October 31, 2012

Baked Pumpkin Cheesecake

Check the internet, it's inundated with Halloween recipes and how to's. Uses for hollowed out pumpkins, pumpkin flesh and how to turn empty jam jars into spooky hanging lanterns. 

Are you sick of them yet?! I hope not because, I've got another one coming your way in the form of a baked pumpkin cheesecake!  

Americans are all about the pumpkin pie. It''s like their version of our apple tart or soda bread. It's something they all know how to make. Tradition. I like to get traditional sometimes-it's good for the soul! 

So, back to the pumpkin! Since it's a pumpkin cheesecake we're going to need pumpkin purée. I bought a tin of pumpkin purée in Fallon & Byrne, but, it is very easy to make your own. If you have pumpkin flesh, roast it for 20-40 minutes in an oven set to 200°C until tender. Once cooked, place in a bowl and purée with a hand blender. If you don't have pumpkin lying around and cannot find tinned pumpkin purée, you can use butternut squash or even sweet potato and roast it the very same! Then, all you need to do is change the name of your dessert accordingly!

This really is a delicious way to use pumpkin. I love how pumpkin works well in savoury and sweet dishes-it's an all round ingredient! 


For the biscuit base: mix together the crushed biscuits, orange zest and melted butter.

Once combined, pour into the base of a lined springform tin.

Push the crumbs into the bottom of the tin until you have a flat even base.

Since this is pumpkin cheesecake we're gonna need pumpkin purée-obvi. Here is the one I used, you can get it in Fallon & Bryne or on the internet.
The pumpkin purée is mixed with eggs, cream cheese, dark brown sugar, vanilla essence and ground cinnamon.

Whisk everything together until smooth and pour on top of the biscuit base. 

Bake at 170°C for 1 1/2 hours.

Recipe, adapted from BBC Food Recipes
1 x 25cm springform tin

Biscuit Base

250gDigestive/Gingernuts, I used half and half
75g Butter,melted
1 Orange-zested

Bash the biscuits and mix with the melted butter and orange zest.
Push evenly into the base of a lined springform tin-set aside. 

450g FullFat Cream Cheese
400g Solid Pumpkin Purée
3 Eggs
200g Dark Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 TeaspoonVanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 170°C.
Place all ingredients into a bowl.
Whisk until super smooth.
Pour on top of the biscuit base.
Bake at 170°C for 90 minutes until set but still slightly wobbly.
Allow to cool completely before drizzling with the topping below. Slice.

Orange Topping

3 Tablespoon Natural Yoghurt-Greek/Vanilla, it's up to you!
1 Tablespoon Icing Sugar
1-3 Tablespoon Orange Juice
Mix the yoghurt and icing sugar with 1 tablespoon of orange juice until smooth.
Add more orange juice until you have reached the consistency of thin honey.
Spoon over the pumpkin cheesecake.

October 28, 2012

Toffee Apple Cake

I have this foggy memory, from maybe 10 year ago of waking up one late October morning to find toffee and chocolate covered apples in the fridge. Needless to say, they were eaten for breakfast! My parents had been out the night before and brought them back for us. We cannot remember where the apples were bought or how they managed to buy toffee apples late at night. No doubt, my mother will wake up some night and remember! 

I always loved waking up after my parents had been out the night before for dinner to see how their night went, what the restaurant was like, what they ate and to see if they brought anything home! Most of the time they didn't bring anything home, but when they did, it was always exciting. Honestly though, I was always more interested in hearing about what they had to eat! 

Anyway, back to the apples-the toffee ones. Toffee apples are the bomb-there is no denying that! No matter what age you are you enjoy them. A crisp tart apple skewered on a lollipop stick, generously coated with toffee and sprinkles is quintessentially Halloween. The only way you might run into difficulty with them is if you have dentures-but look- for those people we can cut up the toffee apple! 

