Tag Archives: recipes

Best Bonfire Night Recipes

Our three favourite Bonfire Night recipes


Butternut Squash Velouté

Butternut Squash Velouté

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 362 per portion
Fat 31g (19g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Butter 50g (2oz)
  • Onions 2, peeled and sliced
  • Garlic 2 cloves, peeled and finely chopped
  • Butternut squash 700g (1lb 9oz), peeled and cubed
  • Vegetable stock 600ml (1 pint)
  • Double cream 150ml pot
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to serve (optional)
  • Toasted sourdough bread to serve (optional)


  1. Melt butter in a large pan and add onions and garlic. Cover with a lid and leave to sweat over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened.
  2. Add squash and stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until squash has softened.
  3. Pour in half the cream, season to taste and puree with a stick blender. Serve with a swirl of cream, sprinkled with nutmeg and with sourdough toast, if you like.



Extra Special Gooey Gingerbread

  • Servings: 18 bars
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

Calories 157 per portion
Fat 6g (3.5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Butter 110g (4oz)
  • Granulated sugar 75g (3oz)
  • Golden syrup 225g (8oz)
  • Marmalade 2 tbsp
  • Self-raising flour 225g (8oz)
  • Ground ginger 2 tsp
  • Bicarbonate of soda ½ tsp
  • Milk 150ml (¼ pint)
  • Eggs 2


  1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Butter a small roasting tin measuring about 18 x 28 x 4cm (7 x 11 x 1½in) and base line with non-stick baking paper.
  2. Put the butter, sugar, syrup and marmalade into a saucepan and heat, stirring, until the butter has melted and the sugar dissolved. Take the pan off the heat and leave to cool slightly.
  3. Mix the flour, ginger and bicarbonate of soda together in a bowl, then stir into the cooled butter and sugar mixture.
  4. Beat the milk and eggs together, then stir into the ginger mixture. Pour into the prepared tin, level the surface and cook for about 25 minutes until the cake is well risen and golden. The cake is ready when the top springs back when pressed with your fingertips.
  5. Leave the cake to cool in the tin, then take it out of the tin, peel off the paper and cut it into bars.

Cook’s tips
To store, wrap in foil and then keep in an airtight tub or tin.
It’s also delicious as a pudding with a splash of hot custard.


Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 282 per portion
Fat 17g (7.6g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Milk chocolate 40g (1½oz), broken up
  • Smooth peanut butter 2 tbsp
  • Milk 350ml (12fl oz)
  • Whipped cream 2 tbsp, optional
  • Mini marshmallows and grated chocolate to serve, optional


  1. Place chocolate, peanut butter and milk in a pan. Heat gently, whisking, until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth.
  2. Pour into 2 mugs and top with whipped cream and marshmallows and/or grated chocolate, if using.


Recipes taken from the Dairy Diary.


Dairy Diary 2018 now available




The origins of Halloween and what to do with all that pumpkin

 Haloween Pumpkin

The origins of Halloween

The origins of Halloween can be traced back to the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain.*

Until 2,000 years ago, the Celts lived across the lands we now know as Britain, Ireland and northern France. Essentially a farming and agricultural people, the Pre-Christian Celtic year was determined by the growing seasons and Samhain marked the end of summer and the harvest and the beginning of the dark cold winter. The festival symbolised the boundary between the world of the living and the world of the dead.

It was believed by the Celts that on the night of 31st October, ghosts of their dead would revisit the mortal world and large bonfires were lit in each village in order to ward off any evil spirits that may also be at large.

The night or evening of Samhain became known
as All-hallows-even then Hallow Eve, still later
Hallowe’en and then of course Halloween.

A special time of the year when many believe that the spirit world can make contact with the physical world, a night when magic is at its most potent.

Throughout Britain, Halloween has traditionally been celebrated by children’s games such as bobbing for apples in containers full of water, telling ghost stories and the carving of faces into hollowed-out vegetables such as swedes and turnips. These faces would usually be illuminated from within by a candle, the lanterns displayed on window sills to ward off any evil spirits. The current use of pumpkins is a relatively modern innovation imported from the United States.

