So I present to you pecan pie brownies. I had been thinking I would bake them into an actual pie meaning a pie crust. But on Sunday, after spending way too long cooking a recipe from someone I trust very much normally (yes I’m looking at you Mr Granger in your white linen trousers) that didn’t turn out as amazing as one would hope after a forty minute preparation time and 3 hours in the oven. I thought ‘the hell with the pastry’ and I don’t even feel bad saying so. I’m glad I did away with the pastry, one less step to heaven.
If you are in Ireland on Friday April 26th 2013 (that’s this coming Friday if you are reading on date of publication of this post) you will spot lots of volunteers raising funds for Special Olympics Ireland. The Collection Day is the biggest annual fundraising event in aid of Special Olympics Ireland. The money raised on the day will be used to ensure that Special Olympics Ireland can continue to realise its promise of offering people with an intellectual disability the opportunity to participate in sport in their area.
I know firsthand what an amazing job Special Olympics Ireland do as my sister who I look after has been part of Special Olympics for at least the past 20 years. She has an intellectual disability and has attended a special school and now a local day centre. The day centre promotes a number of sports which she partakes in, her favourite being soccer. In the evenings, she participates in the local Special Olympics club in basketball, athletics and bowling. She has also during her career, if you will, at Special Olympics competed in swimming, shortput, horse racing and at least a few others sports that I’m forgetting.
When she was still in school, my Mam used to go to all events as a helper. My first experience of attending the Irish games was many years ago, back when I was still in college. My Mam and sister were staying in Dublin for the Games and I took a bus out to sports grounds on the north side of the city. My outstanding memory of this day, was watching a race not even one my sister was competing in, my Mam was shouting and and cheering on the race participants on and one athlete stopped in the middle of the race to wave to her! Mam without missing a beat started shouting while waving frantically ‘Go on, will ya, keep moving there’ and the athlete did. Not to win the race mind, but it’s the taking part that counts.
If you see a collection box on Friday, I would urge you to give generously as Special Olympics really helps people who may not feel that they can excel in other ways to really shine and gain confidence in something that they really enjoying taking part in. Lots more information here.
Rhubarb has been in the shops for a few weeks now and I can never resist picking up a few bundles when I see it. I love it stewed with orange zest, ground ginger and vanilla sugar for breakfast along with yogurt and granola if I’m feeling virtuous. Otherwise it goes into a crumble or a crumble cake or even a frangipane tart.
Back in February, Avomore ran a competition to create an easy Valentines recipe using Avonmore cream and I was delighted to win first prize with my banoffee ice-cream pie recipe. The prize was a hamper and two places on a celebration cake masterclass at Cooks Academy. Soon enough I found myself walking up the stairs to the Cooks Academy cookery school on South William Street and for a few seconds it felt just like September 2011 and I was on the four week cookery course again but sadly I realised I really was a year and a bit older and I would only have a day in the kitchen this time.
My mother-in-law joined me for the day and along with a number of other participants, our tutor Natasha took us through our paces. She demonstrated making a maderia cake and buttercream, we then moved back to our benches to make our buttercream. Not all benches had a hand mixer and I gave up mine so my mother-in-law didn’t have to dislocate her shoulder to mix hers with a wooden spoon. We then returned to Natasha’s work station where she showed us how to cut, trim, layer and ‘crumb coat’ our pre-made (shop bought) cake. She then demoed a chocolate biscuit cake, of which we all got to take a slice home. We added a final thicker layer of buttercream to our crumb-coated cake before enjoying a light lunch of soup and salad.
I’m an ice-cream snob but there are few that I really enjoy. I love Missy Moo’s ice-creams which are made here in my hometown (so sad to read on Facebook that they are closing down completely, I will certainly miss them!), I’m a fan of the brown bread and peanut butter combination at Murphy’s Ice-cream and my guilty pleasure is an occasional mint feast. I most definitely don’t eat Cornettos anymore since I watched Chub be challenged for his by a very evil monkey in the Botanical Gardens in Penang. I do however have an ice-cream machine, a very small one but every so often I take it out for a little bit of experimenting. It’s great for churning up some frozen yogurts, for a quick summer dessert I love churning some Greek yogurt and then throw in some broken merginue pieces and lemon curd. The large pots of Glenilen Farm and Glenisk with the natural yogurt on top and fruit compote on the bottom are brilliant – churn the natural yogurt and then once semi frozen ripple through the compote before freezing until firm and serving. Delicious and such a quick dessert.
When I came across a recipe for popcorn flavoured ice-cream in Delicious Magazine is rippled with a salted caramel sauce I couldn’t resist trying. It only took me about a year to get around to trying it but I definitely don’t think you should wait that long!
