Sunday, 18 October 2020

Apple Cake

Apple Cake
Apple Cake

  • 115g cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 225g self raising flour
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon 
  • 115g golden caster sugar
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 10 tbsp milk
  • 2 large Bradley cooking apples, peeled, cored and diced
  • Large handful of sultanas
  • 2 tbsp Demerara sugar

Pre heat the oven to 180c/160c fan. 
Butter and line a 20cm deep cake tin with baking paper.  Mix the flour and cinnamon together in a large bowl, add the butter and rub into the mix using your fingers until you have fine breadcrumbs.  Stir in the caster sugar and the beaten egg followed by the milk, add it gradually until you have a smooth, thick batter (add more milk if needed).
Add the apples and sultanas and mix to combine. Scrape the mixture into the prepared tin and gently level out. Sprinkle over the demerara sugar and bake for 30-40 mins or until golden and a skewer inserted into the middle comes out clean.

Allow to cool in the tin for 15 mins and then carefully turn out onto a wire rack to cool further. 

Apple Cake

The smell alone of this cake cooking will give you a good idea of how yummy it will be, eaten slightly warm with some custard or ice cream and you will be wondering why you didn’t make this sooner!

Sunday, 27 September 2020

The Pod Street Food Review


The Pod Street Food Maidenbower, Crawley
The Pod Street Food in Maidenbower, Crawley

Chef Dave Blunt from Centre Catering has introduced The Pod to the streets of Crawley.  The Pod launched six weeks ago and has been a resounding hit in Crawley Down and Forge Wood,  and today The Pod came to Maidenbower and already the orders are coming in thick and fast for tonight’s service. 

 We were lucky enough to pop along ahead of service for a chat with Dave and to check out The Pod and then to sample his tasty burgers!

The Pod Street Food in Maidenbower, Crawley

On the menu tonight we tried The Veggie Beast, The BBQ Brisket Burger, Maple Smoked Pulled Pork Burger, skinny fries, ranch slaw followed by a slice of Biscoff Millionaires. All the burgers are served in a nice light brioche bun.

The Pod Veggie Burger
The Pod Veggie Burger
The Pod Veggie Beast

The Veggie Beast is a homemade chickpea, chilli and ginger burger, topped with cheese, ranch slaw and pickles.  As a meat eater I wouldn’t usually opt for a veggie option but I have to say this was pretty darn tasty, with a nice bit of gentle heat from the chilli and ginger. It was really fresh tasting, something I would definitely order again. I do however like a bit of bite so perhaps something with a bit of crunch to the texture would enhance it a bit, but that’s just my personal preference.

The Pod BBQ Brisket Burger
The Pod BBQ Brisket Burger
The Pod BBQ Brisket Burger

Next up was the BBQ Brisket Burger, a 6oz steak patty made by Dave’s fair hands, topped with cheese, hickory smoked brisket, ranch slaw and pickles.  A really nice juicy burger topped with tasty brisket, this definitely had the bite and went down well, a big hit with us all.  

The Pod Maple Smoked Pulled Pork Burger
The Pod Maple Smoked Pulled Pork Burger
The Pod Maple Smoked Pulled Pork Burger

Last but not least on this burger fest was The Maple Smoked Pulled Pork Burger, this was my favourite, you could really taste the maple, it infused the burger which again was a 6oz steak patty topped with smoked pork blade, cheese and homemade ranch slaw and pickles.  

The Pod Ranch Slaw
The Pod Ranch Slaw

Nice crunchy fries and fresh ranch slaw set off each of the burgers, I have yet to taste the Scotch Bonnet Burger but this leaves me something to look forward to on my next visit.

The Pod Biscoff Millionaires Dessert
The Pod Biscoff Millionaires Dessert

Dessert was a stroke of genius, Biscoff Millionaires slice, I love the biscuits so was looking forward to this, nice layer of chocolate, gooey caramel centre and a crumbly biscuit base, this topped off our meal nicely.

The chefs at The Pod
The chefs at The Pod

Other than the brioche buns everything is homemade and you can certainly taste it, fresh and tasty, just what the folk of Maidenbower have been waiting for, I have no doubt The Pod will be a huge hit with the residents.