*Halloween by Ben Johnson

Pumpkin carving fun with your children

Halloween carved pumpkinChoose your pumpkin – a large, ripe pumpkin that has smooth, even surfaces and sits comfortably without danger of rolling over is best.

Sketch your pattern on paper to suit the size and shape of your pumpkin. If you’re not artistic, use a stencil or template.

Make the lid by drawing a 125mm (5″) circle on the top. Cut out the lid with the saw/blade at an angle – leaning slightly to the outside – this will stop the lid dropping inside. Remove the lid and clean its base.

The kids can remove the inside – they love this slimy job and can easily remove all the seeds and mushy stuff. Then you can takeover scraping with a spoon or ice-cream scoop. Thin walls make carving easier, but don’t make them too thin or the pumpkin will collapse. Make the base inside flat to accommodate a candle.

Apply your pattern by copying freehand onto the clean, dry pumpkin with a marker/pen/pencil or tape your paper pattern to the pumpkin and mark the design by poking holes through the pattern.

Let’s carve – adults only if you’re using a knife! Carefully begin at the centre of your pattern and work outward – small shapes first. The kids can push out the shapes as you go. Lastly ensure the pumpkin sits stably without danger of rolling.

Light up – place a tea-light in the base. Ensure the candle is level and carefully light it. Always extinguish the candle when leaving the room.

For a carving tool, we recommend a pumpkin saw. If you’re using a knife (small and sharp) carve gently and steadily, making a few gentle strokes for each cut.


And what to do with all that pumpkin?

Halloween Pumkin recipes from Dairy Diary

Here are four of our favourite Halloween recipes from the Dairy Diary team:

Halloween Pumpkin Streusel Muffins

Halloween Pumpkin Gratin

Pumpkin & Ginger Risotto

Halloween Cake Pops


Yes, we know the Halloween Pop Cakes don’t contain pumpkin, but they are too good to miss out!

Have fun!







3 Treats for Halloween

This week found me rifling in drawers for scarves and gloves

That’s a sure fire sign that we’re fully ensconced in autumn. And with the glorious colours and brisk walks come the autumnal events (whether we want them or not!)

There’ll soon be knocks at the door and small ghoulish figures on the doorstep hoping for something scrumptious. Rather than buying a bumper stash of sweets for trick or treaters, why not offer something homemade instead?

I know I would much rather my three eat these Dairy Diary treats rather than additive-loaded sweeties any day


 Trick or Treat Popcorn

This is a cheeky Russian-roulette recipe, which is sure to amuse!

Treat or Treat Popcorn

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Per portion: Calories 149
Fat 6g of which 1g is saturated
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Popcorn 200g (7oz)
  • Olive oil 4 tbsp
  • Salt pinch
  • Chilli powder 1 tsp
  • Golden caster sugar 1-2 tbsp


  1. Cook two panfuls of popcorn one after the other: For the first batch place 100g (3½oz) of popcorn, 2 tablespoons of oil, salt and chilli powder into a pan and stir thoroughly. Cover pan with a tight-fitting lid and heat gently. Shake occasionally to prevent burning, and continue heating until popping subsides.
  2. Remove from heat and leave to stand until no more popping can be heard. Stir thoroughly, taste and add a little more chilli powder if necessary.
  3. Repeat with remaining popcorn (without salt or chilli) but add sugar at the end of the cooking time when leaving pan to stand. Leave to cool slightly before popping into bowls and serving to your trick or treaters!


Toffee Apples from Dairy Diary 2016

And traditional toffee apples.

