Friday, 28 March 2014

One Cup Cake - Not one cupcake or one cake in a cup!!

There have been loads of recipes lately for the ultimate cupcake and how to make one individual cake in a cup in the microwave but this cake is really amazing. It's quick and easy and very moist and tasty.

My friend Val gave me the basic recipe. Basically this cake is called 'One Cup Cake' because you measure almost all of the ingredients in a cup measurer.

Mr R is not normally a great cake eater but I cannot keep this cake in the house (or office for that matter - I took a loaf to work and it disappeared!).

I use an American cup measure but as long as the cup you decide to use is approximately 8 fl oz you should be OK.

I preheat my oven to 180oC and prepare my loaf tin. I use a loaf tin liner but if you don't have one you can grease and flour.

Into a large bowl mix:
1 cup cereal such as Bran Flakes, All Bran, Fruit & Fibre
1 cup sugar (I have used a bit less because my first loaf was very sweet)
1 cup raisins
1 cup milk
1 tsp mixed spices

Leave to sit for about 30 minutes.

Then add:
1 cup Self Raising flour
1 egg

Mix all together and pour into prepared loaf pan. The mixture will be quite runny but don't worry.

Bake for approx 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean. (my oven took about 50-55 minutes).

When cool slice and serve with a lovely cup of tea.  I like a little butter spread on my slices.

To ring the changes you can use a variety of dried fruit. I had some very dry Greek figs so I soaked them overnight in tea.  I chopped up the figs and used 1 cup of tea instead of the milk. So far I like this one best.

This tea loaf is so easy to mix you can make one each evening for breakfast the following day!

Have you got a recipe you use whenever time is short and you need something to serve with a nice cup of tea or fresh coffee? Leave a comment below.



Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Steam Technology and not a train in sight!

I get sent some awesome products to review and some not so and funnily enough I gave away an old steam cooker last year.  I was therefore quite sceptical about reviewing the new Steama by Sensio Home.

What would I like about this piece of equipment when I didn't like the old one we had.  Well for a start the old one was Mr R's before we moved in together and I never felt it was completely clean (I do have the odd issue!!)

The machine has clean lines and not round which is a plus as far as I am concerned. Being rectangular it is much easier to put away in the cupboard although I am using is to often now it isn't getting put in the shed at all!

There is a timer and a water level to make sure you don't let it boil dry but it holds quite a lot of water and so far I haven't used even as much as half.

Potatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, sugar snap peas and baby sweetcorn all cooking to perfection at the same time. Saves time, energy and space on the cooker.

A new one to me was to make rice in a steam cooker!  You get a rice container with it which you place in one of the compartments. As long as you use the same quantity rice to boiling water e.g. one cup of each you will turn out perfect rice!

I put carrots on the bottom layer and rice on top and had perfectly cooked carrots and rice after only about 15 minutes.

It's fast and fresh food keeping in loads of the nutrients and flavour and cooking really quickly too.

Apparently you can even steam a large piece of Sunday beef, something that I am planning to try soon.

This is one piece of kitchen equipment that will get lots of use in my kitchen.

Thanks Sensio for the Steama.  I was not paid to write this piece and all opinions and photos are mine.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Shaka Zulu - A South African Restaurant Review

I was recently given the opportunity to review a restaurant in Camden called Shaka Zulu.  It is a South African restaurant.

Camden Market hides a plethora of rather nice restaurants and not just the fast food outlets so I had a look at Shaka Zulu's web site before we went to see if I could get an idea of the place.  It didn't do justice to the actual restaurant. It it did look dark and interesting but the reality was far better.

As I often do I invited my friend Val to accompany me. We had just walked around the Knit and Stitch show at Olympia. It would have been a bit of a marathon getting from one to the other by underground but as it happened there was a bus stop outside of the Olympia. A quick look and we found that the number 27 bus went practically door to door and on such a beautiful sunny afternoon we enjoyed a tour of West London as well!

