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October 7, 2016 / mintcustard

Homemade garlic dough ball knots.


Homemade garlic dough ball knots. Drenched in garlic parsley butter.

I have yet to meet anyone who can resist a plate of garlic dough balls. As ever I thought it must be very simple to make your own, with the added benefit of making your own garlic butter means you don’t need  to worry about running out before the last dough ball is dipped.

I tossed all the dough balls in the garlic butter rather than dipping and munching but it is up to you to choose a method of getting the butter and dough balls together! One other change I made was to make the dough pieces into knots, easier to pull apart and they give more soft fluffy interior to dip in the butter.

Homemade garlic dough ball knots. – makes 12


200g strong white bread flour

1/2 tsp sugar

2 tsp olive oil

good pinch of salt

1/2 tsp dried yeast

4 fl oz warm water

salted butter, garlic and parsley for the garlic butter.

How to…..

  • In a jug mix together the water, sugar and dried yeast. Allow to sit for 15 minutes until the yeast begins to foam.
  • In a large bowl tip the flour, salt and olive oil. Pour in the yeast and water.
  • Mix well to combine.
  • Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for 10 minutes until smooth and the dough feels springy.
  • Place in clean lightly oiled bowl. Cover the bowl with cling film and leave the dough until doubled in size (approx 1 to 1.5 hours).
  • Once risen Preheat the oven to 220c.
  • Slide the dough out from the bowl. Pat into a rectangle and cut the dough into 12 equal pieces.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  • Roll the dough into a sausage shape and tie the dough into a knot.
  • Place on the baking sheet and allow to rest again for 15 minutes.
  • Bake for 10 minutes until golden.
  • Mix together 50g of softened butter, garlic and parsley. If you want more then make more.
  • I tossed the hot dough balls in the butter until the butter coated the dough ball knots, if you prefer to dip then dip.
October 5, 2016 / mintcustard

Fudge topped mocha marble loaf.


Fudge topped mocha marble loaf.

Fudge topped mocha marble loaf

2 eggs weighed

same weight of flour

same weight of butter

same weight of self raising flour

same weight of caster sugar

1/2 shot of espresso – cooled

1 tbsp cocoa in 2 tbsp warm water


50 g butter

1/2 shot espresso

200 g icing sugar

How to

  • Preheat the oven to 180c
  • Line a 450g or 1 lb tin with a loaf tin liner or parchment paper.
  • Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time. If the mixture splits add in a tbsp of the flour at this point.
  • Fold in the flour and baking powder until well combined.
  • Divide the mixture into two.Stir in the espresso to one half and the cocoa mixture to the other.
  • Place alternate spoons of mixture in the tin, swirl together with a skewer and bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin.
  • Leave to cool in the tin.
  • Make the icing.
  • Melt the butter in saucepan with the 1/2 shot of espresso and remove from the heat.
  • Beat in the icing sugar a little at a time to prevent lumps and until the icing reaches a thick fudgy but pour-able consistency. Depending on the temperature in the kitchen this may take a little more icing sugar or a little less.
  • Smooth onto the cooled cake, mark the lines using the tines of your fork.
  • Try a test piece with a cup of tea. Fill up your cake tin with the rest.


October 2, 2016 / mintcustard

Simple pommes dauphinoise.


It really doesn’t matter what their age, when your children return home for a day or so you want to spoil them a little (or a lot!). Older one came back for a night recently and I asked her what she’d like. Her reply? Pommes dauphinoise. I really didn’t have the time to poach the potato slices in an infused cream and layer up the slices into a pretty pattern, however I did want to bring a smile to Older’s face.

I did slice the potatoes finely, I also carefully mashed the garlic down to a puree with sea salt flakes and I left out the onion as she doesn’t particularly like onion. I am a soft touch!

Preheat the oven to 160c.

The key to my lazy method is choosing potatoes designed for mashing – I used desiree. I took a deep gratin dish and buttered it well. I scattered the bottom with a generous pinch of salt and grind of black pepper. Half the pureed garlic clove was added at this point too. I sliced the potatoes about the thickness of a pound coin and placed a layer into the base of the dish. Again a generous scatter or salt and ground black pepper, the remaining garlic puree and a few dots or butter. Another layer of potato slices, seasoning and then enough cream to just cover the spuds. A few more dots of butter and some seasoning, just to finish off the dish.

