Chocolate Mug Cake

Mug cake 1

Last night I craved something warm and comforting for dinner and made meatballs in a clear broth ladled over white rice. Simple, delicious and filling. Then somewhere along the evening I had this sudden craving for a rich chocolate-y dessert. So much for the healthy dinner! It was literally freezing outside and I wasn’t insane enough to bundle up in multiple layers and venture out and I fretted for a bit at my first world problem until I had this lightbulb moment. I was in Chesterfield last week for a very sad occasion and popped into the local Waterstone’s to while away some time and happened across this microwave mug cake book. Totally random that I remembered this, so after quick search on the internet I found this recipe and voila! My first ever microwave mug cake – except mine was in a bowl as the mix was plenty generous for a mug and quite a few reviews mentioned their cups literally runneth over with cake mix. Use a bowl that will contain the mix so that it comes halfway up the level of the bowl. The great benefit of this method of whipping up a cake is that it is so quick and easy to make and you’ll more than likely have all the ingredients in your kitchen cupboard already. Prep time and cooking time inclusive, mine took no more than 10 minutes to make! Beware to not overcook it as microwaved food can get dry and tough very easily. The cake must also be eaten fresh as again, it will get dry quickly. Below is my modified version of the recipe.

Mug cake 2

Chocolate Mug Cake

Serves 2

4 tbsp self-raising flour
3 tbsp caster sugar
2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 medium egg
3 tbsp milk
3 tbsp sunflower oil
A few drops vanilla essence
A handful of chopped nuts (I used pecans)
A pinch of salt

  1. Add the flour, sugar, cocoa powder and salt to the bowl and mix well.
  2. Add the egg into the mixture and mix well, don’t worry about having some dry bits left.
  3. Add the milk, oil and vanilla essence and mix well.
  4. Stir in the nuts.
  5. Pop it into the middle of the microwave and cook on full power for 3 minutes. The cake is done when a skewer inserted comes out clean.
    Notes: My microwave is only a 700w microwave so if you have a more powerful one, make sure you reduce the cooking time. The cake turned out to be more of a chocolate sponge than a rich dense cake but other recipes use butter and melted dark chocolate which I suspect will lead to a richer cake, but this wasn’t too bad for a first attempt!

Mug cake 3

In case you were wondering, that is me snuggled under my woollen blanket with a whole bowl of chocolate cake on my lap. Yes indeedy.


Mud Crab Industries

I went for a day out in Sheffield recently. Despite its industrial past, I thought Sheffield was quite an attractive city to drive through. But perhaps I’m being unkind, it might be better to say that there is a kind of raw tough beauty to be enjoyed in its old factories, bridges and canals. I can’t say the same for the traffic and the roadworks though! We were thwarted in our attempt to get to Twisted Burger after spending ages getting around multiple different roads to get there, only to find there was no parking to be had. So we made a little detour to Mud Crab Industries instead and boy were we glad of it. The decor and atmosphere was hippy contemporary as many eateries are wont to be these days but it was still a welcome relief from the cold and traffic outside.

Mud crab 1

This was my companion’s 2nd best cheeseburger filled with meat done medium, mature cheddar, grilled onions, club sauce and house pickles alongside good fries. And good fries they were too! Probably the best I’ve had, they were full of flavour from skins left on and kept crisp right to the end of the meal. You might guess I had quite a few of them. Maybe more than a few. There was more than enough to go around!

Mud crab 2

I feel like going ta-dah! This was the magnificent plate of food simply called duck and waffle. It was a glorious, delicious, moreish heaped mess of “slow roasted sticky duck with sweet potato hash, deep fried egg, flying goose sriracha, lime sour cream and griddled waffle with maple syrup”. This is my kind of food and I revelled in every single bite. Perhaps the only slight disappointment was the egg yolk inside had set but I figured the only way they could deep fry the egg was to poach it first, hence a harder yolk. The side of house pickles helped cut through the richness of the other stuff.

We left Sheffield very contented. Next time, we might try to go to all the other places we missed – the Botanical Gardens, Weston Park Museum and Sheffield General Cemetery. And try more good food!


Luscious Egg Sandwich

egg sandwich 1

On days when all you want is something comforting, there is nothing like an egg sandwich to fill that deep craving with lusciousness and simplicity. I’ve been having this on repeat since Lidl introduced their olive bread. Bought fresh in the morning when they’re still warm, you can still smell the yeasty goodness emanating off it. They’ve been generous with the olives and dried herbs, dropped generously between the light crumb. There is a balance to strike though in buying it as often as possible before they withdraw it from their bakery and getting sick of eating it too often so I do try to pace myself. I kicked myself for not buying their hazelnut praline pastry more often in summer – it’s gone forever! (Maybe they’ll bring it back next year. One can hope).

