Recipes I Use Regularly


8oz/225g SR Flour
pinch of salt
2oz/50g butter/margarine
1oz/25g caster sugar

Simply rub in the butter/margarine into the flour/salt until it looks like breadcrumbs and then stir in the sugar.  Pour in enough milk/buttermilk or similar to make it into a reasonably firm dough and either roll out briefly or just pat into shape. 

A way of making this even cheaper is to add a tablespoon of dried milk powder to the dry mix and then you can make your scones up with water instead of milk.

The less you handle this mix the better your scones will rise.  Never twist your cutters if using them to make round scones or that will make them rise unevenly. When I'm in a rush I simply make it into a large circle with my hands and then cut this into four.

Brush with milk, taking care not to drip down the sides of the scones, then put on a greased baking tray and cook for 10-12 minutes in a hot oven.

This mix can also be used as a crumble topping, add a little more brown sugar and some oats for added flavour and pour on top of your chosen fruit in an ovenproof dish and bake until it is all piping hot and nicely browned.  

You can also use your scone mix to make a quick pizza base or cut into small scones and use in place of dumpling in a stew or casserole.

Basic Chutney

1½ kg fruit and/or vegetables 
1½ kg onions, peeled and chopped
500g sultanas, seedless raisins or similar
600ml malt vinegar
700g brown sugar
Herbs,spices and salt to taste.

Chop all the veggies and fruits to about the same size, then put everything in a large pan and bring very slowly to the boil. Let it bubble away for a few minutes and then reduce to a gentle simmer for as long as it takes for it to thicken nicely, this could be anything up to two hours.   

You should be able to see the bottom of the pan if you draw your spoon through the pan when it's ready to put into the jars.

Make sure you use sterilised jars with non-metallic lids, the metal ones with the plasticised interior are ideal. Chutneys are best eaten after a month or so, this gives the flavours chance to develop properly, in fact I've always found the older the chutney the richer and tastier it is. 

Once jars are opened they should be stored in the fridge.

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam

1 kg Rhubarb
1kg Sugar
50g preserved Ginger drained and finely chopped
(I didn't have any so used 50g grated ginger straight from the freezer)
Juice of 1 Lemon (I used 1 tbs of bottled lemon)

Makes 4 Jars
(I doubled up on all the quantities to get 8)

Wash the rhubarb then cut it into 1" pieces.  Put in a large bowl and toss with the sugar.  Cover with a clean teatowel and leave overnight.

Next day pour the rhubarb mix into a large pan, add the ginger and the lemon juice.

Bring slowly to the boil, stirring occasionally until all the sugar has dissolved.

Boil rapidly for about 30 minutes before testing for a set.  Keep checking every five minutes until your jam has reached setting point.

Remove from the heat, skim off any scum and allow to cool briefly.

Carefully pour the jam into hot, sterilised jars.  Seal with lids, invert briefly to sterilise the lids and give a good vacuum seal, and then allow to cool before labelling and storing in a cool dark place.

(Adapted from 'Book of Preserves' from the Women's Institute, written by Carol Tennant) 

*** *** *** *** ***

Green Basil Pesto

A recipe to be played with :-)

My Basic Recipe

25g Basil
1 clove of Garlic
25g Pine Nuts
25g Parmesan Cheese
2 tbs Olive Oil
half a tsp of salt

Simply blitz all these together in a food processor and there you have it a lovely bowl of Green Pesto.   

You can swap and change your ingredients ....  instead of Basil you could use Beetroot, Spinach, Radish or Nettle leaves or a mix of all of them, you can also add other herbs.  

Add as much Garlic as you like, I used to like a little, now I like a LOT!!

For the nuts you can use Pine, Cashew, Almonds, Brazils etc or again a mix of whatever you have or fancy using at the time.  Instead of Parmesan cheese you can use any hard cheese, cheddar, cheshire, Red Leicester etc or yet again ... a mix of any of them.  

Add enough of your favourite Oil to get it to a consistency YOU like.

You can double, treble or quadruple these amounts and make enough for a jar and some to pop into the freezer.  Fill an ice cube tray and freeze, once frozen pop out into a freezer bag or box for long term storage.

Pesto is brilliant added to pasta dishes, quiches or used for a pasta bake  (see below)

*** *** ***

Pesto Pasta Al Forno

Pasta Shapes
Spinach or Broccoli
A Jar of rich Tomato Pasta Sauce
Goats Cheese
Green Pesto
Grated Parmesan

Cook enough pasta for 2 people in boiling water, steam some broccoli or wilt some spinach above the pasta pan, when these are cooked drain the pasta and tip the veggies in, stir through some rich tomato based pasta sauce, tip it all into an oven proof dish and dot with slices of goats cheese and dollops of your lovely fresh Pesto.  Add a sprinkle of Parmesan, saving some for when you serve it up.

*** *** *** 

Homemade Cleaning Spray

2 fl oz Washing Up Liquid
4 fl oz bottled Lemon Juice
8 fl oz White Vinegar
10fl oz Water

Mix together in a jug and then pour into a spray bottle.

