Hoppy Beer Pickles

With the boy as a brewer and endless amounts of beer that comes into the flat I decided to do something other than just drink it, much to do his disappointment.

Beer Pickled Pickles!

These are so easy to do and really taste fantastic. I recommend a hoppy beer, here I used Lagunitas IPA but I’ve also done it with one of the boys brews for my sister wedding! Use whatever beer makes you happy, though I wouldn’t recommend a stout!

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As it’s just two of us here I made this into a smaller recipe, but you can easily double or triple it! Just up the quantities and jar size!

Makes one 500ml Jar 20170729_164747.jpg

Ingredients 
100g Beer
150g Apple Vinegar
100g Granulated Sugar
15g Yellow Mustard Seeds
10g Whole Peppercorns
20g Pink Himalayan Salt
1tsp Chilli Flakes
400g Snacking Cucumbers

Method
Place the beer, vinegar and sugar into a pan. Place on a medium heat and stir occasionally until the sugar has dissolved. Add the remaining ingredients, bar the cucumbers and leave to simmer for about 10 minutes.
Sterilise your jar. Do this by filling up with hot, soapy water, rinse clean and place in the oven on a low heat for 10 minutes. Or wash in the dishwasher. Your jar needs to be warm when you fill it though.
Top and tail your cucumbers. Slice into quarters and put them into your jar standing up right. Try and wedge in as many as you can.
Pour over the pickle mix, covering the cucumbers. Knock out the air bubbles by lightly tapping on the surface and seal.
Leave for at least 4 days before devouring. I recommend a good cheese board with some hard cheeses or in a cheese toastie!20170806_141524.jpg

Caramelised Pecans

Caramelised pecans are such a treat in our household! I love them but they aren’t exactly the healthiest thing I make. But they are perfect for movie nights, girls nights in, or even just a Friday night snack!

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Ingredients

200g Pecans

5 tbsp, Light Brown Sugar (firmly packed)

1 tbsp Golden Syrup

1 tbsp Unsalted Butter

 

Method

Pre heat your oven to 180°C (160°C fan)

Roast your pecans for about 10 minutes, until you get that lovely roasting aroma.

Meanwhile, in a large pan add the sugar, golden syrup and butter. Melt on a medium heat, stirring constantly, until it bubbles. Stir in the toasted pecans. Make sure they are all covered.

Place back onto the roasting bad and spread out evenly. Place back in the oven for 7-10 minutes. Remove and allow to completely cool before breaking into pieces.

These should last 2 weeks in an air tight container!

Classic Peanut Butter and Cacao Bites

This is a super easy, simple snack – only five ingredients! So I am keeping this post super simple too…

These are perfect for a little pick me up and last about 1 week in an airtight container. Not only are they simple to make there is hardly any washing up! Win win in my eyes!

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Ingredients

90g Oats

35g Honey

70g Crunch Peanut Butter

15g Cacao Powder

2 tsp Sesame Seeds

 

Method

Begin by placing all the ingredients a bowl. Give it a good stir, add two tablespoons of water to loosen up the mixture. Keep mixing until the mixture comes together.Screenshot_20170518-180336

Take a tablespoon of the mixture (approx. 20g) and roll into a ball. Continue doing this until all the mixture has finished, it should make around 12.

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Munch away! These are also perfect with a cuppa 😉

 

 

Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam AND Bakewell Tart recipes

HAPPY SUNDAY!! It’s spring time (ish!) and I’m getting into preserves and fermenting recently. I think it’s great to stop wasting food but also I find it’s really therapeutic. It’s great to get a product at the end that shows such love and care. It’s also a great way to liven up your cupboard – no more plain strawberry jam for us! You can also use smaller jars and give them to friends and family as gifts.

I know these berries aren’t in season, they literally are called Summer Berries but I’m new and wanted to try with some fruit I knew before doing anything too crazy. I used frozen berries but you can obviously use fresh when they get into season. 

And what’s better than using your homemade jam in a Bakewell tart! It’s also a great way to show off, how many times can you say that it’s completely homemade. So here are the two recipes for you…but don’t worry if you don’t like Bakewell Tarts, the jam goes fantastically on toast (even with some cheeky peanut butter too!)


Summer Fruit and Thyme Jam

650g Mixed Berries (I used blackberries, raspberries, red currents and black currents!)

1tbsp water

35ml lemon juice (approx. half a lemon or use pre juiced)

550g Caster Sugar

1.5tbsp thyme, finally chopped

 

Yields approx. 0.5l

 

Place all the berries with the water into a deep, heavy bottomed pan and place on a low heat for 10 minutes to soften. Add the lemon juice and sugar, stir and bring to the boil until it reaches 104°C.

While you are doing this sterilise your jars! Turn your oven to the lowest setting and place your jars in there for about 15 min.

