Orange and choc-chip muffins


These muffins are a Nigella recipe which I found in a back-issue of Delicious Magazine that we have lying around (but the recipe can also be found here, among other places).

I replaced the white choc-chips for dark, as that was all we had, but they’re just as delicious either way.

Makes 12

250g plain flour
50g fine cornmeal/polenta (not instant)
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
150g caster sugar
150g white chocolate chips
90ml vegetable or groundnut oil
1 large organic egg
200ml full-fat milK
1 orange, zest and juice

  1. Preheat the oven to 200C/180C fan/gas mark 6. Line a muffin tin with papers.
  2. Measure the flour, cornmeal, raising agents and sugar into a bowl, and stir in the chocolate chips.
  3. In a measuring jug, mix together the vegetable oil, egg, milk and zest and juice of the orange.
  4. Pour the mixed liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients, stirring with a wooden spoon. A lumpy batter makes for a lighter muffin; in other words, do not overwork.
  5. Divide among the paper cases and bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until cooked, when a cake tester should come out dry.
  6. Let stand on a wire rack for 5 minutes, before removing the muffins, in their papers, and eat warm.


Caramel Walnut Slice


This slice isn’t far off being the perfect sweet, chewy, old-fashioned-style slice. The recipe is also highly convenient, as while the base is part-cooking, you can make the topping.

Recipe from The Australian Woman’s Weekly cookbook The Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits.


1/2 cupself-raising flour
1/2 cup coconut
1/4 cup castor sugar
60g (2 oz) butter



2 eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1 cup coconut
90g (3 oz) walnut pieces
1 1/2 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/2 teaspoon baking powder


Sift the flour into a bowl, add sugar and coconut, mix well. Melt the butter, add to the dry ingredients, mix well. Pressed the mixture into a greased/lined tin (28cm x 18cm according to the recipe, I used a 23cm x 23cm tin). Bake in the oven at 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4 for 15 minutes.



Lightly beat the eggs and vanilla with a fork. Add coconut, chopped walnuts, brown sugar and baking powder, mix well. Spread the mixture over the partly-cooked base, return to moderate oven and bake for a further 25-30 minutes, or until the topping is cooked. Cool in the tin; cut into squares or slices.



Banana White Choc Muffins



These muffins are the Banana Butterscotch Muffins from Nigella Express, but I’ve substituted the butterscotch chips for white choc. These muffins are incredibly easy to make and so very delicious, not to mention a great way to use up some over-ripe bananas.

Orginal recipe found here.


3 very ripe bananas
125 ml vegetable oil
2 large eggs
250 grams plain flour
100 grams caster sugar
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 pinch ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
150 grams  white chocolate chips


  1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/gas mark 6/400°F and line a 12-bun muffin tin with muffin papers.
  2. Mash the bananas and set aside for a moment.
  3. Pour the oil into a jug and beat in the eggs.
  4. Put the flour, sugar, cinnamon, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder into a large bowl and mix in the beaten-egg-and-oil mixture, followed by the mashed bananas.
  5. Fold in the white choc chips, then place equal quantities in the prepared muffin tin – I use an ice cream scoop and a spatula – and bake in the oven for 20 minutes.



Peanut Butter and Choc-Chip Biscuits



These biscuits are so moorish, it’s almost criminal. The recipe comes from the Australia Women’s Weekly Big Book of Beautiful Biscuits, the version of it we have was published around the time I was a baby (vis: over 20 years ago). The only alteration I’ve made to this recipe is adding in choc-chips. I had originally wanted to make normal choc-chip cookies, but since we didn’t have all the ingredients, I ended up making these beauties instead.

Makes about 30.

125g butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla essence
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1/3 cup brown sugar, lightly packed
1/3 castor sugar
1/3 peanut butter (I used smooth, I assume crunchy would work just as well)
1 1/4 cups plain flour
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup chocolate chips (I used dark, but milk would work too)

Preheat the oven to 180C/350F. Cream butter, vanilla, lemon rind, sugars and peanut butter. With a wooden spoon work in the flour, soda and salt, making a stiff dough.


Roll heaped teaspoonfuls into small balls and place on a lined/greased oven tray. Press the buscuits down with a fork, first crosswise and the lengthwise, for a crinkled effect.


Bake for 10-15 minutes, until golden. Allow to cool on a rack until cool enough to pick up without burning fingers and mouths. Eat.


Banana Slice with Lemon Icing


This delicious banana slice is based on a recipe from the Nursing Mothers Association of Australia Cookbook. I’m not quite sure how we’ve got this cookbook, since it was published more than 15 years before I was born, but we do, and it’s a good one. It has so many great staple recipes. Some are a bit dated, the book being from the ’70’s and all, but a lot of the sweet things in particular haven’t aged a day. And besides, retro is cool.

