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Sunday, 23 June 2013

Salmon Fish Cakes

Ingredients (Serves 4)

500gr/1lb potatoes, cut into large chunks
350gr/12oz salmon fillets
2tsp vinegar
30gr/1oz/2tbsp butter
3 tbsp single cream
2tsp lemon juice
2tsp chopped fresh parsley
30gr/1oz/1/4 cup plain flour
1 egg white
90gr/3oz/11/2 cups breadcrumbs
vegetable oil
salt and pepper


Boil the potatoes in lightly salted water until tender. 

Place the salmon in a shallow pan with the vinegar and just enough water to cover. Simmer gently until the fish flakes easily. Drain well and flake the salmon with a fork, taking care to remove any skin and bones. 

When cooked, drain the potatoes, peel them and mash them. Mix them with the fish, the butter, the cream, the lemon juice and the chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper.

Form the mixture into 8 cakes and dust with the flour. Beat the egg white in a shallow bowl with 1 tbsp cold water. Put the breadcrumbs on a separate plate. Dip the fish cake in the egg white, then coat with the breadcrumbs. Fry in vegetable oil until cooked and golden brown, about 4-5 minutes on each side.

Serve with tartare sauce and lemon wedges.

Torta al Limone (Lemon Cake)

Ingredients (Serves 6-8)

2 medium eggs
150gr caster sugar
150gr plain flour
1 lemon
40gr butter
3tbsp milk
2tsp baking powder 
1tsp vanilla extract
Icing sugar, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 23cm/9in springform pan with butter and dust it lightly with flour. 

Grate the rind from the lemon, cut it in half and squeeze the juice.

Melt the butter in pan.

Place the eggs, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until smooth and pale yellow in colour. Stir in the lemon juice, the melted butter and the milk.

Sift the flour and the baking powder into the bowl, stir until well blended and smooth. 

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 30 minutes. To check that the cake is done insert a skewer in the middle. If the  skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Allow to cool for 15mins. Remove the cake from the pan and place it on a serving dish. Finally, dust it with icing sugar.

Diets of Old Hollywood Movie Stars

Jean Harlow was tiny and perfect. In fact, in the 1930s she had one of the most envied bodies in the celebrity world. However, she had to work hard to keep the weight off. She was a lover of good food but whenever she had a movie coming up she would follow a strict diet of vegetables and salads. Her favourite was the Caesar salad, invented by Italian American chef, restaurateur and hotel owner, Caesar Cardini. After she and Clark Gable discovered it, it became a hit in L.A. and, later, around the world. Jean was also a sport fan. She kept fit by swimming, as well as playing tennis and golf.

Mae West had a lifelong love of fitness and went for daily bike rides into her 80s. She once said: ''I never worry about diets. The only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond." She didn't drink. "I never understood drinking. It isn't good for your looks, and it cuts down on what you are. I never wanted to cut down on what I am.''

Greta Garbo grew up Greta Gustafsson, an overweight, big-footed girl from Sweden. When aged 17, she met director Mauritz Stiller, the first of many Garbo mentors, he told her to lose 20lbs. Louis B Mayer of MGM invited Garbo to Hollywood in the 1920s, but warned her that America didn't like fat girls. She then went on a strict diet of spinach for three weeks to achieve the slender figure she became famous for. 
She enjoyed long walks and was a huge fan of "tramping about the woods." She was a vegetarian and preferred a frugal breakfast and a light lunch.

Bette Davis, on the other hand, was not an advocate for dieting. She once stated during an interview, published on the Sunday Herald on June 19, 1960: 

'' I was lucky to discover the importance of activity. I had always played tennis, swam a lot and ate intelligently - and in moderation, so I never had a problem with my weight or my health.''

Aubergine Parmigiana (Parmigiana di Melanzane): Baked aubergines with cheese and tomato sauce

Ingredients (Serves 6)

1kg/35oz/2.2lbs Aubergines
1 clove garlic
1 onion
2tbsp olive oil
700gr/24oz tomato passata (sieved puréed tomatoes)
1 1/2tsp salt
2tsp caster sugar
1tsp nutmeg
1/2tsp pepper
3tbsp coarse salt
2/250gr/8.8oz mozzarella cheeseballs
100gr/3 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese


Wash aubergines and cut them into 1/2in thick slices. Arrange them in layers inside a large colander, covering each layer with the coarse salt. Place a plate over the last layer, add a weight on top and leave in the fridge for 1-2 hours, to release the bitter juices. Rinse and squeeze well, then grill at 190°C/375°F, for 10 minutes, until soft.

