Pear Cake

After making the Bircher Muesli  I had a large punnet of unripe pears sitting on the counter top. I debated over what I should do with them….

  1. Let them rot – it seemed like a lazy decision
  2. Make a pear and almond tart – it involved making pastry ughhh…
  3. Poach or stew them – BORING
  4. Make a cake with them
I Googled Pear Cake but nothing inspiring came up. Then a recipe from one of my favorite blogs  101 Cookbooks caught my eye Cele’s Old Fashioned Pear Cake.  I quickly printed out the recipe read over it and adapted it to suite my taste and cupboard . I replaced the butter with olive oil to make it a little healthier. I had no wholewheat flour so  wheat bran a of self raising. I don’t like cinnamon in cakes that aren’t specific cinnamon cakes, so that got ditched. And 6 pears seemed like an awful lot so I reduced the number. I  think I cooked it in the wrong size tin and was too lazy to follow the instructions instead I simply mixed up everything together. When I tipped my Cake out I decided it looked better upside down so it became an Upside Pear Cake on the spur of the moment. Despite all the alterations the cake still got the thumbs up from Mammy, Daddy and Sister Number One. Here is my Recipe for the very easy
Upside Down Pear Cake
100ml of olive oil
50g of wheat bran
50g of self raising flour
1tsp of baking powder
1/4 tsp of salt
2 eggs
1/2 a cup of sugar
2-3 pears (peeled,cored and quartered length ways )
Preheat the oven to 18oC. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the egg and oil and mix well. Soften the pears in the microwave for about 2 minutes until the hard bite has softened. Place the Pears on a greased 15cm round, loose bottem  cake tin. Arrange them like the petals on a flower with the thin part of the pear facing in. Spoon over the cake mixture and bang the tin so that it spreads evenly over the tin. Cook for about 50 minutes

 

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Bircher Muesli


Anybody who knows me knows I love breakfast. It is my favourite meal of the day. It is the only meal where it is acceptable to eat anything from Cake to sausages. Given my attatchment to the morning meal you can only imagine my excitement when I recently breakfasted at McNean house I had heard a lot about the breakfast and it didn’t fall short. One thing that I truly enjoyed was the Bircher Muesli. I am not a huge Muesli fan as I have voiced before but the Bircher muesli is a whole different ball game. I had heard about this type of muesli where the oats are soaked in milk and yogurt the night before but dared not make it for fear it would be soggy. Infact it wasn’t soggy at all it was extremly tasty and with just under 200 calories per serving it’s the perfect kick start to my detox weekend. Bircher muesli was first created by a 20th century physician to feed patients, althought it has been adapted to suite our modern taste, the idea remains the same.

Bircher-Style Muesli

adapted from the Jamie Magazine issue 26 February 12

This recipe is made the night before you wish to serve it. You can chop and change this recipe to suite your own personal change. I added fresh berries before eating it, instead of the dried fruit. Bananas, Kiwis, peaches and cubes of mango would aslo be rally nice in it.

makes 5 small servings

1 apple

1/2 a pear

1/2 a lemon

40ml of orange or apple juice

1/2 a small handful of dried fruit (optional)

1/2 a small handfull of nuts and seeds (optional) I used pumpkin, sunflower, almonds and pine nuts

250g of plain yogurt

50g of dessicated coconut

1 tbsp of honey

100ml of milk

Prepare the muesli a night in advance. Grate the apple and pear skin and all. Transfer to a bowl squeeze in the lemon juice add the orange juice. Roughly chop the dried fruit and nuts, add to the bowl. Add the yogurt and oats. Mix well to coat all the oats in the juice and yogurt. Stir in the honey. Cover with cling film and place in the fridge overnight. The next morning loosen with the milk . Serve in bowls with your cchoice of topping – honey, fresh or dried fruit, toasted nuts ect.  It will last 2 days covered in cling film in the fridge

