Category Archives: Mad Hatter on Food

Food food, glorious food!!! Old Recipes & New One’s…have a look.

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There’s something heart-warming and homely about a freshly baked pie, whether it’s the aroma of buttery pastry that appeases my soul and fills my kitchen, or the time and effort that was put into making it.  Everybody Loves a piece of pie!

This recipe is extremely versatile and allows you to make use of fresh seasonal fruits.

Nothing beats juicy plump cherries.  Sweet and sticky, adding voluptuousness  –  a slice of this pie is simply sinful!

Cherry Crumb Pie

INGREDIENTS

225g Butter

150g Marzipan, grated (Keeping the marzipan in the fridge makes it easier to grate)

100g Caster-sugar

400g Self-raising flour

1 Medium egg

400g Cherries, stoned and halved

250g Black cherry and vanilla soft jam

Icing sugar, for dusting

METHOD

Melt the butter and leave to cool.

Place in a large bowl together with the marzipan, caster-sugar, flour and egg.

Mix well with an electric beater until a crumbly dough is formed.

Grease a 23cm diameter pie tin.

Put two-thirds of the crumble dough in the pie tin and press into the base and halfway up the sides.

Place in the fridge to chill for 30 minutes, together with the remaining crumble dough.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Blind bake the pie base for 10 minutes.

Mix the cherries and jam and spread in the pie base.

Sprinkle the remaining of the crumble dough evenly over the top and bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown.

Dust with icing sugar.

Best served hot or cold with a good dollop of fresh cream.

Savour every crumb … and don’t forget to have a second helping – cherries are packed full of anti-oxidants which are good for you!

Served hot or cold ….. a little slice of heaven

Cherry Crumb Pie

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Charismatic Carrot Cake

My quintessential afternoon tea would be held in a lush green garden, with the smell of blooming flowers dancing on a refreshing breeze in the warmth of a summer sun.

An impeccable presented table, boasting the finest bone china, a beautiful bouquet of freshly cut flowers and delectable treats. Yes the romance of the old ritual of afternoon tea certainly does leave one longing for the beauty and grace of old times.

Take away the beauty of the appearance of this exquisite ritual and you are left with two key ingredients – a good quality tea and a tempting treat.

I know that for the majority of people, an afternoon tea would be incomplete without a freshly baked fluffy plump scone, lavishly smothered in clotted cream with a serving of sweet strawberry jam and accompanied by a strong cup of tea.

As an experimental foodie, I get great pleasure experimenting with the flavour combinations of food and drink. Although I admire tradition, I am quite comfortable in changing tradition and it was only natural that while sitting down to an afternoon tea a few days ago, instead of exploring the textures and savouring the taste of my freshly baked scones, I began to think of a replacement for the traditional fluffy scone.

I was looking for the perfect replacement and it came as no surprise that I thought of the charismatic carrot cake.

Enduring to the eye, this light, moist little number was just the treat I was looking for.What better way to make the most of your afternoon tea time, than to sit and savour the delicate textures of the carrot cake.  The combination of sweet moist cake, with subtle hints of cinnamon and cloves, creates a flavour explosion that will warm you up all the way to your toes.  Not to mention the crunch of walnuts together with the creamy lemon-vanilla topping – simply excites me!

To make for an even more exotic flavour feast, why not try a cup of warm, soothing chai latte. Rich in antioxidants and distinctly different for an afternoon tea beverage.

If like me, you want something different for your afternoon tea, this delicious moist carrot cake recipe is a must – Enjoy!

CARROT CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE TOPPING

INGREDIENTS

325ml Sunflower Oil

250ml Light Brown Sugar

125ml White Sugar

4 Eggs

500ml Cake Flour

10ml Bicarbonate of Soda

2.5ml Salt

10ml Cinnamon

1ml Ground Cloves

5ml Vanilla Essence

500ml Grated Carrots

50g Chopped Walnuts

CREAM CHEESE TOPPING

125ml Light Cream Cheese

5ml Vanilla Essence

10ml Lemon Juice

1 Tablespoon Softened Butter

375ml Icing Sugar

METHOD

Preheat oven to 180ºC

Beat the oil, brown sugar, white sugar and eggs for 2 min.

