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
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
You won’t believe the operation that went into photographing these tarts! I like to take my own photos for each recipe that I post and each recipe is one that I have made recently so I can write about them while they are fresh in my mind. At this time of year food photography is really challenging because of the shortage of daylight. So, to give you an example – I made the tarts in this photo on a Sunday evening, it was too late in the day to take photos so in order to be able to take the photos the next day I first had to hide the tarts so they wouldn’t be eaten! On Monday then I ran in the door from work around 4pm, took over the kitchen and basically had about 30 mins to whip out the tarts to try and get some decent shots. I needn’t tell you I was getting some funny looks while this was going on! Sometimes I would take about 40 photos before I even have one or two I am happy with and sometimes they are all rubbish which can be really annoying. If I don’t get a decent shot the trouble is the food is eaten and I have to start all over again! Continue reading
Over the years I have never really mastered the art of making perfectly formed scones in terms of their size and shape. Luckily though, despite their imperfections they have been beautiful and delicious on the inside (just like ourselves!). Now, I no longer beat myself up about not being able to make the ‘perfect’ scone , instead I take comfort in the fact that there are rarely any left just 24 hours after coming out of the oven! Continue reading
My daughter Aoife turned 18 recently (so how did that happen?) – she was celebrating with some of her friends and I was tasked with making the cake. I was all set to make a fancy cake with lots of butter, eggs, dark chocolate, soured cream etc and then decorate it. I was stressing about it in the office that week at work when one of the girls in the office questioned why I was going to such trouble for a bunch of teenagers and why not use a cake mix out of a packet instead! Horror of horrors to the ears of someone who makes a point of making everything from scratch however the more I thought about it the more I thought that perhaps this was actually a brilliant idea. Continue reading
Time was at a premium last weekend so I was looking for a tasty quick dessert to have for dinner on Sunday. This Lemon Posset fitted the bill perfectly, quick and easy to make with a light creamy delicious fresh lemon flavour. This recipe is adapted slightly from one that was part of a wonderful 3-day course I did in The Tannery Cookery School in Dungarvan last Summer.
Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Chilling Time: 4-6 hours in fridge
140g caster sugar
¼ vanilla pod
Zest and juice of 2 lemons (preferably unwaxed*)
- Put the cream, sugar and vanilla pod into a saucepan and bring to a simmer
- Add the lemon juice and zest and whisk well.
- Bring the mixture back to a simmer for 20 seconds while stirring constantly.
- BEWARE : DO NOT LET THE MIXTURE BOIL OR IT WON”T SET !
- Take off the heat and pour into glasses or little cups.
- Cool and put into a fridge for 4-6 hours to set.
*It is relatively easy to remove the wax coating from a citrus fruit. Put the fruit in a colander and pour over water from a recently boiled kettle or rinse the fruit under a hot running tap. Scrub the fruit all over with a stiff brush, such as a vegetable brush, under a cool running tap but try not to use a brush or scrubbing sponge that you use for dishes as this could cause some soap residue to get on to the fruit. Rinse the fruit thoroughly with cold water and leave to dry, or dry with paper towels.