Sunday, September 30, 2012

Delicious French brioche toast!

Some days when you are writing a blog post the words just won't come. I wanted to convey what a lovely day I had in Dublin yesterday. How I savoured every morsel of my green eggs and ham in Fumbally. How much I enjoyed the fantastic atmosphere in the Dublin Co-op Food market. The delights of Murphy's valrhona chocolate & dingle sea salt ice cream and the interesting journey I had on the Luas red line but words are failing me on this lazy Sunday. I did manage to make piggy shaped pancakes for the children and some delicious brioche French toast so I will focus on that.

I picked up the most delicious loaf of brioche in the market yesterday which I would consider driving to Dublin for. After doing a fast run on the treadmill this morning my energies needed to be restored and what better way than with some French toast. I always love Sunday morning breakfasts, nice to be able to linger over a pot of coffee and the newspapers.

For two servings you will need;

Four slices of brioche bread
2 eggs, lightly whisked
1tbsp of icing sugar
1/2tsp of cinnamon
Some butter for frying

Place the butter into a large frying pan and allow to sizzle.
Dip the brioche bread into the whisked eggs until completely covered.
Place on pan and turn over once lightly browned.
Mix the icing sugar and cinnamon together and sieve over the cooked French toast.

Perfect Sunday morning breakfast to be accompanied with coffee, newspapers and your favourite people.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Chorizo & goats cheese stuffed potato skins

I would be the first person to admit that I am a bit of a glutton. I have only finished one meal and I am thinking what am I going to have for my next. I just love food. I love the planning, shopping, cooking and most of all the consuming of it. I don't like rushing at meal times and I hate wasting calories on boring sandwiches or ready meals. Almost everything we eat here is made from scratch and I love being in control of my children's diets. There are so many overweight children these days it really saddens me and without a doubt fast food & convenience meals are to be blamed. It's so easy to throw a healthy meal together in a matter of minutes so there is no excuse for not doing it. If children are not taught basic skills such as this from an early age there is not much hope for future generations.
Anyway enough of my ranting and on to today's lunch for myself and the little woman. I love baked potatoes and even better again is the delicious stuffed potato, completely delicious and filling enough to keep you going till dinner time.

For two servings you will need;

2 baking potatoes
100g chorizo
75g goats cheese
Handful of peas

Bake the potatoes in the oven for an hour or until they yield when squeezed.
Fry the chorizo in a pan, no need to add any oil as there is enough in the chorizo.
Cut the cooked potatoes in half and scoop out the flesh, add to the chorizo. Return the skins to the oven.
Add the peas and the majority of the goats cheese to the potato filling and stir well to combine.
Remove skins from oven and fill with the chorizo mixture. Top with remaining goats cheese and serve on a bed of rocket.
Simple, delicious, filling & far from boring!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Coffee & walnut bundt!

I should really call this a twice baked bundt as it had two bakes in the oven following a soggy bottom and liquid centre incident! Always hard to get the timings spot on when you are using a new cake tin for the first time. This recipe is ridiculously easy and comes from the always reliable Odlums Ireland website. One mixing bowl is all you need and it can be done by hand or in your mixer.

You will need;

175g self raising flour
175g margarine, room temperature
175g caster sugar
3 eggs
4tbsp of cooled fresh coffee
50g chopped walnuts

To ice;
100g icing sugar sieved, mixed with1-2tbsp of cooled fresh coffee until required consistency is achieved.

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Grease and flour a bundt tin, make sure to shake away excess flour.
Place all ingredients for the cake into the bowl and mix.
Pour into the tin and bang gently on counter top to even out.
Place in oven for 30 mins or until a skewer comes out clean.
Allow to cool in the tin before turning out.
Place on a serving dish before drizzling with the coffee icing.
Slice, serve and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Warm fig salad

When I spotted some lonely looking figs in the fruit & vegetable section in work last night I couldn't leave them after me. I love all types of figs but a fresh one is hard to beat. Irresistible when baked with some honey in the oven, if you haven't tasted that yet, you haven't lived.

