Wednesday 22 January 2014

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce Recipe

Gingerbreads have been made since Medieval times and the first recipe in English dates back to the 1390s (if you don't believe me, see the recipe for Medieval Gyngerbrede derived from Harleian MS 279). Here is a modern twist on the classic, with the gingerbread served as a dessert with lemon sauce.

With Burns night only a few days away (25th Jan), this recipe can easily be adapted for a Burns Supper by making the gingerbread into a Parkin. To do this, simply substitute the 240g (2 cups) plain flour with 180g (1 1/2 cups) plain flour and 60g (1/2 cup) fine oatmeal in the recipe below.

Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce


Gingerbread with Lemon Sauce: Classic dessert of a gingerbread cake served topped with a lemon sauce. With the addition of oatmeal, this makes an excellent alternative dessert for a Burns Supper.Ingredients:

For the Gingerbread:

240g (2 cups) plain flour, sifted
60g (1/2 cup) wholemeal flour
100g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
2 eggs
250ml (1 cup) buttermilk
180ml (3/4 cup) treacle (molasses)
80ml (1/3 cup) neutral vegetable oil

For the Lemon Sauce:

100g (1/2 cup) sugar
1 tbsp cornflour (cornstarch)
1/8 tsp salt
250ml (1 cup) boiling water
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp freshly-grated lemon zest
3 tbsp lemon juice


Begin with the gingerbread. Sift the plain flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger and cloves into a large bowl and stir in the wholemeal flour.

Beat the eggs in a separate bowl until frothy then stir in the buttermilk along with the treacle and oil. Beat well to combine, then add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring until thoroughly combined.

Pour the resultant batter int a greased baking tin (about 22 x 22 x 5cm [9 x 9 x 2 in] in size). Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 170ºC (350ºF) and bake for about 35 minutes, or until the top of the cake is golden brown and the surface springs back when lightly pressed with the fingertips.

turn the gingerbread out onto a wire rack and set aside to cool before cutting into squares.

In the meantime, prepare the lemon sauce. Mix together the sugar, cornflour and salt in a small pan. Stir in the boiling water until smooth then place the mixture over medium heat and bring toa boil, stirring constantly to prevent lumps from serving. Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce has thickened and looks clear.

At this point, stir in the butter, lemon zest an lemon juice.

Arrange the still warm gingerbread squares on serving plates, pour over the lemon sauce and serve immediately.

Friday 17 January 2014

Tipsy Laird Trifle Recipe

With Burns night only a week away, here is a recipe for a boozy trifle that makes an excellent dessert for a Burns night supper.

Of course, you don't have to prepare it for your Burns Supper, it can be made for any occasion and is ideal for sharing with friends.

Tipsy Laird Trifle

Serves: 6–8
Tipsy Laird Trifle: The classic Scottish boozy trifle of sponge fingers, custard, raspberries and cream topped with almonds that is a must for any Burns Supper


1 Victoria sponge cake or Madiera cake, cut into fingers
330g (12 oz) raspberry jam
120ml Whisky
2 tbsp Drambuie
330g (12 oz) fresh raspberries
2 bananas, sliced (optional)
300ml (1/2 pint) double cream
1 tbsp caster sugar

For the Custard:

225ml (1 cup, scant) whole milk
150ml (3/5 cup) double cream
2 egg yolks
20g (1 oz) caster sugar
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

slivered almonds, toasted, for topping


Arrange the sponge fingers over the base of a large glass trifle bowl. Spread over the raspberry jam.

Mix together the whisky and Drambuie in a glass, then sprinkle the mixture evenly over the sponge cake pieces.

Scatter over a layer of raspberries, and then a layer of bananas. Set aside.

In the meantime, prepare the custard. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar and vanilla extract in a bowl until pale and creamy.

Combine the cream and milk in a saucepan and heat until just boiling. Take off the heat and, whisking constantly, beat into the egg mixture.

Pour the resultant mixture into a clean saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over low heat. Continue cooking until the mixture is thick then pour into a bowl and set aside to cool. As the custard begins to cool, either scatter over a little sugar or lay a sheet of clingfilm (plastic wrap) over the top (this helps prevent a skin from forming).

Once the custard has cooled, pour it over the fruit and sponge fingers. Spread the custard out evenly then whip together the double cream and sugar until thick. Spoon this mixture over the custard.

Scatter over the almonds, chill and serve.

