Wednesday 31 May 2017

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

I love scones and am always looking for a delicious recipe to try.  I spied a recipe the other day on a blog called Seasonly Creations for Irish Coffee Cake Scones.  

They looked really good so I thought I would give them a go! What a tasty way to end the month of May!

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

A basic scone recipe is created and then topped with a brown sugar and nut streusel before baking.  It does use a mix of dark brown and white sugars, and plenty of nutmeg which was a bit different. 

I thought I would give you an action shot of them ready to go into the oven!  Yes, I do end up having to use my table as a preparation surface most of the time as I have almost nil counter space in the kitchen.  

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

There really is only an area about 3 feet in length and by the time you put a toaster, a kettle and a knife block on it, prep surface is minimal at best. 

Now back to the scones.

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

The dough was really easy to put together, most scone doughs are.  You can't go wrong so long as you use a light hand. 

The original recipe said to cut the fat into the flour, but I have always found that rubbing it in with your finger tips works much better. 

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

It uses buttermilk, which usually makes for great scones.  I was a bit nervous about this recipe however, as it did not call for any baking soda, just baking powder. 

I always understood that you needed to use some soda with an acidic ingredient such as buttermilk in order to get a good rise. 

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

I crossed my fingers and went with the recipe however and hoped that they would turn out like they should. 

 Hers certainly looked alright! 

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

As you can see however, my worry was for naught as I got a really nice rise!  I used some currants that I had in the cupboard from Whitworths, seedless ones, and really tiny. 

They worked beautifully and the end result in the finished scones was lovely.  

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

I confess I probably added an addition handful because I like lots of fruit. The only thing I wasn't totally fond of was the use of white vegetable shortening in the crumble topping, and to be honest, it kind of melted a bit. 

I had been thinking it would stand up like the crumble on a coffee cake, but it didn't.  I am not sure how you could get around that. 


Irish Coffee Cake Scones

And I am not sure butter instead of shortening would make any difference.  I checked back at hers on the other blog and they looked the same.  

I think if just a bit more flour was added it might make a difference, but I will try that the next time around.  Maybe bake one and let you know.  They were really very good however and I will be making them again! 

Irish Coffee Cake Scones

*Irish Coffee Cake Scones*
Makes 12

Flaky sweet scones studded with plenty of dried currants and topped with a coffee cake streusal crumb topping. 

For the scones:
340g of plain flour (2 1/2 cups)
50g soft dark brown sugar (1/4 cup)
45g white sugar (1/4 cup)
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp salt
115g of dried currants (3/4 cup)
120g cold unsalted butter (1/2 cup) cut into cubes
2 large free range eggs, lightly beaten
120ml buttermilk (1/2 cup)
2 tsp almond extract 

To glaze:
2 TBS milk
1 large free range egg, beaten 

For the streusel:
73g of white vegetable shortening (1/3 cup)
40g chopped toasted pecans (1/3 cup)
50g of soft light brown sugar plus 2 TBS (1/4 cup, plus 2 TBS)
2 TBS white sugar
3 TBS plain flour
pinch salt 

 To make the streusel, rub the flour and both sugars together with the salt to combine and work out any lumps in the sugar.  Drop in the shortening and rub all together with a fork to completely incorporate.  Stir in the chopped nuts.  Set aside.

For the Scones sift the flour into the bowl  Stir in both sugars, the baking powder, the nutmeg and the salt.  Rub all together to make sure any lumps from the sugar are broken up. Drop in the butter, rub it in with your fingertips until you have a mixture which resembles fine bread crumbs. 

Preheat the oven to 220*C/425*F/ gas mark 7.  LIne a large baking tray with baking paper. Set aside. 

Beat the egg and milk together for the glaze and set aside. 

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs and almond extract for the scones.  Make a well in the middle of the scone mixture and dump in the wet ingredients.  Stir together with a fork until the mixture begins to come together into a soft dough.  Tip out onto a lightly floured board and knead lightly for a few turns.  Divide the dough in half and shape each half gently into a circle which is 5 inches across and 1 inch tall.  Cut each into six wedges.  Place onto the baking sheet, leaving plenty of space in between for rising, spreading.  Brush the tops with the glaze and then spring a heaped TBS of the streusel on top of each. 

Bake in the preheated oven for 15 to 17 minutes.  Serve warm with your favourite hot drink!

Other than changing a few things about the way I put these together, I basically followed the recipe as per written and I found them to be quite, quite delicious. Even the day after.  I do have to say that next time I would leave out the almond extract.  I am not sure that it added anything at all to the flavour of the scones, and to be honest it wasn't a very "Irish" addition. Using the dark brown sugar however gave them a beautiful colour. Warm out of the oven, split and buttered, they were utterly devine!  Bon Appetit!

