Monthly Archives: February 2011

Comfort food isn’t always meant to be shared…

Baking de-stresses me (until it starts going wrong) and cheers me up.  When I feel a little glum, my comfort food is either cheese or baked goods of some description (rather than, say, just eating chocolate).  So usually I’ll bake a batch of muffins (I love muffins) or cookies, eat a couple to make myself feel slightly better and give the rest out to various friends.

I’ve been feeling a bit miserable over the last few weeks and I’ve baked cupcakes, macarons, cookies, etc., but I guess various issues going on at the moment as well as several instances of incompetency on the part of the School of Biology combined with the awful weather that we’ve been having lately all mean that I haven’t really cheered up (I realise this sounds like I’m about to descend into full-blown depression, but I’m not, don’t worry!).  I also don’t really like the month of February, which doesn’t help.  Anyway, so the other evening I was feeling rather wretched and wanted to bake something, but I was also feeling a bit selfish and wasn’t really up for being sociable and sharing.  So that meant muffins were out, since most of my recipes only use 1 egg but make about 18 muffins, and I wasn’t about to faff around splitting an egg into sixths.  Whilst I was moping around the kitchen trying to work out what to make that wouldn’t take too long and also wouldn’t require any egg-splitting, I discovered that for some obscure reason I had one of those individual packets of rice krispies.  I also remembered that I had some mini marshmallows.  There was really only ever going to be one possible conclusion: marshmallow rice krispie treats for one…  And they were exactly what I needed!

Marshmallow rice krispie treats

Makes 4 small individual treats (might serve 2 people, if you’re disciplined)
Based on Bake Me More

The amount of ingredients can be scaled up as much as necessary depending on how big a dish you would like to fill.  I think for a 20×30 cm dish you’ll probably need about 140g of rice krispies.


10g butter
50g mini marshmallows
20g rice krispies


1.  Melt the butter in a small heatproof bowl over the top of a pan of simmering water.  Once the butter has just melted, add 40g of the mini marshmallows and mix with a spatula or metal spoon until the marshmallows have melted.

2.  Remove the bowl from the heat, add the rice krispies and remaining 10g of the mini marshmallows and mix until they are all coated in the marshmallow goo (since it’s such a small quantity, I found it easier to mix them together with my hands – it gets messy though).

3.  Split the rice krispie mixture between four silicone muffin cases (you could use a normal metal muffin tin, though make sure to lightly butter it first) and press it down.  Allow to cool fully before eating.




Filed under Ramblings, Recipes, Sweet Foods

Chilli chai chocolate c(h)upcakes

In case you’re wondering what on Earth a chupcake is, it’s just a case of me getting a bit over-enthusiastic with the aliteration…  You can stop worrying that it’s a chupa-chups (you know, those lollipops) baked into a cake or something.  My gosh, can you imagine?  How gross!

So now that we’ve clarified that, I’ll get started on my rambling…  I’ve discovered a new challenge series: We Should Cocoa.  It’s all about combining a specified ingredient into something chocolate-y.  Amazing, right?  So this month the challenge is being hosted by Choclette at the Chocolate Log Blog and the special ingredient is “Tea.”  I was discussing this latest discovery with Kat when we came across an Earl Grey chocolate cupcake recipe (which looks amazing by the way – I will definitely be trying it out soon!) but guess what?  It’s a submission to the same challenge, ha ha.  Time for a little re-think…

We’re big fans of the teapigs range (and I mean BIG fans), and amongst their wonderful selection of teas they have a rather amazing chilli chai.  So we took inspiration from it and decided that we could adapt the aforementioned cupcake recipe (because it just looks so good), but use chai tea instead of Earl Grey, throw in some chilli, cinnamon and cloves, and top it off with a plain buttercream icing, a dusting of cinnamon and a sprinkling of chilli flakes.  Uhm, yes please!

We had originally planned on making the icing red (as in chilli pepper red), but I completely forgot to get some red food colouring paste, so we ended up using a combination of liquid red food colouring and the pink colouring paste that I happened to have – hence why they are pink (oops).  They’re pretty though, so whatever!  They also tasted rather awesome (if I do say so myself) – first you get the chocolate, followed by the chai and then you’re left with a subtle chilli after-taste.  So is adapting a recipe that’s being submitted to the same challenge sort of cheating?  Well, perhaps a little.  Am I particularly bothered?  These turned out so yummy and so completely unlike the flavours of Earl Grey, that no actually, I’m not all that bothered about it!

