Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Foodie Pen Pals and Fruit Bread

It’s the end of the month so it is Foodie Pen Pal Parcel reveal day. This month I sent a parcel to Charley of Charley’s Kitchen, and received a lovely parcel from Alice who is from Denmark so the parcel was packed full of lots of lovely continental treats.

And the parcel contained;

Mashed potatoes with mushrooms – a camping favourite of Alice and her family, I haven’t had a chance to try this yet and may have to save it until the next time I am off camping too to keep with tradition!

Muesli bars – I have already munched through these (one just before I took part in a recent bog snorkelling challenge) and both were really yum.

Candied rose petals – a great baking ingredient that I hope to use in something pretty soon.

Sahefest – This is a special little ingredient to add to cream before whipping to help it hold its shape, another useful store cupboard ingredient.

Kinder Bueno – This didn’t last long!!!

Lemon Muffins – Made from a German recipe and absolutely delicious.

Bread Spice – A little pot of bread spice and three bread recipes (one of which includes the spice) to make.

So thank you Alice for a lovely parcel full of some great things that I haven’t come across before. I haven’t had a chance to make the spiced bread that Alice included a recipe for yet but I have made the fruit bread which is delicious, and I have included the recipe below with a few minor changes (the recipe called for ALL BRAN but I didn’t have any so swapped this for oats instead. The original recipe from Alice also only included dried apricots but I threw in some dates as well and the result was really good.


240g flour
260g brown sugar
130g oats
50g dates
50g dried apricots
300ml butter milk

Pre-heat the oven to 225 ° C

Mix all of the dry ingredients together in a bowl.

Add the buttermilk and stir until well combined before pouring the dough into a greased loaf tin.

Bake in the oven for 40 minutes until golden brown.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Lemon Curd Ripple Ice Cream with Lemon and Basil Syrup

This blogpost marks a rare occasion, an occasion when I am posting an ice cream recipe (which isn’t particularly rare) when the sun is actually shining (which is!!!). It seems to have become a common practise to nip out of work at the end of the lunch hour to feed my ice cream addiction. And with this zesty recipe I have been further feeding my habit out of my own freezer at home.

Some left over lemon curd in the fridge inspired the lemon curd ripple ice cream (which is adapted from the lemon and poppy seed ice cream cake recipe from the Guardian). Another condensed ice cream recipe, I love these because they are so easy to make, require no churning and don’t contain any eggs!!

The accompanying basil and lemon syrup was inspired by my bumper basil crop. I have always attempted to grow my own basil from seed, and have always failed miserably. But this year, thanks to the wondrous appearance of a golden ball of warmth that seems to be permanently visible in the sky, my basil is blooming! And so I thought I would experiment a little, so that I could enter my ice cream recipe into this months Bloggers Scream For Ice Cream challenge over at Kavey Eats…..the theme for which this month is herbs.

The basil syrup is rather subtle but makes a really fresh syrup to accompany this zingy ice cream. And as suggested by Kavey I have also entered this recipe into the cooking with herbs challenge as run by Lavender and Lovage.


2 lemons
1 tin condensed milk (397g)
150ml plain yoghurt
250ml double cream
100g lemon curd

Zest and then juice both lemons.

Put the condensed milk into a large mixing bowl and stir in the lemon juice and zest until combined. 
Then stir in the yoghurt.

In a separate bowl whip the cream until soft peaks are formed. Fold the cream into the condensed milk mixture.

Transfer the mix to a freezer-proof container. Finally Dollop the lemon curd on top of the ice cream mix and ripple into the mixture using a ford until distributed throughout the mixture.

Transfer to the freezer until frozen (I left mine over night before tucking in!).


A large sprig of basil
Peel and juice from 1 lemon
75g caster sugar
100ml water.

Peel the lemon using a vegetable peeler before juicing the lemon. Add the juice and peel into a small saucepan with the basil, sugar and water. Place over a low heat and allow the sugar the dissolve.

Increase the heat a little and allow the mixture to gently bubble until reduced to a syrup.

Pass the syrup through a sieve to remove the basil stalks and lemon peel, allow to cool and spoon over the ice cream to serve.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Pear and Frangipane Tart and MasterChef Ireland

I love a good foodie programme on TV and am a self-obsessed MC (a.k.a MasterChef addict)!!! I love MC in all its varieties whether the contestants are professionals, celebrities or general members of the public. I also enjoy watching the numerous versions of this TV show that are filmed elsewhere in the world. Australian MacterChef takes the show to a whole new level with teams and egg breaking challenges accompanied by a judging panel who have a complete inability to eat food off of the same plate so all dishes cooked up by the contestants have to be meticulously divided between plates for them before tasting can begin (there’s no Gregg just digging straight in and indulgently liking the chocolate fondant off the back of his spoon).

