Yummy Custard Tarts

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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

Simple Scones


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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

Chocolate (cheat’s) birthday cake!

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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

Fresh Lemon Posset

Lemon Posset 1

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.

Serves 6

Preparation Time: 15 minutes

Chilling Time: 4-6 hours in fridge

Ingredients

500ml cream

140g caster sugar

¼ vanilla pod

Zest and juice of 2 lemons (preferably unwaxed*)

Method

  • 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.

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*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.

Gluten Free Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

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I have been dying to share this recipe with you and to urge you to give it a try – it’s delicious, moist, gooey, chocolatey flavour will beat many brownies and because it doesn’t contain any flour, it is super light. When I made this recently it disappeared so quickly I couldn’t believe it – it was voted right up there along with the Oreo Brownies from a previous post. This is saying quite something. Did I mention also how quick and easy it is to make? So what are you waiting for?!

The recipe was one published by Domini Kemp in her weekly section in the Irish Times Magazine and because she said it was voted one of her most popular recipes I decided that I needed to check it out. I was not disappointed, I guarantee you won’t be either, enjoy.

Serves 8

Preparation time : 15 mins

Cooking time : 30 minutes

Ingredients

50g / 2oz  cocoa powder
150g / 5oz dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
50ml / 2fl oz boiling water
150ml / ¼ pint olive oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
200g / 7oz soft brown sugar
3 eggs
150g / 5oz ground almonds
½ teaspoon bicarbonate soda
Pinch salt

Equipment : 22inch spring-form tin

Method

  • Line the tin with parchment paper
  • Turn oven on to 170° C / 325° F
  • Mix / blitz cocoa powder and dark chocolate in a food processor into little shards of chocolate
  • Add the boiling water and blitz again
  • Add the olive oil and vanilla extract
  • In a separate (large) bowl, beat the sugar and eggs with a beater until nice and thick – for at least 5 minutes
  • Add the chocolate mixture to it and beat until well mixed in
  • Fold in the dry ingredients (ground almonds, bicarb of soda and salt)
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 30 minutes

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Je suis en vacances!

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Yes, holidays have finally arrived. After the months of pretty much only swimming, eating, working and sleeping, myself and Mr HforT have headed off to the South of France for 10 days.  Wi-fi has been a bit patchy hence the late post. The weather here has not been as good as it has been at home in Ireland though so we have been spending time otherwise spent sitting in the sun checking out the French patisseries. Mr HforT is renowned for his sweet tooth so this is his kind of heaven. They sure know how to make cakes and pastries here, I don’t know how the French are not fat, it defies belief. There are 4 patisseries serving cakes and pastries like the ones in the picture within 100yards of our apartment in Antibes and there are queues every morning in them all with people buying bread and / or cakes.  The ones in the picture are the mini-pastries which are €1.20 each! Mini lemon tarts, lemon meringue pies, opera cakes, millefeuille, éclairs, fruit tarts, custard & raspberry tarts etc. Then they also sell all the same ones in the bigger /  normal size  for around €3 so if you really like one you can indulge big-time. I don’t normally eat much in the way of sweet things (dark chocolate excluded) as I prefer savoury, but these just cannot be resisted. They have just got to be tried. I cannot imagine why anyone here would bake at home when you can buy such exquisite sweet treats so readily. No wonder all the best pastry chefs train in France. I won’t be posting a recipe for any of these any time soon but I do have a fabulous recipe coming next for a gluten-free Chocolate Olive Oil cake which is worth waiting for. Bon vacances!

Caramel & Chocolate Blondies

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You have just got to try these beauties, voted by my regular testers here at home as better than my Oreo Brownies which is really saying something. As sweet treats go these are well up there and well worth making because they are just so yummy. What more can I say to convince you to give these deliciously sweet, buttery, chocolatey, caramel squares a go??!!   Continue reading

Buttermilk Panacotta with rhubarb

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Apologies to all my dear subscribers for the lack of a post last week –  I was swimming in Newry in the Ulster Masters – once you are over 19 years you qualify for Masters events! Oh to be 19 again! Swimming is something I did when I was a kid, thanks to my parents but I gave it up when I was 16 (over the hill in the swimming world!). I took it up again after watching the last Olympics when I was just past my 50th birthday and having a bit of a mid-life crisis. From initially swimming 3 times a week to relieve stress and get fit, I now swim / train 5 or 6 times a week and will be swimming in the European Masters Championships in the Olympic Pool in London at the end of May. So my life is all train, eat, sleep and work at the moment so forgive me if new posts are a little erratic in the next few weeks. In my wildest dreams would I have thought I would ever be able to do this and yes I am terrified but also excited. Continue reading

Macaroon Bars

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One of my favourite chocolate bars when I was a kid was a Macaroon Bar – shows my age! They are still available in some retro sweet shops and I bought one recently to see if they were still as nice. I was so disappointed and couldn’t believe that I had actually liked them, it was so sickly sweet. I decided then to have a go at making my own version which was surprisingly easy and ‘finger licking good’ if I say so myself!  To make them even more attractive they rock in at just 95 calories each, using natural sugars in the form of honey (or agave syrup) so they make a pretty guilt-free treat in my book!   I made them using dark chocolate with 74% cocoa solids – you can use any chocolate however the amount of honey / agave syrup you need will depend on how dark(% of cocoa solids) the chocolate is.  Continue reading

Dutch Apple Cake

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I think it’s fair to say that any apple dessert, cake or tart goes down well in my house and while I adore an apple tart I am pretty hopeless when it comes to making pastry so I only make them occasionally. (Promise I will share my most reliable tried and tested recipe for apple tart in a future blog post!).  This Dutch Apple Cake is an absolute winner – delicious, beautifully light, moist and fluffy and can be served warm with some cream, custard or ice cream for dessert or with a cup of tea or coffee.

The recipe is from the same book as last week’s Chocolate Biscuit Cake recipe (Darina Allen’s Easy Entertaining) – gosh did I enjoy that cake last week. At the end of a busy day I would wait until I was on my own, put the kettle on, make a mug of tea, cut a very small sliver of the cake and savour every mouthful. So, so good. Continue reading