Chilli chai chocolate cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Adapted from Tart to Heart

I’ll warn you now, these are so moreish – and they also don’t feel particularly heavy, though they sound like they should!  If you don’t have any buttermilk, just use 75ml of normal milk and add ⅓ tbsp lemon juice, mix and allow to stand for about 10 mins.  Then just add it as instructed (though sieve it first in case any lemon pips snuck in).


For the cupcakes:
70g unsalted butter
75ml vegetable oil
7 tbsp dark cocoa powder, sifted
150ml water
4 tbsp chai tea (this was equivalent to 8 Twinings Chai teabags)
175g all-purpose flour
230g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp hot chilli powder
¾ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
1 egg
75ml buttermilk

For the icing:
150g unsalted butter, softened
300g icing sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
Red (or pink!) food colouring paste (optional)
Ground cinnamon to decorate
Chilli flakes to decorate


To make the cupcakes:
1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Grease a muffin tin or line with 16 muffin cases.

2.  Finely grind the tea leaves using a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (or crush them using a rolling pin – since we were using tea from teabags, it didn’t matter too much that they weren’t super-finely ground) and sift into a small saucepan (if there are only a few big bits left in the sieve, tip them in).  Add the cubed butter, vegetable oil, water and sifted cocoa powder and heat over medium heat.  Whisk constantly until the mixture is smooth and all the butter has melted.  Set to one side and allow to steep for 10 mins.

3.  Sift the flour, sugar, spices, salt and baking soda into a large bowl and whisk to combine.  Incorporate the buttermilk and egg by gently stirring (do this just before the chocolate and tea mixture has finished steeping).  Add the chocolate mixture and stir with a metal spoon until just combined.

4.  Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cases and bake for 15-20 mins, rotating the tin 180° after about 8 mins.  Once removed from the oven, allow to cool slightly in the tins for 10 mins before removing to a wire rack to cool fully.

To make the icing:
5.  Cream the softened butter in a large bowl.  Add the sifted icing sugar, vanilla extract and food colouring and mix (be prepared for a minor icing sugar explosion) until a smooth buttercream is formed.

6.  Pipe the icing onto the fully-cooled cupcakes, dust with a little ground cinnamon and sprinkle some chilli flakes over the top (don’t go overboard on the chilli flakes – trust me!).



Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

Banana, date & pecan “loaflets”

I’ve discovered the Breakfast Club – a challenge to make breakfasts “more than tea and toast” with a different theme each month (you were thinking of the film, weren’t you?)  I love breakfast, I genuinely cannot function without it, so this sounds like a lot of fun to me.  I actually discovered the Breakfast Club last month, and the theme was “Yoghurt” but due to a lack of both inspiration (I wanted to do something other than yoghurt with muesli) and time, I never quite got round to it.  This month’s theme is “To Go” – so breakfast on the commute, etc.

Now, I don’t really do much commuting.  St Andrews is quite small and compact – from my flat, walking to the library takes 2 minutes, my seminars are about 8 minutes away and it takes 15 minutes to walk to the marine labs.  The only time that I tend to have breakfast “on the go” is when I’m running really late and have to grab a cereal bar on my way out the door and wolf it down whilst in a mad rush to wherever I should have been 10 minutes previously.

But that wasn’t going to stop me partaking in the “To Go” challenge.  I think if I did commute, I would probably eat a lot of muffins, just because they are so fun and I love them and if you put dried fruit and oats, etc., in them, I’m sure they would make a fairly healthy, filling breakfast.  I had some bananas that were ripening at an alarming rate, so clearly banana muffins were on the cards.  But then I realised that as much as I love muffins, they’re not the most practical shape if you’re a bit tight on space in your bag and have to take several with you.  Luckily, I have some mini-loaf tins, so I thought, “aha!  Rectangular muffins!  So much more practical to transport!”  In the end, their texture resembled that of a loaf more than a muffin anyway, thus my breakfast “loaflets” were born…

