Non-stick pots and pans… are you ruining your non stick and not even realising it?

We treated ourselves today to some new pots and pans for the kitchen. I say treated ourselves, but given how often we cook, I really don’t think that decent cookware is an extravagance and we have been soldiering away for a bit with pots in various states of repair. One has the surface coming away another is just no longer non stick and has become a real pain to use. 

We got a bit frustrated recently, spending another unneeded half hour trying to get scrambled eggs off a non stick pot and we questioned why recently ( the last 5 or so years) pots just don’t seem to last like they used to. Unfortunately the kelpies from the washing up bowl failed to give us an answer and instead we decided we’d just go buy some new cookware.

It was in buying this, and reading all the labels that we learned some really important things about non stick cookware and why it was actually our fault that nice things weren’t lasting, so we are sharing what we learned with you, in the hope that you can make your cookware last.

5 tips to keeping your non stick, well non stick

Metal Cooking Utensils

Non stick is a coating that is applied to the pot, damaging that coating will lesson the life and may cause other problems so avoid things which are sharp or hard enough to cause damage, like metal knifes, forks, spoons etc.

This is the really obvious tip that everyone knows, but even if you think, I’ll be super careful, you just shouldn’t risk it. Just a small nick in the coating can lead to food sticking, water causing rust and even for your coating to start to flake off (and get into your food). Stick to wooden and plastic or silicon for your spoons, spatulas etc.

Be careful about taking your prized cookware to dinner parties etc, even if you are being super careful, it doesn’t mean others will be.

Stacking your pots inside each other

Just like metal utensils can easy scrape and ding your pots, other pots can too, so avoid stacking your pots inside each other to save space, or if you do at least put a tea towel or pot saver device inside to protect them.

Cleaning With a Scouring Cleanser Pad

Don’t use Brillo pads for cleaning, if something is stuck on that badly, slap the cook…. no of course not, don’t be mean to the lovely person who cooked for you. Instead, soak the pot in warm soapy water for an hour and then even burnt on nasties should wipe off easily with a soft sponge or cloth. Brillo pads will scour away your non stick coating, hence the name scourer.

Temperature Changes and shocking your non stick

This seems appropriate after mentioning steeping your pots in water. It’s also one of the 2 last tips we are going to give you and its 2 things we didn’t know.  Do not take your very hot pot straight from the cooker and plung it into your dish water. The shock can damage the non stick coating over time and cause it to deteriorate. We confess to not knowing this and being very guilty of it.

Too hot

We’ve been blasting our cookware on the wok ring

This last one came as a complete surprise to us and we confess it is how we killed our lovely pots. It also explains why we felt things have deteriorated quicker over the past 5 years or so. Cooking on too high a heat. Non stick is designed for cooking on low to medium temperatures. Cooking on a high heat not only damages things, but it can actually cause the coating to release harmful chemicals (the recommendation is stay below 260 celsius). We have been blasting our non stick on the wok ring, blasting! Ah, mystery solved.

Something to be aware of though, as much as Orran and Innes can look forward to inheriting our cast iron cookware, non stick is not something you will be passing down to other generations. It is only going to last 3 to 5 years, even with lots of care. Guess that makes granny’s cast iron griddle all the more luxurious now.

How do you have the time? Meal prep!

“How do you possibly have the time?” or “I just wish I had the time” is something I hear often so I thought maybe a blog post to share our planning and prep habits might be useful for some folk. Especially around things like food and cooking so evenings aren’t a last minute panic.

One thing Kate and I do which we are now realising not everyone else does is that we cook all our meals and pre-pack our lunches. It saves a fortune both financially and in time and means we know what we are eating and are less likely to fall prey to lunch disappointment or worse (burrito van and my work colleagues –  is all I’m going to say).

Planning out our weekly meals

At the end of the week, Kate and I plan the meals for the following week so that we know what meals we’re cooking and the shopping list can be written. This is great for 3 reasons, knowing in advance what meals we are going to have that week means no faffing around wondering what to cook, we can plan around activities so quick meals for gym nights etc. But best of all, you can plan your meals around your fridge and pantry (store cupboards) so there is way less food wastage. Then, of course, you write a shopping list of things you actually need to make those meals, this reduces the accidental buying of things you don’t need and encourages you to use up items in the fridge or cupboard. Excellent saves wastage and money!

