Driving Home for Christmas

Driving Home for Christmas

It’s finally December, so let’s crack out the Christmas tunes, festive baking and wintery reads!

In memory of one of our beloved and dearly missed authors, Emma Hannigan, Bookends HQ thought it was only best to honour her memory by celebrating all-things-Christmas with Emma.


Why not try Emma’s delicious Christmas biscuits?

“These divine shortbread biscuits make wonderful edible gifts. I have had more appreciation for a pretty tin of these than any expensive purchases and they’re so quick to make. I give the old fashioned ounce measurement also as it makes it so easy to recall (2, 4, 6)”

You can download the recipe here: Christmas biscuits PDF.

xmas biscuits

Or listen to Emma’s very own Driving Home for Christmas playlist!

You can find the playlist here: Driving Home for Christmas Tunes.

Driving Home for Christmas

Watch Emma talk about her novel, Driving Home for Christmas, to get into the festive spirit

You can watch Emma here: Emma Hannigan introduces her novel DRIVING HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

And better yet, why not snuggle up with one of Emma’s festive feel-good books?

Driving Home for Christmas book cover     the Heart of winter cover

Driving Home for Christmas is now only 99p on Kindle!



Happy National Cake Day!

Happy National Cake Day!

Here at Bookends HQ, we love any excuse for a slice of cake and a cup of tea. So on National Cake Day, we will definitely be indulging ourselves in a slice of cake (or two…)!

To celebrate National Cake Day, we are giving you an exclusive recipe from the queen of cakes herself, Mary Berry, from her latest book Fast Cakes.

Happy baking!

Marble Cake

Children love this cake and it is not difficult to make and looks good when cut. Ice it as you like – try the chocolate icing on page 97 – or serve it plain, sprinkled with icing or caster sugar.

Marble Cake small

You can download the recipe for Mary Berry’s marble cake here.

Mary Berry’s Fast Cakes is out now!

Mary Berry Fast Cakes

Eat well this weekend with Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Fit Food

Eat well this weekend with Gordon Ramsay's Ultimate Fit Food

If you like healthy food with big flavours, look no further than Gordon’s Grilled Salmon with Garlic Mushroom and Lentil Salad.



Winter salad may sound like a contradiction in terms, but this combination of lentils, mushrooms and rocket is just that. It’s a hearty, robust dish, perfect for autumnal and wintry days when regular salad ingredients are out of season. It’s delicious on its own but is particularly good with grilled wild salmon, which also adds extra protein, healthy fats and plenty of vitamins and minerals to your meal.

200g Puy lentils
1 bay leaf
2 thyme sprigs
800ml vegetable stock (or water)
1 tbsp olive oil
200g chestnut mushrooms, cut into eighths
200g large flat or Portobello mushrooms, sliced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
4 x 100g wild salmon fillets
100g rocket leaves
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 tsp wholegrain mustard
1 tsp runny honey
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp water

  1. Put the lentils into a large saucepan along with the bay leaf, thyme and stock (or water). Bring to the boil over a medium-high heat, then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 15–20 minutes until tender.
  2. In the meantime, heat a large heavy-based frying pan over a medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Once hot, add the mushrooms with a pinch of salt and cook in the pan for 6–8 minutes, stirring now and again, until soft and lightly caramelized on the edges.
  3. Add the chopped garlic and continue to cook for 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
  4. Once the lentils are tender, drain well and discard the herbs. Put the lentils into a large mixing bowl and add the mushrooms. Mix together gently to avoid breaking up the lentils too much.
  5. To make the dressing, put all the ingredients into a clean jam jar with a pinch of salt and pepper. Close the lid of the jar and shake until the dressing comes together and emulsifies.
  6. Preheat the grill to high. Grill the salmon for 6–8 minutes to your liking.
  7. Pour half the dressing over the warm lentils and toss gently to ensure everything is coated. Fold in the rocket, place the salmon on top and pour over the remaining dressing. Serve immediately.


To shorten the prep time, use pre-cooked lentils in tins or pouches. For four people, you will need 2 x 400g tins or 2–3 pouches.


