Tag Archive | Ireland

Cupcakes galore!

The last few weeks have been cupcake crazy, so this post is a look back at all the wonderful goodies that were produced!

Last weekend I made a gorgeous box of lemon meringue and strawberry purée cupcakes.  They were AMAZING! They were the nicest cupcakes I’ve ever had; nice and light with a not-to-sweet icing.

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Strawberry Purée Cupcakes
Based on Rachel Allen’s recipe from ‘Cake’

125 g butter, softened
200 g caster sugar
3 eggs
150 ml milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
300 g plain flour
3 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

For the icing
150 g fresh strawberries
1 tbsp lemon juice
175 g butter, softened
600 g icing sugar, sifted

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Preheat the oven to 160C/140C fan/gas 3. Line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. I actually got 18 out of the mixture.

Cream the butter until soft in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer. Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Whisk the eggs together in a small bowl for a few seconds just until mixed, then gradually add them to the creamed butter mixture, beating all the time.

Beat in the milk, followed by the vanilla extract, then sift in the flour, baking powder and salt and fold in gently to combine.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases, filling each case about two-thirds full. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until well risen, lightly golden in colour and springy to the touch. Allow to cool for 5 minutes, then remove from the tin and place on a wire rack to cool completely.

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For the icing: Place the strawberries and lemon juice in a food processor and whiz for about a minute to purée them. Push through a sieve into a bowl, then set aside.

In a separate bowl, cream together the butter and icing sugar until combined, then gradually add the fruit purée, beating slowly.

Pipe the icing onto the cakes and decorate each cake with half a strawberry.

In mid August I made these scrumptious sparkling chocolate cupcakes for my Godson’s birthday. Find the basic sponge recipe here.

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Finally, I made these gorgeous girly strawberry-in-the-middle cupcakes using Dr Oetker Easy Swirl Pink Cupcake Icing and Heart Marshmallows!

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Right, I’m off to start planning cupcakes for my own birthday…. 6 days to go! Before I go, I’m bringing these goodies over to Fiesta Friday

Melissa xx

Apple and Blackberry Oaty Muffins

Sometimes I do try to bake a little cleaner, I don’t always use tonnes of sugar and chocolate! These little Apple and Blackberry Oat Muffins are based on an a Rachel Allen recipe in which she uses apples and sugar to make a fresh apple sauce.

400 apple sauce- puréed apples in a jar!
100ml Sunflower Oil
75g Porridge Oats
225g Plain Flour (sifted)
3tsp Baking Powder
36 Blackberries

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Preheat the oven to 180 degrees celsius and line a 12-cup muffin tray with paper cases. Pour the apple puree into a bowl and stir in the oil and oats. Sift in the flour and baking pour and fold gently.

Divide the mixture between the muffin cases and place three or four blackberries on top of each muffin.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until golden brown and lightly springy to the touch. Cool in the tin for five minutes before placing on a wire rack to cool.

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So they didn’t rise very much and the texture was a bit odd but otherwise they were delicious!

Melissa xx

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

It’s been a whole month since I last wrote or posted anything.

Life has been extremely busy.

The new job is taking up my time- far too much of my time, if I’m honest. Don’t get me wrong, I love it but I seem to have abandoned everything else. That’s not ok. So, sitting at the kitchen table, with a cuppa and a pile of books… I’m back!

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August was bonkers. We had lots of visitors, so in between work I managed to do a bit of baking. I wish I had time to bake more often. I find myself commuting to work dreaming of baking. Life is so hard!!!

One of the quick, easy recipes I used this summer was from the Cooks Academy in Dublin. Their White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake has been a favourite recipe at the school for the last ten years. It’s the perfect dessert for entertaining and thanks to Tim, Vanessa and Darina I pulled it off!

White Chocolate and Raspberry Cheesecake

Ingredients:
180g ginger nut biscuits
50g butter, melted
400g cream cheese
60g caster sugar
½ lemon, zested, and juiced
300g good quality white chocolate, chopped
300ml fresh cream, stiffly whipped
250g fresh raspberries

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Method:
Crush the biscuits in a plastic bag with a rolling pin, until they resemble breadcrumbs.  Stir the melted butter thoroughly into the biscuits.  Press into the base of a greased 20cm tin and chill in the fridge for 10 mins until the base is slightly hardened. 

