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May 20, 2015 / mintcustard

Chorizo, green pepper and cheese quesadilla – another Quorn recipe

Chorizo, green pepper and cheese quesadilla.

Chorizo, green pepper and cheese quesadilla.

This chorizo, green pepper and cheese quesadilla was my lunch earlier this week. I happened to use quorn chorizo as I had some in the fridge but regular chorizo (precooked) would work just as well. The pepper, or another crisp green vegetable is essential as the cheese and chorizo need a crunch and crispness as a foil against their richness and squidge!

Chorizo, green pepper and cheese quesadilla (makes 1)

2 soft tortillas


chorizo slices (quorn or regular)

1/4 green pepper, cut into strips

How to ….

  • Preheat a dry frying pan over a medium heat.
  • Cover one tortilla with a layer of cheese, grated, sliced chunks, it is up to you.
  • Add the chorizo slices and green pepper strips.


  • Place into the pan and top with the second tortilla.
  • Cook for two to three minutes until the bottom is crisp and beginning to brown.
  • Using a fish slice, turn the quesadilla and cook the second side.
  • Cut into quarters and lunch is served.
May 19, 2015 / mintcustard

#quorncooks – an evening of surprises.

Quorn Thai green curry.

Quorn Thai green curry.

No one, by any stretch of the imagination, could call me a vegetarian. I do enjoy meals without meat but I have not thought about replacing the meat in a dish with an alternative. I think student misadventures with soya mince have probably scarred me for life!

Being invited to a #quorncooks event piqued my interest. I knew Quorn was a mycoprotein but that was all. The teen always moans about the packaging. “Meat free ham? Meat free ham!!! What the **** is meat free ham?”

Time to find out more.

It transpires that Quorn is much lower in fat and saturated fats than meat, but with 500% more fibre than the equivalent animal protein. Good for the marathon runners in my house, although brand ambassador Mo Farah has little to fear from them even after Quorn fuelled training.

Quorn is a vegetarian option but not as yet a vegan option as the mycoprotein is bound together with egg white for stability. The vegan version is a work in progress we were told.

We helped prepare two quorn based dishes, BBQ pulled quorn with a pink slaw and a Quorn Thai curry. Both dishes were delicious but the meal I’ve cooked a version of is the curry.

Quorn Thai Curry (serves 4) The Mintcustard version)


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 tbsp korma paste

2 tbsp Thai green curry paste

250 g quorn pieces


1 tbsp vegetable oil

1 small onion chopped

2 cloves of garlic – grated

2 tsp ginger grated

1 stock cube crumbled

1 tin coconut milk

3 tsp mango chutney

2/3 green pepper, thinly sliced

small handful of cavalo nero, shredded, because I had some in the fridge. Any green veg would be fine.


How to

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together in a bowl until the Quorn is coated. Transfer to the fridge to marinate for at least 30 minutes.
Quorn pieces in the marinade.

Quorn pieces in the marinade.

  • To prepare the sauce heat the oil in a pan then gently fry the chopped onion, garlic and ginger for 5 minutes until softened but not coloured.
  • Add the coconut milk, mango chutney and stock cube. Gently bring to the boil and simmer, covered for 20 minutes.
  • Meanwhile transfer the marinated Quorn pieces to a baking tray and cook in a moderate oven 180c/ gas mark 4 for 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and reserve.
  • Add the Quorn pieces, pepper, cavalo nero to the sauce and simmer for 5 minutes or until the vegetables are just cooked.

Serve with  plain boiled rice or wholemeal chapattis.

I was invited to The Underground Cookery School for an evening of cooking with quorn. The views, text and photographs are all my own.

May 18, 2015 / mintcustard

Sticky rhubarb and ginger loaf cake.

Slices of sticky rhubarb and ginger cake.

Slices of sticky rhubarb and ginger cake.

