Archives

Farewell to Summer

What an amazing summer we’ve had – who knew outdoor living in Ireland could be so much fun! My barbeque was in constant use and I finally got to use all my garden furniture.

One of the bonuses of the sunshine is that my apple tree is laden down with fruit. Last time the harvest was this bountiful the Chief Taster and I carefully picked the fruit, wrapped them individually in paper and stored them in crates. This project did not have a successful outcome….. So I’m looking for ideas to use them up before the birds eat them. All suggestions welcome.

One thing I’m going to do is stew and freeze a batch of them so I can make one of my favourite cakes over the coming months. It’s a Sophie Grigson recipe that can be adapted for almost all fruit and it’s so simple you have to try it .
Continue reading

Advertisements

Ice cream, you scream…..

When it comes to procrastination I could give Hamlet a good run for his money!
I have been threatening to do a blog post for months but strangely enough there was always something else that had to be done!

In anticipation of the promised heat wave I was on Midlands 103 this morning talking about how to make your own ice cream and Will Faulkner extracted a promise from me, on air, that I would post some recipes this evening.  Well you can’t break a promise, can you? So hence I have made myself sit at my computer and type. Oh look the sun is out, maybe I should go to the garden…..

No I’ll be good 🙂

Continue reading

Cooking the books …. and some fish!

I have a confession to make – my name is Yvonne and I am a Cookbook Addict.

I was brought up in a houseful of books and book lovers so I’m not quite sure when my obsession with cookery books started . I know I used to leaf through my Mum’s Good Housekeeping book and wish we had exotic ingredients like glucose and peppermint essence!

Fast forward to college and I was given a present of ‘Monica’s Kitchen’ – an absolute gem of a book even for someone like me who could barely boil an egg at the time.

Monica and good housekeeping sepia

How it started

Continue reading

2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 5,700 times in 2013. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Where’s the beef – an alternative burger

When I left college (a few years ago….) I could barely boil water – I though pizza and coleslaw were major food groups and takeaways were essential!  So when I found myself in paid employment I decided in the interests of survival to sign up for a cookery class, vegetarian of course.

The class was hands-on, given by a lovely girl in Ballsbridge. It was great fun and I learned lots – you have no idea how basic my knowledge of all things culinary was at that time.

My memories of the course include the couple who read 3/4 lb carrot as 3 to 4 lbs and then spent a class doing nothing but peeling carrots; my ‘landlady’ Siobhan waiting for me to come home with Wednesday night dinner  and a realisation that I did not like kidney beans!

One of the recipes from this course that I  still use is one for Black-eyed Bean Burgers . In fact we serve them as a vegetarian barbecue option.

Last Saturday I wasn’t really in the mood for cooking (I know, hard to believe) so I was delighted to find a few of these burgers in the freezer and I paired them with  the mango and pomegranate guacamole leftover from Friday’s book club – happy days!

The recipe was requested after I posted a photo of the dish on facebook . I know the original recipe included sautéed mushrooms but I  omitted those and from memory for this batch I added in some oyster sauce and used mixed nuts.  Thinking about it I might try adding red peppers and chilli sauce the next time……..

What you need:

  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 400g tin black-eyed beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 tbsp vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 50g/2 oz brazil nuts (or mixed nuts)
  • 100g/4 oz breadcrumbs (I prefer the panko ones)

What you do:

  • Sauté the onion in 1 tbsp rapeseed oil until softened but not coloured. Add the garlic after about 5 mins and cook for another minute
  • Pulse the beans in food processor with the nuts and approx 3/4 of the breadcrumbs (that’s 75g not 3 breadcrumbs!)
  • Add in the tahini paste (or peanut butter if you prefer) and the oyster sauce and the cooked onion and whizz together
  • If the mix seems dry add a little stock.
  • Using a chefs ring form into burgers, then ‘top and tail’ with the remaining breadcrumbs.
  • Bake in the oven (180 C/ Gas 4) for 10 mins until breadcrumbs crisp or if you prefer shallow fry them.

The original accompaniment to these was Sweet and Sour Sauce and Brown Rice – well it was the nineties! I serve them with a home-made coleslaw for barbecues but the guacamole really worked as well. It was a recipe from  Gourmet magazine that I picked up in Canada  – it’s already in the favourites folder!

I hope you like them !

Happy Cooking !

PS  The Chief Taster has requested that I point out he is not in favour of these vegetarian posts and could I please do a carnivore dish  for the next one.

Apples, apples everywhere………….

Okay so I finally started a blog and decided on a theme – now my dilemma was which cookbook  got to open the show!

