Monday, June 28, 2010


This warm weather really does call for a different style of eating - barbecues are perfect, as are salads.  This soup/risotto also hits the spot, it doesn't call for standing over the stove stirring (no hardship in the winter, but just too hot at the moment) but feels more of a meal than a bowl of soup.

Risi e bisi (from Nigella Summer) is the basis for this dish, I had intended on using the bunch of peas that came in this week's vegetable box - but (confession time) they didn't last until dinner, actually they didn't last an hour, I ate them all while planning what to cook with them!!!!!!  But I have to say they were delicious, I don't regret a single pod ;-)

I turned to the ever ready frozen peas (the friend of every cook) and even the veg phobic one enjoyed this.  I did blitz the peas before adding the rice, so the texture suited him - the taste would have to please anyone, it was sweet, savoury and really, really fresh.

This is my version:

Pea and Rice Soup

3/4 litre      hot chicken stock
200g          frozen peas
1 tbsp        butter
2 tbsp        grated parmesan cheese + the cheese rind (if you have one handy)*
1 tbsp        olive oil
1               shallot
1 tbsp       chopped mint
110g         risotto rice (best quality you can get)

Gently fry the shallot in the butter and oil until soft and translucent.
Add the peas and mint and stir in the buttery oil for a few minutes.
Add some of the stock and blitz this mixture until smooth.
Add the rice and coat in the pea mixture.
Add the stock and the cheese rind (if available).
Simmer for about 15 minutes or until the rice is cooked.
Pour into bowls and sprinkle over the grated parmesan cheese.
Serve and enjoy.

*I always save my parmesan rinds, and keep them in the freezer to use in soups and risottos.

Sunday, June 27, 2010


As you are all well aware by now, I am an enthusiastic subscriber to the "maximum taste, minimum effort" school of cooking - and this sauce could be the school's emblem!!!

This is a redcurrant jelly, mint and orange sauce and it goes beautifully with roast lamb, wonderfully with lamb cutlets and is simply heavenly in a lamb sandwich!!!!!!

I use it to glaze  lamb chops (cutlets) before I cook them on the barbecue or ridged pan, and then add some more just before I serve them.  I use it instead of butter in a sandwich - virtuous deliciousness.  It is just sooo much nicer than mint sauce to serve with roast lamb, particularly if your lamb has been studded with garlic, rosemary and lemon.

The one stipulation is that you use a good quality redcurrant jelly, with as high a fruit content as possible - it really makes a difference, I have made the mistake of using an own brand jar (they had run out of the good stuff) and would never do it again!!  This recipe is a "Delia"!

Redcurrant, Orange and Mint Sauce

4 tbsp           redcurrant jelly
Finely grated zest from 1 medium orange
2 tbsp           finely chopped mint

Place these ingredients in a bowl and stir well , making sure that there are no lumps.
Decant to a serving bowl.
Wait for the ohhhs and ahhhs!!

Friday, June 25, 2010


Super easy, super tasty, we have had a run of really nice dinners (doesn't happen often!!) - I wonder if it is this good weather?  Inspiration or the fact that I feel I shouldn't be in the kitchen (should be out getting some vitamin D into my bones) and therefore am spending all my time in said kitchen!!

One of the recent successes was this baked monkfish, which I served with a sugar snap pea and pea dish, roast potatoes (as always!) and a mouthwatering salad (thanks to my vegetable box scheme).


Monkfish with Lemon

2           Monkfish tail fillets  
1/4       Preserved lemon or segments of fresh lemon
12        Cherry tomatoes, semi sundries tomatoes would be best.
1 tbsp   Capers - drained
Extra virgin olive oil

Remove the membrane from the monkfish (this is very tough) and cut into large pieces (monkfish shrinks dramatically when cooked).
Chop the preserved lemon finely, or segment a fresh lemon, make sure to remove all pith (from the fresh not the preserved!!)
Chop the tomatoes in half.
Place the fish on a tray covered in tinfoil (makes the clean up much easier) then scatter with the lemon, capers, and tomatoes. 
Drizzle with the olive oil.
Roast for about 15 - 20 minutes.
Cut a piece of fish to ensure it is cooked through.


