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Four Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Four Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Blueberry muffins . . .  who doesn't love them!  I adore them, but baking a full dozen muffins isn't practical anymore for just Todd and myself. Oh yes, I could freeze them, but to  be honest I think that when it comes to fruit muffins, they just aren't the same after having been frozen, or is that just me??

I think they go a bit soggy after being frozen, and if there is something that I really don't enjoy on this earth, it is a soggy muffin.

Moist and tender muffins, yes . . .  I enjoy them.  But not soggy muffins.  Who does?  Put your hand up. 

Uh huh  . . .  I didn't think many of you would.  So in my quest for smaller batch recipes today I created a small-batch blueberry muffin. It makes four perfect blueberry muffins. No more no less.

And when I say perfect, I mean truly perfect.  With a lovely tender crumb  . . .

Delicately flavoured with fragrant lemon zest . . .  and studded with plenty of fat blueberries . . .

And topped with a lemon demerara sugar crunch  . . .  mmmm . . . perfect. (Demerara sugar is the same as turbinado sugar, or granulated coffee sugar.)

Feel free to use frozen berries.  Just make sure you don't thaw them before using and dry them with some paper towels before folding them into the batter.

True confessions, I like to stick a few extra ones in the tops of the muffins prior to sprinkling with the sugar and baking  . . .

You don't need to use muffin papers . . . so long as you butter/grease the pans really well.  I used papers because I have lots of pretty papers and I like using them.

Just look at the beautiful texture of that muffin . . .  its perfect  . . . .

And there are just enough blueberries  . . .  you wouldn't want any more, and you definitely wouldn't want less.  In short, these truly are four perfect blueberry muffins!

Four Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Four Perfect Blueberry Muffins

Yield: 4
Four beautiful blueberry muffins, stogged with berries and lemon zest flavour, plus a lemon sugar crunch on top.  Delicious and perfect for the smaller family.


For the lemon sugar crunch:
  • the finely grated zest of 1/2 unwaxed lemon
  • 1 TBS demerara sugar (turbinado)
For the muffins:
  • 105g plain flour (3/4 cup)
  • 45g caster sugar (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 60ml whole fat milk
  • 1 large free range egg, at room temperature
  • the finely grated zest of 1/2 waxed lemon
  • 3 TBS melted butter, cooled
  • 70g fresh or frozen blueberries (1/2 cup) (if using frozen, do not thaw and dry before folding them into the batter)


How to cook Four Perfect Blueberry Muffins

  1. Preheat the oven to 170*C/325*F/ gas mark 3.  Line 4 muffin cups with paper.  Set aside.
  2. Stir together the demerara sugar and lemon zest.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and soda.  Stir in the sugar and lemon zest.  Whisk together the milk, egg, and melted butter.  Add to the dry ingredients and stir just to combine.  Fold in the blueberries.  It should be lumpy. Divide this mixture between the four muffin cups.  Divide the lemon sugar between the muffins, sprinkling it on top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 to 25 minutes, rotating the tin halfway through the bake time.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #EnglishKitchen
Created using The Recipes Generator

What is your favourite type of muffin?  Are there any recipes in general that you would like to see/try downsized for a smaller family!  Just leave me a comment and I will see what I can do.  Happy Saturday! 

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Marie Rayner
How to Crack the January Blah's

How to Crack the January Blah's

Ahhh January.  The first month of the year.  All of the festivities of Christmas are over. You may  have made  New Year's resolutions and (in all likelihood) already broken them. All of the exuberance that you started the fresh page of a New Year with might be waning  . . .

I call it the January blah's  . . .  this January has been particularly difficult on us for one reason or another.  Many days I have felt my resolution to do better wavering.   Like my weekend was never going to come.  Day after day of rain.  Hits that don't stop coming  . . .  call it the blah's or the blue's, its the same thing.  Towards the end of January I always feel in deep need of a huge pick-me-up! 