Cover the dish with foil and bake for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake for a further 15 minutes.

Allow to cool a little and then serve great big piles of the stuff. Great as an accompaniment to roasts, casseroles or just on it’s own out of the gratin dish with a spoon and a box set. A hot alternative to a tub of ice cream when you need some comfort in your life.


September 30, 2016 / mintcustard

Pickled spiralized vegetables, with a little help from Sarsons.


Pickled spiralized vegetables.

I have always loved pickles. Onions and gherkins are flavours inextricably linked to my South London childhood. Recently I’ve been experimenting with pickling a wider variety of vegetables. Pickled turnips and another childhood favourite, bread and butter pickles can be found lurking in Kilner jars in my fridge.


Earlier this week I had the opportunity to get myself into more of a pickle during a preserving evening hosted by Sarsons. Alongside many friends old and new we set to tasting and creating four different pickles. We each chose a pickle to make, with the added bonus that we could take a jar of them back home with us.

Having tried the pickled cucumber, pickled garlic, pickled peppers and the Vietnamese pickled vegetables I decided to help out on the Vietnamese pickled station. Made with Sarsons new Speciality Pickling blend white wine vinegar, the most taxing part of the whole process was chopping the vegetables.

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Spending the evening chopping, laughing and generally making puns about pickling set me to thinking how I could preserve even more at home. Having been very kindly given a Kilner jar and some of the new Sarsons pickling blend vinegar as a gift when we left the pickling event I had no excuse.

My love of bread and butter pickles and the amazing favours in the Vietnamese pickled vegetables inspired me. I decided to combine the two. By adding mustard seeds, chilli flakes and sugar to the vinegar I gained the heat and sweetness I love and by spiralizing the vegetables the result is easy to eat and downright pretty too.


Spiralized carrot, courgette and mooli, waiting to be pickled.

Pickled spiralized vegetables.

1 large courgette – spiralized

1 large carrot – spiralized

15 cm piece of Mooli – spiralized

1/2 white onion finely sliced

300 ml Sarsons specialist pickling blend vinegar

2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp chilli flakes

140 g caster sugar

1 1L preserving jar

How to …….

  • Sterilise your jar. Kilner have step by step help here on their website to assist you.
  • Spiralize each vegetable (except the onion) and keep the vegetables separate.
  • In a saucepan heat together the vinegar, spices and sugar until the sugar dissolves.
  • Remove the jar from the oven and allow to cool a little.
  • Layer the vegetables into the jar. Ladle in the vinegar.
  • Allow to cool a little more, seal and place in the fridge for a week or so before eating.

If you would like to make some pickles of your own then the Sarsons website has many recipes. Sarsons and Sainsburys have teamed up and have a promotion on both Sarsons’ products and Kilner jars too.

I was invited to the Sarsons event, I was not paid nor was I asked to write a positive blog post. I was given a selection of Sarsons products to take away with me from the event.

September 25, 2016 / mintcustard

Making simple sushi for lunch and a panda onigiri just for fun.


Home made sushi and panda onigiri.

Taking a packed lunch to work everyday has many benefits. It’s cheap, it’s customised exactly to your tastes and in my case means I have to take a break to eat it. The downside is that every evening (or morning if I’m not organised) I have to ring the changes.

One way I have managed this is by making my own sushi. It might not be as beautiful as those you can buy but it doesn’t fall apart. Made with fillings that I enjoy, eaten with chopsticks and drizzled with a little soy sauce, sushi is my ideal lunch.


Lunch box filled with sushi.

You could go to a class to learn how to make sushi or you can learn very easily by watching videos on YouTube.

It took me a little while to get the rice right. Sushi rice needs to be washed, washed and washed again until the water runs clear. I didn’t do this as thoroughly as I should have to begin with and this was my downfall. I use a rice cooker but the same applies if steamed in a pan. Once cooked the sushi rice needs to be dressed. The amount of dressing below is for the rice that is made from one cup of uncooked sushi rice.

Sushi su

4 dsp rice wine vinegar

2 dsp sugar

1 dsp mirin

  • Mix the three ingredients together and warm in a saucepan until the sugar has dissolved. Stir gently into the warm rice and stir once to combine.

