So, brownies: overdone? maybe. Well I'm quite particular when it comes to brownies; not too soggy, not too dry, crispy edge etc. So, where better to turn than trusty Nigel Slater for a recipe. He gets this kind of thing. And I can safely say he gets it right again. This is where I'm going to turn for brownies from now on.

• 300g Caster Sugar
• 250g Butter
• 250g Dark Chocolate
• 3 Eggs & 1 Yolk
• 60g Plain flour
• 60g Cocoa Powder
• Half teaspoon Baking Powder

• Preheat oven to 180°C and line a 22cm square tin.
• Beat butter and sugar together throughly.
• Break the chocolate up and melt 200g of it, set aside to cool slightly. Chop the remaining.
• Gradually beat in the eggs into the butter and sugar, then mix in all the chocolate.
• Fold in the sifted dry ingredients, then pour into the tin.
• Bake for 30 minutes until slightly risen and a skewer comes out slightly less than clean. Cool before cutting up.
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Turkey Rogan Josh...

...or The Best Curry I've ever made.

Please excuse the superlative title of this post. But it was really rather good.

I was aiming for a Rogan Josh style curry, and wanted a slow cook to maximise meat tenderness and flavour. The result was perfectly tender turkey chunks (yes not your obvious curry meat, but cheap and very tasty so give it a try) in a rich, silky, tomato-based sauce. The effort required was minimal. All round the ideal meal really.

Being a curry the list of ingredients is as long as your arm, but it's mostly spices and I reckon you can just give it a bash with whatever you've got in.

• 600g diced Turkey Thigh
• 2 tbsp Plain Flour
• 1 Onion
• 2 tsp Ghee (or Oil)
• 3 tsp minced Ginger & Garlic paste
• 1 tsp Cumin seeds
• 1 tsp Fenugreek Seeds
• 1 tsp Mustard Seeds
• 1 tsp ground Turmeric
• 4 tsp Curry Powder
• ½ tsp Chilli Powder
• 1 x 400g tin Chopped Tomatoes
• 250ml Passata
• 250ml Beef stock

• Pre-heat your oven to 140-150°C.

The bit with all the flavour (10 mins)
• Heat the ghee in a large pan.
• Add the onion (chop half finely, the other half into thin slices/chunks) and begin to sweat over a medium to low heat.
• Add the ginger/garlic paste and the seeds to the pan and continue to cook on medium.
• When the onions have sweated down nicely, add the powedered spices and cook for anothe rminute or two until you have a pan full of flavourful paste/onions.
• Transfer to a casserole dish.

The meat (5 mins)
• Turn the pan up and if it's looking dry add a little oil.
• Coat your meat in the flour and add to the pan to sear/brown the outsides (may need two batches, dont crowd the pan).
• Transfer to the casserole and stir into the pastey mix.

The sauce (1 min)
• Make up the stock (I used half a stock cube)
• Pour the tomatoes and passata over the meat with the stock and stir together. (it should just about cover the meat)

Cooking (2-3 hours)
• Cover the dish tightly with foil and/or a lid if it has one.
• Place in the oven and wait.
• Check around 2 hours, if you're in, that it hasn't completely reduced or dried out (not likely, but add some liquid if so).
• After about 3 hours reomve from the oven and serve as traditional with rice and naan, and anything else you usually have with your curries (I made a quick chickpea dhal to go with this one)

(Serves 2 heartily, or 3 with plenty of sides)

• You can add some veg to the dish too if you like, I've done it with red pepper chopped up and thrown in.
• Curries don't photograph well!

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Welsh Cakes...

Well, St. David's day is approaching, so it seems a good time to put these on the blog.

I had always been told you couldn't make good Welsh Cakes without a cast iron griddle, but thought it was worth a go anyway. Turns out it was. I'm sure they could be slightly improved on a griddle but with some patience in the heaviest pan you've got it's worth a go.

In case you don't know, which if you don't live in Wales you might not, Welsh Cakes are similar to a fruit scone but rolled flatter and cooked on a griddle rather than in the oven. They tend to be a bit moister too, dusted with sugar and really moreish.

For something like this you can rely on Delia, so that's where I turned for a simple recipe.

• 8oz Self-Raising Flour
• 4oz Butter
• 3oz Mixed Dried Fruit/Sultanas
• 3oz Caster Sugar
• 1 Egg
• half-teaspoon Mixed Spice

• Sift the flour, 2oz sugar and spice together and then mix in the fruit.
• Rub in the butter until it resembles breadcrumbs.
• Beat the egg and slowly mix in, drawing the dry mix in to the centre, to form a smooth dough. You can add a small splash of milk if it's a bit crumbly, but not too much as you don't want it sticky.
• Roll out on a floured surface to about 5mm thick, cut into rounds.
• Heat a heavy frying pan (or griddle) on a medium heat, with a little oil rubbed over it to grease.
• When the pan's hot, put 3 or 4 of the rounds in and cook gently for about 3 minutes each side. They'll slightly puff up, but you'll barely notice it.
• Keep an eye on them as you don't want them charred (although some people prefer that in Wales), when they're done, pop them out, toss in the remaining sugar and cool on a rack.

