Easy Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites

Pork belly is my guilty pleasure. I just love the taste of well-seasoned pork with a crisp skin. This is most probably due to my Filipino roots, where spit roasted pork, or “lechon” as it is called in Tagalog, with its crispy crackling was the feature of many Filipino parties growing up. Now, I’ve never mastered the complexities of producing crispy crackling in the oven (let alone on a spit), however I have discovered that I can produce something similar using my air fryer.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pork Belly: I use pork belly strips from the supermarket and cut them up into bite size pieces, around 1.5 cm to 2 cm thick.
  • Garlic Powder: Gives the pork a rich savoury flavour.
  • Salt: This brings out the flavour of the meat and the garlic. If you will be drizzling sauce over the pork then use less salt, around 0.25 tsp of salt should do.

How To Make Easy Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites

Step One: Pre-heat air fryer at 200 °C (400 °F) for 5 minutes. I use my trusty Ninja Air Fryer for this.

Step Two: Use kitchen roll to pat 500 g pork belly slices dry.

Step Three: Cut the pork into bite-size pieces roughly 1.5 – 2 cm thick.

Step Four: Add the pork belly bites to a large bowl and mix in 1 tsp garlic powder, 0.25 tsp onion powder, 0.25 – 0.5 tsp salt and 0.25 tsp black pepper.

Step Five: Spread the seasoned pork bites on the crisper tray in the air fryer pan.

Step Six: Air fry for 5 minutes at 200 °C (400 °F) . Use tongs to turn the pork over. Air fry again for a further 5 minutes. If you would like the pork to be super crispy then you can turn the pork over again and air fry for a further 5 minutes.

How To Serve Easy Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites

  • This can be served as a main dish with rice, as a topping for a salad, or as an appetizer.
  • Drizzle with hoisin sauce.

Tips for Making Easy Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites

  • For an extra crisp pork, ensure that the meat is as dry as possible before seasoning. To do this pat the pork belly slices with kitchen roll.
  • There is no need to add oil to the pork. It will release it’s own fat during the cooking process.
  • You can add a little water to the bottom of the air fryer pan before placing the crisper tray over it. The water will prevent the fat and any other juices released by the meat from smoking.

Easy Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
5 minutes
Cooking Time:
10 – 15 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g pork belly slices
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 0.25 tsp onion powder
  • 0.25 – 0.5 tsp salt
  • 0.25 tsp ground black pepper

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat air fryer at 200 °C (400 °F) for 5 minutes. I use a Ninja Air Fryer.
  2. Use kitchen roll to pat the pork belly dry.
  3. Cut the pork into bite-size pieces roughly 1.5 – 2 cm thick.
  4. Add the pork to a large bowl along with the rest of the ingredients (garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper). Mix well.
  5. Spread the seasoned pork bites on the crisper tray in the air fryer pan.
  6. Air fry for 5 minutes at 200 °C (400 °F) . Use tongs to turn the pork over. Air fry again for a further 5 minutes. If you would like the pork to be super crispy then you can turn the pork over again and air fry for a further 5 minutes.

NOTES

  • Serve drizzled with your preferred sauce – I love this with hoisin sauce.

Golden Vegetable Rice

Golden vegetable rice is a quick and easy savoury side dish that’s perfect for when you fancy a change from plain rice. This golden rice gets its flavour from stock, and its colour from turmeric. It is packed with vegetables and it makes the perfect accompaniment to fish or chicken. I often see ready-made, microwaveable versions of this in the supermarkets, however, not only this super simple to make from scratch, but the homemade version tastes way better and is much healthier for you.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Long Grain Rice: Use a good quality rice such as Tilda.
  • Turmeric: Gives the rice a golden yellow colour.
  • Stock: I use stock made up from one chicken Oxo stock cube. You could use fresh stock if you have it, and vegetable stock works too.

How To Make Golden Vegetable Rice

Step One: Heat 1 tbsp light olive oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.

Step Two: Add 0.5 onion finely chopped and cook for 5 minutes until soft.

Step Three: Add in 2 cloves garlic minced and 0.5 tsp turmeric and cook for an additional 2 minutes.

Step Four: Add in 265 g long grain rice and 500 ml chicken or vegetable stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with the lid and leave to cook for 10 minutes.

Step Five: Add in 75 g frozen mixed vegetables to the top and cover again with the lid. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Step Six: Mix the vegetables into the rice and season with salt and pepper.

How To Serve Golden Vegetable Rice

  • Serve as a side dish with fish or chicken. This is superb with Blackened Salmon.