Using an electric whisk, beat together the cream cheese, sugar, lemon zest and juice, until smooth.  

Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water.  Once melted, slowly pour the chocolate into the beaten ingredients, whisking as you do so.  Fold in the whipped cream. 

To assemble the cheesecake, scatter half the raspberries over the biscuit base and pour half the cream filling over.  Repeat with the remaining raspberries and filling and level the top with the back of a spoon.  Leave to chill in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight.

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If you fancy doing a short course at the Cooks Academy too, they are offering 20% off on their website until Friday 4th September.

Melissa xx

Black Garlic Seafood Pancakes

Elaine from Foodbod wrote about how she’d used black garlic in a blog post a few months ago… BLACK garlic? What?

So it turns out the black garlic is just normal white garlic that has been aged for ages! And hey presto you have sweet balsamicky garlic.
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I contacted Balsajo Black Garlic and they sent me some to try! I received a couple of bulbs of black garlic and a tub of peeled garlic. Here’s a recipe that Dr Doolittle came up with based on an idea for Korean Seafood Pancakes…

Makes 4 pancakes.

Ingredients:

1 cup plain flour

1 cup water

1 egg

1 clove black garlic finely sliced

1 bunch spring onions finely sliced

1 sweet pepper finely sliced

1 red chilli finely sliced

Rapeseed oil

Seafood of your choice (I used prawns but this works great with any mix of seafood)

Dipping Sauce:

¼ cup soy sauce 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar (I used apple wine vinegar on this occasion) 1 spring onion, finely chopped 2  cloves black garlic, finely chopped (or minced if you prefer) ½ tsp chili pepper flakes (optional) good dash of honey. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce and give it a really good stir to combine the flavours and set aside.
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In a large bowl, mix the flour and water together, then beat in the egg. The batter should have the same consistency as pancake batter. Add the black garlic and half of the spring onions and sweet peppers.
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Heat a frying pan over medium high heat and add a thin layer of rapeseed oil to the bottom. Pour a ladle of batter into the pan in a circle and cover with the seafood, chilli and remaining spring onions and sweet pepper.
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Cook for 6 minutes or until the top stops bubbling and the bottom is browned. Flip over and cook another 3-4 minutes. Transfer to a serving plate and repeat with the rest of the batter.

Cut all pancakes into quaters and get dipping! These are AMAZING and so quick and easy to make. The black sqidgy, sweet garlic gives them an extra edge (the the dipping sauce was great with a omlette the following morning too).
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Melissa xx

Cupcake Centres

A few weeks ago I can home to a lovely suprise from the people at Dr Oetker. The parcel contained their new Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres in rich, indulgent flavours of Rich Chocolate, Salted Caramel and Zingy Lemon.

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“Our innovative Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres add a delicious, gooey surprise to the inside of your baking. Simply insert the nozzle into the middle of your cupcakes just after baking and squeeze into the heart of your cake. Cut open your cupcake to reveal an indulgent centre that oozes deliciousness. ”

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The new Cupcake Centres gave me another idea, i’d use Dr Oetker popping candy as a cupcake centre too!

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I started my making lemon cupcakes, with the Zingy Lemon Cupcake Centre, topping off with Lemon Meringue sprinkles (these are sooooo tasty)…

125g butter, softened
125g caster sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 large eggs, beaten
175g plain flour
2 Dr. Oetker Baking Powder Sachets
1 pouch Dr. Oetker Surprise Inside Cupcake Centres Zingy Lemon

To decorate:
125g lightly salted butter, softened
225g icing sugar
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Zest of lemon

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Preheat the oven to 180°C (160°C fan assisted oven, 350°F, gas mark 4). Put the cake cases into tins.

Put the butter, sugar and lemon juice in a bowl and whisk together until creamy and pale. Whisk in the eggs. Sift the flour and baking powder on top and then gently mix all the ingredients together until well blended.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases. Smooth the tops and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until risen, lightly golden and just firm to the touch.

