March 28, 2009

Phoebe's Fabulous Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Oatmeal Raisin Cookies


This recipe is from the Friend's Cookbook and they're soft and chewy but slightly crunchy too. I didn't have any raisins so I used sultanas and some chopped dates instead.
  • Makes about 30 cookies
  • Oven Temperature: Gas Mark 5/375°F/190°C
  • Cooking time: 12-15 minutes
  • You will need: baking tray lined with greaseproof paper (I used a silicone mat on a baking tray which worked brilliantly as the cookies don't stick). 

  • 12 Tablespoons (175g/6oz) unsalted butter, softened (I used Stork spread for cakes)
  • 3/4 cup (160g/5.5oz) firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 2/3 cup (130g/4.5oz) white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (170g/6oz) rolled oats
  • 1 ¼ cups (160g/5.5oz) plain flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 ½ cups (200g/7 oz) raisins/sultanas 

  1. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
  2. Add the egg and vanilla, beat well until combined.
  3. In a separate bowl combine the oats, flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Stir into the butter mixture until just combined.
  4. Stir in the raisin/sultanas.
  5. Drop the dough by heaped tablespoons onto the baking sheet, leaving a 2" inch between them. I found this easiest by using 2 tablespoons to create balls as the dough is quite stiff and sticky.
  6. Bake for 12-15 minutes on a shelf near the top of the oven until the cookies are golden brown.
  7. Cool on the baking sheet for at least 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.

Below are the same cookies made with dried cranberries instead of raisins. This time I formed walnut shaped balls out of the dough and slightly flattened them when they were on the baking tray. The cookies spread out less and were thicker, giving them a more squidgy texture inside, but were still crunchy on the outside.
Cranberry Oatmeal cookies

March 25, 2009

Tefal 4-in-1 Rice Cooking

I wrote to Tefal because I was sure that there was a mistake in the instruction booklet that came with the cooker.
Under the Rice Cooking section there are two tables to show cooking times for different types of rice. I was really confused by the two different columns (highlighted in red) as the cooking times for 10 cups is less than the cooking times for 5 cups.

Tefal small

So I sent these tables to Tefal and they kept saying:
“There are two different tables for cooking times for different types of rice: the first table is for easy cook or white rices that have the outer husk polished off and are more processed; the second table is for rices that have more of the natural outer husk, are less processed and will require longer cooking times”.

Unfortunately they didn’t understand the point I was trying to make about the highlighted columns, but they sent me a photocopy of the instructions for the cooker and they were different to what came with my cooker. These new instructions don’t have the two different columns for 10 and 5 cups, so obviously this was a printing error in my copy! So you should just use the cooking times in the column on the left (and totally ignore the ‘for 10 cups’ part of the column heading).

The good thing about the Rice Cooking function of the Tefal 4-in-1 is it works out the cooking time depending on the amount of rice and water you put in it. However, it’s nice to know how long it takes and when it will be ready, as it doesn’t tell you on the machine, so these tables for cooking times are useful.
If you received the wrong instructions too then hopefully this clarifies them for you!

Chelsea Buns

Chelsea Buns


Steve loves Chelsea Buns and they’re his top choice when his Mum goes to the bakery, so I thought I’d try and make them. This is the first time I’ve ever used yeast and made a dough, so I was a bit apprehensive about the results.

The first batch of dough I made went in the bin as I forgot to add the butter, but I only realised after I’d kneaded the dough for 10 minutes and kept wondering why the dough didn’t look or feel right. Kneading dough is pretty tiring, but I persevered and made another batch which looked smooth and felt elastic.

The recipe I used was by Allinson from, but I tweaked it slightly as I didn’t use any mixed dried fruit as Steve doesn’t really like it and I added cinnamon in the ‘filling’ as the Chelsea Buns we’ve eaten always have that.

I’m not sure I’d use this recipe again as the tops of the buns were quite crusty and hard and the buns were really small, so they weren’t really soft and squidgy, which is the texture we were hoping for. Next time I’d make the buns bigger and bake on the middle shelf instead of near the top.
I’m definitely excited about using yeast more in the future and I’m going to try making hot cross buns for Easter! Plus kneading dough is really good exercise!
  • Makes: 12
  • You will need: 7inch square tin, greased
  • Prep time: 30 mins plus 1 hour proving time
  • Baking time: 30 mins 