Tips for Making Golden Vegetable Rice

  • Use a good quality parboiled long grain rice as these tend to stay firm when cooked, preventing soggy rice. My rice of preference in Tilda Long Grain Rice.
  • The idea is to add enough liquid (stock) such that it is absorbed by the rice, and so that there is no need to drain the rice when cooked. If you find that the rice is getting cooked, but that there is still a lot of stock visible then take the lid off the pan. This will allow some of the water to evaporate.

Golden Vegetable Rice Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
5 minutes
Cooking Time:
20 – 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 0.5 onion finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 0.5 tsp ground turmeric
  • 265 g long grain rice
  • 500 ml stock (chicken or vegetable)
  • 75 g frozen mixed vegetables
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add in the garlic and turmeric and cook for an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and the stock and bring to a simmer. Cover with the lid and leave to cook for 15 minutes.
  5. Add the vegetables to the top and cover again with the lid. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
  6. Mix the vegetables into the rice and season with salt and pepper.

NOTES

  • Serve with chicken or fish.

Peach Cobbler

This classic US dessert hails from the Southern states. It consists of sweet peaches enveloped in a light, cakey, buttery, batter – think Toad in the Hole, but instead of sausage being surrounded in batter it’s peaches surrounded in batter, and baked until the batter is golden. Apple crumble had always been my go-to easy dessert, however this is a wonderful alternative. It can be served warm with custard for a nice winter dessert. Alternatively it can be served with ice cream. With spring on the way, and the progression of a somewhat promising route out of this pandemic, this change-up in our dessert routine has also helped to fill me with a sense of optimism.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Peaches: I use two tins of peach slices. I prefer the peaches in natural juice as opposed to in syrup, but that’s just my personal choice.
  • Butter: Adds a richness to the batter.
  • Baking Powder: This ingredient, combined with the hot butter causes the batter to rise around the peaches.

How To Make Peach Cobbler

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/ 350 °F/ Gas Mark 4).

Step Two: Spread 95 g unsalted butter out on the base of a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan. Place it in the oven for around 5 minutes until the butter has melted. I use my 9″ x 13″ Circulon Cake Pan.

Step Three: In the meantime, add two 400 g tins of peach slices drained to a large bowl. Mix in 1/4 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla essence and the 2 tbsp sugar. Set aside.

Step Four: In another bowl add in 150 g flour, 95 g caster sugar, 1 tsp baking powder and a pinch of salt and mix well. Whisk in 150 ml whole milk until a smooth batter is formed.

Step Five: Remove the cake pan from the oven and pour the batter over the butter. Use a spoon to spread the batter out, but do not mix the butter and the batter together.

Step Six: Arrange the peaches on top of the batter.

Step Seven: Place the cake pan back into the oven. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until the batter has risen and is golden brown in colour.

How To Serve Peach Cobbler

  • This dessert can be served either warm or cold, with custard, ice cream or whipped cream.

Tips for Making Peach Cobbler

  • Bake on a low heat, but for a longer time. The idea is to cook the peaches so that they are nice and tender, as well as to brown and crisp up the batter.

Peach Cobbler Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
5
Cooking Time:
50 – 60 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 95 g unsalted butter cubed
  • 2x 400 g tinned peaches drained
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar.
  • 150 g plain flour
  • 95 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • pinch salt
  • 150 ml whole milk

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/ 350 °F/ Gas Mark 4).
  2. Spread the butter out on the base of a 23 cm x 33 cm (9″ x 13″) cake pan. Place it in the oven for around 5 minutes until the butter has melted. I use my 9″ x 13″ Circulon Cake Pan.
  3. In the meantime, add the peaches to a large bowl. Mix in the cinnamon, vanilla essence and the 2 tablespoons of sugar. Set aside.
  4. In another bowl add in the flour, additional caster sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well. Whisk in the milk until a smooth batter is formed.
  5. Remove the cake pan from the oven and pour the batter over the butter. Use a spoon to spread the batter out, but do not mix the butter and the batter together.
  6. Arrange the peaches on top of the batter.
  7. Place the cake pan back into the oven. Bake for 50 – 60 minutes until the batter has risen and is golden brown in colour.

NOTES

  • Serve warm with ice cream.

Air Fryer Cajun Prawns

Prawns are such a quick and easy protein source for easy weekday meals. They are wonderful because they are awesome at absorbing the flavours of any herbs and spices they are mixed with. One of my go-to dinner recipes is cajun prawns cooked in the air fryer. They are succulent, full of flavour and literally take less than 10 minutes to cook in the air fryer.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • King Prawns: I use raw king prawns as I want them to be succulent once cooked.
  • Cajun Spice Blend: I make my own spice blend from smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, mustard powder, ground all spice and ground ginger.

