Category Light bites

Panzanella: arguably one of the finest salads in the world!

Great food does not need to be at all complicated or time-consuming. Sometimes the combination of humble ingredients can become something quite majestic. A panzanella is a case in point and it is certainly one of the easiest and best salads you can have. Taking literally seconds to throw together, it is a celebration of […]

Spiced crunchy chickpeas

This is a seriously great snack and is particularly ideal to eat on its own, with drinks or to add to salads in place of croutons. These chickpeas are ridiculously moreish: I can eat a whole batch of these quite happily! Flavour all the way! Crunchy chickpeas are certainly nothing new, and recipes abound online. […]

Tomato and basil English muffins

This my savoury twist on classic English breakfast muffins: these are wonderful toasted and liberally buttered: the butter has to be liberal, and low-fat spreads and the like do not do justice to these muffins! The dough is flavoured with sun-dried tomatoes, for that amazing umami kick, and fresh basil. Together with the soft, pillowy dough, […]

Easy beetroot, goats’ cheese & walnut tart

This is a very simple tart that is great eaten either hot or cold and is, for me, tart that can be enjoyed at any time of the year, although it is one of my “go to” summer bakes. It can be assembled in minutes so that is is merely a matter of baking the […]

20-minute sourdough flatbreads

These flatbreads are so easy, so quick and so good with whatever dip or cheese is to hand. You can make a batch within about 20 minutes, including the baking, even going at a fairly sedate pace. The joy of these flatbreads is you simply take some sourdough starter (I use some of the starter […]

1-minute smoked mackerel pâté!

This is an incredibly quick but insanely good smoked mackerel pâté, and one I have been making for many many years. It helps to buy the smoked mackerel already boned, but you literally just mix it all together to give the most delicious pâté. The pâté is delightfully coarse, unashamedly rustic, but for a fish pâté […]

Pea and ham filo bites

This is a such a simple bake, and is ideal using left-over ham at Christmas and bits and bobs lurking around: frozen peas, a dollop of chutney and mustard……The actual proportions are only a guideline, so add more or less depending on what you have to hand. It can be made even speedier using bought […]

Whole ham with chilli, marmalade and rum glaze

I adore hams, not just around Christmas and the New Year, but at any time of the year. Ham is wonderful eaten hot as the key component of a roast dinner, but for me it is at its best when sliced (thickly!) and served with some good bread, cheese, pickled shallots and a few chutneys: […]

Quick & easy Cherry, walnut & maple syrup pastries

These are very quick and easy treats: small sweet pastries that are crisp, buttery and wonderfully sticky: quite fabulous served with coffee or tea! Measurements not essential here! For pastries such as these, whether sweet or savoury, I confess that I do not measure out the filling ingredients; I just sprinkle over enough to give a light covering […]

Luxury orange shortbread mince pies with a macaroon topping

I usually prefer to make mince pies using shortbread dough rather than pastry: it makes them more special than a standard pastry mince pie and it is really no harder to make. Besides, Christmas would not be Christmas without shortbread! And whenever I have made these mince pies, they have gone very quickly. These are also easy […]

Herby sausage rolls

A return to sausage rolls: one of my favourite savoury bites, both to make and to eat. Seriously, a good sausage roll should bring a smile to one’s face and have a very moreish quality: one should never be enough! A far cry from those mass-produced affairs you can buy from high street chain bakeries that […]

Simple fennel breadsticks – focaccia-style

These are very easy breadsticks to make. They taste wonderful and a large batch can be made at a fraction of the cost of shop-bought breadsticks! Perfect with any dip, although I have photographed these breadsticks with baba ghanoush, that wonderfully smokey aubergine dip (recipe here). I have used quite a lot of water in […]

Blowtorch baba ghanoush

Baba ghanoush is one of my favourite dips and is hands-down the best use of aubergines for me. It it great with crunchy fresh vegetables or breadsticks and the like to dip into it. I used the terrific Andrew James Chef’s Blowtorch to do the bulk of the work: the charring of the vegetables – […]

