The Zingy Lemon Curd Cake

Ready to Nom Lemon Curd Cake

350g self raising flour

3 level teaspoons of baking powder (this is my trick, you really want a bouncy fluffy sponge!)

350g butter, at room temperature, unsalted

350g caster sugar

6 eggs

rind of 2 lemons

juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon (depending on how zingy you like it)

Get the sponges on, this is quick and easy. Grab a hand held whisk or a food processor and through all the above into a bowl and mix together. If you want to be fancy, sieve the flour first (but for some reason self raising flour is the poofiest thing and just flies everywhere, so I avoid that where possible). You’ll end up with a lovely consistent cake batter, which you should split equally between two 20cm cake spring form tins, lined with greaseproof paper at the bottom.

Bake for 40 minutes at 175 degrees celcius (335 degrees fahrenheit). They’ll be ready when golden brown, when a skewer comes out clean and when it bounces back on light pressing. Cool for a couple minutes and turn out on to a wire rack. Allow to cool fully.

Sponges Cooling

300g caster sugar

zest of 4 lemons

juice of 4 lemons

8 eggs

200g butter, unsalted

While the cake cooks, make the lemon curd. In one bowl (one that fits nicely over a pot of water) pop the sugar and lemon zest. In another bowl beat the eggs and add the lemon juice. Mix into the first bowl with the sugar and place the unsalted butter in little bits into the bowel. Heat the pot of water, with the bowl on top. Stir at intervals, allowing the sugar to dissolve and the butter to melt. This might take up to 30 minutes, but you’ll get a lovely thick lemon curd at the end of it. I always make more than I need. It’s the best on a slice of toast in the morning!

Wait for the curd to cool a little. Go back to your now cooled cakes.

Curd Delicious

With a wonderfully sharp knife, a steady hand and a good eye – cut each cake horizontally into two, to double the layers of the cake. Place the bottom layer on a cake stand or plate and spoon a big dollop, around a cup of the curd in the middle of the bottom layer. Spread outwards, add the second layer and add curd again. Repeat with the third layer. Finally, add the top layer, ensuring that the gold brown side of the cake is on top.

Dollop that curd

Half way there with the layringFinished layering

With the juice of half a lemon and 50-100g of icing sugar (go for a consistency you like, we like a thin runny icing on the top), make your icing and pour into the middle of the top layer of the cake. Smooth outwards trying to cover everything. With the rind of 1-2 lemons decorate the top. For the occasion I used some lime zest too!

Extra Curd Saved for Breakfast

Slice and serve. Moist, tangy, sweet, nommy. (Is moist even allowed to be used anymore? Totally un-food related.)

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An Unbelievable 50th Feast

Ever wanted a birthday menu. This is what whipped together for our parents joint Birthday celebrations. All home made by the children. We were a little too busy cooking for 35 people to take photos, but the menu is better than nothing!

Champagne Aperitif

Taitinger

Starter

A hot spicy crabby ginger tart with salad garnish and a chili dressing

White Wine

 Sophie Bertin Sancerre 2011

Main

Ballyhaunis, Co. Mayo, Ireland Sirloin Beef

with Roast potatoes, Salsa Verde and a Rosemary Jus

Red Wine 

Ch. Puygueraud 2005 Bordeaux cotes de Francs  (3L bottle=Jeroboam)

Ch. Latour-Martillac 1999 Pessac-Leognan Gand cru classe de Graves (1.5L bottle=Magnum)

Torbeck 2009 Barossa Valley Grenache-Shiray-Mourverdre

Villa Novare 2009 Valpolicella Classico Superiore Ripasso

Dessert

Lemon Drizzle Cake or Chocolate and Hazelnut Torte

or Both! served with Berries and Creme Fraiche

Dessert Wine

Chateau de Rolland 1989 Barsac

Cheese

A large selection of Irish, French and Swiss cheeses served with rye crackers with linseed.

Port 

A bottle of Dow’s 1963 Port (from the year of Mom and Dad’s birth) and a bottle of Taylor’s 1977 Port (supposedly the best vintage for port of the entire 20th century)

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Absolutely Nutty Not-Just-Pecan Pie

Nommy Nutty Mix

This is absolutely delicious. It genuinely very quick to make. Took the filling from Nigella, but did not like the dough she used, so I whipped up a batch a la Delia Smith – the Quick Flaky Pastry (we basically use this as a standard in pastry in our house).

