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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Steamed Treacle Pudding

Quicker than your normal Christmas pudding

Lola and Me and our housemate Sarah decided to have an Christmas dinner before we all go our separate ways for the break. We took a course each and I got pudding - I'd been wanting to make this for a while now - so any excuse and a pudding is a pudding at Christmas time

Serves 10


6oz unsalted butter - room temperature

4 tablespoons of golden syrup

1 orange - zest and juice

6 oz soft brown sugar

3 eggs - beaten together
1 tsp black black treacle

6 oz self raising flour


Butter your pudding basin - I got a 3 litre one - but it would fit into a two litre one. Combine the golden syrup and orange juice and zest - add it to the greased basin.

In a bowl beat together sugar and butter. Then slowly add the beaten eggs and combine well together. Next add in the black treacle - and combine well. Sieve in your flour , mixing all the time.
Spoon the mixture gently into the basin.

Cover the basin with the fitted lid - or cover with greaseproof paper and then cover with tin foil - with a crease down the centre - secure with some string.
Place in a large saucepan - with boiling water halfway up the sides of the basin. Cover and simmer for two hours. Check regularly to make sure it doesn't boil dry.

When ready - remove lid - place a clean plate on top and then gently turnover - as there will be a nice amount of treacly orange syrup flying around - Lola's phone loved it - sorry honey!
Serve with custard - or pouring/whipped cream - which ever you like. I quite like cold custard to contrast with the hot sweat steamy pudding. It looks pretty impressive on the plate too! Serve with custard or cream - enjoy!

This dessert really went down a treat.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Guest Chef No. 3

The multi talented Ms. Doris K!

Roast Rack of Lamb with a Mustard and Herb Crumb Crust














I am visiting my Dad and his partner Doris in Kerry. Doris is originally from Germany and is a great and a very instinctive cook and has an amazing way of improvising and throwing things together to make something really tasty. A lot of her dishes have a slight German twist, and this one is no exception. She explained that its quite a German thing to coat meat with a stuffing type crumb mixture as this seals in moisture as well as giving a lovely crunchy texture.

This meal was absolutely delicious! Doris also made my favorite gratin potatoes which were the perfect accompaniment. Harley the greyhound was almost as happy as me due to all the bones that he got to eat afterwards!














Ingredients:
1 rack of Lamb (enough for 4 people, about 3 chops per person on each side)
4 tbsps whole grain or dijon mustard
a few sprigs rosemary & thyme
about 4 slices wholemeal bread
2 cloves garlic
salt and pepper

Sear the rack of lamb in a hot pan in olive oil to seal it, then coat the outside skin with the mustard and leave to rest for about 10 mins. In the meantime, put the bread into a food processor, add a few glugs of olive oil, the garlic, rosemary, thyme, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Whizz this into a kind of crumbly paste.

When the lamb is cooled, press the mixture onto the lamb, over where you have already spread the mustard.

Roast in the oven at 220c for about 40 mins, for pink meat, or 50 if you prefer it well done

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Roast Loin of Pork with apple stuffing and roasted winter vegetables

We had 10 for a pre christmas Monday night dinner. Lu, Sarah & I ( all three residents of number 7) decided we would each cook a course and really wanted to do a big roast, so I asked if I could do the main event. Sucker for punishment, me.

Thinking we were going to be feeding 12, I bought two MASSIVE pieces of pork loin and asked the butcher to open them out so that I could stuff them. In the end we had 10 people but two were veggies. So between 8 of us we still managed to polish off almost all of the pork, which is a testament to how well it turned out!

We dressed up the table with green napkins, my green goblets from Habitat and some gorgeous green and pink woven fabric that Sarah had spare as she works as a textile designer. Then Pamela arrived with a big poinsettia which we used as a centrepiece. The whole thing was very christmassy indeed!

I made the stuffing the night before heres the recipe for it, first of all

Apple and rosemary stuffing:
4 oz butter
4 tbsps olive oil
1 bag breadcrumbs
1 white onion,
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
1 handful sage
3 or 4 stalks rosemary
1 eating apple, diced.

