*Some of the items in this post have been sent for review

When the weather is hot why not treat yourself to some perfect iced tea to quench your thirst. Serve with some Earl Grey cupcakes for the perfect teatime treat in the garden.

The British are great lovers of a cup of tea. The ritual of putting on a kettle and making a cup of tea has a magic about it. There is a great belief that the cure for everything is a cup of tea. We certainly drink enough of it, as a nation we drink 165 million cups per day. As an ancient Chinese proverb says:

“A day without tea is a day without joy”

Afternoon tea is another of those quintessentially British traditions.  A cup of tea around four in the afternoon with the accompaniment of savouries and cakes is a special occasion. It is something everyone should experience and indeed I recently tried afternoon tea at the Copthorne hotel in Newcastle. Afternoon tea is something everyone should try.

Iced Tea

Whilst a hot drink of ta is very much a British thing in America you are more likely to find iced tea.  Cold tea is not a new thing, cold green tea punches spiked with liquor were popular in the nineteenth century. Iced tea became popular in 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis. The summer was very hot and Richard Blechynden who was offering free hot tea soon realised an iced version would be more popular. The idea caught on and the iced tea is now popular though North America.

There are two types of traditional iced tea in America, Iced Tea and Sweet Tea. The only difference between them is the amount of sugar. Both are a refreshing drink on a hot day in a glass with plenty of ice.

Iced tea

Choosing the right tea for the occasion

It doesn’t matter if you are having a hot cup of tea in the afternoon or an iced tea. The key to having a pleasurable cuppa is in choosing the right tea for the occasion. Not all tea tastes the same. The flavour of the tea depends on how it is grown, processed and brewed. In the growing stage the amount of light reaching the tea will affect the flavour. Green tea and matcha is grown in the shade. Less sun means less chlorophyll will be in the leaves which makes the tea less bitter.

After picking the tea leaves are dried in the sun. The amount of time they are left to dry also impacts the flavour. Green tea is not dried for long whilst black tea will be left to dry the longest. While the tea dries enzymes in the leaves are working to transform leaves which gives the tea its distinctive flavours.

Adagio Teas

Recently I have been trying out a range of teas from Adagio teas. These are hand-picked teas that are sourced directly from artisan growers to produce tea that is full of flavour. No matter what type of tea you like there is one to suit you. Green tea, black tea, white tea, oolong tea, you name it they have it. If you are unsure which tea to try then you can pick up sampler sets which will help you discover a new favourite.

Adaigo teas

Being from Newcastle I was pleased to see Earl Grey teas.  Earl Grey of the tea fame was a  British Prime Minister who was responsible for many reforms over his career. He was also from a local Northumbrian family. He stands atop Greys monument in the centre of Newcastle surveying the city from its lofty heights.  The box contains four types of teas: Earl Grey Bravo, Earl Grey Moonlight, Earl Grey Green and Rooibos Earl Grey. These are all loose leaf teas and on opening each of the packets you are met with a wonderful aroma. The teas all have wonderful flavour and are great for baking. The vanilla tones in the Earl Grey moonlight made it perfect for making Earl Grey cupcakes.

Adiago tea earl grey moonlight
Chai teas are one of my favourites. the subtle spiced flavour adds some excitement to a cup.  The Chai tea box has a range of teas to excite any palette. Thai Chai brings you the exotic flavours of coconut and lemongrass whilst Masala Chai has a warm aromatic flavour that is perfect on a colder day. Spliced Apple Chai is more refreshing with its apple and spice tones whilst Chocolate Chai is just comfort in a mug.

How to make the perfect iced tea

Iced tea is easy to make from scratch and is perfect for the summer. All you need are a few tea bags, water and sugar if you like your tea sweet. These are some tips to help you make the perfect iced tea  for this hot weather.

  1. Start with good ingredients. High quality tea will give the best flavour.
  2. Make sure you use enough tea bags. When you cool the tea the flavour is less intense. A good rule of thumb is to use two tea bags for three cups of water.
  3. Don’t leave the tea to steep for too long. This can make the tea taste bitter
  4. If you are using sugar add it to the hot tea before cooling. If you want to sweeten the tea afterwards use sugar syrup. This can be made easily by simmering equal parts of sugar and water until the sugar dissolves. Stir one or two tablespoons into your tea, according to taste.
  5. Let your tea cool before refrigerating. This stops it going cloudy.
  6. If you want to add flavour use fresh lemon juice.