KCAL 480

FAT (g) 20.0


CARBS (g) 29.0

SUGARS (g) 5.0

FIBRE (g) 9.0

PROTEIN (g) 43.0

SALT (g) 0.78

Recipe extracted from Gordon Ramsay’s Ultimate Fit Food by Gordon Ramsay, published by Hodder & Stoughton, out 4th January, £25

Emma Hannigan's Gingerbread Cake

Emma Hannigan's Gingerbread Cake

As it’s the 1st December we’re starting to get Christmassy here at Bookends HQ. To kick things off we’ve got a wonderful recipe for a delicious Gingerbread Cake from author Emma Hannigan.

‘This recipe is one of my all time favourites. I’m a chocoholic so it takes a really delicious treat to entice me toward an alternative flavour. But I have to admit I’d be hard pressed to choose between a slice of this and a slice of dense chocolate cake!

The warm spicy aroma that fills the house as this bakes personifies Christmas for me. This gingerbread can be made in tiny individual loaves if you have those tins or in a flat tray and cut into fingers.’

Gingerbread Cake

Download the recipe for Gingerbread Cake and enjoy with a cup of tea and the perfect Christmas read, Driving Home For Christmas.


How to get creative in the kitchen this summer – no oven required!

How to get creative in the kitchen this summer – no oven required!

The sun has finally got his hat on and we’re eager to dust off the BBQ’s and pull out our picnic blankets over at Bookends HQ! So if you’re like us and are aiming to be the hostess with the mostess (or host with the most of course) then why not try rustling up something a little different this summer?

Chef and food stylist Sharon Hearne-Smith  is an advocate of a unique new way of cooking – that requires no oven what so ever! Her No-Cook Cookbook, which is available to buy now, reveals 100 easy, innovative and inspiring recipes to suit everyone from a total newbie in the kitchen to the most competent of chefs. Sharon offers a wealth of clever shortcuts and simple alternative techniques for transforming fresh ingredients into vibrant and nutritious meals – one of which is this gorgeous looking recipe below for a watermelon pizza!

Now we know what you’re thinking – bonkers, right? Wrong! This colourful mix of sweet and savoury is a flavour sensation and is guaranteed to be the talk of the table whenever and wherever you serve it. It’s a perfect vegetarian and gluten-free treat for a summer garden party or girls’ night in, and will definitely be the healthiest pizza you have ever eaten!

Watermelon Pizza


  • 2 x round watermelon slices, about 20cm in diameter, 2cm thick
  • 2 ripe yellow, orange or red tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh figs
  • 100g feta cheese
  • 50g pitted black olives, halved
  • 25g roasted hazelnuts, roughly chopped
  • Small handful of fresh mint leaves
  • Small handful of fresh wild rocket
  • Sea salt and freshly ground
  • black pepper


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white balsamic
  • vinegar
  • 100g raspberries


  • To make the dressing, whisk the oil and vinegar in a small bowl.
  • Add the raspberries and whisk them in gently until roughly crushed. Season to taste.
  • Remove any seeds from the watermelon slices, if you prefer.
  • Spread with half of the raspberry dressing, reserving the rest.
  • Arrange the tomatoes in a single layer across each watermelon slice, then cut each ‘pizza’ into six even-sized wedges, before placing the pieces back together in their circular shape on serving plates.
  • Cut each fig into six even-sized wedges and arrange one on each pizza. Crumble the feta cheese evenly over the top. Dot with the olives and drizzle with the reserved dressing. Scatter over the
  • hazelnuts, mint and rocket, and serve at once.

For a twist…

Meat-eaters can top their pizza with ruffles of Parma or Serrano ham.

No-Cook Cookbook

If you liked this post then why not catch up on…

Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s Golden Vegetable Tagine 

Spice up your dinner table with a Chilli Key Lime Pie 

Recipe for Beeswax & Honey Lip Balm from The Natualista 

Celebrate National Vegetarian Week with a delicious Golden Vegetable Tagine from Heat

Celebrate National Vegetarian Week with a delicious Golden Vegetable Tagine from Heat

If you’re looking to try something different and add a little spice into your kitchen in honour of National Vegetarian Week, then we’ve got a delicious recipe extract from Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s new cookbook HEAT  for you to try. Traditionally, tagines are cooked in their namesake domed clay dishes, set upon open fires, but this one is a quick dish to do at home with just a casserole or heavy saucepan.

