Cupcakes are certainly all the rage at the moment, and who could resist these red velvet cupcakes with luscious cream cheese icing? Mine are slightly different from other versions as I prefer to use sour cream and chocolate rather than buttermilk and cocoa and much less red food colouring than most recipes require. I also add cranberries — but if you prefer you can leave these out.
Its quite fun to wrap your cupcakes in beautifully designed cupcake wrappers (take a look at www.squires-shop.com). These would make any tea party a special event.
Frittata is an Italian classic, and can be made with the vegetables of your choice, with or without cheese. It is a type of Italian omelette but served unfolded and round, taking the shape of the frying pan in which it has been cooked.
Before you wonder what on earth I am doing including oyster sauce in a kosher recipe, let me explain. There are two types of oyster sauce — one that would definitely not get past the Beth Din and the other a vegetarian oyster sauce prepared from mushrooms. This, together with the rice wine vinegar, adds a delicious Chinese-style savoury taste, and I like the combination of the minced meat with crunchy water chestnuts. It is very versatile — serve in lettuce leaf boats or with rice or noodles. This would also make a delicious filling for tortilla wraps or tacos.
What puts the X into X-Factor, the missing ingredient that makes something X-tra special? Of course, we all like to believe we have the X-Factor, that we can belt out a tune like Whitney (I regularly try in the shower) and dance like Fred Astaire (I am showing my age here. OK, like Justin Timberlake for younger readers.)
I realise I may not have the X-factor when it comes to singing and dancing, as no one comes near my bathroom when I am taking a shower. And when I watch myself dance on bar/batmitzvah videos, I immediately reach for the fast forward button.
Polenta, made from boiled cornmeal, is a staple of northern Italy and it can be as versatile as southern Italian pasta.
It is often served hot like mash, with various toppings such as a good stew or a Bolognese sauce. However, it can also be moulded, then cut into squares and fried or grilled. The latter is the version I propose here, a recipe for polenta crostini served with wild mushrooms — a tasty seasonal delicacy.
Preparation time 30 min. Serves 4-6 as starter or canapés
With half-term coming up, why not spend some time cooking with your child? When children cook they learn lots of skills like weighing, measuring, understanding time, mixing and kneading. You could also invite some of your child’s friends over for a cooking party. Here’s a yummy chocolate cupcake which is fun to bake and decorate. You might ignite a passion for cooking that goes beyond licking a spoon.
Makes eight teddy bear cupcakes
Ingredients For the cake
● 55g plain chocolate
● 55g butter
● 65g dark brown sugar
● 1 egg beaten
Its easy to get stuck in a rut and make the same meals over and over again for the family, so here is something new for you to try. A “blue plate” is the daily special menu item in an American-style diner, and meat loaf is usually a popular choice — it is certainly a favourite in my house. I like mine with a BBQ sauce and mashed potatoes, but you could also serve it with chips or rice. It is lovely and moist, quick and easy to prepare and really tasty.
My children live on a diet of BlackBerry. Every day they exercise their fingers, tap, tap, tap, so they can indulge in this fruity fascination. I am sure they have become addicted. Even in the car, their heads are down as they gorge themselves on news and views from the Princess Pals, who they have just left behind at the school gates.
This dish is traditionally Roman and it is very common in Roman Jewish cooking. A small restaurant or osteria in Rome is the best place to eat chicken with peppers. Otherwise, try cooking it yourself, as this is an everyday dish that is sure to become a favourite. It is easy, full of flavour and healthy. The traditional recipe calls for green peppers, which have a sharp and sometimes bitter taste. I prefer to use sweeter peppers, such as red, yellow or orange, and sometimes I add a green one just to give an extra kick to the flavour.
Risottos are really quite simple to make and this one is delicious with butternut squash puree, mascarpone and Parmesan. The traditional method for making risotto is to add the stock a ladle full at a time and then add more stock once the stock has been absorbed. In my version I add the stock in larger amounts so its even simpler.
Its important to use a large saucepan or a frying pan as this speeds up the absorption of the stock. You can make the butternut squash or pumpkin puree in advance.