Melt the butter with the oil in a large pot. Dice the onion and garlic finely and saute in the butter and oil. When almost soft add the diced peeled apple. Cook for 2 minutes or so but don't let the apple get too soft. add the chopped sage and rosemary and stir in for a few seconds, then add the breadcrumbs and stir well so that they absorb all the butter and oil. Season to taste. Leave to cool.

Roast stuffed loin of pork with roasted winter vegetables.
Loin of pork
olive oil
1 quantity stuffing
5 rashers of streaky bacon
8 cloves of garlic
parsnips & carrots peeled & cut into quarters or eighths.
Salt & Pepper

Open out the loin of pork where the butcher has cut or 'butterflied' it. using a rolling pin bash the meat to flatten it out a bit, then make a 'sausage' shape out of the stuffing and place in the centre of the cut. Bring the sides of the meat back together. Cover the join with the rashers and use string (not plastic string or it will melt!) to tie the whole thing together. You will need to ties 4 -6 lengths of string around the joint.

Place the parsnips, carrots and garlic cloves (unpeeled!) in a large oven tray and toss in about 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Place the Pork, bacon side up on top of the vegetables. Rub salt, pepper and olive oil all over the joint. The meat will need to cook for 20 mins per pound so weigh it and place it in an oven at about 230c for however long you need. Mine took 2 hours and 20 mins!! so that tells you how ridiculously big it was! Have a peek at it every now and then and if you think its getting burned or dry on the top just put a bit of tin foil over it.

This makes the best gravy as roasting it on top of the veggies will produce delicious juices. When you are almost ready to serve, transfer the meat to a chopping board and let it rest in a warm place with some tin foil over it. Put the vegetables in a dish and put them back in the oven to keep warm. Take the roasting dish and place it on a low heat on your stove. remove any large bits of burned material, and take the roasted garlic cloves out of their skins. Using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the roasted garlic cloves into the juices. Add 1 or 2 tbsps of flour, depending on how thick you like your gravy and stir. Then add some stock & white or red wine. you will need about 1 pint of liquid altogether if you are cooking for 10 people. Stir the liquid in to the pan juices. Season to taste. I also like to add a bit of apple sauce when making pork. Stir until thickened and pour into a jug or gravy boat.

Serve with roast potatoes and apple sauce, which you can make by cutting up 4 or 5 apples and throwing the pieces in a pot with about 3 oz of butter. Stew this for about 10 mins, stirring all the time and add some salt to taste.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Pie Off!!

Food blogging friends
We got invited by Aoife from I Can Has Cook to enter a pie into the first annual pie-off, so I gladly accepted. I have been reading Aoifes blog for a good while now, by entering this competition I would be meeting her face to face - ha ha! Then we realised we’d already met a few years ago anyway, but that’s another story.

Lola and I thought long and hard over our pie choices, many pies were discussed at length, so thanks guys for indulging our endless food talk. We weighed up our options carefully, considered some bad and good pie puns.

We did make a great Beef and Guinness pie back in July, but we thought we’d need to push the boat out and go a little extra special for this one.

As I undertook the shopping I imagined a master chef style judging -’now this is a big disappointment guys.... hmm awfully bland....’ The pressure was on.
We chose a classic game pie, which we named

Granny Speed on the Game Pie
Now the story behind this was I borrowed a ceramic blackbird from my mum - which you ‘ bake in the middle of the pie’ and it holds the pastry above the filling preventing sogginess and also housing the vent to let out the steam.


This little birdy belonged to my great grandmother whose surname was Speed - get it!
Anyways the ingredients for the pie were sourced from Moore Street and also from Fallon and Byrne. We decided to cook the filing the night before so that the flavours could rest over night and develop properly.


So I wobbled home on Friday after a few Friday pints of Guinness and Rayne prob did most of the work - but I assisted. She even filleted two saddles of rabbit - hats off!Less rambling - More recipe

Ingredients

1/2lb of rabbit - filleted and chopped into 2/3 cm cubes
1/2 lb of pheasant, chopped into 2/3 cm cubes
1/2 pound of venison flank cubed
4 oz of streaky bacon - de-rinded and diced
2 red onions
2 cloves of garlic crushed
1/2 pint of wine
1 oz of plain flour4oz of shitake mushrooms
4oz of button mushrooms
1 bay leaf
a tablespoon of red currant jelly
Seasoning
1/2 pint of chicken stock
Zest and juice of one orange
Puff pastry (bought not homemade - sorry!)