For more Burns night see the Celtnet Burns Night/Burns Supper history and recipes pages.

Wednesday 15 January 2014

Cajun Chicken Pasta Recipe

After a whole slew of seasonal and cake recipes it's time for something savoury.

This is a quick and easy pasta dish, given a twist with the inclusion of Cajun seasoning as a flavouring.

Quick to make, this is a tasty supper dish that everyone will love.

Cajun Chicken Pasta

Serves: 2
Cajun Chicken Pasta: A tasty but easy to prepare dish of chicken and herbs flavoured with Cajun spices in a cream base served with linguine pasta


2 boneless chicken breast halves, sliced into thin strips
2 tbsp Cajun seasoning
120g (4 oz) linguine pasta, cooked until al dente
2 tbsp butter
1 spring onion, sliced thinly
300ml (1 1/4 cups) whipping cream
2 tbsp sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp dried basil, crumbled
1/8 tsp freshly-ground black pepper
1/8 tsp garlic powder
4 tbsp freshly-grated Parmesan cheese


Combine the chicken strips and Cajun seasoning in a bowl then toss to combine.

Melt the butter in a large frying pan. Add the chicken pieces and stir-fry for about 6 minutes or until just cooked through.

Reduce the heat slightly then add the spring onion, cream, tomatoes, basil, salt, garlic powder and black pepper. Toss the ingredients to combine and cook for about 5 minutes, or until just heated through.

Drain the linguine pasta into a bowl, spoon over the chicken mix, scatter over the Parmesan cheese and toss to combine.

Serve immediately.

Monday 13 January 2014

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins Recipe

In the depths of winter you really need something to cheer you up, and these muffins are just the treat.

Served warm, the orange gives you that spark of sunshine and the chocolate gives a hint of indulgence.

Just the thing if you are feeling a little blue.

Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins

Serves: 12-24
Orange Chocolate Chip Muffins: Classic white muffins made with orange zest and orange juice that also contain chocolate chips. Served warm, they are just the thing to cheer you up on a cold morning.


100g butter, softened
150g sugar
2 eggs
finely-grated zest of 2 oranges
120ml strained orange juice
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
250g plain flour
100g good quality dark chocolate chips (at least 60% cocoa solids)
120ml sour cream


Cream together the butter and sugar in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly to combine after each addition.

In a separate bowl, mix together the orange zest, flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add this to the creamed mixture alternately with the sour cream.

When all these ingredients have been combined stir in the orange just and the chocolate chips.

The batter can be used to spoon either into 12 muffin cup wells or 24 mini muffin wells. The wells should be greased or lined beforehand and they should be filled no more than half full.

Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 170°C and bake for about 12 minutes for mini muffins and 18 minutes for large muffins. When done the tops will be golden and a skewer inserted into the centre should emerge cleanly.

Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool further.

Serve warm.

Saturday 11 January 2014

Fig and Orange Yoghurt Muffins

Figs and oranges are some of my favourite fruit... Having some figs left over after Christmas, when I saw this recipe I simply had to give it a go. And the muffins turned out so well that I took pictures and decided to add them to my blog.

A few experiments later I also found that the muffins work well with a blend of plain (all-purpose) flour and maize meal. So this recipe is published with two variants.

I hope you enjoy then as much as we did!

Fig and Orange Yoghurt Muffins

Serves: 12
Fig and Orange Yoghurt Muffins: Breakfast muffins flavoured with orange zest and orange yoghurt that contain chopped figs in the batter


240g (2 cups) plain flour (or half plain flour and half white maize meal)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
100g (1/2 cup) butter, softened
200g (1 cup) sugar
2 eggs
75g (1 cup) dried figs, chopped into 3mm (1/6 in) pieces
finely-grated zest of 1 orange
240g (8 oz) orange-flavoured yoghurt


Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl cream together the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly to combine after each addition.

Stir the fig pieces and the orange zest into the creamed mixture then mix in the yoghurt.

Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the flour mix is just moistened.

Spoon the resultant batter into the wells of a 12-cup muffin tin lined with paper cases. Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 200ºC (400ºF) and bake for about 16 minutes, or until the tops of the muffins are golden brown and a skewer inserted into the centre emerges cleanly.

Allow to cool in the muffin tins for 5 minutes then turn out onto a wire rack to cool further.

