Farmersgirl Kitchen

Low Calorie Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs

5:2 Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs Recipe

Do you indulge yourself when you are on holiday?  I certainly do, so now the holidays are over it’s back to counting calories and cutting out cakes for me.  However, that doesn’t have to mean dull and boring food,  I’m on a mission to make some of my favourite dishes lower in calories. First up is Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs, the recipe is packed with flavour and comes in at under 300 calories including a portion of quinoa. Low Calorie Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs THE 5:2 FASTING DIET: You can read about my holiday indulgences in French Cheese Cake in the Charente-Maritime  It must have been the French cheese that piled on the pounds…it couldn’t possibly have been the wine and delicious Pineau de Charentes… everyone knows that wine has no calories when you are holiday…don’t they? I’ve been managing my weight with the 5:2 Fasting Diet for about 18 months now, it’s pretty simple to follow and ideal if you have a hectic schedule and your life doesn’t allow you to follow a routine.  I simply have two days in every week when I eat 500 kcal,  men are allowed 600 kcal.   On the other five days of the week, I eat normally. That doesn’t mean eating everything under the sun and expecting to lose or maintain weight, but you can eat sensibly and enjoy some higher calorie foods on your non-fasting days.   Get more 5:2 Diet Recipes from the  Pinterest Board 5:2 Fasting Diet  recipes from  me at Farmersgirl Kitchen, Lavender and Lovage , London Unattached and Freycob Good Food Made Easy with more that we have pinned.  Read more about the science behind 5:2 intermittent fasting at The 5:2 Fast Diet

Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs
Serves 4
This low calorie Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs recipe allows you to enjoy all the sweet and sour flavour with the minimum calories.
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Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
40 min
For the meatballs
  1. 500g turkey mince
  2. 2 spring onions
  3. 15 g ginger, grated
  4. 1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
  5. Pinch of salt
  6. 2 tsp oil
For the sauce
  1. 1 tsp oil
  2. 1 red pepper
  3. 12 mangetout peas
  4. 6 baby corn
  5. 1 clove garlic finely chopped
  6. 1tsp cornflour
  7. 4 tbsp oyster sauce
  8. 3tbsp rice wine vinegar
  9. 2tbsp ketchup
  10. 1 tsp mango chutney
  11. 1 tbsp marmalade
  12. 1 tsp Clear Spring Umami paste with ginger (optional)
Make the meatballs
  1. Mix together the turkey mince, 5 spice powder, finely chopped spring onion, salt and grated ginger in a bowl.
  2. Form the mixture into small balls about the size of a walnut ( I made 20 meatballs from 500g of turkey mince)
  3. Heat the oven to 160C
  4. Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok or saute pan and fry the turkey meatballs until brown on all sides, place the meatballs in an ovenproof dish and place in the oven for 15 minutes to ensure they are cooked through.
  5. Stir fry the red (bell) pepper, mangetout or sugarsnap peas, baby corn and garlic in the pan until they have taken on some colour and are starting to soften slightly.
  6. In a bowl mix together the cornflour and rice wine vinegar, then add all the other ingredients and mix well.
  7. Add to the stir fried vegetables and stir, add a little water if the sauce is too thick. Turn down the heat and cook for 2 minutes to ensure the cornflour starch is cooked out.
  8. Add the meatballs and coat with sauce.
  9. Serve with rice or other grains such as quinoa.
  1. Total Calories 921
  2. Calories per portion for 6 people 154 kcal + 60g dry weight quinoa (cooked) = 286 kcal per portion
  3. Calories per portion for 4 people 230 kcal + 60g dry weight white rice (cooked) = 368 kcal per portion
  4. 60g dry weight quinoa – 132 cal
  5. 60g dry weight white rice – 138 cal
Farmersgirl Kitchen

  add a little extra umami with Clear Spring pastes Now back to the Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs, making the meatballs is simple and adding flavours to the meatball mixture really helps to lift the turkey mince which can be a bit bland without a little help.  Peppers, mangetout peas and baby corn Using lots of vegetables helps too, not only with the flavour, but also with the calorie count.  Vegetables are generally lower in calories than meat or carbs and they help to fill you up.    Low Calorie Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs LOW CALORIE AND LOW COST: Sweet and Sour Turkey Meatballs are are low calorie, and they are also a low cost meal.  I calculated these prices from a leading supermarket, but you could probably get the cost down even further by buying at a market or a discount supermarket (prices calculated August 2016). Turkey Breast Mince £3.00 per 500g Red pepper 50p Baby corn and mangetout £1.60 Spring onions 12p Ginger 5p Oyster sauce 60p Rice wine vinegar 50p Chutney, ketchup and marmalade 20p Garlic 3p Oil and spices 10p £6.70 – 4 portions at £1.67 per portion  6 portions £1.12 per portion  (with quinoa £1.58 per portion) Quinoa –  60g –  47p WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE LOW CALORIE MEAL?

French Cheese Cake in the Charente Maritime

An impressive French Cheese Cake: a stack of cheeses decorated with leaves, herbs and flowers.

Cheese, Travel | August 19, 2016 | By

When I go on holiday, delicious food and drink is one of the most important aspects of making the holiday a success.  This year there was no question that the food would be good, because my holiday this year was a visit to my food blogging friend Karen of Lavender and Lovage in the Charente-Maritime region of France.  More about the French Cheese Cake later, but first some photographic postcards.