Add the sifted flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt, cinnamon, ground cloves and vanilla essence and mix well.

Add the grated carrots and chopped nuts and mix well.

Spoon mixture in a greased ring pan and bake for ± 45 minutes until done.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly in pan.

Once cooled, remove from pan and leave to cool completely before icing.

CREAM CHEESE TOPPING

Mix together the cream cheese, vanilla essence, lemon juice and butter.

Gradually add the icing sugar and mix until smooth.

Store in refrigerator until ready to ice the cake.

Once the cake has been iced, sprinkle the top with whole walnuts.

Charismatic Carrot Cake

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The skies were dark, the wind was howling, I looked out onto the street in front of our little house and not a soul in sight.  I jumped back into bed and decided that I was not getting back out again today!  After much sulking, I decided that I would have to get up.  Unimpressed and dressed like a Eskimo, I headed down stairs.  Realising that my mood was not the best (and the weather was partly to blame for this) I decided to have a cup of ambition to get me started.  Now I am sure that there are people out there, who feel my suffering.  I just can not function properly without my morning cup of coffee.  It is the only cup that I will drink for the day but I simply can not wake up properly without one.

While my brain was working at a million miles an hour, contemplating what to do on this typical Irish rainy day, I pondered on what to have for breakfast.  Yes I am a huge breakfast fan.  A food fan in general, but I love my breakfast.  It is such an important meal to start the day and eating the right power foods can really get those brain cells working and I need every working cell I can get!

As I rummaged through the kitchen cupboards, it started to look like a full Irish breakfast was on the cards. I knew that my Fiancé would be a happy man! But I continued to search the cupboards, simply because I was being lazy and the thought of standing over a stove for longer than 10 minutes this morning was deeply depressing.  It was at this time, that I found an old-time favourite.

Good old-fashioned Irish oats.

The cold rainy dark day outside, begged me to make something warm, creamy and nourishing and this was it!  It was as if it was sent from the gloomy skies above!

Not only is oats such a simple and quick breakfast dish to make, it beats the spattering of oil, from frying those eggs and the health benefits are tremendous. This humble heart-warming favourite, aids in lowering bad cholesterol and makes for a happy heart, it is also packed full of fibre which is beneficial for improved intestinal health. As an added treat, I add a tablespoon of bran a few blueberries, a dash of cinnamon and a generous spoonful of honey and l have a wholesome hearty breakfast.

Irish Oats

Serves 1 person

Ingredients

3 Tablespoons Irish Oats

1 Tablespoon Irish Bran

270ml Milk

Pinch of salt

Sprinkle of cinnamon

Method

Put oats and bran into a small pot.  Add the milk and over a moderate heat, bring to the boil.  Stirring continuously ensuring that it does not stick to the bottom of the pot.  When the oats starts boiling, add the pinch of salt and cinnamon.

Reduce the heat and continue to stir for 1-2 minutes.

Spoon oats into a porridge bowl and add a generous handful of blueberries and a spoonful of honey.

For a slightly more indulgent breakfast, every once in a while why not use half cream and half milk.  The creaminess caresses your taste buds and sets you straight for a great day!

Enjoy your hearty wholesome breakfast!!

Heart healthy oats

Old fashioned oats

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I woke up to the sun streaming through the blind of the bedroom window, which is an unusual sight for an early winters morning in Ireland.  The glistening sunshine made me feel alive with energy and although it did not inspire me to go on an early morning walk, it did however make me feel that lying in bed on such a beautiful morning would be very unproductive.  With this lust for life, I leaped to the kitchen.  Whilst sipping a freshly brewed cup of coffee, I stared into the back yard and I decided to surprise my Fiancé with a fresh batch of his favourite bran muffins. Not only could he eat an entire batch, but the aromatic aroma that fills the entire house is a sure way of getting him out of bed and drawing him to the kitchen!

The beauty of these blissful bran muffins is that you can prepare the mixture the night before – ideal if you don’t have much time on your hands in the morning!  All you have to do in the morning is pop them into the oven.