  • 250g / 9oz Strong White Bread Flour
  • 5ml / 1 tsp salt
  • 5ml / 1 tsp Unrefined Golden Caster sugar
  • 5 ml / 1 tsp Allinson Easy Bake Yeast (I used 1 sachet of Tesco Fast Action Dried Yeast)
  • 25g / 1 oz butter, diced
  • 100-120ml / 3-4 fl oz warmed milk (45 seconds in the microwave)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 50g / 2oz Unrefined Light Muscovado sugar
  • 15g/ ½ oz butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Runny honey to glaze
  • Golden Caster sugar to sprinkle

  1. Grease an 18cm / 7 inch square shallow cake tin. Sift the flour, salt, sugar and yeast into a large bowl. Rub in 25g / 1oz butter.
  2. In a bowl, mix together the milk and egg. Make a well in the centre of the flour mixture and stir in the liquid. Bring the mixture together with a round bladed knife and knead for 10 minutes on a lightly floured surface until the dough is smooth and elastic. If the mixture is sticky add a little more flour.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll out to a 30 x 23 cm/ 12 x 9 inch rectangle.
  4. Prepare the filling: Mix the soft light brown sugar with the cinnamon. Melt the remaining butter and brush over the surface of the dough. Scatter the cinnamon sugar evenly over the dough.
  5. Starting at the long side of the dough, roll it up like a Swiss roll. Pinch the edges together to seal and then cut into 12 slices (or less slices for bigger but fewer buns).
  6. Place the rolls cut edges uppermost in the tin. Cover with oiled cling film and leave to rise in a warm place for 1 hour or until doubled in size. (they will be separated at first, but once they have doubled in size they will be touching each other).
  7. Pre heat the oven to 190ºC/ 375ºF/ Gas Mark 5. Bake for 30 minutes (on the middle shelf) or until risen and golden.
  8. Remove from the oven and brush with honey and sprinkle with Golden Caster sugar whilst they are still hot. Then cool on a wire rack. 

You might also be interested in this other Chelsea Bun recipe.

March 22, 2009

Chococcino Cake

Chococinno Cake Slice


This recipe is from BBC Good Food and I made this for Mother’s Day and it went down very well! The chocolate sponge is lovely and moist and the coffee topping and filling is very creamy with just the right amount of coffee flavour. I only made half the amount of filling/icing (as 2 tubs of mascarpone seemed like far too much!) and it was plenty. This is definitely one of my favourite cakes.

Ingredients for the sponge:
  • 200g soft, butter, plus extra for greasing (I used Stork)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 85g good-quality cocoa powder (I used Bournville)
  • 140g self-raising flour
  • 200g golden caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 tbsp milk 

  1. Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/Gas 4.
  2. Grease and base-line 2 x 20cm non-stick round sandwich tins with baking parchment, then lightly grease the parchment.
  3. Sift the flour, cocoa and baking powder into a large bowl, and then tip in all the other sponge ingredients.
  4. Using an electric whisk beat everything together until smooth (I just put everything into a food processor and mixed until smooth).
  5. Divide the mix between the cake tins, then bake for 20-25 mins until cooked and golden.
  6. When cool enough to handle, remove the cakes from the tins, then leave to cool completely on a rack. 

Ingredients for the filling and icing:
  • 2 x 250g tubs mascarpone
  • 85g golden caster sugar
  • 4 tbsp very strong coffee dissolved in 4tbsp of water
  • 50g dark chocolate, for grating 

Directions for the icing:
  1. Beat the mascarpone and sugar together, then beat in the coffee.
  2. Use half the mix to sandwich the cakes and spread the other half over the top, swirling with the back of a spoon to make pointy curls.
  3. Finely grate the chocolate over the top, then serve. 

Half the icing:
  • 1 x 250g tub mascarpone
  • 40g golden caster sugar
  • 2 tbsp very strong coffee dissolved in 2tbsp of water
  • 25g dark chocolate, for grating
Chococinno Cake Whole

I made the cakes a day in advance and wrapped them in foil, so they stayed nice and moist. I iced them the next day and kept any leftover cake covered in the fridge as I didn’t want the mascarpone icing to spoil.

March 21, 2009

Chinese Spare Ribs

Spare ribs


I slow cooked these spare ribs in my Tefal 4-in-1 for about 6 hours and then finished them in the oven to make them slightly charred for an improved flavour and appearance. They were wonderfully tender and the meat just fell off the bone!

