Friday, May 17, 2013


Apron Strings: Recipes from a Family Kitchen
We went to the launch of Nessa Robins's début cookbook Apron Strings: Recipes from a Family Kitchen (New Island) in Moate last night. It was a fabulous launch: cake galore, a beautiful venue in Dún na Sí and warm speeches. When you bought the book you also got a goodie bag with the rather excellent Shamrock and Sour Cream crisps from Keogh's, chocolate and Glenisk vouchers.

Nessa Robins signing my copy of her book
The book is a work of art - beautifully photographed (by Nessa herself) and with matt pages and clear, interesting layouts. It is a mix of memoir and recipes and I can't wait to get stuck in to read it and try out some of the cakes etc. This is the first book of its type from New Island and it's a joy to see what a great job they have done on it.

Dún na Sí was a perfect venue: large and quaint, in the best possible way: it has the biggest fireplace I have ever seen and the room was large enough to hold the 150 or so people who turned up to support Nessa.

Nessa had spent the day baking and there was not a scrap left at the end of the iced buns, brownies, cookies, bread, strawberries, fruit tarts, wine etc. etc. that were laid on for the lucky crowd.

Millie & Juno
Juno hit it off with Nessa's daughter Millie, also three, and they had enormous fun running about the hall.

Caroline Hennessy & Kristin Jensen of the Irish Food Bloggers Association
Justin Corfield & Eoin Purcell of New Island
Eoin Purcell and Justin Corfield of New Island had travelled down from Dublin along with PR maestro Gráinne Killeen. Sunday Times food writers Móna and Ron Wise were also there, and Kristin Jensen and Caroline Hennessy of the Irish Food Bloggers Association launched the book.

Apron Strings is available from New Island here at €22.99.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Blueberry and Orange Cake
I have a tendency to see what I've got in the press, then bake with it. Even for important things like my sons' Dad's birthday cake ... Still, blueberry and orange sound like a good match, don't they? And, it turns out, they are. This cake has a lovely childhood taste - sweet in all the right ways.

125g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
75g spelt flour
125g butter or marg
pinch of salt
zest of 1 orange
50g blueberries
2 eggs
2 tblsps cow's or soya milk
juice of 1/4 of an orange (2 tblsps)

30g icing sugar
juice of 1/4 of an orange (2 tblsps)

Orange drizzle

·        Preheat oven to 180˚C
·        Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
·        Zest and juice the orange
·        Cream the butter and caster sugar
·        Add the eggs and zest and beat well
·        Add flour and salt and fold in completely
·        Mix through the milk and OJ
·        Mix through the blueberries
·        Pour into the cake tinand flatten the top
·        Bake for 55 minutes or so, until golden on top, make sure it is cooked through with a cake tester/skewer
·        Make the syrup while the cake is cooking by gently heating the orange and icing sugar until the sugar is melted
·        Using your skewer, puncture the top of the cake and pour the syrup evenly over the cake
·        Cool completely in the tin. Serve on its own, or with plain yogurt or ice-cream. Yum!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Tesco had an offer on blueberries, which I haven't baked with in ages, so I snapped them up and baked some bun-sized, healthy muffins.This recipe makes 12 small muffins/buns.

139 calories per bun, 6g of fat.


125g wholegrain spelt flour
125g self-raising flour
75g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
150ml soya milk or milk
1 beaten egg (or 1tsp NoEgg mixed with 2tblsps water for vegans)
50g of blueberries
40g chopped walnuts
2 tblsps vegetable oil
12 small muffin or bun-sized cases


• Preheat oven to 180˚C
• Put muffin cases into bun tray
• Mix the flour, spice, sugar and baking powder in a bowl
• Beat egg or make up the NoEgg as per pack
• In a jug, mix together the soya milk, oil and egg/NoEgg mixture
• Make a well in the flour and beat in the milky mixture
• Mix in the blueberries and walnuts until you have a sticky dough
• Divide the mixture between the muffin cases
• Bake for 25 to 30 minutes