#ScrumptiousSunday – Family Dinner & Beef Wellington

Nothing beats a family dinner, especially a home cooked one, so whenever Derek and I get the chance to invite family for a meal, we jump at the chance. 😉 A few months back, my Dad’s brother Norbert and his wife Birgit (who happens to be my wonderful God Mother) came to Ireland for their first visit in many many years. As a part of that visit, Derek and I wanted to host them and my parents, in our little apartment that we had at the time, for dinner. There’s just something special about playing host to family members, who always hosted you as a child.

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Of course we wanted to serve up something very special, so we went with a recipe created by the man himself – Gordon Ramsay.

We found his very popular Beef Wellington Recipe online, after seeing it served over and over again in his various TV shows, and tried our best to recreate that for dinner for our family. The challenge? My parents don’t eat carbohydrates, so we needed to find a way to cook for them that didn’t include the usual puff pastry wrapping.

Original Recipe here: https://www.gordonramsay.com/gr/recipes/beef-wellington/

We followed the recipe precisely for my Aunty and Uncle and ourselves, but had to get creative with the dish for my parents. We wrapped the roast and mushroom layer in another layer of parma ham instead of puff pastry and then wrapped the whole thing in baking paper, which we tied tightly with oven safe string. This allowed the beef, flavours and mushroom layer to cook beautifully, at the same time as the normal Wellingtons, while keeping in all the juices and flavours, without burning the ham layer (and keeping it completely carb free 😀 ).

We served the Wellingtons with mashed potatoes (mashed cauliflower for my parents), chilly string beans and sautéed garlic mushrooms.

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For dessert? Chef Ramsay’s no-bake cheesecake (with the ground digestive biscuits replaced with fresh fruit, and the sugar replaced with Stevia sweetener for my parents). I regret that decision now… because now I can’t go to my Dad’s house for dinner, without having to make that dessert. 😉 hahahaha

It was a wonderful evening, and we had loads of fun recreating some of these iconic recipes. The preparation was actually really simple and yet the flavours so rich and complex, that the evening was a complete success. If you’ve ever struggled to find a show stopping Sunday recipe, this might be for you. 😀

 

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Avengers Style Shwarma – #ScrumptiousSunday

In an attempt to avoid decision fatigue and to not waste food, Derek and I prefer to pre-plan our weekly meals. It makes shopping more efficient, and means that we don’t have to play the “What should we eat?” game every evening.

Added bonus? We always know what diner we get to look forward to in the evening. 🙂

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One of my favourite meals this week was the Avengers inspired Shwarma, and so, with this being #ScrumptiousSunday I thought I’d share a few highlights and show you where to find the recipe if you wish to re-create it.

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The Geeky Chef’s Cookbook – find it here: http://www.geekychef.com/

It turned out awesome, if I do say so myself; especially when paired with Greek Salad.

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Thanks for reading. #ScrumptiousSunday

Around the World in 26 Breakfasts – #5 Switzerland 

The whole point of this blog project is to bring a little bit of the worlds cuisine into our own kitchens; but if I can try the food right at the source, no one would blame me, right? 😉 

Derek and I have been spending Easter Weekend 2015 in Switzerland with the wonderful family of a fellow blogger and dear friend “Schnubsi Mama” from “Schnubsi’s Fadenkiste” (who made a fantastic handbag for me, under the condition: I had to come and collect it myself!) 🙂 and they have been more hospitable and kind than we could have ever dreamed of.

They took us sightseeing, out to dinners and invited us to spend time with their magical little family, all of which I will very happily post about soon. 

However, it’s needless to say that we were also welcome at their breakfast table, and this is what we found there: 

  

It was picturesque, fresh and delicious, almost like they had read the Swiss Tourist Information website. 

Quotation: “In Switzerland, breakfast typically includes bread, butter or margarine, marmalade or honey, maybe some cheese or cereals, plus milk, cold or hot chocolate, tea or coffee.” 

