Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Dáithí Ó Sé's Chocolate Biscuit Cake


Dáithí Ó Sé was the chef on RTE's The Restaurant last week and for dessert he made this chocolate biscuit cake. It is his mother's recipe and is quite luscious. Dáithí Ó Sé, age 34, has become increasingly popular in the Irish media and it turns out that he isn't half bad in the kitchen either!

Chocolate biscuit cake is something I always made with my mother as a child. I have my mothers recipe and my own recipe, which is based on my mother's recipe. I wanted to try out Dáithís' version, as he used condensed milk to sweeten the cake as opposed to my mothers caster sugar and my golden syrup. I love the addition of the condensed milk and I think that I will be making my own biscuit cake recipe with condensed milk from now on. 

I must say that it is a very easy recipe to make, it turned out perfect and tasted delicious. Since I was making this for the children I left out the almonds and the Baileys. I also found the mixture to be fairly wet so I added an additional 200g of biscuits; chocolate chip cookies & a few bourbons.




Chocolate Biscuit Cake


Ingredients
300g digestive biscuits.
100g flaked almonds, toasted
100g unsalted butter, melted
300g dark chocolate (60% cocoa solids)
1 tin condensed milk
30ml Baileys 


Method
1. Roughly crush the digestive biscuits in a bowl. Stir in the flaked almonds and the melted butter.
2. Melt the chocolate in a large bowl over a saucepan of simmering water, then stir in the condensed milk. Pour this chocolate mixture over the biscuits along with the Baileys and stir well to combine all the ingredients.
3. Line a 2lb loaf tin with Clingfilm (or baking parchment) and spoon the mixture into it. Place the tin in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
4. To make it extra special drizzle with some melted chocolate of choice.



Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Meringue Roulade with Summer Berries



I have always loved meringues, not only for their taste but also for the simplicity in making them. Ensure your mixture is completely stiff before transferring to your baking tray.
In my summer camp, last year, each student made this and to use up the egg yolks they then made a very simple but delicious quiche. Egg whites can last a few days in the fridge, or even freeze them, but egg yolks must be used on the day they are cracked.
This is a simple recipe to prepare but it turns out to be a very impressive dessert.

Meringue Roulade with Summer Berries

Ingredients
4 egg whites
225g (8oz) caster sugar
For the filling:
100–150ml (3 ½ –5fl oz) cream, lightly whipped
250–300g (9 – 11oz) fresh summer berries
To decorate
Icing sugar, for dusting
Fresh strawberries
Fresh mint leaves (optional)

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/350ºF/gas mark 4.
2. Line the Swiss roll tin (23 x 33cm (9 x 13in) Swiss roll tin) with foil, folding the sides up to make a frame of 4cm (1 ½ in) high and squeezing the corners together. Brush lightly with vegetable oil.
3. Place the egg whites in the spotlessly clean bowl (stainless steel is best) of an electric food mixer (or use a hand-held electric beater) and whisk until soft peaks form.
4. Add the sugar all in one go (but if using a hand-held beater add the sugar in stages) and whisk at full speed for about 4–5 minutes until stiff peaks form.
5. Smooth the meringue into the prepared tin with a palette knife and bake in the oven for 15–20 minutes, until faintly browned and firm to the touch.
6. Allow the meringue to cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a sheet of foil (slightly bigger than the roulade) –deftly turn it upside down onto the sheet gently removing the foil on the base. Allow to cool completely.
7. For the filling, lightly whip the cream.
8. Spread the cream evenly over the meringue, leaving the long edge nearest to you free for about 4cm (1 ½ in). Cover the cream with the fruit.
9. Holding the foil closest to you, roll up the roulade away from you. Really you are just folding it over.Leave it in the foil until you are ready to serve (it will hold neatly here for a couple of hours in the fridge).
10. When ready to serve, unwrap the roulade and gently push it onto a serving dish using a palette knife or cake slice, open side down. Dust with icing sugar and decorate with a few more strawberries and mint leaves, if you wish.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Taste Of Dublin Festival

Tickets are currently on sale for this year's Taste of Dublin festival which takes place in Iveagh Gardens from the 10th to the 13th June. To avail of an 'early bird' special offer enter the code "Taste30" when booking online (www.tastefestivals.ie) to get 2 standard tickets for €30 (normally €50) - offer expires May 2nd 2010. This is most certainally a fantastic event, not only for foodies but for families also. There are plenty of free tasters to be sampled and live music to enjoy.


Ballymaloe cookery School demonstration area. This is where you can have the opportunity to cook a meal with Darina or Rachel Allen and then sit down with them to enjoy it.
Jack and I with Neven Maguire.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beer Can Chicken


This is a really interesting way of cooking chicken. This is an adapted Jamie Oliver recipe but I'm unsure as to whether it is his own recipe or one developed by some guys looking for a different way to cook chicken on the barbeque. This also cooks perfectly in the oven. The end result is a deliciously moist chicken. The beer not only adds moisture but also the yeast and malt reacts with the chicken, particularly the skin, making it crispy but still moist. I used a combination of spices that I like but you can use whatever you have available or a ready made spice, such as a cajun mix. I served the chicken with homemade potato wedges, coleslaw and a green salad. Yummy.
The chicken ready for the oven.

