Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Simplest Apple Tart Ever; Thanks to @paulflynnchef Irish Food!

RTE are really spoiling us these days with fabulous cooking shows featuring Neven Maguire, Donal Skehan and now Paul Flynn.  Its great that from such a small country we have such fabulous shows to watch and mouthwatering recipes to attempt!  Last nights episode of Paul Flynns show was fabulous, featuring apples and potatoes.  I loved the recipes as each one featured did not have fancy ingredients that I would have to travel to find.  I am really looking forward to trying the chorizo and sweet potatoe dish as they are flavours which my children and I all love.  The recipe for the apple tarts really caught my eye as I had a sheet of puff pastry in the freezer crying out to be used, apples in the fruit bowl, butter in the fridge and icing sugar in my baking box! Four simple ingredients and one minute to assemble! My kind of dish!


  • 1 sheet of puff pastry defrosted
  • 1 apple
  • Icing sugar
  • Butter for greasing
Preheat oven to 220 degrees.
Grease baking tray with butter.
Cut sheet of puff pastry in half and prick with a fork leaving a border.
Half apple and take core out and slice finely.
Spread apple out on sheet of pastry and smother in icing sugar.
Place in oven until caramelised! Mine took around 15 mins.
Serve with delicious ice cream, cream, custard or whatever takes your fancy!

Well for very little effort these little tarts tasted fantastic!! Nice thin layer of caramelised icing sugar gave a lovely sweet snap to the apples!! Highly recommend giving these a go.  Looking forward to next weeks show!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Gooey Chocolate Fudge Cake

When I joined up with twitter I favourited every nice recipe that I came across.  If I was to make everything that I liked the look of I would be baking everyday for the rest of my life and I probably still would not get through them all! One of the early recipes I came across was a chocolate fudge cake that was posted by @enormous that seemed very straightforward.  My husband, a man of simple tastes, ahem, adores chocolate fudge cake.  His favourite restaurant is Jamies in Tullamore where he always has the same meal, vegetable soup, sweet chilli chicken and chocolate fudge cake.  I spend hours in kitchen making cakes and he rarely tries them as apparently he is just not that excited by food! I guess the saying 'opposites attract' is more than true! So I thought I would try and tempt him with this recipe and see would it match up to Jamies cake!


  • 8oz butter
  • 20oz caster sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 12oz plain flour
  • 4oz cocoa
Preheat oven to 180c and line a cake tin.  I used a heart shaped novelty tin which worked a treat!
Melt butter in large saucepan, take off heat.
Stir in sugar.
Add in eggs one at a time and stir in.
Sieve in flour and cocoa powder.
Stir well to incorporate.
Pour into cake tin and place in oven for 30-45 mins.
I left mine for 30 minutes as I love the consistency of a squidgy brownie.
Once cool sieve over a little icing sugar.
Serve with ice cream and for a little extra pizzazz some chocolate dipped strawberries.

Well it was a roaring success, absolutley gorgeous.  Have been instructed to make it again for ladies night which is happening in my house tomorrow night.  Its so great that when you share gorgeous cake with your friends and family its calorie free!! (I wish!)  Darling hubby cleared his plate but whether it matched up to Jamies or not I dont know, maybe he will comment here to let us know! :-) xx

Friday, June 10, 2011

Not much baking but a lot of memories....

Since my eldest son made his Communion I cannot stop thinking about how quickly life is passing by.  I was born and raised in the north city centre is an avenue of houses similar to what you might see on Coronation Street.  Life seemed to be so simple then when we were happy out on the road skipping, playing rounders and waiting for the ice cream man to come.  My Dad was a painter and decorator by trade, he went off to work each morning with a freshly ironed shirt, trousers and polished black shoes and he came home the very same way.  His motto was that no one should know your trade from your appearance.  It was hard for people not to know what his trade was though as our house was the best kept on the street.  He would spend his two weeks annual leave painting, varnishing or wallpapering somewhere in the house, which really was a labour of love.

