Round Up: May’s Recipes for Life challenge


I knew when we announced the three ingredients for May’s Recipes for Life it would prove a popular month for the challenge, and I wasn’t wrong. Faced with a trio of rhubarb, lemon and spice, food bloggers demonstrated just how creative they can be in the kitchen, concocting both sweet and savoury dishes from fools and muffins, ice creams and sorbets to curry and cous cous and even spaghetti!

Let’s take a look at each of those lovely seasonal rhubarb dishes in turn…

rhubarb compote

I got the rhubarb party started with a simple Rhubarb Compote. It’s very good as an accompaniment to roast duck, pork or lamb, and if you make a little too much, use up the rest in a big thick cheese sandwich. My compote is flavoured with ginger and mixed spice, but you could go with whichever spices take your fancy really.


I love a good fool and this Rhubarb, Ginger and Lemon Fool from Claire at Under The Blue Gum Tree looks especially good, don’t you agree? Tracking down fresh rhubarb in South Africa proved something of a challenge but I admire Claire’s dedication to the cause as she succeeded eventually in finding “a few gnarly sticks” at her local grocers which she was able to transform into this delectable entry.


Next comes the turn of Sarah at The Garden Deli who brings us these Rhubarb and Lemon Scones as a tempting teatime treat. They sound incredibly easy to make, which is always a bonus in my eyes, and I can just imagine they’d be perfect served straight from the oven with some butter and jam. I’m making myself hungry just writing this…


I’ve discovered that rhubarb infused with star anise is one of my favourite flavour combinations of all time, which is exactly the combination brought to us by Fun as a Gran with her Rhubarb, Lemon and a Spice entry. It looks a great pudding for anyone watching their sugar intake, as both the sponge cake and stewed rhubarb are made using agave sugar.

rhubarb jam with sconesMichelle at Utterly Scrummy Food for Families made the most of the glut of rhubarb on her allotment by whipping up a big batch of this utterly scrummy Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam. I’ve never tried making jam with rhubarb before and so didn’t realise that it is rather low in pectin, which is what generally helps jam to set. I was interested to hear that Michelle uses lemon juice and the pips in a muslin bag to increase the pectin levels. I’m storing that tip away for future reference…

rhubarb crumble muffins

I’d considered attempting some Rhubarb Crumble Muffins myself but when I saw these beauties from Chez Foti I knew mine would never be able to compete. Don’t they look so good and sweetly satisfying? And they’d be just as good for breakfast as they would at teatime or as an after-school snack. Yes, I can imagine munching one or two of these at just about any time of day!

rhubarb and lemon sorbet

So instead of making muffins, I came up with Spiced Rhubarb and Lemon Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookies. They’re both incredibly easy to make and there is something just so magical about the perfumed flavour of star anise with the sharp tang of rhubarb. I could eat this all day. And all night.

rhubarb ripple ice cream

Another icy treat comes in the fabulous form of this Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Hazelnut Oat Clusters from Elizabeth’s Kitchen. Doesn’t it look sensational? I can just imagine how good that creamy rhubarby ice cream tastes alongside the nutty crunch of the hazelnut clusters. Oh yes, this is my kind of dessert.

rhubarb friandsIt’s the turn of Ness at JibberJabberUK to tempt us next with her pretty Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Friands. There’s something very cute about mini loaves; I think I might have to get myself some mini loaf tins so I can have a go at these. They look perfect for a properly civilised afternoon tea.


It was a delight to welcome Rich In Flavour to the Recipes for Life challenge for the first time and what a wonderful first entry! This Spiced Lemon & Rhubarb Cheesecake looks simply gorgeous and I love the sound of the lemon syrup flavoured with star anise and Szechuan pepper. I simply must try this recipe!

rhubarb lemon muffins

Janice from the Farmersgirl Kitchen baked us another batch of muffins; this time Spiced Rhubarb & Lemon Muffins, featuring cinnamon and “little nuggets of intense crystallised ginger”, which sounds right up my street. They look lovely and moist and as with the earlier muffins from Chez Foti, I can easily picture myself consuming a few of these with a mug of coffee for a lazy Sunday morning brunch.

rhubarb syllabub

Fun as a Gran returns with a second entry next; a very creative Rhubarb Syllabub served with a lemon meringue, which I imagine would bring a perfectly light crunchiness to complement the smooth creaminess of the rich syllabub.


Laura at How to Cook Good Food always comes up with heavenly creations and this Lavender Poached Rhubarb with Ginger Custard Cream is no exception. It sounds like Laura has been getting through quite a lot of rhubarb recently from her allotment, including rhubarb vodka which I’m rather intrigued by, as well as raw rhubarb in an Ottolenghi sour salad. But this poached rhubarb is definitely the one I want to try first. Simply beautiful.

fennel rhubarb

There is nothing remotely foolish about this Fennel Rhubarb Foolish from Mel at Edible Things. She flavours her rhubarb fool with fennel seed and it is garnished with candied fennel. This sounds to me like an incredible flavour combination; one Mel was inspired to come up with after eating fennel-flavoured sausages with roasted rhubarb as part of a rhubarb tasting menu at the Rollende Keukens festival in Amsterdam. Love it!


