Chestnut, Italian sausage and sage stuffing

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c.hall 2015

 

Growing up in a house of seven kids meant the holidays were bound to be chaotic, exciting, noisey, and gift wrapping everywhere! Looking back I appreciate those somewhat wild Thanksgiving Christmas mornings. This year I’ll be spending Christmas Eve working but hopefully I’ll make it down to Bere Island for a feast with my sister, aunts, uncles and cousins. I’m missing my parents, siblings, and friends so much this season-homesickness pulled on my heart strings hugely last week on Thanksgiving-but I’ll be seeing everyone in SF soon enough!

Let’s get to the food now! Stuffing has to be on the top of my favorite sides. My Mom has always made the best stuffing, and it was always the side that was piled high and deep(I’m lookin’ at you Dave!). I decided to play around with a stuffing of my own, using a flavor that is sung about and roasted-CHESTNUTS. I picked up my appreciation for the flavor when I did my work experience last year in Italy. It was everywhere: sweet and savory. It’s such a seasonal treat, and your dinner guests will be wowed!

Here is my Chestnut, Italian sausage and sage stuffing: (Serves about 7-8)

1 and about a half cups butter

2 tablepoons seaweed oil (I LOVE this Wild Atlantic product)

1 large white onion roughly chopped

3 garlic cloves, diced

3 stalks of celery sliced about half an inch

1/4 cup sage chopped

2 large sourdough loaves (pulse these 2 into breadcrumbs, and it should make about 9 cups of breadcrumbs)

1 pound Italian sausage (remove casings) roughly sliced and chopped

1/2 cup chestnuts roasted

2 large eggs

3 cups hot stock

Salt and pepper

To roast the chestnuts: Preheat oven to 200C. Using a small knife cut an X into the skin of each chestnut. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil, and bake chestnuts for 30 minutes, or until skins open. You can then peel the skin off the chestnut.

While the chestnuts are roasting, prep all your other other ingredients, pulse your loaves of bread into crumbs, chop, dice etc. Preheat oven to 175C. Put bread crumbs in a big mixing bowl. Have a deep baking dish set to the side.

Heat 1 cup of the butter (set aside the other half) and a drop of oil in a sauce pan, and saute onions and garlic(season with salt and pepper) until soft and just golden brown, then add the chopped celery until just soft, remove and put in the mixing bowl with the bread. In that same saucepan, cook off sausages until brown. When they’re brown, should  take about 8-9 minutes, add the sausage to the mixing bowl.

Melt that extra half cup of butter, add to breadcrumb mixture. Whisk the eggs, and pour over the breadcrumb mixture. Then add the stock. Season well with salt and pepper. Give the breadcrumb mixture a really good mix. Pour into a deep baking, cover with foil, and baking for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, uncover, and bake for another 20. Let the stuffing sit for 10 minutes before serving, and dig in!

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c.hall2015

 

 

 

 

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Hot Toddy Cake with buttercream and caramelized apples

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

 

Cold winter nights call for hot toddies and Irish coffees. My parents recently visited and a made this cake minus the booze, so when I made it a second time I decided to throw a little Irish whiskey in it-it is the season after all!

This cake is a plate of warmness. It’s really easy, festive, and it’s a show stopper when you pile of the caramelized apples. Plus, it’s also really quick and easy; a simple loaf cake with an adult party twist.

Hot toddy cake:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

2 tablespoons cinnamon

Pinch of nutmeg

3 tablespoons butter softened

2 eggs

3/4 greek yogurt cup greek yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

3 tablespoons whiskey

 

I used my Whiskey frosting from my Chocolate Stout Cake, but just cut back on the ingredients

 

To caramelize apples: Melt butter in a sillet or frying pan, add about 1/4-1/2 cup of sugar. Stir until sugar has melted (this takes about a minute). Add sliced apples and saute until golden.

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

 

In a mixing bowl, soften the butter with your mixer until pale. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Then add the eggs ONE AT A TIME. Then add the vanilla extract and Greek yogurt. Now you’ll sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the cinnamon and nutmeg. Bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Once cool, spread on the buttercream and pile on the caramelized apples. Yummmay!

 

Barry’s Tea Cupcakes and White Chocolate Frosting

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

This is my new favorite cupcake! It’s a fluffy vanilla cupcake with a twist! And it’s celebrating Irish produce, and I’m all about supporting and promoting local. These would be a perfect recipe for ‘high tea’ (just make them mini cupcakes, and they’d be so cute!), Mother’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, or an awesome birthday gift for a tea-lover (which living here, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t like tea!).

The frosting is only two ingredients and makes for a nice alternative to the usual buttercream or cream cheese frosting I make.