For the tomato sauce, finely chop the onion and garlic. Place the olive oil into a large pan.  Add the garlic and onion and cook on a medium heat for 10 minutes, until soft. Add 1tbsp water if it becomes too dry. Add the tomato purée, 1 1/2tsp salt, the nutmeg, the pepper and the sugar, put a lid on the pan and simmer slowly for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Dice the mozzarella cheese and grate the Parmesan cheese.  Put a spoonful of tomato on an oven dish (25 x 20 x 5cm/10 x 8 x 2in) then alternate layers of aubergines, tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Finish with a layer of sauce and plenty of grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake at 200°C/390°F for 45 minutes until golden and crisp on the surface. 

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Olives

This delicious pasta dish makes for a delicious light dinner or a healthy packed lunch. Tomatoes and red peppers are rich in the antioxidant lycopene. According to the American Cancer Society (, people who have diets rich in tomatoes, which are the most concentrated food source of lycopene, appear in some studies to have a lower risk of certain types of cancer, especially cancers of the prostate, lung, and stomach. Studies that looked at lycopene levels in the blood found that levels were higher after people ate cooked tomatoes than after they ate raw tomatoes or drank tomato juice. 

Ingredients (serves 4)

1 red pepper, quartered, deseeded and cored
3tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, sliced
500g/1lb 2oz tomatoes, skinned (optional), roughly chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1tsp sugar
salt and freshly ground pepper
250gr/9oz dried penne pasta
2tbsp sun-dried tomato paste
75g/3oz stoned black and green olives (cut in halves)
grated Parmesan and basil leaves, to garnish


Put red pepper on a baking sheet, brush with oil then grill for 10min until skins are blackened. Put into a plastic bag and leave for 5min.

Heat 1tbsp oil in a frying pan, add onion and fry for 5min until lightly browned. Add tomatoes, garlic, sugar and seasoning.

Cover and simmer for 10min. Stir occasionally.

Cook pasta for 8-10min in boiling water. Drain, toss with remaining oil.

Stir tomato paste into tomato sauce, add pasta and olives. Skin, slice and add red pepper then toss together. Spoon into dishes and garnish with Parmesan and basil.

Friday, 14 June 2013

Torta di Mele - Italian Apple Cake

Perfect for teatime, this soft cake also makes for a delicious Italian breakfast or a scrumptious after dinner dessert.

Ingredients (serves 8-10)

4 eggs
250gr/8oz/1 cup caster sugar
250gr/8oz/2 cups plain flour
1tbsp baking powder
500gr/18oz apples (use sweet apples like 'Golden Delicious')
125ml/2/3 cup milk
75ml/1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 lemon
1tsp vanilla extract 
1tbsp butter, to grease pan
icing sugar, to decorate


Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F. Grease a 23cm/9in springform pan with butter and dust it lightly with flour. 

Grate the rind from the lemon, cut it in half and squeeze the juice.

Quarter, core, peel and chop the apples and toss them in the lemon juice (so that they don't go brown) and set them aside.

Place the eggs, sugar, lemon rind and vanilla extract into a bowl and whisk until smooth and pale yellow in colour. Stir in the milk and the oil.

Sift the flour and the baking powder into the bowl, stir until well blended and smooth. Add the apples and gently fold into the mixture.

Pour the mixture into the pan and bake for 50mins/1 hour. To check that the cake is done insert a skewer in the middle. If the  skewer comes out clean, the cake is ready.

Allow to cool for 15mins. Remove from the pan and place on a serving dish. Finally, dust with icing sugar.

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Orchard Pie

Ingredients (Serves 8)

For the pastry

350g/12oz plain flour
50g/2oz caster sugar
250g/9oz butter, diced

For the filling

3 cooking apples, about 600g/1lb 6oz
3 pears, about 500g/1lb 2oz
2tbsp lemon juice
450g/1lb ripe plums, stoned and quartered
75g/3oz caster sugar
2tsp cornflour
beaten egg, to glaze
extra sugar, for sprinkling


Preheat oven to 190°C/375°F/Gas Mark 5. 

Put flour and sugar into a bowl. Add butter and rub in with fingertips or an electric mixer. Press into a dough with hands. Wrap in cling film and chill for 30min.

Quarter, core, peel and slice apples and pears, toss in lemon juice. Put into a bowl with the plums, sugar and cornflour and toss together.

Knead pastry and roll out on a well-floured surface to form a 35.5/14in circle.

Lift over a rolling pin and drape in a 23cm/9in springform tin. Fill with fruit mixture, fold pastry around top edge of pie tin, repairing any  breaks in the pastry. Brush with egg and sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 35-40min until golden, covering with foil after 20min if going too brown. 

