Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Ever since my step-mum Sue took me for an ice cream soda in the restaurant at Peter Jones in London’s Sloane Square, I’ve been in love with this heavenly combination of fizzy pop (soda), ice cream and syrup. Something simply magical happens when the ice cream hits the fizz and I am instantly transported to seventh heaven. Throw in some of my current favourite ingredient, rose water, and wow – I am in ecstasy.

I have fantasies of one day opening my very own retro soda fountain with mini juke boxes on the counter playing Chantilly Lace and True Love Ways, and this Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda will definitely be featuring on the menu.

It’s every so easy to make. I did use homemade strawberry ice cream (from a Ben & Jerry’s recipe), with gorgeous chunks of juicy strawberries, but of course you can always use shop-bought. But do please make your own strawberry and rose syrup. It takes hardly anytime at all and tastes incredible.

strawberry and rose ice cream soda

Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda

Serves 6

1 litre bottle lemonade, chilled

For the strawberry ice cream

250g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
330g caster sugar
Juice of half a lemon
2 large eggs
480ml double cream
240ml milk

Mix together the chopped strawberries, 100g of the caster sugar and lemon juice in a bowl. Cover and refrigerate for an hour.

Whisk the eggs in a large bowl until light and fluffy. Whisk in the remaining 230g of sugar, a little at a time, then continue whisking until completely blended. Pour in the cream and milk and whisk until thoroughly combined.

Take the strawberries from the fridge and mash to create a chunky puree. Stir this into the egg/cream mixture.

Transfer the mixture to an ice cream maker and freeze following the manufacturer’s instructions. Alternatively, transfer to a plastic container and place in the freezer for around four hours, remembering to give it a good stir every hour to break up any ice crystals that are forming.

For the strawberry and rose syrup

200g fresh strawberries, hulled and chopped
50g caster sugar
1 tsp rose water
150ml water

Place all the ingredients in a medium saucepan and simmer gently for around 5 minutes until the strawberries are soft and the sugar has melted. Puree with a hand blender. If you like you can strain the puree through a fine-meshed sieve to remove the seeds. I must admit, I couldn’t be bothered with this stage.

For the ice cream soda

Pour a little strawberry and rose syrup into a tall glass. Add a couple of scoops of strawberry ice cream to the glass, followed by cold lemonade. I love the way it froths up at this point!

Drizzle with a little more syrup to finish. Armed with a straw and a long spoon, you’re good to go. Enjoy!

Strawberry and Rose Ice Cream Soda 4


I am entering my Strawberry & Rose ice cream sodas into the following blog events: Let’s Cook With Strawberries (hosted by Simply Sensational Food); Family Foodies (hosted by Bangers & Mash and Eat Your Veg); and Simple and in Season (hosted by My Custard Pie and Ren Behan).

Lets cook with strawberries family-foodies simple

Bobotie spiced beef burgers


Generally when I make burgers I tend to keep things very simple; just some good quality minced beef, seasoning and perhaps a little chopped onion. But occasionally I fancy a burger that packs a bit more of a flavour punch. This was the mood I found myself in the other day when I was about to make burgers for the barbecue.

Flicking through a few cookbooks for some flavour ideas, I came across a recipe for bobotie, a South Africa favourite, which could be described as a curried meatloaf. I rather liked the sound of beef flavoured with curry spices and fruit chutney. This was the inspiration I needed, and my bobotie spiced burger was born. Fruity and spicy, it was a winner with the whole family, especially the kids who are big fans of dried apricots.

bobotie spiced burgers

I served my bobotie spiced burgers in sesame seed buns with some chargrilled courgettes and red peppers.

Bobotie spiced beef burgers

Makes 6

500g minced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp chilli powder
pinch of nutmeg
8 dried apricots, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

Simply place the minced beef and all the other ingredients in a large bowl and combine well.

Using your hands, form the mixture into six balls and then flatten each one into a thick patty.

Cook the burgers on the barbecue for four to five minutes on each side, until just cooked through and ideally a little pink inside – although you’ll probably want to cook them a little longer for young children or pregnant women. Alternatively cook in a griddle pan or under a grill.

Serve in toasted burger buns with salad and perhaps some chargrilled vegetables.

bobotie spiced burgers

I’m entering my bobotie spiced burger into my very own Spice Trail challenge, where the theme this month is Summer Spice.

spice trail badge square

I’m also entering my burgers in the Four Seasons Food challenge hosted by Eat Your Veg and Delicieux where the theme for July is Al Fresco.



