Friday, January 27, 2012

High Tea with Low Low

Recently I was asked by the people at Low Low to host a meal for my family or friends similar to that of a Come Dine With Me experience. As part of the challenge I had to incorporate some of the Low Low products within my  recipes that I was making. Already being familiar with their range of spreads and cheeses I actually found myself spoilt for choice with what I would make.


Some of you may know, as I have mentioned it in the past, that I love any excuse to hold an Afternoon Tea Party. I have some beautiful sets of cups and saucers, from my many auction expeditions and they never look better than when on a fully set table alongside some cakes and scones. My guests for this Afternoon Tea were my Dad, Diarmuid's Parents - Joe & Liz and naturally the children joined in the fun.



Low Fat Sugary Scones
I make scones quite regularly and normally stick to my Scrumptious Sweet Scone recipe or my Wholemeal Scone recipe. In a bid to make a lower fat version I came up with this recipe. I've omitted the eggs, substituted whole milk with buttermilk and replaced the butter with Low Low Gold. These are a super low fat scone that actually taste really good.

Ingredients:

450g/1lb Plain Flour 
1 teasp baking powder
Pinch of salt
50g/2oz caster sugar
100g/4oz Low Low Gold
3000mls buttermilk
For Glaze:
Egg wash - some beaten egg with a little milk
2 tbsp brown sugar-on a small plate { don't put on scones if filling with a savoury filler}

Method:
1. Preheat the oven to 220°C/ fan 
200°C/Gas mark 7
2. Sieve all the dry ingredients together into a large mixing bowl and mix well with a wooden spoon.
3. Add the Low Low and toss in the flour mixture. Rub in the Low Low until it resembles breadcrumbs.
4. Make a well in the centre of the mixture and add the buttermilk to the dry ingredients.
5. Mix together with a wooden spoon, then use your hands to make a soft dough.
6. Turn dough out onto a floured board. Wash and dry hands. Knead lightly- not too much as the scones would become tough. Roll out the dough and cut out using a circular cutter.
7. Brush the tops with the egg wash and sprinkle over the brown sugar.
8. Bake in the oven for 10-12mins until golden brown. Remove and cool on a wire tray.






As a real cheese addict I have many different varieties of cheese in the fridge and often have the red cheddar from Low Low especially when I'm trying to save a few calories! As opposed to regular cheddar it has 1/3 less fat and it still tastes good especially in sandwiches. For the afternoon tea I made some Egg, Cheese & Chive sandwiches. I cut them into fingers, cut off the crust and dipped each end in poppy seeds to give them a true 'Afternoon Tea' feel.


I also made some buns using my normal bun mixture but replaced the Flora Light with Low Low Original. The result was perfect and they were very tasty, fluffy little cupcakes. If you normally use butter for your buns I would really urge you to give these a try. Low Low Original actually has 81 % less saturated fat than butter which makes one of these cupcakes the perfect low fat treat.


Blueberry Yogurt Cake

I was overjoyed  with how this cake turned out. It's almost muffin like and so deliciously moist. I love the blueberries in the cake but strawberries or raspberries work equally well here. I used a ring bundt tin but you could also use a 26 cm/10 ¼ in round tin.

Ingredients
225g (8oz) Low Low Original or Flora Buttery or Butter
225g (8oz) caster sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 free range eggs
280g (10oz) self-raising flour (sieved)
150g (5oz) greek yogurt
100g Blueberries (fresh or frozen will do)

For Icing
100g (4 oz) cream cheese
50g (2 oz) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
300g (10 oz) icing sugar (sieved)
125g fresh blueberries
Icing sugar-to dust



Method
1. Pre-heat the oven to 180°C(fan)/200c/gas mark 6.
2. Prepare the baking tin by greasing well with some spread or butter.
3. Place the Low Low Original, caster sugar and vanilla extract into a bowl and cream together until it is a pale yellow colour.
4. Add the eggs, one at a time with a little flour- to prevent the mixture from curdling. Mix well.
5. Add the remaining flour then combine well. Fold in the yogurt and blueberries.
6. Spoon the mixture into the prepared tin.
7. Bake in the oven for 35 mins or until golden brown in colour. Cool on a wire tray.
8. Put the cream cheese, butter and icing sugar into a bowl and beat together until smooth and creamy. Stir in the vanilla extract. Put the icing in the fridge for 15 minutes to harden slightly. When the cake has completely cooled spread the icing over the cake and smooth using a palette knife.
9. Decorate the top of the cake with some fresh blueberries and dust with some sieved icing sugar.





