Happy Birthday To Me

Another year has zipped by and the staff room tradition pervades. I dutifully created these two offerings so that my work colleagues could celebrate with me. The first is my Grandma Sybil’s chocolate cake recipe in a bundt tin with added orange zest and a few dark chocolate chips.Victoria sponge topped and filled with whipped cream (jam in the middle) and adorned with fresh fruit.  Well it was my birthday after all. Both were deliciously moist as I watched the baking time closely and went close to under just to make sure. Nom Nom!

Birthday Cake 2 Birthday Cake



This has got to be one of my favourite after dinner treats. So simple yet seems indulgent at the same time. This can be a quick midweek pud or a crafted explosion of flavour, temperature and texture. The premise is very simple – coffee and ice cream.

I first encountered this delight many years ago in the coastal town of Ayr, Scotland, at an Italian deli come gelateria 500 yds from the sea. The key to its success being the quality of its ice cream and coffee. This is why I say the affogatto can be simple or indulgent. The quality of ingredients have an exponential effect on the end product.

My recipe is

  • 2 scoops of homemade vanilla ice cream
  • Double shot of fresh espresso
  • Amaretti biscuits crumbled on top

Neiman-Marcus cookies

So this has been circulating various social networking sites and I thought I would put this $250 recipe down for future reference. Apparently the above mentioned restaurant charged a customer $250 for the recipe without them knowing.

(Recipe may be halved):
2 cups butter
4 cups flour
2 tsp. baking soda
2 cups granulated sugar
2 cups brown sugar
5 cups blended oatmeal (measure oatmeal and blend in blender to a fine powder)
24 oz. chocolate chips
1 tsp. salt
1 8 oz. Hershey bar (grated)
4 eggs
2 tsp. baking powder
3 cups chopped nuts (your choice)
2 tsp. vanilla
Cream the butter and both sugars. Add eggs and vanilla; mix together with flour, oatmeal, salt, baking powder, and soda. Add chocolate chips, Hershey bar and nuts. Roll into balls and place two inches apart on a cookie sheet..Bake for 10 minutes at 375 degrees. Makes 112 cookies.. Have Fun!!!


Birthday Cake

Here’s a funny one. So it’s your birthday. The day that most people look forward to because they get a bit of pampering or special attention or perhaps just a card or a call from a family member or pal.

Somewhere along the way however the ubiquitous cake and chorus ritual takes an unexpected twist. No longer do we wonder in excited anticipation if there will be an igloo or a hedgehog cake waiting for us on the table. Instead we are asked to supply our own offering for the office staff room so that others may celebrate.


To that end, after a day at Uni, I came home today and baked. Nothing too adventurous or time consuming. After all I need some time to chill. I give you a Victoria Sponge (Nigella) topped and filled with vanilla cream and raspberry jam followed by a ‘healthy’ (not really) banana loaf (2 eggs, 3 bananas, 4oz sugar, 4oz butter, 5oz SR flour).


low fat

Banana Bread (Loaf)

This is a recipe that I have used and abused many times over. The great thing about it is that it is the perfect conduit for a multitude of flavours. I have no pictures at the moment because it never lasts more than 30 minutes. I have yet to ice or dress it for precisely the same reason. It is one of our cake tin staples. Enjoy.

You will need

a 1lb Loaf tin- greased, for following quantities
or 2in deep tray bake tin if making more – greased
Oven 170 deg C

2 eggs
3-4 over ripe bananas – smushed
4oz butter/marg
4oz sugar black/white/brown ( but not yellow)
5oz SR flour
tsp baking powder
2 tsp vanilla

– use a pan that everything will fit in
melt butter with sugar
add flour & baking powder and mix to stiff paste
add vanilla and eggs to smushed bananas and mix
add this to paste in pan and mix in well

at this point you can go freestyle if you wish and add 100g of either

chocolate chunks
raisins/dried fruit
diced apple
etc etc

or even a combination of anything you fancy. I would avoid minstrels (hard coated chocolate) though as they tend to go green for some reason. Replace vanilla if you want too, cinnamon, lemon zest, coconut. Go for it!

Pour into tin / tray then

bake in the middle of the oven for 45 – 60 mins. Usual checks, springy in the middle, moved away from edge of tin, clean (ish) skewer. Moisture is a bonus at the end so don’t dry it out.

This picture is from the internet but looks similar.

Banana Bread.

Halloween (Pumpkin) Pork

I have been wondering what to do with this pumpkin for a couple of weeks and was reluctant to use it for the obvious pie / soup offering. Besides I have a bigger one for that which my friend gave me in September and I have been ripening on my windowsill since (It’s the big one)

The little guy intrigued me. Once opened up it revealed a juicy flesh that had a sweet cantaloup like scent. It even looked a bit like a cantaloup.

Pumpkin Pork Ingredients:

  • Pork loin chops seasoned (S&P, garlic, thyme, jerk spice (optional)) – 700g
  • 1/2 small pumpkin peeled & chunked (or squosh)
  • 2 Red onions (sliced)
  • Mushrooms sliced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • Tin of tomatoes & oregano
  • Few glugs of BBQ sauce
  • Splash of wine vinegar
  • Pinch of sugar

I browned the chops in a grill pan before adding the vegetables and all the other bits and pieces. I then roasted in the oven for 40 minutes at about 180 deg C (fan assisted). I also sliced the rest of the pumpkin and roasted it in a dish seasoned with S&P, garlic, rosemary, chilli flakes and drizzled with oil.

The pork came out gloriously crisp and succulent with the vegetables oozing an unctuously sticky BBQ tang.

Served with a little bit of rice and lots of love. This will haunt you until you make it. Happy Halloween y’all. Bon apetit. Nom Nom…