty images.

Halloumi Burgers

A summery, meat-free treat that is super easy to cook both on and off the barbecue!

Ingredients

  • 250g block of halloumi, cut into 8 slices
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 brioche buns
  • 4 tbsp hummus
  • 1 large tomato, sliced
  • 4 babygem lettuce leaves
  • 1 small red onion, thinly sliced
  • 4 tbsp Greek yoghurt

Method

  1. Heat a large frying pan or griddle pan and brush each side of the halloumi slices with the oil. Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until golden.
  2. Split the brioche buns and toast them, being careful not to let them burn. Spread the bottom halves with the hummus, then add the lettuce before laying the halloumi on top. Finish with the tomato, onions and yogurt, then top with the other half of the bun.

Lead image: zi3000 via Getty images.

Chickpea Curry

If you’re looking for a meat-free, homemade dish to try, this chickpea curry will definitely fit the bill. Not only is it delicious, but it’s also 100% vegan!

Ingredients

For the paste

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh or dried chilli
  • 9 garlic cloves
  • 5cm fresh ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp ground coriander
  • 2 tbsp ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp garam masala

For the curry

  • 2 x 400g canned chickpeas, drained
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 100g creamed coconut
  • Handful of fresh coriander, chopped
  • 100g spinach

Method

  1. Begin by making the paste. Heat a little oil in a frying pan and add the onion and chilli, and cook over a low heat for around 8 minutes until cooked through.
  2. In a food processor combine the garlic cloves, ginger, remaining oil, ground coriander, ground cumin, garam masala, tomato puree and the fried onions and chilli. Blend to a smooth paste, adding some water in if needed.
  3. Tip the paste out into a saucepan and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from sticking.
  4. Add in the drained chickpeas and the chopped tomatoes, and simmer for around 5 minutes until reduced.
  5. Add the creamed coconut, along with a little water, and cook for 5 more minutes, then pop in the chopped coriander and spinach and allow to wilt down.
  6. Serve with cooked rice and naan bread.

Lead image: OksanaKiian via Getty images.

Banana & Blueberry Muffins

So versatile, these muffins are ideal for Sunday brunch, a mid-morning snack or for packed lunches. Studded with blueberries and with a delicious banana flavour, these will keep stored in an air-tight container for up to 3 days, or can be frozen for up to a month.

Ingredients

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 50g porridge oats, plus extra for topping
  • 2 medium bananas
  • 284ml carton of buttermilk
  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 eggs, whites only
  • 150g fresh blueberries

Method

  1. Heat oven to 180°c / 160°c Fan / Gas Mark 4, and line a 12-hole muffin tray with paper muffin cases. 
  2. Tip the flour and bicarbonate of soda into a large bowl. Hold back 1 tbsp of sugar, then mix the remainder with the flour and 50g oats. Make a well in the centre.
  3. In a separate bowl, mash the bananas until they are almost smooth, then stir in the buttermilk, oil and egg whites until everything is evenly combined.
  4. Pour the liquid mixture into the well and stir quickly with a wooden spoon. The mix will look lumpy and may have the odd fleck of flour visible, but don’t be tempted to overmix! Tip the blueberries in and give it another stir. 
  5. Divide the mix between the muffin cases, then sprinkle the tops with the final tbsp of oats and the rest of the sugar.
  6. Bake for 18-20 minutes until risen and dark golden. Allow to cool for five minutes in the tray, before lifting out and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

Lead image: susanna_d via Getty images.

Courgette Fritters with Mango Yoghurt Dip

100% easy to make. 100% delicious. These vegetarian fritters with a zingy mango dip are the plant-based treat you need in your life right away!

Ingredients

For the fritters:

  • 120g courgette, coarsely grated
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp plain flour
  • 1.5 tsp cumin
  • 50g frozen peas, thawed

For the mango yoghurt dip:

  • 2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
  • 1 tsp mango chutney

Method

  1. Season the grated courgette with the sea salt flakes, then set to one side.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg, baking powder, flour and cumin, then season with some black pepper.
  3. Tip the courgette out onto a clean tea towel and squeeze the excess water out over the sink, then add to the batter along with the peas.
  4. In a large frying pan, heat just enough vegetable oil to cover the base over medium-high heat. Once the oil begins to shimmer, drop in one heaped tablespoon of the courgette mixture at a time, and flatten down with the back of a spoon to shape them into fritters.
  5. Fry for 1-2 minutes on each side, remove, and lay on some kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil.
  6. To make the dip, mix together the yoghurt and mango chutney and serve alongside the fritters.

Lead image: from_my_point_of_view via Getty images.