Friday, 26 March 2010

Lemon Drop Scones

This is another recipe I've discovered as part of my Big Fat Greek Yoghurt Experiment and one I came across while I was sifting through the recipes on the Total website.

I was surprisingly impressed with these. Not that I thought they wouldn't be nice, I just didn't expect the yoghurt to make such a difference. Somehow though it added a lovely creamy flavour to the pancakes and this, together with the lemon, made these a cut above your average pancake. This might just be my new go-to pancake recipe.

You can find the recipe here.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

My Big Fat Greek Yoghurt Experiment

I have recently been given the opportunity to sample some Greek yoghurt, thanks to the lovely people at Total. I was more than happy to take them up on their offer and awaited my samples with much excitement. And boy did I get some samples! 20 pots no less, some of which you can see below.

My delivery included Total's 10% fat yoghurt, 0% fat yoghurt and their 2% yoghurt with honey. For more information and loads of yoghurty recipes you might want to take a look at Total's website which you can find here.

So, I've started my experiment with a few simple dessert/sweet recipes.

For me, one of the best uses for yoghurt is served simply with some fruit and, as shown in the picture below, with some granola or museli. You can find the recipe for the granola in the picture here.

Next up, a simple pudding made with layers of rhubarb and yoghurt and topped with some crumbled biscuits. Very nice too, although I could have been more generous with the sugar in the stewed rhubarb.

The following is a Berry Yoghurt Bake - a recipe I had pulled out of a delicious magazine some years ago and put aside in my "to make" file. Quite unusual this one but lovely nonetheless. I liked it warm rather than hot from the oven and Mr Half a Pot said it went down very well with some ice cream on the side.

Berry Yoghurt Bake
(adapted from delicious magazine)

4 medium eggs, beaten
70g clear honey
250g think Greek yoghurt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp cornflour
200g mixed fresh raspberries and blueberries
Icing sugar, to dust

1) Preheat the oven to 160c/fan 140c/ gas 3

2) Whisk the eggs, honey, yoghurt, vanilla and cornflour together in a bowl.

3) Put half the berries in a 23cm round baking dish and top with the yoghurt mixture. Sprinkle the rest of the berries over the top, then bake in the oven for 40-45 minutes or until just set. Dust with icing sugar and serve hot or warm.

Serves 4

This final recipe for Mango and Greek Yoghurt Mousse comes from the Total website itself. These little mousse's would make a lovely light summery pudding when you don't want anything too filling. A word of warning though - don't make them too far in advance as I found mine tended to separate a bit after a couple of days.

You can find the recipe here.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


As with a lot of things, I have a tried and tested recipe for granola that I return to time and again. However, my recently acquired cookbook, Home Cooking by Rachel Allen contains a new version that seemed worthy of my attention.

This has turned out to be a lovely alternative. My previous go-to recipe, which you can find in Tessa Kiros' gorgeous book Apples for Jam, is somewhat different as it doesn't contain any fruit but contains more sugar and honey which helps it really stick together and makes it great for snacking. This version, however, has a finer texture which makes it better designed for eating with a spoon as a proper cereal with milk or yoghurt. I've been enjoying it all week with stewed rhubarb and greek yoghurt. Good healthy stuff.

Crunchy Granola
(adapted from Home Cooking by Rachel Allen)

The following recipe makes about 1.5kg which is a LOT! It does keep for a couple of months in an airtight container but I decided to start out with a half-sized batch which turned out to be plenty for my purposes.

125g/4 1/2oz butter
150ml/5 floz honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g/1lb 2oz rolled oats
50g/2oz pecan nuts, roughly chopped
150g/5oz hazelnuts, roughly chopped
75g/3oz pumpkin seeds
75g/3oz sunflower seeds
50g/2oz golden linseeds
100g/3 1/2oz dessicated coconut
300g/11oz mixed dried fruit such as dates, figs, apricots, raisins, prunes, the larger fruit chopped

1) Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas mark 3

2) Melt the butter, honey and vanilla extract in a small saucepan over a low heat.

3) Mix the oats, nuts, seeds and coconut together in a large bowl. Pour in the butter/honey mixture and stir together really well.

4) Divide the mixture between two large baking trays and spread in an even layer. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave on the trays until completely cool, stirring every now and then.

5) Once completely cool transfer it to a large airtight container and mix in the dried fruit. Store at room temperature for up to two months.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Happy Birthday Dear Blog

Amazingly, yesterday marked the one year anniversary of my little blog - goodness knows where the time has gone!

And what better way to celebrate than with a cake or two.

After much deliberating I finally purchased The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook recently (it was only £5 from the Book People mind - it would have been rude not to). I loved their Portobello Road shop when I visited it last year, however their book has had mixed reviews, due to a number of people experiencing recipe failures. Nevertheless I thought I'd give it a chance (incidently, if you do have the book it's worth checking out their Baking Tips page, which includes corrections to a couple of the recipes).

