I can appreciate that this soup is about as unattractive as it comes, but don’t hold that against it. This soup is really delicious, bursting with flavour, really meaty and filling while still being pretty healthy. I’ve been sick with a pretty bad sore throat and head cold and so today decided to make a pot of soup with some of the leftover Christmas ham, in the hopes that it would make me feel better in time for New Year’s Eve.
This is actually really delicious, and really hit the spot. The ham and butter beans make it a really filling meal. I definitely plan on making another pot tomorrow. If you have any leftover Christmas ham, try this recipe to use it up.
200g chopped or shredded ham
1 can butter beans
2 leeks finely chopped
2 carrots finely chopped
2 garlic cloves finely chopped
2 sprigs of thyme (remove the leaves from the stalks)
750ml cold water
1 tsp cracked black pepper
1 pinch salt
1 splash rapeseed oil
Pop the garlic, thyme leaves, leeks and carrots in a large heavy bottomed pot with the splash of oil and stir on a medium low heat until soft.
Add the water and after a few minutes blitz with a hand blender to liquidize the vegetables.
Add the drained can of butter beans, the ham, salt and pepper.
Let the pot simmer away on a medium low heat for about 15 minutes until hot and then serve.
A recent blog post got all of my colleagues and I in a bit of a state. Niall of Lovin’ Dublin put up a recipe for homemade sausage rolls. Within our team at work, we have a bit of a penchant for posh sausage rolls, and had such cravings for sausage rolls after reading it, that many of us did go out and buy some posh sausage rolls at the local deli to satisfy our cravings. To be honest, the whole ordeal left me in a bit of a dither. I had never thought of making homemade sausage rolls before. Could it really be as easy as Niall’s blog implied? Would mine be nice enough to warrant making them from scratch? Well after a few weeks of dreaming of these aforementioned sausage rolls, I decided to make a batch of my own. And oh my god, they were mighty.
I had a bit of an unfair advantage after taking a trip to The English Market before making them, and stocking up on beautiful O’Flynn’s Gourmet Sausages, which are just heavenly. Their stall has such an amazing collection of high pork content gourmet sausages, but in the end I went for their spicy Italian sausages. I had invited a few guests over for the sausage roll eating extravaganza, one of whom is a bit of an aficionado of all things spicy and sausagey. He seemed to love them, so that was a good sign. One of my aforementioned colleagues also gave them the nod of approval. In fact they were so good, that I was only give 90 seconds to take some hasty pictures before they were all gobbled down, crumbs and all.
These are just something you have to make, they are so tasty. You can mix in or out whatever spices you like. They were really good with country relish. I think raisins soaked in a little juice would be a nice addition (if you left out the basil and chilli). These would also be fantastic to make over Christmas if you have guests coming, just make them smaller and thinner to feed many mouths as little canapés.
6 jumbo gourmet sausages (about 80% pork content – I used Italian spicy sausages from O’Flynns Gourmet Sausages in Cork… Sure doesn’t all the best food come from there?!)
1 yellow onion diced
2 cloves garlic finely chopped
1 handful basil chopped
Zest of 1 lemon
1/2 deseeded chilli (optional)
1 tsp fennel seeds crushed into a powder
Salt & Pepper
1 sheet puff pastry defrosted
1 handful flour (for rolling out pastry)
1 beaten egg
Mixed seeds (optional)
Sweat down your chopped onion, garlic and chilli (if using chilli) in a frying pan on a medium – low heat in a little oil. You don’t want these to go golden or crispy, just nice and soft. When cooled, set aside in a bowl until cool. When cool, add the lemon zest, basil, fennel and a few cracks of black pepper and a pinch of salt.
Remove the skins from your sausages and pop into the bowl with the onions etc, break the sausages up with the back of a wooden spoon and stir all the mixture together.
Roll out the defrosted piece of pastry on a little flour into two rectangles, to only about the thickness of a coin. Take one of your rectangles of pastry pread your sausage meat along the length of one of the long edges of the pastry. The roll up the pastry tightly, and brush a little bit of beaten egg along the very last bit of pasty to seal it together. Do the same with the other rectangle of pastry. Cut the pastry into little sausage rolls of whatever size you like, seam side down.
Place the rolls on a lightly oiled baking tray and wash the tops of the sausage rolls with a little beaten egg, and sprinkle with the seeds if you are using them.
Pop into an oven preheated to 180C for 25 to 30 minutes, until golden and crispy. Best served with some tomato country relish.
I love Christmas… Who doesn’t? I think the best thing about Christmas is the snuggling up in front of the fire with a good book, cup of tea or hot chocolate and a nice festive treat. Mince pies are definitely top of the list of festive treats, along with Christmas pudding (or “plump pudding” as we like to call it in our house for obvious reasons). There’s something about all those festive spices, beautiful nuts, dried fruit and a splash of good booze that makes them exactly what our bodies crave in these cold dreary months. If you haven’t made your own mince pies from scratch before, why not let this be the year that you start and dazzle your friends and family as they wonder what kind of domestic God/Goddess stands before them with fresh baked trays of happiness!