The Spice Trail: cumin round-up

spice trail badge long

It’s always so much fun deciding on a spice-theme for this challenge, and then sitting back and waiting for the entries to drop into my inbox. And last month in particular was a very exciting month, providing an awesome list of delicious cumin dishes to work my way through in the weeks ahead.

So if you’re up for a little cumin-based culinary inspiration, let’s take a look through those entries…


After hosting a brilliant vanilla-themed Spice Trail challenge back in May, Solange from Pebble Soup was quick off the mark with her gorgeously Crunchy Palak Paneer. I’m a big fan of paneer with spinach and this dish looks absolutely bursting with flavour, featuring lots of fresh ginger and garlic as well as a whole host of spices – including, of course, cumin.

potato and cumin curry
Next up we have Marwardi Aloo Pyaj ki Subji from Home Cook Food, which is a glorious Rajasthani style Potato and Onion Curry, and ideal served with puris, rotis or rice.
jamaican patty pie

I always love the way Seasonal Shaheen presents her food and these Jamaican Patty Pies are as pretty as a picture, and that pastry looks oh so good. They’re filled with summer vegetables and lightly spiced with cayenne, all-spice and of course cumin.

split white gram lentils

I try to use pulses as much as I can when I’m planning our meals as they’re such a cheap food and I think these Split White Gram Lentils from Home Cook Food might be appearing on one of our meal plans very soon. The spicing sounds absolutely heavenly.

mango curry

I’m intrigued by the idea of this Raw Mango Curry, a third entry from Home Cook Food, as it’s a dish I haven’t come across before. It sounds to me like a cross between a curry and a chutney and it sounds absolutely bursting with flavour. Definitely one to bookmark!


This dish of Cumin-roasted Beetroot and Chickpeas from Helen at Family-Friends-Food is exactly the kind of dish I like to experiment on my family with. And just like Helen, I’m likely to get a pretty mixed reaction. I think it looks absolutely delicious and I reckon my oldest would gobble it up, although I’m not so sure my youngest and my husband would be quite so keen. But the important thing is we keep experimenting and pushing their taste boundaries! I’ll certainly be giving this one a go.

toor dal curry

This Toor Dal Curry with Spinach from Janet at The Taste Space looks like such a healthy, hearty dish, and a beautiful combination of textures and flavours. And as ever, Janet’s photography is simply stunning.

I’ve only just discovered On The Flavour Road, a blog by Italian Ema who now lives in Sydney, Australia, but I know I’m going to be a frequent visitor. Ema has entered her Lamb & Eggplant Light Curry into this month’s cumin challenge, which is made using a curry-infused macadamia oil and served on coconut mashed potatoes. A very unusual dish and one I must try soon; I’m very curious to taste mashed potatoes with coconut milk!

Louisa from Eat Your Veg is a master at encouraging children to eat their greens, and her Feta & Courgette Fritters  are another wonderful example. She serves them with a yoghurt, mint and cumin dip, which sounds just gorgeous and I’m intrigued by her suggestion that you can also serve the dip with strawberries. That’s just got to be tried!

vegetable and chickpea tagine
Next up we have a gloriously vibrant and wonderfully healthy Vegetable & Chickpea Tagine from We Don’t Eat Anything With a Face. Piled high with tasty veggies and an array of herbs and spices, you know this dish is going to do you good as well as tasting good.

chicken satay
It’s the season for barbecues and my Chicken Satay  take just minutes to cook over the hot coals. They’re served with a delicious coconut rice that’s oh so easy to make, and an incredibly moreish peanut sauce.

Lamb with aubergine is one of my all-time favourite combinations and so I was thrilled when I saw this next entry appear in my inbox. It’s a Mint-Cumin Roast Lamb with Moutabal from the extremely talented Lass in the Apron. The lamb looks incredible tender, while I adore the sound of the nutty, earthy moutabal, a Lebanese puree of roasted eggplant (aubergine) with tahini, garlic, and lemon.

spicy falafel
Falafel are always my food of choice when we’re at a summer festival, but do you know what? I’ve never actually made my own at home. Such a travesty! But I have no excuse now, as I think I have discovered the perfect recipe. Don’t these Fabulously Spicy Falafel from Cooking for Kishore look fantastic? Emily describes them as a great “throw together meal” and I can’t wait to throw some together myself!

Dips are extremely popular in our house and we always seem to have a bag of carrots to use up, so this Roasted Carrot Dip from Searching for Spice is an ideal recipe for me. Especially as it also features lots of tahini, one of my all-time favourite ingredients, and lots of lovely spices and garlic. Yum!

