Your favourite recipes this week:

Best savory dishes of 2014...

I can't really say that I bake more than I cook savory dishes in my kitchen. I'd like to think that I do both equally often, I definitely enjoy both the same! :) Baking is that little bit easier for me, as I can include my two little girls in the process, whereas with cooking for example dinner, it's not that simple - as sharp knives, hot stoves, graters, raw meat etc. are usually involved. There were good few dishes I have discovered in the passing year, I'm using the word discover here, as about some of the dishes I haven't even heard before! I hope you'll like my little "sum up" and here it is:

Anula's Best Cakes of 2014...

December, especially the very end of the month always makes me think about the year that passed. I usually make "sum ups" of the best dish/cake/meal I had/discovered in each month of the passing year (2012 sum up & 2013 sum up), but seeing as 2014 was especially interesting and diverse in my kitchen I decided to divide the year into categories, I simply couldn't decide on one dish/cake only form each month! The Best cakes of 2014 is the first category I wanted to share with you. The second one, coming in few days time, will be all about savory dishes.
So to start with summing up of the year 2014 this is the list of 12 cakes that I think were "the star" of each month in my kitchen:

best cakes of 2014

Smoked salmon roulade...

There's really not a lot of fish out there or seafood in general that I don't like, but I was never so kean on smoked salmon. when I used to live in Poland it was quite tricky to get a good quality one, one that's really smoked and not just covered in something that's imitating real smoking process. That has changed when I moved to Ireland. Living on an island now, literally few miles from the Ocean I have one of the best fish and the freshest one, here at my doorstep. Smoked salmon - as this is the star of my post today. I really start loving the stuff and enjoy it on many ways. One of my Baby J (who's 4 years old now) favorite way of eating smoked salmon is simply on buttered toast, just like that. I usually put mine on a toast covered already in some scrambled eggs. But I was challenged to think of some new, interesting but easy at the same time, way of eating smoked salmon.

This is a recipe I created specially for Quinlan's Kerryfish using their organic smoked salmon. It IS good! When thinking what will I make I didn't want to over complicate it, nor I wanted to "kill" the taste of the fish with another strong ingredient. Seeing as my favorite way of eating smoked salmon is with eggs, here's a result - smoked salmon roulade made using a kind of egg pancake, but to put some creaminess inside, and a little bit of a "kick" and different texture - you'll find cream cheese and a small "kick", as well as some crunch from the gherkins.

smoked salmon roulade

How to make it...

Food & Wine... Launch of The Wine Club at Sol y Sombra...

An average person walking into a supermarket or an off-licence is, I think, somewhat "crushed" by the sheer amount of wine at the display... Where do I start? Which wine should I buy? White or red? Wait - there's even rose?! Maybe sparkling? Which wine will go well, compliment my dish tonight? Which one will be perfect just for sipping and chatting with a friend? How many of us were put in front of dilemma like that...? I know I was, on more than one occasion... I love wine, but I'm not, by any means, an expert in that field. But - there's always room for an improvement ;)

Photo by Bartek Witek Photography

I was very lucky to be invited and take part in a launch of newly created Wine Club - "Match made in heaven - Food & Wine event" in my local Sol y Sombra, with wine on the evening generously sponsored by Findlater.
It was one of the best events I took part in. Well organised, everyone invited had some background and/or interest in food and wine. Amazing dishes - and here KUDOS to the chefs who really pulled out all the stops (see the menu below) and wine which went amazingly well with every course. Before each course, Peter from Findlater, gave us a little background about the wine that we'll have with the dish. No, it wasn't a long and boring speech about technicality of producing each wine. It was a story, sometimes even a legend, on how each wine came to be and then, a little bit about its distinctive taste. Truly enjoyable!
I really liked the set up in the restaurant itself, the fact that we were all at one loooong table, all 30 of us attending. It became very nice, interesting social event at which we discussed wine & food extensively and had a bit of good, old laugh :)

A Match Made in Heaven MENU
27th November 2014

First Course
Mini-Hamburguesa de Langostino con Ali-Oli de Algas y Rúcola
Mini Prawn Hamburger with Seaweed Ali-Oli & Rocket
Wine Match: Lands & Legends Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Regaña con Solomillo en Manteca y Aire de Vino
Loin of Pork cooked in Chorizo Oil on a Savoury Cracker with ‘Red Wine Air’
(served at ambient temperature)
Wine Match: Andean Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Fish Course
Tartar de Salmon Sobre Carpaccio de Vieiras con Guacamole Marino
Salmon Tartare, Carpaccio of Scallop with Sea Guacamole
Wine Match: Torres Waltraud Riesling, Penedes, Spain

