Kids love...

The best chip dinner is made by mixing equal parts of mayonaise and melted butter with a clove of garlic, plenty of salt and pepper and grated cheese...Add to chips and eat!


Licken Chicken...

I've always had a vague hankering for what the Americans call 'Cobbler', I'd never eaten it before, but yet I knew, maybe from my previous life as an American pioneer (or are those memories of watching Little house?) that it would be hearty home food... to warm the cockles!

So when I saw a 'How to...' in my favorite food mag, I went for it...

My American readers may be falling around at this point, but remember in Europe things like Twinkies, Oreos and Cherry Coke are the exotic, the unknown... We don't have drive in movies, grits, diners, Cadillac cars, waitresses on roller skates, route 66, and all those lovely things that build America in my mind!  We have themed American restaurants like you may have Irish ones, but those menus are usually burgers and buffalo wings so the Cobbler, be it fruit or fowl, is a lovely idea of what an American mother may place on the table for her hungry crowd... It is foreign, it is different and I wanted to make it!

It was delicious, but I definitely went overboard on the peas, and it needed more cream...

But I got the idea, and will definately be perfecting this recipe...

I am writing this recipe from memory as I accidently gave the mag away without taking the recipe down so here is what I did, but my dear American friends might like to tell me how they might do it, so I can try again and hopefully come up with a more authentic cobbler!

Chicken Cobbler 

You'll need

4 large chicken thighs
100gms peas
2 leeks, chopped
1 onion, chopped
2 sprigs of thyme
Handful of parsley, chopped
200gms fresh cream
Half a stock cube

Fry the chicken, with the onions and leeks, in plenty of olive oil until brown all over.
Add the peas, and the cream and then crumble in the stock cube.  

Make the cobbler by mixing approximately 150gms of plain flour, 1 tsp of bicarbonate of soda and 80/100mls of buttermilk.  

Place the creamy chicken mix into an ovendish and plop handfuls of the cobbler mix on to the top.  Brush the cobblers with beaten egg.  Bake in a preheated oven until the chicken is cooked and cobbler nice and brown!

Soul Food!

I went to see Joan Baez on Saturday.
I have been a huge follower of Baez since I was a young girl, intrigued by the cover of her 'Baptism' album, and transported by the airy soprano and her stories and life lessons.  As an adult I am a huge folk fan, from Kate Rusby and Bert Jansch to Nick Drake and John Martyn, but the music of Joan Baez is more precious than any other to me, it has been the soundtrack to my life in many ways! So to get tickets and sit in the front row, inches from the legendary chantreuse herself, as she sang all my favorites was an amazing privilege.

I love Joan Baez, she is a great example of a strong independent woman.  She has never compromised her femininity in order to speak as loudly as the men.  She makes no bones about her views and told us straight who she'd be voting for, she sang some political numbers which have huge relevance for today, and some new songs written for these times we live in now... She did a fantastic Dylan impression which had us roaring with laughter, and sang Swing Low Sweet Chariot without her guitar, or any accompaniment, which was phenomenal.  

She was wonderful, so personable and with such rapport, there wasn't a dry eye in the house at times, and the laughter lifted the roof at others... but when she encouraged us to sing along with her to Amazing Grace, it was almost religious...
I didn't think it was possible to love her anymore than I have for most of my life... but it is!

Here is a snippet I shouldn't have recorded but I did...

Little Splodges

I usually have the various bits, required for this recipe, left over after baking for a birthday party or dinner party, and to be honest it is a curse that I cannot resist making them, because I will, invariably, end up eating most of them...!

Here, anyway, is my recipe for a refridgerator cake we like to call 'Little Splodges'

You'll need
150gms white chocolate
10 oz packet of digestive biscuits
100gms ground almond
100gms butter
A handful of chopped pecan nuts
A handful of marshmallow
Some dried berries (we favour strawberries)

Melt the butter and the chocolate together in the microwave or ban marie, leave to cool slightly before adding the marshmallow and then crush the biscuits to powder in your food processor or by hand and stir into the chocolate mix, add the almonds and crushed pecans and fruit. Plop spoons of this mix into cake cases and chill in the fridge for a couple of hours.
Tip - Don't eat too many - you may be so ill you have to go to bed.


A little bit of home...

