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March 21, 2015 / mintcustard

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.

These little mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes came about as a result of a set of happy accidents. I didn’t have any lemons, there was an open pack of dried cranberries in the cupboard that needed using up and my husband had walked inthrough the door after a trip to the US and we all know jet lag causes the munchies!

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.

3 large free range eggs weighed.

weight of eggs in self raising flour

weight of eggs in butter

weight of eggs in caster sugar

100g dried cranberries

1 lime zested and juiced

2 tbsp milk

icing sugar

How to…

  • Preheat the oven to 190c
  • Line a 12 hole muffin tin or individual tray bake tins with baking parchment squares.
  • Beat together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one at a time with a spoonful of flour.
  • Once all the eggs are beaten in fold in hte remaining flour and the cranberries.
  • Slacken the mixture with 2 tbsp milk and 1 tbsp lime juice.
  • Fill each paper two thirds full.
  • Bake for 20 minutes or until a skewer comes out clean.
Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes cooling.

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes cooling.

  • Allow to cool for a short while.
  • Take 1 tbsp of juice and 1 tbsp of caster sugar. Drizzle the warm cakes with the syrup.
  • Mix up the remaining juice with enough icing sugar to make a thickish paste. Drizzle onto the cakes and scatter with the lime zest to finish.

Put on the kettle and indulge yourself with a big cup of tea.

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.

Mini cranberry and lime drizzle cakes.



March 15, 2015 / mintcustard

Fancy some chocolate and a glass of something? Let Aldi surprise you.

Chocolate, cocktail and wine pairings.

Chocolate, cocktail and wine pairings.

I’m fond of both chocolate and alcohol so you’d think I might pair them together often. I might add cointreau to a chocolate mousse or amaretto to a tiramisu but I don’t eat pieces of actual chocolate with alcohol. Personally I blame those liqueur chocolates from my youth. You felt so grown up stealing a barrel shaped chocolate to eat but they were really quite horrid!

Imagine my relief then when I sampled the chocolates and wines kindly sent to me by Aldi.

Port and chocolate.

Port and chocolate.

The first I tried was Fletcher’s Fine Ruby Port (6.49) paired with Moser Roth 85% cocoa (1.19). The port has rich plum and damson characteristics and an almost chocolaty core. The depth in the port is equalled by the intensity of the Moser Roth 85% cocoa chocolate. They seem to bring out the best in each other. The chocolate took on an almost fruity flavour too. Really rather surprising and delicious.

Chocolate and sherry.

Chocolate and sherry.

After this I sampled the Caversham Cream Sherry (5.25) with Moser Roth dark chocolate with orange and almond. The slight nuttyness of the sherry with almost marmalade notes works very well with the chocolate. Their flavours harmonise and this results in a wonderfully smooth finish.

One of the benefits of the Moser Roth chocolates is that they come in small bars within the large pack. You have sufficient but don’t polish off the whole pack with just one glass of wine – and I’m sure you know I’m more than capable of that!

Don’t think chocolate at Easter is just for children, these pairings are just the way to give an adult at special treat at this time of year. There will be a cocktail coming soon too, on Mintcustard, watch this space.

I was sent a hamper containing chocolate and alcohol from Aldi, I was not asked for a positive review and all ideas and thoughts are my own.

March 15, 2015 / mintcustard

Giant hot cross bun fun!

giant hot cross bun

giant hot cross bun

I love a hot cross bun, and have pimped both the shape and the vehicle for the spices in the past with my hot cross bunnies and hot cross bun spiced waffles. Last week I just wanted a plain and simple hot cross bun, but as this is an enriched dough little buns tend to stale quickly, I decided to make a loaf. I pondered a long whila as to the shape for this loaf. Should I use a tin? Should I make a plait? How about a tear and share? Then it struck me, what shape is a hot cross bun normally? Why not simply make a giant hot cross bun? So that is what I did.

Sliced hot cross bun.

Sliced hot cross bun.


300g strong white bread flour

150 ml warm milk

1 egg beaten

30g caster sugar

25g butter

100g mixed dried fruit

A good few rasps of nutmeg

1 tsp cinnamon

1 tsp allspice

thumb of fresh yeast or 7g pack of dried yeast

Cross and glaze

3 tbsp plain flour

3 tbsp caster sugar

warm water

piping bag

How to ….