We have a second helping of  Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream now, this time from Helen at The Crazy Kitchen and served with Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies. As Helen says herself, this is “bloody gorgeous”!


I really wasn’t expecting to see a curry amongst our entries this month, but here it is, a Pork and Rhubarb Curry with Lemon Pilau Rice from Spurs Cook. Martin says he got the idea of using rhubarb in a curry by a certain celebrity chef who stir fries pork with rhubarb. He decided to go in a slightly different direction and came up with a curry. Inspired!


Here’s another delicious savoury rhubarb dish – The Crazy Kitchen’s Moroccan Lamb & Rhubarb with Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous. Helen freely admits she’s not completely convinced rhubarb even grows in Morocco but it’s the cinnamon and dried fruit in this dish that give it a wonderful Moroccan flavour. It’s an incredibly easy recipe, mostly throwing things in a pan and leaving them to do “their thing”, which is the kind of cooking I adore, and I know my family would really go for these flavour combinations.

rhubarb lemon and ginger cakeBack to baked goodies next with this Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Cake, a second tasty entry from JibberJabberUK. Ness made it for her local Clandestine Cake Club meeting and it was completely devoured save for one slice. And those clandestine cake makers certainly know their stuff!


Why do pizzas have to be savoury? This is the question posed by Helen at The Crazy Kitchen as she delivers a fabulous Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza. Isn’t it a great idea? Another lovely simple recipe from Helen that I can’t wait to try out.


Not content with three rhubarb dishes, here comes Helen at The Crazy Kitchen with entry number four! She offers us a scrumptiously rib-sticking Lemon and Rhubarb Pudding that reminds me of an old fashioned pud my Nana often makes. I’m starting to drool slightly thinking about just how satisfying this would be. Nom nom!


Guess what? Here’s The Crazy Kitchen with her fifth (yes, I said fifth!) entry for May’s challenge! This time she’s rustled up a Cheese and Rhubarb Chutney Tart – is there no end to Helen’s culinary talents when it comes to the humble rhubarb?! I’ve been thinking I should make a rhubarb chutney to use up some of the bags of rhubarb stocking up my freezer, and now I have the perfect recipe.

rhubarb ice cream

I’m really pleased to welcome another first-timer to the Recipes for Life challenge. The Grumbling Tummy has created another tempting Rhubarb Ice Cream which she serves with Lemon Spiced Biscuits – I can’t believe this is the first time Hazey has made her own ice cream as it looks fantastic.


I was surprised to receive a curry recipe this month, and I was equally surprised when Matt and Corpy told me they were planning on making Poached Rhubarb Spaghetti as their entry. I was totally intrigued to see how it would turn out and the two dads didn’t disappoint. Doesn’t this look so good? I know my girls are going to love it when I give it a go very soon.

rhubarb cinnamon cake with Splenda
Finally here is another entry from yours truly – a simple Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake which I made the other weekend for a friend with diabetes using a sugar alternative. It’s not half bad and we ended up eating some the next day for breakfast. How many times have I mentioned eating cake for breakfast in this post now I wonder?

So you see what I mean? A truly eclectic assortment of wonderful rhubarb recipes and not a single crumble in sight, unless you count crumble-topped muffins, which I don’t. Who’d have thought rhubarb could be so very versatile?

Now it’s time for the announcement you’re all waiting for… The winner of May’s Recipes for Life challenge…

The cookery group at SWALLOW found it nigh on impossible to settle on a single winner, and so we have two – one for a savoury dish and one for a sweet.

The winner of the sweet category is The Garden Deli for her beautiful Rhubarb and Lemon Scones. We all thought these looked so deliciously delightful, yet so simple to make too, which is what we look for in Recipes for Life. Congratulations Sarah!

And the winner of the savoury prize? Well, it had to be The Crazy Kitchen for her incredible Moroccan Lamb and Rhubarb with Lemon and Coriander Cous Cous. Another dish that’s simple to prepare and absolutely packed full of flavour, this had to win top place – even though it means Helen has now won three months in a row! This woman is on a serious roll! But seriously Helen, you totally deserve it and we’ll all been staggered by the support you have shown this challenge. Thank you!

Thank you also to everyone who entered May’s Recipes for Life. I was blown away by the number of entries this month, every one a winner its own right. If you’re stuck with a glut of rhubarb, you can’t fail to be inspired by this little lot!

Watch this space for details of the three ingredients for June’s challenge – I’ll be announcing the next lot very soon and I really can’t wait to see what you make of them. Until next time!

recipes for life

May’s Recipes for Life challenge: cooking with rhubarb, lemon and spice


Take part in the Recipes for Life challenge and you could see your dish featured in SWALLOW’s new charity cookbook!

