Dandelion Pops

We love dandelions, and this time of year, they are plentiful. We pick them to make Dandelion Pesto and Dandelion Fritters, and I’m currently brewing my first batch of dandelion wine too. But our favourite thing to do with dandelions is to tempura them, or as my children call it ‘Dandelion Popcorn’ – little balls of fried dandelions.

dandelion popsA few things to note about about picking dandelions:

  1. Pick dandelions in full sun, so that they are wide open. In the morning and evening they will be closed.
  2. Cook them as soon as you can. They begin closing up as soon as they are picked, so getting them in batter quickly is preferred.
  3. There are little black bugs that live in dandelions, so make sure you rinse them and leave them a little while to give the bugs chance to escape.Sweet dandelion pops

Some tips on tempura batter:

  1. Different recipes call for different ingredients, obviously, but the important thing is making sure your water is as cold as possible.
  2. I think it works best with sparkling water, but normal water works well too – so long as it’s cold.
  3. Once you start dipping the dandelion heads work quickly. It’s worth having the batter in two bowls so that you can dip a batch, and have the other bowl in the freezer, then swap the bowls over before you start dipping again. The colder the batter, the less oil the dandelion takes on.  washed dandelions

You will need:

  • 85g of plain flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 200ml icy cold sparkling water

Wash the dandelions and leave set aside to drive so as to keep the fried batter crispy.

Add the flour, salt and sugar to a bowl.

Pour in the sparkling water and mix till just combined. If you over mix you push out all the air bubbles, but you also increase the gluten content, so don’t over mix.

(In the Thermomix®, add all the ingredients and mix 20 seconds speed 4).

Split the batter between two bowls, and leave them in the freezer or fridge.

Heat the oil. Take a bowl from the freezer. Hold the dandelion by the green part, and dip it lightly in the batter, making sure to cover everything. Drop the dandelion into the hot oil and fry for 1 – 2 minutes, till a golden brown.

Remove to a bowl with absorbent towel or draining board and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Alternatively with icing sugar and lemon juice.

Enjoy while still warm and fresh.

DIY Garam Masala

For Garam Masala, I’ve discovered, there are about as many recipes as their are people making it. There isn’t one authentic, or one original recipe, but rather it seems to be a matter of personal choice.DIY Garam Masala Spices

For a long time I would say that I didn’t like curries. I think this was because every curry I ever had from a takeaway was just an overkill of hot and I didn’t find that very pleasant. It was only when a friend served me a curry she made that I realised that there was a world of flavour out there that I knew very little about.  Over the recent years I’ve learned to enjoy curries – but only those I make, so that I manage the heat!DIY Garam Masala Spice Mix

Garam Masala is the foundation for many North Indian and South Asian dishes, but I’ve also learned that it can add amazing flavour to any meat dish without specifically making it a curry. Garam Masala actually means ‘warm spices’ and that’s precisely what these spices do – they add a warm depth of flavour to the meal.DIY Garam Masala

As with all spices, if you’re able to blend it fresh when you need it, the flavours are stronger and richer, but I make a small amount at a time so that I make a fresh batch every month or so. You can freeze this and take it out as you need it, or just store in an airtight container. DIY Garam Masala Gift

DIY Garam Masala
Prep time
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Since I prefer to make this mix up fresh as often as possible, I keep the quantities small, meaning the Thermomix® scales aren't useful here, so this recipe uses a 5ml teaspoon and a 15ml tablespoon.
Recipe type: Seasoning, Spicemix
Cuisine: Asian, Indian
Serves: 200g
  • 1 Whole nutmeg
  • 10 Whole cloves
  • 1 Cassia Stick (sold as cinnamon sticks in supermarkets)
  • 1 tsp Black Peppercorns
  • 2 tbs Coriander seeds
  • 1 tbs Cumin seeds
  • 1 tbs Fennel seeds
  • 1 tbs Cardamom pods (about 6 pods)
  • 1 tsp Cayenne pepper (add more if you prefer a hotter spice, or substitute for dried chillies)
  • 1 tsp Turmeric
  1. If you're using a Thermomix®, you can add all the ingredients to the bowl and whizz at speed 10 / 20 seconds. Check inside to confirm, but everything should be a fine powder.
  2. If you're not using a Thermomix® or similar high powered blender, add the first four ingredients, and blend for 30 seconds or until broken into pieces. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend for a further 30 - 60 seconds depending on your blender, until all the spices are crushed.
  3. Store in an airtight container and use within a month for the best flavours.


