Archive for the ‘summer picnic’ Category


Perfect flapjack

October 5, 2012


Fabulous flapjack

Since the dawn of my baking career I have dreamt of and strived to make the perfect flapjack. My criteria:


Rock hard

In the past, I have always achieved a toffee flavour, but also at least one element of the bad list every time. I have experimented with different recipes, different methods and different cooking times.

It’s the rock hardness that’s frustrated me the most. For a reasonably experienced baker, this is simply not good enough.

I needed something quick and easy to bake at 9pm to take into work the next morning for the Macmillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning (such a worthwhile charity, close to the Rice hearts for what they did for Mr Rice senior). I turned to Lorraine Pascale’s recipe. I’d used this one before, and the finished flapjacks had the most delectable toffee flavour, but once cooled, they were solid as a rock.

Since then I’d had a very useful chat with a serious flapjack maker, Barbara. She uses the same recipe, but with one crucial change, which I’ll come to in a bit.

It worked!

Remember to take your time. It’s a simple recipe, but it will be game over if you rush it.

Recipe for perfect flapjack

175g butter
175g golden syrup
175g soft dark brown sugar
Pinch of ground ginger
Pinch of salt
350g oats (normal or gluten free)

Preheat the oven to 150°C and line a 23cm x 23cm tin with foil-backed parchment (or normal parchment). Slowly melt the butter in a large pan, then add the syrup and melt together slowly, stirring all the time. Then add the sugar, and melt it slowly and completely, so the mixture is smooth. Continue to stir on the heat very gently for another 3 or four minutes. Don’t let it boil, whatever you do. Test a bit on a teaspoon, but cool it first, or you’ll do some serious damage to your mouth. The mixture should have a subtle toffee flavour. Now take it off the heat and add all the oats, salt and ground ginger, stirring until it’s all combined and all oats are covered nicely.

Press it into the tin and cook for 30 minutes. This is the crucial bit. LP says do it for 40, but this has always yielded flapjack bricks.

So, take 10 minutes off the cooking time and do them for 30 minutes only.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 10 minutes. Then use the parchment to lift them out of the tin and slice as big or small as you like.

© Katheryn Rice 2012


Cheesy sweet potato cakes

July 18, 2010


Perfect for light Sunday lunch, and a great way to use up last night’s sweet potato mash.


Just Cupcakes

August 5, 2008

Check these babies out:



So cupcakes are getting a bit trendy these days. So I thought I’d shamelessly jump on the bandwagon and make some of my own. When it comes to cupcakes it probably goes without saying that you have to forego any concerns about fat or sugar content and just get on with using the best ingredients to get the best results. 

As you can see from the photo, icing is really what makes the cupcake, so I thought I’d go to town, and it was a nice way to pass the time as Mr Rice nursed his monumental hangover.

Recipe for Vanilla Cupcakes
125g unsalted butter (room temperature)
125g caster sugar
2 eggs
100g self raising flour
25g plain flour
3 tbsps skimmed milk
1 tsp vanilla extract

Butter cream
150g unsalted butter (room temperature)
300g caster sugar 

Preheat the oven to 200ºC and put 16 bun cases into a muffin or bun tin. Then beat the butter, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a food mixer until well combined, followed by the sifted flour and beat again until it’s all smooth. Then add the milk 1 tbsp at a time, with the mixer on, until the mixture is soft but not runny.

Get two teaspoons and get a heaped spoonful of the mixture on one, and carefully push it off the spoon and into the bun cases with the other until all the bun cases are equally filled. Make sure they are no more than half full or they will overflow when they cook.

Cook the cupcakes for 15-18 minutes until the tops are golden brown and then let them cool fully on a wire cooling tray before you ice them.

I used good old butter cream to ice my cupcakes. It has a lovely, luxurious, velvety texture and is solid enough to cover any uneven tops on your cupcakes. Flatter tops are also the reason I’ve used 25g plain flour, so they don’t rise up too high.

