Tag Archives: Recipes

Food Monday – Butternut Squash & Rhubarb Soup

Another recipe from my big cook-up. I had some cooked rhubarb and went searching for a different way to use it. I found a recipe for butternut squash & rhubarb soup. It sounded interesting but called for a pressure cooker to cook the squash and the onion…. I had ideas of my own.

Butternut Squash & Rhubarb Soup
Preheat the oven to 200°C

1.25 kg butternut squash, peeled, de-seeded and cut in chunks
2 tablespoon of vegetable oil
Good pinch of ground coriander
Good pinch of nutmeg
Salt and black pepper
A dash of white wine
1 ¾ pints of chicken stock
½ jar of my onion marmalade (see Food Monday for last week)
8 ozs of rhubarb
1 tbsp caster sugar
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander.

In a large bowl place the oil, coriander, nutmeg, salt & black pepper,
and white wine and stir. Add the butternut squash chunks and toss to coat in the oil mixture. Spread in a single layer on a baking tray and roast in the preheated oven for 25 minutes or until golden and soft. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

While the squash is roasting, wipe and cut the rhubarb into chunks, place in an oven proof dish with 1 tablespoon of caster sugar, cover and cook on the lowest oven shelf for about 10 minutes. When cooked remove from the oven, stir to break down the chunks, cover and leave in the dish to cool slightly.

When the butternut squash is cooked transfer to a large saucepan. Add the onion marmalade and the chicken stock, stir and cook on high for about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat allow to cool before liquidising in a blender. Add the pureed rhubarb and 1 tablespoon of chopped coriander. Season to taste.

Food Monday – Grannymar’s Onion Jam/Marmalade.

As I have told you, I had a busy few weeks cooking and preparing food for my freezer prior to my eye surgery. This recipe is a variation of my original one and prepared in typical mammy fashion: Have an idea of what you want to cook, select ingredients you have in the fridge or pantry and go for it!

Grannymar’s Onion Jam/Marmalade.

1 kilo peeled, quartered and finely sliced onions*
3 tablespoons olive oil.
4 tablespoons runny honey
3 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
4 tablespoons Vermouth or white wine

* I had three red (Spanish) onions, one brown and a bag of shallots. Next time, I will bung the peeled onions in a blender a pulse a few times – it will save time slicing & chopping!

Heat oil in a deep pan over moderate heat, add onions and stir well. I also place a disc of greaseproof paper over the onions in the saucepan lightly pressed down as it helps them sweat and soften. Replace lid and cook gently for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and greaseproof paper, if the onions are not all soft, give them a stir and replace the greaseproof and the lid and cook for another few minutes. DO Not allow to burn.
Add the remaining ingredients, stir, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for another 30 minutes. Stir from time to time to prevent sticking.

Remove the lid and cook for a further 20 minutes, stirring regularly.

While the onions are working their magic, wash the jars and lids and place them on their sides in a preheated oven 150°C for at least 10 minutes.

Carefully remove the jars and fill with the warm onions, cover & seal. Allow to cool before storing.

Elly loved it and a jar was almost emptied before she went home. Now don’t eat all of it before next week, as we need some for my next Food Monday recipe!

Food Monday ~ Nana’s Barley Water

I was asked to share this recipe, I promised to do so last Monday, but alas, I missed the date.  I apologise for the delay.
Nana’s Barley Water
approx 2 litres

1 light cup Pearl barley –6 to 8 ounces
2 litres water, more or less depending on how thick you want it.
Juice of 1-2 lemons.
Honey or sugar, to taste*

Rinse barley. Put it in a large soup pot with the water.

Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and let simmer for at least an hour, until the grains are cooked and softened. Add more water if needed.

Strain the liquid and add honey/sugar and lemon, to taste. Cool refrigerate. Use within three to four days.

The finished drink will be cloudy and settle when stored in the fridge, Stir before pouring and drinking.

*Cranberry juice, can be used to flavour the Barley water.

NB: Avoid cranberry juice or extracts if you’re taking warfarin, Cranberry juice can make the effects of warfarin more potent, so there’s a risk of excessive bleeding.

Note: Mammy was known as Nana once the grandchildren arrived!