Beer Can Chicken

Ingredients
1 Chicken
1 Can of Beer
1 tsp Mild Chilli Powder
1 tsp Fennel Seeds
1 tsp Coriander seeds
1 tsp Paprika
1 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Brown Sugar
3 tbs of Olive Oil

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180ºC/ 350ºF/ gas mark 4.
2. Add all the spices into a pestle and mortar. Grind them all together. Add in the oil and mix into a paste.
3. Open the can of beer and pour half into a glass. Now take a tin opener and remove the top. Be careful. Or else just remove the ring pull.
4. Take your chicken and rub the spice mix all over it both inside and out.
5. Place the beer can in a baking tray and sit your chicken on top.
6. Place it in a preheated oven and cook until golden. I cooked it for 90 mins.
7. Carefully take the chicken out of the oven, place on a plate, cover with tin foil and let it sit for at least an oven to allow all those lovely flavours infuse.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Pizza Naan



If you are in need of some fast food this is a real treat without the guilt. I generally use whatever is in the fridge as a topping and then sprinkle with my cheese of choice. If using any meat ensure it is cooked, as the naan is only in the oven for 10mins, which may not be enough time to thoroughly cook the meat. I love to let the kids help with meals and this dish is excellent for getting children involved as it is just a matter of assembling the ingredients. Jack was on tea duty today and this pizza naan is what he made for us and it was delicious.

Pizza Naan

Ingredients
1 naan bread
2 tbsp Real Irish Food Co. Tomato and Basil sauce (or any pasta sauce)
Grated cheese
Slice of ham
Tomato, sliced
Onion, finely chopped
Mushroom, sliced

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
2. Spread the sauce over one side of the naan.
3. Cover with toppings of your choice.
4. Bake in the oven for 10 mins until the cheese is golden and bubbling.
5. Serve with potato wedges and salad.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Tropical Super Smoothie




The boys and I love smoothies. We have tried out many different combinations of fruit and yogurts and this is our favourite one.

Tropical Super Smoothie

Ingredients
1 Banana
1 Small Mango
1 Frozen Yoplait Melon and Orange Yogurt (125g)
1 Teaspoon Honey
500ml Orange Juice (freshly squeezed if possible)

Method
1. Peel and chop the banana and mango. Put into the blender and add the yogurt honey and the Orange Juice.
2. Whiz in the blender until the mixture is smooth, thick and smooth. Taste a little, add some more honey if it isn’t sweet enough or a squeeze of lemon if too sweet.
3. Enjoy Straight Away



















Sunday, April 11, 2010

Polka Dot Cookies



I find these cookies really hard to resist. Another easy to make recipe from Rachel Allen. My boys really love to help make these cookies. However the end product, of the baked cookies, are always a lot less when they make these with me, as they tend to taste quite a bit while mixing!!
This recipe makes a large batch of cookies so if prefered you could save some of the dough in the fridge for up to one week. The best way to do this is to place the leftover dough onto a sheet of cling film and roll into a log. The dough can then be easily sliced and popped onto a baking tray.


Polka Dot Cookies


Ingredients
225g (8oz) Butter
375g (15oz) Soft Brown Sugar (or light muscovado sugar)
2 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Eggs, beaten
350g (14oz) Plain flour
1 Level tsp Baking Powder
1 Level tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
150g (5oz) Smarties


Method
1. Preheat oven to180° C/350°F/gas mark 4
2. Cream butter and sugar together.
3. Add in the vanilla and gradually add the eggs.
4. Put the flour in another bowl. Sift in the bicarb and baking powders and mix well.
5. Add the dry ingredients into the wet. Add the smarties last.
6. Roll into little balls (walnut size if you want small ones or golf ball size if you want larger ones.
7. Bake for 12 – 16 mins. If you want chewy cookies, bake until the edges are turning brown but the middle is still pale. If you want crunchy all the way through then bake until golden all over.
8. Cool on a wire rack.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cullohill Apple Pie / Rhubarb Pie


This is another recipe I tried out in Ballymaloe and loved. I'm not terribly good at making pastry and always find it difficult to make a tart without a lot of patchwork! This pastry is fantastic for anyone who wouldn't normally bother as it is made using the creaming method as opposed to rubbing in the butter. Again I would recommend using butter as its taste is far superior in the pastry.


