Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb

Mammy came back from Nanny’s with one and half kilos of fresh rhubarb. The bag had been sitting in our back kitchen while I debated what to do with it. I had recipes for crumbles, cobblers, cakes, muffins and even macaroons floating around my head. Finally I decided on rhubarb “tart”. Rhubarb tart is a traditionally Irish afternoon tea specialty. It is not actually a tart in the sense of lemon tart or chocolate tart and it isn’t baked in a traditional tart tin instead it is baked in a special tin made for Irish rhubarb and apple tarts. They are similar to plates but have a deeper dish than a dinner plate (some people use plates). In my family these tarts are made for every gathering or occasion. I have gotten to know the tart plates of the good cooks so I know which tart to look out for on the table. The qualities of a good tart are debatable first of all the pastry must be light, crisp and just the right amount of flakiness, the filling should be neither to tart nor to sweet and cooked to perfection. It is the quantities of each that create the controversy. I like lots of fruit and thin pastry while my granny likes to be able to cut her tart and for it to keep shape, for this she is mean with the fruit and generous with the pastry. When my little sister was born my auntie came over with heaps of tarts, bread and ham to bagsie the role of Godmother. Mammy says she couldn’t turn her down after she tried the tarts. Tarts last well about a week, my nanny stores hers in the oven which often results in disaster as the oven is preheated for dinner and the tart forgotten about until the smell of burnt sugar and pastry emerges from the oven. This tart is lovely served warm with ice cream or custard or cold with a cup of tea. In my family tarts are served with cups of tea like other people serve biscuits.

Rhubarb tart

makes two tarts

1 quantity of pastry from smitten kitchen – best pastry I have tried to date

1,300 g of rhubarb chopped

300g of brown sugar

200g of granulated sugar

50g of ground almonds

squeeze of lemon juice

1 egg yolk blended with milk to glaze

Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease a tart tin or deep dinner plate. Roll out 1/4 of the pastry very thinly using lots of flour. Line the tart tin with the pastry. Mix all the ingredients bar the glaze together. Put half of the rhubarb on top of the pastry it will pile high. . Using a little of the glaze brush it around the edge of the pastry so that the top will stick to it. Roll out another quarter of the pastry very thinly. Put it over the rhubarb and using a fork press it to the pastry on the bottom. Run a knife around the edge of the tin to get rid of any excess pastry. Glaze the top with a pastry brush and the egg yolk mixture. Prong a fork into the pastry lid to stop steam building up inside. Repeat with the remainder pastry and fruit. ( I usually get bored by this stage and make rustic free standing tarts. Simply roll out the pastry a little thicker. Pop the rhubarb on top and scrunch up the edges over the rhubarb.) Put in the oven and cook for 30 minutes until the pastry is golden and the fruit is soft

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Nothing beats good Friends… except a good Brownie

Due to a spanish exchange I have been separated from some of my friends reducing the amount of allies I have from 11 to 5. It wasn’t up until now that I realize how much I take my friends for granted. Despite how bitchy or irritating we become together we have each others back. We can arrive at parties in intimidating numbers. When someone messes with me I know my friends will have my back and when my friends are angry at someone they let you know. As a group we complement each other there is the friend that you spill you troubles too, who by the way is ginger, there is the funny friend who makes you laugh, who also happens to be ginger. The friend who will be honest with you no matter what, and the friend that will tell you exactly what you want to hear, the one that has amazing style and can pull anything off and the one organizes everything. As a group of girls sometimes things can get a little heated and boil out of control but so far things have always managed to cool down. I love my friends who have been so good to me, so for that reason I dedicate this brownie recipe (which I use to make more friends) to them

Friendship Brownies

90g of plain chocolate

150g unsalted butter

125g of plain flour

15g cocoa powder

1/2 tsp of baking powder

150g of caster sugar

150g of soft light brown sugar

1 pinch of salt

2 eggs


1tsp of vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 160C

Grease a baking tin (20cm x 15cm) and sprinkle flour over it, tap the tin to evenly spread the flour. Break the chocolate into a bowl and add the butter. Melt over a saucepan of simmering water, stirring occasionally. Remove the bowl the heat and allow the chocolate to cool slightly. Meanwhile sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt into a separate bowl. In a third bowl beat the sugars and eggs together then add the vanilla. Fold in the melted chocolate then fold in the flour mixture. There should be no flour visable. Spoon the mixture into a tin and smooth the top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting into 12-16 squares.  Best served a little warm with vanilla ice cream and chocolate sauce.