Food Monday ~ Two for the price of one


I had a different post in mind for today, but I already wrote it last year.

So since I have not posted any recipes for quite some time, I will do so today in honour of the lady in the link above – Mammy.

I learned at my mother’s side, all those years ago….. that having a recipe sitting in front of you, does not mean the dish or cake will turn out as printed! 😉

His recipe for Cranberry Walnut Apple Cake was shared with us by Cecilia of THEKITCHENSGARDEN back at the end of last year. She described it as being very moist and soft in texture. I liked the sound of it and was anxious to try it. I made it, loved it and will do so again and again.

I was a little worried about the moisture level: sugar, oil, eggs and cranberries, especially if the fruit had been frozen. So using my carrot cake recipe for reference (it is made with oil), I began with one cup of muscavado sugar the only brown in my pantry that day. A whiz round and it still looked oily, so I added another tablespoonful of caster sugar. Happy with that I added the eggs and vanilla.

The dry ingredients were as listed, and added to the food processor. The mixture seemed heavy like soft toffee, but I continued and put the mixture in a large bowl before adding and mixing by hand, the remaining ingredients.

I used:

1. Whole fresh cranberries – well, as fresh as they can be after swimming across the pond, we do not grow them in these parts.
2. A diced Bramley apple – about 350g before the skin and core were removed.
3. Walnut pieces without further chopping.
4. Lemon zest.

I like to see what I am eating in a cake.

My next change was to use my holy tin savarin cake tin for more surface area and to prevent a soggy middle. The extra, I put in a one pound loaf tin. And baked them at 175°C/340°F. The small cake was ready after an hour and I covered the ring tin with greaseproof paper for another 30 minutes.

resting and cooling

resting and cooling

Once cooled, I cut the small cake. It was delicious and not too sweet, nicely moist, but inclined to crumble when sliced. I liked the fact that it was possible to taste each individual fruit and nut piece.

want a slice

want a slice

I did make it again, this time doubling the quantities and filled two 2lb and two 1lb loaf tins. I used a small on in the days leading up to the holidays, gifted the other one to a friend, I wanted a two pounder for my sister and wrapped and froze the last one. When I thawed that last loaf cake, it cut like a dream in perfect slices without crumbling and tasted perfect!

Cranberry Walnut Apple Cake

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar and
1/2 cup vegetable oil
add 2 eggs and 1 tsp vanilla
In separate bowl.

2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt

stir then add

2 cups grated apple,
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
1/2 pound fresh or frozen (thawed) cranberries
the zest of a lemon

Toss, coating fruit in flour mixture.

Add to oil mixture, stir – then into baking tin and bake at 350 for 50 -60 minutes. Or until the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin and firm to the touch.


On Saturday last, I was in the mood to bake so I set this recipe on the counter. Since fresh cranberries were not available, I decided to try a little variation of apples apricots, and pecans adding ground almonds and almond extract in place of the vanilla.

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake
Preheat the oven to 175°C/340°F

1 1/2 cups light brown sugar and
1/2 cup vegetable oil
add 3 eggs and 1 tsp almond extract
In separate bowl.

2 cups flour
⅓ cup of ground almonds
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 tsp salt

stir then add

2 cups diced apple,
1/2 cup roughly chopped Pecans
1/2 pound ready to eat apricots, quartered

Toss, coating fruit in flour mixture.

Add to oil mixture, stir – then into baking tin and bake for 50 -60 minutes. Or until the cake is coming away from the sides of the tin and firm to the touch.

This time I used a rectangular spring loaded tin and it worked perfectly and sliced like a dream.

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake

Apricot Pecan & Apple Cake

Fancy a slice?

Fancy a slice?

Today I will enjoy a slice or two as I sing a quiet Happy 101st Birthday to Mammy!

UPDATE: Viv asked about converting weights and measures.  This graphic below may help her and anyone else who might be confused.

Weights and Measures

Weights and Measures

A page from an old magazine that I found years ago. You can zoom in on any section. I think it covers most of the FAQs to do with baking.


