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Posts from the ‘The Farm’ Category

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

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Things are slowing down around here, and just in time, too.

  • The calves are pretty much all born. The eldest are already weaned!
  • The cows are out in the field, loving life (if you’re a cow and you have a choice between luscious, green grass or silage, you choose the grass every time).
  • The weather is brighter. It was chilly this past week, but for the most part Ireland has thawed out from the bitter winter. My garden is growing, we just got our house power-washed (a preemptive move as the house is getting a lovely new coat of paint very soon) and landscaping plans are in motion. We’re hoping for a warm summer with lots of BBQ’s!
  • I’m slowing things down with my small business, The Siúcra Shack. Spending more time with my kids, getting the house cleaned and organized and baking for fun. Just for now!

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This is all because I am totally ready to pop. 38 weeks of pregnancy have flown by, and while I’m thankful for a complication-free pregnancy (and hoping for a complication-free delivery), I am so very ready to not be pregnant anymore.

I’m not being insensitive. I love my babies. I know we’re #soblessed. But three babies in less than four years is a lot for anyone to handle (except for all those women with more kids than me, or moms of multiples, or moms of multiples with other small kids – I’m in awe of those ladies). So, while we are very, very happy, I am also looking forward to a cold beer, getting my body back (in some form), and never being pregnant ever again once we welcome #3 in a few short weeks.

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Did someone say biscuits?

So no cold beer for me just yet, but I have been milking these last weeks of pregnancy for all they’re worth. Entire tubs of ice cream? Yes. Massive bowls of creamy pasta? Absolutely.

An entire pan of these flaky, fluffy buttermilk biscuits?

Um… well… Patrick, Ciara and my father-in-law helped devour these, but I’m pretty sure I ate most of them.

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They were just so good, you see. Especially with a generous schmear of Tipperary butter and a large dollop of strawberry jam. While still warm.

Actually, I made another pan this morning. I forced myself to give half away, but if Patrick is late coming back from work I can’t promise the remaining biscuits will still be here for his tea.

Since I’ve revisited the way I actually make biscuits, I thought I would share this recipe today. I’ve been making biscuits for a long time. I mean… I have no idea what age I was when I made my first pan of biscuits. I’m from Cape Breton. We literally eat these every day. I never thought I could improve on the recipe I already had in my head, but this “stand mixer/fold” method is getting a lot of online traction so I thought I’d give it a try.

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Fold that dough in half!

I can tell you, I won’t be going back to rubbing in the butter with my fingers and rolling out once with a rolling pin. You get better flakes, height, texture and an overall fluffier biscuit with this method!

*For the Irish reading (and anyone else who wouldn’t consider this a biscuit), this is more of a scone for you, I know. BUT it’s not as sweet. You can eat these biscuits with savoury or sweet accompaniments. I like biscuits with fish chowder, casseroles. made into breakfast sandwiches and with baked beans as well as with the traditional jam/butter combo!

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Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

Ingredients:

4 cups/500g (weight) plain flour

2 Tbsp baking powder

1 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup/60g sugar

1/2 cup/110g cold, cubed butter

1 1/2 cups/400ml cold buttermilk

Directions: 

  • Preheat your oven to 200∘C (400∘F) and line a large baking pan with parchment. Set aside.
  • In your stand mixer, add all dry ingredients and, using the paddle attachment, mix to incorporate.
  • Add the cold, cubed butter to the dry ingredients and, continuing to use the paddle attachment, mix on med-low for 5-8 minutes, until the butter is mostly incorporated into the dry mixture (some chunks of butter are ok, but most of it should be mixed into the flour).
  • Add the buttermilk and mix just until everything comes together.
  • On a lightly floured surface, dump the dough out of the mixing bowl. Using your hands and a pastry cutter, start to shape the dough. Fold it in half, flatten out, then fold again and flatten out.
  • Cut out the biscuits and place them on the baking sheet. You can shape/fold the remaining dough and do a second cut, but I would discard the leftover dough after the second cut.
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, or until the tops and bottoms are browned and the bicsuits have risen.
  • Eat the same day, if possible. Even better, eat them hot out of the oven. With tea. And butter and jam.
  • Makes about 14 medium sized biscuits.