"My mothers menu consisted of two choices... Take it or Leave it"*

This was kinda like my house! And you know what? I never opted for the second choice, not one day in my life... 
My Moms Macaroni...

You'll need
500gms fresh pasta shells
Tbsp of Plain flour
Large knob of butter
100 gms Grated Cheddar
100gms Grated Gruyere
250mls Milk
1 Tin of Tuna
4 Eggs (Soft boiled)
1 pkt of Cheese and Onion crisps...

Cook your pasta (I cook the eggs in this same pot) and put aside, then in the same pot melt the butter and add the flour to make a thick paste.  Add the milk and stir, adding the cheese in bits and pieces until you have a thick creamy cheese sauce.  Throw in the pasta, the tuna and season to taste.  

Serve with the eggs on the side and covered with crushed Cheese and onion crisps... Oh and a large glass of milk... there, really, is nothing like this combination...

*Quote - Buddy Herbert


Jelly on a plate!

As you know I love Limoncello, and I absolutely adore (roll your r's on that one) its sister Cremoncello (which is made by adding cream)... In fact I truly believe the latter to be the most perfect liquid in the world... 

So it follows that I might attempt some form of sweet from these delicious liquers...

I have plans for cakes, tortes, trifles and all sorts of conncotions  to be slathered with these delightful cellos, but for now here is a little quickie... an amuse bouche shall we say, a petit four...

Perfect for a quick dessert, can be whipped up in seconds, to amaze and please those lucky enough to sample it!

You'll need
1 packet of lemon jelly (Jello stateside!)
100mls boiling water
100mls Limoncello
150mls double cream

Melt the jelly in the boiling water until completely dissolved.  Add the limoncello and the cream, stir well and pour into moulds.  I filled 8 small moulds.

Leave in the fridge for at least 2 hours, preferably overnight and serve, alone, perhaps with some fresh fruit and a homemade biscuit on the side!


Bellini anyone?

I never looked into a formal recipe for Bellini cocktails, hearing that they were made up with champagne and peach pulp was enough for me to throw a few together as soon as I could... Oh delicious! 

But... not for everyone, for some the peach pulp proves too much visually, the little spots of it being swirled around in the fizz... for me thats the best bit, a food and a cocktail? Whats not to like?
So here is how I prepare Bellini cocktails... A Lá Lisa!

You need a glass of pink champagne, a spoon of pureed peach and a raspberry per cocktail.

Plop the pulp into a martini glass, pop in a raspberry and add the champagne carefully! 
Then drink it until its all gone, make another, do the same, and again... and again... and... and...


The Black Stuff...

Its hard to make a manly fairy cake, so when faced with the challenge for a recent birthday party, I knew beer had to come into it somehow.  I had recently bought Nigellas 'FEAST" which has a whole section on cakes, so I flicked through looking for inspiration, and there it was, a recipe for a Guinness cake! Beyond manly if you ask me, Guinness puts hairs on the chests of women! Nigellas recipe was for a cake, but its easy to adjust for fairy cakes, I usually just add a bit more flour if the batter is very damp, a cake can cope with a moist interior but a fairy cake? Not so much...

OH they were delicious!! So easy too! I love that!

Iced with philly cream cheese icing and they looked like little pints sitting there! I only wish i had taken the time to ice little harps on each - that would have been sweet!

Here is the recipe from Nigella Lawsons book, I might substitute the guinness for flavoured ale next time and see what happens!

Chocolate Guinness Cake

You'll need

250ml Guinness

250gm unsalted butter
75gm cocoa (I use Green and Blacks!)
400gm caster sugar
142ml sour cream
2 eggs 
1 tbsp real vanilla extract
325gm plain flour 
2 and a 1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda

Get your oven nice and hot, around 180oc, and prepare a tray with your cake cases.
Pour the Guinness into a large pan, add the butter in cubes, and heat until melted. Stir in the cocoa and sugar. Don't worry about lumps unless they're massive! Remove from the heat and in a separate bowl beat the sour cream with the eggs and vanilla and pour into the beer mix in the pan and finally whisk in the bicarb and flour. I left mine stand for a while, then filled the cases in my usual way (wondering is it enough, will it overflow, dropping a blob in the middle of the tray, and on the floor, all accompanied by a varying degree of my favorite curse words, most inherited from my mother, including the wonderful "sugery shite"...)

