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     As soon as the Christmas decorations are down it's time to start thinking about Marmalade!  In January Seville oranges come to Ir...


Who can resist a pancake?

   Today was Shove Tuesday and I cooked pancakes in Brennan's shop in Oliver Plunkett Street in Cork. The traditional filling of butter lemon & sugar went down best. Nutella filled pancakes were also very popular.

   To my surprise the buttermilk 'pancakes' came a close second. These are a thicker batter, cooked more like a drop scone or pikelet. I like them best with crisp streaky rashers and some medlar jelly or maple syrup. Stewed berries go well with them too.  
   Here is the buttermilk pancake recipe.

Buttermilk pancakes
300g self raising flour
50g sugar
½ tsp salt
2 eggs
300ml buttermilk
50g butter melted
butter for frying

   Sift the flour into a mixing bowl and add the sugar and salt.
 Break the eggs into the flour and start to whisk gently drawing more and more flour in until thick. Whisk in the buttermilk to make a thick batter. You might not need it all or you may need some extra, depending on how thick the buttermilk is.
  Heat a frying pan on a medium heat and melt the 50g of butter and whisk the melted butter into the batter.
Make the pancakes by spooning 3tbs of batter onto the frying pan together to make a thick pancake about 8cm in diameter. Cook till dry on top and then flip over and cook until golden on the other side.

  Add some more butter and continue to make the pancakes.
If your frying pan is big enough you can do 2-3 at a time, putting the earlier ones in a warm oven and covering them, until the rest are cooked.
  Serve with crisp bacon and maple syrup or stewed berries.


Quick Meal!!?

           I left supper in the hands of my 2 teenagers yesterday and came home to find them making ‘Beef Casserole’ with striploin steaks! I was not subtle in my response, I freaked. I banished them from the kitchen for 15 minutes while I listened to The Archers and collected my thoughts.
          The steak was unlabeled, my fault and how were they to know.
So we had this stir-fry instead. And the vegetables they had started became the basis of a ragu for lasagne tonight.
           Next time I’ll leave more detailed instructions.

Beef Stir-fry With Noodles
This is a basic stir-fry; swap the beef for any lean quick frying meat, tofu, cashew nuts or prawns. The carrots can also be swapped for whatever vegetable is around, peppers, mushrooms, bean sprouts or bamboo shoots. I like to add some Sichuan pepper instead of the chilli. About a teaspoonful crushed is enough.
If you do not want to get chilli oil onto your fingers use a fork to hold the chilli steady while you chop it.
This is a starting point, experiment, find what suits you, enjoy!

1 large onion
3 cloves of garlic
2 cm ginger
1 chilli
1 large carrot
2 striploin steaks
4tbs vegetable oil
1-2 sheets of Chinese noodles
3tbs soy sauce
1 level tsp corn flour
100ml approx water
3 scallions
small bunch of coriander

Peel and slice the onion finely. Peel and slice the garlic. Peel and cut the ginger into narrow strips. Slice the chilli.
Peel the carrot and cut it into 3cm x 0.5cm strips.
Trim the fat from the meat and cut it into short narrow strips.
Cook the noodles according to the instructions on the packet and drain well. Keep them warm.
Mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce with the corn flour and water in a cup or jug.
Slice the scallions and chop the coriander and reserve for the garnish at the end.
Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or frying pan over a high heat till shimmering.
Add the onions, garlic, ginger and chilli to the hot oil. Stir-fry till softening. Keep them moving to reduce the risk of burning. Remove the onion etc to a warm bowl and add 2 more tablespoons of oil to the wok and let it heat up again. When hot add the strips of meat and leave them for a minute before turning them with the spatula. Add the carrots and stir-fry them with the meat.
Return the onions etc to the wok and mix well with the beef and carrots.
Give the soy sauce mixture a stir and pour it into the wok keep stirring and mixing while it cooks and thickens. If it is too thick add more boiling water, too thin let it boil and reduce for a minute or two.
Taste and add the remaining soy sauce or more if it needs it and some pepper.
Add the noodles to the wok and mix well leave for a minute to heat through.
Sprinkle with the chopped scallions and coriander and then serve.
Serves 2-4, this will serve 2 as a good main course or 4 as part or a meal with other elements. It served the 3 of us perfectly.

Panna Cotta
A touch of sweet dessert.
This needs to chill, but if you use chilled ramekins it will set sooner. I use this quantity to make 6 small ones. It would make 4 generous helpings. I tweeted a version of this recipe last night, I hope it went down well.

1 vanilla pod split in half length ways
400ml cream
2 sheets gelatine (Lidl, about 4g)
3tsp caster sugar

Heat the cream together with the split vanilla pod to boiling and turn off the heat. Leave to stand for 5 minutes, while you soak the gelatine in some cold water.
Take the gelatine out and put it into a small pot with some of the cream and heat it very gently until the gelatine has melted. Add the sugar to this some and stir till dissolved. Add more of the cream to the sugar and gelatine and then pour it all back on to the cream and vanilla mixture. 
Line ramekins with cling film and strain the mixture in to them. The seeds will sink to the bottom.
Leave them to set in a cold place.
Rinse the vanilla pod and leave it to dry, when it is dry put it into a jar of sugar and it will flavour the sugar.
Makes 4-6.