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Magical Meringue

Preparation Time
30 minutes
Total Time
10 hours

A couple of weeks ago I left a wish on Gluttony for Beginner's blog post and as a result was visited by the magical, mystical Fairy Hobmother aka David from Appliances Online. The Fairy Hobmother has been floating around the blogosphere lately granting wishes left, right and centre.

I was kindly sent an Amazon voucher which I excitedly splurged on new cookbooks to keep me going while my own are packed away. I bought Michel Roux's three books on Pastry, Eggs and Sauces and Nigella Lawson's How To Eat.

The Roux books are beautiful and contain recipes from the simplest of egg dishes to the most complicated pastry creations. The Nigella book I've only skimmed so far but I've already got my on a couple of recipes to try out on the Beau and the rest of my family in the not too distant future.

The best part about the Fairy Hobmother visiting me though is that now you have the chance to be visited too! Leave a comment at the end of the post with a wish for the Fairy Hobmother and you too could have a sprinkling of fairy dust in your life.

To celebrate this I thought I would put up the recipe for that most fairy like of desserts, Pavlova, named for the Russian ballet dancer Anna Pavlova. This is Michel Roux's recipe taken from his Eggs book.

Ingredients

Egg Whites
4
Caster Sugar
125g
Icing Sugar
125g
Cream
250ml
Mixed Berries
400g

Other Requirements

Mixing bowl, weighing scales, baking sheet, parchment paper, spatula, whisk, sharp knife

Just a quick note that I have almost halved the amount of cream that M. Roux asks for, as I thought that 400ml of cream would be a little on the heavy side. I have also allowed you to pick your own berries. Personally, I used a mixture of raspberries, strawberries, blackberries and red currants, but you can use whatever you have on hand.

Preheat the oven to 150°C. Whisk the egg whites into soft peaks. I used an electric hand whisk but you can do it by hand with a balloon whisk or in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.

Measure out the caster sugar and gradually add to the egg whites, whisking all the time, until the egg whites are smooth, shiny and form stiff peaks.

Michel recommends that you whisk it for 10 mins after adding the caster sugar, but my mixer was in danger of overheating and dying so I only did it for 5 without any ill effects to the final product that I could detect.

Sieve in the icing sugar to the egg white mix and whisk together until it's thoroughly incorporated. Start slowly or you'll end up with a cloud of icing sugar in the kitchen.

Take a baking tray and line with parchment or greaseproof paper.

Pour out the meringue mixture onto the baking tray into a rough circle approximately 20 cm in diameter and 5 cm high. Place into the oven for 30 mins.

After the 30 mins turn down the oven to 120°C and bake for another 45 mins.

After the 45 mins, turn off the oven and leave the meringue in the oven for at least 6 - 8 hours or overnight. According to Michel Roux the perfect pavlova should be:

...half-cooked in the middle, crisp on the outside, and the edges should be slightly cracked.

After a minimum of 6 hours or, in my case the next day, take the meringue out of the oven, carefully remove the paper from the bottom of it and put on the serving plate you want to use.

Whip up the cream until it forms soft peaks.

Spread the cream over the top of the pavlova and start decorating with the berries.

If you are using strawberries; remove the green top and chop into smaller pieces before adding to the top of the pavlova.

Once you have added all your fruit to the top of the pavlova, serve in generous slices this is not something you can just eat a small bit of.

Don't forget to leave a comment for the Fairy Hobmother, who may come and visit you next!

Chocolate Ice Cream

Preparation Time
30 minutes
Total Time
8 hours

This is the last of my summer party cookalong recipes and it is for one of my favourite foods.

I've been eating this chocolate ice cream for as long as I can remember, as it was regularly made by my Danish grandmother when we visited. There was always great excitement after dinner to see if there would be chocolate ice cream and 'kissses' (small meringues) and stomachs would be examined with a probing finger by Granny to see if there was a hole that would accommodate just a little bit of dessert.

The ice cream would be served on its own or with the above mentioned 'kisses', it would also make an appearance to accompany stewed pears and my grandmother's famous layer cake.

I now make this ice cream as a special treat for visitors, generally served with something like a chocolate brownie. There is generally very little left to put back in the freezer by the end of the meal but it does refreeze quite well, especially if you have stirred it enough during the inital freezing process.

Now before all the pedants jump on me, I will point out that technically this is not strictly an ice cream, however, I'm of the opinion that if it looks like ice cream and it tastes like ice cream, it is bloody ice cream!

