Fitwaffle’s No-Bake Baking for families

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We’re sharing a taste of easy oven-free recipes from the book by Eloise Head AKA Fitwaffle who will star at Big Feastival

Microwave chocolate cake

No one will ever know this cake was made in the microwave! It’s unbelievably soft and moist, topped with a rich chocolate ganache. If you want to make a cake, but don’t want to turn on the oven, this chocolate cake is perfect. Plus it’s so easy to make and you don’t even need any eggs.

For the cake
• 150g (1¼ cups) plain (all-purpose) flour, heat-treated
• 100g (½ cup) granulated sugar
• 60g (8tbsp) cocoa powder
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 90g (6 tbsp) unsalted butter, melted, or 6 tbsp vegetable oil
• 380ml (scant 12/3 cups) warm water

For the topping
• 150g (5.25oz) dark chocolate, broken into pieces
• 150ml (2/3 cup) double (or heavy) cream

1. Grease and line an 18cm (7in) round microwave-safe cake mould with non-stick baking paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, granulated sugar, cocoa powder and baking powder using a balloon whisk until combined.
3. Pour in the melted butter or vegetable oil and warm water and beat until runny and smooth.
4. Pour the batter into your cake mould.
5. Microwave on medium heat for 5-6 minutes until a toothpick inserted into the centre of the cake comes out with a few moist crumbs on it. Check the cake about 1 minute before you think it’s cooked. If you overcook it, it can become dry and rubbery.

6. Put the chocolate and cream into a microwave-safe jug or small mixing bowl and microwave on medium for 1 minute 20 seconds. Leave to stand for 1 minute, then stir gently until smooth and combined.
7. Transfer to a serving plate and pour the ganache over the cooled cake, letting it drip over the edges slightly, and smooth it out.
8. Let the ganache set at room temperature, then cut into 8 slices and serve. Enjoy!
9. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. If eating the cake after it’s been in the refrigerator, leave at room temperature for at least 30 minutes before serving.

Strawberries and cream cheesecake bars

These cheesecake bars are fresh and fruity and so creamy and delicious. They have a buttery biscuit base, a creamy cheesecake filing packed with strawberries, topped with whipped cream and fresh strawberries. Perfect for a summer barbecue.

For the base
• 250g (9oz) digestive biscuits (or graham crackers)
• 100g (3.5oz) unsalted or salted butter, melted

For the filling
• 500g (1lb) full-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
• 150g (1¼ cups) icing (powdered) sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Pink food colouring (optional)
• 100g (3.5oz) fresh strawberries, diced

For the topping
• 200ml (scant 1 cup) cold double (or heavy) cream
• 8 fresh strawberries, halved, to decorate

For the base
1. Line a 20cm (8in) square baking tin with non-stick baking paper.
2. Put the biscuits into a food processor and process until finely crushed. Alternatively, put them into a plastic bag and crush with a rolling pin. Tip into a medium mixing bowl, then pour in the melted butter and mix with a spoon until fully combined.
3. Press the mixture firmly into the bottom of your prepared tin with the back of a spoon, then pop into the refrigerator while you make the filling.

For the filling
4. In a large mixing bowl, beat together the cream cheese, icing (powdered) sugar, vanilla extract and pink food colouring, if using, with an electric hand mixer until smooth, then fold through the diced strawberries.
5. Remove the chilled base from the refrigerator, then spoon on the filling, smoothing it out to the edges.
6. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours, or overnight, until completely set. Cut into squares.

For the topping
7. Whip the cream with an electric hand mixer to stiff peaks. Pipe the whipped cream in a swirl on top of each square. Place half a strawberry into the whipped cream, as shown in the photo, for decoration. (I find it easiest to do the topping after the cheesecake has been cut into squares).
8. Store in the refrigerator for up to three days.

November recipes: French Kiss

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Cathy Gayner’s Recipes from Le Rouzet – An English Cook in France, is out now, in aid of Age Unlimited. Here’s a taster…

Walnut tart

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: Four generously


For the pastry:
• 110g butter
• 140g flour
• 30g icing sugar
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the filling:
• 20g butter
• 200g golden syrup
• 100g walnut halves
• A pinch of mixed spice
• 100g mixed peel
• Four madeleines (or soft amaretti), crumbled
• One egg, beaten


This is very much part of Le Rouzet menus in the early autumn, when our walnuts are beginning to ripen and every tree seems to have a red squirrel perched in it, noisily eating our supply. It’s like a sophisticated treacle tart, but not heavy, and is really worth making, even if you don’t have large quantities of walnuts to use up.

Put all the ingredients for the pastry into a food processor and mix until the dough forms a ball. Press the dough into a 20cm tart tin with a removable base. Prick the pastry all over really thoroughly, even up the sides (this will prevent shrinkage), then chill in the fridge.

Cook in a preheated oven at 180C/ fan 160/ gas 4 until golden.

Melt the butter and syrup in a pan and stir in all the other ingredients. Pour into the pastry case and cook at 190C/fan 170C/gas 5 for 15 minutes.