With a little oil - fry off the pheasant and rabbit in batches in your pan to brown on each side. Dont brown your venison as apparently this makes it very tough. Set aside.

Cook your onion for a minute then add in the garlic and bacon - after about 2/3 mins add in the mushrooms. Fry until the onion is transparent and the bacon getting nicely cooked - but not too brown. Stir in the flour and cook for a few seconds before adding in the browned meat, unbrowned venison, wine, stock, bay leaf, orange juice, zest and jelly.

Mix well, bring to the boil and then lower to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for about an hour and twenty mins. Allow to cool, before refrigerating overnight.

Next day - pop your mixture into a high sided pie dish, around your little birdy. Then cut your pastry to be a lot wider than your dish, as it will puff and shrink. Drape t over your pie dish - and cut a hole for the steam to escape. Brush with some beaten egg. Cook at Gas Mark 6 for 2o mins and then turn down to gas mark 5 for a further 30 mins or so - till golden and delicious on top and bubbly underneath.

The mixture when heated in the oven gets a lot more liquidy so don’t worry if your cold mixture appears a little thick.

The pie-off was a great idea for a fun night. All pies were marked on taste - creativity and presentation. The total scores were added together to determine the winner. We cooked the pies in rotation and then everyone had a little taste then - then a little taste of the next pie - - so nobody got stuffed but everybody was well fed.

Aoife created a shepherds pie with minced venison and juniper berries, which was the tastiest shepherd pie I’ve ever eaten.Darragh created a sumptuous Moroccan lamb pie with toasted cumin seeds rolled into the pastry - a fantastic idea! Nice big lumps of carrot in there too. He added in some 'ras al-hanout' which I've never heard of, so I bet this was the secret ingredient.


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Sausage and Lentil Supper

Oh, Nigel!

Nigel Slater, I think I love you. Seriously, I love Nigel. Hes better than all of them, Jamie, Anthony, obviously, Hugh Fernley Whathisface, and even though it pains me to say it, he is better than Delia and even my idol Nigella. Everything he does is so amazingly simple and delicious, and he has an uncanny way of matching flavours and textures in the most basic ingredients so that his recipes sometimes look boring on paper but always work out spectacularly. His food is clean and frugal, but somehow at the same time luxurious and he uses way less fat and cream than Nigella, who, as fabulous as she is can go a bit over the top sometimes.


So I try and cook something from Nigel's Observer food column as often as possible, we've done his super delicious Lemon Posset before. A few weeks ago, Lu and I made this. True to form, it was amazing. AMAZING. You have to cook it. We stuck religiously to the recipe so I have just copied and pasted it from the observer website below. The pic is ours though.
Sausage and Lentil Supper
I make bean and sausage hotpots for winter weekends, leaving them to putter away in a slow oven until everyone comes in, freezing and begging to be fed. During the week I'd like to come back to that sort of thing, too, so I use this quick version. The parsley is crucial, as is a good meaty sausage. Serves 4.
2 tbsp olive oil
120g streaky bacon, diced
1 onion
1 large carrot
a rib of celery
300g green lentils
1 litre chicken stock
2 bay leaves
8 plump pork sausages
chopped parsley
Warm the oil in a deep, heavy casserole. Put the bacon in and let it cook over a medium heat so it colours lightly. Meanwhile, peel the onion, chop it finely and add to the bacon. Cut the carrot and celery into rough dice, and stir them in, letting them soften a little. Don't let them colour. Tip in the lentils, pour in the chicken stock, then tuck in the bay leaves and sausages, cut into short lengths if you prefer, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat so the liquid simmers gently, season, then leave it for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time. Check the seasoning (I like it peppery), and stir in a handful of chopped parsley.





Isn't he lovely?