So whip up a batch of that by grating 110g butter (which I pop into the freezer before hand) into 175g of plain flour. Once grated use a metal spoon to stir all the grated butter into the flour, ensuring all little bits are covered. Then add a small amount of cold water and using your hands, but minimising your touching of the dough, bind it together. Adding a little more cold water if needed. Once its a consistent ball of pastry, wrap in cling film and through it in the fridge for at least 30-45mins.

Take the pastry out and roll it to 5mm thick to fill a 25cm flan dish. Press it into the sides and cut off excess pastry, but leaving a little above the rim. Pop the flan dish into the freezer (I had to find space for it, but managed) for 20 minutes, while you make the filling. (Pop it in the fridge if you can’t fit it in a freezer).

To get the filling together; start with a pot or saucepan and let 200g of light brown sugar, 150g unsalted butter and 4 large tablespoons of golden syrup (I only use Lyle’s Golden Syrup, but I believe corn syrup, maple syrup or molasses could do the trick too). Once melted, stir together, although the butter tends to separate, don’t worry about that. Add a teaspoon of vanilla essence, stir again and pull off the heat and leave for ten minutes to cool. Whisk 3 eggs in a bowl and leave ready for after.

Golden syrup, butter, brown sugar

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius (or 350 fahrenheit). In the mean time grab the flan dish from the freezer and check that its nice and cold. The freezing protects the shape of the pastry once it gets into the hot oven, so it’s important its crisp and cold.

Grab at least 350g of mixed nuts (they have to be unsalted and ideally with no additives in them). If you want feel free to use only pecans, but its handy to use all the half packs of almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans etc. I do love an odd brazil nut in here too or a cashew, so be daring. It is delicious after all. Arrange them nicely in the flan dish.

Nutty Mix Arranged in Frozen Pastry Flan Case

Pop back over to the now slightly cooled filling mix and with your whisk, mix in the beaten eggs, until its a lovely thick caramel-like nom.

Syrupy Mix and Eggs Ready to Go

Pour gently over the nuts into the pastry case. Pop into the now heated oven for at least 40 minutes or until the the filling has set.

Pre Baked Nom

Let it cool a little. Serve with a dash of lightly whipped cream.

Post Baked Nom - The Not-Just-Pecan Pie

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A Mixed Berry Pie

Somehow, you always end up with some kind of fruit just about to turn, nobody wants to eat it and you need to find something to make out of it. I whipped up a simple batch of Delia’s Quick Flaky Pastry and popped it in the fridge to cool.

I grabbed about 4 old apples, 250g of blueberries and 125g of blackberries from the fridge and heated them up in a saucepan with a tablespoon of brown demerara sugar (it really doesn’t need the sugar, but its nice to caramelize it all a little). Although the mixture to cool a little.

I then popped in 300g of raspberries and just gently stirred them in. I prefer not to cook the raspberries as they are so delicate they just turn into seedy mush (I worry less about the black and blue berries). Its nice to stumble across a whole raspberry!

Line a flan dish with the pastry, rolled to about 5mm thick, stab some little holes in the bottom to let some air out and blind bake it for 10 minutes.Fill the pastry case with the fruit filling.

Practicing the Weaving

I had a little pastry spare to make a weave for the top. Brush the weave with milk and sprinkle a little sugar on it too.

Mastering the Weaving

Bang into a preheated oven (180 degrees celcius, 350 fahrenheit) and leave for 30 minutes or so, until the edges of the pastry are golden brown!

Ready to Bake Berry Pie

Serve hot, with some cream or custard.

Ready to Nom Berry Pie

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The most delicious and easiest Cranberry Sauce

Doing a normal shop in Tesco, I saw a load of cranberries that were reduced after Christmas. The best accompaniment to chicken or turkey, all year round is Cranberry sauce!

This is a super easy one I made, its delicious and quick and we bottle it and keep it for the year. There is nothing like homemade cranberry sauce.