For many more muffin recipes for all types of occasions, please visit the Celtnet Muffin and Quickbread recipes pages.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Phyllo Pastry Pie) Recipe

Now that the holiday season is over, and things have quietened down a little, it's time to turn our attention to more regular recipes and foods.

Today I have a classic vegetarian pie recipe from Greece — spanakopita, a spinach and Feta cheese mix in an egg base baked in a filo (phyllo) pastry base.

You do not have to use spinach for this recipe, I have used swiss chard greens, pumpkin greens (in South Africa I used taro greens) as well as a range of wild greens (ramsons are particularly good). The only stipulation is that the greens can easily be wilted down before mixing with the pie ingredients.

Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Phyllo Pastry Pie)

Serves: 12-16
Spanakopita (Greek Spinach Phyllo Pastry Pie): A classic Greek vegetarian dish of wilted and chopped spinach greens mixed with onion, leek and Feta cheese in an egg base baked in a filo (phyllo) pasty shell and served just warm.


500g (1 lb) frozen file (phyllo) pastry sheets, thawed
120ml (1/2 cup) extra-virgin olive oil

For the Filling:

4 tbsp olive oil
900g (2 lbs) spinach, thoroughly washed and with stems removed
6 spring onions, washed and sliced into 6mm (1/4 in) lengths
1 leek (white and tender green part only), washed and cut into 6mm (1/4 in) lengths
1 medium red onion, finely chipped
50g fresh dill, minced
300g (2/3 lb) Feta cheese, crumbled
3 eggs, beaten
salt and freshly-ground black pepper, to taste


Begin with the filling. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and gently fry the onions and leek for about 3 minutes, or until just softened.

Stir in the spinach and continue cooking util the leaves have wilted and any excess liquid has evaporated away (about 8 minutes).

Take the pan of the heat and set aside to cool until the spinach can be handled. At this point finely chop the spinach.

Lightly grease a 30cm square baking dish with olive oil. Mix the dill and cheese with the spinach and season to taste with salt and freshly-ground black pepper. Pour in the eggs and mix thoroughly to combine.

Layer about 1/2 of the filo pastry in the base of the pan (allow the edges to hand over the sides of the dish. As you add each sheet of filo pastry brush liberally with the olive oil.

Place the spinach mixture in the baking dish then fold over the filo pastry overhand. Top with the remaining filo pastry, again brushing each sheet liberally with olive oil as you add it.

Use a sharp knife to score the upper layers of pastry into serving-sized squares (cut through the top layer of filo pastry and the filling, but do not cut the bottom layer of pastry).

Transfer to the centre of an oven pre-heated to 180ºC (375ºF) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until the filling is cooked through and the topping is nicely golden and crisp.

Remove from the oven and allow the pie to cool until just warm (it should never be served hot).

Cut into squares and serve.

For hundreds more Greek recipes, why not visit the Celtnet Greek Recipes and Greek Food Information page.

Sunday 5 January 2014

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake Recipe

This is a classic ring mould (bundt) cake that I was going to publish for New Year, but in truth, this cake is one that should be prepared and served year-round.

However, if you make this during January, the ring shape of the cake symbolizes luck, as the ring is never-ending... so offering this cake (or any ring-shaped cake) to your guests means that you are offering them unending luck.

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake

Serves: 20

Lemon Sour Cream Pound Cake: Classic pound cake flavoured with lemon and sour cream baked in a bundt pan (ring mould) to symbolize unending luck for the New Year.

200g (1 cup) butter, softened
100g (1/2 cup) shortening (or lard)
600g (3 cups) sugar
5 eggs
4 tbsp milk
240g (8 oz) sour cream
360g (3 cups) plain flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp vanilla extract


Cream together the butter and shortening until soft. Gradually work in the sugar, beating all the while until all the sugar is incorporated. Continue beating until the mixture is light and fluffy. Now add the egg whites, one at a time, beating thoroughly to combine after each addition.

In a bowl, mix together the sour cream and milk, beating until smooth.

Sift together the flour and baking powder in a bowl.

Alternately add the sour cream mixture and the flour mixture to the butter and egg mixture. Mix until just blended after each addition. Finally work in the extracts.

Pour the resultant batter into a greased and floured ring mould (bundt pan). Transfer to an oven pre-heated to 160ºC (325ºF) and bake for about 100 minutes, or until nicely browned and a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake emerges cleanly.

Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.

If desired, you can make a thin glaze from fresh lemon juice and icing sugar (powdered sugar) to drizzle over the cake before serving.

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