Serve warm with custard.

Homemade Yoghurt Recipe

Natural yoghurt is high in calcium and it's a good source of vitamin B12 and folic acid. It also contains 'friendly' bacteria that support the immune system and improve digestive health.

You don't need any starter or yoghurt maker for this recipe. All you need is 1 litre milk and 1 pot whole milk natural yoghurt. 

Pour 1 litre of whole milk into a saucepan and bring to the boil over low heat. Reduce heat and simmer at least 25 minutes until milk reduces to about half. Remove from heat and allow to cool until it reaches a temperature of about 37.5 degrees.

Put 1 tablespoon of natural yoghurt into a bowl. Slowly add the warm milk, gently stirring with a spoon until well blended.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap (cling film) and wrap it with a warm towel. Keep warm for about 8 hours or until it thickens.

Refrigerate, covered and eat within 5 days.

Chicken and Broccoli Salad

Chop 1 carrot, 1 onion and 1 stalk of celery.  Put them into a pot together with 600g of chicken breastCover with cold water, cook for 20 minutes
Wash 300g of broccoli florets. Blanche for 8 minutes and drain.

Wash 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges. 

Cut the chicken and vegetables into cubes and put them into a large bowl. Add the broccoli and tomatoes and season with 125g of yoghurt mixed with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and salt.

Sprinkle with 20g of chopped chives and serve.

Traditional Scotch Pancakes

Ingredients (makes 18)

125g/4oz/1 cup self-raising flour
pinch of salt
15g/1/2oz/ 1 heaped tbsp soft brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp finely grated orange rind
150ml/1/4 pint/2/3 cup natural yoghurt
2 tbsp milk
30g/1oz/3 tbsp sultanas 
few drops of vegetable oil


Sift the flour and salt into a mixing bowl. Stir in the sugar. Add the egg, vanilla extract, orange rind, yoghurt and milk and beat together using a wire whisk until the batter is smooth. Stir in the sultanas.

Heat a heavy-based frying pan, adding just a few drops of oil to grease the surface. Turn the heat to low. Drop heaped tablespoons of batter onto the hot surface. Bubbles will rise to the surface and burst. Gently slip a small metal spatula under the pancakes to loosen, then cook until the undersides are golden brown, about 1 minute longer. Turn the pancakes over and cook the other sides until golden, 1 to 2 minutes.

Serve warm, spread with butter.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Strawberry and Cranberry Juice Jam


1kg fresh strawberries
100ml cranberry juice, filtered
1kg granulated sugar with added jam pectin
Juice of 1 lemon


Wash the strawberries and dry them thoroughly with kitchen paper. Hull them and halve any large ones.

Put the fruit and cranberry juices and lemon in a deep pan.

Add sugar to fruit and bring to boil.

Boil for 3 minutes on high heat, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and stir.

Check the consistency of the jam and when ready pour into sterilized jars while still hot. Do not overfill.
Close tightly, cool, then label the jars.

The Good and Bad of Sun Exposure

Lounging in the sun is not only a pleasant way of getting a sun-kissed glow. New research shows that, with the necessary precautions, sunbathing is not as bad as originally thought!
In fact, sunshine is essential for our health, given the number of benefits it brings to our body:
  • It stimulates the synthesis of vitamin D
  • It increases the tone of our muscles
  • It improves our mood
  • It relieves muscular and rheumatic pain
  • It promotes growth and general well-being

However, we must not forget that excessive exposure can also have dangerous side effects. Along with the more common burns and rashes, excessive sun exposure can also cause premature aging, damage to the eyes (that’s why it’s important to wear sunglasses on sunny days) and melanoma skin cancer.

Those who are prone to solar erythema and have the tendency to sunburn easily should avoid foods such as asparagus, artichokes and beer, which are rich in nickel and, therefore, can trigger an allergic reaction and the release of histamine.

It’s important to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, rich in water, vitamins and minerals. In particular, yellow, orange and red fruit and vegetables, like carrots, peppers, peaches, apricots and melon: foods rich in beta-carotene and vitamin A, which are powerful antioxidants that reduce the risk of sunburn in individuals who are sensitive to sun exposure.

Drink at least 2 litres of water per day, to restore fluid balance. Avoid alcohol and foods high in sodium, which cause water retention and can contribute to dehydration.

It is essential to use a sunscreen with the appropriate Sun Protection Factor (SPF), according to your skin type. In addition, sun exposure should be avoided in the hours between 11am and 4pm.