Cool in the tin but as soon as you can, loosen the edges of the tart or it will get stuck. Serve with crème fraiche.

Cheese biscuits

Prep time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Makes: 40


• 250g extra-mature Cheddar, cut into chunks
• 250g salted butter, straight from the fridge, cut into chunks
• 250g plain flour
• Tabasco
• Dijon mustard
• Salt & pepper


I have dozens of recipes for cheese biscuits, but these are the ones the family insist on and I always have some in the freezer, ready to bake.

These amounts fit into my food processor perfectly; don’t be tempted to do more in one go, as it just won’t mix properly.

Put the cheese, butter and flour into the food processor and add 12 shakes of Tobasco, a heaped tablespoon of mustard, 25 grinds of pepper and two teaspoons of salt. (This is just a guide!).

Whizz all this up in the food processor and, as soon as the mixture forms a ball, stop and divide it into three parts.

Lay out three large bits of cling film and put a ball of cheese mixture on to each. With damp hands, roughly shape each ball into a sausage. Then roll up each parcel in the cling film and holding one end tightly, with the other hand, the thumb and first finger forming a circle, ease the dough along
the cling film, so you have a long, even sausage measuring about 30cm long
and 5cm across.

Freeze these parcels until you’re ready to use them (don’t attempt to cut them unless they are very cold; they will end up squashy). When you’re ready to cook, take the parcels out of the freezer and heat the oven to 200C/fan 180C/gas 6. By the time they have reached the right temperature, the cheese sausages will have thawed enough to cut into 2cm slices.

Line a tray with baking parchment and arrange the slices on it. Cook for about 10 minutes until golden brown; you can move them on to a serving plate straight from the oven without them coming to any harm.

They are best eaten on the day they are cooked, but if you have any left over, they freeze beautifully.

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October recipes: Rice up your life!

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We’ve teamed up with The Rice Association to offer you some seasonal inspiration to jazz up a store-cupboard ingredient.

National Rice Week is back this September (12-18th September), and to help you Rice Up Your Life we have some delicious and easy new recipes to tempt you to try a new rice dish.

From bomba rice in Arroz De Marisco, Basmati rice in Turmeric Garlic Rice, long-grain rice in Middle Eastern Green Rice with Tofu Kebabs, risotto rice in Risotto Soup and to using leftover rice in Vegan Rice Pudding with Roasted Plums, there’s a new recipe that everyone can enjoy.

All types of rice offer equally good value as they are convenient, full of nutrients, easy to cook and versatile. In fact, rice is one of the few foods that can be enjoyed sweet or savoury, hot or cold and for every meal of the day, even snacks.

To find out more ways to make the most of rice and to discover what’s happening during the week this National Rice Week, visit and for even more tasty rice recipes, visit

Vegan Rice Pudding with Roasted Plums by Samantha Hadadi

Prep time: 5 mins | Cooking time: 15 mins | Serves: 2

For the plums:

• 1 tbsp maple syrup
• 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
• 300g ripe plums, stoned and sliced
• 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

For the rice pudding:

• 180g cooked leftover cooked or pouched Basmati rice
• 180-250ml plant-based milk e.g. cashew
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
• Pinch ground nutmeg
• 2 tbsp maple syrup
• 2-4 tbsp plant-based cream
• Optional: Flaked almonds to serve


Start by preheating your oven to 180C / gas mark four and then prepare the plums. Whisk together the vanilla and maple syrup. Arrange your sliced plums on a lined baking tray, then drizzle with the maple syrup. Sprinkle over ground cinnamon, then toss to coat. Roast until juicy and oozing (around 15 minutes but check at 12 minutes). Set aside.

In the meantime, make your rice pudding. Add the cooked rice to a medium pan, then pour in 180ml of milk, as well as the vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and 2 tbsp of maple syrup. Stir well, then heat (on a low to medium heat) until thickened, creamy and the rice is soft (around 10 minutes) – add a splash more milk, if needed. Stir in the plant-based cream until you achieve texture desired.

Serve warm with flaked almonds and the plums and their juices.

Turmeric Garlic Pilaf by Your Food Fantasy


• 350g Basmati rice
• 2 tsp turmeric
• Two star anise seeds
• Five or six black peppercorns
• Two or three cloves
• 1 inch cinnamon stick
• Two black cardamom
• 4 tbsp vegetable oil
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• Two bay leaves
• Six or seven cloves garlic (sliced/chopped)
• Large onion (thinly sliced)
• 20g cashews
• 45g green peas
• 15g raisins

Prep time: 5 minutes | Soaking time: 30 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Serving: 4


Wash and soak rice in water for minimum 30 minutes. Bring 1.2L of water to boil in a large saucepan, add soaked rice, turmeric powder, star anise seeds, black peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon stick, black cardamom, and 2 tablespoons of oil. Gently stir, then let the rice boil for 5-7 minutes.

