Hello people! Wasn’t it just yesterday that I last posted? It feels like it, but it was 6 weeks ago! Seriously! How fast did that go? I’ve had a lot on my plate recently and sadly food or being creative were not priorities. Seriously being an adult is definitely not all it’s cracked up to be, yes I could buy all the chocolate I want but will it make me as happy as I thought it would when I was 6 years old?
Anyway during my “non creative” time, I didn’t do very much baking; I made a Halloween barmbrack for the outlaws, Little Sister became a brack mule and brought it to Scotland with her in her little suitcase. My Outlaws are of course Scottish and not just living in Scotland and had never heard of a barmbrack, cue much mirth when I explained the tradition of the inclusion of a ring wrapped in baking paper. My Mum Outlaw declared it and Donal Skehan “very nice”. I also tried, and loved the very famous melting moments from Australian Masterchef 2012. Have you been watching this years series? What did you think of it?
The Autumn evenings are so much cooler and the leaves crisp on the ground and pumpkin season is well and truly here. I sent Chub out to buy me a pumpkin a couple of weeks ago and he came back with a whopping 5kg specimen from Lidl; I did spot smaller ones in Tesco at the weekend though, which would be also perfect to cook with although it is important to hold one back to carve. I love searching the internet to find an unusual pattern to carve my Halloween pumpkin in and I think this year Pinterest is going to prove very useful indeed. Last year, I told you how Chub carved lanterns out of turnips for trick or treating, which I had never heard of before; it must be a Scottish thing, but it’s surprising how many people end up finding my blog by searching ‘how to carve a turnip’ God love them, it’s hard enough to peel a turnip let alone carve a face into it!
My first time cooking with pumpkin was only about 5 years ago, when I made this ‘cauldron’ or chicken casserole and it has become a firm favourite in our house. Thanks to the whopper size of our pumpkin, it made lifting the cauldron in and out of the oven a little tricky (remember left from the legs – we don’t want any back injuries around here) But on the plus side, I ended up with lots of extra pumpkin puree from the shell walls that I will use to make a bumper amount of pumpkin soup with hardly any work.
Hands up who’s a fancy coffee lover! Me me ME! You can take your boring old instant coffees and americanos, I want lattes and cappuccinos and frappucinos too if the weather is kind. At this time of year, I am ready to warm up on sweet gingerbread lattes and my absolute favourite the egg nog latte, although I don’t think I’m allowed to speak of that flavour profile yet until closer to the C word.
I had great success making a gingerbread syrup with the following recipe and it saves me loads from shelling out 5 euros to fuel my addiction. Place 110g dark brown sugar in a small saucepan with 3tbsp of pumpkin puree (from a can), 1/2 tsp of mixed spice and 240ml water. Bring to the boil and stir until all ingredients have dissolved, about 2 or 3 mins. Store syrup in a sterilised jar.
I have a terrible backlog to post through, just go to show that even though I’m not posting I’m still baking and eating a lot. I’m also in the midst of an incredibly busy few weeks at work and a nice dose of insomnia. In the wee hours of the morning over the past week, I thought of incredibly witty stories to share with you, but now all I have to share is cake. I wanted to get this post, erm, posted, before the blackberries disappear from the hedgerows. I’m going to try get out for a good long walk tomorrow and see if I can spot any more. As you can tell, I made this cake a few weeks ago when the last of the beautiful Irish strawberries were available, but now just go ahead and use extra blackberries or whatever you have available to you.
Hope you have a lovely weekend!
Autumn is well and truly here now. I love this time of year, I feel like moving into September is like starting the year again; a new school term, cooler evenings, crisp leaves underfoot, warming casseroles and apple crumble. The hedgerows are full of golden leaves and if you look in the right spots, heavy bramble branches full of blackberries. Last week we took a drive down to Laois to combine a walk, some photography and blackberry picking. It was Chub’s first time to go blackberry picking and while he was a good picker for a novice he managed to get himself tangled in a big pile of brambles which I had to pull him out of, we both ended up with a few scratches thanks to that little emergency. We picked a little over a kilo of berries and after very close inspection by me when we got home to find any little critters lurking in them, they were washed and ready for making jam. I am really not a jam expert, I didn’t have much success with the gooseberry jam I tried last year and ended up caramelising the sugar after boiling it for too long, so with great it was with great trepidation that I tried Kristin’s jam recipe and guess what – it worked perfectly! A taste of success that nearly tasted as good as the jam.