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Tuesday 30 May 2017

Cheesy Potato Pancakes

We really like potato pancakes in this house and I made some at the weekend for Todd to enjoy for breakfast with his bacon and eggs. 

One thing I really miss over here in the UK are the loose frozen hashbrown potatoes.  They always came in handy for weekend breakfasts.  You can buy hashbrown patties here, but they are not quite the same thing in my opinion!

Cheesy Potato Pancakes are almost like a mashed potato fritter and are excellent served with a fried egg on top and a side of grilled bacon!

You make the mashed potatoes for these the night before and put it in the refrigerator to get really cold.

Then when you get up you simply add in the remaining ingredients, shape and fry. You might think that they aren't going to stay together, but trust me, they will and once you brown the first side, they hold together well and it is easy to flip them over and brown the second side.

Just make sure your oil is nicely heated before you add the pancakes.  Not too hot, but not too cold either.  You don't want the potatoes soaking it up like a sponge.  These are so tasty!  

*Cheesy Potato Pancakes*
Makes about 12

These are easy to make, crispy and very tasty!  Serve for breakfast with some eggs and bacon!  Plan ahead as the potato mixture really needs to chill overnight before using.

3 large baking potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
120g of grated strong cheddar cheese (1 cup)
3 spring onions, trimmed and finely minced
3 TBS finely minced red peppers
1 medium free range egg, beaten
45g of grated Parmesan Cheese (1/4 cup)
3 TBS plain flour (plus more for coating)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
freshly grated nutmeg
vegetable oil for frying 

Place the potatoes into a pot of lightly salted water to cover.   Bring to the boil.  Cook until tender.   Drain well and then return them to the pot, shaking them over the residual heat of the burner to dry them out well.  Mash them well or put them through a potato ricer.   Scrape them into a bowl and set aside to cool.   Once cool, cover and chill in the refrigerator until really cold, preferably overnight.  

When you are ready to cook them, stir together the cooked potato, the grated cheddar, spring onions, salt, pepper and nutmeg to taste and beaten egg.   You may not need all of the egg.  You just want a mixture which will hold together well without being gloopy.  Divide the mixture into 12 equal portions.  Roll each into a ball.  Flatten into a pancake shape about 1/2 inch thick.   Coat each fritter well in plain flour.

Heat several tablespoons of vegetable oil in a large shallow frying pan.  Add the potato fritters a few at a time, cooking them on one side until they are crisp and brown before flipping them over to the other side and browning them on that side too.  Remove to a paper towel lined baking sheet.  Keep any cooked ones warm in a slow oven  until you finish cooking them all.   

Once again, it is the simple things in life which bring us the most pleasure.  These also make a great supper dish, again with eggs and bacon.  (We usually like to do this type of thing for supper rather than breakfast!) Bon Appetit!

Monday 29 May 2017

Bacon,Potato,Tomato & Rocket Salad

Its my oldest son's birthday today.  He is 42. I know . . .  its hard for me to believe that I have a son that old also!  Wasn't he just a babe in arms yesterday?  I was only 19 when he was born.  I wanted to be a mother more than anything in the world.  He made my dreams come true!  Happy Birthday son!  So what has that got to do with salad?  Nothing really, except that he is a brilliant cook in his own right!  That acorn did not fall far from this tree!

I love salad season.  I love making and eating salads.  I have never met a salad that I did not like!

I also love potatoes.  They are my favourite vegetable.  I have always loved them. I can't do low carb because I can't live without my potatoes!

Tomatoes are another love of mine.  Especially vine ripened tomatoes.  Fresh and sweet.  Some are sweeter than others.  I prefer home grown, but when I do have to buy them, I buy the best I can afford and leave them at room temperature. That brings out the best flavours in them.

Bacon . . .  who doesn't love bacon.  I think my love of bacon (and a good steak) would actually prevent me from becoming a vegetarian!

Baby Rocket, or arugula as it is it is known in North America is another favourite of mine.  I really enjoy its peppery, almost earthy flavour!

Goat Cheese  . . .  as a child I did not even know such a thing existed.  (All my cheese came dyed orange and wrapped in plastic.) Soft, spreadable tangy goat cheese with its very distinct flavour is another thing I really, really enjoy!

Finally good Balsamic Vinegar and olive oil, extra virgin, something else which never had a place in my childhood and which I love.  A good balsamic is rich and almost sweet and olive oil, peppery and rich.  Put all these things together and you have one of the tastiest potato salads you could ever want to eat.  This is a salad that I simply LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE and LOVE! Try it. I think you will too!

