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February 22, 2015 / mintcustard

Chocolate cranberry oat bars

Chocolate cranberry oat bars.

Chocolate cranberry oat bars.

Apparently the biscuit tin is empty. It isn’t but the biscuits in there are “boring”. So I need to make something to keep the teen happy whilst she does some revision.

Something with oats for energy, fruit because I’m a mum and that’s what I do and chocolate as a treat. So these chocolate cranberry oat bars were born. I used orange juice to make the icing and perhaps next time might plump the cranberrys up with them before baking too. All round a fairly healthy treat. And at least the biscuit tin will be full for a few moments. This is a twist on one of my mum’s recipes so it is in old school measures, but I prefer it that way.

Chocolate cranberry oat bars

4oz Marg or butter

4 heaped tbsp flour (plain)

4 heaped tbsp oats

2 heaped tbsp sugar

1 heaped tbsp dried cranberries

1 dessert spn cocoa

pinch salt

Melt fat in saucepan, add sugar, flour, oats and cocoa.

Mix together, stir in the cranberries and press into greased or lined 6 x 12 tin.

Bake 15 to 20 mins, 350f 180c reg 4

Cool and make the icing


4 heaped tbsp icing sugar

1 dessert spoon cocoa.

Mix with neat orange juice, spread over the oat bars

Scatter with more dried cranberries.

Cut into squares when cold.

I think these would make an ideal traybake for a Red nose day bake sale.

February 21, 2015 / mintcustard

Tzatziki with warm lemon and garlic tortilla chips.

Tzatziki with home made tortilla chips

Tzatziki with home made tortilla chips

Recently I was really lucky to have Shelina Permalloo cook the most amazing dinner for me (and others) at a Sainsbury’s #loveyourfreezer event. Everything she made was wonderful but one of her dishes, one that was shown to us almost as an afterthought was so clever.

Home made tortilla chips. What really appealed was the fact that they are baked, you could control the flavourings and the salt and they only take a few minutes to make. Oh and they are seriously delicious. I had a small plateful of them for lunch with a bowl of tzatziki. A simple meal but full of flavour.

Tzatziki with warm lemon and garlic tortilla chips.

Tortilla chips ingredients

  • 1 ready made soft tortilla
  • 1 lemon zested
  • juice of half a lemon
  • 1 garlic clove grated
  • flavourless oil
  • salt
  • smoked paprika

Tzatziki ingredients

  • natural yogurt
  • cucumber diced
  • mint rolled and sliced (chiffonade!)
  • salt

How to

  • Preheat the oven to 220c .
  • In a bowl mix together the oil, zest and lemon juice. Leave to sit for a few minutes whilst you make the tzatziki.
  • The tzatziki ingredients simply need to be combined in a bowl The ratio of yogurt, cucumber and mint is up to you. I prefer lots of cucumber and enough yogurt to make a dip. Others prefer more yogurt and less mint. Play around until you find your favoured ratio.
  • Decide on your favoured ratio of tzatziki ingredients.

    Decide on your favoured ratio of tzatziki ingredients.

  • Take a fresh tortilla wrap, brush on both sides with the lemony garlic oil.
  • Cut into shards. One tortilla wrap should make at least 12 chips.
  • Cut into shards

    Cut into shards

  • Place the shards on a baking tray. Sprinkle with a little salt and paprika.
  • Bake for 5 to 7 minutes until crisp and golden.
  • Dip in the tzatziki and enjoy.

This can be adpted so many ways, add lime to the oil and cayenne for a spicier chip. Plain or just salted for a nibble whilst watching a movie. You could even make them salty and sweet if you really want to.

February 16, 2015 / mintcustard

Lemon and garlic infused turkey burgers.

Lemon and garlic turkey butgers with home made bun!

Lemon and garlic turkey burgers with home made bun!

Half term gives me a chance to experiment a little more often. During term time I often rely on riffs on a familiar theme to ring the changes of an evening. Tonight however was a completely new recipe.

My husband is gearing up to run the London Marathon again this year and as such diet is important. Lean, protein rich meals on some days and carbohydrate rich ones on others. These lemon and garlic infused turkey burgers are wonderfully lean (4% fat)  and with careful cooking are not in the slightest bit dry. Turkey thigh mince is also very economical, so is another #FrugalFebruary meal.

Turkey can be a little bland but equally it soaks up any flavours you add to it like a sponge. Add in your own flavours too.

Lemon and garlic infused turkey burgers. (makes 4)

400g turkey mince

zest of a lemon

1 garlic clove minced finely or grated



a pinch or two of paprika

How to …..

