Monday, December 22, 2014

MAKING BUTTER

Juno churning
In my novel due out next year, Emily Dickinson's Irish maid makes butter. Since writing it I have been obsessed with mini butter churns, particularly the glass table-top ones with wooden paddles. I bought one on eBay after drooling over similar ones in Nairn Museum in Scotland and The Butter Museum in Cork.

I finally got around to making butter with it today and it was fun! I used a 500ml tub of double cream and put in two pinches of salt (not enough salt for my tastes, as it turns out).

Mr Vegan has a go
We all had a turn of the handle and I guess it took about ten minutes worth of churning, which is not long at all.

After the butter came together I drained it in a sieve, then pressed it more with my hands to remove the buttermilk. (If you leave it inside, the buttermilk sours). I then put it into a bowl of cold water, squeezed it again (with cold hands) and patted it into shape.

Butter!
A little video to hear the sound of the churn and Joe Duffy chirruping in the background. (Oh, the sound has not come over with the video for some reason - I will try to fix this but, for the mo, it's just a jerky visual.)



Friday, November 28, 2014

VEGAN CHRISTMAS CAKE

All the ingredients, ready to go
It's hard to believe it's Christmas cake time again already. I've been making this Rose Elliott-based recipe for years and vegans and non-vegans alike love it - it's a boozy, fruity, moist cake. Absolutely delicious.
Juno mixing and wishing
We made the cake yesterday and Juno (5) said, 'We are celebrating Thanksgiving by making this cake.' Sweet girl.

Finn having a mix and a wish
Get all the ingredients measured out and ready before you begin. It will make the whole thing much easier. We don't ice our cake but it's easy to get vegan marzipan and icing.

Breadcrumbing is serious business
My wishes made while stirring this cake always seem to come true so I am hopeful for this 2014 version too.

The finished cake
Scotch this year (again!) instead of brandy.
INGREDIENTS:
350 gr wholegrain spelt flour
175gr vegan marg
175gr light muscovado sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
150gr sultanas
200gr raisins
150gr dates, halved & pitted
50 gr flaked almonds
1 tblsp treacle
100gr glacé cherries, halved
grated zest of an orange
2 tblsps ground almonds
120ml soya milk
2 tblsps red wine vinegar
¾ tsp of bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
6 tblsps (90ml) brandy/whiskey

METHOD:
• Preheat oven to 150˚C
• Grease an 8” cake tin and line with greaseproof paper. Make an outer 'lining' with a higher cuff to stop the top of the cake burning.
• Sieve the flour and spice
• Rub in the marg until the mix is like breadcrumbs
• Stir in the flaked almonds and treacle
• Add the sugar, dried fruit, cherries, orange zest and ground almonds and mix
• Warm half the soya milk in a small pot and add the vinegar
• Dissolve the bread soda in the rest of the soya milk, then add
this to the milk and vinegar mix
• Stir this into flour and fruit mix until well combined
• Spoon mix into greased tin and smooth the top
• Bake for 2 hours, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean
• Leave cake in tin to cool, then turn out and peel off greaseproof
• Prick cake with a cocktail stick and feed with a third of the brandy
• Wrap cake in greaseproof and store in a tin
• Feed with the rest of the brandy/whiskey at weekly intervals
• Will keep for 4 weeks or so

Nollaig shona! Merry Christmas!

Friday, October 31, 2014

TRICK OR TREAT FOR TEMPLE STREET 2014

I'm jetlagged so rather late baking my barmbrack and organising my Trick or Treat for Temple Street, But it's all go now. A few pics, a brack recipe, and a hope you are having a Happy Hallowe'en, wherever you are.


A witch eating curried pumpkin soup
Jack Skellington!
The barmbrack
IRISH HALLOWE'EN BARMBRACK

RECIPE

150ml tea
30ml whiskey
250g mixed dried fruit
75g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
45g melted marg
250g wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice

METHOD

- Soak the fruit, sugar, whiskey and tea in a bowl - leave until cold
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line the bottom of an 8" round tin (I used a 2lb loaf tin, this time)
- Add the melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve then fold in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Pour into the lined tin (insert wrapped coin or ring at this point, if using)
- Bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.

Eat plain or buttered with a cup of tea. Yum!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

CAFÉ PARADISO - CORK

We were in Cork last week and went, of course, to Café Paradiso. Veggie heaven!! I took one pic of the food, that's all. I was too busy eating it!