Talmont sur Gironde, France

Talmont sur Gironde is so picturesque, it’s a little fishing village in the Charente-Maritime area of France. It is very popular with tourists, so much so  they have built a huge car park making it easy to access the village and you can walk around the narrow streets without traffic. 

Dining at L'Acacias and Pineau tasting at Chateau Guynot

The Market Menu at L’Acacias in Corme Royal was a real gourmet treat at an incredibly reasonable price.  We enjoyed a chicken and sun-dried tomato salad, followed by Sea Bass with fresh peas in a creme fraiche sauce, then finished the meal with Cafe Gourmande, a coffee with three mini desserts all of which were absolutely delicious.  

We followed this meal by visiting Chateau Guynot for a degustation (tasting) of the local tipple, Pineau de Charentes.  First we had a look at the Glaciere or Ice House, then a tour of the distillery with the charming Sabrina and then back for the tasting.  Pineau de Charentes is wine fortified with cognac and aged in oak barrels.  It comes in red and white varieties and is sold at 4 years old, 8 years old and 16 years old.  

Each has it’s own merits, the 4 year old is light and fresh and particularly good for cooking, the 8 year old is ideal for aperitif and the 16 year old Pineau is rich and smooth and would be a gorgeous digestif with coffee and chocolate.  You may note that Karen and I are a little flushed after tasting all 8 types of Pineau and I also had a taste of their Gold Medal winning Cognac!

Mortagne sur Gironde and Port Maubert

The Charente-Maritime area is on the Gironde estuary and this viewpoint at Mortagne sur Gironde provides a panoramic view of the estuary with points of interest illustrated on a colourful tile display.  After our viewing, we headed to Port Maubert where we enjoyed a picnic ‘sur l’herbe’ and watched the fishermen and the boating activity on the inlet.  


Some of the gorgeous flowers of the Charente-Maritime, there were flowers everywhere. 

Around Montpellier de Medillon, France

It’s always nice to have a look around the area where you are staying, so we went for a walk around Montpellier de Medillan and the surrounding countryside.  It was a very hot day, so we set off in the morning before it got too hot, walking past fields of sunflowers, maize, horses and enjoying the very French architecture.

French Sunflower Field

I think this photograph is my favourite, the sunflowers were on their last legs with only a few smaller flower heads shining their sunny faces our way.  I love sunflowers and fields of sunflower seem to epitomise rural France. 

Roman remains at Saintes, France

Saintes is the closest town to Montpellier de Medillant and is incredibly rich in Roman history and artefacts.  

“The ancient town of Saintes may have played a major role early, under Emperor Augustus (27 BC – 14 AD), possibly s the capital of the great Aquitaine province.  Under Augustus, Agrippa opened up an important road from Lyon, then capital of Gaules.  It reached Saintes’ bridge on the East side of the Charente, before becoming the major axis of the town the decumanus maximus.  

During the 1st century AD, great monuments were built. Today the only remains are the carved stones colleciton of the ARcheological Museum, the Arch of Germanicaus, the veistges of the Saint-Saloine’s bathes and this Amphitheatre.”  Information from Saintes Gallo Roman Amphitheatre Visitor Centre. 

Lavender and Lovage meals and the pool

As I said we had very hot weather and ate out in the garden every evening.   As would be expected, Karen provided delicious food, including the Tian of Aubergines and Courgettes (top left) and the Chicken and Artichokes in a creamy sauce (top right).  The Tarte au Citron came from the supermarket and were also very good. 

A dip in the swimming pool was the ideal way to cool off and really appreciated when the temperatures soared to 34C!

Barbeque time at Lavender and Lovage and a French Cheese Cake

On Sunday, Karen invited some friends over for a barbeque.  Karen made a delicious slow-cooked pulled pork, marinaded chicken kebabs and a variety of French sausages.  Karen also made potato salad, a layered Mexican Taco Salad.  

I contributed to the salads by making a panzanella, garlic and oil toasted croutons with tomato, cucumber and red onion, dressed in olive oil and white wine vinegar. 

A French Cheese Cake - tower of french cheeses decorated with flowers


Karen also suggested that I recreate the ‘French Cheese Cake’ that she had recently made to take to a local festival, you can see Karen’s Summer French Cheese Cake Tower at Lavender and Lovage.   The French Cheese Cake is made by simply stacking the following cheeses: Brie, Saint Nectaire, Tomme, Bress Bleu and Crottin (goats cheese).  

French Cheese Cake - a tower of french cheeses after being enjoyed by the guests

I picked all the leaves and flowers in Karen’s garden, including vine leaves, olive branches, lavender, lemon balm, fennel, thyme flowers and roses.  The French Cheese Cake is really easy to make and incredibly impressive.  It stands up well even once it’s been cut.

I would highly recommend this beautiful area of South West France for a holiday and, of course, would recommend a visit to the Lavender and Lovage blog for more fabulous photographs and recipes. 



Mexican Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs

Cauliflower and Quinoa Meatballs with Mexican Sauce

There is no meat in these Mexican Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs, in fact, they are really not named correctly at all.  I thought about calling them Cauliflower Quinoa Balls but…well, no I didn’t think that sounded right at all!  

Vegan Cauliflower Quinoa Meat-free balls in a Mexican spiced sauce

Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs seem to be a ‘thing’ on Pinterest.  I found quite a  number of different recipes which I adapted to suit my tastes and the ingredients in my fridge,  and created my own version of this popular vegan alternative to meatballs. 