  • Place the turkey mince into a non metallic bowl. Add in the other ingredients and combine well, use your hands if you can.
  • Divide into four pattys, lay on a plate, cover in cling film and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes so the mince firms up.
  • Heat a pan to medium heat, add a tiny amount or oil. Lightly dust the pattys with flour and place them gently into the pan. Cook them for 20 minutes over a gentle heat, turning regularly. When cooked through the juices will run clear.
  • Serve in a bun with plenty of crisp and crunchy salad.

I made the buns too but you don’t have to! As turkey takes upso many flavours these could be made in sage and onion varieties, chillified or however you wish.

February 14, 2015 / mintcustard

Shelina Permalloo’s Salt and chilli crab claws #loveyourfreezer

Salt and chilli crab claws

Salt and chilli crab claws

If someone asked you to come for a three course meal on a cold Thursday evening and you knew that many of the ingredients were coming straight out of the freezer you’d be forgiven for turning down such a ‘kind’ offer. Fortunately for me Shelina Permalloo, Masterchef champion 2012, was the one cooking the meal so I was more than happy to be fed frozen food.

Shelina sharing a magnificent crab claws recipe.

Shelina sharing a magnificent crab claws recipe.

You will have seen, if you follow Mintcustard, that I have been using more frozen ingredients in my own cooking. Chilli cheese fries and mediterranean roasted vegetable sausage rolls have both benefitted from a trip down the Sainsburys freezer aisles.

As a staunch advocate for the reduction of food waste I have mostly used my freezer to hold batch cooked meals, meat and vegetables bought at a discount or leftovers. As the mum of a student I have also reminded her that having vegetables in the freezer will help to save her money and fill her up too. Being a Bejam child I think frozen food scared me somewhat! Now I am beginning to see how much more versatile your freezer and frozen ingredients can be.

Canapes made using frozen ingredients.

Canapes made using frozen ingredients.

On the menu last Thursday were some delicious canapes, the most amazing salt and chilli crab claws, a long and lazy one pot chilli and a tart and fruity crumble.

Longand lazy chilli

Longand lazy chilli

Fruity crumble with some clotted cream.

Fruity crumble with some clotted cream.

The star dish of the night for me (and most others there) was those amazing crab claws. Luckily we were given the recipe and I’m sharing it with you now.

Salt and Chilli Stir Fry Crab

  • Serves 2
  • Preparation and cooking time: 20 minutes


  • 1tsp salt
  • 2tsp cracked black pepper
  • 1tsp five spice powder
  • 1tsp sugar
  • 500 ml vegetable oil, plus extra for pan frying (you can use sunflower oil for this)
  • Cooked Scottish Crab Claws, Taste the Difference, 380g by Sainsbury’s
  • 30g corn starch
  • 1 banana shallot finely diced
  • 1tbsp frozen chopped garlic by Sainsbury’s
  • 1tsp frozen chopped chilli by Sainsbury’s
  • 4 spring onions, sliced into long diagonal pieces
  • 1tbsp frozen coriander by Sainsbury’s
  • 2 lime, quartered

Allow the crab claws to defrost thoroughly before use and remove the crab meat from the claws before cooking. All other frozen ingredients can be used straight from the freezer.


  1. Dry roast the salt, pepper and Chinese five spice powder in a pan for 30 seconds. Remove the mixture from the pan and allow to cool before adding the sugar. Set aside in a small bowl
  2. In a deep frying pan or wok, bring the oil to 180°C (be careful when using hot oil, keep away from children and do not leave unattended). Dust the crab meat with corn flour and fry two at a time to keep the oil at a consistent temperature and fry for just 1 minute. Once cooked, remove the crab meat from the oil and place directly onto a kitchen paper to absorb the excess oil. Repeat with the remaining meat until they are all cooked and set to one side
  3. Bring a wok to a high heat, add a little of the oil used when deep frying the crab meat and add the banana shallots, garlic and chilli and cook until fragrant. Now add the cooked crab meat and sprinkle with the salt, pepper and five spice mix whilst tossing in the pan. Finally add the spring onion and the frozen coriander
  4. Remove from the wok and serve on a bed of lettuce leaves and segments of lime. Decorate with the washed crab claws for a bit of drama on the plate

Nutritional Information (per serving)

Kcals: 225

Fat (g): 11.5

Sat fat (g): 1.5

Protein (g): 1.1

Fibre (g): 1

Carbs (g): 20

Sugar (g): 5

Salt (g): 2.8



I was invited by Sainsburys to attend this event at Food at 52. I was not paid to attend and was not asked to write this blog post.

February 10, 2015 / mintcustard

Heart shaped cranberry sticky buns.


It’s nearly Valentine’s day, what’s a girl to do but bake bread! Heart shaped dinky little sticky buns to be precise. Have these for a breakfast treat, at elevensies or just because… The cranberries add that little fleck of red we have come to expect from Valentines day dishes.