For the marinade I used the same recipe that I use for Hoi-Sin Pork.
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Marinade time: a few hours or ideally overnight
  • Cooking time: slow cook 4-6 hours then 20 mins in oven 

  • 2 packs pork spare ribs (about 12 ribs)
  • 3 tbsp hoi-sin sauce
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 1 tbsp (dark) soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • ½ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons honey 

  1. Put the pork ribs in a plastic zip-lock freezer bag and then add all the marinade ingredients. Seal the bag and massage the meat so that it is fully and evenly coated. Alternatively, put the pork ribs and marinade ingredients into a large flat dish and cover with cling film. Leave them in the fridge for a few hours or ideally overnight.
  2. Put the pork ribs and the marinade into the slow cooker and cook (on low) for 4-6 hours until the meat is tender.
  3. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 4/350°F/180°C. Put the ribs into a baking tray and pour over about a third of the marinade from the slow cooker. Drizzle over 1 to 2 tablespoons of honey and roast in the oven for about 20 minutes.
  4. Meanwhile put the rest of the marinade into a small saucepan and boil until it is thick and syrupy. Strain the marinade into a small serving bowl and then serve with the ribs as a dipping sauce.

Slow cooked Lamb Korma Curry

Lamb Korma



I’ve been using my Tefal 4-in-1 to slow cook quite a few dishes and so far they’ve all been successful! For this lamb korma I used 1 packet of frozen casserole lamb which comes cut in 1 inch cubes and it’s really handy as you can cook from frozen.


I’d read that some people worry about using milk or coconut milk in their slow cookers, as they worry it will boil over. I didn’t have any problems using coconut milk in this recipe, but it’s probably because the Tefal 4-in-1 has such a large, deep bowl.


I used the Tefal 4-in-1 to cook my rice as well, so I had to transfer the curry to a pan, but this allowed me to thicken the sauce and finish cooking the potatoes.


Steve and I managed to eat all of this between us (because we’re extremely greedy, but we did feel ill afterwards!), but the amount of sauce would serve 4 people and you can double up the amount of lamb and potatoes for healthy appetites.

  • Tefal 4-in-1 Slow Cook: 6 hours
  • Tefal 4-in-1 Rice Cook: 20 minutes



  • 500g/1lb casserole lamb, cubed
  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 4 tablespoons (about ½ jar) korma paste (I used Pataks)
  • 1 400ml can coconut milk
  • 8 small potatoes (about the size of plums), peeled



  1. In a large pan brown the lamb in a little bit of oil – you will probably need to do this in batches. Once brown put the lamb into the slow cooker (at this stage I switch my slow cooker on to warm it up and set it for 5 hours).
  2. Add the onion to the pan and sauté until golden brown, then put the onion into the slow cooker.
  3. Put the korma paste into the pan and gently fry for about 1 minute until the paste smells fragrant. Add the coconut milk and stir it into the paste until you get a nice smooth sauce. Bring it to the boil and then pour it into the slow cooker. Stir the sauce into the lamb and onions so that they are evenly coated.
  4. Close the lid and check you have the slow cooker set for 5 hours cooking time.
  5. Once 5 hours have passed, add the potatoes and cook for another 1 hour.
  6. After 6 hours cooking, the lamb should be soft and tender. Transfer the curry to a large pan, cover and simmer for 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Then remove the lid and simmer for another 10 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
  7. Meanwhile cook the rice, which should take about 20 minutes.

March 18, 2009

Gingerbread Men (or Bears!)

Gingerbread bearsMUNCH RATING: 4/5

These are really quick and easy to make, so they’re ideal to knock up a batch for afternoon tea!

The combination of cinnamon and ginger gives a mildly spicy flavour. I rolled mine quite thinly so they’re nice and crunchy, but if you like softer gingerbread then roll it a bit thicker.

How many you can make will depend on what shape/size cutter you use. I managed to make 10 using quite a large bear shaped cutter.

  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 5/375°F/190°C
  • You will need: baking tray lined with greaseproof/baking paper (I used a silicone mat on top of a baking tray), a small saucepan and a large bowl.
  • 50g/2oz butter
  • 50g/2oz brown sugar
  • 110g/4oz (4 tablespoons) golden syrup
  • 175g/6oz plain flour
  • ½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground ginger
  • raisins/nuts to decorate (optional) 

  1. Put the butter, sugar and golden syrup into a small saucepan and melt over a low heat.
  2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, cinnamon and ginger into a large bowl.
  3. Add the melted ingredients to the flour mixture and mix until a dough had formed (if your mixture is too dry and won’t form a dough then add a little bit more melted butter. It's a good idea to wrap your dough and leave to cool and firm for about 30 minutes).
  4. Dust your work surface with a little flour and roll out the dough until it is between 3mm thick (for crunchy biscuits) and 6mm thick (for softer biscuits).
  5. Cut out biscuits with whatever shape cutter you like and re-roll the dough as necessary. Add your dried fruit or nuts to decorate as desired.
  6. Place the biscuits on your baking tray and bake for 8-10 minutes on Gas mark 5/375°F/190°C until lightly golden brown.
  7. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Making a double batch:
When I made a double batch by simply doubling the quantities, I found that the dough was too sticky and I had to add a lot more flour. So next time I would reduce the butter to 40g/1.5oz and the golden syrup to about 175g/6oz/6 tablespoons.

