Raspberry and Coconut Tray Bake

I make these for my beautiful mum who is the queen of self discipline when it comes to eating healthy and even she cannot resist them. Raspberry, coconut bites of heaven in a delicate almond sponge. Sometimes you’ve just got to give in and just embrace the deliciousness.

Ingredients

225g butter

300g caster sugar

150g plain flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

3 eggs

175g raspberries

1 teaspoon almond essence

Cup of dessicated coconut to sprinkle over

Table spoon or two of icing sugar to dust.

Method

Pre heat oven to 200c / 180c fan

Line and grease your cake tin. Leave a little of the greaseproof paper hanging over so you can lift the cake out easy once it is cooked. I used a 28x19cm oblong shallow tin.

Just place all your ingredients for the cake except your raspberries, coconut and icing sugar into a large mixing bowl and whisk with an electric whisk or however you wish until smooth and creamy.

Now add your raspberries and fold them into the mixture evenly. Smooth over so it’s nice and even with a palette knife and sprinkle over your coconut.

Pour into your cake tin and bake on the middle shelf of the oven for 30 minutes.

You will see it rising and when it’s ready to take out it will be lightly golden and springy to the touch in the centre.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes or so. Once the cake has cooled down remove by lifting out by the greaseproof paper and place on a wire rack to cool. Slice into squares and scatter over a little dusting of icing sugar to make it pretty.


The Bell, Ticehurst

We had the best weekend celebrating Neil’s birthday at the Bell in Ticehurst. A cosy 16th century hotel with quirky boutique style bedrooms individually decorated.

Beautiful food, wine and cocktails. Everyone was so friendly and brought their dogs along which is great if like me you are deprived of having a dog. Just saying!

Oh yeah and don’t wear 7 inch heels when you go either.


Sirloin Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

I’ve been meaning to make chimichurri sauce for ages and I’m glad I did, everyone loved it. Parsley, garlic, chilli, the list goes on…..

If you’re going on a first date the next day, don’t bother though as they will pass out and you will take their eyelashes off if you breathe on them. Just hang around by yourself for a day or so.

I serve it with rice instead of chips as I’m weird and prefer that along with a rocket and parmesan salad.

Serves 2

Ingredients

1 sirloin steak each

Chimichurri

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

1/4 cup parsley – finely chopped

1 hot red chilli – chopped small

3 cloves garlic – minced

2 teaspoons oregano

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Method

Simply add all your ingredients to a small bowl and mix. Rub your steaks with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook over a high heat to your liking. Spoon over your chimichurri and serve immediately.


Banana Split

This old school dessert is so quick and easy to make for the kids while they are off school. Even better get them making it themselves if you can stand the mess. I used Bounty chocolate sauce to drizzle over and it was divine. Sprinkles optional.

Serves 1

Ingredients

1 banana sliced length ways down the middle

2 scoops of ice cream

3 dollops of squirty cream

3 strawberries – cut in half

Teaspoon sprinkles

Drizzle of chocolate sauce

Method

Start by cutting your banana lengthways down the middle and place face up on the plate.

Scoop out 2 balls of ice cream or 3 if you are being traditional and place on top of the banana.

Now squirt on 3 dollops of squirty cream.

Sprinkle over your sprinkles and strategically dot on your strawberries.

Drizzle over your chocolate sauce and devour!


The Potting Shed, Langley

We had an impromptu visit to the Potting Shed, Langley and I thought I’d share this recommendation with you. We go here at lot but last week the sun was shining, the garden was buzzing and the music was so great we ended up staying for dinner. Their woodfire pizzas and cocktails are excellent and there’s lots to choose from. It’s part of the Elite pub chain so if you are a local you will know their pub / restaurants well. The food was lovely but the highlight for me was the chocolate brownie, amaretti and cherry ice cream. If you go order it and thank me later!


Chocolate Shortbread

If you love shortbread, then this is for you. This is not just any old shortbread, this is bite sized buttery shortbread dipped in gorgeously thick milk chocolate and dusted with icing sugar. Feel free to use any type of chocolate for the dipping. I’ve had a request from my husband to make him one massive version of this as it’s his favourite!

Ingredients

100g butter

50g caster sugar

100g plain flour and a little to dust the work surface when rolling out.

50g cornflour

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Icing sugar to decorate

150g bar of milk chocolate for dipping

Method

Preheat oven to 160c / 140c fan

Line and grease a baking sheet. You will need a cookie cutter. I used flower shape.

In a large mixing bowl cream together your butter, sugar and vanilla extract.

Now add your plain flour and cornflour bit by bit. I do this in about four stages so it’s easier to mix into the butter and sugar and doesn’t puff everywhere.

Knead the mixture to bring it together into a ball and roll out on a floury surface to about 1/2 cm thickness.

Bake in the centre of the oven for approx 12 minutes. Slightly before the baking time is up ( about 5 mins before) gently press on the centre of the shortbread to check that it’s crisp. If not allow it to bake for another 5 mins.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes or so.

Melt your chocolate by breaking into pieces and placing in a microwaveable bowl. Microwave in short 30 second bursts until the chocolate has melted.

Dip in half of each biscuit. Allow to set on plate.

Sprinkle over a little sugar before serving.


King Prawn Rice Bowl

Fresh, crunchy and full of aromatic flavour. Juicy king prawns, crunchy mange tout and mini corn come together with red peppers and spring onion in this healthy prawn rice bowl. I pack loads of coriander in as I think it compliments this dish no end. The sauce is heavenly and made up of hoisin, soy, coconut milk and lots of fresh lime juice squeezed in. I cook the rice in a mix of water and coconut milk light to give it a gentle coconut taste. Quick, easy, healthy and delicious. Enjoy!

