Girl Versus Food

Reviews, recipes and thoughts from a Scottish food blogger

Category: Recipes (page 2 of 2)

Recipes that have been tried, tested and tweaked by me.

DIY Afternoon Tea and Homemade Scones Recipe

“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” – Henry James

Afternoon tea is the best! Dainty sandwiches, scones and cakes. And if you’re really lucky, some fizz. What’s not to love? Have you ever thought about giving it a go at home? Read on for my guide to DIY afternoon tea.

Plan the décor for your afternoon tea; some bunting, a table cloth and some gorgeous fresh flowers will really help to set the scene.

A cute idea is to decorate some plain teacups and saucers with the names of your guests. I did this using fine permanent markers. The result is dry to the touch but will wash off with warm soapy water.

Personalised tea cup

In terms of sandwich fillings, have a think about what your guests would like most. Are they into classics like smoked salmon, cucumber and  ham and mustard? Or how about something alternative like pulled pork or cranberry and brie? Choose good quality bread and always butter before adding filling to your sandwich as the butter acts as a barrier to stop the bread getting soggy. Of course, make sure you trim the crusts off and serve everything on a tiered cake stand.


Whilst it’s great if some of your offerings are homemade, it’s totally acceptable not to bake all of the cakes yourself. You don’t want to have to spend three days in the kitchen beforehand! Focus on what you’re good at. If cupcakes are your forte make them; the rest can be bought in. Some of my favourite cakes to see at afternoon tea are Battenberg, choux buns or profiteroles, cupcakes, individual cheesecakes, mini Victoria sponges, custard tarts, chocolate brownies, macaroons and fondant fancies.

Scones are a must at afternoon tea (especially with clotted cream and jam!). Here’s my failsafe scone recipe:


225g self-raising flour

1 tsp baking powder

Pinch of salt

25g caster sugar

50g slightly softened butter

150ml milk

1 beaten egg



  1. Pre-heat your oven to 220C.
  2. Sieve the flour and baking powder into a bowl. Stir in the sugar and salt.
  3. Add the butter and rub into the flour, creating a fine breadcrumb consistency.
  4. Add the milk, a bit at a time and work with your hands until it forms a smooth dough. You might not need all of the milk.
  5. Put the dough in the fridge for 15 minutes.
  6. Lightly flour your worktop and roll out the dough to about 2cm thick. Cut out your scones with a round cutter size of your choice. Press the cutter straight down, don’t twist or wiggle it as this will make the scone rise unevenly.
  7. Place the scones on a greased baking tray and brush the tops with the beaten egg.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden-brown.




I’d love to see some pictures of your DIY Afternoon Tea, you can tweet them to me @girlversusfood

Monkfish with Smoky Aubergine Puree

I’d been wanting to cook a monkfish dish for ages and when I came across this Tom Keridge recipe I knew it was ‘The One’. You need to start this recipe the night before but it’s definitely worth it! I found this dish ideal to enjoy on a Friday night because it doesn’t leave you feeling too full to enjoy a couple of glasses of wine afterwards and it was a big hit with Mr GvF. Read on for my step by step guide.


INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

2 large aubergines

2 tbsp cumin seeds

2 tbsp coriander seeds

olive oil

100ml double cream

2 lemons, zest of 1, juice of both

salt and pepper for seasoning

450g of monkfish tail, skin removed

2 tbsp of butter

100g green olives

1 tbsp drained capers

4 salt packed anchovies

1 red chilli

2 tbsp of chopped flat leaf parsley




1. This part I found strangely fun! You want to char the skin of the aubergines to impart a smoky flavour into the flesh. Light two rings on your gas hob and place the aubergines directly into the flames. Use tongs to keep turning them, it should take 5 to 10 minutes to get the outside of the aubergines nice and charred.Cooking aubergine

2. Put the aubergines into an oven preheated to 180C and bake for 35 minutes then leave to cool.

3. Once the aubergines have cooled, cut in half and scoop out the flesh. Be careful not to get any of the burnt skin stuck to the flesh.smoky aubergines

4. Chop up the aubergine flesh with a sharp knife until it forms a puree. Don’t be tempted to use a blender as this will allow the moisture to soak into the flesh when we actually want to get rid of the moisture.

