Raspberry Gin Cocktail

It’s been ages since I’ve shared a cocktail so here’s a lovely one we had recently. Such a light and refreshing drink to sip in the garden on a sunny evening.

Lots of ice, a slice of orange, raspberry and a sprig of mint compulsory. Love loading up my drinks with half the fruit counter in them.

Ingredients

1 measure raspberry gin

1 measure Cointreau

Top up glass to 3/4 full with lemonade

Slice of orange, raspberry and sprig of mint to decorate.

Serve over lots of ice, stir and add in your fruit and mint.


Jubilee Pavlova

I don’t know about you but I’m always piping a union jack on my pavlova! I hope you like this special version I’ve done to celebrate the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. Being serious though, it’s quicker and easier to construct than you think, just remember to make the meringue the day before you need it, leaving the meringue to sit in the oven to cool overnight. It will be the star of the table at any Jubilee party.

Ingredients

4 large egg whites

225g caster sugar

1 tablespoon cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Juice of half a lemon

To decorate

300ml double cream

11 raspberries

24 blueberries

Method

Pre heat oven to 130c / 110c fan

Draw a circle the size of a dinner plate approx 20cm on a piece of baking paper. Cut it out of the paper.

Place baking paper on a baking tray, I used a circular one.

In a large bowl whisk your egg whites and bit by bit add your sugar whisking until they hold stiff peaks.

Beat in your cornflour, vanilla extract and lemon juice. Spoon the meringue mix onto the baking paper with a well in the centre.

Bake on the middle shelf of oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Turn oven off without opening the door and leave to cool preferably overnight otherwise for at least 4 hours.

When you remove the meringue from the oven the next day it will be crunchy but also chewy inside which makes it perfect. When you are ready to serve whip up your double cream so it is thick enough to spread half of it onto your meringue in a square shape without running. Put the rest of the cream in a piping bag.

Now pop on your fruit in a union jack formation ( copy my picture for ease) and pipe along the edges of the fruit with the rest of the cream to accentuate.

Having an amazing time making memories at your party.


Ragu Bolognese

Oh my! This was hands down one of the most delicious dinners I’ve made in a long time. Slow cooked beef that falls apart and melts in your mouth, coated in a silky rich sauce. It tastes so indulgent and it couldn’t be simpler. You need to slow cook your beef for two and a half hours over a low heat on the hob so this is one for when you are pottering about in the kitchen.

Works beautifully with tagliatelle. Everyone loved it and to my glee I had requests to make it again and again.

Serves 4

Ingredients

350g braising steak pieces

1 medium onion

1 celery stick

1 carrot

500g passata

1 cup red wine

1 litre beef stock – I used a stock cube and 2 tablespoons of Bovril

Tablespoon olive oil

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Method

Start by chopping your onion, carrot and celery into small pieces.

Heat up your olive oil in a large pan or cooking pot and add your chopped onion, carrot and celery for 10 minutes or so stirring all the time. This is called a soffritto and it will give your sauce the most amazing aromatic flavour. You want to sauté them until the onion is soft and translucent and the vegetables are soft and caramelised but do not burn them.

Add the beaf steak to brown for a couple of minutes stirring all the time.

Now add your wine and turn up the heat a little to reduce.

Pour in the passata, stock and season with salt and cracked black pepper.

Now simply leave to gently cook away over a low heat, checking every 20 minutes or so with a stir here and there.

10 minutes before cooking time is up bring a large pan of salty water to the boil and add your tagliatelle for as long as the instructions advise. Usually around 10 minutes for al dente. This will ensure the pasta is ready once the cooking time is up. Drain the pasta in a colander and add back to the saucepan swirling in a knob of butter.

Once the cooking time is up the sauce will be thick and deliciously rich in flavour. The meat should fall apart. Don’t be afraid to gently break the meat up a little more with the wooden spoon and stir into the sauce. Toss the pasta in immediately.

Tip: I like mine with chopped basil on top and freshly grated parmesan. Serve with a delicious garlic ciabatta and a glass of red.


Hot Chilli Salmon and Bean Salad

I love this time of year when the weather warms up and we start adding more varieties of salads to the weekly menu. This hot chilli salmon and bean salad is healthy, delicious and filling. There’s nothing more depressing than a salad made up of just lettuce, tomato and cucumber so that’s why I like mixing it up and adding rakes of other ingredients to jazz them up a bit. Not one to chop out food groups the addition of Jersey Royals add a bit of carbs to keep everyone happy.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 hot chilli salmon fillets – ready cooked

8 small Jersey Royal potatoes

Small tub of mixed beans – I like edamame and borlotti

Bag of mixed leaves

Sprinkle of sweetcorn

A few cherry tomatoes on the vine

1/4 cucumber – cut into rounds and halved

Knob of butter to coat the Jersey Royals

Dressing

1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil,

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Teaspoon dijon mustard

Clove of garlic minced

Method

Start by boiling your Jersey Royals until tender in a pan of boiling salty water. ( Usually 10-15 mins until tender).

Meanwhile, chop your cucumber and tomatoes add to a large salad bowl along with the rest of your salad items.

Mix up your dressing in a small bowl. You can make up a dressing and use a smaller amount if you are trying to keep things a little lighter.

Shred up your salmon fillets into bite sized pieces leaving the skin aside and add to the bowl.

When your Jersey Royals are ready drain, tip back in the saucepan and add a little butter to coat them. Allow to cool slightly, then chop in half and add to the salad bowl.

Add your dressing and serve immediately.

Tip: Feel free to add your herb of choice. Chives work perfectly.


