Today was the first day of my new venture, my fresh produce stall. All my cakes and bakes were snapped up quickly with the eggs and jams also selling well. Many visitors gave me plenty of suggestions on what else to bake for next week, so here's to a busy Friday night from now on! I think this will be my time to relax each week as I found the unusual sound of silence quite refreshing.

If like me, you are a lover of cookbooks and good food there is a little place hidden away in Notting Hill, London that sounds like a dream come true. It's a book store which contains 1000's of titles and recipes from some of these books are put to the test each day in the store's cafe. A place I must pencil in to visit someday!
This recipe is credited to the owner of that bookstore, Eric Treuille.
It works well with the chicken satay or any grilled/BBQ meats. The sauce will keep for about 1 week in the fridge.

Spicy Peanut Satay Sauce

250g (8oz) peanut butter
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 tsp turmeric
1 tsp Tabasco
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
4 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp runny honey
juice of 1 lemon
125ml water or coconut milk

1. Place all the ingredients in a food processor or blender and pulse until smooth.
2. Cover and let stand for 30 mins at room temp to allow flavours to blend.
3. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

This Saturday I am starting a small stall at the entrance to our home (on the Moate/Mount Temple road) selling freshly baked goods such as buns, bread and anything else I decide to bake that morning, jam, eggs from our happy hens and some fresh produce from the garden, as it becomes available. Once there is a demand I hope to continue my stall every Saturday morning from 10am until 1 pm.

Today we decided to head out for lunch. I recently bumped into an old school friend and she mentioned that she is working as a chef at Farrell's pub in Glasson village - the restaurant is now known as The Fatted Calf.

I had heard that the restaurant had been taken over by former Wineport head chef Fergal O'Donnell and when this girl told me how passionately he sourced his ingredients I knew we would have to pay it a visit. I must say we weren't disappointed. 

Service was excellent with the staff very friendly. We had our four children with us, so long breaks between courses was a luxury we couldn't afford. Thankfully each course was served quite promptly with the children's food served with our starters.

The obviously seasonal menu was one which would cater for most, with a good range of dishes to choose from. The food was beautifully presented and each dish was bursting with such intense flavours it was clear that the ingredients used were perfectly fresh. I would have to also note the portion sizes, as they were very substantial.

Absolutely delicious desserts!

The price for such an impressive lunch was very reasonable, with 3 courses and tea/coffee only 27 euro each. The children's lunch, which included a half portions of the adults' menu and a selection of homemade ice-creams, was fantastic value for only 10 euro each.
I would certainly recommend The Fatted Calf for a very enjoyable lunch.
Served with rice, baby potatoes and a green salad this is the perfect dish for entertaining a crowd. In my butchers the cut of beef that is pre-diced is shin, which benefits greatly from stewing for long periods so therefore is ideal for this dish. Diced sirloin steak would break down too much in any dish which requires slow cooking. You can choose any wine you like, but don't cook with any wine that you wouldn't drink.

Beef Stroganoff

I like to add a variety of herbs to this dish to enhance the flavour.
2lbs shin beef, diced
50g plain flour
60g(2oz) butter
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg(optional)
1 tbsp tomato puree
500mls red wine
200mls beef stock
200g mushrooms, quartered or sliced
3 fresh thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
2 sprigs parsley
170mls cream
salt and freshly ground pepper

To thicken
25g/1oz butter
25g/1oz plain flour

1. Sprinkle the beef with the flour and season with the salt and pepper.
2. Heat half the butter with 1 tbsp of oil in a large saucepan. Add the beef, in batches if necessary, and cook until the beef is sealed and brown (about 5 mins). Transfer to a plate.
3. Add another knob of butter with a little oil to the pan, add the onions and garlic. Cook on a medium heat for about 5 mins, until the onions are soft but not coloured.
4. Return the beef to the pan. Add the wine, beef stock, tomato puree and pinch of nutmeg. Bring to the boil. Turn down the heat and add the herbs.
5. Cook for approx 2 hrs on a low heat.
6. Remove the herbs from the pan and add the cream. Make the roux by melting the butter in a separate saucepan, add the flour and cook for 2 mins. Whisk in the roux to the boiling sauce. Allow thickening for 8- 10 mins.
7. Meanwhile, saute the mushrooms with a knob of butter in a separate saucepan. Add to the beef mixture.
8. Check the seasoning. Serve with rice and baby boiled potatoes or mashed potatoes.

