Sunday, 27 March 2016

Baked Cauliflower Mash

It is a testament to my Irish upbringing that it is only now that I realise that you can mash vegetables other than potatoes.

Of course, we all had carrot and parsnip mash at the Sunday dinner table, but who really even ate that when there were spuds on offer?

Let's get real though. It is hard to get overly excited about cauliflower. But put away your prejudices and give it a go! It is tasty, filling and wholesome, and way fewer carbs than spuds. And it really is pretty tasty!

Stick in on your Easter Sunday table today and you won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, 23 March 2016

Chocolate and Sesame Yoyos

I love nutty, seedy flavours in sweet as well as savoury cooking. There is nothing more delicious to me than a cookie filled with hazelnuts, or a cheeky walnut in cake, and of course, pistachios in the mighty baklava.

I also have a massive vat of tahini paste that I am keen to use whenever I can.

I also love discovering new flavour combinations. 

So when this recipe fell into my lap, I was immediately enamoured! These are light little biscuits, studded through with sesame seeds, and stuck to eachother with the most scrummy sesame-cheesecake filling. This has opened up a huge new range of recipes to me, it makes me immediately want to make a chocolate-sesame cheesecake. The chocolate and sesame complement each other beautifully, and the creamy sesame filling is completely delightful.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Slow Cooker White Bean Chilli

It's not the prettiest bowl of food, but it is damn delicious!

I love chilli. I have always, and will always love chilli. I thought everyone felt the same. But then I shacked up with someone who DOESN’T LIKE IT. I assume he must be the only one. He’s certainly the first person I’ve met who doesn’t care for it. My mum and I could live off a big pot of chilli con carne for days!

I’ve tried everything. I’ve tried not making it spicy. I’ve tried not putting beans in, I’ve tried slow cooking it with hunks of stewing beef.. Nada. So, I decided I should take a different approach entirely. Let’s turn the notion of chilli on its head. Using typical chilli spices, with shredded chicken instead of beef mince, and with a white, creamy sauce instead of a dark and tomato-y one. And of course, I’m using my slow cooker.  The finished  product is a bit like a cross between a roasted chicken soup and a chilli con carne, and I’m well on board for that – comfort food and spice, a killer combination!

As an aside, apparently beans/no beans is a huge argument in the chilli world – I couldn’t imagine a decent chilli without some beans. This chilli could easily work with just one tin of beans, but I went with two because I'm a bean-fan. I used to hate beans, but I have grown to love them, they are great at bulking out a dinner and are so wholesome and filling. You still won’t catch me eating baked beans on toast, YUCK.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Strawberry Rosette Cake

The best way that I can think of to try to hurry spring-time along! I finally felt the grip of winter release a bit this week - I haven't worn a winter coat for 3 days in a row.. And I think it might have something to do with this little cake.

It is one of my absolute and utter favourites, and I think that is mainly due to the fresh flavours and the easily-achieved look of the cake.

Rosettes are my new favourite way to decorate a cake – simple but utterly effective. They turn an otherwise rather ordinary looking cake into a thing of beauty, and while I am of the opinion that the taste matters most of all, it is a completely lovely bonus when it also looks as good as it tastes!

Now, I have said before that pieces of fruit have no place in dessert. And I will stand by this opinion come hell or high water! There is nothing worse, for me, than seeing an otherwise lovely cake smothered in berries and stuff. Just eat a fruit salad for dessert if you love fruit that much!

Having said that, we all know that even the best rules have exceptions. And to me, the exceptions are this cake, which only has a minimal fruit aspect (jam doesn't count), and banoffee. Of course banoffee.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Pretzel Dogs

Happy weekend! And what better way to celebrate than with more pretzels! You may have noticed a theme on my blog - I find one thing that I newly love to make and just make it all the time in slightly different variations. Currently. I'm on a pretzel-theme - and there is more to come!

I love the versatility of pretzel-style breads. They all have a similar method - making dough, usually letting rise, forming into shape, then dipping into a bicarbonate bath before baking. It's not difficult, but it can be a bit fiddly. It's all worth it though, because it makes a delicious bread! The dough recipe probably makes slightly too much for one 10-pack of hotdogs, so because I can't throw anything away (thanks, nanny!) I used up the rest of the dough to make a few halloumi-dogs, and they were also fantastic, just as cheese baked in bread should be,

And this dense chewy bread of course also works really well with the soft, salty frankfurter. That equals the best kind of hot dog. And for me, a bitesize hot dog is total party food. I love making party food, because I love having parties. But having party food just for dinner is also excellent, in the same way that having breakfast food for dinner is excellent. It is a little bit of a treat, and I don't do it often, so it totally brightens up my day.

Monday, 7 March 2016

Chicken and Mozarella Pasta Bake

My guilty food pleasure is M&S ready meals. I normally have no tolerance for cutting corners in cooking when I feel that it is to the detriment of end product, but sometimes you just want (or need!) something ready to immediately throw in the oven. However, I also like to know what’s going into the food I eat, and the fussy part of me (a remnant of my childhood) appreciates that I can pick and choose exactly which ingredients are used. You’ll notice, for example, that I rarely cook with tinned tomatoes, because I hate those big pulpy bits that you can get. A nice sieved passatta is much preferable for me! Keep it smoooooth.

Anyway, back to the point, my absolute favourite M&S meal is a tomatoey, chickeny pasta meal which comes in a massive dish and which I have attempted to recreate numerous times, to no avail. So I decided to ditch all recipes and just wing it.

And it turned out well! I am in love with this meal – yes it takes quite a bit longer than a ready meal (mainly because of the cooking time of the sauce) but it is also fresh and delicious and flavoured exactly the way I like it. And there's enough food to last for days! Yum yum.

Friday, 4 March 2016

Pistachio and Lemon Cake

Ooooh, this is a good one, for me this is the perfect Sunday teatime cake. Let's just get it out there - I love pistachios.I love how they taste, I love how they photograph, and I love the wholesome, green, bejewelled tone they impart to everything you add them to. Probably my favourite things about this cake (apart from its deliciousness) is the surprise pop of colour when you slice it.

And it's incredibly simple to make. The only piece of "special" equipment you will need is a food processor to blitz the pistachios into a coarse sandy meal. I always like to keep my ground nuts on the coarser side, but the great thing here is that you can choose exactly how you want them.

And apart from that it is your standard cake mixture, with the only twist being the separated eggs, meaning you can whip up the egg whites and fold them in at the end to increase the fluffiness of the finished cake.