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.) 

Friday, April 4, 2014

TEABRACK & BANANA LOAF - Great Irish Bake 3

Poster, balloons and money jar - Great Irish Bake
It's the official Great Irish Bake Day - our money jar is in place, the balloons are up and I have baked two cakes so far. My husband plans to bake bread later. We will serve these to my writing group tomorrow and hopefully they'll leave a donation in the jar :)

Teabrack mix
Banana bread in progress
Teabrack and banana bread
If you want to make either of these loaves the teabrack recipe is here and the banana loaf is here.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

RAISIN SODA BREAD - Great Irish Bake 2

Kneaded dough
This is our second Great Irish Bake for Temple Street baking session. Lately I've been craving my mother's soda bread with raisins but as she lives 90 miles away, I've had to resort to making it myself. In my novel out next year, Miss Emily, Emily Dickinson's maid, Ada, shows her how to make soda bread. Dickinson was a good baker in her own right. (Which may be where my craving stems from - I am editing the book at the moment.)

The Odlums Baking site calls soda bread with raisins in it 'Station Bread'. I haven't heard this before - is this something to do with the stations of the cross, I wonder? Where is Regina Sexton when you need her?! I shall go and consult her history of Irish food and see if it mentions Station Bread.

This bread has about 99 calories per serving. (Adding butter means extra kcals!)


Cutting the cross - to keep the devil out of the bread

Ingredients

450g plain flour
1 level tsp bread soda
2 level tsps cream of tartar
big pinch of salt
1 tblsp white sugar
25g margarine

half pint milk 
a handful of raisins

Method

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400°F/200°C/Gas 6
  2. Sprinkle flour onto a round baking tray
  3. Sieve flour, bread soda, cream of tartar and salt into a bowl. Add sugar after sieving and mix through
  4. Rub in the margarine until it's like breadcrumbs
  5. Add milk and mix to make a soft dough.
  6. Turn onto a lightly floured board and knead a little
  7. Turn over and shape into a round. Place the dough on a floured tin
  8. Cut a deepish cross into the loaf
  9. Bake for 45 minutes
  10. Tap underneath, if there's a hollow sound, the loaf is done
  11. Cool on a wire tray, covering with a tea towel to give a softer crust 
  12. Slather with butter and eat. Yum!
The finished bread

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

BANANA & SEED BISCUITS - Great Irish Bake 1

Juno sieving
The Great Irish Bake for Temple Street is already underway here in Ballinasloe. Our jar is out, ready for collecting the money. We made Apple Crumble on Sunday (eaten too quick for pics!) and today it was Banana and Seed Biscuits. This recipe makes makes about 12 biscuits. 77 Kcals per biccie.


Banana and seed biscuits

INGREDIENTS
60g marg/butter
60g brown sugar
90g self-raising flour
50g mixed seeds (pumpkin and sesame)
1 small egg, beaten
1 small banana, mashed
half teaspoon mixed spice
1 tablespoon milk

METHOD
Preheat the oven to 190C.
Line two baking trays.
In a bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth.
Add the beaten egg and mix
Add the mashed banana and mix
Sieve in the the flour and spice; stir into the creamed mixture.
Mix in milk and, finally, the seeds
Blob dessert-spoonfuls onto the prepared baking trays.
Bake for 20 minutes.
Allow to cool on baking tray for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.

Friday, January 24, 2014

LO-CAL LEMON DRIZZLE CAKE


Like most people in January, I am trying to eat less sugar/fat/calories etc. I had a lonely lemon in the fridge and, as my usual lemon cake is sugar-packed, I went looking for a less calorific one to make. I adapted this Rosemary Conley recipe to include spelt flour, less egg and to make a smaller loaf.

If you make 12 slices of the cake, it is 100 calories per slice, which is pretty great.

I used a 2lb loaf tin which resulted in a squat enough cake, I was too lazy to line a 1lb tin (I have readymade liners for the 2lber). You could make double this recipe for a 2lb tin (bake for 1 hour), or this amount for a 1lb tin.

INGREDIENTS
90g low-fat marg
90g caster sugar
1 egg, beaten
90g wholegrain spelt flour (or plain flour)
2 tbsp of porridge oats
1 tbsp milk
half tsp baking powder
1 lemon, zested

TOPPING
juice of the lemon
1 tsp demerara sugar

METHOD

- Preheat the oven to 150°C/300°F/Gas Mark 2
- Line your loaf tin
- Zest the lemon
- Juice the lemon
- Beat the marg with the caster sugar, gradually adding the egg
- Sieve in the flour and baking powder and beat again
- Add the lemon zest, porridge oats and milk and mix through
- Pour into lined loaf tin
- Bake in the preheated oven for 40 mins, or until a skewer inserted into the thickest part comes out clean.
- Pour over the lemon juice and sprinkle with sugar, allow to cool in tin
- Serve cold