Tuesday, December 3, 2013


This recipe is from Rachel Allen's lovely book Bake, which always seems to have easy, no-nonsense recipes when I need them. I love mince pies and was staring at them in Tesco this morning but resisted in favour of making some with Juno. Kids and baking are a great match when Mammy's in great form. Not so much today, but we got there :) And the mince pies are delicious.


For the sweet shortcrust pastry:
200 g plain flour, sifted
1 tablespoon icing sugar
100 g chilled butter, cubed
1 medium egg, beaten
250 g mincemeat (c. half a jar)
1 egg, beaten
Icing sugar for dusting


* On a floured work surface, roll out the pastry to 3 mm thick.
* Cut 24 rounds with a 6 cm cutter,
* With a smaller cutter or heart/star cutter cut-out 24 lids. Re-roll the trimmings, if necessary.
* Line the holes of the cake tin with the larger pastry rounds. Fill each base with a teaspoon of mincemeat and top with one of the smaller rounds or hearts.
* Brush the tops of the mince pies with beaten egg.
* Bake in the oven for about 13 minutes until pale golden brown.
* Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the tin and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
* Dust with icing sugar to serve.

Thursday, November 21, 2013


Vegan Christmas cake
I finally got around to making my cake yesterday. This is my favourite cake in the world - moist, boozy, delicious. I am amazed we haven't cut it yet...This year I bought whiskey not brandy and I am worried it will taste different. If it does, I am going out for brandy pronto and I will douse the cake.

Juno studying the ingredients
As there are a lot of ingredients it is best to get everything ready before you start. We don't like icing but you can easily find vegan marzipan and royal icing.

The dry ingredients mixed with treacle
Juno helping me
This is a powerful cake - my wishes always seem to come true from it, so fingers crossed for this year's wish :) Happy Christmas!

350 gr wholegrain spelt flour
175gr vegan marg
175gr light muscovado sugar
1 tsp mixed spice
150gr sultanas
200gr raisins
150gr dates
50 gr flaked almonds
1 tblsp treacle
100gr glacé cherries, halved
grated zest of an orange
2 tblsps ground almonds
120ml soya milk
2 tblsps red wine vinegar
¾ tsp of bread soda (bicarbonate of soda)
6 tblsps (90ml) brandy/whiskey

• Preheat oven to 150˚C
• Grease an 8” cake tin and line with greaseproof paper
• Sieve the flour and spice
• Rub in the marg until the mix is like breadcrumbs
• Stir in the flaked almonds and treacle
• Add the sugar, dried fruit, cherries, orange zest and ground almonds and mix
• Warm half the soya milk in a small pot and add the vinegar
• Dissolve the bread soda in the rest of the soya milk, then add
this to the milk and vinegar mix
• Stir this into flour and fruit mix until well combined
• Spoon mix into greased tin and smooth the top
• Bake for 2 hours, until a skewer/cocktail stick comes out clean
• Leave cake in tin to cool, then turn out and peel off greaseproof
• Prick cake with a cocktail stick and feed with a third of the brandy
• Wrap cake in greaseproof and store in a tin
• Feed with the rest of the brandy/whiskey at weekly intervals
• Will keep for 4 weeks or so

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Get a free vegan cookbook Make It Vegan from Isa Chandra Moskovitz and Breville here. Pdf, or Kindle (only in the USA).

Thursday, October 31, 2013


Brack and buns for Trick or Treat for Temple Street :)

See the ring poking out there?
I bought the paper cases in the USA

Friday, September 13, 2013


I was sent a sample bottle of hemp oil by HempSeedOil.eu and I tried it out in two salad dishes. Hemp seed oil is low in saturated fats, is a source of polyunsaturated fats, and is free from trans fat and cholesterol. The oil is of high nutritional value because of its 3:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 essential fatty acids, which matches the balance required by the human body. Hemp oil is not really used in cooking, it's best used in dressings and dips and so on.

I used mine to make a salad dressing with red wine vinegar and a pinch of salt and pepper (three parts oil to one part vinegar). The hemp oil has a lovely clear green colour and has the slightly grassy taste of extra virgin olive oil, though I thought it was milder than olive oil. It was a good substitute and, as I find the smell of olive oil nauseating sometimes, the hemp oil pleased me.

I also used it to make the marinade for my Three Bean and Basil Salad, in place of olive oil, and it tasted great.

I associate hemp with hessian type clothing and woven mats so it was interesting to see this oil and try it out. If you find olive oil too pungent for dressings (as I often do), you might find that hemp oil is a pleasant alternative.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Gourmandize Interview

I was Blogger of the Day on Gourmandize on Saturday but, sadly, I was away and couldn't blog about it. They interviewed me though. A taster:

Are there any chefs that you admire in particular?

