Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

Sprinkle saucers – best ever birthday party biscuits

I wrote about these sprinkle saucers back in 2012 and love them as much six years on (looking back in our archive, was a wake-up call as to how long we’ve been blogging for) as I do now. The recipe is adapted from the wonderful Outsider Tart cookbook (just as inventive as their beautiful Chiswick cake shop, which is far too close to my home for comfort. Their brownies are irresistible) and are so easy to make we decided to make a film about them here – although apologies in advance for the horrific clash of my floral top and Claire’s patterned tiles. Sartorial mayhem aside, baking them on film was really just an excuse to make them again and one of their many fine attributes – along with the shortness of the biscuit and the genius of smothering them in sprinkles before cooking – is that you can make the dough way in advance, store it in the fridge meaning you are never more than 20 or so minutes from a biscuit. Lethal....
Children’s birthday party special…. piggy rolls

Children’s birthday party special…. piggy rolls

If hosting a children’s party brings you out in a nervous rash then let us be your Calamine lotion, because this month we have four party recipes guaranteed to bring a smile on the face of little people whilst not leaving you on the floor. The first is these sweet little piggy rolls. They are a fabulous centrepiece and easy enough for little people to make too.  Put a plate of these on your party table and there will be lots of ooohhing and ahhhing. Serve with plates of ham and cucumber and cheese and children can make their own rolls, leaving you to get surreptitiously stuck in to the hula hoops. If you want to take things up a notch then with the – clean! – palm of your hand squash those little meatballs (available in most supermarkets) in to the shape of burgers, fry and serve in the rolls with ketchup. If you were feeling really fancy you could do pulled pork to continue the piggy theme, but chances are if you have lots of little people coming over, you will want to keep it as simple as possible. So in our birthday party special, over the next few weeks, we have recipes and videos for sprinkle saucer biscuits, Claire’s failsafe chocolate birthday cake, pimped up rice crispy cakes and fruit kebabs, just so you can pretend to other parents that you care about their children’s vitamin C intake. If that is still not enough, then  here is a chapter on children’s parties in our cookbook – (available here!) – including my fabulous –even if I do say so...
Cottage pie served in a baked potato

Cottage pie served in a baked potato

Cottage pie is one of my all time favourite meals, cooked religiously by my mum for every one of my birthdays since I was knee-high. It only came to the end when I discovered the joys of  sirloin steak and chips – a massive treat back then in our house. Now, I still love it and thought I knew all there was about it until the Children’s Food Trust – a fabulous organisation who are encouraging the whole nation to cook cottage pie for tea next weekend – asked me to cook cottage pie served in a jacket potato skin. Yes stuffing a potato with cottage pie. Genius. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of this culinary pairing sooner. R-A-D-I-C-A-L. Some people think that making a cottage pie is a faff as there are a few stages (making the mince, boiling the spuds, mashing them) well this will make them think again. I bulk cook sauce for either cottage pie or just to have with rice a couple of times a month (see here for the recipe) and freeze what I don’t need, so this for me is a very simple week night supper. I simply defrost the sauce, bake the potatoes, scoop out the flesh and mash them with butter, pepper, salt and cheese, spoon in some sauce, top with the mash and pop under a hot grill until sizzling. ...
Mini cheddars – not the snack, but a car game

Mini cheddars – not the snack, but a car game

We’ve all been there – the interminable car journey. The Friday night traffic on the M25. The whining children. The spilt drinks. The sticky seats. The barking dog. The husband who refuses to ask for directions. The endless games of I-spy. We’ve never had DVDs or TVs in the car as in our over-stimulated world, I think a good dose of boredom now and then is a good thing, but sometimes when we have exhausted our limited repertoire of games and audiobooks, I sometimes turn up the music, to zone out the bickering. My friend, Victoria, introduced me to a fabulous new car game at the weekend, which made a car journey back from Norfolk fly by. It is called Mini Cheddar and is suitable for anyone from 4 – 80. Very simply, every time you see a Mini you shout “MINI!” and every time you see a yellow car you shout “CHEDDAR”. The jackpot is obviously spotting a yellow Mini, when you shout “MINI CHEDDAR.” Very loudly. It’s brilliant fun. Trust me. Although the fact that I’m the only one in my family to spot one so far may mean I am biased. I am still riding high – albeit hoarse-throated – from the thrill. With the Easter holidays upon us, how do you pass the time on long car journeys? Have you ever played Mini Cheddar? We have a great selection of on-the-go recipes here – perfect for long journeys and away...
Rice pudding with lemon and bay leaf

Rice pudding with lemon and bay leaf

One of my earliest memories was sitting in a tent in the Isle of Wight on a cold rainy British summer holiday, eating a bowl of tinned rice pudding.  It was the first time I had tried it and I remember the sense of anticipation as my mum heated it on the camping stove and served it with a bright red blob of strawberry jam in the middle. I wasn’t disappointed and remember how satisfying it was stirring in the jam until the white of the rice slowly pinkened.  Food punctuates many of my childhood memories (cottage pie for birthdays, chocolate fudge pudding for special occasions, sticky buns from the bakery at the end of my granny’s road every Sunday morning) and even now 30-odd years later I can remember the excitement I felt as mum dolloped out the jam and allowed me to eat it on my lap – a holiday treat. So I have great nostalgia for rice pudding although these days it is less likely to be eaten with jam but made with coconut milk and passion fruit or cardamom. The spice makers Schwartz want people to get more adventurous with their spices and asked me to do a collaboration with them and make a pudding with bay leaves. Luckily, I already am a fan of it in with sweet things. For example, when baking plums with red wine and honey I always add bay for aromatic depth of flavor. It also works well in custard or instead of vanilla when roasting rhubarb. It is traditionally used in rice pudding along with cinnamon and nutmeg. Who knew? Certainly not...