A selection of bread rolls and croissants  along with various toppings (hearty and sweet), accompanied by boiled eggs, juice and fresh coffee made this a true treat.

Some of the really interesting items were:   

Fresh Strawberries! Yum!

Various Cheeses – of course! 

Grobe Teewurst – “rough tea-sausage” This is a delicious smoked minced meat; also jokingly called “Bauarbeiter Marmelade” which translates to “Construction Workers Jam”.

  

A herby cream cheese spread.

  

Derek’s favourite: Fleischsalad (meat salad) 

 

Black Current Jam 

All in all, the Swiss breakfast table feels very continental, fresh and hearty but as with all meals, it’s the company that is the best ingredient. 😀

As always, thanks for reading and take care! xoxo

Around the World in 26 Breakfasts – #4 The Netherlands

It’s Saturday and time for something sweet and there is no better way than to get right back into my sorely neglected “Around the World in 26 Breakfasts” series; today with the sweetest breakfast you ever did taste – “Zoet Beleg” (or sweet topping) from the Netherlands.

Now, I have three fabulous Dutch colleagues who, when asked about breakfast in the Netherlands, unanimously cried: HAGEL SLAG! *insert my raised eyebrow of confusion here*

They went on to explain to me that the best Dutch breakfast is bread with a sweet topping “zoet beleg” and that the best topping is “hagel slag” which translates to hail fall (or more literally hail hitting [your bread]). 😀

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The stickers are to teach me just what each type is called.

In case you’re still confused – it’s chocolate sprinkles. That’s right: sugary chocolatey goodness quite literally sprinkled onto bread. Where was this when I was growing up?

Now, one of these lovely colleagues brought me back my very own authentic boxes of “zoet beleg” and “hagel slag” when she recently went home for a visit, so that I could show them off here. It turns out that there are several different flavours, so let’s get right tucked in! 🙂

Zoet Beleg – sweet topping (usually the spread)

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There are four flavours in the box; each with varying degrees of interesting names image4(from left to right on the box print):

1) Appel stroop – Apple Syrup (what??)

2) Honig – Honey (oh, okay)

3) Chocoldepasta – Chocolate paste (is it like Nutella??)

4) Pinda kaas – Peanut cheese (which I am assured is peanut butter, they just call it cheese…?)

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Then there are “hagel slag” (the hail sprinkles) and “vlokken” which are bigger, chunkier flakes! Yum!

Upon closer inspection there are actually 5 varieties hidden in this gem of a box, so I shall break them down here:

1) Chocoladehagel Puur – Pure Chocolate Hail (dark chocolate)

2) Chocoladehagel Melk – Milk Chocolate Hail

3) Vruchtenhagel – Fruit Hail (I’m just rolling with it at this point.)

4) Chocoladevlokken Puur – Pure Chocolate Flakes

5) Chocoladevlokken Melk – Milk Chocolate Flakes

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So yeah – delicious!

As far as recipes go, this is pretty simple.. If you can’t get your hands on real Dutch “De Ruijter” zoet beleg, you can always substitute the honey, peanut butter and chocolate spread with the generic kind you have at home and raid your baking cupboard for chocolate (or fruity) sprinkles and/or flakes. You then get your favourite bread (it doesn’t matter what kind) and some butter and get going.

You can obviously use the spreads without butter, but common sense (and the authority of my Dutch friends) dictates, that butter is required for the sprinkle variety, otherwise they will just roll off your bread.

Spreading sprinkley Saturday sweetness!! I love it! 😀

There will be no kid friendly version needed here, since this about as child friendly as it gets… haha but we could make an adult version where we use fancier bread and maybe enrich the butter by whipping it with some booze … a cream liquor perhaps? 😉 Or Oranjebitter (an orange-flavored brandy, which is traditionally served on festivities surrounding the Dutch royal family.)

