Happy Birthday, Me!


I have just finished a week of celebrating my 25th birthday, and am justifiably exhausted!

It all began last weekend with my family. I made a rather cheeky request this year that my father cook a 3 course meal for all the family! This wasn’t just so my mum could have a break so soon after Christmas, but also to give my Dad a chance to do what the rest of us indulge in so frequently… Showing off!

First, there was a simply spectacular starter! The stuffed pepper re-awakened!!!

Pepper Trio

Cod fillet, chorizo, lemon zest, tomato pesto and toasted pine nuts, all baked to perfection inside a sweet red pepper! My mum actually helped him out in the invention of this beauty… I’d say it’s the third best thing they’ve created as husband and wife!


Successfully (and rapidly) polished off.

This was followed some time later by a devilishly delicious dessert…


A classic of my mother’s- Pear poached in port and spiced with vanilla and cinnamon, served with clotted cream



But what I really want to talk about is the main course. The truly irresistable

Daddy Duck


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Chocolate Bombe


After the recent development of an obsession with Rick Stein and Thailand, my parents bought a recipe book called “J. Sheekey Fish”, based on the London restaurant by the same name which has received oodles of praise from Rick Stein himself. One day when my father was thumbing through the dessert section, he was blown away by the idea of this “Chocolate Bombe”. I knew at that moment I had to make it for him on his birthday.

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I’ll take THAT with cheese.

It’s been 3 weeks and 1 day since I left London life for village life, and I have to say with each day I grow happier with my decision! Less stress, more play and more time. Just what I needed!

There is one thing I do miss about living in that fabulous city however, and that is cooking for the 3 London men of my life:
Joshua Pullen
Colin Moore
Stephen Swinnerton.

It was only natural for me to do one last meal for them before leaving, and base it on my foxy-fictional hero, 30 Rock’s Angie Jordan (who inspired me on how to handle a number of sticky situations during London life). Those of you who know the character know this left but one option.

or, more accurately for this meal, Gammon.

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The Timeless ‘Bel Cream Maker’

Well I have to say, I’ve had a delightful birthday! I have been spoiled rotten by all my friends and family and fed till I can barely breathe! Dinner with Stephen Wednesday, Colin Thursday, parents Friday, them plus sister and brother in law Saturday and got the grandparents involved today. Not to mention an early birthday dinner with my friends Adele and Charlotte on the 10th! I’m exhausted.

What I loved about today, was not just the food and family, but that I got the opportunity to play with a really cool toy I got for Christmas- The Bel Cream Maker!


Who better to teach me how to use this than my brilliant Grandmother. Every Christmas, my Grandma has cooked up the world’s greatest Christmas pudding based on a recipe founded by her own Grandmother (a recipe, I’m afraid, that is far too secret and special to ever appear on this blog) and to go with this Christmas pudding- homemade cream in The Bel Cream Maker.

These aren’t made anymore, and haven’t been for years. In fact, I once saw one in The London Natural History Museum! But if you want to have a go at this recipe, you shouldn’t struggle to find one second hand on eBay. Just make sure it has all the parts! I managed to bag one once for just 99p… unfortunately it was missing the valve- the most essential component to making your delicious cream.

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Swinnerton presents…


Good evening, everyone.

My name is Stephen and I am a long term fan of, and collaborator with the wonderful and talented Lauren.

This January I have embarked upon a ‘dry’ month. This means that I am forsaking alcoholic beverages for 31 whole days, during the most depressing month of the year.

SO. In lieu of my usual evening activity, I have turned to the kitchen.

Now, a few years ago I could not cook a thing. Seriously. Turning the oven on was a bit ‘out there’ for me. A toastie, even, was a complex culinary creation.

However, since living away from home I have developed a love for food and for cooking which I have rediscovered in my sobriety. Lauren and I have often bonded over food (feeder solidarity), and so I was thrilled when she asked me to share a recent recipe on her blog.

The meal I settled on is PERFECT for this time of year; a really simple and slow cook that warms the whole house and leaves you with an amazing alternative to the traditional Sunday roast… Braised ox cheeks with a potato and parsnip gratin.

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11 days ago (on the 10th of October) was mine and Josie’s 3rd Anniversary! As a rule we like to keep it simple, so I made breakfast (fruit, yog and fresh croissants) while Josie covered dinner. She took me very much by surprise by treating me to one of the best restaurants in London- The Pitt Cue Co! (No, there’s nothing vegetarian on the menu, yes, she dabbled, but we all do crazy stuff on special occasions and I challenge ANYONE not to cave to their meaty delights!)