Once inside the restaurant we were delighted to see the authentic carving and statues (all brought from South Africa at a cost of millions of £s).

They had a very impressive and well stocked bar which was very busy with people just popping in for an evening of chat and a few drinks.


Our table was cosy and we looked at a very impressive and somewhat scary menu. Well I wasn't brave enough to order zebra or ostrich steak!

For starter Val had the crocadile cigarillos.  I tasted a bit to add to my repatoire that I had eaten it.

I picked the smoked salmon which arrived in a mysterious cloud as it was placed over a block of dry ice - very impressive!

The waitress was very helpful and described all the dishes we were not familiar with. Wanting a typical main course I decided on the Beef Bobotjie, a sort of mince with a thin egg custard layer on top served with saffron rice and a chutney. Val liked the sound of it and ordered the same!

We each chose a side dish and shared them.  We had roasted butternut squash with caramelised cinnamon and sauteed mange tout and red onion.

Crisp and crunchy mange tout and red onions.

They have a nice pudding selection and we picked a trio of authentic South African puddings.


You can contact Shaka Zulu in all the usual ways.  It is essential to book for Friday and Saturday nights and Sunday lunchtimes.

I was a guest of Shaka Zulu but was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Degustation box - A Monthly Surprise

The Degustation box is a new concept where you get a monthly subscription and each month you get a surprise box in the post. Its full of a number of random items and you don't know what's coming and it it changes each month. I was sent the February box with no idea what was going to be included.

I have been asked to make some recipes with the contents of the box, now this is really random group of products and very difficult to make anything, for instance there was energy drinks and apple crisps and  biscuits but I thought I would try and make a bread-and-butter pudding using the ready sliced malt loaf Soreen Tostie Bread. We love malt loaf and now you can get it ready sliced and I thought it would make a really nice bread and butter pudding.

I buttered the slices of the Soreen Toastie Loaf and layered them in the baking dish.

Mixing 5 eggs with approximately 1 cup of milk and poured it over the slices.

I let the egg soak in for about 20 minutes before baking in the oven at 180o for about 45 minutes.

It was bubbling when I took it out of thre oven, let stand for about 5 minutes before serving and a quick dust with icing sugar makes it look very exotic.

This pudding would be lovely sliced and served with cream, ice cream, custard or even yoghurt.

If you would like to try a Degustabox for yourself you can get a discount  of £3.00 using this code when you register online:-

You can also find them on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for the surprise box Degustabox.  I did not receive any payment to write this and the recipes and opinions are my own.


Sunday, 9 March 2014

No Bats in this Belfry!! A Grand Makeover

Mr R was ever so slightly disappointed - you see he doesn't get home before 7:00 pm (mostly nearer to 8:00pm) so he couldn't come with me to the event I had been invited to.

The Belfry, iconic home to great golfing has been purchased and has just undergone a £26million transformation.  The Belfry is in the West Midlands near Birmingham but for one night was brought to London's South Bank on a VIP Routemaster bus and set up it's own mini resort by the banks of the river.

But this was just to highlight the new premier resort and mecca to golfers and host to the Ryder Cup four times.  There are luxurious guest rooms and new bars and grill restaurants which Chef Director Glen Watson was more than happy to tell me all about! There are also spa facilities and exerercise and relaxation facililties for everyone.

There were several members of The Belfry attending to answer any questions and to tell us how proud and excited they are about the new transformation including chef Director Glen Watson to tell us all about his new facilities and menus including 28 day dry aged steaks from local sources.

Several glasses of champagne and a head and neck massage and I was fully sold on the experience!  If Mr R had come he could have hit a 'hole in one' on the Brabazon course with their simulator.

All this was to wet the appetite and create a desire to visit the property and see the real thing!  Now where did Mr R put his golf clubs??