Meat Course
Pato Crujiente al Mango con Su Magret
Duo of Crunchy Duck & Mango Rolls and Seared Magret Duck Breast
Wine Match: Ibericos Rioja Crianza, Spain

Dessert Course
Falso Tarta de Queso
False Cheese Cake – Matcha Tea Sponge, , White Chocolate Mousse,
topped with Strawberries in Sweet Wine
Wine Match: Torres Nectaria, Central Valley, Chile

Polish grey dumplings...

Those dumplings are very popular in Greater Poland. Quick, budget friendly dish, that literally anyone can make. Traditional way of serving them will be with some pork scratching and caramelized onion. Some recipes call for eggs, like the one below, but some won’t be using any at all, just raw potatoes, flour and a bit of salt. Both versions are delicious, very quick and simple to make. Also very easy on your wallet! Yes, I am aware that in different parts of Poland there are "grey dumpling" which are completely different than those below, even though they also use raw potatoes, but as with almost each and every dish in my native country - every part of Poland (sometimes even every family) has it's own way of preparing it and naming it too.
I know they might not be the prettiest, but they have very unusual taste, are easy to make and what's the most important - are delicious. I actually like that uneven, funky shape of those dumplings, the fact that each and every dumpling is different! Aren't we all..? ;)

polish grey dumplings

How to make it...

Marbled cupcakes...

Another cupcake creation and another one based on The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook. I wrote million times already how much I love making and eating cupcakes, but to sum up again - quick and relatively easy to make, versatile and it somehow makes me less guilty if I eat a cupcake rather than a thick slice of cake, but I might be little delusional here... ;)
The below method of making cupcakes was little bit different than how I'm used to preparing the batter, but it gave fantastic result of fluffy, light and spongy texture. The marbled effect looked really nice, I'm just regretting of not "swirling" my batter enough to make it even more "marbley". As I;m not a big fan of creamy/buttery frosting, I omitted that part in the recipe ( I also changed slightly how I made my two different batches of flavored sponges) and decided to decorate mine with a little bit of icing sugar "dust", but I don't think that you need any kind of decoration on top of those little beauties - especially if you'll be more daring with swirling than I was! :)

marbled cupcakes

How to make it...

Kouign-amann - Breton cake...

One of my favorite treat in the whole wide world! One that reminds me of summers in France :) of my dear French friends. So few, everyday, simple ingredients and such an amazing result! Kouign-amann is an essence of Brittany for me (aside from salted caramel and galettes of course). How I missed that taste!
It's really hard to describe kouign-amann. Breadish, sweet and sticky, "caramely", crunchy outside and soft, almost velvety inside. I love it slightly warmed, so the caramel becomes soft, paired with a side of cream or vanilla ice-cream (but I will happily eat it plain, as it is, with just a cup of strong, black coffee to keep it company).


I will not lie to you - it IS tricky to make, even though all the steps of the whole process aren't that difficult. It was quite daunting when I read the recipe (and please, DO read it from start to finish before you start doing anything!) but I didn't give up and... I'm so glad I was daring enough to make it :) The recipe and instructions call for pastry rings, in which you're supposed to bake your kouign-ammans, but as I didn't have them I simply used... muffin/cupcake baking tray. Which thankfully worked well! The below recipe comes from a great book "The Baking Bible" by Rose Bernabaum - and I do admit, that I haven't heard about her much, before I came across her newest cook book. I like Rose's writing style, which is clear and simply, explaining everything with the smallest detail. It reminds me a little of Julia Child and her writing.
I'm putting the recipe here exactly as it is in the book - because of the complexity/many steps of the whole process and the fact that I really want you to try it and succeed!

kouign-amann breton cake

"Kouign-amann (pronounced [,kwiɲˈamɑ̃nː] Breton pl. kouignoù-amann) is a Breton cake. It is a round crusty cake, made with bread dough containing layers of butter and sugar folded in, similar in fashion to puff pastry albeit with fewer layers. The resulting cake is slowly baked until the butter puffs up the dough (resulting in the layered aspect of it) and the sugar caramelizes. The name derives from the Breton words for cake ("kouign") and butter ("amann"). Kouign-amann is a speciality of the town Douarnenez in Finistère, Brittany, where it originated in around 1860." - by

How to make it...