To make them substantial enough to last until lunchtime, I used a recipe that included porridge oats and wholemeal bread flour as a starting base, adding dates and pecans for energy and texture.  The crumbly topping gives the loaflets a nice bit of subtle crunch, though I suppose it makes them slightly less practical to transport – woops.  They turned out rather yummy!  I had one for breakfast yesterday and it kept me going all morning.  I’m sure these would work really well as a big sliced loaf, too.  I’ll try that out at some point and let you know…

Banana, date & pecan loaflets

Makes 6 5×8 cm loaflets
Adapted from several recipes in Mad About Muffins

These can be made the evening before, left to cool and then stored overnight in an airtight container ready for breakfast the next day.  If you’re eating them at home, they’re also yummy sliced in half and spread with butter.  If you are eating them on the go, they’re a tiny bit sticky so having a wet-wipe to hand might be a good idea.


For the batter:
60g all-purpose flour
50g wholemeal bread flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
Pinch of salt
60g porridge oats
60g butter
100g demerrera sugar
250g very ripe bananas (unpeeled weight)
1 egg
½ tsp vanilla extract
35g very hot water
90g ready-to-eat dates, chopped

For the topping:
65g pecans, chopped
50g all-purpose flour
15g demerrera sugar
20g maple syrup
30g butter, softened


1.  Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan oven 160°C.  Grease 6 mini loaf tins (I’m sure this would work as a normal loaf – I haven’t tried it yet though, so I’ll keep you posted.  Do let me know if you try!).

2.  Prepare the topping by combining all the topping ingredients in a bowl and rubbing them together to get a crumbly, lumpy mixture.

3.  Sift the flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a medium-sized bowl.  Tip in any bran from the wholemeal flour that didn’t go through the sieve.  Add the oats and stir all the dry ingredients together.

4.  Melt the butter in a large, heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water.  Once melted, remove the bowl from the pan, add the sugar and mix thoroughly.

5.  Peel the bananas and mash them with a fork in a small bowl.  Add them to the butter and mix thoroughly.

6.  Lightly beat the egg using the same fork and bowl that you just used for the bananas.  Mix the egg and vanilla extract into the butter mixture.

7.  Add half of the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix thoroughly.  Stir in the hot water, and then mix in the rest of the flour mixture.  Stir in the dates.

8.  Spoon the batter evenly into the mini loaf tins (I over-enthusiastically filled mine right up until the top).  Sprinkle the topping over the loaflets and press it down slightly into the batter.

9.  Bake for 30-35 mins (it will be longer if you’re making a normal loaf – I’ll get back to you once I’ve tested it) or until the loaflets are well-risen and golden and a toothpick comes out clean.

10.  Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely before storing in an airtight container until breakfast.



Filed under Recipes, Student Life, Sweet Foods

Cocktail in a cupcake: Mojito

In case you weren’t aware, yesterday was Valentine’s Day.  Now, I’m not a huge fan of Valentine’s Day.  This partially stems from a couple of incredibly awkward situations when I was still at school, but mostly it boils down the fact that I’m a little bit bitter and more than a little bit cynical.  (Though I’ll happily take any roses that unexpectedly come my way – they happen to be my favourite type of flower.  Which I realise is totally cliché.  And probably a little hypocritical, too.)

So the obvious way to ignore Valentine’s Day: cocktails and a James Bond film (we chose Goldfinger) with a couple of friends who share my cynicism.  A suitably non-pink cocktail: the Mojito.  And because we love baking: mojito cupcakes.  Oh yes…

These cupcakes turned out very rummy (would you have expected anything less?), and very yummy – the glaze and added rum soaks right into their centres.  As Kat put it, “I think these are my new favourite cupcakes!”

Mojito cupcakes

Makes 16 cupcakes
Recipe from BakeSpace

Adding rum after the glaze is totally optional, but let’s be honest, why wouldn’t you?  The recipe isn’t quite as time-consuming as it looks, mostly because the glaze can be prepared whilst the cupcakes are in the oven, and the icing whilst they are cooling.  I’m sure that if you used dark or spiced rum, the cupcakes would taste quite different, but equally yummy!


