Perfect Pecan Cookies

Feeling stressed? Well I was feeling a bit stressed earlier this week so, finding myself home alone, I decided to bake these delicious Pecan Cookies.  Not the way I normally bake though which usually means throwing something together at the same time as cooking the dinner and while I am quite an organised person I can be very a messy cook !

So on my kitchen counter there would be bowls, wooden spoons, a weighing scales, ingredients, mobile phone, post, cookbook ….you get the picture! Not ideal and so often leads to those baking disasters where an ingredient is forgotten or added twice.

So I cleared the counter of anything that wasn’t related to the cookies, measured out all my ingredients and even got my baking trays ready. For the next half  hour all I had to think of was mixing the soft cookie dough, totally satisfying and relaxing.

The cookies took only 10 minutes to make and another 10 minutes to bake so nothing more to do other than put the kettle on.  Try it, pick an easy recipe like this one and savour the process!  Continue reading

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Perfect, imperfect Lemon Meringue Pie

What is your ‘death row’ dessert – this is mine, absolutely hands down. I just adore it’s melt in the mouth full on sweet, lemony deliciousness. The pastry in this recipe is part of the secret as it is really, really light and is the perfect host or backdrop for the lemon filling and the soft, sweet, crispy meringue topping.

Pastry is not one of my strong points – something always seems to go wrong and this was no different.

The pastry base bubbled up from the base of the tin when it was baking in the oven (not lined with enough baking beans to weigh it down) then it shrank and a little part of one side fell in completely. Then to top it off some of the filling leaked out of a little crack in the pastry when it was baking in the oven. Disaster!

Guess what ?? It tasted divine and all of the ‘disasters’ made no difference at all!

Sometimes things don’t go to plan however sometimes that’s ok

So go get yourself some lemons and some eggs and give this a shot to see if it is a contender for your favourite dessert.

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Irish Potato Cakes / Potato Farls

Celebrate St Patrick’s Day by making these delicious potato cakes which take just 10 minutes to make and are  a great way to use up leftover cooked potatoes. They are as popular in this house as pancakes – delicious on their own or as part of a traditional Irish breakfast. This is what I call real fast food and I bet you have all the ingredients in your kitchen right now!  The recipe that comes from a book that my mother had when she was in secondary school back in the 1950s called ‘All in the Cooking’. The pages are faded and falling out and unlike cookery books today there isn’t a single picture in it.

Makes 8 potato cakes Time: 5 mins preparation / 5-10 mins cooking

Ingredients

225g / 8oz cooked potatoes
15g / ½ oz butter (melted)
60g / 2oz plain flour
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
Clarified butter* for cooking

How to make them

  • Sieve the flour, salt and baking powder into a bowl
  • Sieve the cooked potatoes into the same bowl
  • Add the melted butter
  • Mix to a smooth dough
  • Turn onto a floured surface and knead until smooth
  • Roll out the dough with a rolling pin to a thickness of a ½ centimetre
  • Cut into triangles (cut the circle of dough in half and then each semi-circle into triangles)
  • Heat the clarified butter in a non-stick frying pan
  • Add the potato cakes (4 at a time) and fry until golden on one side. turnover and fry gently on the other side.
  • Add some more butter and repeat with the other 4 potato cakes.

*Clarified butter doesn’t burn which makes it much easier to cook with. Just melt some butter in the microwave and use the clear liquid (the whey will sink to the bottom and can be discarded)

Ribollita

 

This is just the job to warm you up on a freezing cold day – my last post was for a delicious comforting meaty stew however my good friend Liz has asked me for a vegetarian option and I think this would give a beef stew a good run for it’s money any day! One of the nice things about this dish is it is so quick to make plus it is a wonderful way of turning what are pretty much staple ingredients into a really tasty and wholesome meal.  The name Ribollita literally means “reboiled”, in fact an authentic Ribollita takes about three days to taste its best –  it was a way for thrifty Tuscan cooks to use leftover vegetables, bread and beans from the week.

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Simple Beef Stew

Beat the cold weather by cozying up to a bowl of this hearty beef stew. Rich, warm, delicious and simple to make. With a horrible cold spell forecast this week I will be making this using the slow cooker –  prepare  in the evening, leave in the fridge overnight, take out first thing the next morning(to take the chill out of it) and after half an hour or so put it in the slow cooker on Medium for 6-8 hours. Job done, dinner made, the feeling of freedom is wonderful and you can pat yourself on the back for being totally ahead of the game! No matter what time anyone comes in that evening they can have a piping hot dinner – sometimes I add in a few boiled potatoes at the end of the cooking time to make a complete meal of it plus they soak up some of the juices and go all soft and yummy!

PS: The instructions below are for a slow cooker however to cook in a conventional oven, just increase the amount of stock to 800ml and cook at 160°C / 350°F  for 2½ to 3 hours or until the meat is tender.

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Lamb Tagine

This lamb tagine is full of delicious rich flavours from the combination of succulent, sweet lamb, spices and fruit. It is so simple and is a great dish if you are having friends over as it has a richer, more exotic flavour than your normal beef stew. The dish originates from Morocco where it would be cooked slowly in a traditional ceramic or clay dish called a tagine. I am currently bonding big-time with my Slow Cooker – it buys me so much time and freedom and I cannot recommend it enough. This dish is one of my favourites done in the Slow Cooker (Crockpot) – the recipe is the same whether it is cooked in the oven or in the Slow Cooker so instructions for both are below.  The only hassle can be dicing the lamb but it is so worth it!

(recipe is adapted from one in the Avoca Cookbook No.2) Continue reading

Slow January!

 

Happy New Year to you all – this is my first post of 2018 as I am doing ‘slow’ January and easing myself into the new year. January is always such a long depressing month after all the sparkle, fun and wonderful overindulgence in December! And to make it worse everywhere you look there are articles or programmes about diets and punishing exercise regimes to make it even harder! January should be about nurturing and looking after yourself – eating real food, moving a bit more, getting some proper sleep, perhaps planning a holiday but overall being good to yourself. Think of it as your launchpad for  the year. Continue reading