Lucky us, we had recently won a charity raffle, the prize being one night for two adults including breakfast and dinner at the beautiful Savill Court Hotel in Windsor! What an absolutely breath taking place- a mile long nature-ridden driveway, jacuzzi, pool, steam, sauna, room service, the works! If anyone wants a treat that’s not too far from our Nation’s capital but far enough to feel like another planet, I STRONGLY recommend staying here!

Room service!

As I’m sure you’ll agree, there is nothing more exhausting than relaxing in a hotel. So when we returned on the evening of the 12th we pretty much went straight to sleep and the following day didn’t care much for cooking. Solution? Hotdogs!

Jamaica Dogs
While I’m yet to have the pleasure of visiting Jamaica, I’m an enormous fan of the traditional flavours used in Jamaican cooking. These hot dogs get all that in the laziest possible way!
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When getting my precious lamb sausages from The Ginger Pig at Borough Market, I also bought some Jerk Sausages to try, which was when I originally came up with this recipe. On this morning, however, I learned the hard way that Borough Market isn’t open on a Sunday, so I had to find the closest alternative. If you can, I strongly recommend you just get Jerk Sausages done for you, but this recipe will show you what to do if you don’t have such delights accessible in your area.

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Mum’s Banana Bread


A cold rainy Sunday plus old black bananas can only mean one thing. Mum’s making Banana Bread! The very Banana Bread that is SO DAMN DELICIOUS, as a child Dinner Ladies would demand I bring extra into school for them.

Unfortunately,  I don’t live with my Mum anymore so her Banana Bread is not so accessible for me. This left me with no choice but to badger her for the recipe!


Excellent! Cup measurements rarely work out for me, so here’s my translation:

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Cappucino, and Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

Cappucino CakeStrawberry Cake

Over the last couple of months, I have had the absolute pleasure each Monday and Friday of volunteering at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, assisting them to organise one of their biggest events of the year; The Annual Reunion. I had such a wonderful time while I was there, and my last day came around alarmingly fast. I just had to show them a token of my appreciation, and what better way to do this than with cake!

Baking is far from being my strong point and most people are striving to be healthy in July and August, so I was up against a challenge. Finally, I came up with a couple of simple recipes that they couldn’t resist!

Super-Healthy-But-Probably-Not-Really Cake

One of your 5-a-day! Possibly. Maybe. Citation needed.

125g of self-raising flour
125g of caster sugar
125g of unsalted butter
2 eggs
1 punnet of strawberries

Get cakin’

1. Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees

2. In a bowl, cream together the caster sugar and butter

3. Once smooth, beat in the two eggs

4. Sift and stir in the flour. Stir until lumpless and divine

5. Top the strawberries (cut their heads off) then destroy them in a food processor

6. Gently fold your strawberry goop into your cake mix

7. Grease your cake tin AND line the bottom with grease proof paper. This mix causes a lot of sticky when cooked!

8. Pour the cake mix into the tin and pop in the oven. Bake for approximately 30 minutes, though it may need longer due to all the moisture, so be sure to check!

9. Remove from oven and allow to cool

As I was icing two cakes, and as I’m a fiend for Buttercream Icing, I made a particularly large amount. You may find you don’t need so much!

250g of unsalted butter
500g of icing sugar
1 vanilla pod

Ice ice baby…

1. In a big bowl, cream up your butter

2. Sift in your icing sugar about 1/5 at a time, and stir it in ensuring you tackle any lumps!

3. Split your vanilla pod with a knife, then with a teaspoon remove all the little black seeds and add them to your mix. Josie then popped the empty pod into a bottle of Vodka, you may wish to do the same!

4. Stir in your vanilla seeds, then gloop this mixture all over your cake. To decorate, I lined the top edge with dried strawberries. Enjoy!

Cappuccino Cake

The cappuccino cake is even easier! Use the same ingredients as above, minus the strawberries. Measure out 40g of instant coffee (alter depending on your preference of strength) and blitz it up into a powder! Then, BEFORE you add the flour, add your coffee powder to the mix, stir it in and continue as normal. It needs slightly less time in the oven too- bake for about 20 minutes. Then just slather with your vanilla buttercream icing, dust with chocolate (just like a real cappuccino!) and enjoy. Who could resist that on a cloudy Monday?