Heart shaped cranberry sticky buns. (makes 8 to 10)


  • 250g strong white bread flour

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 25g light brown sugar

  • 7g fresh / dried yeast

  • 40g soft butter

  • 100 ml warm milk

  • 1 free-range egg

  • flavourless oil


  • 100g dried cranberries
  • 100g softened butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar

How to …

  • Place the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and crumble in the yeast. Rub in the butter until breadcrumbs in size.
  • Mix in the warm ilk and the egg. Combine with your hand into a wet dough. It will firm up as you knead.
  • Pop onto a work surface and knead for 10 minutes.
  • Place in an oiled bowl and cover with cling. Leave to rise for an hour and a half to two hours.
  • Flatten out the dough with your fingers into a rectangle, 12″ by 8″.
  • Cover with the softened butter, sugar and cranberries.


  • Start with each long edge fold in each side alternately until a heart shape tube is formed.
  • Cut into 2cm thick slices, place on parchment and leave to rise for another 40 minutes.


  • Heat the oven to 200c.
  • Bake for 10 minutes and then reduce the oven to 180c for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Cool and share.
Heart shaped cranberry sticky buns.

Heart shaped cranberry sticky buns.

February 8, 2015 / mintcustard

Red velvet love heart brownies.

Red velvet love heart brownies.

Red velvet love heart brownies.

It must be almost Valentines Day as the red velvet tide seems to be sweeping across the baking world once more. In the past I’ve made a hidden heart cake for my valentine. A big sparkly plate of shortbread appeared too. This year I’ve jumped aboard the bandwagon so it’s red velvet love heart brownies. Inspired by a beautiful tin of mini love hearts these were born.


Brownies are one of those recipes that so many people already do brilliantly so I used this Red Velvet Brownie Recipe. All I did was add the love hearts!

If you can get one of these beautiful tins of mini love hearts then do. I bought mine for about 2.50 in Waitrose. I used a mixture of mini love hearts and regular sized ones. I’ll be treasuring this tin too.

These brownies would be fantastic with a scoop of creme fraishe as a valentine dessert, but equally great shared with best friends over coffee.

Brownies with love hearts.

Brownies with love hearts.

Make the brownies as in the recipe. Five minutes before the end of cooking time press the love hearts randomly over the surface of the brownie. Some will sink in and others will be partly submerged.

Brownies, close up!

Brownies, close up!

February 7, 2015 / mintcustard

Hot buttered crumpets.

Hot buttered crumpets.

Hot buttered crumpets.

I always add a pack of crumpets into my shopping basket. Yes I do absolutely love them but let’s be honest, they are mostly used as a vehicle for shed loads of melted butter. In the past I have used my excess sourdough starter to make some wonderfully nutty pikelets but the other day I bought a pair of egg rings that i think will do brilliantly for crumpets.

Crumpets are astonishingly easy to make, take about an hour and a bit to get ready and then only five or six minutes cooking until they are ready to slather in butter. I’d suggest getting up, making the batter, going back to bed with the papers and then cooking them off with a cuppa later.

Crumpets – makes between 6 and 8 depending on how thick you make them.

1/2 pint milk.

8oz flour

7g dried yeast or thumb sized piece of fresh yeast.

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

butter to grease the rings and the pan.

How to……

  • Warm the milk, remove from the heat. Whisk in the sugar and yeast. Leave until foaming and activated.
  • In a large bowl sift the floue and stir in the salt and baking powder.
  • Using a wooden spoon beat the yeast liquid into the flour.
  • Cover and leave in a warm place for an hour until the batter is bubbling.
Bubbling batter.

Bubbling batter.

  • Heat a pan, skillet or griddle. Lightly grease the crumpet rings and put a dot of butter in the bottom of the ring.
  • Fill each ring two thirds full and cook gently for 5 minutes. Turn the crumpet over and cook on the other side for a minute more.
Crumpets on the griddle.

Crumpets on the griddle.

  • Remove from the pan, drown in butter and indulge yourself!

Tea Time Treats Linky Party

I am linking this post up to Tea Time Treats Feb 2015. Tea Time Treats are being hosted this month by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and also by The Hedgecombers. The theme this month is toast, on toast and toasties. I hope this counts as a toasted item!

February 2, 2015 / mintcustard

Basic loaf of bread #frugalFebruary

Basic white loaf.

Basic white loaf.

There is very little that smells more wonderful than a loaf of freshly baked bread. Even if you buy a more costly flour a fresh loaf of bread made at home should cost no more than 80p. Buy buying the more basic bread flour you can pay much less. With the addition of water, salt, a little sugar and yeast, magic happens. Yes you do need a little time, but if you plan to bake a loaf when you cook the evening meal perhaps you don’t really need much more for fuel to cook the loaf.

Couldn't wait!