To make the butter cream, just beat together the butter and the icing sugar until nice and smooth. Then you can smooth it or pipe it onto the cupcakes however you like, and of course you can add a little colour and other accoutrements too to give them the perfect finish!

I also discovered that these cupcakes were a good cure for Mr Rice’s hangover. 

Special thanks to Mr Lawrence for telling me to get on with blogging – I’ll make you some cupcakes v soon!

© Katheryn Rice 2008


Caramelised double cheese & sausage rolls

December 19, 2007

One of my favourite ever and best ever recipes, descended from a family tradition and spiced up with caramelised onions and cheese. These sausage rolls are so delicious that a lot of willpower is needed to prevent them all being eaten the minute they come out of the oven.

The sweet, sticky caramelised onions ooze out to make an even sticker outer surface, the melted cheddar gives a cheesy dimension and the parmesan crust makes the puff pastry perfect!

sausage-rolls-4.jpgRecipe for Caramelised double cheese & sausage rolls
500g premium sausagemeat
200g puff pastry
5 tbsps caramelised onions
150g grated mature cheddar cheese
100g finely grated parmesan cheese
50ml milk
flour for dusting & rolling

Mix together the sausage meat, caramelised onions and grated cheese until everything is well combined. Set this aside while you roll out the pastry into a rectangular shape. Flour your hands and your working surface, then take a ball of the meat and roll it into a sausage shape the same width as your pastry. Roll it onto the pastry, leaving a 1-2cm gap from the long edge.


Brush the edge of the pastry with milk so it will stick to the other side. Then pick up the edge of the pastry and wrap it over the top of the sausage, bringing the edge down flat on the pastry on the other side and pressing it down so you have a 1cm edge. Press it down firmly so the edge is well sealed. Cut all the way along the edge to release the long sausage roll and put to one side. Repeat until you have run out of pastry.


Brush each section with milk, then sprinkle with the finely grated parmesan and then slice into individual sausage rolls.


Finally, place them onto two lined, floured baking trays, ensuring there are at least 3cm between each one. Cook at 180ºC for 20 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

They are best eaten as soon as they have cooled enough not to burn your mouth, but they can also be frozen and then reheated for 5 minutes in the oven. Delicious!

© Katheryn Rice 2007


Egg, mayonnaise & cress sandwich

November 30, 2007

The humble egg sandwich. It is often remembered less than fondly as the nightmare packed lunch on school trips. Some poor little blighter’s mum had packed them the smelliest, most pungent egg butties, and no sooner than was one corner of the unfortunate lunch lifted box would the cry go up ‘Aaarrrrgghhhh! Who’s got egg?!’

But there is a lot more to an egg sandwich than grey hard boiled eggs, mixed with cheap mayonnaise and slathered onto white sliced bread. The ingredients by themselves all the have the potential to be delicious or dire – it really depends what you use.


Recipe for the perfect egg, mayonnaise and cress sandwich
2 slices seeded batch wholemeal bread (Sainsbury’s Taste the Difference is used here)
2 free range, organic eggs
3 tbsp French mayonnaise
organic cress
salt & pepper to taste
organic butter (optional)

Boil the eggs for 10 minutes, then remove from the water and run under cold water – this prevents them from continuing to cook and from the yolks from turning grey. When they are cool, peel and slice them in two directions in an egg slicer, to give you thin strips. Add them to a small bowl with the mayonnaise, salt and pepper and carefully fold until all is combined.

Butter the two slices of bread if you wish, then carefully spread the mixture onto one slice. Top this with carefully chopped cress, which might need pressing down gently.


Then spread another layer of egg on the other slice, and then sandwich both slices together.


Cut diagonally and serve immediately.


I use French mayonnaise because it has a stronger flavour that really brings out the flavour of the eggs. The cress also adds a tangy dimension of its own. The bread is not just there to hold it all together – if you choose a really good quality, brown seedy loaf it will bring all the other flavours together too.