We also have a big memo board where we note down items we need for the shopping, list the meals etc for the week and anything we plan to do that week.  This helps a lot with being prepared.

Our memo board –  basically our mission centre

This prep also has the advantage that some meals work for lunches as well, so you can plan for this and make double portions. Voila, lunch is made in advance.

Lunch prep

I will be honest, there is no way I would make up packed lunches every morning, even though I am up early enough that I could. I just wouldn’t, so being organised enough to make lunches the night before means we are more likely to take a packed lunch.

Again, being organised to know the kinds of things you’ll want for lunches and make sure you have these in the cupboards helps. Also, don’t make separate lunches and dinners, if you want a hot lunch, have left overs (double portion your evening meal),  or make it something that’s super quick to put together.

Sweet Potato Satay – recipe

Some easy examples of this for the coming week for us (as seen on our memo board) are…

Sweet Potato Satay, makes an excellent reheat lunch the next day. It’s also really quick to prepare so perfect for a night when we have to be somewhere like spin class, maybe for you, it’s taking your kids to music lessons or sports groups. Fancy trying it out? We blogged this a while back so recipe below…

Parmesan Chicken – recipe (if you can call it that)

Another one on the board for this week is parmesan chicken. It’s not a complicated recipe, and it’s a good one for lunches too.


for the chicken

  • 1 chicken breast per person
  • parmesan cheese – grated
  • mayonaise
  • salt & pepper
  • parsley

Accompliament – CousCous with veggies

  • Giant couscous
  • stock
  • salt and pepper
  • your choice of veggies

Couscous is a favourite of ours to go with chicken and things, we usually have it with some veggies too and the secret we’ve found to making it tasty is to cook it with stock rather than just water.

To go with the chicken here we’ve chosen giant couscous (sometimes called pearl couscous or Israeli couscous).


The chicken is easy to do, simply grill the chicken until it’s almost done, then top with a little bit of mayonnaise and sprinkle with some parmesan cheese and pop it back under the grill until it’s finished (note, my American friends would refer to the grill as the broiler I think).

How easy is that?

Couscous again is dead simple, for two people, for lunch and dinner I usually do about 170 grams and add that to a pot of boiling stock. Usually I use 1 and a half times as much stock as couscous. It takes about 7 or 8 minutes to cook.

While that’s cooking, I steam or boil whatever choice of veggies I want. A favourite is green beans, broccoli and peppers.

Serve up for dinner, and box up the rest for lunch tomorrow. You can eat it hot or cold.

Popped into the yumbox to eat cold tomorrow

I don’t think this counts as a recipe as it’s far too simplistic but it gives you an idea of the kinds of things we do to save time. 

I think having a decent set of food storage boxes really helps, for storage and lunches but I won’t go on about that here. You can check out the blog post I wrote a while back about my lunch box obsession if you are interested.

Slow cooker ham with a ginger crunch top

We realised today that we hadn’t shared this recipe with you guys and were astounded. It’s so easy to do and gives you not only a fantastic dinner but options for sandwiches and leftover meals too. The ham is cooked in the slow cooker so there is almost no work for you to do, switch it on, make some coffee and go watch that box set of “The West Wing” for six hours. Easy peasy (and that’s exactly what we are doing today as it cooks).

We first did this as a dinner for christmas, we wanted something different, something we’d never done before and decided on a ham, but we didn’t want lots of stress on christmas day, cause lets face it, there is lots of good tv to be watched, so we hunted for something simple and delicious. From that search, a few recipes came to light and we took the bits we fancied from them all to make our christmas ham. It’s apparently a Swedish style recipe originally and funnily enough, a christmas tradition called Julskinka. 

The basics –  Cooking your ham

Like I said, this is sooo simple.

