Tag Archives: quick

Chicken Waldorf Salad

It’s been a long time since I contributed to my own site here and after much um-ing and ah-ing over whether or not to continue Gentle Voice or amalgamate this with my blog, here I am again, posting here. I am nothing if not indecisive. I think.

So without any more wiffle, here’s a little treat for the tastebuds: Chicken Waldorf Salad. This is an incredibly simple but oh so tasty recipe. Don’t be afraid to alter amounts of the separate ingredients because it’s a very forgiving combo of flavours and creativity is the key to good cooking I say!

Ingredients (For two people):

2 cooked chicken breasts (or equivalent meat from elsewhere on the bird), cut into bite size pieces

1 stick of celery, chopped

2 spring onions (scallions), chopped

2 oz (50g) walnut halves, roughly chopped

6 oz (175g) seedless grapes, washed and halved

3 rounded tablespoons of mayonnaise

Salt and crushed black pepper to season

Lettuce leaves (something crunchy like Cos / Romaine lettuce is good).

Put all the ingredients in a large bowl, add the mayonnaise and gently toss through to combine and coat everything. Serve on a bed of lettuce leaves. Simple as …


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Welsh Rarebit

I never promised that it would be all fine cuisine around here (quite the opposite, I think) so since we all seem to be freezing our buns off at the moment I thought I’d refer to one of my favourite cold weather comfort foods – something that I happily snaffled for my lunch today and poo to the diet guilt in this cold snap.  I love cheese but God has decreed that hot cheese shall be totally irrestible, both in smell and taste, to all but the steeliest-willed skinniest of skinnies. 

I have quick combos that I love on a cold day: toast one side of a slice of bread under the grill then spread the other with tomato puree (paste), good grated strong Cheddar (the real thing, not that plastic muck that tries to pass itself off as Cheddar) and sprinkle on some dried oregano.   Pop back under the grill and cook until the cheese is melting and just starting to brown.  Voila! –  Pizza Bread!  🙂   I’ve successfully substituted a scraping of Sacla red pesto and then cheese when I don’t have tomato puree (making a kind of Basil-ly pizza bread.  Mmmmmm…).  And for true connoisseurs of the Toast and Cheese Tasters Guild nothing can compare to a scraping of Marmite and then the grated cheese (although if you haven’t tried Marmite before you may want to take it easy with that one – Marmite truly is a product that you either love or hate.  It has been known to make grown men cry).  

Purists, however, will undoubtedly prefer to go through the extra kerfuffle of making proper Welsh Rarebit (also called Welsh Rabbit, although of course no rabbits are actually harmed in the making of it).  Lovely, but I’m normally too much of a gannet to muck around and do things ‘properly’.  Here, however is the authentic recipe for this English (well…Welsh) classic:

Welsh rarebit (Serves 4)

(By the way, the phrase Welsh rabbit was coined in the 18th century to describe this cheese on toast. Some believe it was invented when the Welsh wives spied their menfolk returning empty-handed from the hunt and had to melt cheese as a substitute for game).

This Welsh rarebit with egg is from the Edwardian chef C Herman Senn:

  • 9 oz/255g freshly grated Llangloffan, Caerphilly, Cheshire or Cheddar cheese
  • 1 oz/30g unsalted butter
  • 2 tbsp fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp Colman’s English mustard powder, mixed with 1 tsp water
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce (optional) – a few drops of each may be added to the mixture
  • 4 slices of good bread, white or brown, lightly toasted and buttered

Heat the oven to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Mix the finely grated cheese with the butter, breadcrumbs, mustard and egg. Beat well, season with salt and pepper to taste and spread thickly on buttered toast. Cook in the oven until golden brown (5-10 minutes).

That’s it.  Enjoy…  And stay warm! 🙂

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Super-quick chocolate cake

I was sent this recipe by email, source unknown, so unfortunately I can’t attribute it.  It was labelled ‘The most dangerous cake recipe in the world’.  Why? Because it’s so quick and easy that you are only ever 5 minutes away from chocolate cake.  I haven’t tried this yet but I plan to – soon!

2 tablespoons cocoa

4 tablespoons of flour

4 tablespoons of sugar

1 egg

3 tablespoons milk

3 tablespoons oil

3 tablespoons chocolate chips (optional)

A small splash of vanilla extract and your favourite tipple

1 large coffee mug


choccake1 Add the dry ingredients to your largest mug and mix well.  Add the egg and mix thoroughly.  Pour in the milk and oil and mix well.  Add the chocolate chips if using, vanilla extract and a drop or two of your favourite tipple, then mix again.


Put your mug in the microwave and cook for 3 minutes at 1000 watts (high).  The cake will rise over the top of the mug, but don’t be alarmed!

choccake3Allow to cool a little and tip out onto a plate if desired.

EAT!  (This can serve 2 if you want to feel slightly more virtuous).  If you’re feeling very, very naughty, cover liberally in Bailey’s Irish Cream.


Without any of the whipping and creaming associated with sponge cakes I’m intrigued to know what this is actually like.  If you try it, please let me know how it turned out – it certainly looks delicious!








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Lemon Drizzle Cake

This is a lovely cake for those of us who like quite plain cakes, in other words no cream and other frou frous.  Perfect for afternoon tea…although you may want more than one slice, and that just might spoil your dinner!

I make this using a food processor, and this is how it goes …


Lemon Drizzle CakeMakes a cake for 8-10 servings and is best eaten freshly baked, although it will keep for 1 week under refrigeration in an airtight container.  Freezes up to 3 months.


2 large eggs

175g (6oz) sugar

150g (5oz) soft butter

Grated zest of 1 lemon

175g (6 oz) self-raising flour, sifted***

125ml (4fl oz) milk

A pinch of sea salt

For the lemon syrup

150g (5oz) icing sugar

50ml (2 fl oz) fresh lemon juice (about 1-1/2 lemons)

*** Re Self-raising flour (For American readers) – self-raising flour is simply flour to which raising agent has already been added.  There are several ‘recipes’  for making your own self-raising flour.  Here is one: For every 225g (8 oz) of plain /all purpose flour add 2 level teaspoons of baking powder.  Sift together 3-4 times to thoroughly mix.  Can be stored in an airtight container.

You will also need a 9 x 5 x 3 inch loaf tin for this recipe, together with a small amount of baking parchment or greaseproof paper



Pre-heat the oven to 180C / 350F / gas mark 4.

Line the bottom of a well greased loaf tin with baking parchment.

Put the eggs and sugar in the bowl of the food processor and process for 2 minutes, scraping the sides down once with a rubber spatula.  Take off the lid and drop spoonfuls of the soft butter on top of this mixture, together with the lemon zest, then pulse until it disappears.  The mixture should now resemble mayonnaise.

Add the flour, milk and salt, cover and pulse just until the mixture is smooth in texture and even in colour, scraping the sides down with a rubber spatula if necessary.  Don’t over-beat or the cake will be tough.

Spoon the cake mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown on top and firm to the touch.

Remove from the oven and stand the tin on a cooling rack.

To make the syrup: Gently heat the sugar and lemon juice in a small saucepan, stirring until a clear syrup is formed – about 3 minutes.  Do not boil.

Prick the warm cake all over with a fork, then gently pour the syrup over it, until it has been completely absorbed.

Leave until cool, then carefully ease the cake from the baking tin and remove the baking parchment.

Just before serving, sift a little more icing sugar on the top.

Serve in generous slices!


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Thawing a frozen turkey

It's not a good time to be a turkeyTHE GOLDEN RULE: Never thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature.

By far the best method is to thaw the bird in the refrigerator (set no higher than 40F)  and, be warned, this will probably take 3-4 days, depending on the size of bird you are dealing with. 

