Monday, July 28, 2014

A trip to Ballymaloe House...

So dreams DO come true! Maybe not always, but sometimes they definitely do! If you really want something and you work towards achieving it - it will happen! That was one of mine - to go to visit Ballymaloe House in county Cork. And on the 26th July 2014 that's exactly what happened! 
If you're living in Ireland or UK you probably have heard of Ballymaloe House, you have definitely came across Darina Allen or Rachel Allen, either on TV or through many cook books. The Ballymaloe House and its restaurant are also famous in France and USA.
The restaurant held one Michelin star in the years 1975-1980, when Myrtle Allen was the head chef (she was a head chef till 2010). The kitchen style at Ballymaloe is described as Modern Irish. The world famous Ballymaloe Cookery School was opened by Darina Allen in 1983.




Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mini toad in the hole... Sausages in Yorkshire pudding

There are times that (for various reasons) you just don't want to cook an elaborate lunch/dinner. You just want something simple, quick and comforting. Something that will make you happy and keep the peace within the family too ;) Toad in the hole is just that! At least at my house hold. I make "mini version" of it, as traditionally it's made in a big baking tray, as one big dish for everyone to share.
The muffin tray works perfectly here and mini toads are just the right size for small hands of my two little girls. They call it "sausage in a pancake" and they are somehow right about that! Girls first eat the sausage and then have the "pancake" - of course all generously covered in ketchup ;) Toad in the hole makes perfect quick lunch, that will satisfy both big and small eaters. I think it will also be a great idea for a family gathering or when you have friends coming round. Traditionally it's served with a gravy, but we tend to just stick to the ketchup ;) If you want to make a vegetarian version just switch the sausage to the one that is meat free. Hope you'll try it and enjoy it!
Below recipe taken from "Ballymaloe Cookery Course" cookbook.


"Toad in the hole is a traditional British dish consisting of sausages in Yorkshire pudding batter, usually served with vegetables and onion gravy. The origin of the name "Toad-in-the-Hole" is often disputed. Many suggestions are that the dish's resemblance to a toad sticking its head out of a hole provides the dish with its somewhat unusual name. It is rumoured to have been called "Frog-in-the-Hole" in the past, although little evidence exists to support this theory. It has also been referred to as "sausage toad"."  - by wikipedia.org


"An 1861 recipe by Charles Elme Francatelli does not mention sausages, instead including as an ingredient bits and pieces of any kind of meat, which are to be had cheapest at night when the day's sale is over." This recipe was described, as "English cooked-again stewed meat" or "Toad in the Hole", in the first book of modern Italian cuisine of the nineteenth century, (1891), in which the meat was nothing but left-over stewed meat cooked again in batter. During the 1940's, a wartime variation on the original used pieces of Spam in place of sausages. An earlier recipe with a similar style is found in Hannah Glasse's 1747 The Art of Cookery, where she presents a recipe for "Pigeons in a Hole", essentially pigeons cooked in a Yorkshire pudding batter." - by wikipedia.org

How to make it...

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Rhubarb & apple jam...

Summer is the season of putting things in jars. It's that time of the year with the abundance of fresh fruit and vegetables. Personally I love the whole process of preserving food in jars. I love chopping and simmering (usually fruit) on top of the stove. I love the sweet, fruity smell that fill my kitchen and the rest of the house. And I simply can't wait to try and see what will be the result of the fruit combination I made that time. Apart from the obvious - that you save money when you make your own jam, chutneys etc. and the fact that you exactly know what you're eating (no colourants, E-ingredients and unnecessary ingredients in your preserves) I simply like the feeling of accomplishment! :) I like the look of my cupboard shelf and the knowledge  - Yes, I made all that! All home made and natural, labor of love!
This time it was rhubarb - which again I was fortunate enough to get a bag full for free! I normally don't use jam sugar and stick to the caster one, but decided to give it a go. I think that using jam sugar allows me to use less sugar in general, making me feel that I'm making that particular jam a little bit "healthier" ;)





How to make it...

Monday, July 14, 2014

Cauliflower pakoras...

I love cauliflower and I love Indian cuisine. Adding to that the fact, that not even one of River Cottage recipes failed me - it's surely a recipe for a success :) But even considering all the above I wasn't sure that it will fully work out this time round... I was afraid that the cauliflower will be too hard/crunchy for my two little girls or that it will be too spicy (even though my girls like spicy food, Indian in particular). I shouldn't have been worried at all! The florets were very small, and cooked all the way through, with still a tiny crunch to them, which was great. I've reduced the amount of spices, so my girls could enjoy it too - and they did! :) Cauliflower pakoras disappeared almost immediately after they were fried! As soon as they were cool enough to handle and eat - it was all gone! I'm already thinking of making a "mixed veg" pakoras next time round!