Peas and Pesto

4             Baby onions/6 Scallions
1 pkt       Sugar snap peas
2 cups     Frozen petite pois
1 tbsp     Pesto

In a wok or large frying pan sautee the onion  in some olive oil until tender and starting to brown at the edges.
Add the sugar snap peas and cook for about 2 minutes.
Add the frozen peas and the pesto.
Cook until the peas are warm.

I love Wimbledon, I love the tennis and the memories of watching as a teenager imagining that I was married to the better looking players (McEnroe was a particular favourite!!) and I love the strawberries and cream that I associate with it.  As an homage to Wimbledon I made Eton Mess for dessert.  I chopped up a punnet of strawberries and added a little icing sugar and a teaspoon of good balsamic vinegar then I crushed some M & S meringues into a tub of Genisk Greek yogurt and mixed the whole lot together!!  It was really good, probably better than when made with cream - give it a go!!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010


Sometimes perfection is not what you are after, and I certainly didn't achieve it here!!  But for all the lack of achievement in the looks department, this roulade really made up for it in taste.

We have a system in my family - I do all the hard work, finding recipes that really work, playing with them, getting them just right - then my sisters take them over as their own, and lap up all the praise!!!!!!  Actually it is quite fair, as I am a culinary butterfly (!) and get bored with making the same recipe again and again, I love to try new things, live on the wild side (so to speak!).

Sometimes, though, you have to go back to the old reliables, we have been making this roulade for forever, I don't even remember where the original recipe came from (think it might be Darina Allen, not sure though), and it is a firm favourite at get togethers and parties (and after parties - sister #1 always has to make extra for the next day, otherwise there would be a mutiny in her house!).

It was my baby's birthday recently (some baby, he's taller than me!) and I decided to make the roulade for him - there had been an incident a few years ago where he ate an entire roulade at his Granny's birthday party  (without being sick)!!, so I know he really likes it.

I forgot to make the sponge part the day before, hence the fact that it didn't roll smoothly, but I quite like the rustic look!  This is how it should look:

Chocolate Roulade

6 oz/ 170g           dark chocolate*
6oz/171g             caster sugar (I use golden)
3 tbsp                  hot water
5                          eggs
1/4 pt /250ml       cream

Prepare swiss roll tin (13"x9") with baking paper.
Preheat oven to 180 C

Melt the chocolate and 1tbsp water in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Separate the eggs.
Whisk egg whites and set aside for the moment.
Whisk the yolks and sugar together until light, pale and fluffy.
Stir 2 tbsp of hot water into the chocolate mixture.
Beat chocolate mixture into the egg yolk and sugar.
Fold the light fluffy egg white into this mixture 1/3 at a time, being as careful as possible to keep the air in.
Pour into the prepared tin, making sure the mixture goes right up to the edges.
Bake for 15 minutes, until it looks springy and cooked, skewer test wont work here, it needs to feel bouncy to the touch.
Remove from the oven, cover with a damp cloth and leave over night in the tin.
Before serving spread whipped cream and using the baking paper to help you, roll up as neatly as you can.
Sprinkle with icing sugar.

*70% is just too strong here, 50% is plenty (we often use Bournville)

Sunday, June 20, 2010


This is my entry to the  No Croutons Required  (courgette salad or soup) competition over on Jacqueline's wonderful blog Tinned Tomatoes.  It was inspired by this week's vegetable basket, and was deemed a huge success by even the non courgette eaters here.

The soft, smooth grated courgette was a wonderful textural contrast to the crunchy barely cooked french beans.  The mellow caramelised onion brought a warm back note to this otherwise zingy salad - this salad will be a regular visitor to our table over the summer.

French Bean and Courgette Salad

4           baby onions (or about 6 scallions/spring onions)
2           handfuls of french beans
1           medium sized courgette
1 tbsp   olive oil


4 tbsp   extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp   cider vinegar
1 tsp     Dijon mustard
1 tsp     honey
salt and pepper

Fry the onion gently in the olive oil until soft and slightly caramelized.
Grate  the courgette while waiting for the onions to cook.
Add the french beans to the onions and toss.
After about a minute add the courgette and cook for a further minute.
Remove from the heat.
Combine the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad.
Allow to cool and serve.
As with most salads this is nicest served at room temperature.



