Bit of a delay since my last post due to wi-fi connectivity issues which I won’t go into as it was a traumatic time! If you haven’t experienced it believe me, in a house with 2 adult children, bar the entire house going on fire, having no wi-fi is guaranteed to cause a few epic melt-downs and stress levels to go sky-high. We still had food, electricity, a roof over our head, even a TV, but no wi-fi ….you get my drift! Anyway if you are feeling a bit sad to see Summer come to an end and stressed having to get organised again with meals / school lunches / uniforms etc cheer yourself up with this week’s recipe for the most fabulous strawberry ice cream. No need for any fancy ice cream machine here to make this delicious ice cream with a wonderful fresh strawberry flavour. Serve it on a cone or with some fresh strawberries. Yum!
(This is a recipe from Rachel Allen’s book Rachel’s Favourite Food for Friends.)
Makes approx. 2 litres. (Serves approx. 12 people)
250g (9oz)fresh strawberries
Juice of 1 lemon
250g (9oz) caster sugar
4 large egg whites (roughly 100g or 4oz of egg whites)
a pinch of cream of tartar (Bextartar)
300ml (10 ½ fl oz cream, whipped which should come to about 500ml or 17 ½ fl oz whipped cream)
How to make it!
- Purée the strawberries with the lemon juice in a blender or food processor.
- Push the purée through a sieve to remove the seeds.
- Place the sugar and water in a saucepan, and heat slowly, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
- Boil fiercely for 5 minutes, until it thickens and the last drops off a spoon dipped into it form a kind of thread.
- Meanwhile, using an electric whisk, whisk the egg whites with the cream of tartar until stiff.
- Still whisking, gradually pour in the hot syrup in a thin stream and continue to whisk until the mixture is cool, glossy and stiff (about 4/5 minutes).
- Fold in the strawberry purée and the whipped cream, though not completely so as to give it a nice marbled effect.
- Freeze overnight.
- The ice cream can be scooped / served straight from the freezer.
The star of this recipe is the crumble which is so so easy to make – perfect for kids to make as it is completely foolproof. The recipe makes a full jar of the delicious crumble just like the one in the photo. Since I made this last weekend I have had to hide the jar as fistfuls were disappearing overnight! Think of crumbled home-baked cookies and you get the idea. The crumble will go on anything ………ice cream, fruit, custard for example and is delicious cold. This recipe has 3 parts to it, all very useful on their own i.e. poached rhubarb, custard and crumble. If you don’t make the rhubarb or the custard please give the crumble a go – eat it on its own or serve it with some fruit e.g. strawberries and ice cream or natural yogurt. I have rhubarb growing in my garden so I am always looking for recipes to use it up as I hate wasting it. It is the easiest plant in the world to grow, needs absolutely no care or attention so if you have any space at all buy a couple of plants and you will have a supply year after year. Continue reading
Kickstart your day with this super breakfast, a perfect combination of goodness and taste which will keep you going right through until lunchtime. When my daughter was doing her Leaving Cert recently she often asked me to make this for her particularly on days where she had 2 exams. Now the exams are over and I have shown her how to make it she could not believe how simple it was. It is made the night before so the oats have time to steep in the milk, use a bowl if you are going to eat it at home the next morning or use a portable container to ‘grab & go’ if you want to bring it with you say going to work the next day. Traditional hot porridge is just not appealing during the Summer – this version is so much nicer. When I make it I don’t actually measure anything anymore and sometimes I use blueberries instead of raspberries or use a mixture of both. The ‘recipe’ (if you could call it that!)is adapted from one I saw originally in Derval O’Rourke’s book ‘The Fit Foodie’. Continue reading
I am calling these ‘Leaving Cert’ cookies! In our house at the moment it feels like we are all doing the dreaded Leaving Cert (once was enough!). The skills, time, support and patience required are not to be under estimated. We have now experienced two types of student – I don’t know which is worse! Mr ‘Laid Back’ who starts at 0% and works upwards towards getting a bare pass in all subjects – anything more is seen as unnecessary and a waste of energy! Then we have Miss Anxiety who is the opposite – works non-stop, starts at 100% and stresses about not knowing everything on the course in an effort not to lose marks. This is the one we are going through at the moment – counselling, chats, hugs, cups of tea, coffee, treats, the list goes on, all part and parcel of being a parent of a Leaving Cert student nowadays. Continue reading
You have probably guessed already that food is an obsession of mine and plays a kinda big role in my life i.e. if I am not eating it, I am thinking about it! Apart from needing it to stay alive, food can be important to people for many different reasons. For example in our house at the moment it seems that there is a never-ending conveyor belt of different meals required and it is quite the full-time job trying to think of what to feed everyone and keeping the fridge stocked (there is only 4 of us!!). Darling daughter (DD) is in study mode for the Leaving Cert so as well as needing food to keep her fit and healthy, food is a real source of comfort in a gruelling schedule and can often be the highlight of her day. Darling son (DS) plays Senior Football(Gaelic) for which he trains 6 or 7 times a week, needs large amounts of carbs and protein for energy, strength and recovery – he seems to be always foraging in the fridge! This ‘soup’ which is a meal in itself keeps everyone happy whether it is for lunch, pre or post training or for supper. My daughter adores it as do I, it tastes great and takes just 2 minutes to re-heat in the microwave. Perfect for taking to school or work and really easy to make.
Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 40 mins
150g (5oz) tinned haricot beans, drained & rinsed in cold water.
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 leeks, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 celery sticks, diced
75g pancetta / smoked bacon pieces
1 litre (1½ pints) chicken or vegetable stock
1½ tablespoons tomato purée
1 bay leaf
75g (3oz) tiny pasta shapes
Freshly ground sea salt & black pepper
Grated parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano or Gran Padano) to serve
How to make it!
- Chop / cut the pancetta into small pieces (approx. 2cm) – a scissors works best for this.
- Heat the olive oil in a pan
- Add the chopped onion, garlic, diced leeks, carrots & celery and the bacon pieces.
- Cook for 10 minutes over a low heat without colouring, stirring occasionally.
- Add the drained & rinsed haricot beans to the pan.
- Add the stock and tomato purée and bring to the boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer for 15/20 minutes until the vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally.
- Stir the pasta into the soup and simmer for another 10 minutes until tender, stirring frequently.
- Season to taste
- Serve with parmesan cheese grated over the top.
It’s been a busy few weeks with unfortunately little time for writing or blogging. My darling daughter (DD) is currently doing her Leaving Cert so blogging time has been taken over by ad hoc counselling, feeding, listening and tea making while LC mock exams were underway and various project deadlines loomed. In fairness DD is a very hard worker and the stress these kids are under is enormous so I try to do anything I can to help and food always works! I keep telling her that if you can get through the Leaving Cert you can deal with anything and will definitely have proven you can cope with pressure. That brings me to these skinny lemon cupcakes which are a perfect guilt-free treat for any occasion where comfort food is required and you can even have two at a time if you want! The recipe is from “The Hairy Dieters” i.e. from the Hairy Bikers. Continue reading
I thought I would post this recipe again as it is such a yummy dessert – an absolute winner, guaranteed to impress and have people asking for seconds. Perfect for a dinner party or a romantic dinner for 2 and because it is prepared in advance there is no stress on the night.
Imagine strawberries & cream, strawberry ice cream and meringue all combined into a delicious, beautiful ice cream cake. All you have to do when you want to serve it, is take it out of the freezer, leave it for about 5 minutes and decorate with some fresh strawberries. Don’t be put off by the length of the instructions as each step is really easy. I do this in two stages – make the meringues in the evening and leave them to dry out in the oven overnight (with the oven door ajar). Then the next day whip the cream, whizz the strawberries, mix it all together, scoop it into the tin and pop in the freezer.
You will need a 23cm (9in) diameter spring-form cake tin
Ingredients for meringues:
4 egg whites*
pinch of salt
300 g (11oz) caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Ingredients for the strawberry sauce:
200g (7oz) fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
juice of 1 lemon
50g (2oz) icing sugar
500 ml (18fl oz) regular cream
Preheat the oven to 140°C (275°F), Gas mark 1,
- Line two baking sheets with baking parchment or use two silicon baking sheets
- Place the egg whites in a large, spotlessly clean bowl, add the salt and whisk into soft peaks.
- Add the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking between each addition. Continue whisking until all the sugar has been added and the meringue forms stiff, glossy peaks.
- Using a large spatula or metal spoon, fold in the vanilla extract.
- With a tablespoon or dessertspoon, scoop up a heaped spoonful of the meringue mixture, then use a second spoon to scrape the mixture onto one of the lined baking sheets. Repeat with the remaining mixture, leaving a little room in between each meringue. (Note – the meringues are going to be broken up anyway so don’t worry if they are a bit uneven or messy looking!)
- Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes. (To test whether the meringues are ready, gently lift up one and press the base – it should be crisp but give way with a bit of pressure.
If possible, allow to cool down completely in the oven, with the heat switched off and the door slightly ajar.
- Transfer the cooked meringues to a wire rack – they will crisp up further as they cool.
- Line the cake tin with a double layer of cling film.
- In a food processor or blender, whiz the strawberries with the lemon juice and icing sugar
- Pour the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and discard the seeds left in the sieve. (You can get away without doing this, believe me, I have done it several times!)
- Pour the cream into another bowl and whisk into soft peaks,
- Crumble the meringue into the whipped cream and stir together to mix.
- Add the strawberry sauce, swirling it through the cream and meringue mixture.
- Tip the mixture into the lined cake tin and smooth the surface with a spatula.
- Wrap the tin in cling film and freeze for at least eight hours or preferably overnight.
To serve: Take the frozen cake from the freezer, unclip the tin and carefully lift out the ‘cake’. Remove the cling film from the sides of the cake, then use a palette knife or metal fish slice to carefully transfer the cake from the base of the tin to a serving plate. Cut into slices to serve, either on its own or with fresh strawberries.
*1 egg white weighs 25g or 1 oz