When it comes to the simple pleasures in life, there are few things I love more than buttered bread hot from the oven, cake and chocolate. Thankfully this recipe is an amalgamation of all of those things! I’m a total bread fiend (hence working for free in a bakery last year) and have already waxed lyrical about my love of Spotted Dog when I made it earlier this year here. These Spotted Puppies are mini versions, like little scones, of the popular and traditional Irish Spotted Dog.
The Spotted Dog is basically a slightly sweet and fruity soda bread. I decided to pimp these puppies out with dried cranberries, chopped walnuts and dark chocolate chips. Sorry to be boastful, but they were incredible. Make sure to eat them hot from the oven slathered in salted butter… Delicious!
450g plain/cream flour
1 tsp bread soda (bicarb of soda)
1 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
100g dark choc chips (I just chopped a bar into little chunks)
75g chopped walnuts
Preheat your oven to 220C. Sieve the flour into a bowl (I actually never sieve it because I am lazy, but it helps get more air into the mix), stir in the salt, sugar, walnuts, chocolate and cranberries. Make a well in the centre of the mix.
Your wet mix (buttermilk and egg) should make 400ml, to be safe pop your egg into the measuring jug and then add the buttermilk until you hit the 400ml mark. Give it a quick whisk.
Pour the wet mix into the dry mix and start bringing it together by using your hand (stiff like a claw) to bring the dry mix into the centre. Keep doing this until just combined. The most important thing with this, or any soda bread, is not to overmix it or it will become tough.
When just combined divide the mix into six portions and pop it onto an oiled tray. Put into the oven immediately, again if you leave it out before putting it in the oven it will loose it’s lightness.
After the first 5 minutes you can turn the heat down to 200C, then let them bake for another 15 minutes.
When cooked slice open and butter with generous helpings of salted butter immediately! No need for jam. it will just mask the flavours of your beautiful fillings.
This pasta looks the business doesn’t it? Well it tastes amazing too. In actual fact, it’s super quick and easy to make, and cheap as chips too. All you have to do really is cook the pasta and stir in everything else.
As this is a simple dish you’re relying on the lemon, basil, parmesan and black pepper to give it a bold kick of flavour, so be generous with each of them. Purple basil tastes the exact same as normal basil, so don’t despair if you can’t get your hands on it, this will turn out the exact same with the regular stuff. Whip this up for a fancy looking but super simple supper after work during the week to put a pep in your step!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2tbsp Grated Parmesan
Zest of 2 Lemons
Basil (purple if you can find it!)
Salt & Pepper
Boil the pasta in salted water according to the packet instructions. I take mine off a minute or two early so that it’s al dente. Reserve a little of the cooking water.
Roughly chop your basil and set aside. I use a good bit, about a handful.
Stir in the ricotta, parmesan, lemon zest, salt and pepper. Have a taste and adjust with more salt, pepper or cheese if needed. You may need to loosen it out with a little of the cooking water or even some olive oil for a silky finish.
Top with more grated parmesan and black pepper and an artistic sprig of basil! Enjoy.
This is a really, really easy salad. It’s just a ‘throw-everything-together’ kind of a recipe. Just a bit of chopping and massaging… Yes massaging. To be honest though, most nights during the week I tend to eat really easy dishes like this as it’s hard to find time to cook something complicated from scratch after a long day at work.
I bought most of the ingredients at the Temple Bar Farmer’s Market last weekend. The beautiful black kale and fresh beetroot are from McNally’s organic farm, the delicious apple balsamic vinegar is from Llewellyns Orchard, the Irish buffalo mozzarella is from Toonsbridge Dairy (if you follow this blog you’ll see I use it ALL the time, that’s because it is the ambrosia of the Gods). I also got some macadamia nut oil from my local health food shop, The Hopsack (which is a real gem by the way), to massage the kale. Kale has a gorgeous texture and there’s no need to cook it if you massage it with a little oil. This softens it a little and you’ll visibly notice the colour become more vivid , I think it vastly improves the texture and flavour. You can use whatever oil you like but macadamia is packed with healthy fats and had a beautiful, subtle, nutty taste that’s perfect for salad dressings.
All in all this is a very easy, healthy and delicious salad, so get to it and whip it up!
1 bunch kale
1 large raw beetroot (okay I suppose you can use the cooked prepackaged ones if you must)
1 ball of fresh mozzarella
Macadamia oil (or other mild tasting oil like rapeseed)
Rinse the kale. Remove the stalks/ribs of the kale (you can’t eat these, or at least without difficulty) and slice the kale into fine ribbons. In a bowl massage a tablespoon of oil into the kale leaves for about a minute.