The Best FroYo Sundae

Summer approaches and the weather is getting nicer… Who am I kidding I live in Ireland we already had our week of summer last March but the evenings are getting longer and their is a nicer summer breeze in the air.The sound of ice-cream vans ring around the town in the afternoons.  I was never a huge ’99 fan but their is something about them in the heat. The whipped ice-cream is filled with calories and saturated fat and their is always questions about the cleanliness of the machine it comes from. The above makes a lot of parents reluctant to give it to their kids. One cunning mother told her little boy that when the van plays music it means their is no ice-cream left. The poor innocent boy fell for his mothers  plan and evertime he heard the van he would say “Oh no, it has no ice-cream left”. Something relativly new to this side of the Atlantic is Frozen Yogurt. The ever so popular treat in America has just reached Irish shores within the last year with outlets such as Froberry opening up. Frozen Yogurt is simular to whipped ice-cream with less fat and caloires and hopefully more hygienic. I could eat it all day only problem is I can’t afford it. The healthy alternitive to ice-cream turns out also to be the expencive alternitive. After binge eating on not so healthy foods last week and with plans to do it again next week I deceided to begin my detox weekend with this Frozen Yogurt.

Mixed Berry Frozen Yogurt Sundae

This recipe is easy to make and a lot cheaper than the bought. The Yogurt can be frozen after making it but best eaten straight away. Don’t be afraid to experiment with whatever berries or frozen fruit you have. If you add more juice to the Fro Yo you it can be served as a berry smoothie mmmm….

makes two sundaes

for the yogurt

100ml of orange juice

one banana

3/4 cup of frozen raspberries

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries (slightly softened depending on the strength of your blender)

1/2 cup of frozen bluebererries

150ml of natural yogurt ( I always use Glenisk I don’t think any other natural yogurt compares to it but use the best you can afford)

for the sundae

200ml of  natural yogurt yogurt100

100ml of melted frozen berries

berries to top it

To make the yogurt put the juice, then yogurt, then banana then berries in the blender and blend to form a smooth creamy consistency.

Get your serving glass and put 100ml of natural yogurt in the bottem. Next layer the melted berries and finish with tree scoops of the Fro Yo. Top with the berries and whatevery garnishes take your fancy.

Enjoy

Cinnamon Scone Swirls and a little inspirations


Sometimes recipe inspiration comes to me at the most random times. I spend a lot of time thinking about food and different flavours. Sometimes ideas come to when I am running as I am trying to preocupy my mind from the 9km ahead of me or sometimes as I lie in bed trying to fall asleep an idea juts comes to me like an epiphany and I have to write it down there and then otherwise I will have forgotten it by morning. Other times, other recipes inspire me and I love looking at and examining new recipes seeing how I can adapt them to suite my taste. I also get ideas from movies and books which I scrutinize every meal and piece of food eaten. When I come up with a new idea a get giddy and restless until I try it. I then watch with eager eyes as my family, usually Sister number one, eat it. No sooner have they got it in their mouth do I badger them with questions ” what do you think of it honestly?” ” Is it too sweet/sour/hard/soft ect.?” Usually they are very patient and answer truthfully but sometimes they  get a little angry at my eagerness and a huge fight errupts. The idea for these cinnamin scone swirls had been in my head for a while. They were slightly inspired by Joy the Bakers biscuit cinnamin rolls   and these cinnamon roll scones I found on a new blog Naturally Ella. The flavour idea for these scones first came to me when I was eating the Hunger Games inspiered Fruit and Nut Bread. So inspiration can come to all of us at funny times but remember to stay opened minded “You always have to be ready for that little artistic Epiphany”-Unknown source

Cinnamon Swirl Scones

makes 6

Dough

100g of unbleached all purpose flour
100g of whole wheat pastry flour
3 tablespoons natural sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
15g butter softened
1 egg yolk
3/8 cup buttermilk (or natural yogurt thinned with a little milk or water)

Filling

1 tbsp of ground cinnamon

1tbsp of maple syrup

1tbsp of olive oil

small handfull of raisins (optional)

Preheat oven to 190C.  Line a muffin tin with buncases. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture looks like breadcrumbs. In a seperate bowl mix the milk and egg yolk. Add the wet mixture to the dry and mix well to form a dough. Knead it gently for a few seconds then put out on lightly floured surface. Roll out to about 2.5cm thick (try make it sort of rectangly it’s easier to roll up). Combine all of the filling ingredients and mix. Using a brush brush the cinnamon mixture over the surface of the dough and evenly sprinkle ont the raisins. Roll up tightly like a swiss roll. Then squeeze the roll to ensure it is tight roll it up and down a few times. Cut it into 6 even, smaller rolls. Place upright in the bunc cases. Brush with the remaining egg white or milk and sprinkle with caster sugar. Cook for about 30 minutes until the tops are nicly browned and so is the bottems.  Leave to cool slightly but serve warm.

