Holy mole – Mexican Sauce

This Mexican sauce recipe is loosely based on mole poblano, but this is a store cupboard version that’s quick and easy.


1 onion, finely chopped
1 chilli, preferably a dried chipotle chilli that was been reconstituted in hot water and finely chopped, but I’ve also made this with a finely chopped fresh red chilli.
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds, 1 tbsp for the sauce, 1 tbsp for garnish
1 tbsp chopped almonds (I use flaked almonds and chop them into small pieces using a mezzaluna. I would use ground almonds if that was what I had in the cupboards)
½ tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground cloves
½ tsp ground cumin
3 tbsp tomato purée (you could alternatively use 3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped, but I don’t always have fresh tomatoes in the house)
1 tbsp peanut butter
25g plain chocolate
350ml vegetable stock

(An authentic mole poblano would also have a handful of raisins in, add them if you want, but I prefer this without.)

1. Heat the oil in a large saucepan and cook the onions, garlic and chillis gently until soft.

2. Add the sesame seeds, almonds, ground cinnamon, cloves and cumin and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well.

3. Add the tomato purée, stock, peanut butter and chocolate and stir well. Cook at a simmer for 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, I would usually throw in a selection of vegetables and legumes to cook.

If you would prefer to make a more traditional mole poblano sauce, there are recipes on the BBC website that you could adapt.


Christmas Marmalade Gin

Well another year has flown by – but what a fantastic one it’s been. We celebrated Christmas with a trip to London to see ‘Big Fish the Musical’ and go ice-skating at Somerset House. There was some tasty food and drink sampled along the way; a Creme Brûlée eclair from the Savoy Café, a Speculoos canelé, water ganache chocolates, Cassis gin and Christmas Madeira from Fortnum and Mason and Cauliflower ‘chicken wings’ when visiting Wingmans at Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park.


We had a lovely Christmas Day celebrating with family after a brisk early morning walk around Regent’s Park (with a glimpse of the chimps and camels at London Zoo).

In the run up to the festive season we amassed a large amount of gin, mainly because I was lucky enough to receive a Gin Advent Calendar from my husband. I decided to use some to have a go at making marmalade gin, which I’d seen here. My recipe used Christmas Marmalade by Mrs Bridges, which I highly recommend (although my absolute favourite is the Christmas Preserve).

Christmas Marmalade Gin

You can adapt the quantities to the amount of gin you want to make.


1. Firstly find a suitable sealable container and add your marmalade. You’ll want around 4 heaped tablespoons for each 500ml of gin you are using. (Although the original recipe also includes sugar, I figured the marmalade was already sweet, so left that out.)

2. After adding the marmalade to your jar, top up until completely full with the gin. You’ll need to leave it for at least 2 weeks to let the flavour develop. Gently tip the jar up every day or so to help the gin and marmalade mingle. When ready to drink, pour through a sieve to collect the flavoured gin. Serve with ice, tonic and orange zest to garnish.

I’m thinking the leftover marmalade needs to be used for this bread and butter pudding recipe– I’m sure Nigella would approve!

Winter Warmers

Spring is definitely on the way here in Yorkshire, but there is still a chill in the air and it’s nice to spend cosy evenings with the heating on enjoying being indoors. Here are a couple of suggestions for hearty treats.

Leek and Potato crumble (serves 2)

1 large onion
3 leeks
2 medium potatoes
150ml milk
75g butter
125g plain flour
30g cheddar cheese
1 tsp paprika

1. Preheat the oven to 180°C.

2. Slice the onions and leeks. Peel the potatoes and dice into small cubes.

3. Put in a pan with the milk and 25g butter. Cook over a medium heat, stirring until the butter melts. Cover and allow to cook until the veg is softened.

4. Blend 25g flour with 4tbsp cold water and stir into the veg. Cook for 3 minutes until the sauce thickens. Season as needed.

5. Meanwhile dice 50g butter and rub into 100g flour to make crumbs. Mix in the cheddar and paprika.

6. Tip the vegetable base into an ovenproof dish and top with the crumble. Cook in the preheated oven for 15 minutes until the crumble is golden brown.

Hot buttered Rum (serves 2)

My Dad and his partner bought me some little bottles of Rum back from their recent Caribbean cruise and I wanted to try doing something different with them.

25g butter
3tsp soft brown sugar
Orange peel (use a potato peeler to cut a few long strips of peel)
100ml Rum, spiced rum works particularly well.
2 cinnamon sticks
300ml boiling water

1. Melt the butter and sugar together in a pan with a strip of orange peel.

2. Stir in the Rum and boiling water.

3. Serve with the cinnamon stick to garnish.

Happy Halloween

Happy Halloween everyone! My plan for this evening was to purchase some Pumpkin flavoured Baileys and enjoy while watching ‘Hocus Pocus’, but I’ve been reading ‘The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying’ by Marie Kondo and I didn’t really want to go and buy more drinks when I have lots in the cupboard already. I’m determined to try and put some of her principles into practice and have a good tidy up! So as a compromise I decided to have a go at flavouring some original Baileys I already had in the cupboard with Monin’s flavoured syrup that I had for adding to coffee. I mixed Cinnamon syrup in with the cream liqueur and it worked well. (I also have Pain d’Espice syrup in the cupboard, so I’m already prepared for Christmas drinks!)



We enjoyed an amazing cocktail making experience at Panda’s kitchen where we sampled some delicious and unique artisan liqueurs (mince pie/cake/blackberry gin/ Haribo and pineapple) and had the opportunity to make some cocktails.

We shook up a Pineapple Upside Down Cake cocktail (pictured top right), made a depth charge using cake flavoured liqueur, and cream soda,  a sparkling ginger and frangelico cocktail and finished with Turkish Delight.

What’s in my kitchen?

Today’s blog challenge was to reveal the contents of your makeup bag. That didn’t feel very relevant to a cooking blog, so I thought I would adapt the theme and tell you about a few things that can be found in my kitchen instead. I tried to pick some unusual items.

I am currently obsessed with popcorn and love trying different flavours. I am a big fan of the Joe & Seph’s range for a special treat, and Propercorn for an everyday snack. I’ve just discovered Metcalfe’s Honey Bee popcorn, which is delicious.

I’ve been experimenting with flavoured icing sugars and have been using Sugar and Crumbs Black Cherry flavour. I incorporated the icing sugar into meringues. I like the range because there is a wide variety of flavours.

I received a tub of Pop a Ball bursting bubbles in Passion Fruit flavour. I tried mine in a glass of Prosecco but they can be used in soft drinks or in Bubble Tea. They are vegetarian. www.popaball.co.uk