Another delicious looking entry next from Helen at Family–Friends–Food. Here are her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas and I so want to reach into my hand into the screen and grab myself a wrap. Roasted squash is a simply magical food, and Helen has smothered hers in lots of cumin, cumin seeds, coriander, oregano, cayenne, lime zest and olive oil to really pack it full of flavour. And I love the fact any leftovers taste great cold the next day.

cumin crackers
Last up are these beautiful Cumin Seed Crackers from Lapin d’or and More, flavoured of course with cumin and taken to extra heights of crispness with the addition of semolina flour. We work our way through boxes and boxes of shop-bought crackers and I think it’s high time I had a go at making some of my own. I know exactly which recipe to start with!

And the winner is…

anjumSo there you have the cumin recipe round-up; an inspiring selection, don’t you think? But who will be crowned the cumin queen? (No entries from potential kings this month.) Who will win this month’s prize: Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian courtesy of Quadrille Publishing, a collection of 80 recipes from the fabulous Anjum Anand?

Well, the prize has to go to…

Helen at Family–Friends–Food for her Spice-roasted Butternut Squash and Halloumi Fajitas. We seem to be addicted to anything served in a wrap in the Bangers & Mash household and are on the lookout for new filling inspiration, and Helen’s spicy squash with halloumi is right up our street.

A copy of Anjum’s Quick & Easy Indian will be on its way to you very soon, Helen. Congratulations!

And thank you so much to everyone that took part in the cumin challenge. July’s Spice Trail is well underway, and the theme this month is Summer Spice. You can choose any spices you like, just so long as your dish has a seasonal summery feel! The closing date is 29 July 2014.


Quick and easy gazpacho


I like to think of this as a summer salad in a soup. A beautifully refreshing, fragrantly deliciously ice-cold soup, perfect on a hot, sticky day.

It’s an excellent way to use up those salad ingredients that have been sat in the fridge just a little too long. I always seem to be over ambitious when I buy salad stuff. Ideally you should buy your salad the day you’re going to eat it – ideally from a fabulous farmer’s market where all the produce has been grown within a few miles’ radius. But like most people, I do a weekly shop at the supermarket and by the end of the week, the contents of the salad drawer are beginning to look a little sad. This soup is definitely the solution.

What’s more, it’s a cinch to make too. I can’t be bothered to peel and seed my tomatoes, or peel and salt the cucumber, as gazpacho recipes usually demand. Clearly if I were entertaining and out to impress, I might push the boat out and make a little more effort. But when I’m rustling up a speedy lunch, I simply bung everything in a food processor, give it all a quick whizz and in seconds you have the most glorious gazpacho. Job done!


Quick and easy gazpacho

Serves 2

Half a cucumber, chopped
750g ripe tomatoes, chopped
2 spring onions, sliced
handful fresh mint, roughly chopped
handful fresh basil, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for drizzling
juice of half a lemon
celery salt

This really couldn’t be easier. Simply place the cucumber, tomatoes, spring onions, herbs and garlic in a food processor and blend. I like my gazpacho to be quite smooth, while my husband prefers it a little chunky. So we usually end up somewhere in between.

Stir in the olive oil and lemon juice, and season with celery salt and pepper to taste.

Chill in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and, if you like it really cold, a couple of ice cubes.


I’m entering my quick and easy gazpacho into a number of blog events…


No Croutons Required is a monthly blog event for soups and salads suitable for vegetarians, hosted by Lisa’s Kitchen and Tinned Tomatoes. I think this soup fits the bill.

vegetable palette800

Vegetable Palette is a new vegetarian blog challenge from Allotment 2 Kitchen, which calls for dishes made from fruits or vegetables of a chosen colour. July’s theme is red, so I think this tomato-based soup is perfect.


With all that tomato and cucumber, I think this gazpacho definitely qualifies as a serving of Extra Veg, which is the theme for the blog challenge hosted each month by Fuss Free Flavours and Utterly Scrummy, and this month is being guest-hosted by Juggle Mum.


Of course, I’ve got to enter my soup into July’s hosted Family Foodies, the blog challenge I take turns in hosting with Louisa at Eat Your Veg. This month the theme is Chill Out, Baby!


Al Fresco is the theme for this month’s Four Seasons Food, a seasonal blog event hosted by Eat Your Veg and Delicieux. I reckon this gazpacho would make a lovely lunch to eat out on the patio.

cooking with herbs

Basil is the theme for July’s Cooking with Herbs challenge hosted by Lavender & Lovage, and as my soup features lots of lovely basil (and mint too), I’ve just got to enter it.


And finally, with all those seasonal salad goodies, I’ve got to enter it into Ren Behan‘s Simple and in Season challenge, hosted this month by My Custard Pie.