You will notice that the chocolate flavour in this is added from hot chocolate powder rather than cocoa powder. The reason we use this is three fold; firstly the hot chocolate powder (and we use Cadbury's or Green & Black's for preference) tends to not form lumps, so it doesn't need to be sieved and won't form lumps when you fold it into the mixture, and secondly you can very easily go from not chocolatey enough to too chocolatey very quickly with cocoa powder, and finally the cocoa powder can have a very bitter taste while the hot chocolate powder tends to be sweet.

The ice cream takes a minimum of 5 hours to freeze so I tend to make it the evening before I intend to serve it. This saves a lot of panic. But do remember to take it out of the freezer about 15 mins before-hand, letting it melt a little so it's easier to serve.

I hope you enjoy this ice cream as much as I do and that it brings you as many happy memories.

Ingredients

Eggs (seperated)
2 large
Icing Sugar
60g
Cream
500ml
Hot Chocolate Powder
8 tbsp

Other Requirements

3 mixing bowls, whisk, spatula, tupperware box with lid,

Weigh out the icing sugar and seperate the eggs. I've embeded a video below showing you how to do it, if you've never tried before. You pass the egg yolk carefully back and forth between the two pieces of shell, letting the white drip into the empty bowl below. Once the majority of the whites has dropped into the bowl you place the yolks into the bowl with the icing sugar.

Using the spatula mix the egg yolks and icing sugar together until they form a smooth paste. Leave to one side.

Pour the cream into a third bowl and whisk it until it has soft peaks.

Fold the whipped cream into the egg yolk and icing sugar mix. It should be a very pale yellow in colour once you have mixed it all through.

Time to add the hot chocolate powder. Fold it through a couple of tablespoons at a time. Make sure you taste it occasionally so that you get the level of chocolateyness you prefer. The 8 tablespoon measurement I've used in the recipe is based on Cadbury's hot chocolate powder and gives the level of chocolate flavour I enjoy the most. But feel free to experiment to find what you like the best

Whisk up the egg whites until they have stiff peaks when you pull the whisk away.

Fold the egg whites into chocolate mixture.

Pour the finished mixture into your tupperware container. Smooth out the top, put on the lid and place in the freezer for 45 mins.

Now comes the slightly tedious bit, especially as while I do own an ice cream maker, I've not tried it with this recipe yet so don't know what time to give. If you want to try it out and let me know that would be great.

After 45 mins take the ice cream out of the freezer and stir thouroghly, especially into the corners. The purpose of this is to break up the ice crystals so that they don't get too large and ruin the texture. Once stirred pop the container back into the freezer for another 45 mins.

As before, after the 45 mins, stir again and return to the freezer for a final 45 mins.

This is the last time you have to stir the ice cream. You'll notice that the corners in particular on this stir will be quite set. After you've finished stirring, return the container to the freezer and leave until the ice cream has completely set (at least 5 hours).

Once the ice cream has set, remove from the freezer about 15 mins ahead of when you want to serve it.

Serve with fruit, cake, or pretty much anything you like. Raspberries are especially delicious with it. Enjoy!

Red Cabbage & Apple Slaw

Preparation Time
30 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes

Here's my second delicious summer salad to go with the burgers for the summer party cookalong.

This is quite possibly the tastiest way to eat red cabbage, which my mum discovered when dealing with a glut of red cabbage from her weekly veg bag. The sweetness of the apple works really well with the flavour of the red cabbage whilst the garlic somehow brings it all together.

Even if you don't normally like red cabbage I would encourage you to give this a go, it is very, very tasty.

Ingredients

Red Cabbages
½ head
Apples (eating apples)
3
Garlic
2 - 3 cloves
Oranges (juice)
½
Lemon (juice)
1
Honey
1 tsp
Olive Oil
3 tbsp
Salt & Pepper
to season
Sesame Seeds
2 tbsp

Other Requirements

A chopping board, a sharp knife, a blender, small frying pan.

Take a half a head of cabbage and using your sharp knife, finely shred it by cutting it in thin slices and then chopping the slices.

Put the cabbage into your serving bowl. Now peel, core and quarter your apples and grate them into the serving bowl on top of the red cabbage.

Now to make the dressing. In your blender put the two cloves of garlic roughly chopped, the juice of ½ an orange and 1 lemon.

Add in the olive oil and honey. Season with a little salt and pepper and blend together.