Ready to Bottle Nom

Double, triple or quadruple this recipe depending on how much cranberry you have:

350g fresh cranberries

1 cup of sugar

1 tablespoon of Kirsch Wasser

1 tablespoons of Port

2 tablespoons of Water

Throw everything into a pot and cook until cranberries are soft. They are absolutely chocked full of pectin, so it’ll be a very jellified sauce, but break the berries open as they cook and mix well, cooking off the alcohol. While the sauce looks runny, it’ll solidify a lot once cooled, so don’t over cook it just because it appears watery.

Cooking off the Kirsch and Port

Heat bottles in the oven. Bottle, serve with Christmas dinner or eat with a turkey sandwich!

Bottle Cranberry Sauce

Nom nom nom!

Turkey Sandwich

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Post-Christmas Left Over Turkey Curry Nom

Om Nom Nom

Everyone has turkey left over and doesn’t always know what to do with it and there’s only so many turkey sandwiches one can eat (apparently?). This curry is pretty easy and quick to whip up.

Onion, Chili, Fenugreek, Mustard Seeds.

Grab a tablespoon of mustard seeds and heat them in a large pot or casserole dish with a couple of glugs of vegetable oil until the seeds start popping. Throw in two chopped chilis and a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds and 1-2 chunks of fresh ginger (I grate it, but chopped is fine too). Stir quickly, don’t let the spices burn and then throw 3 chopped red onions on top.

Add the Ginger

Let  this cook until the onions are wonderfully golden and softened. 

Soften

Then add a teaspoon of chili powder and a teaspoon of tumeric. The colour change of the onions is noticeble, as the tumeric starts staining everything a lovely yellow.

Spice

Then a tin of chopped tomatoes (or blitz a can of whole plum tomatoes) is added to the pot and two glasses of water.

Add Tomatoe and Water

Whack 400ml of full fat coconut milk in (if you use reduced fat coconut milk, it looks as if its split, although its still edible!). Add a teaspoon of rock salt to season. I added a handful or two of chopped coriander at this point. 

Coconut Milk

Add Fresh Coriander

This is the perfect base sauce for a curry and anything can be added to it at this point, fish, chicken.. turkey!

Ready for Meat, Veg or Fish

Chop the turkey (600g) up into small strips and bit size chunks, this is great because you can use all the bits of the turkey that people don’t like using on their post-christmas turkey sandwiches.  In a pan heat a tablespoon of lightly crushed coriander seeds and toss the turkey in it.

Post-Christmas Turkey Left Overs Hot Coriander Seeds

Then add the turkey to the sauce and simmer for 15 minutes until the turkey is soft and has soaked up the colour and spice from curry. Serve with rice for post-christmas noms (or just annual noms). 

Turkey

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White Chocolate and Fresh Cranberry Muffins

White Chocolate and Cranberry Muffins

I was making a HUGE batch for a party, so adapt to suit yourselves. I also add A LOT of cranberries and white chocolate. The smoothness of the chocolate is wonderfully balanced by the fresh tartness of the cranberries. Nom!

Ready to go!

300g butter

6 eggs

vanilla bean paste

2 cups of brown sugar

3 cups of selfraising flour

600g fresh cranberries

400g white chocolate, chopped

Mix the soft butter (unsalted preferably) in with the sugar until light and fluffy and then mix in the beaten egg, the vanilla bean paste. Sieve the flour into the mixture and stir until its well combined, it should be a loose but pastey consistency.

I heated my cranberries to soften them a tiny tiny bit, but don’t cook them or the skin will go soggy. (Your muffins will just be pink muffins with white chocolate in them, rather than plain muffins with scatterings of chocolate and cranberries!). Once lightly heated, spoon your cranberries (avoiding any juices at the bottom of the pot!) into your mixture and fold them gently into the muffin mix. Add the white chocolate pieces and similarly fold them in.

Mix mix mix, fold fold fold.

Spoon muffins in to cases and (ideally, which of course I forgot to do) bake them in a muffin/cupcake tin at 180 degrees for 35 minutes, or until golden all round.

Silly me!

Silly me!

Delicious!

Cranberries and White Chocolate Chunks

Cranberries and White Chocolate Chunks

I have also made amazing white chocolate and cranberry oat cookies which go down super well too! But sadly I forgot to take pictures during the process, I have found a similar recipe by Nigella, but mine are much much oatier!