Here is the recipe for a quick and easy beta carotene-rich salad:

Honey-Mustard Chicken and Carrots

Remove any fat and/or bones from 400g of chicken breast.
Place it in a pot with 1/2 lemon, cut into wedges, cover with water. 

Boil for 30 minutes, remove from heat and allow to cool.

Meanwhile, peel 500g carrots and cut them into julienne strips.

Boil them in water for 3 minutes, drain.

In a bowl whisk 40g of sweet mustard with 20ml of extra virgin olive oil, 1 teaspoon of honey and a few drops of lemon juice until smooth.

Drain the meat, cut it into chunks, mix it with the carrots and place it on a serving dish. 

Drizzle with the sauce and season with 1 tablespoon of black peppercorns coarsely crushed.

Apple Sauce Cake

Serves: 8
Preparation time: 30min
Cooking time: 25 - 30min

For the cake

1 lemon
175g/6oz soft margarine
175g/6oz caster sugar
175g/6oz self-raising flour
1 1/2  tsp baking powder
3 medium eggs
1 cooking apple, about 250g/9oz, quartered, cored, peeled and finely chopped

For the filling

500g/1lb 2oz cooking apples, quartered, cored, peeled and chopped
75g/3oz caster sugar
150ml/1/4pt double cream
little sifted icing sugar, to decorate


Preheat oven to 180ºC/350ºF/Gas Mark 4. Brush two 18.5cm/7in Victoria sandwich tins with a little oil and line bases with two circles of greaseproof paper.

Grate rind from half the lemon and squeeze juice from both halves. Reserve juice.

Put lemon rind, margarine, sugar, flour, baking powder and eggs into a bowl and beat until smooth. Stir in chopped apple.

Divide mixture between tins and level tops. Bake both cakes for 15-20min until well risen and cakes spring back when pressed with fingertips.

Turn out of tins, peel off paper and leave to cool on a wire rack.

For the filling, cook the remaining apples in a saucepan with the sugar, lemon juice, and 2tbsp water for 10min, until soft and thick. Cool

Put one cake on a serving plate, top with cooked apples. Whip cream then spoon over apples, top with the other cake and dust with icing sugar.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Non-alcoholic English Trifle with Dark Chocolate

The origins of English Trifle can be traced back to 1596, when the earliest known recipe for this traditional dessert was published in a book called 'The Good Huswifes Jewell' by Thomas Dawson. It was very popular in Victorian England. The original recipe consists of sponge fingers soaked  in brandy and Madeira wine (hence it is also called 'tipsy cake'), fruit, egg custard and cream. 

To make it healthier and more suitable for children and those who don't drink alcohol I have created this version by substituting the Madeira wine and the brandy with diluted strawberry-flavoured barley water. I have also added grated dark chocolate in between the layers for extra 'yumminess'. 

Ingredients (serves 8):

1 tbsp strawberry barley water
2 tbsp water
20 sponge fingers
2 tbsp strawberry conserve
300 ml (1 1/2 cups) double cream
150 g (1 cup) plain chocolate, grated

For the custard:

300 ml (1 1/4 cup) milk 
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon cornflour
75 g (1/3 cup) caster sugar

To decorate:

8 Strawberries, halved
Flaked almonds


To make the custard, combine the milk and vanilla extract in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes or until hot (do not allow to boil). Remove saucepan from heat.

Whisk the eggs, sugar and cornflour together in  a heatproof bowl until well blended. Pour the hot milk mixture over the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly and well. 

Return the mixture to the saucepan over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly until the custard thickens. Do not allow the custard to boil or it will curdle. Remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.

Mix together the water and the barley water in a shallow dish. Dip 10 sponge fingers (one at a time) into the mixture and place in the base of a glass dish. Spread this layer of moist sponge fingers with the strawberry conserve. Dip the remaining sponge fingers into the barley water mixture and place over the strawberry conserve layer. Pour the remaining  barley water mixture over the sponge fingers and cover with the grated chocolate.

Whip the cream until it forms stiff peaks. Fold two thirds of the cream into the cold custard until well combined and smooth. Pour over the sponge fingers and grated chocolate in the glass dish.

Fill a piping bag with the remaining cream. Pipe the cream over the top of the custard and decorate with the strawberries and flakes almonds.

Chill for 3 to 4 hours.

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Humming Bird Bakery 'Strawberry Milkshake Cupcakes'

This is a recipe I found on the Breast Cancer Care website. It's a UK charity that provides information and support for anyone affected by breast cancer. From 1 June to 31 August they run a campaign called 'Strawberry Tea' which gives supporters the opportunity to raise funds for the charity by hosting bake sales or 'bake offs' at home, at work or even in schools. You can read more on their page where you can also find more recipes.