Take the jam off the heat and use the wrinkle test to check it’s ready. Do this by placing a spoon in the jam, using another spoon, on the back of the spoon push a strip through the jam. You are looking for it not to spring back. Stir through the thyme leaves

Spoon into your jars and seal! Your jam should last 6-12 months unopened. Once opened consume within 4-6 weeks.
Bakewell Tart

Sweet Shortcrust Pastry

225g plain flour, plus extra for dusting

150g butter, chilled

25g icing sugar

1 large free-range egg, beaten

Frangipane Filling

150g butter, softened

150g caster sugar

150g ground almonds

1 large free-range egg, beaten

1 tsp almond extract

Icing

300g icing sugar

1 tsp almond extract

3tbsp Water
Method

First start with the pastry. Measure the flour into a large bowl with the cold butter. Using your finger tips, rub the butter until it resembles fine breadcrumbs. Add in the icing sugar and stir using your hands. Pour in the beaten egg and mix to form a soft dough. It can be a tad sticky but it will be fine. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface, approx 5mm thick. Place into your 23cm/9in fluted flan dish. Pop in the fridge for 40 minutes. 

Pre heat your oven to 180C Fan/200C/Gas Mark 6.

Scrunch up some baking paper and place on top of your pastry. Fill with baking beans, or in my case uncooked rice! They both do the same trick! Just make sure you push it into the corners. Bake blind for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and take out the rice and bake for a further 7 minutes. Remove and reduce the heat of the oven to 160C Fan/180C/Gas 4 Leave to cool while making your filling.

For the frangipane, cream the butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy. Add the ground almonds, egg and almond extract and mix.

Place 5tbsp of your lovely homemade jam into the cooled pastry case. Spread evenly, making sure you get into the edges. Top with your frangipane mix. Carefully push this to the edges making sure you can’t see any jam. A spatula is the easiest way for doing this. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until golden-brown and a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely in the tin.

For the icing, sift the icing sugar into a bowl. Stir in the almond extract and about 3 tablespoons cold water to make a smooth, fairly thick icing. When the tart has cooled completely, spoon the icing on top and spread to form a smooth surface. Leave to set the icing to set (I know it’s hard! But you’ll hate yourself if you don’t) serve in slices. I recommend some yogurt and some raspberries to top it, makes a great dessert! 

Recipe – Cucumber and Mint Cordial

20170305_100213It’s still raining here in Dublin and I’m very much dreaming of sunny days! I can’t wait until I don’t need to wear extra layers or a waterproof every time I go out. As I can’t magic the weather better, or afford to leave the country, I decided to bring summer into the house. What’s more summery than cucumber and mint? I can now sit in the house, with the heating on, dreaming of picnics and sunshine with my Cucumber and Mint Gin and Tonic!!

 

Ingredients

2 cucumbers

3 large handfuls of mint

300 ml water

300g granulated sugar

20ml lemon juice

 

Yields 700ml

 

Method

20170305_100232Chop 1 1/2 cucumbers into cubes and remove the mint leaves from the stalks. Place into a large bowl and blitz with a hand blender until smooth.Strain through a muslin cloth into a bowl. Leave overnight (or at least 8 hours!). Don’t squeeze the bag, as tempting as it might be.
Measure out 500ml of the juice. Adjust the recipe if you don’t yield enough liquid. This does sometimes happen if the cucumbers are a little dryer. Place into a heavy bottom pan with the water, sugar and lemon juice. Simmer on a low heat until the sugar has dissolved and then for a further 15 minutes. Stir the mixture occasionally.20170305_100247

While the liquid is on the heat, turn on the oven onto the lowest setting to sterilise your jar. Place it in the oven for around 15 minutes, until warm to touch.

Remove from the heat. Skim off any scum that is on the surface, and re strain through your muslin cloth. Pour into your freshly sterilised, warm bottle and seal.

This cordial can be drunk in many ways! With water, lemonade, gin and tonic! Using a potato peeler, create ribbons of cucumber using the remaining half. Place this with a sprig of mint and drink! J

Keeps for 6 month unopened, once opened keep refrigerated consume within 4-6 weeks.

 

 

Homemade Brownies – the ultimate treat!

Having a good baking week, marshmallows last week and now brownies!

So with winter seem to be wanting to stick around you can’t go wrong with lots of baking!! I’m sure you’ve just realised I am not good with the cold, and I’m very much a summer baby. I think in a previous life I could have been a bear, they seem to have the right idea of hiding from the winter cold and hibernating until spring. Everyone knows when I think it’s time to hide as the space boots (aka winter, furry, warm boots) come out and the brogues go into hibernation too!

My go to sweet treat is Brownies…the soft gooey, just holding their shape ones! That with a cup of tea is my perfect evening, oh and I guess the boy being there makes it nice too. This is my favourite recipe for brownies; they are versatile so you can add a topping or ingredients in them if you want to jazz them up. They make a great dessert for dinner parties too. Cut them into smaller squares and layer them with cream and berries in a nice glass!

I know a lot of people will see this and go “No real chocolate! These can’t be that good!” but trust me they are. Good quality cocoa powder can work wonders. Don’t use drinking powders as that has additional sugar in which won’t give the same depth as a rich good quality powder.

