This really is an easy Banoffee Pie. I obtained the recipe from my youngest son who made it at Beaver Scouts when he was seven years old. He made it at camp and then taught me the recipe – clearly with ulterior motives – and it has been a family favourite ever since. I had no idea where it originated until one day I looked a little more closely at the tin of Carnation caramel – and there was the recipe!
Normally, I am a make-everything-from-scratch kind of cook. However, this recipe uses ready-made caramel. It is extremely sweet but tastes great with the bananas and, to be honest, this is clearly not a health-food recipe! I generally try and cook healthy food for my family, with lots of vegetables. However, I always do a dessert after Sunday lunch, which is often a big family gathering, and my easy Banoffee Pie is always very popular! Bananas and caramel are a classic combination and the unsweetened whipped cream balances the sugar hit of the caramel.
Due to its simplicity and no-cook method, this is a great recipe for children to try when they are learning to cook. Younger ones may need a bit of help when melting the butter for the base but if they are over ten, just give them the ingredients and the recipe and let them get on with it!
This easy Banoffee Pie is a no-cook dessert that only requires five ingredients. Popular with children and adults alike, it brings together bananas, caramel, whipped cream on a buttery biscuit base.
250 g digestive biscuits
100 g butter
397 g tin of Carnation caramel
3 ripe bananas
500 ml double cream
Crush the digestive biscuits into crumbs. I do this either by putting the biscuits in a metal bowl and then using the end of a wooden rolling pin to crush them or by putting them in a plastic bag and using the side of a wooden rolling pin. Either way, it is a great way of getting rid of a bit of stress!
Melt the butter – I generally do this by putting it in a small bowl and giving it a quick blast in microwave.
Put the biscuit crumbs and melted butter in a bowl and stir to combine. Then pour the crumb mixture into a 23 cm loose-bottomed cake tin and press down with the back of a spoon to form a smooth layer.
Put the tin containing the crumb mixture in the fridge for around 15 minutes. This will allow it to cool and harden so that it is easier to add the layer of caramel.
When the crumb mixture has cooled, spoon the caramel on top of it to form the next layer.
Peel and slice your bananas and place the slices on top of the caramel.
Whip the cream and smooth this on top of the banana layer.
This Summer Pudding recipe is an English classic which was developed specifically to make use of stale bread. It was an imperative not to waste food and products had a shorter shelf-life due to lack of preservatives. In the winter, Bread and Butter Pudding, was a popular way to use up bread that was past its best. In summer, when berries were in season, Summer Pudding was the answer!
Slices of bread, dipped in berry-flavoured syrup, are used to encase a mixture of summer berries. One of the great things about this Summer Pudding recipe is that it can be adapted to the ingredients that you have available. You can use any berries that are in season but make sure that you include some currants – either redcurrants or blackcurrants – as they are needed to produce the flavourful syrup.
An easy to make, no-cook, traditional English bread pudding recipe using fresh seasonal berries.
1 kilo mixed fresh berries (NB: the mix should include some currants but otherwise use whatever you have available from: redcurrants, blackcurrants, raspberries, loganberries, tayberries, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries etc)
2 tablespoons water
170 g caster sugar
6 slices of white bread (crusts removed)
Place the currants in a saucepan together with the water and sugar. Heat until the currants have softened. This will take about 5 minutes.
Add the other berries to the saucepan with the currants and stir to combine.
Use a sieve to separate the berries from the juice.
Take a sheet of cling film and use it to line the inside of a small pudding basin. This will make it easier to get the pudding out of the basin!
Dip the slices of bread in the juice and use it to line the bottom and sides of the small pudding basin. You can fill in any gaps with small pieces of juice-dipped bread.
Pour the berries into the bread-lined pudding basin.
Cover the top of the basin with juice-dipped bread to enclose the berry mixture.
Put a piece of cling film loosely over the top of the pudding basin. Put a small saucer on top of it and use something heavy (a can of beans is perfect!) to weigh it down.
Leave the pudding basin in the fridge overnight.
When you are ready to serve, remove the cling film from the top of the pudding basin. Invert the basin onto a plate. Give it a sharp shake and remove the basin leaving the pudding on the plate. Take off the cling film that you used to line the basin.
Serve chilled. Whipped cream is a good accompaniment.
Use whatever berries are available but make sure you include some redcurrants or blackcurrants as you need these to make the flavoured syrup.
You need to make this recipe a day in advance of when you wish to eat it as it needs to be kept in the fridge overnight to ensure that it stays in shape when turned out.
This Rum Banana Bread recipe is taken from Nigella Lawson’s fantastic cookery book ““. It is very easy to make and involves the winning combination of bananas with rum soaked raisins or sultanas. It was one of the first baking recipes that I made.
The riper the bananas, the better the taste. If you have really squishy, black bananas at the bottom of your fruit bowl, this is good way to use them up! If you have bananas that are on their way to black squishiness, you can just pop them in the freezer and then defrost when you are ready to make this cake. When they are defrosted, they will be really soft and squishy – you would not want to eat one as it is – but they are fine to use in cakes like this one. I often make this recipe using frozen bananas and the taste and texture of the finished cake is no different from when I use fresh bananas.
This cake does contain alcohol but the cooking process means that you just get a mild rum flavour. Don’t be worried about giving this cake to children – mine have all eaten it from when they were very young. However, if you are teetotal or do not wish to use alcohol, you can soak the raisins in water or apple juice.
