Saturday, 27 December 2014

MINCE PIES! Sleigh Bells Ringin'

Christmas a-go-go.

Yes, I know it’s over,  but I desperately cling to the remnants of Christmas like I’m falling off a wintery cliff. My tree is still up, sweets are still under it, and goddamn I’m still eating the ham from Christmas day. I’m wearing a Christmas jumper right now, for Chrissakes.

And so, my blog will be festive right until my tree is wilting and the snow is melting. Bring it on!
I really like my enhanced mince pies, the extra zest is killing it, and the almonds really adds something to the pastry. Delectable.

Makes 12

Monday, 22 December 2014

Gingerbread Men - 100th Post Christmas Special!

Let’s hear those sleigh bells ringing!

I love Christmas. Christmas really and truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I love that everywhere gets decked out with lights, I love singing Christmas songs, I love watching Christmas movies with loved ones, and I most especially love cooking Christmas treats.

Christmas, for me, is a time for tradition and comfort, I like watching the same films and wearing the same dodgy jumpers. I also like eating the same things! Having said that, I am always on the lookout for things to add to my festivities: Four years ago I saw It’s a Wonderful Life for the first time, and now it is an unmissable part of the season for me.  Three years ago, my boyfriend and I traipsed to IKEA in Christmas jumpers and got meatballs and a whole bunch of Julmust, and now we do it every year. Even just last year was the first time I’d made ham in coke, and now it has been added to my festive menu!

I’ve never had that “perfect” recipe for gingerbread.. Until now. And wouldn’t you know it, Mary bloody Berry strikes again! I was initially sceptical about the recipe, I’ve never added syrup to a biscuit recipe, but damn it was good.

I’ve made a few adjustments to the spicing, just to amp it up a notch.  Her recipe also was for larger gingerbread people, wheras I’ve gone with a mix of teeny Christmas shapes and the larger people. The small Christmas shapes were a present from my mum and are my new exact favourite thing.

To me, the smaller ones are very similar to Swedish “pepparkakor” in that they are dark, crisp and spiced. The larger ones are that gorgeous, chewy gingerbread cookie that is just delectable.

Monday, 15 December 2014

Chinese Chicken Drumsticks

I’ve always been a big fan of food you can eat with your hands.

Cutting out the middle-man so to speak.

I also very much enjoy sprinkling sesame seeds EVERYWHERE.

So these drumsticks and I are a match made in heaven. They’re especially good for parties this festive season, because they can be easily prepared in advance, don’t require much attention when cooking, and taste great whether eaten hot or old. Cold allows for faster gluttony, though.

Another life motto.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Almond Pesto

So, before I became OBSESSED with hummus, I was obsessed with pesto. And I still am. The best pesto I have ever had was from a little stall in Ballycastle, Northern Ireland. The guy had a strong accent, and a table full of pesto-wonderfullness. It was dark green, intensely flavoured, and beautifully oily. I dream about it sometimes.

The great thing about pesto is that it is incredibly simple to make as long as you have a food processor.  I really think that a decent food processor is an absolute must in any kitchen these days. I got mine at least 7-8 years ago and it is still going strong!

Interestingly it uses almonds instead of the more traditional pine nuts. But in my experience almonds are easier to find in a shop and usually cheaper. My next pesto attempt will be the more traditional pine nuts, and I have a feeling that I will have a lot of fun experimenting!.

Sunday, 7 December 2014


Lets go nuts, for donuts! 
Little mini donut holes

OMG, I love donuts. Is there anything that makes people smile more than a pile of donuts, getting your fingers sticky from the sugar-crusted goodness?

I had to give these a go, because I was procrastinating other things. Plus, I’ve never made donuts before and I wanted a challenge. They are not difficult, I swear. You just need some patience and common sense around boiling oil.

Everyone who knows me knows that mint and chocolate is my FAVOURITE. And I think part of the reason for that is because it reminds me of Christmas. Yes, orange and cinnamon and nutmeg and cloves are traditionally Christmassy flavours, but for me, it is all about the mint: After Eights, mint matchmakers, that minty box of Thornton’s chocolates. I never eat those unless they’ve been sitting under a Christmas tree for AT LEAST a week.

