Mini toad-in-the-holes

lorraine pascale mini toad in hole

This is one of those recipes that instantly sounds good, and then when you open the oven door and see it bubbling away you know you’ve found a winner.   The fact that they are mini makes them a bit different, and perfect for a Sunday roast.  You can use meat or veggie sausages.  Make sure you allow time for cooking the sausages first while letting the batter stand (approx 30 mins) before combining it all in a muffin tray and popping it in the oven.  This is a good recipe if you have little time as you can cook the sausages/prepare the batter in the morning then assemble and cook them just before lunch.  Don’t forget you need a muffin tray!  Serves 4-6 people.

You can make an easy and fantastic Sunday roast by eating the mini toad-in-the-holes alongside a vegetable gratin (recipe here – or carrots and potatoes gremolata (recipe here –  And if you’re really pushing the boat out try this veggie gravy recipe, which can be prepared the night before .

Ingredients for mini toad-in-the-hole (from Lorraine Pascale’s Baking Made Easy)

Vegetable oil, for oiling

1 egg

60g plain flour

Optional – mustard powder, to taste

Pinch of dried herbs

75ml soured cream

75ml milk

12 sausages (meat or veggie is fine)

Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6. Oil the muffin tin.  Whisk the egg in a large bowl until frothy. In a separate bowl, put the flour, mustard and herbs, then make a hole in the middle. Gradually add the soured cream and milk. Mix together lightly. Add the egg and stir a little to combine, then leave the batter to stand for atleast 30 minutes.  Meanwhile cook the sausages according to the pack instructions, chop each one in to three, then put aside.

When you are ready to cook, stir the batter for 10 seconds, then pour the mixture into a measuring jug (makes it so much easier to pour into the muffin tin). Divide the mixture among the muffin holes (it makes around 12) then put 3 sausage chunks into each hole. Cook in the oven for 20–25 minutes, or until puffed up and golden brown. As soon as they are cooked, remove from the oven, leave for 1 minute then bang the tin on the surface to loosen them from the holes. Serve with gravy.

Butterbean salad (10 mins)

butterbean salad

I love tinned beans because they are so cheap, easy and versatile.  This really healthy salad contains tinned butterbeans with kale, carrots and the beautiful, mellow anniseed flavour of caraway seeds.  It is based on a recipe by Aaron Craze, one of Jamie Oliver’s former employees.  Caraway seeds are the latest in my *exciting ingredients* category – they add an unusual, interesting dimenson to food.  They work particularly well with cabbage, meat and cheese apparently.  I ate this salad with some trout on top but I reckon it would also go brilliantly with sausages (chopped up and mixed in perhaps) or goats cheese.

butterbean salad

Watch out soon for an onion and gruyere tart with caraway pastry recipe – my first attempt at homemade pastry.  If it actually works..!  Here is the recipe for the butterbean salad, which serves four if you are adding extra ingredients or as a side dish, or two as a main dish.


2 tins butterbeans

2 – 3 carrots, finely chopped

3 handfuls kale

1 clove garlic, crushed

Fresh coriander, chopped

Red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Fry the butterbeans with the carrots, kale, garlic and most of the coriander in some olive oil for approx 5 minutes.  Toss the mixture with a splash of  red wine vinegar, more olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Top with some fresh coriander leaves.

Gorgeous veggie gravy (5 mins prep and 1 hour simmering)

I’m a bit chuffed with this gravy.  It’s my thriftier, simplified version of a Yotam Ottolenghi recipe and it turned out rich and flavoursome.  It’s very easy to make as long as you have an hour or so spare to keep an eye on it as it simmers.  I had it over some root vegetable mash (mash a combination of vegetables such as celariac, squash, swede, carrots or sweet potato with some puy lentils, butter, ground cumin and honey) and shop-bought veggie sausages.  The gravy would also compliment mushroom roast (recipe below).  Make sure you give the gravy a good stir before serving.

Ingredients for gorgeous veggie gravy

2 tbsp olive oil

2 onions (white or red), chopped

400ml red wine or port

200ml veg stock (I used an Oxo cube)

2 bay leaves

Sprinkle of dried mixed herbs

1 tbsp caster sugar

Salt and coarse ground black pepper

Put the oil and onions in a pan and fry, stirring occasionally, for five minutes, until well coloured.  Add the wine/port, stock, bay leaves, dried mixed herbs, sugar and salt and pepper.  Cover and simmer for around an hour until the liquid has reduced to a thicker, gravy like consistency.  Serve.

Ingredients for mushroom roast

200g mushrooms, chopped

Large knob of butter

1 onion, chopped

150g grated cheese

90g breadcrumbs (I just blend some slices of bread)

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp marmite

Salt and pepper

Fry the mushrooms and onions in the butter for approx 10 mins.  Add the grated cheese, breadcrumbs, marmite, beaten egg and seasoning, and mix.  Place the mixture in a greased baking dish/loaf tin and bake at 190 degrees/gas mark 5 for approx 35 mins, until nicely brown.  Leave to cool for 5 mins.  Works well for a Sunday roast or as a cold snack cut in to wedges.

