Sunday, August 14, 2011

Off to Old Blighty!

It's that time of the year - I'm off to England tomorrow - I just can't wait to stand in the cool mist and gentle drizzle of the English countryside. Thanks to crazy schedules, in the next three weeks there is going to be a tremendous amount of take off and landings, there's always going to be one of us in mid air over the Atlantic - an alarming thought!   I'm planning on lots of "pub grub" and perhaps squeeze in a cream tea or two (let's hope I will be able to squeeze into my jeans on return.)

I don't expect to have much computer time - or access - so I don't think there will be any more posts until early September.  I will however try to leave comments on everyone's posts when possible.

I'm hoping for tons of inspiration from wonderful British dishes I have long forgotten about.

Wishing everyone a lovely rest of the summer and see you in September!

All the very best,
Mary oxo

Friday, August 12, 2011

I've been Tagged !

I was recently tagged by the lovely yummychunklet.wordpress. to play the 7 Link Challenge.  Here's how it works, you answer 7 questions (below) and pass on the Challenge to 5 other bloggers.  It's a lot of fun as you get to showcase several of your posts at once.

Here goes;

1.  The most beautiful post;

This was fun as I took out all the cream and loaded it up with Greek yogurt - I love fools (!) but wanted to make a slightly more up to date and healthier version.

2. The most controversial post;  happily none of my posts have been very controversial, but I did get a few questions and an opinion on;

3.  The most helpful post; I learnt that you can get a wonderful result baking a whole fish.  I prepared this for a large family party, I meant to poach it but this fish was such a whopper it didn't fit into any pan suitable for poaching.  In the end I rather savagely cut off its head and tail and baked it in the oven.  It was a huge success.

4.  The most surprisingly successful post was this;

I was surprised at the popularity of lentils - who knew?

5.  The post that didn't get the attention it deserved, I felt was;

It's such a great soup! so good for you and best of all tastes delicious - especially with a heaping of Parmesan.

6.  The most proud of post was - the salmon again - I was holding my breath the entire time it was cooking and worried about it all night before the party - there was not a flake left!

7.  The most popular post was;

A very recent post and I'm so glad it got a great reception as it tastes delicious and is perfect for a summer dessert.

Hope you enjoyed my selection - here are five inspired bloggers I'm passing on the challenge to, they have wonderfully creative blogs that I always enjoy reading.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Sabra Hummus Dip

The Foodbuzz Tastemakers team are running a program with Sabra Hummus, asking for original recipes using their products. We are great fans of hummus here.  With four daughters it's a fairly safe bet that someone is going through a vegetarian phase - so hummus is just the ticket.  It tastes delicious, goes with all vegetables known to man and is packed full of fiber and who knows how many vitamins and minerals. 

I decided I would try to enhance this already perfect dish by bumping up the flavors even more.  To keep in the Mediterranean theme I roasted a lovely big eggplant, a couple of garlic cloves in their skins and an onion.  Once they were cooked and cooled I added the hummus, some Greek yogurt, lemon juice and zest  and a handful of fresh herbs and gave it a quick blitz in the food processor.  Once it's ready to serve, you can drizzle a little olive oil on top and sprinkle with a few toasted pine nuts and more herbs. The result was delicious, it's great to nibble on with some warm pita bread and roasted or raw veggies.

1 cup of Sabra Hummus
1 eggplant
2-4 cloves of garlic (in their skins)
1 medium onion (quartered)
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
Harissa Spice
Zest and juice of a lemon
1 cup of plain Greek yogurt
Fresh herbs (I used oregano here)
Toasted pine nuts

Heat the oven to 425 F

Slice the eggplant in half length ways. 

Brush the flesh with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper and harissa spice.

Place in on a baking tray and roast for approximately 1 hour - or until soft and cooked through.

Remove from oven and leave to cool.

Place the hummus, yogurt, 1 tablespoon of chopped herbs, lemon zest and juice, salt and pepper into a the bowl of a food processor.

Scoop out the flesh of the eggplant, squeeze the garlic out of its skin and add the onion to the hummus mixture.

Use the pulse button to mix to a coarse mixture.

Check the seasonings.

Pour into a pretty serving bowl.

Toast the pine nuts, sprinkle on the top of the dip with a few more chopped herbs and a final drizzle of olive oil. 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Lemon Thyme Pound Cake with Marinated Strawberries and Mascarpone Cheese

The combination of lemon and thyme is so summery and it's fun to see the little flecks of thyme in the cake.  We are fortunate to have a pot overflowing with thyme in the garden - all I need now are a couple of lemon trees - I would LOVE that! 

