Food, Life, Laughter and a little Cooking

Spring Clean

Everyone is slightly obsessed with cleaning at the moment. Can I just say? I’ve been extolling the virtues of cleaning to all who’ll listen for YEARS. But it has suddenly gone HUGE. People are watching instagram stories of cleaners, both professional and those that are just giving hints and tips about making the drudgery of cleaning your home easier, and dare I say it, more fun. Mrs Hinch is probably the most well known, she is an ace at short bursts of cleaning, with lots of hints and tips. I could actually watch her for hours! And who DOESN’T want a minkah???? Then there’s the *pixiestamp* (look it up- it’s a THING)

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My Sticky Toffee Cake

I love when we make sticky toffee pudding in work.  I can never resist a small slice.  Dark soft crumb with a toffee sauce, is for me, one of the best puds out there.  And I say pud, as really, to call it a dessert is just too refined! And it’s good to be un-refined every now and then.

Sticky Toffee Cake

Sticky Toffee Cake

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Wellingtons. Or wellies as I like to call them

One of my favourite dishes to make for a small dinner party is beef wellington.  I have made it very successfully in the past using our farm venison, but this time I had been given a gift of a magnificent beef fillet, so the decision was made for me.

I am also VERY fond of wellington squares.  One of my fellow Ballymaloe teachers makes superb ones that, quite frankly she doesn’t make enough… They remind me of my childhood favourite chocolate bar, the Twix. So I decided to recreate a home baked Twix as a dessert for the beef wellington. But that’s for another post.

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Sundae Best

Because of my small* hobby of collecting cookbooks, every now and then I find a gem. Any any cookbook with a delectable Chocolate Sundae in it is a winner with me.

I found the author quite by accident on Instagram. Christine Lane is a complete genius.


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The Bath Priory Hotel- My Visit

While attending a course last year in the art of entremet, I treated myself to staying in the Bath Priory Hotel, instead of our usual rental apartment.  My reasons? I felt like a little pampering. And always like to try somewhere new. I love to travel, but am not a big fan of travelling by myself. Primarily because I’m such a chatterbox I find it hard to resist turning to the person beside me and starting a conversation! My better half would be joining me after a few days, but for a while I was flying solo.

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Beef and Spinach Curry

When you hear the word curry, you immediately think of HOT.  And if truth be told, that is a real injustice to curry recipes all over the world.  My Dad never eats curry, (a bad experience in school I believe).  Because of that we never ate curry at home.  It really only when I went to Ballymaloe that the repertoire of curry opened it’s doors to my tastebuds.  Don’t get me wrong- I’m not a lover of HOT flavours, but I LOVE the fragrance and aromas that the perfect mix of spices conjure up.

The trick for me is to taste the chillis first before using.  A general rule of thumb is

The Smaller the Chilli- the hotter the flavour

The hottest chilli in the world is reported to be the Carolina Reaper.  I wouldn’t even like to chop it…

Beef & Spinach Curry
On that note, be always super vigilant when slicing and dicing chillies, whatever their temperature, no rubbing of the nose or eyes or the like……..

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Carrot Cake. Not just a pretty cake.

I love carrot cake.  But not the rich heavy kind where you KNOW it’s healthy.  I prefer to have a little piece of my little-bit-healthy but-very-tasty carrot cake.  As I’ve said before I’m not a huge fan of vegetable cakes.  But this one is a personal favourite. I decided this time to change it up a bit. I had seen a picture of flames on a cake, and thought that the candied carrots would be VERY cool looking as decoration.  As with all aspiration cake ideas- they take time to work out the kinks. Next time? I’d try to get longer carrots, and might trim the peel so that they looked more like the flames I imagined!

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My Easy Cheesy Orzo Bake

Orzo is probably one of my favourite pasta types. Hands down.

Orzo is a rice-shaped pasta that you can cook and serve in the same way you do rice. That is, you can boil it until the liquid is absorbed, cook it risotto-style, or bake it, which is what we are going to do.

Orzo Bake

And, because it is pasta, you can also cook it via the traditional pasta method where you drain away the excess cooking liquid after it is done.

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January Leftovers

The dreaded leftovers. Everyone has them, no one wants to eat them.  So there I am pondering my Terry’s chocolate orange (it’s not Terry’s it’s mine 😂😂 – love Dawn French).

I digress. What does one DO with a a leftover chocolate orange ?  Melt it down into some kind of confectionery chocolate dessert or the like? Not ideal obviously when we are *trying to be good*

Scones it is. Moderately sweet with a modicum of class making them acceptable to both create and eat in January.

Terry’s Chocolate Orange

Scones are made up of ingredients that will almost certainly include flour, a raising agent, milk, egg and a sweetener if they are the more traditional sweet scone.
Scones ALWAYS NEED to go into a pre- heated oven; the cooking times are short so they need that heat hit straight away.

Goddards House & gardens in North Yorkshire, was the family home of Noel Goddard Terry, creator of our aforementioned Terry’s Chocolate orange. Did you know it had a predecessor? The chocolate Apple……


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Roasted Chickpeas- Easy. Delicious. (Healthy!)

I don’t believe in the word diet. I believe in balance. In life. In health. In my day to day eating.
And although we are NOT chickpea fans in our house. Probably because I had the (dis)pleasure of entering my in-laws house on many an occasion to find they had gone out to the garden and left some chickpeas cooking to such an extent they were no longer recognisable in any shape or form. Just a lingering smell that is an offence to man and nature.  So. Not fans.

But….. beans and pulses need to be in our diet.  High in fibre, and economical to cook, they are the basis to many great vegetarian dishes, and non vegetarian dishes!! This recipe, is a snack, a really tasty snack….

Simple Roasted Chickpeas Recipe



2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil




To get the best value for this dish, start off using dried chickpeas.  A number of reasons, primarily because of your pocket. It’s MUCH cheaper to buy them like this.  And also- they are less processed like this.

Soak the chickpeas in LOTS of water for 8- 12 hours.


Then rinse with cold water, cover well with fresh cold water, and boil, uncovered for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat, cover and boil for a further 1 – 1 1/4 hours until cooked. Test for slight al dente texture.

Drain and dry REALLY well on kitchen paper.

Pre Heat the oven to 180˚C fan, toss the chickpeas in a bowl with the olive oil, and some salt and pepper. Add everything onto a baking tray and roast for 40 minutes until dark and crispy.


Drain again on kitchen paper and store in a airtight container.

Munch as necessary.