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 cup rice ( cooked in 1 cup water and 3/4 cup coconut milk light

200g king prawns

150g mange tout

130g mini corn

1/2 red pepper – sliced into strips

Tablespoon poppy seeds

Tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Coriander (optional but recommended)

Sauce

2 cloves garlic – minced

Thumb size piece of ginger – grated

Juice of 1 lime

2 tablespoons hoisin sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon soy sauce

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

3 tablespoons coconut milk light.

Method

Start by cooking your rice in a separate pan. Rinse thoroughly in a sieve and tip in 1 cup of water and 3/4 cup of coconut milk light to give the rice a gentle coconut flavour. Cook low and slow with the lid on until all the liquid has evaporated. I would recommend cooking the rice first as it will be fine to sit and rest for a few extra minutes with the lid on while you cook the prawns and veg.

Start by rinsing your vegetables

Chop your corn into three pieces and your pepper into strips, then chop your spring onion into 1cm pieces.

Mix up your sauce in a small bowl and set aside.

Add your sesame oil to the wok and heat over a moderate heat adding your veg along with a tablespoon of the sauce and stir frying for a few minutes to lightly soften. You don’t want to over cook it as you want it to have a crunch when you bit into it.

Now add your prawns and the rest of the sauce. Stir fry for another couple of minutes so the prawns are warmed through if fresh and cooked through if frozen.

Once the rice is cooked transfer your rice to bowls and top with the prawn and vegetable mix.

Sprinkle over your poppy seeds and fresh coriander if desired.


Heritage Tomato and Butterbean Salad with or without Tuna

Heritage tomato and butterbean salad. Perfect with our without tuna. I love Summer so much as there’s an abundance of salads like this. They’re absolutely beautiful and full of flavour. I got some lovely Isle of Wight heritage tomatoes in the most glorious colours. If you’ve not tried heritage tomatoes this is your sign to do so. They’re fresh, crisp and aromatic. The butterbeans give it a real lift. I adore them, they remind me of my childhood when my mum used to put them in everything. Summer in a bowl. I hope you like it.

Serves 3

Ingredients

1 bag of salad leaves

1 handful of rocket

3 large heritage tomatoes

1 small onion – thinly sliced

3 tins tuna ( optional)

2 teaspoons cider vinegar for the tuna

1 cup butterbeans

1/2 cucumber – peeled and sliced

Dressing

3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon cider vinegar

Squeeze of lemon

Salt and cracked black pepper

I clove garlic – minced

Method

Arrange your salad in a serving bowl and sprinkle over your butterbeans, cucumber and onion.

Slice your tomatoes into about 1cm thick rounds and place on top of the salad. Mix up your dressing and spoon over the salad. Toss the salad about a bit to make sure it’s all coated in the dressing.

If you are adding tuna drain it and add to a separate bowl. Shake over a couple of teaspoons of vinegar, season with salt and cracked black pepper mixing thoroughly.


Teriyaki Beef Stir Fry

As you know, I love a quick and easy dinner. When it’s hot outside I want something simple and healthy. This teriyaki marinade works well with beef, chicken or salmon.

I much prefer to make a stir fry with fresh individual ingredients rather than a bag of standard stir fry mix. It just tastes a lot better and full of crunchy loveliness. The lime adds a fresh zing.

Serves 2

Ingredients

2 sirloin steaks

2 glugs sesame oil

Stir Fry sauce

2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

1 tablespoon dark soy sauce

2 cloves garlic – minced

Juice of 1/2 a lime

1 teaspoon honey

——–

1 nest of noodles

Salt and cracked black pepper to season

1 cup mange tout

1 cup mini corn – chopped

1/2 red pepper

1 small carrot – thinly sliced

2 cabbage leaves

1/2 tin water chestnuts – drained

Method

Firstly mix up your sauce and set aside.

Add your noodles to a pan of boiling water.

Rub your steaks with a little oil and slice into thin strips about 1cm thick, removing any fat.

Chop all your veg into smallish pieces.

Heat your wok and pan fry your steak over a high heat for a couple of minutes adding a tablespoon of the stir fry sauce.

Add a drizzle more oil and put in your vegetables and pan fry until slightly softened but still crisp to bite. This should take about 5 minutes or so.

Once your noodles are cooked, drain them and add a teaspoon of sesame oil to loosen. Tip them into the mix and then add the stir fry sauce ensuring all the ingredients are fully coated.

Serve immediately.


Berry Cheesecake

Where are my cheesecake lovers? Impossible to resist a slice. Crunchy ginger base with creamy vanilla topping adorned with sweet juicy blueberries and strawberries. I had the compliment of someone saying this was the best cheesecake they ever tasted when I served this. I’d be inclined to agree.

A simple dessert that looks and tastes like you have gone to so much more effort. What’s more it’s no bake!

Make this for the cheesecake lovers in your life.

Ingredients

300g ginger nut biscuits

100g butter

150ml double cream

350g cream cheese

100g icing sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cup of blueberries

Cup of strawberries

Method

Line and grease an 8 inch loose bottomed tin with greaseproof paper

Blitz your biscuits into crumbs however you desire. I wrap in wax wrap and smash with a rolling pin.

Melt butter in a heavy bottomed pan and add the crumbs. Stir to coat every crumb.

Press the coated crumbs into a loose bottomed cake tin to form the base of the cheesecake. Press down firmly with your fist to ensure a neat base.

Pop in the fridge to chill while you prepare the topping.

In a large mixing bowl tip in your cream cheese, cream, vanilla extract and icing sugar. Whisk together for a couple of minutes so all the ingredients combine beautifully.

Remove base from fridge and spread over the creamy topping.

Arrange your berries on top and pop back in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight.

Serve on a cake stand for added beauty.