Trick or Treat Toffee Apples

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 195 per portion
Fat 2g (2g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Apples 6 small
  • Granulated sugar 250g (9oz)
  • Golden syrup 2 tbsp
  • White wine vinegar 1 tbsp
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Wooden lollipop sticks 6


  1. Press a wooden stick into the stalk end of each apple.
  2. Pour 125ml (4fl oz) water into a saucepan and add sugar, golden syrup and vinegar. Stir over a low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat and boil rapidly for 10 minutes until a little of the mixture separates into hard brittle threads when dropped into a cup of cold water.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in butter. Stand pan in cold water to prevent it cooking further.
  4. Dip each apple into syrup and stand on a piece of baking paper. Reheat toffee gently if it becomes too sticky. Dip apples again, if desired.
  5. Eat immediately or wrap in cellophane.


All Soul Cakes

These biscuits were traditionally baked on All Souls’ Day or All Hallows’ Eve to commemorate the dead.

All Souls’ Day Cakes

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 180 per portion
Fat 7g (4g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Butter 175g (6oz)
  • Caster sugar 175g (6oz)
  • Eggs 3, beaten
  • Plain flour 475g (1lb 1oz), sifted
  • Mixed spice 2 tsp
  • Currants 110g (4oz)
  • Demerara sugar 2 tbsp


  1. Preheat oven to 180°C/160°fan/Gas 4. Cream butter and caster sugar together until fluffy, then gradually beat in 2 eggs, each with a spoonful of the flour.
  2. Fold flour, spice and currants into mixture. Mix to make a soft but not sticky dough.
  3. Roll out to about 8mm (¼in) thick and use a 7cm (2¾in) diameter cutter to stamp out rounds. Mark the top of each with a cross then brush with egg and sprinkle with demerara sugar. Place on baking trays and bake for 10-15 minutes until pale gold.
  4. Transfer to a cooling rack. When cold, store cakes in an airtight container.


Dairy Diary 2018 now available




Brand new books ON SALE NOW!


Wow, I can’t believe it’s September already.

This year has been a whirlwind with new product development, new sales opportunities and not to mention a wedding and house move too! 

But now’s no time for reflection, it’s the time to look forward to next year because the 2018 Dairy Diary is here!

And what a beauty it is. I think this
is my favourite cover of all time; it’s
so fresh, calm and uplifting.

And it’s absolutely crammed full of fascinating features.

Dairy Diary 2018

The Dairy Diary 2018 comes with its usual handy pocket and memorably dates sticker sheet, a ribbon page marker and, of course, concealed wiro-binding so that it lies flat for writing and reference.

It has all the planning tools you need for next year – useful reminders, space for addresses, budgeting, holiday dates, and plenty of space to write all those important notes and appointments. It now has a weekly reminders section too.

Dairy Diary 2018 with stickers

Chelsea Buns recipeAnd best of all – the reason the Dairy Diary is loved by so many loyal readers – its delicious triple-tested recipes.

With so much variety, from Cauliflower Cheese Soup to Beef Yakitori (Asian-style kebabs) and Choc n Nut Chelsea Buns to Gin & Tonic Sorbet.

There’s such a great selection that I’ve made many of them several times over already!

To find out more about the 2018 Dairy Diary click here.

You can order online or over the phone, if you prefer. Our order phoneline is 01425 463390.

It’s just £8.50 plus £2.50 P&P, but that’s per order, not per item. AND if you spend over £20 then postage is free! So stock up now for Christmas and don’t forget to treat yourself.



My favourite recipe

It’s a close-run thing but the recipe that I love best (in fact, crave often) is the Nutty Seeded Burgers, which are without doubt the best veggie burgers I’ve ever had.