Simple lunch for one

2 figs
Drizzle of honey
2 slices of parma ham
Handful of walnuts, crushed
50g goats cheese
Handful of rocket

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees.
Cut a cross in the top of each fig and wrap it in parma ham.
Drizzle the inside of fig with a little honey.
Place in oven for 20 minutes or until fig has softened.
Place some rocket on the plate and put the figs on top. Arrange the goats cheese and sprinkle the walnuts over the dish.
Finish with a drizzle of honey & balsamic vinegar.
Perfect for a lunch for one or as a starter for a dinner party.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rainy days & Mondays.....

The 4 year old is finding his new school regime a bit tiring. It didn't help that this morning was dark, dreary, wet and Monday! 9:20am till 2pm seems a long time to be away from his mammy, his sister and his toys. He has a packed lunch at school and when he comes home he loves a piece of fruit, a biscuit and a glass of milk. When I went through my macaron making phase he adored the pink ones and keeps asking when am I going to make them again! I haven't the heart to say "never" to him but hopefully these little rose syrup cookies will keep him happy!

This is a handy little recipe and one of the few that I have memorised in my head. It's originally from the bible according to Darina, The Ballymaloe Cookery Course. It makes 12 shortbread cookies which you can leave plain or top with whatever you fancy. Feel free to add in lemon/orange zest, chocolate chips, raisins etc.

2oz caster sugar
4oz butter, softened
6oz plain flour

Preheat oven to 160 degrees.
Line a baking tray with grease proof paper.
Cream the butter and sugar together.
Add the flour to form a dough.
Roll into 12 individual balls and flatten them down onto the baking tray.
Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until golden.

To ice today's batch I used some icing sugar made into a paste with some rose syrup. Rose syrup is a handy little syrup to have in the cupboard, great drizzled over ice cream, in cocktails, added to whipped cream or stewed fruit also.

One of the best things about Isaac going to school is his little face lighting up in the school yard when he spots me at home time. All the tea in china wouldn't make me as happy. Such a shame that these little people have to grow up so fast.

What little treats do your children enjoy after school?

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Butternut squash, sweet potato & chorizo soup!

When I was out running this morning I noticed that autumn was upon us! The heating will be soon switched on, the heavier coats taken out of the wardrobe and stews and casseroles on the dinner menu. I have always loved autumn, memories of long walks in St Anne's park kicking up hundreds of burnished fallen leaves and then home to a pot of soup springs to mind.
I love making soup and having a pot of it ready on the hob always makes me feel very virtuous, even if the reality is far from that! I find it best to just use two types of vegetables as otherwise there is no distinct flavour.
To make this lovely warming soup you will need;

1 butternut squash, no need to peel just deseed and cut into chunks
2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 onion, diced
Drizzle of rapeseed oil
500ml of chicken stock
75g chorizo, fried until crispy

Drizzle a large saucepan with the rapeseed oil and place over a medium heat.
Add the garlic & onion and gently cook until translucent.
Add the butternut, sweet potato and stock and bring to boiling point.
Allow to simmer for twenty minutes or until the vegetables are softened.
Take off the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before blending.
Pour into warmed bowls and sprinkle the chorizo on top.

Limoncello loaf

I love a nice simple lemon loaf and this morning I set out to do my usual recipe which you will find here:

However I couldn't resist the bottle of limoncello looking out at me from the cupboard. It seemed a little early to be drinking liqueur so I simply replaced the lemon juice with a tablespoon of limoncello. I used icing sugar mixed with limoncello to decorate it and a sprinkling of lemon zest. Perfect!

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Happy Birthday Mr Ryan!

Wonderful husband, wonderful dad, wonderful man. Count my blessings everyday. He has put up with a lot over the last 15 years and still manages to love me. Happy birthday Raymond!

This is Raymond's favourite thing in the world to eat! Not wildly exotic but traditional and a little bit naughty, quite similar to his wife really!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Showstopper Birthday Cake

I always measure the success of a recipe by the amount of leftovers. This cake was a huge hit as there were mere crumbs scattered over the cake stand soon after the candles were blown out and the wishes were made. I often wonder what children wish for over their birthday flames. New soccer boots, nintendo games and pretty dolls would probably be on the top of my children's lists. On top of mine would be good health, happy home and continued contentment! Will be blowing out 34 candles on my next birthday so will ensure I have a fire blanket beside me following my recent run of bad luck!