For the cupcakes:
225g butter, softened
200g brown sugar
230g self-raising flour
¼ tsp baking powder
4 eggs
Zest & juice of 1 lime
2 shots white rum
Handful fresh mint, chopped (or you can use 1 tbsp dried mint)

For the glaze:
5 tbsp white rum
Juice of 1 lime (about 2 tbsp)
2 tbsp brown sugar
A few leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped (or 1 tsp dried mint)
Further 8 tbsp white rum (optional)

For the icing:
85g butter, softened
185g icing sugar
Shot of white rum (perhaps a little extra…)
Zest & juice of ½ a lime (about 1 tbsp zest and 1 tbsp juice)
Brown sugar, to taste
Fresh mint, finely chopped (to decorate)


To make the cupcakes:
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.  Line a muffin with tin with 16 paper cases or set out silicone moulds.

2.  Cream the butter and brown sugar together in a large bowl.  Add all the other batter ingredients and mix well.

3.  Spoon the batter evenly into the prepared cases and bake for 18-20 minutes.

To make the glaze:
4.  Whilst the cupcakes bake, mix the glaze ingredients together in a small saucepan.  Set on a low heat and allow to simmer for about 5 minutes until a little syrupy.

5.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven, poke a few holes into the tops of each (I used a pointy chopstick) and about 1 tsp of the glaze per cupcake into them.  Spoon in about ½ tsp of extra rum over the top of the glaze (optional, but so good).  Allow the cupcakes to cool on a wire rack.

To make the icing:
6.  Cream the butter and icing sugar (be prepared for an icing sugar explosion).  Add the rest of the icing ingredients (except the chopped mint) and continue mixing until smooth.

7.  Pipe the icing over each cupcake once they have fully cooled.  Sprinkle with some freshly-chopped mint to garnish before serving.

Enjoy!  (Responsibly, of course…  Ahem.)

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Blueberry, gin, gin & more gin cupcakes

We made these on the same evening that we tasted the blueberry gin, to use up the gin-soaked blueberries.  Our original intention had been to make blueberry and lime cupcakes and add a tiny drop of gin to the icing as we thought it would pair them up quite well with the Blueberry G&Ts that we were planning to eat them with.  All very reasonable-sounding so far…

Now, the blueberries had been soaking for over two weeks – hardly surprising then that they were very gin-y.  In fact, they were more like little solidified bubbles of gin than anything else.  For some obscure reason, I was put in charge of dosing the gin into the icing and, as usual, I got slightly over-enthusiastic – let’s just say that even after an hour-long stint in the freezer, the icing had not set into anything remotely resembling buttercream consistency.  No big deal though – we just spooned it all over the cupcakes, scattered the remaining blueberries over the top, and enthusiastically made a thorough mess eating our blueberry and lime gin cupcakes (I’m serious – there was gin icing all over the place: the kitchen, the coffee table, the carpet, the DVD remote, ourselves).  Proof that minor baking disasters can actually turn out to be strokes of genius…  Or should that be “ginius”?  (Oh aren’t I witty?)

Blueberry & gin cupcakes

Makes 12
Slightly adapted from Butcher, Baker

These were super easy to make (aside from the minor fail regarding the buttercream icing, which was entirely my own fault, and wasn’t such a fail in the end).  If you want to make an actual buttercream icing that you can pipe onto the cupcakes, then just use ½ tbsp of lime juice and perhaps 1 tbsp of gin instead of the quantities given here, but use the same method.


For the cupcakes:
100g self-raising flour
100g caster sugar
100g butter
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
85g gin-soaked blueberries (if you don’t want to make blueberry gin, soak the blueberries overnight in just enough gin to cover them)
Zest of 1 lime

For the gin “glaze”:
90g unsalted butter
180g icing sugar
1 tbsp lime juice (use the juice from the lime that you zested for the cupcakes)
5-8 tbsp gin (depends how gin-y you would like your glaze)
Some blueberries to decorate (optional)


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a muffin tin with 12 paper cases, or set out 12 silicone muffin moulds.

2.  Beat the softened butter and caster sugar together in a bowl until light and fluffy.  Mix in the eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla extract.  Carefully fold in the flour, then the lime zest and the (drained) blueberries.

3.  Spoon the batter into the prepared liners, filling each about ⅔.  Bake for 15-20 mins until golden and risen.  Allow to cool on a wire rack (if using silicone moulds, leave them in for a couple of minutes so they can set before removing them from the moulds).

4.  Prepare the “glaze” whilst the cupcakes are cooling.  Beat the softened butter, icing sugar (it’s easier if you sift it first), lime juice and gin in a bowl until well blended.  Once the cupcakes have cooled completely, arrange them on a plate, spoon (or pipe) the icing over the top, and scatter with blueberries to decorate.