Pumpkin scones...

I know that probably at this stage you have enough of all things pumpkin ;) but if you still haven't overloaded on that delicious taste, this is a great idea to maybe use that last can of pumpkin puree sitting in your cupboard..? I love scones a lot! Really A LOT! Funny thing is that I've never even heard of them when living in Poland (well, not those 8 years ago, maybe they're known there now, with the BBC food cooking programs etc.). I love making scones too. It's so simple that I can't really justify going out and buying them in the shop.
The smell when they're baking and the sensations when you're cutting through freshly baked, still warm scone. Your knife is going through a little thicker, only ever so slightly crisp crust and then very soft, crumbly inside. I immediately put a thin slice of butter for it to melt. Hot, strong coffee with it and perfect breakfast sorted!
Below recipe comes from a great blog Joy The Baker. I really enjoy reading her posts and drooling all over the photos! The original recipe calls for different topping of the scones, but I've stick to my favorite - icing sugar dissolved with tiny bit of water and poured over. Wait till it sets and you're ready to enjoy! :)

pumpkin scones

How to make it...

Polish apple cake - Szarlotka...

Probably one of the mos famous cakes in Poland - if not THE MOST famous. But I'll stop you right here before you'll start saying "this is not the recipe my grandma used etc." Traditions, more than anything, are passed form one family member to the other - and szarlotka didn't escape this fate either. I'd say that there are as many versions of this cake as there are families in Poland and all around the world with Polish roots. I've already made few versions of this cake myself and the below one is one of my favourites! The recipe came from a great blog (another Polish gal Anna, not living in Poland ;) but cooking a lot of Polish dishes!) - La cuisine d'Anna. We bake/cook a lot of our recipes and we're always happy with the result :)
Back to this fantastic cake. There's almost no work involved in it at all. Besides some simple mixing of ingredients together and grating the apples (which would be the "polish way" of preparing apples for apple cake) you'll have a fantastic szarlotka in no time at all!

polish apple cake

How to make it...

"The Nation's Favourite Food FAST!" by Neven Maguire... (book review)

"The Nation's Favourite Food FAST!"
by Neven Maguire

Hardback (304 pages)

Chapters: Introduction, Soups, Starters, Salads, Beef, Chicken, Lamb, Pork, Fish, Eggs, Vegetarian, Takeaway my way, Pasta, Dinner party, Vegetable sides, Leftovers, Lunchbox, Kids' favourites, Desserts, Baking, Breads. 

It's not the very first book on the market about fast cooking, about getting a nutritious plate of food on your table, all home made in a very quick time - or at least time similar to picking up the phone, ordering your take away and waiting for it. It seems to be a new trend in cooking - make something nice, nutritious, from scratch fast. I thinks it's a reflection of times we're living in - everything became faster and on many occasions some things like values, standard were lost in the process. But not for Neven! He'll show you how to prepare delicious dinner, lunch, sweet treat in no time at all - but some planning ahead and preparation is usually the key here. I'm already a very happy owner of Neven's previous book "The Nation's Favourite Food" so I was waiting for this one with anticipation. And again - I'm anything but disappointed

I really liked how the "theme" and the layout from the previous cook book was kept - even the chapters! So having both books really does make sense - first one as a "go to" for weekend, laid back, sometimes traditional dishes, the new addition "Fast" - for fuss free solution to your weekday meals and some treats too!

The recipes, as you can expect from Neven, are again fool proof! Yes, I'm standing behind those words with full confidence. Even when reading the recipe you can see that the steps are well explained and there's a reason/purpose in each and every one of them. Recipes aren't complicated and easy to follow, no expensive and hard to get ingredients used and yes, "as it says on the tin" - everything is relatively quickly to make - from start (pealing, chopping etc.) to finish (putting ready made dish on the plate) it should really take you more than about 40 minutes on average. Because all recipes are quick to make - they are also quite simple/easy, but it doesn't take away from the taste

All in all - a great cook book! If you already own Neven's previous book, this will be great continuation/addition to it. If you're a busy parent, student or just simply don't like or have much time to spend standing over your pots and pans, but still want a good meal at the end of the day, do have a look at "The Nation's Favourite Food FAST!" - you won't be disappointed!