Once rice is cooked (rice should soft) switch off the heat and drain in a colander. Let it sit for 5 minutes. Heat the remaining oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add cumin seeds, bay leaves and stir. Add sliced garlic and onion to it and sauté till they are golden in colour. Add cashews and sauté again.

Now add peas and sauté again. Cover the pan with lid and let peas cook for 3-4 minutes. Add raisins and sauté. Add cooked rice and mix well. Cover the pan again and let rice steam for 3-4 minutes.

Switch off the heat and serve the rice hot. Enjoy!

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September recipes: Good Mood Food

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Ainsley Harriott shares two ideas from his newest cookbook.

Earthy beetroot works so well with salty and creamy goat’s cheese. I’ve used different coloured beetroot, which looks pretty on the plate, and cooked and raw beets for added texture, but you can stick with purple. Serve with fresh crusty bread.

Roasted beetroot, candied walnut & goat’s cheese salad

Prep time: 60 minutes including marinating | Cooking time: 45-50 mins | Serves: 4

HyperFocal: 0


• Four to six medium purple beetroot, scrubbed & trimmed
• Two to four medium heritage or candy beetroot, trimmed & peeled
• 25g caster sugar
• 1tsp butter
• Pinch of chilli flakes (optional)
• 60g walnut halves, toasted
• 150g goat’s cheese, crumbled
• Six to eight mint leaves, shredded a handful of lamb’s lettuce or watercress
• Zest of ½ orange
• Flaky sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the dressing

• 2 tbsp walnut oil
• 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
• 1½ tbsp sherry/red wine vinegar
• 1 tsp Dijon mustard/horseradish
• 2 tsp runny honey
• Zest and juice of ½ orange


Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/gas 6. Place the purple beetroot in a roasting tin and add about a 6mm depth of water. Cover the tin tightly with foil and roast for 40–50 minutes or until tender. Leave to cool, then use your fingers (you may want to wear gloves!) or kitchen paper to rub the skins from the beetroot. Cut into wedges.

Meanwhile, cut the heritage or candy beetroot into very thin slices, using either a mandolin or a very sharp knife. Put into a bowl. In a small bowl, whisk the dressing ingredients. Lightly season and pour half over the raw beetroot. Leave to marinate 30 minutes while the purple beetroot is roasting.

Line a baking sheet with parchment. Place the sugar, butter and chilli flakes in a small non-stick frying pan and cook over a medium heat, stirring, until the butter and sugar have melted and turned golden. Stir in the walnuts for a minute until the nuts are nicely coated. Pour out on to the baking sheet and use two forks to quickly separate the nuts.

Sprinkle with a little sea salt and leave to cool completely.

To serve, arrange the marinated beetroot on a plate then pile the wedges of roasted beetroot on top. Scatter over the cheese, mint and candied walnuts and top with salad leaves. Sprinkle over orange zest, drizzle over the remaining dressing and season with a little flaky sea salt.

Blueberry & almond clafoutis with cardamom cream


• Small knob of butter
• 100g caster sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
• 250g fresh blueberries
• Zest of one lemon
• 125ml whole milk
• 150ml double cream
• ½ tsp almond extract or 1 tsp vanilla extract
• Three large eggs
• 30g plain flour
• 40g ground almonds
• 1 tsp baking powder
• Pinch of salt

For the cardamom cream:

• 250ml double cream
• 1 tbsp icing sugar, plus extra for dusting
• Seeds of four or five cardamon pods, crushed

Prep time: 10 minutes  | Cooking time: 40 minutes | Serving: 4-6

HyperFocal: 0


traditional French clafoutis is made with cherries but I love the unique, perfumed sweet sourness of blueberries, and they go so well with almond. The ground almonds make this slightly less custard-like than a typical clafoutis. Instead, it has more texture and flavour, like a deliciously light cake batter. Serving with a cardamom cream may sound peculiar, yet the combination of the citrusy, aromatic spice with the vanilla notes in the sweet berries really does work. I like to call this bluefoutis, but maybe that’s just me!

Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/gas 4. Grease a 20cm ovenproof baking or pie dish with the butter and sprinkle with two tablespoons of caster sugar to coat the inside. Put the blueberries in the bottom of the dish and scatter over the lemon zest.

Mix together the milk, cream and almond extract.

In a separate mixing bowl, whisk the eggs and sugar together until light and frothy, then stir in the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and salt. Gradually pour the milk mixture on to the eggs, whisking all the time, until the batter is smooth and creamy, but being careful not to overmix.

Pour the batter over the blueberries and sprinkle with caster sugar. Bake in the oven for 35 to 40 minutes or until puffy, golden and just set with a slight wobble in the middle.

Meanwhile, whisk the double cream and icing sugar together until soft peaks form. Fold in the cardamon until well combined. Chill until needed.

Remove the clafoutis from the oven and transfer the dish to a wire rack for 5–10 minutes. The clafoutis will deflate a little as it cools, but don’t worry! Dust with icing sugar and serve warm or at room temperature, topped with a spoonful of the cardamom cream.