And then this arrived.  Mail.  Post.  A delightful package.  I had almost forgotten that I had this to look forward to and then it was there.  

Todd said to me, "What did you order now?"  I could honestly respond that I didn't remember ordering anything and then I opened the box and it came back to me.  CHOCOLATE!   And not just any chocolate, but an apologetically indulgent creation which combines the art of French Patisserie (Pati) with fine Belgian Chocolate Ganache (Coco). You can't get much better than this.  My mood instantly lifted. Pati & Coco, indulgent little pots of chocolate deliciousness.

I mean, what woman doesn't appreciate chocolate?  Not this one!  That's who. I love, Love, LOVE chocolate and when it comes in  decadent looking and sounding little pots, so much the better.

Not so large that you have to feel guilty in indulging, but large enough to know that you are having a treat just when you need one!! 

 Let's face it occasionally we just want or need a treat, and for me getting through to almost the end of January this year has been quite an accomplishment!  These new divine multi-layered, multi-textured chocolate desserts are just what I needed, body and soul.  There is everything in them to help stimulate my senses, my happy centre, pure and indulgent chocolate bliss.

This fabulously tasty experience starts as soon as you crack through the signature layer of fine tempered chocolate on top, down into the patisserie folds of luscious ganache and delicious sheets of chocolate beneath, ending with a satisfyingly crunchy biscuit layer at the base.


 There are four tasty flavours available and I got to try each one.  I know  . . .  its a hard job but somebody has to do it!

Caramel & Choc - Belgian chocolate ganache, caramel ganache, and crumbled chocolate praline biscuit beneath a cracking chocolate layer. 

Pati & coco

Praline & Choc - Belgian chocolate ganache, chocolate praline ganache and crumbled chocolate praline biscuit beneath a cracking chocolate layer.

Pati & COCO

Pistachio & Choc - Belgian chocolate ganache, pistachio  ganache, crumbled chocolate praline biscuit beneath a cracking chocolate layer.

Pati & coco

Ganache & Choc - Belgian Chocolate ganache, crumbled chocolate praline biscuit beneath a cracking chocolate layer.  

Each comes in a pack of two, chilled and layered in individual glasses, ready to indulge your senses and enjoy.  I tried hard to pick a favourite.  (Yes, I tasted each one.)  All were rich.  All were delicious. all were incredibly indulgently rewarding and fabulously tasty. I could not pick just one . . .  but I am partial to Pistachio nuts . . .  then again I do so love caramel anything.  Chocolate  . . .  oh boy.  I can't pick just one. 

Its a good thing I don't have to!  They were each one a totally satisfying experience from the moment I cracked my spoon down through that crisp chocolate coating into those fabulously tasty ganache centres, and those praline biscuits on the bottom . . .  just WOWSA!  A sophisticated feast for the senses that is perfectly sized just for you.  Perfect for when you want a moment to yourself.   Crack into the pleasure because . . .  not to coin a phrase or anything . . .  You're worth it.

Available to purchase from Sainsbury's  with an RSP of £3.50 for two pots.

*To be enjoyed as part of a balanced diet. 

Now that I've just about cracked  the January blah's  I say, bring on February.  I can do this! 

Note - I was sent product for review, but  not required to write an honest and positive review in exchange.  I simply call it like it is.
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Marie Rayner
Gremolata Baked Cod

Gremolata Baked Cod

I think of all the fishes in the sea, Cod is my favourite and I have to say that we have beautiful Cod here in the UK.  I first tasted it when I had come over to  meet Todd in person for the first time back in the year 2000.  We had been chatting on line for about six months and decided it was time to meet for real. I had always wanted to come to the UK and had a bit of money saved and so I decided to come over here.  When I think about it now, it was rather brave of me!

We spent 3 weeks getting to know each other in person before deciding to get married. I returned to Canada to get the necessary visas and the rest of the story is history.