Spicy tofu with noodles - so delicious!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

PLUM JAM

Plums and apples before boiling
My father-in-law Pat grows plums and he gave us a bunch of them at the weekend. Jam time! I added two apples to the plums as they were going to go in the compost otherwise. The jam is super sweet. It would be lovely on a Ditty's Irish oat cake, or on some nice brown soda bread. I enjoyed it on a rice cake, in the absence of other substances :)


Juno squeezing the lemon
Stirring, stirring
Ingredients

2lbs plums
2 eating apples, peeled and chopped small
2lbs granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tblsp butter
100ml cold water

Method
·         Wash plums and remove stalks. Cut the plums and remove the stone.
·         Peel, core and cut apples up small
·         Place fruit, lemon juice and water in a large, deep pot and bring to the boil, stirring frequently
·         Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes until the fruit has softened
·         Keep heat low and add sugar. Stir until sugar has dissolved.
·         Stir in the butter to reduce frothing. Turn up the heat and stir continuously until the mixture comes to a rapid boil.
·         Continue stirring on high heat until the jam reaches setting point. This is when the mixture starts to thicken and set on the sides of the pot.
·         Remove from heat. To test, place a teaspoon of jam onto a cold saucer. Allow to cool, then push your finger through the jam, it should start to congeal and wrinkle up - if it’s still runny, you haven’t yet reached setting point.
·         If not set, return the pot to the heat; bring back up to a rolling boil and test again in a few minutes.
·         Remove from heat and ladle into clean, sterilised, warm jars. (I got four Bonne Maman jars of jam from this amount.) Seal while jars are warm.

Four jars - one with homespun lid
Sterilising jars
·         Preheat oven to 130C
·         Clean jam jars and lids in the dishwasher or with water and washing up liquid. Dry thoroughly.
·         Line a baking tray with newspaper. Place jars on it – make sure they are not touching.
·         Pop in the oven 20 minutes before you expect your jam to be ready – the jars must be hot when you put the hot jam into them.
·         Seal immediately with lids or with greaseproof rounds and greaseproof/plastic lids held on with elastic/string.

Plum jam on a rice cake - yum!

Monday, August 4, 2014

VEGAN SUMMER SALADS - PESTO PASTA & THREE BEAN

Vegan Pesto Orzo salad
Neglect! My life is too busy for blogging. Even baking has taken a back seat, though Mr Vegan kindly steps in on that front every so often. My beloved sister and my lovely brother-in-law both turn fifty and there's a big party. Everyone is bringing a dish or two, so I made salads and Mr V made his delicious focaccia. (Recipe for that to follow).

VEGAN ORZO PESTO SALAD
We bought orzo recently and the great thing about it, as a pasta, is that it is tiny and slippery so sauce sticks to it well. So I thought it would work well with pesto and it does!

INGREDIENTS

300g orzo
vegan pesto (see below)
punnet of cherry tomatoes, halved

METHOD

For the Vegan Pesto
handful of basil leaves
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 tablespoons pine nuts
2 tblsps olive oil
pinch salt
pinch pepper

- Cook the orzo as per the packet and rinse in cold water to stop it cooking further
- Whizz the pesto ingredients together in a blender. If too lumpy add more olive oil (or a drop of water)
- Mix through the halved cherry tomatoes

Vegan three bean salad
VEGAN THREE BEAN SALAD

INGREDIENTS

  • 400g tin of mixed beans
  • 150g sweetcorn
  • 1 carrot (grated)
  • 1 small onion – chopped small
  • handful roughly chopped basil (or coriander)
  • 1 clove of garlic (minced)
  • half tsp sugar
  • 15 ml olive oil
  • 15 ml red wine vinegar (or raspberry vinegar)
 METHOD
  • Mix the beans, sweetcorn, onion and carrot in a big bowl
  • In a small bowl mix the oil, sugar, vinegar and garlic
  • Mix dressing into salad then add the basil

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

EMILY DICKINSON'S GINGERBREAD

 

My novel about Emily Dickinson and her Irish maid, Miss Emily, comes out next year in the USA and Canada with Penguin. My interest in the poet stems from school, then more recently from baking* too. So here is Emily Dickinson's recipe for gingerbread which I made last week for my ex-husband's birthday 'do'. This recipe was adapted by people who work in the Dickinson Homestead Museum and I have further adapted it for Irish measurements and to make a smaller cake.


This is not a sweet cake - the lack of sugar and the dark treacle make it a little tart. But the dusting of icing sugar and the cream were a perfect addition to it. A sweet yogurt would do the same work. I used a round 8" tin.

INGREDIENTS

60g butter
55ml cream
280g flour
½ teaspoon bread soda
½ tablespoon ground ginger
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup (125ml) treacle

METHOD

·         Preheat the oven to 180ºC ( 350ºF)
·         Grease and line a baking tin
·         Cream the butter and mix with lightly whipped cream.
·         Mix through the treacle
·         Sift dry ingredients together and combine with other ingredients.
·         The dough is stiff and needs to be pressed into the tin
·         Bake for 20 minutes.
·         Dust with icing sugar

 

*(See here for Emily's coconut cake.)