Category: Food for Friends

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The best chocolate cake: Chocolate Orange Spice Cake

Chocolate Orange Spice Cake

I’ve always liked to bake. As soon as I was old enough to co-ordinate reading recipes and using a wooden spoon, I was anxious for any cake-making excuse – and most of them involved copious amounts of chocolate. Over the years there have been many good chocolate cakes, from my early attempts using chocolate-flavoured cake covering and marg to (when I started paying for my own shopping!) butter and 70% dark chocolate. This cake, however, although it may not look like much, stands head and shoulders above the rest.

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0

Strawberries for not so sunny days: Strawberry and Peach Sundae

Strawberry and Peach Sundae

Here’s a desert that’s perfect eaten outside in the late evening sunshine – or to cheer up a rainy day. There’s no real need for quantities as the amounts depend on how many people you are trying to make the strawberries stretch between, how big the glasses are and how greedy your audience!Chop up the fruit before dinner and toss with the sugar so that the juices start to run then assemble the sundaes just before eating so that the biscuits don’t get soggy. With each mouthful of sweet fruit, fragrant juice, cool yoghurt and almond crunch you could be almost forgiven for thinking that it’s summertime.

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8

Summer days at the lighthouse: Lighthouse Ling

Galley Head Lighthouse

Driving to Galley Head Lighthouse is a bit like a magical mystery tour. Although easy to see from a variety of locations along the West Cork coast, the lighthouse – like an ever-receeding mirage – seems to disappear from sight the closer you get. Eventually, however, after driving constantly south of Clonakilty, past numerous private property signs and along a low-lying road, protected on either side by stone walls, you get to where you can drive no further. The lighthouse stands at the tip of a peninsula, surrounded by the sea, and the lighthouse keeper’s house that we were staying in is part of a two-sided structure that shelters the parking area at the front from the northern and western winds.

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Cooking in France 4

Cooking in France

1 saucepan + 1 gas burner + 1 vegetarian + 2 omnivores (1 very much on the carni- side of omnivore) = very simple one-pot cooking in the campsite at night. It’s not difficult to do with a small store of non-perishable picnic basket perennials – olive oil, harissa paste, sherry vinegar, grainy mustard, Maldon salt and the tiniest pepper grinder – and a few purchases from the local market and shops, including garlic and onions, sun-warmed tomatoes, the sweetest of sweet peppers, a selection of cheese, pâté and salami (to keep the meat-lovers happy), les oeufs biologique (organic eggs) and a few tins of haricot beans and lentils.

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1

Make-ahead Caramel Cake for Saturday barbeques

Working Saturdays means that any weekend entertaining needs to be planned and organised well in advance, especially when it comes to Saturday night barbeques at the cottage. The Naas Cousin was coming to stay so I grabbed the opportunity to get a few of the cousins together. There wasn’t anything complex on offer: free-range chicken drumsticks marinaded for a little while in my thrown together barbeque sauce (mix enough tomato ketchup, wholegrain mustard, cider vinegar, soy sauce and seasonings to coat the chicken. Allow to stand. Throw on barbeque.), some decent meaty sausages, homemade mini-beef burgers and an assortment of roasted vegetables (red and yellow peppers, spring onions, large mushrooms with garlic butter and lemon, sweetcorn with smoked garlic salt). The Husband normally does the cooking outside while I look after the prep in the kitchen as there are always a couple of salads to assemble. This time it was a Pasta and Flageolet Bean Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing alongside a Green Salad with Blue Cheese, Nectarines and Savoury Seeds, dressed with Sweet Blackberry Vinaigrette. Working Saturdays means that any weekend entertaining needs to be planned and organised well in advance, especially when it comes to Saturday night barbeques at the cottage. The Naas Cousin was coming to stay so I grabbed the opportunity to get a few of the cousins together. There wasn’t anything complex on offer: free-range chicken drumsticks marinaded for a little while in my thrown together barbeque sauce (mix enough tomato ketchup, wholegrain mustard, cider vinegar, soy sauce and seasonings to coat the chicken. Allow to stand. Throw on barbeque.), some decent meaty sausages, homemade mini-beef burgers and an assortment of roasted vegetables (red and yellow peppers, spring onions, large mushrooms with garlic butter and lemon, sweetcorn with smoked garlic salt). The Husband normally does the cooking outside while I look after the prep in the kitchen as there are always a couple of salads to assemble. This time it was a Pasta and Flageolet Bean Salad with Sundried Tomato Dressing alongside a Green Salad with Blue Cheese, Nectarines and Savoury Seeds, dressed with Sweet Blackberry Vinaigrette.

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2

Chocolate for Easter: Chocolate Hazelnut Mini-Puds

chocolateforeaster.jpg I think my mother has one of her legendary Pavlovas already in the works for the aftermath of the Easter family lunch but, if you’re not going to be as lucky, these Chocolate Hazelnut Mini-Puds, adapted from a Nigella recipe, are well worth trying. This mixture makes eight – serving our family of seven, with one left over to fight for – but it’s a very easy thing to halve the recipe if you are serving less people. You do not want to over cook these mini-puddings so the easiest way to make them is to melt the butter and dark chocolate just before lunch, leave to cool then combine with the rest of the pre-weighed ingredients as everyone relaxes after the lamb (it’s Easter – it has to be lamb!), sticking it into the oven while the table is cleared and the obligatory pot of post-lunch tea is made. And please do serve with the recommended jug of pouring cream – the combination of cold cream, gooey chocolate interior, crunchy hazelnuts (and, in the spirit of keeping this simple, I don’t worry about peeling them) and crusty sponge is truly worth enjoying in concentrated silence.

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