 Joe and Liz thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and not surprising, for the lovely couple that they are, they scored a very kind 10. My father certainly isn't one to hold back on his criticism, all constructive of course, so he scored an 8 for the cake as according to him it was a bit too sweet. However he did score an overall 9 as he thought that the afternoon on a whole was really rather nice. The boys and Millie tried everything and deliberated long and hard over what score to give and declared that the afternoon warranted a big 10. They certainly know which side their bread is buttered. :) A lovely afternoon was had by all and I now have a few new recipes that I will most definitely be making again.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cold Recovery Remedy

One of my boys remarked to me yesterday "Mammy didn't we get away lightly with the cold this winter". Someone has obviously been listening well to Granddad but of course it is true.  Spring is only around the corner but for the past few weeks little flowers have been emerging from the ground and buds have started to show on trees and plants. Such growth is unusually so early in the year but isn't it so lovely when some colour is reintroduced into the countryside.

Even though the weather is mild there are still many complaining of a cold or if terribly unlucky a flu. Quite often these symptoms don't warrant any doctors intervention but non the less that miserable feeling of a blocked nose, stuffy head and aching bones will often require some home remedies to aid a speedy recovery. When I was young if I ever complained of a sniffle my mother would juice lemons and oranges, add water and simmer with the citrus peels for a couple of minutes. This drink was always fairly bitter so a spoonful of sugar or a squeeze of honey would sort that out. My remedy is based on this drink and even though it won't get rid of your cold it will help to improve some of the symptoms. I have blogged about my home remedy before but many have told me that they have found it useful, so I thought I would share it again with a slightly updated recipe.


Lemons are among a group of super foods and are one of the best foods for boosting the immune system and balancing the body's acid and alkali pH. Like oranges they are high in Vitamin C, which is a powerful anti-oxidant that helps to fight off infections and helps the body to repair cells at times of sickness. It has also been well documented that honey and ginger help the immune system and are recommended for times when you are feeling a little run down. I have plenty of mint growing in the garden and some has actually survived the cold weather so I tend to use it for herbal teas. A few sprigs make a wonderful addition to this drink as mint has the ability to sooth the digestive tract and subsequently ease tummy aches. When you are sick it is always important to keep hydrated so this drink makes the perfect tonic!


Cold Home Remedy

Ingredients
Juice of 1 orange
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp honey
1inch knob Ginger, peeled and chopped
4 mint leaves (optional)

Method
1. Juice the orange and lemon into a pint glass.
2. Add the ginger, honey and mint. Top up with boiling water.
3. Allow to sit for a 10 minutes then pass through a sieve for a smooth drink.
4. Taste and add more honey, if required.

I love sourcing different bits & pieces as props for my photos. This Nurses Medical Dictionary is very special to me as it was my mothers. Whenever there was some new ailment in the house she would refer to this little book. My Dad kindly gave me the lone of it for this photo.


Monday, January 23, 2012

Wine Tasting Masterclass with Jamie Marfell



Thinking of doing something a little different in the coming week? Well there is an event taking place in Dublin on Tuesday 31st January that I thought may be of interest to some of you wine lovers. It promises to be a very interesting evening where you get the opportunity to learn about wines from two of the biggest names in the business. While you are tasting your wines you will also be treated to delicious canapés. I'm sorry to say that I won't be able to attend the evening but if you would like to get your hands on some free tickets have a read of this press release. 

Join Branoctt Estate Winemaker Jamie Marfell For A Free Wine Tasting Masterclass

Brancott Estate Winemaker, Jamie Marfell will host a Free wine tasting masterclass in the relaxed surroundings of Odessa Club, Dublin on Tuesday 31st January. Jamie is visiting Ireland to attend this year’s New Zealand Wine Fair on behalf of the prestigious wine brand, considered the benchmark of New Zealand varietal Sauvignon Blanc.