The Pod Street Food  Maidenbower Crawley
The Pod Street Food at  Maidenbower, Crawley

The Pod is at Forge Wood on Thursday, Crawley Down on Friday and Maidenbower Square on Saturday between 5pm-8:30pm.  You can either grab and go or order ahead on 07395 101 201, check them out on Facebook and Instagram for their latest specials and locations.

The Pod Street Food

Remember to support local and pay Dave and his team a visit at one of the above venues, you won’t be disappointed, the meal deals are great value for money, especially the family pack, any 4 burgers, 4 sides and 4 drinks for £30, you can also add 4 cheeky desserts for an additional £5, what’s not to love!

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Gnocchi Bolognese Bake


Gnocchi Bolognese Bake

  • 500g minced beef
  • 600g potato gnocchi
  • 200g grated mozzarella
  • 200g diced lardons
  • Handful of small mozzarella balls (optional)
  • 3 garlic cloves,  minced
  • 400g Tom chopped tomatoes
  • 2-3 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Few glugs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp tomato purée
  • Salt and pepper
  • Handful of basil, thinly sliced
  • Olive oil

Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large pan, add the lardons and fry until browned, add the garlic and fry for another minute or so (do not let it burn) then add the minced beef, break up the mince with a spoon and keep stirring until browned (if you don’t break up the mice you will get clumps!).  Once the meat is browned, drain off any excess fat then add your Italian seasoning, Worcestershire sauce, tomato purée and a good pinch of salt and a few grinds of fresh black pepper, stir through and then add your chopped tomatoes, add some water to the can and swirl round and tip into the pan just to make sure you get it all and to add an extra amount of liquid as you don’t want the sauce to be too dry, stir through and leave to simmer for at least 30 minutes (longer if you have the time). 

Once your Bolognese is made, bring another pan of salted water to the boil and cook the gnocchi according to packet instructions, this is usually 4 minutes.  Drain the gnocchi and tip into a large oven proof dish, add the Bolognese and the basil and stir until the gnocchi is evenly coated, top with the grated mozzarella and the mozzarella balls (if you like it really cheesy) and place into a preheated oven (180 degrees) and cook until the cheese is nicely melted and gooey. 

If you haven’t tried potato gnocchi before you will be in for a surprise, they are not heavy, in fact they are quite light and fluffy so this isn’t a stodgy dish.  You will generally find gnocchi with the fresh pasta in the supermarket.  You will get at least 6 good sized portions from this recipe, any that you don’t eat will keep in the fridge for a couple of days or alternatively freeze any leftovers.

This is a good cost effective recipe which will provide several meals depending on how many you are cooking for, you can pep up the flavour with some chilli flakes or add mushrooms or any other ingredients you may put into your Bolognese.  If pushed for time or on more of a budget you could simply add a jar of ready made sauce to the gnocchi. 

Mark’s top tip:  As basil can bruise very easily and go a bit discoloured looking, always chop it just before using in order to keep that vibrant green colour.  Place the basil leaves on top of each other, roll up into a small cigarette shape and thinly slice from the end using a sharp knife.

Monday, 31 August 2020

Kitchen Royale - Punjabi Perfection on your doorstep

 Having seen a number of  Facebook posts recently from Kitchen Royale (based in Crawley, West Sussex), I decided to give them a go as the photographs I had seen of the dishes looked pretty good.  They say they want to break the myth about Indian Punjabi Cuisine being unhealthy, well I can say, this was Punjabi perfection delivered to our door. 

I am all for supporting local businesses and I can genuinely say we weren’t disappointed.  I messaged our order through the day before, giving our delivery time and what we wanted and hey presto, Saturday evening it was delivered on schedule.

Kitchen Royale Poppadums

We opted for:

  • Punjabi onion pakora
  • Special Punjabi Aloo (peppers and potatoes)
  • Jeera rice (basmati rice cooked with cumin)
  • Plain naan and chilli naan,
  • Chicken tikka masala
  • Punjabi chicken curry
  • Shahi Pork kofta curry (lean pork mince meatballs slow cooked in a spicy traditional Punjabi gravy) 
  • Punjabi mutton sheek kebab
  • Poppadums and complimentary dips

Kitchen Royale Traditional Punjabi Cuisine

All dishes were fresh and packed full of flavour, good portion sizes and very good value for money, no delivery charge as well (within 2 mile radius of RH11).  I can’t fault any of the dishes or the service received, the only little comment I would make (as I do like my chilli) is that I would prefer a bit more chilli on the chilli naan, but that is just a personal preference.  