Could this be the perfect breakfast? Organic raspberries (from the box scheme), Glenisk organic Greek Yogurt, (I am so delighted I discovered this product) super healthy raspberry muffins, good coffee and a great book, eaten outside on a warm, sunny morning.

Regular readers will be aware of my ongoing mission to add more fruit and vegetables to the diet of son #2 (the veg phobic one!!), and to this end I recently bought a new cookbook (like I needed an excuse!!) Harry Eastwood's "Red Velvet Chocolate Heartache", in which she replaces the fat in recipes with vegetables (!).  I reckoned that if they tasted good, we would all be winners, and I also hoped that there would be plenty of recipes to use up the courgette glut (there are always loads of courgettes in the weekly box, and I'm the only one here who likes them!).

I have to say that this books reads very well (not the silly introductions to the recipes - the recipes themselves) and I was really looking forward to getting my teeth into it (sorry about the pun ;-{),  there are 20 recipes using courgette (roll on the glut!!).  As I am having a bit of a raspberry muffin thing at the moment, I honed in on the "Lemon, sunflower seed and blueberry muffin" recipe and then proceeded to change it!!  I replaced the lemon zest with orange (I already had two naked lemons in the fridge - didn't need any more!!) and the blueberries with raspberries (they are what I like, and I have plenty in the freezer).  I also added some lime extract (to explain the little green flecks in the muffins - clever or what!!!)

The muffins are delicious (although haven't been tried by the intended target yet!) there is no hint of the vegetables within,  the sunflower seeds make a nice change to nuts, but could easily be replaced with whatever nut you fancy.  The orange zest and raspberry are a great combination, and the texture is just about right, slightly drier than a fat filled muffin, but only very slightly, and that's a price I'm willing to pay.

Orange, Sunflower Seed and Raspberry Muffins

160g            caster sugar
3                  medium eggs
250g            finely grated courgette
zest from 1 orange
180g           white rice flour*
160g           ground almonds
2 tsp           baking powder
1/4 tsp        bread (bicarbonate of) soda
1/4 tsp       salt
60g            sunflower seeds
150g          raspberries

Line a 12 hole muffin tray with cases
Preheat oven to 180 C.

Beat the eggs and sugar until light, pale and creamy (will take about 3 mins with electric whisk)
Add the grated courgette and orange zest.
Now with a spatula add the flour, ground almonds, baking powder and bread soda and working as quickly as you can combine gently (keep in the air that you have beaten into the egg mixture).
Add the sunflower seeds and raspberries as quickly (and gently) as you can.
Divide the mixture between the muffin cases (Harry says that you get 8 muffins from this mixture, I got 12 (happy days!)
Place the muffin tray in the center of the oven - here she emphasises that it is really important not to faff about at this stage as you don't want the oven temp to decrease - you need a hot oven to "encourage them upwards as soon as they enter the heat"
Bake for approx. 30 - 35 minutes.
Remove from oven when a skewer comes out clean.
Cool on a wire rack.

*I only had 120g of rice flour so added 60g of ordinary flour.

                                            This week's basket of wonderfulness!!!

Thursday, June 17, 2010


I love this time of year, my organic vegetable box scheme has resumed for the summer .... I really look forward to each Saturday when Niamh arrives with a basket of goodies, it's like a mini birthday each week!!  (easily satisfied or what?!).  This is my first basket of the year - those potatoes were out of this world, the salad was delicious and beautiful, but the tarragon was another story (not the tarragon, but the abject failure of a Bearnaise sauce I tried to make with it :-{{)  I did take a photo but I'm ashamed to put it up near the beauty of the vegetables!! (It is shown below where it belongs !!)


Another highlight of this time of year is samphire, I nearly jumped up and down with delight last week when our (excellent) local fish shop - Connolly's, had it in stock (they are used to me by this stage!).  When they started to stock samphire some years ago, I received a gift of a large bag full, for being the first customer to recognise it and give recipe suggestions. (Proud Day!!).