Blissful Bran Muffins

Ingredients

185 g Plain Flour

1 Teaspoon Ground cinnamon

1 Teaspoon Bicarbonate of soda

110g Firmly packed brown sugar

105g Unprocessed bran

105g Coarsely chopped seedless dates

1 Egg

375ml Buttermilk

125ml Vegetable oil

Method

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Sift all the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and add the chopped seedless dates.

Whisk together the egg, buttermilk and vegetable oil

The mixture should be lumpy and take note to not over mix.   Cover the mixture and refrigerate in you are wanting to bake in the morning.

If baking right away, grease a 12 hole muffin pan.

Spoon muffin mixture into the pan holes and bake for about 25-30 minutes until muffins are browned and risen.

Once muffins are done, remove from the pan and stand on a wire rack to cool.

These muffins can either be served warm with butter and marmalade or plain.

Blissful Bran Muffins

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Bobotie and yellow rice with dried fruit

 

I would like to share a delicious recipe that is unique and traditional to South Africa.   This dish consisting of minced meat with an egg-based topping , has a combination of sweet and spicy flavors that will tantalize your taste buds and will certainly intrigue your dinner guests.

The delicate blend of spices used in this dish, create a harmonious aroma in your kitchen and as you slowly simmer these spices, you will be transported into the heart of the vibrant and colorful Cape Malay community.

The Cape Malay community can be found in the Western Cape, South Africa.               They are descendants of  Indian, Indonesian and Afro-Indo origins and where brought to the Cape of Good Hope as slaves in the 1600’s by the Dutch East India Company.

Handed down from generation to generation, Cape Malay style cuisine is best known for its rich and intense spices and flavors.

Although prevalent to the Western Cape, this style of cuisine is highly regarded throughout South Africa and most families will have their own favorite recipe that is a star feature on the dinner table.

BOBOTIE

Serves 8 people

INGREDIENTS

1 Thick crustless slice white bread

2 Tablespoons Olive oil

2 Garlic cloves crushed

2 Large finely chopped onions

1Kg Minced Beef

½ Cup Raisins

6 Almonds, flaked

2 Teaspoons smooth apricot jam

½ Cup Fresh Lemon juice

1 Teaspoon Brown sugar

Pinch of salt

3 Bay Leaves

SPICE MIX

2 Tablespoons Masala Curry powder

½ Teaspoon Turmeric

½ Teaspoon Nutmeg

½ Teaspoons Ground cumin

½  Teaspoons Ground coriander seed

½ Teaspoon Clove powder

Freshly ground pepper

TOPPING LIQUID

3 Eggs

375ml Milk

METHOD 

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius.

Soak the bread in the milk.

Heat the Olive oil in a large frying pan on a moderate heat.  Add the crushed garlic and chopped onion and simmer, taking care not to burn the garlic as it will leave a bitter taste.

Add the spice mix to the garlic and onions and continue to simmer for 2-3 minutes.  This allows for the spices to be cooked, releasing more flavor to the dish.

Remove the bread from the milk.  Squeeze out the excess milk from the bread and gently break into small pieces.  Keep the milk to one side as it will be for the topping liquid for the final step on the dish.

Mix together the minced meat, bread, raisins, almonds, apricot jam, lemon juice, brown sugar and pinch of salt.

Add to the garlic, onion and spice mix.

Stir using a fork, this helps the minced meat to break into finer pieces and allows it to brown evenly.

Gently simmer over a moderate heat for about 10 minutes, until the minced meat is brown.

Add the meat mixture into a greased, medium-sized oven proof dish.

Add the eggs to the milk and whisk together.  Pour over the meat mixture, ensuring that it is distributed evenly throughout the entire dish.

Place the bay leaves on top of the dish.

Bake, uncovered at 180 degrees Celsius for 45-50 minutes or until set.

Once done, the Bobotie should be firm and there should be no excess liquid in the dish.  To test this, tilt the dish gently to the side, to ensure that the topping liquid has cooked through properly.

Bobotie is best served with yellow rice, fruit chutney, sliced banana, and a mixture of finely chopped onion and tomato, together with a sprinkle of desiccated coconut and a glass of red wine.

Yellow rice is made by cooking your rice as usual and at the boiling stage; a teaspoon of turmeric is added to give it a rich yellow color.