We are now well and truly into rhubarb season, as Sarah who works for SWALLOW knows only too well. She has a huge patch of rhubarb in her garden and she doesn’t know what to do with it. So this month we are using the Recipes for Life challenge to help Sarah out by providing her with lots of delicious ideas on how she can put her rhubarb to good use.

Of course, the rules of the Recipes for Life call for a trio of ingredients, and so we’re teaming the rhubarb with lemon and spice – ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, chilli, cardamom, star anise – whichever spices take your fancy and tickle your taste buds. All you have to do to enter the challenge is to combine these three ingredients to make a tasty, simple and wholesome dish and post it on your blog. Make sure any other ingredients you include are easy to come by.

We’re using Recipes for Life to come up with a stock of easy recipes for members of SWALLOW’s cookery club to make in their sessions. SWALLOW is a fab charity based in Midsomer Norton in South West England, supporting adults with learning disabilities to lead more independent lives. The challenge is running for six months and at the end, the best recipes will be included in SWALLOW’s new cookery book to help raise much-needed funds for the charity.

recipes for life

Recipes for Life: how to enter

  1. Display the Recipes for Life badge (shown above) on your recipe post, and link back to this challenge post.
  2. You may enter as many recipe links as you like, so long as they are based on the three main ingredients selected for this month and accompanied only by everyday items.
  3. 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 28 May 2013.
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #RecipesforLife@BangerMashChat and@SWALLOWcharity in your tweet and we will retweet everyone we see.
  5. Feel free to republish old recipe posts, but please add the information about this challenge and the Recipes for Life badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. SWALLOW staff and members will choose their favourite recipe at the end of each month, and the winner will receive a small prize.
  8. A selection of recipes entered each month will be featured in the SWALLOW cookbook to be published later this year, helping the charity to raise much-needed funds for its ongoing work.

As my first entry, here’s a very simple rhubarb compote. It’s lovely served with roast duck, pork or lamb, and I’m also rather partial to it in a big thick cheese sandwich.

rhubarb compote

Rhubarb compote

knob of butter
small onion, chopped
1 tsp chopped ginger
½ tsp mixed spice
150g rhubarb, chopped
handful of sultanas or raisins
2 tbsp apple juice
2 tbsp lemon juice

Melt the butter in a pan and gently cook the onion and ginger until soft and golden. Stir in the mixed spice and cook for a couple of minutes.

Add the rhubarb and dried fruit and mix well to coat the fruit in the spicy butter. Cook for a few minutes before adding the apple and lemon juice. Stir and allow to stew gently for around ten minutes until the rhubarb is soft and mushy but still holds its shape. Serve at room temperature.

rhubarb compote with roast duck

May’s entries

  1. Rhubarb, Ginger and Lemon Fool from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  2. Rhubarb and Lemon Scones from The Garden Deli
  3. Rhubarb, Lemon and a Spice from Fun as a Gran
  4. Rhubarb and Vanilla Jam from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  5. Rhubarb Crumble Muffins from Chez Foti
  6. Spiced Rhubarb and Lemon Sorbet with Cinnamon Cookies from Bangers & Mash
  7. Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Hazelnut Oat Clusters from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  8. Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Friands from JibberJabberUK
  9. Spiced Lemon & Rhubarb Cheesecake from Rich In Flavour
  10. Spiced Rhubarb & Lemon Muffins from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  11. Rhubarb Syllabub from Fun as a Gran
  12. Lavender Poached Rhubarb with Ginger Custard Cream from How to Cook Good Food
  13. Fennel Rhubarb Foolish from Edible Things
  14. Rhubarb Ripple Ice Cream with Mini Spiced Lemon Cookies from The Crazy Kitchen
  15. Pork and Rhubarb Curry with Lemon Pilau Rice from Spurs Cook
  16. Moroccan Lamb & Rhubarb with Lemon & Coriander Cous Cous from The Crazy Kitchen
  17. Rhubarb, Lemon and Ginger Cake from JibberJabberUK
  18. Rhubarb and Custard Crumble Pizza from The Crazy Kitchen
  19. Lemon and Rhubarb Pudding from The Crazy Kitchen
  20. Cheese and Rhubarb Chutney Tart from The Crazy Kitchen
  21. Rhubarb Ice Cream with Lemon Spiced Biscuits from The Grumbling Tummy
  22. Poached Rhubarb Spaghetti from The Good Stuff
  23. Rhubarb Cinnamon Cake from Bangers & Mash

Round Up: April’s Recipes for Life Challenge

It’s been another fantastic month for the Recipes for Life challenge. I must admit, when I was first told the three ingredients the SWALLOW cookery club had decided on for April, I wasn’t sure how many recipes we’d receive. But as ever you lot have excelled yourselves and we’ve ended up with an incredibly varied and mouthwateringly tempting array of dishes all using the three set ingredients of pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes.

recipes for life

So without further ado, let’s take a look at those delicious dishes and, most importantly, announce this month’s winner…

pork chops

I got things started with these Rosemary and Garlic Pork Chops with Roasted Corn on the Cob and Spicy Tomato Relish. Roasting the corn gives it an extra sweet intensity and make sure you serve it with lots of lovely mashed potato to soak up the juices from the pork and the butter from the corn.