The complimentary dips with the poppadums were very tasty, mint, yoghurt, tamarind and chilli, a perfect accompaniment to the crispy goodness.

Kitchen Royale Traditional Punjabi Cuisine

Given the current climate it’s great to see a small local business getting out there with authentic, tasty cuisine.  Keep up the great work Kitchen Royale, support local, give them a go, I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Place your orders up to 2pm on the day of delivery as everything is cooked fresh and to order.  

  • Tel no: 07782943372
  • Email: 
  • Or message them on their Facebook page
Kitchen Royale

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

Crispy chilli beef tacos


Crispy chilli beef tacos
Crispy chilli beef tacos

  • 500g mincemeat
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 400g tin of kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp chipotle chilli flakes
  • 2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 tbsp tomato puree
  • Good few gauges of Worcestershire sauce
  • Flour tortillas
  • Grated cheddar cheese
  • Olive oil

Add a splash of olive oil to a large pan, heat and then sauté the onions and garlic, add the mincemeat (using a spatula to break up the meat otherwise it will clump together) and brown the meat, drain off any excess fat, add the herbs, spices, tomato purée, Worcestershire sauce and a good pinch of salt and pepper, stir through then add the chopped tomatoes and leave to simmer for at least 30 minutes, add the kidney beans and simmer for a further 30 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees, cover a baking tray with some tin foil, brush some olive oil over one side of each tortilla (quantity depends on how many you are cooking for), place a tortilla onto the tray (oil side down)and spoon some of your chilli onto one half, top with some grated cheese and fold over then repeat.  Place the tray into the oven and cook until the cheese has melted and the tacos are crunchy.

This is quite a spicy chilli so adjust to suit your taste buds.  Packed full of heat and flavour, this is a real winner.  I served this with some homemade guacamole and pineapple salsa.  I find it better to make your own tacos as the shop bought ones are so small you can’t really get much filling in them!  I hope you enjoy this as much as we did, sadly a little bit too spicy for the boys!

Pineapple Salsa
Pineapple Salsa

Crispy chilli beef tacos
Crispy chilli beef tacos


Monday, 29 June 2020

Spaghetti Carbonara

Spaghetti Carbonara

  • Spaghetti (enough for 4 people)
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 200g diced pancetta or bacon lardons
  • 200ml double cream
  • 50g grated Parmesan cheese with extra for serving
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Small handful of chopped parsley

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the pasta until al dente.  Whilst the pasta is cooking, heat the oil in a small frying pan and fry the pancetta and garlic until the pancetta is slightly crispy.  In a bowl, whisk together the cream, egg yolks, cheese and a pinch of salt and a few grinds of black pepper.

Once the pasta has cooked, reserve a small amount of the cooking water, drain the pasta then return to the pan with the reserved water, stir through the pancetta and cream mixture until the spaghetti is evenly coated, you can add more cream if you want more of a creamier sauce.  
Plate up, sprinkle over some of the parsley along with some Parmesan and a few grinds of black pepper and enjoy.

I’m a huge fan of quick and tasty recipes and this one ticks those boxes.  Youngest child said they didn’t like carbonara so they had spaghetti and meatballs but when this was served they soon changed their mind and ditched the meatballs and tucked into this!  I hope you enjoy as much as we did.

Wednesday, 17 June 2020

Cinnamon Rolls

Cinnamon Rolls

  • 300g self-raising flour
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 70g butter
  • Butter, melted, plus extra for greasing
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 130ml milk, plus extra for glazing
Filling ingredients
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 55g light brown soft sugar
  • 2 tbsp caster sugar
  • 40g Butter, melted
Icing ingredients
  • 50g icing sugar
  • 3 tbsp warm water 

Heat oven to 180C/fan 160C/gas 4. Grease a 20cm loose-bottomed cake tin and line the bottom with baking parchment. Mix the flour, caster sugar and cinnamon together with a pinch of salt in a bowl. Whisk the butter, egg yolks and milk together and combine with the dry ingredients to make a soft dough. Turn out onto a floured surface and roll out to a rectangle, about 30 x 25cm.