How To Make Air Fryer Cajun Prawns

Step One: Pre-heat the air fryer at 200 °C (400 °F) for 5 minutes. I use my Ninja Air Fryer

Step Two: Mix together 2 tsp smoked paprika, 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper, 0.5 tsp mustard powder, 1/8 tsp ground all spice and 1/8 tsp ground ginger.

Step Three: Pour 4 tbsp melted butter and the spice blend from the previous step over 500 g raw king prawns and mix well.

Step Four: Spread the prawns out in an even layer on the crisper tray. Cook for 4 minutes.

Step Five: Turn the prawns over and cook for a further 4 minutes.

How To Serve Air Fryer Cajun Prawns

  • Serve with rice, lemon wedges and a garden salad.

Tips for Making Air Fryer Cajun Prawns

  • Don’t overcook the prawns as they will become tough in texture.

Air Fryer Cajun Prawns Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
5 minutes
Cooking Time:
8 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 500 g raw king prawns
  • 4 tbsp butter melted
  • 2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 0.5 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 0.5 tsp mustard powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground all spice
  • 1/8 tsp ground ginger

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat the air fryer at 200 °C (400 °F) for 5 minutes.
  2. Mix the spices together.
  3. Pour the melted butter and spices over the prawns and mix well.
  4. Spread the prawns out in an even layer on the crisper tray. Cook for 4 minutes. You might have to cook the prawns in two batches if your air fryer is small.
  5. Turn the prawns over and cook for a further 4 minutes.

NOTES

  • Serve with lemon wedges.

Sticky Hoisin Ribs

If you are a fan of ribs and are awaiting barbecue season, then this oven baked ribs recipe is one to try. Tender, fall of the bone meat with a sticky, sweet and salty hoisin glaze. These ribs are always a hit with my family. The ribs are first brined in the fridge. Then they are steamed in the oven before being slathered in hoisin sauce and caramelised to perfection.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pork Ribs: I get these from my local supermarket and they come cut into individual ribs (as opposed to the whole rack).
  • Salt: This is the key ingredient for making a brine. Brine is basically a solution containing salt and water. It can also contain herbs and spices for extra flavour. Meat can be soaked in brine and this causes the meat to absorb the water. In this recipe soaking the ribs in a salt-water-spice solution adds depth of flavour and the salt also makes the meat on the ribs more succulent.
  • Hoisin Sauce: I personally love Lee Kum Kee hoisin sauce. It has a lovely sweet and salty flavour with a hint of garlic. It’s quite concentrated, so a little goes a long way.

How To Make Sticky Hoisin Ribs

Step One: Add 3 cloves garlic minced, 1 tbsp onion powder, 2 tsp salt and 1.5 tsp brown sugar to a medium sized baking dish. Add enough water to just add a layer of liquid to the bottom of the dish and mix well until the sugar and salt has dissolved.

Step Two: Add in the ribs and make sure they are coated in the liquid. Top up with warm/room temperature water such that the ribs are completely submerged in liquid.

Step Three: Cover with clingfilm and place the baking dish in the fridge for 2 hours to over night.

Step Four: Preheat your oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional/Gas Mark 6/400 °F).

Step Five: Transfer the ribs to another baking dish and cover with foil. Discard the brine. Bake the ribs with the foil on for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 200 °C fan (220 °C conventional/Gas Mark 7/425 °F).

Step Six: Brush the ribs all over with half of the hoisin sauce (50 g) and return the ribs to the oven for a further 10 minutes.

Step Seven: Brush the ribs all over with the remaining (50 g) of hoisin sauce and turn the ribs over. Cook for another 10 minutes until the ribs are starting to go brown and the sauce begins to caramelise.

How To Serve Sticky Hoisin Ribs

  • For a Chinese style meal serve with stir fried noodles and vegetables, or fried rice.
  • Ribs are a great addition to a fakeaway – sometimes I also cook ribs on pizza night.

Tips for Making Sticky Hoisin Ribs

  • The brine really does add flavour to the meat. Even if you only have enough time to brine the ribs in the fridge for an hour do not skip this step. Brining the ribs over night is more ideal.
  • These can also be cooked on the barbecue. Just follow the steps to when the ribs are steamed in the oven (Step 5) and then finish the ribs off on the barbecue.

