Sunday, June 5, 2016

HALLOUMI PASTA SALAD

Halloumi salad
We have been having fab weather in Ireland which means several things: holiday atmosphere prevails and eating salad is less of a chore. We're going on a picnic today with our County Offaly friends so I made a halloumi pasta salad to bring. I sampled it (natch) and it's delicious. And a really fast and simple make. I love the chargrilled halloumi in The Cedar Tree in Dublin (I dream about it) but I had a salad like this at a friend's house a couple of years ago and have been planning to make it since. At last I get around to it.

Salad ready to go to the picnic :)
If you haven't yet tried Aldi's Margaret's Loaf, please do
- award-winning, seeded, real brown bread

INGREDIENTS

300g fusilli (or whatever pasta you like)
120g halloumi
10 basil leaves, chopped
10 cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 garlic clove, chopped very small
olive oil (a glug for the pasta)
salt (to season pasta & finished salad)
pepper
veg oil (for frying the halloumi)

METHOD

- Cook the pasta for about 10 minutes (until it's al dente), adding the glug of olive oil and a pinch of salt at the start
- While the pasta is on, cut the halloumi into 1cm thick slices and fry on a medium heat for about 2 mins each side (it may go golden)
- Let the halloumi cool on two sheets of of kitchen roll, pat excess oil off
- Drain the pasta and leave to cool
- When the pasta is cold, mix through the quartered tomatoes, chopped basil and garlic
- Cut the halloumi pieces into quarters and mix though the pasta
- Season with salt and pepper and mix through
- Serve with green leaves, bean salad, buttered Margaret's Loaf, red wine or anything you fancy.

Summer on a plate :)


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

BALLINAHOWN TEA ROOMS

We were going to the Alice film on Saturday but first we decided to drop into the craft village at Ballinahown in Co. Offaly. The crafts area wasn't open but the tearoom was so, naturally, we had to sample their fare. I had a gorgeous berry scone, the husband had carrot cake and Junior enjoyed a blueberry muffin with ice cream. Everything very fresh and nicely presented on vintage-ish china. There's also a lovely woodland playground in the village, perfect for reading the morning papers.

Juno as Alice


Juno and Patch in the tea room

Berry scone
One of the Ballinahown craft shops

Saturday, March 26, 2016

GALWAY FOOD FESTIVAL 2016

Happy Easter!
 We made our annual visit to the Galway Food Festival yesterday, Good Friday. It was VERY blowy around Fishmarket Square but there was no end of good things on offer and interesting foodie stalls to explore. I had a tdf salted caramel brownie in The Skeff and, later tofu and veg in Lime. Yum!

Beechlawn Organic Farm, Ballinasloe - our local farm - had a stall
These were delicious as was their Paleo Brownie (available as a mix)
These would make great airplane snack boxes from The Foods of Athenry
The Yum Tree Kitchen man
Polish Easter goodies
Polish Easter cake
Alannah and Róisín of Beechlawn Organic's stall -
I won that heart cake in the foreground (and below) in their raffle!


Scones by Sugar and Spice
The Galway Food Company is based in Loughrea - they do BEAUTIFUL biscuits
The Wild Irish Foragers and Preservers - fab, flavourful syrups and jellies

Harvest Moon's Basil Hummus - two of my fave things combined!
American Village Apothecary always impresses 
Sun-squinty Juno
Lovely lunch at Lime

Husband's Nasi Goreng at Lime

Sunday, March 20, 2016

DARK CHOCOLATE ORANGE MUFFINS

Dark chocolate orange muffin
I bought a muffin tin. You know, American-sized muffins, as opposed to normal Irish bun-sized ones. And then it took me ten shops to find the proper cases to go in them and, even then, I could only find boring plain ones. (Though I did find some snazzy yellow cardboard ones in Tiger that won't fit in the tin...)
The Dublin airport chocolate orange muffin
Anyway, I am addicted to the giant-sized choc-orange muffins that you get in Harvest Market in T2 in Dublin Airport. I would almost (almost) take a flight just to have one of those muffins. They make the whole airport shenanigan worthwhile.

But I'm not flying anywhere until May, so I have had to resort to making my own. The ones in the airport have a gooey, sweet, orange jammy curd in the centre (drool!) but I couldn't find a satisfactory recipe to match that. So I have adapted a few different recipes to make these delicious choc-chippy-orangey ones instead. These are a trial run for Easter Sunday, when I will probably (hopefully) take the time to ice and decorate them.