Couldn’t wait!

Once you have mastered the basic loaf, the world is your oyster. Suddenly cinnamon buns, pizza bases, fougasse, tear and share loaves and the occasional brioche arrive at your table more often and certainly cheaper and tastier than the factory made versions.


500g strong bread flour

330ml warm water

1 tsp sugar

1 tsp fresh yeast or 7g dried yeast

25g butter or 1 tbsp oil

1 tsp salt

How to…

  • In a jug combine the warm water, yeast and sugar. Leave for 15 minutes until the yeast bubbles and begins to live again!
  • In a large roomy bowl place the flour, salt and rub in the butter or stir in the oil.
  • Add in the yeasty liquid and using your hands bring the whole lot together as a dough. Tip the dough out onto a worksurface and knead for 10 minutes. Do not cheat, put on a timer and think how much money you are savoing on gym fees!
  • Place back into an oiled bowl cover with a shower cap, humour me it is more suatainable than always using cling film!
  • Leave in a warm place unitl doubled in size, this will take between 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
  • Give the dough a thump, deflate the dough and shape into your prefered loaf shape. Google and YouTube helps here!
  • Leave to rise again for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 220c.
  • Bake for 25 minutes until golden and crusty. To check tap the botom of the loaf, it should sound hollow.
  • Leave on a wire rack for as long as you are able, then devour with butter.

Please feel free to change the type of flour you use. Brown, stoneground, malted or a combination of any or all.

February 1, 2015 / mintcustard

Lemon and garlic stuffing – any roast any time


My family love to have stuffing with their roast, and what they mean by stuffing is Paxo sage and onion. Every time I pour boiling water on the dehydrated contents of a packet I wish they’d let me make something else, but they won’t. Or at least they hadn’t, until today. I took the bull by the horns and just got on with it. We had roast pork loin tonight but this stuffing would work well served with pork, chicken or even lamb. Made with slightly staleing bread it is economical too.

Lemon and garlic stuffing

150 g fresh breadcrumbs – I used and grated 2 thick sliced crusts.

1 garlic clove grated

2 tsp grated lemon rind

1 onion or 3 shallots chopped finely

50 g melted butter

splash of milk

salt and pepper

How to …

  • Preheat the oven to 220c
  • Into a large bowl grate the bread or pop the crusts into a processor and whizz.
  • Grate in the lemon rind. Do this over the bowl so the lemon oil is caught in the breadcrumbs too.
  • Melt the butter in a small saucepan. Add in the garlic and onion and cook gently until softened.
  • Combine the butter and onions with the bread crumbs. Season well.
  • If not quite sticking together add a little milk, 1 or 2 tbsp until more sticky.
  • Place in a buttered tin and bake for 20 minutes until crisp and delicious.

The family ate this and agreed albeit begrudgingly that this stuffing was actually rather tasty.


I am linking to the Credit Crunch Munch pages on Fuss Free Flavours and Fab Food 4 All, which is being hosted this month by Elizabeth’s Kitchen Diary.

February 1, 2015 / mintcustard

Peanut butter tiffin

Peanut butter tiffin

Peanut butter tiffin

This is my second attempt at posting this recipe. Epic fail the first time as my laptop got the hiccups and refused to save or upload anything. Had to resort to the universal fix of tuning the thing off and on again. Laptop cured but blog post lost.

I need to make something to feed the watchers of tonight’s Superbowl. Something American inspired but with ingredients I have to hand without an emergency flight across the pond. The teen suggested peanut butter tiffin so here we are.Very much like one huge Reece’s peanut butter cup. Oh my!




250g shortcake/digestive (cheap it says on the recipe I was given by my Mum!) biscuits

125g butter (melted)

1tbsp cocoa

1 tbsp golden syrup

1 big bar chocolate, milk or plain as you prefer, but I used leftover chocolate coins!

Leftover Christmas chocolate for covering the tiffin.

Leftover Christmas chocolate for covering the tiffin.

4 large dollops of peanut butter (smooth or crunchy)

7 x 7 square tin – buttered

How to …

  • In a mixing bowl, using the end of a rolling pin, crush the biscuits into crumbs. Don’t be a spoilsport and use a processor!
  • In a large saucepan melt the butter, cocoa and syrup together to make a sauce.
  • Pour the chocolate sauce onto the biscuit crumbs and combine thoroughly.
  • Tip the chocolaty rubble into a buttered tin and press down. Dollop on the peanut butter. Swirl into the crumbs making sure there are blobs still visible. Put into the fridge to set.
Swirled with peanut butter but as yet unset tiffin.

Swirled with peanut butter but as yet unset tiffin.

  • Once the tiffin is set melt the chocolate and pour over the biscuit base. Refrigerate once more until the chocolate is set. Cut into chunks and serve.

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