Sticky Hoisin Ribs Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
5 mins
(plus 2 hours to over night for brining)
Cooking Time:
1 hour

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1.5 tsp brown sugar
  • hot water and warm water
  • 700 g pork ribs
  • 100 g Hoisin sauce

METHOD

  1. Add the garlic, onion powder, salt and sugar to a medium sized baking dish. Add enough water to just add a layer of liquid to the bottom of the dish and mix well until the sugar and salt has dissolved.
  2. Add in the ribs and make sure they are coated in the liquid. Top up with warm/room temperature water such that the ribs are completely submerged in liquid.
  3. Cover with clingfilm and place the baking dish in the fridge for 2 hours to over night.
  4. Preheat oven to 180 °C fan (200 °C conventional/Gas Mark 6/400 °F).
  5. Transfer the ribs to another baking dish and cover with foil. Discard the brine. Bake the ribs with the foil on for 40 minutes. Increase the heat to 200 °C fan (220 °C conventional/Gas Mark 7/425 °F).
  6. Brush the ribs all over with hoisin sauce and return the ribs to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  7. Brush the ribs all over with a second coat of hoisin sauce and turn the ribs over. Cook for another 10 minutes until the ribs are starting to go brown and the sauce begins to caramelise.

Easy Chicken and Lentil Curry

This easy, hearty curry can be made in minutes and is perfect for busy week day evenings. It contains tender chicken thigh fillets, red lentils and chopped tomatoes, but is brought together by a super tasty blend of spices. Serve with basmati rice and steamed veggies for a healthy family dinner packed full of protein and flavour.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Chicken Thigh Fillets: I love chicken thigh fillets as they are succulent and more flavoursome than chicken breast.
  • Peeled chopped tomatoes: The curry sauce is tomato based, so is a little healthier than those based on coconut milk.
  • Red Lentils: Red lentils do not require as much time to cook as some other lentil varieties so they are ideal for this quick curry.
  • Curry Powder, Garam Masala, Ground Ginger, Ground Fenugreek: This blend of spices brings a wonderful flavour to the dish and ties it all together.

How To Make Easy Chicken and Lentil Curry

Step 1: In a large pan heat 2 tbsp light olive oil on a medium-low heat. Fry 1 large finely chopped onion for 5 – 7 minutes until soft and translucent. I like to use a large wok with a lid for this.

Step 2: Add in 3 cloves minced garlic, 1.5 tbsp medium curry powder, 0.5 tsp garam masala, 0.5 tsp ground ginger and 2 tsp ground fenugreek, and cook for an additional 2 minutes stirring throughout.

Step 3: Add in 1 kg chicken thigh fillets, 100 g rinsed red lentils, 400 g peeled chopped tomatoes and 200ml water and stir well. Turn up the heat a little to bring it all to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes without the lid.

Step 4: Give it a stir and then cover the pan with the lid. Allow to simmer with the lid on for a further 15 minutes, stirring again after 7 minutes.

Step 5: Add 0.5 tsp dried coriander and 0.5 – 0.75 tsp salt (according to your taste) and stir through again.

How To Serve Easy Chicken and Lentil Curry

  • Serve with basmati rice, and your choice of steamed vegetables.
  • For a more indulgent meal add a drizzle of plain yoghurt, and also serve with my paratha roti or easy garlic naan.

Tips for Making Easy Chicken and Lentil Curry

  • Take a bit of time to fry the onions until they are soft and translucent as this releases a nice savoury, but less pungent, flavour of the onion which makes the perfect base for this dish.

Easy Chicken and Lentil Curry Recipe


Serves:
4 – 6
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Cooking Time:
35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 tbsp light olive oil
  • 1 large onion peeled and finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic minced
  • 1.5 tbsp mild curry powder
  • 0.5 tsp garam masala
  • 0.5 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp ground fenugreek
  • 1 kg chicken thigh fillets
  • 100 g red lentils
  • 400 g peeled chopped tomatoes
  • 200 ml water
  • 0.5 tsp dried coriander
  • salt to taste (around 0.5 – 0.75 tsp)

METHOD

  1. In a large pan heat the oil on a medium-low heat. Fry the onions for 5 – 7 minutes until soft and translucent. A large wok with a lid is ideal for this.
  2. Add the garlic and spices (curry powder, garam masala, ground ginger and fenugreek) and cook for an additional 2 minutes stirring throughout.
  3. Add in the chicken, lentils, tomatoes and water and stir well. Turn up the heat a little to bring it all to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes without the lid.
  4. Give it a stir and then cover the pan with the lid. Allow to simmer with the lid on for a further 15 minutes, stirring again after 7 minutes.
  5. Add the coriander and salt and stir through again.

NOTES

  • Garnish with some additional dried coriander and a drizzle of plain yoghurt.