Mix the filling ingredients together. Spread evenly over the dough then roll it up lengthways, like a Swiss roll, to form a log. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 8 even slices and place into the prepared tin. Brush with extra milk and bake for 30-35 mins or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and leave to cool for 5 mins before removing from the tin.

Sift the icing sugar into a bowl, add the water and stir until you reach a runny consistency, add more water if required.  Drizzle the icing over the rolls. Serve warm or cold.

Who doesn’t like a cinnamon roll, these are a great teatime treat to make with the kids, but you don’t need to have kids to enjoy them!  Feel free to pop a glace cherry on top of you have some to hand.

Friday, 15 May 2020

End of Week Soup

End of Week Soup

If you have any veggies that you need to use up at the end of the week, make a fresh batch of soup, blitz it up and any young ones in the household won’t even realise it’s packed full of veg!  This is how end of week soup came about.  

Add a good splash of olive oil to a large pan, heat then add the chopped veg and cook for around 10 minutes, pour in a litre of vegetable stock (or enough to cover the veg) season with salt, and pepper, tablespoon of tomato purée, good few glugs of Worcestershire sauce and let it simmer for around an hour or so until the veg has softened, blitz with a stick blender and enjoy!  

I used red onion, radishes, garlic, carrots, celery, green pepper, broccoli and a large handful of red lentils, this recipe is packed full of vitamins, minerals and fibre and will give your system a much needed boost and is a good way of getting most of your 5 a day in one hit.  You can add any herbs you may have, dry or fresh, I added a good pinch of chilli flakes for a little bit of heat.  You won’t need to add too much salt as the stock cubes contain salt so you don’t want to overdo it.  Literally you can add any veg to this soup, if it can be blitzed stick it in.  

Given how cheap it is to buy vegetables this recipe certainly won’t break the bank.  I generally find that it will make enough to make 8 servings and it will keep in the fridge for a few days or you can divide it up and freeze it.

Mark's top tip

When cutting up chillis, once you have finished, rub a small amount of olive oil into your hands, this will help dissolve the chilli, then wash thoroughly using soap and water, this will save you from any chilli burn, no more stinging eyes or worse! 

Saturday, 4 April 2020

Banana Bread

Banana Bread

  • 2 eggs
  • 125g melted unsalted butter
  • 250g self raising flour
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp runny honey
  • 50g castor sugar
  • 3 ripe bananas
  • Shot of espresso coffee

Break the bananas up and place into a food processor and blitz until broken down.  Add the remaining ingredients and blitz until everything is mixed through.

Grease a loaf tin with some olive oil then dust lightly with flour.  Preheat your oven to 180 degrees (fan assisted), leave an oven tray in there so it warms up.  Tip the loaf mixture into the tin and place into the oven on top of the tray and bake for around 40-45 minutes until cooked through (check by inserting a skewer, if it comes out clean it’s cooked).

I can’t believe how quick it was to actually make the mixture!  Obviously if the loaf is going to be eaten by children then leave out the coffee, you can add a couple of tablespoons of apple juice instead.  Whilst I didn’t have any, you can add chocolate chips or chopped nuts to the mixture to make it just that bit more indulgent.

Sunday, 8 March 2020

Bao Buns with Pork Belly

Bao Buns with Pork Belly
  • Pack of bao buns
  • Crispy chilli pork belly
  • 1/4 cucumber
  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 2 spring onions
  • Sweet chilli dipping sauce

Cook the pork belly according to packet instructions.  The pork I used was from The Juicy Meat Company, cut into handy bite sized pieces so no need to shred.  Whilst the pork is cooking, slice the cucumber and spring onions into thin strips, as the buns are not large you don’t want big chunky bits of vegetable, keep it fine. 

I found these bao buns in Marks & Spencer, a pack of 6 costs £2 and takes a minute to heat in the microwave.  Whilst at some stage I will make my own, for the price and convenience these are hard to beat.  Once the pork has cooked and you’ve warmed your buns, divide the pork between the buns, top with the radish, cucumber and spring onion, a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce and get stuck in!

I’m all for cooking from scratch but sometimes it’s nice to cheat when you don’t have the time.  The buns are little fluffy clouds of doughy goodness, the pork, which I purchased from Ocado, was packed full of flavour, not overly spicy so if you don’t like heat don’t be put off, go on, make it, trust me, you won’t be disappointed.