Wash the beetroot well and remove the roots. Slice finely on a mandolin and mix into your bowl of kale.
Tear up your mozzarella and scatter on top. Drizzle with balsamic oil.
Roughly chop your pistachios and scatter on top of the salad.
I’ve had quite the month of indulgent food, and I really need to step away from the bread and the chocolate and eat healthily for a while to restore a bit of balance. But the problem is I just love good food, I can’t resist something comforting and delicious, and a miserable cucumber salad ain’t my kind of jam.
I had a total craving for quiche last weekend, I just wanted something rich and comforting with a crumbly, biscuity crust. I decided to put my mind to it and make the most health freaky quiche that still tastes incredible… Sounds too good to be true, I know.
This quiche is filling and rich, yet surprisingly light (I know that makes no sense). Packed with green goodness but with enough sharp feta it packs a nice punch. The crust was the experiment and thankfully worked out great, you could definitely use it for sweet tarts too. This is the perfect summer dish if you’re trying to be healthy, but like me are a bit of a glutton at heart.
1/2 mug oats
1/2 mug ground almond
3 tbsp melted coconut oil
1 head broccoli (or a packet of tender stem broccoli)
1 bunch spring onions
1/2 courgette (optional, I just had some leftover in the fridge so chucked it in)
1 packet feta cheese
Salt & Pepper
Blend the oats with a hand blender into a powder. Then throw in a mixing bowl with the ground almond, melted coconut oil and a pinch of salt, mix together with a spoon until it comes together. It will still be totally crumbly so don’t worry. Add in a few tablespoons of water and mix together more, this should help it come together so it’s combined.
This pastry is not like a normal pastry so don’t worry that it will keep falling apart. Roll out between two sheets of cling film and then squish it into a quiche tin. I say squish because it will for sure fall apart, but you just need to squish the bits in and patch it up. Throw it into the fridge for 30 mins and it will harden up nicely (at this point you will feel much more confident that it won’t be a total disaster)
Chop the head of broccoli into little florets and slice the courgette and spring onions finely. Throw them all into a large pot with a little coconut oil, salt, pepper and a splash of water with the lid on, stir occasionally. You basically just want to soften these for 10 minutes, the steam from the water should keep them moist and turn them a vibrant green, they shouldn’t catch on the base of the pan. When just slightly soft take out of the pan and drain any excess water if there is any.
Whisk the eggs in a bowl with a splash of milk and season with salt and pepper.
Sprinkle half your cheese on the base of the chilled quiche, then scatter your veggies and top up with the egg, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. Throw into an oven preheated to 180C for 40 minutes.
You can eat it hot from the oven with salad, or cold the next day for your lunch. Enjoy!
I have recently been on holidays in Italy (yet again), drawn back by the lure of bread, cheese, pizza, pasta and gelato. I just love holidays in Italy, being able to chill out on a beautiful beach with a book, take breaks for ice-cream (it’s holidays okay…), dip into a seaside restaurant for fresh fish for lunch with a bottle of local wine, more sunbathing, then pre-dinner drinks followed by a big plate of fresh pasta heaped with seafood, butter, herbs and prawns, and more wine, and bread… Lots of bread. Okay I’m getting a little distracted and hungry again just thinking about it.
One of my favourite things to eat there is a Caprese salad with fresh, local buffalo mozzarella, juicy tomatoes and basil mopped up with crusty bread. While I was in Puglia I had some of the most incredible olive breads and decided that I had to make one as soon as I got back. So off to the market I trotted and filled up a bag of salty, black olives. While my bread looks brown it’s actually white, all the kneading of the olives into the dough coloured it. You could always add the olives into the bread after kneading for a dramatic contrast.
This bread is made using fast-action yeast and so is very quick and easy to make. Why not make it this weekend and enjoy it with some fresh mozzarella and a good bottle of red?
500g white bread flour
1 large handful black olives chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
1 pinch salt
1 sachet of fast action yeast
300ml warm water
1 heaped teaspoon of brown sugar
In a large bowl mix together the flour, sugar, salt and oil. Give it a quick stir and then stir in the yeast.
Now stir in the water and stir for a minute until all ingredients are combined. You can either add in the olives now, or after kneading so that the bread is less brown in colour.
Knead the bread on a clean, floured surface for at least 10 minutes, or if you have an electric mixer with a dough hook you could throw it in that for half the time.