Vegan Chocolate Cake, Not Vegan Buttercream And Vegan Chocolate Glaze

We aren’t vegan as you can tell by the creamy and beautiful buttercream or chocolate that decorate this cake, but the cake itself is vegan, and beyond being a really tasty treat, it’s also a useful recipe to have to hand when you don’t have eggs, which often happens in my life.

So, this cake is vegan, the chocolates aren’t and the buttercream isn’t. But there’s a lovely topping that you can use if you’re particularly after a vegan cake too – I’ll include that in the recipe.

As for the Bambi shapes, they are moulds from the Disney Cakes and Sweets range from Eaglemoss. We subscribed to this a couple of years back and now have 79 issues filling up my shelves, and a ton of baking goodies too. Ameli’s birthday party last year was a Princess Party, where we used some of the supplies from the Disney Cakes & Sweets magazines, and obviously this Bambi, owl, rabbit and little birds are from that too. It’s a really fantastic magazine to subscribe to, and along with fantastic quality bakeware and silicone moulds there are step by step instructions and recipes for every Disney character you could imagine. It’s something else. You can find out more about what’s available in the Disney Cakes & Sweets Magazine subscription by clicking here.

Did you know? 

You could also pick up this Special Edition Bambi & Friends issue for £9.99 by clicking here.


Vegan Chocolate CakeNow, on to the cake. These characters use 3 standard slabs of chocolate. You could get away with two and just make them a bit thinner. I used two dark and one milk, melted together (I use a Thermomix®, 90C, 3 mins, speed 2, but you can use a double boiler).

For this particular cake I also bought the flowers, and my 3 year old called it a ‘forest cake’. When a grown-up friend at our party said ‘Oh, they’re even resting on the grass’ I was very pleased that my marbled green fondant icing, with the bits of ‘soil’ towards the bottom actually translated as such!

Last year I made a similar cake for a spring party, and I added toadstools, flowers and other Disney Cakes & Sweets foresty themed buttons and it looked really pretty. (If you ignore the actual cake baking skills!)

Easy Vegan Chocolate Cake
Prep time
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Total time
The vinegar and baking powder cause a reaction so you need get the cake into the hot oven as soon as these two ingredients are mixed, so start with the dry ingredients. In the images above, I have made three batches of the recipe below.
Recipe type: Cakes,
Cuisine: Dessert, Cakes, Vegan
Serves: 1 cake
  • 160g (1¼ cups) self raising flour
  • 160g (1 cup) sugar
  • 40g (1/3 cup) cocoa powder (I recommend this one)
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 190g (1 cup) warm water
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract (I recommend this one)
  • 60g (1/3 cup) vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp distilled white or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp baking soda/bicarbonate of soda
Regular Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Oil or prepare your baking tin.
  3. In a bowl, mix all the ingredients, adding the baking powder and vinegar last.
  4. Pour into an ovenproof dish, and put in the centre of a hot oven.
  5. Bake at 180C for about 30 mins.
  6. Cool completely before icing.
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 180C.
  2. Oil or prepare your baking tin.
  3. Add all but the last two ingredients listed to the bowl, and mix speed 4, 5 seconds.
  4. Add the vinegar and baking powder and mix speed 1, 5 seconds.
  5. Pour into an ovenproof dish, and put in the centre of a hot oven.
  6. Bake at 180C for about 30 mins.
  7. Cool completely before icing.

For my cake I made a buttercream icing, and topped with fondant. My mother used to make the best buttercream in the world. Here’s her recipe, adapted to the Thermomix®, but you can use any electric beater for the job – just focus more on the appearance than the timing.

I like to use a beautiful rich yellow salted butter for this, as it cuts the sweetness a little.