(Makes at least 20. When you get on a roll, you can have some cooking, whilst you roll and cut the others)

• Done-ness is up to you. I like to keep the centre still slightly moist, but some people will like it more thoroughly cooked. Whatever happens each will be a bit different as the pan will vary in temperature, their thicknesses will be different and you'll probably not time the cooking to the second.
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Turkey Burgers...

This is currently on our mid-week meal repertoire. It's so simple, quick, cheap and really tasty; all you need in the week really. We sometimes have a pack of rolls in the freezer to put them in, but they're just as good open with chips on the side.

This is a bit of a 'bodge it' type recipe idea, but here's the rough basis of what I use.
• 350g pack Turkey Mince
• 1 Egg
• 1 slice bread, breadcrumbed
• quarter Onion, finely chopped
• Sprinkling of chopped something* for extra flavour
• Salt & Pepper

* the 'chopped something' is either some parsley/chives if there's any in, some finely chopped spring onion green tops (keep this in the freezer to add to all sorts of things), chilli, even a spoonful of mustard if none of them are available; it's completely up to you.

• Place all in bowl together and mix into a smooth paste (with hands is easiest).
• Shape in to small burger shaped patties.
• Fry in a little oil gently for about 4 or 5 minutes each side until golden brown and cooked through.

(Makes about 6)
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Flan Pâtissier...

Every time we’ve been to France recently there’s been some irrational obsession and anticipation about having a slice of ‘flan’. This is usually followed by the inevitable, equally irrational over-eating of said ‘flan’. In an attempt to meet this need the rest of the year, I have done some searching for the ‘flan’ recipe online, but with only that one word to go on, the results were variable. Then I spotted this box of flan mix in a French supermarket, which surely was going to be the answer to our need for flan the year round. It was worth a gamble for €1.15.

As it happens, when we got it home I realised that the box simply contains cornflour, vanilla flavouring and colouring. You have to add milk, sugar and, if you want to improve the flavour, an egg (On that note, make sure you add the sugar – long story); so really we already had everything we needed in the cupboard.

It was obvious really, but now I know it’s called Flan Pâtissier as I’ve seen it on the box, and a quick google reveals loads of authentic, egg-based recipes I can try, so look out for flan version 2 in the future.

• Line a fairly deep tart tin or cake tin with a rich shortcrust pastry, and bake blind so the pastry is cooked before adding the filling
• Beat the egg, sugar, 250ml of milk and the packet mix together in a bowl/jug
• Meanwhile bring the rest of the milk to the boil slowly, stirring all the time so it doesnt catch.
• When it has boiled, por it over the egg mixture and stir together thoroughly
• Return to the pan and simmer for 1-2 minutes until the custard begins to thicken up
• Pour into the crust and bake for around 40 minutes at 180°C until the crust is well browned.
• Cool for at least 2 hours in the fridge before slicing and serving.

• A rich pastry can be made quickly by combining 8oz of plain flour, with 3oz of butter to resemble breadcrumbs. Then bind the mixture with an egg and a little milk. It can be sweetened with 2 or 3 spoons of icing sugar.
• Curiously the box recipe does not call for pastry, but says you can butter the dish and dust with flour. This does work, and it holds together fine, but really you want pastry!
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Peanut Butter & White Choc Brownies...

This is one of a few things that I made for my birthday. These mini brownies (or blondies) were ideal to take into work to share around. For us it was a given that we'd like them, peanut butter being something of a favourite. To me, the end result is not so much like a brownie, but is a very tasty, dense mini cake with the perfect contrast of salty and sweet from the peanut butter and white chocolate respectively. Moreish.

• Cream the butter, peanut butter and sugar together. Beat in the egg and vanilla essence.
• Sift the flour and baking powders and add to the mixture with the chocolate chipe to form a dough.
• Spread into a square tin and bake at 170°C for 25 minutes until golden brown.
• Cool in the tin before slicing.

• Taken from
Rachel Allen's Bake
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Apple & Almond Cake...

I made this cake as we were desperate for some cake but had no butter in. So I started trawling recipes for something that could be baked without it and came across this recipe, then played about with it a bit. Mainly changing it from rhubarb to apple. The cake is light and tasty. The apples add a nice moist element and the crunchy topping finishes it off perfectly. I think there's plenty of scope here for development or customisation if you fancy. It's handy to have a tasty non-butter based cake recipe you can call on when needed.