I loved how crisp the outside of the Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs were,  and inside they have a lovely texture, not too soft and they break up just enough to soak up the sauce.

Mexican Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs
Serves 6
Meat free 'meatballs' with a spicy tomato sauce
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  1. 1 small cauliflower
  2. 190 g uncooked quinoa
  3. 500 ml water
  4. 100g wholemeal breadcrumbs
  5. 1/2 tsp sweet smoked paprika
  6. 1/4 tsp salt
  7. 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
For the sauce
  1. 1 tbsp oil
  2. small onions, finely chopped
  3. 1 clove of garlic, crushed
  4. 1 green pepper, thinly sliced
  5. 2 courgettes, spiralized (optional)
  6. 1/2 tsp hot smoked paprika
  7. 1 tbsp Sriracha
  8. 1 400 g can good quality tinned tomatoes
  9. 1 tbsp roughly chopped coriander leaves
To make the meatballs
  1. Soak the quinoa overnight, then rinse until the water is clear
  2. Put the quinoa into a pan with 500 ml of water and cook for about 10-15 minutes until all the water has been absorbed.
  3. Cook the cauliflower florets in a little water for 5 minutes until tender.
  4. Place the breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, cauliflower and quinoa into the ThermoCook or other blender and pulse for 10 seconds until combined, tip into a bowl and set aside in the fridge to cool.
While the meatbals are cooling, make the sauce
  1. Heat the oil to a medium heat in a large frying pan or saute pan add the onion.
  2. Cook gently until the onion softens, add the garlic, spiralized courgette (if using) and green pepper and cook for another couple of minutes, then add the hot smoked paprika, tomatoes and Sriracha.
  3. Cook for a further 10 minutes and check the seasoning adding salt and pepper or more Sriracha to taste.
  4. Finally add the chopped coriander leaves.
  5. Once cool, make the cauliflower & quinoa mixture into golf ball sized balls with your hands.
  6. Replace in the fridge for a few hours to firm up
  7. Heat the oven to 180C
  8. Fill a roasting tin to 1/2 cm with rapeseed or vegetable oil and place in the oven for 10 minutes until smoking hot
  9. Add the 'meat' balls to the hot oil and roast in the oven for about 10 minutes or until golden brown*
  10. Serve the the sauce and top with the crispy meatballs and garnish with coriander leaves.
  1. *At this point you can remove the meatballs and reheat on a dry oven tray. if you wish to serve them later
Farmersgirl Kitchen
MAKE YOUR OWN VARIATIONS:  I included the spiralized courgette (zucchini) in my sauce because I had some in the fridge I needed to use, however I do think it makes the dish look like spaghetti and meatballs and this got me thinking that this would be a great variation.  

You could get really creative with this dish adding different herbs and spices to the Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs. I think the mixture would be great with some cheese added and served with a tomato sauce or eaten like arancini.  

I used my Optimum ThermoCook to blitz the breadcrumbs, cauliflower and quinoa to bring together the ingredients into a meatball mix.  If you are using a less powerful blender I would suggest mixing in two batches.

I’m an Optimum ThermoCook Ambassador so thought I’d tell you a little about what you get when you buy this powerful multi-function cooking machine:


  • 30 Day Money Back Guarantee – Includes Return Postage!
  • 0 Litre detachable stainless steel jar for blending and cooking
  • Butterfly and kneading blade
  • Stainless steel blade assembly
  • Large 70 x 50 mm LCD screen
  • Separate Precise Glass Scale
  • Soft silicon rubber spatula
  • Simple pre-set auto programs and unique DIY program
  • Adjustable timer and temperature gauge
  • Dishwasher proof (non-electrical parts only)
  • Comprehensive recipe book

Here are some of my ThermoCook recipes:

Themocook Mushroom Stroganoff SoupMushroom Stroganoff Soup






Chocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice LolliesChocolate Coconut Mango Mousse Ice lollies 







Rhubarb and Orange Fool DessertRhubarb and Orange Fool 








A vegan sandwich spread which is easy to make in a power blender.Chilli & Tofu Sandwich Spread 








Why not check out the Froothie blog ?  You’ll find some great recipes shared by Froothie Ambassadors and see just how versatile and exciting Froothie products can be. 

Mexican Spiced Cauliflower Quinoa Meatballs

Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum ThermoCook to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the ThermoCook a positive write up.  All opinions are my own.  Affiliate links included in this post.

Treat yourself to Chocolate Tiffin

Homemade chocolate tiffin, a delcious no-bake treat

Chocolate Tiffin is a no-bake biscuit cake, the kind of sweet treat that sells well at fairs and bake sales.  An essential ingredient for Chocolate Tiffin is a wheatmeal biscuit such as McVities Digestives to give the texture and crunch to the tiffin base.  This version is very rich and best cut into small squares of chocolatey goodness.

An easy to make no bake chocolate biscuit cake

There are many tiffin recipes, this one contains hazelnuts and dried figs. I love dried figs, but if they are not to your taste then any dried fruit would add a delicious sweet chewy texture, choose your own favourite.  You could also easily replace the hazelnuts with almonds or pecans or even peanuts.  

I changed the McVitie’s recipe slightly using a thicker layer of white chocolate on the top of the tiffin and using an additional 50g of hazelnuts to decorate the top.  It was totally delicious, but as it was so rich, we kept it in the fridge and have managed to restrain ourselves to make it last about 10 days!

Keep up to date with all the recipes from Farmersgirl Kitchen and more on Facebook, PinterestInstagram, Twitter and Flipboard. 