So, that’s why I’m serving up some mint chocolate realness. But just after I had finished making them, I had the bright idea that I could have put some cinnamon in the sugar coating and rolled the donuts in that. Next time.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Spaghetti Bolognese

Do you ever get that awful, embarrassing to the pit of your stomach feeling when you realise that you have been spelling something incorrectly your entire life? Well that just happened to me. I really didn’t know how to spell Bolognese.. I could cook it. But spelling apparently eluded me until, well, this post. Oops.

The "before" picture

Aaaaanyway. I'm totally over that, because it is closing in on Christmas, my tree is up, lights are twinkling, the nights are long and full of terror cold, and everything is feeling festive. And that makes me want to cook comforting deliciousness.

I will say that this is, hands down, the best bolognaise I have ever eaten. Throw out all your jars of pre-made sauce RIGHT NOW. Because this is pretty much as easy, and a million times tastier. The thickness of the sauce and the depth of flavour just combine to make the most delicious plate of food I’ve had in ages.  And the copious amounts of parmesan don’t hurt.. Mamma mia!

** UPDATE 12/6/16. I make this all the time. Probably fortnightly. If you want to double the recipe, then double the meat and vegetable bits, but I've not had success doubling the liquid parts too - it makes it far too watery. I'd go for 100ml wine, 250ml beef stock and 250ml pasatta. And initially cook for 45 minutes and then lid off and continue to cook for 25 minutes.

Saturday, 22 November 2014


Or, as my Swedish boyfriend call it, less appetisingly, “sludge cake.”

We are getting really close to the Christmas season now, and I am *this* close to putting up my tree. I have subtly been putting out decorations over the last few days, enough that it looks festive, not enough that my boyfriend notices. Sly! My iPod is filled with Christmas songs, and I'm feeling jolly!

This is a perfect winter-time cake for me. It’s dense, chocolatey and really rich, so you really only need a sliver ("What, are you afraid you're gonna run out? Cut me a real piece!"). And it goes perfectly with ice cream, as that really undercuts the rich chocolate flavour. We only had vanilla in the freezer (first world problems), but I’d love to try it with some cinnamon or caramel ice cream. Full disclosure, it isn't the prettiest cake. But damn, if it doesn't taste amazing.

Adapted from the delectable (but oddly-named) Swedish baking blog: Call Me Cupcake

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Chilli Chicken Enchiladas

Shortly after, I eated this.

Good God, you say, has she found another way to shred some meat and cook it with Mexican spices, wrap it up and eat it?

Yes. Yes, I have. I shall never stop searching for tasty ways to eat meat in a tortilla with guacamole. NEVER!

So, the cold weather is setting in, it's dark when I leave home and dark when I leave work. These are my perfect winter-warmers.

Remember I said life was too short to peel a roasted pepper? I take it back. This original recipe used “hatch chillis” which is something I just couldn’t find in the UK. *shakes fist* So I improvised with peppers and chillies and it was delicious.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Deep-fried Chilli Prawns


I am going to preface this with what I said to my boyfriend just before I started cooking it: “If this goes terribly wrong, can we order takeout?”

So, this is way out of my comfort zone. I don’t normally deep fry anything and I’ve never cooked a prawn before IN MY LIFE.  So this is one of those, if *I* can do it, then anyone can! Though as a caveat, please be careful when deep frying. You do NOT want to get spattered with hot oil. It will burn you a lot, it is not a toy.

I just used the easiest prawns I could think of for my first foray: peeled, de-veined, cooked, frozen prawns. Simple! Next time, now that I have the technique down, I might get the real deal prawns. But these were bite-size, spicy, crispy balls of deliciousness!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Peppermint Squares

Okay, so, I have been looking forward to making this post for a while. The following recipe is, without compare, my absolute favourite thing that I make.  They really, really remind me of my favourite (and sadly discontinued) childhood biscuit - the Mint Yoyo. 

I like these so much that I can only make them with the express intention of bringing them somewhere to share with people, otherwise I will eat them ALL. In one day. And then I feel ill. And keep eating.

