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Shortbread Biscuits

Dec 13, 2023

Shortbread Biscuits make wonderful Edible Christmas Gifts!

The delightful buttery flavour and crunchy texture of shortbread makes it irresistible. Fine shortbread biscuits appear in most luxury goods displays at this time of year. Sold in brightly coloured tubes and nestled among the prints, 3-D cards, candles, scarves and gloves they certainly endure as a considered gift for discerning givers. They are also a God send for last minute shoppers. Just baked, homemade shortbread is beyond compare as it is the tastiest and the best. Delicately crisp, the rich buttery flavour is enough to make your heart flutter. When covered in a light dusting of caster sugar, the experience reminds me of the pleasure of a fall of uncompacted snow. Shortbread is very easy to make with the added benefit of containing ingredients that you probably have in your fridge or pantry. For some festive baking, this shortbread recipe, made in a food processor, is whipped up like any cookie dough. Extremely quick...

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Chocolate Yule Log

Dec 13, 2023
 

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A chocolate roulade makes an elaborate centrepiece at this time of year, so why not give your family a fabulous festive treat with this chocolate roulade. My flourless chocolate roulade is deliciously light and gluten free. Combining cherries, orange and a rich chocolate mousse like filling, it is the perfect prepare ahead dessert as it tastes even better when made the day before. Flavours such as brandy, cointreau, coffee, sweetened chestnut purée and even ginger can be added to the chocolate sponge or filling. 

Decorate into a Yule log for an elaborate, luxurious seasonal centrepiece. 

Sponge
200g dark chocolate (max 55% cocoa solids), coarsely chopped
25g butter
5 eggs, room temperature, separated into yolks and whites
150g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Chocolate Filling
125g dark chocolate, broken into squares
250g butter, softened
40g icing sugar, sieved
2 tbsp milk

Grease and...

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Mince Pies

Dec 12, 2023

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Mince Pies play such a big part in a typical Christmas.  My grandma made them every year and while she always made her pastry by hand, she only ever used a jar of mincemeat.  I start to bake mince pies at home from the first week in December.  While my kids love the taste of them, they love making them even more with this easy recipe.  They make gorgeous presents wrapped up in florist cello-wrap and tied up with a festive ribbon.

Since I bake alot, I find my muffin tins have the perfect size hollows for filling deep mince pies.  If you have a shallower tins, be careful not to fill them to the brim as the mincemeat filling will expand while being baked.  Make them in advance and leave in the freezer uncooked and bake them when you need them.

There are lots of ways you can add your own signature to mincemeat. You can add some extra crunch with toasted chopped hazelnuts or bitter...

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Santa Hat Cupcakes

Dec 12, 2023

By now the house will be strewn with tinsel and glittering baubles.  It is the perfect time to indulge in a bit of festive baking alongside a playlist of holiday tunes. These red velvet cupcakes are show stoppers! The cocoa powder in the sponge gives them a mild chocolate flavour and rich colour. For the fabulous red icing I use cream cheese which lends a contrasting tangy taste to these sweet cupcakes.

Red velvet bakes have an intriguing trompe l’oeil effect signalling to the brain ‘red fruit’, whilst the flavour of the cake is actually chocolate, due to the addition of cocoa powder.  Commercial bakers achieve a vibrant deep red sponge purely by adding artificial red food colouring as it maintains a stable colour after baking which doesn’t fade.  However the manufacturer’s labelling indicates it should be used sparingly (so it’s wise to ask mum to supervise the amount used).  In this recipe, I have kept the red colouring to a...

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How to make Gingerbread Biscuits

Dec 06, 2023

No one is too young or too old to enjoy making gingerbread biscuits. The smell of orange, ginger and mixed spice wafting through the house on a cold wintery day is completely enticing.

Perfect gingerbread: From people to entire villages, let your imagination run wild. Gingerbread can be cut into every shape imaginable and decorated as delicately or as gaudily as you like. Now is the right time to make gingerbread that will last right up until Christmas Day.

If you’re of a mature and civilised persuasion, gingerbread biscuits are lovely dunked in a cup of tea in the morning. For the rest of us, they can be cut into every shape imaginable and decorated as delicately or as gaudily as you like.

Younger children might want to use cutters to make sure their biscuits have a recognisable shape. They can go to town with brightly coloured icing, sprinkles and baubles. The sky is the limit for older bakers. From gingerbread people and animals, to entire gingerbread villages, you can let...