This recipe features, among other spices, ras el hanout, a North African spice mix containing ginger, paprika, cardamom and rose petals, along with other aromatics, which is easy to find in most supermarkets and online.

This dish is all about the fragrance with just the right measure of heat, so get your pots & pans at the ready and impress your friends this week with a vegetarian feast!


Golden Vegetable Tagine


2 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, peeled and chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and choppe

1 large cinnamon stick, broken in two

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp cayenne pepper

1 tsp paprika

1 tbsp lightly crushed cardamom pods

1 tsp lightly crushed coriander seeds

1 tbsp ras el hanout

500ml (18fl oz) vegetable stock

800g (1lb 12oz) peeled butternut squash cubes, about 2cm (1¾in) in size (from 1 medium squash, about 1kg (2¼lb) before prep)

large pinch of saffron

400g tin of chopped tomatoes

2 tbsp clear honey, plus extra to drizzle

150g (5½oz) dried apricots

400g tin of chickpeas

1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley

1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander

zest of ½ lemon

sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. If you want to add some fire, serve it with a the Simple Harissa.
  2. Heat the oil in a large casserole or heavy-based saucepan over a medium heat.
  3. Throw in the onion and cook until softened, for about 5–8 minutes.
  4. Stir in the garlic and all the dry spices, then add the stock, diced squash, saffron and tinned tomatoes.
  5. Bring to the boil. Add the honey and apricots, and bring back to the boil.
  6. Then add the chickpeas, season with salt and pepper, and simmer, uncovered, for 15–20 minutes, until the squash is cooked through.
  7. Taste and adjust the seasoning, if necessary – the tagine should be sweet, mildly spicy and fragrant.
  8. Finally, stir in the parsley, coriander and lemon zest, and finish with a good drizzle of honey. Serve with couscous and harissa, if you like.

Golden Vegetable Tagine_small

Liked this foodie post? The you need to catch up on these…

Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s Chilli Key Lime Pie recipe 

Emma Hannigan shares her favourite crumble recipe 


Spice up your dinner table tonight with Kay Plunkett-Hogge's Chilli Key Lime Pie

Spice up your dinner table tonight with Kay Plunkett-Hogge's Chilli Key Lime Pie

Here, the classic key lime pie is given a little heat thanks to the jalapeño chillies. Key limes are small green limes with a sharp citrus bite. They come from Florida where, unfortunately for the rest of us, they have a very short season – so if you can find them, lucky you! The rest of us will have to make do with regular limes. For an extra rich custard, try replacing the egg yolks with duck egg yolks, and if you really want to give this a kick, use seeded green bird’s-eye chillies in place of the jalapeños.

150g (5½oz) butter, melted, plus
extra for greasing
350g (12½oz) digestive biscuits
1 heaped tsp cayenne pepper
3 egg yolks
grated zest of 2 limes
400ml tin of sweetened
condensed milk
juice of 6 limes (about 150ml (5fl oz))
2 green jalapeño chillies, seeded
and very finely chopped
to serve
300ml (10½fl oz) double cream,
extra grated lime zest
sprinkling of cayenne pepper or
chilli powder

Chilli Key Lime Pie

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 170°C, 340°F, gas mark 3½. Lightly grease a 23cm (9in) tart tin with a removable base.
  2. Place the biscuits and cayenne or chilli powder in a food processor and blitz into crumbs.
  3. Add the melted butter, and pulse until everything is well combined. Tip the crumbs into the tart tin and gently press across the base and up the sides (to a height of about 3cm (1½in)) to mould them into a pie crust. Bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, or until lightly brown and crisp. Set aside to cool.
  4. Meanwhile, in a large, clean bowl, beat the egg yolks with the lime zest until pale cream in colour and well combined. It should only take a minute or so. Add the condensed milk and the lime juice, and beat again. Then stir in the chillies.
  5. Pour the mixture into the crust and bake for another 15 minutes, or until the filling is just set, but still has a bit of wobble in the middle.
  6. Remove and set aside to cool. Once it’s cold, put in the fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight, covered with cling film.
  7. Before serving, remove the pie from the fridge and top with the whipped cream. Sprinkle with the extra lime zest and a dusting of the cayenne or chilli powder. Serve immediately.


