Mide’s Buttermilk Pancakes

Mide’s delights….

How she is missed, though to be fair, Mide is the one person who left this land of beer and chocolate but returns as promised on a very regular basis.  And she is always welcomed back with open arms.  I miss how she would arrive at your house with a wicker basket full of ingredients and then bake something tasty.

She made pancakes for me last year on one of her many visits, they went excellently with Caoimhe’s authentic Canadian maple syrup.

She very kindly emailed the recipe to me and it is written below in true Mide style.  I made them for Colin recently but he is not such a fan of the thicker pancake – so more for me!

‘So ideally the mixture should be mixed at least a few hours beforehand (night before for morning or morning for afternoon/evening consumption) as this allows time for the raising agent to be activated and gives the bubbly fluffy texture. However, petite astuce, if you can’t do this just separate eggs, beat whites until fairly stiff and then at end, when all other ingredients mixed, fold the egg whites in gently with metal spoon.

These are American measures but exact quantities not that important, so whatever cup and spoon measures would be fine. You can add extra flour or milk as you see fit.
  1. Sift: 1 and half cups of cream flour 1 teaspoon salt 1 and 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  2. Add: 3 tablespoon sugar
  3. To dry ingredients add: 1 cup milk (or bit more if mixture very stiff) 3 tablespoon melted butter
  4. Beat eggs 2 lightly and add. (or add lightly beaten yolks and then fold in whites)
  5.  Mixture will be lumpy. Don’t worry about this and don’t try to get all the lumps out. They will go in cooking. Mix (before addition of egg white) a bit but don’t over mix and don’t try to get mixture totally smooth.
  6.  I find that when I do the over-the-night thing that I need to add a bit of milk before cooking. However, mixture should not be runny like crepe as these pancakes are thick and fluffy’
I have no photos of the pancakes but will add one the next time I make them.
However I do have a food-related Mide photo, here she is preparing a picnic outside the Beaumont-Hamel Newfoundland Memorial in the Somme Valley this June for Sylvia’s birthday.
I realise that might sound a bit random but it was a lovely day.
That’s Colin flaked out on the grass behind her recovering from the end of the Irish Presidency of the EU.

French Dressing

For just about anything

This is another one from Avoca, I’ve actually made this loads of times with various different oils, but I’ve just realised that I currently have all the correct ingrendients so I’m going to go home and make it now.

It keeps for several weeks in the fridge.  You basically just put everything in a blender…

  • 300ml sunflower oil
  • 300ml olive oil
  • 300ml peanut oil
  • 300ml red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 3 tablespoons grainy mustard
  • 2 dessertspoons honey

Chocolate Orange Cake

By my Australian cousin…

Early 2010 my cousin Fiona visited from Down Under.  This is the daughter of the Aunt who gave me the wonderful cheesy bread cob… mmmm…cheese…

Anyway, Fiona enjoys cooking, she also taught me how to make sushi!  But mainly she bakes, very fatty delicious things.  She had a little handwritten notebook of recipes and from it she made this.  It was amazing, I want it now.

Not long after she left however I discovered that it was actually an Avoca recipe, how it got to Australia and into her notebook I don’t know but here it is…


  • 17g dark chocolate (70 per cent cocoa)
  • 175g unsalted butter
  • 225g caster sugar
  • 6 eggs, separated
  • grated zest of 3 oranges (the most annoying part)
  • 150g self-raising flour, sifted
  • Orange slices, to decorate (if you feel like it)


  • 125ml double cream
  • 225g dark chocolate (55 per cent cocoa)
  • 1-2 tablespoons of Cointreau – Fiona left this out as we didn’t have any so I have yet to try it!
  1. Break up the chocolate and put it in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water, making sure the water is not touching the base of the bowl.
  2. Leave to melt and then remove from the heat and set aside.
  3. Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, then gradually beat in the egg yolks.
  4. Stir in the melted chocolate and the orange zest and then fold in the flour.
  5. Whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff and fold them into the cake mixture.
  6. Spoon into a lined round 23cm cake tin and bake in an oven pre-heated to 170 degrees/gas mark 3 for 35-40 minutes, until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean.  Turnout and leave to cool on a wire rack.
  7. To make the icing put all the ingredients into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and leave until the chocolate has melted.
  8. Stir until smooth, then remove from the heat and set aside for 10-20 minutes.  Pour the icing over the cake and decorate with the slices of orange.