McVities Chocolate Tiffin
Serves 12
A rich and luscious no-bake chocolate biscuit/cookie cake, ideal for picnics and bake sales.
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  1. 250 g dark chocolate (minimum 70% cocoa solids)
  2. 200 g unsalted butter
  3. 2 tbsp golden syrup
  4. 200 g roasted shelled hazelnuts
  5. 200 g McVities's Digestives roughly chopped
  6. 150 g figs, chopped
  7. 200 g white chocolate
  1. Grease and line a 20cm square tin
  2. Melt the dark chocolate, golden syrup and butter in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water, stirring until well combined.
  3. Fold in 150g of the hazelnuts, McVitie's Digestives and figs.
  4. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin and press down firmly to remove any air bubbles, put in the fridge and leave to set for about 30 minutes
  5. Melt the white chocolate in a glass bowl over a pan of simmering water.
  6. Pour it over the chilled tiffin and spread evenly with a spatula or back of a spoon.
  7. Sprinkle over the remaining 50 g of chopped hazelnuts.
  8. Return to the fridge to set before cutting in to small pieces to serve.
  1. The figs can be replaced with other dried fruits, dried cherries would be a great choice.
  2. Instead of chopping the figs, cut them with scissors, it is much easier.
  3. In the USA, you can replace the McVitie's Digestives with Graham Crackers.
Farmersgirl Kitchen
I’m entering this McVities Chocolate Tiffin for Treat Petite, the linky for individual treats.  These little bites are certainly a treat.  This Linky is run by Cakeyboi and The Baking Explorer and hosted this month by Cakeyboi.Treat Petite Logo

It’s Afternoon Tea week at Lavender and Lovage and this is the theme for Tea Time Treats, a tea time linky run by Karen at Lavender and Lovage and her two new co-hosts  Travels for Taste and Jo’s Kitchen.   Cut carefully into squares and popped into petit four cases


And, of course, this is ideal for We Should Cocoa the chocolatey Linky run by Choclette at Tin & Thyme it’s ‘Anything Goes for the Holidays’.

Treat yourself to some sweet and crunchy chocolate tiffin

What is your favourite no-bake treat?

McVities provided me with the ingredients and recipe for Chocolate Tiffin, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 



Sauce it, Slice it, Store it, Review it!

My kitchen table is groaning with food, kitchen equipment and cook books again, so time for a review round up On My Kitchen Table!

Tortellini in Parmigiana Sauce with Spriralizer Courgettes

Doesn’t that look good?  Let me tell you it was absolutely delicious, but before you get the idea that I’m some kind of pasta master, making this Giovanni Rani tortellini is a simple as opening a pack and cooking it in boiling water, then warming the sauce and adding some sprializer courgettes (zucchini).  

delicious ready to cook pasta and sauces from Giovanni Rana

Giovanni Rana make deliciously authentic Italian sauces and fresh filled pasta and they recently launched two new sauces.  The first is Italian Indulgence Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce – silky in texture with an exciting and pleasing parmigiano kick that delights the taste buds. This sauce is made with authentic PDO Parmigiano-Reggiano and blended with cream for a full-flavoured sauce that remains a classic, indulgent dish both in Italy and the UK.


The Parmigiano-Reggiano Sauce is absolutely gorgeous, it really tastes homemade and could be served on it’s own with pasta, but I combined it with lightly steamed courghetti in one meal and with buttered sauteed leeks in another, so indulgent, so quick and so delicious!

The second is Italian Indulgence Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts & Garlic which captures the flavours that sit at the heart of the Italian repertoire: basil, extra virgin olive oil, pine nuts, a blend of hard cheeses and a touch of garlic. Giovanni Rana’s vibrant pesto is delightfully-coarse and contains whole pine nuts, for a rustic homemade finish and added crunch.

The Basil Pesto with Pine Nuts & Garlic (sorry no photos) is fresh tasting and an excellent texture.  Mix the basil pesto with spaghetti and halved cherry tomatoes for a quick and tasty meal.

Giovanni Rana Italian Indulgence Sauces cost between £1.97 – £2.49 which is excellent value for the quality of the product. Farmersgirl Kitchen Rating: 9/10

Precision Chef Knife collection

Edge of Belgravia is one of the world’s most innovative and bold chef knife brands. They produce futuristic designs by contemporary London designers, such as Christian Bird who designed the affordable quality Precision range.  The Precision design fuses the diamond-like facet shape handle with a unique and carefully conceived stainless steel blade, they are designed for precision cooking. You can read my previous review on the Complete Chef Knife Collection.  Now they have produced a Precision Four Piece extension set of Chef Knives.  


First up in the image below is new larger 19cm Chef’s Knife larger than their previous 15 cm version.  Excellent for slicing, chopping and mincing. The bigger the better as far as Chef Knives are concerned, this one is a useful mid-size. 

The 19 cm Bread Knife has been extended for the perfect brad slice.  We found it was still a bit too short for our home made bread but it cuts very well. 

The 19 cm Slicing Knife which has alternating scallops on both sides which reduce the drag on the knife and allowing you to produce paper thin slices.  I haven’t seen anything like this knife before, it really does cut very thin slices and doesn’t stick.

The 15cm Filleting Knife is a real chef’s tool, use it for filleting and boning , it was specifically requested by a number of London’t top chefs.  The right knife for the job is definitely a key to good cooking and this is a type of knife I haven’t owned before,  I haven’t had a chance to use it yet, but am looking forward to it making the difference to recipes that need the precision and a fine flexible blade. 