Raspberry, strawberry and rose millefeuille

strawberry raspberry rose millefeuille

I think I may have a new addiction. I simply can’t seem to get enough of it at the moment and I am obsessing over new ways to use it to enjoy another fix. Thankfully my new addiction isn’t harmful, although I’ve learnt it is wise to use it sparingly (a little goes a long way), and it won’t result in any lasting damage to my health or nasty side effects. Well, not as far as I’m aware anyway…

My latest foodie addiction is rosewater. Isn’t it the most heavenly ingredient? That heady, evocative perfume, mirrored so closely by that same wonderfully floral, fragrant flavour; it really is a magical and fantastical foodstuff that transports you instantly to star-swept scenes from the Arabian Nights.

raspberry strawberry rose millefeuille

Ever since my husband bought some to create Yotam Ottolenghi’s sublime Roast Chicken with Saffron, Hazelnuts & Honey (inspired in turn by another culinary idol, Claudia Roden), I’ve been dreaming up different ways to feature rosewater in our cooking.

This Raspberry, Strawberry and Rose Millefeuille was my first experiment and it was a brilliant success, even if I say so myself. Using ready-made puff pastry, it’s deceptively easy to make too, yet looks quite impressive when you serve it up for your eagerly awaiting guests.

raspberry, strawberry, rose millefeuille

Raspberry, strawberry and rose millefeuille

Serves 6

3 tbsp caster sugar
350g ready-made, pre-rolled puff pastry
300ml double cream
1 tsp rosewater
300g strawberries, hulled and quartered
300g raspberries
2 tbsp icing sugar

Preheat the oven to 200°C / gas mark 6.

Line a large baking sheet with baking parchment and sprinkle with caster sugar. Lay the pastry onto the baking parchment, scatter with more sugar and cover with more parchment. Place another baking sheet on top, and bake in the oven for 20-30 minutes until the pastry is crisp and golden-brown. Leave to cool.

For the filling, pour the cream and rosewater into a large bowl. Whisk until the cream forms soft peaks. Fold the strawberries and raspberries into the cream and then place in the fridge.

When the puff pastry is completely cool, use a sharp knife to trim the edges to form a tidy rectangle, and cut this into three equal rectangles. Place one rectangle of pastry on a plate and cover with half of the cream and fruit. Place the second layer of pastry on top and press down very gently. Top with the remaining cream mix and then place the final layer of pastry on top. Again press down gently squeeze the filling to the edges. Run a palette knife around the sides to level out the filling.

Chill until ready to serve. Liberally sprinkle the top with icing sugar and then very carefully cut the millefeuille into six elegant slices.

AlphaBakes Logo

As rosewater is the star ingredient in this millefeuille, I am entering it into July’s Alphabakes, hosted by The More than Occasional Baker and Caroline Makes, where the letter this month is R.

Lets cook with strawberries

For obvious reasons, I’m also entering my dessert into Let’s Cook With Strawberries, hosted by Simply Sensational Food.



And last not least, I’m entering it into Ren Behan’s Simple and in Season challenge, which is this month being hosted by My Custard Pie.

Food Blog Diary

For all the latest food blogger challenges, events, giveaways and competitions, do make sure you head over to the Food Blog Diary, overseen by Jac at Tinned Tomatoes, Karen at Lavender & Lovage and Stuart at Cakeyboi. It’s a brilliant resource and a vital tool for all food bloggers everywhere!


The World Cup of Food

England might be out of the World Cup but as I’m not all that into football, I can’t say I’m particularly devastated. But I am rather into food though – funny that as I write a food blog… So I thought this infographic of The World Cup of Food was much more interesting than the World Cup itself.

It showcases dishes from each of the countries that have been competing in the tournament. Each dish has been selected by a different food blogger, including the very lovely Helen from The Crazy Kitchen who has chosen good old steak and ale pie for England’s dish.

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post.

The Spice Trail: summer spice challenge

summer spice

Enter your Summer Spice dishes to win a fantastic gift set from Holy Lama Spice Drops!

I’m giving you almost completely free reign with your choice of spice in this month’s Spice Trail challenge. So long as your dish has a sense of summer about it and a splash a spice, then it fits the bill.

Your dish could come from any of the four corners of the world, be sweet or savoury, snack or main course, drink or dessert – the choice is completely yours. Just so long as it’s a) spicy and b) summery, and I’ll be happy!

spice dropsHoly Lama! What a prize!

