Saturday, 30 March 2013

Croissants

I have such fond memories of eating croissants as a child, sitting on a country wall in France alongside my siblings. We used to holiday in France quite often when I was young, and I always loved the French pastries and cuisine. Croissants were always a treat whilst on Summer holiday at home here in Ireland, probably because they were quite expensive, relatively speaking back in the day.  To this day I still treat myself now and then to a croissant but had never really considered making them. I always had the impression croissants were tricky and and time consuming and I can now report that my impression was pretty accurate. Being quite the croissant novice I had to follow an expert on this one and so this recipe is adapted from Mary Berry's complete cookbook. Allow yourself plenty of time as the recipe has quite a few steps and requires a little patience.


Croissants

Ingredients
500g string white flour
1/2 tsp salt
300g butter (at room temperature)
7g sachet of fast action dried yeast
30g sugar
150ml milk
150ml very hot water
Sunflower oil for greasing
Beaten egg or milk for glazing


Method
1. Place the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl. Then add 60g of the butter and rub with your 
    fingertips until the mixture is breadcrumb like. Next add the sugar and then the yeast. Create 
    a well in the centre of the bowl and add the water and milk. Then bring the mixture together 
    with a wooden spoon until a smooth dough is formed. Cover the dough in the bowel with 
    oiled cling film and place in the fridge for approximately 2 hours.

2. On a sheet of baking parchment, smear the remaining butter into a rectangle (12 x 20cm). 
    Cover with baking parchment and chill.

3. Next roll out the dough on a floured surface into an 18 x35cm rectangle. Place the chilled  
    butter onto the rectangle so as it covers the top 2/3 of the rectangle. Then fold the bottom 
    third of the dough upwards over the middle third and the top third covered in butter 
    downwards over the middle third until a neat parcel is created (as pictured). Seal the edges 
    of the dough using your hands and place back in the fridge to firm for another 30 minutes.

4. Roll out the dough parcel again into an 18x35cm rectangle and repeat the folding and 
    sealing process. Place the dough into the fridge for a few hours until firm enough to roll.

5. Roll the dough out again into a rectangle of 35x53cm and cut first into 6 squares, and then 
    divide each square into 2 triangles. Roll each triangle from the long side inwards. Then 
    shape the roll into a crescent shape.

6. Shape the croissants and place on a baking tray in a warm place for 30 minutes or until 
    almost double in size. Lightly brush with beaten egg or alternatively milk and place in the 
    oven at 200C (fan) for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown.



E-D's Notes
- The word 'Croissant' means crescent in French, and so these pastries are pretty aptly named.
- I like to serve my croissants warm with a little strawberry jam for something sweet or filled with  
  ham and brie cheese if I'm serving them for lunch.
- This recipe yields 12 croissants. I added a little milk chocolate to 4 of these croissants before 
  completing the final roll and shaping. Simply chop up a little chocolate and enclose in the 
  dough to create beautiful chocolate filled croissants.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Fisherman's Pie

Had such a lovely few days and so glad to be reunited with my Molly after being apart for the last week and a half. I did a spin up to the big smoke yesterday (Dublin) to collect him and bring him down for the Easter holidays with myself and my parents! After boring Molly to tears with wedding talk, it was time for a tasty lunch out. When I got home I got to cooking up a storm and got a little shopping in. Today's dish is perfect for all those celebrating 'Good Friday' and the Easter weekend. A very fishy dish, perfect for the cold snap we're having at the moment in Ireland! A flavoursome fishy dish topped with crisp and creamy mash....perfect!



Fisherman's Pie

Ingredients
1 large onion
1 bouquet garni
50g butter
35g flour
8 medium potatoes
400ml milk
200ml white wine
400g mixed fish fillets (e.g. salmon, cod and smoked haddock)
200g prawns
1 teaspoon of dijon mustard


Method
1. Place the potatoes in a pot of boiling water and simmer 20 minutes until soft. Then mash with 
    a little butter, milk and salt to season.
2. Softened the onion in 25g of butter on a pan for about 5 mins. Then add your liquid and 
    bouquet garni to the pan and bring to a gentle simmer.
3. Meanwhile, prepare your fish by cutting into equal sized cubes. Then add the fish to the   
    simmering liquid mixture and allow to cook for 5 minutes or until the fish is cooked.
4. In a small saucepan, prepare the roux by melting 35g of butter. Then add the flour and stir the 
    mixture until it resembles a paste. Gradually add some of the liquid ( a few ladles at a time) 
    from the fish pan to the roux, stirring until the mixture resembles a creamy sauce. Add one 
    teaspoon of dijon mustard and mix well.
5. Transfer to an oven proof dish, top with the mashed potato and bake for 30 minutes at 180C 
    or until mashed potato is golden.



