Saturday, 16 June 2018

Northern Irish Vegetable Soup

Some foods are so ingrained in your growing up that you don’t even notice them. Wracking my brain a few St Patrick’s days ago, I couldn’t think of any typical Irish/Northern Irish foods to make for the occasion. This would have been perfect, but for me it wasn't "traditional Irish fare" it was just what my mum used to cook for dinner in the winter.

So the other day I was really hankering for vegetable soup. Proper vegetable soup. I had a quick look on the online grocery stores for the soup mix packs which are ubiquitous in Northern Ireland. They basically have the mix of pulses or a mix of the vegetables needed. I couldn’t find any, so I did what any self-respecting Northern Irish girl would do – I called my mummy.

She knew what I needed, and I ended up buying the ingredients individually. But all that means is I have enough dry ingredients for so many future bowls of soup. Winner!

This is a very quick and simple dinner, all in you’re talking an hour for it to cook (with one instance of overnight soaking) and you can leave it to simmer away on its own for most of that.

I served mine like my mum does – with some shredded roasted chicken and some wheaten bread. I made the bread while the soup was cooking, because Irish bread is all about instant gratification – no rising time required.

makes 4 generous bowls of soup

Saturday, 9 June 2018

Passionfruit and Coconut Cake

Good weather calls for good cake!

And have I got a summertime treat for everyone. This is a kind of tropical version of the lemon curd cake I’ve posted previously. This just feels so summery and would be the perfect end to a fancy picnic. Fresh and zesty and nutty – and super easy to make!

Gather your ingredients, yo!

Passionfruit, coconut and sponge is just the best little trio you could ever imagine. Try it and then try to tell me I’m wrong.

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

Black Forest Gateau

I'm posting this well in advance of the weekend so you can use the week days to gather the ingredients. Because you will very much want to make this when you have a spare hour or two.

I never really knew what was going on with a Black Forest gateau. It sounded like a very dated 70s dessert to me, something you bought in the frozen section for a Sunday roast dessert. I don’ t really know where I got that impression from.

Because it’s basically a super chocolatey cake with booze and cherries and cream. It’s like a darker/autumnal version of a Victoria Sponge. The Germans do know what they’re at when it comes to chocolate, so I thought I would give it a go for my annual Eurovision party. Germany, represent!

I’ve basically gone with my favourite chocolate cake recipe for the sponge and altered it with the flavours of the Black Forest. Traditionally, the Germans love a stiff drink, so kirsch is the booze of choice. I didn’t have any of that, and I didn’t want to blow anyone’s head off, so I decided to substitute in what I had. Ginjinha is a sour cherry drink which is common in Lisbon, with lots of little places selling shots of it for a euro. It’s sweeter and less alcoholic than kirsch so it seemed like a nice introduction to the boozy cake.

If you’re doing a dry thing or making it for kids and don’t want to add booze, just substitute in more cherry juice.

You could also make this as a yummy set of cupcakes, I had leftovers of everything and so it was easy to whip up a couple..

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Greek Feta and Red Pepper Dip

In need of a little mid week treat?

You all know I have a complete love affair with Greek food. It is everything Irish food would be if we had a better climate, I think.

Dips from the shop never stand up to the ones you make yourself, and I always prefer to make my own. So when a dip is as easy to whip up as this one, you’ll never look back. Really, there’s no way to make this more complicated than throwing ingredients into a food processor.

Served with warm pita bread it’s a meal all of its own, but it is also delicious as a little side to a Greek feast.

And here's one I prepared earlier! Spanakopita, feta dip, and aoili.

Sunday, 13 May 2018


Or, Swedish Almond Caramel Crunch Delight Cake.

.. I'm still not great at names.

This is one of the nicest and most surprising cakes I've made in a while. I was a little skeptical about adding the topping midway through cooking, but I was so wrong. It was amazing. I'm kind of annoyed at my Swedish boyfriend for keeping the fact that this cake existed from me.

In making this cake I realised I don't have a larger cake tin, so mine is a little taller than traditional. I think it's supposed to be closer to the depth of a tart. I am going to have to hunt for a 9 inch loose bottomed cake tin now, but it was still very delicious.

I made this for my continental table of treats for Eurovision and it was a hit! It's really quite good as it is, but it would be delightful slightly warm with a little vanilla ice cream on the side. Or smothered in custard. Everything is better with custard.

Tuesday, 8 May 2018

Cherry Bakewell Loaf

It's the week after a Bank Holiday weekend, so I think we all need a little pick me up to get you through it.

And I have just the thing. This is a delightful little loaf. Perfect for an afternoon tea tray. It’s dense and nutty and not too sweet. I adapted this from a Nigella recipe, and I added a little extra sweetness (as is my wont) by drizzling some icing sugar on top to recreate the Bakewell Tart flavours I wanted.

I adore the individual components in a bakewell tart- the flaky pastry, nutty almonds, zingy cherries and sweet white icing, but they really sing when they’re all together.

But making a tart is kind of time consuming. And making a loaf cake is not. And sometimes you want (NEED!) something quick and sweet, but also homemade and lovely.

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

Oreo Brownies

I'm currently working night shifts, and I need this mid week pick me up..

Remember how much I love brownies? Well, I thought I had gotten to the end of the possible flavours and additions, but that would be like giving up, and I’m not a quitter!

Cheeky little surprise in store

Shoving Oreos in the middle of brownies is a revelation. It's not refined, or haute cuisine, but damn these taste good. 

It wasn’t easy initially to make, my first batch were really dry because I cooked them for far too long. I have learned and tweaked and I'm really happy with what we're at now. The next thing I want to do is make them with mint Oreos, (which are my favourite things in the whole world) because mint chocolate is my favourite flavour combination.