Now that I live on the other side of the Irish Sea I’m also aware of MasterChef Ireland, for which applications are now open for the new series. So if you think you have what it takes to be the best chef in Ireland and be in with a chance of winning €25,000 go apply.

As much as I like to think I am a little Master Chef in my own kitchen I don’t think I am quite ready to take on the challenge of MC….but in recognition that applications for MC Ireland are now open I thought I would attempt to make a recipe from the last series. I went for what was originally a peach and frangipane tart made by Fidelma Boyce.  Frangipane is a great tart filling for anyone who is lactose in tolerant as it is naturally dairy free unlike things like creme patissiere. By substituting the butter in the pastry of the original recipe with a dairy free spread I made this recipe suitable for anyone who is dairy free. (I also didn’t have any peaches so swapped them for pears, but it turned out great!!)



180g plain flour
120g dairy free spread
1 egg
Zest  1 lemon
70g icing sugar


150g icing sugar
180g ground almonds
3 eggs
60 g plain flour
4 pears

Mix the flour and icing sugar for the pastry together in a bowl and stir in the lemon zest. Rub in the spread until fully combined with the mixture resembling breadcrumbs. Then add the egg and bring all of the ingredients together using your hands until a ball of dough is formed.

Wrap the pastry in cling film and transfer to the fridge for an hour to allow to cool.

Meanwhile pre-heat the oven to 180°C and grease a loose bottomed 30cm diameter flan tin with dairy free spread.

After an hour roll the pastry out on a floured surface and carefully line the tart tin with the pastry gently pushing it down into all of the edges.

Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper and fill with baking beans (or uncooked rice) and blind bake for 12 minutes. Then remove the baking beans and paper and return to the oven for another 5 to 10 minutes until the pastry is golden brown.

Next place the icing sugar, almonds, eggs and flour into a bowl and beat until well combined. Spread this mixture evenly into the pre-baked pastry case.

Core and slice the pears into 2cm thick slices and arrange on top of the frangipane until the case is full with pear slices. Put the tart back into the oven for another 20 to 25 minutes until the frangipane is firm.

Once the tart is removed from the oven you can use a little fruit jam to add a glaze to the tart if desired.

Then allow to cool slightly and tuck in!!

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Have you got what it takes to impress in the MasterChef kitchen?
If so, we want to hear from you!
Don’t miss out, APPLY NOW for the chance to become the next MasterChef Ireland Champion and win a cash prize of €25,000!

Application deadline is 22nd July 2013
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Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Ninja Bread Men

I’m (once again) a little bit late with my foodie pen pal post for this month. I’m actually still waiting for my parcel, although it is on it’s way, so a post regarding it’s content should be following shortly. But in the meantime I thought I would post the recipe for the goodies that I made for Ioanna in Greece. I sent Ioanna a package full of trears from Ireland and England and thought I should make something suitably traditional. Having just received a set of ‘Ninja’ Bread Men cookie cutters for my birthday gingerbread men seemed the obvious choice. I then stumbled across this recipe for Vegan Guinness Gingerbread over at No Meat Athlete. Having no egg replacer handy I actually turned these into a non-vegan treat by adding a couple of eggs but the original vegan recipe can be found here. And below can be found the recipe with my slight alterations, so not vegan, but still dairy free!


235 ml Guinness
80 ml vegetable oil
100g icing sugar
60 ml molasses
250 g flour
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger

Put the Guinness into a small saucepan and simmer gently until reduced by half.

Sift all of the dry ingredients together into a large bowl.

In a separate bowl mix together the molasses, oil, eggs and 60ml of the reduced Guinness mixture until well combined.

Stir the wet ingredients into the dry until a firm dough is produced (you will probably need to get your hands dirty to bring the dough together).

Wrap the dough in cling film and place in the fridge for an hour.

In the meantime pre-heat the oven to 180°C and line a baking with non-stick baking parchment.

Roll the dough out on a well floured surface until about 2 cm thick and cut out in your desired shape (it doesn’t have to be a ninja!!). Transfer to the baking tray and bake for approximately 10 minutes until golden brown.

Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly before removing from the tray.