5. Put the aubergine puree into a sieve over a bowl and leave to drain overnight in the fridge.

6. About an hour before you’re ready to eat, take the monkfish tail out of the fridge. The monkfish has one large bone running down the middle. Using a sharp knife cut the flesh off the bone so that you have two equally sized fillets.

7. Sprinkle salt over both sides of the fish fillets and leave them to come up to room temperature.

8. You can make the dressing at this stage by chopping the anchovies, olives, chilli and capers. Mix them up in a bowl along with the parsley, a tablespoon of olive oil and the juice of one and a half lemons. Season with salt and pepper.

9. With whole spices you really need to heat them to get the full flavour. Put the coriander and cumin seeds in an overproof pan and cook them in a preheated oven at 180C for 10 minutes, shaking them around half-way through.

10. Grind the seeds up in a pestle and mortar to form a fine powder.

11. Heat a little olive oil in a medium sized pan and add one and a half tablespoons of the spice mixture. Cook for 2 minutes and then add the aubergine flesh.

12. Cook for another 2 minutes then add the double cream, the lemon zest and the juice of half a lemon. Season with salt and pepper, stir well and set aside.

13. Wipe any excess salt off the fish and then sprinkle over what’s left of the spice mix.

14. Heat a little olive oil in a frying pan and cook the fish for 6 – 8 minutes, turning regularly to ensure the spices don’t burn. Melt the butter in a small dish in the microwave. Monkfish, like steak, should be left to rest after cooking. Spoon the butter over the fish and leave to rest in a warm place for 5 minutes.

15. Reheat the aubergine puree and put a few generous spoonfuls on each plate. Slice up the monkfish and place on the plate. Spoon over the dressing you made earlier.

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Food Gifts Part 2: Shimmering Santa Vodka and Bramble Gin

Seeing as it’s the season of goodwill, I’m giving you a 2 for 1 in this post. A BOGOF from Girl Versus Food! Read on for my two flavoured spirit recipes which make fantastic homemade gifts.

My Shimmering Santa Vodka tastes like Christmas with cranberries, clementine zest and cinnamon. The perfect winter warmer.

My Bramble Gin isn’t strictly festive, but anyone you give this to will think all their Christmases have come at once! It’s inspired by my favourite cocktail; the Bramble and is made with blackberries, lemon zest and vanilla.

You don’t have to use premium spirits to make these but I would recommend steering clear of the cheap and nasty stuff otherwise you will taste it in the finished product.


500ml vodka
100g of dried cranberries
1 cinnamon stick
Zest of 5 clementines
1tsp edible gold glitter

500ml gin
250g of frozen blackberries
Zest of 2 lemons
1 vanilla pod, sliced open

METHOD (same for both recipes)
1. Pour the alcohol into plastic storage container with an airtight lid.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients and put the lid on.
3. Leave for one week, giving it a little shake each day.
4. Pass the mixture through a fine sieve into a jug.
5. Sterilise some pretty bottles, I like the Kilner flip top bottles. To sterilise you can use a dishwasher on a high setting. I don’t have a dishwasher so I washed the bottles with hot soapy water and then covered loosely with tin foil and placed in the oven for 30 mins at 170C
6. Pour into the sterilised bottles and decorate with a ribbon and label.
7. For the shimmering vodka add your edible glitter.


Foodies100 Index of UK Food Blogs
Morphy Richards

Food Gifts Part 1: Chocolate Peanut Butter Fudge

This peanut butter chocolate fudge tastes so good that it almost hurts to give it away, but believe me the recipient will feel very, very special.

I’ve made lots of variants of this fudge recipe which is adapted from Lorraine Pascale’s. Some of my other favourites have been White Chocolate, Baileys, Choc Orange and Real Rum & Raisin. The only limit for flavours is your imagination! It always turns out great and is easier than most fudge recipes as you don’t need to mess about with sugar thermometers. It literally takes twenty minutes from start to finish. In fact, the hardest part is washing up the pan at the end but I’m sure you could bribe someone to do this for you in exchange for a few squares!

