What a difference a year makes…

 

Well – it’s been so long since I blogged that wordpress looks different so it will be a surprise what this looks like once published!

I have been lazy, and busy, but mostly lazy, though making a person and taking care of said small person is surprisingly time consuming!

Which is all the more reason why I must start doing this again, I need to be even more organised in the kitchen I realise as evenings are much busier than before… and this really has been a useful place for me to keep coming back to recipes which worked for me!

However, today I will start with dessert – providing nourishment for a small person has made me crave all kinds of sugar and I’ve started baking more than before, now I’m no Sylvia but since she is fecking off for a few months if I keep practicing maybe by the time she gets back I’ll almost be as skilled as her.

Probably not.

Mary B gave me Brenda Costigan’s cookbook a few years ago.  I have a few wonderful Avoca books, Nevin Maguire, Jamie Oliver and I’ve made stuff from them all, though I mostly like to browse them.  But I realise that I’ve made more from this book than anything else, it’s been really useful so I recommend it!

Blackberry Sponge

Fresh or frozen blackberries can be used, or fruit of the forest which seems to be a bit easier to find her in Brussels (thank you Colruyt).

Just make sure the filling is hot when putting the sponge on top as this will help to cook the sponge underneath more quickly!

Ingredients

  • Fruit Filling:
  • 1 heaped teaspoon cornflour
  • juice of 1 orange
  • 350g frozen blackberries or fruits of the forest
  • 25-50g caster sugar, or to taste

Sponge:

  • 110g butter, softened
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • few drops vanilla essence
  • 110g self raising flour

Serve with whipped cream or ice cream

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 190.  Lightly grease a wide ovenproof dish (1.2 ltr capacity) and place in the oven to heat.
  2. For the fruit – blend the cornflour into the orange juice and put into a saucepan with the fruit.  Stir over the heat until it comes to the boil and thickens slightly.  Sweeten to taste with the sugar but leave the flavour quite tart to make a nice contrast with the sponge.  Keep hot.
  3. For the sponge – using a hand-held electric beater, beat the butter in a bowl, add the sugar and beat well.  Beat in the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla essence and a little of the flour each time.  Then stir in the rest of the flour.
  4. Pour the hot fruit into the hot dish.  Drop small spoonfuls of the sponge mixture in an even layer close together all over the fruit filling.  It won’t be possible to spread the sponge over the fruit but don’t worry, it will spread out itself during the cooking.  Stand the dish on a baking tray in case any juice bubbles out at the edge.
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  6. Bake for 30 minutes, until baked right through.  The sponge should be golden and springy to the touch, but it’s very important to check that the centre is cooked -pierce the centre with a knife, and if no doughy particles cling to it, the sponge is cooked.
  7. Serve hot or cold with a lightly sweetened whipped cream or ice cream.

Sadly I have no photo of it ready-to-eat as I was too busy …. eating it.

I would like to thank the Academy, and Sylvia for inspiring me to get going with this again, but most of all this little guy for snoozing long enough to allow me to write this….

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Porridge Brown Bread

I’ve been a bit neglectful of late, but I’ve had this in draft for a while so it’s time to get it out there!
I don’t know where my Mom got this from, but looking at this post I realise that I should probably have called it something more apetising like ‘Oat Bread’ or something, but she always calls it Porridge Brown Bread because… well that’s what it’s made from.
Are oats called porridge before you make them into porridge though? Don’t answer that.
This is really very tasty, it’s more filling than regular Brown Bread, and it also keeps better for longer.
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Ingredients
  • 1 Large carton of Natural Yogurt (500 ml)
  • Fill this empty carton twice with Porridge Oats
  • 2 Teaspoons of Bicarbonate of Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons of Oil  (Corn Oil or Rapeseed – I only had sunflower, it was grand)
  • 1 teaspoon of salt (my addition)
Method
  1. Add 2 Tubs of Porridge Oats to bowl
  2. Sieve in Bicarb of Soda and salt, then stir in the Oil and finally mix in yoghurt, stir it in well.
  3. Prepare tin and drop mixture into the tin shake tin to settle the mixture.
  4. You can top with Seeds and also add some to the mixture if you like.
  5. Bake at 180 degrees for 50 -60 minutes. Like most breads, the timing is hard to get right, and will depend on your oven, but longer is better, it is very moist, and while the outside might look well done sometimes the inside is still wet, so check with a knife/skewer.
  6. Leave to cool on a wire tray.