Yesterday we had prawns wrapped in lemon sole with samphire, mushrooms and roast potatoes for dinner,  I could recommend it as a dinner for any occasion - and am planning to serve it next time we have friends over for dinner.  I think this way of preparing the dish is an improvement on the way I cooked it last week.


It is much easier to eat prawns when someone else has done the hard work (somehow when we go to restaurants and someone orders prawns - I'm the one who ends up shelling them!!).  I think that by wrapping the prawns in the sole you get a portion of both in each mouthful, which is a really good thing.  Although it has to be said that shelling and veining (?) prawns is not a fun job!

                     The reason why there was no Hollandaise sauce served with dinner - my confidence took a tumble when I tried to make the Bearnaise!!!


Lemon Sole Stuffed With Prawns

1     medium lemon sole per person (skinned)
2     large fresh (uncooked) prawns per person                              
lemon zest                                                                      
lemon juice
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 180 C

Prepare the prawns being sure to remove the dark thread down the back.
Lay the prawns on the narrow end of the sole.
Scatter lemon zest over the fish (I use the microplane grater) and season.
Squeeze lemon juice over and then drizzle with some olive oil.
Roll up, and roast for about 20 minutes.

I just stir fried/steamed the samphire in lemon juice (white wine is good too).

You can of course use any fish you like.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010


This cake is a real favourite here and I make it regularly, then I go searching for the new and glamorous (!), but I always come back to the old faithful.  This recipe has many things going for it - A.  it keeps beautifully, (which is good because) B.  it makes three  fruit loafs, C. it is practically fat free (just whatever fat is in the egg yolks) and finally D. I don't like tea or most dried fruit, so there is no danger of me pigging out on it!!!!!!

The recipe comes from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook (2) - you should just see the state of this page in my book!!!  You do need a bit of preparation for these cakes, as you leave the fruit to absorb the whiskey and tea overnight - but this is really worth while as it makes them so moist .

I'm going to visit S (who has had her gall bladder operation) and will bring one of these along - a cake that is very low fat, tastes good, AND is healthy - with all that fruit ( if you forget about the sugar!), possibly the perfect "Get Well Soon" gift  (she says hopefully!!!).

This is the recipe as it has evolved:

Fruit Loaf

400g               brown sugar
2 1/2  cups      hot tea
1/2     cup       whiskey
450g               luxury mixed fruit
350g              sultanas or raisins
100g              cherries (glace)
3                    eggs
250g               plain flour
200g               wholemeal flour
3 tsp               baking powder
1tsp                cinnamon
2 tsp                mixed spice

Dissolve the sugar in the hot, strong tea. *
Add the whiskey and then the fruit.
Soak overnight.
Next day preheat the oven to 170 C.
Prepare three loaf tins (900g) with baking paper.
Mix the eggs, flour, cinnamon, mixed spice and baking powder to the fruit mixture.
Pour into the prepared tins.
Bake for one hour.
When cooked a skewer will come out clean.
Remove from oven and allow to cool on a wire rack.

* I usually use loose tea, but if I use bags I leave them in the fruit overnight (to get maximum flavour) if you do this it is VERY IMPORTANT not to forget to take them out before baking as it is very embarrassing to cut into a cake and find a tea bag (she says with a red face!) in the slice you are about to serve.

Friday, June 11, 2010


This was a densely, deeply, darkly chocolaty cake, it should have been perfection - but I overcooked it!!

I should have followed my instincts - but instead I followed the recipe!!  My oven usually takes much longer than any recipe specifies to bake anything, but in this case I should have taken the cake out sooner than specified.  I actually did check (so I can't even blame the oven- and man has that oven had it's fair share of blame heaped on it!!!).  I did the testing with the spaghetti bit - but I should have taken the cake out of the oven while it was still moist (less than a brownie but more than a cake) and not have waited until it came out clean.  Doooh!

That said, this cake is a keeper.  I served it at a party with a number of other desserts - it was a good addition to the spread.  The key to this cake is the raisiny, rich cream that is served along side it.  They compliment each other to perfection.

