Tag Archives: chocolate

Baking: A disaster and a triumph!

13 Apr

Baking was never something I considered a skill, it was just baking.

Both my Grandmothers were superb bakers and my Mam made the best brown bread daily while simultaneously dressing 5 children, preparing breakfast, packing lunches, taping the farming program from radio 1, writing cheques, feeding hens, answering the ever ringing phone, calling the vet and not losing her mind!
Coffee cakes, fruit cakes, buns, caramel squares, almond slices just seemed to appear in huge tuberware containers in the corner press, in fact they still do!  Baking was an effortless endeavor in our house, I was making coffee cakes and madeira mixtures to top pastry cased lemon curd buns from an early age, as were my sisters and cousins. We are a family of food obsessives, feeding people is our way of showing love, compassion, sympathy, friendship, regard or that you need a good dinner 😉

So last week it was time for me to stock my kitchen and get back to normal service. Kmart kitted me out with all the essential utensils and I picked up lots of ingredients between the supermarkets and a fantastic foodstore in Northbridge called Kakulas Brothers.

My first project was a Devils Food Cake reccommended by @eatmeetswest .
It was simple, I made it, cooked it, covered it in ganache and chocolate discs. Off with me and my cake to an Easter picnic with some prospective friends. Cut the cake. IT WAS DRY.
It was dry. How? Whaaaaat?
So I sat there on my lovely picnic blanket in Kings Park and concluded that it was obviously my new oven, the tempreature guage must be off. MUST BE.

Not to worry.

Yesterday I set about making cupcakes, I had chocolate and some over ripe bananas so I settled on this recipe for muffins from Nigella herself. They rose, looked fabulous, popped easily out of the my new silicone cupcake cases. Perfecto.

I test tasted one (as you do) THEY WERE DRY and frankly, AWFUL.
Himself came home from work and taste tested them, even he was shocked by the awfulness so he heated one in the microwave. WORSER.

I tried smothering them in chocolate sauce and ice cream. Nope. Still. Awful.

Was it the oven? Was I converting the recipes incorrectly from weight to cups? HAD I LOST IT??????

I had officially lost the family ability to bake. It must have left me somewhere over South East Asia. I was upset (read: there was much stamping of feet, watery eyes and possibly some sulking).

But I hate waste and how could I throw these cupcakes out knowing the best quality ingredients had gone into them? Hatred of waste is also in my blood! I was going to give it one last go.
Try something I had never tried before.
Bread and Butter Pudding.

I hit up twitter for some answers and with the help of this recipe from WholesomeIreland and plenty of encouragement from the Irish Foodie contingent the following dessert was created.

Chocolate B&B Pudding
5 Chocolate muffins (dry & awful but regualar ones would also be good, stale is better) Sliced
Strawberry jam
– Spread jam on the cupcake slices and arrange in an oven dish
– I poured over the chocolate sauce I had left over for extra lusciousness, and less waste!
Beat an egg in a mug then add in milk to fill mug (I used semi skimmed but full fat is good too, even a bitta cream!)
Add a touch of cinnamon, maybe a 1/4 teaspoon
– Pour this custardy mixture over the cake
– Sprinkle with some regular sugar
– Pop into oven @ 180 degrees for 20 min
Eat with ice cream and no conscience 🙂

It worked. It was delicious! The day was saved. I haven’t lost it. Peace is restored.

*my camera died but trust me they were dark chocolatey in colour mmmm mmmmmm ….

I am going to try WholesomeIreland’s peanut butter version soon and experiment with different types of bread and cakes. Great way to use up leftovers without feeling you are eating leftover. WIN!

SJ x

What to buy for Christmas?? Buy Irish of Course!!

1 Dec

As it’s the first of December it’s ok with me now to talk about Christmas ..

When we were young I don’t remember the run up being so long, there always seemed to be months between Hallowe’en and Christmas. However I do remember standing on the table in our kitchen being helped into my pyjamas (All dressing was done on that table, until now I have never realised it might be odd!) and being so scared that Santa would look in the window, realise I was not good-as-gold and bring me a bag of coal!

Oh, the incredible excitement of Christmas morning, being barely able to get down the stairs with anticipation! While the presents were amazing, for me,  it was seeing had Santa eaten the mince pies and more so had Rudolph had the carrot! The half eaten mince pie and teeth marks in the carrot would bring squeals of delight from us. The year we found reindeer hair/fluff left on our fireplace was without doubt a highlight of my childhood. Imagining how magic Santa must be to not only get himself and all the presents down the chimney but also a Reindeer!! Santa truly is amazing but my parents must have loved Christmas Eve and morning a lot too, good thing there was the odd red cow among all the black & white ones eh?

I have listed below some Irish companies that I love and have purchased gifts from throughout the year as-well as for Christmas. I won’t be too specific with what I have bought for fear of ruining some surprises. It’s nice to have that Christmas morning anticipation even when we are all growed-up!

Firstly, if you want a daily giggle follow Tara and her company on twitter or like them on Facebook. Trust me, you will laugh!
Beautiful slate products from coasters (which can also be used to serve butter!) to table runners, memo/chalk boards to plant markers. All functional,  pretty and reasonably priced they come beautifully packaged too.

