Thursday 29 April 2010

delicious desserts & old lady lace

the 'before' shot

Here's a little kitchen wall unit we've been working on. We bought it on ebay. It fits perfectly on a wall between two doorways. Mart painted it and put it up while I was away with work in February. It sat empty since then though as I couldn't decide what to keep on it. So I finally gave my pretty dessert glasses pride of place there recently. A sort of shrine to dessert glasses. A reminder to make delicious desserts for pretty glasses whenever possible.  I screwed some cup hooks into the bottom to hang measure spoons and aprons. All partners in the quest for delicious desserts of course.

It couldn't go with out some old ladyifying too and so I picked up a delicate lace trim on a recent haberdashery hunt and glue gunned it on. I think it was all the final straw for poor Martin who looked on in shock asking is there anything in the house for boys?! Sorry Mart. Just remember how good that knickerbocker glory is going to taste though!

Tuesday 27 April 2010

a-lorra lorra leftovers

We had some stuffed roast pork leftover from the weekend. Yes, leftover. In this house? With that boy living here? Yes, unbelivable. Leftovers. 

I had cooked the pork with apple wedges too and even some of those managed to survive. So tonight I made a quick salad with the roasted apple, which I chopped, brown rice (wait for it...leftover  from another meal), a handful of sultanas, toasted flaked almonds and chopped parsley and a lemon, dijon dressing. Just yummy served with thinly sliced cold roast pork and an apple and sultana chutney.

Monday 19 April 2010

Homemade Lemon Curd

If your lemon face has come back to normal from the recent lemon granita, then pucker up in anticipation of my delicious lemon curd. I keep ending up with loads of lemons left over from work and I knew that this weekend something had to be done about them before they took over completely. 

As if I needed any more encouragement with using them up, my work buddies over at Pacific TV in London, having just started tweeting, have thrown down the gauntlet in their first foodie fix..."Make us something yummy with lemons and send us pictures of the result". Loving (winning) a challenge, I went with my top favourite lemony treat. So here you go guys....I even sewed the name tag for extra what's my prize?!


Ok, so lemon curd isn't top of the list for the bikini diet (which is obviously why it's so darn good) but it's not like you eat a whole lot of it at once. Right?! I'm dreaming of it sandwiched in a cream sponge, lathered on a corner of crusty bread, marbled through mascarpone for a cheats cheesecake or straight from the spoon even! Mart just wants it on a knickerbockerglory. Try swapping the lemons for oranges for an equally delicious curd.

Makes 1L

Zest & juice of 4 lemons
400g caster sugar
150g unsalted butter, diced
8 eggs, beaten

Pour the lemon juice into a bowl set over a pan of simmering water and add the zest, sugar and butter. Stir until the sugar dissolves and butter melts.

Remove from the heat and whisk the eggs in quickly (you don’t want them to scramble).

Sit the bowl back on the pan and cook for 10-15 minutes, stirring constantly, until the curd is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon.

Pour into sterilised jars and leave to cool before covering. Keep refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.

Sunday 18 April 2010

Souper Sunny Sunday

OK, so today isn't quite the summers day yesterday turned out to be (here in Dublin at least), but I'm living in hope as it ain't over yet. Yesterday, we sipped away on pretty cups of refreshing Gazapcho in the glorious sunshine. Here's my quick, easy peasy and s(o)uper skinny recipe...


Makes 600ml

400g ripe tomatoes (about 4 medium)
125g cucumber (about a 1/3)
¼ small red onion
½ red pepper
½ red chilli, deseeded
1 small garlic clove
4-5 basil leaves
½ tsp sherry vinegar
pinch of caster sugar (optional)
¼ small red onion
½ red pepper
½ yellow pepper
1 small avocado, finely chopped
glug of extra virgin olive oil
handful of small mint leaves
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Simply roughly chop the tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, red pepper, chilli and garlic and place in a jug blender with the basil.  Blitz until really smooth. Season to taste with salt, pepper the sherry vinegar and a little sugar if necessary. The soup can be chilled at this point if you like.

For serving, very finely chop the red onion, red and yellow pepper and avocado. Pour the Gazpacho into serving bowls, cups or glasses and scatter some of the toppings over. Drizzle a little oil on top of each one and scatter the mint over. Serve any remaining toppings separately.

- You can pass the Gazpacho through a fine sieve if you prefer a smoother texture. Don’t forget you will yield less in this case though (about 450ml).
- Use canned tomatoes if fresh ones aren't very ripe.
- If you can’t get hold of sherry vinegar then use red wine vinegar or even lemon juice instead.
- Substitute the fresh chilli for dried flakes or Tabasco.
- Beef the soup up a little with a dash of Worcestershire sauce.
- Other fab toppings include crab meat or finely chopped prawns, some finely chopped chives, grated boiled egg, croutons or an ice cube for extra chill.
- Gazpacho is also delicious served with an oyster on the side.

Saturday 17 April 2010

No-Sew Lampshade

This is Lolla....She's a lamp with a bit of a history. She was found deserted and lonely in Oxfam Home. She was a cheap old thing really and feeling a bit worthless with a meagre price tag of €18. She's actually a bit of an old bird but you'd never know it since going under the knife with her extreme makeover...Here's her before shot...

I know....hard to imagine this was her in a past life.