Buttercream Icing/Chocolate Buttercream Icing
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Total time
Serves: 400g
  • 200g salted butter
  • 200g icing sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla essence
  • 30g cocoa powder (I recommend this one) (optional)
  • Optional extra: milk
  1. Add the butterfly to the Thermomix®
  2. Add the butter to the bowl and whisk speed 3, 2 minutes till the butter is white and fluffy looking. Remove the butterfly.
  3. Add the icing sugar and vanilla essence and whisk speed 3, 1 minute.
  4. For a chocolate buttercream, add the cocoa powder and whisk again for 20 seconds, speed 5 or whenever it's all mixed through.
  5. If the mixture is too dry add a TEASPOON of milk at a time till you get it to the consistency you require.

To stick to the vegan roots of this vegan chocolate cake you can make a delicious chocolate glaze instead.
Bambi Summer Cake - Vegan Chocolate Cake
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Regular Instructions
  1. On the stove top, place all the ingredients in a pot on a low heat and stir all the while till it melts.
  2. Pour over cake and leave to cool.
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Place all the ingredients except the vanilla in the Thermomix® bowl.
  2. Cook at 90C for 2-3 minutes checking that the sugar has all melted.
  3. Add the vanilla and whizz for 2 seconds on speed 4, then pour over cake.
  4. Leave to cool.

I hope you enjoy this delicious cake and it’s multiple variations on decorations. And remember to have a look at Disney Cakes & Sweets magazine too!

Watermelon And Rosewater Granita Recipe

Granita, despite my children calling it ice cream, is actually a semi-frozen dessert made from sugar, water and various flavourings. It is related to sorbet and Italian ice; but in Sicily it has a coarser, more crystalline texture – a bit like this recipe below. Watermelon & Rosewater Granita

Watermelon is a childhood memory for me. It reminds me of hot days, living in a hot, hot place, and my mother deciding to to make dinner, because who wants to cook when it’s 42C outside?! It reminds me of sweet sticky nectar running down my arms, of getting hosed down in the garden. It’s a good memory, and while we now live on – quite literally – the opposite side of the world, and the watermelons are round and have softer skins, but I love that I’m able to pass this same memory on to my own little girls now too. Watermelon & Rosewater Granita

When there’s left over watermelon – and sometimes there is – I like to make a watermelon and rose water granita. It keeps the watermelon going for a few days more and it is just so refreshing. 

I hope you’ll love it as much as I do!

Watermelon & Rosewater Granita
Prep time
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Granita is light, easy and refreshing!
Recipe type: Summer, Ice Cream, Dessert
Cuisine: Italian
Serves: 800g
  • 80g caster sugar
  • 125 ml water
  • 600g watermelon
  • 1 teaspoon rose water
Regular Instructions
  1. Add 80g caster sugar to a saucepan with 125ml water and bring it to boil. Allow it to boil for 3 minutes, then put aside to cool down completely.
  2. Liquidise the watermelon - a couple of minutes in a food processor should do it - and add the rose water. Place in the fridge.
  3. Once the sugar syrup is cool, mix the two together and place in the freezer. I use a metal bowl.
  4. Remove from the freezer every 30 mins to stir, making sure to break up all the lumps. After 90 minutes and three stirs, the granita should be ready to eat.
  5. Decorate with washed rose petals if you have any, and enjoy.
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Add 80g sugar to the Thermomix® and pulse 3 or 4 times.
  2. Add water and boil Varoma/Speed ⅔ mins.
  3. Put aside to cool down completely.
  4. Add the watermelon to the Thermomix® and add the rose water, then speed 5/2 mins.
  5. Once the sugar syrup is cool, mix the two together and place in the freezer. I use the ThermoServer.
  6. Remove from the freezer every 30 mins to stir, making sure to break up all the lumps. After 90 minutes and three stirs, the granita should be ready to eat.
  7. Decorate with washed rose petals if you have any, and enjoy.