You need a ham, we go with an unsmoked gammon joint. Unsmoked because there are going to be other more subtle flavours in there and we thought the smoked flavour would overpower things. It might seem an obvious statement, but you need it to fit in your slow cooker, so as we say in Scotland, don’t let your eyes be bigger than your belly.

Firstly, very roughly chop an onion and put this in the base of the pot, this stops the ham being in contact with the bottom and reduces the risk of it scorching.


Ham… cut off the layer of fat from the top. Some folk do like to leave this on and get it crispy when they roast the meat, but we aren’t fans so we cut it off and then put the ham in the pot on top of the onion.

Now for the flavour bit, ginger beer. Yup, a big bottle of ginger beer. It isn’t so common to cook meat in fizzy drinks but its popular in the US and apparently some other countries, but new to us, trying to describe this too you is way more difficult than you realise. I grew up on the west coast of Scotland so we actually call this ginger, a bottle of ginger. We call all fizzy drinks ginger regardless of what flavour they are, I have no idea why but cola is called ginger, lemonade is called ginger, ginger beer is called ginger. Kate grew up on the east coast so she would call this juice or fizzy juice. Again regardless of the flavour or brand, its juice. Elsewhere in the UK, you’d hear it called pop and in the US soda. So basically whatever you call it, top up your pot so that the liquid (ginger beer) comes almost to the top of the ham, next add a big tablespoon of mustard and about a thumbs size pieces of grated ginger. Give it a good old stir, set the heat to low, put the lid on and go off and forget about it for five-six hours.

The topping

I mentioned earlier that some folks cook a ham and for them, it’s all about getting that fat on top to go crispy in the heat of the oven, well instead we are making a crunchy crumb topping out of…. ginger snap biscuits. Yup!

For the topping you’ll need:

  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 6 tbsp. grainy mustard (Swedish if you can get it)
  • 6 tbsp. finely crumbled gingersnaps (or breadcrumbs)

Mix the egg yolks, brown sugar, and mustard together and then spread over the top of the ham. Sprinkle the crumbled up gingersnaps over the top of this to make a nice thick layer.

Now put the ham in a preheated oven at about 220C for 15 to 20 minutes to get everything nice and crunchy.

Once you are happy, remove from oven and cover loosely with tin foil and let it rest for 10 minutes.

It should be soft and pink and delicious. Carve it up and nom!

Focaccia bread with rosemary

Every so often now I catch myself making a comment about just about any yeast-based dough recipes and saying, “ach I can do that”. I say catch myself because as regular readers here will know, there was a time when making bread seemed like some sort of magical, dark art to me. You can actually read more about my journey of learning to make bread here if you missed it, but what I actually, learned, is that making bread is really simple and just takes a wee bit of practice to get the hang of how things should look and feel. So with that in mind, and the fact that today is our wedding anniversary, I am finally making a bread that I always wanted to try but thought it was just too complicated, so I never did. Then I forgot all about it.

For anniversary, valentine etc dinners, we tend to go Italian, usually making fresh pasta and treat ourselves to a lovely creamy, luxurious sauce. Again, if you fancy joining us and learning just how easy it is to make your own fresh pasta at home, have a read.  So for tonight, not only are we treating ourselves to some lovely homemade pappardelle in a creamy marsala sauce, but I am also making focaccia.


  • 500g bread flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 15g dried yeast
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • around 350ml water (you may not need it all)
  • olive oil, for drizzling
  • sea salt flakes
  • Rosemary


Add the flour, salt, yeast, olive oil and half of the water into a large bowl and start bringing it together with your hand. It will be sticky, so don’t worry, it’s meant to be. If you are a bit worried about working with a sticky dough, you can always use a stand mixer if you have one. As you mix the dough, gradually add the rest of the water until you have a soft, slightly sticky dough.

With a wet dough like this, its much easier to get it going in the bowl rather than on a worktop where it will stick and make life hard, so for the first 5 or so minutes, stretch the dough around in the bowl, pull it and then tuck it back into the centre, turn the bowl a quarter turn and then 180 degrees repeat, keep doing this for about 5 minutes.  (If you are using a mixer, then let the mixer take the strain and leave it to knead for about 10 minutes).

