Friday, June 24, 2011


The newest Brownievillers on the block have been raving about the delicious scones with raspberries they had when they were visiting my sister in Galway recently,  I just knew they had this one right - like having the jam inside the scone - nice one!!!

This month's We Should Cocoa Challenge was to create something delicious with both chocolate and strawberries - wonderful timing, our local strawberries are just perfect at the moment, deep dark red and brim full of flavour (I actually find it hard to use them in a recipe - I just want to gobble them up straight from the carton!!)  I decided to try my hand at some scones, with nuggets of strawberry and grated white chocolate within - figured it would please the little ones anyway!!

As regular readers will know, I have been striving to find the perfect scone recipe for some time - I have finally decided the the two things necessary for really good scones are: frozen butter and slightly sour cream!  You might think I'm mad (join the queue!!) but try it and see  - I'd love to know how you get on.

It is much easier to cut scones into these shapes then the usual rounds - no rerolling of the dough!

The scones turned out really well, the soft sweet nuggets of strawberry were just about prefect - no jam necessary!  The chocolate on the other hand didn't really have any impact on the taste - next time I plan to use chunks of chocolate (similar in size to the strawberry pieces) - but these were so nummy, that there will definitely be a next time!

Strawberry and White Chocolate Scones
adapted from the Avoca recipe

450g/1lb          self raising flour
pinch                baking powder
pinch                salt
50g/2 oz           caster sugar
110g/4oz          frozen butter (I keep a few weighted out butter blocks in the freezer for when the scone mood strikes!)
1                     egg, beaten
50ml/2fl oz      cream (I think it's best if slightly sour)
200ml/7fl oz     milk (more if necessary)
10                    medium strawberries
100g/4 oz        white chocolate (grated or chopped into chunks)
1                     egg - to make the glaze

Preheat oven to 180 C

Sieve the flour into a large bowl.
Add the salt, sugar and baking powder.
Grate the frozen butter into the flour - I use the large grate size on my box grater.
Add the chocolate and mix gently with your hand.
Add the egg, cream and most of the milk.
Mix well until it has a soft texture - it's important that it's not too moist.
Add more milk if necessary.
Gently add the strawberries.
Gather the mixture into a ball and place on a floured surface.
Press out into a rectangle shape about 2.5cm/1 inch thick.
Cut into your preferred shapes - keeping everything to a similar size.
Make your glaze with a beaten egg and a tiny amount of water, and brush over the scones.
Transfer to a greased/lined baking sheet.
Bake in oven for 15-20 minutes, or until well browned.


Sunday, June 19, 2011


Dom over at the wonderful Belleau Kitchen has challenged us to cook a random recipe from our most recent cook book - great idea, how many of us buy/receive a new cookbook, devour the recipes and pictures and then cast it aside for the old reliables (kinda have to put my hand up on that one!) - Thanks Dom.

I was having a really hard time remembering which was my most recent acquisition (cook book wise) - I knew that I hadn't bought anything recently, but was it as far back as Christmas? - couldn't be, but then I couldn't remember anything more recent - it was really bugging me!!  But then the Lovely Louise came to my rescue, and gave me a "cheer you up" present of "The Food of France" (a journey for food lovers) by Maria Villegas and Sarah Randell.  This is a delightful book, brim full of interesting, doable recipes and mouthwatering pictures. (Thanks Lou xxx)

My luck was in when I opened the book, I actually had most of the ingredients (and just left out the ones I didn't have) - I thought I was just opening it to write my shopping list!!  My luck was still in when we tasted the dish - delicious, delicious, delicious!  I was told that it was "better than any restaurant" (what an ego booster!).  This dish would be perfect for a dinner party, it's really impressive and really easy, what more can you ask!

I have to say that the quality of the fish and prawns is really important here - the sauce is light and the fish has to be as fresh as possible.  As always my local fish shop (Connollys) came up trumps, not only was the fish delicious, but Kieran actually peeled the prawns for me!

I served the Sole Normande with samphire, which I tossed in the creamy sauce over a high heat for a couple of minutes - it was just perfect.  Asparagus or green beans would also to good accompaniments, anything green with a bit of crunch, actually.


12             prawns (shrimp) (I used more)
500ml        white wine
12             shucked oysters (I didn't have any, so left them out)
12             small button mushrooms (mine weren't particularly small, so I sliced them)
4              sole fillets (I used small, skinned whole Dover Sole)
250ml       cream (I used much less, about 120 ml)
1               truffle, thinly sliced (another ingredient I left out!)
1 tbsp       chopped parsley (the only ingredient I omitted, that I will add next time)

Put the wine in a deep frying pan (I used a wok) and bring to the boil.
Add the oysters (if using) and poach for 2-3 minutes, remove from the wine with a slotted spoon  and keep warm.
Add the peeled and deveined prawns to the bubbling wine and cook until pink and cooked through, about 3 minutes. Lift out and keep warm.
Poach the mushrooms for 5 minutes or until cooked through, remove and keep warm.
Place the sole carefully into the poaching liquid, and cook for about 5 minutes (depends on the size of your fish) until just cooked through -  remove the fish and put to one side.
Add the cream to the poaching liquid and bring to the boil, boil until reduced by half and thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon (I didn't reduce it by this much, as I was after a lighter texture)
Season with salt and pepper (be careful with the salt if you are serving with samphire, which is very salty)
Put the sole on a serving dish, scatter with the prawns, oysters (if using), mushrooms, and truffle (again, if using) and parsley and serve while it's still hot!


Saturday, June 4, 2011


The wonderful Chele over at The Chocolate Teapot challenged us to come up with our best roulade recipe (containing chocolate of course!) for last month's We Should Cocoa - the (wonderful) round up is on Choclette's blog (well worth a visit).

My late sister was the queen of roulades (my son once ate an entire one of her roulades in minutes flat - they were that good!! (luckily she had made quite a few on that occasion!)), as I could never compete (as if I would want to!!)  I thought that I would go down the meringue roulade route for a change.

I had made the Strawberry meringue roulade from the Avoca Cafe Cookbook some time ago and decided that with a bit of tweaking it would be just the thing.  I pretty much followed their recipe, but added grated white chocolate (going from fine in the cream to very coarse in the meringue) and it worked a treat. I was conscious that the chocolate could take a sweet dessert over the edge, so added an additional egg white, and I think it did the trick.  The white chocolate element wasn't too powerful, but it did add a wonderful deep vanilla hit - a perfect summer dessert!

When the meringue came out of the oven I wondered if I would be able to roll it!!

I was tempted to serve it as a (flat) pavlova!!

Raspberry and White Chocolate Meringue Roulade

5                large egg whites
225g          caster sugar (I think golden is best)
250ml        whipped cream
200g          white chocolate
2                punnets raspberries

Line a 30x20cm  swiss roll tin with parchment paper
Preheat oven to 150 C

Grate half the chocolate with a fine grater, the other half with a coarse one.
Beat the egg whites and half the sugar to snowy peaks (electric beater and clean bowl essential!)
Gradually add the remaining sugar, continuing to whisk for 10 minutes, until it forms stiff peaks.
Fold in the coarsely grated white chocolate carefully.
Spread the mixture into the tin and bake for 1 hour.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin.
Turn out onto a fresh sheet of baking parchment (or a clean tea towel) and carefully peel of the lining paper.
Spread over the cream (which you have whipped and folded in the finely grated chocolate to) and scatter the raspberries all over.
Roll up as best you can - doesn't really matter how good you are at this, it tastes so good you will be forgiven!!!