Spelt Bread

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One of the many things I tried to help with my excema was to cut out (or down on!) wheat.  

Mary B made it first and then gave me the recipe which is originally from the Cornucopia recipe book…which I have since bought!  It’s a vegetarian restaurant in Dublin (I’ve never been) and Gaye Godkin recommended their book for lots of recipes using pulses and veg etc, I haven’t made much from it so I must experiment with a few more recipes!

I’ve made this bread a few times however, I’m not an expert on bread but I have realised that every oven is different so it generally takes a few tries before you know the best temperature/time for your oven and bread.  I need to bake this for 5-10 more minutes than  the recipe says so I leave it in for over an hour and the most recent batch seems to have worked out well!

I cut half of it into slices and have put them in the freezer so I’ll let you know how well that works!  It’s very tasty, the molasses give it a good flavour, though I couldn’t find the blackstrap version here in Belgium – if you can even better.  It’s also very filling!

Ingredients

  • 425g spelt flour
  • 40g (3tbsp) sesame seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) sunflower seeds*
  • 40g (3tbsp) pumpkin seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) poppy seeds*
  • 15g (1tbsp) linseeds*
  • 2tsp baking powder
  • 1tsp salt (heaped)
  • 550ml water
  • 1tbsp treacle (blackstrap molasses) – optional
  • 2lb (900g) loaf tin)

* If you don’t have all 5 different seeds, you can use whatever seeds you have – just make up a total of 150g of mixed seeds.

Method

  1. Preheat the oven to 180C and brish the bread tin with oil, or line with baking parchment.
  2. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl.  Add the salt and all the seeds and combine thoroughly.
  3. Form a well in the centre of the mix
  4. In a jug, combine the water and treacle, stir well and then pour it into the well in the centre of your dry mix.
  5. Use a spoon or your hand to bring all the ingredients together evenly.   Make sure that the treacle is evenly distributed, not clumped in sticky pockets.
  6. Use as little mixing as possible to achieve an even mix.  It should be of a very sloppy consistency.
  7. Transfer the mix to the oiled tin and pres down evenly – I also run a knife down the centre of the mix.
  8. Bake in the centre of the oven for about 60 minutes, until well risen and evenly browned.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of the loaf, turn out onto a wire rack and tap the base with your finger.  If it makes a hollow sound, the bread is cooked.
  10. Cover with a tea towel and leave to cool completely on the rack before cutting.

A coop of hens, and an attempt to be Sylvia…

My 3rd Hen Party

I mean the 3rd one I’ve attended, not held in my honour, thus far I have had none….

This was the Hen of Miss Sarah Knox Esquire, soon to be Mrs Sarah Hendrick, or some form of that, or perhaps she won’t change her name at all, anyway she’s marrying Danny, and he’s lovely.

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It was in Kilkenny, so I flew home for it and a great weekend was had by all. You understand of course that details cannot be divulged here.

All I can tell you is that there was alcohol, twerking, junk food, a dancing Grandad, and advice from a bouncer that the nightclub would be ‘too messy for us’…

It was a pleasure to spend time with old friends, and make some lovely new ones!

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For the occasion I took on the challenge to make Sylvia’s Guinness and Chocolate Muffins.

My flight landed at 11am, I got the aircoach home, slipped into Spar to pick up the ingredients, discovered a Tim Horton’s stand and got momentarily distracted.

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Headed home and whipped them up before making the trip to Kilkenny.  I got 24 out of the batch, plus a bit left over which I used to make a mini-cake for the family.

It will be a while before I’ll get them as perfect as Sylvia does, but I’ll definitely try again – practice makes perfect!!!

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Tiffin Biscuits

I forgot to post this alongside the Iced Lemon Traybake so here it goes…

I couldn’t find digestive biscuits so I used different ones, the biscuits turned out quite sweet (not surprising as they have alot of sugar in them!) but I definitely think using digestive biscuits would have helped this as they aren’t very sweet, so will make an extra effort to find them next time.