This recipe for Strawberry Balsamic Ice Cream uses strawberries that have been macerated in balsamic vinegar. The end result does not taste sour or vinegary at all. The balsamic vinegar enhances the flavour of the strawberries and cuts through their sweetness. Sometimes it is hard to get hold of really tasty strawberries and the addition of the vinegar can help you create super-tasty ice cream from average tasting berries. Essentially, it is strawberry ice cream but with an extra flavour boost.
What you need to know about this Strawberry Ice Cream
As I am keen on using seasonal, local produce, I generally make this ice cream in late May to September when it is strawberry season in England. However, you can make it all the year around.
You need to make sure that you use balsamic vinegar rather than ordinary vinegar to make this recipe. Balsamic vinegar has a rich sweetness which offsets its sharpness and really brings out the flavour of the strawberries.
Although you can make this recipe without an ice cream maker, it is a lot easier if you have one. You can buy a basic ice cream maker fairly cheaply.
It is best to start this recipe the day before you eat it. This will mean that once you have made the basic custard, it will have time to chill down before you put it in the ice cream maker the next day.
You can also make this ice cream well in advance if that is more convenient. I generally make double the quantity and keep it in the freezer where it will last for up to three months.
As with most home-made ice creams, it helps to remove the container from the freezer about ten minutes before serving as this will make it easier to scoop.
I am a great home-made ice cream enthusiast. I make it in the summer, of course, but am happy to eat it in winter too! There are some brilliant, shop-bought ice creams available but it is so easy to make your own. I like to experiment with flavours and some of my other ice cream recipes are listed below.
This ice cream uses strawberries that have been macerated in balsamic vinegar. This cuts through the sweetness of the berries and enhances their taste. When you try the ice cream, you would not guess that it contains vinegar.
500 g fresh strawberries
55 ml balsamic vinegar
110 g caster sugar
4 egg yolks
425 ml double cream
Wash the strawberries, remove the green stalks and roughly chop.
Place the chopped strawberries in a bowl and add the balsamic vinegar. Allow to macerate for around 30 minutes.
Put the sugar in a saucepan with 55 ml of water. Heat gently until the sugar has dissolved. Set the sugar syrup aside to cool slightly.
Set aside 150 g of the macerated strawberries. Place the remaining 350 g of the macerated strawberries in a blender together with the sugar syrup. Blend to form a thick puree.
Put the cream in a saucepan and heat gently. Do not allow to boil – it will be the right temperature when you are just about able to bear to dip a finger in it!
Put the egg yolks in a bowl and add the heated cream, whisking all the time.
Transfer the combined mixture into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water or, ideally a double-boiler, as you need to reheat it very gently.
The mixture will gradually thicken until it looks like a custard (which is what it is). Stir regularly to make sure it does not stick while it is thickening.
Remove the thick custard from the heat and transfer into a bowl. Add the strawberry puree to the custard together with the 150 g of macerated strawberries that you set aside (see point 4).
Allow to cool to room temperature and then transfer to the fridge to become thoroughly chilled.
When you are ready to make the ice cream, transfer to your ice cream maker and use according to your machine’s instructions. If you do not have an ice cream maker, you can place the mixture in a freezer-proof container, put in the freezer for several hours until half-frozen. Whisk the mixture and then return to the container and replace in the freezer until totally frozen.
Although the preparation time and cook time totals 20 minutes you will need to allow additional time for the ice cream mixture to become completely cold before you freeze it.
This Fennel Soup can be made in either vegetarian or vegan variations. The aniseed flavour of the fennel is mellowed by slow cooking and this gives the finished soup a sophisticated taste which belies the simplicity of the ingredients. This means that, although it is really easy to make, this soup would not be out of place as a starter at a dinner party, particularly if you include the additions of cream, Pernod and decorate it with chopped dill or herb fennel.
When I first started cooking for myself, around twenty years ago, I loved to experiment with complicated recipes that included lots of different ingredients. However, over the years, my recipes have generally become simpler. Now I like to focus on one main ingredient and cook it in a way that brings out its particular unique flavour. This Fennel Soup recipe is a really good example of this approach. It is all about the taste of the fennel and how it can be transformed by slow cooking into something really special.
Not everyone likes aniseed. Actually, I am not that keen on aniseed! I do not eat aniseed flavoured sweets and actively dislike Pernod as a drink option. However, I love fennel, particularly when it has been slow cooked, as the aniseed taste is transformed into something special. And the addition of Pernod to the soup gives a aniseed boost without being overpowering.
This is a really easy recipe that showcases the fantastic flavour of fennel. Slow cooking the fennel mellows its aniseed flavour and produces a sophisticated soup that is at home as a dinner party starter as well as an informal lunch.
25 g butter or 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 fennel bulbs
Salt and pepper
1 large potato
500 ml water
1 teaspoon vegetable bouillon powder or a vegetable stockcube
Milk or water as required to thin the soup
1 tablespoon Pernod (optional)
1 tablespoon double cream (optional)
A few sprigs of fresh dill or herb fennel (optional)
Heat the butter or oil in a large saucepan
Roughly chop the fennel bulbs and the onion and add to the saucepan. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and fry them very gently for around 15 minutes until they are soft and sweet.
Peel and chop the potato and add to the pan with the fennel and onion.
Add 500 ml of water and a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon powder. Simmer for 15 minutes.
Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly. Blend the soup until smoothe in a food processor or with a hand-held blender.
Add milk or water – or a combination – to thin the soup to the desired consistency. You will need around 500 ml depending on how thick you want your soup.
If you wish, you can add Pernod and cream to the soup before serving and decorate the surface of each bowl with chopped dill or herb fennel.
This recipe can be either vegetarian or vegan. If you wish to make a vegan version, use oil to cook the vegetables, water to thin the soup and omit the double cream (or use a non-dairy alternative).