From the outside London may well appear to be an amorphous conglomeration of homes, roads and places to tap in with your Oyster card. It really isn’t. North London and South London may as well be on opposite sides of the planet and simply by travelling a few hundred yards down a road you can move from one distinct district to another. What has all this got to do with a sticky rhubarb and ginger loaf cake, you may well ask?

Cheam Charter Fair in full swing.

Cheam Charter Fair in full swing.

Last week one small village on the edge of Boris’ kingdom held it’s annual charter fair. Cheam is where I spent my high school years and I remember the fair well. It used to be held on the actual charter day and was often mid week. Mostly it consisted of a few fairground rides and that was it. Now the fair is a huge community event, everyone from the Horticultural society to the Rotary club of Cheam has a stall as well as the schools and individuals.



One stall just sold sticks of rhubarb. So I had to get some and this is where the idea for the cake came from. I took a golden syrup cake recipe by Rachel Allen as the basis of this recipe and substituted the preserved ginger for 150g of roasted rhubarb. Roasting the rhubarb takes away a little of the liquid from the stalks and really concentrates the flavour too.

Roasted rhubarb

150g rhubarb stalks cut into 3″ pieces.

1 tsp demerara sugar

  • Preheat the oven to 190c
  • Place the rhubarb into a oven proof dish.
  • Bake for 30 minutes.
  • Allow to cool.


May 14, 2015 / mintcustard

Message on a biscuit.

Message on a biscuit.

Message on a biscuit.

Not really a recipe, more a suggestion. If you have anyone in your house revising at the moment. SATs, GCSEs, A Levels, Uni exams or just next weeks spelling and tables test then you know what it’s like. After a while food becomes important to the revisee as it punctuates the revision sessions. As well as supplying endless amounts of fruits, flapjacks and tea last week I made a batch of shortbreads and stamped them with a message.

“Keep smiling” they said. Not sure if the message is for the teen or me! Good luck in your ASs sweetheart!

I use a Tala Letterpress cookie cutter set for my messages on a biscuit. I’m sure other sets are available.



  • 60z plain flour (150g)
  • 4oz softened butter (100g)
  • 2oz caster sugar (50g)

How to

  • Preheat the oven to 160c
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until well combined.
  • Work in the flour, first with a wooden spoon and then with your hands.
  • Knead together until the dough becomes uniform and pliable.
  • Leave to rest on the side for 30 minutes.
  • Roll out, cut and stamp with your message cutter.
  • Place on a baking tray and pop into the fridge for 10 minutes to set up a little before baking. This makes the imprint stay sharp when baked.
  • Bake for 10 to 15 minutes until just beginning to darken slightly.
  • Place on a wire rack to cool.
May 11, 2015 / mintcustard

Chilli, lime and mango kebabs.

Chilli, lime and mango chicken kebabs.

Chilli, lime and mango chicken kebabs.

As soon as the sun pops out from behind the clouds I’m often to be found outside setting up the barbecue. So it was this weekend. Chicken soaks up flavours like a sponge. The teen had asked for something spicy and with the rest of us trying hard to make healthier choices these chilli, lime and mango kebabs came into existence.

Chilli, lime and mango chicken kebabs. (makes 6 kebabs)

Marinade ingredients.

3 tablespoons natural yogurt.

1 tbsp chopped frozen chilli or 1 fresh chilli

juice of half a lime

1 tbsp mango chutney

pinch salt

Kebab ingredients

3 chicken breasts or 2 breasts and 2 thighs, cubed into largish chunks.

6 tomatoes

6 chunks green bell pepper

6 chunks yellow bell pepper

half a red onion cut into 6 chunks

6 metal skewers

How to…

  • Light the grill or put on the griddle pan.
  • Place three cubes of chicken and the vegetables onto each skewer in any pattern you want. I favour the rainbow look.
Chilli, lime and mango chicken kebabs ready to grill.

Chilli, lime and mango chicken kebabs ready to grill.