Her transformation really was a no-sew operation. The first step was stripping her bare. I then simply ironed interfacing onto the back of my chosen spotty fabric. This helps to stop the edges from fraying and stiffens the fabric a little too. I cut the fabric into 3 centimetre wide strips which were a few centimetres longer than the height of the shade frame. With my trusty glue gun, I glued the bottom of one strip to the bottom of the frame, stretched it up tightly and glued it to the top also. I overlapped the layers as I went as the top of the shade was smaller than the bottom. The glue sets really quickly so this was really quick and easy to do.

I spray painted the stand in favourite refresher colour. And ta da....the first stage is done. She looked so pretty already...I love the way the fabric strips look like a pretty pleated skirt....but I wasn't finished yet...

I still haven't told you about my recent shopping escapades in New York....I'll come back to that....but I got to use some of my finds here already. Some painfully pretty ribbon and my all time favourite trim...pom poms!! Again, no sew...glue gunned on....easy peasy.

Death by Pom-Poms? Yes Please! Pom-Poms make me soooooo happy!

And then a final flourish....these are Lolla's customising accessories. The corsages are simply pinned on so she can change them whenever the mood fancies her.

Monday 12 April 2010

sugar and spice and all things nice...

Welcome to another corner of my crazed 'sleeping with the enemy' world. Organised food storage. Call me a diva, but I pretty much hate having to open and close kitchen cupboard doors. The boy isn't always necessarily around to do that for me so open shelving it had to be.

We have one big open shelf for all the best bits....the baking ingredients. These storage jars look so much prettier than stacks of packs, so I decant ingredients into them. It also makes it easy to find ingredients when speed baking. I stick a name label on any ingredients that are not so easily recognised, cutting it out from the packaging it came in and sticking on with tape. I also write the best before date on the bottom of anything that might not be used so often.

Hopefully I haven't scared you off too much just yet...last bit...To keep things in even more order, the shelf starts with dried fruits, nuts and seeds, moves onto flour etc, then sugars and finally other baking ingredients like vanilla pods, pudding rice & tapioca (yum yum), desiccated coconut & dessert spices.

Call me mad, but this is the kind of stuff that puts my world at peace! I might just save my spice storage reveal for another time then eh.

Thursday 8 April 2010

Lucious Lemon Lips

Are you still licking your lips from the Easter chocolate fest? Here's something to clean your palette and begin the come down.....and give you lucious lemon lips....


Granita is a really fun and easy spring and summer cooler. It’s also great served as an inbetween course at a dinner party and is sure to have your guests pulling lemon faces! For an even more bitter lemon flavour you could put the grated lemon rind in the pan with the juice and then strain it out when pouring the syrup into the pan. Oh, and a Granita is an Italian posh is that?! the word I mean. not the ice bit.

Juice of 6 lemons
200g caster sugar

Place the lemon juice and sugar in a medium pan and add 300ml of water. Bring slowly to the boil, stirring until the sugar dissolves and then simmer for 5 minutes. Pour into a wide container with a lid suitable for the freezer and leave to cool completely.

Cover tightly and freeze for about 5-6 hours. Stir every 15-20 minutes for the first couple of hours and then every 30 minutes for a further hour. This helps prevent large crystals forming. When ready to serve, scrape the granita up into shards and spoon into pretty glasses.

Sunday 4 April 2010

Easter Bunny Pies

Hopefully the Easter Bunny has been and you are currently bouncing around the place due to over-indulgence of all things sugary. We started early and have been nibbling on these yummy pies all week. They are actually the signature pies of my company, Blueberry Pie, which have been topped with mini-mini eggs for an Easter Bunny twist. I really wanted tiny mini eggs for these but didn't think I'd have any chance of finding them when I stumbled across them in Tesco's (own brand). Here's my not so secret recipe....(and check out my work blog for more Easter inspired posts).


Makes 24

225g plain flour
150g cold unsalted butter
75g icing sugar
1 egg
150g blueberries
25g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp cornflour
1 egg, beaten
1 tbsp icing sugar + extra for dusting
24 mini mini eggs
2 x 12 hole mini muffin tins, lightly greased

To make the pastry, blitz the flour and butter in a processor to fine crumbs. Whiz in the icing sugar for a second and then add the egg in. The mixture will come together into a dough ball within a few seconds. Shape it into a smooth, flat disc. Cover & refrigerate for about 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the filling. Tip the blueberries into a pan with the sugar and cinnamon and allow to cook gently for 6-8 minutes until they begin to pop. Blend the cornflour to a smooth paste with a tablespoon or two of water and stir through. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until jammy and then remove and leave to cool and thicken.

Back to the pastry, I usually divide the dough in half (one for each tray) to make it easier to manage and roll. Then from each piece cut out 12 discs with a 6.5cm straight sided cutter and also 12 with a 4.5cm fluted cutter. Refrigerate the pastry pieces for about 10 minutes until they firm up a little.

Preheat the oven to 180C. Use the large pastry discs to line the muffin tins, fill each one with a teaspoonful of the blueberry filling and then top with a smaller pastry disc. Brush the tops with the beaten egg to glaze and bake for 15-10 minutes until golden.

Leave to cool a little in the tin before easing out gently and leaving to cool completely (or not, if you can't wait!) on a wire rack. Meanwhile, blend the icing sugar with a 1/2 tsp of water to give a smooth paste. Use this as glue to stick a mini egg to the top of each pie. Dust with icing sugar and serve.

Obviously, you can make the full recipe and then refrigerate or freeze half of it to make some fresh pies another time.