Beautiful burfis (an Indian sweet) in 30 mins!

easy quick burfis indian sweet

I have had a thing for Indian sweets ever since visiting my older sister when she was at university in Bradford.  She was obsessed with them.  So I am massively chuffed to have come across a burfis recipe that is both quick, absolutely delicious and wouldn’t look out of place in an Indian sweet counter.  They are made by simply heating condensed milk with desiccated coconut, and then rolling the mixture in to balls with chopped pistachios and ground cardamom.  I made them for my parents last week and my dad liked them so much he recreated them the next day.  If you are looking for an unusual edible gift they are perfect.  I urge you to try them..!

The recipe is from the nice new COOK supplement in the Saturday Guardian.  If you cannot get ground cardamom from your local supermarket you could try an international shop, or grind the contents of cardamom pods yourself.

Ingredients (makes approx 15)

250g desiccated coconut

250g condensed milk

1 tsp ground cardamom

100g pistachios, chopped

Mix 200g of the coconut with the condensed milk in a saucepan and stir over a low heat for 10 mins.  Remove from the heat and add the cardamom and pistachios.  Taste to make sure there is lots of cardamom flavour.  Allow to cool.

Roll the mixture into balls, then roll in the remaining coconut.  Chill (I  took mine out a little while before eating so they were not too cold).


Tuscan stuffed peppers

tuscan stuffed peppers

This is a refreshing and wholesome meal of Mediterranean flavours, which takes about 25 mins to make in total.  If you want it to look really pretty use different coloured peppers.  The recipe is based on one from the brilliant philadelphia (cheese) website  Be sure to take a look as it is full of great recipes and, because they all contain philadelphia, they tend to be quite simple and quick.  You can search recipes by the amount of preparation time you have, what’s in your fridge or by cuisine.  Enjoy!

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 peppers (whatever colours you fancy)

1 tbsp olive oil

200g mixed long grain and wild rice (not expensive!)

Couple handfuls broad beans

4 tomatoes, skinned, quartered and deseeded

4 spring onions, finely chopped

40g black pitted olives, sliced

2 tbsp white wine vinegar

150g philadelphia light with garlic and herbs (or cheaper equivalent)

Preheat the oven to 210 degrees/gas mark 7.  Cut the peppers in half horizontally and remove the core and seeds.  Arrange on a baking tray, cut side up and bake for approx 20 mins until tender.

Meanwhile cook the rice as per the instructions, adding the broad beans about 5 minutes before it is done.  While the rice is cooking chop the tomatoes, spring onions and olives.  Drain the rice and add the tomatoes, spring onions and olives.  Seperately mix together the olive oil, vinegar and philadelphia and season well.  Pour the dressing over the rice and mix together.  Spoon in to the peppers and serve with salad.

Suprisingly simple sweet treats – millionaires shortbread and florentines

easy millionaires shortbread

My boyfriend keeps banging on about how amazing his shortbread is, so jealousy pushed me to step the recipe up and make millionaires shortbread – shortbread topped with caramel topped with chocolate. Gorgeous. They only involve about 15 minutes work but you need to allow a few hours for baking and cooling/setting.

easy florentines

Florentines look a bit posh and taste lovely – almond flakes mixed with glace cherries, mixed peel and cream, which are briefly baked then dipped in melted chocolate.  Easy but bound to impress!  Allow atleast 90 mins in total as they need to cool.

Both recipes make great edible gifts, if you can bring yourself to give them away… Here they are:

Millionaires shortbread (makes 12)

160g plain flour
60g caster sugar
215g unsalted butter, melted (I do this in the microwave)
1 x 397g tin condensed milk
100g light soft brown sugar
2 tbsp golden syrup
200g milk chocolate

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 4. In a food processor, whizz the flour, caster sugar and 115g of the butter until it’s like breadcrumbs.  Press in to an approx 18cm square tin (this doesn’t have to be exact) and prick with a fork.  Chill for 20 mins, then bake for 30 mins, until just turning golden. Cool in the tin.

In a pan, heat the condensed milk, brown sugar, syrup and remaining 100g of butter.  Bring to the boil, stirring all the time (be careful – it’s very hot!).  Boil, still stirring, for 5-8 mins until thickened.  Don’t panic if the sauce is a bit separated or not thickening well – it should come together and thicken up once it cools if not while it is heated.  Pour the caramel onto the shortbread, then cool for 30 mins.
Melt the chocolate (I do mine in the microwave).  Pour it on to the caramel.  Chill for 2 hours until set, then remove from the tin and cut in to squares.

Recipe from Baking by Sainsburys

Florentines (makes approx 20)

25g unsalted butter
75g caster sugar
15g plain flour
3 tbsp double cream
50g glace cherries, roughly chopped
100g flaked almonds
50g mixed peel
100g dark chocolate, broken in to pieces

Preheat the oven to 190 degrees/gas mark 5.  Line a baking tray with baking parchment/paper.  Melt the butter and sugar in a saucepan, then stir in the flour and gradually add the cream.  Bring to the boil, stirring until it thickens slightly.  Take off the heat and stir in the cherries, almonds and mixed peel.

Place spoonfuls of the mixture on to the baking parchment (or in to the bases of a 12-hole muffin tray) and bake for approx 8 minutes, until lightly golden.  Allow to cool, then carefully remove with a palette knife/spatula.

