Recipe critic, Naughty Nigella

Sorry Nigella, for calling you naughty but you really are…four hundred and seventy five grams of chocolate in twelve cookies?!! It’s kind genius, in an incredibly wicked way, and unfortunately this is what makes them taste so good! I buy slabs of plain chocolate for this and chop them up into chunks with my extra sharp knife. You can find this recipe along with many more in Nigella Express, another well used book on my cookery bookshelf, well worth buying!

nigella’s totally chocolate chocolate chip cookies
125g dark chocolate
150g flour
30g cocoa sieved
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1/2 tsp salt
125g soft butter
75g light brown sugar
50g white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg cold from the fridge
350g dark chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 170C. Melt 125g dark chocolate. Cream the butter and sugars. Add the melted chocolate and mix. Beat in the vanilla and egg and mix in the dry ingredients. Stir in the chocolate chips. Using two lined cookie sheets, scoop 12 equal sized mounds, 6cm apart. Do not flatten. Bake for 18 minutes. Leave to cool for 4-5 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack to harden.
the verdict The recipe is nice n easy to follow, I love that there’s no faffing around getting sticky hands, you just scoop the mixture straight onto the tray. The only bad thing I have to say about this recipe is the amount of chocolate used, which on the other hand just happens to be the best thing! How did the finished result go down with my hungry hordes? Let’s just say, these are just a little bit too good for under 12s! Nigella, I have to give you 5 out of 5 *****


Wheaten soda bread

Go buy yourself some buttermilk….I promise you you won’t regret it, and that is the hardest thing about making this bread. The rest a three year old could do. It’s that quick, your oven won’t have had time to heat up so you really have to turn it on as soon as the urge takes you! I’ve gone with a mix of double the wholemeal to white flour but I actually love all wholemeal just as much, you decide what you’d prefer. I triple the recipe and it make three loaves, which uses an entire litre of milk so you don’t even have to measure that! Then you can stick two in the freezer, even more laziness! This bread is so tasty with a bowl of warming soup or even better with cheese.

wheaten soda bread

225g coarse wholemeal flour
110g plain white flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tbsp treacle (optional)
330 ml buttermilk

Preheat the oven to 200C. Lightly grease your loaf tin. Place all the dry ingredients into a bowl and with a hand whisk (not electric) mix everything well. Add the wet ingredients and mix well to make a wet dough. Pour into your tin and level the mixture. Bake for 35-40 minutes until well risen and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Leave to cool.

Wontons two ways

Please tell me that I’m not a sad human being, when a present of a new bamboo steamer causes me great excitement?!! I mean, why does a piece of cooking equipment make me happy? But it does and I can’t help it. I start immediately looking forward to trying out new recipes, ooh the possibilities, where to start. What about wontons….steamed and just in case that’s just a little too healthy some deep fried ones also!


wontons two ways
wonton dough
250g plain flour
1 egg
5-6 tbsp water

Whisk the egg lightly and add the water and whisk again. Stir in the flour and form a stiff dough. Knead lightly and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes.
Roll out the dough to about the thickness of a twenty cent coin and cut 24 squares 7cm squares. Cover with the damp cloth to keep it from drying while your filling them.

pork wonton filling
225g pork mince
110g Chinese leaves
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 garlic clove minced
1 tsp of ginger minced
1/2 tbsp of rice wine
1/2 tsp of sesame oil
1/2 tsp of corn flour

Finely chop the Chinese leaves, place in a bowl and stir the salt through. Leave for 30 minutes and squeeze all the water out. Put all the other ingredients on top of the Chinese leaves. Using your hands, mix everything together until it’s completely amalgamated.

Now it’s time to make up your wontons… Get your square wonton wrapper and place a teaspoon of the pork filling in the center.

Turn the square so it’s facing you like a diamond. Take two opposite points and bring together, doing the same with the other two points, bringing them all together.


Using your fingers seal the edges, with the seal facing out wards.


steamed wontons
Place a banana leaf onto your bamboo steamer and put your wontons on top.


Put the steamer onto your wok and turn the flame up high. Pour enough water to go up one inch of the side of the steamer and steam the wontons for 15-20 minutes.(making sure top keep topping up with boiling water as it cooks)


deep fried wontons
Heat up vegetable oil till it’s quite hot but not smoking hot. Fry your wontons for five minutes till golden and crispy and cooked through.

dipping sauce
50 ml soy sauce
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp water
1/2 tsp Sesame oil
1 clove of garlic minced
1/2 tsp of ginger minced
1/2 tsp sugar
1 spring onion finely sliced
1/2 red chilli finely sliced(optional)
Combine the ingredients and leave to infuse for half an hour. Warm before serving.

La pencil case

Apart from the pleasure of making things that go in your belly, I may enjoy making handmade presents even more. I mean, two fat quarters, a zip and some embroidery thread and voila you have a pencil case! If you’ve never done embroidery, please go online and get yourself a tutorial, it’s really not that hard and extremely satisfactory. Or you could just make the pencil case, which is completely satisfactory also and is as good as any puzzle your going to get your head around.

you will need
28cm square outer fabric
28cm square of lining
9in zip
Embroidery threads

to make
Embroider your design onto the fabric using an embroidery hoop.