As soon as the cakes are cooked, generously inject each one with Lemon Surprise Inside Cupcake Centre, making sure the nozzle goes right to the centre of each cake. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, put the butter in a bowl and beat until smooth, glossy and pale. Gradually sift and beat in the icing sugar until creamy and soft. Mix in the Lemon juice.

Spoon the butter icing onto the cake and smooth around. Decorate each cake with lemon meringue topping.

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For the Rainbow Cupcakes:

65g Butter softened
65g Caster Sugar
1 tsp Dr. Oetker Madagascan Vanilla Extract
Large Egg , beaten
75g Self-Raising Flour

To Decorate:
Dr. Oetker Rainbow Popping Candy
Dr. Oetker Vanilla Easy Swirl Cupcake Icing

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Preheat the oven to 180°C and pop some cake cases into a cake tin.

Put the butter, sugar, vanilla extract and egg in a bowl. Sift the flour on top and then beat all the ingredients together using an electric whisk until well blended.

Divide the mixture between the cake cases. Smooth the tops and bake in the oven for 20-22 minutes until risen, lightly golden and just firm to the touch. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

To decorate, using a small spoon, scoop out a piece of sponge from the centre of each cake and fill with Rainbow Popping Candy. Replace the scooped out cake on top, trimming if necessary, to snugly fit the top of the cake again.

Follow the directions on the can of Easy Swirl. Starting in the middle of a cake, pipe the icing round in an anti-clockwise direction to cover the top of the cake then continue piping round to form a swirl on top.

Just before serving, sprinkle the cakes with a few more pieces of Rainbow Popping Candy. Eat these straight away, otherwise the popping candy loses its pop!

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So tasty, so yummy!

Melissa xx

Marvellous Madeira

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I’ve been absent from my blog for a while, only managing to post every now and then. Life seems to have run away with itself, but in a good way. I have a new job and I love it! It’s not that I’m working really long hours, i’m just commuting a little longer each day.

However, it was time for a break…

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Dr Doolittle and I decided to head to the beautiful island of Madeira. This archipelago, which is part of Portugal, is located in the Atlantic Ocean, 978km southwest of Lisbon. It comprises of the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, Desertas and Selvagens. Only the first two islands are inhabited. The latter two are nature reserves. Thanks to its magnificent location, Madeira remains warm all year round.

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The climate really helps produce some amazing fruit and vegetables. The market in the old part of Funchal was full of the stuff. Every meal we ate was accompanied by salads.

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Tropical fruits such as mangoes, bananas, avocadoes and passionfruit were used in a great variety of puddings, mousses and ice creams. Oh the ice cream! I had to try a peach melba…

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Owing to their proximity to the sea, most restaurants specialised in fish and shellfish dishes; there was octopus and shrimp dishes, tuna steaks and black scabbard fish fillets. I’d never heard of scabbard, but it tasted and looked like cod. As well as the fish, I also had one of the best ‘meat’ meals of my life (more about that next week).

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There were plenty of fresh natural fruit juices such as passionfruit, papaya, pineapple and mango, as well as the famous “poncha”, made with white rum, bee honey and lemon. I tried a fair bit of the stuff and have brought some home to experiment with!

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So to celebrate my holiday adventure I’m bringing my favourite sweet treat to Fiesta Friday. I haven’t been to the online party for a while, so I’m looking forward to catching up with old friends!

Portuguese Custard Tarts
Ingredients:

250ml double cream
150ml milk
Grated rind of 1 lemon
1 vanilla pod, split lengthways
4 egg yolks
2 tbsp cornflour
115g caster sugar
150g chilled ready-made puff pastry
Flour, for dusting

Method:

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Preheat the oven to 190c.

Put the cream, milk, and lemon rind in a saucepan.  Scrape the seeds from the split vanilla pod into the saucepan and drop in the empty pod too.  Bring to a simmer, then take off the heat.