Edge of Belgravia

A great collection of knives

Edge of Belgravia Precision Knives Extension Set is now available through Bed, Bath and Beyond for £97.12  

Farmersgirl Kitchen Rating: 8/10

Easy Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins

Easy, Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins is all about eating for good health.  It’s packed full of everyday recipes all free from gluten, dairy, sugar, soya, eggs and yeast.


Pros: The recipes cover a wide range of different tastes, I really liked Tomato Smoked Paprika and Butterbean Soup, there are some lovely pate and dip recipes, One Pot Wonders and ‘Tray Bakes’ not the cake kind, but whole meals baked in the oven on a baking tray.  There are also some dehydrator recipes which I will definitely be trying.  

Cons: There isn’t a picture for every recipe which is something I prefer, however the photographs are very good and tempting.  Many of the recipes only serve 2, I know that it’s pretty simple to multiply up the recipe, but I did find it a bit off-putting as it’s not what I’m used to in a cook book. 

Easy Tasty Healthy HC

The Verdict:  The most impressive thing about this book, is that you wouldn’t even know that it was a ‘free from’ cook book.  There are lots of base recipes with variations too, which is always useful when you like to vary your ingredients as I do!

Easy, Tasty Healthy by Barbara Cousins is Published by Harper Collins (RRP £16.99)

Mason Jar Nation by Joann Moser

Something a little different this time as I review Mason Jar Nation.  It is not really a cook book but it  does contain recipes. What Joann Moser has done is bring together a whole host of ideas for using Mason Jars around the home and garden as well as in the kitchen. 


Pros: The book starts with the history of these iconic jars and then moves on to the Projects.  Some of my favourite Projects were the Lucky Bamboo Water Garden, The Tabletop Mason Jar Water Fountain, Pineapple Infused Vodka, Salad & Dressing To Go Jar, Triptych Twine Station and Moonbeam Stakes.  It’s full of inspiration and, with the technical information that goes with each project, you will soon be thinking of your own creative projects. 

Cons: For some of the projects you need to cut the glass and  use specialist equipment to punch holes in the lids.  They are not really suitable for children. 

 The Verdict: Crafters will be inspired by this book and cooks may see some new uses for the Mason Jars they use to store their preserves, all in all it’s a fun book. 

Mason Jar Nation by JoAnn Moser is published by Cool Springs Press (RRP £11.99). 

More information on the book can be found here.

I hope you enjoyed my reviews and found them useful. I received these products to review, I was not paid and all opinions are my own. 

How to make Blackcurrant Jam

This year has been particularly good for blackcurrants in my garden. We had a warm dry spell in early summer when the flowers were pollinated and ‘set’.   Since then we have had an awful lot of rain, not great for other things, but the blackcurrants absolutely love it and are nice and big and juicy and perfect for Blackcurrant Jam!

Picking Blackcurrants for jam making

Blackcurrants are high in pectin so it is a good jam to try if you are a beginner. The pectin is what makes the jam set, fruit like strawberries can be tricky to set, but blackcurrants are perfect for jam making, so if you have never made jam before please do give it a go.  Homemade jam is so delicious and nothing you buy can every match it. 

Blackcurrant Jam
Yields 1
Blackcurrant Jam has a deep fruity flavour, it's easy to make and a real taste of summer.
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  1. 450 g (1 lb) blackcurrants
  2. 450 ml (3/4 pint) water
  3. 550 g (1 1/4 lb) sugar
  1. Remove the stalks, then wash the fruit.
  2. Simmer gently with the water until the skins are really soft.
  3. Add the sugar
  4. Stir until dissoved
  5. Boil rapidly until setting point is reached.
  6. I suggest you boil for 15 minutes then test for set, if not set test again after 5 minutes.
  1. There are many methods of testing set, I put saucers or small plates in the fridge and drop a spoonful of jam onto the plate, leave in fridge for 5 minutes, if it wrinkles when you push it with your finger then it's ready. Remember to take the jam off the heat while testing. If it's not set then you can put it back on for 5 minutes.
Farmersgirl Kitchen
 For more information on jam making techniques, check out the Jam Mistress herself: Vivien Lloyd for tips on Mastering Preserves.

How to make Blackcurrant Jam

To make sure you don’t miss any of my recipes, subscribe by email (in the side bar on the right) or follow Farmersgirl Kitchen on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and Flipboard.

If you would like to make other kinds of jam and jelly here are a few ideas to expand your repertoire: 

Rhubarb and Ginger Jam – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

White Currant Jelly-Jam – Farmersgirl Kitchen 

Gooseberry Jam – Baking Queen 74

Easy Redcurrant and Port Jelly– Kavey Eats

Peach and Ice Wine Jam – Kavey Eats

Fig and Strawberry Jam – The Veg Space

Morello Cherry and Raspberry Jam – The Veg Space

Apricot and Vanilla Jam – Tin & Thyme

Easy Blackberry and Apple Jam– Fab Food 4 All

Quick One Punnet Strawberry Jam – Fab Food 4 All

Inheritance Recipes

I’m entering the Blackcurrant Jam for Inheritance Recipes, the Linky  run by Coffee & Vanilla and Pebble Soup to celebrate recipes passed down through the family.  I can remember picking blackcurrants with my Granny who then made Blackcurrant Jam.  My Mum is a very accomplished jam maker and I’ve yet to taste anything to better her Raspberry Jam.  