For Halle's cake yesterday I used Nigella's Devil Food Cake recipe and you will find it here;

To decorate;

3 packets of Cadburys chocolate fingers
20 meringue kisses (2 egg whites, 150g caster sugar, 1tsp cornflour, 1/2tsp white wine vinegar. Whisk egg whites till in soft peaks, add sugar a spoon at a time while whisking, add cornflour and vinegar and give a final whisk. Spoon into a piping bag with a Wilton 22 nozzle, pipe onto a baking sheet lined with parchment. Place in a preheated 150 degree oven for 1 hour or until crisp, allow to cool in oven. Store in an airtight container for up to four days. Makes more than enough but watch them disappear!)
Some pretty ribbon

Once the cake is made and you have covered it in the choclate covering, place the fingers all around the edge before securing it with a length of pretty ribbon. To make things easier, use a knife to smear a little of the icing onto the chocolate finger before sticking it to the side.
Top the cake with the meringue kisses, place on a cake stand and enjoy the compliments!

I have always loved Nigella Lawson and this recipe was so gorgeous. I have tried so many different chocolate cake recipes but this is going to be on the birthday cake list for the forseeable. So many different ways to decorate it, I would love to try it with some edible flowers next time.

I might have fibbed a little about my birthday wishes, one of my top ones would be to have a cookbook of my own! I am so thrilled to be included in the Goodalls Modern Irish Cookbook that is being launched in October, I am looking forward to seeing my recipe in print and to meeting all the other contributors. It's for a great cause with all the proceeds going to Cork Penny Dinners & Crosscare, how exciting to be involved! I have a busy month coming up when I will be cooking for Derry Clarke as part of the Tesco Fresh Factor competition, how nerve wracking and exciting at the same time! Will be keeping you all up to date with what's happening and thanks so much for all of your encouragement and kind words over the past while.

To pass on some of my good luck I have a copy of Nigella's latest offering "Nigellissima" to give away. It's only just been published and is full of wonderful Italian recipes to keep you busy in your kitchen. To enter all you need to do is leave a comment below! Best of luck!

Competition closes Sunday the 23rd September at 6pm!

The competition is now closed!
The winner is Rosaleen Fitzgerald aka clonrf! Thanks all so much for the lovely comments, much appreciated!

Monday, September 17, 2012

Sit long, talk much, laugh often & love.....

So my darling daughter is two tomorrow and much joy is in the house. The two nannies, the grandad and two uncles will be joining us to celebrate with a special birthday dinner and a very special cake.

Each birthday that comes around is a reminder to me that time is precious and as my mother once said about me I now say about my children, we only get a loan of them. I hope my husband and I together are doing a good job raising these three precious little beings and this is the advice that I hope they will follow.....

Try your best no matter what. If you always try your best you will never be disappointed in yourself.

Take good care of yourself. Life is precious. Eat well, exercise and look after your mind.

Always be happy for others good fortune and you will find more joy in your own.

Your siblings are the ones whom you will have the longest relationship with. Treasure them.

Create happy memories that will give you pleasure in years to come.

If you believe, you can do anything.

Make time for friends. When living away from home they will be your family but choose them carefully.

It is fantastic to be loved but even more pleasurable to love.

Take everything in.

Sit long, talk much, laugh often. Make it even more pleasurable by doing this around a kitchen table surrounded by people you love.

So those are my words of wisdom on the eve of my daughter's birthday. Would love to hear what you would like to pass down to your loved ones. xx

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Lime pie....

I love watching The Great British Bake Off, I think it's great television and without fail makes my mouth water! This week one of the contestants made a key lime pie and it looked absolutely beautiful. This is the poor mans version as unfortunately key limes are nowhere to be found on our emerald isle.......

For the biscuit base you will need;

16 digestive biscuits
60g caster sugar
1tsp ground ginger
180g unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
Place the biscuits, sugar ginger and melted butter into a processor and whizz until it resembles sand.
Pat down into a pie dish and also up the sides.
Place in the oven for 15 mins or until golden brown.
Place on a wire rack to cool.