E-D Does It
- Be careful not to overfill your pie dish as it will bubble and cause a bit of a mess in your oven!
- I like to serve peas with my fisherman pie with petits pois peas to add a little colour!


Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Croquembouche

All this time off has left me with ample time to catch up on all sorts of cookery programmes including Masterchef and the Great British Bake-Off. This not only is great fun but also means endless inspiration of things I need to try. This leads me to the Croquembouche. I will openly admit by no means is this the easiest of desserts to prepare. It may look straightforward ( as I thought watching from my couch) but in fact bringing all the different elements together was far more challenging than I thought. The result however was well worth all the effort. A beautiful shining tower of sugar and pastry, the perfect centre piece for a dinner party or special occasion. 



The croquembouche is a traditional French dessert often served at weddings and special occasions in both Italy and France. I started out by making my own 'Crochembouche' cone to shape the tower around. I then wrapped said cone in baking paper using sticky tape where necessary. I had to call in re-enforcements for this one and between myself and Shaud (my wonderful Mom!), we set up a production line, filling each of the 125 choux buns with creme patissiere. I then built the creme filled choux buns around the cone, using the caramel. The result was equally beautiful and delicious. 

Croquembouche

Ingredients
For the choux buns
150g butter
175g plain flour
5 eggs (beaten)
375ml water

For the creme patisserie
600ml milk
4 eggs and 2 egg yolks
180g sugar
150g butter
100g cornflour
3-4 drops vanilla essence

For the caramel
300ml sugar
225ml water

Method
For the choux buns
1. Preheat the oven to 200C and line 3 baking sheets with baking parchment. 
2. Place the cubed butter and water in a pan and heat until the butter melts. Allow to boil. 
    Remove from the heat and sift in the flour, stirring well until the mixture forms a soft ball.
3. Allow to cool a little before adding the beaten egg and mixing until the mixture looks smooth 
    and glossy. Place the mixture into a piping bag with a 1cm nozel. Butter a baking tray and 
    splash with a little water. Carefully pipe 30 rounds as pictured leaving a little space to allow 
    them to spread and then glaze with beaten egg. 
4.Place in the oven at 200C for ten minutes, then turn the oven down to 170C and bake for a  
   further 15 minutes or until risen and golden. Remove from the a puncture a hole in the base of 
   each bun, allowing air to escape to prevent the buns from going soggy and place on a wire 
   rack.


For the creme patisserie
Place the milk in a pan and bring to a simmer. Once simmering remove from the heat. In heatproof bowl whisk the eggs, egg yolks and sugar together until pale and creamy. Next mix in the flour. Then pour the milk over the egg mixture and stir. Pour the whole mixture back into the 
pan and cook over a low heat for 5 minutes, whisking continuously until the mixture starts to thicken. Remove from the heat and cover with cling film and leave to cool. Then chill until ready to use.



For the caramel
Place the water and sugar in a saucepan and stir gently, until the sugar dissolves. Allow the mixture to come to the boil. When the mixture begins to boil, attach the sugar thermometer to the pan and allow the temperature to rise to 154C. Be careful melted sugar is very hot and sticky. Once 154C is reached, remove from the heat and begin to dip each choux bun in the sugar and build up around the cone, working from the bottom up.



The Assembly
Place the creme patisserie into a piping bag and fill each choux bun through the puncture hole made at the base. Place the cone on a cake board or large plate. Dip each choux bun into the caramelised sugar, and build the tower up from the base up. Sprinkle the cone with icing sugar if desired. Once assembled, allow the caramel to set for 30 minutes.

E-D's Notes
- The cone I used had a 42cm length (side) and an 18cm diameter. I made it using an A2 
  sheet of card, wrapped in baking parchment. I watched a brilliant video on YouTube for a 'how 
   to' guide.
- To decorate, drizzle with melted chocolate or spun sugar.