The Belfry is one of the De Vere Group's properties

Thanks to The Belfry for the invitation - I was not required to write a positive review and the opinions are, as always, my own.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Eating London - East End Tour

I would just like to say I love London and used to visit London a lot when I first came here as a tourist in the 70s but as my children grow up I went less and less however now that I write a food blog I have began to rediscover London and I really love it

When I first came here in the 70s London was not necessarily a great food place but now with the different diverse cultures living here London has become a fantastic place to eat.

I was invited to take a tour of the East End of London with Eating London Food Tours and met my guide Emily as pre-arranged at a small coffee shop just 5-9 minutes walk from Liverpool Street train station.

Our guide, Emily, had a great personality and was a pleasure to spend a morning with.  She certainly knew her facts about the East End and gave these to us at appropriate times and with a pleasant humour.

First off we met at the Old Spitalfield's Market in a little coffee shop and went straight to our first stop.  Emily told us that this was probably the best bacon buttie in London and I must admit it certainly was up there with the bacon buttie greats.  We were welcomed to St John's (housed in a former bank) known for it's 'nose to tail' culture. St John is a Bakery, Restaurant and Wine Shop.  Our bacon buttie was made with Gloucester Old Spot bacon on their own home made bread and their own ketchup (with secret ingredient!!).

Marching swiftly on - or should I say ambling, we stopped at our next port of call, The English Restaurant. Owners Peter and Kay take pleasure in offering good honest English food and we were treated to a truly fantastic Bread & Butter Pudding with a real 'to die for' vanilla bean and rum custard.  I could have eaten this all day long but there was so much more to the tour so had to contain myself with a small portion.

We heard about the arrival of the ethnic groups in the East End,  The Irish

The Jews

the wealthy Huguenots (members of the Protestant Reformed Church)

the contrast between old and new.

Our next stop was an artisan cheese shop called Androuet.  We tasted three cheeses, one from France and the other two from England, the cheddar which makes up around 51% of the cheese sales in the UK per year and a creamy and gorgeous blue stilton.

and their extensive range of cheeses.

We criss crossed streets and our next stop was a great fish and chip shop called Poppies.  I am not a great chip fan but these were fantastic. The fish was in a light and non greasy batter and extremely tender and the mushy peas a little bit of the old East End.  Mr R would love to come here. Cod makes up for around 60% of the fish eaten in the UK. It was made illegal to wrap your fish and chips in news paper because the ink was making people ill so Poppies had their own news paper printed so they could carry on the age old tradition and still be healthy! Make sure you get their loyalty card if you visit to build up points to get money off your meals. There are cockney rhyming slang words around the walls and there is even a nearby cash machine that will ask if you want to transact in English or Cockney!

We turned a corner and entered the well known Brick Lane and were ushered into a restaurant called Aladin and were treated to three curries, lamb parthia, vegetable bhuna and chicken madras all typical Bangaladeshi food.  This restaurant has won loads of awards and is one of the 15,000 curry houses in the UK and it is roumoured that there are more than in Delhi and Mumbai combined!

If you are thinking we had enough food you would be wrong! We carried on up Brick Lane to the iconic bagel bakery, a shop I have bought my bagels from for almost 30 years! They are open 24 hours a day and 7 days a week and consistently produce the best bagels I have ever tasted.  There are two bagel shops next to each other but the one on the right if you are facing them is without a doubt the best!! You have to try the corned beef with mustard and a pickle as we did.  I also bought some cream cheese and smoked salmon to take home to Mr R and a dozen plain for our freezer. (I have made many a midnight dash for bagels when I lived in North London!)

Then it was time for a nice cup of Rosy Lee (tea) and a slice of salted caramel chocolate tart at Pizza East.  A bustling restaurant in an old tea warehouse producing the finest chocolate tart I have ever tasted!

We said our good byes to new friends and made our way home after what seemed like half an hour but was in fact around 3 and a half hours of fantastic food and interesting history of the East End of London.

Eating London is a fantastic way to entertain visitors if you want something different to do with them in London or even just a family trip out.

I was the guest of Eating London but all opinions are my own. I was not required to write about the experience nor was I required to write a positive review.