From Vegetarian Cook Book by Doreen Keighley

Asparagus with tomato salsa and crumbled cheese (15 mins prep/cooking)

This recipe was recommended by my friend Cynthia, who has adapted it from Yotam Ottolenghi’s, and I really like it.  Cynthia says ‘it’s quick and easy, looks great and tastes even better!’ The asparagus is served with a really fresh tasting salsa of tomatoes, onions, vinegars and herbs, alongside crumbled cheese.  I used feta but I think it would also work with goats cheese, and Yotam suggests Orkney or Ticklemore cheese (never tried them – let me know if you do!)  The dish goes well with bread to mop up the salsa (particularly baguette I reckon) or a potato salad.  I love the part baked baguettes you can buy from supermarkets and finish off in the oven.  They keep for ages and can be frozen.  Anyway here is the recipe…Serves 2 – 4.

1 small onion, finely chopped
1 crushed garlic clove
2 tsp white wine vinegar
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
Large bunch of asparagus
5 or 6 ripe tomatoes or 12 cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp chopped mint
100g – 200g fresh crumbly cheese
Salt and pepper

Put the onion and tomatoes in a bowl with the garlic, both vinegars, herbs, oil and a pinch of salt.  Boil or steam asparagus for 2 or 3 minutes.  Spoon the salsa over the asparagus and top with the crumbled cheese.  Season to taste.

Velvet cupcakes PLUS a great veg side dish

Roast carrots and potatoes with gremolata (10 mins prep/45 mins cooking)

(Photo from

This carrots and potatoes with gremolata recipe (courtesy of Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall) makes a gorgeous side dish.  Gremolata is an Italian mix, very simply parsley, lemon zest and garlic, and it beautifully livens up the veg.  You could have the veg alongside a Sunday roast, and Hugh reckons it also goes well with eggs.  Serves 4.


500g young, finger-thick carrots, scrubbed
500g new potatoes, cut into small, similar-sized pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the gremolata

1 clove garlic, peeled
Around 25g flat-leaf parsley leaves
1 lemon, zest finely grated

Heat the oven to 190C/375F/gas mark 6. Put the carrots and potatoes in a large roasting dish. Pour over the oil, season well and stir to coat. Roast for about 45 minutes.

Meanwhile make the gremolata.  Roughly chop the garlic, add the parsley and lemon zest to the board, and chop and mix until fairly fine.

Remove the veg from the oven once they are tender and golden brown in places.  Toss the veg with the gremolata, so the heat ever-so-slightly takes the edge off the garlic. Add some salt and pepper, if needed, and serve.

Velvet cupcakes (20 mins prep/25 mins cooking)

Apparently velvet cupcakes are big in Manhattan bakeries, where they are made to look very pretty.  The recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s lesser known America cookbook.  The chocolate of the cupcake sponge with the creamy lemony frosting is delicious.  This was my first attempt at piping on frosting, and it was pretty easy, although it will take a bit of practice to look neat!  The key seems to be to go very slowly.  You could sprinkle on little decorations too (cheaply available in the supermarket homebaking section).  Sucking any leftover frosting from the piping bag and then immediately eating two cupcakes is not recommended as you may feel a bit sick…


50g unsalted butter, at room temperature (or melted)

150g golden caster sugar

1 large egg


1 tsp vanilla extract

Optional: 3 tbsp natural red food colouring (I didn’t bother with this)

2 heaped tbsp cocoa powder

150g plain flour

125ml buttermilk (or whole milk)

1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

1 1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

For the frosting

150g full-fat cream cheese

50g unsalted butter, at room temperature (or melted)

100g icing sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees / gas mark 4 and line a 12-hole muffin tin with cupcake cases.

Using an electric mixer, or by hand, cream your butter and sugar together until light and fluffy (or just stir it a bit like I did). Gently beat in the egg, a pinch of salt, the vanilla extract, and, if using,  red food colouring. In a separate bowl, mix together the cocoa and flour and fold half of it into your butter mix, followed by half the buttermilk. Repeat with the remaining flour and buttermilk until you have a gorgeous smooth texture.

In a small bowl, mix your bicarbonate of soda and white wine vinegar together so it fizzes up, and stir this into your cake mix.

Divide the mixture between your cupcake cases and bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes. To check they’re cooked through, insert a skewer into the center of a cake — if it comes out clean, they’re perfect, If not, just pop them back into the oven for another couple of minutes. Let them cool for 5 minutes in the tin, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely while you make your frosting.

Put all your frosting ingredients into a bowl and mix together until smooth and creamy, or whiz in a food processor until smooth, creamy and thick enough to spoon on to the cupcakes (once cool).   Alternatively you could pipe the frosting on with a piping bag and nozzle.

Baked red onions with walnut salsa (10 mins prep, 20 mins cooking)


(Photo from

This is a recipe from Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who writes for the Saturday Guardian magazine.  He has a restaurant and take away shop in Highbury in London.  I once bought a slice of passion fruit cake there and it was unforgettable…  He is sometimes criticised for having very long-winded recipes with obscure ingredients, but this recipe is simple, delicious and looks fancy once done.  Even my boyfriend loved it, and he would normally opt for a greasy fry up…You don’t need to use rocket as any salad leaves would work, the parsley could also be replaced with mint and if you’re not a fan of goats cheese, feta would be just as nice:

Here is Ottolenghi’s website: