Rachel Allen was recently on Market Kitchen and demonstrated these swirls as an interesting alternative to the humble
scone. This is a basic scone mixture and jam is used as a delicious filling. A firm favourite for my boys, and one ingredient they try to include the most in their diet, is Nutella. When I put a restriction on it they are quick to point out that it's full of goodness -according to the ads it is packed with only the best ingredients. I often find the power of advertising works best when one already desires the product!!!  But my boys were certainly delighted when I made these swirls with the Nutella as an alternative to jam. 
If you are entertaining guests these swirls certainly are an impressive addition to afternoon tea.  I am lucky enough to have a large amount of homemade jam perfect for this recipe but a good  quality shop bought variety would also be perfect. I would serve these Raspberry Swirls with a blob of cream and a little extra jam. 

A thin spread of jam is all that's needed, otherwise it will only leak out.

Roll the dough to resemble a swiss roll.


  • 450 g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 75 g caster sugar
  • 75 g butter, diced
  • eggs
  • 300 ml milk
  • 2 heaped tbsp rasberry jam
  • 2 tbsp granulated sugar, for sprinkling


1. Preheat oven to 220°C/425°F/gas mark 7. 
2. Sift the flour and the baking powder into a large bowl. Add the salt and caster sugar and mix together. Add the butter and, using your fingertips, rub it into the flour until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.
3. In another bowl, whisk two of the eggs with the milk. Make a well in the centre of the dry ingredients and pour in most of the egg and milk. Using one hand, held firmly in a claw shape, mix in the flour from the sides of the bowl to form a soft and quite sticky dough, adding more egg and milk if necessary. (You may not need all of the egg and milk mixture.)
4. Tip the dough onto a lightly floured work surface, dust with more flour and gently roll out into a 1cm/1/2in thick rectangle approximately 30cm/12in long and 18cm/7in wide.
5. Spread the raspberry jam over the top to cover the surface. With the longest side facing you, roll up the dough away from you, to resemble a swiss roll.
6. Cut the finished log into 12 slices. Place slightly apart on a greased baking tray, cut side up, sprinkle with the granulated sugar and cook in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until golden-brown. Serve warm. 

Keeping hens has now become fairly popular. There are so many advantages to having them with very little work. On any given day our 5 beautiful hens lay either 4 or 5 eggs between them. These eggs are far superior to the shop bought variety, not only are they free range but also they are also organic. The term 'free range' is actually quite elastic.Food produces are permitted to use this term even if their hens aren't out in the open once their barn is bigger with greater space for the hens. This is, of course, better for the poor hens than those horrid cages, however I always find it interesting how the picture on the egg carton doesn't actually depict how the hens are being reared. We feed the hens scraps, such as potatoes, rice etc. Also we include oats and organic layers mash. I always buy organic feed that is GM free. Grass is also essential for healthy birds. Organic eggs are more expensive to produce but their taste really makes them worth it. 

The French call this pain perdu (lost bread). It is made with slightly stale leftover bread (if your bread is not stale, leave it out overnight to dry out). You can add ground spices to the egg mixture such as cinnamon, nutmeg or mixed spice, or stir in mashed fruit like bananas, raspberries or strawberries before frying. French Bread is a great way to introduce eggs into a child's diet. My boys particularly like theirs with a splash of vanilla extract.

French Toast

2 eggs
2 tbsp Cream or milk
1/2 teasp vanilla extract
15g (½oz) butter
4 slices of bread, white or brown
Icing sugar, for dusting

