I love a cinnamon roll, but being the distracted shopper that I am, I picked up ground cumin instead of cinnamon. Luckily I realised this before making the filling (let’s face it, it would be disgusting). After rifling through the cupboards I founds some ground ginger and decided to take a gamble and these actually turned out really well. So these are perfect for those of you who hate cinnamon, but feel free to substitute with cinnamon if you love it. The orange also gives a nice hint of freshness.
This is a relatively straight forward recipe based on a recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction. Her recipe doesn’t use orange, so if its not your thing you can leave it out. Some cinnamon roll recipes involve proving the dough over night etc, I like this recipe as the dough only needs to prove once. These are delicious with a coffee but are also ideal if you making brunch and will disappear in 5 minutes.
For the dough
400 Grams Plain flour
50 Grams Sugar
1/2 Tsp Salt
45 Grams Butter
180 ml Milk
2 & 1/4 Tsp Dried yeast (or 1 sachet)
For the filling
45 Grams Butter (very soft)
Zest of 1 orange (save the rest of the orange, as you’ll be adding the juice to your icing)
65 Grams Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Ground ginger
For the icing
115 Grams Cream Cheese
30 Grams Butter
80 Grams Icing sugar
Juice from half the orange you zested
For the dough, add the flour, sugar, and salt to a bowl and set to one side
In a bowl in the microwave, or in a pot on the stove gently melt the butter in the milk until it is warm to the touch but not hot (you will be adding yeast to this, and if it’s too hot it will kill the yeast). Whisk in the yeast until it is dissolved
Pour the milk mix and egg into to the dry ingredients and stir well until you get a soft dough. You can then use the dough hook in a stand mixer to knead the dough or turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead for 5 minutes
Lightly grease a large bowl and put the dough in the bowl and rest for 10 minutes
While the dough is resting combine the ginger, orange zest and brown sugar for the filling
Once the dough has rested, roll it out into a rectangle about 14 x 8 inch or 36 x 20 cm. Spread the softened butter for the filling evenly across the rolled out dough, and sprinkle evenly with the cinnamon mix
Roll the dough into a long log (should be 14 in or 36cm long), cut into 10-12 equal slices. Grease a large baking dish (I find metal baking dishes are best for this, but use what you have) and place the slices of dough in the dish (cut side up). Cover with a tea towel and allow to rest for 60-90 minutes in a warmish area until the dough has doubled in size
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees (Celsius), bake the rolls for 25-30 minutes (cover loosely with kitchen foil if they are browning too quickly)
To make the icing, add the ingredients to a bowl, and whisk until thoroughly combined. Spread the icing evenly over the warm rolls with a spatula. (when cooled these can be stored in an airtight box in the fridge for up to 5 days, but trust me they won’t last that long)
What I love about food is that it can transport you to different places or recall memories of places you visited and meals you enjoyed.
I visited Marrakesh six years ago and the place was an assault on the senses. The heat was like nothing I’d ever experienced, and the onslaught from traders left me a little stunned. What I did love was the food, which was too delicious and varied to cover in one post.
What I still crave was the delicious freshly made bread that was served everywhere. Perfect with tagines if you can’t face couscous, or great with houmous and olives, or soup for lunch.
I found a recipe from Cooking the Globe which is pretty much spot on for recreating what I remember. The ingredients and methods are straight forward. It does require a decent amount of kneading , but I don’t mind this as it allows me to burn off some stress and do some rage baking.
250 ml Warm Water (about skin temperature or luke warm, not too hot or it will kill the yeast)
500 Grams Plain flour (you can also use strong bread flour if this is what you have)
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Sugar
2 & 1/4 Tsp or 7 Gram Sachet of dried yeast
In a small bowl add the warm water, sugar and yeast and stir. Leave in a warm room for 10 minutes, it should start to foam (if it hasn’t done this your yeast is dead)
In a large bowl combine the flour and salt, then gradually add the yeast mixture and work together until you get a soft dough (you may need to use a little more or less water)
Turn onto a floured surface and knead for 10-15 minutes until smooth (this is time to let your rage baking take hold) or if you’re well adnusted and have a stand mixer ou can use the dough hook. Divide into two equal size balls, cover with a slighlty damp tea towel and leave to rest for 10 minutes
Line a baking sheet with baking parchment. Transfer the bread to the baking sheet, flatten slightly to about 2-3 cm thick, and and cover with clingfilm and leave in a warm room for an hour to rise
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees. Uncover the bread and knick each loaf 4-5 times with a knife if you want to be totally authentic you can sprinkle with cornmeal or semolina. I didn’t have this and it was still fine
Bake for 25 minutes or until the loaves sound hollow when you tap them
Sometimes I make things simply because the name tickles me, (blue moo pie, hummingbird cake etc).