My helpers

238 kcal per muffin

Makes 6 large sized muffins, 10 bun/cupcake sized muffins or 12 minis

INGREDIENTS

2/3 cup self raising flour
1/3 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup caster sugar
1/2 cup dark chocolate chips (I used a 100g bag)
zest of an orange
1/4 cup milk
1/8 cup orange juice
1/8 cup veg oil (I used rapeseed)
1 medium egg, beaten

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180 deg C
Zest and juice the orange
Mix together the flour, cocoa powder, sugar and choc chips
In a jug, mix together the orange juice, orange zest, milk, veg oil and beaten egg
Make a well in the centre of the flour and pour in wet ingredients
Mix and pour into muffin cases
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

HEALTHY CHOC CHIP COOKIES

Juno, mixing
I have been dreaming about flapjacks but then got diverted by this simple recipe, which I have adapted. I added Stevia (hoping for some sweetness). Hmmm. I'm not sure that Stevia does what it's supposed to do. Anyway,the coconut and choc chips provide a little sweetness. 157 kcals per cookie.
Grating the apple
Before baking
Finished cookies
Ingredients:
·         1 cup porridge oats
·         1/3 cup dessicated coconut
·         1/3 cup dark choc chips
·         1 peeled eating apple grated
·         1/2 mashed banana OR 1 beaten egg
·         1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence
·         1 teaspoon Stevia

Method:
1.      Preheat oven to 200C, grease and line a baking tray with greaseproof
2.      Beat egg OR mash banana, in a bowl, add grated apple and vanilla essence and combine.
3.      Add  remaining ingredients: porridge oats, coconut, choc chips.
4.      Thoroughly mix together using a wooden spoon and then form into rounds with your hands and flatten onto the greaseproof.
5.      Bake for 12 to15 minutes until golden brown
6.      Cool on wire rack and enjoy!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Case of the Collapsing Sponge...

Why is it that when you want to be impressive, everything goes belly-up? I decided to break with chocolate cake tradition and make a choc chip 'plain' sponge for Valentine's Day. But the centre didn't cook so I had to get a scone cutter and cut it out and improvise. All went well in the end, but still, how irritating!! I think maybe I should have put it in the top of the oven rather than the bottom. Anyway, it tasted fine in the end, and it looked grand too, which is all that matters.
You will need a 20cm (8in) springform tin.

Choc chips going in
You can see the dip in the middle
The finished article - not too bad, all things considered
Served with Alpro soy lemon and lime yogurt

INGREDIENTS

175g butter, softened
175g caster sugar
3 eggs, beaten
175g self-raising flour, sifted
50g of dark choc chips

FOR THE DECORATION:

strawberries (rinsed, dried & chopped in fours)
50g dark choc
5g icing sugar


METHOD:

·        Line the base of the tin with greaseproof paper and grease the sides with some butter
·        Preheat oven to 180C
·        Cream the butter in a large bowl or in an electric food mixer until soft
·        Add the sugar and beat until the mixture is light and fluffy
·        Add the eggs slowly into the sugar and butter mixture, beating well between each addition
·        Sift the flour into the bowl on top of the egg mixture and fold in gently using a spatula
·        Mix through the choc chips
·        Scrape mixture into the tin and put in the oven for about 25 minutes
·        Press down lightly on the top of the cake, if the cake springs back, it's done (mine was still wobbly and spent another 10 mins in the oven, being watched closely)
·        Once the cake has cooled, melt the chocolate in a bowl over hot water and mix through the icing sugar
·        Spatula the choc icing onto the cake and decorate with strawberries
·        To create my strawberry volcano-effect (ahem!) take the middle out with a scone cutter or glass and fill with chopped strawberries.

Friday, January 29, 2016

Banana Bread with Stevia



I bought Stevia last year in Tesco and it has sat in the press since, mocking me. With all this talk of evil sugar I decided to try and use it to make cake, instead of sugar. I found this page of recipes and adapted the b-bread slightly, while sticking to the American use of cups as measurements.

A loaf-tin sized cake yield 12 slices. So, for this, calories per slice are 114, sugars only 3g and a nice dollop of protein at 3g also.

The wet ingredients all together, before mixing
I have to say that this experiment does not make me trust Stevia. The Banana Bread is nice and banana-y but not sweet at all and really tastes more bread-like than cake-like, which is not what I wanted. I ended up putting jam on it to sweeten it up, which rather defeats the low-sugar purpose of it all. Sigh. Use more Stevia in the recipe or stick to sugar? The quest continues...




INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup vegetable oil
1 cup ripe banana, mashed (2 fun-sized bananas)
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
2 medium eggs
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cups whole wheat spelt flour
1 teaspoon bread soda
1 1/2 teaspoons stevia powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

METHOD
  • Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C) and grease and/or line a loaf tin.
  • In a large bowl, mix together the oil, bananas, vanilla, eggs, and milk.
  • Sieve the the dry ingredients through and mix until just combined.
  • Pour into the tin and bake for 55 minutes, or until a toothpick in the middle comes out clean.
  • Cool in the tin for a few minutes to set, then remove and cool completely on a rack.