Thursday, 26 November 2015


I'll admit that the title is a tad dramatic, but let's roll with it :p
I got the idea for this cake when my sister told me that she wanted a popcorn-themed cake for her birthday this year - kinda like the tie-dye cake with popcorn frosting I made for my mum back in April. As I'm not a big fan of making the same things twice, I decided to create a variation and reverse the structure, which led to this popcorn-filled cake.

To recreate this cake, you'll need to start with three basic sponge cakes, and you can feel free to use any gel food colouring in the batter to make the inside more eye-catching. I already have a recipe for sponge cake, so simply quadruple the quantities.

I also used ready-roll fondant icing to cover the cake, and this can be found at supermarkets/online, or you can try making your own from scratch by following a reliable recipe.

You can also use shop-bought popcorn, but I like making it fresh. Follow my tips from this recipe for making perfect popcorn every time. Sprinkle some icing sugar over the popcorn for sweetness.

To achieve the gold sheen, I used a gold edible lustre spray like the one below (available on Amazon):

You'll need:
- 3 sponge cakes (click for full recipe)
- gel food colouring (optional)
- popcorn (sprinkled with icing sugar for a sweet finish)
- chocolate ganache (200g dark chocolate; 200g cocoa powder; 1-2 cups almond milk)
- 2 packs of fondant icing
- piping bag

1. Trim and level your three sponge cakes, making sure they are all the same size.

2. Take one of the sponges and cut a hole in the middle of it, using a small bowl as a guideline to trace around.

3. Place one of the full sponges on a cake board, spreading a little chocolate ganache on the bottom to help it stick in place. Place the second sponge layer on top - the one with the hole in the middle - making sure it aligns well. Spread some chocolate ganache between layers if you wish.

4. Fill the empty space with a generous helping of sweet popcorn. Then place the final layer on top. If necessary, use a serrated knife to trim around the cake to get an even surface all the way around.

5. Cover the entire cake with the rest of the chocolate ganache.

6. Roll out your fondant icing on a surface dusted with some icing sugar. Lay it carefully over the cake and smooth around the edges. Trim off any excess and use to create any additional design you'd like - I went for a simple leaf pattern all the way around. Spray the entire cake with the edible gold sheen and allow to dry completely before adding any final touches such as a ribbon or piped lettering/designs.

Wednesday, 25 November 2015


It doesn't hurt to have a basic vanilla sponge recipe under your belt. It's a useful starting point for any type of celebration cake you might wish to make, or for packing in other flavours (e.g. lemon, mixed spice, coconut etc.). The essential thing is to have a fluffy, light texture and a decent rise. No one wants to chew on a dense sponge. This recipe I'm sharing is foolproof, and turns out great every time. It's egg-free, dairy-free and will leave your tasters wondering just how you achieved it.

- 250g self-raising flour
- 150g caster sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
- 100ml sunflower oil
- 200ml almond milk
- 2 tbsp vanilla 

Sift the self-raising flour into a large mixing bowl. Mix in the caster sugar, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda.

In a separate bowl/jug, add all the wet ingredients - sunflower oil, almond milk and vanilla and whisk together with a fork.

Pour the wet ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and fold gently with a spatula until you have a smooth batter. Be careful not to over mix or you risk knocking all the air out (which you need to make the cake nice and fluffy).

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 5, for 25 mins, or until a knife/skewer comes out clean. Avoid opening the oven mid-way through cooking or the cake will collapse!

Thursday, 19 November 2015



Hope everyone's having a great month so far. Mine has been absolutely packed. Between work and trying to write a novel in a month (because life isn't hard enough...), I haven't had much time to play around in my food lab.

Thankfully, I received some products to try out from a company called Dee's Wholefoods, which gave me the opportunity to have a little fun and come up with this recipe.

What I like the most about Dee's products is the fact that everything is made using natural, wholefood ingredients - many of them organic - and each one promises to be low in salt, sugar and fat, high in fibre and protein, and gluten-free. Each bite feels guilt-free, and there's no better feeling than that.