Thanks for all your suggestions and I will get round to them all I promise – even to Hugh (eventually….) !

The problem was solved by the amount of apples in my kitchen demanding to be used (thank you to all my wonderful neighbours). I decided to stew and freeze some of them and then remembered a recipe for a ‘sauce’ cake. Cue  Sophie Grigson’s Country Kitchen

This book was a Christmas present from my sister after my time in Ballymaloe Cookery School  and her inscription  ‘to the petite chef with the big ideas’ still makes me smile!  The splashed pages and the handwritten notes will convince you that this is one of the workers in my collection – I love the Rhubarb & Honey Compote, and her sweet & sour red cabbage is a Christmas must.

In the introduction the book is described as  ‘a record of a year’s cooking in a country kitchen – but with a modern twist’ . This is borne out in recipes such as ‘pot-roast pork with star anise, ginger. tamarind and port’ or ‘cauliflower with sundried tomatoes, garlic and capers’ .

The book is laid out by season with beautiful photographs and informative notes on ingredients. The recipes are well laid out and easy to follow and most importantly they work! My biggest peeve is that it doesn’t have a photograph for every dish – I like to know what I’m aspiring to!

My favourite and most used from this book is Sophie’s recipe for ‘Gooseberry Sauce Cake’ – simple and quick and adaptable for most fruits. I’ve tried it with gooseberries, rhubarb, plums and most recently with apples and the result is a lovely moist cake everytime!

So if like me you’re overrun with apples you should give this a try:

Apple Sauce Cake

What you need:

  • 10oz/280g self raising flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 40z/110g caster sugar
  • 40z/110g demerara sugar
  • 4oz/110g butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 pt/300ml stewed apples

All set!

the original recipe includes 1/2 tsp salt which I omitted as I use salted butter
What you do:
  • Firstly stew your fruit – I used a mix of sweet and cooking apples as I like the difference in texture. Peel, core and chop the fruit. Then stew with a little water over a low heat for 20-30 mins. I didn’t use any particular quantities as I froze the rest of the fruit in 1/2 pint portions for future cakes!
  • When fruit is stewed to your liking measure out 1/2 pt for your cake (btw apologies for any confusion and if I appear old fashioned but I tend to bake in imperial and cook in metric!)
  • Mix all your dry ingredients – flour, baking powder and sugars together
  • Fold in wet ingredientsFold in the lightly beaten eggs, melted butter and vanilla extract. Finally stir in the stewed apples.
  • Pour into prepared tinPour mixture into a lined 9″/23cm springform tin and sprinkle a little extra demerara sugar over the top.
  • Sophie’s instructions are to bake the cake at 180C/Gas 4 for 45 minutes. Having tried it on several occasions it takes 30-35 minutes in my oven at 170C Fan so I’d advise you to check it after 30 mins!
  • Allow the cake to cool in the tin for 10-15 mins before turning out. Then there’s nothing left to do but serve it with some lightly whipped cream!
The finished product!
***************
There are lots more recipes in this book that I’ve earmarked to try and as this is the first year my pear tree has produced any fruit next up is Sophie’s  fresh pear relish……….

Books, Books and more Cook Books!

I love books – I grew up in a house full of them – and one of my best childhood memories is going with my Dad to the bookshop to buy a new one as a weekly treat (and the row that ensued one week when I refused to pick ‘Robinson Crusoe’!)

I still consider buying books a present to myself and there are some that I’ve had for years that I could never get rid off.  And then there’s my cookbook collection…………

Those of you who know me on Twitter will know that I suffer from a ‘slight’ cookbook addiction and that cookbooks have a tendency to follow me home from shops!

Surely a girl can never have too many shoes or cookbooks?

I have approximately 200 cookbooks (well 188 to be more precise!). I know this because due to recent house-painting they all had to be removed from the shelves so allow the painters near the walls and I took the opportunity to count them!

The true number probably exceeds 200 as I found a few more today which had obviously been mis-filed! And then of course there’s the collection of booklets, food magazines, recipe files; not to mention the five lever arch folders from my time at Ballymaloe ( cookingisfun.ie)!

As I was re-filing them I noticed that while some were much thumbed and much-loved there were others had barely been opened but were sitting there like trophies (yes Gordon I’m talking about you!)

So then I had an idea – why not use my cookbook collection as the basis for my blog (with a few other bits & bobs thrown in of course!) . All those books that are sitting there looking pretty will now have to pay their way! I’m challenging myself to work through them and try a  recipe a week and give my tuppence worth on the book!

Now I need to examine my collection carefully and select the first star………………Any requests?