Pistachio and Cranberry Christmas Marshmallows

 Its Christmas time!
Pistachio and cranberry christmas marshmallow
Its Christmas time!

I love marshmallows. Soft and gooey. Light and fluffy. Melted or baked. Their sickly sweetness is heaven to me. This recipe falls into the firmer, stickier category but the pretty red, white and green colours and subtle infused flavour of minty citrus are are ingrained in my idea of ‘Its Christmas time!’ and is a perfect one for making ahead of time to wow the family with on Christmas day or to include in your gift hampers.

½ cup heavy or thickened cream
2 mint leaves
Zest of one large lemon
4 cups white marshmallows
2 Tbsp pistachios
2 Tbsp cranberries

Delicious ingredients

Once the marshmallows are melted, they cool quickly and become very sticky to work with so a few things to prepare before you start the heating process:

Line a 8x8inch container with grease proof paper including up the sides.
Place the pistachios into a food processor and grind to a mix of dust and fine chunks and set aside. Finely chop cranberries and set aside.
Roughly chop the marshmallows and place in a medium saucepan.

Once these things are ready, place the cream, mint leaves and lemon zest in a small saucepan and heat gently to a simmer. Immediately turn in down and leave to infuse for a few minutes before straining into the saucepan with the marshmallows. Gently heat stirring constantly until the marshmallows have melted and combined with the cream.

Pour half the mixture into the container. Sprinkle the ground pistachios over, then carefully spoon on the remaining marshmallow mixture. Scatter the cranberries across the top and pop in the fridge to set.

Its a great one to do with the kids
Sprinkle over the pistachios

Once set, use a knife to help prise the top edge from grease proof paper. Once the top has come unstuck the rest will pull away easily. Slice into squares to serve. Store in an air tight container and cut when ready to serve.

Serve on your prettiest plates!
Someone’s excited about marshamallows!

Beetroot savoury cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting

One of my favourite dishes roasted beetroot and goats cheese with horseradish cream dolled up into a cupcake.
One of my favourite dishes roasted beetroot and goats cheese with horseradish cream dolled up into a cupcake.

Ok so firstly let me apologise for the overly long descriptive name of this blog. Lex rightly pointed out ‘Beetroot Savoury Cupcake’ just wasn’t very enticing, so the full shebang ‘Beetroot savoury cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting’ it is.

The world of Instagram and Facebook with their picture perfect images of food, fashion and homes are a never-ending source of ‘I want’ for me. A few months ago I tried out the new social blog app ‘Pippit’ and whilst the app itself is too cumbersome to use regularly, I did come across this photo of three pretty little cupcakes by user lingyeungb. Chorizo, paprika, potato, smoked salmon – these were not the ingredients of just any cupcakes, but delish savoury cupcakes. I had never heard of savoury cupcakes before. Here they were dressed up to the nines as though they were as temptingly sweet on the palette as their sugary partners, but as if they were off for martinis instead of high tea. It’s had me dreaming about them ever since.

The photo by Pippit user lingyeungb that inspired my quest to make savoury cupcakes.

Searching for the ultimate savoury cupcakes recipe, I came across a lot of chunky muffins and just stick-another-recipe-in-a-patty-liner recipes, but these didn’t satisfy my idea of what these perfect looking treats should be made of. I imagined them to have the delicate texture of my favourite Nigella vanilla fairy cakes but well, savoury. I hadn’t had one before, and I wanted it to be perfect. The general theme for savoury cupcakes seemed to be turning already successful dishes into a little cake. One of my favourite savoury dishes is roasted beetroot and goats cheese salad with horseradish cream, so I thought I’d start there. For this recipe I’ve modified a basic beetroot muffin with some basic cake baking tips I’ve picked up from Rosie Alyea’s Sweetapolita site, to create a Beetroot cupcake with creamed goats cheese and horseradish frosting. The resulting cake is subtle, sweetened only by the natural goodness of the roasted beetroot and the sharp and peppery-ness of the goats cheese and horseradish blends into a soft cheesy frosting. The cream does tend to soften quickly so I recommend keeping it in the fridge and decorate your cakes just before serving.

Beetroot - my favourite vegetable.
Beetroot – my favourite vegetable.

