Wednesday, 10 December 2014

A secret project unveiled

If you follow me on Instagram you will have seen the beautiful chandelier J surprised me with at the weekend. He has been gathering materials for this for a few weeks but the actual build only took a couple of hours to pull it together. He had told me he was working on a secret project but wouldn't share anything in terms of what it was. Needless to say I am thrilled and super proud of his efforts. I love seeing his ideas coming together. He is like a child on Christmas morning!!

The materials are all scraps he collected from a job site he was working on. The only costs he had were the chains and hooks to hang it, the candle holders and the copper spray paint, He had the black from the bike he fixed up during the summer.
Check it out here.


Apologies for the picture quality, they were all taken on his iPhone in the brother in laws apartment where he was doing the work without any natural light. They are probably not in sequence now either but you get the jist of how things went down :-) 
Here he is testing the strength of his table and working out the centre for hanging.
And here she is in all her glory.

We had a very productive evening on Friday altogether. We also managed to finally get the June project finished and up on the wall.

And some plumbing pipe we had bought to use to hang the bike got repurposed into wall sconces.

All in all the new place is starting to come together. We are chuffed with how such small things can make all the difference to creating a home away from home. Hope your all having a lovely week.

Michelle xxx
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Lewis Lane Designs

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Winter Warmers..

I've been trying out some soup recipes lately as starters for our Christmas dinner. The first is a Roasted Butternut Squash & Apple soup and the second is my Uncles favourite French Onion Soup. Having never made either before I figured a trial run was called for. Both turned out great so I will be doing a batch of both for Christmas. I served it with some Gluten Free Yogurt bread which I'll share soon.

1 butternut squash
3 good eating apples,
1 large onion
1 or 2 fresh red chilies
4 cloves of garlic, unpeeled and bashed
1tsp Rosemary,
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Olive oil
salt and  pepper
3 ¼ cups vegetable or chicken stock
2/3 cup light cream
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel and slice the squash lengthways and scoop out the seeds. Cut into 1-inch chunks and put them on a large baking sheet.
Peel and core the apples, Peel and chop the onion and add the apples and onion to the baking sheet. Halve and deseed the chilies and add to the sheet with the unpeeled and bashed garlic cloves, rosemary and cayenne pepper. Drizzle over a good amount of olive oil and add a good pinch of salt and pepper. Mix everything together and cook for around 45 minutes,  
While the veg are roasting, heat the stock in a large pan. Once roasted remove veg from oven and squeeze the garlic flesh out of its skin. Add the veg to the stock pot and use an immersion blender to liquidise. Pour in most of the cream and bring to a simmer over a medium to low heat. If you like a thicker soup simmer to your liking, if you like a thinner soup add additional stock. Serve with a drizzle of cream and some delicious bread and your done.
Gluten Free Yogurt Bread...Coming soon

French Onion Soup is not something I ever thought I would like. When I was younger and we would go out for dinner Mick would order it and I had to move to the other end of the table. I have now been reformed. I followed Donal Skehan's recipe for this one.

 4 large onions, peeled and sliced
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons oil or butter
4 pints beef stock
salt and pepper
thick slices of Udi's Gluten Free French Baguette
grated cheese of your choice
Heat the oil or butter in a saucepan and add the peeled, sliced onions. Cook gently, stirring frequently until they are golden – on no account let them brown. Stir in the flour and add the pepper and salt.

Yes...There were tears!!
Pour over the stock, cover and cook gently for about 25 minutes. Dry the slices of bread in the oven. Pour the soup into the serving bowl of your choice then transfer the slices of bread to the soup, sprinkling thickly with grated cheese. Put under a hot grill for a few minutes to brown the cheese.
And that's it! Easy as pie. Give them a try and let me know how you got on. Hope your having a great week.