Tuscan Bean Soup

For a broken jaw….

Poor Tim was very unforunate early in 2012 when he was the victim of a vicious assault on the football pitch and came away with a broken jaw.

All the ladies rallied around producing liquid food for him, I think he still has quite a few of our tupperwares, anyway, our mammies would be proud of us.

I thought he would need some serious protein so found this recipe in one of the Avoca books, and it turned out quite delicious!


  • 1 onion, peeled and chopped
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 celery sticks, finely diced
  • 2 large carrots, finely diced
  • 75g streaky bacon, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
  • 1.2 litres vegetable stock
  • 3 x 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • pinch of sugar
  • 110g canned cannellini beans, drained and well rinsed
  • 1 dessertspoon oregano
  1. Saute the onion in the olive oil for 10 minutes or until translucent.
  2. Add the celery, carrots and bacon and cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then stir in the stock and tomatoes.  Season well, adding the bay leaf and sugar.
  4. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the vegetables are cooked but still al dente.
  5. Stir in the beans and oregano and cook for 5 minutes.
  6. Remove the bay leaf and serve with croutons and some pesto if you fancy it.

Obviously, as Tim’s jaw was wired shut I also blended the soup smooth, I prefer smooth soups anyway but next time I might try it chunky….

26th October 2013

Update on Tuscan Bean Soup – I used salami as couldn’t find any rashers, and as I only had 2 tins of tomatoes I threw in the leftover 400ml of tomato sauce from the Bolognese – it was very very tasty….!

Moroccan Lamb Tagine

My first Tagine!!!

Albeit made in a saucepan.  Another one that would work better in a Le Creuset pot (Santa…..) or indeed an actual tagine.

It was so tasty that I have already bought some more lamb and stuck it in the freezer for the next time.

This is from Brenda Costigan’s book – 100 Favourite Recipes

Lamb and dry marinade

  • 800-900g bite-sized chunks of lean lamb cut from the soulder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 teasponns grated fresh ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh coriander
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper


  • 3-4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 300ml vegetable stock
  • 1 x 400g tinned tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato puree
  • 1-2 thin strips of orange peel, no white pith
  • 50g ready to eat apricots
  • 50g ready to eat prunes (stoneless)

To serve

  • 75g whole blanched almonds
  • 1-2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

Couscous Pilaf

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion chopped
  • 1 clove garlic chopped
  • 225g couscous
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 300ml chicken or veg stock
  1. Put the lamb pieces into a bowl.  In a separate bowl, combine all the dry marinade ingredients and mix well.  Stir the marinade into the lamb, coating well.  Cover and leave for at least 30 minutes, preferably longer (up to 3 hours).  If keeping overnight, put in the fridge.
  2. To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion and garlic for 1-3 minutes, until soft.  Lift out and transfer to a saucepan or casserole
  3. Fry the lamb (including the dry marinade) in small batches until the meat is lightly browned, then transfer to the saucepan.  Add all the remaining sauce ingredients to the saucepan and bring to the boil.
  4. Cover with a lid and simmer gently for about 1 hour, or until the lamb is tender, reducing the heat if necessary.
  5. Before serving, discard the orange peel.  Fry the almonds until golden in a little olive oil , drain and stir into the stew along with the fresh mint.  Serve with cooked basmati rice or couscous pilaf.

To make the Couscous Pilaf

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes, until soft.  Add the couscous, stir through and then pour in the stock.  Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Cover with a lid and cook gently for another few minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through, ten take off the heat and leave, covered, until the couscous swells.
  3. After about 5 minutes or so it should be ready to serve.  Fluff up with a fork to break up any clumps.


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Veggie Thali

The dilemma of the vegetarian dinner guest(s)

Not so long ago I decided to cook dinner for some friends, mainly Caoimhe because she had cooked for me so many times.  Caoimhe is in love with a Spanish man. So of course he was also invited, he is a nice Spanish man who in fact has also made dinner for me (he cooks very well).