Food Monday ~ Caramelised Onion and Fennel

Caramelised Onion and Fennel

3 tbsp Olive oil
3 large onion, thinly sliced
2-3 bulbs of fennel, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon honey
salt and pepper
Balsamic vinegar
Heat olive oil in a heavy saucepan to a moderate heat. Add the sliced onion and fennel, salt and pepper and coat with the oil. Cover with a layer of greaseproof and replace the lid on the saucepan and reduce the heat a little. Allow the onion/fennel mix to sweat and soften for about 15 minutes. Remove the lid and paper, stir in the honey. Continue to cook the onions and stir occasionally as the onions begin to brown and have a sticky consistency. (about 15-20 minutes.)
At this stage, add a dash of Balsamic vinegar, cook for another 5 minutes.

While the onions are working their magic, wash the jars and lids and place them on their sides in a preheated oven 150°C for at least 10 mins.

Carefully remove the jars and fill with the onion mixture while still hot, cover & seal.

This recipe is very versatile, it can be used with salads, cold meats or as a topping for pizza.  It also works well on crackers with pre dinner drinks.


It was a long day

Yes. A very long day, but I have plenty to show for it.

When I woke for the second time this morning, daylight had dawned, so I decided to win the window race. I have given in on climbing ladders outdoors, and my window cleaner was about due, so I wanted the insides sparkling. I was half way through when he arrived. At one stage we were both working on the same window pane! He on the outside and me on the inside.

Was it really brighter for longer this afternoon, or was it my imagination?

Who said it was only the lack of dirt? How very dare you!

it was not yet 10:00 and I needed to sit down. I did. In the kitchen. Slicing Bell peppers, all nine of them in tiny pieces.

My days work

My days work

Left to right above

1. Nine bell peppers gave me two jars of my Slow peppers.

2. I had 1,000g of cooked beetroot, so it was grated for Beetroot Pickle. Two and a half jars of beetroot will soon disappear. It is good for lowering blood pressure!

3. Next up, I sliced onions finely for Italian Tomato sauce. Not sure if I posted that one, It is a Rufus Food & Spirits Guide special. I have filled one jar for the fridge (second right) and have more to portion and freeze as soon as it is cold.

4. The final jar above is a new one to me – Caramelised onion and fennel, it came with the Italian Tomato sauce above. I had a wee taste. Yummy. I am a big fennel fan – raw in a salad, roasted and now in this new dish.

I’m very busy.

I think I told you that I might be busy this week. Well, that is a bit of an understatement. My little car and I had a long drive on Saturday, only arriving at my first lodgings in the early afternoon. The landlady was at the door to meet me with a very welcoming smile. Out she comes to the car, taking a wee nosey into the back seat, and asks: “Do you want to unpack now, or lock up and have a cup of coffee first?”


I had two bags on the back seat of the car, so I said I would bring them in with me and leave the rest for later, safely locked in my boot/trunk. One of the bags on the back seat had been driving me crazy for the past couple of hours of my journey, so much so, that I nearly pulled off the road to devour a fresh loaf of Veda bread, a malted bread sold in Northern Ireland. In another cake box was a still warm experiment (cake)* that I had made that morning. I needed to open the box and allow it to cool properly for an hour.


So, I was welcomed indoors. Before I had reached the kitchen with the goodies, yer wan, the landlady, says to me: “I have a job for you”.




There was I thinking I was on my holidays. I’m telling you, I nearly took my three loves of Veda bread and one hot cake back to the car to find another guest house for the duration. But the other residents pleaded with me to stay. They danced rings round me and told me not to go. So I took pity on them and stayed. Over the very welcome cup of coffee, which came with Danish pastries, I was told about the job in store for me.


On one side of the kitchen was the greatest collection of saucepans/pots lined up in a row. On the opposite side were eight bowls standing like soldiers on parade, lined up from the largest to smallest. It almost looked like a factory production line. The largest bowl was covered and I realised it had a wooden spoon under that cover, my beady eye saw the handle sticking out. I also noted the new box of greaseproof paper, a scissors and a large ball of string and a bottle of Guinness! Now, being the month of June and not yet the longest day of the year, I was a little confused. Had my long drive brought me forward in time as well as miles? It could not be October already – The sun was shining! A mighty army of pots, boiling kettles, bowls and the other paraphernalia could mean one thing: Puddings. Christmas puddings.