Lay the outer fabric face up, the zip face down on top and the lining face down also. Sew as close to the zip as your foot will allow, with the needle over in the left position.(I didn’t use a zipper foot)

Open out to look like this.

Now fold the lining back on itself, right sides together and do the same with the outer fabric on top, with the other side of the zip in the middle. Sew as before.

It should look like this.

Turn it the right way around and iron the zip flat with a cloth over it to protect it.

Turn it with the lining on the outside and open the zip halfway.

Now turn it inside out with the outer fabric facing itself and the lining facing itself. Make sure the zip is open halfway and also facing down into the lining.

Sew down one side completely from outer fabric to lining. On the other side sew the outer fabric together and only half way down the lining.

Through the hole left, push the fabric through and turn completely out so the right sides of the material are showing.
Sew by hand the remaining couple of inches in the lining and turn the pencil case the right way out and iron. Voila, la pencil case!

The softest chocolate cupcakes ever!

“Sugar”, that’s what I said as I screwed up my face. Thankfully my naughty little secret of licking my little finger after scooping the last spoonful of mix into the last cupcake case, came in very useful today. I’d forgotten to add the sugar earlier and only for licking my pinky, I’d have been non the wiser until someone else had taken a bite into those sweet less cupcakes….now for me , that really would be embarrassing! But all the same, what a waste of my beautiful golden cupcake cases. Each one destroyed as it was scooped out, to add in the forgotten sugar. But alls well that ends well, the batter didn’t seem to mind being manhandled and I hope I’ve learned my leasson!

softest chocolate cupcakes
130g plain flour
200g caster sugar
70g cocoa powder
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda (I use a level 2.5 ml side of a medicine spoon)
1 tsp of baking powder (I use a level 5ml side of a medicine spoon)
1/2 tsp of salt
1 egg
125ml full fat milk
60ml of vegetable oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
125ml boiling water
1 tsp coffee powder
Preheat you oven to 170 C. Put your cupcake cases (fairly large ones)into a tin. In a large bowl whisk the six first dry ingredients together to add air and get rid of any clumps. In another bowl whisk together the egg, milk, vegetable oil and vanilla together and then add to the dry ingredients. Mix well to combine. Dissolve the coffee in the boiling water and slowly add to the mix. Beat it all together for a couple of minutes. Fill the cupcake cases three quarters full and bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes. Leave to cool.
vanilla bean buttercream
100g butter
300g icing sugar
Large pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or indeed extract if that’s all you have)
4 tbsp cream or milk

Beat the butter with a wooden spoon until softened and lightened in colour. Add one third of the icing sugar, beating in well after each addition. Add the salt, vanilla bean paste and one tablespoon of cream at a time and keep beating until you have a smooth buttercream. Fill your piping bag and decorate your cupcakes as you please. I promise you, they’ll go down a treat!

Holiday brunch

No….reason….to….get….up….the best feeling in the world ever! Ok, so that’s not entirely true, there are four reasons to get up, even in the holidays! Theres only so long a movie can stave off the hunger pains! Good job I love the feeding part of my job!

French toast in a clementine sauce
The sauce
The zest of 6 clementines
The juice of 6 clementines (obviously use the ones you zested!)
3/4 cup orange juice
2 tbsp sugar
The segments of 3 clementines

The French toast
6 slices of white bread
3 eggs
1/2 cup of sugar
1 cup of milk

Start by making the sauce. In a pan, add the zest and juice of the clementines, orange juice and sugar. Reduce for about five minutes. Add the pieces of clementines and turn off.
Next make the French toast. Whisk up the eggs along with the sugar. Slowly whisk the milk into the eggs. Turn on a large frying pan to a medium heat. Add some butter to grease the pan. Hold the bread down in the egg mixture making sure it’s nicely soaked through. Make sure the pan is good and hot.(but not burning hot!) Cook the soaked bread, till it’s golden (for about three minutes) and turn and cook on the other side. You should feel some resistance when pressed when it’s cooked. Serve hot with the clementine sauce.

Thirty minutes to soup

One sick little girl, who doesn’t want mum to do anything but cuddle means not much is getting done today. Even Cinderella didn’t work, I tried to sneak off and make soup but just as I was sweating the onions I heard I little voice, “mum, I need you”. So, hoping for the best I threw everything in and turned it down to simmer and settled down to see Cinderella get the makeover of a lifetime and fall in love with the prince of her dreams.

smokey tomato and sweet potato soup
2 onions diced
3 garlic cloves crushed
2 large sweet potatoes chopped into cubes
500g passata
500ml chicken stock
500ml vegetable stock
2 tsp smoked paprika
Bunch of fresh thyme
Sweat the onions in olive oil till soft. Add the garlic and gently cook for a minute. Then add all the other ingredients and bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer for twenty minutes or until the sweet potato is soft. Take out the thyme stalk and blend the soup. If it’s a little thick add some water and don’t forget to season.