No matter which way you try it, it’s the most perfect way to regress to a childlike state… I actually think I am going to take mine and curl up with some cartoons. Sailor Moon anyone?

BONUS: I have always been dreadfully confused about the difference between “The Netherlands” and “Holland” and a fantastic YouTuber named C.G.P. Grey has made an excellent video that finally clears it up for us all. I figured you all might enjoy it too! https://youtu.be/eE_IUPInEuc

As always thanks for reading, take care and enjoy your Saturday Morning treat! 🙂 xoxoxo

Around the World in 26 Breakfasts – #3 France

In this weeks addition of “Around the World in 26 Breakfasts” we are heading to France, and the creation of the delicious all butter croissant.

I have it on good authority that in France breakfasts are usually very light and quick, yet still very delicious. Traditionally the French would enjoy a pastry, such as either an all butter croissant or a sweet brioche, along with a coffee, usually a Café au lait before beginning their day, with more emphasis put on lunch and dinner. That is not to say though that the croissant is easy or even humble, no no, it is a very delicate thing to master and extremely decadent to enjoy. 🙂

I found this recipe on the YouTube Channel of Sorted Food, I have linked the recipe from their website in their name there on the left, and I will include a link to the original video at the bottom of this article. It was an incredibly helpful and easy step by step guide to follow, although they most certainly made certain things look a lot simpler than they actually are. 😀

You will need: 

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  • mixing bowls (medium to large)
  • a scale
  • measuring cups
  • a glass
  • a teaspoon
  • a rolling pin
  • baking paper (paper or silicone)
  • cookie skeet/baking tray (not pictured)
  • wooden spoon or spatula
  • pizza cutter (it’s easiest, trust me)

Ingredients:

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  • 2 tsp dried yeast
  • 250 ml whole milk
  • 30 g melted butter
  • 230 g cold salted butter
  • 25 g caster sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 60 ml warm water
  • 1 egg (for egg wash)
  • 350 g plain flour

Method:

Place your yeast in a glass with 60ml warm water, and add a pinch of sugar. Stir and set aside. IMG_0653

Measure and melt your small portion of butter:

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Now add your flour, remaining sugar, melted butter, milk and yeast into a large mixing bowl and mix thoroughly until you have a (lump free) sticky dough.

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Place your sticky dough in the fridge for about 30 minutes to rise and while that’s setting, get on to preparing the rest of your butter. For this, you are going to want to place your stick of butter (room temperature) on a generous amount of wax/baking paper and then squish, squash and beat it until it’s an evenly shaped rectangle of butter, approximately 1 cm thick. (This is one of those steps that the video made look SIGNIFICANTLY easier; it took me almost 10 minutes and I had to do it on the floor…

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It was not pretty… IMG_0670trying to get it into the right shape without having one end too fat or too thin and not having it triangular either, was actually quite tricky, but after a few experiments and some good use the wax paper as a guide, I got there in the end: a perfect slab of butter.

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The slab of butter then also goes into the fridge to chill until your dough is done its full 30 minutes. Once the dough is ready, flour your baking surface and roll out your sticky dough into a large rectangle, of about 2 cm thick. You want it to be large enough to fit the slab of butter in the middle and have generous amounts of dough on either end to fold over the butter.

Like so:

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This is how Croissants get their layers. The yeast rises, but the individual buttery layers are created by the butter in the middle. Now, of course a single layer of butter won’t do, so we need to fold this several times; this process is called laminating.

You gently fold your dough into thirds, roll it out again, and repeat the process.

So at this point you will have folded the first rectangle into thirds, rolled it out again (carefully to maintain the shape), folded that into thirds, turned it 90 degreed and repeat again. (Math: you folded it into thirds three times.) I know this sounds confusing, but that’s why I’ll link the sorted video right here; because they showed it best: SORTED Croissants 

It should look a little something like this when you’re done (the first time):

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You then flour yourself a tray and pop your folded dough on there and into the fridge for 45 minutes. Once the time is up you repeat the laminating. You take it out of the fridge, roll it out, fold it thrice and do that 2 more times and pop it back into the fridge for another 45 minutes, before you repeat that process one last time. Meaning you will have laminated your dough 3 times in total. As you can imagine, this has now created countless layers of butter within that dough, which is why it is so important to fold and not “squish”.

