Blueberry pancakes

I have to thank my cousin Laura and her husband for the inspiration for these.  They made them for us on a recent family get together and they’re just the best pancakes ever.

The blueberries add a sweetness and juiciness which takes them to another level.  Add a couple of rashers of crispy bacon and a generous drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast nirvana.  Very popular with two year olds!

Blueberry pancakes

Makes 12 or so

Dry ingredients

150g / 6oz plain flour
40g / 1.5 oz vanilla sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt

Wet ingredients

1/2 pint buttermilk
50g / 2oz melted butter
1 egg

and…

a small punnet of blueberries

1. Mix the wet and the dry ingredients in separate bowls.

2. Pour half of the dry ingredients into the wet and mix well.  Then stir the remaining dry ingredients in.

3. Heat a pan to medium heat and dollop on a couple of spoonfuls of mixture.

4. Add three or four blueberries to the top of each pancake.

5. Turn when browned and bubbles appear, which should take around 90 seconds.  In another 90 seconds or so they will be perfectly cooked.

6. Serve with butter, maple syrup and crispy rashers of bacon (plus sausages and a poached egg according to Him Indoors.)

Chocolate chip buns

I know these are so easy you barely even need a recipe, but if you’re into speedy baking these take 15 minutes to make and another 15 to cook (5 to scoff the lot.)

Great to make with kids too.  So straightforward you might even get them in the oven before they get bored and run off to dismantle the television.

Chocolate chip buns

Makes 12

100g / 4oz self-raising flour
100g / 4oz butter
100g / 4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, beaten
large handful of chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 5.
2. Cream butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl.
3. Add the eggs a little at a time and mix in.
4. Fold in the flour and mix thoroughly.
5. Stir in the chocolate chips.
6. Spoon into bun cases and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown and springy.

Scones

You just can’t beat a scone with raspberry jam and clotted cream.  This is my Mum’s recipe, you can find a recipe for the raspberry jam here.  I dare say you can probably make your own clotted cream too if you’re really keen, but I’m afraid I haven’t ventured into anything that advanced… yet.

Scones

Makes 8 large or 16 small

250g / 10oz plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
50g / 2oz unsalted butter
2 tbsp caster sugar, plus a little for dusting
100ml milk, plus a little for glazing

1. Preheat oven to 220°C / 428°F / Gas 7.
2. Put flour and baking powder in a bowl.  
3. Cut the butter into small cubes and rub in. 
4. Stir in the sugar.  
5. Mix in the milk until the mixture comes together to form a nice dough. 
6. Knead a little then roughly pat down until about an inch high all over. 
7. Cut out scones, reforming the dough until it is all used up. 
8. Place scones on a greased tin, glaze with milk and sprinkle with sugar. 
9. Place in the oven for 12-15 minutes. 
10. Smother with clotted cream and jam and scoff with a nice cup of tea.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

This may not be the ultimate brownie recipe, but it is really easy, and the low oven temperature and long cooking time result in a beautifully crunchy on the outside, gooey on the inside cake which is just brilliant.

Easiest ever chocolate brownies

makes 12-16

200g / 7oz caster sugar
2 eggs
110g / 4oz unsalted butter
3 tbsp cocoa powder
90g / 3oz plain flour
1 tsp baking powder

Preheat oven to 150°C / 300°F / Gas 2.  Beat eggs and sugar together.  Melt butter in a small pan and add the cocoa powder.  Pour into the egg mixture and stir to combine.  Sift in flour and baking powder and mix.

Pour into a 15 x 25cm (6 x 10 inch) tin, lined with greaseproof paper and bake for 45 minutes.  Turn out onto a cooling rack, remove paper and chop into pieces.

Mango chutney

Lovely, fruity chutney, great with chicken, cheese and of course curry!  This is another slow cooker recipe.

Mango chutney

Makes 3 jars

3 firm mangos
120ml / 4 fluid oz cider vinegar
200g / 7oz light muscavado sugar
1 small red finger chilli, split
small piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
5 cardomom pods, bruised
1 bay leaf
pinch salt

Peel the mangos and cut the flesh into small chunks.  Put into the cooking pot and add the cider.  Turn the slow cooker up to high and cook for 2 hours, stirring half way through.

Stir in the sugar, chilli, ginger, garlic, bruised cardamoms, bay leaf and salt into the mixture until the sugar has completely dissolved.  Cover and cook for 2 hours, then uncover and let the mixture cook for another hour, or until the chutney has reduced to a thick consistency and no excess liquid remains.  Stir every 15 minutes for the last hour.

Discard the bay leaf and chilli.  Spoon into hot, sterilised jars and seal.  Store for a week before eating and use within a year.

Biscotti

An easy version of the classic Italian biscuit adapted from a recipe by the brilliant Maida Heatter.

Biscotti

Makes 30 slices

75g / 3oz whole almonds
100g / 4oz plain flour
1/4 tsp bicarb
1/4 tsp baking powder
50g / 2oz granulated sugar
100g / 4oz chocolate chunks
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tbsp whisky

Toast the almonds in a single layer in a 180°C / 350°F / Gas 3 until they are lightly coloured and have a lovely smell of toasted almonds when you open the oven door.  Set aside to cool and turn the oven up to 190°C / 375°F / Gas 4.

Line a flat baking sheet with baking parchment.  Sift together the flour, baking powder, bicarb and sugar and stir to mix.  Put an ounce or so of these dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor with around an ounce or so of the toasted almonds.  Process for 30 seconds or so until powdery.

Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and add the rest of the almonds and chocolate chunks and stir to mix.

In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the vanilla extract and whisky.  Add this mixture to the dry ingredients and stir until it all hangs together in a slightly sticky ball.

Turn out onto a plastic sheet or some other surface where you will be able to add water.  Wet your hands and shape into a ball.  Cut into quarters with a sharp knife, and then shape each part into a long, flat sausage, about 9 inches by 2 inches and about 1 inch high.  The ends of each sausage shape should be rounded.

Place the four biscuits onto your baking tray and bake for 25 minutes, turning half way through to make sure they cook evenly.

Remove the sheets from the oven and slide off the trays onto a wire rack to cool.  Make sure the biscuits are completely cold by puttting in the fridge for a few minutes when they have cooled for a while on the rack.  When you are sure there is no sticky chocolate left inside, transfer onto a cutting board and slice up with a bread knife at a sharp angle.

Lemon cordial

A really easy recipe, more suited for Spring or Summer drinking really but very refreshing served over ice cold sparkling water.

Lemon cordial

Makes 1.2 litres

3 large unwaxed lemons
350g / 12oz caster sugar
1 litre water

Wash the lemons, then thinly pare off the rind with a vegetable peeler, being careful not to pare off too much of the bitter pith.  Put the rind in the cooking pot of a slow cooker with the sugar and water.  Cover and switch the cooker to high.

Heat for 3o minutes, then stir until the sugar has dissolved.  Cook for a further hour and a half, then leave to cool.

Halve the lemons and squeeze out the juice.  Stir into the syrup, then strain through a sieve and pour into sterilized bottles.  Store in the fridge for up to 10 days.  Serve over ice and dilute to taste (4 parts water to 1 part cordial is about right) with still or sparkling water.