• Beat the brown sugar, oil, egg and vanilla essence together.
• Gradually add the flour, bicarbonate of soda and milk to this mixture, until smooth.
• Stir in the apple, pour into a tin.
• Combine caster sugar with a tablespoon of melted butter (I used oil as obviously had no butter) and stir in the flaked almonds.
• Sprinkle this over the top of the cake then bake for 30 minutes in a preheated oven (180°C).
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Viennese Whirls...

I recently decided to 'resurrect' these biscuits. They follow a family recipe of my aunt's and I'd not had them for years.

Forget Mr. Kipling's, and make your own very quickly and very easily. These are seriously simple, but so tasty.

• Preheat oven to 150°C
• In a food processor (or by hand) mix 6 oz butter and 2 oz icing sugar until creamy.
• Blend in 6 oz self raising flour and 2 oz custard powder.
• Spoon into small teaspoon-sized blobs onto a baking sheet and press down with a fork to flatten/pattern (or use a piping bag for a swirl if you'd prefer a true 'whirl').
• Bake for 10-15 minutes until slightly golden.
• Leave to cool for around half an hour.

• Beat together butter and icing sugar (about a 1:4 ratio) until creamy.
• Spread generous blob of icing on a biscuit.
• Spoon a little jam onto the centre of that and sandwich another biscuit on top.
• To finish dust with a little icing sugar.

• If you dont have custard powder you can also use a mixture of cornflour, vanilla essence and yellow colouring as this what custard powder is made from anyway.
• If the jam is quite sticky, blast it in the microwave for 10 seconds or so to loosen up.
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Soda Bread...

Continuing the slight takeover, I also did not lend my hand to this bread. This recipe is from Rachel Allen and is quick, simple and tatsy too. We tucked into this with a homemade soup, I think it ws leek & potato.

450g Plain Flour
1 tsp Caster Sugar
1 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
1 tsp Salt
350-425ml Buttermilk/Sour Milk (we used Sour cream, thinned with milk)

• Preheat the oven to 230°C.
• Sift the dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
• Pour in the sour cream and mix together with your fingertips (don't knead) to form a soft dough.
• Turn out onto a surface, pat into a round and mark a deep cross on top.
• Place on a tray and bake for 15 minutes before turning down the heat to 200°C and cooking for a further 30 minutes.
• Cool on a rack.
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We've been wondering how I've had this blog going for the best part of a year and not yet posted this recipe? It's one of my family signature snacks, so it was always going to end up on here. The truth is that I think I simply hadn't made it in that time; you might say it was taking a bit of a break, but this time it certainly came back with a bang. One of the best batches ever made.

There are tonnes of chocolate and bicuit based fridge-set traybake (just 'traybake' for short) recipes out there, they all offer something slightly different. I've experimented with various additions and quantities in developing this over the years and settled roughly at the recipe you'll see below. It's a development of my Grandma's recipe, which has been a staple at many a family get together and always eagerly looked forward to. You can muck around with it, but please (for mine and my Grandma's sake) don't switch the biscuits for Ginger Nuts and don't add marshmallows. That's not traybake.

...well, go on muck around if you must. That's what baking's about, but keep it quiet.

• Melt the butter and chocolate in a pan over a very low heat. Keep an eye on it, stirring often.
• Meanwhile, crush the biscuits and hazelnuts in a mixing bowl with the end of a rolling pin. You want a good variety of biscuit piece sizes, ranging from around 1p coins to dust. If you want my opinion it's best at around 25% larger pieces, the remainder as dust. You just need to crack the hazelnuts.
• Add the fruit and coconut to the bowl and stir through.
• Drizzle the condensed milk over the mix then pour in the chocolate and stir thoroughly.
• Press down flat in a 20 x 20cm tray lined with baking paper and refrigerate until set.
• When it is set, cut into squares or if you want, melt a further 4oz of chocolate and spread over the top and set before cutting.

• The condensed milk is a 397ml can so you want about 200ml. It keeps for a week or so (maybe longer??) in a container in the fridge so you can make another batch.
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Nan Bread...

I didn't make these, but rather my lovely wife did as she embarked upon making bread for the first time. We topped with some toasted mustard and cumin seeds before baking (That's as much as I got involved) to complete the Indian flavour.