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Sausage Rolls

Dec 05, 2023
 

An all time Irish snack Classic

The sausage roll is one of the most beloved snack pastries available here on the Emerald Isle. What could be better than a delicious sausage wrapped in puff pasty? Well, nothing! Of course you won't know that until you try it! :)

Think of pigs in a blanket: a traditional US classic for parties and events, made with hot dogs wrapped in crescent rolls. But what if they were homemade from a real Irish recipe with fresh pork sausage? These delicious morsels are so popular you can find them behind the deli at any convenience store in Ireland, and they're one of the highest selling pastries available in Ireland as well as the UK. They form a big part of many Irish people's day to day cuisine, and to say they're addictive would be an understatement. Once you try them, you'll want to make them again and again! Here's the recipe!

Ingredients (Makes about 20):

  • 1lb of puff pastry

For the Filling

  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1lb pork sausagemeat
  • 3 tbsp...
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Smoked Salmon Terrines

Nov 23, 2023
 

A terrine with smoked salmon is something you can prepare ahead for Christmas. 
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Ingredients:
10 slices of smoked salmon
2-3 tbsp of freshly squeezed lemon juice
200g crème fraîche
200g cream cheese
1 tbsp of freshly chopped dill
salt and pepper
For the Cucumber:
1 cucumber
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp dill
1 tsp salt
pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Peel, deseed and finely slice the cucumber and place in a bowl.  Sprinkle over the salt, mix and allow to marinate for 30 minutes.
  2. Line 4 ramekins with a double layer of cling film.  Cut away any waxy edges from the smoked salmon (reserve these smoked salmon trimmings) then place 2 overlapping slices of smoked salmon over the clingfilm.
  3. Chop up the smoked salmon trimmings and put in a bowl together with the crème fraîche and cream cheese, lemon juice and dill.  Mix...
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How to make a Carrot Cake 3 Ways

Sep 26, 2023
 

Carrot cake fans seem to fall into two categories: those who insist their carrot cake should be light, fluffy and cloud-like; and those who prefer a believe the perfect carrot cake is dense, moist and rich. I fall into the latter. The only thing the two camps seem to agree on is that the cake should definitely include a thick layer of cream cheese frosting with a citrusy hint. Historically carrots were a good source of sweetness when sugar and dried fruits were extremely expensive. Carrot cake seems to have its roots in a sweet meat dish. Much like mincemeat, it slowly lost its meat and gained sugar over the centuries. During the second world war, carrot cake took off, making the best use of a home grown source of sweetness. The oil in the mixture means this is a beautifully moist cake which will keep very well. Once the frosting has been added, the cake should be refrigerated. A butter-based cake will firm up in the fridge, but the oil in this cake means it will stay moist even...

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Brown Soda Bread

Mar 14, 2023

Brown Soda Bread - An Irish Staple

Its not uncommon for you to be offered soda bread when staying in a B&B anywhere in Ireland.

Long ago, the Irish mostly made flat griddle bread because Irish flour didn’t have enough gluten to rise with yeast. Baking soda was developed in the US in 1846 and was quickly adopted by Irish cooks, as it enabled bread with Irish flour to rise. In the late 1800s, white Canadian flour with a higher gluten content came over on returning emigration ships, and bakeries started making white bread raised with yeast, known as “shop bread”, and distributing it by horse and cart.

Irish Soda Bread is delicious and like all recipes, you can make your own changes to please your taste. I discovered one tip from a recipe that I looked up years ago - use raw, unsalted sunflower seeds and mix them in thoroughly. The chemical interaction of the soda and the raw sunflower seeds causes the seeds to turn a beautiful, emerald green that looks fantastic...

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Store Cupboard Pasta - any night of the week!

Jan 10, 2023
 

Spaghetti alla puttanesca is the ultimate fast food dish!  An iconic dish from the city of Naples, Italy.  The pasta is dressed in a rich and flavourful sauce which can be made in less time than it takes to boil a pot of linguine, spaghetti or any pasta you choose.  The basic ingredients are pantry staples including tinned tomatoes, garlic, anchovies, olives and capers.  I like to add thinly sliced carrots and since this dish should be salty, piquant and hot. and you can add extra heat with the addition of crushed chillies (another of my store cupboard favourites).

My top tip when cooking pasta, is to always use plenty of water, plenty of salt and keep the pasta on a rolling boil (not splashing!), lid off.

Because anchovies are quite salty it is unlikely that salt will be required but black pepper and perhaps a pinch of sugar to balance the acidity of tinned tomatoes will suffice as seasoning.

It is such a simple, cheap and delicious recipe.  You'll...

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