South African Thermomix® Vetkoek

I love Vetkoek, it reminds me of growing up, of my dad coming home on a Friday with a bag of ready made dough from the shop, chopping it up and making vetkoek, which he’d put into a big cream-coloured bowl and we’d all crowd round eating warm fresh vetkoek filled with cheese, mince, syrup or apricot jam. Sometimes we have it with a chicken mayonnaise filling, and sometimes I’d simply have it on it’s own.Vetkoek


While you can try to compare a vetkoek with a doughnut, it doesn’t taste like a doughnut, it’s more savoury, but still a little sweet. Actually, there’s nothing I can think of to compare the flavour to – it’s it’s own thing.

Your choice of fillings is endless – pretty much anything goes, but for us the favourites are cheese, mince, chicken, syrup, and apricot jam, as I said above.

South African Thermomix® Vetkoek
Prep time
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Total time
Serves: 10
  • 210g water (room temp)
  • 280g unbleached bread flour
  • 1 (5g) teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon (3g) sugar
  • 1.5 teaspoons (7g) fast-rising active dry yeast (I use this one)
  • oil, for deep-frying
  1. Pour water into the Thermomix® bowl.
  2. Add dry ingredients finishing with the yeast.
  3. Mix 10 seconds/ speed 6
  4. Then 3:30 minutes/ kneading setting
  5. Remove and set aside to rise
  6. When doubled in size (about 90 minutes) divide into 10 balls on lightly floured surface. Flatten slightly in the palm of your hand.
  7. Let rise for ½ hour. (Use this time to prepare your filling)
  8. Warm oil in deep pot– oil should be about 2 inches deep – on medium heat. Drop a thumbnail sized bit of dough into the pan. If it sizzles it's hot enough, and once the tiny bit of dough has risen to the top, remove it and start cooking your vetkoek.
  9. Add the dough balls one at a time, depending on the size of your pot, about 5 or 6 at a time. They will swell up so don't overfill the pot.
  10. Fry vetkoek for about 5 minutes a side, but keep an eye on it. If they blacken too quickly, they'll still be raw inside, and your oil is too hot. If the oil is not hot enough, the vetkoek will absorb lots of oil and be gross.
  11. They should be the color of doughnuts when ready. Golden delicious.
  12. Drain on kitchen towels or in a colander.
  13. As soon as you can bear to touch them, slice open and fill.
  14. Enjoy.


Chocolate Crispy Bars {Dairy Free Sugar Free Gluten Free}

It’s almost Easter again, and while we aren’t really a free-from anything family, when there’s so much focus on chocolate – between Valentine’s day, Mother’s Day, and Easter, I like to have alternatives available, so that even if I don’t manage to curb my sweet tooth, I’m at least not filling up myself or the children with cheap, often actually not very good – chocolate.Chocolate Crispies

This recipe is very easy. The children can help you make it, or you can whip it up quickly. It’s quite dark, we like dark chocolate. If you don’t like it as dark, adjust the cocoa down. You could add other things, like marshmallows, nuts, or cherries, but just remember to adjust the quantity of rice crispies down then. The main thing to remember is this isn’t held together by chocolate, which is strong, but by coconut oil, which needs to be kept cool, otherwise you’ll end up with what looks like a (very tasty) bowl of chocolate cereal.

I use a gluten free Rice Crispie from Nature’s Path, because we have it at the moment, but you can use any other if you prefer.