The final element of this salad is the toasted sesame seeds. Put the two tablespoons of seeds into a dry frying pan and heat until they start to turn golden brown. As soon as they start to change colour take them off the heat and add them to the salad bowl. You have to keep an eye on the sesame seed whicle they're toasting as they can burn very easily.

Pour over the dressing and mix into the rest of the salad, until everything is coated.

Serve immediately or you can make it ahead of time and leave it in the fridge until it's needed.

Potato and Bean Salad

Preparation Time
30 minutes
Total Time
30 minutes

This is the first of two salads that I made to go with my burgers for the summer party cookalong.

This is the only salad that the Beau will eat, this is probably because it has bacon in it. To be fair though, the bacon is what makes this salad extra delicious. I try and make this salad with new or baby potatoes, preferably of the waxy variety. The ones I used time were Maris Pipers, which were a little flourly, though just as tasty.

This is another dish that you can make ahead of time and, in fact, I think it is even tastier the next day when the flavours of the dressing have had time to mature.

Ingredients

Potatoes (Waxy variety)
600g
Green Beans
300g
Bacon Lardons
150g
Honey
½ tsp
Mustard (Dijon)
½ tsp
Garlic (crushed)
1 Clove
White Wine Vinegar
1 tbsp
Olive Oil (or rapeseed oil)
3 tbsp
Salt & Pepper
to season

Other Requirements

Bowl, frying pan, chopping board, sharp knife, 2 saucepans, brush or potato spinner for cleaning the potatoes

Scrub the potatoes clean using a hard brush or using a handy gadget, such as I have, that washes and scrubs the potatoes with the turn of a handle, like a salad spinner for potatoes. Scrub the potatoes until they are very clean and have some of the skin missing.

Cut the larger potatoes into two and put into saucepan. Just cover with cold water and bring to the boil. Cook for 15 - 20 mins until a knife slides through without resistence.

On to the green beans. Top and tail the beans by removing the stringy bits at either end. Put in a saucepan, again, just covering them in water and bring to the boil. The beans need to cook for about 10 - 15 mins until they are cooked but still retain a slight bite.

While the potatoes and beans are cooking, make the dressing for the salad.

Measure out the honey and mustard into a bowl (or jam jar)

Add a crushed clove of garlic to the dressing and mix together into a paste.

Add the vinegar and the olive or rapeseed oil to the mixture.

Season the dressing with salt and pepper and whisk together until it emulsifys. If you're making it in a jam jar you can just shake it up until it's all mixed together.

The potatoes and green beans should now be ready. Drain off the water and leave in the pots to cool for 5 mins.

Once cool, cut the potatoes into approximate quarters and place in your serving bowl.

Chop the green beans into lengths of about 2 - cms and add to the serving bowl. Mix the potatoes and beans together.

Time for the bacon. Place the lardons in a small pan and cook until golden brown. While they're still hot, add to the serving bowl.

Pour on the dressing and, using a spoon, carefully mix through the salad until everything is coated.

Serve while still warm or cold later in the day.

Perfect Burgers

Preparation Time
25 minutes
Total Time
45 minutes

My first summer party cookalong recipe is for my perfect burgers. I've spent a long time perfecting these and endlessly feeding experimental versions to the Beau, he has such a tough life sometimes.

Thanks to the sausage meat these burgers have a really smooth consistency and a nice solid structure, which makes them easy to eat with your hands. When the rest of my family ate them for the first time, they all commented on how much they enjoyed the texture of the burgers.

Just a quick note that I cooked these in a frying pan, as it was raining outside, but they cook just as well on a grill.

Ingredients

Minced Beef
1kg
Sausage Meat
500g
Eggs
2
Bread Crumbs
50g
Onion (shallot for preference)
1
Oil or Butter
for frying
Mixed Herbs
1 tbsp
Salt & Pepper
to season

Other Requirements

Large mixing bowl, chopping board, sharp knife, frying pan

Into your large bowl place the minced beef, the sausage meet and the eggs.

Mix the meats and eggs together with your (freshly washed) hands until they are well combined. Add the breadcrumbs and mix again.

Chop up the onion as fine as you can and put into a frying pan with a little oil or butter. Cook on a low heat until the onion is nice and soft, with a light brown colour.

Add salt and pepper, mixed herbs and the cooked onions to the meat mixture.

Mix together until everything is thoroughly encorporated. This is the point where you can leave the mixture, covered in the fridge, until you need it.