Blackcurrant Jam is perfect as a topping for fruit desserts

Blackcurrant Jam is perfect in desserts, I used it to top some fat free greek yogurt, nectarines and strawberries.  You can swirl it into yogurt too or make your own fruit corners.


Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

Summer Pudding is my all time favourite summer dessert.  All of those sweet berries oozing their juice through slices of thick white bread, oh my goodness it’s so delicious and these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies are super-delicious too.  

Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

When I picked blackcurrants last weekend, I didn’t have time to make a summer pudding. However,  I did make a fruit compote using the summer berries and it occurred to me that this might make a good ice lolly, and that’s how I created Summer Pudding Ice Lollies,  and they are a triumph!

Summer Pudding Ice Lollies
Yields 6
A summer berry compote frozen into a refreshing ice lolly or popsicle.
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  1. 100g Blackcurrants
  2. 200g Strawberries
  3. 100g Raspberries
  4. 50g Redcurrants
  5. 180g Sugar*
  1. Place the blackcurrants and redcurrants into a pan with the sugar and a tbsp of water.
  2. Heat gently until the sugar dissolves, the juice runs and the blackcurrants start to soften.
  3. Add the raspberries and strawberries and cook gently for 5 minutes more, you don't want to break up the fruit just soften it slightly.
  4. Take off the heat and cool a little, check the sweetness*, it needs to be sweeter than you need for eating as compote as the sweetness diminishes with freezing. If you need more sugar, add another tablespoonful and heat gently to dissolve.
  5. Leave until completely cold.
  6. Fill into lolly moulds and freeze until solid, preferably overnight.
  1. The quantities of currants and berries can be varied it's up to you, just check the sweetness. I didn't have any redcurrants so added more blackcurrants, you can also use frozen fruit in your compote, I used frozen raspberries. The yield of lollies is also dependant on the size of your lolly moulds. If you have some left over, it's lovely on greek yogurt for breakfast.
Farmersgirl Kitchen
 When I went outside to take the photographs I was thrilled to find that there were a couple of ripe strawberries on the plants in my pots, they added the perfect finishing touch!

Take luscious summer berries and make these Summer Pudding Ice Lollies

I really recommend that you get yourself some ice lolly moulds, it’s so easy to make lollies and they have so much more flavour and you know exactly what ingredients have gone into them.  If you like these lollies have a look at my Chocolate Dipped Mango Mousse Ice Lollies. 

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream Badge

Bloggers Scream for Ice Cream is running again this month and Kavey Eats has chosen ‘dairy-free’ as the theme.  There is nothing but fruit, sugar and a little water in these ice lollies so I think they are perfect for this challenge. 

Summer Pudding Ice Lolly or Popsicle

What is your favourite summer dessert?  Would it make a good ice lolly?  Let me know, I’m always looking for inspiration!

How to make Soft Cheese and other Alchemy

When I posted a photo this homemade soft cheese on social media, someone described it as alchemy and, in a way, it is.  

One of the definitions of alchemy is: “a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination” and making soft cheese is a transformation of liquid milk into solid cheese.

Home made soft cheese

The good news is that making soft cheese at home is really simple especially if you use the Lekue Cheese Maker.  There are no moving parts, it’s simply a perfectly-sized bowl with it’s own strainer to let the whey run off the cheese.

Lekue Cheese Maker

The Lekue Cheese Maker usually costs £19.90, however it is currently on sale at £15.92 at the Lekue online store.  While it’s not essential for making the soft cheese, it certainly makes it a lot easier. 

Lekue Soft Cheese
A simple soft cheese made with milk, it's a little bit of alchemy!
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  1. 1 litre milk
  2. 2tbsp lemon juice or 1 tbsp + 1 tsp vinegar
  3. OR
  4. 750 ml milk
  5. 375 g natural yogurt
  1. To make the cheese there are two options, the first is to add lemon or vinegar to the milk, the other is to add natural yogurt.
  2. Heat the mixture in the microwave 12-14 minutes at 800W (90C/194F) and the milk separates.
  3. Leave the mixture to cool for 30 minutes then add salt or sugar to taste and pour into the strainer letting the whey drain away.
  4. Put the strainer back into the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, then you can turn the cheese out onto a plate.
Farmersgirl Kitchen
  Cracker with homemade soft cheese and herbs

Cheese making is not the only alchemy in my kitchen, I’ve also been using my Optimum  P200 Dehydrator to dehydrate tomatoes and make ‘sun-dried’ tomatoes in olive oil.

Dehydrating Tomatoes

Making the ‘sun’ dried tomatoes in the dehydrator is really easy.  This is the time of year when you can get really good ripe tomatoes more cheaply and we were really impressed by the concentrated tomato flavour.  

I sliced the tomatoes so they would dry more quickly, but if you are prepared to wait you can dehydrate quarters or halves, or little grape tomatoes.  Timing is variable depending on the tomatoes,  I ran my dehydrator for 12 hours at 57C.  I then packed the dried tomatoes into a jar with some whole peeled cloves of garlic and fresh basil leaves and filled the jar with oil.  

Soft Cheese and Sundried Tomato Bruschetta

I left the jar for about two weeks before opening and the result is totally delicious. The oil takes on the tomato, garlic and basil flavour making it ideal to brush onto olive bread then toast to make the bruschetta base.  