Michelle xxx
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Foodie Friday A dish for Daily life

Friday, 28 November 2014

Christmas Baking across the miles

This past Saturday my mam and I tried something a little different. We had a Skype baking session!!
Yes you heard me right.....
 With myself and J heading back to Ireland in 22 whole days {not that I'm counting} I will be doing very little on the baking front but I still wanted to make a Christmas Cake. So my Mam and I set about making a plan. Basically she got the ingredients, did all the hard work and I got to give directions from the sofa 3000 miles away.
Short straw there Mam :-) I will be icing it when we get home though.
The recipe is a combination of the Stork Christmas Cake's we have alternated between over the years but we set about making it Gluten Free. I made this glutenful version a few years ago before my entry into blogland so I apologise for the picture. I will try get better ones this time around

1.5 cups/12 oz/350g Stork Margarine (at room temperature)
 1.5 cups/12 oz/350g Dark Brown Sugar
 1 3/4 cups/15 oz/425g Doves Farm Gluten Free Plain Flour
3/4 tbsp Guar Gum
1 ½ tbsp mixed spice
½ tbsp ground nutmeg
6 tbsp/3 oz/75g ground almonds
 7 eggs

2/1lb./450g Currants
1.5cups/12 oz/350g Sultanas
 1.5cups/12 oz/350g Raisins
5 oz./150g Cherries washed, dried and halved
3/4 cup/5 oz/170g Mixed Peel
 3/4 cup/5 oz/170g Almonds, blanched and chopped
Grated rind of 2 Lemons
Grated rind of 1 Orange
The recipe calls for an all in one method where everything gets thrown into a bowl, mixed well, put in prepared tin, then baked. Feel free to go at it this way if you wish we however rightly or wrongly did ours a bit differently.

Firstly a few months back my mam mixed the fruits, mixed peel, chopped almonds and rinds together and added a couple shots of whiskey. This gets stored in an air tight container and placed in a dark cupboard. Every few weeks add another couple tablespoons of whiskey, shake it up and return to the dark place until your ready to bake the cake.

So on bake day pre-heat your oven to 275 F/140 C. Grease and line a 10 inch round tin with double greaseproof paper. As well as the grease proof paper we like to place our prepared cake tin in one of the silicone cake tin's as an extra protection from burning as the cake will be baked for long time.
Sieve the flour, guar gum, mixed spice, nutmeg and ground almonds together. Cream butter and sugar together in a separate bowl. Alternating each time between flour and eggs mix them into the butter/sugar mixture until all incorporated. Add your fruit and mix well with a large metal spoon. Spoon into prepared tin and bake for about 5 to 6 hours. Check regularly to ensure the top is not burning. Cover with foil  for the last hour or two to prevent the cake becoming two dark.

Test the cake. it should feel firm to touch. Insert a skewer into the centre of the cake if it comes out clean the cake is ready. Leave the cake to cool in the tin over night. Turn out and remove papers. Wrap in double greaseproof paper and foil then store in a cool place.
So that was the cake we {mam} made on Saturday. I left her to clean the mess and went about the rest of my day writing Christmas cards and putting out a few decorations. I fancied a treat in the afternoon so decided to make some rice krispie snow balls.

 I used the basic rice krispie recipe but  used Gluten Free Rice Krispies. I used an ice cream scoop to get even amounts and with my hands lightly greased I formed them into balls. A little tip I'd like to share, you may already know it but I had a light bulb moment and wanted to pass it on..... I melted the marshmallow in a bowl over a pot of hot water, like you would chocolate so when I went about mixing the rice krispies with the marshmallow I did it with the bowl still over the pot of hot water. It keeps the marshmallow soft and you have more time to work with the mixture and form it into shapes. 
So we are so close now, my mam just informed me we only have two more Fridays to go!!!

Website Countdown Clock

Hope your all having a great week. Blogger is having some issues with text formatting at the moment so please ignore the different sizes :-)

Michelle xxx
Sharing With

Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday A dish for Daily life
Tuned in Thursday at Lewis Lane Designs
Allergy Free Wednesday with Whole Food Mom

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

A Full Irish Please...