The Hummingbird Bakery 'Home Sweet Home' (Collins, £20)

Ingredients (12–16 cupcakes):

For the sponge

70 g (2 1/2 oz) unsalted butter,softened

210 g (7 1/2 oz) plain flour

250 g (9oz) caster sugar

1 tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

210 ml (7 1/2 fl oz) whole milk

2 large eggs

40 g (1 1/2 oz) strawberry milkshake powder

For the frosting

500 g (1 lb 2 oz) icing sugar,sifted

160 g (5 1/2 oz) unsalted butter,softened

50 ml(1 1/2 fl oz) whole milk

100 g (3 1/2 oz) strawberry milkshake powder

For the decoration

Strawberry milkshake powder, to sprinkle


One or two 12‐hole deep muffin tins


Preheat the oven to 170°C (325°F), Gas mark 3, and line the muffin tins with paper muffin cases to make the number you require. 

First make the sponge. In a freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or using a hand‐held electric whisk, mix the butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together until they form a crumb‐like consistency.

In a jug,mix together the milk, eggs and strawberry milkshake powder by hand.

With the mixer or whisk on a slow speed, gradually pour half of the liquid into the crumb mixture
and mix thoroughly until combined. Raise the speed to medium and beat until the batter is smooth and thick, with no lumps. Scrape down the sides of the bowl now and then.Once all lumps are gone, turn the speed back down and gradually pour in the remaining liquid, continuing to mix until the batter is smooth and combined.

Spoon the batter into the prepared paper cases,filling them two‐thirds full. Using a 50 ml (1 1/2 fl oz) ice‐cream scoop can make this process easier and will result in even cupcakes.

Bake for 20–25 minutes or until the sponge bounces back when lightly touched. Leave to cool
slightly before removing from the tin and placing on a wire rack to cool completely before frosting.

Using the freestanding electric mixer with the paddle attachment or the hand‐held electric whisk, gradually mix the icing sugar and butter together on a low speed until combined and there are no large lumps of butter. 

In a jug, mix the milk and strawberry milkshake powder together. Gradually pour the liquid into the frosting, while mixing on a slow speed. When all the liquid is incorporated, turn the mixer up to a high speed and beat the frosting until light and fluffy.

Spoon generous amounts of the frosting onto each cupcake,then gently smooth over with a palette knife, making a swirl at the top if you wish.

Top each cupcake with a sprinkling of strawberry milkshake powder.

Monday, 3 June 2013

White Chocolate Cheesecake

So yummy and yet very easy to make, this fluffy, creamy cheesecake is egg-free and does not require baking.

Ingredients (serves 8):

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
4 oz baking white chocolate, melted
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup (3 oz) butter, melted
1 (8 oz) container whipped topping, thawed
7 oz digestive biscuits, crushed
Some milk or white chocolate to garnish


Combine crushed biscuits with brown sugar and mix with melted butter. Press into a 23 cm baking tin, chill until set.

Melt chocolate and leave to cool.

Beat cream cheese until soft. Whip the topping until it has soft peaks. Combine whipped topping and chocolate well then mix in cream cheese.

Pour over set base and chill until set about 1 hour.


Grate some milk chocolate over top or garnish with white chocolate shavings.

Kim Kardashian Continues to Attend her Bible Study Group in View of Her Possibly Imminent Christian Wedding to Kanye West

Recently Kim Kardashian has revelead that she has started a bible study group, which she attends regularly with her pal Malika, who has made various appearances in 'Keeping up with the Kardashians' and 'Khloe and Lamar'. 

Kim with pal Malika
The church in question focuses on second chances and was founded in 2010 by Kim's mom Kris Jenner and Reverend Brad Johnson. Kim revealed last year that she donates ten per cent of her earnings to the centre. LeAnne Rimes is also a member of this church. Could this be yet another Kardashian business venture? or are Kim and Kanye really getting married any time soon? 

With church buddy LeAnn Rimes
Bruce Jenner has often slammed Kanye and said 'he's never around'. Kanye does not seem too keen to officially join the Kardashian clan and, apparently, he is avoiding marriage in order to protect his finances and his reputation as a music artist. 

Kim is due to give birth to Kanye West's child in July.  She was celebrating the news she’s having a daughter at her baby shower in Beverly Hills yesterday. 

Mel B and Kelly Osborne attended Kim's baby shower in Beverly Hills
Kim has been piling on the pounds and according to rumors soon after the baby's birth she will be shedding the weight and releasing a fitness DVD. 

Kim before her pregnancy