Bake for a snip of ten minutes, until a skewer comes out clean and pop onto a wire tray to cool completely before icing with a mix of 200gms Philidelphia cream cheese, 120mls double cream and 400gms icing sugar.  


Happiness is...

...getting an email to say you've won a Blogiversary Bash gift from Susan over at StickyChewyCreamyGooey!!! Thank you Susan!!!

Susans blog is one of my new favorites, I was coaxed over there after doing a food survey that had a link to her blog and I just couldn't get enough of her amazing recipes and food photos which would have saliva dripping off your chin, see my favorites here and here! Oh and here! Aren't they unbelievable! So she has become my hero, the blog I aspire to... the dishes I wish were mine!

So I was jumping for joy when I saw that I had won a gift for participating in her Blogiversary Bash!! I won a book on Food Photography which I cannot wait to receive and hopefully come closer to the pictures I aspire to take!! 

The Blogiversary Bash was great fun to take part in,  I brought my Pina Colada Cupcakes to the do, and they fit right in among the other amazing fare! Have a look here!
Thanks Susan, and Congrats on your first birthday!!!


What they ate!!

God only knows where it got its name, I've hunted around and found recipes for things "in a hole" dating back to the 1600s, pidgeon in a hole, game in a hole, all with the "hole" represented by batter of the yorkshire variety! So I deam that the 'toad' is anything but good meat, the bits and pieces you're left over with, the kind of things now stuffed into sausages.  An 1861 recipe calls for the cheapest meat you can find, the sausage of today!

Anyhoo... I've always loved Toad in the Hole, it amused me as a child with its endearing title, and it is probably one of the most satisfying meals to present to your hungry family, on a day which promising sun turned to wind and rain... those cold bitten cheeks in from the cutting outdoors turn cosy and red as they eat away...

I'm delighted to include this in my What they ate spot, and I am forsaking my own recipe for an 18th century one, taken from an 18th century cookbook called "The New Art of Cookery" by Richard Briggs 1792!

Make sure to always have plenty of mashed potatoes and hardy veg to go alongside!! 

Toad in a Hole.

Mix a pound of flour with a pint and a half of milk and four eggs into a batter, put in a little salt, beaten ginger, and a little grated nutmeg, put it into a deep dish that you intend to send it to table in, take the veiney piece of beef, sprinkle it with salt, put it into the batter, bake it two hours, and send it up hot.
[The new art of cookery, Richard Briggs; 1792].

You'll need
6 Sausages (or if you must a piece of veiney beef!!)
Knob of lard
4 eggs
750mls made up of approx half milk and half water
500 gms approx of plain flour
1/4 tsp salt and same of ginger and nutmeg

Whisk the milk, eggs, flour and spices together and leave to stand for at least an hour.  Put a knob of lard in a roasting dish and put into a hot oven, 220c to heat.  
In pan, melt another knob of the lard and fry the sausages for about ten minutes, until browned.  Check that the lard in the roasting tray is ready by dropping a teaspoon of batter  in, if it sizzles its ready.  Add the sausages to the tray and pour over the batter.  Replace straight back into the oven for about twenty minutes (not the two hours needed from a 1761 oven!) or until risen and golden.

Have everyone sitting around the table before removing from the oven, as it is at its most impressive while puffed up and steaming.  It will collapse into itself soon after, and you can slice it up like a tart and serve alongside mashed potato and veg!


Everythings Fudgy...

There is no time like birthday time! I was delighted when my best friends sister rang me to discuss an upcoming party in her honour as it meant I could get to that brownie recipe I've been meaning to tweak! I love Nigella Lawsons idea of serving piled up brownies instead of a traditional cake, with candles stuck in here and there... so I decided immediately to do that!

Only problem is, I'm not too pushed on the brownies from Nigellas recipe, they are a bit 'nneeah' for me... As you know I love the crowd pleaser, the 'oh goomph godff' that is spat through chocolate coloured teeth as my wares vanish into eager mouths...

So I tweaked and I twirped (?) and this is what I came up with...

These brownies are a little special, and I'll let you in  on my secret ingredient - chopped up mars bars!!! They melt and splodge all over the inner workings of what seems to be a garden variety brownie and surprise the eater with a mouth coating delicious moreish goo on biting in!!!

Try them... they will never let you down!!!