Tip the dough out onto an oiled worktop and keep kneading for another five minutes. If you are unsure about kneading, we, of course, have a helpful video on youtube:

Once you are happy that you have a pillow soft, lovely dough, oil the bowl and put the dough back into it, cover with clingfilm and leave to rise until doubled in size. This can take as little as half an hour or a whole lot longer depending on the room temperature.

Once the dough has doubled in size, oil two large baking sheets and then tip the dough out of the bowl and divide into two. Flatten each portion onto a baking sheet, making sure to push into the corners, then leave to prove for another half hour.

Meanwhile, get the oven preheated to 230C.  Drizzle both “loaves” with olive oil and sprinkle with rosemary and fine sea salt then bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Then turn the temperature down to 200C and keep baking for a further 10 minutes

When cooked, drizzle with a little more olive oil and serve warm.

Make your own peanut butter. It’s quick, really easy and doesn’t have lots of nasty additives.

I have developed a bit of a thing for peanut butter this year, ok if I’m being absolutely honest, I’m a bit obsessed. I eat it on toast, on bagels, straight from the jar when Kate can’t see me… but it took me a bit to realise that there is sooooo much more in some peanut butters than just peanuts. Even worse, some of the “healthier” brands are actually putting palm oil in there and as orangutan lovers, that’s a big no-no for Kate and I (ook!). So it was luck that someone at work mentioned that it’s actually really easy and serious quick to make your own peanut butter. Not only meaning you control what goes in, but also you can complete customise the flavour to your tastes… crunchy, smooth, salty or sweet. Once you’ve made your first batch you’ll wonder exactly why you were paying out 3 or 4 quid for a jar of peanut butter. I know, I know, you are probably thinking there goes Eli exaggerating again, but seriously until you have  actually made your own homemade peanut butter, you really can’t imagine just ridiculously easy it really is. Put the peanuts in a blender and hit the button!


  • Peanuts – 450 grams
  • 1 tablespoon of veg or peanut oil (optional)
  • half teaspoon of salt (optional)

Lets make it then.

Right, so first thing you’ll need is a food processor, sorry there is no getting around it, you need one of these delightful whizzy makers to get the peanuts broken right down and release the lovely oil (heart healthy).

I start by roasting the peanuts, you don’t have to do this, but it gives a richer flavour, so feel free to experiment and try either way. Oh I should also mention, if you have bought peanuts with the skins on you’ll need to get rid of these and don’t buy salted peanuts folks. Just plain peanuts.

Right roasting. I go for 3 mins at 160C then stir and another 2 mins. I’m also a lazy sod, so I take that opportunity to shove my jar in the oven with the peanuts to sterilise it. Obviously be careful, things will be really hot when you take them out of the oven, so set them aside and let them cool.

If you’ve never sterilised jars this way, there are some great resources you can read on the web.

Ok so once the peanuts have cooled a bit, pop them into your food processor, if you want a smoother peanut butter you can add a tablespoon of oil here just to help things along, then give them a few pulses just to get things going, then it’s just 5 minutes between you and the most delicious peanuty goodness.

You will notice a few things over that 5 minute period, namely there are a few stages of texture between peanut and smooth, lovely, spreadable noms.

After a few pulses there are just big crunchy bits of peanuts but once you have run the food processor for a minute you get crumbs. Dry crumbs at that but trust me, let the processor run a little longer and it will come together.

After another minute, it will start to look wetter, not exactly peanut butter yet but you will stop worrying that this is never going to work. Scrape all the stuff that’s stuck to the sides down and keep going.

One minute later you’ll think that’s it. I have peanut butter!

But again just trust me on this. Scrape it down again and give it one or two more minutes and suddenly you have the most luxurious delight.

This is peanut butter heaven and the best bit, this is where you get to taste it and decide if it’s right or if you want to tweak. At this point I add a half teaspoon of salt. I like salty peanut butter, but this is your peanut butter, you get to choose. Maybe you’ll add a tablespoon of honey and make yours a little sweeter, you are in control! Add whatever extras you think it needs and give it another quick pulse or two just to mix.