There’s really no recipe for this. Get the freshest eggs and the freshest bread and you’ve got yourself a winner of a sandwich. Scramble 2 medium eggs or one large one on a low heat until just wobbly set with some runny streaks through them. Slice the bread in half and toast it. Dollop one side generously with mayo and laden it with the eggs and top with the other side of the bread. Just eat.

egg sandwich 2

Poisson meunière

I’d been hankering to cook Rachel Khoo’s poisson meunière for ages, so when I saw the last of the lemon sole fillets in the fish aisle at M&S, I grabbed them before someone else could get their grubby fingers on them. As usual, I couldn’t leave the recipe well alone without modifying it, but I promise mine is a lot simpler. Meunière translates to ‘miller’s wife’ which refers to the flour the fish is dredged in before frying. The recipe calls for seasoning some plain flour with salt and pepper, then coating the fish with it before frying. Mine doesn’t have any flour. Neither does it have any lemon juice which should go into the sauce. I didn’t have any. But I did have some preserved lemons (they last a long time). So it’s really poisson avec citron. But it’s just as delicious all the same!

No pictures of the dish this time, but I took one from The Little Paris Kitchen book. The fish, when cooked just so is fall apart tender, unctuous and honestly does have a lemony sort of tang to it. Good for a quick lunch, or for a more substantial meal, with a side salad and boiled new potatoes.

poisson meuniere

Cheat’s poisson meunière

1 fillet lemon sole

Salt and black pepper to season

1 tbsp sunflower oil

1 tbsp butter

1/2 small preserved lemon, chopped

1 tsp capers, chopped

1 tbsp chopped parsley

  1. Heat the sunflower oil in a pan over medium high heat. Season the fish with salt and pepper, and place it skin side down in the pan. Cook for 2 mins, until the edges start to turn white, then turn over and cook the flesh side for 30 seconds. Place the fish on a plate.
  2. Don’t clean the pan. Melt the butter until it’s a light brown, then add in the preserved lemon, capers and parsley. Spoon immediately over the fish and serve.
  3. Use the juice of a 1/2 lemon with some zest as substitute for the preserved lemon.

Oatmeal Prawns


It’s only halfway through Chinese New Year, there’s still time to write about it! Last year’s celebrations at home were filled with lots of food, reunions with the extended family and did I mention lots of food? This year was much more muted so I decided to bring a little touch of the incredible food I had last year back into my flat. I love love prawns. I love seafood in general anyway, any sort of shellfish, fish, even raw clams and those little heavenly salmon pink tongues of sea urchin I first ate in Crete but prawns are probably my favourite. Big bonus of this recipe is that it’s easy and quick to make as everything comes together really quickly and the prawns stay incredibly sweet and juicy. You can get this really easily in Chinese restaurants in Malaysia but why do that when it’s so easy to make at home?


I would say eat it with plain boiled rice to balance out the sweet, salty, spicy nutty flavours of the oats and prawns. It’s pretty much mandatory to suck off the flavoursome coating from the prawn shells before peeling them off. So. Good.

Oatmeal Prawns (modified from


400g large prawns, or 12 large prawns shells on

5 bird’s eye chillies

2 stalks curry leaves

5 dried chillies, cut into sections

3 tbsp butter

80g oats

3/4 cup cornflour


1 tsp chicken stock powder

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1 tbsp sugar

Trim away the feelers and spiny protrusion above the eyes with kitchen scissors. Make a slit along the back with a sharp knife and remove the black intestinal tract.

Pat dry and coat with cornflour, shaking off any excess.

Heat a wok to medium high heat and add some sunflower oil to coat the pan about a couple of millimetres.

Fry the prawns in two batches. Turn them over when they shells have turned colour and fry on the other side. Dish out and set aside.


Don’t clean the wok. Add in half the butter with a little bit of oil to prevent it burning. Stir fry the oats until golden brown. Dish out and set aside.


Add the remaining butter with another bit of oil. Fry both chillies and curry leaves briskly until fragrant but be careful not to burn them. Add in the seasoning ingredients and oats and mix thoroughly before adding the prawns. Give it a quick stir and serve.



Honey & Co.

Honey & Co interiorPicture from

Honey & Co. is a warm, cosy (and by that I mean small) place on Warren Street serving Middle Eastern delights. If some of the food pairings remind you of Ottolenghi, that would come as no surprise as Sarit Packer was previously pastry chef for Ottolenghi and executive head chef of Nopi. She runs the place together with husband Itamar Srulovich who professes to prefer eating to cooking, and sleeping to both. A man after my own heart. This is Middle Eastern food stripped back, comfort food at its finest set in a very simple whitewashed room, accented by colourful tiles.

Honey & Co menu

The picture below is to emphasise how close we were sitting next to the other table.

Honey & Co

We started off our meal with the mezze, a crowd pleaser spread of burnt courgette dip, Bulgarian bean salad, kisir (a Turkish version of tabbouleh made out of ground bulgur wheat), beetroot pickle, kalamata olives and bouikos, with a serving of fresh pitta bread.


