Sunday, 26 April 2015


April is a busy cake baking month for me with Arabella's birthday and party and Pascal's birthday. I am a big Betty Crocker fan and last year made Arabella this super easy cake. This year I used the vanilla cake mix but then made my own frosting from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook which Arabella had bought me for Christmas - she knows the way to my heart! I LOVE frosting and so made a good amount for a 9" cake to ice the middle, top and sides. I also decorated the cake with white chocolate fingers and haribo - you can never have enough sugar right?!

Ingredients for a 9" cake (or 36 cupcakes):

750g icing sugar, sifted
240g unsalted butter, at room temperature
75ml whole milk
6 drops of vanilla extract
A ribbon (optional)
3 packs of white chocolate fingers (optional)
2 big bags of haribo (optional)
A sponge cake (you can follow this cake recipe if you like or this one below)

Bake your cake and leave to cool on a wire rack.

Sift the icing sugar through a sieve into a bowl and add the butter.

Beat together with either a handheld electric whisk (which I used), or in a freestanding electric mixer with a paddle attachment, on a medium -slow speed until the mixture comes together and is well mixed. I put my apron on for this part as it can be pretty messy!!

Combine the milk and vanilla extract in a separate bowl and then add 2 tablespoons at a time to the butter and sugar, with the mixer on at a slow speed.

Once all the milk has been added, turn the mixture up to a high speed and beat continually for at least 5 minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy. You really need to put the effort in and "believe" - it suddenly does come together and the longer the frosting is beaten, the fluffier and lighter it becomes. Remember no pain no gain!

Spread on to the cake with a wide knife / spatula. The beauty of covering the cake with sweets and biscuits is that you don't need to be neat about it!

Don't forget to lick the bowl!

As soon as the icing is on the cake, stick on the chocolate fingers (you could use kit kats or anything similar). Don't wait around as they become difficult to stick - I had to go to 4 supermarkets halfway through as I ran out of fingers and white chocolate ones aren't that easy to buy - I ended up having to make the icing a little damp to prevent the fingers falling off!

Then top with as many sweets as possible!

And tie with a ribbon!

Voila!! I have to say I was very very proud of this cake - it not only looked fab but it tasted amazing too. This frosting is out of this world….unfortunately this cake is also a bit like pringles, once you start, you can't stop. This one is already nearly eaten after just 2 days and I am making another one for Friday. Pascal doesn't like sweets so his one will be covered in chocolates like munchies, maltesers and minstrels, reese's peanut butter cups, m&ms….my mouth is already watering at the thought!!

Friday, 24 April 2015


I really fancied going out for a pizza with Arabella tonight however I had bought the ingredients for this recipe so knew I had to cook them not waste them. I have wanted to try sweetcorn fritters for a while - I always eye them up on brunch menus but then I end up ordering Eggs Benedict as that is my all time favourite. I knew I therefore had to make them myself if I ever wanted to taste them….luckily Fay Ripley had a recipe in her latest book.

They were very quick to make - around 10 minutes to prepare and 15 minutes to cook.

Ingredients for 4 people:

350g sweetcorn
100g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
3 large eggs
3 salad onions finely chopped (I used one big continental onion)
10g fresh mint leaves, chopped
3 tbsp olive oil
500g halloumi
Hummus to serve (or sweet chilli sauce)

To make the batter, place the flour, baking powder, cumin and eggs together into a large bowl.

Whisk together until smooth.

Season and then add the salad onions, chopped mint and drained sweetcorn. Mix well.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large non stick frying pan and then ladle in half the mixture so you make 4 separate patties. This didn't quite work for me and I ended up with three!

Fry for 3 minutes on each side.

When they are ready, remove from the heat and keep warm while you cook the rest of the batter in another tablespoon of oil. I popped them in the oven under a low heat.

Whilst all the fritters are ready and warming, you need to fry the cheese.

Slice the halloumi into 12 slices and brush with the remaining oil. (I was cooking the recipe for just Arabella and I so only used half the ingredients).

In the same pan as before, fry the halloumi for a couple of minutes on each side.

Serve the sweetcorn fritters and halloumi with a big dollop of hummus or if you prefer a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce.

I have to say these surprised me. They turned out much better than I expected and went really well with the halloumi and hummus. I could definitely have done with a side of bacon or chorizo - that would have finished the dish off perfectly. Unfortunately Arabella was not a fan - she doesn't know why - she did love the halloumi though but no surprise there! 

One thing I like about this recipe is that it is very easy to cook for just one person and you would normally have most of the ingredients at home. A great brunch or lunch idea - I think a bit of a step up from a normal fry up!

Thursday, 23 April 2015


My daughter Arabella has far more interest in eating than cooking but sometimes I do try to encourage her to join in. Not all the time though as it makes cooking a much messier process!! She is the master of licking the spoon and so had a big job here.

This is super easy to make and a great recipe to do with children (or adults) - it takes 10 minutes to prepare but you do need to chill it for at least 2 hours or even overnight.

Ingredients for 14 squares (depending on the some of them)!

200g Galaxy chocolate, broken into pieces
100g Rice Krispies
2 tubes of Smarties

Line a baking tin / ceramic dish with baking paper. The one I used was around 26 x 20cm.

Slowly melt the chocolate in a glass bowl set over a pan of gently simmering water.