Sticky Toffee Pudding

This classic British dessert has become one of my favourite desserts to make at home. It consists of a light moist dark sponge, sweetened with dates and soaked in a delicious rich toffee sauce. I normally don’t tend to order this dessert when I go out to eat as I find it can sometimes be overly sweet, however I’ve perfected my recipe so it’s lighter on the sugars, but still super delicious. I also go against tradition by adding a tiny bit of cinnamon to the sponge. Now, the cinnamon flavour is not at all dominant in the end result, but you catch a hint of it as you eat the sponge and it really compliments the toffee-ness.

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Even if you’re not a fan of dried fruit in cakes or desserts, please do not over look this pudding. You really will not be able to tell that the dates are present in the sponge – especially since in my version I blend my dates before they are added to my sponge cake batter. This pudding is very easy to make and the flavour of the sponge coupled with the toffee sauce is superb.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Medjool Dates: This is the main sweetener in the sponge. It has a natural sweet toffee flavour and gives the sponge a lovely gooey moistness.
  • Tea Bag: Traditionally the dates are first soaked in tea prior to being mixed into the sponge batter. I’m not sure exactly why the tea is needed as there is no underlying tea flavour in the resultant cake, but it works.
  • Muscovado Sugar: Adds to the toffee flavour.
  • Butter: I use lightly salted butter in the sponge as well as in the toffee sauce as the saltiness contributes towards the toffee flavours.
  • Cream: This is used to make the toffee sauce. Double cream is typically used, but I use Elmlea Plant Double Cream Alternative and the resultant sauce is divine (you would never tell that it’s not dairy).

How To Make Sticky Toffee Pudding

Step One: Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/Gas mark 4/ 350 °F), and grease and line a rectangular baking tin roughly 21 cm x 30 cm (the base should be roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper).

Step Two: Place 175 g Medjool dates in a ceramic bowl, pour over 150 ml hot water, add 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda and an English tea bag. Leave them to soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bag and add in 1 tsp vanilla essence. Blitz the dates and the liquid in the blender for around 10 to 20 seconds until a smooth paste is formed. I use my Nutribullet for this.

Step Three: In the meantime, cream together 175 g lightly salted butter, 30 g brown sugar and 40 g muscovado sugar, and then whisk in 2 medium eggs, 100 ml whole milk and the date paste from Step One.

Step Four: Sift in 175 g self-raising flour and 0.25 tsp cinnamon, and fold them in to the liquid ingredients.

Step Five: Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean.

Step Six: In the meantime make the toffee sauce. Place 75 g lightly salted butter, 70 g muscovado sugar and 150 ml double cream into a small saucepan over a gentle low heat. Cook until the butter and sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth, around 10 minutes. Do not allow it to bubble or boil.

Step Seven: When the sponge has baked remove it from the oven and spoon and smooth out half of the toffee sauce over the top. Leave the sponge for around 10 minutes to absorb the sauce before cutting it into squares and serving with the remaining warm toffee sauce.

How To Serve Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Serve the warm sponge with warm toffee sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making Sticky Toffee Pudding

  • Soak the dates in hot water with a tea bag for at least 10 minutes to soften them up. Some people just mash the soaked dates with a fork, however I prefer a smoother sponge so I put the dates and all the liquid in the blender.
  • When preparing your baking tin, there’s no need to be neat. Simply grease the tin with butter and then cut a large rectangle of baking paper, slightly larger than the size of your tin to account for the sides. Scrunch the baking paper tightly into a ball and then un-crease it and smooth it into the tin. Don’t worry if the paper doesn’t sit flush against the tin as the sponge batter will expand as it bakes. The flavours definitely surpass the presentation in this dessert.
  • Go slow when making the toffee sauce – use a low heat and be patient. Do not allow it to boil as this will alter the flavour and texture of the sauce.

Sticky Toffee Pudding Recipe


Serves:
12
Preparation Time:
15 minutes
Cooking Time:
25 – 30 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge:

  • 175 g Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
  • 150 ml hot water
  • 1 English tea bag
  • 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 175 g lightly salted butter
  • 30 g brown sugar
  • 40 g muscovado sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 100 ml whole milk (or oat milk)
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon (optional)
  • 175 g self-raising flour

For the toffee sauce:

  • 75 g lightly salted butter
  • 70 g muscovado sugar
  • 150 ml double cream (or plant-based alternative)