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Salmon & spinach pie with mashed potato topping

I’ve previously mentioned the slightly epic amount of salmon that ended up in my freezer after working in one of the University’s research labs this summer.  I defrosted the last of the tails for Burns Night and made salmon quiche, but I still had some cooked salmon meat left over that didn’t go into the quiche, and I also had mashed potato left over from the haggis, so I decided to attempt making a salmon pie (I should add that I actually made this pie about 10 days ago, but have only just got around to posting about it).  However, I’m not particularly well-versed in making pies, so thanks to one of my friends who gave me basic instructions.

It turned out to be rather yummy and ridiculously easy – bonus!  Perhaps the best thing though is that not only did it create fridge space by using up lots of leftovers, but it is one of those one-dish main courses, which I love – no need to worry about making sure everything finishes cooking at the same time (not one of my strong points).

Salmon & spinach pie

Serves 2-3
Recipe vaguely based on instructions from a friend

Instead of the spinach, you can substitute almost any kind of cooked vegetables that need to be used up – for example, broccoli goes really well with salmon.  I decided to use herbes de Provence just because that’s what the salmon had been marinated in before being cooked, but you can definitely alter the pie’s flavour by playing with different herb combinations.


300g cooked salmon, flaked (and de-boned if necessary)
1 onion
2 garlic cloves
fresh spinach
3 tsp herbes de Provence
5 tbsp crème fraîche
Enough mashed potatoes to cover the top (this depends on the size of the dish you are using, but the potatoes can be spread as thickly or thinly as you want)


1.  Pre-heat the oven to around 160°C.

2.  Dice the onion, and finely chop the garlic cloves.  Sauté them in a wok or large pan until they start to turn golden, then add the (rinsed) spinach leaves and continue to sauté them until the spinach is very wilted.

3.  In a large bowl, mix the salmon, crème fraîche, herbs, some pepper and a pinch of salt.  Add the slightly cooled onion and spinach and mix well.  Add a little more crème fraîche if necessary.  Pour this mixture into an oven-proof dish and pack it down.  Spread the mashed potatoes evenly over the top of the salmon and spinach filling, making sure it’s all covered.

4.  Bake for about 30mins until heated through and the mashed potatoes have turned slightly golden.  Serve piping hot with a simple salad on the side.


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Happy World Nutella Day 2011!

Ya, that’s right – as decreed by Ms. Adventures in Italy and Bleeding Espresso, in what is quite blatantly a stroke of pure genius, today is World Nutella Day!

So to celebrate the general awesomeness that is Nutella, I’ve made these rather fabulous Nutella fudge brownies…  I came across the recipe a while ago, and it’s sort of been sitting at the back of my mind – the original recipe only asked for four ingredients (!) and seemed fairly quick and straightforward.  Perfect for a bit of procrastination!

I also really liked that they are baked in muffin cases – it’s something a little different (for brownies) and I have some silicone muffin moulds that I’m totally obsessed with.  I also have some silicone mini muffin moulds (you know where I’m going with this, don’t you…?) so I decided to make both “normal” sized ones and mini ones.  The mini ones were slightly less fudgy, but they were still so good with the bonus of being bite-sized and totally adorable!

Nutella fudge brownies

Makes 6 “normal” sized or 14 mini brownies (in muffin cases)
Adapted from One Ordinary Day

This was a super-easy recipe, apart from one minor detail: the original recipe uses American cups, and I don’t have any cups.  So I looked online for a conversion for cups of Nutella.  I found one site that said 1 cup was equivalent to 300g of Nutella, and another that said it was equivalent to 390g – slight difference!  So I decided to average them and go for 350g.  They tasted good, so I can’t have been too far out!  I also added a tiny bit of kirsch to bring the chocolate flavour out a bit more.  The original recipe also suggests sprinkling some crushed hazelnuts on top of the brownies before putting them in the oven – something to try next time.  Also, a word of advice, double the recipe – it will save you the hassle of immediately making a second batch!


175g Nutella
1 egg
5 tbsp all-purpose flour
½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp of kirsch


1.  Pre-heat the oven to 180°C.  Line 6 muffin holes with paper liners (or set out silicone moulds).

2.  Whisk the Nutella and eggs together in a bowl.  Once smooth and well-blended, add the flour, cinnamon and kirsch, and continue whisking until well blended.

