Yule Log – Nigella Christmas

Aidan made this as pudding for a big family party from Nigella Christmas: Food, Family, Friends, Festivities. He did really well, he’d never made a fatless swiss roll before and the sponge, rolling and icing were all done well (with a little help). He’d had to be patient whisking up the eggs as I only have an electric wand blender/mixer so it took a while. He particularly enjoyed making the butter icing look like bark with a cocktail stick.

It tasted nice, as my husband said a nicer version than a shop yule log but was not the most exciting flavour. I think I’ll try a yule log that includes chestnut puree next time.


  • 6 eggs, separated
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 50g cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 tsps icing sugar to decorate

For the icing

  • 175g dark chocolate broken into pieces
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 225g soft butter
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4
  2. In a large clean bowl whisk the egg whites until thick and peaking, then, still whisking  sprinkle in 50g of the caster sugar and continue whisking until the whites are holding their peaks but not dry
  3. In another bowl whisk the egg yolks and the remaining caster sugar until the mixture is moussy, pale and thick/ Add the vanilla extract, sieve the coca powder over, then fold both in.
  4. Lighten the yolk mixture with a couple of dollops of the egg whites, folding them in robustly. Then add the remaining whites in thirds, folding them in carefully to avoid losing the air.
  5. Line a Swiss roll tin with baking parchment, leaving a generous overhang at the ends and sides and folding the parchment into the corners to help the paper stay anchored.
  6. Pour in the cake mixture and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Let the cake cool a little before turning it out onto another piece of baking parchment.
  7. To make the icing, melt the chocolate (in a heat proof bowl over hot water) and let it cool.
  8. Put the icing sugar into the processor and blitz it to remove lumps then add the butter and process until smooth. Add the cooled melted chocolate and the vanilla extract and pulse together to make a smooth icing.
  9. Sit the flat chocolate cake on a large piece of baking parchment. Trim the edges of the swiss roll. Spread some of the icing thinly over the sponge, going right out to the edges.
  10. Start rolling from the long end facing you taking care to get a tight roll from the beginning and roll up to the other side. Pressing against the parchment rather than the cake makes this easier.
  11. Cut one or both ends at a gentle angle reserving the offcuts and place the swiss roll on the long plate or board. Place the offcuts at an angle to look like a cut off branch or two.
  12. Spread the yule log with the remaining icing covering the cut off ends as well as any branches. create a bark like texture by markign along the length of the log with a cocktail stick.
  13. Dust with icing sugar.


Shortbread has an easy way to remember the ingredients – a ‘1, 2, 3’ rule. One part sugar to two parts butter to three parts flour. For shortbread you really do need to use good quality ingredients. You can use either caster sugar, granulated sugar or brown sugar each changes the taste or texture a little, I prefer granulated sugar for my plain shortbread.

You can use a mix of flour together with ground rice or semolina, (my personal preference is for 1/3 ground rice, 2/3 flour), you can even substitute some ground almonds for flour. If you want chocolate shortbread you can substitute cocoa for some flour (instead of 300g flour, 260g flour and 40g).

You can add a wide variety of flavours:

  • chopped nuts of your choice (pistachio, hazelnuts etc)
  • citrus fruit zest
  • chocolate chips
  • dried fruit
  • crystallised ginger
  • spices
  • lavender
  • rosemary

I’ve given basic quantities below for a a 20cm tin.


  • 100g sugar
  • 200g unsalted butter, cubed
  • 300g flour


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Mix the flour and sugar, either by stirring in a bowl or by giving them a quick blitz in the food processor
  3. Rub in the butter, this is amazingly easy in a food processor! If you are using a food processor blitz until you get just past the breadcrumb stage and it is starting to clump together as a dough.
  4. Press into a greased 20cm loose bottomed tin and score the top into pieces
  5. Bake for about 25mins. If you’re making chocolate shortbread watch it a little more carefully as it burns more easily.
  6. if you can see the scored lines mark them again as soon as the shortbread comes out of the oven, then sprinkle with caster sugar whilst still in the tin.
  7. Leave to cool in the tin before turning out.
  8. Carefully cut along the scored lines with large sharp knife

Bailey’s New York Cheesecake – Waitrose recipe card

I often pick up a Waitrose recipe cards when I shop but I rarely actually make the recipe. This sounded rather nice and since I’ve successfully made some cheesecakes from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible I thought this would be easy. It was easy to make (although chopping white chocolate to put on top was a bit of a faff). I didn’t read the recipe until I started making it so didn’t realise it needed to be made in advance.

