Sunday, 6 May 2012

Toasted coriander seed, Dulce du leche truffles

Doesn't looking at that picture make you want to pop one in your mouth and let it slowly melt on your tongue? Maybe it's just me but I am a resolute chocoholic. These little chocolate rock are completely soft and gooey, more like a ganache than a fully solid truffle. The coriander seed works surprisingly well, its warm and citrus flavours mingle with the sweetness of the dulce du leche and the chocolate just tops it off. Pop a couple on a plate and have with a coffee or a glass of red wine. Purely indulgent but totally satisfying. 

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Honey, Manchego bread parcels

These babies started with a visit to Sheridans Cheesemongers  on South Anne Street in Dublin. Firstly I was hit by the smell, almost damp and papery, but not unpleasant. It's a tiny space, crammed to the rafters with different cheeses all set out on display, where you can nibble on wafery slices that the staff will shave off the huge mounds. I had a look at the different jam accompaniments, saw the huge amount of work that seemed to be going on in a room tucked away behind the till, and went for a young Manchego. (It was six months old, the older one was eighteen months I think). It was mild, fruity, slightly grainy but delicious and perfect with the sweetness of honey.

I wasn't sure what to do with it at first, and my wedge had become the size of a waxy coin by others repeated trips to the fridge. While baking bread, I decided to use it for just that. These are great little mobile snacks, you could bring them on a picnic, lunch, on the bus, whatever. They're mildly sweet, with the tang of the cheese thrown in.

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Weekend treat: Three chocolate and Baileys cheesecake

 This past while, I've garnered a whole new respect for pastry chefs, confectioners, chocolatiers, generally sweet makers all round. They are true masters in the kitchen and I've learnt this through my culinary failures lately and so a little gap in the blog. I've still been cooking away, but the grand ideas that I've had in my head, haven't been so easy to put into practice. 

I've tried several versions of vegetarian marshmallows, so no gelatine, instead various incarnations of carageenan. While they all tasted beautifully sweet and delicious, no matter what I did, I couldn't get them to set. Any tips greatly appreciated! Instead I froze the mixture and got a tasty, if kind of chewy, ice cream. Then for Easter, I tried to make a chocolate egg, bought a thermometer and tried to temper the hell out of that chocolate. Did it work? Not for me!

I was about to give up on anything sweet, when I hit upon a cheesecake idea for my mother's birthday. We all went around to her house and cooked a three course meal and this was the dessert. Of course, I didn't give it long enough to set, so didn't get to try it, but reports were that it was delicious the next day. So I made another mini one to try and here it is. Although, I think I may stay away from sweet things for a while. 

This is lucious, creamy, light and refreshing all at the same time. You'll want to go back for spoonful after spoonful, so it's a little dangerous! Keep for a little treat or a weekend pick me up and you'll be fine!



400g bourbon biscuits
270g butter
500g ricotta
 300ml creme fraiche
2 tsps caster sugar
150g good quality white chocolate, broken into small pieces
100g milk chocolate
4 tbsps Baileys cream liqeur

Start by lightly greasing a 12 inch spring form cake tin. Crush the bourbon biscuits either in a food processor or the old fashioned way - plastic bag tightly sealed and a rolling pin or other heavy object and have at it!. Melt the butter over a low heat and combine with the biscuits. Mix well to make sure the bourbons are well coated. Line the base of the cake tin with the biscuit mixture, pressing down with the back of a spoon. Try to cover every part, leaving no holes in the base of the cake. Pop in the fridge to chill for 30 minsutes to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, whisk the creme fraiche until light and fluffy and gradually add in the ricotta, whisking all the time. Melt the white chocolate, I find the microwave is easiest when dealing with white chocolate. Adjust the power setting to about 60% for 1 1/2 minutes, take out and stir to make sure it is completely melted. Let it cool a little and then beat in with the caster sugar.

Roughly chop the milk chocolate, reserving a little for shaving to top the cheesecake. Fold in the milk chocolate gently. When the base has set, remove from the fridge and pour the cheese mixture into the tin. Spread it evenly around the tin. Chill in the fridge for 8 hours or overnight. Next day you've got yourself a crunchy, creamy, kicking cheesecake. 



Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Orzo, coriander pesto and grana "brulee" with blood orange and fennel seeds

Today, I had a few blood oranges left in a dwindling fruit bowl and a bunch of coriander screaming to be used up. Wondering what to do with these beauties, I saw the cheeky glimmer of the packet of orzo hidden in the cupboard, and hey presto, here is the result. Inspired by the classic creme brulee, this is a savory take on it.

This is actually really quick to make, so perfect for the days when you're craving something a litttle different but don't want to spend hours in the kitchen. Also I'm trying, but not necessarily succeeding, to eat more lightly. With Spring having timidly slipped in, like a kid in the back of the class that's always late. It's arrived but not too sure of itself. I also haven't been too sure about what to eat, Some days it has been quite warm, then today, hailstones! So this is a good compromise, warming and refreshing.

Monday, 26 March 2012

5 uses for those leftover egg yolks and whites

If you're a baker, then oftentimes you'll be left with an extra egg yolk or two, or if a recipe needs just the yolks, you'll have a shellful of whites on your hands. Don't waste those eggy parts, here's 5 ways to use them up. 

Use the egg whites for:

  • Meringues
  • Macarons  (David Lebovitz)
  • Tuiles
  • Marshmallows - I'm working on a vegetarian version, shall report back!
  • Royal icing

And the yolks?

Friday, 23 March 2012

Sweet potato, chilli and lemongrass soup

I was pondering the soup possibilities yesterday with what I had in the cupboard. The giant sweet potatoes with the pink, woody skin seemed to speak to me. Add in the kick of a chili and the calming presence of lemongrass and we've got a killer soup. Not literally unless you add too much chili maybe. This is sweetly filling, serve white a white crusty bread. 


1 medium sweet potato,
3 shallots,
1 red chilli, deseeded,
1 lemongrass stalk, diced finely,
1 1/2 litres vegetable stock
2 tbsps olive oil
Salt to taste

Start by getting the oven on at 180C. Peel and cube the sweet potato and chop the shallots roughly. Add both to an oven-proof dish, drizzle over the olive oil and pop in the oven for 30 minutes or until just tender. 

Add the vegetable stock, sweet potatoes and shallots, chili and lemongrass to a large pot. Simmer gently for 15- 20 mintes and season to taste. Blend with a stick blender and it's ready to serve. A dollop of colloing Greek yoghurt is delicious on top

Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Simply healthy: Yoghurt breakfast

This is a simple breakfast, but your body will thank you for the healthy kickstart to get going. The scents of the fruits alone were enough to wake me up and transport my mind to paradise beaches instead of grey skies. We can all dream. This will help keep the dream alive before you have to squash onto a packed train for the morning commute. Bonus is it won't take more than 5 minutes.  


Serves 1

1 bowl of Greek yoghurt
Pulp and seeds of 2 passion fruit
1/4 of blood orange, diced
1 tbsp honey

This recipe couldn't be any simpler. Slice the passion fruits in half and sccoop out the flesh and seeds and add to the yoghurt. Dice some of the blood orange and add that to the bowl. Drizzle over the tbsp of honey and swirl everthing together. You could also add some sunflower or flax seeds for extra crunch if you like.

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