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.


Easy Chocolate Cake

I thought you might have some Easter eggs to use up and still be in the mood for a chocolate hit. This is just the recipe. Soft chocolate sponge sandwiched together and covered with fudgy icing. For the icing feel free to change the chocolate types to all milk or all dark if you desire as both work well.

Ingredients

125g caster sugar

4 eggs

100g self raising flour

25g cocoa powder

40g butter – melted

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing

150g dark chocolate

200g milk chocolate

250g butter

Method

Pre heat oven to 200c / 180c and grease and line an 8 inch cake tin.

Add your sugar and eggs to a large mixing bowl and whisk for approx 5 minutes until all thick and frothy.

Sift over the flour and cocoa, then fold it in gently along with the 40g melted butter and vanilla extract. Stir to fully combine.

Transfer the mixture to your lined cake tin and bake on the middle shelf for 25 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so. Once removed cool completely on a wire rack.

Once the cake has fully cooled slice in half horizontally and allow to cool a little longer as the inside of the cake may still be a warm. You need it to be completely cool for the icing to set properly.

Meanwhile, mix up your icing by melting the 250g butter and chocolate in a microwave in short 30 second bursts mixing each time to combine.

Slowly fold in the icing sugar.

Whisk to form a fudgy consistency and smear all over your base of the cake and sandwich the other cake on top.

Now smear the rest of the chocolate on top and all over.


No Bake Mini Egg Cheesecake

It wouldn’t be Easter without some sort of mini egg creation. The mini egg cheesecake for Easter is fast becoming what the Christmas cake is for the festive season. Here’s my offering. Feel free to decorate with reckless abandon but I think in this case less is more.

Ingredients

360g cream cheese – full fat

300g digestives

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

100g butter

150ml double cream

100g icing sugar

Decorations

80g mini eggs

1 mini Lindt bunny or bunny of choice

Method

Grease and line an 8 inch loose bottomed cake tin.

Blitz your digestive biscuits in a food processor or bash to crumbs in wax wrap with a rolling pin.

Melt your butter in a large pan and add your biscuit crumbs. Stir in your biscuit crumbs making sure they all get coated in the buttery liquid. Stir a few times to combine fully.

Transfer to your lined cake tin and press down to form a base.

Pop in the fridge to chill while you get on with the topping.

In a large mixing bowl add your cream cheese, vanilla and icing sugar and beat until fully combined. Once you have a smooth and creamy consistency spoon over the base evenly and decorate.

Allow to set in the fridge for at least a few hours. I chill mine overnight.

Remove and serve straight from the fridge.


Choc Chip Flapjacks

Perfect for afternoon tea, perfect for lunch boxes, perfect for a post work out treat. Basically perfect for anything, you get the gist. These can be made in a flash and devoured even quicker. If you end up having lots of Easter eggs to use up these are perfect. These are so popular I’d make two batches if I were you.

Makes approx 12

Ingredients

250g oats

125g butter

125g caster sugar

3 tablespoons golden syrup

80g dark chocolate – in cubes or chips

Drizzle of dark chocolate to decorate

Method

Pre heat oven to 180c fan

Weigh out all your ingredients into separate bowls.

Gently heat your butter in a saucepan along with the syrup.

Add the oats bit by bit making sure they get fully coated in the syrup mixture. Allow to cool a little.

Now add your dark chocolate chips.

Grease and line your baking tin and spoon the mixture in. I use an 18x18cm shallowish tin. Don’t worry if the mix doesn’t spread to the sides. I pour my mixture in and leave about 2 inches up the side of the tin otherwise it will be too flat if the mixture goes all the way to the edges.

Bake in the centre of the oven for 15 minutes. Once out of the oven quickly score into 12 and allow to set.

Lift out carefully with a palette knife. Allow to fully cool, then drizzle over some dark chocolate.

Put the kettle on and reward yourself with one.


Turkey Schnitzel

Schnitzel is more delicious than it looks. I like experimenting with different breadcrumb recipes to change up the flavour. Serve it with a range of dips, in a wrap or bun or just on it’s own with a rainbow salad.

Serves 4

Ingredients

4 turkey escalopes

1 dessert spoon onion granules

1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

1 dessert spoon paprika

2 slices brown bread

Cup of plain flour

1 egg – beaten

1 teaspoon garlic granules

Method

Whizz up your bread in a food processor so it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add salt, pepper and spices. Stir to combine.

Scatter your flour over the work surface and one by one dip your turkey escalopes into it followed by the beaten egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture.

Place on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.


Boisdale, Belgravia, London

Had such a lovely date day with my wonderful husband at Boisdale in Belgravia London. If you love a roast dinner, lovely wine and live dinner jazz I’d highly recommend. Everything was delightful but the food highlight was most definitely the sticky toffee pudding.


Malayan Chicken Curry

A beautiful gently spiced curry, this one is perfect for all the family including little ones. Creamy and full of authentic flavour.

