Most things are improved by being clothed in pastry, and this Clementine shortcrust pastry adds an extra layer of flavour. This recipe can be varied by using other citrus fruits such as lime or lemon, but Clementine is a lovely festive twist. I use it to make my mincemeat crumble pies.

Citrus fruit works really well because the acid in the juice makes the pastry even crumblier while the zest is loaded with natural oils which flavours the pastry without upsetting any of the proper ratios of the recipe. Continue reading

Cranberry and White Chocolate Blondies are the perfect festive treat to bring along to all those Christmas gatherings that we have this time of year.I have, for some time, been lamenting that I can’t make the gorgeous Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies I made during the summer, so this is a reworking of the recipe that works for winter (a shameless reworking – I even use some of the same pictures!). The cranberries in this recipe bring the same tartness as the rhubarb and using orange really brings a warmth and sweetness too.

Cranberry and white chocolate blondies

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Mango and Lime Curd is utterly delicious. I have been obsessed with curds ever since I discovered that I could go beyond lemon (Not that I am knocking Lemon Curd, it is the original if not the best!). I know that I am still desperately clinging onto to summer tastes, but this a great treat to have in your fridge to brighten up the darkest November days.  It is particularly delicious added to yogurt for a cheerful if not entirely healthy breakfast. It looks so uplifting with it’s vivid yellow and speckles of zesty green!
Mango and Lime Curd jar

My lovely friend Sue bought me The Happy Pear cookery book and both of us instantly identified the healthy Coconut Macaroons as a ‘must bake’. Made with just a few ingredients, without processed sugar, gluten or dairy, they store well and are a perfect little pick me up in mid afternoon. They have helped me to avoid the all too readily available workplace sweets.

Healthy Coconut macaroons drizzled with dark chocolate from the Happy Pear Coockery Book

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Having swanned off to Italy and neglected my poor blog, I now present with a very non Italian recipe for Raspberry and Coconut Traybake. I promise the future holds recipes from all the inspiration I got on this wonderful Italian adventure. For now though, it’s all about traybakes.

Raspberry and Coconut Traybake

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Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies: Small dense pale coloured cakes. It’s cousin, the brownie often takes all the glory, but a blondie has an almost butterscotch quality that is so delicious. Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies are particularly good. Alongside the chewy sweetness of the white chocolate, the tart lime and rhubarb and the warmth of the spices, these are gorgeous. I actually think these are some of the tastiest things I have ever made. As often is the case, they are also really easy to make.

Rhubarb and White Chocolate Blondies

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I am very excited about the Ash Animal  Rescue Autumn Fayre! So much so I am writing a blog post without a recipe!

I wanted to write this little piece on a very special event that I am lucky enough to be part of. The Ash Animal Rescue in Kiltegan, Wicklow are holding a fundraising event on the 28th of September in the grounds of Duckett’s Grove Carlow.

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Here was my brief. A birthday celebration pudding made without refined sugar, dairy, gluten or cocoa. Yes, I did despair. I lamented. I wailed and pleaded. In normal circumstances the obvious option was to make the preferred pudding of the birthday girl, a sticky toffee pudding.  Was this possible without all the traditional ingredients? I refused to be beaten. They could take my sugar but they could never take my baking spirit.

 

Stickytoffeepudding

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Sometimes life can reward you in unexpected ways.

I have been going to and using the Moat Theatre in Naas, Co. Kildare since I was a teenager. Recently, when the cafe in the theatre became available for new management, I debated the option. I hummed and hawed but eventually decided that it wasn’t the right thing for me. Really what I wanted was to bake for a cafe. I was delighted when I realised a school friend, Amy had taken on the challenge. I was excited for the creativity and imagination she would bring to the venture. Amy asked me if I would be interested in baking for the newly named Duck and Cup Cafe, and it seemed like perfect serendipity.

Coffee Bundt Launch

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Biscuits PolaroidThese lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born of good intention and circumstances. I had planned a visit to some friends who are working tirelessly (and harder than I think I ever will) to renovate a new home. I had planned something along the chocolate line but my intentions were not strong enough to bear a walk in the rain to the shops, so I decided to be creative with what I had in stock.

I had a lemon and all the basics of baking (flour, butter, sugar and eggs). I am sure that some philosophical baker must, at some point, pondered how that this is all you need for greatness (in baking terms at least). I couldn`t resist the addition of some sesame seeds.(Maybe I amn`t philosophical enough) I had black sesame ice cream on a trip to Vancouver last year and it`s brilliance has influenced my cooking every since. Sesame has the ability to work perfectly in sweet and savoury dishes. Hence lemon and sesame seed biscuits were born.

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