October 23, 2012

Fried Green Tomatoes with Ranch Sauce

Since I first read Fannie Flagg's book 'Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café' I have wanted to fry some green tomatoes. I think the first time I read the book was 8 years ago. In the space of 8 years, I have re-read the book three times, seen the movie several times and said I was going to fry some green tomatoes thousands of times-well more like 37 times, but who's actually counting?!

The book is my favourite. It makes me feel nostalgic. Not that I have any memories of America in the roaring 20's! But, I feel like I could have lived back then. It seems quite romantic to me, apart from the strong political movements! Hey, hey, let's keep it light and happy here!! 

Let's remember instead,  the homemade pies, soft drinks from bottles and jam jars, flappers, pin-curls, floral dresses, iced-tea, lemonade, the Charleston, Southern BBQ, fresh picked corn, big band, swing, jazz and best of all,  the fried green tomatoes. 

I should start off by stating that green tomatoes can either be unripe red tomatoes or ripe green tomatoes. I should also state that I don't like tomatoes. Nor will I- ever. I will eat a cooked tomato but never a raw one. The squishy bursting of seeds freaks me out. So, why do I want to fry green tomatoes so much? Because, I read about them one time and I have had the notion stuck in my head since. Let's just say it's on my bucket list. Now I can say it was on my bucket list. 

I went into Fallon & Bryne the other week to pick up sweetened chestnut purée for a cookery demonstration I was doing. I said to myself ''I'll be in and out in 2 minutes'', but was I? Somehow I managed to wander into the fruit and veg aisle and before I knew it I had a brown paper bag full of green tomatoes. 

I set aside an afternoon of slicing, egg dipping, cornmeal coating and frying for the green tomatoes. I'm glad I did this. Fried green tomatoes are my new thing-in a major way. The fried coating is amazing, but I think that goes without saying, and the green tomatoes are heavenly-tart, sweet and firm. Totally addictive. Get a fried green tomato, dip it in some creamy ranch sauce and eat, eat, eat. Ireland needs to get serving fried green tomatoes everywhere!!

These are perfect eaten on their own with a cool beer anytime. They make a perfect lunch, starter, snack or dinner!
I like my ranch spiked with a little Tabasco!

Holly x

These are the prettiest tomatoes I have ever seen. They're stripped like zebras...except green.

Slice them into 1/2 inch slices...

...dip in egg and coat in whole wheat, cornmeal, fresh cracked black pepper and cayenne.

I didn't take any pictures of the frying process-sorry. I was also stuffing a pork fillet for dinner! 

For the ranch dressing mix together mayonnaise, sour cream, crushed garlic, parsley and chives. 
Ranch is a herby, sour, creamy salad dressing served everywhere in America. We've gone totally American in honour of these fried green tomatoes. 

Once mixed, you'll need to thin it out with some buttermilk or milk! The buttermilk just gives it an extra tang. 

Recipe, Serves 3-4

6-8 Medium Green Tomatoes
3 Handfuls Whole Wheat Flour
2 Handfuls Cornmeal or Breadcrumbs
1 Teaspoon Freshly Cracked Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
2 Eggs
Splash Milk
1 inch of Vegetable Oil

In a flat bowl stir together the whole wheat flour, cornmeal, pepper and cayenne pepper.
In another flat bowl whisk the eggs with a splash of milk. 
In a pan, heat 1 inch of vegetable oil-to approx 180°C .
Slice the tomatoes into 1/2 inch slices.
Dip in the egg mixture, coating the slices all over.
Dip in the cornmeal mixture, coating really well.
Once the oil is heated, in batches, carefully drop in the coated tomatoes.
Cook for 5 minutes on each side-make sure not to burn them!
Remove, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with salt.
Allow the oil to come back up to temperature, continue frying until all tomatoes are done.

Ranch Sauce

100g Mayonnasie 
100g Sour Cream
10g Freshly Chopped Chives
5g Freshly Chopped Parsley
1-2 Cloves Garlic
1 Tablespoon Buttermilk/Milk

Finely chop the parsley and chives.
Crush the garlic cloves.
Mix the mayonnaise, sour cream, chives, parsley and garlic together.
Add a little milk to thin the sauce.
Taste for salt.