Slow cooker sweet and sour sausages

Don’t these Slow Cooker Sweet & Sour Sausages from The Crazy Kitchen look good? The list of ingredients might look long, but don’t be fooled – this is a quick and easy dish to prepare, just perfect for a midweek supper. And what’s more it’s a very frugal dish, making one pack of sausages go a long way.

Sausage chilli

We had to bend the rules slightly for this Sausage Chilli from The Garden Deli. Sarah was very keen to take part in the challenge but as Sarah is vegetarian, we really couldn’t make her cook with meat. So Sarah entered her sausage chilli using veggie sausages and then I (or rather my husband) tried out her recipe with pork sausages – see below. And we can confirm it works superbly both ways! Here’s how ours turned out:

sausage chilli
Sausage chilli – mark two

The whole family loved it. Sarah’s chilli is a feast of colours, flavours and textures, and perfect for little ones as it has just the right level of spice without being too hot.

BBQ pork ribs with sweetcorn salsa

Next up is a dish that’s making me yearn for summer! Doesn’t your mouth just instantly water when you look at Under The Blue Gum Tree’s gorgeous photos of her sumptuous BBQ Pork Ribs with Sweetcorn Salsa? The ribs are smothered in a simple BBQ sauce made from store cupboard ingredients – the trick is not to marinade the ribs but instead to pour the sauce on for the last 10 minutes of cooking time – and served with a zingy salsa made from roasted corn and fresh tomatoes.

Slow cooker pork Creole

JibberJabberUK has come up trumps with this satisfying Slow Cooker Pork Creole – as she says it might not be 100% authentic, but it’s a great way to add a bit of spice to your family’s food. It’s an incredibly versatile dish, so you can throw in whatever vegetables you happen to have in the fridge or freezer.

Sausage pesto pasta

You may recall that Helen from The Crazy Kitchen entered not one, not two, but three dishes into last month’s Recipes for Life. And she’s worked her magic again! This Sausage Pesto Pasta is her second entry for April’s challenge and I know my own family would absolutely love this. The recipe is simplicity itself but you just know it’s packed with flavour and would satisfy even the grumbliest of tummies.

Oven baked tortilla

And for her third offering, Helen from The Crazy Kitchen brings us this ever so easy Oven Baked Tortilla – a great one-pan meal, which Helen says is one of her favourite dishes to prepare when they’re away on holiday as it’s just so simple to do.

Pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes with vermicelli rice noodles
Pork, sweetcorn & tomatoes with vermicelli rice noodles

The brilliantly named Fun as a Gran came up with a wheat, egg, dairy and gluten-free dish of Pork, Sweetcorn & Tomatoes with Vermicelli Rice Noodles. I love the fact there is “no fancy measuring” and the recipe can be adapted up or down at the drop of a hat to cater for any number of people staying for dinner.

pulled pork
Pulled pork wrap with tomato and chorizo salsa and sweet sweet sweetcorn

Here’s a great first-time entry from Spurs Cook: Pulled Pork Wrap with Tomato and Chorizo Salsa and Sweet Sweet Sweetcorn. I’m a big fan of slow-cooked pork, especially when it’s seasoned with a whole host of rich, warming spices like paprika, cumin, cayenne, chilli and fennel, and I’m intrigued by the idea of the sweetness of the sweetcorn intensified even more with the addition of honey. Got to give it a go!

retro pork
Very retro sweet and sour pork

How about this for a taste of summer sunshine? Chez Foti’s Very Retro Sweet and Sour Pork looks just glorious and I bet it tastes every bit as good as it looks. Sweet and sour flavours are always a firm family favourite and this looks so much better for you than the horrible battered version with a gloopy sauce you so often find in takeaways. Like Louisa, I think I might add a touch of chilli too in the adult version…

ciabatta pizza

My Cheat’s Ciabatta Pizza is the next entry and to be honest hardly deserves to be described as a recipe as it’s just so easy to make. It’s simply sliced bread with your favourite pizza-style ingredients chucked on top and either grilled or baked in the oven. A quick and easy dinner to throw together when you don’t have time to make your pizza dough from scratch.

red rice
Red rice accompanied by pork, sweetcorn and tomato

And last but most certainly not least is a second entry from Fun as a Gran – Red Rice Accompanied by Pork, Sweetcorn and Tomato – another dish that’s easily adaptable depending on what you happen to have in. It features lovely nutty red rice served alongside pork steaks in a sauce made from a can of chicken or mushroom soup. It reminds me of some of my favourite student recipes!

Well, who would have thought pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes could lend themselves to such very different dishes? I look forward to working my way through these over the coming weeks.