3.  Spoon the mixture into the muffin liners, filling them about ¾ full.  Bake for 12 mins (7-8 mins for the mini ones) and cool on a wire rack (leave them in the silicone cases – it makes them even more moist).  Serve immediately or store for up to 3 days in an airtight container (I defy you to leave these lying around for 3 days!)


Nutella fudge brownies


Filed under Recipes, Sweet Foods

What to do if you have 3.5kg of salmon tails residing in your freezer

Over the summer, I worked in one of the University research labs, for a professor who is looking into changes in the condition of Scottish wild Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) populations and how this may be tied to climate change.  I won’t bore you with the details, but basically, we processed a lot of salmon in the lab this summer.  44 salmon if I remember correctly. Most of each fish was used for research, with the exception of the tail section, and we didn’t want it to go to waste.  Since the fish were chopped up in an ouside shed rather than in the lab (thus avoiding any potential chemical contamination), the meat was perfectly fine for human consumption, so we shared the tails out amongst the lab members.  Consequently, guess who ended up with about 3.5kg of salmon sitting in her freezer by the end of the summer?  (And that’s not counting the salmon that had already been eaten!)

So I ended up with a load of salmon – what’s the big deal?  Firstly, wild salmon is just so flavourful.  Unfortunately, farmed salmon just doesn’t compare.  Not even remotely.  Secondly, we got the tails for free.  Wild Scottish salmon retails at minimum £20 per kg (depending on your fishmonger).  As a student, that’s a whole achievement in itself!

Now, 3.5kg is a lot of tasty salmon (an entire freezer drawer actually) – what does one do with all those tasty tails?  I can scientifically gut and dissect a fish, I can slice through a fish’s brain and find the otoliths for you, but I’m no fishmonger – I can’t presentably fillet a fish and the tails make rather tiny slices.  So no salmon fillets/steaks for us.  How about… quiche!  The great thing about quiche in this particular case is that the salmon doesn’t have to be perfectly sliced or anything, so it can be steamed and then just flaked off the bones (so much easier than trying to fillet it before steaming).  These wild salmon had so much taste in them that the quiche didn’t really need additional flavours so I only added an onion and some garlic, but quiche recipes are always flexible and with less flavourful salmon you could add wilted spinach or cooked broccoli.

I defrosted the last of the salmon for Burns Night (it seemed an apt occasion – and yes, due to deadlines, this is a delayed post).  I’d made salmon quiche so many times over the summer and last semester that I really thought my friends would be a bit fed up of it.  I was trying to think of something else to do for a starter, perhaps salmon mousse, but they actually requested quiche.  So I made “lab salmon” quiche one last time…  I was really touched when they told me they’d been looking forward to it all day (thanks guys – I hope it lived up to your expectations!)  This time we accompanied it with Pieropan Soave Pieropan 2009 (Italy), but we’ve previously enjoyed it with Cousino Macul Sauvignon Gris 2009 (Chile) and Crazy by Nature Shotberry Chardonnay 2008 (New Zealand).

Salmon quiche

Serves 6-8 as a starter, 4 as a main course
Recipe from my imagination

This quiche works as a starter, lunch or light dinner, and can be served warm or cold.  The salmon has to be cooked beforehand – I marinated it in some olive oil, pepper and herbes de Provence for at least 15 mins before steaming it in my pressure cooker.  If you do likewise, reserve the marinade oil to sauté the onions in.


Quiche pastry (click for recipe)
300g of cooked salmon, flaked (skinned and de-boned if necessary)
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 eggs
5 tbsp crème fraîche
5 tsp herbes de Provence (at least!)
2 tsp Dijon mustard (optional)


1.  Roll out the pastry to about 3-4mm thickness and line a well-buttered 24 or 26cm tarte tin with it.  Trim the edges and prick the pastry with a fork.  Leave to rest in the fridge for about 30 mins whilst you prepare the quiche filling.  Pre-heat the oven to 170°C.

2.  Dice the onion and finely chop the garlic cloves.  Sauté them in some olive oil (or the reserved oil from the salmon marinade) until softened and golden.