From here you let your dough rise overnight.

MATH BONUS: 

First fold causes 3 layers of butter, then you fold again making 9, folding again making 27 layers of butter by the end of the first lamination. In your second lamination you are folding 27 layers of butter on top of each other 3 times (81 layers), before repeating the process a second time bringing your folds to 243. Your third and final lamination will as such first bring you to 729 and then finally 2,187 layers of butter. All of a sudden this makes sense:

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You can even see the layers in the rolled out dough!! 

The next day, you take your dough which should now look something like this:

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Flour your surface and roll your dough out nice and evenly, until it’s about as thick as a one pound coin. From there, use your pizza cutter to trim the edges so that you have a nice and even square shape.

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Then, cut the dough into long triangles, stretch the bottom corners out a little bit and cut out a tiny triangle at the bottom to avoid it getting too doughy. You immediately start to roll the triangle from the bottom to the top, holding on to the tip so that the dough is tight not loose. The finishing touch is to tuck the tip to the bottom of your roll and slightly bend the whole roll into a crescent shape… a croissant.

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My lovely hubby helped me out with this part. 😀

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BONUS:

Derek and I can’t stand wasting the left over dough, so we very gently laid it all next to each other, laminated them over and over again until they regained one smooth dough shape (to save the layers) and then we turned them into two, yummy, pain au chocolat.

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Finally, you get all of this yumminess on a tray, add some egg wash and get it into your preheated oven, baking at 220°C for 15 minutes.

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(Make sure to use the proper oven setting, otherwise they might get a bit doughy.)

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Pull your croissants out of the oven and set on a wire rack to cool.

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Serve warm or cold, with a dollop of any jam that you like!

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Voilà! You have French Croissants! 😀

There is no child proof recipe variation needed here, since it is easy and delicious for the entire family. 😀

Now, I did not have an opportunity to make a lovely café au lait to go with this, however I do want to show you the lovely massive French cups of coffee that you could expect to see with breakfast in France, since they are traditionally as large as bowls and beautifully presented.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy French Croissants? Please share down in the comments! Don’t forget to check out Sorted Food for more amazing recipes right along with the original of this one; they even have an app that you can get for your Apple device. 😀

As always, thanks for reading and take care. xoxo

Around The World in 26 Breakfasts – #2 Ireland

This week, I wanted to do something completely different and completely underestimated just how many ingredients I was missing for my chosen breakfast, so instead I turned to another comfort food of mine – the humble Irish Fry.

In the Republic of Ireland you have a “Full Irish Breakfast” which consists of the the following:

A fried egg, a sausage, bacon*, white or black pudding**, a fried tomato and toast. Optional extras are mushrooms and beans, as well as orange juice, tea (or coffee) and brown bread.

At a Hotel or B&B it typically looks something like this:

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Image Credit: http://goo.gl/3vfnic

(*please note, that in Canada and the US “bacon” is most commonly expected to be pork belly strips and are usually cooked to be extra crispy, in Ireland and the UK “bacon” commonly refers to strips of back bacon and is thus wider and usually cooked to be more “cooked” rather than crispy. If you like your bacon crispy and you’re on vacation here, make sure to express that very clearly.)

(**white & black pudding definition for you here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_pudding )

Now, in the ancient province of Ulster (Northern Ireland including the Counties of Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan) breakfast looks almost the same, with exception of a few differences:

There are usually 2 of everything (2 eggs, 2 sausages, 2 bacon strips, 2 tomato halves, black & white pudding) and the optional mushrooms and beans are considered part of the staple. Add to this farls (or slices) or soda bread, potato bread and toast, together with coffee or tea and you have a classic (massive) “Ulster Fry”, which usually means you can skip lunch.