For the slice:

1 ripe banana
60g butter or margarine
1/2 cup sugar (brown or castor)
1 egg1 cup self-raising flour (plain or wholemeal)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 cup milk
1/4 chopped walnuts

For the icing:

15g butter or margarine
1 teaspoon hot water
3/4 – 1 cup icing sugar
Few drops of lemon essence OR 1 tablespoon lemon juice OR 1 tablespoon lemon curd

Pre-heat oven to 180°C/350°F. Line/grease an 11″ x 7″ lamington tin.

Peel and mash the banana. Cream the butter and sugar, add the banana. Beat for two minutes. Add the egg, beat well. Add alternatively the milk with the flour and spices. Stir in the chopped nuts. Decant into the prepared tin. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until cooked and slightly browned.

While cooking, make the icing. Melt the butter. Add all the ingredients into a bowl and stir until combined.

Ice the slice while still warm.




Roast Shoulder Of Lamb With Merguez Spices


This is another excellent recipe from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Everyday cookbook.  On a bitterly cold winters day, a lovely roast slow-cooking in the oven is something truely beautiful. The spice rub is wonderfully fragrent, and fills the house with delicious smells. This recipe does take a long time to cook (6 hours!), but the results are definetly worth it.

I used a leg of lamb, and ground spices, rather than seeds. I don’t believe it changed the end result.

I served it with green beans (boil in salted water, drain, add a nob of butter, let it melt. Serve) and mash (3 carrots, 5 potatoes and a sweet potato).

Serves 6-10, depending on the size of the meat.

1 shoulder of mature lamb, mutton or hogget, on the bone

For the spice paste:
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp fennel seeds
½ cinnamon stick, broken up
1 tsp black peppercorns
A pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli powder
2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
Leaves from 2 large rosemary sprigs, finely chopped
2 tsp sea salt

If you have time, toast the cumin, coriander, fennel seeds, cinnamon and peppercorns in a dry frying pan over a medium heat for a minute or so, until fragrant (this boosts the flavour but isn’t essential). Crush to a coarse powder using a pestle and mortar, then combine with the cayenne or chilli powder, paprika, garlic, rosemary, salt and olive oil.


Lightly score the skin of the meat with a sharp knife, making shallow slashes just a few millimetres deep and 1–2cm apart. Rub half the spice paste all over the lamb shoulder, underneath as well as on top, and especially into the cuts. Put into a large roasting tin and place in an oven preheated to 220°C/gas mark 7. Roast for 30 minutes.


Remove from the oven and rub the remaining spice paste over the meat using the back of a wooden spoon. Pour a glass of water into the tin (not over the meat), cover with foil and return to the oven. Reduce the heat to 120°C/gas mark ½ and cook for 6 hours, or until the meat is very tender and falling off the bone. You can add another glass of water halfway through, to keep the pan juices ticking along.

Transfer the lamb to a warm serving plate. Skim the excess fat off the juices in the tin. Tear the meat into thick shreds and serve with the juices spooned over. Simple accompaniments are all you need: boiled new potatoes (in summer) or some roasted squash (in winter) and a dish of shredded cabbage, greens or kale would be ideal.


Rainbow Jam Tarts


These beautiful little tarts just make you smile, epsecially when you use a couple of different fillings, as the colours are gorgeous. I’ve used raspberry jam, and lemon curd.  The recipe for these tarts is from my favourite cookbook (if you’re a regular on my blog, you can probably guess which one!) Jamie Oliver’s Great Britain. The recipe can also be found here, on the Jamie Magazine website. For convience, I’ve copied it below.


For the pastry, put the flour, sugar and butter in a food processor with a pinch of salt and pulse until you have a mixture that looks like breadcrumbs. Crack in the egg, add the zest from your orange or lemon and pulse again, adding a little milk to bring everything together, if needed. Wrap the dough in clingfilm and pop it into the fridge to rest for 30 minutes.


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/   gas 4. Dust a clean surface and a rolling pin with flour and roll out the pastry so it’s 5mm thick. Get yourself a few 12-hole jam-tart trays (or cook the tarts in batches) and a fluted pastry cutter just a little bigger than the holes of the tray (normally around 6cm). Cut out rounds of pastry and gently push them into the wells so they come up the sides. Any leftover pastry can be gently pushed back into a ball and rolled out to make a few more tarts. Put 1 heaped teaspoon of filling into each jam tart, interspersing and alternating the flavours of jams, curds or jellies.

Pop the trays on the middle shelf of the oven and cook for 12–15 minutes, or until the pastry is golden and the filling is thick and bubbling. Remove from the oven, leave in the tray to firm slightly, then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool for a few minutes before serving.
PS I know this might sound a bit girly, but if you can track down a lovely old tart tin from an antique shop, then serve these straight out of the tin – it looks really good, as the old tins are really cute. See, I told you it was girly!