Thursday, December 1, 2016


Well, last year I didn't even bother making a cake which felt wrong. The problem is the three kids don't eat Xmas cake so it's only me and himself. Anyway, I decided to make a small cake this year, so here it is. (It's my teabrack with a bit of zhuzsh.) I should mention we are not icing and/or marzipan fans here but both are easily procured or made. We cut the cake today and it's boozy and yum. Happy Advent!
Soaked fruit

With the egg and marg mixed through

Teeny brandy :)


150ml tea
50ml brandy (plus more for dousing later)
grated rind of one orange
200g dried fruit (candied fruit, glace cherries, sultanas, raisins)
100g stoned dates, sliced in half
100g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
50g melted marg
255g wholegrain spelt flour
1 tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice
flaked almonds to top (optional)


- Soak the fruit, rind, sugar, brandy and tea in a bowl - leave overnight or for at least 4 hours
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin (ready-made liners are great and very little greasing needed!)
- Add melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Place mixture into the lined tin and flatten out the top
- Sprinkle with a handful of flaked almonds (if using)
- Bake for one hour, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack.
- Once cool, make holes with a skewer and pour on a few tsps of brandy
- Wrap in greaseproof paper, then tinfoil and store in an airtight tin.
- Douse with a few tsps of brandy, bottom and top of cake alternately, at one week intervals, until you want to eat it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Eve's Pudding with Alpro Soya Custard
The finished Eve's Pudding
I am at the end of a rewrite of novel #4, Becoming Belle, and I have, as usual, got my heroine eating her way through the plot. Early in the novel, Belle's domineering mother (in an off-page moment of sweetness) makes an Eve's Pudding for Belle and her two sisters to enjoy while their parents are dining with the regiment. So, naturally, I had to make one and try it for myself :) It's research.

The cooking apples with lemon juice and sugar mixed in
I used Bramley apples because they're the best ones for this recipe. But, also, because when I was in England in August, doing final on-the-ground research for the book, we drove through the pretty village of Bramley in Surrey.

A fine Bramley (or 'Brailsford' ;))
However, it turns out Bramley apples actually originated in Nottinghamshire and were named after a butcher called Matthew Bramley. But! The apple tree was planted by a girl called Mary Ann Brailsford - Mr Bramley bought the cottage and garden where she planted her tree. So, we should be making our Eve's Pud with Brailsfords, really :)

The apples with the batter poured on
After all that, I made the pudding today for my husband's birthday, we had it with custard, and it was delicious. The apples stew together and are nicely tart-sweet, and the flaked almonds give bite.


3 Bramley cooking apples (peeled, cored and thinly sliced)
75g brown sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Sponge topping:
150g self-raising flour
75g butter or marg (room temp)
75g caster sugar
1 egg (beaten)
100ml milk
A handful of flaked almonds (optional)

  • Pre-heat oven to 180˚C
  • Grease an ovenproof dish.
  • Mix the Bramleys with the granulated sugar and lemon juice.
  • Spoon the apple mixture into the prepared dish.
  • In a bowl, beat together the flour, butter, caster sugar, egg and milk to a batter with a soft dropping consistency.
  • Spread this over the apples and sprinkle with the flaked almonds, if used.
  • Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180°C, bottom shelf, for 45 minutes or until sponge is golden brown.
(Cross-posted with The Hungry Veggie)

Sunday, June 5, 2016


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


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)
veg oil (for frying the halloumi)


- 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


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


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 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


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


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


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
·         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

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!