©  Katheryn Rice 2007


Roast vegetables with Halloumi Cheese

October 19, 2007

Simple and delicious and really versatile, roast vegetables are an easy way to serve up a colourful and healthy meal. I have experimented with this dish a lot, and I recommend that you do this too. Everyone has their favourite vegetables, so test them out until you have the combination that suits you. This is my best concoction. Using red and white onionsand shallots gives the onion element real depth and variety. Introducing the cherry tomatoes towards the end adds a moistness and soft flavour to complement the stronger vegetables, and the Halloumi Cheese gives a hearty, salty dimension to fill you up.


Recipe for Roast Vegetables with Halloumi Cheese

1 red pepper
1 yellow pepper
1 red onion
1 white onion
3 shallots
1 courgette
10 cherry tomatoes
1 pack Halloumi Cheese
2 cloves of garlic
olive oil

Chop all the vegetables except the tomatoes into 1-2 inch chunks, mix together and scatter onto a foil-covered baking tray. Chop the garlic finely and scatter over the vegetables, followed by a drizzle of olive oil, then stir to ensure the vegetables all have a light covering of oil. Sprinkle with a pinch or two of sea salt.

Cook at 200ºC in the oven for 45 minutes, stirring and turning the vegetables every 15 minutes. After 45 minutes they should be softening and browning, so chop the cherry tomatoes into halves, and the Halloumi into 1 inch chunks, and add to the tray. Cook for a further 15 minutes, turning once, until the cheese has golden & brown patches.

Serve as a side dish or with pasta and chunky bread as a main course.

©Katheryn Rice 2007


Home made Cajun chicken nuggets

September 22, 2007

I once heard someone dismiss chicken nuggets as ‘juvenile food’, which made me laugh at the time. Like frozen burgers, fish fingers or baked beans, chicken nuggets are no doubt used by many parents as quick and convenient for teenagers. In addition to this, they are also consumed by students for the same reason. Hence the ‘juvenile’ moniker. The pre-packed versions are processed, full of chemicals and salt and contain the dreaded ‘reformed’ meat.

But the great news is that -like burgers – chicken nuggets are so easy to make yourself, and so much healthier, that the frozen, pre-made variety should be banished from your mind forever. And they can be as sophisticated, healthy and adaptable as any other meal you care to create.


Recipe for home made cajun chicken nuggets
2 boneless, skinless organic chicken breasts
1 tbsp wholemeal flour
1 egg
100g brown breadcrumbs
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp sea salt
½ tsp Cajun spice
1 tsp parmesan
1 garlic clove
2 tbsp olive oil

Gently heat the oil in a large frying pan. Into a blender add the garlic clove and whiz until finely chopped, then add the breadcrumbs, paprika, sea salt, Cajun spice and parmesan and whiz again, until it is all well chopped and blended. Transfer onto a medium plate or large, low-sided bowl. Gently beat the egg and transfer into large, low-sided bowl. Put the flour onto a plate and then arrange each ingredient in the following order on your work surface: flour, egg, breadcrumbs.

Chop the chicken into 1 ½ inch pieces, then coat each piece in the flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, and drop into the pan four or five at a time. The oil should be hot enough to make the nuggets sizzle as they hit the pan, but keep the heat low enough that the nuggets are cooked through by the time the breadcrumbs are golden brown. When cooked on one side, turn to cook the other, then put each batch in a bowl in the oven until they are all done. Serve with salad, mayonnaise and ketchup.

©Katheryn Rice 2007


Chocolate brownies & white chocolate blondies

September 5, 2007
Chocolate brownies and white chocolate blondies

This mountain of chocolate brownies and white chocolate blondies (brownies made with white chocolate) is one of a trio of the best desserts I have made so far. They were as crunchy, chewy, sweet and chocolatey as they could be and they went down very well indeed.  

I have already posted my healthy chocolate brownies recipe, but this is the full fat, full sugar version, which my eating companions insist I post, so here it is:

Recipe for chocolate brownies
1 pack of dark chocolate drops
50g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa)
110g butter
2 eggs
50g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
200g brown sugar
25g demerera sugar
¼ tsp salt

Melt the chocolate and butter in a large glass bowl over a pan of hot water (a bain marie). Make sure the bottom of the bowl stays out of the water, so the chocolate doesn’t burn. Stir it together until it is all blended, then simply add all the other ingredients and stir again until completely mixed. Finally, add the chocolate drops, give a quick stir and then transfer to a square silicon tin and cook at 180 degrees for 25-30 minutes.