The Quinoa Pot with Thai Spiced Vegetables was my favourite to try. It was warming, tasty, creamy and convenient to prepare (only 4 minutes in the microwave, which, after a long day, is music to my ears). The portion size is wonderfully generous and it made a filling dinner on its own. There are more flavours in the range which I look forward to trying out soon, including Quinoa with Moroccan Spiced Vegetables, and Quinoa with Hot Mexican Peppers

I also got to try the Roast Garlic & Mushroom Sausages, which are featured in today's recipe. I lightly fried them in some coconut oil, but found that it stuck to the pan too easily and so I would recommend baking or grilling (which is actually what Dee's recommends for the best results). Rather than go for the typical mashed potato and sausage combo, I decided to make a herby sweet potato, aubergine (a.k.a. garden egg; a.k.a. eggplant), and green bean mash. This, along with the sausages, was topped with a rich yellow pepper relish. Because Dee's sausages are low in salt and are delicately spiced, I feel as though they make a good base for more intense flavours on the plate, which is where the relish comes in. I am keen to try the other sausages in the range, and I would recommend them to anyone who is after a healthy, soy-free alternative to what's already out there!

To find out more about Dee's Wholefoods and where you can get their products, visit their website and follow them on social media @deeswholefoods! :)

Recipe time...

- Dee's vegan sausages
- 1 sweet potato
- 1/2 aubergine
- handful green beans
- fresh parsley (finely chopped)
- fresh basil (finely chopped)
- fresh dill (finely chopped)
- fresh thyme
- salt to taste
- 1 yellow pepper (de-seeded and roughly chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (peeled and roughly chopped)
- 1/2 red onion (roughly chopped)
- coconut oil
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- salt and pepper to taste

To make the relish, place the yellow pepper, garlic cloves and red onion on a lined baking tray. Coat with a little coconut oil, sprinkle with dried thyme, salt and pepper. Bake in the oven for 15-20 mins, gas mark 6, or until all the veg is cooked and soft. Take out of the oven and place all the ingredients in a food processor. Blend until you have a thick purée consistency.

To make the herby mash, place the sweet potatoes, aubergine and green beans in a pot of boiling, lightly salted water and cook until the vegetables are tender. Blend in a food processor until you have a nice mash. Place in a bowl and stir in all the chopped fresh herbs. Season to taste.

To make Dee's sausages, follow the instructions on the pack. As I mentioned earlier, grilling or baking will give you the best results.

Assemble your plate: start with a bed of mash, then place the sausages on top and serve with a generous helping of the yellow pepper relish. Garnish with some fresh parsley.

Enjoy! :)

Note: This review has been organised by the Vegan lifestyle Association. It has not been paid for and the products were sent free of charge. This is my unbiased review of the product.

Monday, 2 November 2015


You've been warned. If you're after a classic ratatouille recipe then Google has done you wrong and you need to go ahead and hit that back button on your browser. Otherwise, if you're here intentionally or if I've remotely piqued your interest, then stick around for my Nigerian interpretation of this well-known French Provençal dish.
My co-worker and I were recently discussing how much we love the Disney Pixar movie 'Ratatouille', which is about a rat with some mad cooking skills. It's got the perfect blend of humour, sentiment and drop-dead gorgeous animations of food (and Paris...but mostly food). If you haven't seen it yet, stop everything you're doing and go watch it! Or watch Remy the rat in action in the short clip below:

My coworker and I plan to recreate the traditional version at work one of these days, but I couldn't resist putting my spin on it first. 

If you follow me on Facebook and Twitter, you'll know that I'm tackling NaNoWriMo again this year and making this dish provided a much needed break from the novel I'm working on. Not to mention that cooking never fails to inspire me and aid my thinking process.