One cup of uncooked sushi rice is sufficient to cover two whole sheets of nori, making two sets of sushi rolls. Favourite fillings here are salmon, tuna, avocado, cucumber, peppers and sesame seeds. Wasabi is as addictive as chilli so you must add a little, or in my case, a lot. Covering your sushi mat with a tight wrap of cling film prevent the sesame seeds from getting trapped in the bamboo slats.


Panda onigiri kit. Rice ball press and nori shape cutter.

Once I had mastered sushi rolls then my googling and trawling of YouTube led me to make nigiri (small blocks of rice with fish or vegetables on top) and rather splendidly onigiri. The only person I have to please with my bento box is me but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t have a little fun. You can buy sets to make shaped rice balls and with the cutters supplied you can add features to make pandas, cats and even Hello Kitty characters. Well, it has to be done.

Add to your lunch box a small pot of soy sauce, some pickled ginger and pair of chopsticks and sushi is a brilliant addition to your lunch box repertoire.

September 24, 2016 / mintcustard

Hand made ramen with three broths.


Soy sauce based ramen soup.

Japanese tastes and flavours have been cropping up in my kitchen on a regular basis recently.I have been making my own sushi as well as using matcha as an additional flavour in my baking. How wonderful then to be asked to join a ramen class at the Sozai Cookery school in Aldgate. 


Miso based ramen soup, with minced pork.

I have to confess I have eaten only two forms of ramen. One from a large chain restaurant and the other in a pot that gets covered in boiling water (!) I’ll hand back my food blogger accreditation as I get my coat……


Char sui pork resting before being sliced and slid onto our ramen.

During my evening at Sozai I was introduced to soy based ramen soup served with char shu pork and ramen eggs, miso based soup with minced pork and a dressing for cold ramen noodles too. Added to this a recipe for chicken stock soup and the chance to make hand made ramen noodles too. Not only did I come away from the event with recipes, my stomach was full too as we ate the ramens and sauces we had made for supper too. I need to thank Akemi Yokoyama for both her patience and her constant explanations, anecdotes and asides. She is a fantastic teacher and made the time fly.

Using pressure cookers to speed up the cooking process fascinated and terrified me in equal measure. This cooking method did allow us to see the cooking of the char shu pork from beginning to end. A wonderful byproduct of char shu pork are the ramen eggs. Infused with the soy and pork flavours but still runny in the middle they were the reason all the cameras and phones came out at once to record the moment they were cut in half. Given that there was a room of food bloggers there, that must tell you how fabulous the moment was.

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Despite the fact that ramen are rarely made at home, they were surprisingly simple. Baking is chemistry and so it seems is noodle making. With the correct amounts of flour, water and bicarbonate of soda, a little cornflour and a pasta machine you CAN make ramen simply and easily. I certainly will be making them again – soon.

Sourcing good quality authentic products can sometimes make cooking world foods tricky but Yutaka provided Sozai Cookery school, myself and my fellow bloggers with great ingredients for our ramen lesson and some to take away with us. I use Yutaka rice when making sushi at home myself so was immensely pleased to find out that they have so many other products  for me to use too.


Yutaka products we used in our ramen lesson.

I was invited to participate in this event via the Ladies in Blogging group. I was not asked to write a positive blog post. I was not paid to attend and all photographs and words are my own.

September 10, 2016 / mintcustard

Sesame and soy dipping sauce.


Sesame and soy dipping sauce and salad dressing.

Whenever I treat myself to Yo Sushi or Wagamama, one of my favourite dishes is a salad. Don’t worry I always add a dish of chilli squid to accompany it. The dressing has a tang of sesame that is so creamy and compliments the vegetables so well. I decided to have a try at making my own version, but it morphed into a dipping sauce as I had a big plate of vegetables cut up, ready to munch on as I cooked. If you want to make it into a salad dressing a splash or two of water to thin down the sauce would work well.

Sesame and soy dipping sauce.


1 dsp tahini

1 dsp roasted and ground sesame seeds

4 tsp soy sauce

2 tsp mirin

2 tsp rice wine vinegar

1 tsp sugar

How to …..