Some of the recipes I've already tried:

I've also made Neven's Chips & Fish - loved the thin, crispy batter, almost tempura like! Twice baked chips (which I always do anyway) had temperature guidance in regards to the frying oil - something I usually struggle with! Very helpful :)

About the author:
From a very young age, one of Neven Maguire’s favourite pastimes was to shadow his mother in the kitchen, watching her cook. He began experimenting with ingredients in the home kitchen at the tender age of ten and his pastime soon became his passion. After studying catering in Fermanagh College in Enniskillen, Neven went on to train in some of the highest-profile restaurants in the world, including the Michelin starred Roscoff’s in Belfast, Grand Hotel in Berlin and Arzak in San Sebastian. He also worked with Léa Linster, the renowned Michelin starred chef from Luxembourg, whom he credits as a major influence.
In 2001, Neven took over MacNean Restaurant, turning a local establishment into a national phenomenon and in 2012 published the highly acclaimed MacNean Restaurant Cookbook. Neven presents the top-rated cookery show on RTÉ, Home Chef. He lives in Blacklion, Co. Cavan with his wife Amelda, and twins Connor and Lucia. - by Gill & Macmillian Books.
I received a free copy of this book to review from Neven Maguire himself. All thoughts and opinions stated in this post are 100% mine. 

Pear and hazelnut cake.... by Nigel Slater

Definitely that time of the year. Time for comfort cakes with a hint of spice - very early prediction of coming Christmas - although shops all around us have a little different than subtle reminder of coming Christmas and shopping craze they always count on... crazy! Let me enjoy the Fall and all it has to offer, it's barely after Halloween and not even after Thanksgiving! Well... I haven't seen Coca-Cola light up trucks commercial on TV yet, so Christmas season hasn't officially started yet ;).
Going back to our cake today. I absolutely loved it! All the different textures (soft and the bottom, juicy pears in the middle and crunchy crumble topped with sticky and sweet syrup). The cake is sweet, spicy, little tangy from the pears - perfect! OK, I have to admit that there is a little bit of work involved in this one - but believe me, it is well worth it! Once you've read the recipe till the very end (it is very always a good thing to do, but especially on this occasion), once you've prepare all the ingredients ahead, have them at hand on your worktop, this cake won't look as scary to make as it might seem.
The recipe isn't mine (although I would love to take credit for something SO delicious!). It's by Nigel Slater, a very trusted person to whom I always turn to when I have an abundance of a particular fruit or vegetable and don't really know what to make out of it. None of his recipes I already tried failed me, and I highly doubt that there will be a day that it will fail me...
So, gather your pears, prepare that baking tin and then enjoy that well deserve cake!

pear and hazelnut cake by nigel slater

How to make it...

Creamy chicken korma... by Neven Maguire

Huge, huge, huge fan of Indian Cuisine. Have I mentioned I like Indian food? ;) I like it a lot, especially when it's "home made". I'm not particularly a fan of Indian take away, always find it little on the greasy side and everything overpowered with one particular spice (well mix of them if you want to be very exact - Garam masala. Indian cuisine is perfect blend of so many different spices and herbs, of perfect marriage of usually a long list of ingredients - but everything very easily accessible and affordable (especially if you buy it at the source, in your local Indian/Arab shop, everything is in much bigger containers and cheaper than at your local supermarket).
I would love to be able to visit traditional, authentic, home kitchen and learn all the ropes from the source - a person who grew up surrounded with such food and is full of tips and tricks that I could learn and use in my kitchen while cooking Indian. Maybe, one day, who knows, but at the moment cook books, Internet, TV and my experience (done through trials and errors ;) ) are my help.
The below recipe comes from "Fast", cookbook by Neven Maguire. While he's definitely an Irish chef, very much into traditional cooking, his take on one of the most popular Indian take away dishes is a great attempt! I loved the blend of all the spices, the fact that you could taste all of them and none over powered the other one and... It wasn't too spicy, but neither it was bland. I hope you'll try it instead of picking up the phone and ordering that take away - it's cheaper, much tastier and really easy and quick to make! So go one -> of you go to that kitchen, chop chop! :)

How to make it...