1 stick of butter
1 cup of sugar
1 teaspoon of finely minced thyme leaves
Zest of 2 lemons
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups of all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Pinch of salt
1/3 cup of milk
Juice of 2 lemons
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

For the strawberries

16oz strawberries, hulled
1 teaspoon of sugar
Juice of a lemon
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract

Mascarpone Frosting

4 oz of mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon of confectioner's sugar (sifted)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 teaspoon of lemon zest

Heat the oven to 350F

Grease a   9 x 5 loaf pan.

Gently combine the strawberries, vanilla extract, sugar and lemon juice together.  Let sit for at least 30 minutes.

Measure out the flour, baking powder, soda and salt.

Pour the milk into a measuring jug and add the lemon juice so that you have 1/2 cup of liquid.  This essentially becomes buttermilk, it will look curdled but don't worry it will work beautifully in the cake!

Cream the butter and the sugar together with the thyme leaves and lemon zest.  This produces a lovely aroma as the lemon and thyme release their scent and oils.

When the mixture is light and fluffy, add the eggs one at a time. Scraping down after each addition.  Beat until fully incorporated.

Add half the flour mixture and mix gently to just combine.  Then add the liquid and the vanilla extract, mix very gently and finish off with the rest of the flour mixture.  Don't over beat.

Pour the mixture into the prepared loaf pan and pop in the oven for 40 - 50 minutes or until the cake is risen and golden.

Remove from the oven and cool for about 10 minutes.  Then take the cake out of the pan and cool thoroughly on a a baking rack.

When cool, sift a teaspoon of confectioner's sugar over the top of the cake.

To make the mascarpone frosting, gently stir together the mascarpone cheese, vanilla extract, lemon juice and confectioner's sugar.

To serve, cut a slice of cake, add a dollop of mascarpone cream and a tablespoon or two of marinated strawberries on top.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Godiva Chocolate Truffle Frappucino and Godiva French Vanilla Granita

The lovely people at Foodbuzz Tastemaker's sent me two 12oz bags of delicious Godiva coffee and asked that I make an iced coffee drink.  No problem.  Having four children I rely on coffee. I tried to give it up once but my entire family begged me to knock back a double espresso by about 10am on the first morning.

This lovely Godiva coffee came in two flavors, Chocolate Truffle (yum!) and French Vanilla (also yum). I must say I'm usually fairly conservative in my coffee ordering, a latte or cappuccino is about as far as I go.  However with this delicious coffee at my disposal and with the temperatures soaring yet again, I decided to go all out and make an "iced, mocha, frappucino."  Wow - I was glad I did.  The Godiva coffee made it sublime.

1 cup brewed Godiva coffee
1-2 tablespoons of Hershey's syrup (depending on your preference for sweetness)
A handful of ice cubes
1 tablespoon of Kahlua (optional)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Milk, half and half or heavy cream (depending on just how decadent you wish to be)
2 tablespoons of whipped cream

Brew the coffee
Pour into a blender
Add the Hershey's syrup and combine
Add the rest of the ingredients except the cream for topping
Blitz in the blender
Pour into a tall glass
Top with whipped cream, chocolate shavings and a sprig of mint

After consuming my frappucino I had lots of engery to concentrate on making a coffee granita.  Granita's are said to have originated in Sicily and can be made with all manner of flavorings. It's a great dessert for the summer months and very helpful as it will sit happily in the freezer until you're ready to serve it. 

2 cups brewed Godiva coffee
1/3 cup Hershey's syrup
1 tablespoon of Kahlua (optional)
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
Whipped cream for decoration

Brew the coffee and pour into a freezer proof bowl.

Add the Hershey's syrup, liquer if using and vanilla.

Stir to combine.

Place the blow into the freezer and leave for about an hour.

Remove and flake the ice with fork.

Return to the freezer and then remove every 1/2 hour for the next 4 hours to flake the ice that has formed.  You want to achieve gorgeous, golden coffee flavored flecks of ice.  Once the flecks have formed, they will stay this way and not freeze back into one great lump of ice, so you can leave it in the freezer until you're ready to serve.

Serve with whipped cream and a shaving of chocolate.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Rachel Allen's New Cookbook - Sole a la Meuniere and Spring Lamb Cutlets with Anchovey, Olive and Buttered Courgettes.

I was so excited the other day when I received an email telling me about a new cookbook from Rachel Allen, the lovely Irish TV chef.  I've always enjoyed Rachel's cooking, it's delicious, down to earth and her recipes work!  She is teaming up with Kerrygold (the butter people) to create a community cookbook. There will also be recipes submitted by home cooks and they asked me to submit some of my recipes to possibly be included. I got all excited but sadly this competition is only open to UK residents, which sadly I'm not.  Anyway, they were so sorry for me that they very kindly sent along a couple of recipes Rachel had created especially for the cookbook and asked if I would post them.  A sort of sneak preview - no problem!