For the filling;

4 egg yolks
Juice of 5 limes (reserve the zest)
397g tin of condensed milk

Beat the egg yolks until creamy.
Gradually add in the condensed milk and combine well.
Pour in the lime juice and stir in.
Pour onto the biscuit base and place back in the oven for 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack before refrigerating overnight.

For the topping;

Once again I turn to my fail proof meringue topping from Nigella!

2 egg whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until soft peaks form.
Add in the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk till glossy.
Add in the cornflour and vinegar and give it one final whisk.
Spoon into piping bag.

Once the lime pie has been chilled to perfection in your refrigerator overnight it's time to decorate! I used a Wilton icing nozzle tip number 22 to pipe little meringue kisses around the edge of the pie. Place under a preheated grill for seconds just to slightly darken, keep an eye on it as it can burn in nanoseconds!
Sprinkle the reserved lime zest around the edge to give it a perfect finishing touch.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Low & slow oxtail stew

A couple of months ago I attended a very interesting butchery demonstration in James Whelan butchers in Avoca, Monkstown. Pat Whelan is a fantastic passionate butcher with superior knowledge and fantastic respect for animals. He said something during the evening which has stuck with me and made me reconsider my approach to meat. Basically he said that these animals we eat were sacrificed for us and deserve to be shown huge respect. Don't dismiss the pieces of meat that might be tougher than the more expensive ones but just learn how to cook with them. When I spotted an oxtail in the butchers yesterday, Pat's words came back to me and I decided to buy it. After a bit of research on the internet it seemed the way to go was low and slow. One of the great advantages of low and slow is the fantastic aroma that emanates from the kitchen, the poor dog is drooling here all morning.

This recipe is quite similar to a stew that I make, very warming and perfect for heating up cold bodies and souls.

You will need;

3lb oxtail, cut into large slices
3tbsp flour
Salt & pepper
3tbsp rapeseed oil
4 carrots, in batons
2 onions, sliced
2 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
2 bay leaves
5 sprigs of thyme
300ml red wine
500ml beef stock
2tbsp tomato purée

Preheat oven to 150 degrees.
Place a large pan on a high heat and add the rapeseed oil.
Coat the oxtail in the flour which has been seasoned with salt & pepper.
Add to the frying pan and turn until all sides are browned, transfer to a casserole dish.
Add the carrots, onions and garlic to the pan with a little more oil if required.
Fry until lightly browned over a low heat.
Add the vegetables to the meat in the casserole dish.
Add the thyme, bay leaves and tomato purée to the casserole dish.
Cover with the red wine and the beef stock and stir.
Place in oven and cook for at least three hours or until the meat is coming away from the bone.

Oxtail is quite a gelatinous meat, this dish is best prepared a day in advance so that the fat can be skimmed off the top of the casserole before reheating.

Absolutely gorgeous served with creamy mash potatoes, fresh peas, root vegetables, braised cabbage or anything else that takes your fancy.

The world of a food blogger is a funny old world. Everything has to be just right with the picture before hitting publish. I have been busy with my blog for the last while so have taken on a photographic assistant to add the finishing touches whom you may spot in the pictures. Thankfully it's an intern role so I only need to provide food and board for her.......

Chocolate, caramel & meringue muffins

So Autumn is most definitely here. Cooler temperatures, leaves turning brown, temptation of turning on the heating and school starting all signals the end of summer. I use the word "summer" in very loose terms this year, the wettest one for 26 years in Ireland apparently! In our local boy's school Friday is treat day and I know there would be crestfallen faces if there wasn't a tempting morsel in the boy's lunch boxes. Today is Isaac's first long Friday in school so I thought I would make a variation of one of his favourites, the chocolate muffin!

For 12 muffins you will need;

4oz butter
4oz caster sugar
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3oz self raising flour
1oz cocoa powder
1tbsp milk

Preheat oven to 180 degrees and place muffin cases into your muffin tin.
Cream the butter and sugar together until creamy.
Add half of the beaten eggs and incorporate.
Add a tablespoon of flour if the mixture starts to curdle.
Add remaining eggs.
Sieve in the flour and cocoa powder and gently mix.
Add the milk and stir gently for a final time.
Spoon equal amounts into muffin cases, I find using an ice cream scoop very handy.