But of course, what you’re waiting to hear is the name of this month’s winner. And so I’m very pleased to announce that the winner of first prize in April’s Recipes for Life challenge, as chosen by SWALLOW’s cookery club, is…

Helen from The Crazy Kitchen for her Oven Baked Tortilla!

Huge congratulations to Helen for her well-deserved win, particularly as this means she’s now scooped first place two months in a row! The guys at SWALLOW said they liked her tortilla because it features a good selection of veggies and was just a little bit different.

Special mentions also go to Under The Blue Gum Tree’s BBQ Pork Ribs and Chez Foti’s Retro Sweet & Sour Pork, which the group said both looked and sounded gorgeous too.

So well done again to Helen – a little gift will be coming to you in the post in the next few days. Watch this space to find out the three set ingredients for May’s challenge, and let’s see if we can knock Helen off the coveted top spot – surely she can’t make it three in row? Or can she?!

recipes for life

If you’d like to find out more about the work of SWALLOW and perhaps get involved in their Twenty for 20 appeal as part of the charity’s 20th anniversary celebrations, please take a look at their funky new website.

Cheat’s ciabatta pizza

Now that I’m working full-time again, the only chance I really have to play around in the kitchen is at the weekends. But then if I spend too much time in the kitchen, I feel bad that I’m not spending enough time with the kids. So wherever possible I try to involve Jessie and Mia in the cooking too.

On Saturday, after spending the afternoon in Bath shopping for new clothes (my girls are growing so blinking fast at the moment!), we rustled up some quick ciabatta bread pizzas for an easy tea. And the girls enjoyed deciding on their own toppings.


I’m not really sure whether to call these posh open grilled sandwiches or ciabatta pizzas – I guess they’re somewhere in between. And they don’t really warrant a recipe. I simply spread some passata on sliced ciabatta (you may prefer French bread or even a slice of cottage loaf) before the girls got going with their own special creations. Up for grabs was whatever we found in the fridge; leftover tinned sweetcorn, ham and salami, some chopped wild garlic leaves we’d picked from the hedgerows, black olives, capers and of course lots of mozzarella cheese.

Mia likes to play safe when it comes to food and kept her pizza topping simple. She isn’t a big fan of strong flavours like olive and capers. Despite that, she did go crazy with the wild garlic, and ate it all quite happily.

ciabatta pizza

Jessie, on the other hand, has always been much more adventurous with food, and went for everything on offer. If there had been raw chillies, she’d probably have thrown some of those on there too.

ciabatta pizza

Cheat’s ciabatta pizza

Serves 4 (2 adults, 2 children with leftovers perfect eaten cold for breakfast!)

4 small part-baked ciabatta, sliced widthways
350g passata or crushed tinned tomatoes
3 x 125g mozzarella cheese

And any toppings you fancy – we went for…

cooked ham, roughly chopped
salami, roughly chopped
tinned sweetcorn
pitted black olives
wild garlic leaves, roughly chopped (or any other fresh or dried herb)

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6.

Smother the ciabatta with passata and decorate with your chosen toppings. Tear the mozzarella and place on top.

Place your ciabatta pizzas on a lightly greased baking tray and pop in the oven (or alternatively under a medium grill) for 10 to 12 minutes, until the bread is lightly toasted and the cheese has melted. Easy as.

ciabatta pizza

As our ciabatta pizzas feature ham, salami, sweetcorn and tomatoes, I’m entering them into this month’s Recipes for Life, a challenge hosted by me and run in conjunction with SWALLOW, an amazing charity supporting adults with learning disabilities. Each month we set three ingredients and challenge bloggers to use these to come up with tasty, healthy and easy to cook dishes that can be made by SWALLOW members in their cookery class and at home. And this month’s three ingredients just happen to be pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes…

recipes for life

If you like this, you might also like to try…

The full English pizza
The full English pizza
Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza
Slow roasted tomato and oregano pizza
Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto
Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto
Wild garlic risotto
Wild garlic risotto

January Herbs on Saturday blog challenge – win a copy of ‘Your Kitchen Garden’

Well, here we are in 2013 already. How on earth did that happen? I know I say it every year but 2012 really did feel like it was over in a flash. I hope you enjoyed a delicious Christmas and had a wonderful time seeing in the new year. Ours was lovely. Christmas was a whirlwind of visits from family and friends, while we spent New Year’s Eve very quietly, enjoying steak and chips, good red wine and Jools Holland on the telly. Splendid.

I’m extremely pleased to be welcoming in the new year here on Bangers & Mash by hosting the Herbs on Saturday blog challenge for Karen at Lavender & Lovage.

I first hosted Herbs on Saturday back in July and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The challenge is a fabulous way to share delicious recipes that celebrate cooking with herbs, and I was fortunate enough to meet so many new and talented food bloggers as a result of hosting it last time. I can’t wait to see what comes in this month, particularly after seeing the recipes submitted last month.