70g butter plus extra for greasing
300g soft light brown sugar
125g evaporated milk
2 tbsp smooth peanut butter
225g marshmallows
300g milk chocolate broken into squares
100g Reese’s peanut butter cups cut into small pieces

1. Put the butter, sugar, peanut butter and evaporated milk in a pan over a low heat. Stir frequently until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
2. Add the marshmallows and turn the heat up to medium. Let the fudge boil for 5 minutes, stirring once a minute to prevent the mixture sticking to the bottom of the pan.
3. Meanwhile, grease a 20cm square cake tin with butter and line with greaseproof paper.
4. Take the pan off the heat and add the broken up chocolate. Leave for one minute, then stir the mixture well.
5. Stir in most of the chopped Reese’s cups, keeping a couple of handfuls back.
6. Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and scatter over the remainder of the peanut butter cups.
7. Once cooled, transfer to the fridge to set properly. After a few hours you can remove from the tin and cut into squares. You can put the fudge in clear cellophane and tie with a pretty ribbon.



Game Pie Recipe

While I was getting over my food fussiness I really struggled to get into game. I think it was a combination of the rich flavour and the idea of tucking into Bambi and Thumper that put me off.

I was converted to venison when I was given a haunch of wild red deer that a pal at work had shot and cleaned himself (he had a license, please do not attempt this at home!). I marinated the haunch in red wine and juniper berries and slow cooked it and it was just melt in the mouth.

Wild venison is difficult to come by, but the farmed stuff you can get in most supermarkets is still delicious. My local Asda does two venison steaks for £4 – that’s cheaper than beef! Other game is trickier to get hold of but I would highly recommend checking out Hopetoun Farm Shop near Broxburn, West Lothian who have a good range of seasonal game. We’ve ordered our Christmas meat from here the past two years and it’s been fab. They also have an online shop and can deliver to your home. Otherwise your best bet is probably Sainsbury’s where I found rabbit and pheasant.

This was my first attempt at a game pie and since I like to save time where I can, I bought in the pastry rather than making it (total cheat, I know). The original Hairy Bikers Game Pie which this recipe is modified from has a how-to for short-crust pastry if you want to give it a bash.


  • 20cm oven proof pie dish
  • ceramic baking beans
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1kg mixed game meat (e.g. venison, pheasant, rabbit, partridge etc), chopped
  • 100g bacon lardons
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 celery stick, sliced
  • 150g chestnut mushrooms
  • 25g plain flour
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tbsp redcurrant jelly
  • 250ml
  • 250ml red wine
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 packet ready-rolled short crust pastry
  • 1 packet ready-rolled puff pastry
  • 1 egg, beaten


    1. Heat the olive oil in a large pan and brown the meat in batches. Transfer the meat to a dish and set aside, repeating the process as necessary.
    2. In the same pan used to cook the meat, add the bacon and the onions. Cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the celery and the mushrooms and cook for a further 3-4 minutes.
    3. Sieve in the flour and cook for 2 minutes, stirring well. Add the bay leaves, cloves, redcurrant jelly, stock, red wine and thyme. Season with salt and pepper.
    4. Add the meat back into the pan and bring the pan to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for two hours, or until the meat is tender.
    5. While the meat is cooking, preheat the oven to 180C/360F/Gas 4. Grease a 20cm pie dish with butter.
    6. Line the pie dish with the shortcrust pastry making sure you press into the corners of the dish.
    7. You need to blind bake your pastry to avoid a soggy bottom (nothing worse!) Line the pastry with baking parchment, then fill with baking beans. If you don’t have baking beans you could use rice or lentils. Just remember to line with the baking parchment or you’ll have lots of crunchy bits to pick out of the pastry!
    8. Bake in the oven for 20 minutes, or until the pastry is golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and set aside to cool. Remove the beans and discard the baking parchment.
    9. Once the meat is cooked, allow it to cool for 10 minutes. Then fill the pastry case with the game meat mixture.
    10. Place the sheet of puff pastry over the pie dish. Trim off any excess pastry with a sharp knife and then crimp the edges. You can use a fork for the crimping or try out one of these fancier techniques on BBC Good Food. Prick the pastry several times with a fork to create holes for steam to escape. Decorate the top with the excess pieces of pastry (I used a reindeer cutter).
    11. Brush the pastry lid all over with the remaining beaten egg, then bake the pie in the oven for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden-brown.