Garrendenny Lane – I have loved this site and blog for a long time but only recently made a purchase. I sent this lovely map of Ireland to a friend living in Canada who won’t be home for Xmas. It was delivered straight from the site and arrived within a week! An ideal present for someone who won’t make it home this year.

Green Saffron – I adore these spice mixes! Sirak Masala (available online or from farmers market) and Murgh Tandoori are my favourites but the Balti, Rogan Josh and Tikka Masala have all gone down really well! Each pack comes with easy to follow instructions and tips.  I am looking forward to trying the Christmas Turkey Delight around December 26th.

Donegal Rapeseed Oil – Healthier than alternatives and tastes really good! There are other Irish rapeseed oils around now too which I have not tasted, we have no need to buy all foreign oils any more!

Sleek.ie – this might seem like a treat for yourself but once Lorna sorts you (or me anyway) out with some fantastic control underwear the sight of you in your party dress will be a treat for everyone’s eyes!! Great customer service and fantastic products.

Danucci Chocolates – Salted Caramels. Have to be tried to be believed

8Degrees Brewing Beer – Brewed in Cork by a Kiwi and an Aussie, a lovely present for a beer lover and a good addition to your christmas puddings, cakes, mincemeat or accompaniment to your cheese board (any excuse!).

Funky Christmas Jumpers – Lots of fun to wear one of these on the big day and also really popular for the annual 12 Pubs of Christmas fun!

Hairy Baby – T-shirts, aprons, bags and baby clothes with hilarious graphics and slogans! My Mam’s name is Mary so have been thinking of getting this one for Dad .. hee hee!

Cookbooks are always appreciated by cooks and food enthusiasts alike. Here are my favourites from this year.
Edward Hayden: Food to Love

If you are not familiar with Edward you are in for a treat! He is a lovely personable and really funny guy who I first met when I did a cookery course in Dunbrody House with my sister, Mam and Aunties,  everyone fell in love with him. I have since attended lots of his classes and met him at various shows. His book has lots of great recipes & ideas and I have used it many times since getting it for my birthday in September.

Niamh Shields: Comfort and Spice

A Waterford girl living in London cooking up a storm and making my mouth water on regular occasions with her blog. Slow cooked pork is her signature dish her book is not only beautiful but packed full of great recipes you will want to try immediately.

Lilly Higgins: Make, Bake, Love

This is one book I am hoping will be bought for me rather than me buying for someone else. Lilly’s blog is so aesthetically pleasing that I cannot wait to drool over the pages of her book, which she styled herself! WANT.

Only 24 more sleeps …

SJ x

Quinoa, Brining, Paprika Chicken, Pavlova and Chocolate Ice Cream …

7 Jul

I have been trying new things lately …

First off I made chocolate ice cream using this recipe from Murphy’s Ice Cream and my new ice cream maker .. it was so good I forgot to take any photos until it was nearly all eaten …

Last month I discovered www.foodgawker.com and have literally lost hours of my life scanning through amazing photos of food … its a great way of find new blogs and foodie websites too …..

Upon finding this recipe for Paprika Chicken  I knew exactly what to do with some chicken legs in my freezer .. however I have never been able to achieve that lovely “falling off the bone” texture with chicken legs .. then I heard about brining so I consulted the foodie twitterati and both LikeMamUsedToBake and 9BeanRow  are fans and gave me lots of tips. I covered the 4 chicken legs in water added in a handful of salt, a little sugar and some black peppercorns, covered with cling film and hoped for the best! This evening I took the chicken out, dried with paper towels before following the recipe as normal. The result was a delicous, simple dish and chicken that was really moist and actually falling off the bone .. RESULT!

I served the above with two other new foods to me .. quinoa and fennel! The fennel came in my wonderful bag from Home Organics this week and Sharon Dingle another great twitter foodie gave me a recipe… basically cut off the fennel stalks and chop, cut the bulb itself in 4 and boil for ten minutes. Then to the chopped stalks add chopped garlic, black olives, cherry tomatoes, a glug of olive oil and a glass of white wine.. add the bulb quarters and roast in the oven for 20 minutes!  I’ll admit I am not a massive fan of the liquorice type taste of fennel but this was a really nice way of cooking it and went down a treat.  Quinoa I have been hearing about since my student days working in an organic shop in London … and that’s not today nor yesterday.. but I had never bought and prepared it myself until last week. Its very simple and I just followed the instructions on the pack .. its a great alternative to rice or addition to salads.  I can see it becoming a firm favourite in my kitchen ..

I had 5 egg whites left over from the ice cream making so with the help of text from my Mam I whipped up my first pavlova …

Kenwood whisking up the egg whites!

In an attempt to be healthier and because I don’t really like cream I used greek yoghurt instead …mixed in a little of my Mam’s homemade raspberry jam …and added some lovely juicy Irish raspberries …

It wasn’t as good as my Mam’s … but it was still really nice! The greek yoghurt (Glenisk of course) is lusciously creamy and so a great substitiute for cream.

What will I try next ???