Whisk the egg yolks, cornflour and sugar in a bowl until it comes together in a paste.  Pass the milk mixture though a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl of egg paste and mix together quickly. Return it all to the saucepan and heat over a moderate heat until it thickens but don’t let it boil!

Then roll out the pastry on a lightly floured worksurface as thin as you can.  Roll it up into a long sausage shape and cut 12 discs.  Roll out each disc to about 9cm and put into greased muffin tins. Prick the bottoms with a fork androfill just over halfway.

Bake in the preheated oven for about  for 18/20 mins until browned on top.

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Melissa xx

Taste of Dublin

I went to Taste of Dublin in Iveagh Gardens yesterday. There were live bands playing as I wondered around from restaurant to food stall. There were also lots of live demonstrations and famous chefs!

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I started with cake, of course I did! Le Patissier had an amazing display of goodies. They had won both Gold and Silver at the Blas na hEireann Irish Food Awards in 2014.

I tried the chocolate indulgence which had a beautiful chocolate mousse inside with a raspberry coulis. I wish I’d gone back to try everything.

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I visited the Glenisk stand and got a scrummy Glenisk Banana with Milk Chocolate and Caramel Yogurt Cup!

Ingredients:
4 tbsp Glenisk Organic Greek Style Natural Yogurt
½ banana, sliced
1 tbsp caramel or Dulce de Leche
1 tbsp milk chocolate, chopped

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I had a great chicken dish at Saba, how do they do their rice?

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Harvey Nichols’ restaurant Rock Lobster served up fish and chips… Shame some of the chips were hard!

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The Dumpling Pot Sticker from Soder and Ko was amazing. I’ve never been to the restaurant, but I definitely will be! They serve a creative blend of Scandinavian and Asian inspired food and drink. They partnered with Hop House 13, the latest beer from The Brewers Project at St James Gate.

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Dr Dr Doolittle really enjoyed Crean’s beer AND their little make shift pub!

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I bought a couple of packs of One-der blend by Patels 1941. It’s a versatile spice blend that can create 10 different currys. What a fantastic idea. I also love the fact that Ramen Patel Jr’s background is similar to mine; born in Ireland with an Irish Mother, and Indian Father who was born in Africia.

The company had won a competition to have a stall at the event and it seemed to be very busy. I’m so excited for them, and wish them every success!

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I bought a bottle of truffle oil from Pukara Estate…. fancy!!!

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I met The Cupcake Bloke! He gave me a garland (and a huge scone), and I bought these six stunning cupcakes. I’ll update you all on my Facebook and Twitter page as I eat them….

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I had a great time but I spent a lot; it wasn’t cheap when you consider the ticket price, the food and drink prices and then any bits and pieces you might buy, but it was fun!

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Thanks Cupcake Bloke!

Melissa xx

In My Kitchen

Bloom 2015 took place in the Phoenix Park Dublin over the June bank holiday weekend, from Thursday 28th May until Monday 1st June. Over 100,000 visitors headed to the Phoenix Park in Dublin. There were show gardens, cookery and craft demonstrations, free gardening advice from the experts, Irish food produce, live entertainment and gardening workshops, oh and rain… Lots and lots of rain.

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Goal garden at Bloom 2015

Unsurprisingly,  I bought lots of goodies for my kitchen!

In My Kitchen…

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… Are butters from local producers Blast and Wilde! I love Love LOVE this stuff! Their infused butters are incredible on meat or fish, or even on a bit of bread. I also picked up a pot of delicious garlicky pesto…

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In My Kitchen…

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Is was a packet of Kilbeggan oat chocolate chip cookies. We ate them! They were soooooo good! However there is a packet of oats left, so I might attempt my own version or i’ll make tasty porridge.

In My Kitchen…

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… Is the latest addition to the Newgrange Gold family. The smokey Rapeseed oil is delicious. I’m a huge fan of their oils and recently attended an earlier morning breakfast there as part of the Boyne Valley Food Series.

I also picked up a bottle of WildWood blackberry vinegar. It’s amazing! It has a wonderful sharp, sweet taste.