Bake in oven for 15 minutes or until fully cooked.
Leave on a wire rack to cool.

For the meringue;

I always use Nigella's meringue recipe as it has yet to fail me. Meringue is possibly one of my favourite things to both make and eat and this one is foolproof!

2 egg whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until soft peaks form.
Add in the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk till glossy.
Add in the cornflour and vinegar and give it one final whisk.
Spoon into piping bag.

To finish;

6tsp caramel (you can also use strawberry sauce, raspberries, banana or anything else that takes your fancy!)

Using a melon baller scoop a little of the chocolate muffin out of the centre and fill the hole with caramel.
Pipe on the meringue in large swirls before placing under a preheated grill.
Watch carefully as they literally take seconds to brown.
So hey presto, delicious little treats for your little darlings and you to indulge in!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A moment in time....

I was out walking with a friend of mine this week and we were chatting about my blog. I mentioned how I loved the thought of the kids discussing their favourite meals when they are adults and having all my recipes at their fingertips to recreate happy family meals. Blogging is similar to keeping a diary, I have always been a "heart on her sleeve" kind of girl and my emotions always run close to the surface. You give away a lot of yourself whilst blogging and I hope in years to come my children when reading it will see me as a great Mum and realise I always had their best interests at heart.

We went for a lovely stroll tonight after dinner in the graveyard behind our house, it's one of our favourite places to visit as it has loads of nooks and crannies to explore. I brought along the camera and took a few snaps and thought it would be nice to post them here. So kids if you are reading this in years to come I hope you remember how happy we all were together, xx.

My jerk style chicken.....

I hate throwing out food, especially food that I have lovingly prepared in the kitchen in anticipation of a lovely meal around the table. It's hard to please everyone and more often than not it's chicken that features on the menu as I know it will be eaten. It's nice to liven it up with a marinade or a rub and this one proved very popular chez Ryan yesterday! You can leave it overnight for the flavours to develop further but anything from 30 minutes upwards will do the trick. Don't be put off by the list of ingredients as I bet you will have most of them lurking in your kitchen press......

For a large chicken or 4 large chicken breasts you will need;

1 red chilli
1 shallot
1tsp cinnamon
1tsp ground cloves
1tsp all spice
1tsp ground ginger
1 lemon, juice only
2 cloves of garlic, peeled
2tbsp honey
3tbsp rapeseed oil

Whizz all the ingredients together to form a smooth marinade.
Massage into the uncooked chicken before placing in a preheated oven.
Cook the chicken for at least an hour obviously depending on its weight.
Transfer to a serving dish and tear over some fresh coriander leaves.
Serve, share, enjoy!

I came across a frightening statistic today that 90% of the chicken in Irish restaurants is not sourced from Ireland or even the EU! I for one never ask where the poultry is sourced from when in a restaurant but next time I will. Nothing is going to change if consumers remain nonchalant about these issues. Ask your butcher as well where is their meat sourced, you may get a surprise!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Apple, frangipane & cinnamon tarts

Frangipane is such an easy thing to make and so versatile to use. It's great in a tart, stuffed into fruit or even heated and poured over ice cold ice cream. Frangipane will keep in your fridge for a couple of days or in your freezer for up to a month. I had some left over from the last time that I made my delicious plum tart and you will find the recipe for it here....

To make these little tarts you will need;

A packet of filo pastry, defrosted
1 eating apple
1tbsp melted butter
1 cup of frangipane
Sprinkling of cinnamon

Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Allow some filo pastry sheets to defrost overnight in the fridge.
Lay them out and cut the entire layer into sixteen squares. Place the squares into a mini muffin tin and press down.
Chop up an eating apple and add it to the frangipane. Place a spoonful into each little filo case.
Brush the melted butter over the pieces of exposed pastry.
Place in oven for 10 minutes or until the frangipane has puffed up and the filo is golden.
Allow to cool on a wire rack before sprinkling with cinnamon.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Quick pasta dinner....