Pumpkin Steel Cut Oatmeal... Perfect breakfast!

Who doesn't love a nice, warm, cooked breakfast on a chilly Autumn morning...?! Well, I definitely do - pity I always have to cook it myself and it can't be delivered hot, straight into my bed (with some strong coffee on the side!) well, maybe one day ;) As it's October - a month of pumpkin as it seems - I also gave into the world wide craze! Last few weeks there's pumpkin almost in everything I bake and cook. Can't complain because of that really - there's something comforting and cheerful at the same time, in that bright orange mush that comes out of the tin (how convenient!). 
I wanted something different this time round, not yet another pumpkin cake, pumpkin bread etc. so I turned to somewhere we all turn when on a "quest" for a new recipe (or sometimes in an act of desperation...) - Internet. And what a result! On one of my favorite sites TheKitchn I came across - Pumpkin steel cut oatmeal (pinhead oats for those living in Ireland or UK), what a brilliant idea! Yes, you might have to get up those few minutes earlier, but it's SO worth it! I've stick to the recipe religiously this time  - something that's rarely happening, unless I'm baking something completely new... - and I don't regret it! This unusual version of "porridge" literally disappeared in minutes! Sweet, spicy (almost "Christmasy"), warm, very creamy consistency and because I've cooked my steel cut oats that little bit longer  - very soft and smooth too. There's no crunch to it, as I wanted it that way, but cook it not as long as me and you'll have a nice bite to it with almost "al dente" oats. The smell while it's simmering away is very intense - cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg it all almost made me start singing "Jingle Bells"... So comforting and "cosy" feeling.
I ate my portion (and I had two, yes NOT one, but two extra helpings) with some Greek yogurt and a little bit of honey drizzled over the top. Please DO try it! It really is that good :)

How to make it...

Pumpkin bundt cake... and a little celebration...

October, rainy and windy weather, all the brown & yellow leaves, all the pumpkins in the shops! From what I can see all around the Internet Ireland isn't as crazy about its pumpkins as other countries, for example USA. I have to admit that I'm rather disappointed by that... Autumn (or Fall as some call it) is my favourite time of the year. I don't mind all the wind - which brings beautiful smell of dry leaves and sometimes I can sense/smell the ocean in the middle of the town (I have The Atlantic only 3 miles away...). I even like the rain (don't mix with the storms and hurricanes...), I like the freshness of the rain and how it seems to cleanse everything around me. And Autumn brings pumpkins. I discovered their full potential only a year ago - when I finally got some pumpkin puree in the local shop. How I would love to try all those deliciously sounding things you're all on about from Trader Joe's - pumpkin spice chai, pumpkin rolls, pumpkin macaroons, croissants or spiced pumpkin seeds to name a few.... I can't even get pumpkin spice mix here (which thankfully is very easy to make at home!). So with all the pumpkin craze I decided to celebrate with pumpkin!

Celebrate what you might ask... Well, my little blog, Anula's Kitchen is exactly... 6 years old today! :D I can't believe it's been so long... I also can't believe how much it gave me. From simply discovering whole wide world of food, some ingredients and tastes that I probably wouldn't come across normally. From discovering new chefs, cooking techniques. I'm also thankful for making me that little bit more daring and adventurous in the kitchen, for teaching me how not to give up easily (which somehow transferred into other parts of my life too). But one of the most important things, which I value the most - writing Anula's Kitchen for all those years brought some amazing people into my life, people that I wouldn't met otherwise, people that in some cases became my friends and are with me till his day. Most of them I won't probably ever meat in real life, but common passion for food brought us together, even if we're on different continents.

THANK YOU ALL for reading, cooking, baking with me. For words of encouragement and sometimes critique too! I hope you're enjoying Anula's Kitchen, because I'm surely enjoying all that cooking, baking,writing about it and of course don't forget - eating! ;) I hope you'll stay with me for at least another 6 years!

So to celebrate a little pumpkin bundt cake with dark chocolate buttons/drops inside as a little surprise ;) Recipe adapted from "Cake Days" by The Hummingbird Bakery.

How to make it...

Apple and Calvados pie...