I love Nigella because she loves food.
In real life, Dennis Cotter, who runs the very excellent Café Paradiso in Cork, a gourmet vegetarian restaurant. We go there every September for my husband's birthday. And look forward to it all year. Veggie sceptics are blown away by Dennis's food.

We see that you're an accomplished writer, does writing a food blog as well help keep your pen in shape or is it more of a way of relaxing?

It's totally separate. Writing novels and short stories is the day job; baking is escape and relaxation. But I'm a compulsive writer so inevitably I write about the cooking!

The rest of the interview is here. Gourmandize is a great place for all sorts of recipes; well worth a browse.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Corner House Bistro, Athlone

Corner House Bistro Samosas
I have a new restaurant crush in Athlone, home of The Left Bank and Kin Khao Thai. The new place I've fallen for is The Corner House Bistro on Dublin Gate Street. I had the chickpea samosas above and my husband had excellent falafels. I'm not sure how often the menu changes but I will be happy to go back and have the falafels all to myself. Their cakes looked equally fab so even tea and buns will do. The chef is formerly of the excellent Wineport Lodge so, really, how could you go wrong?

Tuesday, August 27, 2013


Three Bean and Basil Salad
More salad, seeing as I promised. I am having this one with dinner. The last time I made it I added flaked almonds (because I had them) but there are none in the press today. The almonds make a nice crunch and should be added just before serving.

INGREDIENTS - serves 2

450g tin of mixed beans (mine was cannellini, flageolet and adzuki)
quarter red pepper, finely chopped
half small onion, finely chopped
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp olive oil
a few basil leaves, torn up small
1 tbsp of flaked almonds (optional)

Rinse the beans in cold water and drain
Bung them into a bowl and mix everything else in
If using flaked almonds, add before serving and mix through - doneski!

Monday, August 26, 2013


Carrot and Cumin Salad, at our July picnic in Glasson - Bean Salad recipe soon!
Where has the summer gone? I promised salad recipes!

After a week in the States, followed by my 97 year old Granny-in-law's funeral (and so days and days away from home) my good eating habits have gone out the window. But I am back on track this week and doing my best to return to eating salads every day.

I had a rocket, pepper and avocado salad for lunch today, accompanied by this lovely lemony carrot and cumin salad. It's best made a few hours ahead so that the flavours can marinade nicely. This recipe serves two people.

2 large carrots, finely grated
juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon sultanas or raisins
half teaspoon of ground cumin
quarter teaspoon of ground coriander
1 teaspoon rape or olive oil
half teaspoon of honey
pinch salt and pepper

Mix the carrots, seeds and raisins in a bowl
In a jug, mix the lemon juice, oil, spices, honey salt and pepper
Pour the marinade into the carrot mix, stir well, cover and leave for a few hours or overnight.

Saturday, August 3, 2013


Juno with the Chocolate Biscuit Cake - it's a real slab

I have become a chocolate cake fiend. I used to HATE chocolate cake but clearly I was eating the wrong ones. Lately, I can't get enough of good choccie cake and I had a craving for Chocolate Biscuit Cake this week (why!?). I haven't eaten it since my mother used to make it when I was a kid.

I've never used condensed milk in a recipe before - it is amazing, gloopy sweet stuff, I have discovered. Anyway, I adapted this recipe and came up with this cake: a rich, no-bake delight.


300g dark chocolate, broken up
100g butter/marg, diced
1 teaspoon cocoa powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
397g tin condensed milk
250g digestive biscuits, broken into quarters


- Line a 2 lb loaf tin with cling film
- Melt the choc and butter in a heatproof bowl over a pot of gently simmering water. Stir until smooth.
- Remove the bowl from the heat and mix in the cocoa powder and salt, then pour in the condensed milk, stirring well to combine.
- Add the broken biscuits and stir
- Pour the chocolate biscuit mixture into the lined loaf tin, pressing it down with a spatula.
- Put in the fridge for about 3 hours, or overnight, until set.

Juno made these Monsters Inc buns for her and her cousin Lyra (special pack from Aldi):

Sunday, July 14, 2013


Vegan choc cake
 I woke up this morning wanting to bake a chocolate cake and got started only to discover I had no eggs. (When Mammy goes away, nobody else shops...) Determined to make a cake, however, I googled egg-free chocolate cakes and found this simple, quick recipe on All Recipes.

The woman who posted this lives on the Falkland Islands where her parents own a traditional sheep farm. Cruise-ship tourists go to visit the farm and she makes this cake for her parents to serve to their visitors. Sweet :) I have adapted it slightly (more cocoa, less flour; I used soya milk, vegan marg etc.)

Juno enjoying the cake at our picnic
We brought the cake on a picnic to Glasson, Westmeath. It is delicious - really moist and chocolatey. I'm thrilled with how it turned out. A keeper recipe, for sure. (I also made salads for our picnic - will post on them anon.)