The mains were siniya – spiced lamb and cauliflower baked in yoghurt and tahini sauce, and mushahan – slow-cooked chicken in pomegranate and currants baked in flat bread with a parsley and pomegranate salad. The mushahan was by far the favourite of the two, the siniya we found too rich for our liking with its very generous creamy topping of the yoghurt sauce.

SiniyaLamb shawarmaDessert was delicious, a warm pistachio cake with roasted plums and sour cream. The Ottolenghi team do this particularly well, pairing something rich with something bright and unexpected to really bring a dish together. A lovely end to a meal on a particularly warm late summer afternoon.

Pistachio cake

Christmas Florentines and Blondies

How did everyone celebrate their Christmas? OK, I know it’s a little late, maybe overdue even but better a post on it than none at all. In the weeks and days leading up to Christmas I felt nothing. No bubbling excitement, no childlike delight at counting down the number of sleeps until the big day. I was positively Grinch-like up until the week before Christmas when, planning a dish for a Christmas meal my friend was hosting, something flipped. I was suddenly looking forward to it! Then it struck me, since starting to celebrate it, Christmas has always been to me, associated with togetherness, thankfulness but above all, food, glorious food. Since I left it a little late to buy anything coming close to a meaningful gift, I decided to make little food hampers for my friends. In them popped in these fragrant orange and almond florentines, pecan and raspberry blondies, an assortment of chocolate truffles – plain, pistachio- and coconut-coated ones. I had such a good time baking these scrumptious sweets. To balance out the palate I bought some lovely crab pate and mushroom pate with toasted bruschettini. Do have a go at baking these goodies – they are so easy to make it beats shelling out loads on them in the shops.

Christmas goodiesOrange and almond Florentines

Now, the recipe calls for brushing the baking parchment with vegetable oil. I forgot this presumably important step so a little chiselling work and elbow grease was required to release them from the paper, but actually this worked out pretty well, so I just carried out planting the florentines straight onto the paper. If you wanted to make your life easier you could use the oil. And I reused the same piece of paper for all my batches until the batter ran out. This recipe is from the amazing Ottolenghi book. The quantities can be very easily halved, doubled or even tripled.

Florentines 1Makes about 20

2 egg whites

100g icing sugar

260g flaked almonds

Grated zest of 1 orange

Vegetable oil for brushing

  1.  Preheat the oven to 150 degrees Celcius/Gas Mark 2.
  2. To guide you in making respectable circular and uniform-sized discs, place a mug on the paper and outline the base with a pencil, repeating all over the baking parchment. Line a baking tray with the parchment and brush lightly with vegetable oil (optional in my case!).
  3. Put the egg whites, icing sugar, flaked almonds and orange zest in a bowl and gently mix them together. Use a tablespoon and flatten the each biscuit very thinly within the drawn discs and continue until each circle is filled. Try to make then as thin as possible without creating too many gaps between the almonds flakes. They should be about 8cm in diameter.
  4. Place the baking tray in the oven and bake for about 12 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown. Check the underneath of one biscuit to make sure they are cooked through. They will still be soft immediately after removing from the oven but will harden as they cool.
  5. Gently remove the biscuits from the baking sheet with a palette knife and store in an airtight container. They will keep for 4-5 days.

Florentines 2

Pecan and raspberry blondies

This one comes from the Hummingbird Bakery cookbook, another one full of lovely recipes but altogether too sweet. I always reduce the amount of sugar in the recipes I use here. The original recipe used 150g of caster sugar which I cut down to 125g and I’m sure that can be cut down a little further as well. It also used a 33 x 23 x 5cm tray cooked for 35-40 minutes in a 170 degrees celcius pan. Who has a tray of such exact dimensions anyway! I used one I already had, which was 25 x 20 x 5cm so I extended the cooking time to 45-50 minutes in a 160 degrees Celcius fan oven. What I love about blondies or brownies is the fudgy, soft centre with a crisp top which er, mine didn’t have. It was cooked all the way through and had a cakelike consistency, so I called it a tray bake instead! Happy days.

Blondies 1

Makes about 20 small brownies

150g white chocolate, roughly chopped

125g unsalted butter

125g caster sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

200g plain flour

A pinch of salt

120g shelled pecan nuts, chopped roughly

Raspberries, halved to top the blondies

33 x 23 x 5cm baking tray, lined with baking parchment

  1.  Preheat the oven to 170 degrees Celcius/160 fan/325 Fahrenheit/Gas Mark 3.
  2. Put the white chocolate and butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (do not let the base of the bowl touch the water). Leave until melted and smooth.
  3. Remove from the heat. Add the sugar and stir until well incorporated. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, stirring briskly so that you don’t allow the eggs time to scramble. Don’t worry if the mixture looks like it is starting to split. Add the flour, salt and pecan nuts and stir until well incorporated.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the baking tray. Top with the halved raspberries, pressing them down slightly into the mixture. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes, or until golden brown and the centre is still soft. Remove the whole blondie with the parchment paper and leave to cool slightly on a cooling rack, then peel off the paper and leave to cool completely before cutting into squares.

Blondies 2