Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Rachel's Rustic Bacon & Cheddar Bread

This evening I was at my brother's Leaving Cert Graduation Mass and in the car home, reflecting on the lovely encouraging words of his principal, I got The Fear. For many, that Fear might be when you think you're at death's door from a hangover, but it also works for that sense of complete dread and bewilderment you might get regarding what the hell you're going to do with your life. As well as the immediate future. So when I got in the door, I decided I'd bake. Obviously.
I took out Rachel Allen's Bake book (at this rate I imitate that movie Julie & Julia and see if I can make all of Rachel's recipes) and decided I'd try some bread. Since I don't have yeast or buttermilk in the house, I was quite limited, so I tried the bacon and cheddar bread. Oh my wow it's yummy. And stupidly easy to make. It sounds strange, having bacon and cheese in bread, rather than on it, but it's soooo good. It says it's a good served with soup or just with butter, so I dished it out with a bit of butter to my parents with some tea and coffee when it was ready and joined them in sitting back and watching some girl try and make her dream of creating a B&B a reality on More4. The Fear had subsided. But only slightly.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Burgers for this amazing summer weather!

Technically this isn't like the rest of my posts, but there is a bit of baking involved! Plus they were so yummy it'd be silly not to put them up! This weekend the weather was just beautiful- everyone had their pasty white skin out on show, hoping to take the glare off it with some color. Well I know that was my intention today anyway! I made burgers yesterday for the family, my uncle and my little cousins who were up for the weekend. I used our loved Jamie Oliver recipe for the burgers from his book The Return of the Naked Chef. Then Mom made her potato salad and we all tucked in. Jamie says to bake the burgers, but I find if you quickly fry them for a few minutes, until they're about half cooked, then cover them in foil on a baking tray, it stops them crumbling. Put the oven to 200 degrees C and bake for about 15 minutes to finish them off. Here's a link to the recipe someone else posted online. Maybe I'm just lazy, but I don't add the cumin or coriander seeds, though I do add a sprinkling of mixed herbs. I highly recommend these! They're incredibly simple and sooo tasty:)
Jamie's Botham Burgers

Trying out my new baking equipment!

I also baked butter cookies the other day for a tea day we were having with Marion (before she left for France) in Cat's which has become my second home! I used the new cookie cutters the girls got me in my bag of goodies last week, so we had cookies shaped like cars, hands, snails, camels and stars! I also made jam sandwich ones with some chocolate which always go down well:) These cookies are just so yummy I'm going to put up the recipe; it's from a cookbook I got from my old school in NY and it's the one I always use for butter cookies- it's foolproof:)

1/4 lb. margarine
1 1/2 cup plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 cup sugar
1 egg

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees C. Cream the marg and sugar together, then add the egg. Add in the dry ingredients and blend. Then add about 2 tablespoons of water and scrunch all together with your hands. Turn onto a well floured surface, roll out and cut. Place on a baking tray with grease proof paper and bake for 10 minutes.
Result: soft, fabulous cookies:)

Another (but slightly different) coffee cake

Early last week I was going to a BBQ birthday party with Conor, hosted by the dears Natalie & Brid who are the darlings behind the Two Knit Wits blog (link over there-> ) and I thought I'd bake for them, of course. However, I tried a new coffee cake recipe and while it looks okay, I'm not sure about the coffee topping! I don't recommend trying a new cake the night before you give it to someone...the nerves if you aren't really happy with it!:S The topping is a chocolate/coffee thing? I think I added too much coffee and maybe that's why I'm not fond of the taste, but I hope the girls liked it! The cake is quite nice with raisins and chopped walnuts in it which the other coffee cake didn't have, though I think I'll add them in future and use the Rachel Allen coffee cream. They both told me they like coffee cake and Brid hugged me when she saw the walnuts on top, so I'm hoping it went down well!:)
BTW- the BBQ party was spectacular <3

Saturday, May 15, 2010

I have no words.

I actually don't. Language is ineffective a lot of the time, I find.

On Tuesday we had summer farewell drinks in Bakers as a class with some of our super cool lecturers. The girls had been acting suspiciously for a few days and were telling me they knew something I didn't... I found out in Bakers that this little thing was that for weeks Griffin had been orchestrating a round up to get me presents for being rep for the past four years! They presented me with a bag of what can only be described as amazingness. There was baking stuff, wall stickers, a beautiful notebook, a super cool clip that's a little hat, a fabulous scarf, earrings, a purse, then a voucher for MAC in Brown Thomas. Like, woah. And yes, I cried just like they thought I would. Lisa drew a card for me too which is beyond fantastic and the class wrote lovely little notes for me and it's now on my mantlepiece here at home. They also got Dave gifts for being my partner in crime. See- sheer amazingness.