Beef & ale Cornish pasties

Having not made pasties in a long while, I felt it time to make a batch. With this recipe I made a few tweaks to the classic pasty for personal preference: the pastry: I have gone for rough-puff pastry, but this time with the inclusion of a little lard as part of the fat content […]

Spiced lamb & pistachio rolls with spiced pastry

I am such a fan of sausage rolls; with a well-flavoured filling and light, melt-in-the-mouth pastry, they never fail to give me a feeling of total satisfaction when eating them! Sadly sausage rolls are much-abused in my opinion, especially most of the commercial ones which are often little more than cheap meat and dry, tasteless pastry. Ever since […]

English breakfast muffins

Updated Feb 2017: new photos of the muffins Perfect sliced, toasted and buttered, English muffins (well, “muffins” to those of us brought up in the UK!) are very simple to make and require very little attention. And as with most home-made breads, they taste so much better than any you can buy – and for […]

The new Andrew James Chef’s blowtorch: product review

I am a huge fan of kitchen gadgets, but with any prospective gadget, I always try to weight up if it is likely to get used only a few times before being relegated to the back of a cupboard (joining the popcorn maker, milk frother and various others I have amassed over the years….!) However, […]

Roasted cauliflower, onion & potato soup: Secret Recipe Club

For this month’s assignment with the Secret Recipe Club, I was delighted to have been allocated Laura’s wonderful Mother Would Know blog from which to choose a recipe. Laura had been assigned my blog for last month’s SRC reveal, and I have delved into her blog several times in the past, but it was a particular joy […]

Easy seeded flatbreads with sun-dried tomato hummus

Two incredibly simple things to make that go so well together: a really perfect dip to share as a snack, a starter, part of a picnic…….. The hummus is made in seconds and will keep for a few days, covered, in the fridge. The bread can also me made in advance and frozen if preferred: […]

Quick and easy chicken, peach & Feta salad

This very simple and very low-fat salad is made in moments and is an immensely satisfying dish in its own right, not to mention being one of the nicest salads you can eat. And while this is a healthy salad, it doesn’t taste healthy – a bonus in my book! The salad is packed with […]

The simplest asparagus & chicken tart

This is a very simple tart using what is the last of this year’s allotment asparagus, the rest of some chicken breasts I had gently poached for another dish and some general left-over bits and pieces. I always have a stash of all-butter puff pastry in the freezer for quick bakes such as these and […]

Spiced chicken & asparagus with a fresh courgette & carrot salad

These are two very simple and quick dishes that go so well together: a spicy chicken stir-fry with a refreshing, full-flavoured vegetable salad. They are also very low-fat, as well as being gluten-free. Now I love indulgent food (in moderation) and I really loathe the sort of healthier food that is in any way boring, tasteless and/or insubstantial. […]

Bruschetta: when simplicity reigns!

Bruschetta is one of those things that cannot fail to put a smile on my face when I eat it. Perfect as a starter, served with barbeque food or just as a light bite at any time of the day, one slice is never enough. Bruschetta is a very quick and easy to make: as […]

Spiced prawn and crab spring rolls

This is my version of spring rolls, using some left-over filo pastry I had made for another bake and ingredients that I adore to eat. The rolls are very easy to make and a large batch can be made up and frozen until you want to cook them. The filling carries a hefty wallop of […]

Easy ham, cheese & mustard croissant whirls

Although an unembellished home-made croissant is a truly wonderful thing to eat, savoury variations excite me hugely! This version, using cheese, ham and mustard as the key flavours, is my favourite savoury one by far : simple flavours that make these light, crisp pastries ridiculously addictive to eat, whether served cold or warm. Ham and cheese! Black Forest ham […]

A sous-vide duck egg brunch!