Monday, 25 March 2013

White Chocolate Panna Cotta

White chocolate is my ultimate treat! I absolutely love a few squares of creamy white chocolate after a hard day at work. When it comes to dessert if white chocolate features in the title...I'm in! I'm such a huge fan of the Choceur white chocolate from Aldi as many of you know, it is by far the tastiest white chocolate I can get my hands on at the moment. This panna cotta is incredibly easy to make, it's pretty cost effective and takes no time at all! The raspberry coulis is the perfect accompaniment for the smooth and creamy flavours of the panna cotta. If serving for a dinner party, take the pressure off and prepare the night before which will give these tasty treats plenty of time to set in the fridge.









White Chocolate Panna Cotta
served with a Raspberry Coulis


Ingredients
For the panna cotta
300ml cream
100ml milk
100g good quality white chocolate
70g sugar
1 sachet of glucose

For the raspberry coulis
100g raspberries (frozen)
2 heaped tsp icing sugar

Method
1. Prepare the sachet of glucose as per box directions (approximately ml of glucose prepared 
   (alternatively you  can use gelatine sheets as per packet instructions).
2. Heat the milk, cream and sugar in a saucepan over a gentle heat until the mixture boils. 
    Remove from the heat and add in the white chocolate, stirring until it melts.
3. Add the gelatine to the mixture and then place in moulds or glasses and once cooled place 
    in the fridge to set (for 5-6 hours or preferably overnight).   

For the raspberry coulis
Defrost the raspberries and mash using a fork. Add two teaspoons of icing sugar and stir into the fruit. Using a sieve, strain the raspberries removing any bits or seeds.




E-D's Notes
I'm a big fan of these fantastic metal pudding moulds from Kitchen Craft. They are perfect for panna cotta, chocolate fondants or other individual desserts. I also use them for creating neat rice moulds or mashed potato when hosting dinner parties!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Coffee Slices

Now if you've been following my posts over the last week or so you may have noticed that I appear to have become slightly obsessed with coffee glaze. The hilarious thing about it is, I don't even like coffee. I don't drink the stuff, I don't even really like the stuff! What I do love is coffee slices and this spans back to my childhood when we used to get 'sticky buns' as a treat for special occasions. We always loved coffee slices in our house and used to fight over the delicious layer of coffee glaze on top. I have been pondering a recipe to try and recreate this childhood memory for quite a while and this morning finally got up and smelt the coffee so to speak! Making puff pastry from scratch has always been a bit off putting to say the least. When I watch the food channels on TV most amateurs bawk at the thought of. So I approached it with my usual attitude of 'how hard can it be'. I am happy to report....not anything as hard as I thought it would be. People say it's not worth the effort and shop bought puff pastry is so much easier. I have to say that in the grand scheme of things puff pastry is a pleasure to make and tastes deliciously buttery when home-made. So if you haven't already, give it a go and I'm sure you'll be as perplexed as I am as to what all the fuss was about! 





Coffee Slices

Ingredients
For the Puff Pastry
250g plain flour
90g lard
90g butter
150ml cold water

For the cream and raspberry filling
300ml cream
100g frozen raspberries
3 tbsp icing sugar

For the coffee glaze
1 tsp instant coffee
15g butter
2 tbsp water
90g icing sugar



Method
For the puff pastry
1. Place the flour in a large mixing bowl. Place the cubed butter and lard into the flour mix until 
    coated. Next add the water and using a knife, bring the mixture together to form a lumpy dough. 
2. Turn the dough out into a flour work surface and roll out so that the dough is three times longer 
    than it is wide. Then fold the bottom third upwards and the top third downwards as pictured. Using  
    your hands seal in the sides with your hands by pressing down gently. Then place in a bag and 
    chill for 15 minutes.
3. Remove from the fridge and place on a floured surface so that the folded edges are to the side (i.e.  the sides you did not press down). Roll the pastry out as you did before and fold the bottom third  
    up and top third down as you did previously, the seal the sides by pushing down with your fingers. 
    Repeat the process 2 further times, ensuring the folded edges are to the side each time. Return to 
    the fridge for a further 30 minutes to chill.
4. Once chilled remove from fridge and roll out into a rectangle twice as wide as it is long. Cut the 
   pastry into 9 even strips. Place on a non-stick baking tray and sprinkle with icing sugar. Bake in the 
   oven at 200C for 15 minutes or until golden and risen. Remove from oven and allow to cool, 
   transferring onto a wire rack after 5 minutes.