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Bacon & Cabbage with Parsley Cream Sauce

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Ah, Paddy’s Day.

Those Facebook memories that keep popping up remind me that St. Patrick’s Day isn’t just a fun family holiday. Things just seem to happen for me around this time of year – good things.

Luck of the Irish? Perhaps. Or maybe we’re all just in better moods because the sun tends to come out in March. The trees start to bud, my garden starts to grow, the end of calving season (and; therefore, around-the-clock cow monitoring) is in sight and the air feels significantly warmer.

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Patrick with some Irish fans in Yogyakarta – our most booze-free Paddy’s Day

This time eight years ago, Patrick and I were embarking on a three-month-long backpacking trip around Southeast Asia. Facebook tells me we were in Java, Indonesia. We just climbed Gunung Bromo, a small active volcano, and were en route to Yogyakarta – a city we absolutely loved.

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Paddy’s Day Parade in Seoul, South Korea, 2008 (strange, no?)

This time four years ago, we were getting ready to leave Toronto for good. I was very excited and a little bit worried. After all, I was nearly six months pregnant and we were both leaving good jobs behind, with no work prospects in Ireland. I loved my work in Toronto but didn’t love living in the city. I couldn’t deal with the prospect of raising my kids so far away from family. Moving to Ireland, as you may have guessed, has worked out brilliantly. We are happy and thriving (and working!).

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Beautiful Porto. Take me back!

This time three years ago we were in Portugal on our first-ever family holiday with Maeve. She was seven months old and we had a wonderful time in Lisbon, Porto and Aveiro. The weather was warm and sunny (but not too hot) and we visited with friends I hadn’t seen in years.

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Maeve and her cousins, eating green pancakes.

And this year? One of my best friends is coming to stay with her 10-month-old baby boy. When they go home, Patrick and I are going to Galway for a few nights to eat, drink and relax sans children. So yeah, March brings good things, and St. Patrick’s Day is just one of them.

I remember Paddy’s Days of the past. In university, in Korea, in (yes!) Yogyakarta and, of course, here in Ireland, I’ve had some crazy times. These days our Paddy’s Day tends to be quieter and more kid-focused. Coffee at a friend’s house, taking the kids to the parade, making green pancakes for breakfast – all of these things are quickly replacing the pub breakfasts and day-long drinking sessions of the past.

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Bacon and cabbage is becoming tradition, too. While North Americans gorge themselves on corned beef, the Irish will generally sit down to a family meal of just about anything (Chinese takeaway? I wouldn’t say no). At our house, I usually make a big feed of bacon and cabbage for us and any other family members milling around the farm.

The parsley sauce is entirely optional, but I like it. A lot of people eat their bacon and cabbage with a schmear of English mustard or the ubiquitous brown sauce, but I think it’s more of a complete meal with the parsley sauce (also, it will impress your friends if you want to make this for a Paddy’s Day dinner party). It tastes fancy but is so easy to make.

The dish is called Bacon & Cabbage, but it wouldn’t be the same kind of bacon you have with your scrambled eggs. Here, a loin of ham is called a joint of bacon. You can get them smoked or unsmoked. Just ask your butcher, or, when in doubt, get some uncooked ham. It’s basically the same thing. Bacon and cabbage is usually served with mashed potatoes, but I love boiling new potatoes with the skin-on this time of year.

Whatever you end up doing for Paddy’s Day, I hope it’s great and full of delicious food, drink and loved ones. Sláinte mhath!

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Bacon & Cabbage with Parsley Cream Sauce

Ingredients:

Bacon & Cabbage:

1-2 kg ham/bacon joint (cured and uncooked, ask your local butcher!)

