Eat well - travel often

Month: July 2012

A Quick Lunch

A Quick Lunch

A quick and easy lunch – cold waxy new potatoes, cut up tomato, shreds of extra sharp cheddar cheese, salt and pepper, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic reduction and corriander chopped. Mix well and serve with a slice of last night’s cold meatloaf. […]

My Winning Cake Recipe

My Winning Cake Recipe

I recently won a cake baking competition run by RussellHobbs and here is the recipe:- Chocolate Macadamia Nut Sponge Cake with a Maple Caramel Filling and Dark Chocolate Buttercream Icing Preheat oven to 180C – Bake 25-30 mins Sponge:- 175g Self Raising flour 50g Cocoa […]

RussellHobbs Cake Bake Competition

RussellHobbs Cake Bake Competition

And the winner is …… ME!!  I was invited to enter a competition sponsored by RussellHobbs recently to create a themed cake using their new Creations Food Machine.  I had never entered a compeition where I baked anything before which made this one all the more scary. 

New Creations Food Machine

First of all RussellHobbs asked their Facebook followers to vote for the flavour the bloggers would use.  The choices were Chocolate, Lemon, Coffee and Strawberry.  Unsurprisingly Chocolate won.  We were each given a category to bake a cake and mine was ‘Celebration Birthday Cake’.  I am generally a competitive person once I say I will take part in something so the first thing was to sit down and plan the actual cake, filling and icing.  I decided to make my cake a Chocolate and Macadamia Nut Sponge with a Maple Caramel Filling and a Dark Chocolate Buttercream Icing!

Maple Caramel Filling using My Secret Kitchen Maple Caramel Sauce

We were sent a new and still unreleased Creations Food Machine to use to make our cakes and invited to bring the finished creation up to a London hotel for champagne and cake.  When the food machine arrived I set out to do a trial cake to get to know the machine and to make sure the recipe would work.  The first sponge I made was from the recipe book of a well known cooking celebrity and was so dry that it broke up when trying to put it on a plate!

The second attempt was not dry but didn’t rise very well so I was quite nervous when starting the third attempt.  I opened a fresh bag of Self Raising Flour and double sifted it to make sure the final cake would be light and airy. The only other difference to the third cake was that instead of creaming the butter and sugar, adding the eggs one at a time etc, etc, I followed the instructions in the booklet which accompanied the Food Machine!  It directs you to put all the ingredients into the Food Machine and turn it on. Three minutes later pour the mixture into your two prepared cake tins.  I did this and the cake came out moist and well risen.

2nd vs 3rd attempt!
When the cake was finished I took it up to the competition in London.  Upon arrival we were offered a glass of Prosecco and put our entries on the counter top.  They all looked so good there was no way anyone could predict which one would win.  The Judges introduced themselves and then we introduced our blogs and told them a bit about our entries.

The Line-up
Judges tasted, keeping silent as they went along the line and making copious notes. Then whilst the judges went off to confir and decide on the winner we all got to try each other’s offerings and drink some more Prosecco.  When the judges came back they gave a quick summing up of their notes on each entry and I was impressed how they gave their critiques without giving any hints to the winner.  The entries were judged on taste, smell, texture, overall look.


I have never baked a cake for a competition before so you can imagine how gobsmacked I was when I was the winner!

The Final Cake – let the judging commence!!
My prizes for winning have started to arrive with the rest due on Monday!

My Inspirations!

My Inspirations!

I often read Dominic Frank’s blog Belleau Kitchen but usually too late to enter his ‘random recipes’ competition.  This month however, it is a little different.  Take a photo of your cookbook collection and tell a little story about them. I have an extensive collection […]

Bacon, Tomato & Parmesan Pasta Shells

Bacon, Tomato & Parmesan Pasta Shells

I am entering a competition to win a week in a Tuscan Villa which requires a Tuscan inspired recipe and must include olive oil, parmesan cheese and tomatoes. This is my quick mid week supper pasta which uses all three of those ingredients. “I want […]

Luigi's Oil Soap

Luigi's Oil Soap

Some time ago I wrote about Luigi’s Oil and recently they have added an olive oil soap to the range. The have no nasties in them. One has a delicate flower fragrance and the other clear one is unscented.