I also use this brownie pan because it’s super convenient.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Dairy Free Sugar Free Gluten Free Chocolate Crispy Bars
Prep time
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A lovely snack box recipe for the kids, and fabulous for hitting that sweet spot, while not being overly unhealthy.
Recipe type: Sweets, TM31
Serves: 24 blocks
  • 50g Coconut Oil (1/4 cup)
  • 70g honey (1/4 cup)
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 30 - 50g cocoa powder (1/3 cup) (Cacao for Paleo)
  • pinch of fine sea salt or Himalayan pink salt
  • 100g rice crispies (1.5 cups)
Thermomix® Recipe
  1. Add the coconut oil and honey to the Thermomix® bowl. If you're using runny honey, 30 seconds/37 degrees/speed 2 should melt it all, but if the honey is crystalised or set, about 1 minute/50 degrees/speed 2. It must be mixed and melted before you go to step 2.
  2. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder, and a small pinch of sea salt. 15 seconds/speed 3
  3. Add the rice crispies and use the spatula to stir it in so that all the rice crispies are covered with the chocolate mix.
  4. Transfer to a brownie pan (this one is fantastic!) and squash it all in nicely. Put in the fridge for an hour or two to set, then cut into squares.
  5. Tip: Remember this is kept together with coconut oil, so keep it cool otherwise it might fall apart a bit.
Regular Instructions
  1. Create a double boiler by boiling a pot of water on the stove, and put coconut oil and honey in a glass bowl over it. Once they're melted, mix together and add the vanilla extract (be careful - both the glass bowl and the mixture will be very hot).
  2. Add the cocoa powder and sea salt, and then add the rice crispies.
  3. Mix together till all the rice crispies are covered in the chocolate mixture and transfer into your brownie pan.
  4. Place in the fridge till it's cooled and set, then cut into squares.

chocolate crispies

Sourdough Bread In The Thermomix®

Before we go any further, I need to come clean on something here: I’m not a professional at sourdough. I’m not even really good at it. This was my first attempt at sourdough, and I’m really happy with how it turned out, so I wrote it down. I expect that there’ll be plenty of editing and changing as I play and learn with it. But, sitting here eating a slice of bread with butter, I can tell you that this recipe as it is written here, works, and works well.

Sourdough BreadBack in November a friend gave me a master class on Sourdough as it’s something she makes a lot. I took away a dried starter with me, and then life happened. In the last week of February, I finally activated the starter, and have been feeding it for a week. Yesterday I felt we were good to go.

If you want to buy a ready to go starter, you can get them from eBay and Etsy, among others.

This makes a huge loaf. In future I’ll make it as two breads in a regular loaf tin. You can also use this proving basket for up to 1kg of bread, which would suit this recipe perfectly.

So, to the recipe…

4.0 from 1 reviews
Prep time
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Total time
Serves: 2 standard loaves
  • 750g strong white bread flour
  • 400g lukewarm water
  • 40g olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 200g sourdough starter
  1. Add all the ingredients to the Thermomix® bowl
  2. Mix on speed 6 for 10 seconds to combine everything
  3. Then knead for 3 minutes on the dough setting (wheat sheaf)
  4. Meanwhile, oil or butter your loaf tin.
  5. Note: This makes a HUGE loaf, so if you're using a standard loaf tin, you'll need to separate the dough into two.
  6. Remove from Thermomix® and place on a tray. Halve the dough now if you're going to.
  7. You need to 'fold' it into a ball. Essentially treat it like a sheet you're tucking in to a mattress - take one side and fold it under, then the other, and fold it under, then the final two, till it's a 'ball'.
  8. Place in the bread tin, then cut deep slits along the top - this is to prevent the sides of the bread splitting apparently.
  9. Now here things get tricky. There are as many instructions for making sourdough bread as there are recipes, so here's what I did.
  10. Leave the dough to rest for six hours, in a warm, but not hot place.
  11. Heat the oven to 200C and cook for 30 - 40 minutes. Test to see if it's ready by knocking on the crust. If it sounds hollow it's ready.
  12. Leave the bread to cool slightly before cutting.

I hope it works for you. Please let me know, and if you have any hints and tips, leave them below! I think I could use them!

Five Healthy Valentines Day Recipes

Healthy Valentines

Are you planning and plotting your Valentines day menus yet? Here’s a selection of some of our favourites including treats and healthy sweets.

Five Healthier Valentines Recipes

Good For You Chocolate Coconut Macaroons

This is a brilliant recipe for children to get involved with, since it’s raw and doesn’t require any cooking. You need to melt the coconut oil, but you can do that at body temperature, so it’s yummy and fun and messy and makes for delicious gifts.

Raw Lime Coconut Chocolate Bliss Balls

Another raw recipe that children can happily help you make and it’s a little more exotic than your usual run of the mill chocolate.