March 14, 2009

Devonshire Honey Cake

Honey Cake

This is from BBC Good Food and it was really easy to make. It contains quite a lot of honey and some sugar, but it is surprisingly not too sweet.

The original recipe uses a 8 inch round tin, but I used a loaf tin instead. I also didn’t put the honey glaze on the top as I thought there would be enough of a honey flavour in the cake.

This cake has a lovely moist texture inside, with a great crispy crust on the outside. It’s delicious as it is, but I think it would be great for a pudding with some hot custard!
  • Serves: 12
  • Oven temperature: Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C
  • You will need: 8 inch round tin or a loaf tin 

  • 225g/8oz unsalted butter
  • 250g/9oz clear honey, plus about 2 tbsp extra to glaze
  • 100g/4oz dark muscovado sugar (I ran out of dark so used mostly light)
  • 3 large eggs, beaten
  • 300g/10oz self-raising flour 

  1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 3/325°F/170°C. Butter and line a 20cm round loose bottomed cake tin. 
  2. Cut the butter into pieces and drop into a medium pan with the honey and sugar. Melt slowly over a low heat. When the mixture looks quite liquid, increase the heat under the pan and boil for about one minute. Leave to cool for 15-20 minutes, to prevent the eggs cooking when they are mixed in.
  3. Beat the eggs into the melted honey mixture using a wooden spoon. Sift the flour into a large bowl and pour in the egg and honey mixture, beating until you have a smooth, quite runny batter.
  4. Pour the mixture into the tin and bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour (mine took 1 hour 10 minutes in a gas oven) until the cake is well-risen, golden brown and springs back when pressed. A skewer pushed into the centre of the cake should come out clean.
  5. Turn the cake out on a wire rack.
  6. Warm 2 tbsp honey in a small pan and brush over the top of the cake to give a sticky glaze, then leave to cool. Keeps for 4-5 days wrapped, in an airtight tin.

March 8, 2009

Rachel Allen’s Carrot Cake

Rachel Allen Carrot Cake

I saw Rachel Allen make this cake on TV the other week and it looked really easy to make and quite delicious. It was easy to make however the quantities for the icing was far too much and I only needed about one third to cover the whole cake.

I had very mixed reviews on this cake, some people really liked the sultanas and others weren’t too keen, as they said it was too much like fruit cake. I personally thought it was OK, but it definitely tasted better the following day. I’d kept it in the fridge because of the cream cheese and I think it being served slightly chilled made a big difference.

For a totally awesome Carrot Cake recipe check this out!


For the cake:
  • 140ml vegetable oil, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 eggs
  • 200g soft light brown sugar
  • 300g grated carrot, (grated weight)
  • 100g raisins (I used sultanas instead)
  • 75g pecans or walnuts, chopped (optional)
  • 180g self-raising flour
  • 1 pinch salt
  • ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ tsp mixed spice 

For the cream cheese icing:
    • 250g cream cheese, chilled
    • 50g butter, at room temperature
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 275g icing sugar, sifted
    • 1 orange, zest only


    1. Preheat the oven to Gas mark 2/300°F/150°C. Oil and line a 13 x 23cm loaf tin with greaseproof paper.
    2. Beat the eggs in a large bowl, then add the oil, brown sugar, grated carrot, raisins and chopped nuts
    3. Sift in the rest of the dry ingredients and bring the mixture together using a wooden or large metal spoon until well combined.
    4. Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf tin, smooth the surface and bake in the oven for 1 hour 15 minutes, or until until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.
    5. Remove from the oven and allow the cake to cool in the tin for about five minutes before removing. Cool completely on a wire rack before serving. 

    For the icing: beat the cream cheese and butter together in a bowl until well combined. Add the vanilla extract, icing sugar and finely grated orange zest and mix until the icing is smooth and thick. Using a palette knife, spread the icing evenly over the cooled cake, dipping the knife into a bowl of hot water if the icing is hard to spread out. Cut into slices to serve.