*Bacon, Potato, Tomato & Rocket Salad*
with Goats Cheese
Serves 6 to 8
Delicious and colourful. This is best on the day made.  Don't add the rocket until just before you serve so that it doesn't wilt!  

2 pounds of small new potatoes
4 slices thick cut lean smoked bacon, cut into lardons
1 cup ripe cherry tomatoes, cut in half
(about a dozen)
2 large handfuls of baby rocket, washed, dried and chopped coarsely
115g of soft goats cheese, crumbled (4 ounces)
For the dressing:
2 TBS good quality Balsamic Vinegar
4 TBS good quality extra virgin olive oil
freshly ground black pepper and sea salt to taste 

Place the potatoes in a pot of lightly salted water to cover.  Bring to a boil and cook until they are tender, about 13 to 15 minutes.  Drain well and cool until you can handle them easily.  Cut into quarters and place them in a bowl.  Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour this over the potatoes, tossing to coat them well. 

Cook the bacon until crisp in a skillet over medium high heat.  Scoop out and drain on paper towelling.  Add to the potatoes along with the halved cherry tomatoes.  Taste and adjust seasoning as required.  Let stand at room temperature until you are ready to serve, adding the rocket to the salad just before you serve it, tossing to combine.  Sprinkle with the crumbled goats cheese and serve.

Simple. Delicious. Filled with lovely flavours. Quick and easy to make.  I hope that you will and that you will enjoy this as much as we do.  Bon Appetit!

Sunday 28 May 2017

Mountain Berries & Desert Spice

Today I want to tell you about a beautifully evocative book that focuses exclusively on sweet inspirations from the Hunza Valley to the Arabian Sea, written by food writer and cookery teacher, Sumayya Usmani, author of ‘Summers Under the Tamarind Tree.’  This is the first book of Asian types of recipes that I have ever seen that it devoted to sweet delights, coming from Sumayya's homeland of Pakistan! What a refreshing look at all that is sweet about the exotic cuisine of this incredible country!

The book itself is divided in 10 chapters containing recipes for childhood delights, celebratory sweets, morning eye openers, etc. beginning with a beautiful introduction and everything you need to know about key ingredients and techiques which you will want a knowledge of in preparing the many beautiful recipes included in this book.

Stories of her childhood and memories are interwoven through the book with beautiful photographs of the region and recipes that really tempt you to try making for yourself at home. Its a book which is as delightful to read as it is to cook from. She demystifies how to make all manner of sweet delights with family recipes from the foothills of the Hundu Kush mountains in the north, where berries and fruits grow in abundance, via the fertile Punjab, where rice and grain based desserts are prevalent . . .  to the Arabian sea in the south, where saffron and cardamon laced sweet recipes are a favourite.

Many of the recipes look very inviting . . . ‘Sohan saffron honey caramels with rose water, pistachio and almonds to Bakar khani (sweet puff pastry biscuits), Mulberry and cherry fruit leather, Nan-e nokhochi (chickpea flour shortbread with cloves).

 Rose water, rose petals, saffron threads and pistachio are used frequently in the recipes so it may well be worth stocking up on these. (I think I will be drying my own rose petals this summer and making my own rosewater.) The ‘mango, thyme and pink salt with rose water clotted cream’ sounds positively delightful encompassing both a sweet and a salty aspect.


Pakistan’s food culture is as diverse and varied as its land, terrain and people, and this cookbook brings together a collection of 70 recipes from Sumayya's culinary journey. Each recipe is introduced briefly with her own personal experiences and anecdotes about it. This is food storytelling at its finest.

Interspersed between the recipes are beautiful photographs. They are quite simply visually appealing, and taste tempting visions which tingle the tastebuds and inspire a desire in the keen cook to want to recreate them in the home.

From snacks shared with friends over tea, to sumptuous desserts fit for lavish weddings, Sumayya tempts the reader with beautiful, accessible and easily achieved recipes so that anyone can create an authentic and fresh repertoire of aromatic sweetness in the comforts of their own home.

*Mulberry & Blackberry Stew*
Serves 5 - 6
A simple dish of stewed fruit infused with honey and ginger.  Serve with walnuts and whipped cream. 