One you are happy, scrape it into your jar and pop it in the fridge (if you haven’t already spread it on toast!

Obviously, this isn’t full of preservatives like the jars you buy in the supermarket, so it’s not going to keep forever and the fridge will help, but something else I feel I should warn you about. If you only ever buy the nasty stuff in the shops you may notice something a bit scary. Good peanut butter, if left undisturbed, will split. Yup the peanut solids and the oil will separate. DON’T PANIC! This is normal and ok. Just mix it before you use it.  Luckily a work colleague warned me about this or I might have panicked.

I turned my back for 2 seconds and Kate was eating it!

Garden glut – we made fresh pesto

Everyone has one of those lists that they want to tick off, you know the ones I mean, the ones where you list all the things you want to do before you’re 30, 40, 50 etc.  Mine is online on my website along with the check marks beside the things I’ve done. So when the garden gave me a massive glut of basil, it was a chance to tick off another item. I’ve always wanted to make fresh pesto. It sounds so incredibly silly to say that now after I’ve made it and now know how quick and easy it is. So I’m sharing this with you so you can make some too.

I should warn you though, it’s not one of those recipes where I can give you exact measures (which I struggled with a bit – as anyone who knows me will tell you – I am a complete control freak and I like order and lists and exactitudes), so here we go. Pesto!


  • BIG bunch of basil
  • one clove of garlic
  • pinch of salt and pepper
  • a small handful of parmesan cheese – grated finely
  • a handful of toasted pine nuts
  • olive oil

It’s going to be one of those recipes you make and then tweak based on your personal tastes, I put 2 cloves of garlic in mine because I am a garlic monster, but to be honest 1 clove would have been sufficient.

So how to make pesto

Basically, put the toasted pine nuts in a food processor with the garlic and blitz it up. You can, of course, make your pesto using a mortar and pestle (this is the traditional way), but the food processor is a lot quicker. Once your pine nuts and garlic are chopped up finely, add your parmesan and basil and get that going. Drizzle olive oil into the food processor as its going until you get the consistency you are after. Salt and pepper to taste and that is you. Really, it’s that easy!

Enjoy with lovely homemade bread, or over pasta or if you are like me, with a spoon in a dark corner where no one can disturb you!!!!!!


Honey roasted seeds – pumpkin, sunflower and linseed

I’ve been really enjoying little packets of flavoured seeds as a snack recently. A friend at work turned me onto them and they’ve become a go-to snack, however, all those little packets add up in cost and wasteful packaging so we thought we’d have a go at our own. Turned out they were delicious and much cheaper so we thought we’d share our adventure with you.

Give it a try.

We used a mix of sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds and linseed, about 260 grams in total of seeds. I mixed them in a bowl with a tablespoon of sugar and three tablespoons of honey. Gave it a really good mix to get them all evenly coated and then spread them out on a lightly greased baking sheet.

Popped them into the oven at 160C for 20 mins, the house smelled amazing while they were baking.

Once they were done, I let them cool and then just broke them up (as they go like brittle), and popped them into a jar to store (for as long as I don’t eat them ha ha ha).

Tasty snack done!

youtube, the blog and our community – changes

Day by day we are seeing the blog become more popular and more and more of you are getting in touch with your amazing stories and interesting questions. It’s been so much fun sharing our adventures with you all over the last few years but due to the size of this community, we have had to make some small changes. Nothing scary, don’t worry.

As I mentioned, the blog is growing daily but so is our youtube channel so we thought it was time to get organised and make sure it is easy for everyone to find the content they were looking for.

Originally, our youtube channel wasn’t a channel, it was just a place to make videos available so that we could share them here, but it grew and grew and now it even has its own following separate from this blog. So with that thought, we have decided it was time to separate out the videos into separate channels to make life a little easier for our viewers and readers. We do still encourage you to use this blog as your method of contacting us though, just because it can get difficult for us to keep track of you all through all the different ways you get in touch and we don’t want anyone feeling like we are ignoring them.

So with no more waffling, the channel address to visit should you wish to find our videos on …

Gardening and cooking and random stuff:


Mushroom and asparagus risotto, but with barley?