200g beetroot
2 baby beetroot
1tsp winter savoury
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
1 egg
50g butter
300mls + a little extra milk
270g cake flour
1tbsp baking powder
150ml cream
60g soft goats cheese
¼ – ½ tsp horseradish

Preheat oven to 200 degrees celsius. Peel the beetroot and chop into cubes and place in a bowl. Finely chop the winter savoury and add to the beets with a very small drizzle of olive oil and light seasoning of salt and pepper. Toss through. Line a tray with foil and add the beet mix then wrap it up tightly. Bake for 20-30 minutes. When cooked, place in food processor and puree. Set aside.

Roasted beetroot gems.
Roasted beetroot gems.
Give it a whizz until you have a smooth puree.
Give it a whizz until you have a smooth puree.

Thinly slice the baby beetroot and lay flat on another tray between two sheets of foil. Bake in oven on separate shelf below the beetroot mix. Bake until firm and most of the moisture is gone – roughly for about 10 minutes, checking after the first 5. Take out and set the beetroot discs aside to cool.

Beautiful patterns are created in the beetroot discs as they bake.
Beautiful patterns are created in the beetroot discs as they bake.

Lower the oven to 175 degrees celsius.

Beat the egg in the mixer for about 5 minutes until light and fluffy. Add the butter and mix until soft on medium. Slowly add the beetroot puree then the milk. Increase the speed for 2 minutes to mix thoroughly.

In a separate bowl, sift the flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Slowly add to the egg-puree mixture with the mixture on medium. Add the extra milk a tablespoon at a time until you have a smooth cake batter.

Divide into about 24 cupcake holders and smooth off the tops. Bake for 20-15 minutes until a cake tester comes out clean. Leave to cool for 10 minutes before removing from liners or tray. If your cakes end up looking like volcanoes like mine always do, remove from the liners and trim the tops off ready for decorating.

Fill your liners about 3/4 full.
If your cakes end up looking like mine ALWAYS do - remove them from the liners and trim ready to decorate.
If your cakes end up looking like mine ALWAYS do – remove them from the liners and trim ready to decorate.

Put the cream and goat’s cheese into a bowl and blend with a hand mixer until combined and it begins to thicken. Add the horseradish a little at a time until you reach your preferred peppery-ness.

Transfer frosting into a piping bag with a no.1 tip and do your best big fat swirl, topping the mound with one of your pretty little beetroot discs.

Who's ready for a martini?
Who’s ready for a martini?

“Brekbest” Crunchy Cluster Muesli

Breakfast is the number one meal in our house
Breakfast is the number one meal is our house

Breakfast is the number one meal in our house with both girls able to go through several courses without drawing a breath. Whilst a good fry up is probably Dave’s and my favourite, Bubby goes mad for muesli – or as she calls it, ‘brekbest’. But not just any ‘brekbest’ will do. Her muesli needs to have the right balance of raisins to oats and must be not too chewy or crunchy. She even recently went through a phase of not wanting to eat nuts so I started chopping them in the Fooderator (aka the Thermomix) to get a finer blend of chopped almonds. Much to our delight, this unintentionally resulted in yummy crunchy little clusters being formed amongst our homemade toasted  muesli.

Checking out the chopped nuts

My base recipe can be modified so you can add as much or as little of the dried fruit, nuts and seeds as you like. I also tend to vary them so we’re not eating exactly the same each time. For the dried fruits I like to include a mix of raisins, currants, cranberries, blueberries, pear and peach. For the seeds I usually just stick to pumpkin or sunflower seeds.

I like to vary the
I like to vary the mix of dried fruit and seeds, but love using our local Sweet & Raw honey


750g rolled oats

1 cup olive oil

1 cup coconut sugar

1 cup honey

1-2 cups of dried fruit, finely chopped

½ -1 cup almonds, very finely chopped in a food processor

¼ – ½ cup mixed seeds

½ cup dried coconut

Preheat the oven to 150 degrees. Line 2 large deep baking trays with baking paper. We make this muesli is a regularly so I like to use the silicone ones and re-use.