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C conventional/Gas mark 4/ 350 °F), and grease and line a rectangular baking tin roughly 21 cm x 30 cm (the base should be roughly the size of an A4 sheet of paper).
  2. Place the dates in a ceramic bowl, pour the hot water on top and add the bicarbonate of soda and the tea bag. Leave them to soak for at least 10 minutes, then remove and discard the tea bag and add in the vanilla essence. Blitz the dates and the liquid in the blender for around 10 to 20 seconds until a smooth paste is formed. I use my Nutribullet for this.
  3. In the meantime, cream the butter and the sugars together and then whisk in the eggs, milk and the date paste.
  4. Sift in the flour and the cinnamon and fold them in to the liquid ingredients.
  5. Pour the batter into the baking tin and bake for 25 – 35 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the sponge comes out clean.
  6. In the meantime make the toffee sauce. Place the butter, sugar and cream into a small saucepan over a gentle low heat. Cook until the butter and sugar has melted and the mixture is smooth, around 10 minutes. Do not allow it to bubble or boil.
  7. When the sponge has baked remove it from the oven and spoon and smooth out half of the toffee sauce over the top. Leave the sponge for around 10 minutes to absorb the sauce before cutting it into squares and serving with the remaining warm toffee sauce.

NOTES

  • This is great served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and the remaining warm toffee sauce.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

This is such a fun retro cake, but until lockdown happened I’d never tried it before. Once I’d perfected my recipe I couldn’t stop making it. When I see the pretty pineapple and glace cherry topping makes me happy. The cake itself consists of a vanilla sponge, I add a little allspice to my cake for a Caribbean twist. The sponge is then topped with pineapple rings and glace cherries, and a buttery caramelised sugar syrup.

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Pineapple upside down cake is super easy to make and all the beauty of the presentation comes from how it is put together before it is baked. A layer of creamed butter and sugar is first spread on the bottom of the cake tin. The pineapple rings and glace cherries are then arranged on top of this sugar-butter mixture – you can have fun with this bit, but usually the glace cherry halves are placed in the centre of the pineapple rings. Next, the cake batter is poured on top. After the cake is baked it is then turned out onto a plate or cake stand, and voila – the pineapple and cherries now form a pretty topping.


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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Pineapple Rings: Forms the main topping of the cake and adds a slight fruity flavour to the sponge.
  • Glace Cherries: These are more decorative than for flavour.
  • Butter, Sugar, Eggs, Flour: General sponge cake ingredients.
  • Ground Allspice: Not a traditional ingredient in pineapple upside down cake, but it works really well with pineapple.

How To Make Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).

Step Two: Cream 50 g unsalted butter with 50 g caster sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.

Step Three: Arrange 6 pineapple rings on top of the butter sugar mixture. I overlap the rings in a circle. Add a 6 glace cherry halves to the centre of each of the pineapple rings such that the dome of the cherry faces down. If space permits add an additional glace cherry half to the centre of the pineapple ring circle.

Step Four: In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together 100 g butter and 80 g caster sugar until pale and fluffy.

Step Five: Whisk in 2 medium eggs and 1 tsp vanilla essence.

Step Six: Sift in 100 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder, and 1/8 tsp ground allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.

Step Seven: Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.

Step Eight: Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Nine: Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

How To Serve Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • This cake can be served warm or cold. It is perfect with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Tips for Making Pineapple Upside Down Cake

  • It is best to make this cake using a fixed bottom cake tin. However, if all you have is a loose bottom tin then be sure to place it on a baking tray as some of the butter-sugar syrup may leak.
  • Allow the cake to cool down for around 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or cake stand.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake Recipe


Serves:
8
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Cooking Time:
45 – 50 minutes

INGREDIENTS

for the topping:

  • 50 g unsalted butter
  • 50 g caster sugar
  • 6 pineapple rings
  • 7 glace cherry halves

for the sponge cake:

  • 100 g unsalted butter
  • 80 g caster sugar
  • 2 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 100 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan (180 °C/350 °F/Gas Mark 4).
  2. Cream the butter and sugar and spread this mixture on the bottom of a 18 cm cake tin.
  3. Arrange the pineapple rings and glace cherries on top of the butter-sugar mixture.
  4. In the meantime make the cake batter. Cream together the butter and sugar until pale an fluffy.
  5. Whisk in the eggs and vanilla essence.
  6. Sift in the flour, baking powder, and allspice, then fold it in to the wet ingredients.
  7. Pour the batter into the cake tin over the pineapple and glace cherries.
  8. Bake in the oven for 45 to 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  9. Allow the cake to cool in the cake tin for 10 minutes before turning it out onto a plate or a cake stand.

NOTES

  • If using a loose bottom cake tin, place it on a baking tray during baking as the butter syrup may leak.

