Monday, 27 July 2015

Lemon and Courgette Cupcakes

Readers, I’m feeling a bit apprehensive about posting this.  It’s a cake with vegetables.  Buuut, we eat carrot cake without blinking an eye, so I’ll give this a bash.

Dr Oetker got in touch with me to ask me to take part in their healthier summer baking series.  I have another post to do later on, but this is round one!
Thanks Dr Oetker!

So, lemon courgette cakes.  Surprisingly good.  The courgette adds moisture to the sponge and with only 60ml veg oil as your fat, it’s better than being butter laden.  

My hot tip is to grate the courgette using the fine side panel of the grater – it’s nicer for the texture of the cake and prevents lumps of courgette in the sponge.  The mix is quite runny, but don’t fret – 25 minutes gives a decent rise in the oven.

I’ll definitely be trying these again soon (and at 177 calories per cake including frosting, they are practically guilt free).

Happy Baking!

Lemon & Courgette Cupcakes
lemon courgette cupcakes

Ingredients for the Cakes:

175 g Plain Flour (6 oz)
115 g Caster Sugar (4 oz)
150 g Courgette (5 oz) grated
Medium Eggs x 2 beaten
60 ml Sunflower Oil (4 tbsp)

To Decorate:

200 g Light Cream Cheese (7 oz) 3% fat
30 g Icing Sugar (2 tbsp)
Lemon Zest


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C Fan, Gas Mark 4). Line a fairy cake tin with 12 Baking Cases. Sift the flour and Baking Powder into a bowl and stir in the sugar.
  2. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the courgette, eggs, oil and Sicilian Lemon Extract. Mix until well combined.
  3. Divide the mixture between the Baking Cases and bake for about 25 minutes until risen, lightly golden and firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely and store in an airtight container for 24 hours to allow the flavour and texture to develop.
    Sift in dry ingredients

    Finely grate courgette

    Ta da! Out of the oven!
  4. To decorate, put the soft cheese in a bowl and beat with a wooden spoon to soften. Sift the icing sugar on top and add the Madagascan Vanilla Extract. Mix together until well blended.
  5. Spread a little soft cheese topping over each cake and sprinkle with lemon zest. Your cakes are now ready to eat and enjoy!
    lemon courgette cupcakees

 Disclaimer:  Dr Oetker sent me a series of their products to get baking with.  Any opinions expressed are my own. 

Friday, 24 July 2015

Cooking with Fragata – Tuna Carpaccio

Readers, we are heading off to the Mediterranean tonight, for an elegant tapas dish that takes 25 minutes to create, uses delicious ingredients and is guaranteed to make dinner party guests impressed.
tuna carpaccio

Fragata got in touch with me a few weeks back, asking me to take part in a cook-a-long challenge with chef Omar from Tapas Revolution on Youtube.  Fragata have developed a series of cook-a-long videos for the amateur cook to create delicious Mediterranean dishes at home.

Back in 1897, Don Santiago Camacho Roman founded a family business in Seville to produce olive oils. As with all Spaniards, Don Santiago’s home in the sunny AndalucĂ­an region of Spain was never without the humble Spanish olive. It was his passion to share Spain’s most delicious olives with others, and so, in 1925, the Fragata Spanish Olive brand was brought to life.

More than 86 years on and Fragata Spanish olives are now sold across the world and remain a firm favourite and kitchen staple for millions of Spanish families as well as reaching the UK shores.
This recipe was easy to cook along to and I was delighted to be able to pause the video on the iPad as I cooked and rewind when necessary to make sure I captured everything.

I’ve done a step by step guide for you too, but please watch and cook along!

Tuna Carpaccio with Olives, Peppers and Capers

Ingredients (serves 4 as a tapas dish)

4 Fragata black pitted olives
Small handful Fragata capers
1 pimento pepper
Finely chopped chives
Finely chopped coriander
Zest of ½ lemon
Juice of 1/3 lemon
Black pepper
Salt to season the tuna
1 tuna steak (or loin if available)


  1. Heat a pan over a medium/high heat and lightly coat tuna in olive oil.  Sear tuna for 15 seconds on each side and seal the edges.
  2. Using a plate that’s been chilled in the freezer, transfer the seared tuna to the plate and return to freezer for 15 minutes to chill.
    Get your ingredients together

    Sear each side for 10-15 seconds

  3. Prep your dressing by adding capers to a bowl then adding finely chopped olives and peppers. Finely chop chives and coriander and add to the mix. 
    Prepping the ingredients
  4. Zest ½ lemon into the bowl and add the lemon juice.  Add black pepper and a generous glug of olive oil.  Mix all ingredients together to form the dressing.
  5. Remove the tuna from the freezer and using a very sharp knife, cut thin slices against the grain of the fish.
  6. Plate up and top with the mixed dressing. 
    tuna carpaccio

Link up your recipe of the week

Friday, 10 July 2015

Lemon Drizzle Cake Bars

Readers, another speedy bake tonight. I had some friends over for dinner.  Small friend included in that.   These are fresh, zesty and as it appears, liked by all ages.  The creator of this recipe (which I’ve only adapted slightly) has made it quick and easy to bake, as everything is in cup measurements.  Perfect if you are pushed for time, as it can all be thrown into the bowl!

Although we didn’t end up eating these at dinner, youngest crew member was happy to munch away on some small squares of cake whilst we ate.   I’ve had these chilling in the fridge for a few hours and have settled myself on the couch now with a square of cake and Celebrity Masterchef.

Happy weekend all.  Enjoy this quick and easy bake.

Lemon Drizzle Cake Bars

Ingredients (makes 1x 8x8in tin)

¾ cup plain flour
¾ cup caster sugar
½ cup softened butter
2 large eggs
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
Icing Sugar + juice of ½ lemon and zest to decorate


  1. Preheat the oven to 190c/170c fan/Gas 6.
  2. Grease and line an 8x8in tin.
  3. Sift the flour and sugar into a bowl.  Add the slightly softened butter and mix until combined.
  4. In a jug, whisk the eggs and juice of 1 lemon.  Add to the sugar, flour and butter, then mix for around 2 minutes until a smooth cake batter forms.
    Mix batter until smooth
  5. Add the lemon zest and mix to combine.
  6. Transfer the cake batter to the tin and smooth out.   Bake for around 25 minutes.
  7. Cool in tin for 5 minutes, then turn out to a tray and allow to cool fully.
  8. Add icing sugar to a bowl and add the juice of ½ a lemon.  Mix until a thick, spreadable paste is formed.  Spread over the cooled cake as a thin icing topping.  Grate lemon zest on top of the icing and allow to set before cutting into squares and serving.
  9. Store in an airtight container for up to 48 hours.