To do this: Leave the bird in its original wrapping and place on a tray in the bottom of your refrigerator.  Allow 5 hours per pound of bird – so for a bird of, say 14lbs, you would be looking at 70 hours (or just over 3 full days).  Be sure to keep an eye on it during that time because you will periodically have to empty liquid out of the bottom of the tray … you don’t want to flood your fridge with raw turkey juice!

Quick method: Check that the turkey is in leak-proof packaging.  If it is, put it, in its original wrapping, in a sink of cold water, breast side down.  In the same way that ice cubes transfer their low temperature to a drink, so your frozen turkey will lower the temperature of the water.  In other words, you’re going to have to change the water in the sink every half hour in order to maintain a consistent temperature.  Allow half an hour per pound of turkey so, for example, the 14lb bird mentioned above is still going to take 7 hours to defrost.  Cook as soon as you have completed this process. 

I wouldn’t recommend using a microwave.  The nature of microwave ovens means that the bones will become hotter quicker and the meat immediately around them may effectively start to cook, causing potential health hazards.  If you feel you absolutely must use a microwave, follow the manufacturer’s instructions precisely and, again, aim to cook the bird immediately after.

Here are a couple of charts which may help when calculating thawing times:

Refrigerator thawing (weights represent a whole bird)

8 – 12 pounds ……… 1 to 2 days

12 – 16 pounds …….. 2 to 3 days

16 – 20 pounds …….. 3 to 4 days

20 – 24 pounds …….. 4 to 5 days

Cold water thawing times

8 – 12 pounds ……… 4 to 6 hours

12 – 16 pounds …….. 6 to 8 hours

16 – 20 pounds …….. 8 to 10 hours

20 – 24 pounds …….. 10 to 12 hours

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The cheat’s tidy up

Forgotten anything in the panic?

Forgotten anything in the panic?

Strictly speaking it’s a cheat but sooner or later you’re bound to be caught out like this, so …

If you know that your guests are arriving shortly and you don’t have the time to clean the house, follow my superquick routine to get your home looking presentable.

Open the windows to get in a quick blast of fresh air.  

Get a basket, a bucket, a carrier bag or a cardboard box and go from room to room where you know ‘they’ (the guests) will see.  Put all clutter that has accumulated like newspapers, magazines and childrens’ toys in your basket and put it somewhere out of the way like the garage. 

Flush the toilet in the bathroom and squirt a bit of bleach or toilet cleaner down it.  Spray the wash hand basin with a bathroom cleaner that is designed to work largely on its own.  Leave it on to do its thing for a few minutes while you get on with other stuff.  

Use a feather/ lambswool/ or one of those dusters that works using static electricity to whisk over surfaces that you feel are all too visible, or that you know they will touch.  Don’t bother moving ornaments – you don’t have the time right now.

Go back and rinse out the wash hand basin. 

If you have the time, give the floors a quick hoover, but only in the areas they will see. Don’t bother moving chairs etc.

Close windows.

If it’s an evening visit, put on side lights only. It’s more welcoming anyway and it means they can see less!

Spray a squirt of your favourite perfume in the entrance hall. (Just the one …too much and it will smell suspiciously like a tart’s boudoir)!  Alternatively, do you have a nice scented candle you could light?

FINAL TIP: I tend to always have some cut flowers in the house, just because I really like cut flowers.  At panic moments like this they can be great to have around because it’s amazing how any fresh flowers at all in a room will divert your visitors’ attention away from any perceived shortcomings in your housekeeping.  So, if you should happen to have flowers, or you can nip out into the garden to get some, put them somewhere where everyone can see them!

Time taken: I have been known to do this routine in 15-20 minutes tops (although admittedly I may occasionally have looked a little flushed in the face when I greeted my guests)!

Bottom line?  If you’re still in a panic, remember that those you love really are coming to see you – not to judge your housekeeping skills!

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