ArchiveSeptember 1, 2023

My Grandchildren’s Favourites

Guess what, I celebrated my 75th birthday recently, I’m ancient by many young people’s standards, but they don’t seem to realise that I only feel about 20-something. 
Florrie made me a gorgeous Praline birthday cake; my favourite and I got lots of cute little handwritten and hand-painted birthday cards from my grandchildren plus two flasks to remind me to go on more picnics. 
Scarlet‘s pressie was a little bag of homemade cookies called Brookies, a new one on me. They came all wrapped up in little parchment parcels with a sweet little blue ribbon tied into a bow on each. They were super delicious, a brown butter biscuit base topped off with a gooey brownie on top. Scarlett sweetly shared the recipe with me and the extra secret of the deep rich flavour. I’ve renamed them Scarlett Lily’s Cookies. 
So, this week, I thought I’d share some of my grandchildren’s ‘specialities’ with you. 
Zaiah, aged 12, is the Muffin Queen, and her favourite star turn is this recipe which originally came from my Grow, Cook, Nourish Book for Myrtleberry muffins, but she often makes them with frozen raspberries instead. Jasper, aged 13, loves rustling up curries and stir fries so here is his Teriyaki Chicken. 
Thus far, Jago who is 7, much prefers mathematical puzzles than cooking, but he is very partial to shortbread 2.4.6’s which he likes to stamp out into rude shapes much to the hilarity of all his six-year-old friends. 
Ottie whizzes up super smoothies several times a day and she also loves making crispy deep-fried balloons in lots of crazy shapes. A favourite recipe from her great grandmother’s children’s teas in Ballymaloe House. Betsy aged 9 tells me that scrambled eggs are her ‘masterpiece,’ Amelia aged 15 also loves to bake, and rustles up brownies at the drop of a hat. I have 11 grandchildren, all of whom love to eat and many of whom love to experiment in the kitchen. I don’t have space to share all of their recipes this week, but watch this space. 

Scarlett Lily’s Cookies

Makes 25

For the cookie base:

215g butter

170g caster sugar

150g brown sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 free range eggs

250g plain flour

125g milk or dark chocolate chips

For the brownie layer:

175g butter

150g dark chocolate

40g milk chocolate

2 free range eggs

225g caster sugar

pinch salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

95g plain flour

125 white chocolate chips

dusting of icing sugar, to serve

20cm square cake tin

Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan)

Line the base and sides of the tin with parchment paper.

First make the cookie base.

Dice the butter, put into a heavy saucepan over medium to high heat and cook until the butter has brown specks appearing in the base of the saucepan.  Take off the heat and set aside.

Put the caster, brown sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl, whisk the browned butter into the sugar, add the two eggs, and mix well until combined. Add the flour and stir in the chocolate chips. Press the cookie dough evenly into the lined tin.

Next prepare the brownie layer.

Put the butter and dark and milk chocolate into a Pyrex bowl over a saucepan of warm water. Bring to almost boiling point, turn off the heat and leave the bowl sitting over the hot water until the chocolate and butter melt gently.

Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, whisk the eggs, caster sugar, salt and vanilla extract until light and fluffy. When the chocolate is melted, pour gently into the mousse, and whisk it all together then add the flour and whisk for 2 to 3 minutes to thicken, then mix in the chocolate chips. Pour into the lined tin.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 minutes, or until the mixture is no longer wobbly, but still slightly gooey in the centre with a few cracks on top. Remove from the oven, allow to cool, then place in the fridge for 2 hours until firm. Dust with icing sugar and cut into squares to serve.

Jasper’s Teriyaki Chicken

Serves 4

1 tbsp sesame or sunflower oil

500g chicken breast or thigh, thinly sliced. 

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2½ cm of ginger, finely grated

25g runny honey 

15ml light soy sauce 

½ – 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar

50ml water 

To Serve

1 spring onion, thinly sliced at an angle. 

toasted sesame seeds, about 2 tbsp

plain boiled rice

Heat the oil and cook the chicken until browned, 5-6 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the honey, soy sauce, vinegar and water and stir. Simmer gently for 4-5 minutes until the chicken is coated in the sticky thick sauce and cooked through. 

Scatter spring onion and sesame seeds on top and serve with rice.

Ottie’s Smoothie

Use the same size glass or mug to measure each ingredient.

Makes 1

1 banana 

1 cup natural yogurt 

1 cup frozen strawberries

1 cup frozen raspberries 

1 tsp honey or more if needed… 

110ml milk

Blend all the ingredients together in a blender. Add a little more milk if you don’t like it too thick and a little more honey if needed. 

Zaiah’s Muffins

Zaiah loves to make this super easy muffin recipe with all kinds of berries, and even chocolate chips occasionally.

Makes 8

225g white flour

½ tsp salt

1 level tbsp baking powder

150g caster sugar

75g butter

1 egg

½ tsp vanilla extract

175ml milk

110g myrtle berries, blueberries or raspberries or blackcurrants

1 muffin tray lined with muffin papers

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

Sieve the flour, salt, and baking powder in a bowl. Stir in the sugar. Rub in the butter until it looks like breadcrumbs. Combine the beaten egg, vanilla extract and milk and add to the dry mixture. Combine with a fork to give a wet consistency. Fold in the myrtle berries. Spoon into the muffin cases. Bake for 20-25 minutes until well-risen and golden. Cool on a wire rack and dust with icing sugar.


We used frozen blackcurrants in the above recipe with delicious results!

Amelia’s Chocolate Brownies

Amelia found this recipe in BBC Good Food with a very good and thorough method.


