So today morning, while helping my beautiful Mummy with some errands, something happened. I kept running into friends and neighbours telling me how much they enjoy reading my blog and about the recipes they like. Neighbourhoods change, but visiting my parents feels like going back home. People there are mainly very friendly and many of them know me from when I was a child. I love feedback, and before you roll your eyes at me (I can see you) I appreciate all kinds. Done properly. You know what I mean. I love writing on here. I don’t get too personal, mostly because I don’t want to make my friends and family uncomfortable or make them feel uneasy in any way. I want people to talk to me at the end of the day!
I’m never in the mood for complicated dishes. More so right now. I was out all morning/early afternoon running errands. Carrying all the grocery shopping up the stairs isn’t how I would like to spend the first part of this Valentine’s Day but there you go. I don’t expect anything else mind you, I like when my days are full with things to do, although I must say today I feel somewhat under the weather, after a few sleepless nights. I’ve tried everything, from a calming brew of herbal tea to lavender essential oil, but nothing seems to work. Part of it is that my mind just doesn’t stop and I’m finding it so hard to wind down at the end of the day. Some of this comes with keeping on with my reading, writing, thinking and jotting down mental notes throughout the day, especially late into the evening. I know some of my readers and blogger friends are nodding in firm agreement. I can almost hear and see you my friends. I find a kind of gentle reassurance in that, although I do wish everyone plenty of peace and rest. Always.
Seven days until Christmas. Now that’s 2016 almost over. I just can’t believe it. Can you?! We have been having quite a rainy week and for the very first time yesterday I felt the cold and the humidity. Is it really time to wear our coats? Could be, but it should get a little warmer over the next few days so we’ll just have to see about that. My friends in MI have been some wicked snowstorms. I’ve been asking for some but none of them obliged yet! Oh well.
I cannot tell you how easy this is to make. I will not even call it a recipe, because frankly it’s not. One morning I needed some cheering up. It was raining
of course and I, like everyone else on this little island, was having a bad day. The rain would not stop. The town centre was completely flooded. After a while I stopped reading the papers; I just couldn’t take any more bad news. Thankfully, fingers crossed, the rain has now stopped and Spring is almost here. You can imagine the joy!
August is a quiet time, and I probably won’t be posting often in the coming weeks. (Thank you J for posting this for me.) This is a very quick idea for a bruschetta with Dolcelatte. This Italian cheese has a much more delicate taste than other blue cheeses, and is deliciously sweet. I’m a huge fan on strong blues, but sometimes you just need something milder. This is my take on the classic grilled cheese on toast. All you need is sourdough bread, sliced tomatoes (the beefier the better), dolcelatte, spring onions, olive oil and pepper. Enjoy!
This brings back so many memories. If I were to ask you: what is the very first thing you’ve ever cooked, what would your answer be? Well, this recipe is where it all started for me. Granted, it’s not a cake and it’s definitely nothing sweet. This is how I learnt though. I never cooked before that point and I never read a recipe in my life. I just opened a book and found the easiest thing I could manage. And I never looked back.
The very first cookery books I bought looked like little leaflets. I never inherited cookery notebooks; that’s because my mum never had one. She is a good cook mind you, but I never showed any interest in cooking, and the recipes are all in her head. What I inherited from her is the love of one pot suppers. If seasoned well, you get plenty of taste with minimal effort. Perfect for busy days, without the need of buying a takeaway on your way home from work.
The following is my take on Dublin Coddle, a charming rustic little dish from one of my favourite places in the world. You will have around 4 servings here but you can scale it up or down depending on how hungry you are or how many people you want to feed. You need:
- 8 thick pork or beef sausages (or a mix of both)
- 4 back bacon rashers
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (or leave whole and unpeeled to squish them up later. They will taste so sweet!)
- 2 onions, roughly chopped
- 4 to 6 large potatoes, cut into slices (not too thinly)
- 1 teaspoon dried sage
- pepper, to taste
- 1 to 1½ cup good chicken or vegetable stock
- 3 tablespoons fresh parsley, roughly chopped
- Preheat your oven to 180°C. In the meantime, place the oil into a shallow pan and quickly brown the sausages on all sides. Put them into a warm bowl and set them aside until needed. Cook the bacon quickly and also set this aside.