I heard of this cake when reading about the legendary foodie and promoter of French cuisine, Julia Childs, and decided I had to make it.
This is a single layer cake, and is quite light, unlike some super rich dense chocolate cakes. It’s perfect if you don’t want something too heavy at the end of a meal, but is also delicious with a coffee if you feel the need for a little afternoon pick me up.
This recipe has some rum in it, but if you don’t do alcohol or just don’t like rum you can replace it with 2 tablespoons of strong coffee.
For the meringue
Pinch of Salt
3 Eggs (separate the yolks and whites)
1 Tbsp Sugar
For the cake
115 Grams Butter (Softened)
150 Grams Sugar
115 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
2 Tbsp Rum, or strong black coffee
25 Grams Ground Almonds
1/4 Tsp Almond extract (optional)
60 Grams Plain Flour
For the decoration
2-3 Tbsp Flaked almonds
60 Grams Dark chocolate (melted)
60 Grams Butter (melted)
Preheat your oven to 180 degree (Celsius), and prepare a 9 inch cake tin, but rubbing it with butter and then dusting the inside with a little flour (this will stop your cake sticking to the tin)
Add 3 egg whites and a pinch of salt to a bowl, and either in a stand mixer or with an electric whisk, whisk until they start to froth before adding a tablespoon of sugar. Whisk until the egg whites are firm, and you can turn the bowl upside down and the meringue stays in the bowl (be careful doing this so you don’t end up with meringue all over your floor). Set to one side
For the cake melt the 115 Grams of chocolate in the microwave, (I use blasts of 30 seconds at a time to make sure the chocolate doesn’t burn), and allow to cool slightly
In another bowl, slow whisk the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy, gradually add the egg yolks. Add the slightly cooled chocolate, and then the ground almonds, and flour until well mixed
Add 1/3 of the meringue mix to the chocolate mix, and mix in with a spatula, with help loosen the chocolate mix. Add the next 1/3 of the meringue mix and gently fold this into the chocolate mix with a spatula (this will help keep the air in the cake mix to keep it light. Fold in the remaining meringue mix ensuring it is thoroughly folded through before transferring to your prepared cake tin
Make for 16 minutes (there should still be a little wobble in the centre) . Allow to cool in the tin for 10-15 minutes before turning out onto a wire wrack to cool
When the cake is cool, toast the flaked almonds in a dry frying pan for a couple of minutes, keep moving them around so they toast evenly and be careful as they can burn easily.
Melt the chocolate and butter for the topping in a bowl in the microwave (try blasts of 30 seconds and stir in between blasts to make sure it melts evenly), mix well when finally melted
Pour the chocolate and butter mix over the cake and spread evenly to make sure it runs down the sides evenly (I put a plate under wire wrack to catch any icing that runs of the cake and save mess)
Sprinkle the edges and sides of the cake with the toasted almonds (store in an airtight box if not eating immediately)
With the weather improving it’s time to eat a little lighter, and make use of all the delicious veggies that are now coming in season. If you want something healthy full of crunch and protein, then this is the perfect salad.
Ideal for lunch or as a side dish, this salad has lots of colour and fresh flavours (don’t skimp on the herbs). If you don’t already do it, window boxes full of herbs will transform how you cook and eat. The dressing has some Asian flavours for a little extra zing, but if it’s not your thing you can leave out the miso and ginger.
75 Grams Green lentils (dry weight, or use 1 Can of ready cooked lentils)
150 Grams Bulgar wheat, dry weight (you can also use cous cous, barley or whatever grain you prefer)
2-3 Scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Courgette /zucchini (grated)
75 Grams Cucumber (seeds removed, and chopped into 1 cm chunks)
1 Apple (chopped into 1 cm chunks and cover with some od the lemon juice for the dressing to stop it going brown)
1 Carrot (grated)
1 Handful Parsley or mint (chopped)
1 Handful Coriander (chopped)
I Tbsp Pumpkin seeds
Salt and pepper
1 Lemon (juiced)
2-3 Tbsp Oil
1 Tbsp Grated ginger
1 Tsp Miso paste
Cook the lentils and Bulgar wheat according to the instructions on he packaging, set aside and allow to cool. If you are using pre cooked lentil just drain them
Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl.
In a small bowl, mix all the dressing ingredients together and drizzle over the salad ingredients
Mix well and add salt pepper if you think it needs it.