Jamie is an expert on Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wine and is passionate about the brand, continually looking to hone and develop new Sauvignon Blanc styles. Jamie will offer 30 guests his expert tips on wine as well as a unique insight into wine making in the Marlborough region having grown up on a farm overlooking the BrancottValley and working for the brand for over 20 years.


On the evening Jamie will be joined by Irish wine expert Jean Smullen who will help him to guide the audience through the wine tasting process. Guests will be treated to a selection of delicious canapés and will have the opportunity to try five wines from the Brancott range; three from the classic range (Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc, Brancott Estate Pinot Grigio and Brancott Estate Pinot Noir), one wine from the Letter Series Range, Letter Series B and one of the newest varietals to the range, the sparkling Brancott Estate Sauvignon Blanc Brut NV.

 

The Brancott Estate wine tasting masterclass hosted by Brancott Estate winemaker Jamie Marfell and Irish wine expert Jean Smullen takes place in Odessa Club on Tuesday 31st January at 7.00pm. Tickets are free and guests can register for spaces by emailing Brancottestateireland@gmail.com with their name, date of birth, contact details and address or they can find out more information through the Brancott Estate Facebook fan pagehttp://www.facebook.com/brancottestateireland .Tickets are allocated on a lottery basis and guests will be notified of attendance by Friday 27th January.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Blog Update

We are currently updating the blog. For the next 24hrs you may have some difficulty opening the blog posts, but they can be found doing a google search. Here is the link to the recipe index which may be helpful - http://www.nessasfamilykitchen.blogspot.com/p/recipe-index.html.
Here are the links to the other pages on the blog- Culture Day
                                                                                Baby Food Recipes
                                                                                Cookery Demo
                                                                                Kids Party Planner
                                                                                Halloween
Sorry for the inconvenience and hopefully the site will be back to normal tomorrow.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Nutella Cupcakes

I love early mornings, there is a day ahead that can hold so many possibilities. Tiarnán & Fionn share a bedroom, which is right beside my room. Mornings usually start with one wakening the other and a little chit-chat ensues about plans for their day ahead. It's always a lovely start to the day earwigging on their whisperings. The innocent banter and the elaborate scenarios they conjure up, while still tucked up tightly under their duvets, always makes me smile.  
Fionn age 4 & Tiarnán age 6 with Lulu the dog.
Sometimes their plans aren't too unrealistic and yesterday morning their thoughts were focused on baking, with the main ingredient of choice being chocolate. After breakfast they flicked through some cookbooks, for inspiration, before deciding on making some buns. They both love the occasional slice of bread with Nutella so what better to incorporate into their icing than a few spoonfuls of this sweet chocolate spread. They were delighted with how they turned out and straight after lunch they enjoyed one with a big mug of hot chocolate. However it wasn't long before they had their wellies back on and a pirate adventure was under-way in the back garden. They are busy bees that are so full of energy and always on the go. Watching their fun and games make me very grateful to have such healthy young men.



Nutella Cupcakes 

Ingredients

100g softened butter

50g cream cheese {Philadelphia}
300g icing sugar, sieved
100g Nutella
1 tbsp cocoa powder, sieved

To decorate
Sweets/chocolate of choice or
Roasted hazelnuts, chopped 

Method
1. Place the softened butter and cream cheese in a large bowl and blend well.
2. Slowly add the icing sugar and continue to blend. Add the nutella and cocoa powder, blend until nice and fluffy.
3. Put in the fridge for 15mins.

4Put a large spoonful of icing on top of each bun and spread evenly.
5. Top with some sweets or chopped roasted hazelnuts.

Jack is always a great help in the kitchen.
On tasting the icing it was declared not 'chocolatey' enough so a spoonful of cocoa was added!
I think all children love to get creative with how they top their buns.
If the boys are doing something then Millie has to get stuck in too!
Fionn decorates with little icing but lots of sweets- just the way he likes them!
Job well done!
Millie can't wait for the taste test.