1 tbsp Caster Sugar
200ml Warm Water
7g sachet fast acting Yeast
300g Strong White Flour
200g Plain Flour
1 tsp Salt
125ml Natural Yoghurt
40g Melted Ghee
Various Seeds

• Mix sugar, water and yeast together (leave to stand for 5 minutes if not fast-acting yeast)
• Mix the flour, salt and yeast mixture together in a separate bowl.
• Whisk the yoghurt and ghee together.
• Combine all ingredients together to form a dough.
• Knead for 10 minutes, place in a oiled bowl coating the dough in oil then cover and leave in a warm place for 1-3 hours.
• Place a tray in the oven and preheat for 15 minutes to 230°C.
• Punch down the risen dough, knead for 2 minutes more then leave aside for 15 minutes.
• Divide into 8 balls, shape/stretch into teardrops (leave the other balls covered when not working with them).
• Place on the baking try, dampen the top and sprinkle with seeds.
• Bake for 4-5 minutes. (optional - you can brush with melted ghee when cooked).
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Bacon Gratin Pie...

Sometimes you need to branch out at dinner time and try something different. In this case, dream up something different. It was far from perfect and needs some development to make it really work but a general success and pretty tasty. Anyway, it's something you can work with as an idea. It's just a puff pastry sheet with a tasty filling topped with sliced potato and cheese. In this one I fried up onions, garlic, leeks and smoked bacon to make a filling, topped it with sliced boiled potatoes and cheese and carefully poured over a little beaten egg and milk mixture then baked it for about 30 minutes at 200°C.

The result is something of a cross between a pie, a gratin and a fritata. A welcome break from the norm.
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Hazelnut Cake...

This cake is divine. I saw it and wanted it immediately. But... we didn't have enought hazelnuts so had to wait. It's taken directly from Rachel Allen's Bake, with no modification besides the decorating (although i found it more practical to do things in a different order). There's no flour, just ground hazelnuts so the end result is moist, whilst the whipped egg whites keep it light. Sorry this photo is so boring, it doesn't to the cake justice really (see it in a different guise) but believe me* it tastes good.

• 200g Hazelnuts
• 1 tsp Baking Powder
• 1 tsp Cinnamon
• 100g Butter
• 5 Eggs, separated
• 175g Caster Sugar
• 1 tsp Vanilla Essence

• Preheat oven to 170°C and line a tin with baking paper.
• Grind the hazelnuts on the food processor until finely ground; blend in the baking powder, cinnamon and butter to a coarse paste.
• In a bowl, whisk the egg whites thoroughly until you have stiff peaks.
• In another bowl, beat the egg yolks and sugar together until moussey, then add the hazelnut mixture.
• Fold the whites into the hazelnut mix in 3 stages.
• Pour into the tin and bake for 55-60 minutes until the edges are coming away from the pan.
• It is suggested you don't open the oven during cooking until close to the end of the time.
• Cool for approximately 10 minutes in the tin before turning out to cool fully.
• Decorate with a little buttercream icing and chopped hazelnuts.

* Don't take my word for it. I made this for a cake competition and came away with 'Best Tasting'.
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Grandma's Fruit Loaf...

This recipe of my Grandma's produces you a lovely moist, yet light fruit loaf with a subtle caramel/malt-y flavour. It's the ultimate fruit loaf. Well, if Grandma makes it that is. If anyone else tries you end up with something acceptable, but the magic isn't quite there. This is my latest attempt and was pretty decent considering I didn't have the 'secret' ingredient in.

The original recipe is for 2 loaves, which is why I accidentally photographed 2 eggs.

• Melt butter, sugar and half a cup of water in a pan over a medium heat.
• Add the fruit and leave to cool.
• Combine flour and nuts with 2 tablespoons of Horlicks (secret ingredient), then fold in the flour and the egg (beaten).
• Bake for about 1 hour at 150-160°C. You may want to cover the top half way so the fruit doesn't burn.

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Coriander Fish Fingers...

A few weeks ago we had a big 5-course family meal (for 11) where each of us contributed one course to the evening. We chose the fish course. Then begun the challenge of finding something to make. We wanted something simple, tasty and light enough to leave room for the other courses. We ended up with a bit of a cross between something we'd seen on Jamie's Fish Suppers and a recipe in Nigel Slater's The 30-Minute Cook ('An Indian way with a fish fillet'). The result was very tasty and simple to put together. I'm sure we'll have them again some time.

750g White Fish
Large Handful Coriander
2 Garlic Cloves
1 inch Green Chilli
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
5 tbsp Yoghurt
4 slices Breadcrumbs

• Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, place in a roasting dish with a little oil and dust with paprika and cumin (or whatever takes your fancy). Place in the oven at 200°C to cook whilst you prepare the fish fingers.
• Blitz the coriander, garlic, and chilli with two tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
• Prepare the fish (scale, bone etc.) and cut into inch-thick fingers accross the fillet.
• Dip each fillet in yoghurt, then cover in about a teaspoon on coriander paste and finally roll in breadcrumbs.
• Fry the fish fingers gently for about 4 minutes each side until firm and golden brown.
• Serve with the chips and some mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice and capers.
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