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 have only to look at the colours in this dish to get a nice warm feeling and that it would fit the bill perfectly for lunch on a cold Winter’s day. I made this dish to bring to work for my lunch and I got two of these containers so 2 days’ lunches were sorted. I really like to try and bring my own food to work for at least 2/3 days a week from a healthy eating point of view and also from the cost point of view – I can easily spend €50 a week on good coffee and bad sandwiches! An added bonus is that the ingredients (apart from the fresh coriander) are either store cupboard ingredients i.e. coconut milk, tinned chickpeas or vegetables that have a good shelf life i.e. sweet potato, butternut squash, onion, garlic. These are ingredients that I would always have in the press because they are so versatile and can be used in lots of dishes. This stew is vegetarian and vegan so can go towards one of your weekly meat-free meals.
Preparation time: 10/15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 mins
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 tsp ground turmeric
1 tbsp curry powder
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
½ butternut squash, skin / seeds removed and diced
400ml vegetable stock
1 x 400ml tin coconut milk
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Large handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
- Place a large pan over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Add the onion, season with salt and pepper and sauté gently for 6-8 minutes until tender.
- Add the garlic, turmeric and curry powder and cook for a further 2 minutes
- Add the sweet potato and butternut squash chunks and stir until coated in the spices
- Pour in the vegetable stock, coconut milk and chickpeas
- Bring back to a steady simmer and cook for 15 minutes or until the vegetables are just tender.
- Check the seasoning, stir through the coriander *and serve ( could also be served with rice to make a larger meal of it)
*If you are making this like I was to bring to work don’t stir in the coriander until you are re-heating it.
Finally nearly all the coughs, colds and ‘flu are gone and finally I can look beyond tomorrow and think of what the year ahead might bring (while at the same time being very grateful for the many, many good things that happened in 2016.) This year I am going to do something I never normally do which is set a few goals. The very first thing / goal on my list is to conquer my obsession with lists and notes on yellow post-its which then seem to breed and multiply and can be found in my handbag, on my desk at work, on my kitchen counter, on my bedside locker, coat pocket …..you get the idea! Lists of stuff to do, food to buy, people to call, bills to pay etc etc. Continue reading
Happy New Year to each of you and I hope that you are all looking forward to some good and interesting things in 2017. Most of all I wish you all good health for yourselves and your loved ones. Our house has been riddled with all forms of colds, ‘flu, coughs and sore throats for the last 3 weeks and my poor Mum has been in and out of hospital and has had an utterly miserable Christmas and New Year. So my very first New Year’s resolution of 2017 will be to appreciate good health whenever it arrives (and I dearly hope it will be soon!) It will be no surprise then that the first recipe of the year is a cold remedy! Continue reading
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
I just love my breakfast, always have, it’s one meal I never ever skip. I love to vary my breakfasts too so in any week I could have poached eggs, bacon & mushrooms (usually after my morning swim), scrambled eggs (with spinach or smoked salmon), porridge with fruit. At the weekend though I look forward to something even tastier. If I happen to have a ripe avocado I will have smashed avocado on sourdough toast with a poached egg and / or chorizo or a real treat for me is this delicious granola with Greek yogurt and fruit. It is so easy to make (you don’t need any cooking skills whatsoever) – basically toss all the dry ingredients (nuts, seeds & desiccated coconut) with olive oil and honey and bake in the oven for 20/30 minutes. Continue reading