Barry’s tea cupcakes: (This makes about 8-10 cupcakes, depending on the size you want)

4 tea bags

1/2 cup milk (whole or low-fat)

1/2 cup of butter

3/4 cup sugar

2 eggs

1 1/2 cups flour

1 teaspoon vanilla

Preheat oven to 175C. In a small saucepan, bring milk to a boil, add the teabags and let seep for about 10-12 minutes or more. The longer, the better and stronger flavor. While you’re letting the tea seep, in a mixing bowl cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the eggs the eggs ONE AT A TIME. Then add your vanilla, followed by the milk (minus the tea bags!). Add in the flour, but by bit (as you do, be sure to scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl as you go!). Divide the batter into the paper cups, and bake for approximately 12 minutes or until golden brown. While cooling, make your frosting!

For the frosting: (This is a small batch, but can easily be doubled)

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup white chocolate (chips, chopped, whatever you have!)

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter and white chocolate over a low to medium heat. Give a good stir, it will look like the butter and the chocolate are separating-that is okay! When melted and smooth, take off heat and bring to room temperature. Then stick the saucepan in the fridge until it solidifies (Have to play the waiting game, but so worth it!). Then beat until a smooth frosting!

Cheddar and thyme risotto

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

Risotto holds a special place in my heart: it was one of the first dishes  I cooked for my family on Valentine’s Day a couple of years ago, that everyone was impressed with(myself included!); it was my first night in Ristorante da Fiore in Venice(if you don’t know, was named the fifth best restaurant IN THE WORLD!) and I was expected to cook risotto for a customer in 17 minutes-no pressure-I completed in, just over 17 minutes.

I decided to make this traditional Italian dish, but with a twist-I used Irish cheddar instead of the usual Parmesan (the guys at da Fiore are probably laughing at me!). It came out really really really nice, but really heavy-so a small bowl will do! I also made way too much of it but lunch and dinner over the next couple of days was sorted!

In some way, risotto is a labor of love, but I also find it quite therapeutic. You can totally forget about whatever stresses and worries you have over the stove.

Here’s the recipe for cheddar and thyme risotto: (Serves about 4)

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon oil

1 onion diced

1 clove of garlic

1 1/2  cups Arborio rice

1 cup dry white wine

3 cups of hot stock (I used vegetable, but you can use chicken, beef, etc)

3/4 cup grated Cheddar cheese (I used Carbery sharp cheddar)

1 bunch of thyme (remove leaves from stems)

In a medium saucepan, melt a tablespoon of butter and oil. Add onion and garlic, sweat until soft. Add the rice, give a stir so the rice is well coated (about a minute or two). Add the wine, and cook for another two minutes. Then add the stock, ONE CUP AT A TIME, allowing the stock to be fully absorbed. You’ll want the rice to be just tender and creamy (about 20 minutes). Add the thyme and grated cheese, and mix well. Season with salt and pepper, give another mix, and serve hot!

Enjoy!

Celebration cake

When it comes to baking and cooking, I love to challenge myself and learn new techniques and methods.  I have never used or made fondant but I really enjoyed playing around with it!

Here’s my first fondant cake bake, check it out! Blessings and congratulations to Miss Evelyn! xo

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015
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c.hall 2015

The flavor was vanilla, a maple buttercream, and crushed strawberries.

Maple white chocolate chip cookies

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

A twist on the classic, these should come with a warning because they are ADDICTIVE! They are also another quick and easy bake.

Maple white chocolate chip cookies:

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup butter

approx 1/2 cup maple syrup

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 cup white chocolate chips

Optional: add 3/4 cup toasted walnuts for extra crunch

In a mixing bowl, beat the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup until well combined — the mixture will have the consistency of wet sand. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth. Add the flour, baking soda and salt and stir until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips (and walnuts if adding); stir until just blended. Put the dough in the fridge for about 20 minutes. After the dough is a chilled, drop about a tablespoons about two inches apart from one another on a parchment lined baking tray. (or you can roll the tablespoons of dough in your hands and flatten each a little with your hand). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.

Strawberry cinnamon swirl loaf cake

That’s a mouthful! One of my favorite fruits has always been the strawberry. And here in Ireland, we are spoiled when it comes to strawberry season, as it really is like candy! I like to experiment with fruits and veg when they’re in season. Even though still on crutches, I’m not letting that hold me back, but have been sticking with easy baking. So down below is a super yummy, really easy loaf cake. It’s packed with one of my favorite spices, cinnamon, and shows off those gorgeous strawberries! Pairs really well with your morning coffee/tea or as an after dinner dessert.

Strawberry cinnamon swirl loaf cake:

Grease and flour a loaf tin. Preheat oven to 165C.