This month the lovely Gouri Kubair from Holy Lama (a chartered accountant turned serious foodie) is our guest judge and she’s offering an amazing prize for one very lucky winner – a gift set of summery Holy Lama Spice Drops, including fennel seed, mint, lemongrass, rose and pepper, presented in a beautiful handcrafted wooden stand.

The Spice Drops range of products, which recently came in the top 5 in Ocado’s ‘Top Supplier’ competition, are concentrated extracts of natural spices and herbs in the form of drops, offering a simpler, more consistent way to infuse food and drink with pure, vibrant flavours. Forget peeling, grinding, scraping and measuring and simply add a drop or two at any stage of the cooking process. Spice Drops contain no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives, and a few drops go a long way!

What’s more, Holy Lama manufactures their products in an ethically-run factory employing marginalised women in the local community in Kerala, India.

See the full range of Spice Drops on the Holy Lama website and read a recent interview with Gouri here.

So what are you waiting for? I really can’t wait to see your Summer Spice entries!

How to enter The Spice Trail

spice trail badge square

  • Display the The Spice Trail badge (above and also available here) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  • Up to three recipe links accepted per blogger, so long as they each one has a Summer Spice theme and features at least one spice.
  • Feel free to link up recipe posts from your archive, but please add the information about this challenge to the post and The Spice Trail badge.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 29 July 2014.
  • If you tweet your post, please mention #TheSpiceTrail and me @BangerMashChat in your tweet and I’ll retweet each one I see.
  • As entries come in, links to these will be added to the bottom of this page.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe and the winner this month will receive a gift set from Holy Lama.
  • The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries.
  • Entries from bloggers all around the world are accepted, but unfortunately the prize can only be shipped to a UK address.
  • All entries will be added to The Spice Trail Pinterest Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your Summer Spice dishes and drinks. Any questions, please tweet or email me.

And thanks to everyone who entered June’s cumin challenge – the round-up and winner announcement will be coming very soon.

July’s entries

  1. Mint and Indian Cottage Cheese Patties from Home Cook Food
  2. Usirikaya Pachadi / Goose Berry Pickle from Sahasra Recipes
  3. Ginger Zinger Cake from Lancashire Food
  4. Kale Spinach Muthia from Home Cook Food
  5. Chimichurri Sauce from Home Cook Food
  6. Summer Coolant Salad from Drizzling Delicacies
  7. Chipotle Chilli Sauce from How to Cook Good Food
  8. Lemon, Lavender & Almond Cake from Family-Friends-Food
  9. Peach Streusel Kuchen Traybake from Tales From the Kitchen Shed
  10. Mejadra – Middle Eastern Rice & Lentils from Family-Friends-Food
  11. Courgette Pakoras from Lapin d’Or and More
  12. Fasulye with Dukkah Roasted Tofu from Chocolate Log Blog
  13. Apple & Pineapple Eve’s Pudding from Casa Costello
  14. Briouates Stuffed with Spinach & Meat from Madhouse Family Reviews
  15. Patatas a lo pobre (poor man’s potatoes) from Madhouse Family Reviews
  16. Moroccan Kefta Meatball Tagine from Madhouse Family Reviews

Summer Spice image: nkzs

Family Foodies: chill out, baby!

chill out baby

It’s always hard to predict what the weather might have in store for us Brits in July. It ought to be a month of long, hot, lazy days, of trips to the seaside, cheering the kids on at their school sports days and keeping the ants off the sarnies on those impromptu picnics in the park.

In reality though, it’s very often about trying to the stop the children jumping in puddles wearing only sandals (I know, there’s really no point), countless games of cards to stop everyone getting cabin fever and spontaneous visits to museums and art galleries to escape the rain.

But ever the optimist, I’m holding out for July being a gloriously golden, sunshiny month where sunscreen and sun hats are the order of the day.

So that’s why this month’s Family Foodies challenge has the theme Chill Out, Baby! We’re calling for your tasty eats and drinks for chilling out and cooling down in the summer sun: tempting icy treats suitable for the whole family. From frozen ice creams and sorbets to refreshing salads and smoothies, we can’t wait to see your recipes for chilled and frosty delights to tantalise our taste buds while cooling our heated brows.

Recipes from my Mother for my DaughterAs usual, we have a prize for the overall winner and this month we are giving away a copy of Celebrity Masterchef winner, Lisa Faulkner’s fabulous cookbook Recipes from my Mother for my Daughter. Not bad, eh?

To get the ball rolling, I’m entering my elderflower cordial, which I posted on the blog a couple of days ago. Mixed with fizzy water and lots of ice, it’s my idea of the perfect summer cooler.