Turkish-Style Yoghurt Soup with Chicken and Wild Rice

This rich chicken soup contains yoghurt and shredded chicken for protein, hearty wild rice and a delicious paprika garlic butter. I first tried this at one of my local Turkish restaurants. I loved it, and knew I had to learn to make it myself. It’s such an easy soup to make. Great for lunches, or when you’re feeling under the weather, and it also makes an impressive starter.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Chicken Fillets and Chicken Stock: The base of the soup is chicken stock. The shredded chicken meat makes it more fulfilling.
  • Egg Yolk and Yoghurt: Add a slight thickness and creaminess to the soup, though it’s not as creamy as most british soups which normally contain cream. The yoghurt also adds a slight tanginess which works well with the paprika and garlic.
  • Wild Rice: The rice gives this soup more substance and makes it really hearty. Traditional recipes use white rice however, I use wild rice in my version as it has a slight nutty flavour that balances well with the rest of the soup flavours.
  • Paprika Garlic Butter: Think of this as a soup garnish, but it gives the soup flavours more of a wow factor and adds a lovely red/orange colour to the soup.

How To Make Turkish-Style Yoghurt Soup with Chicken and Wild Rice

Step One: In a small saucepan bring 240 ml water to the boil. Add in 90 g wild rice and lower the heat. Simmer with the lid on for around 50 minutes until the rice is cooked.

Step Two: In the meantime add 1 tbsp olive oil to a large saucepan on a medium heat add one medium onion diced and cook for around 5 minutes until softened.

Step Three: Add in one carrot diced and cook for a further 3 minutes.

Step Four: Add in 500 g chicken thigh or breast fillets, along with 1 litre chicken stock, and simmer for 25 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Step Five: Drain and remove the chicken fillets. Use two forks to pull the meat apart so that it is shredded. Set aside.

Step Six: Strain the chicken stock. Discard the carrot and onion.

Step Seven: In a large bowl add in 240 ml plain yoghurt, one egg yolk and 2 tbsp plain flour. Whisk together until smooth.

Step Eight: Spoon the chicken stock into the yoghurt-egg yolk-flour mixture around 2 tablespoonfuls at a time to begin with and whisk thoroughly. Gradually add in more and more stock until all the stock has been incorporated. Really go slow with this step so that the egg doesn’t curdle.

Step Nine: Add this mixture back into the saucepan along with the shredded chicken and cooked wild rice. Simmer for a further 5 minutes.

Step Ten: Make the paprika garlic butter. In a small frying pan heat 2 tbsp unsalted butter over a medium-low heat. Add in 3 cloves garlic crushed, 2 tsp paprika and 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper. Fry for around 3 minutes until the garlic starts to go brown.

Step Eleven: Either add the paprika garlic butter mixture to the rest of the soup and stir in, or dish the soup into four bowls and drizzle decoratively with the paprika garlic butter.

How To Serve Turkish-Style Yoghurt Soup with Chicken and Wild Rice

  • This can be eaten as a meal on its own.
  • You can also serve this with crusty bread.

Tips for Making Turkish-Style Yoghurt Soup with Chicken and Wild Rice

  • You can substitute white rice (basmati or long grain) for wild rice. In fact this is a great dish for using up leftover cooked rice.
  • You can also substitute the chicken fillets with cooked chicken (like left over roast chicken), just add the cooked chicken in at the end with the rice.
  • Be sure to add the stock to the yoghurt-egg yolk-flour mixture very gradually to prevent the egg from curdling. Really be patient with this step – it’s totally worth it.
  • You can also make this dairy free by substituting the yoghurt with oatgurt, and you can substitute the butter with olive oil.
  • If making this as a cold and flu remedy add in an additional 2 crushed cloves of garlic at Step Four when the stock is added to the pan.

Turkish-Style Yoghurt Soup with Chicken and Wild Rice Recipe


Serves:
4
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Cooking Time:
55 minutes

INGREDIENTS

  • 240 ml water
  • 90 g wild rice
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 1 carrot diced
  • 500 g skinless and boneless chicken thigh fillets
  • 1 litre chicken stock
  • 240 ml plain yoghurt
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tbsp plain flour
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tsp paprika
  • 0.25 tsp cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

METHOD

  1. Bring the water to the boil, add in the rice, then turn down the heat to a simmer. Cook the rice with the lid on for 50 minutes.
  2. In the meantime add the olive oil to a large saucepan and heat on a medium heat. Add the onions and cook for around 5 minutes until soft.
  3. Add the carrot and cook for a further 3 minutes.
  4. Add in the chicken and the stock. Cover with lid and simmer for 25 minutes.
  5. Remove the chicken fillets and use two forks to pull the chicken apart shredding the meat.
  6. Strain the stock. Discard the onions and carrot.
  7. In a large bowl add the yoghurt, egg white and flour, and whisk well until smooth.
  8. Spoon a little stock into the yoghurt-egg-flour mixture and whisk. Gradually add in more and more stock whisking well until the mixture becomes more liquid and all the stock is incorporated.
  9. Add this back into the saucepan with the shredded chicken and cooked rice, and place on a low heat to simmer for a further 5 minutes.
  10. Heat the butter in a frying pan over a medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted add in the garlic, followed by the paprika and cayenne pepper.
  11. Add this paprika garlic butter mixture to the rest of the soup. Stir and serve.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