My kitchen assistants!!
Cullohill Apple Pie / Rhubarb Pie

Ingredients
Pastry
8 ozs (225g/2 sticks) butter
2 ozs (55g/1/3 cup) castor sugar
2 eggs, preferably free range
12 ozs (340g/2½ cups) white flour, preferably unbleached
Filling
1½ lbs (675g) Bramley Seedling cooking apples
5 ozs (140g/2/3 cup) sugar
2-3 cloves
egg wash-made with one beaten egg and a dash of milk
Caster sugar for sprinkling

Tin, 7 inches (18cm) x 12 inches (30.5cm) x 1 inch (2.5cm) deep

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/gas mark 4.
2. First make the pastry. Cream the butter and sugar together by hand or in a food mixer (no need to over cream). Add the eggs and beat for several minutes. Reduce speed and mix in the flour. Turn out onto a piece of floured greaseproof paper, flatten into a round wrap and chill. This pastry needs to be chilled for at least 2 hours otherwise it is difficult to handle.
3. To make the tart, roll out the pastry 1/8 inch (3mm) thick approx., and use about 2/3 of it to line a suitable tin. Peel, quarter and dice the apples into the tart, sprinkle with sugar and add the cloves. Cover with a lid of pastry, seal edges, decorate with pastry leaves, egg wash and bake in the preheated oven until the apples are tender, approx. 45 minutes to 1 hour. When cooked cut into squares, sprinkle lightly with castor sugar and serve with softly whipped cream and barbados sugar.

   Rhubarb Pie

Make in exactly the same way but use approx. 900g (2lbs) sliced red rhubarb (about 1/2 inch thick) and approx. 370g (13oz) sugar. Also combine the rhubard with 1 tbsp cornflour, to soak up some of the juices. If you have some strawberries add a few as they are delicious in this tart with the rhubarb.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Bernie's Basic Bun Mixture



My mother Bernie always had a batch of buns at the ready for any callers and rarely did anyone leave her kitchen without a cup of tea to accompany one. In my own kitchen I almost always have a few buns in the press. I made these buns with each group of students I taught in the cookery school and they always turn out perfectly. Buns are completely fool proof to make. I love to decorate the buns with different toppings (which I will post at a later date).

This basic bun recipe is credited to Mam with the use of Flora Light instead of margarine or butter. My mother, like many in my family, suffered from high cholesterol. Similar to myself she preferred real butter on her bread and potatoes. Hence the Flora Light, that was bought out of the best of intentions, was inevidently left sitting unused in the fridge. However she did put it to good use and began to bake with it. These buns always turned out so delicious and light that this became a recipe which was used over and over. Myself and my sister Fiona always use Mam's recipe for buns. Also one of these plain buns contains less than 100 calories which make them a good choice as an alternative to biscuits.




Ingredients (makes 24)
225g (8oz) Flora light
225g (8oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 free range eggs
280g (10oz) self-raising flour (sieved)
30mls milk

Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C(fan)/390f/200C/gas mark 6.
2. Place the flora, sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and cream together until it is a pale yellow colour.
3. Add the eggs, one at a time with a little flour- to prevent the mixture from curdling. Mix well.
4. Add the flour little by little then mix well. Stir in the milk. If it drops off easily in a dollop then it is ready.
5. Take a spoonful of mixture, with a dessert spoon and scrape into the bun case using a teaspoon. Don’t fill the case to the top.
6. Bake in the oven for 20 mins or until golden brown in colour. Cool on a wire tray.


Beef Stew with Red Wine and Cranberry



In 2007 I won a recipe competition with Super Valu as part of their real food programme. It was this beef stew that I entered and I still make this dish. It is similar to a bourguignon with some added sweetness from the cranberry sauce. The addition of the fresh cranberries is optional and if making this around Christmas it is very apt to add the cranberries.

I would recommend Knorr Stock Pot for the beef stock. I often make chicken stock, with leftover carcasses, however I have to say that I wouldn't really make beef stock. I find any of the Knorr Stock Pots produce a full flavoured stock but like all stock cubes they are very high in salt and should be used sparingly.
I love the smell of this stew as it simmers for a couple of hours. Like all stews the flavour develops better when left refrigerated over night.

Beef Stew with Red Wine and Cranberry

Ingredients
50g flour
sea salt and black pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
900g (2lbs) sirloin steak, cubed
3 onions, sliced into rings
270ml (1/2 pint) red wine
270ml (1/2 pint) beef stock
3 tbsp cranberry sauce
handful of fresh cranberries (optional)

Method
1. Combine the flour with the salt and pepper.
2. Toss the steak in the seasoned flour.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the beef. Fry until brown and remove to a plate.
4. Add a little more oil and fry the onions.
5. Return the beef to the pan and then add the wine and stock.
6. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours.
7. Stir in the cranberry sauce and cranberries. Simmer for another 10 mins.
8. Serve piping hot with creamy mash and green beans.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Welcome Baby Millie!!!



I'm delighted to introduce Baby Millie. She arrived safely on Thursday the 25th of March. She is adorable and fits in perfectly with the boys, they are all smitten with her.
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