Then I simply topped the bread with cubes of homemade soft cheese, the slices of dried tomatoes, a little fresh basil and then drizzled it all with more of the oil from the jar, it was just gorgeous.


Note and Disclaimer (viz a viz Clostridium Botulinum)

It’s vital when you cure vegetables in olive oil that you thoroughly clean the jar itself as well as all the ingredients and utensils used in the preparation. My friend  at Christina’s Cucina tells me her family have  been curing and pickling vegetables for many years without any health issues.  However, many food safety authorities advise against preserving tomatoes and garlic in oil due the risk of bacterial contamination and proliferation of spores, especially clostridium botulinum, which could be fatal.

I will still be making small quantities but eating within a few days.

Herb and flower dehydrating

My Optimum P200 Dehydrator has been put to  good use recently, with rose petals and herbs from my garden filling the trays.  Again the time for dehydration varies, the rose petals took around 6 hours, the rosemary which has quite a fleshy leaf took around 14 hours. 

Bruschetta with homemade cheese and sun dried tomatoes in olive oil

Disclosure: Froothie UK sent me the Optimum P200 Dehyrator to use and review at home. I have not been paid for this post and was not required to give the Optimum P200 Dehydrator a positive write up.  All opinions are my own.  Affiliate links included in this post and if you buy the dehydrator via the link I will receive a small payment, but the product will not cost you any more.

Spiralizer Salads and Nourishing Noodles

Do you Spiralize? Spiralizers have swept in as the ‘must have’ gadget for the trend of ‘clean’ eating and healthy eating, spiralizer ‘courghetti’ and sweet potato ‘noodles’ have even made it into the supermarket ready prepared vegetable section.   

Spiralizer Review

As a confirmed kitchen gadget-obsessive, I bought a spiralizer early on, it was a Japanese version and, while it did make vegetable spirals, somehow I never really got on with it.

 I was delighted when I saw that OXO Good Grips were bringing out a spiralizer, as I have always found their kitchen kit to be well designed and to do what you expect without too much fuss.

OXO Good Grips Spiralizer

Oxo Good Grips actually have two different spiralizers, there is this full size version which has three different blades so you can choose from spaghetti cut, fettucine cut or ribbon cut noodles.

 The Sprializer is well designed, as I would expect from OXO Good Grips, it’s easy to put together and has a plastic storage box for the blades.  Here is a summary of my thoughts: 

  • Best for large quantities of vegetables
  • Good for larger vegetables or round fruit and vegetables e.g. apples, beetroot
  • The suction cup doesn’t work at all on my wooden worksurface and isn’t 100% effective on a smooth surface either, however this didn’t stop it functioning.
  • The blades are very sharp, be careful when you are cleaning them, I cut my finger.
  • Cost: £40.00

Farmersgirl Kitchen rating: 8/10

Hand Held Sprializer

Then there is the Hand-Held Spiralizer which is a neat little gadget, I found it very simple to use, makes one type of noodle, slightly thicker than the spaghetti cut however the noodles hold together in their curls really well.

  • Best for long thin vegetables like carrots and courgettes (zucchini)
  • Really easy to use and store, no set up, just pick it up and use
  • Blade is concealed and less dangerous for fingers
  • Quite hard work with harder vegetables, so better for smaller quantities, brilliant with courgettes and cucumber though
  • Cost: £15.00

Farmersgirl Kitchen rating: 9/10

Nourishing Noodles by Chris Anca

Vegetable and Fruit Noodles made with a Spiralizer are a great way to reduce carbohydrates and create quick and easy meals packed with nutrients.

Chris Anca of Tales of a Kitchen has written Nourishing Noodles to show us how to transform ordinary produce into a delicious bowl of noodles and dress it with sauces, dressings and  any of your favourite add ins.

Pros: There are a good range of recipes, mostly fairly simple to make.  Nourishing Noodles also provides information about how to spiralize, what to spiralize and what equipment to choose. The photographs are very tempting and give you an idea of what to aim for.  

Cons: Many of the recipes have a long list of ingredients with different vegetables and fruits for the noodles and then more ingredients for the dressings or toppings.  As long as you don’t mind collecting together all the ingredients, they are generally easily available and pack the recipes with flavour.

The Verdict: I found this book a great inspiration for creating my own spiralized recipes, it’s easy to replace one veg with another and the dressing ideas are really delicious.  Well worth a place on the shelf and great for anyone starting out with spiralizing. 

Nourishing Noodles: Sprialize nearly 100 plant-based recipes for Zoodles, Ribbons and Vegetable Spirals, by Chris Anca.  Published by Race Point and imprint of Quatro Publishing Group RRP: £14.99

Heirloom Carrot Noodle Salad with Mustard Avocado Dressing
Serves 2
A crunchy carrot salad with a delicious piquant dressing.
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  1. 3 large heirloom carrots, thin spirals
  2. (1 yellow, 1 orange and 1 purple carrot)
  1. 1/2 avocado
  2. 1 tbsp Homemade Mustard
  3. 1/2 cup (80ml) cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  4. 2 tbsp raw apple cider vinegar
  5. 1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
  6. `/3 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  7. 1 pinch chilli flakes
  1. 1 small handful roughly chopped cilantro (coriander)
  2. 2 tbsp Turmeric Dukkah
  3. 1 small handful alfalfa sprouts
  1. Place carrot noodles in a large bowl.
  2. Place all dressing ingredients in a blender and process until smooth
  3. Add dressing to the noodles and toss until thoroughly coated.
  4. Top with cilantro, turmeric dukkah and alfalfa sprouts, and serve
  1. Now here's where this book is great as an inspirational resource, I didn't have any heritage carrots, so used two ordinary orange carrots and 2 small apples,
  2. I didn't have time to make the homemade mustard so used a tsp of Dijon mustard.
  3. I didn't use the Turmeric Dukkah either, but it was still absolutely delicious, so with all Chris's ingredients it is bound to be outstanding.
Adapted from Nourishing Noodles
Adapted from Nourishing Noodles
Farmersgirl Kitchen
 Sprializer Inspiration

