Chocolate Beetroot Muffins

Beetroot is beautiful, isn’t it?  Such an incredibly vibrant colour.  Shame it tastes so nasty!

Fellow beetroot haters, do no dismiss the following recipe due to its inclusion of the cloyingly sweet root vegetable.  Indeed, this very sugary-ness is what makes beetroot work so well in these rich, moist and utterly decadent chocolate muffins.

Chocolate Beetroot Muffins

(makes 12)

175g caster sugar

175g plain flour

75g coco powder

2 tspn baking powder

50g dark chocolate, chopped into little pieces

50g nuts, chopped roughly

250g raw beetroot, grated finely

200ml sunflower oil

3 eggs

1 tspn vanilla essence

  • Sift the sugar, flour, coco powder and baking powder into a large bowl.  Stir through the chocolate and nuts.
  • Add the sunflower oil, eggs and vanilla essence to a jug and beat together briefly.
  • Add the beetroot and oil mixture to the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.
  • Spoon into an oiled muffin tray and bake in a 180oC oven for 30 minutes.
  • Keep away from greedy, thieving pups who shouldn’t eat chocolate muffins but would and did given the opportunity.


Frozen Elixir

So I haven’t been at all well this past week.   It was one of those awful hacking, wheezing, sneezing, pounding, aching illnesses that had me seeing life in greyscale and just would not get any better.  Come day seven of it (today) I was seriously fed up and ready to apply for an upper body transplant when, suddenly, I felt better.  Not 100% better, you understand, but definitely, undeniably better.  Blue sky better, you know?

Now, this recovery could be put down to the different antibiotics the doc gave me yesterday.  It could be attributed to all the rest and relaxation I’ve been forcing on myself.  It could even have been the healing licks and snuffles that Marco has been generously bestowing upon me that did it.  I’m sure these all did play their part but, me,  I give the lion’s share of the credit to the following granita. 

Seriously, I had this for a mid-morning snack today and within the hour not only did I start feeling perkier but I also became convinced that I could indeed get over my malady in time to mark next week’s exams, thoroughly entertain my now teenage (eek!) nieces next weekend and run the Nairn 10k the week  after. 

May give the NHS a call and let them know about this stuff… 😉

Passion Fruit and Apple Granita

(for 1)

2 passion fruit

200ml apple juice (I like the cloudy stuff)

1 teaspoon caster sugar

  • Half the passionfruit and scoop out the inside.  Add to a mini-blender along with the apple juice and sugar.  Blend for 15-20 seconds.
  • Pour the juice through a fine sieve (I used a teastrainer) into a plastic container.
  • Place in the freezer for a couple of hours, stirring every 20 minutes.

Amsterdam in Winter

I’ve been to Amsterdam four times now.  Previous vists have always been in the summer months where we’ve lazed in parks, sat on terraces and wandered the streets for hours on end.  It was always lovely but I never did fall in love with the city in the same way I did with Stockholm or Madrid or New York. 

That changed this weekend.  With temperatures well below zero, lead skies and a biting, northerly wind, we spent much of our time in cafes and pubs and restaurants drinking strong coffees and dainty beers, eating bitterballen and waffles and chinese food, looking out the window at the passing bikes and city dogs, and blethering away happily with each other and the exceptionally friendly locals. 

It was the perfect way to soak up the city. 

Took very few photographs, I must say.  The light was too flat for Amsterdam to show her best face and I wasn’t at all keen on taking my gloves off even for a few moments!  Here’s a little taster of my weekend though:



Crispy, Crunchy Onion Rings


I don’t deep-fry things very often.  This is partly because if I did I’d likely be very fat but mostly because vats of hot oil scare me.  Quite a lot.

When I was a kid, everyone on our street had a deep fat fryer but now I can’t think of a house I know that does.  No bad thing, I know, but I did used to love my mum’s home-made chips.  Especially on a Friday with fish in breadcrumbs.  Ooooh, and those chubby marrowfat peas.  Wonder if I could persuade my Mum to make that for me next time I visit…  And serve it with a cup of tea…

Anyhoo, my original point was hot oil is scary but these onion rings are wonderful.  Try them.  But do take care!

Onion Rings

Onions, sliced into rings

1 bowl plain flour

1 bowl of half buttermilk, half milk

1 bowl of 2 parts plain flour, 1 part cornflour, 1 part pinwheel oatmeal with a teaspoon of baking powder and seasoning added.

Ground nut oil

  • If you don’t want really oniony onion rings, soak the rings of onion in water for an hour in the fridge.  Pat dry.
  • Pour the oil into a large pan and place on a medium-high  heat until approx, 160 oC (when a bit of bread sizzles when dropped in).
  • Coat the onion in flour then the buttermilk mixture then the seasoned flour mix and drop into the oil.  Do NOT crowd the pan!!  Cook for a few minutes until golden.
  • Place cooked rings in a warm oven while you make the rest.
  • Eat a.s.a.p.

P.S. Off to Amsterdam for a long weekend.  Back with pics next week.

P.P.S. My apologies for being so crap at replying to comments these past few months.  Life’s a bit crazy at the moment.  Appreciate hearing from you all though.  Always makes me smile.  🙂

Polenta al Forno

I’ve made this successfully with home-made and with pre-made polenta before.  The former was unsurprisingly the best but I certainly wouldn’t turn my nose up at the latter on a cold, wet February day.

Polenta al Forno

(serves 2 with salad)

200g home-made or pre-made set polenta, cut into 1 cm thick slices or circles

300g spinach

1 clove of garlic, crushed

200ml passata or home-made tomato sauce

Handful grated mozzarella

Handful grated parmesan


  • Wash the spinach then add (wet) to a hot pan.  Cover and shake over the heat until the spinach has completely wilted.  Drain and squeeze all of the moisture out of the spinach.  Chop roughly.
  • Add a drizzle of olive oil or butter to the hot pan along with the garlic and chopped spinach.  Cook over a med-high heat for a minute or so to cook through the garlic and dry out the spinach thoroughly.  Remove from the heat.
  • In a shallow oven proof dish, add a layer of polenta followed by the spinach then the tomato sauce and the mozzarella.  Add one more layer of polenta and top with the parmesan and a sprinkling of pepper.
  • Bake in a 190 oC oven for 40 minutes until golden and bubbling.