As part of our healthier lifestyle thing, we notice an awful lot of “fashionable” things appear and disappear. Sometimes they are good and we add them to our repertoire and other times they are one of those pretend this is as good as the version you know cause you are starving yourself on a diet type thing. One such example of a trend you should avoid, cauliflower pizza bases. Trust us, we tried it so we could blog about it if it was something worth sharing with you guys, and it sooooo isn’t.  If you want pizza, make a proper pizza base, if you are watching you macros or calories or just trying to restrict the amount of pizza you eat then just don’t have pizza all the time. It’s better to eat something good and enjoy it than suffer something you don’t enjoy and be resentful.

However, there are a few things that are worth sharing and this is one of them, risotto, but made with pearl barley instead of rice.

Ok so the first thing I know some of you will ask is, why on earth would you replace the rice? After all, the rice IS risotto, its integral. And hey you know what, I totally agree. Risotto is gorgeous and comforting and lovely. This is just another risotto type thing to add to your toolbox with the plus that it adds some whole grains into your diet, which is good and for those of you looking to reduce carbs or calories etc, this offers you something similar to risotto but that you can eat on your diet.

For us, we have been actively trying to increase our consumption of whole grains and reduce the white rice, pasta etc a little. This hits the nail on the head for us because, most importantly, it’s tasty as hell, you know by now that we don’t suffer poor imitations.

So lets go….


Ingredients for two servings

  • mushrooms 100g sliced
  • onion finely diced
  • thyme chopped 1 tsp
  • garlic 2 cloves crushed
  • pearl barley 100g
  • chicken or vegetable stock 700ml (around, this will depend on how quickly you cook things)
  • asparagus, a big handful
  • Our trick to add that creaminess – low-fat soft cheese 2 tbsp

Let’s get cooking

Fry the mushrooms in a little oil, we use spray of oil  to stop us going overboard but you should use whatever oil you chose normally. Once the mushrooms are looking good, scoop them out of the pan and set aside.  Next, fry the onion for a few minutes to let them soften a little before adding the thyme and garlic and letting that infuse for 30 seconds or so. Be careful not to burn the garlic.

Add your barley, just as you would your risotto rice, give everything a good stir to mix up those flavours and slowly add the stock, stirring frequently. The idea is to add the stock a little at a time, stirring loads to give the barley a chance to absorb the stock. In total this will take about 25-30 minutes, just until the barley is tender. If the barley is still too crunchy, add more stock and cook a little longer.

Once things are gorgeously soft and indulgent and the stock has been absorbed, stir in the asparagus to soften a little, and add the mushrooms back to the mix. Season well and cook until you are happy with the asparagus. We like it to still have a bit of crunch.

That’s it, simple huh?

The cheese is a genius addition as it adds that creaminess that you would normally get from the starch in the rice but if you don’t want to add it then this would still be a tasty dish.



Kanelbullar, Kanelsnegl or plain old cinnamon buns. A tasty treat for a winter weekend

I’ve always been a huge fan of what I call cinnamon swirls (kanelsnegl, in Danish they are called cinnamon snails), you know, the Danish pastry type treats where a mix of cinnamon, butter, and sugar is swirled inside a roll of flaky, sweet pastry? I love them, but on a recent trip to New York, we discovered another version, the kanelbullar. Simply, a cinnamon bun, traditional in Sweden. They even have a national cinnamon bun day (Oct 4th), why don’t I live in Sweden?  I have completely fallen in love with these and have been trying to get the perfect recipe ever since.

They are a perfect treat with a cup of tea or coffee for those cold, fresh winter weekends when you just want to curl up inside with a book and I thin they are about to become our latest christmas day tradition.

The recipe is getting there so I thought I’d share with you guys, and even better, this is a chance for you to practice your sourdough skills on something other than a loaf of bread.