Once you are ready to cook the burgers, take a small handful of the mixture, form into a ball and flatten. Place in a hot frying pan or on a hot grill until cooked through. I found this took about 5 - 7 mins per side. This mixture makes 15 - 20 burgers depending on size.

Serve with your favourite burger accompaniments.

Picnics and Parties Cookalong

The other week it was cookalong time again and this month's theme was Picnics and Parties. I decided that I would go more for the party than the picnic side of things, and create a menu for a casual summer party.

The main course had to be burgers and since I had recently perfected my burger recipe it seemed like the perfect time to try them out of the rest of my family and see if they agreed. The verdict was unanimous that these were definitely the tastiest homemade burgers they had eaten in quite a while.

With the burgers I made 2 salads, the first a potato and green bean mix that has been a regular feature in my summer cooking for the last couple of years as it's a salad that the Beau will actually eat, mainly because it contains bacon.

The other salad is a more recent addition to the household, put together as a way of using some of the red cabbage that my mum kept getting in her organic veg bag from Home Organics. It's a combination of red cabbage and apple, a lovely balance of sharp, sweet and garlic.

Finally for dessert I made my grandmother's chocolate ice cream. This is quite possibly one of the simplest ice cream recipes that you will ever make. The only thing it requires is a bit of forward planning as, if you don't have an ice cream maker, you need to make it the night before so that it is frozen in time. We had the ice cream with a few raspberries, which were the perfect accompaniment.

All the above dishes can be prepared before hand, leaving you with more time to socialise in the sunshine (or drizzle).

Clonakilty by Candlelight

Once again I am delving into my list of posts I should've written so long ago but haven't. This time I really am almost all caught up with myself, I've only got a couple more lurking posts waiting to be published.

This time I am writing a brief account of my evening at the pop up restaurant run by Clonakilty back in February, Clonakilty by Candlelight. Myself and the Beau were invited along as some of the lucky few on Friday 11th February to sample the delights on offer from chef Ted Berner.

We were informed of the secret location of the evening's entertainment on the Thursday and were immediately intrigued by being told it was North Great George's Street, wracking our brains to try and remember what buildings were in that part of the city.

It turned out to be a private house, sometimes used for events, packed full of objects both weird a wonderful. Sorry about the photo quality but I was suffering from serious shaky hands that evening!

We were first ushered into a beautiful, red room decorated with a lot of Eastern art and given a glass of something bubbly (the best way to start any evening). While the guests mingled and chatted, groups were taken out to play a tasting game and then returned to the main room and the circulating canapés of pear and white pudding and a dark chocolate and bacon combination.

Once everyone had gone through the taste tests, we were ushered into the dining room, which was inhabited the largest collection of dolls that I have ever seen.

But that wasn't the only decoration in the room. I was particularly taken with the wall of fans and the ceiling details.

At our tables were place names (with my name spelt almost right), the menus for the evening, as well as some secret messages hidden in the napkins.

Our first course for the evening was a twist on Coddle. It was delicious. A light broth with little bits of rashers and sausages in it along with finely chopped cabbage and leek. I honestly could've eaten ten bowls of it.

While we waited for our main course I took a couple of shots of the table, including one of the Beau.

The main course was a slab of Clonakilty black pudding with a perfectly seared scallop, carrot purée and the chef's homemade apple cider. This was a perfectly balanced dish. The softness of the scallop worked beautifully with the rougher texture of the black pudding. It was yet another dish that left me wanting more and only manners prevented me from licking the plate clean.

Before the evening started I had been puzzling over how Clonakilty would incorporate one of their products into dessert; sticky toffee sausage pudding or a black pudding crumble perhaps?

Rather than these bizarre ideas we were presented with a rick chocolate tart that was served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and bacon praline. The bacon praline provided a salty sweetness that complimented the dark chocolate tart perfectly. If this evening taught me one thing it was that bacon is great paired with sweet things.

The dinner was rounded off with a cup of coffee and a shot of Jameson's Special Reserve whiskey. I'm not a whiskey girl, but this went down very smoothly indeed. I was also in love with my coffee cup! Isn't it gorgeous? Some day I will have a set of crockery just like that.

All in all we had a fabulous evening of meeting new people, seeing a new venue and eating Clonakilty products in a meal that wasn't breakfast.

If you're interested you can find the recipes for all the dishes we had that evening here: http://www.facebook.com/ClonakiltyBlackpudding?sk=notes

Media Mentions

I'm famous! Well, sort of...