Adiago teas have the perfect solution to making iced tea.  Their iced tea pouches allow you to make iced tea easily. I have been trying the Roobos vanilla iced tea pouch which has a lovely flavour. All you do is steep the teabag in two pints of water overnight. In the morning you have a pitcher of cold tea, all you need to do is to add ice.

Adaigo teas

Adiago teas roobios iced tea

If you are a fan of matcha you can also make a lovely sparkling matcha drink that is perfect for a hot day.

Earl Grey Cupcakes

Whilst experimenting with tea I thought I would try baking using tea and made a batch of Earl Grey cupcakes. I chose to use the Earl Grey Moonlight tea from Adagio which combines the citrus Earl Grey flavour with the taste of vanilla and cream. You can really taste the creamy vanilla tea flavour in the cupcakes and they go perfectly with a glass of iced tea on a hot day. The tea leaves also add a subtle flavour into the butter cream icing. I made a large batch of these cupcakes and they did not last long.

Earl Grey cupcakes

Earl Grey Cupcakes Recipe

Earl Grey Cupcakes

  • Servings: 12
  • Print

Cupcakes infused with the delicate flavour of Earl Grey tea.




  • 2 tsp Earl Grey moonlight tea
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 80g butter
  • 280g caster sugar
  • 240g plain flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 200ml milk
  • 2 eggs

For the frosting

  • 250ml milk
  • 250g icing sugar
  • 80g butter


  1. Add the tea leaves to a bowl and pour over the water.
  2. Leave to steep for thirty minutes.
  3. Preheat the oven to 190C Gas Mark 5
  4. Cream together the butter and sugar until soft
  5. Sift the flour, baking power, salt into the butter mixture and rub together until it is like fine breadcrumbs
  6. Mix the eggs and milk in a bowl and mix
  7. Strain the tea water into the egg mixture to remove the tea leaves
  8. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and stir into smooth
  9. Add to cupcake cases and bake for twenty minutes until springy
  10. Get the strainer full of tea leaves and sit it in a bowl with the milk to infuse the flavour
  11. Mix together the butter and icing sugar until soft
  12. Add the milk and mix till fluffy
  13. Add a little icing to the top of each cupcake

Do you have any favourite recipes you like to make with tea? Let me know below.


Queen of Puddings is a traditional British dessert. It consists of custard layer spread with jam and a soft meringue topping.

The British have been making different puddings from bread and milk since the seventeenth Century. Bread and butter pudding is probably the most well know but there are many variants.  As well as bread and milk some of these include jam and meringue. Queen of Puddings is one of these desserts. It can also be known as Manchester pudding.

The origins of the dessert are not know. It may date back to the turn of the twentieth century when Queen Victoria is said to have made favourable comments about the dish. This could have given rise to the name Queen of Puddings. We may never know but this is a delicious dessert fit for a queen.

Queen of puddings

Queen of Puddings

These days Queen of Puddings is a rather retro recipe and not made often. It is a shame as it is a lovely dessert and a great way of using up stale bread. For me it is also a way of using up the last of my frozen raspberries before the new summer crop arrives. I already have lots of green berries and suspect I may have more berries than last year.  Queen of Puddings contains raspberry jam and I chose to make my own.  Shop bought works just as well though.

Queen of Puddings is a recipe that brings back memories for me. It is one of the first recipes I made during Domestic Science classes at school. Today this is better known as food technology. When the dessert was complete it was put into a Tupperware box and I took it home for my parents to try. Needless to say the pudding got rather mixed up on the way home but was still delicious. The recipe is so easy to make, it could easily be made with your children.

Queen of puddings


Making Queen of Puddings


To make Queen of Puddings properly you need time. The custard mixture does need to soak for twenty minutes before cooking. You can cook it without soaking but you will not get the same creamy texture. When I think back to my Domestic Science lesson I am not sure how we made the pudding in an hour. We didn’t make our own jam which did save a little time. We just spread shop bought jam onto the custard base.

If you do have the time it is worth making your own jam. It really is not too difficult. The extra taste it gives the dish is worth the effort. It really does not take that much more time, you can easily make the jam while the custard is soaking and baking. This retro recipe for Queen of Puddings is definitely worth the effort. The whole family will enjoy it.