(I am a little late in mentioning this here but I appeared on RTE’s The Take Over last week – if you are in Ireland and fancy watching the show then head over to RTE Player)
I have conquered caramel. It was my cooking nemesis along with aubergine or eggplant to y’all Americans. This caramel cream cheese icing gave me the confidence to reach for the stars and try caramel popcorn. My over confidence resulted in me burning the first batch of caramel, and yes mine was the house with all of the windows thrown open on a freezing cold evening a few weeks back and if the blinds were open you would have seen me frantically spraying febreeze. Burnt sugar doesn’t smell so great. Don’t let that put you off though, the second batch once I kept my eye on it turned out perfectly. And yours will too if you don’t step away from the pan. Show the sugar who’s boss!
It’s the eve of Easter Sunday and there’s not a chocolate egg in the house. We tried to pick one up at the supermarket a few hours ago for my sister but the seasonal aisle was left like a hurricane had hit it and it was packed with bewildered people staring at the shelves hoping that some eggs would magically reappear. Us silly last minute shoppers, we really should have been more organised and bought our eggs when they first came available in January, that will teach us.
It’s not really such a sad story as we are still working our way through the candy that we brought home from our trips to the States in December (cue massive tantrum from our 5 year old nephew when he spotted us packing ‘WHY ARE YOU TAKING ALL THE CAAAAANNNNDDDYYY’) We just finished our last tin of Christmas Roses last week and really it was only opened to make these bars which I have wanted to try for a long time. If you don’t want your Easter Egg chocolate to be hanging around as long as my Christmas chocolate then this is the recipe for you as it uses up all odd sorts of chocolate and chocolate bars.
I love all cakes, but I love some cakes more than others. Carrot cake is my most favourite-ist cake, I used to bake one every week when I was in college and living away from home; I still laugh at the memory of my flat mate, Steve, acting as my sous chef and grating carrots for me. Steve was like the brother I never had and I tried to Irish-Mammy him very often, which I think he liked. On occasion I would make him his dinner as the sight of him eating ketchup, tuna and pasta again for dinner would make me feel ill, although that stopped when I heard him complaining, while drunk – but that is no excuse, that my mash was lumpy.
My mam had sent me off ‘abroad’ to study with cake tins that she had collected tokens for in Super Quinn. She knew I wouldn’t starve, although she also knew that I would make at least four phone calls home for directions if I was making or baking something that I hadn’t tried before. She sent me off with a baking book too where I found my second most favourite-ist cake recipe, the lemon drizzle cake. It would take a stronger woman than I to resist a slice of buttery cake that’s damp from the lemon syrup and coats the fingers with sugar.
This would be the perfect cake to bake for The Great Irish Bake in aid of Temple Street on April 19th 2013! In fact, I have made it as buns for our sale in 2011 and it sold out in no time! Temple Street Children’s Hospital do amazing work and The Great Irish Bake is a great way to support them (Here’s a post on one of my experiences taking part in the Bake Off.)
I’m sorry for introducing these to your life. I feel like the ice-cream van man playing the music and taunting your children, or the teenage girl who pushed cigarettes to you at your first disco or encouraged you to take your first sip of vodka. There’s still time, but only if you look away fast, to get away from these terribly addictive cookies. But in my defense, they have do a redeeming feature; the smushed up cornflakes that are full of added vitamins, just don’t think about the sea salt flakes, or the melty marshmallows or the chocolate chips. And definitely don’t think about the lovely crunchy around the outside chewy in the middle delight that these are. They are addictive, that’s all I’m saying. Don’t try and say I didn’t warn you!
We tried these in Momofuku Milk Bar back in NYC in December and I knew I had to try recreate them. After just a little bit of research online and just one Sunday morning baking in my pyjammas session later I was a bit heartbroken. The cookies were waaaaay overdone. Like burnt. This was back during a spiraling-downhill-no-good-luck in the kitchen phase, where I had recipe after recipe turn out way wrong. Does that ever happen to you? Please say yes! Anyway, after a bit of trial and error I found the cookies needed just 8 minutes in my oven and not the 17 in the recipe, I think I had maybe flattened the cookie dough out too much instead of leaving it in heaped scoops. So lesson learned, keep your eye on these cookies while they are baking. They are worth it!
I found the Recipe here on the Martha Stewart website, there’s a little video on the side too!
We spent a lovely week with family in New York in December. We flew first to Boston and then took the train down to New York for a blissful food filled few days. I thought I would pull together a quick post on where we ate during the trip.