But it’s your ideas, we really want to hear about…

Family Foodie Entry Guidelines:

  • You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, and there is a limit of three entries per blogger. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 29 July 2014.
  • Display the Family Foodies badge (below) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
  • If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChat and Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
  • You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, but prizes can only be posted out to UK addresses.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
  • All entries will be added to the Family Foodies Pinterest Group Board.

Any questions, do drop me an email at the address above.



July’s entries

  1. Elderflower Cordial from Bangers & Mash
  2. Lime Ice Cream in a Ginger Snap Crust from Selma’s Table
  3. No-churn Raspberry Swirl Vanilla Bean Ice Cream with Fino Sherry from Selma’s Table 
  4. Banana Split Milkshake from Home Cook  Food
  5. Chickoo Kulfi – Sapota Indian Ice Cream from Home Cook Food
  6. Mango Coolatta and Pineapple Coolatta from Home Cook Food
  7. Four Fruity Frozen Treats from Family – Friends – Food
  8. Raspberry, Banana and Coconut Ice Lollies from Sneaky Veg
  9. Strawberry Mousse from Self Sufficient Cafe
  10. Salted Caramel Coffee Cooler from The Crafty Larder
  11. Quick and Easy Gazpacho from Bangers & Mash
  12. Frozen Peach Yoghurt & Oaty Crumb Topping from Tales From the Kitchen Shed
  13. Homemade Yoghurt from Tales from the Kitchen Shed
  14. Raspberry Ripple-White Chocolate Coconut Milk Ice Cream Bars & Bites from The Gluten Free Alchemist
  15. Chicken, Goat’s Cheese & Avocado Salad from Mad Avocado
  16. Instant Choc-Ana Ice Cream from Eat Your Veg
  17. Vegan and Raw Raspberry Ice-cream from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  18. Strawberry & Rose Ice Cream Soda from Bangers & Mash

Family Foodies: the Cheap and Cheerful round-up

It’s been a month since the deadline for entries into May’s Family Foodies challenge – do you remember that one, the one with the Cheap and Cheerful theme? I could come up with a list of excuses as long as my arm for taking so long to bring you the round-up, but it would make for pretty dull reading.

It’s simply been a case of work, family and, well, life really, having to take priority – you know what it’s like. And so I had to take a little step back from the blog for a few weeks. But hopefully things are back on a bit more of an even keel now.

But I hope you’ll agree it was worth the wait. We received some brilliantly inspiring and inventive recipes for last month’s Family Foodies, so if you are looking for creative ways to make your grocery budget stretch that little bit further yet still serve up temptingly tasting meals, then this is the recipe round-up for you.

Cheap and Cheerful Collage

For starters, we have a couple of soups. There’s a vibrant 5 Minute Smoothie Soup (1) from Jac at Tinned Tomatoes, which as well as being super quick and super cheap, it’s also perfect for anyone watching their weight at just 42 calories a bowl.

Katie from Feeding Boys and a Firefighter also brings a hearty soup to our Cheap and Cheerful table, with her Healthy Mushroom Soup (3). It sounds absolutely packed full of flavour with those lovely earthy mushrooms, alongside lots of garlic and chives and if you want to lux it up, you can add a glug of sherry and a dollop of creme fraiche. Ooh yum.

How about an Easy Cheesy Muffins (2) to go with your bowl of soup. Luckily that’s precisely what Lou from Eat Your Veg has brought along with her. These marvellous mini muffins would be ideal for packed lunches and are also a great way to get the little ones involved in the kitchen, as Lou’s gorgeous son Jacques demonstrates.

Talking of lunches, I think these next two entries would make a lovely weekend lunch and would also be perfect picnic food. This Smoked Salmon and Asparagus Quiche (4) from Ros aka The More Than Occasional Baker looks really quite decadent even though it’s made from leftovers, while this Quiche Lorraine with Slow Cooked Pulled Gammon (5) from Camilla at Fab Food 4 All is fabulously “fuss and fiddle” free and makes the most of value gammon from the supermarket.

And how about this dish of Spinach, Chickpeas and Peppercorns (6) from Sudha at Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous? Does it look delicious? It’s Sudha’s grandmother’s recipe and she makes it whenever she feels like she needs a hug from her. I love the way food can link us so directly to our loved ones.

Cheap and Cheerful Collage 2Linsy from Home Cook Food has three Cheap and Cheerful dishes to share. First of all there’s her Chanar Payesh (7), which is a Bengali-style cottage cheese pudding and a clever way of using up sour milk. Next she brings us a hot and spicy Sriracha Eggplant and Tofu (8) and she completes her trio with an Cheesy Pesto Pasta (9), perfect for a quick and easy, mid-week supper.