Enjoy this traditional taste of South Africa!

 

 

Bobotie

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Churros are crunchy deep-fried sweet pastries that are certainly not for weight watchers.  These delights are usually rolled in a cinnamon sugar and have a distinctive crunch on your first bite with a soft warm center.

It is believed that the charming Churro was invented by Spanish shepherds centuries ago.  These humble people knew that freshly baked goods were impossible to come by as they were high up in the mountains and through many trials and errors, the Churro was born.

Churro paste was simple enough to make and easy to cook over an open fire.  Soon this pastry like wonder became a daily staple for them.

Churro making is a specialized skill in Spain and has been passed down from generation to generation.  The Churro is almost a national symbol in Spain and therefore it comes as no surprise that a Churrero (a person who specializes in the art of Churro making) is held in high regard.

Often sold by street vendors in Spain, who fry them fresh on the street and sell them hot, Churros are also widely available in cafes for breakfast, although they can and are eaten throughout the day as a snack.

These delightful decadency’s can be eaten either plain or rolled in cinnamon sugar and the perfect accompaniment for them is a hot chocolate sauce.

It is a fact that Churros are simply divine, but I find myself asking what it is that draws me to them. I believe that it is the combination of the sugary crunch that is smothered in warm chocolate sauce that sends my taste buds over the edge.  One bite after another leaves me longing for the essence and excitement that is synonymous of the Spanish Culture and makes me want more and more.

With the Festive Season upon us, why not treat yourself and those close to you, with this sweet sensation.  Whether served as a dessert or as a snack with a freshly brewed cup of coffee, this recipe is easy to follow and it will soon become a favorite!

Typically the chocolate sauce is made with plain chocolate, but if you are like myself and enjoy a little spice and experiencing new sensations, this chili chocolate is a taste sensation not to be missed!

INGREDIENTS

For the Churros:

Makes 16 delicious Churros

200g Plain Flour

60g Caster sugar

1 Tsp. Baking powder

1 ½ Tbsp. Olive oil

250ml Boiled water

1 Liter Sunflower oil for frying

For the Cinnamon Sugar:

90g Caster sugar

1 Tsp. Ground cinnamon

For the Chocolate sauce:

200g Good quality dark chocolate, roughly broken into pieces

50g Milk chocolate, roughly broken into pieces

2 Tablespoons golden syrup

300ml Double cream

½ Tsp. Cayenne pepper

½ Tsp. Chili powder

METHOD

Prepare your Cinnamon-Sugar first by mixing the cinnamon and caster sugar together and set to one side.

Prepare your chocolate sauce by adding the roughly broken chocolate into a heavy bottomed saucepan with the golden syrup, cream, cayenne and chili powder.  Stir continuously over a low heat to melt the chocolate, making sure that it does not burn.  Once it has all melted and is silky smooth put the saucepan to one side to reheat after the Churros are done.

In a metal bowl, sift together the flour, caster sugar and baking powder. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Mix the olive oil and boiling water together.  Pour this into the dry ingredients in the well that you made in the center of the bowl. Beat the mixture with a fork to ensure that the dough is smooth with no lumps.  It should have a soft and sticky consistency to the touch.  Let it rest while you heat the oil.

Fill a large, heavy bottomed saucepan with the sunflower oil.  The saucepan should be one-third full.  Heat the oil to 170C.  If you do not have a thermometer, test the oil temperature by gently dropping a small piece of bread into the oil.  If the bread turns golden brown within 30 seconds, the oil is ready.

With the dough mixture, fill a piping bag with a star-shaped nozzle.  Gently squeeze out the Churros directly into the hot oil, snipping the dough off at the nozzle with a kitchen scissors. The Churros can be any length you want, but a guideline of 10cm length is usually recommended.

Be careful not to put too many Churros into the hot oil, as they will stick together.

Fry the Churros for 3 to 4 minutes, occasionally turning them with a metal slotted spoon.  When golden brown and crispy, remove them and place on a baking sheet lined with kitchen paper to drain.

Sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture and be sure to cover the entire Churro.

While your last batch of Churros are busy frying, start reheating your chili chocolate sauce, keeping a close eye that it does not burn, by giving it a good stir every now and then.