He is also a vegetarian Spanish man, but it’s ok he eats fish.

Sylvia also came along because I owe her about 10,000 Guinness and Chocolate muffins. To be fair she contributed with her excellent Sea Salt and Caramel Chocolate Cake

As I was already cooking for a vegetarian I thought well I might as well cook for 2, and I invited Babs along. Then I realised that Babs is a real veggie and doesn’t eat fish.

And so my challenge – after alot of googling I finally settled on this. I did involve me visiting an authentic Indian food shop for some of the ingredients but that is all part of the experience!

It turned out quite nicely actually, although I added some chicken dish after I saw the disappointment on Colin and Sylvia’s faces that there would be no meat. Everyone was happy.

It looks a bit challenging at first and there are moments when it feels like you are juggling a bit, but in fact it’s actually very simple:

Lemon Rice

  • 1 Lemon, zest pared and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 3 cardomom pods, bashed
  • 1 mugful basmati rice
  1. Cook the lemon zest and spices in a little oil until fragrant
  2. Add the rice and stir well
  3. Tip in 2 mugs of water and 1 tsp salt, bring to simmer, put  on a lid and cook until water is absorbed and rice cooked
  4. Add a splash of lemon to serve


  • 250g red lentils
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • oil
  • onion grated
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1 red chilli, shredded
  • 1 tsp garam masala
  1. Put the lentils and tumeric in a pan and add water to cover by 2cm.
  2. Season and simmer for about 20 minutesuntil tender, adding more water if needed.
  3. Heat some oil in a pan then cook the onion, garlic and chilli for a few minutes.
  4. Add the garam masala, cook for a minute then stir into the cooked lentils.

Saag paneer

  • 1 x 250g block paneer, cut into cubes
  • groundnut oil
  • 1 onion, grated
  • a small chunk root ginger, finely grated
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 300g spinach, washed and chopped
  1. Fry the paneer in a little oil until golden.
  2. Add onion, ginger, garlic and spices, and cook until softened.
  3. Add the spinach and a splash of water and cook until wilted.

Onion raita

  • 1/2 small red onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • a handful mint leaves, chopped
  • a handful coriander leaves chopped
  • 200ml natural yogurt
  1. Mix everything together just before serving and season

Aubergine and tomato curry

  • 1 onion, chopped
  • oil
  • 1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
  • 1 tsp tumeric
  • 1/2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1tsp black onion seeds
  • 1 punnet cherry tomatoes
  • a handful coriander leaves
  1. Fry the aubergine and tomato curry by frying the onion in oil until soft.
  2. Tip onto a plate,
  3. Add a little more oil to the pan and fry the aubergine in batches until browned all over and tender.
  4. Add another slug of oil to the pan and fry the spices for 30 seconds, add back th eaubergine and onion, plus the cherry tomatoes, and cook everything until the tomatoes have burst.
  5. Season with salt and scatter with coriander leaves.


Paprika Cod with Chorizo and Puy lentils

Come Dine with me, by Jane and Gill

Well – we tried. We tried to have our own Come Dine with Me experience.

Unfortunately, we were the only episode if I recall correctly.

But the food was good – if I do say so myself.  It was my first real experience of lentils and I’ve made that part of the dish several times since on it’s own as it was so easy and tasty!

We also served it with mashed potatoes.  There was an almost disaster there which involved using a hand held blender and finishing the cooking in the microwave – lesson is: Always make sure you have enough time to fully steam your spuds!