 When the cooking time was up the cheesecake was definitely looking cooked so I turned off the oven. The next day when I went to cut the cheesecake it oozed, obviously wasn’t quite cooked enough. It wouldn’t win any points for presentation. Flavour was very nice, Bailey’s in a cheesecake is a winner. I felt the white chocolate flavour was a distraction and you couldn’t tell there was chocolate on top until you tasted it. I’m not sure I’d make this exact recipe again but I would try modifying it as long as I kept the Baileys.


  • 200g Waitrose stem ginger cookies
  • 45g butter melted
  • 600g soft cheese or mascarpone
  • 170 double cream
  • 150g caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp cornflour
  • 5 tbsp Baileys Irish Cream
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 100g Belgian white chocolate, roughly chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
  2. Mix together the crushed cookies and butter stirring until evenly mixed. Tip crumb mixture into a deep 23cm non-stick cake tin pressing the crumbs down firmly with the back of a spoon. Place in fridge for 5minutes.
  3. Place soft cheese, cream, eggs, sugar and cornflour into a large bowl and beat with an electric whisk until smooth. Add the Baileys and whisk briefly until blended.
  4. Pour into the prepared tin and place on a baking tray. Scatter over the chopped white chocolate and cook for 45 minutes until dark golden
  5. Turn off the oven open the door and leave the cheesecake to cool completely.
  6. Chill preferably overnight until ready to serve

Farfalle with Savoy Cabbage, Pancetta, Thyme, and Mozzarella – Jamie The Return of the Naked Chefs

Another simple and tasty dish from The Return of the Naked Chef. Jon cooked this as I was late back from client meetings. I’d planned to make it and thought I had all the ingredients but it turned out we were out of pine nuts. That was shame as they would have been good in this. However even without the pine nuts this was very pleasant and we will be making it again. One of our boys even asked if he could have left overs cold in his lunchbox for school tomorrow!


  • 10 strips pancetta or lean bacon, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 good handful thyme, leaves picked from the stem
  • 1/2 large Savoy cabbage (outer leaves removed), quartered, cored, and finely sliced
  • Handful grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 pound dried farfalle
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil 7 ounces fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 1/2-inch dice
  • 2 handfuls pine nuts, lightly toasted


  1. In a pan fry pancetta in a little olive oil until lightly golden. Add garlic and thyme and cook until softened.
  2. Add the Savoy cabbage and Parmesan then stir and put the lid on the pan. Cook for a further 15 minutes, shaking every now and again, while you cook farfalle in salted boiling water until al dente.
  3. When the cabbage is nice and tender, season and loosen with some nice peppery extra-virgin olive oil.
  4. Toss the drained farfalle pasta into the cabbage and at the last minute mix in mozzarella and pine nuts. Serve immediately.

Mincemeat – Delia Christmas

Time to start getting prepared for Christmas! I’ve made Delia’s mincemeat before and it works well. However it doesn’t look the same as the shop bought mincemeat because she melts the suet so it coats the fruit. The reason for doing this is so that the apple doesn’t continue to ferment in the pot.  Remembering how much my boys love mince pies I may not have made enough mincemeat so I might try a more traditional recipe and compare keeping power and flavour. I have a strictly no mince pies before December so this has a little time to mature. It should keep for up to a year sealed.

The picture below shows the mixture before it went into the oven. It took me about an hour to prepare and combine all the ingredients. One of the slow jobs was because I had to blanch the almonds before chopping into slivers. It smelt wonderful as it heated.


  • 1 lb (450 g) unpeeled Bramley apples – cored and chopped
  • 2 unwaxed lemons – zested and juiced
  • 2 oranges – zested and juiced
  • 8 oz (225 g) candied peel – cut into pieces
  • 2 oz (50 g) whole almonds – cut into narrow slivers
  • 12 oz (350 g) raisins
  • 8 oz (225 g) sultanas
  • 8 oz (225 g) currants
  • 12 oz (350 g) soft dark brown sugar
  • 4 level teaspoons ground mixed spice
  • ½ level teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Freshly grated nutmeg
  • 8 oz (225 g) shredded suet – ready-prepared shredded beef suet is perfect for mincemeat, but can be substituted with vegetarian suet.


