Saturday, 18 August 2012

a lunchbox hit

This is another great lunchbox salad that promises to keep you full until dinner time.  Its  travels well, is dressed in advanced and even tastes better if made the evening before and chilled as this allows the flavours to develop.

For a complete lunchbox just add some cherry tomatoes and some fruit - pictured here is the French Summer fruit, Mirabelles which taste like small sweet plums.

For the salad for one person you need:

1/2 cup of cooked and drained chickpeas
1/2 large carrot julienned/grated
2 teaspoons of raisins
1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds crushed
tablespoon chopped parsley

For the dressing:

1 tablespoon of rapeseed oil
2 tablespoons of lemon juice

To assemble:

Whisk dressing ingredients together the mix well through the salad, then chill overnight. If you like serve on a bed of green salad.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

lite lunch with enough bite to keep you going through the afternoon

This is a lovely light simple to make Summer salad that gives you four of your five a day. The chickpeas are not only a good source of protein but because they have a low GI will keep you fueled through to dinner and hopefully avoid those afternoon cravings. The quantities double up easily.

For one person you will need:

1 cup cooked chickpeas(or from a can, drained)
5 cherry tomatoes
5 olives
1/2 a bell pepper chopped (red works best but today I only had yellow)
1/2 small red onion sliced
2 large fistfuls of lettuce (any green salad works, good with lambs lettuce or water cress, I used a butter leave salad), washed and thorn (if necessary)

For the dressing (makes 2 portions):

2 x teaspoons rapeseed oil
1/2 garlic clove crushed
4 x teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon runny honey

To make: 

First make the dressing by whisking all of the ingredients together.
The put all salad ingredients in a serving bowl pour over half the dressing and mix well through the salad.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

My mam's legendary carrot cake

Wet stuff

1 carton of hazelnut yoghurt (150g)
6oz sunflower oil
4 eggs (free range)
2 teaspoons vanilla essence

Dry stuff
9 oz wheaten flour
9 oz brown sugar
3 oz coconut flakes
1/2 teaspoon of bicarbonate of soda
11 oz carott grated
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon of nutmeg

(I normally reduce the sugar to 6oz and add 3oz golden raisins)

Couldn't be simplier, you beat the wet stuff together then add it to the dry stuff and stir it up, it will be quite sloppy but that's ok trust me, then you pour this all ino a silicon loaf "tin" (which I normally oil lightly first) then stick it all in preheated oven (150 °c) for about 1 1/2 hours (test with a skewer - the cake is done when it comes out clean) in my oven it was done in one hour. Let cool on a wire rack.
You can choose to "top" the cake or not, for those of you not going for the whole hog option, it is quite nice served with some greek yoghurt or creme fraiche (with some orange juice added) for those of you not concerned with your waist bands tough luck - you will have to find a good frosting recipe yourself!

While the cake was in the oven I was browsing the internet and came across a recipe for a mango cake from joy the baker (, no I know mangos don't grow in France and I really do try and make an effort to buylocally bu honestly I was really only trying the recipe out from my brother living in Pakistan who has more mangos than he knows what to do with....anyway highly recommend this receipe and can easily be made into muffins perfect for a Sunday brunch!

Friday, 30 March 2012

old recipes: oxtail stew part one

A few months ago we were invited to some French friends for dinner who made us a fantastic coq au vin with a real cock (apparently), this started a lively debate on old fashioned recipes that our grannies used to make. I had two months to think about how to retaliate and came up with the idea of oxtail stew.

Last night my mam poured through all her cook books and spent a good part of the evening with me on the phone detailing the various recipes of Darina Allen, Georgina Cambell and off course Brenda Costigan - whose recipe in the Sunday Independent a few months ago sparked off the idea in my mind, only I failed to find the recipe I had so carefully cut out.

French husband had to do the rounds of several butchers today in his quest to get a is definitely a cows tail but I would not swear to it being an oxes! He was also gives an a bone marrow to add taste, though the butchers were confused as to why anyone would want to vook this dish given the current Parisien heat wave - relatively speaking for this time of year.

Well most of the recipes had pretty much the same ingredients, oxtail, butter, onions, carrots, more butter but Nigel Slater's was the only one to include a bottle of red wine, I am sure this was not around in my grannies fact I can't ever say I saw Lizzy with a bottle of bold strong Rioja in hand, although I am sure she would have been one to double the quantity of butter (of course the real stuff made by herself) in oxtail stew - but in my heart and soul I felt that the bottle of wine would give a modern touch to an old recipe and make it more Frenchie friendly)!

The proof is in the pudding or the stew as they say and currently it has another 2 hours in the oven before going in the fridge overnight and being reheated tomorrow. Will let you know if it passes the taste test. It goes without saying that I also doubled up the butter quantities - Georgina Cambell style - Granny would be proud!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

good old fashioned pancakes like my mam makes!

While the French prefer to eat there pancakes for "Le Chandler" in Ireland we eat ours for Shrove Tuesday, which as the answer I gave my French husband when he had the audacity to ask me where the pancakes were a few weeks ago.

Dinner guest is coming tonight who loves all things anglophone so it would be rude not to serve pancakes for dessert, but like my mam makes, not French style pancakes. The batter has been resting in the fridge since early morning, and they will be served with nothing more than some brown sugar and lemon juice.