There was a time when I lived back in Belfast that I made these weekly. Even now, if I turn up to a family event without them I am SHUNNED. “Where are the peppermint squares?” they’ll say, with disappointment and simmering rage.

So, with that humble build up..

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Creamy Bacon Pasta with Green Bits

This is one of my favourite midweek dinners, it takes a few minutes to whip up, uses ingredients I always have hanging around, and tastes delicious! We had it after a quick gym session, protein BRAH, and it was perfect. I feel like Jamie Oliver with my 10 minute supper.

It is infinitely adaptable for whatever you’ve got in the fridge. I really like it with leek and peas, but you could probably stir in some spinach or green beans instead of the peas. I just love peas. You may not.


Thursday, 30 October 2014

Red Pepper Hummus

I could very easily eat hummus for every meal. It is my standard lunch (with a tortilla wrap) and I bring it to any party I go to.

Of course, it took me forever for me to find tahini paste, and in the mean time I did a very lovely peanut version. But one day, in my local random Asian corner shop (we’ve all got one!) I stumble upon tahini paste (and cayenne pepper, and coconut oil.. *hyperventilates*). The clouds parted and my heart sang!

That is seriously how much I love hummus.

Have you ever tried to roast and peel a pepper? I have. It is doable but fiddly and pretty annoying. And that is where jarred roasted peppers come in.  Should be simply found in any supermarket, they are a lifesaver and make this recipe ridiculously easy. And you all know I love a quick recipe that I can then shove in my mouth.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Salami Croque Monsieur

I love France. I love the weather, the fashion, the people , and most importantly the food. French people get food. They make flavourful food, and spent the time enjoying it. I may have caused a few French strokes with my bastardised version of their classic ham and grilled cheese sandwich.

I love a traditional croque monsieur, with ham and whacking slices of freshly made bread. But, needs must, and sometimes you want an indulgent sandwich with just the ingredients in the cupboard and fridge. 

Truth be told, I was pretty keen to make my own bread, but I didn’t have time. So I substituted in the thick granary bread, and decided to spice things up Italy style, with some strongly spiced sliced meats instead of the ham. You would be perfectly welcome to slice up some sourdough and use ham instead of pepperoni/salami.

I had mine with soup. And I was so happy.

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Apple and Marzipan Pie

Jaysus, I love baking.

And pastry is just one of my favourite things to do. I don’t do it very often due to laziness, but there is something incredibly therapeutic about the whole process. And when the finished product comes out well, then it is one of the most satisfying things in the world, to me.

I would definitely credit my affinity for pastry to my Nanny Margaret. She does a mean apple pie. It is one of my earliest memories of “proper” cooking, getting my grubby little hands stuck into a bowl of flour and butter, and rubbing to get the breadcrumb consistency. My nanny always distracted me with a separate little bit of excess dough to roll out and play with while she got on with the serious business of actually making the pie.

This is a riff on her traditional pie, with a sweet and almondy marzipan base that the apple slices sit on top of. I added a ton of cinnamon, because it’s coming into autumn, and my favourite autumnal flavour combination has got to be apple and cinnamon.

I really wanted to do a fluted edge, but I am not very dextrous, in fact I’m a bit ambisinistrous (the proper word for being cack-handed). So I need to look up some tutorials before I attempt that mess again.

Makes one decent sized pie

Saturday, 11 October 2014


Or, food from HOME!

This is the perfect weekend treat. For me, if I close my eyes while eating these, I feel like when I open them again I'll be sitting in my local coffee place in Belfast. 

This is something they don’t really do in England, as I found out when I brought these to work. This is a Northern Irish staple sweet treat. And not a potato in sight! The are super popular to make at home with children because there's no heat involved (and it gets messy!). Every Northern Irish person will remember making these (and Mars bar buns!) as a kid. A home economics class staple.

The name comes, unsurprisingly, from the number of each ingredient needed! So it’s the easiest recipe in the world to remember and make. Sweet as anything, and like totally healthy because of the cherries. Ahem.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Beer-cooked Pulled Pork Tacos with Avocado Cream


Taking a little break from the sugary sweet theme that the blog has had for the last forever, with some savoury perfection.