I'm always on a look out for a nice pie crust recipe (when it's so easy to make yourself why would you buy it?!) and nice pie in general - being it sweet or savory, although having a bit of a sweet tooth it's usually the first one ;) This particular recipe caught my eye in the "Fruit" cookbook by Hugh from River Cottage. The crust is quite sweet (not like Nigel's from Pie of plums) but it goes perfectly with my sour apples and Calvados. Yes, crisp, fresh, aromatic, strong but gentle at the same time - Calvados :) Whenever I can smell fresh apples I'm thinking about Calvados, I don't think (I hope so anyway!) that I'm the only one with such thoughts/comparisons ;)

Back to today's pie. Autumn is a perfect time for me to make pies, time when I need warm, full of flavor, pungent, indulging, comforting food. And sweet, fruity pies are my answer to it! The smell of this particular pie being baked - heavenly! I could barely wait for it to cool enough, so I can cut into it! The addition of Calvados and raisins are my own (original Hugh's recipe calls for some almonds in the filing, but I didn't want any in my version). The below pie literally disappeared! I barely noticed and it was all gone. Luckily I was able to treat myself to a big slice, with some Greek yogurt on the side and string coffee.... I really DO hope that you'll make my pie! If you don't have Calvados I think that a little bit of apple cider would work here quite well too ;)
What's your favorite fruity/sweet pie?

How to make it...

Eggs on toast...

Something quick, easy and most of all tasty. I have an egg on toast very often - but I usually just make a toast, poach an egg and place it on a "bed" of bread, ham, cheese, few slices of salad and few slices of tomatoes. Yes, that's how my egg on toast usually looks like. This time it's a little bit different, but such an obvious way of doing it one might think! Well, I've never made it that way, so it was a first for me. I went all the way to make it oh so pretty, but my egg had a different plan and ruined my presentation a little bit ;) Nicely cut out heart shape was literally unrecognizable when the egg decided to take over... but nothing was left and the cut out piece of bread got a very "posh" when toasted and treated with some butter and raspberry jam and served as a "dessert" after my little brunch.
Egg on toast is so versatile, you can "dress" it up with whatever you fancy - I went simply with some Parmesan and basil, as I wanted it simple, but "sky is the limit" as they say and I'm sure you can find something this very minute in your fridge, that would make a great accompaniment to this fun version of an egg on toast.

Idea and inspiration taken from "Fast" by Neven Maguire.

How to make it...

Soft chocolate cookies...

I love a good cookie and those chocolate cookies turned out to become my favourite ones! :) They are simply delicious alone or with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. They are soft in the middle and have a thin, crunchy "skin" on the outside. They are very chocolaty, but not too sweet, not sickly sweet as some chocolate baking creations can be. Perfect treat with a cup of strong coffee.
The recipe caught my eye straight away, the moment I saw it in Neven Maguire's new cookbook "Fast". Recipe was very easy to follow and I made them in no time at all! They'll be definitely a success on any party and among work colleagues ;)

How to make it...

Pie of plums and berries... by Nigel Slater

I'm very apprehensive when it comes to making pies. I'm usually worried about the pastry, being it soggy, or too dry or just under baked. Nigel Slater's version turned out to be very easy to make, pleasant to handle and very tasty. It's not very sweet, which I liked a lot. I'm planning on using this pastry for other fruit - sweet cherries or custard & strawberry filling. Original recipe calls for plums and raspberries, so to make this pie more cost effective (I got plums for free) I used what i had at hand - which was a bag of mixed summer berries in my fridge. This combination worked brilliant! My plums were little tangy and their skins quite bitter, so it mixed brilliantly with sweet raspberries, strawberries and blackberries. I was worried that the pastry will be very wet, soggy as there's no blind pre-baking of the pastry case, but I shouldn't worry at all! Everything turned out perfect and the smell in the house - amazing! The result is crumbly, short pastry with juicy, soft, sweet fruit inside. Ideal dessert to finish of the meal or simply any time of the day treat with some strong coffee on the side.

How to make it...

Plum, apple and honey with walnut crumble...