For the cream filling
Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks. Add 1 tablespoon of icing sugar and 2 drops of vanilla essence and mix in well.

For the raspberry coulis
Defrost the raspberries and mash using a fork. Add two teaspoons of icing sugar and stir into the fruit. Using a sieve, strain the raspberries removing any bits or seeds.

For the coffee glaze
Place the butter, coffee and water in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water until the butter melts (alternatively microwave the ingredients until the butter melts). Sieve the icing sugar into the mixture and bring together until a thick liquid glaze is created. 


The Assembly
Once cooled carefully cut each pastry slice in half. Start by smearing the cream onto a piece of pastry, then top with the raspberry coulis. Next take another layer of pastry and repeat the process. Then add a top and cover in the coffee glaze. Repeat the process for the remaining pieces of pastry. This recipe yields 6 coffee slices which are each made up of 3 layers of pastry, 2 layers of cream and raspberry coulis and a coffee glaze on top.



E-D's Notes
A coffee slice is a variation of what is referred to in French as the mille-feuille which is a recipe that dates back to before the 19th century. From France to England, Ireland and many countries in between this style of cake has been tweaked and many countries refer to it as different things but the basis is the same. Three layers of puff pastry filled with a cream filling and often a fruit jam or coulis.  

Saturday, 23 March 2013

French Style Lemon & Apple Tarte

I really love a nice French style apple tart, when the pastry is thin, the filling isn't chunky and that beautiful colour like you see in the beautiful patisseries in France. My Dad is also a big fan of a fine tart so yesterday evening I decided to put a fresh spin on a classic dish and came up with this apple and lemon tart. I was presently surprised as to how well the flavours worked, and my mother was cursing me because she hates having delicious things lying around the house that she loves to eat, apparently it's 'dangerous'. Served warm from the oven with a dollop of cream, desserts don't get much better than this! 





Ingredients
4 eggs
250g sugar
2 lemons (zest & juice)
125g butter (melted)
2 cooking apples (cored and peeled)
2 red eating apples (cored and quartered)

For the pastry
150g flour
30g icing sugar
125g butter
1 egg, beaten
1-2tbsp water


Method
1. For the pastry place the flour, icing sugar and butter into a large bowl. Rub the butter into the  
    icing sugar until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Next stir in the egg and water and bring 
    together using a knife and then your hands. When the mixture forms a smooth ball, place in a 
    plastic bag and put in the fridge for 30 minutes.
2. Once chilled, remove from the fridge, roll out on a floured surface and line a 9 or 10 inch flat 
    loose bottomed flan tin. Return to the fridge for another 30 minutes.
3. For the filling, beat the eggs, sugar, lemon zest and juice together. Next add the melted butter 
    and the grate the cooking apples into the mixture and mix well. Spread the mixture into the 
    chilled pastry case.
4. Thinly slice the red apples and decorate the edges of the tart. Place on a baking tray and 
     bake for 45 minutes at 200C (180C fan), or until the centre is set and firm to touch.




E-D's Notes
- This tart was beautiful the next morning for breakfast too! It keeps well and the pastry didn't go 
  soggy.
- This tart is delicious served with freshly whipped cream or if you prefer a scoop of vanilla ice- 
  cream.
- Sometimes when I'm in a hurry I admit I stick my pastry into the freezer for 10 minutes instead 
  of the fridge for half and hour....and it works a treat!
- If you make tarts quite often or work with pastry quite a bit like I do, I really recommend picking 
  up a few mini tartlet tins to use with any extra pastry or filling that you have left over when 
  baking. I often find myself left with a little extra filling, or little extra pastry and mini tartlet tins 
  are a great way to avoid waste and put your good ingredients to good use! I picked up a new 
  set of 4 mini tartlet tins with removable bases in TKMaxx during the week for €5.99.....bargain!



