Archives for category: bake

I have n’t been very good at this blogging thing. It seems I need an outlet to rant more then a way to share what I cook!
I started this blog with the intention of weaving my stories and life through what I cook and feed my family. But honestly the last two years have been really tough and I had living it was difficult enough. It seems like we are still struggling. I wrote about some of those difficult times but they never got published – who wants to read a moan blog? But something has to change and I think on this wet cold blustery morning that perhaps my reality or me sharing my reality may help me deal with the changes that I need to make in my life. In turn they may help another.

We do not have an extravagant lifestyle and have stripped everything back to the bare minimal. I know we are not the only ones finding it hard to make the salary meet the end of the month. But it does n’t help when you have to borrow money off your kids so you can head out the door to work. It does n’t help when you want to take the family somewhere like to the Tall Ships event in Dublin that you are all looking forward to and then you can’t afford to go.

What year are we leaving in 1975? My childhood? No 2012 my reality. I think that’s the biggest piece its so disappointing to be struggling financially and not making ends meet. In the 70’s and 80’s I remember what it felt like not having enough. I thought myself and my husband had moved beyond that.

So what do you do? Have you ever felt like that – what do you do?
Well I go walking to try and deal with the stress or I look in the fridge and press and bake. Yesterday it was soda bread pizza and short change short bread.

Shortbread is one of those things that is simple, easy and quick to make. When I was a teenager I hung around with twins their mother would always have a tray of shortbread emerging from the oven as a gang of us descended on her house. The warm buttery crumble dry sweet biscuit was always delicious. Major kudos in our teenage minds.

Over the years I have tried several recipes. I like Rose Elliot’s version from her recent tome New Complete Vegetarian on page 362. But I like a mix of rice flour as an addition to her flour and cornflour mix. I know some non wheat cooks that only use rice flour when making shortbread and it is possible to make it with a butter substitute like Pura, soya or sunflower.

Most of all it is easy to make by hand and here go try it.


250g Butter, softened

100g caster sugar

150g plain flour

100 rice flour

100g cornflour

Oven 150 degrees.

A Swiss roll tin is the best, grease it lightly. If you use a longer tray only press out the shortbread to three quarters length.

Cream the butter and sugar together. Put all the dry ingredients in and mix but don’t over mix.

Press the dough into the tin covering the base evenly. Prick the dough with a fork and sprinkle some sugar over the top.

Bake for 18-22 minutes.

Leave to cool slightly and then cut into squares, diamonds or slender fingers. A little goes along way.


Half a red cabbage
2 eating apples cored and cubed
1 red onion
100 gms of fresh cranberries
250 mls turkey stock (use chicken or vegetable stock if no turkey stock unavailable)
small glass of mulled wine optional can be replaced with read wine or just leave it out
¼ teaspoon of fennel seeds
Bunch of fresh thyme

Oven 180 C.

Thinly slice the red cabbage, chop the onion and cube the apple. Then layer it into the dish add the stock, herbs and put it into the oven. The fennel adds a slightly different flavour at this time of year which I think works very well with the dish and turkey.

If you are cooking a turkey put it in the same oven 30 minutes before the bird is schedule to be finished cooking. If there is no room in the oven this dish can also be simmered slowly in a pot on top of the cooker hob.
Check 10 minutes to end of cooking and stir – sometimes when I make this I include 2 cloves of crushed garlic at this stage but its an extra the dish does not really need. I include it at this cooking point the flavour is fresher.

My Cookmakebake festive baked red cabbage  and cranberries dish reheats really well the next day which means you can cook it a day ahead or its a great one for left overs. Plus yeah I like it in a turkey sandwich too!

Its very easy to make this a vegetarian option by not using turkey stock.

Note: There is no fat or oil used in the recipe, it does n’t need it.

The apples in this recipe were from the bottom of the fruit bowl, a great way to use em up! But I think apples and red cabbage are a match made for each other. Don’t peel the apples the extra dietary fibre is useful in the diet at this time of year.  

I started to make white soda bread pizza again last week and made an extra batch sans pizza topping into scones. I vary how I make the soda bread sometimes if son#3 excema is really bad I’ll make it with spelt and soya milk. Otherwise I’ll mix it as follows


1lb white flour
3/4 teaspoon bread soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
360ml buttermilk (or more often I’ll use plain yogurt mixed with milk)

Set the cooker to 220 C.
Mix all the dry ingredients together. You can sieve it if you like but I don’t. Have a floured tray ready to go in the oven.
Make a well in the center of the dry ingredient and pour in the buttermilk. Mix until just brought together. Knee the dough three or four times only. The less handling the better. Flour the surface and tip the dough on to it. You can roll it flat and using cutters make scones*. Remember the size of the cut shape will influence the cooking time. The bread will make a hollow sound when tapped underneath when it is cooked. Cool on a wry rack. Be warned eating the bread hot from the oven with melted butter and homemade jam is delicious but can induce stomach cramps.

This is a great recipe to let children help with. They really enjoy getting the ingredients, weighing, mixing, getting the dough rolled out and using different cookie cutters to shape out scones. The more they play with it the tougher it becomes but in my experience they are so happy to eat their creations it won’t matter to them.