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Spaghetti and Meatballs


After the Party....

so it was Sarah's birthday and we had a party, there's was enough mess and chaos to lead me to believe we were all 16 again, raiding your parents drinks cabinet, and drinking the concoction of 6 different spirits mixed into a coke bottle.


Let's just say some of my plants were quite the worse for wear afterwards, including the basil and chili plant, so based on this unplanned harvest I made this nice meal, and fed it to my brother who was visiting before returning to his home in the snowy French alps.

Ingredients -
sauce
1 white onion - finely diced
12 tomatoes - skinned if you prefer and then diced

nice bunch of home-grown basil

1 home grown chili

2 cloves of garlic crushed
1 pound of minced beef

1 large potato - mashed

1 egg

marjoram and thyme (fresh or dried)

Grated Parmesan - a grand old lump - grated

a cup of breadcrumbs
Spaghetti cooked to your liking - my secret confession is I like mini squishy - very non-foodie I know!


I made the sauce first and let that cook away while I made the meatballs and then spaghetti while I cooked the meatballs. Fry the onion up in some olive oil for a minute or two before adding the garlic and sliced chili - cook it all until, it's softened nicely - then add in your tomatoes. Season. Bring to a gentle simmer and cover.

Cook for about 30-40 mins until it's thickened up nicely, it's perfectly ok to use tinned tomatoes here, I just had lots of tomatoes that day. I always add in a small teaspoon of sugar to sauces made using tinned tomatoes.


In a clean bowl - mix together the meat, breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan, herbs and mashed potato. Season. Then bind it all together with the egg. This made about 16 meatballs, and three is a big serving, so have some for tomorrow - make your own Meatball subs if you fancy.

Roll each bit of mixture into golf ball sized balls, then coat them in the breadcrumbs.
Heat some oil in a pan and cook your meatballs in batches of around 5 or so. Turn gently and brown evenly on as many sides as you can. Serve them on top of a bowl of spaghetti and topped with some of your tomato sauce. These were just super and perfect for a Sunday night in by the fire.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Food Related Graffitti

I happened across this on the road behind the Eye and Ear hospital - it nearly changed the name of our blog - me and Lola were so taken with it. Though sadly the name is already in use by a food blog in the US! More exciting news to come next early next week, me and Lola were invited to participate in a Pie-off, hosted by the lovely Aoife from I Can Has Cook I can't see what will top our pie, but we'll wait and see.......

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Cauliflower Cheese Soup

The trilogy is complete!


















So, on Monday there was still a load of chicken broth left that I had made the day before out of the left overs of Saturdays Roast Chicken, so I used it as stock to whip up his little number. Yes, that's right, I got THREE meals out of one! Don't you know there is a recession on? No throwing away useful stuff, though I do draw the line at saving potato peelings....

I know my recipes on the blog have been a bit soup heavy of late, but the truth is, I really love soup. And there's more to come so no complaining, Ok? Soup is delicious, quick to make, and really healthy. Granted, this one is bit naughty as soups go, as it has cheese and milk in it, but its really yummy s0 what harm once in a while?! At least its not a deep fried mars bar.

Ingredients:

1 white onion
3 cloves garlic
1 whole cauliflower
1 large potato, diced
1 Litre of chicken (or veg) stock
1/2 Litre Milk
about 100g grated white cheddar (more if y0u like!)


Chop the onion and garlic and saute them in a large pot in some olive oil. When they are soft add the cauliflower, cut up into small florets, and the diced potato. Pour in the stock and simmer until the veg is very soft (about 15-20 mins). Liquidise this until very smooth using a stick blender, and then and add the milk. Bring back up to simmering point, take off the heat and add the grated cheddar. Stir to melt it into the soup, taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. A teaspoon of mustard stirred in can be good too.



Chicken Broth

The loveliness of Leftovers














This soup really is a thin broth, and can also be used like a stock to make risottos, other soups, etc. Its is a great way to use the remains of your Sunday roast and make two (or three) meals out of one bird! I make a much more substantial version using a raw chicken, which I will blog as soon as someone in the house gets a cold, so far this winter we have been spared! This version comes from my mother, who got it from her mother, who also gave us the recipe for borscht. Its real authentic Jewish chicken soup and is great for cheering you up and curing all ills.