To take part in the challenge, simply submit any recipe using fresh or dried herbs by emailing me with the URL for your post. And they don’t only need to be recipes made on a Saturday. At the end of each month, a ‘special blogger’ will choose their favourite recipe from all the entries, and the winning blogger will receive a fantastic cookbook as their prize. The full entry guidelines are below.

January’s prize is Your Kitchen Garden: Month-by-Month by renowned gardening author Andi Clevely.

Highly practical and easy-to-use, with clear illustrations and seasonal charts, Andi Clevely’s book is invaluable for creating a  well-managed kitchen garden providing a plentiful supply of vegetables, fruit, salad crops, herbs and flowers throughout the year. Each chapter focuses on one calendar month, setting out the tasks to be done and featuring crops that will be ripe for harvesting.

Herbs on Saturday for January – guidelines on how to enter

  1. 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 is Thursday 31 January.
  2. Display the Herbs on Saturday badge (as shown above and below) on the relevant recipe post, with a link back to this post  and also to the challenge page over at Lavender & Lovage.
  3. Email me as many recipe links as you like, there is no limit and the recipes and posts can be from any day, not just Saturday!
  4. If you tweet your post, please mention #herbsonsaturday, @BangerMashChat and @KarenBurnsBooth in your tweet – I will retweet all that I see.
  5. The recipe can be one of your own or one you’ve seen elsewhere. You are welcome to republish old recipes/posts but please add the information about this challenge as listed above with the Herbs on Saturday badge.
  6. As entries come in, links to these will be added to this page and at the end of the month there will be a round-up of all entries received.
  7. A guest blogger will choose their favourite recipe at the end of the month, and the winner will receive a copy of Your Kitchen Garden: Month-by-Month.

If you have any questions, please feel free to drop me a line. I’m really looking forward to receiving your entries for Herbs on Saturday!

January’s entries:

  1. Nigel Slater’s Hangover Salad from London Busy Body
  2. Herbed Cheese and Bacon Souffles from Caroline Makes
  3. Cumin Spiced Chicken with a Puy Lentil and Chargrilled Courgette Salad from How to be a Gourmand
  4. Mushroom, Onion and Thyme Focaccia from Lancashire Food
  5. Swamp Juice from Tinned Tomatoes
  6. Parsley Pesto from Chez Foti
  7. Slow Roasted Pork Neck in Thyme, Rosemary & Bay with Mint Flatbreads from Bangers & Mash
  8. Creamy Lemon Butter Beans from The Garden Deli
  9. Roast Chicken with Bulgur Wheat Stuffing and Roast Butternut Squash from Food Eat Love
  10. Bacon-Wrapped Salmon from Fab Food 4 All
  11. A Really Useful Asian Broth with Awesome Add-Ins from Food to Glow
  12. Rosemary and Thyme Chickpea Pancakes (Socca de Nice) from Food to Glow
  13. Saltimbocca alla Romana from Rita Cooks Italian
  14. Spicy Pork Stew with Sweet Potatoes and Beans from Farmersgirl Kitchen
  15. Parsley Pesto from The Botanical Baker
  16. Chicken, Sausage and Vegetable Hotpot from Lavender & Lovage
  17. Dukkah & Sun Dried Tomato Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  18. Fridge-Raid Smoked Salmon Spaghetti from Crumbs and Corkscrews
  19. Tiger Prawn Curry with Basmati Rice from Lavender & Lovage
  20. English Parsley, Walnut and Stilton Pesto from Marmaduke Scarlet
  21. Easy Shakshuka (Spiced North African Tomato and Eggs) from Food to  Glow
  22. Carrot Ginger Lime Soup with Sweet Potato Hummus from The Taste Space
  23. Butternut Risotto with Butternut Crisps from Chez Foti
  24. Middle Eastern Chicken Salad with Hummus Dressing from Bangers & Mash
  25. Chicken Breast Fillets with Sage from My Little Italian Kitchen
  26. 5:2 Diet Minestrone Soup from Tinned Tomatoes
  27. Rillettes de Canard from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  28. Cauliflower & Pear Soup from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  29. Croustade de Canard (Duck Pie with Figs) from Delicieux
  30. Roasted Mushrooms with Rosemary from Cherrapeno
  31. Zero Effort Spicy Carrot Soup from Dinner with Crayons
  32. Thyme, Black Garlic and Tomato Flatbreads from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  33. Bresaola Spirals from Leeks and Limoni
  34. Shakshuka from Exploits of a Food Nut
  35. Peashoot, Bacon & Ricotta Penne from Anne’s Kitchen
  36. Nigella’s Chicken Tagine from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  37. Kroppkakor – Swedish Style Dumplings from Delicieux
  38. Belleau Minestrone from Belleau Kitchen
  39. Sicilian Style Tuna with Salsa Verde from 8&Ruth
  40. Smoked Mackerel Salad with Yoghurt, Horseradish & Dill Dressing from Recipe Junkie
  41. Lemon Chicken with Cannellini Beans and Rosemary from Lavender & Lovage
  42. Cheesy Chorizo Flatbreads from Blue Kitchen Bakes
  43. Goats Cheese Souffles with Thyme from Maison Cupcake

What brunch dish will you bring to the Breakfast Club?

