Cooking, family meals, Farmers' Market, Food, Recipes, Shopping

Keeping It Local – Apple & Black Pudding Bread

I love shopping in Farmers’ Markets – I love talking to the stall holders and wondering how I’m going to use their products.  When I lived in Dublin I loved wandering around Temple Bar Market on a Saturday morning, deciding what to cook that evening. On a trip to San Francisco a few years ago I was in heaven in the Farmers’ Markets in Berkeley and in the Ferry Building.  And then there was the fun exploring the St Lawrence Market in Toronto with some of my fellow Fáilte Ireland Food Champions.

So why not have a Farmers’ Market in Tullamore? Continue reading “Keeping It Local – Apple & Black Pudding Bread”

Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, desserts, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes

Junior Cooks & Soda Bread

My nieces, nephews and friends’ children seem to love cooking here and I enjoy working with them and encouraging them to try different things. Though I suspect the freedom to make a mess could be one of the main attractions ………

I’ve been asked more than once if I would do cookery classes for children so with two of my nieces visiting and my friend Kay about to head back to Brunei with her two children, I decided it was time to experiment.

We started with traditional Soda bread ….Thanks to Isabella and Savannah for setting up the table

Soda BreadThe table didn’t stay clean for long once the mixing started.  I think there was a competition to see who could shake out the most flour and some of the mixes were a bit wet! They loved the stories about the cross in the cake to to represent the four provinces and there were lots of holes made to let the fairies escape.

Continue reading “Junior Cooks & Soda Bread”

book review, Cookbooks, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

Books For Cooks & Corn Soup

Thursday night is date night here. I cook, he brings the wine and we both relax. It started as an excuse for me to try out new dishes using the Chief Taster as the guinea pig but with all that’s being going on this summer we went a little off track, The night we resorted to shop bought pizza I knew it was time for a rethink.

Continue reading “Books For Cooks & Corn Soup”

Baking, Catering, Cookery Classes, desserts, Recipes

Midlands Cheesecake

When asked about Irish food producing areas the Midlands is rarely the first place that comes to mind  but did you know that we have our own honey, ice cream, yoghurts, sausages, cordials, cheese, chocolate, bread, chorizo …..to name but a few products

Continue reading “Midlands Cheesecake”

Cooking, family meals, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Wine

A “Lidl” Midweek Treat

As a rule I don’t buy meat in supermarkets, but when I came across guinea fowl in the Lidl Deluxe range I admit I gave into temptation as I’m a big fan of this bird but find it very difficult to buy locally. The one on offer was frozen and reduced from €9.99 to €7.99 so I bought it as a midweek treat.

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Continue reading “A “Lidl” Midweek Treat”

Cookery Classes, Cooking, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Local food, Recipes

Summer Cooking

There’s something about cooking and eating outside that makes food taste better. As soon as the sun comes out my kitchen  doors are thrown open and the patio becomes my dining room. Given the vagrancies of an Irish Summer it’s important to be ready to grab every opportunity to enjoy the sun so the last thing you want to do is spend hours in the kitchen. This pork and apple burger fits the bill and the asparagus ‘slaw is the perfect accompaniment. A nice chilled glass of wine and what more could you need? Continue reading “Summer Cooking”

Baking, Cakes, Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

When we were children everywhere was closed on Good Friday, the Fast day was adhered to and you weren’t even  supposed to speak between 12 and 3pm. There wasn’t  anything to watch on TV except the Long Good Friday.  The only good thing was the bag of hot cross buns that my Mum used to buy from McGinn’s bakery. These sticky buns were delicious with lashings of butter – we protested that they counted as a collation and so formed part of the Fast Day diet.

Good Friday is now almost  like any other day except for Hot Cross Buns that is. McGinn’s no longer exists – it’s now the CopperPot Still Pub. I’m not even sure how many people observe the Fast Day anymore.

In the last few years I have started making my own hot cross buns to see if I can recreate that childhood taste. I’ve had various degrees of success but I never seem to remember to write down how I made them or which recipe I followed.

This year I am going with a twist as I want to include Hot Cross Buns in my Easter Chocolate Class in Butlers Chocolates.  And because people like to know how to reproduce what I demonstrate I’ve even remembered to write down how I made them 🙂

I took my inspiration from a number of recipes but I’ve broken a few rules by adding everything in together. I came across the idea of using the muffin trays on the Taste Australia website and it’s such a good idea I can’t believe I hadn’t come across it before.