Variations: You could add 100g of chopped nuts (pecans, almonds, hazelnuts etc.) or chocolate chips when folding in the flour. You could serve it as a cake and ice it with a chocolate ganache. Although I am not a fan some people love brownies with dried cherries, if you would like this add 75g of cherries in when folding in the flour

Mothers Day Almond Buns

Mothers day came late in our house but still it came. I think mothers day is a wonderful day its the one day a year where everybody celebrates the work of their mothers. Mammies have so much influence on our life and I am thankful that of all the mothers i could have got I got my mammy. Even though Mother’s day like Valentine’s day is a day promoted by the card, flower and chocolate industry, I don’t find it at all tacky ( and it’s not just because I am single). My mammy is a wonderful women she is the person who taught me how to cook from an early age. It is her I have to thank for introducing me to the wonderful world of food. She was the first person to feed me, cook for me and teach me to cook. She always encouraged us to try new foods and the importance of knowing how to prepare food. There are two foods I associate with my mammy they are coconut and almonds. Anytime I see any of those two ingredients I instantly think of Mammy. This recipe for Almond buns is a favorite of my mammy.Her sister used to get her these macaroon style pies from bakery and my mam treated them like gold dust. She had a rule that you must be quizzed to see your love for almonds before you can even try one. Any lack of enthusiasm for the humble nut and there was not a chance you were getting a bite of the almond bun. Even now that I have created my own recipe for almond buns you still must be quizzed before you cant try an almond bun.

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Almond Buns 

Adapted from Good Food Vegetarian magazine Christmas Special 2002

makes 12

for the pastry 

225g of plain flour

140g of butter

50g of golden caster sugar

one egg yolk

For the filling

175g of caster sugar

175g of ground almonds

25g of flaked or chopped almonds or cocunut (optional)

3 egg whites

1 tsp of almond essence ( this has quiet a distinctive taste omit if you don’t like it)

12 tsp of raspberry jam

50 g of flaked or chopped almonds to top

Make the pastry mix all the dry ingredients and butter together in a food processor to form crumbs. Add the yolk to form a dough add a tablespoon of cold water if needed. Chill for 20-30 minutes ( if you have time)

For the macaroon filling- mix the dry ingredients together stir in stiffly beaten egg whites and essence.

Preheat the ovend to 200C/ Gas 6

Roll out the dough fairly thinly and stamp out 12 3 inch/7.5cm rounds with a cookie cutter. Use them to line a greased bun tin. Put 1 tsp of jam in each pie and top with a large spoonful of macaroon. Top with the flaked or chopped almonds.(You can freeze the buns now for ukp to 6 months) Bake for about 15 minutes until the the top has gone chewy and golden. Leave in tin for 5 minutes then remove and cool on a wire rack

Variations: For a Christmas themed bun you could substitute the jam for mincemeat. Chocolate sauce or spread would make another substitution

This can be cooked in one large try and cut into squares. If doing use a 25 by 25 cm square tin and cook for 30-40 minutes at 180C

Award winning Oaty Raspberry Crumble

From 4th of March
Today is one of those days in Ireland that tricks you. I left my house this morning to go to my sisters camogie match looking out the  window I saw that the sun was shining and the sky was blue. “What a lovely day” I thought “I won’t need a jacket” but boy was I wrong. I spent all morning freezing on a sideline. I should have known, it is March after all, who am I kidding you need a jacket in June in Ireland. I was deceived by the blue sky  . I then feeling very energetic despite the cold went for a swim. There is something about swimming that makes you very hungry afterwords. I wanted something sweet but not wanting to undo my mornings work swimming I decided upon this Award Winning Oaty Raspberry Crumble. I love it because anybody who knows me will know I am healthy, I love oaty things and fruit. This is a combination of all three and of course it is award winning. Well I lie it’s not actually award winning but Runner Up Oaty Raspberry Crumble doesn’t have the same ring to it and I think it was worthy of first place.
The story is Sister number two who was only seven at the time entered this recipe  a kids cooking competition one night and we thought we would hear nothing of it again. Then about a month later Daddy received a phone call to say she had been chosen as a finalist and had to go to Hamleys Dundrum to prepare her dish. There was great excitement Sister number one and I even skipped training to go to Hamleys with her.  All the contestants were given a station to prepare their dish. Mammy, Sister number one and I watched anxiously from afar as Sister number two prepared the dish. It was one of the most nerve raking experiences of my life. “Oh no she is going to forget the sugar” or “How long has it been in the oven” we said to each other, but we should have trusted her she knew what she was doing. She didn’t forget the sugar and cooked it to perfection. Sadly to say she didn’t win despite all of us agreeing that it was the best dish there. So here it is our Almost Award Winning Oaty Raspberry Crumble.
Oaty Raspberry Crumble 
Serves a family of five or six
100g of oats
20g of coconut desiccated
10g of chopped almonds
5g of butter
2 tbs of honey
600g of raspberries ( I use frozen)
30g of sugar
Preheat the oven to 160 degrees. Put the oats, chopped almonds, butter, and cocunut into a saucepan and heat over a low heat, stirring constantly, until the butter has melted. Then add the honey and continue to heat for 2-3 minutes until it has turned slightly golden. Put the raspberries and sugar in a 25 by 25cm pie dish. Scatter over the oat mixture and place in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until the raspberries are hot through and the tip is a dark golden colour. Eat warm served with natural yogurt ( for a healthy option) or vanilla ice cream ( for a naughty option).
You could of course use any fruit of your choice – apples, rhuabarb, pears ect. but if using a hard fruit I would stew it first and add sugar according to taste. I love  raspberry and apple together but try out whatever fruit you want to decide you like.