 I always remember certain events in the household which caused great excitement, the purchase of our first video recorder was one of the most memorable.  Blank tapes were bought galore and newspapers scanned to help decide what we would record.  I still remember the feeling of huge disappointment if the end of certain programmes were cut before we had a chance to see it!  One of the big events in my mothers life was the purchase of a new cooker, a ceramic hob, a small top oven and a big fan oven all combined to make her the envy of everyone on the avenue.  Neighbours and relations all came in to admire it!  There are probably even some family pictures of us standing in front of it instead of the obligatory ones in front of the fireplace in the 'good' sitting room!  There was a recipe book that came with it and for years every time my mother made anything this book was referred to so that she would use the correct oven and temperature!  One of the recipes from this book was for a Gingerbread loaf and it was delicious.  I asked my mother last week to look up the recipe for me as I would love to make it.  The following morning the recipe arrived in the post, cut straight out of the original book.  I was delighted to receive it but sad that my mother no longer would need the recipe to make it herself.  She is 77 now and lives alone.  She is in great health and we are so lucky to have her like that but it must be so sad for her to sit in the house that was once full of the hustle and bustle of a loving husband and four children with only memories of what once was.  I guess the reason I am writing this is because I am here in the middle of it all, raising children, making time for our marriage, friends, work and sometimes its not easy but if we manage to raise our children to feel as loved and protected as we always did I will be carrying on the great job that my parents did. I cannot ask for much more than that.  We didn't have luxury holidays or meals in fancy restaurants but what we did have was an amazing father who lived just for us and a mother who is still doing just that.

Watch out for the Gingerbread recipe because its a good one. 

PS: The oven is still going strong!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Three Day Chocolate Lime Meringue Tart!

Please don't let the three day title of this blog put you off trying to make it, in less busy houses it could easily be made much quicker!! Once I have the school run over in the morning baby Halle is ready to go back to bed for her nap which gives me time to spend some time in the kitchen with Isaac for company!  Its great to have those few hours to get house sorted and start prepping for dinner before the rush of school run, homework and work kicks in! Baking time is limited so with something like this tart its great to be able to make it in stages.  This tart is three simple steps but it looks fabulous and tastes delicious. 

Firstly make the lime curd as made here,

Secondly a chocolate shortcrust pastry tart shell is required.  I love Jamie Olivers sweet shortcrust recipe so I slightly adapted that to make a chocolate version.

Ingredients  (enough for 2 shells so freeze half)

  • 250gr butter
  • 200gr icing sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 450gr plain flour
  • 50gr cocoa powder
  • 4 egg yolks
  • a little milk
Cream together the butter, salt and icing sugar then rub in the flour, cocoa, egg yolks until mixture looks like breadcrumbs.  Add the milk to form a dough, try not to handle it too much as this can make it tough.  Roll it up in clingfilm in a sausage shape and place it in fridge.  After an hour, cut slivers of it to line a tart tin, pushing the slivers together to cover tin.  At this stage it is ready to be baked blind at 180 degrees for 15 minutes or alternatively cover tart tin in clingfilm and place in freezer to be used at a later date.

So I put my shell in the freezer covered in clingfilm until required which was this evening!  My husband who normally is a plain eating man has discovered a love of Mexican food and I thought this would be the perfect cooling dessert to finish off the meal.  I took shell out of freezer and placed baking beans in it to prevent it from shrinking.  Still amazes me that you can put cling film in an oven, I know I am sad and obviously I need to get out more!  Put it in an 180 degree oven for 20 minutes until cooked through.  Leave in tin on wire rack to cool. 

Once cooled spoon the lime curd over the pastry.  If I had not eaten so much of it yesterday the layer of curd would have been much thicker than it was but oh well! (I enjoyed every morsel of it!)
I had frozen the egg whites that were over from the pastry recipe and had defrosted them overnight in the fridge.  My rule of thumb when making meringues is a tablespoon of caster sugar per egg white and some cream of tartar to boost the volume! Whisk egg whites till stiff then gradually add in the sugar and tartar.  Spoon meringue on top of the curd and place in oven for approximately ten minutes until peaks are browned.

As you can see there is not much of it left which tells its own story!  It is DELICIOUS!  The pastry was crumbly and the sharpness of the lime curd is perfectly matched with the sweet meringue! It was well worth the three days it took me to make it! :-)

Thanks to all who are reading my posts, am amazed at the amount of people that are taking time to read it! I seem to have a lot of American readers so hi to you all.  I think a mississippi mud pie is next to be made with my extra chocolate tart shell that I have in the freezer so if you have any tips let me know!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lovely Lime Curd!