Not surprisingly for this Cheap and Cheerful challenge, we have a few more pasta dishes up next. Katharine from Leeks & Limoni gives us this very pretty bowlful of Penne with Speck and Leeks (10), which has universal appeal, just perfect for a family meal. Then a couple of pasta bakes up next. We have a Veggie Sausage and Pepper Pasta Bake (11) from Helen at Family – Friends – Food, a fun (and very tasty) way to use vegetarian sausages, and then a Meatball and Red Pepper Pasta Bake (12) from Alex at Gingey Bites, featuring lots of versatile and cheap ingredients, and very yummy looking meatballs.

Cheap and Cheerful Collage 3

If you saw the Mexican theme on The Spice Trail a couple of months ago, you’ll know I’m rather partial to Mexican food, and so I was very pleased to see a couple of burritos on the list of entries for Family Foodies. These Burritos with Cumin and Eggs (13) were the end result when Sudha from Spicy, Quirky and Serendipitous let her “imagination run wild” and what a delicious imagination she clearly has! Louisa at Eat Your Veg came up with these Veggie Burritos (14) for National Vegetarian Week back in May, and as with so much of her food, they are a very healthy and hands-on dinner for all the family to tuck into together.

These Beet Parathas (15) from Aneela at The Odd Pantry are a deliciously frugal dinner. Paratha is a stuffed, wholewheat flatbread and Aneela has stuffed hers with a fantastic filling made from just about every part of the beetroot that is then spiced to perfection.

My Braised Oxtail with Smoked Bacon (16) is up next, the first time I’ve ever tried cooking this extremely cheap cut, and I’ll certainly be coming back to it again soon.

And I have to say, I’m very tempted by these Guacamole Hush Puppies (17) from Gayathri at Spices Galore. They are her take on the hush puppies from the deep south of the United States, which are essentially deep-fried cornmeal fritters. Gayathri has added avocado, chilli and lots of fresh herbs to her version and I think they sound irresistible.

Cheap and Cheerful Collage 4Elizabeth from Elizabeth’s Kitchen has come up with a healthier and tastier version of the ubiquitous chicken nugget next with her Chicken, Apple & Sage Nuggets (18). I think I’d like these as much as my children.

Something that went down well with my own family was this Spicy Chana Dal Cottage Pie (19). While it’s not meat-free, the chana dal does help bulk out the filling and helps make a little meat go much, much further.

After all those savoury delights, I reckon it’s high time we had some sweet treats, don’t  you? Corina from Searching for Spice has made us these gorgeous little Oaty Banana and Raisin Bites (20), made from just three ingredients, they really couldn’t be easier to make. Small chewy clusters of oats, banana and raisins, baked in the oven, they sound almost too good to be true!

And how about this sumptuous Nutella Bread and Butter Pudding (21) from Helen at Family – Friends – Food? Custard, chocolate and bread pudding – sounds like a heavenly combination if you ask me.

Cheap and Cheerful Collage 5 Chocolate Cakes

Did someone say chocolate? If it’s chocolate on a budget you want then these next six entries will have you whooping in sheer foodie ecstasy on a shoestring. Last month Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog set an interesting challenge for We Should Cocoa: to bake a chocolate cake for less than £1. And I’m rather pleased that many of her entrants saw fit to also submit their entries to Family Foodies as well. I couldn’t believe it was possible to bake an edible cake for less than a pound, until I saw this little lot…

Michelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Family’s Chocolate Cake for less than £1 (22) looks absolutely decadent, although it must be said the chocolate topping wasn’t included in the costings. But doesn’t that chocolate sponge look wonderfully moist?

Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog came up with two versions of a Chocolate Cake for £1 (23). There’s a malted hot chocolate cake, made using Horlicks (gosh, I haven’t heard that mentioned for quite a while), and then a banana hot chocolate honey cake. Both sound divine and I’m so impressed each one came in under budget. Just!

Admittedly Sarah from Tales from the Kitchen Shed used a smaller tin than normal for her £1 Chocolate Fudge Cake (24) but I think you’ll agree it looks like it must have cost much more than the 99½p it actually cost to make. It really looks rather extravagant and knowing how tasty Sarah’s recipes are, I bet this tastes the business too.

Caroline aka Caroline Makes went with a vegan recipe for her entry How to Make Chocolate Cake for Only £1 (25), and found it was actually cheaper to use plain chocolate from the basics range than use cocoa powder. I love how glossy that topping looks.