My first selection, Hazelnut and Chocolate cupcakes, turned out very nicely - very rich and chocolatey, just as I'd hoped. I have to say the method for making the cakes was quite unusual - mixing the butter with all of the dry ingredients before adding the egg and milk - but they turned out fine. My only real criticism is that the recipe stated that it would make 12 cupcakes. 12??? Not a chance! I just about stretched it to 8 but really should have kept to 6 as a couple of the cakes weren't big enough. As I had fewer cakes I also scaled back the frosting quantities by two thirds and this gave me just the right amount. You end up with very thickly iced cakes but that's how you'll find them at the HB Bakery.

Here's to the next year!

Hazelnut and Chocolate Cupcakes
(adapted from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook)

100g/3 1/2 oz plain flour
20g/3/4 oz cocoa powder
140g/5 1/4 oz caster sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
a pinch of salt
40g/1 1/2 oz butter, at room temperature
120ml whole milk
1 egg
120g hazelnut and chocolate spread (such as Nutella)

250g/9 oz icing sugar
80g/3 oz unsalted butter at room temperature
25ml whole milk
80g/3 oz hazelnut and chocolate spread

1) Preheat the oven to 170c/325f/gas mark 3

2) Put the flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder, salt and butter into a bowl/free-standing mixer and beat on a slow speed until you get a sandy consistency and everything is combined.

3) Slowly pour the milk into the flour mixture, beating well until all the ingredients are well mixed. Add the egg and beat well.

4) Spoon the mixture into cupcake cases until two-thirds full and bake in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes, or until the sponge bounces back when touched. Leave the cupcakes to cool slightly in the tray before turning out onto a wire rack.

5) When the cupcakes are cold, hollow out a small section in the centre of each one and fill with a dollop of hazelnut and chocolate spread.

For the Frosting

1) Beat the icing sugar and butter together until the mixture comes together and is well mixed.

2) Continue to beat the mixture slowly and gradually pour in the milk. When it's all incorporated increase the speed of the mixer and continue beating until the frosting is light and fluffy, at least 5 minutes.

3) Stir in the Hazelnut and Chocolate spread by hand until evenly mixed into the frosting. When the cupcakes are cold, spread the frosting on top.

Makes 12 (allegedly!)

Tuesday, 9 March 2010


I love guacamole (or Piquant Avocado Salsa as Anthony Worrall Thompson calls it - is there a difference?) and would happily eat it all day long if avocado wasn't quite so heavy on the calories. This is the best thing that can happen to an avocado if you ask me. I'm not really a fan of them in their natural state - I find their bland, smooth texture a bit weird and icky. Add some tomato, spring onion, lime juice and spice though and they just come alive. This is gorgeous served just as it is with plain tortilla chips.

Piquant Avocado Salsa
(adapted from Anthony Worrall Thompson's GI Diet)

1 ripe avocado, peeled and stoned
1 tomato, de-seeded and diced
2 spring onions, sliced
Juice of 1/2 - 1 lime
1 chilli, deseeded and finely chopped
Pinch of ground cumin
Pinch of ground coriander
2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander (or not in my case)
1 teaspoon chilli oil
Salt and ground black pepper

1) Mash the avocado with the back of a fork but don't make it too smooth.

2) Fold in the other ingredients and season to taste.

Serves 2

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Spicy Prune & Apple Muffins

This recipe comes from another new addition to my recipe book family - Home Cooking by Rachel Allen. I know some people aren't keen her, particularly her television programmes, but I quite like her and have found all her books well presented and appealing. As always I made a bee-line for the cake recipes and chose this one to start with. This recipe appears in the breakfast section, which is fine by me - I'm always happy to have an excuse to have cake for breakfast. Having said that, these definitely fall into the "healthy cake" section thanks to the wholemeal flour, oats and large quantities of fruit.

I'll definitely be making these again. The wholemeal flour makes for a pretty dense cake, but the prunes and apples add enough sweetness and flavour to make the muffins taste good. They keep well too.

Don't be alarmed by the instruction to fill the cases to the top by the way - these muffins are not big risers.

Spicy Prune and Apple Muffins
(adapted from Home Cooking by Rachel Allen)

275g/10oz plain wholemeal flour
50g/2oz rolled oats
125g/4 1/2oz soft light brown sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 tso ground mixed spice
175g/6oz pitted prunes, roughly chopped
1 eating or cooking apple, peeled, cored and finely diced
250ml/9 fl oz buttermilk
50g/20z butter, melted and cooled
2 eggs

1) Preheat the oven to 200c/400f/gas mark 6. Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper cases.

2) Mix all of the dry ingredients together and stir in the prunes and apple

3) Mix the wet ingredients together and then add to the dry ingredients, taking care not to overmix (I found mixing in all of the dry ingredients a bit of a trial as there didn't seem to be quite enough liquid - in the end I added the rest of my 284ml pot of buttermilk which seemed to do the trick).

4) Divide the batter between the muffin cases, filling them almost to the top. Bake for 20 minutes until golden and firm to the touch.