Oh my goodness, what a hot day! When the boys came in from playing earlier they begged me for a treat so we made some milkshakes as the perfect treat for a sunny day. An easy recipe that the children can make with you.

Banana Milkshake

2 ripe bananas
3 scoops of ice cream
1 tsp vanilla extract
600mls milk

1. Blend all the ingredients together in a large jug with a hand blender. Pour and enjoy.
This is a really easy pasta sauce which can be served on its own with pasta or ravioli. You can, of course, add some grilled chicken or even some oven-roasted vegetables. I also pour this sauce over meatballs and serve with spaghetti. I would always recommend using fresh herbs as the taste is so much nicer than dried herbs. Basil can be used instead of the mint and rosemary for a classic Tomato and Basil sauce. It is a basic sauce so the possibilities are endless.

750 ml (1¾ pints) passata or 2 x 400 g tins of tomatoes, liquidized
1 small onion, finely chopped
15 g butter
250 ml (8 fl oz) vegetable stock or chicken stock
2 tablespoons freshly chopped spearmint
1 tablespoon freshly chopped rosemary
Salt, freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp sugar*
120 ml (4 fl oz) cream

1. Sweat the onion in the butter on a gentle heat until soft but not coloured.
2. Add the tomato purée (or chopped tinned tomatoes plus juice) and vegetable stock.
3. Add the chopped herbs, season with salt, freshly ground pepper and sugar. Bring to the boil and simmer for a few minutes.
4. Liquidize. Bring back to the boil, correct seasoning and add the cream.
5. Serve with pasta of your choice and grate over a little Parmesan.

*Tinned tomatoes need a good amount of sugar to counteract the acidity.
Our herb garden with all plants looking very healthy. Thanks to my father.

Lemonbalm plant
This plant is two years old and like mint, it grows really well in any soil. Growing bigger each year. I mostly use it for garnishing dishes or making stock for lemonade but also for this ginger and lemon tea.

This tea is especially good for an upset tummy or nausea. Lemonbalm also may help to relieve anxiety.

To make rosemary or mint or lemon balm tea

Place 2 sprigs of fresh rosemary or 4 large sprigs of fresh lemon balm or 4 large sprigs of fresh mint in a small flask and cover in 400ml boiling water (this is enough for two cups of tea) Put the lid on the flask and allow to infuse for 10 minutes. You can also use a teapot and tea cosy. I sometimes place the herbs in a mug and cover with boiling water, then cover with some cling film and then tin foil to allow the tea to infuse.

To make Root Ginger and Fresh Lemonbalm Tea

To prepare the tea, slice a 1-inch piece of fresh unpeeled root ginger. Place the ginger pieces and 4 lemon balm leaves in a flask and cover with 400ml of boiling water. Cover with the lid and allow to infuse for 20 minutes. Pour and enjoy.

I love to have a good excuse to bake, so Millie's Christening on Sunday gives me the perfect opportunity to try out new recipes. One such recipe was for these blondies from Rachel Allen's Bake. They are simply delicious, so much so that I had to get them rather quickly into a sealed tin out of my own reach!

Peanut Butter and White Chocolate Blondies

125g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
100g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
150g crunchy peanut butter
175g light brown sugar
1 egg, beaten
1 tsp vanilla extract
75g white chocolate, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 170°C/gas mark 3.
2. Butter the sides of a 20 x 20cm square cake tin and line the base with greaseproof paper.
3. Sift the flour and baking powder into a small bowl and set aside.
4. In a large bowl, cream the butter and peanut butter together until very soft. Add the sugar, egg and vanilla extract and beat until well combined. Add the flour, baking powder and the chopped chocolate and mix to form a dough.
5. Place the dough into the prepared tin and bake in the oven for 25–30 minutes, or until golden brown and almost firm in the centre.
6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool in the tin, before removing and cutting into squares.

Adapted from Rachel Allen, Bake (Collins)

I love mushrooms and try to include them in as many dishes as possible. As a child, when mushrooms were in season, I would go picking them with my father. My mother would then prepare the wild mushrooms, fry in butter, season, add some milk and bring to a simmer. This would then be served on a thick slice of crusty bread to mop up all the juices. A delicious dish with some treasured memories.
This recipe for Mushrooms is simply a richer version. This is my ultimate mushroom fix; creamy mushrooms on toasted brioche. It is also good on toasted white or brown bread. These creamy mushrooms may also be served as a vegetable, or as a filling for vol au vents or pancakes or as a quick sauce for pasta. This sauce will keep well in the fridge for 3 days.