Kay Plunkett-Hogge is a respected food and drink writer with a wide culinary repertoire and in-depth knowledge of the drinks industry. She grew up in 70s Bangkok, where her childhood was spent between two kitchens: inside for Western food, outside for Thai. Thai cuisine continues to be a part of Kay’s everyday cooking.

The founder of a bespoke catering service for the fashion industry (informed by her previous career as a model agent and movie co-ordinator), Kay also works as a food consultant, most notably with the team behind the successful Leon restaurants, with whom she co-authored Leon Family & Friends.

HEAT is her latest cookbook and it’s available to buy now so you can spice up your kitchen with over 120 vibrant chilli recipes from around the world!

Liked this post? Then why not try…

Xochi Balfour’s Lamb Tagine with Cauliflower and Parsnip Cous Cous 

Emma Hannigan shares her favourite crumble recipe 

Recipe: Xochi Balfour's Lamb Tagine with Cauliflower and Parsnip Couscous

Recipe: Xochi Balfour's Lamb Tagine with Cauliflower and Parsnip Couscous

Now spring has finally sprung we’re looking to change-up our dinners for something a bit more seasonal. Blogger Xochi Balfour, ‘The Naturalista’, has just the thing for those lazy summer evenings with a beautiful lamb tagine from her debut book THE NATURALISTA. Full of recipes for nourishing meals and natural beauty treatments, Balfour will inspire you to lead a balanced and healthy lifestyle; combining mindfulness and naturopathy to guide you through the stresses of twenty-first century life.

While your tagine simmers away, take time to delve into Balfour’s blog here, explore her holistic lifestyle and give yourself a small taste of what to expect from her long awaited book.

Download the recipe here

Pre-Order ‘The Naturalista’ here

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The Clandestine Cake Club's ultimate Easter recipe: Pistachio and fruit Simnel cake

The Clandestine Cake Club's ultimate Easter recipe: Pistachio and fruit Simnel cake

Feeling fed up of chocolate already? Here’s a recipe for a delicious and different Easter cake from Lynn Hill’s The Clandestine Cake Club: A Year of Cake . A traditional Simnel cake has a thin layer of marzipan baked into the centre and is decorated with a circle of marzipan on top. This cake is a little different because it has 11 marzipan balls baked within the cake! It also has the unusual addition of pistachios (and adorable Easter chicks!) – This recipe was provided by the members of the Leeds CCC. 

CCC cake reduced


100g dried cranberries

100g glacé cherries

150g sultanas

150g raisins

50g mixed citrus peel

175g soft light brown sugar

140g butter, diced

250ml tropical citrus juice

2 eggs, beaten

50g pistachio nuts, chopped

300g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp mixed spice

1 tsp cinnamon

250g golden marzipan


3 tbsp apricot jam

200g golden marzipan


  1. Preheat the oven to 170oC/fan 150oC/gas mark 31⁄2. Grease and line a 20cm round, springform cake tin.
  2. Place all the dried fruits, mixed peel, sugar, butter and juice in a large pan. Bring to a simmer slowly, to melt the butter and sugar, then simmer for 10 minutes on a low heat. Remove from the heat, transfer to a large bowl and leave to cool.
  3. Once cooled, add the eggs and pistachio nuts and stir until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and spices and mix until thoroughly combined.
  4. Divide the marzipan into 11 pieces and shape into balls. Spoon just less than half the cake mixture into the tin and arrange the marzipan balls evenly around the mixture taking care not to let it touch the sides of the tin. Spoon the remainder of the cake mixture on top and smooth out.
  5. Bake the cake in the bottom of the oven for 1 hour or until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean. Leave the cake in the tin to cool completely.
  6. For the topping, gently warm the jam in a small saucepan. Take 50g of the marzipan and roll it into a large ball, then roll out the remainder and cut out a circle the same diameter as the cake. Cover the top of the cake with warm jam and place the circle of marzipan on top. Place your large ball of marzipan in the middle, using a little jam to help stick it down. Decorate the cake as wished.

Find out more about the Clandestine Cake Club and their fantastic baking on their official website, and if you liked this Easter-baking inspired post then why not catch up on…

The Great British Bake Off’s recipe for making your own Easter egg

Team Bookends reminisce: the cakes I baked with mum 

Lynn Hill, founder of the CCC talks about how it all began