The "Can I Have Another" Chocolate FUDGE Brownie!

You'll need
250gms Butter
200gms Green and Blacks Cooks Chocolate (or any good dark)
250 gms Caster sugar
1 tsp Vanilla extract
100 grams of Mars Bar (Chopped into small pieces!)
100 grams Chopped walnuts
250gms Flour
A handful of glace or dried fruit, I used strawberries.
4 Eggs

Melt the butter, chocolate, and half the mars bar bits in your usual way (I use a thick bottom pan on a low heat) and when melted, leave to cool for a moment before adding the beaten eggs and the sugar. Add the flour and the extract and beat together.  Add the rest of the mars bar and the walnuts. 
Pour into a pan and sprinkle with raisins or, as I did, sun dried strawberries! Pop into a 180c oven for about 25 mins, or until the top is pale and cracking, but the centre still gooey.

Leave to cool completey in a block on a wire tray, then cut into squares and EAT THEM!!!


Ten on Ten!

I'm taking my ten on ten from photos I took earlier this month at the Electric Picnic festival in Co. Laois.  The place was buzzing and so vibrant I couldn't resist! Hope you enjoy them!


Mellow Yellow...

Ah comfort food, everyone has their favorite don't they? I have a million and one favorites - all stodgy, calorific and extrememly bad for me!!! My moms macaroni, steak and kidney pie, buttered bread with jam, chocolate pudding with extra chocolate, millionaires squares, chili con carne with plenty of sour cream, eggy bread with butter, sugar and cinnamon... oh dear! How on earth do I resist?
 Sometimes I wish I didn't enjoy cooking so much, its hard not to whip up a batch of scones when there is cream in the fridge and eat them all one after the other! I'm a "whole pack of biscuits with my tea" kinda gal, and that is why you will rarely find a biscuit in this house, they last all but five minutes!

Comfort food is rarely a salad (although a full fat chicken caesar is definatley a runner up!) never a piece of fruit  (unless encased in meringue) and absolutely rarely a raw vegetable! 

I have been watching what I'm eating for the last while, with my brothers wedding upcoming, and it has been difficult... the reason being that I find it impossible to make diet versions of anything, cheese on toast MUST be with doorstep bread, mature english cheddar, lashings of butter and a couple drops of worcestershire sauce! Whats the point in a burrito without sour cream, cheese, beans AND guacamole? Cream sauces MUST include CREAM!!! 
My friends often ask me how I am not fat as a fool, and although I'm no skinny malink, I have managed to maintain a figure of some description by running around after two children, always taking the stairs and eating regular portions, be they laden with the worst properties! I hope that including lots and lots of goodness in between the badness I will counteract it!  I have my cadburys fingers crossed!

Here is an all time favorite in our house, a comfort food that will have you tucked up in heaven as soon as its served, alongside buttered bread and lots of parmesan!

Easy Milanese!
You'll need
2 pints chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped 
1 sachet of saffron powder (or generous pinch of the real thing)
6 tbsp butter (Just do it!)
275g risotto rice
75g parmesan cheese (plus lots more for serving)
Salt and freshly ground pepper...

Bring the stock to the boil, remove from the heat and add the saffron, leave to infuse. Melt half the butter in a saucepan until foaming, add the onion and stir for about 5 minutes, until translucent.  Add the rice and stir in the butter until the grains start to swell a bit then add some stock.  Stir over a medium heat, allowing the rice to absorb the stock before adding more.  Stir constantly, for about 20 minutes until the rice is done, with just a little bite.  Stir in the parmesan and  the rest of the butter.  Season and serve!!


Dear oh dear...

I was dying to make another medieval dinner, especially after watching a feast scene in 'The Tudors' so I looked through the recipes and came across "Beef Stekyes" - beef steak! I noticed though, that it was a stuffed steak concoction and thought it was worth a shot.  I prepared it all, cooked it and carved it up to eat, only to discover the steak I had purchased was tough as hell, practiably inedible! Most of it went to the dog! I had flown across to the supermarket and as usual, the meat was rubbish quality in comparison to the local butcher. 

Oh how I hate it when that happens, its such a pain in the backside, especially when you hear the sad toned "its not that bad" coming from your family as they break their teeth and bend their forks.