*** *** *** 

Elderflower Cordial

20 heads of Elderflower, (shaken to remove insects but not washed)
1.8kg granulated or caster Sugar
1.2 litres of Water
2 unwaxed Lemons
75g Citric Acid

Put the sugar in a pan with the water and bring up to the boil, stirring occasionally until it has all dissolved.

While it is dissolving pare the zest off the lemons in wide strips and toss into a large bowl with the elderflowers.  
Slice the lemons and add to the bowl (discard the ends).
Pour over the boiling syrup and then stir in the citric acid.
Cover with a cloth and leave at room temperature for 24 hours.

Next day, strain the cordial (I did it first through a colander to catch all the big bits and then through a sieve lined with muslin), then simply pour into clean glass or plastic bottles. 

If you have used citric acid you can now store the bottles in a cupboard, or if  you haven't,  then just store them in the fridge.  Another way to keep it for longer is to freeze it.  Washed out plastic milk bottles or cartons are ideal for this, remember to leave some room for expansion as it freezes.

Drink your elderflower cordial well diluted with either sparkling or still water, and lots and lots of ice, preferably on a lovely hot sunny day.

*** *** *** 

Green (or Red) Tomato Chutney

750 g Onions
1.5kg Tomatoes, chopped
6 Garlic cloves, sliced finely
2 Red Chillies, finely chopped
4cm piece of Ginger, peeled and chopped
400g Brown Sugar
225mls Red Wine Vinegar
1tsp Paprika

Tip all the ingredients into a jam pan or similar and bring to a gentle simmer, leave simmering away for one to one and a half hours stirring occasionally.  Then bring to a gentle boil so the mix turns darker, shinier and thicker, then ladle into sterilised jars and cover when cool.

*** *** *** 


A couple of thick slices of  Homemade Bread (or a bought unsliced loaf) stale bread is best.

 A glug of Olive Oil

A 2" squeeze of garlic Paste (or a couple of finely chopped cloves
Or any other flavourings you may fancy such as -



Chilli Flakes



If you want more 'rustic' style croutons rip rather than cut the bread into pieces.

Simply mix the garlic into the oil in a bowl and toss in the cubed bread, leave to sit for 10 minutes then spread on a baking sheet and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes, longer if you want them very crispy, but it's nice to be able to stab them with a fork if you are tossing them in a salad. 

If you cook them until they are very crispy they will keep for up to a week in an airtight tin, if you can resist them for that long!

We find it turns a salad or a bowl of soup into a more substantial meal and you can vary the oil you use to play around with flavours even more. 

 It's a brilliant way to use up stale bread too.

(If you have some bread that is a bit stale but don't need any croutons at the moment, simply cube the bread and then open freeze, once frozen tip into a lidded container or freezer bag and then when you do need croutons defrost (this will only take 5-10 minutes) and carry on with the recipe, it will freeze much better as plain bread than ready made oiled and flavoured croutons.

*** *** *** 

My Homemade Bread

500g Flour
1.5 tsp Salt
1tsp Sugar
7g Dried Yeast
15 mls oil
300 mls warm water

Greased and floured tins/trays

Makes 1 2lb loaf or 6-9 bread rolls or 4 pizza bases

(If your yeast is very fresh (ie. in date) add an extra 50g of flour and you will get an additional Focaccia or more rolls or a pizza base.)

Place all the dry ingredients in your mixer with the beater attachment and set to run on slow, pour in the oil and water in a steady stream at the same time. Leave the machine to knead the resulting dough for 5 minutes - time it the first time, it's longer than you think.

You can of course do all this mixing and kneading by hand if you do not have a machine.  Mix the liquids in at the same time as stirring with a knife and then get stuck in with your hands and tip the dough onto a floured board for a really good kneading.

Once your machine has kneaded the bread tip it onto a floured surface and give a brief hand kneading, pop back in the bowl and cover with clingfilm (or a shower cap) and a clean tea towel. 

Leave in a warm place to prove (double in size).

When doubled in size knock back and give a brief knead, divide into the shapes you want and leave on/in the tins you will be baking it on to rise again.

Once ready brush with milk or egg wash (beaten egg with a dash of water) slash the top and sprinkle any seeds or oats you fancy on the top.  Put in a hot oven 220/Gas 7 for about ten minutes and then reduce the temperature to 200/Gas 6 for another 20.

Check your loaf at this time, if it sounds hollow when tipped from the tin it is done.

I usually pop it on a baking sheet for 2 or 3 minutes for the bottom to cook slightly while it's out of the tin.

Try not to eat it all while it's still warm - this is the hardest instruction of them all :-)

*** *** *** 


1 Whole Egg

half teaspoon of salt
half teaspoon of dry mustard
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

250 mls of Light Olive Oil

Put ALL ingredients into a jug.

Whizz with a stick blender for 10 seconds.

Put into a nice clean jar.


*** *** *** 

  Shortbread Biscuits

200g Plain Flour

200g Softened Butter

50g Golden Caster Sugar

(I didn't have this so I used 30g ordinary Caster and 20g Vanilla Sugar)


Whizz flour and butter in your food processor add the sugar and whizz a bit more.