This was a totally fuss-free brunch: freshly made sourdough (toasted), crispy pancetta and a slowly cooked duck egg, with a few fresh chives snipped over the top. A nice walk while the eggs were gently cooking in their water bath, returning to a perfectly cooked egg epitomises relaxed bliss! Sous-vide at home! I used the […]

Orange & vanilla rum babas

Surely it is time for a full-on revival of these fabulous 1970s dessert trolley staples? Rum babas should have a beautifully light texture, a rich buttery flavour and a real adult kick of indulgence from the rum. They are, I think, a winning end to any meal, a great sweet treat as part of an Afternoon Tea […]

Hot-smoked salmon & horseradish tart (low-fat)

This is a very simple, low-fat tart using hot-smoked salmon: one of my favourite ways of eating salmon! With its rich, deep, smoky flavour a little goes a long way: about 200g of the salmon will make this tart, with generous chunks of salmon in each bite. Very little is needed in the filling with […]

Warm crab choux bites

This is my version of a canapé I had in a restaurant ages ago. These are simple, but highly effective little savoury bites: light choux pastry, flavoured subtly with cheese and mustard, and filled with a simple fresh white crab meat sauce. I use mayonnaise in the filling so that as the choux heat up, […]

The easiest & quickest smoked mackerel pâté in the world!

This is an insanely simple and almost instant smoked mackerel pâté that is seriously big on flavour – perfect spread liberally on hot toast or eaten with a baguette as part of a light snack. The pickled gherkins are quite wonderful in here and really lift the pâté somewhat: I tend use use the sliced […]

Mini ginger Kouign-Amann

If you have never heard of, or eaten Kouign-Amann pastries before, think crisp bites of buttery, caramelised croissant…..wonderful as an occasional treat! I have posted about the fabulous Kouign-Amann pastries before and from time to time I like to make variations. Given that it is hard to buy good Kouign-Amann in the UK (mind you, even indifferent […]

Baking Heaven Magazine

Baking Heaven Magazine is a terrific baking magazine: each issue has such a wide range of stunning recipes and baking tips from a variety of inspiring bakers. Perfect to thumb through and drool at the pictures, but I defy you not to get out the scales and get baking! It was, therefore, an honour to […]

Mustard & caramelised onion sausage rolls

A slight variation on one of my favourite savoury bakes, sausage rolls. See earlier post for the main recipe: The very best sausage rolls…. I used a quick mustard rough-puff pastry here, going for just 2 “turns”: for this, increase the mustard powder in the dough to 4 teaspoons, which will give a nice kick among the […]

Cheese & onion sourdough crumpets

These particular crumpets arose from an idea that came to me late one night – as is often the way! While I adore crumpets that are toasted and eaten with butter and jam (surely one of life’s foodie pleasures?), I love savoury flavours, and so a batch of cheese and onion crumpets called out loudly to […]

Easy sourdough crumpets

I am of the belief that a hot crumpet, slathered with butter, perhaps with some excellent quality jam, is one of life’s greatest foodie pleasures. These are very simple crumpets, that are also relatively quick to make if you have an active sourdough starter: a batch can be made in about an hour. If you […]

Rough-puff pastry & other laminated pastries

Introduction The differences between rough-puff and puff pastries Types of turn: book & envelope Flavour additions to the pastry Top tips for laminated pastry Recipe for rough-puff pastry (with photographs of each stage) Introduction I have always been excited by laminated pastries ie) rich, buttery and light pastries with many wafer-thin layers; the process of […]

Chorizo & fennel sausage rolls in a spiced rough-puff pastry

Updated April 2016: variation using fennel powder in the pastry and the filling. Rather than go for full-on chorizo sausages encased in pastry I added some finely chopped chorizo to the sausagemeat filling that I always use for my sausage rolls. Now I love chorizo, but not in hefty quantities you would have if you just […]

Sun-dried Tomato & cheese scones

This is another savoury twist on the wonderful sweet scones that are traditionally served with clotted cream and strawberry jam. The dough for these particular scones is flavoured with sun-dried tomatoes and a little mature Cheddar. These are ideal split and topped with a fresh herbed cream cheese (chopped basil is wonderful!) and home-made chutney or chilli jam. […]

The simplest, quickest sourdough flatbreads in about 20 minutes!