Yes! I got it in one. My landlady, I discover, had never actually made Christmas puddings from scratch before in her life. Why would she, since she was the baby in the family and she had a mother & big sister who chopped the peel and grated the breadcrumbs and half their knuckles with it, every winter in order to feed the hoards on the big day, New year’s day and don’t forget the pudding for St Patrick’s day as well. So here was my landlady, read sister, attempting the puddings for the very first time. She had mammy’s no suet pudding recipe, and had it almost ready.,


“The whiskey is in.” says she, “But I was not sure about the Guinness, I have no idea what consistency the mixture should be.”


I gave the mix a stir and said: A pudding mixture should be much softer than a cake, so pour in about a third of that bottle of Guinness and we will see how it feels. Remember, any remaining stout is for the cook! She poured and I mixed, I let her have a go so she would get the feel of it. We added a little more, not as much as last time and it was right for our quantities. Eileen was using double the ingredients of mine in the link above.


We filled the seven greased bowls (she worked, I supervised) leaving space for expansion. I showed her how to prepare the greaseproof covers with pleats in, and how to tie them well before adding a handle. Fair dues to the sister, making puddings on a warm sunny day was not so daft after all. The windows and doors were all open and the extractor fan did the rest. It was possible to put them on to boil, set a timer and go off to enjoy the garden. By dinnertime, four of the pots were ready to come off.

puddings boiling

puddings boiling

The baby one, read tester, was ready to eat for dessert – part of mammy’s tradition.


Minding dessert

The other three would be cooked early the next morning. And all would be given another boiling closer to the day they were needed.


* The cake experiment was a variation on my Lemon drizzle cake.  You can find that recipe under cakes in the Recipe page up in the Header Bar. This time, I made the mix as normal and when putting it into the baking tin, I dotted small spoonfuls of lemon curd randomly between the cake mixture.

Food Monday ~ Duck Soup

I am not talking about the 1933 Movie with the Marx Brothers: Groucho, Harpo, Chico & Zeppo. No way!

The tantalizing aroma in my kitchen right now is coming from the stock pot on the cooker. The carcass & leg bones from yesterdays duck, with an onion, celery and carrot are simmering since seven of the clock this morning.

It smells like a mighty stock in progress.

I carefully stripped the remains of the meat last night and they are for adding to the soup with the juice of an orange and a dash from a bottle 😉 at the final stage later today.



Nancy at Spirit Lights the way tempted my taste buds last week with a photo of Sweet Potato Fries seasoned with Lime Salt & Fresh Mint with a Sweet and Spicy Dipping Sauce on the side.

It sounded like it was right up my street.

  • Sweet potatoes. Check
  • Lime. Check
  • Rock salt. Check.
  • Fresh Mint. Alas I had finished the last of it a couple of days earlier.

I did have some Sweet Chilli sauce to which I added a teaspoon of honey and a dash from my ever open vermouth. So I set to work.

First I zested a lime and found a small screw top jar for salt and zest. I gave them a shake and left it to work the magic.

Zested Lime for Lime Salt & Chilli Dip

Zested Lime for Lime Salt & Chilli Dip

Later I scrubbed some sweet potatoes and parsnips (my own touch) and cut them into chunky chips.

Lime salted Sweet potato & parsnip Chips

Lime salted Sweet potato & parsnip Chips

My starter to enjoy by the fire!

Thank you Nancy!

Food Monday ~ Lemon Spinach with Pancetta & Walnuts

Lemon Spinach with Pancetta & Walnuts

450g spinach
50g butter
2 tablespoons walnut oil
100g pancetta, chopped
1 garlic clove, chopped
100g walnut halves
Grated rind and juice of 2 lemons

Remove the stalks from the spinach, wash and then dry in a salad spinner.
Heat the butter and oil in a large frying pan with the pancetta, garlic and walnuts.
Cook until the pancetta is crisp, garlic golden and the nuts are toasted.
Add the spinach, lemon juice and lemon rind to the pan. Cook the spinach for 2 minutes over high heat , stirring all the time.
Remove from the heat and keep warm until ready to serve.