Ros from The More Than Occasional Baker used a packet cake mix from Morrison’s and even stretched to some peanut butter for her Chocolate, Banana and Peanut Butter Cake for £1 (26). Her secret ingredient was sour cream for extra lightness, and I love the fact she served up to people without telling them it was a budget cake and people were asking her for the recipe. Result!

Finally we have this very fine-looking Chocolate Syrup Cake for £1 (27) from Katharine at Leeks & Limoni, in which she replaced the butter with oil for a recipe she describes as a revelation. “The cake was really delicious,” she says in her post. “I mean, nicer than my usual standard chocolate cake and a cinch to make.” Who’d have thought that by cutting the cost on ingredients, you might actually stumble upon an improved recipe?

And the winner is…

So there you have it. Quite a collection of cheap and cheerful dishes, perfect for feeding a hungry family. It all goes to show, food doesn’t have to be boring when you’re on a budget. Although you do need to be creative and think out of the box a little, which of course isn’t always easy when times are tight and you have a family to feed, as I learnt a few weeks ago when my family and I took part in the Live Below the Line challenge. But some great ideas there to give us all food for thought.

But as ever there can only be one winner. And this month that much sought-after accolade of Family Foodies champion goes to Choclette from Chocolate Log Blog for her two very inventive versions of a Chocolate Cake for £1, and for coming up with such a fantastic blog challenge to run alongside the Live Below the Line campaign. Well done Choclette! A copy of the Passion for Juice smoothie recipe book will be in the post to you very soon – once you’ve sent me your address that is…

Thank you to everyone that took part in the Cheap and Cheerful challenge, and apologies once again for taking so long to bring you the round-up. Better late than never though, as they say!


Elderflower cordial

elderflower cordial

We have been drinking rather a lot of homemade elderflower cordial in recent weeks. It’s a wonderful thirst-quencher on hot, sticky days, served diluted with iced water, soda water or lemonade, but more than anything I love the actual process of making it, which is so simple and fills the house with the most incredible and evocative elderflower perfume.

A few people have been asking for the recipe, so I thought I’d better post it quickly before the elderflower season comes to an end.

We’re lucky here in Somerset as we seem to be surrounded by elder trees and the flowers are there for the picking wherever you turn. But you can find elderflowers practically everywhere. As I drive to and from work in Bristol, I find myself spotting those beautiful bunches of white blossoms along the roadsides, down little lanes and in so many gardens and even on building sites, so it really isn’t a difficult flower to forage.

Elderflower Collage

My oldest daughter Jessie likes to help me harvest the elderflowers. She’s getting so tall these days, which is helpful for picking the biggest, whitest blooms – the ones that always seem to be right at the top of the tree.

elderflower lemons

Making elderflower cordial is ridiculously easy and you don’t need a long list of ingredients, although it does require a fair bit of sugar and do make sure you have a muslin cloth to hand for straining before you get started. The straining stage is the bit I like best; I enjoying  using my hands to squeezing as much sugary-syrupy cordial as I can from the bundle of cloth, and at this stage the scent of elderflower is almost overwhelming. To me, it’s the essence of an English summer. I don’t use citric acid in my recipe; instead I make sure I store my cordial in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

elderflower cordial

Elderflower Cordial

Makes around 2.5 litres

plastic bagful of elderflower heads
3 unwaxed lemons, zested and sliced thinly
1.5kg sugar

Don’t wash the flowers. Simply shake them out to make sure there aren’t any bugs hiding in there. Place them in a large bowl, together with the lemon zest and slices.

Put the sugar in a large saucepan with 1.2 litres of water and very slowly bring to the boil, stirring occasionally to dissolve the sugar. Leave to cool for five minutes and then pour the sugar syrup over the elderflowers and lemons. Leave to cool, cover with a clean tea towel and leave somewhere safe for about for 24 hours.

Strain the mixture through a sieve lined with a clean muslin and decant into sterilised bottles. Seal and store in a cool, dark place or in the fridge.

Serve  diluted with water, lemonade or soda water. It’s also delicious poured over a fruit salad and or in this glorious elderflower and rhubarb fool. I plan to try making elderflower ice cream in the coming weeks.


Elderflower cordial is the perfect refreshment for a family picnic so I’m entering this recipe into June’s Family Foodies challenge, hosted this month by Lou over at Eat Your Veg where the theme is Barbecues, Picnics and Outdoor Eating, as well as July’s Family Foodies challenge (this time hosted by yours truly) where the theme is Chill Out, Baby!


And since elderflower cordial is both Simple and in Season, I’m entering into the blog event of the same name hosted by Ren Behan.