  • In a dry pan heat the sesame seeds until they turn a light golden brown. Watch them like a hawk, they will burn if you take your eyes off them at all.
  • Using a mortar and pestle crush the sesame seeds.
  • In a bowl combine all the ingredients together well. Tahini will take a while to mix in but give it a moment and it will.
  • Chop vegetables and dip.
  • As I said if you want this to be used as a dressing for a salad then thin it out with a little water.

You could heat this up a little with some chilli. You could use flakes or fresh chopped chilli.

September 3, 2016 / mintcustard

Spiced pork meatballs in peanut satay sauce.


Spiced pork meatballs and peanut satay sauce.

As I dished this up yesterday the teen said, “so basically this is spaghetti and meatballs but with noodles and satay sauce”. She is right, it is. These pork meatballs are pimped with Asian flavours and drenched in peanut satay sauce. Served with egg noodles this makes a simple and quick weekday meal that rings the changes a little.

Spiced pork meatballs in peanut satay sauce. Makes approx 15 meatballs



500g lean pork mince

1 tsp lime zest

1 tsp freshly grated ginger

1 glove garlic grated

1 red chilli finely chopped (seeds in or out, you choose)

1 tbsp dark soy sauce

1 jar satay sauce.

How to ….

  • Preheat the oven to 200 c
  • Place all the ingredient into a large bowl and use your hands to mix all the ingredients together.
  • Take a large gratin dish and rub with a little oil.
  • Take a golf ball sized amount of mixture and roll into a ball. Place into the gratin dish. Repeat until all the mixture has been used up.

Pork meatballs after baking for 15 minutes.

  • Bake in the oven for 15 minutes.
  • Pour over the satay sauce and place back in the oven for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve with egg noodles, steamed pak choi and a sprinkle of fresh coriander or a wedge of lime.


August 31, 2016 / mintcustard

Strawberry and cream Viennese whirls.

It’s Biscuit Week on Bake Off and Viennese whirls make an appearance I’m led to believe. So here is my latest twist on a much loved classic. My piping is rubbish but you can see that  the two colours swirl together beautifully and the freeze dried strawberries look like little jewels in the dough. No soggy bottoms here either. Light, crisp and worthy of a Hollywood handshake I’d hope.


Strawberry and cream Viennese whirl.

Strawberry and cream Viennese whirls.

125 g very soft butter

25 g icing sugar

115 g plain flour

25 g cornflour

7g pack freeze dried strawberries

piping bag

large star tip

How to …..

  • Preheat the oven to 190c or Gas 5
  • Line a baking tray with baking parchment.
  • Beat together the butter, vanilla and the icing sugar. Use a mixer or a beater as using a spoon will take forever.
  • Sift in the flours and beat into the creamed mixture.
  • Beat in the strawberry pieces.
  • Place the tip into your piping bag and spoon in the mixture. I stand the bag in a pint glass to help steady the bag as I fill it. If you want you can add a dash of pink colouring to half the mixture. This will create a pretty swirled pattern.
  • Pipe whirls of the mixture filling. This amount of mixture makes 9 good sized biscuits.
  • Bake for 12 to 15 minutes. I seriously suggest you sit by the oven door as these can burn very easily as they are so friable.
August 31, 2016 / mintcustard

Lattice sausage rolls, a frugal way to use up a spare sausage and some pastry.

Lattice topped sausage rolls.

Lattice topped sausage rolls.

Really this isn’t a recipe, simply a reminder that an extra meal can often be rustled up from ingredients you may have thrown away or eaten as a “cooks perk”.

Having made a lattice topped blackberry and apple pie on Sunday I had a little of the lattice pastry left over. Being me I’d wrapped it in cling film and popped it into the fridge for use another time. As it had been cut to make a lattice those opportunities may be few and far between and I could have frozen the dough too.

The following day whilst roasting a chicken with all the trimmings. You know stuffing, bacon and sausages and a lemon too. I could have put all the sausages around the chicken, they would have been eaten but I kept back three to make into sausage rolls with the lattice pastry.

The sausages were skinned and a mix of chilli flakes and herbs mixed in to half the mix, before reforming into a sausage shape and covering with the lattice. The second half was mixed with a dollop of red onion relish and again wrapped in lattice puff pastry.

They were given a quick egg wash and baked at 200c for 15 minutes on a tray lined with baking parchment.

A scrap of pastry and a few of sausages, with the addition of some salad leaves made lunch for two on Tuesday!