Baking and stuff, Flapjacks

Yeah! Flapjacks!

photo 2 (3)


I’ve been very lax recently. While home cooking continued on course, the time to photograph, write up and record was in short supply. Tonight, I accomplished all three and feel pretty proud of myself!

Flapjacks remind me of being in the Girl Guides. I’m not sure why as I never remember making them then. As my sojourn into the Guides was short-lived, it is little wonder my memory is so scratchy! I know I didn’t get a badge for baking them because that was earned for baking brown bread. Hard as a rock because there was a misprint in the recipe, which called for ‘milk’ and not ‘buttermilk’, the Brigade Leader awarded me the badge – begrudgingly.

The Guides was not for me. I liked the fun but balked at the regimentation, the tasks, the awful leather belt, cycling through cold nights to get there and the uniform. I hated my school uniform so it is still amiss to why I raced home to change from one uniform into another to attend the Guides. Why did I leave? Truth be told, I didn’t really leave – I ran away. The word ‘camping’ was mentioned and that was me gone. I have never slept in a tent and never intend to. I like my creature comforts too much – crisp bed linen, heating, hot water and now that I am that bit older, a well stocked mini-bar! Did I enjoy any thing about the my time in the Guides? Sporting my one and only badge could probably be the sum total of it had I stayed long enough to sew it on! And an odd memory of Flapjacks.

Flapjacks do odd things to our senses. Why is it that when we throw oatmeal into the mix, we kid ourselves it’s healthy? Flapjacks may contain oatmeal but listen closely to the other ingredients and you can hear your arteries harden! Nevertheless, they are still delicious and I can fool myself when looking at them that they are health bars or fashionable energy bars. I used organic oatmeal tonight – not because I was trying to imbibe any extra fibre into these gorgeous baked babies but because it was all I had in the cupboard. I also added sultanas – not for their vitamin content but because they were sitting next to the oatmeal and add an extra dimension of chewiness!

Flapjacks is my favourite traybake but so many get them wrong. They have to be gooey and chewy to be worthy of the name. My all-time favourite is sold in Courtney’s Bakery in Dingle, County Kerry. Chewy and sweet with the corners dipped in chocolate. Perfection!


4 1/2 ounces butter
4 1/2 ounces brown sugar
9 ounces oatmeal
3 tablespoons golden syrup
Pinch of salt
2 ounces of sultanas (optional)


1. Pre-heat the oven to 180C
2. Grease a baking tin and line with baking parchment (I use one which is 20cm x 20cm)
3. Place all the dry ingredients in a bowl
4. Melt the butter
5. When melted, add the butter and golden syrup to the dry ingredients, mixing until all are combined
6. Turn into the baking tray – press into the corners and flatten down so that the mixture will bake evenly
7. Bake for about 20 minutes or until golden brown
8. Let cool in the tin and when ready, cut into 9 generous or 12 small squares.

Lamb, Moroccan Meatballs with Cous Cous

Moroccan meatballs with cous cous

Winter is creeping in and the annual yearning for red meat continues to escalate. Many meat dishes take a long time to prepare and to cook. It is nice then to have something which is quick, easy and tasty. This is tried and tested – a firm family favourite.

1lb lamb mince
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 medium onion, chopped finely
Parsley, finely chopped
Salt and ground black pepper
Some sunflower oil for frying
2 cloves of garlic, chopped finely
Tin of chopped tomatoes in own juice
1lb cous cous
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon lemon juice

1. Mix meat, ½ tsp cumin, ground coriander, salt, pepper, half the chopped onion and half the chopped parsley
2. Make into small meatballs (size of walnuts)
3. Fry in the heated oil
4. Remove meatballs
5. Fry the rest of the onion and garlic in the same pan, coating with the mix
6. Add the rest of the cumin.
7. Add meatballs and toss completely in this mixture
8. Add the tin of tomatoes and remaining chopped parsley
9. Prepare the cous cous as per the instructions on the pack. I cover the bowl with cling film while the water or stock is being absorbed
10. Fluff up the cous cous, add the butter and mix throughly
11. Season with salt and pepper
12. Add in lemon juice into meatballs mixture just before serving.