Ingredients – for the dough

  • 400g bread flour
  • 150g sourdough starter
  • 50g melted butter
  • around 200ml warm milk
  • 5g salt
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cardamom (it just give the buns… something which you can’t put your finger on)
  • an egg to brush the buns

Ingredients – for the filling

  • 120g soft butter
  • 100g sugar
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon

Get to work

You are making an enriched bread dough, so add all your ingredients to your big mixing bowl and get to work bringing it together with your hands until it’s a nice ball of dough.

I’ve found when working with sourdough, that the water content of the starter varies, so don’t add all the milk in one go. Add a bit at a time until you have a good dough consistency, you may not need all the milk. You want the dough to be firm but not too dry.  A wetter dough makes for a lighter finished product.

Once you have the dough ready, get kneading. Give the dough a knead for about ten minutes until it’s soft and springy to the touch.

If you aren’t sure about kneading, there’s a handy “how to” video over on our YouTube channel.

How to knead dough

Once you are happy you have a lovely springy dough, put it back into the bowl, cover with some clingfilm and leave it in a warm room to rise. You want it to double in size, this can take anything from an hour to all day. As we are using sourdough for this recipe, it’s more likely to take all day, but just keep an eye on it.

Getting all creative

Once the dough is ready, you want to roll this out to about 3 or 4mm thick, into a rectangle. Or as near to a rectangle as you can.  I have never once managed to get any dough to be a nice neat rectangle without serious coercion, so just get your best approximation of a rectangle.

Now it’s time to get the filling ready.

You need to cream your butter and sugar together until its completely combined and super soft, then mix in the cinnamon. This doesn’t look attractive in your mixing bowl, I admit, but just trust me on this one, it will taste divine.

Ok, I will not lie to you, this is the tricky (read impossible) bit. You need to spread that lovely filling all over your rectangle of dough. Sounds simple enough right?


Every recipe I’ve seen, every video I watched, they all spread the filling really easily using a pallet knife or a spoon. I am sorry, but this beautiful pillowy, soft dough does not want the filling spread on it, no matter how soft I went, no matter what implement I used… the dough moved and the filling stayed put.

So… here is my top tip, just use your fingers. It’s messy but it works!

So now that the drama of trying to spread the filling is over, time to make those fabulous little knot shaped buns. You start by folding the dough over itself, so basically you are folding it in half, lengthways. Not sure if that is the right description, but basically fold along the short end so you still have a long, but now thin rectangle.

Now cut that rectangle in half to create two squares (or as near to squares as you were to a rectangle at the start).

Then again cut in half, and again until you have some thick little rectangles of filled doughy goodness. Which you are going to cut again, but this time not all the way through, kinda like you are giving them little legs.

Now the messy but fun part begins. Grab the right leg and twist it clockwise. Then grab the left and twist it anti-clockwise.

I have no idea how to describe the result to you, so here’s a picture! Make this 🙂

The next maneuver is again difficult to explain, but basically take one twisty leg, and wrap it around in a semi-circle. Like left twisty leg goes around the left and joins the top of the dough. Next, take the right twisty leg and pull it over the top and tuck it underneath at the top.

Again, I’m better showing you a picture.

Little knot like buns created, its time to leave them to rise again. You got it, you want them to double in size.

The last stage, when they have doubled, get that oven preheated to 180 C, and while that’s heating, beat your egg and brush it over the buns, this makes a nice shiny finish. At this stage, if you wanted to you can even add some sugar nibs to make them pretty.

And voila…. tasty sourdough cinnamon buns.

Parlies or Parliament Cake – an old fashioned Scottish biscuit

Happy St Andrew’s day everyone. I thought in honour of the day of the Scottish patron saint (who is also the patron saint of loads of other places), I’d have a go at something a bit special, something from history…  am I setting the scene? Are you excited?

Parlies or Parliament Cake.

I have to thank my study buddy Rachelle for giving me this idea, she was researching shortbread (as you do) and came across a mention of these and got in touch to ask if I knew how to make them. Of course, I leapt into action, got the research head on and found out so I could share with you guys as a special St Andrew’s day treat.

So what are they exactly? Well, a biscuit, with ginger and treacle, sounds lovely and wintery right? Well, you are right. They are lovely and dark and have a slight toffee edge, but that’s not even the best bit. The best bit is the cracking story of how they were born / where they came from. So here it is just for you.