In Ireland the ingredients of a full Irish breakfast vary depending on where you live in the country and your household. For example my family never have mushrooms or baked beans with our breakfast but J's family have mushrooms, beans and fried potatoes with theirs.
Traditionally the most common ingredients are bacon rashers, sausages, fried eggs, white pudding, black puddingSoda Bread and fried tomato. Sometimes it included liver although not so much anymore.  And no breakfast is complete without a pot of Tea. The brand of Tea again depends where in the country your from. In my house it's Lyons tea without fail. But you guys know that already, I've spoken about the Lyon's awesomeness  here before.

 One of the things we've missed most here on our breaky is the pudding. You can get blood sausage, but I'm not a big fan. And then I have to contend with the gluten element so I decided to try making my own. I used this recipe from Local Food Heroes to start and adapted it slightly.

395gm/1.5 cups finely mince pork
265gm/1 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Steel Cut Oats
250ml Water
30gm/2 tbsp Onion Powder
23gm/1.5 tbsp Potato Flour
15gm/1tbsp Salt
23gm/1.5tbsp Seasoning Mix - see below

Seasoning Mix

5gm/1tsp White pepper
5gm/1tsp Ground coriander
5gm/1tsp Ground ginger
5gm/1tsp Powdered sage
3gm/ 1/2tsp Mace
3gm/ 1/2tsp Nutmeg
2gm/ 1/4 tsp Allspice

Soak the oats in the water for 1 hour or so. 
Combine the Seasoning Mix ingredients together and mix well. Store remainder for your next batch in an air tight container.

In a large bowl combine the meat, onion powder, potato flour
and salt together. Add one and a half tablespoons of the seasoning mix and mix well. I like to use my hands to squish up the meat and make sure all the seasonings get incorporated. 

Now the original recipe calls for pig's casings at this point but I couldn't source them so I improvised. I rolled some of the mixture into a log shape and wrapped it tightly in clingfilm.

Next you want to steam the pudding log between 75°C and 80°C for 1 minute per mm of width of the log. For the one above I steamed it for about 15 minutes.The final internal temperature of the log should be 72°C. Hold at this temperature for 2 minutes then cool in ice cold water bath.
To eat, slice into 5 - 10mm chucks and fry until brown.
Now that's a breaky to wake up to on a cold Sunday morning.
Michelle xxx
Sharing With

Gluten Free Wednesday from the Gluten-Free Homemaker
New Mrs. Adventures Tasty Tuesday 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Thanksgiving Caramels and a Chocolate Fudge Cake

Apologies for being m.i.a this last month or so I'm back with a beauty to share though so you might think it was worth it :-)
I was never a fan of chocolate cake but recently I've had a craving to try it so I made this Gluten Free Chocolate Fudge cake to take to our friends for Thanksgiving at the beginning of October and it went down a treat. We had family coming into town for the weekend and I didn't fancy spending the whole day in the kitchen so I made the sponge the week before and stuck it in the freezer to be defrosted and put together with the ganache on the day. The original recipe is from the Cake Angels book but I have amended it a bit.

3\4 cup+2tbsp Dark Chocolate (60%cocoa)
3\4 cup+2tbsp Butter
1tbsp Instant Coffee mixed with 1/2 cup cold water
6tbsp Gluten Free Flour
6tbsp Gluten Free Self Raising Flour
1tsp Xanthum Gum
1/4 tsp Bicarbonate of Soda
3\4 cup+2tbsp Light Muscovado Sugar
3\4 cup+2tbsp Golden Caster Sugar
2tbsp Cocoa powder
1/3 cup Buttermilk milk
3 Large Eggs
White chocolate for decoration

For Ganache
1 cup Dark Chocolate (60%cocoa)
1/4 cup Dark Muscovado Sugar
1 cup Evaporated Milk
1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract

Preheat oven to 160C. Grease and line an 8 inch round tin with parchment paper.
Melt the chocolate, butter and coffee mixture over  medium heat in a heavy based saucepan until butter is completely melted.

Sieve flours, xanthan gum, bicarb, sugars and cocoa powder in a large bowl. Beat the eggs in a separate bowl and add the buttermilk.