October 17, 2012

Charred Corn+Chicken+Tortilla Soup

I've been eating (drinking!?) a lot of soup recently. When the cold Autumn weather sets in, a warming bowl of soup is so comforting. On a cold blustery night, I love coming home from college and sitting at the kitchen table with my hands wrapped around a warm bowl or cup of steaming soup. I wish I made soup more. It is soooo easy to make and super cheap. Sounds like the perfect food!
This tortilla soup is a spiced broth packed with chunks of yummyness- soft shredded chicken, crisp charred corn, squidgy black beans and crispy homemade tortilla chips. It really is possibly the nicest soup I've ever had. I also love the colours in this soup. As well as tasting amazing it looks beautiful-we do eat with our eyes!

You see, I love Mexican food, but sometimes I find it too heavy. Enter this soup. It has all the Mexican flavours-spice, sour, earthiness. Everything associated with Mexican food -avocado, chilli, cumin, red onion, cheese, black beans, tortillas, limes- is either in or on this soup. It really works wonders on the body. Feeling achy-make this soup. Feeling tired-make this soup. Feeling hungover-make this soup. Feeling bloated-make this soup. Feeling perfectly fine-make this soup. So....I think the message I'm trying to get across is pretty clear!! MAKE THIS SOUP!
The homemade tortilla chips that sit on top are beautiful angular croutons-very aesthetically pleasing and delish! They are fancy croutons!! 
Feeling chilling? Get this soup into ya!
Holly x

Remove the corn from the husk and place directly on a gas flame until it chars all over. If you don't have a gas burner, put the corn under the grill-works a charm!

Roughly dice the onion, chilli and celery. This is the base to our yummy soup. It gets sautéed in a little butter and oil until the onions are soft and translucent.

Then, add the chilli flakes, cumin, stock, tomatoes and coriander stalks and simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes add the chicken and poach for 15-20 minutes. 

Remove the chicken and shred it into big chunks. Add it back to the soup with the charred corn, black beans, Tabasco, Worcester sauce and lime juice. 
Simmer for 5 minutes.

To make the the tortillas: take some wheat/corn tortillas and cut into small wedges.

Heat approx 400ml/2 inches of sunflower or vegetable oil in a pan and fry the tortillas, turning once, until  golden and crispy.

Remove from the hot oil, place in kitchen paper and sprinkle generously with salt. 

Recipe, Serves 6
1 Large Onion
4 Celery Sticks
1-2 Red Chillies (depending on how hot they are)
1/2 Teaspoon Dried Chilli Flakes
3/4 Teaspoon Ground Cumin
1.5 Litre Chicken Stock
1x400g Tin Chopped Tomatoes + 1 Tin Water
5 Chicken Breast
1x400g Tin Black Beans
2 Ears Fresh Corn or 400g Tin Corn
4 Tablespoons Worcester Sauce
2-6 Dashes Tabasco
1 Bunch Coriander, stalks only
25g Butter
Olive Oil

Remove the corn from the green husk and char the kernels by placing them directly on a naked flame or under the grill.
Using a sharp knife, remove the corn from the cob.
Medium dice the onion, celery and chilli. 
Heat the oil and butter  over a medium heat until the butter is foamy.
Add the onion, celery and red chilli and cook for 5-10 minutes until the onions are soft and translucent. 
Add the chilli flakes and ground cumin, cook for 2 minutes.
Pour in the stock and tinned tomatoes, bring just to the boil.
Add in the chicken fillets and coriander stalks, reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked, 15-20 minutes.
Remove the chicken and shred.
Reboil the liquid for 1 minute.
Add in the shredded chicken, charred corn, black beans, 2 dashes of Tabasco and Worcester sauce.
Simmer the soup for 5-10 minutes.
Taste for seasoning and spice- add more Tabasco if needed.
Squeeze in the juice of 1 lime and serve the soup piled high with homemade tortilla chips and other fun toppings.

