Archives for posts with tag: London

Last week marked the important occasion of global Nutella day. It felt appropriate to make a batch of  Nutella-filled and Nutella-topped chocolate cakes to celebrate. I should say up front that this is a cheat’s version, or rather as I prefer to say the more efficient chef’s version!

I find it a fascinating coincidence that Mr Rocher, of Ferraro Rocher fame and inventor of world-favourite Nutella, actually passed away in 2015 on World Nutella Day. At the grand age of 89, this seems a fitting farewell.


Nutella Cupcake Recipe (of sorts!):

I feel quite time-poor at the moment, with maximum 15-20 minute blocks of time between baby changing/ feeding/ comforting/ wandering the streets of Leighton Buzzard to help get our beautiful baby calm and sleepy.

Therefore, I use a shortcut to get to wonderfully moist chocolate sponges. I preheat the oven to 180 degrees centigrade, and then get my magic ingredient- Betty Crocker chocolate sponge mix. Just add water, eggs and vegetable oil.

After 18-20 minutes, you should have springey, moist chocolate cupcakes. Leave them to cool for ten or so minutes, until cool to touch. Then using a sharp knife, cut a conical shaped wedge of sponge in to the middle of each cupcake. Carefully remove the top, stick in a small teaspoon of Nutella in to the well in the middle of the cake, and replace the sponge top. This gives the melt in your mouth Nutella middle 🙂

Next, to top your cakes with prettily piped Nutella icing and roasted hazelnut pieces. I have used several Nutella icing recipes over the years, and I do like this one as the proportions work well in terms of flavour (not too buttery, nice and chocolatey) and consistency (firm enough to pipe).

You can pipe or just smear this on to your cakes, depending on time available, and then sprinkle the cupcakes with toasted chopped hazelnuts, available in the nuts section of the supermarket.

Finally, brew a cup of tea – or perhaps in honour of Mr Ferraro, a shot of espresso coffee – and enjoy!

Due to the moist nature of the sponge these cakes will keep well in the fridge for up to five days.

For more Nutella based recipes visit



As I stand on the train, crushed between other Londoners laden down with various bags, gym kits, laptops, shoe changes, make up and other every day essentials, I one day started to wonder whether my rucksack full of food in addition to the aforementioned items was representative of a standard London lunch.

The following day, I took a picture of my lunch and posted it on Facebook, for a sense of affirmation that everyone else ate as much for lunch as I do. The response I received, appeared to indicate apparently not.

Lunch #1

So I posted again the following Monday, as these tend to be high Tupperwear intensity days. Again, positive responses and intrigued friends enquiring as to contents of said, generic, plastic food containers. (Please note that the use of the word Tupperware is as a generic brand and purely synonym for food container, rather than any particular endorsement of the Tupperware brand over others.


It seems that others do eat less than me for lunch on most given days, since my towering plastic stack does not even stand for the totality of my daily food consumption. Porridge, breakfast biscuits, nuts and chocolate are in my desk drawer / storage cabinet.


I like to claim that this is amplified lunch stash is due to the fact that I tend to eat my breakfast, lunch and dinner at work. As an ex-colleague and healthy living ninja consultant friend of mine, Sarah, sighed, at least if you have to eat dinner at your desk it is home made.

I don’t always get time to leave the office during the day, and the fear of not having sufficient snacks to banish any hunger pangs during the day feels me with an even greater fear than having to stand the entire commute from Tooting to Blackfriars (how on earth would I put my make up on then!?).

So, you may just want to know now exactly what is lying inside the contents of my boxes of foodie pleasure? Here are some of the recipe and snacks I have used:
– Boiled egg and veggie (Quorn, etc) sausage for brekkie, washed down with a latte
– Berries to add to my high protein yoghurt for second breakfast
– Peanut butter and marmite sandwiches on brown / soya bread
– Soup as I like a warm lunch, e.g. Hemsley and Hemsley (see here) or a good old tomato and basil for first lunch
– Some sort of carb/ veg/ protein dish such as an omelette, sweet potato and feta salad or roast veg with halloumi or prawn stir fry for second lunch
– Slice of cake or muffin remaining from the weekend’s baking activities
– Other afternoon snacks such as sugar snap peas and crudites to have with a dip or the odd bean salad that Will brings home from his long days away.

I cook or prepare most of the more time-consuming elements of this ensemble on a Sunday night, in order to last me the week. Store cupboard staples such as porridge, popcorn, breakfast biscuits (e.g. Belvita), and chocolate in addition to the above are kept at work.

What do you eat for lunch in the office? I’d love to share recipe ideas!

Due to the “storm” that was about to hit London (even Barry the Thames Barrier has gone down) on Thursday, my train to the gym was severely delayed, therefore I abandoned exercise and was able to come home from work at a decent time.

My Mum and Dad were coming late last Sunday night, determined that we would fit in a Lebanese at a newly opened local establishment down the road upon arrival. The purpose of their visit was some minor DIY, and I needed to give them energy whilst tiling my kitchen windowsill the following morning.

So I recreated one of Mum’s favourite biscuits, if that is indeed the culinary category in which this treat falls. Millionaire’s shortbread. What better tea time (or any time) treat?

Sparkly shortbread

Crunchy shortbread biscuit, a large amount of soft, sweet, caramel, and a definitive dense chocolate topping, The chocolate and biscuit are working together to hold in that caramel, and the ratio of biscuit to caramel in this recipe is far more generous than most shop bought equivalents (and of course contains no nasty preservatives).

As has been a feature of several recent(ish) posts, I have borrowed someone else’s recipe (in this case Carnation’s, of condensed milk fame) and adapted it a little.

This is a rather simple recipe, and you don’t even need a sugar thermometer to get the caramel right (see reference to disastrous macarons in previous post I am still holding out for one for Christmas).

I have made this recipe several times, and feel that I am close to perfecting it. I find the base works best when you blitz the shortbread in the food processor, finer crumbs = sturdier biscuit base. This is the cheat’s shortbread base, you can also make your own from scratch which is straight forwards but more time-consuming.

Stirring up shortbread

Next, you make the caramel. Gently stir together the butter and sugar until fully melted, and then drizzle in the condensed milk, stirring continuously as you don’t want it to burn. I don’t know why but I find a wooden spoon helps this process. And you can smack away any fingers trying to get an early dip of the sweet nectar!

Keep stirring even though you don’t want to, for fear of burning. I also have a fear of the caramel not setting, so I do stir it until notably thicker. Then pour on to the cooled shortbread and leave to chill out for a while.


Leave the caramel to cool in the fridge and melt two bars of chocolate (200g in total) over a bain-marie, which is easier to control the temperature than melting in a saucepan directly. Dark, milk and white chocolate toppings are all delicious, or even a combination of them together.

To get a celebration-like finish to the shortbread, I then melted white chocolate and flicked it across the top, then scattered tiny edible gold stars over the tray.

Mini shortbreads

I am experimenting with finger-sized treats that I can parcel up as presents, and so made some tiny shortbreads in silicone petit-four cases.

Petit fours

My biggest tip for making shortbread is to score the chocolate topping before it has entirely set, otherwise it is a nightmare to cut in to straight lines.

Scoring the chocolate topping

There are loads of sweet (terrible pun – sorry!) recipes on this site. I want to try the fudge recipe next time, but not until I have my sugar thermometer…

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