3.  Beat the eggs in a large bowl, add the crème fraîche, the herbs and some pepper and mix well.  Add the flaked salmon and the (fairly) cooled onions and garlic and mix well.  Add a little more crème fraîche if you feel this is necessary.

4.  Remove the tarte tin from the fridge, spread the mustard thinly over the base (this is optional, but it helps to bring out the flavours in the quiche), pour the salmon mix over the top and spread it evenly.

5.  Cook for 30-40mins, until the pastry is golden and a toothpick comes out clean (if the top is getting a little too brown, cover with tin foil).  Serve hot or cold with a simple salad on the side (oak leaf salad and walnut oil vinaigrette both go really well with salmon).


PS – Uhm, ya, I really did put the scientific name for Atlantic salmon up there in that first paragraph.  I left it in because it amused me that I didn’t initially notice.  What can I say?  I’m in the middle of writing a review essay for my dissertation – it’s kind of automatic.  You’re lucky I haven’t thrown in any references.


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Easy-peasy pastry (no really!)

I used to think that making pastry was a horrendously complicated undertaking.  I may have been slightly traumatised when I was younger by a shortcrust pastry-making attempt that ended in a lot of crumbly mess and not a lot of actual pastry.  That failed experience coupled with my inability to roll things out into anything resembling a circle resulted in the mistaken belief that anyone able to successfully make pastry must be blessed with some kind of innate skill.  A delusion slightly fuelled by my mum, who has always been adamant that she doesn’t have that special knack and is therefore incapable of making pastry without it all going horribly wrong.

One of my mum’s friends makes the best tartes and quiches.  She always makes her own pastry and it’s ever-so-slightly flaky and just… amazing.  So one day, I asked her to show me the secret to a wonderful tarte or quiche pastry.  Well, it turns out that it is neither difficult nor time-consuming and there is no inherent ability required.  Being able to roll things into circles, however, does come in handy (still not one of my strong points, but practice makes perfect and all that).

So with the exception of puff pastry (I draw the line at spending 10h of my life folding pastry, letting it rest, rolling it, folding it again, letting it rest again, rolling it again, etc.), I now always make my own pastry.  I feel that it makes all my tartes and quiches just that tiny bit yummier (so modest, I know).  What is fabulous about this particular pastry is that it is quick to make, there’s no waiting around for it to rise, it works for both savoury and sweet recipes, it can be baked blind if required but works just as well if it isn’t and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week (you could probably even freeze it, though I’ve never tried it).  There is therefore NO excuse for shop-bought pastry!

I know the photos aren’t that great – apologies!  I will update them when I’ve taken better ones.

Easy-peasy tarte/quiche pastry

Makes enough for two 24-26cm tartes/quiches (depending on thickness)
Recipe from my mum’s friend

The pastry works for both savoury and sweet recipes and you can add ground spices into the pastry to give a subtle hint of additional flavour to whatever you are making.  It can be stored in the fridge for up to a week and probably be frozen too (though I haven’t actually tried it).  If you’ve stored it in the fridge, bring it out about an hour before you want to roll it out (microwave it for about 5 seconds if you forget, just to soften it up).


250g all-purpose flour
100g butter (slightly softened if possible)
100ml of lukewarm water (it has to be lukewarm)


1.  Butter the tarte/quiche/whatever tin(s) that you plan on lining with the pastry (even if they are non-stick).

2.  Cut the butter into little cubes, and add it to a large bowl with the flour, a pinch of salt (even if it’s for a sweet tarte) and the lukewarm water.  Knead by pressing downwards and bringing the pastry round the sides of the bowl.  Make sure that you really work the butter cubes into the flour.  (This should take about 10mins maximum – I told you it was quick!)

3.  When the dough forms a ball (if it gets too sticky, add a bit more flour), split it into two.  Take one half and shape it into a ball, then slightly flatten it onto a floured work surface and roll it out to the required diameter and thickness.

4.  Line the buttered tin with the pastry (to easily lift the pastry into the tin, fold it into quarters – it shouldn’t stick to itself), trim the edges as necessary, prick with a fork and if you have time, leave it to rest in the fridge for about 30mins (this is optional, but helps make it slightly crispier) whilst you prepare the filling .  If you’re only using half the pastry, wrap the other half in some tin foil and store it in the fridge for up to a week.



Filed under Recipes, Savoury Foods, Sweet Foods