1-2 large head savoy or green cabbage

4L chicken stock

1-2 bay leaves

2-3 sprigs fresh thyme

Parsley Sauce:

½ cup butter

1 clove garlic, minced

¾ glass dry white wine

1 cup heavy cream

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 bunch fresh parsley, finely chopped

Salt and Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  • In a large pot, bring the ham, stock, bay leaves and thyme to a simmer. Simmer the ham/bacon for about 1 hour – or until the ham is cooked through.
  • While the ham is cooking, prep your cabbage: using a large knife, cut out the core and slice the head of cabbage into large wedges. Leave the wedges whole and set aside while the ham cooks.
  • When the ham is cooked, remove the ham, bay leaves and thyme from the pot. Add the cabbage to the remaining broth and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  • Make the parsley sauce: in a hot saucepan, add the butter and garlic. Cook for 30 seconds – don’t let the garlic brown. Add the wine and reduce by half, then add the cream. Let the cream boil and thicken for a few minutes – you want the sauce to coat the back of a spoon.
  • When the cream is thickened, add the chopped parsley and season with Dijon, salt and pepper.
  • Slice the ham and add it back into the broth with the cabbage wedges, just to heat through.
  • Depending on the size of your bacon (I usually buy a 1kg joint), this will feed 4-6 people. Serve hot with boiled or mashed potatoes.

Upside-Down Strawberry Rhubarb Cake

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I’m back home. In Ireland, I mean. It’s funny, I call Cape Breton “home” and Ireland “home”, but when I talk about Cape Breton being home it’s meant to be past tense. As in, it used to be home and will always and forever more be referred to as home. But, as wonderful as Cape Breton was, and Vancouver, and Victoria, it is so, so good to be back in Tipperary.

In my own house.

With my little family.

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Babies at pasture here in Tipperary

And it’s summer. My garden is growing. There are baby animals everywhere (and thanks to my cat, baby animal corpses everywhere, but we won’t go there right now) and, even though it’s often grey and rainy, it’s sometimes warm and sunny. Already much better than last summer, which was mostly cold, windy and rainy.

I’ve been home a little less than a month and I’m already super busy. Making plans, going to playdates, taking little day trips here and there, visiting, baking. The bit I’m most excited about is the plan-making, but I’m not ready to say anything more about it at the moment – just stay tuned!

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Home in Cape Breton

Also, once again, this little blog has been long-listed for two Littlewood’s Ireland Blog Awards, which is really, really lovely! I’m also up for a Huawei Snapy Instagram Award! If you feel so inclined, you can check out my entry (and possibly give it a vote) here.

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So yes; I’m super busy. But don’t worry, I always have my two darling children to keep my ego in check. Whether it’s by peeing on the floor (daily) or simply staying up all night long, my kids continually remind me who’s truly in charge of my life (or I guess you could say: what’s truly important in life). I wouldn’t have it any other way, really.

When I came home, my garden was so overgrown with weeds it looked more like a jungle. It took four solid evenings of weed-pulling and seed planting, but my hard work is paying off. Napa Cabbage (for autumn kimchi making!), sprouting broccoli, cauliflower, squash, pumpkin, courgette – you name it, it’s been planted and is currently sprouting. I was late getting a few things planted, but the growing season is longer here than it is in Canada so I’m keeping my fingers crossed for a good harvest.

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Two things that were ready when I got home were our strawberries and rhubarb. I’ve never grown strawberries before, but this year Maeve asked if she could plant them. Our old farmhouse is surrounded by very old, black cauldrons (I think they were used for laundry or something back in the day) so we found the biggest one and planted the strawberries there. We left tiny seedlings and came home to a huge, vine-laden bunch of plants just dripping with beautiful berries.

This is a great summer cake to make with whatever fresh fruit or berries you have on hand. I made it with our gorgeous strawberries (of course) and fresh rhubarb, but it would be great with blueberries (with some maple syrup and lemon), peaches, plums or cherries. The cake base is a super-moist hot milk cake recipe that I use all the time – it never, ever fails me.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Upside-Down Cake

Ingredients:

For the cake:

1 cup/250g granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup/250g AP/plain flour

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup/125ml scalded milk

3 Tbsp butter (melted into the hot milk)

For the topping:

