Grandma's Fruit Loaf...

This recipe of my Grandma's produces you a lovely moist, yet light fruit loaf with a subtle caramel/malt-y flavour. It's the ultimate fruit loaf. Well, if Grandma makes it that is. If anyone else tries you end up with something acceptable, but the magic isn't quite there. This is my latest attempt and was pretty decent considering I didn't have the 'secret' ingredient in.

The original recipe is for 2 loaves, which is why I accidentally photographed 2 eggs.

• Melt butter, sugar and half a cup of water in a pan over a medium heat.
• Add the fruit and leave to cool.
• Combine flour and nuts with 2 tablespoons of Horlicks (secret ingredient), then fold in the flour and the egg (beaten).
• Bake for about 1 hour at 150-160°C. You may want to cover the top half way so the fruit doesn't burn.

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Coriander Fish Fingers...

A few weeks ago we had a big 5-course family meal (for 11) where each of us contributed one course to the evening. We chose the fish course. Then begun the challenge of finding something to make. We wanted something simple, tasty and light enough to leave room for the other courses. We ended up with a bit of a cross between something we'd seen on Jamie's Fish Suppers and a recipe in Nigel Slater's The 30-Minute Cook ('An Indian way with a fish fillet'). The result was very tasty and simple to put together. I'm sure we'll have them again some time.

750g White Fish
Large Handful Coriander
2 Garlic Cloves
1 inch Green Chilli
Olive Oil
Lemon Juice
5 tbsp Yoghurt
4 slices Breadcrumbs

• Cut sweet potatoes into wedges, place in a roasting dish with a little oil and dust with paprika and cumin (or whatever takes your fancy). Place in the oven at 200°C to cook whilst you prepare the fish fingers.
• Blitz the coriander, garlic, and chilli with two tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
• Prepare the fish (scale, bone etc.) and cut into inch-thick fingers accross the fillet.
• Dip each fillet in yoghurt, then cover in about a teaspoon on coriander paste and finally roll in breadcrumbs.
• Fry the fish fingers gently for about 4 minutes each side until firm and golden brown.
• Serve with the chips and some mayonnaise mixed with lemon juice and capers.
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Easter Pudding...

I spotted this idea in an M&S magazine that was lying around. We didn't make it for Easter, but rather the week after when they were selling Hot Cross Buns off cheaply. It is essentially a bread and butter pudding, with the addition of some chopped apple. At any other time of the year you could make this with fruit buns or fruit loaf of course, there's no reason for it to be Hot Cross Buns.

• 12 Hot Cross Buns
• 400ml Double Cream/Single Cream/Milk blend (depending on how rich you want it)
• 2 or 3 Eggs
• 50g Demerara Sugar
• 3 small dessert Apples
• Butter

• Slice and butter the buns, arrange in a greased tray so the tops are showing.
• Chop the apples into cubes and spread liberally amongst the buns.
• Beat the eggs and stir in the milk/cream. Pour over the buns.
• Sprinkle sugar generously over the top.
• Bake for 30 minutes at 170°C until the custard is set.

(Serves 12)

• The original recipe added pears, we only had apples in at the time.
• I added some vanilla syrup (the stuff you'd add to coffee) drizzled over then buns. I can't prove this made it tastier, but it seemed a good idea if you have somehting like that around.
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Mini Cheese & Leek Quiches...

When you make the quiche from a few posts back you might have some pastry left over. I did, so I popped it in the fridge and a couple of days later we had these mini cheese & leek quiches for lunch. We had cheese and leek because that's what was in the fridge needing to be eaten up. I reckon cheese is a quiche essential, along with a little onion, but you should be able to add just about anything else and end up with a tasty egg tart of sorts.

• Veg fried lightly for a few minutes whilst pastry cases had 5 minutes in the oven
• Egg beaten with a dash of milk, poured into cases filled with a little cheese and vegetables
• Baked for 10-15 minutes in oven at 200°C

(made 9)
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Crumble Topped Fruit Muffins...