1. Whisk together the eggs, the cream or milk, vanilla extract and the salt in a bowl.
2. Place a frying pan over a medium heat and melt the butter. Soak a piece of bread on both sides in the egg mixture, then place in the pan. Cook for 2 minutes on both sides until the bread is deep golden.
3. Place on a warmed plate and dredge generously with icing sugar to serve. Cook the remaining pieces of bread in the same way.
Children absolutely love this fresh tasting summer drink. If we ever get another hot summers day well then this would be the perfect drink to sip on. Stock syrups can be flavoured with any herb of choice, depending on what use you have for the syrup. I have added lemon balm leaves but alternatively mint leaves could be added. Similar to mint plants, lemonbalm has a tendency to grow almost wild when planted in the garden so it is a good idea to seek out plenty of recipes to use up some of these flavoursome leaves. This recipe can also be made with mint leaves otherwise leave out the lemon balm altogether. Stock syrup is very handy to have in your fridge as it can be used for stewing fruit, for fruit salads and of course
homemade lemonades. The stock syrup will keep in the fridge for months but once made into lemonade it should be enjoyed that day.
For a totally delicious, adult only, treat add a shot of rum with plenty of ice to your glass of homemade lemonade.

Stock syrup
4 lemons
2 oranges
1.5 litres water

For the Stock syrup
450g white granulated sugar
600ml water
5 lemon balm leaves

1. To make the Stock Syrup, dissolve the white granulated sugar in the water over a gentle heat, stirring well. Add the lemon balm leaves and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2 minutes then leave them to cool.
2. Juice the lemons & the oranges; mix well with 450ml of the cooled stock syrup. Add water to taste and top with some ice-cubes.
3. Serve straight away.

This cucumber pickle is one of those essential recipes to have ready made in the fridge. It is so versatile as it is perfect with roast or barbecue meats, delicious in burgers, a great addition to sandwiches. I particularly like to add some of this pickle to roast chicken and plenty of mayo. Actually, I would even eat this straight from the jar. It keeps perfectly well for weeks in the fridge. I picked up some kilner jars in Ikea for only €1.19, which are ideal for storing the pickle. If you were making this pickle to give as a gift the kilner jar also makes it look extra special.

Here are some of the cucumbers that are growing in my garden. The black slates are placed under each cucumber once it begins to grow- this stops them becoming mushy on the wet soil as they grow bigger. These beautiful organic cucumbers are perfect for this pickle. In days gone by our grandparents would carefully select fruit and veg that could be preserved for the winter months - the perfect solution for making the most of seasoned produce.

Cucumber Pickle

500g thinly sliced unpeeled cucumbers
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
175g caster sugar
1 level tbsp salt
120ml cider vinegar
1 tsp finely chopped fennel, optional

  1. Put the slices of cucumber, onion and fennel into a large bowl. Mix the sugar, salt and vinegar together and pour over the cucumber and onion.
  2. Cover tightly and store place in the fridge. Leave for at least 4-5 hours or overnight before using.
  3. Keeps for weeks in the fridge.
Jack and Fionn cutting the fennel for the cucumber pickle.

Scones are something so delicious and so easy to make. Myself and the boys make them a few times a week and we enjoy them the most when they are straight out of the oven with butter and homemade jam. This is a basic scone recipe but sometimes we vary this recipe by adding a few chocolate chips or leave out the sugar and add some grated cheese and chopped spring onions. I find the scones turn out better when they are barely kneaded- just turn out onto a floured surface and make shapes with a cutter.

Scrumptious Sweet Scones

Ingredients (makes 10 scones)
450g/1lb Self Raising Flour
Pinch of salt
25g/1oz caster sugar
85g/3oz Butter
1 large egg
225mls milk
For Glaze
Egg wash (some beaten egg with a little milk)
Granulated sugar-on a small plate

1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/gas mark 6
2. Sieve all the ingredients together into a large mixing bowl.
3. Cut the butter into small cubes, toss in the flour and rub in the butter
4. Whisk the egg with the milk
5. Make a well in the center of the mixture and add the whisked egg and milk to the dry ingredients.
6. Mix together with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to make a soft dough
7. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Wash and dry hands. Knead lightly- not too much as the scones would become tough. Roll out the dough and cut out using a circular cutter.
8. Brush the tops with the egg wash and dip into the granulated sugar.
9. Bake in the oven for 10-12mins until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire tray.
10. Serve with butter and homemade jam and enjoy. Delicious!