Homemade Tortilla Chips
4 Tortilla Wraps
Approx 400ml Vegetable Oil

Cut the wraps into wedges. You should get 16 wedges from each wrap.
Heat the vegetable oil until it is shimmering.
Carefully drop in once tortilla wedge, if the oil sizzles the temperature is correct.
Cook the tortillas in batches-don't over crowd the pan-until golden and crispy.
Remove from the hot oil onto kitchen paper and sprinkle generously with salt.
A cornucopia of toppings!
Coriander leaves, sour cream, guacamole, cherry tomatoes, red onion, feta cheese. 

October 08, 2012

Chantilly Éclairs with Salted Caramel Chocolate Glaze

I sometimes get nervous. Like, when I tweet/instagram telling you guys what I'm making for my blog but then two seconds later freak out and think-what if this recipe doesn't work? What if I have a culinary disaster? This thought occured to me today but luckily, everything went smoothly!
Choux pastry is a smooth, glossy, silky dough used for both éclairs and profiteroles. It relies on steam rather than a raising agent to make it rise. It is rich and delicious. It does take a little care to make but the greatest things in life need love and care. Oh baby, am I giving these éclairs a lot of love and care. 
I've got a few helpful hints for you when baking éclairs,  as pastry is a science:
  1. Weigh everything accurately, even the water.
  2. Allow the dough to cool before adding the eggs-you don't want scrambled eggs in your  pastry.
  3. Bake the éclairs for as long as the recipe specifies. You need to cook them until they are crisp as you will be filling and glazing them. They will be a deep golden-brown colour-don'worry, you need them like this. If you take them out before their time is up-they will be soggy and collapse. 
  4. Have fun and have faith in yourself, you can do this and when you do, deliciousness is at the other end!

I'm filling these éclairs with chantilly-cream that has been whipped with vanilla seeds and icing sugar-and I am glazing them with a salted caramel chocolate glaze. See, I told you I was showing them a lot of love! We've come this far with our éclairs, we may as well go a little OTT!  
Piping the éclairs into 1 inch x 5 inch rectangles means that you have an éclair that fits perfectly into your hand. What I mean to say is that, they are the perfect size so that you can eat two and not feel bad! 
I will insist on thing: you get good and messy when eating these!
Holly, x

Melt butter, water, sugar and salt in a pot. Add the flour and beat until a dough forms that comes away from the side of the pot. 
Your guns (arms) will get a good work out!

Add the eggs to the cooled dough, one at a time, beating well. The dough will look as if it is not taking the eggs-just keep beating!! 
Pipe onto baking trays and bake. They really are beautiful once cooked.

As the éclairs are cooling, push the back of a spoon into them all the way to the end to create a tunnel for the chantilly!

Making the salted caramel chocolate glaze is easy-don't be put off! Cook the sugar and water to a dark, golden colour, remove from heat, whisk in cream, chocolate, butter and salt. 
See, caramel doesn't have to be scary!

Recipe, Makes 20. 
Adapted from Hungry Girl Por Vida

Choux Pastry
250g Cold Water
150g Unsalted Butter
2 Teaspoon Caster Sugar
Pinch Salt
155g Plain Flour, sieved
4 Eggs