*I used to do that now I make into a long narrow loaf shape keeping it tall and narrow so I get two rows on the tray.Then using a good knife I cut the dough 3/4 of the way down to make smaller rolls. They cook together but are marked so are easy to break off and give nice open white bread sides with a nice soft crust on top and bottom.  These take about 12 minutes to cook in the oven. I usually turn them after 9 minutes. But you will start to smell them being cooked and filling the kitchen with the wonderful aroma of fresh bread.

I had forgotten how much the whole family love fresh white soda bread. It also solved some school lunch box dilemmas.

This is a great recipe for variations here are some I make:

Soda bread pizza. Before you mix the dry & wet ingredients have the following ready to go. Your choice of tomato sauce, grated cheese, oregano. You can use a passata about 250ml, add salt, pepper, 1tsp mixed herbs, large crushed clove of garlic and  mix well. Otherwise I recommend Bunalun, Tomato and Vegetable Sauce is excellent and tastes pretty much like my homemade tomato sauce. As a rule I don’t buy ready made pasta sauces as I find them too sweet or too oily. For the cheese my kids prefer cheddar but for grown up pizza soft goats cheese has featured. Make the soda bread, roll out flat, place on a floured tin tray. Using a spoon cover the base with tomato sauce. Sprinkle grated cheese over and finally some oregano. Put in the oven and set the timer for 7 minutes. Turn the pizza and set for another five minutes. When cooked the smell is delicious and it lifts off the tray easily. Remove to a rack. Slice, serve and enjoy.
This is a great recipe for children’s parties and teenage hangout sessions.

Herby bread scones. Add 1 teaspoon of a mixed herbs into the dry ingredients and mix well then continue as above. Would be excellent severed with soup or some nice hard cheese like an Ardsallagh.

Olive flat bread. Add 2 tablespoons of sliced black olives into the weighed wet ingredients and mix well. Add to the dry and continue as above. Roll this out flat to fill the tray and bake in one piece as a tear and share bread or cut into squares. Start to check after six minutes.

Cheats focaccia. Roll the white soda bread out flat about 2cm think. Impress your thumb print on it and put sprigs of fresh rosemary into each. Sprinkle with sea salt flakes. Drizzle olive oil over the dough. Pop into the oven. I love this with a bowl of spinach soup.

Cinnamon Bread

Good coffee and a tasty bread

I was just going to link to Nigella Lawsons Norwegian Cinnamon Bread but annoyingly it is not on her site however I did find the recipe posted on Paris Pastry with fine photos to match.

The liquid ingredients melted butter, 2 eggs and milk should equate to 500ml. Use good strong white flour or Spelt flour it does make a difference. I also add a 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and double the amount of cinnamon.

If you live in a dairy free house use Pura (available from good health food stores or suppermarkets) and soya milk.

In our house as per son #1 the recent teenager the more cinnamon the better.

1lb white flour
3/4 teaspoon bread soda
1/2 teaspoon of salt
350ml soya milk (or mix soya yougurt with soya milk)

Set the cooker to 220 C.
Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Make a well in the center.
Pour in the soya and mix until just brought together.
Knee the dough three or four times only.
Roll out onto a lightly floured surface.

Cut into rounds, squares or roll out flat and use as a base for pizza or flat bread.
Lightly flour a tin tray and place in the oven for 15 minutes.

I often shape this into a long loaf and then cut it up and cook the bread producing perfect size small bread rolls for lunch or breakfast.

Replace the white flour with Spelt the wholewheat spelt is particularly good.

This is based on a party starter where you bake tomatoes with garlic, herbs, olive oil and rounds of soft goats cheese to a melting deliciousness. Served with chunks of bread to dip into and enjoy.
But it was last Friday night after a long hard week. I’m was exhausted. I wanted some thing wholesome. No meat but goats cheese, chickpeas or just veg?

1 Aubergine
1 courgette [zucchini]
1 small red pepper
2 small/medium red onions
4 large cloves of garlic
500ml Passata
6 sundried tomatoes
8 pieces of dried porcini mushrooms
1 can of chickpeas
3 table spoons sliced black olives
4 large potatoes
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
1 tablespoon of olive oil
good grist of black pepper

Set oven to 200C.

Boil the kettle . Place the dried porcini mushrooms and sundried tomatoes into 300ml of boiling water from the kettle for 15 minutes.
Cube aubergine, courgette and pepper and place into a large deep casserole dish. Quarter the onions, crush the garlic and add them along with herbs to the dish mixing well to coat everything.
Add the passata and stir well.

Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes.

Drain and reserve the liquid from the mushrooms and sundried tomatoes. Discard the mushrooms. Chop the sundried tomatoes.
Open the can of chick peas, drain and rinse.
Peel the potatoes and cube. In a bowl coat the potatoes with olive oil and grist of black pepper.
After twenty five minutes remove the vegetables, stir and add the chickpeas, reserved liquid, sundried tomatoes, black sliced olives. Stir once more. Place the potatoes on top of the dish and place back in the oven cook for a further 45 minutes or until the potatoes are cooked and nicely browned.

Vegetarian Friday night comfort cooking

Friday night one dish bake bliss.

Serve with a fresh green salad dressed with lemon juice and a splash of olive oil.