200g (7 ounces ) dried black mulberries
300g (2 1/4 cups) fresh blackberries
150g (3/4 cup) cherries, pitted
1/2 tsp ground ginger
about 250ml (generous cup) water
3 TBS honey
To serve:
handful of walnuts, coarsely chopped
200ml (7 ounces, scant cup) thick double (heavy) cream
whipped and flavoured with ginger and rosewater

Bring the fruit, ginger and water to the boil in a saucepan.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, for 20 minutes, adding water as you need to keep the berries covered.  After about 20 minutes, add th ehoney, stir and remove the pan from the heat.  Allow to cool in the pan. Serve with the chopped walnuts and the flavoured whipped cream, either at room temperature or chill in the refrigerator until later.

In my opinion,  this is a well researched and very well put together book. The recipes are authentic Pakistani dishes with an interesting twist. Its a delight from its very colourful and beautifully embossed cover to the beautiful photography, stories and recipes contained on its pages!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sumayya Usmani grew up in Karachi, Pakistan and moved to London over ten years ago, but has found home in Glasgow, Scotland. A food writer and cookery teacher, Sumayya is passionate about sharing the flavours of her homeland with a view to highlighting Pakistani cuisine as a distinct one. Sumayya advocates cooking by "andaza", (sensory and estimation cooking), which is how she learnt to cook from her mother and grandmothers from a very young age. She appears frequently in many online and print publications, on television, and co-presents BBC Kitchen Cafe weekly on BBC Radio Scotland.

  • Hardcover: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Frances Lincoln (6 April 2017)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0711238529
  • ISBN-13: 978-0711238527 
Note - I was sent a copy of this book by Frances Lincoln free of charge for review. I was not required to write a positive review. Any opinions are entirely my own. Many thanks to Frances Lincoln for sending me what I think is a beautiful book.

White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries

Hooray for British Strawberry Season which is just beginning! I try hard not to eat strawberries at any other time of the year. They are always hugely disappointing when compared to British berries in season!

We do grow our own in the garden, but they are nowhere near ready yet.  Those are THE best really . . .  eaten while the warmth of the summer sunshine is still held in their sweet ruby flesh  . . . 

 We have had beautiful warm weather this past week, almost like a teasing taste of summer to come.  We have had to have the fan on in the bedroom so that we can sleep and we brought the big one into the lounge today . . .  

There is something about these warmer temperatures that compel you to eat lighter . . . and there is nothing lighter than this fresh dessert, which highlights and makes the best of these early summer berries.

The berries are macerated in a mix of Grand Marnier and orange juice, but don't worry . . .  if you don't use alcohol (and we don't without cooking it first) you can feel free to use all orange juice.  They are still delicious.

The mousse is light and sweet . . .  using white chocolate which goes so well with the berries.  Because the egg whites are not cooked be sure to use a pasteurised egg white if you are feeding the young or the elderly, just in case . . . 

I think our eggs are pretty safe these days, but with Todd's health and age, I never want to take any chances, so I use the pastuerised ones that you can get in the chiller section of the shops. (Over here they are called Two Chicks.)  They are great for Pavlovas and all sorts.

In any case if you are looking for a lovely fresh dessert this weekend that is simple and easy to make and oh so delicious, look no further.  This fits the bill on all accounts!

*White Chocolate Mousse with Strawberries*
Serves 4
What can I say, this is delicious. Simple too. 

For the Mousse:
100g good quality white chocolate (3 1/2 ounces)
(I like Green & Black's Organic)
75ml double cream (1/3 cup)
2 medium free range egg whites
(I use the pasturized ones that come in a pack in the
refrigerator section at the shops)
a pinch salt
2 TBS caster sugar

For the Berries:
450g of fresh strawberries (1 pound, 16 ounces)
1 1/2 TBS Grand Marnier liqueur
1 TBS freshly squeezed orange juice
2 TBS caster sugar  

Break up the white chocolate and place into a bowl, along with the cream  Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water without allowing the water to touch the bottom of the bowl. Melt the chocolate slowly, stirring occasionally.  While the chocolate is melting whip the egg whites with the salt until they form soft peaks.  Continue to beat, whilst adding the sugar gradually, beating until they are glossy and stiff.  Scoop a dessertspoon ful of the egg whites into the melted chocolate and beat them together with a rubber spatula.  Fold the remaining egg whites into the mixture carefully, taking care not to knock out too much of the air. You want a light and fluffy mixture without any air pockets. 

Spoon the mousse into the bottoms of four glass tumblers or champagne flutes.  Place in the refrigerator for two hours. 

To do the berries, wash, dry, hull and slice into a bowl. Mix in the remaining ingredients gently.  Allow to stand at room temperature until the mousses have chilled and set.  Divide the berries and their juices amongst the glasses and serve immediately.

Its a bank holiday over here in the UK and I think it is Memorial Day in the United States.  This is the perfect dessert for a BBQ get-together.  You can double it with ease!  Bon Appetit!