Crumble is something that is relatively easy to make and quite quick too. I love crumbles - soft, juicy and sweet fruit hidden underneath crunchy, crispy topping. I love experimenting with crumble - both the fruit combinations as well as the crunch on the top. This crumble was inspired by one of Hugh's recipes from River Cottage "Fruit" cookbook. The original crumble topping calls for ground almonds but I thought that chopped walnuts will fit in here better and I'll achieve more crunchy texture. Hugh uses only plums for his filling, but seeing as I had some apples I added few as well. Sweet apples made sharp plums a little bit better, especially that those plums I got from work colleague (and I don't know their exact name) have quite bitter skins. All in all this crumble proved to be great! Apples and plums, softened in butter and honey, became almost caramelized in the oven. Crumbly topping had nice bite and crunch to it thanks to chopped walnuts, which taste was perfect with sweet fruit.
Plums, apples, walnuts - no better combo for this time of the year!

How to make it...

Apple pie biscuits...

Apple pie, who doesn't like a pie?! OK, I do believe that there are people out there that aren't fans of pies - but I'm definitely NOT one of them :) This isn't a pie as we know it - the components are still there: crumbly pastry and sweet, juicy apple filling, but assembling is somehow different ;) The recipe comes from a blog that I've been reading for some time now. Joy's recipes always sound so delicious and her photos are mouthwatering to say the least. This time I decided to finally give in and make one of her creations. Timing couldn't be any better - I had a bag of apples I got from a work colleague and I was looking for a recipe that was easy and quick to make (I have 2 little sous chefs - one 4 and the other almost 3 hears old). The result was fantastic! Lovely, sweet smell in the house (always a sign of good things to come!), crumbly soft pastry and sweet apples! I loved the form of biscuits rather than a traditional pie. Very practical for little hands, allowing them to eat on their own, also perfect size for my lunch box for the next day. Apples worked great in those biscuits, but I would be very slow to experiment with other fruit (like all kinds of berries or plums) in case they would "escape" from this little biscuit "sandwich" ;) Hope you'll give it a go - especially this time of the year - and I hope you'll go and visit Joy's blog too!

How to make it...

One-Pan pasta...

Pasta with sauce that you can prepare in one pan only and all within 15 minutes, including the "chopping" part? Yes, that's possible and what's more - it will also taste great! I found the recipe on Food52, but as it turned out it's one of Martha Stewart's inventions. The dish proved to be super quick, easy and delicious. I was really surprised how much flavor it had - from the garlic, onion and tomatoes. The amount of water, which during cooking turned into a delicate sauce, was just enough and surprisingly it was quite thick. I had to improvise a little bit with the ingredients I had at home - didn't have enough of cherry tomatoes and no fresh basil, but dry herb, added at the very beginning worked perfect. Used paprika powder instead of flakes - which gave that little int of taste and, by far the biggest change, and quite "luxurious" one was substituting olive oil for... truffle oil! As a result, a simple dish of pasta and tomatoes turned out to be very flavorsome and perfect to make on a busy day!

How to make it...

Plum and walnut cake...

Have I mentioned before that Autumn is my favorite season? Well it is. I love the smell of the crisp, fresh air and that very distinctive scent. I enjoy the walks through dry, "crunchy" leaves. I adore the views of multicolored hills, soft sunsets and cosy evenings. I'm looking forward to being snuggled under the blanket with a hot drink in my hand, reading a book or watching a movie. I also love the baking this time of the year. It changes, it gets more comforting, more sweet, more spicy than that during spring or summer months.
Below cake - plum and walnut cake - was inspired by one of the recipes I found in "The Kitchen Dairies" by Nigel Slater. Brilliant book, full of not only great recipes, but also everyday thoughts and observations of changing seasons and life. The original recipe has a mix of flour and ground almonds, but as I run out of the latter, had to improvise a bit to keep the proportions right. The cake is moist but with a slight crunch from the nuts. It's not too sweet, the taste of plums compliments walnuts brilliantly! I really wasn't missing those almonds at all. What says "Autumn" better than two most seasonal things of them all - plums and walnuts :) 

How to make it...

French baguette... recipe by Paul Hollywood...

Who doesn't like or at least know world famous French baguettes? There are many version of them, many ways of making them, but on this occasion it's Paul Hollywood's recipe that helped create those beauties. In my house we don't buy bread - all is home made. Sourdough bread, many different rolls, Irish soda bread and even white sandwich loaf. This time was the very first time that we ate home made baguettes. The smell is so distinctive and so appetizing! OK, so there is some work involved in making them and it may not work the way you wanted the first time round - but it's all well worth it! The crunchy, tasty crust, soft and airy inside! Perfect just with a little bit of butter, melting on a still warm baguette.... Hope I've convinced you enough, to give it a go! ;)

How to make it...