Parlies or parliament cakes (to give them their Sunday name) were the creation of Mrs Flockhart (locally known as Luckie Fykie) of Potterrow here in Edinburgh. She had a little general grocer shop and tavern (which incidentally is no longer there because the student union is now there) which was allegedly visited by esteemed gentlemen of the Scottish Parliament, including the father of Sir Walter Scott, allegedly. The story says that these gentlemen would visit the shop but head through the shop into the back rooms (or ben the hoose as we would say), where they would drink whisky and eat parliament cake.

Mrs Flockhart’s parlies are described as crisp square cakes and she apparently offered round “snaps”.  So my version is not exactly accurate to hers, as mine are round, but they are tasty treats all the same. If you wanted to make yours square, you could roll the dough and cut it into squares.

If you want to read more about Mrs Flockhart and her “goings on”, there is a nice account in “Traditions of Edinburgh, Vol 2”.

So for the recipe.


225g plain flour
115g butter
115g brown sugar
1 egg
2 tablespoons black treacle
2 and a half teaspoons ground ginger

How to make them

Mix the flour, ginger and sugar thoroughly in a bowl.

Melt the butter in a saucepan and add the treacle and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.

Add the hot butter and treacle to the bowl holding the dry ingredients and mix a little to allow the mixture to cool, add your egg and beat vigorously with a wooden spoon until you get a dough.

Not the most attractive but its tasty

When it has cooled enough to handle, scoop up about a tablespoon amount and drop this onto a baking sheet lined with greaseproof paper. Flatten it a bit so it looks more biscuit like.

You should get about 12-15 biscuits, depending on how big you make them, but remember they will expand a little in the oven, so leave space.

Bake at 160C for 25 minutes then leave to cool on a cooling rack. They are properly crunchy (like ginger snaps when cool).

Tomato and red pepper soup – hygge comfort returns

It’s that time of year again, it’s cold, blooming freezing and its dark most of the time. It’s really easy during the cold autumn and winter months to get a bit low or blue and pine away wishing for spring. So to combat that, over the past couple of years, Kate and I have been trying to get into the Danish mindset of hygge. Basically of trying to take joy in the things that make life good. A warm home, good food, family and friends. It’s all about the little things, personal to each and every one of us. It could be reading a book by the fire, a long soak in the tub or just having family around for dinner.

So in the spirit of sharing our hygge findings, we’ve been sharing our best comforting winter recipes.

For us, part of the joy in this amazing soup is that the ingredients came from our garden, which always makes food taste better. Knowing you put the time and energy into growing them. It also goes amazingly well with some sourdough, imagine…… 🙂

So what do you need?

  • 3 red peppers, halved & de-seeded.
  • 1 onion, unpeeled & halved.
  • 4 Cloves of garlic
  • 2 Sticks of celery, sliced & chopped.
  • 500g tomatoes.
  • 450ml Vegetable stock.
  • 2tbsp Olive oil.
  • 2tbsp Tomato puree.
  • 1tbsp Sundried tomato paste.
  • 1tsp chilli flakes.
  • 25g Butter.
  • Salt & pepper.

What to do

  1. Pre heat oven to 200C and put the pepper & onion halves (cut side down), the tomatoes & garlic onto a baking tray & drizzle with the olive oil. Bake at the top of your oven for 30 mins or until the vegetables are roasted & tender.
  2. Meanwhile melt down the butter in a large pot over a low heat and soften the chopped celery for 4-5 mins. Don’t burn the butter.
  3. Adding the tomato puree, sundried tomato paste & the chilli flakes to the stock and mix well and then add to the sauteed celery. Remove from the heat.
  4. When the baked vegetables are ready remove the peel from the onion & garlic cloves roughly chop them & add them to the pan along with the tomatoes. Place back on to a low to medium heat & using a hand blender blend until the soup is smooth.
  5. Season to taste & gently simmer until the soup is at a comfortable edible temperature. Do not allow the soup to boil. Serve with homemade sourdough bread & enjoy the moment.


Could it be any simpler?