Press into lined 22cm tart tin with the back of a spoon (takes a bit of doing, it's a sticky mix, but persevere)

Bake for 25- 30 mins until golden brown.

While still warm cut into wedges, prick with a fork and dust with more sugar.

Leave to cool completely in the tin.

(Recipe taken from Olive magazine March edition)

*** *** *** 

 Mum's Lettuce and Courgette Soup

1oz butter plus a small amount of olive oil
8 fresh large outside dark Lettuce leave roughly chopped
1 small or half a large Courgette
1 medium Onion, cut into small chunks
1 chicken or veggie stock cube with a 1/2 a pint of hot water
1 level tsp turmeric
1 clove of garlic
salt and pepper
2 large spoonfuls of yoghurt to stir in at the end

Soften the Onion, Lettuce and Courgette in the oil and butter for 5 minutes, do not let it brown.  Then stir in the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.

Blitz with your blender.

Serve in two bowls with a swirl of yoghurt.

*** *** *** 


Damson Gin

450g Damsons
170g Sugar
750ml Gin

If your Damsons are freshly picked, prick each one a couple of times with a pin, (if you freeze them for about 2 weeks first you can omit this stage, just thaw them out overnight before you use them, this will weaken the skins nicely for you).  Put all the ingredients into a large container, and shake or stir each day for about 2 weeks. 

 Leave steeping for about 4 - 6 weeks and then taste, add more sugar if you  want it sweeter and leave for another week.  Strain into sterilised bottles and store in a dark, cool place until you want to drink it.
The longer you leave this gorgeous mixture the stronger and better the flavour.  It makes wonderful Christmas gifts and now would be the time to start making it for then, so the flavours have lots of time to mature.

Do not throw away the strained Damsons.

Use them to make Damson Gin Jam.

Use your favourite jam recipe, but basically I squeeze the stone out of each one (easy to do if they've been soaking in Gin for a few weeks), then place them in a pan with an equal amount in weight of sugar and a dash of lemon juice, boil until you reach setting point  and then bottle in sterilised jars. 

Remember Damsons give you a good firm set if used in their entirety, if you don't want the skins in your jam, you can make a jelly by covering the Damson with water, bringing to the boil and then simmering for half an hour.  Give them a good mash and then leave them to strain through muslin overnight. Match the weight of the liquid with the weight of sugar and boil up together.  This will give you Damson Gin Jelly, which has a slightly more liquidy set, we love it drizzled over ice cream.

If you have pigs .... do not throw away the boozy damson stones they LOVE them and yes, they do get tipsy and snore the night away  ;-)

*** *** *** 

Tomato Dahl
Bay Leaf
2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp Turmeric and Coriander / or 2 tsp Curry Powder
1 tin Tomatoes
200g Red Lentils
Fry the spices in oil, then add tomatoes. 
Reduce for 10 minutes then add the lentils and 800mls water.
Simmer for 30 minutes

*** *** ***

250g any Flour
1tbs Oil
1 tsp Salt 150ml Water

Mix to a dough, knead for 5 minutes, add more water or flour if needed.
Cut into 8 pieces, roll out and dry fry in a hot frying pan.
Keep them warm in a tea towel until they are all ready.

*** *** ***


  1. Hi Sue, how long do you think the mayo would last in the fridge? I love the idea of making my own. Thanks for the ideas!

    1. I've had a jar in the fridge for up to two weeks and it's been fine. It's never lasted longer than that as it's very tasty, so I can't really say if it would last longer or not :-)

    2. Thanks, two weeks would be plenty, I'll give it a try this week.

  2. Hi Sue, I really fancy making the damson gin as my nan used to make it years ago. When in the season are damsons available? X

    1. They're in season in this country late Summer, early Autumn 😊

  3. I would like to try making your recipe for elderflower cordial. My bushes finally have enough flower this year for the first time. I don't have citric acid and from what I gleaned from your comments at the bottom of the recipe, it seems it is not essential. Thanks!
    A question: I read that you are a "vegan," but some of your recipes use eggs, Parmesan, or yogurt. My husband and I became "plant based" eaters a year and a half ago for health reasons. He had high blood pressure and high cholesterol and nearly had a big heart attack. The lada (left anterior descending artery) was 95 percent blocked. Luckily, he went to the doctor, who sent him directly to emergency and a stent was installed the next day. Anyway, do you still eat eggs, etc? I sometimes
    "cheat" and have an egg since we have chickens and I don't have heart disease or high cholesterol. Lucky me. But....99 percent of what we eat is NO ANIMAL PRODUCTS AT ALL. I am totally convinced that it's best for us, everybody, and THE WORLD.

  4. Yes, you can make elderflower cordial without the citric acid 😊

    I have only been vegan/plant based since January of this year so a lot of my older recipes do list eggs, butter, yogurt etc. Obviously I now swap these out for vegan versions. When I was vegetarian I used vegetarian hard cheese in place of Parmesan, which is never vegetarian friendly, now I use the Violife parmesan equivalent. 😊


Comments are now turned off for this old blog of mine. Thank you for reading the posts, I hope you enjoyed them. xx

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.