Queen of Puddings Recipe

Queen of Puddings

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print

A custard base with a jam and meringue topping for a delicious dessert.


  • 600ml whole milk
  • 25g butter
  • 150g caster sugar
  • Finely grated zest 1 lemon
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 medium  eggs, separated
  • 130g  white breadcrumbs

For the raspberry jam (or use shop bought)

  • 150g frozen raspberries, defrosted
  • 100g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp lemon juice


  1. First make the custard base.
  2. Put the eggs, milk, butter, lemon zest, vanilla essence and 50g sugar into a pan.
  3. Gently heat until the sugar dissolves and the milk is steaming hot, not boiling
  4. Leave to cool
  5. Separate the egg whites and egg yolks
  6. Beat the egg yolks with a whisk then whisk into the cooled milk mixture
  7. Add the breadcrumbs
  8. Grease a pie dish and pour the breadcrumb mixture into it
  9. Leave to soak for 20 minutes
  10. Preheat the oven to 150°C/130°C fan/gas 2
  11. Bake the custard for 35 minutes until golden and set
  12. To make the jam heat the raspberries in a pan for 5 minutes until the juice is released
  13. Add the caster sugar and bring to the boil for five minutes, stirring all the time. The mixture should thicken.
  14. Let it cool then stir in the lemon juice
  15. Spread the jam over the custard
  16. To make the meringue topping whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks
  17. Add the remaining caster sugar a spoonful at a time, whisking in between until the meringue is smooth and glossy
  18. Top the jam with the meringue
  19. Bake for 20 -25 minutes until stiff on top

Why not pin the recipe to make later?

Queen of puddings recipe. A custard base topped with raspberry jam and meringue makes a delicous and tasty dessert

Do you have a favourite pudding that you make with stale bread? Let me know below.


These tasty banana muffins are great for breakfast or a tasty lunchbox treat. The delicious banana flavour will put a smile on your face.

Isn’t it annoying that when the weather is warmer bananas don’t last very long? You buy a bunch of bananas that are slightly green thinking they will last. A few days later they are developing brown spots and sit in the fruit bowl looking sorry for themselves. Once they get brown spots it is as if they have the plague. No one wants to eat them. Fortunately a number of recipes use overripe bananas. The classic is banana bread. Recently when finding some sorry looking bananas in my fruit bowl I made banana muffins instead.

Banana muffins

banana muffins

I got the inspiration for the banana muffins from a book that I was sent recently. The book is “Tasty recipes from Busy Bees – starters and desserts”. Busy Bees provide nursery child care (Find out more about preschool in Leeds). The recipe book contains a selection of recipes from the seasonal menus they use. Their catering team ensure the recipes are nutritious and well balanced so the whole family can enjoy them.

This book has a selection of starters and desserts which look really tasty. As well as the banana muffins I found other desserts like Summer berry brioche pudding, apple jack cookies and ginger bread. Among the starters were tomato bruschetta, salmon mousse toast and chicken and pepper wraps. I am going to have fun cooking recipes from this book for some time.

Making Banana Muffins

Banana muffins

When it is sunny outside I never feel much like cooking. Having the oven on can make the house unbearably warm. I like to find recipes which are quick to cook and easy to make and banana muffins fall into this category. The maximum time they need to cook for is thirty minutes so the house does not get too warm.

The muffins are really easy to make as well. The only hard part is mashing the bananas. After this has been done it is just a question of mixing up the ingredients and popping them into muffin cases. Then just pop them into the oven until they are ready. They are so easy to make you could get your kids to help. The muffins are really tasty as well, a delicious treat for the family.

Banana Muffin Recipe

Banana Muffins

  • Servings: 12
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Delicious banana muffins perfect for breakfast or brunch.

Credit:Busy Bees Child Care


  • 120ml vegetable oil
  • 3 eggs
  • 50g brown sugar
  • 2 bananas
  • 100g wholemeal flour
  • 120g self raising flour
  • ½ tsp baking powder
  • ½ tsp cinnamon


  1. Preheat the oven to 180C Gas mark 5
  2. Peel and mash the bananas
  3. Mix together the bananas, vegetable oil, eggs and brown sugar in a bowl
  4. Fold in the flours, cinnamon and baking powder
  5. Spoon the mixture into twelve muffin cases
  6. Bake for 25 – 30 minutes until golden

Why not pin the recipe to try later?