Serves 5

Ingredients

4 chicken breasts – chopped

1 tablespoons fish sauce

1 cinnamon stick

1 teaspoon brown sugar

1 glug sunflower oil

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 onion – diced

Thumb sized piece of ginger – grated

2 cloves garlic – minced

200ml vegetable stock

1 teaspoon turmeric

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1 tablespoon mango chutney

150ml double cream

Method

Chop your chicken into cubes and season with salt and pepper. Pan fry in a little sunflower oil and set aside.

Pan fry your onions until they are soft and translucent along with the ginger, garlic and curry powder, turmeric and ground cloves.

Add your stock and mango chutney.

Return the chicken to the pan with the onions and spices etc. Bring to the boil for about five minutes to reduce the liquid.

Add your cream, cinnamon stick, fish sauce and sugar and simmer for around 10 minutes until the chicken is fully cooked through.

Serve with lots of mango chutney, basmati rice and naan bread.


Bailey’s Cheesecake

If you are a fan of Bailey’s you are going to love this. A crunchy chocolate cookie base and creamy topping laced with Bailey’s and topped with chocolate shavings.

Ingredients

Base

250g chocolate cookies

120g butter

Topping

360g cream cheese – I used Philadelphia

4 tablespoons Bailey’s

100g icing sugar

200ml double cream

1 Ripple or Twirl chocolate bar – crumbled

Method

Start by greasing and lining an 8″ loose bottomed cake tin.

Wrap your cookies in wax wrap and bash into pieces with a rolling pin, You can do this by blitzing in a food processor if you prefer.

Melt your butter in a large saucepan over a low heat and stir in your cookie crumbs. Mix to ensure they all get coated in the butter.

Transfer them to your cake tin and press down to make a firm base.

Pop in the fridge while you mix up your cheesecake topping.

In a large bowl beat together your cream cheese, double cream and icing sugar. When fully combined measure out your Bailey’s and add it to the mixture. Fold in gently.

When all your ingredients are smooth and creamy spoon onto your cheesecake base and allow to set in the fridge. I leave mine overnight but a few hours will be fine.

Slide out your cheesecake from the tin and set on your desired serving plate. Sprinkle over your crumbled chocolate.


Peri Peri Chicken

Portuguese food brings back so many happy memories of being in Portugal laughing and drinking rosé with friends. Chicken peri peri is a Portuguese classic that I’ve sampled many times. It is amazing with chips, rice or my oregano and feta potatoes. I’m all for a simple no fuss dinner but tastes like you’ve gone to so much effort.

Literally mix up the marinade, massage it into the chicken (rubber gloves optional) and whack it in the oven. The marinade is also lovely on chicken cooked over the bbq just make double for basting.

Ingredients

1 large whole chicken. I used a 1.9kg chicken

For the marinade

2 teaspoons chilli flakes

4 cloves garlic – minced

2 teaspoons smoked paprika

2 teaspoons oregano

Salt and pepper to season

Juice of a lime

2 tablespoons olive oil

Method

Pre heat oven to 200c / 180c fan

Mix up your marinade in small bowl or cup.

Place your chicken in a large baking dish and pour over the marinade massaging it in so every part of the chicken is coated. I use surgical gloves for this!

Roast in the centre of a hot oven according to instructions on how long you need to cook your chicken. I cooked my 1.9kg chicken for 1 hour 45 minutes. Don’t forget to baste every half hour or so with the cooking juices this will keep the chicken moist and make sure it doesn’t dry out during cooking.

Tip: Serve Nando’s style with hot buttered corn on the cobs.


Rainbow Bulgur Wheat

I must admit I am quite a newcomer to bulgur wheat. Introduced to me by my sister and I’m now totally converted and it’s number one fan. My mum used to put me off by calling it vulgar wheat but the thing is she’d only ever had it made very plain with boiled water so to be honest I would have been inclined to agree with her. However, it’s just how it is with vegetables. If you just boil things in hot water they are not going to be the most flavoursome thing to eat.

I’ve added some vegetable stock, good quality extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar, honey, garlic, a squeeze of fresh lemon, sea salt and cracked black pepper along with cucumber, pomegranate and parsley and it really is a wonderful explosion of flavour that will brighten up any salad or meat dish. Also lovely served with feta or halloumi for a delicious veggie option. I hope you try it.

Ingredients

100g bulgur wheat

400ml hot vegetable stock – I used one vegetable oxo cube

Half a cucumber – diced

100g pomegranate seeds

Hand full of parsley – finely chopped

Dressing

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon runny honey

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

1 clove garlic – minced

Squeeze of lemon juice

Method

Measure out your bulgur wheat on the scales and rinse thoroughly in a sieve.

Add to a pan and pour over your vegetable stock. Add a lid and boil over a high heat for approximately 10 minutes until the bulgur wheat soaks up the stock. Stir gently with a fork.

Transfer the light and fluffy bulgar wheat to your serving dish along with your pomegranate seeds, cucumber and parsley.

Mix up your dressing and pour over the bulgur wheat stirring thoroughly to combine.