Add the melted chocolate mixture and the beaten egg mixture into the dry ingredients using a large metal spoon until everything is well blended and you have a smooth batter consistency.

Pour into prepared tin and bake for 75 to 90 minutes. Check cake is cooked by inserting a metal skewer, if it comes out clean the cake is baked. Remove from oven, leave in the tin to cool for 30 minutes and then on a wire rack to cool completely.

When the cake is completely cooled cut it in half horizontally. I don't have any fancy cake cutters like this so to cut the cake I measure half way up the cake and insert tooth picks around the outside as you can see in the image above. It gives a nice guideline of where to cut. Then use a third of the ganache to sandwich the two halves together then spread the remaining ganache over the top and sides of the cake.

To make the fudge ganache...

Put the chocolate, muscavado sugar, butter, evaporated milk and vanilla into a heavy based saucepan, heating gently and stirring constantly until everything has melted. Pour into a bowl and allow to cool before placing in the fridge for about 1 hour or until spreadable.

Now for the fancy bit :-)
Use a swivel-blade vegetable peeler to create white chocolate shavings to decorate the top of the cake.And Ta Da!!!

Isn't she pretty......

Now for the Caramels I followed this recipe. It took me three attempts to get this right. Heed my warning and give yourself plenty of time and patience if your going try this. It is a slow burner. There is no express route to caramels. If you rush it will burn.

In other news the countdown is well and truely on. 

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Have a great week.
Michelle xxx 
Sharing With

New Mrs. Adventures Tasty Tuesday
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Miz Helen's Full Plate Thursday
Foodie Friday at Pure Grace Farms
The Creative Exchange Link Party
Tuned in Thursday #36 at Lewis Lane Designs
Turning Back the Clock for Whats Cooking Wednesdays
 Gluten Free Wednesday from the Gluten-Free Homemaker

Thursday, 2 October 2014

When gluten free baking goes wrong...

I don't know where my head has been the last few weeks but it certainly hasn't been keeping track of my pantry essentials so when I went to do some baking on Saturday I hadn't got enough corn flour or tapioca flour to make up a batch of my go to blend and I just wasn't feeling up to the trek to the store.

I found a box of this premixed flour blend I had bought as a trial and figured there was no better time to put it to the test. Silly me. I should have trust my instincts before I bought it. There was a little niggling voice in my head going "been there, tried that and it didn't work" but I bought it anyway. All in the name of research I told myself.

A lesson I have learned along the way with these mixes, even when it says you can substitute it into any recipe, 9 times out of 10 it doesn't work so I decided to try the recipes that the company suggest and advertised on the box. I made a pasty and a white sandwich bread. Firstly the pasty recipe was very dry and didn't come together like the recipe suggested.  I had to add a lot of liquid (not included in recipe) to try bind the pasty together. When the pastry was cooked it was rock hard. A solid layer that was just not edible. The sandwich bread recipe was also lacking in the wet ingredients and didn't form a batter as suggested on the box. Again I had to add more liquid to the mix. The bread didn't rise and I was left a two terrible bakes.

So what do you do when a gluten free bake goes wrong???
Normally I make bread crumbs but I have a bag full in the freezer already. I didn't need any more. I decided to make a Bread and Butter Pudding. Obviously, I had run out of raisin's {see earlier shopping note} but had some dried cranberries and white chocolate drops. Who doesn't like that combination!!

