Cooking masterclass with Rachel Allen

Ballymaloe relish is a staple in our house and it’s now one of those items in the “Did you forget…?” section when I’m ordering online groceries!

I was, therefore, delighted when I got invited to a cooking masterclass with Irish celebrity chef Rachel Allen from Ballymaloe Foods.

Rachel is a famous face in the culinary word and a regular on RTE. She’s all about quick but healthy and tasty family foods, which is definitely how I’ve been cooking lately. So, I couldn’t wait!

The masterclass was at Forestside Cookery School, which is run by chef Stephen Jeffers, which I’ve been to before and is brilliant.

When we arrived I was delighted to see it wasn’t simply a demo but that we would be getting stuck in and getting our hands dirty!

First up, we made brown soda bread/ wheaten bread. I make wheaten bread now and again but this recipe was different- this time using butter, eggs and a mixture of seeds on top of my usual recipe.

Everyone was working in pairs but there must have been an odd number because I ended up having to do it all on my own- which doubled the pressure!

The recipe for the brown soda bread/ wheaten bread is: 

  • 225g whole wheat (wholemeal) flour
  • 225g all-purpose (plain) flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda (bicarbonate of soda)
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) mixed seeds, such as sesame, pumpkin, or sunflower, or golden flax seeds (linseeds) (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) butter, softened (optional)
  • 1 egg
  • 375–400ml buttermilk or soured milk
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°F (220°C).
  2. Sift together the flours, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and mix in the seeds (if using). Add the butter (if using), and rub into the flour mixture with your fingertips until it resembles bread crumbs. Make a well in the centre.

  3. In another bowl, whisk the egg with the buttermilk and pour most of the liquid into the flour mixture. Using one hand with your fingers outstretched like a claw, bring the flour and liquid together, adding more of the buttermilk mixture, if necessary. The dough should be quite soft, but not too sticky.

  4. Turn onto a floured work surface and gently bring the dough together into a round about 1 1/2 inches (4cm) thick. Cut a deep cross on top and place on a baking sheet.

  5. Bake for 15 minutes. Turn down the heat to 400°F (200°C) and bake for 30 minutes more. When done, the loaf will sound slightly hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from the baking sheet and place on a wire rack to cool.

Once the bread came out of the oven, we topped it with cheese and Ballymaloe relish and it was perfect. I have a loaf home with me so I’ll be eating that over the next few days! 🙂

Next up was a take on the Mexican favourite, quesadillas.  Obviously, cheese is the main ingredient (as the name would suggest), but you can fill the quesadilla with whatever you like! For the purpose of the masterclass, we went for cheese, ham, and the Ballymaloe jalapeño relish to give it a feisty kick.

The recipe for the quesadillas is:

  • 4 x 8cm (7 inch) flour or corn tortillas
  • Salt and pepper
  • 100g Cheddar cheese, grated
  • 100g Bacon or ham, cooked and finely chopped
  • 1-2 tsp chives, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp parsley, chopped
  • Créme Fraiche or Ballymaloe jalapeño Pepper relish
  1. Lay a tortilla in an 18cm/7inch dry pan and place the grated cheese bacon, parsley and chives on it, spreading the filling evenly to within 2cm of the edges
  2. Spread a thin layer of relish over a second tortilla and place, relish side down, on top of the filling
  3. Place the pan on a low heat and fry until the quesadilla is crispy and golden on the outside and the cheese has melted in the middle
  4. Slide the quesadilla onto a chopping board and cut into wedges.

This worked really well and the relish was a lovely addition to the dish. Once we’d finished cooking, Rachel showed us how to make some family favourites, including potato salad with Ballymaloe French dressing, and a chicken and blue cheese salad with Ballymaloe cranberry sauce.

I loved the masterclass and came away inspired. Rachel kindly gifted us her cookbook and some Ballymaloe relishes and sauces, so I’ll be getting to work!

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Tesco Taste Northern Ireland- Thompson’s Tea

As I write this I have just finished my first week back at work after maternity leave. I was off for seven months after having a beautiful baby girl Niamh on New Years Day.

As any new mums know, having a cup of tea, never mind a hot cup of tea (!), can be a real luxury. Quick, she’s sleeping- put the kettle on! So, when Tesco NI asked if I would like to try some Thompson’s Tea, of course I had to say yes.