170g vegan marg (or butter)
110g light brown sugar
2 tablespoons golden syrup
250ml soya milk (or cow’s milk)
2 drops of vanilla extract
150g plain flour
75g cocoa powder
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda


- Preheat the oven to 180C. Grease and line the bottom of an 8" round cake tin.
- Melt the butter, sugar, syrup, vanilla extract and milk over a low heat. Stir to bring together. Pour into a bowl.
- Sieve the flour, cocoa, baking powder and bicarb of soda into the wet mix. Stir well and pour into the tin.
- Cook for 40 minutes.

Sunday, June 9, 2013


A trip into Galway always means good food. Yesterday we had a lovely time in the brand new - and much needed - Boojum, a burrito bar, which reminds me of Chipotle, an American chain I very much love.

Boojum did not disappoint - we had veggie burritos, stuffed with coriander rice, veggies and guacamole. Mmmm. They were only open a couple of days and so there was free beer and Mexican music and dancing. A mini fiesta on Spanish Parade.

From there we went to The Kitchen Café at the museum for tea and cakes - Tunisian orange cake and a raspberry bakewell - and we also took in the new ceramics exhibition.

I took some phone pics at the market where the very kind man at the Gannets Fishmongers stall gave me a single mussel for a special photograph (possibly part of the cover image of my next novel ... watch this space).

Market pics:

Friday, May 17, 2013


Apron Strings: Recipes from a Family Kitchen
We went to the launch of Nessa Robins's début cookbook Apron Strings: Recipes from a Family Kitchen (New Island) in Moate last night. It was a fabulous launch: cake galore, a beautiful venue in Dún na Sí and warm speeches. When you bought the book you also got a goodie bag with the rather excellent Shamrock and Sour Cream crisps from Keogh's, chocolate and Glenisk vouchers.

Nessa Robins signing my copy of her book
The book is a work of art - beautifully photographed (by Nessa herself) and with matt pages and clear, interesting layouts. It is a mix of memoir and recipes and I can't wait to get stuck in to read it and try out some of the cakes etc. This is the first book of its type from New Island and it's a joy to see what a great job they have done on it.

Dún na Sí was a perfect venue: large and quaint, in the best possible way: it has the biggest fireplace I have ever seen and the room was large enough to hold the 150 or so people who turned up to support Nessa.

Nessa had spent the day baking and there was not a scrap left at the end of the iced buns, brownies, cookies, bread, strawberries, fruit tarts, wine etc. etc. that were laid on for the lucky crowd.

Millie & Juno
Juno hit it off with Nessa's daughter Millie, also three, and they had enormous fun running about the hall.

Caroline Hennessy & Kristin Jensen of the Irish Food Bloggers Association
Justin Corfield & Eoin Purcell of New Island
Eoin Purcell and Justin Corfield of New Island had travelled down from Dublin along with PR maestro Gráinne Killeen. Sunday Times food writers Móna and Ron Wise were also there, and Kristin Jensen and Caroline Hennessy of the Irish Food Bloggers Association launched the book.

Apron Strings is available from New Island here at €22.99.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Blueberry and Orange Cake
I have a tendency to see what I've got in the press, then bake with it. Even for important things like my sons' Dad's birthday cake ... Still, blueberry and orange sound like a good match, don't they? And, it turns out, they are. This cake has a lovely childhood taste - sweet in all the right ways.

125g caster sugar
100g self-raising flour
75g spelt flour
125g butter or marg
pinch of salt
zest of 1 orange
50g blueberries
2 eggs
2 tblsps cow's or soya milk
juice of 1/4 of an orange (2 tblsps)

30g icing sugar
juice of 1/4 of an orange (2 tblsps)

Orange drizzle

·        Preheat oven to 180˚C
·        Grease and line a 2lb loaf tin
·        Zest and juice the orange
·        Cream the butter and caster sugar
·        Add the eggs and zest and beat well
·        Add flour and salt and fold in completely
·        Mix through the milk and OJ
·        Mix through the blueberries
·        Pour into the cake tinand flatten the top
·        Bake for 55 minutes or so, until golden on top, make sure it is cooked through with a cake tester/skewer
·        Make the syrup while the cake is cooking by gently heating the orange and icing sugar until the sugar is melted
·        Using your skewer, puncture the top of the cake and pour the syrup evenly over the cake
·        Cool completely in the tin. Serve on its own, or with plain yogurt or ice-cream. Yum!

Thursday, May 2, 2013


Tesco had an offer on blueberries, which I haven't baked with in ages, so I snapped them up and baked some bun-sized, healthy muffins.This recipe makes 12 small muffins/buns.