- Sweat the onions and garlic (if chopped) for around 5 minutes in that same pan. Arrange the uncooked potato slices in an ovenproof dish. Now place the onion mixture over the potatoes, together with lots of pepper and the dried sage. Add the sausages and bacon in the pan and pour in the stock. (Now is the time to add the whole unpeeled garlic cloves if you choose to use the garlic in this way.)
- Bake for 45 minutes to an hour. Serve immediately and divide the parsley between each serving, with plenty of crusty bread to mop up the juices. I would go for soda bread though to make the meal completely Irish! (Click here for Paul Hollywood’s recipe.)
One of the easiest and heart-warming recipes out there. I love it. Enjoy!
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post I didn’t bake much lately. Sometimes I lack inspiration and recipes. When I said that to J he gave me this I-can’t-believe-you’re-saying-this-and-what-about-all-those-recipe-books-you-have look! I can’t blame him. Recently a friend of mine, who wants to learn how to bake, asked me for a list of books (she said maybe a list of up to ten books will suffice for now) with a variety of easy recipes for her to try. Of course I sent her much more than that, even though I specified which ones I consider best. You see, recipe books come in various kinds, and they come and go, because some are just fads. And others are just repetitive – plain and simple. Some cooks who have published a gazillion books, copy and paste from their own books, so when you think about it, they could have just come up with a bumper book and leave it at that! Even my favourite people have done that. It’s inevitable and it happens not only in cooking.
I find that some ingredients don’t let you be creative. This could be because I’m no chef. I just love cooking and baking, and you could say that not being extra mega imaginative is ok for someone like me. I’ll tell you one thing: when you’re a food blogger this won’t do. The good thing with us is that we can blog about food in general, without necessarily giving recipes. My readers, who are extremely supportive, don’t seem to be bothered too much whenever I just rave or rant about something in particular, and I’m so thankful about that! They are really generous. But once in a while they do ask me for a pudding or two or some cake ideas.
So once again, what I am giving you here is a chocolate cake. I’m never tired of chocolate, or cake for that matter! It’s very moist and luscious, but not that rich which is what we need sometimes. It has honey in it so it’s not for everyone, but I love this cake especially after a light meal, where you think you’ll be good because you’ve just ate something healthy, but then just give in and say “oh well, I’ve been really good, but now I’ll be really bad!” I saw this in Nigella Feast, made the cake with a little tweaks but didn’t make the frosting as instructed, not because it wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t like the idea of a honey frosting. I love honey but too much makes my teeth squeak! So I made a simple icing out of chocolate, which you can find here. (You could also try her cola icing; believe me it doesn’t taste like cola at all so it will do for this cake too.) I did half the quantity though and it worked well. I am always stuck when I have extra, and making less means not having to bake something else. Here it is:
- 100g dark chocolate, broken into chunks
- 275g light brown sugar
- 225g unsalted butter, softened
- 125ml runny honey
- 2 large eggs
- 200g plain flour (all purpose)
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon good quality cocoa powder
- 250ml boiling water
- Make sure that all your ingredients are at room temperature.
- Place the chocolate chunks into a small bowl and melt by putting this over simmering water. Make sure that the water does not touch the bowl. When the chocolate is completely melted set it aside to cool. (Please note that this water has nothing to do with the boiling water listed in the ingredients. It is extra.)
- Preheat the oven to 180ºC/Gas mark 4, and line and grease a springform cake tin (preferably a 23cm one).
- Place the sugar and softened butter into a large bowl and whisk the ingredients well until they become white in colour and creamy in texture. Add the honey.
- Tip in the first egg and a tablespoonful of flour and beat into the mixture, and do the same with the second egg. This will avoid any curdling in the batter. Fold in the melted chocolate, the remainder of the flour and two teaspoonfuls of baking powder. Sieve in the cocoa powder to remove any lumps. Then add the boiling water and beat the mixture once more. Your batter should be completely smooth.
- Tip in the batter into the prepared cake tin and check it after 40 minutes. If the cake is browning too quickly from the top, cover this with a piece of kitchen foil. Check it again after 20 minutes. When the cake is ready remove from the oven and leave it to cool on a rack, still in the tin. Remove the springform and when it’s cool enough for you to handle, place a clean hand on the top of the cake, turn it over, remove the base and place it on a cake stand. Frost it if you like and how you like.
Don’t let the many steps frighten you. It’s easy I promise you. This is what I will bake during my birthday week. I love this and so will you! For my birthday, which is today, I’m off to Guildford for a special treat at Raymond Blanc’s bakery and get myself some lovely macaroons! I’m off….