Thursday, 21 March 2013

Chocolate & Coffee Roulade

My home-time holiday in Clare continues and I am thoroughly enjoying waking naturally, making my day up as I go along and enjoying a glass of wine with my lunch if I please. It's the little things in life! As my parents headed off this morning, I was left home alone which gave me plenty of time to cook up a storm, blast the radio and bake and dance like a lunatic. The first bake of the day was this beautiful chocolate and coffee roulade. Light and airy chocolate cake, filled with coffee cream and topped with an indulgent coffee glaze...incredible! By 12 O'Clock the kitchen was littered with cakes and I was faced with the age old problem of who I could find to eat them all!



Chocolate & Coffee Roulade

Ingredients
For the roulade
6 large eggs (separated)
125g sugar
50g cocoa powder

For the filling
250ml cream
3 tbsp icing sugar
2tsp instant coffee
20g butter
3 tsp caster sugar

For the glaze
2 tsp instant coffee
30g butter
4 tbsp water
180g icing sugar


Methods
1. Preheat the oven to 160C (fan oven). Beat the egg yolks and sugar together in a large bowl 
    until light and fluffy.  Next sift the cocoa powder and fold in.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Fold in the egg yolks a 
    little at a time. Spoon the mixture into a lined 12x8 inch swiss roll tin. Place in the oven and 
    cook for 20 minutes or until the cake springs back when touched. 
3. For the filling melt the better and mix with the sugar and coffee until well combined. Next add 
    the cream and icing sugar and whip until the mixture forms soft peaks.
4. For the glaze place the butter, coffee and water into a heatproof bowl set over a pan of 
    boiling water. Heat gently until the butter melts. Remove the bowl from the heat and stir in the 
    icing sugar, mixing until smooth.
5. Place a sheet of baking parchment longer than the cake on the counter and  sprinkle with 
     cocoa powder. To assemble, turn the baked roulade out onto the sheet and remove the 
     baking parchment from the base of the cooked cake. Spread the cream filling onto the 
     roulade and then using the sheet of parchment paper, roll the roulade away from you into a 
    roll.
6. Smear the coffee glaze all over the top of the roulade and place in the fridge to allow to set.
    Sprinkle with cocoa powder and serve.


E-D's Notes
- This roulade should be kept in the fridge when storing as it is filled with cream. 
- This cake is perfect for dinner parties and is light and airy which will leave your guests asking  
   for more.


Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Simple Thai Curry

This time last year I visited Thailand with my family. I am overdue a holiday at the moment so I'm doing a lot of reminiscing and making 'this day last year' statements which are driving Molly a little mad. During my trip we did countless activities from elephant trekking, to boat trips and snorkelling  The highlight for me though was a fantastic afternoon we spent in the shade away from the sun learning some of the secrets of Thai cookery. From making our own curry paste, to perfecting spring rolls we learnt a whole lot in a very short space of time. As we set off into the Thai sunset that evening we were bursting with enthusiasm and ideas for dinners when we returned home. Somehow I have only really revisited the little Thai cookbook we were given in the last couple of weeks and I don't know why, but possibly because I had forgotten how incredible authentic Thai food can be. This curry is a western adaptation of the Thai red curry we made on the day. A few substitutions had to be made given how difficult some of the ingredients are to get your hands on. 




Simple Thai Curry

Serves 4

Ingredients
For the curry paste
1 level teaspoon of black peppercorns
5 cloves of garlic
3cm of ginger root
1 red fresno chilli
Zest & juice of 1 lime

For the curry
550g chicken breast (cut into strips)
1 medium onion
100g mushrooms (sliced)
1 red pepper (thinly sliced)
1 400ml can of coconut milk
180g baby sweetcorn
2 handfuls of sugar snap peas
Fish sauce (to season)




Method
1. Begin by making the curry paste. Using a pestle and mortar blend all the ingredients together  
    until a paste is formed.
2 .Heat the wok, and add the curry paste. Once heated add one teaspoon of coconut milk and 
    allow the flavours to infuse.
3. Next add the chopped onion, red pepper and cook for five minutes. Then add the chicken     
    and cook for a further 5 minutes until browned. Then add the mushrooms and continue to 
    cook for 2 minutes.
4. Add the coconut milk and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and allow the curry to simmer for 
   10 minutes. Finally add the baby sweetcorn and sugar snap peas and cook for 2-3 minutes.
5. Serve the curry over a bed of Thai jasmine rice.