  1. Combine all the ingredients, except for the brandy, in a large mixing bowl, stirring them and mixing them together very thoroughly indeed.
  2. Cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave the mixture in a cool place overnight or for 12 hours, so the flavours have a chance to mingle and develop.
  3. Pre-heat the oven to gas mark ¼, 225°F (110°C). Cover the bowl loosely with foil and place it in the oven for 3 hours, then remove the bowl from the oven. Don’t worry about the appearance of the mincemeat, which will look positively swimming in fat. This is how it should look.
  4. As it cools, stir it from time to time; the fat will coagulate and, instead of it being in tiny shreds, it will encase all the other ingredients.
  5. When the mincemeat is quite cold, stir well again, adding the brandy.
  6. Pack in jars that have been sterilised (see below). When filled, cover with waxed discs and seal. The mincemeat will keep for up to a year in a cool, dark cupboard

NOTE: To sterilise jars, wash the jars and lids in warm soapy water, rinse well, then dry thoroughly with a clean tea cloth, place them on a baking tray and pop into a medium oven, gas mark 4, 350°F, 180°C, for 5 minutes.

Tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream – Jamie Oliver the return of the naked chef


We found some squid and scallops at the bottom of the freezer so Tagliatelle with saffron, seafood and cream from The Return of the Naked Chef was the obvious dish to make. This was amazingly quick to cook and very nice. Also very adaptable, we used chilli oil to add a slight kick but it was very subtle, you could add finely chopped shallots, chopped chillis, use sherry instead of wine and vary the seafood mix. I used squid, scallops and prawns. Mussels would be great but I couldn’t buy any today.

I served with Samphire sauted in butter


  • A good pinch saffron
  • 1 glass white wine
  • Olive oil
  • 1 large clove of garlic finely chopped
  • 500g fresh tagliatelle
  • 700g mixed seafood
  • 1/2 pint double cream
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • A bunch flat parsley, chopped


  1. Soak the saffron in the white wine.
  2. Add a little oil and the garlic to a frying pan, and cook until softened.
  3. Add the seafood, shake the pan around, and add the white wine and saffron mixture.
  4. Bring to a boil and cook until the shellfish opens, discard any shellfish that remain closed.
  5. Then, lay the rest of the seafood, parsley, and the cream on top.
  6. Simmer for 3 to 4 minutes and season to taste.
  7. Cook the tagliatelle in salted, boiling water until al dente. Drain and add to the fish, serve scattered with some of the leftover parsley and an extra drizzle of olive oil.

Stem Gingernuts – The Great British Book of Baking

These are the best ginger biscuits I’ve every tasted! my boys agree with me. The relative quantities of ingredients with other ginger biscuit recipes is not major but it obviously is significant. The size of walnuts used in the The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pastiesis rather larger than in Mary Berry’s books as well. This recipe made 24 large biscuits. The biscuits were slightly cookie like with a bend rather than a snap. I will be baking these again soon. I’ve used all my stem ginger but I have a jar of crystallised ginger in the cupboard to use up. They stack well and look pretty in cellophane bags with ribbon so would make good presents.


  • 350g self raising flour (or 350g plain & 3 tsps baking powder)
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp bicarb of soda
  • 200g caster sugar
  • 115g unsalted butter
  • 85g golden syrup
  • 1 free range egg
  • 35g (2 pieces) stem ginger drained and finely chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 170C/325F/Gas 3
  2. Grease 3 baking trays
  3. Gently melt butter and golden syrup in a pan over a low heat and set aside until barely warm.
  4. Sift flour, ground ginger, bicarb of soda and sugar in a large mixing bowl
  5. Pour cooled and syrup mix, beaten egg and chopped ginger into the bowl with the flour mix and mix with a wooden spoon and combine thoroughly.
  6. Roll mixture into 24 (large) walnut sized balls and place on prepared baking trays well apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes until a good golden brown.
  8. Leave biscuits to cool on trays for a couple of minutes then transfer to a wire rack and leave to cool completely.