Breakfast Club: because breakfast should be more interesting than tea & toast or coffee & cereal.

During December, I am delighted to be hosting Breakfast Club, a bloggers challenge created by the very talented Helen at Fuss Free Flavours to encourage more creativity in the kitchen for that all important first meal of the day. I really hope you’ll join in the fun by entering a dish or two.

Let’s do brunch!

The theme for Breakfast Club this month is Brunch. According to Marge Simpson’s charming Casanova of a bowling instructor, the über smooth Jacques, brunch is…

…not quite breakfast, it’s not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don’t get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!

Brunch is my idea of a perfect breakfast. The kind of lazy breakfast you cook and eat at leisure on a relaxed Sunday, when you’re not in a rush to get to work or school. The kind of laid back breakfast you take your time over with a large pot of coffee and a selection of papers.

So no, not the kind of breakfast I get to eat all that often, but I always make sure I indulge when the opportunity presents itself. And a very good idea to have a stock of good brunch recipes up your sleeve for when it does.

It’s very easy to enter a brunch dish into this month’s Breakfast Club:

  • Email me with the URL for your brunch recipe blog post
  • Mention in your post you are entering your dish into Breakfast Club, include the logo above, and add links back to both this post and the Breakfast Club page at Fuss Free Flavours
  • Entries can be submitted to other events
  • You are welcome to enter old posts/recipes but they must be republished with the logo and links above
  • If you use Twitter please use #blogbreakfastclub and tweet your entry, and I’ll retweet everyone I see
  • The closing date is Friday 28 December 2012.

Hopefully, that all makes sense but if you do have any questions, please comment below. I can’t wait to see your entries!

Oh and before I forget, Helen at Fuss Free Flavours is always on the look out for new guest hosts for the Breakfast Club, and last month’s round up is here.

To get things started, I thought I’d give you my brunch recipe. I found it hard to choose which one as I have so many brunch favourites. I love pancakes and did think about entering these indulgent lemon and ricotta pancakes.

Or how about a more virtuous start to the day with some homemade granola?

But then I do also find it hard to resist a good fry up, but really – who needs a recipe for that? And so I’ve decided on…

The full English pizza

I know it sounds a little crazy. Or maybe a lot crazy. But this is a perfect and fun weekend brunch, particularly when you’ve had a few drinks the night before and need some stodge to sort you out. It’s essentially all the usual suspects you’d find in a cooked English breakfast but on top of a pizza. Gorgeous. And you probably won’t need to eat for the rest of the day.

I get up early to make the pizza dough. Then go back to bed for a bit with a cup of tea while the dough rises. But if that sounds to you like too much of a palaver, then ready-made pizza bases would make life a little easier.

Makes 4 pizzas

For the dough:

400g strong white bread flour
1 tsp salt
1 x 7g sachet fast action dried yeast
2 tbsp chopped fresh oregano
250ml luke warm water
1 tbsp olive oil

For the topping:

200g spinach
knob of butter
passata, about half a jar
4 pork sausages, grilled and sliced
4 rashers bacon, grilled and chopped
mozzarella, 2 x 250g balls
4 free range eggs

To make the pizza dough, put the flour, salt, dried yeast and oregano into a large mixing bowl and mix well.

Make a well in the middle and pour in the lukewarm water and oil. Gradually work the flour into the liquid, making a soft dough. If it’s too dry, add a drop more water. If it’s too sticky, add a little more flour.

Flour your surface before tipping the dough onto it. Knead the dough by stretching it away from you, then pulling back into a ball. Do this for five minutes or so, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Return the dough to the mixing bowl, cover loosely with cling film and put in a warm place for about an hour, until the dough has doubled in size. This is when I retire back to bed for a while.

Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6 or use the middle of the top oven of an Aga.

Uncover the risen dough and punch it back down. Flour the surface again and divide the dough into four balls. Stretch or roll out each ball until you have a thin circle about 22cm across. Place the pizzas onto slightly oiled baking sheets.

Melt the butter in a frying pan. Add the spinach and cook gently until wilted.

Pour a couple of tablespoons of passata onto each pizza, smoothing out with the back of the spoon. Spread some spinach over each base (squeeze out any excess butter), followed by the pieces of sausage and bacon, and finish with torn pieces of mozzarella. Be careful not to overload the centre of the pizza, where you’ll be cooking your egg later.

Bake the pizzas in the oven for 15-20 minutes. Remove from the oven and carefully break an egg into the middle of each pizza. Return to the oven for 3 to 4 minutes until the white is just cooked but the yolk is still soft. Enjoy at your leisure!

