Baking, Edible gifts, Something fruity

Teatime fruit cake

fruit cake

Three years ago I put a recipe on my blog for a Christmas Cake . This is a slightly simpler fruit cake that you can enjoy anytime of the year. My Nana used to always have a fruit cake in a tin to accompany a good cup of tea my mum also used to sometimes make a similar cake too.  This recipe makes two cakes as it as easy to make one as too and I’m sure we all know someone who would appreciate being given a cake. I keep it quite simple using raisins / sultanas soaked over night in tea to keep the cake moist.

So what do you need?

  • 500g dried fruit (raisins / sultanas and anything else you like)
  • 3 heaped tbsp. marmalade (about 150g)
  • a cup of strong black tea
  • 4 tsp. spices (e.g. cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg)
  • 100g chopped almonds (optional)
  • 250g unsalted softened butter
  • 250g soft brown sugar
  • 6 medium eggs
  • 500g plain flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder

So what do you do?

Put the fruit and marmalade in a bowl and pour over the cup of tea and stir together. Leave this overnight so the fruit absorbs the liquid. The next day put the oven on 150 degrees C  / 300 degrees F and grease and line two  cake tins (7 inch / 18 cm round or 6 inch / 16 cm square).

Put the butter and sugar in a mixer / mixing bowl and cream them together. Then add the eggs one at a time followed by all the other dry ingredients. Once everything this is all mixed together add the fruit and mix it in. Spoon the mixture into the two tins and put into the oven. Cook for 1 3/4 hours, check after about 80 mins. and cover if there is any fruit on top that looks like it’s going to burn. Cook until brown on top and a skewer comes out clean. Leave in the tin for 10 mins. before allowing to cool on a rack. You can glaze the cake with some warmed marmalade, heat a heaped tbsp. of marmalade with a tbsp. of water and brush over the top of the cakes..



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Something fruity, Something sweet

Creamy coconut & lamyai rice pudding pots


There are lots of lamyai / longans in season now so I’ve been thinking of new things to make with them. This dessert is a cross between a traditional English rice pudding and the Thai dessert of sticky rice and lamyai, which is delicious but very sweet. This is a pretty healthy dessert option and made with coconut milk so it’s vegan too. This makes 6 pots.

So what do you need?

  • 1 cup of shorgrain rice (I used Japanese rice)
  • 2 cups coconut milk
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 water
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. palm sugar (or regular sugar)
  • a couple of pinches of salt
  • about 4-5cms of cinnamon stick
  • a small bunch of lamyai / longans

So what do you do?

First rinse the rice once in water then put the rice, coconut milk, water , sugar, salt and cinnamon stick into a heavy bottomed saucepan, cover and put on a medium heat. While this is heating up peel the lamyai and take the stones out. You will need about 1 1/2 cups of lamyai pieces. Mix the rice occasionally and add the lamyai, before it reaches a boil turn the heat down and gently simmer it stirring occasionally. After about 15-20 mins it will start to thicken and you will need to stir it more frequently to stop it sticking. Keep simmering it until the rice is cooked and it’s thick and creamy, probably another 15-20 mins. When it’s done turn off the head, remove the cinnamon stick and then spoon the rice pudding into 6 smallish glasses and allow to cool. Decorate with half a fresh lamyai and then finely grate the cinnamon stick and sprinkle on top. Serve at room temperature or chilled.

Drinks, Edible gifts, Something fruity

Lamyai Sangsom

Years ago I used to often drink Sangsom and Mekhong, Thai spirits, usually mixed with soda and a dash of coke, a squeeze of lime juice and plenty of ice. I added the coke and lime to take the ‘edge’ off the spirits. I don’t think they can be defined as ‘fine’ or ‘pure’ spirts, but when you are young they do the job and I had many fun nights, and not such fun mornings drinking them. Anyway my drinking tastes have moved on, but a friend gave me a litre bottle of Sangsom on my birthday, for old time’s sake, and it’s been sitting around unopened since.

Another friend from those good old Sangsom days gave me some lamyai from her garden so I decided to try a lamyai Sangsom infusion. I peeled the lamyai and took out the stones and the put them in a couple of large sterilised jars until the jars were about 2/3 full of fruit. I then pourded over the Sangsom and sealed them. I left them to infuse for a couple of weeks. We then all enjoyed the result with ice and soda. The lamyai helped take the edge off the Sangsom, making it a little sweeter and more fragrant. The fruit really absorbed the Sangsom and was very potent. It makes a ‘very Thai’ cocktail 🍸.

Something fruity, Something sweet

Rum raisin ice cream


This is delicious and super easy to make with only four ingredients. There’s no churning needed and it makes a creamy, soft-scoop ice cream. It’s based on Nigela Lawson’s no-churn ice cream recipes. It’s certainly not very healthy, but makes a nice treat.

