Blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits


These scrummy blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits can be eaten straight away, kept in a container for several days, or made ahead and then frozen.  They are really simple to make and look impressive so are great to have handy if you are expecting people (or need an edible gift idea).  They were also wolfed down by my kids as an after school snack!

The biscuits are from a recipe in Jane Lovett’s new ‘Make It Easy’ cookbook and she often serves them after meals instead of cheese (although I reckon they would be even better WITH cheese!)  We ate half and froze half so we could have some over Christmas.  You need clingfilm. Allow about 15 mins prep, 1 hour chilling and 10 mins baking.

Blue cheese and poppy seed biscuits (makes approx 25)

110g self-raising flour

110g butter

Large pinch mustard powder

50g blue cheese, crumbled (any is fine – I opted for the cheapest!)

50g cheddar cheese, grated

1 tsp poppy seeds

1 tsp salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.  Process the flour and butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs (if the mixture seems too wet, gradually add flour until it is thicker).  Add the mustard powder, cheeses, poppy seeds and salt and pepper and process until well mixed.

On a lightly floured surface, roll the mixture in to two fat sausages and wrap tightly in clingfilm.  Chill for at least an hour (it will firm up).  Unwrap and slice into discs about the thickness of a pound coin.  Place on baking paper and bake for at least 5-7 minutes, turning halfway through when golden.  They should expand a little.  Cool slightly then eat!

If you want to freeze any then do so, either after baking OR after you have sliced in to discs, but before baking.  Put the biscuits spread out in freezer bags.  Cooked frozen biscuits can be briefly heated in the oven to take the frozen ‘edge’ off them and uncooked frozen biscuits can be baked as above.



Mince pie cookies (all the flavour in far less time!)


Christmas is coming – so I am reposting this clever little recipe from The Times! Will be making it again this year.

Originally posted on katielovescooking:

mince pie cookies

I had been looking for a novel Christmas recipe so a big thank you to my friend Cynthia for recommending this one, which is based on a recipe from The Times.  Best of all the cookies are very easy to make so you end up with all the mince pie flavours (using orange zest and shop-bought mincemeat) with a fraction of the effort!  That is my kind of recipe.  A great one for making with kids too if you fancy it.  Brilliant.

Apparently the cooked cookies and the dough both freeze well.  Recipe makes between 20-30 cookies depending on size.

Mince pie cookies

250g unsalted butter, softened
140g sugar
1 egg yolk
Grated zest of a smallish orange
300g flour
1 x 410g jar mincemeat

Heat oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4.  Line 2 or 3 baking trays with grease proof/baking paper (or use a non-stick tray).  Lightly beat the butter…

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Cheesy polenta bake (20 mins prep/40 mins baking)

cheesy polenta bake

This cheesy polenta bake recipe came about by using up leftovers.  I had nearly a whole block of ready-made polenta, which is Italian maize, that also happens to be gluten-free.  I also had an onion, some mushrooms and a little cheddar and halloumi cheese that needed eating.  So I made a tomato and veg sauce, topped it with sliced polenta, grated cheese and parsley and baked it.  It took about 20 mins to prepare and 40 mins to bake until it was bubbling nicely.  The polenta went crispy in the oven and the whole thing was really tasty!

cheesy polenta bake

I have never grated halloumi cheese and baked it before but it worked great.  Crumbled goats cheese or grated manchego cheese would also work well.  And you could use lots of alternative leftover veg in the tomato sauce.  In general if you have leftover herbs just chop them and freeze them in freezer bags and then you can use them instantly in cooking or salads, as I did here.  Saves on time and waste!  And polenta is cheap and can just be stored in the cupboard so it’s a great staple to have handy.

The kids weren’t feeling very adventurous so didn’t even try the bake, but me and my boyfriend loved it!