I made this on Sunday after we had roast chicken for dinner on Saturday. I could have added noodles, rice, sweetcorn, other types of veg or matzo balls ( I will get my mum to demonstrate these soon, they are a classic accompaniment) to bulk it out a bit, but I kind of like the simpleness of this, garnish with a few chopped scallions and your away! Just make sure you have it with bread if your hungry.














Ingredients
1 chicken carcass with some left over meat still on it
1 carrot
1 stick celery
1 white onion
6 pepper corns
Bay Leaf
about 3 Litres cold water
2 or 3 spring onions
Get the biggest pot you own and place your chicken carcass (with as much meat left on it as possible) in it. I even save the leg bones from peoples plates and put them in too. Any skin or gristle is also welcome, it will be strained out later and it all adds flavour.

Cover the carcass with cold water until it is just covered. The amount of water will depend on the size of your pot and your chicken. Peel the onion and the carrot, chop them in half and add to the pot. Half your stick of celery and throw that in too, along with the pepper corns and bay leaf.

Bring the whole thing to the boil, turn down the heat until you have a good energetic simmer, cover and leave to cook for at least an 1 1/2 hours, more if possible. The liquid will reduce, but you don't want it to reduce too much, or you will have no soup left! You should end up with about half the liquid you had originally. Remove the carcass and all the bones and veg and strain the liquid through a sieve and back into a pot. Place the carcass on a chopping board or plate and remove all of the meat that you can find. Add this back in to the soup. Taste and season.

If the chicken didn't have very much flavour to begin with, you won't have a flavourful soup. You can get around this by adding half a chicken stock cube or stock pot, don't be ashamed!
Serve and garnish with chopped spring onions.


Roast Chicken with apricot and white clonakilty pudding stuffing

Post pub roastiness


















It was a Saturday afternoon. Lu and I were very much looking forward to a certain television show that will remain nameless, but for convenience I will code name 'The Y Element' (say no more, its shameful, I know), both our respective boyfriends were coming over and in a snap inspired decision we knew that a traditional roast was the order of the day.















This was the easiest ever to make, as we just stuffed it, surrounded it with vegetables, shoved the whole thing in the oven and repaired to the local for a few well deserved pre-prandial Guinnesses. We returned to a house that smelled amazing, made some gravy and were all sat down in front of the fire and the box by 8pm.

I'm going to go through it step by step, starting with the stuffing. A long post but worth it!















Stuffing ingredients:
1 red onion
4 cloves garlic
A few sprigs fresh sage
2/3 pack of breadcrumbs
3 oz butter
about 10 dried apricots
1/2 a Clonakilty white pudding

Begin by chopping the onion, garlic and sage. melt the butter in a saucepan and add the onion and garlic. Cover and sweat until they are soft and translucent. add the sage and breadcrumbs and mix well so that the butter soaks in to the crumbs. If you need more butter of crumbs, now is the time. Finely chop the apricots and mix them in. Then slice and crumble the white pudding and mix this in too. Allow to cool for about 15 mins and use to stuff your chicken.

Chicken prep:
Drizzle olive oil on the bird and sprinkle with salt. Then rub the salt well into the skin. This will make sure it is lovely and crisp. Slice 3 cloves of garlic in half lengthwise. Use the point of a knife to make 6 slits in the skin of the chicken, and push the garlic slivers in underneath the skin.

Veggies:
We used carrots, parsnips and new potatoes (which we didn't bother to peel).
Peel the parsnips and carrots and cut them into long pieces of roughly the same size. Get your roomiest roasting dish and drizzle it with olive oil. In the middle of the dish, build a sort of platform of parsnips and carrots, and place the chicken on top of this. Scatter the remaining veg, including the new potatoes (or peeled old potatoes, cut into smaller pieces).

Place the whole thing in the oven at 190c for 1 1/2 -2 hours, or until the skin is golden brown and crispy and the juices run clear when you poke a skewer in under the chicken's leg

Gravy:
At this point, take the chicken out and place it in a different dish. Ditto the veg. Put it back into a very low oven to keep it warm while you make the gravy.