Melt the chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water (or put the chocolate in a bowl and melt in the microwave).  Pick up a florentine and dip the smooth underside in the chocolate (or spread over with a knife).  Leave the florentines chocolate-side up until set.

Recipe from Waitrose magazine

Smoked mackerel, leek and dill frittata

mackerel leek dill frittata

This is a really delicious frittata, full of goodness and flavours that compliment each other, and a proper comfort food.  It makes a nice change to use dill instead of parsley.  It should take about 25 minutes to prepare and can be served with salad or perhaps some broccoli.  Slowly, but surely, I am overcoming my pathetic fear of cooking with eggs..!

Ingredients (serves 4)


2 leeks, chopped

8 eggs

30g cheddar cheese, grated (optional)

Handful of dill, chopped

Salt and pepper

3 smoked mackerel fillets, torn in to pieces

Fry the leeks in a frying pan in some butter until soft (approx 5 mins).  Meanwhile lightly beat the eggs with the cheese, dill, salt and pepper.  Pour the egg mixture in and leave it to fry until the bottom is set.  Top with the mackerel pieces. At this point transfer the whole frying pan to an oven and grill until the top is golden and the frittata is cooked through.  Eat!

Honey nut banana pancakes for Shrove Tuesday

honey nut banana pancake

It’s Shrove Tuesday in four days so I tried out this indulgent pancake recipe courtesy of delicious magazine.  Imagine super soft cooked banana in a rich caramely sauce scattered with classy pecan nuts and served with pancakes and vanilla ice cream.  Yum.  Allow about 30 mins to prepare four portions.


For the pancakes

60g plain flour

2 eggs

300ml milk

For the topping

50g butter

4 tbsp honey

8 bananas (or 4 sliced lenthways if you want a smaller portion)

Chopped pecans and ice cream, to serve

To make the pancakes, sift the flour into a bowl and make a well in the centre. Add the eggs and beat with a whisk or fork.  Gradually beat in the milk until you have a smooth batter.  Heat a little oil in a frying pan, ensuring it has spread evenly, then pour in just enough batter to thinly coat the base of the pan. Cook for approx 2 minutes on each side until golden.

For the topping, melt the butter with the honey in a frying pan or saucepan and cook until just beginning to brown.  Place the bananas in the pan (you may need to do it in two lots). Cook for several minutes, turning occasionally, until caramelised.  Sprinkle with chopped pecans and serve the bananas and sauce with the pancakes and ice cream.

Getting young kids in to cooking!

cooking with kids

Here are some ideas for making cooking fun and educational for young kids, based on my experience so far.  I like to think that getting my son Freddy in to cooking young will make him a great catch when he is older..!  And maybe he can make me breakfast in a few years.

– Get your child involved in the whole process, from the shopping list (using photos or drawings if your child cannot read yet), to finding ingredients in the shop and making the food.  They can feel proud as they tick items off the shopping list.

– Invest in a cheap apron and chef hat for you and your child so you both look the part.  Or if you have the energy, make and decorate a hat together using cardboard or an old newspaper.  Amazon do really cheap aprons and hats.

cooking with kids

– Prepare as much as possible before you start cooking.  If I am making muffins with Freddy I put all the ingredients seperately in bowls before he sits down so I am not faffing about.  He has a short attention span and often pouring ingredients in to a bowl and stirring it a few times is enough for him.

– Encourage your child to help choose ingredients for your dish e.g. ‘What would be nice to have on pizza?’

cooking with kids

– ‘Cooking’ can be as simple as you like.  Great first skills are pouring (e.g. flour in to a mixing bowl); stirring; sprinkling (e.g. raisons in to fruit salad or decorations on to a cupcake), shaking (e.g. herbs on top of pizza); putting mixtures in to tins or cupcake cases; spreading with a knife or spoon (e.g. tomato puree on pizza/houmous on rice cakes); squeezing (e.g. honey in to yoghurt); mashing (e.g. bananas) and cutting up soft food (especially soft fruit – tinned apricot pieces are great for this!).  The Early Learning Centre has cooking utensils for kids.

– Easy things to try are muffins, banana bread, cookies using cookie cutters, pizza, wraps and fruit salad.  For pizza, use pitta bread as a base, cover with tomato puree, tinned chopped tomatoes, grated cheese and whatever else you and your child fancy, then bake for approx 10 mins at 190 degrees/gas mark 5.

cooking with kids

– Liven up simple acts e.g. saying ‘abracadabra’ when sprinkling on ingredients, or seeing how fast you can stir!

– Talk about the different ingredients, encouraging your child to smell and taste.  Freddy would not be up for the occasional bit of cooking if I didn’t let him eat as we go.  Help your child understand the ingredients and processes e.g. baking powder makes things bigger/the oven cooks things.  Growing cress and making sandwiches is a cheap, great way of teaching kids where food comes from.  See this previous post for more info:

cooking with kids

– Take before and after photos so you can look back and talk about what you made.

– Give what you and your child make as presents sometimes.  It makes them feel proud and gets them used to sharing (not a skill young children are known for)!

– And finally check out the ‘cooking with kids’ category on the right hand side of my blog for further ideas!

cooking with kids Have fun and please comment if you have any other ideas!