"No love sincerer than the love of food"


Savoury Scones – bring on the sub

sconeOver the Christmas break I ate  a lot of sugar.  This was not your run of the mill indulgence in Christmas cake  and the odd  box of roses, this was gluttony of the highest order.

Mid way through the holidays I was forced to  retire to bed due to ‘overdoing’ it with a certain banoffee pie, but this was not  the last straw for me (it really ought to have been).  The last straw came when I could not manage a second piece of  stollen at the home a friend.  I felt weak, shaky and nauseas – think it is referred to as a sugar hangover.  This particular stollen hailed from a small family bakers in Germany and was exquisite. I was unable to take one more bite!  I was done.

I have talked on the blog before about my failure to find my sugar off switch and my belief that it is addictive (for some at least).  Seems I am an early adopter for once as this view seems to be everywhere just now.

So yet again I took the decision to ditch added sugar as much as I could.  No sweets, cakes, chocolate or biscuits, as little processed food as possible (never going to ditch ketchup), and rejecting any food that has sugar in the top three ingredients.

I draw the line on fruit – fruit is good for you and I can’t cope with the idea that fruit is in any way evil.

Trouble is I find giving up these things harder than giving up smoking and harder than tackling a dry January, so roll in the substitutes!

My favourite substitute ‘de moment’ is SAVOURY SCONES.  They look cakey, they feel cakey and despite being savoury they taste sort of cakey.

I got started with a fantastically simple recipe from for Mediterannean Scones which were flavoured with olives, sun dried tomatoes and lovely crumbly feta.  Served warm with lashings of salty butter these would be brilliant as part of a savoury spread of continental meats and cheeses,  but also worked brilliantly on their own with a nice cup of mint tea and as a nice breakfast alternative.  I was hooked! They take about 10 minutes to make, 20 minutes to cook and they taste superb.

I started to experiment buy adding alternative ingredients.  So far I have tried:

  • Grated Cheddar and Courgette
  • Parmesan and Spring Onion
  • Pancetta and Parmesan

You can find the recipe on

Have you any other great ideas for savoury scones?  Tell me and I will try them, I am on a roll.


Rhubarb Ice Cream with Lemon Spiced Biscuits – Recipes for Life Challenge

I  was recently impressed by a desert of  chocolate brownie and rhubarb ice cream at  Rufflets Hotel in St Andrews and had already talked idly about trying to replicate the fresh creamy ice cream myself.

Then as luck would have it Vanesther over at Bangers & Mash issued her May ‘Recipes for Life Challenge’ which called for entrants to get creative with rhubarb – a golden opportunity!

So what is the Recipe For Life challenge all about?  Each month Bangers & Mash issue three seasonal ingredients with which to create a (hopefully)  fabulous dish.  May’s ingredients are rhubarb, lemon and spice.  The best recipes entered will be included in a new charity cookbook to be published by SWALLOW later this year.  Swallow is a charity supporting adults with learning disabilities.

Swallow – a Somerset based charity

My challenge entry is Rhubarb Ice Cream with Lemon Spiced Biscuits.

I am an ice cream making virgin and therefore I am not entirely sure how technically correct my method is but it was certainly simple and tasty.

Prior to freezing this mixture tastes like a sumptuous version of  rhubarb fool; it is actually a miracle that any of the mixture made it as ice cream as every 15 minute stirring trip to the freezer resulted in large spoonfuls finding their way into my gaping maw!

The little biscuits are adapted from a Rachel Allen recipe.  They complimented the ice cream perfectly.


Ice Cream


  • 3 cups sliced fresh  rhubarb
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup double cream 


  • Place rhubarb in a baking dish. Sprinkle with sugar. Cover and bake at  for 30-40 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Cool slightly.
  • Process in batches in a blender or food processor. Transfer to a bowl; cover and refrigerate until chilled.
  • Stir in lemon juice. In a bowl, beat cream until stiff peaks form. Gradually fold into rhubarb mixture.
  • Transfer to a shallow freezer container. Freeze, uncovered, for 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Cover and freeze overnight.

Lemon Spice Biscuits


  • 175g plain wholemeal flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • zest of lemon
  • Teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 110g butter


  • Rub the butter and flour together with your fingers
  • Add the sugar, spice and lemon
  • Work the mixture into a stiff dough
  • Roll out and cut biscuits (around 1/2 cm)
  • Bake for around 8 minutes or until lovely and golden



Photo 04-03-2013 22 12 52Everywhere I go people seem to be cutting bread out of their diet.  It is blamed for all sorts of things these days, which is such a shame because as you  probably know all bread is not created equally.  The loaf from your supermarket, which probably includes emulsifiers amongst other things to keep the bread looking all fluffy and consistent is a far cry from  the loaf that you will see on the stalls at your local bakers or farmers market.

Like most people I buy supermarket bread pretty much every week  but I also love buying lovely artisan loaves of bread whenever I can and have recently set about trying to make my own bread.