For the Puy Lentils

  • 200g Puy Lentils
  • 300ml chicken stock
  • 3tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 small (or 1 large) spicy chorizo sausage, thickly sliced
  • salt and freshly ground black papper
  • dash red wine vinegar

For the cucumber garnish

  • 1 large cucumber, skin removed, flesh cut into ribbons using a vegetable peeler, seeds disgarded
  • salt

For the cod

  • 1kg cod fillet, skin on
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 2tsp paprika
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • knob of butter

For the dressing

  • 5 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  1. For the Puy lentils, preheat the girll to its highest setting
  2. Place the lentils into a measuring jug and note thier volume.  Place them into a pan.  Ad the chicken stock to the measuring jug and top up with enough water to bring the volume of liquid to double that of the lentils.  Add the liquid to the pan with the lentils.
  3. Bring the lentils to the boil and cook for 20 – 25 minutes, or until tender.
  4. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan over a medium heat.  Add the onion, garlic and chorizo and fry until the onions have softened and the chorizo is golden brown.  SEason, to taste, with salt and pepper, then set aside.
  5. Drain the lentils, return them to the pan and stir through the cooked onion, garlic and chorizo, as well as the red wine vinegar.
  6. For the cucumber garnish, place the cucumber ribbons in a sieve or colander to drain, sprinkle generously with salt and cover with kitchen paper and a plate.  Set aside for 20 minutes.
  7. For the cod, make slashes in the skin of the cod using a sharp knife.  Mix the olive oil, paprika and seasoning together in a small bowl.
  8. Melt the butter in an ovenproof frying pan and add the cod, flesh-side down.  Fry for exactly two minutes.
  9. While the cod is cooking, pour over the oil and paprika mixture, then season the skin of teh cod with the salt.
  10. Transfer the cod to the grill and cook for 6 minutes (or less, depending on the thickness of the cod fillet), until the cod is just cooked through and the skin is crisp.
  11. For the dressing, mix together all of the dressing ingredients until well combined.
  12. Just before serving, place the cucumber ribbons into a bowl.  Pour the dressing onto the drained cucumber ribbons and mix to coat thoroughly.

Chilli Con Carne

Another great one pot dish…

And another one that tastes better the day after.  I made this 2 years in a row for our annual Ardennes January trip and so far, nobody has come down with food poisoning = result.

It’s the only chilli I’ve ever made, our kitchen cupboard consists of a few tins of chilli flavoured beans that Colin continues to buy and never use (ok he used them once, I’ll be in trouble if I don’t admit that), but to be honest I don’t even know how to use them.

And this recipe is ridiculously easy to make – I have discovered that once you make the effort to buy all the fancy herbs and spices then it’s so easy to make tons of different dishes.

2 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1kg/2¼lb lean beef mince – (I’ve just seen the Hairy Bikers use 1/2 mince 1/2 chopped beef to give it a ‘luxurious’ texture, might try that next time!!!)
250ml/9fl oz red wine
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
3 tbsp tomato purée
2 red chillies, thinly sliced, or 3-4 tsp dried chilli flakes
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 stick cinnamon
good shake of Worcestershire sauce
1 beef stock cube
salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 x 400g can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 large bunch coriander leaves, roughly chopped
wedges of lime, to serve

  1. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan with a lid and fry the onion and garlic until softened. Increase the heat and add the mince, cooking quickly until browned and breaking down any chunks of meat with a wooden spoon.
  2. Pour in the red wine and boil for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Stir in the tinned tomatoes, tomato purée, fresh chilli or chilli flakes, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, and Worcestershire sauce and crumble in the stock cube.
  4. Season well with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Bring to a simmer, cover with a lid and cook over a gentle heat for about 50 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally until the mixture is rich and thickened.
  5. Add the kidney beans and fresh coriander. Cook for a further ten minutes, uncovered, before removing from the heat, adding any extra seasoning if necessary.
  6. I usually serve with baked potatoes – easiest thing to do for a large group but you could also include with rice, guacamole, sour cream and a big green salad.
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Barbara’s Cheesy Cob Dip

Ok I just invented the title…

The first time I had this was in 1997. I know that because Saving Private Ryan was released in 1998.

Intrigued? Ok well we used to have a mobile home in Curracloe, Co Wexford. Used to. It was sold. But that’s another story.  My aunt Barbara lives in Sydney but she and her family came home for a visit one summer and came down to Curracloe for a few days.  It was the same summer that Stephen Speilberg decided to use Curracloe Beach to film the D-Day landings for Saving Private Ryan.