I have had an eventful couple of days to say the least. Slashing my hand, trying to set my sitting room on fire and culminating last night by filling my husband's diesel car up with unleaded fuel! Today was a bit of a blur as we only had one car and I had to drop my husband to Mullingar for work, I had a work meeting to attend, two school pick ups and back to Mullingar to pick up Raymond! I needed a quick and easy dinner to throw together to keep the children going and to ensure plenty of fuel for under 11's soccer training. Pasta is my go to dinner on busy days as it is super quick and dinner can be on the kitchen table in a few minutes.

Pasta sauce

2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped
400g can of chopped tomatoes
500g passata
1tsp sugar
Handful of fresh basil
2tbsp rapeseed oil

Heat the rapeseed oil in a large pan.
Add the garlic and onions and cook until softenened.
Add the tomatoes, passata and sugar and allow to simmer for fifteen minutes.
Add the basil and simmer for a further five minutes.
Set aside to cool slightly before blending.

This sauce is a brilliant sauce as it is easy to change the flavours, here are a few of my favourites;

Add a 1/2 teaspoon of chilli flakes to make a spicy sauce.

Roast some peppers until the skins are blistery and charred before adding to the pot.

Roast garlic in the oven until soft inside and squeeze into the pot of sauce.

Add fried chorizo after blending, in fact add chorizo to anything and I will gobble it up!

Today time was against me so I just blended the sauce and added it to some cooked pasta, topped with some extra basil and a grinding of black pepper and served alongside some homemade garlic bread. It made for a comforting meal which was badly needed!

It's very handy to make a double quantity and have some sauce in the fridge or freezer. Great to top some pizza with, add to lasagne or use as a base for tomato soup. Autumn days are truly here!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

A new adventure.....

Yesterday marked the start of my adventures with my new Canon 550d. I attended a photography course ran by Tim Durham, a fantastic photographer based here in the midlands. We were sent out and about to capture a few images of Mullingar. Be kind, have just started by dipping my big toe into a huge ocean.....

Passion fruit curd, lime, meringue & raspberry tart

So there I was with two jars of passion fruit curd in the fridge, both of them literally screaming into my gluttonous belly "eat me, eat me"! I had to do something with them to prevent me tucking in with a spoon so I decided to make a few little tarts. People are always a little bit nervous when it comes to pastry but honestly the key is to handle it as little as possible and to make sure everything is chilled. These ingredients make enough for four mini tart cases but feel free to double the quantities as this pastry will happily sit in your freezer and await it's baking adventure turn.

For the pastry cases;

125g plain flour
60g butter
50g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1 egg yolk
1tbsp milk

Cream the butter, icing sugar and salt together.
Rub in the flour and egg yolk until it looks like breadcrumbs. I always use a fork at this stage.
Add in the milk gradually to form a dough.
Place dough onto a piece of clingfilm and roll into a sausage shape. Allow it to rest in the fridge for at least a hour.

For the meringue;

I always use Nigella's meringue recipe as it has yet to fail me. Meringue is possibly one of my favourite things to both make and eat and this one is foolproof!

2 egg whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
1/2 tsp white wine vinegar

Whisk the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl until soft peaks form.
Add in the sugar a spoonful at a time and whisk till glossy.
Add in the cornflour and vinegar and give it one final whisk.
Spoon into piping bag.

Remove pastry from the fridge and cut into thin slivers. Place these into the tart cases and press down gently to join the edges, similar to a jigsaw puzzle. So much easier to do this than to roll it out. Bake blind in a 180 degree preheated oven for fifteen minutes or until golden at the edges.
Allow to cool.

Once the cases are cooled fill them up with passion fruit curd, use as little or as much as you like.
Pipe little noisettes of the meringue mixture onto half of the tart and place under grill until lightly browned. Keep a close eye as they can burn very quickly.
Take some fresh raspberries and add to one of the tart quarters and with the remaining section add some grated lime zest.
So there you have it, a very impressive looking tart that is super simple to achieve. The tang of the passion fruit curd, the sweetness of the meringue, the sharpness of the raspberries and the citrus flavour of the lime combine to make this a great taste sensation. I need to cook a dessert for Chef Derry Clarke in my upcoming Tesco Fresh Factor competition, do you think he would be impressed by this?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Passion Fruit Curd

I spotted some passion fruits last weekend on special offer and as per usual I couldn't resist a bargain. They are the kind of fruit that I am never sure what to do with, I have used them previously in smoothies and on top of pavlovas but I wanted to try something different this time. I love curd. I love it in tarts, on ice cream, on toast, in fact throw it on anything and I will eat it, so what better way to use up four neglected looking passion fruits in the bowl.

