Lemcake…a perfect antidote for cold and flu misery.

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This a lemon drizzle cake with a twist. I have added chopped Chinese stem ginger to give an extra zing to this cake, along with the zest and juice of two whole lemons. The smell of this cake cooking is almost tonic enough. Lemon and ginger, are rich in antioxidant, antiseptic and antiviral properties, so let the ‘Lemcake’ take you into a little bit of healing heaven, enjoy!

What you will need

2lb loaf tin lined with parchment paper

8ozs soft butter( you could use clover if preferred, but whatever you use it needs to be really soft and at room temperature)
8ozs caster sugar
4 eggs
8ozs S.R flour
2 tsp baking powder
Zest of 2 lemons
2 pieces of Chinese stem ginger, chopped

For the topping
2 tbsp granulated sugar
2 tbsp stem ginger syrup ( the syrup, that the ginger is preserved in) you could use some honey instead.
Juice of 2 lemons

How to make your cake

1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ fan 160/ 325f /gas mark 4.

2. Beat together the eggs, flour, caster sugar, butter, baking powder, lemon zest and chopped stem ginger until smooth in a large mixing bowl and turn into the prepared tin.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35-45mins, or until golden brown, shrinking away from the sides of the tin and springy to the touch.

4.While the cake is still warm,prick all over with a skewer or cocktail stick. Mix together the sugar, syrup and lemon juice, and pour over the warm cake. Allow to cool.

You can slice this up when cool and cling wrap individual pieces. Place in a sealed plastic bag and freeze. Perfect for days when only Lemcake will do.

Hot mustard spiced beef

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A delicious spicy beef casserole, perfect to warm you up in the winter months. Serve with cheese topped dauphinois potatoes and peas.

Serves six

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil
900g (2 lbs) chuck steak, cut into 2 cm (3/4″) cubes
2 large onions, chopped
100 g (3 1/2 oz) of button mushrooms, cut into quarters
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
2 teaspoons medium curry powder
1 tablespoon Muscovado sugar
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
25 g (scant 1 oz) plain flour
600 ml (1 pint) beef stock or two beef stock cubes dissolved in 600 ml (1 pint) water
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
450 g (1lb) Chantenay carrots
Freshly chopped parsley, to garnish (optional)

How to make your hot mustard spiced beef

1. Preheat the oven 160°c/ 140°C fan/325°F/gas 3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick frying pan or casserole, at the cubes of meat, and fry quickly until golden brown all over. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. You may need to do this in batches.

2. At the onions and mushrooms to the pan and fry over a high heat, staring occasionally for 3 minutes or until starting to soften.

3. Put mustard, curry powder, sugar, worcestershire sauce and flour into a bowl and add 75 ml
(2 1/2 fl oz) of the stock. Whisk by hand until smooth.

4. Add the remaining stock to the pan and bring to the boil. Spoon about half the hot stock into the mustard mixture and whisk by hand to give a smooth paste. Pour the mixture back into the pan, whisking over a high heat until thickened.

5. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, then return the meat to the pan. Bring to the boil, cover with a lid, and transfer to the oven for 2-2 1/2hrs Or until the meat is tender.

6. While the meat is cooking, cook the carrots in boiling salted water for a few minutes or until just tender. Drain and refresh in cold water.

7. To serve, bring the casserole to the boil on hob. Add the carrots, check the seasoning, and boil for a few minutes or until the carrots are hot. Sprinkle with parsley, is using, and serve.

The dish can be made up to the end of step 5 up to 2 days ahead. Freeze without the carrots for up to 2 months.

Cheese – topped Dauphinois Potatoes

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This is the potato dish I made to go with the Hot mustard Spiced Beef. Best to make this a day ahead. Serves six.

Serves six

What you will need

18cm (7in) square shallow metal tin lined with non-stick paper and greased

750grams (1lb 10oz) large King Edward potatoes of other floury potatoes
150ml (5fl oz) chicken stock or vegetable stock
100ml (3 1/2 fl oz) double cream
Salt and freshly ground pepper
Knob of butter
25g (scant1oz) mature cheddar cheese

How to make your potato dish

1. Preheat the oven to 220c/200c fan/425f/Gas7.

2. Peel the potatoes and rinse under cold water, then dry and slice thinly. Put the stock into a large jug and mix with the cream.