At a hotel or B&B it would look something like this:

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Image credit: http://goo.gl/B3mn47

Every once in a while, this monstrous breakfast is lovely even outside of holiday days, such as on a rainy Sunday in Belfast. Regrettably I did not have any white or black pudding handy and my local store didn’t stock any either (which is a shame, since I am rather fond of black pudding)… so I had to make due without. But without any further ado, here is my own version of these two classics… The Ireland Fry. hahaha

You will need:

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– Two frying pans (one small, one larger)

– A small saucepan (or a microwave proof dish)

– a spatula (or fish slice, which ever you prefer to call the flippy thing)

– a spoon or spatula

– a good knife and a cutting board

Ingredients:

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– Eggs

– Sausages

– Bacon

– Potato Bread (recipe for homemade here: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/irish-potato-farls/ )

– tomato

– mushrooms (fresh or canned)

– Baked Beans (can it be anything but Heinz?)

– Butter (Kerrygold, I don’t know why, it’s just my favourite.)

The amounts you use completely depend on how many people you’re cooking for, since my hubby was at work this Sunday, I made this just for myself.

Method:

Slice up your tomatoes and mushrooms, and decide last minute to add some mixed garden herbs and garlic.

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Fry in the small pan with a dollop of butter on low heat.

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Next, get your bacon and your sausages into the larger pan and fry on medium heat. (You can cook them separately if you wish, I just wasn’t patient enough…)

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All the while have your beans waiting in their little saucepan or microwavable dish. These are literally the last things you want to heat up though, because that is all you’re doing, very quickly heating them up. So have this ready but don’t start them just yet.

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Once the bacon and sausages are done, move them to a warm plate (pre warming the plate is optional) and immediately melt more butter in the pan. Add the farls and watch them turn golden brown, flipping occasionally.

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Once you’re mushrooms and tomatoes are done, add them to the warm plate and then fry your egg (I only wanted one) in a little bit of fresh butter in the little pan. (At this point you also want to start heating your beans.)

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Sunny side up, over easy or well done, it doesn’t matter, it’s up to you!

Finally, serve it all onto your plate and enjoy the savoury goodness that is a breakfast that will keep you going until dinner. Perfect to get you revved up for a full day of strenuous work, but also for a lazy day when you only want to the cook once… of course it’s also ideal as a start to a day of fun and distant sightseeing, when you might not come across food for several hours.

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Delicious!!! [It’s the most amazing hangover food by the way, or so I am told anyway… 😉 ]

Child friendly version (ages 3 – 7):

– Scrambled eggs instead of fried (less mess)

– skip the tomatoes and mushrooms (if your child’s a fussy eater)

– cut the sausage up into bite sized pieces (ages 3 – 4 ?)

– to avoid bacon choking (I’ve done that as a child) cut the bacon into tiny pieces and fry into the scrambled egg

– pick one of the breads, not all three, to avoid over eating

– beans are best served in a separate little bowl

Have any of you every tried a classic “Full Irish” or “Ulster Fry” before? Do you have a preference? If you make this at home, just remember, it’s a dish best shared. 😀 Enjoy!

Let me know what you think in the comments and as always, take care and thanks for reading!! xoxox

Homemade Popcorn

It was a little bit of a slow week for me personally, and I have to be honest, I don’t really have the energy to properly dedicate to coming up with just any topic to write about for the sake of writing, so instead… I made my very first batch of homemade popcorn with the awesome popcorn maker that my brother and sister in law got me for Christmas.

This process was so exciting, that I filmed it and made a YouTube Video out of it… Yeah. So that happened.

Here’s the link to the video: http://youtu.be/658mdGE23kc

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What do you add to your popcorn?

As always, thanks for reading (and this time watching) and take care. xoxo