Ingredients:

2 cups flour

1 cup sugar

3 teaspoons baking powder

3 tablespoons butter softened

2 eggs

3/4 greek yogurt cup greek yogurt

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

approximately 1 cup of strawberries(about half a cup whole, but you’ll slice the strawberries)

In a mixing bowl, soften the butter with your mixer until pale. Add the sugar and beat until combined. Then add the eggs

ONE AT A TIME. Then add the vanilla extract and Greek yogurt. Now you’ll sift in the flour and baking powder. Add in the

cinnamon. Then fold in the strawberries.  Pour batter into tin, and with a knife, trace the figure ‘8’ back and forth(this creates

the swirl!) Bake for 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Yumo!

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

Easy Blondies Bombshells

Lately I have an obsession with blondies! My recipe is pretty similiar to a chocolate chip cookie but it loaded with other sweets, so it’s quite the decadent blondie. With summer here, sandwich a scoop of vanilla ice cream with two of these loaded blondies, and you’ve got yourself an extraordinary ice cream sandwich!!

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Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups flour

1 cup brown sugar

1 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup butter

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 cup of chocolate, chopped in a variety of sizes (or chocolate chips)

1/2 cup  marshmallows

Preheat oven to  160C. Grease and flour a brownie tin.

Beat the eggs, and set aside. Melt the butter, pour in a mixing bowl. Then, add the sugar and beaten eggs and mix until blended. Add the dry ingredients, and vanilla extract. Fold in the chocolate and marshmallows. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Let cool and cut into squares.

Crazy Good BBQ Sauce

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015

About three years ago I visited my friend in Texas, where I was introduced to homemade barbecue sauce. Ever since, I have been hooked! I have even said “I could drink bbq sauce!” There are so many varieties out there, so many brands, but so many additives. Why not bring a jar of your homemade bbq sauce to your next spring/summer grill out? Your friends and family will be highly impressed. I flavored mine with honey and whiskey(today happens to be National Whiskey Day!) and it’s lovely on sliders or pulled pork sandwiches!

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Carmel’s Crazy Good BBQ Sauce: 1 onion-chopped 4 cloves of garlic-chopped 1 can of chopped tomatoes 2 tablespoons tomato paste ½ cup of brown sugar 2 tablespoons honey Pinch of chili flakes or two-three tablespoons hot sauce 1/3-1/4 cup of Worcestershire sauce 3/4 cup whiskey Using a heavy bottom sauce pan, cook onion and garlic in whiskey until transluscent, about 10-12 minutes. Stir in remaining ingredients. Bring the pot to a boil, and simmer away for an hour to an hour and a half. Pour through a sieve or pour the mix into a blender/food processor and blend until smooth. Store in sterilized, air-tight jars, it should keep for three weeks. Enjoy!

Vegan cinnamon rolls

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Pajamas, a cup of coffee, a good book, and a gooey, fluffy, warm cinnamon roll are what lazy days are made of! Although vegan(well not quite 100% vegan), these are incredibly decadent and you won’t want to stop at just one! These do take about an hour and half rising time, and another fifteen minutes for baking, but they are SO worth it!

Here’s what you’ll need for your lazy morning or your next brunch:

The dough:

4 cups of flour (gf)

1 tbsp dry yeast

½ cup of sugar

2 cups of almond milk (adds a really nice, yet subtle flavor)

½ cup vegan butter (Earth Balance brand)

½ tsp baking soda

½ tspn baking powder

½ tspn salt

The filling(add chocolate chips, chopped dates, raisins, or chopped nuts for a twist!):

½ cup melted butter

½ cup sugar

¾ cup cinnamon

The icing:

¼ cup butter

¼ almond milk

½ cup powdered/icing sugar

3 tspn cream cheese

In small saucepan, warm almond milk and butter up over a medium heat(DO NOT BOIL, just until butter has melted). While milk and butter are warming, put flour, sugar, and yeast in a large mixing bowl. Make a well in the center of flour mix, and out in milk and butter mix, stir until mixed completely. Cover with cling film/plastic wrap or a tea towel and let dough rise for one hour.

After one hour, completely mix in baking soda, powder and salt. Flour your counter top, and you’ll form the dough in a rectangle shape. Roll out your dough fairly thin(about half an inch). Now, it’s time for the filling! Brush on the melted butter, then sprinkle on the sugar, followed by the cinnamon. Roll the dough towards you (keep it pretty tight). Your dough will look like a snake, cut the snake into about one inch slices. Place in your choice of pans or a long dish. Let rise for another thirty minutes. While rising, preheat oven to 190C.

After thirty minutes, bake in oven for fifteen minutes or until golden brown. To make icing, simply melt cream cheese and butter, and whisk in almond milk and icing sugar. Serve warm, with icing drizzled on or with the icing to the side.

c.hall 2015
c.hall 2015