These are also nice sprinkled with a royal icing made from 30g of icing sugar and 1-2 tsp of water.

Our Daily Bread

I am mad about bread. I love all types but brown soda bread is something i believe to be above all other breads. I almost get offended at non-Irish people who announce their dislike for the bread. Maybe it’s because they haven’t tried homemade soda bread instead they are basing their judgement on the dry, sour green bread you get in supermarkets – not a scratch on the homemade version. Mammy and her Sisters  take bread very seriously they share recipes,methods and slices regularly (unfortunately one has been omitted from this circle since she was diagnosed with celiac disease, now she is pitied). I find wherever you may go if there is good bread the place can’t be too bad. I find kindred spirits in those who make bread. This Particular recipe is from a cousin of Mammy’s it contains lots of different grains and “healthy stuff” but the result is a really wholesome loaf. It is so simple to make and lovely served with anything from soup to paté but I like it with this homemade raspberry jam for breakfast.

Mary Breens Brown Bread

225g of wholewheat flour

70g of wholemeal flour

40g of wheatgerm

40g of oat bran

40g of wheat bran

40g of pin head oatmeal

3 rounded tsp of bread soda

pinch of salt

500ml of butter milk (or natural yogurt)

Seeds/rolled oats to top it (optional)

Preheat oven to 180C. Line a 2b loaf tin with loaf liners (handy pieces of grease proof paper made to fit in a loaf tin availible at good supermarkets or kitchen shops) or grease it well. Put all the dry ingredients in a bowl. Slowly mix in the milk. Stir well until all the mixture is comined. It should resemble thick porridge. Pour into loaf tin and flatten with the back of a fork. Top with seeds or oats if using. Place in oven and cook for about 50 minutes. The loaf is cooked when it sounds hollow when tapped on the bottem. I would reccomend taking it out of the tin for the last 10 minutes and turning it upside down.

Rasperry Jam

Any sort of berry can be used in this jam. Raspberries are the easiest as they have high level of pectin but logan berries, blackberries,  are also good. If using strawberries add a squeeze of lemon to help it set.

400g of Raspberries ( I use Frozen)

400g of sugar

Put a saucer in the fride this will be used to test the jam later.Put the raspberries into a large saucepan and cook over a low heat, stirring slowly. Cook for 25 minutes. Meanwhile put the sugar in the bottom of a low oven to heat through. Stir the sugar into the raspberries and cook for about 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up and boil for 10 minutes. To test the jam and see if it’s done, remove the saucer from the fridge and put a small spoonful of jam on it. Leave for a minute or so, then Push the jam with your finger if the it wrinkles it is set. Remove from the heat and leave to cool. Remove any scum that has formed on the surface before potting in sterilised jars and seal tightly.

Carrot Cupcakes fit for the Easter Bunny

My third post in three days I am on a roll. Easter is just sort of creping up on me and  I really wanted to Share these Carrot Cupcakes before Sunday. When I was younger I always felt it unfair that nobody left out treats for the Easter Bunny, Santa got hundreds of Cookies when he was doing his rounds but the poor Easter Bunny (E.B) had to go house to house on an empty stomach. I decided, one Easter, to make something too give to the E.B. I didn’t take me long to decide upon Carrot Cake as bunnies do love carrots. I also loved, and still do, making Carrot Cake as the raw mixture tastes almost as good as the baked, so licking bowls clean was always a treat.  The cream cheese frosting is an essential on Carrot Cake according to some and I will admit it is tasty but for a little bit healthier cupcake you can omit it.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