Mix the oats, almonds, seeds and coconut in a large bowl and set aside. Gently heat the olive oil, slowly stirring in the coconut sugar and honey until the olive oil is combined into the sugar and honey. Pour half into the bowl with the oat mixture and stir through as much as possible, then pour in the last half to coat the rest.

Spread the mixture out onto the baking trays and pop into the oven. After 10 minutes, pull the trays out and toss the mixture with large spoon. The honey should be quite runny and easier to finish mixing through. Put back in the oven and check after another 10 minutes or when the oats have turned a golden brown, but not burnt. Pull the trays out and stir lightly to mix the honey a little again, being careful to leave some clumps. Leave to cool.

Once cool, the oat mixture will have formed some crunchy clusters amongst the rest of the muesli. Stir through the dried fruit and store in an airtight container.

Store in an airtight container
Store in an airtight container


Quality control
Quality control


Déjeuner escargot

On one of her many adventures scratching around our overgrown mucky backyard, Bubby came across a snail. Nothing special, just your average brown slimy garden variety. I don’t recall why, but this snail sparked Dave into telling Bubby that she had eaten snails as a baby in Paris. She looked as though she didn’t believe him. Snails aren’t for eating.

Making bread the no-mess way
Making bread the no-mess way

But since that day Bubby has been talking about eating snails, parroting that she ate them when she was a baby in Paris. I wondered if she would like them as much as she had then, or if the concept of eating a creepy creature from the garden might override her curious nature. So I asked her if she wanted to have snails for lunch. “Yes” she said, “like when I was a baby”. We baked some bread while Boo had her morning sleep. I’m a fan of Jamie Oliver’s Basic Bread, but for the sake of keeping my hands mess-free I tend to stick with the one that comes in the Thermomix book.   A quick ring around to check which shop had snails in stock resulted in loud sobs from Bubby as she overheard the first shop were out of snails. I grabbed my shopping basket on the way out of the house and Bubby her mini basket she had packed with a few necessities for the trip (a cardboard roll, her Alice mouse and a bib for Boo). And she added a stick she found on the pavement as we got out of the car. She’s a collector at heart.

Bread punching
Bread punching

Bubby looked a bit confused when I handed her a small tin can in the shopping aisle instead of a handful of crawling snails, but then spent the rest of the time looking at fellow shoppers through her cardboard tube and bumping into things because she was too busy spying on people instead of looking where she was going.

Simple ingredients
Snails in a can

Back at the house we opened up the can and she peered in. “Where are their shells?” was all she asked. Not a peep on how disgusting they looked all blackish brown and wrinkly, or their faint might-be-off odour. Escargots à l’ail Ingredients 1 can of approx. 24 snails 2Tbs chopped butter 1 large finely chopped clove of garlic 1Tbs finely chopped flat leaf parsley Salt and pepper Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Empty the can into a waiting ramekin large enough to fit all the ingreadients.  I’m going to admit that I can’t finely chop to save myself, so feel free to roughly chop, it really does taste the same. Sprinkle the snails with the garlic, parsley and butter. Pop in the oven for about 20 minutes ’til the butter is melted and bubbling away. They’ll still look a bit unappetising and even I get squeamish about how they look despite how fancy ‘escargot’ sounds. But I do find the simple, buttery garlicy-ness of this recipe is perfect for their melt in your mouth texture and subtle taste.

Lets face it, they're not the prettiest meal.
Lets face it, they’re not the prettiest meal.

Too hot straight out of the oven, Bubby and Boo dug into some bread while we waited for them to cool down then Bubby tentatively took a little bite of one. ‘Mmm’ was all she murmured. Then some more bread. Pretty sure she didn’t really like them, but she didn’t let on and finished two big snails and a whole lot of bread. Her determination reminds me of the first time I ate an oyster fresh off the rocks. It was too massive to swallow in one go so I was forced to chew this warm muscular bit of slime and I too, keen to look sophisticated swallowed it and smiled. Have since learnt to make sure they haven’t been sitting in the stinking hot sun all day before eating… At least I enjoyed finishing off the rest of the snails, dipping the bread into that delicious garlic butter! When asked if she likes snails Bubby still says yes, but strangely enough hasn’t asked for them again…

Eating snails
Eating snails