Until Jack mentioned it to me yesterday, I had completely forgot that my blog would of celebrated it's 2nd birthday at the beginning of this week. A lot has happened in the past two years. I love to write and to take photos but for most of my time I'm a stay at home mam to four, so this is a wonderful hobby for me. I've had many amazing experiences and opportunities in the past couple of years, which all really came from blogging. Thanks for coming on this journey with me and as always I'm grateful for your feedback through comments, e-mails and tweets.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Product Review - Georgia Smokehouse Foods


I don't often use jars of sauces for cooking, as quite often they aren't as flavoursome as I would like. I have also found it to be cheaper to have the ingredients for basic sauces in the press and then throw one together when needed. However sometimes a product comes along that I like to have stocked in my press which makes for a speedy dinner. I recently tried two of  Georgia Smokehouse Foods Ltd sauces- the No Cry Babies Bar BQ Sauce and the Dark, Sweet & Smokey Bar BQ Sauce and I really enjoyed them both. The No Cry Babies Bar BQ Sauce is a spicy sauce that works perfectly as a marinade for meats. I tried it with some strips of beef and loved the level of spice without being too spicy. Even the children enjoyed it! On another occasion I mixed a spoonful of the sauce with some mayonnaise and served it as a spicy dip to accompany a chicken wrap which was very tasty.


My favourite of the two sauces was the Dark, Sweet & Smokey Bar BQ Sauce. I marinaded some chicken fillets over night in the sauce and then griddled it the next day. The sauce is fairly thick so half a jar with a little added water was sufficient sauce to cover four chicken fillets. Normally with a typical bbq flavoured sauce the smokey flavour is artificial and the level of sweetness is overpowering. This is the first bought bbq sauce that I have really liked. It's smokey flavour tastes natural which probably comes from the fact that it is produced using tradition methods.
  Georgia Smokehouse Foods, specialise in authentic Southern Style Bar BQ sauces and are based in Birr Co. Offaly. You can check out their Facebook page for more details. I'm sure you'll be seeing these sauces in a supermarkets near you very soon!



Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Celebration Brownies


When one thinks of Christmas leftovers turkey and ham naturally springs to mind, but I have found that the ever popular tins of chocolates can often still be found in our press well into the new year. As a child the first sight of these in a shop was a sure indication that Christmas was approaching and the unveiling of this tin of goodies on Christmas Eve always guaranteed excitement in the house. Somehow I'm actually a little disappointed that these boxes of chocolates and tins of biscuits are now available to buy year round. What use to be a seasonal luxury has now become a very affordable treat, that can can be bought any time of the year. During the festive season there are always a few open tins of chocs lurking around everyones' house. I know most will enjoy a few with a cuppa but I find them very handy to use in my baking. I often chop them up and use them as a topping for a chocolate cake or sometimes add them into a chocolate biscuit mix to create a rocky road, of sorts. In this recipe I am using my basic brownie mixture and adding the chunks of sweets just before baking. I used a combination of Mars Celebrations sweets, which worked out really nicely as each little square of brownie had it's own unique flavour.



Celebration Brownies

Ingredients
125g (4.5oz)dark chocolate,70% cocoa, in chunks
150g (5oz)butter
3 large eggs
300g (11oz)caster sugar
100g (4oz)self raising flour
125g (5oz)celebration sweets, chopped

Method:
1.Preheat the oven to 180°C(fan)/390f/gas mark 6.
2.Grease a 20x20 baking tin with butter and cut a piece of baking parchment to fit the bottom.
3.Melt the chocolate and butter in a bowl over a saucepan of hot water.
4.While melting mix the eggs and sugar in a mixer.
5. Fold in the flour. Add the butter/chocolate mix.
5.Fold together, be careful not to overmix. Stir in the chopped chocolates.
6.Pour into the cake tin and cook for  about 30 minutes They should have a crust on but still be a bit wobbly.
7.Cool and cut into squares, dust with some icing sugar.

This recipe was featured in Nov/Dec 2011 issue of Easy Parenting.


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