Cheesy polenta bake (serves 3-4 people)

1 onion, chopped

5 mushrooms, chopped

Tin chopped tomatoes (I use the value/basics ones)

1 clove garlic, crushed

Shake dried herbs

Optional – 1 tbsp tomato puree

1 vegetable stock cube, crumbled (I like OXO)

400g ready-made polenta, sliced in to 1/2cm slices

150g grated cheddar and/or grated halloumi (grated manchego cheese or crumbled goats cheese would also work)

Optional – small handful chopped fresh herbs e.g. parsley/basil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 7.

Fry the onion and mushrooms in some oil until tender (about 5 mins), then add the garlic, dried herbs, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree (if using) and crumble in the stock cube.  Simmer for 5 mins then pour in to a casserole dish.

Arrange the polenta slices on top of the tomato sauce , drizzle on some oil and bake in the oven for 20 mins.  Then take the bake out of the oven and add the grated cheese on top of the polenta and (if using) sprinkle on the fresh herbs.  Bake for another 20 mins (or a bit longer if necessary) until golden and a little crispy on top.  Eat!

Lemonade scones

lemonade scones

Yep!  You can make scones with lemonade.  Flour, cream and lemonade.  My friend Carol showed me a video of someone doing it and we wondered whether it was a joke, so I tried it and it worked!  They looked a bit clumsy but were pretty tasty, hot out of the oven and with some butter and jam on top.

Top tip – make sure you always have lots of flour on the surface you are using to cut out the scones, to prevent sticking, and a dish of water nearby to rinse your hands when you need to. Allow about 15 mins prep plus up to 30 mins cooking.

lemonade scones

lemonade scones

Here is a link to the video in question, and the written recipe below!  Courtesy of Monique Bowley, who was apparently a former contestant on Australia’s Greatest Bake Off:

lemonade scones

lemonade scones

Ingredients (makes approx 12 scones)

480g self-raising flour

300ml double cream

Can of lemonade (they are usually 330ml)

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

Pour the flour in to a mixing bowl then add the cream and lemonade.  Gently mix with a spoon (be careful not to overdo it) until it becomes a dough.  If it feels too wet and sticky gradually add more flour until you are happy with the consistency.  When ready, flour a surface, and pull and pat the dough together in to a ball shape.  Then pat it gently down more and use a cup or cutter to cut out scone shapes.  Or just use your hands if that is easier (that’s what I ended up doing!)

Place the scones on a lined baking tray (they can be pretty close together) and bake for between 15-30 mins until golden brown on top.  The original recipe said just 15 mins but mine took 30 mins so I guess it depends on the size of the scones and the individual oven.  Eat with jam and, ideally, clotted cream!

Gremolata – a zingy rub to liven up veg!


Gremolata is a brilliant Italian condiment to know about – simply chopped parsley, lemon zest and garlic mixed together to give dishes instant wonderful flavour.  Traditionally it is used with meat or fish but can also be used with roast veg.  In this recipe (based on one from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) the gremolata is added to roast veg (potatoes, carrots and parsnips) hot out of the oven.  The heat takes the edge off the garlic and it all smells amazing!


You can eat the roast veg with gremolata as a side dish or as a main topped with a poached egg.  Delicious!

Ingredients (serves 2)

2 carrots, chopped in to chunks
4 medium potatoes, chopped in to chunks
2 parsnips, chopped in to chunks

Good glug oil (ideally olive oil)
Salt and pepper

For the gremolata

1 clove garlic, crushed/finely chopped
Handful parsley, finely chopped
1 lemon, zest finely grated

Heat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 6. Put the carrots, potatoes and parsnips in a large roasting dish. Pour over the oil, season well and stir to coat. Roast for around 30 mins until cooked through and slightly caramelised, turning a few times to avoid burning.

Meanwhile make the gremolata. Mix the garlic, parsley and lemon zest together.

Once the veg are cooked toss with the gremolata, so the heat ever-so-slightly takes the edge off the garlic. Serve, either as a side dish or a main with a poached egg on top!

Pumpkin and honey flapjacks (healthy deliciousness!)