December’s entries for Breakfast Club:

  1. Turkey, Cranberry & Stilton Christmas Brunch Muffins from Fuss Free Flavours
  2. Beet Greens & Red Pepper Frittata from On Top of Spaghetti
  3. White Chocolate &  Cranberry Christmas Cookies from Chez Foti
  4. Buck Rarebit from Credit Munched
  5. Courgette and Mushroom Omelette with Garlic and Parsley from Bangers & Mash
  6. Swiss Scrambled Eggs, Croissants and Shakes from Fabulicious Food
  7. Mushrooms on Rye Toast from The Garden Deli
  8. Minestrone Soup from Divine Foods Living
  9. Nduja Potato Cakes from Foodycat
  10. Christmas Breakfast Muffins from Elizabeth’s Kitchen
  11. Speculoos & Mascarpone Pancake Cake from Kavey Eats
  12. Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins from Mondomulia
  13. Brunch Quesadillas – Fab Food 4 All

Barbara’s Courgette Bake and Vanilla Cream Terrine for the Care to Cook Challenge

Knitting with my Nana Barbara back in the 1980s

My parents split up when I was very little. I can barely remember them being together. So much so, I’m not totally sure how old I was when they went their separate ways. Two perhaps, or three?

But despite that, my dad’s parents, my Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter, ensured they remained constant factors in my life – through my childhood and teens, my university days and when I started my own family and they became great-grandparents. My mum moved around the UK quite a bit as I was growing up, but no matter where we went, Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter would trek across the country to come and visit me. Because family is important. I grew up knowing that and knowing how much I was loved. And that is so important.

I am so pleased my Nana Barbara has entered these recipes into the Care to Cook recipe challenge to raise awareness of the fostering and adoption charity TACT. I always associated visits from my grandparents and then later, when I was old enough to go and stay with them in Lancashire and then the Lake District, with food. Homebaked cakes, pies, tarts, casseroles and puddings. Dinner round the table. Proper family food.

My Grandad Peter and my Nana Barbara with me and my daughter Jessie a few years ago

The two dishes Nana has entered are actually new ones on me, and I can’t wait to try them out…

Courgette Bake

In one bowl mix:

2 grated courgettes
1 grated carrot
1 chopped onion
5 rashers of chopped up crispy bacon
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 cup self-raising flour

In a second bowl mix:

5 eggs, beaten
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
crushed clove of garlic
1tsp paprika

You’ll also need:

Parmesan or cheddar for sprinkling on top
Chopped fresh parsley to finish

Stir bowls one and two together, then spread into a lasagne dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Cheddar cheese.

Cook at 200°c for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold, garnished with fresh parsley. Will serve six people.

Vanilla Cream Terrine

2 tsp vanilla extract
425ml whipping cream
11g sachet powder gelatine
85g caster sugar
425g Greek yoghurt
Mint leaves and raspberries to garnish
raspberry couli

Begin by placing the gelatine in a cup together with three tablespoons of the cream and leave to soak for 10mins.

Meanwhile place the rest of the cream in a saucepan with the sugar and heat gently until sugar has dissolved. It is important not to overheat the cream. Next, add the soaked gelatine to the warmed cream and whisk everything over the heat for a few seconds. Now remove the cream mixture from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, stir the yoghurt & vanilla together, then pour the gelatine cream mixture through a sieve. Mix very thoroughly and pour the whole lot into a plastic box (I use an old ice cream container). Allow to cool, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.

Serve sliced, with fresh raspberries and mint springs, with a pouring of raspberry coulis.

Thanks Nana!

Save the Children’s Recipe Challenge eBook

Back in March, along with many other food bloggers, I entered my recipe for Roast Vegetable Lasagne into the Save the Children Recipe Challenge organised by Ruth Clemens at The Pink Whisk.

The aim of the challenge was to raise awareness of Save the Children’s Race Against Hunger campaign. It is a shocking fact that we live in a world with enough food for everyone, yet hunger is still able to kill 7,000 children every day.  Save the Children is calling on governments to put an end to this hidden hunger.

All the recipes gathered have been collated and published in a beautiful Save the Children Recipe Challenge e-book, which is available online for an optional donation of £2 to raise awareness and funds for the campaign. I am absolutely thrilled to have a recipe included in this wonderful collection.

Please, please, please visit the Save the Children website to download a copy, and make a small donation if you can. The book features mouthwatering mains, such as Easy Braised Lamb Shank, Guacamole Bean Salad and Easy Baked Chicken Biryani, plus lots of tempting cakes and puds like Raspberry and Almond Mini Macaroons and Fresh Orange Cake with Citrus Buttercream.

Over the next two years Save the Children aim to help at least two million children get the kind of healthy food they need to grow up strong and healthy. The kind of food we’d all expect for our own kids.

But they can’t do it alone. Add your voice to the Race Against Hunger campaign and with your help they will:

  • persuade governments to invest in getting help to the children and families who need it
  • encourage companies to make sure millions more children get food fortified with the right vitamins – just like our breakfast cereals
  • give poor mothers vouchers or money so they can buy the food they need before things get desperate – a form of aid that stimulates local markets so they can keep on supplying local communities for the long term.

Together we can give children a life free from hunger.