While I was here for those three weeks I spent the nights at a friend from our church's house. I did not want to be a bother and so I either cooked for Todd and I myself each day or we ate out.  I had never experienced English Fish and Chips for real, so one night Todd decided to get us Cod and chips for our tea.

He rode his bike down to the local chippy and got it in for us.  I had never seen such big pieces of fish.   Each piece was so enormous it overlapped both sides of the plate, and it was absolutely beautiful.  Love at first bite.  I say.  Love at first bite.  I have been in love with British Cod ever since.

I always get my fish from an on line fish monger, Seafresh Quality Foods. I have to tell say I have always been  thoroughly impressed with this company's service and the quality of their fish. Everything has always been just beautiful.Their Cod Loins are exceptional.  Sustainably sourced from the cold waters of the North Atlantic, they are meaty and sweet and beautifully white in colour.

I had actually planned on sharing this recipe with you on Friday, but we are in a bit of a mess here today.  We are getting rid of our large china cabinet and they weren't supposed to come and pick it up until Friday, but ended up they are coming today, and so I wasn't able to cook anything new for you and so am falling back on Friday's plans.

This is another of my cooking for two sized recipes, but it will also very easily double to feed more. 

Cod loins are seasoned with salt and then swished in a mix of lemon juice, white wine, olive oil and garlic before being placed on a buttered baking tray.

Bread crumbs are then mixed with some herbs, lemon zest and olive oil and sprinkled on top.  I used Panko bread crumbs because I love their light crispness.

The fish is then baked in a hot oven for a short time (15 - 20 minutes) until the crumbs are golden brown and the fish flakes easily with a fork.

The length of time depends on the thickness of your fish. My pieces were quite thick.

As you can see it was perfectly cooked . . .  and oh so delicious.

I served it with roasted beetroot, sweet potatoes and sauteed garlic spinach for the win!

Yield: 2

Gremolata  Baked Cod

Gremolata  Baked Cod

Oven baked cod loins with a crisp gremolata breadcrumb topping.  Quick, easy and delicious


  • 2 thick cod loin portions
  • 3 TBS olive oil
  • salt and black pepper to taste
  • the juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 60ml white wine (1/4 cup)
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and minced finely
  • 70g panko bread crumbs (1/4 cup)
  • the finely grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 TBS chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • lemon wedges to serve (optional)


How to cook Gremolata  Baked Cod

  1. Preheat the oven to 200*C/400*F/ gas mark 6. Line a baking tray with some aluminium foil and butter the foil. Sprinkle the cod fillets lightly with salt all over and pat it in.
  2. Combine 1 1/2 TBS of the olive oil, white wine,lemon juice and 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a bowl, whisking well together.  Add the minced garlic.
  3. Moisten the fish on both sides in this mixture, then place on the baking tray.
  4. Mix together the bread crumbs, lemon zest, parsley, oregano, red pepper flakes,  1/4 tsp salt, some pepper and the remaining olive oil.  Divide the crumb mixture between both cod fillets, lightly pressing it onto the tops of them.
  5. Bake in the preheated oven , uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes, until the crumbs are golden brown and the cod flakes easily when probed with the tines of a fork.
  6. Serve hot with lemon wedges for squeezing, if desired.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #EnglishKitchen
Created using The Recipes Generator

Just look at how nicely cooked that fish is.  This was one very beautiful piece of fish, thanks to Seafresh.
A few things about Seafresh:
  • Same Day dispatch on orders received before 1 PM.
  • All packages are carefully hand packed.
  • Free delivery on orders above £50, £8 on orders below that amount. 
  • Responsibly and sustainably sourced.
  • Air Blast Frozen at source within 4 hours of being caught.
  • Wide variety to choose from. 
Do check them out on their website to find out more.
Follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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Marie Rayner
World's Best Mac & Cheese for two

World's Best Mac & Cheese for two

One of my favourite things to make and eat is macaroni and cheese.  I like to make it from scratch, using cheese that I have grated myself, and a rich homemade sauce.