1 punnet strawberries – hulled and cut in half

3-4 stalks rhubarb, chopped

1/2 cup/125g brown sugar

1/4 cup/60g butter

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350∘F (190∘C, no fan). Grease a round springform pan and place the pan on a lined cookie sheet (in case it leaks) set aside.
  • In a small saucepan, combine the butter and brown sugar for the topping. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.Pour the mixture into the bottom of the pan and arrange the strawberries and rhubarb over the top. Set the pan aside again and make the cake batter.
  • To make the cake: whisk the eggs, vanilla and sugar until pale yellow in colour and nearly doubled in volume (this is known as the ribbon stage – the mixture should drip off the whisk in ribbons).
  • Add the flour, baking powder and salt to the mixture and stir until just combined. Add the hot milk all at once and, again, stir until just combined and there aren’t any lumps in the batter.
  • Gently pour the cake batter over the strawberries and rhubarb in the springform pan.
  • Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes (if you have an extra-hot oven start checking your cake at 25 minutes). A skewer inserted in the centre of the cake should come out clean.
  • When the cake is ready, allow to set in the pan for 15-20 minutes, then run a knife around the edges and gently remove from the pan. Flip the cake onto a plate and gently lift the bottom of the springform pan. Voila! You should have a perfect upside-down cake.

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Cherry Tomato & Daru Galette

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Spring is here. It’s official.

As I type this, I assure you I’m aware that back home in Eastern Canada people are still buried under ten feet of snow. I know you’re having a rough winter. I’m really sorry.

But spring is here in Tipperary!

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There are puddles to jump into, new calves every day and my garden is once again starting to grow. I feel like it wasn’t that long ago that everything died. The winters here are very short compared to the ones I’m used to – yet another reason I’m glad I moved to Ireland.

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The farm is busy at this time of year; mostly due to calving. Slurry needs to be spread over the fields, the cows still need to be fed silage until the grass starts growing, the calves need to be marked and separated (and fed) and the cows who have given birth once again need to be milked twice a day.

It’s not easy. Just today we lost a mother and one of her twins, and Maeve shared an apt new word: “sad”. We’re not 100% sure what happened, but we do know that it was sudden and there was nothing we could do. We take a little bit of solace in that knowledge, but it’s been a sad day anyway.

But even with those two losses, we’re surrounded by brand-spanking-new life every day, and that’s a wonderful thing. Maeve loves visiting the “baby moos” and watches them in earnest on our calf-cam (we’ve got a 24 hour feed in the birthing shed). She’s a little farmer already.

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It’s still cold most days, but when the sun is shining it feels warm. It makes me want to eat fresh veggies, leafy greens and tangy cheeses.

Like this galette!

Sweet cherry tomatoes, fresh thyme from the garden and local Cooleeney Daru cheese. Daru is semi-hard, buttery and perfect for tarts. It’s made from their own cows’ milk. It’s distinctly Tipperary in flavour. And it’s made just down the road from me! I had a whole slew of Cooleeney cheese to work my way through recently and thought the Daru would be perfect with tomatoes.

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Some other favourite Cooleeney cheeses? Their Gleann Oir (goat’s milk, semi-hard), Cooleeney Farmhouse (creamy, edible rind) and Gortnamona (goat’s milk, soft & creamy). It’s hard to pick just one.

This galette is so easy to throw together at the last minute (particularly if you have some pie dough in the fridge or freezer). Make sure you season the tomatoes as the salt content in the cheese will not be enough.

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Cherry Tomato & Daru Galette

Ingredients:

One recipe pie dough, chilled

1 pint cherry or vine tomatoes, sliced in half

1 small wheel Cooleeney Daru cheese (if you can’t get Cooleeney cheese I think taleggio would also work well here)

A handful of fresh thyme, picked & roughly chopped

Flaky sea salt and freshly ground pepper

A drizzle of olive oil

One egg, beaten

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (200 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.
  • In a bowl, add the halved cherry tomatoes, chopped thyme, sea salt and pepper. Toss to coat the tomatoes and set aside.
  • Remove the rind from the Daru and crumble the cheese. Set aside.
  • Roll out your pie dough to about 1/4 inch thickness. If you want a clean looking galette you can trim the edges with a pizza cutter to make a neat circle; for a more rustic look don’t bother.
  • Place the rolled dough onto the baking sheet and arrange the seasoned tomatoes in the center. Top with the crumbled Daru cheese.
  • Fold the sides over the filling, leaving the center part exposed.
  • Brush the exposed dough with the beaten egg.
  • Bake at 400 degrees for about 35-40 minutes (check at 30 minutes to be safe). The crust should be flaky and golden brown; the cheese should be bubbly and the tomatoes cooked through. Sprinkle more flaky sea salt and fresh thyme over top; drizzle a bit more olive oil.
  • Serve hot or warm with a simple salad.