You will need;

125g butter
1/4 cup of caster sugar
2 tbsp of fresh lemon juice
4 passion fruit, entire contents
5 medium eggs

Melt the butter and sugar in a bowl that has been placed over some simmering water.
Lightly mix the eggs, lemon juice and the passion fruit and add to melted mixture.
Stir continuously over a low heat until mixture coats the back of a wooden spoon. This should take around fifteen minutes.
Set aside to cool before placing in sterilised jars.
So there you have it, sunshine on a day when the sun isn't necessarily shining!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

One enchanted evening......#paulaskitchensupper

I was really looking forward to writing this blogpost about my supper party. I envisioned lovely pictures of my gorgeously laid table, happy diners and plates of delicious food. However it didn't quite turn out like that.........

Picture the scene. Paula running around the kitchen. Pork slowing roasting in the oven. Six hungry children. Figs awaiting a drizzle of local honey & walnuts. Twelve guests arriving imminently. Wine cooling in ice buckets. Candles lit. Peas to be puréed. Rubbish placed in bin. Palm cut with can. Blood. Mild panic. More panic. Major panic. Deep gash. Accident & emergency. Triage. Stitches. Tetanus. Drama. Should have been a disaster but not so!

I arrived home to find my supper club running very smoothly. Course one prepared and served up by my great pals and sister. Course two was at the cusp of being ready, just required a few instructions by me to get it right! I jest of course everything was well under control. Huge thanks to @tracyobr for fantastic mashing & purée skills, @fishahoy1 for exquisite fresh scallops, home smoked salmon and amazing help in the kitchen, @helenamoloney for top class pork pulling and @geoffboyle for taking charge of the vegetarian courses, that beetroot tarte tatin was fun to make!

Plenty of cocktails, laughs, good food and fantastic company made for a great night. I want to share with you the recipe for the slow roast pork shoulder as everyone raved about it. A pork shoulder is a really cheap cut of meat that with some tender loving care transforms into mouthwatering tender pork. I used Jamie Oliver's jerk pork recipe which added fantastic flavour! Smoky, zingy, fresh, citrusy and spicy all at once! I amended the recipe slightly but the original is to be found in Jamie's Great Britain.

You will need;

A pork shoulder with the bone in
Sea salt & black pepper
Pinch of rosemary and thyme
1 whole nutmeg
Rapeseed oil
3 tbsp apple cider vinegar

Preheat your oven as high as it will go.
Score the skin of the pork.
Rub in the salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme and grate over the nutmeg. Add a good drizzle of olive oil and massage into the cracks and all over the pork.
Place the pork into a large roasting tin, skin side up and pour the apple cider vinegar and enough water to cover the bottom of the roasting tin.
Put into the hot oven for thirty minutes then turn the heat down to 130 degrees.

I roasted the joint for ten hours covering with a double layer of foil half way through the cooking time.
Pull the crackling off, get rid of any fatty bits underneath and use two forks to pull the pork apart.

For the jerk salsa you will need;

2 red chillies
1 bunch of spring onions
1/2 tsp of cinnamon
1/2 tsp of ground cloves
1/2 tsp of all spice
Juice of three limes
Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
2 cloves of garlic
1-2 tbsp of honey
Rapeseed oil
Large bunch of coriander

Whizz all of the above ingredients until you have a salsa consistency.
Pour over the pulled pork and toss through.

I served this on a bed of creamy mashed root vegetables with some wilted spinach. Wish I had some pictures to share with you but unfortunately I don't, you will have to trust me when I say it was really good!

So the last of the visitors have just gone and so brings to the end a great weekend minus the "can incident"! Thanks to all for great fun, much merriment and plenty of jokes at my expense! There will have to be a repeat performance, going to treat last night as a bad rehearsal!

Thanks for taking the time to read!