I decided to make my mince pies early this year and made 5 pots of mince meat last weekend to do me through the festive season. I am still using this mincemeat recipe that I created last year, as I just think it’s so juicy, has great flavour and a nice texture with the nuts too. It really does make a difference making your own mincemeat and it’s not hard at all, the mincemeat makes 5 jars and lasts for a few months so you really will get a good few trays of mince pies out of it. I highly recommend going old school on it, and making them from scratch, it will allow you to put in your little twists with your favourite spices, fruits, nuts and maybe a little more booze than normal! I tend to follow Jamie Oliver’s shortcrust recipe as I think it’s foolproof, it hasn’t failed me yet, but I put in more spices and flavourings to mine. This recipe makes 12 mince pies, but the pastry quantity makes enough for 24 regular sized mince pies (2 batches), as I tend to freeze the extra pastry which makes whipping up an extra batch when you have guests coming over all the more stress free. However, if you intend on only making just one batch over Christmas, just half the pastry ingredients.
These mince pies are little beauties and disappeared within a few hours of being made which is always a good sign, definitely give this easy little mince pie recipe a go and let me know what you think. And if you have any unusual additions that you like to pop in your pies, then leave a comment and let me know, I’m always looking for a little inspiration!
Sieve the flour onto a clean work surface and then sieve the icing sugar on top of it, sprinkle in the cinnamon, nutmeg, orange and lemon zest. Rub in the cubes of butter with your hands until you get a breadcrumb consistency. It helps to run your hands under cold water first so you don’t melt the butter. Sometimes rubbing the mixture quickly between the two palms of your hands help to get that consistency quickly too.
When the crumb mixture is achieved crack in the eggs and add the splash of milk and work all the mixture together until you get your dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough or you will lose that nice short crumb to your pastry. When combined, cover in cling film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Lightly butter a tin 12 hole cupcake or muffin tray (I don’t think the silicon trays work for pastry).
Roll out the dough (you only need half if using the full quantity above, pop the other half in the freezer for your next batch of mince pies) on a floured surface until your pastry is about 1/2 cm thick at most. Use two different glasses, one slightly wider than the other. Press out 12 of each discs (you will probably have to roll together the scrap cuts to get enough for 12 of each. Push the slightly larger discs in the cupcake moulds, then pop in a tablespoon of mincemeat, wash the edges of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg and then press on the smaller disc of pastry on top. Do this until all pies are done. Brush the tops of all the pies with a little egg wash.
Pop into an oven pre-heated to 180C for 20-25 minutes, until golden brown on top. Then pop the pies out of the tin and let cool on a wire rack.
To decorate, sieve a little icing sugar on top and grate over the zest of 1 lemon and 1 orange.
This recipe is as a result of tinkering around in the kitchen and trying to piece together some of my favourite things… Sometimes it works, sometimes it fails. Thankfully this worked out really well, as otherwise I wouldn’t have anything to put up this week! These lovely Chocolate Rum Raisin Squares are a lovely rich treat that are perfect for the holiday season with the nice warming kick from the boozy rum raisins. This is kind of like a cross between chocolate biscuit cake, millionaires shortbread and anything that contains rum raisin. I actually soaked my raisins for 5 days before using them but 2 or 3 days would probably do fine, the longer you leave them the more rum the raisins will absorb and so the plumper and juicier they will be!
This is are incredibly easy chocolate cake recipe to make, if you’re going to make these chocolate squares for a specific event then I suggest making them the night before so the melted chocolate has time to set. These would make a really nice gift for someone over Christmas… that is if you don’t eat them all first!
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup dark rum
175g soft dark brown sugar
280g plain / cream flour
200g dark chocolate (75% cocoa)
200g milk chocolate
Pop the raisins in a jar, pour in the rum and put on the lid. Let it soak for a few days so it the raisins absorb all the rum. You can give the jar a shake every now and then to ensure the rum is evenly distributed.
To make the base mix together the flour, sugar and butter with an electric mixer until you achieve a bread crumb consistency, mix in half of the raisins and then pat down the crumbs into a greased and lined brownie tin (around 8 x 12 inches).
Bake in an oven preheated to 180C for 20-25 minutes.
Break the chocolate into little pieces and melt over a very low heat in a heavy bottomed pot, stirring until smooth, then take off the heat.
Sprinkle the remaining raisins over the biscuit base, and then pour the chocolate oven the raisins. Make sure the whole surface is evenly coated in chocolate and then pop into the fridge for a few hours until the chocolate it set. Then cut into squares and enjoy!