1 1/2 cups cream
2/3 cup milk
3 eggs
 1/3 cup superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Handful Dried Cranberries
Handful white chocolate drops
1 tablespoon light brown sugar for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an ovenproof baking dish.
Butter all bread slices. Line the bottom of your dish with a couple of full bread slices, butter side up. Chop the remainder of the bread into small pieces. 
In layers place the bread pieces sprinkled with some cranberries and white chocolate.  Repeat until your dish is full.
For the custard heat cream and milk in a saucepan, almost to a boil. Whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl, then pour the hot milk/cream combo on top, whisking as you go. Pour over bread and use a fork to press the bread down to soak up the custard. Let sit for 20 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar over top before going into the oven.
The bread pudding will cook in a water bath. The easiest way to do this I found is to place the baking dish in a large roasting pan and put in the centre of your oven, then carefully pour enough hot water into the roasting pan to come halfway up side of dish. This eliminates the potential to scald yourself while moving the water bath to the oven if the water is put in first not that I'm speaking from experience or anything ;-)
Bake for 50-60 minutes or until golden and centre is just set.
    Other than a basic bread pudding recipe which I got here I just added a sprinkle of cranberries and white chocolate to the layers of bread. I served mine with ice-cream but it would go just as well with fresh cream or custard. Anything really. It's a super homely dessert to warm your insides as the nights draw in.
    Hope you like it as much as we did. I've officially started the count down to Christmas. Well December 18th a least. We are heading back to Ireland for the holidays.... soooooo excited!!

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Have a great week.
Michelle xxx 
Foodie Friday at Rattlebridge Farm
Foodie Friday Pure Grace Farms

Thursday, 25 September 2014

A new LOVE

Guys I was recently introduced to a new (to me) concept of trying tasty treats for next to nothing. They even have a Gluten Free option which I'm loving. Unfortunately as I live in Canada I can't take part in the mailing just yet {they're working on it} but I love the concept so much that I wanted to spread the word to all you lovelies. 
Who doesn't like getting nicies in the mail? No ONE that's who! Did you see my excitement when I eventually received my Easter parcel in August?
Love With Food delivers new organic or all-natural snacks to your door every month within the U.S. 
Please be aware this post contains affiliate links and I may be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Let's take September's box as an example. It contained 11 items, ranging in price from $1.46 to $20. Combined it's a lot of money to spend trying new products that you or your family may not like. Below is a break down of the products and their prices from the company websites or amazon as an approximate reference. You know yourself if you where to buy these individually in your local store they are likely to be dearer still.
 Simply So Sweet Chili Tortilla Chips by Way Better Snacks $2.38
Lemon Rosemary Seasoning by Fogg City Spice Co. $10 for 28gm
Green SuperFood by Amazing Grass $1.46
Maruso Ghost Soy Sauce by Maruso Soy Sauce $7.99 for 200ml
Ginger Peanut Quinoa Clusters by i heart keenwah $4.99
Barbeque Potato popchips by popchips $2.38
Falafel Crunchy Chickpeas by Saffron Road $5.19
Ginger Twist Tea by Mighty Leaf from $11.50 for 15 bags
Pizza Crust Mix by Chebe $20.50 for 8 packs
Cinnamon Thin Cookies by Dr.Lucy's $7.59
Cinnamon Nut Renola by LÄRABAR® $12.79 for 5
Doing the maths you can instantly see $10 is not a whole lot especially when LOVE with Food donate a meal to food banks such as the Feeding America Network and Share Our Strength- No Kid Hungry for every box sold they sell. To date they have donated 321,587 meals.
 Love with Food are giving you the opportunity to get your first box free if you become a member by September 30th 2014. Click on the image above to start the process today.
Try it an let me know how you get on. Share your love with food parcels with me over on Instagram. I can't wait to see what you get!!
Michelle xxx

Fall decorating gone awry

I had hoped that we would be in our new apartment for October 1st but best laid plans and all that. We now don't move in until November 1st so there will be no decorating this time round.
I thought I would show you a selection of ideas from around the web that I like and would have used for inspiration if I had been decorating.






You can check out more fall inspiration over on my Pinterest page. And if your the type of person who likes to wander around peoples homes from the comfort of your sofa there is no end of fall tours going on at the moment. Check out An Autumn Welcome taking place all this week and featuring 35 fabulous homes or The Fall Homes Tour showcasing 20 amazing homes. Maybe next year I'll have my stuff together enough to take part.
"Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower."- Albert Camus
Michelle xxx
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Lewis Lane Designs for Tuned In Thursday