Easy Peasy Paella Recipe

Close your eyes… and imagine the Spanish sunshine! This authentic tasting paella is perfect for a family meal or having friends around for dinner. Do your prep in advance then serve the finished paella in the centre of the table and watch everyone dig in. I cooked this up for friends last week and it was clean plates all round. Buen provecho!

2 chicken breasts cut into small chunks
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, finely sliced
100g of chorizo, sliced
1 red pepper, deseeded and cut into chunks
1 tsp turmeric
1 pinch of saffron
½ tsp of cayenne papper
1tbsp of paprika
300g of paella rice
250ml white wine
1 litre chicken stock
3 tomatoes, cored and cut into chunks
200g of cooked and shelled prawns
50g frozen peas
1 lemon, cut into wedges to serve


  1.  Cook the chicken in a little olive oil and the paprika. When the chicken is cooked through, set to one side.
  2. In a little more olive oil, gently fry the onion and garlic for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the chorizo and red pepper and cook for another 3 minutes.
  3. Add the turmeric, saffron and paprika followed by the rice. Stir well so that the rice gets coated in the spices and chorizo oil.
  4. Add the wine and once the rice has absorbed this, start to add the chicken stock, a bit at a time. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook. It will take about 15 – 20 minutes for all the liquid to be absorbed and the rice to become soft.
  5. Once the rice has softened, add the cooked chicken, prawns and frozen peas. Cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Lay the lemon wedges on top and serve.

Roasted Tomato and Red Pepper Soup Recipe

For me, tomato soup is one of my warmest memories of food as a child. Of course given my earlier fussiness I would only eat the tinned variety which came in an unnaturally vivid shade of red. My tastes might have moved on from the late 80’s/early 90s but tomato soup it is still a favourite comfort food for me.

As soon as autumn beckons (around the 18th of August in Scotland) I always make a batch of this delicious creamy tomato and red pepper soup. It’s modified from a Gordon Ramsay recipe and it’s always been a great success for me. It makes 6 bowls and also freezes well.

I like to serve with Irish Soda Bread; this BBC Food recipe is super quick and fresh bread is always a winner!



2 red onions, peeled and sliced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely sliced

1 tsp paprika

Pinch of chili flakes

olive oil

8 or 9 ripe tomatoes (about 1.5kg worth)

1 red pepper, seeds removed

1 tsp caster sugar

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 litre chicken stock

100ml double cream



  1. Preheat the oven to 180C
  2. Cut the tomatoes in half and remove the soft, seedy part.
  3. Put a roasting tin on the hob over a medium heat. Add some olive oil and then the onions, garlic, paprika and chili flakes. Cook for approx 4 minutes, stirring well to coat the onions and garlic in paprika and oil.
  4. Place the tomatoes and peppers on top, cut side down. Add the sugar and balsamic vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Turn the heat up slightly and cook for around 5 minutes.
  5. Stir well and then pop the roasting tray into the oven for 25 minutes.
  6. Put the tray back on the hob over a medium heat and add the chicken stock. Bring to the boil and simmer for 5 mins.
  7. Add the cream and mix well and simmer for another 5 mins.
  8. Use a blender or stick blender to get the soup to your preferred consistency, I like it smoother but you can go more rustic if you like.





Sticky Mississippi Ribs Recipe

These Mississippi style sticky ribs are delicious and easy to make. Be warned – this is messy finger food at its best so maybe not one to make if you’re still at the ‘composed’ stage of your relationship! In fact the BBQ sauce is so good that I have been tempted to drink the remains once or twice. Classy!

I’ve developed this recipe from a Hairy Biker’s one. Their cooking technique involves a barbeque – not the most practical for November in Scotland, so I’ve modified this accordingly!