Cook up whatever green veg you are using (Broccoli is my personal fave) and reserve to cooking water. Place your roasting tray which you used to cook the chicken onto a low heat on your stove. Sprinkle 2 tbsps flour into the pan juices and stir it around until its all mixed together with the juices, little burned bits, stray pieces of garlic and escaped stuffing. All of this will make your gravy more delish. add some of the water from the veg, and a good glug of white or red wine. Bring to a simmer and stir until it has thickened. I prefer my gravy to be nice an light and thin rather than gloopy and brown like Bisto. If you need to get more flavour in to the gravy, you can add half a chicken stock cube, a few drops of Worcester or soy sauce, and of course, salt and pepper.

Carve your bird and serve!

I love to use the carcass of the chicken to make a gorgeous roast chicken broth. Recipe to follow in next post!



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Tasty Filling Barley Stew

Come share with me your pearls of wisdom, and give us some of your soup while your at it

I have loved pearl barley ever since I was a kid and my mum would put it into Irish stew. I wanted to make a nice barley filled chunky soup, this soup however got so thick it turned into a stew!

Ingredients
2 onions finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
3 carrots diced
3 sticks of celery finely sliced
3 small potatoes cubed
1 cup of pearl barley
1.5 pints of stock
6 leaves of sage shopped (can use dried if you like)
Sprig of rosemary - chopped
Salt and pepper
Oil of choice

Fry up your onion for 1 minute in your oil over a medium heat, then add in your garlic, rosemary and sage- cook until soft and translucent. Stir in your barley and fill up with stock, bring to a gentle boil. You can now use this time to prepare your vegetables. After about 20 mins of simmering pop in your veg and potatoes. Leave to simmer for another 20 mins until the barley is soft with a little bite and the potatoes are cooked. Serve!

Of you want a more soupy consistency - just add more stock

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Vegan Veggie Burritos

Yup you heard that right - veganNow that's true until you top it with cheddar - but burritos are a handy option if you ever have to feed a mixture of Vegan/Veggies and Carnivores all at once. Throw lots of stuff into little bowls - give people tortillas and let them build their own.

Lola braved the outside world to get the ingredients for our dinner tonight - so I had these ready when she got back (by ready I mean shouting down the stairs at her to check the rice when she came in wet and cold!) Sorry honey I love you really.

Now I bought some black turtle beans which are super good for you, they were on my list of superfoods back in May. Unfortunately they require soaking for 24 hours and then boiling for 45mins - so I put them on to soak yesterday - super organised me, so super organised I mis-read a 24 hour clock and was an hour early meeting my friends for a gig - how the bouncers laughed. The place wasn't even open!

Ingredients
Tortilla wraps
For the re fried beans
I cup of black turtle beans
I onion
2 cloves of garlic
Big slurp of olive oil
sprig of rosemary
Salt
1 teaspoon ground coriander
big pink of chili flakes
1 teaspoon paprika

For the 'slaw
1 big leaf of cabbage finely sliced
1 large carrot grated
2 teaspoons of sesame seeds
1 teaspoon of white wine vinegar
1 teaspoon olive oil

Other toppings
beetroot
pickled chillies
Tomatoes with coriander
Grated cheddar (not for the vegans)
Brown rice
Avocado or guacamole
sour cream
Cucumber
anything that tickles you fancy

Soak your beans overnight, then cover with water and bring to the boil with the sprig of rosemary. Simmer for 40 mins. Drain and then add salt after cooking, this helps reduce the unwanted side effects of eating beans, and stops the skin on the beans from hardening - you want to be able to mush your beans up.

In a frying pan - fry the onion and garlic in a little olive oil till translucent and fragrant. then add in your three spices (add some ground cumin to if you have it -but I'd run out - damn) Cook for a minute before adding in your beans. Stir it all up and then give the beans a mush with the back of your spoon - break them up as much as you like - you can even use your potato masher.