Quick and easy banana muffins

If you are looking for other delicious recipes that use up left over fruit then this blackberry and raspberry drizzle cake is ideal.

Do you have any favourite recipes for leftover bananas? Let me know below.

Linking up to the kitchen clearout linky on Madhouse Family Reviews as I got rid of some overripe bananas.


By eating food that is in season you can enjoy the best tastes and flavours in your food. Eat Seasonal June lists the produce that is in season in June.

June brings the start of Summer and with it the promise of sunny days. Long light evenings bring the sound of lawnmowers and children playing. The warm weather makes salad attractive, it is too hot to want to eat much. Luckily the warm summer months bring an abundance of fresh food making it easy to add flavour to our plate. By eating seasonal we also save money as food that is in season is cheaper.

What is in season in June?

What a great year this has been for blossom. May saw trees bursting into bloom with pink and white blooms everywhere. June is the time when the blossom starts turning into fruit and the first of the cherries and strawberries appear. Gooseberries are also in season in June and my bush is already showing a good crop of fruit.

Vegetables are also in abundance. June brings peas in the pod, mangetout and runner beans. Jersey royal potatoes are ready to be eaten. Lettuce is starting to come into season ready for us to make summer salads. Mix the lettuce with radishes, spring onions, sorrel, rocket and watercress for a tasty and seasonal salad. Seafood is also plentiful this month with crab and lobster being at their best.  The image below shows everything that is in season in June. If you prefer you can download the list of June’s seasonal produce as a pdf download.

What produce is in season in June

Seasonal Recipes for June

Here are some ideas for recipes that use ingredients that are seasonal in June. If you have any other favourite recipes with June’s produce, do let me know below. I am always looking for new recipes to try out.

Carrot and Apricot Flapjacks

Carrot and apricot flapjacks

Flapjacks are always great for a lunchbox snack or a tea time treat. These carrot and apricot flapjacks taste great. The addition of carrots into the flapjack makes them lovely and moist whilst the apricot adds a little tang. Everyone will love these.

Strawberry shortcakes

Strawberry shortcake on a plate

What more fitting way to celebrate the start of strawberry season than with these delicious strawberry shortcakes? The mixture of strawberry and cream is always sublime but add in some shortbread and you get heaven on a plate.

Carrot and Fennel Soup

Carrot and fennel soup

Carrot and fennel soup uses fennel seeds to add a lovely hint of spice to the soup. It is ideal for a light lunch or supper when the warm weather means you do not feel like eating.

Slow Roasted Spanish Lamb

slow roasted spanish style lamb

If you want a flavourful Sunday roast then this slow roasted Spanish style lamb is ideal. Full of the flavour of summer it just cooks slowly until you are ready to eat. Perfect for a lazy sunny Sunday.

Beetroot and asparagus salad

Beetroot and Asparagus Salad

Cod with chorizo and tomato sauce

Cod with chorizo and tomato sauce

Which seasonal produce are you most looking forward to in June? Let me know below.



BBQ weather is nearly here. Why not try these Japanese style barbecue recipes to add a different flavour to your grill?

Recently the weather has been much warmer. It’s been nice enough to put the deckchairs into the garden and enjoy the sunshine. When the weather is warm it is always an incentive to get out the barbecue. Nothing says summer more than enjoying your food outside in the sunshine.

A barbecue is also a great way to get out of cooking. There is something primal about cooking food over hot coals that makes the men want to take over. My husband and son have fun watching the meat cook and I can sit and relax until it is ready. As long as the salads and sauces are ready then my job is done.

Japanese Style BBQ Recipes from Yutaka

Recently Yutaka got in touch to see if I would like to try out their Japanese style BBQ recipes. I am always happy to try new recipes so tried them out at the weekend. Yutaka provide a range of Japanese food products that help you create delicious and tasty Japanese recipes. I first tried their products when making sushi which was really tasty. There are two different recipes, Sushi kebabs and Panko burgers. Both of these would add an interesting twist to your barbecue.