  • Warm the milk and whisk in the yeast, leave to activate and start to foam.
  • Place the flour, spices, sugar and mixed peal into a large bowl. Make a well in the middle and rub in the butter.
  • Pour in the activated yeast and the beaten egg. Combine to make a soft dough.
  • On a floured surface knead the dough for at least five inutes and preferably ten, until soft and smooth.
  • Place in a lightly oiled bowl and leave to prove for an hour and a half or until doubled in size.
  • Knock back, shape into a large boule. Place on baking parchment on a baking tray and leave to rise again for another 45 minutes. The baking parchment is to prevent the glaze from welding itself to the tray!
  • Preheat the oven to 220 c.
  • Mix together the flour, enough water to make a pipable paste and place in a piping bag. Snip off the end and pipe a cross over the bun. Mix the sugar with hot water to dissolve the sugar. Brush over the bun.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until well risen and a fairly dark brown.
  • When it comes out of the oven brush again with theremaining glaze to give the bun a real shine.
  • Cool, slice and enjoy. This is lovely straight from the oven and even better the next day sliced and toasted for breakfast. Leftovers(!) can also be made into bread and butter pudding.
  • Voila! Giant hot cross bun fun.
March 4, 2015 / mintcustard

Flower loaf.

Not really a recipe as this uses my basic bread recipe. It is simply a way of ringing the changes and making the loaf look really attractive. (Well I think it does!)

Make the loaf as directed until the final shaping a proofing. Divide the dough into 18 small balls. Using a lightly oiled 10″ cake tin place 11 balls around the outside of the tin, then a ring of 6 balls and finally one ball in the middle.

Proved but unbaked flower loaf.

Proved but unbaked flower loaf.

Leave to prove for thirty minutes. Whilst the dough rises preheat the oven to 220c.

Brush the top of the dough with a little water and scatter over a dusting of malted flour dough if you have it, white flour if not. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until golden and risen.

Baked flower loaf.

Baked flower loaf.

Remove from the tin and cool on a wire rack.

March 2, 2015 / mintcustard

Empire biscuits – an idea for a Red Nose Day bake sale.

Empire biscuits.

Empire biscuits.

Cake sales are brilliant, they always raise money and you just HAVE to buy something from them as it would be uncharitable not to! So everyone wins. Red nose day is just around the corner, and I am sure there will be many, many trestle tables groaning under the weight of baked goods.

If you are joining in, don’t forget you can download details of the fundraising kits from the Red Nose Day website.

Empire biscuits (Linzer biscuits) are ideal for the Red Nose Day bake sale. A simple sandwich biscuit, joined by jam. The white water icing is tracitionally topped with a glace cherry, but as no one in this house except me likes them I use a dot of red icing. You could use smarties, jelly tots or even red glitter dusted maltesers!


Empire biscuits, makes 8

150g plain flour

100g butter

50g caster sugar.

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.
  • Using fluted cutters, cut out 16 circles.
  • 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.
  • Once cool join together with jam.
  • Mix the water icing to a fairly stiff consistency. Top the biscuits with a spoonful of icing.
  • Add a glace cherry, red smartie, red jelly tot or a dab or red water icing.
  • Make several batches and get together with friends to raise money for Comic Relief.


March 1, 2015 / mintcustard

Tongue Twister, a sensory surprise pops up at Westfield London.


I’ll admit it, I’m a science geek. I do love a science experiment. I really love a science experiment on a grand scale. I am utterly enraptured by a huge multi sensory experiment involving food.

Situated in The Atrium of Westfield London, Condiment Junkie set about to create a food sensory experiment like no other. My daughter and I, both lovers of food, were intrigued, and a little apprehensive.


The whole set up was more than a little reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory. A blend of white coated scientists wearing the obligatory glasses and lots of brightly coloured oversized lollypops.


As soon as we stepped into the Cleanse Room, the science began. Using strips of paper impregnated with propylthiouracil we were sorted into supertasters, medium tasters and non tasters. Interestingly most family groups seemed to contain mostly the same type of taster. The teen and I were both amongst the super tasters. We got stickers!


In the Hear Room we discovered how listening to certain sounds and tunes can alter how something tastes. Restauranteurs need to take note, is cheesy pop so called for a reason?

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We are always told that we eat with our eyes, so what happens when all is not as it seems? The See Room set about to deceive us. Flavours and colours were mixed up and tried to confuse. 1425125692466

The herb garden cast under UV light was both beautiful and fascinating.

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The most Wonkaesque room was the Smell Room, filled with giant bubblegum pink smell trumpets. We ate one taste and smelt another. Some were wonderful but strawberry and curry isn’t a combination I really want to revisit anytime soon.

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One final set of questions asked us to link shapes, feelings and even colours to smells. Completely fascinating.

Tongue Twister was huge fun but it was more than that. It made us both stop to think how our senses can influence perceptions of taste.


If you have time today you really should go, it’s free, fascinating and fun.

This being Westfield London we followed up our visit to Tongue Twister with a food experience of our own. Five Guys and a Matcha tea Snog! More of that later.


I was invited by Westfield London to attend the Tongue Twister event but was not asked to write a positive blog post. All views and opinions are my own.

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.


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