The first attempt did  not go well.  Unfortunately I read two teaspoons of yeast as two tablespoons and spent five minutes frantically trying to remove the excess yeast.  It all went horribly wrong  – the lazy loaf didn’t make the effort to rise and to be honest the finished result would have been better used as a lethal weapon than for human consumption.  Fellow blogger  www. suggested using it for breadcrumbs, but I was skunnered and it went in the bin.

Photo 04-03-2013 21 12 04However I am glad to say that my second attempt rose to the occasion!  The original recipe was  ‘fig and pecan yeast bread’,  but having neither figs or pecans in the cupboard it became a prune and walnut loaf which worked really well.  The fruit suited my quest to find something sweet but virtuous and it was great toasted. Obviously you could experiment with lots of different variations of fruit and nuts;  the world is your “oxter” as my granny was fond of saying.


260ml lukewarm water

1/2 tsp granulated sugar

2tsp dried yeast

400g wholemeal flour – I used wholemeal bread flour

Teaspoon of salt (a bit of a scant one!)

photo100g of chopped dried prunes

60g of chopped walnuts

1tbs melted butter


Pour the water into a jug and add the sugar, stir and sprinkle over the dried yeast.  Leave for around 10 minutes when the beery head forms from the yeast.

Place flour and salt into a bowl and stir in the fruit and nuts.  Make a well and pour in the yeast/water and the melted butter. Stir with a wooden spoon.  The dough should be moist and firm but not sticky

Place the dough on a floury work surface and knead for around five minutes until the dough becomes smooth.

Place in a large bowl and leave somewhere nice and warm for around two hours – your dough should double in size

Remove from the bowl and knead lightly for a minute of two before popping in a loaf tin

Pop into an oven that has been preheated to 220 degrees centigrade for ten minutes then lower the heat to 190, baking from a further 30-40 minutes or until the bread sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom

Voila – lovely homemade bread!


Loaves and Fishes

baked AlaskaThere have been 5 main loves in my dad’s life to date –  his family, his “wee dug”,  the North Sea, Michael Schumacher and food.

You could say that food was in his blood.  His Father Jimmy was a baker with his own shop in the fishing village of Pittenweem, both sons were trained  in the family business. Dad didn’t follow the floury career path in the end but the skills he learned stayed with him and fuelled his life-long passion for food.

Instead of loaves Dad concentrated on fishes,  trawling the North Sea every week for most of his working life.  Although  no gourmet he was a naturally good cook and was in charge of  keeping the hungry crews he sailed with over the years happy with wholesome and simple dishes such as mince and tatties, cullen skink and skirlie.

skirlieRecipe for Skirlie (great with a chicken dinner or with mince and tatties).  Melt 50g of butter and add a finely chopped up onion.  Cook till the onion is soft.  Add in 175g of oatmeal and season well.  Cook on the hob for about 15 minutes and away ye’ go.

Mum and I did not eat fish! I  didn’t like fish simply because my mum didn’t like fish (makes sense when you are 6).  A  fisherman’s family who won’t eat fish –  it really was ludicrous. I did like fish fingers but they didn’t count.  They were a banned substance in the Taylor household amid many tales of fish eyes and guts. Dad did finally get me on board so to speak with a simple version of Cullen Skink.

Dad’s easy Smoked Fish in Milk – Pop a piece of smoked fish  in a dish, cover with milk, add some onion slices, a knob of butter and a wee bit of tomato. Cook in the microwave  and serve up with lots of fluffy white bread to soak up the juices.  Simple and satisfying. Sometimes we added a potato or some grated cheese!  It was a flexible affair.

Like most homes in the 70’s and 80’s tastes were pretty simple – roast beef and yorkshire puddings, mince and tatties, steak, chips and onion rings, stews (I am sure it was the same in your house).  Sole Veronique was not a family staple,  but it was what mum and I decided to  prepare in a bid to impress Dad one Saturday evening.  His reaction was a bit like Peter Kay’s Garlic Bread sketch.  You know the one,  Garlic ……….. and Bread!!!  Same scene Fish… and Grapes… and Wine!!!   Not a raging success but as cooking entered celebrityville, Dad did embrace the new and it became our new shared interest.

Baking was where he really excelled.  He was and is an avid fan of all things sweet as it rather evident from his substantial girth.  You don’t get to be on first name terms with the staff of Fisher & Donaldsons for no reason!

He is most well-known for his shortbread, little round beauties dusted in sugar. Hard to stick to one or two and brilliant dunked in your tea.  He has always been a bit Machiavellian with his baking in my opinion.  Is taking shortbread to the reception staff in the Doctor’s surgery, the traffic wardens who walk the streets of St Andrews and the ladies who work in the bank a form of bribery? You decide!

shortbreadDads Shortbread Recipe.  4 0z butter, 2 0z sugar, 5oz flour, 1 oz semolina.  Cream butter and sugar together until light, fork through the flour and semolina.  Draw the mixture together with your fingers to make a dough. Roll out and cut into rounds.  Prick all over with a fork and put in an oven at 170 for 40 minutes or until the colour of pale straw.