The both leave your skin fresh and feeling soft and moisturised.

For details and to purchase contact

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 3

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 3

Finally on my Total Greek Yoghurt day with Chef Paul Merrett we started the main course in our groups. The first tease was preparing the spices.  As we roasted and ground the collection of spices, including fennel seeds, chilli flakes, cunim seeds, corriander seeds, cinnamon […]

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 2

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 2

Welcome to Part 2 of my account of a great time spent with Total Greek Yoghurt and Chef Paul Merrett. Now our cake for pudding was in the oven so we proceeded to make our starter Fresh and Smoked Salmon Rillette with Wholemeal Toast.  We […]

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 1

1000 Ways to Love Your Total Greek Yoghurt – Part 1

Total Greek Yoghurt has a new campaign designed to inform readers about the 1000 new recipes and ways to use and love their yoghurt.  Based on this campaign they invited a group of food bloggers up to London for a day cooking recipes using Total Greek Yoghurt under the guidance of Chef Paul Merrett. We arrived at La Cucina Caldesi off Marlebone Lane,

When I arrived Paul Merrett came over and said hello right away (unlike some celeb chefs who pretty much keep to themselves!) and he was very warm and welcoming and gave us a quick run down of the session and off we wsent to settle in at out workstation.

Chef Paul Merrett gave us a quick idea of the agenda for the session
Finishing touches on the panna cotta
As soon as we arrived we were given a quick snack of Panna Cotta made with Total Greek Yoghurt (TGY) which was absolutely devine.  I am not a breakfast eater as a general rule so this was a very welcome offering mid-morning.

Greek Yoghurt and Vanilla Panna Cotta with Raspberries

We were split into groups and told that we would be cooking the lunch of three courses.  First of all we prepared and made the Semolina Sponge Cake with Almonds, Hazelnuts, Greek Yoghurt and Honey. We prepared the cake first because it would take about 1 hour to bake and we could get on with other preparations in the meantime.

Ready to go in the oven

All four groups baked their cakes together

A few minutes to cool then pour over the syrup

Ready to serve

Just checking the middle is cooked

Served with a drizzle of honey and a dollop of yoghurt

Semolina Sponge Cake with Almonds, Hazelnuts, Greek
Yoghurt and Honey

Serves 8


the Sponge Cake

120g TOTAL
Classic Greek Yoghurt


golden caster sugar

4 eggs

self-raising flour

Zest of
1 orange and 1 lemon (keep separate)

ground almonds

ground hazelnuts


tablespoons of poppy seeds (plus 1 tablespoon extra for the top of the cake)

the syrup

of 1 orange and 1 lemon


golden caster sugar


1 tablespoon
orange blossom water


A blob
of TOTAL Classic Greek Yoghurt



Pre heat the oven
to 175°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3.

Grease the baking

Beat the butter
and sugar until it is pale yellow and creamy.

Beat in the eggs
one at a time.

Now chuck in the
flour, zest, ground nuts, semolina, Greek yoghurt and poppy seeds.

Stir everything
up well and spoon in to your greased baking case.

Bake for about 1
hour but check after 45 minutes – the sponge will be golden brown and springy
when cooked.

Put the cooked
cake to one side to cool slightly and make the syrup.

To make the syrup
place all the ingredients in a pan and bring to a boil.

10.  Allow the syrup mixture to reduce by at least half.

11.  Using a fork dot holes across the surface of the cake
and then pour over the syrup, sprinkle with the extra poppy seeds.

12.  Serve with Greek yoghurt and a trickle of honey.

Next we proceeded to make the starter – but I will talk about that in part 2! See you there.

Blue Diamond Almond Breakfast

Blue Diamond Almond Breakfast

As part of a challenge set by Blue Diamond Almonds the California almond people I made ‘Blueberry and Almond Pancakes’ for breakfast this morning. I was sent a litre of Blue Diamond Almond Breeze almond milk to use to make a breakfast for myself and […]