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August recipes: Feast of fun

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Ching He Huang & Lizzie Acker are two of the chefs on the sizzling line-up for the Big Feastival in Oxfordshire, 26th-28th August, so they’ve served up these summer tasters…

Lizzie Acker’s fruit tart

Prep: 65 minutes, Cooking: 50 minutes, Serves: Four

• 250g unsalted butter
• 2 eggs
• 350g plain flour
• 250g icing sugar
• Small pinch of salt

• 3 eggs
• 30g melted browned butter
• 50g ground almonds
• 150g double cream
• 150g light brown sugar
• 1tbsp flour
• 50g sliced almonds
• 1tsp vanilla bean paste
• 200g berries


Beat the butter and sugar until mixed together. Add the beaten eggs and then add the flour and icing sugar mix until it forms a dough.

Squash the pastry into a round disc, shape with cling film and chill for an hour in the fridge.

Add 30g of butter to a hard-based pan and place on a hob to melt and brown.

Beat the eggs and then add the sugar, double cream, ground almonds, vanilla paste and flour.

Once the butter has cooled slightly, add to the egg mixture and chill in the fridge. Set the oven to 175°c.

Roll out the pastry on to a lightly floured surface. Transfer to a tin and trim the edges with a knife. Prick the tart base.

Fill the tart with the filling mixture. Sprinkle in the berries and sliced almonds.

Bake for 50 minutes and then serve with cream and a dusting of icing sugar.

Ching’s waikiki bowl

Prep: 15 minutes, Cooking: 18-23 minutes, Serves: Three

• 8 cherry tomatoes, halved
• 1 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
• 1 tbsp finely chopped chives
• 200g (7oz) jasmine rice
• 50ml (2fl oz) coconut milk (see tip)
• 1 tbsp toasted coconut flakes
• 1 tsp rapeseed oil
• 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 2.5cm (1in) piece of fresh root ginger, grated
• 200g (7oz) smoked tofu, drained, rinsed in cold water and diced into 1.5cm (¾ in) cubes
• 2 tbsp mirin
• 2 tbsp tamari or low-sodium light soy sauce
• 1 tbsp golden syrup
• kiwi, peeled and sliced into 0.5cm (¼ in) rounds, then each round into 8 wedges
• 1 small pineapple, peeled, cored and diced into 0.5cm (¼ in) cubes
• 1 whole mango, peeled, stoned and diced into 0.5cm (¼ in) cubes
• A handful of roasted salted cashew nuts
• A handful of edamame, blanched from frozen, ready to eat
• 50g (1 ¾ oz) red cabbage, shredded
• Fried crispy salted seaweed, two or three pieces of hand-torn, crispy fried ready-to-eat nori, fried shallots and toasted sesame seeds, to garnish

In a small bowl, combine the cherry tomatoes with the tamari or light soy sauce and chopped chives and set aside.

Place the jasmine rice in a saucepan with the coconut milk and 350ml (12fl oz) water. Bring to the boil over a high heat. Reduce the heat to low to bring to a simmer, then cover and cook for 15–20 minutes.

Once cooked, remove the lid and fluff up the rice with a fork. Sprinkle over the toasted coconut flakes and set aside.

Heat a wok over a high heat until smoking, and add the rapeseed oil. Once hot, add the garlic and ginger. Toss for a few seconds, then add the smoked tofu and cook, tossing, for five seconds.

Add the mirin, tamari or light soy sauce and golden syrup and cook for two or three minutes until the sauce is reduced and the tofu is sticky. Set aside.

When you’re ready to serve, divide the rice between three bowls. Working in sections (like slices of a pizza) add the various toppings to the rice: the tamari-chive tomatoes, the teriyaki tofu, the kiwi, the pineapple, the mango, the cashew nuts, the edamame and the red cabbage.

Garnish with crushed crispy fried salted seaweed, nori flakes, fried shallots and toasted sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Ching’s tip — If the coconut milk has separated in the can, stir the milk to bring it back together before using.

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July recipes: Blooming Great Tea Party

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Tea parties have been a real feature of the summer so far after June’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations so carry on with a Blooming Great Tea Party in aid of Marie Curie

Invite your friends, family or colleagues to join you for tea and cake, and don’t forget to price your slice! Find out more about the work of Marie Curie and ideas to help you throw a tea party

Fiona Cairns’ strawberry & elderflower cake

For the cake:
• 450g unsalted butter, really soft, diced, plus more for the tins
• 450g self-raising flour
• 2 tsp baking powder
• 8 eggs, lightly beaten
• Finely grated zest of 2 large unwaxed lemons
• 450g golden caster sugar
• 4 tbsp elderflower cordial

For the elderflower cream:
• 1.2kg ripe, even-sized
• strawberries, cleaned, dried and hulled
• 2 tbsp golden caster sugar
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 600ml double cream
• 8 tbsp elderflower cordial

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 170°C/350°F/gas mark 4. To make the three-tiered cake, take three 20cm round sandwich tins. Butter the tins and line the bases with baking parchment. If you have only two tins, then make the cake mixture and divide it evenly into three batches, baking the third as soon as a tin becomes free.