This chocolate and cherry cake consists of multiple layers of chocolate sponge separated by layers of cherry jam and fresh cream. It’s super easy to make. The sponge can be made ahead and the cake can be assembled in a few minutes prior to eating. You can top it with additional cream, a sprinkling of cocoa powder and fresh stemmed cherries for a cute rustic look. It’s sure to impress at any tea party.

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Key Ingredients

(see below for full list of ingredients)

  • Self-raising flour: This gives the cake a light texture and gives it the right amount of rise as it bakes.
  • Cocoa Powder: Use good quality cocoa powder.
  • Cherry Jam: I use Hartley’s Best Black Cherry Jam
  • Cream: Whipped double cream works well. However I prefer to use Elmlea Plant Double Cream.

How To Make Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

Step One: Pre-heat your oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Then grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins with baking paper. I use two of my trusty MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tin.

Step Two: Add 200 g unsalted butter to a large mixing bowl, along with 200 g caster sugar and 1 tsp vanilla essence and cream them together until they are light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.

Step Three: Add in 4 large eggs beaten a little at a time, whisking well after each addition.

Step Four: Sift in 200 g self-raising flour, 1 tsp baking powder and 3 tbsp cocoa powder and fold in with a spatula.

Step Five: Divide the cake batter evenly between the two prepared cake tins. Bake in the middle shelf of the oven for 20 – 25 minutes, until a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.

Step Six: Leave cakes to cool in their tins for 10 minutes, before removing them from the tins. Place them on a wired baking rack to cool further.

Step Seven: Once the cakes have cooled down use a cake leveller, some dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each one in half such that you end up with four layers.

Step Eight: Spread around 83 g cherry jam (approximately a third of the jam) on top of the first layer of chocolate sponge, leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with 50 ml whipped cream (around a quarter of the cream), then place the next layer of sponge on top. Repeat this for the next two layers of the cake.

Step Nine: Add the remaining 50 ml whipped cream to the top of the cake. Use a sieve to dust the top with 1 tsp cocoa powder, then top with 200 g fresh stemmed cherries, stems facing upwards.

How To Serve Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • This is great for afternoon tea, bake sales or parties.

Tips for Making Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake

  • Ensure your butter (and eggs, if you keep your eggs in the fridge,) are at room temperature. Remove them from the fridge around an hour or an hour and a half before you’re ready to make the cake.
  • Do not over bake the sponge, as it will dry out at the edges.

Easy Chocolate and Cherry Cake Recipe


Serves:
8 – 12
Preparation Time:
10 minutes
Baking Time:
20 – 25 minutes

INGREDIENTS

For the sponge:

  • 200 g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 200 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 4 large eggs beaten
  • 200 g self-raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 3 tbsp cocoa powder

For the filling and topping:

  • 200 ml double cream, whipped
  • 250 g cherry jam
  • 1 tsp cocoa powder
  • 200 g fresh stemmed cherries

METHOD

  1. Pre-heat oven to 160 °C fan, (180 °C conventional, 350 °F). Grease and line two loose bottom 18 cm cake tins. I use two MasterClass 18 cm Deep Cake Tins.
  2. In a large mixing bowl cream together the butter, caster sugar and vanilla essence until light and fluffy. I use my Russell Hobbs 24672 Desire Electric Hand Mixer.
  3. Add the eggs in little by little, whisking after each addition.
  4. Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa powder, then fold in using a spatula.
  5. Divide the cake batter between the two baking tins. Bake for 20 – 25 minutes until the top of the cake springs back up when you press lightly on it, and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean.
  6. Allow the cakes to cool for 10 minutes before removing them from the cake tins. Allow them to cool further on a rack.
  7. When the cakes have cooled down, use a cake leveller, dental floss or a long sharp knife to cut each cake in half such that you end up with four layers.
  8. Spread a third of the jam on top of the bottom layer leaving 2 cm from the edge. Top this with a quarter of the whipped cream. Place a layer of chocolate sponge on top. Repeat this until the cake has four layers.
  9. Add the remaining whipped cream to the top of the cake. Lightly sift the cocoa powder on top and finally top with the cherries.

NOTES

  • You can alternatively use strawberry or raspberry jam for the filling and top with fresh berries.