When you feed a sourdough starter, you discard some of the starter so that you can top the remaining starter with more water and flour: that way you get a fairly constant volume of starter rather than having litres of it in many containers all over the place! Waste-not, want-not! The discarding always seems something of a waste, […]

Savoury macarons: smoked salmon & horseradish

When it comes to the list of my food pleasures, smoked salmon on sliced brioche with a thin spreading of caper butter is up there near the top: the smoky saltiness of the salmon, the sweet butteriness of the brioche and the slightly tart capers make for a perfect partnership. These macarons are my bite-sized version […]

Earl Grey scones with raspberry curd

In this post I have given two recipes: one for the scones and another for the raspberry curd. A little bit of Afternoon Tea in each bite, these light scones are easy to make and even easier to eat! Eaten with clotted cream and a good fruit curd these scones will, I am sure, not […]

Spiced smoked haddock scones

Try to imagine me screaming from the rooftops that you absolutely must try this recipe: I am so proud of it and I really do think they need making and devouring. This is my twist on scotch eggs, but varied somewhat to incorporate a kedgeree flavour: spiced haddock is wrapped around soft-boiled quail eggs, before being […]

Mince pies with pistachio Viennese biscuit topping

I do like to take a humble mince pie to a level that is so much more than what commercially is usually just indifferent pastry with a fairly non-descript filling. So I often vary things a little so that the mince pie is that bit more special. I first had a mince pie with a […]

Stilton, pear & piccalilli pork pies

This one of my favourite pork pies and it goes down especially well at Christmas: pear, Stilton and piccalilli are so good for each other anyhow as part of a cheese board or light snack, and they work particularly wonderfully in a pie with a crisp, melt-in-the-mouth pastry. A pork pie confession! Growing up near […]

Fool-proof bagels

Post updated: February 2017 – additional photos Even though bread making is one of my favourite things in baking, I have only made bagels a couple of times. Now, I adore them with cream cheese and smoked salmon,  but just toasted and buttered (and it really must be butter!) is a joy for me! It is something of a […]

Roasted onion, chorizo & Parmesan focaccia

I have posted several focaccia recipes on this blog, and while I make my roasted garlic focaccia many times more than any other flavour, I do like to play around a little. This time, I used ingredients lurking around in the fridge and the larder! Slowly roasted onions or shallots, with their delicious sweetness, salty […]

Coronation chicken vol-au-vents

While vol-au-vents are wonderfully retro, using Coronation Chicken as a filling makes them even more so! But Coronation Chicken is such a great thing to eat…… I had made a large amount of puff pastry and then used some of it to make many vol-au-vent cases for this and other fillings: the technique for making vol-au-vent cases […]

Scotch pies

While I make pork pies a fair bit, I have never made scotch pies, and I had only ever eaten them once – decades ago! However, having eaten a wonderful one very recently I decided I had missed out. My scotch pies might not be traditional in that I used some lamb gravy left over […]

Spiced smoked haddock vol-au-vents

Vol-au-vents never fail to excite me when I eat them!  For me they have always been absolute must as part of a buffet. I am such a fan of them that at my Civil Partnership, one of the food centrepieces involved vol-au-vents, with many different fillings. I have been making these kedgeree-style vol-au vents for years and they […]

Mini savoury doughnuts with a red pepper chutney filling

When it comes to sweet doughnuts, my penchant is for those near-spherical doughnuts that are dusted with caster sugar and filled with fresh jam: ideally strawberry jam for me but I would hardly turn down any jam if it is in a doughnut! However, a savoury doughnut is a great thing eat; it needs to be […]