Have a try and see what you think:


Nutty Seeded Burgers on Brioche

Nutty Seeded Burgers on Brioche

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 348 per portion
Fat 27g (5g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Bulgur wheat 50g (2oz)
  • Vegetable stock 300ml (½ pint)
  • Unsalted cashew nuts 50g (2oz)
  • Brazil nuts 50g (2oz)
  • Mixed seeds 50g (2oz)
  • Garlic 1 clove, peeled
  • Wholemeal bread 1 small slice, torn into pieces
  • Egg 1 Harissa paste 2 tsp
  • Sunflower oil 1-2 tbsp
  • Brioche buns, tomato slices and salad leaves to serve


  1. Place bulgur wheat in a pan with stock and bring to the boil. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Drain well.
  2. Place all remaining ingredients except oil, brioche and salad in a food processor and whizz to blend together. Stir in bulgur wheat and season to taste. Shape into four patties, cover and chill for 1 hour.
  3. Heat oil in a non-stick frying pan and cook burgers for 4-5 minutes on each side until golden. Serve on brioche with tomatoes and leaves.







How Dairy Diary recipes are created

Dairy Diary recipes
Dairy Diary recipes

Every recipe in the Dairy Diary and our cookbooks is triple-tested, and from the original idea to the finished recipe, it’s quite a lengthy process.

First, our recipe writers produce a list of recipe ideas from which we choose our favourites. From this list we need to ensure that there will be a good balance of savoury/sweet, veg/fish/meat and a good range of different ingredients – it’s quite a jigsaw puzzle!

The writer then tests and writes the recipe. Then the recipe is given to our editor to edit to Dairy Diary style and to fit the space in the book.

After that, it’s passed to a team of amateur testers, who check that the recipe is easy to understand, shop for and to cook, and of course, it tastes delicious!

Finally, the recipes are given to our food stylist, props stylist and photographer, who test, cook and shoot each dish and make them look utterly fabulous.


A special new recipe

I’ve recently had a recipe request for an old recipe that I haven’t been able to find in our archive of books. The idea sounded so delicious that I’ve decided to create it for the next diary. Here it is. We all loved it – I hope you do too!


Coconut, Pineapple & Fruit Loaf


Coconut, Pineapple & Fruit Loaf

  • Servings: One large loaf
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Suitable for vegetarians
Suitable for freezing


  • Self-raising flour 150g (5oz)
  • Desiccated coconut 75g (3oz)
  • Caster sugar 75g (3oz)
  • Butter 110g (4oz), softened
  • Eggs 2
  • Pineapple chunks in juice 227g/230g can
  • Luxury dried mixed fruit 75g (3oz)
  • Granulated sugar 25g (1oz)


  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°fan/Gas 5. Grease and line a 900g (2lb) loaf tin.
  2. In a mixing bowl, mix together flour, 50g (2oz) coconut, caster sugar, butter and eggs.
  3. Fold in pineapple chunks (reserve juice) and dried fruit. Spoon into prepared tin and smooth the top. Sprinkle with remaining coconut.
  4. Bake for 40-45 minutes until a skewer comes out clean (cover with foil if the top is browning too quickly). Mix reserved 5 tablespoons pineapple juice with granulated sugar and spoon over the cake as soon as it comes out of the oven.
  5. Leave to cool in tin for 10 minutes before cooling on a wire rack.

Coconut, Pineapple & Fruit Loaf

For more recipes, check out the Dairy Diary 2018 and Cook it Slowly! cookbook.



3 Easy Weekday Dinners

Easy weekday dinners

Weekdays can be incredibly busy, but that doesn’t mean we have to resort to supermarket ready-meals.

Here, I have selected three recipes that take half an hour or less to prepare, so they are perfect for rustling up after a busy day at work.


Chorizo Fried Rice

Chorizo Fried Rice

  • Servings: 2
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 476 per portion
Fat 24g (11g sat) per portion


  • Butter 15g (½oz)
  • Garlic 1 clove, peeled and crushed
  • Mushrooms 50g (2oz), wiped and sliced
  • Microwave basmati rice 250g packet
  • Chorizo 75g (3oz), chopped
  • Egg 1, beaten
  • Frozen peas 75g (3oz)
  • Frozen sweetcorn 75g (3oz)
  • Soy sauce 1–2 tbsp


  1. Melt the butter in a wok or frying pan over a medium heat and sauté the garlic and mushrooms for 5 minutes. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, cook the rice in the microwave according to the packet’s instructions.
  3. Add the chorizo and egg to the pan and cook until lightly scrambled.
  4. Add the peas and sweetcorn and cook for 2 minutes and then add the rice and mushrooms and cook for a further 2 minutes until everything is hot.
  5. Serve on warmed plates sprinkled with soy sauce.