I love a bargain as you lovely readers might have realised at this stage! Two nets of limes for two euro so how could i resist??  I marinated chicken fillets for our rainy barbecue on Sunday in zest and juice of limes, lemons, coriander and a squeeze of lazy chilli and they were divine, stuck a few wedges of lime into bottles of beer and that still left me with twelve of them so I had to think of something else to do with them.  After the success of the lemon curd I thought I would try a lime curd and see how it would turn out.  I came across the recipe in my kitchen bible, "How to be a Domestic Goddess" by the fabulous Nigella. As the saying goes, "A lot done but a lot more to do" in my quest for goddess status!! So easy to make these curds and the heavenly smell in the kitchen from the zested limes is all part of the enjoyment, so sterilise the jam jars and get curding!

Ingredients (makes 350ml)

  • 75gr unsalted butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 75gr caster sugar
  • juice of 4 limes
  • zest of 1 lime
Melt the butter in a saucepan, add all the other ingredients and whisk till custard consistency over a gentle heat.  Let cool before filling jars.  Keep in fridge.

Nigella doesn't sieve before filling jars but I did as I prefer a smooth curd.  Delicious! Plan is to make a chocolate shortcrust pastry tart, filled with lime curd and topped with meringue though i may have a sneaky slice or two of fresh toast smothered in the stuff, salivating!!!  Still have both lemons and limes leftover so if anyone has any suggestions as to what i can do with them, let me know!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Scrummy Lemon Meringue Cake!

If you have read any of my previous blogs you will know that I love cookery books with Nigella being one of my all time favourites.  I am trying to go through my collection and turn down the corners of the recipes that I want to try.  I hope I live to be a ripe old age because I need all the weeks on earth I can to get through baking all these cakes!  After making the gorgeous lemon curd the other day I was so looking forward to trying the recipe for Nigellas Lemon Meringue Cake.  While not the most attractive or neat cake i have ever made, what it lacks in style it makes up in flavour! Gorgeous chewy meringue with layers of lemon sponge, lemon curd, double cream and a few Wexford strawberries thrown in for good measure.  Sure with just one slice you almost have two of your fruit servings for the day.*

*this is a slight exaggeration! :-)


  • 125gr soft butter
  • 4 eggs, separated
  • 300gr caster sugar and an extra teaspoon
  • 100gr plain flour
  • 25gr cornflour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tsp of milk
  • 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
  • 150ml of double cream
  • 150gr lemon curd
  • 1/2 punnet of strawberries

Preheat oven to 200 degrees and butter and line two sandwich tins.
Mix egg yolks, 100gr of the sugar, butter, cornflour, baking powder, bicarb and lemon zest together till combined.  Add lemon juice and milk and mix again. Spread mixture between the two prepared tins.
Whisk egg whites and cream of tartar until peaks form and slowly add in the remaining 200gr of sugar.  Spread meringue on top of the sponge mixture in the tins, smooth one flat and peak the other one with a spoon before sprinkling over a tsp of caster sugar.  Put in oven for 20-25 minutes.  Test the flat meringue topping with a skewer to make sure no crumbs stick to it from sponge.  Remove to a wire rack and cool completely in tins.
Turn the flat topped meringue onto a cake stand or plate and peel of greaseproof, spread scrummy lemon curd generously over sponge layer, top with halved strawberries and lightly whipped double cream before topping with remaining cake, meringue side up. 

This tasted fabulous and sliced really nicely! Definitely a good cake to try if you like lemon curd and have a pot of it in your fridge.  Its a nice alternative to lemon meringue pie and I guarantee there will only be crumbs left! Thanks Nigella!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Taste of Summer - Lemon Curd

I love lemon curd, not the stuff you buy in a jar in a supermarket but the tangy rich creamy consistency one that you make yourself.  Its fab in a lemon meringue pie, spread on toast or even a dollop of it on ice cream always goes down well! We are having a BBQ on Sunday and I want to make a special cake and this is one of the vital ingredients so hopefully our two day heatwave will last three days!! Unwaxed lemons were on special offer today in Tesco, two nets for three euro so I now have a good stock of them. 


  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 4 eggs
  • 185g caster sugar
  • Juice and zest of 3 lemons
  • 160g butter at room temperature
Place all ingredients except butter in a saucepan and whisk over a low heat until mixture starts to thicken.  Add in butter and stir in thoroughly with a wooden spoon.  When it is like custard take it off the heat and allow to cool for few minutes before whisking once again and sieving to remove zest.  Pour into sterilised jars and enjoy! Truly is my taste of summer!! Whats yours??