This pie is very satisfying but still quite light and a good way to get your daily dose of veggies.
I use frozen spinach, because it’s cheaper and a kilo of fresh spinach will take up half your kitchen, make sure to squeeze out as much water as possible so the pie won’t be soggy. Fresh herbs add flavour, and while dill is traditionally used, I used parsley and mint which are also used in some parts of Greece.
Filo pastry can be bought in most larger super markets. Make sure to cover the pastry with a slightly damp tea towel to stop it drying out when you are making the pie.
The pie can be eaten hot or cold and can live in your fridge for 2-3 days. It’s great as a lunch dish served with some salad or as a side dish.
1kg Frozen spinach (defrosted, and all excess liquid squeezed out)
Handful of finely chopped parsley and mint
250 Grams Filo pastry
200 Grams Feta style cheese (crumbled)
1 Leek or bunch of scallions/spring onions (finely chopped)
1 Tbsp Oil
25 Grams Butter (melted)
Salt and pepper (to taste)
2 Tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees (Celsius)
In a large pan, heat the oil over a medium heat and fry the leek until soft. Set to one side and allow to cool
Add the drained spinach to a large bowl and loosen up with a fork. Stir in the eggs, feta, herbs leeks and seasoning. Stir until combined
Grease a 6 x 9 in baking tin and line with sheets of filo pastry, brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with another sheet (lay 5-6 sheets of filo pastry as a base)
When the tray is lined, spread the spinach mixture evenly across the base. Fold in any overlapping pastry and top the pie with the leftover sheets of pastry (brush each sheet lightly with butter before topping with the next.
Sprinkle with sesame seeds, and bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes until brown and crispy
A good sausage roll is one of my many weaknesses and when I was making some some for a work party I realized I work with quite a few vegetarians and would need to have something for them.
Only psychopaths make their own puff pastry, so when you are buying your pastry check that its vegetarian/vegan friendly (most are), unless you want to use the “all butter” versions but this would obviously not be suitable for vegans.
Pastry glazes for vegan dishes obviously can’t use the traditional egg or milk glazes but plant milk or coconut oil can work well, I used some onion seeds as well to add some interest.
While these are mushrooms flavoured, I also included some lentils to add some meatiness to the texture as well as some protein and some miso paste to give it that umami flavour that some vegan dishes lack.
1 x 375 Gram Sheet ready rolled puff pastry
300 Grams Button mushrooms (finely chopped)
25 Grams Dried Porcini mushrooms
100 Grams Breadcrumbs
1 Tsp Miso paste
200 Grams Tinned lentils (or cooked green lentils)
1 Leek (finely chopped)
1 Tablespoon Oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Plank milk/Coconut oil to brush the pastry with
2 Tsp Onion or sesame seeds to decorate (optional)
Put the dried porcini mushrooms in a bowl with 100 Mil boiling water and allow to soak for at least 15 minutes
In a large frying pan over a medium heat, and the oil and when hot add the mushrooms and leek. Cook for 10-15 minutes stirring occasionally (don’t move the mushrooms about too much or they will become watery)
When cooked add the lentils, miso, and porcini mushrooms (including the water they were soaking), cook for a further 5-10 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated, and then add the breadcrumbs and stir well. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to cool
Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees (Celsius) and line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
Roll the pastry out on a lightly floured surface to prevent sticking and cut the pastry sheet in half lengthways.
Spoon the cooled mushroom mix down the centre of each strip of pastry leaving enough space for when you roll the edges together. Wet the long edges of the pastry and gently bring the edges together to slightly overlap each other then press together
Turn the side where pastry meet to the bottom and brush with your glaze before sprinkling with seeds, if you are using them.
With a sharp knife cut the pastry sausage into 3-4 cm slices before transferring onto the lined baking sheet.
I love eating things other people make and one of my workmates made these and I was instantly addicted. So a big shout out to Christina for being kind enough to give me the recipe.
Christina’s recipe uses dark chocolate (either chips or chopped up chocolate), but because it coming up to Easter I decided to use smashed up mini eggs which are my total downfall. These cookies are also a great way to use up any random chocolate you have lying about after Easter.