  • Grill on each side until the chicken is cooked through and not pink in the middle. The vegetables should have taken on a char too.
  • Serve with pitta pockets, salad and natural yogurt.


May 4, 2015 / mintcustard

Caramel drizzled mocha marble cake

Caramel drizzled mocha marble cake.

Caramel drizzled mocha marble cake.

I was inspired to make this caramel drizzled mocha marble cake after a Saturday filed with coffee and all things coffee related. Last weekend was the London Coffee Festival, held in the Old Truman Brewery in Shoreditch. The older teen and I went last year and this year both girls accompanied me. Coffee is our fuel of choice so the chance to taste, sample and generally guzzle lots of the stuff thrilled us all no end. Cold brew coffee was everywhere. The place was awash with it. Cold brew coffee is edfferent, delicious in a totally new way. A drink made from the outer coating of coffee beans was what really blew mw away. On the Tesseire stand, as a way to showcase their new sirops from France they had this deliciously refershing drink. If only I knew how to make it.

I do, however know how to make cakes so, using the Teisseire gourmet drops I was given I have added a caramel drizzle to this mocha marble cake.


Mocha marble cake

1 x 8″square cake tin lined with parchment.

2 bowls

4 eggs

weight of eggs in caster sugar

weight of eggs in plain flour

weight of eggs in softened butter

1 tbsp cocoa

4 tsp milk

4 tsp hot water

2 tsp coffee granules

How to …

  • Preheat the oven to 190c
  • Mix the coffee granules with the hot water and leave to cool.
  • Place half the butter in each of the two bowls and add half the sugar to each. Beat until pale and fluffy.
  • Halve the flour and remove one heaped tablespoon of flour from one and replace with cocoa powder.
  • Add an egg to each bowl and a tbsp of flour. Beat in and repeat for the second egg. Now fold in the rest of the flour to each bowl.
  • In the chocolate flavoured mixture add the milk and slacken the mixture.
  • Slacken the plain mixture with the coffee.
  • Place spoons of mixture randomly into the lined cake tin. Use a skewer and swirl the mixture together.
Mocha marble cake ready for the oven.

Mocha marble cake ready for the oven.

  • Bake in the middle of the oven for 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  • Once cool make the drizzle topping. Take 5 tbsp of icing sugar and add enough water to make a drizzling consistency. Add 5 drops of Teisseire gourmet caramel drops. Drizzle over the cake using a spoon or a piping bag as you wish.


May 2, 2015 / mintcustard

Pan con tomate – using up the focaccia

Pan con tomate

Pan con tomate

Not so much a recipe more a set of assembly instructions. Last week I made a foccacia. As the older one has returned back to Uni and M was out almost every evening with meetings and a concert I had some left in the bread bin. Focaccia tends to stale quickly so I could have left it, made breadcrumbs and used them in a gremoulata or a made a panzanella. Then I spied a lone tomato in the fruit bowl – I try not to put my tomatoes in the fridge – so pan con tomate it was.


1 tomato cut into quarters.

1 clove of garlic

2 slices focaccia per person

fresh basil leaves

How to ….

Using a griddle pan or a toaster toast the slices of bread on both sides until the char lines appear or until gloden on both sides. Wrap the garlic clove in basil and rub over the warm bread. The bread should be lightly perfumed not covered in garlic and basil puree. Repeat with the tomato quarters but squeeze the tomato pulp onto the bread. This was my lunch, served with a dollop of hummus. A glass of wine would have been good too.

Pan con tomate

Pan con tomate

May 1, 2015 / mintcustard

Sweet potato chilli cheese fries.

Sweet potato chilli fries.

Sweet potato chilli fries.

A quick easy meal that pleases the masses is always a winner. Chips or pasta are sure fire successes but as a parent they tend to be the meals you cook least and also insist are accompanied by green food or a salad!