Thompson’s Tea is a Northern Irish tea blender whose range includes Punjana Original Blend, Titanic Blend and Irish Breakfast Blend. I received the Thompson’s Signature tea and Green Tea with Lemon.

Stocked up with the tea bags, I decided to host an afternoon tea party on my last day of maternity leave to say thanks for all the help I had received over the past few months. It was also my birthday so another perfect excuse for cake!

I’ve written on my blog numerous times about my love of afternoon tea so I wanted to give my own a go, including baking for the occasion.

To start, for the savoury layer, I made wheaten bread to be served with honey roast ham, mature cheddar and tomatoes. While the wheaten bread was in the oven, I whipped up some vanilla scones, which I served with butter and jam.

To finish Tesco kindly supplied me with some lovely sweet treats from local producers, Howells Florence Cake and Genesis Crafty buns.

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But of course, the best bit of any afternoon tea is…the tea!

I opted for the Signature blend which was a strong, full bodied cup of tea, without being too bitter. Thompson’s Tea have stated it is “tea like it used to taste”, because they have recreated the family’s original blend from way back in 1896. It’s a rich, flavoursome cup of tea and actually reminds me of loose leaf tea. Lovely!

The verdict? Well the afternoon tea went down a treat! Even my baking got some rave reviews!

Now, quick she’s sleeping, I’m off to enjoy another warm cuppa!

 

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Post originally appeared on Tesco NI website: https://www.tasteni.com/eat-me-drink-me/belfast-travels-takes-a-tea-break-from-motherhood

Afternoon treats with Andrew Ingredients

Last week I was invited along to Kingspan Stadium by Andrew Ingredients, a Lisburn-based business which provides products to the baking industry across Ireland.

The event was to showcase their extensive range of goods, as well as launch a new rugby-inspired bread product, NO 8, in partnership with German ingredients supplier IREKS.

Throughout the afternoon, Andrew Ingredients discussed the latest bakery innovations and advice, as well as offer an unbelievable choice of samples.

I’m not joking when I say I tried breads, buns, muffins, baps, donuts, brownies, cookies, pizza…..the list goes on!

Check out the rugby ball bread, if you get the chance!

Launch of NO 8

Musgrave Healthy Twitter Tasting!

Tonight I was invited by Musgrave Marketplace to try and make some healthy snacks in real time, following the recipes live on Twitter!

I’d never done something like this before and I’m pretty slow when cooking and baking, (checking and double checking the recipe books that I’m doing it right) so I was looking forward to trying it out as quickly as the 140 character Tweets were flowing.

I was sent the ingredients (and the hat!) from Musgrave and the blender from Kenwood and at 6pm I was ready to go!

On the Twitter menu…? A Nutty Banana Smoothie, Hummus and Protein Bounty Balls, all recipes from three time Olympian and cookbook author, Derval O’Rourke!

So how did I get on? Well here are the pics and recipes! It was a thumbs up from the family!

Thanks again to Musgrave- what a interesting way to learn!

Nutty Banana Smoothie

INGREDIENTS

1 banana, peeled
1 tbsp nut butter
3 tbsp porridge oats
1 tbsp milled flax seeds
200 ml almond milk
1 scoop Kinetica chocolate protein powder

Makes one tall glass.

METHOD

Place all ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.

Pour into a tall glass and serve, or pour into a BPA-free travel cup and take on the go.

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Hummus

INGREDIENTS

1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
4 large garlic cloves, finely chopped
zest and juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp good quality extra virgin olive oil
1-2 tsp tahini
1-2 tsp tabasco sauce
salt and pepper

Makes four large portions.

METHOD

Place all of the ingredients in a food processor and blitz until you have a smooth consistency.

Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve with crackers.

Store any leftover hummus in an airtight container and keep in the fridge.

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Bounty Bar

INGREDIENTS

3 scoops Kinetica chocolate protein powder
25g raw cacao powder
1tbsp agave/honey
40g porridge oats
40g unsweetened desiccated coconut, plus some for rolling
75ml almond milk
pinch of salt

Makes seven to eight bars.

METHOD

Mix all ingredients together in a bowl.

Scoop out onto parchment paper and form into a flat (about 2cm tall) square. Cut into squares or rectangles, roll in remaining desiccated coconut, and enjoy.

Best stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator

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IMG_7864And relax and enjoy!