E-D's Notes
- Fish sauce is used in Thai cooking as a seasoning the way we would use salt and pepper. 
  When adding the fish sauce it's difficult to say exactly how much you will need, you just need to 
  and it and taste it as you would with any other kind of seasoning.
- This is quite a mild curry, so if you want to pack a little punch, add a little extra chilli. Don't get 
  too carried away though, things can go from mild to very hot, very easily.
- I served this beautiful Thai curry over a bed of Thai jasmine rice, alternatively basmati or long 
  grain rice will do just fine.

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Ice-Cream Cone Cupcakes

Anyone who knows me, knows I absolutely adore cupcakes. My apartments is littered with cupcake paraphernalia from tea-towels  to teapots, cushions to magnets and everything in between. I love making cupcakes, enjoy decorating them and love to surprise people with exciting and interesting flavour combinations. The hilarious thing about it all is I don't actually love eating cupcakes. I love how they look, I love how people react to them when I make them, but in the grand scheme of things, they don't really float my boat. This morning I was pondering an alternative and interesting way of displaying cupcakes and considered some of my favourite flavours in dessert and this is what I came up with. These incredibly inviting ice-cream cone cupcakes filled with raspberry cupcake and topped with a rich and indulgent white chocolate frosting. This recipe has made me reconsider my position on my love of cupcakes and that truly is saying something. 



Raspberry Cupcakes 
with White Chocolate Frosting

Ingredients
Raspberry Cupcakes
120g self raising flour
140g caster sugar
Pinch of salt
40g of butter (at room temperature)
120ml whole milk
1 egg
1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
80g raspberries
8 flat bottomed ice-cream cones

White Chocolate Frosting
100g white chocolate
6 tbsp cream
65g butter (at room temperature)
30ml milk
250g icing sugar




Method
For the cupcakes
1. Preheat the oven to 170°C.  Put the flour, sugar, salt, and butter in a mixer and beat on slow       speed until everything is combined.
2. Whisk the milk, vanilla extract and egg together and add to the flour mixture. Next add the      
    raspberries and mix for a couple of minutes until the batter is smooth but do not over mix. 
3. Spoon the mixture into the flat bottomed ice-cream cone cases until two-thirds full and bake 
    in a muffin or cupcake tray in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the cake 
    bounces back when touched.
4. When the cupcakes are cold, spoon the white chocolate, vanilla frosting on top using a 
    piping bag fitted with a medium sized star nozzle.





For the frosting
1. Beat the butter, milk and half the icing sugar together until well combined. Gradually add the       remaining icing sugar and mix using a hand mixer on high speed for a smooth creamy 
    consistency is achieved. 
2. Melt the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a pan of hot water. Once the chocolate 
    is melted remove from heat and allow to cool slightly. Then add the buttercream mixture 
    along with the cream and mix well. 
3. Place in the fridge for 10 minutes before placing in a piping bag and decorating the tops of 
    the ice-cream cones.

E-D's Notes
- There are so many fantastically creative options for decorating these pretty ice-cream cones 
  further. Why not add a flake for the authentic '99' look, or add some colourful sprinkles on top.
- I stuck with the traditional white tops for my white chocolate icing but feel free to get a little 
  crazy with food colouring.
- Likewise with the cupcake mixture, if you want your cake mixture to look really dramatic when 
  the cone is cut, add a little red food colouring to enhance the colour.



Monday, 18 March 2013

Beef Bourguignon

This morning after going for a 30 minute 'ralk' (run come walk if you will) I headed to the shops to pick up some of the ingredients for some dishes I have on my to do list for my week off.  Ever since becoming familiar with Julia Child's fascinating life story, beef Bourguignon has been on my life long to do list. Julia's signature dish always sounded incredibly delicious but perhaps  seemed a little complicated.  Thankfully I can report that as far as the taste factor goes, this dish has it all! That said in terms of the complexity factor, this dish is surprisingly simple to make, with little or no complicated instructions and a range of  very 'mainstream' ingredients which are easily accessible. The slow cooking results in beautifully tender meat infused with delicious flavours which truly are mouth watering.