For more information on the Kerrygold, delicious recipes and to enter a recipe to the Kerrygold Community Cookbook please visit

This recip-e book will be available for download in October - can't wait.

Grilled Spring Lamb Cutlets with Anchovy, Olive and Buttered Courgettes.

 Serves 4

2 tbsp olive oil·        
12 lamb cutlets·        
Salt and pepper

For the flavoured butter:·        
125g (4 ½ oz) Kerrygold butter, softened·        
1 tbsp parsley, chopped·        
 2 anchovies, chopped·        
 10 capers, chopped·        
 6 black olives, pitted and chopped·        
 A squeeze of lemon juice

For the buttered courgettes:·        
25g (1oz) Kerrygold butter·        
2 medium courgettes·        
Salt and ground black pepper


1.   In a bowl, mix together all ingredients for the flavoured butter.  Next, lay out a piece of baking parchment or cling film.  Spoon the butter mixture on top of the parchment or cling film in to a rough sausage shape, then use the parchment or cling film to roll the butter into a log about 2.5cm (1in) in diameter. Place in the fridge and keep chilled until needed. 

 2.       To cook the cutlets, drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.

3.       Place a griddle pan or frying pan on a high heat and allow to get quite hot, then add the cutlets and cook for 2–4 minutes on each side depending on how well done you like them. Take them off the heat, and allow to rest for a few minutes as you cook the courgettes.

4.       To cook the courgettes, first peel them, then slice in half lengthways and remove and discard the soft inner seeds. Next carefully cut the flesh into 1cm (½in) cubes or slices.

5.       To cook, place a frying pan on a high heat. Once hot, add the Kerrygold butter and when the butter has melted tip in the courgette pieces.

6.       Sauté for 2–3 minutes until just softened, tossing regularly, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

7.       To serve, cut a few slices of your flavoured butter, about 1cm thick, and place a slice on each lamb chop then serve immediately with the buttered courgettes.

Sole a la meuniere:

Serves 2 


50g (2oz) Kerrygold butter, softened·        
2 tbsp plain flour·        
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley·        
1 tbsp finely chopped chives·        
Salt and pepper·        

2 skinned fillets of sole·        
A small squeeze of lemon juice


1.       Sift the flour onto a large plate and season with salt and pepper. 

 2.       Pat the fish fillets dry with kitchen paper and lay in the flour, dusting each side with a light coating. 

3.       Spread half of the Kerrygold butter over the top of the fish.

4.       Place a large frying pan on a medium heat and place the fish, buttered side down, into the pan and gently fry for 2-3 minutes until a nutty golden brown in colour.  Carefully turn over and cook for a further 2-3 minutes on the other side.

5.       Lift the fish out and place on warm serving plates. 

6.       Add the remaining Kerrygold butter to the pan and, once melted and frothing, add the parsley, chives and lemon juice and stir everything together. 

7.       Cook for 10-15 seconds on a high heat and then spoon the sauce over the fish.

8.       Serve immediately.

Rachel’s Tip:  This dish is delicious with some boiled potatoes and a simple green salad.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Almost Ina's Gazpacho and a Winner!

The winner of the Cath Kidston Apron Giveaway is .....Kitchen Bellicious!! Congratulations and I hope you love it.

On to the tomato situation in the garden which is getting out of control.  They are simply delicious but there's a limit on how many you can eat a day.  My husband suggested Gazpacho which I thought was inspired.  I think Gazpacho should have a kick to it and be a little on the chunky side.  I found Ina Garten's recipe and worked with it.  As I have mentioned a couple of times, I love Ina and think she's a genius.  However, I did change her recipe a tad, in some respects out of necessity and in others because it felt right my way!  The end result was wonderful, even the ten year old liked it, although she did eat it with tortilla chips.


1 1/2 English cucumbers, seeded and chopped
8 tomatoes, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
3 red peppers, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 cup of olive oil
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
salt and pepper
3 cups of tomato juice
1 tablespoon of Lea and Perrins Worcestershire Sauce
A generous handful of fresh basil, chopped

Chop all the vegetables to a dice, by hand or in the food processor.  I find that although it takes longer by hand you do end up with a  more uniform result. 

Place all the veggies and minced garlic into a large bowl.

Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, tomato juice, salt and pepper.

Add to the veggies and combine.

Add half the basil.  Place the bowl into the fridge and leave to chill for at least a couple of hours.

Just before serving, remove from fridge, stir, check seasoning and add the remaining basil.