Preheat oven to 190°C and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cut the butter into small cubes.
Place the water, butter, salt and sugar into a medium sized pot.
Place over a medium heat until the butter is melted-DO NOT let the water boil.
Remove from the heat and add in the flour.
Beat the flour and melted butter/water together vigorously until the dough comes away from the side of the pot.
Allow to cool for 2 minutes.
Break the four eggs into a bowl and beat with a fork.
Begin beating the dough in the pot as you pour one egg in at a time until the mixture is smooth and silky. 
Make sure you add in the egg in four parts-it will appear that the eggs are not mixing in but keep beating you will eventually have a smooth, glossy dough.
Scoop the choux pastry into a piping bag fit with a 1 inch nozzle. If you don't have a piping bag-scoop the dough into the corner of a large freezer bag and snip off the corner.
Pipe the mixture onto lined baking sheets in 1 inch x 4-5 inch rectangles-1 inch apart.
Place in the preheated oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Turn off the oven and leave them in the hot oven for a further 5 minutes before removing and cooling on a wire rack. 
Use the back of a spoon and slide it into the rectangular éclair making a tunnel for the cream.
Allow the éclairs to cool completely before filling with chantilly cream and glazing. 
Chantilly Cream
500g Cream
1 Vanilla Pod, seeds scraped out or 2 Teaspoons Vanilla Extract
2 Tablespoons Icing Sugar
Whip everything together in a bowl until stiff-do not over whip. 
Place in a piping back/freezer bag and snip of a small piece of the corner.
Shove the tip of the piping bag into the éclair where you have made the tunnel and pipe with cream.
Alternatively, you can cut the éclair in half lengthways and spoon on the cream.

Salted Caramel Chocolate Glaze
100g Granulated Sugar
60ml Cold Water
25g Unsalted Butter
100g Good Quality Dark Chocolate, chopped
125ml Double Cream
Generous Pinch of Salt
In a small saucepan heat the water and sugar until the sugar is dissolved-do not stir, only swirl the pan.If you stir, the sugar will crystallise-bad times.
Cook the sugar and water to a dark, golden colour.
Remove from heat, holding the handle with a tea towel wrapped hand, add the cream.
Whisk until smooth-be careful this will bubble and splutter. 
Add the chocolate and stir to melt it.
Stir in the butter-this gives the glaze a mirror like sheen and makes it fudgy-dreamy.
Add a generous pinch of salt.
Use warm.
Keeps in the fridge for up to 1 week in a lunch box. Melt in the microwave on 30 second blasts. (Amazing with vanilla ice-cream!)

Dip the chantilly filled éclairs into the glaze or spoon/spread it on. Just do it quickly so you can eat one already!!

October 06, 2012

Brown Butter Biscuits

Brown butter biscuits, hello my new friend. My new best friend that is. Let me tell you-we will all be best friends real soon. Hey look, soon is the new now-yay! 

Ok, let's talk about these biscuits. The shining star is the brown butter in them. Brown butter you may ask, what the hell is brown butter? Brown butter: butter that has been melted and cooked to a fantastic nutty brown colour. Not only does the butter change colour from golden yellow to nutty brown, it changes in aroma too. It gives off an intense nutty almost maple smell and flavour. Possibly one of the best things in the world-for reals. 

The recipe makes about 30 biscuits, 10 biscuits per person if there are 3 in your household or 5 if there are 6 people. This is biscuit math-justification for how many biscuits you need to bake in order to have enough to eat. It really feel that this is an essential part of baking. 

If you feel like 30 biscuits is too much (I hope you don't) the biscuit dough can be wrapped and kept in the fridge or frozen. 

Beware they spread slightly when baking-relax, you're doing it right. Just make sure you leave enough space between them on the baking sheet. 

They are quite delish eaten with a nectarine. 


Holly, x

P.s. After all my biscuit math I was a little tired. So, photographs for this blog post were taken with an iPhone-nice and easy! 

Begin by melting and cooking the butter until it turns a warm nutty brown colour.  

Did I mention there's only 6 ingredients in this recipe?! Butter, dark brown sugar, flour, salt, vanilla and an egg. 

Simple, simple, simple.

Beat the firmed up brown butter and dark brown sugar together until light and fluffy.

Add the flour and vanilla and beat on a low speed until the mixture resembles rubble.

Add an egg and beat into a biscuit dough.

Place the biscuit dough onto a sheet of parchment paper and shape into a 12 inch log...

...wrap up and place in the fridge to firm up for 1 hour.

After an hour remove from the fridge and cut in half.

Roll in demerara sugar and...

...cut into 1/2 circles.

You can re-wrap the biscuit dough and keep it in the fridge for 1 week or freeze for 1 month. 

