Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe

Today has been quite possibly one of the coldest days of the winter so far; a cold-to-the-bone kind of cold when it takes an hour in a hot bath to thaw out. In the depths of winter, I can’t help but dream about summer holidays in warmer climes…

When Monarch Holidays invited me to recreate some traditional Spanish recipes for their new online Island Cookbook, I thought it was a perfect opportunity to feed my craving for sunshine food and cheer up these dark, dank days. I took my inspiration from the third largest of the Canary Islands, Gran Canaria, where I have fond memories of holidaying with my family as a teenager Continue reading “Ropa Vieja and Bienmesabe”

Our ghastly Halloween showstopper

Every year I watch the Great British Bake Off and every year I feel inspired to get the kids in the kitchen to join me in creating some crazy, outlandish showstopper-style masterpiece*.

The problem is, and I know I’ve said this before on the blog, but I’m just not a natural-born baker. That’s not to say my bakes don’t taste good. Nine times out of ten they most certainly do. But all too often they just don’t look good. And that’s the whole point of a showstopper, isn’t it? To impress? To wow? So perhaps our attempt this year at a ghoulish bake for Halloween is more a pause-glance-and-nod-approvingly before moving on than a full-blown stop-them-in-their-tracks-in-awe showstopper. The children loved it though, and that’s what’s most important.

*easily interchangeable with ‘monstrosity’, but quite appropriate really for this time of year. Continue reading “Our ghastly Halloween showstopper”

Spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and honey

spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and granola

For me April is rhubarb month. I can’t get enough of the stuff. I suspect the rest of my family get rather bored of it, but not me. Rhubarb crumbles, fools, cake and salsa… I’m not quite sure what it is – the vibrant colour, that distinctive sharp flavour, its sheer Englishness, or the simple fact that something that grows in such abundance like a weed could taste so good? Friends with rhubarb in their gardens know now to bring their surplus to me. Continue reading “Spiced rhubarb compote with whipped ricotta and honey”

Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes

apple cinnamon and raisin pancakes3

The world and his wife are going crazy for crepes at the moment, and we’re no exception here at Chez Bangers where pancakes are always a regular feature on our menus.

Just in time for tomorrow’s Shrove Tuesday aka Pancake Day, I thought I’d share with you my apple, cinnamon and raisin pancake recipe, which is one of our favourite weekend breakfasts and very quick and easy to rustle up. Continue reading “Apple, raisin and cinnamon pancakes”

Cheddar and apple rough puff pie

cheddar and apple rough puff pie

It might be unseasonably mild in the UK for January, but these interminably dank, grey days still lead my body and mind to craving wholesome, hearty, warming dishes. Puddings and pastries in particular are at the top of my wish list, and what could be more wholesomely tempting than a slice of hot apple pie smothered in cream? Continue reading “Cheddar and apple rough puff pie”

#ThriftyOrganic three-course family meal

Organic September Collage

If you are a bit of a foodie and/or follow any social media here in the UK, you’re probably more than aware that this month has been dubbed #OrganicSeptember. Everyone’s being encouraged to celebrate all things organic. The message is that by making a small change to your everyday shopping, we can make a big difference: swapping to organic food has huge benefits for people, animal welfare and the environment.

organic-carousel-2A

While most of us will agree that organic produce is better for our environment, better for animal welfare and, well, just a more natural approach, isn’t it hideously expensive to shop organic? I try to buy organic wherever I can, particularly fruit and vegetables. For instance I have a weekly organic veg box delivered by Riverford – although I tend to do this less during late summer and early autumn when we tend to have a glut of veggies in our own garden. But I doubt I could afford to go totally organic.

Or could I? Continue reading “#ThriftyOrganic three-course family meal”

Chocolate cheesecake with blackberry cream

Chocolate Cheesecake Collage

I feel obliged to issue a public health warning before I go any further with this post. This dessert is not for the faint-hearted and certainly not for anyone on a calorie-controlled diet. It’s extremely rich and something of a colossal beast, easily serving 12 to 14 people, so only make this if you’ve got the man, woman and child-power to tackle it, and be sure not to feed them too much beforehand. Continue reading “Chocolate cheesecake with blackberry cream”

Italian baked chicken with grapes followed by semifreddo with honey, figs and walnuts

Italian feast

Boasting honey, figs, grapes, nuts and sweet wine, this Italian feast would surely have won the approval of Bacchus himself. When I think about good food, when I dream about delicious dishes bringing together the simplest ingredients to create something truly magical, when I picture myself being served an incredible meal in an idyllic setting, I tend to find myself transported to Italy.

It’s been a few years since I’ve travelled in Italy and I long to return. My parents are in Tuscany right now and as you can imagine I am extremely jealous. My step-mum Sue has been sending me droolsome updates on Whatsapp, replete with photos, documenting their food adventures. There have been accounts of wonderful salads with chicken, ravioli in a walnut cream sauce,  the thinnest pizzas with just one or two toppings, grilled sea bass with roast courgettes, fritto misto in the lightest of batters, fagiolini with fine green beans and bacon in tomatoes and garlic. Oh and lots of gelati with figs and cherries… The list goes on. It’s been pure torture.

So when Expedia challenged me to come up with an Italian meal for their #expediaworldonaplate challenge, I knew I would be taking my inspiration from Tuscany. Continue reading “Italian baked chicken with grapes followed by semifreddo with honey, figs and walnuts”

Strawberry ice cream sundaes with rosemary shortbread

Strawberry ice cream sundae with rosemary shortbread4

I didn’t realise strawberries with rosemary was a particularly classic combination but on consulting the oracle that is Google I see cooks all over the world are pairing them. This is the first time I’ve tried them together and I think they make a brilliant partnership, especially in this spectacularly simple ice cream sundae.

And with rosemary biscotti being a bit of a winner on last week’s Great British Bake Off, I think rosemary biscuits could turn out to be rather trendy. Not that I keep up with cooking trends in the slightest. I’m always a tad late to the party on that score. I only tried matcha for the first time a couple of months ago, while coconut oil made its first appearance in my cooking just the other day.

But back to those sundaes…

I made the rosemary shortbread to accompany the Rich Clotted Cream ice cream we brought home with us from our recent visit to the marvellous Marshfield Farm. My kids demanded sundaes and as I’m the biggest sucker around for ice cream piled high in a tall glass, who was I to refuse? Strawberries were the obvious choice to go with clotted cream and shortbread seemed the obvious choice for strawberries. And then the rosemary outside the back door called to me, and this sundae was born. Continue reading “Strawberry ice cream sundaes with rosemary shortbread”

Posh prunes and custard

posh prunes and custard 2

My blogging friend Janie from The Hedgecombers is off on an incredible road trip across Wales this month, discovering the best places to eat and drink in the country. Lucky bugger! While she’s otherwise engaged, she’s handed over the reins of her blog to some fellow foodies, including me.

My recipe for Posh Prunes and Custard has just appeared over on The Hedgecombers if you fancy giving it a try, and do check out Janie’s tasty offerings while you’re there. I’m sure you’ll be tempted by more than a few…