3. Arrange a layer of potato over the base of the tin, season with salt and freshly ground pepper, then pour over a little of the stock mixture. Continue in the same way until the potato and the liquid are used up. Dot the butter over the top and cover tightly with foil.

3. Bake for 30 minutes or until soft around the edges but still firm in the middle. Remove the foil and cook for a further 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and tender. Leave to cool then chill -overnight is best.

4. Choose a lipped board or tray that’s bigger than the roasting tin (so it will catch any juices)and place on the worktop. Carefully tip the roasting tin upside down onto it and remove the paper. Cut the potatoes into even-sized servings, arrange on a greased paper-lined baking sheet, and sprinkle the cheese on top.

5. Reheat in an oven preheated to 200°C /190°c/400 F/gas 6 for 20 to 30 minutes or until golden and piping hot.

This dish can be made up to the end of step 3 up to a day ahead or up to the end of stage 4 up to 8 hrs ahead. Freeze for up to 2 months.

Feel-good Muffins

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What you will need

170g (6ozs) self raising Flour (or same amount in wholemeal flour but add 2tsp baking powder).
50g (2ozs) porridge oats
140g (5ozs) light muscovado sugar or just light brown sugar ( I reduced this amount a little as I didn’t want them too sweet)
2tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp of bicarbonate of soda
1 egg beaten
150ml (1/4 pint) buttermilk
1tsp vanilla extract
6 tablespoons of sunflower oil ( I used olive oil)
175g (6ozs) stoned prunes, chopped
85g (3ozs)of pecans

How to make the muffins

1. Preheat the oven to 200c/180c fan/ gas 6/ 350f.

2. Line the muffin tins with paper cases.

3. Place the flour, oats, sugar, cinnamon and bicarbonate of soda in a large bowl, then rub everything through your fingers as if making pastry. Ensure the mix is well blended.

4. Beat the egg, then stir in the buttermilk, vanilla and oil, lightly stir in the egg mixture into the dried ingredients.

5. Fold the prunes and nuts into the mixture.

6. Divide the mix between the paper cases and sprinkle with a few oats. Bake for 20-25 minutes until risen and golden.

Serve warm or cold. Remember you can freeze and serve warm for a delicious weekend breakfast. ( that’s what I shall be doing when I have to go to work on a Saturday).

Penne alla parmigiana (aka macaroni cheese)

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Maisie and I made this for our supper the other night it was so delicious. I have to admit I am not a huge fan of macaroni cheese, mainly because I sometimes find it a bit stodgy. This recipe is light and using the two different cheeses adds a more complex flavour which we both agreed made it much tastier. I think next time we make it we will sprinkle some breadcrumbs along with the cheese for the topping. Anyway, have ago and see what you think.

What you will need

1.5 litre (2 and 3/4) pint shallow dish (serves six)

350grams (12ozs) penne pasta
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) butter
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) plain flour
1.2 litres (2pints) hot milk
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
50grams (1 1/2 ozs) butter
100g (3 1/2 ozs) strong cheddar cheese, grated
100g (3 1/2 ozs) Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
6 tomatoes halved, deseeded and roughly chopped

1. Preheat the Oven to 200c, 180c fan, 400f or gas mark 6

2. Cook the penne pasta as per instructions on packet. Drain and refresh in cold water.

3. Melt the butter in a large pan, add the flour, and stir over the heat for one minute. Gradually add the milk, whisking all the time, until the sauce is smooth and thick. Take off the heat.

4. Add the mustard and two thirds of the Cheddar and Parmesan, then add the penne and some salt and freshly ground pepper.

5. Spoon into the ovenproof dish, arrange the tomatoes on top, and sprinkle over the remaining cheese.

6. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and crispy.

From Mary berry and Lucy young cook book.

Pea And Mint Soup

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What I absolutely love about this recipe is the fact that most of us have some frozen peas in the freezer and mint in the garden, so you will just about always have the ingredients to make some homemade soup. If you are lucky enough to be basking in sunshine then serve this soup cold with a dash of lemon juice, equally delicious.