Here are a few pictures of other vegetable noodles I’ve been making.  Courghetti with the Hand Held Sprializer,  Thin Carrot noodles and Sweet Potato Fettuccine made with the table top Sprializer.  These spiralizer vegetables are perfect in a stir fry or as a substitute for pasta.

Ravioli with Courghetti

A single courgette spiralized with the Hand Held Spiralizer, was a perfect addition to Giovanni Rana ready made, chilled ravioli and Parmigiano Reggiano sauce (more about this coming soon).


Farmersgirl Kitchen on Pinterest

Strawberry Shortcake

Summer Strawberry Shortcake

What better way to celebrate summer than with a delicious homemade Strawberry Shortcake?  I absolutely love a fresh crumbly scone layered up with strawberry jam, fresh cream and strawberries. 

Strawberry Shortcake is a classic American dessert as well as an annoyingly twee little pink cartoon character, search online and you will see what I mean.  I did a little research online and it soon became obvious that ‘shortcake’, in this context, is simply a sweet scone.  So if you can make scones, you can make Strawberry Shortcake!

Freshly baked scones on the cooling rack 


I know some people struggle to make good scones, so here is a little help: 


  • Rubbing the fat into the flour is best done by hand, but if I have a large batch to make I do use my stand mixer or sometimes a food processor.
  • Never add the liquid in the mixer or food processor (unless you are really expert) as this is likely to overwork the dough, add it slowly and bring together the dough first with a knife and then with your hands.
  • Never knead the dough, just bring it together pressing a little until it’s smooth.
  • There’s no need to roll  out the dough, just pat it down.
  • The height of the uncooked dough should be about half what you want for your finished scone, so cut them thick.
  • Never twist your cutter when cutting out the scone, it stops it from rising properly.
  • Make sure your oven is really hot before putting the scones in to bake.

Strawberry Shortcake Recipe

Strawberry Shortcake
Yields 4
A sweet scone type shortcake filled with strawberry jam, sliced strawberries and cream.
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Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
  1. For the Shortcake
  2. 225g self-raising flour
  3. 1 tsp baking powder
  4. 50g soft butter
  5. 25g caster (superfine) sugar
  6. 1 egg
  7. milk
  8. 1 tbsp granulated sugar
  9. For the filling
  10. 2 tbsp strawberry jam
  11. 12 strawberries
  12. 150ml double (heavy) cream whipped (or 100g clotted cream)
  1. Heat the oven to 220C
  2. Line a baking tray with parchment paper.
  3. Put the flour and baking powder in a bowl, add the butter and chop it into the flour, then rub the butter into the flour with your fingertips, until it looks like breadcrumbs, add the caster sugar.
  4. Crack the egg into a jug or other measure and beat with a fork, add milk up to 150ml.
  5. Gradually add this mixture to the flour bringing the liquid and flour together into a soft dough, you may need a little less or a little more depending on your flour.
  6. Pat the dough out to about 1.25cm (1/2 inch)
  7. Cut into rounds with an 85 mm (3 1/4 in) cutter and place on the baking tray
  8. Brush the tops of the scones with milk, or the milk/egg mix if you have any left.
  9. Sprinkle with granulated sugar
  10. Bake for about 10 minutes until the scones are pale golden brown.
  11. Remove from the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack.
  12. To assemble
  13. Take one cooled scone per person
  14. Split the scones in half
  15. Spread strawberry jam on the base of the scones and place on the serving plate
  16. Top with a spoonful of whipped or clotted cream
  17. Set aside 4 of the best strawberries (preferably quite small) for the top of the shortcake
  18. Slice 8 of the strawberries and sprinkle with a teaspoon of caster sugar and 1/4 tsp lemon juice
  19. Divide the strawberry slices between the four scones
  20. Place the top of the scone over the strawberries
  21. Add a small spoonful of cream and top with a small whole strawberry.
  1. If you don't have time to make scones, you can always buy some good quality scones and layer them up with jam, cream and strawberries.
Farmersgirl Kitchen
 You could, of course, make one single large Strawberry Shortcake.  For this, you would make two larger circles, use a small plate as a template, leave one circle whole and cut the other into wedges, once baked these will sit on top of the strawberries and cream. 

Here are some other strawberry dessert ideas you might like to try:

raw strawberry coconut macaroons

Raw Strawberry Coconut Macaroons – Planet Veggie






Sensational Strawberry Pavlova



Sensational Strawberry Pavlova – Farmersgirl Kitchen 






Strawberry Mousse



Strawberry Mousse – Farmersgirl Kitchen 







Strawberry Blancmange


Vegetarian Strawberry Blancmange – Tin & Thyme






Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Cake



Strawberry and Dark Chocolate Ice Cream Cake – Simply Food






And one last look at the Strawberry Shortcake


Strawberry Shortcake