On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves And a partridge in a pear tree.

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me two turtle doves and a partridge in a pear tree…

Orange and cinnamon shortbread biscuits

Today I present to you dove-shaped shortbread biscuits – while I am taking this mission seriously, doves will not be harmed during its course.

This is my take on a shortbread recipe from an old cookbook I found at my parents house; I have added orange and cinnamon for a festive touch and adapted the originals timings.

Cinnamon gives my ‘shortbread’ a darker colour and a crunchier texture, they are more ‘biscuity’ than the original recipe intends, but this is what makes them a tasty little sweet treat. Continue reading

The 12 Days of Christmas; more than just a festive song

In this old English carol, it seems the singer revels in reciting the list of elaborate presents their true love gives to them on each of the 12 days of Christmas, yet dig deeper and it is more than a tale of festive overspending.

It is said each line of this Christmas Carol has a hidden religious meaning and was written in the nineteenth century to help Christians understand their faith; for example two turtle doves represent the Old and New Bible testaments and four calling birds symbolise the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

This might not be breaking news for some of you, but it was news to me as I had previously hoped someone did receive five gold rings and 10 leaping Lords as Christmas gifts. Continue reading

Carrot and Cumin Soup

My culinary mojo seems to have disappeared over the last few months and there have been a few disasters including a gloppy pumpkin ravioli and a soggy bottomed apple tart Paul Hollywood would have raised an eyebrow at.

The easiest way to return to form is to get the basics right – in footballing terms keep a clean sheet and score a goal – and it was time to make a pot of soup, because (with the exception of a very peppery vegetable broth during the poor run) I make good soup.

Thankfully this carrot and cumin soup was a definite goal – a sentiment the husband agreed with as he returned for a second bowl. With the flavour of sweet carrot and smoky cumin this is the perfect soup to warm you up on a cold evening.

With one win under my belt and the festive period looming there will be ample opportunity to practice my pastry skills making mince pies and to make this a true tale of triumph over adversary I suppose the pasta maker will eventually have to come out of retirement …so stay tuned for a pumpkin ravioli recipe sometime soon!

Carrot and Cumin soup (recipe yields four good sized bowls)

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Ingredients

  • ½ an onion diced
  • 6 medium sized carrots
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 heaped teaspoon of cumin seeds (roughly crushed using a pestle and mortar)
  • 6-10 black peppercorns (roughly crushed using a pestle and mortar)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 litre of vegetable stock
  • 10 grams of butter
  • ½ cup of milk

Method

  • Melt the butter in a saucepan over a medium high heat. Add the cumin seeds, peppercorns and onion. Sauté for 3 to 4 minutes until the onions are soft.
  • Peel and chop the carrots and potatoes into chunks, add to the saucepan and reduce to a medium heat.
  • Mix the onion through the vegetables and sauté for a further 10-15 minutes.
  • Add the stock and simmer for a further 20 to 30 minutes until the vegetable are soft.
  • Allow the soup to cool slightly, use a blender to pulse the vegetables, creating a smooth and velvety mixture. Add 1/2 a cup of milk and adjust the seasoning to your liking.
  • Return the soup to the heat and warm through before serving.
  • Top tip: delicious with a slice of fresh wheaten bread!

 

 

Mini Toad in the Holes

Some people have called me a food snob and said that my rules are often contradictory; sweetcorn will never make my plate, yet baby corn is a stir fry favourite. Perhaps it is the child in me that dislikes the adult version or maybe my tastes are just very refined.

Another odd peculiarity is my dislike for battered sausages, the old chip shop darling. A battered sausage of this type will never cross my lips – it sounds a bit too violent or greasy for my food sensibilities – but I wouldn’t say no to Toad in The Hole. Continue reading

Tomato and Mascarpone pasta with a generous helping of basil

I am attempting to grow my own herbs with varying degrees of success and have struggled to find my green fingers.

Growing herbs simultaneously has proved difficult – basically they all wither and die – and I am now channelling my efforts into raising one little basil plant in its own individual pot. Continue reading

Smirnoff ‘over’ ice cocktail

Recently I threw a ‘baby gathering’ for my pregnant sister and for those not au fait with the term it is basically a less glamourous version of the ‘baby shower’ popularised in TV shows like Friends… sorry Louise.

Planning the menu for the lady carrying a baby was easy and I opted for the well trusted pizza and salad option, but the real difficulty came with deciding what drinks to serve. My usual offering on such occasions is wine or beer and at the risk of sounding like someone a bit too fond of the devils brew, soft drinks and orange juice seemed rather Puritanical. Continue reading

Basil, Fennel and Lemon Risotto; soft food for adults

For the past few weeks I have been on a ‘soft food diet’ which has consisted mostly of scrambled eggs, macaroni cheese, custard and ice-cream.

Now before you get excited at the prospect of eating lots of ice-cream, sadly this latest fad diet is the result of some extensive (and expensive) dental work and not a revolutionary new way to lose inches; daily desserts remain the enemy of the waistline. Continue reading

Savour the taste of ‘Spring’ with an off-season mince pie

Spring has sprung with flowers in bloom and brighter evenings, but the weather has stalled on making its seasonal switch from wintry to mild in this windswept corner of Europe.

Watching this morning’s news viewers are sharing pictures of snow scenes from North Wales and with it still very cold and wet for this time of year, it would seem the weather has forgotten it is mid-April.

Continue reading

Fish Of The Day: Pan Fried Cod With Mediterranean Vegetables

While it is rare to find a campaign that actively encourages eating fats, this month Seafish are promoting the health benefits of omega-3 fats described as the super fish oil.

Experts have long since heralded omega-3 fats as the ultimate brain food and Seafish, a UK public body which supports a sustainable fishing industry, has teamed up with ambassadors including TV Chef John Torode to encourage eating fish for healthy bones, skin, teeth and hair. Continue reading

Irish Potato Bread

The first month of 2016 has almost reached its conclusion and as we wave farewell to the January Blues I feel the time has come to ease up on my New Year resolution to ‘eat clean’.

Tourism Northern Ireland has designated 2016 a Year of Food and Drink and “celebration of everything delicious” about Irish cuisine. Each month has its own theme with January appropriately labelled Breakfast Month. Continue reading