This batter will make ten pancakes and is less rich than some other recipes because it uses less eggs and no sugar. You will need: 125g of plain flour, 1 large egg, 300ml of milk and a knob of butter. Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and whisk in 3 tablespoons of the milk until you have a sooth paste and gradually whisk in the remainder of the milk. Leave to stand in the fridge for a few hours. Take the batter out of the fridge 30 mins before you start making your pancakes.

Heat some of the butter in a non stick pan on a medium. Pour a small ladle of batter into the pan, swirling the batter to evenly cover the pan base. When the edges of the pancake start to dry, it is ready to be tossed or turned. Before tempting either you should loosen the pancake with a fish slice or a palette knife. If you have difficulty loosening it melt some butter under the edges of the pancake. The toss. The more faint hearted can gently turning it using a fish slice. Then cook until the pancake in nice and brown underneath and service rolled up drizzled with lemon juice and sprinkled with brown sugar.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Healthy Banana and Oat Breakfast Muffins

The neighbours from the apartment below us are coming for brunch today - all boys in their 30s. For desert I repeated the cheesecake of last week but for myself I wanted something healthier as a dessert - it is only the second week of January after all and too early to be breaking new year's resolutions.

I had been considering Susan Jane White's banana and peanut butter recipe but using a full jar of peanut butter put me off, however once I had made the muffins below I was thinking how good they would be with some peanut butter added, although maybe not a whole jar!

The muffins are made with wholemeal flour, which has more fibre and nutrients than white flour and agave nectar is used instead of sugar. For those who are lactose intolerant the milk can be replaced by soya milk. One of the great things about this recipe is that you don't even need a weighing scales. Ikea stocks cheap measuring cup sets in their homeware section. Bananas with black spots are perfect for this recipe.

1. preheat oven to 170°c

2. Mix well together the following ingredients in a large bowl; 1 1/2 cups of wholemeal flour, 1 cup of rolled oats, 1/2 cup agave nectar, 2 teaspoons of baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 3/3 cup milk, 1/3 cup sunflower oil, 1 teaspoon vanilla essence, 1 cup of mashed ripe banana and 2 tablespoons of coconut.

3. Pour mixture into prepared muffins cases or well greased muffin tin and make in oven for approx 20 mins. This recipe makes approx eight large muffins or 12 small ones.

These muffins were spot on and go down well with a large mug a Barry's tea!

Sunday, 1 January 2012

Tried & Tested: ricotta, apple and cinnamon cheesecake from Eric Lanlard

My sister bought me the Eric Lanlard Home Bake cookbook for Christmas, living in France and not having a TV I had never heard of him, although in the UK he has his own tv shows.

The pictures in the book are lovely and also I like the way he gives you both the prep and cooking time - which helped me to avoid starting a cake I would not finish on time. Although the downside is that that not every recipe is accompanied by a photo so you are not always sure what the final result should resemble.

For a new year's party where I had been asked to bring a dessert I decided to give my new cook book a test run. I chose the cheesecake recipe because the cinnamon gave it a seasonal touch. The instructions were relatively easy to follow if you are regular cook although I am not sure a complete novice would understand what is meant by " base-lining" the baking tin.

The main problem I had, even if living in France, was finding calvados - not stocked in the supermarket so I replaced it with rum. I also used local varieties of apples to those listed in the recipe as they are not available in France. Luckily I was in Scotland when my sister gave me the book and was able to pick up some digestive biscuits for the base, but I guess you could replace with sable biscuits if in France and maybe to add a festive twist substitute half of the digestive biscuits in the base with homemade gingernut biscuits (recipe also in the book).

If like me you like a nice deep biscuit base I would consider doubling the quantity of biscuits and butter required for the based or at least increasing by 50%.

The quantities in the recipe below are unchanged from the book.

You will need:

For the base: 200G digestive biscuits, 75g melted butter.
For the filling: 2 cox's pippins apples, 25g unsalted butter, 1tbsp calvados, 900g ricotta, 150g caster sugar, 50g plain flour, 6 beaten eggs, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon, 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the topping: 1 marges dessert apple, 25g soft light brown sugar, 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
Utensils: 22cm springform cake tin which has been well greased with butter and the bottom lined with baking paper
Oven: reheat to 180°C

To make

1. The base: Either blitz the biscuits in a food processor or put in large freezer bag and use rolling pin to reduce to crumbs then mix in the melted butter and press mixture evenly into the baking tin and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, then take out and let cool and reduce oven to 170°C
2. The filling: While the base is cooling; peel, core and cube the apples. Melt the butter in a pan and saute the apples for several minutes, then add the calvados and set alight to flambe the apples. Allow to cool. In the meantime, put the ricotta in a large bowl and stir to achieve a smooth consistency, stir in the caster sugar and flour and the eggs mixture a little at time making sure that the eggs are well mixed in before introducing more. The add the cinnamon and vanilla and the cooked apple mixture and mix well. Pour mixture into prepared cake tin.
3. The topping: appel and core the dessert apple and cut into thin slices and arrange delicately on top of the mixture before sprinkling over the sugar and cinnamon.
4. Bake in the middle of the oven for about 75 mins - you will know it is done when a skewer inserted into the centre of the cake comes out clean. The leave to cool slightly on wire rack before serving.
5. To serve: "au natural" or with a big dollop of creme fraiche.