He is the only person I personally know who has successfully made Baked Alaska.  Cue another Peter Kay moment  –  Ice Cream …. in the oven.  What’s that all about?  It was as I remember gorgeous but not something I would be brave enough to contemplate making even now.  Hats off to Mr Taylor for impressing us with this remarkable feat.

Even when things did go wrong on the baking front it was often so very right.  My love of toffee stems from his attempt to make tablet.  We never did get tablet but we did get a tray of amazingly gooey toffee.  Much better than tablet in my opinion and probably why I can’t pass a packet of Thornton’s special toffee to this day.

On most weekends we  trooped off to either St Andrews or Kirkcaldy  when I was a kid. Both of which were home to The Pancake Place..  The Pancake Place was a sweet tooth haven.  I believe there were savoury options available but my family swiftly bypassed them, tucking into sizeable american style pancakes with our favourite teeth rotting toppings.  Lemon and sugar for mum, maple syrup and cream for dad and chocolate sauce with nuts and cream for me. We loved these pancakes so much that Dad mastered making even bigger versions at home.  We would have them on a Saturday night with lashings of maple syrup and too much cream whilst watching Dusty Bin (3-2-1).  The pancakes became legendary!

I could write a book of memories of my Dads cooking and baking and probably a sequel on my Granny who was a demon baker.  But I will stop here …. for now!

Unfortunately Dad can no longer bake which is sad (though my hips give a sigh of relief) so it is nice to remember all the fabulous “tasty bites” he is famous for.

I am not a baker, principally because I am also a sugar addict and I eat EVERYTHING that I bake.  But perhaps I ought to at least try to keep the family skill alive and haul out the Kenwood Chef he gave me recently to give it a go.  Wish me luck!


Elizabeth Taylor’s Fruit Loaf

Elizabeth Taylor I hear you gasp.  How did such a Hollywood Great manage to keep her culinary passions under a bushel?  But of course the Elizabeth Taylor I am writing about is the equally impressive, though slightly less famous Mrs Grumbling Tummy senior.

In fact my Dad was the real baker in our family, but as he spent most of the week trawling for fish in the North Sea, mum was forced to master some simple but fabulous recipes to keep the home fires burning and one of these recipes was for Fruit Loaf.  

Although I am a first class cake eater,  I rarely make cakes.  You see all to often things go horribly wrong –  my daughters first birthday cake is still referred to as the birthday pancake.  Perhaps my cooking style does not transfer well to baking, which is altogether a more scientific beast.  I favour the ‘dab of this and dash of the other’ approach to cooking and rarely stick religiously to a recipe. Besides attention to detail was never my strong point.

However that said, every man and his dog seems to have been bitten by the baking bug lately, and not wanting to be left behind, I decided to give it another bash. So what better cake to make than my mum’s fruit loaf? It is the easiest and tastiest cake imaginable, thus ensuring that my fragile ‘bakers’ ego remains intact.

Apart from being a little more cakey than loafy it pretty much does what it says on the ‘loaf’ tin, delivering a fruity and spicy offering that tastes equally great on its own or further enhanced with a slab of butter.

So without further ado here is the recipe for my mums Fruit Loaf


1 egg

1 cup of sugar

1 cup of sultanas

2 cups of self raising flour

2 heaped teaspoons of mixed spice

2oz butter 

1 cup of milk


Put the milk, sultanas, sugar and butter into a pan and bring to the boil

Leave this to cool for a while

Then add in the egg, flour and mixed spice

Pour mix into a greased loaf tin and bake for around 20 mins to half and hour (sorry, slightly sketchy on the timings.  I just keep an eye on it and when it looks ready I stick the knife in, so to speak and if it comes out clean then we’re done)       



Nuts about squares!

The finished article

Treatment of my sugar addiction was compromised recently at a playdate, when a well-meaning friend arrived bearing a cache of peanut butter squares.

There are two things that make me go weak at the knees (in food terms).  These are, in no particular order, peanut butter and tray bakes.  The two combined are truly a match made in cake heaven.

Peanut butter for me has to be crunchy and eaten as god intended – straight from the jar.  My husband is always complaining of the discarded peanut butter stained spoons strewn around the house, but it falls on deaf ears, I am beyond help.

Tray bakes – easy to make and even easier to eat.  They are the champions of church fetes and coffee mornings across the land and they are what stands between me and size 12 skinny jeans.

The other playdate mums appreciate a sweet treat as much as anybody else and duly helped themselves to ONE.  I on the other hand helped myself to THREE.  I was vaguely embarrassed but it was tray bake nirvana and I couldn’t help myself.

So today I sat the toddler in front of Goldilocks and the Three bears (again)  whilst I set about making a batch of these little gems for myself.  Like most tray bakes they are a doddle to make and within the hour they were done. Without the embarrassment of others witnessing my greed, I happily made my way through not three but four in a row.

Hurrah for peanut butter squares – a fabulous find indeed.

The original recipe comes from Lorraine Pascale and calls for dark chocolate but it is actually a little bitter, so when I make them again (and I will) I will use the 50/50 dark/milk combination used by my friend.

Try them out for yourself.