In My Kitchen…

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… Are these spice mixes by the brilliant Green Saffron. Green Saffron is a multi-award-winning family business based in Cork, Ireland. “We passionately produce stunning spice blends, sauces and chutneys from spices sourced by family members in Moradabad, India….” I can’t wait to try them.

In My Kitchen…

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… Are several jars of Big Red Kitchen jams and their yummy butterscotch sauce which is great at this time of the year with icecream.

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In My Kitchen…

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… Was a suprise from Dr Oetker yesterday! They sent me their new cupcake centres. I can’t wait to try them out and report back.

Melissa xx

Dawn Chorus at Newgrange Gold

I woke up at stupid o’clock 3am on Sunday morning to head to Newgrange Gold’s farm in the Boyne Valley. They had teamed up again with Birdwatch Ireland to bring us the dawn chorus… My reward for doing all this was going to be a locally produced Boyne Valley Food artisan breakfast!

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Participants met at Crewbane just outside Slane for a guided walk by expert, Franck Ar Moenner of Birdwatch Ireland Meath.  Frank was an incredibly passionate French guy who could spend every minute of the day talking about birds.

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At first we heard wrens, robins, blackbirds,  and as the morning went on we heard all sorts of other birds. We wondered on down from the farm towards the river to explore further.

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Photo by Boyne Valley Food

I can’t say I could tell you which bird was which, but I could hear a difference. Between churping and tweeting and tra-la-la-las, it was beautiful. I didn’t quite understand the three phrases of song that Franck talked about, but he said they were just improvising! It was fascinating and a great experience.

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It was such a beautiful, fresh morning and I was thrilled that it hadn’t rained but after all the walking I was ready for breakfast!

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Jack and Daryl from New Grange Gold met us back at the house with a fantastic spread.

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There was Boyne Valley Blue cheese,  Sheridans crackers and Big Red Kitchen onion chutney.

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There was Bakelicious brown bread, The Whole Hoggs sausages and white pudding and Big Red Kitchen chutney. The biggest suprise was the porridge. It was lovely and warming at 6.30am! Thanks to Daryl at Newgrange Gold for the recipe below…

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Newgrange Gold Camelina Porridge:

1 cup Dunany Farm Spelt Berries
1 cup Kilbeggan Porridge Oats
4 cups of Goats Milk (or cows milk) – we used Michael Finnegan’s milk
2 Tbsp Camelina Oil
1/2 cup of Apple Juice – we used Mark
Jenkinson’s from Cockagee Cider
1 tbsp Honey-we used our own honey
Pinch of salt

To serve:
Drizzle some Camelina, Honey and Big Red Kitchen’s Raspberry and Vanilla jam over your hot porridge and Enjoy.

Method :
Soak the spelt berries in cold water over night. In the morning, drain the spelt berries and boil them for 45 mins. Add all your ingredients including the spelt berries into a pot and simmer
for 10 minutes stirring occasionally. And Serve!

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Check out Boyne Valley Food Series for more events.

Melissa xx

In My International Kitchen

Once again I find myself sipping a soya chai latte at Mumbai International Airport, waiting to board a flight to London. My visits always seem to be as manic as the country itself, so it’s nice to take a little time out to write a blog post before I leave it all behind….

In My Kitchen Garden…

… Are mango trees full of delicious sweet fruit. This time of year is terribly hot but atleast the fruit is ready for picking!

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Are hundreds of coconuts! The green coconuts have turned brown with the formation of a hard husk shell.

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Hangs these delicious bread fruits. Best eaten sliced and fried!

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In My Garden Kitchen…

… Are these custard apples. I actually think they taste more like a pear!

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In My Kitchen…

… Sits this beautiful wooden juicer! It belonged to my Grandparents and is presumably very old!

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In My Irish Kitchen…

… Is a fantastic display of home baked goodies. I completed a home baking course with a good friend. We made cheese and herb scones, banana and walnut bread and berry muffins. It was great fun!

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In My Irish Kitchen…

… Are loads of goodies from Dr Oetker! I recently took part in an interview for their ‘Even Better Baking With’ series and they were kind enough to send a thank you gift.

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This great series is brought to you by Celia fromFig Jam and Lime Cordial.

Melissa xx