Hope you have as much fun making this as I did. And don't forget to leave me a comment if you like what you see :)

(serves 2)
- 1 small, narrow sweet potato (peeled; thinly sliced)
- 1 plantain (thinly sliced)
- 1-2 small tomatoes (thinly sliced)
- 1 small red onion (thinly sliced)

For the red sauce:
- 2 tomatoes (chopped)
- 1 red bell pepper 
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- 1/2 small red onion (finely chopped)
- dried thyme
- curry powder
- salt to taste

Blanch the sweet potato slices in a pot of boiling hot water for 5 minutes. Drain and set aside with the rest of your thinly sliced vegetables.

To make the red sauce, blend the tomatoes, red bell pepper and garlic until you have a thick, chunky sauce consistency.

Heat some olive oil in a saucepan and add the red sauce, chopped red onion, tomato paste and a generous pinch of dried thyme and curry powder. Season to taste. Simmer uncovered for 5 minutes.

Grab a small oven dish and spread about 3/4 of the red sauce over the base. Arrange the vegetable slices in an alternating and overlapping pattern all the way around the dish, working your way around the edge and into the centre. Take the remaining red sauce and spoon that over the top of the vegetables.

Cut out greaseproof paper to match the shape and circumference of your oven dish and use it to cover the entire arrangement.

Bake in a pre-heated oven, gas mark 6, for 25 minutes until everything is cooked and tender. Peel off the greaseproof paper and bake for a further 5 minutes just to add some colour to the top.

Serve on its own with sauce drizzled around the plate and extra thyme to garnish, or serve with a few slices of wholegrain bread.


Thursday, 29 October 2015


Earlier this month, I was invited to the exclusive blogger launch for the new, hotly anticipated range of vegan products by leading meat-free company, Quorn.

The event took place at The Ampersand Hotel in South Kensington on Thursday 15th October. As soon as I arrived, I was greeted by the Quorn representatives and offered a drink, along with a selection of mouth-watering vegan canapés. Aside from the great opportunity I had to try the new vegan range that evening, the event was also wonderful for connecting with other bloggers based in and around London - something I have mostly failed to do since my move to the city one year ago.
The atmosphere was laid-back and informal, and I had some really interesting conversations about veganism, food and blogging in general. 

After the drinks reception, a presentation was given by Jen Shepherd, Digital and PR rep for Quorn Foods. It was highly informative and I found myself learning a lot about the origins of the company, as well as the reasoning behind their decision to launch a range of vegan products (which has been 3 years in the making). 

The Vegan Society estimates that there are around 300,000 vegans in the UK - a diverse group who follow the lifestyle for a number of ethical, health and environmental reasons.  Following growing demand for vegan alternatives across digital channels (and a total of four petitions!), Quorn decided to develop the Quorn Vegan Range, offering consumers two exciting 100% vegan products. The first is the Quorn Hot & Spicy Burger, which will be available at Asda and Waitrose from October 2015. The second, also available at Asda, is Quorn Vegan Chicken-Style Pieces. Both products have a recommended retail price of £2.49, which sounds pretty reasonable to me.

The presentation was followed by the opportunity to sample both products, which had been cooked up into delicious meals by the chefs at Quorn. My absolute favourite of the night was the hot & spicy chicken-style burger, which had a fantastic texture and my seal of approval on the level of spice. The Mediterranean socca (flat-bread 'pizza' with tomatoes and olives) was also a highlight. I was less sure of the stir-fry and did find the texture slightly too crumbly. However, as far as meat-free alternatives go, Quorn has certainly developed a strong product that rivals what is already out there in the market. Compared to another brand of chicken-style pieces that I have tried in the past, Quorn gets my top vote.

I am looking forward to seeing the range expand to other leading retailers in upcoming months. Although I tend to shy away from using meat alternatives in my regular day-to-day cooking, I am excited to test out the stack of recipes they were kind enough to send me. 

If you would like to find out more about the products, be sure to check out

Photo credit: Tomas Preston of Preston Perfect Photography (
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