To make white chocolate blondies, just replace the 50g of dark chocolate and packet of chocolate drops with white chocolate.


When it’s cooked it will be springy to the touch, but remember that the skewer test does not apply here, as you want the end result to be sticky and moist, not clean and dry like a cake. They will be crispy on top and gooey inside. Let the brownies cool a bit in the tin, then cut into pieces – as small or big as you like.

There are so many varieties of chocolate brownie recipe around that much as I love this recipe, I have decided to try some of the others I have come across. Keep an eye on my new ‘chocolate brownies’ category for my latest brownie experiment.

© Katheryn Rice 2007


Courgette & Ginger Muffins

August 18, 2007

These weird-sounding cakes give you the feeling you are eating something pretty healthy whilst still tasting lovely. My initial reason for making them was thatI had too many courgettes, thanks to a bumper Abel & Cole delivery. And again, the organic grocers have come up trumps with a really original recipe, which I have adapted here, to include more protein and slow-burning carbohydrates. Courgette is not an obvious cake ingredient, but it adds a really light taste, lots of moisture and a soft little crunch.


Recipe for Courgette and Ginger Muffins
50g wholemeal plain flour
150g ground almonds
1 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp baking powder
2 medium courgettes, grated
120ml vegetable oil
240ml honey
2 eggs, beaten
ginger syrup
zest of one orange
100g stem ginger
2 tbsp pumpkin seeds
2 tbsp sunflower seeds
2 tbsp linseeds

200g cream cheese
3 tbsp unsalted butter
50g icing sugar

In a medium sized bowl mix together the flour, ground almonds, fresh ginger, cinnamon, salt, bicarbonate of soda and baking powder. In larger bowl, combine the vegetable oil, honey, eggs and ginger syrup and stir thoroughly until combined, then add the courgettes and mix well. In a third, smaller bowl mix the orange zest, chopped stem ginger and all the seeds until everything is equally distributed. Then add this lot to the courgette mixture, and finally add the flour mixture. Stir carefully until all properly combined, and transfer straight to your cooking tins. These quantities make a fair amount of mixture, and it’s up to you what kind of tins you use. I use a combination of large and small muffin tins, and a flat tray-bake style tin as well.

Cook in the oven at 180C for 20-25 minutes, until golden and a tester comes out clean. Leave to cool for a while before removing them from the tins to a cooling rack.

Whilst the muffins are cooking, make the icing. Mix all the ingredients together, using an electric whisk, until the mixture is pale and fluffy, then cool in the fridge until needed. Smooth the icing generously over the muffins and chill in the fridge. They are lovely and moist, so will not dry out in the fridge. They also freeze really well.

© Katheryn Rice 2007


Potato Salad

August 14, 2007

Another from the family recipe book, this potato salad is so simple. Everyone has their own version of this summer dish, and I have found this one, which has a taste that evokes memories of childhood, to be the best combination.


Recipe for Potato Salad
8 medium potatoes, skin on
2 eggs
6 spring onions
4 tbsp mayonnaise

Scrub the potatoes, but don’t peel them. Chop them into inch-sized chunks, and boil them for 10-15 minutes until they are soft, then drain them in a colander. Meanwhile, boil the eggs too, for 7 minutes, so the yolks are a bit soft. When you have removed them from the boiling water, put them straight into a bowl of cold water. This will cool them down and also stop the yolks getting that grey tint. While the eggs and potatoes are cooling, mix the mayonnaise with the chopped spring onions and any seasoning in a big bowl. Peel the eggs, rinsing them under the tap to make sure all the shell is gone, then chop them as finely as you can (an egg slicer is best – chop them both ways to get thin strips). Then add them to the mayonnaise and mix well. Finally, add the potatoes, which should still be warm, and serve.

© Katheryn Rice 2007

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