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

My attempt at pumpkin pie didn’t go well. So I decided to try making flapjacks with grated pumpkin in them instead, and luckily they were more successful!  The flapjacks also contain honey, sesame seeds, mashed banana, orange zest, raisins and, of course, porridge oats. There are pretty nutritious and the honey and raisins make them sweet enough without sugar. My son described them as ‘yummy!’ and reminded me that ‘you can make flapjacks with different things’. This is true. We have also made them using grated carrot instead of pumpkin; chopped dried apricots or cranberries instead of raisins; pumpkin seeds or linseeds instead of sesame seeds; and peanut butter instead of banana. We eat them as an after school snack, when out and about or as dessert.

Small seeds such as sesame seeds and linseeds (very cheap to buy!) help the mixture to stick together. Honey, mashed banana and peanut butter also act as a good binder. It’s easiest to cut the pumpkin in to large chunks and then grate (don’t grate the chunks too thin or you might lose some skin!)

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

This recipe makes 16 flapjacks, which will last a few days in a sealed container. Allow about 10 minutes to prepare the mixture and 45 minutes to cook. Hope you like them!

pumpkin and honey flapjacks

Pumpkin and honey flapjacks (makes 16)

150g butter

100g honey

200g grated pumpkin

1 mashed banana

150g raisins

50g sesame seeds

Zest of 1 orange

250g porridge oats

Preheat the oven to 160 degrees/gas mark 3.

Put the butter in a pan and heat gently until it is melting, then add the honey. Once all melted take off the heat and add the pumpkin, mashed banana, raisins, sesame seeds, orange zest and porridge oats. Mix well. You want the mixture to be thick but still be able to stir it with a spoon (with a bit of effort).

Line a smallish square or rectangle baking tin with foil and spoon in the mixture. Flatten it out and squash the mixture down with the back of the spoon to help it stick together. Bake for 35-45 mins, until it’s firm and deeply golden at the edges and sides. Take out and leave to cool. Carefully lift out the foil with the flapjack mixture inside it then cut in to pieces with a sharp knife.

20 min cauliflower and broccoli cheese

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

This speedy 20 minute winter warmer is a twist on cauliflower cheese.  Cauliflower is combined with broccoli (both in season until December!) and onion.   A quick sauce is made by grating cheddar in to creme fraiche then adding a crumbled stock cube.  The whole dish is topped with breadcrumbs and grilled.  It is rich and delicious, with added crunch from the onions.

You could have the cauliflower and broccoli cheese as a main course with sausages or salad, or as a side dish.  It would work well with a roast dinner. My boyfriend reckons the dish would also be nice with added chopped chorizo (he says that about everything though!)

cauliflower and broccoli cheese

If you are making the breadcrumbs yourself you can use frozen, fresh or slightly stale bread (defrost frozen bread in the microwave on full power for 30 seconds).   You could make extra then store the breadcrumbs in freezer bags in the freezer for up to three months (spread thinly so they defrost quickly).  You will then have instant breadcrumbs that you can use to top future bakes/gratins and pad out burgers/fish cakes.  If you want to dry the breadcrumbs out before using from the freezer then spread them on a baking tray and leave somewhere warm ish overnight.

Cauliflower and broccoli cheese (serves 2 as a main course or 4 as a side dish)

1 medium head cauliflower, cut in to smallish chunks

1 medium head broccoli, cut in to smallish chunks

1 small onion, chopped

280ml creme fraiche

180g cheddar cheese

1 stock cube

Dried herbs

50g breadcrumbs (1.5 pieces of bread, blitzed to breadcrumbs, or use premade breadcrumbs)

Boil the cauliflower and broccoli for a few mins, until tender, adding the onions 1 min before they are done.  Drain.  Meanwhile make the sauce by heating the creme fraiche until bubbling then adding 150g of the grated cheese and crumbling in the stock cube.  Shake over some dried herbs, mix and heat a little longer until everything is combined and the cheese has melted.

Add the sauce to the cauliflower, broccoli and onion and mix well.  Pour in to a casserole dish and top with the breadcrumbs and remaining cheese.  Grill on high heat for around 5 mins until golden and crunchy on top.  Eat!