"Pakoras are created by taking one or two ingredients (like onion, eggplant, spinach, cauliflower, soft cheese - paneer, chicken...) and dipping then in a batter of gram flour and then deep-frying them. The onion version is known as onion bhajji. Pakoras are usually served as snacks or appetizers." - by wikipedia.org

How to make it...

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Cherry syrup....

I have a cupboard full of jams and marmalades but no sweet, fruity syrups. This originally was supposed to be yet another jam, but halfway through the making I've changed my mind and went for syrup like consistency - what a brilliant idea that was! My cherry syrup turned out to be perfect for adding it to my morning porridge, plain or vanilla yogurt, stirring into a hot tea (looking forward to this especially during long, winter evenings), pouring over ice cream or pancakes, mixing it with water to make juicy drink for my little girls or adding to alcoholic drinks for adults ;)
The recipe is very simple and you literally need only two ingredients (or three if, like me, you want to add the lemon juice too). It's so versatile and another idea of putting the abundance of this year's cherries into a good use! Do you have any other idea as to how I can use my ruby red syrup? What to add it to?




How to make it...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Lime and poppy seed loaf / cake...

Poppy seeds are used in Poland very often. Mainly in bakeries to decorate, sprinkling on the top - fresh rolls, danish pastries or as a main ingredients - for example in very popular "makowiec" (poppy seed cake, with a filling of paste like mixed poppy seeds, dates and honey). I like poppy seeds a lot! That little crunch and very distinctive taste also... poppies are one of my favourite flowers in my garden :)
The below recipe comes from The Hummingbird Bakery cook book. It's the very first one in which I haven't reduced the amount of sugar, as when looking at the recipe I though it's just about right - and it was! Although I've changed something, the main ingredients... The original recipe calls for lemons, and I so don't like lemons in my cakes and in the kitchen in general (the only exception up to date being lemon curd cupcakes). Whenever I have something lemony I feel like eating washing up liquid :( but... I like limes! They're completely different. Their taste is fresher and lighter for me :) So I made a swap - and what a result! I also didn't make the syrup (lemon juice + sugar) to pour over the hot cake. I made a glaze out of icing sugar, which is one of the most popular ways of finishing danish pastries and cakes in Poland.
The cake was light, soft, moist with a zingy lime taste and crunchy poppy seeds in the middle. Perfect fresh taste for summer and I think it's one of my favourite cakes ever! And... even my 4 years old Baby J ate it! And she really doesn't have a "sweet tooth", but she ate two thick slices of this one :D You never have to convince Baby E - as she's more than happy to eat any kind of cake, cupcakes, chocolate, cookies etc.! Took it after mummy ;)




How to make it...

Saturday, July 05, 2014

Gooseberry & almond tray-bake...

As it's summer, fresh fruit are in abundance and I got that bag of fresh gooseberries - this is another cake that was made using them. The recipe came from a great website (which I highly recommend to visit, if by any chance you haven't done it before) - BBC Good Food. The cake turned out great, it was more of a pie, reminded me a little of bakewell tart. It was beautiful. Pastry was easy to make and it had a great taste thanks to those ground almonds in it. It was delicious cold and warm with a side of cream ;) You don't have to precook gooseberries or prepare them in any special way before adding them to your tray bake - they will cook properly during baking. I made three of those tray-bakes (rather than making one big one) - one for home, one for the office and the last one as a "thank you" gift for a person who gave me all the free gooseberries in the first place :)





How to make it...

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Gooseberry coconut cake....

I love gooseberries, their sharp taste. They always remind me of my childhood too :) Of hot summers spent at my Nan's. Surprisingly, even tho gooseberries are in season now, it's quite difficult to buy them here in Ireland, and if you're lucky enough to get them they cost a fortune! (something around €2,50 for 300 g small little box). I was very lucky to receive a bag full of it! Almost 3,5 kg! And all for free - how good it is to know people who have their own gardens and actually grow fruit and vegetables :)
But getting such a great present is a blessing and kind of a problem too - what to do with it all?! I'm known for NOT wasting my food, for using all, for trying not to throw away anything. So... After some browse online I found some really interesting recipes on the Good Food website. The below is a first result of me using the little, green jewels ;) Next in line was almond & gooseberry tray bake, quickly followed by the delicious gooseberry jam (don't worry - those recipes will be here soon!), the rest was topped and tailed and off to the freezer.
I loved this cake - combination of coconut and gooseberries is perfect! The crunchy top brings another texture and makes the cake more fun :)





How to make it...