I am trying to use some of the cook books I have stockpiled - my new rule is that I can't buy a new cook book until I have cooked two recipes from an unused one (my cook book buying rules are very similar to my diet rules in that they change to suit whatever temptation is in front of me!!!!)  This is my second foray into Diana Henry's "Crazy Water Pickled Lemons" (the Preserved Lemons were the first) and I have plenty more "post-its" sticking up waiting for attention! (I stick in a "post-it" when I fancy a recipe, not very tidy)

Chocolate, Hazelnut and Sherry Cake with Sherry-Raisin Cream

150g             Dark Chocolate
75g               Butter
125ml           Dry fino sherry
6                   medium eggs - separated
160g             caster sugar
150g             shelled, toasted hazelnuts - coarsely chopped
55g               self-raising flour
55g               cocoa

Preheat oven to 180 C
Prepare a 22cm (8 1/2 in) spring form cake tin.  I line mine with parchment.

Melt the butter, chocolate and sherry in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water.  Allow to cool slightly.
Whisk the egg yolk with the sugar until light and glossy.
Add the chocolate mixture and 70g of the hazelnuts.
Beat the egg whites until stiff.
Fold some of these whites into the chocolate mixture to loosen it.
Then fold in the rest, alternating with the sifted flour and cocoa.
Pour into the prepared tin and bake for 50 minutes.*
When a skewer comes out slightly (very slightly) moist remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 30 minutes - then turn out onto a wire rack.

* Diana says after 50 minutes "test the cake with a skewer and if it comes out clean, it's done; otherwise leave in for another 5 - 10 minutes"

Sherry-Raisin Cream

250g            raisins
250ml          oloroso sherry (I used Pedro Ximenez)
300ml          double cream
60ml            Greek yogurt
60g              icing sugar

Heat the raisins in the sherry in a small pan.
Turn off when just under boiling point - leave to plump up and cool.
Whip the cream and add the yogurt and sugar to it.
Add the plumped up raising and any remaining sherry.

To serve dust the cake with icing sugar and scatter the remaining 70g of  chopped hazelnuts over it.
Plate up with a dollop of  sherry cream on the side.


Thursday, June 10, 2010


Sometimes the really simple salads are the best.  This salad was an afterthought I just threw a packet of baby spinach in a bowl sprinkled over some semi sun(oven)dried tomatoes with their oil, olives  feta cheese and balsamic vinegar, it was really good.  Each and every flavour was distinct and they complimented each other beautifully.  Couldn't be easier or tastier!

A few years ago my wonderful friend K. gave me a gift of a days cookery course with Kevin Dundon in Dunbrody House.  We had a great time - and learned loads.  Although even Kevin was unable to teach me how to chop onions properly, I really wish I could chop onions properly (you know with the flying knife the way the chefs on telly do it!!)

One of the handy basics Kevin covered was Oven Dried Tomatoes, they are incredibly easy, and the slow cooking intensifies the flavour of the tomatoes (and can actually give some flavour to our awful supermarket specimens).  I have simplified the recipe a little over the years, and this is what I do:

Oven Dried Tomatoes

10          Tomatoes  (or about 40 cherry tomatoes)
4 tbsp     Extra Virgin Olive Oil
4             Garlic Cloves
2 tbsp     Chopped Fresh Thyme

Quarter the tomatoes or cut into eight if very large (cut cherry tomatoes in half)
Measure the oil into a small bowl and grate the garlic into the oil (this prevents the garlic charring)
Place the tomatoes in a roasting dish and sprinkle with the thyme.
Drizzle the garlicy oil over the tomatoes and leave in a warm oven for a few hours.*
They are ready when they have a slightly dried texture at the edges.
Store in a jar covered with extra virgin olive oil in the fridge.  (This oil is wonderful in salads)

*Kevin said to put the tomatoes into the oven after cooking the Sunday roast, and that the tomatoes would cook in the residual heat.  I have found that this is not enough to dry the tomatoes, and I roast them in a low (about 100 C) oven for  3 hours.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


Barbados Cream is the first recipe I made when How to Eat (Nigella Lawson) came into the house, and I have been making it for every party, dinner party and bun fight ever since!!

It goes with everything, be it a bowl of fresh fruit (love it with strawberries) a cake (great with any chocolate) or even a pie or crumble - versatile should be its middle name!!

The other attraction to this dessert is the praise, it comes in bucket loads when you serve Barbados Cream!!  I could not tell you the number of people who have told me that it is delicious and ask for the recipe, when I tell them what to do they look at me very sceptically (they think I'm hiding some essential information) something this good should not be this easy.

The recipe consists of equal quantities of Greek yogurt and double cream, topped with a heavy layer of good brown sugar, allow the sugar to meld into the creamy mixture for 24 hours.  The result is a fudge like cream, totally delicious.

You can ring the changes with the yogurt - it is good with a creamy vanilla or a coconut yogurt.  I don't think most fruit yogurt would work though.

                                         Here is the finished Barbados Cream on the left.

Barbados Cream

300ml               double cream (ordinary cream is fine in Ireland)
300g                 Greek Yogurt (Glenisk organic is really fantastic)
75g                   soft brown sugar (enough for a thick layer over the cream mixture)

Beat the cream until softly stiff (not too stiff though)
Fold in the Greek yogurt.
Transfer to your shallow serving dish (you want as large a surface area as possible)
Sprinkle thickly with the sugar (as above)
Cover with cling film and store in the fridge overnight (24 hours is best)
Wait for the praise!!!!!!!

You can of course change the amount of cream and yogurt you use to suit what you have in the fridge and/or the size of your dish - just keep them approximately equal portions of each.


Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I was wondering would a raspberry muffin count as one of your "five a day"?  I'm desperate here folks!!!!!

Seriously though, there is something about a fruit laden muffin that makes them feel like a (slightly) virtuous treat - think of all the vitamins!  I have been on a bit of a fruit muffin quest of late and have two of my current favourites to offer to you*.  The ones above are from by Casey, they are really easy and make up a good big batch (they also keep very well), they were originally banana muffins but I think the raspberry works particularly well with raspberries.

I came across the second of my recipes on Chef Dennis's blog and had to give them a go the minute I saw the recipe - which called for blueberries (I thought I had a box of blueberries in the freezer, but they somehow morphed into raspberries!!!) Dennis called these the best muffins he had ever made, so you'll know why I had to try them.

You are probably wondering why I am giving two recipes for the same confection - I have found it handy to alternate between the two recipes, depending on what is in the larder and fridge.  More importantly they are both excellent - too hard to choose between them!!

Casey's Super Moist Muffins

3           cups self raising flour
1 1/2     cups caster sugar
3 tsp      baking powder
2           eggs
1           cup vegetable oil
1 1/2     cups natural yogurt
1           cup fruit (mashed banana/raspberries/etc)

Preheat oven to 160 C
Prepare muffin tin with paper cases (I made 12 mini muffins and about 8 medium sized ones)

Mix dry ingredients
Mix wet ingredients
Add the wet ingredients to the dry - as always don't over mix.
Spoon into the prepared muffin cases.
Bake at 160 C for 20 - 30 minutes (until a skewer comes out clean)

Chef Dennis's Blueberry Muffins

2            cups flour
1            cup sugar
1/2 tsp   baking powder
1/2 tsp   bread (bicarbonate of) soda
1/2 tsp   salt
2 cups   blueberries (or raspberries) fresh or frozen
3           lightly beaten eggs
1           cup sour cream/Greek yogurt
1/2        cup oil
1 tsp     vanilla

Preheat oven to 200C
Prepare muffin tin

Mix dry ingredients
Add blueberries and toss.
Mix wet ingredients.
Add wet ingredients to the dry ones, barely mix.
Pour into prepared muffin tin.
Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 20 - 30 minutes.


*These muffins probably retain top billing, but then there is chocolate involved!!!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I'm in need of something savoury - I have a bit of a sugar headache after the last number of posts!!