    March 3, 2009

    Chinese style braised beef


    This recipe is from BBC Good Food and I cooked it in my Tefal 4-in-1 rice cooker for 6 hours, but I have written the original recipe here.
    The beef was incredibly tender, although we weren’t that keen on the Chinese Five Spice flavour, so would leave it out next time.
    • Serves: 6

    • 3-4 tbsp olive oil
    • 6 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
    • goodthumb-size piece fresh root ginger, peeled and shredded
    • 1 bunch spring onions, sliced
    • 1 red chilli, deseeded and thinly sliced
    • 1½ kg braising beef, cut into large pieces
    • 2 tbsp plain flour, well seasoned
    • 1 tsp Chinese five-spice powder
    • 2 star anise (optional)
    • 2 tsp light muscovado sugar (or use whatever you've got)
    • 3 tbsp Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
    • 3 tbsp dark soy sauce , plus more to serve
    • 500ml beef stock (I used Knorr Touch of Taste vegetable stock)
    • steamed bok choi and steamed basmati rice, to serve 

    1. Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a large, shallow casserole. Fry the garlic, ginger, onions and chilli for 3 mins until soft and fragrant. Tip onto a plate. Toss the beef in the flour, add 1 tbsp more oil to the pan, then brown the meat in batches, adding the final tbsp oil if you need to. It should take about 5 mins to brown each batch properly.
    2. Add the five-spice and star anise (if using) to the pan, tip in the gingery mix, then fry for 1 min until the spices are fragrant. Add the sugar, then the beef and stir until combined. Keep the heat high, then splash in the wine or sherry, scraping up any meaty bits. Heat oven to 150C/fan 130C/gas 2.
    3. Pour in the soy and stock (it won't cover the meat completely), bring to a simmer, then tightly cover, transfer to the oven and cook for 1½-2 hrs, stirring the meat halfway through. The meat should be very soft, and any sinewy bits should have melted away. Season with more soy. This can now be chilled and frozen for up to 1 month.
    4. Nestle the cooked bok choi into the pan, then bring to the table with the basmati rice straight away and tuck in.

    March 2, 2009

    Chicken Tikka Masala

    Chicken Tikka Masala
    This is a dish you will need to prepare in advance as you need to marinate the chicken for at least 8 hours or overnight. This makes the chicken lovely and tender and really flavoursome. I served this with pilaf rice which I cooked in my Tefal 4-in-1 rice cooker, but you can do this in the oven using this pilaf recipe.

    This dish is actually really easy to make, as the sauce is basically a spicy tomato and onion sauce laced with cream or yoghurt.
    • Serves 4

    About 4 – 6 Chicken pieces, cut into 2 inch chunks (I always use thighs but they tend to vary in size, so I allow at least 1 large thigh per person and add a couple extra).

    • 4 cm /1 ½ inches ginger, grated
    • 3 or 4 cloves garlic, crushed
    • 1 teaspoon garam masala*
    • 1 teaspoon curry powder*
    • ½ teaspoon chilli powder*
    • ½ ground cumin*
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • 5 tablespoons natural yoghurt (this is about half of a 150ml pot)
    • ½ onion, chopped (use the other ½ for the pilaf rice)
    • 1 teaspoon curry powder
    • 2 or 3 tinned plum tomatoes or third of a tin of chopped tomatoes
    • 200ml chicken or vegetable stock
    • 5 tablespoons natural yoghurt (this is the other half of the 150ml pot) or double cream for a creamier, less tangy flavour.
    • 1 tablespoon honey (optional) 

    1. Make the Marinade: Put the ginger, garlic, spices, salt and lemon juice into a wide shallow non-metallic dish and mix into a smooth paste, then add the chicken and mix to coat thoroughly. Cover and leave to marinate in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight.
    2. Make the sauce: Fry the onion in a tablespoon of oil until softened and golden brown. (If making pilaf rice then set aside ½ of the onion at this stage). Stir in the curry powder and cook for 2 minutes, adding a splash of water if it starts to catch on the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir over a high heat for a few minutes until they have broken down. Add the chicken stock and simmer uncovered for 10 minutes until the sauce has reduced and thickened. Take off the heat and use a blender to make the sauce smooth. Return to the heat and stir in the yoghurt or double cream and honey.
    3. Cook the chicken: Heat the grill to its highest setting. Arrange the chicken pieces on an oven tray and cook for 5-10 minutes until charred at the edges, then turn the chicken pieces over and cook for a further few minutes until completely cooked through.
    4. Add the cooked chicken to the sauce, along with any juices from the oven tray and give it a good stir. Heat through until piping hot and serve with rice.

    You can adjust the spice mix to your own tastes or whatever you have in the cupboard. The 4 main spices used in curries are: turmeric, cumin, chilli and ground coriander. These were the main spices that were in my curry powder and garam masala and I added extra cumin and chilli as ‘top notes’ to my curry.
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