Gooseberry jam...

This year, particularly this summer, has been very good for me in the department of jam making and preserves in general. I have hardly any space in my cupboards to store all the jam, chutneys etc. and hardly any spare jam jars left... But still, I'll make more! There's something very comforting and a sense of achievement when I see all the jars, next to each other in my pantry, and on top of each other at this stage ;) I made gooseberry jam for the very first time ever, using a recipe I got from my work colleague (that's why it's in pints and pounds this time ;) as that's how I got it and didn't want to change anything). That's also the very same work colleague I got the gooseberries from in the first place! Nothing more to say, add now, but - happy jam making! :)

How to make it...

White toast / sandwich loaf...

I love sourdough bread and that's our everyday bread at home. But even the best bread can be too much if that's all the bread you eat day after day and don't bake any other bread things ;)
So in need of change, of breaking the routine - something amazingly quick to bake and easy, to add to that. This recipe came from a flour bag, Hovis super strong white bread flour to be exact (which by the way is one of the best flours to make bread with, that you can buy here in Ireland). It was a little weird for a bread recipe, as it said to prove it only once, not twice which would be normal for bread making. The result was fantastic - nice, soft crust, light crumb and very pleasant taste. I used to buy sandwich/toast bread in the supermarket, but it never lasted long - and not because it was eaten so quick, but because it would go bad! Whatever they're adding to the dough, made it go moldy rather than stale very quickly! The taste wasn't great either, it was something tasteless really... If the shop bought toast bread wasn't eaten within 2 days from the day I bough it - we usually ended up throwing away the rest - and wasting food is on top of my list of things that I hate the most!
This bread, our own sandwich bread, was baked before the 1 pm (advantage of having to prove it only once!) and come evening - it was already almost all gone! :) Perfect for a sandwich and even better for a toast! This Hovis' bread recipe is definitely a keeper!

How to make it...

Polish dill pickles / half-sour cucumber -> ogórek małosolny...

This is an ultimate taste of mu childhood, more specific - my summers when I was little. This one thing "ogórek małosolny" is a must have, a staple in each and every Polish family, every summer. Once the cucumbers start to appear on the markets and in the shops Poland makes pickles. All kinds! This is the very quick version to make and use almost straight away. This way cucumber is still crisp and bright green in colour, whereas when it's fully sour - it's softer and dull in colour. Very popular as a side dish during BBQ and summer parties. I know it may not sound very appealing, with all the talk about fermentation and very distinctive smell - but I'd say try it! Give it a go at least once! :)

"The Polish-style pickled cucumber (ogórek kiszony/kwaszony) is a variety developed in the northern parts of Europe. It has been exported worldwide and is found in the cuisines of many countries. It is sour, similar to kosher dills, but tends to be seasoned differently. It is usually preserved in wooden barrels. A cucumber only pickled for a few days is different in taste (less sour) than one pickled for a longer time and is called ogórek małosolny, which literally means 'low-salt cucumber'. Another kind of pickled cucumber, popular in Poland, is ogórek konserwowy ('preserved cucumber') which is rather sweet and vinegary in taste, due to different composition of the preserving solution and the addition of vinegar." - by

How to make it...

Blackcurrant muffins... The Hummingbird Bakery

You know my love affair with muffins and cupcakes :) I will repeat myself here saying that they are very quick to prepare, usually quite easy, usually no complicated or expensive ingredients needed and usually you'll have all of it at hand at home! Not to mention the fact that your little ones can help you with making them (eating them goes without saying ;) ). This recipe is taken from The Hummingbird Bakery cookbook "Cake Days", I think it's the first one where I didn't have to cut down the amount of sugar (which in my opinion is usually in "abundance" in their recipes...). The original recipe is for "mixed berries muffins", but seeing as my blackcurrant bush in the garden was literally leaning over because of all the fruit hanging from its branches, it was blackcurrant muffins for us :) The addition of flaked almonds on top is mine - sprinkled evenly by my two little helpers ;) They gave another dimension to the very soft muffins and taste of mellow, sweet almonds worked really well with sharp blackcurrants.

How to make it...