Honey Paprika Chicken

A quick and easy marinade to liven up chicken but works great on salmon too. I served it with lots of fresh salad packed with lettuce, olives, cucumber and peppers. I make up a dressing with 3 parts oil and 1 part vinegar along with a clove of minced garlic and some salt and cracked black pepper.

Best served in the sunshine with an ice cold glass of your favourite white wine.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 chicken steaks or breasts

1 tablespoon paprika

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Clove of garlic – minced

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Squeeze over the juice of half a lemon while cooking

Method

Mix up your marinade in a large bowl and add your chicken to it to marinate, coating fully. If you have the time to marinate the night before, then all the better otherwise half an hour or so would be fine while you are preparing the salad etc.

Simply add a little olive oil to your griddle / frying pan and cook the chicken until it is fully cooked through. If I’m using chicken breasts rather than steaks I would recommend cutting them in half to reduce cooking time.

Serve with your desired salad and carb of choice.


Mini Fresh Cream Victoria Sponges

Something classic and simple to add to the table for your Platinum Jubilee celebrations. Fit for a Queen. Bite sized mini Victoria sponges filled with fresh cream and jam. You can whip up a batch in minutes. Serve immediately on adding the cream and jam!

Makes 12

Ingredients

125g butter

125g self raising flour

125g caster sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

1 teaspoon baking powder

2 tablespoons milk

Tablespoon icing sugar to dust over for decoration

Double cream and strawberry jam to serve

Method

Preheat oven to 200c / 180c

Line a fairy cake tin with paper cases.

Add all your ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Whisk together until smooth and creamy, then spoon evenly into your cases.

Bake for approximately 15-20 minutes on the middle shelf of the oven, keeping an eye so when they have risen and are nicely golden they are ready to come out.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire baking rack .

Split in half with a sharp knife and allow to cool for another 5 minutes so the cakes have fully cooled.

Meanwhile, whisk up your double cream.

Spoon on a dessert spoonful of double cream and a teaspoon of jam into each sponge cake, dust with icing sugar and serve immediately.


White Chocolate and Raspberry Cookies

Raspberry and white chocolate is such a delicious combination I had to marry them up in some cookies. I’ve only ever eaten them together in cake so I was delighted that they turned out so good.

Sandwich them together with some vanilla ice cream in between for added happiness.

Ingredients

150g raspberries

150g butter – unsalted

75g caster sugar

75g light brown sugar

1 egg

225g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate soda

100g white chocolate chips or small pieces

Pinch of salt

Method

Pre heat oven to 190c / 170c fan. Line and grease two baking trays.

Mix together your butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl. Add a beaten egg and beat it into the mixture.

Now fold in your flour, bicarbonate soda and salt and mix fully.

Fold in your chocolate chips and raspberries.

Roll out approximately 12 golf ball size mounds and place evenly between the trays, 6 per tray.

Bake in the centre of the oven for approx 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and leave to cool on the baking tray for 10 mins or so as they will still be cooking inside.

Sandwiching together with ice cream for extra happiness.


King Prawn and Avocado Salad

My take on a retro classic. Juicy king prawns, avocado and crunchy little gem lettuce. Smothered in a marie rose sauce which you can make with your eyes closed. To add coriander or not that is the question?

Ingredients

Marie Rose Sauce

1 tablespoon salad cream

1 tablespoon Greek yoghurt

1 tablespoon tomato ketchup

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

———

Lemon wedge to serve

Coriander – optional

Paprika – 1/4 teaspoon.

150g King Prawns.

Avocado

1 little gem lettuce – 5 leaves.

Method

Simply mix up your dressing, dress your prawns and place on top of your lettuce. Season with salt and pepper.


Thai-Style Drunken Noodles with Prawns

Inspired by a recipe card while doing my shopping in Waitrose. I made these lovely Thai style drunken noodles with prawns with a few of my own tweaks, substituting the odd ingredient here and there. It was such a lovely light dinner full of oriental flavour.

Ingredients

150g noodles

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon ketjap manis

1 teaspoon light brown sugar

2 tablespoons groundnut oil + 1 teaspoon for the noodles

180g king prawns

1 small onion – thinly sliced

10 asparagus spears

3 cloves garlic

1 teaspoon grated ginger

Half a red chillis – sliced

Half a lime

Method

Start by boiling your noodles in boiling water for the advised cooking time. Drain and stir through a teaspoon of groundnut oil. Set aside.

In a large wok or frying pan heat your groundnut oil and pan fry your onions until they are softened now add the asparagus and cook for a further 2 minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir fry for another minute or so.

Now add your prawns and pan fry until cooked through. Stirring all the time.

Add your soy sauce, fish sauce, ketjap manis and brown sugar to a small bowl, mix and add to the pan.

Now toss in your noodles and stir the pan to mix everything up a little.

Serve immediately with lime wedges to squeeze over.


Mini Cucumber and Borlotti Bean Salad

A simple salad to balance out all the excesses of Easter. Does anyone find mini cucumbers more of a novelty? I must get out more ha ha!

Love adding different beans to salads to change them up and pack in a bit of protein.

Serves 4

Ingredients

8 mini cucumbers

Bag of lambs lettuce and beetroot shards

2 cups of borlotti beans

Handful of vine cherry tomatoes

Dressing

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1 garlic clove minced

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

Squeeze of lemon juice

Method

Simply chop and arrange your salad on your chosen plate. Mix up your dressing and dress the salad. Serve immediately with your accompaniment of choice.

Tip: Grilled halloumi works well with this dish with a tzatziki dip.