185g unsalted butter

185g best dark chocolate

85g plain flour

40g cocoa powder

50g white chocolate

50g milk chocolate

3 large eggs

275g golden caster sugar

Cut the unsalted butter into small cubes and tip into a medium bowl. Break the dark chocolate into small pieces and drop into the bowl.

Fill a small saucepan about a quarter full with hot water, then sit the bowl on top so it rests on the rim of the pan, not touching the water. Put over a low heat until the butter and chocolate have melted, stirring occasionally to mix them.

Remove the bowl from the pan. Alternatively, cover the bowl loosely with cling film and put in the microwave for 2 minutes on High. Leave the melted mixture to cool to room temperature.

While you wait for the chocolate to cool, position a shelf in the middle of your oven and turn the oven on to 180C/Gas Mark 4.

Using a shallow 20cm square tin, cut out a square of kitchen foil (or non-stick baking parchment) to line the base. Tip the plain flour and cocoa powder into a sieve held over a medium bowl. Tap and shake the sieve so they run through together and you get rid of any lumps.

Chop the white chocolate and milk chocolate into chunks on a board.

Break 3 large eggs into a large bowl and tip in golden caster sugar. With an electric mixer on maximum speed, whisk the eggs and sugar. They will look thick and creamy, like a milkshake. This can take 3-8 minutes, depending on how powerful your mixer is. You’ll know it’s ready when the mixture becomes really pale and about double its original volume. Another check is to turn off the mixer, lift out the beaters and wiggle them from side to side. If the mixture that runs off the beaters leaves a trail on the surface of the mixture in the bowl for a second or two, you’re there.

Pour the cooled chocolate mixture over the eggy mousse, then gently fold together with a rubber spatula. Plunge the spatula in at one side, take it underneath and bring it up the opposite side and in again at the middle. Continue going under and over in a figure of eight, moving the bowl round after each folding so you can get at it from all sides, until the two mixtures are one and the colour is a mottled dark brown. The idea is to marry them without knocking out the air, so be as gentle and slow as you like.

Hold the sieve over the bowl of eggy chocolate mixture and resift the cocoa and flour mixture, shaking the sieve from side to side, to cover the top evenly.

Gently fold in this powder using the same figure of eight action as before. The mixture will look dry and dusty at first, and a bit unpromising, but if you keep going very gently and patiently, it will end up looking gungy and fudgy. Stop just before you feel you should, as you don’t want to overdo this mixing.

Finally, stir in the white and milk chocolate chunks until they’re dotted throughout.

Pour the mixture into the prepared tin, scraping every bit out of the bowl with the spatula. Gently ease the mixture into the corners of the tin and paddle the spatula from side to side across the top to level it.

Put in the oven and set your timer for 25 mins. When the buzzer goes, open the oven, pull the shelf out a bit and gently shake the tin. If the brownie wobbles in the middle, it’s not quite done, so slide it back in and bake for another 5 minutes until the top has a shiny, papery crust and the sides are just beginning to come away from the tin. Take out of the oven.

Leave the whole thing in the tin until completely cold, then, if you’re using the brownie tin, lift up the protruding rim slightly and slide the uncut brownie out on its base. If you’re using a normal tin, lift out the brownie with the foil (or parchment). Cut into quarters, then cut each quarter into four squares and finally into triangles.

They’ll keep in an airtight container for a good two weeks and in the freezer for up to a month.

Jane’s Biscuits – Shortbread Biscuits

This recipe was originally in imperial measurements, to get best results, weigh in oz.

Makes 25

6oz (175g) plain flour or spelt

4oz (110g) butter

2oz (50g) castor sugar

Put the flour and sugar into a bowl, rub in the butter as for shortcrust pastry. Gather the mixture together and knead lightly. Roll out to 7mm thick.  Cut into rounds with a 6cm cutter or into heart shapes.  Bake in a moderate oven 180°C to pale brown, 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness of the biscuits. Remove and cool on a rack.

Delicious biscuits to nibble but we also serve with fruit fools, compotes and ice creams.

Note: Watch these biscuits really carefully in the oven. Because of the high sugar content, they burn easily. They should be a pale golden – darker will be more bitter.

However, if they are too pale they will be undercooked and doughy.  Cool on a wire rack.

Gluten Free: Swap the flour for Bob’s Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour for a delicious gluten free alternative

Demerara Shortbread

Proceed as in master recipe.  When rolling the biscuits, sprinkle with Demerara sugar and continue as above.

Ballymaloe Balloons – Cheats Doughnuts

My mother-in-law, Myrtle Allen, made these for her children, and then passed on the recipe to her grandchildren and great-grandchildren. They’ve also been a favourite of guest children at Children’s Tea in Ballymaloe House for over 40 years. They cook into funny little shapes, uneven in texture, which is a lot of fun – use your imagination to decide what they look like!

Makes about 10 balloons

150g white flour

2 tsp caster sugar

pinch of salt

1 level tsp baking powder

200ml or more full-cream milk

extra caster sugar or cinnamon sugar (granulated sugar mixed with a little ground cinnamon) to coat.

Sieve the dry ingredients into a bowl. Mix to a thick batter (dropping consistency) with milk.

Preheat a deep-fryer to 190°C

Take a heaped teaspoonful of the mixture and push it gently off with your finger so that it drops in a round ball into the fat. Fry until puffed and golden. Remove and drain. Repeat the process until you have used up all the batter.

Roll the balloons in caster sugar or cinnamon sugar and serve at once.

Also delicious with sweet apple sauce flavoured with a little cinnamon and a bowl of pastry cream for dipping.

Note: No deep fat fryer… Heat 4cm light olive or vegetable oil in a deep pan. Cook as above.


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