There’s a bit of time involved in making these but trust me they’re worth it 🙂

Chocolate Hot Cross Buns

Makes 12 

What you need:

  • 450g strong flour
  • 50g caster sugar
  • 25g cocoa
  • 1 tsp mixed spice
  • 2 *7g sachet dried yeast
  • 150ml milk, made up to 200ml with warm water
  • 50g butter, melted
  • 1 egg
  • 75g mixed peel
  • 75g Butlers milk chocolate, chopped
  • Zest & Juice of 1 orange
  • To decorate:
    • 4tbsp plain flour
    • 2 tbsp granulated sugar
    • Water

What you do:

  • Make your dough by mixing together the flour, sugar, cocoa, mixed spice and yeast in bowl of your Kenwood.
  • In a jug mix the warm milk mix, melted butter and beaten egg. You want this mix to be lukewarm so it will activate the yeast.
  • Pour this mix into the dry ingredients and knead using the dough hook ( or you could do by hand if you’re feeling energetic!)
  • Once the mix comes together add in the mixed peel, chocolate, orange zest and juice and continue to knead for another 5 mins.
  • When the dough mix is smooth and springy transfer it to an oiled bowl. Cover lightly with clingfilm and leave to rise in a warm place for an hour.
  • Once the dough has doubled in size, knock it back and knead for a minute or two (by hand this time!)
  • Line a 12 hole muffin tin with paper liners. I knew I’d eventually find a use for the lovely ones that have been languishing in my baking cases box for the last two years.
  • Divide the mix into 12 equal pieces and roll each piece into a ball and place one in each hole of the muffin tray.
  • Cut a cross in the top of each bun using a scissors . Cover the tray and leave to rise for another 20 mins.
  • Heat your oven to 200C/180Fan/Gas6
  • To top the buns mix the 4 tbsp. of flour with enough water to form a paste.  Put the paste into a plastic bag, snip of the corner of the bag and pipe into the cross on each bun.
  • Bake in a hot oven for 12-15 minutes. To check  they’re cooked tap one of the buns on the bottom and you should hear a hollow sound
  • To get that lovely sticky glaze on top melt the 2 tbsp. sugar with a tablespoon of water and then brush over the top of each bun.

Hot cross buns

These hot cross buns are best enjoyed warm with lots of butter. The Chief Taster is in the UK on business so I’ll have to make another batch when he gets back to see what he thinks of the chocolate twist. Any excuse I know….

Buttered bun

 

 

Happy Cooking !

 

Cookbooks, Cooking, family meals, Food, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegetarian

A fritter type of pancake…

Sometimes you just need time out and this weekend was one of those times. I love being busy – both workwise and socially but things have been pretty hectic for the last two months.

I had an early night on Friday and spent a very pleasant few hours Saturday morning reading Mary Berry’s autobiography before tackling some long overdue housekeeping. The pantry had taken on a life of its own and needed to be brought back under control. Now everything is neatly grouped and visible ……for a while anyway. The tupperware is organised and the kitchen presses are organised.

Now if only I could persuade someone to do the ironing 😉

After all that hard work I had to recover on the couch with some TV and cookbooks. My book of choicewas a lovely one I brought back from Canada,  ‘The Ontario Table’ and one of the recipes that I wanted to try was for Corn Fritters

The Ontario Table

By coincidence when I was flicking through the channels I came across The Two Fat Ladies cooking corn fritters. A sign definitely …

So combining the two recipes I made the following for Sunday Brunch:

Corn Fritter

Corn Fritters (or are they pancakes?)

What you need:

  • 200g plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp Irish Atlantic Chilli & Paprika salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 180ml milk
  • fresh corn kernels from 2 cobs of corn
  • Bunch spring onions chopped

What you do:

  • Mix flour, baking powder and salt in a bowl.
  • Whisk eggs and milk together in a jug.
  • Make a hollow in the middle of the dry ingredients and pour in egg mix
  • Fold in to make a creamy batter then add in the corn and the spring onions.
  • Drop 2-3 tbsp. onto griddle pan, allow to ‘bubble’, then turn over to cook other side.