  • 2 kg pork ribs

Mississippi rub

  • 25 g light soft brown sugar
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp mustard powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp oregano
  • 2 tbsp of olive oil

Finger licking barbecue sauce

  • 200 ml tomato ketchup
  • 100 ml water
  • 75 ml cider vinegar
  • 150 g light soft brown sugar
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup (honey is fine as an alternative)
  • 2 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 3 garlic cloves finely sliced
  • A pinch of chilli flakes


  1. Ideally start the night before so your ribs can marinade overnight. Otherwise an hour of marinating time will still make your ribs delish! Mix the dry ingredients for the rub in a bowl.
  2. Remove 3 tbsp of the mixture and put in a medium pan. Set aside the pan – this will be used to make the barbecue sauce later.
  3. Add the olive oil to the remainder of the dry ingredients in the bowl to make a paste. Massage the paste into both sides of the meat. Leave to stand for an hour or overnight if you have time.
  4. Preheat your oven to 170C. Heat a roasting tray on your hob with a little olive oil. Add the ribs and brown for 5 minutes until they are coloured on all sides.
  5. Transfer the roasting tray to the oven and cook your ribs for 1 hour, turning half way through the cooking time.
  6. While your ribs are cooking it’s time to make the BBQ sauce. Add the ketchup, water, vinegar, sugar, syrup, Worcestershire sauce and garlic into the pan containing the 3 tbsp of Mississipi rub. Bring to the boil over a medium heat and then leave to simmer for 5 minutes or until the sauce has thickened. Make sure you stir regularly so the garlic doesn’t get stuck and burn.
  7. Take the pan off the hob and pass the sauce through a sieve to remove the pieces of garlic.
  8. When the ribs have been in the oven for an hour, remove and use a pastry brush to apply some BBQ sauce to both sides of the meat. Return the ribs to the oven for a further 10 minutes.
  9. Serve the ribs with the rest of the barbecue sauce for dipping or drizzling. I would accompany with sweet potato chips and plenty of napkins!


Sweet Potato Thai Soup

Bored of the same old sandwiches? Try out my recipe for Thai style chicken and sweet potato soup. It’s perfect for autumn with warming ginger and a chilli kick. It’s also super easy to make and the recipe will produce enough for 4 large bowls. The recipe is based on a BBC Good Food one which I’ve tweaked after making it several times.

I find the chicken protein combined with the ‘good carbs’ keeps hunger in check until dinner time. The coconut cream can be swapped for reduced fat coconut milk if you want to make the soup a little more calorie friendly.

I like to use these bags of pre-chopped butternut squash and sweet potato from Asda. It’s a bit of a cheat but if you’ve ever struggled with hacking up a rock-hard butternut squash then you’ll appreciate the time-saving here!



2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 red chilli, sliced
2cm piece of ginger, peeled and chopped
1 stalk of lemongrass, bashed with a rolling pin
2 tbsp red Thai curry paste
200g sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped
200g butternut squash, peeled and roughly chopped
750ml chicken stock (use 2 stock cubes)
200ml coconut cream
2 chicken breasts cut into small pieces
1 lime, juice and zest
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp Thai fish sauce


  1. Heat a little oil in a pot – my favourite for Thai food is groundnut oil, but olive oil will do fine if you don’t have this. Add the red curry paste along with the garlic, ginger, lemongrass and chillies and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on a low heat.
  2. Pour in the chicken stock and coconut cream and add the butternut squash and sweet potatoes. Leave to simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Fish out the lemongrass and discard. If you’re lucky enough to have a blender (I got one for a wedding gift) then transfer the soup to this and whiz until smooth. If not; you can pick up a hand-held stick blender for less than a tenner in most supermarkets. Blitzing with a hand blender will only take an extra few minutes.
  4. Pour the soup back into the pot and add the raw chicken pieces. Simmer for another 10 minutes and take out a piece of chicken to check it’s cooked through.
  5. The finishing touch is to add the lime juice and zest, the sugar and fish sauce. This gives the authentic tangy Thai flavour. Serve with crusty bread and enjoy!


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