For this cake, I use an electric mixer and beater attachment, but you can use a food processor, or a bowl, add the butter, eggs, lemon zest and sugar, and beat well, adding the cordial towards the end. Be careful not to over-mix, as you want a light cake.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a skewer emerges clean. (To halve the recipe, bake in two 20cm tins for 20-25 minutes.) Remove from the oven, leaves for a couple of minutes, run a knife around the rim to loosen the cakes from the tins and turn out on to a wire rack. Remove the papers and leave to cool completely. Trim the cakes flat.

For the filling and decoration:
Slice 400g of the strawberries and toss in a bowl with the sugar and vanilla, leave all the flavours to mingle for 30 minutes.

Whip the cream until soft peaks form, adding the cordial slowly just as it begins to thicken. Place one cake on a cake stand and spread with a layer of cream and half the slice strawberries. Repeat with another cake, a layer of cream and the remaining sliced strawberries. Top with the last cake. Spread the remaining cream all over the top and sides.

Take the best-shaped strawberries and cut 10-12 in half. Place the halved strawberries, cut side up in a circle around the edge of the cake, and pile up the rest in the centre. Cut the remaining strawberries into slices – or in half – and press into the cream all around the sides.

For the cake:
• 200ml soya or almond milk
• 20ml cider vinegar
• 180g self-raising flour
• 20g ground almonds
• 200g caster sugar
• ¼ tsp salt
• ¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
• ¼ tsp baking powder
• 80ml vegetable oil
• 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
• 1 teaspoon almond extract

For decoration:
• Raspberry Jam
• Toasted almond flakes
• Glacé or fresh cherries
• Almond icing.

Makes: 12 large cupcakes, about 24 fairy cakes or 48 mini ones

Ms Cupcake’s vegan Bakewell tart cupcakes

Mix the soya milk and vinegar together and leave to sit for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. Line your muffin tray with muffin cases.

In a bowl mix by hand the dry ingredients until fully combined. Add to the bowl the soya milk mixture, oil, vanilla and extract. Using a metal spoon quickly mix together until just combined (about 10 seconds). The mixture should still be a bit lumpy, so be careful to not over-mix! Tap the bowl onto the work surface to halt the raising agents from working too quickly (you will see the bubbles pop.)

Using an ice-cream scoop or a spoon, evenly place the batter into the lined muffin tray and tap the filled muffin tray on the work surface to pop the bubbles again.

Place in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack in the muffin tray for 10 minutes and then remove cupcakes from the muffin tray and finish cooling them on the wire rack until room temperature.

Once your cupcakes are cooled, spread a big dollop of jam on top of the cupcake and then pipe your almond buttercream on top to hide the jam below. Decorate using toasted almond flakes and top it all off with either a fresh or glace cherry.

Almond icing:
Using an electric mixer (or a handheld mixer), whip together the margarine, vegetable fat and vanilla until creamy (about 1 minute). Add half of the icing sugar and continue mixing (slowly at first and then bringing up to speed). Mix until combined. Add the rest of the icing sugar and mix while dripping in the soya or almond milk until it is a smooth consistency. If the icing is too firm, then add a bit more milk and mix again.

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April recipes: Feed your family

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Say bye-bye to boring dinners with exciting recipes from Chefs In Schools, by Nicole Pisani & Joanna Weinberg

Nerissa’s butternut squash cake


• 125g/4½oz unsalted butter
• 125g/4½oz golden caster sugar
• Two free range eggs
• 200g/7oz cooked butternut squash
• 250g/9oz self-raising flour
• One teaspoon ground cinnamon
• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
• Edible flowers, to decorate

For the icing

• 100g/3½oz unsalted butter, at room temperature
• 100g/3½oz soft light brown sugar
• 85g/3oz maple syrup
• 220g/7¾oz cream cheese

Prep: 15 minutes | Cooking:  45 minutes | Serves: 8 people

“This recipe is one we share with every school we work with,” writes Nerissa Buckley, school chef trainer.

“It was developed out of necessity but became a hit. I was at a school one day and we needed a cake ASAP for lunch. We like to get as much fruit or vegetables to our cakes as we can and I was hunting around for some to put in, when I remembered we were baking butternut squash whole in the oven for the next day. It was a lightbulb moment… and what a yummy result.”


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a 20-cm/8-inch cake tin with reusable baking paper. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat again until pale and creamy.

Add the cooked squash, flour and spices and gently fold in to combine. Pour the mixture into the lined tin and bake in the oven for 45 minutes until lightly golden on top and a knife or skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.

Make the icing while the cake is cooling: beat the butter, sugar and maple syrup (an electric beater makes this easier) until light and airy, then add the cream cheese, a quarter at a time.

Continue to beat for about two minutes until smooth and thick.