Raw Nutty Chocolate Mousse

In retrospect, I don’t think this should have been called mousse. It’s more of a pudding than a mousse, but it’s delicious. And it’s raw and pretty healthy too.

Healthy Chocolate Date Balls

Date balls, bliss balls, power balls… they’re pretty much the same thing, and we make them all the time. These are the foundation of most other bliss balls, and if you’d like to try other bliss ball recipes, have a look at my Bliss Balls For Beginners eBook.

Raw “Ferrero” Bliss Balls Recipe

This is one of the recipes from Bliss Balls For Beginners, and while we think this is a great recipe, the important thing is that comments on the post think so too! It’s a great alternative to sugary treats.

I hope you enjoy these healthier Valentines Day recipes!

Raw Ferrero Bliss Balls Recipe

Ferrero Bliss Balls

I discovered these hazelnut and chocolate beauties quite by accident. I was trying to make hazelnut flour but left the nuts going in the food processor for too long and ended up with hazelnut butter. I added cocoa powder and coconut oil and came up with a beautiful chocolate spread alternative, which has lasted for over a month in the fridge without going off.

Ferrero Bliss BallsThese are so delicious, popped in a jar with a ribbon on, they’re easily made into gifts too.

You can find this and 20 more recipes in Bliss Balls For Beginners, available here for $3.50/£2.99.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Raw “Ferrero” Bliss Balls Recipe
Prep time
Total time
Our version of Ferrero Rocher, but raw and healthy. These keep well in cool weather for up to a month, so make perfect special occasion gifts.
Recipe type: Raw, Sweets
Serves: 20 bliss balls
For the hazelnut chocolate "sauce":
  • 75g hazelnuts
  • 5g cocoa(feel free to adjust this for a more or less chocolatey result)
  • 20g coconut oil
For the Bliss Balls:
  • 100g hazelnuts
  • 150g dates
  • 45g oats
Thermomix® Instructions
  1. Blend the first set of hazelnuts to a fine crumb speed 4, 5 seconds
  2. Add the cocoa and coconut oil and mix on speed 9, 90 seconds
  3. Add the remaining hazelnuts, dates, and oats.
  4. Mix well about speed 4/ 20 seconds.
  5. The mixture looks like loose crumbs when you're done. Take a small handful, and press it together, then roll into a ball.
  6. You can eat it right away, but put it aside to allow the coconut oil to hold it all together, and it'll be nicer cold too.


Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup

Strawberries in syrupWhile I use frozen fruit, it’s not a favourite as I don’t always like the consistency once it defrosts. A great way to save fruit for the winter months is by freezing it though, so rather than just saving as is, I’ve made strawberries to freeze in a syrup, so that when they are defrosted, you have a ready made desert to have on yoghurt, as is, on a cheesecake or on ice cream if you’re so inclined.

Add a flavouring of your choice to infuse for a whole flavour sensation.

You can use them later in the summer on ice cream, or eat them as is. Or save them for the festive season to fill up a glass of fizz – or to bring a sweet pleasant surprise to lemonade in the summer. I’m sure you’ll find a way to enjoy the strawberries in flavoured syrup.

Strawberries in Cardamom or Vanilla Syrup
Cook time
Total time
The amount of strawberries depend on the size of your container and the strawberries themselves. I used two 500ml kilner jars, and didn't overfill them although I could probably have put a few more strawberries in each jar. You need to put enough syrup in that the strawberries are covered. I have chosen cardamom pods and vanilla pods for the two jars, but you can use anything you like - orange peel, liquer, whatever takes your fancy.
Recipe type: Desert, Snack
Cuisine: Foraged, Make Ahead, Freezer
Serves: 700ml
  • 700g water
  • 140g sugar
  • Flavouring: cardamom/vanilla etc
  • 1 punnet of strawberries
In the thermomix
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Boil Veroma/Speed 1/ 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.
Regular cooking
  1. Add the water and sugar
  2. Bring to the boil for 10 mins
  3. Leave to cool completely
  4. Fill containers with fresh strawberries and pour the cool syrup over it and add the flavours.
  5. Place in the freezer, giving it time to naturally defrost when you want to use it.