Sriracha Glazed Meatloaf

16309632331_350a999463_z So… I need to start this post by telling you how completely THRILLED I am with my new logo and header, designed by my dear friend, fellow mama, crafter extraordinaire & author of the most fabulous blog Where Wishes Come From, Sadhbh (pronounced “Sive” as in five, for all my fellow North Americans). She’s got beautiful twin girls and her gorgeously creative blog is all about celebrations and fun, achievable crafting projects for busy moms and kids. I basically look at her blog and sigh.

It’s interesting to see how others perceive you – often we’re so unsatisfied with ourselves and feel like we need to change. The likeness Sadhbh created of me left me totally floored, in a good way. She caught an inner essence I didn’t know many people saw (plus, she put a maple leaf on my chef hat! *cue happy sobbing*). So thank you, sweet Sadhbh! I hope I can return the favour tenfold.

So the blog got a bit of a makeover, and recently my meatloaf did, as well.

15691796663_70b6a9278b_z I never ate meatloaf growing up. Like brussels sprouts and liver, my mom never made it and, as a result, never made us eat it. Now I have a healthy respect for the potential meatloaf can have as a budget/kid/family friendly meal and none of the negative associations some might have acquired over the years.

Now that I’m back to work full time and Patrick is travelling to and from Waterford nearly every day, I appreciate meatloaf more than ever. How easily it comes together, how fool-proof it is, how Maeve will actually eat it. It’s not really a traditional Irish meal but my family is more than happy to wolf it down. It works on every level.

Don’t get me wrong, though. If you’re anti-meatloaf I also totally understand how it can sometimes be a soul-crushing, depression-inducing, grey-looking lump of meat if too little care is taken.

But ground beef? Streaky bacon? They’re such great flavour carriers. So much potential. 

That’s what brought me to this sriracha meatloaf. That, and when Patrick was in Boston on business last year he brought home a lot of sriracha sauce. The only issue? It was Trader Joe’s brand, not the Rooster. He thought the Trader Joe’s version might taste the same but it just doesn’t.

As a result, it’s been sitting in the fridge for awhile. Traditional meatloaf gets covered in a ketchup-based sauce, so I thought sriracha would probably work, too. And it did! Because, sriracha.

Now that I use sriracha instead of ketchup, I can’t ever go back. Adding a few more Southeast Asian ingredients to the ground beef mix only makes this meatloaf better. The Trader Joe’s sriracha sauce is a bit on the sweet side so I’ve been able to completely substitute the ketchup, but if you’re using the Rooster brand or another authentic hot brand you might want to go 50/50, to avoid it being too spicy.

Unless you like it spicy. In that case, go nuts. 16125783187_f918edc508_z Sriracha Glazed Meatloaf

Ingredients:

1 lb (about 450g) medium ground beef (you want a little fat for flavour, so try not to use lean)

1 lb smoked streaky bacon

4 slices of white bread

1 1/2 cups full fat milk OR coconut milk (if you’re feeling wild)

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced (I just squeeze in some shop-bought garlic paste)

1 Tbsp finely chopped, fresh ginger (or, see above – just buy the paste)

1/2 Tbsp chili paste

1/2 tsp dried lemongrass (optional)

2 eggs

Salt and Pepper (2 tsp each)

For the sauce:

1 cup sriracha sauce

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (180 degrees Celsius, no fan).
  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  • In a large bowl, tear the bread into small chunks. Pour the milk over to soak. Add the garlic, chili, ginger, lemongrass, salt and pepper. Mix up the eggs and throw them in the bowl, too.
  • The bread should be nicely soaked by now. Using a fork, mash all the ingredients together. You want a mixture that resembles paste. You don’t want to physically see chunks of bread.
  • Add the beef to the bowl and, using your hands (take off your rings; it gets messy) mix everything together.
  • Turn the mixture out onto the baking sheet and form it into a cylindrical loaf.
  • Wrap the loaf in the streak bacon.
  • Mix the three ingredients to make the sauce. Pour half over the loaf and spread it around.
  • Bake for one hour. Let it sit for five minutes when you take it out of the oven. Pour the rest of the sauce over the top before slicing.
  • Serve with buttermilk mashed potato, stir-fried noodles or aromatic rice. Makes great leftovers!

*Tip: use a serrated knife (a bread knife) to slice the loaf. You’ll make cleaner cuts through the bacon.

Nectarine Amaretto Crumble Cake

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I actually made this cake several weeks ago, while I was still in Ireland. It was silage time and my kitchen had gone from “fully stocked” to “running on empty” in a matter of days. When you consider how long the silage took to complete (about three days) and how many farmers it took to complete the job (about 6-8), I’m not sure why I thought I’d have enough food to feed the guys for tea, lunch and supper every day. Next year I’ll be better prepared.

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This cake was one of the final, desperate attempts to make my larder stretch a bit further. The cake part is cheap and uncomplicated to prepare – it’s stuff you have in your cupboard and fridge all the time – the nectarines were in season at the time (in Ireland) and I had just gotten a bowlful from Peter’s in Templemore. And I had bags and bags of ground almond in my cupboard that I, with my baby brain, kept purchasing at the grocery store thinking I was all out.

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Nectarines and amaretto (or just almonds) go together like blueberries and maple syrup (that is, perfectly). The flavours just complement each other. If you have a bit of amaretto to splash in the cake batter, awesome. If not, good ol’ vanilla will suffice. It’s a great coffee cake and makes a fab summer dessert with a dollop of fresh whipped cream.

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Nectarine Amaretto Crumble Cake 

Ingredients

For the cake:

2 eggs, room temperature if possible

1 cup granulated sugar

A splash of amaretto, or 2 tsp vanilla essence

1 cup cake flour, sifted

1 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup milk

3 Tbsp butter

3-4 ripe peaches, peeled and roughly chopped

For the crumble:

1/4 cup cold butter

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/2 cup granulated sugar

Directions:

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees (190 degrees Celsius, no fan). Line a spring form pan with parchment or butter and flour generously. Set aside.
  • In your stand mixer or using a hand mixer, beat the eggs, sugar and amaretto or vanilla until you reach the ribbon stage (very pale yellow in colour; doubled in volume). Sift the dry ingredients into the egg mixture and mix until just barely combined.
  • Heat the milk and butter in a small saucepan until the milk boils. Immediately take it off the heat, add it into the batter and mix on high for 20 seconds until everything is nicely combined. Use a spatula to scrape down the side and fold the batter a few times to make sure everything is incorporated.
  • Fold the chopped peaches into the batter and pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • In a separate bowl, use your hands to combine and crumble the butter, ground almonds and sugar. When the mixture is coarse and crumbly, sprinkle over the top of the cake.
  • Bake the cake until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 40 minutes (it may take longer so keep an eye on it!).
  • Cool in the pan for 15 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. It will keep for 3-4 days if covered.

* For extra crunch, add some chopped or slivered almonds into the crumble – I didn’t have any this time but will add them the next time for sure. 

* Make this cake gluten-free by substituting the hot milk sponge with an almond sponge (recipe here).
 
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Lately…

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Hi All!

I’ve got a lot to say before I head to Canada on Thursday. Here’s a bit of a (random) round-up of what’s been going on in my world these past few weeks:

Silage Cookin’:

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‘Tis the season! The farm is buzzing with activity as we race against the weather to get all the silage cut and gathered. Of course, this means we depend on our neighbours, friends and family for help. Having plenty of good eats on hand is a must to show our appreciation of everyone’s hard work.

I spent the majority of last week baking and cooking; keeping the kitchen stocked for when the workers could pop in for a cup of tea. Working in the hot weather is just the worst, but it’s the best time to do silage, unfortunately!