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We had a BBQ outside my other Aunt Angela’s mobile and it was a lovely evening.  I remember 2 things clearly: the smoke and noise from the bombings of the fake D-Day landings and this delicious starter, nibble, dip type affair that Babs whipped up.  Anyway she emailed me the recipe not long after:

1 large bread cob
1 pkt of French Onion soup
2x500g blocks of Philadelphia cream cheese (this depends on the size of the Cob – it’s alot of cheese so you might want to reduce it slightly!)
1 large tub of sour cream
2 tablespoons of Mozzerella Cheese
a couple of rashers (diced)
1 onion (chopped finely).
  1. Cut the top of the cob and take out the bread in the middle, tear in into bite size pieces (you will use this bread to scoop the dip out of the middle before you start breaking off the cob.
  2. Fry the onion and bacon until cooked , leave to cool.
  3. Mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and soup together.
  4. Add the onion and bacon and mozzerella, mix well and pour into the cob.
  5. Put the cob on an oven tray and surround it with the bread and the top (keep the top in one piece so that you can put it back on before you serve it).
  6. Cook in a moderate oven, you want to cook it enough so that the cheese melts, (as it’s cooling it gets thicker). The bread will
  7. crisp up, just keep an eye on it. It can be hard to get this right, it’s good to really mix up the cheese mixture first so it’s almost starting to melt, you could even warm it in the microwave or a pot slightly before adding it to the bread for the oven.
So fatty.So tasty.
Babs on a more recent visit, with me, Mom, Clare, and Avril and Nanny in the front.

Beef Bourguignon with redcurrant and rosemary

So this is a little more in keeping with the theme of the blog…

It was sent to me by Mary B – I will copy and paste her words below – they have some extra advice! However I know that she made it for her own version of Come Dine with Me.  I don’t think it won but I know it definitely got high marks.

I’ve made it a couple of times, once in Gill’s Le Creuset pot and once in a regular pot (after Gill moved back to Ireland).  It definitely benefits from the heavier pot – and like most of these dishes it’s even nicer the second day.

Serves 4
pre heat oven to 150 C
Gas Mark 3

1 Kg diced beef
2 tablesp plain flour seasoned gererously with salt and pepper
250 ml of red wine (Burgundy) or whatever plonk…. u have ….
1 large onion fincely diced
1 Tablsp of Olive oil
150 grams of lardons of bacon –  Streaky rashers
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 sprigs thyme
1 ttsp tomatoe puree
1 420 grm of tomatoes
1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly  (this is the added extra which makes it nicer)
300 ml beef stock (NICE STOCK CUBE)
baby button mushrooms  150 grm
pearl onions
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper.

The great thing about this recipe is that it gets better after a day or two so make it in advance for stress-free entertaining.  It will also freeze well. Better to add the mushrooms and pearl onions after you have defrosted it and when you are reheating It should be ready to eat in 30 mins…


Toss the meat in lightly seasoned flour.  Fry in small batches until brown, transferring to a large place.  De-glaze the pan by adding the red wine and allowing it to come to the boil, stirring the bottom of the pan to release any crusty bits on the bottom: we want these as they are full of flavour.

In a large saucepan or ovenproof casserole dish, cook the onion in olive oil until soft and translucent, then add the bacon lardons and garlic.  Continue to cook until the bacon picks up a little colour.  Add the browned meat, along with the de-glazed pan juices, half the herbs, (these dont need to be chopped just throw them in), the tomatoe puree, tinned tomatoes, the redcurrant jelly and enough beef stock to cover the meat by 4 cm.  Bring to simmering point, season well and either bake in the oven or continue to simmer on a very low heat for on hour.  Remove from the oven, discard the herbs, add the mushrooms and perl onions along with the remaining chopped herbs and cook for a further 30 minutes.  Taste to ensure the meat is tender and seasoning is correct.

I cook in advance up to cook in oven and leave to cool and put in fridge.  On the evening of serving add the mushrooms and cook for 1/2 hour.

Enjoy and serve with creamed spuds ….. saute the chopped scallions or spring onions in butter and add to potatoes and heat milk and add it too.  Do this just before serving, I let the spuds dry out too much ….. too much wine.

Talk soon,

Love Mom


I have no photos of the dish, or her Come Dine with me Experience – so here she is making a snow angel: