Thursday, 28 February 2013

Zesty Orange Cake

Thursday evening has arrived, which means when I wake in the morning I will be filled with the Friday feeling! I'm heading back to the mother-ship in county Clare tomorrow, so thought I best make something tasty to bring along for my Mom and Dad. I had a very busy evening so settled for a pretty simple recipe from 'The Primrose Bakery Book'. I've only ever made this cake once before, but my Dad is a fan of orange, so I know it will go down well at home. This book is absolutely bursting with unique and innovative ideas and is a go to book on my cookbook shelf at the moment. This cake is really light and I love the zesty flavour of orange throughout. The glaze on top works really well with the creamy icing inside the cake. No doubt a slice of this zesty number will be a great way to start the weekend!


Zesty Orange Cake

Ingredients
For the Sponge
225g butter
22g sugar
Zest of 1 orange
4 eggs
225g self-raising flour

For buttercream
125g butter (room temperature)
20ml orange juice (freshly squeezed)
150g icing sugar
Zest of 1/2 an orange

For the glaze
200g icing sugar
2-3 tablespoons of freshly squeezed orange juice

Method
1. Preheat the oven to 180C and grease two 20cm sandwich tins with butter, lining the base of 
    each tin with baking paper.
2. For the sponge, cream together the butter, sugar and lemon zest. Next add the eggs one at a 
    time, mixing (preferably with an electric hand mixer) after each addition. Finally add the flour 
    and beat into the mixture until well combined. Place the mixture evenly between the two tins 
    and bake in the centre of the oven for 20-25 minutes (or until a skewer comes out clean when 
    inserted into the middle of the cake). Allow to cool completely on a wire rack.
3. For the buttercream, mix together the butter, orange juice, zest and icing sugar until smooth. 
4. For the glaze, mix together the icing sugar and orange juice until you get a runny, liquid 
    consistency.



The Assembly
Spread the buttercream on the top of one of the sponge cakes and then sandwich the two cakes together. Pour the glaze over the top and allow to run down the sides. Decorate with orange zest or decorations of your choice!

E-D's Notes
- This cake can just as easily be made with lemon zest and juice for all the lemon lovers out 
   there!
- I didn't have too much time for decoration tonight, but this cake could easily be decorated with 
  orange segments, orange zest on top, or even orange chocolate shavings!

Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Chicken, Bacon & Spinach Tagliatelle

Sunday evening called for a quick and easy dinner, that was tasty and went down well with a nice bottle of red wine. This recipe was just the ticket, and was prepared, cooked and served in under 30 minutes. Some of my 'fridge favourites' feature in this recipe including bacon, spinach, chorizo and parmesan. I picked up this delicious spring onion tagliatelle in my local aldi store last week on special. The flavour was great, but what I love about this pasta is the colour! The green compliments the other ingredients perfectly. For me, how food looks can be just as important as how it tastes, in fact I'd go as far to say that well presented food often tastes best!





Ingredients
2 Chicken Breasts
2 inches of chorizo (sliced)
2 slices of smoked bacon (chopped)
1 onion
5 mushrooms (chopped)
3 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons of cream cheese
2 tablespoons of pesto
Tagliatelle (3 nests per person)
2-3 teaspoons of parmesan (optional)
Salt & Pepper to season

Method
1. Fry off the bacon for 2-3 minutes in a large frying, before adding the chicken.
2. Once the chicken is whitened, add the onions and garlic and continue to cook for another 4 
    minutes before adding the mushroom and chorizo. Season well with salt and pepper.
3. Meanwhile, cook your pasta as per the packet instructions. 
4. Add the spinach to the chicken mixture and allow to cook until wilted. Check that the chicken 
    is cooked through, then add the pesto and cream cheese and stir into the mixture until 
    everything is well coated.
5. Once the pasta is cooked, plate up and top with the chicken mixture. To finish sprinkle with 
    parmesan shavings and serve. Bellissimo! 




E-D's Notes
This recipe can of course be put together using any type of pasta, be it penne, macaroni or 
farfalle (bows).

Monday, 25 February 2013

Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Since my time spent living in the U.K. I've always wanted to make a chicken and mushroom pie. I don't have much recollection of pies in our house growing up with the exception of Shepard's Pie which I recall detesting and to this day dislike! Savoury pies are real comfort foods, perfect for chilly winter evenings. Surprisingly  this pie doesn't take too long at all, and even though I made my shortcrust pastry by hand, you can just as easily use ready made shop bought pastry. This pie is perfect for an everyday family dinner, or relaxed dinner with friends. 


Chicken and Mushroom Pie

Ingredients
600g (3-4) chicken breasts (chopped)
150g mushrooms (quartered)
1 onion
3 cloves of garlic
50g butter
2 tbsp flour
300ml milk
200ml chicken stock
Handful of fresh parsely
1 egg (beaten)
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt & Pepper to season

For the pastry
375g flour
165g butter
120ml tbsp cold water




Method
1. Preheat the oven to 200C. Heat the oil in the pan, add the chicken and fry until white.
2. Next add the mushrooms, garlic and onions and continue to fry with the chicken for a further 
    2-3 minutes or until the onion is softened.
3. Once the chicken is golden brown in colour, remove from the heat and set aside. Next for the 
    roux melt the butter in a medium sized saucepan and mix in the flour. Stir continuously until 
    the mixture resembles a thick paste.
4. Place the chicken stock and milk together in a jug. Slowly add this to the flour mixture and 
    continue to heat (stirring continuously) until the sauce thickens. Add the chopped parsley and 
    season well with salt and pepper.
5. Pour the sauce over the chicken and mushroom mixture and spoon into a pie dish and leave 
    aside to cool down completely. 
6. Roll out the pastry on a floured surface to a thickness of 3-4mm. Brush the edges of the pie 
    dish with beaten egg and then place the pastry on top, pressing down and trimming the 
    edges. I cut out some heart shapes to place on top. Cut four slits in the pastry to allow air to 
    escape. Brush the pastry top with any remaining egg.
7. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is golden.

For the pastry
1. Rub the butter into the flour using fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Work 
    quickly to try and keep everything cold. 
2. Add a little water, and using a knife, bring the mixture together until it forms a dough.
3. Place the dough in cling film and put in the fridge for 20 minutes before rolling out.

E-D's Notes
- In case you are unfamiliar with the term 'roux', a roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat (in this    
  case butter) which forms the basis of many sauces.
- Ensure to roll your pastry out thinly (a thickness of approximately 3-4mm) as otherwise it can 
  over power the chicken mixture and the meal will be quite heavy and difficult to eat.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

Simple Shortbread

This afternoon I was hosting afternoon tea for my cousin in order to have a chat and a catch up. The cousin in question is a big fan of shortbread.....as am I! I have always loved making shortbread, and it was one of the first things I learnt how to make solo as a child. I make shortbread quite often and usually opt to roll out my dough and cut it out into shapes be it rounds or hearts. That said as I child I used to always ask my Mom to buy us the Walkers petticoat tails in the supermarket instead of the shortbread fingers because I was convinced they tasted nicer! So today I decided to put an old theory to the test and made petticoat tails for a change. The result: I was a wise child, petticoat tails somehow do taste nicer! This recipe provides just the right amount for a cup of tea with friends, without having too many left over for you to have to finish.



Simple Shortbread

Ingredients
125g plain flour
125g butter
60g corn flour
60g sugar
3 tablespoons milk

Method

1. Mix flour and cornflour in a bowl. Then rub the butter into the flour using your fingertips
2. Stir in the sugar. Next add 2-3 tablespoons of milk and bring the mixture together using a 
    knife until it forms a dough. Knead gently.
3. Roll out the dough on a floured surface into a 7 inch round (use a bowl or round tray as a 
    template to cut around if needed). Press the edges of the round with a fork and mark all over 
    with a fork.
4, Place on a buttered baking tray and bake at 140C (or 160 for non fan assisted ovens) for 
    35 minutes or until pale golden brown. Allow to cool on the tray for 10 minutes before 
    sprinkling with sugar to serve.





Saturday, 23 February 2013

Lovely Lemon Souffle

Over the Christmas holidays, my Mom and I spent an entire day on the couch watching re-runs of the great British Bake Off. It's such a fantastic show and really gave us lots of great ideas for trying over the Christmas, that we ordinarily wouldn't have the time for. On one episode  the challenge was soufflés. What ever happened in the kitchen that day, every contestants soufflé was a flop....quite literally. Following on from this, my Mom and I have been threatening to make soufflés ever since, but hadn't gotten around to it. So last weekend, a cold and rainy Sunday provided the perfect opportunity to give them a go. My Mom recalled that my brother used to make soufflés years ago but we couldn't put our finger on the recipe. So instead I decided to ask the soufflé queen herself.....Mary Berry. I found this fantastic Lemon Soufflé recipe on the BBC website and found it brilliant! Once you stick to recipe closely you really can't go wrong! As a soufflé novice I needed an expert recipe, and an expert recipe I found.


Lovely Lemon Soufflé

Ingredients
2 lemons (juice and zest)
2 egg yolks and 4 egg whites
125g caster sugar
3 rounded tsps of cornflour
1 rounded tsps of plain flour
90ml double cream
110ml full fat milk
melted butter (for greasing)
icing sugar for dusting (optional)


Method
1. Brush the inside of each ramekin well with melted butter and shake a little sugar inside 
    each ramekin until the sides are lightly coated. Tip out any excess sugar and and set the 
    ramekins aside. Preheat the oven to 180C and place the baking tray in the centre of the 
    oven.
2. Place the cream, flour and cornflour in a bowl and whisk to form a smooth paste.
3. Next warm the milk in a large saucepan over a medium heat until just boiling, then 
    remove from the heat. Mix a small amount of the hot milk into the flour mixture, and mix 
    until the mixture resembles thick cream, pressing out any lumps. Once smooth add the  
    remaining milk and mix before pouring the whole mixture back into the saucepan and 
    placing on a gentle heat. Beat vigorously with a hand whisk until it is thickened  
   (continue to whisk continuously so the mixture does not stick).
4. When you feel the mixture is thickening, remove from the heat and whisk in the lemon 
    juice and zest a little a time.Meanwhile using a wooden spoon, beat together the sugar 
    and egg yolks until they form a thick paste. Then add this paste to the contents of the 
    saucepan and place back on the heat to thicken. Whisk until it begins to bubble then 
    remove from the heat again (the mixture should look like custard). Put it to one side to 
    cool.
5. Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until they form soft peaks. When the mixture in the 
    saucepan has cooled, add one large spoon of the egg whites and beat well. Next using a 
    large metal spoon, gently fold in the egg whites, ensuring to go around the outside and 
    cut through the middle in order to fold in the air bubbles slowly without breaking them up. 
    Continue until the mixture looks pale and yellow without any streaks of egg white.
6. Fill the ramekins to the brim with the mixture and then level off with a spatula. Run a  
    thumb nail around the inside of the ramekins (this will help them to rise evenly).  
7. Place the ramekins on a baking tray in the middle of the oven and cook for about 14 
    minutes until risen and turning golden. Time and watch the soufflés carefully. DO NOT 
    open the oven during cooking time. 
8. Once risen and golden, remove from the oven and serve immediately. Dust with icing 
    sugar if desired.




E-D's Notes
Soufflés are a little like Chocolate Fondants, it's all about the timing! So get the timers out watch them very carefully!

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Kite in the Clouds Cake

This week a very good friend of mine was leaving her current job to move on to something new. She wanted me to make a cake to celebrate all the good times and wonderful people she has been working with over the last few years. We discussed all the options for what would make up the delicious core of the cake and decided on a luscious lemon madeira with lemon butter-cream icing. The cake itself is a 9 inch square cake, which I covered in delicious lemon butter-cream before covering it neatly in 'cloudy' fondant icing. The kite is actually one of Enable Ireland's logo which my friend really wanted to incorporate into the cake. The result is a bright and colourful cake which looked quite the treat for her coffee morning! 




Lemon Madeira Cake

Ingredients (for a 9 inch square cake)
340g sugar
340g butter
520g self-raising flour
6 eggs (beaten)
3 lemons (juice and zest)

Method
1. Beat together the sugar and butter until pale and creamy.
2. Add the beaten egg a little at a time.
3. Add the lemon juice and zest of 2 lemons and mix well.
4. Finally fold in the flour and mix gently until all the ingredients are combined.
5. Spoon the mixture into a lined tin and cook in the centre of the oven for 40-50 minutes at 
    180C. To check the cake is ready, dip a sharp knife into the centre of the cake and continue 
    to cook until the knife comes out clean.

Lemon Buttercream Icing

Ingredients
140g butter
300g icing sugar
Juice and zest of 1 lemon

Method
Mix all ingredients togther using a handheld mixer until light and fluffy.



The Decoration

- The cake features a colourful kite which I modelled out of fondant icing. Colouring fondant can 
   be quite time consuming, but I always leave left over colours in sealed bags for odds and 
   ends on different cakes. Once the icing isn't exposed to air it will keep for some time, and 
   save you a lot of time!
-  I achieved the 'cloudy' or marbled effect on the cake by twisting a blue and white sausage of 
   fondant together repeatedly until achieving the desired effect
- The lettering was achieved by cutting out a selection of different coloured circles and choosing 
   complimenting colours and letter cutters to write the message.


Sunday, 17 February 2013

Chocolate & Cinnamon Baked Alaska

Baked Alaska is what I would call an Oldie but a Goody!! This weekend I arrived home to my parents house and had this idea that I would love to attempt a Baked Alaska. I have actually never eaten or even seen a baked Alaska in reality and when I mentioned it to my Dad he seemed less than impressed. Baked Alaska was all the rage in the 70's, but I think my Dad's  perception of a Baked Alaska was very different to what I was setting out to create. My mission began......making a stunningly spectacular and undoubtedly delicious Baked Alaska! But perhaps more importantly proving my Dad wrong! This dessert comprises of an ice-cream centre, with a chocolate cake base, all topped with gooey meringue. I have to say, the different variations of this dessert you could create are endless, and I feel this might just be the first, in a series of Baked Alaska that E-D will do!



Chocolate and Cinnamon Baked Alaska

Ingredients
For the cake
500g ice-cream (of your choice; chocolate, vanilla, cookie dough etc.)
25g dark chocolate
65g butter
65g sugar
1 egg (beaten)
65g self-raising flour

For the meringue
2 egg whites
100g sugar




Method
1. For the ice-cream centre, line a small pudding or dome shaped bowl with cling film and fill 
    with  ice-cream of your choice. I used delicious HB Carte D'Or Cinnamon Caramel Waffle 
    Ice-Cream (a little pricey but very indulgent!). Place in the freezer in the bowl to set.
2. Meanwhile for the chocolate cake base, cream together the butter and sugar until pale and 
    creamy. Next add in the beaten egg whisk until well incorporated. Melt the chocolate in a 
    bowl set over a pan of boiling, once melted incorporate into the mixture. Finally fold in the 
    flour gently. Spoon the mixture into an 8inch tin with the base lined and sides greased. Place 
    in the oven at 180C and cook for 15-18 mins until the cake bounces back when pressed 
    firmly. Turn cake out on to wire rack to cool completely. 
3. For the meringue, whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl until the mixture forms soft peaks. 
    Whisk in half of the sugar until glossy and then fold in the remaining sugar. 



The Assembly

Remove the ice-cream from the freezer and place upside down on the chocolate cake base. Place the meringue into a piping bag (or alternatively spoon carefully) and begin to pipe soft peaks all over the ice-cream. Ensure to seal the ice-cream in, being careful not to leave a gap between the cake base and ice-cream. Finally, using a blow torch, gently heat the edges of the meringue until golden alternatively place the Baked Alaska into the oven at 220C for 3-4 minutes until the meringue is golden.


E-D's Notes
- I like to serve this dessert with a chocolate sauce of freshly whipped cream
- There are lots of great alterations you could make to this dessert, by using a different ice-
  cream in the centre or different cake base you can achieve a whole new dessert so get 
  creative!
- If you like raspberries, why not add a layer of raspberries between the ice-cream and 
  chocolate cake.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Oaty Cereal Bars