Yesterday I was mentioned in The Irish Independent's weekly Naughty or Nice column written by Aoife Mc from I Can Has Cook and Aoife Barry from Adventures in Veg. You can read the piece here: http://www.independent.ie/lifestyle/food-drink/naughty-or-nice-2811715.html

Here's a picture of the print version (with thanks to Babaduck Babbles)

And while you're reading all about my blog, you could also potter over to mylunch.ie and read the interview that I did with them at the end of May. Find out my hangover food of choice! The interview is here: http://www.mylunch.ie/lunchbox/BeOurGuestSmorgasblog.ie/2008

Rhubarb Fool

Preparation Time
30 minutes
Total Time
45 minutes

The final recipe from my 20 Mile Cookalong is a Rhubarb Fool as a work colleague of mine was kind enough to supply me with a huge bundle of rhubarb when she heard about the challenge.

I've said that you can add between 2 and 4 tablespoons of honey to the rhubarb, this is based on your own tartness tolerance levels. I only put 2 tablespoons on honey into the version I made and thought it tasted fine, but my sister found it a bit too tart. So my advice would be to taste as you go and add more honey if you think you need it.

Ingredients

Rhubarb
500g
Honey
2 - 4 tbsp
Cream
250ml

Other Requirements

Chopping board, sharp knife, large pot, small pot, sieve, 2 mixing bowls, a hand blender, whisk and a spatula

First chop the rhubarb down into pieces about 2 inches long and place into a large saucepan.

Add the honey to the pot and place over a medium high heat until the rhubarb has gets soft, about 5 minutes.

Once the pulped rhubarb has cooled a little, strain the juices from it through a sieve into a small saucepan. Don't worry if you don't get a huge amount, it will stretch further than you imagine.

Tip the rhubarb pulp into a mixing bowl and blend so that it becomes nice and smooth. Place in the fridge to chill until you need it.

While the pulp is in the fridge, turn on the heat under your small pot of rhubarb juice and reduce until it becomes slightly thick. You could add a little extra honey at this point to make the sauce a sweet counterpoint to a slightly tart rhubarb fool.

Once thickened, pour the sauce into a little bowl and leave to one side for later.

Next, pour the cream into a bowl and whip it until it's just thick.

Fold the chilled rhubarb pulp bit by bit into the cream using a spatula, until it's all incorporated. This is your last chance to taste it see whether you need to add a little more honey to the mix.

Spoon the finished fool into your serving dishes and spoon about a teaspoon of the sauce over the top.

Garnish and serve. I garnished mine with pineapple sage, which added a lovely additional flavour but you could use mint or perhaps half a strawberry.

20 Mile Sides

Preparation Time
15 minutes
Total Time
35 minutes

These are the two side dishes from my main course of Slow Roasted Beef for the 20 Mile Cookalong. The potatoes came from Keoghs in Oldtown and the courgettes from Marc Michel. I was able to purchase both of my vegetables from Morton's in Ranelagh, which you should definitely drop in to if you're looking for interesting Irish products.

First up is the horseradish mash, very simple, but the perfect accompaniment to the beef. The second side is fried courgette strips, again very simple, but, in my opinion, the nicest way to serve courgettes.

Ingredients

Potatoes
5 large
Horseradish
½ root
Butter
20g
Milk
splash
Courgettes
2
Oil or Butter
For sautéing
Salt & Pepper
to taste

Other Requirements

Pot, peeler, grater, slicer or sharp knife, frying pan, potato masher

For the horseradish mash, first peel the potatoes, cut in half and put in a pot with water just covering them.

Bring the potatoes to the boil and cook until a knife will slide into a potato easily.

While the potatoes are boiling, peel the horseradish and finely grate it. Keep a tissue near by as I guarantee your eyes will end up watering when you're grating the horseradish.

When the potatoes are done, add the horseradish, butter and a splash of milk to the pot.

Mash the potatoes together with the other ingredients. Season with salt and pepper to your tastes.

Moving on to the courgette side dish; trim the ends off the courgettes and thinly slice with a sharp knife, a mandoline or with the slicer part of a grater.

Heat some oil in a frying pan and when hot, fry the courgette strips in batches until golden on both sides. Alternatively you can brush the courgette with a little oil and put under a grill, again until golden.

Serve both dishes on the side with beef, or anything else you fancy.

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