Then on Friday I met Laura for tea who gave me even more presents, this time from my 3rd year palaroos. This included tea, chocolate, a notebook, a cupcake apron, and then the most beautiful scrapbook started by Laura and with many pages left for me to fill. I adore it.
I just had to post this because I'm just gobsmacked by it all. I really do have the most wonderful people in my life.
And THEN, last night I got an email from the Snow Patrol mailing list that Gary Lightbody's side project has an album coming out July 12th.
Oh yes.
Here's a taster for Tired Pony. I'm stupidly excited. The happiness just keeps growing!
Tired Pony- I Finally Love This Town

Yum for the O'Mahonys

Due to all the funness that happened this week, I was staying a few nights at the wonderful O'Mahony residence with my darling Cat:) I thought I'd bake for them, but having used nearly all the sugar in the house, I was severely limited late on Monday night. I decided I'd make scones as I haven't made them since school I think it is, and got the recipe (scones are so basic though, the recipe is pretty much the same everywhere) in a cookbook Mom got on the cheap called Grandma's Best Recipes. It was a plain recipe, so I added raisins (it suggested 50g of dried fruit, but that equals about three raisins per scone, so I gave a good shake of the bag into the mix) and cinnamon for extra yumminess. They turned out quite lovely, but I need to get a pastry brush so I can brush the tops of them pre-baking and also add more cinnamon. But all in all, they were a hit:) Next time though, it's a coffee cake for them. They deserve it.

Cawfee Cake

Oops, it's been a while! I'll blame it on the fun I've been having since wrapping up college! Ooooh! Scary times. But thrilling at the same time. Madame Zwerner was over here last Saturday for a little Cavan trip before she heads back to France. She wanted to bake which I of course agreed to, so being the little French gal that she is with her coffee and smokes, I thought a coffee cake would be fitting! I spell it 'cawfee' above because of my Mom's pronunciation...
Anyway, so we made a delicious coffee cake from Rachel Allen's Bake book which has been providing me with loads to do lately! The cake was just fabulous and really moist, which is what I think is due to the egg being separated and added at different times in the cake mixing... I didn't make it too strong with the coffee cos I don't really like it, but by golly did this cake taste wonderful. We topped it off with some coffee buttercream, chocolate sprinkles and a sprinkling of icing sugar. Mmm:)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Oatmeal and Raisin Cookies

Today I had a tea party with the Donegal lassies, Molly, Aoife and Anne as well as Siobhan and Sarah K and so last night I baked some oatmeal and raisin cookies for them from Rachel Allen's Bake. They looked all scrumptious on the tray, and following her instructions, I didn't line the tray. If you're doing similar, please line your tray. I always do since the Birthday Cake Tragedy of '09 (see earlier post) but Rachel told me not to, so I listened. They crumbled and broke when I tried to take them off, but luckily I hadn't put all the cookies on the one tray, so I was okay. They went down a treat as did Siobhan's mommy Joan's Swiss Roll sans cream as Siobhan doesn't like it...so it was a jam sponge roll:) I've still to try a roll, so maybe I'll get onto that soon! Here are some snaps from the day. And as you know, I love tea parties, and I love the girls, so it was definitely a lovely few hours well spent:)

Monday, May 3, 2010

Recipe for a superbly splendid Saturday morning!

Last weekend I took Saturday off work and was left with my first free Saturday morning in years. So I thought I'd make an event of it and make a yummy breakfast. The family were going to Galway and so Conor, Magnum and I were in the house all by our lonesome. I made some pancakes and bacon after a wonderous sleep-in and since our sleep-ins saw us get up quite late, we'd missed early morning cartoons and decided instead we'd watch a movie with a fancy breakfast scene. Since Matilda wouldn't work (she makes pancakes at the start) we decided on Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (they have a cool breakfast making machine) which reminded me of the greatness that is Dick van Dyke. What a man. So all in all, it was a great Saturday morning!

All you need to replicate this is:
1 dessert spoon of a sleep-in
2 lazy heads
1 characterful dog (preferably named after a moustached detective)
A minimum of 3 toppings (such as Nutella, lemon & sugar, maple syrup)
1 large, comfy couch
1 well worn and loved armchair
1 tea pot
A sprinkling of belly crunching laughs
-Throw them all in together and bon appetite!

Now if only I could find a Mon-Fri job, I could do these much more often... This Saturday however (yah for two in a row!), I'll be making them at Cat's in Bray if you would like to join us:)

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Guessing Game of Brownie Baking

Conor B said to me one day that he'd like to learn how to bake...I happen to lurve it, and he loves brownies, so we decided we'd bake them.
Win win.
I brought Jamie Oliver's recipe for them and arrived at his house, ready to bake up a storm. However, I discovered that his Mom has things like flour and baking powder in clear containers with no labels (she knows what's in them, but not I!) so we decided we'd have a guessing game of baking! I wasn't sure what flour we were using which was quite vital, but we guessed correctly! I also didn't put the temperature high enough, so they cooked slowly and turned out quite gooey, but everyone has enjoyed them! Builders and family alike! And we did. Had some tea and gooey brownies and it was super:)