Sweet potato chilli cheese fries are actually not that bad considering. The sweet potato fries are baked in the oven, the chilli is made from the remains of a roast beef joint and the cheese is a scattering of grated cheese and not a gloopy cheese sauce.

Ingredients for the fries

1 large sweet potato per person. (orange fleshed ones look and taste best according to the teens in this house)




How to

  • Pre heat the oven to 220c
  • Line the baking tray with parchment to stop the sweet potatoes from sticking.
  • Peel the sweet potatoes and cut into fingers.
  • Drizzle a little oil onto the parchment lined baking tray, sprinkle the oil with salt and paprika.
  • Tip over the sweet potato fries and toss in the oil and paprika.
  • Bake in the oven for 20 to 25 minutes.
  • After 15 minutes turn the chips so that they brown evenly.

Top with chilli.

end of beef roast chopped finely

half an onion chopped finely

clove of garlic crushed

dregs from a carton of passata, (about 200 ml) or a big dollop of tomato puree)

stock or left over gravy from the roast

1 green chilli finely chopped

big pinch dried chilli flakes

How to…

  • Soften the onion and garlic in a large pan.
  • Add in the beef and stir well.
  • Pour in the passata and stock or puree and stock.
  • Add in half the chopped chilli and simmer until the liquid is reduced.
  • Stir in the remaining chopped chilli and chilli flakes.

Put the fires into a bowl or on a big plate. Top the sweet potato fries with the the chilli. Add sour cream, salsa, guacamole and grated cheese. This can be made into individual portions or one big platter for sharing. Always serve this with ice cold beer!

April 28, 2015 / mintcustard

Fudge and walnut brownies.

Fudge walnut brownies.

Fudge walnut brownies.

There is something about having a tidy that always makes me really hungry. Tidying the kitchen cupboards makes me ravenous as I find packets of ingredients that need to be used up and a recipe will pop into my mind. This happened at the weekend. I came across a pack of soft dark molasses sugar that had to be used up, brownies it is then. I knew the molasses would be dark and fudgy, so adding coffee and fudge chunks amplified this flavour no end. The walnuts are to relieve the squidge factor a little.

Guess who ate this piece.

Guess who ate this piece.


150gr unsalted butter cut in small cubes, 200gr chopped chocolate, 100ml strong black coffee, 250gr soft dark brown molasses sugar, 3 medium eggs, 100gr plain flour,  100gr walnut pieces, 4 fudge fingers cut into chunks


  • Preheat the oven to 180c. Grease and line a brownie tray with butter and baking paper.
  • In a heat proof bowl melt the chocolate and butter over a pan of simmering water – make sure the bowl doesn’t touch the water.
  • When all melted out of the bain marie stir in the sugar and cold coffee.
  • Beat the eggs with a fork and mix them into the mixture. When smooth fold in the sieved flour and the walnut pieces.
  • Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 15min. Remove from the oven and scatter on the fudge pieces.
Ready to bake again.

Ready to bake again.

  • Put back in the oven for another 10mins until the mixture is set, but still a bit sticky.
  • Leave to cool completely before slicing in squares, devour.
April 27, 2015 / mintcustard

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia.

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia.

Rosemary and sea salt focaccia.

Wandering around the garden the other day I brushed past the rosemary and the smell reminded me that I hadn’t made a focaccia for ages. It always seems to me to be a summer bread. The weather might not yet be really hot enough to sit outside for a lazy lunch, dipping focaccia in oil and balsamic. But it will be soon, *crosses fingers in hope*.

A beautiful pillow of dough. Studded with rosemary, scattered with sea salt and drizzled with oil.

A beautiful pillow of dough. Studded with rosemary, scattered with sea salt and drizzled with oil.

I used the BBC Food website recipe for focaccia although I only used half quantities. I can’t justify scoffing two focaccia in a day! The recipe suggests the dough can be kneeded but this is such a wet dough you just have t stick your hand in and go for it. The gluten forms well and makes the loaf light and airy.


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