Monthly Archives: November 2018

Christmas Tear ‘n’ Share Soda Bread

This little number is scheduled for breakfast on the morning of Christmas Eve. Straight from the oven, it’s fabulous on it’s own or with a festively unhealthy slathering of fridge-cold butter. The lovely Christmas fruit and spices work wonderfully in this sweet bread that is ridiculously easy to make.

What you need…

1 x baking tray, dusted with flour

350g plain flour

½ teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

25g golden caster sugar

½ teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon mixed spice

1 teaspoon cinnamon powder

30g pitted dates, chopped

30g dried cranberries

30g sultanas

30g raisins

30g pecans/walnuts, chopped

300ml buttermilk

½ tablespoon vanilla bean paste

A sprinkling of candied peel

A sprinkling of demerara sugar

A sprinkling of icing sugar, for decoration

What to do…

Preheat your oven to 200˚c / 400˚f / gas 6.

In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, bicarbonate of soda, sugar, salt, spices and fruit.

Mix the vanilla paste into the buttermilk and then pour the whole lot into the dry ingredients. Use a spatula to bring the ingredients together to create a dough.

Tip the dough out into the centre of your baking tray and use floured hands to roughly flatten it out a bit into a circle. Use your spatula to cut the dough into even slices, making sure you cut all the way through (the number of slices is up to you).

Sprinkle with candied peel and demerara sugar and pop into the oven for 30 minutes.

Remove from the oven and leave the bread on the baking tray for 10 minutes before sprinkling with icing sugar. Pop your Christmas soda bread onto a festive plate and put in the middle of the table for much tearing and sharing!

Tip…

If you can’t get buttermilk, mix full fat milk with 3 tablespoons lemon juice instead.

Inspired by…

I watched Nadiya Hussain make a chocolate soda bread recently and substituted the chocolatey ingredients for Christmassy ones – had to make a couple before I got the recipe just right but we persevered (tough job – someone had to do it!!!!)

How easy…

Dead easy and really quick. For a bread it requires very little attention.

 

Bacon and Black Pudding Pasta with Scrumptious Ginger, Palm Sugar and Cream Sauce

We eat A LOT of pasta, but when I dished this one up, our son, Connagh, declared it as the best pasta he had ever tasted (he’s a 19-year old foodie, so his gastronomic opinion counts). How to describe it…..the sauce has a delightful, tangy sweetness that works spectacularly well in contrast to the earthy richness of the black pudding. I think it might also be slightly addictive: once the first mouthful passes your lips, you simply yearn for more!!!! What more can I say: try it and let me know!!!!!

Serves 4

What you need…

2 baking trays, foil-lined

8 rashers unsmoked streaky bacon

200g black pudding, chunkily sliced

Your favourite shaped dried pasta

for the sauce

50g fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced

75ml water

2 cloves

50g palm sugar

300ml double cream

200g baby spinach

What to do…

Starting with the sauce, pop the ginger into a large saucepan with the water and cloves. Bring to the boil and then turn down and simmer until the liquid has reduced by half. Remove the cloves and add the sugar and dissolve. Tip into your food processor/blender and whizz until the ginger is reduced to small chunks.

Return the ginger mixture to the saucepan, pour in the cream, chuck in the spinach, whack on the lid and set aside.

Spread the bacon around on 1 baking tray and use the other for the black pudding. Pop the bacon in the oven and cook until crispy (15-20 minutes). Pop the black pudding in at the same time but cook for only 10 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes. Once cooked, remove both from the oven and set aside.

Meanwhile, cook your pasta in salted boiling water, according to the packet instructions.

When your pasta is nearly cooked, break up the bacon into little pieces and likewise, cut the black pudding into chunks.

Heat your saucepan of sauce over a moderate-high heat and stir whilst the cream warms up and the spinach wilts. Transfer the pasta into the sauce, tip in the black pudding and mix gently but thoroughly together.

Serve in warmed bowls and scatter the crispy bacon over the top. Absolutely bloody gorgeous!

Inspired by…

Most of the essential ingredients were inspired by a James Martin scallops-led recipe! Needless to say, from that inspiration, there has been quite a bit of mental mucking about for me to come up with this! Some people dream of holidays and other grand schemes; me: I wake up with recipes dancing around my head!

How easy…

So very, very easy and so spectacularly gorgeous!

 

Winter Pasta Sauce of Chicken Livers and Bacon, Port and Red Wine

This gutsy version of the traditional ragu is a fabulous combination of a rich sweetness provided by the port, perfectly balancing the silky, complex, intense flavour of the rosy-pink chicken livers. A definite favourite in this house, it’s the type of comforting dish you want to come home to on a cold, blowy Winter’s day – delicious! Oh, and the photograph doesn’t do it justice!!!!

Serves 4 hungry people

What you need…

A splash of olive oil

5 rashers of streaky bacon, roughly chopped

150g onions, chopped

2 bay leaves

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

150g minced beef

1 tablespoon tomato paste

75ml port

75ml red wine

Sea salt and black pepper

Knob of butter

125g chicken livers, roughly chopped

Freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

Your favourite pasta (choose a shape that collects lots of sauce!)

What to do…

Pour the olive oil into a large saucepan over a high heat and tip in the bacon, cooking and occasionally stirring for a couple of minutes until golden and crispy.

Use a slotted spoon to remove the bacon to kitchen paper. Turn the oil in the pan down to moderate and add the onions, cooking and stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or so, until soft and only slightly golden.

Return the cooked bacon to the pan together with the bay leaves, garlic, minced beef, tomato paste, port and red wine. Season with salt and pepper and bring to the boil before reducing the heat and simmering for 15-20 minutes or until the liquid has almost completely evaporated.

Meanwhile, cook your favourite pasta, following the packet instructions.

Melt the butter in a frying pan over a moderate heat, add the chicken livers and cook, stirring occasionally, for 2-4 minutes or until they have browned but are still pink in the middle. Tip them into the mince mixture and cook for 1 minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Splash in about 75ml of the pasta cooking water into the mince mixture and then drain the rest. Tip the drained pasta into your delectable, gutsy sauce and serve with lots of freshly grated Parmesan over the top. A glass of red wine wouldn’t go amiss either – wonderful!

Inspired by…

Rachel Allen

How easy…

Very easy and so rewarding!