Sticky Toffee Pudding

During my recent visit to Scotland, I acquired Margaret Walker's famous recipe for Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Margaret, with her husband, live on a farm in the northeast of Scotland and she prepares this treat in her large farm kitchen and bakes it in her Aga stove.

As soon as I recover from my jet lag, I'll test this out and fill in the recipe with more specific instructions.  But, in the meantime, here is the recipe as I got it:

2 oz. butter
6 oz. brown sugar
1 egg 
8 oz. self rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
6 oz. dates
1/2 pt. boiling water

Mix above ingredients well and pour into a baking dish.  Bake in a medium oven.


3 oz. butter
3 tbsps. Brown sugar
3 tbsp. heavy cream

Melt all ingredients in a pan and pour over cooled pudding.  Grill until toffee bubbles.

Here are pictures from Mary Shepherd's 'Cattlecourts' home;

 The courtyard entrance

The view to the River Tweed from 'Cattlecourts' rear

'Sticky toffee pudding is a British steamed dessert consisting of a very moist sponge cake, made with finely chopped dates or prunes, covered in a toffee sauce and often served with a vanilla custard or vanilla ice-cream. It is considered a modern British ‘classic’, alongside Jam Roly-Poly and Spotted Dick puddings, capturing for many the childhood memories of growing up in the 20th Century.'

My Favorite Lasagne

When I first started making this dish I used  the traditional Italian-American recipe with ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, but I have since changed to this recipe which uses a cream sauce flavored with Parmegiano-Reggiano cheese.  It is lighter and, to my taste, more delicate and delicious.

For the cream sauce:

3 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
1 cup heavy cream
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
4 ounces Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated

3 cups tomato sauce
9 or 10 meatballs, sliced,  from my Spaghetti Sauce with Meatballs recipe

1 package Barilla no-cook lasagne noodles

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan and add the flour, stir and cook for  2 or 3 minutes to eliminate the floury taste.  Slowly add the milk in ½ cup increments, whisking until smooth between each addition.  Finally add the cream, whisking constantly.  Cook until the mixture comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, still whisking, for 2 or 3 minutes.  Remove from the heat and add the nutmeg and salt and half the grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.

In a 3 quart casserole, spread a layer of tomato sauce, top with about 1 cup of the cream sauce.  Top this with a layer of lasagne noodles.  Top with a layer of tomato sauce, to[ with 1 cup of cream sauce and add a layer of meatball slices, sprinkle with  grated cheese.  Top with noodles.  Repeat two more times and top with tomato sauce and a final layer of cream sauce.  Sprinkle with remaining grated cheese.

Bake in a 350° oven for 30 minutes or until bubbling gently.  Or refrigerate until 1¾ hours before serving.  Let come to room temperature for an hour and then bake as above.  Allow to rest 15 minutes before serving.




Spaghetti Sauce and Meatballs (plus Sausage & Eggs)

Believe it or not, I had never eaten pasta when I met my husband.  So it was quite a revelation when I was introduced to the delights of spaghetti, ravioli and lasagne.  Not to mention chicken parmigiano, chicken scarpariello, eggplant parmigiano, fettucini Alfredo, etc.  I often think this was what started me on my cooking career!

Shortly after we were married, my mother-in-law, who was an excellent cook, taught me the family recipe for spaghetti sauce with meatballs - and sausage and hardboiled eggs!  The recipe came from her Sicilian mother-in-law and is a great example of Italian-American cooking.  I am happy to share it with you.
I am making a large quantity since this freezes well - except for the eggs.  Feel free to make a smaller amount.

For the meatballs:

1¼ lbs. “meatloaf mix” - equal portions of ground beef, veal and pork

4 eggs, lightly beaten
½ cup freshly grated parmigiano cheese
½ cup chopped parsley
1 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
2 cloves garlic, grated
Olive oil

Add the eggs to the meat and mix lightly.  Add remaining ingredients and mix lightly but thoroughly.  Form meatballs keeping hands rinsed in cold water. (Makes about 20 meatballs.)
Heat a large, heavy stockpot (I use a 10 qt.) and add enough olive oil to cover about ¼” deep.  Let the oil heat and add 6 or 8 meatballs to pan.  Allow to brown and then turn to brown on all sides.  Remove to a clean bowl and continue browning remaining meatballs, sausage and hardboiled eggs, if using.