You will need

2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 medium onions
2 gloves of garlic
Olive oil
2 chicken of vegetable stock cubes
800g (1lb 12 ozs) of frozen peas
A small bunch of fresh mint
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
Optional 300g (10ozs) cooked ham

How to make your soup

1. Peel and roughly slice the carrots.
2. Slice the celery.
3. Pell and roughly chop the onions.
4. Peel and slice the garlic.
5. Put a large pan on a medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients to the pan and mix together with a wooden spoon.
6.cook for about 10 minutes with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape, and the onion is lightly golden.
7.Put the stock cubes into a jug and pour in 1.8 litres (3pints) of boiling water from the kettle.
8. Stir until the stock cubes have dissolved and then pour into the vegetables.
9. Add the peas. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Once boiling allow to simmer for 10 minutes. Meanwhile pick your mint leaves.
10. When the peas have softened, remove the pan from the heat. Season with salt and pepper and add the mint leaves..
11. Using a hand blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth.
12. If using ham chop it up and stir it in.

Really lovely served toasted ciabatta drizzled with olive oil or some warm garlic bread. Don’t forget you can freeze this soup in portions ready for all those winter lunches where you need some warmth in your belly.

Originates from Jamie Oliver’s Ministry of food cook book.

Sweet Potato and Chorizo Soup

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What you will need

2 carrots
2 sticks of celery
2 medium onions
2 cloves of garlic
800g (28ozs) sweet potato
200g (7ozs) chorizo sausage
A small bunch of fresh parsley
Olive oil
1 heaped tsp curry powder
2 chicken or vegetable stock cubes
Sea salt
Freshly ground pepper
1 fresh red chilli

How to make your soup

1. Peel and roughly slice the carrots.
2. Slice the celery.
3. Peel and slice the garlic.
4. Peel and chop the sweet potatoes.
5. Slice the chorizo.
6. Finally chop the parsley leaves and stalks.
7. Place a pan on a high heat and add 2 tblsp s of olive oil.
8. Add all your chopped and sliced ingredients with the curry powder and mix together with a wooden spoon. Cook for around 10 mins with the lid askew, until the carrots have softened but are still holding their shape and the onion is lightly golden.
9. Put the stock cubes into a a jug or pan and pour in 1.8 litres (3pints) of boiling water from the kettle. Stir until the stock cubes are dissolved, then add to the vegetables.
10. Give the soup a good stir and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sweet potato is cooked through.
11. Season with salt and pepper. Then using a stick blender or liquidizer, pulse the soup until smooth. Serve with a scattering of chopped chilli and parsley if desired.
12. This makes quite a big batch, I freeze portions in small freezer bags and then use for my lunches during the week. Delicious with oatcakes.

Originates from Jamie Oliver’s ministry of food cook book.

Leek and Cheese Flan

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This is a wonderful winter savoury flan that can be eaten hot or cold. The wholemeal, nutty texture of the pastry makes for a really wholesome and tasty meal. Enjoy.

YOU WILL NEED

Wholemeal shortcrust pastry

6ozs wholemeal flour, 3ozs butter, 3ozs white fat (trex, cookeen of white flora) cold water. Make as you would short crust. Wrap in cling film and leave to rest in fridge for 30 minutes.

For the filling
2 large leeks
Knob of butter
Cayenne, large pinch
Ground Nutmeg, large pinch
3 eggs
Milk 3fl.oz (75ml)
Soured cream or crème fràiche 3fl.oz (75ml)
Salt, large pinch
Cheddar cheese, grated 6oz (175g)

Preheat the oven to 200c, fan assisted 180c, 400f or gas mark 6.

1. Roll out the pastry on a lightly floured work surface and line a 9inch (23cm) metal flan tin.
2. Slice the leeks and clean them thoroughly.
3. Melt the butter and sauté the leeks until just tender. Be careful not to brown them.take off the heat.
4. Season the leeks generously with cayenne and nutmeg. Grate in the cheese, leaving a little aside for the top.
5. In a bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, soured cream and salt together.
6. Add the cheese and leek mixture to the egg mixture and stir well.
7. Pour into the flan case.
8. Top with the remaining grated cheese and bake in the oven for about half an hour until well risen and golden.

Serve warm or cold.