makes about 15 cupcakes 12 muffins or one loaf cake

120g of self raising flour

80g of whole wheat flour

2 eggs

200ml of Olive oil or Sunflower or Canola

110g of caster Sugar

.5 tsp of salt

200g of grated Carrots

Cream Cheese Frosting

80g of cream cheese

30g of soft butter

120g of icing sugar

Topping

30 mini eggs

50g of dessicated coconut

1-2 tsp of green food colouring

for the cupcakes

Line about 15 cupcake holes with cases. Preheat the oven to 160C Beat the Sugar and oil together until thick and pale. Stir in the eggs one at a time then mix in the sugar.  Sift in the self raising flour and mix in the whole wheat flour n and salt.  Mix in the Carrots until they are well combined in the batter. Divide the mixture between the Cupcake cases with an ice-cream scoop. You could also just put all the batter in a lined 2lb loaf tin. Cook the cupcakes for 15-20 minutes until golden and spongey to touch the muffins will take 25-30. The loaf will take longer between 50 minutes and an hour. Test with a wooden skewer if the skewer comes out clean it is cooked.

Leave to cool completely before icing. Mix the coconut and green food colouring together. Continue mixing until all the coconut is green.

To make the icing mix all the ingredients together . Ice each cupcake generously with the icing.  Place a teaspoon of coconut on top of each cake. Using your finger make a well in each mound of coconut to get a nest shape. Place to eggs in the the well.

The Hunger Games Inspired Fruit and Nut Bread

I, like the rest of the world have just finished reading “The Hunger Games” first book. I unlike the rest of the world did not fall madly in love with it. I will admit it is a good book and enjoyed every minute of reading it but I just wanted the Hunger Games to end and for Peeta’s and Katniss’s romance to bloom. I suppose I won’t really enjoy the next two in the trilogy hence the name “The Hunger Games Trilogy”. I have a sneaky feeling that the next two book will not focus on a happy ever after the hunger games theme. Oh well, I still commend Suzanne Collins for like J.K Rowling and Stephanie Meyer she has gotten people who never read before to start reading which is always great.

When I read a book or watch a Movie I remember and focus on the food eaten and prepared by the characters ( Anne of Green Gables -Liniment Cake, The Help-Mississippi Mud Pie, Laura Ingalls Wilder Maple syrup snow). I am an avid foodie. In “The Hunger Games” food and lack of it plays a big part. One food scene that I remember most (and don’t worry it won’t ruin the end of the book) is at the start when Katniss recalls Peeta purposely burning Fruit and Nut Bread so she could feed her starving family. I decided to try for myself fruit and nut bread.

Peeta’s Fruit and Nut Bread a.k.a Hazelnut, Raisin and Honey Wholemeal Loaf.

^note you could call it a Honey I’m Wholemeal Loaf


When I made this bread for the photo I killed the yeast so it didn’t rise. Instead of light airy bread it was dense and heavy in texture but the flavour was still really nice (and I ate it all) that’s why I have included it on my blog. I am going to try it again hopefully with a better outcome

80g of hazelnuts blanched toated and chopped

400g of wholemeal flour

100g of plain flour

1.5 tsp of salt

7g sachet of fast-action yeast

1tbs of honey

350 ml of lukewarm milk

60g of raisins

2 tbs of milk to brush top with

Combine the flours and salt in a large bowl or freestanding electric mixer. Add the yeast and make a well in the flour. Stir the honey and milk together and pour into the well.

Using your hand or a dough hook attachment of the mixer, mix the flour into the liquid. If it feels or looks to dry add a tablespoon more milk at a time and vice versa with the flour if its too wet.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and kneed by hand for 10 minutes until it feels elasticy.  Add the nuts and raisins and gently work in to evenly distribute. Return to bowl cover with clingfilm and leave to rise for about an hour in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size.

Punch down the dough and shape into a loaf. Cut a line down the center. Tuck the ends under each other on a lined baking tray Cover loosely with cling film and leave to double in size again for about an hour. Towards the end of the rising preheat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6

Uncover the loaf and glaze with milk. Bake for 30 minutes until golden brown and sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom.

This bread is lovely plain or just buttered but it is not too sweet to serve with savory toppings either such as cheese or chutneys.