That's if you don't want 30 nutty brown butter biscuits in your kitchen!

Recipe adapted from Shuterbean, makes 30 biscuits

225g Unsalted Butter
100g Dark Brown Sugar
200g Plain Sugar
1 Egg
1 Teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Generous Pinch of Salt
2 Tablespoons Demerara Sugar

Cut the butter into 5 pieces and place in a pot.
Place over a medium heat and melt, stirring regularly.
Once melted, cook the butter for a further 5-7 minutes until it turns from being foamy white to foamy brown.
Allow to firm up for 1 hour in the fridge. 
Place the sugar and nutty brown butter in a bowl.
Whisk with an electric beater until fluffy and well combined.
Add the flour and vanilla extract.
Beat on a low speed until the mixture resembles rubble.
Crack in the egg and  beat until the biscuit dough just comes together. 
Make a 12 inch log from the biscuit dough and place on parchment paper.
Wrap up the dough and place in the fridge to firm up for 1 hour.
Preheat an oven to 180°C and line two baking sheets with parchment .
Remove the biscuit log from the fridge and cut in half.
Roll the logs in demerara sugar and cut into 1/2 inch circles.
Place on the lined baking tray 1 inch apart and bake for 10 minutes-the biscuits will spread.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 3 minutes.
Transfer carefully to a cooling rack.

Note: The biscuit dough will keep for 1 week in the fridge and 1 month is the freezer. 

October 01, 2012

Plum Crumble

There were 12 plums sitting in the fruit bowl at home. I had two options:

  1. Leave them there to be eaten with lunches during the week.

     2.  Take them all and make a sweet, syrupy, buttery crumble.

I felt like it was my duty to chose option 2. The plums were a little hard, so, I thought they would be best marinated in sugar and lemon juice before being topped with buttery crumble. It's what they would have wanted!

I'm a huge fan of crumbles. In my eyes they are the perfect dessert. They are simple to make and take no time to cook-that is why I love them. The combination of syrupy baked fruit hiding under a blanket of buttery crumble is to. die. for. So warming and satisfying! 

I like the fruit in my crumble to be soft. I like a generous layer of crumble. I like it warm with ice-cream. I hate when I realise I only have one spoonful left!!  

Picture this: a warm plum crumble slightly cooled from the oven, topped with a scoop of ice cold ice-cream so that it begins to slightly melt and mix with the red juices from the plums making an almost pink like custard in the bottom of your crumble. 

It really is the simple things in life eh?!


Holly, x

Wash and half the plums.Remove the stone in the centre and...

...slice each plum half into 5-6 pieces and place in a bowl.

Sprinkle with the caster sugar and lemon juice. Set aside to marinate as you make the crumble topping.

Place all the crumble ingredients into a bowl and crumble together with your fingertips.

Crumble assembly! Either use 5 small pyrex dishes or one medium sized dish.

Add roughly 2 chopped plums to each dish (150g-200g) and with what's left over divide it around. 

Sprinkle liberally with the crumble topping. You may have some left over-freeze it! Bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes or until golden, crispy and bubbly!

Recipe, makes 5 individual crumbles or one large.

12 Slightly Under-ripe Plums (ping pong sized) or 8 Regular Plums
75g Caster Sugar
1/3 Lemon, juiced

Crumble Topping

250g Plain Flour
175g Unsalted Butter, cubed
50g Caster Sugar
30g Rolled Porridge Oats

Preheat oven to 180°C. 
Halve each plum, remove the stone and slice each half into 5-6 pieces.
Place in a bowl and sprinkle with the caster sugar and lemon juice. Set aside.
Place all the crumble ingredients into a bowl.
With fingertips, rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter is the size of peas.
Fill 5 pyrex or 1 medium baking dish with the plums.
Generously top with the crumble mix and bake at 180°C for 20-25 minutes.
The crumbles should be golden and bubbling.
Remove from oven-they will be roasting.
Allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving with cream/ice-cream.....or both!