  • 170g unsalted butter
  • 55g cocoa
  • 55g sultanas, washed
  • 110g caster sugar
  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 170g dark chocolate (minimum 55% cocoa)
  • 25g white chocolate
  1. Place the butter, cocoa, sultanas and sugar in a saucepan and melt.
  2. Break up the digestive biscuits but don’t crush completely.
  3. Add to the cocoa mixture and stir thoroughly
  4. Press into a 9” square baking tin lined with baking paper
  5. Melt the dark chocolatein a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and pour over the cocoa mixture.
  6. Melt the white chocolate in the same way and scatter over the biscuits using a fork
  7. Leave in the fridge for an hour or so and cut into squares.  The recipe says 9 but I got 16 – they are heavy so they don’t need to be huge but it’s up to you!

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Iced Lemon Traybake

It’s been a busy few months, after a wonderful 2 week holiday at the beginning of August I came back to work with a bang.  We had our General Assembly followed by the EuroHockey Championships = 11 days in a row, of approximately 12-14 hours work per day, this included such exciting incidents as a flat tire and a 4am Airport drop-off to Charleroi (because I am a great sister).

Unlike my colleagues who took their holidays after the event, I was straight back to the office leading into a September of 2 additional weekends of work, and the other weekends taken up with Electric Picnic, a football tournament in Paris and a weekend at home for my Mammy’s birthday.  Ok I know that those last 3 events are actually enjoyable so I’m not looking for sympathy really, but still I was kind of looking forward to a semi-chilled out weekend.

This weekend was the Belgium GAA ‘All Stars’ Weekend. Also the 10 Year Anniversary of Belgium GAA.  Also the Race Night Fundraiser for Belgium GAA.  I was very much looking forward to it, it all happened from 14.00 on Saturday till… the wee small hours of Sunday! Ok not very chilled out I admit.

However, in addition to that my good friend Dave was running a GAA Coaching Course Level 1 on Friday evening and Saturday morning.  Now, I did foundation level last year, it was great, and I was initially very interested in doing Level 2 (even though I haven’t actually used many of my coaching skills yet).

When I saw that it was this weekend though I weakened. I took my name off the list, I just wanted to relax.  But I wasn’t the only one, so the numbers dwindled, Dave sent an email around basically saying what a great opportunity it is and how they really needed people to attend, the guilt got to me and I put my name back on the list.  And I really enjoyed it, so delighted I did it, it was a lovely group of people and the Saturday morning session was almost all outside, I think I even got a little bit of sun!

However, I decided that I would need something to help me stay concentrated after a long week in work, and everyone knows that sugar is good for that.

So on Wed evening I made some Tiffin Biscuits (post to follow with recipe) and Thursday night I made these bad boys.

  • 225g (8oz) softened butter
  • 225g (8oz) caster sugar
  • 275g (10oz) self raising flour
  • 2 level teaspoons baking powder
  • 4 large eggs
  • 4 tbsps milk
  • grated rind 2 unwaxed lemons

For the icing

  • 3 tbsps lemon juice
  • 225g (8oz) sifted icing sugar

Instructions

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 180 C/Fan 160 C/Gas Mark 4
  2. Grease and line a 30 x 23 cm (12 x 9 in) traybake tin.
  3. Measure all the cake ingredients into a large bowl and beat until well blended. Turn the mixture into the prepared tin and level the top.
  4. Bake in the preheated oven for about 35-40 minutes or until the cake has shrunk away from the sides of the tin and springs bake when pressed. Leave to cool in the tin.
  5. Mix together the lemon juice and icing sugar to give a runny consistency. Spread out evenly over the cake and leave to set before cutting into  pieces.

They don’t look very pretty as I forgot to take the photo before stuffing them into a tupperware…. but they tasted good!

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Friday night: Shane coaches Caoimhe the ‘throwing a ball of paper over your shoulder into the waste paper basket’ skill.

She got it first try – legend.

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Saturday morning: this session took place in the International School of Brussels, we were in Jenny’s classroom for it.  

She teaches ‘Math’ as they call it in Canada.  According to the sign on her door Math Club is fun.  And sure why wouldn’t it be with Jenny as your teacher?

This is me at her desk:

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