I served the fritters with crispy Pigs on the Green bacon and my latest food addiction – Golden Beetroot Relish from In Season Farm which I found in the lovely Hereford & More shop

Technically fritters should be fried in oil but I opted for the griddle method of cooking which makes them more of a savoury pancake and therefore an option for Shrove Tuesday don’t you think?

Happy Cooking !

And even though I may have gotten a little bored last night (as predicted by the CT!), my batteries are now fully recharged and ready for the week ahead 🙂

Cookery Classes, Cooking, Food, Recipes, Vegetarian

To fry or not to fry?

I bought a deep fat fryer a few years ago because I wanted to cook Deep Fried Brie – it’s a favourite of the Chief Taster 😉  After about two uses it took up residence somewhere deep in my shed. Anything that needs to be deep fried is now baked. Well except for the brie – experiments have proven that it ‘explodes’ in the oven and it is now a dish to be enjoyed only when we’re out 🙂 

Last night we had a ‘Taste of Asia’ class with dishes from China, India and Thailand.  All the dishes were very well received including the baked spring rolls with hoisin sauce.

taste of Asia 002

Here’s all you need to do to make  a healthier version of take away spring rolls:

Spring Rolls

  What you need:

  • Selection of vegetables such as:
    • 1 carrot, finely julienned
    • 1 red pepper, thinly sliced
    • Tin of Chinese mushrooms
    • 1/2 packet Beansprouts
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 10 Spring Roll Wrappers
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Dipping Sauce:
    • 3 tbsp. hoisin sauce
    • 1 tbsp. Nam Pla (fish sauce)
    • 1 tbsp. cold water
    • 1 chilli, finely chopped

What you do:

  • Heat a tbsp of sunflower oil in a wok.
  • Add the vegetables and stir fry  for 2-3 mins
  • Add the soy and oyster sauces, cook for another minute then set aside to cool.
  • Place spring roll wrapper on chopping board. Place a small pile of vegetables, in lower corner of wrapper – Fold bottom over, then bring in the two sides and roll over to enclose the filling – like an envelope (It gets easier!)
  • Seal the end of the pastry by brushing with the beaten egg.
  • Then brush each roll with egg and bake in hot oven (200 C Fan) for 10 mins until crispy
  • To make dipping sauce – mix hoisin sauce, fish sauce, water and chillies in a bowl.

spring rolls

You could also add shredded duck or pork if you’d like. I was pleasantly surprised that the Chief Taster polished off the veggie ones 🙂

Happy Cooking !

If you’d like to attend one of my cookery classes in Tullamore please let me know. Next week is a ‘Taste of the Americas’

Catering, Cocktails, Cookery Classes, desserts, Food, Recipes

Love (and Chocolate) is in the Air….

Chocolate has always been associated with sensual and romantic properties and when we indulge in it’s silky lusciousness, endorphins are released in our brains which make us feel happy and loved.

In the last year I’ve been very lucky to work with Butler’s Chocolates, giving  chocolate cookery classes in their demo kitchen in Clonshaugh. I try to theme each class around an event so naturally the February class was all about Cupid, Valentines and Love! I do 7-8 recipes per class and I’m always amazed at how quickly the tasters disappear!

I’m also doing a ‘Cupid’s Dining’ class in my own kitchen on Tuesday 4th February – a three course romantic meal guaranteed to impress that special someone in your life 😉

Hey Pesto Valentine's Day

There will be scallops , venison and lots of chocolate among other things on the menu …and of course some pink bubbles . If you’d like more details on this or any of my classes please let me know.

IMG_9807

One of the big hits from yesterday’s class was the salted caramel dessert and here’s the recipe of you want to surprise your loved one on Valentine’s Day

Cupid’s Salted Caramel Delight

Serves 2

What you need:

  • 3-4 tbsp dulce de leche – I use Ballyshiel 
  • ½ tsp sea salt plus extra to serve
  • 50g dark chocolate
  • 50g milk chocolate
  • 75 ml cream
  • Good ‘glug’ Kahlua

Salted Caramel Pots

What you  do:

  • Stir in the sea salt into the dulce de leche and divide mix between two glasses
  • Melt the two chocolates together then stir in the cream until smooth.
  • Add in the liqueur and carefully pour over the caramel
  • Allow to chill for at least 2 hours then serve sprinkled with sea salt crystals.

Happy Cooking !

PS  a message for the Chief Taster – it’s your turn to cook for me this year 😉