For the healthy coleslaw - combine all the ingredients in a bowl - and leave to stand for a while if you have the time - it's nice sometimes to toast the sesame seeds under the grill until they're golden and crispy.Serve all your sides in little bowls and get building your burrito

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Apple Filo tarts

Sunday paper-thin treats















I had a yen to make Parisian apple tartlets like these, but unfortunately, once again I couldn't find any ready made puff pasty in the whole of the Dublin 7 area (ok, I tried 3 shops and gave up). You may remember that we had a similar problem back in August when we were making the Beef and Guiness pie, and I actually had to go to effort of making my own! It turned out ok, but as all my tv cooking heroes (Nigel, Nigela, and Jamie) say, its not worth making your own puff, as the bought stuff is always going to be better. Anyway, Its a Sunday afternoon, and the less palaver involved the better.

Once again to the rescue came our local middle eastern shop Alauras. It stocks frozen filo, which can be used to make baklava (I will have to try it one of these days) and Lucy's famous home made jambons, (another improvised recipe which called for puff pastry but had to settle for filo) Using frozen ready made pastry means that these tarts are so quick and easy to make, and if you actually use puff pastry then you don't have to bother with all the brushing of melted butter. Just pop the sugar and apple on top of the pastry, and bake!

On reflection, I think I would actually prefer the filo version. These tarts were crunchy, melty, delicious. Perfect with a cup of coffee and the Sunday papers!











































Ingredients:
Frozen filo pastry, defrosted
4 oz butter
1 large apple (2 small) such as coxs or braeburn
2 oz brown sugar
ground cinnamon

Start by melting half of the butter in a pan. Brush 6 individual tartlet cases with some of the butter. (If you don't have cases, you can just layer the pastry up in tart-sized squares on a buttered baking tray. This is what you would do if you were using puff pastry, too)

Layer the pastry, one sheet a a time into the cases, brushing each of the pastry sheets with the melted butter as you go. There should be 5 or 6 layers of pastry in each tart. Press the pastry in to the tins and leave the excess corners sticking out (I think they look lovely like that). Brush the top layer of pastry all over with the butter. Sprinkle some of the brown sugar into each of the buttered pastry cases.

Peel and core the apple, cut into quarters and slice very thinly. Arrange the apple slices in a fan shape in each of the pastry cases, and sprinkle with the remaining brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon on each. Cut the remaining butter into tiny cubes and sprinkle these over the apple and sugar.

Bake for about 15 minutes in a preheated oven at about 180c. You want the apple to be cooked and tender, the sugar melted, but the pastry not over cooked or burned.



Saturday, November 7, 2009

Leek and Bacon Crepes

Crêpes avec Poireaux et Lardon It was the weekend of the brunch. We started on Saturday with a place I would like to nominate for 'Best BLT' in Dublin, The News Cafe in Blackrock. They also do a great fry - with their own recipe flat sausage - nice.

Then it was onto these for Sunday brunch. I ate the best crepe ever in Roscoff while waiting for the ferry. They were divine and a very fitting end to the two week eating and cooking binge that was my summer holiday. I wrote a little about them here.This is my attempt to re-create them - hampered only by my lack of a drop of white wine for the sauce. We cheated and bought pre-made pancakes - I will blog the recipe for pancakes - pancake Tuesday special perhaps.


The photos come courtesy of Delo - you can see more of his photos
here. Be warned there are many, many , many photos of bicycles!

Ingredients

Serves 2

4 pancakes

3 leeks - sliced in 2cm slices
Lardons (or rashers sliced in strips)
4 slices of Provolone Cheese (or similar mild cheese)
2 tablespoons of cream

Butter!

Salt and Pepper

Cook the some butter over a medium heat for about 3-4 mins then lash in the lardons and continue to cook until your bacon is nice and crispy and the leeks are bright green - with nice little orangey brown edges yum. I once said my favourite colour is the inside of a leek - LOVE it - then eat it - that's what I say, except horses - don't eat horses, bad French people, but I love your pancakes.

Ramble sorry. Then add in the cream, season and bring up to a gentle simmer to thicken. In a clean frying pan - flick in a nob of butter, until it melts. Then pop in your pancake. Place a big spoonful of your mixture into the centre. Push it out to be a little smaller than a postcard. Top this with some cheese. Fold over the edgesTo make a nice little parcel - and serve. This orange is nice - fancy fanta!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Baked white fish with tomato and olive sauce

Big fish, little fish (cardboard box)














Ok, I know this pic doesn't look great, I just couldn't get a good image of it and was way too hungry to faf around. I just ate this for dinner though, so trust me, it was delicious.