Soups, Vegan, Vegetable Soup with Barley, Vegetable Soup with Barley, Vegetable with Barley

‘Baby teeth’ optional

We’re all about soups this month. I make them, the Teen guzzles them – win-win situation. Sometimes, however, I tire of clever soups and simply want something warm and comforting. And quick to make and cheap!

This vegetable soup I make is one of the Teen’s favourites. Not only does she like the flavour, she adores the fact that it is a one pot soup with no blender etc. to wash up. There’s another reason we like this soup – it contains a good dollop of nostalgia. I usually cook up a pot on ‘St Stephens Day’ or ‘Wren’s Day’ as called at home. Turkey and ham sandwiches and homemade vegetable soup – a feast fit for kings!

This is a soup with bits. Rather than spend countless hours chopping vegetables neatly, this involves chopping them any which way, throwing them into the pot, cooking the soup and then using a potato masher to break it all down. Simple!

Removing the chicken stock makes it vegetarian and then using only sunflower oil will make it vegan. Removing the butter also makes it dairy free. I am unsure how well it freezes – there are never any leftovers.

Barley can be added too. About half a cup, soaked for half an hour and cooked with the soup makes it more of a meal than a snack. I like barley now – I refused to eat it when little as I was convinced they were ‘baby teeth’. No amount of effort on my mother’s part could convince me otherwise!


Vegetable Soup with Barley

1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
3 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped
3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 ounce butter and one tablespoon sunflower oil (or two tablespoons sunflower oil)
2 pints of chicken or vegetable stock
1 tablespoon fresh parsley or a good sprinkling of dried herbs
1 level teaspoon, dried mix herbs
Salt and freshly ground pepper to season
Half cup of barley

1. Melt the butter and/or oil
2. Fry the onions for a few minutes until translucent
3. Add the carrots and potatoes and cook for a few minutes
4. Add the stock, herbs and ground pepper (the amount of salt added will depend on the stock used and personal preference)
5. When the vegetables are soft, used the potato masher to break them down
6. Serve hot with crusty bread or brown bread.




Spiced Cauliflower, Spiced Cauliflower Soup, Spiced Cauliflower Soup

Spiced Cauliflower Soup

So the Teen likes soup. Well, not just any soup. She doesn’t like ‘the creamy stuff’ as she calls it, dismissing it as ‘a bit cloying.’ I face a conundrum – she’d like cauliflower soup but with no milk, cream or coconut milk in it. All the recipes I have add some form of creaminess to the mixture.

After looking through a few, well-thumbed, cookbooks, I conjured up the following recipe to tickle the taste buds of my attic-dwelling teen. I wanted to combine what seemed like the best aspects of a few and then to give it a try-out. A culinary experiment, as it were.

And she loved it and so did I (which is strange as I am not a great fan of soup or anything which is a measure of ‘sameness’ in a bowl!).

I used butter as it gave a richness to the soup but that’s a personal preference. This recipe can be made to suit vegans by changing the butter to two tablespoons of olive or sunflower oil and not using chicken stock (eh…obviously!). Removing the butter will also make the recipe dairy-free.

We liked the addition of cayenne pepper as it gave it a little kick but again, that is simply our preference. The soup will be tasty without it too. As I used a commercial stock, I left out salt as there was already plenty. We didn’t feel the need to add more. And it also freezes perfectly.

What can I say? R-e-s-u-l-t!


 Spiced Cauliflower Soup

1 large head of cauliflower, washed and cut into chunks with the stem and greens removed
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 ounces butter or 1 ounce of butter and a tablespoon of olive oil or two tablespoons of olive oil
2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon ground coriander
½ teaspoon turmeric
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
1 pint chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to season

1. Melt the butter in a pan and fry the onion until soft
2. Add garlic and fry for a couple of minutes
3. Add the spices and fry for another couple of minutes
4. Add the cauliflower and coat with the spiced onion mix
5. Pour in the stock, bring to the boil and reduce to a simmer
6. In about 15 minutes, when the cauliflower is cooked, place it in a blender and blitz until smooth
7. Return to the pan
8. Heat through
9. Season with salt and pepper.