139 calories per bun, 6g of fat.


125g wholegrain spelt flour
125g self-raising flour
75g light muscovado sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp mixed spice
150ml soya milk or milk
1 beaten egg (or 1tsp NoEgg mixed with 2tblsps water for vegans)
50g of blueberries
40g chopped walnuts
2 tblsps vegetable oil
12 small muffin or bun-sized cases


• Preheat oven to 180˚C
• Put muffin cases into bun tray
• Mix the flour, spice, sugar and baking powder in a bowl
• Beat egg or make up the NoEgg as per pack
• In a jug, mix together the soya milk, oil and egg/NoEgg mixture
• Make a well in the flour and beat in the milky mixture
• Mix in the blueberries and walnuts until you have a sticky dough
• Divide the mixture between the muffin cases
• Bake for 25 to 30 minutes

Monday, April 29, 2013


My recipe for Carrot and Walnut Memory Muffins is featured on Foodival here, which is kind of nice. Foodival bills itself as 'a food festival' - a diverse collection of recipes from all over the world.

Friday, April 19, 2013


Happy Great Irish Bake Day!

My recipe tin
For the day itself, I decided to do my favourite of all my cake recipes. It is quick and simple and turns out perfectly every time for me. This is made with spelt flour which has less gluten than regular flour. I used a luxury fruit mix, but ordinary raisins or sultanas work just as well. I love to eat a warm, fresh slice of this, but it is also great cold with butter.

Juno with the Spelt Fruit Cake
As you can see, I sprinkled flaked almonds over the cake before putting it in the oven, but only because I have a pack open. They are completely optional.

The fruit studded inside of the cake

180ml tea
250g mixed fruit
100g brown sugar
1 beaten egg
25g melted marg
255g wholegrain spelt flour
1tsp bread soda
1 tsp mixed spice
a handful of flaked almonds (optional)


- Soak the fruit, sugar and tea in a bowl - leave until cold
- Preheat the oven to 180C
- Line a 2lb loaf tin
- Add the melted marg to the fruit mix. Stir through.
- Add the beaten egg. Stir through.
- Sieve then fold in the flour, bread soda and spice
- Pour into the lined tin & sprinkle over almonds (if using)
- Bake for 55 minutes, until a skewer comes out clean
- Cool in the tin for 10 mins then turn onto a wire rack

Wednesday, April 17, 2013


Great Irish Bake Banana Bread
We made banana bread for the Great Irish Bake - two loaves, one for my friend Karen to build her up after the birth of her lovely new baby, Harley. And one for us!

Great Irish Bake Donations Jar
The Great Irish Bake collection jar is filling up nicely for the children in Temple Street. And so to the cake - makes a good, sweet, banana-y loaf.


2 over-ripe bananas
100g light brown sugar
125g wholegrain spelt flour
125g self-raising flour
50ml soya or cow's milk
50ml rapeseed oil
1 tsp baking powder
2 beaten eggs
a handful of flaked almonds


o Preheat the oven to 160˚C
o Grease a loaf tin
o Break the peeled bananas into a bowl and whizz with the sugar (I used a hand blender)
o Add the eggs, oil and soya milk and whizz again
o Fold in the dry ingredients and pour into the loaf tin
o Scatter the flaked almonds on top
o Bake for 55 to 60 minutes. Test with a skewer.
o Gorgeous hot or cold, on its own or yogurt

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


I love this. Jars! Salad! It's from Back to her Roots. The 'how-to', for optimum salad layering, is worth reading.

Monday, April 8, 2013


I am taking part in The Great Irish Bake for Temple Street children's hospital for the first time. I got my starter pack of stuff, including spatula, stickers, balloons, recipes and napkins. The plan is to bake on several days and take donations from family, friends or anyone who stops by. For that we have our Great Irish Bake donations jar:

Donations jar
We did our first round of baking today. I made Apple and Oat Rounds, which are sugar free, soft cookies - very tasty (recipe adapted from this one on All Dishes). My mix made 20 small, soft rounds 80 calories per piece.

Juno playing with Great Irish Bake balloons
 Then I helped Juno to make chocolate buns (her favourite) after which she had fun with the cheery yellow balloons.
Apple & Oat Rounds

Apple and Oat Rounds

100g margarine or butter, softened
150g honey
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
90g wholegrain spelt flour
half teaspoon baking soda
1 tsp mixed spice
125g porridge oats
1 apple, cored and chopped very small

Preheat the oven to 190C.
Grease baking trays.
In a bowl, cream together the butter, honey, egg and vanilla until smooth.
Combine the flour, baking soda and spice; stir into the creamed mixture.
Mix in oats and apple.
Blob teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking trays.
Bake for 10 minutes.
Allow to cool on baking tray for 5 minutes before moving to a wire rack.