Take off the heat and add to the Rice Krispies.

Now Arabella's favourite part - licking the spoon!  Carefully mix together the krispies and chocolate - Arabella helped here too.

Pour into the dish / tin and gently smooth down the surface with the back of a large spoon so it fuses together.

Add smarties to the top (another job for Arabella) and then put in the fridge for at least 2 hours (longer if you like).

When completely cold and hard, cut into squares and tuck in.

So simple and easy yet so yum at the same time. Arabella enjoyed helping cook the squares and also eating them - as did I. We were chatting about maybe mixing it up next time and adding jelly beans or mini marshmallows or even melting mars bars over the top - my own personal favourite idea :-) 

Tuesday, 21 April 2015


Pascal doesn't like fish with pasta and so I thought I would take advantage of him being in France again and cook this prawn and pea pasta. It is a Jools Oliver recipe which I ripped out of a paper quite a while ago. I love Jamie Oliver's recipes however they always need so many ingredients - whereas this one uses items you will normally have in the cupboards / fridge / freezer which makes it super easy. I cooked it for 2 people however here are the ingredients for 4 people. It takes around 15 minutes in total to prepare and cook.

Ingredients for 4 people:

320g dried pasta shells
4 cloves of garlic
1 fresh red chilli (optional - I left this out)
Olive oil
200g frozen peeled fresh prawns (I didn't use frozen and it didn't matter)
200g frozen peas
1 heaped tbsp tomato puree
50g Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta in a large pan of boiling salted water according to the packet instructions. Mine took 13 minutes.

Meanwhile peel and finely slice the garlic and deseed and finely chop the chilli if you are using one. Put them both in a large frying pan over a medium heat with a good glug of olive oil.

Fry until lightly golden - around 5 minutes - and then add the peas.

Then immediately add the prawns and tomato puree and a couple of tablespoons of boiling cooking water from the pasta.

Simmer slowly on a low heat until the pasta is ready.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain it, but reserve a couple of tablespoons of the cooking water.

Season the sauce generously, then add to the pasta and toss together with the grated Parmesan.

Divide between bowls and serve immediately.

This was much better than I expected - I didn't expect it to have much favour as the only sauce is the tomato puree and cooking water and it looked pretty watery but it actually works well. You definitely need to season though. I am pleased that the recipe recommends using cheese with shellfish - I always remember having a seafood risotto at La Famiglia in Chelsea several years ago and the waiter refused to let me have any Parmesan as Italians say they don't go together….I certainly don't agree! Arabella would have this again but she would prefer to use salmon or tuna….apparently the only prawns she likes are the crispy prawns at the Chinese restaurant at the Sofitel in Gatwick…..well at least I know now! 

This dish was super quick and easy to make and is great for a last minute lunch or dinner.

Monday, 20 April 2015


Pascal and I went to Benihana's a few years ago and loved it however always found it a bit expensive. However as it had been a while, we decided to go there on Saturday night for our weekly date night.

Benihana's is a Japanese steakhouse and sushi restaurant which opened in 1964 and has outposts all over the world. What makes Benihana's special is that every table has its own private chef.  Each table seats 8 people so be warned you will be sitting with strangers - Pascal completely forgot that part as he hates communal tables!! Thank goodness due to the way the tables are shaped, you don't feel on top of the other diners.

The menu has many different options. If you are a piglet like Pascal and I, you will probably want to order some sushi or sashimi or nigiri for starter - we obviously chose this option. However you do not really need to, because when you order your main course it automatically comes with soup, salad, an appetiser, rice, vegetables and your chosen main.

We started off by sharing a yakitori chicken (Pascal's favourite), spider maki rolls (my favourite) and California maki rolls.

The rolls were really good - there are meant to be six in the top picture but I was so busy eating I forgot to take a photo! The chicken was flavoursome and very tender. As I said we didn't actually need to order these as we had other starters as well.

Firstly a Japanese onion soup which tasted better than it looked - especially the little fried onions at the bottom.

Then we had prawns with onions and courgettes. The chef expertly cooked these in front of us and showed little tricks such as flicking the prawn tails into the air and catching them in his hat or making a volcano out of the onions. Very impressive and amusing to watch!

Then we had a salad - I am not sure what the dressing is but it tasted quite nice.

We chose the hibachi rice which is egg fried rice with vegetables and slightly sticky. This was, without a doubt the best rice I have ever had. I was eating with chop sticks but wishing I had a shovel as I couldn't get it in my mouth quick enough!!

Pascal and I both chose the tuna with pickled ginger and teriyaki sauce. I was tempted by the black cod and the Chateaubriand but I knew the chef would cook the tuna perfectly rare and I wasn't disappointed. It was incredible.

This was served with hibachi vegetables.

By this point I was so full but extremely satisfied with my meal. Unfortunately there was no room for pudding which was a shame as I had my eye on the tempura ice cream….whatever that is!

Overall I think Benihana's is a great place for a fun night out - the way the chefs cook is really entertaining and the restaurant has a fun, buzzy atmosphere. I am really keen to bring Arabella there as I am sure she will love it. It is expensive though and while the food is good, it isn't a patch on Kurobuta, but I think you come here mainly for the experience and thanks to the fantastic chefs, you won't leave disappointed.

Benihana Chelsea

77 Kings Road
Tel: 020 7376 7799

Square Meal  
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