Hard to believe it's half way through the week again and that Thursday is nearly upon us! Looking forward to some Valentines festivities tomorrow and enjoying a nice meal out with the lovely Molly. This evenings post is a little something I have been working on and perfecting over the last few nights. I am finding 11.00am in work a tricky time the last couple of weeks as I just feel absolutely ravenous and end up eating half my lunch as I tend to be so ill prepared! Molly requested my assistance in the kitchen at the weekend in order to make some home-made protein bars for him to snack on before gym time, which got me to thinking....cereal bars! The perfect mid morning snack. Unfortunately as I have a severe nut allergy, my choices in the cereal, oat and granola bar department are limited to non-existent! Not to mention the hefty price tag that often accompanies 'healthy' 'natural' and 'organic' bars. Making your own cereal bars is a really cost effective not to mention delicious idea. Thrifty but tasty is always a winner! Though these bars are a made using a nut free recipe, feel free to add your own bits and pieces. These bars can be made the weekend and will last all week if kept in an airtight container!

Home-Made Oaty Cereal Bars

Ingredients

180g oats
40g rice krispies
80g sunflower seeds
40g brown sugar
100g honey
40g of coconut oil (alternativey butter can be used).
1 teaspoon of vanilla essence
30g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids or more)
20g of dried cranberries (optional)



Method
1. Place the oats, rice krispies and chopped dark chocolate into a bowl and set aside. If you 
    have dried cranberries these can also be added.
2. In a small saucepan melt the coconut oil, sugar and honey. Once melted allow to boil gently 
    for two minutes, it will be bubbling at this point
3. Combine the wet and dry ingredients in a large bowl, mixing well until all of the dry 
    ingredients are well coated.
4. Line an 8 x 6 inch dish with parchment paper, and grease lightly. Place the mixture in the dish 
    and press down gently so the mixture is well compacted.
5. Place in the fridge for 45 minutes before cutting into bars and placing in an air tight 
    container.



E-D's Notes
- Dried cranberries can be quite sweet, so small amounts really will go a long way.
- Though I used sunflower seeds, pumpkin and sesame seeds would also do the trick.
- I picked up the cute cupcake bakery bags in Dealz, a pack of 8 for €1.49, perfect for giving 
  away your baked treats as gifts, or just to brighten up your lunch box!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

The Perfect Marinade

Over the last couple of weeks, Molly and I have been trying to treat ourselves to a nice piece of steak once a week. We eat a lot of chicken, turkey and bacon, so having a nice beef steak is a welcome, albeit expensive addition to our evening menu. I usually serve steak with a tasty potato dish like dauphinoise potatoes or home-made chips or wedges. I get our steaks from the local butchers and depending on the day will usually opt for scotch fillets, matured rump steak or on a very special occasion go all out and treat us to some fillets! No matter the cut, one thing never changes....my marinade. This marinade is incredible, gives the meat such flavour and is super easy to throw together!


The Perfect Marinade

Ingredients
1 small onion (chopped finely)
3 cloves of garlic (chopped finely)
2 tablespoons of whole grain Dijon mustard
4 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
Salt and Pepper

Method
1. Simply place all the ingredients together in a bowl and combine.
2. Place the steaks into the marinade and season well with salt and pepper.
3. Cover with cling-film and leave in the fridge for a minimum of an hour.
4. Heat a pea sized amount of oil on a pan and place steak and marinade on the pan and cook 
    to preferred temperature (preferably rare of course!)


E-D's Notes
-  This marinade is really versatile and is also delicious served with pork chops, chicken or 
    even turkey.
-  The longer the meat is left in the marinade the stronger the flavour will be.

Monday, 4 February 2013

Valentine Bear

February is here which means it's finally Spring time! All we need now is for things to warm up and for the sun to come out. With February comes a very special day that all those in love....love and all those not, well dislike. Feburary 14th is just around the corner and I'm sharing my Teddy love early so you too can have one ready for your loved ones! Believe me, nothing says 'I Love You' like a fully edible bear!

This Valentine Bear is a perfect gift for any loved one big or small. I made the bear from roll out icing. I used a skewer down the centre of the bear to stabilize him and keep him upright. Though this bear is the perfect cake topper for a valentines cake, it's also perfect for birthdays, christenings and baby showers. The blue coloured bow can be interchanged for a pink one, the heart changed for a blanket. I achieved the pattern on the bears body using the back of a paintbrush. This bear can be put together very simply but is very effective and is incredibly cute!