So, I am making it my mission to find and make that *perfect* recipe from all my favourite cuisines. I’ve nailed Japanese: DAT RAMEN. I’ve kicked ass for Swedish desserts.

And now.. Mexico, it's ON. 

These tacos are the best things I’ve eaten in a long time, and one of the best things to come out of my little old kitchen. It is incredibly simple, you brown the meat, then saute the veggies, make a spicey sauce with beer and broth, and then stick that whole mess in the oven. Then it’s just tearing the meat, reducing the sauce, mixing and serving. And then commence a food coma.

The avocado cream is simple, smooth, flavourful and awesome. It also stays green for AGES! No browning guacamole style disappointment here!

I would make this every day of the week. I recently saw a guy at a barbeque place (where you can pretty much find me skulking around at any time) with these awesome gloves that allowed him to pull the pork hot, by hand. Christmas list!!

serves four, or just one if you really can't share
adapted from OMFG. So Good blog

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Coconut and Sweet Potato Bake

Well. Anyone who knows me knows that I am a HUGE fan of the sweet potato. I basically find a new favourite ingredient every few months, and am always looking for ways to use it. Sweet potato has been a favourite of mine for ages now, and is definitely a cupboard staple.

So, we’ve had sweet potato soupsweet potato mash, sweet potato curry, and sweet potato fries. All absolutely delicious, easy peasy, and I make them all the time.

So, I’ve always been a fan of a dauphinoise, and this recipe is a truly scrumptious version, using sweet potato and coconut instead of the more traditional regular potatoes and cream. But the idea behind it is the same: thin layers of potato, smothered in creamy-ness and baked in the oven. 

This truly goes deliciously with your Sunday roast, with the coconut and cayenne providing a sweet kick of flavour.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Shortbread- Mary Berry Style


Oh my goodness, shortbread is my nemesis. There are just some things I can’t get my head around cooking, stuff that just NEVER comes out how I want it to:

-The first is the most shameful: mashed potatoes. Mine are all at once thin AND lumpy.  It’s not hard. And I am Irish. But still, no dice.

-The second is more of a group of things I fail at: toffee/caramel/fudge. Can’t do it. I follow the instructions to. the. letter and still I just can’t make it do what it needs to. There have been some super disasters in this, to the point where I just buy the pre-made banoffee toffee stuff when I need to. DON’T LOOK AT ME!

-And finally: shortbread. My paternal grandmother makes the most perfect, melt in your mouth, flavourful, crisp shortbread that the world has ever seen. My mother makes shortbread that is close to perfection. And I just can’t measure up to it..

Until Mary effing Berry came into my life. This shortbread is rather different from the ones I’ve known before, it’s thicker and softer, but still just delightful. If you’re keeping track of my ideal afternoon tea tray, add these bad boys to it.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Oat and Chocolate Biscuits

Mary Berry strikes again! This time, I’m adapting her recipe for some short oat biscuits. They are crunchy, and rolling the biscuits in the oats give a great texture to the outside.

The recipe makes A LOT of medium-sized cookies, I got about 36 in total. Great for whipping up for a party or picnic.

I added the chocolate (about a quarter of a square) and ginger, instead of the suggested glace cherry (that was just a bit too vintage, sorry Mary). And I think that worked out well, these biccies are ever so slightly dry, and the chocolate nub just improves the whole thing.

I also decided to do a white chocolate and coconut version, by adding coconut to the oat layer, and using amazing white chocolate with coconut that I picked up on my holidays in France.


I should have known that the white chocolate would melt utterly into the cookie, instead of keeping its shape like the milk and dark chunks. 

A bit splotchy...

Yes, they're kind of ugly, but still taste goooood!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Apple Crumble Muffins

These are my favourite muffins ever. Bold statement, attention grabbing.


Baked to perfection

I suppose we are in Autumn then! I think that is probably my favorite season for flavours. I love the delicate spices and sweet fruits that define the season for me.