The stuffing however, was delicious and well worth making again, this time with better quality meat! It was really unusual, with a spicy sweetness that has been forgotten for likes of 'sage and sausage' on every table!
It looks a bit green in the picture, whereas in reality it was a yellow beige colour!

I'm going to give you the recipe for the stuffing, which I have noted they also stuff into mutton!

Stuffing for Steak!

Take raw percely and oynyonys smal-y-scree, and yolkys of Eyroun sothe hard, and marow or swette and hew alle thes to-geder smal; and take croms of white bread and bray them to-geder smal, than caste ther on poudere of gyngere amd saffroun tolle hem to-gederys.

You'll need
A handful of fresh parsley 
1 cup of breadcrumbs
1 tsp ginger
Pinch of saffron
1 cup of mashed turnip
2 eggs, mashed
1 onion, chopped finely

Mash everything together in a bowl and spread on a large steak, roll and tie together, then roast in a hot oven until the meat is to your liking.  Serve sliced with creamed leeks and some mashed turnip on the side.


What they ate!

"Over-riding all these trifling discomforts was the non-stop foraging by the housewife to provide some variety in her family's meals. I cannot recall ever being literally hungry, but the country had been reliant upon imports, which were now impossible because of the sea blockade. Everything was scrupulously rationed and we ate some strange things to supplement our diet.

Tea tablets were used to make the tea look stronger; babies' dried milk or 'National' milk was added if it could be obtained; and saccharine was used as a sweetener. Some even resorted to using honey or jam. What a concoction - but we drank it. Bread was heavy and a dull grey colour, but it, too, was rationed - so we ate it.

Sweets were devised from a mixture of dried milk and peppermint essence with a little sugar or icing sugar if available. Grated carrots replaced fruit in a Christmas or birthday cake, while a substitute almond paste was made from ground rice or semolina mixed with a little icing sugar and almond essence. Dried egg powder was used as a raising agent, and this same dried egg could be reconstituted and fried, yielding a dull, yellow, rubbery-like apology for the light and fluffy real thing - but there was nothing else, so we ate it.

Bean pies and lentil rissoles provided protein to eke out our meagre meat ration, and the horse-meat shop, which previously had sold its products only for dogs, now bore a notice on some of its joints occasionally, 'Fit for Human Consumption'. This horse-meat was not rationed, but it did have to be queued for and sure enough eventually it appeared on our table. It had to be cooked for a long time and even then it was still tough. Nevertheless, it did not get thrown out.

In complete contrast, one highlight for me was the coming of spam from America. It was an oasis in our desert of mediocrity; an elixir in our sea of austerity. It seems to me that it was meatier, juicier, and much tastier than it is now. (Tricks of memory again, no doubt.) We ate it in sandwiches; we ate it fried with chips; cold with salad; chopped in spam-and-egg pies, until, of course, it ceased to provide the variety we longed for, but I never tired of it." 

- Anne Butcher

So back in time again, we go! This time to the 1940s, with war raging all around, and the British and Irish governments issuing ration books to households around the country! 

I did a bit of research, along with dipping into my ration cookbook, and, not being able to find any Spam for sale in our local supermarket, decided on Corned Beef instead and to make some sort of hash.  Its something I cook myself, with fresh corned beef and plenty of potatoes, so I was intrigued as to how they would have made it in a time when there was few onions, hardly any potatoes and tins of meat! 

So this is the recipe I chose, as it was one which the ingredients were available in war time, and it was a bit unusual and fancy, often served on a Sunday!!

Layered Hash
You'll need
Twelve thin slices of corned beef
1 small green cabbage
2 leeks
2 tins of haricot beans
Half a pint of gravy (Made from bisto!)
1 tsp english mustard

Fry the cabbage and leeks in a small bit of oil until soft.  Then layer the greens, beans and slices of corned beef in a lasagne dish. 
 Mix the mustard with the gravy and pour over the top.  Bake for 1 hour in a medium hot oven.  

This was a lovely meal, hot, comforting and very tasty.  I'd imagine, with the little they had in wartimes, that taste came before anything in the meal stakes! 


Soul Food!

Those of you who have been reading our other blog will know that our little darling Joe is car mad.  So it is fitting that his first word be 'Car'!! I had my phone nearby so managed to capture his first proper word (apart from whasdas?) earlier today... 

My heart!