So with four sticky pots of jam, a scary amount of which has been eaten on toast with peanut butter and stirred through porridge, I decided to try something else for the first time; doughnuts! I can rarely resist a good jam doughnut, particularly from Super Quinn. I used a Paul Hollywood recipe; which I will use again but it makes HUGE doughnuts, like bigger than football doughnuts, which you mightn’t think is a bad thing but I found it was too much of a good thing. Next time around I will divide the dough into 12-13 rounds or even just do a half batch as doughnuts really have to be super fresh to be enjoyed at their best, they just don’t taste as good the following day. I have frozen a few of the leftovers but I’m not sure how well they will survive the process but I will update this post when I find out. The only adaption I made was to roll them in vanilla caster sugar as opposed to the suggested, erm, regular caster sugar.
Brûlée-d banana split with melty coconut ice-cream?
Autumn is creeping in so I really need to get a move on and share this coconut ice-cream, not that ice-cream can’t be eaten at any time of year but this one tastes of summer. That’s not to say that you should wait until next summer to make it! It’s very difficult to photograph melty ice-cream and we couldn’t decide how best to style it so here are some serving suggestions.
Or coconut ice-cream and fancy bananas in your Mam’s fancy ice-cream bowls?
I served the ice-cream with brûlée-d bananas which are so simple to make. Cut a banana in half, sprinkle brown sugar evenly over the flat side of each side of the banana. Put under a pre-heated grill or blow torch until the sugar caramelises. So simple, just like this ice-cream recipe. Or how about mixing chocolate chunks through the ice-cream to make it into home-made bounty ice-cream?
Coconut ice-cream, brûléed bananas with a white chocolate chip, cherry and coconut brownie?
I have a new obsession, it has replaced my old obsession which was costing me a lot of money; so now instead of buying cook books these days I’m borrowing them from the library. Thankfully this new little addiction leaves me to spend my pocket money on important things like cocktails and BBQ sandwiches. I have used the library for years but only recently realised that I could borrow cook books and who knew, DVD box sets? Little Sister joined our local library with me, I’m hoping it will encourage her to read more often but she was quick to feed her addiction too, with a knitting DVD. Us girls are keraaazay!
Lots of inspiration in numerous cookbooks & I still dread weekly menu planning!
I recently borrowed The Guilt Free Gourmet by Irish brother and sister Jordan and Jessica Bourke. Jordan is a chef working in the UK and Jessica is a nutritional therapist working in Dublin and together they have devised recipes that are wheat, sugar and dairy free. Fortunately I’m not intolerant to wheat or sugar but I’m coming to the realisation that I need to reduce my dairy intake as it aggravates my eczema. I have made a few dishes from the book now, and this frittata is fast becoming a favourite. Little Sister who swears she hates sweet potato loves this, it’s very versatile and great heated up for lunch the following day. Try adding crispy chorizo chunks for another layer of flavour too.
August is traditionally becoming a month of excess. We started it with a lovely weekend in Scotland, lunches with friends, dinners with friends, a day out that ended in me running towards a conga line like my life depended on it at 9.30pm in the evening after indulging in a leeetle too much free champagne, an Indian feast with the Outlaws; where I encouraged my four year niece to rub my belly to aid the digestion, work lunches out that included BBQ brisket rolls and huge platters of bacon ribs – I didn’t invite anyone to rub my belly on those occasions, oh and a little wine tasting. But there are only a few more days to go, I just have to see out this weekend with a little bit more gluttony with a brunch and dinner and drinks. I am celebrating you see, not many people turn thirty again and I’m fortunate it’s happening to me.
The other day I had one of these for breakfast and it is doubtful I will be wearing my skinny jeans for my thirty again celebration. September is the new January in my books.
Many mornings in my childhood I would wake to the smell of scones baking. They were something my mother pulled together effortlessly, never weighing any of the ingredients but using a teacup for guidance. The butter would be rubbed into the flour, the soured milk added and brought together by gentle mammy hands before being rolled out on the kitchen table with the back of a glass. I loved to listen for the sweet little sigh of the dough being cut into circles as if it were resigned to its fate. Offcuts were given to little fingers to play with while the anticipation built along with the oven temperature. Butter was spread thickly, melting and dripping from the hot scones before being devoured greedily with sweet tea. To many it was only baking scones but to me, it is one of the memories I cherish from my childhood; sitting at the table watching my mother doing something she probably didn’t think twice about.
We spent a lot of time with my mother’s sister as children and there was a running rivalry between them on who make the best scones. I would often be asked when I returned home ‘who makes the nicest scones, me or Mrs Reilly?’ so from a young age we learnt diplomacy and always said ‘you mammy’ no matter what the truth was. I was only discussing scones with Mrs R recently and she told me that she can’t manage to rub the butter into the flour anymore so she grates it in. I have tried this little tip on a couple of occasions now and find it works perfectly, so no more messy hands!
When life gives you lemons, make lemon cake and bake to soothe the soul. I made lemon curd, but feel free to use shop bought or this lemon passionfruit curd would be lovely too.
Little Sister and I delivered it over to our kind, caring and generous uncle yesterday. Happy birthday JR!
Normal services to resume soon…