I saw Tyler Florence making this coleslaw on his Tyler's Ultimate programme and thought it looked really interesting, an alternative to the usual cabbage and carrot coleslaw.  I love coleslaw (particularly if there is a high carrot to cabbage ratio) but am always on the lookout for unusual, tasty salads.  This salad stands out on a table, the vibrant colour really does deliver on it  promise - it tastes really delicious.  The goats cheese in the dressing is a wonderful sharp contrast to the mild and slightly sweet taste of the squash.  The pecans are crunchy flavour filled morsels scattered through the salad offering both a textural and taste complexity.  The recipe called for some dried cranberries, but I found these to be just too sweet - the squash is sweet enough as it is.  This is my version:

Butternut Squash Coleslaw

150g          creamy goats cheese (not the type with rind)
2 1/2 tbsp  honey
4 tbsp        extra virgin olive oil
4 tsp          cider vinegar
1                lemon  juiced
2                medium squash
1/2 cup      toasted pecan nuts

Mix the cheese, honey, oil, vinegar and lemon juice and adjust to your taste if needed.
Remove the narrow top from the squash (use the bulb portion (with the seeds) for something else)
Peel the squash top and julienne it - the food processor is great for this.
Combine the squash and dressing and nuts.
Season to taste.


Wednesday, June 2, 2010


AMERICAN                                     IMPERIAL                       METRIC

1 cup flour                                             5oz                                    150g

1 cup caster granulated sugar                 8oz                                    225g

1 cup brown sugar                                 6oz                                     175g

1 cup butter/margarine/lard                    8oz                                      225g

1 stick butter                                         4oz                                     110g

1 cup sultanas/raisins                             7oz                                      200g

1 cup currants/cranberries                     5oz                                        150g

1 cup ground almonds                          4oz                                         110g

1 cup golden syrup /honey                    12oz                                       350g

I found a version of this chart over on Like Mam Used To Bake  and I thought it was a great idea - I have printed it out and stuck it to the inside of my baking press (cupboard).  I am particularly happy to have the stick of butter measurement here, and I find it really hard to get that simple conversion into my thick skull!!!!

P.S. No reason for the photo of the calves other than I think they are so cute (even when they have kept me awake all night!!!)

Please forgive the fact that the chart is all over the place!!!!!!  I just can't figure out how to get it right.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010


Imagine we are up to double figures on the brownie count - and there are so many more to try!!

These are the mint chocolate brownies I made last week - as we had some "After Eight" Easter eggs* left over from the chocolate overdose that is Easter (the boys wouldn't be big fans of mint chocolate)  I decided the coffee morning would be a good opportunity to experiment.  And I have to say it was a success - I received more texts about these brownies than anything else I served!!!

I used the brownie recipe from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook (2) and I am really looking forward to making them again with plain chocolate, they were pretty much perfect texture wise - you can see from the photo just how crispy the top was, and the center was as moist and squidgy as you could wish for.  The mint chocolate brought a surprising element to the cake which was delicious, I am looking forward to using other flavoured chocolate (or just flavouring it myself!!) coffee, orange, chili all spring to mind.

The recipe called for you to whisk the eggs and sugar for quite a long time, I haven't ever done this making brownies before.  Actually I think as this whisking probably contributed to the wonderful texture I will do it in future (time allowing!!)

This recipe makes a large pan of brownies,  it says that it makes 8 - 12,  if so they would be huge, really huge!!  I probably got twice that number.

Mint Chocolate Brownies

225g            butter
225g            dark mint chocolate (you can use plain of course!!)
4                  eggs
225g            brown sugar
110g            plain flour
80g              nuts (I used mint chocolate pieces)

Preheat oven to 170 C
Prepare a  30x20cm pan with parchment paper (or grease and line it)

Melt the butter and chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water.
Whisk the eggs and sugar for about 10 minutes until very thick and pale.
Stir in the chocolate mixture. 
Fold in the flour and chocolate pieces (nuts)
Pour into the prepared tin.
Bake for 30-35 minutes - or until the center feels slightly firm, and the top has a lovely glaze.
Remove from the oven and cover with a damp tea towel, leave to cool on a wire rack.
When cold cut into squares.


*For anyone not familiar with After Eight Easter Eggs - they are a mint flavoured dark chocolate.  They do not contain fondant (After Eight wafers have a lovely mint fondant in them).