Cook’s tips You could replace the mushrooms with peppers, if you prefer. For an even more cost-effective meal you could cook your own basmati rice rather than using the microwave version. It will just take a little longer to prepare.


Mushroom Pancakes

Mushroom Pancakes

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 413 per portion
Fat 26g (12.7g sat) per portion
Suitable for vegetarians


  • Plain flour 110g (4oz) plus 2 tbsp
  • Egg 1
  • Milk 700ml (1 pint 4fl oz)
  • Vegetable oil for brushing
  • Butter 75g (3oz)
  • Mushrooms 450g (1lb) button or mixed, wiped and sliced
  • Mustard ½ tsp
  • Chopped parsley 2 tbsp
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Cheddar cheese 50g (2oz) (optional)
  • Green salad to serve (optional)


  1. To make the pancakes, sift 110g (4oz) of flour into a bowl and break in the egg. Gradually add 125ml (4fl oz) milk, beating to form a smooth batter. Pour in another 125ml (4fl oz) milk and beat until smooth.
  2. Brush a non-stick frying pan with oil and pour in enough of the pancake batter to coat the base. Cook until the pancake moves freely, turn and cook until golden. Repeat until you have 8 pancakes. Keep warm.
  3. Melt 50g (2oz) of the butter in a deep frying pan over a medium heat and fry the mushrooms for 4–5 minutes, until softened and starting to brown. Remove from the pan and keep warm.
  4. Melt the remaining butter in the pan and add the 2 tbsp flour. Cook for 1–2 minutes, then gradually add the remaining milk, beating well and allowing the mixture to come to the boil between each addition of milk. Simmer the sauce gently for 2 minutes, then stir in the mustard, parsley, mushrooms and seasoning.
  5. Preheat the grill to hot. Divide the mushroom mixture between the pancakes, and fold or roll each one up. Place them on a buttered dish, sprinkle with cheese if you like and then place under the grill until the cheese melts and turns golden. Serve immediately with a green salad, if using.

Cook’s tips If you have any bacon in the fridge, chop up a few rashers, fry them and
add to the mushrooms. You could use tarragon in place of the parsley.



Salmon, Lemon & Asparagus Pancakes

Salmon, Lemon & Asparagus Pasta

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Calories 655 per portion
Fat 35g (20.8g sat) per portion


  • Tagliatelle 300g (11oz)
  • Asparagus tips 100/125g pack, halved
  • Butter 25g (1oz)
  • Frozen peas 150g (5oz)
  • Crème fraîche 250ml pot
  • Milk 4 tbsp
  • Lemon 1, grated zest only
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Ready-cooked lemon and herb salmon 185g packet, flaked


  1. Bring a saucepan of lightly salted water to the boil, add the tagliatelle and cook for about 10–12 minutes, or according to packet’s instructions, until just tender.
  2. Add the asparagus tips during the last 4 minutes, then drain well.
  3. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the peas, then stir in the crème fraîche, milk and lemon zest (reserving a little for garnish). Heat gently, stirring, for about 3 minutes, then season to taste.
  4. Drain the pasta, then return it to the saucepan and add the sauce, stirring gently to mix. Divide between 4 warmed bowls. Scatter with the salmon flakes and lemon zest and serve at once.

Cook’s tip Use unwaxed lemons if possible, otherwise just scrub ordinary ones thoroughly before grating the zest. Remember to use only the yellow part – the white pith has a bitter flavour and will spoil the taste of the dish.



Fantastic Food For Less cookbookAll of these scrummy recipes are taken from our cookbook, Fantastic Food for Less.

This is one of the cookbooks that I refer to most and I can highly recommend it.

Click here for more information or to order.





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