Creamy Mushrooms on Toast

25g  butter
1 small onion, finely chopped
225g mushrooms, sliced
100ml cream
freshly chopped parsley
1/2 tablespoon freshly chopped chives (optional)
a squeeze of lemon juice
salt and freshly ground pepper

1. Melt the butter in a heavy saucepan until it foams. Add the chopped onions, cover and sweat on a gentle heat for 5-10 minutes or until quite soft but not coloured.
2. Meanwhile cook the sliced mushrooms in a little butter, in a hot frying pan in batches if necessary. Season each batch with salt, freshly ground pepper and a tiny squeeze of lemon juice.
3. Add the mushrooms to the onions in the saucepan, then add the cream and allow to bubble for a few minutes.
4. Taste and correct the seasoning, and add parsley and chives if used.

{Guest post by Jack!}

Today my Mam & I went to the Wineport Lodge for Lunch and we had a really good time. I tried everything on my plate and I tried everything on my mam's plate too! For starter, I had leek and potato soup with creme fraise, with a sprinkle of chives and crusty bread. For my Main Course, I had delicious home-made chips and chicken goujons with creamy mash potato. For Dessert, I had chocolate brownies with ice-cream and then a hot chocolate. Everything tasted delicious, nearly as good as my mam's cooking. Today was a great day that I will never forget.

Desert Time

Today was Jack's First Holy Communion. We had a really lovely relaxed day. Since we are having Millie's Christening next weekend, and all the relatives and friends are invited, we had just a small gathering today. As a special treat, Jack and I are dining at the Wineport tomorrow. Lucky us.

Swiss Roll


For the swiss roll
melted butter, for greasing
125g plain flour, plus extra for dusting
4 eggs
125g caster sugar, plus 3 tbsp for sprinkling (or use icing sugar for dusting)
2 tbsp warm water
1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
6 tbsp raspberry or strawberry jam
225ml double cream, whipped

1. Preheat the oven to 190°C / 375°F / gas mark 5.
2. For the swiss roll: line the base of a 25 x 38cm swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper, brush the base and sides of the tin with melted butter and dust with flour.
3. Whisk the eggs and caster sugar together in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until light and fluffy, then add the water and vanilla extract.
4. Sift in the flour, about one-third at a time, and fold it into the mixture using a large metal spoon.
5. Pour the mixture gently into the prepared swiss roll tin and bake in the oven for 12–15 minutes, or until the centre of the cake is slightly springy and the edges have shrunk away a little from the sides of the tin.
6. Spread out a piece of greaseproof paper (slightly larger than the tin in size) on a work surface and sprinkle evenly with caster sugar (this stops the roll from sticking to the paper). Turn the Swiss roll tin onto the sugared greaseproof paper, then carefully remove the tin and greaseproof paper from the bottom of the cake.
7. Place a slightly damp, clean tea towel over the cake and leave to cool for 30 minutes – this will prevent it from drying out and cracking when you roll it.
8. When the cake is cool, spread it sparingly with raspberry jam, followed by the whipped cream. With the longest side facing you, roll up the Swiss roll away from you, then transfer to a plate to serve. Sprinkle with caster sugar or dust with icing sugar to finish.

In the greenhouse, my father has many different varieties of lettuce growing. The flavour from lettuce grown at home in the soil is so significantly better than the shop-bought alternative. Not only is the flavour better but nutritionally there is no comparison. It has been reported, the lettuce bought in the bag ''ready for use'' is washed in chlorine 14 times stronger than that used in swimming pools, so your salad on the side may cause you more bad than good.
I love a proper green salad, to accompany a meal, with a drizzle of this dressing on top.
In the past, I have bought more salad dressing and I always end up throwing out half the bottle. So now I just make up a small amount of dressing as I need it.

Killachonna Salad Dressing

40ml white wine vinegar
110ml olive oil
½ tsp mustard (Dijon or English)
1 clove garlic, crushed
½ tsp honey
½ tsp salt
Pinch black pepper

1. Put all the ingredients into a bowl and whisk.
2. Keeps well in the fridge for a couple of weeks.