Splendiferous Chocolate Muffins

So I finally got a job. At the Garden Center I was doing work experience in. Not so glamorous but a job’s a job well the pay is €6.06 an hour and the bus journey costs me €4 so I am not really making much bu you can’t put a price on the experience can you? I have to admit that I was a little excited the first day to actually get to work with a REAL cash register and not one of the fisher price ones from my younger days. I get to be the person on the other side of the till and ask those questions that all till staff ask. We are given a five steps guideline to treating a customer they are

  1. Greet Customer with appropriate greeting for time of day
  2. Thank them for waiting (don’t apologize for the queue be positive at all times)
  3. Ask them for a reward card if not do they want a reward card
  4. Say something Pleasant ( what a lovely day or complement there baby/purchase)
  5. Tell them the total price and take payment method then say goodbye

Us tillers we have marketing down to a tee. I am being extra pleasant as I want to keep my job to buy a new pair of heels I have my eyes on a few pairs I am not sure why I buy heels at all as instead of making me look sleek and sexy like they should they make me look like a fool as I can’t walk never mind dance in them and they give you the worst blisters. Despite the pain there is something about the stiletto that I can’t resist I think the love of shoes is something in the genes of all girls. It’s in our DNA we are born with the irrational notion to spend lots of money and lovely shoes.

Another weakness that women tend to have is a love for all things chocolate. If you are like the hundreds of women who admit to this you must try these Chocolaty Muffins. And if you are not then you still must try the muffins as the smell will almost defiantly convert you. They are in fact Splendiferous

Splendiferous Chocolate Muffins

I have spent years looking for a rich coloured chocolate muffin all previous attempts have turned out a lightish brown colour. I finally did from Lilly Higgins blog stuff I Make Bake and Love/ who found it from a Dan Leopard recipe from the Guardian website  These are dark and luscious. The method is unusual first you make a custardy substance then add the flour. It also calls for no milk

I adapted the recipe to what I could find in my Kitchen

50g cornflour
3 level tbsp cocoa
80g of caster sugar
225ml cold water
75g unsalted butter, cubed
125g dark chocolate, broken small
75ml olive oil
2 large eggs
125g caster sugar
125g plain flour
2½ tsp baking powder

Preheat the oven to 180C

First make the custard: put the cornflour, cocoa, 80g of caster sugar and water into a saucepan and whisk together over a medium heat until boiling, very thick and smooth. Remove from the heat, beat in the butter and chocolate until melted and absorbed, then add the oil,  and one of the eggs, and beat again until combined. Add the remaining egg and the caster sugar, and beat again until smooth and thick.

Measure the flour and baking powder into a bowl, stir together, then sift directly on to the custard and beat through until combined. Spoon into a dozen paper muffin cases, using a  sitting in the pockets of a muffin tray,; h bake for 25 minutes.

Crunchy a.k.a Granola

Granola, or crunchy as it’s known in my house, has always been the naughtier cousin of the healthy muesli. Then again food is about enjoyment and who honestly enjoys a bowl of muesli. I love anything oaty but there is something about the dry uncooked oats that gives me the shivers. Granola is is enjoyable and this homemade recipe unlike the shop bought version contains no sugar ( just honey so the calories are still there) so it’s a little healthier. It’s delicious served with natural yogurt and fruit for breakfast it’s also yummy,, or so I’ve been told, as a topping to ice-cream sundae. Another option layer it in pretty jam jars with fruit or compete, granola and yogurt and serve for breakfast or healthy dessert. I also like to nibble at it dry through out the day but that’s just me.

Granola

makes one large tub that lasts a week in a airtight container

Measurements don’t have to be exact use it as a rough guideline

250g of oats

5 heaped tbs of honey

3 tbs of olive oil

handful of pumpkin seeds

handful of sunflower seeds

small handful of chopped almonds

small handful of hazelnuts (raw)

50g of dessicated unsweetened coconut

Preheat the oven to 180C. Put the oats and coconut in a saucepan and put on a low heat for about 2 minutes stirring regularly. Add the coconut and continue to stir. Add the seeds and nuts. Then add the honey continue to gently heat and mix it so the honey covers all the oats. Take off the heat and mix in the oil (the oil makes it crunchy). Pour onto a baking tray and cook in the oven for about 15 minutes until golden brown. Take it out every 5 minutes and give it a stir as the pieces on the edge cook quicker than the center.

The above recipe is just a guideline the first three ingredients are the base after that you can add what you wish.  Seeds and nuts go in before baking just ensure they are unsalted and raw (from experience poppy seeds don’t really work) dried fruit or chocolate can be added after baking. You can add as much or little extras as you like.

P.S I think the coconut is really nice in it so I would recommend  that unless you have a coconut phobia.