Beef Bourguignon

Serves 4

Ingredients
500g of stewing beef or braising steak (cut into 5cm cubes)
125g smoked back bacon rashers (cut into strips)
6 shallots (peeled)
20g plain flour
350ml good quality red wine (preferably French)
150ml beef stock
1 bouquet garni
2 cloves of garlic, crushed
200g mushrooms (quartered)
3 tbsp sunflower oil
Salt and Pepper



Method
1. Heat the oil in a large casserole dish. Fry off the beef in batches, removing from the pan and 
    patting in kitchen towel once browned.
2. Next fry off the whole scallions, garlic and bacon, until the bacon is crisp and scallions slightly 
    softened. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels and set aside.
3. Mix the flour with the juices in the casserole dish, before adding the wine and beef 
    stock mixture. Bring to the boil. Once boiling return the beef and bacon to the dish, along with 
    the bouquet garni and place in the oven with the lid on at 160C for 1 hour and 20 minutes.
4. Then add the mushrooms and scallions before returning to the oven for a further hour.
5. To serve remove the bouquet garni and spoon the tender meat onto plates accompanied by 
     roasted potatoes and sautéed spinach.

E-D's Notes
- If your a little curious as to what a 'bouqeut garni' (French for garnished bouquet) is or are 
  wondering how to make one....here's a little information. A 'bouquet garni' is simply a 
  combination of herbs tied together with a string, used in stews and soups for seasoning, but is 
  removed before serving. There is no set combination of herbs, but I usually use parsley  
  rosemary and thyme, wrapped in bay leaves and then tied.
- Beef Bourguignon is traditionally served with crusty bread. That said potatoes are commonly 
  served with this dish, usually either roasted or mashed. This evening I opted to mini roast 
  potatoes with a side of sautéed spinach.


Sunday, 17 March 2013

Savoury Cheese Scones

After a nice relaxing St.Patrick's day at home, the time has come to sit down with a nice glass of wine. I had a very productive day cleaning out my 'home' bedroom to make space for wedding DIY materials along with other bits and pieces I can no longer store in Dublin as my apartment has by all means reached capacity! When I'm not in the throws of my everyday routine I seem to get very distracted and lose total track of time in terms of when I should be eating me lunch. I always find this amusing as when I'm at work, I start feeling hungry for my lunch at about half 11! Today I felt totally at a loss as to what to have. When I'm not in work I always feel like I should make an effort at lunch time to make something really tasty that I couldn't make if I were at work. Today I went all out with these savoury cheese scones, served with all sorts of delicious accompaniments. 



Savoury Cheese Scones
served with crisp bacon, goats cheese & Ballymaloe Relish

Makes 6

Ingredients
225g flour
1/4 tsp salt
1/4/ bicarbonate of soda
30g butter
150ml buttermilk
125g cheese

Filling
6 slices of crisp bacon
100g goats cheese
Ballymaloe Country Relish (or similar tomato based relish)
Balsamic glaze (optional)


Method
1. Place the dry ingredients in a large bowl (i.e. the flour, salt, bread soda and cheese) and mix.   
    Add the butter and mix into the mixture using your fingertips until it is well blended  with the 
    dry ingredient.
2. Add the buttermilk a little at a time and incorporate using a knife until a soft dough is formed.
3. Knead the dough gently on a floured surface and then gently push out with your hands or a 
    rolling pin. Using a 9.5cm round scalloped cutter cut out 6 scones. Place on a greased 
    baking tray and brush the tops with buttermilk.
4. Cook at 200C for 15 minutes until the base of each scone sounds hallow when tapped. 
    Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack.


Assembly
Cut each scone in half. Place a slice of crisp bacon on top of the base. Top with a slice of goats cheese and grill until the cheese melts slightly. Top with a generous dollop of Ballymaloe relish. Finally garnish the plate with the balsamic glaze. 

E-D's Notes
- These scones are best served warm from the oven. I opted to make 6 large scones with the 
   above quantities but if you prefer you could always make mini scones if serving as a starter at 
   a dinner party.
-  These scones are a really filling and satisfying lunch. I absolutely loved the combination of the 
    flavours. 
-  If your not familiar with Ballymaloe relish which is an Irish tomato based relish I suggest you 
   get yourself a jar! Check out the website here.