For the sauce:

2 cups chopped onions
3 or 4 plump garlic cloves, finely chopped or grated
8 28 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
1½ tablespoons dried oregano
1½ tablespoons dried basil
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

Add a little more olive oil to the pan if necessary and add the onions.  Cook until softened and add the garlic and cook for 2 minutes more.  Add the tomatoes and remaining ingredients.  Stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Return the browned meats to the pan and cook at a simmer for 4 to 5 hours.

Note:  I like to use a Flame Tamer to prevent the sauce sticking on the bottom.  If you don’t have one, keep the heat as low as possible to allow a simmer and stir frequently.   WATCH THE VIDEO DEMONSTRATION BELOW



My spaghetti sauce is very much like yours except that I add a potato along with the meats and eggs.

I don't have this recipe written down (watching my mother, Nanna , A. Mamie) I just eyeball everything.  My mother was not one for writing recipes down.  

Now when anyone ask me for my spaghetti sauce I'll give them a copy of yours.

One year we had some college soccer players over for dinner  (they would help my husband Gil coach youth soccer) they went crazy for the spaghetti meal and couldn't get over that there was sausages, eggs and potatoes in the sauce.  Whenever we hear from them, they always mention the sausage,eggs & potatoes in the sauce.

Enjoy watching your videos, I always learn something new. Loretta D.

Here is a short video on how to make our favorite meatballs (Recipe is above);


Crème Brulee

Whether you are preparing a romantic dinner for two, or want a show-stopping dessert for a dinner party, this recipe ticks all the boxes!

I was astonished to find that the recipe originated from my hometown of Aberdeen, Scotland.  Of course the English claim credit and call it “Cambridge Burnt Cream” - not an appetizing-sounding dessert at all.  The Scots and the French were firm allies for years so whether it actually was a French recipe or not will probably never be known.

In any event, it is remarkably simple to prepare but it does require a kitchen torch to achieve the proper crisp caramel topping.  It can be made the day before and stored, covered with plastic wrap.  An hour or two before serving, remove the plastic wrap and gently blot any moisture that may have gathered on top with a paper towel.  Apply the topping and refrigerate until serving.

Ingredients for 2 servings

1 cup of heavy cream, scalded
¼ cup sugar
2 egg yolks
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
¼ cup Demerara sugar for topping

  • Preheat oven to 325º.
  • In a medium bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until combined.
  • Gradually add scalded milk, whisking continually
  • Add salt and vanilla and whisk until combined.
  • Strain through a fine sieve into a Pyrex jug.
  • Pour gently into two ramekins.
  • Prick any bubbles with a tooth pick.
  • Place in a baking dish and fill half-way up with hot water.
  • Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until just set.
  • Remove from water bath and place on a cooling rack.
  • Refrigerate, covered lightly with plastic wrap.
  • Apply a light coating of Demerara sugar and torch.  Repeat.


Fajitas Nachos

A slightly more substantial snack than plain nachos, these can even be a quick lunch or supper.

For 12 nachos:

12 taco chips
½ cup refried beans
1 cup chopped cooked chicken or steak
½ cup salsa
2 cups grated cheese (sharp cheddar, Jack cheese or your favorite)

Cheat's guacamole (recipe follows) and sour cream to serve.

Top taco chips with beans, chicken or steak, salsa and cheese.  Bake at 350° for about 7 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Cheat's Guacamole

1 ripe avocado, seeded, peeled and chopped
¼ cup salsa

Mash together using a pastry blender or fork.


Pigs-In-A-Blanket (Mini Hot Dogs)

Whether it's Super Bowl, a baseball game or even a cocktail party, little hot dogs are hands-down a favorite.  Nothing could be easier to make and the "sauce" for serving is simply your favorite mustard.

All it takes is a package of mini-hot dogs and a package of Pillsbury's seamless dough (find it next to the Crescent Rolls).  Open the hot dogs and drain on paper towels.  Open the package of dough, cut it in four and cut each fourth into narrow strips - a pastry wheel or pizza cutter makes quick work of this.

Stretch each strip slightly and wrap it around a hot dog.  Either bake at 375° for about 8 minutes or place on a wax-paper lined tray and freeze.  When hot dogs are frozen place in a plastic container.