I call this the World's Best and it is not a claim that I make lightly. It truly is (in my opinion) the World's Best.

I have tried many, many different recipes. I love it done the old fashioned way which is pure and unadulterated, nothing but cooked macaroni, milk, chunks of cheese and lots of butter.


Seasoned with salt and pepper and baked until the milk is almost absorbed by the macaroni and there are gooey patches of delicious cheese scattered throughout . . . it is simple, old fashioned, and really, really good.

This is not that mac and cheese.  This on involves making a rich cheese sauce, which then gets layered in a baking dish along with cooked macaroni and more grated cheese.

Surprisingly the cheese sauce is created with a mix of chicken stock and milk, which adds a depth of flavour and richness that I have never found in other cheese sauces.

I also use a combination of cheeses.  Crumbly and rich strong cheddar  . . . .

Nutty and sweet Gruyere cheese, which has beautiful melting properties and provides a lovely ooze factor (this is a type of Swiss Cheese) . . .

Red Leicester Cheese which is mild and creamy and bright orange in colour. You can use more cheddar if you like, but choose a coloured one.

And finally grated Parmesan Cheese . . .  salty and piquant . . .

The three together are an unbeatable combination, which gets used partially in the sauce . . .

As well as being layered between the macaroni and the sauce.  Mmmm . . . .

I top it with a mix of the cheeses and some dry bread crumbs.  Today I used Panko Japanese Bread Crumbs.  This provides a lovely layer of crunch.

You don't want the macaroni to be crunchy . . .  but you do want a nice element of crunch on the top.  Well, I do anyways.

Today I added some strips of partially cooked streaky bacon . . .  I mean, bacon . . .  you can't go wrong.

However if you want to keep it totally without meat, then just leave the bacon off.  Its not something I do all the time anyways, but I had it today and so I added it.

Yield: 2


World's Best Mac & Cheese for two

prep time: cook time: total time:
Nothing says comfort quite like macaroni and cheese. This is, in my opinion, the very best version!  I have downsized it for two people.


  • 225g of macaroni (2 cups)
  • 2 TBS butter
  • 1 1/2 TBS plain flour
  • 240ml hot chicken broth (1 cup)
  • 120ml  milk (1/2 cup)
  • 60g  shredded Gruyere cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 60g  shredded red Leicester cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 60g cup shredded strong cheddar cheese (1/2 cup)
  • 3 TBS freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • a dash of Tabasco sauce
For topping:
  • a bit of Parmesan, Cheddar, Gruyere and red Leicester cheese grated and mixed together with a few bread crumbs


How to cook World's Best Mac & Cheese for two

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a large shallow casserole dish and set aside.
  2. Grate all your cheeses and mix them together in a bowl. Set aside.
  3. Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil and add the macaroni. Cook according to the package directions, draining it while it is still a tad bit undercooked. Drain it well and rise with cold water. Set aside.
  4. Make the sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour, mixing well and allow to cook for about a minute. Add the chicken broth, whisking it in vigorously until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Whisk in the milk. Heat thoroughly. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese mixture until it is well melted and amalgamated. Season to taste with black pepper and tabasco sauce.
  5. Place about 1/3 of the cooked macaroni in the buttered dish. Pour over 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the reserved cheese. Repeat layering until you finish up with the final 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the top with a final layer of the cheese bits mixed with the bread crumbs.
  6. Bake in the heated oven until nicely browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and enjoy!


If you can't get Red Leicester cheese, just use cheddar in its place. Gruyere can be substituted with Swiss cheese. Place your baking dish on a baking tray as it can bubble over.

Did you make this recipe?
Tag @marierayner5530 on instagram and hashtag it #EnglishKitchen
Created using The Recipes Generator

Altogether this is pretty fabulous.  Wonderfully down-sized for just two. A simple make.  All you need on the side is some salad and a crusty loaf.  Perfection at its best. 

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Marie Rayner

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