I did these ones in an 8”x12” Riess enamel tray! Depending how thick/big you want them you can do them in anything from an 8” square tin to 9”x13” just adjust the cooking time – thick ones will take a lot longer!

Ingredients

4 Eggs

450g Caster Sugar

Add to Sugar

150g Plain Flour

2 tsp Vanilla Extract

135g Cocoa Powder

150g Butter

 

Method

Pre heat the oven to 160°C (fan)/180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and line an 8”x12” tin.

Melt the butter and stir into the cocoa until it forms a paste and set aside. Whisk the eggs and sugar until it is pale and ribbons form. Add in the vanilla extract and whisk again. Add the flour and whisk until smooth followed by the cocoa paste.

Bake in the oven for around 30-35 minutes. They should be soft to touch and when a skewer is inserted it won’t come out completely clean as you want them to stay gooey.

Either serve straight away or cold later on. If you decide later on you want them warm, you can wrap individual pieces in cling film and place in the microwave for 30-1 minute, until warm and gooey again.

 

You can top with the following if you fancy it –

Marshmallows – nicely sprinkle over evenly about half way through your baking time

Salted Caramel– swirl and drizzle onto the brownie before baking

Nutella – melt approx. 150g so its thinner and drizzle over the top

Crunch Peanut Butter – 100-150g chopped roasted salted peanuts, mix some into the mixture and sprinkle some on top!

 

Almond and Vanilla Marshmallows

It’s cold and dreary outside which has meant a lot of hot beverages in the Young-Isard household. I’m currently addicted to almond milk hot chocolates! I was sat on the sofa and was getting annoyed that we never had marshmallows in the house to accompany my lovely hot chocolates. So instead of buying some (way too easy an option!) I ran to the shops and picked up some gelatine to make my own!! So here are my Almond and Vanilla Marshmallows…

If you don’t like almonds, don’t be put off, just replace the extract with another flavour of your choice or do all vanilla!

Enjoy!

 

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Ingredients

60g Icing Sugar

60g Cornstarch (or potato starch)


Pink Almond Layer

60ml water

½ tsp almond extract

2 sachets of gelatine (26g)

¼ tsp red food dye

170g caster sugar

175g golden syrup

Pinch of salt

60ml Water

 

White Vanilla Layer

15ml water

½ tsp vanilla paste

1 sachets of gelatine (13g)

85g caster sugar

90g golden syrup

Pinch of salt

30ml Water

 

Optional…

100g dark chocolate

50g flaked almonds, finely chopped

 

Method

In a small bowl sift the sugar and cornstarch together. Using a pastry brush coat a 28x18cm tin with vegetable oil (or an oil with no flavour) and sprinkle over the icing sugar. Tip the left overs back into the bowl and save for later.

Start with the almond layer. In a large mixing bowl (or stand mixer!) add the 60ml water, ½ tsp almond extract, 2 gelatine sachets and ¼ tsp food dye and leave to stand. While this is setting, in a saucepan add the 170g sugar, 175g golden syrup, pinch of salt and 60ml water. Place on a medium heat and give a quick stir. Place in a thermometer; I’ve got a digital one it makes life so much easier. Though it is not essential a normal sugar thermometer will do the job. Heat the mixture to 115°C (240°F), remove from the heat immediately. Turn on your mixer (carefully if you’re using a hand mixer) and slowly drizzle the sugar mixture into the gelatine gradually. Once it is all in turn the speed up and whisk for about 10 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and still slightly warm. Grease up your spatula with vegetable oil and spoon the marshmallow into your tin.  Spread it out evenly. Once it’s all flat, tap the tin on the surface. It will release the air bubbles.

Clean your equipment ready to make the white vanilla layer.

Repeat the process with the Vanilla ingredients.

In your bowl add the 30ml water, ¼ tsp vanilla paste, and 1 gelatine sachet and leave to stand. While this is setting, in a saucepan add the 85g sugar, 90g golden syrup, pinch of salt and 30ml water. Place on a medium heat and give a quick stir. Place in your thermometer. Heat the mixture to 115°C (240°F), remove from the heat immediately. This will happen a lot quicker than your almond layer as there is a lot less mixture. Turn on your mixer and slowly drizzle the sugar mixture into the gelatine gradually. Once it is all in turn the speed up and whisk for about 7 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and still slightly warm. Grease up your spatula with vegetable oil and spoon the marshmallow over the pink layer.  Spread it out evenly. Once it’s all flat, again tap the tin on the surface.

Dust will your icing sugar/cornstarch mixture. Leave to set for at least 1 hour!

You now have options! Either cut them into small or large squares, covering in the icing/starch mixture and leave them plain. Or if you cut them into larger squares you can dip them in dark chocolate and then into chopped almond flakes or just leave them as dark chocolate! To do this, melt the dark chocolate with in a glass bowl over simmering water in a pan or in the microwave on 15 second bursts. Chop the nuts and place in a small bowl. First dunk the marshmallows into the melted chocolate, about 1/3 up. Either place onto some baking parchment to harden or into the almonds. Leave to set.

Now snuggle down with a hot chocolate and your marshmallows and watch the world go by!