Make your Own : Chinese 5 Spice Powder

Make your own : Chinese 5 Spice Powder.

I bought some pork belly strips with a view to sticking them onto the bbq this weekend, I thought I would give them a try instead of pork ribs, easier for the kids to eat (no bones) also it is a relatively cheaper cut of meat.. and tasty to boot!

I wanted a Marinade for them so scanned through my bookcase and found a book called “Barbeque” over 200 sizzling dishes for outdoor eating – ISBN 1-84038-260-0

Found a fab recipe on Page 32 – Five-Spice Rib-Stickers.. sounded fab so got stuck in and started to make it, only had one problem, I didnt have any Five Spice, so had to make my own from scratch, grinding the whole spices to powder in my pestle & mortar.

Five Spice Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp. ground Szechwan pepper
  • 1 tsp. ground star anise
  • 1-1/4 tsp. ground fennel seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground white pepper

Combine all the spice powder together, use what you need and store the rest in an airtight container.

Marinade Recipe :

  • 2 tsp. Chinese Five-Spice Powder
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, crushed
  • 1 tbsp. grated fresh root ginger
  • half a teaspoon of chili sauce
  • 4 tbsp. dark soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp. dark muscavado sugar
  • 1 tbsp. sunflower oil

Mix all these ingredients into a bowl and add the pork belly/ribs and marinade overnight in the fridge.

Verdict : 10/10  – they tasted great and the kids loved them too! 🙂

Christmas Morning Muffins in March!


I fancied making more muffins today, wasn’t quite sure what ones I wanted to make, so had a look through the book that I made the blueberry muffins out of yesterday..

Scanning through the index under muffins I came across Christmas Morning Muffins, turned to the page they were on, scanned through the ingredients… yep had everything, so I made them.. yes I know its not christmas, but they sounded delicious 🙂

Here is the recipe and a picture of how they turned out …..

for the muffins:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • half a teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
  • 75g demerara sugar
  • good grating of fresh nutmeg
  • 1 clementine or small orange
  • approx 50ml milk
  • 60g unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 large egg
  • 150g dried cranberries
  • 12 bun muffin tin with papers

For the topping :

  • 2 teaspoons demerara sugar
  • half a teaspoon cinnamon.


  • Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C / gas mark 6
  • In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, bicard and sugar, and grate over a generous amount of fresh nutmeg.
  • Squeeze the orange or clementine juice into a measuring jug, then pour in milk on top until it comes up to the 150ml mark
  • Add the melted butter and the egg and beat to combine.
  • Pour the jug of liquid ingredients into the bowl of dry ingredients and stir until the ingredients are more or less combined, remembering that a lumpy batter makes light muffins.
  • Last of all, lightly fold in the cranberries and fill the muffin cases.
  • Mix the demerara sugar with the cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the muffins.
  • Stick them in the oven and bake for 20 minutes.

Makes 12

 Option : when ready, break open, spread with butter and marmalade.

Pickled Beetroot.


Up to 2kg fresh beetroot
1 1/2 litres vinegar – either malt vinegar or wine vinegar, depending on your preference
1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds
1 tablespoon whole peppercorns
About 10 whole cloves
1 bay leaf (dried)
100g Sugar (optional)


  1. Chop the stalks off the beetroot, leaving an inch at the end. Scrub the beetroot gently to remove any mud, but taking care not to damage the skin. Wrap them in foil and bake at 180 degrees C for up to 2 hours, until they are tender.

beetroot.jpg   prepared-pan.jpg   beetroot-in-prepared-tin.jpg   wrapped-and-ready-to-go-in-oven.jpg

  1. While the beetroot is baking, make the vinegar mixture:
    • Put the vinegar, coriander, cloves, peppercorns and bay leaf in a large pan
    • Bring to the boil for about 1 minute.
    • Turn off the heat and cover the pan.
    • Leave the flavours to infuse for about 2 hours.
    • Drain before using.

    white-wine-vinegar.jpg    pickling-spices.jpg   white-wine-vinegar-pickling-spices.jpg  

  2. Note: if you prefer sweet pickled beetroot, add 250g sugar to the vinegar before heating. Stir well to make sure the sugar has dissolved.
  3. If the skins were thick, you can peel the beetroot – it’s up to you. Wear gloves, if peeling, or it’ll take ages for your finger nails to return to their usual colour!
  4. Slice the beetroot into 1/2 cm slices.
  5. Put the slices into sterilised jars.
    • Wash the jars in hot, soapy water and rinse well
    • Put upside down in an oven at 100 degrees C for 20 minutes
    • Allow to cool slightly and then fill whilst still warm
    • Use a vinegar-resistant lid (i.e. plastic-coated, so no metal comes into contact with the vinegar, or this would corrode and ruin the pickle)
  6. Bring the vinegar mixture to the boil and then fill the jars
  7. Seal the jars with an airtight, vinegar resistant lid.
  8. Leave for a few weeks before eating. Gently shake the jars every week or so, to allow the flavours to infuse.

   cooked-beetroot.jpg    sliced-beetroot.jpg   finished-pickled-beetroot-in-jar.jpg

Mixed Spice (Apple Spice) Recipe


I made some chelsea buns today and the recipe needed mixed spice (the apple pie spice kind) unfortunately, I only had the curry mixed spice kind..

So I got my daughter to do a bit of scouting around online to see if she could find what ingredients were in the apple pie spice.

I checked my store cupboard and I turned out I had everything I needed to make my own, so I got my pestle and mortar down off the shelf and set about making some.

You need: 

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

The aroma that comes from the freshly ground spices if far superior than any powdered pre-made stuff you can buy from the local shop.   Also, the spices I buy are all organic, which I source from the Food Co-op that I belong to on (