Shape the dough and coat it with a little olive oil. Pop it into an oiled bowl and cover in cling film. Leave it in a warm place until it has double in size which can take between 1.5 – 2 hours.
When the dough has risen bake in an oven, preheated to 220c for 35-40 minutes. A trick here is to throw a few ice cubs or half a glass of water into the oven 5 minutes before putting the bread in, the steam will help create a nice crust on the bread. I like to slash a blade or sharp knife across the top of the bread too before putting it in the oven to allow the steam to escape.
The baked loaf should sound hollow when tapped underneath. Let the bread cool on a wire rack and enjoy with some butter, cheese or hummus!
Ok so I have no idea what most supermodels eat (probably a packet of cigarettes and a diet coke), but I still live in hope that eating dishes like this will bring me one step closer becoming Miranda Kerr.
Maybe not. If not I won’t be too upset though as this taste so delicious, it’s one of those salads that doesn’t really feel like a salad. I like it best as a side with some fish, meat or quiche. It’s a perfect side for a BBQ. It’s full of all the good stuff especially quinoa which is a really high protein grain.
With the weather looking mighty for the rest of the summer (I hope I didn’t jinx that), this is definitely one worth banging out.
1 mug dried quinoa grains
1/2 chicken or veg stock cube
2 peeled garlic cloves
1 large handful mangetout
1 bunch spring onions
3 tbsp toasted flaked almonds
Seeds of 1 pomegranate
Zest of 1 lemon
Rinse the quinoa really well in a sieve under water. This is important as the coating of quinoa has a soapy residue so if you don’t rinse it well it will taste yuck. Tip the rinsed grains into a pot of boiling water with the chicken stock cube and garlic cloves. Bring to a boil and let simmer away for about 15-20 minute- until cooked through. It needs a bit, not to be mushy.
Chop the scallions and fry in a little oil the set aside. Slice the mangtout and pop in a pot of boiling water for 1 minute, then remove and pop into a bowl of icy water. Strain and set aside.
When the quinoa is cooked through, strain it and pop into a serving bowl. Add in the spring onions, mangetout, 2 tbsp of the almonds, most of the pomegranate seeds and most of the lemon zest.
Stir it all together and to serve sprinkle with some more of the almonds, lemon zest and pomegranate.
Serve immediately but this will keep well for a few days in the fridge.
I know this is a wildly arrogant statement, but this is genuinely the nicest biscuit cake ever. I only make it every few months as it’s so good I usually eat a days’s worth of calories in one go as I stand over the tray in the kitchen slicing it. It goes something like “one for the tupperware… one for me…. one for the tupperware… one for me”.
I usually add in hazelnuts and raisins to my chocolate biscuit cake but last week I decided to go wild altogether and use crunchies and malteasers instead. It was revolutionary. As I was cutting it up in the morning before work I ate two squares for breakfast!
This is really easy to make as you’re not really doing much, there’s no baking involved. Just melting chocolate, crushing biscuits and letting it set overnight. The only two things I’d say is always get more chocolate than you think you’ll need. There’s nothing worse then not having enough chocolate to coat the biscuits and just being left with chocolate crumbs. Secondly always use rich tea biscuits, digestives are the devils food and are not as nice in biscuit cake, the rich teas are way crispier. Lastly, this make a ridiculous amount of biscuit cake (like almost 2kg) so you can either half the recipe or make the full amount and give loads away to friends and be really popular!
300g rich tea biscuits
200g milk chocolate
200g 70% dark chocolate
100g 85% dark chocolate
1 large cinema size bag of malteasers
150g golden syrup
Crush up all the biscuits into little bite size pieces, not too small (they’ll turn to dust) and not too big or they won’t set properly. Chop up the crunchies into little pieces also.
Line a brownie tin with greaseproof paper and butter, make sure it’s not too big as you want your biscuit cake at least and inch or two high. There’s no point giving you an exact sized tin to use as it doesn’t really matter once it’s not humongous. The cake mixture just needs to be able to spread over the whole base and remain about 2 inches high.
Break up all the chocolate into pieces and put into a large, very heavy bottomed pot (it will burn in a thin pot, alternatively you could use a bain marie to melt your chocolate) on a medium heat until just melted, then add in the butter and golden syrup and stir until all melted and just combined.
Stir in the biscuit pieces, malteasers and crunchie bits. When just combined just pour into the tin and pat it down so it all sits into place. This is the point where I just start eating the hot cake mixture from the spoon! Put in the fridge for about 5-6 hours (overnight would be ideal).
This is really, really rich so slice into small pieces. Enjoy and try your best not to eat 5 in quick succession like I do!