This is based on a recipe my mum often uses. You can do it with any white, non oily fish. In this case I used haddock, which is meaty and substantial, and delicious.

Ingredients:
1 red onion, finely chopped
1 large clove garlic, sliced
about 15 good quality large green olives, sliced
1 tin chopped tomatoes
1 fillet of white fish per person

Begin by making the sauce. Saute the onion and garlic until they are soft, add the olives and tomatoes and cook gently for a few minutes until the sauce is reduced. you can add some white wine now if you like.

Place the fish in a baking dish and top with the sauce like this














Bake in a hot oven for about 20 mins.

Serve with brown rice and veggies for a really healthy dinner or you could have it with spuds or just a nice salad and some crusty bread. Its very easy to make, really healthy and totally yum!

Potato and Lovage soup

All my Lovage....














I have been pretty remiss with the posting lately... Lu has been doing most of the blog work. I've been on a diet ever since the total blow out of New York so have not been cooking or baking to my usual standard. Anyway I'm kinda getting back into it now, and since the weather is getting colder, I'm going to share the recipe for a lovely and quite unusual soup, along the lines of leek and potato but including the lovely, peppery taste of Lovage.

I think Lovage is a herb, My mum grew a load of it this summer in her garden and didn't quite know what to do with it at first. Actually, wikipedia tells me its not a herb but is related to the celery family. I used it like this:

Potato and Lovage Soup.

Ingredients
1 large bunch lovage
4 large spuds
4 sticks celery
2 white onions
4 cloves garlic
1L good veg or chicken stock.
salt & pepper

Chop up the potatoes into inch sized cubes, finely chop the lovage leaves (not the stalks), onions, celery and garlic. Chop everything, actually.

Sweat the onions and garlic in a large saucepan until they are well softened. Add the celery and cook another 4 mins. Add the potatoes and cover them with the stock (you might not need to use all the stock, it should cover the potatoes by about an inch).

Simmer the mixture for about 15 mins, until the potatoes are soft all the way through. Then add half of the lovage and simmer another 3 or 4 mins. Using a stick blender (my favorite kitchen tool!) whizz everything up until its smooth. Then add the remaining lovage and season with the salt and pepper to taste.

Serve. Delicious & healthy and filling enough for my dinner. No more massive New York dinners for me, oh no!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Super Fast Bread & Butter Pudding

My Secret Shame

After a hard days work in the garden, I decided have a nice relaxing bath. As the bath ran my mind turned to dinner, I had three slices of white bread, some cream and eggs..... hmmmm, then it struck me - bread and butter pudding, not really a dinner I know, but hey I deserve it. They've been discussing on the
Guardian - about things people eat when they're on their own - I felt better about this dinner after reading it - some of them are so gross! Yuck - sardine juice on cottage cheese...... dear lord It's very quick and easy to put together, given more time - it's good to leave the bread soak up all the goo for an hour or so, but if you don't have that time - it's still very good. It's great for using up the end of a sliced pan that is a little stale.

Ingredients a few imprecise ones here - sorry!
3 slices of bread (I left the crusts on but you can remove if you prefer)

Butter

Cream
Milk

2 eggs
Raisins

Mixed Peel

2 desert spoons Caster Sugar
1) Butter your bread on both sides and cut into little triangles
2) Put them in a greased oven proof dish

3)Scatter around them the raisins and mixed peel

4) Combine - eggs, milk, cream and caster sugar and mix thoroughly together
5) Pour over the bread making sure that all the bread gets a moist or the dry parts may burn
sprinkle on a little more sugar
6)Bake at gas mark 4 for 30 mins, till solid and a little browned on top. Serve - with cream, custard or ice-cream - or by itself.

Other variations include - throwing in some chocolate chips instead of raisins, or spreading the bread with marmalade after the butter and making mini marmalade sandwich pudding - both of these are delish!