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Wexford Food Festival: 

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A few Sundays ago Pat, Maeve and I headed to Wexford town to check out their yearly food festival. I had never been to Wexford so I was excited to see the town and check out the Artisan Food Market (which featured lots of local artisan products as well as a selection from Wales). I loved the curry samples on offer and Pat enjoyed a pulled pork bap.

I wandered around Greenacres before lunch. What a great shop! They have an amazing selection of European wines, local cheeses and fine foods. They also stock an excellent array of kitchen supplies. I’ll be back to stock my kitchen as we renovate the farm house in Tipp.

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For lunch, we went to a lovely Italian restaurant called La Dolce Vita. The owner is really outgoing and makes a great bowl of pasta (and the bread… the bread!). I ordered a bowl of bucatini amatriciana and it was perfect. Al dente noodles, fresh tomato sauce with just the right amount of heat from the chilies.

Ballymaloe Litfest:

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The weekend before Wexford, my friend Grace (who works as a television food stylist and was visiting from Toronto), Maeve and I went to Ballymaloe Litfest. It was even better than last year, if that’s possible.

The farmer’s market in The Big Shed had a great variety of food producers (including some of my favourites – Highbank Orchards, Ballyhoura Mushrooms and Rocket Man to name a few), there was a cookbook shop set up in another of the sheds and the usual workshops and discussion groups were well put-together.

Rene Redzepi, Sami Tamimi and Yotam Ottolenghi were just a few of the fantastic chefs involved in this annual festival. I met Yotam and we bonded over our napping children – neither of whom slept well the night before. He’s a lovely man.

Larder:

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This is a new shop on The Quay in Waterford specializing in local artisanal products. They also serve coffee and offer daily, fresh baked goods. The spelt brown bread is addictive and the owner, Patrick, is the kind of inspirational businessman you want to support and see succeed. I’d love to see more of these vacant shops on The Quay revitalized the way Patrick’s done to Larder – it’s trendy and well stocked, with seating out on the sidewalk to sit and enjoy your cuppa on nice days.

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Cupcake Heaven:

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Another great Waterford business. I was in Kaffeine (on the pedestrian shopping street) to get a latte before catching the bus and the girl behind the counter gave me one of their cupcakes to try. The cupcakes are made by a group called Cupcake Heaven and they are, hands down, the best in Waterford. They always have samples in the coffee shop so go in for a taste! My favourites are the coffee and chocolate.

Top 50 Restaurants in Canada:

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto

Auberge du Pommier, Toronto

On May 22nd, the 3rd annual Top 50 Restaurants in Canada list was launched by Vacay.ca. I chaired the Top 50 again for the second year and had such a great experience. We had fabulous judges, including some of Canada’s most iconic chefs, and everyone seemed happy to be involved.

As with any restaurant list, it’s hard to really “rate” a restaurant – I mean, at the end of the day, it’s a personal opinion. But I really believe this list is a great resource for anyone planning a foodie visit to almost any part of Canada and I’m proud it’s so democratically driven.

Botched Attempt at Father’s Day?

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So, since Mother’s Day is on two different days in Canada and in Ireland I figured it must be the same for Father’s Day. I must not have been reading the signs, but in Tipperary there were all kinds of “last minute” things on sale for Father’s Day. I assumed that must mean Father’s Day was last (last) Sunday. I got Pat a little present and a card from Maeve and made him his favourite breakfast, only to find out Father’s Day actually took place this past weekend. *facepalm* I’m blaming baby brain.

He still got a sleep in, a nice breakfast and a family hike out to the Devil’s Bit near Templemore (will post about that soon).

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Happy Father’s Day anyway, Pat. I’ll get it right next year. (Also: Maeve’s first taste of nutella!).

Crazy Full Moon at the Farm:

I took this shot the other night after a long day of hauling/cutting the silage:

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Cool, huh? Apparently we won’t see a moon like that again in our lifetime (at least, not on a Friday the 13th).

Ombre Obsession:

Last but not least, here’s my first attempt as an ombre cake:

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I’ll leave you with that.

Until next time! xx

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