You can make the dough a day or two before and keep it in the fridge so that all you have to do is cut it and bake when you need them (if you’re having friends over this means less last minute scurrying around and you appear like a serene domestic goddess with an oven full of delicious cookies)
350 Grams Plain Flour
1 Tsp Bicarbonate of soda
1 Tsp Salt
225 Grams Butter (room temperature and cut into chunks to make it easier to cream with the sugar)
175 Grams Soft brown sugar
50 Grams Caster sugar
1 Tsp Vanilla extract
350 Grams Smashed up mini eggs (or use chocolate chips or chopped dark chocolate)
In a bowl combine all you dry ingredients (don’t add the chocolate yet)
In a separate bowl combine the butter. both types of sugar, add vanilla extract and mix until creamy, I used a stand mixer for this which makes it a lot easier but an electric whisk will also do the job
Beat the eggs into the butter mixture, and then gradually add the flour. Then stir in our chocolate pieces (I folded them in using a large spoon so that they didn’t get too broken up an electric whisk.
Split the dough into 2 halves, and roll each half into a sausage shape roughly 5cm in diameter and wrap each sausage in cling film before chilling in the fridge for at least half an hour
Preheat you oven to 190 degrees (Celsius), you’ll probably need a couple of baking sheets, and these should be lined with baking parchment
Cut the chilled cookie dough into 2cm think slices and transfer to you baking sheet leaving room for them spread as they cook. Bake for 10-12 minutes
This dish was would have traditionally been made with duck (which I think would be too rich), and is now usually made with chicken. I have also made a vegan version with aubergines and I have to say I think it was my favourite.
This is quite a rich dish and the use of pomegranate molasses (available from most big supermarkets or Asian grocers) gives the stew a tangy sweet and sour flavour.
I call this a weekend recipe, meaning its something that requires low and slow cooking and you aren’t going to try and do for a quick weeknight dinner.
8 Chicken thighs (bone in, but skin removed), or 2 large aubergines (cut into bite sized chunks)
1 Tbsp. Tomato Puree
250 Grams Walnut pieces
1/2 Tsp Ground Cinnamon
2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Black pepper
125 Mil Pomegranate molasses
1 Tsp Sugar (or more to taste)
Pomegranate seeds to decorate (optional)
Add the walnuts to a food processor and whiz until they become fine crumbs and start to stick together in a paste
Move the walnuts to a large pot with a lid, and add 1 litre of cold water to the walnuts. Bring to the boil for a couple of minutes, and then reduce the heat and cover with a lid simmer for 2 hours.
Stir in the pomegranate molasses, tomato purée, cinnamon, sugar, salt and pepper until well combined. Return the mixture to a simmer
Add the chicken thighs or aubergine chunks to the pot and cover with the lid again and simmer for a further hour. Remove the lid and simmer for another 10-15 minutes to allow the sauce to thicken.
Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds if using just before serving rice or flat breads
I had been trying to arrange a meet up with a friend for ages and she invited me to a forest bathing event in Montalto estate about 30-40 minutes outside Belfast.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was assured there would be no naked running through woodlands beating each other with birch twigs (I have to say I was a little disappointed by this, but went anyway).
Forest bathing is based on the Japanese practice of shinrin yoku. This a mindfulness practice, were you immerse yourself in nature. Exercises can include lying down the forest and allowing all your senses to take in what is going on around you. Other exercises can help you connect with others, while some are completed in silence to help you be present in the moment and contemplate your surroundings. We were led in this by the brilliant Gillian Calhoun, firstname.lastname@example.org, who made the entire experience accessible for everyone including people in our group who admitted they had previously found it difficult to switch off and rest. I finished the morning feeling a tremendous sense of peace, and one the my favourite things I took away from it is that rest is a verb, sometimes our minds and our bodies need to be allowed to rest and rest is an activity in itself.
I had driven past the Montalto estate many times before and but never visited. The original demesne dates back to the 1600s. Patrick McCartan one of the earliest owners had his lands confiscated due his involvement in the 1641 rebellion by the United Irishmen against the crown forces. The site was eventually passed down to the Earl of Moira in 1765 who built the grand mansion house and who’s grandson developed the impressive gardens.
Today the estate is privately owned by the Wilson family and the mansion house as well as other buildings can be rented out as wedding and events venues. Entrance to the grounds (not the house) is £7.50 for adults, but annual membership is £37.50. The estate also has a café, serving delicious lunches, pastries or even afternoon tea if you feel like really treating yourself.
The estate has beautiful paths and walks with a small lake, mature trees and some really interesting and exotic planting and was the perfect location for our forest bathing as we could take in different elements the estate had to offer. They also run events like kids bush craft, floristry and gardening events and yoga.
Go get out into some nature, and then just chill out and let it all wash over you. We’re all in too much of a hurry these days to appreciate the little miracles we are surrounded by. Your physical health will improve, and your mental health will benefit, so get your lazy arse of the sofa and go commune with nature.