Start by soaking 150g raisin in 150ml of spiced rum for a couple hours. Then put a can of condensed milk (about 380g) and 600ml of whipping cream in a large bowl or a stand mixer and whip them together until they become fluffy and begin to stiffen. This makes the ice cream light which means it does not need churning as it freezes. Then gently fold in the raisins and rum and put in an airtight container and freeze. The rum will prevent the ice cream freezing too hard so it can be scooped straight from the freezer. Enjoy!

Something fruity, Something sweet, Thai Food

Mango & sticky rice ice-cream lollipops with Sang Som


Probably the most popular Thai dessert is mango and sticky rice which is delicious but can be a bit heavy in the hot Thai summer. This ice-cream take the essence of mango and sticky rice and make them into cool lollies, with the added twist of some Sang Som, Thai rum. This will make about 15 lollipops.

So what do you need?

  • 500mls whipping cream
  • 2 tbsp. Icing sugar
  • 300mls coconut milk (I used the scented dessert variety available in Thailand)
  • 400g sweet, coconut milk, sticky rice
  • 100mls Sang Som (optional)
  • the flesh of  2 medium sized mangoes (about 400g) chopped into small cubes
  • small (4oz / 5cms x 5cms) paper cups
  • lollipop sticks

So what do you do?

First put the whipping cream in a large bowl and whip it until it fluffs up a little then mix in the icing sugar, coconut milk and rum. Next crumble in the sticky rice and add the mango and stir them in so they are evenly distributed through the cream. Place the paper cups on a try and spoon in the mixture. Put in the freezer and after an hour or two when the ice-cream begins to freeze but is still slightly soft put a lollipop stick in each. Leave for another hour or two until frozen completely. Peel of the paper and enjoy a taste of Thailand!


Baking, Something fruity, Something sweet

Dundee inspired fruit cake

When I was young my Nana always had a fruit cake in a tin which we’d enjoy a slice of when we went to see her. I guess she made one every week. My mum also used to sometimes make fruit cakes at home too. This is my take on Dundee fruit cake with the addition of some spices and some Turrón, which I had left from Christmas, it’s like a marzipan so you could easily substitute it. I guess this makes it a bit of a Dundee / Simnel hybrid. The dried fruit is soaked in scotch so it’s a good option for Burns light.

So what do you need.

  • 300g dried fruit (sultanas & raisins)
  • 50g naked (uncrystallised) ginger
  • 3 or 4 caps of whisky (optional)
  • 150g softened butter
  • 100g soft brown sugar
  • 3 free-range eggs
  • 1tsp ground cinnamon
  • Grating of nutmeg (about 1/2 tsp)
  • Zest of a lemon
  • 250g plain (all purpose) flour
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 100g grated Turrón Yuma tostada (or marzipan)
  • 50g flaked almonds (or whole blanched almonds)

So what do you do?

First weigh out the dried fruit and place in a bowl and pour over the whisky and mix so the fruit absorb the whisky. Pre-heat your oven to 170 F / 325 C. Grease and line a 18-20cm round cake tin. Then cream together the butter and sugar and then add the lemon zest and eggs and mix together. Next add the flour, spices and baking powder and mix into a thick batter. Then add the fruit, ginger and Turrón and mix everything together. Spoon into the prepared baking tin and sprinkle over the flaked almonds.

Cook in the centre of the oven and check after an hour and if it’s beginning to brown cover with tin foil to prevent the top burning. Cook for another 30 mins until a skewer comes out clean. The lemon zest and spices give off a delicious aroma as the cake cooks. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 mins then cool completely on a wire rack. It will keep well in an airtight container. Enjoy with a cup of tea or a dram of whisky!

Salads, Something fruity

Crunchy apple, pecan & blue cheese salad


This salad has a great crunchy textures and a delicious mix of flavours.

I started by tossing about 100 g of pecan nuts in a tsp. of maple syrup with a pinch of salt which I then toasted in a hot oven for a few minutes turning a couple of times until they just started to brown (you could do this under a grill too). Next I sliced a  courgette and grilled it on a griddle pan with a little olive oil. Then I sliced a couple of smallish heads of fennel and two small red shallots. Then washed a bunch (about 50g) of rocket and cored and sliced two apples and put them in a bowl of water with a good squeeze of lemon juice. Then I made a dressing with about a tbsp. of olive oil, a tbsp. of maple syrup a pinch of sea salt, a squeeze of lemon, a tsp. of Dijon mustard and a splash of water which I mixed together. I assembled the salad scattering the rocket first and then adding the other fruit and veg. I then crumbled 110g of blue cheers on top (feta would work well too) and the sprinkled over the pecans and a little chopped parsley and then drizzled over the dressing. I served it with some small cubed roast potatoes, it would also be great with a fresh crusty loaf.