I seem to make so many cupcake/muffins at the moment. Well, unfortunately here's another. In my defence I started out intending to make this in tray cake format, then at the last minute decided I'd rather portion it up.

The idea is simple, based upon a classic fruit crumble dessert, but turned into a cake. You can try any tasty fruit you like, just make sure there's plenty of them. Having made these with 4 or 5 blackberries per cake I'd say it could easily handle twice that number, or maybe even some cubed apple too. Chunks of rhubarb would be nice.

I put a nice sprinkling of crumble on top of each cake before baking, which, once the cake mixture had risen around it, turned out to be barely noticeable. Next time I'll thoroughly top it off with crumble.

• Make a basic sponge muffin mixture by creaming butter and sugar, adding eggs and folding in self raising four (150g of each and 3 eggs).
• Spoon this into muffin cases, about two-thirds full.
• Drop several blackberries/fruit chunks on top and press into the batter.
• Make a crumble mix with the plain and wholemeal flour blend, remaining sugar, oats and cinnamon (other spices are good too). Blend in the butter gradually; you need it to just begin coming together and form lumps, but not quite become dough.
• Sprinkle generously on top of muffins.
• Bake for 15-20 minutes at 180°C

(Makes 12)

• You might need more butter than the 50g in the ingredients for crumble, I didn't weigh it out so took a guess.
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I'd been wanting to make a quiche for quite a long time, but just never got around to it. Well, finally did it and the result was really tasty. Obviously you can add whatever you fancy to the basic mixture, I added chunks of feta cheese, peppers and tomatoes which proved a very tasty combination of sweet and salty.

6 Eggs
150ml Single Cream
200g Plain Flour
100g Butter
Cold Water
100g Cheese

• To make the pastry, blend the flour and butter together then combine to a soft dough with a little cold water. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
• Roll out to 3-4mm thick and use to line a 20cm tart tray.
• Blind bake the pastry case for 10-15 minutes at 180°C (weighed down with pulses or similar)
• Whilst the pastry is baking, fry seom chopped onions and any other vegetables you want in the filling for a few minutes until softened.
• Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle a little grated cheese in the base along with the vegetables and fillings.
• Beat the eggs and cream together, season, then pour into the pastry case.
• Top with the remaining grated cheese then bake for 30 minutes at 180°C until golden on top and egg is set.

(serves 6)

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Peaches & Cream Cupcakes...

These are taken from the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook. They're quite a moist cake, with sweet mouthfulls of peach.

120g Plain Flour
140g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Baking Powder
40g Butter
120ml Milk
1 Egg
Vanilla Extract
400g Peach slices

• Beat the flour, sugar, baking powder and butter together in a mixer until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
• Beat the egg and milk together with a little vanilla essence, then pour in gradually, mixing until smooth.
• Fill paper cases two-thirds full and top with a couple of peach slices in each.
• Bake in a preheated oven (170°C) for 20 minutes.
• Cool and decorate with buttercream icing, sprinkled with a little brown sugar.

• Icing: 250g Icing Sugar, 80g Butter, 25ml Milk, vanilla essence
• Makes 12

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Banana, Honey & Oat Muffins...

I think this was defintiely one of those 'inspired' cooking moments. We had the obligatory blackening bananas hanging around waiting to be 'caked', but I didn't fancy the usual go-to banana cake this time. So, I thought muffins would be a good idea. Somehow I came up with oats and honey; the result was a moist, yet light, incredibly tasty muffin with a hint of coarse oaty texture. Perfect any time of day.

5oz Butter
4oz Sugar
2 Eggs
2 Bananas
2 tsp Honey
7oz Flour
Handful of Oats

• Cream butter and sugar in a food processor.
• Mash the banana, honey and eggs together in a bowl to make your wet mixture.
• Add to the food processor.
• Quickly combine the oats and flour to the mixture.
• Place into muffin cases, sprinkle a few extra oats on top and bake for 20-25 mins until golden brown and spongy to touch.
• Turn out onto a cooling rack and whilst cooling drizzle a little warmed honey (10 seconds in microwave) on top of each muffin.

(Makes 12)
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