Yutaka BBQ recipes

Sushi kebabs

Take some chicken, salmon or vegetables and leave them to soak in the Japanese BBQ marinade. After they have been left overnight thread the meat onto some skewers with other vegetables. The original recipe calls for courgettes, peppers and salmon for an mix of Japanese flavours. I chose to use chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Cook the kebabs on the barbecue until they are done. When they are ready add them to a bed of sushi rice and wrap in a sheet of nori. This is a nice easy way to serve the kebabs and also adds a lot of flavour. Any leftover sushi rice can be made into a side salad with the addition of some spring onions, peppers and cucumber.

BBQ Marinade

BBQ Marinade

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Japanese inspired marinade with sushi ginger, rice wine and miso


  • 2 tbsp Yutaka Yakiniku Sauce
  • 1 tbsp Yutaka Miso Sauce
  • 2 tbsp Yutaka Tamari Soy Sauce
  • 1 tbsp chopped Yutaka sushi ginger
  • 2 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1 tbsp Yutaka Mirin
  • 2 tbsp Yutaka Shaoxing Rice Wine


  1. Mix ingredients together
  2. Cover the chicken, salmon or tofu in the marinade
  3. Leave in the fridge overnight

Sushi Kebabs

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Japanese inspired marinade with sushi ginger, rice wine and miso


  • 4 bamboo skewers
  • 6 mini peppers
  • 2 courgettes
  • 12 button mushrooms
  • 6 small shallots
  • Marinaded chicken, salmon or tofu
  • 250g Sushi rice
  • 330ml water
  • 3 tbsp Yutaka Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 red pepper
  • 2 spring onions
  • 3″ piece cucumber
  • 6 Yutaka nori sheets
  • Yutaka bamboo rolling mat


  1. Soak the bamboo skewers in water for four hours before use
  2. Cover the chicken, salmon or tofu in the marinade
  3. Leave in the fridge overnight
  4. Make the sushi rice. First wash the rice three of four times with cold water
  5. Drain the rice with a sieve
  6. Add to a pan with the water
  7. Put the lid on the pan and bring to the boil
  8. Simmer for then minutes then turn off the heat and leave to stand for 25-30 mins. Do not open the lid
  9. Mix together the rice vinegar, sugar and salt
  10. Stir into the cooled rice.
  11. Chop the red pepper, spring onions and cucumber into small pieces
  12. Mix with half the rice to make a salad.
  13. Thread pieces of marinaded meat, peppers, courgettes and mushrooms onto a skewer
  14. Brush with BBQ sauce and place on the barbecue
  15. When done place a nori sheet on the rolling mat
  16. Add a line of sushi rice and the kebab and roll up.
  17. Serve with salad and the rice salad.

BBQ Sauce

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

A Japanese inspired marinade with sushi ginger, rice wine and miso


  • 4 tbsp ketchup
  • 1 tbsp Yutaka Japanese rice vinegar
  • 2 tbsp Yutaka Tamari Soy Sauce
  • ¼ tsp Yutaka Wasabi paste
  • 1 crushed garlic clove
  • 2 tsp soft brown sugar
  • Dash Tabasco
  • pinch salt


  1. Mix ingredients together to make the sauce


Japanese Style Burgers

  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Burgers with a Japanese style BBQ sauce


For the burgers

  • 2 small red onions
  • 500g minced beef
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tbsp Yutaka Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp Yutaka miso sauce
  • 1 tbsp Yutaka Yakiniku sauce
  • salt and pepper

To stack

  • 6 burger buns
  • 3 tbsp mayonaise
  • ½ – tsp Yutaka Wasabi paset
  • sliced onion rings
  • sliced pepper rings
  • whole mushrooms
  • Salad leaves
  • Tomato ketchup


  1. Peel and chop the onions and garlic
  2. Place the onions, garlic, breadcrumbs, meat, sauces and salt and pepper into a food processor
  3. Mix until well combined
  4. Shape six burgers from the mixture and leave in the fridge to chill
  5. Brush the burgers with the BBQ sauce then barbecue along with the mushrooms, onion rings and peppers.
  6. Mix the mayonnaise with the wasabi paste and spread on the burger buns
  7. Stack the burgers on the buns with salad, onions, peppers and mushrooms.
  8. Serve with the sushi rice salad

The family really enjoyed these recipes and we will be trying them again soon. We are planning a big barbecue for the bank holiday weekend. I suspect now that I have said that it will rain.

If you are looking for other recipes for your barbecue it is worth making some home made tomato relish. This is much nicer than shop bought and will impress your guests. Do you have any favourite barbecue recipes? Let me know below.