And I think this muffin defines the season's best flavours, from the slightly tart apple and scented cinnamon, coupled with the crunchy, sweet crumble which is just perfection. The cake portion of these is also perfect for a muffin: springy, light, but still dense.

In short, these are muffin heaven. You need these in your life.

Don’t worry if you don’t have a food processor for the crumble, in that case just rub the flour and butter together until you get coarse breadcrumbs, and stir through the sugar and some chopped nuts (or you can easily leave the nuts out).

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Ginger and Coconut Oatmeal Cookies

I have been on a bit of an oaty cookie kick at the minute, and these are unusual in texture and flavour, but I really like them. The honey makes them a little bit floppy, but I really like the texture that it gives. The oats and coconut also give a nice firming quality.

You could add some orange or lemon to this, but I didn’t want to go overboard with flavours on the first attempt. As they are, they are delicately spiced, sweet and delicious.

Makes about 18 cookies, but next time I think I would make them a little smaller.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Pork Ramen

So, I did say that I had been travelling recently, and the first stop was TOKYO! It was amazing, and crazy, and unlike any holiday I have ever had. I would go back in a heartbeat, mainly for the food.

When I go on my holidays, I don’t tend to seek out haute cuisine or Michelin stars. I want to eat what the locals are eating, I want to hit up their versions of fast food, and greasy spoon cafes. And that is what we did in Tokyo. Sitting on a little stool at a bench, in front of a guy making whatever local thing I was getting was one of my absolute favourite memories of the holiday.

And my absolute favourite thing I had to eat there? RAMEN! And the best one I had, I am trying to recreate here. A smooth but dark and translucent broth, topped with scallions, an egg and a chunk of amazing pork belly.

So, there are a few schools of thought with ramen, there’s miso ramen and shoyu ramen, there’s a myriad of toppings, but always the noodles reign supreme. God forbid you overcook your noodles – many ramen places in Japan refuse to give ‘to go’ as the noodles may have overccoked in the broth by the time you get home.

Most of the ingredients and utensils are pretty standard in any supermarket or Asian food store. I easily found the soy sauce and sesame oil in Asda, and the mirin and ramen noodles were just as easily found in my local medium sized Chinese supermarket. I also found the little flat spoons there for sluuuurping the sauce, and they had chopsticks too (though I brought loads of them home from Tokyo). Including CHARMANDER ONES!

Other toppings can of course be used, including mushrooms, beansprouts, nori (seaweed), corn etc etc. I just used what I liked! And I like it very, very much.

Serves about 3

Monday, 1 September 2014

Pistachio Chocolate Fudge

Well, here is the concluding part of my pistachio chronicles. Fudge!

God, I love fudge. But I am notoriously terrible at making it. I have memories of home economics class, stirring an innocent-looking pot of fudge, and having it bubble ominously, growing bigger and bigger until it nearly spilled out of the pan and the teacher had to take it off me.


So, my adult foray into fudge is going to start simple. And this recipe is really, really simple. Just add most of the ingredients to a pot, melt, then add the nuts, chill, and chop. Freeze to help it keep its shape, which is useful because it tastes best cold!

Very delicious.

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Coffee, Cardamom, Pistachio Cream Cake

Well, the name is a mouthful. As is the cake! Gentle comedy.

You may have noticed my lack of posting in August, a holiday hiatus, if you will. The Swede and I have been halfway around the world, and back again, but we are both firmly at home now. I plan to do some traveling-related cooking in the near future, but for now, cake!

So, I bought some pistachios the other day, so I decided to try out all the pistachio recipes that I had been hankering after over the last little while.

First installment: pistachio cookies. Second installment is this epic, flavourful, crazy cake. It sounds like it shouldn’t work, and the colour scheme is weird, but damnit if it isn’t one fine piece of baking. I’m really surprised that it isn’t Swedish recipe actually, it covers one of the main Swedish flavours (cardamom) and one of the main Swedish food groups (coffee). Changing the pistachios to almonds would probably be delicious and make it a Svensk trifecta.

For the coffee, I just made a little extra bit of filter coffee in the morning, but instant coffee dissolved in boiling water would work just as well.

One of my boyfriend’s faves, and he doesn’t give out praise lightly!