When the cake is completely cool, smear all over the top and sides. Decorate with edible flowers.


• 400g/14oz hummus
• 24 baby vegetables for “planting” e.g. radishes,  carrots (with leaves if possible), baby cucumber and  tenderstem broccoli, trimmed and peeled, with tops on, or cut into small spears
• Flatbread, to serve

For the ‘black soil’

• 75g/2¾oz stale, good-quality bread
• Olive oil
• 75g/2¾oz black olives, pitted
• 50g/1¾oz pumpkin seeds
• One teaspoon cumin seeds
• Generous pinch of chilli flakes

Prep: 5 hours (drying time) | Making: 10 minutes | Serves: 4-6 to nibble on


“he first time Oli and I made the Edible Garden, a Nopi classic, for Gayhurst School was just an epic moment for me – educational, beautiful, joyful, with the kids all eating vegetables. It was everything in one moment and I remember thinking that we were on to something here.” Nicole Pisani.

For this recipe you’ll need two small loaf tins or other vessels deep enough to “plant” the veg into – tumblers or squat mugs also work.


First make the “black soil”: preheat the oven to 100°C fan/120°C/250°F/gas mark ½. Toss the stale bread in a little olive oil and arrange with the black olives on a baking try and pop into the oven (turned off) to dry out for four or five hours. Place a dry frying pan over a medium heat and toast the seeds and chilli flakes until fragrant. Transfer to a blender with the dried olives and bread and blitz together.

Tip the mixture back onto the baking tray and rub the soil together to feel if it is dry enough. If not, return to the low oven for an hour or until dry.

Divide the hummus between the loaf tins. Scatter over the black soil and plant in the veg. Serve with flatbread.

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March recipes: Dinners for winners

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We’re sharing three hearty recipes from The Hairy Bikers’ Everyday Winners by Si King and Dave Myers, published by Seven Dials, out now £22 hardback

Cumberland sausage pie


• Eight Cumberland sausages (about 500g)
• 3 tbsp olive oil
• 15g butter
• One large onion, diced
• Two large carrots, diced
• Two celery sticks, diced
• 1 tbsp plain flour
• 2 tbsp tomato purée
• 100ml red wine
• 400ml beef stock
• 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
• Two bay leaves
• One large thyme sprig
• 1–2 tbsp Cumberland sauce
• 1 tsp orange zest (optional)
• sea salt and black pepper


• 1kg floury potatoes, cut into chunks
• 30g butter
• One bunch of spring onions, cut into rounds
• 1 tbsp Dijon mustard (optional)
• 50ml single cream
• 100g Cheddar cheese, grated

Prep: 20 minutes | Cooking:  90 minutes | Serves: 4 people

Cumberland pie is similar to shepherd’s pie, so we thought: why not make a pie with Cumberland sausages for the full Cumberland experience? We’ve broken the sausages up into little balls so everyone gets a bite of banger satisfaction. Add the cheesy potato topping and this is a dish to be proud of.


Skin the sausages. Divide each into four and roll each into a ball. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil and lightly fry until browned on all sides, then set aside.

Heat the remaining oil and butter in a large saucepan or a flameproof casserole dish. Add the veg and sauté for a few minutes, until well coated. Cover and leave to cook, stirring regularly, until tender – this will take at least 10 minutes.

Stir in the flour, then when it has disappeared, stir in the tomato purée. Turn up the heat and cook for a couple of minutes, stirring constantly, then pour in the red wine. Bring to the boil and continue to stir, then add the stock, sauce and herbs. Stir in the Cumberland sauce and orange zest, if using, then add the sausage balls. Season with salt and pepper.

Bring to the boil, then turn down to a simmer. Cook the sauce for 20 minutes, stirring to make sure it doesn’t catch on the bottom, until it has reduced a bit and thickened. Meanwhile, make the topping. Bring a large saucepan of water to the boil. Add potatoes, season and cook for 10–15 minutes until tender. Preheat oven to 200°C/Fan 180°C/Gas 6. Drain the potatoes and mash until smooth. Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the spring onions. Fry until they start to soften, then add the potatoes to the pan with the mustard, if using, and the cream. Beat together until well combined.

Put the filling into a pie dish or casserole dish. Spread the mashed potato over the top, then rough it up with a fork. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes until browned and piping hot.

If you’re a burgerholic like we are, you’re always on the look-out for something new. Here’s our latest incarnation of the veggie burger which has bags of flavour and a nice hit of chilli. Good served Mexican style with avocado and a dash of soured cream.