Chorizo and Tomato Omelette – Jamies Dinners

I bought Jamie’s Dinners in the hope of adding more variety to my selection of weekday dinners. I didn’t really work as such but I suspect that’s because i just didn’t use the book enough to make any of the recipes a habit. I picked it up today to find something light for supper and the picture of the Chorizo and Tomato Omelette looked appetising. We usually make a 2 person omelette in our pan so I adjusted quantities for 2. Next time I’d chop the tomatoes up a little but otherwise I’d keep things much as they were, you do need to deseed the tomato as it would be too wet if you didn’t. I used dried herbs as I didn’t have fresh. This omelette is delicious and we’ll definitely be making it again.


  • Olive oil
  • 1 small whole Spanish-style chorizo sausage, or other spicy, sliceable sausage, thickly sliced
  • 1 ripe tomato, seeded and sliced
  • 2 small sprigs fresh marjoram or parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped (optional)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1/2 a fresh red chili, seeded and thinly sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 spring onion, thinly sliced


  1. Heat some olive oil in a small nonstick pan. Add the chorizo slices and cook for 1 minute, then add the tomato and herbs.
  2. Whisk the eggs in a small bowl, add the chili, and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Pour into the pan and mix the eggs around a little, then throw in the onion. Cook until eggs are set, lifting up the edges of the omelette to let the uncooked egg flow underneath.

Dukkah – A Middle Eastern Feast Claudia Roden

I’m not long back after 9 days staying with my sister-in-law Rachel in Dubai. This time I managed to get several opportunities to eat middle eastern food (mostly Lebanese) which was great as I love it. The only middle eastern cook book I have is a slim little paperback  A Middle Eastern Feast by Claudia Roden. This is a lovely little book which has an interesting introduction to middle eastern food and how she came to write the book. I’m planning to try quite a few recipes from this book. The main drawbacks of this book are the lack of index and pictures.

I came across Dukkah when I went out shopping one morning with Rachel and we stopped off at a lovely cafe called the Lime Tree for breakfast. I opted for the local breakfast and got fresh Arabic (flat) bread, 2 boiled eggs, 3 Lebnah (soft cheese) balls with different coatings and 2 little dishes, one with olive oil and one with Dukkah. As Claudia explains in her book Dukkah is a loose mix of nuts and spices in a dry crushed but not powdered form usually eaten with bread dipped in olive oil. I have no idea whether you would normally dip hard boiled egg into Dukkah for breakfast but I dipped my egg in as well and it was delicious. I divided Claudia’s recipe by 10 ! as I really don’t think I’d get through the sort of quantities she suggested. My quantities are below.


  • 50g sesame seeds
  • 25g coriander seeds
  • 15g hazelnuts
  • 2 tsps ground cumin
  • pinch salt
  • little ground pepper


  1. Roast or grill the ingredients separately
  2. Pound together until finely crushed but not pulverised
  3. Store in a jar

Sticky Nutty Flapjacks – The Great British Book of Baking

I’ve been away for a weeks holiday and found I really missed cooking. Having baked lots from Mary Berry’s Baking Bible I’m trying to use some of the other baking books I have on my shelf and found a recipe for Sticky nutty flapjacks in The Great British Book of Baking: 120 best-loved recipes from teatime treats to pies and pasties. These flapjacks were delicious! Slightly chewy, sweet but not too sweet. Held together well and the nuts gave a nice contrast of texture and taste. The quantities were perfect for the tin size. I’ll definitely be making these again.


  • 125g unsalted butter
  • 125g light brown muscavado sugar
  • 2 tablespoon of golden syrup
  • 200g porridge oats
  • a good pinch of salt (optional)
  • 75g unsalted mixed nuts (I used hazelnuts, walnuts and pistachios)


  1. Grease and base line 20cm square tin
  2. Heat the oven to 150 C/ 300 F/ Gas 2
  3. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients. Heat gently, stirring from time to time, until the butter has melted
  4. Remove from pan from the heat and stir in the oats and salt (if using). Then stir in the roughly chopped nuts.
  5. Transfer the mixture to the prepared tin and spread it out evenly. Use the back of a spoon to gently press the mixture.
  6. Bake in the heated oven for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes.
  7. Run a round-bladed knife around the inside of the tin to loosen the flapjack, then score into 12 or 16. Leave to cool before cutting the flapjacks.