Once all of your Churros are complete and your chili chocolate sauce has been reheated, it is time to serve up!

On a large serving plate, place a bowl in the middle and fill it to the brim with the smooth chili chocolate sauce. Stack your Churros around the sauce.

Dunk the crunchy Churros into the warm chili chocolate sauce, sit back and allow your taste buds to enjoy the sensation whilst your imagination allows you to drift off.

ENJOY!!

Churros with Chili Chocolate Sauce

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Spaghetti Bolognese

No matter what your cultural background is everybody enjoys the connection and comfort of friends and family and gorgeous simple home cooked food.

I find nothing more therapeutic than getting together with a bunch of girlfriends, cooking dinner and catching up on all the gossip and events.

Have you ever walked into the kitchen while women are cooking?  There is always background music playing, granted you would not be able to hear what it is because everyone is talking and not about the same subject!  The corkscrew is never too far from the next bottle of wine and a nibble is always nearby, just in case the dinner takes longer to cook due to operational reasons.  There are always readily available hands to dice and slice and you will always find the prankster amongst the girls, leading to copious amounts of amusement and giggles. If you were an outsider, looking at this sight you would be wondering how on earth dinner would ever be done!

Yes there is nothing like the electricity that sparks the air, when a group of girlfriends are in the kitchen.  It is the very essence of womanhood and fills the kitchen with radiance, warmth and love.

With today’s fast modern society, people are becoming more distant from each other and are losing that comforting connection of love and friendship.  It is not done purposefully, but with work and family commitments it simply becomes so much easier to send a fast Facebook message from the office or a quick text from your blackberry on the daily commute home, just to say hello and let your girlfriends know that you are thinking of them.  It is due to all of these commitments that one can so quickly lose track with the ones you love. I am guilty as charged and it is due to my constant work commitments that I have had the urge to dedicate this piece to my girlfriends. There are some of you that I have not seen in years and some that I might have seen in the last few hours.  I believe that time spent together should be quality above quantity and if I were at home I would Love nothing more than a girls night in with all of you  and what better way to do it,  than over a few bottles of red wine and a decant dish.

This classic dish is so simple to make, with a cooking time of roughly 35-40 minutes.  Leaving you time to focus and get back in touch with the most important people in your life – your girlfriends.

Spaghetti Bolognese

Serves 6 glorious girls

INGREDIENTS

500g Dried spaghetti

50g Parmesan cheese, grated

BOLOGNESE SAUCE

2 Tbsp Olive oil

1 Finely chopped onion

2 Crushed garlic cloves

450g Minced beef meat

125g Smoked chopped bacon

2 Tbsp Tomato puree

300ml and a dash for good luck Red wine (readily available from the bottle already opened)

400g Chopped tin tomatoes

125g Mushrooms sliced

2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sprinkle of mixed herbs

Make your Bolognese sauce first, allowing more time for the flavours to enhance.

Heat the olive oil in a large pan, then add the onion and fry over medium heat for +- 10 min or until soft and golden.

Add the garlic and cook for +- 1 minute, be careful not to burn the garlic or it will produce a bitter taste.

Stir in the minced beef.  Use the back of a fork to break up the minced meat in pieces.  Add the chopped smoked bacon and allow to brown evenly.

Stir in the tomato puree and red wine.  Bring this to the boil; add the tomatoes, mushrooms, Worcestershire sauce, a sprinkle of mixed herbs and salt & pepper.

Bring back to the boil, cover and simmer for +- 20 minutes.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and add your spaghetti.  Cook according to instructions on the packet.

Drain the pasta and add to the Bolognese pan.

Toss all together, taste and add more seasoning if needed.

Take the pan to the table and let everyone help themselves.

Lovingly sprinkle Parmesan cheese over the top of your helping.

There you go, a quick and satisfying meal that can be made while discussing the latest fashion craze, your newly sprouting grey hairs, crows feet or the wonders of baby’s first tooth!

Make sure to fill up everyone’s glasses with some seriously good red wine and sit back and watch your girlfriends, slurp back this delicious dish and give thanks to your glorious girlfriends.

Sisters & Spaghetti