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The Pig Spit

My parents celebrated their 50th birthdays with a summer garden party – with a pig on a spit. Just thought I’d share. It was slow roasted for 14 hours and was definitely quite the centre piece at the party. Everyone got a nice chunk of pork and a bit of crackling if they wanted as well!

Babe Pig on the Spit

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The Simple Salad

I find during the summer (and I suppose generally throughout the year) that there is nothing like a well made salad – I have a problem with ready made to eat packets of salads as they never taste fresh and tend to spoil very quickly. We always have loads of veg in the fridge so a good selection is key to the makings of a great salad.

Onion – I love spring onions in a salad. Some people don’t but I think they add too it.

Nothing like a Spring Onion in your salad

Peppers – are an essential to my salads, again some people don’t like them and people often like to say its not good for their gut, but I don’t buy it. The yellow, orange and red ones are sweet, while the ominous green ones are quite bitter. If you really have a problem with the green ones in a salad, keep them for ratatouille or soup.

Bulkers – fibre is great and there is nothing like those funny veg that many people complain about. I LOVE LOVE LOVE celery, although most in my family complain about it being tasteless, like cucumber. I don’t believe a word of it! Celery has this fresh crunch, that adds great texture to a salad and cucumber while also fresh has a softer more moist crunch to it. So they may be bulkers, but they are great! And don’t underestimate the importance of the fibre!

Peppers, Celery, Cucumber

Tomatoes – I like having a nice selection of tomatoes, the normal round little red ones (moneymaker), those wonderful tiny plum tomatoes and I have a bit of a thing for the little yellow tomatoes, which are hard to find, but add some nice colour to any salad!

Tomatoe Selection

Lettuce – the key to any salad is the lettuce; we often have a selection handy. Good ol’ iceberg lettuce and round lettuce  are the standards. I have an obsession with lamb’s lettuce since I was a kid <- so it always goes in, as does rocket which has a lovely peppery taste to it. Romaine or cos is that nice crunchy one that caesar salad’s always use. Chicory is one of my absolute favourites and those brown leaf ones are always in our salads because mom insists.

Lettuce Galore

I’m on a low carb diet at the moment – which means I have to cut down on the high carbohydrate veg, like carrots, parnsips, turnips, celeriac, peas etc. What I’d normally do though is add a cup of corn to a salad and a couple handfuls of grated carrot.

Delicious.

Om Nom Mixed Salad

Don’t forget a dressing, 2/5 balsamic vinegar, 3/5 olive oil, salt, pepper and a tablespoon of a mustard of your choice. Bottle, shake, serve.

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Watermelon and Mint Sorbet – A Blast of Fresh Zing

It’s summer time and mom decided to buy the biggest watermelon I’ve ever seen. The family made an attempt to eat through it but just couldn’t, so we had a lot of spare watermelon in the fridge – it would have been a shame to let it go to waste. So I decided to learn something new and make sorbet. Its a bit of a funny one to make, because there is just nothing worse than a really icy sorbet that doesn’t roll well in the mouth, so I was a little worried.

I made four times what I have in the recipe, because I was working with a huge amount of watermelon, but I’ve left it at the normal amounts here and feel free to just adapt based on what you have available to you.

375mL water

250g sugar

600g-800g watermelon

4 leaves of mint

100mL lemon juice

Watermelon ready to go!

First job is to de-seed the watermelon, which is a pain, but necessary.

De-seed the WatermelonChunks of Watermelon

Then blend the chunks of watermelon in a food processor.

Blend the Watermelon

Drain watermelon through sieve lined with muslin cloth

Grab a sieve and line the sieve with a muslin cloth. Filter off any missed seeds and pulp left over from the fruit. You end up with a deep red juice. Nom.

Get sugar, lemon juice and water and heat until sugar is dissolved. I added a couple of mint leaves tied in a muslin bag to give some extra flavour. When sugar is dissolved, remove bag of mint and leave to cool.

Syrup of Lemon Juice, Sugar and Water

Mint Leaves wrapped in a muslin cloth bag

Once syrup is cooled, mix in the watermelon juice.

Chilled, Mixed and ready to be frozen!

Place in an ice cream machine and use according to standard guidelines for your machine. We have one of the basic Gaggia ones.

Pop in Ice Cream Machine until smooth and frozen

Store in air tight tupperware container and serve however you see fit!

Voila! Finished watermelon sorbet!

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