• 2–3 tbsp olive oil
• One small onion, very finely chopped
• ½ red pepper, very finely chopped
• One small carrot, finely grated
• Two jalapeños, very finely chopped (include seeds)
• 3 tbsp coriander stems, finely chopped
• Four garlic cloves, finely chopped
• 1-2 tsp chilli paste or hot sauce (such as chipotle)
• 1 tbsp soy sauce
• 1 tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground cinnamon
• 400g can of black, pinto or kidney beans, drained
• 50g cooked brown rice
• 75g breadcrumbs
• One egg
• Sea salt and black pepper

To Serve

• One avocado
• Juice of one lime
• Cheese slices (optional)
• Four burger buns
• Four lettuce leaves
• Four slices of red onion
• Soured cream (optional)
• Coriander leaves, to garnish
• Hot sauce

Prep: 20 minutes + 1 hour chilling | Cooking: 15 minutes | Serves: Four

Chilli bean burger (vegetarian)


Heat a tablespoon of oil in a frying pan. Add the onion, pepper and carrot and cook until the onion is soft and translucent and the vegetables collapsed down and glossy, but dry. Add the jalapeños, coriander stems and garlic and stir for another couple of minutes. Stir in the chilli paste or hot sauce, soy sauce, cumin and cinnamon and season with salt and pepper. Set aside to cool.

Put the beans into a bowl and mash roughly – you want a mixture of textures. Add the rice, breadcrumbs, egg and the cooled vegetables. Season and mix.

Heat a little more oil in the frying pan, take a dessertspoonful of the mix and form it into a small patty. Fry on both sides and taste for heat and seasoning. Add more salt, pepper or chilli, if necessary. Form into four patties and chill them for at least an hour – this will help the flavour develop.

Remove patties from the fridge. Prep the avocado, toss in the lime juice and season with salt. Heat more oil in a frying pan and add the patties. Cook over a medium heat until a brown crust forms underneath. Carefully flip. If serving with cheese, add it to the burgers now and cover the pan to help the cheese melt. Lightly toast the buns, then layer up the lettuce leaves, onion, avocado slices, burgers, cheese, if using, and soured cream, if you like. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve with extra hot sauce.

Barley & Beetroot Salad (Vegetarian)


• 100g barley, well rinsed (or farro)
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 garlic clove, grated or crushed
• 150g salad leaves
• 200g green beans, topped, tailed and blanched
• 2 large cooked beetroots, Peeled and diced
• Small bunch of dills, leaves only
• Small bunch of parsley, leaves only
• Small bunch of mint, leaves only
• 50g walnut pieces, lightly toasted
• Sea salt and black pepper


• 50ml buttermilk
• 1 tbsp olive oil
• 1 tbsp lemon juice or
• white wine vinegar
• ½ garlic clove, crushed or finely chopped
• 1 tsp honey

Prep: 10 minutes | Serves: 4 people

Barley is great in a salad like this or you can use farro – a super-healthy grain that has a similar nutty taste to barley and is quicker to cook. Whichever grain you use, this is a big earthy salad with plenty of flavour and texture. You could add some goat’s cheese, if you like.


Put the barley in a saucepan, cover with cold water and leave to soak for half an hour. Drain and cover with fresh water, then season with salt and bring to the boil. Simmer for half an hour until the barley is cooked through – you want it quite al dente. Strain, drizzle with the olive oil and add the garlic. Leave to cool to room temperature.

If you prefer to use farro instead, cook according to the packet instructions, then dress with the olive oil and garlic.

Whisk the dressing ingredients together and season with salt And pepper. Taste and adjust the seasoning or sweetness as necessary.

Arrange the salad leaves on a large platter. Add the beans and beetroots, then drizzle over some of the dressing. Sprinkle over the herbs, barley and walnuts, tossing everything very lightly so the top layers combine well. Drizzle over the remaining dressing and serve.

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February recipes: Sweet dreams

Round & About


We share a taste of Nadiya’s Fast Flavours published by Penguin Michael Joseph (£22)

Banana thyme loaf


• Four small bananas, three mashed (340g prepped weight), one sliced lengthways
• 50g salted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the tin
• 175g caster sugar a pinch of salt
• a large sprig of fresh thyme leaves picked
• 120ml olive oil
• 75ml whole milk, at room temperature
• 300g self-raising flour, sifted
• 100g caster sugar 45g salted butter 60ml cream
• ½ teaspoon salt flakes

Prep: 25 minutes | Cooking:  1 hour | Serves: 8-10 people


Put the mashed bananas in a bowl and leave out for half an hour to oxidise – this will make them browner and add to the colour. Or if you are in a rush, just mash the bananas and get to baking the loaf.

Line and grease a 900g loaf tin and preheat the oven to 180°C/ fan 160°C.
Add the butter and caster sugar to the banana and mix, then add the salt and thyme leaves, reserving a few to sprinkle at the end. Now pour in the olive oil and milk and mix through. Add the sifted flour and fold through until you have a smooth cake batter.

Pour into the tin and level off with a few sharp taps, add the two slices of banana, cut-side up, and bake for 50 minutes to an hour, covering loosely for the last 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready when a skewer comes out clean.

Meanwhile, make the caramel by adding the sugar in an even layer into the base of a pan, on medium to low heat, and watch as the sugar turns to caramel, stirring it occasionally. As soon as the sugar melts, add the butter. If you find it seizing, don’t worry, just keep stirring over a very low heat and the caramel will come together. As soon as the butter has melted, add the cream. Cook on a low heat for two minutes till you have smooth caramel. Take off the heat.

Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then take out and leave to cool on a wire rack.

As soon as it has cooled enough, drizzle over the caramel. If it’s become too stiff, warm gently and then drizzle. You will have caramel left over but not to worry, because we all need a little extra caramel and it’s perfect served on the side for anyone who wants some more to pour over. Sprinkle with a few thyme leaves, if you like.

The simplest of all recipes, this set-custard-slash-mousse pot is creamy, zesty and entirely foolproof. Using very few ingredients, the syllabub is infused with thyme and set with lemon juice. Simply serve with sponge fingers and a good cup of coffee.


• 150g raspberries
• One teaspoon rose extract
• A sprig of fresh lemon thyme, leaves picked
• 300ml double cream 50g caster sugar
• One lemon, zest and juice sponge fingers, to serve

Prep: 15 minutes + 1 hour chilling | Makes: Four

Lemon Syllabub


Have four serving glasses or jam jars ready.

Mix the raspberries with the rose extract and lemon thyme leaves and mash a little to break up. Divide the mixture into the four glasses.

Add the cream and sugar to a mixing bowl and whip to soft peaks. Add the lemon zest and juice and fold through. Spoon on top of the raspberries. Ideally chill for an hour before serving, but you can eat it straight away!

Serve with sponge fingers.

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January recipes: Gut Reaction

Round & About


We’re serving up a taster from The Gut-Loving Cookbook by Alana & Lisa MacFarlane which is out this month, published by Pavilion Books

Baked salmon topped with sourdough crumbs


• One slice of day-old sourdough, or shop-bought sourdough loaf
• 1½ tbsp olive oil
• One lemon, quartered
• One fennel bulb, finely sliced
• One red onion, sliced
• Two handfuls of cherry tomatoes
• 100g jarred artichoke, drained
• Two salmon fillets
• Two garlic cloves, finely sliced
• Handful of stoned black olives
• Handful of fresh herbs, such
as basil or flat-leaf parsley, roughly chopped
• Salt and pepper

Prep: five minutes | Cooking: 30 minutes | Serves: two people


Preheat the oven to 180°C fan/200°C/400°F/gas mark 6 and line a baking tray with baking paper.

Add the sourdough to a blender and pulse to breadcrumbs, then stir in the ½ tablespoon of olive oil. Season the salmon with salt and pepper and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Place the fennel, onion, tomatoes and jarred artichokes in a mixing bowl, season well and coat with the remaining olive oil. Spread out over a medium baking tray and cook for 15 minutes.

Remove the tray from the oven, stir in the garlic and olives, add the salmon and cover the salmon and vegetables with the sourdough breadcrumbs. Return to the oven and cook for a further 15–20 minutes until the salmon is cooked through.

Serve garnished with the chopped fresh herbs and an extra squeeze of lemon juice.

Extract credit to: The Gut-Loving Cookbook by Alana and Lisa Macfarlane of The Gut Stuff (Pavilion Books). Image credit – Haarala Hamilton

Spiced green pancakes

Who said pancakes have gotta be sweet? I love these for a weekend brunch or a lazy late lunch. Excellent with a spicy Bloody Mary!


• One garlic clove, peeled
• Handful of fresh coriander
• Handful of spinach
• ½ tsp ground cumin
• ½ tsp ground cardamom
• 100ml (3½ fl oz) milk or oat milk, plus extra if needed
• 125g (4½ oz) spelt flour
• Two large eggs
• 1-2 tbsp butter
• Salt and pepper

• One avocado, cut into chunks
• Two spring onions, finely sliced
• Two handfuls of spinach
• 2 tbsp milk kefir (homemade, or shop-bought)
• One 200g (7oz) can of sweetcorn, drained
• ½ tbsp chilli flakes
• Squeeze of lemon juice

Prep: 22 minutes | Cooking: 50 minutes | Makes: Two


Put the garlic, coriander, spinach, cumin and cardamom in a blender and blitz to a smooth green paste. Add a splash of the milk or oat milk to loosen if needed.

Add the flour to a large mixing bowl and create a well, then add the eggs, slowly whisking them into the flour. Add a pinch of salt and stir, then gradually add the milk, followed by the green paste and whisk to combine. Leave to rest for 20 minutes at room temperature.

Put all the topping ingredients in a mixing bowl, season with salt and pepper and stir to combine.

Melt the butter in a 20cm (8 in) non-stick frying pan over a medium heat.

Once hot, whisk the batter, then ladle 60ml (4 tbsp) into the pan. Cook for two minutes, then flip and cook for a further minute. Transfer to a plate and repeat, serve with the mixed topping.

Store any leftover pancakes in an airtight container in the fridge for three or four days.

The topping is best prepared and served immediately.

We have two copies of  The Gut-Loving Cookbook by Alana & Lisa MacFarlane, published by Pavilion Books to giveaway

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